Is your website a top performer — or a black hole for sales and marketing?

Guest post by Lisa Cramer.

We used to analyze website effectiveness by how well it conveyed who you are as a company and how quickly and easily it informed visitors of the value you deliver to them. And while we continue to discuss website effectiveness in terms of conversions – providing content that prospects find interesting enough to be willing to give up some of their own information in order to receive it – now that’s no longer enough. Now, with more and more buyers doing their research online at your website and other sites, it’s important to be able to digitally track and see as much as we can about that company and person before they ever reveal themselves to us.Tracking Tools Provides Insights About Website Visitors

Online tracking of web visitors has taken on added importance for sales and marketing. While web analytics software tells us important metrics like how many visitors we have, which pages they visit and for how long, sales and marketing need more leads.

Using web analytics I can evaluate how my site’s doing as a sales and marketing tool, but now it’s time to take it a step further. I need to be able to actually see if the prospects I’m trying to attract to my website are indeed the ones visiting. I need to see what pages those companies go to and what exactly they are doing on my site. And even more to the point, I need to be able to turn that anonymous visitor into a known entity.

When a company visits your website anonymously, technology can’t tell you who the individual is, but it can certainly tell you their company. And, with links to readily available data sources (including LinkedIn) you can easily find the individuals with the titles that are your targets. When a company comes onto your website it’s an opportunity for you to proactively take its anonymous interest and turn it into a lead. We know from client experience that taking anonymous visitors and converting them into identified prospects directly leads to revenue.

The key criteria in converting an anonymous visitor to a known lead is to not only know who the company is but what they were looking at on your website. For example, if Company A was visiting the LeadLife website and it spent a long time looking at pages and blog posts related to lead nurturing, then we would know to engage the VP of Marketing, CMO and/or CEO in a discussion about lead nurturing’s value to sales and marketing, and ultimately, to the bottom line. Conversely, it would be much more difficult to generate their interest if we had instead initiated a conversation on lead scoring.

What’s now available in technology and supported through process change can help you to make sure your website is performing for sales and marketing in the most effective way. It’s no longer only important to analyze website metrics such as the number of visitors; it’s now time to convert those previously anonymous visitors to known ones.

About the Author

Lisa CramerLisa Cramer is president and co-founder of LeadLife Solutions, a provider of an on-demand lead management solution that helps drive revenue by bundling a state of the art marketing automation platform with highly-experienced marketing and sales specialists. In 2009 and 2010, Lisa was recognized as one of the top five “Most Influential People” in sales lead management, and in 2011 was named one of the Top 20 Women to Watch in sales lead management. Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisajcramer or connect on her B2B marketing blog.

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How Social Media, Content Transform Marketing from Expense to Investment

Sales leads generated through inbound marketing–the combination of content marketing, blogging, social media, website chat and SEM–cost 61% less than those produced through traditional demand generation techniques (e.g., online or print advertising, trade shows, telemarketing, direct mail) according to research from HubSpot.

Social Networking and Content Marketing are Investments

Photo credit: DIY Marketers

But as compelling as those cost savings are, the arguably larger financial impact is that social and content strategies change much of what marketing does from an expense (an expenditure tied to immediate consumption) to an investment (an allocation with a long-term payback). Buying a bag of apples at the grocery store is an expense; planting an apple tree is an investment.

While some aspects of inbound marketing (SEM, email marketing, webinars) clearly remain in the expense column, three of its key components clearly should be classified as investments, as long-term appreciating assets.

Blogging: for any new business blog, traffic typically starts out modest but grows over time. One reason is that reader subscriptions (when via email or RSS feed) tend to grow over time as the blog establishes its voice and readership. But the larger factor is SEO: the longer a blog is actively contributed to, the more content there will be for search engines to index, the more links it will attract, and hence the more search-driven traffic it will enjoy.

The major search engines also seem to give blogs more respect over time. Newly-launched blogs typically generate a very small share of total traffic from organic search, but the proportion builds over time. It’s not unusual to see clear upward inflection points in search traffic after the first six and 12 months a blog is active.

Social Networking: whether on an individual or corporate account basis, a social network grows over time as credibility is established. It’s difficult to build a large social following on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+ or any other such site right out of the gate. But if the user is consistent, helpful, and engaging, it’s virtually inevitable that the following will grow over time. Like a blog, each social media account is an appreciating asset.

Content Marketing: while some content is designed for short-term needs, much of it has long-term value. Blog posts, videos posted to YouTube or Vimeo, presentations on SlideShare–all can continue to attract new viewers years after they are first created. Well-written white papers can also serve as effective long-term lead-generation assets.

Inbound marketing therefore not only makes marketing more efficient, but also more strategically valuable to the organization. It’s no longer just about spending money to generate leads this month or this quarter, but about developing content and connections that increase in value and continue to pay off over the long term.

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Top 10 Tweets About Today’s Twitter Outage

Twitter went down for about 80 minutes hours today (more or less, depending on where you are), reminding many people how psychologically dependent on it they’ve become. Here are the top 10 tweets (once service was restored, of course).

10. (factual) ?@RT_com  #Twitter goes down worldwide http://on.rt.com/m4ysc0

9. (good point) @rwang0 I have to remember #twitter is a free service.. thanks for providing it.

8. (practical) @ThomasMarzano 10 Things to do when #Twitter is down http://bit.ly/MCKZcV

7. (same goes for electricity) @MrJacksonHumes Its weird how we always expect everything to work at all times but we don’t actually know how these things work ourselves? #Twitter

6. (I refuse to answer) @BElizabeth8602 #Twitter was down – were you more productive? Or did you whine like a little baby like I did? | http://www.technolog.msnbc.msn.com/technology/technolog/twitter-goes-down-productivity-skyrockets-839685

5. (white people problems) @Hilibofas #twitter being down was the worst thing to happen to me today. I couldn’t post any Justin Bieber leaders to my followers! Was so steamed!

4. (I know, right?) @AlexandraUlmer I love that people are tweeting to inform #Twitter has resolved outage

3. (ouch) @AnandWrites Gosh, that #Twitter outage was so long that I almost started talking out loud again.

2. (gotta love Borowitz) @BorowitzReport You learn a lot when #Twitter is down. For example, my wife left me four years ago.

And the number one tweet about the Twitter outage…

@treestman Worst part about #Twitter being down is you can’t tweet about it.

Got your own favorite(s)?

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B2B Mobile Websites: Prepare, but Don’t Panic

You’ve seen the statistics: mobile browsing (e.g., browsing the web using a smart phone or other mobile device) will eclipse desktop web browsing sometime in 2013. Yikes! More than half of my website traffic coming from mobile phones? I’m not ready!

Relax (unless you’re in the relatively small group of businesses that shouldn’t). Mobile browsing is unquestionably having an impact on website strategy, but the impact varies widely among different sectors based on a variety of factors.

Type of business: if you run a bar, restaurant or specialty retail shop that is dependent on local traffic, then by all means you had better have a sophisticated local and mobile web strategy. As recently as five years ago, many of your patrons were likely finding you through the (print) yellow pages. Most households don’t even want those tree-killing doorstops anymore, much less do they use them.

Local service businesses have a bit more breathing room, but only a bit. If you offer home repair, plumbing, electrical, landscaping or other types of services, your clients may use the “big screen” of a desktop or laptop PC to find your company, read about your offerings. and research reviews. But even this simple research is becoming increasingly mobile.

For B2B companies with complex offerings, however, the pressure is far less urgent. For considered purchases, where the research is generally conducted within the workplace environment, desktop browsing still reigns. Based on analysis of traffic patterns of b2b technology websites I’ve worked with (more than 40 are displayed in my Google Analytics home screen view currently), mobile browsing is a growing but still fairly small part of the picture. This is not a comprehensive study but is likely to be generally representative of B2B websites.

B2B IT Website Mobile Visitor Statistics 2012

 

Note that, on the one hand, the share of total website traffic nearly doubled from the first quarter of 2011 to the first three months of 2012—a clear indication of increasing use of mobile browsers to access b2b websites. But note also that the mobile proportion is still only 1 of every 16 visitors on average, and as few as 1 of 50 at the low end of the range. Hence: prepare, but don’t panic.

That observation doesn’t tell the complete story, however, as a portion of those visitors are using tablets, with screens almost as large as small laptops. What’s really crucial to consider is how many visitors are coming to your site from a smart phone with a small format screen.

B2B Technology Website Visitors - Smartphone Statistics 2012

 

When tablets (such as the iPad) are excluded, the share of mobile visitors is considerably smaller; roughly 2/3 of all mobile visitors. These are the potential visitors for whom you really need an optimized mobile website experience. But though they have increased by nearly 50% in the past year, they still account for just 1 out of every 24 visitors to the typical B2B tech company website, on average.

Type of information sought: whereas desktop computers are used for a wide range of tasks including in-depth research, mobile devices (in a b2b context) are most frequently used for three purposes:

  • • Fact-checking: is the software both Windows- and Mac-compatible, or better yet, completely cloud-based? What are the dimensions of a device, or specific properties of a material?
  • • Location-based information: where is your closest sales office? Where can I take the item for service?
  • • Communication: not surprisingly, as communications were the initial purpose of mobile devices, your customers and prospects will often visit your mobile site seeking to contact your company. Make it easy with click-to-call buttons, email links, and links to your Facebook, Twitter and other social media accounts.

Demographics: while one has to be careful here to avoid stereotypes (and it is true that 82% of CEOs own smartphones), there’s no question that digital natives (those born in 1990 or later) are simply more immersed in mobile technology (having literally grown up with it) and are therefore likely to be, all other things being equal, heavier users of the mobile web than are typical b2b decision makers (generally in their 40s, 50s or 60s).

Again, a sophisticated mobile presence is essential now for bars, clubs, gyms, universities, restaurants, theaters, and any other business catering to 20-somethings. Digital natives are the b2b decision makers of tomorrow, so again, when it comes to b2b mobile web presence, companies need to prepare but not panic.

Specifically, here are three steps b2b marketers should take today if they don’t already have a mobile strategy in place:

1. Check you website analytics to see what percentage of your visitors are coming from mobile devices. If it’s more than 5%, you need to develop a mobile plan for website design. If it’s more than 10%, you need to develop a mobile website—quickly.

2. Check to see how your current website looks on a variety of mobile devices, or use mobile device emulators. If it isn’t the experience you’d want your customers and prospects to have, you need to develop a mobile plan.

3. When developing your mobile site plan, be sure to incorporate best practices in mobile website design.

When it comes to mobile and b2b, don’t freak out over the hype, but do take action.

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