Archive for October, 2015

The 4 P’s of Inbound Marketing

The 4 P's Of Inbound Marketing

When we come across the phrase “4 P’s”, the first thing that pops into our mind is Product, Place, Price, and Promotion, the 4 P’s of traditional marketing. But this article directs you to a totally different set of 4 P’s—Persona, Purpose, Promotion, and Period, which are used for Inbound Marketing*. With that, let’s begin with these P’s to start cracking on Inbound marketing for your company.

  1. Persona – Who are the people / the companies will you target?

When it comes to targeting, most companies fail. Companies tend to cast a wide net to bring in most of the fishes, but this will rarely bring in any fish. Therefore, it is better to dig deep and get to the specific details that are required for your ideal customer. Remember, your buyer persona is different from your target market. Will your campaign target the industry (target market) or Jill, the Chief Marketing Officer for that industry (buyer persona)? Start creating messages that are customised for your buyer personas now in order to get the most out of your campaign.

  1. Purpose – Why is your target customer searching for your information?

Catching your prospect in their time of need is a large part of the way inbound marketing works. Providing information even before your competitors post it online will drive prospects to your campaign. Surveying your current customers will be a very effective way to find out what your prospects are searching for, and to attract them, you should create a simple mission statement for what the prospect might want to accomplish.

  1. Promotion – Where will you promote your content?

Your blog posts will be indexed by search engines and shown in relevant search results, so make sure to use titles that are likely to match up with your prospect’s search terms. In addition, you may consider garnering your traffic via paid search and social ads, such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, which offer interesting targeting options. There is so much money you can save this way as compared to using untargeted campaigns.

  1. Period – How long will you run the campaign for?

Creating new and updated content for your organic search is more significant for pulling customers to your website or campaign. As the organic search traffic doesn’t stop bringing in new traffic every day, updating the content is of utmost importance. In terms of paid ads, it is totally up to you to decide the timeframe. Nevertheless, a check-in date is required to review your progress of the campaign before the new content is produced, which will give you an idea of what type of content to create for the customers.

Using these as your head start, proceed to create quality content, promote it, and thus attract prospects.

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

4 Easy Ways To Churn Out Blog Content Consistently

4 Easy Ways To Churn Out Blog Content Consistently

When embarking on the journey of Inbound Marketing*, one of the first steps can be a challenging one—creating sufficient content to drive your blog, Facebook page, tweets, and/or all your other social networking platforms of choice.

Upon being assigned a writing task, most of us sit on it for ages, procrastinating under the pretense of “looking for inspiration”. But when you’re required to upkeep your blog regularly (say, 3x a week), procrastination isn’t the solution. Efficiency is.

To ease the troubles of trying to consistently create content for your blog day after day, week after week, here are 4 tips that will help you easily create content ideas, and transpose them into blog posts that will keep your readers interested, since blogging is an essential part of Inbound Marketing.

1. Allow your writing to be incomprehensible at first

Sometimes, when we are so fixated on coming across as comprehensive and professional through our writing, we tend to lose track of our ideas, leading to what some call writer’s block. When this happens, take a step back from the writing, and focus on the idea you have in mind. Dissect this idea and lay it out in front of you, whether it is in completely incoherent sentences, bullet points, or even mind maps. What is important is that you understand it. When your ideas are all penned down, you will find it much easier to form a comprehensive flow of ideas, i.e. an article/blog post.

2. Pull topics from everywhere

Much of the stuff you read, hear about from people, or see on the internet actually makes for great content, except it’s not always obvious unless you are actively searching for inspiration. One secret to always having something to write about is to always be on the lookout for topics. It is said that everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t. Pay attention to everything you come across and think about whether it makes for good content. By pulling topics from your surroundings, you save yourself the pain of racking your brain when the time comes for a blog post.

3. Bookmark your ideas

When you’re out for a meal or watching TV after work, an idea may pop into your head. It may not be the time of the week to submit a blog post, but that time will come eventually. So whenever you come across something that may potentially make for blog content, bookmark it, on your web browser, mobile browser, key it into your mobile Notes app, or jot it down in a notebook. When its time for a blog post, you’ll already have an idea (or many ideas) ready for writing.

4. Remove yourself from distractions

Let’s face it, when tasked with something difficult, we find a thousand reasons to do it later—a new Facebook notification, a new email, a new tweet to read. Remove yourself from distractions and you will find that you can now write at twice the speed (and if you don’t have enough self discipline, there are downloadable apps such as SelfControl that will block you from accessing distracting websites for any set time).

* Inbound Marketing is a form of digital marketing in Singapore and Asia that involves SEO, social media marketing, blogging and creating landing pages to generate sales leads.

Why You Need These 4 Essential Headline Writing Tips

Why You Need These 4 Essential Headline Writing Tips

When you’re running short of time, you instinctively scan instead of read an article. What do you scan? Significant pictures and keywords that capture your attention. Where are the keywords usually located? In the headline, of course. If the headline interests you, you will naturally feed your curiosity by reading the article further, and then it seems like you have some time to afford after all.

It has been said that the headline constitutes 80% of the first impression of a piece of content, therefore it is a critical element of written communication. Some marketers have a mistaken idea that headlines are restricted to advertising copy. No, headlines pervade everywhere including landing pages, social media posts and blog post. In fact, the following 3 reasons are why we must adopt a “headline first” mentality in everything we write:

1) Readers are always short of time (I believe this is not a baseless presumption).
2) Readers must get interested before they read further.
3) Writers must not lose sight of what readers are looking out for.

Famous copywriters are known to earn millions out of writing words, or as business guru Rich Schefren said, “selling electrons.” But marketing through written communication (like copywriting) is an age-old skill that will always be in demand. For marketers who want to reach out to a wider audience, learning to write compelling, attention-grabbing headlines is a good starting point.

Today, you have 4 tips to writing a powerful headline.

1. Use Trigger Words (e.g. what, why, how, when)

Trigger words promise the reader that he or she should learn something after reading your article. Rather than your headline simply making a statement, trigger words make it sound more persuasive.

2. Use Numbers

It is no secret that the most successful headlines use numbers in order to sound specific, like “7 Tips To Lose Body Fat Fast!”

Numbers are a copywriter’s best friend, and they work like a charm.

3. Use Interesting Adjectives

Here are some examples:

Incredible
Fun
Free
Absolute
Best
Essential
Easy
Funny
Odd

Adjectives are what I call “sentence enhancers”. They add flavours to the written word so readers can feel good or have positive visualization of what is being said to them in their mind.

4. Create A Curiosity Gap

Peter Koechley, the co-founder of Upworthy, one of the most visited editorials on the Internet, says, “Tell people enough to get them interested but not so much they don’t need to click. Our goal is to create an itch you need to scratch.”

While you shouldn’t reveal too much in your headline, you have to include enough information that intrigues the reader to begin with, so find that balance.

Here’s a simple headline-writing formula:

Number + Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword(s)

For instance, if you were to write an article on “eating bananas”, you could phrase it as “Why You Should Eat Bananas”, or take it a step further and make it: “14 Unbelievable Reasons Why You Should Eat Bananas”.

Apply the formula and you get: Why You Need These X Essential Headline Writing Tips.

We practice what we preach.

So overpromise your readers with your powerful headlines, just remember to deliver too.

3 Steps To Inbound Marketing For The Education Business

Anyone working in the education industry in Singapore knows the lifeblood of the education business are the students, and it is a very lucrative and highly regarded business too. Considering a student enrolling in a 4-year course that cost $20,000/year in tuition fees, his “customer value” is a whopping $80,000 and that is not surprising! It is why education institutions in Singapore always have the budget to run their yearly marketing campaigns in mass media, talks and Open House events.

Fortunately, such outbound marketing approaches are here to stay as generations of young prospective students want to be on an institution’s premise itself to get a good feel of the academic environment. However, the cost of outbound marketing remains high due to these factors:

* the printing and publication of brochures and prospectus
* high-level manpower usage
* food catering
* advertising, administrative and logistics costs

Moreover, an Open House experience may end up dampened for visitors because the event is too crowded so they do not managed to canvass all the information they need and may have to come back another day…if it does not rain. Face-to-face interactions are beneficial especially for young visitors to get a good impression but for an institution to recall “it’s that time of the year” for annual marketing is not really strategically optimal and is very expensive.

When institutions can appreciate that young people are most active online, they will realize that they are best placed to complement their current marketing efforts with Inbound Marketing by generating leads through their websites at much cheaper cost.

The no. 1 goal of education institutions is to enrol students, and the schools that succeed today are leveraging on content marketing, blogs, SEO and social media to promote their courses, attract the relevant website visitors or leads and engage them effectively.

3 Steps To Inbound Marketing

There are 3 steps to Inbound Marketing for the education business in Singapore:

1) Get Found
2) Convert
3) Analyze

Step 1: Get Found

seoplan

Getting found online starts with publishing remarkable content. Institutions most likely have done the basics of publishing their course details on web pages or convert their prospectus into downloadable PDF files, but going Inbound entails year-round marketing consistency. Content can also reflect up-to-date industrial development news about a subject, internal events and programs, exam preparation tips or even accommodation matters. In fact, content should be written not just to target students but also their parents, alumni and other types of stakeholders. The tremendous amount of content will keep the website busy and fresh, engage as many interested parties as possible and help boost the number of indexed and ranked pages in the search engines.

Content can take many forms like blog posts, articles, videos, ebooks, guides, whitepapers, social media posts, emails, infographics, checklists, newsletters and surveys. Content publishing should be a campus-wide collective effort. Besides the full-time administrator, writers and bloggers can include academic staff, student bodies and other volunteers based on an open contribution policy. To reach out to prospective students, think about what makes your school special, and make sure the content tells a story about why they should take an interest in your school. Here’s a hint: It is because they can be safe on campus, be well educated and ultimately land a job. If your content consistently focuses on these concerns, you will win over them. What your contributors write reflects on their wealth of knowledge and expertise and shows that the institution as a whole is staying relevant with the times.

Your prospective students are online using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. You need to get involved in these existing communities and build relationships and share content and information.

Step 2: Convert

lead conversion

Lead conversion is a thing that some academic websites I had come across do not perform very well, which betrays a certain lack of digital marketing experience on the part of web designers or IT staff. PDF files like prospectuses are left “in the open” without visitors having to fill in their names and e-mail addresses in a form to access them. Publishing subscription or opt-in pages within the website would be a huge inbound marketing improvement, because such pages allows you to convert anonymous traffic into leads with names, contact info, and interests.

From this point onwards, lead nurturing through email automation helps to inform the leads of all the details they need to make a better enrolment decision. Wouldn’t that be the same information they could get at Open House, except that they are now receiving it through email at any time they subscribe for it? The process is automated, cheaper and helps prospects to digest the information better at their own pace. The emails can state a ready hotline number that prospects can call to make inquiries about academic matters. Finding new pathways of engagement channels fosters relationship building with prospects over time and brings them closer to the enrolment phase.

Step 3: Analyze

Analytics

One of the most integral component of Inbound Marketing is analytics, and it is crucial for measuring the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaigns and understanding where the majority of the traffic is coming from and going to. Statistics to track include daily opt-ins, social media connections, blog subscription, page views, time on site, traffic sources etc. and more importantly, the percentage of leads that ultimately enrols as students after going through the whole lead nurturing process.

Knowing the hard numbers will enable you, the education Inbound marketer, to better decide which non-performing marketing strategies to filter out, the best traffic sources and the most popular downloads and courses viewed online, then you will be able to streamline your marketing efforts for better conversion at lesser cost.

This is just one example of Inbound marketing, and there are many ways and countless reasons to plan an inbound marketing strategy, and hopefully, I’ve helped you understand a little more about how it works. If you have an education site which you like us to review and discover room for Inbound improvement, click the graphic below to start your FREE website evaluation offer!

* Inbound Marketing is a form of digital marketing in Singapore and Asia that involves SEO, social media marketing, blogging and creating landing pages to generate sales leads.

7 Cheats For Better Lead Generation

7 Cheats For Better Lead Generation

One of the problems that I most often hear about from clients, both small or big business owners based in Singapore and Asia, is that they do not get enough sales leads to grow their business.

Yes, generating sales leads is an essential part of growing your business.

Here are some tools that I would like to share for generating sales leads which use more of an Inbound marketing* approach.

  1. Websites

Exchange links with other entrepreneurs or partner websites that have the same niche or focus as yours. When people visit the other websites, they will come across your link and be redirected your website, which will bring you more traffic.

  1. Landing pages

a) Add simple forms

This is an easy way to get your clients’ information. Keep in mind that the form should be very simple and easy for them to fill up. Short, concise forms do better than lengthy forms. It’s certainly common sense that people don’t want to waste time filling in information.

b) Offer something which can help your clients’ business

You could allow your visitors to submit forms for:

1) Free demos

2) Free eBooks

3) Free Assessment

4) Case Studies

5) Free Webinars and so on…

  1. Email Marketing

This is simply one of the most powerful forms of lead generation. For very little cost, a professionally written email marketing campaign can generate a steady supply of high quality, targeted sales leads for your business.

  1. Blogging

Blogging is very feasible, and only takes some commitment for you to be able to turn it into a lead generation tool.

Your lead generation depends on your call-to-action.  If you want to increase your sales leads, here are some things you can implement on your blog:

  1. Subscribe to email course – this is a series of informative emails your visitor opts into, which will allow you to have the chance to sell your business in the emails.
  2. Download a free eBook or report – this captures people’s information for later follow up, which is how you generate leads for service businesses.
  3. Social media sharing – Using social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to promote your blog content can help in reaching out to a wider readership and also in popularizing the content. You can do this by enabling viewers to share your blog’s content on social media networks by inserting sharing buttons on your web page.
  4. Register to see training video – Training videos are becoming popular now because you can get a great, informative video.

These are some of the strategies which can be helpful for doing lead generation with blogs.

  1. Social Media

When it comes to lead generation, social media can be a very effective tool for Singapore and Asian businesses. There are millions of people who are active on social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) on a regular basis. For this reason, using social media can help you to remain connected with your exciting clients or potential clients, and market your services in the best possible way.

  1. SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

It is also equally important to make it easy for people to find your website or pages through search engines.

Here are the best practices for Search Engine Optimization (SEO):

a) Pick a primary keyword for each landing page

b) Place your primary keywords in your headline and sub-headline

c) Include the keywords in the body content

d) Include keywords in the file name of the image (Using Alt-Tag)

e) Include the keywords in the page URL

If you apply these SEO practices to your website, you will definitely get higher rates from organic searches. The higher you rank in organic searches, the more people will find you.

  1. Follow-up emails

Send “Thank You” emails or follow up emails to your clients after they buy your products or services, and send them an email few weeks later with a special offer or announcement. This way, you can keep the relationship going.

* Inbound Marketing is a form of digital marketing in Singapore and Asia that involves SEO, social media marketing, blogging and creating landing pages to generate sales leads.

Discover How Healthcare Professionals Can Apply Inbound Marketing

Discover How Healthcare Professionals Can Apply Inbound Marketing

The healthcare industry in Singapore remains highly regulated not only for medical practices, but also for the promotion of medical businesses. This I have learned, first-hand, from my visit to a doctor last week.

As an Inbound marketer, I am surprised to know that information like “before and after” results and testimonials are prohibited from publishing. Doctors also can’t creatively apply pricing offers like discounts either, or show illustrations or publish wordings in manners that are persuasive (e.g. benefit points).

Despite these obstacles, should healthcare professionals in Singapore adopt and apply Inbound Marketing strategies in their businesses? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’! Non-promotional content published on a website need not be academic or dry. Still, Inbound marketing demands that content is written to cater for the interest of website visitors first and foremost—it must be understandable to the layman. This in itself is already a big benefit when doctors can demonstrate their perfect understanding of clients’ needs and pain points through content marketing in the proper context.

A survey conducted by The Pew Internet Project states that “looking for health information is the third most popular online activity” following email and using a search engine. In other words, health information is actually the most sought-after online content! As more Internet users do research to gain better understanding of ailments, treatments and medical services, I believe most of us have searched for health information before and commend Mayo Clinic’s official website as an excellent example of content marketing.

By using Inbound Marketing*, doctors can connect with their online visitors without sacrificing compliance to medical and ethical guidelines. As I wrote previously, going Inbound is not just closing the sale—it is an end-to-end lead generation and conversion process. Every web element must come together in a website to form a buyer’s journey that leads a prospect to sit on the patient’s chair.

The buyer’s journey consists of 3 stages: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. At the Awareness stage, a medical website can start by introducing more details about the medical conditions a doctor specializes in, like:

* how the conditions arise and why
* properties, characteristics or symptoms of conditions
* the consequences of conditions if left untreated
* the dominant demographic of patients which the conditions target
* prevention measures and self-medication tips if available

Content can come in the form of ebooks, whitepapers, blog posts, infographics or some combination of these medium where appropriate or strategic. Other types of content include transcription of public talks, educational videos and journal papers or articles. If the content comes in downloadable files like ebooks, it is perfectly all right to set up subscription pages so visitors can opt in freely to access them. Thereafter doctors can still email their prospects regularly to stay on top of their minds, reminding them that they are a source of solutions and expertise.

Once the prospects have all the information they need to fully understand the medical conditions, next, they will want to know all the options for professional treatment. Considering that medical treatments are a serious matter, they will want to weigh all possibilities to find out what is most favorable to their needs. Give them all the details they need, including methods/procedures involved, typical costings, drawbacks, duration, expected results and other implications—again, written in a most neutral and non-promotional style.

This style of writing probably gets a little more difficult when it comes to the Decision stage. Here, doctors will inform their prospects why they are the authority whom they should seek help or treatment from. Instead of saying what past results they had achieved or how successful their patients had completed treatment, doctors can bank on their qualifications, years of experience and the content they had earlier sent out. Or they can privately invite questions from subscribers through email and give answers back, and if face-to-face discussions are warranted, may invite subscribers into their office. Yes, such ‘funneling’ can be done without the slightest hint of hard-selling. As online communication channels mature, even the use of Skype and Google Hangouts are very effective at building proper doctor-patient relationships.

Marketing in the healthcare industry of Singapore is no laughing matter. Guidelines or not, doctors still have an obligation to inform their patients and prospects as much and as accurately as possible. Showing off their credentials in this manner beats out any commercial gimmicks any day. Inbound marketing gives meaning to a marketing process, just as doctors need to publish meaningful, engaging and educational content for the benefit of their readers, and make themselves stand out. It may be the only reason healthcare professionals in Singapore need to commit themselves to establishing a long-term online presence.

* Inbound Marketing is a form of digital marketing in Singapore and Asia that involves SEO, social media marketing, blogging and creating landing pages to generate sales leads.

Native Advertising and Inbound Marketing

Native Advertising and Inbound Marketing

Native advertising is a form of advertising that consists of content relevant to your audience.

The most popular forms of native advertising in Singapore are:

  • sponsored blog posts,
  • sponsored story on Facebook,
  • a promoted video on YouTube and
  • promoted tweets.

Usually an advertiser pays to have them appear on the target audience’s organic content stream.

Inbound Marketing* allows you to acquire leads from providing content useful to the customers such as ebooks, and hence you are helping them with their products rather than simply persuading them to buy your product.

Developing content that is informative and useful to your prospective customers allows you to promote your products in a way that you don’t come off as a pushy salesperson, and thus likely to be better received.

Content creation is integral to Inbound Marketing success, and native advertising simply helps to better spread your content.

Educate To Persuade

Ultimately, your goal should be to sell your products, but the process will be so much easier when you offer valuable information on why a prospect should consider your products/services.

Think of native advertising as an advertisement intending to be less intrusive, but rather more “helpful”, and this can go hand-in-hand to facilitate Inbound Marketing.

The key: to promote your content, not your product.

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

4 Surprising Facts About Inbound Marketing

4 Surprising Facts About Inbound Marketing

There are some not so well known facts about Inbound Marketing* from the “2013 State of Inbound Marketing” report and other HubSpot sources which happened to be pleasant surprises.

Here is our pick of the 4 best ones:

#1. Inbound Marketing is rapidly growing in popularity, and it is no longer just a secondary marketing option.

“In 2013, 58% of companies plan to execute Inbound Marketing strategies and 48% of marketers plan to increase their Inbound Marketing spending.”

#2. While Inbound Marketing is rising, Traditional Marketing is falling.

17% of marketers say both Traditional Marketing channels such as advertising and direct emails have become less significant in the past six months.

#3. Inbound Marketing is more efficient than you would think.

“43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog this year, even though a blog requires only about 9% of marketers’ total full-time staff dedication and just 7% of their total budget.”

#4. Inbound Marketing works best when it is integrated with your business strategy, and not as a side project.

81% of companies reported some level of integration between their Inbound Marketing strategies and overall company goals.

Inbound Marketing is not a quick-fix and successful Inbound Marketers have to dedicate a high level of time, commitment, and resources to getting their marketing strategies to work for them.

Effective Inbound Marketing requires strategic thinking in line with your marketing practices. Rather than having stand-alone marketing platforms, you should have them integrated with one another, such as linking your landing pages with your social media and blog.

Inbound Marketing In Singapore Needs A Serious Jolt!

Google Trends

The screenshot you see above is captured from Google Trends. “Inbound Marketing” as a key phrase first appeared in 2007 and has been on an upward trend. Today, it is widely practiced around the world and is gaining popularity in Japan. We expect tremendous growth in South-East Asia for the adoption of Inbound marketing in 2015.

I used to hear that South-East Asia is behind the United States in technological trends by 10 years. We at iSmart seriously hope that Inbound Marketing catch on fast in Singapore, not just because we are in the business, but because outbound marketing is getting less viable by the day as the marketplace evolves. Many local marketers are not highly aware of new development in digital marketing methodologies, yet the potential for going Inbound is huge when Singapore is considered the most connected country in the region, with broadband Internet penetration close to 100%! Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines also boast a sizeable Internet user base.

It’s up to us to evangelize the long-term benefits of Inbound Marketing. With ECommerce getting more prominent of late, we are confident that Inbound Marketing is sure to follow next.

Singapore marketers must be thinking, “What’s so special about Inbound if it’s any different from digital marketing?” When I first got in touch with the Inbound philosophy, I could not tell it apart from my earlier Internet marketing experience either, but the subtle difference is there. In fact, you’d never realize email marketing can take an outbound approach as much as an Inbound one.

For example, every time you blast out an eDM mail and hoping and praying someone will click it, that’s outbound. On the other hand, a website visitor arrives at one of your landing pages and download an interesting ebook offer. Thereafter, a series of scheduled email messages is sent out to him on a 3-day interval to nurture his interest until he becomes sales-ready: that’s Inbound.

Outbound: First, you execute a marketing action, then prospects react within their choice.

Inbound: First, prospects signal their interest by their top-of-the-funnel action, then you follow up on them.

Which marketing approach is easier…much easier? There is no debate: Inbound is the way to go because it builds on prospects’ interest that is already there; they come to you on their own initiative. At any point in time—not even in the closing stage—there is no hard selling. Even traditional business owners would have a few good ‘Inbound’ moments, like when you pick up a call and someone whom you have never prospected asked about your products and services. Would you be happy to receive random leads like this at no extra advertising cost? Sure you would. Inbound Marketing is touted to lower lead generation costs by 60%!

I think one of the strongest component of Inbound that sets it apart from digital marketing in general is its follow-up process. Many corporations in Singapore may have an email database here and a blog there, but they’d never know how various digital marketing elements can gel together to become comprehensive. Inbound Marketing, through the use of HubSpot, the world’s no. 1 Inbound Marketing software, is a holistic approach to converting a cold lead into a warm Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) which ultimately becomes a customer, and throughout the process, the marketing execution is timely (saves time) and cost-effective (saves money).

Inbound Marketing Is Hard

Inbound is not just list building: landing pages are strategically positioned along the buyer’s journey to frame a lead’s problems or challenges and offer corresponding solutions.

Inbound is not just content marketing: articles are written not generically, but with a sharp focus that is relevant to the readers depending on their buyer persona and where they are along the buyer’s journey.

Inbound is not just email marketing: emails are written to be helpful, informative and conversational and sent to the appropriate segmented subscriber list to engage subscribers and build closer relationships. The dialogue and nurturing process breaks down leads’ defenses so they can be more open to speaking to your sales team later.

Inbound is not just search engine optimization (SEO): selected keywords lay the foundation for remarkable content to be written for searchers first, then the search engines. This paves the way towards better understanding of your buyer personas’ queries.

Inbound is not just closing the sale: Too much money, time and effort had been spent to acquire customers only for businesses to neglect them. It is a grave mistake and a huge let-down to customers. According to the White House Office Of Consumer Affairs, “It is 6, 7 times more expensive to attract a new customer than to retain an existing one.” Inbound customer service goes above and beyond to build trust and lasting relationships as a critical priority to creating the Inbound experience. When customers become promoters of your business, you gain 3 very powerful intangible benefits: social proof, marketing leverage and competitive advantage.

It is clear to us that Inbound requires a higher marketing school of thought in order to provide a fuller customer experience in relation to our businesses. Singapore companies have always been ahead of neighboring countries in terms of business practices, so it is high time that we must uphold our leading position by continually updating our marketing strategies to meet business growth goals.

Inbound is the next wave of marketing to maximizing your growth potential. If you are not sure how to get started, do not hesitate to call us or drop us a mail, or you can apply for a FREE website evaluation. We relish a challenge that helps us on both sides to grow in knowledge and expertise in 2015 and beyond.

3 Big Mistakes Rookie Inbound Marketers Make

3 Big Mistakes Rookie Inbound Marketers Make

The common mistakes made by new Inbound Marketers are:

1. Not properly reaching your target audience

Marketers want to convert as many leads as possible, but if their marketing reach is too broad, it could fail to create interest among the right people (buyer personas) looking for content on whatever their interests are.

Get creative. Find ways to stand out from the crowd, such as offering a contrarian perspective and unique content. Furthermore, try to appeal to the decision-makers for the purchases of B2B products or services. They very unlikely spend their time reading blogs and following Twitter feeds, and thus being an audience for your content. If you don’t find ways to reach the decision-makers, you may not be acquiring quality leads.

2. Not focusing on the buyer’s problems.

Inbound Marketers should focus on creating content to help the buyer with their problems and address their concerns. Often, rookie Inbound Marketers focus too much on their own products or services, rather than the concerns of their prospects and their respective stages of the purchasing cycle. Prospects at earlier stages of the purchase cycle are mostly looking for educational information rather than being sold something.

3. Not keeping content understandable.

Just because someone reads your tweets and blog posts doesn’t mean they understand what you are trying to say. More often that not, your readers won’t be experts on your products or services, hence they are finding out more about them online. Keep it simple and try not to use terms that are too technical. Also, you can use marketing automation to facilitate the buyer-seller interaction, giving your prospects an opportunity to engage with you for further inquiries.

I hope you’ve learned from these mistakes and will be able to have a smooth road towards mastering Inbound marketing*!

3 Ways IT Hardware Companies Can Benefit From Inbound Marketing

3 Ways IT Hardware Companies in Singapore Can Benefit From Inbound Marketing

The IT hardware industry in Singapore has come a long way since the halcyon days of IBM. The PC technology of the 80s now looks primitive, but it was a game-changer once it became affordable for the masses. Computing power began to compound according to Moore’s Law as personal computers grew smaller. The Internet then came about as a whole new virtual world that connects every person to one another from all corners of the Earth. Next, cloud and mobile computing develop as a response to the need for seamless data sharing and collaboration. As Internet users spend more hours of their daily lives online, the marketplace also evolves accordingly: with an abundance of information readily accessible on the Internet, users are developing new online habits of researching products and services before making a buying decision.

As digital marketing, specifically Inbound marketing, has also progressed in tandem with new Internet business development, IT hardware companies like yours are best placed in today’s time to harness the full potential of going Inbound. It helps that tech-savvy prospects are already going online to look at hardware vendors’ products. You are much less likely to see a famous computer company like Dell, IBM, Lenovo, Apple or HP advertise their B2B hardware like business servers, NAS servers or VPN routers and switches in a B2C medium like the mainstream newspaper now than in the 90s, because they are recognizing a serious mismatch between product promotion and marketing channel.

There are 3 ways IT hardware companies can benefit from Inbound marketing*:

1) The ability to attract targeted visitors: Inbound marketing is not about trying too hard to change people’s minds about purchasing your products and services. It is simply making your products and services more prominent on the Internet so that people who are already interested can easily search for you. The first action that prospects take when they began to look at products is to do a keyword search. As a marketer, on your part, you must anticipate the keywords and phrases that your prospects are likely to type in the search box so that when your hardware gets found, the product information ties in with what your prospects have in mind.

A few suggestions:

“top 10 business servers singapore”
“dell business servers singapore”
“best vpn routers singapore”
“business server repair singapore”

2) The ability to qualify more sales leads: Content is the main driver of Inbound marketing, and content is designed for the sole purpose of driving leads into a marketing funnel. At the research stage, your leads are not ready to buy, but they are interested to learn how your business hardware solutions can solve their challenges. The job of the marketing funnel is to educate and nurture your leads about the solution they are interested in until they are sales-ready.

Speaking at an operational level, it means you can send them an ebook detailing the benefits of how using your hardware can solve several foreseen scenarios, or articles like:

“5 Smart Ways To Connect Multiple Offices For Remote Communications”
“5 Ways Server Virtualization Can Benefit Your Business”
“5 Ways Cloud Computing Can Benefit Your Business”
“5 Smart Ways To Circumvent Sudden Server Failure”

By demonstrating your knowledge and expertise in the subject matter, your leads can’t help but pay increasingly serious attention to what you can offer next to alleviate their pain points. Once they signal they are sales-ready, you can proceed to invite them for a consultation meeting.

3) The ability to generate more customers with less effort: There are 2 main factors supporting this ability in Inbound marketing. We at iSmart Communications work with the world’s no. 1 Inbound marketing platform called HubSpot. The most powerful thing about HubSpot is that you can view every recorded action of what your leads are doing on your website, like:

* What company a visitor represents when he visits your website
* What emails he had opened
* What links INSIDE the emails he had clicked
* What landing pages he had visited
* What offers he had downloaded
* What content he had shared on which social media website

By comparison, a web hosting cPanel may report daily hits and visits according to the most visited web pages on your site, or an email marketing platform may report only the open and clickthrough rates. But HubSpot knows your leads by their names and attach every recorded action to them, so you know their surfing or reading habits. No other software that we know has this powerful feature.

In fact, by the time you initiate a meeting with a sales-ready lead, you already surpass the fact-finding stage, and thoroughly understand his problems and needs before the lead could get to know you better!

HubSpot’s second powerful feature is its comprehensive analytics which enables you to analyze your marketing ROI. As your prospects journey from being visitors, to becoming leads and converting into customers, you can check all the statistics of your Inbound marketing performance and find room for improvement where specific areas are lacking. Or you can filter out non-performing marketing strategies and concentrate on those activities that drive the best visitors, leads and customers to your IT hardware business.

Are you not satisfied with the number of sales leads you are generating today? Don’t know what keywords you should optimize for your website? Have trouble with writing content that your prospects will love and share to their connections? Not sure which aspect of your IT hardware solutions are your leads most interested in? We at iSmart are certified Inbound Marketing consultants and we can help you answer these questions to ensure that your website can enjoy better leads and sales conversion rates. Contact us today to find out how we can move forward together!

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

Why NOW Is A Good Time For Inbound Marketing

Why NOW Is A Good Time For Inbound Marketing

“50% of the 2013 survey respondents said that they consider their companies to be primarily customer-focused.” – 2013 State of Inbound Marketing*

The reason is clear to us: the convergence of SEO, social media, content publishing and email marketing is creating an attractive “buyer’s journey” experience for a prospect to fulfill 3 things:

1) Research for information
2) Cut through the clutter with understanding
3) Make informed decisions

The customer-centric approach that Inbound marketers adopt is designed to actively engage with customers and maximize customer satisfaction. Inbound marketing recognizes the need of prospects to:

1) Access the most accurate information possible from search engine results
2) Be furnished or educated with more details they may not be aware of
3) Be qualifed for their “buyer’s interest”

Accordingly, Inbound marketers have the job of:

1) Creating remarkable content that attracts readers, answer questions and fulfill their knowledge. Content includes web articles and blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers, guides, checklists, videos, podcasts, infographics, newsletter etc.

2) Encouraging social sharing of content on major social media websites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter.

3) Participating in online engagement to ensure that prospects are kept in touch and a high level of customer service.

4) Nurturing leads who have shown interest in offers and converting them into customers

5) Tracking results in analytics to improve Inbound marketing strategies.

Fortunately, HubSpot makes it easy for Inbound marketers to operate its software in order to handle the above 5 major aspects of their job.

1) The Analytics module enables you to measure incoming traffic and identify the biggest traffic sources so you can review Inbound marketing performances and focus your energy on what works.

2) The “Conversion Assist” module enables you to run A/B testing so you know which landing page design best converts leads into subscribers.

3) The blogging module helps you to not only publish your posts, but also optimize them with keywords so they can rank highly in the search engines.

4) The ‘Social’ module empowers you to cross-post a snippet to Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter in an instant and also keep track of your interactions with specific connections.

HubSpot is not known to be the world’s no. 1 Inbound marketing platform for no reason. Today, Inbound marketing is widely practiced around the world, in conjunction with the use of HubSpot, and is changing the way marketing campaigns are run.

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

How Niche Industries Can Benefit From Inbound Marketing

How Niche Industries Can Benefit From Inbound Marketing

Suppose I have a product called “Machine X”; it is expensive, only used in a very specific field of medicine and requires a lot of expertise to use. To market Machine X, should I put up a billboard advertisement? How else would I find my customers?

This is why Inbound marketing* is suited for niche industries in which companies manufacture highly specialized or industrial products. Outbound or mass media marketing does not work as the target buyers are a very small proportion of consumers.

We have discussed why inbound marketing can be more effective than traditional marketing, and that has never been more evident than in B2B businesses and niche industries.

Everyone is online in this digital age, and contrary to popular belief, that includes people in very niche markets. Hence, you can be confident that prospects will find you through using the search engines very easily if you have an online presence.

Why does niche-market content draw desired traffic (buyer personas) more easily?

Because it speaks to a specific audience, rather than a broad bunch of people, therefore it is easier to meet the wants of this audience, as they will be on the same wavelength as you. They are also likely to have prior knowledge regarding your products and able to understand industry-specific terms so you don’t have to simplify your marketing to cater to a general audience.

Often, markets for mainstream products have become saturated and competition in getting the lion’s share of website visitors gets intense. Conversely, in niche markets there is less competition online as there is less information available.

Website traffic will come from people who are genuinely interested in or curious about your product, as they are taking the initiative to look for you. Relatively speaking, you won’t get a lot of prospects, but they tend to be of good quality in the sense that they are more likely to be converted into warm leads. Expect a small number of interested visitors rather than hundreds of non-prospects, but a high visitor-to-lead conversion rate.

There are 2 main ways to consistently provide niche content:

1) Interactions with prospects and customers

By interacting with your prospects, through social media or inquiry/support channel, you can discover the concerns of your prospects, Your Q&A experience with them will form the basis for new concepts and ideas which you would otherwise not have thought of using your own brain power.

2) Industry news and updates

In certain niche industries there tend not to be a lot of sources of information online.

People are actively seeking the latest information, so if you make your website a reliable source of information with prompt updates, they will be more inclined to follow your social media channels and trust your company.

Reviewing past and present trends in your niche market can also give you a good sense of where your niche is heading in the near future, so you can create content that appeals to new prospects.

The key to success in niche businesses is to ignore what the rest of the world wants and focus on providing quality content to your target market.

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

Lead Scoring In Inbound Marketing

Lead Scoring In Inbound MarketingAccording to MarketingSherpa’s B2B Benchmarking Report, only 21% of B2B marketers have established a lead scoring program.

Inbound Marketing* is lauded for its ability to attract a high volume of leads, but distinguishing between visitors who are just looking around and quality leads likely to become customers is a challenge Inbound marketers are facing.

Lead scoring allows you to manage your leads and attach a value of ‘sales-readiness’ to each lead based on their personal information and behavior patterns on your website.

This allows the Inbound marketer to determine if they are ready to talk to a sales personnel, and thus bridges the gap between the marketing team and the sales team to work towards converting the lead into a customer.

STEP 1: First, determine if you need Lead Scoring.

There are a few criteria that you have to consider before thinking about using lead scoring. It’s not essential for every business, and in some cases you’ll be wasting your own time.

  • Is your sales team being given enough leads to begin with? If not, you should focus on getting more leads rather than be concerned with lead scoring.
  • Is your sales team complaining about bad leads (leads with a low conversion rate)? Lead scoring becomes useful here since there is not enough information to determine how sales-ready the leads are.
  • Do you have sufficient information about your leads? Information such as the leads’ position in their companies or their level of activity on your website helps to profile the leads and in turn determine their sales-readiness. Without this information, both marketers and salespeople are merely guessing how warm the leads are and it just does not work that way.

STEP 2: You’ll need to decide what makes a lead ‘good’.

Discuss this with your sales team and base this decision on known contact information and consumer patterns. The main factor to take into account is how much the lead engages with your website, such as how much content they download, or how many pages they have viewed, etc.

Apart from the website activity levels exhibited by your leads, other things to look at include:

  • Role in company
  • Company size
  • Industry

STEP 3: Set the points for every visitor action.

Once you have figured out your ideal customer, create a scale of points for your leads, such as a scale of 0 to 100. The points themselves are arbitrary, so there must be consensus among all marketing and sales staff how many points should be assigned according to the significance/weightage of an action. A series of actions by a visitor should add up the points to a total score that is high enough to indicate a level of sales-readiness. The sales team will know it is time to make a move towards engaging such visitors.

Lead Scoring maximizes marketing efficiency as your marketing or sales team knows when to start reaching out to the lead, how much and what type content to offer the lead, and whether or not the lead is worth pursuing.

Is your website capturing enough leads? Are your leads eager to read what you have to say next? Allow us to give you a FREE assessment of your website performance so you know how to apply improvement tips after a call. You have nothing to lose!

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

Smart Calls-To-Action (CTA) In Inbound Marketing

Smart Calls-To-Action (CTA) In Inbound Marketing

“But I already have Calls-To-Action!” you say. “What is a ‘smart’ one? Do I need it?”

A Call-To-Action (CTA) is a button or link on your website that visitors click on to execute an action, like going to the next web page or download a free ebook. What is important to marketers is that CTAs can track and record visitors’ actions so marketers can determine where the visitors’ interest lies.

On the other hand, smart CTAs allow you to display a different button based on the purchase cycle stage of the customer. There are 2 main uses of smart CTAs:

1. Creating different messages for different purchase cycle stages

Smart CTAs allow you to design different messages based on whether the individual is a prospect, a lead or a customer, so as to cater to their different demands.

For instance, if you are providing content (such as an ebook) in exchange for the prospective customer’s contact information, if s/he should return to your website, they will not be interested in the same ebook, and so through smart CTAs, you could perhaps display a different link to another content.

Early-stage CTAs may focus on content that draws the prospect to your supporting material, while later-stage CTAs may direct the leads to sales consultations or demos.

2. Tailoring messages to different industries

Using buyer personas, you can adapt your CTAs to cater to a different set of criteria, such as which industry they are working in or their geographic location.

For instance, if you have a special offer for customers in a particular geographic area, you can change your message to be specific to those people. Likewise, if you want certain customers to see particular offers, you can do that too.

Smart CTAs allow for different marketing strategies for different parties, and are essential in Inbound Marketing* as they allow the Inbound marketer to tailor-make the marketing message for the right context at the right time.

How To Delight Existing Customers

Delight Existing Customers

So you’ve made the sale! The long tedious process of closing your sales leads, converting them into customers is over. So what happens now?

A rookie mistake would be to forget about these customers once they’ve written you a cheque. You wouldn’t forget about your partner once you married them, would you? Many companies put a strong emphasis on making sales. However, they often do not place as much importance on providing customer service, and hence unsuccessfully retain said customers and enjoy their continuous patronising.

Objectively speaking, there are a number of reasons why you should maintain a healthy relationship with a customer, such as:

Word-Of-Mouth Promotion [Customers -> Promoters]

Customer evangelism – This occurs when your happy customers unreservedly praise your products/services to their friends and connections. This usually takes place on social media.

Customer referrals – Conversely, this is when customers refer you to friends or contacts, and your product will generally be better received as opposed to it being outbound-marketed (advertised) to these people as they are being introduced by a familiar face.

Continuous purchases [Customers -> Repeat Customers]

Customer retention and loyalty – Often, purchases aren’t a one-time thing. Loyal customers will regularly choose your product over its competitors, which is definitely a good thing.

So, how do you delight existing customers?

– Provide good customer service, and it starts with truly knowing your customers. The HubSpot marketing software has great capabilities that empower marketers to track customers by their online behavior such as the type of content they mostly read, the links they click, what they say on social media, their predominant interests as expressed by the content they published, etc.

– Market customers other products based on their interests. Based on what you know about their buying habits or areas of interest, you can tailor your marketing approaches to market them product you know they’ll like. You can do this using a combination of smart CTAs and workflows.

– Be creative in your marketing. Offer exclusivity (e.g. sneak peeks) or give them better prices to show that you value their ongoing loyalty.

Why SEO Alone Isn’t Good Enough

Why SEO Alone Isn't Good Enough

Too many people believe that if they just do a good job of optimizing their site for prominent search visibility, the battle’s won.

Not true.

Many years ago, many businesses believed that “If you build it (a website), they (customers) will come”.

It was a rude awakening when they discovered a great website can still be invisible on the web. Clearly, they needed search engine optimization so people searching for what they sold, whether a product or a service, could find them easily.

Lots of Traffic is Not Enough

However, I believe that driving lots of visitors to your website isn’t enough either. The website has to be able to identify who the prospective customers are, build relationships with them and ultimately lead to closing the deal and making the sale. That’s an entirely different process from SEO.

If your visitors can’t find what they want to buy on your website, or they don’t trust your company, all the preceding efforts to design a website and optimize it are wasted.

In a nutshell, SEO alone will not sell your products or services. It doesn’t matter if you have 2 million visitors a week.

In my opinion, SEO is important, but so is adapting to the changing behavior of the customers, so is building relationships with them, so is staying on top of where your consumers are hanging out, such as social media, so is staying on top of recent design trends.

Your business needs a holistic approach to not only search marketing, but to online marketing.

Inbound Marketing is the Solution

I believe that Inbound Marketing, which is a form of digital marketing, encompasses SEO, blogs, social media, tracking of behavior of prospects and customers, and analytics, will be able to generate more leads and sales for your business than SEO alone.

4 Steps To Designing A Digital Marketing Plan

Increasingly, more companies are recognizing the benefits a corporate digital marketing plan can bring in, but a few obstacles stand in the way:

1) There is no proper procedure or the know-how to design one
2) Not knowing where to look for resources or advice
3) Having a negative assumption of uncontrollable word-of-mouth over the Net that may jeopardize a smooth plan
4) Over-expectation of concrete results in the short term

thinking

And of course, having a digital marketing plan does not mean businesses must ditch traditional marketing channels altogether. Every marketing channel can be coordinated together in an effective mix. The trend towards going digital is undeniable though; as more consumers do their research online before arriving at a purchasing decision, it becomes more cost-effective to meet them where they are online and drive the marketing in their direction.

Advancement made in analytics is also making ad campaigns that much more easier to test and track, thus providing the necessary performance metrics that marketers can appreciate and know where they can improve for better results.

vision

The first step in planning out a DMP is to define the vision. What does such a plan aim to achieve? Perhaps it is to drive online sales of your products. If your products are not appropriate to be sold online, the final goal may be to encourage a target number of fans and followers to set foot into your shop. It is important to define the goals as clearly as possible because they determine how subsequent marketing actions will be carried out accurately.

goals

The second step is to define the various strategies and objectives that bring followers closer to your goals. The questions below can act as a guide:

– How many articles are you going to write in a month?
– How many clicks to drive to each article?
– How many social shares should each article reach for?
– What is the call-to-action (CTA) at the end of each web page?
– How many CTAs are needed before a visitor reach a goal?
– How is the visitor’s experience navigating around your website?
– What is the conversion rate for each call-to-action?
– What is target size of the follower base on each social network?
– What is the target size of the e-mail subscriber base?
– What offers do you propose to differentiate the privileges of different subscriber/follower bases?
– What is the best buyer demographic for your products or services?
– Which social networks are these potential buyers predominantly found in?
– What are the signals that indicate a prospect is ready to buy?
– How to provide post sales support or customer service?
– What are the segments that separate different types of customers?
– What motivates each set of customers differently?
– How long and what are the stages of a buyer’s lifecycle?
– What are your best keywords for website optimization?
– How many free offers do you need to come up with each month?
– How do the free offers determine the landing page design?
– How do you position yourself differently from your competitors?
– How do you project yourself as a knowledgeable expert in your niche?
– Where are the best forums for online conversations?
– Who can you collaborate with as joint venture partners?

These are but only a sample of questions out of many more that need to be asked, like:

– What would be a good frequency for social postings? Is it too much or too little now?
– What type of social media posting are your followers most likely to share?
– Which social networks tend to contribute better towards your DMP goals and how much more time should be spent in them?
– When is an appropriate time to directly promote a product?
– What new marketing channels can be further explored? Mobile messaging? Instant messaging?
– How to nurture regular customers into long-term evangelists?

I should stop for now. As you can tell, the devil is in the details and answers are never-ending, more so when nothing is set in stone and new digital trends can take over without warning. Your DMP must be dynamic and adaptable, subject to review for minor details over 3 months and for major ones over 6 months.

The most common mistake of a DMP is for digital marketers to confuse between the larger goals and objectives and mix up their priorities. Success is in the sales, not the clicks nor the number of subscribers or followers. Therefore it is imperative to use analytics software like Google Analytics or Piwik to break down the measurements into hard numbers because they tell the hard truth.

staff

The third step is to define a role for each of the staff in the business. This is especially true for small businesses without a marketing team. When there are so many ‘devils’ in a DMP, you can be sure there is plenty of work to do every day.

Digital marketing has to be a collective effort for productivity to increase and it does not necessarily require in-depth expertise. A business can start small, posting one piece of valuable content at a time, then figure out how to ramp up the volume, frequency and quality of the content over time.

It is also helpful for all staff to get involved so they can learn to market online during the process and stay relevant within various digital trends.

If this step is not applicable within your business environment, you can consider outsourcing to a digital marketing agency. It is exactly what we do at iSmart Communications. Take a look at the home page and “Inbound Marketing” section of our website to better understand how we can add more value to the digital aspect of your marketing work.

training

The fourth step is to set aside time for training. Now this does not seem to relate directly to the work, but you would do well to remember a Chinese saying, “Rest is to prepare for the long journey ahead.” Training is not exactly rest, but still it is to prepare for the long marketing journey ahead. It is also a time to take stock of the work done, of results measured, to discuss what is done well and what can be done better.

For training and research resources, you can visit these recommended websites:

1) Entrepreneur.com: Click on the ‘list’ icon beside the logo for the topics
2) SelfGrowth.com: Access “All Topics” section and look for “Internet Marketing” and “Social Networking and Social Media”
3) MarketingProfs.com
4) Linkedin groups pertaining to relevant keywords and topics
5) Quora.com and similar Q&A websites
6) Article directories like Ezine Articles
7) Pinterest: Search for infographics by keywords
Blogengage.com
9) Marketingland.com

These are exciting times we live in and consumers and merchants are converging online like never before. Establishing additional marketing channels via social media and e-mail automation can only help you open up a plethora of new business opportunities. Your marketing efforts are further leveraged as your online business presence remains active 24/7. The 4 major steps of crafting a digital marketing plan would be a great starting point. Act on them today and usher a better tomorrow.

The 4 Steps Of A Digital Marketing Plan

First step: Define the vision or goals.
Second step: Define strategies and objectives that score goals.
Third step: Define digital marketing roles for staff.
Fourth step: Prepare for continuous training.

How To Use Twitter To Generate Traffic

How To Use Twitter To Generate Traffic

There are still thousands of marketers who are not using Twitter to its full potential. Some are not using it at all. As with any other social networking sites you can mention, you have to put in the work at the start to establish yourself as a credible, helpful contributor who is there to do more than just give a sales message and win customers. Using Twitter is an art form all of its own, and is totally unlike anything you will do anywhere else.

The short length of the messages you are allowed to send means that you have to approach the task in a completely different way. The underlying principle does not change, however, and if you are looking to build a long-term business presence, you will need to take a long-term view and work to build up your network of friends. These friends can see your tweets on their Twitter home page, so it is well worth making the effort to cultivate as many as you can.

As ever, it takes a bit of work and a bit of thought to use Twitter effectively. Make sure that your tweets are of value and interesting. If you can keep abreast of breaking news, and the latest trends in your area of expertise, you can build up a reputation as being someone to watch out for. This will keep you on people’s friend lists, and give you the chance to broadcast an occasional message about your own website or profile which will encourage them to visit. Driving social network traffic is never quick or easy, but you can build up a reputation which will result in regular visitors to your site, who have every chance of becoming regular customers. The beauty of social networking is you can begin to appreciate the extent of your online influence as more people proactively interact with you concerning your area of interest or expertise.

For its 140-character limit per post, tweeting is also called micro-blogging. Apart from this limit, it is very much an open platform. The challenge is what content to add to create the biggest possible impact within the limits. Since you can’t say everything like in a typical blog post, it doesn’t mean you chop up a blog post into several Twitter entries. That’s…irrelevant.

I think first of all, you got to have a big picture of what insights you want to drive into the minds of your readers or followers. Writing entries like “I just woke up and brush my teeth” or “I’m getting ready my new PDF report by next Friday” doesn’t mean anything until they figure in a larger picture. For this picture to materialize, the twitterer must have 2 consistencies:

1) The frequency of tweeting.

2) The focus of the messages.

But let’s start with defining the big picture. If the picture is “The lifestyle of a millionaire Internet marketer”, then the entry “I woke up and brush my teeth at 7.30 am” will be a very intriguing post to start with because everyone else would love to copy what a millionaire would do, right? Your frequent entries will give an overall insight into a general pattern or rhythm of all your actions so people can deduce for themselves what they should do.

Likewise, if you are in the midst of preparing a product launch, tweeting is one very effective way to build up anticipation. Your series of entries provides a running commentary for an event and this gets your followers excited on their toes in real time.

Thus, I guess this is what Twitter is all about: to extrapolate and project eventful moments out of what could have been an ordinary life. The act of tweeting is also not capable of falsehood because you have to get to the point within 140 characters plus the fact that you’ve to maintain consistencies. When you adopt a strong tweeting discipline, you can establish a rock-solid presence that demands the attention of the faithful, and will not fade into the Twitosphere.

I recommend these 2 articles for your reading pleasure:

1) Your Guide To Micro-Blogging And Twitter

2) How To Use Twitter—Tips For Bloggers

Search around for other digital marketers’ Twitter pages and see what you can learn from them in terms of their writing styles and message timing and frequency.

Discover 13 Strategies Of The Effective Business Networker!

Discover 13 Strategies Of The Effective Business Networker!In the corporate world, the majority of working professionals have technical expertise and competencies, but much less of them have sharp skills in business communication, an overarching term which sales communication and business networking come under. I heard many years ago that the richest men and women in the world, like Bill Gates for example, do not hide in their offices and apply their technical skills most of the time. So what do they do? They go out into the world and meet people: build up their business networks, give and get referrals, arrange joint ventures, seek expansion through opportunities and ideas etc.

We should not blame ourselves for being late bloomers at business communication. We were not brought up and educated in it. Technical skills come first because it is fundamental to the production of goods and services, yet the rule of thumb in business is the salespeople who bring in the most customers get the most commissions.

Since you have come this far in reading this post, at least you can now begin to appreciate the long-term importance of business communication. Today’s main topic is about business networking and how to go about meeting people productively in a networking event.

Like everything else in life, we may freeze in fear at trying out new stuff and gaining new experiences but with habitual practice, we will settle down in our hearts and minds and apply new skills as in a normal routine.

As a set of guidelines, here are what you can do before, during and after a networking event.

Before:

1) Network with purpose: Define what you want to get out of it. This will help to filter out the unsuitable networking events or environments. Set a goal like how many people are you going to speak to, or how many business cards to collect. Prepare your positioning statement.

2) Research background details about the networking occasion: Who are the hosts? Who are the sponsors? What is the main theme of the event? Who are the guests? Who are the main speakers?

3) Have a few “conversation starter” lines:
a) Compliment other person’s fashion sense
b) Talk about the latest development or trend with reference to the networking event
c) “What brings you here concerning [event theme]?”
d) “Let me guess: you’re here because…”
e) Quote something from the news because it’s current.
f) Straightforward approach: Step up to someone who is not deep in conversation and offer a warm smile and a handshake. I say my name and business and ask them to share what they do. I completely focus on what they say because I have found this to be the best ice breaker. Listening and asking clarifying questions helps that person to know that you are really intrigued, not just getting past the formalities to promote your own services. They will typically warm up to you much more quickly.

During:

1) The conversation is always about the other person.

2) If you want to show yourself as helpful, try to steer the conversation in a direction where the person begins to reveal a challenge, so you can offer a useful tip and tell him you will follow-up further after the event.

3) Even if the conversation is not going in a way you’d prefer, try to be interested and always look forward to the possibility of discovering new things or ideas from what the other person says.

4) Find common ground or interest.

5) Know when to exit thoughtfully. Say, “I really enjoyed talking to you about today’s meeting. I have your card and I’ll be in touch with you this week so we can discuss it further.”

After:

1) Send a quick follow-up e-mail: Something like, “It was so nice to meet you at the Chamber of Commerce event last night! Best of luck with your son’s baseball championship this weekend!”

If you’d like to have a follow-up, you can say that as well, just add, “We started to talk about the synergies we have in our prospecting and I’d love to continue that conversation. How does your schedule look next Thursday to grab coffee or lunch?” If some people make a strong case for follow-up, call them instead.

But the first line will buy you some time so you can think through a more thorough follow-up statement.

2) Try to search for the person’s name in LinkedIn and connect. Later impress them with well wishes on their birthdays and work anniversaries.

3) Send a re-connect e-mail: After 3 weeks or longer, reach out to catch up, maybe set up another meeting, or send something that might be valuable, like an invite to another event, a great article or an introduction. Include some information about how you met and what you’ve discussed in the notes.

Bonus tips:

1) Buy yourself a new dress or a new business shirt and pair of pants. Polish your shoes. Your new set of clothes projects a certain freshness or crispness to your demeanour, and you will immediately stand out in the crowd.

2) Be mindful of your posture and step up your energy level.

The key to successful networking is to remember that you’re working on building real, deep relationships with your professional contacts.

Your network won’t do you any good if it’s full of people who you don’t know very well; cultivating both the depth and width of your network is extremely important.

“Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting,” says Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and Chairman of Business Network International. “It’s not just about who you know—it’s about how well you know them.”

Are you ready to go out, network and meet new friends? Enjoy the finger food too!