Category: B2B Marketing


10 Things You Should Know About Inbound Marketing

In this month's NurtureNotes newsletter we teased our subscribers with five important things you should know about inbound marketing and I want to continue that conversation here because inbound marketing is important people!

With a reported cost per lead at 62% LESS than outbound marketing you should be paying close attention and working on inbound marketing strategies right now (after you read this blog of course). Without further ado, let's get right to the list.

1.  What is Inbound Marketing?

In simple terms, inbound marketing is a set of strategies and tactics you use to make it easy for prospects to find you. It’s a pull model instead of a traditional push model. Inbound tactics include things like search engine optimization (SEO), pay per click (PPC), social media, blogs, websites and landing pages. An effective inbound strategy also includes the thing you find us preaching about all the time – valuable content. Not your company brochure or one single article but a steady flow of articles, tips, infographics, white papers and videos. Make content accessible – don’t hide your brilliance behind a form or make your prospects work to learn more about you.
 

2. Why do I need to worry about Inbound Marketing?

One of the main reasons you need to adopt inbound marketing is that we are on average bombarded with 2,000 messages a day! Inbound marketing creates an environment by which someone who needs your service can easily find you. Need a better reason? Hubspot’s recent 2011 report on the State of Inbound Marketing shows that the cost per lead for inbound marketing is 62% less than outbound. Now that’s a reason to get you pulling in the right direction isn’t it?
 

3. Should I abandon Outbound Marketing?

No way! In spite of what some are saying – inbound is not a replacement for outbound marketing such as direct mail, email, trade events, advertising, etc. The two should go hand in hand. Because inbound generally has a lower cost per lead than outbound, you can start shifting your budget to the inbound side, but don’t slow down your outbound marketing just yet. Inbound marketing takes time and patience and isn’t the answer to fill your pipeline or get leads – at least not right away. Let it build momentum before you drastically alter your outbound model.
 

4. How can I use my website for Inbound Marketing?

Socialize it! Getting people to your site is only the first step. Once they are there, how do you keep them there? Offer stuff they care about and share it without a bunch of forms. Engage with your visitors through videos, polls, articles, tips, blogs and fresh content. Take a look at the copy on your website. Is it inviting or is it overly technical or stiff. Make sure your site is easy to navigate so people want to stay awhile. Most of the time the inbound path leads directly to your website so make sure it’s ready to greet your guests.
 

5. How do I know if it’s working?

Inbound marketing is totally depending on automation. Get yourself a good marketing automation platform that gives you the ability to track visitors, score leads and nurture visitors with automated workflows. This gives you the flexibility to remove some of those intimidating forms without losing the intelligence that you need. If you would like to learn about the marketing automation tool we use every day, please email Eric Rabinowitz or call him at 732-636-10014 (x27). He’s pretty passionate and knowledgeable about marketing automation so it’s worth a call if you get a minute.
 

6. Link baiting is good.

It may sound like a “black hat” practice, but link baiting is a good thing. Link baiting refers to anything on a website that encourages links from other websites. It can include content like blogs, online tools, downloads, or anything else that another site owner might find compelling enough to link to. Link baiting is important because most search engines use backlinks as a major factor in determining ranking.
 

7. Blogs RULE!

According to another great report by HubSpot, sites with blogs gathered 68% more leads than sites without one. If you can only invest in one content type – make it a powerful blog. Not a writer? No problem. Hire someone who can help you not only come up with some awesome topics but write your blogs for you. We have a talented team of blog writers here at Nurture Marketing if you need some help.
 

8. Long Tail is More than a Keyword Concept.

You’re probably familiar with the phrase “long tail keyword” and in case you’re not – long tail keywords are those search terms people will use that are later in the sales cycle or focused on a niche market. For example – if you are estate lawyer in Hoboken you might think “estate law” is a good phrase to focus on but you’ll face a lot of competition for that phrase and your local prospects might never find you so why not dig deeper with something like “estate lawyers in Hoboken, NJ”? The concept of long tail is something you can bring into your entire inbound strategy. What offers resonate more with people later in the sales cycle for your services, what issues are most compelling in to your prospects?  Keep the concept of long tail top of mind when creating offers and messaging and you’ll see higher responses.  Another example: “Best Practices in ERP implementation” is nice – “Best practices for automotive manufacturers ERP implementations” is better.
 

9. The Importance of Anchor Text.

Click here for more info.  How often do you see some variation of that phrase? Why not use descriptive text in your links for maximum SEO impact. For example:  Download our free report on B2B Nurture Marketing Best Practices. Now you have some SEO power.
 

10. Measure the right thing.

If you use typical outbound marketing metrics to measure your inbound marketing you’ll be disappointed. A different tactic calls for different measurements.  At the same time – the metrics you use to measure inbound need to change as you build your inbound engine. Early key performance indicators (KPI) such as clicks and followers will now be joined by metrics like conversion rates and PPC ROI as your methods mature.  For a list of what you should be measuring with inbound marketing, download our Quick Tips for Inbound Marketing KPIs.
 

barbara's blog

AFFECTION - the Antidote for Defection

Valentine's Day. What a rare day in many parts of the world to say "Thank You" to your best customers, best friends and those you love the most. My old friend, Bob Valentine, now retired President of Valco Graphics in Tukwila, Washington, had a natural way of saying Thank You.

Each year, as a high-end printing firm, he produced an elegant valentine greeting and sent it to his best customers with a note that says, “With a name like mine and customers like you, every day really is Valentine's Day.”

OK. Sure, it’s easy enough for a guy with a name like Valentine, but how do you express the appreciation, respect and affection you feel to your best customers on a day honored globally as a day for expressing affection? It’s easier than you might imagine. All it takes is an intention to mold stronger ties with key individuals — a willing administratively skilled-assistant to help with the details like memory and production, and making the time and patience to sit down and write a few simple letters.

Research has shown that frequent contact between key executives of key customers is the hallmark of a healthy and growing business relationship and it seems to prove true across all cultures and all ethnic customs. As time grows progressively scarcer, finding the opportunity to make frequent, positive, intelligent and personal interactions (experiences) with even your top 20 customers used to be tough.

It was one of those critical but frequently postponed responsibilities of every customer- focused executive. I advise our clients to plan a minimum of nine ‘relationship-building touches’, evenly spaced over a period of from two years to life to ensure that the fundamentals of relationship management are covered.

While Valentine's Day is a wonderfully appropriate time to begin, nurturing touches are welcome all year round. I can think of at least nine letters that every executive could sign.

Start with a sincere Thank You letter and then at about 60-day intervals, send the following:

A Customer Satisfaction InquiryAn Article of Interest
A New Service Opinion/PreviewAn Invitation to Event
An Executive Book Summary GiftYour 21 Best Tips
A Referral Offer to HelpYour Core Values


Like a gentle, spring shower, such contacts reinforce and articulate your interest, your values, your market position and your unique differentiation. And best of all, done in an intelligent and respectful manner.

One that says you consider them to be an “A” customer. Begin today. Start with a list naming the key person in each of your 20 best customers.

  • Say Thank You.  In your own words — tell the person how much this business relationship means to you personally and invite a dialogue on ways to even strengthen the bond.
  • Say How’m I Doin?   It’s not necessary to send a massive customer opinion survey. Just a sincere letter that tells them why you are asking the five questions you’d like addressed. You pick the questions — what do you really what to know? Make the scoring simple as 1 – 5 or A, B or C. Assure the reader you will personally review and act on any comments they make. And offer a summary of findings to those who respond
  • Say What do you think?  Ask their opinion about products or services before you change or add them. They’ll tell you the truth and will usually become your earliest adopters if you are right.
  • Say I thought about you today.  Send a relevant, visionary book or even an executive summary as a gift. A simple, brief note that says “I read this the other day and thought about you (or our customers) and wanted you to have a copy.”
  • Say How can I help?  Offer to refer or introduce them to your contacts. Ask them to profile an “A” prospect from their perspective and allow you to suggest appropriate introductions. A basic law of the harvest suggests you feed before you reap and the law of reciprocity almost guarantees the favor will be returned.
  • Say Have you seen this?  Stay on the lookout for articles, books, or even individual press mentions. (Google Alerts) A brief note attached to the article says volumes in a short space. It’s a relevant touch that reminds without pressure.
  • Say Come Join Us!  Invite your top 20 to an event at least once a year. It can be a personal and individual appreciation luncheon, a new product launch, an introduction to a VIP event or virtually any reason to ask people to join you and to feed them. It’s an ancient and proven ritual that fuses people together.
  • Say Here’s 21 Tips.  Every firm has developed, over time, their own unique compendium of great tips, tricks, solutions, ideas, and clues to solving major problems for their customers. Have a list of these nuggets compiled, edited and printed. They make a useful, intelligent and appreciated gift that keeps you in front of their mind often.
  • Say We’re here for you.  Find unique ways to express your values without your having to say them about yourself. I found a great little book called “Whatever It Takes,” (www.compendiuminc.com) and in 128 pages, there are over 300 powerful quotations on the topic of the simple value of going the extra mile. Naturally, as the sender, you get attached to the values enclosed and with every reading, you reinforce on their mind one of your key attitudes about your relationship — doing whatever it takes. Oh, and by the way, you can automate the entire process.
     

While every day is rarely Valentine's Day, every day our key customers, employees and fans need tangible reminders that we care and that we take them seriously. Like an ardent suitor, a campaign of personalized contacts will allow you to pursue, persist and inspire customer loyalty with professional and appropriate persistence.

What would happen if you made this Valentine's Day the day you commit to intentionally touching at least, your personal most beloved one, your top 20 customers, your valued employees and even your key suppliers and alliances, and make those contacts ones that matter.

If words fail you, you can find letters like these and many more in our eBook, 101 Business Love Letters.

So, a warm, Happy Valentine's Day to you and to nurturers, everywhere.

~ Jim

A Story of Black Bamboo by Jim Cecil

Let me share a story that taught me worlds about nurturing relationships. I'll explain.

For most of the last 22 years I have had the privilege of traveling the world studying, speaking and consulting on the concept and methodologies involved with authentic Nurture Marketing. Nurture Marketing is about caring, in your “heart of hearts” about your clients, employees and prospects and about communicating well the services and products you provide for them.

Let's say you are the perfect fit for what your clients need and you know it, your challenge is that everybody is saying pretty much the same thing. Nurture at the technical side is about the process of automating your communications to stay in touch with precisely the right people, with exactly the right message and always at just the right time and done so, all the time.

Many years ago I had the opportunity to speak at a marketing conference in JiuZhaiGuo located in the newly emerging western Chinese Province of Chengdu. One beautiful afternoon a couple of us were offered a personal tour of a living black bamboo farm that transformed my belief in the connection of nurturing with the spirituality of nature.

Bamboo is a pivotal commodity in the Chinese economy used almost exclusively to provide scaffolding for high-rise building construction. Our 75 year old guide, Ping-Sun (Peter) Liu informed us that our rickshaw tour would include fields illustrating the various stages in the 5-year growth cycle of black bamboo.

This special species of bamboo is and has been vital in the economic development and construction of this rapidly expanding giant country. China is a vast country, with a huge, rapidly expanding, population but you would not know it from the first fields we visited. Extending as far as the eye could see was an empty field of rich, black, tilled earth. Not a single bamboo plant was in sight, not even a tree. Peter explained to us that the field had been sown a few weeks prior. Each of over a thousand farmers carried a heavy satchel of seeds, water and fertilizer on their backs. He explained the great care need necessary at this step in the process.

Bamboo seeds need to be carefully identified and culled, planting only those seeds that appear to have the best chance for sprouting, each perfectly positioned by hand in the ground, not too deeply and never too shallow to prevent attack from the competitive birds and scavenging rodents.

Also of importance are the placement of each seed a precise distance from one another; if placed too closely the plants will compete with each other for food and water and not grow to their full potential.  Too far apart and you will have an inefficient root-system and ultimately a poor harvest.

Once placed in the ground, each seed is individually fertilized with a deep drink of water and a handful of fertilizer from the farmer's heavy satchel. The process of watering and fertilizing is ritually carried out weekly on a seed by seed basis for nearly five years. No heavy machines, no modern irrigation equipment just individual farmers carefully tending the individual needs of each seedling in the field. About a mile down the dusty road was a field that Peter told us had been sown two years prior. When we reached our destination we were surprised to see what looked to us like thousands of farmers working in an empty field.

Our big surprise was when Peter told us that every week, up until the 11 month of the 5th year the bamboo fields appeared visually barren. In the 12th month of the 5th year the black bamboo would suddenly sprout and very rapidly grow up to 60 feet in just under 30 days. By now we were tired of the hard seats of the wagon seat and I was anxious to see a fully developed bamboo field ready for harvest. On the way to the final stop, we passed a field covered by heaps of broken bamboo that looked as if a tornado had laid waste to a fully mature black bamboo crop. When we questioned Peter on what we were convinced was a bamboo plague or at the very least a natural disaster. With a disgusted scowl, he spat loudly and answered simply, “stupid farmer”.

He explained that the farmer working this particular field had not nurtured his crop weekly but every other week and had used the wrong fertilizer resulting in a black bamboo crop with root systems so weak that the entire field was blown down in a wind storm so it could not be sold and needed to be destroyed. He repeated, “five whole years wasted! Stupid farmer”!

When we reached the last huge expanse of green on the trip we were greeted with a massive field full of strong and very tall black bamboo and left me with the feeling that our guide Peter taught us some very valuable lessons about Nurture Marketing.

  • Having a long-term plan is essential to reaching your goals in both endeavors.
  • You must choose your seeds very carefully with a clear understanding of a your desired harvest outcome.
  • You must understand what each and every one of your seeds need to grow and thrive.
  • Each seed needs its own species-specific formula of water, fertilizer and caring to be successful.
  • Each plant in your garden has its own unique life cycle and trying to rush a crop to harvest will result in disaster.
  • Trying to shortcut the laws of the harvest will also result in disaster.
     

The harmony of nature can be applied to business and that true nurturers are all ‘Farmers at Heart.’

Good Nurturing!

~ Jim

Four marketing trends that should END in 2012

If you're the kind of person that appreciates professional honesty, read on. If not, read on anyway because you might need to hear this. Most of the time we are a really friendly bunch around here and our clients are pretty awesome if you ask me. But, every once in a while there are things that just drive us crazy so I thought I would share a little inside info.

In this month's NurtureNotes, we give our Top 5 marketing trends to watch in 2012. But, we didn't have space for everything, so our editors cut out these four marketing trends I would love to see END in 2012.

1. Questions like, "What works?"

(Translation: There must be one thing I can do for more sales – and I really only want to do/have the budget for this one thing – so what is it?)

Just like a physical trainer would tell you if you asked him what latest diet you follow or pill you should take to drop 50 pounds this month - there is no magic potion! Consistent, integrated, professional and PERSONAL marketing (to human beings) works. Yeah, it’s boring, unsexy and we’ve heard it before – but there’s a reason for that.

Make this the year you worry less about the latest fad and more about what’s proven. The answer to what works is what everyone knows and no one wants to hear – consistent, integrated touches that provide value and build a “relationship” with the prospect.
 

2. Shotgun Marketing (a/k/a: I need leads like yesterday, how fast can we get a campaign in market?)

Hmmm... so let’s get this straight. You have no pipeline, you haven’t done any consistent marketing (or any marketing for that matter) for quite awhile and your sales team is clamoring for leads. Shocking! If your answer is to buy a list and drop some emails – you are shotgun marketing.

Consider that the average person is touched by about 2,000 messages per day. Add the fact that it can take 10-15 touches to get the attention of a contact in a B2B sale and you’ll see that the numbers just don’t add up. Save your dollars, take a step BACK and think about how many times you’ve been in this situation. You don’t need a campaign – you need a change in “behavior” and a marketing plan to back it up.
 

3. Sales people, students, your cousin doing your marketing.

By all means you should bring all hands to deck to help with your marketing - but make sure the leader of the ship knows how to steer. Watching your budget? We get that. Use a consultant to build the plan and then use outsourced resources for specialized tasks (like writing and web design). Save the unskilled labor for the execution only.
 

4. A $5 million revenue goal with a $10,000 marketing budget.

We often find the lack of correlation between revenue goals and marketing budget starts with not knowing how to really measure marketing impact. You can offset your budget needs with lower cost activities such as social marketing but there’s no free ride: Lower cost activities can still require a much higher investment of time.

Although it varies by industry, B2B marketers should be spending 2-7% of their total revenue on marketing – not including marketing salaries. You may even need more than 7% depending on how strong (or weak) your foundation is such as your website, case studies, lists, etc.

On behalf of all the marketing professionals in the world, thanks for listening. Got your own marketing trends you want to see end in 2012? Sound off below!

Happy New Year to all

~ Barbara

barbara's blog

How to Market in a Down Economy

Sure, times are tough for all of us right now and marketing budgets are being cut up like a bad kindergarten craft project. Of course we don't recommend cutting the one thing that will keep you on top when the economy is back on track (and we know it will be), but we understand that's just the reality for many businesses. Instead, we want to give you some tips to help you make small changes that can make a big impact right now.

Our NurtureNotes newsletter for September has the Top 10 tips for marketing in a down economy so be sure to sign up now and get free marketing tips delivered right to your inbox every month.

Today, let's talk about three small changes to help get you started.

1. Rethink your messaging.

Are you spending lots of money to grow your business right now? If so, congratulations! If not, you are in the same boat as most of your customers. Instead of going on and on about benefits that aren't on their radar right now, focus on the things that are important to them – like money. Shift your messaging to solve their problems, not sell your product or service. Their problems are a lot different today than they were just a year ago. Even loyal customers are looking for ways to cut costs, and that might just be with your competitors.
 

2. Mix up your marketing.

It's easy to get stuck in a marketing rut. What worked in the past doesn't seem to be working as well right now and that's for several reasons. Your prospects are scattered all over the place and you are supposed to find them how? If you only use email campaigns, try a few direct mail pieces. Not a fan of social media? It's time to become one and soon you will have some fans of your own. Never thought about old school telemarketing? You would be surprised how effective a personal call can be these days. If you don't have the resources to explore new marketing avenues on your own, hire a professional marketing firm to help you out. (We happen to know a great one!)
 

3. Dress to impress.

This goes beyond traditional marketing tactics but deserves a spot in our Top 10. A first impression can be everything and it's critical to find new ways to differentiate your company and your brand. Whether you are greeting a customer on the phone, in your office or in theirs, think about the image your front line is portraying. In a business casual world, become the designer suit. Polish up your image whether it’s how your receptionist greets your visitors or callers, revamp your website to welcome online visitors, or ask your sales staff to take it up a notch next week.
 

Have some tips of your own to share? Be sure to leave a comment below. We enjoy hearing from you.

Sign up for NurtureNotes monthly marketing tips.

michelle's blog

Read Our New B2B Social Media Whitepaper

Read our new Social Media Whitepaper for Business to Business (B2B) marketers. It describes that, "Simply put, inbound marketing is marketing that is focused on getting found by customers. Social media is the ultimate Nurture engine -- where communication is about sharing what you know without asking for anything in return -- while keeping your brand top-of-mind."

Read the Whitepaper: SOCIAL MEDIA WHITEPAPER -- THE BASICS FOR B2B.
 

eric's blog

B2B Viral Marketing - What Works

I think I first started thinking regularly about “viral marketing” when I learned about its impact in a “Staying Ahead of the Pack” presentation given by Mac McIntosh in 2006.  My life in marketing has taken me in different directions, though I have always had to appear to be in the “know” when it came to the most modern online marketing ideas.  So I finally started to pay more attention and decided to Blog this month on what I learned.  I figured that since everyone and their mother, including Costco Connection magazine (I READ everything) is writing about it, so will I.

I think upfront it is fair to say that this topic is OVERWHELMING, that is why it has taken me a long time to get my arms around it.  So, I think one “take away” from this post is – do what you can and what you are comfortable doing-it’s impossible to read and do everything..

So for some, it is simple SEO (Search Engine Optimization) – DIY flavor or invest in a pro.  The costs to optimize your website professionally have dropped substantially over the last 4 years and prove “worth it”.

Learn to BLOG.  Blogs do generate traffic to your website and in turn, leads.  Find sites that will publish your Blogs and spend time once per month writing.  So, if writing is not your thing, you can hire a writer (by the hour) and help them develop an annual editorial calendar that includes topics relevant to your offer. Then ask them to do what they do best…write it!  You will be surprised to find writers that will also be knowledgeable of places to publish Blogs on the Web too.

So what about Social Networking sites? Facebook for business? Well I think the best use of this tactic is including it as part of your campaign.  By just starting a group or having a FB page you won't get much business. Especially if you are in the BtoB space.  However, I have seen excellent examples of using FB as part of a Campaign – driving interest to your FB page.  Once there you can have a survey, questions, etc...  In essence, it can replace a campaign-specific “landing page” and help build your database of suspects/prospects.  But before committing to including Social Networking in your next campaign, make sure you are going to use it actively…setting up a page and then leaving it is a waste of resources.  Make sure you refresh content and drive visitors to your page by including it as part of a larger campaign.

The same applies to the most active of the B2B social networks - LinkedIn. Particpating in groups and answering questions are what drives the connections. Make recommendations (unsolicited) for people you've worked with and ask for referrals from customers and partners.

Lastly, if you are not doing video…get with the program.  Demos and product/service information should all be done in simple video.  No more than 90 seconds for something informational/promotional and no more than 3-4 minutes for a demo.  Once you have the video it can be optimized and searchable – and of course you can upload it to various sites, like YouTube.

So those are some tips that support “viral marketing”, they may be simplistic ones, but they are manageable ones. You’re always guaranteed to get the practical advice from my Blog posts.

Resources

Go to these resources. They are chock full of statistics and reasons for WHY you should be doing viral marketing.

A site…http://www.emarketer.com/ another site…http://womma.org/main

A book… When Search, Meet Usability another book…I’m on LinkedIn – Now What???.

A report on effectiveness of video…(http://blog.nielsen.com/nielsenwire/media_entertainment/media-is-on-dema...)

    eric's blog

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