Archive for August, 2015

Discover The 6 Communication Tips For Building A Smarketing Culture

One of the key tenets of close collaboration between the Marketing and Sales teams is effective communication. Typically, Sales complains that Marketing isn’t generating enough quality leads, and Marketing criticizes Sales for not working their leads hard enough. But if both teams can mutually “seek to understand first before being understood”, a lot of such bickering can be minimized. What substitute in its place are constructive feedback on how things can be done better and purpose-driven discussions on finding new ways and methods to increase leads, sales and revenue.

Given its large size, no company is perfect. Smaller companies are more nimble whereby a few key personnel can get together on schedule or impromptu to discuss marketing and sales status updates. But in large companies, it will take better organization sense to align marketing and sales teams towards common goals.

Typically, to have better organization, ground rules have to be set so that more personnel can be properly involved. These 6 communication tips for building a Smarketing culture should get your teams started working towards synergy.

meetings

1. Have regular meetings

Meetings! Not a few people in the corporate world hate these “time-wasting sessions”. They drain you out, leave you with insufficient time to do actual work and worst of all, the agenda seems to be going nowhere! The problem with meetings has as much to do with the quality as the quantity. So if you feel that the number of meetings in a work week does not seem to galvanize business development, perhaps it’s time to consider what truly important issues should take the bulk of meeting times.

HubSpot, the company that introduces the world Inbound Marketing, has its own unique way of running effective meetings. First of all, the staff modeled themselves internally as a marketing and sales organization, therefore revenue generation matters take precedence in meetings. This narrows the scope of discussion.

At first, meetings were carried out weekly for 30-60 minutes. As the company expanded, the content got too much and monthly meetings were arranged to review targets, results, improvement measures and future plans. A smaller number of staff working as teams still meet weekly. Significantly, HubSpot staff expectedly know what to report or share, with marketers informing salespeople what they have been doing and vice versa. Meetings become more productive, do not drag on, and the lines of communication open up.

salesmarketing

2. Multi-layer relationships between Marketing and Sales

Another rule-of-thumb of the corporate world is the acknowledgement of vice-presidents and above as decision-makers. The problem is less senior staff tend to defer issues upwards and wait for further instructions. This results in operation-level delays and bottlenecks.

On the other hand, it is recommended that:

* Marketing VPs speak to Sales VPs
* Marketing managers speak to Sales managers
* Marketing rep speak Sales reps

By empowering staff at all levels to solve their own cross-departmental problems at the source, they can build stronger relationships with one another and function more like a single team.

handshake

3. Have Marketing and Sales staff sit together

Traditionally, various departments of a corporation are distinctively and separately situated for reasons of internal culture or protocol. HubSpot took the unusual decision to mix up marketing and sales staff’s desks so that both sides have the benefit of seeing first-hand if the marketing activities are actually helping sales or not. Sales also can better understand the type of leads they are getting. Two-way communication is also instant in day-to-day work. Gaining spot-on awareness and understanding of marketing and sales work and the results reaped has helped the staff to become productive and happier.

Today, technological startups and million-dollar dotcom companies like Alibaba are seen to operate in a lean, “open concept” fashion with staff doing away with partitions. Could this signify the doing away of organization hierarchy, operation-wise, in the 21st century?

feedback

4. Provide many types of feedback

Feedback does not only happen in weekly and monthly meetings. Feedback can be solicited and exchanged between Marketing and Sales in the following areas on a regular basis:

* The quality of the leads
* The effectiveness of tools, resources and methods
* Relationship with colleagues
* Leads feedback from follow-up
* Demo feedback from prospects
* Performance of each marketer and sales rep

Having a strong feedback culture empowers staff to have a say in overall improvement and decision-making. Final decisions and actions taken may not be agreeable to everyone, but regular feedback builds trust and paves the way for successful marketing and sales communication.

terminology

5. Agree on terminology

For communication to flourish, it is crucial for both Marketing and Sales to speak the same lingo. Terms like “lead” or “conversion rate” must be clearly defined so both teams know what kind of persona is the target and what results to aim for. Thereafter, responsibilities and goals are mutually understood and accounted for in regular meetings.

proof

6. Demonstrate proof of data

To HubSpot staff, statistical data is the “sword of truth”. It is pointless to critique performance without showing supporting data. There is always a reason why conversion rate is poor or why there is a high number of unsubscriptions. Such data is the main driver for performance review and it provides an opportunity to filter out non-performing marketing and sales strategies. No staff can say anything based on a hunch. Data eliminates heresay, removes emotions and focuses the teams on the real challenges.

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, social media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.

6 Hallmarks Of A Powerful Smarketing Relationship

Marketing and Sales teams may seem like strange bedfellows: having distinctively different roles but can’t do without each other, but the truth is both teams are mutually dependent and marketers and salespeople can integrate their work and culture seamlessly together.

Any perceived barriers between Marketing and Sales that arise is a result of inaction on the part of department heads to lead the initiative of understanding each other’s work. It takes time and effort, but the benefits are tangible. HubSpot had stated that “organizations with good alignment between sales and marketing teams achieve 20% more revenue growth on average annually.”

With the larger picture of revenue increase in mind, we present 6 strategies you can apply to foster a Smarketing relationship that works.

bullhorn

1. Communicate!

Yup, it all starts with talking to each other first. Communication is the building block to trust and teamwork and ensuring that both teams know what common goals to work towards. When messages become clear internally, they will be similarly conveyed externally to prospects and customers, thereby making them happy and benefiting all sides.

For a start, Marketing and Sales can arrange flexible networking sessions to get acquainted with each other. At a later time, they can conduct weekly or monthly meetings to talk strategies and review targets. Effective communication helps both teams understand how they can improve and reach their goals in tandem and as separate departments.

One innovative initiative is to get both sides of personnel to form small teams to compete against one another and reward the best performers.

teamwork

2. Set common goals.

Goal-setting has to be one of the key agendas of meetings between Marketing and Sales. When goals are clearly defined, with real and attainable numbers, within a set period of time, both teams will know what the goals are and come together to determine the best course of action to work towards them.

Having goals also promotes transparency and makes the post-analysis part easier. If targets are missed, either side can report and tally actual results against targets, learn from mistakes and find ways to improve the end-to-end lead generation, nurturing and conversion process, therefore it is a very good way to keep Marketing and Sales aligned together.

The goals can be included in an SLA (see point 6).

buyer personas

3. Collaborate to design an agreeable buyer persona.

One of the most prevalent cause of friction between Marketing and Sales is the poor quality of leads. While Marketing may accuse Sales of not doing enough to convert the leads well, Sales in turn would accuse Marketing for not generating the best type of leads.

To mitigate this problem, both sides must take some time to come together to define and review their buyer personas according to the personas’ pain points, aspirations and compelling key messages that will attract them to your business.

Consider questions like:

* Where do quality leads come from?
* What are they looking for?
* What topics interest them?

More questions can be found in this blog post: Discover 5 Powerful Methods For Designing Your Buyer Persona

fresh content

4. Determine the content that actually drives and converts leads into sales.

Within Inbound Marketing* context, content is the marketers’ most valuable asset, and is the key to attracting and nurturing new visitors. Of course, the quality and relevancy of content creation must be constantly reviewed and tweaked to cater to the desired buyer persona.

How would marketers know certain content needs to be tweaked accordingly? By talking to salespeople! They are the ones who will provide direct feedback right from the source: the leads. They are the ones speaking with the leads on a daily basis, so they will know if the leads have already formed a mental picture of how the company can offer the right solutions to help them. If there is a prolonged mismatch of expectations over a number of face-to-face consultations, it becomes obvious that the leads are not properly qualified, thus marketers need the necessary feedback to fine-tune the content or lead nurturing process.

data sharing

5. Seamless data sharing via software

Ideally, the best way to generate and analyze marketing and sales data is to integrate the software that each team uses so there is a seamless handoff of leads and shared data. The more visibility each team has into the other’s activities, the more that you will not only strengthen the Smarketing relationship, but also help keep overall efforts aligned.

Sales can see how leads are generated through which effective channels and therefore contribute more ideas for lead generation and improvement which Marketing may not thought of.

On the other hand, Marketing can see the conversion results of the leads handed to Sales so marketers can seek improvement in lead generation or the buying process.

sla

6. Develop a Service-Level Agreement (SLA)

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between your marketing and sales team which clearly states what each team is responsible for and the numbers they need to hit to meet the overall goals. Both teams contribute individual goals, and together, you’re able to track how your Smarketing team is performing. It alleviates tension, breaks barriers and promotes the collaboration necessary for this relationship to function harmoniously.

Essentially, these are the types of things to be stated in an SLA for each team:

Marketing Team

  • Total sales goal in terms of revenue quota
  • % revenue that comes from marketing- vs. sales-generated leads
  • Average sales deal size
  • Average lead to customer close %

Sales Teams

  • The speed of follow-up for marketing-generated leads
  • The depth of follow-up for marketing-generated leads

As time goes, the SLA needs to be continually monitored, adjusted and reported back on. An SLA helps both teams to see the value that each department brings to the table. They can see how each team is contributing and will be more willing to work together to achieve those goals.

With these 6 hallmarks in mind, think of how powerful your business could become if you embraced and integrated a unified marketing and sales team! A successful company collaborates and works together as an entire team.

Sure, you may have separate roles and departments, but ultimately you have one goal: to produce real business results. When the expertise of both Marketing and Sales teams align, the potential is endless.

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, social media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.

What A Weekly Email Newsletter Can Do For You

newsletterkey

Running your own free email newsletter or e-zine can bring massive benefits to your website and profits. Did you know that e-newsletters are one of the most important components for you to drive traffic to your website and build your online business?

The popularity of e-newsletters is based on the thirst for information by information-hungry Internet surfers. The main reason people are online is because they want and need information and that is exactly what e-newsletters provide.

There are 3 major advantages of starting your own e-newsletter, no matter what product or service that you are offering. They are:

– Being able to maintain regular contact
– Being able to build a relationship with your subscribers
– Being able to offer new products and services

An e-newsletter allows you to keep the connection with your site visitors reminding them of how your product is suited for them.

The other, often overlooked, advantage of having a e-newsletter, is the income it can generate, not from selling your products and services, but from selling advertising space in it.

You do need a medium to large subscriber base before other businesses will be interested in advertising, but this is not that hard to achieve, especially if it is regularly full of quality content. You can earn a few hundred, even thousands of dollars, every month just from ads if you play your cards rights.

Your online customers will eventually become your offline customers if they trust the information you regularly send them. Put simply, a newsletter is your way of helping people. If you help people online, eventually they will buy from you.

However, running your own e-newsletter involves a considerable amount of work. It is vital that you regularly write a lot of quality content before your next release. Ideally a e-newsletter should be sent out every week or at least every fortnight. This is not always easy. It definitely takes consistency and a keen eye for content.

You see, just as it is on your website…content is KING in your newsletters.

You need to offer valuable information, products, services, and more to keep your subscribers clicking on every newsletter that you send out.

Where can you get quality content for your newsletter?

1. Article directories like ezinearticles.com or findarticles.com. Also get articles from yahoogroups. The downside to this is that you need to include the author’s signature or resource box.

2. Forums. One of the most dynamic and updated places on the Internet is where people write off the cuff and in real-time. Thread after thread, reply after reply of the latest information comes off the minds of forum participants. Combine interesting topics and reword them into an original article.

3. Your own Inbox right under your nose. Whatever other marketers are writing or selling about, use them to your own advantage and recreate them as your own.

4. Your own insights are really your best resources. When you have passion, you will never stop talking about what you know. Be consistent at no. 4 and soon enough you will find a way to mold yourself into an expert. Continue to expand your knowledge database and add value to it.

In conclusion, running your own e-newsletter can have a very positive impact on your website and online business. If you dedicate yourself to keeping it up, you will find it well worth the effort.

4 Ways To More Effective Viral Marketing

4 Ways To More Effective Viral Marketing

For any businesses that realize a need to provide constant support to prospects, customers or partners, these few ideas should provide the online means for the clients to pass on the businesses’ ideas in an enthusiastic and viral manner.

1. Set up a forum, online discussion board, Facebook fan page/group or LinkedIn group simply because it is such a great participative tool. As discussions blossom, the quality of information will attract more registrants.

Place social bookmarking buttons in each discussion thread to encourage forum users to spread the word. Also place a banner ad at the top of the board.

2. Write an e-book or whitepaper report to give it away. Invite partners to place descriptive ads in the free e-book so they themselves can give it away to their web visitors or list subscribers. The viral effect will be immense!

3. If the staff or writers can’t find the time or the creativity to write from scratch, they can easily find info-products on the Internet that sell a license allowing them to distribute the product free of charge to other people. Look for those products that provide “branding” or “white label” rights. These rights allow you to include your own name, website, and contact information in the editable portion of the product (whether it’s an e-book or software). Of crucial note, it is important to rewrite the base content to augment your business’ unique positioning and selling point so that the e-book looks a little more ‘original’.

4. Write articles that pertain to your product or service. Invite other webmasters to republish your content in their e-books, newsletters, e-books, e-zines, article directories and magazines. Your profile signature at the end of the articles is what gets readers to go to your website to learn more about your business.

Hopefully these 4 ideas can act as catalysts for more creative viral marketing strategies, and I have not begun to go in-depth on video marketing or podcasting! Let’s get started.

Discover 5 Powerful Methods For Designing Your Buyer Persona

One of the biggest mistakes that causes businesses to fail is the merchants ultimately failing to meet the demands and expectations of customers. In other words, the merchants do not know who their customers are. Even if they have great products or services, if they fail to align what they offer with what their customers want, they are simply barking up the wrong tree.

No customers, no business, no sales. It is as simple as that. Therefore it is important to define the type of prospects to target. Instead of spending important advertising dollars on drawing in the wrong set of prospects, construct a customer profile based on the majority of your customers and concentrated around their needs and wants. By creating a buyer persona and nailing down your customers’ needs, lifestyles and even apprehensions, you will have the capacity to think of a ready answer to address your customers’ challenges. By placing ourselves in the shoes of our prospects, we can better pre-empt their purchasing decision.

There are 5 ways you can research your buyer persona:

1) Online Retrieval Of Demographics Data

The process is pretty instantaneous and all you need to do is input product keywords or URLs of other people’s websites that are similar to your business (or your competitors’) into AdWords Display Planner. These are the steps:

a) Go to adwords.google.com
b) Click “Tools”, “Display Planner”
c) Select “Show only estimates for my targeting criteria”.
d) Enter a URL or product keyword
e) Click “Get estimates”.

You get a results display that looks like below:

planner

But as you can see, the data is very limited to age, gender and device usage.

Alexa is another website that can provide demographics intelligence but unless you upgrade, you are just as much limited to gender, education and browsing location data.

focus group

2) Interview Your Prospects And Customers (Pre-Sales)

This is surely one of the most effective way to get a sense of the majority demographic of your customers, but you need to ask the right questions. Here is a sample list:

How old are they?
What is their gender?
Where do they live?
What is their job?
What is their education level?
How do they prefer to stay contactable?
What is their ethnic background?
How much do they earn?
What is their marital status?
How do they spend their free time?
Which newspaper, books or magazines do they read?
What is their favorite TV channel?
What are their hopes and dreams?
What do they wear?
What are their political and religious views?
What are their biggest fears? What keeps them awake at 3am?
What makes them happy?
What frustrates them?
What do they find most relaxing?
What do they talk about with their friends?
Which appeals to them more: function or aesthetic?
What are their hobbies or interests?
What are their attitudes towards certain issues?

You can organize focus groups, walk-in sessions, on-site visits, or make phone calls to conduct interviews. You can also publish the questions in a web page through which visitors can submit their answers collated in an email sent to you.

survey

3) Surveys (Post-Sales)

Conduct surveys to get feedback from customers about their purchases. It could be an immediate, short post-sales survey about the checkout experience, or a survey that occurs one month after purchase to gauge user experience. The answers your customers give you can reveal much about how and what they think, and could be surprisingly quite apart from pre-sales answers in terms of scope or alignment. Sometimes customers may use the occasion to inquire about other products/services. All these information can make you consider if the major customer demographic is thinking along the same line, and whether you need to tweak your marketing strategies based on the survey answers.

Popular online survey tools include Foresee, Qualaroo, SurveyMonkey and WebEngage.

past purchase

4) Look At Past Purchases

Supposed you have a range of products or services. Over a period of time, it becomes apparent to you that some offers sell better than others. Your sales results can tell you what the marketplace needs most, therefore you can reconsider your marketing strategies to target the most in-demand customer segment of the marketplace.

smengagement

5) Social Media Engagement

Social media puts you on the frontline of direct communication with prospects and customers. By monitoring and observing what they say about your industry and products/services, you gain first-hand insights into their expectations. It is also a great time to resolve any issues or complaints that they may have. Doing so in a prompt manner not only reflects that there is real customer support that cares, but also your pursuit towards customer satisfaction.

Also investigate online forums and Q&A sites like Quora. These sites are great resources for problem solving. By researching for solutions, you can better understand how to help your own prospects and position your products/services in a way that shows you really know your customers’ problems.

Customer research is a long-drawn process and it is never-ending because the marketplace keeps changing. However, the benefits of targeting the right customers are enormous. For one thing, repeat sales from old-time customers are easy to get. A high level of customer loyalty exists because your ability to know customers inside out will make them feel they are well attended to. They will even evangelize and refer new customers to you, thereby exponentially growing your business.

Good business does not start with a great product or service, or great know-how or a high efficiency in daily operations. It is simply knowing your customers like they are your friends, and it is a great untold secret to sales riches.

How To Build A List Of Eager Subscribers

Email Marketing Service

Every online business provides great service to generate satisfaction among their customers. As each and every customer receives satisfaction over their products or the services they get, there is a great chance that they will become a return customer and buy again. Better yet, they will recommend you to other people that could generate more business for you and your site.

As more traffic is driven to your site, you can entice many of them to subscribe to your mailing list or opt-in list. This is a list wherein website visitors agree to be sent promotional materials such as newsletters, catalogs and such that could keep them updated about your site or the niche of your site. These promotional materials are sent via e-mail to the members of the list in different time intervals.

When using e-mail as the media of your marketing and advertisements, you eliminate the need for high costs. E-mail is free and if you can manage to make your own promotional advertisements you can also save a bundle there. With an opt-in subscribers list, you are pretty sure that what you are sending out is received, viewed and read by the subscribers and not simply being deleted. They have signed up for service and have consented in receiving it.

This means that there are constant reminders to your subscribers about all your products, new products and services as well as any promotions and special deals you are having. There is also the chance that they can be forwarded to other potential customers as they tell their friends and families about you and your site.

Of course you should be also aware that a subscriber may unsubscribe when they feel that they are not getting what they want or expected. Make sure that they are satisfied with your opt-in marketing strategies and keep them excited in receiving your newsletters and catalogs. Here are some tips that can help you build a list of eager subscribers.

Make your promotional materials interesting and fun. Try to use a little creativity but not too over artsy. Build around what your product or service is about. For example, if you are selling car parts, put some pictures of what is new in the auto parts world, a new wing door possibly that can fit any car and make it look like a Lamborghini.

Try to research what people are looking for. This way, you stay one step ahead of them all the time and you will be their bearer of new tidings. They will be eager to receive what you are sending them because they new you always have fresh and new things to share with them.

Write good articles that can be very informational but light at the same time. If your subscribers enjoy your articles, they will go to your site by clicking the links that you will be putting on your newsletter to read some more. You can provide articles that can connect to many people. Be diverse in your articles. Put something humorous, then put something informational, then put something that has both.

Are you wary about this because you don’t like writing? No problem, there are many professional and experienced article writers that can do the job for you for minimal fees. They know what they are doing and can provide the need that you have for your newsletters, the money that you pay for your articles are going to be met by the many sign-ups and the potential profit from the sales that you will get.

Create and send an e-book to your customers about anything that is related to your business or site. Use your knowledge and expertise in the field you have chosen to help other people who are similarly interested. Offer this e-book for free. You can write about anything informational and helpful to your subscribers. For example; you can do manuals and guides in so many things. This e-book could be used as a reference for many people.

Share this e-book with everyone, even other sites; just make sure that they donít change the links in the e-book that will lead people to your site. If you want, you can always get some people to write it for you just like your articles. Your investment once again will be covered by the great marketing this will generate.

Add e-coupons in your newsletters that will help them avail to special discounts. Put a control number in your e-coupon so that they can only be used once. When people get discounts that can be found in your newsletters, they will be eager to receive your newsletter in anticipation of what you are promoting next.

If your subscribers can get benefits from your newsletters, they will be very eager to receive them. Just don’t flood your mailing list with mails so that you don’t annoy your subscribers.

Does your website have an easy and obvious way for allowing visitors to opt in for something they can receive for free in return? If not, let us know so we can take a look and give you a few good complementary tips. It’s on us!

How To Rank High In Google With Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

How To Rank High In Google With Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI)

The days of keyword stuffing, single phrase optimization and concentrating only on incoming links to gain traffic are slowly being phased out as a more holistic approach to judging website content comes online. This new concept has many webmasters hopping, and it should. Latent semantic indexing is quickly becoming an influential factor in the way search algorithm works.

Latent semantic indexing, is a Google-driven creation that’s meant to better gauge the content of a web page in relation to the entire site to discover the overall theme. It is a more sophisticated measure of what sites and their pages are all about. While it doesn’t mean webmasters need to completely retool all of their keyword optimization efforts, it does mean depth needs to be a greater consideration.

A simple quick example: the word ‘apache’ can refer to a native American tribe, a military helicopter, a web server application or even a company name. How you want your website to get ranked for the word ‘apache’ in the right context of the search results depends on how detailed and deeply written your website content is written, the frequency at which new content is published and the age of your website.

This new focus puts an emphasis on quality and freshness of content to help sites gain higher ranking position. In essence, latent semantic indexing is meant to give a searcher the best possible site to meet their needs based on relevant keywords and comprehensive coverage and not just incoming links.

This system basically presents a more fair way to give search engine users the pages they really want. It does what Google has always tried to do: provide higher quality, more relevant results.

The old days of Google putting 80% of its emphasis on incoming links and 20% on the actual site itself are coming to an end. Incoming links will always have relevance, especially in regard to breaking search “ties” but they may not carry the same weight as before. This can make it a bit easier for those who work on their sites with an emphasis on quality to see real results.

What all of this means to web publishers is that those who have done and continue to do their jobs correctly will have a better chance of shining with latent semantic indexing. Those who keyword stuff, create nonsensical content and spend a lot of time using link farms likely will not.

The key to getting ahead in the new age of Google search falls on quality. Sites that provide useful and relevant information in regard to their content will be likely to do better on searches. Those that cut corners could find themselves at the bottom of the search totem pole.

Things You Must Do Before You Submit To Article Directories

SEO Article Writing

Business writers and content strategists know that article marketing is one of the oldest and most effective techniques in getting targeted prospects to their websites and converting them into buyers. As article writing, submissions and publications get increasingly popular, more tools are made available for making the article distribution process easier.

But first, let us look at the common mistakes that some writers make before submitting their contents to article directories:

1. Confusing the reason to promote the articles with the reason to write them.

In article writing, there are three key benefits why you are promoting them: branding, lead generation and promotion, which are all part of your optimization efforts. But there is only one reason why you write an article, and that is to inform your audience. If the article is not focused on this primary and most important purpose, it has failed to achieve the three promotion benefits because no one will be interested in reading them or passing them on to others.

You need to figure out first how to get people to read what is in your article, then make them click on your resource box. You can achieve this by producing better content.

2. Failing to maximize the promotional opportunities of article marketing.

You may know already that your articles can help you generate additional links back to your website. But do you know that you can get more visitors and better search engine results from those same articles?

Mention keywords at strategic places. Just be sure not to overdo them. Some are even using anchor text which is also an effective method. But it is important to know that a majority of the directories are not able to support this and overdoing keyword density can cost you.

Remember that is not only about the links back to your website. Part of doing well in your article marketing is getting picked up by publishers with a large number of audiences and gaining the ability of leveraging other brands because of the quality of your work. Better search engine results also are great benefits.

Start out with a plan and see to it that your article will serve the function that you intended it to have.

3. Publishing content that does not help your readers.

Maybe in the process of writing articles, you are thinking that all that you wanted is links back to your website. And any visitors it can generate are fine.

Guess what? Not all article banks and directories are going to accept your content automatically. Oftentimes, they have some guidelines and specifications on the articles that they are accepting.

You can double the number of sites you can submit to by writing articles that the directories want to share with other people. All it takes is one publisher with a hundred thousand readers to increase your potential audience overnight.

Write the articles that publishers want in their publications if you want your article marketing to work the most effective way for you. This also means you have to obey the standard guidelines, spell checks, researching on a good topic and even hiring a writer to produce a good content on your behalf.

In the end, it is all really a matter of choice on your part. You can start getting a little exposure from increased links back but on a very basic level, or enjoy massive exposure from a little extra time making quality content.

It will be your choice. You may not be aware of the fact that an article published on directories is not meant to have the same level of exposure as highly-targeted content focused on a well-defined group of people.

Learn the difference between these two and it will surely help you know what kinds of articles to write and to submit.

Top 10 Questions About Using Podcasts For Business

podcasting

Using podcasts can be very profitable for your business. If you do them the right way, you can earn a lot of money from them. Here are 10 frequently asked questions about this technology.

1. What are podcasts?

They are downloadable digital files. They can be in either video or audio format. They are unique in that they are generally produced episode by episode. Therefore, they are often referred to as “online radio shows”.

2. How often do you need to produce a new one?

You can do so as often as you want. Some businesses do so every day, some only once a month.

3. Are they expensive to produce?

No, they cost very little.

4. Are they hard to make?

No. the only equipment you need is either a USB microphone or a regular telephone.

5. How long do they need to be?

They can be whatever length you want. It all depends on the topic and what you are using them for.

6. How do people know when you’ve done a new episode?

Everyone who is subscribing to your RSS feed will be automatically notified. They can then come to the site that it’s located at, and download it.

7. Where can they listen to the podcast?

They can do so on their computer, or take them with them. This is because they are compatible with iPods and other mobile devices.

8. What are podcasts about?

You can use podcasts for any topic you want. Obviously you will want them to be related to your niche.

9. How are they best used?

They are excellent pre-selling tools. For instance, you might get your prospects to sign up by offering a 7-part series on “how to make $100,000 in the next 6 months”.

Just make sure you have an interesting title that encourages more sign-ups. And after the series is done, you can leave them up and let anyone download them.

Another popular method is to convert your written blog content to audio or video, and then use that as a podcast. This is just another option to cater to your auditory prospects.

Finally, podcasts can be used as part of the paid product itself. For instance, if you have a membership site, you will need new content every month. A podcast would be perfect in this scenario.

10. How can you make the podcast more interesting?

Rather than just talking yourself on every episode, you might want to bring on guest experts related to your niche. This just keeps the content fresh.

The bottom line is, podcasts can be an excellent method for getting customers. Just make sure you keep them interesting by having an intriguing title, and possibly by bringing on guests from time to time. This is how to make money from podcasts starting today.

For more tutorials on podcast creation, visit web2-0world.wikispaces.com/Podcasting

5 Important Characteristics Of An Authoritative Social Network

social network

How do you know what the best social networking site is for your business? A lot of business owners just migrate towards Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook because they are the most popular.

However, these might not be the best for you. Just because a particular social network has the most users doesn’t make it the best.

So what should you look for?

Here are 5 important things any social network should have for your business:

1. Niche-specific

Some social networking sites specialize in certain markets. While they have significantly less users than the generic sites, 100% of the people there are going to be interested in your business.

What kinds of niches can you find?

Basically anything you want. There are social sites for movies, travel, sports, etc. Just about every niche has at least one forum geared towards it, and many blogs.

How do you find these sites?

One of the best ways is to just do an online search like “best social sites for…” and then fill in whatever topic you are looking for. You are likely to get a good list. Also, type in “forum+” or “blog+” and add your market at the end. Both searches will bring up sites that are related to your target market.

2. Secure

There are security issues with a lot of the smaller social sites, so be certain you check on this before getting started. You might want to look them up and read reviews about them before giving out any important information on them. Some of them require some personal information, so knowing the security reputation of a site before using it is smart.

3. Intuitive interface

Some social sites have clear features, some do not. If you need an MIT degree to figure out all the features of a site, than steer clear of it.

4. Multimedia-enabled (videos and photos)

Try to find social sites that offer the ability to upload photos and videos. This simply helps you incorporate a personality into your marketing efforts. Uploading video and photos shows you are using the site for more than just the one-way link, and you are serious about entrenching yourself in the community.

5. Has a vibrant community

Look for social sites that have a lot of conversation going on. When members are actively participating, they allow you to get in a conversation with your target market. This will enable you to answer questions and establish yourself as an expert.

The bottom line is, no matter what social site you use, the most important part is that you get involved. Don’t just use the site for a one-way link. This is how to brand yourself as an expert and get the most benefit out of your social media marketing campaigns.

6 Tips For Optimizing Your Marketing Videos

Video Marketing

Obviously the use of video for marketing is becoming more popular. One of the reasons is that videos are now ranking in the search engines. This means you can get video directory traffic, as well as search engine traffic.

And videos are often times more interesting than writing. Since most people are visual, this increases interest.

However, as you can imagine, some videos are more effective than others. Here are 6 most important tips to get good results.

1. Use keywords in the title

Just like a web page, doing this for your video is very important. Since this is often the only content your page will have, it’s very important to include keywords in the title.

2. Have a written description of the video

This will show the search engines what the video content is about. This again is very important due to their lack of content.

3. Use the word “video” in the title

People often add this phrase to the end of their search phrase. So putting it in your title will bring some more traffic.

4. Allow comments

This will keep the page relevant in the search engines, because Google likes updating pages. And it could also increase your sales.

Why?

This is because often times the people who take the time to comment are also the ones who are most likely to buy. Therefore, you can respond to the comments and answer questions.

5. Include useful content

When you have an interesting and unique video, tons of sites will pick it up. Therefore, you will get a lot of viral traffic without having to do a thing.

And those who watch it will tell their friends about it, which will increase your page views. Think about how often YouTube videos get passed around at work. The viral effect of videos cannot be overlooked.

However, you need to have good information.

A lot of marketers hold back on their free info because they don’t want to reveal their secrets. However, people aren’t going to buy your product unless you establish yourself as an expert. And the only way to do that is to give away quality information.

6. Tell a story

The best marketers know that telling a story is one of the best ways to increase sales. Obviously you want to have good information. However, you must be able to communicate it in an interesting way to increase your sales.

Therefore, incorporating your personal story in the video is one of the surest ways you can get more sales. For instance, if you are selling an acne product, talk about how the method you teach cleared your skin. People are always more likely to listen to someone who has personal experience with a topic.

So the bottom line is, you need to have a video that appeals to the search engines by making use of keywords. However, it must also be compelling to human visitors. Remembering both these points is the key to success.

10 Extremely Effective Audio Marketing Tips

Audio Marketing

Audio marketing can be extremely effective when done right. Listening to a recording of something is often much more compelling than reading it. Many people are auditory, and find it easier to focus.

However, there’s a right and wrong way to do it. You obviously don’t want to have one of those sites that blast music when someone visits it. This will probably do more harm than good.

Here are ten tips to use audio to help your business:

1. Use audio to increase opt-ins

Often times, adding it to your opt-in page can dramatically increase conversion rates.

2. Use audio testimonials

Hearing somebody tell how good your product is much more powerful than reading it.

3. Keep it short

In general, try to keep your audio two to three minutes or less. This is typically when people lose interest. However, you can obviously go longer if the audio is a recording of the product itself. It’s only on your sales page that the audio should be brief.

4. Have an audio version of your product

Many people are auditory. Therefore, they would much rather listen to a recording of your product than read it. So offering this will probably increase your profits.

5. Interview an expert

Find someone well known in your niche and interview them. This can be part of your reason to get people to sign up for your newsletter.

6. Do webinars

This is a one-way conference call. You can either have people attend it live or not. As long as you record it, you can then use that product as a bonus for your main product, or simple a pre-sale as a way to get people to opt-in to your newsletter.

7. Teleconferences

This is better than webinars for allowing interaction with those who attend the live event, because it allows them to ask questions. Webinars don’t allow interaction from the audience. Getting people involved will likely generate more sales.

8. Use cheap software

You don’t need to buy the most expensive software. A lot of people mistakenly believe they need the priciest application to get an effective recording, but this isn’t the case.

9. Have good sound quality

It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you don’t want it to be fuzzy either. This is true no matter what the audio is for, whether it’s a short recording on your sales letter, or the recording for your product itself.

10. Outsource it

Many people simply do not want to record for one reason or another. If that’s the case, there are a number of companies that will do it for you.

The bottom line is, audio in marketing can be extremely effective for boosting your business. Implement one or all of these tips, and you will see good results from it.

5 eMail Newsletter Mistakes Most Singapore Marketers Make

eMail Newsletter

“It’ll have everything our customers need, all in one place.”

“Our list will be different—people will look forward to getting our newsletter.”

“Since we’re only sending it once a month, it’ll be a breeze to put together.”

Any of these statements sound familiar? While all of these things may become true for some, most often, email newsletters flop. They become an uninteresting junk of content that people automatically ignore, archive, delete, or straight up unsubscribe from.

That being said, here are the most common mistakes nearly every Singapore marketer makes when creating an email newsletter, and how you can avoid them.

Mistake #1: Having a Poorly Segmented List

As with any email marketing, the content in your email newsletter should be relevant to your audience. And that doesn’t happen without list segmentation. The problem is, often email newsletters are sent as the catch-all content—it’s so generic, it can apply to everybody on your email list!

Or no one at all, because generic content doesn’t get you far. Your email newsletter should only go out to those recipients who are interested in the subject matter of the newsletter. If my newsletter focuses on the latest social media developments, is it wise to send that newsletter to subscribers who wanted to hear about marketing automation software? I think not.

Mistake #2: Information Overload

Email newsletters often suffer from a few types of information overload: either the breadth of information covered is too wide, the quantity of information is too overwhelming for any reader to actually consume, and/or the information is just plain not interesting.

General rule: Write a brief description of the content in your email newsletter, then include a link to read more on your website so your reader isn’t overwhelmed with text in the email.

Not only is this easier to consume, but it also drives visitors to your website, provides opportunities for reconversion, and gets you more indexable pages filled with great content to improve your SEO!

Mistake #3: Competing Calls-to-Action

In most email marketing, with every new call-to-action you include, the effectiveness of each is diluted more and more. So in an email newsletter with so many different pieces of content contained therein—surveys, deadlines, offers, product launches, etc., it’s easy to break one of the cardinal rules of email marketing: including only one call-to-action!

So how do you get past this? The first step is acceptance—there will be more than one call-to-action in your email newsletter. But that doesn’t mean they have to compete with one another. Take a step back, and ask yourself what you want your recipients to do when they read your newsletter. What’s the point?

Mistake #4: Inconsistent Design and Layout

Because email newsletters are a compilation of stories, many businesses change the appearance of the emails from time to time to accommodate the ever-changing content. It makes sense—images could be of different sizes, there might be an uneven balance of content, or you can’t decide which content should be prioritized. But instead of making difficult choices, marketers often just adapt their newsletter design to accommodate a particular issue’s specific topics.

Don’t do it! Not only does it take lots of time to edit your email template, it also confuses your regular readers. Use a standard format for every single newsletter so it is recognizable to your subscribers. That means the same layout, the same image alignment, and the same placement of links and calls-to-action so your reader can scan and find the information they want.

Mistake #5: Vague Subject Lines

This is an easy fix, but such a common email newsletter faux pas. Often, the subject of an email newsletter is something along the lines of Weekly [Company X] Newsletter or Monthly [Product Y] Update.

What does this mean? What will the reader learn?

The interesting part of the email isn’t the frequency at which the recipient receives it—it’s the juicy information you’re divulging! Email newsletters have the opportunity to be chock full of interesting content, and as such are a very useful Inbound marketing* tool. So it’s a shame when marketers put significant time and effort into compiling and sharing their best announcements, offers, and content in an email newsletter, only to have it fall on deaf ears because the subject line lacks a hook.

Use these tips to ensure your next email newsletter is a smashing success and it leads to an ever-increasing, dedicated list of subscribers that look forward to reading your email content.

* Inbound Marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, Social Media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.

How To Use Twitter To Generate Sales Leads

How To Use Twitter To Generate Sales Leads

Inbound Marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, Social Media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads. It is much simpler to implement than you thought. It has many different subsets of marketing processes, of which, one of them has been very relevant and is widely used in today’s commercial world—social media. Social media is constantly evolving, connects people from all around the world, and most importantly, used largely in today’s development (74% of all Internet users).

Within the Inbound Marketing strategy, one of the commonly used platform is Twitter. Twitter is easy to create and use. Sounds like something that could be of advantage, but how do you stand out and generate sales leads?

  1. Finding people to follow

You can start off by looking at who your target audience is, and who they are specifically. Put in effort to research and identify keywords, hashtags and phrases which your potential clients will use. With this list, proceed to use the inbuilt Twitter Search, type them in and follow anyone who matches with your target customer profile.

Tip: You can also follow your competitors and look at who they are following, or who their followers are. (Hard work done for you!)

  1. Look out for buying signals

As the number of people you follow grows, you can put them in Twitter’s Lists. From there, monitor and keep track of them and identify those that are most open to your products or services. Some buying signals include:

– Dissatisfaction with your competitor

– Exhibiting a need which your products or services can fulfill.

You can also search for terms to look out for this group of people, primarily those who are seeking immediate assistance. These terms include:

– “any recommendation”

– “any advice”

– “does anyone know”

If you can’t help them, you can retweet his or her tweet to your followers, and someone in your network might be able to help. Not to worry, you still assisted in the problem solving hence will still get the credit or attention.

If the prospect is following you, you can communicate with him/her privately with Twitter’s Direct Message tool. This is a chance to also exchange contacts and communicate through that (i.e. email, whatsapp, etc.)

  1. Build on your following

Have a clear and focused bio illustrating your areas of expertise and explain what your company does. Make use hashtags, but make sure they are related, not just trending. Your Twitter account should be active, the more you tweet, the more followers you have and this increases your credibility. Some content that you can share include ‘live’ tweets about events or comment on current subjects that are relevant to your company, product or brand.

That being said, you need not come up with loads of content all by yourself. You can curate and retweet others’ tweets and comments as well, so long as you are not stealing them.

  1. Posting

The 60/20/20 Ratio is a simple yet important formula which you can follow while posting on Twitter—60% educate, 20% inspire, and 20% sell. This is because while you educate and inspire, it will motivate them to purchase in future.

Get on top of or alongside current trends which are relevant to your industry, do not ever lag behind. You can start conversations or quickly join into any when you see them. Whenever you have a great blog idea, post the link to Twitter ASAP. You don’t get to be first every time, people catch up. Also, don’t forget to include relevant visuals to illustrate and liven up your tweet. Make yourself known and prominent in the industry.

  1. Give away the ‘Why?’ and sell the ‘How?’

Take the chance and time to give away the ‘why’ of what you know, then save the ‘how’ for your paying customers. Surely you do not want to provide them with nothing, as that leaves you with practically nothing to sell. This ‘how’ gap attracts them to want to achieve more.

For example, your company is providing Inbound Marketing services. Your client asks, “How to generate more leads”, you’ll tell them a small piece of what can be done, and leave the big piece unsaid, in hope for them to engage with you. Remember, with generosity, it builds your brand and is a form of a lead generator.

The 3 Bad Blogging Habits That Singapore Marketers Must Avoid

3 Bad Blogging Habits To Avoid

It has been said that blogging should be an important feature of your overall Inbound Marketing* strategy. We blog to share our views and at the same time generate more interest and traffic to the blog. No doubt there is plenty of online information telling you what to do, but I’m sure many Singapore companies and marketers still face difficulty in generating sufficient interest and sales leads. This is because of some bad blogging habits that they unknowingly picked up but never identified to break. Here are these 3 habits which you should avoid at once.

(Too Much) Brand Lovin’

Firstly, Singapore and Asian marketers have to understand the fundamentals of sharing information on their blogs. We all understand that people have a sense of identity and belonging when they work in a company they love. However, what your prospects ultimately want are answers to their problems, not more information about your brand.

What draws their attention will be the solutions you can provide, or answers to their doubts. If you can do that by first identifying and thinking through some of the actual problems or challenges that people face, that will lead to needing a product or service of yours, and then writing blog posts which focus on these specific problems and how to solve them (if readers choose to solve by themselves. The alternative is to get someone to do it for them, which is YOU), they will be more aware of your blog, and in the end, be aware of your brand. If you start off with flooding them about your company’s information, goals, history, etc., you are more likely to put them off!

Your answers to problems in readers’ mind is the ultimate value proposition leading to better chances at sales conversion. Being able to blog in a pre-emptive manner is a skill of an effective marketer.

Too Many Jargons

Your readers may not be well-versed about your industry. Whatever jargons you use on your blog will largely affect the readability of your post. For a successful post, your readers should not be searching for meanings of the words that you have used. They should be kept simple, easy to read and hence relatable for the reader.

This habit occurs more likely as you climb up the executive chain as you gain more knowledge and expertise. To counter this problem, you can work together with your team to put a post together. The different levels of people in your team will be able to identify any grammar mistakes or jargons.

Riding The Bandwagon

Everything sounds great about riding the bandwagon. You are fine if you are aligned with what other successful companies in the industry are doing. However, there’s a time where you need to realise that you need to DRIVE this bandwagon, not simply ride on it.

This habit of riding the bandwagon does not ensure success for sure. How are you different from other companies? It positions your company as being behind the trend/news, and trying to catch-up every time. It also shows that your article is nothing special, has no added advantages, and is just a post that can be found anywhere else. Instead, try including an interesting twist or spin on your topics and posts for a competitive edge.

These might be habits that you thought didn’t matter to your traffic. Try breaking them and adapting to a new writing style to observe any slight improvement in generating interests and traffic to your blog.

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, Social Media and landing pages to generate sales leads.

Can Singapore Marketers Avoid Being Behind Times In Inbound Marketing?

How To Avoid Being Behind Times In Inbound Marketing

Whenever we speak of marketing, the 4P’s come to mind as part of the strategy. However, will just understanding these 4P’s be enough? Do Singapore companies and marketers have the skillset to create plans and campaigns that match how their clients, prospects or leads buy products or services currently? How does Inbound Marketing* come into play?

Below are 3 points we should take note of to adapt our skills and knowledge and to work productively in the increasingly digital world.

Real-Time Marketing

It used to make a big difference if you can control your expenses to schedule events, meetings and campaigns. However in recent years, it has been increasingly popular for consumers to be sharing and discussing about your company, brand, products or services sold. They can discuss about them anytime, anywhere, whether it is with you in it or not. You also need to take note that with every customer service interaction on the social media platforms, it comes with an audience of potential buyers too.

Hence we, as marketers, have to be comfortable and open with real-time marketing as this is what everyone is doing. You need to learn to embrace forums, reviews and social media conversations that are happening. There could be a trained team of personnel which is responsive and has the ability to manage them, and especially so in the case of negative feedback.

Organizational Chart

Everything is changing, and your marketing organizational chart should not be an exception. Review your organizational chart, and make sure it is not built for the past—it should be built for the future. The structure of the different teams and hiring approach should have changed over the years (and if it has not, you should put some efforts into enhancing it). Systems such as marketing automation, online marketing and mobile optimization are new and does have an impact on the organization. There are definitely changes to be made.

Map out your customer touch points and look out for gaps in your service delivery, teams’ skillsets and structures, then change the hiring approach accordingly.

Focus

There are 6 difference audiences that can impact your business:

  1. Analysts
  2. Bloggers
  3. Competitors
  4. Customers
  5. Employees
  6. Job Candidates

Your marketing strategy should include a business-oriented and focused objective for identifying, educating, informing and inspiring each of these groups of people. Strategic planning such as employing the use of marketing automation for lead nurturing can make it easier and more efficient. Nurturing core audiences is a gradual process that takes time, but with a well-planned strategy and the right technology used, lead nurturing with content made specifically for each core is definitely the way to go for marketing success.

Stop the excuses and putting it all on hold. Based on the goal you want to achieve, start changing and develop a more performance-driven, effective and productive team. Those who are reluctant to change and adapt to this increasingly digital world will be left behind eventually. Do you want to be a part of that?

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, Social Media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.