Construction Companies: 4 Ways to Align Sales and Marketing

Construction Companies: 4 Ways to Align Sales and Marketing

Construction Companies: 4 Ways to Align Sales and Marketing

There is a ton of information on the internet about sales and marketing alignment. A lot of it talks about opening up lines of communication. While that’s true, it’s not particularly actionable or specific. 

We’ve written quite a bit about sales and marketing alignment. What it is, what it can do for you, and how to use HubSpot to make it happen. What we haven’t talked much about are specific, actionable steps our clients can take to get sales and marketing on the same page. 

With this blog, I’m sharing 4 ways construction companies can align sales and marketing teams for overall business growth. 

If you’re not a construction company, don’t worry, I still have resources for you: 

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But if you are a construction pro looking for ways to boost that bottom line, here are 4 specific, actionable ways to align sales and marketing for overall company growth:

01. Leverage Sales Reps’ Direct Customer Experience

Let me guess: 

Your marketing team feels like they’re delivering the sales team leads that sales just doesn’t follow up on. Your sales team complains that marketing just isn’t sending them any good leads. 

Yeah, it’s that common. 

The solution? Leverage your sales reps’ experience working directly with customers on the job to better define your ideal leads and buyer personas. 

Here’s how that works.

Your sales team has inside information the marketing team needs. 

In the construction industry especially, it’s easy for sales reps to become distanced from the rest of the team. They’re often out in the field talking and working directly with customers, with little reason to head back to the office. 

But, your sales team has valuable information your marketing team can put to work for you and the sales team. They have first-hand experience working with your ideal customers — they know what they do, what their pain points are, what pushes them to close a deal, and what might stop them from closing. 

Sales should share key buyer demographics, challenges, and pain points with Marketing.

Here’s an example of a problem that can happen when marketing doesn’t use the sales team’s insider knowledge.  

The marketing team writes a buyer persona for a male general contractor in his 50s.

They say he’s the key decision-maker for your ideal type of large commercial building project. Marketing develops content with this buyer persona in mind and writes their monthly newsletter to him. 

But the sales rep who works with that type of project knows that the key point of contact is usually the general contractor’s head of administration, who is a woman in her 40s.

Even though the general contractor might make the final decision, sales knows that to be able to make a bid on the project, they need to first talk to that person in administration. She’s the person who reads marketing’s emails, and is researching for the content marketing publishes on the blog. 

This is a key problem for your marketing strategy. Marketing is writing to the wrong person, which means their content is unlikely to connect or resonate with the person sales needs to talk to. 

This is a pretty real example showcasing the importance of getting information from the sales team. The information sales gathers out in the field is exceptionally valuable to your marketing team. It’s all the data they need to put together specific, relevant buyer personas, and content to reach those buyer personas. But, if your sales and marketing teams aren’t aligned, it’s likely that this information doesn’t make it far beyond your sales team. 

If you’re working to align your construction company’s sales and marketing teams, leveraging your sales team’s direct customer experience is a great place to start. 

It gives both teams the information they need to collectively define what a qualified lead looks like, so marketing can start putting together campaigns that draw in those leads. When that happens, sales gets more of the leads they know they can close, and your marketing team knows they’re delivering leads that sales will follow up with.

It’s an essential step in sales and marketing alignment for growth, and it’s a key tactic for construction industries in particular. Your buyer personas are unique, and sales has valuable input that can guide the development of those personas, and the marketing content that generates the leads your construction company wants

02. Leverage Marketing’s Ability to Develop Lead-Nurturing Content

Solution #1 was geared at leveraging the sales team’s knowledge to help marketing. Solution #2 leverages marketing’s unique skills to help the sales team. Here’s how. 

Your marketing team’s job is to nurture leads to the point that they’re ready to send over to sales. They’re great at drawing in large volumes of leads, weeding them out, and converting the qualified ones into warm prospects who are ready to make a sale. 

Your sales team doesn’t rely so much on content as they do personal relationships. As I mentioned earlier, in the construction industry, most sales reps do their best work in the field. But, they likely have a few stucks. 

Maybe a warm prospect goes cold for no reason. Or the sales team finds that they’re consistently bidding on a specific type of project, and losing out in the final round. 

You can leverage your marketing team’s expertise at creating and delivering lead-nurturing content to address these sales concerns. 

A great way to align your sales and marketing teams is to bring in marketing expertise to create sales enablement content that can help sales nurture prospects through those key points of the funnel where they consistently fall out. 

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How to align sales and marketing to develop successful sales enablement tools. 

Get your marketing and sales teams in one room.

Have sales lay out the problems they consistently face. Whether it’s a specific type of buyer falling out of the sales funnel or the most common pain point that stops a prospect from converting to a sale, have sales explain the problem to the marketing team. 

Then, let both teams brainstorm what types of content would help solve this pain point.

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Maybe it’s a quote calculator that lets prospects estimate how much their project might cost before they ask for a bid. Maybe it’s a nurturing email workflow that re-engages cold prospects, inviting them back into the sales funnel. 

Inviting marketing into the conversation is a key way to address these pain points in the sales process. Every sales team faces problems like this.

Your marketing team is well-versed in reaching out and engaging with cold leads. They can apply that same expertise to developing the sales enablement content your sales team can use to provide the right message, to the right prospect, at exactly the right time. 

03. Set Common Goals

In any industry, it’s easy for sales and marketing to feel at odds. In many construction companies, marketing and sales can feel like they’re competing against each other to find and convert the best leads. 

The best way to get everyone on the same team? Set common goals. 

I’ve talked about what SMART goals are and how to set them before, so I won’t get into the nitty-gritty.

I will say that setting common, overarching goals that both sales and marketing contribute to and are responsible for is a key way to effectively align your sales and marketing teams. 

This goes back to leveraging the strengths of both teams, too. 

For example, if sales is having trouble closing on a specific type of project, or if there’s a new product they’re not having any luck selling, marketing can create a campaign that promotes the project or product to those ideal buyers that sales has identified. 

The key here is that both marketing and sales need to have the same goals — whether that’s an overall revenue goal, or a SMART goal that breaks down how many leads marketing needs to bring in, and how many of those leads sales needs to close on. 

04. Establish Regular Sales + Marketing Check-Ins

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times.

And yes, I will only ever use this gif in the communication section of every blog. 

Jokes and SpongeBob aside, communication is the surprising key to effective sales and marketing alignment. 

It’s easy to overlook something so simple, but we see it constantly with our construction clients. 

Your sales team is out in the field.

They’re checking out job sites, talking to prospects, making product recommendations, and trying to pull in those jobs that will deliver the largest returns. 

Your marketing team is in the office.

They’re trying to think of creative ways to get your brand out ahead of the competition. They’re regularly creating emails and brochures, developing ad campaigns, and interacting with visitors and leads through your website’s chatbots.

When sales is out in the field, and marketing is back at the office, there aren’t a ton of opportunities for them to connect. 

Key ways to keep sales and marketing teams aligned. 

Set up a standing meeting. Even if you start with one single meeting once a month, it gives both teams the chance to connect. 

If possible, try to work up to a few short meetings a month, and then plan one strategy meeting a month. In the shorter meetings try and hit a few small things like:

  • Which leads sales closed on, and which weren’t great fits
  • What results marketing campaigns are delivering
  • Where sales is seeing the best leads come from
  • Which platforms marketing is seeing the most engagement with new leads

You don’t have to cover all of these points in every meeting, but just taking 15 minutes in a week for sales or marketing to give an update to the other team will go a long way in developing a true growth strategy for your construction company. 

If you can’t get sales reps into the office once a week, Zoom, Google Meets, and even an old-school conference call can get the job done. 

So long as there’s a time scheduled for sales and marketing to connect, you’ll be doing a lot of the work that can help your construction company align sales and marketing for more streamlined campaigns that pull in and convert more of the right leads and jobs. 

Sales and marketing alignment isn’t always easy. Especially for construction companies with remote sales teams and minimal marketing support, it can be tough to find the starting point.

If you have questions about aligning your construction company’s sales and marketing teams, send us a message. We’re here to help you develop a growth strategy that pulls in and converts more of the right leads. 

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7 Work from Home Tips from a Remote Worker

7 Work from Home Tips from a Remote Worker

7 Work from Home Tips from a Remote Worker

Working from home has become the new normal in today’s current landscape. For some of us, this is nothing new. For others, it’s surprising how different working from home actually is. 

It’s a challenge. I get it. And it’s also not for everyone. 

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I’ve been working remotely for Evenbound for about four years now, full time for a little over a year and a half. And let me tell you, there’s a big ole learning curve. 

Many people say, “Oh, you work from home! How do I get into that? It must be so great!”

And really, it is. I’m an introvert and a writer, so working from home is genuinely what I need to get a majority of my work done. But it’s not always the easy breezy life that a lot of people make it out to be. 

(Props to Medium for this very accurate meme, and their awesome post on the realities of working from home.)

If you’re struggling a bit with the recent transition to work entirely from home, 100% of the time, I got you. And I’m here to offer some of the work from home tips that have worked for me. Seven, to be exact:

#1 Create a Dedicated Work From Home Space

This is one of the few work from home “rules” I actually subscribe to. 

It’s important to create a workspace in your home for a couple of reasons.

The one you’ll hear most often is that having a dedicated “work” space helps you turn on your “work” brain. 

That’s definitely true, but it’s also important to have a work space so that your brain knows how to turn off when your day is over. 

One of the toughest transitions you’ll face working from home is that your work is literally at your home. You’re always around it, and it’s always there. Creating a physical space where work happens helps your brain distinguish between that “on” time and the “off” time. 

#2 Build a Routine that Works for You

I am not here to tell anyone how they work best. You know what your best times of the day are, and you know what you have to get done. Set up a routine that helps you work most effectively. 

Identify Your Most Productive Hours

Everyone has a most productive part of the day. 

For me, this is generally the morning, but after I’ve made time for a quality, sit-down breakfast and a half-hour of reading. 

That time to wake up, read some quality content that has absolutely nothing to do with work, and guzzle down a (read: three) cup(s) of coffee, gets me in the right mindset to get my work done. 

Then, I tackle my hardest, most involved tasks in the morning, because that’s when my brain is at its best. 

This might not be your routine. You might be a night owl, or find a certain groove after lunch. Whatever it is, figure out when you’re most productive, and try to schedule your routine around those hours. 

Keep Your Coworker’s Hours in Mind, Too

Building a productive routine means incorporating the rest of your team’s schedule, too. It’s easy for me to say, “My most productive time is around 7am, so I’ll just work from 7am to 3pm, and be done for the day.”

But if my coworkers are working until 5pm, and need things from me, I’m going to be a) gone or b) mentally fried.

None of us exist in a vacuum. Most of us are working with other team members, who need things from us or who need to meet with us. You want to build a routine that helps you be your most productive, but you can’t do it at the expense of teamwork. 

Make sure you’re building a routine that makes space for the rest of your team, and you’ll be more likely to stick to it. 

#3 Don’t Dress for Work (Or Do, I Guess)

“Get dressed for work” is my number one most despised work from home tip on the face of the planet. 

I do best when I get straight to work. Worrying about what outfit to put together only takes time out of my most productive hours, and I’ve never found that I work better in an uncomfortable outfit vs. my pajamas. 

If you find that getting dressed does make a big difference for you mentally, that’s awesome. 

I’m just putting this one out there for everyone else like me who feels like getting dressed to work in front of a computer and see no one is a lot of work. 

I think for most of us, preparing for the day is what really matters. And this goes back to setting up a routine that works for you. 

Taking the time to make and eat breakfast or taking a shower can do as much to shift your mentality into work mode as getting dressed can. So figure out what your “turn my brain on” switch is, and stick with that. Maybe it’s getting dressed, maybe it’s not. 

#4 Take Breaks, When Breaks Work For You

Many other work from home blogs have touted the importance of taking breaks, and taking full, complete breaks. 

I say, do what works for you. 

Personally, I have a tough time getting back into a groove after a full lunch break. If I get into another project, a book, or a TV show on a lunch break, I come back feeling sluggish and not engaged. I do my best when I take quick 5-10 minute breaks to make tea, brew coffee, check the mail, and just eat my lunch. 

Then, when I’m done with work, I’m straight up done. I can let my brain go off and do what it wants. 

Again, this is what works for me. Some people might do better with one solid hour-long lunch break, or a couple of half-hour pauses for different things. 

I think it largely depends on your job. I write best when I have long, consecutive hours of uninterrupted time to write.

If you’re constantly slammed with emails, phone calls, and meetings, an hour long break might be just what you need to decompress and come back to work relaxed. 

Find what works best for you, and stick to it. 

#5 Over Communicate

This is a weird time for everyone. There’s a lot of grief, there’s a lot of uncertainty, and there’s just a lot going on. 

One of the best work from home tips I can offer to make sure that you and your coworkers are all getting as much done as you can is to over communicate. 

Over communicate with your coworkers and your clients alike. 

If you can schedule a quick video call or jump on the phone with teammates, even better. 

It’s easy to lose sight of the team goals when you’re working from home, alone. You’re in isolation, trying to slog through your list of things by yourself. 

Connecting with your teammates can help you feel less isolated, and it has the added benefit of ensuring nothing falls through the cracks. 

Here at Evenbound, we use Slack religiously, and it’s been instrumental as our entire team shifted to remote work during this crisis.

Features like Slack calling, video, and screensharing are super useful, making it easy to get a point across without having to send a million emails. 

Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call someone.

As we all get more used to working at home, alone, it can feel a little weird (okay, sometimes scary) to talk to a person on a phone

But you can actually get a whole lot more done in a five minute call than you could in a messy, complicated email chain. 

#6 Shut the Door

When you’re done with work, shut the door. 

You have set up a separate work space, haven’t you? 

Whether it’s a guest room, an office, or a closet, flip your laptop closed, physically shut the door, and walk out. 

Like I mentioned in Step #1, one of the toughest parts of transitioning to working from home is that your work is always there. If you’re not careful, it can bleed into every part of your life, which ultimately makes you less productive. 

I like to add onto the “Shut the Door” policy with another activity that really signals to my brain that it’s the end of the day. I might turn on a workout video, take the dog for a walk, or start cooking dinner, just to add another level of separation between me and my computer. 

Because, honestly, it’s so easy to get sucked back into “oh, just one more thing.” 

The better you are at creating and establishing boundaries for your off times, the more productive you’re likely to be in your on times. 

#7 Give Yourself Some Grace

Working from home is not as easy and delightful as some will have you believe. 

Yes, it is pretty cool, and yeah the commute is exceptional. 

But it’s not all sunshine and roses, especially now, when most of us can’t really leave our homes when the work day is done. 

One of the most important things to remember when you start working from home is to give yourself some grace. 

Not every day is going to be perfect. Some days you might take an actual lunch break, only to find that you’re totally worthless afterwards. 

Remember that you’re doing your best, and that tomorrow’s another day. And remember that you’re still probably working more now than you were in the office. Without any drive time or water cooler talk, you’re likely still coming out ahead, even on your least productive days. 

Working from home is a big transition, and no one is perfect at anything the first time. Just observe the areas where you’re struggling, and work to make a plan to improve tomorrow. 

Working from home has its challenges, but the team here at Evenbound is grateful to have this ability. If we weren’t able to work from home, we wouldn’t be doing business. While we’re all adjusting, we’re thankful for our health and the opportunity to serve our clients from just about anywhere.

If you’ve got questions about working from home, marketing from home, or anything else, just let us know. We’re here to help

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7 Steps to Developing a Growth Strategy That Delivers Results

7 Steps to Developing a Growth Strategy That Delivers Results

7 Steps to Developing a Growth Strategy That Delivers Results

You want to grow your company. But, you’re not sure where to start. We get it. 

It’d be great if we could all just grow our businesses and companies by taking on more projects. Unfortunately, sustainable growth needs a little bit more direction and structure than that. 

If you’re looking to grow your company by pulling in more of the right leads, and converting them more efficiently, you need to start developing a growth strategy. 

What’s a Growth Strategy?

A growth strategy is a detailed plan of action designed to help your company grow — that is, increase sales and revenue over a specific period of time. Effective growth strategies are specific, measurable, and focused on continuous improvement. 

No two growth strategies are exactly alike — they’re unique depending on the company, the company’s specific goals, and the resources you have available to implement that strategy. 

What is universal to all companies, however, is that you need a growth strategy if you want to build your company in a specific way: to close bigger deals, to shorten your sales cycle, and grow your company strategically for the best results. 

If you’re working on developing a growth strategy that gets your company moving in the right direction, here are 7 steps you can take to start creating a growth strategy that delivers the tangible results you’ve been looking for. 

7 Steps to Developing a Growth Strategy That Delivers Results

Use this menu to jump to the steps you’re most interested, or read on through for the complete step-by-step guide to developing a growth strategy that delivers results. 

#1 Start with SMART Growth Goals, Big and Small

Real, effective growth strategies start with SMART goals. We’ve got an entire post about how to determine your SMART goals, but here’s a quick cliff-notes version: 

What are SMART Goals?

SMART Goals are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely

So, “I want to grow my business,” is not, in fact, a smart goal. It doesn’t give you any mile-markers. It doesn’t really tell you what you want, or where you want to be. 

A SMART goal is something like: I want to grow 20% in the next fiscal year. 

The Difference Between Big and Small SMART Goals

Now that’s still a pretty broad goal, which is fine. You can have big growth goals, but it’s also important to set small SMART goals too, so you know you’re keeping your company on track. How are you going to reach that 20% growth mark by the end of the year? 

Examples of smaller growth goals that can help contribute to your big growth goal might be to:

  • Convert 500 leads per month. 

  • Close on 15 sales per month.

  • Generate at least $375,000 in new revenue per month.

One or all of these goals are great mile markers that help keep your team on track while moving to your big, overarching SMART goal. Defining these little goals also makes it easier to start developing strategies that put you closer to your big goals. 

Saying, “oh, I want to grow by 20% in the next year” sounds great. But it doesn’t give you a lot of direction. Saying, “I want to convert 500 leads per month” does give you some direction — how are you generating leads now? How can you generate more leads? Are there lead generating tactics you haven’t tried yet that you could check out?

Now you have a launching-off point to really start moving your company towards your growth goals. 

#2 Develop Strategies to Support Those Growth Goals

Okay, so you’ve got your SMART goals, big and small. Start with the small goals first. Let’s go with generating 500 leads per month as our example.

If you’re generating leads primarily through word of mouth, you have a lot of room to improve:

  • You can start developing a digital growth strategy that focuses on generating leads. 

  • You can increase your web presence, start implementing content marketing strategies, and try out lead capture tactics like landing pages, forms, and calls-to-action. 

If you already have a web presence and are hoping to generate more leads, start by really drilling down on the efforts that work:

  • If you’ve been getting a ton of leads through your blog, up your posting schedule to once or twice a week instead twice a month. 

  • If you have an active list of newsletter subscribers, lean on them a little harder for conversions.  

    You can also start expanding your lead generation efforts. Try new tactics like social media advertising, guest blogging, or adding more lead touch points to your marketing and sales process. 

    The point is that if you have specific, attainable (etc.) goals, determining your plan of action is a lot easier. If you know exactly where you want to be, it’s a little easier to figure out how to get there. 

    #3 Consider Tools That Support Your Goals and Strategies

    Another great way to bolster your growth strategy is to consider investing in tools and software that can make it easier for you to implement your new strategies and reach those growth goals. 

    Using that same lead generation goal as an example, let’s say that one of your new strategies is to start promoting your content more often, and follow up with new leads more promptly.

    It’s important to remember that all of these changes aren’t always on your sales and marketing teams — there are plenty of tools out there that can help you reach these goals and implement these new efforts.

    What Growth Tools Are Right for Me?

    Consider investing in a social media publishing tool that allows you to schedule posts out when it’s convenient for your team. 

    Many marketing software platforms also offer automated email and workflow tools. The minute a lead downloads a content offer or signs up for your newsletter, you can have them automatically entered into a welcome workflow that sends them helpful, relevant communication that nurtures that lead for you. 

    At Evenbound, we’re big advocates for the, “work smarter, not harder” mindset. Implementing a growth strategy can be tough work. If there are tricks and tools that can help you reach those growth goals more easily and that offer your leads and prospects better service, use them

    Don’t be afraid of tools because they’re new or different. They can seriously help you reach those growth goals, usually faster than your team could do it on their own. 

    #4 Implement Your Growth Strategies

    Alright, now that you’ve got your goals nailed down and you’ve got a plan to reach them, it’s time to launch! Put your growth strategies into action. Let your new marketing software do its work. 

    And give your strategies a little bit of time, too. Especially if you’re implementing inbound strategies meant to bolster your organic traffic, you probably won’t see results overnight. That’s okay. 

    Keep with your growth strategies, and keep with your plan.

    In general, you should wait at least a month before you start making judgement calls on the effectiveness of your new initiatives. For some tactics, you might even have to wait a few months to get a really clear picture of how your efforts are impacting your bottom line.

    It’s good to remember that you put time and effort into developing your growth strategies. If you did your research, at least some of your new tactics and strategies are going to deliver results. 

    #5 Analyze Your Results

    When your new strategies and growth campaigns have been running for a while, analyze them. Maybe that’s at the one-month mark for tactics like paid advertising and new initiatives in your marketing and sales process.

    For organic and inbound tactics like content marketing, you might give it two or three months before you take a good hard look at the results. Either way, when it’s time to take a look at how far you’ve come, it’s important to look at the big picture. Make sure you’re analyzing both your wins and your challenges. 

    Looking at the Big Picture: Wins

    Let’s say your new strategy is doing awesome. You’ve reached that 500 leads per month goal already, and you’re only three months into your new strategy.

    Don’t just leave it at, “well, my strategy is working great”. Take a look at which efforts specifically are generating those leads for you.

    Are the majority of your leads coming to your site organically? If so, which pages are they coming to or landing on? 

    Are your paid ads converting leads like crazy? Great! Which ads were most effective? 

    Is your new marketing process shortening your sales cycle and converting qualified leads in just a week or two after their first touch? Amazing. What specific efforts are getting those leads so excited about your company?

    The deeper you dig into your new growth strategies’ results, the better you’ll understand how you’re generating those results. 

    Looking at the Big Picture: Challenges

    This works the other way, too. Maybe you implemented a new email marketing strategy that totally flopped. Look at why it flopped.

    Did you just not have the depth of email contacts you needed to make that strategy work? Were people not connecting with that specific message? How can you improve it for the next round of growth goals? 

    The more you analyze your results, the better your growth strategy will perform in the long-term. When you know exactly what your leads respond best to, and why, you can continue on that upward growth trajectory, and you can keep optimizing your growth strategy with actual data and results in hand. Which brings us to step #6.

    #6 Optimize Your Growth Strategy

    After you analyze your results to death, it’s important to use all of that information you’ve collected and actually put it to work. If a specific set of Facebook ads performed really well, start launching more campaigns with similar attributes. If your email marketing strategy didn’t work, don’t keep doing the same old thing — try something new! 

    The great gift of analytics is that they give you the data you need to make changes and improvements. Use analytics to your advantage and apply what you’ve learned to your future growth tactics and strategies. When you do that, you’re truly implementing a continuous growth strategy that will continue to support your company even as your goals change. 

    #7 Set New SMART Growth Goals

    The key to an effective growth strategy is a mindset of continuous improvement. Once you reach your growth goals, it’s time to set new goals, and repeat the process. 

    If you want your company to keep growing, your growth strategies have to change as your company does. Once you reach your first set of goals, re-evaluate where your company is, set new SMART goals, and keep developing your growth strategy to help you reach them. 

    The best growth strategies are the ones that are constantly changing and adapting to your business’ needs and goals. And it makes sense: a growth strategy that worked for a small business isn’t going to work the same for a mid-sized business. Your growth strategy should evolve and adapt as your company continues to grow. 

    The Most Effective Growth Strategy Is the One That’s Continuously Improving

    In the end, building a growth strategy that delivers results is all about setting up the structure and mindset your team needs to grow, and allowing plenty of space and flexibility to keep improving. The best growth strategies are the ones that grow and improve themselves. 

    So, start with your SMART goals for right now, and keep moving that needle forward as your company grows. 

    Developing a growth strategy and actually implementing it can seem like big, daunting work. If you’re just not sure where to start, drop us a line! We help companies like yours grow every day, and we’d be happy to answer any questions you’ve got about developing a growth strategy, sticking to it, or optimizing it as you reach your goals. 

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    6 Website Design Tips for SMBs

    6 Website Design Tips for SMBs

    6 Website Design Tips for SMBs

    Small to mid-sized businesses have unique needs and constraints when it comes to designing a website. More so than with larger businesses, who can hire their own in-house web design teams, SMBs have the challenge of finding a great web designer or firm, keeping on top of the process, and, of course, finding money in the budget for the project.

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    Here are 5 website design tips for SMBs to help guide you through the process.

    #1 Remember That it’s Always a Work in Progress

    A website is never really “done.” Which is exactly the opposite of what you want to hear, but it’s true. The internet is constantly and rapidly changing, as is the way people interact with it. This means that your website needs to roll with the punches and be adaptable to change.

    Unlike the standard, static marketing assets of the past, like billboards or pamphlets, your website is dynamic. Visitors aren’t just looking at an image or reading text—they’re looking at your images, reading your text, submitting forms, clicking on menus and links, and hitting the call button. This means that all of those things need to be working, all the time and that those things can break or become outdated, and they’ll need to be updated.

    Plus, the internet loves things that are new. Regularly adding and refreshing your website design and content are critical to providing website visitors with the best experience and to achieve your desired ranking in search results.  

    #2 Hire a Professional to Design your Site

    We cannot stress this enough: Hire a professional to design your site. There are a lot of reasons why you should do this, but the most compelling are that your site is too important to DIY and that when it comes to website design, you’re usually getting what you pay for.

    Yes, there are a lot of programs out there that claim to allow you to design beautiful custom sites for free, and some of them are great—for bloggers or personal websites. 

    If you have a niche Etsy business knitting Game of Thrones costumes for cats, and you think it’s time for a website, one of those free website builders is probably a good tool for you. 

    You don’t have the budget or the need for anything truly custom on your site, and you’re not going to lose potential customers with a less than perfect user experience on your site—if someone really wants a GoT cat costume, you’re probably the only place they can get it.

    But if you’re running a small to mid-sized business that operates more in the professional realm, those free website builders don’t have what you need. 

    While they claim to offer custom sites, you’re provided with a limited range of templates to choose from, most of which are fairly basic in their appearance and functionality. You might be able to customize those templates, to an extent, if you’re skilled with CSS (and often, embark on a paid subscription with the solution). And, quite frankly, there are a lot of things those free website building platforms just can’t support, things like external landing pages, employee or client portals, and complicated site maps with extensive menus and pathways.

    #3 No Really, Hire a Professional

    Okay, so you might see this and think, “that’s fine, I won’t use a free website building platform. But I still don’t have to hire a pro. The IT team/person can code a website for us for free.” Please, we beseech you, do not do this. 

    While we’re sure that your IT team is full of skilled professionals with great levels of talent, this isn’t a great idea for a couple of reasons:

    The first being that a custom hard-coded website will be inaccessible to non-coders. If your IT team builds it, there won’t be a user interface that say, HR can log into to update the job postings. All changes will have to go through someone who knows how to code.

    Additionally, if the person or people who built your site ever leave your company, you could be left with a website on your hands that no one can update, and in the worst-case scenario, a PR nightmare when a disgruntled employee who built the site has complete control over it.

    Especially since you run an SMB, you don’t have the bandwidth or the payroll to have all your website design handled in-house. But hiring a website designer can provide you a high-quality, attractive, functional website that you can access and update. 

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    #4 Choose a Good Platform to Build it in

    We already touched on this a little in the previous section, but don’t use a free website builder. It’s not going to be a robust solution or give you all the functionality that you need. Instead, choose a platform that is going to give you all the functionality you need, and be something that you can use. So stay away from Wix.com and opt for something a little more heavy-duty, like Drupal, Joomla, or WordPress.

    There are a lot of internal stakeholders in a company website, even in an SMB. After all, a website isn’t just a marketing or sales tool, it’s also an asset for customer service, HR, employees, and other people and departments internally. 

    This can mean that there are a lot of cooks in the kitchen; HR needs to update job postings, customer service needs to live chat with site visitors who have questions, the marketing manager needs to log in to approve and post blog posts, etc. 

    All of these people (and more) need login credentials, so your site’s backend needs to accommodate that. But not only do these people need to log in to the back end, they need to have clearly defined permissions, and they also need to be able to find and do what they need to do, without having to become coders themselves. The back end UX needs to be almost as good as the front end UX to ensure that all of the moving parts keep moving in sync.

    #5 Make Sure That You Can Make Changes

    This goes back to what we said before about hiring a professional and not hard-coding a site, as well as choosing a good platform to build your website in. It even hearkens back to point #1: remember that it’s always a work in progress. You’re going to need to make changes to your website—all the time. You need to make sure it’s easy to do that.

    For the things you can change internally (updating some text, etc.), you need to make sure the platform you build your site with and the content management system (CMS) has multiple logins and permission levels, and that it’s user-friendly.

    For the bigger things, you need to make sure that you can easily get those changed when you need to. Part of that is having a good relationship with your website designer. Are they transparent and communicative? Do they follow through and stick to the schedule? 

    Another aspect is using a CMS like WordPress that’s somewhat universal. If your web designer goes on vacation or the firm you were using shutters its doors, you’ll need a site that another designer can access and update as the need arises.

    #6 Work With Your Website Designer

    Designing a website is not something your website designer can do in a vacuum. You’re going to have to provide your designer with information to go on—more than just your company name, your logos, and the pages that you want. Your website designer is going to need to have a sense of not only what your company does but how you do it, and what your brand is. This includes your logos and colors, but encompasses so much more, like the tone of your content and the kind of language you use, as well as the most intuitive ways to structure the information on your site.

    Your website designer is going to need to get a sense of your company’s identity, so that your site can adequately communicate your brand identity to website visitors and your future customers. The designer is creating the site, but it needs to look and read and navigate in a way that is authentic to your brand, relevant to your industry, and inviting to your potential clients. The designer is going to need your collaboration and cooperation to do this.

    So, share as much information as you can about your company, your processes, and your needs and vision for your new website design. They’re also going to need access to things like originals of your logos, brand style guides, and other image assets. Any marketing materials or other public-facing company documents can also be useful to your website designer, too.

    Thinking about building a website for your SMB? We’d love to help. We’ve got serious experience building sites for SMBs in a variety of industries, from manufacturing to home building to construction. We’d love to help build yours too

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    Direct Traffic Vs Organic Traffic: Everything You Need to Know

    Direct Traffic Vs Organic Traffic: Everything You Need to Know

    Direct Traffic Vs Organic Traffic: Everything You Need to Know

    TL;DR Direct Traffic vs Organic Traffic

    If you’re just looking for a face value answer to “direct traffic vs organic traffic”, then organic traffic is any traffic that comes from search engines and is earned, not paid. Direct traffic is any traffic that does not come from a referring website.

    Most people think of direct traffic as visitors physically typing your URL into their web browser, but there’s a little bit more to it than that. If you want to dig deeper and learn where all of your traffic is really coming from, keep reading.

    To really get a handle on the direct traffic vs organic traffic difference, it’s worth it to understand how all of your websites’ traffic sources are classified by analytics tools like HubSpot or Google Analytics.

    Types of Traffic Sources

    Most website analytic tools will organize your traffic sources into the following categories: 

    Direct Traffic — As we mentioned, direct traffic is categorized as traffic that does not come from a referring website. If traffic is coming from an unknown source, it will likely be categorized as direct traffic as well. 

    Organic Traffic — Organic traffic is any traffic that comes to your site from a search engine, but that isn’t paid for. Any organic traffic is going to be a result of your inbound marketing and SEO efforts. 

    Paid Search Traffic — Paid search traffic is any traffic that comes from a paid search campaign you’ve launched on a search engine like Google or Bing. 

    Social Traffic — Any traffic that comes from a social media website, like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.

    Email Traffic — If you are properly tagging your email campaigns with email parameters, any traffic that arrives to your site from an email will show up as email traffic.

    Referral Traffic — Traffic that comes to your website from any other website that is not a social media platform or a search engine. Someone clicking over from a backlink on another blog would be considered referral traffic.

    Other — If you have any traffic that doesn’t fit into the above categories, or has been specifically tagged as “other”, it will fall into this traffic category

    Now that we have a clear understanding of all of the different types of traffic sources, let’s dive into two of the most important: direct traffic and organic traffic. We’re going to start with direct traffic because honestly, it’s a little complicated.  

    Understanding Direct Traffic

    Direct traffic is supposed to be any traffic that’s coming directly to your site. That means anyone typing your URL into their web browser or clicking to your site from a bookmarked link. Unfortunately, direct traffic really isn’t as clear cut as that.

    This experiment done by SearchEngineLand and Groupon revealed that as much as 60% of traffic considered to be direct traffic is actually organic traffic. 

    How does that work?

    Well, browsers don’t always report where visitors arrived from when they make it to a website. If your analytics tool can’t figure out where traffic comes from, they just assume it’s direct traffic. Since that visitor doesn’t have a referral, your analytics don’t know where they came from, and they automatically dump them into the direct traffic bucket. 

    Why Do I Care If My Direct Traffic Is Miscategorized?

    Good question. 

    Does it really matter that a bunch of your traffic isn’t being properly categorized? What’s the point of knowing where your traffic is coming from, and doing all that work to minimize false “direct traffic” visitors?

    The answer is data. 

    Any digital marketer knows that the best way to improve marketing tactics and draw in more qualified leads is to first know where your leads are coming from, and why.

    If you can’t figure out where much of your direct traffic is coming from, you’re missing out on a big marketing opportunity. You can’t see what keywords those visitors are clicking over from or what terms they’re searching for.

    So where is my direct traffic actually coming from?

    If your direct traffic isn’t really direct, then what is it? Well, the internet isn’t perfect. To give your website analytics tool the proper referrals for every site visit, every little aspect of a link has to be in perfect shape, and that just doesn’t always happen. That said, here are a few specific reasons you might be seeing really high direct traffic numbers:

    HTTPS→HTTP Referrals

    If you haven’t yet secured your site, you have an HTTP site. That means you won’t see tracking on any visitors coming from a secure, HTTPS, site. This is a function of the secure protocol, and it’s actually a fairly easy fix. 

    You just need a third-party SSL certificate, and you can update your site to be secure. Then, you’ll see all the referral information you need from visitors coming to your site from other secure websites. 

    Bad Redirects & Missing or Broken Tracking Codes

    Another big culprit for unnecessary direct traffic is that something’s not working on your end. Maybe you forgot to put in the tracking code on a new landing page. 

    Anyone who clicks through from that landing page to another page on your site will appear to Google Analytics as a new user when they hit that second page. To Google, it seems like you’ve self-referred your own visitor. When that happens and your domain has been excluded, Google will automatically dump that visit in the direct traffic bucket. The same thing happens if your tracking codes fail or break. 

    Bad redirects can also be to blame, in a similar way. If you’re using anything other than SEO best practices for your redirects, you run the risk of UTM parameters being stripped out. Complex redirect chains can wipe referrer data, contributing to more direct traffic for you.

    Traffic from Mobile Apps, Desktop Software, and Some Email Clients

    Unfortunately, sometimes there’s just no way to avoid direct traffic that really isn’t direct. Many mobile apps, desktop software programs, and some email clients, like Outlook just don’t pass on referring information. 

    You can tell if you’re having an issue with email if you see a spike in direct traffic right after you send out a big email campaign, but it can be difficult to identify traffic coming from mobile apps and desktop software.

    Legit Direct Traffic

    And sometimes, some of your direct traffic really is direct. Maybe you wrote an awesome blog that people keep bookmarking, or maybe you have a great reputation in your area and people just navigate directly to your site.

    If you haven’t blocked your employee’s IP addresses, you could be getting direct traffic in your analytics from them navigating to the website. Direct traffic is an actual traffic source, so it’s important to remember that some of your direct traffic visitors can really be navigating right to you. 

    There are a variety of contributors to unnecessary direct traffic. While these are the most common and the easiest to identify, you can still see direct traffic coming from offline sources, people sharing your site through direct messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, and more.  

    While you can’t address all of these instances, there are a few you can fix, so that you’re getting the best possible information about your site visitors, what they want, and where they’re coming from. 

    How Can I Address Miscategorized Direct Traffic?

    Moz has a really great Complete Guide to Direct Traffic in Google Analytics that shows you not only how to figure out where your direct traffic is coming from, but also how to fix it. Head over there for some detailed specific principles to follow to fix any concerns you have with direct traffic. For now, two of the best ways to make sure you’re doing everything you possibly can to manage unnecessary direct traffic are: 

    • Make Sure Your Site is HTTPS. If your site still has an HTTP web address, you’re going to be missing out on referrals that could tell you a lot about your site visitors. Migrating to an HTTPS site will ensure that you can track referral traffic as best possible, and it has the added benefit of helping you keep up with the future of the web. 
    • Master Campaign Tagging. You can only control what you can control when it comes to direct traffic. You can’t control browsers coming from mobile apps or from sites that aren’t HTTPS. You can control your campaign tagging. The better you are at tagging your campaigns, the better analytics you’ll see from those new site visitors. Again, check with Moz for an in-depth how-to here.

    Now that we’ve cleared up what direct traffic is and is not, we can get to organic traffic, which in my opinion, is much less complicated. Remember that some of your direct traffic might be organic traffic that just doesn’t have the proper referral information. If you’re still not sure how that works, take a look at this study by SearchEngineLand

    Understanding Organic Traffic

    As we’ve talked about before, organic traffic is any traffic coming to your site from search engines that has not been influenced by any paid advertising. Not sure what that looks like? Check out our Anatomy of a SERP for a visual guide to where your organic traffic is coming from. 

    How do I get organic traffic?

    Organic traffic is generated by your ranking on search engine results pages. The higher your website ranks for search terms related to your company, the more organic traffic you’re going to see. Most inbound marketing tactics and strategies are founded on the goal of increasing search engine rankings to drive more organic traffic. 

    Organic traffic is also driven by SEO or Search Engine Optimization. The more optimized your site is for search engines, the better it is likely to rank for those search terms your ideal clients are typing into Google. Check out this case study for some info on how SEO can help drive serious organic traffic and qualified leads. 

    What’s the Biggest Difference Between Direct and Organic Traffic?

    The biggest difference between direct and organic traffic really has to do with user intent. When you have a lot of organic traffic, that means that you’re doing a good job of developing your digital presence to cater to search engines. You’re ranking highly for specific search terms, which is driving more traffic to your website. When you have a lot of direct traffic, you’re either suffering from some of the issues we mentioned above, or you have a ton of brand awareness in your industry. 

    For example, let’s say you’re searching for running shoes. If you’re ready to make a decision and are super loyal to Nike shoes, you’re going to type in Nike.com in your web browser and make a purchase. That’s a great example of quality direct traffic. 

    If you’re not sure what shoes are right for you — let’s say you’re new to running or aren’t particularly fond of Nike shoes, you’re going to type into a Google search, “best running shoes for beginners.” When you click on one of the top results that isn’t an ad, you are organic traffic for that website.

    For any marketer or website owner, it’s important to understand the direct traffic vs organic traffic difference. We hope this blog helped you identify key differences between the two, and gave you a bit of context behind some of the issues with direct traffic. If you have more questions about analyzing your website’s traffic sources, be sure to get in touch with the team at Evenbound. Our SEO experts are happy to answer any questions you might have.

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    PSA: Free HubSpot CRM Now Includes Email + Ad Management Tools

    PSA: Free HubSpot CRM Now Includes Email + Ad Management Tools

    PSA: Free HubSpot CRM Now Includes Email + Ad Management Tools

    We’ve got big news to share here in the inbound marketing community:

    HubSpot has just announced that they are now expanding their free CRM to include email marketing tools and expanded ad management tools.  

    Wait, one more time?

    • HubSpot CRM = Free
    • 2,000 emails/month + post-send analytics = Free
    • $1,000 of managed ads on Facebook, Linkedin, and Google = Free

    What Does This Mean For You?

    Well, if you were on the fence about the HubSpot platform (learn more about HubSpot’s software here), it means you get to try a whole host of some of their very best inbound marketing tools for free. 

    It also means that if you’ve been using four or five platforms to manage your email, your ad campaigns, and your contacts, you now have one, free solution to handle them all. 

    For small to mid-size businesses, this is a huge deal. 

    Constantly navigating between MailChimp, Salesforce, and whatever other tools you’ve been using to keep costs low, still costs you time. Your team has to log in to many different platforms, and they have to reconcile information from one platform to the next, which is frustrating, and can hog up precious work hours. 

    With these new extensions to the HubSpot CRM, you get some of the most important tools to grow your business, all in one platform, and all for free. 

    What’s the Catch?

    Obviously, HubSpot is hoping that when you see how great their tools are, you might be interested to upgrade as your company grows. But, there’s no pressure to do so, especially if your company is small and just not quite ready to upgrade. 

    The HubSpot CRM is always offered for free, for the lifetime of your subscription. There’s no free trial or expiration date on the CRM or any of the tools that HubSpot offers for free along with it. 

    Okay, So How Does it Work?

    Whether you have the HubSpot CRM already or not, you’re probably wondering about the specifics of these new tools. So, what exactly do you get with their new email marketing and ad management tools?

     

    Email Marketing

    HubSpot has long been known for its intuitive email marketing platform. In the email editor, you can easily make edits right in the email template, changing text, adding images, buttons, and CTAs. 

    It also gives you the opportunity to preview your email on a variety of different devices, and lets you send unlimited test emails to yourself and your team before you’re really ready to schedule out the post. 

    There are a ton of features to take advantage of just in the email editor, from their handy optimization guide to their A/B testing tool. But what’s really key about this new, free offering from HubSpot is the post-send analytics. 

    Now, once you send an email, you can see who opened it, how many people clicked through to your website, and much, much more. These metrics are what make this free tool such a boon to companies starting to grow. 

    With the email editor and post-send analytics, you can easily see which messages are resonating with your audience, and which aren’t quite hitting the mark, yet. You can also see which contacts continue to engage with your content as the move further down the buyer’s journey, closer to a sale. 

    Best of all, every contact’s interactions with your emails are saved in the CRM, on the same platform. There’s no jumping back and forth between your email manager and your contact list; everything you need to know about every contact, whether it’s related to email or an ad they clicked on is saved and logged in the CRM for you, and updated in real-time.

     

    Ad Management

    In the past, the free HubSpot CRM has only included support for Facebook lead ads. With this new upgrade, the CRM comes free with ad management and tracking tools for up to $1,000 per month of ad spend across Facebook, Google, and Linkedin. Users are able to connect a maximum of two accounts, so you can measure performance across platforms to see which channel is best for your message. 

    Like email marketing, connecting your ad accounts to your CRM helps you better understand your consumers. These new tools allow you to see exactly which contacts are interacting with your ads, and offer performance metrics to let you know which ads are bringing in the most qualified leads. Click To Tweet

    What’s the Bottom Line?

    The bottom-line benefit of these new additions to the free HubSpot CRM is that you can have all data from your email and ad campaigns filter through one central system. This allows you to track the long-term performance of your ads and email marketing campaigns, showing you the concrete ROI you’re seeing from both efforts, right from your CRM. 

    The HubSpot CRM is helping eliminate the hassle that comes with using multiple tools from multiple providers. 

    They’re offering a full suite of seriously powerful marketing tools plus a CRM that helps you track the results of your efforts in real-time, and makes it easy to reach out to those contacts who are responding best to your marketing campaigns. 

    In the end, the HubSpot CRM, with these new free email marketing and ad management tools, are great for any company who is looking to expand their marketing and growth capabilities but doesn’t yet have the trust or the budget to go all-in on an expensive platform. 

    This expansion of the HubSpot CRM is big news for us in the inbound and growth marketing community, and for any small businesses out there who are working hard to get ahead. If you’re interested in learning more about HubSpot’s free tools, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. 

    As a HubSpot Gold Agency Partner, we live and breathe this software, and would be happy to help answer any questions you might have or help smooth out any growing pains as your team transitions over to HubSpot’s tools. Just let us know how we can help

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