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[Whiteboard Lesson] How to use data to improve your marketing

Posted by: in General on Wednesday, August 28, 2013

One of the most powerful elements of inbound marketing is the ability to use data to optimize your campaigns and improve over time.

In this whiteboard video, we'll explain how your marketing analytics can help you create more effective marketing campaigns. 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 how to use data to improve the quality of your inbound marketing funnel. As you may know, the inbound marketing funnel consists of traffic, leads and conversions. We want to generate website traffic. We want to turn those people that come to your website into qualified leads. Eventually, we want to turn those leads into customers. That's what it's all about, getting more customers and generating revenue. When this happens, we can start gathering more data about the process and we can improve the process.

What we can do is start to follow people along the timeline and see what they're doing. For example, if someone comes to our website and they view a certain number of pages, and they end up downloading an e-book, we are going to see that. Eventually, when they start to download other things, like case studies or view webinars or watch videos, we can add that to the timeline and we can start to see what they're doing along the way. At that point, we can take the ones that become customers, for example, and see what sorts of viewing and process habits they went through and learn from that.

What does that tell us? We can go back then and say, "We have found that our most qualified prospects that turned into customers ended up viewing these sections on our website, downloading these things and behaving in a certain way." We can start to tune our processes, learning from that data and figuring out how to make our funnel more effective, how to bring the right content, how to produce the right offers, how to write better blog posts, how to produce better content on social media, how to find better keywords for search.

We can do all sorts of things by learning from that data. What you want to do is make sure that you're not just putting content out and hoping for the best, but you are actually measuring what's happening. You are actually measuring how many people are looking at a certain blog post, how well it is performing, how well it converged, what kind of search terms you are winning on when that happens and then how many people actually turn into customers from those various sources.

That will tell you where to spend most of your efforts in fine tuning your inbound marketing process, how to write better offers, how to follow up in the sales process and, again, how to make sure your content is extremely effective and getting better and better all the time. Again, don't be afraid to look into that data. Dig deep. Take a look at what's happening. Use the data to make better decisions and improve your marketing. I hope that helps. Thanks for joining. See you next time.

[Whiteboard Lesson] How to follow up on inbound leads

Posted by: in General on Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Inbound marketing produces different (and often better) results than cold calling. However, following up on inbound leads takes a different approach. There are certain things you can do to maximize your effectiveness as you engage in a dialog with your prospects.

In this whiteboard video, we'll explain how to effectively follow up on inbound leads. The transcript is included below this video for convenience.


Michael Reynolds: Hey thanks for joining today's Whiteboard video. Today we're going to talk about how to follow up on inbound leads in the bottom of the funnel. As you know, the inbound marketing funnel consists of generating website traffic, turning traffic into leads, nurturing those leads and then, eventually, getting people to the point where they are ready to convert to a prospect and into the sales process. Here is our bottom of the funnel. Here's the point, where people have maybe downloaded some resources.

They have done a lot of research in your company. They have gotten to know what you do and what you're all about. At this point, they are ready to perhaps take the next step and maybe go a bit further. That's a good thing. Obviously you want the sales team to have great leads that are ready to talk to them and ready to take that next step. Here's what it looks like. When you are following up on an inbound lead, you want to avoid making the mistake of thinking of them as an old-fashioned outbound lead.

A lot of the outbound techniques involve things like cold calling. People just call people up and that conversation is going to go differently. For an inbound lead, you want to take a softer approach, perhaps a more subtle or consultative approach, especially when it comes to B2Bs. We've got B2C, which is business to consumer. We have B2B, which is business to business. They work a bit differently. In the B2B space, these are things like professional services companies, maybe manufacturing companies, maybe companies that provide technology services to other businesses. These are companies that provide services to businesses. That's B2B.

When a salesperson is following up an inbound lead, they might call that lead up. You want to take a more consultative approach. You want to start asking questions. You want to really say, "Oh, I noticed that you were doing research on this topic and that topic." Really just start the conversation there and see where it goes. You can get lots of information about that lead, by looking at their timeline in your marketing automation software, figuring out what they downloaded, what they looked at, which blog posts they read and what social media posts they clicked on.

You can get lots of information about that particular lead, so you've got lots of fuel to prime that conversation with. Again, you want to be consultative. You want to be as helpful as possible. Sometimes you might want to experiment with different techniques. Maybe call up a lead and say, "Hey, it looks like you're doing some research on this particular topic. I have a resource that might help you. Would you like to hear about it?" It's not selling anything that you're doing. It's simply being helpful. It's simply answering a question.

Sometimes people will be caught off guard and say, "Wow. That's great. You're actually trying to help me." It really lowers their defense mechanism a little bit. It really makes it a two-way conversation. Then you can see where it goes. They might be a good fit. It might turn into a sales process or maybe not, maybe not this time. Either way, you're starting the conversation off in a very helpful manner. Again, be very conversational. You don't want to call with the approach of, "Hey, I want to sell something to you."

You want to call with the approach of, "Hey, I'd like to help you. I'd like to answer questions for you, be a resource for you, connect you with someone or provide a referral." It's whatever you can do to help that person. That's a great way to start off a conversation, with a B2B inbound lead. With B2C, it might be a little bit different. You may still have a sales team that does calling, but, for a B2C sale, it might be maybe a software product or maybe an off-the-shelf product or something you would buy online. Maybe it's an e-commerce site you run.

Whatever that might be, a lot of times B2C transactions are quicker, more immediate and higher volume. At that point, you might be able to automate that conversion process by offering a free trial, by sending of a follow-up e-mail when they download something or when they reach a certain point in the process. You might send off an e-mail that says, "Hey, we'd love to offer you a free trial or a sample. Come try out the service.", or whatever it might be.

So it really depends on what type of company you are, what type of organization you are, what you're all about and whether you are B2 or B2C. It's going to be different for different organizations. Those are some ideas on how you might follow-up on inbound leads, really engage with them at the bottom of the funnel and meet them where they are. I hope that's helpful. Thanks for joining. See you next time.

[Whiteboard Lesson] How to use the middle of the funnel to nurture leads

Posted by: in General on Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Once people become leads through the inbound marketing process, you can start to help them in the "middle of the funnel" as they do more research. This is where a lot of the work happens in your inbound marketing campaigns.

In this whiteboard video, we'll explain how to nurture leads in the middle of the inbound marketing funnel. The transcript is included below this video for convenience.



Michael Reynolds: Hey, thanks for joining today's Whiteboard video. This time, I'm going to talk about the middle of the funnel and what happens there in inbound marketing. The inbound marketing process, as you may know, it typically represented by a funnel. We generate traffic at the top. In the middle, we generate leads. At the bottom, we attempt to convert leads into customers and generate revenue. That's what that is all about. 

This is the middle of the funnel. This is where all of the action happens. After we generate traffic, typically what we want to do is, we want that traffic to convert that traffic into a lead. We want people to come to our website, to read our blog posts, click on social media post. Spend some time on our website somewhere and eventually convert to a lead.

They download something. They type in their email address, name, basic information, whatever you might want to ask for. They become a lead. They get entered into our marketing database.

At that point, we can do a lot of things here. As soon as someone downloads something like an ebook or a guide, this is more where the top of the funnel lives.

Ebooks are very easy for people to digest. They solve problems. People like to get a free resource to download, to solve problems. People generally like to get ebooks and guides. Download those very quickly. Put them on their iPads. Read them on the go. Great way to generate leads at the top of the funnel.

What happens next? Once someone downloads a resource, they're now in our marketing database. We can talk to them. Does this mean we spam them with lots of sales-y messages? No, absolutely not. This is not what we want to do. That is not inbound marketing.

Inbound marketing is about providing content and value and helping people. That's really what it's all about.

How do we help people? We provide them with supplemental resources that go with whatever they downloaded. Maybe we'll give them follow up information and maybe a worksheet that goes with an ebook or we'll connect them to some other resource that maybe is on some other site that just helps them and just really helps them solve that problem.

At this point, they're getting more and more engaged with our brand and our company. We're where what's called, "nurturing," or using work flows to send follow up emails or communicate with them on social media or engage them, in some fashion that meets them where they are in their process.

At this point, we're getting them further and further engaged until eventually, they'll get, what I call "research mode." They're starting to get more information about how we solve those problems. Maybe how we've worked in this particular scenario with other company. Maybe how they saw success. Maybe some analytics or measurements. Some success stories. Those make great case studies.

At this point, they might download a case study or they might watch a webinar. These are typically higher commitment types of content. People spend more time watching webinar. A case study is a little bit more academic and research oriented. That really shows that people are really serious about figuring this out, whatever this might be.

At this point, we've seen that our score, so to speak, can go from very lightly engaged to perhaps medium to very highly engage.

When you see someone download a case study or really stay engaged in a webinar, that's a good signal that they might be ready to convert to that last point, which is a consultation or maybe talk to the sales team, or maybe just take that next step to an evaluation or a free trial or whatever that might be for your particular organization.

That's what the middle of the funnel looks like. We can do things like apply scores to people and see where they are in the process. We can put them on a chart, so to speak. We can see where they are visually more linear fashion. Lots of things we can do here.

The point really is, we start by helping them first up here. Then we see who ends up getting more in this research mode here at the bottom.

These are the people that we really want to start talking to more and more and helping them and meeting them where they are. That's really what happens in the middle of the funnel in inbound marketing.

I hope that helps. See you next time.

What is website greeking?

Posted by: in General on Monday, August 12, 2013

The word "greeking" may conjure up images of a Greek salad (Mmm...one of my favorites!) or Greek gods and goddesses. Or maybe it gives you flashbacks to studying Greek in college, and it makes you twitch.

Regardless, the term "greeking" doesn't refer to any of that. So, what is greeking and where did it come from? Great questions!

What it is

Greeking is a term used for adding dummy text. It's a way of displaying text or symbols - though not always from the Greek alphabet. (It's misleading, I know.) The name is a reference to the phrase "Greek to me," meaning something that you can't understand, so it may as well be in a foreign language). It has been proven that when content is provided in a design, readers focus on the words, not assessing the overall design. In a mockup, filler text (or "greek") is used to give the overall look of the piece without distracting with real content.

The History

The most common "greeking" text is the all-too-familiar Lorem Ipsum Delor, which has been the industry standard since the 1500s. It has been said that a printer took an unknown galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. However, that's not entirely accurate. The text is derived from Cicero's De finibus bonorum et malorum (which means On the Boundaries of Goods and Evils). The passage starts out "Neque porro quisquam est qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit." Did you catch all that? In English, it means "Neither is there anyone who loves pain itself since it is pain and thus wants to obtain it." No one really knows when the text was altered to its current form, but evidence points to as late as the 1960s.

"It's Greek to me!"

Our amazingly-talented designer, Jason, fills in Greek when we don't have final copy available for new websites - or when we want a client to really focus on the aesthetics or design of a site. Clients always want to know why there's "funny language" on their web design. We've heard some really great quotes over the years, usually something to the effect of, "I don't know what kind of language that is, but if my clients can't read it then I don't want it on there." We're quick to explain greeking (much like we're doing here) so that they don't get their panties in a bunch (Trust me, it happens).

Some clients are so distracted by it that they sometimes have trouble (at first) approving their design since they can't picture what it will look like without their own copy in place. (We're certainly not faulting them for this, as I'm sure it is distracting to see a foreign language on your shiny, new website.)

Where to get it

There are websites available to help you generate said filler text. Jason prefers fillertext.com, which is a free online generator. You simply select how many characters, paragraphs, or words you want it to produce. The site pastes the generated copy to the clipboard. It's as easy as that!

There are other English filler text available if you prefer to stick with more familiar words. There are also some more humorous filler text generators out there, including (but not limited to) Gangsta, Vegetarian, Hipster, and (my personal favorite) Fillerama, which uses quotes from Doctor Who, Futurama, Monty Python, The Simpsons, and Star Wars.

So, next time you see Lorem Ipsum (or other random filler text), you can smile knowingly since it's NOT Greek to you!

[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.

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