Monthly Archives: September 2011
You may already use Facebook for personal reasons such as keeping up with your friends or sharing photos, but the idea of running a business page on the world’s largest social network might still seem intimidating. Where do you start? What should your goals be? How much work will it take?
Fret no more! This short video and blog post will offer step-by-step instructions on how to create a Facebook business page, covering some of the reasons why you should set one up and why its interactive elements make it such a great tool for business promotion.
1. Choose a Classification
Facebook provides six different classifications for creating a page:
- Local business or place
- Artist, band, or public figure
- Company, organization, or institution
- Brand or product
- Cause of community
It is likely you will fall into one the top three options. This classification will help you rank in more relevant searches and provide relevant information fields on your page.
After selecting one of the six, choose the category you are in, and fill out your business name (or if you selected one of the other options, your brand or company name). The business option also asks for further location information. Keep in mind that your category and name cannot be changed once your page is created. So type wisely; otherwise, you’ll have to delete the entire page and start anew.
2. Complete Basic Information
Upload a photo that will stand as the main visual representation for your business page. Ideally, this should be your company logo. Facebook will then ask you to invite your friends. Uncheck the option to “share this page on my wall” and “like this page.” You don’t want this popping up in news feeds until you’re done building the foundation of your online image. You will next be prompted to fill in your basic information. Add your website URL and a brief bio in the ‘About’ section. You can choose to focus on your product, business model, strategy, or the like.
3. Fill the Page
Click “Edit Info,” and add information you deem pertinent for your organization. If you’re a local business, you’ll likely want to add your hours of business. Businesses should also add a description. A description is different from your ‘about’ section in that you can share more in-depth information about your business. Be sure to add an email address, and spend time adding pictures to the photos tab.
4. Take Advantage of Features
Take advantage of the various features Facebook business pages have to offer. Clicking on the “Get Started” button under your default image displays multiple steps you can take to make the most of your page. Here are six worth trying:
- Invite your friends.
- Tell your fans.
- Post status updates.
- Promote this page on your website.
- Set up your mobile phone.
5. Play and Track
At this point, you have built and shared a Facebook page that, hopefully, accurately represents your business, brand, or company. Play around with the page and see if you can discover any original ideas on how to present your business, brand, or company.
To measure how all these efforts are going along the way, make sure you take advantage of Facebook Insights by clicking the “View Insights” tab on the right-hand side of your Facebook page. This will allow you to see how many people have become fans of your page, or in Facebook terms, “Liked” your page. You can change the time frame to compare how many Likes you received on one day versus another. Also check out the insights tool for additional tracking information.
For further information on executing each of these points, watch the video tutorial above.
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Running a startup is like being punched in the face repeatedly, but working for a large company is like being waterboarded.
- Paul Graham
This is a guest blog post by Mari Anne Vanella, one of the 20 Women to Watch in Lead Management in 2011. Mari was one of our guest presenters on the Marketing Metrics Workshop, “The Follow Up Formula: Secrets for Nurturing Prospects.”
Let’s start off with a simple vocabulary word.
nur·ture /ˈnɜrtʃər/ Show Spelled [nur-cher] Show IPA verb, -tured, -tur·ing, noun
verb (used with object)
1. to feed and protect: to nurture one’s offspring.
2. to support and encourage, as during the period of training or development; foster: to nurture promising musicians.
3. to bring up; train; educate.
Lead generation has more and more moved away from a transactional activity, or generating single events for reps, to initiating and maintaining a relationship that leads the buyer to the best choice (i.e., your platform).
The definition for nurturing, highlighted above, is exactly the effect you want your ongoing follow-up and communication to accomplish. Something that is often overlooked, however, is that the relationship with your prospects won’t become reciprocal until they see the value and visualize the benefit. Often buyers educate themselves, interact with users of your product, and compare solutions before they even take your calls. That being said, sending generic content and pestering phone calls to move them along will actually drive them away vs. drawing them closer.
So, what’s the secret to an effective follow up?
- Personal, Peer-Level Interaction
Persistence is important when dealing with today’s overloaded executives. Don’t give up after a single follow up. I’ve heard sales reps express discouragement over prospects not returning their calls or emails, but the underlying problem is that executives are just plain busy. It often takes 3-5+ attempts to reach a prospect who showed interest via a webinar, whitepaper, or other inbound activity. Waiting for them to call you back will only let their interest go cold and leave room for someone else to capture the attention you invested in developing. The other aspect to this is that companies are passive to reach out to vendors even when there is a requirement. Just because they aren’t calling you back doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge opportunity within a company. Don’t misinterpret their lack of response always as a lack of interest.
Create value with your outreach, but don’t over-inform. Sending content-heavy communication risks losing your prospects. The first time they read something they don’t understand, it will distance them and make them think you aren’t a good fit, and that’s a hard ditch to dig out of when you have no insight into what happened. Reps often wonder why prospects went quiet on them. This is one of the reasons: too much data right out of the gate without knowing what they needed to hear. You want your prospects to say “tell me more,” not “please stop talking.”
3. Personal, Peer-Level Interaction
Personal and peer level interaction is different than a sales-to-prospect dynamic. Peer level communication is open, free-flowing discussion that lets the prospect talk. It’s not telling them what they’re doing wrong by not working with you. Your nurturing program should be a deliberate effort to break down barriers with your prospects, inform them, and also build a personal relationship with them. The human aspect of this is important because it is the richest form of communication at your disposal. Interacting with your prospects at a higher level will reinforce and advance the opportunity. We talk to hundreds of executives each week, and people take calls and are more than willing to engage—as I have said many times, it isn’t that people don’t want to take a call; they just don’t want to take a bad call. So educate your team and outsource a little bit, but do something to connect live with prospects on their level.
Finally, timing is extremely critical in your follow up. Plan your outreach in the right window. I have seen organizations push follow ups on good leads months out, long after the prospect has forgotten the original exchange they had and are well along with evaluating (and now preferring) other vendors. If you uncovered an opportunity and you know their buying cycle, stay ahead of it. Don’t wait until the deal is on the table to get involved. Well planned outreach will keep you informed of what is going on. Long gone are the days of sales 1.0, when sales teams followed up on a lead, found out the deal wasn’t happening for 2 quarters out, and then called back in 2 quarters to find out they signed a 1M deal with a competitor 2 months back. The tools are now available to stage the timing, and if the prospect is active before then and you have visibility of that, don’t wait until their score reaches a certain threshold; call them. Don’t lose deals when you have visibility at your fingertips.
Buyers are open to early engagement, and this is often when the real window of influence is possible and decisions are made. So, with your prospects, take the approaches that align with your buyers’ actual decision patterns.
Nurturing programs can take on different forms, from simple campaigns to sophisticated ones within automation platforms. The key here is to do something that keeps you involved and progresses the opportunity. Don’t lose the prospect that you invested so much to identify in the first place. A sizable amount of marketing dollars go into activities to generate interested prospects. To let them fall off a cliff once you’ve discovered they aren’t buying in the next 90 days is walking away from a huge percentage of prospects that will in fact make a purchase in the next 12 months.
It’s important to realize you are already holistically building your pipeline, and small adjustments to how you are following up makes a big difference to extract more revenue out of your initial campaigns. Nurturing has become a cooperative effort of sales and marketing. The 4 points I talked about in this post overlap both. We’re all on the same team with the common goal of staying involved and progressing deals in the most effective manner. Identifying the areas that need change, who will drive it, and achieving consistency across both groups will only result in increased success.
What other prospect nurturing secrets are you keeping in your internet marketing back pocket?
Image credit: Looking&Learning
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Social media is no longer in its infancy and is no longer an optional task for businesses and brands. Indeed, building and engaging with audiences on established social networks is now a key part of business interaction. So, as social media grows into its awkward teenage years, the next step is for these companies to understand not only how to use it, but also how to derive value from it.
There is no set-in-stone standard for social media measurement, but various guidelines for unique business cases can show how social media benefits an organization by solving problems across departments, from recruiting to promotion.
So much of social media measurement is hinged on social-specific statistics that vary by individual network, i.e.: Likes, RTs, followers, etc. But viewed alone, these measurements don’t show the true value social media provides to the bottom line. Therefore, they need to be aligned with greater metrics. As businesses strive to track how tweets turn into transactions, it’s important to understand how to measure lead generation.
When it comes to measuring social media for ROI, the following example of a sales funnel shows that lead generation sits below brand awareness – defined as the potential for your brand to be seen by audiences – and before customer retention.
As evident by the funnel, the social media lead generation cycle starts with a conversation and moves down a path:
As a starting point, lead generation can be viewed as an indication of audience participation with your social messaging. By understanding this top level engagement, you’ll be able to improve the return on your investment by adjusting your messaging and campaigns based on audience activities.
Using social analytics is particularly important for gathering lead gen metrics. For example, using a shortened URL like Ow.ly in combination with Google Analytics and Facebook Insights will give you in-depth insight into audience interaction with your social marketing initiatives.
At the top level, measuring participation will show how successful your messaging is at driving your audience down the sales funnel toward being a lead ready to covert. This measurement counts any actions that your audience takes, including:
Retweets, @Replies – These gestures on Twitter show that your content resonated with the audience, and they were inspired to share, ask a question, or associate themselves with your brand.
Likes, Comments, Wall Posts – Likes on Facebook posts are good, and comments on your Facebook page are even better. These actions are then broadcast to their friends, which gives you a chance to reach out, reply, and build an audience.
Click-Throughs – Conversions don’t happen on Twitter or Facebook per se, but clicks from your social channels to your landing pages, ecommerce store, order page, etc. indicate that your content was interesting and relevant to your audience and resulted in them moving further down the sales funnel into the opportunity stage.
The next metric is measured as the opportunity for conversion and measured through questions like: How deep did your potential customer dig into your site after click-through? Where did they drop off? Did they opt-in to receive additional information by filling out a form and downloading materials? Or did they start filling in a form but left?
You’ll also want to look at the length of time spent at each stage of their path through your site, and identify drop-off points. Deciphering who spends the most amount of time, visits the most pages on your site, and fills out conversion forms will determine where your strongest opportunities lie.
Finally, the last stage of lead gen metrics is conversion, which defines how successful your actions are and allows you to tie social media details like tweets and Facebook posts into real dollars.
Depending on your business and campaigns, track questions like: Did they redeem a coupon from Foursquare? Did they sign up to your program when they clicked on a Twitter link? Did they buy the product you posted on your Facebook page? Did they add-on to their purchase? If yes, which demographic do they fit into?
Be sure to compare the average cost of purchases/units made by customers originating from social media channels with customers from other channels. You’ll likely plot out a clear graph of profitability by identifying patterns.
5. Set Goals, Test, and Measure
Remember, each business and brand has unique problems to solve. Rather than measuring your campaigns by traditional metrics, work back from your ultimate goal – whether it be to increase resume submissions or increase purchases – and ask the questions which help you to understand your audience’s origins and motivations. Since you should measure most every action from your social media-centric campaigns, this is a great chance to experiment with your messaging including tone, voice, offers, photos, and time of day. Try different tactics, measure everything, then adjust, and you’ll watch your charts go up and to the right.
How are you measuring the effectiveness of your social media lead generation efforts?
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After you’ve been working on your business blog for a while, there are a number of great things that you can do to give it a boost. When you were first getting started with blogging, your primary concern was probably just getting content shipped on a regular basis so you could generate your initial momentum and begin to build an audience and readership. But after a few months of regular publishing and generating growth, it can be beneficial to give your readers some variety by creating and publishing different types of content in various formats to help your blog grow and keep the content exciting. There are many possible ways to do this, and today we’ll cover three of them: integrating video content, incorporating interviews, and incorporating weekly posts covering lighter topics.
1. Integrate Video Content
You can switch up the feel of your blog and help people stay engaged for longer periods of time by using different forms of content like video. Your first video post could be something as simple as introducing yourself and the kind of topics you’ll be covering. This way, you can quickly gauge your audience’s reactions to video content and become familiar with the mechanisms for creating and posting video on the web. Don’t shoot for anything too fancy right out of the gate. Just record something simple.
Once you’ve recorded your first video, establish a basic YouTube channel that is tied to your business, upload your first video, and embed it into a blog post. Include a short summary of the video for those readers who may prefer text over video. Don’t worry if your video isn’t of the utmost quality. Start simple and lean, learn from the experience, and build up your video marketing efforts from there to achieve maximum effectiveness.
2. Conduct Interviews
Once you’ve gotten the hang of creating video content for your blog, consider conducting an interview with someone, either on video if you’re both comfortable with that or just in text format. Consider other thought leaders, industry experts, or even your customers as interesting interview candidates. One of the tricks for conducting a great interview with someone is to avoid scripting all of your questions beforehand and sending your interviewee a comprehensive list of questions in advance. While scripted interviews are faster to produce, they aren’t as interesting to read or watch, and they limit the discussions you can have. Instead, schedule a time to talk to the person you’re interviewing, and run it as a conversation.
To conduct a great interview, bring 3-4 interesting questions, and then ask 2-3 follow-ups to each one instead of just running through the drill. Done this way, you will end up with a real conversation about each topic, which is always much more interesting and insightful than shallow question and answer session. With video interview (perhaps over your webcam using Skype?), you can also incorporate visual aids and allow the viewer to get a better look into the personality of your interviewee.
3. Lighten Up
Now that you’re mixing in new types of content and material, try switching up your regular blog content with a weekly lighter post about something in your industry. Find a funny news story or another topic each week, and use that for the basis of your blog post. While they may be less focused on thought leadership, these posts can be interesting reading and may be shared more often than more serious posts, leading to new readers and visitors to your blog from social media. StudentAdvisor’s blog does an excellent job of running fun posts about college life, unusual activities at college, and more on Fridays, and uses that to help attract new viewers from Facebook. Another great example of this can be found on the security blog, Schneier on Security, which dedicates its Friday post to news, pictures, and facts about squid.
What other tactics do you use to keep your blog content interesting and varied?
Image Credit: insertnamehere.99999
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Raise your hand if you love data.
Now raise your hand if data presented like this makes you want to stick a fork in your eye:
It’s colorful. It’s brimming with data. But HOLY HORSESHOE is it confusing!
Having data is awesome. Using it to persuade others is powerful. Presenting it in a way that inspires eye-forking is criminal.
Here are three simple design tips to help you make sexier, simpler charts that are sure to elicit applause and approval, not violence.
TIP #1: Make friends with white space.
Tempting as it is to fill your chart with every possible data point, detail, and label, there’s an extremely good reason to fight this urge: The human brain uses contrast to distinguish objects from one another. White space is one of the easiest, most elegant design tools that creates this contrast and increases the likelihood that your audience will grasp the point you’re trying to make.
Compare this version of a basic bar chart with the one below it.
By removing the grid lines and tick marks along both axes, as well as the value labels along the vertical axis, and deleting superfluous content from the bottom left corner, we’ve made it much easier to glance at this chart and see that more blogging results in a lot more leads.
Which is a perfect segue into the next tip…
TIP #2: Don’t just share data. MAKE MEANING!
It’s common practice for charts to be labeled with a sentence that simply describes what data is being presented. In the example above, the title clearly states that what we’re looking at: The Impact of Blog Size on Monthly Leads.
Wrong. To maximize the impact of your charts and graphs, don’t just state the obvious, explain why it matters. What’s the core point you’re trying to make? Is it that 52 or more blog articles per month yields an average of 23 leads?
So? What action do you want your audience to take as a result of seeing this data?
So tell them that! Better yet, use a touch of color to draw their eye to the specific data element(s) that drive your point home.
Now isn’t that better?
Last but certainly not least, design tip #3…
TIP #3: Serve bite-size pieces.
Nobody likes biting off more than they can chew. Well, except for maybe this guy.
Most of us, however, prefer tasty bite size morsels that we can savor and enjoy without unhinging our jaws.
So instead of something like this:
…consider chunking up the data into smaller pieces that are more easily digestible (and more effective at conveying your core message)…
MORE WHITE SPACE!
SMALL TASTY BITES!
And voila! No more sucky charts.
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No more romanticizing about how cool it is to be an entrepreneur. It’s a struggle to save your company’s lilfe – and your own skin – every day of the week.
- Spencer Fry
Reaching subscribers at the right time can be the difference between getting your emails clicked and having them ignored. And the only certainty in determining the optimal time to send is by testing.
According to research from MarketingSherpa, if just 47% of marketers test when to send an email to their in-house lists, that means 53% of marketers are not considering that their emails might be opened, clicked through, and convert better with a change in the time actually sent.
During his “Science of Timing” webinar, HubSpot Social Media Scientist Dan Zarrella said that the commonly accepted best practice time of 11 AM Eastern is probably not ideal if you’re trying to generate leads, simply because every other marketer is also sending their emails at that time, cluttering the inboxes of the targeted recipients.
Email Campaign Elements Routinely Tested to Optimize Performance
As we mentioned, the only way to know when is the best time of day to send your emails is to do some testing of your own. Every target audience is unique, so marketers must optimize their email strategy depending on the behaviors of their specific audience. In your testing, consider trying out times you wouldn’t think are optimal for email. Your results might surprise you.
Do you experiment with sending emails based on time zones, non-business hours, holidays, or weekends?
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Ever wonder how a landing page you created months ago is performing today? Marketers have a tendency to focus on whatever new initiatives they are launching in the moment, forgetting about older initiatives that may still be generating results. While new campaigns are important, don’t let last month’s hard work fall by the wayside. Start tracking the long tail value of your landing pages!
5 Ways to Use Landing Page Analytics to Generate More Leads
1. Make sure your best content keeps giving back. Evergreen content and landing page offers are great, and people crave them year round. How is a specific landing page performing ten months later? It may not be receiving the same traffic, but the conversion rate could stay nearly the same. Track landing page performance over time to identify top-performing offers that you can use in evergreen promotion. (HubSpot customers can do this through the new Landing Page Analytics graph within HubSpot’s Landing Page Tools; screenshot above. That’s powerful stuff!)
2. Investigate why some landing pages perform better than others. With historic data on your landing pages’ performance, you can get a holistic understanding of which types of offers perform better than others. Compare your landing pages’ performance against each other, and then come up with some hypotheses. Do ebooks perform better? Whitepapers? Free consultations? Consider doubling down on the types of offers that outperform others when crafting future campaigns.
3. Find your crème de la crème by comparing all landing pages against your average landing page conversion. This is a great way to understand which landing pages outshine the rest. Learn from your successes, and do it again!
4. Re-launch your best content. If there is a specific landing page that continues to generate a high conversion rate without any promotion, why not re-promote and get it more traffic? Get some additional value out of that bad boy! You already did the hard work of creating the offer, and there’s a good chance many of your prospects never saw it in the first place.
5. Track historically how your landing pages perform overall. Don’t only track individual landing page performance. Measure how they’re performing as a collection. If your graph goes up and to the right, give yourself a pat on the back! The compounding effect of highly converting landing pages over time (while continuing to add even more landing pages to your website) is key to successfully scaling your lead generation.
How else can you track your landing pages? In your experience, what qualities lead to a highly converting landing page?
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The following is a guest post by Rene Reinsberg (@followrene). Rene is a recent MIT Sloan graduate and the CEO and co-founder of Locu, a company that helps close the gap between offline and online by building a real-time, structured repository for small business offerings data such as restaurant menus. Disclosure: I’m an angel investor in Locu. -Dharmesh
Raising Money Isn’t About Raising Money
Our company has raised more than $600k in seed money over the summer. In a matter of a few months we transformed from a group of students working on what one notable Silicon Valley investor called a “class project” in early April 2011 to an eight-person company, with a unique technology, a clear value proposition and strong customer interest for our product. I’d like to share some highlights and lessons learned from our journey.
Back in April, we had been bootstrapping for about half a year, building our first prototype and some interesting back-end technology and learning a lot about our market. We also realized we had been working well together as a team and were all ready to commit full-time.
Testing the waters
One of our early inflection points was a team trip to the Bay area for a week in late May. We had been selected to present at a startup showcase and had also set up a few meetings with investors while out there. The four of us shared a double room at the cheapest hotel we could find, the Ramada Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale. It worked out perfectly: free WiFi, a good enough breakfast buffet and an In-N-Out down the street.
We went to almost all pitches that week as the whole team. While this is not sustainable for the whole fundraising process, I highly recommend it early on. It helped us grow stronger as a team and develop a common lens for feedback. Also, rather than insisting that our approach was the right one, we explored all possible directions to make sure we were not missing the bigger picture. After our daily debrief by the hotel pool, we would prepare for the next day. One night, Marek, one of my co-founders, built a prototype to test an idea that had come up during the day and that has now become an integral part of our product.
That brings me to learning. Looking back, these early meetings were invaluable. One thing that became clear really fast was that investors were much more interested in learning about the menu acquisition and data curation technologies we had been building than about our recommendation application. We had stumbled upon a potential solution to a big problem the local search industry had been battling with for years. Going forward, we built our pitch more around the technology and how it could enable a data platform for local business data and had much more success.
A lot of people have asked me how many investors I spoke to and met with in order to close the round. You might have seen the Anatomy of a Seed deck by Brendan Baker who analyzes AppMakrs $1m seed round, involving 173 people and taking 130 rejections to get to 14 commitments. Our round was a bit smaller and we were fortunate to hit a few super nodes early on, but I still ended up talking to around 100 people in the process.
While I prefer meetings that lead to investments, there is thing to be said about the ones that don’t. Raising money is about building a network. A lot of people might be interested or intrigued by your idea but not end up investing for one reason or another. However, they might end up introducing you to potential business partners, clients or other investors. I talked to one potential investor and even though he did not end up investing, a month later, he emailed me and introduced me to a potential client.
At an early stage, it is important to surround your startup with people that can support you and extend you network in the areas you most need it. For us, we were targeting investors with backgrounds in data platforms, local, small business marketing, and the restaurant industry. AngelList turned out to be invaluable in the process of filtering. As Scott Kirsner from the Boston Globe recently put it, they are a true matchmaker between investors and startups.
A few words on due diligence: You probably expect your investors to do due diligence before investing. You should do the same. In a world of LinkedIn and AngelList, it is relatively easy to find people in your (extended) network that have worked with or can vouch for an investor. Even if it means delaying the closing of your round, don’t take money from investors you don’t think have the best interest of your business in mind or from whom you get a bad vibe.
Looking back, raising money was much more than just getting money in the bank. The process helped us to grow as a team, significantly refine our product and business model and most important of all, bring on investors on board that understand our technology, support our (ambitious) vision and will help us build a better company.
Looking for other startup fanatics? Request access to the OnStartups LinkedIn Group. 130,000+ members and growing daily.
Oh, and by the way, you should follow me on twitter: @dharmesh.