All posts by Thomas_Prendergast

Learn Advantages for an Entrepreneur

Learn Advantages for an Entrepreneur

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For an entrepreneur who chooses to build a business in an existing business ecosystem, participating as a member of an ecosystem may offer the following advantages:

1. Market entry barrier reduction: joining an existing ecosystem can significantly reduce the technology barriers to enter a market, which in turn reduces the time to money, startup costs and ongoing operations costs.

2. Access to customers: ecosystems provide ready access to a well-defined, often international, base of customers. Access to customers is often one of the most difficult challenges for a startup to overcome and achieving access to customers can be one of the most expensive operational costs at the early stage of development as the revenue is just starting to ramp.

3. Operations cost reduction: ecosystems provide infrastructure services that reduce operations and startup costs, allowing the entrepreneur to avoid spending time on non-value activities such as information technology, process and technology.

4. Elimination of regional limitations: or local barriers related to access to talent, which no longer restricts a particular business operation to a large population center. The forming and operating of the business can now be location-independent.

For an entrepreneur who chooses to create a new business ecosystem and associated keystone organization, the business ecosystem model offers the following advantages:

1. Makes niche markets viable: keystone organizations can leverage niches by allowing members to make more money than they might as independents due to lack of reach or lack of community.

2. Leverages international disparities: a business ecosystem can allow widely differing costs of labour around the world to be harnessed, which can undermine the economics of incumbent providers.

3. Makes scarce skills abundant: ecosystems can harness under-employed experts and aspiring professionals for a wide variety of products and services.

4. Collaborative communities: help redefine the keystone organization assets to widen its value to member companies; communities can also help develop and sustain the assets to reduce operations costs.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Women in marketing

Go to the profile of Rhea Drysdale

Rhea Drysdale 

I’m struggling with a marketing problem and I’m a marketer. Perhaps you can help me out? What problem might you ask?

Fear.

I’m terrified of marketing my company and myself.

How come?

Because I want to shoot videos about the SEO industry for my company, but I’m scared of what will happen. This is a real fear that has kept me from doing what I want to do for years now. I’m scared of the feedback and comments I’ll receive from others, specifically crude feedback about my appearance, how I talk, my language, and any other number of issues that women are frequently subjected to when we’re visible.

Yes, that’s our only crime — being visible.

How do I overcome this fear? I need to be visible to gain business and I’m pretty sure I have a fun, unique way of doing it. A business consultant told me years ago that I should be the Emily Graslie of SEO and digital marketing. I secretly cherished this idea as a massive fan girl who would’ve been in the field of primatology myself if not for a series of random events. Then I found her video about sexism in the industry and it terrified me:

Emily Graslie being amazing

tl;dw? Here are some good takeaways:

“Is there any part of my job that I don’t look forward to? I would have to say it would be the frustratingly negative and sexist comments that I have to sift through in my various inboxes on a daily basis.”

Rhea’s fear, meet reality.

“We have a fear of the feedback from our subscribers and commenters because we’re afraid that our audience is more focused on our appearance than the quality of the content. Even more than that, we’re not convinced that the content has to be good or factual because we’re not convinced that people are watching for the content in the first place.”

I would love to know how much time women anxiously waste on overthinking and preparing our appearance for a conference or a video as compared to our male counterparts. In fact, I conducted an anecdotal experiment on my appearance with shocking results…

Many years ago I used to speak at conferences wearing jeans, a nerdy t-shirt, and a blazer. I was asked to speak often and got good feedback on presentations though I was consistently rated below my more famous male peers even as the highest rated female speaker (several conference organizers let me in on a little secret — the women typically score below men even if the quality of our content is on par or better). This got to me. How could I overcome this handicap caused by simply being born a woman? To make matters worse I often had women and men telling me I should dress up more and make an effort with my looks.

I decided to change my appearance and embrace my feminine side to see if this had an impact on my speaking scores. Sure enough, it did. I received so many more compliments this time around! Unfortunately, all of them were on my appearance:

“You look amazing in that dress.”

“See! You can be a strong, confident woman and still be on stage.”

“I didn’t know you had a bootie.”

“Love your hair down.”

“You look so much better without glasses.”

This was far from the outcome I wanted and to make matters worse, I wasn’t being approached anymore and I needed people to talk to me if my agency was going to attract new business. This was a disaster.

My non-sexual jeans and t-shirt combo with my hair pulled back and glasses on made me easy to talk to, especially where men were concerned. Once I was in stilettos, a dress, and makeup with my hair down and contacts in, I was avoided except by a handful of men who already knew me and even then it felt awkward. It was as if my sexuality was suddenly on the table and no one knew how to handle it including the married conference organizer twice my age who told me the worst thing about the two of us was that we were both married. The advance was shot down and I was never asked back to the conference. Perhaps those events aren’t related, but I know I’m a good speaker and the fact that I’ve spent years questioning whether or not that incident cut me out of a good show is an issue in and of itself.

While this experiment was anecdotal, it’s my experience and that experience shaped my paralysis where marketing is concerned. That has certainly had very negative consequences for the growth of my business, because I stopped putting myself “out there.” Having two kids was also a convenient excuse, because it further eroded my confidence where my appearance was concerned and I never feel like I’m having a “good enough” day to be in front of a camera.

“There’s pressure to be the whole package. Not only do you have to be intelligent and articulate, but you also have to be attractive.”

After having a baby, the one thing I definitely wasn’t feeling was attractive. I realized I looked pretty similar to my normal self, but the exhaustion of raising an infant put bags under my eyes, which people commented on. Often and in professional settings. The last thing I wanted to do was open those comments up to the world in a permanent setting.

So, here I am world. I want to share my love for all things SEO, content strategy, digital marketing, and reputation management with you. I’m a massive nerd who can talk about Google for days, but I’d like to do it without being mansplained at best and sexually harassed at worst.

Is the world ready for another woman sharing her passion for a technical field? Does it even matter? To me it does and I hope I can take this step without negative and crude comments, but I know they’ll come in some form at some point.

Any words of advice are appreciated here. I need to find my courage and to channel my inner Emily Graslie. Thankfully, the outpouring of support from so many incredible women and men after my last post was enough to make me feel safe enough to post this here.

Thank you.

Women In TechWomenSEO

Charles R Juarez Jr
Contrubitor 

Get Found using Inbound Marketing

Get Found using Inbound Marketing

This is part of my series on Building a Sales and Marketing Machine. In this post I provide advice for building your own Inbound Marketing machine- a requirement for most businesses today.

The web has forever changed people’s buying habits. Instead of needing to rely on sales people to send them information, buyers now have Google and other search engines to research products, find competitors, and see how other people rate those products in blogs and reviews. Furthermore they are greatly influenced by individuals that have emerged as experts in particular subject areas who use social media to get their messages across.

This sea change in buying behavior requires vendors to re-think how they go to market, and optimize to make sure that they will get found by buyers using search engines, blogs, reviews, and social media. The term Inbound Marketing was invented by the crew at Markethive (When they were Veretekk), when they developed the techniques and technologies that are needed to get found by buyers, and to make sure that the reviews and blogs around your industry segment cover what you are doing. (Markethive provides great software tools, plus education to help you automate Inbound Marketing. The founder, Thomas Prendergast has written many great  books on these topics (dating back as far as 20 years ago) “Automated Marketing”, Customer Centricity”, Building a Better Website”, “The Power of the Social Network in Search Engines”, Conference Room Advantage”.

Markethive produced this great humorous video that highlights the hopelessness of the old techniques of the Outbound Marketing moron:

As further evidence of this change in buying behavior, I was recently talking to the CIO of a large pharmaceutical company, and he told me how he hates spam emails from vendors, and how he had developed a canned email response to them. I asked him to forward me a copy of that email, and have excerpted a couple of paragraphs from it that quite clearly describe the carnage:

“Please understand that I get dozens of these types of messages a week. I simply do not have time to read them, dig into them, follow-up on them, or reply to them. The most effective solution to this problem is for me to ignore the messages, which is what I usually do. …

… Finally, a small comment. As a customer, I find this type of approach to sales to be largely annoying to me and unproductive for you. We learn far more about what we want to purchase by searching the web, looking for customer references in blogs and forums, word of mouth, and by finding white papers on your site that concretely describe solutions to problems we are having.”

Remarkable Content is King

A key part of getting found is making sure you show up on the first page of a Google search. The lazy marketer’s approach to doing this is to purchase Google Adwords, and pay by the click (referred to as SEM, Search Engine Marketing). However 85% of people ignore the paid ads, so to be really effective, you will need to perfect your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) skills.

SEO requires you to develop great content that your buyers will find sufficiently interesting, different or insightful, that they will want to remark on it. (The authors of Inbound Marketing refer to that as remarkable content.) When your readers remark on your content on-line, using tools like Twitter, Facebook etc., they spread the word virally to other readers and broaden your reach. These comments lead to links back to your site, which lead to ever increasing page ranking in the search engines.

 

To be successful at this, you will need to keep the content fresh.
Traditional web sites don’t work in this regard, as they don’t change frequently enough.
What is needed is a blog that you update regularly.

 

Your blog cannot simply be a sales pitch for your product, but needs to be about topics that your buyers care to read about. The tone could be educational; or humorous; or controversial. But above all it needs to be highly engaging and relevant to them – i.e. remarkable.

When you post a new blog entry, you will see your site traffic surge for a few days, then die back to a level slightly higher than before. The more you post, the faster your traffic will build. But in the end, it is the really great articles that you post that will have the most impact.

And meritocratic blog system like Markethive (actually only Markethive) produce all of the above in a simple atmosphere of massive content curation that is immediately reward or rejected, building amazing content is King results, or something like that.

Once you have interesting content, you can use social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. to get the word out (Uh ummmm again, Marketing simplifies this to a level of excruciating results, but then like EST (You remember EST Erhard Seminar Training), you need to experience. No word, even from me, can truly do it justice.). Your goal is to get other bloggers to link to you, and to have people tweet about your content.

An interesting thing about a marketing department that focuses on Inbound Marketing: it will place a high value on people that know how to write and develop content that draws in an audience. A silver lining to the damage that the internet has inflicted on the publishing industry is that there are plenty of very talented journalists seeking employment, and they possess the perfect skills for this job!

SEO versus SEM

Like most of things that are good for us in life, SEO requires work and patience before it will payback. So it can be tempting to take shortcuts, and just use SEM (paid search ads). However if it is done right, the results will continue to build, and you will start to build your own audience, and own your own traffic.

We have also seen that the cost of paid search increases as the need to scale the lead volume grows.

The Power of Free

Another extremely powerful way to create inbound traffic and qualified leads is to use a free product or service. A great example of this is the The entire Inbound Marketing Platform (Valued in excess of up to $10,000 per month) service from Markethive. (If you haven’t tried this, I recommend giving it a try now. It will only take a few minutes to join.) Markethive has a couple of interesting attributes that are worth studying:

 

It is free of charge.
It takes very little work by the customer to get some very valuable results

 

It provides its results in the form of a score out of 100. Human beings are very competitive, and when they don’t get a good score, they want to find out how to improve their score. That leads them to wanting to find out more about Markethive which can help them improve their score.

It allows them to compare themselves to their competitors. All businesses care about how they are doing relative to their competition. If they are doing worse, this is a powerful motivator to drive them to change.

Think hard about your audience and whether there is an opportunity to build a similar free web service that would draw them in, and provide great value.

If you are interested in learning more about how Free products and services can help your marketing, please refer to this section: The Power of Free.

Building your reach

Once you have great content and possibly a free product/service, you will want to find ways to drive the maximum traffic to that content. In the last couple of years we have seen some powerful new tools emerge to help with this process in the social media space. Get yourself accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and join in the conversation. (For Twitter, I also recommend downloading the Tweetdeck application.) Start by listening. Watch what people are talking about in your topic areas, and take note of their interests. Once you have an idea of how the conversation works join in. Be careful not to take a sales stance to promote your products, as that will rapidly lose you your audience. However you can draw your audience in with short url’s (Another one of Markethive’s great free services) that link to your blog posts and other non-sales oriented content.

This short paragraph is not going to be enough to fully educate you on the ins and outs of using social media to build your audience, so if the topic interests you, I recommend going here to learn more:

Internet Marketing Webinars (see the calendar in Markethive after you join for free of course).

Influencer Campaigns

In every product area, there are usually already influencers that write the most about that area, and have the largest audience that follows them. To conduct a successful social media campaign, you will want to identify those influencers, and reach out to them to get them to write about your product/service.

To get them to pay attention to you, you will first need to understand what they care about. Read their blog posts and tweets, and try to get inside their minds. Try to determine what appeals to them, and what has clearly turned them off. Then prepare your pitch, and use social media to engage with them.

You will then want to monitor the results by tracking their blog posts, links to the articles, tweets, etc.

For more information…

Inbound marketing is a rich topic area that would take more than a single article like this to describe. For more information, consider yourself a friend of Markethive:

Markethive

Thomas Prendergast
CMO Markethive Inc.

 

 

Investment Home Sales Rebound in 2015 [INFOGRAPHIC]

Investment Home Sales Rebound in 2015 [INFOGRAPHIC]

 Friday April 29th, 2016  For BuyersInfographics

Investment Home Sales Rebound in 2015 | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • 2015 marks the first year-over-year increase in investment home sales since 2011.
  • 62% of all investment homes purchased were single family homes.
  • The South saw the highest percentage of investment home sales (39%) with the West coming in second (28%).

You might also enjoy reading…

The Ultimate Gift for Mom: Financial Freedom via Inbound Marketing

The Ultimate Gift for Mom: Financial Freedom via Inbound Marketing

Well, it's Mother's Day (okay, May 8, 2016) and time to honour the Old Girl, who gave birth to you and plays or played a pivotal role in your success or failure throughout life, just ask her.  Oh yes, your FATHER; likewise, deserves the same honour and respect on June 16th 2016, despite less media and corporate advertising on TV and Online.  Anyway, time to get down to business and demonstrate the ultimate act of L-O-V-E for one's parent.  Learn how to achieve and then, teach mum the fundamentals of financial freedom through Inbound Marketing. 

In fact, duplicate the process with other family members so it becomes a generational practice.  More importantly, you create the Ultimate Gift for Mom, that keeps on giving and giving.  It’s only fitting because she was your first teacher of Inbound Marketing.  Mum was an expert in Inbound Marketing?  Yes, she was because her task was about developing and training the “inner you” to become the best man/woman you could become, believe it or not. Additionally, she was your first teacher of Inbound Marketing because she did the following things in preparation of your arrival: researched, developed data, consulted with experts (grand mum), created strategies specific to the individual (yourself) and executed strategies to achieve a resolution to daily problems.  Should sound very familiar from both a marketing and mother perspective. Both give birth to their babies and responsible for their developmental growth which later impacts society.   

By now the symbiotic relationship between mum and Inbound Marketing should be clear, I hope. Now, let’s jump ahead in time and show the interconnectivity between technology, inbound marketing, mothers and their kids (Millennials).  So, with the massive acceleration in technological devices (computers, smartphones, IPads, Kindle, Mac Books, etc.,) and impact on social media, significant changes in societal behavioral conduct have occurred and businesses are scrambling to make appropriate adjustments to meet the needs of their consumer base.  Unfortunately, many businesses still engage in an old strategy called Outbound Marketing where companies (buy leads, pay for TV commercials, flyers, door-to-door salesman, etc.,) initiate contact by sending their messages to their desired target market.  Nothing wrong with traditional marketing (outbound marketing) if, the strategy generates new and consistent customers; however, consumer behavior has changed and attracting them requires a more individualized approach that earns their attention. It’s the intimate touch that’s so critical in today’s market (yeah, just like mum). 

Generally, Millennials (Generation Y or Net generation) are the target population most desired by most major corporations because they are some-what “fresh meat” with great potential purchasing power; however, they are also, very entitled and opinionated in their beliefs which have impacted corporate culture, media and certain parts of society when dealing with various social issues (equal pay, abortion, war, etc.,).  Being in a westernized capitalist society when money is involved or potential to generate massive revenue then, positions quickly change at least publicly because business is business.  So, mum’s little millennials are impacting the society and possibly the World be it good or bad.  So, she should be rewarded for her dedication.

Now, the research suggests that rearing a child from birth into adulthood (18-years old) costs approximately $250,000 dollars and the cost continues to increase yearly.  Yes, you are worth it but, what about Dear Old Mom?  She and the Old Man could use that money for their retirement.

How about offering Mom the ultimate Mother's Day gift and I don't mean a card with chocolates and roses.  No, give her the means to retrieve the investment cost of rearing YOU and your siblings.  Give Mom and Father (don't forget him) access to the essential Tools, Training, Traffic and Resources needed to generate, Consistent, Predictable and Long-term Residual Income in the Information/Computer and Social Media global economy.  Start on May 12th 2016 or sooner.

Oh yes, since Father's Day is shortly after Mother's Day give the Old Man an early bird special.   Since he already “Tied The Noose” it's best he has a backup plan in the event of divorce, which is likely in today's reality.

Behind every great man is a man greater, his father.” 
― Habeeb Akande

Vaurn James

Contributor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Success – What’s Keeping You Back?

What are some of the things that hold you back from succeeding?  Could it be the time factor? Or perhaps it’s that you don’t have the necessary financial resources.   Maybe it’s your personality . . . you set up barriers to success even before starting something by thinking it’s not in your nature or you don’t know what to say or do.   Perhaps you’re not technically savvy!

Think about it!    If you had the opportunity today,  to make a huge difference in your life tomorrow or even in the coming months, what would it be worth to you?  How much effort would you be willing to put into it?   How much time would you devote to this effort? 

In today’s hustle and bustle world, with economic uncertainty all around, wouldn’t  it be nice to have more time to devote to family and the things in life you truly enjoy? If you were financially secure, wouldn’t that make life so much more enjoyable?

What if there was something that you could do about it?   Would you follow through?  If push comes to shove, could you overcome your objections and leap over the barriers holding you back from success?   How motivated are you to change your situation? 

 

In order to have success, you must know, choose and be who you are.  In other words, success is finding who you really are, your core values, then consciously choosing which of these things you want to keep and which you will change or discard.   Then let that “you” be present all the time, every day, in all that you do. 

The habits you form go hand in hand with success.  It’s essential that you form habits that align with your values for you to be successful in whatever area of your life you wish.  

Have you assessed the areas that might be holding you back?

 

 

Here is a list of potential areas that might be holding you back:

  • Waiting for the right moment  — this could be disguised as procrastination or even fear.  There never really is the right moment so it’s pretty much a waste of time to wait for one.  If you are living true to your values, every moment should be acted on within the best of your interests.  Be aware and take the opportunity and run with it.
  • Needing approval from others – If you understand you are responsible for everything past and present in your life, you will understand that you will be responsible for your future.  Taking action and having faith in your own decisions will make you a leader, and you will not need the opinion or approval of others.
  • Perfectionism —  The need to always be perfect is almost a form of self-harm as it will never happen because perfection does not exist.  If you think about it, when is anything ever perfect?   It will be much better to be happy and proud of the achievements that are already made, rather than be unhappy when there is always “something else to do”.
  • Not apologizing for making mistakes – Admitting when things go wrong is something we are not too comfortable with.  The people that you have the best connection with and value the most are ones who are open and honest with you.  People respect honesty.  If you want to be respected, in business and in life, learn that apologizing for your mistakes is imperative.
  • Too stubborn to let go – Nothing lasts forever.  Ideas come and go, so will good people, employees, partners, business associates.  Learning to let go will allow you move on.  You need to find a way to allow things to leave your universe as easy as they came in.  It is helpful not to create an emotional attachment to things as they will become harder to let go.  You will make way for the new when you lose the emotion and lose the stubbornness. Know that whatever you are holding on to does not define you so no need to cling to it. 
  • Not willing to do something beyond your duties –  As the saying goes “you get out what you put in”, a little more effort goes a long way.  The super successful do not sit around reveling in their accomplishments.  They are thinking of how they can do more and continue to excel.  Step out of your comfort zone and try something you don’t usually do.  It may just become addictive!
  • Comparing yourself to others – Looking at others and measuring whether you have achieved what they have achieved, or comparing what you own to what they own is unnecessary.  Success is a personal matter so find what’s important to you, what success looks and feels like to you, and be in control of that feeling.  
  • Not assessing your mistakes – we all make mistakes.  However, if you repeatedly make the same ones over and over, then it’s time to assess.  Ask yourself honest questions.  Why the mistakes are happening and why you didn’t act differently from the last time.  This assessment will help you find better solutions in the future.
  • Spending too long worrying about the outcome – we all worry from time to time.  If you let worry take over, this will hinder your success.   Realize there is only so much that you can control and many things are out of your control.   Continue putting in hard work, relax, and what will be, will be. 
  • Not working on your  weaknesses – We all have weaknesses and it’s a good thing because, for every weakness, you have a strong area.  Identify your weak areas and then spend a bit of time daily to work on improvement in these areas. 
  • Taking life too seriously – We have a lot more on our agendas as adults compared to when we were kids.  Life can get you down, but when you feel that way, remember how wonderful life is and think about all the great people and great moments that have helped to bring you to where you are today.  Set a goal for yourself.     “At work, I’ll always stay focused and think of what to improve.” 

Your success is important, but you have full control of making it what you wish. 

Judy Curtis,

Contributor

 

 

 

8 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

SEO - Mistakes

All search engine marketers are trying desperately to promote trends

Especially the trends that are aligned with traditional digital marketing. SEO is immensely important to enhance key to improving your website’s visibility, driving more traffic and better conversion rates.

The first thing one can do as an internet marketer is to avoid making mistakes. Following “SEO Best Practices” can be difficult for online marketers. With search engines changing algorithms on a periodic basis, every SEO strategy needs to adapt and adjust with the latest techniques while giving up on age-old practices. Here are some of the prominent mistakes made by SEO experts:

Mistake #1: Not optimizing images with rest of the content

Optimizing images is sometimes not part of the SEO strategy and can be over looked. Adding target keywords to images relevant to the rest of the content helps search engines understand them. A link to the image with just numbers and alphabets in odd positions does not convey anything but some relevant words and numbers would matter. One should incorporate descriptive keywords for every image. Including relevant alt text helps search engines to find images in relevant searches and even the accessibility of the site.

Mistake #2: Keyword stuffing

Nowadays websites contain varied types of content in terms of text. One needs keywords for SEO and use of right keywords is important for getting the right audience. Optimize them carefully to gain popularity in search engines. But keyword stuffing will only ruin your website ranking since cramming a keyword multiple times makes content worthless. Only keywords do not get customers to a website. Also, Google algorithms will get the site blacklisted and also issue a bad ranking.

Relying on large amounts of mediocre content can affect sites. Using specific keywords with strategic placement and relevant content is effective. Creating insightful info about a topic can can attract attention through different channels.

Mistake #3: Not Setting Up Canonicalization

When implementing an SEO strategy, one should make sure that you do not have duplicate content on the site. If there is identical content for online access using different URLs, you need to identify the right page for visitors and implement a canonical to help search engines know that it is not a duplicate version.

Mistake #4: Disregarding Pages by Not Indexing Them

One should not forget indexing pages. Pages that are broken or missing are going to avoid search engine results altogether because pages indicating 404 error are excluded. A high number of 404s leads to an increase in bounce rate and visitors will feel cheated of any information. Search engines crawl websites and rank them and 404 pages interrupt their process. It is important not to have broken links on your site and keep the website active.

Mistake #5: No updates on site

After spending months to create an interactive and attractive website, one should try to keep it dynamic with consistent blog posts or some other content. Companies fail to optimize the site with keywords and just sit back to watch the traffic decrease. Let in some updates that will help your prospects with relevant information and they might convert to leads.

One needs to make a schedule for posting different posts related to your field on a regular basis, and consistency will get you the attention of search engines too.

Mistake #6: Neglecting social media

Neglecting social media is a crime in this day and age. Social media is no longer an optional marketing ploy but a necessity for businesses. By being conversant and relevant on popular social sites like Facebook and Twitter, one can enhance a company’s image and credibility. Sharing your content will lead the search engines and drive potential visitors to your site. Social media following can also boost brand awareness amongst loyalists.

Mistake #7: Lack of internal links

One might think that it is erroneous to link to one’s own content and even think that search engines might read into it and even blacklist the pages. Despite what you may think, internal links to website is great for SEO and helps search engines to crawl to your website. One should focus on the most important pages of any site and strategize posts to link back to those pages. One should find a real connection between pages to do the linking task.

Mistake #8: Failure to measure progress

Improving SEO is like losing weight. One needs to check and measure your progress on a consistent basis. One should know the current standing when you start, and then track the changes. With solid metrics in place, one will know that the SEO practices have been working or not. If you do not think that there has been any progress, then it is preferable to drop it.

Credit: Keval Padia

Dennis Roeder

Contributor

Online Marketing Strategies to Kick-Start Stagnant Sales

Online Marketing Strategies to Kick-Start Stagnant Sales

“Our sales are stagnant and we need SEO — please help!” 

This is something that we hear often. While search-engine optimization (SEO) can provide amazing results, they don’t happen overnight. And, oftentimes, a business can’t wait; it needs sales, and fast.

Here are three simple online marketing strategies you can start on today that can help you kick-start your stagnant online sales.

 

 

1. Hit social media hard with paid ads.

Your website is always going to be your most important online marketing asset, but there’s an entire audience that lives exclusively on social media that’s waiting to engage with your brand. 

It is highly suggested that every brand get acquainted with Instagram and Snapchat. Those two social networks are where the majority of the engagement can be found. Facebook remains solid, especially if you are targeting an older demographic, as more parents and grandparents are becoming comfortable with social media, and this is their network of choice. Twitter is currently hit or miss, but I still feel it’s an important social media presence to maintain. Twitter just passed the 10-year mark and needs to make some significant changes to spark growth very soon — it has no choice; it still isn't making money.

Organic social media engagement is great, but like SEO, it takes time. If your sales are slow, use paid social ads to create instant brand awareness and drive wallet-out buyers to your website. Facebook’s targeting options are excellent, and Instagram lets you to take advantage of those same options, allowing you to place your offer directly in front of consumers who are likely to be interested in whatever you are offering.

2. Implement an irresistible exit-offer on your website.

Not all pop-ups are created equal. Some are triggered after visitors have been on a website page for a specific period of time, and yes, this can be intrusive and really irritate them. But, an exit-offer pop-up can greatly improve your conversion rates and sales.

Set it to trigger only when your visitor is about to leave your website. That way, you won’t risk interrupting a potential conversion. Actually, just the opposite will occur, as you will have a 50 percent chance of turning that visitor into a lead or sale. Also, don’t be afraid of upsetting a visitor leaving your website — it’s estimated that 70 to 90 percent of website visitors never return.

Split-test multiple exit offers — exclusive discounts that require an email opt-in and instant coupon codes that offer a discount or additional value like free shipping — perform very well. Even the slightest increase in conversion rates can equal increased revenue for your business.

3. Aggressively grow your email list and reward your subscribers with special offers.

Growing your email list provides your business with several benefits. You are building a marketing asset that allows you to constantly engage with consumers whot have expressed an interest in whatever it is that your business offers. Once you capture an email, there is no additional cost to market to that prospect, aside from your email and CRM software.

If you’re running a pay-per-click campaign, for example, you are paying for every single visitor that clicks through and lands on your website. You could build a highly engaged email list of 10,000 subscribers, and even at a 3 percent click-through rate, a single email would send 300 visitors back to your website.

In order to maintain a responsive list, make sure you are sending out offers that can’t be refused. Exclusive offers, big discounts and giveaway promotions are all click magnets. Split-test multiple delivery times, different templates and layouts — and experiment a lot with your subject lines. I’ve seen open rates shoot through the roof for some campaigns simply when an emoji is included in the subject line. Don’t be afraid to test!

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Pipeline Marketing: A Powerful Tool For Realizing Funnel Potential

Pipeline Marketing: A Powerful Tool For Realizing Funnel Potential

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Pipeline Marketing: A Powerful Tool For Realizing Funnel Potential

Pipeline marketing is a term that many in the marketing industry, even those heavily engaged in digital marketing, are not entirely familiar with.

It may go by other names; math marketing or revenue marketing, for instance, but the idea is the same: using data strategically to critically evaluate the effectiveness of online marketing efforts.

ClosedOpp was a very early adopter of this concept. A small paid search agency founded in 2007 that is breaking new ground in PPC marketing, ClosedOpp has been able to improve lead attribution by integrating all of its clients’ AdWords and Bing data with their CRM records.

The process of pipeline marketing is unique and innovative. ClosedOpp ties paid search data into clients’ Salesforce opportunity and lead records. This provides the ability to track leads from the point they were created, to closure. It also allows marketers to analyze the paths that resulted in the new business wins, to compare paths and to identify best practices to leverage in the future.

Pipeline marketing is a powerful tool to help businesses better understand their customers, how to segment customers into more high-performing groups, and how to identify the sales approaches that achieve the best results. Customer better, how to segment, and how to attribute successful sales approaches.

Rich Norwood, co-founder of ClosedOpp, describes how they developed this approach: “We realized early in 2012 that many digital marketers didn’t trust AdWords conversion data and were looking for a new way to track SEM performance.

We ran countless regressions identifying whether or not there was a correlation between AdWords conversions and Salesforce leads, AdWords conversions and Salesforce opportunities, and AdWords conversions and Salesforce wins. Once we determined there was a low R-squared correlation, we began looking for a better solution for our clients…”

The Power of Pipeline Marketing

The result was the new approach of “pipeline marketing,” which lets businesses focus less on lead gen and more on what they really care about, results. From Bizible’s website: “If your intention is to grow your business, shouldn’t you want to focus on generating customers and revenue, not leads?”

Lead gen, developing new contacts in hopes of increasing sales, has been an important marketing metric for decades. However, as Bizible states, “even as marketing has shifted to digital and analytics systems have been able to capture more complex data and insights, far too many companies are using legacy ways to measure their performance.”

Norwood asks the $64,000 question: “Do the clients care about leads or do they care about opportunities?” It boils down to this: do they want contacts, or do they want customers? Norwood says, “This may throw some people off. However, we’ve… proven that all leads are not created equally, some keywords drive larger opportunities, some keywords convert to opportunity at a much higher conversion rate. This is what Pipeline Marketing and Account-Based Marketing is all about.”

How It Works

The beauty of it all is that pipeline marketing allows marketers to be able to evaluate, in real time, exactly what keywords are driving visitors to their site, where they’re entering and what actions they’re taking. It’s a powerful analysis tool that requires careful consideration up front to realize the full promise of the technique.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Define campaign goals. The first step to embracing this new approach is for businesses to define their campaign goals in detail. And one of the most important goals is, as Norwood explains, to “focus on their sweet spot first. Start with the keywords that are must-targets.”
  2. Determine, specifically, the type of leads you’re looking for and where in the sales funnel you hope to initially engage with these leads. For instance, Norwood asks, “Do [you] want to buy top of funnel leads, leads looking for resources, checklists, and guides? Those leads tend to convert a lot… but [few] convert into opportunity. This can be a great strategy if the company is at scale and already has a successful nurture program. On the other hand, clients may decide it’s best to start with bottom of funnel leads that want a quote and pricing information and to talk with someone from sales.” It’s clear to see that engaging at the bottom of the funnel can yield better, and less expensive to convert, opportunities.
  3. Focus on Cost Per Opportunity. Norwood explains: “Because the opportunity has a high correlation with wins, and pipeline is defined as the total amount for all open opportunities, it makes sense that Cost per Opportunity should be the focus.” Simply put, you’re looking for the best outcome. This should be the main metric you focus on, according to Norwood. What keywords drive the highest ROI? “We need to create pipeline and wins. Period,” he says.
  4. Monitor and measure. Because they are tied in so closely with their clients’ CRM records, ClosedOpp is able to be extremely responsive and nimble, receiving feedback daily about what is and isn’t successful. Shorter timeframes allow quicker course corrections, as well as more rapid expansion of a campaign to leverage big wins.
  5. Adjust, and reap the rewards. Based on the feedback received, marketers are able to adjust their budgets based on real data related to ads, channels, keywords and audiences.

Access to Salesforce records powers the potential of pipeline marketing and provides a unique approach to business development. Norwood says, “[W]e actually measure leads, opportunities, wins, and Average Revenue per Unit (ARPU) daily, in real time. Our access to Salesforce allows us to monitor paid search so that we can see problems before they affect revenue.

We literally have our fingers on the pulse of the company. We often share data with our clients that cause them to pivot their whole strategy or completely redesign their landing pages.”

Pipeline marketing provides the ability to take a very focused, outcome-based approach to campaign analysis Norwood explains: “Our system creates an instant feedback loop between sales and marketing with the simple action of converting a lead to an opportunity and adding the amount to the opportunity.

We see this instantly and take action [often] days before the director of marketing suggests that we do so, because we’re looking at the data in real time and the director of marketing is in meetings.”

The Takeaway

What pipeline marketing boils down to is using your Salesforce records to figure out where your opportunities are coming from. Norwood clarifies: “Traditional PPC companies care about AdWords conversions. We don’t. We care about getting to know what campaigns, ad groups, keywords, landing pages, ads, countries, cities and devices result in opportunities and revenue.” 

Businesses that are able to tie marketing attribution to their CRM can get to market more quickly, spend money more wisely, and out-market their competitors. Pipeline marketing offers a unique competitive advantage, and gives business owners and managers an enormous amount of insight.

When you know where your best customers come from, it makes sense to invest more paid search dollars toward finding them. Pipeline marketing leads the way.

Contributor
Charles R Juarez Jr

3 ways to pump up your online marketing with video

3 ways to pump up your online marketing with video

by James F. McClister 

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In the 1990s, real estate agents posted ads in the newspaper and slapped their faces on the backs of benches. In the 2000s, agents still put ads in papers and spruced up bus stops with their smiles, but began shifting their operations to the Internet – promoting themselves on websites and, later, social media. In the 2010s, ads in papers and on benches still exist, websites are still a staple and social media has exploded, but in the Internet age agents must continue to diversify their marketing strategies. One crucial medium is video.

Every month, YouTube receives more than 1 billion unique visitors. The platform has offered major exposure for real estate businesses around the globe; in fact, the Australian Real Estate Group reported listings that include a video receive more than 400 percent more inquiries than those without.

But the medium is versatile, and as such, requires a strategic approach. Here are a few ideas for agents looking to harness the power of online video in their marketing:

  1. Serialize – A weekly “top listings” list or a monthly dive into market stats (or any other topic your clients will want to return to on a regular basis) is a great way to establish a branded video product that will continuously engage viewers (and potential clients) with compelling content. Keeping potential clients engaged with regular video content will help you stay top of mind for when viewers are ready to buy or sell.

  2. Establish authority – It isn’t fair, but it’s a reality in the lives of agents that their value is often questioned. People forget to ask the question of “what can you do for me” because, in many ways, they feel they already know the answer – which is to say: nothing the Internet can’t already do. Agents know this to not be the case, but someone whose real estate experience is limited to lackluster showings and HGTV series will have a skewed perception of the profession. Video allows agents to look buyers, sellers and hopefuls in the eye and give them a glimpse of the benefits a helpful, professional agent can provide.

  3. Promote your personality – Video is the perfect way for you to show potential clients your personality in action. It answers the question of “what’s this person like” before the initial meeting, giving them a sense of who you are and how you’ll handle their business.

Contributor
Charles R Juarez Jr