This Think Shift Academy webinar was be led by Eric Postma, Inbound Lead, and Kevin Gordon, Digital Marketing Lead.
But how do you create content that drives traffic to your website? How do you identify which visitors to your page are worthwhile leads? Is there a tangible way to measure the ROI of digital marketing? Think Shift’s Eric Postma and Kevin Gordon are here to help you answer these questions. Through this webinar, you will learn how inbound marketing, social media and digital marketing can drive new business for your organization.
Viewers of this recorded webinar will learn:
- How digital marketing strategies can help you track the ROI of marketing investments
- How to attribute sales to your specific actions on digital media
- The basics of inbound marketing, best practices and how it can drive your leads
- How marketing software (e.g. HubSpot) can provide customer insights to your sales team
- How social media can drive your leads through re-marketing and targeted ads
Eric Postma: Hello everyone, welcome to the first of the CAMA Digital Webinar Series. Today we’re talking about online lead generation and how you can make your website work for you. Just a couple of quick notes before we start. We’re going to have some time for questions at the end of the webinar, so if you want to ask a question just type it into the questions panel on your webinar panel there on the right side also. Also the webinar is being recorded, so you’ll receive a copy of the webinar by email in about 24 hours if you want to revisit some of this stuff.
My name is Eric Postma. I’m the inbound lead at Think Shift and I’m here with my colleague Kevin Gordon, the digital marketing lead at Think Shift. I’m going to speak for a while before turning the webinar over to Kevin. Think Shift, we’re an advertising agency and corporate culture consultancy. We have offices in Winnipeg and Portland. We help organizations change from the inside-out, creating connected clients, engaged employees and intentional leaders. There’s our three phases.
As indicated by the title, we want to talk about how you can use your website and other digital marketing tactics become powerful lead generation tools for your business. You’re probably here because you have faced maybe a couple of challenges. I’m going to talk about four challenges and maybe you connect with one of these.
Challenge number one: maybe you’re spending your resources on a website in social media, but you’re not really sure what the purpose is. You do a whole bunch of work, but you have no idea what the ROI of your efforts are because you haven’t been able to connect your website or your Twitter updates or your Facebook posts to specific sales. Are your actions actually increasing revenue? Maybe you haven’t even started with a Facebook page or a Twitter profile for your organization. Maybe your website hasn’t been updated in years, but you are hesitant to invest because you aren’t convinced of the return and those are fair concerns.
The other challenge is maybe you did spend a bunch of money on a brand new website and it looks beautiful. You launched it. You had a whole bunch of people start coming to your website. Your customers paid attention. Your website traffic just grew incredibly and then you hit a bit of a plateau. People stopped coming or more people stopped coming and you really need to find a new way to drive new traffic to your website.
The third challenge is you have noticed that the buying habits of your customers have changed. Consumers now have massive amounts of information at their fingertips. They can carefully research and consider all of their options before they make a decision. Before you relied on face-to-face meetings or a phone call, you built up your sales based on trust and relationships and now you face a problem: how do you build trust in relationships in an increasingly digital landscape?
The final challenge is maybe you do have the benefit of adding a massive email list or phone call list. People that have attended events or they purchased products from you in the past … Thousands of emails, phone numbers and you have no idea how you can prioritize who you should call first. Do you really know which of those individuals are actually ready to purchase?
This is the point of the infomercial where we change from black and white to color and I say something would help for the low price of $19.99, all of your problems can be solved. I’m kidding, of course, but we’re going to talk about how digital marketing strategies can help you track the ROI of your marketing investment, attribute sales to your specific actions, drive new website traffic, develop trust with your customers and, of course, generate new and better leads. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
What I’m talking about here is something called inbound marketing. I’m going to get into the nitty-gritty of what inbound marketing is. At its heart, inbound marketing is about combining content, text, time and nurturing leads. What does that mean? It’s about understanding who your customer is and using your website to provide the right content. I’m going to dig in and show you some examples as well.
Inbound marketing is about understanding who your customer is and about providing valuable educational content on your website, which attracts visitors and builds that trusting relationship with your ideal customers. Here we contrast inbound with outbound marketing.
Outbound marketing is the more traditional view of sales and marketing and advertising, where companies fight for attention and force their message on to their potential customers. Outbound is company-focused. It’s that cold calling. It’s the interruptive ads like TV ads or newspaper ads, radio ads. It’s very pushy and it’s about a company pushing its message on to potential customers.
By contrast, inbound marketing is very customer-focused. It’s about being found by your customers and meeting them on their terms. By providing content, you attract your customers to your website. They see value. They see you as a thought leader and now all of a sudden you have a good relationship built with your customers.
This here is something we call the inbound methodology and it might seem like a lot here. I’m going to walk through all of this. It’s the framework for understanding what inbound marketing is. This is how we attract strangers, convert visitors, close leads and delight customers. There’s four stages and I’m going to walk through what all of this is.
At the attract stage, strangers become visitors to your website. This is done by publishing content, mostly such as blogs. This content is carefully planned and written to be found by your potential customers. This is done with keyword research to understand what words and phrases your customers are searching, but it’s also by understanding your potential customers’ challenges. The goal is to be found as a valuable and trusted resource for information by your potential customers. That just gets people to your website.
In the convert stage, visitors, people on your website become leads. This is where we use a website, capture contact information. I’ll show some examples of this later on, but the idea is we have particularly valuable pieces of content like a white paper or an e-book or a webinar and they are gated behind a form. In order to access these pieces of content, your website visitors have to supply their name and their email address. Now all of a sudden we have transitioned from somebody that’s just a random person visiting your website to you have their name and their email address and they can engage with your content and now they are a lead.
At the close stage, leads become customers. Here we nurture the leads by tracking how they interact with your website. We feed them content to help them get closer to that purchase decision. I’ll show you some examples of that as well later on. Finally at the delight stage, this is where customers become promoters. Once the purchase has been made, we’re not done. We’re going to carefully monitor the customers and continue to provide valuable content tailored to their specific needs and you can turn those customers into promoters who spread the word about your organization.
A big part of inbound marketing hinges on content. In order to create content that attracts strangers, converts visitors, closes leads and delights customers, we need to understand our buyer personas and the buyers’ journey. Buyer personas. These are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer. It’s based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations and goals.
This includes demographic information like age, location, income, but it also includes psychographic information like what are their challenges, what keeps them up at night, what are they looking for, where do they get their information from, what are their goals, what are their objections? All of this information allows you to tailor your content to meet your customers’ needs.
In the other half of it, there’s buyer personas and then the buyers’ journey. The buyers’ journey, this is the path your customers take from awareness to consideration and finally decision. Understanding this buyers’ journey is understanding what the questions are your buyers are asking at each stage on their way to making a purchase decision. By knowing this you can create and promote relevant content that answers those questions and moves people closer to a purchase decision.
First at the awareness stage, the buyer is experiencing a problem or seeking an opportunity. They may not really know what the problem is. They are just experiencing certain symptoms. It helps if you think about this like a trip to the doctor. In the awareness stage, you go to the doctor and you say, “Doctor, I have a sore throat. I have a headache. My nose is all stuffed up,” and the doctor does some tests and takes a look at you and he says, “You have the flu.” Now you have a name to what your problem is.
At the consideration stage, the buyer has identified that problem or the opportunity. They put a name to it. In our case it’s the flu, and now they are researching the different approaches to solve the problem. Again, in the doctor analogy, the doctor says, “Well, you could go get some rest and hopefully your body just heals,” or the doctor could offer some flu medication or maybe some antibiotics if they think that would help. You weigh these different options. You consider the side effects and you make a plan of action of how you are going to get better.
Finally in the decision stage, the buyer has now decided on a potential solution and is identifying the list of possible vendors that could help with that solution. Again in the doctor analogy, you have decided that you are just going to rest and recover and take some pain relievers to help ease the symptoms and make yourself feel better in the meantime. Now you have to decide, is it Tylenol? Is it Advil? Is it a store brand before you finally choose what you actually buy? The choice might be affected by price, availability, effectiveness or maybe some other factors.
That was a very academic, high-level approach to inbound marketing and you might be asking how does all of this generate leads and what the heck do you actually mean, Eric? Well, that’s a great question. Let’s talk about lead generation. I’m going to show you some examples of inbound marketing in practice and this will give you an idea of how this helps us generate and qualify leads using your website.
By providing content that your potential customers find relevant and educational, you develop that trust. People look to you as a reliable resource for information. They look to you as thought leaders when it comes to your particular area of expertise and that content will drive more visitors to your website, which helps expose your brand to more people. That’s step one: getting people to your website. What does that content look like.
For the most part, that’s things like blog posts, but it can also include easily digestible pieces of content like videos, infographics and slide decks as an example. The purpose of this content is basically to get people in the door and you provide something that’s really easy to access, really easy to digest just to make that introduction, that online introduction between your organization and your potential customers.
At Think Shift, we write a number of blogs that are aimed at getting people to our site. We want to educate potential clients and showcase our unique approaches to some of their challenges. This is also something we do on behalf of some of our clients, but I’m going to show some examples from our website. This is just our blog page. We publish a lot of blogs on a lot of different problems and solutions that we address with our work. That’s step one: get people to your website.
How do we determine what content will drive traffic to our site? Well, it’s largely informed by our buyer personas. If we truly understand our customers’ goals, their challenges, their pain points, we can supply content that will satisfy and educate. If we understand the buyers’ journey, we can produce content that answers the unique questions our customers have at each stage.
We also look into keywords and key phrases to understand how our customers are searching on Google and we want to be able to answer their questions. We need to understand what they’re searching habits are like. Your potential customers are searching for answers on Google, content that is tailored to what their unique pain points and problems are. This will be relevant content to their searches and it will drive traffic to your website.
The second point is content that generates leads. Now we have people on your website, how can we put content on your website to get their contact information and get them closer to making a purchase decision? Gated content allows you to capture lead information on your website. Contact information like a name or email address, we call this the currency of inbound marketing. We provide value on our website and in exchange, we get an email address and a name.
Higher value pieces of content may be a white paper or a webinar or an e-book. These are gated by a form. In order for our customers to access these pieces of content they have to supply their name and their email address. A visitor might be reading one of our blogs and then they see something like this, a call to action with a button that says “read the white paper.” It will have some teaser text to explain what the white paper is about.
That brings them to a landing page and there’s a form on the landing page. This has some more information about the white paper. In this case it was agriculture and the digital revolution and it requires that the visitor fills out the contact information before they can access the white paper.
Then they are brought to another page where they can download the white paper. What we have done is we have provided some educational content. The customers see the value in that context and they access that piece of content in exchange for their name and email address and maybe some other contact information and now you have a lead, great. That’s what we are here for. The contact has some interest in what you are able to offer and the sales conversation can begin.
Let me take this lead generation to the next level with a tool like HubSpot. You may have heard of HubSpot. It’s a piece of marketing software that we use that tracks how our contacts are interacting with the website. It can provide valuable insights to our sales team and I’ll explain what that looks like.
Before contacting a potential customer, we can see what blogs, webpages, white papers, case studies and other pieces of content that user has visited. Here, this is from our portal. I used my colleague, Kevin’s contact as an example. We can see here just a list of all the emails we have sent him, all the websites he has visited, all the pages he has visited on our website, all of the white papers he has tried to access and every way he has interacted with our website.
Imagine if you are a sales team had this information? If before they contacted a potential customer, they already knew that customer had read a blog that outlined their problem, they read a white paper that talked about the potential solutions, and attended a webinar that explained how to implement those solutions.
In addition, what we can do is flag certain leads to engage with certain parts of the website. For example here, if Kevin downloaded a certain white paper, we could flag that and send it to a sales rep or if he read a pricing page or a case study, we can likely assume Kevin is ready to make a purchase decision, so our sales guys can go and contact him and prioritize him. As you can see with inbound marketing, we’re not only using our website to generate leads, but we’re also using content to qualify and nurture those leads.
That’s what also lets us take it even further. This is a Spinal Tap reference, for those that wanted to know. We’re going to take it to 11. First of all, progressive profiling. What that means is we can ask a different set of questions the next time a lead fills out a form. Kevin filled a 1-1, a white paper. We got his name and his email address. The next time he wants to read a white paper, we can automatically ask for his phone number or the company he works for and slowly we can build out his contact profile as he interacts with our website even more.
We can also integrate our email marketing so that we know what emails are being sent to each of our contacts and how they are interacting with those emails, whether they open or click them. We can include automations that certain tasks like emails are sent automatically based on certain actions. Kevin looks at a website or a webpage. Five days later we send him an email that says, “Hey, maybe you are also interested in this piece of content?”
We can also add smart content that changes what the content is that’s presented on a website based on previous actions so that they are not presented with the same piece that they have already engaged with. If they have already downloaded a white paper, the next time they come to our website they are going to be pushed to a webinar instead.
We can add personalizations. The emails, forms and calls to action all have that personal touch. We can also integrate social media so we can track how our actions on social media are influencing the buyers’ journey. It might seem like a lot. That was a really high level, inbound marketing teaser. I’m going to turn things over to Kevin now who is going to go over how he can push this even further by using social media and other digital marketing tactics to generate leads, Kevin.
Kevin Gordon: Hey thanks, Eric. What Eric was talking about was a way to use inbound marketing and a lot of our different tools to drive your leads. One thing that’s really cool is we can drive leads from social media. A lot of people tend to forget or they think social media is still just more of a toy not a business tool. But social media sites like Facebook and Twitter realized just how viable information they have on their members are to people like us.
Both Facebook and Twitter have lead generation capabilities built right into it that flow into tools like HubSpot or Salesforce or other marketing software such as MailChimp, where somebody completes a lead form on Facebook and that information just magically appears in the rest of your systems.
This is important because if anybody in the audience has looked at your Google Analytics, you might think traffic from social media sites generally has a very high bounce rate, talking about 80% – 90% and it’s true. It’s even the worse for mobile. The reason why is most people who access social sites like Facebook and Twitter do so on a mobile device, but it’s 30 times easier to complete a form built into Facebook or Twitter on your mobile phone, than it is to do so on your website. The barrier to entry is people just don’t want to fill out forms on their mobile phone, but services like Facebook make it really easy because …
Here is an example. Somebody sees your ad on Facebook and it could be in Think Shift’s case we’re doing this for a webinar we’re running on the 23rd on agriculture and digital. If somebody sees the ad for the webinar and they click on it, they will be prompted to fill their contact information. Of course, Facebook already knows their name, their email address, their phone number, the company they work for and a whole bunch of other information. Facebook is going to bring up a pre-populated form and all the user has to do is hit the submit or okay button to send that information off.
Again, that information flows automatically into your HubSpot or other marketing tools, but the user ends up on your website anyway so it’s the best of both worlds. You get their contact information without the person really having to do much work and they get to see your website and the other content you wanted them to see on your destination URL.
That takes away the barrier to entry and it makes it a lot easier. Now why we pitch social media as a great way to market your content is it allows for hyper-target, persona-driven content. Both Facebook and LinkedIn allow us to target content to people by demographics, geographics, the industry they work in, the companies they work for, their job titles. LinkedIn takes it a step further and allows us to target based on job function, seniority within a company, a company’s size, company revenue and a whole bunch of other great things.
If you’re looking to expand your reach, especially that awareness stage, it makes sense to take the personas that Eric was talking about earlier and turn them into targetable content on social media so an ad or a content piece would be shared to the correct audience. It becomes more of a cart before the horse sort of thing when it comes to whether you should be doing paid advertising, which is that push approach versus inbound marketing as a pull approach. The reality is you do have to continue to do both, at least in the early stages of your campaign to get them in the funnel because if nobody knows who you are to begin with and you have a low-ranking Google site because [inaudible 00:23:05] … and a whole plethora of other information. When you’re looking at your personas, you can actually turn that into targetable information online.
Which takes us to the next part: tying in ads the smart way. Online advertising has become really sophisticated over the past couple of years and it changes so rapidly and in mind boggling ways that you can’t help but stare at awe at just how cool it is. I’m sure everybody here have seen … I’m sorry. I just actually jumped ahead there.
We talked about the stages of the buyers’ journey a little bit earlier, awareness, consideration and decision. This isn’t just something that Think Shift or HubSpot or big marketing agencies use as terms. They are things that Google and Facebook and Twitter also use. When you buy an ad on Facebook, you are asked are you doing an awareness consideration or a conversion ad? If you are buying an ad on Google, are you building awareness, influencing consideration or driving action? Similarly on Twitter, they ask similar things but a little bit lesser: are you promoting your website or driving a conversion? All this is designed around making sure your marketing dollars when invested online in digital are working for you not against you. Again, awareness stage ads feed consideration stage ads, which feed decision stage ads and that all ties into this great technology called remarketing.
Remarketing plus social media equals better leads and here’s why. Let’s say somebody sees your blog post or a link to a webinar on Facebook. They come to your website, but they take no action. Well, they saw the awareness piece content on Facebook. That was a hook to get them to your website, but again for one reason or another they just chose not to register. That information flows into HubSpot or other marketing automation tools and now that HubSpot knows that that person exists, we don’t know who they are yet because they haven’t told us, but we know they viewed your website.
That also triggers conversion pixels for Google and YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook and any other ad network you participate in to now show consideration stage ads. You might say, “Well, what’s the top 10 things I should be doing digitally today?” You see in that ad. Now we know you are interested in doing things different digitally. Now the consideration communication piece, whether it’s an article or a video or another piece of content gets served up to that person where it says, “You need to register for this webinar or this event because space is limited.” “It’s free.” “Here’s additional value.” “Here’s additional content that will help push them along the buyers’ journey.”
They come back the second time and now they are in the consideration stage, but they have moved a little bit further so now we can show them decision stage advertising. We can push them along the buyers’ journey however that makes sense. This is just a really cheesy graphic that I’ve made and I apologize. I’m not a graphics designer, but if somebody sees an ad in the awareness stage or a piece of content in the awareness stage and they take no action, they will continue to see messaging for the awareness stage until we deem that the person is definitely not interested and we just take them out of seeing the ads.
If the person moves into the consideration stage, they will continue to see consideration content, blog posts and white papers and banner ads and videos that support the consideration of your product or service. After they come back and they move more to the decision stage, they will continue to see decision stage messages continuously until they either make a purchase or a conversion or we deem they are not going to move forward and we drop them from the funnel.
This also creates mirror audiences, where Google, Facebook and Twitter will use the information based on who’s viewing your website to help hone in your communication strategy. Everybody online leaves a digital footprint. Every website you go to has pixels installed for Google and probably Facebook. If you have ever seen a website that has a Facebook share button or a “like this” or a “retweet this,” then those websites are tracking your behavior say with Google.
Despite what our moms have told us, we’re not unique snowflakes and we’re not special in terms of online marketing. You know this because you have created personas for your customers and your clients. You have grouped them together based on “like” data, like segmentation and behaviors. Well, that information can be fed on platforms to help narrow down your search for customers and clients.
We know that, for example, Kevin Gordon works here at Think Shift. Kevin’s a marketer. Well, they know that Kevin is a target persona based on his browsing habits, but they know other people, like Kevin, have similar browsing habits and they should see the same messaging. People like Kevin, who are more likely to convert, will see your message and this is automatic. This is a reinforcement of your personas.
You might say, “I really want to target people in the transportation industry who can help move our products around that are typically between the ages of 35 and 55 and typically visit websites like the Manitoba Trucking Association or Transport Canada or Tariffs and all that other stuff. Well, we know that based on those peoples browsing habits. There might be 10,000 people who match and then those are the pieces of content that they will see based on their personas.
As people take more actions on your website, we can develop both positive and negative personas, so we can say that the people in green are likely to make a purchase or fill out a conversion form or whatever we deem a desired action to be. People that are in orange are a subset of that who are really high value targets. These are the people that if you think of your 80/20 rule. These are the 20% of people that contribute to the 80% of your bottom line. Why not position content geared towards those people?
Online marketing, inbound marketing and everything we are talking about is about being found by the right people, at the right place, at the right time of their buyers’ journey. It’s not about what you want to publish as a company. It’s not about what you think is important. It’s about what they think is important. It’s about making sure your content resonates with them.
All this data continuously reinforces your personas. As people convert on your website, it trains Google and Facebook and all the other networks and HubSpot that these are the types of people we want to target. Instead of having to click through rate online of your content of 1%, you might start seeing click through rates of 2% or 3% or 4% because now the content is geared towards the people that it’s meant for and it just works.
All this is done, from a more technical standpoint, this is all done through really fancy tracking pixels on websites. This is something that if you are not already doing, you need to have your webmaster’s install tracking pixels for Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the marketing automation platform like HubSpot. If you don’t install these tracking pixels on your website, nothing we have talked about will work. It’s something that’s really easy to do, but everything is powered by these tracking pixels.
While we give Google and Facebook and all these big companies the ability to track our users on our websites, the benefit to you is you know what they are doing, you know how they are using your website and you are able to provide a little bit of extra value in your marketing. Which brings me to this point: data is sexy. As a marketer, your job is to create ROI for your company. If you are not looking at the data that’s freely available to you from again, companies like HubSpot, Facebook, Google, Twitter and LinkedIn, you’re not able to adjust, enhance and measure how your content is working.
Earlier Eric mentioned HubSpot allows you to track who is using your website by name, what pages are doing, what emails are opening, what links are downloading. By contrast, Google Analytics does not. Google Analytics only tells you the aggregate of who is using your website and Google’s policies prevent you from feeding in information that makes anybody identifiable through their platform. If you really want to be intentional about your marketing, you need to know who is browsing your website and when so you can make adjustments.
If you find that all of your visitors are coming from Facebook, then maybe that’s a great content strategy is to write more Facebook. But if you find in this example here, and this is a real screenshot from one of the campaigns we ran, how Facebook is 25 times higher than Twitter. If we saw that all of our leads were coming from Facebook that means we can spend less time investing on Twitter.
We also know things like the top of pages. What content pages are people viewing on our websites by time of the day, by day of the week, by month? We need to know … Sorry, I just got a message that you might be having trouble hearing me, so I’m just going to move the microphone a little bit closer here, so I just apologize about any noise that you might hear from me shuffling the electronics around.
But you need to know what pages on your website people are looking at. Is there a specific article or a specific product that people are looking at? Are they spending a lot of time on the page? What’s their bounce rate? High bounce rates in this case the first one, it has a bounce rate of 91.1%. That means that 91% of the people who visited this page, visited this page and did nothing else. They didn’t fill out a form. They didn’t view a second page. They just left. That could be an indication the content you wrote is not working. If people are not engaging with your content, things need to be removed, other things need to be added.
But the biggest benefit to making sure you are staying on top of your numbers, making sure you are looking at your content, is if you wrote an article and it’s not converting, it’s not getting any clicks, it’s not getting any sort of uptake that can actually hurt your search engine optimization and your search engine position.
If Google sees that there is a lot of what they would deem as “poor quality content” on your website, which is measured by things like Google Chrome Browser, android phones and people that use them, as well as the tracking pixels we install on our websites, then Google will say, “Well, you know what? You are publishing a lot of fluff content or garbage,” and they are going to devalue you in search results.
Content that’s no longer performing, it might be a paper that’s two years old now, maybe it’s time to remove that from your website? Maybe it’s time to replace it with updated content? Because the worst thing to do is provide outdated content to your users and they know that it’s outdated content, which makes you look bad as well.
Part of your content strategy, part of your online strategy needs to be reviewing your analytics, whether it’s Google Analytics, whether it’s IBM Core Metrics, Facebook Analytics, Twitter, whatever that looks like you need to be looking at your analytics at least on a preferably weekly, but definitely monthly basis to make sure the information you are sharing with your users is resonating and to make sure people are going through the conversion funnel the way you intended.
Google Analytics has conversion funnel tracking capabilities. If that is set up properly, if you are using enhanced e-commerce or enhanced tracking, you can actually attract people through your website. Now again not by name, that’s something you can do with a tool like HubSpot, but it gives you a better idea of what’s working, what’s not working on your website at any given time.
We’re going now open it up to questions. I’m just going to open the question panel here on the WebEx. We might not have time to answer all the questions, so we’re going to try our best to get through them. The first question we got was when Think Shift generates the gated content, do you consider yourself a publisher or an agency?
Eric Postma: That’s a good question. I don’t know if we’d necessarily differentiate between publisher and agency with the gated content. If you’re really embracing the inbound methodology, then it all wraps up into one. As an agency if we really want to get the ideal customers, the right people coming to work with us, then what we need to do is we need to provide content they want. What I’m saying here is in order to do inbound marketing right, you have to think like a publisher, but in the end the purpose is to get leads. I don’t know. I don’t know if that’s really answers the question there, but we kind of do it both ways or think about it both ways.
Kevin Gordon: Yeah, further on that, when Think Shift does this for our clients, we do act obviously as an agency. We do help our clients with their content strategy to make sure we know how that flows into their buyers’ journey, how it supports their personas and ultimately how it’s going to generate leads for them.
Eric Postma: If you feel like we haven’t necessarily addressed a question, then put something in the chat there or another question then that clarifies it as well. I want to make sure we address what you are trying to get at there.
Kevin Gordon: The next question is what percentage of commercial farmers in Canada have Facebook and Twitter? As a population whole I’m not sure what that percentage looks like, but I can tell you there is a substantial number of commercial and professional farmers or agricultural people on Facebook, both in Canada and the US, and we frequently target.
We have pre-built lists at Think Shift when we do advertising and promotion for clients where we can target different agriculture professionals across Canada by job function, by type of farm, livestock verses in the ground, whether they are in Eastern Canada, Western Canada. We do have the ability to target on that.
I know specifically we just did a campaign in the states yesterday and I was able to target roughly 50,000 agriculture professionals in Canada on Facebook that would be considered higher level people. We’re talking CXOs level, director of VP and senior marketing managers and there’s about 50,000 of them we could target across Canada and the states as of yesterday. There is a large number of people that fit the agriculture demographic on Facebook and Twitter that we can target.
Eric Postma: I think we can add to that as well. I am relatively new at Think Shift actually. I have been here for a few months and I came in and I asked the exact same question like, “Oh, we’re really digital focused. Are farmers and growers really on Facebook and Twitter if that’s where we’re focusing?” and they are.
I was trying to find our stats on that, but we do have statistics and maybe I can follow-up if we want with some of that. It’s representative of the larger population as far as percentages of people on Facebook and Twitter, that as equally they are there as well. They are using social as much as any other population is so not to discount it because they are farmers or something.
Kevin Gordon: Yeah, what we are finding is as cell phone coverage gets better across Canada, especially in rural areas, the number of ag producers are skyrocketing on social media and online in general because up until a few years ago you may have had no cell phone reception or really poor quality Internet in the rural communities, but that’s changing now with 4G and LTE Internet and everybody has access.
Farmers in their fields…We have developed apps for our clients where it gives farmers tools while they are in the middle of their field to know how their crops are performing, some of the trial data and any other information that our clients wanted. We do have farmers that are way more connected today than they used to be.
Another question we got was do we have age demographics on farmers on Twitter and Facebook? The short answer is yes, we do. We don’t have that readily available, but if you’d like to explore the types of people that are on Facebook or Twitter and LinkedIn when it comes to agriculture, contact us at the end of the webinar off-line and we can definitely help you explore that. What about the privacy challenges? That’s a great question. Under the Council of Legislation, Canada’s anti-spam laws, they consider the agent that’s considered a commercial electronic message to be something you have to get permission to send and the law is constantly changing.
When it comes to conversion forms, if you check out the Think Shift website, you will notice while we collect names and other contact information for the sole purposes of the event or whatever we’re trying to promote, we always have a checkbox that says “I consent for to receiving communication messages from Think Shift.” You always have to have that checkbox where you’re collecting information in a web form if you intend on sending the person communications that are not related to their specific requests.
When you registered for this webinar today you would have gotten a confirmation email back from CAMA saying “Thank you for your registration.” That is allowed under the legislation because it’s directly related to an action you chose to take and that you requested. But if also you started receiving emails from CAMA for different purposes and you did not expressly check mark the box saying “I consent to receiving commercial electronic messages,” then that’s where things get a little bit gray.
Another question regarding is there are blocking programs that block trackers. How do you deal with that? The short answer is we really can’t. If people choose to install blockers on their browser like Ad Blockers or Ghostery that’s something the person is going to do and unfortunately there’s nothing we can do to get around that because they have purposely disabled their tracking pixels.
The vast majority of users will not have those things installed, especially in a corporate environment because most computers and software on those computers are dictated by the IT department, so it’s really hard to not install ad blockers or other third-party software. From a commercial standpoint, it’s probably not a large percentage of the population that you’re going to have to worry about.
Eric Postma: I think, too, this is Eric again, even without necessarily a tracking function a lot of what we have talked about, by providing content that customers see as valuable if they are using an incognito window on Chrome or something where or this Ghostery, other things that prevent us from tracking, at the very least they are engaging, even though they are snowing it, they are engaging with our website, with our content and that they have some interest in it. We may not be able to reach out to them and say, “Hey, do you want to talk with us about something?” but they are still being nurtured along the buyers’ journey towards a purchase decision and when they are ready they will reach out.
Kevin Gordon: Yeah, so the next question we got is how are you charging for the service as an agency? Are you charging per lead?
Eric Postma: For the inbound side of things I will speak to. It depends on the client. We have some clients we work on a retainer basis where we do everything for them, where we do all the onboarding, but then we create content on their behalf, manage the whole process, do the reporting and however many leads they get. Other that, they are theirs and it’s up to their sales team to deal with.
We don’t have anything that structured on a per lead basis, but there’s others, too, where we just base it on a single campaign. Inbound marketing is part of the campaign that a client might be running for the month of June and we run it that way. None of it is structured per lead at all. It’s structured mostly on the content we create and the work we put into it.
Kevin Gordon: When it comes to the social side as well, we typically go on a retainer or a project-specific fee structure, but we are open to alternative fee arrangements with clients. We have some clients where we are working on a success fee model, but that is something that we discuss on a per client basis if we feel that it’s a right fit. We are open to working with people depending on what works best for everybody.
Eric Postma: I agree, too, again leads are obviously our end goal, but there are other things you achieve in the process to get those leads. There are things like the awareness you get from having more people see your content and read your blogs and look at white papers so you might not necessarily have certainly leads, but sometimes people just want increased brand awareness in Canada, so the blogging achieves a big part of their goals.
Kevin Gordon: Another question we have is other than HubSpot, who else is leading the way for suppliers?
Eric Postma: Yeah, I’ll take that again. HubSpot is definitely the leader. I think something like over 70% of people that are using marketing automation software are using HubSpot. There are others on the market that try to do similar things. Salesforce has something called marketing cloud/pardot. It’s kind of the same thing or pardot is part of marketing cloud. It can do a lot of the stuff that HubSpot can, so that’s one. Marketo is another one that does it, try to think of some other ones?
Kevin Gordon: Yeah, there’s a lot of companies that are trying to push the inbound envelope. Honestly, when we started going down the inbound road about a year and a half ago, we researched everything that was on the market to date and HubSpot by far was the largest and most sophisticated platform.
The fact it does your email communications for you, your mailing list, it has the gated content functionality, it’s directly tied into social media, content flows between HubSpot and CRM systems like Salesforce and platforms like Facebook. It’s the most integrated platform on the market and they do have a new feature coming out in HubSpot for advertising that now ties into your Facebook and Google, LinkedIn and Twitter ads directly into a single platform managed through HubSpot. It’s just a really nice platform. It’s easy to use and you don’t have to be overly technical to do it.
We chose HubSpot for those reasons, but there are definitely others out there and HubSpot might not be the right fit for your company, but it is one of the better options and we very much enjoy and see the value of the HubSpot platform and methodology.
We have one last question here and then I’ll just refresh and see if anything else came in is, is it important to ensure my ads are re-market around content related to running a commercial farm? I’m going to say how important is it? That depends on your strategy.
The reality is if somebody lands on your website and they read an article, there’s probably some interest there, so you want to re-market people to come back. You don’t want them to be a one-hit wonder and just disappear. What you want to see in your Google Analytics is a percentage of returning customers to go up over time as the percentage of your whole traffic.
Remarketing is definitely important because it helps keep people engaged, but also making sure the stages of the buyers journey based on the content they read on your website is important to the remarketing as well. If somebody sees, they read an article on your website for maybe it’s issues with disease in Canola and then they start seeing ads for growing oats in Manitoba, but they are in Ontario or it’s soybeans or whatever it might be, if you are serving them ads that are irrelevant to the content they read, there’s going to be a disconnect there and that’s going to cause problems. We always have to make sure that the re-marketed ads are related to the content that people are specifically looking for.
I just got the heads up that we have time to answer a few more questions here. I’m just going to see where we left off. Another question is at the end of the day how do you measure ROI, especially in agriculture many companies rely on retailers to complete the sale rather than their own sales force?
Eric Postma: Yeah, that’s a great question and we work with companies that have that exact same structure. A lot of them structure it in that the retailers are the customers in this point. We can track what the sales are like for that particular retailer and attribute it that way. What we can do, too, is if the retailer has a website we can track how many customers are coming from that particular retailer. If they’re pushing to our content, then we can say that this retailer in whatever town in Ontario pushed a certain amount of customers and contacts and leads towards our website, so now we can attribute those leads to that retailer. It’s a little bit tricky as far as doing it, but there are attribution models to figure out where the links are coming from and where they are going to.
There are other methods we have used as far as attributing geographic leads to a particular retailer. If a lead comes in with a certain postal code, then we’re going to push that lead to the retailer to make the final sale and then we can track the ROI on that. A lot of it requires working really closely with those retailers obviously and it requires that relationship. Depending on your company, that’s either done through a face-to-face contact between your sales reps and the retails or it’s again, you do the inbound marketing and your end customer is not the farmer, but it’s the retailer and it’s the same structure.
Kevin Gordon: Who are two B2B inbound case sizes that you recommend us to look up for independent learning after today? Honestly, HubSpot has a fantastic academy and a whole bunch of content and it’s free. If you go to Academy.hubspot.com, you can learn more about their platforms and they have a whole bunch of tutorial videos and free content you can learn more about inbound marketing. They have also got case studies. If you need help finding those, reach out to us off-line and we’ll be happy to send you some information we have on case studies. I’m going to give you a little bit more of insight as to what we’re working on here at Think Shift that ties directly to inbound.
That looks like all of the questions we have received. I’m just going to scroll down to the bottom to see if there’s anything else. It does not look like there are any other questions coming in. If there is something you didn’t ask or you want to ask, feel free to reach out to us off-line. We’ll be happy to share some time with you to answer your questions.
What’s next is Think Shift is hosting a webinar on February 23 on Why Agriculture Gets a Failing Grade in Digital? Pacing the link to the registration in the chat window, where you can see just a brief description up there. The webinar is free of charge. It will be hosted by our president, Dave Lazarenko and it’s something if you already trust in agriculture and you are interested in digital marketing, it’s probably something you will want to just take a quick peek at. I’m going to leave this slide up adjust for another couple seconds here and again, the URL is in the chat room.
Speaking of inbound marketing and tracking, I can actually see that two of you have clicked on a link and are currently on our website looking at this registration pitch. If I were to sit here long enough, I’d actually be able to see how many of you actually registered for the webinar as a result of that link. It’s something really cool that with inbound marketing and all the tools provided to you that you can make a really, really cool decisions based on the data we have. Sorry, where’s my mouse? There we go.
If you have any other questions, this is Eric and I, our telephone number, our email addresses and our extensions here at Think Shift. My extension is actually wrong. I didn’t proof the slide properly. It’s extension 269 not 259. Again, if you want to reach out to Kevin, extension 269 or just ask our receptionist, Meghan, to transfer you to me. I’ll be happy to assist you. If you have any other questions feel free to reach out to us off-line using the contact information there. I’m going to turn it back over to Melissa and Mary.
Eric Postma: I think actually that’s it for the webinar so thanks for joining us everybody and reach out if you have any questions.