Specializing in Marketing Services for the Learning and HR Solutions industries

Archive for June 2015

Marketing Automation – is your money on the right horse?

Marketing automation is a hot topic lately and has been trending in various business circles for a while. What marketing automation entails is a more organized process flow and easier integration with different business activities. But is it really so?

Marketing automation is expected to grow up to 50% in the upcoming year according to many resources, but the most prominent reports from 2013 were showing that 25% of Fortune 500 companies already adopted marketing automation, as seen in this report from ClickZ. Also notable in this report is that the marketing automation tools were mostly used for basic functions, like visitor tracking and content creation, and much less for lead nurturing.

These trends have most definitely changed, with more focus being put on lead nurturing and conversion follow-ups than before. According to this great infographic from Salesforce’s very own Pardot marketing automation tool, only 23% of interviewed sales teams would say marketing efforts bring in a steady flow of sales lead. This is a startlingly low number, but fear not – with marketing automation, these numbers can gradually increase.

What do you get from Marketing Automation?

First of all, Marketing Automation is a great way to tighten your marketing and sales cycles and deliver higher number of qualified leads. This will, in return, help with higher sales closures and increase in revenue. (This is probably the one thing that gets the CEO’s interested in this kind of investment.)

According to some research, there are slight but constant rises of productivity, both in sales and in marketing. Even though the improvements are not to be clearly felt in the first 6 months of the implementation, seems like ‘slow and steady wins the race’ rule applies here.

Is the marketing automation strategy fool proof?

On the contrary, marketing automation field is wide and full of trenches. If you don’t have a solid foundation – your investment will very likely be in vain. According to this great summary from HubSpot, many companies tend to get overly excited about the prospect of generating more leads and tend to expect too much from their tool. They, in fact, focus on just one piece of the funnel and same as with every process – if you focus on one piece of the puzzle, you will not see the big picture or in the end have good results. Unfortunate fact is that many marketing automation related investments fail and can even hurt your efforts instead of helping you achieve your goals.

What can you do to make sure you’re not wasting funds?

If you’re considering taking the step of implementing a marketing automation tool, it’s best to make sure you have the basics covered. Ask yourself: is your base healthy enough? Is your database stable and clean enough? Is you prospect behaviour defined?

If you can’t or don’t know how to answer the above questions, my advice is to get an advisor into the picture. Cox eLearning Consultants can definitely help you make better decisions according to your current situation, goals and budgets. Even reading up on real user experiences, like on CollectMyThoughts, can go a long way.

So are you betting on the right horse?

Marketing automation has a bright future, and the chances are that it will become the new standard for businesses of all sizes in a couple of years. But if you’re not sure if your base is stable enough for this kind of effort, it’s better to refocus the energy on generating stronger foundations before making any investments. Marketing automation can turn out to be a great investment but can also come back to bite you.

 

5 Inbound Marketing Activities Every Small Business Should Be Doing

Inbound marketing is a critical component of marketing. Creating and distributing interesting and valuable content through a variety of online channels, and becoming active in online communities, are essential for all companies today and are proving to be very cost effective for small businesses. If you don’t have an inbound marketing strategy yet, I encourage you to do so immediately. Here are 5 simple marketing activities every business should be doing to generate leads and build their brand.

  • Start a Blog

Not only can a blog help with search engine optimization and to drive more traffic to your website, it can also provide your visitors with thought leadership and turn your readers into leads.

  • Social Media

Ask open-ended questions and start a conversation. Inbound marketing takes advantage of social media by inviting people to respond. You can then take the information you’ve gathered and convert it to content such as a blog posting.

  • SEO and Keyword Optimization

You’ve heard “content is king” but so is keyword optimization. Researching, analyzing, and selecting the right words and phrases to drive qualified traffic from search-engines to your website is a vital part of your inbound marketing strategy.

  • Provide valuable information and hold it ransom

By providing valuable information and answers to burning questions or common challenges your audience faces then holding it ransom in exchange for contact information such as an email address is a great way to not only build your opt-in list but also to judge who is interested in your content or website. Some good examples are white papers, tips sheets, ebooks, training videos and assessments.

  • Form Fills

Be sure to include frequent, easy-to-find form fills on your website for a prospect to submit their contact information and ask questions.

Keep in mind that it is not your prospects responsibility to stay in touch with you but rather the other way around. With inbound marketing, every blog post is not only a chance to capture new leads but also to nurture existing leads; and every tweet or status is an invitation to start a conversation that builds your brand and may lead to your next piece of business. Inbound marketing is the perfect opportunity to stay in contact with your prospects, and is something you should start taking advantage of today.

If you want more information on inbound marketing tactics and strategies, contact the experts at Cox eLearning Consultants to see how you can get started implementing an inbound strategy.

Create a Coordinated Marketing Plan

The best way to market your company is by using multiple methods. There are a lot of free and paid ways to market your business and through a coordinated approach you can get great results for your company. Some things you can include in your marketing plan include:

  • Start a blog

This establishes you as an expert and is a free way to promote your brand. It gives you a platform to put your point of view out there regarding your industry.

  • Keep your website updated and relevant

Your website is such an important tool in representing your brand to the marketplace. Make sure you optimize the impact you can make by keeping it current and relevant to what your customers are searching for.

  • Use social media

Keep your links updated and find great ways to get your customers directed to your pages. Something offered through CollectMyThoughts (CMT) sponsorship is a direct link   to your social media pages through one click. The website attracts buyers looking for a HR or Training solution and they can get to your company information through one click. You can also put links to your social media pages right in your signature line that you use in your email communication. Every email you send will put that customer one click away from more information about your product.

    • Directly reach out to prospective customers

Nothing really replaces reaching out directly to your customer base and finding buyers looking for your solution. If you do not have the internal resources to cold call, you can use telesales providers like Cox eLearning Consultants to get you results.

      • Create strategic partnerships

Partnering with other companies in your industry that are trying to reach your customer base makes a lot of sense for you and them.

Many companies get tunnel vision and get focused on using a particular method to market their company. The most effective plans include a variety of different ways to reach those customers you are trying to connect with. Using multiple methods to market your brand will get you the best results and allow you to optimize sales for your company!