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Are You Building Your Business With a Crock-pot or a Microwave?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Dan Kraus – Enjoy!
Are you building your business with a Crockpot or Microwave?

Photo Credit: lisaclarke via photopin cc

My Hubspot channel colleague Rachel Cogar at Puma Creative has a phase that I just absolutely love – she describes Inbound Marketing as a crock-pot strategy, not a microwave strategy.  Meaning, quite vividly I would add, that you will get a very tasty meal of inbound traffic and leads if you are willing have patience and put the time in for inbound marketing.

I’d go further than Rachel does with this however, and say that pretty much all marketing in a complex buying process is a crock-pot strategy.  We work with a lot of technology re-sellers/dealers/vars and they sell complex and expensive software, which performs critical functions for mid sized and smaller large businesses.

This is a not a quick turnover process.  A new customer purchase, with software and services, easily runs into the six-figures.  And the process to buy is long, complex and fraught with difficult questions to ask, answer and consider.

We’ve been seeing estimates that customers in complex purchases believe that they have completed anywhere from 60% to 80% of their buying process before they ever talk to a vendor on the phone.  SIXTY TO EIGHTY percent finished before you ever get to talk with them.

If you’ve been in business for about 10 years or more, think back – what was your sales cycle before the search engine ruled the world?  And what is it today? I am willing to guess that if you said your sales cycle used to be 6 months, and you really look at the time from engagement to close today, it probably is 6 to 8 weeks now.  So no, it hasn’t gotten shorter – its gotten hidden.  That engagement you used to have early on, as you educated a prospect, is now engagement the prospect takes upon themselves in a self-directed manner.

The impact of this is pretty profound in 3 key areas:

  1. We have a much more difficult time forecasting our sales future because we get engaged with prospects much later.  If we sell a product that used to have a 6-month sales cycle, we could reasonably do a weighted forecast, six months out.  If you are only seeing prospects now 6 to 8 weeks before they buy, it’s a lot hard to forecast six months.
  2. You don’t get a lot of opportunity to impact your prospects thought process.  The education that your prospect goes through is self-directed.  You don’t get to control the conversation. In fact, you will probably not even be able to impact the conversation unless you are putting out high quality educational materials on a regular basis such that Google sees you as a good source of education.
  3. You have a shorter window of time, space and energy to show why you are different than you have ever had before.  If the sales cycle that you are engaged with is shorter, and the prospect is self-educated, you have to have an extremely clear point of differentiation that is in-your-face obvious (and can be seen on a mobile phone).  If your prospects have to dig around to see why you are different, you lose.  The back button the browser or opening a new tab on my mobile is just too easy.

So back to our crock-pot and microwave.

To help educate these prospects and have them engage with you at the end of their buying process, they need to find you at the beginning.  This is the crock-pot.  You need to know the ingredients and keep adding them to the stew.  And give it time to cook.

Non-metaphorically – you need to know what the knowledge or understanding that your prospect is looking for and make it available when they want it (and in the format they want it).

The challenge with microwave strategies in a complex buying cycle is that sometimes they work.  Your telemarketer looking for leads might stumble upon someone who is ready to buy now.  That lead you purchased from a lead-aggregator may be a perfect fit customer for your organization and purchase next week.  But these results are unpredictable and make it difficult to consistently grow your business.

So by all means, use the microwave, but just like in your kitchen, there are some things that just don’t cook well in three to five minutes of radiation.  To make sure that you will always be well-fed, be sure you also get the crock-pot going, and always keep adding new and tasty ingredients for your prospects to feast on.

Dan KrausDan Kraus is the founder and president of the Leading Results marketing agency and a Master Duct Tape Marketing consultant.  Dan has been a sales and marketing professional for over 25 years, previously working for companies such as Great Plains Software and SAP. Based in Charlotte, NC, Leading Results has worked with Duct Tape Marketing for five years and is a Gold Certified Hubspot partner.  Leading Results helps clients in 14 different time zones to stop wasting money on marketing that doesn’t get results.

Marketing Automation for Small Business

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Wendy Coombes– Enjoy!

photo credit: iStock Photo

photo credit: iStock Photo

If you are a small business marketer, you know that the number of channels across which to deliver your key messages has increased considerably. While it is great that we have so many opportunities to attract and engage our ideal client, managing multiple channels effectively can seem like a full time job.

This explains why the biggest group of marketing automation buyers are small and midsize businesses. So let’s take a look at this trend and marketing automation’s effectiveness for small business.

What is Marketing Automation?

As businesses realize they need get on board with web marketing strategies, they typically “bolt on” solutions. They open up a Twitter or Facebook account, dabble in LinkedIn groups or do an email shot using a free cloud-based email marketing solution.

Managing communication programs across multiple applications is a logistical nightmare; it lacks overview and the ability to measure its effectiveness.

Marketing automation enables businesses to execute campaigns, automate processes, and measure their impact.

How can you benefit from workflow-based lead management?

The most frequently requested feature of marketing automation solutions is lead management. Leads are the lifeblood of business, so it is easy to see why marketers consider lead generation their biggest challenge and most important goal. Marketing automation assists in a number of ways.

First, to attract on the web you need valuable and optimized content. The best marketing automation platforms let you create:

  • optimize site pages
  • calls to action and landing pages
  • (smart) forms

Other capabilities that play a role in lead management let you:

  • view which content your leads engage in and present leads with further content they will find relevant
  • score leads
  • do progressive profiling
  • set up event triggered email workflows

Besides these lead management capabilities, it should offer closed-loop analysis, search engine optimization tools, email marketing, and other tools to manage online multi-channel campaigns.

There’s no substitute for marketing planning

Whilst marketing automation can increase the effectiveness of lead generation and result in increased revenue, it is not a substitute for a customer-centric marketing strategy. Effective marketing plans start with a thorough understanding of your buyer personas and the buyer’s journey as they research and evaluate your products or services.

A look at the business case

Traditionally used by large e-commerce organizations, marketing automation has become more widely adopted and therefore more available, affordable, and practical for small business. Marketing automation combined with inbound strategies offers measureable benefits for small business:

  • lower cost per lead
  • improved customer lifetime value
  • increased revenue
  • improved sales effectiveness
  • better ROI on your marketing investment

What is important to recognize is that it is not a quick fix solution. If you start with a low-traffic base and want grow traffic organically, do not expect to see significant increases in traffic for 9 months (maybe somewhat shorter if you have ample resources to pump out good quality content).

On the other hand, if your site is already getting good traffic but you are not converting sufficient leads, you may see results much sooner by utilizing best practice conversion methods.

What to look for in a marketing automation platform

If you plan to research marketing automation solutions, look for things like:

  • What is included in the minimum license fee? Many providers will charge you based on the size of your contact database. Check how many contacts are included in the base rate. You really want a solution that is scalable but you might want to know whether charges are capped once you reach a certain number of contacts.
  • What is the minimum license period? Many require an initial12 months. Ask if the entire license fee is payable up front or whether they accept monthly installments.
  • Read real case studies of businesses like yours who have adopted marketing automation and see if you can get in touch directly with current users to hear their experiences first hand.
  • Is user training included? It is not unusual for training to be charged additionally. Check what training is included.

As mentioned before, there is no substitute for good marketing planning and strategy, but once you have your goals and roadmap set out, marketing automation can do some of the heavy lifting and provide you with the analytics to achieve sustainable lead campaign success.

Wendy Coombeswendy profile photo_150px copy is an inbound marketing consultant with a background in Technology and B2B marketing as well as e-Commerce.   Her inbound marketing agency, Brite Kite, is based in Sydney Australia. Wendy is passionate about helping traditional professional service providers such as lawyers and accountants, transition to online lead generation and realizing a better ROI on their marketing investment. Connect with Wendy on twitter via @wendycoombes.

 

3 Steps to Double Inbound Leads in 60 Days

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Erik Luhrs – Enjoy!

3 Steps to Double Inbound Leads in 60 Days

photo credit: shutterstock

I love talking to new prospects! They are ALWAYS convinced that they’ve already tried “everything.” They are convinced that the only way to get more leads is to increase the amount of people who see their messages. They are convinced that rapidly multiplying leads and sales is just a fantasy.

And they are always wrong.

Now you’re probably thinking “Oh BS, Erik! What could you possibly know that is so much better than all the other experts we’ve asked for help?

The short answer is that it’s not about what I know. It’s about what your prospects know…that you ignore! We’ll get to that in a moment.

First, let’s sum up the problem of “not enough leads.”

The cause of this situation is 3 factors:

  1. You blend in with your competition because you are a “me too” business (“Oh they sell widgets? Me too!”) .
  2. You define yourself / your business the same as your competition (“We are the #1 Widget producer in North America”…same thing everybody else says).
  3. You think quality/service/price/experience/caring about our clients/etc means something to the prospect (“With our 50 years of experience we have created a quality team that can deliver the service you need at a price you can afford. And remember we really care about our customers”…SNORE!!!)

What happens with all of this type of communication is that you are trying to be logical and trying to communicate with the conscious mind of your prospect.

The problem is that humans live their lives 99% SUBCONSCIOUSLY, so the subconscious is in control. The 1% of conscious awareness humans have is not in control, but that is the part of the mind EVERYBODY tries to talk to. It makes no sense!!!

So the simple secret to rapidly increasing leads is to start talking to the 99% of the mind that is in control!

How? Well, there is a lot to it, but here are 3 steps to get you moving in the right direction (and if you actually use them you will be ahead of 95% of your market).

  1. RE-POSITION: Instead of trying to solve every problem your audience has ask your target what their real, immediate problems are. Go deeper than “we need more sales,” “we need more staff,” “we need faster processors.” Find a single problem BEHIND their general problem, and solve that. Hint: When you can hear someone’s voice change or you see them start to look uncomfortable you will know you have touched one of their subconscious issues.
  2. RE-PRESENT: Once you have chosen that one deep, real problem that you will solve become the go to experts for that aspect of that problem. Basically, focus and stay focused.
  3. RE-PACKAGE: Connect your offerings to that one aspect of that one problem you now solve and describe what you do in that context in all of your messages.
  4. (bonus step) RE-DISTRIBUTE: Use every channel (online and offline) that you can access and spread the word of your new “Position” to the world. Own this new space!

Once you are talking to the subconscious mind of your target audience they will have no choice but to pay attention. More attention means more people looking at your messages, which means more responses, which means more leads.

Or you can just go back to doing and saying what everybody else does and says. The choice is yours.

Choose wisely!

 

Erik LuhrsErik Luhrs is known as The Bruce Lee of Sales and Lead Generation. He is the creator of The GURUS Selling System and Front-Loaded Lead Generation. He is the author of the book BE DO SALE and the ONLY expert in the world on Subconscious Lead Generation!

On April 30th Erik will be hosting the FREE webinar ‘3 Steps to get Prospects to Contact You Ready to Say YES!’ In the webinar Erik shows how to apply Subconscious Lead Generation tactics to your Lead Generation and Marketing messages to immediately double or triple open, read and conversion rates. To register go here now: http://bit.ly/JantschLuhrs

 

 

4 Realities of Inbound Marketing You Can’t Afford to Neglect

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Rohan Ayyar – Enjoy!

Inbound marketing and social media participation for brands are one of the most effective promotion tactics today. The whole world of marketing is now skewed towards “earning customers” instead of “buy, beg, or buy your way in” that outbound marketers follow, if this Inbound vs. Outbound Marketing infographic on Mashable is to be believed.

The fundamental shift in consumer behavior is certain now: individuals are in control of what information they choose to receive. Not only do they have options when it comes to brands while buying, but they can also choose who they want to hear from.

According to Mashable’s infographic, more than 84% of 25-34 year olds have abandoned their favorite website because of intrusive or irrelevant advertising. More than a whopping 86% of people skip television ads. At least 200 million Americans have registered for FTC’s “Do Not Call” list. Over 91% of email subscribers have unsubscribed from an email list they previously opted into.

Clearly, outbound marketing is having a hard time. On the other hand, inbound marketing works, but only when you go at it the right way.

Here are a few inbound marketing realities you can’t afford to neglect:

1. No one gives two hoots about your brand, product, service or whatever

This one’s hard. In fact, it’s the hardest truism about being in business today. Contrary to whatever you might think about your business, your prospective customers don’t really give a damn about you. It’s a hard pill to swallow. Does it mean all that passion, sweat, blood, and tears you put into running your business are for naught?

Customers aren’t overly concerned about you, and won’t be either, for as long as you beat your big corporate chest with your “campaigns,” you are just carrying out interruption marketing.

What the world does care about is solutions to problems. Your prospective customers are looking for solutions that can make their life better somehow, in some way. Whatever fits the bill – with respect to products and services – takes the cake.

2. Competition has no face

Once upon a time, all that a company would have to worry about – apart from producing goods and delivering services – was competition from similar companies selling similar products. Today, competition comes in new garbs everyday.

First, there’s the information overload that customers are slowly getting immune to (which means that they mastered the art of ignoring what you have to say). Second, the competition comes from smarter and leaner companies that have learnt the art of keeping customers engaged (with inbound marketing practices, of course).

If you’ve ever wondered why all that money being spent on campaigns never managed to bring in a dollar, it’s because of this competition overload. You just have a lot more to do today.

Are you ready to deal with it?

3. Marketing is the new way of giving

Capitalism was almost a result of selfishness. Ayn Rand was a staunch advocate of “self-worth” and “self-preservation.” She wrote whole tomes like Atlas Shrugged to get that point across. That was then.

Capitalism is still about making a profit. It’s just the way profits are made has changed with inbound marketing. This new line of marketing calls for “selflessness.” It calls for giving away more than you ask for. It calls for altruism, generosity, and spreading buckets of value through content, information dissemination, and relationship-building on social media.

Take whatever route you like, just make sure you give.

4. Inbound is harder than outbound

Most rookie entrepreneurs believe that since inbound marketing is relatively cheaper than traditional marketing, it ought to be easier. As they say, “Talk is cheap.” However, it’s easy to forget that work comes at a premium.

Inbound marketing is harder than traditional marketing. As a matter of fact, marketing is always hard as Drew Williams of HubSpot candidly explained. There are a whole lot of things to get used to. Businesses have to produce an unimaginable amount of content. There’s social media, there’s content (which itself stretches into blog posts, videos, podcasts, slide decks, infographics, curated content, and a whole lot more), which companies have to produce at an alarming rate.

Then there are multiple channels to tap into. Marketing itself is now a hodge-podge of tasks, departments and functions. Teams need to put their heart into all of these. They need to learn and use sophisticated tools for manifold tasks ranging from project collaboration to publishing, from web analytics to video conferencing. What’s more, they need to be effective at that, produce results and justify ROI.

How do you go about inbound marketing? What are the biggest challenges you’re facing in getting inbound leads? How do you convert these to sales? Do you have any new tactics or strategies to share?

Rohan Ayyar bio photoRohan works at E2M solutions, a premium digital marketing firm specializing in creative content strategy, web analytics and conversion rate optimization for startups. He is an avid blogger, with posts on Search Engine Journal, Social Media Today and Moz, among other places. Rohan hangs out round the clock on Twitter @searchrook – hit him up any time for a quick Q&A.

Involve Your Prospect In Their Story to Ignite Inbound Selling

Today is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Mike Hanski – Enjoy! 

wiifm

photo credit: flickr

In certain ways, inbound selling is a lot like inbound marketing.  At the very least, they have one very important concept in common – content is king.

The success of any inbound technique – letting potential leads come to you rather than go hunting for them – is quality content.  And the driving force behind quality content is the idea of letting the reader understand “What’s In It For Me” (WIIFM).

Understanding WIIFM

Any business professional will tell you the most important concept of business writing is answering the question, “what’s in it for me?”

Prospects don’t care about how many products you sold last year, the size of your company, the awards you’ve received or anything else that is wholly unrelated to them.  All they care about is what they can get from the deal.

Fortunately, this idea plays right into the hands of inbound sales specialists.  Check out the ways you can use WIIFM writing to enhance the success of your inbound selling strategy.

Using WIIFM Writing to Create Problems

Last year, John wrote a post outlining the anatomy of inbound selling.  He mentioned the following:

“Inbound sales professionals build and sell problems that prospects don’t even know exist.”

If done properly, WIIFM writing creates problems and initiates questions.  You want your content to answer some of the questions the reader might have, but not all of them.  This draws attention to specific areas of need.

For example, you might write…

We can help with your search engine optimization, social media marketing, and other marketing techniques.

The reader would wonder…”what ‘other marketing techniques?’  Can you do my offline/print marketing too?

To get the answer to that question, the prospect will seek you out.  In the meantime, he might realize he does, in fact, need online marketing techniques in addition to the offline marketing he intended to implement.  You’ve created a problem he didn’t know he had.

WIIFM is All about Providing Education

In another post about the correlation between marketing and selling, John mentioned the following:

“Today’s salesperson must be ready to teach, publish and demonstrate expertise.  Every sales person should answer questions via blog posts, engage in social media conversations, and conduct online and offline seminars.”

Again, this idea plays right into the hands of WIIFM business writing.  The best education tactics are centered on how the reader will benefit.

Do you need some ideas for educational blog posts with WIIFM principles?  Try writing about…

  • Industry secrets.  Is there some insider information you can provide?  Are there questions people are dying to know the answer to?  Give away the recipe to the secret sauce and prospects will love you forever.
  • Controversial topics.  Is there something taboo about your industry?  Are there things no one wants to talk about?  Expose those issues.  Educate prospects about topics they didn’t even know they needed to know.
  • Other areas of expertise.  Demonstrations and tutorials are golden.  Teach something and prospects will be hooked.  Consider making a video of your efforts.

Social media is another arena that offers prime learning opportunities.  When you think about providing educational information with your social media account, remember…WIIFM.

That means, less self-promotion and more client-centered content.  A general rule of thumb for any social media marketing effort is 80/20 – 80% of your content should be links and shares of other people’s content and only 20% should be about you and your brand.  If you are going for a true WIIFM approach with the goal of inbound selling, you might want to change the ratio to something even more drastic – maybe 90/10.

Just focus on providing genuinely helpful content.  Link to other leaders in your industry.  Share significant news pieces.  Be helpful.

Writing Stories about Them

Another concept of inbound selling is the idea of switching from lead nurturing to storybuilding.

“Salespeople must be able to relate the organization’s core stories to the world of their customer and they must help the customer build a new story that stars them in the leading role.”

This strategy is the one most likely to cause a WIIFM stumbling block.  While creating the organization’s stories, it can be easy to slip from them-oriented tales to us-oriented success stories.  When you write, remember to make sure your stories are problem creating (them) rather than problem solving (us).

Other WIIFM Web Content

The driving concept behind inbound selling is letting the prospect come to you.  Therefore, you need to make that task as easy as possible.  Again, think about them and what they need to reach you.

  • Make your “Contact Us” page easy to find.  Clearly link to it from the homepage – and each internal page.
  • Provide as much information as possible on your “Contact Us” page – physical address, email addresses, phone number, fax number, GPS coordinates…everything.  You can’t possibly go overboard here.
  • When applicable, give specific contact information.  Do you have different departments to handle different issues?  List all those out with the appropriate contact person and information.  Try to avoid the ambiguous “[email protected]” email address.
  • List basic information – like your phone number and email address – on each page of your website.  Don’t make visitors go to your “Contact Us” page if they don’t want to.
  • Share customer testimonials.  Let other people be your sales rep.  They might connect with the reader in a way you can’t.

When it comes to inbound selling, your website is one of your most powerful tools.  Be sure to keep the content focused on the reader.  Tell them exactly what’s in it for them.  Write with your prospect’s interest at heart and you can’t lose.

 

Mike HanskiArticle by Mike Hanski – content strategist and a blog writer at Bid4papers.com. When not writing about education technology and business, he enjoys American literature and traveling in far countries.  Learn more about Mike at Google+.

Hummingbird and Hashtags: Keeping Your Google Plus Content Strategy Alive

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is Lauren Hogan – Enjoy!

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Photo credit: misspixels

With Google’s recent Hummingbird update, anyone who does online marketing was forced to review & revamp their marketing strategy. The Hummingbird update specifically impacts the social media marketing realm by increasing SEO dependence on Google Plus hashtags. Whereas, previously, it was used to track post content now, using hashtags with your Google Plus posts helps optimize your content to display in search.

Here’s why this update matters: Google Plus is the second largest social platform with just over 50% of the global internet user market and boasts roughly 1,203 million users per month (visits to Gmail are counted). These are astounding numbers not to be overlooked. Do not exclude the use of hashtags if part of your content strategy includes Google Plus. Here are 5 ideas of how to use hashtags in your content strategy:

1)  Basic Use

This is simple. If you are posting content to your business Google Plus account, throw in a few hashtags to help support the reach of your post. Find a happy medium between the standard hashtag use on Twitter and Instagram. 2-4 hashtags per post is a realistic goal.

2)  Optimization

You have a blog. You have an SEO strategy. You have a Google Plus account. Now let’s connect the dots. It can never hurt to optimize your post for organic search & use those optimized words as hashtags.

3)  Photo Content

The most popular activity on Google Plus is photo sharing. Utilize hashtags when you post to provide equal opportunity for your post to be viewed.

4)  Networking

Communities are a great way to reach a targeted audience and invite an opportunity for more sharing, +1’s and discussion. When you post content to a community make sure to include hashtags to encourage and track conversation around the topic of choice.

5)  Conversation

Just as you would on Twitter, use hashtags that relate to your business and your goals. This includes choices such as #tech or #socialmedia. However, unlike Twitter you can use specific hashtags such as #techtips or #socialmediamarketing. You can even attach on to a couple hashtags that already spark weekly conversation. Examples include #MondayMotivation and #FridayFun.

headshot squareLauren Hogan is the Social Media Coordinator at HomeAdvisor which offers homeowners tools including Cost Guide, a resource to help budget your next home improvement project and DesignMine, a site to help collect, organize and bring to life home project ideas. She enjoys trail running in the summer and spending time on the slopes in the winter. Connect on Twitter

 

Are You Ever “Finished” with Inbound Marketing?

Enjoy this guest post from Michael Reynolds is President/CEO of SpinWeb

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photo credit: Folk Media via photopin cc

Inbound marketing is both an art and a science. The technology, metrics, measurements, testing, and goals are the science part of it while the creative campaigns and intuitive ideas are a critical part of the art of inbound marketing.

While the numbers and metrics are very quantifiable, the multifaceted nature of inbound marketing can make it somewhat challenging to tackle from a productivity standpoint.

Let’s face it… there is always more you could do. There is always one more blog post you could write. There is always one more ebook idea to work on. Always one more video campaign. One more social media experiment. One more network to try.

Yikes! Where do you draw the line?

Whether you are an agency partner doing inbound marketing for your clients or you are a marketing pro who is in charge of marketing for your organization, how do you know when you’re “finished?” for the day, week, or month?

Reference Your Goals

Before you get all worked up over whether you are doing enough, take a look at your goals. You may feel like you’re not doing enough but if your metrics show that you are on track with your goals, relax! You’re on the right track.

Naturally, you’ll want to continuously improve your results and nudge your goals higher and higher but this can be done in a manageable way that is realistic and achievable.

Follow your Cookbook

While the results are the most important measure of your success, you also need to be working from a “cookbook” so that you have a framework for your activities. A sample cookbook might contain these activities for a given month:

  • Write and publish 4 blog posts
  • Schedule one Facebook post per day
  • Schedule 3 Twitter posts per day
  • Create one new offer, video, or webinar (could also be per quarter)
  • Review keywords and prune/add
  • Look for opportunities to improve conversions and adjust accordingly
  • Create one new A/B test variation for CTA
  • Newsjack as needed
  • Monthly review with client

This is a pretty simple list of activities that are proven to lead to positive results over time. However, if you get three months in and discover that you are not hitting your goals, then you can go back to your cookbook and make some adjustments.

Traffic not as high as you want? Try doubling your blog post output while slowing down offers. Traffic is high but you leads are down? Spend more time creating offers and optimizing conversion opportunities.

Keep the Customer Happy

If you’re with a partner agency, then your customer is, well, your customer. If you’re a marketing director then your internal customers might be the CEO, VP, owners, board of directors, etc. In either case, you have someone to keep happy.

You might be trucking right along and getting great results but the fact remains that customers like to see activity. Your customer’s happiness index (CHI) is important and you’ll want to include some touch points and look for ways to keep them in the loop outside of your regular monthly meeting.

This is where newsjacking can come in handy. Set up some Google Alerts to keep you notified of industry chatter and ask your customer for feedback on these items to see if they want to take advantage of them.

Additionally, you can look for other ways to move the needle like communicating with their sales teams to see if there are any ways you can help close the loop on leads. Little “extra” things like this are the spices that you add to the mix to round things out and keep your CHI up where it should be.

Work the System and Adjust as Needed

If you use your goals as an ultimate target, follow a cookbook, and keep your customer happy, you’ll have some clear boundaries the can help you define when you are “finished” with your inbound marketing activities.

No one wants to feel like they have to work 16 hours a day because there is always more to do. Use these guidelines to keep yourself in check while achieving the great results that you were hired for. If you see opportunities to tweak, go for it… but always measure and tune.

What are some ways you check the “finished” box for your inbound marketing campaigns?

Michael-200w-leftMichael Reynolds is President/CEO of SpinWeb – a digital agency located in Indianapolis, IN. As an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional with Honors Distinction, Michael regularly blogs, publishes educational industry content, and speaks at conferences around the country covering topics like social media strategies, inbound marketing, and technology.

In addition to his obsession with marketing and technology, Michael devotes part of his brain to ballroom dancing and classical music. Prior to earning degrees in both Cello Performance and Management Information Systems from Ball State University, Michael studied the cello with a real live Klingon and still plays regularly in church and the occasional chamber music gig.

Michael enjoys playing tennis, cycling short distances very slowly on the Monon Trail (usually on the way to Bazbeaux Pizza), traveling with his beautiful wife, and eating lots of sushi.

10 Tested Tips to Improve Ecommerce Conversions Without Going Broke

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Alexia McCormick  – Enjoy!

There are a couple ways for an ecommerce company to increase performance. One is to increase the number amount of traffic that arrives on the website through marketing, Pay Per Click advertising, and other forms of outreach. The other method is to develop the visitors you’ve already got and improve your conversion rate. While both methods have costs, the first method will usually require a much larger budget to be successful.

Sometimes, though, the simplest changes on your website can make a big difference, and you can improve your overall conversion rate without having to go broke. These ten tips are an effective way to get started.

1.  Headlines – The headline of the page should be your first priority because it can have the biggest impact on conversion. You need to look at the headline as a pointer. It’s not just about grabbing attention but building interest. Avoid the hype and be clear about why they should look at the rest of the plate.

2.  Copy – The copy on the webpage must provide value for the customer. Remember that you only have a few seconds and less than a couple of inches to catch their attention and give them a reason to stay, so put the important things first (free trials, new products, etc.), and always be clear and direct.

3.  Quantifiable Data – Most internet users are naturally suspicious of claims made by businesses on their websites. Phrases like “the most” or “the best” have no real meaning for us. Offer measurable data on what makes you stand out from the competition.

4.  Build Trust – The internet can be a scary place to do business with hackers causing problems and companies unable to fulfill their orders. Give your customers reasons to trust you. Do you have a history of fast deliveries and complete fulfillment? Is your shopping cart certified to be safe? Are you available to answer questions? Adding live chat software to the website and immediately responding to emails or other forms of communication will also put a personable face on the company and make it easier to do business.

5.  Images – An image needs to do more than break up the content. A smiling, happy, but completely unrelated person isn’t going to be very helpful. Your images should contribute to the message you are trying to deliver. Images should be about communication, not decoration.

6.  Consistent Messaging – Guide your customers through the entire process. If your PPC ad says one thing, make sure your landing page reiterates the message. Then follow through on the sales page to help them know that they are getting exactly what they need.

7.  Reduce Friction – How many clicks does it take to make a purchase? How much content do they need to read before they find out what makes your company so special? This all feels like work to the average internet customer, and they’d just as soon go elsewhere as work their way through a confusing sales process. Eliminate friction and you will take away an excuse to leave the site.

8.  Simplify Calls to Action – Whether it’s a button that takes them to another page or a form to fill out on the landing page, the call to action should be clear and simple. If a form has 12 elements, customers will balk. If the button is surrounded by bright pictures, it will be hard to see. Keep it clear and simple.

9.  Change Perception – Increasing your conversion rate isn’t about making huge changes to the website. It’s about making changes to the way your website is perceived by the customers. You need to think about the structure, content, and images from the customers’ point of view, not the company’s.

10.  Stay Focused – Too many options and choices can be detrimental to the conversion process. Stay focused on a single product or service on each page. Do not try to cross sell before you’ve made the first sale. Be confident in the page. You don’t need to sell them on your whole organization right now, just on one thing at a time.

Alexia McCormick is a writer for Netop. When Alexia is not writing, she enjoys sewing & learning about advancements in education. Netop has been a leader in classroom management, live chat software solutions and secure remote access for business and educational institutions for almost three decades.