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Social Media Marketing for Lead Generation

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

photo credit: whoohoo120 on Flickr

photo credit: whoohoo120 on Flickr

Let’s say you’ve devised the perfect marketing strategy for your small business, a photograph business. It involves placing ads in papers and passing out business cards. The business comes in, and for a while things are good. After a few more months, however, it seems that the leads have dried up. You’ve had nothing but success at the events you’ve done thus far, but fewer people are responding. So what do you do? Make a new plan, Stan, and it should probably involve social media. Look, I’m not saying your marketing strategy doesn’t have potential, but if you’re not using social media to generate leads, you’re missing out on an opportunity to reach a huge market. Not convinced? Lend me your ear…

Tides Have Changed

facebook

photo credit: Flickr

Now more than ever, there has been a dramatic shift on social media from being purely a community to being a viable market. Here your customers sit, just waiting for you to reach them and tell them why they need you at their next bar mitzvah. Small businesses are using social media to create a brand for themselves, making them almost instantly recognisable. Through posts, tweets, pictures and videos, they’re encouraging conversations about their products and services. Social media also makes your company appear more personable. Your customers will feel like they can approach you, ask you questions and potentially pass your name on to their friends.

Content Leads to Leads

In recent years, social media has come away from the community builder aspect and become more of a lead generation and content publishing platform for small businesses. This encourages them to become content publishers, writing blogs and posting photographs in order to further connect with the customer. professional-photographer-blogIt works like this: The photographer might show off his or her expertise in a blog explaining the rule of thirds or the best time to use outdoor lighting. He or she then posts the article to the company website and begins posting the link on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, along with an accompanying photo on Instagram. The followers then read the post, comment and even share it with their friends. The photographer has reached out to more people, who probably have a relative or friend who needs a photographer for an event. The content helps potential clients view the photographer as an expert, and they’ll be more likely to trust the service provider. The links on the various social media sites help point back to the business website, bettering the link profile. Sure, community is a great aspect of social media, but just having people “like” your page just isn’t enough. You have to keep them engaged with new and original content, questions in posts and photographs that will provoke a positive response.

Get Out the Measuring Tape

photo credit: Google Analytics

photo credit: Google Analytics

It is now so much easier to measure social media’s return on investment (ROI). After you establish the goals you want to reach, such as clicked links, filled-out contact sheets or booking dates for events, you need to define a strategy to reach them and find a way to track your progress. Check out these programs:

  • Simply Measured
  • Google Analytics
  • Socialbakers
  • Rival IQ
  • Zumm

These tools (and others) will help you see your social media efforts in action. You’ll be able to see what is working, what isn’t and what you can do to change that. Some companies rely heavily on paid advertisements, such as Google Adwords or Facebook Ads, and it’s true, they can be very useful. Their value, however, should come from the number of clicks back to your website, and if they aren’t doing that, they’re not really worth it. The possibilities are endless with social media and landing page marketing. Who knows? A social media shift might just lift your small business out of a marking slump.

Michael Bird

Michael Bird is Co-Founder and Director of Strategy at Social Garden, a Social Media Marketing, Content Development, and SEO Agency based in Melbourne, Australia. You can connect with Mike on Google+, Twitter, or click through to check out Social Garden’s Blog.

SEO Blended Copy: Dos and Don’ts for Boosting Your Website’s Organic Discoverability

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

Duct-tapeThese days, it’s all about organic: organic produce, organic pressed-juice, holistic baby diapers made from all-organic materials – the list goes on. So, it should come as no shock the role that organic SEO plays in your website’s discoverability, even over paid alternatives like pay-per-click. In fact, 70-80% of Internet users ignore paid ads, focusing instead on organic search results.

Intimidating to some, boosting your website’s organic discoverability is easier than you might think. Just remember, if content is king then keywords are the crowned jewels.  The following are a few crucial ‘dos and don’ts’ all businesses need to consider when looking to optimize their organic SEO.

Don’t: Assume the phrase “keyword” translates to “one word.”

Do: Assign natural phrases as your keywords

By strategically assigning keywords to the pages of your website, you are essentially anticipating all of the different search variations that could and should lead users to your website. Don’t make the mistake of taking the term “keywords” literally though. Incorporate a series of natural phrases into your keyword strategy. Ask yourself – How would you search for your site?

Don’t: Randomly sprinkle keywords throughout your website copy.

Do: Utilize targeted keywords.

Unless you’re looking to get on Google’s bad-list, don’t just assign keywords without incorporating them into the various elements of your website. This doesn’t mean sporadically using a keyword here and there. In fact, there are several crucial areas that Google looks at specifically for keyword integration: Page title, page headline, body copy, meta description and links, both internal and external.

Don’t: Overload keywords in your website copy.

Do: Create engaging content and naturally integrate keywords.

There’s an art to determining the appropriate keyword density % of your keyword-blended copy. While there is really no magic number for keyword density, there is one guiding light: Good content will always beat SEO. With that said, it stands to reason that if you drown your copy in keywords at the sake of flow and cohesiveness, your ranking will probably take a tumble. Instead, focus on writing engaging content while seizing opportunities to naturally introduce keywords into your copy.

Keywords alone does not a successful SEO strategy make, however. While it is a large driver of your organic search results, there are other key areas that can further help boost your websites discoverability.

Be Mobile

Mobile-browsing usage is set to bypass desktop browsing within the year so your organization’s website design is more important than ever. Because your SEO relies heavily on your website’s engagement, it’s important to choose a responsive or mobile friendly design that will cater to your mobile audience’s experience.

Get Down with Google

It’s no shock that Google looks favorably upon those who actively use their ancillary services. An easy way to start doing this is to actively use and maintain a Google+ page. Also, if your business has a blog, you’ll want to set up Google Authorship so that your writers’ work can start to help boost your site’s credibility and ultimately, search ranking.

Stay Social

Never underestimate the power of social in you SEO strategy. Your organization’s social pages are a huge source of potential traffic for your website. Create and share engaging, original content as part of your social strategy, and always remember to link back to your website.

mariaorozovamod (2)Maria Orozova is the President and Creative Director of The MOD Studio, a boutique marketing & design agency based in Austin and the powerhouse behind many local and national brands. Together, Maria and the MOD Marketing and Development team build a strategic and dynamic mix of consumer and B2B clients. For more information on building a successful SEO strategy, visit: www.themodstudio.com

 

Using Forums to Market New Products and Services to Existing Customers

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

proboardsBusinesses of all stripes are always looking for new customers to buy their products or services. However, sometimes businesses ignore the best place to look for new sales:  through customers who have already purchased products and services in the past.  Tapping into your existing customers to boost your sales is smart because you’ve already done the hardest part of the sales cycle with them:  you made that first sale.

The easiest path to new sales is often found through those who have already made a decision to buy from you.  The key is getting a sense of how the products are perceived by customers, how the services are used, and what add-on or upsell products and services are a good fit to market new offerings to an existing customer base.

Internet Forums

One of the best tools for learning more about customers who already use your products and services is social media, with Internet forums being one of the more dependable tools for gathering information.

According to a 2012 study by Awareness, a marketing firm based in Burlington, Mass., one-third of marketers are looking to social media and Internet forums as the platform of choice to reach customers.  Nativo, a content marketing firm in Long Beach, Calif., says 20 percent of Americans use forums to discuss and recommend products.  Nearly two-thirds of women in online forums make product recommendations on these boards.

Marketing to customers via an Internet forum delivers this proven path and helps ensure success by enabling a series of regular and intimate communications between the company and the customer. Spending time on Internet forums where your customers can be found often reveals relevant marketing information about products in demand, services used, strengths of competitive offerings, and weaknesses in products or services offered by a competitor.  This sort of intelligence is ideal for putting together a sales pitch on new or related products and services, or to make a compelling offer to customers of your chief competition in order to acquire new customers who were unhappy with their offering.

Internet forums also help to build customer loyalty. The seeds you plant today, through the intimate two-way communication forums provide, help make products better and allow the company to fix potential problems, while ensuring product launches are more successful — just by leveraging the loyalty built through the regular interactive engagement with your customers.

Spend some time finding out which forums your customers read regularly and do some “lurking” where you read each post and response without actively participating.  Take careful notes.  Identify current customers on the forum.  From their posts and comments, what other products or services would improve their experience with your company based on the first purchase they made?  Do they offer advice to others buying similar products or do they warn prospects about the purchase they made from you?

Stay in Touch

If you detect something is wrong, you can proactively contact them and fix the problem.  If it’s a competitive offering, how does your product or service address the shortcomings of the competitive solution?  Can you put together a program to encourage these customers to try your company?

Internet forums provide a great way to stay in touch with your customer base.  But there are some “rules of the road” for participating in a forum and using it for marketing purposes.  Follow them or you could risk being banned by the forum staff:

  • Develop a good profile so forum participants know who you are.  Make yourself approachable.  Make sure there is contact information so it makes you accessible to your customers and prospects.
  • Introduce yourself to the forum members in the appropriate section.
  • Be smart about commenting; never insult a poster.
  • If you are alerted to a problem, play a role in getting it resolved; encourage other posters to ask you questions.
  • Make valuable contributions to the forum; provide good information.  Don’t spread rumors or make bold claims.  Be helpful and humble.  Be objective.
  • Don’t hard sell new products and services when you make a new post, and always expose any biases you have.  It’s great to help people who have questions, it’s bad to spam.

Patrick Clinger Headshot - 300dpi-jpg 05-16-13Patrick Clinger is founder and CEO of ProBoards, the world’s largest host of free forums on the Internet (www.proboards.com).  The company has been hosting forums for more than 14 years with over 3.7 million forums created on its platforms.  The company’s forums record billions of page views every year with tens of millions of registered users.  ProBoards’ Forums.net white label forum service allows small business to quickly and easily create their own branded Internet forum that is fully managed by ProBoards.

 

How to Incorporate Brand Advocates into Your Marketing Strategy

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

When asked about how and why they make purchases, most people say that reviews and recommendations play a major role. That holds true even in the B2B marketplace—according to one study, 60 percent of B2B tech buyers look at peer reviews before making buying decisions.

This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, when it comes to your own purchasing decisions, are you more likely to trust an ad or a person who’s actually used the product?

The question is, how can you boost positive reviews of your business and how should that play into your overall marketing strategy?

Brand Advocates: Generating Buzz

Brand advocates are more than just loyal customers—they’re ambassadors. They’re people who believe in your business and who are willing to answer questions, write blog posts, and help you create favorable word-of-mouth buzz. They can help you by reviewing your products and helping convince leads who may be on the fence about your services to take the plunge.

Who are your advocates? Where can you find them?

Begin by identifying customers who have had a good experience with your brand.

  • Get in touch with people who are interacting with you on social media or on review sites like Yelp.
  • Find customers who’ve given you positive reviews on comment cards or surveys.
  • Ask your salespeople—which customers to they turn to for references? Which customers are most satisfied with their experience?

Try to identify potential advocates on a regular basis—every three to six months or so—to keep your pool fresh.

This should go without saying, but in case it’s not obvious: in order to keep your loyal customer base large and happy, you need to provide consistently great service. It’s not enough to be just “adequate”— most companies do that—you need to “wow” your customers with attention to detail and personalized service. Try to accommodate special requests when you can, and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Setting Up a Brand Advocacy Program

Identifying advocates is only half the battle. You need to decide what to do with them once you’ve found them. Here are some ideas about how you can leverage their power to help maintain a positive image for your brand:

  • Ask them to follow you on social media and comment on and share what you post.
  • Ask them to write positive reviews and testimonials on your site, review sites like Citysearch, or their blog and social media profiles.
  • Ask them if you can film them talking about their experience with your brand.
  • Ask them to contribute to communities or forums.
  • Ask them for referrals.
  • Ask them to write blog posts or create images for you.
  • Ask them if you can use their experience as a case study.
  • Ask them to speak directly (over the phone or via email or chat) to potential customers.
  • Ask them to come up with FAQ questions and answers or identify improvements for your website.

These are just some of the ways that brand advocates can be put to good use. You should get creative and decide on which strategies will work for your business.

You should probably start small. Ask potential advocates to do something easy at first, like follow you on Instagram or give you a five star rating on Google+, before moving on to bigger projects like testimonials and blog posts. You may also want to consider setting up some sort of rewards or kickback program where advocates get a percentage off, a nominal payment, or free products (à la Amazon Vine) for completing tasks.

You should also invest some time in mentoring and quality control. You should let your advocates be authentic voices for your brand, but you may also want to set some guidelines if, for instance, you plan on connecting brand advocates with potential customers directly.

How about you? How are you leveraging the power of brand advocates in your business?

Holly Cordnerhollycordner is a marketing manager living in Salt Lake City. She writes for Needle, which helps businesses of all sizes identify brand advocates and connect them with customers. Her first love is technology with tofu coming in a close second.

 

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.

Growth Hacking is Just Effective Marketing

The term “growth hacking” is all the rage these days, and in my mind it’s a bit of a silly concept. (There are even several books dedicated to the topic)

Growth Hacking

photo credit: fabola via photopin cc

It’s not that I think focus on growth is silly and I certainly don’t think using creativity and ingenuity to gain attention and build a user base is silly either – it’s just that there’s nothing really new about it.

Effective marketers have always been “growth hackers” at heart.

The new generation of growth hackers types want you to believe that they are almost anti-marketing when, in fact, all they are is anti wasteful marketing – but that’s something that everyone should be able to agree upon.

So called growth hackers might argue that they look at product and service features as a means to an end of real growth, but this is just another form of distribution powered by the growth of online networks and participation.

Most of the attention given this term is coming out of Silicon Valley and the tech startups mushrooming in that space. Therefore there’s a great deal of emphasis on the need for growth hacking marketers to be tech savvy or even coders. The truth is that in the world we live in today no marketer will survive if they aren’t tech savvy, don’t immerse themselves in every online tool and gain at least an appreciation for back end and front end development.

The one challenge I do have with the growth hacker vs. marketers conversation is the arm of hackers who seem to believe that growth at any expense can be rationalized. That stunts aimed at tricking members of the media or diverting traffic from someone else’s community are okay if done in the name of growth.

For every growth hacked success case study of a Dropbox or AirBnB there are dozens of growth hacked startups attempting to do things that cross the line in terms of activities that could ever sustain a brand long-term.

Effective marketing is focused on growth – long-term, sustainable growth. The only way to get that is to figure out ways to build an audience, move some portion of that audience to become advocates, users and customers and then focus on getting as many of the folks in that group to remain loyal.

You do this by creating a tremendous amount of awareness as inexpensively as possible. You do this by building trust, gaining trial, creating an incredible experience and doing something that almost forces people to talk about you and your products.

But most importantly – you do this by measuring every single event along that journey and looking long and hard at what works and what doesn’t. Then you go to work on coming up with more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

Effective marketing, no matter what you call it, is not a single tactic or event, it’s a process that lives and dies by your ability to test and measure and adapt. Success by any other means it mostly an accident.

If you’re not using a guided process, similar to what I call the Marketing Hourglass and you’re not equipping that process or journey with a total focus on analytics using tools like Google Universal Analytics, Mixpanel or Kiss Metrics you are simply gambling with your marketing or hacking or whatever term you choose to apply to your efforts today.

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.