Inbound and outbound: an integrated marketing plan

Outbound and inbound marketing work togetherThere are many small businesses that aren’t completely ready to let go of some of the traditional marketing techniques they’re used to. We’re okay with that. We understand that a nice mix of outbound and inbound can make for a successful marketing plan. The only thing we ask in return is a compromise on your part.

No, inbound marketing is not all you need, but it’s a lot of what you need. That’s because the majority of people today go online to research a company, get a product review, and learn more about a business. If you haven’t flooded this space with your presence, you need to start now.

That’s not to say you can’t also have a nice company brochure and some print collateral (traditional) or attend a couple of trade shows (also traditional). In fact, if you do attend a trade show or two, you’ll need something to hand out. The trick is getting your collateral in the hands of interested buyers and making sure your web and social media presence are printed on these pieces. You can use print to drive people online, to sign up for your newsletter, follow along on Twitter and Facebook, or read even more about a particular topic.

These are just some of the ways outbound and inbound can be integrated and work together. Just remember that once your prospects are on your website and following you on social media, they need something new to look at and read on a regular basis. That means regular blog posts, Facebook shares, and Twitter conversations. It also means monitoring those spaces for feedback, questions, or comments from fans.

Sounds overwhelming? You can always turn to a content marketing agency like us to help you through it.

Meetings: the good, the bad, the ugly

Meetings: the good, the bad, the uglyAlthough some meetings are necessary, I’m just not a big fan. They interrupt what you’re doing, and in some cases, it’s hard to get motivated to start a project because you know you’ll soon be stopping it to attend a meeting.

I’m the type of person who likes to get things done. I like seeing results and crossing items off my to-do list each day. What I’m not a huge fan of is discussing how those things are going to get done in an hour-long meeting. Office discussions, touching base, going over projects—all great. Formalizing a meeting for these things results in off-topic conversations and wasted time. For the everyday work life, most meetings are just not needed.

Those are feelings I share with 37signals creator Jason Fried. He talks about this topic regularly and has written about it—among other things—in his book, Rework. It’s a refreshing, modern take on things. Take a look at this interview he did back in 2009. Very cutting edge.

In another of his famous talks, Fried discusses why creative types need hours of uninterrupted time to get work done. It’s brilliant.

Yes, some meetings are needed to close a deal, grow a business, or communicate with customers. But others—the ones where your creativity is halted, time is wasted, and productivity suffers—just are not.

Statistics from the 2011 Social Media Marketing Report

Download the social media marketing reportLast week Michael Stelzner, with Social Media Examiner, released the 2011 social media marketing industry report. In it he shares information about how companies are using social media for their business, what tools they plan on using more than others in 2011, and how they have benefited from social media.

He and his team surveyed 3,300 businesses to get the results for this report. I wanted to point out some of the statistics I found to be insightful, but I encourage you to download the full detailed report. The information it provides could answer some of your own social media questions and help you plan out a social media marketing campaign for 2011.

What’s the time commitment for social media?

  • 58% of marketers surveyed are using social media for six hours or more each week
  • 34% are using it for 11 or more hours weekly
  • 47% of marketers who have more than three years experience in social media spend at least 16 hours per week using it

Age matters

  • The younger the marketer, the more time he or she spends using social media
  • People aged 20 to 29 years old spend more time than other age groups using social media—with 41% spending 11 or more hours weekly

The top five benefits of social media

  • Generated exposure for the business (88%)
  • Increased traffic to website and/or subscribers (72%)
  • Improved SEO ranking (62%)
  • Resulted in new business partnerships (56%)
  • Generated qualified leads (51%)

 

We’re Still a WordPress Website Provider

WordPress website developerSimplified Solutions has been in the business of building WordPress sites for quite some time now. Since The Content Squad came to be, that hasn’t been as big of a priority for us because our business model changed directions a bit. Even though we haven’t promoted this service in a while, we still want people to know of Simplified Solutions as a WordPress website provider.

The way we go about delivering and launching websites is a bit different now, too—but in a good way! We’re able to more efficiently launch sites and hand you the reins because our designer has devoted 100 percent of his time to this service. This service, by the way, includes a customized WordPress theme, social media set-up, and email marketing set up and integration.

Once your website is launched, we’ll help you get going and understand some basic details before we completely hand over the keys. It’s not for the serious inbound marketer, but it helps small businesses establish an online presence and effectively marketing their company.

We’d love to start a conversation and give you more details. In the meantime, check out our new portfolio page.

An Email Marketing Checklist

Email marketing checklistTwo weeks ago we sent out our first newsletter in about a year. We won’t get into the reasons why it took so long to get back into the game, but we will say that we’re happy to be back!

We were expecting unsubscribes and non-engaged readers. We had some, but for the most part, we’re happy with the results from our last two newsletters. Now for the challenge going forward: improve our open and click rates, provide information each week that readers are eager to receive, and gain new subscribers in the process.

How does one go about doing this? As I was brushing up on my email marketing skills, I came across this article from Small Business Computing. Although there are thousands of email help articles on the web, this one speaks to our—and hopefully your—small business. The full article goes into detail, but on the surface they suggest:

  1. Integrate email marketing with social media
  2. Make email campaigns viewable on mobile phones
  3. Engage readers by having conversations and inviting them to participate in the discussion
  4. Keep content brief and focused
  5. Don’t overdo on images or design
  6. Track campaigns to determine what’s working and what’s not

Email is essential. We’re committed to making our newsletter something people look forward to getting each week and we’d love for you to subscribe. If your small business needs help starting an email marketing campaign or implementing some of the tips listed above, we can help you build a list from the ground up and start seeing the results from this powerful tool.

Tying it all together with email

Email is part of the overall strategy Hubspot tweeted a pretty interesting blog post the other day about using email to drive organic traffic to websites. There’s several reasons why I dig this concept:

1. It’s a way to tie all of your media together
No matter how many followers you have on Twitter or fans you have on Facebook, your most engaged audience are those who subscribe to your newsletter. You should be blogging at least once a week, sharing information through social media daily, and responding to comments as they come. A monthly newsletter helps tie all of those efforts together by linking to your blog, sharing information about your social media accounts, and producing exclusive content for your newsletter subscribers.

2. As an inbound marketing agency, it’s another way we’re helping our customers see results
We’ve just started newsletter campaigns for our clients. The more we promote their upcoming newsletter, the more subscribers they get. The more we promote their blogs in the newsletter, the more page views they’re seeing. This is exciting stuff and it helps them view email as part of their overall inbound marketing strategy.

3. As we revamp our own newsletter, it’s one of the things we’ve already planned on doing
It’s been a long time since Simplified Solutions sent out a newsletter—too long. Yes we’ve been busy but that’s not really an excuse since most small businesses are busy. We’re actually going to send our first re-designed monthly newsletter this Saturday. We can’t wait to start sending out content again and tracking our results. If you’re interested, you can subscribe here. We’d love to have you on board!

So tell us, is email part of your overall inbound marketing strategy? If it isn’t but you’d like it to be, we’d love to help.