Archive for February, 2011

Facebook Like Button Gains Better Sharing Functionality

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Facebook has been living in a two-button world. First, the social networking giant provided online publishers with a Share button, then it followed up with a Like button that replaced the notion of Facebook fans.

While these two buttons have both been used for awhile, they actually operated differently in terms of how they allowed individuals to share information on Facebook. The Like button was a simple one-step sharing process, while the Share button allowed users to share a headline, blurb and an image for an article in a multi-step process. With Facebook’s most recent update to its Like button, all of the functionality of the Share button has now become a part of the Like button, while keeping the Like to a simple one-click process.

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When users press the Like button today, a headline, blurb and thumbnail will be posted on their Wall. Then, they will be given the option to comment on that item. Prior to these upgrades to the Like button, only a link to your article would appear in a users recently activity, which receives less attention than the profile Wall.

Marketing Takeaway

For marketers, these changes highlight that Facebook is trying to move to one sharing button for publishers. With this change in functionality, it is clear that the Share button will be fading away in favor of a more robust Like button. As a business publishing content online, you should leverage Facebook as a referral source of traffic. These new Like button features are yet another reason businesses need to have at least one image in their blog post. Having an image in your blog post will help your article stand out more, when it is shared on Facebook.

Now that the Like button shares articles in a more holistic way, marketers should be looking at their analytics to see how their traffic from Facebook changes. Continue to encourage people to Like your blog content. More traffic also means that it is more important than ever to have calls to action on your business blog and within your individual blog posts.

Are you excited about these changes to the Like button?

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Speaking at Think Visibility – March 5th, 2011

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I’m looking forward to this weekend when I will be heading over to my favourite city, Leeds, for the return of the Think Visibility conference. I will be making a weekend of it with Becky, and Anthony and Kean from the Bronco team will be coming too. This time round I won’t be doing the [...]

Speaking at Think Visibility – March 5th, 2011 is a post from: Dave Naylor’s SEO Blog.

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Foursquare Now Distinguishes Between Friends and Followers

Monday, February 28th, 2011

When my college journalism professor was trying to wrap her mind around Twitter followers, she said, “I am not going anywhere; why are they following me?” While her words then were meant to be a joke, today they simply convey the evolution of social networks.

On Foursquare, the location-based social network, you are going somewhere and you do have followers. Fourquare recently announced, if you reach a certain level of popularity—1000 Foursquare friends—your very first 100 contacts will remain your friends and the rest will become your “followers.” What is the reasoning behind this? “We don’t want your phone vibrating all day,” explained the geo-based social network in an email notification. “We determined that 1000 friends will be the cap for normal accounts.”

So does this have implications for marketers? It sure does!

Focus on the People You Are Following

By distinguishing between friends and followers, Foursquare is pointing out the people with a large reach. If you are a local business, you can easily identify these individuals and try to attract them to you. If you successfully invite them to your location, they have the power to get your brand name out there and share it with the thousands of early-adopters following them.

Foursquare friends VS followersHow to go about it?

Go to your Foursquare profile and scroll down to the two columns titled “Friends” and “Following.” You want to focus on the latter. Select to view the entire list of people you have automatically started following as they are popular. You can pick a few individual ones and see exactly how many friends and followers they have. Then, try to engage them by inviting them to your business location. Maybe offer them a special offer or a coupon? It is up to you!

What is even cooler about this type of identification is that these popular figures can replicate the same “check-in” as an update on Twitter and Facebook. And if they have that many followers on Foursquare, you can only imagine what their popularity status is like on other social networks.

So you don’t have to be a celebrity to take advantage of Foursquare’s separation between friends and followers. Just think outside the box!

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How Do You Keep Up with the Competition? [Marketing Cast]

Monday, February 28th, 2011

In this age of rapidly changing technologies, businesses are fiercely competing for the attention of online viewers. Many companies start obsessing over what the competition is doing. Should you follow suit? “I don’t think this is the right thing to focus on,” says David Meerman Scott.

In this episode of the Weekly Marketing Cast, we talk about the dynamic between you and your competitors. What do you currently practice and how should you behave in the future? Watch the video below for some tips!

Be Aware of Your Competitors

You need to be aware of what the competition is doing. Are they raising or lowering their prices? Are they launching a new product? Don’t be ignorant about their successes and failures; yet don’t obsess over them.

Don’t Copy the Competition

“I have seen it in so many places,” David says. “The company that leads is the company doing the unique and interesting things.” David is referring to great content creation and social media engagement among other innovative ideas. “That is the right thing to do—focus on your potential and existing customers,” he adds. When you concentrate on the right things, you are going to force the competitors to obsess over you and copy you.

So, what companies do you obsess over?

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Email Marketing & Social Media Interview: Kristin Hersant of StrongMail

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Kristin Hersant As a long time and trusted marketing agency, TopRank Online Marketing gets to work with some amazing B2B technology and SaaS companies. One of those companies is StrongMail.  Today Kristin Hersant, VP of Corporate Communications joins an esteemed group of marketers and thought leaders ranging from Guy Kawasaki to David Meerman Scott interviewed here at Online Marketing Blog.

Kristin is a firecracker of smarts and energy towards online marketing. Her company StrongMail is the leader in an array of email marketing and social media marketing services. Read on to learn more about the future of Email Marketing and its intersection with Social Media:

Please share a bit about your marketing background and StrongMail. What types of companies do you serve?

I have held a variety of B2B Corporate Marketing positions spanning from program management to event marketing, PR and marketing communications. The industries I’ve worked in include internet advertising, online marketing, desktop software, enterprise software and magazine publishing, which have all contributed in one form or another to my position here at StrongMail. I joined StrongMail in 2004 and have loved every minute of our explosive growth since then.

StrongMail provides email marketing and social media solutions to some of the world’s biggest brands including InterContinental Hotels Group, Travelocity, Viacom, T. Rowe Price and Zappos. Our solutions offer the highest ROI of any enterprise email service provider, which means that we make a lot of sense for B2C companies sending over 1 million messages per month and offer exceptional ROI for companies who send over 5 million messages per month.

How did StrongMail get into the social media business?

StrongMail became a social media marketing provider in 2009 through a series of strategic acquisitions. First we acquired PopularMedia, a Sequoia Capital backed company with a suite of social media products that we integrated into our platform. We currently offer Social Studio, a suite of social media marketing tools that is comprised of a referral marketing platform (StrongMail Influencer), a content sharing tool (Social Notes) and a social media management tool (Social Direct.)

Last year, we also announced the acquisition of two NY-based web firms that we combined to form StrongMail’s new boutique email and social CRM agency. This compliments our suite of technology tools with the strategy and creative expertise that brands need to effectively leverage the channel. All of our social offerings are available either in conjunction with or separately from our email platform, and our social media clients include Castrol, and Discover Card.

A big challenge for many email marketers is deliverability. What are some of the common issues companies are facing?

Controlling spam has become a major problem for ISPs worldwide. On average, 90% of all email sent is categorized as “unsolicited commercial email” or spam.

When you narrow that down to look at the burden on one ISP, of the 8 billion email messages that Hotmail receives globally each month, 5.5 billion are blocked at the gateway and 1 billion are marked as junk. That’s a lot of unwanted email… and unfortunately not all of that is sent from the Nigerian fraudsters and prescription drug pushers that we traditionally think of when we think of spam. A fair percentage of what ISPs classify as “unwanted email” comes from legitimate senders, including many of the brands that we know and trust.

In an effort to improve the Inbox user experience for their customers in 2011, the four major ISPs (Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail and AOL) have all announced plans to change the way that they block and filter email this year. Among other things – including adding social functionality to the Inbox – they have announced that they are going to start factoring engagement into their filtering algorithms.

What this means is that it’s now going to be critically important that your subscribers not only open and click on your emails, but that they do so on a regular basis. If they don’t, it could potentially affect your overall email deliverability and negatively impact revenue driven from the email channel.

To manage through this shift, StrongMail recommends employing a combination of two things:

1)     Carefully scrubbing your list to either remove or attempt to re-engage non-responders after 6 months of inactivity.

2)     Implementing marketing tactics to increase subscriber engagement as soon as possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about how the Inbox experience is changing in 2011, I encourage you to download our December whitepaper on the subject, “The New Rules of Deliverability: 2011 and Beyond”.

Except the intersection with social media, (I’ll ask about that shortly) what’s the most important change in email marketing over the past year? Any surprises?

In addition to what I mention above, there appears to be a migration from batch email marketing towards triggered email marketing automation. Marketers have been talking about it for years, but we’re finally seeing a shift towards more wide-spread adoption. This is a result of technology advances that put easy-to-use workflow-building functionality into the hands of marketers and a drive for enterprises to generate a single view of their customer across all channels.

We recently published a great case study on this with InterContinental Hotels Group that I recommend reading if you’re looking at a similar program.

Many companies are implementing Email and Social Media Marketing solutions independently but you’re a strong advocate of a synergy between them. What are your recommendations for companies looking for best practices and an approach to making their email marketing more social?

When social media first started gaining momentum, many industry pundits were saying that it signaled the death of email. Neilsen set out to prove that hypothesis, and fielded a study that broke internet users in to four groups – three focused on varying levels of social media usage and a fourth group did not use social media at all.

Then they overlayed email usage on top of those segments and discovered that their hypothesis was wrong. In fact, the more engaged a person was with social media, the more heavily they consumed email.

Email Consumption

This intersection of highly engaged email and social media users tend to be more active online – generating reviews, recommendations and comments in forums. In many cases, this segment also contains your most influential brand advocates.

The good news for email marketers is that, these influencers are already in your email database. The most successful socialized email marketing programs target these influencers with something of value that incentivizes them to spread the word about your product or service. We’ve seen brands drive as much as six figures in additional revenue off of one socialized email program that was targeted in this fashion. Another was able to generate 8,500 new subscribers off of one email campaign using a similar strategy.

The key is to be thoughtful with your email and social media strategy. Provide your influencers with genuine, true value in your campaigns, and if you can make them look like a hero by providing them with something of value to share with their networks, even better.

Simply integrating passive social sharing is good, but it will yield a much lower lift in click-throughs.

Companies that have been involved with social media publishing, sharing and networking for a while often find themselves overwhelmed and looking for efficiencies through tools. What types of social media tools do you recommend? Is there a process for evaluation that you’d recommend?

Every smart social media strategy starts with listening, so your first investment should be in a listening platform like Radian 6, Attenisty or Alterian’s SM2. In addition, you need a social media management console to schedule, track and respond to your mentions across social channels. StrongMail has one called Social Direct, but other popular ones include HootSuite or even Tweetdeck, which is free. If you’re a large enterprise that has a team of people tweeting on behalf of your brand in a customer service capacity, you should look at Co-Tweet.

Additional technology investments could include a community platform like Jive or Lithium (if you determine that’s right for your business), or a referral marketing platform like StrongMail Influencer.

But to be honest, most enterprise level social media marketers are still investing in internal education and training. I heard a great quote last week… “Social media is too young to be a science. It’s still an art.”  This means that the right strategy and set of tools is going to be different for every brand. The good news is – like email marketing – there is a wealth of free information out there for you to help devise your social media strategy if you’re budget strapped. However if you don’t have time, there are also plenty of agencies to help you quickly build a strategy that makes sense for your business.

“Social Media” is the darling topic for many business publications, blogs (including this one) and even mainstream media. Do you think at some point there will be a social media bubble? If so, when do you think it will pop?

That’s a great question… Gartner’s hype-cycle shows that every new, promising technology will enter the trough of disillusionment before it enters the plateau of productivity. By that theory, we are absolutely headed for a bubble-burst, but it’s not certain when that will happen. I suspect that it will have something to do with a consumer privacy backlash. Social media is free for a reason… Mark Zuckerberg might not think consumers will ever care about how their information is shared, but I think they eventually will. Companies should make sure that their data management practices and privacy policies are above board and clearly articulated in their privacy policies in preparation for this.

In the recent StrongMail webinar, 2011 Social Marketing Business Forecast, Jeremiah Owyang talked about social media budget allocation for the coming year. What are some of the shifts in priority that you’re seeing with companies that are maturing in their social media programs?

Mature social media marketers are starting to shift their limited budget dollars from traditional agencies (that maybe handled their PR or advertising campaigns) to boutique agencies that specialize in social media marketing. This enables them to generate significantly higher returns from their social media marketing programs. Our agency is doing some groundbreaking, data-based Social CRM Marketing work in this area that is producing incredible results for our clients.

ROI is a big topic when it comes to social media marketing. How does email marketing help facilitate or achieve greater business value from social participation?

I just spoke at OpenDialogue’s Social Media Marketing Conference in Toronto and 2/3 of the audience came from a marketing background, whereas less than 5 people in the audience came from a PR background. That is a significant shift from who owned social media a few years ago. Marketers are taking over… which signals a shift towards needing to prove ROI. In PR, that’s a fuzzy metric.

Email marketing is a direct marketing discipline, which by nature means that everything needs to be tracked and measured. Social media metrics are more engagement focused, however smart marketers need to start analyzing those metrics in conjunction with their email marketing metrics, purchase metrics, customer lifetime value metrics to build a holistic picture of each consumer’s value to your company. This is the holy grail of social media marketing ROI, however I don’t think it’s that far off for companies with the right organizational structure and integrated technology infrastructure.

What are some of the biggest myths, misconceptions or outright misinformation you’ve been seeing about email, social or a convergence of the two?

Probably that social media is going to kill email, which I alluded to earlier. Social media is just another channel to add to the marketing mix. Did television kill the phone? No. Did Email kill the phone? No. Did Email kill print? A little bit… but I don’t think social media can be compared in the same way. Email is literally an electronic version of mail… so of course it’s going to affect the usage of print. But it’s never going to kill it completely. And social media is most certainly *not* going to kill email.

What are you most optimistic about for online marketing in 2011?

The move towards engagement filtering by the top ISPs is driving increased pressure for email marketers to up their game. As any marketer who has ever been blocked by a major ISP know will tell you… once you’re blocked, it can be quite a challenge to get unblocked.

The four major ISPs aren’t making the specifics of their algorithms public, nor have they announced exactly when they will start junking emails based on lack of subscriber engagement. However by taking steps to increase subscriber engagement now, you will not only protect yourself from being negatively impacted by this change – you will have the added bonus of improving the performance of your email marketing programs.

Email marketers are paying attention. According to a recent StrongMail survey of just under 1000 global email marketing executives, 52% cited increasing subscriber engagement as one of their top priorities in 2011. This makes it the #1 initiative for email marketers in 2011 – followed by improving segmentation and targeting and integrating social media with their email marketing programs.

In my opinion, this is awesome news for everyone. Its forcing email marketers to evolve and start paying attention to engagement metrics on an ongoing basis – not to mention keep their lists clean – if they want to continue to have their email delivered. This is going to hurt lazy email marketers and spammers, but that’s the point. But if you’re on top of this change, it will only create a win-win situation for consumers, ISPs and brands alike.

For in-depth examples of how brands are successfully increasing subscriber engagement, I recommend downloading our whitepaper on the topic, “The Ultimate Email Marketing Guidebook: Increasing Subscriber Engagement.”

Thank you Kristin!  For more insights and to connect with Kristin on the social web, visit her on Twitter or her blog on the StrongMail website.

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Email Marketing & Social Media Interview: Kristin Hersant of StrongMail |

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Traveling for next few weeks

Sunday, February 27th, 2011

I’m going to be traveling for the next few weeks. I’ll be at three different conferences:

I’ll probably be much slower to respond to emails and tweets while I’m on the road.

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10 Inbound Marketing Interview Questions

Saturday, February 26th, 2011

inbound marketing questionsIt is exciting to see inbound marketing growing as an industry. As this trends picks up, business owners, marketers and marketing agencies have the tough task of hiring the right people to help with inbound marketing for their business. This process is often further complicated by the fact that the recruiters are still in the process of learning about inbound marketing themselves.

In in effort to ensure you identify only inbound marketing rock-stars, we have provided 10 questions to supplement your hiring interview processes. Note: these questions are in no specific order–pick and choice the ones that are best for your business. Additionally, the quality of answers would depend on the experience level you were looking to hire.

10 Inbound Marketing Interview Questions

1. Can you explain “insert topic” to me in a simple way? – Inbound marketing is about making your industry interesting and helping to solve customer problems with content. This question is used to make sure that someone can drop industry jargon and communicate a simple idea in a clear and engaging way.

2. What results have you achieved with your current inbound marketing efforts? – Inbound marketing is about growing your business. Make sure that the person can provide solid numbers to showcase their previous work. This also shows that they have an understanding of how to measure inbound marketing efforts. 

3. What do you read online? – Part of inbound marketing is understanding industry news and leveraging for the benefit of the business. Does the person have the right habits in place to do this?

4. How do you drive traffic to your blog (personal/business)? – A business blog is a big part of the inbound marketing process. This question is looking for an understanding of not only writing for a blog, but also growing readership.

5. What part of inbound marketing would you start with for our business? – This question ensures the candidate understands the basics. If the say “social media,” when you are getting very little organic search traffic, for example, it demonstrates that they may not be good at seeing the big picture.

6. What is an example of a company that does inbound marketing well and why? – Reverse engineering is an important marketing skill. It is important that you hire a person that knows what success looks like and understands what other businesses have done to be successful.

7. What are five blog post titles you would write for our business? This question is all about understanding how well this person can incorporate inbound marketing into the mix of industry insights.

8. How do you know what type of content to create for our business? – This question tests industry knowledge along with understanding of types of inbound marketing content. Beyond blog posts, the candidate should mention webinars and ebooks.

9. What area of inbound marketing are you least knowledgeable about? It is important to hire a person who understands they don’t know it all… This question is all about identifying that level of maturity in someone.

10. How long will it take for us to see results from your inbound marketing efforts? – Regardless of your business, setting the right expectations is critical. You don’t want to hire someone that will only tell you what you want to hear. Test the person by making sure they give you reasonable estimates for tactics.

Do you agree with the questions on this list? What would you add? If you are looking for a job in inbound marketing check out the HubSpot Careers Page, we are hiring!

If you liked this post please share it with your network on LinkedIn using the button at the top left of this post.

Photo Credit: takomabibelot

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Is Your Business Prepared for the Mobile Browsing Takeover?

Friday, February 25th, 2011

mobile browsingThere’s no doubt about it. The marketing world is abuzz with the effects mobile usage is having — and will continue to have — on consumers’ purchasing decisions.

As if the shift toward inbound marketing and away from traditional, outbound marketing wasn’t enough of a change for us marketers to adapt to! Now, we need to be concerned with consumers’ increasing use of the web on their mobile devices. This all begs the question …

“Is your business prepared?”

Thinking this mobile marketing stuff is just another marketing trend that won’t catch on or affect your business? Consider the following predictions from Morgan Stanley internet analyst, Mary Meeker, who regularly releases a ‘State of the Internet’ report and has been dubbed the ‘Queen of the Net.’ 

1. Within the next five years, “more users will connect to the internet over mobile devices than desktop PCs.” Meeker’s point is that mobile internet usage will only increase with time. Companies who take advantage of it will win, and those that ignore it will lose.

mobile chart2 resized 600

2. Mobile internet usage is ramping up substantially faster than desktop internet usage did. Meeker compared iPhone/iPod Touch adoption rates to those of AOL and Netscape in the early 90s, and she determined that adoption of Apple devices is taking place 11 times faster than adoption of AOL took place and several times faster than adoption of Netscape.

3. Increased mobile usage will result in growth in ecommerce. According to Meeker, users are more willing to pay for content on mobile devices than desktops for a variety of reasons, including personalization, small price tags, and easy-to-use/secure payment systems.

Mobile Browsing Implications for Marketers

As consumers increasingly turn to their mobile devices to browse the web and seek information about products and services, it’s extremely important that businesses make sure their websites are mobile-friendly and compatible. Ensuring that mobile site visitors have a positive user experience is the first step in taking advantage of this powerful shift toward mobile browsing.

Go ahead: Pick up a smart phone and access your company’s website with the browser on your mobile device. Chances are, you probably have some work to do. Is your CMS able to support efforts to make your website mobile-friendly? Are you a business that can potentially leverage the consumer trend of mobile purchasing by using location-based services or mobile coupons?

How is your business preparing for this important shift toward mobile browsing?

Photo Credit: Robert Scoble


Live Webinar: 2011 State of Inbound Marketing

Live Webinar: 2011 State of Inbound Marketing

Learn the latest findings from the 2011 State of Inbound Marketing Report.

Join this webinar to hear how inbound marketing channels compare to outbound channels.

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Inspired by Iceland & Microsoft – Social Media & the Marketing Mix

Friday, February 25th, 2011

Mel Carson & Kristjian Hauksson

The last session of the day on the last day of SES London was on Social Media in the Marketing Mix with Kristjan Hauksson of Optimize Your Web in Iceland and Mel Carson of Microsoft in London.

Kristjan started things off: What happens when a volcano goes wrong?  He recounted the situation last year when Eyjafjallajokul erupted (say that 3 times fast – I dare you) and so much ash spread into the atmosphere that hundreds of planes were grounded from flying.  This, you can imagine, had a dulling effect on Icelandic tourism. Iceland regularly has more tourists than there are people who live there.

Understand that everything we do in broadcast and digital needs to take advantage of all channels available.

Problem - Iceland hit by a volcano eruption that stops most flight traffic and threatens tourism.
Solution - Created a website with a video. An AWESOME video:  Amazingly, Kristjan says none of the people in the video were from Iceland – they found most of them randomly.

They started to target keywords not directly using “Iceland” but related to news properties talking about Iceland. They also targeted multiple languages. “inspired by iceland” as a query on Google went from 0 to 428k listings in Google search results.

A lot of the promotion occurred via social channels. The video was promoted via video distribution services. They gave the video to people to mash-up and make their own versions. Other well known people started making their own versions of Inspired by Iceland. In total, 839 videos were created.

The stats: There were 150k visitors the first week. 1.1 million total visitors in 2010. That’s all traffic to Impressive. Here’s the video:

After watching this I want to go to Iceland. Really. I’d love to go for my birthday in June – we’ll see.   BTW, there’s a teeny, tiny fringe NSFW part for about 3 seconds, at 1:14.

The video gained major media coverage: Bloomberg, Fox News, BBC. The marketing team used listening tools to identify when people talked about the site and then reached out to them and gave them more content.

By leveraging Google Universal search and a holistic perspective – Display ads, FB Ads, blogger relations and keyword optimization a tourist summer that looked bleak was on par with a very successful 2009 and 2011 looks really good.

Lesson: Listen and use the opportunity when it happens.

Next up is Mel Carson from Microsoft.

Mel opens up telling a story about finding a magazine about glutes (as in butt muscles) that he tweeted about. The store where he purchased the magazine was listening to Twitter and engaged with Mel (with a sense of humor). The lesson is that the direct interaction resulted in relationship building – loyalty.

Microsoft Advertising collects content about their teams and promotes through social channels. Microsoft Advertising currently has about 30k fans, friends, followers.

Mel follows up with a story about pulling an enthusiastic and persistent fellow out of the line to get into a Microsoft party that was sold out. The gratefulness showed by the guy on Twitter demonstrated what kind of effect acting in the right way at the right time can have between brands and individuals.

Mel’s next story is about a monk. A Bishop (?) wanted to recruit a monk. Mel set him up with a Microsoft Advertising account. 3 years later they signed up a monk. “If it hand’t been for the internet, I’d still be a software engineer.” It’s a great example of paid media driving traffic to social media where they were educated and then converted.

Punch line: New metric “CPM – Cost Per Monk”

Mel says it’s important to remember that humans are social. Use ourselves as a form of media. Don’t just think about social media, but all the platforms, screens and places where you can engage customers.

7 Social Integration Tips:

- Always ask why? Facebook! Why? Then you have goals.
- Where’s your varnish – what ties your message across platforms? Otherwise you have silos.
- Optimize for people “outside the room” How to make your content discoverable, shareable
- Internal education leads to external evangelism
- Earn it. Earned media, buzz, discussion, etc. Win7 Launch 221m impressions
- Think “social media marketing” not just social media. Be disciplined
- What’s the ROI – return on interaction – return on investment

This session had some great stories about social media and engagement.  Thanks to both Kristjian and Mel. Speaking of Mel, he took a few minutes to chat with me before being rushed off by his Microsoft entourage about social media strategy and how important the “people” component of social media is, on contrast to all the emphasis on technology.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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Inspired by Iceland & Microsoft – Social Media & the Marketing Mix |

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8 Ways to Optimize Your Site for Lead Growth

Friday, February 25th, 2011

As maximizing lead flow is on every inbound marketer’s mind, yesterday we hosted a webinar that directly tackled this popular topic. Tim Ash, the President and CEO of and Mike Volpe, HubSpot’s VP of Marketing, shared some website practices that improve visitor-to-lead conversion rates. 

Here are the top questions brought up by our audience and the answers Mike and Tim gave:

1. In your forms, how do you strike a balance between qualifying leads and not asking too many questions?

In his presentation, Tim shared that shorter forms perform better than long ones. But how can a marketer keep her forms short and still receive enough information to qualify leads? It all depends on the different steps in the qualifying process, Tim said. In a B2B environment, for instance, the deals are big, the sales cycle are long and you don’t want to push somebody off. In a B2C environment, on the other hand, an individual sale is not that big and shouldn’t require you to take your interaction with leads offline.

2. Why does HubSpot have long forms?

“We do a variety of things at HubSpot,” Mike responded. Some of our forms have many fields, some require only an email and other content offers are entirely open. “The truth is always proven out by the numbers,” Mike noted. “What you should think about is the value of the data you are collecting and, are those extra 2 or 4 fields worth the difference in conversion rate.” In some cases, you might be willing to give up a couple of leads for the value of that information. For more thoughts on this topic, check out

3. What is a good conversion rate?

There is no specific number for a good visitor-to-lead conversion rate, Tim noted. It all depends on your industry and specific business. The range can be pretty wide and ultimately, there is one activity marketers should focus on. “Beat what you have,” Tim said.

4. How do you identify buyer personas?

If you had to put your customers in a few buckets, Mike said, what would these buckets be? The answer to this question will point you in the right direction of identifying buyer personas. Naturally, you should consider using survey data and conducting some analysis based on it.

5. If you cut down text on landing pages, won’t you kill SEO opportunities?

There should be a balance between the length of your landing pages and SEO. As Tim pointed out, a lot of people include graphics at the top and more SEO-friendly content at the bottom. “Don’t let SEO paralyze you,” Tim said, encouraging marketers to concentrate on improving the user experience of their visitors.

6. How do you transform a blog reader into a lead?

At the bottom of each of our blog posts, Mike said, we feature a call-to-action (CTA). That CTA is related to the content of this blog post, e.g. if the blog post is about landing pages, the CTA might be about a landing page optimization webinar. Using this approach, you can turn your blog into a top lead generation source.

7. What is the best way to drive people to a landing page?

One of the most fundamental best practices is to keep your referral source, CTA and landing page consistent. As Tim said, make sure there is an alignment between what got the visitor to the page and what’s actually on that page. In other words, keep your promises and try to meet people’s expectations.

8. Can you have multiple links on a landing page?

It is okay to have multiple choices, Tim noted. But don’t include more than 3 or 4 and try to group them into regions. For instance, ”Learn More,” “Download the Offer” and “Talk to a Sales Rep.” In this way every step of the process offers some level of engagement. As Tim said, people will select the right activity for them and what they are comfortable with.

Like the tips above? For more insights from Tim and Mike, you should watch the recorded webinar!

Webinar On Demand: Optimize Your Website for Maximum Lead Flow

Webinar On Demand: Optimize Your Website for Maximum Lead Flow

Increase Your Lead Flow Through Effective Website Optimization

View this webinar to learn how optimizing your site can help you increase your lead flow.

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