The business climate has been great for locally owned and operated businesses for the last several years. Many people feel a renewed sense of community. Supporting local small businesses is the perfect way to start loving where you live!
From restaurants and breweries to manufacturers and industrial facilities, local businesses are booming and they all have one thing in common: they need a well-designed website to stand out, search engine optimization to be found, and a social media strategy that will help them engage with the local market. That’s where your friendly neighborhood local web design and marketing firms like ITD Interactive come in!
Local Web Designers Understand Your Market and Customers
We understand your market because we are your market! We spend a lot of time examining and researching the local market for the same reason any local business does: to look for ways to expand our reach and find new customers. A local design firm will have a better understanding of how to reach local customers than a group from hundreds of miles away who may have never even stepped foot in your market before.
Here at ITD Interactive we always try to support our local businesses in the Tri-Cities. There’s no better way to understand how to reach customers of a business than to be a customer of that business yourself.
Local Web Designers Are a Part of Your Local Network
Since we all work in the same business community, there’s a good chance that we’ll know more than a few of the same people. This is a perfect opportunity to get real-world reviews. Just ask someone you know who’s worked with us! Every local business owner knows there’s no advertising better than good word-of-mouth. Take a look at our portfolio and testimonials to get an idea of who we’ve worked with.
Local Web Designers Are a Phone Call or Quick Trip Across Town Away
A quick Google search is all it takes to know there are a lot of options out there when it comes to building a website. There are definitely a lot of talented designers in the field. But there’s always a catch! If you’re a small business owner in Johnson City, TN and decide to go with a web design firm in Chicago or even somewhere a little closer like Asheville to build your site, you’ll always be working around their schedule. Designers in other cities often have a lot of local clients. They may even be in another time zone or work a totally different schedule. It may be difficult to get them on the phone if you have questions about your website or if your site is down and need to get it back up as soon as possible so you don’t lose any business.
ITD Interactive is a Proud Local Johnson City, TN Web Design Agency!
ITD Interactive is a local web site design firm. That means we’re within miles of any business in Johnson City and a short trip from Bristol, Kingsport, and the rest of the Tri-Cities area. We’re in the office normal hours every weekday and will respond to you within a business day if we happen to miss your call. When you need to see how something works you can drop by our office any time for a hands-on tutorial. If you’re lucky you’ll be here on a day that JC brings in her famous chocolate-chip cookies – we’re happy to share if there are any left!
If you’re in the Tri-Cities and are ready to see the difference in working with local, personable web designers drop us a line and let’s get to work!
Unless you are new to the world of Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation – you have no doubt heard of Hubspot. You might have even seen a demo or viewed a webinar. Speaking from personal experience as former Certified Partners, Hubspot is the cream of the crop. They offer an incredible array of features and insight into your visitors. There’s just one problem – not everyone can afford the price tag! The entry level packages start at $200/month, but in order to get the most popular features, you are looking at $800-$1000/mo for a minimum number of contacts. One of the main reasons Hubspot is so expensive is that they cover so many things on their platform. Email, Contact Lists, Lead scoring, Content Management, Social Publishing, SEO Analysis, etc.
So What are some Hubspot Alternatives?
One thing we found when we used Hubspot was that being a WordPress user, we weren’t taking advantage of a lot of Hubspots features – but we were sure paying for them!. So, as much as we loved Hubspot, we decided to take the time to find alternatives that would cost much less, while offering the same results. We get a lot of questions about hubspot alternatives and decided to write this post to cover some of our favorites. We hope you will find them useful as well!
Hatchbuck – Marketing Automation
Hatchbuck, which starts at $99/mo, is the most full-featured of the products we chose to facilitate our marketing automation. Hatchbuck’s standard features include: contact management, lead scoring, form generation & conversion tracking, CRM, email creation. and mass-email service. In a nutshell – Hatchbuck serves as the core of our marketing automation system. It handles our marketing emails, automated drip email campaigns, and more. Hatchbuck keeps track of each visitors activities on our site and wraps it all up in an easy to use contact management interface. All in all – we couldn’t be happier with Hatchbuck.
WordPress – Content Management
One big criticism many have of Hubspot is their content management system. It isn’t that their CMS is bad, to the contrary, it is a very robust CMS. The bigger issue is that there are so many great CMSs out there – why would you want to reinvent the wheel? There is also the risk of something happening to Hubspot, and your site data is locked in a proprietary CMS that you do not host. We have long been fans of WordPress for its ease of use and for the fact we can make a WordPress site look any way we wish. It is a great platform for Content Marketing and is very SEO friendly. Best of all – WordPress is absolutely free! Wordpress is by far the most popular CMS out there (in terms of installations, not personal opinion here). It is also completely open-source and non-proprietary, meaning you can take your site anywhere.
Gravity Forms – Lead Generation
First of all, Hatchbuck lets you build forms and embed them in WordPress. However, there are times we would rather control that process entirely on the website. Gravity Forms makes it quite easy to set up a landing page form with downloadable content hidden behind a form. Gravity forms is inexpensive ($39 for a single site license), and allows the user to create practically any type of form imaginable. With their free addons, there is virtually no limit to what you can build. Order forms, surveys, quizes, and of course – general contact forms. One of the best things about Gravity Forms is the flexible confirmation and notification options. You can develop custom notifications based on conditional logic. For instance – you might have the user choose “general contact” or “technical support” when they fill out the form, and you could display a custom notification based on the choices they make. These notifications can be used to deliver whitepapers, ebooks, etc.
Lead In – Lead Intelligence
Lead-in is a plugin for WordPress that was actually developed by Hubspot. The idea was simple – to bring Hubspot-level visitor intelligence to WordPress, and NOT charge for it. Lead In is a free plugin that offers a lot of additional functionality through “Power-Ups”. Power-Ups include specialty stats, connectors for popular email services, pop-up forms and more. Out of the box, Lead In pulls in a good bit of detail about a visitor, once they have filled out a form. It tracks return visits, gives you detailed drill-down paths so you can study their behavior, and much more. Lead In can often get the users company name and information, size and even social profiles, making it easy to get some background information on a lead before you reach out to them.
Mailchimp – Email Marketing
Personally, we route all of our email through Hatchbuck. However, we have a lot of clients that don’t need that level of marketing automation such as drip campaigns, etc. For those situations, it is hard to beat Mailchimp. For the record, you can actually set up drip campaigns in Mailchimp – however, if you plan on doing that a lot, you need to look at a system designed for that sort of activity. At its core, Mailchimp provides a fantastic interface for creating and designing emails, managing your contact lists, and sending out mass marketing emails. Mailchimp is free as long as your contact list stays under 2000 members (and you don’t mind the little monkey at the bottom of your emails). When it becomes time to pay for your account, it starts out at $20-$30 per month. Very reasonable!
A Final Thought…
This is certainly not an exhausting list of Hubspot Alternatives – if you are truly interested in apples-to-apples competitors of Hubspot, there are a few out there. Google “marketing automation” and you will find a slew of products that fill this space. Be warned though, many are equally expensive and some are even more! If you have that kind of budget, you can’t go wrong with Hubspot. For start-ups and small businesses, however, part of being a nimble and adaptive business is diversifying your tool-set. Don’t put all your eggs (data) in one basket. With the tools we mentioned above, you can put together a customized marketing automation suite that does just what you need.
Need Help with Marketing Automation, Inbound Marketing or SEO?
ITD Interactive is a full-service digital marketing agency. From website and eCommerce development to full-scale inbound marketing and SEO services, we help businesses, large and small, increase their exposure online and generate more leads. We have services available for all sizes of businesses and budgets. Click on the link below to find out more!
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If you read our recent post Updating A Website: 23 Detailed Ideas, you noticed one great way to increase conversions on your site is to add “Calls To Action” (#19).
A Call-To-Action (CTA) is a link in the form of a prominent visual with action words. They usually come in the form of a button.
It is a good idea to go through your website periodically and add CTAs. You want to make it very obvious to the viewer what it is that you want her to do.
OK, that sounds like it might work, but does it really get more “conversions”? Do more people actually click on CTAs than regular hypertext links?
Measuring The Impact Of Calls To Action
We recently made some changes to one of our most popular blog posts outlining HubSpot alternatives.
We measured the clicks on the links to Hatchbuck and combined that with the actual traffic the page got over a month and a half to get the Click-Thru-Rate for each type of link.
The first three weeks we just used a regular old hyperlink — “Hatcbuck”– in the body text of the blog post. The second three weeks we removed the regular link and added two hyperlinks with action text — “Check Out Hatchbuck Now”. The last three weeks we changed the two hyperlinks to CTAs.
Here is the final version of the CTA . . .
And the results.
This post is about growing your subscriber base and making the world a better place at the same time. I promise. But I’m going to start off in a weird place and bring you around to it.
Bare (spelling intentional) with me.
Did you know that Winston Churchill slept naked? If you have an active imagination, I suggest keeping the covers on him.
Did you know that he started off his day by reading newspapers for two hours in his bed? Don’t worry. By now, he’s had a bath and is wearing a blue velvet dressing gown. Feel free to remove the covers.
You can pull both of those tidbits out at the next office party, but only one is relevant to this post. Five gold stars if you guess which is which.
I think the world would be a better place if there were more Churchills in it. I’m referring to his active, prioritized content consumption, not his sleeping habits. Hope you’re reading this, Dad.
As content creators, we want people to be able to consume our content efficiently and regularly. I’ve noticed a lot of big brands and inbound marketing firms are pushing email subscriptions hard. But is that the best thing for the subscriber? Most inboxes are out of control and we’re just adding to that craziness when we presume that our content needs to be there right next to the urgent email from the boss.
Did you know that Churchill handled correspondence AFTER he poured through the newspapers? Yep. After his two hours with the papers, he started replying to mail.
He had separation between content consumption and correspondence. He put content consumption first and that’s not a bad idea. We’re not doing our readers any favors by mixing the two. They’ll eventually get tired of it.
On Inefficiency & Inbox Pit Bulls
“But social media is volatile and tricky, so email is the best option, right?”
This is how it usually goes for me: I tend to get excited about a site and I subscribe by email. I read the first few emails, then lose interest or they misfire with something that doesn’t interest me. I bail.
I guard my inbox like a pit bull. I am a ruthless unsubscriber, an accomplished opt-out-er.
Facebook jerks companies around and Twitter may be the most inefficient tool ever hatched from the bespeckled shell of the human mind. See what I did with Twitter’s bird and the shell analogy? Didn’t want that to fly by without you noticing. Winston would be so proud he’d have goose bumps all over his (thankfully) velvet-robed body.
So, we’re stuck, aren’t we? Not quite.
I happen to know these regrettably unforgettable facts about Churchill because of Feedly, an elegant RSS reader. When Google Reader went down a couple of years ago, I switched to Feedly to subscribe to marketing blogs, Johnson City news, lifestyle & worldview sites, Georgia Bulldogs news, and more. The Churchill trivia was included in a post on The Art Of Manliness which is in my lifestyle section on Feedly. Check out The Churchill School Of Adulthood – Lesson 2: Establish A Daily Routine.
I add to my Feedly feed and edit it regularly. It is now my favorite place on the web. It’s a thing of beauty. It really is a pleasing presentation with useful controls. My morning routine includes a few minutes with Feedly as soon as I get to the office.
Giving RSS CPR
So how do you go about promoting RSS subscriptions through a site like Feedly?
You provide it as an option right beside email and social media subscriptions. Create a Landing Page which explains a little about Feedly with a link to the site, add a Call To Action to your sidebar with a link to the landing page, and you’re in business.
And you can go a step further. We recently posted an infographic featuring writing style stats from some great marketing bloggers. In the post, we created a downloadable OPML file that included subscriptions to those bloggers and our blog, and suggested that readers upload it to Feedly.
People won’t use Feedly if they don’t get a good base of subscriptions to look through, right from the start. By creating a subscription file which includes ours and lots of other blogs, we get folks off on the right foot.
Let’s be honest. Email is intrusive and social media is inefficient. Feedly is a better option for long-term content consumption. Let’s get folks who already use Feedly to subscribe to us, and get new folks hooked on it. Your fans will love you for the content you create and for getting them hooked on a great tool. The world will be a better place.
If Churchill were still alive (and clothed, you’re welcome), he would add one more word to his famous quote.
“Never, never, never give up Feedly.”
Here’s a little secret. The price of your product or service is probably already out there.
It’s a fact with which few in the business, and especially sales, world are not comfortable. For most of us, we set a price on our product or service that is indicative of the value we bring to the lives of those who will purchase it.
We can make their lives easier, better, more enjoyable, etc. And we put a price on our widget/service that matches that confidence.
But apprehension talks to us. It whispers in our ear.
“If you throw your price out there, you’ll lose business. You’ll scare people away who might become customers. Your leads will dry up.”
But leads don’t pay your bills, clients do. And the time you spent on unqualified leads could have been time spent taking care of existing customers, or nurturing qualified leads, or building content that draws in qualified leads. (more…)