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Blog Insights

Useful Tips and Tricks to Help You Grow

1 min read

3 social media rising stars

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 5, 2019 10:00:00 AM

If you’re a smart marketer, you’re using Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. But just because they’re among the top social media platforms now doesn’t mean they always will be.

To stay ahead of the curve, keep an eye on these up-and-coming social media platforms.

Topics: Social media
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1 min read

6 tricks for Facebook marketing success

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 1, 2019 10:36:51 AM

Facebook is the most popular social network, so if you want to attract prospects, a Facebook presence is a must-have.

Topics: Social media
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1 min read

The best SEO extensions for Google Chrome

By Courtney Stallings on Sep 21, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Need to improve SEO and maximize your time? There’s a Google Chrome extension for that!

Topics: SEO
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3 Google Docs add-ons you didn't know you needed

By Courtney Stallings on Sep 14, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Even if you've used Google Docs for years, you may have overlooked several useful add-ons, including:

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1 min read

Landing page best practices

By Courtney Stallings on Sep 7, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Landing pages are your chance to capture visitors’ contact information and convert them to leads. To improve your chances of conversion, you need a well-designed landing page.

Consider these best practices:

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Clean, consistent, clickable URLs

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 31, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Link shorteners have two significant benefits:

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How to go viral

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 26, 2019 8:11:10 AM

Although there isn’t a proven equation for creating viral content, there are strategies that encourage viewers to engage and share in blogs and on social media.

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The most common (paid) ways to advertise online

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 17, 2019 10:00:00 AM

We’ve discussed free advertising, but we all know free advertising alone won’t cut it.

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Diversify your content with infographics

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 10, 2019 10:00:00 AM

It’s time to diversify and offer other forms of content to appeal to new audiences – and infographics are an excellent place to start!

Here are 3 common infographics and tips for making them:

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1 min read

3 free ways to advertise your business

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 3, 2019 10:00:00 AM

It’s frustrating when your budget restricts your advertising options and limits how many people your business can reach. Luckily, you can advertise your business for free!

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7 tools to improve your writing

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 27, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Good inbound marketing equals creating great content ... sometimes easier said than done.

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Your prospects are reading, so get writing! (4 reasons you need ebooks.)

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 20, 2019 10:00:00 AM

You know how important blogging and social media are, but have you been overlooking ebooks? If so, you’re making a mistake.

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1 min read

4 things your website needs more than beauty

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 13, 2019 10:00:00 AM

A beautiful but dysfunctional website drives prospects away – if they find your site at all. 

Here are 4 things your website needs more than beauty.

Topics: website
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1 min read

Make your website faster

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 6, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Load times of 7+ seconds equals a 113% higher bounce rate. Google scores your page speed on a scale of zero to 100.

Topics: website
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1 min read

Is your website missing something? A plugin could be the answer.

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 29, 2019 10:00:00 AM

The beauty of website plugins is their simplicity – set one up and improve the functionality of your site.

Topics: website
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1 min read

Be social

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 22, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Over 97% of marketers use social media to increase audience engagement. But how do you choose the right platform for your business?

Topics: Social media
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1 min read

Videos you need

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 17, 2019 3:53:59 PM

Marketers who use video content increase revenue 49% faster than non-video users.

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1 min read

Landing pages you've been neglecting

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 17, 2019 3:23:32 PM

Landing pages increase conversions, gather leads, and drive traffic.

But there are 3 you’re probably neglecting.

Topics: website
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1 min read

Get visual, visual (the best photo editing apps)

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 1, 2019 10:00:00 AM

People like to be shown, not told, so you need compelling photos.

Topics: website
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Make movie magic (the best video editing apps)

By Courtney Stallings on May 25, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Recording videos is straightforward enough (most smartphones have high-quality cameras), but what happens when it’s time to edit the raw footage into a publication-ready video?

Topics: video
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1 min read

MORE social media tools you didn't know about (but need)

By Courtney Stallings on May 18, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Social media is a jungle. Which platforms should you use? Which apps, integrations, add-ons, tools, networks? Last week we shared tools for visual media.

Topics: Social media
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1 min read

Social media tools you didn't know about (but need)

By Courtney Stallings on May 11, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Visual media posts – images, videos, GIFs, infographics, etc. – get three times as much engagement on social media as text-only posts.

Use these tools to create better visual media posts and increase your reach on social media.

Topics: Social media
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The sky's the limit

By Courtney Stallings on May 4, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Non-integrating applications make it difficult to align departments, meet company-wide goals, and cater to customer needs.

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1 min read

How to write emails people will read

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 27, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Good email marketing is sending emails to people who want to receive them – but even that doesn’t mean people will read the emails and click through to your offer.

Use these tips to improve your emails' open rates, clickthrough rates, and lead generation potential.

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1 min read

Spread the workload with email autoresponders

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 20, 2019 10:00:00 AM

59% of marketers say email is their biggest source of ROI.

But how to manage all that email? Autoresponders! (A form of marketing automation.)

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

The best free email accounts

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 13, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Even the rise of office chat platforms can’t eliminate the need for email, and it’s challenging to find a free email service that balances features and usability.

These 3 free email accounts hit the mark.

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1 min read

Will chatbot landing pages be the next big thing?

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 6, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Static landing pages can be tedious. Impersonal. Not flexible. Not accommodating. Not real time.

Topics: website
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1 min read

Getting stuff done is easier with Google

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 30, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Google recently re-released their calendar with several updated (and new) features!

Use these Google Calendar hacks to make your life easier.

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1 min read

It's on a 'need-to-know' basis

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 23, 2019 10:00:00 AM

And here's what you DON'T need to know.

Just because you don’t know how to code doesn’t mean you can’t build a website – there are affordable, intuitive website builders you can use to develop a robust site without any coding knowledge.

Here are 3 of the best website builders for 2019:

Topics: website
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It's not an invasion

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 16, 2019 10:00:00 AM

AI-powered chatbots use machine learning and natural language processing to understand customer intent and respond in a natural, human way.

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1 min read

Tools to help you optimize your videos

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 9, 2019 10:00:00 AM

We explained why optimizing YouTube videos is so important and that top strategies include choosing good keywords and correctly tagging/categorizing your videos. But you can’t do all that with YouTube alone. 

Topics: video
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Optimizing YouTube for search engines

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 2, 2019 10:00:00 AM

When inbound marketing started, content was primarily the written word, but a strong content strategy now includes written work and media like podcasts and videos.

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1 min read

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 23, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Podcasting is hard work, but it’s worth it.

Here are 4 reasons to start a business podcast:

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1 min read

Alpha bravo

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 16, 2019 10:00:00 AM

With A/B testing, you tweak small components on a page – colors, CTAs, images, etc. Group A sees one version, Group B sees another; analysis shows which tweak performs better and results in better conversion rates.

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Whether you love it or hate it, it still works

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 9, 2019 10:00:00 AM

As marketers, we know persuading an audience requires evoking an emotional response. But how?

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

Good things come in small packages

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 2, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Shortening your links benefits you 3 ways:

Topics: website
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You can do it with your eyes closed

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 26, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Tired of the resource-wasting, productivity-destroying, snooze-fest that is manual data entry?

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2 min read

Have a pen and paper?

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 19, 2019 10:00:00 AM

You won't need it with these note-taking apps!

The Apple store offers hundreds of note-taking apps, and there are hundreds more for Android, Windows, and online. So ... how do you choose?

We did some digging for you, and here are the top three contenders. 

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1 min read

I'd tell you, but then I'd have to kill you

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 12, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Sending private messages via email is risky – the recipient could forward it to your arch nemesis or keep it as blackmail.

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

Nice to meet you!

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 5, 2019 10:00:00 AM

Your "About Us" page is one of the most important pages on your website, and it needs to be well crafted. Here's how to write a well-crafted “About Us” page:

Establish a mission statement

What’s your goal in the industry?

Outline your company story

What milestones led your company to where it is today?

Discuss how you've evolved

What ideals helped your business mature?

State your "aha!" moment

What idea led you to open a business?

Explain who you serve

Define your target customer – who should care you exist?

Explain what you offer

What do your customers get from doing business with you?

Cite examples of loyal customers

Who trusts you and benefits from your business?

Define your values

What bigger picture in life drives your business?

“About Us” pages are the second most visited page on a website (second to the home page), so get it right with our tips*.

*Get more information (and examples) here.

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Topics: website
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1 min read

What's trending for 2019?

By Courtney Stallings on Dec 29, 2018 10:00:00 AM

We don’t know which marketing trends will dominate 2019, but 2018’s trends lead us to these predictions:

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There's an app for that

By Courtney Stallings on Dec 22, 2018 10:00:00 AM

You need Google My Business – it’s a free tool that helps your business stand out on Google and attract new customers.

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It's crunch time

By Courtney Stallings on Dec 15, 2018 10:00:00 AM

December 2018 is over in 16 days … have you created a strategy for a successful 2019 yet?

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1 min read

Sounds like blasphemy …

By Courtney Stallings on Dec 8, 2018 10:31:22 AM

... but Google isn’t the only way to do search advertising.

Topics: Leads-Sales
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Wherever they go, there you are

By Courtney Stallings on Dec 1, 2018 9:55:00 AM

GeoFencing is a digital advertising technique that lets you reach people on their mobile device when they enter a specified area.
Topics: Leads-Sales
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Things you didn't know were comparable: Thanksgiving meals and marketing

By Courtney Stallings on Nov 24, 2018 9:41:00 AM

It's a little cheesy, we know, but we think you can compare your marketing to a Thanksgiving dinner.

Topics: website
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1 min read

100 is the magic number

By Courtney Stallings on Nov 17, 2018 9:53:00 AM

You’ve found the right approach to marketing, selling, and servicing customers. You’ve created a customer welcome kit. Now what?

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1 min read

The welcome wagon

By Courtney Stallings on Nov 10, 2018 1:57:37 PM

When you’ve found the right approach to marketing, selling, and servicing customers, the next tool you need is a customer welcome kit.

Topics: strategy
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Setting the stage for a good customer experience

By Courtney Stallings on Nov 3, 2018 2:44:11 PM

Before you create a consistent approach to marketing, selling, and servicing customers, make sure it’s the RIGHT approach.

Topics: strategy
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1 min read

If you build it (right), they will come

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 20, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Website architecture is how your site’s structure helps users find information quickly and easily, and it’s important because it keeps visitors on your page and improves your search rankings.

Topics: website
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1 min read

Are your forms performing poorly?

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 13, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Web forms are vital for conversions. So what do you do when yours aren’t working?

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Everybody loves a well-written story

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 6, 2018 9:53:00 AM

We started talking about storytelling but took a break because we needed your help.

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It's a tale as old as time, a song as old as rhyme

By Courtney Stallings on Sep 22, 2018 8:44:00 AM

Storytelling is a crucial component of successful marketing. We advocate for inbound marketing, which includes creating content to draw prospects in. What better way to do that than a story?

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Nothing’s official ‘til it’s on Facebook, right?

By Courtney Stallings on Sep 15, 2018 10:04:00 AM

Many B2B brands struggle to run successful Facebook ad campaigns. Don’t be one of them by following these tips.

Topics: Social media
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NEW ways to improve your emails

By Courtney Stallings on Sep 8, 2018 10:00:00 AM

Email marketing is hard but rewarding (if you do it right.) Use these 4 tips to improve your emails:

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Repurposing content for videos

By Courtney Stallings on Sep 1, 2018 8:59:00 AM

Starting a video marketing campaign from scratch is no small undertaking – luckily, you don't have to. 

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'Form'ing customer relationships ... a formula for forms

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 25, 2018 9:53:00 AM

A form is a critical step for converting prospects into customers, so form them right. (See what we did there?)

Here are a few tips:

Topics: website
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Are you missing something?

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 18, 2018 10:57:00 AM

There are many ways to connect with people today.

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You can’t plagiarize yourself … can you?

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 17, 2018 11:09:00 AM

A time will come when you feel like you’ve exhausted a topic. Instead of racking your brain for a new topic, however, look at your old content to see if it could be reused.

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Let someone else do the heavy lifting

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 11, 2018 1:24:27 PM

Are you leveraging your current customers’ positive experiences to bring in new business?

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Not leaving home is the biggest thing in shopping

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 4, 2018 2:25:23 PM

The eCommerce industry is booming, and you can reap its benefits if you pay attention to these trends:

Topics: website
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Patience is a virtue … except online

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 28, 2018 4:43:33 PM

“Patience is a virtue” doesn’t apply online – even one-second delays increase bounce rates and affect your search rankings.

Topics: website
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Rest in peace, Google rankings … there are new search results in town

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 14, 2018 3:27:44 PM

Last week, we told you that while SEO is NOT dead, several SEO tactics ARE dead.

This week, we’re telling you your Google rank doesn’t matter anymore.

Topics: SEO website
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Extra butter with your popcorn? (What’s new in video.)

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 7, 2018 11:35:00 AM

Video. We’ve mentioned it before, and you can bet we’ll mention it again.

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False alarm – SEO isn’t dead!

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 30, 2018 5:09:00 PM

If you heard that SEO is dead, you heard wrong.

Topics: SEO
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We’re guilty, too – we judge books by their covers

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 23, 2018 12:02:33 PM

Product packaging influences our purchasing decisions, and smart packaging is so much more than what a box looks like – it’s about how it makes you feel. (No matter how rational you think you are, your emotions always influence your purchasing decisions.)

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Yes ... social bookmarking is for B2B, too.

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 16, 2018 12:00:00 PM

Social bookmarking websites allow people to connect with others and find, share, and get recommendations for interesting content.

Topics: Social media
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Get back to the basics – don’t destroy your foundation

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 9, 2018 11:55:00 AM

It feels like nothing works well enough to make the impact you wanted – so you get caught up with the shiny new marketing objects hoping you’ll find the next big thing.

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Write a love letter to your customers

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 2, 2018 9:53:00 AM

Quick, buyer personas: Ask about demographics, education, careers/jobscompanies, information sources, shopping preferencesand emotional triggersAnd don't do the interviews yourself.

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You can’t be your own therapist – and you shouldn’t interview your own clients

By Courtney Stallings on May 26, 2018 9:53:00 AM

You’ve been building buyer personas by interviewing customers and learning about their demographics, education, careers/jobscompanies, information sources, shopping preferences, and emotional triggers. Sounds like enough information to finish up those personas, right?

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Time to get personal – take a walk in their shoes

By Courtney Stallings on May 19, 2018 9:53:00 AM

Buyer personas are based on information you’ve learned about your ideal clients’ demographics, education, careers/jobscompanies, information sources, and shopping preferences.

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Double Jeopardy – more questions for buyer personas

By Courtney Stallings on May 12, 2018 9:53:00 AM

As a reminder, buyer personas are “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research and data about your existing customers.” (via HubSpot)

Last week we talked about building buyer personas by interviewing your current clients and collecting information about their demographics, education, and careers/jobs.

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These questions are easier than Jeopardy – but they’re important for buyer personas

By Courtney Stallings on May 5, 2018 6:35:17 PM

Buyer personas are a crucial component of successful inbound marketing (As a refresher, they’re “semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on market research and data about your existing customers.” [via HubSpot])

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3 free website analysis tools ... how does your site measure up?

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 28, 2018 9:53:00 AM

Does it ever feel like Google waits for you to feel confident about your website before updating their algorithm and making your efforts instantly obsolete?

If that's the case, consider using the website analysis tools below.

Topics: keywords SEO
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Four Google tools you didn't know you needed

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 21, 2018 9:53:00 AM

Google has an impressive array of tools,* and we've covered several (AdWords, My Business, Analytics, and others), but it seems there are always more.

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How to create good webinars

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 14, 2018 9:53:00 AM

Webinars solidify customer relationships by offering useful content and serve as a non-pressured conversation with prospects.

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Don't leave Facebook ... just update your privacy settings

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 31, 2018 9:53:00 AM

Online privacy is a hot topic since Mark Zuckerberg let Cambridge Analytica steal your Facebook data.

Topics: Social media
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I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you … how to be “heard” on voice search

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 17, 2018 9:53:00 AM

Voice search is the NEXT. BIG. THING.

Topics: SEO
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Quick: to the bottom of the sales funnel!

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 17, 2018 9:53:00 AM

The sales funnel is the three stages customers go through leading up to their decision to buy something.

Topics: Leads-Sales
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Don't blink ... you might miss these design trends

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 10, 2018 3:11:00 PM

You know how those embarrassing clothes you wore in the 80s are – inexplicably – making a comeback?

Topics: website
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Microsoft doesn't break everything it touches ... it improved LinkedIn

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 10, 2018 9:16:00 AM

After Microsoft acquired LinkedIn in 2016, the social media giant has gone through some monumental changes.

Here are 3* of those changes.

Topics: Social media
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Inquiring minds want to know. (Why you need an FAQ page.)

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 17, 2018 1:30:00 PM

An FAQ (frequently asked questions) page is a way to connect with your customers and answer their most common questions.

Topics: website
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Do you really have a website without these pages?

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 10, 2018 1:12:00 PM

 Your website is unique to your business, but it shouldn't be too unique  below are 7 pages websites should have.

Home

This is your front door. Use engaging website copy that highlights your most compelling benefits and eye-catching visuals to capture visitors' attention. (You have 8 seconds.)

About Us

Your opportunity to answer questions like 'Who owns this business and what is its history?' 'What makes you different and unique?' (Avoid generalities like "We're committed to quality.")

Products/services 

What products and services do you offer?

FAQs

The place to answer questions your customers always ask. It’s a time-saver for both you and your prospects and a great place to give information about your company.  

Testimonials

Offers “social proof” that others are pleased with your products/services. You can use quotes, statements, etc. from current customers, but video is the jackpot of testimonial credibility.

Blog

Establishes you as a thought leader in your industry, creates relationships without requiring anyone to talk to anyone else, and gives search engines more searchable material to bring people to your site.

Contact Us

Makes it easy for visitors to contact you by offering your email address, phone number, physical address, and social media links.

The way you present the content on these 7 pages can be as unique as you are but to have an effective website, the pages aren't optional.

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Topics: website
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A single letter changes so much (why an 's' is so important)

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 3, 2018 1:26:00 PM

In the past, only companies that asked for confidential information had https websites, and that’s because the extra “s” indicates SSL, or secure sockets layer, which encrypts a user’s connection to a site so hackers can’t intercept their data.

Topics: website
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The right way to use LinkedIn

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 27, 2018 1:50:00 PM

Used correctly, LinkedIn can expand your contact base and increase lead generation.

But. (Of course there’s a but.)

Topics: Social media
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Don't get lost in cyberspace

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 15, 2017 4:55:00 PM

Your website is perfect – beautiful, easy to navigate, informative ...

But can people find it? Because if they can't, nothing else about it matters.

There are several ways to be found online:

  • Organically – drawing traffic in with good SEO techniques, excellent content, and a strong social media strategy
  • Earned attention – teaching people about your business through public relations and public speaking
  • Paid promotion – forcing people to know about your business through advertising and pay-per-click campaigns they can't ignore

 

Why is the internet, your website, and being found online more important than ever? Consider these statistics:

In 2009:

  • 55% of leads came from the internet
  • 19% through direct mail
  • 11% through email
  • 15% through events

 

In 2010, things changed:

  • 58% internet
  • 21% direct mail
  • 9% email
  • 12% events

 

In 2015, things changed drastically:

  • 71% web
  • 14% direct mail
  • 6% email
  • 9% events

 

The internet numbers are only going to continue to go up, because the internet is easy – you can use it in front of the TV in your pajamas while eating a snack. And now that everyone has a smartphone, it's even easier! 

So I don't have to tell you that your website and online presence are VITAL to your business's success.

Topics: website
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This isn't goodbye forever ... just goodbye for now

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 21, 2017 6:49:00 PM

By the time you get to the bottom of this email, you’ll know exactly how your marketing maturity and sophistication stack up.

Today we tackle your marketing budget, and we’re going to talk in terms of absent, unpredictable, waves, and predictable.

If your marketing budget is less than $5K per year or if you funnel less than 2% of your revenue back into your marketing, your results are going to be absent.

If you spend approximately $15K per year or funnel less than 4% of your revenue back into your marketing, your strategy results will be unpredictable.

Bump your budget up to $20K to $30K but 6% or less of your revenue and your results will come in waves.

Of course, there’s a holy grail of budgeting, too: when you spend $30,000 (or more) per year or funnel 7% (or more) of your revenue back into your marketing, you are going to get predictable results.

Predictable marketing results come not only from how much you spend on your marketing but also from having a consistent strategy across all facets of your marketing – strategy, content, total online presence, marketing hourglass, lead generation, and lead conversion.

Knowledge is power, as they say, so now that you know how to make your marketing more mature and sophisticated, go forth and multiply!

Download our Marketing Maturity eBook
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1 min read

From friends to acquaintances ... from leads to customers

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 20, 2017 1:47:00 PM

Lead generation is the process of attracting and converting prospects into leads – basically, warming up potential customers and moving them into the marketing hourglass.

Lead conversion, then, is turning leads into customers.

Topics: Leads-Sales
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If you build it, they will come

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 19, 2017 1:47:00 PM

The sand has run through the marketing hourglass, but there’s still more to learn about your marketing maturity and sophistication – this week we tackle lead generation.

Lead generation is how you warm up potential customers and move them into the marketing hourglass.

For lead generation:

An absent strategy is when you’re relying solely on things like referrals and trade shows to bring customers in.

If your strategy is reactive, referrals are still generating 50%+ of your leads and you’re still using trade shows, but you’re also getting a few online leads and using advertising or direct mail programs.

When referrals and online leads each bring in 30%(ish) of your leads, you have a more organized approach to trade shows, and you have planned advertising or other lead generation programs, your strategy is sporadic.

At the holy grail of a consistent strategy, you’re able to execute varied lead generation campaigns based on your sales goals and needs.

Because lead generation is the process of attracting and converting prospects into leads, your business cannot move forward without a good lead generation strategy.

Next week, we’ll cover turning leads into customers – aka lead conversion!

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1 min read

Time's up! It's time to flip your hourglass over.

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 18, 2017 1:46:00 PM

The marketing hourglass is the 7-step journey a customer takes through the buying process: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer.

Now, if you’ll remember the beginning of our marketing sophistication series, we talked about how a strategy can be absent, reactive, sporadic, or consistent.

In the case of the marketing hourglass, aabsent strategy finds you trying to move prospects from know directly to buy, skipping like, trust, and try.

When your marketing hourglass strategy is reactive, you’re still skipping like, trust, and try but have added random programs in an attempt to achieve repeat and refer.

If you’re moving prospects through know, like, and trust to buy (skipping try) and have programs for repeat but are still not accomplishing refer, your strategy is sporadic.

Finally, there’s the holy grail – a consistent marketing hourglass strategy. In this case, you know all 7 steps of the customer journey and have marketing tactics designed to address each of them.

Next week we leave the hourglass behind and move ahead into lead generation strategy!

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1 min read

Like sand through an hourglass

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 17, 2017 1:46:00 PM

The marketing hourglass is almost empty – we’ve moved from knowlike, and trust to try, and if you did try right, you’re sliding down into buy, repeat, and refer.

Buy means ... exactly what it sounds like – a prospective customer purchases your product or service. Make it a positive experience with an intuitive buying process, a customer orientation process, open lines of communication, etc. (Here’s where you ‘wow’ them!)

Repeat means repeat purchases from the same customer. This is not a passive phase – don’t wait around for them to love your product so much they come back. Follow up with surveys about their experience and send them (with their permission), content about new products and coupons/other perks.

Refer means turning happy customers into customers who bring other customers. Give customers a noteworthy experience and have a process that makes it easy for them to refer you and they’ll happily extol your virtues!

A functional marketing hourglass is a beautiful thing, but don’t get cocky – it’s never finished. You should continually seek improvement; for example, monitor the places where people get stuck between steps and change your approach to make the journey smoother.

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If at first you don't succeed ... TRY, try again

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 16, 2017 1:46:00 PM

As the sand in our marketing hourglass keeps falling, it’s time to talk about the “try” portion of it. (Remember, it's know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, refer.)

Try is a phase you might be tempted to skip, but it's critically important that you DON’T – it’s one of the easiest ways to get people to buy, especially in highly competitive/high-priced situations.

If you sell a product, try is pretty easy – just give people a way to use your product before they buy it.

Consider:

  • Test/trial offers
  • Freemium or “lite” offers
  • Free samples

 

It IS a little harder when you sell services or knowledge. In this case, try is giving away knowledge or some of the experience of working with you at low (that’s right – try doesn’t have to be free) or no cost so someone will understand what it’s really like to work with you before they buy the full offer.

Consider:

  • Audits
  • Reviews
  • Free inspections
  • Workshops

 

If prospective customers are in the try stage, it means they know, like, and trustyou already, and the try is your chance to give them a subtle nudge toward buy. Consider it an audition – you can’t get the part unless you try out.

Remember: THIS IS A CRITICALLY IMPORTANT STEP THAT YOU CANNOT SKIP. If you do, prospective customers may never become actual customers and even when they do, you’ll have a longer sales cycles.

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1 min read

To know me is to love me

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 15, 2017 1:46:00 PM

And we’re back with the marketing hourglass! Today we’re going to tackle the know, like, and trust steps in a prospective customer’s journey to find the perfect product/service.

Know – how do you get people to realize you exist?

  • Write blogs
  • Optimize content for search engines
  • Ask for referrals from current customers

 

Like – how do you get people to like you?

  • Have an easy-to-use website
  • Offer helpful content
  • Be relatable (by sharing your sense of humor, for example)

 

Trust – how do you foster trust once people know and like you?

  • Get testimonials from current customers
  • Do the things you say you’ll do (follow through)
  • Offer helpful content

 

Once these 3 steps in the marketing hourglass are complete, it's time to get prospective customers through 'try' and ‘buy’ to become ‘repeat’ and ‘refer’ customers.

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An hourglass is more than Barbie's body type ... it's for marketing, too!

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 14, 2017 1:45:00 PM

The next part of our marketing sophistication and maturity series is the marketing hourglass. The marketing hourglass is the process/journey/life cycle that prospective customers move through as they explore their options.  We all go through this process at some level with every decision we make.

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It'll fall right out of your head if you don't write it down!

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 13, 2017 1:45:00 PM

 

After our last few emails, you should know if your marketing, content planning/creation, and total online presence strategies are absent, reactive, sporadic, or consistent.

Today, we’re going to talk about a calendar, and how much you need one.

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2 min read

Don't be a wallflower ... work the room!

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 12, 2017 1:45:00 PM

Welcome back! (To our series about marketing sophistication and maturity, that is.) We’ve covered strategy, content planning/creation, and a total online presence. 

Today's topic? Social media!

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It's not bragging if other people are saying it

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 11, 2017 1:44:00 PM

We've returned  and so have you!  to our series about marketing sophistication and maturity. We’ve covered many things, like strategy, content planning/creation, and several steps to having a total online presence. 

Today's topic is customer testimonials

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2 min read

Hide & seek is the wrong game for your business to play

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 10, 2017 1:44:00 PM

We're glad to see you again in our series about marketing sophistication and maturity! We’ve covered   strategy ,   content planning/creation , and the first two steps to a  total online presencea customer-centric website  and   SEO .  
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Is your SEO ready and raring to go?

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 9, 2017 1:44:00 PM

Welcome back to our series about marketing sophistication and maturity! We’ve covered strategy, content planning/creation, and the first step of getting the total online presence you need to be successful.

Topics: SEO
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1 min read

How mature is your online presence?

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 8, 2017 9:18:00 AM

So far in our series about marketing sophistication and maturity, we’ve covered strategy and content planning/creation.

This week we’re honing in on your online strategy. Your goal is to have a ‘total online presence,’ wherein you have the following elements:

  • A customer-centric website
  • Search engine optimization
  • Directory listings
  • Social media participation
  • Customer reviews/testimonials

 

Like strategy and content planning/creation, a total online presence can be absent, reactive, sporadic, or consistent.

In the next few weeks, we’ll go deeper on each of the bullets above.

For this week, it’s about having a customer-centric website.

An absent online strategy means you designed your website with only aesthetics in mind, and you've probably never updated it.

If your strategy is reactive, your website is still design-only but has most likely been updated in the last 2 years.

With a sporadic strategy, your website has conversion plugins to help with lead generation and has been updated more recently.

And a consistent online strategy means your website is designed for the ultimate positive customer experience and is continually updated via your content strategy.

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Most content, like most cheese, doesn’t get better with age

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 6, 2017 1:43:00 PM

Last week, we talked about what marketing maturity and sophistication look like in terms of strategy. This week, we're covering content planning and creation.

Just like strategy, content planning and creation can be absent, reactive, sporadic, or consistent.

Here's how you know where your content approach is:

If you have web pages or blogs that are no longer relevant and never get updated, your content plan and approach is absent.

If it's reactive, content is updated (but inconsistently) and not optimized. You also don't have a content calendar written down. 

If you consistently post new, mostly optimized content on your blog, update your web pages regularly and create a content calendar (even if you don't always follow it), you've reached a sporadic maturity in your content creation approach. 

When you have a consistent approach to content, your content is regularly updated and fully optimized, you have a content calendar you follow religiously, and you have content in multiple mediums.

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Is your strategy old enough to vote?

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 5, 2017 9:02:00 AM

As organizations become more established and sophisticated, they also become more mature in their approach to marketing. In the next few weeks, we’ll be giving you some different ways to gauge the sophistication and maturity of yourmarketing and lead generation approach.

We’re going to start with strategy.

Do you consider your strategy to be absent, reactive, sporadic, or consistent?

When we call your strategy absent, we mean that you don't have one; you don't know your ideal customer or buyer personas.

By reactive, we mean that while you may have a strategy, it probably isn’t written down. If you have a customer profile, you’re not focusing on it, and your buyer personas are likely still absent.

We consider your strategy sporadic if you've written it down but fail to apply it consistently; you might have multiple customer profiles and some personas documented.

And by consistent, we mean that your strategy is documented and consistently applied and your target customers and personas are clearly defined and regularly updated.

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Yes! Keywords still matter

By Courtney Stallings on Aug 1, 2017 9:56:00 PM

Marketing is continually changing but keywords are still important. One of the best ways to figure out what your prospects and customers are searching for is to gain a better understanding of exactly who they are. This means going beyond the basic target audience demographics of age, income level and location. You need to really get to know your target audience, to get inside their head and understand the wants and needs that are driving them to your business.

Try and figure out what questions they're asking, and the solutions you can provide. This will help you find out the keywords or phrases they are typing or speaking into search engines when trying to find an answer.

A great way to uncover keywords is to see what your prospects or customers are talking about on social media. Another way to find out what your customers are interested in is to simply ask them. You would be surprised but your customers are ready to talk about what they want. This will help you figure out the keywords that will drive more customers to your website. 

Ready to hand your keyword research over to a professional? Leading Results has a process for discovering high quality keywords that will drive quality prospects to your website.

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Topics: SEO
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1 min read

Are you providing a memorable experience?

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 30, 2017 9:52:00 PM

Last week we talked about how your audience experiences you. Well, our audience experienced not such a great side of us because the person that does the weekly email tips (aka Michelle) was multi-tasking and made several mistakes. So, we thought we would share some of the bad things that happen when you multi-task.

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Start improving your landing pages

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 26, 2017 3:32:00 PM

Your landing page is where your visitor will be taken after they click on your ad, this is where they are asked to submit their contact information so they can become a lead, so what makes up a GOOD landing page? 

You first want to make sure your offer is clear and the visitor will understand what they are getting in return for exchanging their contact information. Using a strong Call to Action provides the next step in the most effective way possible.

Your name and logo are not as important to other key pieces of information when creating your landing page. You should be sure to include testimonials and credentials. Including your testimonials and credentials are two components that are considered your trust icons; this will convey to your visitor that they are dealing with a reputable trusted company.

Improving Your Landing Pages

Topics: website
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Yes, you need a marketing calendar

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 22, 2017 3:26:00 PM

Quality content is an important part of getting and keeping your customers' interest, and you know that.

But does it seem like you never have time? Or that you have great content in your head but don't know where or when to release it?

It's time to build a marketing calendar. What your calendar should include, of course, depends on your business, but here are a few ideas:

  • A content timeline.
    • Christmas blogs in June? It could work, but you should plan for it.
  • A designation of who will be in charge of finding or creating the content.
    • Will it always be the same person, or will several people share the duty?
  • A schedule of when the content will be published.
    • Current best practices are to publish things consistently - every Tuesday at 2:00, for example.
  • A list of places where the content will be published.
    • On your blog? In an email? On social media?

 

If you aren't consistent with your content, it won't matter how amazing its quality is, so use a marketing calendar to organize and prioritize your content creation and distribution.

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1 min read

What will 2015 hold for SEO?

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 20, 2017 3:24:00 PM

How do you get your website – and therefore your business – seen online? You use search engine optimization (SEO) to make sure your site has the words and links it needs to be found by search engines.

SEO trends are changing, though. In 2015, you'll need to:

Focus on mobile SEO and user intent

As the use of mobile devices to access the internet grows, mobile usability will be of utmost importance. Even the best SEO won't save you if your website is inaccessible on a tablet or smart phone.

Send strong social signals, especially from Facebook and Twitter

Google itself admitted that Google+ wasn't what they intended and ended their Authorship program. In 2015, they'll be focusing on content from the most popular (for now) social media platforms.

Build relationships (versus focusing only on technical strategies)

While blogging and posting social media updates remain important, it's no longer acceptable to create content merely for the sake of creating content. Unless it's quality content, you'll lose traffic. 

(Acknowledgments to the online   Forbes magazine.)
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Topics: SEO
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1 min read

How SMART are your goals?

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 8, 2017 11:07:00 AM

Setting goals isn't easy. You want to set your sights high, but not too high, because if your goals are too ambitious and you don't start meeting them right away, it's easy to get discouraged.

What's the best way to set goals, then? Make them SMART.

  • Specific.
    • Yes: This year, each employee will attend 2 conferences.
    • No: Our employees will attend more conferences this year.
  • Measurable.
    • Yes: We will get 100 qualified leads through our site each month.
    • No: We will get more leads.
  • Attainable.
    • Yes: We will get 100 new visitors.
    • No: We will get 1 million new visitors.
  • Relevant. (In this example, pretend you are a bank manager.)
    • Yes: We will open 2 new accounts each month.
    • No: We will make 200 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches each month.
  • Time-bound.
    • Yes: We will complete our website by the end of the first quarter.
    • No: We will complete our website.

 

Want to read more about setting goals? Check out HubSpot's "5 Reasons Why Your Marketing Goals Suck" blog here.

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How finding an inbound marketing agency is like dating

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 3, 2017 11:05:00 AM

Dating. No one really likes it. So many choices, but so few that are perfect for YOU. And now you find out that finding a good Inbound marketing agency is like dating? 

Here's how to make it less painful:

Reduce the size of the candidate pool.

If you're a B2C pet food company, it doesn't make sense to go on a date with an Inbound marketing agency that focuses on the B2B realm.

Play the field.

Go on many dates, and refine your search by finding those who share your goals, vision, and culture – and don’t compromise.

Make an investment – but realize that the first investment may be a bust.

You might find an agency that you really like, but the feeling may not be mutual – and vice versa.

Find "The One." 

You'll know why every other agency didn't work out – your relationship will be based on mutual respect, appreciation, and trust.

Navigate the inevitable bumps in the road (no relationship is perfect)

Any relationship that doesn't have occasional conflict means there's no passion or deeper feelings.

Get married!

Wait, no. Hire the Inbound marketing company and live happily ever after.

Step into the partnership with clear goals, expectations, and positivity. Don't let pain from past relationships prevent you from enjoying a new one declare a clean slate and both sides will win!

Want to read more? Check out the full blog here.

ABC's of InBound Marketing eBook

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If you can't beat 'em, join 'em

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 1, 2017 11:02:00 AM

You know the mobile stats are high – 95% of Americans own a cellphone, of which 77% are smartphones, and 42% of them use a mobile device as their primary internet tool.

Have you adapted?

Here are some must-know mobile design practices to help you get started:

Prioritize content (mobile devices have less screen real estate)

  • Design your website with multiple platforms in mind.  
  • Remove items that don’t directly improve user experience – text, images, etc. that clutter the page and make navigation difficult
  • Create a tappable menu to contain the information you don’t want to remove
  • Keep the search box!
 
Take advantage of device features (smartphone web browsers offer more diversity)
  • Add your phone number so it automatically prompts a call when touched
  • Code your social media icons so they open in the app versus the browser (assuming the user has the app)
  • Have your email address open in the email app and autofill the recipient
 
Think touchability  (fingers are bigger than mouse pointers)
  • Make links bigger to avoid navigation errors – and user frustration
  • Use the recommended size of at least 45 pixels in height

 

Failure to create an intuitive mobile site will hurt you in the long run. For one thing, it will increase bounce rates and reduce conversions; for another thing, Google will penalize you and you’ll lose ground in the search engine ranking game.

Good luck out there!
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Topics: website
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1 min read

Which of your customers is detracting from your business?

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 28, 2017 4:14:00 PM

The Net Promoter System says that the answer to a single question will give you all the information you need to determine how satisfied your customers are.

The question? “How likely are you to recommend [your company] to a friend or colleague?”

The Net Promoter System divides every company’s customers into three categories: promoters, passives, and detractors.

Promoter Customers

  • rate the company 9 or 10
  • are loyal customers who will bring repeat business and refer others

 

Passive Customers

  • rate the company 7 or 8
  • are satisfied but unenthusiastic and therefore vulnerable to competitor offers

 

Detractor Customers

  • give a score of 0 to 6
  • are unhappy customers and could damage your brand

 

Your Net Promoter Score can be a good tool to understand where your business is and who your loyal customers are, but it’s easy to poison the results. Want to find out how to avoid poisoning your results? Read our blog here.

If you want an independent organization to help you implement a net-promoter system, we should talk.

Customer Service Webinar

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Packaging your products and services

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 25, 2017 4:24:00 PM

The process of getting a customer to know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, purchase, and refer you requires that you consider your products and services offered in a different way than you traditionally have. 

The goal of packaging is to make it easy for the customer to make a choice. This includes fixed price, lower risk, and fewer decisions. With packaging you want your customers to be able to differentiate your company, service or product. 

Three types of packaging include:

  • Your core offering
  • Your starter offering
  • Free or trial offering

 

Download our Packaging Worksheet to see the complete list and also think through the various types of offers you would like to have available to your customers.

Have a question? Looking for someone to analyze your website or content?

Website Performance

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You really think I should decline a referral?

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 22, 2017 11:04:00 AM

What? You want me to decline a referral? After somebody liked and trusted me enough to pass my name on? Why in the world would I say “no thanks”?

Here are four good reasons to say "no thanks":

  1. You don't provide the service or product the referral wants.
  2. You are so busy that you can’t provide the level of service that the referral expects based on the lead.
  3. The service or product the referral wants is too far off what you traditionally offer.
  4. The referral won't work with you through your process.

 

If you want referrals you don't have to turn down, help your customers do a better job of referring you. Get our template to learn more.

(And learn how to let your declined referrals down gently by reading our blog.)

Customer Testimonial Worksheet

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1 min read

Don't get stuck being stuck.

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 20, 2017 3:42:00 PM

Thank you to Warren Williams, a business success coach and the founder of TurningPoint Business Coaching, for this week's tip!

Getting “stuck” is a part of life, whether it’s a loss of motivation, a business plateau, or just a general feeling of blah.

Being stuck isn’t the problem, though – staying stuck is.

Consider these 5 tips to get “unstuck”:

Change your brain food

Change the information you’re consuming. Intentionally avoid negativity – take a social media break, perhaps – and find motivational messages instead.

Examine the people you spend time with

Jim Rohn (a business philosopher) said we’re the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Are your five people keeping you stuck?

Do what you’re afraid of

Sometimes the things we fear most have the most potential for a positive impact. Conquer those fears – public speaking, maybe – and you’ll reap the benefits of that skill plus get unstuck.

Invest in yourself

Take a class. Hone your skills. Be intentional about increasing your knowledge, and you’ll get unstuck and learn new ways to move your business forward.

Change it up

Used to take a walk after dinner? Try taking one before work. Drive a different route to the office. Shifting your patterns/habits changes your outlook and could be the key to getting unstuck.

 


   
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All tech, all the time

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 20, 2017 3:27:00 PM

Here are 3 things we learned about the future of technology when we attended HubSpot’s Inbound 2017 conference.

Artificial Intelligence

A major business area for AI is customer service – it’s getting increasingly smarter, which enhances the customer experience. Gone are the days of robotic exchanges; AI can learn and write human-like responses.

Video

People are 144% more likely to buy after watching a video about your products/services (versus reading about them.) Use video to tell a compelling story about a customer going through the journey of having a problem and finding your product or service – and of course how it solved their problem. 

Photography

You can spot a stock photo from a mile away, and not in a good way. Luckily, we live in 2017 – almost everyone has a high-quality camera in their pocket. Take pictures of the environments you’re in every day and eventually you’ll have a library of images to repurpose.

This is only the tip of the iceberg of tech takeaways from HubSpot’s Inbound 2017, but they’re a good place to start.

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Your ego is bigger than you think, so get out of your own way

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 18, 2017 3:24:00 PM

You probably already know that marketing is about generating creative ideas, but did you know that your second idea is often more creative than your first? Problem is, we rarely explore our second ideas.

Why? Because our egos get in the way.

We don’t see our own flaws – we’re smart and creative, so of course our first idea is the best idea. But by having so much (misguided) faith in ourselves, we’re “settling” with the less valuable idea.

Flush out your ideas, be critical, and push yourself. Talk to team members about ideas and NEVER stop at one.

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1 min read

Abracadabra - magic windows of time

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 14, 2017 10:07:00 AM

Do you sell a product or service (like large software systems or technical consulting services) with a long sales cycle? Does it seem to make getting testimonials more challenging?

If you said yes, you’re not imagining it.

The long sales cycle presents a challenge because you and your client are in it for the long haul – the ups and downs of daily business, staff changes, and both anticipated and unanticipated challenges.

So how do you get the testimonials it’s so important to have?

Magic windows of time.

There are 3:

  • Right after purchase  review the sales, discovery, and quoting process.
  • Right before the product or service goes into general use  review the processes of implementation and training.
  • After the client has seen benefit from the new system or service  review the value they’re receiving from the software and new processes.

 

Now that you’ve used the magic windows of time to create positive customer testimonials, you can put them together to create an overall success story with a beginning, middle, and end.

Customer Testimonial Worksheet

 
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How much is that customer in the window? (And are they really worth it?)

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 12, 2017 10:04:00 AM

Not all customers are created equal.

Last week’s discussion of the cost of customer acquisition (CoCA) ties into this week’s topic: the lifetime value of a customer (LTV).

The LTV is the estimated revenue a customer will generate during their relationship with your business. It accounts for their initial purchase as well as how much they’re likely to spend in the future.

It’s an important number to know because it can help you plan your marketing budget and decide how much you should spend on customer acquisition – a new customer isn’t always worth the cost.  

For example, would you spend $200 to get a customer that only produces $250 in gross margin? Probably not, at least not if there were better opportunities available.

Depending on what you sell – a product versus a service, a one-time sale versus a subscription – there are a lot of different calculations, but in the end, the important thing to know is the gross profit margin of a customer during the time they work with you. Once you understand what that looks like, on average, you can make smart decisions.

Of course, as we mentioned, not every customer, product, or service is created equal. Take the time to calculate the LTV for your most popular products and services – and then start figuring out how to increase it. 

If you want someone to bounce ideas around with, give us a call.

How to Build a Remarkable Business by Focusing On the Total Customer Experience

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Emojis at work: 👍🏻 or 👎🏻?

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 10, 2017 10:03:00 AM

Emojis are images that represent emotions and objects. 😊 They’re common in informal situations like texting and social media – but are they ok for the workplace?

More people are saying YES; they believe using emojis in the right context demonstrates an ability to adapt to changing trends and conveys emotions in ways words sometimes can’t.

Here are tips for using emojis at work:  

Don’t use emojis

  • With someone you have an uncomfortable relationship with
  • With clients
  • With people above you in the management hierarchy
  • When you’re wearing a suit
  • To replace entire words
  • In messages with bad news or unpleasant requests
  • If you don’t know what they mean
  • If they could be misinterpreted

 

(Possibly) use emojis

  • If you can wear jeans to work
  • With someone who also uses emojis
  • In quick emails to your close-knit team
  • In team messaging apps like Slack
  • If they’re unambiguous (🙂, 🙁, 👍, or 👎, for example)

 

And no matter what the situation is, we advise against the pile of poo – even if it is smiling. 💩

(For a more in-depth consideration of using emojis at work, read our blog here.)

(And, just for fun, you can research emoji meanings here.)

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CoCA (not cola) - how much does it cost to acquire a customer?

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 7, 2017 9:56:00 AM

Acquiring customers is the only way to grow your business – but acquiring customers isn’t free. So how do you determine how much it costs to acquire new customers?

It’s called the cost of customer acquisition (CoCA), and it’s a critical metric for growing and maintaining your profitability.

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

For whom does the bell toll?

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 5, 2017 9:53:00 AM

You can’t have a successful marketing strategy if you don’t know who you’re marketing to. The first step in your marketing strategy, therefore, needs to be creating buyer personas.

Buyer personas represent your ideal customer(s). They’re a construct – fictional, but not – and will help you point your marketing in the right direction.

Here’s the information you need to collect to create a buyer persona:

Quantitative (Demographic) Information

  • Location
  • Age
  • Income
  • Job title

 

Qualitative (Psychographic) Information

  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Priorities

 

Take this information, build your perfect customer, and put them at the core of your marketing strategy.

marketing to millennials
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Make your emails enticing - it's like prospecting for gold

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 4, 2017 8:39:00 PM

Prospecting by email is challenging – and often unrewarding. High-level prospects receive hundreds of emails a day, so you won’t be surprised about how carefully you need to craft emails that recipients will open, read, and respond to.

Last week, we talked about writing amazing email subject lines. This week, we’re offering tactics to make people want to read and respond to your emails after they open them:

  • Don’t write like a salesperson.
    • People don’t want to be called “sir” or “madam;” when you write casually, as if it’s an in-person conversation, you sound like a genuine person with something genuinely valuable to share.
  • Make it easy.
    • Write emails that prospects can read and respond to in one minute or less by making them no longer than 5 sentences and making the offer and desired response/action blatantly obvious.
  • Do some research.
    • Go deeper than a personalization token. Find a prospect’s job title or recent promotions/accomplishments, then reference a tidbit of personal information in each email. You can also demonstrate knowledge of their field by researching top trends in their market.

 

Another excellent buffer to put between writing and sending your email is this simple question: “If I were the prospect receiving this email, would I open it, read it, and respond to it?” If the answer is no, start over. If yes, send away!

(You can read the full article   here.)
How to Build a Remarkable Business by Focusing On the Total Customer Experience
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1 min read

What's black and white and read all over?

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 3, 2017 9:51:00 AM

Graymail: when you give your email address to get a discount and get endless emails.

 
Technically, it isn't spam, but graymail hurts your marketing efforts – recipients rarely open emails, so your messages land in their spam folders, your engagement rate drops, and fewer people see your offers. 
 
Combat graymail by:
  • Segmenting your email database. 
    • If a contact hasn’t opened 10 emails in 6 months, remove them from your email campaigns.
  • Allowing subscribers to select their engagement level. 
    • Maybe they want monthly emails, not weekly ones.
 
Your database is made up of people like you, so before you hit send, ask yourself: How would I react to receiving this email?
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2 min read

4 things to NEVER use in your email subject lines

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 2, 2017 12:00:00 AM

The subject line is the gateway to an email; use the wrong words and get sent straight to the trash folder. (Or worse, the spam folder.) It doesn’t matter if your email holds a funny gif, an amazing insight, or a fantastic deal on your products/services – if your subject line sucks, you might as well have sent a blank email.

You don’t have much room to grab your prospect’s attention, so avoid the following in your email subject lines and save space for the words that really count.    

  • Your company name (XYZ, Inc.)
    • If the recipient has never heard of XYZ, Inc., including it in the email subject line simply reinforces that it’s a sales email – because why else would a business they've never heard of be emailing them?
  • Jargon, such as “reaching out,” “connecting,” and “touching base”
    • It goes without saying that emails are reaching out/connecting/touching base; it’s practically redundant to say so.
  • Time-related phrases like “15 minutes” or “quick call?”
    • What the email recipient sees in this subject line: a salesperson they’ve never met/heard of asking for a meeting. Try to find a faster a way to establish yourself as a pushy salesperson and you’ll fail.
  • Mistakes
    • Incorrect grammar, punctuation, spelling, and typos make you look unprofessional and disorganized.
    • Also, avoid mistakes with personalization tokens. You’d ignore an email that said, literally, “Hi, [firstname],” right? That’s because it makes the message seem less human.

The words that send emails to your trash are likely different than those that send emails to my trash; it’s a fruitless endeavor to attempt to ferret out all the hated words and avoid them. However, you can use our advice above for starters as well as read more here.

Step by Step Guide to Internet Marketing
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1 min read

There's a time and a place for the perfect video

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 1, 2017 9:48:00 AM

Video is the up-and-coming tool for creating engaging content – but a single video won’t suit each stage of the sales funnel.

Try this:

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1 min read

They're large and (soon to be) in charge ... they're the millennials!

By Courtney Stallings on May 28, 2017 9:41:00 AM

 

Millennials are more than just the biggest generation now – they're the biggest generation that spends more than $600 billion per year.

But having grown up in a world where the internet always existed, you're going to have to up your marketing game to get their attention.

Here are some ideas for marketing to the millennials:

Embrace social media

The list of social media platforms they use is long, and it's where they want to engage with each other, brands, and products.

Appeal to their values 

Millennials volunteer more than any other generation and use their purchasing power to support companies with values similar to their own.

Don’t be boring

Millennials are early adopters, and newer is better. Fresh ideas, innovative approaches, original insights and, of course, new technology will never fail to catch the millennials’ attention.

Millennials are up-and-coming, and failing to create a marketing strategy to connect with them is at the peril of your business.

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1 min read

3 SEO myths, busted!

By Courtney Stallings on May 23, 2017 8:34:00 PM

Search engine optimization is constantly changing, quite often thanks to Google rearranging the 200+ signals that power its algorithms. Let us shed some light on 3 common SEO myths.  

  • Having a secure (https) site isn’t important for SEO.
    • Https:// (versus http://) means that the connection to a website is encrypted so hackers can’t steal valuable data, like passwords and credit card numbers.
    • In August 2014, Google announced the addition of https as a signal in their algorithms; if you continue to use the standard http, your rankings can suffer. If you haven’t made your site secure yet, now is the time – Google says that Chrome will flag http pages as potentially unsafe starting this month.
  • Good user experience is a bonus, not a requirement.
    • Look at it from the search engine’s point of view: although they didn’t create the page, they’re endorsing it by including it in their search results, and if Google repeatedly sends you to sites that offer bad user experiences, you might stop using Google.
    • Focus on things like page load time, the use of a variety of mediums, quality of content and offers, ease of navigation, and aesthetics to improve your user experience; Google’s algorithms will find those elements and your site’s rankings will improve naturally.
  • SEO is all about ranking.
    • Ranking has never been a guarantee of success; you can rank well, get tons of site traffic – and never generate a lead. While there IS a strong correlation between your ranking and clickthrough rates, ranking isn’t the supreme goal it used to be.
    • Instead, optimize your site with keywords, good meta descriptions, appropriate tags, and high-quality content. It doesn’t matter where you rank if your quality is sub-par – people may come to your page, but they’ll bounce quickly.

 

Capitalizing on the knowledge from these busted myths will allow you to be both more effective and more efficient with your SEO strategy.

Learning SEO from the Experts
Topics: SEO
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1 min read

Are you one of the big dogs or do you stay on the porch?

By Courtney Stallings on May 22, 2017 9:25:00 AM

You had a niggling feeling that the two products you were looking at were identical, but you couldn't stop yourself from buying the one with the big name brand – and the bigger price tag.

Aka brand awareness.

Here's why brand awareness makes the difference between a sale and a pass:

Topics: Leads-Sales
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2 min read

We bet you've Googled your business ... and we bet you were disappointed

By Courtney Stallings on May 21, 2017 8:33:00 PM

If you’ve ever Googled your business and were disappointed with the results, it’s probably because that’s not an accurate portrayal of where you stand in Google's rankings.

Why? Because Google uses algorithms to make searches better – but better for the person searching, not better for your business.

Google says, “You want the answer, not trillions of webpages. Algorithms are computer programs that look for clues to give you back exactly what you want. [Our] algorithms rely on more than 200 unique signals or “clues” that make it possible to guess what you might really be looking for.”

Many signals are out of your control and affect how you see yourself versus how others see you – one signal takes into account your location, for exampe. So, if you were standing on a street corner and your business building was not nearby when you Googled yourself, you probably didn’t show up. That’s because it’s more useful to searchers on mobile devices to see what’s nearby.

It's not all bad, though – these things can help you improve your rankings:

  • Keywords and SEO – having a keyword in the title, tags, content, meta description, etc. acts as a “relevancy signal.”
  • Mobile optimization – making your site mobile-friendly will make it more likely to appear on mobile search results.
  • Multimedia – using varied forms of content (e.g., text, video, AND images) acts as a “content quality signal.”

The point is this, however: you can't get an accurate picture of where you stand on Google by Googling yourself. Consider these tools instead: SEMrush and SpyFu.

Happy Googling!

Topics: SEO
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1 min read

What do you have in common with Weird Al Yankovic?

By Courtney Stallings on May 20, 2017 9:03:00 AM

My boyfriend, who is significantly older than me, doesn't blink when I ask him to set the DVR to tape one of our shows.

(Probably not that you can write wildly popular song parodies.)

My brother, who is significantly younger than me, gives me a blank look.

Why doesn't my brother know what I'm talking about?

I'm not speaking his language.

Weird Al Yankovic sang about phone books and yanking phone cords out of the wall, Jim Croce let the operator keep the dime, and the Turtles thought a dime was a great investment for calling someone you love.

The problems here are many:

  • We don't "tape" shows anymore
  • Phones don't have cords
  • Phone calls haven't cost a dime since 1982 (not that anyone knows what it means to pay for an individual call anymore)
  • No one uses operators
  • Do they even still print phone books?

The potential for misused language applies to more than TV and phones, of course, but the point is this:

While the younger generations are rapidly gaining purchasing power, are you still speaking the older generations' language?

You can’t appeal to someone who doesn’t know what you’re talking about.

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1 min read

Think social media is big now? 2017 says "Bring it on!"

By Courtney Stallings on May 19, 2017 8:31:00 PM

Still fine-tuning your social media strategy for 2017? Here are some things to consider before you finalize.

  • Live video is going to explode – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter all have live video streaming, with other apps – like Periscope – popping up and gaining in popularity; according to Facebook, users engage with live video feeds 10x more than other types of content.
  • Messaging apps will be standard  People like instant gratification, and they like personalization: enter messaging apps, which brands are using to communicate one-on-one with customers and offer faster, more personalized customer service.
  • Social media will be the new eCommerce – Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat already offer ways for users to purchase products from directly within their apps, so 2017 will see this trend continue to grow.
  • Mobile advertising will get more competitive – 80% of Facebook’s $7 billion ad revenue in 2016 came from mobile ads, and mobile internet usage will soon exceed desktop internet usage. Add social media being the new eCommerce, and it makes sense that marketers should expect to spend more money on mobile advertising in 2017.

 

Social media is constantly evolving, and there's no telling how drastically the game could change in the next 12 months. The real secret is to pay attention and be prepared for, well ... anything.

Want more information about social media predictions in 2017? Read this blog.

Generate Leads with Facebook
Topics: Social media
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1 min read

Do you talk about dead cow instead of prime rib?

By Courtney Stallings on May 18, 2017 8:59:00 AM

Have you ever found yourself talking about dead cow instead of prime rib?

We all sell every day. Ideas, products, ourselves ...

Often, when businesses try to sell, they use a lot of words describing what their service is (dead cow) and few words describing what their customers get (prime rib).

The problem is that dead cow is less appetizing than prime rib, and therefore using the wrong language is making your customers suddenly less hungry.

So if you find yourself talking about dead cow instead of prime rib, how do you change your approach?

The process is easy to define (but hard to do), and has three steps:

  • Understand your position
  • Understand your real benefits
  • Use words that are relatable to your audience

Want to learn more? Read the blog here!

Total Online Presence Audit
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1 min read

Just like 90's fashion trends, old content is making a comeback!

By Courtney Stallings on May 18, 2017 8:52:00 AM

Content marketing: we love it. We advocate for it.

But we understand it can be tedious.

But guess what? All that content you’ve been creating? You can use it again! (But you have to spruce it up first.)

Here’s how to reuse content:

  • Choose the right content
    • Reuse the blog with 500 views, not the one with 12 views.
  • Update your SEO/keywords
    • Things change, including how people search. Your product/service is still relevant, so make sure your keywords are still relevant, too.
  • Examine best practices
    • Cramming as many keywords as possible into a post isn’t how it’s done anymore.
  • Update the content
    • Does your blog mention MySpace? That’s gotta go. Either choose blogs with always-relevant content or update the content so it’s current.

Making your old content squeaky clean again will increase your website traffic – with less work than endlessly seeking ideas for new content.

PS – Read the whole blog here, and read about other ways to reuse content here.

Total Online Presence Audit
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2 min read

Google said JUMP again ... but this time, you'll be happy to ask how high!

By Courtney Stallings on May 17, 2017 8:30:00 PM

Google is changing their AdWords format and offering expanded text ads (ETAs) that are 50% larger! They're available on the Google Search Network and the Google Display Network, are supported by all the AdWords tools that currently support text ads, and are fully compatible with ad extensions. 

Expanded text ads differ from standard text ads by having:

  • Two headline fields (up to 30 characters each)
  • A single, expanded description field (up to 80 characters)
  • A display URL that uses your final URL's domain
  • Two optional ”Path” fields used in the ad’s display URL (up to 15 characters each)

 

Starting January 31, 2017, standard AdWords ads will remain “in play,” but you won’t be able to edit existing ones or create new ones – Google will only support expanded text ads beyond that date.

Luckily, you don't have to create new ads entirely from scratch  Google is allowing you to alter your existing standard ads, although you'll want to update the content to take advantage of the new character limits.

ETAs are basically Google ads on steroids, giving you more control over your message; early research has shown that the ETAs receive significantly more clicks than the standard format.

So don't wait – get started with Google's expanded text ads today!

To learn more about Google's expanded text ads, read this article.

How to Make Yourself Stand Out
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2 min read

The robots are HERE! (Luckily, you'll never have to cook for them.)

By Courtney Stallings on May 17, 2017 8:28:00 PM

Last week, we talked about how AI is poised to transform the way we do marketing.

To prove it to you, this week we’re offering a list of the AI that’s already out there, quietly boosting marketers’ productivity every day.

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1 min read

Two heads are better than one

By Courtney Stallings on May 16, 2017 8:46:00 AM

A marketing partnership is a mutually beneficial marketing relationship between you and another business; the right partnership helps each of you reach new customers and get new business.

As you look for a marketing partner:

  • Ask, "Who has my next customer as their current customer?" (You'll need strong buyer personas.)
  • Search for a partner who shares your values. (You'll need a clear core value statement.)
  • Define a revenue goal. (What would access to 10% of a partner's customers mean to your bottom line? Is it worth it?) 

 

Finding a marketing partner offers 3 simple benefits:

  • It’s better. Your content will be stronger when you work with a partner who knows the audience as well as, if not better than, you.
  • It’s faster. Your content will spread faster because of your access to your partner's customers.
  • It’s cheaper. Sharing content with your partner's customers is much less expensive than advertising to get a broader audience.

 

For a partnership to work, both brands must benefit. Set goals together and keep the lines of communication open and you'll have a bona fide marketing partnership on your hands.   

Total Online Presence Audit
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2 min read

Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Echo ... Wait, no. Just Alpha Bravo.

By Courtney Stallings on May 15, 2017 8:26:00 PM

When marketers create content, it’s tempting to use intuition to predict what will make people click and convert. But feelings aren’t measurable, which can be detrimental to your results – you need to know what works, and guessing won’t tell you.

That’s why you need conversion rate optimization (CRO) tests. The most common type of CRO is an A/B test, and it simply tests one variable in a piece of marketing content against another – a green CTA versus a red one, for example – to see what works better.

Consider using this checklist as you plan an A/B test:

Before the A/B test

  • Pick a variable to test
  • Choose a goal
  • Create your pieces of content (with one variation)
  • Determine your sample groups and sample size
  • Decide how significant your results need to be

During the A/B test

  • Use an A/B testing tool
  • Test both variations simultaneously
  • Run the test long enough to get substantial results
  • Collect feedback from users

After the A/B test

There are millions of variables that affect your content. The verbiage on your CTA. The location of the CTA. The color of the font. The font itself. The use of bullets versus bolding or italicizing important text. How many questions a form has. The list is truly endless, and to get the most out of your content, you need to know what works.

And A/B testing can tell you.

For more information on this checklist, look here.

Look Book Landing Page Optimization
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1 min read

Google lays the smack down on mobile pop-ups

By Courtney Stallings on May 13, 2017 8:24:00 PM

All the way back in 2014, Google said, “Make your site mobile friendly, or be prepared to go down in the rankings.” Now, 85% of websites are optimized for mobile – so Google is upping the ante for a better user experience.

On January 10, 2017, there will be a new Google decree: “Get rid of mobile pop-ups, or be prepared to go down in the rankings.”

Topics: SEO
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1 min read

Make clicking irresistible with smart CTAs

By Courtney Stallings on May 11, 2017 8:23:00 PM

Last week, we wrote about smart CTAs and how they can change their content to offer a relevant message based on where the visitor is in the the buyer's journey. They are extremely effective because they deliver the right message to the right prospect at the right time.

Three great examples of smart CTAs are:

  • Industry-focused CTAs
    • If you serve several industries, static content can make it difficult to segment. With a smart CTA, you can offer industry-specific content without changing the overall message of your website.
  • Location-based CTAs
    • For some businesses, like real estate, location is highly relevant. A smart CTA allows you to offer house listings or agent contacts based on the visitor’s location.
  • Behavior-based CTAs
    • A visitor's actions on your website determine the content in this type of smart CTA. A new visitor on a car dealership website, for example, would see a CTA for a trade-in calculator. A returning visitor who already used the trade-in calculator might be offered a CTA for a test drive instead.

Smart CTAs are a form of personalization, and personalization allows you to show your website visitors that you care about them and their interests; it also shows prospective customers the steps they need to take to get their questions answered and their needs met.

And given the 7 seconds you have to capture a visitor's attention and the fact that 67% of online consumers have left sites after seeing an ad that wasn't relevant to them ... smart CTAs are the way to go.

Improving Your Landing Pages

Topics: SEO
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1 min read

Some things are clickable, and some things are smartly clickable

By Courtney Stallings on May 9, 2017 8:21:00 PM

A call-to-action (CTA) is what it sounds like – a call for someone to take action. It usually takes the form of a button on a web page that uses verbs like “download,” “learn,” “read,” etc. They’re a solid tool for inbound marketing, so you’re probably already using them to promote your landing pages.

But are you using smart CTAs? Smart CTAs are super effective for use in the buyer’s journey. Why? Because a smart CTA can change the content/text of the call-to-action depending on the visitor viewing it, giving your prospective customer a more personalized experience.

3 Benefits of Smart CTAs:

  • They improve conversion rates – first times visitors might click a CTA for an eBook, but probably not one for a sales call. A smart CTA’s personalized message means better relevancy, which means more clicks. You ignore irrelevant CTAs, right?
  • They improve a visitor's website experience – take Amazon as an example of this. When you visit their site, they have a section of stuff they think you’ll like. Sure, it’s just based off your old searches, but it makes you feel kind of special, doesn’t it?
  • They delight your customers – when a new visitor gets to your site, try a CTA that simply welcomes them. The next time they come, the smart CTA will have changed the offer to something appropriate for that visitor. Would you prefer visiting not-so-pushy pages?

 

CTAs are a must-have tool for your inbound marketing. Without a “call-to-action," your site visitors may never take action! (Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration.) Even so, if you're not using CTAs, you should be, and if you are using CTAs, it's time to graduate to Smart CTAs.

Check back next week to learn how to build a smart CTA!

Topics: SEO
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2 min read

Forgive, but don't forget

By Courtney Stallings on May 7, 2017 8:20:00 PM

Last week we wrote about 3 lead generation mistakes you might be making, and we promised to revisit the topic this week to offer some solutions.

The mistakes were (and their solutions are):

  • You don’t offer content for the whole buyer’s journey
    • There’s no one-size-fits-all offer, so you’ll need to spend time creating a variety of options that cater to every stage of the buyer’s journey.
    • New prospects, for example, might want checklists and templates. Visitors a little further down the funnel might want email courses and webinars. Prospects even further down might be ready for a demo or a phone call.
    • Want to get really fancy? Try smart CTAs.
  • You’re buying leads, not generating them organically
    • If you don't want to damage your email deliverability, your email recipients absolutely must opt in.
    • Offer valuable content – webinars, blogs, free trials, etc. – in exchange for their contact information and the right to email them.
    • Bottom line? Quality email addresses aren't for sale.
  • You treat all your site pages the same
    • Figure out your top 4 or 5 most popular pages, then optimize them for leads.
    • Consider keywords, CTA color and placement, image choices, etc.
    • Don’t forget lead conversion offers. Creating offers takes time, but it’s an extremely effective way to get that contact info you’re seeking.

None of these fixes will start leads growing on trees – and we wish they did too! – but they give you a place to start. (For more lead generation mistakes and their solutions, check out this blog.)

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

Money doesn't grow on trees, and neither do leads

By Courtney Stallings on May 5, 2017 8:18:00 PM

 

The key to making sales is generating leads – but leads don’t grow on trees, so generating them isn’t easy.

In fact, you might be making some mistakes, like these:

  • You don’t offer content for the entire buyer’s journey
  •  
    • Prospects visit your site at different stages in the buyer’s journey, and you need offers for every stage.
    • First-time visitors, for example, aren’t ready for a “Buy Now!” CTA, so you need less intimidating offers for them.
  • You’re buying leads, not generating them organically
  •  
    • The point of generating leads is to nurture them into customers; if you buy an email list, it’s likely that most recipients haven’t heard of you, don’t need your services, and/or are annoyed by your emails.
    • Whatever the reason, you’re likely to get marked as spam.
  • You treat all your site pages the same
  •  
    • Look at your site’s traffic stats and you’ll see that some of your pages are way more popular than others. And if your “About Us” page, testimonials page, and one or two blog posts are the most visited pages, why would you treat them like every other page?
    • The answer is, you shouldn’t – you should SEO the heck out of them, design special CTAs, and create a lead-capturing offer.     

If you’re making these mistakes, don’t worry – you’re not alone. AND you can check back next week to learn how to fix them!

50 Simple Lead Generation Tactics
Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

Businesses cannot live on referrals alone

By Courtney Stallings on May 3, 2017 8:17:00 PM

We LOVE referrals. Referrals are the best leads you can get, hand downs. But.

Yes, there's a but. It’s not good to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak – if you have a referral dry spell, you need other strategies to fall back on.

Try these (usually underutilized) alternatives:

  • Guest Blogging
    • Publishing your content on other sites opens you up to a whole new audience. Figure out where your prospective customers are online – you need to target the places they’re most likely to come across your content – and write blogs that fill the content gaps in those publications.
  • Paid Online Marketing
    • Budgeting some money for paid/sponsored media will give your content a boost. Again, figure out where your prospective customers are online, and devote your money to those places; Google Adwords and social media platforms are good places to start.
  • Conferences and Networking Events
    • Face-to-face networking might be “old school,” but it certainly isn’t dead. Brush up on your handshake, ice breakers, and networking skills, get your business cards out, and start attending conferences and networking events where you might find prospective customers and/or industry partners.

 

So even if you’re crushing it in the referral department, consider these other strategies as insurance. As they say, it’s better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it – and in this case, having it is critical to your success.

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2 min read

If you record it (right) ... they will watch

By Courtney Stallings on May 1, 2017 8:16:00 PM

Last week we offered a bunch of (almost unbelievable) stats about using videos in your marketing and then left you with a daunting task: "you need to start making videos."

We promised we'd be back this week with some video tips, and here they are.

  • Start with an objective
    • Don't make videos because your competition is or because we say so  make videos for a reason. Plausible reasons include customer testimonials, explanations of how your products solve a problem, and product demos.
  • Keep it short and sweet
    • 60% of users stop watching videos after two minutes, so aim to get your message across in two minutes or less.
  • Use CTAs correctly
    • Want people to take an action because of your video? Make it easy for them by putting clickable CTAs right in the video.
  • Promote it
    • You worked hard on that video  promote the heck out of it!

 

Video is no longer an up-and-coming" marketing tactic  it's here to stay. The good news is that it's a powerful, effective way to communicate with your audience, so as long as you follow our advice, making videos will be a worthwhile time investment.

On a related note, you can read a blog about video blogging (aka vlogging) here.

New call-to-action

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1 min read

They say 23.778% of statistics are made up on the spot ... but we take our research seriously

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 30, 2017 8:15:00 PM

You know we believe it's impossible to overstate the benefits of blogging, but we also realize our audience wants other types of content too.

And right now, internet users are voraciously consuming video  with no end in sight.

Research studies predict that 80% of web traffic will be video by 2019, and internet user surveys back that up: 45% of respondents admitted to watching 1+ hours of video on Facebook and YouTube each week, and usage statistics indicate that users watch 8 billion Facebook videos and 10 billion Snapchat videos per day.

That's A LOT of video.

Here are some other crazy statistics about video:*

  • Social video generates 1,200% more shares than text and images combined.
  • Homepage videos can increase conversions by 20% (or more), and landing page videos can increase conversions by 80% (or more).
  • The average conversion rate for websites using video is 4.8% versus 2.9% for websites that don't use video.
  • 60% of people agreed with the statement that they'd rather watch a video than read a newsletter.
  • Every day, Americans watch 8,061 years of video on YouTube and 713 years of video on Facebook.

 

So, yes, you need to start making videos.

Don't worry, there's good news – if you stay tuned for next week's email, we'll give you some tips about producing and using videos of your own!

*Our stats came from here.

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1 min read

Looking for a left-handed baseball player with red hair? Because there's an email for that.

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 28, 2017 8:14:00 PM

 Email marketing is a big deal: research studies found that 77% of email marketing ROI in 2015 came from segmented, targeted, and triggered email campaigns.

And there’s great news – there are a ton of creative ways to segment your email lists to create campaigns that are innovative and effective and that your email recipients will enjoy.

Here are some ways to segment your email lists that you may not have thought of:

  • Organization Type
    • All businesses are not created equal, so just because you’re B2B doesn’t mean there’s no way to segment further. Do you sell to franchises? Non-profit organizations? ECommerce companies? They all have different needs, so they should all receive different emails.
  • Seniority Level
    • Your contact chose “marketing” as their profession, but are they the VP of marketing or a marketing coordinator? Different roles indicate different levels of experience, education, pain points, and decision-making powers, so dig deeper than “marketing” to send more meaningful emails.
  • Content Format
    • Content can be consumed in different formats – blogs, eBooks, webinars, videos, etc. – and some formats are more appealing than others to your prospective customers. If you know how your email recipients prefer to consume content, make sure you’re using that content format in their emails. 

 

If you're not segmenting your email lists, you're losing – losing ROI, losing email subscribers, losing leads. Fortunately, it's not hard to get started; with so many options for segmenting your email lists, you can jump right in, start running tests, and choose the ones that work for you.

For more ways to segment your email lists, read this blog.

How to Build a Remarkable Business by Focusing On the Total Customer Experience
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1 min read

Saying the right things about yourself

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 26, 2017 8:13:00 PM

When you tell people about your company, they don’t always understand what you do - which means you need a better company description. It's never easy to write about yourself, so here are some tips.

What makes a company description bad:

  • Using “corporate speak" – your customers will be, at best, unimpressed with your business jargon/buzzwords. At worst, they'll be confused.
  • Forcing too much SEO into the description – a keyword or two is good (because SEO is important), but too many sounds stilted.
  • Making everything about the product – don't make the customer work too hard to figure out how your product can help them. 

 

What makes a company description good:

  • Clearly expressing your differentiation – explain to prospects why you're different from everyone else and therefore the obvious choice.
  • Showing personality – aka don't be boring. No one likes boring.
  • Talking to your ideal persona – tailor your language to your target market and when they search for a solution to their problem, you'll be easier to find.

 

You'll notice that a good company description is very customer-centric. You're writing it for them, after all – you already know what your business offers. Stick to explaining how you can help customers and why you're the best option to do so.

And make it blindingly obvious, because online – which is how prospects are finding you now – you get about 7 seconds to make a good impression.

How to Make Yourself Stand Out
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2 min read

Don't squander your time on Facebook

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 24, 2017 8:11:00 PM

Use other people's time on Facebook to benefit yourself.

You probably know that Facebook has a lot of users – 1.13 billion daily, to be exact – and the number gets bigger when you consider sporadic users.

So if you aren't using Facebook for lead generation, you should be.

Here are 5 of the best post ideas for Facebook lead generation:

Send people directly to landing pages. (Because subtlety doesn’t usually work.)

  • Have a compelling image – not a stock photo. (And don’t forget to optimize it by sizing it and adding alt tags.)
  • Make it clear where you’re sending them – use verbs like “download,” “get,” etc. – so they don’t think they’re getting a blog when really you want them to fill out a form.

 

Include links to landing pages in your image captions. (Because posts with images get 2.3 times more engagement than posts without images.)

  • Include links in your image captions where people are sure to see them.
  • Optimize the links by shortening them with some like bit.ly or ow.ly.

 

Use videos to promote lead generation offers. (Because the only thing better than images are videos.)

  • Include a link to a landing page in the video’s description
  • Also use a verbal call-to-action in the video itself, reminding people that they can click the link to receive the offer.

 

Pin posts that link to landing pages to the top of your feed. (Because posts can disappear awfully fast in a news feed.)

  • You can pin any type of post – text, images, videos, etc.
  • A pinned post stays at the top of your Timeline for up to 7 days.

 

These aren't the only ways to generate leads on Facebook, but they're a good place to start. Consider reading this HubSpot blog for a few more ideas.

Generate Leads with Facebook
Topics: Social media
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1 min read

The business email unicorn

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 22, 2017 8:09:00 PM

Sometimes the idea that people will open your emails, read them, and interact with them seems mythical, doesn't it? With people's notoriously short attention spans, spam filters, and the fact that the average business person receives approximately 120 emails per day, you might be asking yourself if you should even bother trying to make that myth a reality.

The answer is YES (we know you asked yourself, but we're going to answer for you) because it is possible to increase your email engagement rate. Consider these suggestions:

Be Real

Personalize your emails by making the “from” name your company name or the name of a specific team member. If you consistently send valuable content with the same “from” name, recipients will positively associate your name with emails worth reading.

Do not – we repeat, DO NOT – send emails from a “no reply” email address. It discourages engagement and encourages spam filters.

Don’t Be Stingy

Don’t keep all your premium content locked behind forms. Sharing a piece of premium content, no strings attached, demonstrates generosity, and people are hard-wired to react positively to generosity. You prefer to help someone or take their suggestion if they’ve been helpful or generous to you, right? Generate goodwill by giving something away, and it can lead to people taking the action you want them to.

Harness the Mob Mentality

That is, use social proof, which is a fancy phrase that means that humans are conformists. We take cues from our peers because we want to fit in and be liked – and you can use this to your advantage. Convince email recipients to take action by offering customer reviews/testimonials, case studies, Facebook “likes” and shares, retweets, etc. that prove that their peers are doing it too. (Don’t lie, though.)

Email is tough, we know, but you can't give up. Try our suggestions and check out this blog for a few more.

Step by Step Guide to Internet Marketing
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2 min read

Sales and marketing should be in bed together ... and sharing the covers

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 20, 2017 8:06:00 PM

Smarketing: a word that, believe it or not, we did not make up. “Smarketing" is a combination of the words “sales" and “marketing" and should describe how your sales and marketing teams are two peas in a pod.

We're willing to bet that those departments aren't BFFs, though – and that's a bad thing. Why? Because you're missing opportunities. Sales thinks marketing will follow up and vice versa, marketing thinks sales isn't doing enough with their leads, sales thinks marketing isn't giving them qualified leads ... and on and on.

Consider these ideas to get smarketing in your business:

  • Attend events together – whether it's an industry meetup group, happy hour, or a conference, spend time together outside of your office space. If team members get to know each other as people versus the arch enemy marketing team (or vice versa), they'll work together more effectively.
  • Have monthly meetings – the marketing and sales teams should meet on a monthly basis to analyze results and evaluate goals. Important numbers to analyze include lead generation, percent of leads worked, and lead-to-customer conversion rate.
  • Make sharing information easy – Evernote, Google Docs, Dropbox, a group email address ... all ways to make information accessible to everyone. Make it easy for sales to access marketing information, such as brochures and upcoming marketing campaigns, and for marketing to access sales information, such as the quality and progress of generated leads.
  • Encourage learning  just because your sales and marketing teams are sharing information doesn't mean that they understand each other's information. Let the marketing team “train" the sales team on how an email template works, let the sales teams “train" the marketing team on how they follow up with a lead, etc.

 

If you have trouble making smarketing work, you are absolutely not alone. Read this case study for some statistics related to the lack of smarketing most companies have, or check out this blog for more smarketing ideas.

Sales and Marketing Collaboration Case Study

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

Personality isn't everything

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 18, 2017 8:04:00 PM

Your blog's looks are as important as its personality. 

We talk a lot about writing blogs – what to say, how to say it, when to post it, etc. What we haven’t talked much about, however, is blog design.

Blogs are, as you know, essential for businesses, and that means ... everyone’s blogging. And THAT means ... you need a great blog design to stand out.

Consider these important blog design elements:

A dedicated blog subscription page. Why? Because there’s nowhere else you can incorporate social proof, share examples, and fully sell the value of your blog – pop-ups and sidebars just don’t cut it.

A fast load time. Why? Because people are impatient. You have 7 seconds to catch their attention with your content, and about half of surveyed web users expect a page to load in less than 2 seconds.

Mobile responsiveness. Why? Because Google says so. (No, really.) Also because the number of people using mobile devices to surf the web is growing and will continue to grow.

Browser optimization. Why? Because some people use Safari, some people use Chrome, some people use Firefox, etc., and users should have a consistent experience no matter where they’re browsing from.

Social share links. Why? Because word-of-mouth is the most powerful marketing tool there is, and social media is its vehicle. Make it easy for people to share your content and they will.  

Does your blog measure up? To find out, download HubSpot’s blog design optimization checklist here.

Building a Killer Content Strategy
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2 min read

No, you're not plagiarizing yourself

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 16, 2017 8:02:00 PM

Creating content can be a chore, we agree, but you need content to bring prospective customers to your website to – hopefully – become leads.

Luckily, all the content you already have has the potential to be used again, albeit in a slightly different way. Here are a few examples:

An eBook  take a series of blog posts on a related topic and combine them into an eBook.

This is great for both current and prospective customers – current customers may have already read all the content on the topic, but now you’re offering it in a convenient bundle. Prospective customers can see how much quality content you have, which might keep them on your site longer.

An Ultimate Guide – Collect the best blogs/articles you can find about a subject and give them to your visitors all in one place.

If you're running out of ideas for original content, try "borrowing" someone else’s. Don't think of it as sending prospective customers to a competitor’s page, think of it as saving your audience a lot of time – something that’s at a major premium these days.

Also. It is absolutely vital that you do not copy and paste someone else's content. That's plagiarism. Offer links instead.

A Checklist – take an instructional blog and make it even more instructional by turning it into a checklist.

Simplify it into a series of bullet points, remove anything that isn't an action, and group instructions together to make them easier to follow. (Bonus points if you create it in a printable format – people love physically checking things off lists.)

If you struggle to create original content all the time, start looking for ways to put a new spin on the content you already have – the content might not be original, but the format will be.

For 6 more ways to repurpose your content, check out this blog.

Building a Killer Content Strategy
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1 min read

Should old acquaintance be forgot?

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 15, 2017 7:58:00 PM

Are you considering lifetime value from the beginning of all your client relationships?

You should be, because the best way to drive long-term revenue is by keeping current clients – not getting new ones.

Consider these useful tips for improving your client retention.

  • Use a project management tool – Rarely is a single person responsible for a successful client venture, and that requires organization. Use a project management tool that offers a centralized view of all tasks and deliverables. Nothing will fall through the cracks, and you'll have an audit trail.
  • Be prepared for employee turnover – Create client profiles and track their activity – who’s working with whom and on what, meeting notes, contracts, proposals, etc. When an employee leaves, this allows the new account manager to step into their shoes with a smaller learning curve.
  • Ask for, and use, feedback – The best way to keep clients is to stop doing things that make them unhappy, and the best way to figure out what's making them unhappy is to ask. (Don't just ask, though – once you know, do something about it.)
  • Show gratitude – We know you’re thankful to have your clients’ business, but do they? Do something to show them you’re grateful to have them as clients.

 

It's estimated to cost between 4 and 10 times more to acquire a new client than it does to keep an existing one. Pretty easy math, right?

How to Build a Remarkable Business by Focusing On the Total Customer Experience
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Irresistibly clickable

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 12, 2017 7:55:00 PM

A Google text ad is an advertisement that appears when someone searches for your product (or a related one). It’s a small snippet of text that sits right above or below the top-ranked results.

Text ads are small. As in, Google only gives you:

  • 25 characters for the headline
  • 35 characters for the first descriptive line
  • 35 characters for the second descriptive line
  • 35 characters for the URL (well, 255 total, but only 35 will show up)

 

What makes a good text ad?

  • Highlight what makes your brand unique
    • Do you offer shipping to multiple countries? Are you highly rated by consumers? Put it in your ad.
  • Attract your ideal customers with a special offer
    • Give people something compelling to come after (free shipping, a free trial, a percentage off sale, etc.).
  • Include an actionable CTA
    • An ad isn’t effective if it doesn’t prompt an action.
  • Keep your ads current
    • If you’re having a sale and using a search ad to promote it, discontinue the ad as soon as the sale is over.
  • Get super specific
    • Ads with statistics, discounts percentages, rankings, etc. are more likely to be clicked.
  • Optimize for mobile
    • 33% of people say that their phone is their primary device – make sure your ad is as easy to use on a phone as it is on a computer.
  • Watch the competition
    • See what your competitors are doing, and then create ads that are better.

 

Think like a customer. When you’re searching for something, what makes you more likely to click an advertisement? You probably can’t resist an eye-catching headline, unique ad copy, and an enticing offer – and neither can your potential customers.  

Crazy Busy Marketers Guide to Content Creation in the Real World
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1 min read

Why people aren't reading your emails

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 10, 2017 7:54:00 PM

 

112.4 billion (yeah, with a b) business emails are exchanged every day, all over the world. That’s 122 emails sent and received per day – per person.

We don’t know the statistics, but we bet a whole lot of those don’t get read or responded to. Here’s why:

You Weren’t Clear About What You Wanted

The reason you sent the email should be painfully clear. What you want them to do should be painfully clear. What the deadline is for doing it should – you guessed it – be painfully clear.

You Wrote Too Much

People are busy. They don’t want to read a long, complicated email – and unless you’re their boss, they’re probably not going to. Try this:

  • Stick to the issue at hand
  • Use short sentences
  • Stay away from $5 words
  • Use bullet points to emphasize the most important parts

Bad Manners

We said shorter is better, but it doesn’t mean you have to be rude. An email that says, “I need feedback on that newsletter today.” – and that’s it – is certainly short and unambiguous, but it’s not very friendly. People like helping friendly people, so be friendly:

  • Include a greeting
  • Use “please” and “thank you”
  • Don’t write in all caps

Too Many Email Recipients

In the non-business world, this is known as the “bystander effect.” That is, no one does anything – like call the police at the scene of an accident – because they all assume someone else is doing it. If there are too many people CC’ed in your email, you might have the same problem. (Tip: if you need that many recipients, use BCC.)

You know the cliché “treat others how you want to be treated”? Try applying it to emails – send emails you wouldn’t mind receiving, and it’s likely the recipient will feel the same.


   
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1 min read

One is the loneliest number. (And two is the loneliest number since the number one.)

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 8, 2017 7:53:00 PM

We know that people have short attention spans and that you have approximately 7 seconds to grab their attention before they move on to another website.

A good headline is of utmost importance for grabbing attention, and headlines with numbers in them that lead to lists get the most reads.

Use numbered content lists for you because:

  • The content is easy to put together
  • They’re easy to share on social media
  • They offer easy content extension (3 More Ways ...)

Use numbered content lists for your readers because:

  • They’re easy to read
  • They offer a specific promise – readers know what to expect before they even open the content
  • The content is memorable

Before you start, remember this:

  • Odd-numbered lists get more clicks
  • “3” is more attention-grabbing than “three”

Ready to give it a try? Consider this formula:

  • Odd number + adjective + mistakes/tips/insights/shortcuts + for/to + achieving/avoiding + desired outcome/disaster = headline
    • 7 Easy Ways to Grill the Perfect Steak

Numbered lists are also a great way to build authority in your area of expertise. As long as you, for example, actually have 7 great tips for grilling steak, prospective clients will know you're knowledgeable and keep coming back for more.

Building a Killer Content Strategy
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1 min read

The age-old debate: nature versus nurture

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 5, 2017 7:52:00 PM

In marketing, nurture always wins.

Nurture marketing – sometimes known as lead nurturing –  is the process of continually engaging a prospect with offers based on your unique value, and inviting them to respond for deeper engagement.

In general, only about 10% of your prospects are ready to make an immediate purchase. That leaves 90% of prospects who aren’t ready – at least for now.

Your goal is to keep your business at the top of their mind so that when they’re finally ready to make a purchase, they’ll come to you. That’s where nurture marketing comes in.

Consider these steps for successful nurture marketing:

  • Offer content that builds trust and educates – newsletters, webinars, etc.
  • Offer opportunities for engagement – workshops, contests, etc.
  • Be consistent – engage a prospect, on average, once a month.
  • Don’t be annoying – constantly bombarding them with content will lead to an “unsubscribe.”
  • Don’t be boring – send a unique offer every month.

(Of course, different industries and different products may vary.)

Nurture marketing fills the gap between “I might be interested in your product” and “I’m ready to buy.” Hopefully, you’ve been nurturing these prospects so well that when they get to the “I’m ready to buy” stage, they consider no one but you.

How to Build a Remarkable Business by Focusing on the Total Customer Experience
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1 min read

Seminars on steroids (aka webinars)

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 3, 2017 7:50:00 PM

Webinars revolutionized seminars, as that’s what they are – except you use video conferencing software and broadcast them online. This exponentially increases the number of possible attendees, allowing you to reach a far larger audience.

For a good turn out, try some of these tips:

  • Choose a compelling title.
  • Create a landing page so sign up is easy.
  • Promote on social networks, emails, Google Ads, a newsletter, etc.
  • Consider creating a short “trailer” of your webinar content. (Like for a movie.)
  • Offer reminders – send out more than one email, social media post, etc. (Don’t be annoying with the promotion, either. There's a fine line.) 

Once you have attendees and the webinar is imminent, try this example agenda:

  • Introduction
  • Problem statement
  • Things to consider in the solution
  • Presentation of your solution
  • Demonstration (as appropriate)
  • Summary of info presented
  • CTA
  • Q&A and contact info

Other considerations:

  • To keep the attendees engaged, make your presentation aesthetically pleasing.
  • Don’t try to cram 2 hours’ worth of information into an 1 hour webinar.
  • Be entertaining.
  • Create a recording to send to everyone who signed up, even if they didn’t attend.
  • Put the webinar on your site so people can continue to access it.

Some attendees will be competitors keeping an eye on you, and some will be individuals who are interested in the topic but may not be looking to do business with you, but many attendees offer the possibility of new business.

Step by Step Guide to Internet Marketing
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1 min read

Mine your relationships for new business

By Courtney Stallings on Apr 2, 2017 7:48:00 PM

REFERRALS. The gold at the end of the rainbow for your marketing purposes.

We hear you saying, “but it's not that easy to get referrals!"

First things first – are you doing these things?

  • Giving potential referrers a frame of reference – a position – to think of a referral within?
  • Being consistent so customers always know what to expect?
  • Getting customers to know, like, and trust you?

If you're not, you should be, because referrals are powerful. They offer:

  • Great ROI
  • A shorter sales cycle
  • More qualified leads
  • Fewer price issues

 

Who should you be asking for referrals?

  • Anyone who serves your target market but doesn’t compete with you
  • Current customers
  • Strategic partners

 

Here comes the hard part – asking for, and getting, referrals.

Try this referral process:

  • Set expectations
  • Educate your customers on your referral process and what the perfect referral looks like
  • Choose “moments of truth” to act
    • After the first meeting
    • After signing the contract
    • After critical milestones are met
  • Follow up
    • Tell them the status of their referral
    • Offer to return the favor
  • Reward
    • Something personal, for their business, or for the community
    • A small token “just for thinking of us”

 

A referral isn’t always a lead, but it can still have tremendous value as an introduction, a new partner, or a new vendor.

Perfect Introduction the ideal tool to make referrals easier
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1 min read

You wouldn't believe the size of the chasm between sales and marketing

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 30, 2017 7:46:00 PM

If we told you that groups with shared goals are more efficient than groups whose goals are at odds with each other, you'd probably think, “doesn't everyone know that?"

Well, in many companies, it seems that the sales and marketing departments have forgotten. Surveys show that marketing and sales have very different views of their own – and each other's – performance:

  • 20% of marketers believe that sales follows up on 95%+ of leads, whereas 50% of sales people think they do.
  • 28% of marketers believe that sales departments use fewer than 25% of their assets, whereas 97% of sales people think they use more than 25% of their sales tools.

But there are steps you can take to fix the problem:

  • Have the marketing and sales teams share KPIs.
  • Agree to a time frame – marketing will leave a lead with a salesperson for X days before starting the nurture marketing process.
  • Clearly document service level agreements between sales and marketing.
  • Measure conversion rather than just volume of leads delivered.  

Research data says that businesses that strongly align sales and marketing outperform their peers with 19% faster revenue growth and 15% higher profitability.

Marketing and sales have a shared mission – but currently, many of them are losing the battle. If they can't learn to work together, they're well on the way to losing the whole war.

Get the whole research study to learn more!

Sales and Marketing Collaboration Case Study 
Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

The postman still delivers

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 25, 2017 7:45:00 PM

Direct mail is the ideal small business vehicle.

With it, you can:

  • Target an ideal prospect
  • Promote products/services that might be “outgunned” by similar but larger and more well-known products/services
  • Test offers
  • Easily – and objectively – measure results

Here’s how to write a piece of direct mail:

  • Opening paragraph
    • Your name, company, and position
    • What you’ll help them accomplish
  • Body
    • Offer to give expert opinion on how to take existing solution to a new level
    • Explain that it doesn’t have to be a costly process
  • Closing
    • Let them know you’re actively seeking your ideal client and are willing to lower your prices to help them in exchange for a referral when you’re done
    • Let them know that you can solve their problem and that they are one of only a few who are in a position to take advantage of this offer
    • Ask them to reply if they’re interested

And the best part? It’s pretty inexpensive.

Direct mail fun fact: The first direct mail (catalog, in this case) was sent by Aaron Montgomery Ward. As you might guess from his name, it was a successful first venture in direct mail!

50 Simple Lead Generation Tactics
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1 min read

You Don't WANT Testimonials, You NEED Testimonials

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 23, 2017 7:43:00 PM

We're never done talking about testimonials.

If you read any of our content, you know how we feel about case studies and testimonials – and if you are just getting started reading our content, this is how we feel about them:

Get them, get them, get them!

So what do you need to know about getting case studies and testimonials?

  • Video is better than audio, audio is better than written, and all of them are better than nothing at all.
  • They're more effective when others hear them in the customer's voice (aka, get the customer to do it whenever you can).

 

To get the best case study/testimonial possible, ask these questions:

  • How long have you worked with us?
  • Do you remember why you chose us?
  • What are our strengths?
  • What have we done for you that others in the past don’t or haven’t?
  • What one or two things have we done that made the biggest difference for you?
  • What’s the one word that best describes us?
  • What 3 things would you tell another business person that is looking for [X] today to make sure they understand before they buy?

 

Don't let the customer be vague! A case study is no good if the customer can't offer specific examples or just seems ho-hum in his enthusiasm.

Before you publish, consider these guidelines:

  • Keep it to 2-4 pages in length
  • Answer the 5 Ws
    • Who, what, when, why, where
    • how! (Yes, we know it's not a “w," but it's what they taught us in school about journalism.)
  • Don't over-edit, or it won't sound like the customer

 

Now put it out there – on your website, in a blog, on a review site (like Yelp) – so people know how great you are!

Remember: the best way to get a new customer is through a referral, and case studies/testimonials are pavement on the road to referrals.

Customer Testimonial Worksheet
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1 min read

Did you think PowerPoint was dead?

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 23, 2017 7:34:00 PM

Did you know that you can process images 60,000 times faster than you can process text?

Images are powerful tools, and you are dependent on them to attract customers and express concepts. But not everyone is a graphic designer, and not everyone can afford Photoshop, so getting the perfect image can be a challenge.

Enter Microsoft PowerPoint.

After inserting the image you want to edit onto a slide, you can use tools like: 

  • Corrections – changes brightness and contrast
  • Recolor – changes color and mood dramatically
  • Filters – adds artistic filters like blurring and pixelating
  • Remove Background – removes the background
  • Crop – removes unwanted borders, etc.

And if you don’t have any images you think you can work with, check out these royalty-free image sites:‎

Follow these tips, and these, and get better images that lead to better customer attraction and understanding. 

Topics: website
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1 min read

Your PPC-to-English Translation

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 20, 2017 7:33:00 PM

If you read last week’s marketing tip, you learned that paying for visitors isn’t always bad, and that the best way to do so is with a pay-per-click (PPC) marketing campaign.

Before you get started, there are some terms, acronyms, and definitions you’ll need to know:

  • Ad position – where your ad appears on the page in relation to other ads
  • Ad rank – determines your ad position
  • Clicks – the number of times an ad is clicked
  • Impressions – the number of times your ad is shown on a search results page
  • Clickthrough rate (CTR) – a ratio that shows how often the people who see your ad click it
    • clicks divided by impressions
  • Cost per click (CPC) – how much you pay each time an ad is clicked
  • Cost – total cost of all clicks
  • Quality score – how relevant Google thinks your ads, keywords, and landing pages are
  • Conversion – the number of clicks that result in a conversion
  • Conversion rate – the percentage of clicks that results in a conversion
    • conversions divided by clicks
  • Cost per conversion – the average cost of all conversions
    • cost per click divided by conversions

 

You can make PPC marketing more effective and affordable by knowing these things:

  • The higher your quality score, the higher your ad rank
  • The higher your ad rank, the higher you will appear on the search engine results page
    • This increases your CTR
  • The higher your quality score, the less you’ll pay for each click

 

The whole concept of pay-per-click can be confusing, we know. But it’s worth learning because PPC is a perfect tool for putting yourself in front of your target market just when they need you. (And we can help!)

   50 Simple Lead Generation Tactics
Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

Nobody likes a mosquito

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 20, 2017 7:29:00 PM

Following up on a conversion is important, but sensitivity to timing might be more important. If you follow up with someone within 5 minutes of them (for example) downloading something from your website, you’ll connect with them more than 70% of the time. It’s about catching people in the moment.

But don’t make it a “sales call.” Just because they downloaded something doesn’t mean they’re ready to buy, or even engage in anything similar to a sales conversation. If, however, they ask a very specific question about pricing, they’re much further along in the buying process. It’s all about reading the buyers’ clues and taking the appropriate action.

It’s a delicate dance – follow up too aggressively by email and they may unsubscribe. Don’t follow up at all or follow up for too short a period of time and they may go to a competitor because they’ve forgotten about you by the time they’re ready to buy.

Marketing is not a “set it and forget it” part of business, and that’s never been truer than now.

Want to learn more? Read the full blog post here.

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

The telephone isn't dead quite yet

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 19, 2017 7:32:00 PM

Telephone conversations are incredibly powerful – but also incredibly expensive. If you don’t approach making phone calls the right way, you’ll succumb to the decreasing ROI that is telemarketing.

Why does telemarketing have such a rapidly decreasing ROI?

  • Prospects are great at hiding
  • Research and brand preference are done by search
  • Closed, profitable deals are rare

 

It’s better to approach the calls as “teleSURVEYING” calls versus “teleMARKETING" calls.

That is, use the phone to:

  • Gather intelligence
  • Gather contact info
  • Gather sentiment
  • Gather intent

 

You may find a lead, but that shouldn’t be your goal on the phone – use the telephone for the powerful research weapon it is and you won’t be disappointed.


   
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1 min read

If you don’t measure it, it can hurt you

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 17, 2017 8:36:00 AM

If you aren’t using Google Analytics, what are you waiting for? It's the best, free method to understanding what is truly happening with your business's most important online asset – your website.

What does it do for you? Google Analytics:

  • Provides you with charts that show you an overview of your site’s performance.
  • Tells you when your site has peaks – the times of the day/week/month that people visit your site most.
  • Tells you where you're getting the most traffic – search engines or links to your site on other websites.

 

It also offers a breakdown of the quality of your site's traffic, because, on the internet, not all visitors are created equal.

Traffic quality:

  • Visitors who stay for 6 seconds – bad
  • Visitors who stay for 60 seconds – good
  • Visitors who stay for 6 minutes – better

 

When visiting a company's website, people decide if they can solve their problem there in less than one second. If you pass that test, you get 8 more seconds before they make another decision about staying or bouncing.

You should use Google Analytics because you should know your web stats – if you don't, how can you improve them?

Refresh Your Website with Growth Driven Design
Topics: website
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1 min read

Writing your buyer persona's biography (because it can't be an autobiography!)

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 10, 2017 7:24:00 PM

Buyer personas represent your ideal customer – a narrow selection of people to aim your marketing at so they'll come flocking to your doors, and later, bring their friends.

To make that happen, your buyer persona needs a biography. Use this template to get started:

Paragraph 1

Hi, my name is _______. I'm from _______, I'm _______ years old, and I like to do _______, _______, and _______.  (These are common characteristics your ideal cilents will share.)

Paragraph 2

_______ happened, and now I need a product/service like yours. I want the product/service I choose to do _______. (What are the triggers that might set off your ideal client's need to search for a solution that should be your product?)

Paragraph 3

I went to a search engine and I'm frustrated because all the companies that offer this product/service say _______. I really want them to say _______ but I can't find anyone who says that.

Paragraph 4

In other words, what I really want is a person or company who can _______. 

Paragraph 5

Because if I get what I want, I can _______.

Remember: you are not selling to “anyone with money.” Buyer personas are narrowing your scope and saving you from wasting time marketing to the wrong audience.

Buyer Persona Template
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1 min read

Generate leads with testimonials

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 9, 2017 7:08:00 PM

Testimonials are used in the sales process to convey trust that your service or product can do what you say it can do. What many people miss is that testimonials can also be used to generate leads.

 

Click here to read our post Five Ways to Use Testimonials to Generate Leads.

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

Do you know why you win or lose a sale?

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 6, 2017 12:00:00 AM

It's always been necessary to understand why you won or lost a sale, but in today’s marketing environment, it's even more so.

In most cases, you've spent a good amount of time talking with your prospect about your business and why they should buy from you, so the end of the buying process is a perfect time to do some market research. A great time for insight for you!

You can get the client's view of how you position yourself and what benefits you provide, which will help you understand your customer's buying process and their personas. You'll get a better understanding of the problems they were trying to solve that you either solved for them or didn’t. You can uncover any miscommunications that occurred.

In a world where understanding everything about your potential buyers is paramount to your success, a win/loss assessment is crucial. If you are interested in learning more about what questions to ask, drop us an email or give us a call, we would be happy to help.

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

Are you speaking your customers' language?

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 5, 2017 6:58:00 PM

Mostly all of our audiences will make an informed decision based on the information and content available on your website. Customers tend to trust a company that speaks their language, so it's important to understand your clients may not always use the same language you are used to.

You have got to understand the unique value of your offers and the unique value of your business as it relates to your prospective customer. We tend to want to talk about our business, our product, and our services with our language that we use internally or that we use within our industry. The reality is your prospects generally don't talk that way. They're using their own set of languages and their own set of words. So it's really important to talk in their words, not yours.

To be successful in today’s business world and have a competitive edge, you have to direct your content to your audience with the proper language in mind. It may not be easy to identify your customers language, but when you do you will have a better idea of exactly which keywords they are searching and it will be easier to develop content on your website to attract your targeted audience.

Here are a few things you should know:

  • Customers typically do not use three letter acronyms to describe services they are looking for
  • Avoid using your everyday office language that you would speak to a developer, department head or even an internal employee
  • Always avoid speaking in a language your customers may not understand or search
  • Don't be afraid to ask your customer what they are searching for on the web, this may relate to your products or services and help you identity and eliminate certain key phrases
Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

Making inbound marketing work for you

By Courtney Stallings on Mar 2, 2017 6:48:00 PM

Inbound marketing is the most effective marketing method for doing business online. Creating quality content that people find interesting, useful, or helpful will start attracting people to your website. Some business owners struggle with deciding which content is appropriate. Remember you not only want to attract people to your website, you want to convert them into a customer.

Question and answer sites can give you immediate insight into your audience's most pressing problems. These tools let you review popular questions related to topics you're interested in, questions are created, answered, edited and organized by a community of users.

Want to learn more about how to make inbound marketing work for you? Watch our prerecorded Inbound Marketing - A Fishing Story Webcast and learn more about:

  • Getting found online and ranking your site
  • Attracting the right leads and use analytics
  • Understanding how to research and choose the correct keywords
  • Key elements for successful Inbound Marketing

 

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1 min read

Make your website a lead generation tool

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 26, 2017 6:42:00 PM

Is your website generating leads? Most business owners that we speak to have the same complaint about their website: it doesn’t generate leads.

Topics: website
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1 min read

Does your landing page have a clear next step?

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 18, 2017 5:16:00 PM

It's important that when your prospective customer visits your landing page, you're always moving them forward to a clear next step or goal. After all, your landing page is there to capture your visitor’s attention and have them fill out their contact information on your form. 

A clear next step is a lead, sale, or some type of measurable conversion. If a prospective customer has taken the time to visit your landing page you may be losing possible customers and conversions if you do not clearly define your next step. Tell your visitor exactly what the next step is so they recognize it immediately.

Adding a clear CTA (Call-to-Action) will allow your prospective customer or visitor to easily understand the next step. It is important to remember that not all visitors will read through your entire landing page so adding your CTA in the beginning of the page will allow you to collect these conversions easily.

Topics: website
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1 min read

10 ways to get repeat customer sales

By Courtney Stallings on Feb 5, 2017 4:50:00 PM

The easiest way to increase sales is through repeat business.

 

Are you doing a good job at keeping your current customers happy? If you don’t have a defined process for regularly touching customers, then I suspect not. A newsletter is a touch point but rarely leads to repeat sales. In our post, Gaining repeat customer sales – Six quick tips, we talk about some ways to stay in touch with existing customers in the hope of increasing revenue.

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

What makes up a good landing page?

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 25, 2017 4:40:00 PM

Your landing page is where your visitor will be taken after they click on your ad, this is where they are asked to submit their contact information so they can become a lead, so what makes up a GOOD landing page?

You first want to make sure your offer is clear and the visitor will understand what they are getting in return for exchanging their contact information.

Your name and logo are not as important to other key pieces of information when creating your landing page. You should be sure to include testimonials and credentials. Including your testimonials and credentials are two components that are considered your trust icons; this will convey to your visitor that they are dealing with a reputable trusted company.

Topics: website
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1 min read

What makes up a good landing page? (part 2)

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 20, 2017 4:41:00 PM

When creating landing pages, there are many crucial pieces of information to include. One very important piece of information that you want to focus on is a having a clear tagline or explanation on your landing page. A great tagline will explain your business to a first time visitor the moment they reach your landing page! 

Offering an explanation or tagline that your customer can understand is vital. The first sentence on your landing page can determine the success of your business. With all the competition on the Internet attention spans are short, leaving you five seconds or less to capture your audience.

Spend time focusing on your tagline and remember to test how quickly your tagline is understood by other members in your team. If they are not able to clearly identify what your business is about in less than 5 seconds, its time to rethink what you already have.

Topics: website
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1 min read

Why create an eBook for your business

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 20, 2017 4:33:00 PM

With today’s market having many competitors including Kindle, iPad and other tablets, publishing over the internet has become a fast and easy process and there are several ways you can advertise. You are able to sell the same product several times without having to worry about the traditional costs that would be incurred and at the same time offer a solution to your customer’s problems.

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1 min read

I'll believe it when I see it

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 15, 2017 7:05:00 PM

Take advantage of video as an exploding content medium by using it in all stages of the inbound methodology. Here's how:
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1 min read

Does an empty page give you writer’s block?

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 1, 2017 7:00:00 PM

We've said it before and we'll say it again: content is king.

Creating it, though? Not always easy, we know.

Consider these things about content:

  • Content is anything you create, share, or curate that tells your story
  • Creating content requires a mindset to create content
  • Content has a cycle – producing, sharing, networking

 

Stuck on actually creating the content? Try these ideas:

  • Talk to yourself (we bet you have more to say than you think you do!)
  • Hire a journalist
  • Set deadlines with others (and hold each other accountable)
  • Reach out to guest bloggers
  • Write FAQs (and their answers!)
  • Publish excerpts from existing content
  • Interview someone

 

The content doesn't have to be perfect, at least not at first. The goal is to get people to come to your site and engage with you, and there are scores of websites with imperfect content but high engagement rates. So just start. Put content out there. Get people interested.

Then work on perfection. 

Crazy Busy Marketers Guide to Content Creation in the Real World
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1 min read

New year, new you! Don't settle for average this year.

By Courtney Stallings on Jan 1, 2017 6:43:00 AM

You don’t need to wait until January to make changes in your life, but since we're here on the eve of 2017, we’re going to talk about resolutions.

Those who make resolutions spend January and February jazzed about how much better life will be when the next new year arrives. In reality, though, research shows that 88% of people abandon their resolutions.

Depressing, right? But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Start by accepting this undeniable truth about resolutions: change is hard.

Then, consider this: Einstein (supposedly) said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

So you CAN make the same resolutions as last year and achieve them this year – as long as you take a different approach.

The real secret to creating lasting change is less about willpower and more about smarter goals and smarter thinking.

Try, for example, spreading out your goals. Is it really feasible to give up caffeine and smoking at the same time? While you have good intentions, your body probably can’t beat two addictions at once.

Then, change how you think about your goals – if, for example, all you do is punish yourself for failures, you'll start seeing yourself as a failure, and, if you're a failure, why bother? (Your brain says that, not us.) Positive reinforcement is the only way to make positive behavioral changes.

So make your resolutions and, while you're at it, resolve to approach them differently so you can be successful this year!

Refresh Your Website with Growth Driven Design
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1 min read

BOLO: Have you seen this person?

By Courtney Stallings on Dec 29, 2016 6:56:00 PM

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. You need them to help you focus your marketing on the right audience.

To create a fully fleshed out buyer persona, you need to know their:

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1 min read

If you don't know your “why," the “what" and the “how" don’t matter

By Courtney Stallings on Dec 20, 2016 6:55:00 PM

You started your business for a reason. There was something you wanted to do, something you wanted to share, people you wanted to help.

These are the 4 Ps:

  • Passion: your “why”
  • Purpose: the “why” of your business
  • (Value) Proposition: the “what” of your business
  • Personality: your purpose in action

 

Aren't sure what your 4 Ps are? Answering these questions might help:

Passion questions:

  • What do you want in your life?    
  • What don’t you want in your life?  
  • What’s holding you back?  
  • What’s your superpower? 

 

Purpose questions:

  • What’s your purpose story?
  • Who do you want to see your business as a hero?
  • How can your business serve your passion?
  • What are the 2-3 highest payoff activities?
  • What do your clients tell you they value the most?

 

(Value) Proposition questions:

  • How do you find a unique position for your business .….
    • doing something no one else is doing?
    • solving the frustration of consumers?
    • creating an obvious innovation?
    • creating a totally unique experience?  
 
Being intentional about passion, purpose, (value) proposition, and personality leads to clarity. Answer these questions and get to know you and your business better.
FAQ's Worksheet
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1 min read

How to get your website redesign right

By Courtney Stallings on Dec 1, 2016 4:45:00 PM

Are you planning to redesign your website? Make sure you and your website developer/graphic designer consider the following things:

Separating design success from business success

A successful website shouldn’t just look pretty – it should bring more traffic, increase conversions, and improve leads. Find a designer that can make the website look good AND have an easy-to-use interface for visitors.

Not letting past errors haunt you

Your old website had errors that may not have been obvious. The point of a redesign is, again, a better looking website that provides better results. Make sure your designer looks "under the hood" so those mistakes don't follow you to your new website.

Want to know more about successfully redesigning your website? Check out the rest of our blog here.

Topics: website
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1 min read

Think like a bloodhound and track these numbers

By Courtney Stallings on Nov 30, 2016 4:33:00 PM

Many business owners only track the number of prospects and new customers. While these are important, they aren't the only numbers you need to know.

You should also track:

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2 min read

Yeah, we compared a Thanksgiving meal to marketing

By Courtney Stallings on Nov 24, 2016 7:12:00 PM

A Thanksgiving meal is like your marketing.

Wait, wait, don’t leave! We know it sounds cheesy, but hear us out.

Your website is often the first thing that represents your business, so it’s the turkey. Turkey is the centerpiece of traditional Thanksgiving dinners, and it’s the centerpiece of your marketing campaign.

Turkey is boring by itself, though, so most Thanksgiving dinners feature plenty of sides to keep things interesting.

  • Many people pour gravy over their whole plate, which is why it’s your SEO plan. SEO should be “poured” over your whole website, complementing it like gravy complements turkey – by helping you improve your ranking in the search engines and creating backlinks.
  • Stuffing is your content strategy. It offers flavor, just like your content, language, and tone give your website its flavor. Some people like stuffing inside the turkey and some serve it separately – your website should serve its stuffing the way your buyer personas like it.
  • Marketers don’t like blogging, and many people don’t like cranberry sauce, which is why cranberry sauce is blogging. You’re guaranteed to see cranberry sauce at a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, even if people don’t like it, and you need to have blogs on your website, even if you don’t like writing them.
  • And can you imagine Thanksgiving without dessert? (We don’t like to!) Apple pie, pumpkin pie, pecan pie, bread pudding … the list of desserts is almost endless, and dessert is your social media. There are numerous social media platforms available, and each one serves a different buyer persona, so choose carefully. You wouldn’t, for example, give pecan pie to a diabetic.
  • And leftovers. Ahhh, leftovers. They keep you satisfied for days, so we’re going to make leftovers your website visitors. They visit, download, register, convert, and buy, so you’re always happy to have them.

To enjoy your Thanksgiving meal to its fullest, moderation is key – the same as for your website. Too much of anything is a bad thing, including SEO, social media, and website content (minus blogs, you should have lots of those).

Everybody’s Thanksgiving dinner looks different. Different foods are served in the north than in the south, for example, but most people have a Thanksgiving dinner of some kind. Similarly, your website shouldn’t be identical to any other website – but you need to have one or your family (prospective customers) will go hungry.

P.S. To all our non-U.S. friends  we hope this analogy made sense to you too! (And if it didn't, please feel free to contact us with questions or comments.) 

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1 min read

Aren't using social media? You're making a big mistake.

By Courtney Stallings on Nov 24, 2016 5:35:00 PM

Running a business without a social media presence is a mistake.

Here's why:

It's harder to spread the word about your business.

You can share testimonials online, and your customers will have comments of their own to share. Online, their comments will be seen by possibly hundreds of their friends.

You're in the dark about your reputation.

What are people saying about you? If you have social media and are monitoring it correctly, you can see - and respond to - both the positive and negative experiences of your customers.

It's harder and more expensive to tell people about new products.

Using social media is far less expensive than traditional advertising. One post has the potential to be seen by hundreds of people - for free. 

Need other reasons to use social media? Check here.

Topics: Social media
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2 min read

Inbound marketing - a fishing story (create more time for marketing)

By Courtney Stallings on Nov 22, 2016 5:32:00 PM

As inbound marketing becomes more and more important, we thought that we would share our thoughts on best practices to make it work for you in the coming new year.  Here are the highlights of our recorded session.  If you want to delve more deeply, download the recording.

6 steps to catch your fish:

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1 min read

The most delicious email you'll receive today!

By Courtney Stallings on Nov 18, 2016 8:16:00 AM

For our US friends, Turkey Day is only a few days away. Mashed potatoes, delicious gravy and many other American Classics will make sure to transport your thoughts far away from work and into holiday planning and preparations (not to mention TURKEY). However, before you leave, here's an important tip.

ALWAYS REMEMBER TO THANK YOUR CLIENTS FOR THEIR SUPPORT. THE SMALLEST GESTURES CAN OFTEN HAVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT.

Though this may seem simple, it is often easy to get caught up in activities and to-do lists. On a day to day basis, you may not be thinking about ways to thank your client, but remember, appreciation comes in the smallest of forms. Here are some quick ideas: 

  • Answer emails promptly, even if it's just to say, "I'll give you an answer shortly"
  • Deliver something you committed to ahead of time (takes a lot of planning, but you can definitely do it)
  • Send your client an email just to check in on how happy they are with your service or product, and ways you can improve
  • Based on your comfort level, ask your clients about their families and important events in their lives
  • Send them holiday emails that will spice up their inbox 

 

Make every interaction count. After all, relationships are nothing but a collage of interactions that create a story. 

Customer Service Webinar

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1 min read

The marketing hourglass

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 25, 2016 6:26:00 PM

Marketing is about thinking through who your ideal client is and then working your way through the 7 components of the marketing hourglass.

To move potential customers through the hourglass, you need to look at those components separately and develop content that will logically move a person along the continuum.

You can't just produce any old content, though, or put it just anywhere. It has to be quality content, and it has to be thoughtfully placed or it won't reach potential customers at the right spot in the buyer's journey. 

Here are the 7 components of the hourglass and the types of content/places for content recommended for each one.

  • Know: social media, paid marketing, PR, referrals
  • Like: website/blog, reception/staff interaction, newsletter
  • Trust: search, expert content, references, testimonials
  • Try: webinar, evaluation, small offers
  • Buy: service team, new customer kit, finance/delivery
  • Repeat: post-project survey, cross-selling, quarterly events
  • Refer: results reviews, partner intros, peer2peer events

 

At the end of the day, the idea is to get your current clients to stay with you as well as be an advocate for your business. You can start by guiding them through the marketing hourglass.

Download our Marketing Maturity eBook

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2 min read

The robots are coming! (And you should invite them in.)

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 20, 2016 6:05:00 PM

63% of us are using artificial intelligence (AI) and don’t know it. You’d have missed that great new movie if Netflix hadn’t suggested it, and how much easier is it when Facebook tags your friends for you? And yes, those ads that appear online after you’ve done a search for something – also AI.

But before you panic about the world being taken over by robots, consider this: AI isn’t new. The term was coined in 1956 by a Dartmouth professor whose goal was to “make machines use language, form abstractions and concepts, solve the kinds of problems now reserved for humans, and improve themselves.”

Right now, AI is common in voice search, ecommerce, and customer service. As it grows, however, AI is poised to change nearly every part of marketing – in a good way.

In that vein, here are some key aspects you’ll need to know to be a successful marketer in an AI world.

  • Data mining – the process of computers discovering patterns within large data sets. (Amazon, for example, uses data mining to analyze customer data and offer product suggestions through their “customers who bought this item also bought...”)
  • Natural language processing – makes AI more sophisticated by enabling it to understand voice commands. (Voice searches, for example: the AI translates what it hears into text, executes the search using the text, finds the answer in text form, then formulates a sentence that it reads back to you in a human voice with human syntax.)
  • Semantic analysis – the study of stringing words into phrases, phrases into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, etc. and building language in the context of culture. (This is a current shortcoming of AI – most AI programs can’t pick up on context clues or understand figures of speech.)
  • Machine learning – the process of feeding data to an AI program to teach it to sort the information, learn and identify patterns, form conclusions, and generate predictions.

Imagine having a to-do list that prioritizes itself based on your work habits. Or an AI chatbot that handles simple customer service requests so you have time for the complex ones. These examples are just the beginning of how AI will affect the way marketers work.

For more info about AI, read this blog. (And this one, this one, and this one.)

How to Build a Remarkable Business by Focusing On the Total Customer Experience
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2 min read

It's hard to be a hermit nowadays

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 15, 2016 5:43:00 PM

Are you doing social media? If you read our marketing tips, you know we strongly believe that the answer should be YES – even if you’re a B2B business. The goal is to draw visitors to your website and convert them to leads, right? Well, if millions of people use social media ...

To get the most out of your social media campaign, ask yourself these questions:

  • What are you promoting?
    • You probably feel like it’s pretty obvious what you’re promoting: a blog post, an eBook, etc. But what you’re REALLY promoting is a desire for something – downloads, readers, website visitors, etc. When you know that, you can craft each social media post with a more purposeful message.
  • Who is your target audience?
    • Because you have buyer personas (you do, right?), you already know the needs, goals, and behavior of your potential customers. This knowledge dictates the offers you'll make and the voice you’ll use to speak to them on social media.
  • Are you planning specifically for each network?
    • Not all social media is created equal; different platforms attract different audiences and each has its own “secret sauce" posting schedule. Enter buyer personas again. Since you know where your prospective customers “live” online, you can plan your social media posts accordingly. 
 
Social media is a strategic must-have, but, like blogging, we can understand how overwhelming it can feel. Consider the above questions when planning a social media campaign, and check out this blog for more ideas on making social media more manageable.
Topics: Social media
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1 min read

What's in is in, and what's out is out.

By Courtney Stallings on Oct 10, 2016 4:50:00 PM

Inbound marketing vs outbound marketing

Outbound marketing is intrusive (especially when done badly). It says, “You will see me whether you like it or not.” And more and more frequently, the desire is ... not. People hate to be interrupted, whether it's during dinner with a telemarketing call, during their web surfing with a pop-up ad, or during their favorite TV show with commercials.

In fact:*

  • 84% of internet users have left a website immediately after closing a pop-up ad.
  • 200 million Americans have added their phone numbers to the "Do Not Call" list.
  • 86% of television watchers use a DVR device or streaming video to avoid commercials.
  • 44% of direct email messages are never opened.

The secret to inbound marketing's success is letting people come to you. With a combination of SEO, content offers, referrals, and social media, you (un-obnoxiously) show prospective clients that you have the answer they seek. Publishing the right content in the right place at the right time makes your marketing relevant and helpful versus interruptive and intrusive.

Now, outbound marketing still has a place – after all, people have to be looking for you or your product/service for inbound marketing to work. But keep in mind: inbound marketing costs 62% less per lead than outbound marketing. If your ideal customer is looking for you, then inbound is the way to go.

 

*Our statistics came from this infographic by Voltier Digital.


   
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1 min read

11 ways to make your website work harder

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 15, 2016 8:25:00 AM

Do you wish your website was better but don't have the money for a complete overhaul? Utilize these tips to get your website working harder for you without a total redesign.

It's not me, it's you: Design your site and write your copy for your customers, not for yourself.

3rd grade navigation: If a 3rd grader can't use your website, it's too complicated.

Who needs blogs?: You! Blogging is the best SEO tool out there.

Entertain me: Also known as, don't be boring.

Add calls-to-action: Give your customers something to DO, not just something to look at.

Trust me: Be an expert in your field so people will look to you for information.

Be more social: If you aren't using social media, start now, and connect it to your website.

Incoming: Be a guest blogger, write columns, get listed in directories – incoming links are important.

Make it readable: Write your content at a 3rd grade reading level.

Face time: Introduce your employees to show the faces behind your name.

Leverage technology: Your website should be your best salesperson. Many customers will not speak to you or any of your people until the end of their buying process— but they'll see your website.

The sales process is evolving, and your website needs to be evolving along with it.

Refresh Your Website with Growth Driven Design
Topics: website
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2 min read

Website redesign nightmares keeping you awake?

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 10, 2016 10:50:00 AM

Choose your redesign agency very carefully.

Devote time and consideration when choosing a redesign agency. Look at their reputation. Ask for references. View samples of their work. (For a more in-depth look at this topic, read this)

Transparency of process is essential.            

What is your designer’s process? What will be done, when, how often will you check in, and what are the consequences of failure to deliver? Outline these in the contract from the very beginning to avoid confusion.

Get an example of what the designer would change and why.

Ask them how they would improve your existing website, both aesthetically and as a lead converting tool – remember, just because your website is pretty doesn’t mean it will “sell” your business.

Don’t forget your responsibilities.

The designer designs your site, but the content is yours. Don’t 1) make them wait for content and then complain it’s taking them too long or 2) ask them to create content. You should be working just as hard as your designer – it’s your website, so be ready to do your part.

Have a built-in agreement for your website review.

In your action plan, include a review process with the number of revisions allowed for any given page. That way, you’re satisfied with the results and don’t have to ask for additional changes before getting the last files for your website.

Don’t be unreasonable.

Don’t sign a contract and then ask the designer to do things that weren’t in the contract. Once you have paid and accepted the final product, the designer is technically done – any additional work will come with a price tag and a contract of its own.

Never pay 100% up front.

If you pay 100% up front, you lose a lot of your leverage and will have slower progress. Pay 50% up front and the remainder when the project is completed and you are satisfied. You could also collect a percentage of the agreed upon amount as your designer hits different milestones

Last tip ... GET A MARKETING STRATEGY.

Throw everything you just read out the window and remember that website designers are not marketers and your website redesign will not be successful unless you have a solid marketing strategy behind it.

Website Performance

Topics: website
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1 min read

If you're not memorable, you cease to exist

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 5, 2016 12:32:00 PM

We live in a crazy busy world. People are in 10 places at once, and if you don't make an impact on them in at least one of those places, you don't exist.

What does it take to exist? You have to be MEMORABLE. You have to have a "hook." What unique thing represents what you do? What's the phrase, the tagline, the talking logo, the unique packaging that makes sure people remember YOU and not your competitor?

And doing what you do better, faster, cheaper is not doing it more memorably. Even if you get the customer the first time, will they remember you the next time? Will they remember to refer you others?

If not, you're not memorable, and in today's business environment, that's tantamount to not existing at all.

 Crazy Marketer's Guide to Content Creation

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1 min read

Jack of all trades, master of none

By Courtney Stallings on Jul 1, 2016 8:35:00 AM

If you need someone to paint your house, should you go to a remodeling contractor? No. Why? Because even though they offer the service, it’s not their specialty.

If you need to do marketing, should you go to a web development company? No, and for the same reason – it’s not their specialty.

Marketing never stops. Ever.

It takes effort. There are constant tweaks necessary to provide the content and website experience your potential leads are seeking. But website development companies aren’t in it for the long haul – you might get a support plan that entitles you to updates, but you need more than that.

It takes time. You may know best practices, but they’re only half the battle. What call-to-action design, color, and content will have the best click rate? You don’t know for sure, so you test. And change things. And test again. This is too long a process for a web development company.

It takes practice. To stay on top of marketing, you have to be on the cutting edge of best practices, tactics, cultural shifts, new tools and channels, and web development and design trends. Web development companies need only spend their time honing their web development and design trend knowledge.

So do you really want to trust your business’s marketing, lead generation, and fiscal future to a company that knows a lot about web development but only a little about marketing?

We don’t think so either.

50 Simple Lead Generation Tactics

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1 min read

How to be remarkable

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 24, 2016 8:50:00 AM

Do you have a leak in your revenue-generation boat?

Figure out where it is by answering these 3 questions:

  1. To your marketing manager: What is a qualified lead that should be passed onto sales?
  2. To your sales manager: What is a qualified lead that should be accepted by sales?
  3. What happens when a salesperson’s qualified lead either delays the purchase or turns out to not be qualified after all? 

The answers to questions #1 and #2 should match. In fact, they should be identical. And it should be easy.

Except … it’s not. Why?

There are a few reasons, including accountability issues, a disconnect between your teams, and the way the customer buying process has changed.

There is no easy answer, but if you don’t plug the leak in your revenue-generation boat, your customers are going to start looking for a more sail-worthy craft.

Read more about fixing your leak here.

12 Ways to Know Your Marketing Has Lost Its Way

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

People still use phones for phone calls?

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 17, 2016 8:54:00 AM

This week's Inbound conference informational tidbit comes from Carole Mahoney and her session "The Rules of Engagement for Inbound Sales."

The scenario:

Somebody downloaded something from your website – quick, what do you do?

Call them.

It doesn’t have to be a long conversation. Say, "I'm in between meetings, but I saw that you just downloaded [x] from our website." This lets them know that you won't be keeping them on the phone forever, and they'll take the time to answer a few of your questions.

Ask them:

  • Did the download work?
  • How did you find [the downloaded content]?
  • Were you looking for it for yourself or for someone else?
  • Did you have any “ah-ha!” moments?
  • Why did you select [x, y, z] on the form?

 

Make the call within 5 minutes of the download and multiply your sales by FOUR. 

Customer Service Webinar

Topics: Leads-Sales
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1 min read

7 reasons even your mother would ignore your email

By Courtney Stallings on Jun 10, 2016 9:49:00 AM

We went to the Inbound conference again this year, and we learned a lot – including the fact that yes, even your mother might ignore your emails.

We know what you're thinking: she's my MOTHER ... she's not supposed to ignore me!

Here are 7 reasons that's not true.

You sent it at the wrong time – like on a Tuesday instead of a Monday or Saturday.

You didn’t ask her if she wanted your emails in the first place– if you send her emails she didn't ask for, legally they're spam.  

You sent more than 4 – if she doesn’t open any of those, she's telling you she doesn't want them.

You were too personal – “Hi Mom” is ok, but “Hi Mom at Parenting, Inc.” is too much.

You used the wrong words – like “medical,” “financial,” and “free.”

You made it look like work – your CTA is an island in an ocean of text.

Her internet is down – why didn’t you return her voicemail asking for tech support? 

Download our Marketing Maturity eBook

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