Category Archives: Technology

Get prospects to “yes” with a lead nurturing campaign

lead nurturing campaign In the digital age, prospects need to trust you before they’ll buy your products and services. A lead nurturing campaign is a straightforward way to develop this trust, beginning when potential buyers show interest by providing their emails in exchange for compelling content.

But getting emails is only the beginning. You want prospects to remember you when they’re filling out their purchase orders, and one way to do that is to follow up periodically using autoresponders, which are automated email messages that you schedule for specific times in response to prospect interest.

For example, you might create a landing page that promotes an ebook or a benefit-driven tip sheet for solving a common customer challenge. Include a form on the page that requires basic customer information, including names and email addresses. That’s all you need to start a lead nurturing campaign.

Keep the momentum going

The next step is to create an autoresponder series that triggers when someone completes the form on the landing page. In the first autoresponder email, you might thank them for downloading your content. In the next message, let them know how you can help them in other areas.

For example, you might offer webinars or other training. In subsequent autoresponders, you can ask for feedback about your products and services, encourage them to sign up for your newsletter or blog, and engage with them in other ways. Just make sure the content provides clear benefits and fresh messaging, including relevant offers to help your prospects be more receptive to follow-up emails.

One caveat: nothing will turn a lead off faster than acting needy, so timely communication is key. You don’t want to give them enough time to forget about you in this new world of short attention spans, but you don’t want to over-communicate, either. Treat your autoresponder follow-ups the way you would manage those in the traditional sales cycle, allowing two to four days between each new message.

Consider long term goals too

When someone completes the form on your landing page, they’ve already expressed an interest in your products and services, but the ultimate goal is to get them fully engaged. The next step might be scheduling a free consultation as a way to upgrade leads into prospects. An alternative is to generate more long-form content, or even a video on a relevant subject.

Bottom line: marketing automation is a proven process that generates measurable results. Following a logical series of steps enables your prospects to make better buying decisions, which positions them for future sales.

How did you approach your most successful lead nurturing campaign? Let us know in the comments below.

Cure ‘Uberization’ anxiety with these 4 digital strategies

digital-dream-2-1456675The internet and mobile have turned the way we do business on its head. While digital transformation opens up exciting opportunities, it also strikes fear into the hearts of many business leaders, who worry that more digitally savvy competitors might come along and wipe them out.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise dubbed it “Uberization” anxiety syndrome, named after Uber’s gutting of the taxi industry. By developing a more efficient, customer-friendly model that relies on smartphones and cloud computing power, Uber has revolutionized the way we get around. Business and IT leaders across every vertical worry their industry could be next.

From a marketing perspective, digital transformation offers unprecedented insight into our customers and prospects. We can see how they interact with our emails, nurture leads with the click of a button, and track how many times they mention our brand (or a competitor’s) on Twitter. With the proliferation of marketing channels and products, though, it takes a tremendous amount of effort to find and execute the right mix.

That’s why many small and mid-size businesses are still struggling to adopt a digital strategy. According to a recent report by LeadPages and Infusionsoft, nearly one in five businesses don’t use any form of digital marketing, and nearly half don’t know if they’re marketing effectively – while another 14 percent know they aren’t.

Do you worry that your competitors are swaying prospects with sophisticated email campaigns while you’re still sending faxes? Here are a few steps for developing a solid digital marketing strategy.

  • Start with processes, not tools. All the technology in the world won’t help you without a solid process in place. What types of customers are you targeting? How will sales handle the leads once they come in? Develop your funnel, then use digital tools to accelerate it.
  • Don’t get sucked into what others are doing. So many factors go into choosing the right software, including your average sales cycle, customer demographics and the size of your sales team. If it takes a year for a lead to turn into a prospect, you probably don’t need a marketing automation platform to keep in touch with them twice a week.
  • Think like a customer. Many businesses get overwhelmed by maintaining an online presence on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and countless other platforms. To prospects, it’s all part of a single wrapper: their smartphone. They don’t need a different message on every channel; repurpose content to get more mileage out of your efforts.
  • Measure and adapt. The beauty of digital marketing is the built-in data and insight. Are people constantly bouncing off of one of your landing pages? Try reworking the call to action or page layout.

Which digital marketing tactics does your company use? Let us know in the comments below.


Becoming an e-reader: What you want to know

Reading, books, e-readersIn the years since they’ve been available, I’ve heard some pretty heated debates over the advantages and disadvantages of e-readers. It became such a divisive issue that I quickly placed it after politics and religion on the list of taboo party topics. For the most part, I favored the traditional format, citing the free marketplace and familiar feeling of a printed book. As more of my friends (and strangers on the bus) seemed to be embracing digital formats, however, I considered tearing away from my trusted paper friends.

Fast-forward a few years, and there I sit on the bus totally lost in an e-book. Friends on the fence have grilled me about whether e-readers are worth the money, so I thought I would share the considerations that turned me from a bound-book traditionalist into an avid e-reader.


  • A 1,000-page book that goes places. Perhaps the most obvious perk of e-readers is their compact size. Of course, not every book is 1,000 pages, but I’m no stranger to deciding between whether I pack my lunch for the day or carry my reading material. No longer are my mornings plagued by what I can fit in my bag.
  • Books on demand. Although I miss going to bookstores to browse the fancy art books, I don’t miss trying to hunt down a specific title. Now, as long as I’m willing to buy an available book, I can go from browsing to reading in less than a minute.
  • Easy on the eyes. I have uncooperative eyes. Even though I wear glasses, my prescription changes drastically with fatigue. Being able to change the lighting and size of the text on my screen keeps me comfortable reading at any time of day.
  • Vocabulary builder. Growing up, my parents refused to tell me the meaning of any word that was beyond my comprehension. “Go look it up,” was the standard response. E-readers cut out the middleman by providing a definition with one click. Better yet, all words that I “look up” are recorded on a list that I can reference and quiz myself on later.


  • Book budget? What’s that? I’ve always been a binge reader. As soon as I get my hands on a book or series that I’ve wanted to read, it doesn’t last me more than two days. In the past, however, my reading was limited to what I – or a friend – had on hand. Now, for the sake of my bank account, I try to make books last at least a week.
  • E-book free to a good home. Not being able to give books away is my least favorite part of being a member of the e-book club. I’ve never liked overloading my shelves, so I’m thrilled when I can send a good book home with a well-matched reader. Some e-book programs let you loan books to friends, but they have enough restrictions that I haven’t found them useful. I’m hoping that the e-book marketplace will open up soon to compensate for these less-than-tangible purchases.
  • Libraries need to catch up. My reading wish list may not jive well with the Chicago Public Library, but it seems that every book I want to check out is 30 people deep in the hold list. I once tried placing a book on hold, and, when the book became available to me two months later, I received error messages with every download attempt. I have successfully checked out one other book, but the software seems to have a long way to go before I’d call it user-friendly.

Do you use an e-reader? Let us know why – or why not – in the comments below.

How PR has recently changed and how to adjust

cell phoneOver the holiday weekend, I found myself relaxing on the beach with a few good friends. At one point, I looked over at a few of them, and they were checking their social media channels. It made me think about how far public relations and the news media have come in the last few years.

Today, everyone from teens to senior citizens can post information online and it becomes accessible to millions of people. Now, almost anyone can be a reporter and post news and photos of the latest happenings.

Traditional PR isn’t dead, however. Given the current environment, PR practitioners should keep the following in mind:

1. Building a community of ambassadors around your brand will still take you far. These days, everyone stays glued to their phones because people enjoy sharing information and producing the information that gets shared. Give your audience something they want to share and are passionate about.

2. Be a thought leader. Whether you’re publishing white papers and blogs or staying up on trends and sharing them with your audience, do an outstanding job consistently so that you build and maintain an audience. The media tends to publicize companies that have a large following, because more people are attracted to their stories. In turn, you will develop new media relationships and more sources for your portfolio.

How have you adjusted your PR strategies in these social times? Let us know in the comments below.

Planning your website for on-the-go — responsively

computersWhen it comes to websites these days, the focus is not only on a desktop experience, but also on a mobile experience. As mobile devices are fast becoming the norm to view websites and take in content, now is the time to start thinking about how people are getting your content.

One of the ways designers and developers handle mobile is through responsive design. Responsive design is a method of designing and coding where the content adjusts to different screen sizes and resolutions. This method allows the content to scale appropriately on each device (phone or tablet) and have elements appear and disappear based on want you want your visitors to see.

For example, if you have a really large navigation menu, that might work great on a desktop screen; however, it may take up too much space on a mobile phone. You don’t want people to only see your menu when they first navigate to your site on their mobile device — you want them to see your content. With responsive design, we can create an icon that appears only if someone is on a mobile device, which, in turn, allows the person to click it and reveal a streamlined navigation menu. This allows your content to remain in the forefront.

Another thing responsive design is fantastic for is when people resize their browsers in the horizontal plane (wider or narrower) on their desktop computers. Designers and coders can have content move to different areas of the screen to allow for a greater user experience for more people and give visitors the most important information right away. Websites don’t live in a vacuum and user interaction is a key component that drives our work.

There are many mobile strategies out there, with responsive design being one of them. When planning your mobile site (or main website) using responsive design, think about your audience and the content they’ll want. This preplanning (or postplanning if your existing site is moving to mobile) will help you create the best experience for your visitors.

Let us know what your mobile strategy is or what you’d like to do in the future in the comments below.

gTLDs: The next big thing or alphabet soup?

web browserJust when you thought the Internet had run out of Internet addresses, think again: a new era of URLs is nearly upon us.

On July 2, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the Big Apple will be one of the first cities in the world to provide a geographic-specific Internet domain: .nyc. The International Corporation of Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) recently approved the new address, or generic top-level domain (gTLD). The nonprofit ICANN regulates naming conventions on the Internet like .com, .net and .biz.

New York City officials expect to put the new Internet addresses up for sale later this year, according to the mayor’s website. The nation’s largest city was one of 1,006 entities ICANN recently approved for a new gTLD. ICANN also gave the go-ahead for .toys, .mba and .poker.

Large corporations also got in on the action, paying a $185,000 fee for each application to scoop up new branded gTLDs like .lincoln, .redken, .merck and .safeway. According to Crain’s Chicago Business, seven Chicago-area companies also successfully applied for gTLDs: Allstate Insurance, Jones Lang LaSalle, Discover Financial Services, McDonald’s Corp., Citadel LLC, Transunion LLC and Abbott Laboratories.

Allstate’s picks? .allstate, .goodhands, .autoinsurance and .carinsurance.

The steep six-figure price tag undoubtedly discouraged many businesses from applying for a vanity gTLD in the first round of applications – and likely will in the future, too. Still, as these addresses will likely become commonplace in the coming years, here are answers to three questions business owners might have now:  

Should I start or continue to run analytics on my company’s website? Yes and yes. Without analytics, it will be impossible to make “apples-to-apples” comparisons of before-and-after Web traffic if you ultimately decide to make the switch to a new gTLD.

Should I drop everything immediately and go out and buy a .shoes gTLD for my shoe business or .tires gTLD for my tire business? No, don’t do that. First, these applications were just approved and it’s too early to determine what it all means. The first wave of gTLD applicants was primarily trying to warehouse domains for one of two reasons: protecting valuable brand names or, like New York City, launching Web hosting businesses that will sell new URLs ending

What will these new Web addresses mean for SEO? Uncertain. Until new gTLDs are up and running, it’s impossible to discern whether they’ll be more effective in generating search results than old standbys like .com and .org. Writing in the Guardian, Search Online Marketing’s Adam Grunwerg put it this way:

“If these new gTLDs are helpful for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), then we must remember that spammers will quickly abuse them. It could be the .info situation all over again, where extensions quickly become tainted and promoted for spam purposes. In this environment, it’s the trusted domain extensions such as .com and that will be the biggest winners.”

Are you considering a new gTLD for your business? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Word of mouth 2.0

TSG139 - lips picSocial media plays an important role today in shaping individual purchasing decisions. Still, many companies resist using Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn at all, or don’t take full advantage of these important marketing tools once they’ve taken the social media plunge. 

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B2B trendspotting: What we learned in 2012

TSG 139 - cell talkerAs 2012 draws to a close, it is worth reflecting on a number of milestones and trend lines in the world of B2B marketing and advertising that emerged this year, developments that may make a big splash in how businesses interact with their current and potential customers in the coming years.

Mobile tipping point?

More than two years ago, Wired set off an existential crisis for tech types and marketing/advertising executives with the article “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.” In it, the magazine speculated that the then-recent advent of smartphones, tablets and other portable, app-based devices would soon send Web browsing, Googling and other 1990-era Internet trappings the way of the Dodo.

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Making Your Social Media Matter

Few small businesses today question the marketing ROI of sites like Facebook and Twitter. Still, many small firms remain stuck in an awkward adolescence, unsure how to best use social media to engage their customers and integrate these standard tools with their overall business strategies.

But why?

While many small business owners realize it’s no longer sufficient simply to have a Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or Twitter handle, they often find themselves asking “now what?” after signing up for a social media account. For many, taking the social network plunge can be a daunting undertaking.  But it’s not impossible if you keep these two concepts in mind.

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