Q&A with Jon Hainstock of Zoomshift on driving leads & customers

Posted by Steve James on Jul 11, 2013 7:33:00 AM

jon hainstock zoomshiftJon Hainstock (@jonhainstock) is co-founder of Zoomshift, an Online Employee Scheduling Software company. A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to grab lunch with both Jon and co-founder Ben Bartling (@benbartling). As a startup with a limited budget they have strategically used SEO and Inbound Marketing to build their traffic and more importantly drive leads and customers. They have a great product and story, hope you enjoy!!
 

Q: What is Zoomshift, who is it for?

A: ZoomShift is simple employee scheduling software for small businesses. We really focus on solving the scheduling problem for businesses with under 100 employees.

zoomshift software

Q: What marketing/advertising have you done in the past?

A: We’ve tried cold calling, direct mail, Facebook ads, Google AdWords, PR and SEO to try to build awareness and increase leads.

Q: What marketing initiatives have worked the best?

A: SEO has been the best marketing channel for us. Interruption (outbound) marketing wasn’t working well for us, mostly because business owners were not ready to change their scheduling process, even if it was terrible. When someone is actively searching for a solution, they are usually fed up with their process, and are ready to try something new.

Q: How does content marketing play a role in your daily activities?

A: We spend a lot of time interacting with customers everyday via support and chat, and we are able to build better content based on their feedback. Our initial goals were to climb the SERP’s for a handful of keywords, but now we are really focusing on using the language of our customers to build better content.

Blogging gives us the ability to build trust and provide fresh insights on how small businesses can streamline their processes. We are also tweaking existing content and building new pages on a daily basis to test if they will be valuable for our SEO campaign.

Q: What tools do you use for your inbound marketing/seo efforts?

A: We use Juxseo, an on-page SEO grader, to optimize the content on our site. We have also used Scribe to make sure our content is valuable and readable for our target market. We use Positionly to track rankings on a day to day basis. We track domain authority and trust with Moz’s tools.

Q: What are the results so far?

A: We are always amazed at how well SEO works. While SEO is only one arm of the inbound game, it brings in over 60 signups every week, and converts into around 3-5 paid customers per week, all on it’s own. Some of these conversions had assists from social interactions or referrals, but a majority of them convert from a keyword.

Q: What advice would you give to help others with their SEO strategy?

A: Go for the low hanging fruit. Start by doing a lot of keyword research, using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool, Google Suggestions, and Übersuggest to give you keyword ideas. Then find the keywords with the most search volume, highest buying intent and the lowest competition. Use those keywords as the main pages of your site and as categories for your blog.

 


About the Author: Steve James is a partner at Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing agency specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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Topics: off page seo, Steve James, SEO, business blogging, inbound marketing, search_engine_optimization, stream creative

Client's Social Responsibility Campaign Yields Big Results

Posted by Jeff Coon on Jun 27, 2013 7:37:00 AM

Create marketing that offers 3-for-1 specials

The other day I was at our local watering hole, enjoying its regular "Happy Hour 2-for-1 Special," when it occurred to me that the recent social marketing campaign we helped develop with West Bend Insurance to "Avoid Distracted Driving" was a super mega "3-for-1 special". Because when companies like West Bend support worthy causes, they create this "3-for-1" effect — with values and benefits that are passed along to:

  1. The Cause
  2. The Company
  3. Their Customers (or the general public)

One of West Bend's core principles is to give back to the communities it serves—its employees are very active in the community, so this campaign supported its culture and brand. At Stream, we believe in supporting like-minded companies such as West Bend, so to be a part of a program that offers this kind of value is personally rewarding. And it doesn't hurt that having a "meaningful brand" makes a brand stronger, more engaging and 120% more valuable, according to a study done by Havas Media.

The Campaign

This 5-week campaign, launched through the West Bend Cares program, featured the following content elements:

The Results

West Bend received a lot of positive feedback from their associates, customers and independent agents network. After 5 weeks, the results of the campaign elements listed above have garnered:

  • 1,200+ Page Views
  • 200+ Leads
  • 700+ requests for bracelets
  • 220+ Facebook Likes
  • 65+ LinkedIn Shares
  • 40+ Tweets

This campaign also caught the attention of a national safety organization that will be featuring West Bend and their commitment to promoting safety, recognizing West Bend as a thought leader in this area.

Marketing Takeaway

Businesses should continually look for ways to align their personal passions and company message platforms. In short, find a cause you believe in to support! If you don't currently have one, ask your employees — surely, they'll have one that is near and dear to their heart.

The benefits of social marketing can be:

  • Increased brand awareness/PR
  • Increased trust for your company, showing the personal side of your business
  • A boost in company morale (team-building at its best)
  • Positioning your firm as a thought leader
  • A warm fuzzy feeling deep within your soul knowing that you made a difference (and that my friends, is priceless)

In closing, do some good. Leave the world a better place and "Happy Hour" will lead to many Happy Hours for you, your company and your cause.

What causes do you support? How have your efforts resulted in a 3-for-1 special?


About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director at Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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Topics: blogging for business, inbound marketing, stream creative, distracted driving

Paving Company Kicking Asphalt with Inbound Marketing

Posted by Jeff Coon on May 24, 2013 6:28:00 AM

Wolf Paving, an asphalt paving and manufacturing company located in Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin, has seen the real benefits of committing to an inbound marketing plan. What has success looked like for Wolf Paving? Here's a quick overview:

  • 44% increase in the number of calls for quotes compared to the same time last year
  • 92% increase in online quote requests compared to the same time last year
  • Improved search rankings for terms - “Milwaukee Paving Companies” & “Madison Paving Companies
  • Increased media coverage
  • Recognition from peers and industry trade publications

With the help of Stream Creative, Wolf Paving has been successfully practicing inbound marketing for over 2 years - blogging weekly, developing case studies, creating eBooks, landing pages, calls-to-action, etc.

If you take a look at the graphs below, you'll see the consistent growth that Wolf Paving has had. Organic traffic has increased by 172% since 2011 and online requests for quotes has increased by 140%.

Wolf Paving Organic Traffic 2yrs

Wolf Paving Contacts 2yrs

Looking to make an even bigger impact this year during "quoting season", Stream Creative and Wolf Paving decided to add some traditional and paid media to the marketing plan.

Mary Jo Preston, Stream Creative's Senior Marketing Consultant and Media Planner/Buyer, worked with Wolf Paving and local and national media outlets to put together a very strategic plan that not only supported the existing inbound marketing plan but was also VERY targeted at Wolf Paving's market.

The results of these efforts, as outlined in the graph below, were a 44% increase in the number of phone calls received (compared to the same time frame the year before), as well as a 92% increase in the number of visitors requesting a quote online.

Wolf Paving Request a Free Quote

In addition to the increased lead volume, Wolf Paving has also been recognized as a thought leader by industry trade publications and has received media coverage from local TV stations, most recently being featured for a story on pothole repair.

When asked why the TV Station chose Wolf Paving, the station admitted that they found them via online search. When arriving at Wolf Paving's website, it looked like Wolf Paving was the right company to talk to.

Wolf Paving has received similar inquiries regarding other services, such as porous asphalt paving. A contractor contacted Wolf because, in his words, "Wolf Paving is clearly the expert on this topic."

When is outbound marketing effective?

When it's part of a bigger inbound marketing plan. The boost in visibility is most effective when you have the credibility and foundational elements in place that help convert new website visitors into potential new customers.

What outbound or paid media techniques have you found to be successful? Do you think they'd be as effective without an inbound marketing plan already in place?


About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director at Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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Topics: case study, outbound marketing, paid media, inbound marketing, stream creative

Does your business need a mobile app?

Posted by Jeff Coon on Feb 10, 2013 9:00:00 AM

5 steps to perform a mobile auditDoes your business need a mobile app? Before investing a lot of resources into developing a mobile app, be sure that it's the right thing for your company and your audience.

Below are 5 steps to perform a mobile A.U.D.I.T.

A = Audience

Is your audience ready for a mobile app? Even the best mobile apps will be rendered useless if your audience and customers aren't tech savvy individuals. The number of people with smartphones increases dramatically every day, but that doesn't mean that all smartphone owners are power users of mobile apps. 

"While usage continues to increase for native apps as a category, the typical user is working with only a handful of apps," said Christian Gurney, President & CEO of Torsion Mobile. He added "The abandonment rate for installed apps is very significant. So the value proposition for continued app use must be very strong."

So, how do you know if your audience consumes your content via their mobile device? 

You can start by reviewing your website analytics. If you have Google Analytics installed on your website, you can view the number of visitors accessing your website via mobile. This may give you a rough indication of mobile popularity amongst your audience. Combine this data with industry reports on mobile usage for your audience demographics and consider asking a large sampling of your existing customers about their mobile usage.

"With 800,000 Apple AppStore and 600,000 Google Play apps, random discovery and installation of a native app is a low percentage proposition. So any native app you produce will require marketing efforts to get to your customers and prospects," said Gurney.

U = Understanding Mobile

Understand the difference between a mobile app and a mobile-optimized website. Your company may not need a full mobile app. Rather, a website that is optimized for mobile viewing may be all you need. 

There are great mobile website builders such as Mojaba, a tool created by Gurney's team at Torsion Mobile, that allow companies to quickly create a mobile website. Mojaba can help you create a mobile presence that leverages smartphone functionality, such as geolocation services and click-to-call buttons, while presenting information following best-practices for mobile viewing.

At Stream Creative, we use Mojaba and appreciate the ease-of-use and robust functionality that it offers. Our clients appreciate having a tool that allows them to make updates to their mobile website without having to write a line of code.

D = Determine Goals and Budget

What are the goals of your mobile experience? Is it simply to showcase your product/service or are you creating a custom tool that requires functionality such as using your phone's camera? Outlining the specific goals and functionality of your mobile experience will help determine whether you need a full mobile app or if a mobile-optimized website will do the trick.

Here's a list to help you determine when a full mobile app might be your best option:

  • Frequent use and personalization - will users need to login frequently to see highly personalized information (ie: robust dashboard info)?
  • Complex interactive games - will your game require your phone's processing power?
  • Camera access - will your app need the ability to take and upload photos?
  • No Internet connection needed - will your app need to run natively on the phone, with or without Internet connectivity?

If your goals are more marketing and communication driven, then a mobile website is probably the right fit for your company. If your goal is to create a complex data processing tool, then a mobile app might be your best option.

The other obvious thing to consider is your budget. 

Creating a mobile website is much more cost-effective then developing a mobile app. Native apps, obviously depending on features and supported platforms, can be significantly more expensive to produce. And each time the operating system is updated, it may be necessary to update the app (e.g., iPhone 5 and iOS 6 - different screen height). Native app developers are scarcer, which can drive up the cost of development. It's easier to teach a web developer mobile site principles than it is to make them into app developers.

I = Information

What content are you going to present to your audience? Think through what your users will be interested in if they are viewing your website via their mobile device. Be sure to look at your website analytics to see which content is the most popular amongst your audience.

The goal is to make your mobile website a more streamlined experience. Users are less likely to browse your site on their mobile device. They are more task-driven, looking for specific information quickly. Some things your users might be looking for are:

  • Store hours
  • Driving directions
  • Phone number (click-to-call button)
  • Menu (in the case of a restaurant)
  • Pricing
  • Job openings

Make your action-oriented content very easy to find on your mobile website. You can give users the option to "View your full website" if they so choose. This will allow them to browse your full desktop website in the event that they want to read your blog and learn more about your company.

"Native apps and mobile websites are not mutually exclusive. Giving smartphone visitors a mobile website experience today helps you gather information on what those users are trying to accomplish. This data is valuable in narrowing down the feature sets for native app development," said Gurney.

T = Timing

Since mobile websites are using HTML5, CSS and JavaScript, the time necessary to produce something is generally much shorter than a native app. In many cases a native app can approach 12 weeks for production. A mobile-optimized web experience will be far, far shorter.

Gurney added, "The great thing about the mobile web is that you can do something very quickly and update as you learn more - all the while actually engaging and listening to customers."

Having the ability to publish something quickly, in smaller iterations and analyze how people are using your mobile website can save you thousands of dollars in development. Again, why create a robust app if no one is going to use it!

Is your company considering developing a mobile app? What problems will your app solve? What tools have you considered? What other steps would you add to this audit? Please share you comments below.

About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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Topics: how-to, Mobile Websites, Mobile Apps, Mobile Website Builders, stream creative

Case Study: How A Very Small Business Increased Leads 300% with 3 New Landing Pages

Posted by Steve James on Jan 16, 2013 7:31:00 AM

Marketing Challenge

RIDE Adventures is in a unique type of travel business with a dependency on keywords that have relatively low search volume. (For example: “Motorcycle Tours”) In an initiative to increase Top of the Funnel (TOFU) leads through their website, Eric Lange, the owner of RIDE Adventures recognized they would have to gain new visits and contacts through keywords and topics that are more widely searched for by their prospective customers. After thorough keyword research and analysis, he confirmed that not only were keywords like “Motorcycle Gear” and “Motorcycle Travel” pertinent to their customers’ interests, but they also had remarkably higher search volume than keywords directly focused on what RIDE Adventures was selling.

The Solution

As RIDE Adventures had already been committed to creating resourceful content in blogging and videos, similar topics were also formed into downloadable whitepapers, free for visitors and researchers to enjoy. In some cases these whitepapers already existed, as they were being provided to customers upon bookings for motorcycle tours anyway. The difference in late 2012 was that instead of these whitepapers only being offered to existing customers, they were placed as calls to action (CTAs) throughout the website, as well as built into a specific page dedicated to “Free Motorcycle Travel Information.”  More content, more keywords, and more offers have led not only to an increase in visits to their website, but an amazing spike in TOFU contacts is being enjoyed as well. (Screenshots taken January 10, 2013)

ride adventure solution1

An important point to make note of (shown in the next screenshot below) is how the previous couple of years of blogging and creating content had definitely increased traffic to the web site, but TOFU leads were not increasing at the same rate. As we’re constantly reminded, “content is king,” and especially helpful if your company’s ideal keywords also have high search volume. However, in the event there isn’t high search volume for your ideal keywords, creating pertinent content on “secondary” topics related to what we’re selling is what’s needed in order see such a spike in TOFU leads.

ride adventure solution2

In addition to creating the whitepaper download offers themselves, each click by a visitor was leading them to very specific landing pages made in accordance with Hubspot’s 10 Best Practices For Landing Page development. Whereas many of these best practices had previously been overlooked or ignored by RIDE Adventures, implementation of such key features into these new pages has seen conversion rates as high as 34% as compared to their more antiquated landing pages, which tend to average around 10% conversion rates. The combination of a great offer found through pertinent keywords and a well-designed landing page is proving quite fruitful to RIDE Adventures.

This strategy helps RIDE Adventures not only in gaining more contacts, but also in terms of credibility and content as well. TOFU leads that receive these whitepapers are benefitting from the vast information provided and often coming back for a 2nd, 3rd, or 4thdownload later. Stream Creative had been consulting with RIDE Adventures and reminding them of the importance of being seen as authority on the topics their customers are interested in. As a result, customers keep coming back for more, which sets up the groundwork for workflows to be created that drive more leads to become actual customers.

ride adventure results landing page

It goes without saying that all the content, all the keywords, meta tags, and inbound links that stem from these new offers are contributing to the RIDE Adventures search engine rankings as well. In fact, the content provided in each whitepaper has been offered in short segments on their blog as well and helps the search engines discover each page and therefore each call to action leading them to a landing page.

The Results

Well, you can see them! Not only have unique visits continued to increase for RIDE Adventures, but in the final 3 months of 2012, their contact database actually doubled over what they had accumulated the previous 24 months of being in business. In addition: a) unique visits are reaching all-time highs and at steeper rates than what were typically realized, b) customers are seeing RIDE Adventures as an authority on a subject they’re interested in, and c) inquiries about the actual services RIDE Adventures is in business to provide have risen dramatically as well! Their outlook for 2013 as the 3rd year in business is looking brighter than ever before, and customers are feeling it as well.

 

About the Author: Steve James is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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Topics: keyword research, keyword discovery, measurable marketing, business blogging, inbound marketing, content marketing, stream creative

The Fundamentals of Middle Of The Funnel Marketing [Infographic]

Posted by Steve James on Dec 13, 2012 8:02:00 AM

This infographic was created by Steve James (@steve_james), a Partner at Stream Creative (@streamcreative), a Milwaukee inbound marketing agency and Gold HubSpot Certified partner. This is the second infographic for their inbound marketing series on the topic of Middle Of The Funnel (MoFu) Marketing.

Feel free to share this on your blog by copying the html code below the graphic or pinning it on pinterest using the button below.

Middle of the Funnel (MOFU) Infographic

New to Infographics? See this infographic about infographics on the HubSpot blog.

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Topics: marketing funnel, lead generation, stream creative, inbound marketing agency, content creation

Using the iPad and LinkedIn to Grow your Network

Posted by Jeff Coon on Nov 13, 2012 9:03:00 AM

Using the iPad for businessAre you looking for creative ways to use the iPad for business? Have you ever wanted to do more with your LinkedIn Connections? In this article, I'll share some ideas on how you can do both to help grow your network and strengthen relationships with your current customers.

I had the opportunity to interview Tom Boudreau of R&R Insurance (a client of ours). Tom is a Commercial Insurance Account Executive who was looking to provide better resources for his current and prospective customers. Tom was kind enough to share his thoughts and process in how he's using his iPad and LinkedIn network to do a "52 in 52" video interview series featuring Wisconsin business professionals.

Below is a recap of my interview with Tom:

Q: Tom, what is "52 in 52"?
A: "52 in 52" is a video interview series where I'm interviewing 52 Wisconsin Business Professionals, with nothing but my iPad, over a time period of 52 weeks. I've wanted to do this "52 in 52" initiative for years, but it took time to build my network of Wisconsin experts. I am now in a position in my career to leverage the collective expertise of my network. They are a great group of people and I'm happy to be able to share their knowledge in a way that can help all of us grow our businesses.

Q: Where did the idea come from?
A: I sell business insurance like a lot of individuals. But my goal is not only to be the best at that, but to also help my clients build their businesses — whether it's insurance related or not. "52 in 52" is my attempt at putting the "social" back in my social networking.

I really wanted to offer my clients and prospective clients something of value. I also wanted to do something with my LinkedIn Connections. In the past, I was simply accepting new connection requests on LinkedIn and then not doing much more with it. I wanted to reach out to my network and learn more about what their businesses do to see if they could help my clients. Ultimately, my goal of "52 in 52" is to share knowledge.

Q: How has this worked for you?
A: It's been great! I'm spending an hour with each individual for the interview - and prior to that we're communicating about what we'll be discussing in that interview and what we can provide the audience as a leave-behind.

It's really strengthening my relationship with these individuals. This process is kind of a bonding process. I share with them the analytics and they feel that I'm truly trying to help them - and that's my goal.

This has also resulted in new and additional business for me. I had a client that I was working with sign an 'Agency of Record' letter for additional services because he appreciated the fact that I was differentiating myself from other insurance agents and working hard to help my clients grow their businesses.

I've also had several opportunities present themselves in ways that I didn't expect. Just by staying in front of my clients, I'm having them refer opportunities my way, as well as introduce me to other professionals that help me strengthen my business network. Even beyond the sales, this has helped build brand awareness for me in a way that doesn't come across as salesy.

Q: How has this benefited your network?
A: It's been very beneficial for them as well. As an example, the interview I posted a couple weeks ago resulted in business leads for the individual being interviewed. A couple hours after I sent out the email to my network letting them know that I posted the new video, three people reached out to me asking to have my guest speaker contact them about quoting some business. It really was a win, win, win for all of us involved.

Q: From a production standpoint, how are you doing the video interviews?
A: I'm using nothing but my iPad set up on a tripod. My father-in-law was kind enough to let me set up a little studio at their office (Circular Marketing in Waukesha, WI). I purchased a couple lights and printed up a sign, but the rest of it is just setting up the iPad and shooting the interview.

I purchased the iMovie App for the iPad and do the editing right on my iPad. When completed, I upload the video to our YouTube Channel and then with your help (Stream Creative), we build out the blog post, create a landing page and upload the leave-behind piece.

When those pieces are in place, I create an email in SubscriberMail and send that out to my network. From start to finish, including the interview, the entire process takes about 4 hours.

Q: In closing, do you have anything else you'd like to share with readers?
A: As a sales person we try very hard to get that initial meeting to learn what our prospects' businesses are all about and where R&R Insurance can help them. Through these "52 in 52" interviews, I can ask these same questions through a totally different process that doesn't feel like I'm selling to them - which I'm not selling - I'm trying to help them reach a new audience, and they get a better value out of that.

If I had to do something different, it would be finding a way to shorten the final videos - but I just can't find a way to get them between three to five minutes without cutting out a lot of the content or sacrificing the personal element involved with these interviews.

Overall, this has been a great experience!

So how are you engaging with your LinkedIn Network? How are you using your iPad for business? Please share any of your ideas in the comment section below.

About the Author: Jeff Coon is a partner and creative director of Stream Creative, a certified HubSpot partner and full service digital marketing and design firm specializing in inbound marketing, web design and development, and social media.

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Topics: online networking, online business networking, online referrals, iPad, Tom Boudreau, inbound networking, linkedin, stream creative

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