How to Calculate Your Lead Generation Goals [Free Calculator]

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To hit revenue and growth goals, your company needs customers. To get customers in an inbound world, your marketing team is responsible for generating leads and funneling them over to your sales team. The question is … how many leads?

When your boss asks you what your lead goal is, don’t just pull an answer out of thin air. Your projections need to be based on math and rooted in your company’s larger goals. That’s where our new lead goal calculator comes in.

To make it easier for marketers like you to set your lead goals for the month, we created a calculator template in Google Sheets and Excel that will calculate exactly how many leads your inbound marketing efforts need to drive each month for your sales organization to hit their numbers and your company to meet its growth goals. With just a few quick inputs, like monthly revenue goal and average deal size, this template will do all the math for you.

You can download the Lead Goal Calculator here. It’ll help you:

Calculate the number of leads you need to hit your revenue goals.
Measure current sales close rates.
Assign dollar values to each of your major lead sources.
Track monthly lead generation by channel.
Commit to a monthly lead goal.

You can also use this template to experiment. For example, try changing the conversion rates and just see how your lead goals go down or up accordingly.

Ready to start calculating your lead goals for next month? Download our Lead Goal Calculator today.

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How a new AI powered search engine is changing how neuroscientists do research

When you think of artificial intelligence, images of futuristic robots or memories of bad sci-fi films might come to mind. However, the reality of AI is actually a lot more tame: a friendly search engine, for instance.

But while we type our queries into Google and usually get fairly useful results, the same has not always been true for the information gleaned by scientific researchers.

Although existing resources like Google Scholar and PubMed provide scientists with resources much faster than the methods of old, they don’t always cover the nitty-gritty details that are needed.

Now, a new, free search engine called Semantic Scholar is using AI technology to help these scientists find relevant information much more quickly.

Semantic Scholar has been labeled a game-changer for these professionals, who previously had no way of effectively combing through mountains of dense research. While Google Scholar has a huge database – it has indexed more than 200 million articles to date – it’s lacking in terms of providing access to metadata.

It can help scientists find studies, but it won’t tell them how often a paper or author has been cited. Essentially, it can make a scientist’s job even more difficult because the research tool they’re using isn’t comprehensive.

But Semantic Scholar is different. Developed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in conjunction with his non-profit organization, the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, Semantic Scholar first launched last November. Known as AI2, the non-profit built the engine in collaboration with Allen’s other research organization, the Allen Institute for Brain Science.

Originally launched as a research tool for computer science, Semantic Scholar’s real appeal is its AI-based design.

Instead of simply listing a study’s abstract and bibliographic data, this new search engine is actually able to think and analyze a study’s worth. GeekWire notes that, “Semantic Scholar uses data mining, natural language processing, and computer vision to identify and present key elements from research papers.”

The engine is able to understand when a paper is referencing its own study or results from another source. Semantic Scholar can then identify important details, pull figures, and compare one study to thousands of other articles within one field.

So why is Semantic Scholar a better option?

“Medical breakthroughs should not be hindered by the cumbersome process of searching the scientific literature,” Allen stated in a press release. “My vision for Semantic Scholar is to give researchers more powerful tools to comb through millions to academic papers online, to help them keep up with the explosive growth of science.”

As it stands now, scientists can use other search engine databases as a jumping-off point, but what they find often requires additional research.

The results don’t give the full picture of a study, its variables, or the overall impact. The CEO of AI2, Oren Etzioni, notes that the current options can result in too much information with no real ranking method.

“If you’re dealing with information overload, you want these things to help you cut through the clutter, [and] slice and dice the results.”

Because the search engine uses natural language, it’s able to think and make judgments about which studies are most relevant to a given search.

TechCrunch notes that “it can make intelligent judgements on … which related or cited papers are most relevant, or what other work the current paper has helped lead to… Results are fast, relevant, and easily sorted or drilled down into. For a scientist who frequently consults such articles, this is a huge advance.”

What does this mean for Google Scholar?

AI2 doesn’t want to compete with Google; that would be a fool’s errand, says Etzioni. They just want to provide a better option. “Our goal is to raise the bar” by providing scientists with more effective options to conduct their research, he says.

In fact, many scientists are planning to use both engines to conduct their research, in part because the current state of Semantic Scholar is somewhat limited in comparison to more established engines.

In addition to computer science, Semantic Scholar now covers the neuroscience field and is able to search 10 million published papers. While that sounds impressive, it pales in comparison to Google Scholar’s current database.

The future of Semantic Scholar

Despite its shortcomings, industry professionals see huge potential in Semantic Scholar. Not only is the engine free of charge, but due to its design, it’s more powerful and thorough than other available options.

Developers have already expanded its territory to the biomedical and neuroscience fields, and they intend to keep growing.

Etzioni says that the engine could eventually become a hypothesis engine, guiding scientists to look at the bigger picture or to view a problem from a different angle.

In so doing, it could act like a department head who points out when a method was previously effective, or an area that has remained untested. It could help give scientists direction and result in better quality research.

And even though the engine is still being developed, it’s already been quite successful. Since Semantic Scholar was first launched, 2.5 million people have used the service and have performed millions of searches.

It may still have a long way to go as far as indexing, but the institute hopes to fully expand the engine’s biomedical research library by the end of 2017. By putting AI at the service of the scientific community, Semantic Scholar ensures that only the best and most relevant studies are used. This will, in turn, lead to higher quality and more advanced research — a concept that stands to benefit everyone.

6 Phrases that Kill Your Credibility with Clients

Establishing credibility isn’t just about asserting your intelligence or expertise.

Real credibility comes from a careful balance of trust, empathy, and good judgment. And it needs to be attentively nurtured throughout your client relationships.

To help you avoid unintentionally damaging your credibility, we’ve compiled a list of six seemingly harmless phrases that can undermine your credibility and communicate to the client that you aren’t fully on their team. Are you guilty of using any of these?

6 Phrases that Kill Your Credibility with Clients
1) “This tactic is guaranteed to boost your conversion rate by 60%.”

Avoid exaggerating or overselling the successes of your services — your clients can smell insincerity a mile away, and it’s sure to turn them off. Presenting them with inflated numbers or unrealistic claims won’t boost your credibility, it will make them question whether you can provide any honest value to their business.

Remember: there’s confidence, and then there’s just plain bragging. Your clients only care about your past successes in the context of how they can directly provide value now, so avoid reading off a laundry list of accomplishments or stats. It can come across as self-serving and out of touch with the client’s specific needs.

Even if you’re not overtly exaggerating, be sure to cut out lofty words like “guaranteed,” or “absolutely.” These can come across as deceptive and pushy, and fail to communicate what your agency can actually do.

Focus on explaining the genuine value of your agency’s services. If you highlight a few proven strengths, rather than a showy list of claims, your client will be more likely trust your expertise.

2) “Sorry I couldn’t get that to you by Wednesday — something came up.”

When your actions don’t align with your words, you end up falling into what Prasad Kaipa calls a “Credibility Gap.”

Avoiding the Credibility Gap starts with setting realistic expectations and time lines on projects, and keeping an open line of communication to alert your clients if anything goes wrong or takes an unexpected turn.

Kaipa explains to Harvard Business Review that the best way to set realistic expectations is to be more aware of what you’re promising. He recommends checking in with yourself regularly and asking, “Am I saying something that implies a promise? What are the odds I can or will actually follow through? How can I articulate my ideas and concerns in such a way as to not raise false expectations?”

If you realize too late that a deadline isn’t feasible, don’t freak out. It’s not unusual for unanticipated issues to arise during the course of a project, but as long as you remain transparent and clearly communicate the issues to your clients, your credibility isn’t likely to suffer.

3) “We call this marketing approach ‘Infrared Magical Marketing Synthesis,’ or IMMS.”

Credibility requires clear and accessible communication, and nothing undermines this more than an overuse of jargon or acronyms. Overcomplicated words and insider phrases don’t help you connect with your client — they create barriers.

People often unknowingly fall back on jargon when they want to sound clever or informed, but in reality, it can end up hurting your credibility much more than it helps.

When you rely too heavily on jargon to convey information, it can diminish the meaning of your message and cause unnecessary confusion. Even worse, it has the potential to isolate your client and make them feel like an outsider in your discussions. Using too much jargon can also come across as evasive — like you’re unwilling or incapable of giving clients a simple, straightforward answer.

Before meeting with a client, comb through your presentation and eliminate any jargon-heavy words or acronyms that don’t actively contribute to your message. Your clients will appreciate the directness of your communication style, and will likely be more receptive to what you have to say.

4) “Although the numbers look bad now, this tactic has actually worked for many of our other clients.”

Ignoring or glossing over factual evidence in favor of selective, anecdotal evidence isn’t just a rhetorical fallacy, it’s also a major credibility killer.

The client hired you because you have expertise they think can benefit their business, and that means admitting when an approach isn’t performing as well as planned and pivoting towards something with more potential. When you scrounge around for evidence that supports a not-so-great approach as a way to salvage it, you end up falling victim to confirmation bias.

Confirmation bias occurs when you interpret all evidence — even ambiguous or anecdotal evidence — as confirmation of your preexisting beliefs. This can cause you to problematically overlook alternative possibilities that could benefit the client more than the current approach. In other words, you get so focused on pushing a particular strategy that you fail to see any real evidence against it.

The best way to avoid confirmation bias and keep your credibility intact is to focus on new evidence as objectively as possible, and prove the value of your work through clear reporting. If you’re scrambling to justify a particular tactic, it’s might be time to let it go, rather than damage your credibility attempting to defend it.

5) “I just don’t think that approach is going to work.”

Anyone who’s ever worked in a people-facing role knows how challenging it can be to always see eye-to-eye with clients — especially when you feel like you’re caught in a cycle of endless revisions that never seem to make them happy. You want to make sure your professional opinion is properly asserted, but it’s important to know when to step back defer to your client’s judgment.

If you get in the habit of shooting down your client’s input or ideas, they’ll start to think you haven’t taken the time to fully consider their point of view. Pushing back without proper justification can make you seem reactive and unthoughtful — and that undermines your credibility.

One of the best ways to establish your expertise and make your client feel comfortable and respected is to know when you don’t have the best answer, and let your client make the final call.

6) “Does that make sense?”

This seemingly innocuous phrase has the potential to be so damaging to your credibility that Jerry Weissman, a leading corporate presentations coach, has written a whole article on it in Harvard Business Review.

When you follow up a presentation or assertion with, “Does that make sense?” it has two negative implications, according to Weissman:

Uncertainty on the part of the speaker about the accuracy or credibility of the content.
Doubt about the ability of the audience to comprehend or appreciate the content.

Not only does this phrase make it seem like you’re unsure what you’re talking about, it also calls into question the competence of your client — which isn’t a great way to build a positive relationship.

Weissman recommends a switch to “Do you have any questions?” to avoid the negative connotations of this phrase. It’s a simple switch that can save your credibility from taking a hit at your next client meeting.

What phrases do you avoid using with clients? Let us know in the comments.

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17 link resolutions for 2017

Link builders, what can you do better this year? Columnist Julie Joyce shares her 17 link-building resolutions for 2017.

The post 17 link resolutions for 2017 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

The fake information epidemic and how it will hurt local search in 2017

Fake content and information will be a growing problem in 2017. Columnist Wesley Young takes a look at this trending issue and discusses ways that false information is being used and how local businesses and marketers can protect against it.

The post The fake information epidemic and how it will hurt local search in 2017 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

SearchCap: Local SEO, link resolutions for 2017 & New Year’s Day Google doodle

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: Local SEO, link resolutions for 2017 & New Year’s Day Google doodle appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Why you should budget for call tracking in 2017

With the current fiscal year winding down and budgeting for FY2017 gearing up, marketers are faced with the annual task of tracking effectiveness and justifying budgets. The key is to invest in tools that help control costs and boost revenue — not just within the purview of marketing, but across the entire organization. Download this […]

The post Why you should budget for call tracking in 2017 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

5 Surprising Marketing Predictions for 2017 – and What We’ve Learned from 2016

2016 has been an exciting year full of unexpected booms and busts in the marketing and technology world, making us look toward 2017 with eager anticipation. So what predictions came true and which ones started with a bang, but ultimately fizzled out? Let’s take a closer look:

1. Blended Marketing Continued to Dominate in 2016

To the surprise of no one who monitors these kinds of things, mobile marketing continued to dominate the web as I predicted back at the end of 2015. However, just as the incredible rise of ad blockers on the web has filtered out much of the advertising noise, so too are consumer bombarded by omni-channel offers that don’t really meet their needs, or happen at inopportune times.

As a result, consumers are being much more selective about the apps they install, the sites they visit and the emails they receive. If you’re not doing enough to stay at the top of their minds in ways that aren’t intrusive, you’re giving yourself a one-way ticket to UnsubscribeLand.

This is why many businesses look at omni-channel as more risk than reward. Do you really want to be everywhere the customer is all the time? Does the customer want you to be? Are you more of an elegant butterfly in their minds, or a pesky fly? If you don’t take the time to refine and chart your marketing course appropriately, they’ll make that decision for you.

Social media and mobile media continued to blur the lines with integrated shopping, recommendations, videos and reviews – creating an even greater push to get noticed among the amalgamated chunk of product pitches, retargeting ads and “I’m-an-authority-look-at-me” videos. As more and more advertisers step up to the plate, they look at what others are doing and then copy their efforts – rather than test on their own to see what their unique audience would respond to.

And, in an effort to get in on this big, blended push, Google shifted its search results to include video, recent news, location information and other details to help match the user with their search request even faster and more thoroughly than before.

So if everything’s coming together in a more finely-tuned customer experience, what didn’t really take off as well as we expected it to?

2. From Lifestyle Apps to Augmented Reality

I had originally predicted that 2016 would see the rise and greater adoption of lifestyle apps – meaning apps that people installed as a reflection of who they were. These could be a combination fitness-weather-diet tracker app rather than having apps for all three of these items. But the looming spectre of data overages constantly nipping at their heels means developers have tended to go easy on what’s available via app versus the much more open and accommodating web.

What stirred everyone’s imagination was augmented reality. The undisputed summer hit was Pokemon Go, but it, too, failed to gain much traction after the initial buzz wore off. Still, it was a masterpiece of gamification and as mobile becomes more powerful, we can look forward to seeing what augmented reality can do – particularly when you’re able to bring together the aforementioned apps into an all-in-one experience that isn’t just helpful, but subtly addictive too.

3. Talk To Me – Dash Buttons and the Internet of Things

Voice-guided search, wearable devices and innovations like the Amazon Echo and Google Home are starting to bridge the gap between the internet you access on your computer, and the internet you access everywhere.

Awkward attempts to blend e-commerce with that always-on, on-demand functionality has come out in the form of Amazon Dash buttons – WiFi connected devices that let you instantly order your favorite household products, but they’re more of a novelty than a really useful and innovative design. Watch them become as memorable and curious as the CueCat.

What will be changing for marketers is an increasing investment in understanding analytics and getting a truly cross-channel view of the consumer. Rather than throwing out a bunch of things that the company “thinks” the customer might want, they’re finally gathering enough intelligence (and enough of an understanding to know what to do with it), that they can track a consumer from a search on their home computer to a product description page on their mobile phone, to an order form on their company laptop.

This is known as advanced attribution, and it’s going to change the way we market to customers in ways we probably can’t even imagine. But think of the potential of engaging that consumer at the right time and place, on the right device, when they’re at the right stage of the buying cycle, and you can see precisely how much of a game-changer this technology is.

4. A Bigger Focus on Tools and Services that Fill in the Gaps

Things like predictive analytics and personalization tools are great – but they’re mostly in a vacuum. That means you can’t really leverage them to see the big picture, as well as the granular details you need in order to make decisions with confidence.

Expect innovations in 2017 to help bridge the gaps with many of these services, allowing for greater integrations with existing systems and a better, visual picture of what all that information really means. Kissmetrics is one such type of service. Rather than plop a bunch of analytical data in your lap, it zeroes in on who is doing what, and allows you to track and monitor their engagement across devices.

Other types of services that are not even part of the analytics industry are popping up to fill in the empty spaces left by other innovators. Uber, Airbnb, Amazon Echo/Google Home and many other services like these are becoming ubiquitous in our lifestyle because of the service they provide — a service we never even knew we needed until we saw its potential.

Tools like these are poised to change the way we market on the web, and you can expect even more integrations with popular software and SaaS products to broaden their reach and capabilities.

5. The Power and Passion of Social Media – Who Decides What You Get to See?

Although this doesn’t just apply to marketing, the U.S. election was watched, dissected, ranted and raved over across social media platforms. So much so, that “fake news” and allegations started littering people’s news feeds.

But this then begs the question – should you encapsulate yourself in a bubble – seeing only what you want to see, or should companies give you a little bit of everything and let you choose accordingly? Who decides? Social media has a very powerful and passionate audience on its side – and a significant amount of data that it’s going to have to make some definitive and perhaps unexpected decisions on. After all, not offering a balance can affect user engagement, and losing user engagement is the one thing that no social network wants to imagine – it’s their lifeblood. How they plan to approach this particular conundrum remains to be seen, but you can bet that eventually they’ll be forced to decide – and not everyone may agree with the results.

What Do You Think is in Store for 2017?

Do you think we’ll see some surprising changes on how we market to consumers in 2017? What do you think will happen? Share your own predictions with us in the comments below!

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!

Local SEO is about so much more than tools

Tools can help us do our jobs more efficiently, but columnist Greg Gifford reminds us that they aren’t meant to do our jobs for us.

The post Local SEO is about so much more than tools appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Start your SEO and SEM campaigns off fresh with tactics that work

Here’s to a great 2017 full of learning and growing your SEO and SEM success! View ticket options and rates here. We look forward to seeing you at SMX West, March 21–23 in San Jose!

The post Start your SEO and SEM campaigns off fresh with tactics that work appeared first on Search Engine Land.