Earlier today, our very own Elizabeth Shea, CEO at SpeakerBox joined Matt Howard, Co-founder and CEO at ZoomSafer and D.P. Venkatesh, Founder and CEO at mPortal, in a webinar to share their inbound marketing success stories and the strategies that drove them. I thought I would share the short of it all with our readers who weren’t able to join in for the live presentation.
Whether you were an early adopter of inbound marketing, looking to revamp your current program or just thinking about inbound marketing for the first time, there were several great takeaways from the discussion. But, I’ll start you off with a great quote that was referenced:
“Not only do leads generated through social and content marketing cost half as much as traditional outbound-generated leads, they also close at higher rate” – Tom Pick, Business2Community (Check out Tom’s whole article on the subject here.)
According to Shea, inbound marketing is all about engaging and giving people or potential customers something they will find valuable. And, social networks have really given us the opportunity to provide this value on a two-way street, something Venkatesh agreed with, noting that the difference between one and two-way communication has really allowed his company, mPortal, to deploy inbound marketing in a way that has really changed things for them.
Howard, whose company ZoomSafer adopted inbound marketing as a start-up, compared initiating an inbound marketing program to joining a gym, stressing, “It’s not easy, you have to invest time everyday to see a payoff.” You can check out his entire blog post on the metaphor by vising ZoomSafer’s blog.
The Inbound Marketing Funnel
The presentation focused briefly on the use of a funnel-model for inbound marketing, which rallies interest near the top with search, content and social media efforts. Once interest is tracked through something like a click on a whitepaper, website visit or connection via a social network, a company can nurture the relationship by using the intel provided to start an authentic conversation or meeting that can help lead the interested party to a solution (hopefully via their product or service). Which then brings us to the bottom of the funnel, where the ultimate goal is to generate customers.
Along with using this model as a guide for your inbound marketing program, Howard pointed to great technology platforms like HubSpot and Eloqua that can help automate the process in a cost effective way by generating great quality data for people already interested in your solution. Venkatesh agreed that those tools and the rich data they generate are helping mPortal to jump directly to the middle of the funnel with more targeted leads.
Search and Content
“Content strategy is about keywords being visible and tagged so you can be found,” said Shea. She also highlighted that content can be anything that adds value, including web content, articles by 3rd parties, eBooks, blog posts and comments, social media feeds and even this webinar (to name a few examples). And, the key to high search rankings? Good keywords, a dynamic, keyword-centric strategy and inbound links from high authorities.
You can check out some great whitepapers on content marketing from the Content Marketing Institute here.
When it comes to content, Shea advised that it is essential for companies to have a blog. Venkatesh stated, “It is no longer a question of ‘to blog or not to blog,’ but what to blog about and how often. Howard agreed, stating that it is impossible to blog too much. The key takeaway? BLOG. BLOG. BLOG.
But, what should you be blogging about? Avoid writing about your products and services, but instead speak broadly to topics and trends that will position you and your company as thought leaders in the space. Venkatesh suggested discussing a problem and pointing out how to solve it sans specific product placement. In his experience, it will most likely bring the reader back to the writer to ask how his/her company can play a role in the solution. And, when it comes to length of content, it was agreed that quality is everything, whether it takes a paragraph or two pages.
Implementing an inbound marketing program takes time and patience. Shea noted that a reasonable time for seeing results could be about 7-8 months. Utilizing a technology platform to assist your efforts can go a long way as well as a strong focus on SEO, blogging and social to funnel in leads. Lastly, Howard noted that it in order to be successful, a CEO must culturally embrace this type of campaign.
Full infographic available at:http://www.cmswire.com/cms/customer-experience/infographic-the-decline-of-outbound-marketing-013308.php
Pretty soon, the Silicon Valley will have nothing on us. DC/MD/VA are going above and beyond to create an entrepreneurial community all our own, initiating programs like Foster.ly, DC Tech Meet-up, and most recently, Startup America.
Last Tuesday, January 31st, Startup Virginia kicked-off their new membership into the Startup America clan by hosting an (awesome) early-morning, entrepreneurial get together at Founders Hall Auditorium at Geroge Mason University’s Arlington Campus. The celebration began with a quick note from Jonathan Aberman, Startup Virginia co-chair, president of FounderCorps and managing partner of Amplifier Venture Partners. This was followed by a few words from GMU President Dr. Alan Mertens, professing his dedication and support to the area’s startup and tech communities,. “Here at George Mason we have a responsibility to foster the entrepreneurial community…Be innovative and entrepreneurial,” said Mertens. “Take advantage of your location. Build on your strengths.”
Held in conjunction with Startup America’s first birthday party, Startup Virginia featured a 1-year anniversary video followed by an Aberman-led panel discussion with Startup DC, MD and VA co-chairs Evan Burfield, Mark Walsh and Dendy Young and Donna Harris, Startup America’s managing director of startup regions. The group provided positive insight into the future of entrepreneurialism in the region but also gave straight-forward advice on what we’ll need to do to reach our potential, specifically citing the need to “embrace failure the way the Silicon Valley has.”
Next up was the life of the party and White House CTO Aneesh Chopra, addressing the importance of entrepreneurship and Startup Virginia. He spoke of the need for government to remove barriers for entrepreneurs and announced President Obama’s unveiling of legislation to support entrepreneurship with bipartisan support later that same day. He also hit on the importance of students and others taking action to pitch policy changes that will help the community grow.
The moment everyone was waiting for, however, came when headliner Steve Case, chairman of Startup America (he may have also held some other important roles), made his way to the podium. He started out by making the audience feel important (cough - lying to everyone in the room) by stating he skipped the Startup Hawaii launch for the VA launch. His motivational speech encouraged everyone to go back to what worked, reminding us that we didn’t become the greatest economy in the world on accident. Case also pointed out his priorities for national policy change, noting immigration reform, easing crowd-sourced funding and lowering the cost of an IPO.
All-in-all, the event was a great way to kick things off for the entrepreneurial community here in the tri-state area. And, although I wasn’t able to attend, I heard another great event took place later that night for the Startup DC launch.
On an ending note – here were some of my favorite tweets from the event. Check them all out at #startupva!
@jmbadlam: #StartupVA event tomorrow expecting 450 attendees. Wowza. Great news for the alma mater!
@wfuentes3: @SpeakerBox: thanks for the invite to @startup_va event. Great panel right now #startupVA (what, I’m allowed to like a shout out?)
@TracyTran: Frankly, #startupva started because Virginia is the most business-friendly state in the country. Suck it other 49.
@ChrisF: "Marketing its not a dirty word." -- Alan Merten, George Mason President #startupva
This week marked the start of Digital Capital Week (DCWEEK), where thousands of social media enthusiasts and experts, designers, developers and entrepreneurs participated in more than 200 events. SpeakerBox is a proud sponsor of DCWEEK and several of our staff took in sessions and conferences on topics like media in a changing digital world, online influencers, mobile apps and resources for startups.
Although we couldn't attend every event, there was no shortage of content and coverage across social media platforms. We wouldn't expect anything less from a tech-savvy audience where the immediacy of social media encouraged discussion and allowed those not in attendance to get a feel for the key session takeaways.
Below is a snapshot we pulled of Twitter, YouTube and Instagram posts for DCWEEK created by the greater DC tech community and our team. You can also check out recaps on the DCWEEK blog.
What was your favorite session or moment from DCWEEK?
Public relations professionals aren’t the only ones grappling with the challenges associated with the move from “old” to “new” media – the people we’re pitching are, too. That’s the takeaway from a recent discussion held at the annual DCWEEK event – a showcase for DC-area tech companies.
On a panel called “Media in a Digital World,” reporter Angie Goff from NBC Washington was one of several participants to offer some insights into the way journalists and media outlets have had to adapt to the exploding popularity of social media and online news.
Some of the key takeaways she shared included:
- Traditional media – TV, newspapers, etc. – is not going anywhere. While people love the accessibility and immediacy of online news, traditional media is still considered the place to turn to for validation on a particular story because it’s coming from a proven, accredited organization.
- News outlets are becoming far more comfortable with social media sites. Whereas before a reporter would get scolded for recommending Twitter or Facebook to their audience, news outlets are now actively promoting and directing traffic to their online news feeds.
- Everyday users have gotten into the news reporting action. TV stations – in need of constant content yet strapped for resources -- are becoming more active in soliciting video news stories from the“average Joe.”
But perhaps the most interesting thing that came up during this conversation about change is one thing that hasn’t changed: the need to build relationships with reporters, and how that’s done. Reporters still heavily rely on PR contacts for getting information. In fact, with today’s constantly changing news cycle, reporters need more info, not less. And the ways of approaching them remain fairly traditional – while following and reaching out to them via Twitter works, so does old-fashioned email and phone outreach and follow-up. Even better is networking and in-person interaction.
The moral? Yes, things are changing – quickly – but many of the old school rules still apply. Do you agree?
- Pete Larmey
Photo courtesy of Ruha Devanesan
SpeakerBox is actively seeking senior PR and communications professionals who would like to share our passion for technology, are armed with experience in public relations and social media, and would like to be a part of a fun, growing firm. We provide an entertaining, warm, and smart and happy workplace, and we regard our team in the highest light. If you or someone you know is interested in talking to us further, let us know.
We are looking for Account Director candidates with the following credentials:
10+ years of business experience, preferably in marketing/PR and in the technology industry
Ability to drive strategy on accounts and direct accounts with minimal oversight
Manage client relations and lead on-site meetings
Experience managing and mentoring account staff
Strong knowledge of B2B and B2G technology sectors
Strong knowledge of and experience with social media, community building, inbound marketing
Excellent writing skills
Ability to manage accounts of all sizes
Demonstrate mastery of media relations efforts on accounts/top placements and lead by example
Accountability for the delivery of value and results (metrics) on accounts and ability to proactively address barriers to success
Produce monthly and quarterly reports and assist in the invoicing process and retainer management for accounts
Participate in leading internal training programs for staff and interns
Participate in the business development process (research, preparation and new business pitches)
Participate in larger company initiatives and projects, such as strategic planning
Bachelors degree preferred in the field of communications, public relations, journalism and/or marketing
Salaries are commensurate with experience. Please send resumes to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Katie Hanusik
SpeakerBox is pleased to welcome a new client to the fold. Florida-based Runaware
, a leader in online software demo solutions and cloud computing services recently selected SpeakerBox as its AOR. Runaware's flagship product, TestDrive
, offers a hosted interactive online demo environment that allows customers to evaluate software in their Web browser. In addition, Runaware's cloud platform
allows independent software vendors to migrate to a cloud or hybrid model and ultimately increase their software sales.
For more information, the full release can be found here
-- Katie Hanusik
| |Bill Carter, myself and Robb Ryerse manning the Budgetext booth Last week I attended the National Association of Independent Schools Expo with our client Budgetext, who was there promoting its product Studysource, an online bookstore that allows schools and parents greater flexibility when purchasing textbooks. The conferences theme was, unleashing your superpowers within and along with helping teachers and administrators find their super powers during the sessions the expo presented a lot of super companies.
Among the rows of exhibitors I searched out companies that use technology to promote education and, along with Budgetext, I found some interesting companies that were attracting quite a bit of attention.
myself and the BrainHoney team BrainHoney combines classroom instruction with online learning to create a hybrid environment. They provide an inexpensive way to supplement classroom instruction with online content, offer online courses or a complete virtual school. The platform creates a curriculum map that aligns to state standards. Teachers then add activities that map to the standards to complete the map. As assignments are completed and grades are entered, BrainHoney automatically tracks students mastery of the state standards, giving teachers an idea of how kids will do on SOLs before they are given.
Schoology is a course management system for K-12 and higher ed built on a social networking platform designed to help educators, students and parents interact outside the classroom and to incorporate social learning into traditional learning. For teachers, Schoology offers an online place to create assignments, post assignments, collect assignments, converse with students, track attendance, and maintain a gradebook. Students are able to see all upcoming school related events on Schoology, and receive email or text messages to remind them of approaching deadlines as well as chat with each other, share notes and collaborate on group projects. And, parents can view their childrens homework schedules, interact privately with teachers and keep tabs on what student workload will look like week to week.
|James Conway at the BrainPOP booth James is an elementary school teacher who uses BrainPOP in the classroom to engage his students.|BrainPOP creates online supplemental learning videos to be used either in the classroom or at home to reinforce curriculum. Using animated characters, short films and interactive quizzes, BrainPOP engages students to learn in a way they find enjoyable, to ask questions and to form their own ideas. Supporting educators and students, BrainPOP works with Science, Math, Social Studies, English, Technology, Arts & Music, Health, Reading and Writing lessons.