A Blog for Social Media Skeptics

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Apr 9, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are begging you to like or follow them right now – aggressively.

Some of these businesses convey great virtual voices, while too many others market on rhetoric, hyperbole and with a whole lot of smoke and mirrors. Thus, it is understandable that when it comes to social media as a marketing platform, skepticism is rampant.

Currently I manage an assortment of Twitter accounts: for myself, PROSAR, a non-profit, a local band, and for multiple small businesses. It’s frustrating sometimes to be forced to navigate through loads of BS when searching for re-tweetable content, or solid new contacts with which to network. I suppose it’s too easy to pretend to be something you’re not when talking to a screen, rather than an actual physical person across from you in a coffee shop. That said, when it comes to your virtual presence, not unlike your personal and business relationship, being disingenuous will do you no favours.

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Topics: twitter, social media, marketing, charlie angus, inbound marketing methodology, social media skepticism, smoke and mirrors

6 Best Practices for Expert Live Tweeting

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Feb 28, 2014 10:30:00 AM

Whether it's a live music event, the #Sochi2014 Olympics, or a local craft beer festival (like we attended last weekend), live tweeting is a great tactical skill for you to keep in your marketing back pocket.

One of the first reported examples of live tweeting took place back in 2009 when CNN and Facebook teamed up during Obama's inauguration. Confused about what live tweeting is, exactly? Have a look at this straight-forward definition from YourDictionary.com:

I'm extremely social by nature, addicted to Twitter, and love sharing my experiences among my virtual networks in practically every arena. Not all of us are inherently like this, and not all of us need to be like this. Moreover, if you're out at a social function surrounded by prospective clients you'd like to be networking with, and your face is glaring down at a screen the entire time, there's the risk of closing yourself off from real-live contacts. You need to find your own balance that works best for you.

Whether you're a seasoned Twitter fanatic or merely a dabbler, there are methods to get the most out live tweeting no matter what your personal style. As someone who has live tweeted at dozens of events for a wide assortment of folks (non-profits, political parties and local bands, for instance), here are my favourite tricks of the trade:

1. Invest in the right tools for the job
Even if you're tight for cash, it is critical to invest in a mobile device that allows you to document quickly and efficiently. Yes, that means a camera with an adequate percentage of megapixels. This doesn't necessarily mean blowing all your money on whatever might be the latest and greatest, it just means investing in something you can depend on, so that when the opportunity to live tweet presents itself, you can stay on top of your game and look professional doing it. Because, honestly, blurry photos and slow operating systems suck!

2. Survey the space you're working with
Relax, collect yourself and take a few minutes to establish the space you're going to be tweeting from. I've always found it helpful to get a good feel for my surroundings before I dive into something. Whether it's public speaking or live tweeting, feeling comfortable with your surroundings and confident in the space you're working from helps produce great results.

3. Have a realistic goal
This is important when it comes to everything digital. It's critical to know exactly why you're engaging your virtual following for this event. Some questions to ask yourself might include: (A) Do you have any pre-determined hashtags that are going to peak interest? (B) How many times are you planning on tweeting throughout this event? (C) Who are the right people to re-tweet? (D) Are you prepared for high engagement, and ready to generate interest if your engagement level is lagging? Take the time to sit down with your client or colleagues and establish the promotional and branding reasoning behind the live tweeting. A great example of a well-executed live tweet session (with clearly defined goals behind it) was Ask Obama: a Twitter "Town Hall," executed by The White House. According to their site, "tens of thousands of questions were tweeted to #AskObama on Twitter about the economy, health care and other important issues."

4. Be salient and relevant, not boring or typical
Who are you representing, and what voice are you expected to embody exactly? Are you tweeting from your personal account, or from a client's? How professional should your voice be? There are a number of questions you may need to ask yourself (or your clients and colleagues) before you take on this important role. You are essentially the virtual face of who you are tweeting for. Try to keep that in mind. Just one tweet could have the capacity to make or break your following. Alternatively, like in the case of popular television show, Portlandia (whose fictional feminist bookstore live tweeted throughout the Superbowl) you could potentially grow your following by 25%.

5. Check yourself before you wreck yourself
I get it, I'm a keener too. It's so much fun to see yourself get re-tweeted, favourited, or to be a leading voice in a virtual conversation. But try to keep in mind: chronically tweeting just for the sake of chronically tweeting is annoying, disruptive and runs the risk of making you look like a total idiot in public. Frankly, do you really want to sound like a blabbermouth when the entire world can see what you're saying? Tweeting just for the sake of tweeting accomplishes essentially nothing in the grand scheme of things. A firm place to start, is by employing the right hashtags for the job. Our blog on the subject has a medley of tips which you can access here. For more general info on staying on target, I found these do's & don'ts from Glitz & Grammar helpful when it comes to staying on the right track.

While live tweeting is actual work and needs to be taken seriously as such, it can be super fun as well. Approach the task with a positive attitude and love what you're doing. Social media (or the Twittersphere especially) can operate as an amazing way to engage, share, build and nurture relationships. Embrace it, you're on the front lines!

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Topics: twitter, social media, marketing, social media marketing, customer engagement, professional skills, live-tweeting

Optimize Your Site For Optimum Success

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Feb 12, 2014 12:00:00 PM

Marshall McLuhan might have said it best when he said, "The medium is the message."

There are thousands, upon thousands of pages on the Internet competing for your audience's attention. So just how are you going to solidify your company's ability to stand out virtually? What mediums are you going to leverage in order to capture that attention, and keep it long enough to have them hear what you have to say?

Image credit: info.exactsource.com

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a tough pill to swallow for many marketers. You might have a specific style that you really like, or simply have become comfortable with your current website, and like most people are adverse to change. I know for myself, one of the toughest things to do is explain to a client that their site doesn't really speak to their targeted audience. Or, maybe it just isn't cutting it anymore.

That said, whether you or anyone likes it or not, the reality is that the medium really is the message. And without a crystal clear medium, excellent up-to-date content that gets every message across clearly and intuitively, and all the inbound know-how -- your site will never be optimized adequately and will never stand out as well as it could have. And at the end of the day, aren't we all in the business of standing out and delighting our customers?

Image credit: ihttp://img.portwallpaper.com/imgwal/clear-water-drop.jpg

Across many of their webinars in their Academy certifications, HubSpot continuously reinforces that we are not in the business of delighting ourselves; we are in the business of delighting our consumers. We don’t design our sites the way we personally may prefer them, we design them in the hopes of attracting, converting, closing and delighting our consumers. Statistics demonstrate that over 75% of consumers who browse websites and their design, care not about the appearance or the experience, as much as they care about how easy it is for them to find exactly what they want.

I've found one of the easiest ways to digest the SEO sandwich and all its ingredients, is by sticking to the following 3 tips as recommended by HubSpot. The stronger the page performance, the more chance to ensure that your visitors are converted into leads, and those leads are being nurtured into customers.


1. Make the goal of your page crystal clear
Start with your end goal in mind. In a sentence or two (or less!) you should be able to explain exactly why your page exists. How is this page helping the visitor find or get what they want? It may seem simple, but bringing this goal down to brass tacks can be surprisingly tough for some. Talk with your team and do what you can together to ensure the goal is as clear as possible. Nothing on your page should be random or lacking purpose. As a productive exercise, try assessing a few webpages from other companies in your industry and see where your company stacks up.

2. Add content that fully supports your goal
Your site's content is essentially the fuel operating your site's engine. Your content is what is ultimately going to drive your site's goal, and reinforce your point. So while there may be different headlines within your page, each section should still be adding up to the same overarching goal or topic.

3. Use inbound marketing techniques to optimize your page

Hopefully by now you are familiar with a few things "inbound." These are actually the centerfold of what is going to help your page get found on the internet. Inbound marketing techniques that should be actively employed when building a site should include: [A] keywords, [B] on-page SEO practices (including page titles, page URLs, page headers, content & meta descriptions), [C] off-page SEO (including citations or inbound links to your work on other pages), [D] social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.), and [E] call-to-action (CTA) click throughs.

Are you a particularly visual person? Another useful resource I stumbled on recently was this infographic, which breaks down the different elements of SEO like a sandwich. Check out this clever little infographic from Vertical Response:

Keep in mind, our webpages are quite literally our virtual storefront and may very likely be our first and last impression on our consumers. Our visitors expect the same overall experience, the same level of interactivity, and the same clarity of information as they would receive in an actual store. If your message is unclear or lost in translation on your webpage (AKA. your medium or message is unclear), consequently, your page visitors are going to have low expectations for real-life interactions with your company.

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Topics: marketing, website, analytics, SEO, aesthetics, page performance, webpages

Debunking the Art of Email Marketing

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Jan 30, 2014 3:00:00 PM

Brush off your skepticism marketers, because the stats are in, and the results are clear  high calibre email marketing produces great results. According to HubSpot, for every $1 companies invest in email marketing, $40 is generated in revenue. There's just no denying it, as much as some of us may want to.

And while composing an email to our contacts can seem like an exhausting chore, in another light when done the right way, it can actually become a fun and interactive scheduled task for you and your colleagues to take on each week.

Remember that cheesy 90s romantic comedy, You've Got Mail, with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks? Both of them were over the moon every time they received an email from one another. While you may not be writing anything flirtatious or romantic like they were, you still can provoke that same sense of excitement, enthusiasm and engagement from your audience if you're employing the right tools for the job.

HubSpot has compiled a checklist for marketers, with 10 important steps toward ensuring your company emails are hard-hitting and effective. At the end of the day, if you're investing the time and money into this aspect of your business, it only makes sense that every email coming from you to your clients is absolutely brilliant. Ultimately, we want to ensure that we're not only delighting our customers, but nurturing every potential lead at end of the sales funnel.

Today, I'm happy to share with you this list of tips which you can jot down, or copy and paste and keep in mind the next time you're composing a thank-you email for service use, collecting survey data, or just checking in with your leads.


1. Identify your call-to-action
Determine the specific goal of your email. Are you attempting to gather data from a certain group of clients? Are you hoping to get more folks to follow you on Twitter? Why are you reaching out exactly?

2. Segment your contacts list
This is critical. Always ensure that you narrow down the list of people you are contacting rather than sending out big, arbitrary content blasts. Blasts do not result in ROI. Do what you can to segment your database, and only reach out to the correct, specific groups who will benefit from the message you are sending.

3. Personalize when possible
Using personable, relatable language or referring directly to relevant experiences for the people you are reaching out to is helpful. No one appreciates a random email with zero comprehensive or relevant content. If someone bought your product, reference it. If someone came and stayed at your resort, ask them how their experience was in the specific part of the resort they stayed at.

4. Send your email from a real person
Sending an email from a specific person, rather than a large corporate body or business (ie. marketing@blank, or no-reply@blank) is a much better way to coax your leads into opening your email or responding positively to it.

5. Use "actionable" language
Your ultimate goal with an email is typically to guide your reader toward one, clear task, so do that clearly and intuitively. For instance, if your goal is to have them participate in a short survey, make that point blatantly obvious and easy to understand and do. Lead them to that action easily.

6. Create clear and compelling subject lines
A clear and enticing title to an email is of the utmost importance if you want anyone to read it. If you make your subject line difficult to understand, have a spelling error, or leave it blank for instance, your level of response will suffer significantly. Keep your subject line to 50 characters or less to avoid truncation, but ensure you get your point across and make yourself heard. Draw those leads in.

7. Demonstrate what's in it for them
Be specific and straight forward with an incentive for participating in whatever action you're requesting of your readers. If you're grateful for their continued patronage, or hoping to prove to them that you're an industry leader and knowledgeable in what you do, share a free e-book or a great discounted service at the end of the email that's easy to download and pass along.

8. Have a concise signature and footer
This is pretty self-explanatory. Ensure that you're clear who you are and how you've come to contact your reader and how you're affiliated with your company, but be short, sweet and to the point.

9. Send a test email
Avoid embarrassment within your networks. Do yourself and your company a favor, and take a moment to send out a test email to yourself or a colleague to ensure everything is in order before you finally pass the message on to your recipients.

10. Analyze, analyze, analyze!
This is so important and often goes overlooked. Take the time to read over your email or have a second set of eyes proof it. Ensure the look and feel is perfected, before taking the final step to hit "send." Have you been clear enough with your message? Have you addressed it to the right segmented group? Did you include relevant and appropriate imagery to boost your message? Don't just gloss over it, be thorough.

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Topics: business, marketing, personalization, advertising, lead nurturing, ROI, email campaign, email marketing

5 Tips For Using (Not Abusing) Social Media

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Jan 27, 2014 12:45:00 PM

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Topics: inbound, social media, marketing, business development, strategy, time management

Effectively Tapping Into Your SM Following

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Jan 16, 2014 4:30:00 PM

Staying on top of a weekly schedule of Tweets, posts and updates is all well and good. But how do you take all of that engagement to the next level, in order to firm up your ROI as a business?

We're learning the critical urgence to stay connected through all social platforms as we've emphasized for you in the past. This can literally be done from anywhere in the world, 24/7.

As HubSpot indicates, the days of wooing customers with dramatic face-to-face sales pitches (see: Don Draper) are a thing of the past. Now that it's so easy to communicate remotely, salespeople rarely, if ever, meet prospects and customers in person.

It's a bit more challenging to be charming from another continent, for instance, than it was when we were taking prospects out for a cocktail before globalization. Thus, committing time to perfecting your online presence is imperative to succeeding. Being personable through your social platform, email signatures, and any content you create makes it easier for prospects to connect with you and ultimately, become customers.

What we need to ensure that everything we're doing as marketers, is in fact leveraging our business. Try to keep in mind that, while "likes" and "followers" look and feel great on the surface as business (who doesn't love popularity?), statistics prove that only a minute percentage of those followers actually move beyond this point in the conversion process.

So in essence, you might appear as though you're making a splash across those social media platforms, but very few of these may be translating into leads or sales.

That said, it is possible to get through. By publishing the right content in the right place at the right time your marketing can become relevant and helpful, not interruptive.

Reaching out to your followers at with CTAs, then forms and landing pages at opportune times is critical. And, and the graphic provided by HubSpot illustrates, as well as timing, the place as well as the content itself are equally important to delighting an audience.

For a no-nonsense how-to on CTAslanding pages and more, we recommend taking in a webinar from HubSpot Academy's expert faculty on inbound marketing. Or, even better, contact us here at PROSAR for affordable and comprehensive tools to learn.

Confused about what the conversion process entails, exactly? HubSpot experts have provided the following brief description, which is helpful in breaking down the process:

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Topics: twitter, inbound, social media, marketing, facebook, advertising, content, communication, landing page, ROI, Leads, SEO, CTAs, customers, conversion

2013 Inbound Marketing Highlights

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Jan 9, 2014 2:11:39 PM

So much has changed in the past decade in marketing and advertising  everyone is trying to break through all the noise and leverage the Internet. We're employing less traditional methods of marketing, while #InboundMarketing is rapidly becoming the norm. Even as industry professionals, you can't help but be fascinated at the incredible speed our craft is evolving.

As we turn the page and look to 2014 in anticipation of even more growth and innovation, PROSAR Inbound Inc. would like to invite you to take a moment to reflect on our exciting industry as well as look at some of the most blog-worthy events in the inbound arena in 2013.

HubSpot research tells us that for the third consecutive year in a row, 2013 saw inbound marketers increase their spending by nearly 50%. Inbound participation continues to grow in leaps and bounds as more individuals, organizations and companies join the movement in an effort to garner brand salience in an information-saturated world.

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Topics: hubspot, inbound, social media, marketing, advertising, branding, SEO, prosar

Is your business monitoring its social media as effectively as it could be?

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Dec 19, 2013 10:43:00 PM

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Topics: twitter, hubspot, business, inbound, social media, marketing, monitoring, social media monitoring, facebook, linkedin

Traversing the #Twittersphere

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Dec 15, 2013 1:37:00 PM

While what is 'trending' on Twitter may change daily or even hourly, actively engaging with social media itself is definitely not a fleeting trend.

Do you ever find yourself watching the news, and wonder when reporters suddenly started incorporating actual Tweets into their broadcasts? Or how every company you see is now asking you to 'follow' them? Seemingly overnight, everyone and their grandmother is tweeting — and tweets, evidently, are not only considered newsworthy, but worth your while.

VIrtually everyone is on Twitter, and everything incorporates social media. Unfortunately, convincing some folks to hop on the bandwagon can be challenging. I wouldn't necessarily encourage you to drink the kool-aid and tweet as often as Katy Perry (who currently owns the most followed Twitter account in the world — with over 48 million followers and counting); but as a business, regardless of your service or product, you need to join the club.

I've been guiding an assortment of folks on their journey through the illusive Twittersphere over the past few years — from local bands, to non-profit humanitarian organizations, to Canadian federal departments. Personally, I love Twitter. I'm naturally a very social person, and I like to stay informed and actively participate in what's going on in my networks. That said, this experience is really only a small part of the bigger picture...

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Topics: buyer persona, twitter, hubspot, virtual, business, trends, blogging, communications, inbound, social media, marketing

Getting through to your buyer personas

Posted by Jenn Jefferys

Dec 6, 2013 12:40:00 AM

Frankly, asking ourselves as inbound marketers whether we should "know" our customer or client base, seems like a silly question. Of course we should, right?

As someone who has been marketing in various capacities across private, non-profit and public sectors for several years now, I can tell you that what might seem common sense and second nature to some, is surprisingly challenging for others. 

Some may not be familiar with a certain demographic, others might feel ill-prepared to execute a sales plan, junior marketers could feel out of their element promoting something they're new to. We all come from different backgrounds in the marketing industry, and we all have our own specific skill-sets.

What I am hoping to underscore for all of you today is the necessity to foster a deep and professional understanding of your buyer personas before trying to reach them on any level. HubSpot #inbound marketing software reinforces that determining our buyer personas is imperative in determining your customer base, and ultimately succeeding in selling your product or service.

Most importantly, what exactly is a "buyer persona?"

HubSpot defines them as semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer, based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals - or, semi-fictional characters that represent your dream customers. In HubSpot Academy's buyer personas class, they provide a nifty exemplary buyer persona named "Mary:"

Mary is 42 years old and has a Bachelor of Communications from Syracuse and an MBA from Babson. She is married, has 2 kids, and runs the marketing department at her company. She is an expert at outbound and traditional marketing, with 5-15 years of experience. She worries about her "brand presence" and hired a firm to redesign her website. She outsources a fair amount of activity because she has an easier time getting budget than headcount. Mary craves education; she wants to know the latest in what works in marketing and why she should invest in one area over another. A lot of Mary's job is "keeping things running" - supporting sales, updating the website, generating "more" leads (rarely with a concrete goal in mind). Mary needs a simple, integrated tool that will help her do her job more effectively and also make it easier. If she screws that up, she risks getting yelled at by the sales team and her boss, the CEO. Mary dresses “business casual” and does most of her shopping at Ann Taylor. She uses the web for sharing photos with friends, email communication, and is starting to play around with social media accounts for her company. She uses LinkedIn, Facebook (for family photos), and Twitter (recently got a company account with <100 followers).

There are a plethora of questions we need to identify and answer before we can ensure we're reaching our customer base as broadly and effectively as possible. Simply put, buyer personas help to form a critical foundation for any form of marketing.

Typically, any marketing organization whether big or small, young or seasoned, is going to have more than one buyer persona to address. There are, on average, between 2-5 of these target demographics for every organization. Meaning — not just a "Mary," but possibly a "George" and "Amanda" as well!

And, while the inbound marketing process can be complicated and multi-facted, and require not only your own but your colleagues' collective effort when creating a marketing campaign - none of your campaign (no matter how elaborate) is going to be nearly as effective unless you have first laid the groundwork for determining exactly who you're marketing to.

Blindly diving into this process is not advisable. A wise approach (which we have actually employed ourselves over here at PROSAR Inbound) is to sit down with your staff or marketing team, and take the time to fill out the HubSpot Persona Development Worksheet. You may need to create more than one of these documents in order to cover each of your buyer personas if you market to various demographics.

Once you have all this critical information down on paper, you're going to find it much easier to guide your staff on precisely who they're reaching. Moreover, HubSpot offers a free template on their website entitled the Marketer's Guide to Creating Buyer Personas. You can access this helpful tool by clicking here.

The Buyer Persona Institute from Friday Harbour, WA provides some great resources to help your organization stay on track. Their educational blog features an article on 6 Reasons to Start Using Buyer Personas Now, which you can access here. The article further emphasizes the need to stand out from your competition, and to personify/fully comprehend the people you're marketing to.

Still not feeling confident enough to hash out those personas? I'd be happy to help. You're welcome to follow PROSAR Inbound on Twitter @PROSAR, or shoot us a quick email anytime to marketing@prosar.com, and we'll get right back to you.

Until then — best of luck, fellow inbounders!

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Topics: hubspot, inbound, marketing, advertising, buyer personas, campaign, customer, client, clientele, prosar

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