. How effective are ? Are they actually generating customers and leads for your business? 1. Use Facebook and other social media sites to Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack “sweet” Fan Page In fact, Facebook Fan Pages Made 36% more visits to DG’s stores each month helped the bakery chain reach a wider range of people and connect with them on a more personal level. More people felt inclined to visit and spend more money, and a large portion of customers felt increased loyalty to the brand. Topics: Spent 45% more of their eating-out dollars at DG 4. Listen to customers’ feedback. Customers are more likely to share reviews about products/services as well as good or bad experiences online, so utilize the information presented for your company’s benefit. and updated it regularly with pictures, contests, reviews and other items designed to interact with their customers. Three months later, they surveyed over 13,000 customers on shopping behavior and store evaluations and received a significantly higher and more positive response from those customers who became Facebook fans. the study Spent 33% more at DG’s stores , reaching a larger audience and attracting potential customers, prospects, vendors and 5. Keep expenses low by building a Facebook Fan Page for free. Take advantage of low-cost, online resources instead of spending money on direct mail and paper advertisements. Here are 5 key takeaways from Dessert Gallery’s example: found that compared with typical Dessert Gallery (DG) customers, the company’s Facebook fans: 2. Engage with your community for free and easily post up-to-date information about promotions, new products, upcoming events, etc. establish an online presence Facebook Engagement , a popular Houston-based bakery and café chain, experimented with a Facebook Fan Page to measure how helpful the popular social media site really is. They set up a Creating a Facebook Business Page Had 14% higher emotional attachment to the DG brand 3. Strengthen customer relations by interacting with customers directly on a social level as opposed to a business level. Originally published Mar 8, 2010 11:30:00 AM, updated October 20 2016 Dessert Gallery Had 41% greater psychological loyalty toward DG even media
Public Relations Originally published Apr 5, 2010 1:00:00 PM, updated October 20 2016 Topics: Learn how companies are using inbound marketing techniques to generate higher volume and lower cost leads and customers. Date and time: Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 1:00pm EDT Reserve Your Spot Now Live Webinar: The State of Inbound Marketing Lead Generation Inbound Marketing The tools of inbound marketing are most often talked about for attracting new prospects and converting them into customers. However, these methods can be used for the equally important activities of customer satisfaction and retention. Brent Leary , an authority in the emerging Social CRM industry recently compiled insight and expertise from 15 customer experience leaders across all industries in a new ebook The Social Contract .Lessons for Leveraging Inbound Marketing for Customer Retention Customer Care is the New PR & Marketing – In fact Chris Brogan and Julien Smith of Trust Agents fame stated that customer care is the new PR, while Sanjay Dholakia of Lithium said that it is the new marketing. I think they are both on to something. Whether you want to call it word-of-mouth marketing or an extension of social media marketing, it is crystal clear that customers WILL share their opinions about you. The opinions, good or bad, that customers share about your product or brand do more to shape the market’s perception of your company than almost any marketing you could do. And the web provides them endless forums to share: blogs, Twitter, Facebook and countless interest based sites and forums. Customer Service & Marketing Should Work Together More – “Never before have customer service professionals been in a position to be directly seen and heard by their customers and the C-level executives. These comments are a permanent record of what customers think about your company. Can’t take them down, delete them or destroy them. And you can’t pretend any longer that they don’t exist. They do,” expanded Dr. Natalie Petouhoff of Forrester Research . Never before has there been more transparency about product and service quality – making it more likely that only ‘good’ offerings will thrive. Perhaps this also means that the relationship between marketing and customer care should be one that is cultivated with greater care. These two teams are far too often silo’d but can greatly benefit from intense collaboration. Solve Product & Service Fundamentals Before you Launch Social Media Initiatives – “The thing that organizations need to realize is that, although engaging with customers via social media channels can provide very real benefits, it is not going to remove – or for that matter even mask – problems with an organization’s level of customer commitment, the quality of actual products/services, or the efficacy of a company’s post-sales customer-service and support processes.” John Burton SAP ‘s Director of Product Management in the CRM organization highlights the downfalls of jumping in with two feet before looking to see if the pool is full. His lesson is on point, whether you are in marketing or customer service – without a clear value proposition, tweeting for marketing will only make folks more confused, just as opening up a Facebook page for customers who are dissatisfied is a misappropriation of resources. First work with customers to fix the basics and then use social media to engage in ongoing dialog that can keep making it better and develop loyalty. Empower Customers to Become Part of the Service or Marketing Equation – Ellen Filipiak, SVP of Customer Care at DIRECTV, shares how forums and customer engagement have not only made dents in the direct cost of customer care, but how they engage with users to uncover new needs and get folks willing to test new features on their behalf. In fact, on DIRECTTV’s self-service help forums a group of only 8 volunteer customers provides 28% of the FAQ responses. It is these same users who get early access and are spreading the gospel about DIRECTTV. The ability to interact and the empowerment with information and tools is an excellent customer care and marketing vehicle. No Matter the Purpose, Authenticity and Personal Relationships Trump Technology – Another cable customer service expert, Frank Eliason of Comcast reiterated that it is about the relationship. “…the basics of Customer Service are invaluable in this space. One that I learned early on is personalization. We would never answer a call with ‘XYZ company, what do you want?’ We identify ourselves. That is why my team members each have their own Twitter ID and can personalize it as they see fit.” Luckily for marketers, there are a number of ways to interact in social media forums on behalf of your company while also identifying yourself as an individual. This best practice will be around as long as humans have personalities and feelings – which I for one, hope is a very long time.Inbound Marketing TakeawaysInbound marketing spans the entire organization. Share tools and best practices across departmental boundaries.Ask yourself what you as a marketer can learn from your customer organization about developing authentic and meaningful relationships that span physical and digital realms.Practice authenticity in your marketing as if you were a customer care professional with a long term relationship with that prospect – even if you are tasked primarily with ‘bringing the leads’ you should set up a long term relationship for your whole company to win and retain the best customers.Image Courtesy of lomokev Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Topics: Learn how to break your Google AdWords addiction! Download the free video to learn how to use inbound marketing to generate leads and break your dependence on programs with recurring expenses. Originally published Jul 27, 2010 8:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Google Ads Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Paid search is a complement to organic search, not a replacement.At HubSpot , we always stress the importance of creating valuable content to strengthen presence on search engines and generate high-quality website traffic. The importance of organic search, however, does not imply that paid search is entirely valueless. Paid search may target audiences different from those drawn from organic search and thus maximize your reach to potential customers. In addition, paid search can serve as testing stone for keywords to optimize for organic search. If your website is new to search engine optimization and you don’t know which keywords will draw higher conversion rates, you can quickly test the popularity of different keyword phrases using Google AdWords campaign and later specialize in more popular ones for organic search.Paid search can be expensive, but with careful design, you can maximize the effectiveness of your Google AdWords campaign. Integrating expert insights from the Service Marketplace providers , here are 3 strategies to increase conversion rates from your paid search advertisements: 1. Consistent keyword focus both lowers cost and increases quality site traffic. When the keywords you stress in a Google AdWords closely match the content on the subsequent landing page , Google will view your site as providing quality search result and assign your website a higher Quality Score. As a website that makes money from optimizing high-quality, relevant content, Google is incentivized to award quality search results, which it does by charging you less money. Another major advantage of focusing on the same sets of keywords on Ad copy and a landing page is that it tends to generate quality website traffic—for the same reason. Prospects interested in the keywords you bid for will likely stay engaged if they find similar content on the landing page and have a higher likelihood to convert to leads. 2. Change default settings because what Google perceives as a successful ad does not necessarily match your business objectives. For your convenience, Google sets default for many fields. Default settings, however, don’t necessarily work best for your business objectives. For example, geographical area is set to United States and Canada, automatic bidding is on, ad rotation (which allows you to alter the frequency of showing different ad campaigns) is set to “show better performing ad more often.” If you target only customers from specific geographic areas, covering the entire United States is a waste of money. Even if you intend to attract customers from all over the world, it is still a good idea to test in which states your ad generates the higher lead conversion rate and thus performs most cost-effectively.The latter two—automatic bidding and ad rotation—are how Google makes extra money to your detriment. Automatic bidding saves you some work, but the price of convenience is your loss of knowledge of how your bidding price changes. The algorithm Google uses is behind the screen, and you can be spending more money than you need to achieve the same results. Another thing to keep in mind is that Google’s definition of a successful ad can be different from yours. Better performance means more clicks to Google, while your standard might be higher conversion rate. If you set ad automation to “show better performing ad more often,” it’s possible that you eliminate a campaign that generates 5 clicks with a 100% conversion rate in exchange for one that generates 100 clicks that generate only 2 leads. Know your objectives and stay in control. The screenshot below shows what NOT to do. 3. Test your ad from multiple dimensions to find the combination that maximizes its effectiveness. As mentioned, paid search can become a heavy ongoing expense. Maximizing the return of each dollar you spend is therefore a smart way to reduce marketing cost. One of the strengths of Google Ads Dashboard is that you can create multiple ad campaigns in a matter of seconds. Using different campaigns, you can test the exact same keyword phrases targeted at different locations to determine which areas are your products or services “hotter”; alternatively, you can try different keyword phrases in the same regions.Time of the day and day of the week may also matter to your ad’s success. Some people set a time range on when the ad can be displayed, but that invariably leaves the rest of the day or the week out of your experiment, and you will never get to know if your ad might achieve better results with these untested time ranges. As a result, we encourage you to let your ad run uninterrupted during the experimental stage and then target criteria that yield high lead conversion rate or other business goals.What other suggestions do you have for kick-starting your Google Adwords campaign ? Photo: The Budget Fashionista Video: How to Get Off the Google AdWords PPC Crack
The list of data you could gather is endless, but there are a few key online metrics that can give you a clear idea of where your website stands relative to the competition and what you can do to be on top. . HubSpot’s Blog Grader that measures a site’s overall SEO readiness, including a scan for keywords, conversion forms and more. On a scale of 1 to 100, 100 being best, your website grade gives you a snapshot of your overall effectiveness in getting traffic to your site based on inbound marketing best practices. 3) Traffic Rank Originally published Nov 22, 2010 11:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 This simple metric indicates how many pages the search engines think you have. (Sometimes, based on your site structure, you might have more pages than they index.) More indexed pages generally means more content and more chances to build links and rank online. If your competition is blowing you out of the way on the other metrics, you can be almost certain they have a lot more pages. One of the ways you can easily create more pages is through blogging — every blog article is a new page and a new opportunity to rank for a valuable keyword by providing remarkable content to your audiences. ranking from Alexa . 7) Keywords in Top 100 HubSpot’s free 30 Day Trial to get your own Competitors Report. HubSpot’s Website Grader The lower this number the better. A Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack , this is an indication of how much traffic your site gets compared to all other sites on the Web. If you ranked #1, you’d be the most popular site in the world. Your goal is to have a rank lower than your competition. One way to get similar data online is to check out your Compete rankings Companies just like yours are trying to rank on the first page of search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Some businesses rely on consultants, SEO firms or Pay-Per-Click ads to try and get placement in front of the right audiences. If you practice inbound marketing, you know that creating, optimizing and promoting high quality content can help you improve your search rankings. But how do you know what a good benchmark is — or how much work you need to do to move ahead of the pack? On a scale from 1 to 100, your blog grade is based on the level of traffic your blog receives and the quality and quantity of links pointing to it. Compiled by Competition on the web is fierce. score from 1 to 10, 10 being best, is provided by SEOMoz , this report will provide you with actionable recommendations to improve your blog’s effectiveness. This is an overall grade provided by 6) Indexed Pages This is an approximate count of the number of keywords on your or your competitors’ sites that rank in the top 100 search results. That means you are showing up within the first 10 pages. The higher the count, the better, because it means you get more chances to attract qualified visitors to your site. 1) Website Grade Conducting Marketing Research 2) Moz Rank 4) Blog Grade Topics: Is there a competitor that’s beating you in online rankings? Do a little research to find out why and then develop an inbound marketing strategy to improve your position and start winning more visitors, leads and sales online. You can do the work of getting a lot of these stats from the different tools mentioned above — or, consider getting a quick benchmark by using The chart above, featuring a few of HubSpot’s own websites, combines the key metrics you should consider as you develop benchmarks for your inbound marketing strategy: 5) Inbound Links Yahoo’s Site Explorer This This often overlooked metric is one of the strongest indicators of your potential online rank. An inbound link is like an online vote for your content and site: the more votes you accumulate, the more attention search engines give you. To beat your competition online, you need to build more inbound links with higher quality. You retrieve such data from public sources, like and measures link authority and popularity. High quantity and quality inbound links are key to improving your rankings in most search engines.
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Topics: Is Facebook applicable for B2B companies? Absolutely! With more than 750 million users, Facebook is useful for far more than just teenagers playing online games. The social network has become a representative sample of the world’s population. As a company selling to other companies, Facebook serves as an important tool for generating leads and nurturing customer relationships.Let’s take a look at 6 B2B companies and how they are using Facebook:6 Ways B2B Companies Are Using Facebook1. Rewarding Brand Advocates: In the world of outbound marketing, it wasn’t easy for word-of-mouth buzz to spread quickly about your business. That has all changed. Smart B2B companies now realize that “fans” can be an important part of a successful inbound marketing strategy. Cisco has taken a unique approach to rewarding some of its biggest fans. It has created a SuperFan Spotlight on its Facebook page, which rewards members of the online Cisco community who share news and information about the company. 2. Doing Product Marketing and Promoting Testimonials: Does it get more B2B than vibration testing equipment? Fluke Corporation has gained more than 21,000 Facebook fans using some successful contests. Fluke is also a great example of a B2B company putting its product upfront in the right way in its social media marketing efforts. When you first visit the Fluke Facebook page, you are welcomed by an image about one of its featured products. In addition, the wall of the page is filled with customer testimonials.3. Promoting News: Nothing says B2B like commercial trucking. Scania Group, a manufacturer of trucking equipment, uses Facebook to expand the reach of its news and announcements. The company hosts a newsroom on its website that acts as a hybrid between a blog and a press room. Scania uses Facebook to distribute news and industry information directly to prospects and customers, expanding its reach beyond traditional media.4. Sharing Videos: Facebook isn’t only about text. Dell Enterprise, for example, has an entire tab on its Facebook page dedicated to sharing content from its YouTube account. Videos enable B2B companies to talk about best practices and product features in a different — and often more compelling — forum.5. Showcasing Experts: In B2B marketing, building credibility and thought leadership through online content creation is a key part of successful inbound marketing. GE has come up with an innovative use of Facebook to help solve this problem. Using a custom Facebook tab, GE has created a digital experts panel that displays experts as well as their newest tweet, blog post, or Facebook update. 6. Generating Leads – The most important use of Facebook for a B2B company is generating leads and revenue for their business. One way to generate leads from Facebook is with a Like and lead gate. ClearRisk, an online provider of risk management solutions, uses the HubSpot Facebook Welcome application to encourage new visitors to their Facebook page to become a lead for their business.Like GateLead Form Within FacebookMarketing TakeawayIt is clear that Facebook is a powerful tool for B2B marketers. When it comes to Facebook, set two clear priorities. The first should be setting up methods for generating leads directly from Facebook. The second should be integrating your overall inbound marketing strategy with your Facebook content and community. Look at how other B2B companies are using Facebook, but don’t limit your strategies to only those that you currently observe in the market. Originally published Sep 20, 2011 12:40:00 PM, updated February 01 2017 Facebook Marketing
Topics: Lead Nurturing This is a guest post written by Pam Sahota . Pam is a marketing communications/social media manager and freelance blogger who loves Boston, photography, charity events, sushi, wine, and the Red Sox. Lead management bridges the gap between marketing and sales. It’s a customer acquisition process which identifies potential buyers (leads), educates them, engages with them, and when the leads are considered qualified, get passed from marketing to sales.Is your business following an organized and effective lead management process? Doing so can improve the results of your lead generation efforts and ultimately contribute to more sales.Download our free marketing tool that helps you generate more leads and learn about website visitors.If your business is lacking a solid system for managing leads, the following five steps will help you create and implement a successful and efficient lead management process from start to finish. Step 1: Identify and Understand Your Leads This initial step is crucial to the success of each of the others. You need to determine first and foremost who your potential buyers are to develop a process that will enable you to identify in which part of the sales process these prospects stand.First, your marketing team should identify buyer types and what their personas are . This will help you identify your ideal lead picture for your product or service. This persona can be carved out by identifying the following: Demographics: Where do your ideal customers live? What’s the size of the company they work for? What industry market are they in? What are their problems, wants, and needs? Behavior: Are they reading blogs, whitepapers, or just searching via Google to find the information they’re looking for? Lead Source: How do your best leads typically find you? Do they come from direct traffic to your website, did they read an article mentioning you, did they see one of your tweets?You should also dig deeper by trying to understand the mindset of your ideal customer. Is he/she the business owner, the VP, the tech guy? Determine where he or she lives, what he or she reads, and how he or she visited your site. Step 2: Generate & Collect Intelligence About Your Leads The sales cycle has been extended because the lead process begins in marketing where the marketing team figures out where the first point of contact was with the potential lead. The key to generating leads and knowing their source is to create and track content.Place your premium content offers like whitepapers and webinars behind a lead-capture form to generate leads and gather critical lead intelligence information about them that can be used during the lead management process.Add a tracking token to links you share in social media and through email marketing to help you identify leads’ behavior and interaction with your content.Use your marketing analytics to determine how people are coming to your website or blog and where they are clicking. This will inform you which types of content leads are looking at and help you understand what their interests, needs, and wants are.Capturing this information about your leads is critical for step four, lead nurturing. Step 3: Score Your Leads Lead scoring is a key part of the lead management process in order to determine the lead’s potential interest in your product or service. Potential factors for determining a lead’s score include demographic information and behavioral activity. This information is important and useful to the efficiency of passing off qualified leads because:The higher the score, the larger the chance the lead is likely to convert.Time sensitivity is key, because scores are normally determined by when items are acted upon by the lead. In short, the score may be reduced by inactivity (such as not clicking on email links or blog posts).Unqualified or cold leads can go through lead nurturing.The sales team can prioritize calls (for example, by the level of activity from the lead).Your business’ leads scoring schema should depend on a variety of factors that need to be determined depending on your business’ individual criteria. Spend some time to figure out which factors are important to your business and come up with a lead scoring process that’s right for you. Step 4: Nurture Your Leads Next, use the information you captured in the first three steps to identify different segments of leads based on their interests and likely position in the sales cycle. Did they convert on a middle-of-the-funnel offer such as a free trial or have they converted on more top-of-the-funnel offers such as educational ebooks, indicating they are closer to the top of the funnel?For the leads that are not quite ready to pass off to sales, enter them into an appropriate lead nurturing campaign . Many of these leads will still be in the research or awareness phase, figuring out if your product will solve their pain points. This is where you need to educate these leads and demonstrate through more valuable content, promotional offers, etc. that your products/services are right for them, propelling them through the sales cycle.Here are some tips for creating an effective lead nurturing campaign: Utilize a content map to determine what type of content you should provide to each type of lead.Be personal in your email and social media communications in order to continue building the lead relationship.Include relevant calls-to-action on all sources of content.Continue the relationship from first contact until the lead is ready to pass off to sales, offering targeted content to push them along. Step 5: Pass Off Your Leads to Sales Be sure your lead is ready to pass off to sales and not pre-mature. Sales team members are normally lead-hungry and will not be happy campers if they receive leads that aren’t quite sales-ready. Lead scoring can help in order to ensure this and make sure each lead is qualified. When you do pass off the lead, do so strategically…Score carefully and correctly based on the activity a lead acts upon in order to ensure the lead is not in need of further nurturing.Ensure the marketing team provides proper and extensive information on the lead’s activity and background that they gathered during the lead generation and nurturing processes. Ensure the sales team also researches the lead in order to gather as much lead intelligence information from both marketing and the internet in order to know as much about the lead as possible before contacting. This can include: business structure, current products/services, revenue model, and key decision makers. Require that each lead has an immediate initial contact in order to avoid lapsing back into nurturing.Consider providing incentives for the sales team to encourage them to pursue more heavily and follow-up more strategically.There should always be at least a minimal level of follow-up in order to keep on the radar of the prospect before potential conversion. Step 6: Track and Measure Your Leads As all marketers know, we need to track, measure, and track and measure some more. So while your leads may have been handed off, be sure to evaluate all leads with the sales team and continue to refine, score, and evaluate as needed. The key is to make sure the lead keeps moving through the sales cycle without being lost or sent back to marketing for more nurturing.Track and measure throughout the entire sales cycle.Measure sales performance.Measure marketing and sales ROI.Last but not least, continue evaluating throughout the process to identify what works (and what doesn’t work) for your business and your lead management process. It will take some time for your business to work out the kinks, but ultimately, you’ll end up with a seamless lead management process that generates better business results.Image Credit: Mick Lobb Originally published Nov 15, 2011 2:00:00 PM, updated September 06 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Are you all pumped up for the 4th of July holiday? The sun’s shining (here, at least), your work week is punctuated by a much needed respite, and … oh yeah, the kids are loose. We’ve talked about how 1) Create an offer. We throw live events like 18) Monitor social activity. marketing tactics 7) Give them a game. You’ve probably leaned on PPC for a quick lead-gen boost, or invested in top-notch marketing talent to solve a huge marketing problem. Why not hire a babysitter or an experienced nanny to give you a break? . Originally published Jul 3, 2012 4:30:00 PM, updated March 21 2013 15) Engage in the conversation. Don’t they ever just calm down Inbound Marketing visual social networks 2) Newsjack. that work on leads (and us). And one of the timeless classics is using cute animals to make your audience oooh and aaah. If you’re stuck with a kid that’s bugging you (or heck, an adult), just throw the puppy their way. It’ll probably work. 4) Engage with promoters of your brand. We’ve written all about investing in visual content HubSpot TV 20) Just give them what they want. Obviously, this post is a bit of fun before the mid-week holiday, so share your silly suggestions (don’t forget the marketing tie-in!) in the comments below. Or better yet, let us know if any of these actually worked! . Use all that historical intel you have on your kids to give them the content that you know calms them down, entertains them, and distracts them so you can enjoy your day off. You know your kids better than anyone (probably better than they know themselves) 😉 You’ve got this, guys. You’re a marketer. Believe it or not, that experience is transferable to parenting, too. Here’s how you can use the When you create 9) Throw money at the problem. 11) Invest in multimedia content. You know, use short chunks of text, bold headings, bulleted lists, remove navigation on your landing pages — all the things that distract visitors instead of draw them in. Well, make your 4th of July kid-friendly, too, and give them content that’s appropriate for their age and aligns with their interests so they don’t get bored and click — ahem, wander — away looking for trouble. Kids love pretty pictures. So do adults. That’s why we keep talking about 13) Leverage scarcity. shameless marketing tactics 19) Reward good behavior. 8) Share other people’s content. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack You spend your whole day trying to figure out what your customers want based on lead intelligence and There’s nothing like scarcity to drive a hard bargain. Need your kids to do something? Find something they want, and tell them it’s almost gone. They’ll hop to it in a jiffy. Now that’s how you ? Take something that’s going on — seemingly unrelated to children’s activities — and find a spin on it that would interest them! Talking about your 401(k) at your friend’s barbecue? Tell your kids to go around the lawn and look for loose change. Hey, that’s good financial planning. ” have received well over 10,000 views, in fact. Don’t berate, of course, but don’t be afraid of a little discipline, either! and 3) Distract them with a puppy. Note: sharing his toys like you told him to — you’ll be able to respond quickly before anything gets out of hand and really ruins the day. But just because your content — or activities — are all set up, doesn’t mean you should turn a blind eye! Keep an eye on what’s going on to ensure there are no disasters. And when there are disasters — Timmy is berating your audience actually helps drive traffic 10) Use visual content. , you don’t just give them away for free. No, you need something in exchange — lead intelligence! Or what your prospects know as filling out a form. Use that tactic with your kids, too; you give them something they want, and in exchange, they’ll give you some peace and quiet. By now you might be starting to rediscover the stress of having those little rugrats around when all you want is some peace and quiet. When does school start up again? Should you have shelled out for summer camp? Can’t you just enjoy one day off of work already? 14) Establish authority as a thought leader. — our blog posts with headlines like, ” Plop them in front of the TV. Or YouTube. Who doesn’t love a good YouTube video or hilarious podcast? We don’t record Gamification’s all the rage with marketers and consumers alike, because it gives people a purpose that’s directly related to the action marketers are trying to drive. For example, when we want to trend on Twitter for a live webinar, we create a hashtag, and incentivize attendee use of that hashtag by giving away a prize, like tickets to Run out of ideas to keep the kids entertained? If you’re boring them, do what you do with your social media following — share someone else’s content! A little variety is good for everyone. You give referral bonuses and implement loyalty programs with your customers. Incentivize good behavior with your kids, too! The other children will take notice and start to mimic that positive behavior, and make your day much easier. you use every day to get yourself some much needed relaxation this 4th of July. 12) Yell at them. 6) Make your content reader-friendly. Your kids might not think of you as a “thought leader” per se, but they certainly know who’s boss. Just like your stellar content creation establishes you as an industry thought leader — why else would leads download your offers? — your reputation most likely precedes you with your children. So remind them who’s boss when you need them to behave more responsibly! Part of effective word-of-mouth marketing is identifying and engaging with your promoters. Who are the good influences on your kids? Find them, and segment out the bad influencers so your children model good behavior on July 4th, rather than get into trouble. lead gen offers INBOUND 2012 This post’s photo and many of the tips are courtesy of HubSpot Inbound Marketing Specialist and father of 4, “though it feels like 8,” Dan Sally. 5) Throw an awesome event. Just like you schedule your social media content in advance, your day will go much more smoothly if you schedule all of your kid-friendly activities in advance so you don’t find yourself hurting for supplies, ideas, or entertainment. marketing analytics INBOUND 2012 20 Marketing Tactics to Get Your Kids to Simmer Down Now 17) Schedule content in advance. , like Pinterest and Instagram! Use coloring books, picture books, sidewalk chalk, or anything else visual to keep them entertained. You engage with your social media fans so they know you’re listening, and that you care what they have to say. Similarly, sometimes kids just need a little dose of attention to keep them satiated. 10 Sloppy Social Media Mistakes to Fix NOW . Apply that principle to your kids, and give them a little distraction from the adults with a game to keep them entertained. First prize? Ice cream! to meet new leads, forge new relationships with the community, and strengthen customer relationships. Take a cue from the networking superpower of in-person events, and stage a kid-friendly event for other kids to attend to so they can keep each other company. every Friday for nothing. not 16) Forge a partnership with a related business. Topics: create an effective call-to-action Just like you lean on your partners for help with content creation, co-marketing, and lead generation, you need an ally to help shoulder some of the burden of taking care of kids. See if grandma wants some time with her grandchildren, or if there’s an expectant mom that would like some quality time with a few kids.
Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack Since before blogs were created, people have told stories.Shocking. I know.But long predating the clickity-clacking of our keyboards were generations of people finding creative ways to communicate meaning with one another — to try to bring understanding to a complicated human experience. We painted on cave walls, carved pictures into trees, sorted images out of rocks, sang songs, danced, told stories … the best of those stories being passed down from generation to generation.Download Now: 6 Free Blog Post TemplatesStorytelling is a cornerstone of human existence, and it’s what enables successful people to communicate and connect with anyone — and I mean anyone — to this day. Whatever your goal, whether to initiate social change, make a sale, or make a friend, the people who are best at it are the ones who can tell a story that makes you sit up, listen, and understand. The best storytellers’ messages are heard.What exactly makes a great storyteller? I set out to reverse-engineer the answer to that question by compiling a list of who many of my colleagues and I agreed were some of the best storytellers in the world. Here’s who we found, and what we can learn from them on the art of storytelling. 10 of the World’s Best Storytellers from HubSpot All-in-one Marketing SoftwareWhat We Can All Learn From the Best Storytellers in the World1) Walt DisneyWhether watching one of his dozens of films or strolling through his beyond-belief theme parks, Walt Disney transcends age groups with his knack for creating a grandiose experience that completely immerses people in his stories. Disney knew how to create an experience by focusing on minute details, and understanding how all those details contributed to the full picture the audience took in. The result? You can leave the real world for a bit and visit, as his buddy Aladdin put it, a whole new world.Lesson: Use details to create an immersive experience; just take care to ensure those details don’t stand out so much that they detract from the story you’re trying to tell.2) Sheryl SandbergSheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of Lean In, uses her platform to address common problems today’s men and women face through personal anecdotes. The stories are ones we can all recognize and relate to. By tapping into such deeply personal experiences — ones we’re often surprised to hear about from someone so powerful — she generates empathy in her listeners and readers, empowering them to reach greater heights.Lesson: Sharing personal stories makes you feel vulnerable, but it’s that vulnerability that resonates with and connects you to other people.3) Leymah GboweeActivist and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee’s ability to tell an impactful story with not words, but actions, contributed directly to the ending of a 14-year long war in Liberia and the free election of Africa’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. She spearheaded peaceful yet remarkable movements to get her message of peace across — most notably a month-long sex strike for which she mobilized thousands of women — as well as a daring move in which those women gathered in an open field, wearing stark white shirts brandishing the WIPNET name, to garner media attention for their cause. Among many other remarkable and peaceful acts, she also mobilized the movement’s women through pictures on flyers to spread the message, for those women who could not read.Lesson: You can tell your story without words. Sometimes, the impact is far greater without them.4) Richard BransonRichard Branson is one of the richest — and as a result, one of the most powerful — men in the world. (With money comes a degree of power, no?) And yet, he’s not afraid to open the kimono. Branson never shies away from a conversation, an opportunity to tell stories about the little remarkable moments of his life, and the lives of others. He shares what he thinks, what he does, what he’s seen, what he’s heard — and that openness of personality is reflected in his brand. He understands that it’s the nuances, even if they’re a little less than polished, that make someone or something captivating.Lesson: Flaws make stories interesting, and more relatable. Don’t worry about polishing every little detail of your story — just tell it. Even the naughty bits. Actually, especially the naughty bits.5) charity: watercharity: water excels at using storytelling to paint a picture of a larger plight — the dearth of access to clean water in Africa — through the stories of just one person. Their most impactful medium is video; I recommend watching their video about a young girl named Rachel, for instance. That video alone raised $1.2 million for their cause. That’s right. One video. 1.2 million dollars. Nonprofit organizations face the difficult task of telling stories that hit an emotional chord, but don’t teeter into guilt for their audience. charity:water manages to tow that line, telling stories that are both heart-wrenching and still uplifting.Lesson: Sometimes one person’s story can help you give a voice to millions.6) Bruce SpringsteenGreat stories have heroes. They have villains. They have conflict. They have happy endings, sad endings, and sometimes, no ending at all. Bruce Springsteen, “The Boss,” has for decades painted pictures of the American experience through his music. The stories he tells often stem from other people’s stories — “The River,” as just one example, has been said to be inspired by his sister’s relationship with her husband. But these deeply personal anecdotes have the power to transport you into that song, as one of his characters living that experience. His songs have recurring characters, specific locations, and intense levels of detail that take you from rock bottom, to flying high. They make listeners feel like their story is part of a communal story, a shared history that makes you feel less alone — in your misery, hope, or elation.Lesson: Great storytelling brings together a disparate community through shared experience, making one individual feel part of something bigger.7) Nate SilverPeople often buckets storytellers with creatives, and data geeks with … well, data geeks. Nate Silver, statistician and writer, is where those worlds intersect. After developing PECOTA, the forecasting system for predicting the success of MLB players, he was able to apply his methods to predicting other things like, you know, the results of the 2008 presidential election in 49 out of 50 states. No biggie. (In 2012, he got all 50 states correct, for the record.) His statistical savvy has led to an entirely new angle on political reporting — a facts-based approach that, even without a statistical or political background, Silver makes easy to understand through his superb writing and blogging.Lesson: Numbers can help you tell your story more succinctly, and when dealing with emotionally charged subjects, more objectively, than mere words.8) Ellen DeGeneresEllen DeGeneres’ storytelling ability comes in her ability to get others to tell their stories — and make them sound hilarious, no matter how seemingly banal. She has the perfect mix of empathy, humor, and self-deprecation that makes anyone speaking with her feel comfortable enough to open up and share their experiences — and tell them truthfully, without fear of judgment. Her ability to find the best angles and coach interviewees to those points results in a deluge of uplifting, hilarious, and diverse stories that show everyone really does have something remarkable to share.Lesson: Whether they know it or not, everyone has a story to tell. If you approach conversations with an open mind, you can find those gems and make them interesting.9) Louis CKEllen DeGeneres focuses on the bright side of the banal, and Louis CK does the opposite. His stand-up, which is really just on-stage storytelling, taps into the worst parts of ourselves. The gross things we do, the awful things we say, the things we shouldn’t think but do … and then makes you realize everyone has that same storyline running through their heads. By baring the darkest recesses of his, say, bathroom routine, he makes you feel better about your own. Even if you don’t have the guts to share it out loud.Lesson: Tell your stories with unflinching honesty. Half-baked transparency is boring.10) Steve JobsNo list of great storytellers would be complete without Steve Jobs. As Tell to Win author Peter Guber put it, “Jobs’ job is story. He knows his devotees can’t just be customers — he needs apostles for his products who tell his story as their own and move it forward.” The best storytellers get others to tell their stories for them. To do that, your stories need to 1) have recall and 2) motivate. If your stories have impact, emotional resonance, and relevancy — most of which comes out in the details, by the way — your listeners will do much of your work for you.Lesson: Create an experience worth telling if you want your story to spread.Who did we miss? Share your storytelling heroes in the comments. Topics: Originally published Jun 7, 2013 9:00:00 AM, updated October 29 2019 Storytelling
How does stock photography work?Stock Photography websites are directories of photos that can be purchased for use on your own site. Stock photos can add visually interesting and compelling content to your marketing without the added design or outsourced photography needs.Free Download: How to Use Photos in MarketingStock photos get a lot of hate. Most of time, the annoyance makes sense. Stock photos get super expensive if you’re going to use them everywhere; there are lots of weird and creepy photos that leave you wondering who the heck took them – or would want to use them; and then when you see them thrown in randomly in someone’s blog post or website, you cringe a little inside.But really, stock photos aren’t all bad if you can use them in the right way. They can add visually interesting and compelling content to your marketing. They take out some of the design or outsourced photography you might need to build into your budget. And they can be pretty quick visual content solutions in a pinch. (HubSpot customers — get access to 60,000 totally free Shutterstock photos right within your portal by clicking here.)Unfortunately, most post aren’t talking about how to properly use stock photos … so our social media manager, Brittany Leaning, decided to help. Flip through the SlideShare she created below to get a few do’s and don’ts for using stock photos in your marketing: Topics: Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Using Stock Photos in Your Marketing from HubSpot All-in-one Marketing SoftwareSee? Using stock photos the right way can be effective. Now that you know the do’s and don’ts of using stock photos in marketing, want to show the world your skills? Download three free sets of stock photos (general, business, and holiday) and get to work!What other stock photo best practices would you suggest? Share your ideas with us in the comments below! Originally published Oct 25, 2013 8:00:00 AM, updated September 05 2017 Images
Lead Nurturing Originally published Sep 11, 2014 4:00:00 AM, updated August 01 2018 Topics: Properly engaging in conversations with someone is the most important part of developing a relationship. Whether these conversations happen via email, text, or social media, it’s imperative to make sure that you say the right thing at the right time to the right person — otherwise your relationship could take a turn for the worse. When building relationships, content and context are key.The same thing applies to building relationships with the leads in your database via email marketing. Poorly written emails, mass-produced messaging, and a lack of genuine thought and interest throughout your communication are all sure ways to alienate the recipient. So avoid deal-breakers early in your relationship by abiding by the following email etiquette tips. 1) Remember the Little Things CountThis point is super simple, but will always be inherently important — and for this reason it cannot be overlooked. Use common sense and make sure that you double and triple check for any mistakes within the email. Mistakes can include incorrect information, spelling errors, and poor grammar. Want to see an example of what not to do? Look no further than here for an example of a truly shocking email that is the spammiest of all spam. 2) Put Your Best Foot ForwardFirst impressions are crucial in relationships. When sending emails, you only get one chance to get this impression right — and best way to make it a good one is to optimize your email subject line. Research shows that “secrets” is the most clicked word in lead nurturing subject lines, so testing to find out what works for your audience is key to getting your email recipients to click through to all the good stuff on your website.Try to get your audience engaged from the get-go, but don’t trick them into it. Naturally, we can sometimes be drawn to scandalous headlines and hyperbolic messaging, but if the contents of the email don’t live up to the expectation that’s set in the subject line, you’re going to do more damage than good. Positioning your email’s content as something of value and interest is the best way to draw your audience in. Free tools like this Subject Line previewer from Email Tool Tester will help you gauge which email subject lines will be more successful. Want more insight into structuring an awesome email subject line? Check out “The Anatomy of a 5-Star Subject Line.”3) Get PersonalNobody wants to be just another name on a list. Personalizing your emails is a sure way to make the reader feel special. Addressing your email to the recipient’s first name creates a sense of familiarity and makes the reader feel like it’s actually meant for them and you’re paying attention. And, according to the 2014 Science of Email Report, having that first name personalization increases your clickthrough rate from about 5.8% to about 7%. Personalization can extend far beyond the use of names, too. Some things that you can pull in to your emails for a more relevant and personal experience include their role or industry, the most recent page on your website they have viewed, and the types of content they have downloaded.Check out this HubSpot blog post so you can rock email personalization and learn more about all the different ways you can do it.4) Play the Long GameFocusing on the end result (the sale) from the beginning sends one message — you only care about you. Your leads will know that you want one thing, and one thing only — and once you have it you won’t care about them anymore.And then they’ll find a way to avoid you. With more than 50% of respondents to the 2014 Science of Email Report saying they use a separate ‘spam’ email address to divert commercial emails, you want to make sure that your emails aren’t ending up in that same black hole. You have one too, don’t you — an email address you throw down when you have to provide one to gain access to content or a site? However, we all know of those companies from which we enjoy receiving emails because they give us the gift of interesting or helpful content. Follow their lead. By placing emphasis on creating value for your leads with relevant content and education during early email communication process, you will help foster a mutually beneficial relationship and lay the groundwork for a more successful close.5) Be YourselfFor the past few months, I have been receiving emails from Uber, all signed off by their Dublin Community Managers Cian and Pete. Recently I happened to meet Cian in real life and had a lovely conversation regarding their most recent ice cream campaign (and how, ironically, they ran it on what was possibly the wettest day in Ireland this year). I mentioned to him how much I loved getting his emails.The fact that a human had been emailing me made the brand feel more personable and authentic. Deep down I know that this wasn’t sent to just me, but upon reading the human sign-offs, I often forgot. It felt like someone had taken the time to email me personally.It may seem obvious, but signing off automated emails from a real person rather than a company will help develop the relationship further. 6) Know That It’s What’s on the Inside That CountsWhen I click into an email on my phone and see that it’s not mobile friendly, that email is being kicked to the curb. Instantaneous delete.In this day and age, and with 80.8% of users reading email on mobile devices, there is absolutely no excuse for not optimizing your emails for mobile access. Having to twist, pinch, swivel, and zoom in order to awkwardly read the contents of an email is a chore, and a very irritating one at that.You can learn how to optimize your emails for mobile with this beginners guide so you don’t make any rookie mistakes when trying to woo a lead.7) Keep It Short and Sweet so They’re Left Wanting MoreAccording to the 2014 Science of Email Report, “Emails that are short and sweet yield better results,” as both subject line and content length “have a negative correlation with email clickthrough rate.” In order to further engage your leads, keep your emails informative but concise. Just like this final tip.What other tips do you have for developing your email marketing relationships? Don’t forget to share this post! 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Topics: Office Politics Originally published Mar 11, 2016 6:00:00 AM, updated February 01 2017 Each of us spends a significant portion of our days at work, and consequently, around our coworkers. And because team members spend so much time together, they’ve often privy to relatively small details and actions — both positive and negative — that others more removed from the environment might miss. If you are fortunate enough to be a part of an efficient, effective, and genial team, odds are you’ll regularly have cause and the desire to thank your colleagues for actions both big and small. The usual suspects for showing gratitude — cards, cakes, and “thank you” notes — are all solid options. But in case you want your acknowledgement to stand out, consider using one of the following ideas.(Does your coworker like pranks more than thanks? In that case, check out this post on the 31 best office pranks, and start strategizing.)9 Unique Ways to Thank Your Coworkers1) Do their dirty work.Everyone has at least one task at work that they simply can’t stand. Maybe it’s data entry. It might be conducting a training or some other type of public speaking activity. Perhaps analytics make your colleague’s skin crawl.Whatever your coworker’s least favorite duty may be, offer to relieve them of it for a day or two as a way of showing your appreciation. Not only will this simple gesture improve their mood, it’ll also free up some of their time to do even more awesome stuff. Win for them, and win for the team as a whole. 2) Thank their manager.Managers are busy people, and depending on how many people they have reporting to them, they might not see everything each direct report does in a given day or week. With this in mind, one of the best ways to thank a remarkable coworker is to pass the thanks directly to their manager. Write an email calling out their remarkable deed, and make it known that this person’s impact is felt across the team. Then simply let your colleague know that you’ve tooted their horn for them, so they don’t have to. 3) Save them time.New time-saving apps for virtually every type of task or profession seem to pop up every day. The only problem: because there are so many, it can take a considerable amount of time to vet them and identify the best. Oh, the irony.If you know that your coworker struggles with a particularly time-consuming task, do the research on their behalf and find them an app, hack, or helpful tip that can shave hours off their day. Enabling your colleague to become more efficient in their day-to-day truly is a gift that keeps on giving. Don’t be surprised if there are tears of joy.4) Broaden their horizons.One of the best ways for professionals to progress in their careers is to learn and apply new skills. So if your coworker has been kicking serious ass at their job, thank them by gifting a subscription to a learning platform, such as Lynda.com (a database chock-full of expert-led video tutorials on subjects like design, business basics, web development) or SkillShare (virtual classes on marketing, technology, writing, and more facilitated by everyday folk). Besides helping them to broaden their horizons, this acknowledgment gift also carries a meaningful message: I believe in you, and want to see you go far. 5) Back them up.We’ve all been there — that awkward moment when you throw an idea out in a meeting, and no one says anything. Eyes are diverted. Throats are cleared. Clocks are glanced at. RIP: your idea.If this happens to a coworker who has had your back time and again, thank them by returning the favor and taking their side when the chips are down. Now, this is not to say that you should agree with them — especially if you truly don’t think their idea or argument is correct. But a simple validation, such as “interesting perspective,” or “thanks for sharing that” will make it clear you support them — even when no one else does. 6) Help them meet their goals.Regardless of what specific work you do, each of us is responsible for some type of deliverable that we must source, create, or otherwise fulfill upon. For example, a salesperson must find and sign new customers for their company. Recruiters are tasked with identifying high-potential job candidates. Marketers have to craft compelling copy for blog posts, websites, and landing pages.Want to thank your coworker? Help them meet their goal. If you know they’re having a tough time finding prospects or job candidates, provide a referral. If they’re in the midst of writer’s block, send some stellar writing along for inspiration. Ask them how you can help, and do it.7) Make an introduction.Your coworker is awesome, and you know it. So shouldn’t others know it as well?If you’re connected to influential people either internal or external to your company that it would benefit your colleague to know, make an introduction. Nothing says “thank you” quite like a new mentor or an opened door.To write a killer email introduction, keep the following tips in mind as your craft your message:Consider doing a double opt-in introduction (check out this post to learn how).Provide context around why you’re making the introduction now. For example, “Mary — Joe just completed an interesting project on X. Since we were recently chatting about ways to improve X, I thought you two should talk.”Clearly explain why each person would benefit from knowing the other. For example, “Mary, Joe brings a fresh perspective on X that you might find valuable. Joe, Mary has a lot of experience with X, and she can give you insight into how your ideas fit into the broader strategy.”Include any personal commonalities as fodder for starting a conversation.Add links to both parties’ LinkedIn profiles.Would a LinkedIn introduction be more appropriate? No problem. To make an introduction on LinkedIn, simply click the “send message” button on your coworker’s profile, click “add others to this message,” and pop in the second party’s name. Voilà!8) Provide a shoulder. No matter how much you love your job, everyone has frustrating days. Let’s say your coworker has been heading up a project that’s more involved than most — and doing a superb job. But then something goes awry, and it’s all hands on deck for a number of days. Is your coworker stressed? Undoubtedly. Instead of forcing them to grin and bear the situation all on their own, approach your colleague and offer your ear for a judgment-free vent session. Your coworker will feel much better for getting the chance to unload some frustrations, and the empathetic gesture will strengthen the bond between you. 9) Write a LinkedIn recommendation.LinkedIn is lousy with recruiters, and with this in mind, writing a recommendation for an exemplary colleague can go a long way to helping them achieve their ultimate career aspirations. Your words will provide proof of their awesomeness for all 400 million LinkedIn members to see. I think it’s safe to say that after writing a beautifully worded and overwhelmingly positive recommendation, you can consider them thanked. Not sure where to start? Use this post on writing the perfect LinkedIn recommendation as a guide.A heartfelt “thank you” is nice, but its effects last for a few hours at most. The best forms of acknowledgment better a person’s life in a significant and long-lasting way. Thank your coworker in one of these nine ways, and watch their performance soar.How do you thank your coworkers? Share your ideas and tips below. Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Lead Nurturing Topics: As businesses adopt inbound marketing and generate more and more leads, the need for an effective lead nurturing strategy becomes clear very quickly.After all, 50% of leads aren’t ready to buy at the time of first conversion, so lead nurturing — especially through email — is the smartest way for marketers like us to reach them.Why is email is the most powerful channel for lead nurturing? Because it’s a one-on-one interaction, and it can be highly personalized based on where a lead is in the buyer’s journey. In terms of engagement, research shows that lead nurturing emails beat out individual email blasts by far.So, how do you get started with email drip campaigns? Check out the infographic below from Eliv8 for five email drip campaign ideas that’ll help you increase engagement and sales. (And read this post for even more ideas for automated email workflows you can set up to engage and activate the different contacts in your database.)127Save127Save What other email drip campaign ideas can you add to this list? Share with us in the comments. Originally published Aug 8, 2016 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017 Don’t forget to share this post! AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to TwitterTwitterShare to FacebookFacebookShare to Email AppEmail AppShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to MessengerMessengerShare to SlackSlack
Originally published Sep 7, 2016 1:30:00 PM, updated July 28 2017 Every company has competitors. In fact, a competitive marketplace is a critical component of our free enterprise system, driving our economy, innovation and the continuous cycle of ever improving quality of products and services. But do you really know how your company compares to your competitors?Traditional competitive analyses are applied from either a business plan standpoint or as a component of the annual marketing plan, and they tend to focus primarily on areas such as; Researching your competitors’ corporation, determining your competitors’ goals and objectives, identifying your competitors’ strategies (product, pricing, positioning and place), and conducting a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats).While there are countless variations of the traditional competitive analysis, it typically lacks a clear assessment from a digital inbound marketing perspective. Companies tend to know their competitors based upon who they compete with on the street, in their local marketplace, or based upon the sales opportunities of what they have won or lost.Little awareness or recognition is given to their online competitors.Why is this so important? Consider this:97% of consumers now use online media when researching products and services in their local market184% of buyers engage in online information consumption and education2By a factor of 3 to 1, B2B buyers say that gathering information online on their own is superior to interacting with a sales representative.370% – 90% of the buyers journey is complete before they contact a sales representative 4So let’s review the stages of a person’s buyer’s journey to fully understand where we can affect their buying decision.Awareness: Your potential client becomes aware that they have a challenge that needs to be solved. This is where you want to attract them with relevant content for their challenge through blog articles, web pages, and social media.Consideration: At this stage your potential client is comparing different companies and their ability to solve his or her challenge. You need to have valuable content offers with premium content that proves your expertise in solving their problems.Decision: At this point you need to close them by convincing them that you are exactly what they need. You can help do this through trial offers, consultations, first-time discounts, etc.It’s important to understand that you have to compete for the mindshare of your ideal buyer while they are in their awareness and consideration stages of their evaluation journey.But, companies no longer control the selling process. Buyers now control the selling process.So, the most successful competitors you will face are online providing your ideal buyer with the information they seek and consume throughout their decision-making process. Therefore, your company website must become the hub of your marketing efforts and the key to creating more opportunities for your sales team.That means that you need to understand how well your competitors are doing with their online efforts to attract and convert your ideal buyer. It also means you need to know how you compare against them.With that in mind, here are 4 important steps you need to take to conduct an inbound marketing competitive analysis on your top online competitors:1) Identify Your Top Online CompetitorsYou need to expand your view of your competitors to include those who are ranking on page 1 in the search engine results pages (SERP) for the most relevant keywords to your business. Search engines, and increasingly social media, are where your buyers go to learn and educate themselves on how to solve their challenges, learn about their options, and determine which company or companies they are going to engage with when making a final decision.Since Google controls about 85% of all search traffic, we recommend using Google to evaluate your competitors’ websites, blog articles, social media articles, press releases, etc. that rank on page 1 of the search results for your top keywords. The companies that you see ranked on page 1 are your primary competitors. They are competing for the mindshare of your ideal buyer who is seeking and consuming information as part of the awareness and consideration stage of their buyer’s journey.So, your competitive analysis needs to include a sample of companies that consistently rank in the top search results for the most relevant keywords your ideal buyer uses to research information related to:Products and services that you provideProblems and challenges that your ideal buyer typically experiencesGoals, objectives and opportunities that your ideal buyer seeks to achieve or accomplishIdentify your top 4 – 10 competitors and their website addresses. If your company has different lines of business you may want to identify the top 4 competitors for each line of business as well.2) Assess Your Ability to Attract Your Ideal BuyersYour ideal buyer typically has a trigger event that drives them to clearly identify a challenge to overcome or a goal to achieve. This trigger happens in your buyer’s awareness stage of their buyer’s journey.Consider this: 78% of consumers believe that organizations providing custom content are interested in building good relationships with them…5It is in this initial awareness stage that your buyer will typically do a search to identify sources that will help them better solve their challenges and related issues. And it is during this awareness stage that you are competing to make sure your buyer is aware of your company. You are competing to position yourself through your custom content as a relevant source that can help them overcome their challenge.The two essential factors to evaluate in your competitors’ websites during this stage include:Website Strength EvaluationThat includes a website link analysis, mobile optimization, page loading speed test, and social media reach. The results of this analysis allows you to quantify where you stand against your competition in factors that significantly influence your website’s ability to attract visitors while they are in their Awareness Stage of their evaluation journey.Answer questions such as how many backlinks do my competitors have, from how many different domains, and are any of them government or education websites? Inbound links are a key component of Google’s assessment of your website’s authority and popularity.Content Evaluation That identifies the quantity and quality of the content assets your competitors have that are influential in attracting your ideal buyers to their website through search engines and social media. These content types include website pages, blog articles, social media posts, and online press releases. You need to have an understanding of both the quantity and quality of these content types. It’s important to know if your 30-page website is trying to compete against competitors who have websites with 75, 100, or 125 website pages. You need to know how many pages, blog articles, and social media posts your competitors are publishing and how often are they publishing. These content types are key drivers in generating inbound traffic from your buyers.3) Assess Your Ability to Convert Website Visitors to LeadsApproximately 96% of your website visitors are not ready to buy.6 Instead, they are actively looking for high value content that will give them the information they need to help solve their problem. At this point they are still in their consideration Stage. You need to evaluate how well your competitors are positioned to covert website visitors to leads or customers, and how that compares to how well you are positioned on your website. If all you have is a Contact Us page and a telephone number, then you are missing critical content assets that can convert more of your website visitors to leads. Missing critical content results in missed opportunities. Missed opportunities leads to your competitors winning over your potential customers.Michael McMillan said, “For every problem, there exists a solution…and at the very least…an opportunity.” Don’t miss that opportunity. Provide a solution. The key elements needed on your website to convert website visitors to leads are:A Strong and Clear Value Proposition That is concise, compelling, noticeably positioned, communicates your unique selling proposition and quickly answers the question of “why should I choose you.”Compelling Calls-to-Action (CTAs) That are noticeable and prompts your visitors to take an action. Your CTAs will normally be linked to a specific page (such as a landing page) that provides more detailed information about an offer. CTAs should be evident on your website pages, in your content offers, emails and blog posts.Persuasive Landing Pages That communicate the value of an offer to your ideal buyer. Landing pages typically have a form to collect some information from the visitor in order to receive the offer. This is where most of the magic happens when converting website visitors into leads.Forms That are used to acquire information from your visitor in return for providing high-value content offers, assessments, trial offers, consulting, etc. Typically, at a minimum the forms include acquiring the first name, last name and email address of the person requesting the offer. This information is then stored in a contact database and used for email follow-ups.High-Value Content OffersSuch as whitepapers, case studies, eBooks, buyer guides, videos, webinars, podcasts, infographics, use cases, kits, presentation decks, etc. should be made available to your visitors to help position you as the best company and resource to solve their challenge.Content offers are a very important component of your lead generation efforts. Assessing your competitors’ content offers is extremely important to better understand their lead generation capabilities that lead to more sales opportunities. The more content they are providing compared to you, the more problems they are solving for your potential customers.Email signupsSuch as subscribing to eNewsletters, alerts, notices and promotional offers should also be evaluated, as they can be an easy way to stay connected to your target buyers. This is one of the easiest ways to nurture your leads into customers and to keep a connection with your current and returning customers.Analyzing what your competitors are doing across all of these elements will give you a current assessment on how you compare with them in lead generation capabilities. It will identify key strengths and weaknesses of how you compare against your competition. You will also find new opportunities on how to improve your lead generation efforts.Other items to analyze include:A Content AuditWhere you evaluate the content on your competitors’ websites. Identify the different content types, the frequency of their publishing and the quality of the content being provided. It can also be useful in learning more about the topics and subject matter in which they are positioning themselves as an industry thought leader.Search Engine Optimization (SEO) An assessment where you can assess the effectiveness of their SEO efforts. Areas of assessment include page title, URL architecture, header tags, image alt text, internal linking and content length. These are often overlooked details that effect your ranking in search engines.4) Identify Areas for ImprovementThe primary objective of this inbound marketing competitive analysis is to determine how you compare against your competition and identify the key areas where you need to improve your ability to attract more of your ideal buyers and convert them into leads for your sales team. Properly executed Inbound Marketing tactics are 10 times more effective for lead conversion compared to outbound methods.7You may find that you need to create and publish more blog articles and social media posts to drive more of your target audience to your website. Companies that blog 15+ times per month generate 5x more website traffic than companies that don’t blog.8Don’t think you have the time or resources to blog 15 times per month? No problem. Check this out. B2B Companies that blog only 1-2 times per month generate up to 70% more leads than those that don’t.9You may find that you need to create more CTAs and Landing Pages tailored to your different buyer personas to help generate more leads, as companies with 30 or more landing pages generate 7x more leads than those with fewer than 10.10We recommend that you perform an inbound marketing competitive analysis on at least an annual basis and ideally on a quarterly or semi-annual basis.A Few Eye-Opening Stats From Real Competitive AnalysesHere’s a sneak peek at some of the statistics various companies found out when we conducted a competitive analysis for them.83% of the companies who requested a competitive analysis ranked last overall compared to their competitors. Don’t leave your company’s performance in question. In this case ignorance is not bliss.0% of the Construction companies we have analyzed had a blog. Blogging is one of the best ways to increase your website traffic.80% of the Engineering companies we have analyzed did not provide content offers. Content offers can be the highest-valued content on a website for your potential customers.80% of the Solar companies we have compared did not have email signups, which is one of the key drivers for lead nurturing.Only 25% of the Telecommunications companies we have compared engaged in some form of marketing automation. Marketing automation helps qualify leads faster and more efficiently and provides an all-in-one platform to market your company in the digital world.Want to know how you stack up against your competition? Don’t do your digital marketing in the dark any longer. Topics:  BIA/Kelsey Google ZMOT ForresterForrester McMurry/TMG Kissmetrics GartnerHubSpot Business2CommunityHubSpot Conducting Marketing Research Don’t forget to share this post! 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Topics: Email Marketing Originally published Jan 31, 2017 6:00:00 AM, updated May 10 2018 As the number of email senders fighting for recipients’ attention continues to climb, many marketers are seeing their engagement rates steadily decrease — even if they’re using an approach that worked well a year or two ago. But that’s the problem: If you haven’t shaken up your email program in over a year, your emails are probably getting stale.Whether you’re an email marketing veteran or are just getting started, you may be operating under certain common misconceptions about email that have been disproved by research. Even worse, your email may be getting dull due to a lack of experimentation or inspiration. Maybe you’re aware that it’s time to switch up your email marketing, but it can still be hard to know where to begin.Click here to download our free ebook featuring 104 email marketing myths, experiments, and inspiration.HubSpot and SendGrid are here to help. We’ve joined forces to jumpstart your effort to redefine your email program. In doing so, we created a guide with over 100 rigorously-researched tips on how to avoid common misconceptions, figure out what works for your audience, and bring new inspiration to your email program. Inside, you’ll find:Facts to help you push past the newest and most stubborn email marketing mythsTest and experiment ideas you can use to optimize your email campaignsTips and inspiration to help you identify ways to keep your emails fresh and engagingExtra juicy pro tips you can share with your network with one clickClick here to download 104 Email Marketing Myths, Experiments, and Inspiration Don’t forget to share this post!
And here’s how the employee promoted it on her Twitter handle: Influencer marketing is a trendy topic these days, but it doesn’t require a lot of work or a ton of money to harness the power of influencers on your brand’s social media channels.One of the lowest-effort and most organic ways to work with another person or brand to advance your marketing goals is by hosting an Instagram takeover.Download 25 Free Business Instagram Templates.Not sure what we’re talking about? Instagram takeovers involve a person or brand posting on your Instagram channel to give followers a peek at new and unique content from another perspective. Here’s an example of our friends at WeWork taking over our Instagram account: In this post, we’ll dive into how to host your own Instagram takeover to drive engagement, brand awareness, and more positive outcomes for your brand.What’s an Instagram Takeover?Instagram takeovers consist of one user taking over another Instagram account temporarily and sharing original content with their audience. Takeovers usually take place between influencer and brand Instagram accounts within the same industries or geographic locations. For example, here’s a post from a one-day Instagram takeover when we hosted Wistia on HubSpot’s Instagram and Instagram Stories:Other types of Instagram takeovers can include:Employee takeoversCustomer or community member takeoversEvent takeoversProduct or offer promotionsInstagram takeovers are mutually beneficial for the guest Instagrammer and the host account. The host can bring valuable new content to their followers without having to create it themselves, and the guest is able to reach an entirely new audience by posting on another account. Plus, Instagram takeovers help cultivate good-faith relationships between influencers that can create inroads for future collaboration and cross-promotion.Now, let’s dive into how to get started with your Instagram takeover.How to Host an Instagram Takeover1) Choose what you want to accomplish.It’s important to determine what you want to get out of an Instagram takeover before choosing a guest and executing. Ideally, your Instagram takeover will achieve multiple positive results, but choosing a primary goal of the campaign will help determine which type of guest to invite.Instagram takeover goals could include:Increasing brand awareness. This can be measured by the number of new followers of the Instagram account as a result of the takeover.Promoting a product, event, or offer. This can be measured by the number of event registrations, offer redemptions, or lead form submissions as a result of the takeover.Driving engagement within the Instagram community. This can be measured by the number of likes, comments, video and Story views, and link clicks as a result of the takeover.2) Pick your guest Instagrammer.Determining the goals of your Instagram takeover will help you decide who to choose to host it. For example, we wanted to increase brand awareness and promote working at HubSpot, so we hosted a takeover by our recruiting team on our Instagram Story:But we don’t always do employee takeovers. There are a few types of guest Instagrammers you can invite to create content for your takeover:Influencers within your industryEmployees at your companyCommunity members or customersNow, this isn’t to say that these Instagram takeover guests can only accomplish one of the goals we outlined in the previous section. But generally speaking, we recommend choosing your guest with the most effective strategy in mind.Influencers will draw their audience of followers to your Instagram with their endorsement of your brand, so they’re the best fit if your primary goal is to increase brand awareness by growing followers.Employees will attract interest from their friends and colleagues who want a behind-the-scenes look at what they do at work every day. They’re the best fit if your primary goal is to drive engagement on Instagram.Community members and customers will post enthusiastically about your brand and show the value of your product. They’re the best fit if your primary goal is to promote a product, event, offer, sign-up, or download.Again, these goals aren’t mutually exclusive. Ideally, the content your guest creates will be highly engaging, shareable, and compelling to the viewer. 3) Decide on the content format and takeover logistics.Once you’ve figured out what you want to accomplish and who will host your takeover, it’s time to nail down the specifics of how the takeover will run. Below are our suggestions of questions to answer when you meet with your takeover host:When are you hosting the Instagram takeover? Will it last one day, or one week?Who will manage the account? Will the guest get access to your Instagram credentials, or will they send you content and captions to post on their behalf?How many times per day will you post takeover content? If you have an optimal publishing schedule in mind, what times per day will the host need to post?What hashtags will be used? Will you create a custom hashtag to promote the takeover? Is there a maximum amount of hashtags you want the guest to use in any given caption?Which types of content will be shared during the takeover? Will the guest post photos, videos, Instagram Stories, or live videos? Will they post a combination of these formats?How will both the guest and the host promote the takeover on Instagram? Will you agree to promotion on Instagram or other channels leading up to the event?Are there any guardrails? Is there anything the guest shouldn’t record or mention over the course of the takeover?Once the details of the takeover are nailed down, decide how you’ll measure success over the course of the event.4) Determine metrics to track during the takeover.Depending on the goals of your Instagram takeover, some of these metrics will be more important than others. Below are the metrics we recommend tracking over the course of your takeover:# of new followers# of likes# of comments# of mentions# of direct messages# of Instagram Story views# of live video viewers# of Instagram Story clicks# of offer redemptions/app downloads (if you promote a landing page)# of attendees or sign-ups (if you promote an event)Total social referral traffic to your websiteQualitative metrics to keep track of could also include positive comments on Instagram.5) Promote the takeover across multiple platforms.Once you’ve figured out the details of your Instagram takeover, it’s time to start getting people excited about it. Start promoting your upcoming Instagram takeover within a day or two before the event. If there are any contests, giveaways, or other incentives for people to follow along, make those clear in your promotions.Promote the takeover on Instagram — especially if the takeover is happening within Instagram Stories or Instagram Live, and you want to drive visitors to view those spots within the app.Promote the takeover on other social media channels to get as many eyes on your campaign as possible — especially if your brand’s Instagram account isn’t as developed or engaged as other channels.Here’s how we promoted an employee Instagram takeover last year: Topics: INSTAGRAM TAKEOVER FOR @HUBSPOT TOMORROW. BE THERE. #insta https://t.co/0gQxYa4K4P pic.twitter.com/JFthjtZKON— Katherine Boyarsky (@katboyarsky) February 24, 2016 Don’t forget to share this post! The host and the guest should promote the takeover on a few of their channels leading up to the event to get both audiences as engaged and excited as possible. 6) Launch the takeover.On the day of the takeover, it’s all systems go.Make sure you have one team member monitoring comments and one team member uploading content to Instagram (if applicable). You can now upload content from desktop computers in addition to the mobile app to make the process easier from the office.Throughout the day, cross-promote content that the guest is posting on their channels to help draw new people to your own Instagram takeover event.Make sure to communicate when the takeover is starting and ending. Note in captions when the first and last posts are happening so viewers aren’t confused or abruptly left in the lurch, wondering if there’s more content forthcoming. 7) Analyze the results.Once the takeover is over, analyze how it performed, and use those learnings to determine how (or if) you’ll do your next takeover differently. Here are some questions to ask in your post-mortem analysis:Did we achieve our goal? Did you earn more Instagram followers, achieve high levels of engagement, or get visitors to sign up for your offer?Did we achieve secondary goals? Did the takeover result in other net benefits for your brand and your business?Was the takeover worthwhile? Did it save you time and energy creating your own content, or did it create extra work? Did it drive a push of traffic and engagement, or did numbers remain mostly the same?Even if the takeover doesn’t drive hard numbers for your business’s bottom line, takeovers are authentic and real, and they provide an inside look at an aspect of your brand or community followers don’t normally see. Social media is about being social, so pay attention to qualitative feedback, too. If commenters respond positively to the takeover, take their feedback and use it for ideating future Instagram campaigns.Now that you’re armed with a simple checklist for launching your takeover, follow up with us if our suggestions bring you success. For more ideas on how to drive results for your brand, follow us on Instagram, and download our guide to Instagram for business here.Has your brand ever hosted an Instagram takeover? Share with us in the comments below. Instagram Marketing Originally published May 29, 2017 6:00:00 AM, updated October 30 2019
AC Milan boss Giampaolo: Players must give their lives for the shirt, not for meby Carlos Volcano21 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveAC Milan boss Marco Giampaolo is not seeking excuses for their start of the season.Giampaolo’s job is on the line facing Genoa this weekend.He said, “After four defeats in six games it is normal that everything is black. Even in this case we must have balance, I don’t think it’s time to make definitive judgments. “I know that the team has a lot of room for improvement, especially from the mental point of view, learning to do certain things in a certain way.”The players have to give their lives for the shirt, not for me. The team believed and believes in my ideas. “You have to be strong in defeats, you have to suffer and be attentive to details.” About the authorCarlos VolcanoShare the loveHave your say
Hyypia has no doubt about Liverpool title focusby Paul Vegas13 days agoSend to a friendShare the loveLiverpool Champions League title winner Sami Hyypia has no doubts about the team’s title focus.But while Liverpool stretched their lead over Manchester City to eight points going into the international break, Hyypia knows there is a long road ahead. He said, “It’s a great thing that no one left last summer – they kept all their big players. And, when I see them play, it looks like everyone wants to be there to play for this club and be in this team.“I watch them and it seems they are having fun playing at such an extraordinarily high level – but they are also demanding of each other. That’s why they won’t ease up.“I saw the episode with Mo Salah and Sadio Mane, but, far from thinking that was damaging to the dressing room spirit, I thought that showed how strong it is.“It just shows that everyone wants to win together and what a great group Klopp has built with that dynamic.“It’s always good to have that kind of openness where players can call each other out. That’s part of the culture of winning.“All successful teams have that desire, which means they demand more from each other.“I remember some sparks flying between players when I was at Anfield – and that’s only good for the team.” About the authorPaul VegasShare the loveHave your say
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – SEPTEMBER 3: View of a Michigan Wolverines football helmet before their game against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on September 3, 2015 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)Apparently wide receiver Devin Funchess is not the only recent Michigan football player who can throw down. After seeing Funchess’ impressive dunk on Instagram on Sunday, quarterback Devin Gardner decided to make one of his own.Gardner’s dunks are definitely impressive, especially for someone who focuses on another sport, but we’ll have to award this impromptu Wolverine dunk contest to Funchess. That vertical leaping ability is sure to impress NFL scouts in the coming weeks during the combine and other draft preparation events.
Twitter/@derekjstevensCollege basketball fans will tell you to never bet against Tom Izzo in March. One Las Vegas casino owner, Derek Stevens, placed a $20,000 bet on Michigan State to win the title back after the team’s 79-78 overtime loss to Notre Dame on December 3. The 5-3 Spartans were at 50-1 to win it all at the time, giving Stevens a potential payout of $1 million.I’ll be @theDlasvegas #LONGBAR to #SpartyOn THX @GoldenNuggetLV & @Gollumlv for giving me the shot @darrenrovell pic.twitter.com/GjK1ueQfin— Derek Stevens (@DerekJStevens) March 31, 2015In an article by ESPN’s Darren Rovell, sportsbook director Tony Miller admits that this is a big risk for the casino.…Miller accepted Stevens’ $20,000 bet, never thinking he’d be sweating the possibility that the Spartans could pull it off. “In my nine years at this sportsbook, I never accepted a bet that could result in us paying $1 million,” Miller said. “The most I’ve ever seen won here was a $100,000 parlay.”…Miller and Stevens have become good friends over the years, which makes the fact that the Spartans have two games to win it all a bit awkward.“This would be a massive loss for us,” Miller said. “I see days where we lose $10,000 to $30,000, but nothing close to $1 million.”Michigan State is a five point underdog against Duke on Saturday, and would play either Kentucky or Wisconsin for the title on Monday night. Stevens still has a long way to go to cash in, but it is definitely impressive that his bet is still alive.[ESPN]
by Todd Cohenphotograph by Nick PironioWhen Daniel Wagner was 14, two teenage girls from his neighborhood in Port Huron, Mich., were killed in a car crash. The tragedy, and the lessons he learned from it, have shaped his life for more than four decades.About 20 miles from their destination, the girl behind the wheel “dropped a right front tire off the pavement, jerked the car back on the road, overcorrected, and got T-boned by a semi,” he says. “Both girls were killed instantly. I remember going to the funeral home for the visitation. Both caskets were closed because they couldn’t repair those girls, and there was just a picture of each of them on top of the caskets.”After the accident, Wagner’s father took him for a ride, “literally driving his car off the road and showing me how to bring it back on properly so that I never experienced something like that crash,” he says.Wagner estimates he has driven more than 1 million miles over the past 40 years and says he has “never put a dent or scratch on a single vehicle.” But he believes most people don’t know how to drive, and he is trying to do something about it.In 2010, Wagner founded Teen Driving Solutions School, a nonprofit that puts teens and their parents through a two-day course at the Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Va., near Danville, north of Durham. Wagner, who is its president, has invested $150,000 of his own money in the school, which has trained more than 200 teens from the Carolinas and Virginia. Only one of them has been in an accident since taking the course.“You can drive if you understand your vehicle and its capabilities and limitations, and you’re focused on your driving and your own limitations,” says Wagner, a Willow Spring resident and Michigan native who will be 57 this month. “We want to forever remove driving as the No. 1 cause of death for teens,” Wagner says. “They’ve been set up to fail, and they’re continually failing. I want these kids to have the ability to come home alive.What’s wrong with the way teens learn to drive?Driver education does not teach them how to drive. It teaches them how to pass the license exam. It’s the parents’ responsibility to actually teach them how to drive, and most parents don’t know how to drive themselves. And we have these graduated driver licenses, which have kicked the can down the road. While these graduated licenses have reduced fatalities for 16- and 17-year-olds, statistics show that fatalities for 18- to 24-year-olds are on the rise. They’re disconnected from the vehicle they’re driving. Our entire driving philosophy in this country is that experience is the key to safe driving.Why did you start Teen Driving Solutions School?A few years ago, several nephews and nieces started to drive. Within just a few months of their having driver licenses, every one of those kids was involved in a crash.What did you do?I started researching. I found they’re not being taught anything compared to what I was taught. I started to write a book about how to drive, and about how today’s youth are set up to fail when it comes to driving.What is the best way to drive?There are two primary things that make a safe driver. One is the use of sound judgment for making good decisions. The second thing is understanding the vehicle you’re driving. You have a 3,500-pound machine that is subject to the laws of physics.How does your school teach driving?The school literally puts these two concepts together – mental skills with vehicle control skills – in pretty much real-world scenarios. Parents and kids are required to take the course together, and we put them in the cars at different times and in classes at different times. In the classroom, parents are learning communication skills – how to be more of a coach than a parent when they’re in the right-hand seat. On the track, parents are learning three things – how to correct the bad habits they’ve developed over the last 20 or 30 years; learning how to lead by example; and learning exactly what we’re teaching their child and why we teach it that way.How bad is the problem of teenage drivers?Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teens and cause more than 400,000 injuries to teens a year. In Wake County, from 2008 to 2011, we lost 35 teenagers.What mistakes do parents typically make in turning over the car keys to their teens?Probably the biggest one is they don’t set the rules, the guidelines, for these kids – where you can go, who can go with you, when are you to be home. The second biggest mistake is they’re allowing teens to drive when they’re not fully qualified for that responsibility. The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm about five years ago did a survey on parents’ involvement with teen drivers. What they found was that parents who are fully and actively engaged in their teens’ driving ended up with teenagers who were 50 percent less likely to be in any type of crash, 50 percent less likely to drive without a seatbelt, and 71 percent less likely to drink and drive. Those to me are phenomenal statistics. They basically cut the risk in half just by being an involved parent.What are some common driving mistakes that lead to teen crashes?The biggest one is distractions that lead them to drive off the road. Looking at a cellphone, not paying attention. Texting is a huge problem. You’ve taken your mind off your driving, and you’ve taken your eyes off your driving. Those are two critical errors.When they drive off the road, they panic and try to jerk the car back on. That’s one of the leading causes of fatal crashes. They don’t understand how this car is going to react. By panicking and bringing the car back on too quickly, they lose control, and then they overcorrect, which turns the car the other way.Where were you educated?I never went to college. I’m a self-taught, self-trained mechanic. I attended trade school during high school. Then I opened up a repair shop in a Shell gas station. I did that about two years. My actual career, which started in 1980, is selling upholstery fabrics to the bus industry. I work for a textile mill, Holdsworth Fabrics, in Mirfield, England. My territory is the eastern half of North America – Mexico, the United States and Canada.You work full-time for your business and for the driving school?It takes up most of my waking hours. I’m also interim president for Calvin’s Paws, a cat rescue charity in Raleigh.What kind of car do you drive? Cadillac CTSV. It’s a four-door sports car. 556 horsepower. Stick. I prefer stick. It’s more fun to drive. You have to pay more attention to what you’re doing because you’re in charge of the gear changes. It keeps you more engaged in your driving. I wish everyone would drive a stick.What do you do for fun?Driving on track. I’m an instructor for high-performance driving events. Clubs where members can go out on the racetrack. You learn how to drive performance cars, street cars like mine.What are you reading?I spend hours a week researching driving issues on the web.What is your favorite driving movie?Gone in 60 Seconds.What inspires you?Seeing people achieve what they’re capable of achieving in life.What is your philosophy of life?Do your best at everything you do.