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Unsubscribe No More: How Emails Can Add Value to Your Inbox

I have a not-so-secret confession: I dislike receiving emails. Oftentimes I feel like certain brands and businesses are spamming me with boring content and information that’s completely irrelevant to my life. On average, I’d say I delete about 70% of the emails I receive before even bothering to open them. These are usually promotional ones offering me discounts on things I neither need nor want, or are simply advertisements with my name attached to make them seem more “personal”. And don’t even get me started on unsubscribing – hitting the “unsubscribe button” and getting another email notification telling me I’ve unsubscribed from a list. Doesn’t that seem awfully redundant to you too? Recently, though, I went through my inbox and cleaned it out. And I discovered something: some emails actually contain really relevant and compelling content, but these are very much outnumbered by the spam-like ones. It’s time for brands to fix this problem.

Email marketing can be used for brand awareness, lead generation and conversion, and customer retention. Social media trends change drastically, and organic reach is being removed as an option on many sites such as Facebook. Email allows businesses to reach consumers organically, and at a level that often feels more personal than with other channels. Companies like MailChimp and TinyLetter specialize in helping people and businesses send great emails, and they send millions of emails every day. Email is crazy cost-effective, and has a ridiculously high ROI to boot: for every $1 spent on email marketing the average return is $44.25, which makes it nearly 40 times more effective than Facebook or Twitter. And just like other forms of inbound marketing, it all comes down to the content in your message. Remember when people used to get excited about having a full inbox (we’re talking Kathleen Kelly, 1990s-level excited, people!)? Well, delivering the right content at the right time to the right segment might get your mailing list looking forward to your messages again, and not selecting “unsubscribe”.

How do you find out what my audience is interested in and finds valuable, you ask? Segmentation and listening, of course! Combining your emails with other inbound channels like social media guarantees contact, as well as looking at your email reports and analytics helps you become fully-attentive and listen to what your leads and current customers are saying. A/B testing anything you can in your emails really helps businesses and brands discover what works and what doesn’t – and you can really split test about anything, from call-to-action buttons to even the text. But this is only part of making your content and emails personal. Tailoring each email to the person who’s receiving it (both in the subject line as well as throughout the copy) deepens your relationship with your recipient and helps them feel connected to you.

Both Hubspot and Constant Contact have lists regarding the best practices of email, and how it can extend your reach and increase your ROI. Here are some commonalities and highlights:

  • Treat your contacts like the real people they are
  • Keep your subject line short and simple, and to the point
  • Go beyond the inbox: Integrate social media, blogs, and more with your email and include links to all these within your copy
  • Don’t use a purchased list: Always ask permission, and request that your recipients opt-in (not opt-out)
  • Make sure to follow up with your emails, and find out what your readers do and don’t like
  • Segment and personalize your list based off interests, stage in the buying process, demographics, and more
  • Focus on the benefits! Why does subscribing to your list, getting your newsletter, or buying your product benefit them?

Things like newsletters consistently add value to your recipient’s lives, and give them informational content they can look forward to (as opposed to only the promotional variety); According to The New York Times, “An email newsletter generally shows up in your inbox because you asked for it and it includes links to content you have deemed relevant. In other words, it’s important content you want in list form, which seems like a suddenly modern approach.” This also follows the 80/20 rule of inbound marketing: 80% informational content, 20% promotional. We look to our inbox for a variety of things, such as news, social content, and yes, promotional messages. By optimizing emails to cater and add to that variety of content, businesses extend their reach and turn leads into customers easily and organically in ways that other channels simply don’t allow for.

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Land, Ho!

No, my sadly un-punny title is unfortunately not referencing Jeff Tweedy’s fictional band on Parks and Recreation. Nor is it about sailors or explorers finding terra nova. I’m actually here to talk about landing pages.

As we know, inbound marketing is all about relationships. Part of a relationship, regardless of the type, is making that crucial step after getting to know someone: getting their contact information. How else are you going to create and maintain a relationship without being able to stay connected? For businesses and their leads, that step is seen in the form of a landing page.

Landing pages are website pages specifically designed to convert visitors into leads. High quality landing pages also allow businesses to successfully segment their audience into different markets, which means reaching the right people, at the right time, at the right place. As I’ve discussed numerous times before, content is everything. But with landing pages, context is equally as relevant. I’ve also mentioned Hubspot’s buyer’s journey and its various steps: awareness, consideration, and decision. An ideal landing page should be catered and customized toward your particular visitor, and whatever step they’re at in this journey (in fact, according to this Hubspot blog post, you should have at least 15 different landing pages to create maximum success – increasing the number of landing pages from 10 to 15 can raise conversions by 55%). A good landing page has a mixture of a lot of different things, and Mashable’s article on successful customer acquisition lists the three most important:

  • Make it clean and simple to use
  • Give a clear call-to-action
  • Make the design attractive

Minimalism is back, people. Simplicity is the new black, and embracing whitespace is a big deal. Clutter, in whatever form, is distracting and annoying. Removing it from your landing page removes distractions, and keeps visitors focused on that big end goal (also, your landing page is NOT your homepage). According to Copyblogger, the most successful landing pages are usually the most simple: one column of relevant, content-filled text with social proof and maybe a nice webinar generates far more leads than a busy site with too many links to click. It’s actually best if you remove any sort of links on your landing page: chances are, those visitors won’t come back.

Content is all about creating relevant information for a unique visitor and (at the end, the teeny-tiny 20% of your content) showing them how they can benefit from your services as a business, whatever they may be. The Content Marketing Institute summed it up nicely on their blog: “You need to entice visitors to opt in for your content. Just stating the title of your video or white paper is not enough to do this. Add some copy that explains the benefits of requesting your material. For example, I like to include short bullet points that highlight what visitors will learn when they check out the content.” After all, you’re asking your visitors and potential audience members to create a relationship with you by having that call-to-action: you’d better make it personally tailored to them, informational, and harmonious to whatever point they may be at in the buying process to keep them coming back for more.

You know how after you’ve gone to a nice get-together at someone’s home, or gone on a really good date with someone, you thank them for the evening and tell them you look forward to spending time with them again? Well, guess what? Businesses should be doing that as well. We as consumers usually get thanked for doing business with someone (in my case, buying shoes I don’t really need), but we don’t ever get thanked for providing them a little bit of our souls: our email addresses. By including a thank you page after a visitor has successfully been converted into a lead, you can further entice the customer with downloadable content and help encourage actions (like, for instance, maybe social media calls-to-action) that will help further the relationship even more.

Okay, so I’m kind of leaving out one big thing that I’ve discussed before: testing. A/B testing allows businesses to test which landing pages, call-to-actions, and even thank you pages are most successful at maintaining those relationships. I won’t go into too much detail about it (you can read my thoughts on the wonders of split testing here), but it’s incredibly useful and simple, and absolutely necessary to help cater your content and the context it’s presented in to each individual visitor.

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Becoming a Social Brand in a World of Social Customers

Good morning, Blogosphere!

It is another beautiful morning in Bellingham – the sun is somewhat shining, the seagulls are chirping (what sound do seagulls actually make?), and I’m here to discuss with you, once again, the power of social media.

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Okay, this picture isn’t actually from today, but my view looks very similar to this right now and I love it. 

Now, as you know from last week’s post (where I discussed different platforms and class four of Hubspot Academy), there are plenty of ways different social media platforms benefit a business – chances are, your audience is definitely on Facebook, Twitter is a great way to gain an audience by means of hashtags and short-but-sweet posts, and Snapchat has a lot of growing popularity with businesses and users alike. As we’ve learned from Hubspot, social media is all about knowing your audience, asking them questions, and listening to what your audience has to say not only about your brand, but other things that interest them as well.

What is being a social brand, you ask? Well, according to Michael Brito’s talk with Hootsuite about the Shift to Social business, we have all become social customers. As I’ve said before, word of mouth is amplified online. So it’s important for businesses to become social brands – companies, products, and individuals alike should all focus on using social media to connect and engage with their audience online. And Hootsuite is there to help.

Hootsuite allows its users, especially businesses, to listen to their audience way more effectively and efficiently than just checking each platform individually. So many of us have a morning routine similar to this: wake up, make coffee, and check your different social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WordPress, etc). We’re social customers. With Hootsuite, everything is in one place, and it is a useful tool for businesses – they can see what their audience is talking about, what their different buyer personas are sharing, analyze what content they’ve posted is doing well (or not so well), and work on becoming great social brands. It allows us to be omnipresent! I watched SCMD 160 and 162 of Hootsuite University, and both were crazy helpful and interesting.

Hootsuite emphasizes the relevance of your online community – a group of people rallying around a shared, common interest. For businesses, building a community revolves around engaging in conversation, becoming a resource, and advocating for your customers. It’s incredibly valuable for an online community to be seen as a sort of focus group – you can find out what your audience wants (both content and product-wise), listen to what they have to say, and add value to your customer’s lives by sharing meaningful content with them and providing the best customer service possible. Twitter and Facebook, once again, are the most popular for this: Hubspot emphasized this on their blog, mentioning how brands should really delight their customers and make them feel special ASAP. “Social care” is the new customer service trend, and responding quickly to negative feedback (and positive!) is here to stay. Regardless of the platform, it makes for easy and awesome customer service – your audience wants a response now, and social media lets you engage with them instantly. According to Hootsuite, there are four different types of social media engagement that help you grow your online community:

  1. Proactive engagement: seeking out your audience and responding to themFacebook_like_thumb-624x534
  2. Negative feedback: unhappy customers, who you need to address (and fast!)
  3. Customer support queries: questions and answers about your product
  4. Shared content

Proactive engagement is something Hootsuite and Hubspot both emphasize continuously – going out and finding your audience and connecting with them via interesting content (like shared interests and valuable information that is pertinent to their lives) is far more effective than pulling them in with traditional methods alone. Social media is all about two way communication, and it’s key for a business to do a LOT of listening. Michael Brito made another point that I think is huge: the only thing worse than not listening is listening without taking action. Social media allows businesses quick and convenient feedback, and to maintain brand and audience loyalty, it’s key that they take the time to respond effectively to what their audience is saying (as my mother likes to say, actions speak louder than words).

Seeking out your ideal, social customers is made simpler when you can do so on multiple platforms at once – remember, different people and personas prefer different types of media, and viewing all these sites together allows a business (or just one user) to figure out how big their reach is on one platform. Gone are the days of being too dependent on one platform! We can be omnipresent in a very simple, easy way. Just keep in mind that your audience and potential customers may be spending their time on one site in particular (and there’s a good chancScreen Shot 2015-01-26 at 4.58.50 PMe it might be Facebook) so be careful to monitor your analytics to discover which one that might be. Then, use your knowledge of great content (80/20 rule, people!) to your advantage to appeal to and engage with your leads and audience in order to become a better social brand.

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Social Media: Reducing Acquisition Costs Since 2003

At its core, social media can be considered a form of “borrowed” media: whether you’re a business or just an everyday user, you are renting (either with time, money, or some other currency) someone’s platform to create and maintain relationships. And regardless of what type of user you are, it seems that it is absolutely crucial to use these platforms to stay relevant and up-to-date with the world’s ongoings. It is especially important for businesses to stay current, and using someone else’s platform makes it so simple to stay in-touch with your current customers, and to acquire new ones.

With traditional marketing channels, interactions between a customer and a business are usually impersonal and are somewhat mass-produced (i.e. TV  commercials). Not only are they impersonal, but they’re often expensive. Customer acquisition costs are crazy expensive, and your customer lifetime value (remember, CLV = monetary margin X customer lifetime in months – acquisition costs) could decrease by quite a bit if that person doesn’t feel special, or particularly engaged with what you have to offer. Social media offers plenty of personalized face-time with both current and potential customers and it’s inexpensive, which helps reduce those acquisition costs to far, far less. And okay, maybe MySpace didn’t really do too much for B2C relationships back in 2003 when it was created, but Tom Anderson definitely started something that’s become far more than just a fad.

I’ve talked previously about good content, bad content, and why it’s important to businesses to know the difference. 80% of yourScreen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.15.01 PM content, the good kind, should be informational and relevant to the first two steps in the buying process (the awareness and consideration stages), and the other 20% can be semi-promotional, but not braggy. No matter what platform you’re on, no one likes to see you brag about how amazing your product/service/baby/car/whatever is. Chances are, it’s not relevant to them. You know what else is important AND relevant, dear readers? Knowing what kind of content belongs on what social media site. This is where, once again, buyer personas come in handy and allow you to figure out where your ideal customer spends their time and what they look for on different social media sites.

According to Moz, Facebook has 1.19 billion regular users; if you’re not on there, you’re probably doing something wrong.  Also, according to Moz, half of users who “like” a brand page do so beScreen Shot 2015-01-21 at 10.36.07 PMcause they have had a positive experience with that service. Facebook is all about Word of Mouth (like, the most necessary component of marketing), sharing cool content, and staying connected with both people you haven’t seen in 10 years and with brands people really respect and engage with. There’s plenty of sharing power, and with power comes responsibility, so make sure to post and create content that is not only informational, but also “hilarious, sad, beautiful, interesting, inspiring, or simply awesome” (like cool comics from The Oatmeal, Facebook users LOVE pictures and infographics). Having a bigger audience creates more authority and visibility for your brand and the content you create, and seeing how Facebook has the most users, it’s pretty obvious that you should be on there sharing that content and delighting your audience.

(Another note about sharing, regardless of the platform: have your employees share things too. They have lives (most of them, hopefully), and friends! And families! And other people who they can spread information to about things, like your business. Social media has plenty of momentum, and encouraging employees to share content relevant to your brand on sites like Linkedin or Twitter extends your reach.)

Like Facebook, Twitter has lots of shareability. It’s an easy way to promote your brand and ask/answer customers’ questions, as well as have more personalized interactions with them. And then, of course, there’s the hashtags. They spark conversation, as well as give you a bigger audience (and more authority!). Twitter allows users of all kinds to discuss different trending topics, whether it’s somewhat silly things like explaining the 90s in four words, or more serious world events like Charlie Hebdo. It’s important for brands to differentiate themselves and talk about topics that are relevant on TwiScreen Shot 2015-01-21 at 11.07.24 PMtter, but they also need to be thoughtful and insightful with the content they post: sometimes inappropriate tweets can still be funny, but other times they can be incredibly insensitive and lose a business plenty of credibility and customers. Case in point: Charmin’s #tweetfromtheseat was funny, Kenneth Cole’s tweet about protests in Egypt? Not so much.

One social media platform with a lot of growing potential is Snapchat. Teenage girls love it, but it’s also become very useful for companies that want another way to stay in touch with customers: over 26 million people in the US alone use it. I won’t babble too much about it, but Forbes wrote a cool article about using the app as a marketing technique. Think about it: Snapchat allows for casual and personalized communication between users, can show people what your business is all about by giving them a behind-the-scenes look at what goes on internally, and it makes you appear more real and human. All this makes your brand and business relatable, and a lot more fun.

So, if anything, getting yourself noticed on social media comes down to several things:

  • Knowing your audience.
  • Knowing what to post, where to post it, and when (content, content, content). And using things like hashtags to get your content noticed.
  • Asking questions, and not being a jerk: Everyone else loves to talk about themselves online, differentiate yourself by inviting your customers to talk instead.
  • Having a personality, and being human: Being human makes you likable and relatable, which in turn makes you more engaging.
  • Clickbait is the bad kind of content, and you shouldn’t be sharing it on social media. Or, creating it.

Analyzing your social proof, shareability, and leads generated by different platforms will help you figure out what social sites you should be allocating the most time and resources to. Make social media part of your company’s culture, and focus on the quality of the content you post on those borrowed media platforms, not always the quantity.


As a random little anecdote, here’s the history of the hashtag, as told by HubSpot. As I was writing this post, I started wondering why exactly Twitter chose the pound sign to turn into the hashtag. I’m still shocked that hashtags (and Twitter!) have existed for almost eight years now, and how commonplace they are among multiple social media platforms. I mean, MySpace was still cool eight years ago. Remember MySpace?

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Content Marketing, and Maybe a 90s RomCom Reference

As I’ve mentioned previously, the days of simply using interruptive, outbound marketing techniques like email (which many of us don’t read) to grab potential customers’ attention are long gone. This isn’t the 90s, people! We don’t sit around like Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks did waiting to hear “You’ve Got Mail!” from our inboxes, mostly because we don’t think the majority of emails we get are particularly informative or interesting (the content doesn’t matter!). Customers don’t want to hear your sales pitch, they don’t like feeling like they’re being sold to. They want to feel special, and to find meaningful information – it’s our job as marketers to give it to them in a fun, interesting way. And, hint: it’s not via traditional advertising methods (at least not just those ways). It’s through useful information, and the way to provide it to them is through content marketing (a subset of inbound).

If you haven’t seen You’ve Got Mail, I highly recommend it. One of my all-time favorites (and it’s on Netflix!). Small business owner Kathleen Kelly totally could have competed with big businessman Joe Fox if techniques such as content marketing and inbound had existed that early in the digital age. Not only was she way, way more knowledgable about her product, but she definitely could have found a creative way to present it to her audience. And with organic search and the right keywords (another part of content marketing), she and The Shop Around the Corner may have stood more of a fighting chance.

Content marketing levels the playing field. Any business, big or small, can compete with equal chance of leads and traffic if they create the right content and know their audience. This part is key. A lot of businesses create persona profiles, which go above and beyond plain old target marketing and focus on the why aspect of the buyer experience: this includes the goals of each type of persona, their “watering holes” (where do they spend their time online?), and their shopping preferences and habits. Think of it as STP on steroids. Going above and beyond segmentation and targeting by using hard data to look at and understand real customers, and then positioning to them in a whole new way. In order to position to both current and potential customers properly, businesses have to understand what type of content will be useful to them. Buyer personas help with this.

the_buyers_journey_from_hubspot

Creating interesting content and sharing the right information at the right time during the buying processes is so, so important. According to Hubspot, in both inbound and content marketing (a subset of inbound), content should be presented at the right place and time for customers and searchers to find it most useful. Context is key! And according to the Content Marketing Institute (and their handy graphic above), there are three different stages in the buyer’s journey. So:

  • The Awareness Stage should focus on content that will increase brand awareness, such as blogs, white papers, and infographics
  • The Consideration Stage should focus on information that will increase the number of leads (Hard facts! Data!) such as case studies and tech guides
  • The Decision Stage should help differentiate you from your competitors, and creating content like free trials and Webinars (one of Content Harmony’s CM Trends for 2015) shows the customer that you’re the best

Once again, it’s important to know what content your customer will find relevant and interesting and what they won’t. For many businesses, reaching out to your audience via blogs and brand magazines is awesome (the context). According to Content Harmony, using a combination of printed and online content helps push brand awareness and knowledge without actually feeling pushy. The Wall Street Journal recently published an article about JC Penny, who is resurrecting their print catalog after discovering print catalogs and magazines actually boost online sales. They allow customers to see the product and become inspired by it.

However, some of these techniques aren’t useful for everyone and that’s why it’s important to know your audience: Starbucks has a blog, but in the 90s it tried publishing a brand magazine (called Joe) that failed just months after launch. The problem? People thumbed through the magazine, but never purchased it because the content inside wasn’t particularly interesting to them! Cool context, unremarkable content and information. Tony’s Coffee (a local Bellingham coffee roaster, and personal favorite) also has a blog, proving that content marketing is just as available to the little guys as the big ones. By updating their blog frequently and putting important information and messages about where they get their beans from and local happenings the business is involved in, Tony’s stays just as in-touch with their audience as Starbucks does, and puts them on the same level as the coffee giant. Creating meaningful, remarkable, and inspirational content within the right context to reach your audience allows small businesses to compete with big ones, regardless if they’re a bookstore, a clothing retailer, or a coffee shop. CoverJoeMagazine2

(Sorry for the mildly NSFW photo of Homer, I just find this cover to be absolutely hilarious.)

Content marketing is all about knowing your audience: what information do they want, what goals do they have? Maybe your business isn’t the right fit for them, but it’s up to you to provide them with the right information to figure that out. And who knows, maybe your business is! If you give them the right content within the right context (like a weekly newsletter or product tutorials), they might look forward to hearing “You’ve Got Mail!” again and actually read those emails you send them.

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The Scientific Method, Digital and Optimized

If there’s anything I learned in my marketing research class last quarter, it’s that marketing contains a lot more science and experimental aspects than one would think. Thankfully for this particular marketing student (who is not very good at science, *cough* physics *cough*), the focus is more on the analytical side of things, with an emphasis on hypothesis testing. Although my memory of seventh grade science is pretty minimal, I do recall the scientific method: ask a question, construct a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, analyze the data, and draw a conclusion based upon these results. This is where A/B testing, or split testing, comes in. A/B testing “takes the guesswork out of website optimization and enables data-backed decisions that shift business conversations from “we think” to “we know.'” It allows for simple, easy, and inexpensive decision making backed with hard facts and data. Who doesn’t want that in our fast-paced, digital world?

Today, a massive amount of marketing (especially digital) relies on testing various hypotheses and optimizing various aspects of the customer experience based upon these results. What kind of content is more interesting to my readers? What landing page makes potential customers stay on my website longer, and explore more? Should I include social media links on my webpage? These are all things that A/B testing can find out, and companies like Optimizely (who collected a giant list of all the different things to potentially A/B test) specialize in helping businesses and websites discover what works best for them in the digital world. It’s your classic seventh grade science experiment, except with controlled and treatment variables that feel a whole lot more relevant and can majorly effect website traffic, revenue, and more. A/B testing is widely used and hugely successful: ComScore used A/B testing on their site and saw a 69% increase in their conversion rate from the original web format (I think it says a lot that even marketing analytics companies are all about A/B testing, that’s how you know something’s good).

Few things are more frustrating for customers, like myself, than not being able to navigate a website to find what we want (we can just go somewhere else, after all), or finding out that something you want is way, way out of your price range (which is essentially my daily online shopping experience). Guess what can help fix these problems? A/B testing. It allows you to tailor your website to your customer, so they remain loyal to you, and it gives businesses valuable feedback on things like pricing and how to better promote a sale. Remember when Nordstrom changed their half-yearly sale to a “clearance sale” last November? A lot of people didn’t know! Even though the company had used customer feedback and decided to change it (gained through various customer-service tools like social media and reviews, which make retail way more exciting), they forgot to communicate properly. They had to send out an email the second day of the sale clarifying they had Screen Shot 2015-01-14 at 8.45.03 PMjust changed the name, as shown in this screenshot.

A/B testing could have helped (i.e. using a landing page with clarification and one without, or emails, etc.), and maybe brought in more revenue for the first few days of the sale.

It’s truly the scientific method in digital format: ask a question (Why is my bounce rate so high?), form a hypothesis (Maybe if I did X to my landing page, I could better funnel visitors through my website), test the hypothesis (A/B testing!), analyze the data (thank you Google, Optimizely, and more), and form a conclusion and optimize my site (I’ll use website format B, because it decreased my bounce rate and increased sales). Simple, cheap, and way beneficial for customers and businesses alike.

Also, I would like to point out that the badass Ms. Amelia Showalter also enjoys the ever-hilarious and inspiring Leslie Knope, which increases my admiration for her more. And it only furthers my opinion that Parks and Recreation is one of the best shows on television.

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Inbound Marketing from the Perspective of a Social Media Addict

Inbound marketing is all about creating and maintaining relationships with current and potential customers by using platforms such as social media, blogs, podcasts and more. Outbound marketing involves sending emails (which often feel like spam, especially to those of us who hate checking their inbox), and has become less and less effective as the digital world has changed.  As Hubspot put it, “Instead of spending your whole day interrupting people and hoping they pay attention, try setting up a blog and writing interesting content, so that people want to hear what you have to say and come find you when they’re interested in your products.” Inbound marketing helps customers engage and learn about a brand or product more effectively than just old-fashioned email or advertising.

According to Hubspot, the three skills needed to maximize inbound marketing are:

  • Writing compelling content that attracts customers to the business
  • Distributing this content in a way that it can be easily discovered by potential customers (via search)
  • Attract and engage a community of customers who not only engage with the product, but tell others about it too (so much of a brand is word of mouth, and facilitating that is so huge)

Now, when you Google ‘inbound marketing’, Hubspot is the first thing that comes up. They offer a complete inbound marketing software, that includes content design, “exposure optimization” (greater visibility online), and lead tracking and intelligence (Analytics! Whoop!). Obviously the company that essentially created the concept of inbound marketing offers the best software/knowledge about it. Marketo, Hubspot’s big competitor, offers a similar business model, but emphasize the importance of combining multiple inbound marketing platforms with traditional outbound methods as well. Marketo discusses the importance of differentiating one’s business from “the crowd”, by using their “Inbound Marketing Multiplier” method, which contains:

  • An outbound marketing strategy (some combination of inbound and outbound)
  • A corporate communications strategy (i.e. branding, product launches, etc.)
  • A “nurturing or marketing automation strategy” (which converts prospective customers into actual ones)

Overall, Marketo and Hubspot are strikingly similar, and I think Marketo seems to discuss inbound marketing in a lot more interesting and compelling way than Hubspot manages to. Their fatal flaw? SEO for their own business: when you Google “inbound marketing”, you have to scroll through two pages before even seeing any mention of Marketo.

Now, I know we haven’t really discussed Hootsuite in class very much yet, but I think they’re all about inbound marketing (obviously, they are a social media company). And conveniently enough, they published an awesome article yesterday on Twitter about using Instagram more effectively that I was all about. Instagram is absolutely my favorite social media site, and I know so many businesses that have used it in a way that’s been very engaging for me. My favorite trend Hootsuite discussed in the article is branded hashtags: “the hashtags are aligned with the overall brand instead of the product, and Instagrammers are encouraged to tag their photos whether the product is featured or not”. It’s about customer engagement with more than just the product, but with the actual brand and creating a specific lifestyle to support it. Hootsuite mentioned Herschel Supply Co. (who make very hip, cool backpacks), and their #welltravelled campaign. Everlane, a luxury online clothing company focused on transparency and simplicity that I could talk about for days, has their #FromThePeople campaign, which encourages their customers to show off their duds and furthers the brand’s emphasis on simplicity and minimalism in everyday life.

Blogging and Pinterest are also both huge ways for companies to engage with their customer base (Especially clothing companies. Did I mention I like clothes?). As pointed out by Hootsuite in another article, companies like Etsy and Nordstrom have millions of followers on Pinterest. Pinterest is essentially word of net in picture form, which makes inbound marketing even easier. And the blogs! So many awesome, interesting blogs. Everlane has one, but a blog I absolutely love and follow religiously is the one belonging to Madewell: not only is it a plug for their products, but it also shares various weekly articles on books, music, and interior decorating that fit with the brand’s lifestyle.

These are businesses I shop with regularly, and I can tell you they not only use inbound marketing (my personal preference), but outbound as well. All utilize various social media sites, many have blogs, and all send me emails I (usually) don’t read. Inbound marketing has helped them establish their unique brands, and create engaging relationships with current customers (me!) and potential ones (people like you, maybe, who I babbled about them to). Inbound marketing is easy, current, and doesn’t fill up my inbox with annoying emails I’ll never read.

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