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[Whiteboard Lesson] What is the inbound marketing funnel?

Posted by: in General on Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Inbound marketing is a systematic process that can help your organization reach more prospects. Though there are many details that affect how successgul your efforts are, the basic concepts are very simple.

In this whiteboard video, we'll explain the inbound marketing funnel and how it works. The transcript is included below this video for convenience.


Michael Reynolds: Hey there and thanks for joining today's Whiteboard video. We're going to talk about inbound marketing, specifically the funnel and what that looks like. Inbound marketing is this concept of turning outbound marketing around and, instead of doing things like cold calling, commercials, interrupting people, et cetera, we flip it around and create so much content and value that people can't help but be pulled into our brand and they come to us instead. That's really what inbound marketing is all about. 

This funnel represents conceptually what this piece of inbound marketing looks like. There are lots of moving parts to inbound marketing. There are lots of details. There are lots of really complex systems involved. But, conceptually, it's a fairly straightforward process. This is our inbound marketing funnel. This is what it looks like. It's made up of three main components, traffic, leads and conversions. Those are really the three main metrics we want to look at, when conceptualizing the inbound marketing process.

At the top, we have website traffic. This is really where brand awareness is generated. This is the first step. We do that through things like search engine optimization, social media, blogging, et cetera. These are all things that work together to create website traffic and awareness of your brand. Second, once we generate awareness, we want to turn people into leads by inviting them to download something like an e-book, view a webinar, watch a video or perhaps download a case study.

To do this, they give us an e-mail address, a name and some basic information. This allows people to enter our marketing database, where we can nurture them further and talk to them and provide more value. At this point, we have people entering our database and becoming a lead. A lead can start off at the top of the funnel, where they download something like an e-book, perhaps something very simple and basic that answers a question or solves a problem.

Later, they might get into research mode and want to learn more about how we actually address the problem as a company. This might be where a case study comes in, more in the middle of the funnel. After they become a lead, our job is to then to encourage them to become a customer. We do that by moving them down the funnel to this point, where they convert into a customer, through something like a consultation, a free trial, an assessment, a phone call or a meeting, just something that gets them in touch with us and the sales process and really lets us start to figure out if they are a good fit for us, if we are good fit for them and want to work together, et cetera.

That's where we want to end up bringing people. Again, conceptually, this is our inbound marketing funnel. At the first step, we have to generate traffic. Blogging is a fantastic way to generate traffic. It helps with search engine optimization. It gives us fuel on social media. It's great content to generate traffic. Secondly, we want to convert people to leads by having them download something or get more value through content we create. This is very high-value content. E-books are very well written and very thoroughly researched. They are really useful pieces of content.

Further, we turn them into a customer or at least a prospect that is in the sales cycle by providing enough value that they are ready to talk to us at that point. Conceptually, that is our inbound marketing funnel. That's what it looks like and how it works. Again, there are lots of moving parts inside of it. There are ways to score leads and do all sorts of other things inside. But really, this is the simple conceptual view of what it looks like. That's the inbound marketing funnel. I hope that's helpful. See you next time.

3 Great examples of crisis management on social media

Posted by: in General on Friday, August 2, 2013

In recent years the game has changed for crisis management. The public has certain expectations for a company's response to a PR disaster or potential crisis. Those expectations include things like swift response, open and honest communication, and open dialogue through social media. Never before have people been able to reach out directly to a brand so easily as they now can through platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Over the years we've seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of crisis management through social media. Here I wanted to highlight 3 examples of big brands who successfully handled true disasters and potential crises through deft use of social media. 


The Southwest Flight 345 that landed nose first at LaGuardia is the most recent example of a big brand who knew exactly how to handle a crisis through social media. Quick response time and open, honest communication on Facebook and Twitter were key in helping the brand control the story and maintain good faith with its customers.

Here are a few examples of their Facebook and Twitter posts just minutes after the accident, promising updates (which they followed up immediately with statements and information):

https://www.spinweb.net/clientuploads/_photos/Southwest Twitter 2.png

clientuploads/_photos/Southwest 2-1.png 

Most of the comments from fans included notes of support and appreciation for Southwest's open communication and quick response.

Southwest has a long history of responding appropriately to crises through social media, and the crisis planning of their communication and PR team is evident. 

Lesson learned: Have a PR plan in place, including social media response, with clear roles and scripts for those who need to respond immediately to a crisis.

Red Cross

Sometimes social media can be the cause of a PR crisis. Just take this Twitter snafu that the American Red Cross quickly handled back in 2011. This is every marketer and social media monkey's worst nightmare: accidentally firing off a personal tweet on the company's Twitter account. This kind of thing can happen easily when one is using Hootsuite on a mobile phone, for example (which is exactly what happened here). Red Cross responded brilliantly. The rogue tweet from @RedCross went like this:

“Ryan found two more 4 bottle packs of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch beer… when we drink we do it right #gettngslizzerd”

You can imagine how a tweet of this nature would make an honorable humanitarian organization look bad. How did Red Cross respond? With transparency, humor and good grace.

red cross tweet

Now, deleting a tweet isn't always the best idea since a) if you have a big audience who notices these things, it can look shady when you delete things and b) anything "deleted" can surface to haunt you later, especially on social media. But, Red Cross did the right thing by acknowledging that the tweet went out, they deleted it, and explaining with humor that it was all a mistake. It never turned into a major crisis. 

They didn't stop there, though. Red Cross went beyond that response and turned a potentially harmful tweet into an opportunity for engagement. They took to their corporate blog to explain the situation, show their humanity, and engage with fans and followers. The employee who made the mistake 'fessed up to it on her personal Twitter account in the same manner, with humility and humor.

clientuploads/_photos/red cross employee.png

Lesson learned: Be careful using Hootsuite! And, be honest with your fans/followers when you flub-up. Social media folks are very forgiving, as long as you don't use dishonest tactics to hide your mistakes. That is the ultimate no-no when handling crises through social media (or offline too, for that matter!)

JC Penney

Sometimes a small issue can come out of nowhere, and initially seem harmless and unworthy of response. Thus is the case with the JC Penney Teapot that looked like Hitler. Did you hear about this one?

A user on the social bookmarking site Reddit posted a remark about JC Penney's new teapot baring a slight resemblance to Adolf Hitler. The remark didn't remain isolated to Reddit for long, and JC Penney was forced to response after The Telegraph ran with the non-story: 

telegraph jc penney hitler teapot

Although this wasn't a crisis, JC Penney wisely chose to respond while not taking itself too seriously. They realized that a small issue like this could quickly turn into a social media PR crisis if handled improperly.

@jcpenney responded to hundreds of tweets about the evil teapot with a standard, light-hearted message:

clientuploads/_photos/JCPenney tweets.png


The whole debacle turned out to be a pretty good thing for JC Penney. The teapot sold like gangbusters.

Lesson learned: Be sensitive to the power of social media. Even a small issue like a silly comment or an unintentional coincidence that gets picked up by others on social media can quickly snowball into a PR crisis. Address even small complaints from your fans or others with grace and good sense.

What crisis management moments have your company responded to through social media engagement? How did it turn out? Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below!

[Whiteboard Lesson] How to do keyword research for SEO

Posted by: in General on Wednesday, July 31, 2013

SEO begins with choosing the right keywords. It's important to understand which search terms have the best potential for bringing results to your organization.

The keywords that most people target are not always the most productive, so be sure you understand what makes a good search term to target in your inbound marketing efforts.

In this whiteboard video, we'll explain how to choose the right keyword for your organization. The transcript is included below this video for convenience.



Michael Reynolds: Hey, thanks for joining today's whiteboard video. Today I'm going to talk about keyword research and finding the right keywords for SEO, which is search engine optimization. A lot of people are very concerned about SEO. They're very interested in finding out how they can rank better in search engines when people type in a term that relates to their company or organization. They want to be found on the first page, ideally, or high in the results when search engines produce those results. Really, SEO is a pretty prime concern for a lot of organizations we work with. 

There's a method to going about choosing the right keywords to target in your content. I'm going to talk about the overview of how we like to approach it.

When you're looking for the right keywords, you want to look at three main factors, typically. There are lots of factors you could look at, but the three main ones we look at first are demand, difficulty, and momentum. What does that mean?

Demand is really one of the most important. We look at demand first. Demand is how many searches occur for a given term each month or a given time period.

What we do is, we look at some sample keywords we're going to start with. We get some variations. We do some testing and do some tools like Ubersuggest and Google Keyword Tool. We get some variations going and plug them in. We start to look at what the demand is.

A keyword that gets 100 searches a month is not bad, but a keyword that gets 1,000 searches a month is even better. What are we going to target? The one that has higher demand, because that means more people are searching for that term.

A lot of times organizations will make the mistake of saying, "We want to rank for this particular search term." They don't look at the demand. They just think that's the right term for them. They might end up ranking page one for that term, but it really brings them no traffic because very few people are searching for it.

A critical component of finding the right keywords is demand. We want to make sure that keyword actually has high demand. People are actually searching for it. That's number one.

Next, we want to look at difficulty. The next piece of the puzzle here is that difficulty score. Difficulty really is, how difficult is that keyword to rank for? What's the competition?

A keyword that has a difficulty of, say, 10 is very low difficulty. Not much competition. Not a lot of people are vying for that keyword or that search term. A keyword of maybe a 90 difficulty or 100, which is the maximum of the scale, is going to be a lot more difficult to rank for. It's going to have a lot of competition. A lot of people are vying for that keyword. Lots of content out there is targeting that keyword. It's going to be pretty hard to rank for.

We want to find keywords that have lower difficulty. We'll look for below 50, typically, kind of on the lower end. That really helps us find opportunities for keywords that we have a chance at ranking for.

Next, we're going to look at momentum. What's momentum? Well, momentum is, do you already have a win, so to speak, for that search term? We typically look at the first 100 slots as momentum. If you have a search term out there that you want to target and you've got high demand, a lot of people are searching for it, fairly low difficulty, but you have no momentum, maybe you're ranked number 300 of that term.

You have another keyword that stacks up about the same, but you rank maybe 50 for that. The one that you rank 50 for has more momentum. You've got a win, so to speak, already. You've got some momentum climbing the ranks there. You want to look at that keyword and say, "Is that a better opportunity for me?" The answer probably is yes.

Really, demand is primary concern. Difficulty is also important. Momentum is that other factor that we want to look at to say, "Should we go after this one? Maybe this one over here has more momentum. Maybe we'll start with that one instead."

Those are the three factors that we tend to start with when we look at finding the right search terms to target for SEO. This helps us bake these keywords into our content, like blog posts, social media posts, other content, and really helps us target the right keywords. Keep that in mind as you're searching for the right search terms to target for SEO.

Hope that helps. Thanks for joining. Have a great day.

How Google makes its money

Posted by: in General on Monday, July 29, 2013

We're often asked random questions like "How does Google make their money since - you know - they don't have a product?" Without a product or not, Google has created an empire, making $33.3 billion last year. 

We stumbled upon this infographic and thought it was too informative (and just plain cool) to share. Enjoy!

How Google Makes Its Money

What is a Facebook hashtag?

Posted by: in General on Friday, July 26, 2013

If you haven’t noticed by now, Facebook finally gave users what they wanted earlier this year by making hashtags live and searchable. But what’s a hashtag and why should you care?

During the dawn of social media, circa 2006, hashtags were born on Twitter. There they remained for a while, obscure and elusive as most of Twitter language and culture is. Over time, however, this quirky shorthand has slipped into the mainstream.

Twitter and hashtags may be familiar to some of us, but they continue to be a mystery for many.

Facebook users still outnumber Twitter users by a large margin. Facebook has 1.11 billion-with-a-B users, while Twitter claims a mere 500 million (as of June 2013). Twitter users are a force to be reckoned with, don’t get me wrong. In fact, they made the hashtag so popular that it’s part of almost all social media platforms–Instagram, Pinterest, FourSquare, and now Facebook, the grandaddy of them all.

We’ve covered the basics of hashtags on this blog in the past, but I’ll reiterate for those Facebook-only fans who may have ignored our previous Twitter-related tips.

A hashtag is a single keyword or phrase that communicates the context of the post, like a place or event name. The hash symbol "#" (maybe you called it the “pound” symbol back in your day) is used to note that the text following it is a hashtag. Anyone can make up a hashtag on the spot and start using it simply by typing a "#" and then a word after it with no spaces.


So, the really nifty part about hashtags is their functionality. Once you create a hashtag in Facebook, it becomes a hyperlink. When you or someone else clicks that hyperlink, you’ll see any (publicly available) post that ever has or ever will use that hashtag. You can also search for hashtags in the universal search bar at the top of the page, like this:


When you do, you’ll see all of the status updates that are tagged with #Indy, like this:


Alright, enough of that. Let’s have an example of how you can use them for something like an event, shall we?

6 Steps to Using a Facebook Hashtag for an Event

1. Decide on a hashtag
What is the event and how will your customers/patrons/clients use the hashtag? Figure out what your hashtag will be first. Your company is putting on an event, say an informal coffee meetup, and you want your customers to post social media updates about it. You can organize all those status updates and photos with a hashtag like #IndyCoffee. Make sure it’s unique to your event so that you don’t get random stuff in your feed when you search the hashtag.clientuploads/_photos/IndyCoffee.jpg

2. Publicize the hashtag
In your social media announcements, emails, postcards, flyers... whatever you’re using to get the word out about your event, make sure to use the hashtag. Give your customers and users a heads-up that you want them to post updates and photos with this hashtag. “Hey everyone, can wait to see you at #IndyCoffee. Make sure to use the hashtag #IndyCoffee in your status or photos.”

3. Lead by example during the event
Take some photos of your event and post them to your Facebook page with the hashtag. “Thanks to the baristas for making #IndyCoffee tons of fun! My triple espresso caramel macchiato was soooo good!” Or maybe something more professional. Up to you.

4. Comment and be social
Search for your hashtag during the event and comment on other people’s updates or photos when they use the hashtag. “Hey, thanks for coming to #IndyCoffee today! Are you using Valencia on this photo?” [that’s an Instagram joke, it’s ok if you don’t get it.. let’s move on.]

5.  Remind your customers during the event
If you make an announcement at the beginning of the event, remind your customers of the hashtag and how they can use it. Let them know that you can see everyone’s posts and pics after the event is over by using the hashtag.

6. After the event, search the hashtag to see who used it
This is the fun part. You can see all of the status updates and photos related to the event when you search the hashtag (IF people have tagged it and they don’t have super locked-down security on their posts). Anytime someone clicks on that hashtag when they see it, the hyperlinked tag will show them all of the related posts. Nice, right? This is especially handy now that it’s supported on mobile, because most of the people will be using their phones and mobile devices to post during an event.

That’s it. It’s pretty simple to use Facebook hashtags in your social marketing. And there are endlessly creative ways to use them.
(Photo source: That is a real coffee cup you can buy here.)
Have you seen any creative ways people or business pages are using Facebook hashtags? Share in the comments!