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Inbound Marketing in 2013

Published on January 25, 2013
Tags: Web Design London

This year will see an increase in companies focusing on inbound marketing and moving away from traditional outbound marketing processes. It’s about time, too; customers no longer wish to be constantly bombarded with advertising when watching TV, surfing the web, or opening their post. In this day and age, there is simply too much of this kind of advertising to have any kind of positive effect – people skip TV adverts, put direct mail in the bin without opening it, and leave websites that have too much obvious advertising. This leads to a shift in customer behaviour, as they are more aware of the methods businesses use to target them, and are also more in control of the information they are receiving. This is where outbound marketing starts to become redundant and where the more subtle idea of inbound marketing comes into play.
What is outbound marketing?
Outbound marketing refers to the more traditional way of advertising to customers, such as TV adverts, direct mail, pay per click online ads, cold calling, and any other method of marketing that can be considered ‘intrusive’. Communication is generally just one-way, and there is no effort on the part of the company to inform or entertain the user. Businesses ‘beg’ customers to pay attention to them.
What is inbound marketing?
Inbound marketing utilises social media sites to create an approachable online presence, as well as making use of content marketing such as company blogs, ebooks, white papers and infographics. Communication is generally two-way, encouraging interaction with and participation from customers, and the goal of the marketing is to inform or entertain, rather than going straight for the hard sell. Businesses earn their right to target customers.
What are the advantages of inbound marketing over outbound marketing?
1. The Cost
Whereas businesses have always had to have big budgets for traditional marketing methods, the costs of inbound marketing processes are much lower, leading to a higher ROI.
2. Customers Discover You On Their Own
Outbound marketing relies on constant work to make sure advertising is being generated and seen by their potential client base, but this isn’t necessary with inbound marketing. Especially if you have created an informative blog that encourages participation, and have a strong social media presence, interested web users will share your content and get other people interested for you. Word of mouth in the internet age shouldn’t be underestimated.
3. Building Customer Loyalty
If you have taken the time to build your brand online and actually interact with your potential clients through social media, blogs, Youtube, and other channels, then your business suddenly seems more personal and more approachable. Also, if you provide new and intriguing insights on industry developments through these channels, people will begin to associate your business with specialist knowledge; they’ll keep coming back because they trust what you are saying.

Whatever you decide to do with your marketing, if you ensure that you identify your target audience, know what your desired action is (buy a product, sign up to a mailing list etc), and can measure your success rate to see what is and isn’t working, inbound marketing could help your business gain new customers and a whole new brand awareness online. 

By Chelsey Evans

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How Is Email Marketing Changing?

Published on January 25, 2013
Tags: Web Design London

With all the current focus on new and exciting marketing methods for online business promotion, email can sometimes get left behind, but the truth is that email marketing is constantly changing and improving, and it can still be a useful tool in gaining and keeping customers.

So what should we expect to see from email marketing in the upcoming year? Here are just a few of the many changes that businesses will be making to this marketing method in order to keep it up to date and relevant with today’s savvy web users.
1. Keep Your Email Campaigns Going
Some businesses are leaning more towards social media sites as well as their own company blog to keep in contact and interact with their customers. While this is good in terms of utilising inbound marketing techniques to attract new clients, not everyone uses social media in this way. This is particularly relevant with B2B companies; some people still prefer to keep their business life separate from their online social life, and therefore ignore interacting with brands on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. By all means, use these websites to target some customers, but be aware that others will still prefer receiving information from you solely through your business mailing list.
2. Embrace Mobile Platforms
Smartphones and tablets are getting more popular every day, and they are expected to get even more widespread this year. People want to access the web – and therefore their emails – on the go, quickly and easily and with minimal fuss. Businesses are slowly catching on to the fact that they should have mobile-friendly websites – by using responsive layouts, for instance – but they also need to focus on distributing mobile-friendly emails. This means only sending the most important information, and in a way that is easily read while on the move.
3. Make Use of Videos In Emails
Gone are the days where videos in emails are slow-loading and a hassle to watch; this year, HTML5 is expected to be utilised by many big brands in their email marketing campaigns. Get across all of the information you need in an entertaining and informative video, instead of emailing lots of long paragraphs that no one will want to read on their mobile device.
4. Using Automated Campaigns
Automated campaigns are used regularly by both B2C and B2B businesses, and they’re not going anywhere in the upcoming year. Some companies have started sending automated emails based on specific individual client information – such as customers’ birthdays – whereas others have been using behavioural based campaigns to target specific types of clients with their emails. ‘Welcome’ campaigns will continue to be just as important as ever in keeping new customers engaged with what your business has to offer.
If you make the emails you send to your clients easy to access and easy to read, as well as being informative and innovative – in the use of videos, for example – you will give your email marketing campaign the best chance to attract new customers and keep your existing clients happy.

By Chelsey Evans

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Start-up achieves 900% Facebook fan growth through social media contest

Published on January 18, 2013
Tags: Internet Communication

A wedding photography directory has achieved a massive increase in its Facebook fans by up to 900%, simply by posting a social media contest on their Facebook page, according to a recent case study by MarketingSherpa.com.

SnapKnot had previously tried using Google Adwords and other marketing strategies to get people to use their website, with little success. When the company set up a social media contest however, they began to see a huge increase in their fans, along with their Twitter followers, site visitors and paying customers.

The purpose behind SnapKnot is to encourage photographers to sign up for membership or to open an account on their website. Those photographers are then available directly to any customers who browse the site.

“Our main goal is to increase our membership, but we also wanted to provide a platform where we could have on-going lead generation and then just build up that general brand awareness, specifically with photographers but also with the bridal audience," said Mike Rheaume, Co-founder of SnapKnot.

The company could only do this if they had a large database of wedding photographers. They decided to set up a social media contest with the prize being a choice of two high-end cameras including a Nikon D800 or a Canon 5D Mark III.

What the social media contest involved

Fans submitted basic information into the web form such as their name, job title and if they were a professional or amateur photographer. Only one entry was allowed, although bonus entries could be earned by sharing the campaign in a unique referral link. If someone entered the contest through that link, the sharer then received five bonus entries.

The contest went on for 90 days from August 15th to November 15th. Since then SnapKnot have received a 900% growth in their Facebook fans, 64.5% growth in their Twitter followers and a 60% increase in unique visitor traffic to their website. During the free month which was included as an entry bonus, around 250 photographers signed up to the website.

These figures are phenomenal for a small start-up business. But how do you mimic these results?

Steps to inbound marketing success

The first step is to know where you’re at as a company. It’s wise to have some experience with business and consumers before launching a contest. The next step is to look at what other organisations have done and try to adapt their approach to your own.

Understand your audience, who they are, what they do and set guidelines for the contest which makes it easy for them to enter and to share. Promote the contest via social media, email marketing and other partnerships and then finally, announce the contest winner. It’s also a good idea to have secondary prizes and keep your fans informed of upcoming contests, so they don’t feel too disappointed. In this way, they are encouraged to keep interacting with your website and remain loyal to your brand.

By Chelsey Evans

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What’s your most important marketing source for attracting inbound traffic in 2013?

Published on January 18, 2013
Tags: Web Design London, Internet Communication

In 2012, marketing campaigns began to use more inbound elements in their efforts to generate more lead traffic and convert these to sales. The MarketingSherpa 2012 Inbound Marketing Handbook states that when going into 2012, the most important lead sources were SEO, social media and blogs.

Statistics from the MarketingSherpa handbook indicate that ‘94% listed SEO as an important lead source,’ while ‘85% listed social media as an important lead source.’ Blogging meanwhile came in at third place, with ‘68% listing blogs as an important lead source’.

Some good case studies of companies who used these marketing tactics include the regional eye care provider, Hauser-Ross Eye Institute & Surgicenter based just outside of Chicago. They managed to use geo-targeted keywords to bring in more traffic to their business, ‘through the side door’. In doing this, they brought in 333% more revenue. The key to their success here is that the company found their niche and conducted the keyword research necessary to create a strategy that’s right for them.

Social media strategy for attracting more inbound marketing

Meanwhile a good example of a successful social media strategy which is being used to generate more lead sales is software company, Firefish Software – an online recruitment software company. They started in January 2010 and by October 2011 they had created a campaign which utilised the best of their marketing activities; trade shows, traditional marketing activities and outbound lead generation, i.e. social media.

By executing an inbound strategy and focusing on creating multiple inbound social media channels, i.e. building twitter followers and increasing Facebook fans, FireFish managed to build on their success quickly from an early stage. Along with promoting FireFish both virtually and at trade marketing shows, the overall effort was on focusing the inbound marketing team’s efforts rather than on sales.

The results speak for themselves and over a one year period, the inbound strategy proved to be successful with a 335% increase in FireFish’s overall website traffic, along with a 190% increase in leads generated. This meant a higher quality of leads and a customer retention rate of 94%.

Create fresh content

A good example of how content marketing has been successfully used to attract more inbound traffic is by creating user-generated content. Coffee4Less is an ecommerce website which offers coffee and other related products. The website allows customers to write reviews of their products. As a result, they have seen a 10% lift in organic search traffic and a 125% higher conversion rate for the visitors who interacted with them. This was all from having 6,000 reviews added to their website over 3 years.

The reason for each of the above case studies receiving an increase in inbound traffic is because there is a consistent flow of fresh content being produced in each of these instances. Based on these statistics, which of the above strategies will suit your business in attracting inbound traffic to your website in 2013?

By Chelsey Evans

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What web design trends can we expect in 2013?

Published on January 11, 2013
Tags: Web Design London

The year 2012 saw an exciting change in the way we view web design, as more websites started transforming their layouts to become more responsive and mobile friendly. So what exciting trends in web design can we expect to see this year in 2013? Here are just a few…

Responsive web design

This won’t just be for handheld devices such as tablets and smartphones. It’s already being tested across a range of sites including Mashable, USA Today, TIME and even the WordPress blogging site. The idea behind this is to create a fluid, responsive website where content can be distributed across all platforms; whether you’re viewing it on a desktop computer, tablet or handheld device. Large screen web browsing is thought to become commonplace whether at home or in the office boardroom. All of this could transcend into other devices such as web-enabled car dashboards and even the possibility of using Siri or Windows 8 from the comfort of your own car.

Retina displays

This term was coined by Apple and refers to the latest generation of computer displays which contain a pixel density which is now four times that of non-retina displays. The problem is that there can be issues with image-heavy websites as retina displays can make some of the images appear ‘grainy’. Web designers and developers have started creating pixel query solutions, retina.js and HTML/CSS in a bid to solve these problems and created a more ‘Retina friendly’ web experience.

Twitter Bootstrap will take precedence

What began as a set of UI elements designed to speed up web applications has now become its own web creation framework containing interactive Javascript plug-ins, responsive layouts and customisable components. It’s now being used to create websites of all shapes and sizes which are beautifully designed and highly responsive.

In 2013 we can expect to see more support for the Twitter Bootstrap platform and more readily available resources appearing to support this web creation platform as it gains more widespread usage.

Content marketing is still king

After the 2011/12 Google updates Panda and Penguin changed SEO tactics businesses had to adapt their approach. No longer could they rely on keywords and meta-tags to rank their website more highly. Now only websites with relevant high quality content would rank in search engine results. In 2013 this principle will become essential for a business’s online survival.  This may mean businesses have to invest in their content marketing to produce a website which is valuable, useful and share-worthy.

Web design education will be made easy

Now anyone can educate themselves to become a web designer or an app developer thanks to Treehouse and The Starter League which teach people all over the world to code, design and ship apps using a variety of tutorials and projects to get you started. This means in 2013, the task of web designer/web developer will become a skill which is more readily available, if people wish to learn it.

By Chelsey Evans

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