How to set SMART inbound marketing goals

Google's Master Plan
You’re busy working away at your desk, when an email from your boss comes in.

Management has finally agreed to reallocate some funds next year to update and improve the company’s web presence.

“It’s about time!” you say to yourself.

As the head of marketing, you’ve been pushing - and at times - begging for this to happen for some time now.

For you, its means you’ll no longer have to look at that antiquated website or contact somebody every time you want to add a sentence (or two) to the site or a new page.

It also means, you finally get the chance to put a marketing game plan together. [Read more…]

3 Ways to Make People Fall in Love with Your Blog

Photo by Steve Hankins (Flickr)

The purpose of this blog post isn’t to persuade you to start a “blog.”

If you’ve read this far, I’m going to assume that you already have a blog for your business and inherently understand the benefits of content marketing.

That being said, my goal is to simply provide the “blogging CEO and Business Owner” with a few tips that will help them get more visits to their blog (and website) and - ultimately - make people fall in love with it (translation: get more leads).

[Read more…]

How to use the Internet to drive leads and revenue

An Introduction to Lead Generation

What is a lead?

A lead is someone who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service.  Online, an inbound lead is usually defined as a person that completes a form on a landing page.

A landing page is simply a webpage with a form through which a person supplies contact and business information in exchange for free information they feel is valuable (i.e. white paper, product demonstration, etc.)

The mechanics behind inbound lead generation

If you want to generate inbound leads online for your business you’ll need a few things in place.  From a tactical level, there are 3 crucial elements required to make inbound lead generation happen.

1. Landing pages

Again, landing pages are website pages that have one distinct purpose: lead generation. This page contains a form that captures contact information from a visitor in exchange for an offer.

Below is an example of one of our Landing Pages.

2. Offer

An offer, in the context of lead generation, is either content or a product that has enough perceived value, a person is willing to give their contact information in exchange for access to it.  Typical offers include: e-books, white papers, webinars, free consultations, and demonstrations.

Below is an example of a content offer.  Click here to download it now.

3. Call–to–action

Landing pages and offers are useless if you know one sees them. To send people to a landing page from your website, you’ll need a strong call-to-action (often abbreviated as CTA).  A call-to-action is text, an image or button that links directly to a landing page.

Below is an example of a call-to-action.

Putting it all together: a scenario

A visitor comes to your homepage.

Once there, they see and click a call to action. The CTA takes the visitor to a landing page where they see a description of your offer and have an option to complete and submit a form.

Once the visitor submits the form, they receive your offer and now have a new contact who could be a potential lead.

Lead generation isn’t the end goal

Once a lead arrives in your database (via your website), the real work begins.

Your job is now to quickly assess and qualify the contact to determine if they’re a legit lead. If they’re not, you’ll save yourself some time, while in return, provided some value via your offer. If they have potential, they need to be nurtured with specific content and additional offers until they become ” sales ready” (or not).

Remember, lead generation isn’t the end goal, generating revenue and keeping your customers or clients happy is.  Lead nurturing–using an automated system to send personalized and relevant messages to leads–is probably the most underutilized step of the inbound marketing process.

But if you haven’t already, start with the above.

Build a landing page, create an offer and put calls-to-action on the key areas of your website.  But once you have inbound leads coming in, start looking at ways to nurture those leads in order to move them further down the buying cycle.

For example, a lead at the top of the buying cycle might be more interested in an informational piece like a guide or eBook, whereas a lead who is “sales-ready,” and therefore at the bottom of the cycle, is probably more interested in a free trial or demo.

The good news is you don’t need to pick and choose; create offers for each phase and include calls-to-action to these offers on various pages of your site.

Most important, continue to tweak and test each step of your inbound lead generation process in an effort to improve the quality and reduce your cost per lead.

How to create marketing your prospects will love

How to create Internet marketing your prospects will love

After spending 13 years helping clients with their Internet marketing, I’ve got a confession to make…

I personally don’t like being “marketed” to.

  • My email inbox is essentially bulletproof.  Meaning, I try to keep it spam-free.  As for the emails I subscribe to, the moment they become irrelevant or out of context I immediately “unsubscribe” from them

  • I rarely “click” online ads.  The only time I do is when I can’t find what I’m looking on the first page of Google’s organic search results (Note: online advertising can be useful when it is both targeted and extremely relevant to it’s intended audience. It’s also be very useful when testing out new products or ideas by running “marketing experiments”)

  • I personally use social media, but try to curate the content I receive as much as possible

  • When my wife and I watch TV we always mute the commercials

  • We never answer our home phone when it’s a 1-800 number

  • Our house mailbox has a “no junk mail” sticker on it

That said, I do…

  • Search for and read online content I feel is both useful and action-oriented (based on my current situation)

  • Listen to certain though leaders or people I know or trust

  • Make purchasing decisions only after I’ve done my research online (read reviews or have talked to people who actually use what I’m intending to buy - offline)

I know I’m not alone

When it comes to Internet marketing, I don’t feel I’m alone.

I’ve never meet anyone who wakes up in the morning excited about all the marketing messages they’re going to get assaulted with during the day.

I think the problem can best be described this way.

In life and business, we set both short-term and long-term goals.  Short-term goals give us an immediate reward.  Long-term goals, however, don’t reward us until later.

Clearly, the best way to approach our goals is to align our short-term goals with our long-term goals.  In marketing, however, we often find that short-term goals dominate the decision-making process, which leads to a short-term solution that under performs.

For instance, buying an email list, is a short-term solution.

Yes, you might get rewarded for growing your e-mail list, but in the long-term your list will shrink significantly along with your reputation.

The long-term solution for the same goal–growing your list of email subscribers–can be achieved using an opt-in policy and a compelling offer that appeals to subscribers who are interested in your content and expertise.  In this case, your content is not only useful but also relevant because the person has actually “asked for it.”

This is much more powerful and effective than the short-term solution because, in addition to becoming a subscriber, this person is a potential customer and advocate of your business.

That’s why, as an Internet marketing company in Toronto, we made a commitment years ago to care more about long-term solutions that work - rather than short-term - by creating marketing that people will love (not only for our clients, but also for ourselves).

Love might be a strong word, but - to me - it simply means creating marketing that people find useful or helpful.

Of course, this approach isn’t something you can achieve in a week or two. It’s something that requires thought and consistent effort month after month and year after year. But it’s worth it. In the end, the real metric you’re trying to increase is “trust.” You’re trying to gain people’s trust.

As we all know this takes time. By using short-term solutions, however, you lose people’s trust and as most of us know when this happens it’s hard, if ever, to regain it back.

How to create loveable Internet marketing

People, including myself, love marketing that is:

1. Educational and helpful: This type of Internet marketing tries to provide answers to a question or need that you might have.  This is also the marketing you love when you’re in research mode and trying to obtain certain information in order to achieve an objective or tasks. Examples of this are: how-to blog posts, video tutorials.

 2. Be consistent: To be successful with your Internet marketing, you must consider the experience of the user across different lifestyle cycles–from the first time they visit your website to the point where they become a client or customer.  By making this transition from stage to stage consistent and fluid, you remove hurdles and even encourage your audience to become evangelists for your company.  This is something Apple has been able to accomplish very successfully.

3. Find the right format: It’s important to create content that matches the needs and preferences of your target persona.  Looking at Landing Page analytics is a great place to start. For example, if the conversion rate for a specific content offer (i.e. Landing Page) is lower than average, the marketing offer might not be appealing enough to your audience. Examples of this might be: eBooks or Whitepapers versus Video tutorials or Webinars.

We can do better.

Yes, Internet marketing takes work.

Reaching prospects can be a challenge at times.

The answer, however, is not to think short-term, but instead, use long-term solutions that will gain people’s trust overtime.

I truly believe that if a company puts their energy and resources toward creating marketing people love, they’ll produce better results.

And when I say we all can do better, I’m of course, including Fruition too.