How to Vet An SEO Agency (and Prevent Failure)

How to Vet An SEO Agency
(and Prevent Failure)


 Major Algorithm Updates, Explained 

Finding the right SEO provider is important. It also can be a lot of hard work. This is why vetting SEO agencies is so important. You want to make sure your SEO agency is:

  • Easy to work with.
  • Going to deliver real value to your business.
  • Consistent.
  • Knowledgeable about the industry.
  • Within your budget.

The stakes are high. In most cases, SEO can make or break your business. Choose the right SEO agency and your business could start generating more traffic and revenue than it’s ever seen. Choose the wrong SEO agency and it could lead you to failure. We’re talking wasted money, penalties, and countless lost opportunities (e.g., rankings, traffic, and revenues). Although there are many honest and reputable agencies to choose from, there are still a few scam artists and dishonest agencies looking to exploit unknowing businesses.

The SEO Agency Horror Show

As the head of an SEO agency, I’ve seen the success stories. It’s always great to see clients grow and succeed because it helps us take pride in our work and showcase what SEO can do for businesses. But I’ve also heard some horror stories. One frustrating aspect of being an agency is hearing stories from businesses that come to us wary and frustrated from bad experiences they’ve had with unreliable SEO agencies. In speaking with such clients, there seems to be a common crescendo that leads them to their unfortunate breaking point, and it goes like this:

A business decides SEO is the next step in their growth plan, so they seek out and speak with an agency about services. The agency sells them potential results of successful SEO and makes guarantees about what they can achieve for the business. The business thinks it sounds great and takes the agency at their word. Ultimately, the business signs a contract with the SEO agency and gets locked in for an extended period of time. Fast forward a year or two later, and some businesses find themselves drained of money with little to show for it, or in some cases, with penalties that have made their online performance worse.

Tips for Vetting SEO Agencies

The advice and questions that follow are what businesses absolutely must consider and ask while vetting SEO agencies from an actual SEO agency’s behind-the-scenes perspective.

Develop a List of Criteria

Having some criteria beforehand will make you think critically about your expectations, protect you from going in blindly, and keep you in charge of what you want.

Think about things like:

  • Budget.
  • Desired contract duration.
  • Whether you want a local service provider or if you’re OK with a remote agency.
  • Reporting frequency.
  • Any other potential deal breakers.

Talk to 3 Different SEO Agencies

It’s smart to talk to at least three SEO providers before you make a decision. Aside from this being a generally good idea for the sake of knowing all your options, it also helps give you some leverage for possible negotiations regarding prices, services, and contract stipulations.

Make a List of Interview Questions

Asking the right questions before signing a contract can prevent the majority of SEO horror stories. Have the questions ready to ask each agency you speak with, so later you can compare answers and have plenty of information to help guide your decision.

Chuck Reynolds
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Tips for Vetting SEO Agencies

Tips for Vetting SEO Agencies

Develop a List of Criteria

The advice and questions that follow are what businesses absolutely must consider and ask while vetting SEO agencies from an actual SEO agency’s behind-the-scenes perspective. Having some criteria beforehand will make you think critically about your expectations, protect you from going in blindly, and keep you in charge of what you want.

Think about things like:

  • Budget.
  • Desired contract duration.
  • Whether you want a local service provider or if you’re OK with a remote agency.
  • Reporting frequency.
  • Any other potential deal breakers.

Talk to 3 Different SEO Agencies

It’s smart to talk to at least three SEO providers before you make a decision. Aside from this being a generally good idea for the sake of knowing all your options, it also helps give you some leverage for possible negotiations regarding prices, services, and contract stipulations.

Make a List of Interview Questions

Asking the right questions before signing a contract can prevent the majority of SEO horror stories. Have the questions ready to ask each agency you speak with, so later you can compare answers and have plenty of information to help guide your decision.

Chuck Reynolds
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Questions to Ask an SEO Agency

Questions to Ask an SEO Agency

Any honest and well-established agency

will happily answer your questions and address the concerns or reservations you have about SEO. Pay attention to how receptive they are to providing answers. Most importantly, don’t sign a contract with an SEO agency without asking these questions first:

  • Can you guarantee that my site will have a top ranking position?
    • Start with this question, because it’s a quick way to weed out shady SEO agencies. Legitimate SEOs will never guarantee a client a top ranking position because they know there are no guarantees with SEO.
  • How do you handle penalized sites?
  • Does your agency ever deviate from Google’s best practices?
  • Has your agency ever bought links?
  • How do you build links and what kind of links do you build?
  • How many links can I expect to have built per month or over the duration of my contract?
  • How much on-page, off page, and technical work can I expect to be done and what specific practices do you do for each?
  • Which tools do you use to achieve results and carry out SEO services?
  • Do you edit and/or optimize existing content on my site?
  • Is any of the work or content outsourced? If so, who does it?
  • How does your team handle content strategy and development?
  • What will specific content pieces be done for my site?
  • How do you plan to optimize that content?
  • Do you have any examples of work you’ve done for a similar business?
    • Successful SEOs are quick to provide case studies or examples of other businesses they’ve helped, so if you hear “that’s classified” or “we don’t share the results of other clients” in response, be wary.
  • On average, when do your clients start to see results?
  • How many active client accounts do you have?
  • How many people on your team are working on them?
    • If an agency has 500 active client accounts and only 30 people on their team, chances are they’re either stretched thin at the expense of quality or outsourcing some of the work.
  • Do you work with businesses that would be considered competitors to mine?
    • This isn’t always a bad thing, but if a direct competitor hires the same SEO company and has a bigger budget, you could be in trouble.
  • How often do you run site audits?
  • What specific metrics do you track and report on?
  • How do you handle reporting and tracking of my account?
  • How often can I expect to receive reports and updates, and how will you communicate them to me?
    • Ideal answers to these questions will include information on conversions, rankings, traffic, campaign and outreach updates, etc. Most agencies provide clients with access to reporting software so they can view a dashboard with trackable metrics.
  • How many people will have access to our website?
  • What steps do you take to ensure the security of our website?
  • Will you be making changes to the structure, web design, or coding of our website? If so, is that handled in-house or outsourced?
  • Who would be my point of contact, and how can I contact them if I have questions or concerns?
  • Can I meet the people who work on my account?
  • What will you need from my end?
  • How much time per month is needed from our end?
  • Can you itemize the pricing package by specific services and hours spent working on each?
  • What separates you from other SEO agencies?
  • Overall, what results can I expect from my website?


A lack of preparation makes you susceptible to being taken advantage of dishonest and shady SEOs. Do your research and prepare beforehand so you can easily identify the right SEO agency when you find them, and from there they’ll help you determine the best strategies to address the needs of your business.

Chuck Reynolds
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

How to Create a Comprehensive Inbound Marketing Plan

How to Create a Comprehensive Inbound Marketing Plan

 Folks who live and breath inbound marketing

are all too familiar with the complexities involved in formulating a full-fledged inbound marketing strategy. Inbound marketing demands that you be more than a jack-of-all-trades handyman. Instead, you need to be a pro at dozens of specific skills – content writing, search engine optimization, social media, website design, conversion rate optimization, pay-per-click, email marketing, the list goes on.

As a result, when we assist marketers with inbound marketing strategy, the conversation often evolves into a discussion about building a marketing plan – how to prioritize, what to do, what not to do, what works best for specific business models and how to implement the proper infrastructure to facilitate inbound lead generation. Whether you’re launching a new startup company or looking for quick ways to revamp your enterprise marketing activities, a solid plan can make the difference between treading water and an achieving exponential growth. Following this guide will help you put the proper inbound marketing plan in place for your organization, prioritize each aspect of your strategy and focus on what drives the best results. In a world of instant gratification where there isn’t much time for planning so this guide is designed to help you really hit the ground running.

Define Your Buyer Personas

Where Buyer persona is the foundation of all things inbound marketing. Understanding exactly who you are marketing to, what makes them tick and how they communicate will help you craft messaging that truly resonates with your ideal customers. For those of you who are not familiar with the concept of a buyer persona, they are a fictional representation of your ideal customers. For instance, within your target market, there are likely numerous types of buyers. Your product or service may frequently be purchased by CEOs, Marketing Managers and Directors of Sales. Buyers in each of these roles have very different interests, priorities, and goals. Taking the time to define and understand the characteristic of each of your buyer personas will help you focus your content creation on topics that attract ideal customers.

Outline Your Marketing Triggers

Once you have identified who your ideal customers are and what makes their world go round, the next step is to identify the events and pain points that cause them to search for information about your product, service or industry. These events are known more formally as marketing triggers. Trigger-based marketing aims to meet potential customers at a point of need by being reactive, and targeted, rather than arbitrarily pushing out messages to big audiences.

Let’s consider the marketing triggers for an office furniture company. Office furniture is most often purchased by organizations that experience rapid company growth, geographic expansion, are undergoing building renovations, currently have outdated office furniture or just have the desire to stay up with new trends in office interior decor. Companies that experience any of these events may identify the need for new office furniture and begin to conduct research online. This is the perfect point in the purchase decision to provide a potential customer with a top-of-funnel offer that speaks to their needs and introduces the value of your product or service.

Create a List of Keywords

Now that you understand who your buyer personas are and what causes them to search for information, the next step is to figure out how people are searching for information about your product or service. Keyword research allows you to see the estimated search volume by location, how difficult it is to rank for certain keywords and estimate of the cost of purchasing search traffic through pay-per-click advertising. When creating a list of target keywords try to choose search terms with relatively high monthly search volume and a medium to low competition level. Google’s Keyword Planner is a great resource to quickly generate a list of relevant keywords and identify search terms that are in your sweet spot of competition and search volume.

Through this research, you can create a list of key terms and phrases to create content about. Crafting keyword rich content that speaks to the common questions that your buyer personas have when they encounter a marketing trigger ensures you are attracting the right people, at the right time, to your website.

Set Your Inbound Marketing Goals

The first step towards measuring the return on investment of your inbound marketing activity is identifying exactly what you want to achieve and when you expect to see the results. As outlined in the SMART Goal Framework, goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely. To set your inbound marketing goals, begin by assessing your website’s current ability to attract traffic, convert leads and close business. Some of the key performance indicators may include:

  1. Monthly unique website visitors
  2. Number of inbound leads / month
  3. Sources of traffic – PPC, SEO, Blogging, Social Media, Email

It can be helpful to create a series of scenarios and calculate the results for a number of potential outcomes. The following is a hypothetical example.

Tip: For a quick competitive analysis put your website and your key competitors into Marketing Grader. This tool reveals how your site stacks up against the competition in terms of filling the top-of-funnel with qualified leads and nurturing them into customers.

Outline Your Content Strategy

As we break down the inbound funnel you can see that leads typically fall into one of three stages:
Top-of-funnel Awareness:
leads at the top of the funnel are typically searching for general information about a subject
Middle-of-funnel Evaluation:
leads in the middle of funnel need to be introduced to your brand and learn what it is like to do business with you
Bottom-of-funnel Purchase Decision:
leads at the bottom of the funnel are most often looking for information that communicates the functionality and benefits of your product/service

The goal of top-of-funnel content is to attract as much awareness as possible and convert those visitors into leads. Social media, blog posts, videos, infographics and SlideShare presentations are all examples of top-of-funnel content that can easily spread amongst a large audience. Middle-of-funnel content begins to position your product/service. Branded webinars, case studies, free samples, catalogs, FAQ sheets, spec sheets or brochures can be used to effectively introduce your brand while providing value to the viewer. Leads at the bottom-of-funnel have shown signs that they are specifically evaluating your product/service. Sometimes these leads just need a little taste of what it is you have to offer – this might be a free trial, a live product demo, a discount or a complimentary assessment, consultation or estimate.

If you have great top-of-funnel content but you have nothing to offer leads in the middle and bottom of the funnel you won’t be very efficient at moving leads through the sales cycle. To identify where you may have obvious gaps in your content begin by evaluating your existing content and mapping it to each stage of the inbound funnel. Do your buyer personas have all the information they need at each point of the buying cycle? Understanding the questions, concerns, and objections that each of your buyer personas has, during the three stages of the inbound funnel will help your content strategy take shape.

Design Your Lead Nurturing Process

Some leads reach a decision to purchase a product or service much quicker than others. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but often the primary reason for a lead is to stall in the sales process is a lack of information. If a lead has unanswered questions, they are likely not ready to progress down the marketing funnel. The best way to reach out to leads and answer their questions is through a series of automated emails. Email automation gives leads a little nudge or reminder that you have valuable content available at their disposal. This encourages leads to re-engage with your content and move further down the inbound funnel.

The emails that you send to top-of-funnel leads should answer the most common questions that arise during your sales process. Once you have proactively reached out to answer these common questions, your leads will be better informed, more qualified and more receptive to accessing further information about your product or service. As leads progress to the middle of the funnel you can begin to position your product or service by delivering brand specific information. This might include a series of emails that address common questions and concerns about your business. Once a lead has acted on a bottom-of-funnel offer they are considered to be sales qualified. At this point, leads should be handed over to your sales team to be contacted directly and closed into paying customers.

Create a Conversion Focused Blogging Strategy

Conversion focused blogging strategies are designed to attract highly relevant traffic to your website with the goal of converting traffic into qualified leads. Each blog post supports an exclusive content offer by answering your buyer personas common questions and encouraging them to access your exclusive content. For instance, let’s think about our office furniture example.  If you write a top-on-funnel whitepaper about “The 10 Benefits of Open Concept Offices” you would then write a series of closely related blog posts that help attract traffic to that exclusive offer.
These might include:

  • Is Your Office Environment Crushing Creativity?
  • 4 Companies Leading the Open Concept Office Trend
  • 5 Design Trends Changing the Work Environment

Within each of the blog posts, you would feature a call-to-action to download “The 10 Benefits of Open Concept Offices” whitepaper.

Implement an Inbound Marketing Platform

While the bulk of the work in crafting an inbound marketing plan is routed, in strategy and content creation, the technology that facilitates inbound lead generation should not be overlooked. When considering infrastructure to facilitate inbound marketing choose platforms and approaches that will let you focus on your business, rather than the nuts-and-bolts of connecting disparate systems.

Recruit a Team of Inbound Marketing Experts

As we previously mentioned, inbound marketing requires a very diverse, yet specific skill set. Depending on your in-house expertise, capacity for additional work and the size of your budget it might make sense to hire for specific roles or outsource certain aspects of your inbound marketing execution.

A well rounded, Inbound Marketing team will have access to all of these skill sets:

  • Inbound marketing strategy
  • Copywriting
  • Blogging
  • Web Analytics / data analysis
  • Front & back end web development
  • Web design
  • Search engine optimization
  • Pay-per-click marketing
  • Conversion rate optimization
  • Email marketing
  • Social media / community management
  • Project management


Making the switch from traditional, Outbound dominated, marketing programs to inbound dominated marketing investments can seem like a leap of faith, but the benefits are indisputable. The sooner you can put this plan into action, the sooner you will be reaping the rewards of inbound marketing – more leads, at a lower cost, generated by a completely Scaleable Strategy.

Key Take-Aways:

  1. Define your buyer personas
  2. Identify your marketing triggers
  3. Create a list of keywords
  4. Set your inbound marketing goals
  5. Outline your content strategy
  6. Design your lead nurturing process
  7. Create a conversion focused blogging strategy
  8. Implement & Align infrastructure & business processes
  9. Recruit for the skillsets you need

Chuck Reynolds
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

A Step By Step Guide to Inbound Marketing Strategy

A Step By Step Guide to Inbound Marketing Strategy

   Are you new to inbound or think your current campaigns could use some direction?

Over at OverGo we’ve come up with a pretty foolproof and seamless process of creating a marketing strategy. It’s really quite simple, all you need to do is set the goals, create the basics, automate the processes, and analyze the results. Let’s dig deeper!

Setting Goals

The first step to creating an inbound marketing strategy is to define your business goals. Based on where you are and where you want to go, it’s important to create a roadmap of how to get there. Along with this road you can define the KPIs that tell you how your inbound marketing campaign is doing. You can look at your competitors, your industry market, and where you are in that market to create realistic and attainable goals.

Discovery Session 

The first step in setting a direction is to set customized goals during a discovery session. Conducting a meeting with you and your team to identify your ideal customers is the best way to go about this. In this meeting, you can discuss your key metrics, revenue goals, and your sales process to produce the best-customized strategy. 

Create a Buyer Persona

A deeper understanding of your audience provides direction for the content you create and keeps your visitors coming back for more. You can create a research-based representation of who your buyers are, what they want to accomplish, pain points that shape their behavior, and how they make buying decisions.

Industry Research

An understanding of your competitors and what other companies are doing in your industry is ideal. You can pinpoint your specialty and see where the holes are in your industry that could be filled.

Getting Found

Keyword Research

Once we get an understanding of your audience, it’s important to find out how people are searching for your content through keyword research. This allows you to see the estimated global and local search volume, ranking difficulty and also predicts the cost of running paid campaigns. Through this research, you can decipher which terms and phrases to target in order to attract the right visitors to your website.

Onsite SEO

This consists of all the factors on a website page that influence search engine ranking. In order to get found for the keywords that are chosen in your keyword strategy, it’s important to optimize every page that is created on your website. All pages should include the appropriate keyword within the content, page properties, and the image tags. Performing onsite SEO for all current and future pages that you build out for your website is very important.

Editorial Calendar 

Before beginning your blogging campaign, come up with an editorial calendar to ensure that you are publishing and promoting content on a regular basis. An editorial calendar will not only make it easier to schedule content, capitalize on upcoming product or service launches, but it will ultimately encourage discipline in the running and updating of any blog.

Blog Writing, and Posting

Blogging is the basis of bringing traffic to your website and relevant visitors will come to your site when you blog about the right content. The key is to create content around your buyer personas pain points and main industry topics. Keeping up with blogging is a high priority in getting your website found online, the more frequent you blog the more visitors you will attract.


PPC campaigns give you an opportunity to put your message in front of an audience that is seeking your product or service. Through keyword research, strategic bidding, and a compelling advertisement you can get the results you want. PPC is no longer limited to search engines, you can also run PPC campaigns on various social media platforms.

Social Marketing

Social media is THE platform for sharing content and odds are your audience is engaging on at least one social media platform. Sharing content on your social media accounts allows you to reach your audience on multiple channels- Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn. Social media acts as a gateway for potential prospects to find your website so it is important to be relevant, active and engaging in this sphere.

Getting Leads

Premium Content Production

Premium content converts visitors to leads on your website. Specifically, premium content is an offer that contains unique informational value to your target audience. Visitors are willing to fill out a form with their contact information in order to gain access to your premium content. Examples of premium content are eBooks, Webinars, Whitepapers, Case Studies, etc.

Landing Page Design

Landing pages are where premium content lives. Sending your potential clients to landing pages where you capture their information and create new leads for your sales team is a best practice. A good landing page is eye-catching, properly designed, and attracts new leads. The basis of a good landing page is to have the desired user action, which is what you want your visitors to do once they land on your page.

Call-to-Action Creation

A call-to-action (CTA) can make or break your website's lead acquisition rate. CTA's direct visitors to your premium content landing pages. We work with the branding of your website in order to create professional and exceptional graphic buttons your visitors will be compelled to click. We think of CTA as mini billboards positioned on your website to direct visitors to the next steps you want them to take. To facilitate lead generation you can design A/B CTA test groups and position them on various pages throughout your website.

Acquiring Customers

Alignment of Sales and Marketing 

Utilizing CRM integration allows you to provide your sales team with information that will make them better equipped for sales calls. With CRM systems you can track every action a lead takes on your website, your email marketing and on social media. This kind of information puts your sales team one step ahead on a sales call. They will be able to prepare themselves for the type of product or service the lead is interested in, and build on the trust the lead has already established with your business.

Lifecycle Communications

Getting to know your potential clients better is also important by creating a lead lifecycle plan based on your website content and sales funnel. Lifecycle plans segment leads based on who they are, how much interaction they've had with your business online, what kind of content you want them to receive, and at what part of the sales funnel you want them to receive it.

Lead Nurturing

The best way to move a lead through a sales funnel is to launch lead nurturing campaigns. You can do this with a workflow which allows you to trigger a follow-up email or a series of emails based on the action that a lead may take. This helps nurture and educate leads so they are prompted to take next steps and prepared before they even talk to a sales person.

Automated Workflows

Workflows are more than just a lead nurturing tool. They help you automate common marketing processes, moving leads through your funnel in an efficient way. Sending marketing emails, changing contact properties, and sending internal notification emails, are all possible with workflows. They bring marketers the same kind of automation a sophisticated CRM system provides to sales, bridging the gap between both processes.

Closed-Loop Reporting

Closed-loop reporting gives sales an opportunity to report on what happened to the qualified leads we provided, helping further understand your best and worst lead sources. With closed-loop reporting, you are able to plan more strategically for the future by focusing on your best lead sources, those with the best lead to customer conversion rate.

Retaining Customers

Closing sales and getting customers are great goals to have. But I think the inbound marketing mentality supports the fact that the relationship with your customers doesn’t need to end there. After you bring in leads from online tactics you can focus on turning customers into promoters of your business. After all, the best advocates of your products or services are those that have experience with them. Options for continued retention processes include implementing referral programs, continued customer education pieces, and segmenting customer newsletters in order to keep your customers coming back for more. 

Continued Education Pieces

Inbound allows you to segment your customers into lists based on their needs and implement marketing automation. You can communicate information on any additional needs they may have as a customer. Perhaps there is an opportunity to cross-sell but your customer was not aware of it, these communications will make sure they are well educated on the full scope of your products and services.

Segmented Customer Newsletters 

Newsletters aren’t just for leads and potential customers; you can send segmented customer newsletters so they continue to see you as experts in your industry. Customers receive newsletters that contain updates on current events in your industry, as well as press releases and product and service announcements.

Referral Programs 

A referral customer comes at a much lower cost and has a higher potential for retention and loyalty. If applicable for your business, you can create referral programs that make it easy for current customers to promote your product or service.

Account Analysis

Marketing Benchmarks  

Always analyzing your main marketing benchmarks is key. These metrics include customer acquisition cost (CAC) and ratio of customer value to CAC which is the total value that your company derives from each customer compared with what you spend to acquire that new customer. You can also look at the time to payback CAC which is the number of months it takes for your company to earn back the CAC it spent acquiring new customers, marketing originated customer percent which shows what new business is driven by marketing, and the marketing influenced customer percent which takes into account all of the new customers that marketing interacted with while they were leads anytime during the sales process.

Onsite Analysis 

Consistently performing a full onsite analysis of your website is also important. You do this by looking at keyword performance and rankings, organic search traffic and conversions, search engine optimization, blog performance, page performance, email click-through-rates, and much more. 

Offsite Analysis 

The offsite analysis goes hand in hand with onsite analysis. You can perform an offsite analysis which is the measurement and analysis of your online presence away from your website. This includes paid search campaigns, social media accounts and paid social campaigns. 

Monthly Reporting

Lastly, you can keep track of your unique business goals with in-depth reports based on your custom key performance indicators. Your reports are designed to foster communication and collaboration within your company so customizing it to your goals and with your sales and marketing teams is very necessary.


Setting up your strategy the right way might take a little bit of time, but in the end, it’s worth it and will produce the type of results that turn into leads and customers for your marketing and sales teams! If you want to learn more about how this can be applied to your business, I invite you to download our resource below!

Chuck Reynolds
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Inbound Marketing Tips, News & Insights

Inbound Marketing Tips, News & Insights

The Importance of Shifting from an Outbound to Inbound Marketing Strategy


Outbound Marketing represents a Technique

Over the last decade, there has been a major shift from outbound marketing to inbound marketing. Often referred to as “interruption marketing,” outbound marketing represents a technique that requires you to get your message across to your audience through aggressive methods, such as direct mail, cold calling, email blasts, banner ads, etc. In contrast, inbound marketing allows you to use a variety of channels, such as content marketing, online videos, and social media, to earn your way into the minds and hearts of your consumers as they voluntarily interact with you, increasing your brand awareness and attracting new business. This paradigm shift in the marketing world makes it important for your business to implement an effective inbound marketing strategy that makes it easier for potential customers to find you.

More and More People Are Ignoring Outbound Marketing: 
Outbound marketing has become more difficult because people resent advertising that disrupts their favorite shows, sporting events, and other programs. You can see from this Demand Metric Infographic that 86% of the people skip TV ads and 46% ignore direct mail. People want to be more in control of the information they receive and when they receive it. Companies that recognize this trend have reallocated marketing dollars away from outbound marketing to blogs, e-books, videos, and other forms of inbound marketing.

Inbound Marketing Helps Generate More Leads:
 Hubspot reports that inbound marketing techniques generate 54 percent more leads than traditional paid methods. Before the Internet, marketers obtained the names of potential buyers and passed them on to the sales team. Typically, the sales staff would have to educate early stage buyers that may not be qualified. Today, buyers have access a broad array of online resources and can conduct their own research about products and services,

  • Search Engines
  • Case Studies
  • White Papers
  • Webinars
  • Social Media

The success of your organization requires you to have a long-term, strategic lead generation plan to help your target audience find you so that you can build a relationship. Organic search marketing provides one of the most effective strategies for generating leads. An effective SEO strategy consists of executing a number of elements well, including website design, keyword selection, optimization, content marketing, social media, and conversion rate.

Inbound Marketing Costs Less: 
According to this Marketing Profs infographic, content marketing cost 62 percent less than traditional marketing and generates three times as many leads. Content marketing comprises one of the most critical elements of a successful inbound marketing strategy. Fresh useful content improves the probability of keeping visitors on your website and converting them to leads, and hopefully customers, but this requires patience. You will have to focus on a strong and effective long-term approach that improves your brand’s visibility online and helps you build a more lasting bond with your customers. You will need to produce content in multiple forms, with the sole objective of helping your audience.
These distribution channels include:

  • Blog posts
  • Whitepapers
  • Email newsletters
  • Social media posts
  • eBooks
  • Infographics
  • Videos, webinars, and podcasts

Remember that your content needs to stand out, educate, inspire, and entertain your audience. In fact, one of the best ways we have found to communicate content marketing is through the use of videos. Here's an example of an explainer video, centered around content marketing, that has helped us educate beyond blog posts for individuals who have more of an interest in the visual content. Inbound Marketing provides a powerful tool that businesses can utilize to empower people and give them the information they are looking for at the right point in the buying cycle. Companies that practice this type of marketing can build strong awareness, trust, and loyalty for their brands.

Chuck Reynolds
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Steps in Inbound Marketing Strategy That’ll Get You Non-Stop Sales

Steps in Inbound Marketing Strategy That’ll Get You Non-Stop Sales


You may have heard of the phrase “inbound marketing” before. You may not be sure what it means. If that’s the case, you missed my blog last week that defines and outlines what inbound marketing is, and why it’s so valuable. Go check it out! Back? Awesome.
So, Inbound Marketing encompasses SEO, Social Media, Content and Email Marketing. Whoosh. It’s a big umbrella that covers so many distinct topics. If you’re just getting into marketing, and you’ve heard inbound marketing is the royal road to more customers, then you heard right.

Guide in Becoming The Perfect Inbound Marketer

  • 10 must-have qualities of a perfect inbound marketer.
  • Proven examples on applying the best inbound marketing techniques.
  • Compact guide with less fluff!

If you read the above, or my previous post, and broke out in a cold sweat, that’s ok too. It’s a lot to take in. This week, I want to give you a step-by-step roadmap to what you can do to set up an inbound marketing strategy, rein in all those different elements, and make sure all your work is pulling together toward one aim: more customers.

Inbound marketing methods come in many forms, yes, but they follow the same broad approach across every touchpoint. This immediately makes it easier. Whether it’s action, romance, superheroes or indie drama, all films follow a three-act structure. Similarly, no matter whether it’s SEO, Social Media, Content or Email, there are eight steps you should follow in strategizing your inbound marketing efforts.

Decide Who Your Target Audience Is

Inbound Marketing is all about getting quality leads and targeting a specific type consumers is the first step to that. Before you think it, “Everyone” isn’t a target audience. If you fire an arrow, sure, it goes forwards. But the target isn’t ‘everywhere’, it’s a specific point. In archery, the more accurate you are, the more points you get. The same goes with marketing. The more accurate you are, the more customers you’ll get. Look at your product. Think about who it is for. Who will it help. Now think about the details of their lives. What motivates them? What gets them up in the morning? Why will the product help? Put yourself in their position. Think about how much money they make, their relationships, their aspirations. All this will be invaluable in marketing to them down the line.

The Result

Now you have a target demographic and user persona. You know who you’re aiming at, which will inform every aspect of what you do next.

Discover Their Pain Points

Your target consumer will have a unique set of problems. Identify them and you’ll know how to produce the right contents. There are two things that will motivate people to buy. Reason is one. Emotion is the other. You need to use both where they’re most effective.

There’s only one answer to that:


In the 21st century, pain has shifted from its evolutionary roots. It used to be that fire would relieve the pain of cold, food the pain of hunger, shelter the pain of the exposure. We have those needs pretty well covered. Now, the pain of inconvenience is one thing. The pain of things taking too long. The pain of complexity. The pain of imperfection. Of limitation. These are the modern pains. What pains do your audience endure? How does your product help remove those pains? Once you understand that, you can structure your approach to inbound marketing across any touchpoint. This is the key to unlocking the ‘sales’ element.

The Result

Now you’ll get some ideas on what type of content you need to create to address specific problems faced by your target audience.

Find Out Where They Look For Solutions

There are lots of place online where your target audience will look for answers. Identify and list them down as places you need to have presence in. Creating a website that has comprehensive resources to help people find solutions is one thing. It’s a good thing, even! But even better is to go to where people are already looking. Go and find out what sites your target audience uses to find the solutions they need. Some people will ask around on Facebook. For others, Google will be their first port of call. But go deeper – what do they find when people respond? StackExchange is a programming hub where programmers ask all sort of coding problems. Quora is a popular site where people go to get just about any questions answered. There are hundreds of niche forums available online for specialist interests. LinkedIn is better for professionals looking for service recommendations. You need to know where people are already looking so you can offer your solution in a place people will find it.

The Result

By doing this research, you just identified your ‘channels of approach’ and can now diversify your strategy in a targeted way.

Figure Out How They Phrase Their Questions

The same question can be asked in many different ways and getting the right one matters. For anyone who follows this blog, this one will feel at least a little familiar. In SEO, Keywords are the words and phrases people use when they search for things. By mirroring this language back in the content you create, you target your content at the people looking for it. So how do you do that? Well, you have to identify what keywords they use when Googling. You have to know if they create questions on Quora, or browse existing questions. Then how are those questions composed? On forums, are there specific threads, or even sub-forums? What are the titles? Do people speak publicly about these needs or do they communicate primarily through private message.

The Result

By deepening the research you started during point three, you will develop a set of targeted keywords for inclusion in your future marketing. You’ll also gain a better understanding of the best methods of engagement, and create a to-do-list for yourself.

Get Your Answers Ready

Now that you know what questions your target audience have, you can prepare in-depth answers in form of contents. Before you go barging in with your product as the solution to all your audience’s problems, you need to consider that this will almost certainly be unwelcome, putting off potential customers instead of engaging them. Remember the wide umbrella we talked about at the beginning? Well now it’s your toolbox. You’ve identified who your audience is, and how your product can be the solution to their problem. Now, you’ve researched how people find their answers, you can use the appropriate models to create them.

These include blog posts, in-depth articles, videos, emails, e-books, and more. By maximizing the variety of your content, you stand the highest chance of attracting customers who prefer different types of content. By being consistent in your delivery, you’ll begin to develop an audience that will trust you. This trust cannot be underestimated in the modern economy. Make sure all this content is geared toward your audience and their problems.

The Result

You now have a suite of blog posts, videos, infographics and even webinars ready to go, all by using research to make sure this content is relevant to your audience.

Be There, Be Everywhere

Now that you have your contents ready, time to spread them and make them easy to find by your target audience. Now it’s time to get mechanical. This part is all about getting your content and voices heard. Implement your SEO strategy based on what you’ve discovered, and you’ll rank your content highly to be found by people typing the right question in search engines.

This is how you start down the road to becoming an authority within niche communities. Mix around and be known. Start answering questions, participate in discussions to demonstrate your expertise in the field. Syndicate your blogs to their forums to provide readers a detailed answer. Look at Facebook groups, Twitter and Instagram influencers, even the traditional press and media. Promote your content to them. If it has real value, it will get shared. More people will discover your product.

The Result

You will now be developing links and getting traffic to your websites from strategic places that will benefit you most, together with targeted exposure to audiences that are most likely to want what you’re offering.

Nurture Visitors Into Leads

Offer visitors looking for your contents exclusive offers to convert them into leads so that you can stay in contact. Once you have backlinks and SEO established for your high quality, targeted content, you’ll soon have no shortage of visitors. The difference between a visitor and a lead is how much visitors know, like, and trust you. This is where you have to establish a relationship to your audience. You do this by satisfying their needs. Provide useful answers, empower them, and nurture them. Offer them exclusive tips, tricks and techniques. Give them in-depth studies in form of e-books. Maybe even let them try your product for free to demonstrate how well it works (and how much you trust them to see the difference). If you do any of this, you’ll be converting a disengaged audience member into an engaged potential customer. Offer them value in exchange to get them enlisted as your email subscriber.

The Result

A series of leads and email subscribers you can reach out to whenever you want to. People who respect and trust you, and accept your authority.

Market To Your Leads

Marketing to the leads you distilled from the whole inbound process will be highly effective and yield better amount of sales.Leads are the ones in your audience with a strong interest in your offering. Leads are people who have habitually taken an action to engage with your content. Leads are your potential customers, and they are the evangelists who will spread by word of mouth the quality and value of your product or contents. As such, these are your prime targets. They will be the best possible return on your investment of time and energy. That time and energy is much better spent identifying them than it is in blanket marketing at anyone and everyone.

Marketing your products
to them through email is a fine balance. You mustn’t annoy them by being too salesy or overbearing.

Strike the balance between
exclusive content that does them a favour, and advertising which is asks them to do you a favour. This is known as the ‘thank you’ economy. Indebt people to you with gratitude, then demonstrate how they can repay you.

The Result

Paying customers and brand advocates to take your business to the next level. The payoff for all the efforts that have brought you to this point.

Is It All Worth It?

If you were wondering how to do inbound marketing, wonder no longer.

This is how.

While a whole blog post could be written on every one of these points, what I’ve attempted to do here is show you the ladder that leads to the diving board that leads to Scrooge McDuck’s pool full of money. And speaking of money, inbound marketing has its place. Specifically, it’s for those who have time to invest instead of money, which is the case for most startup and SMEs.

Throwing money on ads works. But they works as long as you keep spending. The second you stop, it disappears. Time works too. And time works long after its been invested. Content lives forever. Evergreen content attracts new users for as long as it’s out there to be found. A one-time effort that can result in continuous sales. So, if you want to subscribe to customers, go for paid marketing. If you want customers to subscribe to you? Inbound Marketing is your solution. And now you know exactly how to do it.

Be sure to grab the ebook below to learn the secrets of a great inbound marketer!
Guide in Becoming The Perfect Inbound Marketer

  • 10 must-have qualities of a perfect inbound marketer.
  • Proven examples on applying the best inbound marketing techniques.
  • Compact guide with less fluff!

Chuck Reynolds
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Brian Payne Named Assistant Director Of Small Business Development

Brian Payne
Named Assistant Director Of Small Business Development



Welcome Brian Payne

The City of Bloomington's Economic & Sustainable Development Department is pleased to welcome Brian Payne as its Assistant Director for Small Business Development. Brian began in his new role on Monday. Payne's duties include leading and coordinating a broad range of small business and entrepreneurship advocacy, retention and recruitment activities for the City and the Department to support the growth and sustainability of the small business and local economy. In addition, Payne will lead key major Departmental projects and, upon appointment, will serve as Executive Director of the Bloomington Urban Enterprise Association.

Payne is a career public servant who comes to the City of Bloomington with broad experience working for the federal government. Most recently, he served as a Policy Advisor in the Obama Administration, liaising with Congress and public stakeholders on priority legislative and behavioral health policy issues for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Prior to that, Payne was a Legislative Counsel to two members of Congress, providing strategic advice and engaging with constituents on a wide variety of legislative issues. He also worked on the 2012 presidential campaign, running field offices and coordinating volunteer operations in central Ohio.

He earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of North Carolina School of Law in 2012 and holds a bachelor's degree in English and Philosophy from Lawrence University. Before attending law school, he worked as a case manager, coordinating social services for adults with developmental disabilities, and as a substitute teacher and high school athletics and forensics coach, both in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. He loves sports and the outdoors and looks forward to exploring Indiana's natural splendor with his fiancée and his dog. Payne's salary will be $58,000.

Chuck Reynolds
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Offered A New Business Development Job? These Signs You Should Turn It Down

Offered A New
Business Development Job?
These Signs You Should Turn It Down

In the world of business development, opportunities often arise for corporate leaders take on an executive role at another company. These organizations recognize exceptional leadership skills and business vision, and will frequently head hunt C-level talent to help them get to the next stage of growth.If you've been asked to consider an executive position, you're likely feeling flattered and honored. But as with any career move, it's important to consider all the pros and cons of the new role before you jump ship.We asked members of the Forbes Business Development Council to share some red flags that might dissuade you from taking the new job.



No Resources Or Support For Your Vision

Most successful business development executives manage against time. They see opportunities to create something bigger for the company and their partners and need cross-functional support to execute the vision. If it's not there, you may have a difficult time succeeding.

Lack Of Clear Positioning

I like Geoffrey Moore's outline on this: Who are your customers; what do they need; what do you do; what are their alternatives; why are you better than the alternatives? This is the foundation for all sales and marketing activities, so if they can't already state it, or you can't frame it out quickly, that's a problem.

Lack Of Control Over Resources

If you're charged with hitting a goal, but have no way to affect the necessary change to reach that goal, then you're setting yourself up for failure.

Egotistical Team Members

The biggest red flag when evaluating a team is if there are one or more people who are "in it for themselves," rather than the benefit of the company or team overall. This type of team member can work at cross-purposes to the rest of the team and company and can lead to failure, other team members leaving, and decreased productivity.

You're Not Excited About The Company

I think this advice is important for everyone looking to make a career change. Is this a good fit for you? If you don't feel the excitement and passion in your gut after meeting the team, your new manager, and your new job description, you may want to continue looking.

Poor Alignment Of Personal Values And Culture

Most people just look at the salary before evaluating an open position. Other people just get excited about the challenges. Yet, if you are looking for a company where you will be comfortable and growing, you need to be aligned with it on a personal and professional ground.

Nonexistent Mission, Purpose Or Values

The first thing I look for is the mission, purpose, and values of the company I wish to dedicate my life to. If it is nonexistent or my intuition tells me that their values are not practiced, then they simply are not evolved enough to merit my participation.

Chuck Reynolds
Please click either Link to Learn more about – Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Price Officially Doubles That of Gold

Bitcoin Price Officially Doubles That of Gold, Experiences Minor Correction

Bitcoin Price Officially Doubles That of Gold, Experiences Minor Correction

Until May 26, Bitcoin price remained at around $2,550, demonstrating a value that is double that of gold.

Gold is being traded at $1,267 in most major markets. For two straight days, from May 24 to May 26, Bitcoin was being traded at a price that is double that of gold, in the $2,600 region. In other Bitcoin exchange markets such as Japan and South Korea, Bitcoin price peaked at $4,000, demonstrating a price that is three times higher than the value of gold

Since then, Bitcoin price has experienced a minor correction from its strong rally and upward momentum. Bitcoin price dipped below $2,400 earlier today, stabilizing at around $2,350.

Factors driving the value

Analysts have attributed Bitcoin’s price correction to the strengthening of the US dollar and the strong performance of global stock markets. Bloomberg analysts specifically noted that the weakening oil market has led to an increase in the value of the US dollar. Although US stocks stumbled as markets closed this week, major stock markets recorded all-time highs and a strong six-day rally throughout this week.

“Markets ultimately found the renewed deal among OPEC and friends underwhelming. Essentially, the market consensus seems to have come around to a view that regardless of what effect on global inventories the deal may have for now, OPEC and its partners have little insight as to what to do later on,” said Sberbank strategist Cole Akeson.

Previously, the strengthening of the US dollar led to an increase in the demand toward Bitcoin in leading Asian Bitcoin exchange markets such as China, Japan and South Korea. China, in particular, was heavily affected by the performance of the US dollar as it influenced the value of the Chinese yuan and ultimately, the demand toward Bitcoin.

When the Chinese yuan weakened, local Bitcoin exchanges experienced a surge in daily trading volume and orders.

Overall, on a weekly basis, Bitcoin price has still recorded a 20 percent increase, which is a staggering increase in short-term value for a $40 bln financial network and digital currency. Seven days ago, Bitcoin price averaged at $1,900 in most major markets

Reasons behind the explosive growth

As Cointelegraph previously reported, there exists a few reasons behind the explosive growth and increase in demand toward Bitcoin while the demand for gold has remained relatively low over the past few years.

Bitcoin offers key advantages over gold: transportability, high liquidity and absolute proof of ownership. Bitcoin’s high liquidity is especially important for casual traders and conventional investors who can’t afford to hold investments in the long run. There could be investors purchasing Bitcoin to avoid economic uncertainty and financial instability.

In the upcoming weeks, as scaling sees progress and Bitcoin regains momentum, Bitcoin price will most likely recover and potentially achieve its previous all-time high price.

David Ogden

Author:Joseph Young


Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

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