BitConduite: Visualizing and Analyzing Activity on the Bitcoin Network

BitConduite: Visualizing and Analyzing Activity on the Bitcoin Network

    

BitConduite is a visual analytics tool built to explore the activity of Bitcoin users over long-term periods.

Pseudonymous nature of transactions

With its position as the first and largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin is attracting a plethora of different players among which are investors, governments, economists and researchers from all around the world. Transactions in Bitcoin are stored in an immutable distributed ledger that is accessible to anyone. However, this open data can be challenging to make sense of given its pseudonymous nature. Indeed, while transaction details such as the amount, the time and the sender and receiver addresses are publicly disclosed, no personal information is revealed on the identities of participants. Therefore, this abstract data does not lend itself easily to an exploratory analysis of the network actors. The increasing volume of transactions in Bitcoin is an additional challenge hampering the study of this network.

Analyzing the Bitcoin network

To visualize its billions of transactions, a team of researchers composed of Christoph Kinkeldey, Jean-Daniel Fekete and Petra Isenberg, are developing a tool to identify entities on the network from their public addresses, whether these entities are individuals or organizations. Dubbed “BitConduite,” this tool uses the network’s topology to estimate which addresses may belong to the same entity and classifies them following their activity patterns.

Since Bitcoin is used in diverse ways, from an investment asset to an illegal shopping payment system, the tool would allow us to know more about the main reasons behind Bitcoin use. Furthermore, while many argue Bitcoin is an influencing factor in world events, it is very difficult to assess such hypotheses. In 2012-2013, the financial crisis in Cyprus saw nervous cash-holders invest in Bitcoin to counter their banking system and be able to freely move their assets out of the country. Countries in crisis are no doubt raising the value of Bitcoin, but only a long-term analysis could shed light on the exact role of the cryptocurrency.

How does it work?

To make such an analysis possible, the researchers behind BitConduite extract raw data from the Bitcoin Core client and store it in a MongoDB database. This database is then tailored to visualization by using a column-oriented MonetDB database. Finally, input heuristics are applied to derive entities from pseudonymous addresses and cluster them. Analysts working with this tool can filter out entities with certain attributes, group the similar ones based on the factors of interest and visualize the number and volume of transactions of each cluster on a timeline. The development of the BitConduite tool is an ongoing work and we are very likely to see more analytics tools of this genre created to explore the use of other cryptocurrencies.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

US State of Montana to Fund Local Bitcoin Miner With $416,000 Grant

US State of Montana to Fund Local Bitcoin Miner With $416,000 Grant

    

While Bitcoin’s future may still be uncertain in the United States

as various states aim to regulate the industry, the first state government to take a big leap into Bitcoin is the state of Montana. As part of its efforts to boost local employment, the state has recently allocated public funds to help with a local Bitcoin mining firm project, according to the press release from the Office of Montana Governor, Steve Bullock.

Boosting local jobs

The state has allocated a $1,124,030 mln local job aid package, $416,000 of which was awarded to Missoula County of BSTF Job Creation funds that are backing up a Bitcoin mining firm named Project Spokane, LLC to assist with its expansion plans. This will allow it to create 65 new jobs in the Bonner area. The said BSTF fund will be used to purchase operations equipment, machinery, software as well as wage reimbursement to continue its efforts to expand its operations into Blockchain security services for the Bitcoin network.

Will other states soon follow suit?

Bitcoin is perceived as a long-term opportunity for job seekers and Montana is one of the first states that supported the potential of it. Whether other states eventually follow suit is still a question.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Breaking Film Uses Blockchain Technology to Get Funded

Breaking Film Uses Blockchain Technology to Get Funded

    

The story centers around two self-proclaimed artists,

Petula Thames and Tilda Darlings, who move to NYC to follow their dreams and, unfortunately, become entangled in the world of drug dealing and prostitution. A night comes that they lose $80,000 worth of narcotics and are given 48 hours to repay the hostile drug lord. They plan to rob their wealthy childhood friend, Daphne Peters, which leads them to participate in her twisted and violent make-believe game where the three women venture into a deadly maze of hallucinations, role play, torture and murder.

Beyond traditional funding

Traditionally, filmmakers rely on investments either from well-off Hollywood benefactors or crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo, which promote donation funding. Braid’s production gave birth to this new way of film financing by tying up with ConsenSys and WeiFund, a crowdfunding platform. Braid’s team hopes to raise more money for the production of the film, with its token sale starting June 7, 2017. While most investors are usually focused on returns, which often results in the sacrifice of creative freedom and artistic brilliance of the young directors, independent filmmakers preferably take the other side.

This is possible thanks to open crowdfunding platforms, which in return pay off fans with items such as t-shirts and posters. Sadly, this doesn’t compensate the financial needs of the film. A Kickstarter-funded film can generate millions of dollars, forgetting the profit to be shared with its supporters.

Keeping the vision

Braid’s crowdsale aims to provide an incentive to people by becoming an investor or simply by promoting the film. Braid’s team will return the favor by keeping their creative vision with its film. Braid reveals the power of imagination in making reality an extension of human consciousness. In its ICO, Braid’s team wants to raise between $1.4 mln to $2.1 mln worth of Ether in return for 30 percent of the future revenue. Braid’s message is about turning your dreams into reality. WeiFund is the creative and right platform to make this happen.

Other industries poised to adopt Blockchain technology

The film industry is just one of many industries positively impacted by Blockchain technology. The same technology that powers Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies also have been disrupting industries such as the banking, cyber security, networking, IoT, music, ridesharing, insurance, stock trading, healthcare, energy management, retail, AI, among others.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Blockchain To Change World of Fine Arts As We Know It

Blockchain To Change World of Fine Arts As We Know It

    

Perhaps you have heard of John Myatt,

the famous forger behind the “biggest art fraud of the 20th century.” Myatt recreated over 200 art pieces from famous 19th and 20th-century painters. His fakes were so genuine that auction house experts valued them at enormous prices and buyers were tricked. Such deceptions and sophisticated forgeries are not an isolated case, nor are they decreasing. In fact, 2016 has even been labeled the “year of the fake” for the complex art forgery scandals it brought.

While many consider Blockchain to be a disruptive technology that could have a transformative effect on our global economy, I must at least agree on its versatility. I have yet to find an industry where it won’t have a tremendous impact and the fine art world is also one that could harness Blockchain to solve some of its issues. The actual system of transferring fine art suffers from great opacity that makes it difficult to track provenance and the movement of items. Transaction records are still paper-based most of the time, which exposes them to a plethora of risks – they can be easily lost, destroyed, altered or stolen.

Blockchain to certify provenance and track ownership

This is where Blockchain is particularly fit to solve these issues. As a distributed ledger, it can be used to provide an immutable and censorship-resistant database of ownership. Indeed, many organizations are looking to leverage this technology in issuing certificates of authenticity. One of these organizations is Verisart, which is building a worldwide permanent and decentralized ledger of art and collectibles. Its mobile application can be used by artists to generate a certificate of authenticity, and by collectors to verify provenance in real-time. We previously detailed its ambitions here. Ascribe and Monegraph are other startups that have entered this space. The Berlin-based Ascribe allows artists to generate a certificate of ownership for each one of their creations. Each piece is assigned a unique cryptographic ID from which its complete history can be retrieved.

Artists can then share their work, gain visibility on where it spreads on the Internet and use Blockchain to license it and generate revenues. As for Monegraph, it is also using Blockchain to verify digital assets. Artists can submit the URL of their online creations, and receive a Blockchain key and value to be stored in a Namecoin wallet. Namecoin is an open source decentralized key/value registration and transfer system based on Bitcoin technology. By using this method that looks at art as a digital currency, online artists can store certificates of ownership of their creations. Monegraph, in turn, can spot if an illegitimate person is trying to claim ownership of the same creations in the future.

Proof-of-concept

Besides, Blockchain’s ability to certify provenance has not only attracted new entrepreneurs. Professional services firms, such as Deloitte, have also expressed their interest in the technology. “The Blockchain distributed ledger can trace the journey of artworks. When this technology is used in the art market, all events in the life cycle of an artwork are recorded and traceable. The application addresses one of the main concerns in the art market today, namely the fragile documentation related to the provenance and movements of a piece of art,” explains Patrick Laurent, partner and technology leader at Deloitte Luxembourg. Deloitte has built a platform enabling anyone, from artists to galleries to owners, to access a distributed ledger of the provenance and transportation history of physical art pieces.

Dubbed “ArtTracktive,” this proof-of-concept validates movements on the supply chain through reached consensus, therefore shortcutting the need for a trusted third party. The initiative shows how Blockchain technology can solve the current authenticity and traceability issues in the art world, by recording the full history of an artwork in a secure environment available to all. Although Blockchain technology is still in its early days and business models are still under development, it is very likely that Blockchain will gain momentum among artists who are interested in gaining greater control over their work and being fairly compensated for it.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Bitcoin, Ethereum Price Fall May Not Be Bad Thing For Investors

Bitcoin, Ethereum Price Fall May Not Be Bad Thing For Investors

    

Following the crash of well-known cryptocurrency exchange company

Coinbase, other cryptocurrencies such as Ethereum and Bitcoin have also reacted to the events accordingly. With the technical issues that Coinbase have been encountering with their system, existing users have been panic selling in order to get out as much money as they can. This, in turn, has also affected other cryptocurrencies and pushed them to decrease in value as people are massively selling as a result.

Coinbase opens up opportunities for other platforms

While many investors are not happy with the crash of Coinbase as a result of the Asian frenzy, it could prove a good sign for the cryptocurrency market. Since the increase in the value of the cryptocurrency market, many investors have been putting their money in various other cryptocurrency platforms in order to take advantage of the riding trend. Coinbase also rode along this trend when hundreds of investors decided to try investing in their platform as well.

According to a graph reported by Cryptorial, it can be seen that since early 2016, there has been a sharp increase in the number of Coinbase users, up until after January 2017. This did not bode well for Coinbase as their system could not withstand the significant surge in followers. At the same time, this sign shows how much of a high demand cryptocurrencies have. Although it may look bad at the moment, the cryptocurrency market should experience positive growth in the future due to surging investors.

Buying opportunity a dip

With all the panic selling occurring after the crash of Coinbase, both Ethereum and Bitcoin present an opportunity for other investors to jump in and invest. Earlier this year, Bitcoin reached an all-time high and Ethereum saw steady growth. As reported by a monthly graph by Cryptocurry, it can be seen that after March, the price skyrocketed up sometime in the earlier part of May and went down again. It then slowly regained its momentum but slowly went down. Ethereum, on the other hand, has maintained stability this year and is expected to go up again later in the year. Of course, this only shows a temporary decrease in value for most cryptocurrencies because of the panic selling that is happening due to the crash of Coinbase.

However, this would be a good opportunity for more established cryptocurrency platforms like Ethereum and Bitcoin to get more investors. This is also good for the investors in a sense that even the newer investors can take part in the opportunity of investing in a medium that has a lot of room for growth. It is also an opportunity for Coinbase to improve their system so that they may cater to the number of investors that will be putting their money into cryptocurrencies in the near future when the price goes up. With the price of cryptocurrencies expected to rise by another tenfold this year, it would not be a good idea to sell everything just yet.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
TCC-Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

America’s Cup 2017: Great Britain eliminated by New Zealand

Ben Ainslie's Great Britain are out of the America's Cup after New Zealand earned a 5-2 semi-final win.

americas cup 2017

Leading 3-1 overnight in the best-of-nine contest, New Zealand won the first of Thursday's three scheduled races to take them to the brink.

And although Britain won the next race, New Zealand took the third.

"Three and a half years ago a few of us were sitting around a table in London – what we have we have achieved is incredible," said Ainslie.

"I was really proud of the way the team sailed today. We will be back next time and we will be stronger."

It was a victory to savour for New Zealand after their catamaran capsized during racing in high winds on Tuesday.

After Wednesday's races were postponed because of high winds, New Zealand made a strong comeback to go 4-1 up on Thursday.

Great Britain had a 26-second lead at the first mark before their opponents came back to secure a 31-second victory.

Britain managed to hang on with a near-perfect win in the next race after getting off to a strong start and, this time, maintaining their lead and matching their opponents for speed.

However, New Zealand's class shone through as they put Tuesday's troubles behind them.

"We struggled coming into this with a lack of speed but everyone has dug so deep to get us more competitive," added Ainslie.

The Kiwis will take on Sweden or Japan in the play-off final. Sweden need just one more win after a dramatic comeback.

They trailed Japan 3-1 at the start of the day but won all three races on Thursday to take a 4-3 lead.

Analysis – 'Hugs, tears and cheers'

BBC Sport's Tony Husband in Bermuda:

There were hugs, tears and cheers as Great Britain sailed back into the dockyard for the final time. They were facing up to the realisation that this 21st British challenge for the 'Auld Mug' had gone the same way as the others.

Britain's wait to bring sport's oldest trophy home goes on for at least another two years. Amid the despondency, there was a positive message from Ben Ainslie.

The man on whom so much rested certainly isn't the type to hide. He strode up to BBC Sport to give his first interview, despite the obvious pain that this deeply personal challenge had failed only minutes before.

"We will be back," was the emphatic message. In reality, he had probably known this moment was coming for a while.

Since the high of winning the World Series pre-qualifying event, it's been evident that the British bid was behind its rivals. Boat speed and control was often cited as an issue; practice races hadn't been encouraging.

They were also inconsistent throughout this regatta. Ainslie had proved almost unbeatable in the starts, but too often their rivals would reel them in.

The Kiwis are the strongest challenger, and despite dropping one race to Great Britain on Thursday, they showed no outward scars after Tuesday's dramatic capsize.

The inquest will be thorough and probably painful for Britain, but Ainslie seems far from done with the America's Cup.

What happens next?

Holders Oracle Team USA await the winners of the challenger final in the America's Cup.

The first to seven points wins the America's Cup, or the Auld Mug as the trophy is known, with a possible 13 races to be sailed on 17-18 and 24-27 June.

The America's Cup, the oldest competition in international sport, was first raced in 1851 around the Isle of Wight and has only been won by four nations.

If you believe that my message is worth spreading, please use the share buttons if they show on this page.

Stephen Hodgkiss
Chief Engineer at MarketHive

markethive.com


Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Inbound Marketing Strategies for Your WordPress Directory Website

Inbound Marketing Strategies for Your WordPress Directory Website

    

Once you’ve installed WordPress,

purchased a theme and spent some time getting things set up just the way you like, it’s time to start thinking about marketing. We both know that generating income from your website will require traffic. The question is: What is the easiest way to attract visitors to your website? While there is no tried and true perfect answer, inbound marketing is a great place to start. The ideal inbound marketing tactics will be different for every website. If you understand the different options that are available, you can start putting together some specific ideas — experimenting until you figure out what works best for your business.

Outbound Marketing versus Inbound Marketing

If you’ve been in business long enough, you might remember the days of telemarketing, door knocking, cold email or even delivering thousands of flyers. For the most part, these types of marketing are referred to as outbound or “push” marketing. In essence, you identify your ideal customers and then make every reasonable effort to get in front of them. Right away, you can probably see the challenges created by this type of marketing. Not to say it’s ineffective, but when compared to inbound marketing, outbound definitely feels inferior.

Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is a strategy that focusses on making it easy for people to find your website and learn about what you offer. Inbound marketing sounds appealing, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want an endless stream of potential visitors and customers seeking them out? It almost sounds passive. But don’t mistake inbound marketing as a passive strategy. It still requires a lot of work and ongoing testing if you’re hoping to experience a reasonable level of success.

Typically, inbound marketing focuses on strategies like blogging, search engine optimization, social media, webinars and video — to name a few. The objective being to draw people into your website and eventually convert them into repeat visitors or long terms customers. In this post we’re going to outline 4 specific techniques you can use to build an effective inbound strategy designed to grow your website traffic. Keep in mind that not every one of these techniques will work for everyone. You’ll have to experiment with a variety of different ideas before you find the ones that are most effective for your business.

Content Marketing

Not surprisingly, creating an authoritative and well-trafficked blog is the first strategy that many businesses think of when it comes to inbound marketing. Your directory website should be no different. It doesn’t matter whether you’re creating a local business directory, a travel destination directory or an event directory — content can and should play a key role in your marketing process. We published an article on the importance of creating engaging content which explains how to define your audience and their needs. HubSpot defines content marketing as “a marketing program that centers on creating, publishing and distributing content for your target audience”.

For many businesses, the objective is to attract customers or to sell a product or service. However, when creating content for your directory website, your goal is often to provide engaging content and to create repeat visitors — not necessarily to sell something. With a steady and growing stream of traffic and visitor, you’ll have a lot of options at your fingertips. But without traffic, you’ll find your opportunities extremely limited.

Search Engine Optimization

Now, before you start telling me how SEO is dead (I hear people say all the time), understand that I’m not suggesting anything shady. When it comes to search engine optimization, one of the areas you need to focus on is making sure you on-page SEO is in order — something that is often overlooked or passed over. Yes, keyword research is important for your directory site (we’ll have a post on that coming soon) but when it comes to on-page SEO here are a few of the items that should be in order everytime you click publish:

  • A keyword specific URL
  • Your title should be wrapped in H1 tags
  • Use your keyword in the title
  • Use your keyword in the body of your content
  • Link your content both internally and externally
  • Create a user-friendly meta description
  • Make sure you page loads quickly

Social Media

If you’ve spent any time sitting in a waiting room or riding public transportation lately, you probably already understand why social media is important. Everywhere you look people are attached to their mobile devices and more often than not, they’re spending time on social media platforms. No matter how you slice it, social marketing is a powerful tool. Now, you might be thinking that social platforms are simply a great place to post your content and then move on but it’s more than that. Building an audience on a platform like Facebook gives you an opportunity to interact, engage, share and listen.

As with any inbound strategy, success lies in a targeted approach. If you think you’ll be able to dominate, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and YouTube at the same time, think again. You’re much better off choosing the platform where your target audience spends the most time. Over on Moz as part of their Beginners Guide to Social Media, there is a great chapter that discusses the process of choosing the right social network. Done properly, you’ll find that being active on social platforms is a great way to build a loyal audience as well as drive more traffic to your website.

Video

Video is already playing a huge role in many inbound marketing campaigns and it’s growing quickly. 55% of people watch videos online every day and video accounts for 50% of all mobile traffic (You’ll find more eye-opening statistics over on HighQ). With statistics like these, it shouldn’t take long for you to realize that finding a way to integrate video should be high on your priority list. How about some specific examples of how you could achieve this?

  • Jobs Directory
    Create a series of whiteboard videos that teach people how to put together effective video resumes which increase their odds of landing a dream job. You could even offer a done-for-you video resume service — “send us your raw files. We’ll cut, edit and deliver a seamless video that’ll help you find your dream position”.
  • Business Directory
    Interview the founders of local businesses. Post them “as is” or make the videos part of a detailed business profile.
  • Vacation Rental Directory
    Hire local videographers to film and edit local attractions, hotels, B&B’s and events then post the videos on your youtube channel and on your website.

Inbound Marketing is Critical to the Success of Your WordPress Directory Website

We’ve touched on 4 different ways that you can use inbound marketing to grow the audience for your directory website. As you get started with your inbound marketing, it’s important to realize that not every technique will work well for your business. You might also find that your personality or skillset is more suited to one particular area. Don’t try to master more than one technique at a time, unless you have adequate resources. For example, once you’ve put together a repeatable and scalable plan for content creation, move on to social media. If you find along the way that something isn’t working, either adjust or move on to a different strategy.

Building any successful directory website will require a growing source of traffic and ideally an audience that returns to your site over and over again. The best way to achieve this is by providing valuable content that keeps people engaged and entertained.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Inbound Marketing Strategies

Inbound Marketing Strategies

    

How to generate more qualified leads and turn them into customers

  • Get found
    online by more (and more qualified!) visitors
  • Convert
    more visitors into leads
  • Nurture
    leads with discipline and consistency guiding them down the sales funnel
  • Close
    leads efficiently
  • Make smart marketing investments
    guided by analytics and ROI

The V2 Marketing Communications inbound marketing strategies combine social media marketing, content development, and search marketing (SEO)  into integrated and measurable marketing campaigns for our clients. By nurturing the potential client with worthwhile, inspiring, relevant information and compelling benefits, when they decide to buy, the consumer with whom you have created a relationship will choose you over your competitor. As an internet marketing consultant, our approach focuses on increasing awareness for your brand, generating qualified leads and building customer loyalty. Our job as your marketing agency is to produce results that impact your bottom line.

V2 Marketing Communications Inbound Marketing strategies include:

Overall marketing strategy & content strategy

  • HubSpot website design and integration
  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Content creation and promotion
  • Social media marketing
  • Lead conversion and analysis

How does our Inbound Marketing Consulting team help you attract visitors and turn them into customers?

  • We help you create valuable content
  • We create or optimize web pages, blogs, e-books, videos, PR and social media accounts so that they’re attractive to search crawlers
  • We help promote your content through social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
  • We provide expertise on effective lead nurturing and conversion
  • We help evaluate and continuously update your website (keywords, tags, landing pages, etc.) using the analytical data provided by the HubSpot software
  • We help you become an expert with inbound marketing services, using tools like HubSpot, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: What’s Better for Your Business?

Inbound vs Outbound Marketing:
What's Better for Your Business?

   

The emergence of inbound marketing

in the last decade has created a heated debate in the marketing world – inbound versus outbound marketing; which is better? While we are experts and practitioners of inbound marketing and we have an obvious preference for inbound, we also recognize that outbound still serves an important role in marketing. For some organizations, outbound alone might be the best strategy, and in other cases it might be best to combine inbound and outbound. What we’re here to dive into today, however, is what’s best for your business.

What is Inbound Marketing?

Inbound marketing is a marketing approach adapted to the modern buyer who, on average, does 70% of their research on a product on their own before contacting the company they are researching. Inbound is designed to bring potential customers to your business who are actively in the market. It’s about getting found when they’re looking, rather than forcing your message on people who may or may not be interested. Another way of looking at it is that inbound marketing is designed to better align your organization with the Buyer’s Journey, the natural process a modern buyer goes through when searching for a solution online.

The Buyer’s Journey

  1. Awareness Stage –
    Prospect has a problem they want to solve or an opportunity they want to seize.
  2. Consideration Stage –
    Prospect has researched their problem, understands it, and is aware of potential solutions.
  3. Decision Stage –
    Prospect has narrowed down the products/services and must decide which one to purchase.

As an example, let’s talk about Mary.  Mary owns a company that sells fancy dress socks. Cool, right? Mary is looking understand how she can use different marketing strategies to drive sales for her growing sock business. After reading several marketing blogs on the topic, Mary decides that inbound marketing is the best strategy because she’s looking to invest in long-term revenue growth. In her research, she found several agencies who can help her implement inbound marketing and reached out to a few whose service offering aligned with her needs. Sound familiar? 😉 Typical inbound marketing tactics that help take someone through the buyer’s journey

include:

  • Blogging
  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Content creation
  • Lead magnets
  • SEO

Inbound marketing tactics like these are designed to help prospects discover your business in the early stages of the Buyer’s Journey and to educate them on the benefits of your solution, all while building trust throughout the process.

What is Outbound Marketing?

As opposed to marketing to people who are already looking for a solution like yours, outbound marketing aims at trying to reach as many people as possible, whether or not they are active buyers. In general, outbound marketing tends to market to a larger volume of less-targeted people,

using tactics like:

  • Commercials
  • Pay Per Click ads
  • Print ads
  • Billboards
  • Cold-calling
  • Direct mail

Unlike inbound marketing, outbound normally doesn’t take the Buyer’s Journey into consideration.

Choosing Between Inbound and Outbound

Anyone who says that either inbound or outbound is always superior is giving you a biased answer. To determine which one is best, you have to consider your specific business, audience, and your marketing objectives.

What Makes Inbound the Best?

One of the biggest strengths of inbound marketing is that it is focused on providing value to your prospects. It’s educational and often non-promotional. Since inbound marketing aligns with the Buyer’s Journey, it builds a relationship between your prospects and your brand. This also attracts prospects to your brand at the right time, as opposed to interrupting them at a time when they are NOT in the market for what you offer. For this reason, buyers prefer inbound marketing over outbound marketing. Instead of being annoying, it helps them. The other major strength of inbound marketing is the long-term ROI.

Generally speaking, inbound marketing requires a higher upfront investment and brings slower results for the first several months. However, those initial stages are necessary to build your digital marketing assets, increase your presence online, and rank higher in search engines. Over time, the value of those assets increases at a higher rate than they cost to maintain or improve. Digital assets like blog posts and premium offers can continue to generate leads years after they were originally created without costing an additional penny.

What Makes Outbound the Best?

The biggest strength of outbound marketing is its ability to get in front of a large number of people quickly and build awareness. If done correctly, you can launch an outbound marketing campaign, get seen by millions, and have new customers within a few weeks, however, the results are more dependent on the money you invest. Usually have to spend more to see more results and when you stop spending money, the benefits stop. Unlike inbound, you don’t get many tangible, long-term assets that continue to generate leads with outbound marketing.

Also, outbound marketing tends to be more disliked.  

In fact, entire businesses have been built on the premise of regaining the control that buyers have lost to outbound marketing. Take, for example, Netflix’s attractiveness over TV's advertisement laden programming or the incredible success of AdBlock on the web.  

Determining the Best Fit for Your Business

There are businesses that have found tremendous success by exclusively using inbound marketing or outbound marketing. There are also plenty who have done well by using both. Ultimately, you have to figure out what’s right for your company by considering the following:

Your Market

First, you have to consider who your ideal buyers are and how they normally shop for what you offer. Where do they go to learn more about the types solutions you offer? To get a better idea, take a look at your industry as a whole and your direct competitors. What marketing tactics are most common and seem to be most effective?

Your Goals

What are you trying to achieve? Do you want to build brand awareness? Drive traffic? How many customers are you aiming to get and what’s your timeline for that goal? Inbound marketing is the best long-term strategy, but it’s probably not going to dramatically increase business in the first few months. Outbound marketing, on other hand, can help you get customers in the door quickly, but it comes with diminishing returns. More often than not, the best strategy is to combine a little of both, while taking an inbound approach to both – meaning you are measuring results accurately and you’re aiming for long-term brand-building alongside short-term growth.

Your Brand

Finally, you should consider how the marketing tactics you deploy will affect your brand’s image. Launching an aggressive cold-calling might get some sales upfront, but how will it affect your reputation long-term? You only want to use marketing tactics that your brand can be proud of and that your customers would approve of if they knew how you executed them. More often than not, the truth comes out and it’s incredibly difficult to overcome a bad reputation.

Being More Inbound About Going Outbound

We believe in an inbound-focused approach that also uses outbound marketing when appropriate. This means using outbound tactics to get your company in front of potential buyers, while focusing more on helping than selling upfront. For example, if you sold fancy mens socks, you could run a PPC (pay per click) advertising campaign that promotes a free guide on matching fancy socks to your business attire, instead of promoting the product directly. This works because people are more likely to engage in a brand that helps them understand the buying process, instead of asking simply asking for their money. Or let’s say you were purchasing a booth at a local conference. You could use inbound tactics to gather leads and promote your presence leading up to the event.

Is Inbound or Outbound Better?

Inbound and outbound marketing are two separate approaches that can be used effectively on their own or even together. Each one has its unique set of advantages and disadvantages. Outbound is a better short-term solution with higher long-term costs, while inbound marketing tends to be the better long-term solution with slightly higher short-term costs. The strategy most businesses find most effective is to use both inbound and outbound marketing, while maintaining an inbound approach.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

How To Use Funnels For Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

How To Use Funnels For Your Inbound Marketing Strategy

I de-mystify SEO and online marketing for business owners.

Funnels have been a focal sales strategy for decades, serving as a general model for anyone looking to get the most out of a given lead pool. By breaking down the sales process into a series of steps, starting at the wide end of the funnel and working to the narrower end, salespeople can more effectively target their potential customers and see higher sales growth as a result.

Today, inbound marketing has replaced many businesses’ sales efforts altogether. Instead of hiring a dedicated sales force to sort through leads and juggle them through the stages of a sales funnel, companies are dedicating their resources to building and preserving a highway system that can accommodate multiple inbound streams of web traffic and put them in the best position to eventually convert. Part of that conversion-optimization process depends on a funnel system that can ultimately produce the most qualified pool of potential leads.

The Mouth of the Funnel: Capturing the Most Attention

The widest part of the funnel demands the greatest amount of possible leads to work with, and as a result, you should step up your efforts to appeal to the greatest number of people. Gaining visibility on the web is a somewhat straightforward process, but it does take a significant amount of time—usually on the order of months just to break into the scene.

Most inbound marketers are already using a large-scale strategy to produce this volume of visitors and potential leads. Through content marketing, you’ll build a name for yourself and increase your authority with major search engines, through SEO, you’ll optimize your website for a series of industry- and topic-specific keywords, and through social media, you’ll build and grow a network of followers who read your content and visit your site regularly. The more users you have coming in through the mouth of the funnel, the more users you’ll eventually have coming out the more relevant, narrow end. Pay attention to your key demographics at this stage, but don’t try to sort your leads; let your automated funneling tactics do that work for you.

The Middle of the Funnel: Filtering the Most Relevant Audience

The middle of the funnel is responsible for sorting through the first stream of leads and filtering out some of the less-relevant audience members. For example, if a pet supplier is looking to sell cat-specific products, it might want to filter out all exclusive dog owners and instead focus on the cat owning portions of its inbound audience.

This stage of the funnel requires attention and setup, but once in place it should be fairly effective at filtering out your inbound leads. Traditional means of middle-funnel sorting might require individual contact, lead by lead, while the automated means creates a situation that naturally predisposes your different audience segments to behave in specific ways. Here, you won’t necessarily be focused on volume. The success of the middle portion of your funnel is dependent on how successful it is at filtering out the audience segment you have intended to filter out. You’ll need to run occasional diagnostics to ensure its effectiveness and make tweaks if necessary.

The End of the Funnel: Appealing to the Most Interested Leads

At the end of the funnel, you’ll introduce your now highly-qualified leads to a purchase (or simply a conversion opportunity) they may be interested in. At this point, your lead pool should consist exclusively of your specific target demographics, and as a result, your potential to achieve conversion should be much higher than through an ordinary system. In order to be successful, the end of your funnel must be compelling. Even the most qualified leads won’t convert if they’re not interested in what your selling. That means you’ll need to step up your efforts in terms of design, copy, and value if you want your audience to have the highest propensity to convert.

Using Content as a Funnel

Content is going to serve as the best and easiest funneling system for your campaign. It provides an excellent introductory mouth, since it will generate large volumes of traffic from increased search engine rankings and returning readers, but more importantly it will give you the opportunity to easily filter your audience through topics and suggestions. For example, if you’re a pet supplier and you’re looking to focus on cat owners for a specific campaign, you can use cat-related content as an introductory means to filter your audience. Exclusive dog owners likely wouldn’t click on your cat-focused article, so you can be assured that your primary reading audience for these articles falls within your demographic specifications. Your demographic needs may be more complicated than this, but you can use the same principles to write appropriate content for each segment of your audience.

Once you’ve got your topics in place, you can use helpful leads in the middle or near the end of your articles to guide your leads to relevant places. For example, if you’re trying to appeal to cat owners who are concerned about the dental hygiene of their cat, you can link to cat dental health articles, resources where people can learn more about feline dental health, or if you’re ready to end the funnel, your feline dental health product directly.

Using Landing Pages as Funnels

You can also set up landing pages to do the funneling work on your behalf. Rather than simply producing a line of content to be syndicated and eventually discovered, you’ll be pouring leads to your landing pages and letting the rest take care of itself. For example, you could set up four separate landing pages (each intended for a different segment of your audience), and use careful wording to syndicate appropriate links to those landing pages on social media or through a paid advertising program. Your landing pages could ask your users for some basic information—such as name and age—if you wanted to funnel your leads further, but the fewer steps your leads have to go through, the better. Instead, try to use your landing pages to qualify your inbound leads on their own, and then direct them to the appropriate funnel ending.

Make an Offer

Once you’ve got your highly-qualified lead pool confronted with an opportunity for conversion, you’ll need to finalize the deal. The best way to do this, especially for B2B companies, is to make a valuable offer. Most people won’t hand over their personal information voluntarily, so you can offer something worthwhile—such as a whitepaper or a research report—in exchange for that information. If you’re offering something more tangible, like a product, you can use testimonials or persuasive copy to increase the perceived value of the item you’re selling. The point is to make the deal as valuable to the user as possible—this will ensure that the greatest number of filtered leads end up converting at the end of your funnel.

Creating a funnel that can complement and enhance your current inbound marketing efforts should increase your total number of eventual conversions and thus, your total ROI. By using automated funnels instead of a manual step-by-step sales procedure, you’ll save yourself the time and stress of the procedural formality, and your potential leads will

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about –
Inbound Marketing.

Alan Zibluk Market Hive Founding Member

Be As You Are ….