Tips to increase inbound leads

wpid-curata__eb0b5ff031fbfea14c625c2a441907cbGrowing your inbound leads is necessary for a B2B business to be successful and profitable over time. Inbound lead generation refers to the process of creating ‘owned’ content on your website that attracts visitors and converts them into leads. Once you have leads, you can then nurture them into sales opportunities and close them over time.

So how do you increase your number of inbound leads? Here are our top tips.

Develop a buyer persona

If you don’t understand your audience, your marketing may end up completely off message. Connecting with your audience is key for increasing your number of inbound leads. The struggle most companies have with driving inbound leads is being able to deepen audience engagement. One way to get around this is by creating buyer personas. A buyer persona is a fictional representation of your client. It embodies their thoughts, feelings, and goals. This information is used as a guide for your team to better pinpoint who you’re trying to communicate with, paying special attention to what motivates them to buy.

Create more content

Having enough content is vital for your SEO (search engine optimization) efforts. Your content must be relevant to your audience and include keywords that will draw people in. If your content isn’t very good, your visitor bounce rate will be higher. The point of your website content is to drive people to your site, keep them there and convert them into leads. Having an active blog and creating a diverse variety of content will help drive more traffic to your website. By utilizing your buyer personas when brainstorming content topic ideas you will end up creating content that is of interest to your main customer base.

Promote your content

You’ve worked hard to create your content, so don’t neglect showing it off! Don’t let your blog posts sit idle on your site, waiting for someone to find them. Social media is highly effective in gaining visibility for your company. The more people who are aware of your company, the more leads you’re likely to snag. The more places and more often you share your content the more likely people will be to engage with that content. Don’t waste an opportunity by leaving your content unshared!

Improve your call-to-actions

Your call-to-action (CTA) is arguably one of the most important pieces to the puzzle when trying to generate inbound leads. This is the part that encourages people to act, rather than just observe. Make sure that the message of what you’re offering through your call-to-action is clear. Rather than simply saying “Download now”, be more specific and tell your audience exactly what benefits they would be gaining by downloading. Whether your call to action is on your website or in an email, use colors that contrast and make your CTA pop! You don’t want your message to be lost in the noise, so be sure to make it stand out. You should also include a call to action on every blog post and on the most relevant pages of your site to really drive it home.

Don’t become discouraged

Whatever you do, don’t become discouraged when chasing after inbound leads. Results will not happen overnight. The process takes time to build but as long as you create a solid foundation for attracting leads your hard work will ultimately pay off.

 

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

6 Ways to Avoid PR Blunders on Social Media

3-Lessons-To-Learn-From-Big-Brands-and-Their-Social-Media-MistakesNo matter how prepared you think you are, mistakes are bound to happen. As a business, you want to reduce the amount of negative attention you receive as much as possible.  

Whether you say something you regret in the heat of the moment or someone misinterprets your message, what you say can potentially lead you into hot water. PR blunders will happen, the important thing is how well you react to them.

To limit the amount of PR fires you are putting out, keep these tips in mind.

Be clever, not crude

In whatever message you are sending out, it’s important to remember your audience. Some companies, such as Wendy’s, have gone viral on social media by becoming known for their sarcastic responses to customers. Wendy’s has become successful in this strategy because they figured out a way to connect with millennials on Twitter in a playful, entertaining way. The secret behind Wendy’s Twitter success lies in the fact that they are clever with their responses and are in an industry where their behavior on Twitter is more acceptable. Keep in mind that this strategy has to be used very carefully as it can quickly become offensive or insulting. There is a fine line between being clever versus crude (or inappropriate), so it is important to pay attention to your word choice when crafting messages. Before you send out a message, ask yourself and your peers if a reasonable person in your industry would be offended by your words.

Avoid hashtag disasters

Hashtags can be a great asset to networking or gaining awareness for your business. They can also be a recipe for a PR mishap. A “bashtag” is when a hashtag becomes a platform for sharing negative information about a company. It starts with a well-intentioned social media campaign, but for some reason or another quickly backfires. An example of this is when McDonald’s launched a campaign using the hashtag “#McDStories”. The intention of the campaign was for customers to share lighthearted stories about their memories of McDonald’s. The impact of this campaign quickly went south, however, when people started sharing McDonald’s horror stories instead. Before you start a social media campaign, weigh your options for how things could go awry. A failed campaign can do much more harm to your business than a successful one can do good.

Create guidelines

Making sure everyone is on the same page about the tone and mission of the message your company is pushing is crucial. Consistency allows for your brand to build a reputation and become better established in your audience’s collective memory. Creating guidelines serves as a “cheat sheet” for employees to understand the game plan for how to react and how to craft messages. Writing out your strategy makes it easier to follow, and it makes your team more accountable for following it. Establishing rules early on helps avoid future disasters because you already have a plan in place.

Monitor activity

You never know what people will say on social media, so don’t forget to regularly monitor your accounts. Be on the lookout for negative comments on your posts so that you can react accordingly. You should also monitor what people are saying about your business through reviews sites like Yelp, or on their own personal accounts. Be sure that you have included a process for responding to negative messages in a professional manner.

Double check everything

It’s easy for mistakes to slip through the cracks, so make sure that multiple sets of eyes take a look at the content you’re putting out in social media. Double or triple check everything that you do to ensure that it is as close to perfect as possible. You don’t want to accidentally let a typo slip through. While typos normally just illustrate a careless mistake, you never know when your typo could accidentally turn a normal word into something offensive. You can’t completely erase a mistake, so it’s important to have a solid system in place for editing content.
About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

10 marketing buzzwords you should stop using immediately

5-actionable-word-of-mouth-marketing-strategiesIt’s easy to get caught up in the jargon of an industry. After all, the more you are exposed to certain words the more likely they are to creep their way into your vocabulary.

Before you know it, you’ve adopted dozens of new buzzwords into your life without even realizing it. Buzzwords are terms that become very popular and widely used in a short amount of time. Buzzwords initially spread because they add some sort of value to the conversation, but this value starts to fade with the overuse (and misuse!) of the words.

We’ve compiled a list of marketing buzzwords that you’ve probably heard a thousand times and are likely to make your skin crawl.

Synergy

What does this word even mean? Synergy has become a word that is almost impossible to escape, and is so overused that it almost feels like a joke. In business, synergy is when the combination of two groups becomes stronger than the sum of their parts. However, this definition doesn’t really seem to mean much anymore. The overuse of this word has turned it into more of a placeholder than something that adds value to a conversation.

Leverage

Leverage seems to be just an overly complicated way to say “use”. It shifts the tone to be more negative, like everything must be a negotiation. Perhaps the most annoying reason for leverage being a buzzword that needs to be laid to rest is the fact that it is not a verb. Everyone out there is throwing leverage around as a verb when it is actually a noun. This should be enough to put leverage into its grave.

Guru

Instead of being an expert, people have suddenly become gurus. Guru is a sanskrit term that means master, but it has developed into a go-to buzzword when pitching clients to the media. The overuse of guru causes one to seem less credible than if they were to just simply say that they are an expert. It implies a level of bragging about their skills, but does not actually put tangible value on said skills. The word becomes less valuable and more obnoxious with every use.

Viral

In today’s world, everyone seems to have an obsession with going viral. However, there is no perfect formula for achieving virality. It isn’t something that you can plan, and because you can’t predict the future, there is no way to know if your efforts will work. The term is extremely vague and overused, and it adds almost zero value to a conversation. Going viral is simply a daydream, not a concrete strategy or action.

Hack

Somewhere along the way the word hack transformed from your worst nightmare into something you strive towards. If you hear that your computer has been hacked you suddenly shift into panic mode. However, if you see the headline for an article for “The Best PR hacks for gaining leads” you’re suddenly filled with excitement. Hack is an annoying buzzword because it sounds like you are deceiving someone or circumventing a normal process to get your way. Instead of something being a valuable tip it has become a hack, and you have suddenly become a mastermind.

Passionate

This is a word that is often used in the wrong place at the wrong time. Passionate has become a word that people throw in to describe anything that they are interested in. This changes the tone of a situation to seem over the top and insincere. How many people are truly “passionate” about PPC or profit margins? Instead of saying passionate, use words like specialize, focus, or dedicated.

Groundbreaking

In a sea of words used to over exaggerate something, groundbreaking takes the cake. This word is the perfect example of hyperbole because there is very little a person can actually do to physically break the ground, yet people continue to use this word as if they are the Hulk. If you are someone that uses groundbreaking to describe any sort of exciting action, it’s important to realize that it loses all of its spark when you say it seven different times in one meeting.

Curate

When I hear the word curate, my mind immediately pictures a museum or an art gallery. However, curate has become a buzzword that people use instead of just simply saying that they created something. Buzzwords tend to overcomplicate things. They also seem to be used when people want to sound more intelligent or in an attempt to fit in. Curate is definitely the perfect example of a buzzword people use when they are trying to create an illusion for themselves.

Bandwidth

Here is another marketing buzzword that stemmed from a completely unrelated industry and found its way into the hearts of business professionals. As a buzzword, bandwidth refers to someone’s workload and availability. Traditionally, bandwidth is a computer term that refers to the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time or range within a band of frequencies or wavelengths. Somewhere along the way bandwidth became adopted as a favorite term for business instead of a way to describe a range of data.

Disrupt

Disrupt is a word that overhypes a product to the point of it becoming overwhelming upon arrival. While it is possible that you have created a product that will change the direction of the world, it probably isn’t the most probable thing to happen. The word disrupt implies that something is revolutionary and is shaking up the industry, which adds a lot of pressure to previous expectations. When choosing your vocabulary, try to be realistic so that you can keep your audience’s expectations level within reality. Once you cut down your use of marketing buzzwords, your message will become clearer and more powerful.

 

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

When should your startup pitch TechCrunch?

techcrunch.opengraph.defaultTrying to gain awareness for your startup can seem like an overwhelming task at first. There are so many startups trying to get in the news in hopes of propelling their growth.

Getting featured in a popular tech blog like TechCrunch may seem like a pipe dream at first, but it’s possible if you follow a few tried-and-true steps:   

Your startup is newsworthy

If your startup has been in the news recently, congratulations! Being newsworthy is a sign that your startup might be ready to pitch to TechCrunch. Being newsworthy also means you have the kind of news that TechCrunch wants to share with its millions of readers. Funding announcements tend to make the flashiest announcements, but only if the capital raise is in the millions.

You’re at the front of a trend

If you are trying to pitch TechCrunch about something that happened four months ago, you’re way too late. An app that does something radically new and exciting may also get the attention of a busy TechCrunch blogger — but you have to be first-to-market or somehow radically better or different from the competition if you hope to succeed. If your startup is at the head of a new trend (think augmented reality apps for the new iPhone ecosystem) then you’re more likely to get a TechCrunch blogger’s attention.

You have something valuable to offer

Put yourself in TechCrunch’s shoes. What kind of content do you want to provide to your audience? You’re a blog with a lot of power and influence, so obviously you are holding your content to a high standard. As a startup, this means that what you provide with your pitch must be on your A-game. Make sure you pitch TechCrunch with news that will give them an edge on the competition. For example, you can negotiate an ‘exclusive’ with one of the TechCrunch bloggers to allow her to announce your latest funding round.

You’ve developed a strong pitch

It is better to take time and allow your idea to grow rather than impulsively throwing it at a journalist. TechCrunch receives thousands of pitches daily from companies around the world. If you want to get noticed, dedicate enough time and effort into creating something truly noteworthy. Practice your pitch. Share it with your team for their feedback. It may seem like a hassle to spend hours and hours working on one task, but the reward will be worth it in the end.

 

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

How to use video for your brand promotions

525206029With the variety of marketing tools available to brands today, video is one that should not be overlooked.

Don’t be afraid to get creative with your marketing strategy by incorporating videos into your brand promotions. Whether you’re posting directly to YouTube, or sharing content through social media, videos are a great way to increase conversions, inform your customers, and set yourself apart from the competition. While it may seem like a challenge to tackle at first, a simple video can make all the difference for your business.

Here’s how you can use video to your advantage when promoting your brand.

Email campaigns

If you’re not using videos in your email campaigns, it’s time to start now. Don’t miss out on all of the benefits that they can provide to your business. According to Animoto, adding the word “video” into your email title can increase open rates by 19%, click-through rates by 65%, and reduces unsubscribing by 65%. Videos can often catch and retain the attention of your audience better than an image can. This could make a huge difference for your business! The next time you plan out an email campaign, consider using a video instead of an image or plain text.

Get social

Social media has completely transformed the way that we promote our brands. It provides an avenue for content to be easily shared to anyone, anywhere in the world. Videos are the perfect medium to be shared because they are often entertaining and engaging. It’s easy and free to upload videos to sites like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be using social media to promote your brand. You can be direct and ask for your followers to share your video or you can create an introduction video to pin to the top of your social media feed. Keep in mind, shorter videos are often easier to digest as most audiences don’t have a long attention span on social media.

Take advantage of autoplay

Autoplay is a great feature for marketers to use. Autoplay causes videos to begin playing as a user is scrolling through their social media feed. This makes your audience more likely to continue watching the video all the way through if it has already caught their eye. This means that you should start the video out with eye catching, intriguing content that will grab your audience’s attention right away. Once you hook them, it will be much easier to reel them in all the way. Who knows, your video might just encourage them to become your new customer!

Optimize for search

Just like with any content you publish on the internet, make sure your brand’s video is optimized for search. After all, you want people to be able to find your content! This means that when uploading you must include the proper keywords in the tag section. You should also make sure that the title is a good description of what the video is portraying and includes your keywords. If you are uploading to YouTube, it’s also necessary to follow these rules for the description section.

Have a call-to-action

If you are trying to use video as a tool to increase engagement, include a call-to-action in the video. People are more likely to engage with content if you prompt them to do something rather than leaving the video open-ended. If you’re trying to get people to visit your site to buy a product, at the end of the video include the phrase “Find out more by…” or “Visit our site for more information”. Also include contact information so they can reach you and link to your website not only at the end of the video, but also in the description. This way, information is easily accessible for your audience. You don’t want to give them a call-to-action that’s impossible to complete!

Track analytics

You track everything else in your marketing strategy, so don’t forget to do the same for videos or you will miss out on a ton of valuable information. Videos can do a lot to change the traffic and conversions to your site. Tracking your data through Google analytics provides insight so you can see how your efforts are paying off, or what kind of changes you need to make to improve the results.

 
About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

Pros and cons of outsourcing your marketing

Coworkers meeting in trendy business office.If you’re just starting out, or if you’ve been too busy with other aspects of your business to think about marketing, you may be considering outsourcing your marketing efforts to an agency.

If, however, the thought of hiring an agency and paying thousands of dollars for your marketing intimidates the hell out of you, you’re not alone. One way to get around the fear is to think rationally about the pros and cons associated with outsourcing. That way you will be much more comfortable if, and when, the time comes to pick a marketing agency.

Pro: Saving time

Perhaps the biggest benefit of outsourcing your marketing is the amount of time you save. If you don’t have much experience with marketing, you may not be willing to take the time to learn all the ins and outs. Because an agency’s main focus is on marketing, this allows them to dedicate more of their time to your brand’s needs than you possibly ever could. Hiring an agency to do your marketing can save you valuable time that you can use to focus on your own area of expertise.

Con: Price

The first con that might pop into your head is cost. You may not be in a position to spend thousands on outsourced marketing or may not see the value in paying someone to do something you can learn to do yourself. The cost of hiring an outside agency is definitely something to factor in, especially if you’re at an early point in your business.

Pro: Experience

The only thing worse than no marketing is bad marketing. If you aren’t experienced in marketing, you risk creating campaigns that aren’t received well by your audience and don’t reap the benefits that a good marketing strategy should. Hiring an agency to handle your marketing can be beneficial because they likely have more experience than you and can produce high quality results. An experienced marketing firm will be able to provide your business with all the necessary tools required for a substantial marketing presence, from social media to search engines. The key to finding the right agency for your business is to do plenty of research beforehand and make sure the agency’s experience fits your brand.

Con: Being on the same page

Another reason you may shy away from hiring an outside agency is the fear that they won’t understand the vision you have for your company. Often times it can be difficult to find the right people who are truly able to be understand your thoughts and your business. Your brand’s personality may be lost when hiring a marketing agency that doesn’t understand what you are looking for. It is important to make sure you understand who you are working with before you hire an agency to make sure you get the most out of your relationship.

Pro: Outside perspective

An agency provides a fresh, objective perspective on how to market your company. It is easy to be blinded by your own ideas when you have worked so hard on creating a successful company. Outsourcing your marketing allows an unbiased party to say what they feel is best for your marketing strategy. It’s also easier for them to provide constructive criticism that will help your marketing strategy in the long run.

Con: Less control

When working with an agency, you may feel that you’ve given up a certain amount of control. While you may have less say in the decisions that are made in regards to marketing, your agency is dedicated to the business and you are the overall decision maker. You hired an outside team for a reason — they often have more experience and will likely have a better understanding of what’s best for the business. It’s important to understand this compromise when outsourcing your marketing. If maintaining a large amount of control is important to you, outsourcing marketing may not be for you.

About Lauren Usrey: Lauren is a student at the University of Texas at Austin and a marketing communications intern at Manzer Communications. She supports clients with social media, blogging and tech PR activities. Manzer Communications has offices in Austin, Denver and Houston and provides digital marketing and PR services for tech companies seeking rapid, sustained growth. Some of the services provided include content marketing, social media strategy and ad buys, email marketing, and media relations.

 

 

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