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Archive for the ‘Axel Kuhn’ Category

By Axel Kuhn

Last July, I wrote about the increasing emphasis in B2B marketing on justifying marketing investments, and the drivers behind this shift. Marketing Accountability and Return-on-Marketing-Investment (ROMI) are part of the new business mantra.

Research shows that over 85-90% of companies now recognize Marketing Performance Measurement as a significant priority. And yet less than 10-15% of these companies have any comprehensive process in place to measure marketing performance or ROMI.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a great tool that has just been released: A powerful but easy to use ROMI calculator that lets you quickly determine the marketing ROI of turning your current website into a magnet for inbound sales prospects. In other words, investing in Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation.

The calculator delivers one of those quick “back of the envelope” calculations that entrepreneurs depend on for their decision making process.  The tool includes interactive features to allow you to play “what-if” scenarios. Even better, it provides best-practice guidelines on what kind of traffic you should expect on your website, and what conversion rates you should aim for as you convert visitors to active visitor, to identified prospect, and finally to new clients. And don’t be scared off if you are not a financial or accounting genius, because the calculator includes step-by-step help for each input you have to provide.

The calculator highlights in red any ROI below 15% as unsatisfactory. However, results for most companies end well in the “green”. In fact, most mid-sized B2B companies that are still relying on traditional marketing and sales find that their potential payback from an investment in Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation is better than 50%.  And that’s a very attractive return relative to most traditional marketing initiatives.

Smaller companies might argue that they need a minimum ROI that is even higher, given the scarcity of cash, and the fact that this scarce cash must compete with other critical needs in salaries, product development, and manufacturing. However, I would argue that for many small companies, getting those first few reference clients and “crossing that chasm” into targeted market segments is everything. So, I would be willing to invest my small business cash if it generated “in profile” customers, and an ROI of 50% or better.

But it’s your call. You can check out your ROI opportunity by using the calculator at (http://www.inbound-marketing-automation.ca/romi-calculator/), or remain in the dark. And once you’re fully armed, don’t let any marketer convince you to invest in a website marketing scheme without crunching some numbers first.

Post by Axel Kuhn, President, www.inbound-marketing-automation.ca

The RIC blog is designed as a showcase for entrepreneurs and innovation. Our guest bloggers provide a wealth of information based on their personal experiences. Visit RIC Centre for more information on how RIC can accelerate your ideas to market.


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By Axel Kuhn

Chances are that you – or someone in your organization – are thinking about investing in a marketing campaign at this very moment.

But how do you know whether this planned marketing investment will pay off? What metrics will you use to figure this out? Can you calculate a believable ROI on your marketing efforts?

For many years, investment in B2B marketing was largely an investment in faith.  You had to develop a “brand”, build “awareness” in your industry, and engage in activities like PR and advertising – all activities that didn’t result in a measurable return on investment. The reason is that there were few available metrics to allow you to actually quantify returns.

And so most decision makers justified marketing on the basis that their competitors were doing it, and so it was simply a cost of doing business.  And when you questioned the lack of measurable return, you were told that you clearly didn’t understand marketing.

Well, thankfully, that time has passed.  Today, more and more marketers are embracing the importance of demonstrating tangible Return-on-Marketing-Investment (aka ROMI). In fact, a quick check on Google Insights for Search on the phrase “ROI in marketing” shows a strong uptrend since the beginning of 2007.

Today, 3 factors are driving organizations large and small to focus on ROMI:

  1. The recent economic downturn, tight budgets, and the added emphasis on cost accountability.
  2. The rise of digital marketing – including Internet Marketing, Social Media Marketing, and Inbound Marketing Automation – with built-in metrics and conversion tracking. Now you can easily track results, all the way from initial sales lead generation to actual sales.
  3. The rise of a new breed of results-oriented marketers, sometimes called Revenue Marketers.

If you are looking for an easy way to help you calculate ROMI, here are a few helpful links:

The bottom line: Investment cash is always in short supply. Especially for new ventures. Especially now. So make sure any recommended investment in marketing is fully justified by a ROMI calculation. Don’t treat Marketing any different than Sales, Manufacturing, or any other functional area screaming for your cash.

And feel empowered to question the capability of any Marketer who refuses to justify his recommendations with some hard numbers.

Post by Axel Kuhn, President, www.inbound-marketing-automation.ca

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By Axel Kuhn

So you’ve built a great website and you’ve managed to attract some relevant traffic from prospects, potential channel partners, and other industry stakeholders.

Now what?

How do you engage these prospects so that they “stick” to your site, refer you to their professional network, and return again and again?

The answer is Content.

In Marketing 2.0, online content is king.  Online content includes your web pages, white papers, videos, presentations, blog posts, webinars – anything that leverages your experience and expertise and delivers unique, valuable content. Great content increases your ranking on search engines, drives traffic, and keeps visitors from bouncing off your site. Great content gets your site bookmarked for return visits.

And, most importantly, great content establishes your credibility as a thought-leader in your industry, worthy of being added to your visitor’s list of potential suppliers.

Great online content is especially important in B2B markets where the buying cycle involves a heavy emphasis on education. Online content is the most cost-effective way for you to educate your prospects on the dynamics of your industry, your company, and your particular solution. Compare the negligible cost of an online whitepaper with the substantial cost of having to physically print and mail-out product brochures via snail-mail. Compare the minimal cost of holding an online webinar with the massive cost of running a series of lunch-and-learns at various locations around the world. Properly designed, your online content not only makes your site a default destination for information about the industry, but builds a preference for your business-to-business company and your solutions.

So here’s a quick check list of the most popular forms of online content:

Webpages: The workhorse of a website.  Make sure that your website includes an easy to use content management system so that you can easily add and update content without needing a web programmer’s involvement.  And ensure the pages are easily crawlable by the search bots so that all this great content can be indexed by Google and the other search engines.

Whitepapers: Distribute your whitepapers in Adobe Acrobat PDF format, so that they are universally readable using the free Acrobat Reader. Acrobat also gives you a host of security features so you can easily limit how people access and use your content.

Videos: Videos are quickly becoming the favourite of the online content world because they offer “edutainment” (combination of education and entertainment) and because a picture really is worth a thousand words. Forget the expense of broadcast quality video. With a simple “prosumer” video camera, some editing and a little creativity you have a decent video that can communicate complex message quickly and clearly. Check out the introductory video at www.inbound-marketing-automation.ca . Quick and easy.

Webinars: Take your show on the road, without ever leaving your office.  Web meeting tools are so sophisticated today (and inexpensive) that you can run a meeting with participants from around the world as if you were all in the same room. And don’t forget to automatically record the session, and then post it on your site for future use.

Blogs: Perhaps the easiest way to continue to build fresh content for your website, while building your thought leadership credentials in your industry. Remember that by today’s standard, even a 400 page website is considered small by the search engines. Blogging is one of the easiest ways for you to build a more substantial (and influential) site over time.

Finally, remember to map your online content to your prospect’s buying cycle. Ensure that there is information for each stage – from initial education on the general market to the later stages as they compare suppliers and trim their short list – to keep them engaged until they are ready to buy your solution.

This post is part of a series on Building an Inbound Pipeline. Related posts are:

  1. How to turn your Website into a prospecting magnet
  2. How to attract prospects to your website

Post by Axel Kuhn, President, www.inbound-marketing-automation.ca

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By Axel Kuhn

“The web doesn’t work for our type of business. We don’t get any traffic to our site.” — this a common complaint I hear from small and medium-sized businesses.

The reality, however, is quite different. In fact, your website can easily become your most cost-effective prospecting tool. Yes, even for complex business-to-business products and services, with multiple decision makers and long sales cycles.

How big is your opportunity? You can use Google’s free Keyword tool to check typical search volumes in your market segment. Chances are you’ll find hundreds, if not thousands, of potential customers and stakeholders in Canada and the US searching each month for the kinds of products and services that your company offers.

So how do you attract these potential prospects and stakeholders to your website? My experience is that most small and medium-sized business could easily increase relevant traffic by 5 to 10 times over their current traffic levels by using a combination of the following techniques: Search-Engine-Optimization (SEO); Social-Media-Marketing (SMM); and/or Pay-per-Click Advertising (PPC). Check out these pros and cons to see which approach best aligns with your business model:

Search-Engine-Optimization:

The goal in SEO is to have your company ranked on the first page of search engines like Google when prospects search on a search phrase (or keywords) relevant to your industry. Keep in mind that 85% of searchers never look beyond the first page of results, so you need to target the keywords or search phrases where you can rank in the top 10.

For most small and mid-sized companies, you will not be able outrank the big websites on the generic, popular keywords, and so you must optimize your site around very specific, niche keywords. For example, instead of optimizing around generic keywords like “accounting software”, choose instead a more focused keyword phrase like “activity-based costing software”. Chances are you’ll rank higher, and your traffic will be more relevant.

Finding the right “keyword identity” for your company is primarily a marketing exercise, but the implementation gets technical so make sure you assign both skill sets to the exercise.

In my experience, SEO is the single most cost-effective long-term option for driving relevant traffic to your site. Yes, it requires an upfront effort, but once you optimize your site, and you are ranked high for your target keywords, you will reap the rewards for months and years to come with relatively little ongoing cost and effort.

For more insight, check out this detailed blog post on Advanced SEO for B2B companies.

Social Media Marketing

Surprise, surprise! A recent survey by Business.com showed that SMM is more prevalent in business-to-business world than in the business-to-consumer world.  See Social Media by the Numbers.

That certainly backs my experience in the power of social media marketing. Blogs, LinkedIn, and even Twitter, can all drive plenty of relevant traffic to your site. Our small site gets over 1000 relevant visitors per month, with over 50% coming from social media sites.

SMM can be time-intensive, requiring up to 2 hours per day by a knowledgeable individual in your company to visit social media sites in your industry, participate in the online discussion, and point people back to your site.  The traffic impact is immediate, with most traffic finding its way back to your site within 48 hours of your interaction. To find the online communities most influential in your industry, use a Social Media Monitoring tool from suppliers like Sysomos (very powerful) or Hubspot (less expensive).

Starting your own blog is a cost-effective way to keep your website updated with fresh content that the search engines love.

The value of SMM is not only in driving traffic of relevant industry stakeholders back to your site, but in engaging with other “thought leaders” in your industry.  Think of SMM as attending an industry conference, networking with other stakeholders, informing yourself of the latest trends, and creating a buzz about your own products and services. For relatively young companies, SMM can be especially useful in helping you to refine your business strategy and establish your business network.

For more information, check out this blog post on Social Media Marketing for B2B companies.

Pay-per-Click Advertising

Another option to drive relevant traffic to your site is to buy some online ads. Search engines like Google give you the option to buy positions on the Search Engine Results Page in the “advertiser” section.

The advantage is that you get immediate traffic, and you only pay for each “clickthrough” from your ad back to your website. You can limit your pay for each click, and your overall spend.

The cons are that PPC advertising only attracts a small percentage of “searchers” (most prefer the non-paid, or organic listings – see SEO above). In addition, PPC spending can ramp up fast, especially if you target the more expensive, broad, generic search terms like “accounting software”, instead of more focused, niche-market terms like “activity-based accounting software”.

Also, unlike SEO and SMM, the instant you stop spending, the traffic stops. That is why PPC is my third choice for small and mid-sized companies.

Nonetheless, a well targeted PPC campaign can play an important role in driving very motivated traffic to your site. See this blog post for more insight on implementing a step-by-step PPC campaign.

If you crunch the numbers, you’ll find that these techniques can deliver a very-cost effective stream of prospects to your website, especially when compared to traditional off-line techniques like cold-calling and direct mail. Next week we’ll cover some great techniques to engage these prospects when they arrive on your site, so that they “stick”, bookmark you, and give you permission to start a 1:1 relationship.

Also, see related posts in this series:

  1. How to turn your website into a Prospecting Magnet

Axel Kuhn is President and Co-Founder of Gossamar Inc. Gossamar specializes in optimizing the web presence of small and mid-sized B2B companies to deliver “More Sales Prospects of Higher Quality at Lower Cost” by taking advantage of the industry shifts to Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation.

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By Axel Kuhn

For any business, prospecting for new business opportunities is the key to growth and survival. Unfortunately, prospecting using traditional sales and marketing techniques such as advertising, trade shows, and cold calling has become inefficient and prohibitively expensive, especially for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with limited resources and budgets.

Luckily, Marketing 2.0 techniques such as Inbound Marketing and Sales & Marketing Automation offer a much better way.

Did you know that today more than 90% of B2B buyers start their purchasing cycle by looking for solutions and suppliers on the Internet?

Chances are prospective buyers are searching the Internet right now for solutions exactly like those your company offers.  Are they finding your company? And if they find your company, does your website engage them with content that establishes your company as a thought-leader in the industry, worthy of adding you to their short list of suppliers?

If your answers are NO, then you are missing out on one of the most cost-effective ways for companies – including SMBs – to prospect for new clients, channel partners, and other complimentors vital to your businesses’ future.

By leveraging the new paradigm of Inbound Marketing, and Sales & Marketing Automation, you can easily turn your website from a static “web-brochure” into a powerful business development tool. In essence, your website must accomplish 4 specific steps:

Step 1.              Attract. Using techniques such as focused Search-Engine-Optimization (SEO) and Pay-per-click Advertising (PPC), and selective Social Media Marketing (SMM), you can successfully drive highly relevant traffic to your site.

Step 2.              Engage. With low-cost content such as whitepapers, online videos, and webinars, you can cost-effectively establish credibility in your industry as a “thought-leader”. No matter how small your company.

Step 3.              Convert. Make it easy for prospects to convert from an unidentified to an identified sales lead, by giving you their online business cards (name, title, contact information, etc), so you can establish a permission-based 1:1 relationship. Without this critical step, valuable prospects will come and go from your site, without your knowledge.

Step 4.              Nurture. Using sales & marketing automation, you can nurture prospects with multi-touch email campaigns, offering prospects relevant information based on their individual interests, until they are truly “sales-ready”, and ready to be contacted by your sales team.

In upcoming posts we’ll go through each step in detail, including how to accomplish each step, with real-life examples relevant to your B2B company. Next week’s post will feature how to attract, and what you need to know about SEO, PPC, and the latest trends in Social Media Marketing for your SMB organization.

In the meantime, if you want a quick look at how your website ranks relative to others in attracting prospects, HubSpot offers a neat little tool that automatically grades your site and tells you where you need the most attention. It’s a good starting point.

In addition, if you would like some insight into the powerful shift from traditional marketing to marketing 2.0, and how to harness the power of Marketing 2.0 for your company, you can access our whitepaper on Marketing 2.0 here.

Axel Kuhn is President and Co-Founder of Gossamar Inc. Gossamar specializes in optimizing the web presence of small and mid-sized B2B companies to deliver “More Sales Prospects of Higher Quality at Lower Cost” by taking advantage of the industry shifts to Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation.

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