Phil Clemens, Author at Converge Consulting

All posts by Phil Clemens

5 KPIs for Higher Education Websites

Staying ahead of the latest and greatest marketing and advertising trends is a non-stop sprint. From digital marketing to video creation, your website is at the center of it all. It’s important to view your website as an evolving marketing tool rather than a place to store content and program information.

Here are five key performance indicators we recommend for higher education websites:

Storytelling

On average, an engaged visitor spends 8-10 seconds on a home page. This means you have 8-10 seconds to tell a potential student what your campus is like, what programs you offer and what life is like for students. You can do this by adding videos and imagery of your campus and your students. However, avoid adding too much content and stock imagery. As the potential student moves through the enrollment journey, they will request program information and navigate your site to find what they need.

Our client at Kansas Wesleyan uses student personas to tell their story on their home page.

kwu_story

Calls to Action

Adding a call-to-action button sounds simple, but there must be a strategy behind each CTA. Calls to action help us gather information on potential students at the top of the funnel, but they shouldn’t distract students at the bottom of the funnel who are ready to hit the “apply now” button.

Take a look at our client, Winterline Global Skills. They offer sample itineraries and brochures available to download throughout the site.

winterline_gsp

Ease of Navigation

A disorganized website or a site with too many options might overwhelm a potential student and create bounces. It’s vital to have an organized site architecture potential students can navigate. Make it easy for potential students to learn about your programs, requirements and how to apply.

Look at the navigation differences in the before and after images below. Our client, SCU, had four areas to navigate to programs on their old home page. The new home page makes it easy for potential students to find what they are looking for with easy-to-use navigation.

Before:

scu_before

After:

scu_after

Social Media Integration

Integrating social media channels on your website allows potential students to experience your school’s culture. It’s also exciting to see what other students, faculty and alumni are interested in on your campus.

Beyond that, it’s beneficial from a technical perspective. While Google keeps its search algorithm top secret, rumor has it that active social media channels help your organic search.

kwu_social

Integrated CRM

One of the most important things you can do is integrate an automated marketing system and CRM into your website. This intelligent software provides insight on who is visiting your site, what actions are they taking and where you can improve your website strategy. Your enrollment and recruitment teams can determine how real-world recruitment events and activities translate into web traffic. Converge works with clients with many types of CRMs and can help with everything from integration to setting up templates for marketing automation.

As you’re creating your social and digital strategy, be sure to continue investing in your number one tool – your website! Learn more about website strategy in this blog post, 3 Ways to Create a Killer Higher Education Website.

Website Optimization: What Does It All Mean?

Close-up view on conceptual keyboard - Optimization (green key)

As marketing and enrollment managers, we often read that our websites must be optimized to successfully market our universities online. The term “optimization” is thrown around with little explanation.

I’d like to dive into the meaning of website optimization and give you a few ways to put your website to the test.

An optimized website refers to a few different things: search engine optimization, website speed, and website architecture.

First, what is search engine optimization? Over the past five years, the term “SEO” has been explained many different ways. The acronym stands for search engine optimization. To have a search-engine-optimized website, your content must be organized in a way that’s easy for search engines to understand. Following best practices for SEO will allow your site to be properly indexed and will result in a higher organic ranking.

Five years ago, SEO meant having clean URLs and adding keywords to your content. Today it’s much more intricate. At Converge, we always start with an SEO assessment from MOZ. This allows us to come up with keyword research and recommendations, identify duplicate page titles, long URLs and development errors, and emphasize other technical SEO best practices.

Thematic and semantic SEO are relatively new to search engine optimization. Thematic SEO allows us to categorize content by context. One of our favorite examples is Life of Pi. If you search “movie about a tiger on a boat,” Life of Pi appears in the search engine. Semantic SEO allows us to structure content throughout a site so search engines can understand the purpose of each page rather than just reading keywords.

Website speed is another factor in optimization. It’s based on several factors. The first factor is the server your website is hosted on. Does it have enough memory or RAM for the size of your website? Is it on a shared or dedicated server? These are questions you should ask your IT department or hosting provider if your website runs slowly. Your website could also lag behind if your images or videos are too large. Make sure you’re following best practices on size requirements when loading content to your website. Here is a link to an image optimization article from the experts at Google.

Finally, website architecture is a major component of an optimized website. Making sure search engines can read your website is equally as important as making sure humans can read your site. Many website developers have gotten so caught up designing for search engines that they forget the end user’s intent. It’s important to make sure your website makes sense from a navigation and content perspective. At Converge, we write website copy geared toward our clients’ prospective students. We then go through the content to make sure it’s SEO optimized.

An optimized website is fast, search engine friendly and full of purposeful content that’s helpful to the end user. Wondering if your website is optimized? We recommend a tool called Woorank. We can also do an optimization assessment.

Visit our SEO page or get in touch with us for more information!

Education Marketers’ Top Priorities for 2016

With 2015 now in the rearview mirror, it’s time to step on the gas and cruise into the vast potential of 2016. As a higher education digital marketing company, we are excited about all of the new tools, techniques and ideas that will continue to transform the marketing industry in the new year.

To wrap up 2015, marketing attribution software and pipeline marketing leader, Bizible recently published the extremely informative State of Pipeline Marketing Report. Within this report, they reached out to marketing professionals across all industries (including higher ed) about the following:

  • How do they measure performance using attribution?
  • Which marketing tactics have the greatest impact on enrollment?
  • What are their priorities for 2016?

While every industry has its differences and complexities, we know that there are countless similarities that transcend industry borders. Higher ed marketing teams use many of the same tools and strategies as their B2B counterparts and are driven by the same goals and results. Therefore, I found the results to be very eye-opening, and I guarantee they would offer a wealth of knowledge for individuals who assist with marketing at their institutions.

I’ve summarized some specific higher-ed-related takeaways to give you a glimpse into the thoughts of those in our industry. Based on the results of the survey, here are the three major priorities higher ed marketing leaders will be utilizing to maximize their student recruitment potential:

Optimizing Campaigns Based on Revenue

Education marketers say SEO, event booths and email marketing channels have the biggest impact on revenue. Therefore, it’s important to make sure you are getting maximum results out of your keywords and establishing automated workflows that streamline your email marketing. It’s also important to network with as many industry experts as possible and learn what’s new and next while attending conferences.

Obtaining Valuable Insights and Improving Forecasting

Generating more leads and demand is the top priority for education marketers in 2016. Well, these results are definitely not shocking and are almost identical to findings across all industries. However, don’t let the low percentages in the ‘understanding ROI of marketing activities’ and ‘implementing or improving attribution’ buckets fool you. These are both extremely important areas that can help you transform your marketing strategy and analysis.

Measuring Marketing’s Impact on the Bottom Line

31 percent of education marketers plan on changing their attribution models in the next six months. If you’re looking for a persuasive article about the impact of attribution within digital analytics, check out Shelby Thayer’s insightful blog entryfrom last week.

Start Gaining Support on Your Campus for Inbound Marketing Techniques and Strategies

posted by on December 02, 2015 in Converge Blog

It’s hard to believe that marketing in higher ed was once viewed as a novelty, and only a few years ago, the term ‘inbound marketing’ was still in its infancy. That’s definitely not the case anymore as campus leaders, faculty, recruiters, etc. have discovered the importance of creating an inbound marketing culture and strategy on campus.

Speaking at Converge 2015, Teresa Flannery, vice president of communication at American University, coached attendees through the valuable lessons her institution learned from implementing inbound marketing techniques and strategies. Using sports metaphors to paint a clearer picture of American’s inbound marketing discoveries during this process, Teresa laid out the following keys to success in building your team and reaching your goals:

Find Your Identity – Your team needs to create a memorable brand and thought-out brand strategy, which is essential in promoting your school. For example, American University’s hugely successful brand, WONK (Know spelled backwards), signifies American’s goal of having thought leaders join their team. This creates a sense of identity and pride that’s contagious campus-wide and desirable for prospective students.

Adjust Your Game Strategy – The ground is noticeably shifting as traditional universities follow the lead of for-profit organizations like Phoenix, National American, etc. in terms of recruitment efforts. American managed to stay ahead of the curve and adapt to the changes by:

  • Introducing new online learning programs
  • Establishing multiple start dates for programs
  • Providing rapid response to prospective students

Create a Blueprint for Success – Similar to how personalities and attitudes can shape a team’s dynamic, the content and layout of your university identity and the programs you offer are essential in transforming your school.

Here are the must-have components that should be be present in your blueprint:

  • Personas –Personas are used in every aspect of marketing to identify tone of voice, timing, and context. They’re a gift that drives the entire content creation process.
  • Message Matrix – Key strategic messages that resonate with the right audience at the right time are what make a prospective student an inquiry. Aligning your team’s vision for how these messages are crafted and how your story is told are essential to the success of your future content.
  • Website Redesign – To sell your institution, you need a website that tells your story and focuses on inbound marketing. Include landing pages with calls to action and a brief bio with engaging photos and stories that match your personas.
  • Blog Creation – Blogging is one of the most important things you can do. Terry recommended incorporating blogging into your inbound strategy. This is an area where you can gain traction for a small cost. Deans and faculty should blog along with your marketing team because with each published blog, you expand your digital footprint. Make sure it fits with the overarching narrative of your brand.
  • Workflow Communication Map – Your goal here is to waste less time, define the rules you want, and automate the process. Workflows enable you to establish the rules you desire and easily automate it all. With workflows, you can trigger actions based on any information you have about your prospective students, allowing you to send the right message to the right audience at the right time.

Teamwork through Collaboration – You have to work seamlessly with multiple entities to guarantee success, even though it can sometimes be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to reach out to experts who can refine, expedite and transform your game plan. For example, American worked with three partners – Converge Consulting, MediaWorks and Blackboard – to launch its four pilot graduate programs while utilizing Google Universal Analytics and Ellucian CRM.

Looking for more tips? Don’t miss out on Converge 2017 in Palm Springs, California. Register now and save with our early bird pricing!

The Changing Face of Technology in Education

The Changing Face of Technology in Education (And Its Effect on #HigherEd)

I had the pleasure of participating in Denver’s Startup Week last week and attended numerous knowledge-packed sessions. Topics ranged from techniques for how to rank for your #1 keyword to the notion of the over promising and over-delivering of your brand to gain marketplace dominance.

The most memorable session I attended was a panel discussion on the changing face of technology in education. And while the main focus was on the K-12 level, there were some very constructive takeaways that are applicable the higher education industry.

Since it’s been over a decade since I was a student in Lower Ed (did I just coin this term?), it was very eye opening and shocking to discover how much has changed. New generations of K-12 students are learning in new and innovative ways, which affect the decision to further their education. Colleges and universities will need to adapt in order to be more in line with what these learners are looking for in a school.

The panelists included:

  • Katherin Cassey, Director, Ecosystem Innovation at Denver Public Schools
  • Matthew Shifrin, Founder of Utivity and the #DoMore Fund
  • Charlie Coglianese, Founder & CEO of School Runner
  • Danny Medved, Principal & Lead School Designer at Denver School of Innovation & Sustainable Design

Here are some key insights I gained from the discussion:

There has been the same basic model for curriculum in K-12 schools for the last 100 year.

  • Mastery of skills and personalization are major impactful practices that have been changing the face of education in the past few years.

New fast-track programs like Early College Start Program at Denver Public Schools allows students to obtain up to 45 college credits in-house.

  • That is between 1-2 years’ worth of Higher Ed credits and directly affects which college or university students are choosing based on whether these credits accepted.

Standardized testing/assessments have become very outdated, obtuse and often times are ineffective at examining intelligence.

  • Denver Public Schools have begun implementing cognitive skills rubrics (created by Stanford University education thought-leaders) in order to give students a growth-based trajectory in building on their subject knowledge.

The ability for students to evaluate themselves and improve their skills has evolved – mastering a skill and teaching it to their peers has been proven to have a much higher retention rate than a lecture.

The individual student is being given more and more control and making more decisions about the way they learn and obtain knowledge. They are becoming an integral part in the decision-making techniques of their teachers and administrators.

  • As with the shift from direct to inbound marketing, the power of the decision is now in the hands of the customer (or in this case, the learner).

Colleges and universities will need to closely monitor and reevaluate practices in accordance with these changes in ever-evolving technology. These findings brought me to the following closing questions:

How do you think that changes in technology and learning will affect students’ decisions about furthering their education? And how will they make the difficult choice of deciding between a specific college, university, tech school or jumping straight into the workforce?

Please feel free to continue the conversation in the comments below. We look forward to discussing what’s new and next in higher education with you.

7 Things I Loved About Inbound 2015

posted by on September 23, 2015 in Converge Blog

7 Things I Loved About Inbound 2015

I go to a lot of conferences, and I often have to really psych myself up to slap a smile on my face and talk to thousands of strangers. As I was packing my bags for Inbound, I noticed a different kind of feeling – it could only be identified as… excitement!

I landed in Boston and stepped into the main entrance where I was handed a shiny new nametag, a protein shake and a glass of wine. That’s when I new this would be my favorite conference of the year.

The Inbound conference app showed me hundreds of options for classes and keynotes. I spent the entire flight there creating my schedule. Although there was no possible way to see and do everything I wanted, I still managed to have an amazing time.

These are the top 10 things I loved about Inbound 2015:

1. Protein Shakes and Expensive Juice

Who doesn’t love protein shakes and expensive juices? HubSpot went above and beyond this year. When you walked into a keynote speaker session, you were handed a juice or protein shake. They were the good ones, too. Last I checked they cost about $6 at Whole Foods. And night at the happy hour, they had foods that people actually liked. It’s the little things like this that make attendees feel appreciated.

2. Authenticity

A lot of the Keynotes and classes I went to had an underlying tone of “be authentic.” Seems like there are not many marketing secrets left in this world. Most everyone knows about the importance of inbound marketing and the pay for play in the digital world. The only way we can separate ourselves from the next is by being authentic by adding our personality to the work we do.

3. Aziz Ansari

I told my Husband and a few other people that Aziz Ansari would be at Inbound this year. Everyone was asking me what a comedian was doing at a marketing conference and at first I wasn’t really sure. Aziz turned out to be a very interesting keynote speaker. While he was funny, he wasn’t there as a comedian, he was there as a researcher and author of his latest book, Modern Romance.

The book is all about how technology has changed the way we meet and fall in love. It’s also changed the way we act towards one another. He talked about how dating apps are giving people too many choices and, in turn, are causing them to be unsatisfied in every dating situation. Nowadays, when people are on a great date, they can run to the restroom and check their Tinder account and see that maybe an even better date is waiting for them around the corner. He also talks about how our profile pictures give us excuses to act like jerks and speak to each other in a way we never would in person. For those who are using technology as a channel for finding dates, this book is a must read.

4. Jon Ronson

Jon Ronson studies social shame and has created a psychopath test. He had so many interesting things to share with us. The one story that stuck out was the story of Justine Sacco, a PR girl with only 175 twitter followers that changed her entire life with one regretful tweet.

On December 20th 2013, Justine posted a comment on her twitter account that said, “I’m going to Africa, I hope I don’t get AIDS. Just kidding, I’m white.”

By the time she landed in Africa, Justine was the number one trending topic on Twitter. She not only lost her job, but also hit the ground with an email inbox full of hate mail. Jon studies the trends within social media and how one topic can be picked to be the one everyone shames while something just as terrible goes unnoticed.

Really interesting insight and information during this keynote – for more information on Jon check out his twitter account.

5. Brene Brown

I was really excited to see Brene Brown speak. She studies vulnerability and how we are emotional beings with physiological symptoms and not the other way around. Her stories were about how being vulnerable and communicating our needs is really the only way we can grow in our careers, in personal relationships and within everything we care about.

See the Ted Talk that made Brene famous here.

6. Food Trucks

There is no better way to feed thirteen thousand people than by bringing in every food truck in Boston. Inbound provided a variety of foods, from the bacon mobile to the pizza truck. The lines were kind of long, but proved to be a great opportunity to meet and talk to people you might not get the chance to meet otherwise.

7. Seaport Parties

What is a conference without a party? Nothing I want to be a part of, that’s for sure. Inbound does an awesome job at arranging parties all along the Seaport area. The Converge team was first in line for the party at the Whiskey Priest. We were surprised at the amount of food and open bar. This was a great opportunity to meet other #Inbound15 attendees and compare notes on our days.

All in all, it was a great conference. I’d even go as far as to call it a success. I left Inbound with more knowledge on inbound marketing techniques, a goal to be more authentic in my work, and with a few new friends and contacts.

See you next year!  

An Inside Look at Helicopter Helen

posted by on September 03, 2015 in Converge Blog

An Inside Look at Helicopter Helen

At Converge, we take creating our user personas very seriously. User personas are vital in getting our marketing messages right. They help us deliver the right message to the right audience at the right time. Recently we created Helicopter Helen, a persona that represents the parent of a traditional student.

During our time at the Target X User Summit back in July, we were lucky enough to have our booth right next to Render Experiences. As it turns out CEO of Render, Jeff Kallay is an expert on Helicopter Helen. Thanks to him, our Helicopter Helen persona is even more fine-tuned.

Jeff and his team at Render create campus visit experiences for colleges and universities. They spend most of their time face to face with potential students and their parents. We got to talking about the recent change in the student visitors and mostly the change in parents. Today, members of Generation X are parents of traditional college students. They are presenting higher education institutions with a whole new demographic and, in some cases, a new challenge.

In recent years, Jeff has seen the Baby Boomer generation disappear from campus visits. They’re being replaced with Gen X’ers. The differences in parenting styles and personalities between the two generations are obvious. Baby Boomer parents were excited to be there. They had questions like:

  • “What is the dorm food like?”
  • “Where are all the fun parties?”
  • “How many hours per week will my kid be in class?”

Today’s parents have a different tune. One of, what will your school do for us?  They ask questions like:

  • “What is the crime rate on campus?”
  • “How safe is your school?”
  • “What is the graduation rate?”
  • “What sort of careers do your alumni have?”

The current traditional student is starting to roll into the next generation,Homelanders. These are kids born after 2000. They have not experienced a life without war. They’ve never experienced airport security where you don’t have to remove your shoes. They have grown up with advanced technology. They went from crawling to walking to typing.

Parents of this generation are different. They have been very involved in making decisions for their children. This means they are more involved than ever in making the final decision of where their child attends school. Today, it’s the parent of the potential student that colleges must make a good impression on. The campus must be clean. Safety information must be readily available. Your recruiters need to show these parents the ROI they will get by sending their kids to your school.

So how do we get the right message to all of the Helicopter Helens out there? Here are a few ideas:

  • Publish blogs about the safety of your school.
  • Create alumni spotlights to highlight some of the successes of your recent grads.
  • Have new students submit blogs on a weekly basis about their life during the first semester of college.

Want to learn more about personas or creating an inbound strategy? Check out our services to see how we can help or register for our post-conference workshop on content strategy at Converge 2015!

Five Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Conference Experience

posted by on August 11, 2015 in Converge Blog

Converge 2015 is just three months away. We’re so excited to connect with you on all things inbound in New Orleans on October 21-22! As you’re gearing up for conference season, we’re sure you’re thinking of ways to make the most of your professional networking time.

For some people, conferences mean free food and drinks. For others, they’re the perfect opportunity to mingle with like-minded individuals. Here are five tips to get the most out of your experience:

1.    Don’t forget your business cards!

This may seem like a no brainer, but it happens all too often! You are so set on being on time, or studying Google maps to see where you are going, that you end up forgetting your business cards.  You don’t want to be the guy or gal that had the great service / ideas that someone really needed, but forgot your name so they went with the other person who had a card!

 

2.    Be open minded

If you have a prospect attending a networking event and you really want to speak to them, make time to do so but make sure to talk to at least five other people. Networking events are a great chance to candidly talk other people in your industry. It’s a chance where you can learn from each other and learn about things you might not even know to ask about.

 

3.    Ditch your sales pitch & keep it quick

There’s a fine line between talking enough and too much. You need to practice your elevator pitch, and be able to tell people what you do and why you are attending the networking event without losing your audience. If you start talking and lose half of your audience to refills and bathroom breaks then you are talking too much. Stay engaging, introduce yourself and then ask questions about those around you.Networking events are not where sales take place. They are where you meet the people that you want to work with in the future.  So put your pen and contracts back in the car, relax and impress people with your personality.

 

4.    Thank your host and actually eat the food!

We have hosted a few networking events in our day, and there is a lot of work that goes on in planning the event location and menu. It’s nice when people realize the effort and thank the host. It can be awkward to eat chicken wings while networking. When you first get to a networking event, grab a drink and a snack first thing so you can examine the landscape and check out who you want to talk to. Check your teeth, wash your hands, thank your host and get out there and network!

 

5.    Make an effective introduction & leave a lasting impression

You will meet a lot of people at the networking event so it’s important to make a good first impression that lasts. Be confident, walk up to a few people and introduce yourself with a smile and somewhat firm handshake. Make sure to remember the name of the person you just met. Sometimes it helps to say their name a couple times in your first discussion. People respond better to others when their name is used. Leave a lasting impression by following up after the event. Take the time to go through the business cards you gathered and follow up with a personal touch. Connect with them on LinkedIn or shoot them a quick email to say hello.

 

Networking events bring strangers together to collaborate and learn. There is a common motive that everyone shares, and it’s interesting to find out how much all these strangers have in common.

Attending an upcoming conference? You can find the Converge team at the following networking events:

Still planning your annual industry event? Register for Converge 2015 and save $100 off of your conference pass. But do it quick. Early bird is ending soon!

Are Your Digital Ads Performing?

posted by on July 08, 2015 in Converge Blog

Are your digital ads performing? Are you thinking of running a campaign, but are unsure of where to start? Many people set up digital campaigns, press go and assume they’ll run themselves. Few people understand the importance of routine optimization, retargeting and data reporting to inform an overarching strategy.

Converge Consulting is offering a free 20-minute Digital Campaign Assessment. We will review your current efforts, discuss your target audience, and give you suggestions on how to improve your ROI with digital advertising.

Our digital marketing experts are Google AdWords, Bing Ads and Hubspot certified. Converge has worked with over 100 higher education clients. We understand the student’s journey and how to reach them — from the day they become aware of your institution to they day that they apply.

The free assessment includes:

  • Review your current strategy
  • Discuss your target audience and goals
  • Provide tips and tricks on best practices
  • Suggest new strategies to help you attract and convert new students

Sign up here and we will schedule your assessment as soon as possible!

21 Questions to Ask Agencies Before You Start Working Together

posted by on June 25, 2015 in Converge Blog

Go ahead, Google ‘website design agency.’ Based on your location settings and preferences, you’re probably seeing the same results I see – paid ads with flashy tag lines like ‘affordable’ and ‘best.’ If you click them, you will see great-looking landing pages with all kinds of sparkle. The same goes for search terms like ‘digital agency.’ It gets really messy when you search ‘SEO agency.’

Search engines are really advanced these days, but you probably won’t find what you’re looking for if you search ‘agencies that understand our culture, processes, and needs, are great at what they do, and will deliver what they promise.’

That would be great, wouldn’t it?

I’ve been in the agency world since 2009. I’ve seen many RFPs and been on many introductory phone calls. I’m always shocked at how many important questions don’t get asked during the process.

When a client asks the right questions and finds the right firm to work with, great things can happen for both the agency and the client. When those questions are not asked and the client and agency do not see eye to eye, it can be a disaster.

Here are 21 questions you should ask your potential vendor/agency before starting any project:

  1. Where are you located?
  2. Who is your CEO and what is their background?
  3. How long have you been in business?
  4. Do you have case studies you can share with us?
  5. Have you worked with anyone in our industry?
  6. Do you work with our direct competitors on any level?
  7. What is your project management process?
  8. Do you use client-facing project management tools?
  9. How will you report back to us?
  10. How do you determine when a project is complete?
  11. What are your payment milestones based on?
  12. How will your team understand our business?
  13. How many people are on your team?
  14. Who will be our point of contact and how often will we hear from them?
  15. Can I meet my project manager before signing the contract?
  16. What are your company values?
  17. What is your company culture like?
  18. What is your process for testing your work?
  19. How do you determine scope and fees associated with change requests?
  20. Can you provide references from a completed project, a project in progress and a long-term client?
  21. Why do you want to work with us?

Inbound Marketing from Service to Software FAQs

posted by on June 16, 2015 in Converge Blog

Do I have to have HubSpot to do Inbound Marketing?

It’s a valid question and one we get quite often so we wanted to clear things up about inbound marketing from service to software. HubSpot does not do inbound marketing as a platform it’s simply software that acts as a hub for inbound marketing activities, analytics, reports, a CMS and a CRM. HubSpot is not required for inbound marketing.However, the platform and methodologies provide intuitive and strategic scheduling, executing and reporting.

What is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is based on the idea that traditional or outbound marketing tactics are no longer effective. Today, when we want to buy something or learn more about a school or business, we take to our laptops or mobile devices to research whatever it is we’re interested in. Blogs, eBooks, customer reviews, social media posts and insights from other customers or students allow us to further understand our topics of interests and help us make decisions.

How do I do it?

Inbound marketing is nothing without discovery and strategy. Just like any other marketing tactic; research is vital. Every industry, business, college and university has it’s own unique marketing goals and requirements. Before any inbound marketing efforts take place we must first define our audience, goals and message.

What are user personas? Why are they important?

To define our audience we will create up to five personas per client. These are models of the ideal candidate or customer. Personas allow us to dial in our messaging and communication principals. For example, some of our clients’ personas prefer emails after 7pm and do not take part in Facebook, while others prefer SMS messages with email follow ups and are engaged on social media from sunrise to sunset. Understanding these details about personas allows us to craft messaging strategies to use the preferred method, time and channel of communication.

Goals are important to each inbound marketing campaign. Inbound marketing is measurable where traditional marketing methodologies were not. We will set realistic and reachable goals. Each month we review activities to see what’s working and what’s not. Through HubSpot we are able to see touch points throughout the buyers journey or the enrollment journey. These are the touch points from the first interaction with your brand to sale or enrollment. Monthly reports will show us if we are hitting the goal and how to adjust for more success the next month.

Once the personas and goals are established, the campaign is ready to get started!The campaign is a message that will be carried through the inbound marketing channels. Each campaign’s key message is communicated through social media, blogs and possibly landing pages or emails. Each inbound effort is tracked and the HubSpot dashboard will give you an overview each campaign’s digital footprint and success. At the end of the month, we analyze which campaign performed the best.

That sums up an inbound marketing campaign. At the end of the day, inbound marketing is online marketing that pushes content out to allow customers to come to you. Marketing with a magnet and not a sledgehammer. HubSpot is helpful when planning and analyzing inbound campaigns. There are other ways to collect data – Google Analytics, Sysmos, and Moz are just a few examples of other analytics tools.

So to answer your question… no, HubSpot is not necessary for inbound marketing, but we think it’s an amazing tool to enhance your campaigns and to train your team on inbound methodologies.

To learn more about inbound marketing feel free to schedule an inbound site assessment here! One of our inbound marketing specialists will be in touch soon!

See You at Internet Retailer 2015

posted by on June 02, 2015 in Converge Blog

See you at Internet Retailer 2015

I’m so excited that my new company is eager to see what the eCommerce world is all about at IRCE. I’m in my second month as VP of Converge Consulting. With my background in eCommerce and the digital strategy executing machine that Converge Consulting is we are ready to start moving into the eCommerce realm.

Converge Consulting is a well known for digital strategy and website design and development in the higher education world. The thing that separates Converge from the rest is that they are platform agnostic. Converge finds the best solutions for each and every client based on their needs, industry, and budget. Converge has over 100 clients. My favorite part of working with Converge is that they pride themselves on their reputation. Our clients love us and we intend to keep it that way!

We are heading to IRCE to create new partnerships, see some old friends and make some new ones. We want to introduce ourselves to merchants who are looking to improve their digital strategy to increase traffic and sales with inbound marketing, paid search, and an improved strategy.

If you would like to meet please find me @robyn25 on twitter or email me atrobyn@convergeconsulting.org.

Jay Kelly and I will be there from Wednesday June 3rd- June 4th! See you there!