I’ll say it: the days of outbound marketing are over.
The "Wolf of Wall Street" mentality of harassing customers over the phone, sending spamy emails, and going door-to-door to close deals has become much less effective in recent years. Customers have access to so much information every day, they’ve become increasingly resentful of marketing intrusions. The rise of blocking tools such as caller id, spam folders and ad blockers is not coincidence.
Inbound marketing is the new normal. That’s the idea that if you provide value to customers first, they will respond by returning that value back and doing business with you.
To get a peak under the hood inbound marketing, and get tips on how others can use it, I had a chance to chat with A.J. Agrawal – an entrepreneur who built his business, Alumnify, around it. A.J. is a fellow contributor at Entrepreneur as well as at Forbes, Huffington Post, and others.
Here’s an edited version of our e-mail interview:
Why begin with universities?
We started there because we saw a strong decrease year after year in alumni engagement. Right now, alumni engagement is at an all time low – under 10 percent. It was obvious that institutions were struggling to adjust to the new ways their alumni were communicating and engaging. So we saw the opportunity.
For about 85 years, alumni engagement was pretty steady. Then all of a sudden, in the 90’s it began to fall drastically. In panic mode, many schools chose to double down on the outbound marketing tactics that worked in the past: cold calls, snail mail, and increased email addresses. They also deployed better data tacking and software to help optimize open email rates as well as make the giving process easier for graduates.
But these strategies had no effect (or even a negative effect on engagement) because they were built on an overall strategy that was broken. So we decided we would build inbound marketing solutions to provide value to alumni first.
How do you begin inbound practices?
First, make sure you know what inbound marketing is. At its core, inbound is anything that provides a tremendous amount of value to your target customer without asking anything from them in return. There are tons of ways to do this and the best part is that most of the major strategies can be done for minimal cost.
One thing we recommend to companies we work with us is to start by getting a blog set up and to have someone be responsible for publishing regular content. One of the nice things about inbound marketing is that it requires companies to build major assets for their business. Your content library is a huge asset and will eventually help your SEO, and pull in more customers to your website.
Other popular inbound strategies include webinars, eBooks, infographics, mobile apps built to help your customers, and optimizing your social media.
Each business is different, so the strategy depends on factors including audience, industry, and expertise. Like most things, the hardest part is just getting started. Once you find an inbound strategy that starts to work, it becomes much easier to fine tune and expand on your traction.
Do you avoid outbound strategies?
Not at all. While inbound is definitely the future, some customers still respond well to outbound strategies. Even as an inbound company, we still cold call customers and send promotional emails once in a while — but as part of a complete plan.
When thinking about the brand I want for Alumnify, I don’t want prospects and customers avoiding our phone calls. The image of a customer seeing an Alumnify Team Member calling them and saying “Not these people again” is my worst nightmare. And it should be any entrepreneur’s nightmare too.
Instead, I believe that the key to getting customers to love us is to provide value without asking for anything in return. For example, we have a free inbound marketing email list we just launched yesterday with weekly tips and webinars. And I’m always happy to help any fellow entrepreneur hammer out an inbound strategy. That type of approach may take more work in the short run, but it’ll also help build a much better brand to our customers in the long run.
This is an article about a similar Inbound Marketing company like Markethive. Unlike Markethive, Pardot is not a social network, but is only an Inbound Marketing platform. In that aspect, they are a shadow of what Markethive does.
One of the more popular questions I get from entrepreneurs that are curious about selling a company is how we arrived at the Pardot acquisition price. My normal response is that we had $10 million in trailing twelve months (TTM) revenue at time of sale and we got 9.5x TTM. Well, since we’re more than three years out from the deal (see 3 Year Anniversary of the Pardot Exit), there’s actually much more to how we arrived at the acquisition price.
And, as you might expect, arriving at the price of a fast-growing SaaS startup isn’t as logical as you might think.
The original offer came in at $60 million. Looking at our growth rate (100%/year) and our run-rate ($13M ARR), we said we could wait 12 months, get to $20 million TTM, and then sell for 5-7x. We countered asking for $140 million.
Not knowing what would happen, but confident we were in a great place in a great market, we felt good about our counter.
48 hours later they came back and offered us $70 million. Time to play ball. We countered at $120 million.
48 hours later they came back and offered us $80 million. We countered at $110 million.
48 hours later they came back and offered us $90 million. We countered at $100 million.
48 hours later they came back and offered us $95 million. We said no. $100 million is our final offer.
Then, the final wrinkle emerged: they couldn’t pay $100 million. Even with $210 million in cash on the balance sheet at the time, they had already filed paperwork with the SEC to do a secondary offering, and based on rules as a public company, they’d have to withdraw the offering if they acquired a company for more than a certain percentage of assets. Well, $95 million was the max they could do if we wanted to do a deal now.
$95 million — take it or leave it.
We said yes. The deal closed 42 days later.
Not all acquisition prices are logical. Our deal was driven partly by our revenue, market multiples, market opportunity, and SEC rules. Go figure.
The MLM Company of The Future Must Successfully Retail
Thomas Prendergast (CEO Markethive Inc.): "The MLM industry needs to change. The general public is increasingly reluctant to buy overpriced products and distributors need opportunities with products that will actually sell in the marketplace."
There’s really nothing wrong with change. Change is a burden to some but an opportunity to others and there’s a lot of change going on in the MLM industry now. One of the biggest changes revolves around the issue of whether or not companies can come up with products that satisfy government requirements for retail volume. And whether they can get their distributors to actually retail more product.
Up to now the DSA, working in conjunction with MLM companies, and their armies of distributors, have been reasonably effective in staving off regulatory scrutiny and/or disciplinary action revolving around claims that MLM distributors focus more on recruiting than retailing.
The companies can claim all they want that their distributors really do retail but we all know that there’s very little retailing going on in the vast majority of companies. It’s one thing for a company to parrot what their official guidelines say about retailing requirements but the reality is that the overwhelming majority of MLM retail very little if at all. And they also have neither the skill nor the desire to be true salespeople.
But nothing happens… companies don’t survive… unless something is ‘sold’. So what have companies done to ‘move product’?
To the objective eye, simple observation shows that most companies spend more time selling ‘the dream’ than they do their products. Why is that?
It’s because if you want ‘the Dream’, you have to sign up for autoship.
The Dream is easier to sell than products… at least from the company point of view. In fact it’s clear that companies make a conscious decision to train their distributors to ‘sell the dream’ rather than products. Just look at the relative allocation of time spent at most MLM company’s meetings. It’s obvious where their focus is.
But can the industry survive in this mode?
The MLM company recruit today (at least in the US and most developed countries) is a lot smarter than back in the early days. The internet has made it extremely easy for them to not only shop ‘product quality’ but also to research MLM company reputations.
They don’t want overpriced products which they can only purchase along with a ‘dream’ that they may or may not want at that particular time. Nor are they attracted to companies which a simple Wikipedia search shows has a history of lawsuits.
One could make a reasonable case that this is one of the reasons that most MLM companies have resorted to going to foreign markets (i.e. outside the US) for most of their growth. It’s easier to sell The Dream there.
Those foreign consumers and potential distributors aren’t yet as sophisticated in evaluating MLM products and opportunities as most western consumers are. Often times (e.g. in China) they’ll buy anything that they perceive as ‘western’.
Consumers are very wary of ‘dream hype’ today. Instead, they want quality products they can afford and for their ‘opportunity’, they want companies with retailable products that consumers will reorder and upon which they (i.e. the distributor) can build a recurring revenue stream.
While a few companies have quality, affordable products, almost none have really enabled their distributors to last long enough in their business model to build ‘a business’.
Unfortunately the industry as it stands right now is geared toward success through recruiting and not retail sales. And isn’t it strange that among the new breed of true direct sales companies (e.g. especially those in the fashion and accessory niche like Rodan & Fields, Origami Owl, and others) none of them have had any problems with regulators.
Virtually all the investigations of claims of front-loading and illegal commissions based on recruiting have been against companies that use an MLM recruiting model. Isn’t that interesting?
Some companies have been a success with helping distributors build retail sales volume. One such company was TriVita, the Arizona based company in the nutritional supplement niche.
For many years TriVita did late-night television advertising, generated leads, and sold product direct from the company while simultaneously allowing distributors to purchase those leads, continue to service the customers, and pocket the profit.
The company also allowed recruiting too but if a distributor preferred to ‘buy their volume’ by purchasing customers who were already buying on a regular basis) that was OK.
Many distributors built very large, recurring revenue businesses based primarily on TriVita’s ‘customer purchase’ program.
Here at OBTAINER we have an acquaintance who was in TriVita but left the company when he could no longer ‘buy’ customers. That was several years ago yet to this day he still receives substantial income from his TriVita ‘customers’.
The point is that the industry has a well-deserved image of being a ‘churn and burn’ operation for selling dreams that very few actually achieve.
It’s nice that it takes less money to get into an MLM business but…so what? Failure isn’t fun for anybody… regardless of how expensive or cheap the lesson was. And some would argue that the low expense of getting into most MLM businesses is one of its biggest problems….people don’t treat it seriously.
But there’s another reason why MLM companies need to clean up their image of being concerned only with recruiting: if enough consumers (i.e. voters) start to complain to their elected representatives about the way we run our companies and businesses, regulators will have no choice but to step in and start mandating changes.
At some point, no amount of lobbying by the DSA or letter-writing campaigns by distributors will protect MLM companies from politicians who are getting bombarded by angry consumers and X-distributors who say they were lied to.
The logical question would be… is it possible to put non-sales oriented new distributors in a position where they can own a business that makes real retail sales?
Yes it is. TriVita did it once. They had the skill and the willingness to spend the money to generate customers on their own. But for some reason they were ‘turned by the dark side’ and gave up their successful advertising programs and their customer-purchase programs in return for what most MLM companies apparently think is easier money.
There’s another company on the horizon now too which appears to have a product that people will purchase at retail and a method of assisting new distributors to acquire new customers.
That company is Valentus.com. The reports that we hear are that their product is very good and that sales are good and growing rapidly. According to one Valentus distributor we know (the guy who used to be with TriVita), part of the reason that Valentus distributors’ downlines grow is the ‘power-line’ concept they use on their website(s). This particular distributor is supposedly in the process of presenting some other ideas on lead-generation to Valentus.
For now, Valentus has had good success using an automatic Powerline concept with people who inquire about their product or opportunity on their website..
Powerlines aren’t new. They just work a lot better when the company makes a good product. In the case of Valentus, anybody who requests information about the company is automatically put into a constantly growing powerline where they can visibly see their downline growing.
That new prospect is constantly reminded how their potential downline is growing. If the prospect wants to take advantage of those potential sign-ups, they can sign up first. If they don’t mind being passed up, they don’t have to sign up but they can still buy product.
Valentus doesn’t have a complex product line. They’re in the coffee niche and reports are that their product is not only cost-competitive but it also tastes good.
The coffee niche of MLM is definitely not saturated. Coffee is still a huge business… and it’s a simple product with broad appeal that everybody understands (the Steinkeller Brothers, formerly of Organo Gold proved that).
The point of this article is that MLM companies would be well-advised to start paying more attention to successful retailing. If they don’t, and the consumer gets angry enough, regulators will step in… and it won’t be pretty.
Thanks to Art Williams for most of this article.
Terms mentioned in the title image
Functional Silos (Typical issue within MLMs): An individual business function that tends to act as a stand-alone function, often formulating its own strategies and work plans in parallel with other business functions. This expression is used when describing an organization whose functions tend to be less communicative and collaborative. Companies with functional silos may have greater difficulty in creating strong, competitive products because they may fail to recognize the benefit of cross-functional teaming
Cultural / Customer Alienation: To simplify a complex equation, most MLM company cultures refuses to build an array of Social Media profiles (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Youtube, Skype, Email, Texting, Whatsapp, phone, , chat windows, etc. (The full array); So as to go to their “customer” instead of making the customer come to them. We all know the frustration of having to seek access to the company and being told to only use their back office chat between certain hours. I say, Be Like Amazon! The customer must be in the companies DNA!
The Data Management platform (DMP dashboards): Put simply for another complex concept, it takes complex data, tracking data, Google trends, Alexa rankings, purchasing data, profiles, logins, sales, returns and delivers it in understandable charts and graphs so the data manager, marketer, owner, staff, etc. can quickly ascertain what actions are working and which ones are not, so as to be able to take the right actions in a timely affair. Sort a like what the Markethive dashboards do.
Customer Centricity Definition disconnect: Personally, when I have asked many a Network Marketing enterprises owners and principles what is “customer centricity” none of them have a clue. In sharp contrast Jeff Bezoz not only knows what it is, it is in his DNA “Put simply, “creating and delivering a positive consumer experience, prior to the sale, the point of sale, the process of the sale, the delivery of the purchase, after the sale and into the future”. Basically, the company must operate a totally symbiotic fusion within the system and seek out and handle their potential, current and former customers with an empathetic culture, thereby turning their customers into raving fanatics for the company. Kapish?
Support issue: Support as illustrated above, should operate with empathy, 24 hours a day from multiple communication ports with authority to solve and delight the customer with a what ever it takes to please said customer before the interaction is concluded. In todays networks, Internet and advanced communications, a happy customer will tell maybe a few hundred, whereby, a pissed of customer will file rip off reports, scam complaints and tell millions.
Failing to grasp or understand data analytics: When you look at the forest what do you see? Without the assistance of a dynamic interface delivering live data results across all aspects of the business, marketing and sales efforts, analysis is far short of being timely. Yet in the MLM industry, most companies only look at current sales volume and new distributor registrations. Failing to ascertain true trends and addressing dynamic actions to the immediate changes. Doing so, builds a nimble and dynamic experience for customer, prospect and employee.
Sales before the customer: MLM distributors are guilty of this and the mother company does nothing to address it. Focusing on the sales, not the customer, is a gross mistake and will always result in fatigue and worse failure. This is an issue the company should invest heavily into, thereby turning up the level of sales exponentially. In the words of Dale Carnegie, a pioneer in the self-improvement movement, "The only way to influence the other fellow is to talk about what he wants and show him how to get it." Customer-Focused Selling is a selling technique that emphasizes a genuine dialogue between the salesperson and the customer. Before talking product and/or service, a customer-focused salesperson strives to uncover a customer's underlying personal and/or professional needs and may even help the customer identify and phrase these needs. Then, instead of delivering a standard sales pitch about a product or service, the salesperson presents a tailored solution that meets the customer's needs, using the customer's language.
As inbound marketers, we recommend focusing on building deeper engagement with just your target customers rather than advertising to everyone. We spend our time creating content to get found by the most relevant prospects. However, when it comes to social media it makes sense to work to build reach beyond just the most targeted prospects. This is why we are building and inventing the Markethive Reach Platform(s)
The power of the network. The Power of Markethive!
Social media embodies the power of the network (The Hive). The more people you are connected to, the more potential you have to reach relevant prospects who are open to your proposition.
In social media reach is crucial as it directly impacts how much your content and messages get shared. The more connected you are – with followers in Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn etc – the greater your ability to get found and generate leads.
Here are three key reasons that inbound marketers should consistently spend time increasing their followings in social media.
Reaching followers' followers and influencers
Having more followers means you get access to more of your followers' followers. The value of this comes from retweeting, commenting or mentioning you. For example, if one of your Twitter followers interacts with one of your tweets, that content is potentially getting exposed to everyone who follows them.
You're then reaching people who weren't following you and probably didn't know about you. Even if that original follower never becomes a customer, they've still exposed you to people who might.
Social media shares impact your SEO
Social media's impact on SEO is increasing with search engines taking social cues like shares into account when returning search results. Again, the more people that share/recommend your content, the better.
Serendipity and unexpected personas
Of course, you've developed personas as part of your inbound marketing and are working hard to create content that engages and nurtures them into becoming customers. Personas are essential and help us focus but social media creates opportunities to connect with people we weren't expecting to become customers.
Building up your following in social media gives the potential for exposure of your brand and products to people you might never have thought would be interested in what you sell and leads them back to your content.
Little and often – the secret to social media reach
If building reach isn't something you're already doing, start following new people who follow your current followers. Find influencers in your network and connect with them. Retweet and comment on their tweets and you will start to build your social media reach. Do it consistently and in a few weeks you'll have increased your reach significantly and your potential reach even more.
Markethive combines your social network associates with your message brand and exponentially explodes your reach
Find out more at the Markethive Workshops regarding the Reach
To be one of the Internet’s leading producers and providers of Marketing Automation and Entrepreneurial support through a vertical social network.
Using our portfolio of technology and mentoring to assist our memberships to differentiate themselves a level above the rest we seek to create the most creative, innovative, powerful and profitable entrepreneurs in the world.
By doing so we expect to make Markethive the most powerful Social Network in the world.
#2 Markethive Mission Statement Summary:
We help you simplify your Internet Marketing environment so that you can free up money, time and creativity to invest in your success.
We do this by providing a comprehensive and fully integrated portfolio of applications, platform systems, proprietary engineering (all known as Inbound Marketing), mentoring fused into the Social Network of Markethive.
#3 Markethive Mission Statement Summary:
To bring inspiration and innovation to every entrepreneur* in the world.
*”If you have a dream, a vision and a goal, you are an entrepreneur”.
#4 Markethive Mission Statement Summary:
Give every entrepreneur the power to build a business and make the world a better place with more individual autonomy and liberty for all.
The Rise of the Entrepreneurs is gaining momentum.
Markethive is the ecosystem for Entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are leaders, "not managers". Innovators and visionaries with an endless supply of enthusiasm and connected to a resource of inner knowledge and ideas.
Many potential entrepreneurs are inhibited and in bondage to the consistent worldly messages to conform, to get the job, become a cog, get a college education, go into debt and comply to the authoritative message. Competent entrepreneurs walk in front and show others the way.
They take on the hard to do, they lift the heavy obstacles, and like the Marines, are always first in and last out. Tom Sawyer is the proverbial entrepreneur, showing the crowd a master piece in the process of painting the fence faster and better than the crowd who gathered to watch.
It is awe that makes the crowd members pick up a brush and join in and inspired by Tom they stay involved through the entire process and keep recruiting others. Entrepreneurs never take short cuts. They stand firm on ethics and imbibe a level of integrity others are attracted to and recognize.
Entrepreneurs are natural born leaders. They don’t stop for nearly as many breaks or gather around and watch others. Entrepreneurs always hoe to the end of the row, even in heat, rain, storm or even when supper is calling. Entrepreneurs rarely get fired.
But they often get fired up. They will quit any job that asks them to do something they don’t believe in. But they will work at any job if the reason is strong enough or they have given their word.
We have been conducting work shops regarding building an automated solution to massive reach publication utilizing the power of Markethive.You should discover this power for yourself, where with some effort, you could be building reaches into the billions. Remember the Hammer? This eclipses it. This means your message cvould literally be put in front of millions, even billions. With a group (swarm) engaged, means your message could literally be in front of millions and billions hundereds even 1000s of times a day. Think about it.
The Capture Widget / Autoresponders
I have been engaged in buiilding capture pages and autoresponders so I can make instructional blogs and videos for you. Did you know Markethive has the only 1 click subscription system? And your capture pages can easily rotate the leads to your group?
Markethive has fused the Social Aspect of Entrepreneurs with a state of the art very powerful Marketing platform for free. Email Autoresponders, Capture Pages, Blogcasting, etc.
Attain top SEO and reach billions of people on the Social Networks is a typical day for the Entrepreneur at Markethive
The Force Multiplier
When you gather the troops of Entrepreneurs as a family, with a common goal, the power of the Inbound Marketing of Markethive explodes exponentially.
Broadcasts in the trillions begin to happen, reaching SEO results unheard of and building lifelong partnerships with other Entrepreneurs is Markethive.
I started using Markethive a few months ago. The Tools are incredible, rotators, tracking, coop press releases, email autoresponders, capture pages, the blog platform is genius, the knowledge shared and the family of other entrepreneurs just makes the results of marketing with Markethive the very best.
It is all free, because they fund the system with advertising and then share 50% of the advertising with us in the affiliate program.
I made this "first generation" capture page in the Markethive Blog system, to show you what can be done. It is swipe-able, so please use it for your own benefits. Make sure to change out the capture widget code! You need to remove this TAG too.
Rick Wiles interviews retired firefighter Mark Taylor who was given this prophetic revelation in 2011. The Lord has chosen Mr. Trump to bring America back from the brink of destruction. Mr. Taylor wrote this amazing prophecy in 2011 giving us a glimpse of what's to come and why all who attack Mr. Trump will fall by the wayside. What's amazing is that this revelation has gone forth to thousands. The wrath of God has come not for the people of America but for the leaders of the establishment. ("I have the same revelation and have said so for over three months maybe longer. Judgment has come fot the wickedness in our leadership and Donald Trump is leading the way." Thomas Prendergast CEO Markethive) The hour of judgment is upon them. The light has begun to shine and the darkness of evil will prevail no more.
The Spirit of God says, I have chosen this man, Donald Trump, for such a time as this. For as Benjamin Netanyahu is to Israel, so shall this man be to the United States of America! For I will use this man to bring honor, respect and restoration to America. America will be respected once again as the most powerful and prosperous nation on earth, (other than Israel). The dollar will be the strongest it has ever been in the history of the United States, and will once again be the currency by which all others are judged.
The Spirit of God says, the enemy will quake and shake and fear this man I have anointed. They will even quake and shake when he announces he is running for president, it will be like the shot heard across the world. The enemy will say what shall we do now? This man knows all our tricks and schemes. We have been robbing America for decades, what shall we do to stop this? The Spirit says HA! No one shall stop this that l have started! For the enemy has stolen from America for decades and it stops now! For I will use this man to reap the harvest that the United States has sown for and plunder from the enemy what he has stolen and return it seven-fold back to the United States. The enemy will say Israel, Israel, what about Israel? For Israel will be protected by America once again. The spirit says yes! America will once again stand hand and hand with Israel, and the two shall be as one. For the ties between Israel and America will be stronger than ever, and Israel will flourish like never before.
The Spirit of God says, I will protect America and Israel, for this next president will be a man of his word, when he speaks the world will listen and know that there is something greater in him than all the others before him. This man’s word is his bond and the world and America will know this and the enemy will fear this, for this man will be fearless. The Spirit says, when the financial harvest begins so shall it parallel in the spiritual for America.
The Spirit of God says, in this next election they will spend billions to keep this president in; it will be like flushing their money down the toilet. Let them waist their money, for it comes from and it is being used by evil forces at work, but they will not succeed, for this next election will be a clean sweep for the man I have chosen. They will say things about this man (the enemy), but it will not affect him, and they shall say it rolls off of him like the duck, for as the feathers of a duck protect it, so shall my feathers protect this next president. Even mainstream news media will be captivated by this man and the abilities that I have gifted him with, and they will even begin to agree with him says the Spirit of God.
Markethive did not invent the blog, but we certainly have made it exponentially more powerful. We certainly have added fun, understanding, reach, groups, daily workshops, understanding and power to the process.
Markethive has successfully combined all the technical and tactical aspects and requirements into one system, but have also overcome the obstacles to make blogging a group process, combined with motivated mentors to help the newbie easily immerse and embrace the process.
We did not invent Word Press, but we have significantly taken Word Press serious and made it exponentially better. This blog’s focus is to help you understand the paradigm dynamic shift Markethive has brought to marketing, blogging and the individual within the hive.
The following video attempts to reveal and illustrate how the whole social blogging platform in Markethive changes the entire Internet field of engagement.
You can approach the challenge alone, hire a firm and/or a virtual assistance and take the Internet on. This ego centered approach works for many who have the grit and stamina and educated skills of journalism and polished writing (a note here: As the Internet has evolved, the polished blogger vs the blogger that lacks the polish but has the passion, wins in today’s culture).
Approaching the blogosphere as a crew, a group, a gang or a family wins today. Because fresh, new, consistent and current content win and win you combine a social network into a blogging platform, the results are impressive.
Understanding SEO isn’t easy, and Google doesn’t help things much by changing the algorithms and policies on a regular basis. Seems like every time we get a handle on things, the rules change, and we’re all left wondering what we’re doing wrong and what we might still possibly be doing right.
The whole SEO quotient changes when the social network variable is integrated. This is why SEO at Markethive changes the playing field.
So a social network integrated blogging solution is at hand, and, there’s one thing you may have been doing correctly already from the start: That being blogging. You probably have a million reasons to blog, not the least of which include building trust among your buyers, positioning yourself as an expert, and simply sharing news with your company’s followers. Then, of course, there are those activities that help to boost your SEO rankings. These can only help you if you know how to use them, so make note of these 9 reasons blogging can boost your SEO.
Enter the Markethive Social Network Engine combined with the Inbound Marketing Engine. Kind of reminds of the Hot Rods of the 60s like Eddie Hill’s double dragon (see image):
Except with Markethive, the combining the two huge engines of the Internet, Social Networking and Inbound Marketing has an exponential nature to it, not just a geometrical quotient.
This innovative integration of these two power houses has a powerful effect on all that ios Internet Marketing as I illustrate, please read on.
The following is the conventional wisdom perspective to today’s linking approach.
Some of the techniques used for SEO when blogging raise eyebrows, and back linking is no exception. Many will tell you link schemes will get you a slap on the wrist from Google, and they’d be right. Does that mean you can’t build relationships with other companies and blogs by including links and asking for some in return? Not at all.
You can still benefit greatly from being linked and linking to others, but there are some things to keep in mind. First, if you’ve paid for your link, be sure they use the nofollow designation. Otherwise, you’ll be penalized. Next, work with reputable, quality sites that fit your blog’s niche. When links to your blog appear on sites that have nothing to do with your company, you’ll get another ding from Google. Finally, use the same basic rules for any blogs you link to on your site.
Good quality links from popular, well-respected sites can definitely help your SEO rankings, but only if you do it right.
Now, with that said, the amazing change that occurs to your campaign to build organic, condust and create relationships in the blogging power of the Inbound Marketing Social Network of Markethive, delivers a plethora of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), SNM (Social Network Marketing) and the advantages therein if developing unlimited streams of unique content, automated into literally millions of sites, social networks, social bookmarks, blogging platforms from the stream of content that flows out of the Markethive Social Network you are part of or built.
So what does all that mean? As the natural order of our recent tech releases of the Blog Casting (Social Broadcaster) and Blog Swiping (where your friends and other members can easily copy and edit your blog) then publish it and with the advent of this opening the possibility with these new tools produce a cacophony of your content, links, back links, side links, social reaches into the millions. All built upon chaos theory and technology.
The natural organic process to build a huge amazing white hat mass of blog and site links and social reach, thereby, the vision of the Blog Cloud has come to be reality, thank you Markethive, the social networked Inbound Marketing juggernaut.
Simply put, not just combining but fully integrating two platforms, the Entrepreneurial Social Network and a fully appointed Inbound Marketing platform, has opened up doorways not otherwise capable or even aware of or identified in the exponential character of the Markethive Hybrid. Sort of like Twin Towers built on the same foundation.
Actually more like a million communities of twin towers all inter connected and pulsing and thriving with the constant flow of content and videos and communications (comments and messaging) even further empowered with a constant thriving community of live conference room activity.
Again Markethive takes the awkward and difficult process of guest blogging and turns it into a graceful social dance. I will explain after I share again the Internet’s explanation of what has been defined as guest blogging.
The latest hoopla suggests guest blogging is dead, but that’s not necessarily true. As with the backlinking, guest blogs can be tremendously beneficial to the SEO of your website. If you work with reputable writers who are indeed experts in their industry, their popularity can only help you.
For this tactic to work, you must be vigilant when screening potential bloggers. Interview them, research their backgrounds, and compare their submission to everything they’ve written before to make sure you get truly unique content. If you follow Google’s quality guidelines, your guest blog from a well-known source will bring you tremendous traffic and boost your search engine rankings.
Markethive has turned this difficult proposition into one of grace and ease. Because the core of your blogging can now be centered within Markethive, which supports and publishes to just about every blogging platform out there. As a social network, you can build a sphere of influence easily with others who are open to and or capable of assisting in your blogging efforts.
Groups also serve as additional blogging platforms, for the individual who keeps track of different campaigns separated by the groups. Groups also parlay into teams of content creators, allow a team captain to manage and lead the agenda and monitor and choose the array of articles by the group to which blog(s) that article automatically gets sent.
The options that the Markethive tools has created for diverse and distributed content is unlimited and better managed than any other option available in the blogosphere.
Group Blogging not only replaces the old guard of guest blogging, it enhances it, makes it easier to, manage and distribute. It changes the entire playing field.
You can integrate single Markethive members, and/or integrate entire groups into as many blog systems you wish. By simply organizing, selecting and developing different cock tails groups for your blogs, you can literally create unlimited selections and unlimited content for unlimited blogs, your blogs, their blogs, unlimited groups of competent writers and marketers. Get into the mix, join some groups, and get into some Workshops and put the system to work for you.
We can even say that you can produce dynamic content on your blog without as much effort as the conventional way.
Search engines love fresh, unique content. How often do the pages on your website change? Probably not very often at all. That’s why you must keep a steady blog filled with new information every week. Those search engines customers used to find companies just like yours will pull the freshest and most relevant content whenever a search is performed. If your site hasn’t been updated with new information in over a year, you can bet someone else’s will rank higher than yours in the results.
By blogging, you build relationships with your readers, position yourself as an expert in the field, and perhaps most importantly, provide new content for Google to index.
By joining Markethive you build relationships with thousands of others who are actively building business, blogging, researching, etc. basically being “entrepreneurs” and advancing their businesses and agendas. Often you can join with these people as friends, group members and subscribers of theirs via Blog Casting, Blog Sharing and Blog Swiping.
When you are an active member in a good group (active and current), using meetings and live webinars, discussions breed inspirations which support developing new content. Here is a tip I use to help with fresh content. I want to write about the “current trends for the entrepreneur market”. So I go to Google and I search the tail words SEO entrepreneur trends but I designate a small tool many are not aware of.
It is found in “Search tools” in the Google search as the illustration below demonstrates. Choose last week or within 24 hours to get very fresh current content to use in building your blog article. This way, you are assured to be utilizing current references building current articles, sharing with your groups and creating a dynamic culture. Checking new content with Google daily in relations to your agenda is something that should also be shared (the search link) within your groups for discussion.
Keywords go hand in hand with fresh content. It also pays to see what current or newest results are shown for current sites utilizing the same technique for current content for your research and agenda.
Even though keywords really don’t hold the same weight they once did, it still needs your attention. In fact, this is another aspect of SEO you can do really wrong and end up punished for. The age of cramming keywords into a blog over and over, regardless of what they add to the content, is over. Now those keywords have to serve a purpose. You really want to make sure you choose unique keywords that will lead searchers to your site but not so unique that no one thinks to use them. If you choose words that are used too often, you won’t get much benefit out of them.
Your best bet with keywords and search terms is to use long-tail keywords and phrases that people may use when searching. Instead of focusing too much on keyword placement and making sure you include the words a certain number of times, concentrate on simply answering questions. Provide knowledge for those who reach your site. They don’t need a million keywords; they need answers.
For instance, the long-tail keyword “Inbound Marketing” had barely begun trending in 2009 with a slow crawl upward until just recently, with the advent of Markethive’s soft launch and discussions of the definition of “Inbound Marketing” and the increase of Social Network chatter in that regards we are now seeing the current trend start to grow.
My first company invented what we called “Automated Marketing” but today fits the new definition “Inbound Marketing” As you can see the term “Automated Marketing” is trending down from a long crown of being a top searched keyword.
See the trend towards “Marketing Automation” beginning? Why is Marketing Automation trending up and Automated Marketing trending down? Does it deserve research?
In my opinion no, but, what does need to be looked at in my regards is our new pre launched/soft launched company (as of May7, 2016) is the Trademark “Markethive”.
Because if we read these trends right, we want to make sure we mention Markethive often in connection to “Inbound Marketing” and “Marketing Automation”. This will place squarely in front of the trend curve binding the “long tail” keywords together.
Markethive’s SEO keyword system leads us to these research outcomes, but until the Google API is fully integrated to Markethive’s Keyword platform I go to the Google Trend panel here as well.
When your blogs are shared and consequently clicked on, they move up in the search rankings. If you’re providing quality content, your readers will want others to know. Of course, the only way to make sure your blogs contribute to your website’s popularity is to create unique content, provide answers for visitors, and then share your blogs wherever you can.
That key point “Share your blogs wherever you can” is another way of saying “Broadcast” them. And Markethive has taken Broadcasting to new heights with Blog Casting and SNAP. Blog Casting is a Markethive subscribe feature that other Markethive members use to subscribe to your Markethive blog. When they subscribe (and the potential is 1000s of them), your blog posts are automatically posted to their Facebook Newsfeeds, LinkedIn activity feeds and your Twitter tweets feed.
When you understand that this down stream of subscribers, fellow entrepreneurs at MarketHive, are exposing their connections to your message, they are lifting you up, increasing your popularity and building greater branding for you.
Then there is the Blog Sharing feature that also allows your fellow Markethive entrepreneurs to import your blog posts to their WordPress blogs using the SNAP plugin increasing your message (your posts) to another 25 of their social networks, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn company pages, SumbleUpon, Tumbler, Livejournal, Blogspot, ets, exponentially increasing your exposure and adding to your back links.
When you discover the responsibility this represents that you show respect, produce quality content to your loyal downstream, you now have the opportunity to build a huge popular following. Markethive, The Rise of the Entrepreneur. We have put a great future in your hands. Now it is up to you.
Including images in your blog gives you one more way search engines can find you. Make sure you name them according to the search terms or keywords, and then do the same for the alt-text. The alt-text is meant to describe what’s in the image for those who don’t or aren’t able to see images on their computer screens. For this reason, your alt-text must be carefully crafted to serve two purposes: SEO and information.
I search a lot in images and so do others. They may be looking for an image to fill a need, the reasons vary, but a lot of traffic does come from image searching, so do not ignore this small duty. Alt tags serve an important batch of duties.
When installing images in the Markethive HTML control panel, the following Image control panel, second tab, is where to enter your keywords and descriptions.
When looking at the HTML code, this is exactly what ALT tags look like and search engines Index.
As with photos, video simply gives you more dynamic content that you can share with your readers. Remember they’re looking for excellent, unique content, so be sure you include only videos that serve a purpose. Proprietary videos are always the best bet, since syndicated content will show up on several different sites during a search result.
If you have never made a video, get some screen capturing software. I use Camtasia (cost about $300)
I also down load others videos to use them in my final productions. I build titles and other content with Photoshop Software, but there are other cheaper alternatives. Many of my friends recommend GIMP for image editing. https://www.gimp.org/
I recommend you make as many of your videos you can, but do not produce bad or funky videos. Today, you need quality and you are welcome to download and use all Markethive videos I produce for yourself.
Be sure you tag your videos with appropriate search terms before you post. Let readers know exactly what’s going on in the video so they can find your content in a search.
I know video editing and production can be daunting to many at first. However, we have plenty od excellent talent that offer video workshops in Markethive. Just check the calendar or enquire within the membership (Social Network).
Remember we are all Entrepreneurs and most of us are also philanthropic and want to help you succeed. I know I do.
Check the calendar
Believe it or not, Google also returns social media search results. If you connect your blog to your Facebook, Twitter, and other social media accounts, you give search engines one more thing to find when people look for your company. As long as you use search terms in your titles and meta descriptions, you’ll boost your SEO through social media listings, too.
A popular set of current wisdom pulled from the Internet void (5 Things to Think About When Considering The Impact of Social on SEO) :
1. Social Links May or May Not Boost Your Search Rank
Okay, social signals pertaining to a profile’s authority are out, but does Google consider links published on social accounts to be credible backlinks? When a blog post goes viral on Twitter, do those new links boost the post’s search ranking?
Many marketers believe that links to your website via social media accounts do have a major impact on your rankings. Says Marketing Consultant Brian Honigman:
Today, links are mainly achieved through developing original content that is in turn, shared across social media. Links to your content on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube and other social networks help the search engines understand what websites are credible and should be ranked for what keyword phrases.
In Danny Sullivan’s 2010 interview with Google and Bing for Search Engine Watch, Google first says that it doesn’t incorporate the number of times a link has been tweeted into their search rank algorithm, and then it goes on to say that it does (doh). Bing says that it definitely looks at this data:
We take into consideration how often a link has been tweeted or retweeted, as well as the authority of the Twitter users that shared the link.
While Cutts’ 2014 video is crystal-clear about the absence of social signals from the search algorithm, he does say that Google crawls social websites for data in the same way that it would any other site:
Facebook and Twitter pages are treated like any other pages in our web index, and so if something occurs on Twitter or occurs on Facebook and we’re able to crawl it then we can return that in our search results.
This leads me to think that while the authority of a social account doesn’t impact search rank, links published on social media could be marked as credible back-links and thus influence a page’s rank.
Takeaways: When Cutts made his statement about Google not factoring in social signals I understood him to mean clues about a particular company’s authority on social media, which, for me, is distinct from the number of times a page has been linked to on social media. Further research didn’t help me get much clarity on this point.
If there are any SEO experts reading this, I’d love for you to chime in below in the comments.
2. Social Media Profiles Rank in Search Engines
While social shares may or may not affect a webpage’s position in search listings, your social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. In fact, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names. When I searched “General Electric” in Google, the company’s Instagram and Pinterest profiles appeared as the 5th and 6th listings, respectively, and Twitter was the 8th result.
Moreover, Google displayed the company’s Google+ profile information in the right-hand sidebar at the very top of the search results page.
While social shares may or may not affect a webpage’s position in search listings, your social profiles definitely influence the content of your search results. In fact, social media profiles are often amongst the top results in search listings for brand names. When I searched “General Electric” in Google, the company’s Instagram and Pinterest profiles appeared as the 5th and 6th listings, respectively, and Twitter was the 8th result.
Social channels can feel more personal than webpages, and they’re a great way to get a sense of a company’s personality off the bat. When I’m researching a company I don’t know much about I typically go straight to their Twitter or Facebook page. So if a social account shows up at the top of the search results, I’m just as likely to click on it as I would be to click on their website.
Takeaway: There’s no doubt that your social profiles matter to Google and especially to people who are looking for you online. A few active social channels can make the experience of getting to know your brand online more fun, engaging and personal. Also, while some may consider Google+ a non-essential social channel, marketers shouldn’t discount the fact that a company’s Google+ profile is one of the first things a searcher will see (and potentially click on). As such, it pays to have a profile with up-to-date info and engaging content.
3. Social Media Channels Are Search Engines, Too
Nowadays, people don’t just go to Google and Bing to look stuff up; they also use social media channels to find what they’re looking for. Patel makes this point in his article on why social is the new SEO: “We need to understand that search engine optimization includes the search that happens on social media search engines.”
This works in a couple of ways: First, if you’re active on Twitter, it’s entirely possible that people will discover your company’s new content distribution app after searching for content marketing-related tweets with Twitter’s search engine. Likewise, brands that lend themselves to beautiful visual content can benefit from making their content visible in Pinterest and Instagram by using hashtags and properly categorizing their pins.
Moreover, as mentioned in point #1, if someone wants to check out your company, they’re likely to open Twitter and Facebook and do a quick search to see what kind of presence you have on each channel. YouTube, and, of course, Google+ are also search engines.
Here are some impressive stats that illuminate just how much people are using social media to search:
As of 2010, Twitter handled 19 billion search queries a month (that’s more than 5x the queries handled by Bing!).
In 2012 Facebook said it got around one billion search queries per day.
As of March 2010, YouTube got roughly 3.7 billion search queries a month. Also, 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, making it one of the largest content repositories on the web.
Takeaways: Companies should expand their concept of SEO to include not just the traditional search engines––Google and Bing––but also social search engines.
When searching for a brand on Facebook or Twitter it’s not uncommon to see several different profiles pop up, and it’s not always clear which one is the real deal. Marketers need to ensure that it’s super easy for users to identify their official social profiles.
This may mean deleting duplicate accounts and/or clearly labeling each social account so that users understand what purpose they serve (for example, accounts for HR or press versus general brand pages).
4. Not Now Doesn’t Mean Not Ever
Just because Google says that social signals don’t currently impact search rank doesn’t mean they never will. Social media shows no sign of becoming a less important part of a brand or person’s online presence anytime soon; moreover, given that link-building strategies like guest blogging have become a less reliable way to indicate the quality of a webpage, it makes sense that search engines would begin to look for other signals of authority and value.
Takeaways: There’s no reason why social signals won’t begin to affect search rankings in the future, so smart brands will continue to build their authority in key social channels and think about social when designing their SEO strategy.
5. Don’t Forget Bing
Google may have back-tracked and changed their stance on social signals, but I haven’t found any evidence that what Bing told Sullivan for his Search Engine Watch interview doesn’t hold true today.
Remember, Bing said:
We do look at the social authority of a user. We look at how many people you follow, how many follow you, and this can add a little weight to a listing in regular search results.
Takeaways: Bing, which is the second most-used search engine, has been crystal clear about how their algorithm incorporates social signals into their search results, and, unlike Google, they haven’t flip-flopped on the issue. With its market share steadily growing, companies would be wise to include Bing in their SEO strategies.
Cutts’ claim that Google’s search algorithm ignores social signals should not be seen as an invitation for marketers to dismiss social’s impact on SEO. Instead, marketers should broaden their concept of search and SEO to take into account the myriad ways that people find content on the web. They also need to think about the positive effects that increased traffic from social can potentially have on their search rankings as well as the prominence of social profiles on first-page search results.
Ultimately, the web is all about building relationships, fostering audiences, expressing identity and sharing ideas––it’s inherently social, and there’s no reason that SEO best practices would go against the grain, especially since the rules that govern SEO are ultimately meant to make the web a more enjoyable and useful place.
Perhaps the most important reason of all to blog is the fact that each post counts as a new page on your website. Google really does like fresh content and will reward those who share frequently. Those who do include a business blog on their site will see up to 55% more traffic than companies who don’t. The reason for this is the indexed pages. For Google to index those pages, you need to include at least 300 quality words. That means reblogging, short blogs, and duplicating content won’t help you. There is a time and place for the previously mentioned blog types, but not when you’re hoping to boost your SEO.
Now that you understand why blogging is essential to improving your SEO results, you probably want to get started right away. Don’t get bogged down or feel overwhelmed. A systematic approach is what you need, starting with a content calendar. Simply start by answering those burning questions your potential customers have. Plan blogs that will touch on their pain points. You’ll see results sooner than you ever thought possible.
This is part of my series on Building a Sales and Marketing Machine. In this post I provide advice for building your own Inbound Marketing machine- a requirement for most businesses today.
The web has forever changed people’s buying habits. Instead of needing to rely on sales people to send them information, buyers now have Google and other search engines to research products, find competitors, and see how other people rate those products in blogs and reviews. Furthermore they are greatly influenced by individuals that have emerged as experts in particular subject areas who use social media to get their messages across.
This sea change in buying behavior requires vendors to re-think how they go to market, and optimize to make sure that they will get found by buyers using search engines, blogs, reviews, and social media. The term Inbound Marketing was invented by the crew at Markethive (When they were Veretekk), when they developed the techniques and technologies that are needed to get found by buyers, and to make sure that the reviews and blogs around your industry segment cover what you are doing. (Markethive provides great software tools, plus education to help you automate Inbound Marketing. The founder, Thomas Prendergast has written many great books on these topics (dating back as far as 20 years ago) “Automated Marketing”, Customer Centricity”, Building a Better Website”, “The Power of the Social Network in Search Engines”, Conference Room Advantage”.
Markethive produced this great humorous video that highlights the hopelessness of the old techniques of the Outbound Marketing moron:
As further evidence of this change in buying behavior, I was recently talking to the CIO of a large pharmaceutical company, and he told me how he hates spam emails from vendors, and how he had developed a canned email response to them. I asked him to forward me a copy of that email, and have excerpted a couple of paragraphs from it that quite clearly describe the carnage:
“Please understand that I get dozens of these types of messages a week. I simply do not have time to read them, dig into them, follow-up on them, or reply to them. The most effective solution to this problem is for me to ignore the messages, which is what I usually do. …
… Finally, a small comment. As a customer, I find this type of approach to sales to be largely annoying to me and unproductive for you. We learn far more about what we want to purchase by searching the web, looking for customer references in blogs and forums, word of mouth, and by finding white papers on your site that concretely describe solutions to problems we are having.”
Remarkable Content is King
A key part of getting found is making sure you show up on the first page of a Google search. The lazy marketer’s approach to doing this is to purchase Google Adwords, and pay by the click (referred to as SEM, Search Engine Marketing). However 85% of people ignore the paid ads, so to be really effective, you will need to perfect your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) skills.
SEO requires you to develop great content that your buyers will find sufficiently interesting, different or insightful, that they will want to remark on it. (The authors of Inbound Marketing refer to that as remarkable content.) When your readers remark on your content on-line, using tools like Twitter, Facebook etc., they spread the word virally to other readers and broaden your reach. These comments lead to links back to your site, which lead to ever increasing page ranking in the search engines.
To be successful at this, you will need to keep the content fresh.
Traditional web sites don’t work in this regard, as they don’t change frequently enough.
What is needed is a blog that you update regularly.
Your blog cannot simply be a sales pitch for your product, but needs to be about topics that your buyers care to read about. The tone could be educational; or humorous; or controversial. But above all it needs to be highly engaging and relevant to them – i.e. remarkable.
When you post a new blog entry, you will see your site traffic surge for a few days, then die back to a level slightly higher than before. The more you post, the faster your traffic will build. But in the end, it is the really great articles that you post that will have the most impact.
And meritocratic blog system like Markethive (actually only Markethive) produce all of the above in a simple atmosphere of massive content curation that is immediately reward or rejected, building amazing content is King results, or something like that.
Once you have interesting content, you can use social media like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. to get the word out (Uh ummmm again, Marketing simplifies this to a level of excruciating results, but then like EST (You remember EST Erhard Seminar Training), you need to experience. No word, even from me, can truly do it justice.). Your goal is to get other bloggers to link to you, and to have people tweet about your content.
An interesting thing about a marketing department that focuses on Inbound Marketing: it will place a high value on people that know how to write and develop content that draws in an audience. A silver lining to the damage that the internet has inflicted on the publishing industry is that there are plenty of very talented journalists seeking employment, and they possess the perfect skills for this job!
SEO versus SEM
Like most of things that are good for us in life, SEO requires work and patience before it will payback. So it can be tempting to take shortcuts, and just use SEM (paid search ads). However if it is done right, the results will continue to build, and you will start to build your own audience, and own your own traffic.
We have also seen that the cost of paid search increases as the need to scale the lead volume grows.
The Power of Free
Another extremely powerful way to create inbound traffic and qualified leads is to use a free product or service. A great example of this is the The entire Inbound Marketing Platform (Valued in excess of up to $10,000 per month) service from Markethive. (If you haven’t tried this, I recommend giving it a try now. It will only take a few minutes to join.) Markethive has a couple of interesting attributes that are worth studying:
It is free of charge.
It takes very little work by the customer to get some very valuable results
It provides its results in the form of a score out of 100. Human beings are very competitive, and when they don’t get a good score, they want to find out how to improve their score. That leads them to wanting to find out more about Markethive which can help them improve their score.
It allows them to compare themselves to their competitors. All businesses care about how they are doing relative to their competition. If they are doing worse, this is a powerful motivator to drive them to change.
Think hard about your audience and whether there is an opportunity to build a similar free web service that would draw them in, and provide great value.
If you are interested in learning more about how Free products and services can help your marketing, please refer to this section: The Power of Free.
Building your reach
Once you have great content and possibly a free product/service, you will want to find ways to drive the maximum traffic to that content. In the last couple of years we have seen some powerful new tools emerge to help with this process in the social media space. Get yourself accounts on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and join in the conversation. (For Twitter, I also recommend downloading the Tweetdeck application.) Start by listening. Watch what people are talking about in your topic areas, and take note of their interests. Once you have an idea of how the conversation works join in. Be careful not to take a sales stance to promote your products, as that will rapidly lose you your audience. However you can draw your audience in with short url’s (Another one of Markethive’s great free services) that link to your blog posts and other non-sales oriented content.
This short paragraph is not going to be enough to fully educate you on the ins and outs of using social media to build your audience, so if the topic interests you, I recommend going here to learn more:
Internet Marketing Webinars (see the calendar in Markethive after you join for free of course).
In every product area, there are usually already influencers that write the most about that area, and have the largest audience that follows them. To conduct a successful social media campaign, you will want to identify those influencers, and reach out to them to get them to write about your product/service.
To get them to pay attention to you, you will first need to understand what they care about. Read their blog posts and tweets, and try to get inside their minds. Try to determine what appeals to them, and what has clearly turned them off. Then prepare your pitch, and use social media to engage with them.
You will then want to monitor the results by tracking their blog posts, links to the articles, tweets, etc.
For more information…
Inbound marketing is a rich topic area that would take more than a single article like this to describe. For more information, consider yourself a friend of Markethive: