Get Found—Generate Traffic

Every business with a website has the potential to get found by more customers online through search engine optimization (SEO) and inbound marketing. Whether you have already invested in an SEO strategy or are just getting started, this ebook will help you gain a stronger understanding of all aspects in the SEO process. The ideas, best practices, and examples all come from top SEO experts.

Create Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20. (Note: If you’re new to personas, start small! You can always develop more personas later if needed.)

At the most basic level, personas allow you to personalize or target your marketing for different segments of your audience. For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging according to what you know about those different personas.

You can even create negative personas, then you’ll have the added advantage of being able to segment out the “bad apples” from the rest of your contacts, which can help you achieve a lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer (and see higher sales productivity).

How Do You Create Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are created through research, surveys, and interviews of your target audience. That includes a mix of customers, prospects, and those outside of your contact database who might align with your target audience.

Here are some practical methods for gathering the information you need to develop personas:

  • Interview customers either in person or over the phone to discover what they like about your product or service.
  • Look through your contacts database to uncover trends about how certain leads or customers find and consume your content.
  • When creating forms to use on your website, use form fields that capture important persona information. (For example, if all of your personas vary based on company size, ask each lead for information about company size on your forms. You could also gather information on what forms of social media your leads use by asking a question about social media accounts.)
  • Take into consideration your sales team’s feedback on the leads they are interacting with most. (What types of sales cycles does your sales team work with? What generalizations can they make about the different types of customers you serve best?)

Here’s an example of what a Buyer Persona looks like.

Sample Sally

What is their job and level of seniority?

  • Head of Human Resources
  • Worked at the same company for 10 years; worked her way up from HR Associate

What is their demographic information?

  • Married with 2 children (10 and 8)
  • Skews female
  • Age 30-45
  • Dual HH Income: $140,000
  • Suburban

Where do they go for information?

  • Probably has an assistant screening calls
  • Asks to receive collateral mailed/printed
  • Internet

What do they value most?

  • Keep employees happy and turnover low
  • Support legal and finance teams
  • Getting everything done with a small staff

What are their goals?

  • Make it easy to manage all employee data in one place
  • Integrate with legal and finance teams' systems
  • Rolling out changes to the entire company

What are their most common objections to your product/service?

  • "It's been difficult getting company-wide adoption of new technologies in the past."
  • "I don't have time to train new employees on a million different databases and platforms."
  • "I've had to deal with so many painful integrations with other departments' databases and software."

What are their pain points?

  • I'm worried I'll lose data transitioning to a new system.
  • I don't want to have to train the entire company on how to use a new system.
  • Integrated HR Database Management

What do you help them solve?

  • We give you an intuitive database that integrates with your existing software and platforms, and lifetime training to help new employees get up to speed quickly.

SEO

SEO-based leads close at a rate of 14.6%, on average, while outbound-sourced leads close at a rate of 1.7%. With this contrast in mind, SEO considerations like page titles and heading tags deserve your attention.

Think about SEO from the start

When thinking of redesigning your website, it's easy to focus on the coolest new features that everyone is doing. But to ensure your new site will be found by your target audience (and to save yourself from some major headaches down the road) you need SEO to be integrated in your design strategy from the very beginning.

Think of it this way: you could spend all the money in the world on building a beautiful new resort on a secluded private island. But if no one knows how to find your resort, you'll never do any business.

Don't build a resort that no one can find! When planning out your website strategy, make sure to plan you SEO as well.

Do an audit of your existing site.

You may be sick of your website but don't be too quick to dismiss what is right about your site. Make sure you take the time to examine it to determine what's working and what isn't. Here are some key metrics you may want to consider when auditing your site:

  • Number of visits/visitors/unique visitors (monthly average)
  • Top performing keywords (in terms of rank, traffic, and lead generation)
  • Number of inbound linking domains
  • Total number of total pages indexed
  • Total number of pages that receive traffic

Likely there are pages that are preforming really well. You can update the look of these pages, but you won't want to change the urls or the content of these pages.

Important elements of a website redesign oftentimes get pushed to the side when timeframes are constrained. One of the most important components of a new design project is to take time at the beginning to analyze current traffic to ensure current visitors are not lost.

Review which pages on your website have incoming links, which have the best page-rank and what keywords on your pages drive traffic and conversions. Keep your website redevelopment team informed and make sure important pages are not removed or deleted with the new layout.

This is a critical first step that should not be overlooked, no matter how quickly the redesign process must be completed.

Create a master document where you can record all of these important metrics and track the progress of your website redesign.

Identify and Include Commonly Searched Keywords

It's a new era for SEO, an era where you can no longer keyword-stuff your way to search ranking success. Nowadays, if Google finds out that you are blatantly overusing (or hiding) keywords on your site, your credibility (and rankings) could take a serious hit. However, this doesn't mean that keywords are totally irrelevant.

In fact, if you're doing what Google wants you to do (creating high-quality content), keywords will work there way naturally into your website's pages. To quote from Google directly:

"In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site."

Common Mistake: Your website has been stuffed with awkward keywords. Google's Penguin algorithm launched in 2012 with extreme punishment for sites containing too many poorly placed keywords.

How to Correct: If you're concerned you might have this issue with your website it needs a full scrub. Your website needs to read well for humans first, search engines second. Read through every piece of content, asking yourself if this reads well for humans. Remove any keywords that don't fit naturally into the content. If any word doesn't contribute to the education of the visitor it likely doesn't fit.

Rule of Thumb: Each webpage should have a single focus keyword and be included 1-3 times naturally in the page content. Make sure it's also included in your page title, meta description, and H1 text assuming it fits within the parameters. If it doesn't fit well, work towards a more general keyword.

Keywords can really keep web pages focused, which is important in SEO. Look at your buyer persona behavior, industry trends, competitors and more to build a list of targeted terms, and then focus on one term per page. In doing so, you can more easily provide value to your viewers.

Many marketers are so focused on building out site hierarchy, wire framing and design of the site that they lose site of content development. SEO is a huge part of content development, but when content becomes an afterthought during web redesign, and the focus is on getting the new site live ASAP, often times marketers will put the content together without deliberate thought to keyword inclusion and smart SEO content strategies.

The result is that post-go-live, marketers begin scrambling to rewrite content that is already live to improve SEO. Marketers can reduce this additional effort by including an SEO keyword analysis at the front end of a web redesign project – during website strategy development, and then using the findings and recommendations from the keyword analysis to inform content development.

This, coupled with a deliberate focus on content development during the web redesign process (rather than as an afterthought) can help marketers make huge leaps regarding SEO without the post-go-live scramble.

Set up 301 redirects

A 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. Whether you're switching domain names, restructuring your URLs (more on that in the next section), or consolidating content as part of your website redesign, setting up 301 redirects is crucial to ensuring any "SEO juice" from your old URLs gets transferred to your new URLs.

Here's an example. Let's say your current site has a "Team" page (at yoursite.com/team), as well as a "Culture" page (at yoursite.com/culture). However, as part of your website redesign, you want to consolidate the content from those two pages into a single "About Us" page (at yoursite.com/about). To transfer the SEO authority of those pages to your new page, you'll want to set up 301 redirects so that your site.com/team and yoursite.com/culture both send folks to the new URL, yoursite.com/about.

Failure to set up 301 redirects for pages you move or delete can result in a drop in rankings as well as an influx in 404 (a.k.a. "Page Not Found") error messages for your site's visitors.

Launching a new website without putting 301 redirects in place is literally committing SEO suicide. Not only will you lose all of your past SEO history, your rankings (and traffic!) will plummet.

Always, ALWAYS 301 redirect your old site pages to your new ones to let Google know where your new content can be found.

Before doing any 301 redirects, create a URL outline of your old site. Excel is a great, simple way to do it: create a tab for each of your main menu sections, and list all menu sub items with their corresponding URL in that tab.

Use this as a road map to creating all 301 redirects, marking off each URL you redirect without leaving any pages behind.

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make when redesigning websites is that they change their site architecture (create new pages to replace old ones) and do away with old website pages that they no longer want to include in their site. These "abandoned" pages might rank in search engine results pages or may have backlinks.

By getting rid of them, you are eliminating all of that SEO value that you've built up over time. Most firms don't even realize the damage they've done until its too late and their search engine ranking plummets upon launching their new site.

The good news is that you don't have to keep those old pages around forever. Just create a 301 redirect to let the search engines know where to find the new page you're creating and your hardwood SEO will follow you to your new website!

Consider Your URL Structure

If your site is littered with lengthy, indecipherable URLs that don't align well with the actual content of your site pages, restructuring your URLs should definitely be a priority during your next website redesign. Wondering where SEO comes into play here? While just like the searchers themselves, search engines prefer URLs that make it easy to understand what your page content is all about.

A general rule to follow when creating your new URLs: use dashes (-) between words instead of underscores (_). Google treats dashes as separators, which means it can return results when you search for a single word that appears in a URL and when you search for a group of words that appears in a URL. In contrast, Google treats underscores as connectors, which means it will only return results when you search for a group of connected words that appears in a URL. The bottom line: using dashes creates more opportunities for your pages to be discovered.

Redesigning your site gives you the perfect opportunity to make sure your URLs are optimized for UX and for search engines. Your URLs play a significant role in your SEO success.

Your URLs must contain targeted and relevant keywords. Your URL structure also needs to follow suit according to your site map. Keep the structure organized for the user experience. Subfolders add value to parent pages.

For instance, don't have a URL at domain.com/services/ and a services category as domain.com/category-1/. A services category should support the parent services page and should look like domain.com/services/category-1/.

Don't Leave Shady Backlinks in Place

We all know that getting backlinks (a.k.a. inbound links) from trusted websites is a great way to give your website's search rankings a boost. However, there's also a dark side to backlinks.

If Google suspects that there are spammy, low-quality sites linking to your site, your rankings could suffer. This is known as "negative SEO". (In some cases, spammers will purposely direct lots of low-quality links to your site in order to cause negative SEO.)

A website redesign presents the perfect opportunity for you to analyze your backlinks and remove the shady ones. If you use Google Webmaster Tools, you'll see a "manual penalty" appear if Google detects one of these low-quality links. You'll then have the option to make such links "no follows" so Google stops paying attention to them.

The Problem: Your SEO firm built hundreds of bad back links to your website. Google's Penguin algorithm update in 2012 included penalization for websites that built erroneous back links in an attempt to drive ranking. Site links from unrelated sources, micro-sites, and false sources do more harm than good post-Penguin.

There are several good software tools to help you identify bad links to your website. Link Research Tools is one we recommend, it provides detail on harmful links and helps you get them removed from you site quickly and efficiently.

Most marketers focusing on SEO break down SEO into on-page efforts and off-page efforts. And when focusing on off-page efforts, a common SEO mistake marketers make is believing that their site will receive more SEO traffic if only they can find enough websites to build links on.

This is the mistake, a link-building mindset. Stop thinking about link-building. Start thinking about link-earning. Focus on making your content easy for your audience to consume, understand and share with their audience.

Implement Responsive Design

As Google's preferred configuration for mobile-optimized websites, responsive design is your best option for delivering a great search and browsing experience to mobile users.

With responsive design, all of your website's URLs are the same across all devices, and they all serve up the same HTML code. This isn't the case with other mobile configurations, like setting up a separate, mobile-only site (which requires a different set of URLs) or implementing dynamic serving (which uses the same URLs but serves up different HTML).

With responsive design, the only thing that changes across devices is the styling (which is controlled by CSS). This configuration makes it easier for Google to crawl your pages and retrieve your content. To quote Google, "This improvement in crawling efficiency can indirectly help Google index more of the site's contents and keep it appropriately fresh."

Don't Forget to Unblock Search Engines From Crawling Your Site

So there you are, ready to push the big green "LAUNCH" button on your newly designed website. The big moment comes and goes, and after hours of combing through the site, admiring its beauty, you stumble across something peculiar: your new, beautiful website isn't showing up in Google's search results!

Chances are that when your site was under construction, you had blocked the search engines from peaking under the hood until your site was 100% complete. When launching your website after a redesign, it's important to double check that the search engines know where to find you.

A silly issue that causes huge problems — and happens more often than you would think — is that sometimes people forget to unblock robots from crawling and indexing the website after the website goes live.

This often happens when the site is in a dev environment and has robots.txt set to block all search robots, then the site is taken live with the all-exclusive robots.txt file still in place and the site's search traffic suddenly grinds to a halt.

To avoid this one, make sure to check your robots.txt file once your site goes live. Double check it with Google Webmaster Tools to make sure your site is being indexed.

Add Analytics Tracking To Your Site

How are you going to benchmark your redesigned website against your old website if you aren't using analytics software? Answer: you aren't!

As soon as your new website is released into the wild, wild web, you should be collecting data on its performance. Did your content audit and keyword research pay off? Is that new URL structure making it easier for visitors to navigate through your pages? You'll never know if you aren't monitoring key metrics with analytics software.

One of the biggest and most egregious errors you can make when redesigning a website is to forget to paste the proper Google analytics code on the new website.

It's pretty difficult to track the success of a new site designed to have a higher conversion rate… without any conversion code or analytics tracking. Make sure to have a website redesign checklist, whether you use an external agency or handle it in house.

Think Like A Human

With the Hummingbird update of 2013, Google gained the ability to recognize full sentence queries (in contrast to simply picking out the indivudal words that make up a query). As a result, search has become much more conversational. Google doesn't want to deliver you "results" anymore, they want to deliver answers.

And the best answers don't come from content farms, they come from websites that are crafted with their visitors — human beings — in mind.

Always Add Value. Add value in every blog post, blog comment, social media update and web page. Don't worry about backlinks or keyword rank. People will read and share your valuable content, and the rest will take care of itself.

Be Yourself. Write about what you know and make it a conversation with your readers. Keep it natural. People will find your content because they speak the same language and seek your advice.

Remember that it's more than just the keywords people type in. It's in fact, a human, your future customer that is typing that information into Google. Think about what keywords your best customer would search and break that down into the different stages of the buying cycle

Focus on creating value for your personas and delivering the user experience they would like. When you focus on those items, SEO takes care of itself.

Keywords

Keywords are much more than just a randomly selected list of words. They are actually very strategic in nature and form the foundation of all inbound marketing efforts. Keywords are generally defined in three ways:

  1. Focused concepts for your marketing
  2. Words that identify the content on your website
  3. Search terms for search engines

Research about five or six distinct groups of words (keywords) that your prospects search for or find of particular interest in relation to your industry. These groups of keywords will form the framework for all ongoing content creation, whether they’re used on website pages, blog posts, social media posts, webinars, ebooks, etc. Remaining focused on a set of keywords will increase the likelihood of being ranked by Google (and other search engines) when people search for related terms. Use tools like HubSpot and Google Planner to help you better understand the right keywords for your strategy.

Content Creation

Don’t try to compensate for low quality with high quantity content. You’ll do yourself more harm than good —readers won’t regard your content well, and as a result, Google won’t hold your domain in high regard, either.

Additionally, if you’re resource-strapped, there’s a blogging volume sweet spot you can rest comfortably in. 92% of businesses that blog multiple times a day have acquired one customer from it. But 78% of businesses that blog once a day have also acquired a customer from it. That differential isn’t too big.

And if we bring down the volume just a tad to 2-3 times per week, still, 70% of business acquire a customer from their blog.

So create content and do it consistently.

Content Mapping

When it comes to content, one size rarely fits all. To ensure that your company’s content is effective at generating and nurturing leads, you need to deliver the right content, to the right people, at the right time. Content mapping is the process of doing just that.

With content mapping, the goal is to target content according to A) the characteristics of the person who will be consuming it (that’s where buyer personas come in), and B) how close that person is to making a purchase ( i.e. their lifecycle stage).

Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospective customers) better, and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different groups.

The strongest buyer personas are based on market research as well as on insights you gather from your actual customer base (through surveys, interviews, etc.). Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two personas, or as many as 10 or 20. If you’re just getting started with personas, don’t go crazy! You can always develop more personas later if needed.

When developing buyer personas, here are some of the questions you should think about:

  • What is their demographic information?
  • What is their job and level of seniority?
  • What does a day in their life look like?
  • What are their pain points? What do you help them solve?
  • What do they value most? What are their goals?
  • Where do they go for information?
  • What are their most common objections to your product/service?

Lifecycle Stages

The buyer persona you target with your content is just one half of the content mapping equation. In addition to knowing who someone is, you need to know where they are in the buying cycle ( i.e. how close are they to making a purchase?). This location in the buying cycle is known as a lifecycle stage.

For the purposes of this template, we’re divvying up the buying cycle into three lifecycle stages: AwarenessConsideration, & Decision.

  • Awareness: In the awareness stage, a person has realized and expressed symptoms of a potential problem or opportunity.
  • Consideration: In the consideration stage, a person has clearly defined and given a name to their problem or opportunity.
  • Decision: In the decision stage, a person has defined their solution strategy, method, or approach.

To help you map out content topics by buyer persona and lifecycle stage, we’ve put together a simple grid system.

Contentmappingchart1 768x442

Your buyer persona (plus a key problem or opportunity that persona needs help with) goes on the y-axis, while the three lifecycle stages are fixed on the x-axis.

Here’s a blank template, use a new blank template to map out content for each problem or opportunity that your buyer personas need help with.

Content Mappingblank Chart

Here is an example of how to fill out the Content Mapping form.

Persona: Jimmy Gym Owner

Problem or opportunity: Jimmy is new to gym ownership. He needs to buy some gym equipment, but is unsure where to begin, how much he should spend, etc.

Awareness Content ideas:

  • Beginner’s Guide to Buying Gym Equipment [Ebook]
  • New or Used: When to Stretch Your Gym Equipment Budget & When to Splurge [Infographic]

Consideration Content Ideas:

  • Gym Equipment Budget Template [Excel spreadsheet]
  • Purchasing Timeline for Gym Equipment: What Should You Buy First? [PowerPoint worksheet]

Decision Content Idea:

  • Request a quote
  • Phone assessment of equipment needs

Here is an example of what your Content Mapping form should look like filled out.

Content Mapping Chart Filled Out

Blogging

Companies that blog 15 or more times a month get 5x more traffic than those that don’t. Moral of the story? If you care about traffic and leads, you need to care about blogging and content creation. And it’s not a matter of simply “doing it whenever you can.” Companies that increase their monthly blog post count from 5 to 8x per month double their lead generation. Frequency matters!

You’ve probably seen the stats: Businesses that regularly blog receive 55% more web traffic and 70% more leads than those that don’t. Why? Because blogs are like chum for Google and other search engines. They’re the bait that reels in customers when they’re searching the Web for the products and services that you offer.

But blogging is more than that. Frequent blog posts on your specialty will enhance your reputation and make you a recognized expert in your field. Not only will customers and clients be impressed, you’ll likely see your blog cited by other bloggers. Even traditional news reporters will be calling you. Blog and they will find you. That’s how inbound works.

Journalistic Copy

Journalism used to be about smoke-filled rooms with scholars banging away on typewriters. The sound of the carriage returning for the start of a new line drowned out only by the ringing of the telephone with the latest story to be told. In 2013, however, with declining newspaper and magazine subscriptions, and fewer jobs, we ask, “where have all the journalists gone?”

They’ve found new homes in the world of inbound marketing. Never before has storytelling played such a critical role in the success of a company’s marketing strategy. With so much information available to us all the time, it’s the brands that create an experience through storytelling that ultimately win with consumers. Journalists are still here. Many of us have simply moved our bylines to our own blogs or entered the marketing forum.

Visual Content

Visual content has to convey an idea at a glance. It also has to raise enough emotion that the person seeing it will share it. Think of Someecards, meme’s or infographics — have you ever shared one of these on your Facebook or LinkedIn pages. Visual content has to stand on its own, without keywords, to do this it has to:

  • Ring true with your audience
  • Have an element of humor, surprise or even anger
  • Your company has to have an open social business culture

A social business understands that when it has employees who will contribute company content through external and internal engagement, inbound marketing comes naturally. This raises customer expectations, employee productivity, and innovation. In turn, the transparency in which a social business operates its brand(s) positions it better to spark visual content through social channels.

Dynamic Content

Dynamic content is content that caters specifically to the viewer, letting you provide relevant information whether they’re a prospect, lead, or even a returning customer. As a result, it provides the opportunity for you to be a champion of “context” — providing the right content at the right time.

Dynamic content is an extremely important component of inbound marketing. As marketers, we want to make sure we’re reaching the learners at the Top of the Funnel (ToFu), shoppers in the Middle (MoFu), and buyers at the bottom (BoFu), and provide the right content or calls-to-action to nurture them into customers and evangelists.

Dynamic content lets us reach each of those types of viewers with the right content, at the right time. We make the entire buying cycle more efficient whenever we use dynamic content.

Website Design

HTML

HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language. This is the markup/code behind= the scenes of wepages that tells browsers how to interpret words/images and display them accordingly. HTML has a set standard structure with an entire webpage enclosed between <HTML> and </HTML>, with two distinct sections <HEAD> and <BODY>. This is a standardized code used to generate what you see on various Web browsers. You could say this is one of the most important aspects of inbound marketing!

Without HTML, you would not be able to create the beautiful websites, email templates, landing pages, blog articles, etc., that you rely on to attract visitors to your site, convert leads, and close customers. If the internet only displayed items as text, the world would be a pretty dull place.

HTML also plays a vital role in your overall organic discovery effectiveness. Search engines heavily rely on the proper structure of HTML variables/tags, the content within these tags, and the speed at which it takes to load this code into web browsers, as factors in determining when and where webpages show up in search results.

Responsive Design

Responsive design allows visitors from different types of devices to view websites effectively. The layout and orientation of website elements shift and format for easy viewing on a PC, laptop, tablet, or smart phone. The images and content will shrink and tile from three columns, to two, to a singular column of content as your website automatically identifies the screen resolution of the visitor’s viewing device.

Responsive websites are critical to inbound marketing efforts as more and more traffic is coming from tablets and smart phones. Without responsive design, calls-to-action are difficult to read and click, costing clients valuable conversion opportunities. Great responsive design should prioritize offer display to maximize conversions of leads for all viewing devices.

XML Feed

An XML feed is a plain text version of your website pages that’s perfect for sharing between other applications and using on other websites. Ever noticed a dynamic weather widget on a news website? Chances are, it’s fed by an XML feed. Ever subscribed to a blog’s RSS feed? That’s XML in action!

When someone includes your XML feed on their website, your content becomes visible to an entirely new audience — theirs! Clicking on any of the links in the feed brings them right to your website. This allows more traffic to come in, making your reputation as a reliable and valuable resource more credible. A more common use of XML feeds is to allow subscribers to your blog to receive an email notification every time you publish a new post. Services such as FeedBurner let you see how many subscribers you have and how many of them are clicking on the links in the emails they receive, so you can see what resonates with your audience. These constant reminders of your outstanding content keep you top-of-mind and your readers primed for your marketing messages.

Social Media

65% of companies report that they have acquired a customer through LinkedIn; 52% of companies report they’ve acquired customers through Facebook, and 44% have acquired customers through Twitter Platforms. Like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are powerful ways for businesses to drive traffic, convert new leads and acquire customers.

The New Reality of Selling (it’s Social) It’s impossible to ignore the impact

It’s becoming almost impossible to ignore the impact social networks are having on sales. Much of the face-to- face networking that took place at trade shows and conferences are now happening online, and many introductions are happening via social connections.

The reality is, salespeople who ignore social networks are not going to scale their businesses as effectively as they could.

#1 Addressing Changing Buyer Behavior

Researching a purchase used to be remarkably time consuming, especially in the business-to-business world. The Internet and professional networks like LinkedIn have changed this for good.

Now, when a prospect is considering making a purchase, he can find out everything there is to know with a few keystrokes. That’s why, according to a 2012 Corporate Executive Board report, 57% of every buying decision is already made before there is any sales rep involvement.

Plus, buyers no longer have a compelling reason to take a salesperson’s call during their research phase. A recent IBM Preference Study showed that cold calls are ineffective 97% of the time, and this number has been increasing by 7% every year since 2010.

It’s in the space between quantity and quality of information that social selling can give you a tremendous advantage. Social selling lets you provide the right information at the right times.

Sales reps on average have to generate 70% of their own sales leads if they want to achieve their goals.

#2 Sales Reps Owning Their Lead Generation

There is often a strict division between marketing and sales when it comes to revenue responsibility. Despite recent advances in the effectiveness of marketing, a recent study conducted by CustomerThink determined that on average, marketing is still only responsible for 30% of lead generation for sales.

LinkedIn helps remove that divide by enabling sales professionals to access a network of more than 200 million members who generate over 2 billion status updates per week. You’re now able to identify and engage with more prospects than ever before.

#3 Identifying the Right People in Target Organizations

Building out a target account list is time consuming and difficult. Even after your accounts are identified, which people should you approach within?

Enter social selling.

LinkedIn enables you to take a personalized approach to prospecting within the massive universe of 200 million members on the platform.

For example, leverage powerful search capabilities within 1st and 2nd degree connections to find a starting point for your reach-out efforts. Search by geography, title, and most importantly, your relationships to prospects within your professional network.

Social selling on LinkedIn changes the game from a cold numbers approach to a high quality, low-volume, trusted approach. Leverage personal relationships within your professional network to drive sales results.

#4 Unlocking the Power of Connections to Access New Accounts

Personal connections on LinkedIn are the best way to build a pipeline full of people most likely to turn into new customers.

  • A warm referral increases the odds of a sales success 2x-4x;1 and
  • 53% of sales professionals have received introductions to new opportunities from their coworkers.

Easily prompt introductions on LinkedIn to key decision makers from people who know and trust you. Tap into your entire network of contacts to uncover opportunities.

To understand spheres of influence of your buyers, try to determine if you’re connected to people in their networks.

Back when many businesses had a command-andcontrol management structure, reps could squeak by. But in the current “decision by committee” environment, ignoring ancillary decision makers and influencers is a recipe for disaster.

#5 Taking Advantage of Team Buying

While there is often one final decision maker, there are almost always other influencers in a major purchase that make the difference as to whether or not it ultimately happens.

A 2012 survey of B2B buyers conducted by Demand Gen Report uncovered that…

  • Buyers who say they involve more team members in the buying process jumped by more than 67% over a similar 2011 study; and
  • 50% more decision makers seek the input of more internal members during the decision making process, compared to 30% of buyers surveyed in 2011.

With social selling on LinkedIn, you can easily enact a “multi-thread strategy” by targeting the primary decision maker and identifying the influencers connected to that buyer.

Back when many businesses had a command-and-control management structure, reps could squeak by. But in the current “decisionby- committee” environment, ignoring ancillary decision makers and influencers is a recipe for disaster.

#6 Identifying the Right Topics to Talk About

Above all else, sales is about establishing relevance. If you could somehow ensure that you’d be in front of people at the exact moment they needed to solve the precise problems that your product addressed, you’d close deals 100% of the time.

Social selling on LinkedIn gets salespeople closer to this than ever before.

Establish yourself as a “social citizen.” Regularly interact socially on LinkedIn, where people who make decisions in your target industries spend time and explore solutions to their most pressing challenges.

Active social citizens receive a steady stream of information about what is top-of-mind for the decision makers in their networks.

Buyers expect you to be prepared before the meeting. Even if that just means a quick glance at their LinkedIn profile.

#7 Driving Business Results

Social selling allows modern reps to combine the best of building relationships and providing thought leadership to drive deals.

Take Jill Rowley, Eloqua’s top salesperson. When she began using social selling, her numbers went through the roof.

“Everyone I meet I add on LinkedIn,” Rowley says. “Before a meeting, I’ll look up each person and find one piece of information I’ll relate to them with so that I’ll stand out from the crowd. They’ll remember meeting me.”

Eloqua has seen significant business as a result of adopting social selling using LinkedIn Sales Navigator, including:

  • Increased conversion rates of leads to opportunities by 25%;
  • Increased more than 15% of reps exceeding sales quotas; and
  • Had average sales cycle time decrease of 20 days.

Effective use of sales intelligence increases revenue productivity per sales rep by 17%. With social sales intelligence, you can reach buyers at exactly the right moment.

Facebook

With more than 1 billion active users on Facebook, there’s no denying that this social networking site is a viable place to attract potential customers. On your page, you can post interesting photos or engaging posts. Your goal is to build a community where you can interact and build relationships. Whether it’s with your college roommate or a contact you met at a networking event, you never know where your next new business lead will come from.

Facebook and inbound marketing go hand in hand. By posting regular status updates on your page with teasers enticing your community to click on the provided link, you can drive traffic back to your website. You can also easily promote your most recent blog post and post a link to the full entry – another way to drive traffic back to your site. In addition, you can use Facebook to promote your calls-to-action (CTAs), which will enable you to build up your email list and bring your potential customers down the sales funnel.

Google

Google has evolved from a 1996 research project into the world’s most visited website with more than five billion searches every day. Providing the most relevant search results to users fuels its massive growth. Google monetizes this huge stream of traffic with pay-per-click advertising (AdWords) placed next to organic results.

Most recently, recognizing the impact of social media, Google started its own social network — Google +.

We earn our audience’s attention with compelling content. It’s our job to get it discovered in search engine page results whenever people search for a solution to a problem that we provide. Doing that effectively today means also sharing content on social networks where people who’ve chosen (how nice of them!) to stay in contact with us.

And because Google now also looks at our content post’s popularity on social networks as a way to determine what to include in its SERPs, we rejoice because we’ve been doing things the right (even if more difficult) way all along. It’s up to us to convert strangers into customers and promoters of our businesses. Google’s reach and widespread popularity helps us do just that.

Pinterest

Pinterest is the rapidly growing social media platform that allows its users to collect and share images. Until recently, marketing strategies used advertising that targeted a passive audience. Pictures were interspersed within the magazines we read, sing-song mnemonics frustrated our enjoyment of music on the radio, and television advertisements aggravated us until we left the room for a snack.

Marketing has changed and Pinterest is one of the disruptive technologies that lets users participate actively in the marketing medium. The pinnacle of branding is no longer about wearing a logo on your clothing. It’s now about gathering and creating visual content that represents you and sharing that content with your peers.

Twitter

Twitter is changing the world. Never before has information spread so quickly across the globe. The real-time microblogging service set itself apart by limiting posts to only 140 characters. This quick, easy form of communication has limited the barrier to entry for digital communications, and made quick information broadcasts available to anyone. In addition to broadcasting, Twitter has also emerged as an incredible relationship builder. Its simple interface and limited options make replying to and sharing content incredibly simple.

Social media can be a great platform for large and small businesses alike to promote their brands and cultivate an audience. If used correctly, Twitter is a powerful tool that can help grow your business. People are looking for some type of value from the people and brands they interact with online. You can use Twitter to really get to know your clients and prospects. Savvy companies are also building lists and engaging with their clients and prospects on Twitter. Staying in tune with your audience is critical to inbound marketing.

YouTube

According to YouTube, more than one billion unique users visit YouTube.com and watch over six billion hours of video each month.

Of course a portion of those videos are of kittens and babies — however, people use the channel every day to search for content that helps solve their problems. Integrating video on YouTube into your inbound marketing strategy is a great opportunity to help reach your audience.

Most businesses mistakenly think that if their video is not “commercial” quality, their brands will not be represented appropriately. Oftentimes video content is perceived to be more approachable and genuine when a simple handheld camera, screencast or even an iPad is used to record solutions to your customer’s problems. We’ve seen a client (very small business) help answer common questions by using video and receive over 60,000 views for one video on their YouTube channel.