How Marketers Can Prepare Sellers to Keep Pace with Modern Buyers

Today’s buyers are in a class all their own: They’re independent, they do their research, and they demand detailed answers to their questions. Modern buyers don’t want to be sold at, they want to be talked to. They’re looking for content that’s pertinent to their situation, and they want to work with trusted advisors who are ready and willing to lead their prospects through every step of the purchasing process. 

Before marketers can arm their sales team with content worthy of these informed buyers, marketing and sales teams require immediate and convenient access to assets, tools, and training––all within a single source of truth. 

If you’re seeking answers for how to centralize your content and ensure your reps have everything they need to win deals, follow these steps.  

modern buyers

Strive to simplify.

As early as 2016, marketers reported that 47% of buyers were likely to review three to five pieces of marketing content before even speaking to a sales rep (and we can only assume that number has risen in the last four years). Given the multitude of moving parts within marketing and sales departments, it’s now more vital than ever to simplify content production processes and align on providing a cohesive customer experience.

Tips on how to simplify: 

First, develop a plan to consolidate your content across all departments. Identify all content storage locations, and then consider: 

  • Where can these materials be accessed and by who? 
  • Does your team have the means to establish a single, reliable repository for content and training?
  • What tools are in place for notifying sellers and marketers if content is updated? 

Depending on how you answer that second question, it may be useful to implement sales enablement best practices. A sales enablement solution provides a centralized platform for uploading, organizing, managing, and sharing content, including training materials. An advanced solution will also include interdepartmental communication capabilities and analytics — for example, data on content engagement and performance.

Prioritize alignment. 

Buyers expect unique and highly customized buying experiences. And regardless of the challenges, sales reps will have to keep up. Given the heightened competition, well-laid sales plans should keep seller preparedness front and center. 

These trends signal a need for tight sales and marketing alignment. Working in lockstep will save companies time and effort by keeping teams in sync when it comes to content creation, usage, and performance. Once the teams are properly aligned, companies can then implement an integrated strategy for managing, stockpiling, and disseminating all sales-related materials. As a result, marketers and sellers will be able to breathe easy knowing that the sales team will always be prepared for every customer conversation. 

Tips on how to stay aligned: 

When determining whether or not your sales reps have the knowledge and tools to make their next pitch, ask yourself: 

content mapping

Once you’ve answered these questions, make a point to re-examine marketing and sales processes with an eye to fixing any gaps you may have identified.

Keep content current. 

Sales reps are well aware of the expectations that fuel their results-driven fire. They likewise know that they need access to all content and training solutions necessary to provide their buyers with real value. Plus, reps need to find and deliver materials specifically curated for each individual buyer, making the job that much harder. 

When a buyer requests a certain asset, be it a case study or contract, a seller needs a seamless, expedited process for creating, distributing, and monitoring that material. Moreover, all company content (educational or otherwise) should feature the most up-to-date, relevant, brand-compliant information available. 

Tips on keeping content up-to-date: 

The key here is to implement systems for complete content evaluation, including plans for tracking buyer and seller engagement as well as for assessing content performance overall. 

Begin by considering:

  • Is sales content current?  Do you have a way to ensure that the assets that sales reps use have the latest messaging and design? 
  • How does your content change over time? What edits are your reps making to your assets once they get out in the field? 
  • How well does your content perform with buyers? How can you measure this performance in a quantifiable way? 

Sales enablement solutions can handle content management and offer comparative views of different versions of specific assets, demonstrating how a piece of content is modified over time. These tools can give marketers a fuller understanding of how their content is performing and can likewise alert marketers as to whether or not the alterations made to an asset remain acceptable and on-brand. Content engagement capabilities provide insight into how buyers interact with your marketing materials with a variety of valuable KPI metrics, from website scroll depth, to click activity, pitch views, asset downloads, and more. This raw data can be used to glean insights, which can, in turn, inform the creation of new content campaigns.

In this new age of the educated buyer, marketers can gain a real advantage if they deploy the tools and techniques that make it easy to partner with their sales team in driving business growth together. Innovative technology, such as sales enablement solutions, make it possible to meet the demands of modern buyers.  By integrating a holistic system for organizing, sharing, and analyzing all content, marketers will be better able to focus on creating content that sets their sales team up for success. 

Thanks to Highspot for this guest post.

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Lead Generation Guide: Basics of Lead Gen

If you’re in sales and marketing, there’s no doubt you’ve heard about lead generation. Business folks, in general, are probably at least a little familiar with it. Maybe it’s discussed in business conversations you’re apart of or you’ve seen it in sales and marketing materials. But what’s all the fuss about? What’s so important about lead generation? We’re here to break down the basics of what it is, what’s tough about it, why it’s worth it, trends to watch for and how tools can help with it all. 

HubSpot defines lead generation as the process of attracting and converting strangers and prospects into someone who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service. Lead generators are things like job applications, blog posts, live events, coupons or online content. These types of things {hopefully} create interest and attract potential customers. The goal is to create unique ways to get people, the right people, interested in your business. 

Lead generation sounds simple enough, right? Well, if it were that easy, everyone would do it and do it successfully. We know it’s not that simple, so we put together a few insights into lead generation to help get you started.

Click here to have the lead generation guide emailed to you.

2019 MnSearch Summit Team Takeaways

Self-proclaimed SEO Geeks from far and wide gathered in St. Paul at the 2019 MnSearch Summit, including the Lake One Team. A non-profit organization founded for and by search marketing geeks, MnSearch aims to speak directly to the search marketing professional and raise the standards and awareness of search in Minnesota.

Didn’t attend the conference? We’ve got you covered in the best TLDR summary of the summit; our key takeaways.

2019 MnSearch Summit

Rachael’s MnSearch Favs

I’ve attended conferences in the past where keynotes were snoozefests and sessions turned out to be not very relevant to my role. However, as a MnSearch first-timer, I’m thrilled to say, that was not the case with the Summit. Here are my top 3 takeaways from the day. 

#1. SEO is a Long-game

I attended the Search Presence Intelligence session with Stephan Bajaio and he opened the session with an analogy comparing Paid Media and SEO to day trading and a 401k. It’s relatable and easy to understand which is precisely why it makes my list. 

Here’s why that analogy makes sense:

  1. SEO is long-game just like retirement.
  2. Your odds of retiring off of day trading alone isn’t very high and neither is achieving all of your digital marketing goals with paid media alone. 

In our work as digital marketers, our clients’ SEO knowledge ranges from beginner to advanced and this analogy is a great one to add to our toolbox when explaining the law that is Google to clients.

#2. Tie PR Activities to Branded Keywords

Often times when reviewing organic keywords and traffic, we pull out the brand-related terms because we are focused on additional keyword terms and phrases related to the buyer’s journey, product offering, etc. However, Will Scott brought up a great point about using branded keyword traffic patterns to help attribute PR efforts.

Of course, we all know that when it comes to PR, merging offline media mentions, mentions without linkage, and other digital efforts can get a little messy and sometimes difficult to attribute. But Will Scott said something impactful. When using branded keyword traffic (or insert any metric here) if there is a significant enough of a correlation in the data, then you can infer causation. So for example, if you are quoted on the local tv news talking about a brand offering and you see a significant spike in direct traffic for that time frame and on the topic of the mention – you can infer causation. Because likely what’s happening is that a user is hearing your brand/offer and typing it directly into Google.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about UTM parameters, but in the event that a custom link wasn’t placed or it’s not part of the deal, a branded terms breakout is a helpful tip. 

#3. Personas Simplified 

Personas. You either love them or you hate them. If you don’t buy into the naming, the persona stories, etc. Kevin Indig had a super simple way of explaining personas and getting down to the nitty-gritty in 3 sentences (or less, depending on your phrasing ;))

I am a ……
Who wants to ….
So I can …..

For example: I am an HR Recruiter who wants to attract and retain top talent to my company so I can reduce turnover and fill open positions quickly with quality candidates.

The above is the bare bones. At Lake One, we prefer to go a little deeper with our personas to fully understand their pain and questions, but for those who can get lost in the weeds, start with the easy guide.

Danielle’s MnSearch Favs

#1. Google Your Company and Specific Pages

It’s hard to attribute this takeaway to any one speaker. Almost every single one touched on it in some way or fashion. You should be Googling your company, and not just for the reasons you think like rankings. Run searches on your individual blog posts to look at your meta descriptions and how your post appears in the results. 

By doing so, you’ll see what your posts and pages look like in the search results. There might be something awry in how it displays. An abbreviation from “do not” to “do”, for example, can turn an intelligent blog to utter nonsense at first glance in the results. 

Also, by searching for your specific pages, you can see if your results appear anywhere else in the results that is not a standard blue weblink. You might have gotten the Snippet position, showed up in the map pack, or potentially even lost your #1 seat to a barrage of other knowledge graphs and Google answers. The best way to find this out is to run the searches yourself. 

And don’t forget to do it on mobile too! 

#2. Intent Rules the Roost

As marketers, it’s easy to get caught up in keyword volume and the opportunity therein. So it was nice to have a refresher on search intent with Jenny Halasz. Search intent is the difference between searching “Cardiology” and “Cardiologist.” 

Cardiology = Intent to find answers on the topic: the profession, procedures, or definitions. Results will likely be pages similar to WebMD.
Cardiologist = Intent to find a medical professional “near me”. Results will likely be a map pack and clinics/specific doctors. 

So, when ideating for your keyword targets, make sure to take intent into consideration. Your results will be more relevant and have a higher possibility of ranking when you’re matched with the answer the user hopes to find. 

Furthermore, we also learned about considering Google’s intent. In almost every session I attended, the speakers addressed how Google is shifting from being a search engine to an answer engine. Their intent is to provide an answer to the user as soon as they can without navigating off of the SERP page. For marketers, that means creating content that serves this purpose

#3. Make Conversions Easy

The last breakout session I attended was with Roger Dooley, author of FRICTION. He talked about removing friction from the buyer’s journey at every step. In short, the easier it is to convert, the more likely people are to do it. Furthermore, when something can be done easier than the other options available, loyalty is built. An example of this is 1 click buying through Amazon or having to sign into a lengthy registration page to buy the same thing from another retailer.

The inbound way usually has an offer (eBook, checklist, webinar, guide…) gated behind a form. We trade contact information for access to our content. So before you blow up your forms with every little nice-to-have piece of information, think about the UX. Do you really *need* to know company size and revenue and favorite color in that awareness ebook form? Probably not. Scrap it and remove the friction to converting. Read more on that, here.

Ryan’s MnSearch Favs

Sometimes “Advanced SEO” means focus on the essentials

Portent CEO Ian Laurie ran a session on advanced SEO. Rather then a bunch of techno mumbo jumbo he pointed out that being advanced often means focusing on the essentials. He outlined 8 principles of advanced SEO. These were my faves: 

#1. Just Fix It

rel= canonical, 301, 302 redirects, url exclusions and so on often are band-aids for seo hot messes. Or, as Ian puts it – abstractions. Essentially they’re an attempt to tell Google: 

via GIPHY

Instead, Ian argues JUST FIX IT. Novel idea – right? 

#2. Find a Source of Truth

We all like to consider ourselves data-driven marketers. We come bearing our tools and data ready to wield insights and put together strategies. Ian points out that when it comes to search, some of the tools don’t quite measure up. When trying to diagnose major problems, you can’t argue against the source of truth. He shared some great methods at reviewing log files. More on that here.

#3. Look at The SERPs

Lastly, you just can’t beat looking at how actual search results are showing up. With how rich the results are now between links and snippets, taking some time to look to see what kind of information Google is actually choosing to share for your query can help inform your overall strategy. 

To be honest, throughout several sessions the “Look at the SERPs” was a constant and present reminder. 

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6 Common Misconceptions about Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses all of the different marketing techniques that take place online. It can include any of the following, and more:

  1. Websites/Landing pages
  2. Social media marketing (SMM)
  3. Inbound marketing
  4. Content marketing
  5. Email marketing
  6. Pay-Per-Click (PPC)
  7. Search Engine Marketing (SEM)
  8. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  9. Affiliate & Influencer marketing

There are all kinds of digital marketing companies and experts, critics and avid fans, so there is a lot of information (and misinformation) out there. Here are 6 common misconceptions about digital marketing.

 Misconceptions about Digital Marketing

1) Digital marketing is best suited for large businesses.

A major goal of digital marketing is to increase brand awareness and grow a business. Most small businesses have big aspirations- they’d like to become more well-known with strong desires to find and help their ideal customers. Digital marketing creates opportunities for small businesses that may not be possible with an offline-only presence.

Think an inbound digital strategy might be right for you? Click to find out.

Digital marketing allows you to reach potential customers both far and wide. Many successful small businesses have used digital marketing to grow and scale on a global level even without having a physical location. Moreover, social media provides a means to highlight important information and allows you to have one-on-one or one-to-many conversations, often without any money spent. It’s one of the more cost-effective ways to spread the word about the good work your company is doing. In many ways, it provides an equal opportunity to businesses of all shapes and sizes. You can start small and as you start seeing results, increase the time and money you put into it to increase your returns.

2) Digital marketing doesn’t need to play a part in company-wide goals.

Whatever your larger sales and company goals are, digital marketing should be a part of it. That is to say, it should be included in your overarching company strategy, aligned with your goals, brand, and vision from top to bottom. Sometimes marketing as a whole (not just digital) is put into a corner left to fend for itself. However, we know from experience that the most successful programs are aligned with the rest of the company and aimed at the same goals. Learn more about how you can align sales and marketing here.

3) Digital marketing is basically just creating a website.

If you spend time creating a stunning, interactive website and don’t do anything to promote it, how will people possibly find it? There are thousands of new websites popping up every single day; digital marketing is how you drive traffic to your website.

SEM/SEO paired with a solid content strategy, if done right, allow your information to be found when people are searching for what you offer. Once people actually reach your website, digital marketing efforts will continue to motivate people into a purchase or bottom of funnel action such as submitting a contact form. 

misconceptions about digital marketing

4) It’s too difficult to measure and track digital marketing’s ROI.

There are hundreds of affordable and easy to use tools and methods to track and measure your digital marketing efforts. Many of these platforms are essentially plug-and-play and can be implemented without tech expertise. Even if you need to pull in IT, tracking clicks, conversion rates, site traffic, etc. is far easier than tracking the effectiveness of a radio ad, for instance.  

No matter the method or tool utilized, one of the most important things is to be organized in the beginning and set definitive goals for your different digital marketing efforts. If you start with a SMART goal in mind including specific factors that point to success, along with a timeframe for when to evaluate, that starts you off on the right foot to track how things have gone since the beginning.  

5) Once digital marketing is set, you can forget it.

One of the most exciting and potentially difficult things about digital marketing is the fact that it is constantly evolving and shifting. What was once converting yesterday may not work tomorrow. For instance, short video content (15-45 seconds) was all the rage, but now 1:30-3 minute videos seem to be consumer preference. 

The constant change in the field means that you will need to keep your information and methods up to date or risk falling behind and getting lost in the shuffle. Another example is how Google updates its search algorithms continually. They won’t disclose what is actually included in the algorithm, but we do know that their algorithm values fresh, new information including info on your blogs and websites.

If you don’t have the time or desire to keep up with digital marketing methods or maintain fresh, new information, there are many effective digital marketing companies dedicated to doing that work for you.  

6) Digital Marketing needs to be perfect before launching.

One of the greatest things about digital marketing is it’s different for every company and even every initiative. Your company and offerings are as unique as your customers, and the best way to find what works for how to reach them is through trial and error.  

Here at Lake One, we believe in progress over perfection. So, don’t be afraid to try new things, keep track of what you’ve tried, and the results of those efforts. Put more effort into utilizing the methods that work well and simply let go of the things that don’t.

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Anatomy of an Inbound Marketing Campaign

When it comes to human anatomy, every organ and system is essential for optimal function. The same rings true when it comes to your inbound marketing campaign. There are a lot of moving pieces and parts, and each one is vital to discovering and capturing maximum results. We’ve broken down the anatomy of an inbound marketing campaign below. So, grab your lab coats and highlighters and let’s dive in!

via GIPHY

The Brain – Your Inbound Strategy

Your inbound strategy is as important to your overall marketing campaign as your brain is to your body’s ability to function. Your strategy directs all systems. It’s the driver of collaboration on all parts toward a collective purpose.

Take the easy way out. Let an agency build out your campaign for you. Here’s how to pick a good one.

Like the brain, a solid strategy requires both input and output from the rest of the body. Other pieces must be functional to support the brain in a cyclical fashion.  

The Heart: Your Target Persona(s)

The heart is the strongest muscle in the human body- it pumps life into every vital organ with a rhythmic beat. For this reason, your personas are the heart of your inbound campaign. Everything you do should be with careful consideration of your persona because even the best thought out strategies will fail if they don’t meet the persona’s needs or pique their interest. 

You should most likely have between 2-5 Buyer Personas within your strategy. For each persona, define job title, decision-making power, and typical objectives and challenges they encounter.

inbound marketing campaign

The Veins: Your Buyer’s Journey

The buyer’s journey is the potential steps that each persona might take in order to become a customer of your company. In anatomy, the veins are how the heart pumps blood through the body. So naturally, the buyer’s journey is the veins of your campaign- how your persona flows. 

This journey typically happens in three stages: awareness, consideration, and decision.

  • Awareness Stage: This is when one of your persona’s starts to become aware that they have an issue or need. They may begin searching at this point for information about the actual issue itself, whether others are experiencing a similar issue, and how to address it. 
  • Consideration Stage: This stage is when the persona fully understands their need and begins to search for potential solutions to the issue at hand. 
  • Decision Stage: At this stage, your persona has done a good amount of research and is narrowing down the possible options, which hopefully involve considering your offering.

Your marketing funnel is how you set up different stages of the buyer’s journey. Picture a good, old-fashioned household funnel which is larger at the top and gets smaller toward the bottom so you can siphon whatever you need to through the funnel into a container. In the case of your customers and your marketing funnel, you’ll be siphoning your prospects through your marketing funnel into your sales team’s bucket.

The awareness stage will be at the top, the largest part of the funnel, with abundant traffic but not necessarily the most qualified people. The consideration stage is in the middle; fewer enter this stage than the awareness stage, but the ones who do have higher potential than those who exited at awareness. The decision stage is the smallest point of the funnel where leads are making choices and converting to customers.

These stages are also referred to as the TOFU (Top of the Funnel), MOFU (Middle of the Funnel), and BOFU (Bottom of the Funnel). You may have additional stages within these depending on the complexity of your particular buyer journeys.

Have a lead come in on BOFU content? Here’s how to follow up with them.

The Spine – Your Content

Content is the backbone of your inbound marketing campaign- it supports everything. With direct communication from the brain and infusions from the heart, the spine upholds your message. Your content is how your campaign comes to life.

Your content is extremely important to your campaign because it is how you will get prospects to enter and make their way through your marketing funnel. It’s how eager solution-seeking users come to you to name, understand, and fix their problem.

Great content helps your company gain attention, but even more importantly it allows you to build trust with prospective customers because it offers value without directly seeking anything more from them.

Nervous System: The Buyer’s Journey

The messaging pathways. How your strategy connects to your content. Your content should map to the different stages within your marketing funnel and be targeted at getting a prospect to the next stage.

Let’s take the example of somebody with the problem of generating website leads. Here are some questions/content examples that somebody would be looking for at each stage:

Awareness: Why is my website traffic awful? Why am I not getting any web leads? 

Consideration: Tips for generating more traffic to your site. How digital marketing agencies can help increase traffic.

Decision: How Lake One generates traffic for our clients. Lake One Services: increasing traffic through SEO strategy.

Consider your persona’s pains and needs and what questions they need answered at every stage of the journey. Strategically design your content plan to answer those questions and pose yourself as the right solution at the bottom of the funnel.

inbound marketing campaign

The Extremities – Execution and Distribution

You can have the greatest strategy and the most amazing content, but without execution, no one will ever know. That’s why execution and distribution are the arms and legs of your inbound marketing campaign. 

The Arms – Social Media

Your social media strategy is one of the primary drivers keeping you visible and top of mind for your prospects and customers. It’s important to understand the differences and subtle nuances between the platforms and respect them by using each for what it was designed to do best. For example, LinkedIn tends to have a more professional tone, so you might use it for short product demo videos or to share your blog posts, and save your funny memes or GIFs for Twitter.

It’s also important to know which platforms your prospects utilize. Find out where they hang out and exist in those same spaces with them. Just because this is inbound marketing doesn’t mean you need to make it hard work to find you. Being active in the spaces your prospects spend time in will allow them to see your company as an authority on topics that interest or concern them.

The Legs – Email

If a prospect or customer has entrusted you with their email address by signing up as a subscriber, you better be sure to provide them with regular, valuable, targeted content. Make use of the information you collect from your subscribers and their placement in your marketing funnel to ensure you are sending timely helpful messages. Try to avoid sending blanket emails out to everyone on your list unless the message is actually relevant to all.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your CompanyAnother good practice is to make it easy for subscribers to edit their subscription settings and preferences. This is a great way to build trust and continue to ensure your messages are adding value to the people receiving them.

The History of Inbound Marketing

Inbound marketing has an exciting, rich, and still somewhat young history. The timing of factors like the internet gaining steam, creation of social media, and the mobile phone boom have all played a part in the creation and rising popularity of inbound marketing. We’re going to take you through the history of inbound marketing and some of the differences between traditional and new-age digital marketing, but first, let’s cover the question of what is inbound marketing.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is any strategy that earns the attention of prospects, engages their interest, makes your company easy to find, and builds brand awareness. Some of these strategies include SEO, content marketing, blogs, social media, webinars, online courses, events, and more.

Looking at starting an inbound program? Use this checklist as your guide.

Inbound marketing includes a cyclical relationship with consumers where you attract visitors with content and resources they are interested in or intentionally seeking. Inbound aims to answer the buyer’s questions and problems with content, and then nurture leads through the buying funnel. There is typically an exchange of information between the company and the lead- contact info for an eBook, for example. That contact info is used to personalize, nurture, and inform to hopefully convert them into a customer. Once a customer, the idea is to continue to delight them by adding further value through your relationship with them as a trusted, empathetic advisor. Read more about inbound and why it works here.

The History of Inbound Marketing – The Perfect Storm

Many credit HubSpot’s co-founder and CEO, Brian Halligan with creating inbound marketing. He and his co-founders, Dharmesh Shah and David Meerman Scott, coined the term and the genius theory we associate with inbound marketing in 2005. From there, they built the marketing powerhouse platform Hubspot around that theory.

However, pieces and parts of inbound marketing already existed or were being dreamt up around the same time as Halligan and friends were conceptualizing, creating a perfect storm that eventually led to our modern-day version of inbound marketing.

The 90s – The Beginnings of SEO

The very first search engine, Archie, was created in 1990 as a school project. By ’93, Wandex became the first search engine to crawl the web indexing and searching indexed pages on the web, and our beloved Google was founded in 1998.

According to The History of SEO, SEO symptomatically began to grow out of the development of search engines and the World Wide Web. Results started to be ranked, drawing more traffic to sites as search engines grew “smarter.” Read more about SEO here.

May 1999 – The Release of “Permission Marketing

Another modern-day marketing guru, Seth Godin, quietly released his fourth published book in the exciting, revolutionary year of 1999. The wider marketing world didn’t quite know who Godin was yet, and it was the first time all were exposed to his bald head as he selected it as the primary image on the cover of the book.

Permission Marketing is based on the idea that consumers will come to you and provide you permission to market to them. Godin’s idea was to bring consumers into a long-standing cooperative marketing relationship with multiple layers of exchanging permission and valuable incentives.

In the book, Godin labeled most strategies at the time as Interruptive Marketing, which took the form of advertisements in magazines or on the radio or television, unanticipated telemarketing calls, or annoying internet pop-ups. They were designed to interrupt you in the middle of doing something else and steal your time away. These were typically promotional in the form of a forward, shameless sale, often designed to trigger an emotional response such as fear or anxiety to get you to take an action or make a purchase as soon as possible.

Early 2000’s – The Dawn of Social Media

LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter were all introduced to the world between 2002 and 2006. (Let’s take a moment of silence for MySpace…) These spaces were designed for people to congregate and socialize on the web within their own networks of friends and colleagues. However, the rapid growth and massive popularity of the platforms caught the watchful eyes of businesses rather quickly. Those users were their customers and potential prospects, after all, and they wanted to exist where they spend their time on the web. They were willing to pay to catch the eyes of those users; therefore, social media advertising began.

History of inbound

As you can see, in the twenty years from 1990 to 2010, most of the puzzle pieces for modern inbound marketing fell into place. Pair SEO, fresh value-based marketing ideology, and social media with the mobile phone boom and you’ve got your digital marketing perfect storm.

Traditional vs. Digital Marketing

Traditional marketing is still widely used today. Although digital marketing is newer, it’s gained relevance quickly and caught up with or perhaps even surpassed traditional marketing in popularity and relevance. There are many differences between the two marketing methods which we’ve laid out below. But first, let’s cover what each method entails.

Traditional Marketing

Most everyone is exposed to traditional marketing multiple times throughout every day. Traditional marketing is considered any kind of offline marketing.

  1. Broadcast – TV & radio
  2. Print – newspapers & magazines
  3. Outdoor – billboards & fliers
  4. Direct Mail – catalogs & postcards
  5. Phone – telemarketing & SMS marketing

Digital Marketing

Digital marketing encompasses all of the different marketing techniques that take place online utilizing the internet and internet-connected devices.

  1. Websites/landing pages
  2. Social media
  3. Inbound marketing
  4. Content marketing
  5. Email marketing
  6. SEO
  7. PPC & SEM
  8. Affiliate marketing
  9. Influencer marketing

Looking for agency help with your digital program? Here are some of the benefits.

One-way vs. Interactive

One major setback of traditional marketing is it is a one-way street. Your creatives work hard to come up with a campaign that will be printed or recorded and placed. From there the hope is that the right people will see or hear it, be motivated to take action, and seek out your company or product. But, there is typically no way to know if that particular traditional marketing asset was what drove them to your company. It is mainly just a way to broadcast whatever message you’d like to get out into the world as a way of building your brand and letting people know you exist.

history of inbound marketing

A lot of digital marketing techniques and mediums involve ways to see and interact directly with your potential consumer. You attract them with a message or some kind of content, then they are usually called to take a specific action, like providing their email address. Marketers use this as an indication that it’s time to interact with them by sending content or reaching out to move the consumer through the buying funnel.

Static vs. Fluid

Traditional marketing methods are quite static. A lot of planning goes in to creating a 60-second radio ad or drawing up a 48-foot wide billboard that will be up over a major highway for 3 months. That planning is essential because once the ad is running or the billboard is placed, it can be nearly impossible to make a change. Usually, with traditional marketing, you’ll have to replace the outdated information with something completely new.

Emails are one of the only digital marketing methods that may be difficult to change once sent. However, it’s easy to send an additional email to note a correction or adjustment. Other than email, most other digital marketing mediums allow for changes to be made on the fly. For example, you can make a quick update to pricing on a landing page, or recalibrate SEO keywords in a published blog.

Ability to Track Results

One of the major advantages of digital marketing is the ability to track and analyze results. Because digital marketing exists online, nearly everything is trackable. As long as you have the tools to collect the relevant data, and expertise to analyze it, you’ll usually be able to decipher which specific techniques are working or not.

Traditional marketing can be nearly impossible to track as it can be difficult to build a correlation between people hearing a radio ad and deciding to walk into your store or visit your website. That certainly doesn’t mean there isn’t value in these tactics. If that were the case, no company would spend $5.25 million on a 30-second ad during the Super Bowl. But, dozens did this year and some even purchased multiple spots.

Cost

Speaking of $5.25 million, traditional marketing can be quite costly (though that’s an extreme example). Because it’s difficult to track results, it is also very hard to decipher ROI from your spend on traditional marketing techniques.

inbound campaign checklist

Digital marketing offers several techniques that come at a very low to no cost to your company. It costs nothing to exist on social media or write a blog article other than your time. Spinning up a website involves cost, but you need one regardless of your marketing strategy. Creating killer content or having an expert help optimize your site for SEO may start to cost a bit. But, having the ability to track results from your different digital marketing techniques allows you to understand ROI and invest in the methods that work for your consumers.

3 B2B SEO Myths

It’s easy to find advice on SEO. Not surprisingly, the companies that are best at it are able to get their pages to rank highly. When you do a search for B2B SEO, you’ll get a ton of results to sift through. You may notice rather quickly that you will see different guidance from one page to the next. It can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Here are three B2B SEO myths we’ve debunked to set the record straight.

B2B SEO Myths

Myth: B2B SEO Needs to Target Top-Level Executives Only

Truth: Executives often appoint other people to perform research for potential purchases and then present detailed options.

Executives are busy people. They probably don’t have time to spend hours sifting through features, calling for pricing, and comparing products. So, they tend to assign someone else to do that work and bring back information for the best options.

Looking for agency help with your B2B strategy? Here’s how to pick a good one.

The decision-making process within B2B companies typically involves a few players. There are decision-makers (usually the executives) and then there are influencers (no, not like the ones on Instagram). An influencer within a decision-making process is a person that is involved in the research phase, like an admin assistant or lower level manager, and although they may not make the final decision on their own, they have a lot of power to influence by providing specific recommendations and suggestions.

Really, your B2B SEO efforts should target the influencers that would be doing the actual searching for your product or solution rather than just the executives that are most likely involved later in the decision making process.

Myth: Mobile Isn’t as Important for B2B as it is for B2C

Truth: 50% of B2B search queries are made on mobile, and this percentage will grow to 70% by 2020.

B2B SEO Myths

Being mobile friendly is important in all industries—it’s the largest source of traffic in nearly all of them.

Unfortunately, many B2B websites are behind the times in design and SEO, even for the desktop, but especially for mobile. A large percentage of B2B sites either have clunky mobile sites or don’t have a mobile version at all.

Most executives and many mid-level managers have company-issued smartphones or tablets and they regularly use them to conduct business, especially if they are on the move a lot. Not just for calls, but also for online research and sometimes even to make purchases for the company.

If your B2B company doesn’t offer a user-friendly mobile site, you may be missing out on business from modern workers that prefer to use their mobile devices and tablets while on the go. [Click here to read more about why B2B SEO is important in the first place.]

Myth: I Just Need a Ton of Content, As Quickly As Possible

Truth: Content for B2B SEO strategy should focus on quality, not quantity.

Content is an extremely important piece of the SEO puzzle, and there are many rumors and untruths around what works and doesn’t. Some believe loading up a ton of mediocre content packed with keywords is all it takes to win. This tactic may have worked one point in time, but random keyword explosions all over your website isn’t a winning strategy anymore. [Read tips on selecting your targeted keywords here.]

B2C relies on making quick, personal connections and triggering emotional responses to get people to purchase on the spot. The goal of an SEO content strategy is usually to rank highly and get in front of as many eyes as possible to raise the likelihood of people making a purchase.

B2B is less personal because the product will typically be utilized by a company instead of a specific individual. SEO is less about getting in front of as many eyes as possible and more about really trying to find the specific sets of eyes that need your product or service the most. Keep in mind that B2B isn’t an overnight win, for B2C or B2B.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company
With the extended length and complexity of many B2B sales cycles, the focus for content should be to provide a ton of value and educate your searchers on how your product or service will solve problems for their company. The primary goal of your B2B SEO content strategy should be to build trust in order to generate and nurture leads to eventually speak to your sales team.

3+ Social Media Marketing Ideas for Construction & Engineering Companies

Historically, construction and engineering companies have been known to heavily utilize one-way advertising including TV and radio ads and billboards, as well as offline face-to-face interactions and word of mouth. These may still work to an extent, but they are limiting in how far they can reach.

An active social media presence allows construction and engineering companies to reach a wider, more receptive audience than traditional marketing. Consumers are spending the majority of their time online. When they are looking for project ideas, answers to questions, or firms to partner with, they are turning to their online communities to find information and engage in conversations. Make sure your firm isn’t overlooked by putting the following social media marketing ideas for construction and engineering companies to work.

Marketing for Construction and Engineering

1. Build Lasting Connections by Being Engaged in Industry Conversations

The construction and engineering industries are constantly evolving. The professionals involved have great stories to tell whether they’re about exciting industry innovations, successes throughout projects, or admirable firm culture. There are many ways to engage with your industry and your target audience using social media; here are a few.

[LinkedIn for B2B is always a good idea. Checkout out our LinkedIn Marketing guide.]

Provide Educational Content on Regulation Changes

Regulations are constantly changing in the construction and engineering industries. Social media is a great medium to have discussions on how to best handle those changes. Make an effort to become actively involved in Groups on LinkedIn or Facebook that address regulations specifically.

Once you’ve started to build a reputation as a thought leader in your Groups, begin creating educational content such as blogs, videos, and infographics that will help others address the regulatory compliance issues your team has conquered. Share these resources in your Groups as well as across all of your social media channels in order to spread their potential impact to a wider audience.

Show Off Your Successes

Your clients and prospects want to know exactly how successful your firm is when it comes to completing projects and staying ahead of your competition. In a way, social media was designed around the idea of showing off a bit, and it’s a great medium to demonstrate your full capabilities. Here are a few ideas to get your humble brag motors turning:

  • Display beautiful photography of your finished work on Instagram, Pinterest, and Houzz
  • Boast about your team’s diversity and inclusion efforts on Instagram
  • Do “sneak peek” walkthrough videos of completed projects for Instagram and Facebook
  • Demonstrate how your firm is innovating using exciting, new tech on LinkedIn

Marketing ideas construction and engineering

Drive Referral Traffic

According to Econsultancy, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook account for 90% of all social referral traffic to business-to-business (B2B) websites, with LinkedIn accounting for more than half (64%). Being engaged regularly on these platforms will keep you visible to your target audience. Even if they don’t need your services right now, they’ll know where to find you when they do in the future. Here are some additional post ideas for LinkedIn to inspire you

2. Get Creative with Video Across Different Social Channels

Video is one of the most powerful marketing tools of our time. It helps draw in new followers and is an exciting way to provide valuable content that actually gets viewed. If you aren’t currently using video in your social media marketing, here is what you are missing:

  • Video content is the best performing content type on social and can help to increase brand awareness, interest, and conversions. (SocialMediaToday)
  • Views of branded video content increased 99% on YouTube and 258% on Facebook between 2016 and 2017. (Wyzowl)
  • On Twitter, a video Tweet is 6x more likely to be retweeted than a photo Tweet. (Wyzowl)

Video production doesn’t need to be extremely technical or time-consuming. According to HubSpot, 56% of all videos published in the last year are less than 2 minutes long, which happens to be the sweet spot for maintaining viewers until the end. Here are a couple of ideas to get you started with video marketing on your social channels.

Live Stream to Provide an Inside Peek at Your Operations

Outsiders probably don’t know what the day to day looks like in construction or engineering. Even your current clients that meet with you regularly may not fully understand how you make decisions and problem solve. Construction and engineering can be quite technical in nature so providing a raw, real-time inside look gives it a human touch and makes it more relatable.

[Before you stream, have a strategy. Here’s how to build a modern marketing strategy for your construction company.]

Live stream content is not only interesting but also beneficial to your curious clients and future prospects as it increases transparency and builds trust with your brand. It is a great way to get useful information to your followers in a way that is easily digestible.

There are many platforms to choose from for streaming. It may be worth it to diversify across several to target different types of audiences. Between four of the major players, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Periscope, there are over 1.1 billion hours of video watched each day.

On several platforms like Facebook and Youtube, when you start a live video, automatic notifications are sent out to pull in followers as you are streaming. A good practice while streaming is to have a moderator prepared to keep an eye on the live chat and respond in real time to questions or comments.

Easily Start a Vlog (Video blog) on YouTube Reusing Your Blog Content

80% of people now prefer videos over blog content and social media posts. All of those people may be skipping past the wealth of information in your blog simply because they’d rather watch or listen to it than read it.

marketing ideas construction engineering

This effort can be as simple as recording someone reading the information out loud. This is a bit more like a podcast because there isn’t a lot of visual value and will be a quick effort but doesn’t take full advantage of the power of video.

To really add value, you could bring in a designer to create a simple but engaging animation that demonstrates visually what is being said in the audio. Another popular strategy is recording a person explaining the content (memorized snippets of the blog) along with intermittent animation overlays to help demonstrate specific points.

3. Amp Up Your Social Media at Expos & Trade Shows

Trade shows and expos can be a powerful marketing and sales channel that allows for informative face-to-face interactions with current clients and potential prospects. In fact, 88% of exhibitors participate in trade shows to raise awareness of the company and its brand.

The key is getting attendees to not only notice your booth amongst hundreds but to be interested in what you have to say or offer. You can use social media to create a buzz and keep people informed throughout the show.

Use SnapChat Geofilters to Draw in a Crowd

You don’t have to have the biggest, most expensive display but everybody knows the booth at the show with excitement and a crowd draws in even more curious people. At your next trade show, utilize a SnapChat geofilter. This can create interest and draw people already at the show to your booth.

You can set your filter for the timing of the show and confine it to the specific location in and around the venue. You can utilize several pre-made SnapChat templates, or if you want to make sure it’s fully branded have your designers create a custom filter. It just needs to follow SnapChat’s custom creation guidelines.

Include your recognizable branding and your precise booth location so people can easily find you. Provide a reason to come to your booth, such as a free t-shirt or some other kind of swag. Most importantly, make sure when people do come to your booth, you help them take pictures using the filter and share to their networks.

[Don’t know how to get started with this? It might be time to work with a digital agency. Learn more.]

Live Tweet Q&A During On-site Presentations

If your business will be doing a live presentation or giving a speech, a Live Tweet Q&A is a great way to wrangle questions from your audience while also making them aware of your presence on Twitter.

This will require a well-advertised hashtag for questions to be submitted; make sure it is discussed prior to the speech beginning and is visible throughout the entire presentation.

For a smaller audience, you could have the speaker keep an eye on the hashtag and try to catch questions coming in real-time and work them into their presentation. But, this can be quite distracting for someone who isn’t well-versed at multitasking.

Another option is to have a moderator keep an eye on the incoming questions, they can sort them into categories, get rid of duplicates, and choose the best questions to be addressed at specified times throughout the presentation.

Pair this Q&A effort with a giveaway where a winner is chosen randomly out of new Follows from the audience throughout the presentation.

LinkedIn Marketing Guide

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a multitude of ways to creatively engage with and market to your target audience using social media. The most important thing to remember is it is all about making and building upon connections and being present, so don’t go in halfway. Committing to being fully engaged on one channel is better than being partially present across several.

How to Raise Your SEO from the Dead

If SEO isn’t constantly a part of your ongoing marketing strategy, it’s easy to fall behind. It’s a little like grades or credit scores. It takes some time to build up to where you’d like to be, but it sure is easy to lose ground quickly when you aren’t focused.

If you find yourself coming back to your SEO and realizing that it has died a swift death while the rest of the internet moved on, don’t worry. There are ways to bring it back to life without starting over completely. Here are our tips on how to do an SEO refresh.

SEO Refresh

Resuscitate Your Old Pages & Articles

Chances are, if you’ve had a blog for a few years, you’ve written about some similar topics quite a few times. When a recycled topic starts trending again, take a look back through your blog to find relevant articles.

[Wondering why SEO is important in the first place? Here’s the answer.]

Instead of dedicating the time to writing a fresh, new article, go back through a couple of the older ones and bring them up to date.

  • Add some current keywords
  • Update your headlines
  • Replace any broken links
  • Make sure your spelling and grammar are perfect
  • Update any statistics
  • Republish as new

Google likes fresh content, and people are more likely to click on articles with recent publication dates.

If you want to get more specific with this strategy, you can find the blogs that were high converting but haven’t seen much traffic lately. Aim to refresh those from an SEO standpoint first. Also, take a look at which of your blogs are receiving the most traffic, but have low conversion rates, and build them up with fresh, new conversion opportunities.

This strategy can also work for your older website pages, especially landing pages. Keep in mind that SEO is about the long game, too.

Revive Your Backlinks

Backlinks are one of the top factors that Google considers in ranking. If it’s been a while since anyone has considered your site an authority on a topic, there are ways to remind them. [Don’t have a backlink strategy? Try these easy to tackles tips.

seo refresh

Do some guest blogging

Guest blogging may take a little time as you’ll need to create your outreach targets, pitch to those people, and the write the accompanying articles should you get a bite on your pitch. In addition to the SEO-boosting backlinks, you’ll get with guest posting, you’ll also be creating relationships and building brand recognition.

If you’re not sure where to start, a quick Google search with your keyword plus “guest posts” or “submit an article” should give you a few options. You can also look at some of the most popular blogs in your niche, see the thought leaders that are contributing there, and locate their profiles to see all of the sites to which they’ve contributed.

Create a timely infographic

Part of your job as a marketer is to understand what issues or topics are trending within your industry. A great way to get noticed quickly is to create an eye-catching infographic about a popular topic.

You’ll need to make sure it is relevant and valuable, including accurate and up-to-date statistics. It will also need to be visually attractive so make sure you have a good designer put it all together with an appealing color scheme and graphics.

Next, you’ll need to get it out into the world. Of course, get it up on your website and share it on all of your social media channels. Also, submit it to infographic directories and do some outreach to sites that have shared similar infographics before or sites that are considered authorities in your niche (they’ll definitely want to share content that is relevant to currently trending topics). Follow these tips on identifying your keywords and topics.

Repurpose Your Existing Content

Get creative about how many different ways you can utilize a single piece of content. For example, a great blog article or white paper can also be turned into a podcast simply by reading the article. You could make the podcast even more interesting by pulling out snippets of the article and interviewing an expert on the topic.

An article could also be turned into a slideshow presentation and uploaded onto LinkedIn or Slideshare. You could turn an infographic into an article or vice versa. Another idea is to grab some of your best-trafficked articles or content, do some keyword research, and create easily-shareable social media graphics with high-performing keywords, informative snippets, and eye-catching creative.

With blog series or long-form articles on a specific topic, consider compiling the information together to create a webinar series. Generate buzz, present live, and record it. Then, turn that recording into a downloadable lead magnet to generate even more contacts.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Repurposing options are pretty limitless and can be fun and allow your team to test their creativity and innovation. If you already have great content, repurposing it can save you a ton of time while also allowing you to quickly build up your pool of updated, fresh content.

 

Why B2B SEO is a Long Game

There are a lot of opinions and misinformation around B2B Search Engine Optimization (SEO). There are people who will swear they’ve figured out the latest and greatest trick and can get any page to rank #1 in a couple of days. Then there are countless articles that lay out the best ways to bypass the rules and get ahead quickly. The problem with this kind of information is that it simply isn’t true. In order to really win, in a consistent and sustainable way, you have to be willing to commit to B2B SEO for the long haul. Here’s why.

how long does B2B SEO take

B2B SEO Cheating Doesn’t Work (for Long)

Google hires geniuses from all over the world. If you think you can outsmart Google geniuses and algorithms, you are probably wrong. There was a time when companies could pay for links or stuff a bunch of white keywords in white space on a page, and for a second, tricks like that might have given them a boost.

A solid B2B SEO plan is part of the modern marketing philosophy. Learn more in our post.

However, Google stays ahead of the cheats these days. They keep their algorithms top secret and change them almost constantly. It is, of course, possible to understand some of the basic caveats of how to rank on Google, but ultimately, it’s a game where the rules constantly change. 

The best way to rank on Google is to become an authority in your particular niche. Create amazingly valuable content on fast, easy-to-navigate pages. Get the attention of others and build real connections to other highly ranked pages through links.

High Quality, Valuable Content Takes Time to Create

Content is valuable and helpful on its own, but pairing it with B2B SEO efforts can allow it to get out in front of a wider audience and to be discovered by more than just your biggest fans. Because of this, a lot of companies have jumped on the “content is king” bandwagon and decided to cannonball into the content marketing pool. However, many businesses look for a quick fix. They have untrained people whip up (or even plagiarize) a bunch of short articles for cheap and wonder why it doesn’t move the needle.

These tools can help you up your SEO and content game. Check ’em out.

Writing for SEO takes training, talent, and focus plus a little science and math. And while you might have excellent writers ready to churn out blog after blog, they may not have the appropriate skills when it comes to writing for SEO.

Content is one of those areas where you’ll get out what you’re willing to put in. If you want to pay $10 per article, chances are you aren’t going to get great writing, much less content that will be truly valuable.

If you’re willing to invest time and capital in a writer who can learn your business and properly convey your value prop with well-researched, informative content, you might be able to get somewhere.

How Long does B2B SEO Take

The writer is just one example. The same goes for video content, design, podcasts, etc. Don’t expect expert output from novice talent.

B2B SEO Optimization Doesn’t Happen Overnight

B2B SEO optimization in and of itself can take a bit of time. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll have a lot of learning to do. Even if you bring in a professional, there will need to be a full sweep of your site and content. Some things may need to be completely re-written, some will just need to be optimized, new items will need to be created. There are a lot of little details that go into SEO that simply take time to get through.

How to Pick the Best Digital Marketing Agency for Your Company

Time to “win” really depends.

The one thing that many different authorities on the topic tend to agree on is that it typically takes between 4-6 months to see results fromB2B SEO. The reality is no site is exactly the same (or they shouldn’t be anyways because that is against the rules) so it’s nearly impossible to predict exactly how long it might take to reach your particular SEO goals. The best hope to hold onto is that once you do start to see results, they tend to continue to grow moving forward as long as you keep making fresh content and continuing to optimize.