Category

Inbound Marketing

6 Advantages To Business’s Using Instagram for Marketing

By | Inbound Marketing, Instagram | No Comments

Instagram for businessAdvantages of Instagram for Businesses

Instagram is a powerful & rapidly growing social media platform you can use to boost the bottom line of your business quickly. In this post we will discuss some of the advantages to using Instagram to reach and engage new audiences for your products or services.

The audience on Instagram tends to be younger and likely to share their daily experiences with others using visual methods including photos and short videos.  These experiences may include their interactions with your busienss..or your competition.  What will that experience include, and will you be aware of that person’s sharing of your business?

Advantages of Instagram for Businesses

Promotion

Use Instagram to post awesome photos about your firm`s services and products and avoid any kind of boring, text-heavy images or infographics. In addition, show the world you have style while on Instagram by telling them who you are and the things you do. An example of a company taking advantage of Instagram’s growing popularity and visual appeal is Starbucks. Starbucks does an amazing job at Instagram. The firm posts quirky pictures of cake pops, frothing milk and other items for its 858,000 followers at Instagram on a daily basis. A bit of caution here, don’t over post. A good number of posts in a day is 4 to 5 but over posting, especially in a short time frame, will prove to be a turn off to your audience.

Photo Contests

Taking a photo for InstagramA photo contest is a great, free way to interact, attract and even convert your potential clients. Ask your followers to post personalized photos of your services or products, and then post the best ones on your website. Additionally let them know you will publish the “photo of the day” on a regular basis. Ask your followers to submit as many captions for your firm`s photos as they can. This will drive interest in your Instagram page, and your website.

Attract Fans and Boost Sales

Instagram can be a great way to boost sales and attract more followers to your company by promoting coupon codes and exclusive discounts. You can do this with any of your services and products. Furthermore, you can use Facebook and Twitter to drive even more traffic to your Instagram images by giving away secret discount codes and any kind of sneak peek you can think of. Creating exclusivity and preferred status for specific audiences is a proven method of driving engagement and traffic further.

Keep Your Customers Informed

Instagram will allow you to keep your customers informed by posting snapshots of your company in a friendly way. For instance, you can post photos of your employees taking a short break and playing chess, playing office games or presenting on relevant topics. In addition, you can use pictures snapped in parties, industry events, charity dinners, and many other places. Enforcing the image of your brand has never been easier thanks to Instagram as you will be able to post behind-the-scenes photos. One account that is great at doing this is Hootsuite.  They constantly post images of events and a day in the life of their employees.

Instagram for Businesses to Engage Your Customers

Use the @mention to promote the “follower of the day” on Instagram, and you will engage a lot of potential customers right away. This will Instagram photos of sunflowers and girlpromote your clients which will encourage them to work with you even further. The @mention is used to tag any user in comments inside Instagram, and you can employ it generate the growth of your audience over time. This method can develop a relevant & engaged audience of high value to your brand or business.

You can also use hashtags (#) as a method of growing your audience.  As they do on Twitter and Facebook hashtags attract people to your posts because people are searching for them.  Using relevant and trending hashtags will garner more attention from users of Instagram that otherwise might never see your posts or account.

15 Second Comercials

Instragram allows users to upload short videos, up to 15 seconds in length.  Some businesses including car & clothing manufacturers have already used this service to create quick videos that show their products in creative and interesting ways. While Instagram is working on developing a paid advertising service using these short videos there is no reason why a brand or business couldn’t create videos to showcase their products, services or message.  Entertaining, creative and unique messaging will like engage your audience the most.

3o0,000,000

Instagram is growing a rapid pace, and recently surpassed the 300 million mark. Accounts are free and uploading pictures and short videos is quick and easy. Why wouldn’t you want to get started?

Instagram can take your business to an entirely new level while engaging an audience you might not have reached otherwise. This does come with some social business responsibilities. Over posting, purchasing followers and spamming users can be detrimental to your brand image.  You should also avoid posting boring images of your services or products. Think of Instagram as a means to get even more sales over time as well as a service to engage even more customers. Don’t think of Instagram as a method to a quick sale, or you will fail in your marketing campaign.

Ready to start marketing on Instagram? Not sure if Instagram is the right avenue for your business?  Speak with an expert at Scott Gombar Inbound Marketing Agency for free.  We’ll review your plan and offer suggestions to jump start your inbound marketing.

My Client Deserved to be Fired

By | Inbound Marketing, SEO, Small Business | One Comment

Why I Fired My Inbound Marketing Client

I quit on my clientIt’s not me, it’s you!  I want to break up, I want a divorce.  Yes, it’s true..I fired a client. I am sure all business owners have been there at some point.  That one client who just isn’t worth the effort.

Let me explain..

It’s a Marathon, not a Sprint!

I was hired to improve a small business’ inbound marketing efforts, as I often am.  When I am hired I make sure to help them understand while every effort is made to achieve immediate results it often takes time, sometimes months.  With this particular client I explained this to him several times over the course of two weeks before he agreed to hire me.

I also agreed to allow payments in installments as the cost was a concern to him.  Don’t get me wrong, I completely understood his hesitation especially after working with several so called SEO people in the past.  You see these SEO Experts did not really do anything, at least nothing that translates to Google Dominance.

After a down payment the real work began. Let me lay the ground work for you. His website was not optimized at all.  He was also using the free version of Weebly which has limitations.  He was not willing to switch.  I even designed a brand new site in WordPress which he balked at. So I worked within these limitations.

Before I continue I want to be clear that inbound marketing requires more than Google Dominance now. Don’t get me wrong, Google is a big part of my marketing road map for EVERY client but it’s not the only avenue.  This client did have a dormant Facebook Page which required cleaning up and was non existent on every other social platform.  He did not have a blog (and still doesn’t against my recommendation).

I developed his Twitter account and quickly established a base of over 100 followers, more than 80% from CT, along with a small It's a marathon, not a sprintcampaign.  I established a business page for him on Google+ and began developing a following.

His traffic in the beginning of this campaign was a big fat ZERO! His traffic increased daily with most of the real traffic coming from cities he was targeting.  I showed him the results of my efforts only to be told “But I am not on the first page of Google”.  I let him know that we are working on better Search Engine Placement but these things can take time (for the 6th or 7th time). After-all, what we all want is more sales.

Oh Ye Of Little Patience

Five weeks into his marketing campaign with continued positive results but he still wasn’t on the first page of Google for a particular keyword phrase. Traffic is there, people are engaged and interacting with him but he is still not on the first page of Google which was his only focus. He lost site of the bigger picture.  We had a discussion of sorts that led to me explaining again that it takes time and the results will come. He stated he was losing patience and felt like the money he had spent (only half of the agreed upon rate) was for naught.  I suggested that if he felt this way we could discontinue the agreement and part ways to which he agreed.

That was 10 days ago as of this writing.  I am the type of person who when told it can’t be done will set out to prove you wrong so I was still monitoring the results of the keyword phrase he was so interested in placing on the front page for.  Today he is on the first page of Google competing with some of the biggest providers of his service in CT.

If after you read this you still want to Learn how my services can help you increase sales use the form to the right to contact me!

 

Is SEO dead?

By | content marketing, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing, SEO, Social Media | One Comment

SEO is DeadI have seen dozens, maybe more, posts claiming SEO is dead.  People tell me all the time they will not invest in SEO because it’s a waste of time or Google doesn’t care if you rank.   Well I am here to tell you SEO is dead!   I am also here to tell you SEO is not dead.  Confused yet?  Good!

SEO Is Dead

SEO as you probably came to know it is dead.  Gone are the days of getting your site added to every directory known to man.   Forgotten are the web pages stuffed with keywords that made no senses to the human reader.  Left back are the link farms who’s sole purpose was to increase your page rank.  That’s right, the short cut (black hat) methods of SEO are dead.

In that sense SEO is in fact dead.  Does that mean you shouldn’t concern yourself with search engine ranking on Google, Yahoo and Bing?  Absolutely not.

You see from the dust of past SEO black hatters rises a new crop of marketers who have been doing things right all along.  They take on many titles such as Inbound Marketer, Digital Marketer, Internet Marketer, New Media Marketer and some still call themselves SEO Experts.   They all do pretty much the same thing.  At one time marketing a company on the internet involved only what is now considered black-hat SEO methods and email marketing (many times spam).  Today that is not the case.

The fact is SEO should be a part of your overall inbound marketing campaign.

SEO Is Not Dead

Today some of the key components still exist.  You should have keywords in your content, so long as your content makes sense toSEO Is Dead human beings.  You should have authoritative links to and from sites, just not from spammy sites or irrelevant sites.  You should make sure your titles and urls match keywords whenever possible.  And there are a lot of other considerations when it comes to HTML mark up and related website material.

However; to win the marketing game, that is to beat your competitors you need to include some other avenues of marketing.  Just take a look around the site and you will see it is everything that I do!  Oh, you prefer it to be in one nice neat post?  You got it!

Here are some of the other pieces of the inbound marketing puzzle:

Social Media Marketing-Sounds simple but it’s not.  Marketing on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc..) can be very complex.  For starters you need to know your target audience, then you need to know how to engage them, and eventually convert them.

You also have to consider industry specific social media platforms, or local platforms.  For example, for Real Estate Investors there’s BiggerPockets.com.

Social Media Marketing can also be very time consuming.  You have to develop a qualified audience (don’t go for those 10,000 followers for $20 deals), engage the audience and work on converting them without coming across as a pushy salesman.   This takes time and lots of energy and patience.  It also takes a thick skin at times.

Email Marketing-Email marketing has been around for some time but has evolved slightly.   Email marketing fell out of the graces of legitimate marketers because of the abundance of spam email.  It’s estimated that arounbd 80% of all email is spam.  Marketers moved away for fear of being labeled as spam, or being drowned out by spam.

Today’s inbox is much more intelligent than that of years prior.  Spam is filtered much better now which allows legitimate correspondence to arrive in the audience’s inbox because they have said they want to see this.

Videos-Probably one of the fastest ways to gain traction on Google is through YouTube.   Don’t believe me?  Google “CT Twitter Expert”.  Because YouTube is owned by Google it helps to have videos on their platform.  Probably more important is the fact people prefer audio/video over reading.  I know I do.

Guest Blogging-This is a little bit of a sticky subject right now.  Guest blogging for the sake of building link authority is not a positive route.  Guest blogging on a relevant site because you are the authority on a subject is a great way to build up your web marketing.  Matt Cutt’s of Google has stated that this strategy used for the sole purpose of link building will probably wind up getting your website penalized.

It’s really quite sad that people are not paying attention.  I get requests from people to write a blog post all the time but a little research and due diligence leads me to a negative response.  Why?  Because the person is not relevant to my site, and is obviously someone who is attempting to spam their way to the top of Google.  It won’t work!

Pay Per Click-Pay for advertising on Google has been around for a number of years now, and it’s quite effective if done properly.  What a lot of business owners don’t realize is you can do the exact same thing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and soon Instagram.

Traditional Marketing-Direct mail is more effective than it has been in years, because people’s mailboxes are empty now.  Years ago we used to get inundated with junk mail but marketers have moved on to the internet to reach new audiences.  As a result direct mail has a much higher ROI than in years past.

You can also take the traditional route of marketing at events, through traditional media (TV, Radio, Print) but that’s outside of my scope.  I do know some great marketers in those areas if you are shopping for one.

Content Marketing-Blog posts, videos, images and many other forms of content fall into this category.  Are you developing fresh content on a fairly regular basis?   In previous blog posts I have talked about the importance of having a content marketing program.  It is crucial in today’s internet marketing campaign.  If you’re not developing content you will eventually lose the battle for internet supremacy.

That sounded a bit extreme, I admit it. But it is true now.  I formed this company just over a year ago and I already show up on the first page for many of my desired keywords.  That’s because I invested the time and energy into my content, and plan to do even more soon.  Meanwhile many other marketers have fallen off the face of Google.  Hmmmm

Local SEO-It’s exactly as it sounds..building an SEO campaign that is oriented to your area.  It’s a lot easier today than it was years ago because the search engines have built some incredible tools for that.  What makes it a little more difficult is submitting to local directories and knowing which ones are going to help versus which ones will hurt.

Stop Buying Into Your Marketer’s Excuses and BS

If your marketer, or even worse, your SEO guy is still living in the past you need to kick them out.  I hate to say it but I still see tons of websites being marketed the old way of SEO.  There are no links from Social Media, no blog posts, random keywords all over the place, no video and that’s just the basics.

There’s so much more that can be done to increase your engagement and conversion rates.  If your marketing team isn’t up on the new way to market it’s time to find a new marketing team.

Get Your Inbound (Web) Marketing Program Audit for Free

 

Free Inbound Marketing Report from Scott Gombar

Free Inbound Marketing Report from Scott Gombar

 

7 Steps to Grow Your Following Responsibly on Social Media

By | Facebook, Facebook Pages, Google Plus, Google+, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing, Social Business, Social Listening, Social Media, Twitter | No Comments

Social Media is not a Popularity Contest

Popularity Contest-Not for Social MediaIf you want 2500 followers on Twitter or Instagram tomorrow I can help you for just $39.  Guess what, it won’t help your business at all!  If you think having a large number of followers is the end game on any social media platform you are sorely mistaken.  Even worse, if you have a “Social Media Expert” telling you to do this you had better run far away.

You might be wondering why I bring this up now.  I have spoken with business owners who were approached by the so called experts who tell them I will get you this many followers within this much time.  I have spoken with business owners who have taken these so called experts up on their offer.  At the end of the day the business owner walks away with a sour taste in their mouth.  Because of this the business owners often swear off social media all together.

Then when I have a conversation with them regarding a social media marketing plan the business owner is not open to the discussion at all.  I spent over a month and multiple conversations with a small business owner before they would even listen to a plan of action and why their first so called expert did not work out.   After about 5 weeks and at least 4 conversations I finally convinced them to let me show them the power of a properly run social media marketing plan.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem EARNING a clients business.  In fact I encourage all small businesses to use this model.  Taking the time to explain how social media can benefit someone who understands what social media is should not be part of earning the business.  Look at any blog and you will see the power.

What You Should Not Do on Social Media

Let’s start with very basic rules about what you should avoid like the plague.

1.  Buy Followers:  I already stated one that really gets my blood boiling.  Alright, maybe not that serious but you get the idea.   Simply paying money to gain thousands of followers will only improve someone else’s bank account.

There are networks of people/accounts that serve this single purpose.  You may have a bloated number of followers now but they will not engage with your conversation and will not purchase from you.  They are just a number to your profile page, and nothing more.

But hey, that’s cool…you’re popular now, right?

2.  Sell, Sell, Sell:  We’ve all been the victim of the pushy salesmen at the used car lot or the electronics super store.  After you’re done you need a shower because you feel so filthy.  Don’t be that person on social media.  Follow the 80:20 rule or better.  I almost never sell on social media and usually recommend that businesses do the same.  You will not build a rapport with your followers (if you used social media correctly your followers are all potential clients) using this tactic.

3.  Ignore Your Social Media:  Today people are very savvy when it comes to looking for a product or service.  Speaking from personal experience if I am looking for something I will research it first.  If I look for your business on the internet and there is little to no current information and your Facebook page is a wasteland with tumbleweeds floating around I will probably move on to the next business.

4.  Let your nephew’s best friend’s girlfriend run your social media campaign:  Do I really need to explain this?  You need experts, and you get what you paid for.  What would you tell someone who has their nephew’s best friend’s girlfriend changing their brakes?

5.  Bury Posts in Hash-tags:  #ItJustLooksChildishToMostSoIWontSayAnyThingFurtherAboutIt

What You Should Do on Social Media

1.  Target Followers by Demographics:  It’s not hard, really.  Target followers who are interested in what you are offering and are relevant to your business.  For example, I look for small to medium business owners in CT.  On some social media platforms you can even target by income level or net worth.  Why just blanket the entire population if it’s not going to help you grow your brand or business?

2.  Use Ads (Wisely):  It’s OK to use ads on social media.  In fact I encourage it.  Again, make sure that your ads are highly targeted.  Think about who your ideal customer is.  Not everyone wants what you are offering.  Ads will cost you a lot less if you focus on those that would be interested in your product and have the purchasing power to turn interest into a conversion.

3.  Create Social Conversations:  I always hear “I tried Facebook, posted a feel promotions and no one bought anything“.  Well why would they?  As I said earlier social media is about building a relationship, earning your audiences trust.  That’s how you’re going to get them to purchase from you.  You have to participate in conversations and create your own conversations.  Figure out how to get your audiences attention and then hold it.  Do they want to know more about what you do?  Do they understand how your product or service will benefit them?  You can even have conversations about stuff not even related to your business offering.

I sprinkle in personal stuff like pictures of my kids or rooting for local sports teams that I am a fan of, even the weather.  Let me tell you it’s a scorcher today in Connecticut..thank God for Central AC.   It’s OK to partake in conversations that have nothing to do with why you are on social media to begin with.

4.  Share your blog:  Ultimately you want people to visit your website.  Your website is your virtual brick and mortar store, your yellow pages ad and so much more.  It’s where your business starts and ends.  If you are using your Facebook page as your website, shame on you.

Your website will move up on the major search engines if you have relevant and fresh content.  The best way to ensure this is with a blog.  You should blog about different aspects of your business and your products or services.  You can post how to’s, videos and much, much more to generate unique and timely content that will help you move up in search rankings.

Don’t believe me?  Google “CT Twitter Expert” and look who is number 2 after I posted the Ask the Expert Call to Your YouTube and my site.

5.  Help Others with Questions:  You can LISTEN on social networks.  When someone needs help or has a question you can help them.  I know some people are thinking why would I give something that I normally charge for for free?  You have to think big picture.  That little piece of advice you give today just might generate bigger rewards tomorrow.  Even if it doesn’t, there are others watching.

I had to run to the grocery store to get chicken nuggets for my son while I was attempting to write this blog post.  While I was in the store a man approached me and asked for $2.  I don’t know what he wanted that $2 for and I will never know.  I normally don’t have cash on me but today I did, I had $7.  I could have given him the $2 but instead I gave him all $7.  Did it really cost me anything besides the $7?  I don’t believe so.  Will I be rewarded for this?  I don’t know but it certainly can’t hurt.  The point is if you’re not willing to give then you will never receive.  It’s OK to give some help with no expectations of return.

6.  Use Hash-tags in the Conversation:  I wrote earlier that hash-tag overload is a big no no.  Hash-tags are OK though.  A typical post on any social media platform from me might look like this:

5 Ways to Jump Start Your #ContentMarketing Program Today.  Learn more now!  

A few things to point out.

  • The hash-tag is part of the conversation and is legible
  • The CTA (Call To Action) is direct without making the reader believe they will have to Read More
  • By titling it 5 Ways, I also grab the audiences attention.  Readers love numbers and always think-oh, 5 steps to get going right now..I’m in.
  • I would also include an image..see next point

7.  Use Images and Videos:  A picture is worth a thousand words.  You know it, you heard it before and you heard it again.  Use pictures, audio and videos whenever possible.   I include a picture on almost every single post on Facebook and Google+, and probably about 50% of the time on Twitter.   Just don’t use copyright protected images or videos.

Stop The Madness

business woman shouting to a phone

Alright Connecticut business owners, there you have it.  Stop trying to buy and/or cheat your way to the top, it will not work.  At one time these not so ethical methods might have worked but today it’s more than obvious to anyone with some knowledge of social media what you are doing.

Some of the don’t dos above will quickly turn off your audience.  While other methods will gain nothing for your hard earned money.  So wow bother with any of them?  Stop buying your audience and start learning how to earn an audience, or call/email me.

 

 

What is Inbound Marketing?

By | Facebook, Google Plus, Google+, Inbound Marketing, Internet Marketing, Social Media | No Comments

I often see people offer a definition of Inbound Marketing that is not very accurate.  I have even seen blog posts that state Inbound Marketing is dead, and that what I do is actually Outbound Marketing.  I would have to disagree.

CT Inbound Marketing

The reason why some believe it is Outbound Marketing is because of the methods used to generate leads.  You see, typically I use a combination of methods that include posting to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and other social media outlets, blog posts, search engine optimization and online advertising.   All of these activities would be considered outbound marketing.

Traditional Marketing Efforts

Let me see if I can explain using a different method.  A large corporation that sells products or services typically has 2 sales teams.  They have an inbound sales team and an outbound sales team.

The inbound sales team has it relatively easy.  They field calls from potential clients who are already looking to purchase the product or service that the company is offering.  All the inbound sales rep has to do is take the order and possibly up-sell.  The outbound sales rep (sometimes door to door sales) is essentially cold calling.  They are trying to produce something out of nothing in reality.

What both groups have in common is a marketing team who is trying to develop brand and offering awareness.  The marketing team’s job is to make you and I aware that the company and what they are selling exists.  Traditionally they would use advertising through television, radio and magazines/newspapers.  The marketers really help the inbound sales team more so than the outbound sales team.  Well fast forward a few years and we have a new form of marketing.

Connecticut Inbound Marketing Expert

What I do is use the formula I mentioned early, although that formula is a bit simplified.  Using social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and a blog I can target people who are already interested in the product or service that a company has to offer.  In fact the targeting is so specific that most people are ready to buy when I get them to your online presence (which should be a website).

I also optimize your site (repeatedly) to get the most traffic possible, and the most interaction possible.  Getting a website to the top of Google, Bing and Yahoo is only part of the battle.  Your site also has to be ready to convert the visitor once they do come to your site.   It’s not enough to have a static page that does not engage the customer.

Finally, we may include online advertising on either social media, Google, Bing and Yahoo or a combination of social media and search engine advertising.  This method is used sparingly by me, usually more so in the early stages of a campaign.

If you want to play with the big boys you have to be prepared to put in some work.  Having an active presence on Social Media, maintaining a blog and constantly re-evaluating your website for opportunities are very time consuming but in today’s economy people are more likely to get information using the internet than any other resource.

This is a very scaled down overview of Inbound Marketing.

So Why Call It Inbound Marketing

It’s simple..all of those outbound activities serve one purpose.  The primary goal is to generate inbound traffic, and conversions.  It is the economy of the internet now.  People do not trust one sided TV or Radio commercials anymore.  And even if they showed any interest chances are they will take to the internet to find out more.  What happens if they can’t find you?  Even worse, what happens if they find your competitor first?   Can you afford that, especially after you paid all that money for the Radio or TV ad?

Inbound Marketing Funnel

This image gives more detail, some things I did not really touch on in this post including calls to action and landing pages.  Something you can see I obviously do on this site and even on my Facebook page and Twitter Account.   I can’t give away all my secrets now can I?

If you are looking to find out more about what I do just fill out the form at the bottom of the website.  If you want to see how your website performs against your competition then you might be interested in my Free Inbound Marketing Audit.

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