Archive for the ‘business’ Category

“How to Think Up a Year’s Worth of Blog Post Topics in an Hour” by Hubspot

February 19th, 2014

Ocean bloggingI admit, I REALLY NEEDED THIS ADVICE! Thanks Ginny Soskey for this very helpful article.

If you have not faced this dilemma, I applaud you! The rest of us can enjoy this very helpful advice. Thanks Hubspot!

Originally published at http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/blog-post-topic-brainstorm-ht

Last November, I got my team in a room and asked them to do something that sounded nearly impossible: brainstorm a year’s worth of blog topics in under an hour. That’s an aggressive target — I know — but we needed enough titles to support the Blog Topic Generator‘s algorithm.

So we all sat around the conference room table, writing blog ideas in a Google spreadsheet. The first five minutes, we were stumped. The eight of us tentatively put in a few ideas … and then all of a sudden ideas were flowing. One idea would suddenly morph into 10, and before we knew it, we had almost 300 titles … and we still had 15 minutes to spare.

Sounds like a fairytale, right? Who has their next year of blog post ideas at their fingertips, never mind thought of them all within an hour?

Well, it’s certainly not a myth. It’s not even a luxury reserved for only well-established companies that are rolling in dough. All you need is a Google spreadsheet/Word doc/Evernote note/pen and paper, and the right blog topic brainstorming process.

You’ve already got the first part covered, so keep on reading to get the process we used to come up with those few hundred titles in under an hour. Remember: The key to this whole process is to not start from scratch each time you need a topic — just iterate off old topics to come up with unique and compelling new topics. So let’s get to it!

1) Come up with your first topic.

This step is probably the hardest of the bunch: coming up with your very first topic. If you’re struggling to get down even one idea, there are a few go-to places you can always turn.

First are your customers. What kinds of questions do they have, and how could you answer them in a blog post? If you don’t know what their struggles are, send them (or someone internally who deals closely with them) an email. You could also try sitting in on a few sales calls to see what your company’s prospects are asking — not only will you suddenly have way more to blog about, but you can also help your sales reps close more deals.

There are lots of ways you can get blog ideas, but these are two of the most efficient and effective ways to get them.

2) Change the topic scope.

Okay, so now you have one idea. Great! Now it’s time to iterate.

The first way you iterate is by changing the topic from something broad to something narrow. Let’s say your first idea is “15 Social Media Tips and Tricks for Beginners” — you can change that topic to more niche ones like “15 Pinterest Tips and Tricks for Beginners” or “15 Facebook Tips and Tricks for Beginners”. You can also go from narrow to broad in the same manner (“15 Marketing Tips and Tricks for Beginners”), or go from one narrow topic to another (“15 Twitter Tips and Tricks for Beginners”), or even go from narrow to narrower (“15 Facebook Company Page Tips and Tricks for Beginners”).

Then boom: you have a bunch of ideas from one, all because you changed the scope of the topic.

3) Change up the timeframe.

Even though these post ideas are evergreen, you can use specific timeframes to iterate on a blog topic.

Let’s take a very broad topic like “The History of SEO.” This is a field that has been around for years, so if you were to write about the entire history, it’d be a long, comprehensive post … but if you wanted to squeeze more juice out of that topic, you could restrict the topic to a certain timeframe like the past month. The new tittle would then be “What You Missed This Month in the SEO Industry”. Or you could restrict it to a year: “The Biggest Changes in SEO in 2013”.

4) Choose a new audience.

Often, you’ll have multiple audiences you’re writing for — and they probably aren’t interested in reading the same exact post, even if they’re interested in similar topics. For example, a post for a CMO and a post for an entry-level person might both be about Facebook, but one will be more strategic and one will be more tactical.

It’s easier than you’d think to frame the post for that person — one way to do it is to just add their name in the title. For example, “What Every Entry-Level Marketer Should Know About Facebook” could also be “What Every CMO Should Know About Facebook”.

Obviously those will be two very different posts when you get down to it, but the initial concept is one and the same: Facebook tips.

5) Go negative or positive. 

When most people think of blog post ideas, they think in the positive mindset: “20 Social Media Rules You Should Always Follow.” It makes sense — we’re trying to be helpful with our content, so it’s natural to try to be upbeat and positive. But you can actually come up with way more topic ideas if you embrace your negative side.

So let’s take that initial post idea and turn it negative: “20 Social Media Rules You Should Never Follow”. Simple, right? This little trick can help you think of more creative and attention-grabbing blog topics — that are often more fun to write, too.

6) Introduce new formats. 

When all else fails, try plugging recurring themes into new formats. So a title like “The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing” could easily become “The Ultimate Email Marketing Checklist” or “The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing [Infographic]”.

The angle of your post will likely have to change to correspond with the format (not everything should be an infographic, or a video, or a cartoon), but thinking through new format types alongside your regular topics will help you identify new ways of thinking about something you’ve blogged about over and over.

7) Remove titles that don’t solve for your customers or audience. 

At the very end of all this, you’re going to have a huge list, but not every topic is going to be a great choice for your blog. Some may not align with your brand’s positioning or some may feel played out and stale. Be ruthless and cut out any topics that don’t fit the bill. You’ll be left with some great ideas that you can use as you like through the rest of the year.

But remember, the goal of this brainstorming process is to set a good foundation for your content backlog — not dictate what you must blog about over the next year. It’s likely that your editorial or marketing strategy will change, or you hear about some breaking news that you need to blog about ASAP. So use this brainstorming session as the foundation of your editorial calendar, not the entirety of it.

On Pinterest, if a photo says it all, make yours say it well

June 27th, 2013

For this article, I am keeping the words to a minimum to prove this point. On Pinterest, its all  pictures – And you need to stand out. Check out this  infographic we got from Hubspot. If you want to get shared (i.e. re-pinned) try these tips. Article originally published on Hubspot 6/27/2013

Get These Phrases Out of Your LinkedIn Headline!!

April 10th, 2013

We got a great laugh with this article, originally published on Executive Resume Expert. We hope you get a good laugh – plus lots of great tips – from this article.
Originally published here: http://executiveresumeexpert.com/2013/03/06/worthless-phrases-in-linkedin-headline/

The 5 Most Worthless Phrases in Your LinkedIn Headline

LinkedIn HeadlineYour LinkedIn Headline is arguably the most important piece of real estate within your Profile.

Yet, most users remain confused about its true function, and what to use (in place of the default, which is your current job title).

Within LinkedIn’s search algorithm, your Headline ranks #1, meaning that out of all the other information you’ll add to your Profile, the words here are weighted more heavily as search terms.

In addition, your Headline is the first (and possibly the ONLY) piece of information other users will see. It’s displayed in a search list, under your name in an Invitation, and in numerous other prominent places on the site.

Here’s my list of the most meaningless words you can use in your Headline (all found in actual Profiles!) – plus some suggestions for stronger alternatives:

1 – “Top 1% (5%, etc.) Viewed Profile.”

Sure, this is an accomplishment… but not of any magnitude worth touting to employers.

Here’s why: if you’re an Operations Director, and put only these 2 words in  your Headline, plus the same title for your past 4 jobs and NO other information anywhere in your Profile, you’ll probably rank in the Top 1% for “Operations Director.”

In other words, reaching 1% this way would require hardly any effort.

However, if you’ve inserted 2,000 to 3,000 other words that describe your career level, achievements, and scope of authority, your Profile View ranking will take a dive due to reduced keyword density.

Still, you’ll be more findable on skills and other keywords (because recruiters often specify a mix of search terms when sourcing candidates)… and you’ll make a better impression on employers.

Therefore, an impressive Top Viewed ranking is just that – impressive, but not helpful in your search and not worth using precious, keyword-heavy real estate (even if you want a job writing LinkedIn Profiles!).

Disclaimer: I’m ranked among the Top 1% as well (but you won’t find it in my Headline).

2 – “Results-Driven.”

Just like on your resume, it’s important to use terms that distinguish you from the competition. This phrase and others like it (“dynamic” or “visionary,” anyone?) have become so embedded in boilerplate resume-speak, they’re essentially meaningless.

Plus, can you picture a recruiter using “Results-driven” as a search term? I didn’t think so.

Instead, consider adding a short phrase to your Headline that actually describes results, slipping in a keyword or two (“Marketing VP Improving Social Media Engagement”).

Even a short, powerful note on the ROI from your skills (“Sales Manager | #1 Revenue Record Across Americas”) can make a better impression.

3 – “Experienced.”

Unless you’re a student, this word doesn’t count for much in describing your career. Most professionals, by way of their job titles and career history, ARE “experienced” in their chosen fields, so you’re not laying claim to a unique skill.

Make your Headline more search-friendly by using a mixture of current and target job titles (“Senior Director, VP Sales”) to show your career goals, or a short description of your achievements (“12%+ Annual Sales Growth”).

Either way, showing your career aspirations or accomplishments will actually prove that you’re experienced and worthy of employer attention.

4 – “Father,” “Husband,” “Wife,” etc.

I’ll say it again – LinkedIn isn’t Facebook, and it certainly isn’t Twitter (where these types of mini-bios are common).

On LinkedIn, other users are most interested in your career level and ability to produce results in a professional environment. Leave the family references for a more personal venue.

5 – “Unemployed.”

If you’re not using your Headline to strengthen your brand message with keywords and job titles, you’re missing out on potential traffic and employer interest. “Unemployed” is hardly a search term, and it certainly doesn’t speak to your expertise.

(It might, however, convey desperation.)

Instead of wasting Headline space with it, try sending the same message while specifying what you offer employers (“IT Director Seeking Infrastructure, Operations, & Development Leadership Role”), while injecting strong keyword content.

As you can see, there’s many ways to capture and express value to an employer with your Headline.

Take a few minutes to add some creative phrasing and keyword content for better ROI from your Profile.

Know When It’s Time to Quit Using a Social Network

February 27th, 2013

There are DOZENS of social networking sites out there, and a new one popping up everyday. Not all will work for your marketing initiatives or your business needs. But it never hurts to try and experiment. When do you know it’s time to give up on a social network?

Hubspot’s article gives the right advice on reading the signs.

So, you want to stop wasting so much time, money, and resources on your social media marketing efforts. But, undoubtedly, you’ve heard numerous social media “experts” say, “You need to be on every single social network!” Well, that’s terrible social media advice, and you should simply ignore it.

While it’s a good idea to experiment with various social networks, you also need to make sure you’re following your analytics closely to assess if your efforts are aligning with your company’s goals, reaching your intended target audience, and actually moving the needle.

So whether you’re simply questioning if one of your social networks is really worth your time or are seriously considering pulling the plug on a seemingly under-performing one, here’s what you need to know first to decide if the time really is right to cut it out of your social media marketing mix.

Set Your Social Media Marketing Goals & Metrics

First things first. You’ll never know if your participation in a given social network is worth your time if you never set any goals for what you want to accomplish with it. What do you want to get out of your business’ social media participation? Determine which of the following metrics will help you align with your company’s goals and prove the success of your social media efforts:

Traffic

If you’re a small business just getting started with inbound marketing, a good goal to start with would be to simply drive traffic to your site from the social networks you participate in. After all, you won’t be successful with generating any leads or customers if nobody is even visiting your site from social media to begin with. Additionally, if you’re an ad-supported website, you’ll want to focus on growing your traffic numbers because more visitors means more advertising dollars.

Leads & Customers

You want to prove that your social media efforts are worth the return on your investment, right? Surely, you also want all those visitors from social media to provide you with their contact information so you can nurture them further down the funnel? Sharing links to your marketing offers and educational content with your audience on social media is a great way to generate leads that you can convert into customers, and establishing lead and customer goals will help you prove the ROI of your social efforts as they contribute to the bottom line.

Reach

If you want to continue growing and scaling your social media marketing efforts, increasing your social reach is an important goal to focus on. Think about it: If you’re constantly sending your messages to the same folks over and over again and failing to attract new fans and followers that you can convert, over time, your success in generating new leads and customers from your social media marketing efforts will decline. The greater your social media reach, the easier it is to influence other metrics like traffic or leads. If you’re looking to grow your overall reach, you’ll want to focus your efforts on attracting more fans and followers for your company pages. You’ll also find some great tips to help you increase your social reach in this post.

Buzz/Engagement

If you’re looking to increase brand awareness, buzz is something you should pay close attention to. Are people talking about your brand on social? Are your average number of mentions growing and scaling? Is that hashtag you’re using gaining some traction? If you want people referring your brand to their friends on social media, measuring buzz through metrics like mentions, comments, shares, and Likes will be a great focal points for you.

Sentiment/Customer Happiness

Is the buzz you’re creating of a positive or negative sentiment? Do people love your marketing, or are they unimpressed? How about your company as a whole? If you’re focused on improving customer happiness, take a look at your negative feedback over time in Facebook Insights, for example, and make it a priority to decrease this number.

Keep in mind that, based on your company’s overall goals and the performance of each social network as individual assets, you can certainly set more than one goal for your social media efforts.

Experiment With Your Social Media Marketing

So you claim your social media marketing efforts aren’t worth the time and energy you put into them. That’s a fair concern if you’re currently seeing little to no results, but that also doesn’t mean you should necessarily cut the cord on a social network if you haven’t given it the old college try. By that, I mean you should experiment!

Try out a variety of different forms of content and positioning on your individual social channels to test what works, and what doesn’t. Keep in mind that every social network is different — something that works well on one social network might not necessarily do well on another. It’s your job to figure out what those nuances are and cater your social media marketing approaches accordingly. Furthermore, don’t simply stick to what worked once and do it over and over again, because you’ll run the risk of completely boring and wearing out your audience. In social media as a channel in particular, you have to always be innovating, changing, and experimenting.

Try hosting a brainstorming session with some colleagues, creating some fun new images for Facebook, trying out some different tones or positioning in your tweets, or relating to your audience in different ways on Pinterest. Discover what your audience responds well to through gauges such as comments, Likes, shares, retweets, number of visits, lead volume, etc., and take note of any trends you see … but don’t only stick to those trends. Keep innovating based on what your audience responds well to. Does your audience tend to prefer pictures of people around the office, or do folks prefer funny memes? Do you get more retweets from your audience when you share blog articles or fun quotes? You can find details about post engagement through Facebook Insights, HubSpot’s Social Media tool, or Twitter’s analytics. If your engagement is completely dismal, it’s possible that you simply haven’t grown your reach enough and have too limited of an audience to entertain and target specific messages to. In this case, it might be time to take a step back and reevaluate your goals.

It’s good to get a grasp on what your audience enjoys, but it’s also important that your efforts are driving real results. Which leads us to our next step …

Measure Everything to Diagnose & Fix Inefficiencies

Now that you have a general understanding of which particular posts your audience “Likes,” let’s move on to how you can align these types of content with your company’s goals — and measure their success. If your primary goal for social media is to generate leads, you’ll want to look beyond what’s flat-out entertaining and start looking at what drives real results for your business.

Remember to create and include tracking and campaign tokens for every one of the links you post on your social channels. By including your medium (social), your source (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), and your campaign (this differentiates between individual initiatives within a channel, such as LinkedIn Announcements vs. Company Pages vs. Groups), you will have much greater insight into what parts of each channel are performing well, and which are simply not worth your time. Here’s an example of a tracking token you might tack on to the end of a link might look like:

/?utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter &utm_campaign=inboundchat

Once you start using your tracking tokens on a regular basis, you’ll begin to build a database of clicks, leads, and customers over time. Then, you can dig a little deeper and get down to the bare bones of where your issues (or successes) lie. Out of everything you’ve posted on social media in the past month, how many visits and contacts/leads are you generating? If you use HubSpot software, for example, you can find this information through HubSpot’s Sources tool:

HubSpot's Social Media Tool

In the example above, we’ve selected three different social networks to focus on. You can see that Facebook and Twitter are helping to generate a huge number of website visits, and a substantial amount of contacts as well. That’s great, but you can’t forget about your conversion rates. And you’ll notice LinkedIn has a much higher conversion rate than Facebook and Twitter. And while Facebook and Twitter may be the more impactful drivers of visits and contacts in terms of volume, you should also be considering the quality of those visitors and leads. And because a high conversion rate is a clear indication that your messages are aligned better with that particular audience, you definitely don’t want to ignore that.

So what can we fix here? Let’s work on growing reach, which will help generate more traffic, which will also help to increase lead generation — which aligns with your company’s overall goals. But before we jump in, let’s take a deeper look at our campaign tokens to understand exactly which initiatives within LinkedIn are performing well, and how you can leverage that to improve for the future.

HubSpot's Social Media Tools

Well — would you look at that! Not only do LinkedIn Announcements generate the most visits and leads, but they also have a high conversion rate, too! And to think … you were considering cutting that social network solely on accounts of its low lead volume! Nonsense! Hogwash! Poppycock!

If there’s a will, there’s a way. Your next step here would be to optimize and experiment with your LinkedIn Announcements to learn what works best with your audience so you can get more bang for your buck. And although this is the biggest opportunity for your brand, you shouldn’t ignore those other parts of LinkedIn as lead generation tools. In this example, LinkedIn Company Pages are performing with the second highest number of visits, and the second highest number of leads, but that conversion rate isn’t great compared to the conversion rate of announcements. Do you think there’s an opportunity to improve that visit to lead rate of your Company Page? I’d say so. So don’t knock it ’til you try it.

Set Benchmarks … and Compare Them

Now that you have an idea of how well your channels performed last month, you can get a much better idea of what to tweak for the future. Keep track of your visitors, leads, and visitor-to-lead conversion rate each month to see how you’re progressing:

Social Media Metrics

You’ll want to keep track of your progress for each social network over a few months’ time so you can get a sense of what’s truly working as compared to your target goals and metrics … and what is not.

You should also be careful you’re not basing your decision to nix a social network solely on the success of generating leads and customers. Keep in mind that attracting social media fans and followers who won’t ever buy for you definitely has its perks. You also have to remember that social channels can work in tandem with your other marketing channels to help make a greater overall impact. So if one of your social channels helps drive a great deal of traffic to your blog, but isn’t the greatest for converting leads into customers, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Think about how you can leverage your social media channels to achieve the greatest overall impact.

Let me explain through an example. To promote one of our recent blog posts, we created the hashtag #SocialMediaMyth as a way to track the social promotion of our “30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore” blog post.

#socialmediamyth

 

Now, take a look at the impact those social media promotion had on the blog …

 

30 Terrible Pieces of Social Media Advice You Should Ignore

 

If this is the case for you and your company, try adjusting your goals. For example, you might aim for more leads and conversions on your blog, and more visits from your social channels. Chances are, all that traffic you’re generating from social media is helping more visitors to learn more about your company, and getting them in front of the calls-to-action (CTAs) on your blog that will convert them and move them further down your funnel. Maybe your social media accounts are the most effective as traffic drivers, not lead generators. As long as they help you meet your end goal, there’s no shame in that.

Make Data-Driven Decisions Based on Your Results

So let’s say you’ve set (and maybe modified) your goals based on what your company needs and based on each social network’s true super power. You’ve also successfully experimented with your social media marketing, month over month, to determine what works and what doesn’t with your audience, so you can tailor your messaging from there. Furthermore, you’ve tried scaling your reach, and you’ve diligently measured your efforts from all angles, every step of the way to track key engagement metrics, leads, visits, and more. You know exactly what each social network does well, and why. Yet somehow, your results still aren’t proving the ROI of your efforts on a particular social network.

If you’ve done everything you can to try and improve the effectiveness of that social network, it might be time to cut the cord — or at least spend less of your precious time dedicated to it. It’s okay. You two have had a good run, but now it’s time to move on. Put more time into creating an incredible social machine on your better performing networks, rather than trying to squeeze even the slightest bit of performance out of a network that’s falling behind.

Originally published by Hubspot on Feb. 2th, 2013. Read the original article.

Switchblade’s Marie Macaspac Honored to be a Presenter at ARF’s 9th Annual Business of Saving Lives Conference

January 31st, 2013
Tony LaRussa's ARF 9th Annual Business of Saving Lives Conference  is Sunday, March 23, 2013

Tony LaRussa's ARF 9th Annual Business of Saving Lives Conference is Sunday, March 23, 2013

Marie Macaspac, owner of Switchblade Creative Studios and founder of AnimalRescueMarketing.com is one of 10 speakers who will be participating in this year’s Tony LaRussa’s Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) annual conference, The Business of Saving Lives.

Marie will be sharing the stage with ARF’s Marketing Manager, Sara Kersey, for the topic, “Social Media: Unleashed!“. The 90 minute session will cover not just how to use social media, but tips and tricks that may not necessarily be found in a “How to” manual or “Social Media for Dummies” book.

From mobile mavens to casual users, we all know social media is an important marketing tool for animal welfare groups. Social networking choices and platforms are endless…yet the time your staff and volunteers have is not. Are your important messages getting lost in a social media sea of posts, tweets, and pins? Do you see images online and wonder how they got 400 “Likes” in one day? In this upbeat session, we’ll reveal tricks for getting your content liked and shared widely (and your messages heard loud and clear!), and how to tailor content to your audience and get your animals the attention they deserve. If you have the basic know-how to navigate Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other popular platforms, we’ll show you how to stand out and get noticed!

Marie is honored to be a part of this year’s list of presenters:

  • Elena Bicker, Executive Director, Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation
  • Susan Furukawa, Program Director Community Outreach, ASPCA®
  • Cynthia L. Karsten, DVM, Shelter Medicine Resident, UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program
  • Sara Kersey, Marketing Manager, Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation
  • Bob Lukas, DVM, Sage Centers for Veterinary Specialty and Emergency Care
  • Marie Rochelle Macaspac, Marketing Director, Muttville Senior Dog Rescue and Founder, AnimalRescueMarketing.com
  • Rebecca Marsh, former Executive Director, Fix Our Ferals
  • Nancy McKenney, CEO, Marin Humane Society
  • Paul O’Grady, Partner, Armanino McKenna LLP
  • Betsy Saul, Founder, Petfinder.com

“I am so excited to share my expertise with my fellow animal rescue advocates,” says Marie. ” I am thrilled that this opportunity can additionally introduce new visitors to AnimalRescueMarketing.com.”

To register to attend this year’s conference, click here. It is sure to be a blast!

“Marketing Automation: Why You’re Doing it Wrong” by HubSpot

November 21st, 2012

An article written by Jeffrey Russo

(original article can be found at  http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/33863/Marketing-Automation-Why-You-re-Doing-it-Wrong.aspx#ixzz2CsTZjExq)

Ralphies soap

Marketing automation sometimes sounds like a dirty word, and for good reason. When done incorrectly, it has the potential to undervalue a marketer’s database, irritate those on the receiving end of the campaign, and generate poor results. If that’s not enough to make marketers want to wash out their mouths with soap, I’m not sure what is. I guess you could ask Ralphie.

But the truth is, marketing automation holds a lot of promise for marketers, because it is a powerful tool that can help them overcome some of the core problems they face. For example, we all know that devoting personal attention to our leads tends to generate the best results. Marketing automation can actually help you scale that personal attention. And we could all use some more time in our day to focus on more high-level concerns than just manually nurturing leads. Marketing automation can help with that, too! And these are only a couple of examples.

Let’s take a look at some common mistakes made with marketing automation, and some of their better alternatives.

Mistake #1: You’re Marketing to Actions, Not People

marketing automationIn most marketing automation systems, setting up a campaign means selecting a starting list, and drawing out a tree of actions. In that tree, there are often conditions in the middle that change the path a lead takes based on things they do or don’t do (e.g. opening emails, clicking on links, visiting landing pages, etc.).

Depending on how you do this and what your conditions are, it’s very possible that you’re setting yourself up for failure. Here are a few reasons why.

1) Single actions rarely tell the whole story.

When you send a lead down a different path in your campaign based on one or two things they did or didn’t do, you’re making a lot of assumptions that the action they took was intentional and meaningful. But maybe I actually am an interested prospect, but I had a full inbox the morning you sent me an email, and I skipped past your message. Or maybe I clicked through on an email you sent me out of curiosity, but am actually a better fit for an entirely different product you sell. One action a lead does or doesn’t take rarely tells us enough to market to them more effectively.

2) Some actions are tough to track accurately.

Take email opens for example. While open rate is a helpful metric to look at in aggregate over time, using an opened status to change the makeup of a campaign for one person is risky, because no email tool can track it with a perfect rate of accuracy. Some email clients falsely report opens, while others don’t report opens when an email was actually read. Do you want an arbitrary metric changing the makeup of your campaign?

3) Leads aren’t moving through your campaigns in a vacuum.

Let’s be honest — a branching campaign looks great on paper, but it usually doesn’t take into consideration any of the other ways a lead might be interacting with your brand. If your marketing is working the way it should be, those leads are probably coming back to many different parts of your website through many different channels. If I do an organic search to get back to your website on my own volition, then visit your pricing page and download a whitepaper that isn’t a part of the campaign you are sending me, are the conditions controlling the next step of the campaign I happen to be in still important? Probably not.

Solution: Use smaller, more specific segments from the very start of your campaign.

Rather than dump a big list of leads into a nurturing campaign that looks like a game of Mouse Trap and hope they get relevant messages along the way, put them into a better targeted campaign from the start.

If your campaign is tailored to a very specific segment that takes everything you know about your leads into context, you’ll be delivering marketing people love right from the very first email, not spamming your database with messages that have a low probability of being relevant.

At HubSpot, we use our tools to build a rich profile for each lead in our system that combines everything we know about them from dozens of different places. What keyword did they initially search for to find us? What content are they consuming through social media? What pages are they visiting on our website? What can we glean from our sales teams’ data in Salesforce about this lead? These are just a few of the many details we look at to segment our prospects.

marketing segment

 

Looking at those details, our system then automatically puts leads into specific nurturing campaigns we’ve created that we know are well targeted and will speak to those leads in a personal way about things they care about. And because they are better targeted from the start, our nurturing campaigns don’t need to be a complex set of branches — they are simpler, easier to analyze and improve, and they perform well from the very start. We don’t send a six-email campaign hoping that one of those messages will resonate. Instead, we know they all will, and that they are all in context of one another.

 

personalized email

 

Taking things a step further, personalizing your email communications with details from your database (using a lead’s name, sending an email from the sales rep who owns the lead, even mentioning other details about the lead’s business) makes for a well targeted email that reads more like a one-to-one exchange than a marketing email.

Mistake #2: Your Campaign Relies Solely on Email to Get a Targeted Message Out

There’s no doubt that doing stellar email marketing is important. When done properly, email and marketing automation can generate great results and pull interested prospects back to your website.

That being said, relying too heavily on email (or relying entirely on email, as most marketers tend to do) is fraught with problems, particularly the following two.

1) It’s getting harder and harder to effectively reach your leads through email.

Yes, email is easy for us marketers to send, but take a look in your own inbox and think about how you manage the barrage of messages you get. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your prospects aren’t using the same tactics you might be — filters in Gmail, priority inbox, and bulk deleting marketing emails without batting an eyelash.

2) Ignoring other channels means your prospects see different, fragmented messages depending on where they find your brand.

As we mentioned before, your leads (hopefully) aren’t sitting by their inbox waiting for your marketing emails in order to find your content and learn more about your business. Instead, they’re searching for you on Google and coming back to your website through social media, among other things. When they make their way to those deep pages on your website, what do they see? If you are focused solely on email, they probably aren’t seeing the same targeted message they got from you in their inbox on your website. Instead, they are seeing many different, fragmented marketing messages and value propositions depending on where they go. At best, this kind of fragmentation is ineffective. At worst, it’s a liability if you are putting special messaging or offers in front of specific audiences.

Solution: Customize the content and offers everyone sees on your website.

This really is the Holy Grail of marketing automation, and it’s surprising how few companies do it. You know this kind of marketing from companies like Amazon and Netflix — when you arrive on Amazon.com, you are shown products and calls-to-action that feel like they were suggested by someone who knows you and what you like on a personal level. And yes, you can do the same thing.

 

personalized content

 

If you use HubSpot’s tools, those same segments and lists that automatically allocate leads to specific lead nurturing campaigns can be used to automatically change the content leads see on our website — even on the deepest content pages that don’t get updated all that often. For HubSpot’s own website, this means that a lead who is interested in social media will see content and offers related to social media. A lead who is interested in email marketing will see content and offers related to email marketing. And they don’t just see these messages in one place — leads interested in social media can see a mix of interesting social media offers everywhere they go on our website. It’s a better experience for our leads, and more effective marketing for us.

To learn more about how to leverage dynamic content on your own website, download our free ebook, An Introduction to Using Dynamic Content in Your Marketing.

Mistake #3: You Hammer the Same List and Ignore the Fact That It’s Slowly Dying

Think about your own email inbox. How long do you put up with marketing emails from companies who you don’t intend to buy something from? Have you ever switched jobs, or switched email addresses? These are just a few of the many different reasons why the average email database expires at the rate of ~25% per year. And the harder you market to your list, the less effective it will be over time.

Pause to really think about that for a minute. Let it soak in. Or, let’s just put it into perspective: A database of 50,000 email addresses will have shrunk to 21,000 in just three short years. Fighting attrition is tough enough; *growing* your database on top of that requires some serious coordination. It’s something that affects you today — not the next generation of marketers at your company.

Solution: Marketing automation must be complemented by inbound marketing to be a sustainable strategy over time.

Let’s be blunt for a minute. If you aren’t at least replacing leads at the rate you are burning through them, your marketing database is dying.

If leads are coming out of your database at a constant rate, you will need a way to consistently feed your database with brand new leads. There is no better way to do that than inbound marketing — creating content that naturally attracts real people who need what you provide, building a relationship with them over time, and being there at the right time and place when they are ready to buy.

LinkedIn’s New “Endorse Me” & Meetup’s New “Good To See You” Features

October 16th, 2012

I hadn’t read anything about these new features coming soon on LinkedIn or Meetup, so when I started to see the subject line “So and So has endorsed you” and “Good to See You” pop up in my email inbox by the dozens, I was pleasantly surprised and also wondering, “How did I suddenly become so popular?”

LinkedIn’s Endorse Me: This seems to be a way for LinkedIn to become more “social”. Unlike the Recommendations tool, where an Account user is making a request to individuals of his or her choice, LinkedIn is popping windows up on your profile with your Contacts, posing the question, “Would you endorse ‘so-and-so’ in..” with a specific job skill. At first, it appears like LinkedIn is just asking you a question, but in fact, you are about to communicate with someone that perhaps you haven’t communicated to in months or years! What do we think of this new feature? For us, we’d like a few months to see how it works into people’s everyday habits.

Meetup’s “Good To See you”: At first I thought it was a genuine effort by one of the members of my Photoshop Users Group! We had just concluded our monthly meeting, and it seemed like a thoughtful gesture. I was tricked! I started to get a handful at once with the same subject line!

Again, Meetup feels a need to get their usets to be more “social”. Is this one working? I thought it was pretty cool. Without really making any effort, I just said thanks to 20 attendees for joining us for the last users group meeting. Impersonal with a personal touch. What do you think of this new feature? Will it last beyond 2012? Or get old before Christmas?

Let us know what you think of these 2 new features. How can it help you as an employee, business owner, group leader, or member? Any ideas for making them work better? Or should we all just stick to Facebook?

Three Tips For Raising More Money At Your Fundraising Events

September 25th, 2012

As a volunteer or leader for your non profit, you may be doing your research and education to uncover the best new, innovative ways to increase revenue and attendance for your fundraising events. But let’s not forget tried-and-true methods that should continue to be an integral part of your event preparation.

These three tips were offered by The Fundraising Authority in its August 14, 2012 e-Newsletter, and republished by Animal Shelter Fundraising in their newsletter published Sept. 25, 2012.

#1:  Use the Phone

Yes, you should send out event invitations.  Yes, you should send out sponsorship letters to prospective sponsors for the event.  Yes you should use PR, your e-mail newsletter, and every other method at your disposal to raise money for your fundraising event.  But, the most powerful weapon in your arsenal is… the phone.

Many non-profits that would never think of trying to run a $500,000 major giving fundraising campaign without making calls and doing face-to-face meetings will none the less try to raise the same amount for an event simply by sending out letters and invitations and doing a nice event sponsorship package that gets mailed out to donors.

Don’t make this mistake… treat your event like you would a capital campaign.  Start with your prospective sponsors, and after you send out a letter, do calls and one-on-one meetings.  Then move to your prospective event guests – target people who could buy whole tables and/or sell 5 or 10 tickets to the event and give them a call or go see them at their office.

Pick up the phone and use it to generate revenue for your next fundraising event.

 

#2:  Find Supporters Who Will “Own” the Event

Most non-profits know the importance of putting together a host committee for fundraising events, but very few put together event committees that really move the revenue dial.  Instead, many organizations end up with a committee that spends all of its time discussing the menu and the floral arrangements, and then at event time asks for a discount on the ticket price for host committee members.

Without fail, the organizations that hold the biggest fundraising events (in terms of net revenue, not attendees) put together host committees comprised of supporters  (a) who  understand that this is a fundraising event, and the job of the committee is to raise money, and (b) who “own” the event, taking personal responsibility for meeting the event fundraising goals by working hard to sell sponsorships and tickets.

If your organization isn’t putting together host committees like this, now is the time to start.  This year, for your next event, try to start adding committee members who will own the event, and make it clear to the entire committee that meeting the event’s fundraising goal is priority #1.

 

#3:  Do One Remarkable Thing at Each Function

The success of an annual non-profit fundraising event grows over time.  If attendees enjoy themselves at your event this year, you can be sure that they come to the event next year and will talk about it with their friends and colleagues, some of whom will likely attend as well.  As the years go by, your event gets bigger and bigger, and in turn, you are able to raise more revenue with each succeeding year.

A great way to accelerate this process is to make sure your organization does at least one really remarkable, water-cooler-gossip-worthy thing at each event.  This could be an simple as having a local celebrity attend as a surprise guest, or as complicated as renting out the next-door pub for an after-party at your annual young professionals event.

Whatever it is that you decide to do, doing something really remarkable will get people talking about your event – and in turn, will make more people want to come to your event next year.

 

 

What is Considered a Professional Email Address? And Why Is It Important?

September 18th, 2012

professional email addressI’ve been asked several times why I highly recommend setting up your email address to match your business’s domain, i.e. if your business domain name is www.mybiz.com, your email address should be” myname@md311.phpwebhosting.commybiz.com”.  If you can afford to purchase your domain name, then please take the time to sign up for a free Google Apps account and set up professional email addresses for you and your employees. Using  professional email addresses to communicate with colleagues, clients, and display on business identity collateral is a very simple yet effective way to appear as a legitimate business that has longevity, stability, and perceived as a “real” business.

 

Surprisingly, there really aren’t many articles on the web that talk about what is professional email address is. I found one great resource that clearly explains how to identify professional email addresses on www.daniweb.com. The original post can be found here: http://www.daniweb.com/community-center/threads/218079/what-is-a-professional-email-address#

 

A professional e-mail address is defined as one that, in its entirety, represents and reflects the professional interests of the user or owner of the e-mail address itself. A professional e-mail address forms a constituent part of how individuals or organisations actively market their products, services, skills, or professional objectives. A professional e-mail address also therefore communicates factual, useful, and meaningful information about the owner or user of the address.

To determine whether an e-mail address is professional, ambiguous, or unprofessional, both parts of the address, i.e. the local element before the ‘@md311.phpwebhosting.com’ sign and the domain name that follows have to be considered. Furthermore both elements have to be judged singularly and jointly to determine whose interests the e-mail address best represents.

To clarify further it is worth looking at examples and classifying them accordingly. For the purpose of examination the examples are based on the premise that the owner is using the e-mail address in a professional context.

Examples and classification

john.doe@md311.phpwebhosting.comcompanyABC.com
Context: John Doe has a professional relationship with the domain name owner.
In this example the local element before the ‘@md311.phpwebhosting.com’ sign adopts a conventional, informative and factual format, and the domain name represents and promotes the interests of an entity that John Doe has a professional relationship with (namely companyABC).
Class: Professional.

sales@md311.phpwebhosting.comcompanyABC.com
Context: ‘sales’ has a professional relationship with the domain name owner.
In this example the local element before the ‘@md311.phpwebhosting.com’ sign adopts a conventional, informative and factual format, and the domain name represents and promotes the interests of an entity that ‘sales’ has a professional relationship with (i.e. companyABC).
Class: Professional.

jane.doe@md311.phpwebhosting.commortgagebrokers-sonline.com
Context: The domain owner has a professional relationship with Jane Doe and others who operate in the mortgage broker industry.
From Jane Doe’s perspective the domain name represents three separate entities: Jane herself, others that use mortgagebrokers-online to market their services, and the entity that operates mortgagebrokers-online itself. In this case separate parties are operating in consensus to share a domain name for mutual advantage The domain name identifies and communicates the industry that Jane is operating in, and the local element before the ‘@md311.phpwebhosting.com’ sign, (i.e. her name), is conventional, informative, and factual.
Class: Professional.

john.doe@md311.phpwebhosting.comit-consultant.com
Context: john.doe is an IT consultant but has no professional relationship with the domain owner.
In this example the local element before the ‘@md311.phpwebhosting.com’ sign is conventional, informative, and factual, and the domain name acts to identify and therefore market John Doe’s skills or services.
Class: Professional.

teddy.bears@md311.phpwebhosting.commyunusual-domain.com
Context: the term ‘teddy.bears’ has a professional relationship with myunusual-domain.com and is relevant to a service, product, or other element associated with the owners’ professional interests.
This e-mail address can initially appear to be unprofessional however the owner may be providing a niche service. From the owner’s perspective the entire e-mail address may accurately reflect their business interests in a meaningful and professional sense.
Class: Professional.

companyABC@md311.phpwebhosting.comyahoo.com
Context: companyABC and yahoo.com have no professional relationship.
In this example the elements before and after the ‘@md311.phpwebhosting.com’ sign adopt a conventional, informative and factual format. Use of this e-mail address virally markets the name of companyABC, however it also endorses the services of the webmail service / domain owner. CompanyABC is using an address that in its’ entirety, does not represent or promote its professional interests. Given the relative ease of acquiring a professional domain name, and the fact that companyABC is claiming an Internet presence, use of this email address is not considered professional.
Class: Ambiguous / unprofessional.

jane.doe@md311.phpwebhosting.comgmail.com
Context: jane.doe and gmail.com have no professional relationship.
As with the previous example this address acts to serve the interests of the domain owner / service provider. Whilst jane.doe has elected to use a standard format for the local element before the ‘@md311.phpwebhosting.com’ sign, the overall e-mail address does not actively market or promote her professional interests.
Class: Unprofessional.

johndoe.superguy06@md311.phpwebhosting.comhotmail.com
Context: johndoe.superguy06 and hotmail.com have no professional relationship. Assuming Johndoe has no professional interest associated with the term ‘superguy06’ this e-mail address does not actively promote or market johndoe in a professional context. Furthermore, the format used before the ‘@md311.phpwebhosting.com’ sign is, for argument purposes, neither factual nor informative and will not be respected professionally. The address does however actively promote the e-mail service provider. Johndoe has endorsed their service and is performing viral marketing on their behalf. From the service providers perspective their professional interests have been represented in a positive manner by the fact that Johndoe is using their product.
Class: Unprofessional.

Conclusion
In order for an e-mail address to be classified as professional, ambiguous, or unprofessional, it needs to be considered in context, format, and in terms of factual and informative content. The local and domain name elements of the address need to be considered in their relationship to each other, and the intended audience of the e-mail address needs to be understood.

14,000+ Weekly Visits to Your Website. Realistic Goal? YES!

August 30th, 2012

These are real weekly stats received by Muttville Senior Dog Rescue. On average, Mutville’s website receives 10,000 to 20,000 visits per week. It fluctuates depending on the time of year,  news coverage, fundraisers, events, or campaigns under way.

Muttville’s website launched 5 years ago, and has steadily received this level of traffic for the last 3 years.

Interested in learning some of Muttville’s Marketing and PR efforts? Here is a list of some of the organization’s regular activities, both online and offline, to give you an idea:

 

 

Online Efforts

Blogging: Muttville posts 2-3 times a week. Every blog is shared on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Twitter: Muttville tweets every blog post, event, and dog profile as soon they are published. Profiles are retweeted until dogs are adopted.

Facebook: Muttville posts every blog post, event, and dog profile on Facebook as soon as they are published. They also have a custom Facebook tab with all links back to the website of each dog available for adoption. They also have custom tabs with links to various website pages: Give, Adopt, Foster, Volunteer.

YouTube: Muttville has accumulated a pretty decent library of videos. In November, we were pleased to have a new volunteer who studied film, and was interested in producing our very own Holiday themed video. Starring Muttvillle mutts, it was entitled “A Christmas Tail”. It launched December 22. By New Year’s Day, it had over 4000 views. Muttville plans on producing a documentary style video and a few more fun short films in 2012. A special video is produced every year and premiered at the annual fundraiser, Moolah For Mutts. This year’s video was called “Suma’s Story”.

Social Responsible Sites: Muttville is a beneficiary of various revenue-generating services, like KarmaWell, Rally.org and Causes.org. Participating on sites like these not only earns donations to non-profits like Muttville, it also offers a valuable Marketing opportunity for non-profits to share their missions and causes to new audiences.

Other Social Media: Muttville also uses Digg, Foursquare, Instagram, as well as countless shares to other sites, thanks to our supporters and volunteers.

Inbound Links: These are some of the highest sources of traffic. These sites posts Muttville’s dog profiles of adoptable dogs: The Shelter Pet Project, Petfinder, Dogtime, PetBond, Adopt-A-Pet. Weekly, these sites provide about 50% of the total site visitors. If you didn’t know the importance of effective inbound links, here are shining examples. Businesses can create similar traffic through affiliate marketing programs.

Email Marketing: Many Muttville supporters came to know this organization to adopt a dog or simply to offer a one time donation. Muttville continues to show gratitude to every supporter with on-going communication through email marketing efforts. Often times, the subjects of our newsletters are happy and positive, to share a success story from a fellow adopter, to share a personal heartfelt thanks from our founder,  and sometimes to celebrate special occasions with our pets. Once a year, the efforts are focused for the annual Matching Grant Fundraiser.

Contests: Muttville enters many contests every year. The benefits are plenty –  a chance to repurpose excellent collateral – videos, photos, and advertisements – produced by professionals (all volunteers). The marketing and promotion efforts for the call-to-action (i.e. votes or FB likes or watching a video) are shared with the company or business sponsoring the contest; it is a great excuse to team up with supporters; and the actions can be done by anyone who has access to a computer. Of course the biggest benefit are the prizes. This past year, Muttville won these prizes as a result of winning or placing in various contests:  a new Toyota Sienna, thanks to the Toyota 100 Cars For Good contest, SF Giants star pitcher Tim Lincecum promoted a Muttville dog and spent time taking photos and video, thanks to popchips, a $10,000 grant and the title “San Francisco’s Favorite Charity” by 7×7 Magazine, and a $5000 grant from Sliderocket.

Offline Efforts

Weekly Outreach Events: Every Sunday and many Saturdays, Muttville has outreach events at retail locations, outdoor city locations with heavy foot traffic, and even their own established “pup-up store”. For two months, Muttville occupied a former retail store in San Francisco and held adoption events on Saturdays an Sundays all December and January. It was perfect timing for the holidays. Later this year, Muttville will have a permanent location on 16th Street near Florida St in San Francisco.

Speaking Engagements: Sherri Franklin is known as an expert in senior canine care, and she has over a dozen speaking engagements under her belt, not to mention countless interviews for radio, TV and news. Speaking for various organizations and fundraisers has created widespread awareness of Muttville’s senior canine cause.

News and Radio: Publicist Patty Stanton takes every accomplishment Muttville achieves and announces it to every media contact she knows.  Plus, as Patty taught me, every accomplishment is a big deal if you make it a big deal.

Fundraisers: Who doesnt love a good party? There are many supporters that  splurge all their support into Muttville’s one big night every year. Smaller fundraisers are always great too, and always can attract new traffic from the venue, location or the donors who the space, provide auction items, catering, etc

Socially Responsible Businesses: Similar to socially responsible websites, Muttville is always honored to be the beneficiary of a fundraising event hosted and organized by a business that supports Muttville’s cause. Muttville shows its gratitude by cross-promoting these businesses and including the events on our website’s calendar, which always is posted to Muttville’s Facebook wall and tweeted to our twitter followers.

All these efforts are donated by volunteers. If you don’t have staff, try interns and students help get you started on a few of these tactics. Or give Switchblade a call!