November 30, 2010
Thanksgiving is over and after the amount of pumpkin pie I ate over the weekend I thought I would never want dessert again. That was until I read about, Hall Hitzig, also known as the Crazy Baker, and his premium desserts which are made from 100% pure vanilla, fresh local eggs, imported chocolates, and high quality flours. Got your taste buds watering doesn’t it? He’s even attracted the attention of Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray which in turn has driven lots of traffic, but converting that traffic into customers is where this batty brownie baker is struggling. The problem that Hitzig is facing is one that many online business face, which is that people are often not ready to make a purchase on their first visit to a site. Most of the time people need a little appetizer to get their stomach growling for the full meal.
After taking a look a look at Hitzig’s site I would suggest working on ways to nurture the visitors that come to his site, so that even if they don’t purchase on their first visit he increases the chance that they will come back and make a purchase at a later date. Here are a few suggestions I would make for improving the site that I think will start raising that conversion ratio.
Use Simple, Action Driven, Calls-To-Action
When I first visited thecrazybaker.com I was a overwhelmed by thenumber of different links I could click. The homepage contained 25 different links to pages and not one that seemed to be the preferred path for a potential customer.
The link that stood out most was the “Click here for Customer Service” link,and I don’t really think that Hitzig’s primary goal is to drivevisitors to his customer service page. I would remove many of the superfluous links contained on the page and replace them with one large call to action to “order some premium pastries today!”
Use a landing page to capture leads
Like I said before, most people are not willing to make a purchase on their first visit to a site. Many people probably visit Hitzig’s site and think to themselves, “These pastries look delicious. They would be great for a special occasion. I’ll come back in a couple months.” Unfortunately for Hitzig most of these visitors probably forget to come back and he has no way to remind them. If he had a landing page and a form to capture the name and email of these visitors he could easily create a list and email them special promotions or offers during a time they might be more inclined to purchase premium pastries…maybe the week before Christmas?
HubSpot, for instance, has a landing page application that allows users to whip up a landing page in a matter of minutes. Our email marketing tool then allows users to create separate lists dependent upon which form a visitor converted on and send them personalized emails. Of course in order to have a landing page you must have something to offer in return for the visitors information. In Hitzig’s case perhaps he could offer some recipes for some of the pastries he has created over the years (of course he wouldn’t want to give away all of his secrets )
Create Content, Content, and More Content!
I think it’s great that the Crazy Baker is utilizing social media with presences on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn, but honestly there’s only so much you can promote if you aren’t constantly creating useful content. The easiest way to consistently add content to your website is through a blog. A lot of people worry about not having anything interesting to blog about, and most of the time they just aren’t looking in the right places. Hitzig, for example, could blog about his experience at Culinary School, his training at hotels and restaurants in the US and abroad, and about the many other baking questions he probably gets asked on a regular basis from friends and through email. Instead of answering a question for someone in a one on one scenario why not turn that into a great blog post and share that knowledge with the world?
I hope that the Crazy Baker sees the sanity in these suggestions, and that you can take away some of these tips and adapt them for your business.
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Posted by Eric Vreeland on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 @ 12:00 PM
November 30, 2010
Today, LinkedIn, the social network targeted towards business professionals, released it’s offical share button. The button allows LinkedIn users to easily share content they find interesting and relevant with their network.
Publishers can find instructions for how to add the share button on the publishers portion of the LinkedIn site. LinkedIn is offering three options to choose from: a vertical button with a share counter, a horizontal button with a share counter, and a horizontal button without a counter. To add a button to your website or blog all you need to do is choose a button style and copy and paste a few lines of code.
With all easily implemented options for sharing content such as Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Delicious, etc. it probably isn’t going to be the ease of execution that determines how successful LinkedIn’s share button is. At 85 million users and a new users joining every second the success of LinkedIn’s share button is going to fall in the hands of it’s users.
Since those connected on LinkedIn most likely share business interests, it is very likely that the LinkedIn share button becomes a standard for business related content.
Once you have taken the time to create remarkable content make sure that you are doing everything you can to share it with your entire network. Since your LinkedIn network may find your content relevant this is an excellent way allow them to help you spread your content beyond your immediate reach. Head on over to LinkedIn to try out your share button today.
Free Ebook: Lessons From Five LinkedIn Experts
Posted by Eric Vreeland on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 @ 02:00 PM
November 30, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/HPyXiFgFoWI/
November 30, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/7J4UsJLOB4w/
November 30, 2010
Matthew Shadbolt is the Director of Internet Marketing for The Corcoran Group, Manhattans largest real estate brokerage.
Follow Matthew on Twitter at @corcoran_group
Over the past few years theres been an explosive growth in the number of things marketers can do, especially online. Even the trusty banner ad seems to be in rapid decline. As the internet becomes more pervasive in our lives, to the point where the internet enabled device (often called the internet of things) is ubiquitous, the implications for real estate professionals are potentially seismic. How will people look for homes in the future? By whats around them? Through recommendations from their friends? Through curated search results assembled for them by experts?
The simple answer is, of course, that nobody really knows. A lot of these technologies are still in their infancy. Five years ago most of us had never heard of checking-in or status updates, and tweeting was something for the birds (many maintain that it still is). The idea of a multi-touch device wed have in our pockets that knew where we were all the time still seemed like science fiction. Yet we dont think like that any more. Many of us have embraced this new technology as it becomes more user-friendly and a lot less about the nuts and bolts of how it works.
Heres 3 emerging ways well interact with the internet in the coming years.
1. Moving between devices will become easier and more a part of how we move around the real world.
Imagine youre a train commuter who has a long commute each day. To pass the time you watch movies and TV shows on your iPad, streamed directly through Netflix. You arrive at your stop but you havent finished watching that oh-so-climactic episode of Lost. When you get home, your internet-enabled plasma screen will remember at what point you left the episode, and automatically pick up from where you left off, allowing you to finish watching the show seamlessly. This technology is here today.
What does this look like for real estate? Imagine you were in a certain area, browsing around a neighborhood youre thinking of potentially moving to. Your smartphone could record places you were interested in, then allow you to download relevant local video and information based on where you were via your desktop or television when you got home. Its an increasingly common phenomenon that people are watching the television and also online at the same time. The idea of these screens combining is something well see a lot more of soon.
2. The internet will be built-in as a standard feature into the things around us
The idea of more devices that would be able to handle transactions, especially smartphones, is one thats right around the corner. Square are already doing it, Google are talking a lot about it, and the concept of your phone replacing your credit card is here. An electronic device with a built in reader that would automatically recognize your location and offer you loyalty rewards for coming back to the store is something we see in the Foursquare and Facebook Places models as they attempt to redefine customer loyalty. Imagine a scenario where youve created an electronic version of your grocery list on your iPhone before you go to the store. Upon arrival, the store will recognize you as a return customer, optimize your route through the aisles, and show you featured products you might be interested in based on your interests and related purchases.
3. When were moving
The un-tethering of the internet from the big box that sits on your desk is increasing with rapid pace. Not just GPS directions, but using the internet to build out and enhance the driving or flying experience. The idea of whats around me now is already here for smartphone users who are walking around (its adoption rate in urban areas is much higher than in more rural parts of the country), but it hasnt made it to the car yet. Of course, there are obvious safety concerns with anything that might cause distractions, but the idea of remote diagnostics, local information, or using your car essentially as a large smartphone with wheels is here today. What does this mean for real estate? Think guided open house tours, saved locations, voice-activated notes, and even record imagery (think Google Street View) of the surrounding area. Then once you got home youd be able to transfer that information from outside to any device.
In an uncertain future, what is certain is that the pace at which the technology formerly known as the web will continue to evolve and grow at an increasingly aggressive rate. Cutting through the noise and being able to deliver information thats timely and valuable to users will be where many businesses will need to focus, especially real estate. Outside of sharing property information, what services could you potentially provide for these platforms?
November 30, 2010
I was at a conference recently where Ben Greenfield from Ben Jerry’s was the lunchtime keynote speaker. The thing that struck me about the talk was how a very unlikely duo became very successful by ignoring conventional wisdom at every turn. Here are some of the ways they ignored conventional wisdom that I liked a lot:
1. Ben Jerry’s started in Burlington, Vermont, selling ice cream cones. The problem they quickly ran into was that no one bought ice cream cones in the winter in Vermont!! To try to stimulate sales in the winter, they offered a penny off for each degree below 32 degrees it was that day. In other words, if it was 2 degrees out, you got 30 cents off your cone. Brilliant! [Does this spur any creative packaging ideas for your business?]
2. They had a heck of a time getting merchants to buy their ice cream from them since they already stocked Haagen Dazs and other flavors. In order to break the logjam, they offered to BUY BACK any unsold ice cream from the stores. This turned out to be the difference maker for them in the early days! [How about you try doing a money back guarantee for your product as a test -- might it work better than all traditional marketing stuff combined?]
3. Once they started to get momentum in Vermont, they convinced some larger distributors to carry their products alongside Haagen Dazs. Once Pillsbury (Haagen Dazs parent company) found out about their distributors carrying both products, they threatened to pull out of their arrangements with them. Ben Jerry’s went on a “What’s The Doughboy Afraid Of” offensive against Pillsbury. They took out ads in the Wall Street Journal, Jerry picketed in front of Pillbury headquarters, they put a call to action about this issue on their ice cream containers asking customers to write to Pillsbury’s ceo, etc. Guess what — it worked! [Is there a clever way to upset the distribution model in your industry?]
4. When they were about $3million in annual revenue, they wanted to expand. All of their advisors told them to talk with venture capitalists and private equity folks. They didn’t like that idea, so they did their own version of an IPO. They sold shares in Ben Jerry’s for $126 each door-to-door and store-to-store in Vermont and raised $750k — one in every 100 households in Vermont bought a share in the company. They later did a national offering in the same style to raise more money. Fascinating! [Could you leverage your fundraising process to build more fans of your company and get more customers?]
5. When they were well down the path and quite successful, Jerry went to one of his advisors and said he wasn’t happy and was thinking of selling the business. His advisor said, “If you don’t like it, change it — your the CEO.” Ben never thought about it that way and set about making some radical changes to the company to align it with the way he thought a business should be run. The most glaring of these changes was that 7.5% of the company’s pre-tax profits was put it into a foundation that supported organizations that the employees thought helped social and environmental issues. …He didn’t comment on this in his keynote and I don’t think he did it for this reason, but I betcha this more than paid for itself in profits because everytime someone eats their ice cream, they know that some of the profits are going to a good cause. [Could you spin up a similar program that would help your bottom line at the same time as it helped a good cause: 1+1=3?]
HubSpot is the first company I have ever started (if you don’t count Stroker Ace Painting Co in college — smile) and I have found myself having an interesting relationship with conventional wisdom. Here at HubSpot we tend to question conventional wisdom every step of the way. In some cases, that questioning turns into our spending a lot of cycles on something that turns out to work just fine if you follow conventional wisdom — uugghh! In other cases, that questioning turns out to be just right because conventional wisdom is out of date and dead wrong.
Our biggest “win” as a company is our complete rejection of traditional marketing conventional wisdom. As you all know by now, we believe that traditional, outbound marketing (advertisements, email spam, cold calls, etc) is dying as people are getting sick of the interruptions and getting better at blocking them out (dvr’s, pop-up blockers, Pandora, spam protection, CallerID, etc). It is this complete rejection of marketing conventional wisdom upon which we have built our company and it is working out pretty well so far (3600 customers today — up from about 1600 customers a year ago).
Probably our second biggest “win” as a company is our near complete rejection of how “work” should happen and how the relationship between a company and its employees should operate. This rethinking of the work structure and culture has provided big benefits for us in that we have attracted really great employees who are highly motivated…the company was named the #1 Place To Work by The Boston Business Journal and the #4 Place To Work by the Boston Globe.
What do you all think? Do you have an complicated relationship with conventional wisdom like I do? Do you tend to go with the flow or try to rethink the flow like Ben Jerry’s did?
What companies do you really admire? Do those companies win because they follow conventional wisdom or ignore it?
Posted by Brian Halligan on Mon, Nov 29, 2010 @ 11:08 AM
November 30, 2010
If you’ve read a bit about search engine optimization (SEO), then you know that attracting lots of high quality inbound links is one of the most effective ways to build authority and improve your rank online. Even if you know how to go about building links – directories, networking and creating remarkable content that people will link to – you may not know what sites to target for inbound links.
First, A Quick Refresher on Inbound Links
An inbound link is a hyperlink on someone else’s web site that includes the URL for a page on your domain. Inbound links vary in quality and usefulness based on the originating site’s own authority, how many other links originate from that page and the actual text that is hyperlinked. What you want most are:
- Links from high authority sites.Getting a link from the New York Times has much more value than a link from my personal blog. Just like a personal introduction from your dearest friend has more value than an introduction from a distant acquaintance.
- Links that you don’t have to share.Search engines give a page only a certain amount of credibility. This credibility or “link juice” is split up among the links coming from that page. That means you get a lot more value from an inbound link that is a story just about your products or services than an inbound link that lists you as one of ten hyperlinked companies.
- Links with relevant text descriptions.Search engines recognize which words are hyperlinked and give value to those words. Therefore, if someone hyperlinks to your golf school and they hyperlink the text “the program” instead of “golf academy,” you are missing out and you should politely ask the linker if they wouldn’t mind shifting the link to the more SEO-friendly text. Most of the time they are happy to help.
Second, How Do You Research Inbound Links?
Now that you know what you are looking for in an attractive inbound link, you need to figure out WHO you’d like to link to your site. That means some combination of industry relevance, high authority and the ease with which you can get in touch to share content that is link-worthy.
Logically, you should start with what and who you know. Make a short list of trade publications, blogs and contacts in your network who might be good candidates. Now, don’t stop there.
Turns out there are a few tools on the market to help you even further. Tools like SEOMoz’s LinkScape and Yahoo Site Explorer both provide this functionality. HubSpot also provides link research tools as a part of our integrated marketing software. Here’s an example of how you can do research to work out link strategy using HubSpot.
In this example, you see the inbound links for a concrete countertop company. 67 total links with an average of a “low” link grade.What does that really mean?
Let’s check out the competition to find out. Here’s another local competitor.
Wow, comparatively speaking, our concrete countertop guy is doing great – he has a lot more links (60+ vs. 10). But maybe there are still some ideas for him here. Looks like the Better Business Bureau link could be of value, as could concreteideas.com and thebluebook.com which look like listing services. Add these to the list to investigate.
Next, let’s pick a more ambitious competitor. Looking at someone in the concrete business that has national exposure, we can see what Cheng Concrete Exchange is up to.
Wow. They are a national outfit and it shows – they have hundreds of inbound links, many of high quality. This is a treasure trove of link opportunities to research further, looking for either personal connections or maybe sites that love to link to award-winning products, great content or customer stories.
Third, What Do You Do With That Research?
That little “spying” activity gave us a lot of insight into how the concrete business is doing and where there might be some opportunities to seek additional inbound links. Next steps would be to do a little research about each interesting source of links and determine what they want for a link.
- Is it a member directory that you pay for?
- Is it a content centric site that might let you post a guest article?
- Or, is it a business that you may already be networking with and you can find out if there are any opportunities to share content or promotions to help each other out with relevant links.
Prioritize that list and start working away at it one link at a time. You’ll find that online authority and the resulting search results improve over time and the best benefit – the more people find you, the more they link to you, creating a virtuous cycle of link building that will be really hard for your competition to beat!
Try HubSpot’s Free Trial for Effective Inbound Link-Building!
Posted by Kirsten Knipp on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 @ 07:00 AM
November 30, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/lwtyEPZKAMQ/
November 30, 2010
Article source: http://feeds.mashable.com/~r/Mashable/~3/3gneW8Z9hTI/