Using Socedo in Your Inbound Sales Process

As our Digital Marketing class goes through important inbound marketing practices, Dr. Mark Staton (@DigiMark_wwu) has done a great job of connecting us with professionals in the marketing industry. These awesome guests specifically use and give us some great insight on some of the inbound marketing practices we have learned. Socedo founder, Aseem Badshah was able to join the list of guests and share some of his inbound sales knowledge with our class.

First off, it is important to point out that the sales process has changed dramatically. This dramatic change is influenced most by the change in buying habits and the amount of information buyers have available to them. Instead of pushing products on to your buyers and exclusively having information they no longer have, the new inbound sales process is about creating a trusting relationship and ensuring they end up with the product that fits their specific needs. Generating marketing qualified (MQL) and sales qualified leads (SQL) are a key step in this process.

As we learned in our class discussion, Socedo is a great tool for businesses looking to obtain these MQLs and SQLs. Once these leads have been generated the inbound sales process will begin.

For a B2B or a start up, Socedo is a great way for businesses to create that desired relationship with their customer and/or build their audience. The automated engagement feature Socedo offers allows these businesses to build that large pool of social leads they might not have been able to find by simply scanning through their Twitter and LinkedIn networks.

This brings us to a great question, which came up in our class discussion…
Why Twitter and LinkedIn?

These networks are where important B2B interactions are taking place. As Aseem explained, there is more of a business presence on these sights and they maintain a relatively open network. The open network makes it easier for businesses to engage with potential customers. However, Aseem expressed that other social networking sites are on the horizon for Socedo.

In previous blogs (KaylaLRatliff@wordpress.com) I have mentioned the fact that on my spare time I follow many beauty industry influencers for the latest products and techniques. So, I thought it would be great to highlight how Socedo may be of benefit for businesses in this industry.

For one of my favorite developing beauty product brands, Anastasia Beverly Hills (ABH), using Socedo may be a great way for this brand to connect with beauty industry influencers who might be able to help them build their customer base and potential retail locations where they may want to have their products sold. After going through the automatic engagement process and finding prospects that fit the MQL criteria, Anastasia Beverly Hills could complete the finale direct message step by offering to send them products and/or links to content they have developed such as blogs and video tutorials.

Overall, Socedo is a great way for businesses to connect with potential customers and create leads they may not have been able to find. Once these marketing qualified leads have been found it is important for the sales team to build a relationship and continue the inbound sales process.

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Effective Email Marketing Strategies for Success


Yes! Email marketing, the more successful step sister to telemarketing. Both are thought of as dead or unpopular marketing tactics, however email marketing is definitely not dead (check your emails) and can be substantially more successful if done right!

            After doing some research and reading up on currant email marketing tactics an important statistic keeps coming up. According to the Capterra Sales & Marketing Blog, for every $1 spent on email marketing a business may receive an average return of $44.25. That’s over a 4300% return! 

            Speaking of this large return, email marketing is a low cost way for businesses to connect with a large number of their customers or leads in the most cost effective way…. a big reason why email marketing is not dead! Not only is email marketing cheap, but it is a great way for businesses to integrate existing marketing campaigns and make more of a personal connection with leads and existing customers to influence future conversions. 

            So, what email marketing strategies are the most effective?  Hubspot and Constant Contact, which both offer an inbound marketing platform and insights provide some great pointers and strategies for businesses to use when designing successful email marketing campaigns. I have narrowed them down to the ones I believe to be the most important. 

  1. Segment your contacts.
                One of the most important strategies for creating a great email marketing campaign includes the segmentation of your contacts. Segments can range from geographic locations to behavioral events such as conversion events or page views.  It is important to insure all of your contacts are separated in groups so that you may send specific segments content that pertains to them. By doing this you may increase the number of views because the material you are providing may actually be of interest to them.
                If I purchase products online from a department store such as Macy’s and the majority of those products happen to be beauty items, does it make sense for me to continuously receive emails about men’s underwear? Probably not.

  2. Provide valuable content at the right times.
                Providing valuable content in general is important because customers are not going to be willing to open your emails or even continue to subscribe to your email list unless they feel it is worth their while. This means you are providing them with specific information they may want to learn or some great offers they will redeem in the future.
                Ensuring this valuable content is provided at the right time is the next step. Hubspot discusses the buyer’s journey and how important it is for businesses to send emails to customers that provided them with content that is specific to their stage in the buyer’s journey. In the awareness stage we are providing them with informational content, in the consideration stage we are helping them solve a problem, and in the decision stage we are providing them with content after they have made their choice.
  3. Personalize your emails.
                Personalizing your emails with your name, your customers name, recent conversions, or any specific information that may only pertain to them may increase your open rate by 3-5% according to Hubspot. The personalization shows the customer or reader that you are attempting to create a relationship with them and that you are more invested in the relationship. 
                Personalization may also mean providing them with content that is valuable and at the right time in their specific buyer’s journey as discussed above.

  4. Make sharing easy.
                Making it easy for your readers to share your emails or encouraging them to forward emails to others is a great way to obtain new leads or potential customers. If you provide shareable links as well as great content that is actually worth sharing and forwarding there is a potential for you to gain leads through word of mouth or personal proof, which may be more powerful than some other marketing tactics.
  5. Get rid of purchased lists.
                It is important to get permission from customers to send them content through email before you send them any.
    Unsolicited emails are the quickest way for businesses to get their emails sent to the junk box because purchased or rented lists are automatically filtered into these spam or junk mailboxes. 
    Besides getting your emails sent to the junk boxes this is a very unpersonalized way to connect with potential customers, which was discussed as being important previously.

 So, in order to benefit from the personalized experience email marketing offers it is important to implement these 5 strategies as well as some others to really create an effective email marketing plan.

Get that Info: Pointers for a Great Landing Page

As we dive deeper into the inbound marketing world and attempted to build lasting relationships with our customers, it only seems natural that we would need to obtain as much information about them as possible. With the proper information we are able to learn who our customers are and how to solve their problems in the future, (hopefully with our products and services) and develop that lasting relationship.

This is where landing pages come into play.

Hubspot explains landing pages as a website page specifically designed to convert visitors into leads. It is not the website homepage, but rather another page or even alternative website for a business to collect specific information about their customers, which will hopefully result in a future conversion goal being achieved.

  After reading up on proper landing page techniques and practices from Copyblogger, Mashable, and Hubspot I compiled my own little list of pointers I felt were the most important or simply stuck out to me. 

  • Give visitors a reason to provide you with information.
    Visitors are more likely to give up information if they feel they are receiving a benefit from providing it. Think about it… are you going to give a website your first name, last name, date of birth, or first born unless you get some sort of product discount or incentive?

  • Don’t mislead customers.
    If you are offering a specific discount for visitors after they complete a landing page it is important to make sure your offers match up. If a customer feels they have been mislead or lied to, you may lose them as a potential customer FOREVER…. forget the information you just obtained from them. It will not have even been worth it.

  • Implement A/B testing and try different set ups.
    Like a regular website optimization strategy it is important for businesses to test multiple versions of their landing page as well as continue to edit or update their current page. Changing components such as font size, color, call to action buttons, and more may be the difference between getting few leads and getting many.

  • Make it clear and simple to use.
    I think this one is self explanatory. The least complicated the better. Visitors may be less likely to finish and reach the “thank you page” if the landing page is too complicated or hard to understand. Further more, if the process takes too long visitors may become increasingly irritated and quit the process prematurely.

  • Other important pointers.
    • Make sure the page loads quickly.
    • Visual elements such as color pallets should be cohesive on landing pages and ads.
    • Create clear, concise, compelling headlines.
    • Use bullet points to make information easy to digest.

Building a Social Media Presence

As I discussed in my previous blog The Benefits of Inbound Marketing with Social Media, I believe social media is one of the most important inbound marketing outlets. Now that we understand this idea, creating a great social media presence is the next step. Hootsuite is a great social media dashboard businesses can use in order to build their presence on many of these networks… and all at one time! As I go through the Hootsuite certification process and use the dashboard with my own social media and content pages I am becoming even more excited to gain tools for PROFESSIONAL social media use (some tend to misunderstand the difference between personal and professional social media use). 

Aside from the Hootsuite Certification Courseware, Hootsuite University offers some supplemental courses you can take in order to better your social media marketing strategy. I chose two of these supplemental classes Hootsuite offers that stuck out to me as important. “Creating a Social Media Strategy” and “Growing Your Social Media Community” were the winners!

There were a lot of great pointers and insights in both of these videos including optimization, analytics, and creating content that resonates. But, the pointers and insights that stuck out to me the most included the fact that businesses must connect with industry influencers and activists in order to reach their industry and grow that social community.

Since we want to create a significant relationship with our customers and ultimately influence brand love, what better way to do that than by building a close relationship with the customers who are willing to be positive spokes people for your brand? Not only are they going to speak positively about your brand, they are sharing this positive opinion with others through their personal social media page. The hope is that you will gain their audience as well.

Here’s an example…. I enjoy make-up (like a lot), I like to think of myself as the make-up guru among my friends. In order to stay up to date with current trends and learn new techniques I follow a lot of make-up artists and industry influencers like @colordujour and @makeupbydenise on Instagram. These artists provide great tutorials and product reviews that impact or influence my  purchasing decisions often. I might try a product or begin following a brand I have never heard of because I enjoyed how these artists used them. And I am just 1 follower! These women have well over 100,000 followers on each of their pages and some industry leaders may reach a couple million! 

Though there are many more components for businesses to create a great social media presence, I believe connecting with these industry influencers is one of the most important components in building that presence as well as a strong community. All of this is especially important for the start up or small business owner! 

The Benefits of Inbound Marketing with Social Media

            Of all the inbound marketing strategies used in the digital marketing world, I believe social publishing is the most important component of the pull marketing methods.

Why?

With social media, businesses are able to:

  1. Connect with and reach a wide variety of their buyer personas at all times of the day.             Each social media network offers a unique way for business to connect and create a relationship with their customers. This allows them to reach a wider customer base. A middle aged house wife may be more likely to use Facebook and seek out posts from her favorite apparel company than she would be to view posts or content from that same company on LinkedIn or Twitter.
                 As Hubspot explains in their inbound marketing certification, each platform is used by different audiences and has a  unique purpose. In order to get the most out of a social media marketing plan, that business must taylor their content to each specific platform.
              On the other side of that, because there are so many different networks that serve just as many purposes it is important for businesses to only use the platforms that are going to be beneficial to them. A local taxi service company may not need an Instagram or Pinterest page…. I mean, unless they want to show the beauty of their yellow cars?
  2. Promote relevant content they have created, which can be shared by their followers/customers.            Because the inbound marketing process must be integrated in order to gain their desired traffic and final goal, social media networks may be the best platforms for this integration process. These are great spaces for business to ensure their customers are aware of content created and posted to blogs or websites. This idea of cross-promotion is key in making sure your content is easy to find.
              

As Moz.com explains, it is important to make sure your business’ blogs are linked to your social platforms and that all your names for each platform are cohesive. Then, it is important to make sure that each experience is unique. Give people a reason to follow you on Facebook and Twitter!
            I really like this point Moz makes because when I think of the social media platforms I use personally, there are very few businesses I follow on multiple platforms.  I follow Motives Cosmetics on Instagram because I love the tutorials and product reviews, but I have not found a reason to follow them on Facebook because it does not seem as beneficial for me. This could tie back into the use of specific social media outlets for unique purposes I mentioned above. 


  • Solve problems immediately.              Solving problems or crisis management, as Moz puts it is another great feature social media offers businesses. Even though it is possible for a business to create PR problems for themselves through social media and it is also a place for customer issues to be magnified, these networks are a great place for businesses to ensure issues are solved quickly. 
                Since social media pages can be monitored in real time, businesses have the opportunity to respond to unsatisfied customers as soon as possible and turn them right back into satisfied customers. If done correctly, this quick response to a problem might turn a negative into a big positive for a business. When a customer is satisfied with how they have been treated they might be more likely to like, share, and repurchase in the future… and maybe even more so than they did in the past (before the crisis).
  • Create conversations with their customers, which will lead to a stronger relationship.            Finally, the most important feature of social media in the inbound marketing experience includes the ability for a business to create conversations and build a stronger relationship with their followers or customers.
                Both Moz and Hubspot explain, just presenting content and promoting is not a best practice. Engaging in conversation and listening to what your followers or customers have to say is important. Customers may have great insight or feedback about specific products or services offered. If you do not listen or engage in this conversation, your customers may not be provided with the products or services they desire and will find it in other places. On top of satisfaction, “brand love” is formed through the positive relationship/connection a customer has with a business.   

            As you can see the benefits to social media in the inbound marketing space are great and the practices used for these platforms are just as important. Moz and Hubspot give some great pointers for businesses and marketers to unleash the power of their social media networks.

Content Marketing: Not Your Average Marketing Campaign


As I learn more about inbound and content marketing strategies and techniques one thing is for sure! Though the specific content provided by individual brands and businesses are different the techniques used for successful web content are basically the same.

Content marketing is not just about posting on your social media page, publishing a blog or white paper, and sending an email to current and potential customers. Poof success…. Not! It’s about knowing who your audience is and pulling them in by providing them with relevant content they actually want to seek out and then eventually creating a trusting relationship, which will in time increase conversions.

The Content Marketing Institute makes a great point in their article titled, “What is Content Marketing?” They state, Good content marketing makes a person stop…read… think… behave… differently.” With a great blog post, podcast, or webisode the audience is pulled in by the content of interest, provided with information related to the brands products and services, and then given a solution or outlet for them to act on the new information they have obtained. 

I really enjoyed how Brian Clark of Copyblogger Media described content marketing as “the new branding” in his white paper titled, “The Business Case for Agile Content Marketing”. Content marketing really is a new way for businesses to present their brands to the customer. Much like traditional branding techniques, with content a brand is able to create a buyer persona their customer can relate to and present material that represents their brand in a way that is cohesive with the products or services they are offering (kind of like the product packaging in the traditional branding sense).

But wait…. you can’t just post and dash!

It is important to recognize that all of this content will not just produce results automatically. Content marketers and businesses must establish an integrated plan for promoting their content in addition to their products, whether that be through social media outlets (for your followers to view and share), website and search engine optimization, email marketing campaigns, and even some paid promotions (in some cases). Steven MacDonald discusses the importance of promoting your content in his article, “The 5 Pillars of Successful Content Marketing”. As he says, “content marketing is part content, part marketing.” You can’t just post or publish content and expect people to see it and begin making purchases! 

Another key thing to remember when developing and providing content is the fact that it takes time to obtain noticeable results. Content marketing is not a quick fix ad campaign put in place that will increase sales at a specific point in time. It is an outlet for the business to establish a longtime relationship with customers. The content must be developed and adjusted overtime in order to establish a following or audience base so that desired conversation can be created, which goes back to the importance of promoting the content.

Conclusion

Overall, if done correctly content marketing can be a great way for businesses to achieve their final goal and will do so by creating a relationship with their audience and customers. With this new form of branding businesses are able to present themselves to their customer in a way different from traditional push marketing strategies. Further, the content created requires time and attention in order for a business to achieve their desired results.

Oh Wait!

Since we are talking about content marketing, I thought I should share a nice little piece of content that Business Insider provided on their Facebook page! Just sharing the content of interest to me…. #collegelife uugheem!

Data Over HIPPO

           

            Highest Paid Person’s Opinion, or Hippo. The authors of “Practical Guide to Controlled Experiments on the Web: Listen to Your Customers not to the Hippos” explain how important it is for businesses to listen to data rather than the person who is in charge and their unsupported opinions about the businesses future decisions. The data we are speaking of in this particular instance are A/B testing results, and the decisions are those of the website design.

            Before getting a little bit of an overview from two prominent A/B testing providers, Optimizely and VWO (Visual Website Optimizer), my knowledge of A/B testing was limited. Well, I should say more limited than it is now! With my limited knowledge, the ability to test and compare a website’s effectiveness in obtaining the most amount of conversions possible seems to be one of the most important website optimization tools. Sure the opinion of your boss (uughem, HIPPO) or the website designer is important, but why rely on personal opinions of the people within the company when you can obtain a majority opinion from the people that matter the most… THE CUSTOMER!

            Another important advantage of A/B testing is the fact that customers don’t always know what they want. Often it is hard for a person to explain what they want in many aspects of their life, what a customer wants to see on a website is no different. This is where the quantitative data is most important. The customer is able to demonstrate what they want without having to express it.