The Inbound Myth

Inbound marketing is a topic that’s getting tons of attention these days, and for good reason: inbound has had a dramatic impact on the business landscape. The core of inbound is this: create valuable content for your prospects and put it in places (on social media, websites, publications, and search terms) where they hang out. You’ll establish your company as an expert in your industry and prospects will come to you, rather than you having to constantly drum up new leads. (you can check out a more complete definition here.)

The content creation and distribution aspects of inbound get most of the attention. But content alone isn’t a complete inbound strategy. This post will tell you what else you’ll need to create an inbound strategy that results in more sales.

The Difference Between Getting Leads And Making Sales

If you want to experience how a complete inbound strategy works, just watch the company that coined the term: Hubspot. If you go to HubSpot’s website or (more likely) do a search for an inbound marketing related topic, you’ll find their content. It’s extremely high quality and it’s everywhere: they check the box for both quality and quantity of content. And when you opt-in for one of their many whitepapers, software demos, or free tools on their site, you’ll start receiving information via email that educates you on the benefits of their products.

And here’s the part that might surprise you: you may also get a phone call from one of their salespeople. A phone call may seem old-school, or un-digital, or un-inbound, but they do it because it works. No matter how much great content is available from Hubspot, the company knows that prospects will need to be taken through a multi-stage, one-on-one sales process before they make the significant time and financial investment in the Hubspot software. Effective inbound marketers know that content is just the beginning of an effective strategy, it also requires a proactive sales process to turn inbound leads into actual sales.

A Few Tips For Turning Inbound Leads Into Sales

In a standard sales funnel framework, leads go in the top of the funnel, then they get qualified, educated and nurtured in the middle part of the funnel, and then they make a buying decision during the sales process (or bottom of the funnel). In inbound, content creation and distribution activities are the primary top of funnel lead generation activity. But if you want to effectively turn those leads into sales, you need activities to nurture those leads and initiate a buying decision from them. Here are few tips on how to do that:

  1. Newsletter and Lead Scoring: An effective and time-efficient way to educate your prospects and stay “top of mind” is to create an email newsletter or nurture campaign. You can reuse the content you’ve created from your inbound lead generation activities, and republish it in your newsletter. In addition, you can setup lead scoring in your email marketing tool, which “scores” your subscribers based on how often they click on your emails. This will allow you to systematically identify the prospects that are actively reading your emails, and provide more personalized attention to them.
  2. Prioritize and Personalize: When it comes to newsletters, you can add as many people as you want to your list (as long as they’ve given you permission to do so). But when it comes to personalized, high-touch relationship building, you can’t keep in touch with everyone. It can be valuable to prioritize a small number of high-potential prospects (say, a dozen or two) for high-touch, one-on-one outreach: personalized email or traditional mail, phone, informational meetings, etc. Pick a few prospects, keep in touch and be consistently helpful to build credibility and display your company’s expertise.
  3. Sales Process: Once a prospect has expressed interest in buying from you, it’s important to have a structured sales process to keep the conversation moving toward a buying decision (if you’ve ever had a prospective sale that drags on and on without resolution, you know how important this is). An understanding of how long it normally takes to make a sale, and the stages that the process goes through are valuable to know here. For instance, it’s common in professional services industries for the sales process to take about 90 days to go from start to finish, and to go through steps like these: (1) the prospect expresses interest, (2) you meet with prospect to get more details, (3) you create a proposal for the prospect, (4) you review the proposal with the prospect, (5) the prospect makes a buying decision (yes or no). Once you have a solid definition of your sales process, it becomes easier to proactive move prospects toward a buying decision, monitor and forecast how much new business is in your pipeline, and measure and improve your results.

Inbound marketing strategies are changing the way we do business. They’re displaying the value of high quality content, and they’re bringing new digital tools and metrics to bear. But an effective inbound strategy also involves many traditional sales and business development activities, too. To make more sales you’ll want to use them all.

Brian SheaBrian Shea is the founder of Shea Consulting, LLC, a company that helps agencies consistently execute their new business efforts. Shea Consulting puts systems and processes in place to help agencies keep their new business efforts organized, focused, and consistent over time. Since the early 2000’s, Brian has helped organizations improve their business development efforts through CRM, sales process improvement, and marketing automation. Find out more at our website, or subscribe to get more tips on building a simple process for making more sales.

3 KPIs to Track For Your Social Media Success

If you’re in business and you’re not harnessing the power of social media you need to jump on that bandwagon now. If you are using social media marketing as a channel to grow your business, awesome! But do you know how it’s working for your business?

You might be posting a video here or there to YouTube or some photos to Instagram. And you could be regularly posting to Facebook and Twitter, but if you’re not measuring how those social networks are working for you, and you’re not testing different approaches to maximize your results, you could be wasting valuable time.

But where do you start? There are so many metrics you could be measuring on social media, so let’s cull down the list and make sure that the most  important ones are at least being eyeballed.

Reach

Reach is defined as the number of people who could have seen your post. If you post a Tweet to Twitter and someone RTs your Tweet, your Tweet has the potential to be viewed not only by your followers but by their followers as well. So it’s important for you to get as much engagement on your posts as possible to spread the word. Reach is used as the denominator for the engagement rate metric (see below).

11.18.15 a

Photo Credit: Dasheroo

Consider the days when your posts got a spike in reach, assess the content and the time of day you posted and post more like this!

It’s important to have a large number of fans but avoid the scams of “buying a million followers for $25”. Those are typically fake accounts, and fake fans don’t interact with your content, it doesn’t matter how many you have.

If your reach increased in a day or two, dig into what type of content you may have posted to get that spike and create and post more of that content.

Engagement

Speaking of engagement, it’s our next metric! Engagement is defined differently across the various social networks but in general it’s the total number of interactions with your posts. Consider Comments, Likes, RTs, Mentions, Favorites, Clicks, Views and any other action someone can take on a post to be engagement.

11.18.15 b

Photo Credit: Dasheroo

See a spike in “Mentions?” Dig in and find out what type of content people are engaging with, if it’s beneficial for you engage back and post similar content!

Engagement happens when you post something interesting to your followers. Interesting things that tend to get more engagement are photos (ask for captions!), short videos (Vine), posing questions, memes, topical content (stay away from polarizing content) and timing (know when posts work) to name a few.

11.18.15 c

Photo Credit: Dasheroo

Does asking your Fans questions get the most response on your posts? You might consider using the question tactic to get people to respond. If they respond you’ll have an exponential group of people potentially seeing your posts.

For instance, try using images when you post to Twitter for an increase in engagement. And your Instagram posts should be a fun representation of who you are to get more likes, follows and comments. At Dasheroo our sticker makes its way around the world and posts awesome and fun content.

Also consider the following: the best time to post on Facebook is not the same as Twitter. Facebook posts perform best on Thursday and Friday, while Twitter updates are better received Monday through Friday. It might vary by industry and business.

Frequency of posts also lead to better engagement, but it depends on the social network. Since the life of a Tweet is so short you need to post multiple times a day, sometimes over 8! On Facebook, results have shown that posting more than 2x a day doesn’t increase engagement at all. So track engagement for this as well.

If you are posting for a week to multiple social networks, at the end of that week look across all of your engagement metrics. Look to see if one type of post (images vs. text vs. video) did better than others. Look for commonalities and gear your next week toward that type of content.

One important item on engagement, don’t forget about the engagement rate! You can take all of this engagement combined with your reach to get your engagement rate. Since as we’ve said, Reach is used as the denominator for this calculation. For instance if your content was potentially seen by 1000 people, and 20 people commented, 10 people shared, and 5 people liked:

20 + 10 + 5 / 1000 = 3.5% engagement rate

Now you can compare engagement rates across all of your social media marketing channels.

Website Traffic

You’ll of course want to track how many people are coming to your site from social networks if that’s where you’re sending folks! Using Google Analytics you can easily track which social networks are performing best.

11.18.15 d

Photo Credit: Dasheroo

This company saw a surge in LinkedIn traffic to the site, time to dig in.

And if you’ve got Goals set up in Google Analytics you can even track it all the way to a sale or whatever your call-to-action is.

Photo Credit: Dasheroo

This company tracked traffic from social network all the way to a sign-up on a form using Goals in Google Analytics!

Important to note: Google Analytics gives you visitors (Sessions) broken out by channel. One of the default channels is “Social” which is anyone who comes to your site from a social channel. But there is also a default channel labeled “Direct”. Keep an eye on this channel for those that don’t directly click a social link but remember your name and type it directly into the browser. If you’ve got a surge in social you might have the “hangover” effect and have a surge in your Direct channel as well.

So make sure you’re keeping an eye on one of the most important metrics you can track and close the loop on your sale!

Bottom Line?

It’s easy to be confused by what to track, especially at the beginning of your efforts! But if you start with these and keep your eye on them, test content and test different social networks you’ll be sure to get new business from social media!

johnJohn Hingley brings 20+ years of sales & online marketing expertise with analytics-driven decision making & business savvy to help dozens of companies like Softkey, The Learning Company, Mattel, Wine.com, Chandon & VerticalResponse gain market share.  He founded social media analytics company Andiamo Systems, acquired by Techrigy, Alterian and later HP. Currently John is a co-founder and CEO of Dasheroo, business dashboards done right. Now you can track all of your important business metrics from social networks, email marketing, web analytics and ecommerce in one place, free, see for yourself

How to Clean Up Your Data Wasteland

We live in a data-driven world. Even our most basic activities—like exercising and sleeping—have become subjects for tracking and analysis. With constant access to apps and technology that gather detailed information about our lives, it’s easy to become inundated with…

Read More