Category

Inbound Marketing

How Firearms Companies Can Outthink Their Competition With Inbound Marketing

By | Firearms Marketing, Inbound Marketing

For most emerging firearms and outdoor sports companies growing market share comes down to a matter of numbers.

You know your product is good because you’ve gone to great lengths to make it durable, reliable and functional (which is an absolute must in this industry).  You’ve received positive feedback from your customers, signed some solid purchase orders, your website, packaging and brand look great—but you just can’t seem to grow in the way or as fast as you’d like.

Smaller firearms, and outdoor sports manufacturers struggle to take their businesses to the next level because of the expensive barrier of entry to print advertising, T.V and trade shows.

Market industry leaders—or the goliaths—enjoy market dominance and the bulk of the market because of years of brand building. Their massive marketing budgets are hard to beat, making it seemingly impossible for the David’s or the emerging companies to compete against.

However, as some us well know—to bag the beast—you must outthink the beast.

If you haven’t noticed lately, magazine subscriptions are in decline (Source: Folio) and everything seems to be migrating online. Your customers are going to the internet first to research products. Look at some of these revealing statistics:

  • 61% of global Internet users research products online. (Source: Interconnected World: Shopping and Personal Finance)
  • 93% of online shoppers begin by using a search engine. (Source: Hubspot)
  • 90% of the purchase lifecycle is over before a customer decides to buy (Source: iMedia)
  • 65% of U.S. shoppers research products and services on a computer and make a purchase in-store (Source: Cisco)

… and these numbers are on the rise.

In this article, I give you 6 points about how you can “outthink” your competition in the firearms, shooting or outdoor sports business by looking at an online strategy first—versus investing more in trade show, TV or print.

1. What is inbound marketing?

Since 2006, inbound marketing has been an effective marketing method for doing business online. Sometimes called “digital” or “content marketing,” “inbound” is the opposite of “outbound marketing.” Where outbound is buying print ads, placing a TV spot and praying for customers; inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product, where they naturally want to be. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests and by solving their problems and answering their most burning questions about: “What AR-15 should I buy? What do I need in an optic? Or what kind of recoil pad is the best? — you naturally attract website visitors—or inbound traffic—that you can convert to customers and turn them into promoters of your brand. (Source: Hubspot)

An inbound approach also lends credibility and trust to your dealers by enabling them to reference great information off your website when their customers are asking for recommendations on what to buy or how your product works.

2. Why inbound marketing now?

Consumer behavior has shifted over the years. The days of “push” advertising and “salesy” tactics have lost their effectiveness. If you think about it, you yourself skip television commercials when watching your favorite show on the Sportsman Channel, ignore flashing online ads when surfing GunsandAmmo.com, hang up on cold callers, tune out radio ads that you have no interest in and throw the direct mail in the trash. Years of being bombarded with this “intrusive” form of advertising has changed the way consumers prefer to get information about the products they want to buy. Inbound turns outbound on its head. Instead of constantly pushing your message on your customers, you attract them to your website through your content.

Inbound marketing has been proven to generate 54% more leads than traditional paid marketing and saves you $20K on average a year over outbound marketing.

 

3. Content is the secret sauce

Content can be a blog, video, checklist, ebook, whitepaper or a download that attempts to solve your customer’s problems in a relevant way. Blogging is the best way to get started. Did you know that if you’re not creating content on a regular basis, Google will drop your search engine rankings?

For a good example of a blog, take a look at Beretta’s blog.

4. What am I going to write about?

Everyone is an expert in something. If writing isn’t your forte, you can always hire someone to help you out. There are hundreds of industry writers looking for work. Start by forming a list of questions that you hear most from your customers or dealers. Take that list and form it into a series of blog posts. In time, you’ll have more than enough to write about.

Most companies in this industry who blog—are blogging mostly for self-promotional purposes. Shooters, firearms, and outdoor enthusiasts don’t want to hear how great you are—they want to hear how you can help them. In the process, you’ll earn their respect, trust and ultimately their wallet.

5. Online marketing is not about Facebook and Instagram likes

There are plenty of manufacturers who have thousands of followers and likes on their Facebook/Instagram page. However, those likes don’t necessarily translate into website traffic and sales—especially now that less than 1% of your posts are ever seen by your followers. It is important to show “social proof” but Facebook likes alone does not mean you have an online marketing strategy. And with more and more anti-gun sentiment on social media, investing in Facebook is getting risky.

6. Get there first

Today, there are only a few companies in the hunting, firearm and outdoor sports industry doing inbound marketing. From working in multiple industries and in the firearms/outdoor industry with a very well known brand—that the world, in general, is moving more and more online. The companies who start now will have a huge advantage down the road. By owning the online space in your category—be it knives, firearms, tactical rifles, safes, optics, suppressors, EDC etc.—you will gain significant advantage over your competitors.

 

FREE EBOOK: THE ESSENTIAL STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO INBOUND MARKETING FOR THE FIREARMS INDUSTRY

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Download Now

Joshua Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin StoryBrand GuideJosh Claflin, President at Garrison Everest and StoryBrand Certified Guide, helps companies who are struggling to stand out in the crowded marketplace and attract new customers. 

consistent content marketing

Four Things That Start to Happen When You Stop Blogging

By | Inbound Marketing

I owe you a big apology.

I’ve been really slacking on my blog posts the past four months. I got so busy this summer with several new clients I wasn’t able to stay consistent in my writing. And then the craziness of SHOT Show preparation started in August with still so much still to do!

With all sincerity, I’m sorry…

Which brings me to the topic of this post about the perils of starting a blog and doing content marketing and then failing to keep up with it.

Since 2014, I’ve written over 140 blogs with a consistent tick of about 2-3 posts per month. Content marketing is like a slow-moving train leaving the station. It starts out slow—and then over time—gains momentum. But once it starts, it’s hard to stop. You have to keep feeding the “content beast”—or it becomes a complete train wreck, which means you have to start all over.

So in this post, **if you’re still interested?** I want to highlight a few points on what happened to me when I started creating content and then stopped for a few months.

1. Out of Touch

One of the great things that happen when you start blogging is that you force yourself to stay up to date on current trends, marketing technologies (like A.I., Service and Influencer Marketing) as well maintaining a voice in your niche. If you fall out of practice—you leave your audience wondering what’s going on. It also leaves a void for your competitors to move into. A digital presence is necessary to remain relevant in today’s digital environment. By staying on the minds of your followers, you’ll grow your brand (product or personal brand) faster.

 

website traffic

 

blog with leads2. Leads and Social Media Lags

Google loves fresh content. (Source: MOZ) To keep your rankings up, you have to keep creating content consistently. Inconsistency stymies your email list growth, open rates, and social media reach. Although I didn’t see a dip in traffic or leads over the past few months, I did see a decrease on social media channels, especially Twitter.

3. Open Rates Drop

After the email for this blog goes out, I expect the open rate to be below the standard 20% open rate of my total readership (500). I also expect a few unsubscribes. Which is OK, because it will keep my database lean and up to date. If you don’t email your list regularly, your subscribers will start to fall off and forget who you are. And as of now, email marketing is still the most effective way to reach your customers. 

4. Looking Forward

In the coming months, I have several content campaigns scheduled that will be on the topics of service marketing, brand storytelling, artificial intelligence and the ever-changing world of influencer marketing and how to use these tactics and technologies in the outdoor, tech and firearms industry.

I hope you stay tuned. 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

Josh Claflin, Principal at Garrison Everest, helps companies in the outdoor, tech, and firearm industries who are struggling to develop clear brand messaging and increase revenue through online channels to grow in the digital era of marketing. Contact Josh  for a free consultation. 

4 Things Google Wants From Your Website In 2017

By | Inbound Marketing, Web Design

Google is the most popular search engine on the planet with over 11 billion searches per month and controls over 67.5 percent of the U.S. search market (Source: DMR). Love ’em or hate ’em, Google dictates whether or not your web marketing efforts will be a success or a failure. 

If you’re a business owner or marketer thinking about how to get more out of your website—here are 3 (actually 4) things that Google wants that should be incorporated into your web marketing strategy.

1.Useful content
Google continues to make strides on ridding its Search Engine Results Pages, or SERPs of irrelevant content. 88% of consumers will search and consult on average 10.4 pieces of content before making a decision to buy. (Source: Google, Zero Moment of Truth). It’s no secret that creating content on a consistent basis is a sure-fire way to drive traffic to your website, and for good reason:

  • Companies that blog have 97% more inbound links
  • B2B marketers using blogs generate 67% more leads
  • Websites with blogs have 434% more indexed pages
  • Websites with blogs have 97% more indexed links

(Source: WPVirtuoso).

If you’re feeling a little behind, there is a reason to be concerned, because if you’re not blogging and creating useful content on a regular basis—your competitors (who are blogging)—are generating 54% more leads than you. If you’re not blogging, now may be the time to seriously consider it.

2. Clean design
The web has evolved over the years from cluttered jam-packed home pages to clean pages where less is more. Your website needs to get to the point quickly as you only have 2-3 seconds to get your point across. Eyequant states that websites looking to decrease bounce rates and increase longer visitor times should adhere to these three precepts:

  1. Make your most important information the most attention-grabbing
  2. De-clutter unnecessary elements on your page
  3. Simplify: give users one task, not dozens

By following these guidelines, you’ll be able to maximize your website’s performance for increased visitor lengths. 

TIP: To test your website’s most important information use CrazyEgg: https://www.crazyegg.com

3. Fast load times
The web is a fast, get-in, get-out kind of media. You essentially have 3 seconds to capture the attention of your viewer or they leave (bounce) without saying goodbye. Websites should focus on load times between 2-3 seconds on a broadband connection.

TIP: To test the speed of your website, check out website.grader.com

google ranks for mobile5 things that slow your website down:

  1. Large images
  2. Excess javascript code
  3. Flash and embedded videos
  4. Non-utilized or useless CSS code
  5. Embedded third-party plugins like Twitter and Facebook feeds

By optimizing the above factors, you can increase your website’s load times and potentially increase your ranking on Google.

4. Mobile-friendliness!
Google announced starting April 21st, 2015—your website’s mobile-friendliness will now be a ranking factor. (Source: SEMPOST) This means if your website is not responsive and mobile friendly, you will lose out on potential ranking factors. To find out if your website is mobile-friendly, simply go to your iPhone and search for your company. If your site is mobile-friendly, it will say it under the green URL “Mobile-friendly.” To read more about responsive, mobile-friendly design, check this article out. 

So to sum up, in order to play in Google’s arena, you need to create useful, content consistently, have a clean design, make sure your website loads quickly and is mobile friendly!

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

What to Expect in Your First 3 Months of Inbound Marketing

What to Expect in Your First 3 Months of Inbound Marketing

By | Inbound Marketing

[dropcap]S[/dropcap]tarting an inbound marketing program is an exciting time in your business’ history. You’re convinced that an inbound strategy is what you need to grow your business and build your brand. Hopefully by now, you’re well aware of the time, dedication and work that needs to go into inbound and you’re motivated to get the train moving down the track. 

Inbound marketing is like a locomotive. It takes time to build momentum and to get your program up to speed. 

Your content must tell a story and help your buyer persona solve a problem that answers their most burning questions. Unlike “push” or outbound marketing—where it is an ad and a prayer—inbound marketing builds trust and helps you build an audience of promoters, admirers, and customers over time.

If you’ve pulled the trigger on inbound marketing and are waiting to get started—here is what you can expect in your first three months.

1. The Hubspot setup

When implementing your inbound program, the first thing you need to do after signing up with an inbound marketing agency is to get Hubspot set up. We obviously use Hubspot for our marketing automation because it gives us unmatched efficiency, intelligence, and the time-saving tools to conduct everything we need to do inbound marketing accordingly.

A typical Hubspot set up looks like this:

  1. Install tracking code on your website
  2. Create a subdomain for your landing pages
  3. Set up CANSPAM settings for email marketing
  4. Load in your buyer personas
  5. Connect your social media accounts
  6. Setup email template
  7. Create your calls to actions
  8. Create your workflows
  9. Create your forms and landing pages
  10. Integrate your CRM
  11. Create a blog subscription sign up form

The above list is just for Hubspot. Depending on what kind of shape your website is in—you may also need to do the following:

  • Consolidate your content
  • Search engine optimize each page with appropriate page titles, descriptions, and image titles
  • Confirm that your website is mobile-ready or make it responsive
  • Add in social signal buttons for sharing
  • Set up additional social media channels
  • Develop your brand
  • Redesign your website

Much work goes into properly setting up your website and Hubspot investment. Most of the setup work can be done by your current web manager or IT person to save on costs.

2. Get an offer up quickly

To get your inbound marketing program moving down the tracks faster, you’ll need to create an offer with a form and a landing page and the necessary blog articles to begin driving traffic and capturing leads.

Empty out your desk, pull up old powerpoints, use anything that can be repurposed into an offer to generate leads while you work on other premium offers.

If your website is brand new, you can expect Google to “sandbox” it for a month or two before you start to see your website showing up on SERPS (Search Engine Ranking Pages).

Within this period, you should be creating as much content as possible to increase your website’s digital footprint. The more pages you have—a higher ranking authority you will receive. To see where you stand right now, check out Hubspot’s marketing grader.

3. Blog on the keywords that have a low difficulty to rank

To get some quick wins, start by going after the most searched terms with the lowest difficulty. Write content based on those keywords and use them in your titles and content. By targeting these words, you’ll be able to generate traffic in short order as you wait for your website to start gaining momentum. Write other pieces of content based on high traffic/high difficulty keywords to augment the lower trafficked keywords. There is nothing better than seeing your keywords rise to the top of the rankings quickly.

If your website is established, you may need to spend time optimizing, doing some interlinking or repurposing past content pieces to bring them up to date. These tactics can also drive traffic fairly quickly.

4. Research and grow your audience

Start growing your audience by taking to Twitter. Twitter is an excellent way to gain traction in your first few months of inbound. Begin by following others in your category. Favorite their tweets and retweet their content when possible. This will allow your feed to start generating activity quickly. You also need to be sharing your content as well—even if you only have 1-2 posts. Share 2-3 times daily, and tweet at least four+ times a day. Utilize the 80/20 rule which means your Twitter feed should consist of eighty percent of other people’s content and only twenty percent of your content.

Begin to identify whom the centers of influence are and create lists based on your buyer personas. I recommend BuzzSumo, Right Relevance, and TweetFavy to help you identify the highest ranking people in your category. Learn what content is getting the most traffic and try to write about those trends to gain followers and increase traffic.

5. Have the right mentality moving forward

The above points are three whole months of work that will give you a firm understanding to intelligently analyze what’s working and what’s not as your inbound marketing program grows. It is important to have the right expectations moving forward. Inbound is about building relationships and trust—and like any relationship, it takes time to build and nurture. This is the fundamental reason why inbound marketing is so effective. 

After three months, you may start to feel like giving up, or you may lose motivation. Inbound marketing is a marathon and not a sprint. You will see results and you will gain traction in time. Most people give up just when things hit an inflection point, and traffic goes through the roof, so stick with it. Consistent creation of relevant content, social media best practices and email nurturing will bring results and create a bedrock of internet marketing fortitude that will last for years. And not only that, it will completely annihilate your competitors chances of winning the internet marketing game in your category.  

For quick boosts of traffic, you can always allocate budget to PPC while you wait for your organic traffic to rise to the top of Google. Depending on your goals, you can always mix a little outbound tactics with your inbound to create some activity. If you write a blog post that gets some decent shares and traffic, consider boosting on Facebook or sponsoring it on LinkedIn to magnify its results.

In conclusion, the first three months of inbound is based on setup, analysis, and research. Much of the work can be done upfront and in-house. After you have Hubspot setup, created an offer and targeted low-difficulty keywords—focus on growing your network and remember to keep a marathon mentality.

Once your inbound marketing program is up to speed—there’ll be no stopping it.

 

inbound-marketing-guideFree Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing 

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Media Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Download Now

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

hunting shooting firearms social media company

5 Ways To Understand How Social Media Can Work For Your Hunting Company

By | Firearms and Hunting, Inbound Marketing, Social Media


If you’re like most business owners or marketers in the firearms, shooting and hunting industries, social media is still a bit of a mystery. A lot of marketers and business owners think that social media is a waste of time or are vague on how to effectively use it. Like all things we don’t understand, we typically just shrug it off.

We know we have to have a Facebook page—and maybe even a Twitter account, but still we struggle to grasp the importance of social media and its use.

Social media can be explained like this: Social media is digital word-of-mouth. Like traditional word-of-mouth or referrals, you share content, ideas, recommendations, stories or pictures with people who are your neighbors, friends or family. If you stop for a moment and think about it, most of the services and products you have bought in the past—have come from referrals by neighbors, friends or family.

If people find your information (i.e. content) useful or interesting—odds are they will share it, tweet it, like it or buy it.

Social media helps get your information or content out to more people—and given the right circumstances, can grow your website traffic, leads and customers exponentially. By spreading your content far and wide—you cast a bigger net, which means you increase your odds of generating more customers.

Here are 5 ways to finally help you understand how social media works in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry. 

 

1. Social media starts with valuable and relevant content 

If your goal is to drive traffic to your website, then social media starts with creating content. You can’t attract new customers without generating content. Content can be created in the form of blogs, videos, whitepapers, ebooks or infographics. Tweet, share and post these pieces of content and distribute them on your social media networks to maximize your content reach. Write your content specifically for your buyer persona.

Should I post the same content on all networks?

To help you better understand the differences of social media, here are few comparisons made by social media guru, Guy Kawasaki (1.7 million followers on Twitter)

  • Facebook = People. It’s mostly for communicating with those with whom you already have some connection.
  • Twitter = Perceptions. It can help you build your reputation and visibility.
  • Google+ = Passions. It’s for sharing your passions with others who have the same passions.
  • Pinterest = Pinning. It’s about beautiful images and finding great stuff.
  • LinkedIn = Pimping. He means this in a good way, Kawasaki said. “LinkedIn can help you position yourself as a serious person and influencer.”

For Facebook, you’ll want to bring your content down to a human level and mix it up with real-life experiences. Try to make your content sound “casual” and make it fun. Posts on Facebook should be about office happenings and culture. Think reality show.

For LinkedIn, dress your content up in a suit. Make sure you add your own personal comment as to why you’re posting. Try to think in terms of how to establish yourself as an influencer or perhaps even a thought leader.

For Twitter, you only have 140 characters to get your point across. Your tweets should be short and succinct. Try to invoke curiosity or urgency to drive clicks to your content.

Buffer found that tweets with images receive 18% more clicks. Always add an interesting, eye-catching picture. This also goes for Facebook and LinkedIn.

What the heck is a hashtag?
Hastags (#) are used to identify a subject. So if you were to post something about Elk hunting in the Rockies you may tweet something like: “Elk Hunting is the Best in the Rockies! #hunting #firearms #wyoming” What the hashtag does, is allow other users to search for the same hashtag. This creates a small micro-community that follows an interest, event or subject.

2. Identify which channels work best for your business

Not all social media channels work and operate the same (as noted above). The only way to understand what network works for you is to experiment. We typically have more success on Twitter and LinkedIn than on Facebook. So we concentrate a lot of our efforts on those channels because they are more B2B oriented.

If you’re focused on reaching women (which is currently exploding in the industry) – you may want to try Pinterest as their members are almost 90% female.

Google+ should be used to help with increasing search engine rankings and indexing your pages. Google continues to struggle with creating a viable social network. However, Google+ should not be overlooked. 

 

3. Curate other people’s content and follow back your customers!

In order to start gaining followers, you must tweet, post and share often–especially on Twitter. It’s recommended that to gain followers on Twitter you need to tweet at least 4x a day—for starters. It’s been proven the more you tweet, the more followers you get.

You won’t have enough content in the beginning—so tweet other industry/topic relevant content. Make sure to follow the 80/20 rule: tweet 80% of other people’s content and only 20% of yours. By retweeting, favoriting and sharing other people’s content, you gain followers as people are likely to follow you back.

For LinkedIn and Facebook, I recommend once a day or at least 4 times a week to maintain top-of-mind awareness. Back off if you sense people are getting annoyed or you start losing followers. Always be professional and courteous. Do not use profanity or coarse language.

Most companies in the industry are highly self-promotional. They are always tweeting out their latest products, sales, deals and happenings—push, push, push.  Their social media strategy dictates that:  Follow less people and have more followers than we’ll be considered more important.” Companies in the hunting, firearms and shooting industries should follows their customers back. Social media isn’t about being the most popular kid on the playground—it’s about sharing and  associating with the people you are trying to help, build a relationship with to turn them into life-long customers. 

Here’s how this plays out. I’m considering a new AR-15. So I head to Twitter and follow Stag Arms, Colt and Daniel Defense so I can learn more about their products and get updates on their latest news to help make a decision on what AR-15 to buy. Out of those three companies, Stag Arms ends up following me back! Wow. A big brand like Stag, wants to follow me? Guess who I’m going to buy from. Stag! So go ahead, follow back! You tell your potential customers you’re interested in them and you care about them. This goes along way in establishing your branding and inbound marketing strategy

 

4. Boost your content on Facebook

Facebook has changed its news feed recently and it has become harder to get your content in front of the right audience. Facebook now offers “boosts” to reach your target audience outside of your network for increased exposure. Boosts start at $20 and go up from there. Boosts are a cost effective way to drive traffic and capture likes, leads and shares.

 

5. LinkedIn is about establishing yourself as an influencer and thought leader to establish credibility

Once you commit to creating valuable content, you’ll begin to learn even more about the industry and your buyer personas. An amazing thing happens when you start to research, read, tweet, post, write and curate content. You wake up one day and realize that you’re living on the bleeding edge of the latest trends, industry news and technology. You become a resource that others will find useful. I tell this to my customers who are venturing into inbound marketing. Like training for an Ironman, you start out slow, but gradually over time, you gain momentum and fitness to go the distance—and before you know it, you’re a stud triathlete.

Ok, if you’ve made it this far down on this article, you may be asking, OK great, how does participating in social media really help my business? Here are 5 important reasons:

  1. Builds your brand and reputation
  2. Social proof (i.e. a lot of followers) establishes trust among leery visitors
  3. Attracts customers you otherwise would not have reached
  4. Drives traffic to your content and landing pages to convert visitors to leads
  5. Establishes yourself as resource, influencer and thought leader to a global audience

So there you have it.

If you were confused about how social media works—you should now have a better understanding. Social media starts with valuable content, choosing the right network, curating other peoples content (80/20 rule), following your prospects back, tweeting to drive traffic, boosting on Facebook to gain shares, and using LinkedIn to establish yourself as a credible thought leader. If you still have questions? Contact us or give us a call to see how to make social media work for your business. 

hunting-outdoor-internet-guide
Free Ebook: The Essential Step-by-Step Guide to Inbound Marketing for the Hunting, Outdoor and Firearms Industry

In this comprehensive guide, you will learn the 6 essential steps to internet marketing success.

1. Optimizing Your Website
2. Creating Content
3. Implementing a Social Media Strategy
4. Converting Visitors into Leads
5. Nurturing Leads into Customers
6. Analyzing & Refining Data

Download Now

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

LinkedIn-Groups

The 4 Stages for Establishing Thought Leadership with LinkedIn Groups

By | Inbound Marketing

LinkedIn Groups are one of the best ways to position yourself as an industry expert, establish thought leadership and generate new leads. In a survey by Forbes, 60% of users scored Groups as one of their favorite features on LinkedIn. Moreover, with only 16% in the maximum number of groups allowed (50), there’s a reason LinkedIn sees Groups as a valuable personal marketing tool. (Source: Forbes)

By having a strong personal brand within your industry, you can help your business attract more customers and eventually charge higher fees. (Source: Lee Fredrickson).

With a little finesse and tactful posting, you can establish your personal brand within LinkedIn that drives people to connect with your company’s products and services.

In this article, I’ll show you how to leverage LinkedIn groups for your advantage in four stages.

First, there are four ground rules you need to be aware of.

RULE 1: Anything that is not business related, don’t post it. Don’t be that guy.
LinkedIn is a business-based network geared towards professionals. Posting jokes, rude or obnoxious pictures should be saved for Facebook or thrown out altogether.

RULE 2: Help—don’t sell.
When posting to LinkedIn, your #1 goal is to help—not sell. By being helpful and showing people you care, you’ll earn their trust, admiration, and eventual respect.

People join LinkedIn groups for insight—not to hear about how great your latest service or product is—so please abstain from self-promotion.

Content is an exception, but with everyone getting on the content train these days, it is just like promoting your product or service, so be aware. However, by all means share and post your articles to your feed or on Pulse—LinkedIn’s publishing forum.

RULE 3: Write clearly.
Make sure to write clearly and use good grammar and punctuation. Having the ability to write clearly will help your efforts.

TIP: Check out the Grammerly and Hemingway app to become a better writer.

RULE 4: Create a great profile and get a professional photo.
The last rule is to create a great profile and get a professional photo taken! Make sure your profile is clear, contains your keywords and includes a viable work history with recommendations. All these factors will increase search engine visibility.

LinkedIn-Group-Profile

Ok, so now that is out of the way, let’s jump in.

The first stage in building your personal brand is the awareness stage. Followed by knowledge, insight, and trust. Each stage builds off the former with the trust stage being your goal.

Awareness > Knowledge > Insight > Trust

1. AWARENESS

Commenting and Liking
The first step to engaging your group and building awareness is by commenting and liking others’ posts. This can be as simple as typing in “Thank you for the post.” or a “Like.” People will remember you next time around and may return the favor. The goal is to make some friends and get your image and title into the group’s feed.

Ask for referrals
Ask your group what their experience has been related to working with third-party industry vendors and if they have any recommendations. Most people will be glad to help you out.

2. KNOWLEDGE

Do research and ask for validation of current trends
Once you get the feel for your group and have liked a few others posts and posted a few comments, it is time to post something of your own. The easiest way is to research a topic within your industry and share the data. Pose the research data to your group and ask them to confirm it. By posting industry data or statistics, you share valuable information to the group while playing it safe. This establishes your personal brand as someone who is knowledgeable and helpful.

Identify a problem and make suggestions on how to solve it
If your industry has a problem—it may be good to do a little research and post some of your ideas on how to solve it. Try to do so in a way that doesn’t sound like you’re complaining. Think through potential responses and how you might respond if you stir up controversy. 

3. INSIGHT

Newsjacking
Another method is “newsjacking”. Newsjacking is a method of taking the latest news and posting it to your group for comment. You may even write a blog post about it and link it back to your website—being careful to not self-promote. The latest news allows you to position your personal brand as someone who is up-to-date on the latest trends and happenings. There are many tools out there to stay on the bleeding edge of breaking news.

TIP: Set up Google alerts or Twitter notifications (under Settings) that notifies you the minute news breaks.

LinkedIn-Group-Top-ContributorAt this point, if you’ve posted a few times, you may have noticed that you have obtained “Top Contributor Status.” You may have also begun to notice your picking up more Profile Views. These are all good signs that you are gaining traction towards the coveted “trusted” stage.

4. TRUST

You’ll know you’ve made it to the trust stage if you are getting connection requests and asked for advice via Inmail or invitations to speak. You’ll also notice increased traffic to your website from LinkedIn. These are all indicators you’re achieving trusted status.

Once you’ve received trusted status, you can drive a little deeper into understanding your industry group that will help you learn even more about your ideal customers.

Here are two examples to start posting once you’ve achieved trusted status.

Questions about their business
Everyone likes talking about their business. A great way to get group members talking is to post questions on:

  • How’d you come up with your name and what does it mean?
  • How long have you’ve been in business?
  • What’s been your most valuable lesson?
  • What is your biggest success?
  • What makes your brand special?

People love to talk about their businesses. Most business owners are not going to give away trade secrets or other information. So keep it high level. Follow up by writing a blog post and share it with your group. 

Recommend latest industry tools or reports
Is their some new tool or software that is helping your industry? Using third party subject matter can stoke conversation. Make sure you have a good understanding of any tools you recommend or criticize.

How often should I post? A good rule of thumb in posting is once every two weeks. After you’ve been consistently posting for 4-5 months—yes, this is going to take time.

Start a survey
Another great way is to post a survey about a certain industry topic and offer to also share the results. This is a great way to shape influence. However, this should only be attempted if you’ve achieved “trusted” status.

In conclusion, by posting the right way to your LinkedIn groups, you can expect more connection requests, learn more about your ideal customers, generate more leads and establish your personal brand and expertise. By following this 4 stage process, you now have a framework on how to go about achieving “trusted” status within your LinkedIn group.

 

Social Prospecting Workbook
Social Prospecting Workbook:

How To Use Social Media To Find New Leads

By downloading this social prospecting workbook, you’ll learn the fundamentals of listening to social media conversations in order to generate new leads for your business.

Download Now

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Buyer Persona

Do You Really Know Who Your Customers Are?

By | Inbound Marketing


Believe it or not, one of your hardest questions as a marketer is: Who—specifically—is our customer? I think most of us will admit we don’t know our customers as well as we should. By neglecting to have an accurate and well-defined customer or—buyer persona—you hinder the potential and effectiveness of your marketing efforts.

Marketing is about knowing your customer/client better than anyone else. The understanding that comes with this insight allows you to speak their language, at their level, at the right place and at the right time about your product or services in an authentic and human way.  Add some great branding—and you got a good foundation to build your marketing programs.

So What Are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

How Are Buyer Personas Created?
Buyer personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews of your target audience. That includes a mix of customers — both “good” and “bad”— prospects, and those outside of your contact database who might align with your target audience. You’ll collect data that is both qualitative and quantitative to paint a picture of who your ideal customer is, what they value, and how your solution fits into their daily lives.

In this post, I’ll give you the steps you need to accurately identify your buyer persona. This will allow you to focus your content and messaging like a laser for better results.

1. First Start With Some Background
It’s good first to start with some broad strokes and then fill in the blank areas as you go. To begin, start by answering the questions below. 


  • Basic details about persona’s role
    What do they do for a living and how did they get there?
    What is their level of education?
  • Key information about the persona’s business/company

    List facts like industry, market cap, competitors etc.
    What does their brand stand for? Check their website (if applicable) to learn more.
  • Relevant background info, like education or hobbies

    What do they typically do in their spare time. Are they rushed for time, busy parents? Weekend warriors? Workaholics?

TIP: For established businesses: When first starting, look to who your current customers are (if applicable). Write them on a big sheet of paper and find trends or commonalities among them. It’s a good bet that a lot of them will fall into the same bucket.

2. Demographics
Demographics round out the edges and fill in the blanks. Important as demographics are, they still are only one dimension of your customer. Use the questions below:


  • What is their gender? Male or Female?
  • Age range
  • Household income (Consider a spouse’s income, if relevant)
  • Urbancity (Is your persona urban, suburban, or rural?)

When potential prospects call, ask them why they contacted you. Make it a point to ask them some of the questions above.

3. Identifiers
Identifiers help you sound like your buyer persona. If your customers are attorneys, you’ll want to utilize your thesaurus and make sure your writing sets a high standard. If your buyer persona are surfers, you’re going to want to talk as such bro.

  • Buzz words

    List some industry buzz words and words that are commonly used by your buyer personas
  • Mannerisms

    What does your buyer persona sound or act like?
  • Language

    What kind of language do they use? Is it intelligent and articulate? or more slang?

4. Goals

Begin listing your buyer persona’s primary and secondary goals. This will begin to give you ideas on what kind of content topics you should begin thinking about. Interview them to get more detail.

  • Persona’s primary goal
  • Persona’s secondary goal

When potential prospects call, ask them why they contacted you. When you’re on the phone with your client, make it a point to ask them some of the questions above.

5. Challenges

Now we’re getting into the nuts and bolts. List the challenges your buyers face. Generating leads? Growing their business? Creating relevant communication?       

  • Primary challenge to persona’s success
  • Secondary challenge to persona’s success

6. How We Help

Begin brainstorming on how you can help your personas. Think beyond what your product or service directly offers. Move in the direction of other dimensions, verticals or channels of your offering. What might you be able to provide that leads them to your solution? Don’t drive to close, drive to help.

  • How you solve your persona’s challenges
  • How you help your persona achieve goals

7. Real Quotes

To humanize, list some real quotations taken from your interviews and surveys. This will ground the persona even more in your mind and in the minds of your marketing and sales team. 

  • Real Quotes
    Include a few real quotes – taken during your interviews – that represent your persona well. 
  • Common objections
    Identify the most common objections your persona will raise during the sales process

8. Marketing Message

Now that you have a good understanding of your persona, how can you distill this information into a short succinct message. This message should be used in your positioning statement and tagline. It should be the basis and ethos of your brand. It can also be the trunk of which all your content hangs off of.    

  • How should you describe your solution to your persona?
  • Include a few real quotes – taken during your interviews – that represent your persona well. This will make it easier for employees to relate to and understand your persona.
  • Elevator pitch
    Make describing your solution simple and consistent across everyone in your company.
buyer persona inbound marketing

Business Becky

 

9. Add A Picture
 And Name Them
Last but not least, add a picture of them. If you have multiple buyer personas—pick a picture for each. It can be a current client or a stock photo. 

10. Communicate This To Your Company
How do you communicate this new understanding of your target customer with your entire organization? After all, if your sales and marketing teams don’t understand who they’re speaking to, it’s hard to craft a message that really resonates.

To get started, download the free buyer persona’s template below to get an example of how to present your buyer persona to your company for greater understanding and marketing ROI.

 

Buyer Persona Marketing

 

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Marketer’s Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona

The key to maximizing your marketing efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer/client is. This will enable you to set SMART goals to turn your website into a lead generating machine. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for internal alignment and clarity.

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

how to prospect a new indusrty for new customers

How To Prospect A New Industry For Customers

By | Inbound Marketing, Sales, Social Media

If you’re thinking about breaking into a new industry for the purpose of selling your products or services, there are few things that inbound marketing and social media can offer you to make your efforts more effective.

But with so many different points of entry like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and blogs—where does one begin?

Inbound marketing is a way to use content to attract your ideal customers to your website. Inbound then uses social media as a distribution mechanism to spread your content to those you hope to do business with by attracting them to your website for lead capture. This methodology has been proven to shorten sales cycles, garner trust with your prospects and boost referrals—which is critical to building a presence in an industry you’ve never been involved with before.

With so many of your prospective customers already on social media, you may be missing out on ample opportunities to fill your sales pipeline.

In this article, we’ll look at how inbound marketing combined with “social media prospecting” can help you break into new industries to prospect new customers.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]Seventy-eight percent of sales people using social media outsell their peers. (Source: Forbes)[/box]

1. Search industry organizations
To begin, start by looking online for trade and industry associations you’re interested in. A simple search should turn up several results. Industry association websites typically have content on industry statistics that you can download for free without paying a membership fee. These pieces of content can give you helpful insight into the industry you’re prospecting. In last week’s article, we highlighted a few of these industries. Trade show websites also provide great sources to learn about the industry you’re investigating. Check out this list of trade associations to get started.

2. Add “top” or “best” to your web search to identify category leaders
It’s funny how most companies will describe their product or services as “top” or being the “best”—even when they are clearly not the best in their category. However, there are some legitimate sources that you can use to your advantage that will point you in the right direction. By simply adding ”best” to your search: best aircraft manufacturer, best hunting brands, top financial advisors, most purchased computer monitors, best doctors in Raleigh, best branding agencies, etc…, you’ll be able to figure out who the leaders are in any given category. This will provide you some framework into the industry you’re looking to do business with and a list of companies to go after.

3. Utilize your personal networks
If you know some people in the industry you are targeting, it doesn’t hurt to call them up and ask them a few questions. Maybe even take them to coffee. Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Where do you go for information? Blogs, newspapers, trade journals?
  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • Where do you acquire most of your customers?
  • Who are your customers?
  • Do you use social media?
  • Do you use Google for search?
  • What was the last topic you searched on?

By asking where your potential prospects spend time online (or offline) will help you understand how these people think and where you can focus your marketing and sales efforts in the future.

 4. Create relevant content
61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, and are more likely to buy from that company. (Source: Custom Content Council)

In order for your social prospecting efforts to gain traction, you must create content. Blogs are the first best place to start to attract prospects. Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13x more likely to enjoy positive ROI. (Source: HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014) 

By creating a blog article zeroed in on prospective industry keywords and your ideal customers, you’ll have the ability to share your thoughts, tips and advice with those in the industry you hope to do business with—which creates value. If you have little information to draw upon—start with simple industry statistics. As you become more familiar with the category, more ideas on in-depth topics you can write about will emerge.

landing pageSecondly, create a downloadable offer like an ebook, whitepaper or case study. You can create a landing page on your website specifically targeting the keywords your prospects are using so your page shows up in search results. Using a form will allow you to capture inbound leads once a prospect decides to download your offer. Using inbound tactics saves an average of 13% in overall cost per lead. (Source: HubSpot State of Inbound, 2014) 

When you do reach out over email, social media or phone, your offer has already initiated some initial trust in the mind of your prospect. And with 57% of the purchasing process over before ever talking to sales, its important to make sure your website is up to snuff. (Source: Executive Board

[box type=”info” size=”large”]You are 70% more likely to get an appointment on an unexpected sale if you join LinkedIn Groups. (Source: Steve Richard, Co-Founder of Vorsight)[/box]

5. Social prospecting
The best place to prospect for new customers in a new industry is on social media. LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are all great places to start looking for prospects once you know who the players are.

LINKEDIN
The professional network of LinkedIn boasts 225 million members. Top sellers use LinkedIn 6 hours per week. (Source: Jill Konrath)

Seek out industry groups on LinkedIn and join them. Notice what topics are being discussed and join in on the conversation. Share and comment on your potential prospects comments and content. This allows you to establish some thought leadership. Aim to be helpful. Find the names of people and their positions who are the decision makers—more on this below.

TWITTER
Twitter is best for understanding what your prospects are interested in. Use #hashtags to search topics, people and ideas. To find what hashtags your prospects are using, take a look at these top sites to speed the process:

Retweet, favorite and comment on those prospects you are trying to build a relationship with and create a list for those people and companies to organize your feeds.

FACEBOOK
With 1.35 billion users per month, Facebook works the same as Twitter and LinkedIn. Locate the companies you want to work with and “like” them. Comment, share and like the posts to show interest.

It’s important to understand that you must approach social prospecting with the mentality that you want to help—not sell. Any advances that are too “salesy” or aggressive, may put a bad taste in your prospects mouth. Take it slow at first; aim to connect on an emotional level, help and be authentic. The goal here is to warm your leads so that when you do post a blog article or send an email or call them, they’ll know who you are.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]Personal value has 2x as much impact as business value does, and 71% of B2B buyers who see personal value will purchase a product. (CEB)[/box]

6. Create a list of prospects using a CRM
Utilize a CRM tool to track your prospects. A great tool we use is Sidekick and HubSpot’s CRM. It allows us to streamline our information gathering and prioritize our leads and sales pipeline more efficiently.

CRM

In a typical firm with 100-500 employees, an average of 7 people are involved in most buying decisions. (Source: Gartner Group

Hubspot’s CRM combined with Sidekick allows you to identify who your potential decision makers are, making your initial calls/contacts more productive.

7. Set SMART goals
No effort should take place without SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely). A good example of a SMART goal looks something like this:

  • Prospect 25 companies that includes the contact information of decision makers
  • Identify and connect on LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter
  • Close 2 customers by the end of Q215
  • Sales Goal: $50K

Combine SMART goals with your CRM to stay focused and consistent.

To wrap up, breaking into a new industry or vertical can be fun and exciting. Social media prospecting combined with some inbound marketing tactics like blogging, landing pages and content offers can build out your sales pipeline and allow you to make some strong inroads into a lucrative new industry.

Social Prospecting Workbook

Social Prospecting Workbook:
How To Use Social Media To Find New Leads

By downloading this social prospecting workbook, you’ll learn the fundamentals of listening to social media conversations in order to generate new leads for your business.

Download Now [vc_separator type=”large” dh=”1″ color=”light” icon=”” align=”left” margin-bottom=”40″ margin_top=”40″]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

How Inbound Can Grow Your Business

How Inbound Marketing Can Grow Your Business

By | Business, Inbound Marketing

Business owners today are faced with many options and challenges on how to market their businesses and make their marketing dollars go farther. From the Yellow Pages (yp.com), Angie’s List, trade show events to glossy print ads—the options are endless. However, I want to introduce you to a relatively new marketing and sales methodology that can help address one of your business’ biggest challenges: growth.

In this article, I explain 5 high-level factors of inbound marketing to help you understand how to attract customers, grow your brand and your bottom line. Inbound marketing harnesses the power of your company’s website to generate traffic and leads, automate marketing, acquire customers and understand your cost per lead more effectively. If you’re new to the concept of inbound marketing, read: What is Inbound Marketing? first.

1. Grow by generating website traffic
The World Wide Web celebrated its 25th birthday this past March. Since its inception, it has revolutionized the way we do business. According to iMedia, 93% of B2B buyers use search to begin the buying process.  93 percent! If you’re serious about generating traffic month after month—it’s absolutely critical that the products and services you provide can be found online by your prospective customers/clients/dealers.

 

inbound marketing traffic

Actual Inbound Marketing Traffic Generation Data: 157% Increase in traffic!

 

So, how do you get more traffic? Well, once again the options are endless. A good place to start is with inbound marketing’s approach to blogging. If you aren’t blogging, you’re missing out on what could be your biggest opportunity to generate traffic.

Take a look at these statistics:

  • Blog frequency impacts customer acquisition. 92% of companies who blogged multiple times a day acquired a customer through their blog. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2013)
  • The global population of blog readers keeps growing. (eMarketer, August 2010)
  • 81% of marketers rated their blog as useful or better. (HubSpot State of Inbound Marketing, 2013)
  • There are 31% more bloggers today than there were three years ago. (eMarketer, August 2010)
  • 46% of people read blogs more than once a day. (HubSpot Science of Blogging 2010)
  • Most people read 5-10 blogs. (HubSpot Science of Blogging, 2010)
  • Nearly 40% of US companies use blogs for marketing purposes. (eMarketer, August 2010)

As you can see, one sure fire way to generate traffic to your website is to tap into blogging. Blogging can expand your business’ digital footprint which, creates more opportunities to generate traffic. And with 60% of all organic clicks going to the top three search results; blogging will also contribute to higher rankings. Every blog post you create will continue to drive traffic to your website for the duration of its existence. 

You may be thinking, “we blog, but it doesn’t seem to help.” If your blog isn’t performing the way it should, you may be doing something wrong. Are you seeking to solve your customer’s problems, or do you use it for self-promotion? There is a big difference and each serves two different audiences. To blog effectively, you must seek to provide information that helps the people you are trying to attract. 

2. Grow by turning visits into leads
Now that you’re blogging correctly, it’s time to turn that traffic into leads. To capture leads, you must offer premium content in the form of webinars, whitepapers, ebooks or videos. By utilizing call-to-actions (CTAs), forms and landing pages, you create a method for gathering your prospect’s contact information so that you can understand their needs and better solve their problems. You also will begin to establish trust, gain credibility and thought leadership which is important to attracting customers/clients/dealers etc.

 

Inbound Marketing Lead Generation

Actual Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Data: 1150% increase!

 

inbound marketing3. Grow by marketing automation
To do inbound marketing effectively you will need marketing automation software. We recommend a tool like HubSpot that ties all your online marketing efforts together into one convenient web-based source. With HubSpot, you can automate a lot of the manual tasks like social media publishing, email and workflows. The Contacts feature in HubSpot allows you to understand the areas of interest on your website that your leads have visited—equipping you to have a more meaningful and impactful conversation with them. HubSpot’s Competitor analysis tool allows you to see what your competitors are up to and how to outrank them on the search engines. With a marketing automation tool like HubSpot, you will save time, energy and get the support you need to conduct a successful inbound marketing campaign.

4. Grow by turning leads into customers
Eventually—if you’ve followed points 1 through 3—your search engine rankings, blogging and social media following will increase over time and you’ll begin to see an increase in traffic and leads. 60% of the sales cycle is already over, once you’ve determined that a lead is ready to talk to you. It now becomes time to reach out personally if you feel they meet your qualifications and convert your lead into a customer.

So for example, you may send them an email asking them if they would like to set up an introductory phone call or you may choose to call them directly. Whatever method you choose, the prospect has already warmed to the idea of working with you and is interested in learning more about your products or services.

5. Grow by being smarter with your marketing dollars
Inbound marketing has shown a 62% reduction in cost per lead. (Source: Mashable) it makes it the perfect solution to save money and achieve your business goals cost effectively over time. Instead of investing heavily in outbound marketing methods like printed advertising, direct mail, billboard, radio, placards at bus stops or television ads, inbound provides the data, wherewithal and insight you need to make your marketing dollars work harder. Utilizing HubSpot’s Marketing Performance Module, you’ll be able to see how your marketing dollars are working and allow you to avoid the black box which is outbound marketing.

inbound marketing performance

Actual Inbound Marketing Performance

 

In conclusion, I’ve given you just a taste of how inbound marketing can grow your business by utilizing your website. Inbound marketing is a great solution for businesses trying to grow, stabilize or become more profitable. Its methodology enables you to generate traffic and leads, acquire new customers and provide ROI analysis to help you grow your business more profitably.

If you’re interested in learning more about inbound marketing please contact our Indianapolis or Denver Branding Agency for a complimentary inbound marketing assessment and begin growing your business today.

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Tool Kit
 

Running a successful marketing campaign for your business is all about having the right tools. This guide will give you what you need to run a successful inbound marketing program.

 

[vc_separator type=”large” dh=”1″ color=”light” icon=”” align=”left” margin-bottom=”40″ margin_top=”40″]

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

How To Win More Business By Helpful Selling

How To Win More Business By Helpful Selling

By | Inbound Marketing, Sales

When it comes to winning more business—it can sometimes be difficult not to blow your own horn when communicating with your customers and prospects.

By understanding how to talk to their level and helping them think differently about their business by solving their problems first, you will have greater success in moving them further down your sales funnel and converting them into a customer.

As professionals, we eat, sleep and breathe our vocations. What has become second nature to us—can be jibber-jab to our prospects.  We ultimately believe our products or services are the best and everyone needs them. However, what is apparently obvious to you, may not be to your customer.

If you find yourself losing sale opportunities for no apparent reasons, it may be time to take a look at how you may (or may not) be talking to your customers.

To start, you need to understand how consumer behavior has shifted in the past 2-3 years.  

Research has shown that your customers will go to the internet (search engines, social media, local directories, review sites) to consult on average 10.4 pieces of content—before they even contact you. The internet is the first place where over 90% of all B2C and B2B prospects will go when beginning research for a potential purchase.

To win more business, business owners, marketers and business developers need to know how they can maximize their sales processes within this new paradigm.

Below are 8 points to keep in mind when talking to your customers so you can win more business.

1. Create buyer personas
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

We sometime lose sight and think we know our customers fairly well, but it quickly becomes apparent—once we begin to peel back the layers—how much we think we know is based only on assumptions—not facts.  

In order to talk to your customers level and win more business you must put yourself in their shoes and get to their level of understanding and motivations of what their challenges are and identify the solutions that can best help them. This can only be done by researching and identifying your buyer persona.

2. Research your prospect on social media
If you don’t have a buyer persona strategy in place, the next best thing is LinkedIn. If you have time in between your first contact and sales meeting—it’s good to check who the prospect is on LinkedIn and on other social media networks. Top sellers use LinkedIn 6 hours per week. (SOURCE: Jill Konrath, Author of Snap Selling)

Knowledge and familiarity of your prospect will allow you to break down any mental barriers in your mind before speaking to your prospect, which can build confidence. Knowing something personal about them is good so you can determine if you have something in common (sports, hobbies, contacts, locations etc.). It’s always better to talk about a common interest than the weather to break the ice. People ultimately choose to do business with people they like, and everyone likes someone who appreciates them. (Source: Forbes)

3. Assume nothing
You should always assume your prospect knows nothing about you or what you offer and vice versa for the first call. Assumptions can taint the waters in sales meetings/calls and can make you look uninformed.

4. Help them think differently about their business
In 2011, CEB came out with a new sales model called the Challenger Sale that has been adopted by top companies. This model is based upon sales people helping customers with their problems first—which builds trust, leads to higher customer satisfaction and faster closings.

“The way to effectively sell your product is to make sure your customer believes you are there to help them win in the market.” — Tyrone Edwards, SVP of Sales and Marketing, Merck Pharmaceuticals

This is a radical departure from the past were sales was more about promotion. By helping your customer understand their problem and identifying those drivers, you can help your customer succeed, which is ultimately why they are contacting you.

5. Scrap the jargon
No one cares, especially your prospect that you know your industry’s terminology—better to save it for the trade show. By knowing your buyer persona, you will know their industry lingo. However, it’s still better to speak professionally with articulation and intelligence and keep the jargon to a minimum.

6. Utilize marketing automation to better qualify your prospect
One of the greatest benefits of sales and marketing automation is that you have the ability to potentially warm your prospects up to your products and services prior to having a conversation with them. This allows you to see—through web analytics (email, clicks, downloads, likes, tweets etc.)—if your prospect has interest in your offerings. This allows you to gain insight into how to better help them. Most tools will also allow you to capture information about your prospect so you can know exactly who they are and if they are a viable lead.

7. Create a process
All good sales people have a process to help them win more business. By utilizing a questioning process, you get your prospect talking about their business, problems and challenges and how you can help them—versus rambling on about how great your solutions are. A good process follows Budget, Authority, Need and Timing or BANT and GPC: Goals, Plans and Challenges to effectively qualify your prospect.  Ask questions that cover their company and their organization (internal). For example:

  1. What is your secret sauce?
  2. Who are your competitors?
  3. What is your average sales price?
  4. What are your company’s revenue targets?
  5. How do you fit within your company?
  6. What is the decision making process?
  7. What are your goals?

… are just a few good questions to ask.

8. Help. Don’t sell.
Lastly, ditch the pitch. Assuming your brand and website has done its job—your prospect will already be convinced that you can help them. Be prepared to show a little transparency and authenticity. This will go a long way in earning trust and credibility.  

Marcus Sheridan of The Sales Lion states: “Consumers of all types expect to find answers on the internet, and companies that can best provide that information garner trust and sales loyalty. Success flows to organizations that inform, not organizations that promote.”

In conclusion, to win more business you must be helpful, you must create and understand your buyer persona, research your prospect on social media, assume nothing about your prospect, help them to think differently about their business, scrap the jargon, take time to better qualify them and above all—help, don’t sell.Website Buyer Persona Template

 

FREE DOWNLOAD: A Guide to Creating the Buyer Persona

The key to maximizing your marketing and sales efforts

In this powerful template — we help you and your team think through and identify who your ideal customer/client is. This will enable you to set SMART goals to turn your website into a lead generating machine. It will also help you present your buyer persona to your team for internal alignment and clarity.

 

 

 

 


Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

Indianapolis inbound marketing brand

3 Tips to Growing Your Brand in the Age of Inbound Marketing

By | Brand Development, Inbound Marketing

The age of inbound marketing is here, and the rules have changed in regards to growing your company’s brand.

With so much content being created at break-neck speed, it’s important for your brand to have a clearly defined position so that your content is relevant, speaks to the right audience and achieves your business goals.

Marketers are shifting their budgets away from “interruption” advertising, and increasing their inbound marketing budgets (Source: HubSpot). Inbound marketing is changing how brands communicate.

Consider these statistics: 

  • 86% of people skip television ads. (source: Mashable)
  • Because 61% of consumers say they feel better about a company that delivers custom content, they are also more likely to buy from that company. (Source: Custom Content Council)
  • 90% of consumers find custom content useful and 78% believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them. (Source: McMurry/TMG)
  • 4% more leads are generated by inbound than by outbound. (Source: HubSpot

In the age of inbound marketing, here are 3 tips to help grow your brand.

Tip #1: Establish yourself as a visible expert.

What is a visible expert? A visible expert is someone within an industry who focuses on a particular niche that he/she is known for. Studies have shown that 62% of visible experts accrue brand building benefits for their companies. (Source: Hinge Research Institute) Through specialization, content marketing, speaking engagements and book publications—you can boost your visible expert profile and attract more clients and customers.

visible expertExamples of some visible experts include: Darmesh Shah (Inbound Marketing, HubSpot), Karl Rove (Political Consultant, American Crossroads), Gary Vaynerchuck (Social Media, Vayner Media) and Warren Buffet (Investing, Berkshire Hathaway).

By establishing yourself as a recognized visible expert within your industry—you are able to charge higher fees, attract more leads and grow your company faster.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]LinkedIn is a highly effective channel to building visible expert status for the purpose of distributing your content and building your company’s brand.[/box]

Tip #2: Help. Don’t sell.

By creating relevant and valuable content that answers your customers most burning questions first—you build trust and credibility that earns you their interest, time and attention.

According to Marketo, 93% of B2B buyers begin their buying process using Internet search. By optimizing your blog articles, downloadable ebooks and whitepapers for search engines and social media networks, you pull customers to your brand through your content. 68% of consumers are likely to spend time reading content from a brand they are interested in. (Source: The CMA) By optimizing your content for search engines you have greater opportunities to attract customers, build your brand and promote your content through social media shares and likes that educates your prospects faster and can potentially shorten your sales cycle.

Tip #3: Perfect your messaging.

One of the greatest challenges in marketing is crafting the right messaging. How do you know if your messaging will resonate? Most companies don’t have large marketing budgets to test market. In the age of inbound marketing, you can dial in your brand messaging faster by conducting A/B testing—easier and cheaper—to find out what messages resonate with your target customers. By finding out what title or blog post gets the most traffic and social shares, you can begin to dial in your brand messaging that makes your marketing more effective.

In conclusion, by utilizing the above three tips of establishing yourself as a visible expert, helping—not selling, and utilizing A/B testing to dial in your messaging—you’ll have greater success in growing your brand more efficiently in the age of inbound marketing.

Interested in learning if Inbound Marketing is right for your business? Please contact us for a free inbound marketing assessment. 

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Tool Kit
 

Growing your brand in the age of inbound marketing is all about having the right tools. This guide will dive into which tools you should use to conduct inbound marketing.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

The-6-Hurdles-Of-Inbound-Marketing

The 6 Hurdles Of Inbound Marketing

By | Inbound Marketing

 Thinking about pulling the trigger on inbound marketing? Have you taken the time to consider what it will take to make your investment pay off?

There is no doubt that there is a lot of buzz surrounding inbound marketing with over 78% of CMO’s thinking custom content is the future of marketing

But before you and your team dive in—there are 6 hurdles you need to consider before committing to inbound that could make or break your investment.

1. Education
It takes time to learn how to do inbound marketing correctly. You must understand the inbound methodology of Attract, Convert, Close and Delight. 

There are 8 activities that are attached to each one of these components: Blogging, SEO, Social Media, Content Offers, CTAs, Landing Pages, Email and Lead Nurturing (Work Flows).

Then there’s the sales funnel you must perfect once you get the prospect on the line. All of these things need to be understood to successfully manage an inbound marketing campaign.

inbound marketing icons

To get trained on inbound marketing, checkout HubSpot Academy.

2. Time
Inbound marketing takes 6-12 months to start seeing viable results. This could be faster depending on your industry. Industries who have yet to engage in inbound marketing stand to profit the most (construction, engineering, certain sectors of technology, healthcare, medical device, transportation and manufacturing just to name a few). You will need to blog at least 1-2x per week, create content offers, curate content, interact with your followers, comment on posts, read and research as well as manage all of the activities from hurdle 1. You will need at least 10-15 hours minimum to conduct inbound effectively. If you don’t have that kind of time, an inbound marketing agency can help you split the workload.

3. Consistency
Without consistency in your blogging your results will fall short. Google demands fresh and relevant content. By updating and optimizing your blog weekly—with relevant and valuable content—your website’s search engine rankings will climb and you’ll begin to generate more traffic—which equals more leads—that lead to customers. 

inbound marketing sales funnel4. Analyzing
After you get your inbound engine humming, you’ll need to have an in-depth analytical tool to understand how your efforts are performing. We recommend a time-saving tool like HubSpot to quickly understand your analytics

5. Getting traction
There will be months were you will feel like you’re going backwards. Then all of sudden, a post will go viral and traffic spikes 500% and the leads poor in. I think in all of the campaigns I’ve seen, there are two to three months when you begin to question your commitment. The best way to get traction is to be consistent and keep going even when it gets tough. Write your blog posts with personality, pick topics that solve your customer’s problems and spend time promoting your content effectively. Eventually things will pick up, so don’t fret. Planning budget for PPC is a good idea when the going gets tough.

6. Price
Obviously price is always a hurdle. HubSpot pricing can be out of range for most startups and small businesses. However, by making the investment and putting some skin in the game—the time you save will be more than worth it. HubSpot’s all-in one-platform brings all the tools you need into one portal so you can effectively manage all your inbound activities at once.

When you factor in your marketing budget on alternative outbound methods like trade show, email blasts, buying lists, cold-calling, printed ads, radio or banner ads—inbound still provides the lowest cost-per-lead and delivers 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing. Inbound also provides the only systematic way to forecast sales, measure your brand and grow your business.  

Content marketing facts

  1. $135 billion will be spent on new digital marketing collateral (content) in 2014
  2. 78% of CMO’s think custom content is the future of marketing
  3. Internet advertising will make up 25% of the entire ad spend by 2015
  4. Social media marketing budgets will double over the next 5 years
  5. Email with social sharing buttons increase click-through rates by 158%
  6. Nearly 50% of companies have content marketing strategies
  7. 33% of traffic from Google’s organic search engine results go to the first item listed
  8. 67% of B2B content marketers consider event marketing essential
  9. 73% of reporters think press releases should contain images
  10. 72% of “Pay per Click” marketers plan to increase their budget in 2014
  11. 52% of all marketers have found a customer via Facebook in 2013
  12. B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads
  13. 43% of all marketers found a customer via LinkedIn
  14. 55% of marketers worldwide increased digital marketing budgets in 2013
  15. Customer testimonials have the highest effectiveness for content marketers at 89%
  16. Videos on landing pages increase conversions by 86%
  17. 65% of your audience are visual learners
  18. Marketers will use dynamic content to deliver highly personalized experiences to the right audiences at the right time
  19. Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads than traditional outbound marketing
  20. Visual data is processed 60,000 times faster by the brain than text.

SOURCE: Jeff Bullas 

inbound marketing trafficInbound marketing is not for everyone, but the up-side far outweighs the down-side. We’ve been doing inbound with HubSpot since January of 2014 and our results have been amazing. I’ve been very happy with our growth—this is coming from someone who works in the ultra-competitive marketing industry working in the Indianapolis and Denver markets.

Interested in learning if Inbound Marketing is right for your business? Please contact us for a free inbound marketing assessment. 

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Tool Kit
 

Running a successful inbound marketing campaign for your business is all about having the right tools. This guide will dive into which marketing tools you should use to conduct inbound marketing.

 

 

Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands in the hunting, outdoor and firearms industry who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

How-To-Use-Twitter-To-Grow-Your-Business

How To Use Twitter To Grow Your Business

By | Inbound Marketing

Twitter is a great social media platform for businesses. With over 255 million active users and over 500 million tweets per day, it is a very viable network to help grow your business or augment your marketing.

But the question remains for most business owners (and some marketers) … How can I use Twitter to grow my business?

You should use Twitter if you want to drive more traffic to your website, build your personal or corporate brand, interact with your customers or attract new customers. Twitter allows you to inform your customers of new products, provide customer support and create/maintain top–of-mind awareness.

If you’re a start-up or a small-medium sized business looking to generate traffic to your website and grow your business through this cost-effective social media channel, here are 10 tips you should consider.

1. Write an interesting profile description

The first step is to figure out what you should say about yourself or your brand. An interesting description goes a long way. You only have 160 characters to explain who you are. If you’re just starting out, write half of it about your interests and the second half about who you are. 
You can always change it later. 

Here are a few interesting and humorous examples:

  • @jimmyfallon – Astrophysicist

  • @hillaryclinton— Wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD…
  • @rumpArump — I still don’t understand Twitter, but here I am.
  • @ConanOBrien — The voice of the people. Sorry, people.
  • @karenrclark—I’ve never been a millionaire but I just know I’d be darling at it.
  • @richardbranson— Tie-loathing adventurer and thrill seeker, who believes in turning ideas into reality. Otherwise known as Dr Yes at @virgin!


    Still having trouble? Try the Twitter Bio Generator

2. Choose a professional photo and interesting background image


Recently, I conducted a Twitter test between my personal account and my business account. What I found is that my personal profile—in just two weeks—gained 150 more followers than my business account—and I tweeted the exact same content! The difference? People were more interested in me, than my business. Create a business and personal account and use both accounts to tweet out roughly the same content and see which one grows faster. Get a professional picture taken or choose one that is interesting and one where people can see your face clearly. For your background image, choose an engaging image that represents you or your brand.

3. Write valuable content


The #1 way that you can harness Twitter to grow your business is by creating your own content. By creating valuable content and tweeting it out, you are able to drive traffic to your website or blog. Once you get your followers to your website convert them into leads using call-to-actions and downloadable premium content offers.

4. Tweet valuable content (often) based on your buyer persona
Wondering what to tweet about? Knowing what to tweet about starts with your goals, your ideal customers and your interests. Start by identifying what your interests are and by identifying your buyer persona.

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They are based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.

By understanding your buyer persona, you are able to focus on what kind of content your customers/followers are interested in. This allows you to help solve their problems and in return builds trust, credibility and thought leadership.

Follow people who have the same interests as you. For businesses, follow people who you’d like to work with. Use Alltop to locate, curate and share content.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]Tip: When tweeting, follow the 80/20 rule. This means you want to share 80 percent of other people’s content and only 20 percent of your own content. Don’t make it all about you, make it about your followers. [/box]

How often should I tweet?
Users who tweet between 10 and 50 times per day have more followers on average than those that tweet more or less frequently. The sweet spot is about 22 tweets per day. (Source: Hubspot

[box type=”info” size=”large”]TIP: Track the efficiency of your efforts with TweetStats or Google Analytics to see how much traffic you are driving to your website. Use Followerwonk to understand who your followers are and when they are most active.[/box]

5. Always use images


Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites and 150% more retweets… so use images as much as you can. (Source: Buffer) Crop your images  to 440 x 220 px so they fit perfectly into the Twitter image box.


Twitter For Business Favorite6. Engage with your audience
If someone tweets something you like, favorite it by hitting the star button (see right). It sends a signal that you’re listening and are interested in your followers or the people you are following. Spend a few minutes sending a few messages and commenting on their tweets. 

7. Follow back

To retain followers, follow them back. You don’t have to follow everyone. Be aware of the spammers. They typically have the egg icon and/or a fake sounding description or those who promise to get you 10,000 followers.

[box type=”info” size=”large”]TIP: Use Unfollowme to clean out followers who are not following you back.[/box]

8. Use #hastags


The best ways to maximize your content is by using the hastag (#). Hashtags signify what kind topic you are writing about. By using the hashtag you can spread your content links farther for more exposure.

9. Specialize in something
In your bio, make sure to list some of the things you are interested. Use the hastag # to distinguish what topics you typically tweet about so your followers know what to expect from you. People will typically follow people with similar interests.

10. Buy some ads

Twitter will be moving to a paid advertising platform. This means as you create your own content, you will have to pay to boost the tweet higher in your follower’s feed. Be prepared to pay to get your tweets noticed. This is a good way to get added exposure, drive traffic and remain top-of-mind.

In conclusion, building a network on Twitter is easy—it just takes time. Create valuable content consistently geared toward your buyer persona and tweet at least 10-20 times a day and you’ll be well on your way to growing a healthy Twitter network.

 

30 Ways to Generate Leads inbound marketing
FREE DOWNLOAD:
30 Ways to Generate Leads

In this Ebook, you’ll get 30 tips, tricks and ideas on how to turn your website into a lead generating machine. 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

How-can-long-tail-keywords-help-my-business

How Can Long-Tail Keywords Help My Business?

By | Inbound Marketing, SEO

Did you know that if your website ranks within the top three listings on Google—your chances of getting clicked on is 6 times higher? Google refers to this as the golden triangle. See below.

For small business owners or start-ups trying to find a cost-effective marketing solution to generate revenue, attaining top 3 rankings on Google could mean the difference between stagnant or explosive growth.

Google controls almost 68% of all web search traffic (87% mobile) — Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. (Source: Internet Live)

Bing is second with 18.7% and Yahoo third with 10%. (Source: Search Engine Land). 

google heat map

If you’re website ranks in the 4th-10th position or is listed on the second page—your chances of being found drops considerably.

So how does one make it into the golden triangle?

Well luckily, due to changing consumer behavior—93% of all B2B and 83% of all B2C purchases begin with an online search (Source: Business 2 Community). Most of these queries are in the form of a question that contains more than one keyword.

 

What is a keyword?
Keywords consist of concise phrases that are one to three words long. Keywords can be anything that describes what you do: category, service, product, brand, location or person.

Here are some example keywords with their estimated monthly search volume: 


  • graphic design (74,000) 
  • realtor (70,000)
  • weight loss (1,500,000)
  • swimming pool (49,500) 
  • brand development (1,000) 
  • cars (1,500,000)

The terms above are highly trafficked and extremely difficult to rank for.

Keywords should always be placed in the title of your website and sprinkled into the copy of your content—but only if it makes sense. Write copy for people, not search engines.

What makes keywords difficult to rank for?
Keywords with a difficulty of 60 or higher (on a scale of 1-100) are highly competitive because there are hundreds or even thousands of competitors in one given category. The more companies fighting for the same keyword, the harder it is to rank.

What is a long-tail keyword?
Long-tail keywords are more conducive of today’s user behavior and easier to rank for. After all, if you have a question—whom do you ask? Today, a rising majority of people turn to Google.

Long-tail keywords add more keywords to the base phrase and are typically created by stating a question. So using our terms above, this is how long-tail keywords look:

As you can see, by adding 2-3 more keywords (adjectives, nouns or verbs), to your string—you can potentially move your web pages, blogs or landing pages higher up in search engine results.

How to choose the right keywords?
Relevance is key in choosing keywords. Make sure when choosing your keywords you select the ones that most closely describe your product or service. Another method that should be considered is adding a location. By adding a location like Denver or Indianapolis, you concentrate your results to a specific geographic location. This can align your search engine rankings to local competitors and bypass national or global competitors which tend to be harder to rank against.

Here are a few tools to help you choose the right keywords:

long-tail keyword searchWordtracker
The best place to start with understanding what keywords you should go for is Wordtracker. Wordtracker gives you the ability to start with a seed keyword that in turn gives you results based on that term. It will also provide search volume and competition. So for example, if I search for “types of lemurs.” See right.

HubSpot
HubSpot’s keyword tool displays the same information as Wordtracker, but is much easier to use. We use HubSpot for all of our keyword research and analysis. It allows us to track our keyword progress as keywords climb in rankings and allow us to see what our competitors are up to. It also shows us other keyword opportunities that may exist.

The concepts of keywords are fairly easy to grasp, but knowing where to start is the first step.

With a little understanding of how long-tail keywords work, you can begin attracting visitors to your web pages–even in highly competitive categories.

So how do I use long tail keywords?
It all starts with a blog. If you’re not consistently updating your blog on a regular basis, and are competing for competitive keywords, it’s going to be very difficult to rank. You may try Pay Per Click—which is paid advertising on Google—but chances are those keywords will be very expensive.

How do I track progress?
There are several free tools out there to help you track your keyword’s progress. Google Analytics is a free service you can install on your website. A paid version we recommend is Counter Central. Google and other search engines typically crawl your website once a month looking for updates. Recently, its been noted that this is done on a weekly basis. Check back once a week and record your progress. Here are some additional tips to speed up your crawl rate

To get started with long-tail keywords and blogging, check out the free resource below. Good luck!

Inbound Marketing Toolkit

 

Free Download:
Inbound Marketing Tool Kit
 

Get started with Inbound Marketing by learning about the tools needed to grow your business and prove ROI.

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.

 

How-To-Plan-and-Build-an-Automated-Lead-Nurturing-Workflow

How To Plan and Build an Automated Lead Nurturing Workflow

By | Inbound Marketing

 

Your campaign doesn’t end when leads convert on your landing page. Understanding your buyer’s journey from Awareness to Consideration to Decision is critically important in setting up lead nurturing workflows.

marketing-lifecycle-buyers-journey

What is a workflow?
Workflows give you the ability to automate your marketing to actual people, not just clicks and opens. A workflow tool is included in most marketing automation platforms like HubSpot.

What is lead nurturing?
Lead nurturing is a workflow of engaging contacts via automated touches (email) to build a relationship; with the end goal of closing a more educated and qualified customer. When engaging in lead nurturing, you need to be aware of three principles that will make them effective.

Each workflow should address the following:

Grow and nurture relationships – Ask yourself, is this adding value to the contact or is it self-serving?

Educational content – Does this content help or educate your contact?

Hyper-personalization – Try to personalize your workflows as much as possible. This is also called segmentation. As an example, don’t send emails meant for C-Suite executives to mid-level managers. Create and tailor content based on your buyer persona.

Lead nurturing is especially effective for businesses that offer complex products and services. Lead nurturing helps educate your prospect by spoon feeding them information in a way that educates them slowly that doesn’t overwhelm them; with the end goal of moving them from awareness to decision.

Here are some facts as to why lead nurturing is important:

  • 79% of marketing leads never convert into sales. Lack of lead nurturing is the common cause of this poor performance. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Only 25% of leads are legitimate and should advance to sales. (Source: Gleanster Research)
  • Research shows that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. (Source: InsideSales.com)
  • 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to Sales; however, only 27% of those leads will be qualified. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. (Source: The Annuitas Group)
  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • A whopping 68% of B2B organizations have not identified their funnel. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
  • By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship without talking to a human. (Source: Gartner Research)

In this post, I give you 5 best practices for automating your lead nurturing workflows.

1. Identify the goal of the workflow
The most popular goal of any workflow is based around the marketing lifecycle. Your focus will be on moving your contact to the next stage of the lifecycle.

So for example, a workflow goal would look something like this:

  • Goal = Download Whitepaper
Goal = Contact attends webinar
  • Goal= Visits x number pages on your website
  • Goal= Contact request demo
  • Goal= Contact signs contract

Workflow Sales FunnelTo the right is a sample workflow that overlays the sales funnel and buyers lifecycle with the inbound marketing methodology. We will discuss the types of email to send once the contact opts in to the sales funnel shortly. The goal of this workflow is to move them through your workflow in an effort to build trust—so that they achieve your end goal. In this example the end-goal is: request a demo.

2. Identify contacts that should be enrolled in your workflow
When designing your workflows, make sure to enroll the correct personas. This can be done through your landing page forms by requiring your visitor to self-identify. See Landing Page Best Practices.

3. Select the appropriate number and type of emails to send
To identify the appropriate number of emails you should send, breakdown the types of email into 4 classes:

1. Email 1: Goal = Build trust/condition

The purpose of this type of email is to build trust and relevancy. Make sure whatever you send, it’s something your contact will find useful. The email should also reference why you’re reaching out to them and provide some useful blog links (this is a great way to drive additional traffic to your website). When executed correctly, you’ll begin to build trust that will help condition them to open future emails. 

Keep your emails short and simple, make sure the subject line is relevant to the action the contact took, always include a link back to the page they signed up on and personalize it. Delay 4 days from first touch.



2. Email 2: Goal = Additional downloads
Once you’ve establish some level of trust, you want to begin to draw a connection between the topic of your workflow and your solution. This could be in the form of whitepapers, ebooks, webinars or case studies. You allow them to consume your resources to further understand your organizations value. At this stage you are not yet selling them. You are still building trust. Delay 4 days from second touch.



3. Email 3 & 4: Goal = Soft/Hard Goal
By now, your contacts that are engaged will trust you and are beginning to understand the value of your organization and how you will solve their problem. You’ve probably seen them on your website a few more times—these are signals of a qualified lead. Now is the time to position your goal of the workflow (request a demo) as the next logical step for the contact to take. Position this step as part of the discovery process by focusing on delivering more detail on how you can specifically help them. At this point, they should be interested in talking to you and signing up for a demo. Delay 3 days from third touch.

4. Email 5: Goal = Breakup/Goal Action

The break-up email is designed to make it clear that this is the last email they will be receiving in conjunction with the type of emails they’ve been getting. Our goal with this email is to make one last-ditch effort to complete your goal (request a demo). Let them know this is the last email, and ask them to subscribe to your blog. Believe it or not, a P.S. works well here. Delay 3 days from fourth touch.



4. A word on timing
Timing is always important when nurturing your leads. You can easily upset people by emailing them too much or too little. There is a delicate balance when playing with the timing of your emails. Experiment with what times work best. Do not email your contact every day otherwise you’ll get flagged for spam. A safe place to start is one email every week for 4 weeks.

5. Identify contacts to suppress from your workflow
When setting up your lead nurturing workflows make sure to exclude any current customers, opportunities, competitors or contacts were a specific product or service is not relevant.

What if a contact just bypasses the whole workflow and calls me? Sometimes, a contact will just call you after spending some time on your website and bypass the entire workflow. Continue to follow the workflow and be prepared to tweak it slightly. The goal is still to educate them and distinguish your services from potential competitors they may be evaluating.

In conclusion, the lead nurturing process always starts with a desired end goal. Each email should be educational, simple and short, personalized and timed correctly. Each stage of the buyer’s lifecycle should be kept in mind as you move your contact to the next stage. By conducting lead nurturing you can expect to send your sales team more “sales-qualified” leads and close more business. 

30 Ways to Generate Leads inbound marketing
FREE DOWNLOAD:
30 Ways to Generate Leads

In this Ebook, we give you 30 tips, tricks and ideas on how to turn your website into a lead generating machine. 

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Brand Development Inbound Marketing Consultant

By Josh Claflin, Brand Development, Inbound Marketing & Creative Strategy
Josh helps brands who are struggling to develop their brand; grow, stabilize or increase profits through their websites; increase revenue through online channels and enter the digital era of marketing.