Inbound Marketing Education is in Middle School

Posted on July 25, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Content, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, SEO, Small Business, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

HubSpot Inbound Marketing System

HubSpot Developed an Efficient System for Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing has been around for several years now. It’s the subject of bestselling books by David Meerman Scott and HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah. In fact, HubSpot has surpassed the 5000-customer mark for the Internet-based content management system they invented to put all of the pieces of inbound marketing together.

Yet, when I sit in a roomful of business owners and ask how many people know what inbound marketing is, frequently all hands stay down. Or a hand will shoot up and the eager contributor will say, “Social Media.”

It’s clear to me that we inbound marketers have a lot more work to do educating the marketplace about the approach. Yes, social media is a component of inbound marketing, but it’s only one.

There seems to be pretty widespread awareness of other inbound marketing components, too, like SEO, blogging and email marketing. Yet there’s little awareness of how all of these efforts can coalesce in an effective and measurable process. This post is one of a number I’ve written to help flesh out the process in a way that’s meaningful to business people.

At heart, inbound marketing is just marketing updated to reach our potential customers where they are – online – then to get their interest and win their trust so that when they buy, they buy from us. These days, it’s harder, if not impossible, to find our prospects by advertising in newspapers (why they’re shrinking), by telemarketing (think voicemail), on TV (thanks to TiVo and DVR) and other traditional channels. But future buyers are almost all online – at least enough of them to keep our businesses growing.

Business owners and managers I speak with will often say, “Well, we’re driving lots of traffic to our website, but we’re not sure what it’s getting us.” Then I ask, “What’s your bounce rate? And what are you doing to convert traffic to leads?”

They begin to understand inbound marketing when I explain how it serves as a lead generation and lead nurturing system. When they realize that inbound marketing can be planned and implemented with the objective of helping them reach revenue goals, it becomes a much more interesting idea to explore. It becomes a compelling idea when they recognize that analytics can be integrated and success measured.

There are a lot of steps to inbound marketing. It can seem daunting at first. It does take some re-thinking about how you do marketing. And it does take an investment of time, staff resources and budget. But, properly done, it works and pays big dividends.

I use HubSpot’s content management system for my own company’s inbound marketing. There are other ways to approach and handle inbound marketing using multiple sources. But for me, HubSpot offers the best system, education and support – especially for small to mid-sized companies I work with.

As the product matures, there’s now a developer’s marketplace growing up around HubSpot that’s yielding and will continue to produce plug-ins, variations and customization for the original software, similar to WordPress. They’ve also made some recent acquisitions that will beef up various aspects of the product – including middle-of-the-funnel and larger enterprise functionality.

At minimum, HubSpot walks the walk regarding sharing useful information. The company is a virtual content factory and you can immerse in free educational downloads, blogs and other information, free webinars and a free trial to get a good feel for how inbound marketing works.

In the interest of disclosure, I’m a HubSpot Value Added Reseller in addition to being a user. But I don’t mean this post to be a commercial. I became a VAR because HubSpot is the most intelligent and efficient inbound marketing system I’ve found. It can help my clients to grow their businesses and I can help clients to better utilize the system from the VAR position.

Have you learned enough about inbound marketing to begin implementing it in some form?

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College of Online Marketing: A Never-ending Curriculum

Posted on June 29, 2011. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Media, News, Public Relations Marketing, SEO, Small Business, Social Media, Twitter | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

No Graduation at College of Online

No Graduation at College of Online

I just spent 30 minutes getting up to speed on the Google+ Project announced yesterday – Google’s new social media network, currently in a limited field trial. It’s quite interesting and I’ll explore it further with you as it rolls out to everyone.

The point of this post, though, is that when it comes to keeping up with online/inbound marketing, we need to commit to constant and continuous education. Not a day goes by that I don’t learn about a new tool, app, initiative, issue or trend related to marketing and interacting on the Internet.

It’s exhilarating and sometimes exhausting to be part of such a rapidly evolving profession. But the benefits that Web-based technology can bring my clients – especially small businesses – make it worth burning the midnight oil or rising at summer dawn to read the latest information.

If you’re a business trying to figure out how to market your company online, it’s a good idea to get some background information – even if you are or will be working with an agency or consultant. Here’s a 101 class, a few best-selling books to read and blogs to follow – in addition to this one — that will help you understand how to best use the Web for your marketing.

  • “The New Rules of Marketing & PR,” by David Meerman Scott. Clients of mine are currently reading this and it’s fun to see the lights going on for them as they learn why we’re better off putting resources into blogging than newspaper advertising.
  •  “Real-Time Marketing & PR,” the latest from David Meerman Scott.
  • “Inbound Marketing,” by HubSpot founders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, the guys who defined and automated the inbound marketing process.
  • “Trust Agents,” by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, the bible for understanding how and why the Web can help you build influence, improve your reputation and earn trust.

All of the above are published by John Wiley and Sons. Even if you’ve read them before, they bear perusing again from time to time.

In the blog/online media department, I regularly read:

Another important source of information for me is my online marketing community on Twitter. Follow me, see some of the people I follow, and check out my lists. You can take advantage of the news links they tweet every day.

So welcome to the College of Online Marketing, Class of Forever. Graduation day is not in the picture – unless the Big Power Outage comes. As long as it doesn’t, let’s consider ourselves online marketing lifelong learners.

What are your favorite sources for keeping up with the evolution of the Internet? Thanks for sharing!

Photo by J.o.h.n.Walker under Creative Commons License

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It’s Awesome When Your Content Connects!

Posted on December 5, 2010. Filed under: Blogging, Blogs, Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

This post is dedicated to the thousands of bloggers around the globe who read my last post when it was featured on the WordPress homepage showcase, ‘Freshly Pressed’. First of all, it was amazing to have one of my posts selected from almost half a million posted that day. Second of all, the response was humbling and heart warming. A special thanks to those who commented or hit the ‘Like’ button to share it and welcome to those of you who subscribed.

Although our blogs provide a doorway to the entire world, when people comment on a post it reminds me how much a one-to-one connection it is. So today’s musical post is “Just You, Just Me”, played on several overdubbed tracks by one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time, Bill Evans. Bloggers, it’s from an album ironically titled, “Conversations with Myself” — how our writing often feels.

For businesses, I believe in blogging as a way to share one’s expertise and create thought leadership. Because of its search-ability online, the content we create helps people who are looking for not only our products and services, but also our knowledge and experience, to find us. The knack is to share that info in an authentic and human way that connects.

At the moment we hit the keyboard, it’s hard to know whether what we write will resonate. We can write with our “Buyer Personae” in mind as David Meerman Scott explains in his book, “World Wide Rave”. But when we launch our content into cyber space, we can only hope it reaches its intended destination. Connect With content

The gift of the Internet is that when we connect, it lets us know! Whether it’s your WordPress blog stats, Google Analytics, Hubspot analytics or any of the robust tools out there, the value of our efforts is knowable.

When I wrote the post “10 Reasons Why I ‘Heart’ My Blog,” I didn’t say to myself, “OK, I’m going to sit down now and write some remarkable content.” I was thinking about people I speak to who are not convinced that they can or should blog. In my head I was talking to them and at the same time reminding myself that I want to dedicate more effort to my own blog.

What happened was a post that ended up connecting in a far bigger way than I ever intended. There have been other posts I’ve written that I thought shared meatier information. No one could have been more surprised than I was to receive a flood of response to this post that I wrote on a whim when I had a spare hour to think about blogging as an enjoyable path to success for my clients and myself.

The result reinforced for me in a very personal way that what I’m advocating for others works! When your content really connects it is the most awesome thing!!

Please share some of your stories about how your content has connected.

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Inbound Marketing Summit 2010: Reflections on the Past Year and Where We Are Now

Posted on October 26, 2010. Filed under: Communications, Content, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Internet Research, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Marketing, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

This post reflects on the past year, on the anniversary of this blog. It also looks ahead to how we can each do something new to positively influence our businesses and our lives. A fitting musical post for the topic is Cole Porter’s “From This Moment On” swung by the late, great and gorgeous Lena Horne.

It’s taken me two weeks to finally put down a post about the Inbound Marketing Summit 2010 (IMS10). I’ve already written about the highlights for my upcoming “Working the Web” column in the Fairfield and Westchester County Business Journals. And a video interview I did at IMS10 with Chris Brogan will be posted on the Journals’ website — www.westfaironline.com.

But what I reserve for you, my blog readers, is always a more personal take on things. And I must admit that my reflection on IMS10 is as much a reflection on my past year in business.

Brian Halligan of Hubspot & David Meerman Scott

Top speakers at IMS10

When I attended IMS09 – exactly one year ago — I was an enormous sponge trying to suck up enough knowledge to offer clients credible advice about how to build a web presence and put it to work in support of their business goals. This year I can point to a bunch of success stories – with others in the works.

This year I’m no longer a ‘newbie’. Back in June I wrote in “Working the Web” about what I perceived as the need to connect the dots between the online and offline worlds, as well as our global and local presences. Turns out this was a major theme offered by a number of presenters at IMS10. In one short year, I’ve gone from apprentice to trend setter. This is by no means a self congratulatory statement. Rather it points up the fact that we’re in a new world and everyone’s figuring it out together. No one’s more expert than me. Or you.

There’s only one thing I can say with solid certainty about the new age of marketing and PR: There’s opportunity in them thar hills, my friends. It’s worth taking a deep breath and jumping in. It’s really worth ditching your Yellow Pages ad (finally, please!!) and investing that budget in a website that incorporates the option for a two-way conversation.

Figure out how to find your stakeholders online. It’s so easy you won’t believe it! Then offer them your talents, experience, advice and the passion you have for your business. Do you think they’ll be attracted to that? You can lay a sure bet on it. Once you attract them, talk to them. Listen to them. You’ll build a relationship that leads to business. This stuff works. Here’s a case in point.

A recent client insisted that he didn’t need his company’s new website optimized for search engines because that’s just not how they get their business. It’s all through referrals. That’s great, but I couldn’t believe that there weren’t other opportunities they could tap into using their site.

The client humored me when I told him I couldn’t in all good conscience create a new website without some keyword research and at least basic meta data optimization. PS…Several months later the site is coming up on page one of Google results for important keywords. For certain terms they’re number one and two on page one.

Guess what? They’re getting business from their website!! One reason – beyond my fabulous optimization prowess ;-} – is that few in their industry are doing anything to come up on searches. We’re at a moment where you can still be among the first and the few. All you have to do is do something.

Look, we’re still in a fear-based business climate. But as someone who totally evolved and rebuilt her business in the midst of one of the worst economic climates in our lives, please believe me when I say, “Do something new.” Invest a little in your business marketing – especially online. Do it with some real strategy in mind. Go out to an event or two and listen to what’s going on. Do a Twitter search on a hash tag subject of interest to your business. (Don’t worry. I’ll discuss hash tags next post and some interesting new developments around them.)

Check progress. Connect with some like-minded people. Get energized. That’s what IMS10 did for me.

What’s happened in your business in the last year and how are you re-energizing for the year to come?

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