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Wordpress Alternatives For Small to Medium Businesses

 

Have you ever contemplated what it would take to independently aggregate the most important elements of an inbound marketing campaign onto a Wordpress site?   It’s likely thatwordpress alternatives small to medium businesses do this research and come out with two fairly common objections to the Hubspot software solution:

“I can do all of this on Wordpress for free”

Or

“I’m not moving my site onto the Hubspot CMS”

However, it’s worth taking a closer look at Hubspot Basic. Putting aside the benefits of a fully integrated solution for a moment, just from a pure cost standpoint, Hubspot Basic is a viable alternative.  Let’s break down the monthly carrying costs to implement the add-ons needed to execute the most basic inbound marketing components such as SEO, email, social media and landing pages:

Wordpress

Software

Monthly Cost

Hosting

BlueHost

$5.00

Email (up to 2,500)

Constant Contact

$30.00

Landing Pages

Woo Foo

$20.00

SEO

SEOmoz

$99.00

Analytics

Google

$0.00

Social

HootSuite

$9.00

CRM (light)

KISSmetrics

$150.00

Total

 

$313.00

Now, let’s take a look at Hubspot Basic service that starts at $200/mo.  For this purpose, I’ll assume emails added into the Hubspot platform equals 1,000.

Hubspot

Software

Monthly Cost

Hosting

Included

Included

Email (up to 1,000)

Included

$100.00

Landing Pages

Included

Included

SEO

Included

Included

Analytics

Included

Included

Social

Included

Included

CRM (light)

Included

Included

Hubspot Basic

 

$200.00

Total

 

$300.00

As you can see, piecing the components needed to successfully execute inbound marketing campaigns into a Wordpress site is not as attractive an alternative.  This doesn’t begin to address the world class support provided by Hubspot.  With Wordpress, unless you have near full-time help, you’re on your own.  Or, at the very least, dealing with many different platform support desks.

Another objection worth addressing is push back regarding hosting a website on Hubspot.  This gets into the Hubspot vs. Wordpress CMS discussion.  Yet, this can be a moot point.  A common misconception is that Hubspot Basic requires you to host your site completely on the Hubspot CMS.  This is not the case.  In the download Start Up’s Guide to Inbound Marketing, I discuss an elegant workaround that allows your site to stay on its current CMS (Wordpress, Joomla, whatever) and benefit from Hubspot’s array of inbound marketing tools. 


Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

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Inbound Marketing Plan | The Essential Roadmap

 

From industry best practices and our own experience here at Optimize 3.0, there are six key components of a successful marketing campaign.  We detailed those here to assist your ongoing inbound marketing plans:

1) Produce a compelling offer

Eveything starts with your buyer persona.  Who are your ideal customers?  What are their biggest concerns, needs, and interests?  Where do they hang out online – social media, or blogs – and what kinds of content do they prefer? Definitely involve the sales team to help build these profiles. Design a content plan that targets these personas with both blogs and premium downloads.   

2) Place the offer on your website

Creatie a landing page.  This is a web page that features a description and an image of the offer and a form for visitors to fill out in order to receive the resource.  This transaction is type of an information exchange, in which the visitor gets the offer they are interested in and you receive their contact information. They transition into their next lifecycle stage, that of leads. This is the process of lead generation.

3) Attach the offer to automated lead nurturing

Lead nurturing is an automated series of emails or other communications that pre-qualify early-stage leads before handing them over to sales. These  are also known as workflows, marketing automation, drip marketing, and auto-responders. their goal is to make your new leads more sales-ready.

4) Promote via email

Your email list is one of the most powerful contact databases that you have access to. (Your social following represents another growing database).  One example would be alerting your contacts about a new whitepaper you have released or invite them to attend a webinar.  These dedicated emails help you set up the context to introduce the main call-to-action. Dedicated sends can be used to reach out to your entire email database or just a segment that you think this marketing offer applies to.

5) Promote via blog & social media channels

Now that you have announced the release of your new offer to existing contacts in your email database, you can start looking for other opportunities to drive traffic to your landing page. This is where you can leverage your blog and social media channels. Blogging has many benefits.  No the least of which is that Google loves sites that produce engaging, fresh content.  Be sure to blog at least once per week.  A blog is also an ideal means to distribute content to your social media channels.  Social media augments the reach of your content and supports your lead generation efforts. Tip: Be sure to add a call-to-action to your landing pages with the premium content offer at the bottom of each blog post.

6) Measure results

There are a wide range of metrics that you need to look at in order to evaluate if your campaign was successful or not. If you are trying to have a quick peek at your overall performance, you should start with a look at the analytics tied to the landing page that hosts your marketing offer.  Other analytics to monitor include the source of your leads.  Are they from organic, direct, referral or social traffic?  How are your call-to-action buttons performing?  Advanced metrics such as these provide valuable insight to see if your inbound plan has been successful.

Download our free Inbound Marketing Plan Roadmap ebook: 

 

 

·     

Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

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SEO Grader

 

I’m often amazed at how many websites are even remotely optimized for search engine seo graderoptimization (SEO).  I see many.  I wanted to share some ways for my readers here to grade their websites. First, below is a quick 10 point SEO self grader test:

1) Did you choose page content on Keywords via Google Adwords (www.adwords.google.com) or some other SEO tool like SEOmoz , Market Samurai?

2) Is your Page Title optimized for search?  This is the area in the upper most left portion of your Firefox browser.  Probably the most important step in the SEO process.

3) Did you write a unique Meta Description?  The Meta Description is the description an end user sees when they see search engine results.

4) Does your website’s page URL include the primary keywords?

5) Did you optimize your Heading Tags with a targeted keyword?

6) Did you use a primary keyword a few times throughout the page’s content?

7) Did you add a Call to Action?  Calls to action can help with SEO by creating an internal link on your website to a specific landing page.

8) Did you add internal links using the keyword as anchor text?  These support the SEO of other pages on your site.

9) Did you use ALT Text for any images used on the page? 

10) Did you add Meta Keywords to your page?   They aren’t part of Google’s or Bing’s search algorithm.  However, still use your primary and secondary keywords in the page’s meta keywords. Smaller search engines still might use them in their algorithm and you never know when Google or Bing might decide to use them again in their algorithm.

How did you score on the mini SEO Grader test?  If you’re like most websites, there were more “no” than “yes” answers.  

Download this full SEO on-page guide that fully explains how and what each part of the self assessment means and how to implement upgrades.

Here's the second resource: Use this SEO and Website Grader to see how your website scores from 1-100.  Some keen insights here.



Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

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Is Hubspot training enough?

 

Inbound marketing is growing like a weed.  Many B2B companies are catching on to the benefits.  And from a pure conceptual standpoint there’s no better way to gain new visits and leads to your website.  But from my vantage point, all is not necessarily well in inbound land as it relates to training and time commitment relative to success.  Here’s what I often hear from companies:  

 “I can’t sit through all of those webinars”

“I can’t learn from a training webinar, I need hands on”

“Hubspot training is not customized to my needs”

“This require too many hours per week, I had no idea when I started”

"Hubspot is harder than I thought"

Some cold hard facts: There are now over 8,000 Hubspot users (and growing) and while Hubspot has created a fantastic client on-boarding program (Professional subscribers are hubspot trainingobligated to buy a $2,000 consulting package), it can fall short.  Why?  Because at that scale it just can’t be customized.  The Hubspot consult team is absolutely top-notch, don’t get me wrong.  But a 45 minute conversation once per week with a consultant that is handling 40-50 other accounts is just not enough to fully understand the nuances of a particular business.  There are many, many aspects to launching and managing inbound marketing.  It starts with a plan and travels all the way through to software mastery and sophisticated content creation. 

Here’s the dilemma: Small businesses know they need an online marketing strategy and inbound makes a ton of sense.  Hubspot software sounds like the perfect fit – and more often than not, it is.  However, the time investment cannot under estimated.  Content creation is the most important aspect to successful inbound marketing.  And it’s not just blogging, its premium, download-worthy content as well.  That takes a significant time investment.   Business owners that buy into the power of inbound can easily underestimate the time needed for learning the software and content creation. 

Large enterprises face another set of training issues.  They have the resources, but cannot properly train everyone who has a hand in the inbound marketing effort.  While they may have an in-house SEO, but does he/she know how to leverage his skill-set to coordinate withhubspot inbound training operational silos the content creation team?  For inbound to be successful, these two efforts need to be closely aligned.  For larger companies, operational silos across marketing, sales and technology need to fully immersed in the inbound methodology and training.  

Both SMBs and enterprise level B2Bs need to fully grasp the resources, time and training to get the most from their investment in Hubspot. 

Learn more about customized inbound marketing training and content creation resources from Optimize 3.0.

Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

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10 Point Inbound Marketing Manifesto

 

Inbound Marketing boiled down to 10 steps:

 

See what inbound marketing costs:

Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

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What's the Difference Between SEO and Inbound Marketing

 

Recently I came across this question in a fairly dramatic fashion.  A potential client was weighing a PPC and SEO proposal from a fairly reputable agency.  He was kind enough to difference between seo inbound marketingshare the proposal with me so I could have a look.  As I was reviewing this proposal I was taken aback by how it illuminates the differences between SEO and inbound marketing.  In fact, I was pretty shocked at some of the elements inside this SEO proposal.  Naturally, I had write this post!

1)  How SEO and inbound marketing are similar.  First of all, any good inbound marketing engagement involves a healthy analysis and upgrade of all of the on-page SEO elements for a client’s site.  This is a pretty basic piece of an inbound engagement.  These are the similar elements between SEO and inbound:

  • Keyword research: Identifying target keywords using various tools (Hubspot, SEOMoz, Market Samurai, Google Adwords)
  • On page optimization: Updating title tags, meta descriptions, meta keywords (I do this even if Google disregards, but no stuffing here!), H1 and keyword page density.
  • Internal linking: Linking target keywords between pages with proper SEO anchor text structure.
  • XML Sitemap & Robots.txt: Files on your server that get uploaded to your Google webmaster account that tell Google which pages to search and those not to search.
  • Broken link analysis: Using tools such as XENU and XMLSitemaps.com identifying broken links.

Here’s the thing, this should be part of any basic inbound marketing engagement.  In fact, if done correctly, this alone can be immensely successful.  I’ve been able to get many clients hundreds of keywords ranking in the top 3 on Google with smart tactical on-page SEO.

2)  How SEO differs from inbound marketing: Borderline, if not outright black hat SEO tactics that are well documented Google no-no’s:

  • Mass Distribution Content Link: Keyword laden content article sent to thousands of websites around the web for the purpose of getting a weak SEO backlink to your site.  These are temporary links.
  • Targeted Content Link:  Articles submitted to the Go article network with backlinks pointing back to your website. These are temporary links.
  • Targeted Text Link:  Blog postings throughout a large internal and external blog network with backlinks.
  • Directory Submission Links:  Submitting site to industry specific directories
  • Social Media Bookmark Links: Submitting site and links to industry specific social bookmark sites
  • Social Media Hubpage, Squidoo Links:  Building links through creating a customized hub page (a topic specific page on the Hubpage network) about a topic in client's industry. Basically a mini website.
  • Link Exchange The exchange of links form third party domains like Hubpages and Squidoo for highest quality links.

If you’re looking to bring bad SEO juju to ANY site then these tactics will fit the bill.  Google has spent that last 2 years building out its algorithm updates to identify and eliminate these tactics.  These are in effect fake link building efforts that Google has long identified as bad practice. Moreover, getting caught can seriously diminish your rank and possibly end up in a de-listing.  I suppose when laid out to an unsuspecting client, these all sound like pretty good ideas.  Yet, the truth is you are playing with proverbial SEO fire that brings ever-diminishing returns, if not outright negative results.

3) Where inbound marketing is outright different from SEO.  In addition to the tactics outlined above in section 1, these are ways that inbound marketing is dramatically different from SEO:

  • Content creation targeting buyer personas.  Thoughtful content written for specific buyer personas.  Effective writing that answers buyer's questions in blog posts in an informative and non-sales like manner.  Adds indexed pages, done correctly, it includes internal linking for keywords.  Why Google like this: Adds indexed pages to your site, increases long tail search keywords and promotes social sharing.  Why it works: If your buyers are asking these questions to you directly then they are asking these same questions online.
  • Premium Content Creation.  Content such as downloads that complements blog content.  This is an important differentiation.  Even the most effective SEO and PPC campaigns can only increase visits to your website.  But if there is no way to convert visits then you’ve really accomplished nothing (except spending a lot of money).  This content is valuable enough for a visit to provide and email.  Could be a Tip Sheet, whitepaper, infographic, pricing chart, comparison chart, etc. Why this is important: Conversion of site visits to leads.
  • Landing Pages & Lead Nurturing: Specialized pages on your site.  Optimized for SEO but also for capturing visitor information.  In effect, moving an anonymous site visit to a known email address.   As the visit converts, they are added to a tailored email campaign intended to move your lead down the sales funnel.
  • Social Media Connectivity & Publishing: Connecting social media accounts to your blog and sharing content with followers.  Definitely measured by Google as a means of identifying valuable end user content and engagement and in turn, an influenced of SEO page rank.

So, what’s the difference between SEO and inbound marketing?  Everything and nothing.  Good SEO is a complement to on-site content that is beneficial to your end users.  It is the first step in a process to connect with a visitor and convert to an actual sales opportunity.  That is where inbound marketing dramatically differs from SEO.

Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

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Your Guide to Inbound Marketing Services and Pricing

 

What are inbound marketing services exactly and what do they cost? Inbound marketing is a broad undertaking that encompasses a range of activities.  When done correctly, in unison, it is perhaps the most effective means to drive new leads and sales to a website.  Actually inbound marketing pricingimplementing inbound marketing services goes well beyond simply buying automation marketing software.  Here’s why: The software only goes so far - be it Hubspot, Pardot, Maketo or any other platform.  Here's the disconnect - people often buy inbound marketing software without fully understanding the real effort required to fully benefit from the software investment. 

In order to understand both services and pricing of an inbound marketing effort below is a summary of each segment of an inbound campaign.  For pricing ranges and what you should expect to pay for each component download the full chart

Strategy/Assessment:  An initial series of meetings that understand the gaps/needs of your website.  This analysis should entail: a) Checking the current status of your site.  This includes visits, pageviews, conversions to leads and conversion to sales; b) On-page SEO for any mistakes or if needed at all; c) Structure of landing pages for best practice; d) Size and age of database; e) Presence of blog; f) Content assets. 

Technical Integration: What is needed to attach inbound marketing software to your website.   Sub domain structure for locating a blog and landing pages.  Or, do you want to migrate your site to a new content management system (CMS).  Hubspot has a really great, easy to use CMS.  

On-Page SEO:  Create or improve your on-page metadata.  Critical step to make sure your pages are recognized by Google.  This is a process of identifying targeted keywords for each and every page of your site and placing those keywords in places where Google and other search engines will find them. 

Content creation:  Comes in two flavors:  First, resources to blog at least once per week.  Understanding how to blog is critical as well.  There are specific ways to attract users to your blog and knowing what and how to write is paramount.  Second, and this cannot be overlooked, “premium content” creation is needed.  This is the content on your site with enough value so that visitors are willing o exchange contact information for access.  This can be a whitepaper, tip sheet or an infographic. 

Landing Pages: Special pages on your site that can capture lead information and integrate that data directly into your CRM.  This is where the inbound software can reall help building these pages in order to capture end user data.  A good inbound service provider can help integrate the auomated software and the CRM. 

Button creation: Compelling calls-to-action to provoke your users to download content from your site.  Important to test different variations of each button to derive the best click-throughs.

Lead nurturing:  The emails that follow after a visitor converts to a lead off your site.  These emails need to closely follow your sales cycle.  They move a lead further down the sales funnel and the interaction with these emails can provide your sales team another measure of purchase intent. 

Email:  Direct emails to your database with offers and content.  Needs to done at least once per month.   

Social Connectivity:  Integrating your social media accounts (FB, Twitter and Linkedin) into your inbound marketing plan.  Publishing your blog posts to groups and followers is the final step in any inbound marketing plan. 

So how much does this all cost?  We’ve built out an inbound marketing price chart for each component of a typical inbound marketing service engagement.   Pricing differences are often the result of the size of the providers.  Larger agencies are going to cost more with additional overhead but also offer a broader range of services.   Smaller agencies without as much overhead may cost less and outsurce sme work.  Download this inbound marketing services pricing chart to understand inbound marketing pricing to see what you can expect to pay for services.

Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

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Get More Twitter Followers | Best Twitter Software 2013

 

It's the holiday season and I wanted to share one of my secrets with my readers.  When I started using Twitter I had practically no idea how to find get more Twitter followers.  I had about 100 measly followers I managed to cobble together.  Twitter was this vast communication beast.  How could I possibly find the right followers?  How could I get them to follow me?  What would I Tweet?  It seemed everyone else was in on this enormous secret and I was on the outside with my face pressed against the glass!

That all changed when a friend mentioned Tweet Adder to me.  We were having coffee and I expressed all of my concerns/questions with Twitter and how it seemed almost impenetrable.  He said “just check out Tweet Adder, hands down the best Twitter software out there. “  I’m pretty skeptical, but my friend is fairly clever when it comes to things online.  I went home and bought it.

In Just two months, I was close to 2,000 followers.  Simply said, if you want more Twitter followers, not just random followers, but targeted followers who actually have a shared common interest, this is the best Twitter software you can find.  Here’s why I find this software  so effective:

  • Follow the followers of your competitors - automatically.   Do you have competitor on Twitter with a ton of followers?  You can add these to your Tweet Adder account and follow them with a press of a button.    
  • Add followers based on their bio descriptions. Want Twitter followers interested in cooking?  Use Tweet Adder to search across the Twitterverse for anyone with “chef” or “cooking” in their bios.  Auto-follow those like-minded souls automatically.
  • Just interested in those chefs near you?  You can regionalize your search and follows to city, state, zip code and even country!
  • How about anyone who has Tweeted about “recipes” in the last month?  You can search for a keyword that has been Tweeted and follow those users too.

This is the key: Getting the secret to more followers is targeting people with similar interests.  If they see you are of a like mind, then they'll more often than not follow you back.  Yet, the software features don’t end there. The software allows you to set follower to following ratios so you never seem like one of those folks with too many follows and not enough followers.  Also, there’s a great way to add your own Tweets through your Tweet Adder account.  This is particularly advantageous when you blog.  This tool enables distribution of your blog posts and website content to your Twitter followers – who just also happen to be targeted and growing! 

Tweet Adder is not free.  But for $55 (less a 20% discount) I found it almost insanely inexpensive.  If you want more Twitter followers, I can’t recommend a better Twitter software. 

Happy holidays!

Get more followers on twitter

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Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

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Marketing Automation Software | Find the Best Fit for Your Website

 

As a direct result of the success of the Optimize 3.0 Hubspot Competitor Chart, we've built the Automated Marketing Solutions Decision Engine.  This interactive tool helps you determine the best marketing automation software for your website.  There are many options out there, yet until now there hasen't been an easy way to compare the differences between Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot and Eloqua based on your company's particular needs.  

hubspot competitor   marketo competitor    eloqua competitor     pardot competitor

Taken at face value, each of these software solutions claims to be the online marketing solution answer to your prayers.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Each of the major competitors, Hubspot, Eloqua, Marketo and Eloqua has a particular strength.  Suppose your website has lots of visitors but not many conversions or leads.  What about your CRM?  Is it important to have a seamless integration with Salesforce, Sugar or even some lesser known sales software?  What about budget and headcount resources?  Marketing automation software is a big commitment for any company; there's technology integration, monthly recurring costs and internal ownership.  How about technical know-how to get the most out of your investment.  Are you able to handle HTML or even API integrations?  All of these criteria are captured as inputs in the marketing automation software decision engine

Chances are you've come across this blog post researching any of the following:

  • Marketo competitors
  • Pardot competitors
  • Eloqua competitors
  • Hubspot competitors

Here's a good place to further your overall understanding of the marketing automation software marketplace. 

Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

Let's Connect on Google+

Inbound Marketing as an Alternative to PPC for Small Businesses

 

I came across this great NY Times article: Small Players Seek an Alternative to the Expense of Pay-Per-Click that details how inbound marketing works as a viable alternative to pay-per-click (PPC).  It also happens to feature none other than Tom Telford, the owner of inbound marketing small businessBlue Creek Cabins who I featured in my post Hubspot Review: The Most Revealing Ever Pubslished.  Tom's story and the article is extremely informative and something small businesses should heed regarding the rising importance of inbound marketing as an effective digital marketing tactic.  In addition, there's an ironic twist: Google is directly helping out with Tom's success. 

The article details how PPC is becoming cost prohibitive for many small businesses and uses Tom's cabin business as a case in point.  Knowing Tom personally, he's got a keenly inquisitive mind, so when PPC started getting expensive he looked for alternatives to help market his cabins on the web.  He explored SEO yet not one of the vendors he met could actually explain how thay achieved results or what they might be.  Tom eventually took a leap of faith with Hubspot and inbound marketing, specifically blogging, as his new marketing tactic.  An interesting point here is that he dug deep enough to understand that Hubspot is the one automated marketing platform that provides tools to attract users to his site.  Others, like Pardot and Marketo, only address visits after they get to your site.   

Here's a snapshot of Tom's results before and after his foray into inbound marketing:

2010: Total PPC yearly spend is $140,000 at an average cost of $1.25 per click

March, 2011: Starts blogging approximately 4 to 5 times per week on the Hubspot platform

Today: Total PPC yearly spend is $33,000 and total site conversions increased by 37%

That last point is pretty impressive; not only did he cut his PPC expenses over $100,000 but he actually gained more customers.  Why?  Because he was using his blog as a marketing tool that provided valuable information for potential customers.  The essence of inbound marketing.

The irony here is that Google has rewarded Tom's efforts and others who blog as a direct result of their algorithm updates (Panda, Penguin & other animals).  These updates are aimed at  raising search results of the sites that provide valuable information to visitors first and foremost.  Interesting, right?  Google's losing money as a direct result of Tom's blogging but they continue to endorse his use of inbound marketing tactics in the SERPs.  Why?  Simple: They're fulfilling two mission critical elements for their business: 1) Improve search results which had become overrun with sites gaming their SEO; 2) In Google's eyes, more blogging means more indexed pages on the web - and more indexed pages means Google has more search results to sell ads PPC ads against!       

Tom's results are not atypical for businesses that adopt inbound marketing principles.  In fact, they're only going to get better with Google providing the tail winds!

 

Optimize 3.0 is an Inbound Marketing Agency and a Hubspot certified partner that builds leads and sales for websites large and small. 

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