This is the third article in a series about the 5 steps to inbound Marketing growth. We have covered content and optimizing and this article I am writing about spreading the word of your great content and optimized website.
Below are 8 tactics you should use to spread the word, or promote the great content you created in step 1 of Inbound Marketing Growth.
1. Social media
Social media outlets are a perfect place to connect and share information. The most popular outlets are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and I would add Pinterest and Goodle+ as contenders. Not all outlets are optimal for all types of business and not all businesses should be on all social media outlets. If you have a business that is targeting professionals, LinkedIn is a place to get involved. If your business is highly visual, like a florist then Pinterest can be a new outlet to try.
The thing to be careful with social media is that it is not all about you. You must connect and share other people’s content. I like the rule of 10% to 20% sharing of your content and the rest is other useful and helpful information from others, for others. You can start this by first listening to the online chatter and then joining the community by asking questions and answering other people’s question.
Start a group, either online of offline. The popular groups that come first to mind are LinkedIn Groups and local Meetup groups. This is a perfect way to share your content and expertise but also to give others the opportunity to do the same, and most importantly to ask questions and learn more.
It may take a while to build a group but start with inviting your employees, co-workers, customers and friends. Also, add an invite to join the group on your blog and website. Once the group gets going, you may want to ask people to help you manage the group because a popular group that has relevant and engaging content can quickly grow by leaps and bounds.
Some people rather watch a video than read a blog article. Repurpose your content into a video and share on your website embedded from YouTube. There are so many benefits to this from attracting a new audience, additional media sharing, search results on Google and building a subscription list, much like a blog subscription.
Other types of content you can turn into video are case studies, interviews and recorded presentations.
Slideshare and Scribd are becoming popular when people are researching information on a particular topic. They are excellent ways to show your expertise and again can be shared by others through social media and subscriptions
These are perfect for slide presentations, e-books and white papers
People love images. It helps to break up page upon page of copy, convey an idea and add personality. Images have always been popular and are growing with Pinterest and the new Facebook updates.
You can share more than just photos but also infographics, screenshots and cartoons.
Do you do any speaking at events or training? Look for opportunities and places where you can talk to what you know and how it can help others. This is also a great opportunity for you to gain confidence in what you know.
Image Credit: by bengrey
For Inbound marketing, why should we care about search engines?
- Over 73% of Internet users find new websites by using search engines.* As if August 2012, Google reported that it handled about 100 billion searches per month. Just think if only .5% of those searches were for your product or service that is 5,000,000 searches. That is a large amount of prospects looking online for your product or service.
- There are other ways, besides search engines that people can conduct online searches. Sites like YouTube, Amazon, eBay are just a few other sources that people use to search for products and services. Expand the idea of what you think about as a search engine.
- Most search engine searches are for new searches. These new searches can convert into direct traffic to websites for businesses that have repeat business.
- When a person has a need, especially for a large ticket item such as a vacation, they start researching online using search engines. It doesn’t even need to be large ticket items. What was the last service or product that you wanted to learn more about and used a search engine to get more information?
- Having a website that is organically found on the first page of the search results is a relative inexpensive way to reach prospective people. Much less expensive than a print ad which includes costs for graphic designers, copywriters and ad space.
- Part of good SEO is to consistently post new and relevant content. If you write blog articles using keywords based upon how people search for your business, your website will start to see substantial improvement in search results. Creating this new and relevant content will also feed other marketing efforts like lead generation, email marketing and social media.
- Content used to gain SEO is like a gift that keeps on giving. Every time you create a new web page or a blog article, it is indexed by the search engines and gains SEO juice. This indexed page and its SEO juice lives for as long as the page is live and the information on it is relevant.
- Creating blog articles and content that speaks in the language of your customers, and with information relevant to their questions, you are optimizing for the long-tail search. Long-tail search is a search query that usually contains three or more words that create a very specific search. These terms build and build with the more content that is created and optimized.
- Google’s algorithm is getting smarter and rewards those websites that follow good SEO practices with higher rankings. In the past, it was easier to trick search engines for higher rankings, but today search engine recognize more and more of those tricks and penalize offenders.
*Pew Internet Search Engine Use 2012, March 9, 2012
A couple of weeks ago I started a 5 part series of articles about the components a company should consider when thinking of implementing an inbound marketing approach. Last week I wrote about step 1 to inbound marketing growth, content that gave some great resources and tips.
This is article number two about optimizing your content and website so that your target audience can find you.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of practices that you can implement to ensure that your potential customers are finding your website and content unpaid, or organic, searches in search engines, such as Google, Yahoo or Bing. The purpose of having a site “optimized” is to ensure that it shows up in search results when certain keywords are entered into the search engine browser. The higher ranked, and the amount of times a site appears the more visitors to the site. Ultimately, your site is optimized around the customer experience. By having an optimized website and content, you start the sales process.
There are two types of SEO, on-page and off-page SEO to dig further into and understand.
On-page SEO accounts for about 25% of a website’s SEO ranking. The reason is that it is the easiest to control since the elements can be changed and updated within your website. Here are the on-page SEO elements that help search engines ranks your website and content:
- Keywords - Keywords are words or phrases that people put into search
engines when they want to perform an online search query and are fundamental in practicing good SEO. Here are some easy tips for using keywords for SEO.
- Concentrate of on a keyword phrase of 5-7 words. This yields specific, narrow searches. These are known as long-tail keywords and are easier to rank for than broad, general keywords.
- Monitor what keywords are relevant to your potential customers
- Look for keywords phrases that have high search volume and lower competition
- Monitor where you rank for each keyword and how much traffic you’re getting from each keyword
- Determine and utilize the keywords that are turning visitors into leads
- Page title - The page title is one of the most influential on-page SEO practices because it is at the very top of the HTML code and the first thing that search engines will index.
- Keywords in URL - Some CMSs or other web design systems will put in an arbitrary mix of numbers and letters when a web page is created. This doesn’t help with any SEO. Look to see if the URL can be edited and replace it with the keyword optimized page title.
- Content headings - Headings are visible on your webpage but must be coded in the page’s HTML code to allow proper indexing by the search engines.
- Bolded page text - Bold the keywords in your website copy. This adds a stress tag in the HTML code to show the search engines the importance of these words.
- Page Description - The Page Description is a summary about the webpage. This summary is invisible on the page but is encoded into the HTML code. It has very little if any effect on ranking and algorithms, but it does play an important part on how your page will show in the SERPs.
The summary will appear in search results for people to read and decide if they want to click on the link or not. If you do not include a Page Description, the search engine may take a random 154 characters of text from somewhere on the page which may not be a good description of the page. You want to optimize the Page Description for maximum click through.
- Alt tags for images - Include alt tags on all pictures. These are short snippets in the HTML code that allow you to tag each image with short text. This way the search engines can “read” what the image is since they cannot read image files.
Off-page SEO accounts for about 75% of a website’s search ranking because it is hard to control and must be earned. Off-page SEO is built mainly on inbound links, which are links from other websites to yours. Links are considered referrals in the online world and are harder to manipulate, but not impossible. There are black-hat SEO practices that can influence the inbound links to a website and potentially get your site banned from a search engine.
Below are some tips for off-page SEO:
- Anchor text is the highlighted text that is in the link linking to your site. A best off-page SEO practice is never to use the URL address in the content but to hyperlink the URL to keywords (anchor text). This tells the search engines that the page you are linking to is about the keyword or phrase in the anchor text. It also helps you create relevancy for keywords.
- Directories – Stay away from low quality directory sites. Search for sites in your industry and local area that maintain some kind of directory or recommended website list. Check that the directory site has a high Page Rank and that they don’t contain spam listings.
- Submit your website to legitimate directories like the Yahoo! Directory, dmoz.org and Business.com
- Professional organizations
- Trusted local sites
- Searching online for terms using your keywords along with `directory’. Example would be “Auto Collision Repair Directory”
- Setup Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools for your website. Check to see how many indexed pages your website has for both search engines. If there is a significant low number of indexed pages versus the actual number of web pages on your site, dig further because you are missing ranking opportunities.
Content and SEO
Blogs are very important for good SEO because they are magnets for inbound links.
A part of good SEO is consistently posting new and relevant content. If you write blog articles using keywords based upon how people search for your business, your website will start to see substantial improvement in search results. Creating this new and relevant content will also feed other marketing efforts like lead generation, email marketing and social media.
- Google Webmaster Tools - Check the index numbers for Google once a month, once a quarter at a minimum.
- Bing Webmaster Tools - Check the index numbers for Bing once a month, once a quarter at a minimum.
- Google Adwords Keyword Tool - You can search for one keyword, a keyword phrase, or even a website address and Google will return a list of related keywords.
- Google Trends - Enter your keywords, and you will get a wealth of information like the keyword search trend on Google that can be filtered by such criteria as location, type of search, time of search and many more.
- HubSpot’s Website Grader – Enter your URL and email to get a full report of how well you are doing online marketing. Your website’s SEO health is included.
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Where do we start when it comes to understanding search on the Internet? This is a short article to explain some of the different types of search on the Internet and some of the common terms used to explain SEO.
A search engine is an index of billions, actually trillions of web pages on the Internet. Search bots crawl the web looking at webpage information that helps the search engine to categorize the website for visitor search queries. For SEO purposes, it is very important to pay attention to the best practices to be ranked and found in search engine results. People will use search engines much more often than other search options like search directories.
Search directories are online collections of information that are not indexed. The two most popular search directories are Yahoo! and the Open Directory Project. They are not indexed but contain information about a website, such as title, description and category.
Many people will place their websites in online directories to gain inbound links to increase their SEO. Although there are tons of online search directories to gain inbound links from, you must be very careful. Most do not have high relevance to help with SEO and some can actually knock you down in the search engine results or completely off a search engine. Never…ever… pay for submission to a directory site unless it is part of a reputable association membership such as the local chamber of commerce.
Here are a few other terms to be aware of when it comes to understanding SEO, search engines and search directories.
SEO – This is known as Search Engine Optimization which is a group of practices to optimize your website to be indexed and ranked high within the SERPs. A good practice of SEO allows your website to be found and get visitors.
Search Site – This is another term for Search Engine yet not as commonly used. It is a site that allows visitors to search through an index and/or directory. Google is a well-known search site
Meta Index – Different than a search site in that it lets visitors search through several search engines, or search sites, at one time. They are usually centered on a specific interest or topic. A meta search engine will allow a visitor to input one search query and receive several results from several search engines at one time. Hotels and Travel is an example of a meta index.
Search System – These are programs (software) that rank web pages by keywords and keyword phrases. Many organizations use them for online databases. An example is Trademark Electronic Search System which allows people to search for existing, pending registered trademarks.
Search Terms – I have referred to this as a search query in this article. These are the keywords (words and phrases) that online visitors will input into a search engine.
Search Results – These are the results that come back after inputting the search terms.
SERPs – This stands for Search Engine Results Page, and are the results that are returned with your search results. If you are a website owner and want to be found, your goal is to be on page 1 of the SERPs.
Natural Search Results – Also known as organic search results. These are the search results that appear in the SERPs that are chosen by the search engines based on what they believe are the most relevant to the search query. These search results are not paid for by the website owners.
PPC – This stands for Pay-Per-Click and are the search results that appear because website owners have paid for them to appear. These results are always separated from the organic results in the first page of the SERPS. They can be off to the side or in a highlighted area. Sometimes they appear as ads and sometimes they can show up looking a lot like organic results.
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I wrote an article a couple weeks ago about the marketing struggles of the small business owner that discussed the issues when a small business owner tries to do it all. I later saw a question that someone asked about is it more important to have an academic foundation in marketing or to have marketing experience. I saw a connection here. As a small business owner you need to have experience and knowledge to be successful, but does that come from education or experience. It also resonated with me because while I practice marketing, it is not my academic foundation.
My belief is that academic knowledge and experience are mutually beneficial. This is based on my experience but below are some points for each side and how they are best used together.
While my degree is not in marketing, I did learn how to think and evaluate, far beyond what I learned in high school. There are experiences in college that may not be related to the field of study. College, or any higher education, is somewhat like our first job. We learn about meeting deadlines, how to work with others, and to manage our time. We also learn how to continue to learn for the rest of our lives.
Once I realized I wanted to make my career in marketing, I did go on to get a certificate to understand the principles and theories involved in marketing. I was working in marketing at the time, and the two together helped me to conclude what does and doesn’t work. I saw many things that didn’t apply in the modern age, but it was still a foundation that I could look at with a historical perspective.
Today I work in technical marketing and still utilize the foundations of what I learned both in college and while receiving my certificate in marketing. Having academic knowledge is a great foundation and helps in the practice marketing.
Economically, many people who are looking for employment are finding that a formal education is a minimum requirement, and combined with experience helps you to stand above the crowd, especially specialized experience. Today when applying for a job, many times you have to get by a computer that is scanning for minimum education requirements. The human element is gone because a company gets inundated with applicants. Any computer can very easily overlook someone who doesn’t meet the minimum requirements but would be the best candidate for the job.
If I didn’t have the experience while working towards my education in marketing, I am not sure I would have learned as much, as quickly. Having the knowledge and being faced with a marketing challenge the first time is intimidating. I personally feel that I deepened my education by taking the fundamentals and adjusting them to the situations I experienced.
Life doesn’t go by like a book with step 1, step 2 and step 3; thus experience comes into play. This is where you learn what to do in the real world. Once you have been up against a few experiences it becomes less intimidating and more manageable.
Education and Experience are not Mutually Exclusive
I have had challenging situations when trying to plan or implement marketing practices with others that do not have an education or experience in marketing. I have also had challenges when people have had formal training and no experience, so I conclude that education and experience must go together.
I find this most valuable today with all of the changes both technically and theoretically to marketing. What I am able to adapt to is all based on my knowledge and experience.
“Education isn’t about the filling of a pail. It’s about the lighting of a fire” W.B. Yeats
My thought is that education comes first and then experience. Education is not a process that ends when you graduate because life is an education. How the world changes so quickly today, those that understand how to research and seek new ideas have a better chance to keep up and advance.
Having an education has taught me always be learning but this is not exclusive to people with formal education. That is why many successful people without formal educations have been able to prosper. They continually learn both by educating themselves and learn from their experiences. Education or experience alone will not make better marketing.
Image Credit:by Tela Chhe
Inbound marketing is a fairly new term in the marketing world. It was coined in 2005 by Brian Halligan, co-founder of HubSpot, based on permission marketing, from Seth Godin.
Inbound marketing uses online techniques such as content creation, SEO/SEM, and social media to attract potential buyers to your website or start a relationship with your business at the point when they are ready to buy. The result is to bring better quality pre-qualified leads into your sales funnel. The approach is different to traditional marketing, which is considered an in your face approach.
I am going to write a series of short, digestible articles on five components that a company should consider when thinking about implementing inbound marketing. I am going to start the first article discussing content.
Why Create Content?
Content creation is the foundation to inbound marketing. To be able to be found online, you must create content that focuses on solving problems. By having information that is of value to people, it will attract them to your website. When they search online for information to solve the issue they have, your content will show up in their searches. They find your site, read or possibly download your content and through establishing yourself as having the knowledge and expertise they need, they interact with your site or contact you and become a lead.
The most important thing is to create content that helps to solve a problem on a consistent basis.
What is Considered Content?
- Blogs - I see new ideas for content all the time, but the most basic is the blog. Consistently posted articles provide the most information and provide the best lead nurturing for your existing and potential customers.
- Survey results with new data
- Webinars or tutorial videos
- Press releases
- White papers
- Industry reports
- Checklists / Workbooks
- Anything that is informational and worth sharing
What is not sharable?
- Product info
- Free trials
- Software documentation
Benefits of Content
- Unlike online or printed ads, content is a marketing asset and has a much longer life. Also, the more you create, these assets grow over time.
- Content creates inbound links, which is important for SEO and higher search engine rankings. People will share and link to your content if they find it relevant and helpful.
- Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Report, 2010). Find out more great marketing statistics.
- Content attracts pre-qualified people. When people take the time to download, and possibly give you their contact information for it, you have people that are interested in your product or service
- Consistent content creation, like blog articles, create more web pages which means more chances to be ranked and found.
Tips for Creating Content
- Monitor how people are sharing your content by setting up alerts on Google Alerts and the social media outlets.
- To find ideas for creating content, listen to people within your industry or customer base. See what they are saying on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Look through existing blogs using Technorati and Google blog search. Read their blog comments because this is their first hand feedback.
- Blogs are a great lead nurturing source. Make sure to have an RSS feed available for people to subscribe. RSS feeds are optimal over email since they don’t have spam filters or change when people move companies or internet carriers, unlike email addresses.
- Keep up with the blog comments. This is a great way to have a 2-way conversation with your audience.
- Blogs increase performance in social media because they can be easily shared, and in SEO because they increase your chances of being found.
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Yesterday I was busy… Like everyone else, and the phone rang. Number wasn’t familiar, so I let it go to voicemail. My voicemails go to my email so when I had a moment I listened to it. It was someone cold calling me, and one thing that went through my mind was, ‘I am so glad I didn’t pick up the phone’. About an hour later, the same number came through on my caller ID. Can you guess if I picked up, or let it go to voicemail? You guessed it; I let it go to voicemail. This person had forgotten they called me and left me the same message as before. Ummmm…..
I hate cold calls. I hate cold calling. I am an inbound marketer, but do believe that integrating traditional and inbound marketing together is a best approach. While cold calling is not my strength, I learned some interesting viewpoints when I started to do some research into it. I realized that I use cold calling, or more along the lines of warm-calling. I have put together a list of 5 reasons cold calling doesn’t work and tips on how to make warm-calling or warm-connections work for anyone.
1. People tune it out. While some people think that cold calling may be the best way to get close to your potential customer, how many people you call will actually pick up the phone. My story above illustrates this. People are busy, in the middle of doing other things; the last thing they want is an interruption from someone who is not their client, boss or someone they absolutely need to talk to.
Try connecting with people in other ways. What about LinkedIn, other social media outlets, or through online or personal networking? I am a part of the LinkedIn group, Inbound Networkers, and have made great connections through a weekly meeting that we have online. It may sound old-school compared to the day and age, but referrals and relationships are still how business is conducted.
2. Cold calling is expensive, time consuming and an emotional battle. We all know that we all want more time and money, and I just don’t have the emotional energy to spend.
Consider if the time and energy put into cold calling could be better used creating an effective marketing plan which generates warm-qualified leads. Inbound marketing takes time, but it creates marketing assets, a following and builds a reputation that has a longer life over the time.
3. Perception of the cold call. One of the best things I heard was about how you are perceived when you conduct cold calls. How many reliable, stable and well positioned companies make cold calls anymore? What impression are you making when you call people asking for business? You come across as desperate.
If through your contacts, online or personally, you find that someone is looking for something that you can provide, give them a call. Do some homework on their company and needs first. That way they will appreciate your interest, and that you did your homework.
4. Selling ice to an Eskimo. How many times you have received a cold call, and if the person had done just a little homework, they would know not to waste your time or theirs. Granted many times lists are given to people who are told just to make a call. I personally would never do business with someone who didn’t take the time to see if we were even a good match.
Do some research before the call to find out if the contact even needs your services.
5. Target your audience. Sometimes cold calling is needed. It all depends on the situation. If it is time sensitive and the sales goals are aggressive, it makes sense. But again, make sure you research who you are calling first.
- Think if there are creative ways to integrate inbound and outbound marketing.
- Make sure it’s targeted. Who is your target? Where are they? Are they online? Or, are they not media savvy? And what are you selling and what solution do you provide?
Once you have a clear picture of your target, or “buyer persona”, figuring out the best way to reach your potential customer starts to become a more self-evident. And I’m always a fan of an integrated approach. Develop a combined strategy that best reaches your target in both the short and long-term.
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Trade shows are a way to bring online marketing and traditional marketing together and create new opportunities to engage, qualify and nurture attendees who are interested in your products or services. Wondering how to create some buzz and acquire more visitors to your booth? Well, here is help. How to Optimize Your Website for Trade Show Marketing is a great resource for utilizing your company website and email when trying to engage attendees before, at and after a trade show.
Split into three sections you will find what you need for optimizing your website and email before the show, during the show, and after the show. All three phases are crucial to successfully obtaining and nurture leads that ultimately become sales. Each section is then split into subsections that go further into detail about how to optimize your website and other online technologies at each stage.
In this chapter of the e-book, we focus on how to optimize your website and email for trade show marketing before the trade show and create an event marketing approach that can integrate online and in-person event marketing.
Some of the pre-show online marketing topics include how to create a show specific web page and planning an online campaign. This e-book shows you different ways to get the word out about your trade show attendance months before it happens through blogging, website, email marketing and more.
At the Show Optimization
Although new technology makes it possible for people to meet and network without having to go anywhere, live events like trade shows and conferences are still very relevant. This traditional face-to-face marketing and sales practice still drives large audiences. May be more important today for people to stay connected because technology still seems to keep us somewhat disconnected.
While at the show, time is tight, and schedules are long, and this e-book covers online marketing activities such as live blogging and lead generation activities to drive more engagement.
The connections and leads you get at a trade show are a great beginning to the selling cycle. After a long and highly active trade show it can seem that everything should settle down, but that isn’t true. Now is the time to get your lead nurturing game on.
It is notorious that up to 80% of leads collected at a trade show are never followed up on. Seems like a waste of investment if you spend all that money to travel, exhibit and attend a trade show and never follow-up with the leads collected. It is important to follow-up quickly to stay at the top of mind of the lead. The first to respond often stands out, especially at a crowded event like a trade show.
In this section, we will go over how to use your website and online marketing as a way to continue engagement with the connections you made at a trade show.
All three sections will help you use your existing resources, website and email, to engage attendees and obtain and nurture the leads you meet at your next tradeshow.
A few weeks ago, I and five other professionals and conducted a webinar, 63 Must Do's That Will Maximize the ROI of Your Booth Investment. While it covered strategy, marketing, sales and relationship building tips for offline events, it also talked about how to bring online optimization to your trade shows, events, conferences and any offline event you attend to build leads.
I remember a few years ago that some people were predicting that trade shows, and other face-to-face marketing events would become less and less important, or even non-existent. I am here to say that isn’t going to happen. Although the internet and social media are a successful way to attract leads and build relationships, people still like to get together and have one-on-one conversations, sharing and socializing.
As the tips, I gave in the webinar, when you are planning your trade show marketing strategy, think about how to integrate online activities to enhance your offline, one-to-one marketing events.
Below are some quick ways to bring the two worlds together before, during and after the event.
Prepare Your Audience Before The Event
Use online activities to prepare the attendees for what to expect at the event. Setup a web page specifically for that show and list an agenda with specifics of sessions, speakers, keynotes and most importantly, networking opportunities. Let people know what your company will be showcasing and have the ability for visitors to schedule meetings online.
Review the association or company that will be holding or sponsoring the event. See if they have a LinkedIn Group, Twitter account or Facebook page. Connect and start to share what you have and news from other exhibitors and the show management.
Use Real-Time Communication During The Event
While you are at the show, look for opportunities to collaborate with others and share real-time information. You can use video, live blogging and social media updates. See if you can setup some interviews before the show, or ask presenters if you can share pieces of their presentation.
Find out if there is a show hashtag on Twitter to share and communicate with other attendees and those that weren’t able to attend. Maybe have a screen in your booth that shows the feed with the hashtag visible so others can learn about the hashtag and share in the communications.
Post Reference Materials After The Event
After the event, don’t forget about the web page you setup for the show and don’t delete it either.
Don’t delete the web page because you will lose any SEO juice that it may have gained. It is also a great way to continue to grow visitor’s to your site.
Post any articles, presentations, reference materials and videos from the show. This will attract the attendees who may want it, but those that were not able to attend. If your material is compelling, it may even spark the interest of someone who will want to attend in the future.
The short answer is yes, Smarketing results are real for small businesses- it's not just for larger companies.
To quote a client during our latest Smarketing meeting; “This S%&t really works!” The results are real, and depend only on your ability to adapt and change, learn and collaborate. The question of Smarketing's relevance and results is one (in my opinion) that start-ups, small business owners, and all the way up to CEOs and their C-suite should be asking themselves like the bad habit that they just can’t break. It’s a question that many marketers, sales people and their bosses ask me on a weekly basis. The reason it’s a great question to continually ask is because it inspires continuous improvement, which is an absolutely critical mindset when you are trying to implement change and ultimately sales and marketing alignment.
Think I am wrong? Tell me why in your comment below. But if your curiousity is up, read on.
What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Smarketing?
And why is Smarketing the best way to overcome the marketing and sales divide?
Disclaimer: Nothing is your magic bullet, and Smarketing is no different. But it is one of the keys to both short term and long term growth of your business. The objective of any Smarketing program is to build a growing, measurable and predictable sales funnel.
Here are 5 examples of what other companies, ranging from manufacturing, to software, to financial services, have seen happen when they developed a Smarketing program:
- Better quality copy and content. One client, an independent insurance agency, is able to create timely and relevant content regarding the issues that are on the minds of their customers and prospects. Because their marketing team knows what questions the sales people are asking to get real conversations, they can simulate those conversations by creating and sharing content that addresses their objectives, objections, and questions. Traffic 'hits' aren’t just going up, they are sticking around longer and it's being shared it with others. Consumers want to be more educated, and they will seek out those who offer the most valuable and relevant information.
- Higher quality leads. First, define what a quality lead even is, and use the language of actions and numbers aligned to the buying process of your customer and prospect. High quality leads are the ones who are closer to being ready to buy whatever your product or service is. The actions of your prospects and buyers are the context in which you set up for aligning the numbers. For more this, learn what a Smarketing service level agreement is (SLA) and how it helps you get those elusive ‘high quality leads’ that sales needs to create new customer or client evangelists.
- Improved customer experiences. When the marketing message and promise meets the sales approach and delivery it establishes trust from the first interaction a customer or client has with your business. Successful 21st century companies know that the internet has changed the way people buy, and their BS detectors are highly sensitive.
- New opportunities for revenue. Putting aside conversion rates that will be higher and more likely to accelerate sales growth, and assuming that you are already starting to see the previous benefits above, an aligned sales and marketing team will start to spread throughout your organization like the vendors at a Grateful Dead concert. Imagine what that could mean to your product development, referral and partner channel relationships, customer lifetime value, even hiring? Innovation is all about discovering new customer needs and meeting those needs before your competition even knows the need existed. When sales feeds marketing and marketing supports sales, they will understand what their prospects and customers need from them.
- Lower costs and higher profitability. After a manufacturing client calculated their 2012 year–end numbers, I was delighted to have gotten this email from the current owner of the generational family business: “2012 turn out to be a whirlwind year for us. We finished the construction of the new building and parking lot before heading out on holiday break. It was the best year in company history in many respects. We closed the year out with a 34% increase in sales, but most important our profitability was up and labor costs were down. On top of that, our web traffic continues to grow, and we have high hopes for 2013.”
How to overcome the marketing and sales divide with Smarketing.
Hubspot is known for ‘coining’ the Smarketing phrase and shares 6 tips to enable Smarketing in your start-up or adapting company. Below is my twist to their tips:
- Have more short and action oriented meetings. Enabling a clear, ego-less, and open communication between your sales and marketing is the first step. No one likes having a lot of meetings, but when you are not communicating, you are assuming and you know what they say, “When you assume you make an a$$ out of you and me.” And that’s another tip, use humor to break the ice, don’t let your defenses go up and feel the need to defend yourself, but always ask, “How can we do this better?” By short, make it your goal to be 1 hour monthly, 30 min weekly, and 15 min daily.
- Work with multiple members of the team. Sometimes the information learned one-on-one with a team member is more real and insightful than what you will learn when their boss is listening in. This enables you to identify problems and opportunities at the source, from the people who are on the front lines, in plain, blunt, unabashed English.
- Don’t just say you are working side by side, actually do it. It is human nature to share information and tips, so make it social and hang out together. If you have a team, mix their desks together. Sometimes what is overheard in sales conversations are gold nuggets of content to marketing people. Sometimes what sales people overhear about what marketing is learning are clues in advance that help them close a sale.
- Job shadow one another. This could include things like having marketing listen in on sales calls or meeting with prospects, or having sales score lead quality in a CRM system. Have sales people attend marketing webinars, have marketing attend sales demos. If you have outside agencies or consultants helping you align your sales and marketing together, have them come in and sit in, as well. Before you know it, marketing will be pointing out blog posts for sales people to comment on and share to their networks - establishing them as the experts they are. Sales will be helping marketing write blog posts, and you are now turning your industry upside down.
- Agree on what an apple is and what an orange is. Speaking the same language is crucial for the internal workings and the external results of a Smarketing program. This should be tip #1 in my opinion. Read Smarketing benefit #2 above for more on this.
- Use numbers to make your sure your Smarketing results are real. Based on what the numbers are telling you, make improvements where needed and make sure you know what is working where and then identify why and what actions you can take based on your findings.
How do I know if I going down the right path with what Smarketing is all about?
From a logical standpoint, Smarketing is a no-brainer. Still the majority of companies continue to struggle with adopting a Smarketing culture. In Latin, there is a concept called ‘de facto and de jure’. De jure, or the law, means how it should be. De facto, or reality, is how it really is. There are many reasons why you might be struggling with Smarketing or seeing results (sales) from your inbound marketing.
But first, let’s figure out what results are for you. What do you expect to gain from Smarketing? How do you think it would benefit your business? Comment below, then check out this fun follow up story about Smarketing journeys.