iMarket Solutions Blog : Archive for the ‘Lead Generation’ Category

Enhance Your Facebook Business Page

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Facebook has over 250 million users, 52 percent of which use it daily. And it is no longer just for the youth audience, the 35 and older demographic now represents more than 30 percent of users. That means using Facebook to promote your business is becoming a more and more effective way to reach potential customers. To help you build a stronger presence on Facebook, iMarket is offering an enhanced Facebook business profile.

With this new service, we will design a full banner and a landing page (like the one here) which entices people to “like” your business page. This is a great place to offer incentives, such as a special discount for Facebook fans, which will convince people to want to connect with you on Facebook. After the person has “liked” your business, a special Welcome page will display for them.  From the landing page, your welcome page, and a contact tab under your banner, your visitors will be able to access an integrated contact form so they can email you right from Facebook! All of these features will be designed to match your website and increase brand awareness of your business.

Why get this service? The new landing page is much more effective at converting visitors into “likers.” And the more people that “like” your page, the more people your posts will reach.  Social media is an excellent form of word-of-mouth marketing, which allows new customers to hear about you through their friends. There is the added benefit of allowing these potential customers to get to know your company through your posts and be able to contact you instantly.

Social media marketing can be very powerful, but you need to utilize it effectively.  Since most companies today are embracing social media, an enhanced Facebook presence will put your business ahead of the crowd. Combined with our content management package, in which blogs posts are sent out to your Facebook page three times a week, you will establish yourself as a knowledgeable resource for your customers. For more information, contact us today!

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iMarket Live Chat

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

You know that many people use search engines to find local businesses, which is why having a website for your company is so important. But what is the best way to utilize your site to turn searchers into customers? iMarket has a great solution for you: Live Chat. This service allows website owners to receive and respond to instant messages through their website to answer questions and receive service requests (check out the icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen!).

As soon as a visitor reaches your site, the Live Chat icon will appear. If a potential customer initiates a chat, an iMarket agent who has the details of you company will gather information from the customer (such as name, phone number, etc.) and send you an email about the lead. We can also connect the homeowner to someone at your business right from the Live Chat window.

Live Chat can increase the results from your online advertising an average of 35 percent, making your website an even larger part of your lead generation. The simple, easy interface allows customers who prefer not to talk over the phone to contact your business immediately.  Since the Live Chat is available 24/7, not just during business hours, your website will always be able to reach potential customers.  This could be the crucial difference that makes a person choose your company over one of your competitors.

The best part of Live Chat? You only pay for the leads you receive. Check out our Live Chat page for more information!

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Inbound Marketing: The Future of Marketing Part V: The Yellow Pages – Your Grandmother’s Inbound Marketing?

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

“Why are the Yellow Pages like nursing homes? They’re shockingly expensive, few people under 70 use them, and many who do are just a little out of it.”*

Ah, the Yellow Pages. The tried and true marketing stalwart.

After reading the last few blog posts, you might be saying, “Hey, wait a minute, Yellow Pages puts your business in front of people who are already looking for your products and services. Doesn’t that make the Yellow Pages ads a kind of inbound marketing?”

Yes, it does. It’s why the Yellow Pages used to be a pretty good source of leads. It is a search engine made out of paper.

But things are changing now. In 2008, the Internet surpassed the Yellow Pages and became the #1 source for information about local businesses. Back then, the two mediums were running pretty much neck-and-neck, but since then the gap has widened. It’s hard to get statistics on Yellow Pages usage, because of course the Yellow Pages wants to put as positive a spin as it can on its numbers. However, we can get a sense of where things are going from the September 2010 public filing of SuperPages (one of the largest Yellow Pages companies in the US): SuperPages’ revenue decreased 61.3% from 2009 to 2010.

Of course, this only tells you that fewer people are advertising in the Yellow Pages; it doesn’t tell you how often your potential customers are using the Yellow Pages to find you. In the absence of any useful statistics from the Yellow Pages itself, there are a couple of ways to get a feel for this.

First, ask people you know how often they use the Yellow Pages in general. If you ask your kids, they’ll probably say “never”. If you ask your mother or grandmother, she’ll probably tell you that she still uses it occasionally.

Then, start asking your recently-acquired customers if they used the Yellow Pages to find you. Remember to phrase the question carefully, though, because people may look up your number in the Yellow Pages because they heard about you some other way. If that’s the case, it’s not your expensive Yellow Pages display ad that generated the lead – some other form of advertising really made the sale for you.

Although Yellow Pages use is hard to ascertain, we do have some pretty good statistics about how many people use the internet to research local products and services. According to a recent BIA/Kelsey study, 97% of people use some kind of online media (search engines, social networks, etc) to check out a product before they buy it.

Coming back to our basic principle of inbound marketing – putting your message out in front of people who are actively engaged in looking for a product or service – we believe that these days the smart (marketing) money is on the Internet, not the Yellow Pages.

However, we recommend that you don’t completely forget the Yellow Pages. Some people (particularly older people or people in rural areas with poor internet connections) will still use the Yellow Pages to look up your number after they’ve heard good things about you via other channels, including the Internet.

Also, there is still a compelling reason for service companies to maintain a Yellow Pages listing: you need to make sure people can find you during an emergency, even if the power is out.

For this reason, we recommend that you maintain a simple line listing in the Yellow Pages – but that you don’t renew your display ad unless your survey of your customers provides clear evidence that it’s working for you.

Adopting an “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” attitude, the Yellow Pages are fighting back with their new YP.com website and mobile phone app. According to a recent article in USA today, 40 million people have downloaded the app so far. At iMarket, we’re keeping tabs on these developments and our strategy will continue to evolve to meet the changing online environment.

*This is a joke circulating around the internet, and it probably stems from a blog post made by Killian Branding at http://www.killianbranding.com/whitepapers/why-are-the-yellow-pages-like-nursing-homes/. The post makes some terrific additional points about Yellow Pages vs. Internet advertising that we didn’t have room to go into here.

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Inbound Marketing: The Future of Marketing Part IV: Maximizing Your Blog’s ROI

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Last week we claimed that blogging is an affordable way for non-professional marketers to enjoy some of the benefits of inbound marketing. This week, we’ll offer some statistics to back up our claim.

Here are some great numbers from the recent HubSpot survey of small business owners and marketing professionals:

  • Most businesses now have a blog – 65%. Businesses without a blog are now in the minority. Chances are, your competitors have a blog – and you should too.
  • 57% of companies using blogs reported that they acquired customers directly from their blog.
  • 55% of respondents said that the leads generated from their blog cost less than the average cost-per-lead for their business.
  • Respondents were more likely to say that blogs were a low-cost source of leads than any other marketing channel, inbound or outbound. If you only do one form of inbound marketing, a blog is the one to choose.

So how do you make a blog work for you? Once again, the statistics have the answer. If you walk away from this article with only one fact stuck in your mind, make it this one:

The more you post to your blog, the more likely it is to generate leads for you.

Fewer than half of survey respondents who posted to their blog once a month or less had acquired a customer through their blog, but 72% – nearly three-quarters! – of businesses that posted once a week had acquired at least one customer through their blogs. This number increased to 76% for respondents who posted 2-3 times a week, and to 89% for respondents who posted to their blogs more than once a day.

If you’re not posting to your blog at least once a week, you’re leaving a lot of leads on the table.

Looking at these statistics, we’ve concluded that for a small business owner who is writing his or her own blog posts, posting once a week hits the “sweet spot” for maximum ROI. If you post less often than that, your lead generation drops off significantly. If you post more often, you will probably get some increase in leads, but you have to invest several additional hours a week to do it, and the ROI might not be there.

However, if your company is larger and has more resources to devote to marketing, the more blog posts, the merrier. You should experiment until you find the “sweet spot” of ROI for your particular market.

(Of course, if no one in your company wants to write the blog posts, you can always hire professionals to write them for you. This is often the easiest and most affordable way to go – and it is usually the best way to be sure that your blog posts stay on schedule.)

Next week: The Yellow Pages – Your Grandmother’s Inbound Marketing?

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Inbound Marketing: The Future of Marketing Part III: Blogs: Inbound Marketing for Everybody

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Last week, we talked about how companies that do outbound marketing are like lions wandering the jungle hunting for elephants, while companies that do inbound marketing are like lions that cleverly wait by the watering hole where all the elephants come to drink.

Of course – to continue the analogy – there are a lot of different watering holes in the online jungle. You need to figure out which ones are worth staking out. You also need to have the right tools to catch your prey when it gets there.

In some cases, the methods for choosing the watering hole and catching the prey can be pretty high-tech and can’t be used by laypeople. You’ll definitely need professional help to use all these tools and run a complete and maximally-successful inbound marketing campaign.

(Some people find inbound marketing off-putting because it requires professional help to do it well. But if you think about it, you need a whole team of professionals – graphic designers, film crews, producers, printers, etc. – to do high-quality outbound marketing. The professional help you’ll need for inbound marketing is usually much less expensive.)

However, even if you can’t afford a professional inbound marketing campaign, there is still one cheap, easy way to lurk by the watering hole: blogging.

Why are blogs so great?

First of all, you can do them yourself. Blogging is the most “low tech” of all the inbound marketing channels. It does require a computer, but it doesn’t require you to purchase expensive software (many of the lower level, but perfectly adequate, blog systems are available free of charge) and it doesn’t require specialized skills. All you need to do to get results is set up a simple blog and post to it regularly.

Blogs are affordable because search engines love to include blog posts in their free results – i.e. if you write some good blog posts, the search engines take care of it from there. Search engines want to deliver accurate and up-to-date information to their users, and a nice fresh blog post fits the bill perfectly. A solid blog post will put your name – and your expertise – in front of people who are already interested in buying what you offer.

Second, well-written blog posts offer searchers what they want: information and tools to help them make a good purchasing decision. Of course, you have to make sure not to ruin the whole effect by giving a blatant sales pitch (the elephants won’t take a drink if the lion jumps out at them before they even get to the water). If your blog offers real information in a low-key way, consumers will start to trust you, and they’ll stick around and buy.

Next week, we’ll look at what the HubSpot survey revealed about optimizing your ROI from your blog.

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Inbound Marketing: The Future of Marketing Part II: Just How Cost-Effective Is Inbound Marketing?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Last week, we talked about outbound versus inbound marketing. Outbound marketing is the traditional marketing that pushes your message out to consumers via print and broadcast advertising, direct mail, unsolicited emails, telemarketing, trade shows, etc. Inbound marketing is online advertising that pulls consumers in when they are already searching for the products and services you offer.

Online marketing expert Brian Halligan, the guy who founded HubSpot and coined the term “inbound marketing”, has a useful analogy. Businesses are like lions hunting in the jungle for elephants. The lions can either wander around the jungle randomly, hoping to find an elephant, or they can hang out by the watering hole where all the elephants come to drink.

Hanging out by the watering hole has two advantages:

  • You use a lot less energy.
  • You’re sure to bag your prey.

In business speak, this translates to a single word: cost-effective.

Let’s look at some statistics taken from HubSpot’s recent survey of business owners and marketing professionals. These three basic statistics show just how cost-effective inbound marketing can be:

  • In 2011, businesses that spent more than 50% of their lead generation budget on outbound marketing had an average cost-per-lead of $373.
  • Businesses that spent more than 50% of their lead generation budget on inbound marketing had an average cost-per-lead of $143.
  • Businesses that focused their marketing efforts on inbound marketing had a 62% lower cost-per-lead than their outbound-focused competitors.

These results are impressive, but at iMarket we’ve exceeded them. iMarket’s “Domination Package” customers have a cost-per-lead of under $75 per lead.

How are we able to do this?

Outbound marketing is actually a very clumsy marketing strategy. You put your message out to everyone, in the hope that the small subset of people who are actively considering buying a product or service that you offer might be watching, reading, or listening at the time when your message is broadcast. The only way to be sure you’ll reach that small number of prospects is to spend a lot of money making sure your message is repeated in as many places, and as often, as possible.

With inbound marketing, you don’t need to broadcast your message everywhere; instead you make sure that it’s where that small group of actively-searching consumers will see it. At iMarket, we have proven strategies for putting your message right where it needs to be, keeping your marketing budget to a minimum.

Also, there’s another reason why the cost-per-lead is so low for inbound marketing. With print and broadcast media, you pay more for every set of eyes or ears that receives your message. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is digital. With inbound marketing, you create your message for a fixed cost that stays the same no matter how many people read or see it. The more people who see it and the more leads you get from it, the lower your cost-per-lead. (In business-school-speak, the marginal cost-per-customer-acquisition is extremely low for inbound marketing.)

HubSpot’s Halligan says that most marketers today spend 90% of their efforts on outbound marketing and 10% on inbound marketing, and he recommends that those ratios should flip. Based on our experience with inbound marketing, we second that recommendation!

Of course, most inbound marketing requires professional expertise to be really successful. But if you can’t afford professional marketing help, you can still reap many of the benefits of inbound marketing by posting regularly to your blog. That’s what we’ll talk about next week.

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iMarket Featured in Contractor Magazine’s Coverage of QSC CONNECT 2010

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

iMarket got some great press in the December 2010 issue of Contractor Magazine, a leading trade publication for mechanical contractors. We were featured in an article (“CONNECT 2010 Gives Contractors Insights into Business Planning, Social Media”) about the recent QSC CONNECT 2010 conference, where iMarket’s sessions on web design, online marketing, and social media contributed to an intensive few days of seminars and networking.

Contractor Magazine’s coverage focused particularly on the issues of social media and blogging, which are relatively new marketing channels – and which therefore can be challenging to the layperson. Contractor Magazine reported that the iMarket sessions helped contractors make sense of the brave new world of online marketing by highlighting the essentials: regular, frequent updates to website content, blog posts, and social media sites. Social media, iMarket presenters explained, is a great way to get more “mileage” out of website content by re-using it in a different channel. It’s also a fantastic source of free (!) leads. However, the article emphasized iMarket President Nadia Romeo’s warning that content posted to social media sites must be be sincere and personal, rather than “advertorial” or slickly sales-oriented.

Contractor Magazine reported that contractors at CONNECT 2010 were excited about the possibilities offered by blogs and social media, and that some who had blogs they’d allowed to lie dormant were inspired to start posting new content every week.

Contractor Magazine is a leading trade publication for mechanical contractors in the plumbing, heating, piping, and fire protection industries. Launched in 1954, it has grown to a monthly circulation of 50,000.
The online version of the article can be found at http://contractormag.com/news/connect-2010-1234/.

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How do I get Friends, Fans, and Followers?

Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

It’s simple. Ask.

And, keep in mind the old German saying: Fragen kostet nichts. It doesn’t cost anything to ask. It doesn’t cost anything to ask people to be your Facebook Fans. Or at least, it doesn’t have to cost very much.

Now, of course, because you’re a business, you’re not looking for Facebook Friends – those are for your personal profile. What you’re after is Fans (people who “Like” your Facebook Page) and, if you have a Twitter account, Followers for it.

There are all kinds of elaborate, even high-tech, strategies for increasing your Fans and Followers. We’ll talk about them next week, and you can implement some of them if you want. But start with the low-hanging fruit: use your existing channels of communication.

There are lots of ways your business already communicates with customers and prospects, such as:

  • Your company website
  • Yellow Pages advertising
  • Other print advertising (newspapers, etc)
  • Broadcast media (TV, radio)
  • Print or email newsletters
  • Sales brochures and business cards
  • Bills/invoices
  • Door hangers
  • Refrigerator magnets
  • The sides of your company trucks
  • Your dispatchers and techs, who talk to your customers every day…

You get the idea.

Use all these communication channels to let people know that your business is on Facebook and/or Twitter, and then simply ask people to connect with you.

Here’s how:

  • Add Facebook and/or Twitter icons to your email newsletters and to every page of your website, and ask your customers to become your Fans and Followers. Customers who are already online only need to click a few times to seal the deal. This is the most opportune time to make the request, because you’re asking them to do something easy. (Want some suggestions for how to do this? See the bottom right of our homepage, or scroll down to the bottom of this post. You can download Facebook and Twitter icons from the Help section of each website. Note that when you use the icons, you may not change the way they look.)
  • Get your own “vanity URL” for your Facebook Page (a personalized web address that contains the name of your business, i.e. http://www.facebook.com/cocacola). Then, publish your Facebook address everywhere you publish your company name – in all of the media listed above. Let people know that you’re out there on Facebook. When the moment is right, be more explicit about what you want – specifically ask people to visit your Facebook page and “Like” it.
  • A great moment for asking customers to connect to your Facebook page is right after they’ve indicated to you that they are happy with the work you’ve done. Say, “We’re glad you’re satisfied! The best way to thank us is to go online and become a Fan of our Facebook Page and tell your Friends about us.”

All these methods are easy and cheap. You make a simple addition to your website; when you use up your current supply of sales materials and invoice forms, you add your Facebook and Twitter information to them for the next print run; when you record your next TV or radio ad, you include your social media contact information in the script. Probably the most expensive change will be to paint your Facebook URL on the side of your trucks.

And of course your conversations with your customers are absolutely free – and those are by far the most effective way to increase your Friends, Fans, and Followers. So if you do nothing else, make sure you teach all your employees how to give your “please become a Fan of our Facebook page” spiel.

Of course, as the parent of any small child knows, sometimes asking is more effective when followed by an incentive. Next week we’ll talk about how to use incentives to increase your Friends, Fans, and Followers.



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