The other day, a prospect asked me what the average annual revenue of a HubSpot client is. I said "I have no idea". I also asked why she asked. Since this was over email, she hasn't answered yet.
I should have answered. "It's rising."
I was talking to Frank Damelio this morning and this is a paraphrased quote of what he said to me: "I'm really excited for you Pete. Over the years, it's been great to have someone like you to share stories with as we've both built our businesses and learned hard lessons. And you are working on the cusp of something huge and I can tell based on how things are going for you and your excitement, that you're really in a good spot. And that all of the things you've learned, you're putting to good use and really helping a lot of people.
Previously, large businesses had access to the capabilities that HubSpot provides. But, now it's possible for every small business to afford these tools. And business is going to increasingly be initiated online at Google, blogs, LinkedIn, etc. And you are positioned to really help small businesses make the transition. No matter whether it's a hair salon, a tire repair place, or whatever, they're going to need someone that can give them the tools and guidance to switch from old ways of marketing to using the web to attract prospects to them. The web is where their customers are looking for someone like them. They need to be there."
I certainly couldn't have said it better myself. I think Frank could even deliver it almost as well as HubSpot's CEO has in this video, since Frank is a public speaking coach.
Frank's right, though. This stuff is now affordable for small businesses. It's less about the dollar investment. It's more about whether they can spend the time and whether they have the aptitude to pull it off. It's not rocket science. But, it takes committment.
HubSpot's clients include large businesses like Kelley Staffing, Geico Insurance and SolidWorks, the leader in 3d design software. But, we also have lots of clients who are 5-10 person teams just setting out to change the world like Darcy's Safety and CPR training business, Boston Micro Machine's Adaptive Optics, Objective Management Group's sales recruiting business, Midnight Trader's After Hours Trading Information business, B&B Aesthetics revolutionary laser lipo procedures or Frusterio's Home Renovation Design business. HubSpot even has plenty of successful one person shops like Doug Sauerhaft's 'Buy Mail List' business, Paul Orselli's Museum Exhibit Design company, Bob Mattingly's River Rafting Adventure business, Dr. Edward Kwak's Asian Plastic Surgery business and Mari McCarthy's Journal Writing Therapy Business.
There's lots more. I'm proud to have brought many of these businesses on board. And what gets me really excited is when they start building readership on their blog, doing their own keyword research and tracking for SEO, improving ppc performance and leveraging social media so that it has an impact on the topline of their business.
And it's even more exciting when customers talk about it themselves. Here's the latest HubSpot internet marketing case study from telecom expense management software provider, Vocio. (Video editing by Catie Foertsch.)
It's amazing to think that we've had a part in helping this business grow their business. It's amazing to think about the fact that 46 new clients signed up last month to embark on the same process. The impact that we'll have on their business and their lives is awesome. We're putting people in control of their marketing, something that has been pretty much a guessing game for more than a century. I think it's a high point for the direct marketing business. Now, it's possible to not only measure things, but engineer, predict, and improve with instantaneous feedback. I'm pretty sure that Gutenberg didn't think that would ever be possible when he invented the printing press.
The Worcester Business Journal ran an article about online advertising the other day quoting 3 local marketing agencies about online advertising.
The majority of the article quotes Laura Briere, owner of Vision Advertising, which is good. Laura actually knows her stuff quite well. Not as well as she thinks she does, but if I had to pair someone up with a local full service marketing agency who gets the web, Laura is a good bet. She doesn't make the mistakes that marketing agencies outside of Central MA stopped making in 2001. (I haven't used Laura myself so I don't know what she does and doesn't know. But, on the surface, she's dangerous with this stuff.)
The other two are pretty hopeless. They're still placing online ads on newspaper sites, designing banner ads and all flash websites (SEO no-no #1) for their clients instead of doing search engine optimization, pay per click advertising, blogging, landing page optimization, and leveraging social media successfully. (Not just expensively.)
I am sure this problem is not unique to Central MA. But, if marketing agencies want to stay relevant they better learn how to shift their thinking of "how do I spend my client's advertising budget effectively?" to "How do I do things that generate a predictable and measurable ROI for my clients by generating leads that turn into business for them?"
If the WBJ wants to provide informative articles about online marketing to their readers and help Central MA businesses really leverage the web effectively to grow their businesses, they should look for some more experts past 495. Maybe even hire an online marketing expert to do the writing. This is such an important thing to get right for the future of the region's business health.
It's been awhile since I've ranted or called anyone out. Sorry, in advance, for those that I've offended. You deserve it, even though it should be privately directed.
I'll be returning shortly to educational blog posts about online marketing and my networks' activities.
I wrote a post over on the HubSpot blog entitled "Top 10 Most Egregious Search Engine Optimization Mistakes
I'd like to eventually write the Top 100 list. So, go leave your list in the comments.
HubSpot just launched an 11 page free internet marketing eBook. If you're a small business owner, marketing or sales professional and are frustrated with not generating enough leads from your website, you should go read it online or download it.
Here's the sections:
1. How the Internet Has Transformed Business
2. Outbound vs Inbound Marketing
3. B2B Marketing Research
4. Organic vs Paid Search
5. On Page Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
6. Off Page SEO or Link Building
7. Starting a Blog
8. Convert Website Visitors into Leads
9. Web Marketing Analytics
10. Other Internet Marketing Resources.
Marketing Automation is the topic du jour in the marketing world. Aweber has been the pioneer allowing marketers to segment "types of buyers" and then setup "drip email marketing campaigns" that educate buyers about how to solve xyz problem [usually] using the marketer's abc solution.
There's many more new solutions out there that are much more sophisticated now. More expensive too.
Marketing Automation is smart. Usually, I think it makes the job of salespeople easier if the prospect can communicate their problems, and are confident that your solution solves their problems - going into the sales process. Marketing automation gets your prospects up to speed.
At HubSpot, we have prospective clients with multiple employees that are subcribed to our newsletter, attended several webinars, downloaded our white papers, visited our product and pricing page, left 4 comments on our blog, visited our site a total of 10 times and filled out 6 forms over 3 months. When we call [or rather: they call us], as you could imagine, they're pretty much ready to buy.
And I think there is a rule in sales that says something like, "When the buyer says they're ready to buy, it's time to shut up". Right Rick? Dave? Al?
Regardless.. The topic of Marketing Automation is top of mind for many marketers.
I even had a local realty franchise owner tell me he wanted to do marketing automation. To which I asked:
- How big is your email list?
- How many people sign up for your email list every month?
His answers were low hundreds and a few every month. He's not a candidate for marketing automation. Marketing automation should be done by people who have many more leads than they can handle and can't find any other way to figure out who the sales people should call first.
I also asked the realtor:
- Are your sales cycles long - involving multiple types of decision makers each with different agendas, concerns and challenges?
- Do you sell different products to different types of buyers? Are you selling one thing to engineers and another to the CTO? Are you selling one product to people in the auto industry and another to people in the aerospace industry?
- Do you have to educate your buyers before they're ready to buy?
He answered "No". Again, he's not a candidate for marketing automation. Marketing automation is good if you need to educate your buyers with bite sized chunks of information over time. If your sales cycle is short and only 1 or 2 people are involved in the buying decision, you don't need marketing automation. Marketing automation isn't going to close more deals for you. (Better salespeople might.)
Just to drive the point home, I asked a few more questions:
- What types of things are you doing online that will get a prospect to come back to your website? Are you writing blog posts where they can leave their thoughts? Are you doing regular webinars that they can attend? Are you publishing white papers or articles they can sign up to download? Do you have new promotional offers they can sign up to receive? New Press Releases they can read?
- How often are you doing all of this stuff?
He said, "My website really needs some work. I even have trouble editing what I have now, let alone adding things to it. I know that I'm not getting all the leads I could be getting because I don't have anything to offer them to get them to come back to my site." Again, he's not a candidate for marketing automation.
I stopped there. I recommended he use Constant Contact as that would be a better solution for him for email marketing. Besides that, I recommended that he should just focus on getting more traffic to his website and converting more of his visitors to leads, so that his agents would have more people to call and he'd have more people to send his email newsletter to.
Their lead to deal conversion rate isn't the problem. It's that they don't have enough leads. So, marketing automation is not going to solve their most pressing issue. Improved PPC performance, SEO, blogging and more lead conversion events such as webinars, promotions and downloadable articles (eg "how to lease commercial real estate") are what's needed.
They don't need to do online marketing automation. They just need to start doing more online marketing. And start measuring what works. And what doesn't.
Are YOU ready for Marketing Automation?
Bruce Mendehlson and I have been chatting by email about this. I also spoke to Debra Simpson on the West Coast about this. I plan to speak with Rita Coco and Allison Chisholm about this too.
But, Bruce is the first one that has demonstrated some knowledge about what I think is required to make blogging work for businesses. Here's his thoughts:
There are A LOT of blogs out there, and many (in fact, most) are poorly written, rambling, off subject and add little (if any) value that relates back to the product, service, or business someone is trying to promote.
After all, it's challenging to compose relevant, compelling content on a regular basis--after a few dismal attempts most business owners move on to something else. It's not that they don't have the desire; they don't have the time or the discipline to devote to a labor-intensive product like a blog.
The key is to help your clients understand how a blog (or a podcast, RSS feed, widget, etc.) should and must be integrated within a broader marketing and communications plan. For example, if they have a product in R&D or coming to market, they'll want to use the blog to build interest in and excitement about the product or service. They'll want to create a dialogue with consumers in which consumers can share their thoughts about the product or service.
When it comes to blogging in our Web 2.0 world, it's all about the 5 C's: Collaboration, Content, Converged services, Community, and Conversation. Your job is not only to help business owners understand the important of blogging, but also to invest the necessary resources (time and money) to creating a well-written, interactive online dialogue through their blog.
This is extremely well said. Blogging is just a tool. It's how you use it that's critical.
I've signed on about 15 companies since the beginning of the year who all are in the process of starting their blog, at my suggestion. But, it's not something to enter into lightly. And it's not something I'd recommend someone do until they develop a strategy.
Blogging should fit into a strategy that supports the business. The ultimate goal of most marketing activities should be to generate interest from qualified prospects. So blogging should fit into their traffic and online lead generation strategy. In order to get the most out of it, the following should be done first:
Search Engine Optimization Keyword research to inform topics that should be written about.
Launching a blog on a blogging platform that is optimized for SEO and community development - on your own domain name.
Reading and commenting on other blogs in order to start entering the conversation.
A system in place that tracks new links, traffic and leads generated from the blogging activities.
If you don't do all of this, you run the risk of writing a blog that noone reads and adds no value to your business.
But, as Bruce points out it's equally important to go into blogging knowing that this is an investment of time and money, like any other marketing expenditure. So, it requires the right resources to pull it off.
In order to help my clients, I'm seeking a stable of professional writers who I can recommend. If you know anyone, please send them to this post and ask them to contact me here. I'm going to need to be comfortable that they can do what Bruce talks about, but also do what I bulleted above.
They are going to need to be able to coach clients towards their business goals using blogs as a tool.
Right now, "How to Generate Leads Using the Web" is the title of my blog. I'll probably change it at some point.
But, "generating leads via the web" is what I am helping my clients do. That won't change. I'm planning on doing a series of step-by-step videos to demonstrate how to do generate leads via Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click, Blogging and Engaging in the Blogosphere and on Social Media sites... for the benefit of my clients as well as readers. The knowledge to do this should be in everyone's hands. Right now, the knowledge I'm going to share is not known by many people. I'm about to piss off a lot of search engine optimization and social media marketing consultants.
To do this stuff right, you don't "NEED" them. However, to do it right, you NEED the tools. Since I'm providing my clients with the tools, I have a lot of reasons to share the knowledge of "how to generate leads" openly. I'd rather educate a few hundred people at a time, than one on one.
The place to start is always with Keyword Research. Using the HubSpot tools, I've been able to help almost all of my clients identify keywords that:
- have a large amount of search volume,
- aren't too difficult to rank for in the organic search rankings,
- and where they are already ranking in the first 100 results in google's search engine result pages (SERPs)
These are the gems because with a little bit of work, it's easy to start ranking high on the first page and start enjoying that free traffic. But, since there are a lot of internet marketers publishing to the web, it's difficult to identify keywords for myself. (Luckily for me, Mike Volpe and the marketing team at HubSpot has done the work to rank for "internet marketing" and a bunch of other phrases, and they supply with as many leads as I can call.)
What I'm struggling with is how to show examples of doing it without giving away competitive advantage. For example, we discovered a few keywords that one of my clients should focus on, he changed his title tags and voila ... he went from result 79 to 9 in the SERPs. I would never share what those keywords are because it would make it too easy for his competitors to duplicate. The actual work he did to rank is obvious if his competitors simply look at his site, assuming they have enough knowledge of SEO. (0ne of his competitors already knew about this keyword and is optimized and ranks for it.) However, I'm not going to advertise how he did it in a video.
The struggle is over.
So, I'm happy to report that I discovered a solid keyword phrase, where pc4media ranks "19" in the SERPs and there's approximately 140 searchers per month. I would not have discovered if it wasn't for the integration of HubSpot's keyword research tools and web marketing analytics. A few people came to the site as a result of the search. Then, with one click I determined where I was ranking, how many people searched for that phrase in a month and whether or not it'd be difficult to get to the first page. HubSpot's keyword tool tells me that it's not that difficult to get higher than I already am and I've already made a change to my site to get higher.
So, I've found a good one. Were you hoping I'd share it? Not until I do my videos. I don't want another internet marketing expert to wreck my progress while I'm making the video. I expect others to compete with me for the keyword after I do the video and lots of people see it. But, that's why search engine optimization is an ongoing process. Also, by then, I'll have done a bunch of blogging, link building and social media marketing in order to rank. It'll be harder to duplicate my efforts. And I'm sure I'll find more terms to go after by then too. But, this'll serve as a good way to demonstrate "how to generate leads" via SEO.
I am slightly obsessed with "Local SEO".
I think it's because my experience has been providing services to small businesses who do business primarily locally.
The web is where they can compete with big companies. In traditional outbound marketing and advertising, they couldn't. But, on the web, in their area, they can win because they can focus their online marketing dollars and activities on "Birmingham, AL house designs
", for example. Whereas the big guys won't be able to focus on just one city as intensely.
But, this has been just a theory for awhile. It is a rare small business that has been doing this for years
But, now it's possible for small businesses to compete without any outside resources. The tools are available and the knowledge is digestable and it's all at the right price point. Small businesses can bring their marketing in house, and measure their return on time spent.
The big reason for this is "Local SEO".
Two of the guys that are more obsessed than me just released their "Local SEO" predictions for 2008: Andrew Shotland
and Greg Sterling
. Worth reading if you don't want to take my word for it - that this might be the year of the small business on the web.
This is part of a series of posts
about how to get free links pointing to your website
in order to raise your search engine rankings and generate direct traffic from other websites.Site: Aboutus.org
is a wiki, a website that anyone can edit, similar to wikipedia. Except, Aboutus.org's goal is to create a wiki about people, websites and topics. Whereas Wikipedia is a wiki about topics and things. If you try to build a page on wikipedia about you or your business it'll probably be deleted, unless you are Steve Jobs, Warren Buffet, GE or Microsoft. Aboutus.org encourages you to do it. Quick Instructions
: Your first step is to create a page for yourself. They want you to use your real name. You should. Here's my page
. Notice that I created two links under "My websites" for PC4Media and Hive411: Online Business Growth Network
and Online Networking and Link Building for Local Businesses
with good anchor text
. You'll need to learn how to create a link in a wiki
, which is different than writing html, but very easy. Your next step is to create a domain page for your website. Follow the directions about "Domain pages
". Here's mine
. Assuming your website is designed well, it automatically grabs a title, description and logo when it creates your domain page. Don't forget to go and add additional links that point to important parts of your website with the right anchor text. I created a link called "link building" which points to my blog tag page on "link building". I'll be adding more as I blog more about keyword research, content management, lead generation and lead tracking, etc.
You can also add your business to topic pages. I added HubSpot and PC4Media to the internet marketing page
. Also, if you have the cash, consider sponsoring a portal
Those instructions didn't turn out to be so quick. However, your time spent on Aboutus.org building links will be well worth it. Here's why...Benefits of Getting a Link from It:
- Search Engine Optimization. Hell yeah. Here's Aboutus.org's website grader report. Aboutus.org has a page rank of 5/10. Google thinks aboutus.org is important: They've indexed 650k+ pages of the site. Further, you can create any link on your page - within reason and with good faith - with good anchor text. Link building sites don't get any better than Aboutus.org. And the nicest thing about Aboutus.org, if the community continues to keep out the riff-raff, it's creating a really worthwhile service for all of us.
- Secondary Search Result. Again, I'm going to go with "Hell Yeah". If you are going to have another website come up in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) for a search for your name, wouldn't you want it to be one that you can edit? That's what Auboutus.org does. We'll give it a day or two, but I'm hoping that Aboutus.org edges out the guy that owns pc4media.com in a search for pc4media. This guy is definitely capitalizing on the pseudo-popularity of my blog. He hasn't built a website for someone in at least 2 years.
- Direct Traffic. Yes again. Although probably without the "hell" prefix. According to the website grader report, Alexa puts Aboutus.org in the top 1% of traffic garnering websites out there. But, my guess is that most of the traffic comes from search engines and leaves fairly promptly. But, I bet there are also some power users on there. Probably SEO professionals. Regardless, I'd expect some traffic from it as if it were a rest stop or reference check between you and the search engines.
This is part of a series of posts
about how to get free links pointing to your website
in order to raise your search engine rankings and generate direct traffic from websites.
. Ok. I own this site. But, that's a good thing. It is designed from the ground up to help small businesses be more findable. There are NOT many sites out there like that - that are free. That's why we built it. Here's some press coverage
of it that explains what it is all about. Quick Instructions:
Go to the site and search for what you do in the town that you do it. (Eg Residential Contractor in Worcester MA
) Then, scroll down and click "Add New Nomination". Enter your website address and other contact information for your business. Encourage other people to vote for you by sending them a link to it. Then, nominate and vote for other people in order to get more visibility and votes for your business. Benefit of a Link from it:
- Local Search Engine Optimization: If you're a business that does business locally, your website should be designed to attract local traffic from search engines. For example, if you're a cosmetic surgery place in Southborough, MA you should also be getting visitors from google who type in "rhinoplasty boston ma". If your website isn't designed to do that, we should talk. But, even though your website is designed to catch that traffic, you still need links pointing to your website that confirm that your website is about that. Do you really expect google, yahoo, msn and ask to just believe you? So, that's what Hive411 allows you to do. It helps locally focussed businesses get a link that helps them attract local traffic to their website.
- Secondary Search Result: Hive411 also acts as permanent endorsement of your business. The nomination that you create on Hive411 is likely to be found in the search engines too. (The site gets lots of traffic from search engines.) Since your clients, friends and family can vote that you're the best "Home Designer in Birmingham, Alabama", you can get to the top of each page if you rally your supporters. Also, it shows who voted for you. So, if John Smith voted for you and Barry "I'm looking for a house plan" Jones knows and trusts John, Barry is more likely to want to hire you to design his house.
- Direct Traffic from the Site: The site also drives some traffic to people directly. The site is pretty viral and gets a decent amount of repeat traffic where people are using it to actually search for things. I anticipate this will happen more often in the future, as more businesses are nominated. However, you can control how many times you get seen on the site by doing a few things. Your business gets automatically rewarded when you nominate and vote for other people like Russ did. So, spend some time clicking around and voting for people you know. Or spend some time nominating new businesses. If you want to send an excel spreadsheet, we'll even bulk upload a bunch of nominations and notify them that you nominated them. They'll be likely to return the favor, getting you more votes and more visibility.