7 MARKETING AUTOMATION MISTAKES YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO MAKE

7 MARKETING AUTOMATION MISTAKES YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO MAKE

I have money in my savings account because my bank has a built-in auto-deposit process. I’m not logging into my account every day and moving money around, but when I do log in, I can see the progress I’ve made toward my goals by setting my account to automate deductions.

Think of marketing automation like auto-deducting money from your checking account and putting it into savings: The automatic process lets you invest in your future goals in an easier way than if you did it manually.

Marketing automation can play a significant role in the success of your inbound marketing strategy, but there is a right way and a wrong way to use it.

We want to help you understand marketing automation, and how and when to use it to your organization’s benefit. In this post, we’ll discuss traps marketers can fall into when incorporating marketing automation and alternatives that solve for these challenges.

What Is Marketing Automation?

Quite simply, marketing automation refers to the software that exists to automate marketing actions — actions like email, social media, and more. All of these automated actions are designed with the concept of lead nurturing in mind. In other words, marketers are creating and automating various types of content with the goal of actively attracting, qualifying, and moving prospects through the sales funnel towards a purchase.

And the marketing automation industry is huge — Emailmonday estimates that 49% of companies use marketing automation software, and Marketing Automation Insider estimates that the industry is worth $1.62 billion per year.

The trouble is, because marketing automation software has grown so significantly as a part of the inbound marketing movement, some marketers aren’t adopting it correctly. Let’s dig into some of the most common marketing automation mistakes below.

7 Common Marketing Automation Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)

1) You’ve invested in marketing automation without an inbound lead generation strategy.
The Problem:
You’ve purchased and started using marketing automation software, but you don’t have a strong content strategy in place yet. As a result, you aren’t attracting enough qualified leads to your website, so the ROI of your marketing automation software is low.
To solve this problem, you might be considering buying an email contact list to build the size of your database.

The Solution:
Before you buy an email list, don’t.
You see, it’s not a sound lead generation strategy to purchase email contact lists for a few reasons. For one, people don’t generally like being contacted unsolicited, and you don’t want to irritate potential customers. Additionally, purchased email lists have generally high churn rates — because the leads are often unqualified — meaning your database won’t have the long-term growth that you’re looking for.

Instead of going that route, focus on developing an inbound marketing strategy aimed at attracting folks that actually want to hear from you. Write blog posts, create content offers, calls-to-action, and landing pages, and optimize your website so it will rank well in organic search. These efforts will ensure that your content is being discovered by your audience. Then, once you start generating more leads, you’ll be able to nurture them effectively with automated emails and social media posts.

2) You don’t have a goal for your marketing automation.
The Problem:
You’re sending out multiple automated email and social media messages without an end goal in mind.

The Solution:
Take advantage of the ease of use marketing automation software provides and invest time and efforts into determining your goals first. Once you have them, you’ll want to assign these goals to each automated effort — social media, email workflows, and so on — to ensure it’s easy to track progress.

After all, marketers need a way to measure success when it comes to marketing automation, and one means of doing so is by evaluating goal attainment. For example, here at HubSpot, the Visual Workflows App (currently in beta) lets you set a specific goal for each automated workflow. A goal might be a new lead transitioning into a marketing-qualified lead based on certain behaviors, such as downloading a specific number of content offers.

HubSpot Visual Workflows also allows you to track the percentage of contacts in each workflow that achieve the goal, which is another great way to measure the success and ROI of your marketing automation.

3) You don’t segment your email list.
The Problem:
You have a database full of qualified leads, but you’re using marketing automation software to blast out tons of emails that aren’t customized at all. As a result, your leads are churning because your emails aren’t useful to them.

The Solution:
Develop a lead nurturing strategy that includes email list segmentation so you’re sending specific emails to specific people that they’re more likely to open.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 77% of email marketing ROI came from targeted, segmented campaigns in 2015, and segmented emails generate 58% of all revenue. Seems like a must-have strategy, right? Unfortunately, only 42% of email marketers are sending targeted messages.

With the right marketing automation software, it’s easy to execute an email list segmentation strategy that delivers strong results. For example, HubSpot customers can use the Visual Workflows App to target their emails based on dozens of criteria, both demographic and behavioral.

4) You send too many emails.
The Problem:
Perhaps your email list isn’t segmented, or maybe you’re a little overzealous with your marketing automation software. Whatever the reason, you’re annoying potential prospects by sending way too many emails.

The Solution:
Strategically send fewer emails.
When it comes to your email database, focus on quality over quantity. It’s better to have a lower volume of leads with higher engagement rates than a massive database of people who don’t open your emails.

Why? Because higher quality leads are more likely to become customers.

A staggering 78% of customers recently surveyed by HubSpot Research have unsubscribed because the brand was sending too many emails. To avoid sending one of many such emails, make sure that every single email you send provides value to leads in a way that they won’t be able to help but click.

5) You’re only automating your email marketing strategy.
The Problem:
You use your marketing automation software to send out emails, and not much else.

The Solution:
Take advantage of all of the features your software offers to maximize efficiency.

There are probably a lot of little tasks over the course of your work day that don’t seem time consuming individually. However, if you add up all of the time you spend posting on social media, updating contact information, and other tasks, you end up with a large chunk of your day spent on things that can probably be automated.

Poke around your marketing automation to see which processes you can make more efficient. For example, in the HubSpot software, users can bulk update lead contact information instead of clicking into each record and changing details there.

The more processes you automate, the more time you’ll have each day to strategize with your team about content, lead generation, and lead nurturing tactics to keep attracting quality leads to your site.

6) You’re only sharing your marketing automation efforts within your marketing department.
The Problem:
You have marketing automation set up only for email marketing, social media, and other lead activities that are only impacting your marketing team’s bottom line.

The Solution:
Use a “smarketing” approach, and make your marketing automation work for sales reps as well.

Think bigger than just the marketing team: What processes would help your sales team if they were automated?
For example, if there were a process in place that alerted reps to when their leads were checking out parts of your website, that would help inform their next call or email. When a lead fills out a form, it could trigger a specific email send from marketing and a follow-up call from their sales rep. Marketing automation software also helps users set follow-up tasks and to-do lists, which reps could use to keep track of the many leads they’re working at a given time.

Take your sales and marketing alignment to the next level by making processes easier for team members across the board to achieve their goals with the help of marketing automation.

7) You use too many different tools.
The Problem:
Roughly half of marketers use marketing automation software, and those who do often combine different strategies into a “Frankensystem” of tools to achieve their bottom line.

For example, they might start on a whiteboard, move to a spreadsheet, then shift onto an online flowchart maker, and only then will they use marketing automation software. This system is problematic in a few ways — it’s time consuming, numbers can be incorrectly analyzed, and communication is complicated.

The Solution:
Invest in all-in-one marketing automation software.

The point of marketing automation is to make things easier and more efficient, and your team won’t achieve that if you’re spending too much time updating different documents or manually targeting your leads database.

All-in-one marketing automation software offers a variety of criteria options to target your audience, as well as visualization tools so you can see how your marketing automation efforts are working together. That means you’ll be spending less time writing out numbers and emailing spreadsheets to your team members, and more time implementing strategies designed to qualify leads.

HOW TO GENERATE B2B LEADS THAT CONVERT

how to generate b2b leads that convert

We’re sure you know by now that about 95% of potential B2B buyers research online before deciding to make a purchase. And obviously, this means that there is a huge opportunity to create good leads online and successfully convert them into sales.

Unfortunately, it’s not so simple. Because B2B leads are different from B2C leads, and the process of B2B decision making is more complex and layered than that of B2C. Therefore, the way to generate these leads need to be approached differently too. According to a recent report, most top B2B marketers named getting good quality leads online as their biggest marketing challenge!

So, how does one go about getting high quality B2B leads?

  • Take advantage of data: Contrary to traditional marketing methods, online marketing is measurable! And that gives you a great advantage in planning your marketing campaigns. Before making decisions about lead generation campaigns, analyse the available data and what it indicates, in terms of what works and what doesn’t.
  • Identify your buyer persona: Craft clear buyer personas and think from each relevant persona’s point of view.
  • Pinpoint the buyer’s stage in the journey: Identify the stage that the buyer might be in his buyer’s journey and create your marketing strategy according to that. If the buyer is undecided about his problem and the solution required, nudge him towards a solution/decision by offering helpful content at this stage. High quality content is highly recommended at this stage to obtain high quality leads.
  • Nurture your leads patiently: Fact: About 3/4th of leads are not ready to commit to a purchase. Meaning, that this is where lead nurturing comes in – that effective practice that builds relationships with prospective customers by engaging them and nudging them down the sales funnel. Targeted emailing is one of the most effective and economical lead nurturing methods available. In fact, research firm McKinsey states that, after organic search, emails are the next best channel for acquiring great leads. On an average, every $1 spent on lead nurturing emails yields a return of about $44. In other words, lead nurturing with the help of email marketing, works by helping to create trust in sceptical prospects. It gives you the opportunity to personally reach out to your prospects in ways most suitable to them and convince them that you’re dependable.
  • Analyse prospect actions: As you communicate with your lead and develop a trusting relationship through email marketing, pay close attention to the actions and behaviour of the lead and modify your actions accordingly. Use marketing automation software to derive critical data about what emails/CTAs the lead is clicking on or ignoring. With the insights gained by data analysis you will get a better idea of what the lead needs and how to supply it to him.

These are just a few of the ways you can go about generating good, high-quality leads that are likely to convert to paying customers. However, do remember that despite employing all the above techniques, you may not be able to convert every one of your leads. That is okay. Sometimes, the prospect is simply not interested in anything other than the free offer of content. So, let them go. Focus, instead, on those who show a gradual, though cautious, increase in interest in your product/service.

For more tips and tricks on getting and converting great leads, continue reading our blog How to Generate B2B Leads that Convert (Part-2).

For any other query on online marketing/ digital marketing, contact us at www.digitant.com.

INBOUND MARKETING: DELIVERING GREAT ROI OVER TIME

inbound-marketing

Have you ever been asked the question, “How long will it take for you to show us results?” during your initial pitch presentation? Well, you’re not alone. Many inbound marketers have fielded this question from various clients.
While the clients’ curiosity and impatience is understandable, it is important to let them know that inbound marketing takes time to deliver results, but the results are worth the time.

Contrary to outbound marketing, which is about short-term gain (if at all), inbound marketing is all about earning the trust of and building relationships with your customers. Like in any valuable relationship, ample investment has to be made over a period of time before inbound marketing starts showing results.

The process of inbound marketing broadly involves the following steps, each of which will show results:

  1. Attract a prospect’s interest with a good piece of content.
  2. Follow up with more articles, blog posts, etc. in the relevant topic/industry.
  3. Offer useful and valuable content to the prospect (ebook, white paper, video, case study, infographic, etc.) in return for information to drive the prospect further down the sales funnel.
  4. Nurture your leads by sending them emails and other relevant communication in timely intervals.

The above steps are all parts of the “conversation” with the customer, and may even at times overlap over a short period of time. Due to this, the results may start showing up at various times. Nevertheless, each of them should be designed to move the lead further down the sales funnel, closer to the goal of converting them to loyal customers.

Typical Timelines:

With continued, concentrated efforts of attracting, engaging and nurturing your prospects and leads, slowly but surely results will start showing up.

Inbound marketing campaign: Based on the industry, and the level of activity, an inbound campaign typically starts to show returns in about 6-9 months.

Social media, Email campaigns: It takes about 3-6 months for these campaigns to show results.

Blogging, Content marketing: These methods take a bit longer, about 6-9 months.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization): This takes relatively the longest time to yield returns often up to a year.

The important thing to remember is that even though there are these timelines to expect results, these inbound marketing efforts keep delivering results even beyond these timelines. Unlike outbound/traditional methods of marketing, e.g. a print catalogue, a well-written and useful blog post could still bring you leads years from now. Digital content keeps giving returns over time, driving traffic, raising awareness of your brand and establishing your leadership in your domain.

Therefore, inbound marketing expenses should be considered great investments that will continue to yield results long after you’ve initiated the effort.

The Characteristic Inbound Journey

The Instant Impact: Immediately after implementing an inbound campaign, there is a lot of vigorous activity. Websites are enhanced, SEO methods implemented, content updated, social media presence improved, and so on.

There is a direct effect of these activities: In the immediate future, maybe within a month or two, you might see a rise in the number of leads. This is a temporary ‘bulge’, which will invariably subside and settle into a flat lull in activity.

The Relationship-building Period: This lull should not be taken as a negative sign to mean that the inbound initiatives are not working anymore. In fact, this phase is the critical (and ultimately rewarding) relationship-building phase. According to research, the average lead needs to be approached with offers or other communication about 7 times before they learn to trust the service provider. It is during this long period (about 6-9 months), that a long-term relationship with the lead is formed, ultimately bringing in rich ROI. That’s why, this period is especially critical to get through in a positive frame of mind, without losing patience.

Conclusion: To cut a long story short, inbound marketing is a brilliant methodology for getting more customers and closing more sales in a sustained manner. However, one has to be patient and treat it as a long-term investment that will, over a period of time, generate leads, convert them to customers and raise your ROI, all in a cost-effective way, for the long run.

To know more about inbound marketing and how it has helped thousands of businesses attract customers, generate revenue and build brand value, contact us at www.digitant.com.

5 Ways to Hold your Readers’ Attention on your Blog!

 

blog-readers-attention

So you’re revamping your business blog as part of a spanking new inbound marketing strategy. You want to share all the great insights that you have about your business with other stakeholders and your customers, so that you’re seen as a credible and reliable thought leader in your business domain.

For this, you need to have a really focused and informative business blog that answers your potential customers’ queries and educates them about your business, so that they can approach you with their requirements.

  • How do you make your blog stand out from the millions of others out there in cyberspace?
  • In a world of shrinking attention spans, how do you keep your reader’s attention on the blog long enough for him/her to make a connection?

Here is how you do it:

  • Write for a Purpose: Remember the most important part of writing – the reader! While you may be tempted to write about something that you would like to read, it may not be what your target audience wants to read about. Think like your target readers – your customers – and automatically your writing will become relevant and interesting to them. Your reader will want to stay and read the entire article, if it can:
    1. Solve their nagging issues.
    2. Introduce a product/technique/service that will make life easier for them.
    3. Simplify a complex concept for them.
    4. In any other way, find solutions for your prospective clients using your expertise and knowledge.
  • Make it pop: You may love talking about your business and how it helps people, but if you drone on and on about it, spewing data and statistics, very soon your reader will mentally switch off and bounce away from your blog to somewhere else more interesting.
    1. Keep your content focused on the reader/customer.
    2. Make it interesting by keeping sentences short and inserting plenty of white space in the article.
    3. Describe technical jargon in simple language.
    4. Include anecdotes and real-life examples, if possible.
    5. In short, engage the audience with crisp and clear content.
  • Steer clear of click bait: Publishers use provocative and sensational headlines to grab eyeballs, purely for revenue-generation purposes. You, as a serious content creator, cannot risk your reputation by resorting to such tactics. If a potential customer comes to your blog enticed by a vague but promising headline, and reads on to discover that the rest of the blog doesn’t really live up to the headline, he will feel cheated and angry, and may leave the site, perhaps never to return. Avoid this situation and write sensible content that drives genuine interest.
  • Make your blog mobile friendly: The world over, internet users are increasingly accessing online content on their mobile phones and tablets as compared to on their laptops or desktops. Hence it is highly important that your blog is optimized to fit nicely in your reader’s tiny mobile screen. If she has to pinch and zoom to read the miniscule print of your desktop-based content on her phone, she’ll quickly lose interest and bounce off the blog.
  • Boost the speed: Research has shown that most people wait for about 3 seconds for a web page to load. Any slower, and chances are that they lose patience and leave the site. Therefore, ensure that your website is a quick-loading one by eliminating all the factors that cause it to slow down. Read more about this here.

So there you have it.

Remember to employ these tactics when you are creating content for your business blog and see the hits piling up!

To learn more about how to use inbound marketing to attract and retain customers for your business, contact us today!

IS YOUR WEBSITE PRIMED FOR INBOUND MARKETING?

IS YOUR WEBSITE PRIMED FOR INBOUND MARKETING?

Just a few years ago, all you needed for a website to be a success was a striking design and remarkable content. Well – Breaking News! – not any more. According to HubSpot, the latest metrics for a great website – one that ranks high in searches, and one that can be used most effectively in an inbound marketing strategy are as follows:

  1. Strong performance
  2. Mobile optimization
  3. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  4. SSL security enablement
  1. Strong Performance:
    Website performance can be explained using a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo, but to put it simply, it is the measure of how quickly a visitor is able to see the content on your website. Research suggests that the ideal load time for a website should be 3 seconds or lesser; any longer and the visitor will bounce away to another website. Even if they do linger at your website and wait for the page to load, they will be left with a negative impression of your business, resulting in a direct loss for your business. HubSpot research indicates that nearly 80% of shoppers who have a negative experience with a website are less likely to buy from that website.

How you can achieve it:

  1. One of the biggest culprits responsible for slow page loading is the size of images on your website. When you use photos, ensure that you pare down the image sizes and resolutions using efficient photo-editing software in order to speed up your page loading process.
  2. If your website has a lot of showy visual elements, try to reduce them a bit, because all the visual showiness is usually due to JavaScript and CSS code which can lead to slow loading speeds. Stunning design cannot win many customers if it takes forever to load. Strike the right balance between a great looks and a great performance.
  1. Mobile Optimization:
    All over the world, internet users are increasingly using their mobile phones to browse, read and make purchases online. In fact, in countries such as USA and China, the number of mobile internet users exceeds those who access the internet on their PCs. Hence it is a no-brainer that your website needs to be ‘optimized’ so that it reads and presents well on the small screens of iPhones or Android phones. You do not want your prospective customer to get turned off your website because she can’t read the minute script on your built-for-PC website.

Not only that, Google’s search algorithms look for mobile optimization, absence of which will affect your website’s search rankings.

How you can achieve it:

  1. By simplifying the content: Use bullet points, fewer navigation layers, larger, clearer CTAs, more easily accessible ‘Back’ and ‘Home’ buttons and simple icons.
  2. By incorporating location data
  3. By shortening and simplifying the checkout process
  1. Search Engine Optimization (SEO):
    Search Engine Optimization of your website primarily helps Google’s search engine to locate and rank your websitein its search rankings so that users can find you easily. A website with content optimized for search will be a magnet for potential customers who are looking for solutions that you might be able to provide.

How you can achieve it: By optimizing the following components:

  1. Page Titles: The description of your website as shown in your web browser tab.
  2. Heading Tags: The tags of primary and secondary headers on the website that tell your visitor what the site is about.
  3. Meta Descriptions: Short descriptions of your website that show up along with the search results.
  1. Security:
    With hackers getting more sophisticated and sneakier by the day, you have to do all you can to protect your website and your customers’ accounts from being compromised. Having adequate security on your website can make all the difference between a user deciding to entrust his information with you or not; in other words, not having a robust online security arrangement can cost you valuable customers.

How you can achieve it: Ensure that your website is set up using SSL (Secure Socket Layer) technology. This technology creates a “tunnel” between an internet user’s web browser and your website’s server. Information such as user’s name, email id, login id, etc. sent via this “tunnel” is protected and not privy to third parties. Display this security feature prominently on your website to reassure users about the level of security provided by your website.

Conclusion: The goal of this article is to drive home the point that these factors are critical to a website’s ‘performance’ and hence, its success. It will be interesting to see how many websites around the world are actually performing at their peak, according to these criteria, but that’s a story for another time.

For now, get cracking and use this blog post as a primer to getting your website up in top shape. Your website can be a major factor in any inbound marketing strategy that you formulate to attract and convert leads to customers. After all, your website is the online storefront of your business and its effectiveness can play a huge role in determining your bottom line.

If you have any questions about priming your website so that it works perfectly for an effective inbound strategy, contact us today at www.digitant.com

15 Best Ways On How To Source Content Online

15 Best Ways On How To Source Content Online

With the boom in the freelancer market it has become impeccably easy to source content online from a diverse range of medium and platforms. Whatever may be your requirement, from plant layouts to website designs or may it be blogs, with a little bit of effort and time you are sure to find the content that you had always been looking for. Here are top 15 ways on how to source your content online:

1. Online forums – The internet is loaded with forums where people ask and answer questions on a diverse field of issues. You can draw inspiration and motivation from such feed to come out with your own blog that you require.

2. Online social media groups – Groups are an important and most common feature offered by all the social media websites like Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Quora etc. A lot of discussions take place on these forums that helps you to have a look of your specific requirements.

3. People whom you follow on social media – Almost all the celebrities have a huge fan base on the social media with the exception of a few. You can have a look at their social media posts to draw inspiration or from other popular profiles that you follow.

4. Hashtags – Almost all the popular social media sites have made it easy to find popular tags by segregating them by hashtags. You may search these social media sites for hashtags that are similar to your needs to find information on them.

5. Slideshare – Slideshare has got several presentations and your are sure to find one that will be suitable to your need.

6. Videos on Youtube – Youtube is the most popular video hosting website. You can find videos on your area of interest that will help you in building your content.

7. Interviews – One to one communication is still considered the most ethical and efficient way of gathering information. Interviewing experts and professionals can help you in bringing up your content.

8. Surveys – Make use of SurveyMonkey and Google forms to conduct a survey and based on the results come out with your content.

9. Website – If you have your own website you can get ideas from the comments sections of your website. The suggestions and feedback will give you your next content.

10. Competitor’s website and forums – You can hover through it to find out inspiration or frame your own requirement. Having a look at Q&A will help you in getting it all started.

11. Using analytics – Making use of the analytics tool of your website you could collate on the most popular attraction of your site and build content on it.

12. Google suggestions – Having a look at Google’s search engines could give you an idea of what people are looking for and thus your new content.

13. Controversies – They are known to drive traffic, so what is stopping you. Pick up hot topics and build your content on it.

14. Industry statistics – Nielsen and Emarketer like platforms have industry statistics that can be used to build content on.

15. Noting your ideas – A creative mind can give rise to an appealing and wonderful content. Note down your ideas and connect the dots to build content around them.

The original article was published on Startup Simba.

If you want to submit startup story, PR, guest post, blogs, articles, event announcement, write to anirban.g@startupsimba.com.

4 Cost Effective Marketing Strategies Every Startup Should Be Aware Of

4 Cost Effective Marketing Strategies Every Startup Should Be Aware Of

For the success of any company there needs to be a dedicated and effective marketing strategy. With the transition from print only and Television only marketing channels, the advent of Internet-of-Things (IoT) has opened up varied avenues for marketing and promotion activities. Most emerging startups are growing the services sector and have much in relation to the online segment. As such, it becomes important to have a social media marketing spend to size up your presence and reach.
Here are a few cost effective marketing strategies that startups can immediately concentrate:

1. Building a partnership

Forging a partnership with other businesses can help you grow your business. Customer loyalty is something that is very difficult to achieve in the initial days when you are building up your brand or company. Building up a partnership with established businesses in your field can help you earn loyal customers that they have. People are extremely receptive about recommendations that they receive from businesses that they are loyal to and have trust in. You can use this to your advantage by developing a long standing and healthy relationship with other businesses.

Tie ups can also help your company to scale up. A well-known startup Uber, a cab-hailing platform, has been partnering with many food outlets, merchandise stores and dining restaurants to offer discounted rides to and from the location of these outlets. This helps both the partners in taking advantage of each other’s customers.

2. Making way for reviews

While direct customer interaction does help a company in reaching out to the potential customers, it does not do much in converting them to your customers. What it lacks is the unbiased and credibility that a person needs to earn trust. Reviews are one way in which this issue can be addressed. We are all aware of bloggers and writers providing reviews of popular destinations and products. Your company must try to provide a platform where the customers and clients can post their reviews. This will also help you in getting feedback and addressing the issues that must be arising.

3. Start writing blogs

Offering tips and tricks on things that are related to your business through blogs can also prove to be a great marketing strategy. For example, if you are a company that manufactures hair dryers, you can post blogs on easy to do tips to get the right kind of hair. In between the blogs you could mention about your products as tools to achieve the mentioned styles. This is really easy to do as you can find content or hire content writers online to provide you with blogs on the topics of your requirement.

Networking is the most popular cost effective marketing strategy. Meeting people at business forums and telling them about your products would hardly cost you anything but may land you up with helpful backers. Social media platforms like LinkedIn are dedicated towards networking. You can connect with anyone whom you may have heard or have met. You can then start promoting your startup and build your brand through it. Making a group page or joining a local business group can help you boost the reach of your company.

The last thing about networking is that it has to be professional. You should talk about your company to the people whom you meet. Be it a social gathering or a football match, carry your business card around and have a talk with them about the work that your company does. This will help you in increasing your customers.

These methods are easy to start with to build up on your startup and scaling it up in the most cost effective way.

The original article was published on Startup Simba.

If you want to submit startup story, PR, guest post, blogs, articles, event announcement, write to anirban.g@startupsimba.com.

Jio to pull plug sooner than expected

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries’ welcome offer of free voice calls and data on its recently-launched Jio mobile phone service will be available till December 31 only for those users who buy the subscription by December 3.

India’s richest man had stormed his way into the telecom sector last month, announcing a Jio Welcome Offer beginning on September 4. The sector regulator TRAI in an order said that as per regulations, the free services by Jio will be limited to 90 days, which ends on December 3.

The revised offer of free services by Reliance Jio has been limited to 90 days i.e. December 3, 2016, and, therefore, is consistent with the guidelines on promotional offers, TRAI said in an order.

When contacted, a Jio spokesperson said that the Jio Welcome Offer or JWO benefits of free unlimited voice and data will be available to all subscribers up to December 31, 2016. However, the JWO will be available to new consumers for subscription till December 3, 2016, the spokesperson said.

He said that consumers who have not subscribed to services by December 3 will be able to subscribe to new offers as well as tariff plans that are available from Jio. Jio will continue offering consumer-friendly plans to enhance data and voice experience of all consumers, he added.

Ambani, while announcing the launch on September 1, had said that voice calling on Jio will be free for life and data would be charged at rock-bottom rates after the welcome offer ends. After the TRAI order, the company did not indicate the tariffs to be charged to users taking services after December 4. Incumbent operators like Bharti Airtel and Vodafone, along with industry body COAI, had approached the regulator against the new entrant’s scheme of offering free calls and unlimited data access to consumers till December 31, 2016. They had also complained that given the free data offer, a “tsunami” of “asymmetric” traffic originating from the Reliance Jio network was coming to their networks, leading to an increased number of call drops.

However, the regulator said the submissions made have been examined and “it is found that the tariff plans filed with TRAI cannot be considered as IUC non-complaint, predatory and discriminatory, at present.” It added that the Authority would continue to keep a close watch on the tariffs being offered in the market by all players, including Reliance Jio.

7 BIGGEST MISTAKES OF EMAIL MARKETING – WHAT NOT TO DO

7 Biggest Mistakes of Email Marketing – What Not to do

Email marketing has been around for some time now. Almost any business worth its salt engages in email marketing to drive engagement with existing customers, draw in new customers and retain them for continued business. Yet, it is surprising how many email marketers get it wrong!

Yes, it is possible to do email marketing all wrong. Especially in the way email strategy is crafted, we would like to share what we’ve learned not to do: some the hard way (by making those gaffes ourselves) and some the smart way (by learning from others’ mistakes). Here are seven cardinal sins not to commit in the Eden of email marketing.

  1. Blandly describing your product:

“Sell benefits, not features” is an oft-repeated mantra in marketing. What it boils down to is this: don’t put the reader to sleep by droning on about your product’s features. He doesn’t care about them. Show him how they will make life easier for him/ increase traffic in his store/ boost the bottom line of his business. By focusing on how you can add value to your customer’s life, you increase the chances of him buying your product.

  1. Asking for too many “actions”:

Your intention might be good: you want to give the subscriber as many options as possible for the action to be taken – she could download an eBook, ask for a free consultation, and register for a webinar. But, unfortunately, having too many calls to action on a single email will confuse the reader. And a confused reader is not very likely to click on a call to action, is she? To increase your chances of having her click on the CTA, keep it down to one CTA per email. For other actions, craft separate emails. (Yes, it is hard work, but it works better!)

  1. Not caring why someone unsubscribes:

If your boyfriend/girlfriend broke up with you, wouldn’t you at least want to know why? It’s kind of the same when a subscriber unsubscribes from your mailing list (Ok, maybe it’s not exactly the same, but you get the point, right?). Have a field for the reason for unsubscribing. Most of the time, you might get the real reasons why your email didn’t work for your (un)subscriber. And Bang! You have ideas for improvement!

  1. Ignoring A/B testing:

No matter how perfect you think your email is, chances are, you can have a better version of it. Testing two great versions of your email will give you crucial insights on what works better and why. Ignore A/B testing for emails at your own risk!

  1. Not personalising your emails:

How irritating would it be to receive a chain of emails promoting something that is not relevant to you, AT ALL? Believe it or not, almost 50% of email marketers make this mistake of not correctly segmenting their subscriber lists! It’s not rocket science: it can be as simple as asking for relevant details in the sign-up form, or, making educated guesses from past online behaviours. It will be worth it.

  1. Forgetting to respond:

I can’t think of a bigger turn-off for the subscriber than this. If, after sending email after email to your potential customer, you finally get a response – a question about your service, a complaint even – and (horror of horrors!) you don’t do anything about it, it is like you’re saying, “I just sent the email. Now I don’t care about you.” Almost a guaranteed way of having the reader unsubscribe from your mailing list.

Instead, whatever it is, respond to your subscriber, if not immediately, at least within a reasonable time duration and address their concern.

  1. Flooding the inbox:

It’s always a good idea to ask how often your reader would like to receive emails: give them options and let them choose. That way, you’ll not be making the blunder of sending too many or too few emails.
So there you are, go ahead and create your brilliant emails and use your best strategies so that they reach the right group of people and generate interest, and ultimately, revenue for you!

Oh, and before I forget, do remember to optimize your email content and design for mobile. A current Pew & Nielsen report suggests that over 75% of smartphone users check their emails frequently on their devices. So be sure to give them a good mobile experience.

Before I sign off, I’d like to know if you have had any email marketing challenges, and how you solved them.

For any queries, contact us at www.digitant.com

Why Tech Companies Should Switch To Inbound Marketing

Why Tech Companies Should Switch To Inbound Marketing

My friend often says, “I love technology – you can sell it to anyone.” Technology has, over the past two decades, become the backbone of every industry, from agriculture to energy, from manufacturing to retail and from consumer goods to financial services. And therein lies the problem.

Technology product and services companies today are suffering from a lack of direction and are adopting a random spray and pray approach to the market. These companies build up huge databases of more than 100,000 email addresses whom they routinely bombard with promotional messages that offer little returns. Neither are these email address opted-in (and so have not granted permission), nor are they effective (because they would just ignore your message). Given that the world is an oyster for tech companies, they need to focus more on a specific target segment or risk losing all of them.

I was once traveling in Africa and chanced upon a lioness that snuck into a herd of zebras at a watering hole. The lioness was beside itself with joy and attacked one of the zebras. As that astute zebra slipped away, the lioness chose to attack another zebra instead of following the first one. The second zebra slipped away too, at which point the lioness tried pouncing on a third one. This process repeated until the lioness tried and failed at catching any of the six zebras that were close to her. This is the plight of IT companies today.

“If you can’t know all your customers, let all of them know you.”

This is one of the fundamental principles on which we at Digitant operate, and is one of the pillars of inbound marketing.

The number of customers that a tech company could approach is massive. However, the number of channels that these customers use to find a vendor is very finite. By adopting the inbound marketing approach, tech companies can convert the large problem of reaching a huge market into a smaller problem of being present in a few channels. These channels vary based on the stage of the funnel that you target.

For lead generation, the primary channels are search and social. By being found on search engines and by leveraging social media to give your brand a voice, you are effectively conversing with a sizeable segment of your target audience.

Once you generate leads from these channels, then you need to nurture them. Here email plays an important role. This is not the kind of email marketing where you blast an email to 100,000 unsolicited email addresses, but a drip workflow that tailors messages to opted-in email addresses and pushes them along the buyer journey. When the lead has been nurtured enough, you can pass the lead onto the sales team, through your CRM, who will strike when the iron is hot.

So what do you need to get started with inbound marketing.

1. A kickass website

Your website needs to informative and yet persuasive. Visitors should get enough value from your website to be interested in you and then know how to talk to you.

Resources required:

  • Part-time developer and designer
  • A tool to create landing pages, forms and CTA
  • An analytics tool to figure out what’s working
  • A creative copywriter who understands your business deeply

2. Discoverability on search engines

About 40% of traffic to the websites of tech companies comes from search. Further, this traffic has immense potential because visitors have already exhibited purchase intent by searching for keywords related to your business. You are simply available to them like a Coke machine in a desert.

Resources required:

  • Part-time SEO specialist
  • A list of keywords to be targeted
  • A tool to optimize your website and your blog for these keywords
  • A list of target websites where you want your website’s link to be referred back from
  • A content writer who can write blogs around these keywords

3. A voice on social media

While social media can support your marketing efforts at various stages of the purchase journey, it is most effective at building your brand and generating leads as a by-product.

Resources required:

  • Part-time social media specialist
  • A list of Twitter influencers whom you need to convert into advocates
  • A list of relevant bloggers and publishers whom you can leverage for promoting your thought leadership articles
  • A list of forums such as LinkedIn Groups and Quora where you can participate in ongoing conversations
  • A social media calendar for you to post curated and original content

4. A lead nurturing program

The lead nurturing program is to convert your cold leads into hot leads. Visitors have given you permission to approach them by leaving their contact information with you. Use that information not to cold call and lose their interest, but to build up their interest.

Resources required:

  • Part-time email marketing specialist
  • A tool for creating drip campaigns
  • A tool for creating landing pages, forms and CTA (already mentioned above)
  • An email service provider
  • A newsletter theme (which can be fulfilled by the social media specialist)
  • Lead scoring (should be available with the drip campaign tool)
  • CRM (for your sales team)
  • Email writer (which can be fulfilled by the content writer)

5. A content backbone

As you have seen, content is integral to every aspect of inbound marketing. Without content, you cannot have a website, nor can you be found on search engines, nor can you promote yourself through social and email channels, and most importantly, cannot maintain your blog. It is essential for an inbound marketing program to have a savvy content writer who understands the business.

6. Learn and repeat process

Finally, you need someone to manage the entire process in parallel tracks, evaluate the most effective activities, and experiment with new initiatives.

Resources required:

  • Part-time marketing manager
  • Analytics tools (already mentioned above)
  • Project Management tool

Conclusion

To summarize, here is a list of all resources required for your inbound marketing program:

People:

  • Part-time marketing manager
  • Part-time SEO specialist
  • Part-time social media specialist
  • Part-time email specialist
  • Part-time developer and designer
  • Full-time content writer

The reason I emphasize on part-time resources is because most B2B companies do not have the volume or the need for full-time resources. Yes, if you are IBM you probably have an army of each of them sitting in your office. But if you are an SMB or a mid-market tech company, then you probably do not need full-time resources.

Tools:

  • Create landing pages, forms and CTA
  • Market intelligence (competitors, industry, customers, suppliers, influencers and partners)
  • Keyword optimization
  • Drip campaigns
  • Newsletter
  • Analytics
  • Project management
  • Lead scoring
  • CRM

You could either look at different tools for each of these activities and then integrate them, or get a consolidated “marketing automation” tool such as HubSpot that rolls all the activities into one platform.