At Spot On, we love to share new advances that may benefit our clients. One of the latest technologies we get questions about is Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI will revolutionize how companies do business, and one software developer is making quite a splash with Frase. Frase (pronounced “phrase”) is an Answer Engine Optimization platform that companies can utilize to ensure visitors to their website get their questions answered quickly and accurately.
Artificial Intelligence. AI. We’ve all seen the movies where robotic AI armies rise against humanity, but thankfully those situations are (at present), purely fictional.
AI technology, however, is influencing almost every sector of our economy, from manufacturing to agriculture to healthcare to IT to communications—and of course, marketing. “Marketing?” you might ask. “What is AI marketing?” It’s a question we’ll answer here, but you might also want to take that question one step further by asking, “How can I put AI-powered marketing to work on my behalf?” Spot On can help you with solutions for that as well—read on!
2020 looks like an exciting year for digital marketers! In this article, we’ll take a look at the top trends that we predict will be driving marketing strategy over the next 12 months, from AI to influencers, from “naked emails” to unified identities, and from customer experience to employee engagement.
If you’re investing your marketing budget to drive traffic to your website, you also need to make sure that as many visitors are converting as possible (e.g., turning into leads and/or customers) so you can maximize your ROI.
In particular, with the increasing costs associated with online advertising (e.g., PPC,) you can’t afford to pay for clicks that don’t convert if you want to generate more profits.
To get the most from your marketing efforts, you need to make sure that your landing pages and website are designed to drive conversion. Here’s where conversion rate optimization (CRO) comes in.
Did you know that 47% of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content (e.g., blog posts, infographics, videos) before engaging with sales? Meanwhile, 72% of buyers use Google for research during the awareness stage.
What does that mean for your SaaS business?
If you want to get in front of prospects early on in the purchasing path, capture their attention, build trust, and turn them into customers – you must produce high-quality content and make sure that it can be found in relevant search engine results.
In today's competitive market, B2B companies often invest in marketing so they can stand out from their competition and ultimately generate more sales. To maximize the return on investment (ROI) of your marketing dollars, you need to generate high-quality leads and turn them into customers. However, there are quite a few steps in between investing in a marketing strategy and developing lead generation that truly makes your investment worthwhile.
Healthcare software marketing is tough - so you need to make sure you’re getting the biggest bang for your marketing buck. But calculating the return on investment (or ROI) for marketing is notoriously tricky; in fact, only 37% of managers are confident they can prove the impact of their marketing strategies, at least over the short term. In this article, we’ll look at ways that you can measure marketing results - and how you can maximize your ROI to see measurable improvements across the bottom line.
A product marketing plan for SaaS is pretty different from your standard marketing strategy. Whereas traditional marketing mainly focuses on the acquisition of new leads, SaaS marketers face a more challenging proposition - not only finding leads, but monetizing those leads, and most importantly, hanging onto them.
Listen in as we share a few of our favorite 2019 marketing trends.
The B2B space is one where buyers have a lot of choice. In fact, 60% of B2B companies research 2-3 sites before making a purchasing decision. Software as a Service (SaaS) is a major part of this space, with sales expected to hit $112.8 billion this year. SaaS represents a low cost, agile way for users to access software – and for SaaS companies that means there’s a lot of opportunity, but also a lot of competition.
Marketing for SaaS companies is both challenging and necessary. SaaS is a booming market, as TechRadar reveals that sales are expected to reach over $112.8 billion this year, so it’s vital to position your marketing in such a way that your company stands out from the crowd. It’s also the only way to continue to grow, and that’s vital in the software industry.
Watch this week's Smart Spot to learn how to set up a chatflow in HubSpot.
It’s 2019, and the results are in: if you’re in business, you should be on LinkedIn. With over 500 million users, 40% of whom are logging in daily, LinkedIn can connect you to pretty much anyone. However, while many of us are comfortable using LinkedIn for recruitment, networking, and branding, turning LinkedIn into a lead generation powerhouse takes a bit of strategic thought.
Marketing has changed dramatically in the past 20 years. The internet has continued its explosive growth, mobile web access has become almost universal, and social media has rapidly been integrated into both everyday life and the business world. And for Software as a Service (SaaS) companies, marketing presents an additional layer of challenges.
For marketing success, a solid marketing strategy is a must. Coschedule, for instance, found that:
“Marketers with a documented strategy are 538% more likely to report success than those who don’t.”
Your marketing strategy is the blueprint to help your SaaS business attract leads, convert them to customers, and retain those customers for the long haul.
With more than half a billion users, LinkedIn has become an important promotional resource not just for individual professionals but for entire companies. Its built-in tools can make it easy to zero in on top business prospects, and savvy marketing departments can turn it into a significant competitive advantage. According to Econsultancy, LinkedIn is responsible for 64 percent of the visits to corporate websites that originate on social media.
Marketers have a tendency to position inbound and outbound marketing as an either/or proposition - and these days, inbound marketing is on a winning streak.
To get ahead in the healthcare software industry, you need to stand out from the crowd. While most companies these days are already promoting themselves on LinkedIn or Facebook, to really reach your audience, raise brand awareness, and attract leads for your software, you may need to put in a bit more effort to get results.
In 2018, everyone is talking about video marketing, social media marketing, user experience marketing, even AI marketing. So is blogging on its way out?
The answer is a resounding no. Blogging should be a key component of any solid healthcare SaaS marketing strategy. Here’s why.
Healthcare SaaS is a tough industry - the marketplace is crowded, the competitors have deep pockets, and the sales cycles are painfully slow. For some healthcare SaaS companies, the last thing on their mind is content marketing. Content marketing takes time and patience, and worse, it can be hard to link it to a direct impact on the bottom line. So why should you bother?
Marketing automation is one of the latest industry buzzwords - but what does it really mean for your healthcare software business? In this article, we’ll take a look at the best uses of marketing automation - and what to avoid.
In the increasingly competitive environment of healthcare SaaS, making your brand stand out can be a serious headache. We’ve found that one of the most effective ways to help our healthcare software clients in areas like brand recognition and engagement, is a social media strategy.
Software developed specifically for healthcare is an increasingly crowded market, dominated by heavyweights with huge marketing budgets. In this daunting industry, it can feel impossible to stand out from the rest. But with the right marketing strategy in place, even smaller healthcare software companies can attract their audience.
Patients in 2018 are more empowered than ever before to make healthcare decisions. They conduct extensive research into healthcare providers before making a choice. They recommend providers to one another. They also feel quite comfortable switching providers: in fact, a study by the West Corporation found that 88% of patients would switch healthcare providers if not completely satisfied.
So, how can you stand out from the crowd?
Consumers have developed a new sophistication when it comes to processing marketing messages. They have the ability to fast-forward through commercials and block pop-up ads. Pay-per-click banners are merely minor distractions in their peripheral vision.
With the student population expected to reach 2.7 billion by 2035, schools are thriving and enrollments are at their highest.
One area that’s rapidly developing is the use of technology to deliver educational content. As an EdTech organization, you know the importance of using the latest technology.
Enhancing Your Inbound Marketing for B2B Software
If you’re responsible for marketing at a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) company, you may not realize the potential that the inbound marketing methodology holds for your business. If you treat your inbound and content marketing strategies like a buffet, as tech business startups and developers sometimes do, you won’t get the power of marketing as an integrated process.
Not all myths are dangerous, but believing all the wrong things about marketing personas can keep you from reaching your Inbound potential.
From 360-degree videos to Facebook Live, marketers are responding to audiences' shorter attention spans by making content more interactive and visual -- and the ROI is astounding.
Ever worked with web developers or SEO experts that promise to put you on page one of Google?Hopefully you didn't have to learn the hard way that there are no easy fixes for getting your company found. In fact, trying to improve your SEO using shortcuts and black hat SEO strategies could result in major penalties
from Google and other search engines.
It's easy to come to the conclusion that companies have different tactics for how they do business, manage their teams, and develop strategy based on their size and their revenue. Some companies, like Epic, openly acknowledge that they spend less time on their marketing strategy than others because they achieved "brandeur" and success early on.
Regardless of how successful or big or small your software company is, having a healthcare marketing strategy will take you much farther than having none at all.
Gadget Digital Assistant (named Lucy by her owner): Good morning, Harold. I see you have a free hour between 2:00 and 3:00 pm. How would you like to fill it?
Harold: Hi, Lucy. I think I'll take a walk today, so I won't need your assistance with that. Thanks, anyway.
Did you know your target market's attention span is shorter than that of a goldfish? Research from Microsoft Corporation found the average adult attention span in the year 2000 was 12-seconds, by 2013 it was only 8-seconds. Since goldfish have an attention span of about 9-seconds, they win!
Sometimes you have to enter the mind of a predator in order to gain a clearer understanding of your own vulnerabilities. If you've ever watched shows like "It Takes A Thief" or "To Catch a Predator" you know exactly what I'm getting at. After this week's most recent ransomeware attack headline it's not hard to see how easy it is to think of malware in the abstract.
Ransomware is just one kind of malware that can impact your business and customers. Malware is a blanket term used to refer to any of the several kinds of malicious software that go after your information, your privacy, and your control. If you want to protect yourself and your customers, it's important to know what they are, how they they work, and their differences.
Inbound MarkAles. Inbound SaleKeting.
Hmmmm. It's hard to find the right catch-phrase to unify these two, often separate department titles now that they have so much in common, but there is one. It's smarketing. Sounds kinda smart, doesn't it?
If you haven't already noticed, the sales paradigm is getting quite a shake up. It's theinevitable result of two factors: Google's prevalence and the advent of inbound marketing strategies.
At this stage in the game, companies need to begin thinking in terms of inbound sales, which has turned the legacy sales model upside down and sideways.
Even if you've only gotten a small taste of what inbound marketing has to offer, youprobably have an idea of how vast the world of inbound marketing really is. Businesses can have entire teams devoted to putting all of the moving parts of inbound into a succinct strategy. There’s a lot to consider - from content management and blogging, to analytics and SEO, to community engagement and design, and more still.
The terms inbound sales and inbound marketing often go hand-in-hand. But anyonewho has worked in a company with designated sales and marketing teams knows the two don't always go hand in hand at all. The places where inbound sales and inbound marketing diverge can be a detriment to a company's bottom line if divergences aren't handled or supported effectively.
Inbound marketing is a strategy focussed on bringing customers “in” or attractingthem to your product on the internet instead of purchasing space out there. It does this by offering them the information they need to learn about their problem and make a decision on how to solve it before asking them for anything in return.
Even if you're already pretty savvy with the lingo of inbound, it never hurts to have a little refresher. You may even surprise yourself by learning something new! If you're a newbie, commit these terms to memory and you'll already be ahead of the curve.
Inbound marketing is constantly evolving to meet the needs of consumers and to keep up with the lightning speed of the internet's changing landscape. In order to adapt, more businesses are investing more in inbound marketing than outbound marketing and here’s why...
Imagine your company's annual awards banquet. There are all the key players, spiffied up and anxiously awaiting the Sales Rep MVP award.
Inbound marketing tools are supposed to make business life better. Sometimes, though, competitors' tools are so similar that it's hard to tell which one is truly the best fit for your company. The last thing a small business wants to do is fork out a ton of cash on a system that doesn't yield the expected benefits. Or that sits there, largely underused due to steep learning curves.
Small businesses need every tool and trick they can get their hands on. You're working towards profitability in a highly-competitive world - and much of the time, your team isn't as big as the competition's.
Taking advantage of the best tools for inbound marketers allows small teams to play big - with an ROI to prove it.
Belief systems are powerful. They can empower you to become more successful than you've ever been before, or they can hold you back - unconsciously ensuring you repeat the same, ineffective cycles over and over again.
Feeling a bit dismayed about lagging sales stats? Don't let discouragement get the best of you.
Most likely, the right information isn't getting into the hands of your most qualified leads when they're most likely to spring into action.
Regardless of how much it's touted as "the next great solution," the idea of adopting a new system or way of doing business is almost always a turn off. Let's get real honest here, and admit that we're looking for an easy fix - not something that requires any significant learning curve, training time or instruction manuals.
In that way, we're just like our customers - wary of something new.
Perhaps that standard trend is the reason why so many companies avoid the CRM train. Sure, you want to save time in your sales process - but is paying a bunch of money - and spending a whole lotta energy - learning yet another system really going to do that? And, will that extra time and effort truly translate into a higher profit margin?
How often have you chosen not to try something new due to fear of the learning curve? And yet, so many of the most important skills we acquire in life - walking, running, reading, driving - are the result of our willingness to try something new.
Why, is it then, that we hedge when it comes to implementing new tools that will help us do a better job? And more efficiently too!?
They say many hands make light work, and they often result in better work. This is why modern healthcare marketing should take advantage of partnerships and alliances that facilitate better physician-patient engagement and improve healthcare outcomes.
If you're a salesperson, you want to spend your work time selling. If you're a marketer, you want to spend your time creating the great content and images that bring the right leads to the sales department. Any moments spent in maintenance process - rather than direct selling or marketing process - detract from your success as well as the success of your company.
Historically, marketing emails were created - and sent - from the marketer's perspective. Sure, we valiantly attempted to figure out what our leads wanted to read, but the emails were still created and generated from the perspective of what we wanted to share about our products and services.
Are you on the fence about adopting a CRM system? You're not alone. We've found that most of our small and medium-sized business clients hedged for some time before finally taking the plunge - and that hedging makes sense. While CRM systems are touted for their ability to make sales easier - and more profitable - many business owners are wary.
When their roof leaks, they call a contractor. When the car breaks down, they call their favorite mechanic. In these scenarios there are obvious connections between the customer's immediate problem and a solution. That's not always the case with software marketing.
LinkedIn is a valuable inbound marketing tool for healthcare organizations. While patients and prospects may use the network's profiles to learn more about doctors, specialists and other healthcare providers, it's also a way to get yourself out there, active and engaged with other industry professionals.
What do healthcare marketing and reduced hospital readmissions have in common? Communication.
Inbound software marketing can feel overwhelming. It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet that never quits. There are so many things to keep track of: website design, keywords and phrases, blogging, social media posts, eBooks and whitepapers, offers and the campaigns used to promote them, email marketing, PPC ads... ad nauseam.
Successful software marketing doesn't come cheap. You pay for all kinds of products and services designed to drive business towards your inbound marketing web, including your website design and maintenance, content creation, social media updates, analytics and so on.
"You can't always get what you want."
These seven simple words helped the Rolling Stones sell millions of records and gain worldwide popularity. The phrase became an ear worm in the minds of many. It also revealed a universal truth and life lesson that remains as true today as it was 30 years ago. And with a little bit of tweaking, the words can also guide your software marketing strategy:
Sometimes you're going to have to work hard to understand the "why" behind the "wants."
Software marketing teams frequently—and unintentionally—target the bulk of their content to the bottom of the funnel. Targeting those bottom funnel prospects is easy, right? You get to share all of those everyday facts, stats, acronyms and logistics you celebrate on a regular basis. It's easy to forget that most people don't have a clue about the ins-and-outs of your product.
"The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter—'tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."
These wise words were written by Mark Twain in 1890, but they may be more important than ever today as companies focus on keywords and search engine optimization to drive their inbound marketing strategies.
How do you sell what cannot be seen?
That's the question everyone responsible for SaaS marketing has to answer—and it's not always easy.
Marketing SaaS offers a variety of challenges, not the least of which is its lack of a physical presence. It's always changing. Its moniker is strange. And then there is the fact that most consumers don't even know that a SaaS solution to their problem exists.
Sometimes the very best intentions can totally flatline, killing conversion rates and ROI faster than you can say "CPR, STAT!"
Your SaaS marketing team might have fantastic ideas, but if they aren't part of an integrated, multi-faceted inbound approach - they won't get you anywhere, which leads to regrettable wastes of time and money - and an inevitable slowing of the lead-conversion pulse.
Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns are scary, especially when you consider the average small business owner pays between $9,000 and $10,000 per month for PPC ads.
Take a deep breath and pause for a moment while you soak that in.
That's about $100,000+ per year spent on ads that may or may not work. If they don't, it's $100K in software marketing funds you may as well have used to take your entire team on a Caribbean cruise.
One of the most magical things about Claude Monet's works is that the closer you get, the less the paintings make sense. His painting technique was like the ultimate pre-cursor to pixels—using a series of short, splotch-like brush strokes that work together to comprise a completely coherent, integrated, and stunning picture.
When it comes to building an audience for your inbound marketing campaign, it's all about audacity.
You've got to be bold. You've got to use best practices. And whatever you do, you must fight the temptation to take the easy way out—even if thousands of email contacts are only a credit card swipe away. Yes, it can be incredibly tempting to buy an email list to support your software marketing efforts. But it's always a bad idea.
When it comes to email marketing, your efforts are only as good as your email list.
Sure, you can take the easy way out and buy or rent yourself a list. But that's a surefire way to put your IP address in the crosshairs of anti-spam crusaders. The truth is, successfully integrating an email campaign into your comprehensive inbound marketing strategy doesn't typically come to those who take the easy route. No, successful software marketing email campaigns come to those who build their email lists organically, methodically, and over time.
Done well, a software marketing campaign leads hundreds of visitors directly to landing pages. What happens there, however, makes or breaks the ROI. Even the best inbound marketing strategies can fall completely flat if landing pages aren't carefully crafted to drive action.
We get it! You want The Sale! Who doesn't?
Software marketer beware: That wanting of the sale now-now-now can be the bane of an otherwise awesome inbound marketing strategy.
You know your prospects with precision. You've identified them, found them on LinkedIn, and populated a database with their information.
You know your company's value proposition inside and out. You've crafted authentic, personalized messages for your prospects that will inform and educate them, make their lives easier, and drive them to your website.
Behold the customer: elusive, fickle, and critical to your company's success.
Without customers, businesses cease to exist. Just ask Compaq, RCA, Enron, E.F. Hutton, and Pets.com. Even with good products, robust marketing budgets, and a lot of love from Wall Street, they all failed to build, grow, and galvanize their customer bases.
Some of their brands went stale. Some were offering the right products and services at the wrong time. Others simply didn't have the ability to entice customers to do business with them.
Remember the newsletter? Printed and mailed on a monthly basis. Then bimonthly. Now quarterly. It's filled with useful information – clinic hours, new hires, and maybe a feature story about a new service. And then there's the canned content that you were forced to purchase because you simply didn't have enough time to pull together enough content to fill last quarter's newsletter... which serves as a reminder that the next one is right around the corner, so you'd better get busy.
If you only think about your healthcare newsletter once a quarter (and always at the last minute), your audience is probably thinking about it even less often.
This begs the question: When it comes to healthcare marketing, is your healthcare newsletter even worth all the effort?
In the world of software marketing, nothing matters more than your customers. Without them, you've got no subscription revenue, no recurring sources of income, and no business. So you'd better do everything you can to align your SaaS services with what your customers are seeking.
When you achieve SaaS customer alignment, you reap the rewards, which include recurring revenue growth, low acquisition costs, and reduced churn rates.
Methodical inbound marketing is the foundation of successful medical practice marketing. It takes a trickle of website visits and turns them into a stream of qualified leads. Professional referral marketing, however, is the wellspring to tap if you want to unleash the Niagara Falls of new patients and clients.
Ask most business owners about designing a new website and odds are you'll see a visible shudder pass from head to toe. Why? Because traditional website redesigns typically require significant costs up-front, a ton of time and energy on the part of business owners and key personnel, and they notoriously run over-budget. Also, there's no guarantee they'll work.
The idea of creating marketing personas sounds great, but the process itself can be pretty time consuming. It requires digging into the nitty-gritty details about the clients you have now as well as the types of clients you hope to gain in the future. The complexity of that task is daunting and can cause healthcare marketing teams to wonder if taking the time and energy to create detailed personas is really that necessary.
You have big goals for your healthcare marketing campaign. From engagement to personalization, you’re setting your sights high, and the sky’s the limit. A set of high-reaching goals is the ideal place to begin a successful healthcare marketing campaign.
Creating a new website is a bit like an obstacle course. It has its challenges along the way, but the journey can be a blast if done correctly.
Launching a website, whether it’s brand spanking new or a redesign, is a serious undertaking. In fact, organizations are prone to putting off website launches because of the sheer amount of preparation they require.
But perhaps we’re going about website design and redesign the wrong way. There’s a tendency in traditional web design to look at the process as a long-term, but ultimately finite task. This finite nature means that, at some point (and likely sooner than we’d like), the website will become stale and need an overhaul... and then you're back to square one.
Ah, urban legends. Even if you were the bravest kid on the block, chances are, the thought of the Boogey Monster under your bed still gave you the creeps.
Urban legends stick around because they spark something in us – a bit of mystery and intrigue, if you will. Most of them come from a grain of truth snowballing into something unforgettable and bone-chilling.
"Medical practice marketers"... the phrase itself sounds like a bit of an oxymoron, doesn't it?
The type of person who pursues marketing as a profession is typically creative – a "big picture" thinker, a "words" person, or what we often talk about as being "right-brained." Typically, science and math weren't their favorite subjects in school.
Then there are the doctors and physicians – the "subject experts." These medical practice pros are typically thought of as logical, linear, math-and-science-types. They think more on the micro-level and are decidedly left-brained. In other words, the strengths and talents of the former are not necessarily shared by the latter, and vice versa.
This post is a submission for Website Design in the HubSpot Impact Awards.
Introducing Alden Systems
In 2013, we began working with one of our first inbound marketing clients, Alden Systems, Inc. Alden offers five different asset management softwares, and an array of consulting, business analysis, inventory, and inspection services to the utilities and telecommunications industries. Alden determines the best combination of software and services for each prospect based on their industry, division and specific pain points.
Delighted. Fascinated. Engaged.
Customers today are expecting to feel all of the emotions above and more. It’s no longer enough to just meet a customer’s needs and go on your merry way. To foster loyalty, you need to make them feel incredibly special to your brand.
With so much SaaS marketing material out there to compete with, it can be difficult to make your voice heard. To better your odds from your content creation efforts, strive to create evergreen content.
As a result, SaaS businesses have their own unique challenges to consider when developing a marketing plan. Customers are often savvy buyers who can be fanatical promoters with the right SaaS marketing approach. So, how could the nature of this customer base be best leveraged to create an engaged community of users? It’s clear a one-size-fits-all approach is not the answer. Instead, you need a marketing strategy that works well with the essential qualities of SaaS while offering room for personalizing your message.
For any business to survive, it needs to maintain a consistent stream of customers... new customers... repeat customers... delighted customers!
But since every other business in your industry is also striving to attract the same attention as you, what will it take to set your business apart? What weapon is in your arsenal that will help you win the battle for these potential customers?
It is often said that a picture is worth 1,000 words. If that is the case, then a video is worth at least 2,000. Videos are so much more engaging and interactive than pictures and text. With modern technology, embedding videos directly into a website, blog or social media account is extremely easy and even a little bit of fun. The key is creating unique video content that is different from the rest.
Just as a vehicle requires a trip to the mechanic for periodic maintenance and up-keep, your social media’s inbound strategy needs to be given a regular once-over. Consider your social media to be the vehicle that transports you and your customers to common ground... not only does the "vehicle" need to be sparkling clean on the outside, but it also needs to have strong horsepower rumbling under the hood.
You have a website up and running, and you are now launching your first blog. Congratulations! A website with a quality blog is an enormous strategic advantage when used properly. The internet has become the most common first-effort search for people looking for insider views, tips, and tutorials for their personal and professional pain points, and search engines are constantly on the lookout for relevant resources that can provide solutions.
There are a number of ways sharpen your blog’s competitive inbound marketing edge when it comes to attracting these visitors to your site:
Let’s face it – as marketers we are always looking for ways to improve, or sometimes just prove, ROI. Using marketing automation software gives us the leg up and increases our chances for success. In fact, those who use marketing automation software are more likely to see a higher ROI than those who don't according to the 2015 State of Inbound report.
We all know modern day customers tune out of traditional outbound advertising and, instead, tune right into their web-enabled devices to read, share, and enjoy online content. More than just reading, people want to interact with brands and tout their favorite merchants to their friends on the world wide web. They no longer want to have advertisements interrupting their day only to shout messages at them from the TV, radio, or billboards.
Have you ever considered how similar your website's SEO is to playing a game of "Marco Polo" with your customers?
Marco Polo is like a game of hide and seek, with one blindfolded person (the Seeker) calling out "Marco!" and the other players (the Hiders) scattered around the Seeker, all calling back "Polo!" at the same time. The Seeker then listens for the closest responding voices, giving those children his or her closest attention, and then continues calling out "Marco!" using the "Polo!" callbacks as a sort of sonar, moving closer and closer until he or she gets close enough to tag the nearest hiding player.
The South is known for its hospitality. Whether it’s an outdoor picnic of fried chicken and potato salad or a peaceful Sunday afternoon on the front porch with a glass of sweet tea, Southerners exude a welcoming attitude that says, "Come sit with me, let’s chat."
The heart of inbound marketing is not that different!
There's a natural rhythm to any long-term romance. The first call-back (eeek!), the continuous acknowledgement of undeniable chemistry (scha-wing!), and then there's the introductions to friends and family (I hope they like me!). By the time you've reached this last step, it's a good sign the two of you are in it for the "long haul."
In addition to being absolutely beautiful, butterflies are also critical pollinators. They spread pollen from plant to plant, and the result of all that flitting about is the production of seeds. Those seeds form into fruit, which exponentially creates more seeds from which new plants grow.
If you think about it, this process isn't all that different from the way an inbound marketing strategy works!
I once saw a grandfather clock that dates back to the early 1700s. While the clock's age was certainly a remarkable feature, its 300-year legacy would mean nothing if the timepiece was no longer functioning or if the clock's face was broken or marred. Similarly, our families have inherited multi-generation antiques that have been repaired or repainted and then stripped back down to the original wood - always keeping the authenticity and integrity of the pieces intact - so that we could refinish them again.
If you're finding it difficult to make your business known in the ever-growing online environment, it might be time for you to learn a little more about inbound marketing. This strategy for marketing has subtlety and helpfulness at its heart and will require a shift in your expectations. Since it is a unique formula for every business, having it deliver measurable results takes a little trial and error at first in order to establish a firm foundation.
Paid ads and inbound marketing together? Say it ain’t so Joe!
For years we’ve talked about how you should focus on drawing traffic to your site through relevant content. Build it and they will come. Provide relevant content that resonates with your target audience and they will love you for it. But what if you want to jumpstart your inbound lead generation efforts through paid ads? Promote it and they will come... faster.
A constantly growing website and an integrated social media presence are both critical components for generating virtual smoke signals that e-searchers can find in the jungle of online options for solutions to their business's problems. A business's online presence must be multifaceted, and a single page website simply will not do in today's overcrowded online space. The incorporation of social media in conjunction with a solid website increases the extent of your reach, and strengthens your inbound marketing impact.
Modern day search engine optimization, commonly referred to as "SEO," is no longer the same as it used to be. SEO makes up a big component of inbound marketing in the digital age. Rather than take out expensive advertising space on billboards, TV channels, magazines and other conventional forms of media, inbound marketing focuses on improving search engine hits, emphasizing social media content, and building a solid e-mail marketing campaign and an information website/blog. Today's SEO, when part of inbound strategy, is highly focused on attracting marketing qualified leads with higher odds of converting to customers by shaping web content to marketing personas. This is creates a more personal experience for site visitors than simply aiming at a target niche, and the high level use of marketing demographics to shape the content. SEO today is being mandated to deliver the highest quality user experience zeroing in on being helpful to those who have a genuine need or desire for the company's products.
As marketers, we have to make decisions about how to accomplish several things in one campaign:
- Give the best user experience
- Delivering the right message in the right context
- Meet marketing and sales goals
With HubSpot, we have a lot of tools at our fingertips to accomplish all of these; smart content is the biggest tool in the marketer’s toolbox.
Why use it?
Smart content allows you to personalize the user experience far beyond just a simple personalization token (“Hi Joe!”) in an email or on a landing page. It can be built around country, device type (desktop, tablet, smart phone), referral source, or a specific list membership or lifecycle stage. This flexibility allows you, for example, to deliver a different experience to a prospect than you would a customer.
Email marketing is a fantastic way to reach prospective customers. However, just like any other means of advertising, it has its own nuanced challenges. Below we take a look at some of the most common email marketing obstacles and explain what can be done to overcome them.
Every time your website visitors stay on a page for longer than 15 seconds, click-through one hyperlinks, or (hot-diggetty-dog!) tap on a CTA, they're voting for you. They're saying, "I liked this and I want more." Each time they bounce off a page quickly, have zero click-throughs, or fail to follow up on a CTA tap, they're saying, "Um, no thanks. I'm not finding what I want here."
Do you have a regular business you frequent in your hometown? Perhaps it's a restaurant where the waitress knew your parents and now asks about your kids. Maybe it's a bakery or coffee shop where the person behind the counter has your favorite pastry or coffee drink on the countertop when you arrive at the register. These gestures are thoughtful and meaningful ways to say, "I see you, I know you, and I want to honor our relationship." Healthcare marketing requires that same level of attention to personal detail and, when you succeed, it will always give you the competitive edge.
How many times do you check your Inbox, see a newsletter you've subscribed to and delete it before you ever take a peek? Right. So, you know exactly what you don't want email subscribers to do when they see your software marketing emails in their inbox.
When it comes right down to it, the goal of SaaS marketing is the same as any other business marketing... leads. Your marketing team needs high-quality, sales-qualified leads to pass along to the sales team. However, as a SaaS company you do have a few unique oppotunities for marketing in addition to the standard methods.
In many ways SaaS marketing creates its own unique set of challenges that other B2B companies don't face. Debating whether or not to give your product away as a free trial to get someone to buy is not a decision you have to make if you're a commercial engineering firm or a large accounting firm. Marketing your SaaS product means you need to have a clear vision of your product and the need it fills as well as the type of sales model it falls under (self-service, transactional, or enterprise).
A few years ago when HubSpot rolled out the HubSpot Academy certifications, we recommended that one of our new clients go through the Inbound Marketing courses. Interestingly enough, the client came back to us and said that he found it so valuable that we should require everyone for whom we provide inbound marketing services to go through the certification process.
When you decided to add inbound marketing to your marketing mix, how did you determine what you would do first? Did you make a plan before you started, or did you just start checking off the boxes: blogging, social media, emailing, etc? It is really easy to become engrossed in the activities rather than making a plan first.
Have you ever stopped to consider that there are marketing activities you are doing right now that may be counterproductive to your goal of getting more leads for your sales team? Think that's not even a possibility?
For companies offering SaaS solutions, the mission is to make the complex simple.
Harnessing a variety of elements in different formats and places, you create cohesive hosted software solutions that your customers can depend on to simplify tasks and bring efficiency where it is missing without these solutions.
It is safe to say that the way you generate sales leads today is not the same way you did 20, or even 10, years ago. At least it shouldn’t be the same.
Why? The customer you once courted via “outbound” or interruption marketing – direct mail, broadcast, outdoor boards, Yellow Pages and cold calls – no longer is quick to respond to these fading media.
Social media is big. How big, exactly? As of January 2014, almost three out of every four Americans on the Internet use social networking sites. In the healthcare world, social media networks are especially important. Over 40% of consumers report that information they find on social media networks will have an impact on the way that they address their health.
Personalized web content. No doubt you’ve experienced it. Most likely when you visit Amazon for the umpteenth time to purchase something on your Prime account. For instance, during my visit I might see what I previously searched for, in addition to suggestions for outdoor fitness products, bird toys, and dog treats. All of this is based on activity from my previous visits. In addition, I see suggestions for things I’ve never purchased but are based on my gender and, I’m sure, based on what they have inferred from items that I’ve searched for or previously purchased. The big question is - HOW do they do that? The bigger question is - How can YOU do it for visitors to your site?
If your website is built on the HubSpot CMS, you have the ability to do this type of personalized content right now. But, hold on… Don’t just rush out and start adding personalization to your web pages. If you don’t do it correctly it will have the opposite effect of the inbound marketing best practice of delighting website visitors and instead drive them away. There are steps that need to be taken before your website delivers the message “Hello Rebecca” on your homepage to welcome me when I visit.
As a HubSpot Certified Gold Partner Agency, this is the week we look forward to every year - INBOUND in Boston. This year's conference was especially thrilling for us however as the winner of HubSpot COS Design Award for website design. Selection was based on having the highest score for COS designed websites based on three qualities: Creativity/Design, Content, User Experience.
It's no secret that I spend the majority of my waking hours with dogs - five of them to be exact. They help me out during the day by keeping me company while I work. They make sure I don't sit at my desk too long and remind me that "playtime" is just as important as “work time”. Occasionally, their antics actually inspire an article or two.
Below are five content marketing lessons that I've learned from them.
Let’s face it: being found in organic search is the Holy Grail of online marketing. Everything we do on our websites is to assist in that effort. But are you making mistakes that are affecting your results, or worse, actually penalizing your site?
Perform a quick self-check and make sure that your company isn’t making one of these eight SEO mistakes. These tips apply to all of the pages on your site including landing pages and blog pages.
Years ago, I don't want to say how many but it is more than quite a few, I worked in the newspaper business as an advertising account executive.
Recently, in my quest to remain fit, I ordered a little gadget to help monitor my progress. I love analytics so much that we joked that I had to have them in every part of my life. After I placed the order, I anxiously awaited the arrival of my new toy.
It arrived on a Monday around lunch time. I opened the package, noted that the monitor had to be charged first and set up my account online. Once it was charged, I put it in the wristband and wore it all day while it monitored my activity. Since it also records sleep patterns, I wore the wristband to bed.
Much to my disappointment the next morning when I checked my account online, it showed that the device had stopped working around 10:37PM the night before. So I did some trouble shooting, reset the device and tried again. No luck.
As marketers we are often taken in by the marketing campaigns of products that we are interested in. Maybe you could say that being in this line of work makes us easier to be marketed to…or maybe we just love the thought of unlimited power and marketing automation domination.
If you’re evaluating marketing automation software, Marketo may be one that comes to the top of your list. It definitely looks good on paper. In their words, “Easy. Powerful. Complete.” They certainly have a lot of the features that we look for as marketers:
- Integration with Salesforce CRM
- Revenue analytics from multiple sources
- Sophisticated email marketing automation
Like us on Facebook! If you’ve visited any company or organization’s website or blog in the past couple of years, you’ve seen that plea.
Every business wants to be liked on Facebook – for now, at least – because adults have overtaken teens and college students as the social giant’s biggest audience. There’s a lot of potential revenue tied to getting your social pages seen, liked and shared.
Business-to-business marketing (b2b marketing) online takes place in a different environment than business-to-consumer. It’s a slower, more deliberate process. And with B2B, so much hinges on credibility and relationships – which take time to build but are necessary to move forward in the sales funnel and are crucial for qualified lead generation. To build these kinds of relationships you must identify and speak directly to the people who decide whether or not to purchase your product or service. These are called marketing personas and they are much more involved than general marketing demographics.
Business to business marketing techniques are more important than ever in today’s sluggish economy when companies are looking to succeed and thrive so that they can make sure that they keep the doors open and maintain a steady flow of revenue. The Internet is one of the most crucial areas for business to business (B2B) marketing so that companies can bring in customers, but it is important to understand the unique challenges of on the web and how to approach this task.
In April 2014 we had the pleasure of spending two days in Boston at the HubSpot office for the very first "Hubspot Agency Partner Days". In addition to hearing directly from Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah and other HubSpot execs on the future of HubSpot and inbound marketing, we were able to compare notes with our fellow certified Gold and Platinum agency partners. What an exhilarating experience!
Someone once said, “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” I’m certain that everyone has heard that at least once in their lifetime – probably from a parent, close friend or someone else that had their best interests at heart. In fact, I would even bet that you have probably given that same counsel to someone.
You know what I mean. It’s the “no-need-for-exercise diet pill”, or the “no-need-for-sleep energy drink”, or maybe even the “first-page-of-Google guarantee”. (By the way, there isn't really a “first page” of Google for a keyword these days. Each person can get a personalized bucket of results unique to them)
The truth is – there are no “magic beans”.
Or "magic pills" or “easy buttons”. Everything in life from which you expect to get real results requires work – hard work - and time. From the athlete who wants to compete in the Olympics to the business owner who wants to build a successful business, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an investment and it requires long-term strategy. We all know it. Yet, everyone wants a shortcut.
Your healthcare marketing is in a state of transition – from yesterday’s “outbound” methods (direct mail, display ads, Yellow Pages) to today’s inbound marketing strategies designed to align with the web-surfing habits of your current and prospective patients.
At the heart of inbound marketing is content: those blogs, white papers, videos and articles that attract attention and build credibility. Producing that great content (and avoiding the pitfalls) is a process that demands attention and detail. But that same content is now what people expect, and search for, online.
First things first
There are many things said about online healthcare marketing, but one thing no one has ever called it is easy. Modern healthcare professionals are focused on inbound marketing, which differs from traditional outbound techniques often employed by marketers in the past. Many medical offices encounter a variety of challenges, both when they begin establishing online marketing campaigns and when they go to tweak or change them. Here are three of the most common issues encountered by healthcare professionals as they make efforts to establish and maintain a successful inbound healthcare marketing campaign through the web.
Creating Marketing Content With Poor Or Insufficient Strategy
It is true that content is key for successful healthcare marketing, but it is important that you put some thought behind the content that you place on your web site. A common mistake made by many healthcare marketers today is placing the emphasis on taking something from customers: traditional outbound marketing like television advertisements or cold calling requires patients to give something, whether it is their time or money.
With inbound healthcare marketing, your focus should be on giving something to your target audience. You need to find out what your prospective patients care about and try to provide resources that address their needs before you ask for something in return from them. Blogs, social media updates, and email newsletters are all appropriate channels on which to provide this information.
If you've been slow to incorporate Facebook into your healthcare advertising plan, you're not alone. Just as the healthcare industry has been slow to embrace digital content marketing in general, medical marketing professionals have lagged behind in the trend toward social media marketing. However, if you're following the crowd in this arena, you're missing an important opportunity to reach prospective patients.
For years, one of the premier names in SEO services was known as SEOmoz. Today? Just call ‘em Moz.
This company had a raft of reasons for the rebranding – everything from the hard pronunciation of “SEO” to the launch of Moz Analytics for single-platform inbound services – but their rationale basically came down to this: everything we thought we knew about inbound is evolving.
The first step is realizing there is a problem. I can't tell you how often we hear it when we prepare to launch an inbound marketing effort for one of our customers. "Well, everyone can use our products" or every business etc.
Everyone or lots of someones can use your product but do you really need ALL of them to make the purchase in order to be successful? Not usually, and it would be unrealistic (although really fun to dream about) to expect everyone to buy from you. More often there is a specific range of new customers needed to justify staying in business.
If you're trying to stay competitive these days and have come to the realization that your online presence isn't...well, present. Part of the reason could be the sweeping changes that have come about in the world of online search. Specifically, gradual changes Google has been implementing a little at a time toward some major announcements throughout 2013.
If the first image that comes to mind when you hear “Internet user” is someone sitting at a desk, moving a mouse around and staring at a 17-inch monitor, then your imagination is due for a reboot. Today’s users – from casual shoppers to healthcare patients – are just as likely to be tapping as they are clicking.
When the time comes to consider a web design agency to put you on the track toward inbound marketing success, it’s easy to be swayed by a vast array of digital flash, bells and whistles. But the agency best for you is not necessarily the one scattering around the most pixels. Instead, choose a design consultant based on knowledge of how qualified lead generation works – and how it can work for you.
The latest innovation for marketers from HubSpot? A content optimization system not just a content management system. What's the difference? Typically, content management systems focus on the content not the person who is consuming it. In other words, regardless of whether someone is a first-time visitor or a long-time customer, they have the same experience when they visit your company's website.
Is Facebook part of your inbound marketing strategy?
The Internet has changed the way people buy. Blog articles, for instance, help buyers make well-informed purchasing decisions. Unlike traditional advertising, these type of content are more educational than commercial. They are so effective that more and more business owners are starting to publish blogs for potential and existing customers. What makes them effective, however, is the inbound marketing strategy that perfectly fits into the business plan.
From its beginning, inbound marketing strategy has focused on the difference between chasing a lead at random and letting a qualified lead find you.
Frugal business owners often quiz us about essential and non-essential services, and whether to invest heavily in graphic design services, professional web design or optimization. In a nutshell, you’re definitely going to need all of the above and more, yet when starting out there are ways to build a business on less.
Building a Business on a Shoestring
Many businesses with a modest budget find success. The shocking truth is business owners are outsourcing the key aspects of essential services, while performing smaller tasks themselves. Many free online tools have made it much easier for business owners to embrace the DIY route. Of course, there’s always trial and error, but in the end, you achieve your goals with a few adjustments.
The biggest question is where to allocate your funds? If you’re proficient in Photoshop, then it’s a no-brainer, yet most of us haven’t a clue how to customize graphics for greater online presence. On the other hand, any novice can handle basic inbound marketing techniques.
Rule of Thumb: an attractive website has a better chance of captivating an audience. Websites that display a lack of design will likely experience very few return visits.
It’s not difficult to see why mobile marketing is beginning to blend so well with qualified lead generation. Our mobile devices have become so embedded in our daily life that daily marketing seems to escape the consciousness. Mobile advertising has become a reality, and experts speculate this form of advertising will outpace mainstream promotions.
Since 2008, consumer behavior has rapidly shifted, embracing the new digital revolution. 88% of adults in the US have a cell phone, which has become the dominant communication tool in the United States.
Oftentimes, the biggest hurdle to garnering your share of online attention is properly utilizing the dynamics of site optimization.How to get found online is a common frustration of most business owners. You have the website, you’ve identified your target audience, and you’ve force-fed all the clever methods of crafting your online pitch, yet they still won’t come.
If you’ve built a website for your business, invested in a top-notch web design agency, created strong calls to action and provided interesting content, but you’re not getting a positive return on your investment because prospective customers just aren’t visiting your site, you’re not alone.
86% of B2C marketers report using content marketing, and content marketing expenditures are expected to top $118 billion in 2013—with good reason. 70% of consumers say content marketing makes them feel closer to the company providing the content, and 60% say they feel more positive about a company after reading custom content on its website.
A well-crafted landing page design can generate traffic on its own, but add in the newest cultural trends, such as social media and blogging, better known as Web 2.0, and you’ll strike gold. Of course, simply throwing up a blog and signing up for Facebook won’t guarantee customer acquisition and retention, but a mix of simple strategies will undeniably generate results.
Why the Need to Socialize
How would you like a first-hand account of everything that goes on within a business? Perhaps measure how customers feel about your handiwork? Or simply test the market tonight with bits of information and analyze the outcome tomorrow? This is the type of real-time power social networking offers.
Like it or not there has been a monumental shift in power and the online consumer is in full control. One angry customer will spread the word to 100 other people about their experiences – good and bad. And with the use of social media, like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, overnight, those 100 people can multiply to 100,000. Just think of the possibilities - wouldn’t you like the opportunity to influence, prompt and persuade prospective clients to embrace your business? Combine a great landing page design with social media and blogging and watch the sudden impact.
Social Media websites are like attending an on-going networking event, a trade show or maybe a debate. While various conversations are erupting at the speed of light, businesses are broken down or praised. Either way, you have an opportunity to motivate the crowd.
Certainly, you don’t need to be told that knowing your customer is the first, and most important, step of the marketing process. That’s been the cardinal rule since advertising’s Ice Age. But getting to know the customer in a digital age… that’s where the rules are evolving, and it’s where inbound marketing can help.
Eyes on the target
Today’s online marketplace uses the word “target” a lot, and if you imagine a target, you appreciate how small that bull’s-eye seems. And you’re not the only one looking at it. Countless competitors from both near and far firing their arrows at the same target, so taking careful aim is of the essence.
The basis of inbound marketing is getting that target customer to discover and appreciate the great content – blogs, videos, white papers and more – that ultimately leads them to your landing page, where they may offer their contact information. But you have to make the first move.
“Hi there! Glad to meet you! And now that we’ve just met, will you buy something from me?”
Just as you (presumably) wouldn’t hand over money to a stranger, you cannot expect visitors coming to your website from your inbound marketing efforts, who know you only from some blog posts or Twitter feeds, to make that dramatic leap right to the end of the sales funnel. Not yet.
The vital middle area of the funnel involves landing page design. The function, message and design of landing pages contribute to lead generation in a way your homepage just cannot match. (In other words, you don't want to be cited by Marketing Sherpa’s Landing Page Handbook as among the 44 percent of clicks for B2B companies that bypass a landing page for the less useful homepage.)
No matter how large the company or whether its B2C or B2B, at its foundation every business is a local business. This is especially true in areas like healthcare services, where people come for hands-on help.
The “stay tuned” and “coming soon” messages began hitting the Internet marketing sites in spring 2013 – a new generation of Google’s spam-stalking Penguin algorithm was about to be introduced, and with it some other updates to the search engine giant that can take your marketing forward and help you work better with your SEO agency with your keyword ranking efforts.
The take-away from all the hype was that the new iterations would have an impact on search engine optimization (SEO) by further rewarding high-quality sites and downgrading those that engage in less-than-ethical tactics.
When it comes to getting found online – by Google, Bing and the people who use them – you have, essentially, one shot. If your site isn’t up there on page 1 for all to see, it’s a given that nobody’s going to look on page 2 or beyond.
You’ve heard about SEO and keyword ranking – and their importance to your overall marketing strategy – but if you’re still on the fence about inbound marketing, it may be because of a still- nagging question: how long until I see ROI?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a tool that has revolutionized on-line marketing and sales for the last decade, increasing the growth of companies and corporate entities through e-commerce, engaging on-line communities in the accessibility of viable markets for products and services.
Working in conjunction with your inbound marketing content, your website has a job to do – it has to attract, engage, inform and, most importantly, drive action. And while you can’t tell a book by its cover, many would-be clients get a key impression of your business through your website. That’s where graphic design services come into play.
Nobody likes a homely homepage, of course, but good graphic design isn’t just about making everything pretty. The creative services company you choose has to work as an integral part of your team to develop and nurture branding, foster online presence and contribute to SEO results.
Managing a business can be challenging at times, especially when it comes to marketing. Any business owner knows that you need a decent marketing strategy that will not only reach your target audience, but also provides value to them. When it comes to marketing, design services are crucial; business owners in the healthcare industry can especially appreciate the value of a well-designed marketing campaign as they need to be sensitive toward their customers' needs while also ensuring that they are gaining returning customers in the process.
Nowadays, technology has already spread throughout every aspect of our lives. To stay ahead of your competition, you are forced to utilize the best of the best strategies and a lot of meticulous planning. There are a wide variety of internet marketing strategies that were developed with an aim to help small business stay on the track of progress. One of the best and most useful being search engine optimization (SEO); with its help you can directly connect to your customers all over the globe.
Back in the day – maybe five or ten years ago – SEO mainly consisted of loading a website full of keywords and hoping they stuck with the Google search engine.
But just as you can’t get along with just a website today, you can’t depend only on a search engine to get SEO results. “A lot of website owners see search engine optimization as the answer to their search ranking woes, when things are considerably more complex,” notes Paul Boag in Smashing Magazine.
When you enter search terms into your browser, Google spits back a page that contains high-ranking results tied to the SEO keywords. The first thing you’ll notice is that at the top of the page, some results are housed in an orange box, and others are in another box running down the right margin.
These are paid ads – pay per click (PPC) ads, to be exact – and they serve as an alternative to the “organic” (non-paid) results that populate the rest of the page.
If the word “blast” always accompanies “email” in your digital marketing strategy, maybe it’s time to get a new strategy. It is time for targeted email marketing and lead nurturing.
Someone out there is looking for you – how easy are you to find?
The typical web user begins and ends his search with the first page of Google results (and, to a much lesser extent, the second page). And so the keyword ranking obsession begins.
Before you can get sales, you have to get leads. Before you can get leads, you have to get traffic. Before you can get traffic, you have to get found on the Internet.
Once upon a time, a newspaper display ad represented the typical successful marketing tactic. No matter what the product or service, the ad basically said, “Hey, everybody! Look at the good stuff we offer!”
Having good stuff to offer; that never gets old. But the “Hey, everybody!” part; it's just not going to work in the digital marketplace.
Whether your business is B2C or B2B ... no matter how many years you relied on radio, coupon books, Yellow Pages, cold calls, fliers and newspaper ads … when you’re talking about today’s marketing, you're talking about digital (or internet) marketing.
Consumer behavior bears this out: according to the marketing authority HubSpot, 50 percent of shoppers spend 75 percent of their time online before ever making a purchase.
In a perfect world, none of us would have to cold call, attend networking events, work a booth at trade show - none of that - our ideal customers would simply email or call us when they are ready to buy, right? Is this utopia even possible? Yes! Well, at least to some extent. (Sorry - you'll probably still have to attend networking events.)
In every business in every city around the globe, CEOs, CFOs, directors, managers, sales people (and possibly YOU) are responsible for setting a sales and revenue goal for the next year, quarter or month. It happens on a daily basis. (We do it here too, for ourselves as well as our clients.)
If you're currently planning a website redesign, website assets such as content, inbound links, keyword rankings, and conversion tools are critical to a strong web presence. Redesigning to further capitalize on these assets is the best (and only) reason to think of changing your current site.