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Most marketers know the value that social media can bring to the business and website they’ve created.

With over 3.5 billion daily users on social media, you already know your target audience is on there talking about their experiences and discussing their favorite products. It’s also become a popular way of handling customer service issues and speaking directly with brands.

Now more than ever, customers and businesses are communicating one-on-one and using social media to do so.

An ever-growing method used by brands and customers to connect is through YouTube, which has sparked a rise in video marketing to appeal to different audiences. The platform boasts more than 1.9 billion logged-in users each month and those numbers continue to rise along with its popularity.

With all that traffic, your business is sure to find its target market and use its products and services to appeal to their interests.

Let’s take a look at three YouTube marketing trends you need to consider for your business this year.

1. YouTube Live

Over the past few years, live stream has taken social media by storm. Facebook revealed on its blog that people are three times more likely to watch a live stream on the platform than a regular video because events happening at the moment are infinitely more interesting than videos from the past. Events happening in the present intrigue people because they get to see something happening in real-time.

With YouTube Live, YouTube’s very own live streaming platform, YouTubers can now launch live streams where their audience can view them in real-time. Viewers engage with live video eight times longer compared to regular video, boosting your channel’s engagement rates and driving traffic to your content.

You can use YouTube Live to broadcast a Q&A session, showcase your products and services, introduce an influencer, and much more.

Image Source

According to Google, who owns YouTube, there are three ways to get set up with YouTube Live:

  • Webcam: Immediately start streaming via your laptop or desktop.
  • Mobile: Stream live through your phone but you must already have 1000 subscribers to use this feature.
  • Encoder streaming: Best for more complicated settings like multiple cameras and bigger production.

To go live, you need to make sure your YouTube channel is at least 24 hours old. You’ll have to verify your account first:

Once you’ve done that, add information about your stream so your audience knows what to expect.

Then, review your stream options:

Once you click Start Streaming, you’re ready to go live in front of your audience.

2. 360-degree videos

The second YouTube marketing trend I’d like to cover is 360-degree video. Who doesn’t love going in-depth with content and experiencing it in a way they haven’t before? With 360-degree videos, users can use their mouse to click on a video and place the screen in the perspective they want it. The video continues playing even as users move the content around on the screen and interact with it.

360-degree videos provide users with a virtual reality experience they can enjoy from their laptop or mobile phones. Brands can use this feature to give a full look at different aspects of their business or to show products and services in ways they previously haven’t. Users can now explore a brand’s content and choose to look from whatever perspective they prefer.

Journey To The Edge Of Space (360 Video) - YouTube
Because it doesn’t require a headset or special eyewear, this feature is available to a much wider audience and accommodates a larger group of people. Its usability makes it easier for brands to see a boost in their views, likes, and overall engagement. 3. How-to tutorials

Have you ever typed a question in Google and gotten both text and video results only to click on the video to find a solution? Many users find that when searching for answers, they gravitate towards video tutorials that teach them how to do something or talk extensively about how to solve a problem.

According to Google, 67 percent of millennials agree that they can find a YouTube video on anything they want to learn. The platform’s vast, ever-growing mountain of content continues to grow day in and day out. Every minute, up to 400 hours of video are uploaded into its database, with how-to videos remaining a popular genre to consume.

The idea of tutorials on YouTube is not new; for years, people have been uploading videos teaching users how to apply makeup, change a car tire, or make a delicious recipe. However, over the years, this method has made all the difference for businesses trying to elevate their brand and sell their products.

With how-to videos, users get a first-hand look at how brands can get rid of their problems and simplify their lives. This reduces the amount of customer service complaints that brands have to deal with because their audience’s questions and concerns are already being answered through video.

Apple uses its YouTube channel to market new products and gives customers a look at how to use its newest, most upcoming features:

Guided Tour — iPhone XS and iPhone XR — Apple - YouTube
Doing so removes most confusion their customers may have about new products as they launch. Buying expensive electronics is no light matter, but when you have representatives for a business explaining how to use those products, there’s a higher chance your audience will be persuaded to buy and will move down the sales funnel.

For all of these reasons, I can’t see this YouTube marketing trend slowing down in popularity any time soon.

Final takeaway

YouTube is a platform you don’t want to neglect if you plan on strategizing your business for higher conversions and engagement rates. Video is a fan favorite and people aren’t giving it up any time soon. By adding it to your marketing strategy, you’re ensured a better chance of achieving your goals and reaching success.

Consider using 360-degree video as a new way to get your audience to interact with your content. Try out YouTube Live and see what kind of results you get with live streaming. Finally, take advantage of tutorials and how-to videos as they’re a preferred way for users to get the information they need.

Guest author: Syed Balkhi is the founder of WPBeginner, the largest free WordPress resource site. With over 10 years of experience, he’s the leading WordPress expert in the industry. You can learn more about Syed and his portfolio of companies by following him on his social media networks.

The post 3 Major YouTube Marketing Trends You Need to Know in 2019 appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Auditing isn’t just a term you should get concerned about hearing during tax season; it’s a way to make sure your company is functioning properly, both internally and externally.

Successful businesses frequently conduct various types of business audits to locate their mistakes and weak spots, as well as to create crucial reports for current and future reference.

What’s interesting is that there aren’t just financial business audits to keep in line. If you want to indicate to shareholders and investors that your company is operating truthfully and efficiently, then you need to conduct regular audits. Here are the four different types of business audits you should conduct to keep your business healthy and happy.

1. SEO audit

SEO is an impossible beast to tame. Maybe that’s why, every year, companies spend more than $613 billion trying to improve their digital presence. With constant innovations, changes to search engine algorithms, and general website growth, it’s vital that you consistently check on your strategies to make sure you’re getting the optimal results. The best way to do that? Conduct an SEO audit.

Before beginning your audit, understand that these take multiple days – sometimes weeks – to complete. You’ll check for big problems that prevent your site from gaining visitors, as well as problems with your organic search traffic, backlinks, and content. Fortunately, you don’t have to do all that work on your own – there are SEO site audit tools that can do the heavy lifting for you. Services like SEOMATER, Zadroweb, and SEOptimer allow you to pull an analysis report and identify your errors quickly.

Image Source: Zadroweb

Although you might think your website is easy to use and your content is valuable, a comprehensive look into your SEO results might determine otherwise. That’s a good thing! A technical audit helps point out the areas where things can be fixed, improved, and made clearer. This practically guarantees better search engine indexing. Plus, you’ll learn more about what your online users actually want from your business.

This audit isn’t one you’ll want to conduct every few years. Google makes at least 500 changes to its search engine algorithm every year, which means that your SEO strategy needs to constantly adapt to fit the new trends. Schedule an annual (or semi-annual) SEO audit to ensure you’re keeping up with the latest changes.

2. Website audits for better UX

Your website is the online face of your business. If it’s broken, unappealing, or hard-to-navigate, then customers will quickly lose faith in your company altogether. That’s why regular website audits are essential – you need to determine where the site’s weak points are and how you can fix them.

A website audit is a multi-layered process that dives into everything from data analytics to performance enhancements. Not only will it point out the problems with your business website, but it will also dig deeper to find the core issues at the heart of your UX. This business audit does this by collecting information on your target audience, your competitors’ websites, and of course, your own website.

Besides identifying broken links and out-of-date features, one of the main things a website audit will do is determine if your platform is optimized for mobile devices. Quartz has reported that about 80 percent of internet access will be on mobile phones by the end of 2019, which means it’s more pressing than ever before for websites to be mobile-friendly.

Image Source: Stone Temple

Improving your website’s interface and usability can assist dramatically with your digital business transformation, and in turn, increase conversion rates significantly. Identify your pitfalls with an audit today to prevent your site from suffering in the future, especially as technology trends continue to evolve.

3. Operational audit

Let’s step away from your website and online traffic to talk about the efficiency of your team.

An operational business audit can give you a clear picture of how your organization works, where your productivity is lagging, and how you can continue to improve. Through a series of in-depth reviews, the process will determine what your companies’ team members need to achieve their tasks and future goals.

Operational audits aren’t just conducted to see if everyone’s pulling their weight or where you can cut employees. In reality, these audits are more commonly used to figure out where your company is failing to be efficient and effective. If you can’t find these weaknesses, you can’t put an end to them before they drive down your sales and cause serious problems.

Think of an operational audit as a series of performance improvement plans – rather than something negative. As you discover where the problems lie within your company, you can come up with plans to speed up productivity and resolve outstanding issues. This will lead to healthier processes and happier employees in the long-run.

One of the biggest inefficiencies in companies is often a poor use of technology. As mentioned earlier, mobile is becoming an increasingly important aspect of any company’s technology, and employees who believe their workplace effectively uses mobile tech are actually more creative, satisfied, and productive. Additionally, most companies benefit from using project management software and other tools to engage employees and increase productivity.

With the help of an operational audit, your company can determine if it’s adopting the right digital tools for its industry and procedures. Evaluate your current systems to make sure they’re a good fit, and if they’re not, determine how other organizational changes could contribute to improved efficiency.

4. Compliance audits

The last business audit we have to talk about is arguably the least “fun” – but also the most important. Compliance audits conduct an intense look at a company’s adherence to guidelines, both within legal matters and within their specific industry. An auditor will go through every security policy and regulation to ensure that your company is behaving as it should.

There are many aspects to an in-depth compliance audit. Everything from employee performance to IT procedures will be evaluated to determine any gray areas where there could be complications. Although this can certainly be a tedious, drawn-out procedure, compliance audits can save your business money by helping you avoid big fines and sanctions.

If your company is in violation of an important law or regulation, don’t you want to know? An audit like this could save you from embarrassment and loss, so reduce your risk by conducting one annually. That way, you can make improvements before you’re potentially fined or otherwise punished.

Keep in mind that your compliance audit report will eventually be released publically by your auditors. Information such as your company’s level of adherence to regulations and violations may be exposed, but at least you’ll have the opportunity to nip problems in the bud before things get really serious.

To sum it all up

Auditing shouldn’t just be a part of your business taxes. Any successful business continually tries to find problems and fix them before they can impact their sales and public image – you should, too. Use these four business audits to cover all of your bases and maximize your company’s potential. The sooner you can identify issues; the sooner you can develop great solutions.

Guest author: Manish Dudharejia is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc, a San Diego Based Digital Agency that specializes in Website Design & Development and eCommerce SEO. With over 10 years of experience in the Technology and Digital Marketing industry, Manish is passionate about helping online businesses to take their branding to the next level.

The post The 4 Types of Business Audits You Need to Conduct for Survival appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Ready to launch a new product? You’ve already done the hard work, now all you have to do is put it out there, right?

Well, not exactly.

The truth is, knowing how to launch your product may be the hardest part of all.

Where you launch it and how you market it can be the difference between utter disappointment and raging success. Today we’re sharing 5 proven viral marketing techniques to 10x your product launch effectiveness.

We’ll skip the obvious tactics like focusing on content marketing and social media marketing. Instead, we’re going to focus on actionable viral marketing tactics that will help you reach your target market as fast as possible.

1. Exponentially scale brand awareness with viral referral campaigns

Long before the days of digital marketing, companies relied on good old fashioned word of mouth marketing as a way to get new customers to use their product.

If an existing customer liked a product, they would spread kind words about it, encouraging new customers to try it out.

Viral referral campaigns operate under that same basic premise. However, they go one step further by enticing the existing customer with an incentive to spread the word and bring new customers to the table.

DropBox, Uber, Lyft, and Robinhood are prime examples of these viral campaigns. Those companies grew exponentially by offering perks to users to refer friends to sign up.

  • Uber offered a free ride to anyone who could get another rider to sign up.
  • DropBox offered more free storage if you referred a friend to sign up for an account.
  • Robinhood, well they went about it a whole different way.

Robinhood had a million users on board before they even launched.

First, they invited potential users to access its private beta. From there, users were granted access to a landing page where opting-in meant all you had to do was enter your email address.

Subsequently, that put people on a waiting list to gain access to the service. The more those people shared the invitation with other users, the higher they climbed on the waiting list.

If you have a useful product, people will want to use it. Give them a reason to share your product with their friends on social networks and they will.

To pre-launch your product with a referral program, Viral Loops has an effective tool that you can use (and it’s directly inspired by the Robinhood success story).

2. Develop an affiliate program for maximum revenue

If you’re willing to give up a percentage of each sale, you can get bloggers to promote your product to your target audience for you. Affiliate programs, such as Share a Sale and Impact, let you launch a program where bloggers can earn a small commission for every sale they help generate.

Affiliate marketing is an easy way to draw traffic to your site and get new customers to make a purchase.

But there’s one thing to consider before signing up: profitability.

Before venturing into affiliate marketing, calculate how much profit you’ll make with each sale. Make sure that the commission you offer is less than the profit you’ll earn from the sale. Otherwise, a sale could end up costing you money instead of making money for you.

3. Skyrocket visibility with a successful Product Hunt launch

When it comes time to launch your product, it’s best to promote it to everyone you know. Product Hunt makes that easy to do.

You can scrape the email addresses of your LinkedIn connections and email everyone you know to ask them to check out your new product on Product Hunt. You can also reach out to people who follow Product Hunt on Twitter and ask them to check out your Product Hunt Launch.

The snippet is taken from the email that we sent out during Junto’s Product Hunt launch.

Product Hunt was a huge success for Junto’s launch.

At the time, we were seeing ~4 website visitors per day. Our team was featured on Product Hunt on a Saturday morning in late 2016. That weekend, we saw 1,823 website visitors, 15 of whom requested a marketing consultation with us.

4. Poach dozens of your competitors’ customers (in under an hour)

One of the best ways to find new customers is to target customers that use similar services and figure out a way to poach them from the competition.

There are a few ways you can do this.

Start by visiting a competitor’s Twitter page and pull up their list of followers. In Chrome, you can use a tool such as Link Klipper to export a full list of those followers.

You can also use the process that we outlined in our Twitter Leapfrog Method to craft customized Tweets to select individuals. You can then offer those individuals exclusive deals to try out your product before anyone else.

5. Drive sales with external product reviews

External product reviews can drive sales exponentially, but it’s going to take some work to get those reviews.

One way to do this is to offer free products or payment to bloggers in your industry.

Look for bloggers that have a history of writing honest reviews in exchange for products like yours. To do this successfully, you first have to identify those bloggers.

Type the following into Google:

OR

This search will pull up a massive list of websites that have written reviews about your competitors. However, you’ll need to sift through those results to find the most relevant ones.

Once you’ve identified the bloggers you want to connect with, send them a note asking if they would consider writing a review about your product.

What makes this approach so important is that many of the bloggers who try your product will end up linking back to your website in their review, which will help you to rank higher in search engines when your most likely customers search for you.

NOTE: If you agree to payment, free products, or compensation, make sure the bloggers link back to your site with a “nofollow” link as opposed to a “dofollow” link.

Google has strict standards on any form of payment that results in a dofollow link. A nofollow link will still help your site and will protect you from a potential Google penalty.

Wrapping up

How you handle viral marketing campaigns can make all the difference. With these tips and tricks, you can improve your product launch by 10x or more.

Scale product visibility with viral referral campaigns the way Uber, DropBox, Robinhood, and Lyft have.

Develop an affiliate program so that bloggers can promote products for you.

Pre-launch your product on Product Hunt and promote it to everyone you know.

Find customers from your competitors by using a tool like Link Klipper to export a list of your competitors’ Twitter followers.

Last but not least, offer free products or payment to bloggers to provide you with external product reviews.

There’s no point in launching an amazing new product if you don’t know how to market it. But if you employ one or more of these viral marketing techniques, your product launch might be the next big success story.

Interested in hearing more digital marketing secrets? Join the Junto email list for monthly updates on our favorite proven tactics.

Guest author: Pat Ahern is a digital marketing expert who drives results through creativity and innovative thinking. He is a Partner @ Junto.

The post 10x Your Product Launch Effectiveness With These 5 Proven Viral Marketing Techniques appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Video marketing helps you generate more high-quality traffic, increase brand visibility, and credibility.

In fact, 84% of marketers reported that videos helped them increase the traffic to their websites. Naturally, marketers are trying to leverage the power of videos and the potential that video marketing carries.

YouTube is an amazing platform to post and distribute high-quality content that can do wonders for your brand. The platform has more than 30 million daily active users and 1.9 billion monthly active users. 300 videos are uploaded to this platform every minute.

So, you can imagine how challenging it can be to stand out among others and get the attention of your audience. One of the best ways to do this is to collaborate with popular YouTube influencers in your niche.

There are many ways you can leverage YouTube influencer marketing to boost your sales. Here are three of the most effective ones.

1. Get influencers to create tutorial, how-to, or demo videos

Videos are super effective tools for communication. So, leverage them to educate your audience about how your services or products can impact their lives. To do this, you can collaborate with YouTube influencers and ask them to create tutorial videos of your products or services.

Tutorial or how-to videos can help your target audience gain a better understanding of your services or products. 94% of marketers have reported that video marketing has helped their users understand their services or products better. As a result, such videos can provide your prospects with the confidence they need to purchase your products or services.

YouTube tutorials or how-to videos are one of the best ways to explain the functions of your products effectively. So, you can ask YouTube influencers to explain the features and benefits of your products in their videos. This can motivate your target audience to make a purchase.

However, make sure to team up with influencers who are experts in your niche and have a good engagement rate. It will help you increase credibility, win the trust of your audience, and gain visibility in front of the right people.

For instance, popular American brand, Segway, used this strategy to boost the sales of their personal transporters. They collaborated with YouTuber, Lewis Hilsenteger, of Unbox Therapy. Their objective was to promote their new product, the Segway miniPRO.

So, Lewis created a video in which he spoke and demonstrated the various functions of the product. The video received 2.68 million views and managed to gain the attention of tech enthusiastic viewers.

Riding The New Segway miniPRO - YouTube

2. Ask influencers to create testimonials and reviews

The competition in the market is fierce and so, it’s quite difficult to win the trust of your audience. Especially, if you are into self-promotion and self-praise. Rather than you talking about your own products, it’s better to share reviews of your products from real users as a part of your promotional strategy.

So, collaborate with YouTube influencers who have used your products and are ready to share their honest opinions.

Did you know that social media influencers are the most trusted source that governs what consumers shop for? In fact, 33% of people trust the recommendations of social media influencers while shopping.

You simply cannot push your target audience to purchase your products or services, even if they are the best in the market. Your potential customers will still be cynical about investing their hard-earned money in them. They might have their own doubts about the performance and quality of your services or products.

And so, it makes sense to team up with YouTube influencers and ask them to share their honest feedback. This can help you generate more sales and gain the trust of your target audience. Why? Because the recommendations and feedback from influencers are considered, to be honest, unbiased, and authentic.

In addition to this, feedback from influencers can also help you increase your brand’s credibility and build awareness. So, share your product samples with YouTube influencers from your niche and ask them to create review videos about your products. Authentic feedback and opinions can inspire your potential customers to make a purchase.

For example, with 72K subscribers, Samantha Jane is a Canadian beauty influencer from Toronto. She creates videos and shares feedback on the latest beauty and makeup products. She also talks about her shopping hauls and provides beauty tips on her YouTube channel.

Maybelline Inti-Matte Lipstick Swatches and Review! | samantha jane - YouTube
In the video above, she reviewed Maybelline’s new Inti-Matte lipsticks and shared her opinions about the product. The video managed to receive more than 83K views.

3. Get influencers to create unboxing videos

Unboxing videos are one of the best ways to create excitement among your potential customers about your products. So, you can team up with relevant YouTube influencers from your niche and ask them to create unboxing videos.

Such videos are a great way to launch or introduce your new products. Unboxing videos can help you get the attention of your potential customers. That’s because they are engaging and fun to watch. Also, influencers share their genuine reactions with their followers in these videos.

This can encourage their followers to purchase your products. Unboxing videos can also help you increase your brand’s visibility and boost the engagement rate.

Big brands like Apple has also leveraged this strategy to boost their sales. They collaborated with tech geek and YouTuber, Marques Brownlee. He has 8.2 million subscribers on his YouTube channel.

In this video, he unboxed the new Apple iPhone X and shared his thoughts about the phone. In the video, he talked about all the new features of the phone. The video managed to gain more than 13 million views.

Apple iPhone X Unboxing! - YouTube

Final thoughts

YouTube influencers allow you to benefit from two of the most powerful forms of marketing – video marketing and influencer marketing. So, find influencers who are relevant to your niche and can help you get the attention of your potential customers. Also, ensure that your influencers have the ability to create authentic and engaging content for your brand.

You can collaborate with influencers and ask them to share their honest feedback about your products with their followers. Their authentic voices can influence the purchase decisions of your target audience. You can also ask them to create tutorial videos for your potential customers. These can help your target audience make quicker purchase decisions.

Do you know of any other strategies to leverage YouTube influencer marketing to increase sales? Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Guest author: Brian Mechem is COO and Co-Founder of Grin, a software solution for companies who run influencer marketing programs. Grin’s software powers some of the best influencer programs in the world, providing insights on ROI and adding efficiency to the influencer marketing process. Follow Grin on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and YouTube

The post How to Leverage YouTube Influencer Marketing to Increase Sales appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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Do you want to effectively pivot your marketing tactics based on incoming data?

What about getting visibility inside and outside the department into what marketing’s working on?

Or how about figuring out what’s messing up your process before it’s caused you to miss every single deadline this quarter?

If any or all of those are appealing, I have good news: the path to achieving all of those is paved with the exact same substance, namely Agile marketing. The second annual State of Agile Marketing Report from AgileSherpas and CoSchedule found that these are the top three benefits cited by Agile marketing teams.

The bad news? It’s a lot easier to get Agile wrong than it is to get it right.

I spend my days training marketing teams on how to translate Agile principles and practices to work in our unique world, so I’ve seen my share of missteps. In the hope of saving you some of this pain, here are the seven most common Agile marketing mistakes and how to avoid them.

Agile marketing mistake #1: Organizing around projects

You can hold daily standup meetings religiously, visualize your work meticulously, and otherwise follow Agile practices to the letter, but if marketers are sitting on a dozen different project teams none of it will make a whit of difference.

Rather than rearrange people to suit different types of project work, flow projects onto the teams best suited to handle them.

I recently coached a team who had heard me say this a dozen times, and they theoretically agreed with what I was saying.

But once we sat down and mapped out their current team obligations and compared that to how things would look in an Agile world, the light bulbs went off all over the place.

This marketing group supports multiple software products being sold around the world, plus they’re responsible for putting on global and regional events. Pre-Agile, every person on the team was flitting back and forth amongst 6-60 of these different obligations on a daily basis.

As you can imagine, it was taking FOREVER to get anything done.

Instead, we created four Agile teams who would focus on particular global regions. Whatever marketing work related to the products and events that matter to those parts of the world would be worked on by the team responsible for that region.

In this modified version of the Spotify model you can see another way of looking at it. Here teams are organized by stage of the funnel.

However you choose to arrange your people, the important thing is to get out of multi-project purgatory and let groups focus on certain kinds of work.

Flow work to the right people; don’t force people to chase dozens of different projects.

Agile marketing mistake #2: Not aligning around strategic objectives

Agile is often closely associated with speed and efficiency, and that’s absolutely true. Our Agile Marketing Report shows that 36% of Agile marketing teams enjoy a faster time to get things released.

But without good alignment around strategic marketing outcomes, you’re just spinning the hamster wheel faster.

Ensure marketing leadership is creating (and communicating) marketing’s annual and quarterly objectives. Teams need to be confident that their daily work aligns to larger priorities.

And once those priorities have been established, don’t change them on a whim.

There’s nothing worse than coming up with a great project to support the new initiative and getting really pumped about it, only to discover that it’s been arbitrarily de-prioritized.

Support your Agile teams by clearly stating and sticking to big-picture goals.

Agile marketing mistake #3: Being rigid in your choice of framework

I often compare Agile marketing frameworks to flavors of ice cream:

Everybody has a preference, but in reality, one isn’t quantitatively better than the other.

The same goes for Agile frameworks in marketing. Most people have heard of Scrum; it’s nearly ubiquitous inside of software and IT. But being well known doesn’t make it perfect.

In fact, marketing teams get the most benefit from using a hybrid framework:

If Agile frameworks are like flavors of ice cream, marketers should be buying Neapolitan. We benefit from a broad spectrum of practices, so don’t limit yourself to a rigid implementation.

Agile marketing mistake #4: Assuming Agile marketing means all or nothing

If a department-wide reorganization is out of the question, and everyone works on a dozen projects simultaneously, does that mean Agile marketing is out of your reach? Definitely not.

You can begin by piloting Agile within a subset of the department, documenting their journey, and using it to inform a wider rollout.

If even that seems like a stretch, individuals can benefit enormously from using Agile practices in their own day to day work. In my content marketing days, I had a personal kanban board next to my desk, and I used it to navigate “urgent” incoming requests by showing everyone what I was already working on.

It’s amazing how visibility can turn “I need this yesterday! Drop everything you’re doing!” into “Oh, wow, ya…you’re really busy…and I need that other thing you’re working on. I can wait until you have time.”

Adopting Agile in an incremental, agile fashion is often just as effective as going all in.

Agile marketing mistake #5: Not insisting on limited work-in-progress (WIP)

One of the most paradoxical parts of Agile is its insistence that working on fewer things will let you get more done, but it’s a highly documented fact.

Limit the number of things you’re doing at the same time, and everything you work on will get done faster.

The big time suck here is what’s known as context switching, or the mental tax we pay every time we jump from one task to another.

Iterative frameworks like Scrum limit a team’s work in progress (WIP) by forcing them to confine their to-do list to a limited time box (known as the Sprint).

Flow-based frameworks like Kanban create ceilings on how many individual items can be in progress inside the team’s workflow, achieving a similar result.

However you choose to do it, don’t assume that you can dabble in Agile and get its benefits without somehow limiting your work in progress.

Agile marketing mistake #6: Dropping meetings without understanding them

I know just a few paragraphs ago I was telling you not to be overly rigid in your Agile adoption, but you also shouldn’t throw the proverbial baby out with the bathwater.

If, for instance, your daily standup meetings feel overwhelming and unhelpful, don’t automatically assume it’s the meeting that’s the problem and stop having it.

Instead, consider WHY we have daily standup meetings in the first place, and if the way you’re managing this meeting is true to that core objective.

Are you spending all your time problem-solving? Do outside stakeholders butt in and make the meeting go long? Are you *gasp* only meeting once a week?

Interrogate your process and see if it’s setting you up for success before you abandon a core Agile meeting.

Agile marketing mistake #7: Leaving BAU work out of the backlog

Ok, this last one is pretty in the weeds, but my Agile coach soul just wouldn’t let me leave it off the list.

When you’re building your backlog (the prioritized to-do list that guides an Agile team’s work), don’t succumb to the temptation to only document strategic project work.

You must – and I mean MUST – include all the work that the team’s committed to.

If you don’t, “dark work” will creep in and derail your work without you knowing.

This applies to all kinds of teams, both those using Kanban and those using Scrum.

If you don’t put everything out there, Agile marketers will go off and put out fires, respond to “urgent” emails, and get pulled into meetings day in and day out, and your efforts to adopt Agile practices will all be for naught.

Visualize all the team’s work, even if you know it’s an absurd amount. Only by putting it all out in the open can you hope to eventually avoid mistake #5 and not limit your work in progress.

Avoid Agile marketing mistakes with education

Agile software development has been around for a couple of decades now, which means there’s no excuse for marketers to repeat their mistakes.

Sure, marketing and development are drastically different professions, but marketers at least have some frameworks to build on; we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

Education remains the most commonly cited barrier to greater Agile marketing adoption, so get a running start and clear it by committing to ongoing learning. There are online courses, free webinars, tons of written content, and even a formal Agile marketing certification available to you.

No excuses – get out there and get educated so these mistakes won’t derail your Agile marketing adoption.

Guest author: An early convert to the ways of Agile marketing, Andrea loves nothing more than seeing a team evolve from a chaos to high performance. In addition to being trained as a Scrum Master and Product Owner, Andrea is a Certified Professional in Agile Coaching (ICP-ACC) and a Certified Agile Leader (CAL-1). She shares her findings (and failures) regularly from stages around the world as an international speaker on all things Agile marketing.

Andrea is a content marketer by trade and functions best when she’s writing regularly. Her most recent book, Death of a Marketer, chronicles marketing’s troubled past and charts a course to a more agile future for the profession. You can find more of her writing on the AgileSherpas blog.

The post The 7 Most Common Agile Marketing Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them) appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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The year 2019 introduced Marie Kondo and her famous KonMari Method of decluttering. Some call it phenomenal, but Kondo herself considers it as life-changing magic.

Made to be applied for just belongings, the KonMari method has been applied to personal lives, relationships, careers, and whatever aspect you need cleaning up. But what about in the digital world? The Internet is a vast space filled with content in all types, forms, and lengths that some aren’t even needed anyway.

But what if we apply the KonMari method to the content we see online? Then you don’t really need magic, you just need a content audit.

One gruesome task every digital marketer needs to face at one point in their content strategy is doing a content audit. If you’ve done content auditing a hundred times or are just starting to do one for your own website, read on to find out the step-by-step guide on how to do a content audit.

What is a content audit?

In technical terms, a website content audit is an inventory of all the indexable content you have on your website mostly in the form of written blogs. But if you have more diverse content like images, infographics, videos, and even audio then you can count that too.

Line up all your content, consider their individual performance to your overall analytics then compare it to your set KPI. Only then can you consider content that can be thrown away.

Why conduct a content audit?

Image Source: MarketingCharts

From the chart above, most respondents answered that website performance like fast streaming and quick page speed is the first thing users expect when loading a website. To achieve the optimal page load speed, you can optimize images and fonts, and minify your Javascript or CSS codes for faster loading time.

Next on the priority list is the content of the website. Users check if the posts are still relevant, fresh, and updated.

If you’ve had a website running for more than 5 years, maybe even less, but you post and produce blogs on the regular then you definitely need a content audit. This is to make sure that the content you’ve produced is all working and converting for you? It’s not about quantity, but the quality you put online that matters most.

With just a simple content audit report, you can:

  • Remove low-quality content;
  • Improve on the trust and quality of the output on your website;
  • Update the old and outdated content available on your website; and
  • Recognize content opportunities.

Be like Marie Kondo; put everything you own in your hands and ask if it sparks joy in your life. In the case of digital marketing and content, view all your content and see if it sparks interest and converts in your favor.

How to do a website content audit Step 1: Prepare a spreadsheet

Have an area where you can lay all of your belongings and asses them one by one. 

Love them or hate them, spreadsheets are the lifeblood of every content strategy. Lay all your data in that single spreadsheet. Just keep adding tabs for every set of data you will be putting and laying down.

Tip: Google Spreadsheets saves time, space, and effort. Use it well.

Step 2: Crawl and index your website

Gather all your belongings and categorize them, placing them in proper bins.

Time to gather up all your content! You can download all the data and pages on your own, but if you have a number of pages then you might as well call a friend to help. Don’t worry about all the pages, just include all the indexable content.

Tip: Have a column to place your URL, Page Title, Date Published, Content Type, and all the other information you deem useful in your decluttering process!

Step 3: Import your analytics and data

The process of elimination and discarding to see what is needed and not.

What is an audit without checking for performance? Here is how to do a content audit of your website and data you’ll be needing from Google Analytics:

  • Organic Traffic – to know how many people are visiting and browsing through your website.
  • Paid Traffic – if ever you’ve ever invested in PPC then you must include the result of the ads.
  • Bounce Rate – to help analyze what’s wrong with the page; it may be because of the page speed on your website or the content is just not that good.
  • Time on Page – if you’re a blog site and visitors only spend a matter of seconds then are they really reading your content? This is where you will find out if your content strategy is effective.
  • Unique Visitors – the more views and visitors you get on your website then the more chances of conversion or engagement with your users.
  • Pages Per Session – after the homepage where do they go next? Do they browse on the website? This tracks how far users explore and read more on the website.
  • New vs Returning Users – these are the two most significant users a website can get. Are you attracting new people? And is your website gaining a following with its content or services?
  • Traffic Sources – this is needed for you to know where your users are coming or redirecting from. Do they catch you on Facebook often? Or is Search really your strong suit?
  • Conversions – if you have a sign-up for a newsletter or an ‘add to cart’ on your website you need to measure if those call to actions are working and getting the results you want.
Step 4: Import backlink data

Gather everything you own, even the objects that mean the most.

Whether you’re actively doing outreach for your website or not, backlinks can be a big boost in credibility and your DA score.

Collect all the links, list them down in your spreadsheet, and review them one by one. Instead of asking “what sparks joy?”, ask what links are following the Golden Rule of E-A-T: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.

Step 5: Review and analyze your data

Ask yourself and your belongings, “Does this spark joy?” If yes, then keep it. If not, discard the object.

Time for the most important step! The data you’re looking at is just bare skin and bones, you need to bring life to your data with a content audit. Once you’ve gathered all your data, process it one by one and then collectively.

  • List your key takeaways from the analytics and data you’ve gathered.
  • Review the content you’ve been posting and ask these questions in place of ‘what sparks joy’:
  1. Is the content updated and still relevant?
  2. Is their significant traffic on the page?
  3. Is the content ranking on search engines?
  4. Are there significant shares on social media?
  • Weed through your backlinks and see if they give significant value to your website or not because they’re just dead weight at this point.

It’s alright to take time with this step. This is where you really learn how to do a content audit of your website because this is where you’re dissecting your content strategy of the whole website and all its pages.

Tip: Review it all manually. No amount of SEO or online tools can give you the exact answer you need to improve your strategy. Put on your thinking caps, this is a long process.

Step 6: Create a content audit report

Discard all the unnecessary and start arranging your kept belongings in its proper place.

As with all things, documentation is highly needed and very much recommended. Put your whole process in a presentation format and present all your data in a simplified manner.

An example flow would be: first, present the gathered data, second is show your elimination process, third is the end result, and so on and so forth. You need to put your whole content audit process into writing not just for formality, but for future reference when you do another audit in the years to come.

Touch things only once

In KonMari, once you’ve touched an object be sure to put it back where you got it right away. Once you place something down and leave it, you are obligated to touch it and clean up again.

Just like with a content audit, if you don’t want to keep doing this tedious process annually or at least regularly, make sure what you posting online fits the bill and won’t even need to be audited.

Guest author: Aby League is an environmental researcher with a Masters Degree in Biology. She is working as a freelance writer and researcher of all things that interest her like Technology, Online Banking and Shopping, Market Research, and Innovation.

The post How to Do a Content Audit That Will Reveal Hidden Gems On Your Website appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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What is data visualization? It’s more than the sum of its parts, but the standard definition is that it provides a way to view data to either draw conclusions or tell a story to someone.

Data visualization can help reveal trends, patterns, and exceptions. It can empower businesses to make more informed, longer-term decisions as well as communicate with customers and prospects more effectively. You’re likely familiar with heatmaps, infographics, bar charts, pie graphs and scatter plots – but it’s more than these, too. Here’s why data visualization is so useful in the marketing world.

Make discoveries about users and customers

If you want to reach people, you have to learn about them first. There are lots of ways to research your likely customers:

  • Dive into website analytics like highest-visited pages, bounce rates, and conversion ratios.
  • Track marketing campaign results over time in terms of social media followers gained, impressions made and traffic increased.
  • Perform keyword research and build a word cloud that shows you which search terms are trending and worth targeting.

Data visualization makes it much easier to dive into statistics like these and pick out correlations and developments you might’ve missed otherwise. Distilling raw data into useful visualizations also makes it easier to communicate with colleagues and decision-makers within your company about your findings, and for multiple teams to collaborate on shared goals.

Show off complex data

Image Source

If data visualization helps tell stories, you need to figure out what kind of data your story needs to really “land” and make the most significant impact.

The human brain processes images, some say, 60,000 times faster than it processes text. Let that be all the motivation you need. But if you need more, know that infographics, how-to guides, and videos – all highly visual content – consistently rank high on lists of the most shareable online content types.

The obvious place to start is by building visually appealing graphics which “dress up” the raw numbers describing the capabilities of your product or service and how its effectiveness, design, sustainability or performance compares to the competition – or to last year’s model.

Visualizing data can help customers and clients connect with you in other ways, too. Think beyond your product and reflect on what your company does exceptionally: how many people you employ, how many lives you touch or improve or how much of your earnings you give back to the community. Do you have a plan to go carbon-neutral or fossil-fuel-free? Or, perhaps you have created a strategy to redress your recruitment targeting for greater inclusivity?

Maybe you’ve got an infographic on your hands here – or, you could build a microsite that illustrates, in real time, how much clean power your solar installation is generating. There are many ways your company stands out – and lots of ways to build a visual story around the numbers. Tell and show the public and your customers about your journey – and prove through data why you do things the way you do, and how it adds value to your product lineup.

Solicit and digest feedback more easily

There’s another class of data you can visualize, too: direct customer feedback. This can come to you in many forms:

  • Conduct social media polls
  • Send surveys by email
  • Visualize common phrases and trends from reviews and feedback

When any of us take an online poll or fill out a survey, there’s something immensely satisfying about getting to the end and being able to immediately see the results. How did our responses stack up against other people’s? Data visualization can give your customers an even more rewarding experience and more immediate feedback. It tells them they’re contributing to making your products or services better – and that they’re helping you prioritize your company’s possible next steps.

As a consumer, think about how powerful it could be to get a walkthrough of the product development process with visual aids, and to see in imagery rather than text what the trade-off might look like between two different product features or designs.

In addition to the customer-centric benefits, the decision-makers within your company will have a way to clearly understand what customers want, straight from the source. Poring over customer relationship dashboards and pulling in social media analytics information can be tedious – but infographics and other visualization tools can make it easier to plot a course.

How to find out what kind of data is useful

Your company has lots of data types that would translate well to visualization, but you have to find and organize it first. For a start, that means categorizing and prioritizing data according to the source.

First-party data comes from:

  • Direct actions and interactions that occur on your website or apps
  • Data your customers voluntarily supply, such as geographical areas, household details, etc.
  • Data from social media analytics
  • Purchase and subscription information

Second-party data is similar, but it comes from a source other than your audience:

  • Third-party website analytics
  • Customer surveys
  • Other industry sources

Third-party data includes:

  • Data captured by outside sources and other parties
  • Data purchased on exchanges

The benefits of organizing and categorizing data from these and other channels, using a data management platform, are clear. The better-organized and higher-quality your data is, the more precision you have while targeting your audience. A heatmap of geographical distribution can help plan expansions, for example. Plus, you’ll be able to triangulate and visualize your audience’s demographics, interests, hobbies and passions – and channel that data into videos, images, infographics, and advertisements that speak directly to them and result in more conversions.

Image Source

Filtering your branding and company message through compelling data can help you create a powerful narrative. One of the more exceptional examples of putting data to work in storytelling comes from Whirlpool. The company sat down with an abundance of organized data and connected the dots until they saw an opportunity:

  • The company learned that every day, 4,000 minors drop out of school.
  • Those who leave school early are 40% more likely to be unemployed later in life and eight times more likely to go to prison.
  • One of the most frequently named reasons students drop out is that they don’t have the means to wash their clothes at home and don’t feel confident in their appearance.

As a result of their research, Whirlpool decided to seize the moment and install clothes washers and dryers in schools around the country. The company helped kids do thousands of loads of laundry in the first year.

This anecdote is an example of where data becomes the story – and brings real-world visibility, literally, to one potential solution to a largely unnoticed but socially consequential problem. Whirlpool sold a lot of washers and dryers in the bargain, of course, but the community got something back, too, including greater awareness of trends that had so far gone underreported.

Wrap

Data visualization lends context and specificity to your decisions, helps build a case for why the public should choose your brand over another and results in the design of world-class, eminently shareable content.

Guest author: From Pittsburgh, PA, Nathan Sykes is the founder of Finding an Outlet and writes about business and technology on sites such as BestTechie, Simple Programmer, and TechTalks.

The post Data Storytelling: The Power of Data Visualization in Marketing appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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More and more agencies admit to struggling with finding and closing new business. It seems as if every year, the challenge of discovering high-value prospects and turning them into marketing agency leads, grows exponentially.

Unfortunately, we can’t blame it on the size of the competition anymore. Although, I admit that’s often the first reason that comes to mind.

Most SEO agencies or digital marketing firms operate in markets filled with customers ready to part with their cash in return for marketing help, after all.

So, why does the challenge exist in the first place? From the stories our users tell – many of whom are digital agency owners, salespeople and other agency professionals – we’ve uncovered the reason.

It’s the lack of sufficient insights to evaluate opportunities each new lead offers.

The result? For one, targeting people who are too early in their buying process. And as a result, wasting time, effort and resources on deals that would never have come through anyway.

Let me illustrate this with an example.

Why we struggle to find marketing agency leads

I assume that it takes you up to two and a half hours to process a prospect fully, on average. It includes finding those people or companies out first. Then, researching, reaching out, connecting, engaging and everything else that’s involved in the process.

Simple math tells me that, to process just 15 prospects, you’d have to spend almost an entire work week!

Let’s assume further that you, on average, convert 5% prospects into leads. Since most agencies onboard one to three new clients a month, they’d need to process 60 leads a month to reach that number.

(Image from Hubspot’s 2019 State of the Agency Selling report)

But let’s be fair. My (crude, I admit it) calculations assumed that an agency knows very little about their prospects. I presumed that its founder, CEO, the salesperson or whoever else prospects for new business couldn’t tell what these people want. Or what their average budget and current business situation are.

What if they could? What if they knew even the basic information – average budget, their marketplace situation or the competition, for example? Well, I can tell you, it would reduce the time needed for processing by more than a half for a start. And that’s still a modest estimate, I should add.

To reach the same results as above, an agency would have to spend only half of a week per month for prospecting. Its staff could focus on other tasks and still meet an ideal growth quota.

Intrigued? Let’s explore this further.

How do agencies evaluate prospects?

Agency prospects and leads come from two sources, typically – Outbound and Inbound initiatives.

Inbound marketing agency leads are people who have inquired with an agency or engaged with it in another way. These people may have learned about the company from search, social media, referral or any other inbound channel. Intrigued, they’ve emailed, called or connected with the company.

Most agencies would process those leads manually. I’d imagine that many of them turn to LinkedIn, simply. They research the prospect and their company there. Some might also visit the prospect’s company website and conduct a quick online search before responding to the inquiry.

Outbound leads are people the agency has identified as potential business partners and reached out to directly. Again, many agency owners and salespeople would use LinkedIn for outbound prospecting, using the information on the social network as the selection criteria.

Unfortunately, neither of the methods deliver ideal results. Often they result with agencies targeting:

  • People or companies who do not need digital services.
  • False prospects, people who might need help with digital marketing but aren’t ready to engage in a sales conversation yet.
  • Prospects with insufficient budgets.

So, even if an agency does manage to engage those prospects, those people either wouldn’t see the value in hiring the agency or they would struggle with the agency’s price.

Does the above sound like an impossible situation?

Luckily, it’s not. What’s more, to overcome it, you just need to start prospecting with the right information at hand. For example:

  • Their market and the competition. Analyzing the marketplace will help prepare a cold call that targets the prospects exact situation.
  • Marketing spend and trends. A company that upped its marketing spend might also be ready to invest in digital marketing services.
  • Budget gap between channels. For example, analyzing PPC and SEO spend could help an SEO agency to identify the best prospects.

The only problem remaining is where to find that data… And we want to tell you about something truly amazing. It’s called SEMrush Oppty and here’s how it helps your agency grow.

Oppty helps you identify leads who need your marketing services. Using SEMrush’s proprietary data on your target audience, you can:

  • Focus your efforts on the most promising opportunities,
  • Tailor your outreach and offers to their current situation,
  • Make a strong first impression based on a deep understanding of their market.

All to increase your chances of winning their business.

Try it here.

Guest author: Tanya Vasileva is a Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush – a leading digital marketing toolkit for SEO, PPC SMM and content marketing professionals worldwide.  She writes about marketing, analyzes SEMrush data and interested in marketing strategy. 

The post The Powerful Secret to Getting Marketing Agency Leads appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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eLearning is booming, with no sign of slowing down…

People want access to information and learning on demand.

Not in a month’s time when the next conference is on or when the next corporate workshop is planned.

As a society we’re impatient – and if we need a new skill, we need it now, and we need it on our own terms.

eLearning is the Netflix of personal development, it’s the Uber of corporate training initiatives. People can choose their own pathway for development and take lessons all from the comfort of their home.

For businesses that provide eLearning solutions, the biggest opportunity lies with corporations where you can sell programs and software to hundreds or even thousands of employees at the same time. Rather than fighting for every single sale, you can focus on the big-ticket clients and truly scale up the profitability of your business.

In 2017, corporate training expenditure in the United States grew by 32.5%. Basically, organizations are investing more in learning and individuals are seeking better and more flexible access to learning. It’s the perfect intersection for B2B eLearning solutions.

But, how do you generate a consistent flow of B2B leads in the eLearning space without burning out your sales team?

The answer is Inbound Marketing.

Bonus #1: Download a detailed PDF checklist that contains the exact steps to take in order to carry out this lead generation process

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing is a term popularized by marketing software tool HubSpot. The general idea of this concept is that you attract people to your business by first providing value – predominantly through content – rather than bombarding them with outbound sales messages. Once you have a prospect’s attention, you then engage with them via marketing automation and lead nurturing tactics, before delighting them as a customer of your business. The concept is depicted visually below:

Instapage Founder and CEO Tyson Quick does a great job of summarizing Inbound Marketing in this video:

What is Inbound Marketing? - YouTube

Why use Inbound Marketing in the eLearning industry?

While Inbound Marketing is an effective lead generation strategy in many industries, it’s especially powerful in B2B environments, and even more acutely suited to the eLearning industry. Here are two reasons why:

Trust and credibility

Perhaps more than any other industry, eLearning is built on trust, credibility, and expertise – be it perceived or otherwise. Companies are putting the achievement of their employee’s goals, ambitions, and career aspirations in your hands. So you need to instill confidence in these people that you are the right company to facilitate this journey.

Given its foundation of helpful content production as a way of attracting leads, Inbound Marketing is custom-made to build trust with naturally skeptical people.

Think about it for a moment, are you more likely to buy something after seeing a banner ad for a business you have never heard of before, or from a business that has gone above and beyond to provide valuable content that has helped you achieve something? It’s a no-brainer.

Cost-effective

When compared to traditional forms of digital marketing, such as cold advertising, inbound is far more cost-effective. Instead of running cold ads to people who have never heard of your business previously, you can remarket to those that have consumed your content. There is already a base level of trust in this situation which reduces your ad spend.

As well, by creating content that is evergreen in nature, you build assets that will deliver you leads today, tomorrow, and next year. Evergreen content can be created once and continue working for your business well into the future as it accrues organic traffic from search engines and social media channels. You are investing in content assets, rather than spending money on ads that will stop running as soon as your budget dries up.

How to use Inbound Marketing to generate B2B leads on autopilot

When it comes to generating B2B leads on autopilot in the eLearning space, here is a 5-step process you can follow. The inspiration for this process has been drawn from the eLearning Industry’s Always-On Conversion Engine (ACE) methodology for Inbound Marketing.

Bonus #2: Watch this free video on how this process works in practice, with real-life case studies and results

Step 1 – Research

It’s tempting to jump straight into creating content aimlessly without any direction. Sure, it may feel like you’re doing something to progress your goals, but in reality, the wheels could be spinning on the spot.

To get the most from your Inbound Marketing efforts, you need to start by researching your ideal customers, competition, industry trends, search engine keywords, and opportunities for brand growth. Armed with the information from this research process, you can then create an editorial calendar of content ideas that align with your objectives.

Step 2 – Create

According to the Content Marketing Institute, producing engaging content is the biggest challenge for inbound marketers:

Basically, being successful with Inbound Marketing is not as easy as publishing a few blog articles and hoping for the best. Creating content is time-consuming and is far too easily pushed to one side by busy employees.

The thing is, you don’t have to publish every other day to get results from Inbound Marketing. In fact, most eLearning businesses won’t have the time, resources, or know-how to make this kind of content production happen. After all, you’re not a publishing business!

Instead, look at your inbound strategy as a project – at least to start with. Create 8-10 of the best articles you can, which are extremely relevant to the customer journey of your ideal prospects, and roll these articles up into an eBook which you can use for lead generation.

Step 3 – Promote

A fundamental mistake many would-be inbound marketers make is to focus all of their energy on creating content and neglect the distribution and promotion aspect of the process. One study found that as little as 15 cents of the dollar are spent on content promotion when compared to 85 cents that are spent on content creation. If you want to get serious with inbound, consider flipping this equation on its head.

Effective content promotion is about finding a community of your ideal prospects who are active online and developing a systematic and repeatable way to access those people when you publish content.

Step 4 – Convert

Put simply, if someone ‘converts’ on your website, they have taken the specific action you intended them to. This is usually an exchange of value. For example, they may give you their contact information in exchange for the eBook I discussed in Step 2.

Those that part ways with their contact information are now your leads because you have permission to communicate with them again in the future – ideally turning them into a customer.

Here is an example of a white paper being used in this way by eLearning Industry:

Step 5 – Close

The final step of this Inbound Marketing process is the close. It’s when you turn a warm lead into a paying customer. When it comes to eLearning, one of the highest-converting tactics is to run a webinar. It makes sense in this industry because a webinar is essentially a live preview of the product you are selling.

The beauty of hosting a webinar is that you can record the session, use the recorded version to nurture future leads, and generate sales on autopilot.

Here is an example of a webinar sponsored by eLearning Industry and presented by Jon Graves eLearning Industry’s VP of Sales and Brittni Kinney Ratliff, VP at Influence & Co.:

Want this process done for you by eLearning Industry? Find out more here.

Wrap

With the rapid growth being observed in the eLearning industry, the opportunity for fast customer acquisition is more prominent than ever.

However, with so much opportunity comes increased competition too. So you need to be smart about the foundations you lay for your lead generation objectives in the long-term.

Creating an Inbound Marketing engine that generates B2B leads on an ongoing basis without significant intervention makes a lot of sense. It’s cost-effective, and perhaps even more importantly, it reduces the trust gap between your business and its cold prospects.

The thing with inbound is that it takes time to bear fruit. So the sooner you start, the quicker you will see rewards.

What’s holding you back?

Want this process done for you by eLearning Industry? Find out more here.

The post The Proven Formula For Generating B2B Leads on Autopilot in the eLearning Industry appeared first on Jeffbullas's Blog.

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It used to be that as long as you wrote long-form, valuable content on a regular basis, you could do well at content marketing.

Unfortunately good content isn’t enough anymore.

The SERPs are getting more competitive, and the marketplace is turning into a winner-take-all battle to the death.

Here’s what the latest content marketing studies can teach us about ‘good’ content and why it’s no longer going to get you the results you want.

1. The battleground is overflowing

On average, four million blog posts are published daily. With so much competition, it’s becoming nearly impossible for your content to be seen.

There are millions to billions of search results for even the most absurd keywords on Google:

“Good” content isn’t enough to make your post the one-in-a-million (or billion) articles that earn a coveted spot on the first page in SERPs. After all, only the top ten make it onto page one. At most.

Back in 2015, Moz reported a significant spike in the number of SERPs showing fewer than ten results.

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And this trend hasn’t reversed.

But wait: does it matter if page one is only showing 5–7 results instead of the usual 10? If your article is ranking in position 8, you’re probably screaming, ‘Hell yeah!’

While, in reality, it’s not going to make much of a difference. Because over 95% of people click on one of the first five results:

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So, if you’ve been competing to get on the first page, you’ve been wasting your efforts. You need to be within the top 5 results. Which takes a lot more than just good content.

Optinmonster recently shared the ten most important SEO ranking factors for 2019.

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When looking at the list, it’s understandable if you start to feel a little excited about your chances. After all, the first three ranking factors (site security, page speed, and mobile friendliness) are all fairly easy to meet with little to no technical or SEO knowledge.

Unfortunately, it starts to go downhill from there. It’s nearly impossible to gain the links and social signals required to rank in the top positions on search results.

Research from Moz and Buzzsumo indicated that 75% of blog posts received zero links and fewer than ten shares.

And it’s only gotten worse over the last four years. Much worse.

Today, according to a study by Backlinko, 94% of all blog posts have zero external links. 94%!


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That means only 6% of the content being produced earns even a single backlink.

And your chances of getting multiple backlinks is even less likely. The same study shows that only 2.2% of posts earn backlinks from more than one external website.

Yet the top SERP spot holders have acquired thousands of links:

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Competition is fierce. And the newer your site is, the more you’re at a disadvantage.

No one is going to link to your post unless it’s the best of the best.

That means content that: is audience and intent driven, has compelling copy, and covers a wide variety of subjects.

Sure, these types of articles might have been good enough in the past. But these days, all the experts agree that anything surface level isn’t going to make the grade:

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It’s no wonder that bloggers are relying more and more on paid traffic and influencers to help them reach their audience.

According to research conducted by Orbit Media, the number of bloggers who pay for website traffic has increased by 322% in the last five years!

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These days, only the top 1% of 1% will ever show up in the top five SERPs.

And that’s not even the worst part…

2. Click-through rates are abysmal

We’ve already covered that 95% of click-throughs go to the first five results in SERPs. Which is bad enough. But just how closely did you look at that graph that I shared?

Let’s blow it up for easier viewing:

Over 30% of CTRs on a desktop go to just the first SERP result. And that rate gets cut roughly in half as soon as your article slips just one position. While things are mildly better on mobile devices, it’s still a shockingly steep curve.

By the time you’re in third place, you’re only getting a third of the click-throughs of first place.

At this point, you may be so depressed by the competitive SERP environment that you’re thinking about your other options. After all, SEO is far from the only way to get your content out there.

Maybe you’re willing to put your money into paid ads?

Well, that’s no guarantee that your content will be seen either. According to WordStream’s latest survey, the average AdWords CTR is 3.17% for search and 0.46% for display ads.

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Both these averages are higher than when the survey was first done in 2016. But the average cost per click has also gone up over that period. Which brings us back to the insanely competitive battleground.

You could opt for social media ads instead. But the competition is just as fierce there. Acquisio reports that the average CTR of a Facebook Ad ranges between 0.5%–1.6%.

What about email marketing?

This option is marginally better, with an industry average CTR of 7.06%, according to Constant Contact.

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But of course, you need to account for the insane reduction in potential reach. Since you’ve now gone from a SERP or social media audience in the 6–7 digits to a small mailing list. Even with the right lead magnets, your list is probably only in the 4–5 digits.

Wait, what about video content? Cisco reported that 82% of all internet traffic will be related to video content by 2021. And as a newer development, it should be less competitive, with better results, right?

Wrong.

Video marketing is already as saturated a market as blogging, if not more so. Companies are already dominating with video, and first to market advantage for it was lost years ago:

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People already watch a staggering hour or more of online video content every day. And video-based ads have skyrocketed by 95% in the last few years.

Andrew Chen coined a special name for this CTR problem: the Law of Shitty Clickthroughs.

Back in the early days, even mediocre content got noticed, because there was very little competition. Skip ahead to 2011 and CTRs had already dropped to alarmingly low levels.

Check out Andrew Chen’s display ad example:

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And as he predicted, CTRs have continued to decay.

3. The game is rigged

We’ve already talked about the fact that Google is reducing the number of SERPs on page one. But we didn’t talk about what those organic results are being replaced with.

Enter the Knowledge Graph.

The knowledge graph was created by Google to answer people’s questions without making them click on a result to find the answer.

In other words, you’re now competing with the house. And the house always wins.

A recent study conducted by Moz reports that 40% of search results now end without a single click.

Which means that 40% of people have got their answers straight from Google, without ever having to click through to your website or anyone else’s.

And that percentage will only continue to grow.

Back on Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Google started experimenting with zero-result SERPs where organic search results were entirely removed from a small number of keyword searches such as the one shown here about the time in Seattle:

The experiment was halted less than a week later. But it is still an important omen of what may come.

And we shouldn’t be surprised since this has been Google’s primary objective since Day 1.

Couple that with the fact that most people only read for 15 seconds on your content, leading to scroll maps and heat maps that look like this:

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All that hard work for almost zero real content consumption, and therefore, no brand awareness or development.

I’m not trying to suggest that SEO will disappear. Far from it. After all, Amazon and Voice search both equal SEO.

But we need to start looking at SEO and content in a new light. It’s no longer just text. And it’s no longer even static. Content is becoming more conversational, both through voice search and chatbots.

This is just yet another sign that SERPs have become winner-take-all markets. And ‘good’ content is not enough to survive. So what makes the cut? What is better than “good enough” in today’s market?

Let’s cover a few examples of how companies are standing out.

Check out this customer service resume article by Freshdesk. It covers multiple subsections and targeted keywords in the customer service space. This is a great start. Then, it delivers with detailed content and a free PDF to drive big-time on site and user satisfaction, all while building their brand:

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Want to produce better content? Stop settling for mediocrity. Drive value through depth, content upgrades, and understanding what the user wants to see.

Another stellar example is from SpyFu, a competitive analysis tool. In a blog post about SEO audits, a topic that has been covered more times than you can probably count without going crazy, they vastly improved their value. How? First, they added a table of contents for usability:

But that was just a minor step. Then, they took usability to the next level and created a video showcasing how to do it for visual learners and those that want to follow along:

Finally, they were responsive in the comments section answering any and every inquiry:

Want better results? You have to go the extra mile as SpyFu did. That means better-formatted content, more formats to consume it, and responding fast.

Conclusion

Content marketing can still provide significant results for your business. If it couldn’t, people wouldn’t still be..

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