Inbound Marketing A through Z:
C is for Consistent (Quality) Content
This is the third installment of Inbound Marketing A through Z as part of The Inbound Marketing Week in Review.
If you have enjoyed our ebook chapters and the newsletter up until now, please add your thoughts below and enter our contest. The rules are on The Ultimate Internet Image’s home page and are very straightforward. The prizes are awesome and, given the odds so far, you have a great chance to win. Your comments and feedback are appreciated and this will be the last letter of the alphabet we will reveal publicly. The rest of the Inbound Marketing A through Z will be released to subscribers on September 7, 2010. We have moved the date back a week because of Labor Day here in the States.
On to The Inbound Marketing Week in Review:
C is for Consistent (Quality) Content…and Other Cool Stuff
The first resource I want to discuss is actually a constellation of resources quite a few of you may have heard of, they are called Graders. The Graders were developed and are offered by HubSpot.
The Graders are all available via the link provided above and include:
- The Website Grader – The Website Grader is a very useful SEO tool that measures the overall marketing effectiveness of a website. Hubspot’s Website Grader has graded over 1 million websites and has won a number of awards for this software application.
- The Alerts Grader – Hubspot’s Alerts Grader tracks and analyzes emails from Twitter and Google Alerts. This too is very useful and, if you aren’t using Google Alerts, discussed in our Inbound Marketing A through Z “A” article, you should check both out…and use Google Alerts.
- The Press Release Grader – Hubspot’s Press Release Grader evaluates and analyzes press releases and offers a marketing effectiveness score. This resource is quite useful because it analyzes your press releases for both human and search engine optimization. The dual functionality of this tool is something unique in online resources.
- The Twitter Grader – Hubspot’s Twitter Grader has been a big hit. Hubspot continues to expand the functionality and the reach of this resource. The Twitter Grader is used by many inbound marketing consultants to gage the effectiveness of both message and overall Twitter strategy. This resource is a must for anyone who uses social media, and particularly Twitter, as part of their inbound marketing strategy.
- Action Grader – This is particularly appropriate for this week’s Inbound Marketing A through Z segment below: “Call to Action”
There are a number of other Graders, to include:
- Facebook Grader – With ever-increasing demand for Facebook Personal and Business Pages, inbound marketing consultants must integrate this resource into their overall inbound marketing strategy. This tool is very useful for tracking Facebook strategy effectiveness.
- Blog Grader – In addition to Website Grader, the Blog Grader is a useful resource for every binbound marketing consultant.
- Square Grader or Foursquare Grader - If you’ve been on another planet, Foursquare may emerge as the next-best social media hit. It has already forced itself onto the social media scene by creating a niche for itself and the Square Grader is useful for understanding this latest social media platform.
- Book Grader – Are you an author who has written or is in the process of writing a book? This resource can help. Not thinking about writing a book? You should if you are serious at all about making a name for yourself and adding credibility to not only your name but to your inbound marketing consultancies online and offline image. There is no faster way to establishing yourself as an authority in your niche than to write a book. And, it is much easier than you think!
- LinkedIn Grader – Check out the overall effectiveness of your LinkedIn profile and learn how to improve it.
On the topic of Facebook, and I will deal with my own thoughts about the efficacy of Facebook as a marketing resource when we get to F – Facebook.
Note: Subscribers will have access to this and it may be quite useful for inbound marketing consultants and in fact anyone attempting to make money with Facebook.
The Social Media Marketing Formula Podcast Episode #61 – Power to the Small Business is worth a listen if you at all focused on Facebook as part of your social media and inbound marketing strategies. This podcast is also cited by Jay Ehret of The Marketing Spot, The Science and Art of Your Facebook Posting Strategy (worth a look).
The podcast takes 24 minutes but it worth the time. But don’t go yet!
PictoBrowser – PictoBrowser is a free online application that displays Picasa and Flickr images on blogs and websites. Many of the WordPress plugins, as well as applications for other websites and blogs, are just plain awful when it comes to handling Flickr and Picasa images.
PictoBrowser is very professional and displays your images better than any application of its kind that I have come across. PictoBrowser is worth the time to review, particularly if you or your client has a lot of Flickr or Picasa images…and many of them do.
Note: If you know of others that do a great job? Please let us know below! Your feedback will add to our knowledge and help all of our readers with their inbound marketing clients who have Flickr and Picasa images.
OfflineBiz – A Reprise: The OfflineBiz.com Gold Forum has been the most useful resource I have come across for inbound marketing consultants. Period! Not only does OfflineBiz offer access to an amazing forum, it offers a myriad of resources for virtually anything having to do with inbound marketing.
OfflineBiz is not only a resource for those discussing inbound marketing, OfflineBiz has all the resources and answers those of us who are doing it, every day, in the trenches need to be successful. It offers practical, nuts and bolts resources and suggestions offered nowhere else online.
It is a must for serious inbound marketing consultants!
Need to find business owners’ names, phone numbers, addresses, years in business, and more?
Watch for next week’s edition of The Inbound Marketing Week in Review, I will have several can’t miss resources for finding out anything and everything about brick and mortar businesses.
Now…Inbound Marketing A through Z:
C is for Consistent (Quality) Content and Other Cool Stuff!
There are many more C words and I hope you will add those you think of below. This list is not complete but it will be when the final ebook is distributed to subscribers on September 7, 2010.
So, anything you can add will help all of us. And, who knows? If you add a great A – Z inbound marketing term and explanation below and become a subscriber? You may win the prizes detailed on the home page…very cool prizes!
So, comment below and don’t forget to subscribe…and you will be instantly entered!
C – Content: Some people say Video is King! Others say Content is King!
If I had to choose between the two, I would have to say Content is King!
Without content there are no videos, no articles, no blog posts, and certainly no clients. Quality, consistent content results in traffic, authority, backlinks, the viral effect, and a myriad of other related benefits.
Quality content isn’t about throwing up (an appropriate phrase for many online articles!) 300-500 word articles written by people for a dollar a shot twice a day.
Quality content is about creating something unique, useful, and your own. The content you share should be a reflection of who you and your clients are. Your content must also reflect what your inbound marketing consultancy, or the business you are promoting, is all about.
Tradition – Innovation – Prosperity – Excellence – Integrity – Honesty
As Seth Godin has stated on many occasisons, and I am paraphrasing:
Good is not good enough. Your content must be remarkable…and you must ship!
In other words, if you are good, you will likely fail. If you are remarkable, you will be noteworthy and you, your client, and your content will get noticed. Once created, you need to have faith in your creation and introduce it to the world.
Will it be remarkable every time?
But if you ship on a regular basis, something most of your competition does not do, you will succeed because people will take notice.
You also need to get out from in front of the monitor and out into the world!
C – Call to Action: The call to action is one of the most neglected components in a sales presentation and/or marketing message. In any form! “Asking for the close” is the same in any sales and/or marketing situation; and that includes various forms of copy, to include sales letters, articles, even most blog posts.
In other words, you can have the greatest ad copy or sales page or article or marketing message or USP (unique selling proposition – or point) or whatever in the world…but if you don’t ask for the order? In one way, shape or form?
You will not get it!
If we get down to brass tacks and cut the bull, Inbound marketing, in fact all marketing, is as much about encouraging prospective clients and/or current clients to to one thing:
While this is not the place for an in depth discussion on this topic, I believe fear of failure and the inability to close (or even ask for the order) is due to fear of rejection.
If you don’t ask for the order?
No one can reject your offer!
You must be closing every minute of every day, in one way or another, if you hope to succeed long term in sales and marketing. And, like it or not, we are all in sales; and, inbound marketing consulting is sales! Does this have to be hard sell, in your face closing? Of course not! In fact, that type of selling will not work for you long term.
I will follow up in detail on this point later (S – Sales) and the importance of the above will become even clearer.
C – Conversion Rate is one of the most important metrics you will track. Every metric can be viewed in the context of conversion rate.
Conversion applies across the board, and to everything from how many RTs (retweets) you get for a specific “tweet,” I still can’t believe we use that term, to how many individuals “Like” a page on Facebook, to how many individuals contact our inbound marketing clients as a result of a video we create and distribute via TrafficGeyser, and everything in between.
Conversion rate is all about how effective your marketing message is.
Every marketing message must include a call to action and every call to action should be tracked. I would argue that every marketing message should be a call to action, but that is a topic for an upcoming newsletter and beyond the scope of this article.
Tracking conversions means:
- How many tweet links are clicked? I use bit.ly but everyone has their favorites…the idea is to use something.
- How many tweet links that were clicked lead to an opt-in?
- How many tweet links that were clicked and lead to an opt-in then lead to a sale?
- How many Facebook ads are clicked?
- How many Facebook ads clicked lead to an opt-in?
- How many Facebook ads clicked that lead to an opt-in lead to a sale?
- How many Facebook ads clicked that lead to an opt-in and a sale lead to a referral?
- How many direct mail pieces were sent out?
- How many of the direct mail pieces resulted in a call on the first mailing?
- How many of the direct mail pieces that resulted in a call on the first mailing lead to an appointment?*
- To a sale?
- To a referral?
- The referral to an appointment?
- The appointment to a sale?
In other words, everything gets tracked, analyzed, tweaked, and tracked again.
Conversions are what marketing is about!
No conversions…No sales…No business!
So, if you are successful?
Improve your marketing message!
If you are not successful?
Take a look at your marketing message, your content, and improve your marketing message.
In other words, always look to improve your marketing message, how it is received, and how it is acted upon.
Ultimately, there is always room for improvement…always!
*The number of marketers who mail once and never again is astounding. We will go into this in D – Direct Mail because, like it or not, Direct Mail is one of those outbound marketing strategies that, if done correctly, works…and works well!
C – Comments: Enticing readers to comment and provide feedback is one of the biggest challenges online or offline. It is a challenge in inbound marketing, internet marketing, and particularly in business blogging.
Once you generate traffic to your Internet real estate (i.e., blog, video, social media page, etc), the next challenge is to entice people to comment, interact, and provide feedback.
Interestingly, much of this goes back to content.
If your content is unique, insightful, and provocative? Readers will comment, subscribe, and link to your site.
Significantly, all of these are measurable, more or less, and will provide you with information you can use to improve content and conversions.
Comments are like little (or not-so-little) votes of approval.
The results of comments are cumulative and exponential. Encourage your readers, and the readers of your clients’s sites, to comment successfully and you are on your way to more traffic and higher search engine ranking.
Comments will help you and your client move one rung closer to inbound marketing success!
C- Clients not Customers! I believe this! Perhaps I am nitpicking here but a customer is viewed as someone making a purchase or considering a purchase, whether they make the purchase or not.
The customer is an amorphous entity, they come and go with no real identity of relationship attached.
At least in inbound marketing we have clients…and we serve our clients!
The giant supermarket chains and the Big Box Stores have customers because they fail to make a connection, make it personal, or develop a relationship.
Inbound marketing consultancies have clients.
Not only does it sound more professional, it carries with it a different tone, a different mindset, and a different set of built-in assumptions.
- We have inbound marketing clients
- We serve our inbound marketing clients
- Our inbound marketing clients trust us
- And, we are engaged in a long term relationships with our inbound marketing clients
Clients not customers!
C- Consistency: Consistency is vital to the success of your inbound marketing consulting firm.
Consistency in every respect:
Your inbound marketing clients want stability.
In fact, your clients will demand stability and that means being consistent.
Inbound marketing clients, clients in any business, want one thing:
And they want the results yesterday!
We will get into that later under R – Results.
Consistency in all of its manifestations is crucial for long term success. Consistency also means applying the day-to-day inbound marketing strategies that will generate traffic to our clients’ online real estate, resulting in more traffic, appointments, orders, sales, and repeat business.
It has been demonstrated time and again that consistent, quality content, delivered day in and day out, will lead to inbound marketing success.
C – Connotea is a well-known social bookmarking site and one you should have on your radar as an inbound marketing consultant.
Every blog post, video, and article must be submitted to the various social media sites and social bookmarking is an important inbound marketing strategy.
We will get into this is greater detail below when we talk about S – Social Bookmarking.**
C – Curiosity: Curiosity, in all of its manifestations, is invaluable.
Intellectual curiosity is priceless and seems to be in increasingly short supply. Try new things, set up test pages and experiment with new sotware and new inbound marketing strategies, do something different, refuse to follow the pack and see where it takes you.
There are very few consultants in the field of inbound marketing who have been consulting for more than two or three years.
The field is new and nothing, and I mean nothing, is set in stone.
So be curious!
Try new strategies, new ideas, and new software. No one has been doing this long enough to have it knocked and, because inbound marketing is new, its evolution will continue to be rapid.
What was seemingly set in stone last year is going extinct or is useless today!
That trend will continue as the field evolves…and those of us who stay in it will evolve along with it.
As one of the more popular USMC slogans puts it:
Improvise – Modify – Adapt – Overcome
I couldn’t put it any better myself!
C – Continuity is often misunderstood and underutilized in inbound marketing circles with many believing it is solely an Internet marketing strategy. Many also believe it is outdated and inherently deceitful.
Nothing could be further from the truth!
An example of a continuity program for a funeral home client may help you see what I mean.
This is off the top of my head but you will get the idea.
First, you may be thinking:
“How can you sell a continunity program at a funeral home? I mean, their clients have passed away!”
Stay with me, OK?
Many funeral homes sell advanced planning, to offset the cost and reduce the stress on the family at the moment of death of a loved one, by preparing everything in advance.
As an added feature you offer a Life Book submission, a remembrance to be complied each and every month of the client’s life and put into a Remembrance Video and Celebration of Life Book.
The client pays $47 or $97 or $197 per month subscription to the funeral home or to you as the inbound marketing consultancy administering the account. Ultimately, the price will be set according to the best price point determined during testing, the amount best for conversions and retention (and you test that often as well).
The client then submits whatever they want throughout the month, up to a certain amount, via a membership site.
The membership site has their own profile page and they have access to and can edit it.
During the client’s life the information is filed, updated, and edited.
Upon passing, the information is compiled professionally into a video to be shown at the wake and/or funeral service.
Additionally, a set number of Celebration of Life Books and DVDs are distributed to family, based on the subscription level (more can be ordered upon request of the family).
Yes, this sounds a bit like that movie with Robin Williams but this will be something families can treasure and pass down.
It is a happy, positive celebration of life. It will sell and it will be a wonderful gift for those left behind!
Let’s do the same thing with oil changes.
Once a month a client is assessed a fee, less than the going rate for an oil change, lube, etc. There may be added incentives to secure the client’s commitment to the program.
Clients get an email reminder to come in, which automatically subscribes them to the email list and the newsletter.
You now have a client in your shop every month for oil changes, upsells, and so on.
You also have their email address and the opportunity to market to them on an ongoing basis with broadcast emails.
With a low monthly price point and the opportunity for add-on sales, this will be a continuous source of income for the company who initiates it.
Let’s do the same thing at a soccer supply store.
A membership entitles the client to 2 pairs of outdoor soccer shoes and one pair of indoor soccer shoes per year.
Soccer shoes are not cheap and the service also allows for free replacements if the shoes have a blowout anytime during the season.
You now have soccer moms and soccer dads in your shop at least three times a year for as long as their kids play soccer.
You could do the same thing with goalie gloves. Again, not cheap and the need is ongoing.
I can go on forever!
Continuity is the most neglected area of inbound marketing consulting but if you have an imagination and a little intellect (both in the “I”s of inbound marketing) you can be a real hero in your inbound marketing clients’ eyes.
Interestingly, continuity is exactly what we set up with our inbound marketing clients.
We offer a set up fee and then a monthly maintenance fee for services.
It is just one more type of continuity program!
C – Connection is crucial. Connections have become part of social media and LinkedIn actually calls networking associations “Connections.” Similarly, connection in the context of inbound marketing, has everything to do with relationship building.
- Connections lead to relationships
- Relationships lead to trust
- Trust in relationships lead to bonds
- Bonds will assure friendship
- Friendship will yield a myriad of benefits, including an inbound marketing client for life and referrals
C – Chrome is a must! Yes, we will also discuss the others below but, in my opinion, and not necessarily a very popular one, Chrome is a must.
In a recent Lifehacker poll, Mozilla took top honors with IE coming in second.
I added the various browsers to this list as an afterthought. I wasn’t going to but so many people talk about this browser and that, I thought it important.
As far as overall stability, speed, and utility?
I will take Chrome every time!
Many Internet and inbound marketing experts recommend Mozilla.
Mozilla does have an amazing constellation of add-ons, and we will talk about them more when we get to M – Mozilla, but I can’t begin to tell you how many times I have had Mozilla crash on me.
Yes, Chrome crashes too but not like it used to and not like Mozilla.
Chrome crashed a lot when I first started using it, when it was first introduced…back in the
“Olden Days of Chrome.”
Google has done their homework and, with new add-ons being added all the time, it has become more appealing; and, it is not only faster, it is more reliable.
Chrome also offers a nice set of resources for inbound marketing consultants, certainly not the number Mozilla offers, but an acceptable number of the right ones.
Lifehacker recently compared many of the features offered by the various browsers and Chrome was the hands down champion when it comes to the most pixel friendly browser (Mac Edition).
More to follow on the various browsers.
Have a different take on browsers? Please provide your feedback and I will try to integrate it into the final ebook.
C – Craigslist is very useful. As a matter of fact my first client as an inbound marketing consultant came from a Craigslist ad. Building your inbound marketing consulting firm is about prospecting, planting seeds and the harvesting…some sooner and others later.
The major Craigslist drawback?
It can get very annoying and the spammers are relentless. Even if you take precautions, they get through.
However, as in all things, you take the good with the bad.
Are you likely to acquire a high-end client via Craigslist?
But it may generate a steady stream of inquiries and some of those will lead to appointments. Then, it is up to you decide whether the business you are meeting with is right for your services…and vice versa.
Action is contagious and inertia invaluable!
By that I mean, even if you don’t make a lot of sales as a result of your Craigslist ad? It will get you out talking to people! That, in and of itself, is a huge benefit…particularly when you are first starting out. Refine your presentation skills as an inbound marketing consultant by getting in front of business owners every chance you get.
The more people you talk, the more presentations you make, the more comfortable you will become…and that benefit is indeed invaluable!
Again, the more you get your inbound consulting firm’s name, or your clients’ names for that matter, out and across the Internet, the better chance you have to be seen.
The more you and/or your clients are seen, the more excitement the brand you are promoting generates…given a well-crafted USP, marketing message, etc.
The more excitement generated, the more excited you will become.
And enthusiasm is contagious!
Brand awareness begins with your inbound marketing consultancy’s name and logo…
…so get them out there!
Ultimately, Craigslist is a resource many people use and, if you are not there with some kind of a presence, you are making a mistake.
It is free and takes minutes to set up.
C – Cockrum, Jim: Jim Cockrum deserves a spot here for a number of reasons. Jim was recently tagged as The Most Trusted Marketer online by the Internet Marketing Report Card (IMReportCard).
There is a reason for this.
Jim Cockrum is the pan-ultimate “Likeable Character!”
This may sound a little like Hero Worship but I can assure you, it is not.
Jim warrants the praise and recognition.
I will explain:
Jim is one of the foremost experts in the world when ti comes to making money on eBay.
Jim also has several other interests, many beyond the scope of this article, but suffice it to say, Jim Cockrum leads an exemplary life!
Jim’s business interests include one every inbound marketing consultant should have a Gold Membership in:
We will discuss OfflineBiz again when we get to O – Offline Business, as we already have because it is, in my opinion, the most valuable resource online for inbound marketing consultants.
Jim also offers a Listbuilding Class worth taking, particularly if you are not quite up to speed when it comes to email marketing.
Jim also makes a rather incredible offer for those of us in the inbound marketing consulting field at the end of the course.
I won’t ruin Jim’s offer by spilling the beans but his offer alone is worth the cost of the course!
C – Cavanagh, Andrew: Andrew Cavanagh is one of the world’s foremost authorities on inbound marketing consulting and is a partner with Jim Cockrum at OfflineBiz. I can say this without hesitation, if it were not for the material written by Andrew Cavanagh and offered by Andrew, Jim, and their partners at OfflineBiz, I would not be as successful an inbound marketing consultant as I am today.
I simply would not have made it as quickly or to the degree I have.
The information and the devotion Andrew offers the members of the OfflineBiz.com Gold forum is unlike anything I have witnessed online…from anyone.
Andrew Cavanagh and his partner Jim Cockrum are Gurus with a capital G!
And we will get into what I think of the lable and most “gurus” when we get to G – Gurus or “gurus” below.
In conclusion, I would like to thank all of you for reviewing The Inbound Marketing Week in Review and the Inbound Marketing A through Z: C is for Content. I hope you found it interesting. Next week we will go back to the original format with several resources and some nuts and bolts suggestions for building your offline businesses, online businesses, or inbound marketing consultancies.
Don’t forget to comment and subscribe to our newsletter! We need your input if we are to make the ebook the best A to Z inbound marketing resource online.
Thank you again!
The Ultimate Internet Image
PS, If you are a brick and mortar business owner or professional looking to build your practice and The Ultimate Internet Image? Please don’t hesitate to contact me. If you are an inbound marketing consultant struggling to get that first client or take it to the next level? I can help. Call me directly at 440-821-7018 (cell) or email me at my personal email address email@example.com and I will get back to you right away.
**Some social boomarking sites can be very strict about Terms of Service (TOS) violations. They can also be quite inconsistent when it comes to enforcing TOS. They are not the only ones! So, make sure you balance your submissions or your clients’ submissions with submissions from related, relevant, and interesting sites. If you submit links from your videos, blog posts, and articles…and no one else’s? Some of the social bookmarking services will ban you…guaranteed! The other way to work around this, and avoid an embarrassing situation where you have to explain to a client why they were banned, is to set up and use an alias. I am not suggesting deceit. But I am recommending that you be careful with your client’s brand name…it may come back to bite you if you aren’t.