How to Use Social Media for Your Lead Generation Marketing

How to Use Social Media for Your Lead Generation Marketing

  

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Elements of a Strong Inbound Marketing Strategy

Elements of a Strong Inbound Marketing Strategy

Are you a huge fan of cold calls? What about the marketing emails – that you never signed up for – invading your inbox? TV commercials in the middle of your favorite show? Unless it’s the Super Bowl, these marketing messages tend to be frowned upon or ignored rather than delightfully consumed.

 Most people that I know record TV programs solely so they can fast forward through the commercials. My TV capabilities are less sophisticated, but I typically use commercials to brush my teeth or clean the kitchen. I’m already on a “do not cold call list” with Verizon, and marketing emails are unsubscribed from more often than read. Non-remarketing display ads (i.e. the banner or sidebar ads we see when scanning websites) are clicked on an average of only 0.2%, according to Double Click. All of these methods fall under the family of “outbound marketing.” Shockingly enough, these disruptive outbound techniques convert at a much lower rate than inbound marketing strategies, where someone chooses to engage with your brand and actively seeks you out.

 

Inbound Marketing Strategies

Inbound strategies are all about being found naturally rather than aggressively pursuing leads through in-your-face tactics. Which person do you think would be more likely to buy a house? A. The person who received a message saying “Buy this house!” or B. The person who searched for and found the perfect house on their own? We both know the clear winner, which is inbound.

“Imagine a popup ad (outbound) vs. a funny infographic you chose to look at (inbound),” says Marketo’s Johnny Cheng. “Data clearly shows that people who choose to interact with your brand naturally convert higher.” Take a look at this conversion rate data by acquisition channel – inbound strategies have one of the highest rates, at almost 4%. Convinced that inbound marketing strategies kick ass for driving targeted leads and sales? Here are the 5 elements of a strong inbound marketing strategy, which you should be using!

SEO

SEO (search engine optimization) is a hard-to-control, waste-of-time tactic, right? Wrong: SEO is the process of optimizing your website’s content and structure for search in order to receive organic placements on the search engine results pages or SERPS. Having a quality website and content optimized for SEO ensures that Google’s web-crawling technology is able to identify and index your site’s content to have it appear for free to people searching. SEO is a critical part of your inbound strategy because if you can’t be found, then you’re not going to get business.

When SEO comes to mind I think keywords, code, website structure, link-building, and then my head starts spinning. SEO can actually get very complicated, quickly, so what should you be focusing on to get started? Start by identifying and utilizing the most important keywords to your leads. Of course, you want to ensure these keywords have high enough search volume and user intent to attract the most relevant audience. “There are many aspects of SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply the matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand,” explains Moz. I’m not an SEO guru by any means. Luckily, there is a plethora of free resources online so I’d recommend hopping over to Moz and our own SEO basics guide to get started.

PPC

Now we’re speaking my language! You might be thinking, wait – PPC is a paid tactic and aren’t paid strategies against the inbound methodology? Wrong! Paid search is technically still part of the inbound marketing family since search ads appear when a user is actively searching for something, therefore PPC ads are not interrupting another activity. Not all aspects of PPC will quality as inbound (like display ads), but ads on the search network are certainly one of the strongest elements of a strong inbound strategy, because search queries show so much intent.  So, how is PPC different then SEO? With paid ads, you’re paying for the placements on the SERPs rather than appearing organically. Why pay when you can appear organically? For multiple reasons…

With SEO:

  • You have far less control over when and how you appear on the search results page
  • A tweak in the algorithms can ruin your organic visibility
  • Seeing results often takes a long time (and isn’t guaranteed!)

With paid search, you’re able to pay for the top placements where people are more likely to see your ads and bid on specific keywords to attract qualified visitors. You have the control to adjust your budget, pause your ads during irrelevant times, target mobile searchers, easily measure your ROI, and the list goes on. Moral of the story is that you should be doing both SEO and PPC to get the highest volume and quality of leads.

Content Marketing

You wouldn’t have guests over and not serve a cocktail, right? The same goes for leads! Now that you’ve warmly welcomed them in the door through PPC and/or SEO you need to provide them something to drink, aka content. Oftentimes marketers think of content as the sole component to inbound marketing strategy, and while it’s certainly not the only aspect, it is a very critical one. Without fresh and useful content there is no chance of keeping and converting your leads. Your content should come in multiple forms with the goal of helping your audience answer a question or solve a problem.

The key to content marketing is that your content needs to stand out. “Your content must be remarkable enough to break through the clutter. It’s not enough to just produce content,” says Entrepreneur’s Murray Newlands. “Your content must educate, inspire or entertain your audience.”

So, where to start?

  • Create a blog:
    You should already know this, but a quality blog is one of the most effective ways to market a business. Blogging will help you attract new visitors, gain returning visitors, and convince warmer leads. A blog is a hub to keep your audience informed and prove that you’re a thought-leader in your industry. Here at WordStream, our blog accounts for more than half our total traffic!
  • Create guides, e-books, and other downloadable content:
    This will help your nurture your leads with longer-form content where you can sell how your products or services will help them.
  • Gather customer testimonials and create case studies:
    Case studies and customer testimonials will help convince leads that are further down the funnel. Hearing from someone like them will instill trust and up the chances of conversion.

     
  • Create a content :
    To ensure you stay on top of publishing fresh content regularly.
    calendar

Social Media

So you’ve created phenomenal content, published it on your site, and now you’re lounging on your beach chair enjoying a glass of wine? Well, you’re certainly not going to get profitable results with that attitude. You NEED to be attracting new and returning readers by sharing and promoting your content on social media. Creating the content is only a small piece of the puzzle. Ensuring the content reaches relevant people is where social comes in. This is inbound marketing because only people who want to see your content will follow your brand, and it's a great way to "subsidize" your organic traffic if you don't have great rankings yet.

Nowadays, anyone who’s anyone is on social media, whether it be Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Vine, Instagram, or Periscope; your audience is likely on multiple of these channels. Determining which platforms are most relevant to your buyer personas in a task in itself, but I can guarantee that several of your leads are spending a significant chunk of their time-consuming content through their personal social channels. 

Spend time creating a social media promotion plan to distribute your content to the right people, analyzing your top performing content, and paying to promote and gain even more traffic to the content that’s resonating with your audience.

Landing Pages

Your landing page is where your leads land after clicking on your call-to-action (another important element of your inbound marketing strategy). Whether it be a product page, a form fill-out to download a whitepaper, or a subscription service page, you need to ensure your landing page is top-notch unless you’d like to jeopardize potential conversions from coming in. Some important elements to keep in mind…

  • Relevancy:
    You need to make sure that the landing page is relevant to the call-to-action. For example, if your visitor lands on your page from a paid search ad advertising birthday cakes, you wouldn’t send them to a landing page selling Christmas cookies, right?
  • Focus:
    What is the goal of your landing page? Is it to “Sign Up for this E-Newsletter!” or “Download this Guide Today”? Make your landing page’s purpose singular. Ensure the CTA is big, prevalent, and above the fold. Also, make sure to restrict the navigation to other pages and keep forms short.
  • Design:
    This is a major component of keeping visitors engaged. Using videos or images, testimonials, and trust signals are all design elements that can help improve the conversion rates of your landing pages. Run A/B tests to decide on the best designs for your landing pages.

Bonus Inbound Marketing Tip: Remarketing

Once a lead has visited your site, expressed interest in your content, products or offerings, you need a strategy in place to keep them engaged. One of the most effective tactics? Remarketing. These tactic cookies your site visitors and follows them around the web with ads reminding them to come back. Remarketing can be set in a variety of ways. For instance, you can remarket to anyone who visited your site, show a specific ad to visitors who went to a certain page (or a set of pages), or even an ad to someone who has placed items in a shopping cart but hasn’t converted.

My older sister called me the other day blown away when she saw an ad on Facebook of the exact dress she was just looking at on Nordstrom’s website. Yes, she is a stay-at-home mom who’s a bit disconnected from the marketing world, but it just proves that this tactic resonates with shoppers. Remarketing says “Hey there, remember us? Are you still interested? ” which is why the tactic is considered a member of the inbound family since the shopper has already expressed interest. Covering these elements will provide a solid infrastructure for a killer inbound marketing strategy.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

How to Develop a Business Growth Strategy

 

How to Develop a Business Growth Strategy
There are many ways to guide a business through a period of expansion.

  

Turning a small business into a big one is never easy.
The statistics are grim. Research suggests that only one-tenth of 1 percent of companies will ever reach $250 million in annual revenue. An even more microscopic group, just 0.036 percent, will reach $1 billion in annual sales.

In other words, most businesses start small and stay there.

But if that's not good enough for you—or if you recognize that staying small doesn't necessarily guarantee your business's survival— there are examples of companies out there that have successfully made the transition from start-up to small business to fully thriving large business.

That's the premise behind the search Keith McFarland, an entrepreneur and former Inc. 500 CEO, undertook in writing his book, The Breakthrough Company. "There have always been lots of books out there on how to run a big company," says McFarland, who now runs his own consulting business, McFarland Partners based in Salt Lake City. "But I couldn't find one about how to maintain fast growth over the long-term. So I studied the companies who had done it to learn their lessons." What follows are some of the lessons McFarland learned from his study of the breakthrough companies and how they can help you create a growth strategy of your own.

Developing a Growth Strategy: Intensive Growth

Part of getting from A to B, then, is to put together a growth strategy that, McFarland says, "brings you the most results from the least amount of risk and effort." Growth strategies resemble a kind of ladder, where lower-level rungs present less risk but maybe less quick-growth impact. The bottom line for small businesses, especially start-ups, is to focus on those strategies that are at the lowest rungs of the ladder and then gradually move your way up as needed. As you go about developing your growth strategy, you should first consider the lower rungs of what are known as Intensive Growth Strategies. Each new rung brings more opportunities for fast growth, but also more risk. They are:

Market Penetration.
The least risky growth strategy for any business is to simply sell more of its current product to its current customers—a strategy perfected by large consumer goods companies, says McFarland. Think of how you might buy a six-pack of beverages, then a 12-pack, and then a case. "You can't even buy toilet paper in anything less that a 24-roll pack these days," McFarland jokes. Finding new ways for your customers to use your product—like turning baking soda into a deodorizer for your refrigerator—is another form of market penetration.

Market Development.
The next rung up the ladder is to devise a way to sell more of your current product to an adjacent market—offering your product or service to customers in another city or state, for example. McFarland points out that many of the great fast-growing companies of the past few decades relied on Market Development as their main growth strategy. For example, Express Personnel (now called Express Employment Professionals), a staffing business that began in Oklahoma City quickly opened offices around the country via a franchising model. Eventually, the company offered employment staffing services in some 588 different locations, and the company became the fifth-largest staffing business in the U.S.

Alternative Channels.
This growth strategy involves pursuing customers in a different way such as, for example, selling your products online. When Apple added its retail division, it was also adopting an Alternative Channel strategy. Using the Internet as a means for your customers to access your products or services in a new way, such as by adopting a rental model or software as a service, is another Alternative Channel strategy.

Product Development.
A classic strategy, it involves developing new products to sell to your existing customers as well as to new ones. If you have a choice, you would ideally like to sell your new products to existing customers. That's because selling products to your existing customers is far less risky than "having to learn a new product and market at the same time," McFarland says.

New Products for New Customers. 
Sometimes, market conditions dictate that you must create new products for new customers, as Polaris, the recreational vehicle manufacturer in Minneapolis found out. For years, the company produced only snowmobiles. Then, after several mild winters, the company was in dire straits. Fortunately, it developed a wildly successful series of four-wheel all-terrain vehicles, opening up an entirely new market. Similarly, Apple pulled off this strategy when it introduced the iPod. What made the iPod such a breakthrough product was that it could be sold alone, independent of an Apple computer, but, at the same time, it also helped expose more new customers to the computers Apple offered. McFarland says the iPhone has had a similar impact; once customers began to enjoy the look and feel of the product's interface, they opened themselves up to buying other Apple products.

If you choose to follow one of the Intensive Growth Strategies, you should ideally take only one step up the ladder at a time, since each step brings risk, uncertainty, and effort. The rub is that sometimes, the market forces you to take action as a means of self-preservation, as it did with Polaris. Sometimes, you have no choice but to take more risk, says McFarland.

Developing a Growth Strategy: Integrative Growth Strategies

If you've exhausted all steps along the Intensive Growth Strategy path, you can then consider growth through acquisition or Integrative Growth Strategies. The problem is that some 75 percent of all acquisitions fail to deliver on the value or efficiencies that were predicted for them. In some cases, a merger can end in total disaster, as in the case of the AOL-Time Warner deal. Nevertheless, there are three viable alternatives when it comes to an implementing an Integrative Growth Strategy. They are:

Horizontal.
This growth strategy would involve buying a competing business or businesses. Employing such a strategy not only adds to your company's growth, it also eliminates another barrier standing in your way of future growth—namely, a real or potential competitor. McFarland says that many of breakthrough companies such as Paychex, the payroll processing company, and Intuit, the maker of personal and small business tax and accounting software, acquired key competitors over the years as both a shortcut to product development and as a way to increase their share of the market.

Backward.
A backward integrative growth strategy would involve buying one of your suppliers as a way to better control your supply chain. Doing so could help you to develop new products faster and potentially more cheaply. For instance, Fastenal, a company based in Winona, Minnesota that sells nuts and bolts (among other things), made the decision to acquire several tools and die makers as a way to introduce custom part manufacturing capabilities to its larger clients.

 Forward.
Acquisitions can also be focused on buying component companies that are part of your distribution chain. For instance, if you were a garment manufacturer like Chicos, which is based in Fort Myers, Florida, you could begin buying up retail stores as a means to pushing your product at the expense of your competition.

Developing a Growth Strategy: Diversification

Another category of growth strategies that was popular in the 1950s and 1960s and is used far less often today is something called diversification where you grow your company by buying another company that is completely unrelated to your business. Massive conglomerates such as General Electric are essentially holding companies for a diverse range of businesses based solely on their financial performance. That's how GE could have a nuclear power division, a railcar manufacturing division and a financial services division all under the letterhead of a single company. This kind of growth strategy tends to be fraught with risk and problems, says McFarland, and is rarely considered viable these days.

Developing a Growth Strategy: How Will You Grow?

Growth strategies are never pursued in a vacuum, and being willing to change course in response to feedback from the market is as important as implementing a strategy in a single-minded way. Too often, companies take a year to develop a strategy and, by the time they're ready to implement it, the market has changed on them, says McFarland. That's why, when putting together a growth strategy, he advises companies to think in just 90 chunks, a process he calls Rapid Enterprise Design. Sometimes the best approach is to take it one rung at a time.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin wobbles as traders turn to other cryptocurrencies

bitcoin wobbles as traders turn to other cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin wobbles as traders turn to other cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin wobbles as traders turn to other cryptocurrencies

It's been a volatile period for Bitcoin investors, as holders of the cryptocurrency prepare for a potential 'fork' in the blockchain.

From Friday morning until Monday afternoon, Bitcoin was trading under the $1,000 level, and even fell beneath $900 on Saturday. This is significant as, barring the weekend of March 18 and 19, Bitcoin has traded above $1,000 since early February and hit a fresh all-time high of around $1,325 on March 10.

Bitcoin is currently back above the $1,000 handle, but is well off these recent highs, wiping billions off of its market cap value.

There are several causes for the recent volatility: Chinese regulators cracked down on Bitcoin exchanges, while U.S. authorities rejected a proposal for a Bitcoin-backed exchange-traded fund (ETF). The current concern is over the future of the Bitcoin technology.

Bitcoin faces a scaling issue, where the number of Bitcoin transactions that can happen on the blockchain at any one time is limited. This is creating a backlog of transactions that are needed to be processed and slowing down the system.

A group called Bitcoin Unlimited advocates for increasing the size of the blocks on the blockchain in order to process more transactions, but this has split the community. To increase the block size would involve splitting the blockchain, causing a fork and creating two major blockchains. This would effectively create two different coins and it's not clear which would become dominant.

As a result, investors are hedging their bets or selling out of Bitcoin, waiting to see whether or not the fork will happen, and if so, which blockchain will be favored by the market.

Data from Bitfinex indicates around 49 million more coins have been sold than bought, or roughly 5 percent of total coins traded, in the last 30 days. Through March, the number of long Bitcoin positions held by investors has decreased from 26,858 to above 23,142, while the number of short positions has increased from 9,820 to 14,731.

Meanwhile, the market cap of blockchain assets other than Bitcoin, such as ether, dash and monero, has more than doubled since March 10 from $3.5 billion to more than $7 billion, according to Chris Burniske, blockchain products lead analyst at ARK Invest.

"At the same time, Bitcoin's market cap has gone from $19 billion to $16 billion. Hence, Bitcoin's market cap has lost $3 billion in value while the combined market cap of all other blockchain assets has added more than $3 billion," he told CNBC via email.

"Given these market indicators, it would appear investors are diversifying their blockchain asset holdings, positioning themselves for a generally rising tide in this emerging asset class."

Whether or not the fork happens is hard to tell, but it may harm Bitcoin's brand, according to Jani Valjavec, co-founder of ICONOMI, a digital asset management platform for cryptocurrencies. Valjavec argues the brand is the main thing behind Bitcoin's value.

"It has wide acceptance now, real world use cases, it can be a great store of value, and it is currently trusted by the community. Our understanding is that a hard fork, instigated by two parties with very competing interests, will primarily weaken the brand," he told CNBC via email.

"The next biggest brand in the distributed economy is Ethereum, and that's why we believe it will benefit the most."

However, Fran Strajnar, co-founder & CEO of data and research company Brave New Coin, says the market is still within the parameters of a Bitcoin bull cycle.

"The proposed contentious fork is unlikely but better to happen now than in the distant future. We would end up with the original Bitcoin and remaining miners activating segwit (a well-designed package of system upgrades) and a new, much smaller, privatized alternative version of Bitcoin," he told CNBC via email.

"The sum result of all the network fork (fear, uncertainty and doubt) is we are seeing investors hedge by buying into ether. We expect a price drop if there is a fork but a similar outcome to Ethereum, where the long term market capitalization increases for both assets."

David Ogden
Entrepreneur

 

Luke Graham

 

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member