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Blog Archives

Blog Marketing | Content Marketing | Savoir Faire

Blog Marketing | Content Marketing | Savoir Faire

By now you’ve heard that you should be blogging. It’s among the quickest and most effective ways to establish authority, not only in your industry but also with Google. Dynamic content on your website is the key to Google’s heart and blogging consistently is a great way to keep fresh, relevant content flowing. People who are looking for a company just like yours have questions that need to be answered and a blog is a great vehicle to answer those questions.

A blog is useful for “top of the funnel” or “awareness stage” content. People have problems and they’re turning to a search engine to find solutions. They’re doing research and asking Google to answer questions for them. They may not know your company, product or service and, at this point, they might not care. They just want to figure out the solution to the problem. So your blog posts should be helpful, educational, add value and be more than a thinly-veiled advertisement for your company, service or product. Your goal at this time is to stand out as a source of valuable information. You can get into details and specifics once you’ve established some credibility with the visitor.

People ask us all the time how often they have to blog. There’s no right answer; it depends on your goals, your existing audience, your current position in Google, and how fast you want to achieve those goals. A good place to start, though, is once a week. Google wants to see consistency and frequency. It may take a little time to see results – you have to earn credibility with Google, too.

Writing Style Matters

More and more, Google is optimizing for human beings. This means that what’s important to humans is also important to Google. So, a well-thought-out and well-written post is going to be valuable for both audiences.

Make sure that you have a clear point and that your post follows a thread from A to B so your readers can follow along easily. Remember that your readers are likely in the early to middle stages of their research process, so help them along by explaining industry topics in a manner they can follow along with.

Use headings, sub-headings, bullets and lists in your post to make it reader-friendly. Break up long swaths of text with visual cues that help the reader. As a bonus, some of these elements have SEO value as well. 

What to Blog About

The next question we invariably get is: what should we blog about? Again, it depends on all the same factors noted in the previous paragraph. However, if we’re planning a month’s worth of posts, we recommend a combination of three strategic posts for every one non-strategic post.

A non-strategic post could be something you want to talk about, regardless of its SEO value: a community project, a client story, company news, commentary on industry news – those sorts of things.

A strategic blog post, however, has some specific attributes that help Google take notice. There are multiple factors that play a role, but here are a few important ones:


Content Length
  1. The post is more than 350 words; between 500 and 750 is generally a sweet spot, but by no means a rule. Google has started putting emphasis on longer content, as long as it maintains its value to the user. It’s all relevant. Longer posts can work, depending on the subject and type of post. Educational content can run longer. Philosophical content night read a little shorter. Non-strategic content can be as long as you want it to. 
  2. You want the keywords to appear in your post. Ideally, they would appear in the first paragraph or two. You want it to appear enough times so that it reads naturally, so it’s meaningful to the readers and it has value to the search engines crawling the post. That does not equate to a certain number of times or repetition. It’s a judgement call.
  3. The post typically relates to one of your company’s services, capabilities or solutions; provides insights into your industry or could be considered thought leadership.
  4. It relates – and links – back to a website page. The keyword should be the link back to the page that has the related content. However, for best results, only link the keyword once. The destination page should be well developed and optimized and contain appropriate keywords. This practice works to establish authority on the subject.
  5. The post utilizes a focus or head keyword in multiple ways throughout the post (post title, body copy, heading(s), post tag, title tag and meta description). Always tag the post with your focus keyword and any iteration that makes logical sense. (Video Production: video services, video production services). You can use up to three tags. Along those same lines, the post should be published into a single, related blog category.   

There are more things to take into account when blogging for SEO, but these tips will get you started on the right path, to attract both your customers and prospects, and Google.

When it comes to blogging, the most important thing is to get – and stay – ahead of post ideas. Idea generation is the key element to stay on top of if you want to be successful with your blogging.

When you fall behind, it’s hard to get back on the horse. Then you look at your blog and realize that you haven’t posted in a few months and you find yourself sitting in front of a blank screen with a blinking cursor and a sinking heart (like us! Look at the date of our last post!).

Last Post Date


When that happens, there’s only one thing to do: Get back on track. Google is forgiving. And your customers and prospects are still looking for answers.

Ask about our blog idea generation jump start! Contact us today. Read more...

Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 02 May 2016 19:50 in Content Marketing Tags: blog marketing, Content Marketing, content marketing services [Be the first to comment!] Read 134 times
Going All In

Going All In

Being able to manage all your digital assets and reporting from a central “hub” is an attractive solution compared to utilizing disparate and disconnected tools. However, there are pros and cons that should be carefully considered before putting all your eggs in one basket.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Thursday, 07 April 2016 17:36 in Edification [Be the first to comment!] Read 188 times
Domains and Google

Domains and Google

Many new domain extensions, such as .academy, .guru, .attorney, have been made available  recently with new extensions still being released. These new extensions allow website owners to create more personalized and memorable website domains, but how does Google rank them compared to traditional .com, .org and .edu extensions?


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Sunday, 20 December 2015 19:53 in Edification [Be the first to comment!] Read 608 times
Measurement Monday: Email Marketing Analysis

Measurement Monday: Email Marketing Analysis

Welcome to measurement Mondays, our opportunity to share some best practices, educational information and talk about all things related to measurement to start your week. In this week’s measurement Monday post, we will be reviewing some of the different metrics used when analyzing email campaigns.

Email is an integral part of today’s content marketing and marketing automation strategies, and contributes greatly to the success of each by maintaining customer relationships, nurturing leads and even attracting new contacts through sharing.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 14 December 2015 09:37 in Analytics Tags: measurement monday, email marketing analysis, email measurement, email marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 675 times
Measurement Mondays: Analyzing Your Social Media

Measurement Mondays: Analyzing Your Social Media

Welcome to measurement Mondays, our opportunity to share some best practices, educational information and talk about all things related to measurement to start your week. In this week’s measurement Monday post, we will be taking a look at social media.

Social media can be hard to measure and difficult for CMOs to understand the value of.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 23 November 2015 07:47 in Analytics Tags: social media measurement, social media analytics, social media strategy, measurement mondays [Be the first to comment!] Read 654 times
Measurement Mondays: Analyzing Your Blog

Measurement Mondays: Analyzing Your Blog

Welcome to measurement Mondays, our opportunity to share some best practices, educational information and talk about all things related to measurement to start your week. In this week’s measurement Monday post, we will be reviewing some of the different metrics used when evaluating your blog and blogging strategy.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 16 November 2015 07:08 in Analytics Tags: blog measurement, blog analytics, blog strategies [Be the first to comment!] Read 505 times
Budget Shift to Digital

Budget Shift to Digital

It wasn’t long ago that people thought the Internet, email or social media were fads and wouldn’t merit much use beyond being a toy for the well-to-do population that could afford to have these at their disposal. But we’ve seen how wrong these types of predictions were and that digital marketing has grown exponentially in recent years with more businesses investing larger portions of their marketing budgets in digital.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 10 November 2015 17:59 in Edification [Be the first to comment!] Read 841 times
Strong Passwords

Strong Passwords

From banking to social media accounts to shopping to any other number of online activities, chances are you have needed to create a password. You know “password” isn’t a good idea and neither is “passw0rd” even with the clever little zero snuck in there. But did you know none of the clever little password tricks protect you.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 10 November 2015 16:17 in Edification [Be the first to comment!] Read 606 times
Measurement Monday: Analyzing Your Website Traffic Using Google Analytics

Measurement Monday: Analyzing Your Website Traffic Using Google Analytics

Welcome to measurement Mondays, our opportunity to share some best practices, educational information and talk about all things related to measurement to start your week. In this week’s measurement Monday post, we will be reviewing some of the different metrics used when evaluating a website’s analytics. 


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 09 November 2015 07:00 in Analytics Tags: measurement mondays [Be the first to comment!] Read 1314 times
How To Grow Your Email List

How To Grow Your Email List

Social media messages and email messages both stream into our view whether it be via a news feed or your inbox. The difference is email is far less fleeting than social media.

Social media updates fly by quickly, and it’s not likely we scroll back to the previous day(s) to read posts. But with email, we take our time in our inbox. In 2012, McKinley Global Institute found that people spend up to 25% of their workday in their inbox. Email can hold our attention and demand response.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Thursday, 05 November 2015 09:12 in Email Marketing Tags: grow your email list, email strategies, email lists [Be the first to comment!] Read 661 times
Measurement Monday: Analyzing your website’s performance

Measurement Monday: Analyzing your website’s performance

Welcome to measurement Mondays. Our opportunity to share some best practices, educational information and talk about all things related to measurement to start your week. In this week’s measurement Monday post, we will be reviewing some of the different metrics used when evaluating a website’s performance.

Performance Measurements

Website performance is important to both your users who want fast and easy-to-use websites and to search engines that use performance metrics as part of their algorithm for ranking websites organically. It has been posited that 4 seconds is the benchmark against which sites are measured and even less for mobile load times. With increasing data speeds, improved wireless connections and higher performing devices, the desire for instant gratification has grown. We no longer wait for modems to “dial up” and won’t stay on web pages that take a long time to load regardless of our connection.

There are a number of things you can do to improve your site performance. First, submit your website to a performance analyzer such as Google’s PageSpeed Tools. Google will tell you exactly where you can improve your performance for both Mobile and Desktop versions and outline what elements are blocking or hindering your performance. While some performance issues can be related to your website hosting environment and server, others are directly related to how your website is built.

The greatest drain on performance and load time is linked resources. Style sheets are utilized to make  websites visually attractive and readable while scripts can make website more fun, interesting and useful. However, each time a browser encounters a script or stylesheet tag, it must look up the file, open the script engine, read the content, compile the code, report back to the browser and display the results. This may only take milliseconds but it can add up and that equates to page load delay and performance issues. As such, it is a good idea to utilize as few linked resources as possible to reduce the number of “requests” as well as “minify” or compact the resources to save bytes of data thus speeding up the download, parsing and execution process.

Images can also severely affect website performance. We want our sites to be visually engaging and beautiful and have high-quality, colorful images. But these images can slow a site down considerably. The key is to find balance between visual loss and file size using different file formats, sizes, and compressions. While Photoshop can do a lot of image optimization via its “Save for Web” interface, we have found that Kraken.io offers a great free web tool for further compressing images. For resizing and scaling images, especially if Photoshop is unavailable, we’d also recommend BeFunky.com’s photo editor.

A way to reduce the number of images used is to employ image “sprites.” An image sprite is a set of images combined in one image file to reduce the number of server requests the website needs to make. Displaying the desired parts of the sprite is then achieved using CSS positioning.

Below are the web performance grades for Mashable.com according to QuickSprout’s analyzer as well as the load times, files sizes and requests for linked resources. As you can see, even large, popular sites like Mashable can suffer from poor performance and page structure.

Mashable Performancescore

Websites can also improve performance using caching. By leveraging browser caching, resources that are commonly used can be stored on your visitors’ browsers which can reduce page load times for repeat visitors. Each resource should have a caching policy defined via Cache-Control headers, which outline whether the resource can be cached, for how long and if the caching expires and any ETags (Entity Tags), which web servers and browsers use to determine if a cache matches the server version of a file.


Overall, when evaluating your site performance, look at the load time for your scripts, images and CSS files as well as the size of each and the number of requests made. Consider where you can combine files and minify them. If your site is still having performance issues, check your server response time and consider gzip compression or talk to your web host about your server and its resources. Run page load testing once a month and continually make improvements. Your users and the search engines will thank you for it.

Next week, we’ll take a look at the key metrics for measuring user behavior and website analytics. In the meantime, please let us know in the comments what metrics you are tracking on your site and how you have adjusted to maximize your site’s performance.

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Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 02 November 2015 08:51 in Analytics Tags: measurement mondays [Be the first to comment!] Read 974 times
Measurement Mondays: Digital Marketing Program Measurement

Measurement Mondays: Digital Marketing Program Measurement

In every marketing program, whether traditional or digital, you must effectively measure the results of your efforts in order to identify and build on success or know which adjustments to make when it fails. So the looming questions is, what exactly should you be measuring?

Traditional measurement efforts used costly research techniques to learn more about market trends, market size, brand awareness and customer satisfaction. They also required companies’ utilize time-consuming data gathering techniques like customer feedback surveys or response cards that depended on a person’s willingness to offer information or participate in the information gathering.  

In traditional efforts, you may have measured the response rate of a direct mail postcard or of a newspaper ad; you may have gathered insights about a PR campaign using “clipping services;” or you may have measured the expense of a trade show exhibit against inquiries or resulting sales.

All this information then needed to be tracked, attributed and measured, facilitated by complex databases or CRM systems.

The digital world has changed the game and has made data gathering far easier for marketing practitioners.

With so many transactions conducted online, businesses and research firms are able to collect data about leads and prospects without needing to make specific feedback requests. The data can be tracked and organized automatically using reporting and analytics software, requiring little or no manual data entry.

The problem online measurement has caused is that it creates an incredible amount of data; so vast that sifting through it for valuable, key metrics can be cumbersome and overwhelming.

Let’s face it, big data is...big...and complex

According to IBM, “Every day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data — so much that 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.”

As a result, many marketers get hung up on vanity metrics like Facebook “Likes” and website sessions. But metrics such as these don’t actually provide insight into how effectively a marketing program creates awareness, engagement and conversion. According to an article by Hubspot, vanity metrics often have no benchmarking for performance. The focus instead is in comparing one company’s performance against another at a moment in time versus measuring a company’s own improvements or declines as a result of their own actions.

So what should you measure?

There are numerous metrics at all levels that can be evaluated and analyzed for every aspect of a marketing program or campaign. Dividing these into key segments can simplify and focus your reporting and lead to data-driven decisions to improve performance. While reporting and analysis can be overwhelming, remember, as Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured gets improved.”

Our measurement Monday series will guide you through some important metrics you should evaluate to better understand the performance of your blog, your website, your social media and your email marketing. We’ll also reveal some interesting ways to look at the data to help you dig deeper into the valuable insights it provides that can help achieve greater business success.


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Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 26 October 2015 07:37 in Analytics Tags: measurement mondays [Be the first to comment!] Read 853 times
7 tips to create compelling email subject lines

7 tips to create compelling email subject lines

There are a number of factors that can impact your email open rate. Some of these; who the email is sent from, the cleanliness of your list, and the day/time the email was sent, can be manipulated and controlled to a degree. There are however, external factors and limitations sometimes imposed by the email send provider that limit your control..

On the other hand, you have complete control over your subject line and it can make the biggest impact on the success or failure of your campaign. You can choose the general format, the words, length and the inclusion of personalization as appropriate.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Thursday, 15 October 2015 08:01 in Email Marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 640 times
Why Sell Online? The importance of ecommerce in your sales strategy

Why Sell Online? The importance of ecommerce in your sales strategy

The buyer’s decision-making process has changed dramatically in recent years. Buyers are conducting extensive research online before ever speaking to a sales person. Buyers are also making more direct purchases online and via their smartphone, never stepping foot into traditional brick-and-mortar locations.

According to eMarketer, ecommerce sales rose 16.4% in 2013 over the previous year to 262.3 billion dollars and is estimated to climb to 440 billion dollars by 2017. However, the percentage of online sales to all retail sales is still relatively small. Consider this: only 11% of Macy’s sales are online. But, that meager 11% represents 3.1 billion dollars per year. (eConsultancy)

To capture a piece of the pie, brick-and-mortar stores need to adapt as their customers are. Shoppers are more than happy to stay home and research and complete their purchase online as long as the barriers to online shopping have been subverted, i.e. security risks, paying for shipping, etc. Many don’t want to drive to a store, wander around in search of what they need and then interact with a cashier to finish the purchase process. In fact, according to an eConsultancy survey, 60% of Americans like knowing they don’t have to shop in a crowded mall or store and 51% prefer to shop from the comfort of home. Consider this; Black Friday, perhaps the biggest shopping day of the year, saw about 6 million fewer shoppers at retail locations in 2014 than 2013. This is a decline that is expected to continue in 2015.

And people don’t just shop from home; they are making purchases anywhere they have wifi or phone service. Consider that sixty-two percent of smartphone users have made a purchase online using their mobile device in the last six months. (KeCommerce)

The good news is you don’t have to compete with Amazon or other retail giants. The internet enables even small companies to sell online and compete adequately with the retail giants via cloud based platforms like Shopify, BigCommerce, Amazon Webstore as well as other solutions like Magento, ZenCart, Abante Cart or using WordPress plugins.

Compared to setting up a brick-and-mortar location, getting started online is very manageable and affordable with many vendors and distributors making it even easier by including services like drop shipping until sales justify investing in having your own inventory. And payment processors making it even easier to take payment with multiple options and lower fees.


Selling direct online increases your reach. With an online store, your profits are no longer limited by the number of customers that can physically visit your brick and mortar location. You can sell across towns, states, and even across borders, removing all geographical limitations.

Your online store also allows you to cater to shoppers who find it more convenient to browse and buy at times when retail locations are not traditionally open. Online shopping can save time for both the buyer and retailer, reducing phone calls about availability, specifications, hours of operation or other information easily found on company and product pages.

An ecommerce system provides real time data and analytics about your products and your customers. You can see how people interact with the site, what products interest them, what they left in their cart and how much the average purchase was. Valuable metrics that allow you to make adjustments to meet your customer’s needs.

Even if your product(s) don’t appear ideal for online sales, an ecommerce presence will help buyers discover your business. Shoppers are spending more time researching online than ever before. Sixty-four percent of buyers spend 10 minutes or more researching before buying. They are online searching for products your business might sell. By having your items listed online in an ecommerce system you improve your chances of appearing in search engine results pages.That research could draw local buyers to your brick-and-mortar location or entice them to call. And best of all, your website is always selling. An ecommerce site is open  24/7/365 with virtually none of the overhead of a brick-and-mortar location.

Considerations when building your ecommerce presence

  • Create a user focused experience. Provide product details and information in a clear and concise manner. It’s important to help users through the online buying experience where they are unable to touch or try-on the products.

  • Use reviews and trust seals. According to KissMetrics, 5% of shoppers say that online reviews influence their buying decision.

  • Make sure information is readily available and there are no surprises, such as unexpected shipping cost. Twenty-eight percent of shoppers will abandon their shopping cart if presented with unexpected shipping costs.

  • Allow guest checkout and ensure checkout is secure. Many shoppers will abandon a cart if they are required to create a new user account or have payment security concerns.

  • Make customers feel good about their purchase. Be helpful and personalize the experience. Just as with in-person interactions, online first impressions matter.

  • Gather feedback and data that will help you constantly improve the customer experience.

  • Make sure your ecommerce is mobile friendly. According to Brad Frost, “Mobile users will do anything and everything desktop users will do, provided it’s presented in a usable way.”

  • Be fluid and evolve. This applies to both your ecommerce site but also the logistics of meeting demand.

Your brick-and-mortar isn’t dead.

While more people are enjoying a complete end-to-end online shopping experience, click and collect is also a popular model. Nextopia reveals 44% of shoppers are more likely to purchase online if they are able to pick up in-store, and that 62% are more likely to shop online if they can return an item in-store. The key to success is the effective and appropriate use of both online and offline channels to create a solution that better satisfies your buyers’ needs and shopping methods.

Look for the next post in our ecommerce series where we take a deeper dive into reviewing the different types of eCommerce software solutions available to sell online. Have a favorite platform? Let us know using the comments below.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Thursday, 08 October 2015 13:36 in Ecommerce Tags: mobile commerce [Be the first to comment!] Read 1246 times
10 resources for stock photos and illustrations to benefit your content marketing program

10 resources for stock photos and illustrations to benefit your content marketing program

Images are an important part of creating engaging content. In fact, according to Jeff Bullas, posts or articles with images get 94% more views! But finding great stock photos can either be costly or time consuming.

Websites like Getty Images® have beautifully composed photos for sale. However, these rights-managed images can be very expensive depending on your usage needs. Getty does offer some royalty-free images for embedding on a blog or website or social media using their “embedded viewer” provided your site and site content conforms to their terms and conditions.

Stock photo site 123rf.com has similarly allowed certain images to be downloaded for free for use on blogs and in PowerPoint presentations. Essentially the site asks contributors to “donate’ their images for increased exposure; the images are available for a period of time and eventually expire.The quality of images on 123rf can be hit or miss with contributors whose photography and videography skills vary.

For the last several years, we have been compiling a list of stock photo sites containing free, high resolution images available for personal and commercial use, many of which are offered under a new Creative Commons Zero license. CC0 indicates all copyrights have been waived by the owner. This is not the same as public domain mark, however, where an image has been released, to the public, often due to the passage of time.

To help you find images, we’ve shared our ten favorites:

Stocknsap.io. This site has a search feature and all photos are free from copyright restrictions and no attribution is required. However, photos are curated by StockSnap from around the web and can often be found on other stock sites such as PicJumbo. https://stocksnap.io/

Startup Stock. Startup Stock offers a limited collection of hi-resolution photos which depict possible scenes from fictional start-up companies. The images are licensed under the CC0 license. http://startupstockphotos.com/

Life of Pix. Life of Pix has beautiful photos and an onsite search to help you find the perfect image. There are no copyright restrictions and new photos are added weekly. The photos are offered by an agency in Montreal and are donated by their network of photographers. http://www.lifeofpix.com/

Pexels. Pexels has a nice online search and a good size library. Images are licensed under the Creative Commons Zero license and are free for personal and commercial use. Their one restriction is that identifiable people may not appear in a bad light or way that they may find offensive. https://www.pexels.com/

Gratisography. This site offers free, high-resolution pictures for any project. The photos are all by Ryan McGuire. Many of these images are more conceptual or whimsical and may not be suited to every business. However, they are certainly different than what is found on other sites and could make your blog stand out. http://www.gratisography.com/

Unsplash. Unsplash is the project of Arthur Weill and has been a resource for bloggers for awhile. The original site, https://unsplash.com/, has no search available. You can subscribe to receive 10 new photos each day delivered to your email; this doesn’t necessarily give you the photos you need when you need them. There is a search in beta which utilizes tags or combinations of tags to help you find relevant images which makes this site more useful. http://www.arthurweill.fr/Unsplash/en

Vecteezy. Vecteezy offers vector art such as illustrations, icons and patterns. Artist’s share their free art and resources on Vecteezy to gain exposure or to get feedback. Artists can license work with various Creative Commons licenses. Make sure you read the rights associated with any item downloaded from this site. http://www.vecteezy.com/

FoodiesFeed. This site offers high resolution food and beverage imagery. The images are provided free of use for personal and commercial purposes and no attribution is required though the artist does appreciate it. In additional to the free photos, the artist does offer Premium photo packages as well. https://foodiesfeed.com

The Amazing Pattern Library. This project by Tim Holman and Claudio Guglieri compiles patterns shared by designers to use freely in designs. http://thepatternlibrary.com/

Morgue File. We’ve been using this one for a long time, mostly because in the beginning, it was one of the few sites offering free images for commercial use. Though the images on this site are generally less professional, it provides much greater variety than other stock photo sites which curate from the same sources. As such, mor becomes our fall-back resource. http://morguefile.com

The question that is often asked; “Can’t I just a use a Google image search to find what I’m looking for?” Sure. But chances are the images are copyrighted. Just because something is posted online or makes it into a search engine result does not mean it isn’t still copyright protected. And simply adding an attribution doesn’t necessarily protect you from legal action. The author/artist must give you permission to share or distribute the work.

For more on finding images, CC licenses, copyright and proper attribution, download Finding and Using Images, our resource to help you find images for your content marketing needs.

Have a favorite stock photo site to share? Please add it to the comments below.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 29 September 2015 12:58 in Content Marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1317 times
Are you interested in Marketing Automation?

Are you interested in Marketing Automation?

We’ve been writing recently about marketing automation: what it is; the tactics involved; landing page best practices; how to nurture leads; and how to measure results. But the real question is: why should you care? As with most things these days, we turn to Google for the answer.

The graph below shows the popularity, over time, of the search term ‘marketing automation,’ from Google Trends. The line illustrates the total searches for a term relative to the total number of searches done on Google. A line trending downward means that a search term's relative popularity is decreasing. It doesn’t necessarily mean the total number of searches for that term is decreasing. It simply means that the term’s popularity is decreasing compared to other searches.

Google Trends for Marketing Automation search


The second graph shows Google’s forecast for the term ‘marketing automation.’ You can see that, by July of 2016, the popularity of that term will be higher than it’s ever been.

Google Trends for Marketing Automation search

Google also shows a number of additional search terms that people searching for the main term also searched for. You can see below, that people who were searching for marketing automation also searched for marketing software and marketing automation software, in addition to a number of other terms.

Google Trends for Marketing Automation search

What does this mean for you?

Marketing automation refers to the strategy, software and tactics used to attract, engage, segment and nurture prospects, leads and even customers using your website and a host of digital marketing tactics. What you should interpret from the graphs and chart above is that this is a term, and a strategy, that is gaining traction in the business community. If you haven’t taken notice yet, it’s time to do so.

According to a study by the Annuitas Group, businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experience a 451% increase in qualified leads. Add to that the Gartner study that said that, by 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with a business without talking to a human being and you can see why marketing automation might be a worthwhile endeavor for your business.

The way we shop and make decisions has fundamentally changed because of the way we use the internet – it’s called the Digital Disruption. If you haven’t changed the way you market to and communicate with your prospects and customers, you’re getting left behind.



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Thursday, 24 September 2015 08:13 in Steph Speak Tags: marketing automation, Google Trends [Be the first to comment!] Read 1355 times
Email Marketing Solutions & Strategy

Email Marketing Solutions & Strategy

Among so many new communication channels, email might seem a bit old fashioned. The first emails were sent in 1971; the first email from space came 20 years later; and the movie “You’ve Got Mail” is 17 years old. Compared to Facebook which is about 11 years old, Instagram which is only 5 years old and the nascent live-streaming app Meerkat which is less than a year old, email is the great-grandfather of online communication.

No wonder there are some people who have claimed email is dead, or at least sounded its death knell.

However, according to a 2015 survey by Marketing Sherpa, 70% of respondents indicted they prefer companies communicate with them via email, while less than 20% chose social media, text messages or phone calls as a preference. Not only was email preferred overall, email was also the most popular channel across all demographics surveyed, regardless of age group.

Combined with the surge in content marketing, inbound marketing and marketing automation, email has proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it is a critical marketing tool to communicate with and nurture leads as well as to retain and educate customers.

However, with the noise, incredible volume of spam and more advanced email filters, creating messages that reach a recipient’s inbox - and are read - is becoming more difficult. Successful email marketing strategies must be carefully planned, executed and measured.

At its most basic, an email marketing strategy considers your target audience and their preferences and their needs and attempts to persuade recipients to take action to help you achieve your overall marketing and business goals.

Your audience and their needs

There are a number of reasons why you might want to reach out to a lead or to a customer based on their persona, their position in the buying journey or their behaviors and actions. For example, a visitor to  your website submits a form on a landing page to download your most recent e-book. You could send an automated email thanking the visitor and providing a link to the online e-book as well as a complementary offer for another piece of content. Or, you might want to send an email to announce a new offer or promotion which is of interest to a particular group or segment of your list based on their previous interactions and purchases.

When creating emails and email programs keep this in mind:

  • Who are you sending to?
  • Why are you emailing (what value are you providing to the recipient)?
  • What do you want the recipient to do (make it specific)?
  • When do they need to receive the email?
  • Where do you want them to go (as a result of what you want them to do)?

Drip/Timed emails

Drip or timed emails are a series of messages sent or “dripped” in a specific order and at a specific interval. These drip campaigns are often used to nurture leads, build relationships and even improve customer retention and foster repeat sales. Each drip campaign should have a goal. For example, your email could convert a lead to a customer, reconvert a lead to gather insights about the lead, or reconvert a customer.

Once you have established the goal, the emails should be constructed to  guide the recipient toward the goal, building on each previous message. The emails should be short and provide enough information to help the recipient take action. Drip emails should not be sent to your entire database. Rather they should be sent to segments of your list and tailored  to the specific needs and wants of members of the segment.

Transactional emails

Transactional emails are less about marketing and convincing a user to take an action and more about providing a favorable experience to the user. Transactional emails are sent to an individual as a result of an action. Some common transactional emails are order confirmations, payment receipts, shipping notices or password reminders. The messages are personal and general at the same time, meaning they contain very user-specific information but the format and support language is not tailored for specific contact segments. These emails play an important role in establishing trust and giving users peace of mind.


Newsletter and subscription emails are sent to individuals who opt-in to receive periodic updates about your business, industry news, blog articles or other published content. These emails might be sent weekly, monthly or quarterly, depending on your bandwidth and the subscriber's preferences.

Newsletters can be used to increase brand awareness with the recipient through regular communications as well as spread brand awareness via sharing. Newsletters may include multiple articles, each with their own pathway for the reader to pursue. Be thoughtful of the pathways you create, where they lead, and what you want the reader to do once they get there.

Offers/Promotional emails

Offer and promotional emails occur on a less regular basis. These emails aim to get the recipients to take an action and further convert or purchase on a subsequent offer. These emails should be used sparingly since they are often seen as spammy;  in Gmail they could even end up on the “promotional” tab of the user’s inbox. Additionally, the emails should be sent to segmented or targeted lists of contacts likely to be interested in the offer, based on what you know of them, what actions they’ve taken on your website, or what they’ve purchased in the past. There should be a real value in the offer that is clearly explained and supported by well defined benefits. Don’t try to mislead your readers with bogus offers - they’re smarter than you think and they’re not above using the unsubscribe button!

Re-engagement emails

Re-engagement emails are used to wake up or nudge subscribers or contacts who are still interested in your company but who haven’t taken an action recently. They may have missed your recent messages, subscribed to a one-time offer, lost interest in your emails or maybe they intend to unsubscribe but simply have not yet.

If the subscribers are inactive due to either of the latter three reasons, your re-engagement email will give them an opportunity to unsubscribe before marking your subsequent emails as spam, which can hurt your reputation as a sender. Identify inactive users and segment them based on time inactive. You can even segment further based on persona or other criteria to create more targeted emails and improve campaign success. You can also use these emails to gather feedback or entice users to update email preferences without unsubscribing entirely.

Welcome/Autoresponders emails

Welcome emails and other auto responders are, like transactional emails, sent when a user takes a particular action.

The welcome email sets the tone for future communications and is your first opportunity to start building brand awareness, trust and engagement. This email welcomes subscribers or users and outlines what recipients can expect from your company in the future.

Autoresponder emails are usually sent after a form submission. These emails might simply let the user know their request was received. Or, they can deliver on an offer, providing a download link or attachment. These emails also provide you an opportunity to present a secondary offer and reconvert your user, allowing you to gain additional insights about their position in the buying journey or their interests.


People have been sending emails for more than 40 years, and yet businesses still struggle to get it right. Don’t bomb your contacts database with information of little value, sent at the wrong time relevant to their decision making process, and with unclear or actionable requests. Your contact database is a valuable resource; don’t give people good reasons to unsubscribe.

To avoid common email marketing mistakes, your strategy should consider timing, audience, message and goals. Careful planning, execution and analysis is necessary to ensure your emails are delivered, opened and acted upon.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 22 September 2015 11:06 in Email Marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1342 times
Lead generation, lead scoring, lead nurturing: how they work together in your marketing automation strategy

Lead generation, lead scoring, lead nurturing: how they work together in your marketing automation strategy

Often, when marketers talk about the lead process, they may lump lead generation, lead nurturing and lead scoring together under the term “lead nurturing.” However, each of these tactics is a distinct piece of the marketing automation puzzle and has a different role in filling the sales funnel with qualified leads.

Lead Generation

According to Forrester, buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their buying journey before they even reach the vendor. Lead generation is the process of capturing the interest of those self-directed buyers, who are searching online for solutions to problems or who are in the early stages of the buying process.

Unlike older lead-generation methods where marketers simply found the names and contact information of prospects and then passed them on to the sales team for cold calls, this can be done with search-optimized landing pages and content, pay-per-click ads, or social media. The focus of these activities is on attracting visitors to your website by cutting through all the online noise with content deemed valuable and enticing to these visitors. The goal is to provide something that they will trade their contact information for  - resources or information such as an eBook or whitepaper.

Once lead data has been captured via a landing page, those leads can then be coaxed through the purchase process using lead nurturing.

Lead Nurturing

Lead nurturing focuses on leads who have expressed some level of interest in your product or service but who are not ready to buy. They may have signed up for a newsletter or downloaded a top-of-the-funnel (TOFU) piece of content such as a tip sheet. These people are likely still in the awareness or early evaluation stage of the buying process.

Nurturing utilizes your content and triggered or automated emails and messages to further build brand awareness and grow trust while allowing your business to stay “top of mind” through ongoing  communications.

Lead nurturing using marketing automation systems such as Hubspot allows you to send timely, highly personalized information using a strategic flow of emails and offers to segmented lists. This information can inform your prospects about your expertise, products or services while providing valuable resources and information to them. The key is “valuable.”  This process draws leads through the stages of the buying process and allows your prospective customers to build a relationship  with your business during their buying journey.

Today’s lead nurturing is not the same as traditional drip marketing campaigns, which were a one-size-fits-all approach to lead follow-up and  which didn’t factor in the prospect’s activities or behaviors.

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring allows you to fine tune your lead nurturing segmentation and strategy. Lead scoring, as part of a marketing automation solution, adds (or subtracts) point values based on actions the prospect takes online (clicks and opens of lead nurturing emails, how a lead found you, what pages they visit or what content they downloaded); demographic information (such as industry or company size); or both to help members of the marketing team determine when a lead is ready to pass on to the sales team.  

Because not all leads are created equal, you’ll want to use lead scoring to help focus your marketing and sales efforts on the prospects that matter most -those most likely and most ready to buy. Lead scoring provides a quick and easy way to prioritize leads and to send messages customized for particular stages of the buying journey rather than messages based solely on persona.


Together, lead generation, lead nurturing and lead scoring create a more efficient lead process, shorter sales cycles and lower cost of acquisition by allowing the sales team to focus on leads who have been qualified as “sales ready,” leaving less qualified leads to be nurtured by the marketing team until ready (or deemed completely unqualified). Lead scoring can also lead to a better relationship between sales and marketing, aligning goals and establishing a common definition of a sales-qualified lead.



Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Thursday, 17 September 2015 08:35 in Marketing Automation Tags: lead nurturing, lead scoring, lead generation, inbound marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1518 times
ICYMI: #Inbound15 session “Using Analytics to Create Content”

ICYMI: #Inbound15 session “Using Analytics to Create Content”

Last week, I attended the Inbound 2015 conference session, “Using Analytics to Create Content.”

Jeremy Goldman had a a lot of of interesting things to say about using analytics to predict what types of content will interest or be popular with audiences.

A number of people I spoke with later in the conference were interested in the session as well.  [Shout out to Ben and Andreas!] Therefore, I’d like to present an overview of the key methods Jeremy outlined for finding insights to inform content development and make the you create exceptionally relevant for your audience.

Lead Forensics

Lead Forensics uses reverse IP lookup to help you understand your audience. Similar to the prospects tool in Hubspot, Lead Forensics shows you which companies are viewing  your site, how often, and how many pages were viewed. This allows  you to see what types of companies in which industries are interested in your services/products, allowing you to create super-targeted content specifically for these verticals.

Hubspot Prospects
Hubspot Prospects

Google Analytics

Even though Google Analytics doesn’t give you the keyword data that it used to, you can look at which pages of your site are doing well and generating the most interest. From there, you can create new content and downloadables based upon similar subject matter.

You can also look at demographics. Using age and gender information, you can create content written for the age group mostly likely to view your site or the gender interested in your product/service.

Jeremy brought up an interesting case during the session: He said a beauty brand had previously targeted content specifically to women. However, analytics showed that they had 12% male visitors. Understanding this allowed the company to create “grooming tips for men” content  to attract male users.

Google Analytics BitlinksAnother element of Google Analytics that can be helpful are referral URLs which can aid in discovering the interests of visitors based on what sites they came from. However, sometimes, it’s hard to to figure out where a user came from due to URL shorteners.

Knowing which bitlinks belong to which sites can help. Jeremy pointed out that t.co is for Twitter and recommended using Google to find the tweet that drove traffic to the site, uncovering the topic that was of interest and building new content for a similar topic.

We also recommend looking at the categories and segments of your audience in Google Analytics. Knowing specific affinities can help you write targeted content for each segment.

Google Segments

Google Trends

Google Trends is a great way of uncovering what topics people are interested in right now and developing content around those topics.

That doesn’t mean you need to write specifically about the top topics. Instead, look for a twist or alternative angle you can take that would be of interest to your audience.

When Jeremy was preparing his presentation, Burning Man was trending. He suggested that as an Inbound Marketer, the audience might not write about the art or music of Burning Man but might instead write about “What a Social Media Marketer Should Bring to Burning Man.”

One fantastic tip from the presentation: Create widgets in Google Trends that can be embedded on a website.This probably shouldn’t be a public page, but it gives you an opportunity to create a Google Trends dashboard that is easily accessible from your own website, versus logging into Google to review it. The more accessible this information is, the more likely you are to utilize it.

Google Widget


Similar to Google Trends, Jeremy recommended Rad URLs, “for when Google Trends isn’t real-time enough.” Rad URLs lists the trending URLs on social networks and is updated every 15 minutes.



Feedly helps you identify what’s being shared most so you can create your content accordingly.

YouTube trends

YouTube allows you to search for trending videos using the YouTube Trends dashboard.Set a location, age group and other demographic information  to uncover the most viewed or most shared videos relevant to your audience.  

Youtube Trends

Facebook Trends

Facebook offers a list of trending stories in the right column of your newsfeed. The links will display a set of posts based on the trending topic. This is another great place to find what’s popular right now and to create content that is affiliated with it.

Other places to look

A number of websites offer tools to help users gauge what’s hot right now:

  • Bing Trends
  • Job Trends
  • Yelp Trends

Real time content creation

Not only is it important to discover what is relevant to your audience and what is resonating in general, it is important to know when to “zig and zag,” according to Jeremy. Sometimes you can take more time developing content, such as when you are writing for demographics or industries specific to your website analytics. But when writing about trending topics, you should be a little quicker.

Jeremy suggested the following guidelines:

  • Don’t over think it.
  • Limit your time to write.
  • Be relevant to your audience. Don’t jump on an irrelevant topic just to grow the vanity metrics.
  • Don’t plagiarize. Grow your network by citing people.

Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 15 September 2015 12:21 in Content Marketing Tags: Hubspot, analytics [Be the first to comment!] Read 1278 times
Landing page best practices

Landing page best practices

Landing pages are an integral part of marketing automation for businesses. People sometimes think landing pages are any page a visitor might “land on” on a website. More specifically, they might think about the main page of each section of a site as a landing page (what we refer to as an “index page” to help differentiate it).

For inbound marketing and marketing automation, however, a landing page is a page which contains a form and exists principally to convert website visitors into leads by capturing some amount of personal information through a form in exchange for something - either a piece of content, or offer of a consultation, demo or assessment.

Avoid Clutter

Landing pages should be free of visual clutter. This could be images, ads, navigation or other items that can overwhelm visitors and cause confusion about what action you want them to take. Use only one call-to-action -  the form submission button. You don’t want to give the visitor too many choices and risk him or her leaving the page before completing the form.

In the below example, the button doesn’t stand out, the visitor has a number of other link choices and there is no clear headline or offer.

Landingpages 1

Use Action Words

Make the button text action-based but avoid using “submit.” Try words such as “download,” “sign up,” “register” or other verbs that generate a sense of urgency. Combine it with additional text to restate what the visitor receives by clicking the button. Letting the user know exactly will happen can reduce anxiety and increase conversion success.

Draw Attention through Color

Contrasting colors, which are complimentary on the color wheel (such as blue and orange), go together visually but also allow one color to stand out when used more sparingly - such as on the the call-to-action button.

Use the squint test to check contrast. While viewing a page, squint. What stands out?

In the previous image above, the landing page used complimentary colors. However, because the blue and the orange are used in equal parts, no one element truly stands out. Compare it to the blue and orange colors of the Unbounce landing page below. The single orange element, the call-to-action, stands out against the blue and draws the user’s attention.

Landingpages 2

Directional Cues

Try using directional cues to help visitors easily identify what you want him or  her to do. Using photos of people allows you to utilize line-of-sight to draw visitor attention to the form or form button. Notice in the example below that the woman’s eyes are looking right at the form.

You can also be more obvious and use directional images such as arrows and lines to indicate where you want a visitor’s eyes to travel on the page. Or, utilize images such as roads that  have a directional element which will lead visitor’s eyes to a point on the page.


A Thousand Words...

Include an image or video. Sometimes words just aren't enough to explain the product or offer. Using a video or image can help further explain the offer, make the page design more engaging and draw people in toward the call-to-action or benefits.


Don’t Ask for Too Much

Make sure your form is an appropriate length. Both long and short forms perform well depending on the goal of the form. If the goal is to create a large number of unqualified leads, use a shorter form. If the goal is to generate fewer high-quality leads, use additional fields to collect more information.

But remember that the quality of the offer can also dictate what users are willing to disclose in exchange. A checklist of tip sheet might not “be worth”as much information as a webinar or demo in your visitor’s mind.

The Proof is in the Reviews

Include social proof. Almost 63% of consumers indicate they're more likely to purchase from a site if it has product ratings and reviews. Social proof can be customer testimonials, case studies, social shares or embedded social media posts or trust seals.


Make sure your attention-grabbing headline matches the ad or call to action the visitor clicked to arrive at your landing page. A headline that is off-focus or topic can be confusing at best and considered click-bait at worse.

Keep the message singularly focused and emphasize the offer’s value. Simplify the copy but make it engaging. The page and information should be easy to comprehend with a quick glance. You can always include additional information below the fold and the form.


Don’t try to use the same landing page and messaging for all audiences. Create different versions of the landing page with messaging specific for the specific traffic source.

Design your page for different devices. There is no denying the growth of mobile usage among internet users, so make sure your landing page is responsive or can serve up a mobile version that is visible on various screen sizes and is finger-friendly (no mouse needed to access things like navigation).

Follow up with a thank you page which makes good on the promise of your initial offer. This also allows you to present a second, complementary offer to further convert and qualify your lead.

Test, test, test

And test again. While we have discussed a number of “best practices” for optimizing landing pages, it is important to always be testing. You can test any number of elements such as the position of the form (left vs right), navigation or no navigation, button color, button text, images, form length, messaging, or headlines. Ultimately, your site visitors and leads determine what is a best practice for your landing pages and optimal conversion rates.


For more on landing pages, download our free guide, “Creating Landing Pages: An Overview.



Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 08 September 2015 19:50 in Marketing Automation Tags: landing pages, inbound marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1267 times
Inbound Marketing: the Savoir Faire Way

Inbound Marketing: the Savoir Faire Way

I talk to a lot of business owners and managers about how marketing has evolved in the past decade and why their efforts aren’t producing the same, or as much, fruit as they used to. This is because of the profound changes we’ve seen in technology in recent years.

As I wrote in my post about frozen yogurt, “When you’re home in your kitchen, you order a TV, sneakers, a bathing suit, power tools, books or movies online – and you typically have a great experience doing it. What happens next is that you take that experience with you to work the next day; it doesn’t stay compartmentalized at home. So when it comes time to look for a new laser printer, or office supplies, or lawyer or accountant, you’re likely to want – or outright expect – the same kind of experience researching and making the business purchase. Our culture has unequivocally shifted to the digital and it’s not going back.”

Inbound Marketing has become the antidote to old, increasingly ineffective ways of marketing. (If you haven’t heard about Inbound Marketing yet, read this post and then come back. I’ll wait for you.)

At Savoir Faire, we have a four-step framework that we like to use with companies who are just making their way into inbound.

Step 1: Assess Your Current Position

Most companies we talk to these days already have some kind of website. It may have been revised two years ago, or it may not have gotten much attention for a decade. Either way, we’re going to take a look at your website and the rest of your digital presence. This includes the existing social media, analytics and Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

In this assessment, we’re going to determine what’s in place and what needs attention. The strongest attribute of inbound marketing is its ability to be measured, analyzed and improved. However, if the foundation is weak, the measurements won’t be accurate and you’ll have a hard time making good decisions based on that data.

Step 2: Educate and Prepare for Change

Implementing an inbound marketing strategy can be challenging. I’m not going to sugar coat it. Traditional marketing could be completed from inside the silo of the marketing manager’s or marketing coordinator’s office. However, inbound marketing requires a commitment from the company leadership specifically because it will call for contributions from other departments in the company. We all know that a successful change only comes about if it’s embraced at the top.

Our process includes talking with the company leadership – owner, general manager, VPs – to educate them on how and why marketing has changed. We believe that, when the leadership understands what we’re trying to accomplish, and what these changes will not only entail, but bring about, then they have an easier time embracing and championing the changes.

During this stage we may involve people from different departments in the company through surveys, meetings or discussions to assess how and how much they might contribute to an inbound program. This could mean that someone from engineering or sales or customer service writes blog posts once a month. Or, maybe he or she simply helps to brainstorm content topics and reviews or edits any content developed in their area of expertise. Maybe it means that an administrative person helps with uploading blog posts into the software, or pulling regular measurements down and sharing the reports. There are many aspects to an inbound program and many ways – large and small – for people throughout the company to contribute to its success. 

Step 3:  Build (or Rebuild) the Machine

Whether you have an old, new, revised, spiffed up or reimagined website, we’re going to take a look at it.  There are a handful of things that we’re looking to do to your online presence in order to turn it into the engine that will produce results and impact your bottom line.

First and foremost, your website needs to be structured – both front and back end – the way Google wants to see it. Your first and ultimate goal for a website should be to make it easy to be found online. Google – and to a lesser extent, other search engines – are looking for a complex mix of elements on your website. From how the navigation is laid out and the terminology used on it, to the user experience, to the copy on your site and, yes, even the keywords, there is both a science and an art involved in setting the machine up to generate results.

Another important element of “the machine,” is your content strategy. Your online machine is the venue to serve content to your website visitors and social followers. What kind of content will you develop, publish and promote? What type? On what schedule? How will it be promoted? Google wants to see dynamic content on your site and original content, from blog posts to videos and e-books, can do that job.

When your program is running well, every page is a weapon, used to engage website visitors and convert them to leads that can be nurtured through the purchase process.

One last thing you want to do when you build “the machine,” is plan for growth. Six months or a year from now, you’re going to have a lot more content on that site than you do now. You may have landing pages and blog posts and educational downloads. It’s important to build – or rebuild – knowing that, over time, you’ll have more content to handle. Your site should be able to handle the content additions over time, as well as the traffic growth that the content will lead to.

A well-built machine will facilitate the execution of your program in the short term, and evolve as results demand over the long term. 

Step 4: Run the Machine

Once the machine is built, and you have a strategy and schedule developed for content development and social media usage, then it’s time to put all that planning into practice. While the first three steps are typically discrete and have a start and end, this phase is ongoing since any fine-tuned machine needs fuel to keep it running at peak performance.

The “fuel” in this scenario is typically your content: educational downloads; tip sheets; ROI calculators; case studies; white papers; e-books; blog posts; email marketing campaigns; videos. Each piece of content can require a number of related elements, like landing pages and calls to action, that turn a simple piece of content into a conversion opportunity.  Then, it needs to be promoted, whether via social media, paid advertising, public relations or another method. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Running the machine also means measuring and analyzing your efforts to identify which are showing results and which aren’t. The benefit of the digital channels is that they are more measurable than many traditional marketing tactics you may be accustomed to. You’ll be able to measure, down to the tweet, landing page, form, email or website page, what worked and what didn’t. This means you’ll soon be making decisions about your marketing efforts based on data, versus on hunches or guesses.

The final piece of running the machine is website maintenance. We recently launched an e-book about website planning, development and maintenance that outlines why maintenance is such an important piece of your marketing strategy.

Use your car as an example: Every 5,000 miles, you bring your car to your dealer or trusted mechanic for regular maintenance. They change the oil and filter, check the tires, inspect the brake pads and top off the fluids. At other times, it needs more in-depth maintenance, like tire rotation or manufacturer-recommended software updates, recalls or repairs.  You take care of your car to make sure it works and continues to perform at its best. Your website represents a significant investment and an important tool for your business. It warrants the same type of attention and regular maintenance.


I know that sounds like a lot, but now you have the lay of the land and an idea of how we approach working with businesses who are transitioning into inbound marketing or sharpening their digital marketing strategies.

If you’ve got any questions or comments about how we approach inbound marketing strategies for businesses, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below or reach out to me directly at Stephanie (at) savoirfaire-us.com.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Thursday, 03 September 2015 11:52 in Steph Speak [Be the first to comment!] Read 406 times
What should I blog about?  25 posts types and ways to find new topics

What should I blog about? 25 posts types and ways to find new topics

Creating interesting and unique content for your blog can become tedious and challenging, especially if you think your industry or business is particularly “boring.” It’s common to feel  like there just isn’t enough to write about to sustain a consistent blog as part of your marketing automation strategy. However, according to Hubspot, “to grow a blog, you need to consistently publish content that your readers enjoy reading.” In a study conducted last year, they determined their best results were achieved by writing four posts a day with varied quality and comprehensiveness.We’re not saying you have to write that many posts to be successful; we’re saying that not every post has to be a college dissertation.

Here is a list of post types and ways to find new topics.

  1. Search Twitter for keywords related to your business and look for questions people are asking. Answer those questions in your blog posts.
  2. Look at what you share socially. Expand those short posts into longer blog posts or write about the articles you share. You can add context, opinion, analysis or insight to any industry or general news article.
  3. Look at your competition. What are they writing about or tweeting about?
  4. Write about challenges your business faced and the resulting solutions.
  5. Write about a customer success story, even if the customer isn’t named.
  6. Think about the questions your customers and prospects ask. Answer those questions on your blog.
  7. What are the biggest myths about  your industry? Create a post to dispel a myth.
  8. Look at how your product fits within other aspects of your buyer’s life. Write about those related products or services. For example, if you sell computer monitors, write about pros and cons of “standing desks.”
  9. Look at your data. Write about trends you see based on your own sales and customer information.
  10. Write a how-to post. Look at what you explain to customers and to others and write a short tutorial. Or try a how-to video! Different types of content resonate more with different people.
  11. Look at the performance of your blog posts. Expand on those that are most popular. Cover the same topic from a different angle.
  12. Take a look at Google Trends. Find what people are searching for and write a piece of content related to what people are currently interested in.
  13. Tell a story. Write about your business and what you have learned or what has changed.
  14. Conduct an interview with  your employees or customers. The challenge with this idea, however, is coming up with fantastically interesting questions.
  15. Create a list. Look at the top 10 questions customers ask, top five trends in your industry, or 15 business lessons you learned from your dog. List posts grab attention and  are easy to read and digest. Here’s a list post about why list posts work: “7 Reasons Why List Posts Will Always Work.” (Very meta, we know.)
  16. Make a comparison. Choose two topics, services or products and write a side-by-side comparison.
  17. Write a review of a book related to your product or industry. Or, review a product your business uses.
  18. Look at industry news. Search for news about your industry and write a post about a current issue or topic.. Or do weekly “roundups” of what is happening as it pertains to your industry, audience or community.
  19. Look at Reddit AMAs (Ask Me Anything). There are interviews of industry experts that can give you a lot of ideas based on the questions people ask.
  20. Look at the Twitter Chat Schedule and find chats related to your industry or business. Use the Twitter hashtag of the chat to find related tweets. Look at the questions, answers and opinions to create topic ideas.
  21. Use Quora. Quora is a Q&A site with a variety of questions and answers. Type in your keyword and Quora will list common topics. Search one to find open questions and use those as blog post topics.
  22. Use BuzzSumo to find the most shared content relevant to a keyword related to your business or industry. Select a post and write a reply post offering your opinion on the subject or expand on the information in the original post.
  23. Write about your opinion or thoughts on recent industry research.
  24. Repurpose content. Create a post from something you already developed such as a  recent presentation or case study or from an email you received.
  25. When all else fails, try the content generator or other topic idea generator. When we put the subject “blogging” in, it recommended we write about “Why blogging sucks more than the new Star Wars.”

The easiest thing to do is be helpful. Whenever you feel stuck for a topic or idea, find a way to answer questions either from your customers and prospects, or from people on the internet. Be patient and be persistent. Read a lot — not just blogs related to your business but everything. You never know what might spark an idea. And whenever you have ideas, write them down. You might not be ready to explore them deeper now but at least you’ll have an idea to work from when you sit down to write.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 01 September 2015 09:09 in Marketing Automation Tags: Blogging, inbound marketing, Content Marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 410 times
#Inbound15 Printable Schedule

#Inbound15 Printable Schedule

With less than two weeks left before #Inbound15, the Savoir Faire team is once again working on our plan of attack. We’re trying to make the best use of our team and the sessions, and suggest great topics for clients and colleagues as well.

While there have been some updates on Inbound.com, we found the online schedule to be a little overwhelming again this year. Once again, we have created a printable version that we’re happy to share with anyone else planning their conference schedule.

Let’s face it: This has grown to be one humongous conference. There are so many incredible sessions to browse before you make your choices. Some are offered multiple times. Some conflict with other great sessions you want to attend. You can use the filters on the online schedule to look at sessions by day, session type, or level to find those that will be right for your goals, but it’s tough to remember which sessions you thought sounded interesting before you scrolled and changed filters!

Our printable version (available ungated by clicking here or following the CTA below) organizes session information by day and time period to give you a bird’s eye view of the schedule, session and tracks.

Download Sessions At-A-Glance


Here’s another tip: No matter what, you’re going to run into WiFi issues at the BCEC during the conference. No matter how many additional hot spots they put up, when 15,000 people try to access the app or mobile web version of this schedule at the same time, there’s gonna be an issue. Trust us. This has been an issue every year. So having a printed version of the schedule has come in handy each year.

This year, Hubspot has created an online tool to build your schedule. Go to Inbound.com and click on the Agenda tab. Sign in to access the schedule builder.

  • Click "My Schedule." You'll see keynotes and spotlights have already been added for you. 
  • Search for the sessions you are interested in and click "Add to my schedule." Sessions you have added show an orange button that says "Added to my schedule." You can remove a session by clicking again.
  • Once you have built your schedule, click "Printable Schedule" at the bottom of your schedule listing to access a print-friendly listing of your schedule. 

One caveat: this was created based on the current schedule on Inbound.com. There will likely be updates and filled holes between now and conference time.

We hope you find this planner to be useful as you get ready for this monster of a conference. And, we’d love to hear from you – or connect with you at the event. Tweet to @StephMcL or @Monkeybutt during the conference or leave a comment here prior to the show!


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Thursday, 27 August 2015 11:31 in Steph Speak Tags: inbound15, Hubspot, inbound conference [Be the first to comment!] Read 893 times
Developing content - what kind and how to approach it

Developing content - what kind and how to approach it

Content marketing, along with inbound marketing and marketing automation, is growing exponentially in importance. Gone are the days of brochure websites that occupy a dusty corner of the world wide web. Today, websites need to be dynamic and provide content relevant or useful to online searchers. Content is more than just blog posts. It can take the form of a meme or cartoon or product video; it can be a whitepaper, a top-ten list, or a song parody.

The truth is, content can really be anything. In an article from May of 2014, PR Daily listed 101 different types of content to help drive people to your website. But here’s the rub: The content must be strategically connected to your brand, provide value to visitors, and be appropriate to the buyer’s journey in order to attract, engage and convert users. This is what empowers marketers to nurture leads and better support sales efforts.

Each type of content has its own strengths and weaknesses. For example, infographics, which present information or data visually, are frequently shared and viewed more often than other types of content. However, they are time consuming and can be costly to construct. Similarly, making good videos isn’t cheap, but they are great for presenting messages visually and memorably. On the other hand, lists don’t cost a lot to produce, whether they’re long or short. They are popular and relatively easy to write if you know your stuff.

While a successful content marketing strategy is not solely about the quantity of content produced, a good deal of content is needed to increase traffic to your website and capture lead information. Thankfully, content doesn’t have to be uniquely created by your business. Content can be “Expert content” which is credible third-party content or “User-generated content” created by your fans or followers - things like reviews or social media posts and testimonials. Your original content can also be repurposed into other forms for distribution on different channels or to target different personas.

Mapping or planning your content-distribution strategy based on the various buying stages of personas allows you to focus your content-creation efforts on just what interests your audience.

To assist mapping content to personas and each stage of the buying process, Hubspot has created a great template to walk you through the process.

Top of the funnel, or Awareness stage

At the top of the funnel are prospects who are in the Awareness stage. They are experiencing a problem and expressing symptoms related to that problem. These people are beginning to conduct research to give a name to and more clearly understand their problem. These prospects are “unqualified,” meaning they know little or nothing about your brand or product or service. Instead, they are simply searching for information related to their own experience.

Content created for this stage is not focused on your business; instead, it should focus on being helpful, attracting the attention of prospect, and improving search rankings in order to generate organic traffic. It should also be freely consumable, meaning that there is no form to fill out, or a very minimal form. Your visitors aren’t committed to you yet and are not prepared to trade much of their personal information for your content at this point.

Types of content include:

  • Blog Posts
  • Email Newsletters
  • Tip sheets
  • Checklists
  • Lists
  • Introductory e-books
  • Educational webinars
  • Infographics
  • Slideshows or SlideShare presentations
  • Educational podcasts
  • Guides/tutorials
  • Interviews
  • Templates
  • Cartoons/comics

Middle of the funnel, or Evaluation Stage

During this stage, the prospect has clearly defined and given a name to their problem. He or she has begun researching possible approaches and methods to solve the problem and is considering all possible solutions.  By demonstrating your helpfulness and establishing trust through your content, you can begin to lead the prospect to your solution using middle-of-the-funnel types of content.

These items are typically a little more in-depth - a little less of an overview. You can also ask for more information from your visitor or prospect because they are a little more committed to learning from you, thanks to the introductory content you’ve already offered and they’ve deemed valuable. Middle-of-the-funnel content could be:

  • Advanced e-books
  • White papers
  • Catalogues
  • Samples
  • Demo videos
  • Product spec sheets
  • Product webinars

Bottom of the funnel, or Decision stage

Prospects in the Decision stage are creating a short list of businesses or products that can solve their problem. These people are your sales-qualified leads. They’ve taken the time to view your other content, have selected a solution strategy and are now evaluating vendors. Content directed at these prospects is focused on your business and demonstrating why you are the best choice.

At this stage of the decision-making process, these prospects are committed to learning from you so you can ask for more information from them in order to facilitate your sales conversations. This content can include:

  • Live demo
  • Pricing page
  • Case study


Content and information can be presented in any number of ways through various delivery channels. However, you don’t need to use them all. Focus your content on your buyer’s journey and their decision making process. Don’t be afraid to try new types or formats, but carefully measure and report your success so that you can ultimately focus your time and budget on what suits your business and your audience.

Contact us about your content strategy


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 25 August 2015 13:00 in Marketing Automation Tags: Content Marketing, Blogging, inbound marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1018 times
Hubspot Marketing Expertise

Hubspot Marketing Expertise

Hubspot is an inbound marketing software platform designed to help companies create and manage complex inbound marketing campaigns that attract buyers rather than interrupt them. Hubspot provides tools to create content, optimize it for search engines, share it via social media and email, and measure the results.

Hubspot says you can do it all with just one platform that includes tools for:

  • Email
  • Websites
  • SEO
  • Marketing Automation
  • Landing Pages
  • Analytics
  • Social Media
  • Blogging 

Sounds easy, right? 

Working with a partner

Hubspot makes it relatively easy for a marketer or content creator to gather insights, publish content and social media messages, send emails to segmented lists, and automate marketing. However, many businesses become overwhelmed with either how much there is to learn or how much time is needed to fully utilize the system, while simultaneously creating original content and resources.

To support businesses that use the platform, Hubspot created a Certified Partner Program. Hubspot partners possess Hubspot marketing expertise and work with businesses right in their Hubspot portals to get the most out of the tools and create inbound strategies that achieve business goals. Hubspot partners receive many hours of training and are continually exposed to new information, tools and the resources to be equipped to get things done more efficiently and in a shorter period of time both because of their expertise and because they’re in the system so regularly. Hubspot partners also have the opportunity to receive certifications (Inbound, Hubspot, Partner and Design) that take their skills to the next level and demonstrate their full commitment to Hubspot and to the inbound marketing methodology.

Hubspot tools and how a partner can help 

To utilize Hubspot, you must first understand inbound marketing and it’s methodology. Inbound marketing utilizes blog posts and various other types of online content to attract visitors who are looking for answers to specific questions. Landing pages are built to convert website visitors into leads by offering a piece of educational content and asking visitors to trade some personal information (name, company, email) for that content. Using information gathered through the landing page forms and lead-nurturing tactics, inbound marketers can nurture leads with targeted messages based on their actions or interactions with your website and content. Ultimately, the goal is to turn visitors into customers and, by “delighting” them, turn customers into evangelists.

While it’s goal is to be user-friendly, Hubspot is a complex content management system combined with a CRM,email and marketing automation tools.

It includes:

  • File management tools for storing images and files.
  • A template builder allowing users to create site-page, landing-page and email templates, ensuring a branded and consistent look and feel across all touchpoints.
  • Sitemap and URL tools to arrange and build an intuitive navigation and structure that is search engine friendly.
  • Landing page tools to create, optimize  and analyze landing pages to convert visitors into leads.
  • Drag-and-drop form builder to create powerful, custom forms to collect lead information.
  • Reporting tools to analyze data such as visits, leads and customers from various referral sources; page performance; competitors; keywords and conversion assists. This allows users to gauge what works and what might need refinement.
  • Email tools to create follow-up emails, newsletters, automated timed emails or offer emails, which are engaging and device responsive. Combined with templates, these emails can be customized depending on type, from simple text-based to image-rich emails.
  • A system to manage contacts, review contact properties and create segmented lists based on contact information or behavior. The contacts database also collects and reports on every touchpoint between your leads and your Hubspot assets, viewable in a chronological timeline.
  • A personas “wizard” to walk users through the creation of buyer personas for more targeted content mapping and list segmentation.
  • Social media monitoring, publishing and reporting tools allow users to link their business’s social media accounts and publish or schedule messages to each channel or to multiple channels at the same time. Users may also construct “streams” based on specific criteria in order to monitor keywords or Twitter users  and the associated activity on Twitter.
  • Campaign tools to  manage and easily monitor the performance of the various elements of a campaign at a glance.
  • Marketing automation tools to nurture leads efficiently utilizing sets of automated actions executed upon a trigger condition.
  • Third-party integrations for Salesforce, Wistia, GoToWebinar, SurveyMonkey and more.

As you can see, Hubspot has a lot to offer and the number of features can be overwhelming. But even small businesses can streamline and amplify their marketing efforts by leveraging just a few of the tools available. And by having all the information in one place -- rather than a cobbled-together system using a CMS such as Wordpress, an email marketing service, Google Analytics, Hootsuite and SEO research tools -- businesses can increase their efficiencies while generating more traffic and leads.

Hubspot offers a great deal of support and training to help you succeed using their software and inbound methodology. If you spend a little bit of time getting to know the features and participating in some of the training, you can achieve some success. If you spend a lot of time with the platform, you can learn to make it sing and dance. Unfortunately, many businesses find that time can be hard to come by among their other roles and responsibilities.

A partner agency can help.

Savoir Faire has been a Hubspot partner for several years and,  during that time has achieved and maintained a number of Hubspot certifications (Inbound Certified, Hubspot Certified, COS/Design Certified). We are now happy to report that we are also Partner Certified. As part of our ongoing efforts to remain current on best practices related to inbound marketing and on using the Hubspot software, Savoir Faire is proud to have achieved these certifications and proven our knowledge and proficiency to best support our Hubspot clients.

If you are a Hubspot customer or thinking about becoming one, contact us to learn more about working with Certified Partner Agency.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 17 August 2015 15:33 in Marketing Automation Tags: Hubspot, inbound marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 701 times
SEO Myths

SEO Myths

SEO  has seen remarkable change in the past decade in terms of how search engines crawl, index and rank pages; how people search for information; and how marketers influence the search engines to improve traffic. However, there is a shocking amount of misinformation about current SEO practices.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 17 August 2015 15:18 in Edification [Be the first to comment!] Read 595 times
An Introduction to Marketing Automation Tactics

An Introduction to Marketing Automation Tactics

As we wrote previously, marketing automation refers to a combination of strategy, software and tactics to attract, engage and nurture leads through the purchase process and into customers. This post will look at the various tactics involved in creating marketing automation strategies for business and an integrated marketing approach.

While many marketing automation software solutions are centered on a CRM or around email marketing, with email being a key channel in automation, marketing automation relies on a number of tactics to create a successful program or campaign.

Creating Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are fictitious representations of your ideal customer created using market research and anecdotal information about your existing customers. Personas allow you to better understand your prospects in order tailor content and messaging to suit his or her needs and address his or her concerns. You will very likely have more than one persona as you likely have more than one “type” of person who either buys from you or is involved in the purchase decision. Your website and content should take the different personas - and their different requirements - into account. This allows you to personalize offers and information for specific segments of your audience when sending emails to contacts in your database. Combined with lead scoring and lifecycle stages, personas let you map content and offers that are relevant and timely.

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring assigns point values to actions leads take or to their professional information (such as position in a company, company size or industry), which can then be used to rank individual leads. This allows businesses to separate good, quality leads from people who are just kicking the tires. By utilizing lead scoring, you can separate leads to whom your sales team should be talking from those who need more nurturing via other content offers and automated emails - or those who are merely doing research. Once you begin to score leads you can define scores which trigger a lead to become “sales ready” versus a “marketing qualified” or “prospect.”


Once you have defined personas, you can begin to define and map content to each persona at various buying stages (top of the funnel, middle of the funnel and bottom of the funnel). Content should address the needs of potential customers at each buying stage. Hubspot, an inbound marketing software platform, outlines types of content appropriate for different buying stages, with low-commitment offers at the top of the funnel and high-commitment offers at the bottom of the funnel.

Mapping Marketing Offers Resized 600

Content allows you to attract visitors,drawing them to the content you publish. It becomes a sustained effort to continually create or recreate content to attract visitors, convert leads and improve search rank. MOZ refers to this continuous effort as the content machine.

CTAs/Landing Pages/Thank-You Pages

Calls-to-Action, (CTAs), landing pages and thank-you pages are necessary to make your content available to users. CTAs are usually buttons or links which instruct a visitor to take a particular action (such as “learn more,” “download now,” “access the webinar”). They can be placed in blog posts or on website pages to help direct visitors to landing pages containing your content offer. Landing pages present the benefits of the offer and allow you to capture lead information using a form. When a user submits the form, he/she is then directed to a thank-you page where you can make good on the promise (the promise being the delivery of a valuable piece of content in exchange for some information).

These elements are written with specific messaging directed at the particular persona and buying stage of the visitor.

Social Media

Great content that can’t be found and shared is useless. Within a marketing automation program, it is important to integrate social media channels to maximize exposure and create a user feedback loop. Social media allows you to share blog posts and landing pages and attract targeted audience members to your website. Using social media to engage these people allows you to be helpful rather than pushy, and to gather feedback to improve content, marketing and, ultimately products or services.


Marketing automation allows you to segment your database of leads based on a variety of factors either individually or in combination in order to deliver targeted, personalized messages to groups of leads sharing certain characteristics, needs or behaviors. For example, using segmentation, you could send an email to “Vice Presidents of small businesses who have downloaded two or more content assets in the last year.” Segmenting contacts makes emails and campaigns more targeted and  effective and improves conversion rates.

According to Hubspot, “39% of marketers who segmented their email lists experienced higher open rates, 28% experienced lower unsubscribe rates, and 24% experienced better deliverability and greater revenue.”

Lead Nurturing and Workflows

Lead nurturing is a critical part of managing your marketing automation strategy. According to Marketo, lead nurturing is “the process of developing relationships with buyers at every stage of the sales funnel, and through every step of the buyer's journey. It focuses marketing and communication efforts on listening to the needs of prospects, and providing the information and answers they need.” Utilizing list segmentation and marketing automation, businesses can draw a lead through the buying process by delivering highly targeted messages and content to the right audience at the right time in order to inspire action.

Workflows take lead nurturing to an entirely new level by automating functions like sending an email or assigning a contact to a salesperson when they are  triggered by actions or information. Workflows are set up to follow a set of rules or specified flow to deliver highly personalized messages specific to the needs and interests of a contact at a given point in time. Workflows allow you to set up a series of emails with intervals relevant to action or even a lack of action. Workflow rules can also move contacts from one workflow to another based on specific conversions, resulting in greater segmentation and personalization.


There is some complexity involved in a fully-integrated marketing automation program for businesses and getting started can be overwhelming. Our advice: Start small. Crawl before you walk. Walk before you run. You will realize benefits with each step you take. Utilize tactics like landing pages with lead nurturing. Focus on a single persona initially and build out a few pieces of content. Then, grow your strategy and content library as you become more comfortable with creating content and campaigns. As your contact database grows, you can begin to add segmentation to make your nurturing more personalized and effective. Plus, the data you collect along the way will make each step you take smarter and more effective.

Look at marketing automation solutions closely. Email marketing solutions such as Mailchimp offer some marketing automation and workflow solutions as well as list segmentation tools. Other software providers such as Hatchbuck take a CRM-focused approach to marketing automation strategies for business. Hubspot and other robust solutions combine an email focus and a CRM focus with workflow tools that allow exact control over segmentation, triggered emails and reporting tools to measure campaign success. In the hands of an agency with Hubspot marketing expertise, these tools can come together to create an efficient lead gathering, lead nurturing and lead converting machine.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Thursday, 13 August 2015 11:06 in Marketing Automation [Be the first to comment!] Read 1933 times
The self-serv situation

The self-serv situation

Despite being allergic to dairy, I love Orange Leaf, a frozen yogurt chain with outlets in my area (though, thankfully, none too close). If you haven’t been to an Orange Leaf, chances are there’s something like it near you. This is one of those self-service yogurt shops where you can choose and mix your yogurt (or in my case a non-dairy frozen treat) and decide how much you want to eat. Then, you take your tub of soft serve to the toppings bar and add whatever your little heart desires. (They even have toppings I can eat, too!)

Oh, man. It’s good stuff. I’m giving myself a hankering.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 11 August 2015 14:48 in Steph Speak [Be the first to comment!] Read 619 times
What is Marketing Automation?

What is Marketing Automation?

What is marketing automation?

Despite the name, marketing automation is not a system put into place to send out generic messages to people en masse hoping that, by bombarding users with emails, some desired result will be achieved. The term marketing automation actually refers to the strategy, software and tactics used to attract, engage, segment and nurture prospects, leads and even customers. By utilizing software to connect social media, email and CRMs, and enabling multiple touch points, automation allows businesses to create a more efficient way to communicate with various audiences. This is especially important when communicating with a large number of potential customers - and using Outlook and Excel speadsheets to manage your program becomes unwieldy.

More than just an email system, marketing automation employs “triggers” - or online actions - to enroll users in workflows, which are designed to move users through the purchase process with strategically-timed messaging. Though follow-up emails are automated, in that they are programmed to be sent at specific intervals based on previous actions, they are carefully written, personalized using dynamic content, and sent to segmented lists based on personas and conversion paths. The messages are designed to attract and engage visitors, promoting communication across channels. By tracking actions and interactions, marketing automation helps collect and organize data from a number of marketing channels in order to improve lead scoring and lead qualification. Automation solutions also allow businesses to provide comprehensive and cohesive cross-channel experiences for users via templates and campaign tools.

Marketing automation is closely tied to inbound marketing, content marketing and the process of lead acquisition. Where inbound marketing uses blogging, social media and keywords to attract users and entice them to trade personal information (such as a name and email address) for valuable content (case studies, whitepapers, checklists, webinars, demos, etc), marketing automation nurtures those leads through their decision-making process by providing the right messaging at the right time.

What are the goals of a marketing automation strategy?

Goals are important to a successful marketing automation strategy. Not only do goals help  measure success and align marketing and sales teams, goals help businesses determine the most appropriate marketing automation solutions needed to achieve those goals.

Common goals include:

  • Increase leads. Marketing automation in combination with content marketing allows you to increase leads by informing landing page optimization, form and conversion path creation using real time data and A/B testing.
  • Manage leads more effectively. Marketing automation allows you to create segmented lists based on specific user information and conversion data such as email opens and clicks to send targeted information, as well as understand where in the sales funnel your contacts are.
  • Build stronger relationships. Automation allows businesses to stay top-of-mind with contacts especially throughout a long sales cycle. It also allows businesses to re-engage cold leads using content specifically created for these inactive prospects
  • Qualify leads using lead scoring. Marketing automation allows you to implement lead scoring, adding or subtracting points based on user actions in order to qualify leads before being passed to a member of the sales team. According to the Annuitas Group, “Businesses that use marketing automation to nurture prospects experiences a 451% increase in qualified leads.”
  • Increase conversions to customer. Using A/B testing and targeted messaging to specific contacts at the right time intervals, marketing automation allows business to increase conversions from lead to customer more quickly and at a reduced cost of acquisition. Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate “50% more sales ready leads at 33% lower cost.” (Forrester Research)

Marketing automation, though no longer a new concept, still carries some misconceptions. It’s not just email and it’s certainly not spam. It’s not about sending the same email to everyone on your contacts list every month, and you can’t just set it and forget it.  

Marketing automation is a complex system that requires testing, analysis and optimization based on data and user feedback.However,  if done correctly, automation can lead to faster sales cycles, increased customer satisfaction, lower cost of acquisition and greater efficiencies in managing your sales funnel. With so many touch points and opportunities to target niche audiences through various channels, marketing automation makes it easier to track leads where they are and communicate in a consistent brand voice while also creating a personalized user experience.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Thursday, 06 August 2015 12:23 in Marketing Automation [Be the first to comment!] Read 474 times
Quick Story: New to Twitter

Quick Story: New to Twitter

I met Ken at a conference recently who was new to Twitter. I was a little surprised by his feedback as it’s a less-than-common response: “I love it,” he said. This was a Boomer-aged business owner, which made it all the more surprising. Most Boomers I’ve encountered hear “Twitter” and their immediate reaction is “who cares what I had for breakfast?”

It turns out that Ken had started out on Twitter by following other people in his industry, and a handful of industry publications. Within a month of checking in on Twitter, he had seen a piece of news from an industry publication that affected one of his customers. Ken reached out to the customer and said something to the effect of, “hey, this is a big deal.” The customer’s response was “huh?”

This allowed Ken to break the news to the customer, positioning himself as knowledgeable and well-informed - and set himself up for a whole new vein of business based on that news.

Most people I talk to who aren’t familiar with Twitter, and some of those who have just dipped their toe in, don’t see the same opportunity that Ken did.

After the event, I took a stroll through Ken’s Twitter stream and found out that he’s taken to it like a duck to water. He tweets a combination of business and personal, including both pictures of his business travels and his pets. He retweets a combination of industry news, interesting pictures and tidbits, and a bunch of hockey tweets when the Manchester Monarchs won the Calder Cup. (w00t!) He’s doing a great job and I anticipate he’ll continue to see good things come of it.

Free guide: Social prospecting

Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 04 August 2015 19:09 in Steph Speak Tags: social media, Twitter [Be the first to comment!] Read 585 times
The advantages of third-party email service providers

The advantages of third-party email service providers

Email marketing is a cost-effective way to send content, share promotions, make recommendations and stay in touch with leads and customers who are interested in what you have to say. Email allows you to cut through the clutter and give people the information they want when they want it. In fact, an eMarketer study found that email is the preferred method of communicating with businesses. 

Further, eMarketer also found that email was cited as the most effective digital marketing channel for customer retention in the United States, and a separate study by BtoB Magazine found that 50% of B2B marketers consider email to be the most effective channel for generating revenue. There’s a big upside to using email strategically.

However, creating great email isn’t the only important step. Once you have crafted an email people want to read, you need a way to send it. If you are using a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or Joomla, you might be aware of plugins and extensions that will add newsletter functionality to your site, some of which include jNews, Acymailing, RSMail, and SendPress. If you aren’t using a CMS, you might consider utilizing an open source system that uses your website’s PHP mail function.


Newsletter add-ons such as these are attractive because they allow you to manage your newsletters and subscribers right within your CMS. But beware, using systems that leverage your website’s php mail function can affect your overall email deliverability and your website reputation.

Sending limitations

Your web host might have limitations on the number of emails which can be sent per hour. For example, HostGator limits you to 500 outgoing mail messages per hour per domain.  If your list is large, you could reach that limit quickly and your system might stop sending or the emails will bounce back with an deliverability error. For some hosts, mailing lists larger than 5,000 addresses will require a dedicated server or virtual private server hosting solution. Some newsletter systems have a queue or can use CRON to schedule bulk sends or to throttle mailing (pausing for a set number of seconds after each email is sent),  however, things can go wrong and your outgoing process could be terminated before completion. Additionally, a web host could see emails to large lists as an abuse of service, especially if mailing list rules are not followed.

Conversely, email service providers (such as Mailchimp, Aweber and Constant Contact) are built for bulk sending. Their servers are configured to allow massive numbers of emails to be sent in short periods of time.


There is also a good chance bulk email could be marked as SPAM when sent via your website. Email providers such as Gmail and Yahoo have a number of rules in place to protect users against spam. Not only does Gmail scan email headers, it also scans the content of email looking for “spammy” information and malware. Emails that are sent via a website in a shared hosting environment might have the same IP as emails from other websites on the shared server. The simple fact that the IP does not belong to the sending domain could cause an Internet Service Provider (ISP) to mark an email as spam.

Worse than simply sharing an IP address, you also share the reputation of other websites on a shared hosting plan. Many ISPs use the reputation of the server sending messages to determine whether an email is spam. As such, if a  website on the shared server has been flagged as an abuser, your site could also be penalized.

Email service providers such as Mailchimp work hard to ensure deliverability. They have engineers who constantly improve their email systems to ensure emails are compliant with CAN-SPAM requirements and improve deliverability rates. They also have relationships with ISPs, are approved as bulk mail delivery services, and provide strict guidelines to avoid being labeled as a server that sends spam.

Avoid being blacklisted

Malware ScreensAccording to inmotion hosting, it is estimated that between 80-95% of all email transmitted on the Internet is spam. To help weed through spam messages, there are public blacklists of mail servers that have been relaying spam. Mail servers such as Gmail can then check a message against the public blacklists before relaying messages to users.

Mail IP addresses can easily end up blacklisted, especially when they exist on a shared server where the shear volume of email might raise a red flag.

And, no matter how clean your email list is, eventually someone will report you as a spammer. If enough reports are made, you risk being blacklisted. Not only can this affect your ability to access email, but if you send using your website’s php mail function, your website could be blacklisted as well (resulting in the display of Google’s embarrassing red, blacklist screen. Note that different browsers display different messages but all should be similar).

Email service providers send from their servers so your email is never at risk of being blacklisted, which also protects your website from collateral damage and ensures that the routine email you do send from your domain makes it to the intended destination.


Plugins and solutions that utilize your website’s php mail function for bulk mailing can reduce the likelihood of delivery and can have negative consequences  your website as a whole.  Third-party systems protect your website and work to maintain the highest possible delivery rates. Additionally, they provide integrations for your CMS and website allowing you to display easy subscription and sign up forms for your visitors. These systems also offer robust reporting and analysis tools that are lacking in many of the plugins/extensions. For a comparison of some popular email service providers, please read our blog post, Email Marketing Services Comparison.

What are your thoughts on email service providers? Have any tips for how to avoid being classified as SPAM? Please share with our readers using the comments below.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 28 July 2015 14:50 in Email Marketing Tags: websites, mailchimp [Be the first to comment!] Read 1325 times
Creating Inbound Marketing Campaigns

Creating Inbound Marketing Campaigns

We’ve written previously about inbound marketing and the elements of an inbound campaign. I’ve talked about how inbound marketing takes things you already know – your website, blog, email and social media – and activates them a little differently to create a completely different outcome. That website you built as a standalone tower some time ago MUST now be integrated with your other online channels to create a village of inter-connected, inter-related activities.

Once you do that, you can begin to run distinct, measurable inbound campaigns. A campaign typically starts with a desired outcome from a desired audience. You want Customer Type A to learn X about your industry or solution. The “bait,” if you will, is a specific piece of content. The campaign would be all the connected activities you do to: promote the piece; draw attention to it; attract people to it; and demonstrate enough value that they will exchange their name and contact information for it.

If you tie all these elements together and track them as a campaign using Hubspot or another marketing automation platform, you will be able to identify what is or isn’t working in the attract > convert > close cycle for that goal and audience.

We know that there are a lot of moving parts when it comes to planning and executing an inbound marketing campaign. We’ve put together a resource that outlines some of Hubspot’s best resources, templates and workbooks for each stage of a campaign. If you’ve got questions on any element of an inbound marketing campaign, this resource is a great place to start. If you have further questions after reviewing the reference guide, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment here, or email me directly at stephanie(at)savoirfaire-us.com.

Download the Inbound Marketing Campaign Reference Guide

Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 21 July 2015 16:51 in Steph Speak Tags: inbound marketing, marketing campaigns [Be the first to comment!] Read 334 times
Your website: don’t  “set it and forget it”

Your website: don’t “set it and forget it”

We’ve said it before, technology is changing — rapidly — from the appliances in our homes to the communications methods we use to the cars we drive. And though our phones or computers or TVs still work, if they don’t have the fastest processor, newest integrations or highest pixel quality, we end up wanting to upgrade or update them as soon as we can.

And, if we aren’t upgrading, we are at least maintaining. Take your car for example. Every 5,000 miles, you bring your car to your dealer or trusted mechanic for regular maintenance. They change the oil and filter, check the tires, inspect the brake pads and top off the fluids. At other times, more in-depth maintenance is performed such as tire rotation or manufacturer-recommended software updates, recalls or repairs.  You take care of your car to make sure it works and continues to  perform at its best.

So why would you let your website stagnate for years?


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 13 July 2015 16:50 in Websites Tags: website maintainance, website development [Be the first to comment!] Read 437 times
Technology: the only constant is change

Technology: the only constant is change

Recently, my microwave died. It did so in flamboyant and hysterical fashion. It was late; we had been out with friends. We were hungry. We put something in the microwave and hit Go. Some number of seconds later as we were going about our merry way in the kitchen, there was a loud POP and a flash of light. Somewhat like a military flashbang, we were surprised and disoriented…and then pretty amused by the demonstration.

In the light of day, I got down to finding a replacement – and it got me to thinking. I hadn’t replaced the microwave in nine years. (A good run, I know!) In that time, microwaves had changed dramatically. Now there are all manner of specialty programs for a wide variety of foods. There are sensors to know when my frozen block of hamburg is thawed - and a complementary program that accounts for a one, two or three pound block.

Then I remembered that my mom redid her kitchen a couple years ago and ran into a lot of the same things.

Refrigerators these days have freezer drawers on the bottom, where they were traditionally on top. They have internal or external water and ice makers. They have door alarms and configurable shelves and temperature/humidity zone settings for different foods.

Now, you can get double ovens nearly standard – a feature that was only available on commercial cookers in the not too distant past. There is convection; there are built-in meat thermometers; warming trays; timers; delay mode; warm mode. Just 10 years ago these features either didn’t exist or were only available in the $$$$$ category. (Then again, we weren’t all obsessed with competitive cooking shows a decade ago, either.)

My point is, when you look around your kitchen, no matter what appliance you light upon, you’ll find that it has probably evolved quite a bit in recent years. And, if you were put in the position that my microwave put me in, it wouldn’t be a matter of just going and grabbing a replacement. In fact, your model likely doesn’t exist anymore. You’d probably want to do some research and learn about the new features available to decide if it makes sense to have them in your next version.

The same could be said for the technology in your living room. The TV, stereo, speakers, game-box-turned-entertainment-system – even your cable box – has evolved dramatically in recent years.

Wait. Then there’s the whole Internet of Things (IOT) that’s evolving everything from home security to your lights and thermostat.

So, after wandering around the house and looking at the technology evolutions, let’s head to the computer and look at your website. I’ve got a couple questions for you:

  • How long has it been since you built/rebuilt/redesigned, or even attended to, your company’s website?
  • Do you suppose the way we use an oven has evolved as much as the way we use the Internet in the time since you did?
  • And has any of these changed since you last updated your website? Your business model, business objectives or web channel goals?

Are you catching my drift?


Website redesign checklist


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Thursday, 25 June 2015 20:32 in Steph Speak Tags: technology, websites [Be the first to comment!] Read 961 times
Social Media – it’s not just for breakfast anymore

Social Media – it’s not just for breakfast anymore

When I talk to business owners about social media, they invariably make one of a couple kneejerk responses that make them sound a little like Austin Powers when he told Scott “I’m with it; I’m hip,” right before he busts out with the Macarena.

The problem is, their reactions are based on old information about the use and value of the various social media platforms. They think Facebook is for vacation photos; LinkedIn is an online Rolodex; and Twitter is about what you had for breakfast. While these things may have been among the headlines in each platforms’ infancies – and they can still be used for those things, should you want – they have grown and evolved dramatically since then. Hopefully, it’s just that you were too busy running your business to keep up with the changes.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Thursday, 25 June 2015 14:54 in Social Media Tags: social media, Social Prospecting, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn [Be the first to comment!] Read 1094 times
What you need to consider when selecting a web host

What you need to consider when selecting a web host

A number of factors come into play when choosing a web host and hosting plan among the hundreds of thousands of providers available. A careful evaluation of your website requirements and hosting service features can help identify the best (though rarely perfect) host and hosting plan for your needs.

Server: Web servers are what “serve” your web pages to website visitors. This is the element that essentially “turns the lights on” and makes your site available online. Common application, operating system and database combinations can help you determine the right server for you.

  •      LAMP: Linux, Apache, MySQL and PHP
  •      WIMP: Windows, IIS, MySQL/MS SQL Server and PHP
  •      WAMP: Windows, Apache, MySQL/MS SQL Server and PHP
  •      LEMP: Linux, NGINX, MySQL and PHP

For example, if you have identified WordPress as the Content Management System for your site, you will need a web host that supports PHP 5.4 or greater, MySQL and includes the mod_rewrite Apache module. This gives you two options, LAMP or WAMP. However, unless you need a windows server to run ASP scripts, the Linux server will be less costly and complex to maintain.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 22 June 2015 17:41 in Websites Tags: web hosting, web development [Be the first to comment!] Read 874 times
Your Responsibilities in the Web Development Process

Your Responsibilities in the Web Development Process

In our previous blog post, The Importance of Website Planning, we talked about the questions a client might be asked during the discovery phase of a website build or redesign. These questions help the web development team select the right content management system, plan for necessary functionality and site expansion and guide the overall design and structure of the site.

Once the discovery phase has been completed and the design and development process has begun, there are a number of other items that the web development team will likely need, depending on the goals of the site and your answers to previous questions.

Where is your current site hosted?

Hosting companies are the entities that essentially “turn on the lights” of your website and make it available on the Internet. These companies offer various hosting solutions: Your site could reside on a shared server, a dedicated server, or a virtual dedicated server. The server could run a variety of  operating systems and software. Hosts sell packages based on server type and options such as bandwidth, disk space, domain options, and more. How a website is built, what it needs to do, and how much traffic it handles all go into the choice of the right host.

If you already have a host, your web development team will ask for your control panel login. This access allows them to assess your host’s resources; set up a development or testing area; create any necessary databases; and, manage files. Not all hosting plans include cpanel access. If you do not have a host, you’ll need to get one prior to any development, based on the needs uncovered during the discovery phase.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 15 June 2015 21:11 in Websites [Be the first to comment!] Read 701 times
Email Marketing Services Comparison

Email Marketing Services Comparison

Among so many new social media channels, email marketing might seem a bit old-fashioned. But this tactic, the old tool in the marketing toolbox, plays an important part in building a strong content marketing or inbound marketing plan. Email allows you to nurture new leads as well as communicate in a timely manner with existing customers. And, in general, email marketing, compared to the cost of print and broadcast advertising is extremely cost effective.

According to eMarketer, email is also the preferred method of communicating with businesses, according to 69.7% of U.S. internet user. AND, people who receive product offers through emails spend 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers. (Source: Convince and Convert)

But even if users want your emails, you must still create emails they want to read.

Emails should be responsive. According to Forrester, 72% of U.S. online adults send or receive personal emails via smartphone weekly. That means if you aren’t creating emails that can be easily read on mobile devices, your open rates could see a significant decline.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Thursday, 21 May 2015 13:39 in Email Marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 704 times
Upcoming SNHHUG

Upcoming SNHHUG

Our next SNHHUG event is May 27. We’ll have Al Biedrzycki from Hubspot to discuss “Conversion Paths.” We love Al so much, this will be his second visit to our HUG (Hubspot User Group). The event will be held at The Shaskeen, an Irish pub and restaurant in Manchester NH. We'll have light appetizers and we’ll even buy you a drink. 


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Friday, 08 May 2015 16:46 in Happenings [Be the first to comment!] Read 533 times
How to choose a content management system

How to choose a content management system

An important step in the website planning process is identifying how self-sufficient you want to be once the site launches versus having to rely on a developer or webmaster for updates, edits and maintenance. If you determine that you want to make edits, add events, write blog posts or other content but don’t know HTML/PHP/Javascript or other programming languages common in web development, then a Content Management System might be right for you.

What is a content management system?

A content management system (CMS) is a web-based application that allows non-technical users to manage online content from a web browser. This might include creating, editing, publishing, archiving and deleting content, files and data. Many CMS use a Graphical User Interface (GUI). This means that actions and functions will be represented by icons and visual cues versus command-line or code-based execution. Many of these systems will have content editors that are born from the Microsoft Word framework.

There are a variety of content management systems available, from free open-source systems to expensive enterprise and custom built systems. Choosing the right CMS starts with a clearly defined set of requirements and an evaluation of how each system can satisfy those requirements. For example, do you need a lot of customization or support? Do you need to be able to define multiple system roles and permission levels? Do you need an e-commerce system? Will you need to integrate your CMS with data from some other source? Will you need support for other languages?


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 05 May 2015 19:01 in Websites [Be the first to comment!] Read 597 times
What are the elements of an inbound marketing campaign?

What are the elements of an inbound marketing campaign?

The elements of an inbound marketing campaign differ from those of traditional campaigns. In the past, your campaign might have included print advertising, television/radio advertising, outdoor advertising, direct mail and maybe a bit of PR to generate media coverage in appropriate publications and outlets.

The evolution of marketing to include a variety of online channels has changed the traditional campaign, allowing marketers to augment their campaigns and to create inbound campaigns focused on earning the attention of customers and facilitating communication.

For an inbound campaign to be successful, there are a number of elements that must be included and designed to work in concert.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Thursday, 23 April 2015 17:35 in Content Marketing

Quick Ref

[Be the first to comment!] Read 1660 times
Embracing Change on TV – and in Marketing

Embracing Change on TV – and in Marketing

I read an article in The Boston Sunday Globe a couple of months ago that has stuck with me. TV Critic Matthew Gilbert discussed the evolution of TV acting in a way that struck me as stunningly similar to the evolution that we’ve seen in marketing in the past several years. I haven’t been able to get it out of my mind. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the evolution of marketing and how to convey to business owners truly how much has changed and why it’s time to learn some new tricks.

In discussing a character from the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black,” Gilbert talks about actors who are “embracing the medium’s great advantages – the wealth of screen time to flesh out a character, the opportunity to earn every inch of a character’s transformation, the synchronicity of having a screenwriter writing specifically for them as the seasons accumulate, the nimbler pace than on movie sets, and the sweet mystery of exactly what stories will be coming down the pike.”

It’s a lot to take in but it has much in common with the transformation of marketing. With the evolution of the web and how people use it to shop and buy, the medium – in our case the web – does, indeed, have great advantages. As businesses, we also have a wealth of screen time to flesh out our company’s personality, offerings and credibility while the buyer makes their way through the purchase process. We can offer website content, educational content, videos, white papers, social media updates. We can engage with them at their computer, on their phone or via their tablet. We can bring our companies to life for those who are asking questions and looking for solutions that our services and products can provide.

Tumblr Ndyvm5VJTx1tubinno1 1280

In this analogy, we as marketers become that screenwriter and we truly do have the opportunity to write specifically for the types of characters that are interested in our products and solutions. And, we can write for them progressively, as the seasons of our customer acquisition process accumulate. With our content and all the things we can do online, we can accompany our potential customers along their purchase process, including the stages of asking a question, researching a solution, qualifying a provider and, finally, making a purchase.

The web is certainly nimbler than the traditional marketing and advertising methods – on television and in newspapers and magazines.

Audrey Meadows, Jackie Gleason, Art Carney. CBS.

Gilbert says, for decades, TV was considered the poor relation to movie and theater acting – with some validity. He says that it was “rooted in radio soaps and vaudeville, where staying on the surface and directness were critical.”

The same was true with traditional marketing and advertising tactics. They were built for the mass audiences of the mediums they employed and needed to be built with lowest-common-denominator messages to attract as many people as possible.

Gilbert agrees: “Before the cable explosion, the creators of network shows were avoiding subtlety in order to attract as many viewers as possible. The stories and the acting had to be obvious, so as not to confuse the less sensitive or less sophisticated audience members.

By this paragraph in the article, I was practically hooting and hollering because it parallels so closely the evolution of marketing. I posit that the evolution of the mediums brought about the evolution of their usage. Prior to the cable explosion, there were just the main networks to watch. And so, TV shows had to appeal to the broadest possible audience. But now, with not only cable and premium cable and streaming options available, there is a place for different types of shows. We all know the one-note sitcoms still live on today! But now there is a place for people who want to get emotionally involved with their characters. HBO, Showtime, Netflix, Amazon Prime – and so many others, can now provide shows for smaller audiences and, thus, make them more relevant – and binge-worthy.

We can do the same thing with our marketing. Truly. I had a client recently point out the “Journey to $100,000” blog to me, with the claim that she sat and read every single post one evening, after coming across a single post on Twitter. Today, we can create marketing that’s so good and so relevant and so engaging that people will binge on it.

Gilbert calls some of today’s TV performances “particularly TV-esque,” because of their “organic unfolding over time.” There isn’t a better example of marketing built to unfold over time than the Groove HQ blog.

Entertainment Weekly promotional photo. From left to right Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and Peter Dinklage.

I suppose the bottom line is, if you’re a fan of the new kind of TV – from OITNB to “Game of Thrones” to “Mad Men,” and a whole host of others – it’s worth asking yourself if you like how juicy, and real, and engaging they are, how they hold your attention over time. If you do, then it might be worth also asking whether you can apply some of those same loveable traits to marketing your business.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 13 April 2015 11:53 in Content Marketing Tags: inbound marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 684 times
Algorithm update and mobile

Algorithm update and mobile

It’s possible that recent Google updates, Penguin and Panda, didn’t affect your website’s search rankings, but according to Hubspot, the next update will be bigger and will use mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. That means if your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you might not rank as high in the SERPs when a user searches on a mobile device.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Thursday, 09 April 2015 21:10 in Edification [Be the first to comment!] Read 467 times
What is

What is "Responsive Design"

Traditionally, websites were designed and coded to take advantage of as much screen real-estate of the smallest, but still widely used, screen sizes. If there were enough users using a desktop or laptop with a screen resolution of 800 pixels wide, then a website was typically built to display at 750 pixels wide, for example. That width was static for all screens regardless of size. The website would look the same on a 13” laptop and a 19” desktop monitor, often leaving large amounts of unused space in the margins to the left and right of the site on larger screens.

That has changed dramatically in recent years and, today, good web design is responsive design.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 07 April 2015 13:16 in Graphic Design Tags: web design, responsive design, mobile websites [Be the first to comment!] Read 558 times
The importance of website planning

The importance of website planning

Consider building a website like building a house. You must begin with a solid foundation and architectural plans before you can apply paint or hang kitchen cabinets or the house will fall apart.

Creating even a basic website involves a great deal of planning and discovery before any design or development can begin. These initial planning and strategy phases allow the web team to uncover your needs, brand information, audience demographics and the core purpose of the site in order to build a solid foundation upon which the site’s “look and feel” (colors and fonts) can be applied. 

The discovery phase allows the website/marketing team to ask the client a myriad of questions to determine the needs the site addresses, the problems it solves and the functionality it must possess. These may include:


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 17 February 2015 00:00 in Graphic Design Tags: website architecture, website planning, website development [Be the first to comment!] Read 880 times
Our top social sharing plugins

Our top social sharing plugins

At this point, you probably know that creating content is an important part to getting found online and improving your search engine results. And having great content that is shareworthy is even better. But if it isn’t easy to share, then it won't go anywhere.

Posting your content on social media can help your business; adding plugins and widgets will help readers easily spread your content for you.

Did you know, according to Alicia Lawrence of Search Engine People, 50% of internet users are active on Facebook and 52% of Marketers have gained a customer through Facebook while 35% have done so through Twitter.

Here are some of our top picks to get started with.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Tuesday, 17 February 2015 00:00 in Social Media [Be the first to comment!] Read 948 times
SNHHUGLE up to Inbound Marketing

SNHHUGLE up to Inbound Marketing

The Southern NH HubSpot User Group (SNHHUG - pronounced “snug” - for short) is one of almost a hundred Hubspot User Groups (HUGs) around the world. These groups were created to build a community and provide networking and learning opportunities for inbound marketers as well as anyone interested in inbound strategies and/or HubSpot software. The events are held quarterly.

SNHHUG is for HubSpot customers and non-customers alike. While we do discuss specific Hubspot tools with regard to inbound strategies, SNHHUG focuses on generating interest in and discussion of inbound marketing techniques in general. It’s for people who love and practice inbound marketing and for people who are just learning about inbound marketing. It’s for those currently employed in a marketing role and those who aren’t direct marketing practitioners. 

Marketing has changed with unsettling velocity in recent years. You may have noticed that your customary marketing efforts have lost effectiveness. New marketing disciplines are evolving to meet these challenges and they’re not beyond your reach. SNHHUG wants to help you explore the new tools and guide you through the “inbound playbook.”

SNHHUG meets at The Shaskeen Irish Pub in downtown Manchester. The Shaskeen’s back room offers a casual meeting space where you can network and learn in an intimate and unintimidating setting. We provide light appetizers to help bridge the gap between work and dinner, and we’ll even buy everyone a drink.

For SNHHUG’s Q1 meetup, we’ll focus on lead generation.

Lead generation refers to a conversion process of website visitors from their initial exposure to a “call-to-action” to their subsequent completion of information on a landing page and the thank you page that makes good on the promised offer. With inbound, you attract visitors or potential leads through your blog, keywords and social media. You then use forms, calls-to-action and landing pages to convert those visitors into leads.

We’ll discuss best practices regarding the above elements and persona-targeted content based on your buyer’s journey through the “stages” of the decision making process. We’ll also look at ways to be more efficient with your lead generation using content mapping tools and content recycling. 


Visit the SNHHUG website or Register now!


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Friday, 06 February 2015 00:00 in Content Marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 549 times
Six questions with Hubspot’s Brian Halligan

Six questions with Hubspot’s Brian Halligan

Savoir Faire is abuzz with preparations for Thursday’s Make Your Marketing Matter event, which will feature Brian Halligan, CEO of Hubspot, the leading marketing automation software company. Brian coined the term “inbound marketing” in 2005 to describe how he saw marketing changing along with the evolution of how we use the web.

We’re looking forward to hosting Brian in the 603 to talk inbound marketing with a group of business owners and marketers who are eager to learn how to connect with customers and prospects more meaningfully this year.

We asked Brian to get started a little early and answer a few questions about inbound marketing and what’s next for companies who want to make their marketing matter.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 12 January 2015 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: Hubspot, brian halligan, inbound marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1388 times
Have you heard about inbound marketing yet?

Have you heard about inbound marketing yet?

I talk to a lot of business owners and managers about their marketing efforts. In most conversations, we get to a junction where I ask the question above. Most times the people I’m talking to get some faraway look in their eyes and answer some version of: hmmmmm; I think so; I may have; or even a flat out “no.”

Inbound Marketing is an emerging discipline in marketing. It has developed in concert with the evolution of technology and how we use the web. At its core, it’s about being found online. Business owners and managers are starting to hear the phrase whispered around the periphery but the practice will soon become mainstream.

You see, traditional advertising and marketing was all about one-way communication of messages boiled down to the lowest common denominator. Traditional advertising vehicles reached a mass market, so your messages had to connect with as many people as possible to warrant the huge investment it took to place them. Hence: Bud Light was for guys who watch football and ogle scantily dressed women. Plenty of people drink Bud Light, I would hazard, but that’s the lowest common denominator – and it worked….for a time.

Now, we can fast forward through commercials, avoid telemarketers with caller ID, throw away “junk” mail and generally avoid advertising messages when we choose to.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Thursday, 11 December 2014 00:00 in Content Marketing Tags: inbound marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 2251 times
Keeping your design in-house can still cost a lot

Keeping your design in-house can still cost a lot

In many small businesses, owners and employees often wear many hats, doing multiple jobs, for which the business simply cannot hire experts in each. For example, the administrative assistant might also be the marketing director; the office manager might also be the graphic designer.

In theory, this approach can save money on additional full-time employees. However, in many cases, keeping your marketing and graphic design in-house can be more costly than hiring an expert in the field.

Marketing and graphic design are much more technical than many people understand or assume. (“It’s not rocket science,” right?) However, lack of familiarity with design programs or best practices can result in projects that take more time than necessary, or easily go over budget.

If you’re doing your design in-house, we hope you’re at least using Adobe’s Creative Suite, which includes Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign and Acrobat (a $1,500 investment, or $50/month for the Creative Cloud) —the core programs every print-designer needs.

If you’re building your print projects in MS Word, MS PowerPoint or MS Publisher, then your printer isn’t going to be happy with you and, more importantly, you very likely won’t be happy with the end result. These simply are not industry-standard applications for designing marketing materials, and they can result in poor quality graphics. Remember that this reflects on both your business and your brand. Printers need to put in additional effort when dealing with these applications and that can increase production time and print costs.


Janna Hartley - Janna Hartley

k2_ON Monday, 17 November 2014 00:00 in Graphic Design Tags: inhouse design, print design [Be the first to comment!] Read 1958 times
Inbound 2014 Agenda Overview

Inbound 2014 Agenda Overview

There’s only a week until Inbound 2014 in Boston and we couldn’t be more excited! We are looking forward to some exciting keynotes along with the nitty-gritty learning opportunities during the sessions.

As with last year, we found the online Inbound 2014 schedule a little daunting and the “at a glance” version didn't contain any session titles or room numbers. We created our own schedule for last year’s Inbound 2013 that turned out to make our lives a lot easier. Thus, we thought a more usable and planning-friendly schedule could help everyone out for this year’s Inbound 2014 as well!

We realize we’re probably not the only ones who had issues with the schedule provided on inbound.com, so our version is available for free download for those interested. It prints out at 9 pages, landscape orientation, on regular-sized paper. The PDF header links to the full agenda if you want more information about a presentation.

Also, caveat: this was created based on the current schedule on inbound.com. There will likely be updates and filled holes between now and conference time.

We hope this proves useful for you as you dive into Inbound 2014. We’ll see ya’ll there!

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See what our team will be up to at Inbound 2014:


Excited to check out: I always love the keynotes. They’re inspiring and I find they give me some great new language to take back to my clients and my business. Beyond that, I’m interested in some of the SEO sessions, since that’s such an important piece of a digital strategy. And, if there’s time, there are a few partner-focused sessions that look like they’d be valuable for me.


Most interested in: The deep-dive sessions. Learning new tools or applications helps progress my skill set and gets the wheels turning for improving what we already do.


Can’t wait for: Buyer Personas in Hubspot. Having a clear idea of a target consumer is so valuable. I’m looking forward to really digging into how Hubspot supports this.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Wednesday, 10 September 2014 00:00 in Content Marketing Tags: inbound conference, Hubspot [Be the first to comment!] Read 3694 times
The #icebucketchallenge, McLaughlin style

The #icebucketchallenge, McLaughlin style

I try not to get too personal on the company blog but I can’t resist this story.

By now, you’ve no doubt heard of the ALS #icebucketchallenge, the stunt that has taken over social media for the past three weeks. The effort has achieved the manna of “going viral,” the hope and dream of every online marketer. It has also raised awareness and a dazzling amount of money for Lou Gehrig’s disease. 


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 26 August 2014 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: ALS, Ice Bucket Challenge [Be the first to comment!] Read 15019 times
Turn Your Website Into a Marketing Asset

Turn Your Website Into a Marketing Asset

Marketing has changed dramatically in recent years, specifically in terms of how consumers respond to information. Common methods of getting the message out about a company’s products and services like direct mail, print ads, radio and TV ads and cold calling are losing their power. Most consumers use the internet for much of their communication, shopping and paying their bills. What they read online, in their e-mail, and on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook as mediums influences their decisions, though experts disagree on how much that influence weighs.

Your Website is Your Opportunity to Interact with Your Customers and Prospects

Your website can be a powerful tool - It tells your story. It pitches your products and services.  Too often, though, consumers visit websites only to turn around and leave. One-way sales messaging provides little reason for a consumer to stay on the site. With no reason to stay, there’s no way to convert this visitor into a customer. No longer does a glorified brochure website serve you well. Your website should be a marketing asset – something that draws visitors in and gets them to engage with your company.

Solution: create consumable content.

Content gives visitors a reason to engage. Today’s consumers want to get to know you and why you’re different. And they use the Internet as a vehicle to educate themselves and learn from “experts” in their area of interest.

Consider this: With the evolution of how people use the Web, the way people make purchases has also changed. The traditional purchase process has been turned on its head. Traditionally, there was “information asymmetry” in the sales process. This meant that the seller had most of the information about the product, service or company and the buyer had very little. As a result the seller had leverage in the sales process. This is no longer true. Today, web-enabled buyers are doing their own research and have very likely qualified you in some way before they even become known to you.

Creating quality content on your website allows you to provide valuable information to consumers considering purchases, whether in their business or personal lives. The availability of good content entices consumers to return to your site, or to follow you through social media. As such, you become a hub (lots of two-way interaction) rather than a megaphone (limited one-way interaction), fostering consumer engagement.

Your Own Expertise is Your Best Content

You are your own best source of content! What have you learned from being in the industry? How did you decide to differentiate your business from your competitors? What are three things most people don’t know about your field?

You are the expert!  Your personal knowledge, skills and expertise are ultimately what consumers will base their purchase decision on. Remember: people don’t do business with companies. They do business with people they like and trust.

Use your company’s story, skill sets, and history as content that allows your prospects to get to know you. Creating engaging content base on your expertise allows your products/services to sell themselves and allows a prospect to develop a level of trust with you and your company.

Online Content Ideas:

  • Blog Posts: 1-2 page articles and posts on new, interesting topics relating to your products/services and the industry at large
  • E-Books: in-depth discussion of a subject or how-to outline of a concept or process
  • White Papers: 5-10 page papers educating the marketplace about trends, challenges, and methods in your industry
  • Videos: 1-2 min. about your industry, processes and products
  • Webinars: Live, interactive presentations made to a group online about a relevant topic
  • Podcasts: 10-20min audio programs, “talk shows” or interviews on industry topics
  • Webcasts: Live video shows educating or interviewing about industry news and topics

Developing a Program

At this point, people are usually nodding their heads, with an understanding that content can help them engage with visitors to their website and that engagement can lead to conversion from visitor to lead to customer. It’s the next part that’s difficult for most companies: developing the program.

Most of the time we hear “we don’t have anything interesting to say,” or “we’re not writers,” or “have you seen how engineers try to explain things?”

That’s where we come in. in a one-hour assessment of your marketing efforts, we can help you identify the areas in which you could make an impact online and give you ideas for how to turn your website from a pretty brochure into a productive member of your sales team.

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Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Wednesday, 16 July 2014 00:00 in Content Marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 6742 times
Do You Have What it takes to Convert?

Do You Have What it takes to Convert?

A Guide to Creating Landing Pages

Landing pages are a common and vital part of a business’s online presence. They're a key element of an inbound marketing strategy. Don't be fooled by their simplicity! Engaging landing pages speak to a clear target audience and provide a streamlined user experience.

The goal of a landing page is to capture a visitor’s information so that you can communicate with them during their purchase process. If done correctly, a landing page will convert a visitor into a follower. 

Factors such as the style of messaging and where information is placed affect how a visitor experiences your page. This will ultimately determine whether or not they are willing to engage with a brand. Thus, becoming clear on key points such as your target audience, your offer, and your call to action will make a big difference in how visitors interact with your page.

For an overview landing pages marketing strategy, Savoir Faire has created a short guide for reference. Click the button below and check out our landing page!

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Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Thursday, 10 April 2014 00:00 in Content Marketing Tags: inbound marketing, marketing strategies [Be the first to comment!] Read 2033 times

Printer error…

It's been an emotional roller coaster here at SFMC HQ in the past hour: the printer stopped printing just as I needed to print a document for a client. Nothing dramatic, just stopped.

Called Epson support; reached a human being (yay!). They say hardware error and can't be fixed via reset over the phone (boo!).

They direct me to a service provider here in town (there's an actual service provider within 3 miles of my office? YAY!).

Call the service provider; they can fix it and they would recommend the maintenance as it's a quality machine (yay!).

Cost will be less than $100 (yay!).

Repair will take 3-5 days (boo!).

What to do in meantime? Pull old printer and install a printer I got two years ago "free" with purchase of a laptop. Box has never been opened (feeling quite pleased with self; hoarding does actually pay off sometimes).

No USB cable in box. Boo!

Wait! Same USB cable as old printer. YAY!

Printer drivers won't install - Windows 7 not supported (boo!).

Ultimate outcome: Go to jail. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200.

And, find something that will print documents for next week. (Anyone??)

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 21 June 2011 13:24 in Steph Speak [Be the first to comment!] Read 1018 times

Staples saved my business last weekend

We had a catastrophic computer failure here at Savoir Faire HQ last Friday morning. You know, the kind of thing that will put a small business out of business for a few days? Nothing interesting happened, just the blue screen of death and then a crunchy little "click" and the computer shut down. For good. There may as well have been a puff of smoke wafting out of the keyboard for emphasis.

After panicking, getting calm again and taking control, I headed out to my local Staples store to get some help. Or so I thought. I walked in the door ready to buy a new computer on the spot, providing that they could transfer the data from my old one to the new one quickly.

(A tech friend had done a remote diagnosis and identified that it was probably a motherboard failure and that the data was probably all still intact. P.S. The computer is less than two years old.)

After explaining to the nice boy behind the Easy Tech counter that I was currently out of business and panicking and needed to get back in business as soon as humanly possible, he told me that their services were first-come, first-serve and that it would be four to five days before they could look at my computer. That wasn't a good enough answer for me, so I sent him off to look for another option.

He returned and told me that they had a mobile service where the technician comes to your location and does all the work within 24 hours. Fantastic! Sign me up. Who cares that it's an extra $200? I have to get back up and running now. Today, money is no object. How soon can we schedule that?

The nice boy returns to tell me that their mobile tech is on vacation this week. So what about the mobile tech for the other nearby stores? No, this is the mobile tech for all of Southern NH and, P.S., there's no one covering his vacation, making the 24-hour mobile option worse than the original. The closest mobile tech is in Western Massachusetts, making me wonder if  this is a multi-million dollar, industry-leading conglomerate, or a local mom and pop shop with service when someone decides they're available.

I sent the nice boy to talk with his managers to see if they had a better answer. They started making some phone calls and returned to tell me that there was a tech at the Manchester store that could start the work right away. Except that, upon arriving, no one in the Manchester store had heard anything about this and they told me that immediate data transfer couldn't be done.

Well, that was until Dave walked in the door and got up to speed on my story. We all figured Dave was the one the managers from the first store had spoken to since he was out on lunch when I arrived but it turns out he didn't take the call, either.

No matter, he smiled, picked up a screwdriver and took out the hard drive of the old machine. He identified that the data was all there and started pulling it off while Chip took me over to pick out the new laptop. Dave said he'd work on it that night and I left the store confident that my problem was in good hands and would soon be solved.

I went back to the store on Saturday mid-afternoon, about 24 hours after my first visit, and the computer was ready. We turned it on to look for the data and found that some of it was still missing - and critical pieces like all my client files. This time, Andy pulls out the hard drive on the old machine and started the whole process over again.

By Sunday, not quite 48 hours after walking into my first Staples store with the toasted laptop, the new computer was loaded with all of my important client data as well as music, pictures and all the other personal and professional data we all keep on our computers.

(Before anyone gets on my case about backing up my machine, it is continually backed up online by Carbonite, but pulling the information off the old computer was the quickest way to get up and running again quickly - providing I could find someone to do the work.)

We don't often find customer service that amazes and delights us, but I certainly found it at a Staples store in New Hampshire last weekend.

I would like to loudly and publicly thank Dave, Andy and Chip at Staples Manchester for getting me back in business in 48 hours, when their colleagues down the road said it would be almost a week. They deserve a full-on, cape-and-tights Superhero Award for service, attention and  responsiveness.

Are you listening, Staples executives? These men truly deserve your praise in addition to mine.



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 09 May 2011 13:23 in Steph Speak Tags: Computer Crash, Savoir Faire marketing, Staples Manchester [Be the first to comment!] Read 1713 times

Marketing that suits your business

I have seen some of the most outrageous analogies to tell stories about marketing. As a creative industry, I suppose it’s up to us to come up with engaging ways to tell stories you’ll remember. Mostly, I wonder how people come up with these things but now I can say that I have too, and it was really quite easy. I was folding laundry yesterday and had a thought about a discount store turtleneck that I’m not particularly fond of.

Anyone who knows me knows that I love style and fashion.  And, as a well-made woman, it’s sometimes challenging to find clothes that fit just right.

While there is no truly ‘average’ woman’s body, it seems to me that skinny girls have a lot more clothing options than some of the rest of us. They can get away with clothes from discount stores and still look great in them. Make no mistake, that’s envy you hear in my words.

If I put those same pieces on, you immediately see the flaws or lack of detail. A curvy hip shows poorly stitched seams; a buxom upper half illuminates gaping where there should be draping. You go up several sizes to fit one asset (fantastic for the confidence, by the way) only to find whatever item you’re compromising for to be desperately ill-fitting in another area. These issues aren’t as apparent when the same clothes are on an ‘average’ woman; the clothes hang well because the form doesn't push their limits.

Add to that the fact that there is no universal, or even common, sizing system for women and it makes shopping for something that fits and makes you feel good quite a challenge.

Well isn’t that little anecdote just the perfect metaphor for marketing your business?

On the other hand, if you pay a little more for an item of clothing, you’ll usually find that it’s better made and more forgiving. It very likely made of higher quality material and there has been attention paid to the details. Plus, when you have the patience to do the extra legwork to find that great piece, you might even find a store whose clothes seem that they were made just for you. Wearing anything you buy there will make you feel happy and confident and ready to take on the world. Rejoice and return often, I say.

Of course, the top end of the scale is haute couture, which, to those who don’t follow as closely as I do, is custom-fitted, hand-made clothing. It’s made to order for a specific person and is made from the highest-quality fabrics available by the most experienced dressmakers.

Read: one-of-a-kind.

Translation: expensive.

Couldn’t you say the same thing about marketing your business? While there are no truly ‘average’ businesses and no ‘average’ marketing needs, many practitioners would have you believe that what works for one business will work just as well for another.

There are definitely inexpensive options out there that will fit some businesses and they may even work great for them. Your friend or colleague may recommend, sometimes with uncommon vehemence, that you examine the services of Marketer X because they did such great things for that business.

And maybe you engage with that person but it’s unlikely you will see exactly the same results and that’s because the solution didn’t fit your business the same way it fit your friend’s business.

Most businesses can’t afford haute couture marketing. The big brands can, of course. That’s who it’s intended for. For most other companies, however, it takes some extra legwork to find the solution that's most appropriate. It doesn’t always mean paying more; it just means taking the time to find what fits right for your business. It’s easy, and quite enticing, to choose the most obvious option because it’s immediately available and easy to find. However, with a little more work on your part, there’s a very good chance that you’re going to find something that suits your business much better (pun sincerely intended).



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Wednesday, 23 March 2011 13:23 in Steph Speak [Be the first to comment!] Read 1911 times

Got your library card?

Some days I wish I was as smart as some of my friends. Today, that friend is Andy Xhignesse, a colleague in Canada doing similar work to what I do here in New England. I read his recent blog post about the content you post online and was inspired by the wonderful metaphor he used for the Internet as it relates to your content.

Andy says, quite rightly, that the Internet is like a library, which makes the search engines Dewey Decimal experts with their little spectacles hanging off their noses while they perpetually catalog the contents of the Internet. Much of the time, he notes, visitors don't want the whole book; they just want the chapter or paragraph on the particular subject they're interested in.

The Internet allows companies to develop online content that can be indexed by individual words and phrases, rather than solely by titles of the whole book. And, to continue the metaphor, the "books" on the Internet can be single pieces of information, pictures, videos, blog posts, news articles, press releases, your website, case studies, tweets, powerpoint presentations, announcements and as many other types of content as you can imagine and optimize.

For a time I was the associate publisher at a statewide business magazine. It was exciting to be developing and creating and publishing something that so many people would read and refer to and talk about. This was before the Internet went social and online content became king.

Today, we don't need access to paper and ink and printing presses to develop the same level of influence. As much as I still adore print media, it's no longer the only game in town. Now you can become a publisher and your company can develop and create and publish content that your customers, clients and prospects - not to mention your colleagues and competitors - will find valuable and informative.

And the finding it is the key point. By creating content that is based on your expertise and targeted to your audience, you will naturally create content in certain subject areas. By using keywords  and phrases to optimize that content, you can ensure that your content is located in the right "section" of the library for your audience to find.

As to Andy's last point, the more 'books' your company has on the Internet, the more likely visitors will find you and 'check out' yours. Even better, nobody has to worry about late fees at this library!



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 08 February 2011 13:21 in Content Marketing Tags: Create Content, Online Content, publish content [Be the first to comment!] Read 2662 times

Samardo Samuels, me and marketing

Admission: even I get nervous about writing a blog and I’ve been writing professionally since I was 16.

The first time I got paid for my writing, I was a junior in high school and some publishing house found me and wanted to use a story I wrote for the high school paper in a journalism textbook called "Reading the Newspaper." That’s right : a TEXTbook; like to teach other people how to write. And I was only 16!

Since then, I have written extensively for The Boston Globe, Business NH Magazine and The Hippo. On top of that, I write on behalf of my clients almost every day. I write Web copy, bylined articles, marketing materials, presentations, brochures. You name it. I write it.

And yet the thought of writing a blog stops me in my tracks.

What will people think? Am I qualified enough to offer my opinion? Aren’t there other people out there doing it bigger, better and faster than I am? Aren’t other people thinking more profound thoughts than I am? These are the thoughts that have prevented me from starting this blog for the couple of years I’ve been thinking about it.

No more!

A couple things crossed my mind recently that I found to be salient to this effort.

First, I am currently in the midst of a course on selling marketing services. It is a partnership between Hubspot, the inbound marketing experts, and Kurlan & Associates, a sales development organization in Massachusetts. The first step in this course was an extensive assessment of my skills as a sales person. I won’t bore you with the details, but the important finding in this context was that one of my weaknesses is “need for approval.”

What that means is that I want you to like me and I’m going to tip toe and tap dance so that I don’t say anything that would make you not like me. Now, if we were dating, that might come in handy (at least for the first few months), but we’re not dating and I realize that my need for your approval (whoever the hell you are) has been holding me back.

Secondly, I participated in a webinar given by Michael Katz last week. Michael is the Chief Penguin at Blue Penguin Development and the guy who writes newsletters about newsletters. He’s smart and funny and I’m a huge fan. Last week’s webinar was, appropriately, “How to be a Leading Expert,” and it talked about how to position yourself as an expert in your industry. He used a mind-bending analogy that I want to share here.

Samardo Samuels is an NBA basketball player for the Cleveland Cavaliers. He may be among the worst players in the league with an average of less than 15 minutes of playing time per game and fewer than 5 points per game.

Do you think Samardo Samuels is qualified to teach you basketball? Is he qualified to write about basketball? Is he qualified to talk about basketball?

Did you know that, in 2008, there were a grand total of 432 players in the NBA? And, according to the US Census, in 2009, there were 42,670,000 men in the US between the ages of 20 and 39, which I’m going to call 'professional basketball-playing age.'

That means that Samardo Samuels is in the top .00001 percent of potential basketball players in the country. Higher than the top hundred-thousandth of the top 1 percent!

Now do you think Samardo Samuels is qualified to teach, talk or write about basketball? I would say he is.

One of the reasons I lose my confidence is because I think of the stars of my industry, like Seth Godin or Guy Kawasaki. I could probably come up with 25 more names right off the top of my head and without looking at my bookshelf. No doubt they belong at the top of the league. They have earned their positions.

However, when I apply the Samardo Samuels paradigm to myself in the marketing universe that I work in, I do believe that I have a place at the table.

As you well know, marketing isn’t quite as exclusive as the NBA. Almost anyone can call themselves a marketing expert, and many people do.

But think about this, according to that same US Census, in 2009 there were roughly 184,015,000 people in the United States between the ages of 20 and 64. I’m going to call that ‘business age.’ What if I just want to be among the top ten-thousandth of a percent? Then the question for me is, do I think that I belong among the top 18,401 marketing thinkers in the country? Even if we assumed that these people were distributed evenly among the 50 states, do I think I belong among the top 368 marketers just here in New Hampshire? Yeah. You’d better believe I do!

So, am I qualified to talk and write about marketing, even teach a course on social media? Ab-so-get-down-lutely. And that’s just what I’m going to do. I hope you'll join me in that conversation.



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 17 January 2011 13:17 in Steph Speak Tags: Blog, Blogging, Blue Penguin Development, Kurlan & Associates, marketing, Michael Katz, NBA, Samardo Samuels, Savoir Faire, Savoir Faire marketing, social media, writing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1476 times

New Year, New Ideas

I’m not really a New Year’s Resolution kind of gal. If I make them at all, they don’t usually last that long and then I just feel bad. Instead I try to work on personal growth all year long, trying the things that sound intriguing and making those that work well for me a part of my life.

That being said, I do tend towards reflection at this time of year and I’ve been thinking a lot about Savoir Faire recently and what its next iteration looks like.

During a conversation with a very good friend recently, she pulled something from our conversation that stopped me in my tracks:

Always learning.
Always inspired.
Always empowered.
Always accountable.

These are things she said about Stephanie McLaughlin, the person but, upon hearing them, these are things that I would like to bring to Savoir Faire, the business, to use as guiding principles. (Hopefully you'll even see them in some updated Web copy soon!)

The reason I liked this so much is that it becomes a two-way promise; it’s how the business operates and it’s a bargain I would like to make with my clients as well.

Always learning
It’s true, I’m always interested in what’s new. In relation to Savoir Faire, I’m constantly on the lookout for what’s next, what’s going on, what new developments are taking place in the marketing, public relations and social media worlds.

Always inspired
I’m always on the lookout for inspiration and actively in search of it. I believe it can come from anywhere so it's good to keep your eyes open and your mind tuned. Something you learn in one area can inspire you in a completely different area. According to my good friend, it’s also something I impart in many of my personal interactions through the enthusiasm I have for what I've learned and how it can be applied.

Always empowered
I’m not typically an ‘ask permission’ kind of gal.

Always accountable
For me, this is the other side of the ‘always empowered’ coin. Whether my decisions are right or wrong, I am accountable for their outcomes.

Now that you know a little more about me, let’s talk about how these ideas can apply to clients who are working with Savoir Faire.

When you work with Savoir Faire, I want you to be learning. You don’t need to learn about inbound marketing or search engine optimization or website design but you should learn about how what we’re doing is going to impact and affect your business and what you can do to leverage the work we’re doing for you.

Working together, I hope we inspire each other to keep reaching new heights and doing better and better work. When you learn about what I’m doing and how it can boost your business, I hope it inspires you to think of additional ways we can work together to drive results. That, in turn, will energize me and my team to keep stretching on your behalf.

I may not be an ‘ask permission’ girl in my personal life, but I will need your permission to do great work for your business. That may mean letting go of some of the details or trusting my team to do good work for you without understanding exactly how it all works. In turn, I will do my part to give you what you need to run and grow your business, whether that’s information, explanation, reports or coaching.

Likewise, I will need you to hold up your end of the bargain. If that means writing a post for your business blog once a week or getting on the phone with me regularly, then that’s what you need to do. You see, I’m going to need you to do your part so that I can do mine effectively. In my experience, I have found that careful plans and marketing strategies don’t fail; people fail implementing them. If we are both accountable for our pieces of the puzzle, then our strategies will succeed and your business will benefit.

My approach is based on delivery and, in order to deliver for you, I’m going to need for both of us to be learning, inspired, empowered and accountable. Together, we’ll get great results. I look forward to working with you!



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Friday, 07 January 2011 13:15 in Steph Speak Tags: Blog, inbound marketing, inspiration, marketing, marketing strategies, public relations, Savoir Faire, search engine optimization, social media, website design [Be the first to comment!] Read 1920 times

Forget newsjacking; try weatherjacking!

You've heard of newsjacking, where you put out a press release or some social media campaign that uses a hot news story to capture interest. Yesterday, we tried a topical twist we called "weatherjacking," in honor of a wild tropical weather pattern blowing through the Northeast. Between thunder and lightning flashing and booming most of the day and the bouts of torrential downpour, we thought creating a little something fun would be just the thing for a stormy Thursday afternoon. What do you think?

Calculate your distance from lightning
Calculate your distance from lightning

Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Friday, 13 September 2013 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: newsjacking, weatherjacking [Be the first to comment!] Read 4974 times
Facebook for Business: Quick Start Guide

Facebook for Business: Quick Start Guide

If you’re a small business owner, no doubt you know that marketing and advertising have changed dramatically in recent years. In fact, it likely makes you crazy. Old tools no longer work as well (if at all) and the new ones, while more accessible (read: less expensive), require time to learn how to use them effectively.

The business owners we talk to wonder if it’s worth the investment of time – and the accompanying change of focus from core business functions – to master these channels. Our answer: it depends but, most likely, yes.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 10 September 2013 00:00 in Social Media Tags: social media [Be the first to comment!] Read 444 times

Inbound 2013 Agenda Overview

We're looking forward to attending  Inbound 2013 next week in Boston. Looking at the agenda, though, we found ourselves scrolling, flipping and zooming to try to get a view that allowed us to create a  plan of attack for our team. We felt that the full agenda on inbound.com was a little too unwieldy for our liking (it prints out at 54 pages!) and the "at a glance" version didn't contain any session titles or room numbers.

We created something that we thought was a little more usable for planning. Then we realized that we may not be the only ones having this issue so we wanted you to have it, too.

Help yourself to our PDF overview. It prints out at 8 pages, landscape orientation, on regular-sized paper. The PDF header links to the full agenda if you want more information about a presentation. Also, caveat: this was created based on the current schedule on inbound.com. There will likely be updates and filled holes between now and conference time.

Inbound 2013 Agenda Overview

See you next week in Boston!

Steph, Janna & Mark


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Friday, 16 August 2013 00:00 in Content Marketing Tags: Inbound 2013 [Be the first to comment!] Read 1583 times

Can’t you just use the logo from my website?

When we start working  with a client whose “identity” has already been established (logo, business cards, letterhead, etc. have been created), we often need to request copies of their logo artwork files for use on materials we are developing. We usually receive a JPG or PNG file that was saved from their website or we are asked, “can you just grab it from my website?”


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 30 July 2013 00:00 in Graphic Design [Be the first to comment!] Read 4656 times

Hold the news media accountable

My Fellow Americans,

We wake up today in the aftermath of unimaginable horror. We wonder how we’ll ever feel safe sending our children to school again and how we’ll even discuss these events with them. There’s no way to protect them from the stories; if you don’t tell them, someone else will.

By the dawn of the next day, however, I believe that there is more than one criminal responsible for perpetrating horrors upon us. Yes, a 20-year-old committed a heinous act that will affect the families, friends and communities in Connecticut. But the horrors the rest of us are facing are mainly caused by another perpetrator: the media.

They have gone too far.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Saturday, 15 December 2012 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: Accountability, News Media, public relations [Be the first to comment!] Read 6499 times

Talk about customer service!

Something AMAZING just happened.ER Cleaners

I picked up dry cleaning on Friday and a pair of pants was missing from the order. The friendly associates at E&R Cleaners told me the pants would be in on Monday morning. I told them I was traveling for business on Tuesday and that it was important I get the pants.

At 9:50 this morning, my phone rang. It was one of the girls from E&R telling me the pants were in and that they'd be there until 6:30 tonight. Good customer service, right?

HA! The powers that be at E&R scoff at mere customer service!


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 29 October 2012 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: customer service, E&R Cleaners [Be the first to comment!] Read 1728 times

Victoria's Secret's Folly

Dear Victoria's Secret: In need of some new bits, I visited one of your stores yesterday and was reminded of one of the more annoying things about your stores: In the dressing rooms, there are these square bumps along the wall that will conceivably hold a hanger with one of your sassy bits hung on it. However, to try on your bits, I must first remove my clothing. When I do, where the hell am I supposed to put it?


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 13 September 2011 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: Customer experience, unintended messages [Be the first to comment!] Read 28867 times

My website looks funny

We recently launched a new site for a client and, while they are happy with it, they asked some pretty pointed questions about why it looked different in different browsers. As I put together my response, I realized that they’re probably not the only ones wondering why their site shows some minor differences in different browsers.

First off, while you may test your site in multiple browsers, the average user of the site is not going to look at the site in three different browsers at the same time so the inconsistencies you may see are not going to be apparent to your visitors. By and large, people have one favorite browser they use. Even if they were to use another browser to look at the site, they likely wouldn’t do that at the same time.

Why the site displays differently in different browsers is a more important consideration.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Tuesday, 06 September 2011 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: font rendering, Internet browser usage, marketing strategies, Savoir Faire marketing, website design, website rendering [Be the first to comment!] Read 2552 times

Selling and the uncomfortable client

I was waiting for a call back from a client this afternoon and spent my few extra minutes scrolling through Seth Godin's blog posts. One from May about selling vs. inviting caught my eye. As a business owner, I am not only responsible for making the business go, I'm also responsible for making it grow.

The line I liked the most from that post was this:  "The salesperson's job: Help people overcome their fear so they can commit to something they'll end up glad they invested in."

I have a handful of clients who I know are glad they are investing in marketing efforts that are building their businesses. We worked together to help them overcome their fear and say "yes" to possibility, growth and success.

On the other hand, I spoke to a business owner today who is hesitant to invest money into marketing his business. He's waiting for that elusive sale that will give him the money to make that investment. Since he's been at this for two years now, the question is, when that sale comes (and it will, I'm sure of it; a few of them have already), won't there just be another reason not to take that leap?

Several of my clients have said that one of the reasons they like working with me is that I make them uncomfortable. I push them beyond their comfort zones. I don't let them stay where it's safe.

Before I started working with most of my clients, they typically did some form of marketing in-house, themselves. They did what they knew. They got some results.

The reason I make them uncomfortable is that I bring new ideas a new point of view and different thinking to the table. For those that allow me to make them uncomfortable, we achieve great things and they're happy they made the investment. For those who think they need to stay where it's safe, let's talk a little longer so you can commit to something you're glad you invested in.

Ready to break free of the status quo? Contact us!

Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Wednesday, 24 August 2011 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: marketing strategies, Savoir Faire marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1471 times

Sending unintentional messages

Last week I was nearly run off the highway by a tan BMW emblazoned with the name name of a local dealership. I was so shaken, and so pissed off, that I was compelled to call the dealership and tell them what just happened.

After a not-really-funny comedy of errors to simply get a manager on the phone, I told him what had happened and the license plate of the car. The manager said that it was probably a customer using a loaner car while their car was being serviced, as if that were either:

a) a good enough explanation for my frightful run-in with his company, or
b) a reason for him not to take any accountability for my experience.

What this manager doesn't understand, and what I told him was, anyone bearing the name of your company is an ambassador for your company. In this case, that ambassador was driving like an a-hole and nearly caused an accident at 70 miles an hour.

Perhaps this dealership should consider taking its name OFF its loaner cars since they have no control over the behavior of the people inside them and, hence, no control over the messages those cars send about that company.

I'm sure the managers of this dealership paid to have their names on these cars because they thought it would improve visibility for their dealership. However, I'm not sure what I experienced is the kind of image they want to cultivate for their organization. I certainly won't be going there for my next car and you'd better believe that's the kind of story that gets told over and over again via word of mouth.

Where is your company name displayed? Are you sure you have control over what it says about your business?

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Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 11 July 2011 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: marketing, marketing strategies, public relations, Savoir Faire marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1601 times

Mind your manners

I was at a business networking event last week with a roomful of very important muckety mucks and the most strange and wonderful thing happened.

I met a gentleman early in the event and we began a conversation that I felt we never finished, which gave me a wonderful opening to follow up with him later. When I went to leave the event, he was talking to two other men, but I didn’t want to just disappear. So I went over to the group, excused myself to the two new men and asked it if was ok for me to say goodbye to my new acquaintance before I left. What happened next blew my mind.

The two men I had interrupted, and whom I did not know, commented to me that I was the only person in the room who had shown that courtesy. Their impression of this event was that, apparently, in a room full of VIMMs, everyone believes they’re the most important and, hence, that their time is most valuable, so they just go around butting in on everyone.

These two men, who I learned were new to this group, had been butted in on several times that evening and had a foul taste in their mouth from the event because of it. They told me that I was unique and that I stood out from the crowd, simply because I used the manners my mother taught me as a child.

I found this revelation strange because I can’t believe that of all the impressive people in that room, I’m the only one with any manners.

And, I find it wonderful because if it’s that easy for me to stand out in a crowd of very impressive people, then I’ve got it made!

Mind your manners, people. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Friday, 08 July 2011 00:00 in Steph Speak Tags: networking, Savoir Faire marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1338 times

Social media and the night sky

How many social media presentations have you been to? Whether free or paid, taught by a social media ‘industry’ person or someone doing it well in a company, an hour or a day long, there have been hundreds of these kinds of events just in my local business community in the past year or so. I’ve been to enough of them myself to know that finding an excellent program is not easy.

Here’s one of the things about most of these presentations that drives me absolutely nuts.

The presenter gets up there and starts talking. Their first slide is the name of their presentation, their company name and maybe the date or the group being spoken to. Invariably, the second or third slide is that horrible slide with a hundred social media logos on it. You know the one.Social

The presenter uses this slide as a way to show you, the audience member and non-social media user, what kind of opportunity awaits you in the land of social media.

The problem is, that audience member and non-social media user looks at that slide and thinks,”Shiitake mushrooms! I have to learn all that to get involved with social media?”And then they go along their merry, non-social way and continue to live their life without wading into the pool. The presenter’s message may even be that you can ease your way into social media, but the audience member is already tuned out, thinking about what project they need to work on when they get back to the office or checking emails on the blackberry.

I see two problems with introducing people to the ‘world’ of social media via a keynote speech or even a longer ‘boot camp’ event:

1.       There needs to be a fundamental change in how a person approaches marketing before you can even talk about how to utilize social media successfully to promote or market a business. I may be good with my hands but that doesn’t mean I can sit down and play a piano without some acclimation to what I’m supposed to be doing and why.

2.       There is so much involved with it that you can do about as much to introduce someone to social media in an hour-long seminar as you could to introduce them to the cosmos itself.

In fact, astronomy may be a very good metaphor for the study of social media. Each social media tool is like a planet, a star, nebulae or a galaxy. There are probably a few significant ones that you can start with (Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, YouTube) and there is a whole ecosystem of knowledge about their particular attributes to learn before you know how they will act in relation to the night sky.

A second reason the metaphor works is that the landscape doesn’t stand still. There are new developments in social media on a daily basis. No one person can say they are the ‘expert’ of it all because it is a constantly moving target the same way researchers and scientists are learning more about the planets and galaxies that our planet shares the sky with.

To that end, I hope you will never hear me refer to myself as a social media ‘expert.’ I prefer the term ‘student of social media.’ I’m the astronomer in the observatory with the stories’-high telescope, keeping a watchful eye on the night sky and charting the course of the objects moving in it.


Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Thursday, 20 January 2011 00:00 in Social Media Tags: marketing, social media, Savoir Faire marketing [Be the first to comment!] Read 1642 times

Time for new shoes

As with much of the wisdom I've accumulated in my life, the answer to the question in my last post was given to me by my mother. What do you call a a late-adopter who was aware of something when the early-adopters were adopting it and has been watching and studying it ever since but hasn’t yet adopted it themselves (until now)? An academic, of course. But that’s not exactly what I want to be. I aspire to be one of those fantastic adjunct professors who actually does what they teach: a practicing academic.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said to my clients, prospects, friends and colleagues with a self-deprecating chuckle, “you know how it is; the cobblers children have no shoes.” Well it’s winter now and the kids can’t walk to school barefoot in the foot-and-a-half of snow that fell overnight so it’s just plain time to do something about it.

To that end, I am going to try to implement the kind of marketing, communications and social media programs for Savoir Faire that I recommend and execute for my clients. 2011 is the year the kids got shoes, baby!

(And, if you know anything about me, you know those shoes are going to be fantastic!)



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 27 December 2010 00:00 in Steph Speak [Be the first to comment!] Read 12077 times

Hello World!

What do you call a late-adopter who was aware of something when the early-adopters were adopting it and has been watching and studying it ever since but hasn't yet adopted it themselves (until now)? I don't know, either, but if you come up with something, let me know so I know what to call myself.

So, blogging. Yeah. Easy enough so far, right? Sixty words in and it's going well.

Now for the hard part: coming up with something compelling, or even merely interesting, to write about on a regular basis. Hopefully that something will be engaging enough to start a conversation with friends, followers and colleagues. That something will very likely be focused on subjects that are of interest to me professionally: marketing, communications, storytelling, identifying and locating audiences, social media, websites and the use and promotion thereof. The something might also include running and growing a small business and the trials, tribulations and triumphs that accompany it.

So, my homework for tonight is to do what I recommend my clients do and create an editorial calendar. Traditionally, an editorial calendar was used by print publications to identify the sections, features and subjects that will be covered in upcoming issues. It serves to maintain that publication's editorial focus in a particular area or ensure that they cover certain subjects at certain times of the year. For my purposes, an editorial calendar will help me keep my focus with this blog, which will make it more effective for me as a business tool and, hopefully, more relevant for you as a reader.

While I'm sure you'd all love to hear about my personal antics and escapades, as they are hilarious hijinks, that won't serve my business all that well and I'm guessing that you'd stop coming back pretty quickly (except of course you, mom!). Also, if I'm going to invest my precious time into maintaining a blog, then I would like for it to have some value for my business.

So there it is: my first 'walking the walk.' To those of my clients who I have been advising, imploring, cajoling and educating about blogs, here's me putting my own words into practice.



Stephanie McLaughlin - Stephanie McLaughlin

k2_ON Monday, 06 December 2010 00:00 in Steph Speak [Be the first to comment!] Read 1332 times