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In Sales & Marketing, Zero Dark Thirty is 30 Minutes Too Late

… or why the biggest sales problem businesses think they have isn’t the one they actually have!

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from a member of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network - Kurian M. Tharakan– Enjoy!
Zero Dark Thirty

Photo Credit: Zero Dark Thirty – IMDb

In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the US Navy Seal team raid on Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden’s house was conducted at 00:30, or thirty minutes past midnight. If that raid were a sales and marketing operation, zero dark thirty* would be thirty minutes too late!

Before I explain what I mean, let me provide some background. In the past few months I have consulted with numerous companies who believe they have a sales problem. However, in almost every situation the primary issue was identified as a marketing problem and not a sales problem. How did I determine this? By examining close ratios, or how many leads were converted into a sale. Although average close ratios vary by industry and market, if you are in a competitive environment and closing more than 15 – 25% of your QUALIFIED leads you are on the right track!

All of these clients were closing their fair share of the leads they were generating. They just weren’t generating enough QUALIFIED leads to pursue.

Lead Generation is a Marketing Function

In each situation above the sales team were expert closers but spent most of their non-sales time waiting for the phone to ring or following up on previous leads. Now some might say that these guys should be using their “spare” time prospecting for new leads, but, by definition, prospecting (lead generation) is a marketing function. Besides, these sales teams’ skills and expertise are best used to close sales, but their company’s marketing efforts were not producing enough qualified leads for them to pursue.

Now, Here’s the Big Problem

It’s estimated that up to 70% of the buying decision is made PRIOR to anyone even talking to a sales person. Today’s customer has numerous resources available to them, usually just a few mouse clicks away. By the time that they arrive at your sales desk the majority already have a preferred direction to go and are now seeking confirming or dis-confirming evidence to support their decision. If you have not positively biased their decision PRIOR to this contact point, YOU ARE AT A SEVERE DISADVANTAGE!

This is Time Point Zero Dark Zero

A properly functioning company will have a marketing process which creates qualified leads to HAND OFF to sales. Let’s name this crucial timeline juncture as zero dark zero. This is the point of truth where marketing delivers a “primed” prospect for sales to close. Primed is the key word. These are the prospects that have a preference to choose you from all of your competitors! If a company only STARTS their selling process AFTER zero dark zero WITHOUT HAVING PRIMED THEIR PROSPECT to choose them, they are at a severe disadvantage!

You Don’t Have a Sales Problem, You Have a Lead Generation Problem!

So, these clients don’t have a sales problem, they have a lead generation problem. All of their future revenue depends on their sales abilities with UNQUALIFIED, UNPRIMED prospects. But sales abilities can only go so far with prospects whose minds have already been 70% made up to travel in other directions!

If we were to put this into the context of Zero Dark Thirty the movie, the vast majority of the plot dealt with the CIA unearthing, tracking down, and qualifying leads on Bin Laden’s exact location. The seal team’s actual on the ground time was less than 38 minutes from entry to exit, but it took over 10 years of research to pinpoint the location to attack.

The First Step to Improving Sales is to Improve Lead Generation!

So, if the primary sales problem is actually a lead generation problem (marketing), what are some things you can try? Here’s a VERY BASIC list. Although not all of them will apply to your specific business, you should be using at least six on a consistent basis, with full measurement and tracking of the results. How many are you doing?

Website

  • Pay per click (e.g. Google Adwords)
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

 

Social Media

  • E-Mail marketing
  • Facebook
  • Industry specific social sites
  • Linkedin
  • Twitter
  • Etc.

 

Content Marketing

  • Blogging
  • eBooks
  • How to guides
  • Newsletters
  • Special reports
  • Video
Advertising

  • Billboards
  • Catalogs
  • Classified ads
  • Direct mail
  • Fax advertising
  • Flyers
  • Magazine
  • Radio
  • TV

 

Other

  • Joint Ventures
  • Press Releases
  • Pro bono work
  • Publicity
  • Seminars
  • Speaking
  • Sponsorships
  • Trade shows
  • Webinars
  • Workshops

*technically, in military terms zero dark thirty does not reference a specific time of day, but is slang for the very early morning.
StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors

 

 

Kurian M. TharakanAbout the Author – Kurian M. Tharakan
Kurian Mathew Tharakan is a Sales & Marketing Consultant, Speaker & Facilitator, and founder of the marketing strategy firm StrategyPeak Sales & Marketing Advisors. Prior to StrategyPeak, Mr. Tharakan was vice-president sales & marketing for an Alberta based software firm where his team achieved notable wins with several members of the US Fortune 500. Previous to his software experience, Mr. Tharakan directed the sales and marketing programs for the Alberta practice of an international professional services firm.

30 Tips for Great Digital Marketing

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

Tips-great-digital-marketing-ducttapemarketingA man walks into a bar/restaurant/hotel/car repair shop. Chances are, he found it online. That’s because today’s consumers, 80% according to Google, rely more on the Web to find and choose local businesses.

So how do you make sure that these consumers find and choose your local business? By using a mix of these four strategies for great digital marketing: search advertising, webSite, search engine optimization, and social media. Here are 30 tips to get you going.

 

Search Advertising Tips

1. Identify and follow the rules of Bing, Yahoo!, and Google search ads before running your campaign as all have slightly different formats.

2. Optimize the URL displayed in your search ad so that it’s relevant to the product or service you are promoting.

3. Include target keywords in your headlines and copy that either match or closely match the keywords you bid on in order to boost the chance that your ad appears for those terms.

4. Write strong calls to action for your search ads that directly state what you want consumers to do. For example “Contact for a Free Estimate” or “Get a 50% Coupon.”

5. When using a click-to-call extension, consider using a tracking number so that you can identify and measure which ads perform the best.

6. Don’t spend precious text ad character count on your business name. It should already be in your optimized URL.

7. Do capitalize the first letter of major words in your ad. Don’t (read “NEVER”) go crazy with all caps.

8. Should you use correct punctuation in text ads? Yes! It just makes good sense.

9. Using trademarks in text ad copy is a no-no unless, of course, you own them. You can, however, bid on terms relevant to your business.

10. DUUA (don’t use unknown abbreviations). While it could pique the interest of a few searchers, why take that chance?

Website Tips

11. If you haven’t updated your website since 2010, do it now. A clean, modern design is key in digital marketing, plus it ensures that you meet today’s best practices and Web standards.

12. Make your website mobile-friendly! The 2014 Local Search Study results indicate that nearly 80% of local mobile searches end in a purchase. This is a big audience you shouldn’t ignore.

13. Accurately complete your site’s metadata (title tags, descriptions, alt text, etc.). Not doing so can negatively impact your visibility on SERPs.

14. A business blog is a winning addition to your website. It can help boost your site’s SEO, set you apart from the competition, and demonstrate your knowledge and expertise. It’s a win-win situation.

15. In order to get found by local consumers, you need to optimize your site with local information like your address and geo-targeted keywords.

Search Engine Optimization

16. Having a business blog is useless if you don’t regularly create and promote original and sharable content to help prove relevance and therefore rank in search engines.

17. Enable share buttons on your blog so that readers can easily post your content to their social media pages and drive visitors back to your website.

18. Optimize your Google+ Local page to help your business name, phone number, location, and even opening hours show up in Google Maps and Google’s local search results.

19. Much like Google+ Local, Yelp is platform to complete and post information about your business. More importantly, it helps feed Apple Maps with local business results.

20. Include geo-specific keywords, such as your city, neighborhood, and zip codes, in your website, blog, and even social media copy to appear in search results for these terms.

19. Don’t only promote blog posts once. Repurpose them as engaging images, quotes, or questions in order to generate additional views, shares, and subject relativity.

21. Getting backlinks from influencers and other industry-related websites that have already established credibility are great for building your own authority and driving more visits back to your site.

23. Enable Google Authorship to help build your personal brand. By establishing yourself as a subject matter expert, you can share your own content, generate more shares, and drive more website visits.

22. Since positive reviews rank in search engine results, generate positive reviews with high rankings to help persuade consumers to choose your business.

26. Once you receive positive reviews, promote them on your website and social media sites so that consumers who search for you business on social sites or local directories see the great things others say about your business.

25. Images can help sell your business, and they also rank in search engines. Don’t name your images “photo.jpg,” and instead name them more descriptively, add alt text, or captions on your website to help images show up in search results.

Social Media

27. Think, review, and review again before you make a social media post or comment. The ability to easily take screenshots makes it difficult to take back a social media mistake.

28. Since your employees also represent your brand, both in person and online, implement a social media policy that at the least permits them from sharing internal information.

29. Before you jump on a trending hashtag, make sure you know the origin of it. Not doing so can potentially cause social media regrets.

30. Like it or not, you “share” your brand on social media. And since consumers can start good and bad conversations about you, make sure to set up alerts that notify you of new mentions, comments, or messages.

Tara Banda Duct Tape MarketingTara Banda is a brand-builder, copywriter, and social media marketer in Dallas, TX. She has worked with businesses of all sizes — from Fortune 500 companies to local non-profits to startups — to define their voice, promote their brand online through digital marketing, and build lasting relationships with fans and advocates.  Tara is a currently a Content Marketing Manager at ReachLocal. In her spare time, she is obsessed with learning recipes for international cuisines. You can learn more about her on LinkedIn or Twitter.

 

Bridging the Small Business Marketing Gap

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

customer-relationship-management

photo credit: abdevlabs.com

Email marketing and marketing automation software often fails to achieve business goals of enhancing revenue and profitability, creating a “marketing gap” for businesses.

This is a particular challenge for startups and small businesses that have fewer internal resources and more immediate business demands.

The problem can be traced to concerns over lack of time, limited internal marketing resources, the complexity of managing the ongoing program, the absence of training and guidance from vendors, and frustration with disappointing results, but these organizations can bridge this gap by understanding some of the basic steps that will help them achieve more effective use of marketing automation and email marketing investments, and a better focus on the areas of focus for these technologies.

There are four distinct areas of focus for email marketing and marketing automation: Collecting, Connecting, Converting and Circulating

Collecting

Here businesses need to look at the ways they are presently acquiring leads, contacts and, in some cases, front-end sales. Some collecting strategies include landing page optimization/split-testing, opt-in form variations and drop-down segmentation, outbound lead generation campaign design.

Best Practice: Maintain a vigilant split-testing regimen on all major landing pages that involve email capture functionality. Any web page responsible for substantial lead-flow should be split-tested.

Connecting

Here organizations need to build the best possible initial relationship with their prospects through automated follow-up sequences and communication calibrated by prospect type and behavior. Some connecting strategies include customer avatars and customer profiles (purchase motives, etc.), analytics for email open and click-through rates, split-testing of email sequences and subject lines.

Best Practice: Segment email subscribers and leads (from white papers, etc…) early, not late. If you can segment prospects effectively, you can communicate to them in a more relevant way (by business size, by goals, by industry, etc…), your emails can drive much better results in terms of engagement, appointments / sales.

Converting

Business should be working to leverage email and automation strategies to assist customers in making their first significant step forward with the organization’s business. Some converting strategies include appointment form split-testing, landing or sales page split-testing, offer and campaign construction.

Best Practices: It’s important to be able to quantify what a “conversion” is in your business. If you sell online, you may want email marketing to directly drive sales (very measurable). If you sell in person, email should usually be responsible for settling up appointments (also quite measurable).

Circulating

Organizations should be looking to continue relationship-building with customers and/or prospects. Some circulating strategies include determination of broadcast regiments, long-term customer lifetime value mapping and optimization (“deep” campaigns as an alternative to neglecting past prospects and customers), “newsletter” segmentation, and testing methods engineered to refine communication for long-term engagement.

Best Practices: The “vanilla” newsletter is the same, bland message that goes out monthly to all your contacts. It is a thing of the best. If you do keep a newsletter, segment it into categories of relevance, such as “customer,” “past customer,” and “prospect,” and speak to those groups individually.

While these strategies may seem foreign to some, there are real-world many examples of smaller organizations that mastered marketing automation and email marketing and as a result, uncovered areas of improvement that deliver significant yields by more efficiently and productively managing projects of high priority to their business.

It all begins with understanding the steps necessary to bridge the “marketing gap” and if help is needed to navigate this journey, there are those who could guide – all businesses need to do is stop and ask for directions.

Dan Headshot100x100Dan Faggella is the founder and CEO of CLVboost, a marketing consultancy based in Cambridge, MA, that works with businesses to help them realize their growth potential by maximizing new and existing marketing technologies. Dan is a sought-after speaker on this topic at Internet marketing events, startup conferences and business workshops across the US, and he has been featured on media channels like MIXERGY and GrowthHacker.TV.  Dan is also founder of TechEmergence, an online community and strategic resource supporting the work of startups, researchers, investors and others focused on technology that has the potential to alter human potential.

 

Are Your Words Killing Your Brand?

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

Are Your Words Killing Your Brand

photo credit: BigStock

While there are hundreds of definitions of the word “brand,” my favorites come from the World English Dictionary. As a noun: “a particular product or a characteristic that serves to identify a particular product.” And as a verb: “to give a product a distinctive identity.”

Most of us keep our brands in mind as we develop product packaging or choose color schemes for websites. However, all too often, we arbitrarily pick words when writing marketing copy and content without so much as a thought about branding. Generic word choices fail to evoke an emotional connection and attachment to our brands that, in turn, can actually harm recognition and growth.

Good Examples of Brand-Oriented Words

Let’s watch a couple of videos and I’ll show you what I mean. Have a pen or keyboard handy and jot down the words that catch your attention or make an impression on you.

Video #1 – Gillette Body Razor

Did your list contain these words/phrases?

  • Terrain
  • Rugged
  • Control
  • Off-road razor
  • Take you where you want to go
  • Confidently

What do they all have in common? They are words commonly classified as masculine/manly. They give a visual impression of a man’s body that this target audience will want to be associated with. Sure, Gillette could have written video copy that said something like, “Trying to shave your body is way different than shaving your face, dude. You’ve got all those curves and you can cut yourself if you aren’t careful. Our new body razor pivots and makes it easier to shave across uneven surfaces.”

That would be accurate, but it wouldn’t live up to the brand. That type of copy also wouldn’t get anywhere near the same reaction as calling a guy’s body “rugged terrain” that requires an “off-road razor” for shaving. The copy is specific to the brand as well as the precise target segment for this product.

Video #2 – USAA Insurance

Right away, from the first words spoken, I picked up on the phrases:

  • Mine was earned
  • Handed down
  • Generation to generation
  • Superior level of protection

 

To wrap it up, the voiceover copy used “begin your legacy…”

What do those phrases say to you? For me, I get the message that USAA insurance isn’t just bought, it has to be warranted. Because USAA only provides insurance to military families and their dependents, you have to be part of a somewhat exclusive club. That immediately adds value to any brand because it separates the company from the mass marketplace.

In addition, the terms “handed down,” “generation to generation” and “legacy” show that this product has value and is worthy of being considered an inheritance of sorts. That boosts the perception of this brand instantly.

Is this practice just for video copywriting? Absolutely not! It’s for writing website copy, social media posts, blog articles or any other type of content you produce. Your brand, and the words that represent it, should stretch fully across the entire landscape of your marketing efforts.

Do This Before You Kill Your Brand

Performing this quick exercise will help you discover the best words to support and promote your brand. Once you have a good idea of the communication style you want to use, you can boost all your marketing copy and content with more power to persuade, engage and remember.

1. Determine How You Want Your Brand to Be Known

Create a list of words/phrases that should come to the minds of your target audience when they hear the mention of your brand.

2. Get a Copywriting Thesaurus

Books like “Words that Sell” by Richard Bayan are excellent for giving you different, enticing words to use, so your copy doesn’t sound ordinary.

3. Ask Yourself Questions

How do your target customers perceive themselves? Are they stereotypical manly men? Are they power women who kick corporate butt? Whatever it is, add to your list words/phrases that relate to their world in the areas of work, play, relationships, goals, self-perceptions, etc.

As you discover more about your customers, expand your list of words so you have a never-ending source of nouns and verbs that capture attention and remembrance for your brand.

Karon-black-150pxKaron Thackston is President of Marketing Words helping businesses convert better, rank higher and sell more. Having worked with companies including Gorton’s Seafood, American Boating Association and others, Karon builds success through copywriting, SEO copywriting and conversion techniques for businesses of all sizes. Download Karon’s “Copywriting Makeovers” ebook for real-world case studies that can equip you to boost the performance of your website.

Gambling with Facebook Ads: How to Win Against a Stacked Deck

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

ducttape-oCPM-screenshot“Facebook Ads is just like gambling! I got this rush every time I looked and saw that my numbers had gone up again!”

Not everyone has this reaction to Facebook ads, especially their first time out of the gate. Running paid campaigns can also bring about that crushing disappointment of gambling: your money runs out and you’ve got nothing to show for it.

But you have a lot more control over the results of Facebook ads than at the Blackjack table, so this investment could be the very risk your business should be taking.

Put List Building on Autopilot

List building is one of the easiest (and cheapest) pieces of marketing to turn over to Facebook Ads. It isn’t hard to entice people to click on an ad that offers something of value to them, especially if it’s free. A collection of 50 green smoothie recipes? Yes, please.  A free guide to getting bumped up to business class on every flight? Hook me up. Even if I’m on Facebook just to procrastinate or see what friends are up to, I’ll click on your ad if it offers me something useful.

And when you combine a compelling ad with a great landing page that converts – You just hit list building pay dirt. You can use ads to drive traffic to your landing page around the clock! But make sure you pay attention to the right numbers before you even launch your campaign.

The “Fine Print” of Running Facebook Ads

It’s important to remember that Facebook is the dealer here. He knows how to wrangle your chips away from you, even if it still seems like you’re winning. Let me give you an example:

One of the best ads to run is the Promoted Page Post ad. These ads can show up in your Newsfeed with the little word “Sponsored” at the top and bottom. If you don’t spot that “Sponsored” word, you can easily confuse these ads for posts from pages you forgot you liked in the past.  You can comment on this ad, like it, share, and click on the photo if it has one.

So let’s say you’re showing me a hilarious photo of a hipster cat with glasses. Chances are I’m going to click on that photo to see it full-size. Then maybe I notice your image caption talking about funny cat videos, and a link.  The hope is that I click on the link and head over to your site.

Here’s the catch, though: Facebook just charged you for 2 clicks. It doesn’t matter whether I sign up for your cat-laden newsletter, or if I ever return to your site again. You get billed for both of those clicks.

This may seem like nothing when you’ve got a super high CTR (click-through-rate) and these clicks are costing you $0.33 each.  But imagine that for every click through to your landing page, you’re paying for 2 clicks ($0.66). And you have an opt-in conversion rate of 25%, meaning 1 out of every 4 people who visit actually sign up for your newsletter.

So you spend 2 x 4 x 0.33 for one email sign-up: $2.64.

This is not necessarily a bad cost-per-conversion. It is, however, far from the $0.33 cost-per-click that Facebook had you focusing on.

“How can I keep my cost-per-conversion down?”

There are a few ways, but the easiest is to use Facebook’s Optimized CPM (oCPM) bidding option. This means that Facebook will show your ad to people who are more likely to take a specific action based on their previous behavior on Facebook. So if you want to get people to like your page, you choose that option and Facebook will supposedly make it happen. If you want people to click through to your website and check it out, maybe read a blog post, you can choose to have the ad optimized for link clicks. If you want someone to go from seeing your ad to signing up for your list, you choose the “website conversion” option.

“But Optimized CPM gives me a crazy expensive Cost Per Mille!”

It looks that way. Compared to those ultra-cheap cost-per-click numbers you’re used to seeing, a $12 CPM (or cost per 1,000 impressions) looks like it’s Facebook’s way of hitting you where it hurts, and hard.

But before you go back to CPC bidding, you have to do the math.

Let’s go back to the earlier example where your cost-per-click was $0.33, and you needed four people clicking on your ad twice to nail one email sign-up. You’re paying $2.64 per conversion.

If Optimized CPM shows your ad to people who are more likely to opt in to your newsletter, the conversion rate on your landing page should get a bump. If that bump can bring your cost-per-conversion down to less than $2.64, who cares how much your Cost Per Mille is?

So give Optimized CPM a try for your next lead generation campaign. In order to choose this option you’re going to need to have conversion tracking set-up and use the Power Editor to choose all the correct options.

Enjoy the rush of watching your list grow and even the sweet agony brought about by a painfully-low CTR. Don’t go all in on your first campaign – there are so many different ways you can “win” by testing out different versions of your ads.

And stay away from using photos of cats in your ads – there really is such thing as ad images that are too good.

cp-bio-photoClaire Pelletreau is a Facebook ads consultant and confessed conversion junkie. She’s been playing with Facebook ads since 2011 and sharpened her skills running paid campaigns for Laura Roeder’s five and six-figure launches. Now she applies everything she learned to helping other small businesses bring in more subscribers and sales than they ever imagined.

Get more bang for your advertising buck – click here to grab Claire’s free step-by-step guide to list building with Facebook ads!

 

10 Ways to Build Your Email List – the Right Way

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

DTM 10 email bunskoek header

photo credit: Flickr

Think email marketing is dead? Think again. Last year alone, 44% of email recipients actually admitted to making a purchase based on promotional email they received.

Email is one of the most personal, customizable forms of online marketing. And it works.

As smart marketers and small business owners, we’re always looking for better ways to build our email lists with qualified leads.

10 ways to generate leads from your website

1. Coupons

Retail consumers love to get a great deal. Set-up email-gated coupons through your website to generate qualified leads (and get immediate sales too.) By giving away coupons related directly to your products, you’ll only attract prospects who are interested in your particular wares.

2. Contests and Sweepstakes

DTM 10 email bunskoek vote contest

Example of a Vote Contest to increase engagement and get email leads

I like to win, you like to win – your customers like to win too. Host an email-gated contest directly on your website. Use sweepstakes to both promote your business (by giving away a business related prize) and generate leads.

Use contests like photo contests, photo caption contests and vote contests to make your website more engaging. You win by getting user-generated content, consumer input – and emails.

3. Free Product Catalogues

Do you have a PDF catalogue of your products? Upload it to your website. Set up a simple lead generation landing page to enable interested buyers to download it for free (in exchange for an email and name) whenever they want.

4. Free eBook

DTM 10 email bunskoek ebook

John Jantsch offers his knowledgeable marketing advice in his must-read free ebooks

These days you’re likely blogging. If you’re blogging the right way, you’ve got a series of informative or interesting articles related to your business.

Take 5-10 well written articles and turn them into a valuable resource for your market. Give the ebook away for free through an email-gated landing page.

5. Free Trial

Let your prospective customer test out your goods. Give away a free trial for a limited time period – all for the mere cost of an email. A free trial attracts warm leads who are just ripe to nurture into new buyers. Use the emails to send out timely, personal messages to reel them in.

6. Free Quote or Appraisal

If you offer customized pricing, get email leads by setting up a distinct “free quote” landing page. Make it easy for your website visitors to take their interest in you to the next level. Set up an email-gated form on your site to catch those leads, warm them with your charm (and price) and get the sale.

7. Personalized Consultation

DTM 10 email Bunskoek demo

Businesses like Wishpond offer free personalized demos

If you’ve got a slick sales team (even if that’s just you), a live one-on-one consultation can close the deal. It can also give you very warm emails to keep the relationship going. A lead gen consultation page is a must for your business.

8. Live Webinar

Live, free webinars give you the chance to connect and engage with genuinely interested customers. Webinars show your customers that you’re willing to share your expertise for free – and that you know what you’re talking about.

They take a bit of prep time and you have to make a new webinar for each lead gen opportunity. Maximize your lead generation by recording a series of email-gated webinars.

9. How-to Guides

Want to educate your market and be seen as the helpful knowledgeable business leader? Write a number of free how-to guides related to your product or service.  Give them away for free on your website through an email-gated landing page.

10. Pre-launch Engagement

If you’re starting a new business or product offering, a key tactic I’ve successfully used is the “launching soon” landing page. Generate emails by marketing your products and giving pre-signups sneak peeks, special deals and engagement opportunities (such as product name contests, logo vote contests or ebook cover contests). Send out emails to keep the relationship – and excitement – building.

Building your email list is the foundation to business success. Try out one or ten of these tactics for your website. Let me know how you do.

Got more email lead generation tips?

 

Krista Bunskoek headshotKrista Bunskoek is a Content Marketer at Wishpond. Wishpond makes simple tools for epic online marketing campaigns. She’s written a number of online marketing ebooks like Google AdWords for Small Business and Website Contests and Promotions. You can reach Krista through her twitter handle @kbunskoek or her Google+ page.

How to Be Everywhere Through Marketing Automation Magic

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

marketing-automation-stairs

photo credit: Jiuck cc

When marketing your business you have a lot of ends to meet. Your goal should always be to systemize your marketing campaigns in a way that their success is repeatable and the process can be carried out by almost anyone. And since you do not want to do the same work over again and again you need to implement processes and systems that automate the technical and operational parts of your marketing efforts as much as possible.

1. Automate Lead Generation, at least a little bit

To automate the lead generation process would be a dream come true for every business. This step is the one where mostly manual labor is necessary. But you can systemize the processes that you need to go through in order to create a new lead generation campaign or landing page on your website and test it so that it is almost automated.

Reduce your time spent from the first campaign idea to a finished landing page by using tools that allow you implement quickly and change settings with ease.

In order to test out ideas for landing pages and their variations you can use tools like Unbounce or LeadPages to create a landing page from an idea within minutes and implement it without any programming knowledge. With their built in analytics you can easily see what works and what doesn’t.

On the backend you will need some kind of email marketing automation tool that lets you automatically segment your leads depending on the source.

2. The Mother of Automated Marketing – Perfect Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing is one of the most powerful but mostly overlooked marketing tactic that can be automated to almost 100%. It seems like everybody knows that having a newsletter is important. But what about an automated series of emails that give the recipient value, draw him closer to your brand and eventually make him buy your product?

You will keep potential customers engaged and informed over a period of weeks or months  without any extra investment of your time, 100% automated.

Services like aweber or mailchimp can be used by anyone without any technical knowledge; self-hosted tools like sendy need some technical knowledge to set up but are a lot cheaper.

3. Automate you Social Media Activities and Appear Everywhere

Like with any other marketing efforts you need to find the right balance between automation and manual engagement with your customers. In order to create an efficient social media marketing process you need to have the right automation tools.

You need to set up an automated system so that you do not need to post your message to every social media platform available. Instead you should use a service that lets you post to all services at once. You can use services that are designed exactly for that like buffer or create your custom social media distribution process with automation tools like zapier or ifttt.

The rest of the time you will need to monitor your social media activities, which can also be automated pretty easy. There are several tools to manage your social media analytics. With tools like twittaquitta where you can monitor all your unfollowers you can easily get insights into you social media campaigns without doing any manual analyzing.

4. Active Customer Communication in a Fraction of the Time

Communicating with your customers is a vital but time consuming task. There are however processes that you can implement which streamline customer communication. You will still need to actively communicate with you customers, but will be able to do it in a fraction of the time and have time for other important things.

Instead of repeating email texts over and over you should use text expander programs (Lh Texter; TextExpander). With a simple shortcut you can insert repetitive text blocks into your mails and save a ton of time.

An extensive and regularly updated FAQ section on you website will also save you a lot of typing and trouble.

5. It does not Stop with The Campaign – Automate you Analytics 

In order to fully automate your marketing efforts you will also need to have an automated analytics process. For many tasks a combination of Google Analytics can be used. By creating custom events for your relevant tasks you can get a fully automated report for every landing page or email campaign that you send out.

All tools that you need are out there, mostly free. Start setting up your marketing machine today to reap the benefits in the time to come. 

Portrait_JMAJan is the co-founder of TempoTrac time tracking, an application that helps you get your work time under control and blogs on business, social media and productivity hacks.

Marketing Automation: What is it and Why Should I Care?

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

 

Marketing AutomationMarketers, meet your secret weapon: marketing automation. Only recently, has this underutilized method of demand generation been brought to the forefront of public attention. Marketing automation has slowly become a go-to buzzword in the marketing world but what does it really mean and more importantly, how can it help your business?

For starters, marketing automation refers to technology that allows marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple online channels (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. In its most ideal state, marketing automation provides you with a platform to efficiently deliver engaging content that turns prospects into customers and then follow up with personalized messaging that keeps those customers coming back.

What Marketing Automation Means to Marketers

Marketing automation means two huge things for marketers: conversion and attribution. First we’ll look at its success converting leads. According to a study by The Aberdeen Group, companies that use marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates than non-users, and an annualized revenue growth rate 3.1% higher than non-users of marketing automation platforms.

Marketing AutomationSounds good, right? It gets better. Marketing automation solves the marketers age-old problem of attributing marketing spend to earned revenue. Because these platforms typically feature CRM integration, lead activity within marketing efforts can be directly tracked from campaign inception to lead conversion. In fact, companies that use marketing automation are 3 times more likely than companies without automation to track and attribute their content-marketing efforts to multiple touchpoints.*

The ‘Automation’ in Marketing Automation

Despite marketing automation’s capacity to generate increased revenue and attribute that revenue to your marketing team’s efforts, many people seem to overlook one key fact: in order for marketing automation to be successful, you have to have something to automate. Think of marketing automation as the hyper-efficient delivery vehicle between the programs you already have in place and your audience. It won’t create the content for you but with it, you can build the most effective route by which to push your content. The following are examples of programs that can be integrated into your marketing automation strategy:

  • Content Marketing: Today’s consumers don’t respond to conventional “Mad Men” style marketing and advertising tactics; instead, they respond to engaging, informative content that speaks to them and not at them. By distributing content that engages your audience, you’re not only satiating their appetite for information, but you’re also working towards the end result of creating a connection with these potential buyers and ideally, driving them closer to a sale.
  • Email Marketing: Does your organization already employ use of email marketing? Although it might not seem like much, even something as simple as a monthly newsletter can be engineered to drive optimal engagement. With marketing automation you can create any number of follow up actions based on how a lead interacts with an original email. This brings us to…
  • Lead Nurturing: This process of educating and staying fresh on the minds of prospects who aren’t yet ready to buy allows you to turn otherwise cold leads into added revenue. Lead nurturing can take many forms, from personalized, Happy Birthday emails to reengagement campaigns.

The possibilities for customizing your marketing automation pipeline are limited only by your organization’s capacity to do so and while it may take some heavy legwork to initially set up, don’t be intimidated. Marketing automation can save you time and money while converting more leads by simply utilizing the programs you already have in place.

*(The Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups, 2013 Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness Study, Nov 2013)

Scott ThomasScott Thomas is the founder and president of the Intelechy Group, an Austin-based revenue growth agency. Scott has spent more than two decades driving highly profitable revenue for industry leaders such as AT&T, Dell, AMD and SAP. Intelechy Group specializes in Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy & Development, Brand & Market Positioning, Demand Generation and an array of marketing services that propel organizations to become revenue and profit leaders in their marketplaces.