The Future of Lead Generation & Digital Marketing
On Monday, May 25, 2020 We had the honour of participating in the “Get Ready to Reopen” Webinar Series held by the City of Richmond Hill to speak on the current trends in marketing and sales with a specific focus on the future of lead generation & digital marketing.
Watch the full presentation below.
Feel free to use the chat box to send us questions. We'll have a Q and A session at the end, but by all means, if you have questions as we go through, throw them in there because it's best if we can address them right when they come up. I'll try to keep an eye on those as we go through as well. As mentioned, my name is Kevin Darcy. I'm the owner of a company called Think Fuel Marketing. Really, what we focus on is helping B to B technology companies grow through the use of inbound sales and inbound marketing. So today what we want to do is talk about lead generation and what that's going to look like and how that's going to change in light of all the incidences and the pandemic that we're going through right now and what things are going to look like on the other side of all this.
Today's agenda is going to focus first on what's the marketing and sales world look like lately. We get a lot of questions about that, how's website traffic's doing for people, how are sales trending for people right now? What's working, what's not? So we want to give you some insights into all of that, as well as what does that all mean? It'd be great to look at some of these fancy stats and charts and everything like that, but how can we turn those around and adjust our sales and marketing tactics accordingly going forward? The next one is a little section I like to call don't be an ostrich, and it's about not burying our heads in the sand and how we can position our companies and organizations to carry through and actually excel at the other side of all of this. The last part that we're going to take you through is what I call, do more but better.
What we want to do is focus on doing the marketing tactics and strategies that you may or may not already be doing inside of your organization, but how to take that a step up. I'm sure many people on this call have sat through different marketing presentations that talk about the right types of keywords to use and things to that effect. We can talk a little bit about that, but what we want to talk about a lot is that next step, how to take that next leap so that you can really set yourself apart. So without further ado, let's jump into it and let's talk a little bit about what marketing and sales has looked like lately.
Since COVID-19 hit, and we want to give you a little bit information on the stats of what we're going to be showing you here today. In the article that will get sent out afterwards, the slides, you'll have a link to the full article and the full survey and data set about this, but essentially it comes from HubSpot and it's data aggregated from over 70,000 of their customers globally. So mixture of people coming from B to B, B to C, and anywhere from solopreneurs up to enterprise accounts and everyone in between.
The data set includes weekly trends for core business activities so far in 2020. Really, the focus is on how they changed after March, 2020, when COVID became this life altering event for all of us. The chart set we're going to look at, they did pick the performance of that given strategy against pre COVID numbers, using weekly averages from beginning of January through March 9th, before all of this happened. They do not depict week over week percentage changes, so it's just a comparison to how they're trending to the overall averages. Because this data source from HubSpot's customer base, it reflects benchmarks for companies that invested already in online marketing and online presence. It uses inbound as a key part of their growth. So your traditional Main Street shop that maybe still relies on word of mouth and direct mail, and they're not really invested in digital growth, those types of numbers, those types of accounts, aren't really included in this source data.
With that being said, giving you a little background on this, let's check in on how sales is doing. The first one that we want to look at is how deals or opportunities or sales opportunities have trended over this time period. If we look at it, obviously when things kind of hit and became the worst, deal volumes or the amount of deals that companies were recording and creating inside of their CRM systems dropped drastically. There was a lot of unknown. There was a lot of what's going to happen. Are we going to have money to pull through this? So companies really kind of tightened up, deals got put on hold, and everybody was in damage control mode and survival mode as opposed to continuing to expand and grow. But what's promising to see is that, even though we're still below the pre COVID trendline that you see there, it's on the rise and steadily heading back upwards in the right direction for us.
When we look at these numbers and break them down by the size of companies, we'll see that, regardless of the size of the organization, that trends have been moving in the right way for everybody. Companies with over 200 employees are leading the pack, probably due to larger budgets and wanting to push through this type of stuff, more resources to do that. But everybody of all company sizes is reporting trends moving back into the right direction as well.
So now, if we look at the amount of deals, that first one was deals created, so how many people were willing to engage into a sales process. Now out of those, how many are actually closing? Again, what we're seeing here is that those numbers are trending back in the right direction regardless of company size. So while we're still not back to where we were in terms of sales and revenue, they are heading in the right direction, which is promising to see. They've been doing that for quite a little while here now. Then emails sent by sales people over this time. So these are your typical one-to-one emails, prospecting emails that your salespeople might be sending out saying, "Here's what we do. Here's what we have to offer you. Are you interested in having a conversation?" Things to that effect.
What we see here is that the volume of emails that they're sending out have really skyrocketed because they don't have as many deals or opportunities or open projects that they're working on. So they have more time on their hands. They're being pushed to meet quota numbers still, things to that effect. So they're sending out a lot more emails because they can't go knock on doors, they can't go sit in front of customers. But the clients that they're sending them to aren't really responding in a meaningful way. So we see that bottom purple line there showing us that, even though more and more going out, less and less of those aren't getting responses.
So what about the marketing side of things? How is marketing numbers trending? What's interesting here is for the most part, we're seeing a complete reversal when compared to sales. So if we look at marketing emails, so these might be things like your monthly newsletters or promotional opportunities that are going out, things like that, we're seeing numbers that are averaging around 30% higher than pre COVID. So about 30% more are going out and they're also have a staggeringly high open rate that's much higher than pre COVID numbers as well. So buyers are still researching and connecting with businesses at high levels. So this is kind of the exact opposite trend lines that we're seeing on those sales, the one to one side.
The next one that's really interesting and telling as well too, is conversations. What we mean by conversations are live chat, chat bots, Facebook Messenger, tools like that, that enable people on your website or your Facebook page to engage with you through through a chat widget on your site. Really, these conversation numbers are skyrocketing when we compare them to what they were before. Customer initiated chat conversations are over 30% higher than they were pre COVID.
The next one here about website traffic is really all about with the exception of two kind of lulls there, one around May 11th and one in the end of April there or the end of March, we're seeing traffic still hold strong and continuing to rise. So again, this goes back to indicating that buyers are still researching and engaging with people. It's just the sales side of it has been a little bit slower than we would typically like to see and that we'd normally see.
The last chart about where things are and how they're trending is around ad spend. These are ads from social media networks, Google ads, all those types of things. What's really beautiful about this is that, as you see here, a lot of companies are pulling back or even suspending completely what they're spending in those ads. That actually can create a really good opportunity for you to get into this space. We'll talk about that a little bit.
Now, if you're like me, you're probably not a big charts and fancy bar graphs kind of person. So at this point, you're probably asking yourselves, whoopty-do, what's this all mean? Well, couple of things. One, it shows us that buyers are actually still engaged. They're still interacting with our brands online. They're in that research phase now, as opposed to wanting to engage in a sales process. So that buying process has really slowed, but they're still there. There's still interest. Being able to communicate with those people is really important. Let's talk a little bit more about that.
Before we jump into those ideas, I just want to do a quick check to see if anyone has any questions or comments so far. Okay, well, let's keep going then.
So the first way that you can take this information and start to apply it to your own strategies is by adopting a more educational approach to your content. The increase in marketing email open rates suggests customers are looking to engage with us. Well, people still need to buy products. Marketing teams should be adapting their strategies to focus on learning and education instead of dialing up promotion of your products and services during the crisis. Focus on nurturing longterm relationships, identify where you can help them today without really asking you for much in return. The reason that we focused on this is it goes back to the concept of a journey that people go through when they're making a consideration for a purchase. Typically, we have a trigger event that causes us to want to change, and that might be a negative trigger, like a regulation change, like a lawsuit, like somebody leaving our organization, or it could be an opportunistic change where you have a chance to expand and take over a market. Maybe a competitor has gone out of business or something to that effect.
When people are going through that initial phase and when they go through the second phase of consideration where they're trying to evaluate whether the solution that you're offering is the right fit for them, whether it's going to bring the value that they're looking for and solve that challenge or opportunity that's in front of them, they're really looking to educate themselves. In those early stages where people are right now, we can tell they're at those two early stages because they're not engaging with sales people yet, people are looking to educate themselves on it and build a vision of their ideal scenario. So if we can be that source of information, that source of education for them, that they can start to mold their idea of a vision around, when they're ready to pull the trigger and are ready to start engaging with salespeople and enter into a buying process, they're going to remember us. We were the ones that helped them educate them, build a business case, and move things along.
The next way you can do this is by embracing what we call inbound sales. Inbound marketing has been a term that's been used for about a decade or so now. Inbound marketing is the concept of, we build great SEO. We build a great website, great content. We have information that people want to exchange their contact details for so we can get them into our nurture campaigns. It's about making people come to us when they're looking for information, not trying to interrupt them when they're not looking for us. The same can be said on the sales side. So on individual calls, we'd like to encourage sales teams to emphasize being helpful, consultative. We have to understand that certain factors like their budget, their willingness to enter a sales cycle at this time, their timelines, those are all out of our control right now.
We can't push people to close because we're not the driving factor in their lives right now or in their business right now. So when you have your salespeople working this, instead of just randomly cold calling your whole database or prospect emailing out to your whole database like what we saw those trends and those numbers earlier, is that use the knowledge of your customers industries to prioritize who your [inaudible 00:15:27] too. So industries who've been minimally impacted by those or by the events of COVID or those ones that are transforming quickly to meet these new challenges. So for instance, if you were a Shopify website expert and you helped companies set up easy to use online stores who've never had it before, this is a great way that you can start to reach out to any of your customers or your prospects about setting up an online store because everyone's looking to do things in that effect right now, so they can continue to carry on business.
Then the other areas that you want to prioritize your outreach to is industries where your solutions are particularly relevant to them at this time. So, as an example, we've got a number of customers who are in the managed IT services. When everybody was forced to work from home, all of a sudden, the need for secure remote access, secure cloud servers, all of these tools to protect against cyber security threats and cyber attacks, they became a much higher domain. So working with those types of companies was particularly relevant to wear their hat during this time.
Next one is upping your communication game. As we saw from those charts earlier, email's proving to be a really effective channel for customer communication. Marketing emails are experiencing particularly high open rates. On the flip side, the sales email engagement is showing some signs of recovery is pretty flat. So businesses should be mindful about not overloading their customers' inboxes right now, but if you can provide insightful, helpful, and relevant content that is reflective of where your targets are, by all means, start using email marketing as a much stronger tool. The other side to that, look at using things like live chat or Facebook Messenger to up your communication game with customers as well. Live chat's really exploding right now, as you saw earlier, and it's becoming more and more important for people as they're working from home, they don't have a phone number that you can easily reach them at, things to that effect.
The last one on this section is around pay per click advertisement, whether that's on Google, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, whatever it is. There's been a significant drop in advertising spends. What that tells us is that most businesses have paused or just suspended entirely their ad campaigns. So this is actually a huge opportunity for your company to enter into a much more affordable market. What do we mean by affordable market? If you're not familiar with how these ad platforms work, it's all an auction system. So if you take LinkedIn as an example, you go in and you target, I want CEOs of people in the insurance and financial industries within Canada in companies greater than 50 employees, essentially what you're doing at that point is LinkedIn is essentially having an auction for that audience. So you and anybody else who is trying to target that group of people, whoever's going to bid the most to get in front of them will get shown more often and first.
So in really competitive spaces it can drive your cost per click up to 40, 50 or $1100 a click, depending on how competitive your spaces are. What we're seeing now is that the overall or the average cost for clicks for a lot of keywords are coming down because people are less open to bidding on those keywords. So what you have to do is approach this with the idea of, is it the right move for our business? So for instance, if you have a dance school and you don't offer any kind of online dance classes, the chance of people wanting to find a dance class and send their kids or go themselves to it right now are pretty slim, so even though that those ads may be cheaper, doesn't mean you're going to get more clients because people still aren't looking for it. But if online ads work for your business, if there's something that you can use to build brand awareness, now might be a good time to look into them a little bit more because, like I said, your overall cost to launch these is going to come down.
Any questions on any of these four items? Okay, perfect. So let's move on to the second portion of ...
So let's move on to the second portion of today, which is the don't be an ostrich portion. Don't stick your head in the sand. And what I'd like to do is I'm going to throw these five brands up on the screen. And using the chat window, does anybody have any ideas of what these brands have in common?
Come on, don't be shy. Use the chat window. Any ideas?
Okay, well, we'll dive into it anyhow. The real answer is that they all invested heavily during downturns, recessions, times of uncertainty, and it actually accelerated them up to a position of status or a market leader. So Kellogg's, as an example, in the 1920s, Post cereal was actually the category leader in ready-to-eat cereal. During the Great Depression, Post cut back significantly on their advertising budgets and Kellogg's doubled down on theirs. And that was actually the same time that Kellogg's introduced Rice Krispies featuring Snap, Crackle, and Pop. Kellogg's profits grew 30% during the depression and the company became a category leader and it still is to today.
Toyota, if you remember 1973, 1975, there was a depression triggered by the energy crisis. So in 1973, the US government issued their first miles per gallon report in which Toyota Corolla was second only to the Honda Civic in fuel efficiency. Since Toyota was experiencing strong sales when the economic downturn hit, their temptation was to drop their ad budget, but they actually resisted that. The marketing teams fought back against that idea and by adhering to its longterm strategy, Toyota surpassed Volkswagen as the top imported car maker by 1976.
Pizza Hut, Taco Bell in the 1990-91 depression, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell took advantage of McDonald's decision to drop its advertisement budget. As a result, Pizza Hut increased its sales by 61% and Taco Bell grew by 40%. And during that time, McDonald's sales declined by 28%.
So I'm just showing you some more examples of how different companies over times have adapted to this. And then the last example here is Amazon. So during the great recession of 2008-2009, Amazon saw its sales actually grow by 28%. They continued to innovate. And during that time is when they brought out their new Kindle products, which helped grow their market share. And in a first effort on Christmas day in 2009, Amazon customers bought more eBooks than printed books. And as a result in the minds of customers, Amazon became an innovative company by introducing a lower cost alternative to cash wrap consumers. It was a place to go for people who struggled with this type of stuff who were looking for better ways to make their money go farther for events like Christmas during the recession.
So I mean obviously these are all brands with much larger marketing budgets than most organizations, but there's thousands of stories of small, medium-sized businesses doing exactly this as well. When your competitors are pulling back on their advertisement budget and we can look at data to see that customers are still looking to engage with brands, are still looking for the products and services that you have to offer, then that gives you an opportunity to start making some ground and some headway on them by improving your marketing budgets with them. Any questions on that so far?
Okay, terrific. So do more, but better. Like I said, I don't want today to be a marketing basics 101. By all means when we get to the Q and A session at the end, or as we go through these next few slides, if you have questions that relate to best practices around foundational marketing, feel free to use the chat window to throw them in there. We'd be happy to address those. But what we want to do is focus on how to go that next step. The marketing tactics and tools that great marketers and great marketing agencies tend to hide behind the curtain like it's the Wizard of Oz. So first one we want to talk about is how to rank better. So tips that you can do around search engine optimization to improve where you're showing up and being more competitive.
So the very first one that I'd like people to walk away with is that when you're going through your website and when you're trying to determine the best keywords that you want to rank for, the best search phrases that you think people are looking for when you want them to find your website. One of the most critical steps that I find a lot of people overlook is verifying the intent of what that phrase is or that search term. So what we mean by this is you may call your product, your service, your technology one thing, but is that what the market is actually searching for? Let me give you an example. We have a customer who works in industrial storage solutions. So everything from motorized material handling to secure cages, to evidence lockers, to lockers that you would put into athletic facilities for students and things like that to hang their materials in.
And when they wanted to improve their rankings around their lockers side of products, they wanted to focus on the phrase storage lockers because in their minds that's what people called it. That's what people are looking for. But that's not what the world is thinking of when they type storage lockers into Google. The vast majority of people, when you type in storage locker, if you're not looking for something that goes into your gym or a school or country club that you can put your bag in to while you're doing your exercises, you're looking for something like a self-store unit, a U-Haul storage, those types of places. So the intent of what they were trying to rank for didn't match. So they were never going to appear well in Google. Because in Google's mind, anyone searching for storage locker was looking for a physical space they could rent to store things not to buy a bank of lockers that went into a college athletic facility.
So to verify intent, what you want to do is open up a web browser, but open it up in an Incognito window or an in private browser window. Those are, if you're using Google Chrome, you can hit Control Shift N and it'll open up. In Microsoft Edge, I believe it's the same shortcut key as well. Either application, you can click on the little menu icon up in the top right and you'll see an option to open up an in private or an Incognito window. The reason that we suggest doing that is that those private browsing windows, they don't take into consideration any of your past history, the cookies that are on your computer, any of your login details or anything like that, all of which impact search results.
I could have somebody sitting here right beside me right now. We could both on our phones search for the exact same thing, and we could theoretically get different search results. And that's because Google knows what websites I've looked at before versus the other person. They know how I tend to phrase searches and things to that effect versus how they do it. And what ends up happening is it personalizes those results. So if you open that up in a private one or an Incognito one, it takes all of that out of the equation for you. So you open up one of those and you type in the keyword or the phrase that you want to optimize a page on your website for. And every page, every blog article, every piece of content on your website should have its own keyword. You don't want to have three pages all optimized for the same search term.
So when you type that into a private browser window, do the results show you your competitors and related information? If it does, then you have the right keyword in mind. And then now what you want to do is go through the process of optimizing your page for that keyword. If it doesn't pull up related information or competitors, if it pulls up completely unrelated stuff, then in Google's mind, that's not the intent of what people are searching for. And so you're going to have to go back to the drawing board and come up with new ideas for search terms and how to apply them. Any questions on that?
The next one we'll call the overlap test. And the overlap test is all about trying to figure out if two different key phrases or search terms are treated as the same term in Google's mind or not. So the idea behind this is that if you run a Google search for eco-friendly cleaning products, you're going to find you'll get pages that show up in your search result for green cleaning products and for environmentally-friendly cleaning products even though that's not the exact phrase you searched for. But to Google, those are related. They're basically the same in Google's mind. And in an event like that, you don't want to optimize two pages for an overlapping keyword like that. You just want to put your effort into one of them and then try to find a different keyword for the other page.
So to test this, again open up your Incognito window, search for your first version of a keyword, and then open up another tab and search for the second version of that keyword. Do the results look fairly different, meaning the pages and the companies that come up on them are they different between version A and version B? If so, great. Google looks at those keywords as being different. And then you can optimize two different pages on your website for those keywords. If there's a lot of overlap between them and by overlap we mean you see the same company, but on test A they're in position one and on test B they're in position three, but it's all the same companies more or less. If so, then you have an overlap and Google sees those two phrases as being the same. Does that makes sense? Does anyone have any questions?
Okay. So the next one, and this is becoming a more and more important one, and it's actually becoming one that we've seen more and more problems with on websites these days as well. And that's the speed of your site. So Google, they're very rarely this blunt and this clear when it comes to ranking factors that they use. But they were very clear in 2008 that site speed was a major fact to them, especially on mobile devices and that they were actually going to use your mobile site speed as a major driving factor. So how fast your site loads for somebody on their mobile device was a major influencing factor for them. So if you want to test your site and see what your speeds are like, there's a lot of tools out there. One I really like is called GTmetrix. The other one is if you just Google, Google PageSpeed Insights, that's another great tool for it as well.
And the next one here is... Well, first of all, this is my really sad attempt at having a little bit of a pun in here, but we're going to talk about backlinks. And backlinks are essentially links on other people's websites or other websites around the internet that point back to yours. And backlinks are important because they are essentially a vote of confidence from Google's perspective. But not all backlinks are good ones. And so there used to be this practice of what was called link farming, where companies would throw up webpages that just had page after page after page of links to just random businesses with no context and no meaning. They were just used to get backlinks. Google quickly caught on to this tactic and devalued those types of links. There's types of links that things like having your site listed on directories like Google Maps, like Apple Maps, Yelp, all of those types of directories, chamber of commerce, Better Business Bureau, all of those types of ones. And those are important and they carry some good weight with them.
You want to have your social media accounts link back to your website, but the really important... or the really next level to doing all of this is what's called the skyscraper model. And what this is, is this is about finding another blog article or a resource that ranks really, really well for a key phrase you want to rank for. So if you sold or if you had a... Let's think here. If you had managed IT services as an example, and part of your tool set was cyber security, you would want to find out who ranks really well for the phrase cyber security. And what page does that land you on for cyber security? Then what you want to do is turn around and write a better piece of content, a better blog or whatever it is about cyber security, something that's more informative, more helpful, longer format content, a complete guide to cyber security.
And then there's tools out there that will show you which other websites link to that competitive piece. So there's a product called SEMrush, which does that really well. But if you just Google backlink analysis, you'll see hundreds of tools that do it. And in those backlink tools, you put in your competitor's article, their URL, their link to their site, and they'll pull back everybody who links to that as an information source.
And then you start the process of identifying who is relevant and authoritative in that list of people who backlink. And you're going to start to reach out to them and ask them to replace the link on their website with yours, because your content's newer, more relevant, and it goes into more depth than the one that they're linking to. So it's going to be better for their audience.
And so in 2016, a company called Backlinko asked 160 websites to link to their post about Google's 200 ranking factors. And out of those 160 people that they tried this method on and that they went through, only 17 of those 160 websites actually made the change. And you might be thinking that's 17 backlinks. Well, is that really worth it? Is it worth a lot of effort? But those 17 were actually for very high authority websites. And I'll explain what authority is in just a moment. But because they carried such a strong authority that the organic search traffic that got directed to their website actually increased by 110% in only two weeks. So they're able to drive a lot more traffic by following this method.
And so what do we mean by an authoritative website? So Google looks at a variety of factors when it measures to your website. And they don't openly publish what they do. Companies spend a lot of money testing and researching to figure out what makes changes and what makes for better SEO rankings and things like that. And so, there's really three core elements that go into it. And there's all of these different ranking factors fall within these three core.
One is, and it's probably the least important, is the age of your website. And I say it's the least important because a site that has been up for 20 years and a site that's been up for five years in Google's mind, essentially have the same level of authority in terms of age. A site that's been up for 10 years versus a site that's been up for a month doesn't. So it's going to take a little bit of time before Google starts to give you credit for that. The other two categories are what you're doing on your own sites, your on-page SEO. So that's adding new content like blogs. It's been doing your keyword research and optimization like we talked about earlier.
Keyword research and optimization like we talked about earlier, it's about you growing the size, the value and the content and the frequency of information on your website. And then the third one is off page SEO and off page changes. And that's things like your backlinks. Those are elements of what other people are saying about you. So they could be review sites, they could be social media, they could be backlinks, a number of different things. And when you combine these three elements together, you come up with a domain authority score.
And the domain authority score is not something that Google explicitly uses, but it's an amalgamation of all the ranking factors to give you an idea of how well your site should rank. And so the higher, the domain authority score that a site has that links back to you. That's like having a more important vote of confidence if you will. All right? So if a friend refers you to another company or another organization, because they had a really good experience, that's going to mean more to you than if a complete stranger recommended you to another organization. So same kind of concept just in a digital realm. Any questions on those? I know that was a bit of a in the weeds type of one, but for people who are actively building backlinks right now as part of their web marketing presence, this can be a really effective tactic for you.
So we did receive one question. How could you select key phrases that compliment each other without overlapping?
Yeah, that's a great question. So I'm a very data driven marketer. I often start concepts with what I feel to be true, but then I'll validate them as a next step with data. So there are a lot of tools out there. So things like, Google's Keyword Planner tool, again, a program called SEMrush. There's lots out there where you can type in a keyword that you think people are looking for and it'll come back and it will tell you what the average monthly searches are in Canada or the U.S. or whatever location. And it will tell you if people are actually looking for this yes or no.
And then you do those steps earlier that we talked about to verify that it's the right intent. Those same tools will often show you related keywords as well. So it will start to give you an idea of where the overlap is or where not just overlap, but also keyword sets are similar, but don't overlap. So there's a lot of great tools out there that will guide you in helping you do the keyword research. And then if you want to find out if Google feels that they're overlapping words or not, you just do the test procedure that we talked about a couple of slides ago. Does that answer your question?
Yeah, it did. It did answer their question. Thank you.
Absolutely. So the next one I want to talk about is communicating better. So coming up with content tips and ideas for better marketing communication. So first example I want to give is, and have a little fun with here is some of my favorite email subject lines for marketing emails. You could even use these in some cases for one-to-one sales emails as well. So I thought I'd share probably about a half dozen of my favorite and why I liked them. So my favorite one from Groupon was, the best of Groupon deals that make us proud unlike our nephew, Steve, why do I like it? Because it just makes me laugh. And I mean, every time I read that, I still kind of truffle internally to myself. And when that came through, I can't help, but click that and open that up.
The next one down, I got Botox and this is what it looked like. It conveys a start of a story is why I love it, right? It's hooking me with some intrigue and stories whether they're used in marketing or sales are what sells. Because stories when told properly have an emotional hook and then lock you into a moment. So as an example, I always use this one when I talk about storytelling, is that probably not many among us have actually read little red riding hood recently. But I bet the vast majority of us on this phone or in this WebEx today could explain little red riding hood from start to finish. Right? You could tell us that story, even though it's probably been decades since you've read it.
And why? Because we heard that story when we were kids, we heard that growing up and when you're a kid and you hear about this big, bad Wolf and it eats grandma and it's threatening to you, red riding hood and all of these things, it made us scared, right? It created an emotional hook for us. And then when the Huntsman shows up and saves the day and frees everybody and kills the Wolf, we have this sense of relief and happiness and everything like that. And it follows the historically traditional story arc. And so stories are a great way of conveying your message and a great way of hooking people to your message. So that's why I liked the Botox one.
So good question came through here too was, don't sales messages and subject lines feel a little opportunistic or insensitive right now? Absolutely. That's a really good question and a really good point. When COVID first started changing our day to day lives and I think we all came together as a community, more so than we had in a long time. And I think initially when you first got those emails in that said, Hey, I hope this email finds you and your family safe and happy. And I understand that you probably got a million things on your mind. So you can put this aside until you have time. In the first couple of weeks though, we had a lot of value in those emails, right? They felt sincere and they probably were sincere at that time, but after about three weeks into it, people wanted to return to some semblance of normalcy, right?
So those messages served to feel a little bit more insincere when they came through and as always, I mean, as best practices, whether it's now when we're in the middle of COVID-19 or even pre COVID, we need to be sincere in our messaging. We need to be, [inaudible 00:49:36] to educate first, build a relationship and then worry about the sale next. So I've always been a fan of... You can be humorous, as you can see with a lot of these subject lines, you can be helpful, but specifically when it comes to events like this, don't try to force a message onto somebody. Don't try to force how an unrelated product is going to help somebody right now, if it really is not. So focus on being sincere and helping people. And again, depending on your marketing, your audience, comedy can definitely help with that. So, great question.
Couple of the other subject lines I liked their. One came through as, as you wish and yeah, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I loved The Princess Bride movie. It's a great movie. So how could I not click on that subject line when I see it? The one do not commit these Instagram atrocities. So again, if I'm an avid Instagram user, if I'm using it for business and this comes across, I'm going to open it up, because I want to make sure I'm not making these mistakes. The one there from Buffer when Buffer was hacked, a number years ago, their communication out to people was we've been hacked and hears what's going on. I like it because it was honest. It was to the point it was proactive. They weren't waiting for thousands of people to bang down their door, angry, trying to find out what's going on with their personal data. They owned the situation, they got to the point quickly and they explained what was going to happen.
And then the last one there can be helpful, again if it's the right time and the right opportunity where if you have an E-commerce site and you've set up your sites so that it has what we call like a card abandonment trigger. So if you've added items to your cart and left getting something that comes out that says, "Hey, the timer's going off on your cart." Right? Something that's going to let me know that I left without checking out. I'm just going to create a sense of urgency that if I don't come back and complete it, I'm going to have to add all these items again later.
And that may or may not be important to me. But if it is, it creates a sense of urgency. And a lot of times you'll see organizations also offer you a discount in most cases as well, which has almost become a tactic for a lot of consumers to add items to their cart, leave it, wait a day or two and get that, five, 10% coupon come through. Questions on those or any email subject lines that people have seen or used that have gotten really great results?
So let's jump into blogs next. And there's some discussion going around that are blogs starting to become last week's great thing, right? Do they still have the same impact in drawing people in and helping to convert people into sales? And what we've been noticing is that it all depends on how you're writing blog content and how you're using that blog content. More often than not lately, we're seeing too many people writing blogs as if they're just an extension of their product page or a sales page. It's almost like a little micro brochure for a product on a page.
And as you can see by this chart that doesn't align with how people read and consume blog articles. Most people are doing it to learn something new and getting a sales pitch on your product doesn't count as learning something new. So if it's a new way to use a tool, if it's a new tactic like that backlink program that we talked about earlier, if it's an article about, how people are engaging with marketing emails or how to set up a live chat tool and the best practices for manning it or operating it, those are ways of teaching somebody something new.
I'm not promoting a product. I'm not asking for a sale, but I'm talking about something relevant to my industry, that people would have an interest in that's going to help them do something better. The next biggest reason is to be entertained. A lot of people are reading blogs because it's entertaining to them, not necessarily comedic, although that can help, but it catches them up on information that they're interested in. And the third, most common reason is to learn about new trends in their job or industry. So again, it's not pitching how your product or service is going to make their job easier. That's what your product and service pages are for. This is about, how remote access is going to change, right? Over the next year. It's about how the world of collecting physical payments is going to change, right? Things that are going to help people with their job industry trends and what they care about.
So a couple conversion tips. So we talked a little bit about how to communicate with people better, how to arrange our messaging so that it's more in line with what people are looking for. We talked about some SEO tips to get more people onto our website, but once they're there, how do we convert those people into leads or opportunities for us? So some conversion tips, if you haven't done so already go and find your highest traffic pages, you can do that through Google analytics or any other type of tool that you're using and put a form on those pages specifically, don't just have a button at the top of your page that says, contact us, brings them to the contact page and so on. Include a form on every page, if you can, at the bottom or somewhere within that document, because people will fill out contact forms if they don't have to go very far for them more often.
For a number of reasons, one more clicks people have to go through to accomplish a task the less likely they are to actually complete that task. But also if I go to your generic contact us page, I don't feel as if my message is going to be textually relevant to the person who receives it because you don't know what page I was on when I said that prior to filling out that form, where if I filled out the contact us page at the bottom of your cabs software product page, I feel that when you receive it, you're going to have some context of what I was looking for. So putting forms on your actual pages of posts and just having a contact us page is probably the single biggest change that I could recommend that we'll probably see an increase in the number of people contacting you.
The next one is putting more and clearer calls to action on your homepage and other pages as well. So as you can see in this example here, this is what we would call the hero section or the above the fold section of somebody's website. And they sell a point of sales system and right off the bat, you see their value statement, you see a little bit more explaining about it, but then there's a very clear button that says, "Hey, try [inaudible 00:57:55] POS." And it will bring you right to sign up for their trial page, right? So very clear instructions and very clear direction of what you want people to do. A lot of the times, especially with these types of contact buttons, we see them worded in too much of a generic fashion, like just saying, contact us, right?
And the problem with those is that they're not explicitly clear or they're not explicitly getting to the heart of what people want to do, which might be try your software, get a quote, ask a question and things like that. It's the same reason that on the bottom of forms on your website, we never liked using the word submit as the button, because again, it's not super clear about what's happening, but also submit tends to have a bit of a negative connotation to it. So when you're adding forms, your buttons should be like, sign up for our demo, download this ebook, contact our company, whatever it is that's going to be clear on what the next step after they click that button that's going to happen.
Put relevant offers on specific blog posts within your site. And so what do we mean by this is that by an offer, we mean things like, get a free sample, sign up for a trial account, download an ebook, get this white paper, access a checklist or a free tool, things that are going to grab people's attention that may not be a real high commitment level on their side. Right? So if we take this example where I can get a free bag of dog food, if I fill out their form. Yeah, I'll give you my email address if it means I get a free feed for my dog for a day or two. Why not? Right? But they should be relevant to the page that you're putting them on. If I run a pet food store, I'm not going to put an offer on a blog that talks about something related to cats.
I'm not going to put an offer for free dog food on that page. It's not relevant to what they're looking at. So look at wherever you can, including conversion points on blog articles and such that will drive people to convert. Implementing live chat, chat box, or Facebook Messenger can be a really great tool. I'm not a huge fan of chat bots they can work really well, but they require a lot of effort to work really well. And for anyone who's not familiar with them, chat bots are essentially machine learning tools that act as if they're a real person chatting with them. But if you don't think of all the possible branches and conditions of how people might want to engage, their chat bot gets hung up really quick. And then just ask, "Oh, do you want me to connect you with a real person?"
And the challenge with that again is people like sincerity and they don't necessarily want to talk to a machine. If you do use the chat bot, my number one piece of advice is don't try to pretend that it's a real person. Don't ever try to trick the audience into thinking it because they'll see right through it. And it comes across as being insincere. But chat bots can be good if you don't have dedicated people who can sit in front of their computer and monitor incoming chat requests. But going back to one of our very first slides, the use of these tools is going up substantially.
So if you do have somebody who can field questions, connect them to the right resources and things like that, give it a try. There's a lot of free chat tools out there. And there's a lot of paid ones as well, which offer some more features, but give them a try, put them on your website. [inaudible 01:02:12] or a few people's responsibility to own those conversations for a month or two, and just see how it goes, you'll be surprised. This company has an example here in the screenshot, exclusively their leads come in through chat. Nobody fills up their contact us form. Everybody uses the chat engine.
The next one is about personalizing page content. And this can be a little bit more difficult. It often requires like special software to do or plugins if you have a WordPress site, but this is about making the user experience personalized based off of what you know about the person. So as an example, this might be what you could see on a webpage the very first time you land here. Right? So grow your business with them.
First time you land here. Grow your business with inbound marketing and sales. But because we tag you with a cookie when you hit the website and you leave and you come back a couple of days later, we know you're a return visitor so the next time you come back, we could show you this instead. Say, "Hey, we knew you'd be back so let's grow your business again with inbound sales marketing." Personalization can happen in a lot of different ways. Some of it's can be creepy like if you know the person's because they're in their CRM system, you can actually put people's names and company names. And that can be effectively done sometimes. But more often than not, it comes across as creepy. But other ways personalization can be used. It is, let's say you service both Canada and the US, you can use personalization to detect which country they're in and serve up different content because we spell certain words differently. That's an example or a form of personalization.
Personalization works because one, it stands out. If you saw this come up and it says, "We knew you'd be back." You would remember that. That would jump out to you, makes a more memorable experience. Especially if you were an American company and you were on a Canadian website and you see everything spelled in your opinion, the wrong way, in my opinion, in the right way. A lot of times American companies get turned off by that. If you have personalization to be able to dynamically change the page content so it's spelled the way they would expect to see things, their adoption of it is going to be a lot higher.
And the last conversion tip here is, and I don't have a cute picture here to help with the imagery, because I want you to specifically remember this. And that is that no lead is just going to magically turn into a customer. Leads are only as good as your nurturing effort. And for this, I'm specifically speaking to organizations that have what we would call a considered buying process. If you rely off of impulse purchases, B to C low volume, low dollar transaction sales, where I might be willing to buy a new shirt for $40 without thinking much about it, because I just like the way it looks. Yeah, you may or may not have to do a lot of initial nurturing with that account. If you have a considered buying process, which means that it's getting done by committee, people are doing research, they're going to revisit your site and your content multiple times before they're going to reach out and actually consider doing business with you, you need to nurture those leads.
And by that we mean using email marketing, using tools like eBooks and white papers to help educate them along the way. It's about timing calls for salespeople to follow up with them when it's relevant and needed. It could be as far as going and putting in things like lead scoring on your website so you can gauge interested and engaged prospects versus less engaged ones. And one thing to remember, if you have that considered buying process, is that the average buyer or average prospect requires eight to 12 touch points before they're going to engage with you. And what do I mean by a touchpoint?
It could be visiting your website counts as a touch point. If they do that and then you have remarketing ads run that show your ads to them on Google and LinkedIn and Facebook afterwards, those all count as touchpoints when they see them. If your salesperson gives them a call to follow up on a form that they filled out, that's a touch point. If they get a marketing email, that's a touchpoint. Eight to 12 touch points is what the average prospect needs before they're going to engage with you.
Here's the part that most people don't realize and this is staggering, is that the average salesperson gives up after three to five attempts. And you can't fault them too much on that because, hey, if I reach out to you three to five times and you don't respond, I'm going to have to assume that you really are not interested in what we have to offer, because that's a fair amount of times I tried to touch base. But there's still that big delta between what I did and what their expectation or their need is before they start to engage with us. Focus on creating a lead nurturing program. That could be anything from ads to email, to phone calls, to pointing them back to your website, to newsletters, whatever it is that's going to get to that eight to 12 touch points.
On the more transactional business to consumer side, those low dollar volume opportunities. Somebody may buy on their first visit to your website. But where nurturing comes in then is to continue to get them to come back to be repeat customers. Don't rely on them saying that, "Oh, well they bought a shirt. I assumed they liked their shirt because we didn't hear complaints so they'll be back." No, you've got to remind them and you've got to be nurturing them to continue to foster that relationship and let them know about what else you have that they could bring back.
In summary, really the new normal is going to involve a lot more digital marketing. Seen that in all the trends in the numbers, there's going to be a lot more people working from home, which means just conversing with coworkers and the person who shares a desk next to you, those opportunities are going away. Not just now, but post COVID as well. I was reading an article the other day that Chase Bank down in the States is permanently shifting a lot of their major departments to strictly work from home because they've noticed during this time period they've been 40% more productive and their costs have gone down. You're going to see a lot more people turning online to do their research and to answer questions. And you want to be the site that they find. You want to be that source of information and that source of knowledge for them.
It's going to get a lot more competitive as companies start to realize this. The sooner you get in there, the sooner you start building a foundation and you'll have a leg up on people and focus on building that digital presence. It doesn't just happen. It has to be a consistent effort. It can't be that well, we'll write a blog if and when we think of something. No, there needs to be a sustained effort around that, and then always follow best practices. And always try to educate yourself about as those change, because if you're not following best practices, if you're not using those types of tools and strategies that we talked about throughout here, you could be spending a lot of time on your digital marketing, but not getting any ground covered.
Just thought what I'd like to do is opening it up to questions. I noticed one did come through here. What are my thoughts on podcasts as marketing tactic? Podcasts are a great tool, especially if you're good at promotion, getting the word out there, getting people excited about things, podcasts are, it's from a user perspective in terms of people wanting to consume content. They're great. They're just like blog articles. I love podcasts because I can just put them on and listen to them while I'm in the car. I don't have to sit down and read an article for 10, 15 minutes, whatever it is. I can just listen to a concept.
One thing with podcasts though is that you do have to make a considerable effort to get the word out there. They don't just naturally get found on Google and things like that. It's a lot of social media. It's a lot of paid advertisements to build awareness. One tactic that you can use though around podcasts that will help you from an SEO perspective and it's something we do, so if you want to check out an example, you can go to our blog and see it.
Where we actually, once we're done one of our blog episodes, we use a company called Rev, rev.com, Rev. And you upload your audio file to them. And within a couple hours, they have a real person transcribe that into a Word document for you. Then what we do is we post the audio on our blog and below that we post the full transcript of it. Now we've put in written content, which is what Google can read and understand and use to rank us as well as pushing the podcast out so people can listen to it on our blog, on Spotify, on iTunes, whatever format you like. Blogs are good, but on their own, they're not going to get much traction. You've got to do some work to build that up. Great question. Any other questions?
Okay. Got another one here that they started doing something with SEO on their website during our presentation and it was inspiring and educational. Thank you. Oh, well, that's not really a question. That's just kind of, now I've read it out loud. It seems like it's just a pat on my own back so I bought it. No, I'm glad that you found some good tips and tricks on there. Any other questions, thoughts?
How have the businesses you've worked with adapted to COVID? Good question. The bulk of our customers have been organizations that have, not that we focused on this, but just happened to be the way it worked out with organizations that didn't lose steam or didn't lose value because of COVID. We have a number of managed IT companies. Their need obviously went up with more remote work, more access to information. We also work with a number of companies who do document management, paperless office, and they actually saw an increase because now all of this paper that's stuck in their filing cabinets and warehouses, everybody's remote, they can't access that. Scanning for them has picked up.
But one of the main things that we've seen work is that a lot of, I would say 90% of what we talked about today is your longterm strategy for digital marketing and SEO. If you have a way that you can legitimately bring value to your customers during COVID, so let's say you have a service as a managed IT company and you want to get that in front of people and your SEO doesn't have you ranking on the first page and things like that. That's when you have to turn to using ads as a short term solution, because ads, once you get them designed and launched, if I launch them today, I could be getting leads in tomorrow. The only thing stopping me from being up at the top position using ads is my own budget. That would be one I would definitely recommend for adapting your marketing strategy.
Any other thoughts or questions? How can brick and mortar retail businesses best translate their businesses online? Yeah, that's a good question. If you don't have an eCommerce site currently, that's definitely one starting place that I would look into. I think that those types of businesses where you were heavily relying on foot traffic, I think a lot more people have become familiar with the convenience or they've broken down some initial barriers that they had to using online shopping. Perfect example of that is just tools like, like WebEx and Zoom and things like that. Four months ago, pretty much every time you got on a Zoom call or a WebEx call with more than two people, chances are somebody was having a technical issue. Someone who had never used it before and they couldn't figure it out. And now pretty much nobody has issues with it.
Something that was foreign to a lot of people, they didn't use it very often, they had their own hesitations around it, people have really kind of broken down the barriers to doing that. One of the first things that I would look at if I was at brick and mortar shop is bringing eCommerce into your site. There's a really great platform, I actually used them as one of the examples earlier in today's presentation called Taku Labs, T-A-K-U Labs. They're based out of Markham. They offer a point of sale system that integrates with online shopping and Google ads and Google My Business, and really helps bridge that brick and mortar gap with online business.
I know we're not a huge eCommerce agency, but I know Shopify has been a really popular online platform for people who want to get into eCommerce. It's a very easy to deploy platform. There's a lot of eCommerce options for sites like WordPress and stuff like that, but they're fairly complicated. Shopify kind of simplifies that as well. Those are kind of some of my initial suggestions for that.
Any other thoughts, questions? Which social media platforms are up and coming in your opinion? Good question. It really depends on the age bracket of your audience. If you're selling to teens, young twenties, things like Snapchat are going to be tools that you want to integrate into your marketing. If you're in the twenties to thirties range, you want to be looking at Instagram. If you're selling business to business, obviously LinkedIn is where you want to be. If you're dealing to more of a 40 plus demographics, Facebook. I know some of those obviously aren't new and upcoming, but they're really good platforms. And there's a huge audience there for them.
I know there's some companies who are just businesses out there that are just killing it on TikTok. I have not explored that at all. I don't have much to say around that, but I know that's been something a lot of companies that have been making headways with. Another one from, it can be both from an organic, but also from an ads perspective on social media is, and people often overlook. It is Quora, Q-U-O-R-A. If you're not familiar with Quora, it is essentially a glorified question and answer board, and you can go on there and you've probably seen them come up. Pretty much every question you type into Google probably has a Quora page come up in the response.
You create an account. You say, "Here's the things I'm knowledgeable about. Here's the things I'm interested in." And they'll send you regular feeds on here's questions that people are asking related to what you said you were knowledgeable on. And you can go and answer those people's questions. And there's a chance to provide education and get awareness around your company and your brand there. But they also have an ad platform, which is really, really well done, which you can target the types of questions and the type of demographics that people have or questions that they're interested in. And your ads can be included in emails that go out to those people on a regular basis. They show up in the questions feeds almost looking identical to a normal question, just some slight variations. It's actually a really underutilized platform from the ads perspective, as well as just an organic perspective. Quora's another good one to have a look at if you're not using it.
Okay. Thank you everyone for coming by today. This was great. Thank you, Kevin. This is really in depth information, so I hope everyone learned from it. And with that, everyone take care. We have another webinar out tomorrow. This one is new, it's with regards to health and safety. We're going to have the Chief Health Officer from York region coming in to talk about safety procedures. And so this one will be tomorrow at 10:30. We'll be sending that out by email. This webinar will be sent out to everyone who attended as a recording, as well as a survey so that people can share their insights. And with that, take care of everyone.
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