Working from a prospect list your boss hands you or, worse, a purchased list of leads will get you lots of hang-ups, a few tepid maybes and very few real prospects that turn into even fewer closed deals. And why should they talk to you? They have no idea who you are, they have no idea why they might need to talk to you and, frankly, they’re busy and you interrupted what they were doing when you called.

Attract them rather than chase them Windows 10 Home Key kaufen

With a carefully thought-out plan to share information on blogs, special offerings like ebooks, whitepapers and checklists – information that is useful and attractive to your best customers and prospects that look like them – inbound marketing is a great way to attract the kind of prospect who is already interested in what you offer.

Inbound marketing is a process, starting with research, through content creation and moving through the stages of attracting and nurturing leads, and finally to converting leads to customers.

inbound marketing path

Research will give you information – or additional information – about your target market. Even if you are simply looking to expand within a silo you’re already working, research can reveal specific words and phrases, questions and concepts that are the daily language of your target and which you can use to capture their attention.

Research will also help you craft your web and blog text to improve your organic SEO. It should be a constant throughout the process and at every step.

SEO (search engine optimization) comes from your content, which is the knowledge you share via blog posts, videos, case studies, tip sheets, and other special offerings we mentioned above. Your web copy will contain some of the words and phrases you discovered in your research. Elements of your website, such as new content, tags, metadata, links and other details, also improve your organic SEO.

Blogging attracts people who are searching for your expertise. If your content is robust and, most importantly, provides useful information that speaks to their concerns, people will subscribe to your blog. Answer the questions and concerns using the language your research discovered. Do not sell. Do not talk about what you do. Talk about what you know.

Once they sign up – boom! – they’ve just identified themselves as a prospect.

Social Media invites prospects to your website. Social media is a conversation and, like any good conversation, it isn’t all about you. Engage with other thought leaders, clients and prospects to share information. An invitation to follow, like or connect encourages an interested person to become a qualified prospect.

Social media is also the broadcast channel to let people know about all the good stuff you have on your website and in your blogs and how to find it. Talking about others’ ideas is only good social media manners.

Landing pages are the locked gates to your in-depth info, and a key to your inbound success. The info you are giving away has a small price: the recipient’s name and email address. Different kinds of content will appeal to prospects and customers at different points of their purchasing journey.

When they are simply researching their options, a guide, a comparison chart or something similar would be useful to them. A case study is likely to be read when they are in the deciding stage of their journey.

Email, when it is permission based, is the tool for staying in touch with useful information and links to more in-depth info, special offers, links to blogs, invitations, news and more. When the message is properly targeted, it will have a 62 percent better chance of being clicked on than a non-targeted email. It’s the research you started with that will help you target your message.

Don’t bother with purchasing an email list. At best, a large percentage of the list will be out of date or your carefully crafted message will end up in their spam folder. At worst, you’ll be shut down for sending spam and your email account will be suspended or cancelled.

Don’t you hate getting junk emails from someone you don’t know for a product you don’t want or need? Of course you do. So, why send it?

Getting to know you

What’s the point of all this activity if none of it results in a direct sale? You’re cultivating a relationship and sharing knowledge. You’re demonstrating your expertise. You’re building a relationship. You’re building trust.

You’re making it easy for your sales team to close the deal. According to a survey conducted by Hubspot, in six months, inbound marketing resulted in almost twice as many web visitors and 2.69 times more leads. The conversion rate for lead to sales was a whopping 73 percent higher compared to all respondents, and 69 percent of survey respondents saw increased sales revenues. Isn’t that a worthwhile goal?

Business owners can be shortsighted when it comes to social media. They sometimes think it is a waste of money, that’s it’s only for B2C business, and who has the time, anyway? As a result they are missing out on a very cost-effective marketing channel. In 2012, Cisco Systems saved $1.5 BILLION over five months when they used social media to introduce a new Salesforce customer-interaction tool. That’s a big return on investment (ROI), even for a very big company.

Cisco has also learned the value of social media as a powerful broadcasting tool for messages the company wants to send about itself as a company, business partner and employer. In another Cisco campaign, they used only social channels to promote a new router and saved about $100,000.

Rob Petersen’s blog, BarnRaisers, cited 15 case studies, including Cisco and these tech companies:

  • Demandbase used a white paper, infographic, webinar, Slideshare and a live presentation to generate 1,700 leads and $1million in new business.
  • IBM created a social sales program for their inside sales team and trained them to nurture online relationships. It resulted in a 400% increase in sales.
  • RS Components, an electronic product distribution company, created a special hub for collaboration and engagement for Electronic Design Engineering. There’s a free tool store and a free design tool that was down loaded more than 60,000. The site gained 45,000 members in 12 months.

Need more? cited these statistics:

  • 77% of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a company whose CEO uses social media.
  • 82% of employees say they trust a company more when the CEO and leadership team communicate via social media. What’s the value of engaged employees to you and your company?
  • B2B companies with blogs generate 67% more leads per month than non-blogging companies.

The social self-help community

Instead of using social media just to promote your products and services, the higher use of social media is to engage with others, commenting and adding to discussions that someone else has started. It’s a great place to share expertise – your own and others. Many companies encourage all of their subject matter experts on staff to engage with customers and gently guiding customers’ problem-solving community. Social media does need to be monitored for negative comments. (Don’t remove those comments, by the way. You will gain far more credibility if you politely and helpfully respond online.)

An active online community around a product can also save valuable resources when users ping each other with questions and provide solutions instead of depending on your support desk. It has to be monitored, of course, to be sure the solutions suggested are accurate and to block the trolls. This community of users may even teach you something about your own product. I’d call that a win-win.

It’s worth it

According to LinkedIn, companies who use inbound and social marketing see a 2%-27% increase to their bottom line. It’s a pretty safe bet that these companies use outbound marketing – direct mail, advertising, sponsored events and more – as part of their marketing mix. They also devote substantial resources to their inbound marketing, but even with a lesser investment of time and resources, it’s hard to argue with the results.

If you attend conferences, if you have a booth at a trade show, if you network – in other words, if you meet people in the course of business – you have a collection of business cards. If you’re like me, you sometimes suspect they are multiplying in the darkness of your desk drawer.

There are the ones from the trade show you recently attended, from your Chamber of Commerce breakfast, from the local association meetings. There they are, in bundles, stacks and piles. Waiting for you. What in the world are you going to do with them? Perhaps even more important, why do anything with them?

Why, Part 1

Maybe even more important that what to do with them is why do anything at all. Likely, these cards represent someone who has expressed an interest in what you do, so you will add them to your contacts. If they don’t need your services now, they might in the future or they may know someone who does. You need to stay in touch with them and an important tool for doing so is email.

As a component of your inbound marketing effort, a percentage of these people will click from your email to your website, giving you an additional opportunity to tell them how you are different than your competitors.

Record first

There are lots of ways to capture the information on the cards into some sort of database. You can type them in as you watch TV or pay your kid ten cents per card to type in the name, title, company, email address, web address and phone number to a spreadsheet.

Using one of several apps available, you can use your smartphone to take a picture and let the app translate the picture into data. These apps are getting better all the time, but you still need to check for accuracy, especially if the card has a dark background, funky fonts or low type/background contrast. (This is a good reason, by the way, to be sure your own business cards are pretty straightforward in design.) I happen to like Evernote, but whatever you use, once you have captured the data, you want to be able to export it to a spreadsheet.

Next, slice and dice

This is the easiest part: add a note about what kind of contact they are (prospect, vendor, partner, general, etc.) so they can be sorted easily. In a separate column, add any additional notes, like where you met them, when to follow up, and so on.

Choose an email manager platform

There are several, ranging from free (for small mail lists) to the very robust and pricey. Spend a little time looking at product comparisons to decide which one will work best for your organization. You want to be able to import the data from your spreadsheet and you want it to work for you as your list grows. You will probably want to import it into your CRM.

Why, Part 2

Now you are going to start communicating, sharing what you know and building your reputation as a knowledgeable expert. You can send technical insights, insights into your clients’ industry, observations about a recent conference, pertinent comments from other experts and much more. You aren’t spamming anyone, because you are sending useful information. Sure, there’s a chance some people will opt out, but most won’t. Some will share your information with colleagues, who will then subscribe to your emails, spreading your influence.

Maintain the conversation

If you have someone’s business card, presumably there was some mutual interest. Build on that interest with your useful information, sent periodically. Don’t email so often people hit the spam button on you, but often enough they’ll remember you. Once a month is okay, once a week may be too often. Be sure to include a forward or share button and an “add me to your email list” button.

Make it easy for people to add themselves to your contact list – because with the useful information you’ll be sharing, they’ll want you to stay in touch.

The latest news in web design is Google’s “Mobile-friendly” mandate: websites will be “mobile-ready” or lose search rank. In other words, websites must be readable, navigable, and useful on smartphones – or lose their search rank position. Maybe you’ve heard about it? Maybe you’re already experiencing the fallout from the media-hyped “Mobile-geddon”.

  1. 60% of internet traffic comes from mobile – That’s up from 50% reported 18 months ago.1
  2. “Mobile-geddon”: If Google doesn’t think your site meets their criteria, you are going to sink so far in the search rankings you will only be found by the very most persistent.
  3. 46% of people say that website design is the number one criterion for deciding the credibility of a company: If your site can’t be read without zooming or the images don’t align correctly, that feeds the perception that your company isn’t keeping up with the times.2
  4. Impressive ROI: Jones Soda, a beverage company based in Seattle, saw a 46% increase in mobile sales after launching their mobile-friendly site. For, an online clothing retailer, total online sales doubled in the first month.3
  5. As of 2012, 60% of households with an annual income of $50K-$75K and 71% of those whose annual income tops $75K (Pew Research) use their mobile to access the Internet. Doesn’t it make sense that these are the folks that are going to spend more with you?

Delaying website updates for any reason can harm the reputation of your company and ultimately affect your bottom line. Even if most of your customers don’t use their mobile to research your company, they may be Googling you to find your hours, your location or to learn if you have the product they are searching for. Make it easy for them to find you and to read the information they are seeking.

Have you recently updated your website to be mobile-friendly? What have been the results?



1 SmallBiz Trends

2 Wikipedia/Stanford Web Credibility Project

3 Mint

4 Pew Research Center