There's More Than One Way to Skin an Inbound Marketing Strategy

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Aug 1, 2013, 8:13 AM

imagesI was the type of teenager that was fortunate enough to NOT have a chronic acne problem. I did however, have a knack for producing ginormous pimples in the most inconvenient places at the least convenient times.
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Want to get noticed by employers? Create a personal brand experience

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

May 3, 2013, 1:30 PM

As I publish this blog post, it's been 1,972,800 minutes since I uploaded the video "Hire Me" to YouTube. It's got just over 60,000 views--that's roughly one person listening to my mediocre singing voice every half hour. Not too shabby! Back in 2009, creating an online personal brand experience was relatively new, and I stumbled upon creating one rather serendipitously -perhaps by accident. The "Hire Me" campaign, while simply designed to help me get noticed, also made me very aware of how important it was to proactively develop a cohesive, professional personal brand experience.

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Local SEO Tips to Get Your Business Found

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Apr 23, 2013, 12:13 PM

local-seoSEO fascinates me. While it's remained consistently volatile (oxymoron!) over the past few years, there's no doubt that it's a stood as a fundamental component of digital marketing.

What excites me the most about SEO is how it's really evolving towards a balance of art and science. Google wants to return the most useful information (i.e. "good" content) to someone searching for a phrase, but like any computer program, it needs to work off an algorithm--an equation with numbers and metrics (hence the see-saw between art and science).

Fascinating!

Anyway, I'm not a thought leader in the SEO space by any means, but it's a significant part of my consulting work, so I try my best to stay on top of the latest developments (for reference, I typically follow SEOMoz's blog and tune into their Whiteboard Friday segments as much as possible).

I guess the marketing consultant profession implies that I know something about SEO (I do!) and that it's okay to ask me questions (in fact, I encourage it!). I typically get questions about SEO, keyword optimization, and how both pertain to marketing.

In this week's Question MARK-eting post, Sally asks: "Our website, Mercurycleaners.com  is not getting as much visibility as we would like on search engines, even though we include key words. Can you tell me what we're doing wrong?"

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Website Lead Generation Techniques: Turn that funnel frown upside-down

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Apr 7, 2013, 12:15 PM

Question: what's the one thing that's sad about the below screenshot?

bad-homepage Is it the giant, static banner image?

How about the unnecessary location map that takes up a significant amount of the webpage's real estate?

Maybe it's the lack of context as to what the website is actually about?

Ok, sorry--it's actually sort of a trick question, because there are a lot of things that are sad (although it's definitely not the general mood of the people in the scrolling banner's stock imagery).

But when I refer to "sad", I'm actually referring to the "request a quote" call to action, and thinking sad like this:

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5 Principles of the Inbound Marketing Consultant's Dogma

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Apr 1, 2013, 12:18 PM

As an Inbound Marketing consultant, I've coached hundreds of individuals (mostly from some sort of marketing agency) on how to adopt specific Inbound Marketing strategies to reach business goals.

We'll work together to identify these specific goals, then I'll make recommendations on how we can leverage their digital marketing assets (website, social, email, etc.) to attain them.

This approach typically works very well until consulting time has expired and we're close to parting ways, an event that's basically the childhood equivalent of mom or dad taking off the training wheels.

 

Unfortunately, like a kid careening aimlessly down the driveway on a recently modified bicycle, simply working with a client during consulting isn't necessarily conducive to independent success beyond our sessions. I do try to tee them up for future progress through our time together, but I think the biggest challenge that I've yet to tackle effectively is better equipping the folks I consult to independently think with an Inbound mindset.

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A (Not So) Elementary School Marketing Plan

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Mar 24, 2013, 12:23 PM

My fourth grade teacher lit my desk on fire. In what was probably the coolest elementary school science experiment ever, Mrs. Harrington selected me from the rest of the twenty-five other students, doused my desk in rubbing alcohol, struck a match and let the whole workspace go up in flames.

I was completely in awe--not so much from the science itself, but the sheer fact that my fourth grade teacher had just done something so incongruous to school etiquette. This experiment was a testament to her teaching style: creative, passionate and a bit dangerous. Her lessons inspired me to think outside the box, challenge ideas, and try things that went against the norm. Needless to say, her classes prepped me well for success in Middle School, High School, College, and beyond.

My main point here is that elementary school is a place that has the opportunity to sculpt an individual's life. While lighting my desk on fire may seem like a small, yet radical event, its a piece of a much bigger experience that defined who I am today. The years spent in fourth and fifth grade are an important, influential period for students, and as such, need to be communicated like so.

Alright, enough reminiscing about past science experiments-- this introduction has a reason! Today's Question MARK-eting challenge comes from Steven, who has a plethora of questions about marketing for an elementary school. He asks:

"Elementary schools need to market their program. What does the school offer? What are the school's strengths? What stories can the school share? School Awards/Recognitions? Why would I send my child or grandchild to this school? Schools do not know how to create a marketing plan. Schools use a website, phone calls, the traditional note in backpack, and a few use Facebook. How can schools send a clear and consistent message? How can schools market their image like a restaurant or shoe company? I want to learn from someone who understands marketing. Thank you for this opportunity."

Well, first of all, you're welcome for the opportunity! Happy to write up some thoughts on the matter. But don't thank me just yet, this whole post could go up in flames (gotta keep the "desk-fire" theme going, right?). There are a lot of questions here, and I can see this turning into a really long blog post. But, let's dive in like the first day of school. I hope you packed a lunch :)

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How to Get Hooked on Fishing for Link Bait

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Mar 17, 2013, 12:27 PM

On Page SEO can only take you so far. The other, significantly larger slice of SEO relies on the quality of inbound links to your website from other domains. Google and other search engines monitor the authority of websites based on a number of factors (how many pages they have, how many people visit the site, etc.) and a part of this authority is then distributed to outside domains through outbound links.

If your website is on the receiving end of and outbound link (which would be an inbound link, from your perspective), that's usually good news (provided that the domain linking to you is authoritative and the reason for linking is relevant). As you can imagine, it's tough to build these links on your own because the process is mostly out of your control. It's like fishing (here we go again with the analogies!)-- you can throw your bait out to a bunch of fish, but you can't make them bite. The key is having the right type of bait.

theres-something-about-mary-2

So now we arrive at this week's Question MARK-eting challenge from Antoine, who asks: "Link Building....oye vey! Where do I start without having to hire some guy in India to build me [expletive removed for the young-uns] links?" The simple answer is "link bait."

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The Rules of Targeted Web Traffic Attraction: Throw a Houseparty!

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Mar 12, 2013, 12:31 PM

Because it's an awesome shirt from HubSpot. If you haven't guessed yet, I'm a huge fan of using analogies, metaphors, and similes to help explain marketing concepts. Website lead generation is like fishing. Blogging is like squat thrusts. The list goes on!

The reason I like using this method so much is that oftentimes, abstract marketing concepts and strategies are hard to visualize and ultimately understand by simply explaining them. I find it easier to convey a complex idea when I can compare it to something much more uncomplicated. So it comes with (hopefully) no surprise that today's Question Marketing challenge blog post incorporates an analogy!

It comes from Greg at Precision Marketing Partners. He says:

"My biggest challenge is attracting the right kind of prospects to my website."

I've talked about finding keywords for traffic building purposes and creating Top Funnel content to capture leads, but I haven't really talked about the middle ground, which is the mysterious universe where website stalkers lurk before converting as a lead.

This nebulous environment is sort of like stranger-to-lead limbo. It's occupied by a group of website stalkers who are coming from a vast array of different traffic sources, poking around, and waiting to do something. So how do you capitalize on these stalkers? The same way anyone would when they want to bring people into their social-sphere, mingle and develop relationships. Throw a house party!

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Lead Gen Funnel Unclogging through Strategic Blogging

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Mar 9, 2013, 12:35 PM

I think I spent more time writing this title than the actual post. That's not to say the post isn't good--I just think the title's extra special. Alright, let's tackle the latest Question MARK-eting challenge from Joe. First, a little bit about Joe: He's been kicking Inbound Marketing butt for his client Papalia Plumbing. Since taking over as Papalia's marketing consultant, Joe has single-handedly redesigned the website, created plenty of lead gen opportunities and driven increased traffic month-over-month with his blogging efforts.

Of course, any Inbound Marketer will tell you that sustained success through our efforts isn't a one time thing. Inbound Marketing requires sustained activity. It's a constant juggling act of driving qualified visitors to the website, converting said visitors as leads, and closing those leads as customers.

Such is the case with Joe, who says "We are getting lots of traffic but leads seem to be dwindling"

The good news is that we're bringing more visitors to the site! The bad news is that there seems to be a clog in the lead flow. Something is preventing us from getting those visitors to willingly submit their information for lead conversion. What could it be? Let's investigate...

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Scrappy Strategic Marketing: Bootstrapping Your Blog

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Mar 5, 2013, 12:59 PM

BootsIf you’re a workout buff and an Internet marketer, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say blogging is like a set of squat thrusts. For those not familiar with either, I’ll start with the exercise move first: a squat thrust (sometimes referred to as a “burpee”) is a movement that works a lot of muscle groups.

Side note: I cannot do these.

Similarly, blogging works a lot of Internet marketing muscle groups. It’s a content development exercise, an SEO enhancing activity, a lead generation technique—the list goes on. My main point here is that like squat thrusts, blogging is a great way to flex many marketing muscles in one fell swoop.

But like squat thrusts, blogging ain’t easy. As Takako states in this week’s Question MARKeting submission “We can't spend enough time keeping up with the web content and blog.....No one sees us.” Sounds like a two-fold challenge here, Takako. Allocating the right resources and seeing results that your efforts are producing.

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Is Facebook effective for B2B lead generation?

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Mar 4, 2013, 2:40 PM

Today’s Question-MARKeting challenge will be covered by fellow Bentley University Alum Andrew Nadeau. He helped me get my first Marketing job out of college, so I'm extremely excited to have him contribute to my blog. He'll be tackling Kate's question on Facebook for B2B lead generation. Take it away, Andy!

Kate asks:

"We have a low number of followers on Facebook, it is mostly our employees. As we are B2B company, I often wonder if Facebook is really a good social network to generate leads, and are we wasting our time? I like the fact that we link back to our website in the majority of our posts and I see the value of Facebook for recruiting people to our company but not so much for generating leads. What are your thoughts? BTW LinkedIn works well for us as a lead generating source."

f2b

This is an outstanding question, so let’s jump in…

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Measurable Marketing Goals: The IT Factor

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Mar 3, 2013, 2:42 PM

previouslyTo keep things fresh, I'm going to start today's post out like a typical episodic television series. Feel free to imagine the next few sentences of this blog post are dictated in Kiefer Sutherland's voice. I sure did when I wrote it:

Previously, on Question-MARKeting Challenge...

"Our team needs to optimize for International SEO, and without the proper research, we'll never unlock the key to finding keywords!"

"How can you expect website lead conversion to succeed without first analyzing your sales process and buyer personas? YOU NEED A SMART MARKETING PLAN OR THOSE WEBSITE VISITORS ARE GOING TO BOUNCE!"

Alright, pumped up? I know I am. So without further ado, let's dive into the latest Question-MARKeting challenge submitted by Mark, one of my former professors at Bentley University. He asks:

"Thousands of students are coming to the CIS Sandbox each semester. Fewer regularly read the blog beyond the first page, which has frequent posts from student workers about IT topics, tips on homework and more in order to keep it fresh. We are looking to enable opening commenting on the blog to members of the Bentley community and hope to have that in place shortly (there were some technical issues to overcome). The CIS Sandbox has a presence on Facebook and twitter. What else should we do?"

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International SEO Management of Mystery

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Feb 25, 2013, 2:45 PM

Today's Question-MARKeting challenge (that's the new title of coined for the series) comes from Ed, International marketer extraordinaire, who asks:

"How do I maximize aggregation of inbound SEO authority across bundled domains (various intl tlds e.g. www.TraceDetection.com.ng, .com versions & affiliated web properties) to leverage common blog content and authority?"

Very good question. Perhaps too good.

austin-powers

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The Key to Finding Keywords: Stop Going Niche, Capsice?

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Feb 23, 2013, 2:47 PM

Alright, I'll admit it-- the blog post title is too creative for its own good. And it might not make much sense. But it includes a keyword I want to rank for (which isn't 'Capisce', believe it or not), so let's just casually move on to my latest marketing challenge from Eric.

He asks: “Pugs is struggling to identify niche keywords that we can drive our relevancy and create new customers with their uniquely found traffic.”

Ah, the ol’ “niche keyword” conundrum. You want to drive traffic to your website through keywords that describe your product or service, but after doing some research, you come to find that nobody is searching for the terms.

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The Science of "SmART" Marketing

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Feb 17, 2013, 2:52 PM

In school, I loved numbers. Despite tenth grade trigonometry (the teacher had an inexplicable vendetta against me), every math or science class I took was better than the last. I even did Math Olympiad in sixth grade, which was probably a contributing factor to my inability to associate with girls until high school.

Growing up, I also had a passion for art. My father is a commercial artist turned children's book author and illustrator, so I was subject to much creativity during my early years. Having a deep, mysterious artistic side negated out the nerd-factor of math, contributing to me getting a girl friend in high school. Ying and yang, blog reader. Ying and yang.ying-yang

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Want meatier website leads? First, you gotta try the ToFu. Seriously.

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Feb 17, 2013, 2:49 PM

Despite the title, I'm going to start this one off with a fishing analogy (which happen to work particularly well when describing Internet Marketing).

Okay, so imagine your friend just told you that he was at this lake yesterday where he caught fifteen rainbow trout. This was the exact type of fish he was looking to catch too, which is great. You want to catch the same type of fish too, so you ask him where the lake is. He gives you directions and the next day you pack up your equipment (which is quite the endeavor since you need to prepare the rods, your tackle box, need to pack your lunch, etc.) and head out. Your morale is high though, so you overlook the fact that you could only pack peanut butter and jelly for lunch.

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How To Avoid E-Fail, Email's Irritating Cousin

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Feb 13, 2013, 2:55 PM

Today's marketing challenge speaks to the importance of building buyer personas and analyzing your sales process when launching an email campaign. It was submitted by Matt, who says:

"We have a small online store using Volusion template. Business is small and steady. Sales are 80% to university research labs and 20% to research labs in the private sector and government. We tried direct email marketing using Constant Contact and the stuff we put out was pretty good content-wise. It resulted in absolutely no increase in sales - zilch, nada. Don't know why. We expected some increase but there was nothing. Wondering why direct email was such a failure."

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SEO. Huh! Yeah! What is it Good For?

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Feb 11, 2013, 3:14 PM

Absolutely nothing? Far from it. However, the SEO landscape is changing so rapidly, that's tough to keep track of it (let alone ensure that you're optimized following the most up-to-date best practices). There's a good chance a website that was considered well optimized a year or so ago no longer is (provided nobody has updated it since). But it's frustrating when a relatively new site isn't getting found for the keywords you desire.

Today's post is written for Frank, who's having some SEO struggles.

He asks: "The Amodio & Co. Real Estate website isn't getting found on search engines, even though we included keywords, why is that?"

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Picture Perfect SEO

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Feb 10, 2013, 3:16 PM

In this Marketing Challenge post, I'll be covering a blogging and SEO question submitted by Nicole of Nicole Chan Photography. If you'd like to be featured in an upcoming Marketing Challenge, you can sign up here. Nicole Chan Photography

She asks: "What's the best way to SEO-juice up my blogpost and images in my blogpost?"

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Fourteen Faux-Pas of Website Functionality

Posted by Alec Biedrzycki

Feb 3, 2013, 3:19 PM

To me, a business website is a very exciting thing. It's essentially a digital sandbox to create an online experience for your potential customers. It has the capability of getting you found on the Internet, teaching said potential customers about your product/service and beginning a business relationship with them. If done right, a website can be a VERY effective tool in growing your business.

As a digital marketing consultant, I see a lot of websites. While most of my consulting recommendations are based on marketing goals and the required steps needed to achieve them, a majority of this feedback involves some part of the client's website. As you can imagine, I've witnessed my fair share of website initiatives and how successful they are at achieving a client's business goals. What follows is a list of website faux pas that in my opinion, detract from a website's ability to foster business growth.

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Is Your Website Dropping the Ball?

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