Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Look Where You've Taken Us!

Having launched the new Spoke nearly 15 months ago, we wanted to share some exciting trends. is now performing at scale:  our database is edited constantly, having received more than 330,000 edits, and has been visited more than 35 million times.  Also our contribution community has grown to more than 40,000 users who have each contributed 5 edits on average.

And our user growth trend is accelerating:
-It took us 10 months to enroll our first 20,000 users
-It only took 5 months to gain our next 20,000 users

When our members are on the site, they view an average of 17 pages per visit, and stay on the site for about 20 minutes -- and our bounce rate is close to zero.  Our beta users spend even more time on the site:  30 pages and 45 minutes per visit.  In fact, Spokestaff members are only averaging 53 minutes per visit --  and I'm sure Philippe is going to point this out and encourage us to spend more time on Spoke so as not to be overtaken!

We are really excited by what we are seeing, and we hope you are too; because not only is this a signal of accelerating interest in the platform, it's a sign that more and more people are no longer satisfied with today's information inefficiencies.  High-performing people don't want to spend hours every day looking for information. They want it all in one place and organized in a way that is very easy to consume, so they can develop insights faster.  As a result, more and more people are learning to use Spoke to break the old news cycle -- by following the companies and people that are relevant to their work, and allowing us to track new information for you, and tell you when something happens that is important.  So ...

And if you want to contribute information to the system, feel free to do so. Each of us has already contributed more than 5 edits and if you do, we can increase our average contributions even further.

And watch close for more Spoke news.  We're getting ready to release a powerful new feature set that will make your information consumption even more streamlined.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

'Cold Calling' Shows Little Signs of Life

This is a guest-article by Dan Stepel, prominent Spoke member and expert in the areas of B2B Sales and International Business.  You can learn more by following him on Twitter.  

A few years ago, I noticed whispers beginning to surface among salespeople that “cold calling is dead”.  And while I am not prepared to claim that the value of cold calling has completely died off, I can assure you it's on life support.  And all but those true direct marketers will happily dance on its grave.
Cause of Death  

This day in age, blindly calling upon a prospect is unnecessary at best, and a sign of unpreparedness at worst.  

With the depths of the internet, we have more information at our disposal that we could ever want, even while sitting in the back of a cab or at 32,000 feet in the air.  You could land in a strange new country tomorrow morning, and with a quick post or tweet you could be blasted by friends and connections with insider tips.  And it doesn't take a very deep network to produce quality local information, insight, and even new local connections.  So what does this have to do with the death of cold calling?

Local knowledge and connections give you the edge.  The same is true in sales.

While I will rarely (or never) know the decision maker at a prospective company, there is a very good chance that with a small amount of tact, I can leverage my network to build a tunnel to someone within, or adjacent to that company.  It takes an understanding of my social networks, but more importantly, an ability to new and open information platforms on top of them -- this is the secret sauce, and exactly where a tool like comes in.  By following a strategic set of companies, people, and topics on Spoke, I can know--effortlessly--what is going on with and around a potential prospect.  This is automatically delivered through press releases, industry bloggers, financial publications, etc. and if I couple that intelligence with my own personal network, I find out how to reach the company directly, one of the company's partners/suppliers/etc, someone influential within the company's region, or within the company's primary industry verticals.  This tiny bit of Creativity is worth its weight in Sales gold. 

Welcome to the next generation of sales intelligence.  It's time to get creative, and piece new, advanced (and free) information tools into your arsenal. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Your Inbox is Getting a Lot More Powerful

Are you interested in being able to follow your partners, customers, and competitors in one concise information stream when it's new and relevant, instead of finding out after the fact? is here to help!

This morning, we've overhauled the content and look of the emails to bring you much deeper insight. Instead of merely telling you "hey, this company that you care about just issued a critical new press release," we now deliver the title and info straight to your inbox, and it links directly to the press release or article! And that's only one example.

Here's a visual of how these will now look:

If you want to start receiving these notices, simply Login to Spoke and Follow pages (companies, people, and topics) that are important to you. Read this short article for a quick overview on How to Follow.

Much more to come, and as always let us know if you have any questions!

Kindest Regards,

Matt Maurer
Community Manager
Matt's Spoke Page

Monday, February 4, 2013

The 7 Things You Really Need to Change with your Online Marketing in 2013

This is a guest-article series by Rebecca Haden, digital marketing guru and owner of Haden Interactive.

There are 7 Things You Need to Change in Online Marketing for 2013

There are plenty of articles out discussing how online marketing has changed, what you need to do differently this year, and so on. We think we can save you some time with our list of the seven things you really need to change (if you haven’t already).

1. Step out of your time machine. If you’re still worrying about keyword density, hits, and rank checks, you’re worrying about the wrong things. Today’s more sophisticated search engines put all their effort into providing the best experience they can to users. That means you should shift your efforts from tips and tricks to providing great content and a great experience for your visitors. If your website is already perfect, step outside it and create great content elsewhere, then use Spoke to aggregate that content where prospective partners and customers can see it.

2. Think inbound. Inbound marketing – making sure you have things that are entertaining and/or useful enough to draw people to you – is a lot more appealing to your potential customers now than outbound marketing. Your target market is willing to put a lot of energy into avoiding ads and commercials, and they also want to be able to find what they want as soon as they want it. SEO in 2013 is about being easily found when your prospect is ready, not about pushing yourself in front of lots of eyeballs.

3. Notice – don’t obsess over – algorithm changes. Search engines like Google and Bing change their algorithms frequently. The two big Google algorithm changes people have been talking about most are Panda, which cracked down on poor quality and duplicate content, and Penguin, which cracked down on poor quality link building. Notice the “cracked down” part. Poor content and sneaky link building were never a good idea-- they’re just much harder to get away with now. Use high quality sites like as part of your overall content marketing and linkbuilding strategy.

4. Keep up with the new tools. While algorithm changes can create problems, especially if you’ve been stuck in that time machine or sailing near the wind (to mix metaphors), missing new tools means missing opportunities. Social media tools that let you manage your various profiles more efficiently, reputation management tools like Spoke, and collaboration tools all can help you extend and strengthen your online presence.

5. Focus on conversion. In the early days of the internet, there was less competition and search engines were not as smart. Simply having a website gave you a great advantage over most physical-world competitors. Now, you probably have plenty of competition and your visitors have plenty of choices. Getting people to your website now requires a lot more effort, both on your site and in social media, than it used to. It makes more sense than ever to work on improving your conversion rates, not just your traffic.

6. Get mobile. The proportion of web visitors using mobile devices is increasing at a startling rate. Are you keeping up? Your website needs to look good on phones and tablets, but you should also check the user experience on mobile devices. Can your visitors easily accomplish their goals – and yours? Check things like your newsletter sign up form, your social media “Follow” and “Like” buttons, and any quote request or appointment setting tools.

7. Use your data. Big Data is big news, and you can get some of the benefits even if you’re a small company or private practice. Free services like Google Analytics let you capture an amazing amount of data about your website visitors. Facebook Insights is another valuable source of feedback on your online presence. This is also the perfect year to start A/B testing. Web content, email marketing, and SEO strategy should be based on data, not on gut feelings.

There are lots of frills and flourishes you can add if you are already doing all these things (microdata, anyone?), but these are the basics that will make the most difference for you in 2013.