Archive for August, 2009

10 Lessons Outbound and Inbound Marketers Can Learn From Each Other


This article is a guest post by Mike Damphousse, president of Green Leads, a firm specializing in demand generation services.

Over
the past month or so since deciding to implement Hubspot for our company, I’ve
been consuming Hubspot’s online educational materials that cover best practices
for inbound marketers. I read a blog article by Rick Burnes on the topic of Outbound Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing, and it got me thinking that there
may be more similarities than differences.  We can all learn a bit by looking at inbound and outbound marketing.

 

inbound marketing telephones

 

What Inbound
Can Learn From Outbound

1.
Persist
- Outbound marketers will dial the same person multiple times per day,
for days on end.  Do the same with
inbound tactics. For instance, I know there are some long tail keywords that
get little to no impressions per day, but I keep those campaigns fully funded and
keep creating content around them. Prospects that search those phrases are the
best leads I’ll ever get.

2.
Target
– Outbound sales reps are typically snipers. Don’t think of inbound
marketing in too broad a manner. 
The best inbound marketers already do this – they hyper target.  Write blog articles on narrow, relevant
topics.  Bid on keywords that are
so specific they are sniper shots. Drive the most relevant visitors to your
site.

3.
Quality vs. Quantity
– Inbound marketers can sometimes be overly focused on volumes
of leads. They should also be looking at the quality of those leads and the
ability for them to convert to pipeline activity.  Outbound marketers doing appointment setting would rather
have 5 quality conversations a day than 50 wasted ones.

4.
Be Human
– Sales calls are all about the human conversation.  Don’t sit behind Google searches, landing
pages and emails forever.  Engage
the prospects as early as they can be engaged.  Create industry leaders and personalities for your company.
People want to buy from people.

5. Rapport – The best
outbound specialists I know can gain rapport with an individual or admin in
less than 3 minutes.  Do the same
with inbound efforts.  Present
quality content, don’t sell too hard, and treat the visitors with respect.  Don’t force them to click
“unsubscribe.”

What Outbound Can Learn From Inbound

1.
Provide Content
– Prospects don’t want to hear a “blah, blah, blah” sales
pitch. If they are going to spend time on the phone, they want value. Create
content that a prospect wants to hear. Say things that add value to the
conversation.

2.
Listen and Wait
– Don’t sell so hard that the prospect can’t speak. Put the
value statements out there, ask questions, then wait for them to educate
themselves and raise their hands. 
Yes, this can be done in a phone call.

3.
Convert
– Treat every call the same way inbound marketers treat a landing
page.  Make it informative,
uncluttered, and drive them to convert from a low value prospect to a higher
value prospect. Convert them to pipeline prospects.

4.
Relevant Keywords
– Inbound marketers spend enormous amounts of time developing
relevant keywords to build value behind. 
Do the same. Understand what your prospect wants to hear, and use those
keywords during the call.  Listen
for the keywords to come from the prospect as indicators.

5.
Analyze
– I’ve never met an inbound marketing program that didn’t have a geek
behind it.  Track everything and measure
it: dials, connects, pitches, conversions, RFIs, etc.  If you modify your style one week, or get a new lead source,
track the numbers.  Know what works
and what doesn’t.

Bonus Tip:  Master Both Inbound Marketing
and Outbound Marketing

I’ve
visited software and service companies that provide products and services that
support inbound marketing activities. 
I know their senior marketing and sales leaders.  The one thing the best of them have in
common is that they all have sizable outbound marketing programs.  It’s the same with the outbound
marketers that are thriving right now. They are implementing solid inbound
programs and are seeing results.  A
well balanced demand gen program maximizes inbound and outbound efforts.

What
other similarities do you see? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

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5 Common Pieces of SEO Advice I Disagree With

Posted by randfish

Over the years, I’ve heard a number of recommendations for SEO given out that I simply don’t understand or find logically flawed. I thought it might be interesting to share some of these and hear more perspectives. It could be that I just don’t comprehend the reasoning or haven’t thought things through, but I personally don’t always recommend these, so it’s worth at least a discussion.

#1 – Succesful SEO Copywriting = Keywords & Content Structure

Here’s an example of two pages upon which different kinds of SEO has been performed:

Keyword Optimized vs. Compelling Content

I struggle with the fact that 90%+ of the SEO copywriting advice I see on the web or hear at conferences relates to the use of keywords and the content structure (I’m guilty of this myself sometimes, but have been trying to break that habit). While those things may add value from a technical algorithmic ranking perspective, the value of even one additional external link, at least in my opinion, dwarfs the value of having the keyword repeated in the H2 tag the correct number of times.

It seems to me that if and when copywriters are given the knowledge to understand the web’s ecosphere around their content arena, and asked to target those who share and spread content on the web, their SEO work is likely to add far more value. That shouldn’t stop SEOs and writers from employing good keyword usage practices, but I wish I saw more about how to "write for the Linkerati" and leverage the emotions that make people link.

#2 – Never Exchange Links with Other Sites

There’s been so much fear pushed around the web about reciprocal link exchanges and link trading programs that the message has been muddled up into the completely nonsensical "never link to someone who links to you." To my mind, that’s a touch of lunacy. The web’s link graph is meant to be representative of the connections, endorsements and relationships of the real world. Artificially manipulating it, even when you’re doing so because you think Google wants you to, doesn’t make much sense.

The advice holds true when an offer comes via email suggesting you link to a site with which you have no relationship and, in exchange, they’ll link to you.  It holds true when a directory wants you to link to it in order to get a link out. It doesn’t hold true when some blogger has said something you care about and linked to you, or when a business partner has endorsed your work and is hoping you can reciprocate. I created a handy little risk chart to help explain my positions on "reciprocal" links:

Continuum of Link Exchange Risk

For example, there’s nothing wrong with SEOmoz linking to Distilled’s website – our partners in the UK – and likewise, getting a link back from them. If, however, we weren’t actually partners but only linked back and forth in order to artificially inflate one another’s link popularity, it’s a different story.

#3 – Rewrite the H1 Headline to Be Unique from the Title Tag

I’m not sure exactly where this advice originated, but I’ve heard it from some SEOs I really respect, including my good friend Todd Malicoat. Still, I’m highly skeptical. I’ve tried it a few times in test environments and looked at some rough correlation data – both of which suggesting that there’s no particular benefit to having unique titles vs. H1s.

H1 to Title Mismatch

The big reason I’m against it is that H1s are intended to be the "headline" of a page, and if you click on a search result, then see a different headline on the page itself, it’s a very off-putting experience. This is one of those times when, even if it was good for SEO, I think the usability argument might trump. The expectation created by a title is that the article will be that precise piece. I have trouble imagining search engineers deciding that disparity between the two should result in a higher ranking.

#4 – Never Spam Report Your Competitors

A number of arguments are made against spam reporting the competition when they’ve employed tactics that violate the search engine guidlines. Some operators in the field want to make this a moral or ethical issue (AKA – the "thieves pact" made by being an SEO must be honored). However, since there’s no way to verify whether a particular SEO does or does not submit their competitors’ manipulative tactics to the engines, it could easily be that those most vocal about rejecting it as a path to success are actually the same ones who employ it most. Nothing stops an SEO from claiming to adhere to the "no outing" code while quietly turning in all of his/her cohorts.

This paradigm makes one path obvious – don’t say, at least publicly, that you report spam. Vocal parts of the SEO community are vehement about making examples of (and socially shunning/shaming) those who violate this "code of silence." However, from a practicality standpoint, it may still be valuable to your business to call out spam to the search engines so your site/page has a more level playing field from which to operate (as a white hat, competing against spammers is no fun). The vast majority of smart SEOs I’ve ever encountered expect that their sites are being consistently spam reported and thus engage only in tactics that are either 100% white hat or which they feel confident the engines will be hard pressed to discover (to my mind, the former makes far more sense).

Talking to lots of friends in the field, there seem to be a number of arguments in favor of spam reporting:

  • You may be able to improve your own ranking by removing a competitor
  • It’s a very low time/cost activity and typically a valuable learning experience (even those against reporting still strongly endorse researching and learning from those who do use black/gray hat tactics)
  • You may gain trust in the eyes of the search engines (so long as you are 100% clean yourself)
  • The spam you report may make its way into the index in a scalable way, pushing out multiple manipulators and thus leaving more room, on a macro scale, for your site to perform positively
  • You can get a better sense for what the engines do/don’t tolerate and to what degree by seeing which tactics warrant immediate penalties vs. long delays or no action at all
  • You may help the engines provide better search results for all users, thus increasing the overall value of the web

And a few reasons against:

  • You may inadvertently hurt your own site’s rankings if you’ve engaged in (or unknowingly benefitted from) particular types of spam
  • Reporting spam may hurt your fellow SEOs (gray or black hat though their tactics may be) and is thus unethical

The ethics argument against is certainly the most compelling, and as SEOmoz prides itself so highly on the ethics and values we adopt, I thought a quick review of the subject was in order. Thus, I checked out some great works on ethics from the Markula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University. In particular, I found it valuable to read What is Ethics, as well as Whistle Blowing in the Public Sector. My basic takeaway is that If you believe that search engines are an oppressive (or potential oppressive) entity that does not have the best interests of the web or its users in mind, then complying with their request to help punish abusers has some ethical concerns. Likewise, if you feel that those who spam or manipulate the engines’ indices are removing value from the web’s usefulness, you may have similar ethical concerns staying quiet. Similar to reporting criminals for violating unjust laws (or turning them in to a corrupt, oppresive regime), the ethics of the situation depends greatly on your view of the engines and those who violate their guidelines.

#5 – A Site’s Age is Indicative of Ranking Ability

This is one area where I worry considerably about the value of correlation data. While sites that have longer history may indeed have a greater proclivity for high rankings, I don’t personally believe that the engines use a raw "age" metric or even an "age of links" metric to inflate potential rankings.

Does Older Always Mean Better Rankings

The "age of site" or "age of links" argument relies on the idea that search engineers believe age to be equated with higher quality. While there may certainly be value in analyzing the temporal nature of links and content, I struggle to think that older universally (or even mostly) correlates with a better result and better user experience. Age may have some bearing on certain kinds of rankings in specific scenarios and could play a role in trust/spam analysis as well, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a positive metric for judging overall potential performance.


Obviously, this post is largely opinion-based, and like all material on the blog, shouldn’t be misconstrued as anything else. I’m looking forward to discussion on these topics in the comments.

 

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Big Morning in Social Media [Cartoon]


twitter news cartoon 


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Whiteboard Friday – Generating Unique Content

Posted by great scott!

It’s a common dilemma: When the engines constantly cry ‘content! content! content!’ you can start to wonder, "just how am I supposed to keep generating all of this unique content?"  A daunting challenge to be sure, especially for large sites with high-volume pipelines to fill.

In this week’s Whiteboard Friday Rand takes a look at the three major content classifications – editorial, machine-built, and user-generated – to help you understand what exactly qualifies as "unique" content, why it’s important to your site, and strategies you can use to generate it. Enjoy!

SEOmoz Whiteboard Friday – Generating Unique Content from Scott Willoughby on Vimeo.

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Why Inbound Marketing Should Be a Priority for Your Company This Week


bullet train

After working at HubSpot for almost three years, I have talked with thousands of people about the concept of inbound marketing – how to drive more qualified buyers to their website (get found), convert them into sales leads and then to customers (convert) and then measure and optimize the website to repeat and beat their competition.

In an average day, our sales organization will talk with dozens of people and sign up between 10 and 20 customers.

The industry has come a long way. In the early days, people would squinch up their noses and say “What is inbound marketing?” In August of 2009, people say, “I need help with inbound marketing. Tell me how the HubSpot product works to do that?”

That makes our sales job a lot easier. 

After we explain the HubSpot inbound marketing system, nearly everyone is super excited. We are gratified that inbound marketing appears to have universal appeal. No one ever says “This is a stupid idea. We have no interest in turning our website into a giant magnet to attract more qualified buyers and leads.”

But some of our prospects do say “This is great. We love HubSpot and we are going to start in October.” This is disconcerting to me. It means they don’t really get it.

Here are five reasons these companies — and your company — can’t wait until October:

1. You want to drive leads in the short term and the long term. Realistically, it takes some time to ramp up, drive qualified buyers and then harvest leads. If you start this week, you are going to need a 30-90 day ramp to get results.

It can work more quickly if you put in more work up front, but if you start the last week in August, your lead stream is going to start in earnest sometime in November.

If you have a 90-day sales cycle, that means that if you wait a week, you are essentially missing out on 2009.

2. Inbound Marketing is a zero-sum game. In traditional marketing, if you wait two months to do a mass mailing, it has no specific impact to you or your prospect. With inbound marketing, if you wait two months, you give your competition (who may be ahead of you today) 60 more days to optimize their site so it will be more difficult and potentially more expensive to get higher rankings. 

3. Inbound Marketing is growing like crazy. Lots of people are waking up to the fact that utilizing 21st century web techniques, you can drive more leads.

It moves like a bullet train out of Tokyo. Waiting 60 days means you are competing with 100,000 more blogs and 500,000 more blog articles. Waiting a few months means you compete with more people.

4. Your customers are back from vacation next week and they are ready to buy. They need the information now, not when you are ready to publish it

5. Social media is moving like a fast dog after a meat truck. Only 1% of companies in North America are using social media for driving leads. Start today and get first mover advantage. Start in October and you run the risk of being the fourth company in your industry to try to compete for the same eyeballs.

You can always find an excuse for delaying the start but remember that you ignore inbound marketing at your own peril. The floodgates are opening and the process is going mainstream.

There’s a reason they call it Internet time!

Photo: oafbot 

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This Week in Search for 8/26/09

Posted by Sam Niccolls

Before delving into industry news from the last two weeks, inspired by a pickup line used last night at the SEOmoz Training Seminar after party, I felt compelled to kick things off with a list of the five worst SEO pickup lines that no attendee of the SEOmoz Training Seminar in London should use this October.

5. Did it hurt? Did what hurt? …when you stopped ranking for ‘heaven.’

4. You know you can’t spell duplicate content without u and i, right?

3. I’m not sure if you pay $79 a month, but you’re a PRO member in my book.

2. Nice shoes… wanna rank? 

1. My name is Danny, what do you say we 301 back to my place?

Five Thumbs

Four Thumbs

  • Oprah’s Affiliate Smackdown: Last week was not a good time to be among the acai berry affiliates using images of Oprah or Dr. Oz without their endorsement. Both Oprah and Dr. Oz filed lawsuits against 50 online marketers who were using articles, video, images, and other such content to increase click through rates and sales.
  • Why Craigslist is a Mess: Craig Newmark may be content with a small home and a bird feeder, but it’s hard to look at Craigslist’s "ambiance of neglect" and not wonder why the classified giant hasn’t done more to improve over the years. In his recent article Wired’s Gary Wolf takes a behind the curtain at Founder Craig Newmark, CEO Jim Buckmaster, and the inner workings of the company.

Three Thumbs

  • Continued Focus on Local Search: David Mihm and others received a myriad of questions at the SEOmoz Training Seminar this week, but mozzers are not alone with their interest in local search. MSNBC will soon weave more local search results into their site through the acquisition of EveryBlock, a site founded by ChicagoCrime.org founder Adrian Holovaty.
  • DaaS Companies are Emerging: Wall Street Journal’s article goes into the successes of companies such as Open Table and talks about how data mining can be incredibly lucrative for data as a service (DaaS) companies who do it right.

Two Thumbs

  • Meet Sheryl Sandberg: She narrowly missed Forbes’ list of 100 most powerful women, but Harvard graduate, ex-Googler and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is playing an instrumental role in balancing data protection with advertising revenue. And with Facebook lagging MySpace to the tune of hundreds of millions in annual revenue, it’s an area where the social network has room for improvement.
  • 14 Reasons Enterprise 2.0 Projects Fail: We might learn more from our failures than from our successes, but with any luck this list of why enterprise 2.0 projects fail can prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from falling into common pitfalls.

Thumbs Down

  • PR Firm Reverb Communications Creates False Reviews: Any PR is good PR, right? What about bad PR for a PR firm? Well, after being exposed for hiring dozens of interns to write fake reviews at the Apple App Strore, Reverb Communications now knows a thing or two about the absolute value of PR.

Rocking on YOUmoz

  1. US Websites Break into UK SERPs by John Sparks
  2. Increase Google AdWords Quality Scores by Enhancing User Experience by RandyP
  3. The Importance of NoFollow Links by Junseth

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