Inbound Marketing Overview

Traditional marketing has been centered around companies taking action to initiate a conversation, meaning companies are focused on finding customers. This is done by sending out a message to an audience through TV commercials, print ads, and cold calling. This form of marketing is called outbound marketing and it is starting to lose its effectiveness. We now have technologies like spam filtering, caller id, Tivo, and other measures to block out these outbound marketing techniques. It is also costly to create outbound marketing messages and difficult to track how successful or unsuccessful the campaign was.

We live in a world where things change everyday. Even the way we market has changed immensely. We have turned away from our traditional forms of marketing and have adapted something different called inbound marketing. This new form of marketing is centered around being found by customers. Companies that participate in inbound marketing take the stress of hoping the money they spent on expensive ads will somehow attract some new customers. Companies using inbound marketing utilize techniques such as writing a blog, creating a YouTube video, and constructing a presence via social media to draw customers in.

Inbound marketing is an efficient way to attract customers. It is less costly than outbound marketing, especially since many social media outlets are free to use. It also allows for more accurate targeting. Instead of sending a message to a large amount of people, inbound marketing allows messages to be formed specifically to certain people that you want to hear the message. The secret to a valuable inbound marketing campaign is through content and communication. If a company focuses on useful and confident content, people will find it and like it. Communication is also key to creating a conversation with potential customers because it could turn into a beneficial business relationship.

Blogging for Your Business

I never really knew or understood what the purpose of a blog was until I started writing blog entries. I used to think blogs were just for individuals who wrote about their lives, sort of like an online journal. But little did I know that businesses also use blogs to try to increase traffic and search rankings. Business blogs produce a wealth of information about a variety of topics. They are one of the key ingredients to a successful internet marketing plan.

Business blogs are a form of social media that is a communication mechanism used to create and build relationships. Content is key when initiating a blog for your business. Online users are eager to dive into information that is meaningful and engaging. Blogging also allows a business to have a personality. It gives customers a chance to get to know a business on a different level. This also gives businesses a chance to hear feedback that they probably normally wouldn’t hear. Feedback, whether it is positive or negative, is beneficial for a business because it produces interaction. Businesses need interaction to start the communication process.

Blogs are a fun way to share important content and information to customers. A blog will give a business a personality, express creativity, and produce a positive business culture.

While Social Networking Keeps Growing, Are You Missing Opportunities?

The stats are enormous. Twitter recently has surpassed 20 billion tweets and Facebook now has over 400 million users, 175 million of which log in everyday. It’s no wonder why all of the marketing hype centers around social media. It’s growth is fast and relentless yet experts are still trying to figure out how to be as opportunistic as possible in reaching an audience that is spending a huge amount of time social networking. The focus has shifted for businesses and advertisers to try and join in the online conversations. After all, there’s no sense in spending marketing dollars on television commercials for example, when consumers are using commercial time to engage in more social networking, unless it’s the Super Bowl.

A recent Nielson study reveals that social networking eats up twice as much time on the web as any other activity. Facebook and Twitter account for 22.7% of time spent online with the next closest activity being online gaming, 10.2%. The stats also show the degree to which social networking is taking the place of other forms of online communication. Both email and instant messaging have seen a significant drop as an online activity. Here’s the full stats from the study.

So what does it take to convince company to start marketing using social media? If you’ve been thinking about getting your feet wet for a while, now is the time to put your toes in the water! You don’t have to completely dive in but with growth like this, you owe it to your marketing strategy. Businesses shy away from social media largely because there’s so much out there and the results are hard to quantity. So start with the basics:

1. Create a Facebook profile: Try to connect with ‘friends’ that are relevant to your business. Most likely whether you’re B2B or B2C, your customers are already on Facebook. It’s relatively user friendly and not cumbersome to manage.

2. Open a Twitter account: Tweeting is fun and easy- it doesn’t take a lot of time out of your day. Again, you might find that your customers have already joined the Twitter universe.

3. Start a company blog: Blogging can be a great benefit to a business by increasing customer and visitor loyalty and driving more traffic to your company’s website. Decide on a focus for your blog, and write awesome content that will keep people coming back.

There are so many great resources online that will help you begin your social media endeavor and down the line, sharpen your social networking skills. Check out Mashable and Social Media Examiner.

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Tweeting Too Much, Or Too Little?

Are you using Twitter for your business? Does it feel like a tweet has a very small window of opportunity before it goes floating into Twitter space? It’s tempting for many to post the same tweet twice but how much is too much? Social users are getting bombarded with information and content constantly. That’s the argument for and against posting the same tweet twice.

Many opinions out there say that the best time to send a tweet range from 12pm-4pm Eastern time. Social Media Marketing experts have been experimenting with timing and frequency of tweets. One expert sent a tweet at 7pm and then again at 7am the next morning. He concluded that if your goal is to send people to a blog post, sending the same tweet twice is recommended. This comes from the assumption that a person following you is more likely to want to see the content that you are sharing, therefore two is better than one. Plus, people generally have patterns at which time of the day they’re using social media so chances are, you’re getting wider visibility by posting a tweet twice.

Statistics from this particular study went like this. 399 people clicked on the link offered by the 7pm tweet. For the second tweet at 7am the next morning, 244 clicked on the link. Further, if sending a third tweet later in the day, the link would get, on average, 50% of the clicks as the morning tweet. This concludes that there are still people at that time who haven’t seen the tweet but would like to.

So three tweets might be a bit much but two is definitely recommended. As long as you’re varying the times of day and shaking it up a bit. Also, you could tweet the same link twice but change the text of each tweet. For example, choose a couple of different quotes from the story or post that you’re sharing and use those to draw people into the link. There is a downside to this strategy. You run the risk of potentially driving people to your blog post that they may have seen already which could be annoying to some.

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Social Media and B2B Lead Generation

A new study by Leadforce1 shows that social media right now might not be the best way to garner leads for B2B companies. In fact, very seldom are visitors from top social sites looking at product or contact pages. This suggests that they’re not in the market for the company’s products or services rather, they’re most likely to be interested in a company’s blog or ‘About us’ page.

This ranked list reveals the site pages of interest for visitors coming from Facebook to visit B2B websites (#1 being the most visited page):

1. About Us
2. Blog
3. Management Team
4. Contact Us
5. Careers
6. Products

Another list shows the rankings of site pages of interest for Twitter users visiting B2B websites:

1. Blog
2. About Us
3. Products
4. Contact Us
5. Management Team

These lists may not seem too promising for sales however, the visitors seem to have an interest in learning about the company which is a common behavior and usually the first step in B2B relationship building.

In addition, most B2B site visitors from Facebook and Twitter are not sticking around for very long. This data reflects the percentage of visitors referred from social media sites to B2B sites who only visited a single page before leaving:

1. Facebook- 63%
2. Twitter- 63%
3. LinkedIn- 39%
4. Wikipedia- 39%

LinkedIn and Wikipedia referrals generally were more likely to browse around on a company’s website before moving on. Further, LinkedIn visitors were most interested in “Careers” pages suggesting that the network refers many job seekers.

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