Introducing Benchmark Landing Pages

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Introducing Benchmark Landing Pages

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6 Steps to Create a Great Email Signature

6 Steps to Create a Great Email Signature

Practical Marketer • February 13, 2020

When you get emails with signatures that include photos and live links to social media feeds, do you find them interesting and wonder how you could do the same? An email signature can make your emails stand out from the daily storm that hits most inboxes every day. This simple six-step process will guide you through designing your own awesome email signature. 1. Determine Your Goal Your signature will make you stand out, but what do you expect to achieve beyond that? Work out what your immediate and short-term goals for this process. Possible direct effects of a great email signature include; a greater sense of personal contact, an extra social media follower, and a smiling contact. Your immediate aim might be to amuse your contact, and laughs don’t generate dollars directly, but a happy contact is more likely to buy from you. If your prospects feel a more personal bond with you, they are more apt to ask for your help when making a purchase. 2. Learn Basic HTML You can use a plain text email signature, but it will never stand out like an HTML formatted one. You only need a smattering of code knowledge to produce great-looking sign-offs. And Copy and Paste solves a lot of apparent issues. The easiest way to get the code you want is to: Open a WordPress Dashboard → Posts →  Add New Post → Then enter type that you want. Insert any images just as you would for a blog post and format font and alignment to your liking. Then, switch to the text view window, which will give you the HTML for your signature. Copy and paste it into your email signature HTML window. For an easier solution, use an application such as WiseStamp, where formatting is a breeze. This links to your social media accounts and can include your latest tweets or photos. Source: https://www.wisestamp.com/ 3. Color Choice You’d be surprised to learn which colors evoke certain emotions from customers.  Source: https://www.usertesting.com/blog/color-ux-conversion-rates/ Use the right colors to elicit the desired emotion in your email contacts. Alternatively, use the branding colors that you have already chosen for maximum resonance with your target profile. 4. Your Photo People buy from people, even in the B2B world, so include a smiling and professional headshot in your signature. Use the same photo as you use on your website for a greater branding effect. A professional headshot works best, but if you are using a DIY photo, then make sure the background is uncluttered and that there is enough contrast between your face and the background. Make sure the image isn’t overly complicated or obscured, and that it’s inviting and appropriate.  5. Your Message Having a message in your signature can help give your prospects a glimpse into what kind of person you are, and what drives you. It can also reflect the type of company you represent and the line of work you’re in.  Your message doesn’t need to be lengthy. You can use colons (::) and pipes (¦¦) to separate parts of your message, so it needs to be easy to scan. Try using unusual, powerful, and actionable words to penetrate the email marketing fog that blights most email communications. 6. Check, Check and Check Again Your contacts are going to open your email on all manner of devices ranging from mobile phones to tablets to desktops. Many contacts open email messages on mobile devices and never reopen them on larger screens, which reinforces the concept of optimizing for mobile. You only get one chance, so make sure you get the most out of it. The easiest way to ensure you’re emails are compatible with various devices is by using email marketing automation software.  Give your email signature a lot of thought and consideration. It’s the last thing your prospects see when reading your messages, so you’ll want to leave a lasting impression that gives them an idea of who you are and why you’re reliable.   


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Should Your SaaS Business Advertise on Review Sites?

Should Your SaaS Business Advertise on Review Sites?

Practical Marketer • February 12, 2020

Software companies, as well as marketing agencies that work with software companies, are up against a tricky problem when it comes to review sites. While these sites can be a valuable resource for people who are researching SaaS platforms and features, they’re also becoming increasingly pay to play. For users of the site, that means less transparency about why companies are ranking where they are. And for the companies themselves, that means if you’re not willing to pay, you’re probably not going to rank high enough to be discovered. Should a review site PPC be in your SaaS company’s marketing budget? As with most things in the pay-per-click marketing world: it depends. Below, we’ll go over some of the pros and cons of paying for leads on review sites so that you can make the decision that’s best for your budget and your long-term goals. Pro: Review Site Leads are Key in the Age of Informed Consumerism Today’s consumers want to know as much information about a product as they can before they invest. This is in large part because software purchases are happening without direct human interaction. And the less you can speak to your product yourself, the more you have to rely on other sources to tout what makes you so great. Review sites serve a key purpose when it comes to moving potential customers along all stages of the sales cycle. Also, they can make the difference between someone discovering (and purchasing) your product and never hearing about you. Two-thirds of software buyers say that product reviews significantly impact their purchasing decisions, with only 2% saying they have no impact at all. Con: They’re Misleading to Users If you get an icky feeling when you think about paying for a spot on review sites, you’re certainly not alone. As a general rule, you’re not going to see most sites offering transparency to their users about why certain software platforms made the list and why certain ones didn’t. Nor are they transparent about the order of the rankings. And while it’s not necessarily unheard of in the review world to require payment for exposure, it’s not something that a lot of consumers are aware of — and when they find out, it does tend to mar their perception of the information they’re getting. Consider Yelp, a popular review site for commercial businesses that were once the go-to spot for people looking for a good restaurant or hairdresser. While the site is still pretty popular, they’ve lost a lot of consumer trust since news about their pay to play practices came to light. Today, it’s pretty much general wisdom that businesses have to pay up if they want the advertorial benefits of the site, and that makes more reliable peer-to-peer consumer review sites like Google Reviews and Facebook a preferred pick for many people. Pro: It Helps to Diversify Your Reviews A strong marketing strategy for a SaaS company includes getting reviews on as many sites as possible. That’s because 64% of software buyers want to read at least six reviews before making a purchase. If you’re only showing up on one or two sites, your platform might get overshadowed by one that shows up more often. A concerted effort then to appear on review sites — even if it requires paying to get there — makes sense. Reviews are crucial in the software buying process, and there’s value in optimizing your presence on review sites. The fact that that so often requires payment might just be the downside to an otherwise sound marketing strategy. Con: Review Sites Aren’t the Only Way to Get Your Name Out There If you’re doing everything else right, you may be able to get away with opting out of the review site game. Because while reviews are notably important, they’re not the only way to get your name in front of buyers. You may find that the marketing success you’re able to achieve through other channels fills in the gaps that not being on review sites leave behind. After all, the less money you spend on getting your platform ranked on review sites, the more money you have to put toward other marketing efforts. Ultimately, it’s up to your marketing team to decide whether advertising on review sites is in line with your values and your budget. Weigh the pros and cons discussed above, and consider the performance of your other marketing channels. If brand awareness and sales are strong without an active presence on review sites, then you might be just fine taking a stand against the pay to play practice. And if you do think that paying for review exposure is worth it, be sure to do your research so that you only allocate funds to the sites that stand to make the most significant impact for your business. 


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4 Steps to Writing An Email That Sells Your Product

4 Steps to Writing An Email That Sells Your Product

Practical Marketer • February 6, 2020

These days, having a digital storefront is a necessity -- not a luxury. But, having an online place to transact your business isn’t enough. If you want to keep your business in the black, you need warm traffic full of people ready to purchase. Out of the numerous marketing strategies out there, when it comes to selling your products online, there’s one that stands the test of time (so far) -- selling through email. Whether you’re wondering how to sell an online course, SaaS product, or physical event, there’s something to glean from these four steps on how to write an email that sells your products. 1. Segment Your Email Using the 5 Stages of Awareness The first step to writing an email that sells is to make sure you’re writing and sending emails to the right audience. But, how do you make sure your targeting and messaging are on point? By segmenting your email list using the five stages of awareness: Really unaware - people who aren’t actively looking for a solution and don’t know they have a problem Problem-aware - visitors who realize they have a problem but aren’t hunting for a fix Solution-aware - browsers which understand they need a solution to their problem but haven’t actively researched options yet Product-aware - people who have done some research and are aware of the options for solutions to their problem Most aware - prospective customers who are actively seeking a solution to their problem, have done their research, and want to choose a solution It’s important to distinguish your audience between these five stages because your messaging needs to match their stage. Otherwise, it won’t resonate with them and, worse, instead of hearing cha-ching for earned sales you’ll hear... crickets. If you doubt the power of segmentation, find proof in the numbers. Marketers have seen as much as a 760% revenue increase by segmenting their email campaigns. What’s more, segmented email campaigns also have a 14.32% higher open rate than campaigns that aren’t segmented, so it’s worth taking seriously. While there are several ways to segment your email list (e.g., by demographics, location, preferences, interests, action taken, et cetera), be sure to include the five stages of awareness in your groupings, which allows you to write copy that addresses that stage. The reason why addressing your recipient’s awareness stage works so well is it matches your reader’s trust level to your email copy. It takes time to build trust among your readers, so make sure you’re offering the right value at the right time.  For instance, if you offer one of your products to someone who’s in the “problem-aware” stage, they’ll likely snub your offer. Whereas someone who’s in the “most aware” stage will more likely be ready for your offer.  Additionally, the better you are matching your audience’s trust level with your email copy and offers, the more they’ll trust you. And trust is certainly something that’s becoming a scarcity among brands these days. Sadly, trust declined in 10 out of 15 business sectors from 2017 to 2018. (Image source) Plus, a staggering 81% of consumers claim that trust is an important part of their purchasing behavior. So, if you’re looking for a simple marketing strategy for your business and don’t know where to start, building trust by segmenting your consumers according to their needs is definitely a solid foundation.  It’s not enough to just say the right thing; you have to say it at the right time, too. And that’s especially true for your subject line. 2. Conquer Your Subject Line Your next step is to nail your subject line, which is a tall order because a lot is weighing on a well-written subject line. So much so that 47% of email recipients open your email based solely on your subject line.  On top of that, there are certain words to avoid, like \"newsletters,\" for example. It decreases your open rate by 18.7%, not to mention, there\'s also a list of email spam trigger words you should avoid. (Image source) A tip for getting your email subject line right is to aim for less than 20 characters, which can score you an open rate of 18.5%, according to a study by Yes Lifecycle Marketing. (Image source) If you include a number in your subject line, your open rate scores a 1.3% boost in open rate and 2.2% lift in reply rate. (Image source) Also, title casing matters. If you write a subject line in title case, it should beat out your sentence case and lower case subject lines in both open rate and reply rate. (Image source) I could go on and on about the best email subject line formulas, best practices, and trends to help you optimize your subject lines. But, there’s nothing more reliable than testing out your subject lines.  A good place to start is CoSchedule’s email subject line tester, which pumps out a score for your subject line and gives you tips on how to improve it, once you submit your subject line into their form field. For extra reassurance, try using Send Check It’s email subject line tester, which simply grades your subject line. The moral here is to follow the best formulas for writing your subject lines and be sure to test your subject lines. You may be surprised by the results. 3. Educate Your Audience Our advice on writing your email body centers around educating your audience and delivering value. Why? Educational content is king. Check out how Harvard Business Review educates its email recipients by simply including blog article content in the body of the email. (Image source) An effective way to educate your email readers is to get into your audience’s shoes, empathize with them, understand their problems (within their specific awareness stage, of course), and teach them how to solve their pain points. As you focus on educating your audience, try to also personalize your emails. When your message is personalized, your emails can see an 18.8% average open rate and 21.1% click rate. On top of that, personalized emails deliver six times greater transaction rates, so it’s worth tackling. On a technical note, try to keep your email concise and between 50 and 125 words, which tend to get a response rate above 50%. To make sure your email copy is readable and easy to digest, use this free Hemingway App by simply copying and pasting your body text into the app and improving the highlighted “hard to read” and “very hard to read” sections. (Image source)  Formatting aside, the important takeaway is to focus on teaching your audience how to solve their problem, which positions your brand as a reliable expert on your topic.  4. Include A Distinct CTA Our final step for writing emails that sell your product is to include a distinct call-to-action (CTA). A powerful way to get your readers to click your CTA is to, yet again, make it more personal. Personalized CTAs are so powerful; they can surge your conversation rates by 202%. If you don’t have fancy software that lets you create smart CTAs, it can be as simple as including your recipient’s name near your CTA, just like Marie Forleo does. Another way to write a distinct CTA is to be as specific as possible, so your reader knows exactly what they’re getting into if they click your CTA. Take Suiteness’s email CTA for example. By including a button that reads “Plan ahead & save,” their recipient can expect to go to a booking page from their email. (Image source) Also, rather than use the overdone “shop now,” “book now,” or “read more” CTAs, write something unique that represents your brand. A simple copy update from “Get it now” to “Gimme” increased Sumo’s conversions by 182%. (Image source) Another way to make your CTA stand out is to include a button that visually stands out from the rest of your email, just like Made In’s “let’s cook!” CTA button in red. (Image source) All in all: Make your email CTA irresistible to click by personalizing, being specific and unique, and visually standing out. Better monetize your email list by following the four straightforward steps listed above, and see your email marketing results soar.


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How to Create the Most Engaging Sales Email

How to Create the Most Engaging Sales Email

Practical Marketer • February 5, 2020

Sales reps spend at least 33% of their work hours emailing. Email remains a robust sales and prospecting tool. But, how you go about creating those sales emails is really what matters here. Prospects may not know a ton about you or your products, so they’ll need a reason to open, read, and convert. Here are 17 actionable tips for creating the most engaging sales emails that will delight your prospects. 1. Prepare Before you begin composing your email, take some time to gather relevant information on your target audience. The best sales negotiation training can equip you to identify your target recipient, but also consult your marketing strategy where your audience personas should be clearly indicated.  Also, consult your CRM software if the lead you’re reaching out to is in your system. It should tell you what your recipient cares about and what sort of content he or she is engaging with. Also, check your prospects out online by looking for any content they’ve created, publications they read or contribute to, or what their social media activity is like. Determine the kinds of posts and tweets the recipient shares and review their company\'s website.  2. Use Engaging Subject Lines Your sales email subject line is the most critical part of convincing your prospect to open your email. Crafting the perfect subject line can influence the recipient\'s initial perception of the message, and ultimately determine if he or she will open it. Your email subject may even be the ice-breaker when you finally meet the prospect for negotiations.  Personalize your subject lines by including the recipient’s name to grab attention. Some examples of effective email subject lines include: Dan, can you help me out? Dan, I know you\'ll love this Dan, here’s a fantastic new tool for your marketing automation Dan, here\'s a better way to (insert benefit) Dan, check out how (competitor) increased (high-level benefit) 3. Drop the Formality Formal structures sound too impersonal. Drop the corporate-speak and write like you\'re talking to a friend. Keep your message casual, friendly, and lively. An informal email is likely to put your contact at ease. A warm tone can increase your chances of landing a face-to-face meeting or a seat at the negotiating table.  An informal tone gives the contact the impression they can get along with you when you reach the negotiation stage. Drop the strict structures and be the friend offering support for your contact’s goals. 4. Work On Your Opening Sentence Your opening line leads the reader to the rest of your email and, possibly, to negotiations. A weak opening can result in a quick dismissal, with your email ending up in archives. Avoid opening with, \"Hi, my name is...\" Instead, lead with something more impactful such as: Jennifer from __ mentioned... I noticed you... I read your recent... I loved your presentation at... Congratulations on (recent achievement)... 5. Use Simple Design A complex email marketing design may obscure your message. You don\'t need to use all the bells and whistles that are available. What you need most is a simple, clutter-free design that highlights your main message points. You may also need to use an interactive mobile-friendly design, as most people use different gadgets to view their emails on the go.  There are several online tools to create beautiful, user-centric emails, and that are a sinch to operate. Use email design tools make it easy for even the least tech-savvy to customize their sales emails.  6. Make It Short and Sweet The body of your email needs to be concise. Your prospect is most likely busy and has little time to wade through a load of minutiae.  Your email needs to elicit a response, not inundate the reader with information. Make the body no more than three paragraphs long. Each paragraph could have two to four sentences. Space your paragraphs for easier reading and comprehension.   7. Personalize Your Message The fastest way to lose your prospect\'s interest is to send a cookie-cutter email. Sending out a mass email to many prospects may send all your future emails to the spam box.  Get personal. Refer to your contact by name. Mention events and causes your prospect may be interested in. Many LinkedIn profiles list interests at the bottom. Your value proposition should focus on your prospect’s pain points, with a distant place position going to general industry needs. 8. Leverage Connections Do you have any mutual connections with your prospect? Is there someone of high standing you both know on a personal level? Mention events you may have attended together, such as training or other corporate events.  Use your connections to make an introduction. A mutual connection can establish your credibility. A shared connection offers the prospect a chance to do a quick background check before they decide whether to engage and negotiate with you.  9. Reveal Your Trigger You\'ve already introduced yourself and answered the “who.” You have included your value proposition, explaining the “what” and the “why.” The next question to address is “why now?” Advance your sales agenda by telling the prospect why you\'re reaching out now. What\'s the trigger that made you make your pitch? The answer could be that you saw their ad for a similar product. Maybe you read the prospect\'s recent blog post that outlined the challenges the company was facing. Perhaps it was a news item or a meeting you had with one of their employees. The prospect may have recently viewed or commented on your content. Whatever the reason, mention it and make it plausible.  10. Clarify Your Value Proposition Your email\'s body should deliver a clear value proposition. What is the recipient getting out of reading this email? Avoid generic value propositions such as \"Our firm helps growing companies to boost their conversion rates by 300%.\" A better strategy would be to ask questions that align with the prospect\'s pain points. Some examples of winning questions include: Would you like to improve your sales negotiation strategy for the upcoming holiday season? Are you locking out prospective clients in your sales funnel? Wouldn\'t it be valuable to have reliable email marketing automation for your lead generation systems? Do you need a seamless integration between your sales, marketing, and accounting departments? 11. Include Timelines and Deadlines It works to create some sense of urgency in your sales emails. Timelines and deadlines can inspire your contact to take immediate action or risk losing the benefits you\'re offering. Timelines set up practical expectations and provide a tentative timetable for taking the next step in the sales cycle. 12. Create a Call to Action Nowadays, an increasing number of email users are desensitized to most calls to action. Yet, including one is still relevant, as a strong call to action prompts and guides the recipient to the next step.  Make a call to action that appeals to your contact\'s self-interest rather than your sales agenda. An example would be, “Could your sales negotiations team benefit from a demonstration on how to boost their sales quotas?” 13. Embrace Technology Several tools can make the sales process much more effective. Certain email add-ons and browser extensions can reveal your prospect\'s reactions. Prospect reactions may include the links the reader clicked on, whether the reader opened the email, and whether the reader scrolled to the bottom of the email.  The tools can also provide insights into your sales email campaign even without tech training. Some popular add-ons and extensions allow you to: Create dynamic CRM email marketing templates Quickly attach files and images Schedule email blast templates Create videos right inside your mailbox Include your calendar for easy scheduling of calls and meetings Track emails and clickable links 14. Find Out CC Possibilities Your first email is not for closing sales or initiating negotiations. Instead, your first email is an attempt at building relationships. Use your initial email to find out who else in the prospect\'s company may need to join in the conversation. For instance, does your email recipient need to consult someone else? If so, ask your contact whether you need to CC someone else in their organization in follow-up emails. 15. Have a Strong Closing Closing strong leaves a memorable impression while providing the recipient with a clear path of action. A strong closing can also set up the agenda for the next interaction. Try the following questions to prompt a positive response: Can we set up a meeting to discuss the next steps? Are you available tomorrow for a 10-minute phone call? Let me know if improving your (business operations) is a priority for your company now. Can I send over our top rep to make a presentation and explain the benefits further? 16. Craft Your Email Signature Your email signature is not a vanity tool. It shouldn\'t distract from the rest of the email or contain too many links. You need a professional signature that\'s on-brand and offers quick contact info. Have your phone number and one or two of your most active social media buttons. Avoid inspirational quotes and images. You want your contact to focus on the message rather than vanity designs.  17. Think About Timing Inconvenient timing can result in your contact ignoring your email. You want to be top of your recipient\'s inbox when they are fresh and have just started their workday.  Scheduling allows you to write your emails when you\'re in your best frame of mind. Let’s say you feel you write your best emails at two in the afternoon. With scheduling, you can draft your pitch when it’s most convenient for you,  and the email is sent when it\'s most suitable for your recipient. Email sales campaigns can be tough, especially if you’re cold-calling strangers. Using a friendly tone can set you up for success. Personalizing your email, from the subject line to the value proposition, can make the email and message more appealing.  Leverage mutual connections and shared interests to make your introduction. Have a strong closing and a call to action to prompt a response. Using timelines and deadlines works to create a sense of urgency and set up an action timetable. Your email signature works to take the conversation beyond email to the negotiation table.


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How To Create A Webinar That Builds Your Email List

How To Create A Webinar That Builds Your Email List

Practical Marketer • January 29, 2020

There’s nothing more powerful in modern marketing than putting a face to a brand. Opening the doors and chatting with your audience is one of the most effective forms of engagement there is. In fact, the average audience viewing time for a webinar is 57 minutes. That’s about 54 minutes more than people will typically give you! Hosting regular webinars provides your brand with a variety of benefits. In this article, we’ll look at how holding an effective and informed webinar can increase consumer loyalty and drive lead generation opportunities, and therefore, grow your email lists.  Choose a Topic That Resonates Before you get started, you have to choose a discussion topic that will be of interest to your audience. This will not only help ensure you have something valuable to offer, but it will also increase your chances of getting high-quality leads to register. No one will want to spend an hour of their time listening to a sales presentation. Get creative, and spend a little effort researching what your audience needs to know. What are the main pain points customers face? This is an excellent question to ask when generating your webinar content. The more you can educate people during your webinar, the more they will stick around. You can look to your blog and social media for inspiration too. What are your three most popular blog posts? What’s trending right now on social? This can help you refine topics that leads will want to hear about.  People should ultimately leave the webinar having learned something and perhaps seeing your brand as a solution (but don’t push it). Just think, “fewer sales, more assistance.” Don’t forget about a CTA at the end that promotes a piece of applicable content, or a special offer. Go For A Co-Branded Strategy Webinars aren’t the quickest and easiest to coordinate. They require a lot of time, preparation, and labor. But, if you’re able to partner with a brand that has a similar audience as yours, you’ll be able to split the efforts. Do some research and look into other brands in your industry that are creating content and hosting webinars already. When looking for new and qualified leads, this is a crucial method of opening doors. Co-branding has benefits like: Strengthening business relationships Creating brand authority and trust by third-party credibility  Tapping into a new resource of qualified leads  Growing your network through shared efforts Don’t just partner with anyone eager. Do the research to find experts in your space because anyone who isn’t a great fit could result in a disjointed webinar. When your webinar doesn’t make sense, it will leave a bad taste in the mouths of your registrants, which could ruin your chances of talking to them seriously about your services.  Plan, Promote, and Prepare Did you know that 36% of webinar registrations occur between 8-10 a.m.? There is no point in spending a ton of time putting together a webinar and composing the proper content if you don’t work to promote it appropriately.  A webinar is one of the most effective forms of content you have, so spend the necessary amount of time to introduce. Doing so will ensure it’s successful and that more people not only register but attend the live broadcast. The worst mistake to make is not giving people enough time to schedule their day around your webinar.   Planning should start at least a month out or so, and you should begin webinar promotion with a dedicated email campaign. Depending on what you’re discussing, you can send an email to your entire list or segment and send it to those it will be most applicable to. You want as many registrants as possible, but you want them to be qualified. Otherwise, you’re wasting peoples’ time (including yours).  Don’t forget to include social media campaigns to promote your webinar and consider paid advertising. Test out a few different audience segments to gauge which types might be the most interested.  Delegate Responsibilities If you choose to work with a partner, ensure you are both spending an equal amount of time on webinar efforts. A good rule of thumb is for all parties involved to send out the same amount of email promo or at least promote it to a comparable amount of people. You may want to also consider creating some blog content around the topic of the webinar for further promotion. Whichever party is hosting the webinar is also hosting landing page. This is very important, as this is how you’ll generate leads for the webinar and ensure everyone knows how to log-on the day of. Whoever hosts should typically share the lead list with the other party, depending on their brand guidelines and rules. This is something you should negotiate and confirm before solidifying the partnership, as it’s how you’ll actually grow your email lists.  Follow Up As soon as the webinar is over, follow up with potential leads. During webinars, it’s not uncommon for attendees to request copies of slides and documents, so a follow-up email is a great way to send those resources, as well as say thank you for registering.  A tip is to prepare a follow-up email in advance that you can quickly send out right after the broadcast. You want to follow-up with people as soon as possible, so you’re still fresh in their minds.  Webinars can be a disaster if you don’t prepare, plan, and promote appropriately. The more people that attend, the more opportunity you have to convert leads and grow your email lists, but make sure you select your partner wisely, as that will ultimately determine the quality of leads you’ll see coming in. 


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7 Brands That Send Great Emails

7 Brands That Send Great Emails

Practical Marketer • January 28, 2020

Everyone’s inbox is busy. So if you want to grab and keep the interest of your subscribers, you have very little time to do so, and your emails have to be great. Hours of effort creating visual content and engaging copy can be lost if your email subject line is weak, fails to stand-out, and doesn’t motivate your subscribers to open the email.  You want your messages to be the best they can possibly be, but there’s a lot that goes into the overall success of your email marketing. How do you ensure you’re paying mind to each part appropriately, and doing so in a way that creates a great email that is read and converts? The first step towards effective emails is addressing each component that has a hand in their overall success. And it doesn’t hurt to check out the brands that lead by example.  What Makes a Great Email? Effective email campaigns are not an accident. Here are the various components that contribute to a successful email: Subject Line: This is your only chance to make a first impression. In fact, 47% of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone. Short, concise, and creative is your best bet here. Personalization: The more you can customize your email content to a particular audience, the more relevant it becomes. This can be done by segmenting your leads and sending them content that is consistent with where they are in the buyer’s journey.  Responsive Design: 73% of companies prioritize mobile optimization when creating email marketing campaigns. If your content is not mobile-friendly and responsive on the go, your message won’t be seen. The Right Call-to-Action: Don’t ever forget to ask your audience to do something. That’s the entire point of the email. Strong CTA’s effectively convert.  Okay, now that you know the areas of your emails that matter the most for success, let’s take a look at some brands out there that do a solid job at email marketing. Here I’ve listed eight that know how to delight and convert with their emails. Enjoy!  Eight Brands That Send Great Emails  1. Spotify Who doesn’t love getting an email from Spotify? This music streaming app makes listening to music a memorable experience by putting playlists together for you, based on your listening history and preferences. Their emails take personalization to a whole new level, even creating playlists for you to enjoy with your pets. Who thinks of that? Plus, they always have cute images, fun colors that really pop, and keep it simple with basic copy and a call-to-action. 2. BuzzFeed BuzzFeed keeps it simple by making you giggle in the subject line. I once received an email with the subject line \"21 Puppies so Cute You Will Literally Gasp and Then Probably Cry.” If that doesn’t pull you in, nothing will.  The company also focuses on the preview text, which is critical for padding your open rate. A neat trick BuzzFeed does is they make the subject line a question and then the preview text the answer. It’s a cool way to start a conversation. 3. TheSkimm TheSkimm is a great daily email roundup of all the important things happening around the world. Completely unbiased and filled with information, they use funny phrases, movie quotes, and casual language, which can bring balance to heavy news, and make the email easier to read.  They’ve also mastered customer engagement by sending out anniversary and thank you emails. It feels much less salesy when a company spends a little dough just to appreciate you. Emails are triggered by milestones in their CRM to ensure consistent engagement. TheSkimm also uses this opportunity to promote their referral program. So, it’s two birds, one stone. 4. MarketingProfs This brand knows marketing, and they customize emails based on consumer preferences. Users can select which topics they want to receive in their inbox each day with a ton to choose from, like: New Research B2B Social Practices Strategy Content Creation Basically, anything you tell them you want to see. The number of articles in each email varies depending on what’s available, but you’ll never be receiving something that’s not tailored to your interests.  5. Airbnb Airbnb is very in tune with the destinations you’re looking at, and it shows in the email content. Planning a weekend in Chicago, for example? Airbnb will remind you of where to stay and things to do nearby. Their emails are clean, simple, and enticing, and the content is directly connected to listings of interest to you. They make planning a trip super easy and fun.  7. The Hustle The Hustle is a daily newsletter that delivers entertaining and informative business and tech news. They go beyond the surface of a headline to provide a deep dive on hot topics with a twist, giving readers insight into the most interesting stories to share around the watercooler. Instead of focusing on building out web content, The Hustle puts everything it has into The Daily – a curated roundup of the most impactful news for professionals delivered every morning M-F, as well as The Sunday Story – deep dives on company founders, case studies, and interesting trends you should know about. Stories link to source material, rather than back to their website, and their main CTA is to “Share the Hustle”. The focus is completely on delivering value through their newsletter. With over 1 million subscribers generating over $10 million a year as a result, it’s a strategy that pays off. Take a page out of these seven brands’ playbooks and create emails that are more creative, more compelling, and more engaging. 


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How Content Fuels Your Email Marketing

How Content Fuels Your Email Marketing

Practical Marketer • January 23, 2020

It’s the classic question: which came first, the content or the marketing? Some may say that you can’t have a successful email marketing strategy without first creating the content that will sustain it. And while it’s really up to your team, process, and goals to determine how you go about prioritizing one over the other, it’s undeniable that content plays a significant role in shaping your email marketing plan — and its performance. Email marketing content often gets short shrift. There’s a tendency to undervalue the importance of email copy, or at least to give it a bit less care and oversight than you might something like a blog or white paper (though, as you’ll see, there’s a lot of overlap between these various content strategies). And while it’s undoubtedly true that emails usually differ from other content formats in terms of tone, the stakes are just as high. In this post, we’ll go over the importance of email marketing for your inbound marketing strategy and how good content is the fuel that keeps it healthy. Effective Email Marketing Starts With Strategy Email marketing is about more than just letting subscribers know what you’re selling. Your strategy needs substance, variety, and engaging content. When you put together a strategy with those three elements at the forefront, you’ll build beneficial brand awareness, stay top of mind with your prospects, and, most importantly, engage, nurture, and convert. But again, your approach is crucial.  When you craft the content you’ll be using in your email campaigns, you have to know what your audience craves. Knowing what they’re questions are, who they report to, what they don’t understand, and why they may want to use your services will help you create content that they can use and benefit from. It also ensures you’re personalizing your approach, which will ultimately move your leads through the customer journey. So, when putting together your email strategy, keep content at the heart of it. Include not just what you want to achieve with prospects at each stage, but exactly how you’re going to use your content to get there.  Content and Email Drip Campaigns Email drip campaigns are the epitome of personalized, educational outreach. Content for these campaigns depends on who the recipients of the message are and where they are in the buyer’s journey.  Prospects at the top of the funnel who are engaging with you for the first time will require more basic content that describes what it is your company does. Content like welcome emails and basics on your industry and services will service your leads at this stage best. Meanwhile, prospects further down the funnel will benefit from in-depth content that answers their need-to-know questions, content that differentiates you from your competitors, and shows what it’s like to work with you. Content and Email Newsletters To stay top of mind with prospects and continue to spread your brand’s thought leadership, you should keep them in the know on relevant news about your company and any content that you’ve recently published. Your blog content is great for email newsletters because it’s continuously updated and shows your leads that you’ve got a lot of knowledge to share.  With that said, vary the types of content you share in your newsletters. Linking to blog posts is great, but you’ll also want to diversify by including videos, images, user-generated content, and surveys to keep your email newsletters interesting and engaging.  Content and Promo Emails Content is necessary for your promotional emails because it’s what you’re promoting. You want compelling and highly informative content to be what drives your promotion, and you want to make sure you do whatever you can to create excitement around it.  A new guide, a long-form piece of content that’s gated, or a webinar are just some examples of content to promote. The reason being, these are all pieces of content you’ll want to see the most downloads or sign-ups from, so a dedicated eblast will be that extra necessary push.  By bringing together informative and actionable copy and compelling visuals, your promo emails will get more eyes on the content you’re promoting and inspire more people to act. As always, make sure that the content you are promoting applies to the people you’re sending it to. For example, if you’re hosting a webinar on how agencies can prioritize content marketing, send your promos to your segmented agency list. It’s just another way of personalizing your approach and ensuring you have a higher success rate.  Content truly is the fuel for your email marketing tactics. If you plan your email marketing with a clear understanding of what content you’ll need and how you’ll be using it, you’re sure to delight your subscribers and see better results from your efforts. 


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The 6 Types of Emails You Should Be Sending

The 6 Types of Emails You Should Be Sending

Practical Marketer • January 22, 2020

Are you knocking it out of the park with your emails? Any marketer would rarely answer yes to that question. No matter what your strategy looks like or how effective you think it is, email marketing mistakes happen, and results can always be improved.  A successful email marketing strategy goes a lot deeper than just a casual message to your subscribers once in a while to let them know you’re still around. If you want to create emails that engage, delight, and convert, you need to be diversifying your efforts with emails that span a range of formats, purposes, and frequencies.  Below are six essential types of messages you should be incorporating into your email strategy, and why they’re beneficial for not only you but your subscribers as well.  1. Newsletters Email newsletters are crucial for building brand awareness and loyalty, and a great opportunity for marketing teams of all sizes to increase engagement with their audience. Whether you send newsletters weekly, monthly, or just once a quarter, use them to provide a round-up of your most recently published content, as well as a place to highlight any new promotions, offers, or events. Why they’re great: Think of your email newsletters as hubs that can direct subscribers to other valuable digital resources. A well-done newsletter will drive more traffic to your website, grow your social media community, and increase your sales. Not too shabby for what some consider to be the most basic form of email marketing. 2. Lead Nurturing Drip Campaigns Drip campaigns roll out targeted content to your subscribers to gently guide them along the sales funnel. We recommend having segmented lists for prospects in each stage of the buyer’s journey so you can reach out to them with resources that answer their unique questions and needs. And because they’re automatic, drip campaigns save you time in the long run.  Why they’re great: Drip campaigns are incredibly useful when it comes to staying top of mind with your audience, including re-engaging with prospects who might have gotten distracted somewhere along the funnel. They also help ensure that the content you put a lot of work into creating (blog posts, webinars, infographics, guides, etc.) actually ends up in front of who it’s intended for. 3. Transactional Emails Marketing doesn’t stop at the point of sale. Transactional emails, which include digital receipts, shipping confirmations, and personalized post-sale product recommendations, deliver relevant information to your customers while also giving you a leg up when it comes to getting them to keep coming back again and again.  Why they’re great: Transactional emails fill in many of the gaps that often result in people becoming one-time customers. On top of providing need-to-know information, they also increase customer engagement and build trust — both of which are essential if you want to keep your customers around. 4. News Updates It’s okay to toot your own horn! News update emails call attention to anything exciting that’s going on with your company. Next time you win a big award, have an upcoming conference that your CEO will be speaking at, or secured additional funding, let your subscribers know about it. It helps contribute to your brand authority and continues to secure their faith in your partnership.  Why they’re great: With all of the competition out there, it makes sense to use email marketing as a way to increase brand integrity and authority, and news updates do just that. For the best outcomes, send them only when something big happens — everything else can be mentioned in a newsletter. 5. Milestones If you’re using a CRM, then chances are you’re monitoring key information about your customers, like their birthdays or anniversaries. So why not put all of that data to use with milestone emails? These creative and personalized campaigns recognize important occasions to drive conversions and make your customers feel appreciated. Why they’re great: You know your customers matter, but they need to know too. Milestone emails remind your subscribers that you care, and can include assets like personalized coupon codes that lead to future purchases. 6. Promo/Offer Emails Everyone loves a good deal, and promo emails are just the vehicle to share your most recent exciting offer. Why? Well, email marketing is one of the easiest ways to share deals and offers with your audience because they’re already enrolled and engaged with your messages. And, they’re a great way to get more eyes on a newly released piece of content, like a whitepaper or guide. After all, why create something if you’re not going to show it off? Why they’re great: These types of emails get more eyes on your most valuable campaigns and content and can inspire thought and conversions that might not have otherwise happened. So, change up your email marketing this year. Introduce a few new types of email messages into your campaigns and see how well they engage and delight your subscribers. Keep track of your results, and don’t be afraid to get creative with your approach. 


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7 Ways to Spice Up Your Email Newsletters

7 Ways to Spice Up Your Email Newsletters

Practical Marketer • January 16, 2020

Email newsletters are one of the best tools that you have for providing prospects with valuable resources and staying top of mind with them. And with more than half of U.S. consumers checking their email accounts over ten times a day, brands have plenty of opportunities to connect with interested leads. But it’s not enough to just check-in — you have to be sending newsletters that are worthy of your subscribers’ attention and inspire them to keep the connection going. What’s more, newsletters can get stale fast, so continuously brainstorming ideas to keep your newsletters fresh is necessary. It’s your job as a marketer to ensure that the messages you’re sending out are always providing interest and value to your audience. If you don’t keep them engaging and fun to read, you run a significant risk of losing subscribers, which can be bad news for your inbound marketing strategy. With so much riding on keeping your email newsletters from ending up straight in the trash folder, we thought we’d share some of our best ideas for keeping your prospects’ interest. Here are seven of them. 1. Play Around With Tone Why so serious? Instilling brand authority doesn’t have to mean avoiding all colloquial language. I don’t know about you, but I love it when brands’ messaging is less buttoned up. Speaking to your audience as if you personally know them is one of the best ways to break down that wall and let them in. Prospects want to engage with brands in a more open and laid back manner.  When it comes to your email newsletters, work on finding a friendly, fun, and maybe even comical tone that will make readers feel more connected to you — and more excited to open your emails. Don’t be afraid to reference newsworthy events or things that are currently trending. All of this shows your readers that a real person is behind your messaging.  2. Pay Attention to the Subject Line First impressions matter a lot when it comes to your email newsletters. In fact, 47% of email recipients open emails based solely on the subject line. It’s the first thing they see when your email hits their inbox, so it makes sense that it’s a high priority.  Get creative. Try using emojis in your subject lines, new greetings, or puns. Make sure to keep them short and sweet, as well as relevant to what the newsletter is about. Avoid known subject line spam trigger words like “free,” “act now,” and “don’t delete,” as those will just leave a bad taste in your subscribers’ mouths. If you’re really in need of inspiration, try some subject line templates to help you out.  3. Include GIFs and Videos Incorporating video in your newsletters, as well as other animated content, is almost guaranteed to increase engagement. That’s because 20% of people will read text on a page, but 80% of people will watch a video. Videos and moving visual content is hard to resist because it takes very little effort to consume.  GIFs and videos allow you to break up your content and make it more exciting. To get started, create your own behind the scene videos that look at your office. Or, try interviewing a few employees so they can share what it is they do for the company, which can pull back the curtain a bit and show how you add value for your clients. Another idea is to create a video or GIF of your product in action. This can be used on your website as well as your email marketing.  4. Go For a Slow Reveal Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. If you have a new resource that you’re making available, roll it out with flair by incorporating a slow reveal in your email newsletters. Maybe hint at it four weeks out and add a bit of information. Build on it from there with additional hints and a relative stat thrown in three weeks out, and a vague but interesting video the next week.  By incorporating a slow reveal strategy for a special promotion or release, you build anticipation, which can inspire action once you reveal. This anticipation is not just for the new product, service, or resource that you’re going to be offering, but in your email newsletters and how you’re choosing to go about the slow reveal.  5. Swap Out Links for Buttons and Icons There are a lot of email design tricks you can do in your newsletters that will add some life, but first, start with the obvious. Instead of going the easy route and hyperlinking your text, try adding more visual appeal with clickable elements like buttons and icons. These tend to help break up the monotony of emails and get more attention to your call to action. They’re also much more eye-grabbing for those subscribers who are just doing a cursory scan of your newsletter. If you’re going the button route, make them a color that stands out and keep them consistent across your emails. If you’d rather go the icon route, then make sure the icon accurately represents the piece of content it’s linking to.  6. Get Your Audience Involved Everyone loves a great mention. Incorporate user-generated content like reviews, and social media posts you’re company is tagged in. Your audience won’t just engage with your newsletter more — they’ll also engage with you on those channels more.  Peer-to-peer recommendations are a solid form of third-party credibility and one of the strongest drivers of consumer trust. Sharing them in your newsletters can be fairly easy, and it’s also a quick way to gain trust with your subscribers and thank your current customers with a friendly shout out. 7. Focus on Just One Call to Action Ideally, it would be great if your email newsletters could lead to multiple conversions. But putting too many CTA irons in the fire can muddle your message, confuse your subscribers, and ultimately leave you burned. As an alternative, set your sights on just one call to action, with content that’s geared toward a singular (and thereby less confusing) purpose. This will allow you to focus all your effort on driving one key conversion, which, if all goes well, should be more beneficial.  Successful email newsletters have higher open rates, higher click-through rates, and higher rates of satisfaction among their recipients. Make it your goal to incorporate some, or all, of the tips above into your email marketing strategy. Your newsletters aren’t just getting where they need to be but making an impact once they get there. Not only will you avoid the spam box, but you’ll also start to see more prospects turning into customers. 


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How to Build an Effective Email Drip Campaign

How to Build an Effective Email Drip Campaign

Practical Marketer • January 15, 2020

Drip campaigns are crucial in educating, nurturing, and converting your prospects. They’re the star player in your overall marketing and sales game, so assembling them must be done with a lot of thought, care, and strategy. You also need a firm grasp on what makes your prospects tick so you can fill your campaigns with targeted content and the right message, which will move them through the funnel more seamlessly.  Drip campaigns have this annoying habit of seeming like a very confusing strategy, one with a lot of moving parts and factors that ultimately determine their success. While it’s true that a lot goes into them, they’re actually a huge time-saver, and putting them together doesn’t have to be such a headache.  We’ll cover all of the basics that you need to know about drip campaigns, including the benefits that they offer your marketing strategy and how to put them together effectively. So don’t grab the Excedrin just yet. The Benefits of an Email Drip Campaign When it comes to marketing, every minute matters, and every strategy has to deliver. So let’s get into the weeds a bit on the beneficial reasons to invest time and resources into drip campaigns.  1. Personalized Content Personalized emails result in transaction rates that are 6x higher than non-personalized emails. The whole point of drip campaigns is to offer your audience a consistent stream of touchpoints, filled with personalized content based on what they need and where they are in the buyer’s journey. Each email within a drip campaign works off of each other, offering a little bit of content each time that is meant to help solve a problem your prospect is having.  2. Steady Progress Drip campaigns aren’t designed to push leads through the funnel faster than usual. Instead, they guide them at an even pace, gradually helping them become more informed and moving them closer to a decision. As I mentioned in the previous point, each email is meant to work off the one sent prior. They’re designed to assist you with creating a steady progression for your prospects, informing them more and more with each email, hence moving them through the funnel at a controlled pace they’re comfortable with.  3. Smarter Leads An educated prospect is a better prospect. With drip campaigns, you’re providing ongoing education for your leads, proving your worth, and building trust. The result is a well-informed lead, and we all know that a knowledgable lead makes for a strong, long-lasting customer relationship.  Okay, now it’s time to get started. Enter: email automation software, of course. When paired with an effective CRM, the right automation platform can help you track and analyze your prospects to figure out where they are in the buyer’s journey and segment your lists for your drip campaign. It will also allow you to put together the drip campaign and automate it for marketing ease. How to Build an Email Drip Campaign Putting together a drip campaign is a lot easier than you might think, once you have the right tools. Follow the steps below and create a campaign driven to convert. Step One: Tier Your Prospects To make sure the right content is sent to the right people, you need to segment your prospects based on where they are in their journey. Here’s a quick breakdown of what that might look like. Leads — Awareness phase. Leads are anyone who visits your site. Their level of knowledge regarding what you do is most likely low.  Prospects — Awareness and consideration phase. Prospects are anyone who downloads something on your site and subscribes to your email marketing campaign. They may know a little bit more about what you do, but they’re still learning more about you. This is where your email drip campaigns come in to play.  Opportunity — Consideration phase. When a prospect becomes an opportunity, it’s because they’ve asked for a demo of your service or product. They are now seriously considering working with your company.  Customer — Decision phase. Customers are obviously anyone who decides to partner with you and use your service or product. You’ve done it! You converted a lead to a customer!  Closed/Lost — Anyone who qualifies as an opportunity but then decides against moving forward, for whatever reason. Womp, womp.  MIA — Unresponsive opportunities who go dormant after requesting a demo. Super womp, womp.  There’s an opportunity within each of these classifications to engage (and re-engage) in a way that moves the relationship forward. To do it, move on to step two. Step Two: Create Content for Each Stage Collaborate with your sales team and your account team to gather insights on the pain points of people in each of the classifications mentioned in step one. What do they want to know? What don’t they know already but should? What might they be confused about at this stage? Once you’ve workshopped a bit and built audience personas for each group, get to work creating content that addresses their unique wants and needs, or start assembling your existing content that fits within these areas. Think broadly, focusing on general content that can be useful for each type of lead/prospect, including gated resources, manuals, webinars, and blog posts. Having this content on hand will give you a good base of educational materials that you can then put to use in your drip campaigns. Step Three: Segment Your Lists You’ve tiered your prospects already, so now it’s time to create your actual email lists. Create a list for each tier, and make sure to automatically enroll new prospects into the most appropriate list for their current stage.  How you do this depends on how your marketing automation software helps you qualify your prospects. Some allow you to take into consideration a lot of factors, like actions they’ve taken on your site, the industry they’re in, and the size of their company. But at the end of the day, you should have segmented contact lists that you can easily connect throughout each campaign. Step Four: Craft Your Emails Once you’ve got your lists segmented, start putting together the actual email series for your drip campaigns. To make it easy on yourself and your team, you may want to tackle just one prospect tier at once. Start small while you get your footing and see what works, and then adjust accordingly.   Make sure you create engaging email content that will delight your prospects. You want them to enjoy reading your emails and look forward to opening them. Don’t forget to add links to your existing content so that you can make these more personalized and helpful.   Step Five: Check In to Measure Success Let your drip campaigns run their course for a few months, then check to see how well they’re performing. Focus on how well they’re able to move prospects through the funnel and see if your sales team is getting any feedback for improvement. Also, look at click-through-rates, open rates, and conversion rates to help determine overall success. Sometimes, something a simple as swapping in updated and/or otherwise enhanced content will be enough to overcome hurdles. Remember: drip campaigns are ongoing strategies. Tweak your practices and your content as needed, and always use any associated data to help evolve your campaigns. Soon, you’ll have a drip campaign that operates — and excels.


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3 Reasons Your Marketing Plan Isn’t Working

3 Reasons Your Marketing Plan Isn’t Working

Practical Marketer • January 9, 2020

Tons of hard work goes into implementing a marketing plan. From planning to execution, your team has to invest a lot of hours and a lot of effort into putting together a strategy that will succeed — which is why it’s such a bummer when it doesn’t. A failed marketing strategy is usually the result of three common mistakes, and by identifying what they are, you’ll be able to avoid making them. We’ll go over what those three mistakes are so you can craft a strategy that avoids them, and see real success out of your marketing efforts. 1. You Didn’t Clearly Identify Your Goals Marketing is an end to a mean. But if you’re not really sure what you’re trying to achieve, how are you going to optimize your efforts to get there? The goals that you choose for your marketing efforts should be specific, measurable, and attainable. Instead of focusing on something overly broad like “increase revenue,” break down your bigger goals into smaller goals that will serve as stepping stones toward that more ambitious undertaking. Some of the most common marketing goals include: Broadening exposure and increasing brand awareness among new customers Generating new leads Converting more prospects into sales  Increasing SEO and page rankings Enhancing customer relations Each of these goals is tied to specific marketing practices that make them achievable for teams of all sizes. The key is to know exactly what you’re trying to achieve in the first place so that you can target your efforts in the right direction. 2. You Didn’t Look at the Right Metrics If you didn’t clearly outline your goals, then chances are you’re also using the wrong metrics to measure success. And even if you did clearly outline your goals, you might still be looking at the wrong markers of performance. Evaluating the correct metrics is crucial to a successful marketing plan. If you’re looking at the wrong data, or just aren’t quite sure what to make of the data that you’ve got, then you’re going to end up missing out on key insights that will tell you if you’re on or off track. So what metrics should you look at? Here is what you should be measuring based on some of the common goals mentioned above: Brand awareness and generating new leads — Look at referral traffic, organic traffic, and the number of new leads being generated from your gated content and enrolling in your email marketing.  More sales — Look at your conversion rates, average lead score, and your sales team’s close rate. SEO — Look at search visibility, keyword rankings, and organic search traffic. Customer relations — Look at referrals, client reviews, and your average client lifespan.   When you hone in on the right metrics, you ensure that you’re paying attention where it really counts. You also give yourself the best opportunity to see where and how you need to tweak your marketing plan. 3. You Lacked Consistency A marketing plan isn’t a one and done kind of thing. Truly effective marketing comes down to consistency — with your paid advertising, your content marketing, your email marketing, and so on. If you just jump from strategy to strategy, you’re not giving your team a chance to see what’s working and what’s not. You’re also running the risk of confusing your customers. At its core, marketing is about controlling the conversation around your brand. You want to set the dialogue in terms of your identity and your values, and to make those ideas and values a central part of how current and potential customers perceive you. If you’re not consistent with your marketing, you’re not strengthening your brand messaging. This opens the doors for others to set it for you, and can also cloud the perceptions that others have of you. When you’re forming your marketing plan, always keep consistency in mind. What are the common threads that are tying all of your individual pieces of content together? What is the overall message you are sending about your company? What is your unique voice, and is it coming through in all variables of your campaigns? Consistency builds trust, authority, and awareness. And in turn, these factors help get you closer to your major goals. Aim to be consistent in everything you do related to marketing, and your message will be a lot more impactful. There’s a difference between hard work and difficult work. If you go into your marketing plan with clear direction and a strategy for measuring your success, then you’ll take out a lot of the hurdles that can stand in the way of productive marketing. Ultimately, every single tactic and every single step of your marketing plan should be driven toward promoting your brand identity and furthering your established goals. And if you approach your plan with these factors in mind, you’ve already got a serious leg up on everyone who doesn’t.


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The Anatomy of an Effective Email

The Anatomy of an Effective Email

Practical Marketer • January 8, 2020

For every dollar spent on email marketing, you get $38 in return. That’s a lot of ROI for one strategy. But, before you hit send, there are various things you have to keep in mind that ensure your email is built effectively.  A successful email is much like the human body. It has various parts that all need to work together for it to function and operate smoothly as a whole. The anatomy of every effective email includes at least seven specific components that should be present, all of which will encourage people to open it, engage with the content, and eventually convert. So to get it right and see that sweet ROI, here are the necessary components that comprise the anatomy of an effective email:  1. “From” Field The “from” space is an essential piece of real estate because it can immediately initiate trust. Never set up your emails to be sent from a generic address. Instead, have the “from” contain the name of someone within your organization, preferably someone from your sales or marketing team. Next to the subject line, the “from” field is where most people look at before opening the email. And the easier it is to identify the source of an email, the more likely it will be opened. 2. Subject Line As we alluded to in the previous point, your subject line is the second opportunity to make a good first impression. 35% of email recipients open an email based on the subject line alone. If you don’t engage here, people will not be opening your email, which means you have zero opportunity to convert them. The body of your email can contain the best information in the world, but if the subject line is boring, they’ll never see it. A few tips to remember when creating subject lines: Don’t overuse punctuation (ie. !!!! or ????). Keep it short. No longer than 40-50 characters. Don’t use all caps. Don’t repeat the “from” label. 3. Content Content is the meat of the email. It’s everything, and it starts with your preview text. The preview text is like the sidekick of your subject line because it’s meant to provide more context and further compel readers to open the email. It should grab attention and get people engaged.  The body of your email is where you provide the primary messaging and information for your readers. It must create value for the consumer and cause them to take action (we’ll get to that specific part later). Make sure that whatever you’re promoting has your brand voice tied to it, is concise, and is presented in an easily digestible way. Make sure this content is personalized by addressing specific pain points and provides aid based on where the recipient is in the customer journey.  Commit to quality and send content that people actually want to read. It’s just as easy to fail an email campaign if your content is boring, or worse, rife with errors.  The content should also vary. Don’t send out the same campaign over and over. A/B test subject lines and content to see what people respond to. Then create more of it. A company newsletter is usually the best place to start if you’re scratching your head on content.  4. Call to Action One of the most important parts of your email is where you ask people to “do something.” This is your call-to-action (CTA) and is what leads to conversion. Whether you want people to make a purchase or simply fill out a survey, you need to request it somewhere in the email.  When writing the content, ask yourself, “what do I want people to do after they receive this?” It doesn’t have to be a purchase. If it’s a survey, don’t forget to include a link where they can fill it out.  The idea is always to make the CTA clear and concise, so people aren’t wondering what to do next. One of the most engaging ways to do this is to include an easily clickable button that redirects people to your exact destination. 5. Visuals/Design We have all heard the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words,” but it’s no different when it comes to email marketing. Using an image in an email appeals to the recipient’s visual nature. It makes it easier for them to receive information, it gives character to your emails, and it can break up the written content.  Don’t neglect visual components like color blocks or graphics. And make sure you give thought to the overall design and layout of your emails. Visuals play a big part in branding, and having them be consistent with the look and feel of your other digital assets and collateral is a must.   6. Mobile-Optimized At this point, there’s no excuse for not having mobile-optimized emails. We already know that people are glued their phones, and with recent studies showing that up to 77% of emails are opened on mobile devices, the deal is sealed. You must be optimizing your emails for mobile. If someone receives an email they can’t read on their phone, they’re not only going to neglect reading it, but they may even unsubscribe from all your future email messages.  7. Analytics Any email campaign you send out must always be measurable. Evaluating the performance of your email marketing strategies is critical to understanding what works and what is failing.  An effective email will have a high open-rate and click-rate, and if you measure a campaign and both of these metrics are failing, it’s time to make some changes. When reviewing your email benchmarks and making adjustments, make sure you play around with A/B testing, the day and time you’re sending your emails, and frequency. These can all play a part in the overall effectiveness, and that’s what matters most.  So, when putting together your next email newsletter or campaign, make sure you pay mind to the seven pieces of the email anatomy mentioned above. Don’t neglect one over the other, as all are needed for well-functioning, successful email. 


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The California Consumer Privacy Act and What You Need to Know

The California Consumer Privacy Act and What You Need to Know

Practical Marketer • December 23, 2019

Maintaining compliance is a daily necessity for marketers. With the amount of information that is now accessible, it’s crucial that consumers feel protected and in the know. With the GDPR somewhat recently released, we’ve all become accustomed to making sure our consumers are fully aware of what we do with their information, should they choose to offer it up to us.  Transparency is the key to trust, and now that California released a new policy, it’s time we get up to speed on what it means, how it will affect our marketing, and what we need to disclose to our consumers to maintain transparency with them.  Here are a few basics of the CCPA to help you better understand how this Act affects the way you market to your customers.  What is the CCPA, and When Will it Go Into Effect?  The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) is a new data privacy law that applies to businesses that collect personal information from California residents. This law reinforces the privacy of California residents and maintains full transparency over what their information will be used for when collected. The act goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2020.  What Do You Mean By “Information”? Information can be anything from your consumers’ names and email addresses to their IP address and financial information. Basically, it’s anything that can be traced back to or related to a consumer.  What Does the CCPA Mean for Consumers? The CCPA protects California consumers (anyone living in California or anyone that is a resident but traveling out of the state). It gives them the right to be informed on which of their personal information is being collected and what will be done with their information once it is collected. This includes where it was sourced from and whether or not it will be sold.  This Act also gives them the ability to opt-out of the sale of their information, gain access to their information, and request the deletion of their information at any time.  How Does the CCPA Effect Businesses?  Businesses must comply with the CCPA by not selling consumers information should they make that request. Selling includes making it available in any way in exchange for monetary or other benefits.  If a business sells any information at all, it must provide a link that states “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” or “Do Not Sell My Info” on your company’s website’s homepage, as well as within your privacy notice. If a consumer opts-out, it must be honored and communicated to the third party that you sell their information to.  Businesses must notify their consumers of their full rights under this Act. This can be done in many ways, including disclosure on their privacy policy, a dedicated email notice, or when the data is being collected.  Also, businesses must have a process in place to respond to opt-out requests and make at least two methods for submitting these requests available. These methods include, at minimum, a toll-free telephone number and a website address if the business has one. Businesses must respond to these requests within the time limits outlined by the CCPA. Is Benchmark Email Compliant?  Yes. Every email you create with Benchmark will be compliant with this Act. We’ll also offer support for CCPA related requests from your contacts. Learn more in our Privacy Policy.  For more information, and to gain a full understanding of the entire requirements under this new Act, please visit the CCPA website. 


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Overcoming Our Fears: Getting Started with Email Marketing

Overcoming Our Fears: Getting Started with Email Marketing

Practical Marketer • December 19, 2019

For a lot of us, doing something new is scary. It could be that we fear the unknown, a fear of failing or that we fear we won’t know how to do something. Regardless of the source, many of us won’t ever try a new thing as we succumb to our fears. When it comes to email marketing, several fears or impediments may come into play. So, let’s address them. But first, let’s take a look at why you should even be doing email marketing in the first place. If you made it this far, you’re at least curious. The Case For Email Marketing It’s projected that there will be 2.9 billion email users worldwide by 2019. That’s quite the large audience. Additionally, 105 billion emails are sent daily, with that number expected to increase to 246 billion by 2020. If the numbers aren’t convincing enough, here are several more reasons you need to be doing email marketing: It’s Affordable. Hands down, email marketing is one of the most, if not the most, cost-effective marketing solutions available to businesses today. It\'s Fast. You can create and send your first email in under thirty minutes. You can reach thousands (or more!) of customers and leads in less time than it takes to watch an episode of Game of Thrones. Sending the right message will even inspire your subscribers to quickly engage with your campaign and act upon your call to action. It’s Focused. Few people enjoy feeling like they’re being marketing to. Email marketing allows you to segment your lists into targeted opportunities which allows you to address the needs and wants of your subscribers and provide them with value. That makes for a happy, engaged audience. It’s Simple. Anyone can succeed with email marketing, no matter their experience. Thanks to email templates and drag and drop email builders, as well as other easy-to-implement tools such as A/B Testing and List Segmentation, the learning curve for email marketing is lower than ever before. Plus, real-time reporting shows you your successes and areas for improvement. When your strategy is properly executed, your campaigns will contribute to managing themselves while freeing you up to plan the next move. It Works. A well-planned email campaign will work to drive traffic to your website, increase sales and create ongoing engagement that leads to loyal customers. In fact, for every $1 spent on email marketing, the Return on Investment is $42 earned. Other marketing opportunities simply don’t see those results, all while creating and building brand reputation. So, now you know why you should be doing email marketing. Now, what’s stopping you? Fear of Not Knowing Where to Get Started In the almost decade that I have been working in the email marketing industry, there is one statement that I hear all too frequently from business owners: “We’re not ready for email marketing yet.” However, the real reason they’re not doing email marketing yet is that they don’t know what to do or afraid they’ll do the wrong thing. The truth is, any business, even before they have officially opened their doors (either at a brick and mortar physical location or on the web), should have an email marketing account. Why? It All Starts with a List An email list is the single most important marketing asset to any business. It’s more important than social media followers and a presence on those sites. After all, those sites could go away one day, and all your hard work would be erased along with your followers on that site. Your list of contacts endures. Plus, you can start growing your list even before you company officially launches. It’s a good idea to place a signup form on your website and Facebook page. Tell people to signup to get updates from the company to begin growing excitement. That reason for that is twofold. On the one hand, it helps you build hype leading up to your launch date. It also helps you hit the ground running once you’re open for business. Upload Your List Many companies have a list of contacts, even if they are new to email marketing. For some, it’s the list of customers with whom you’ve already established a relationship. For others, it’s the leads you’re already nurturing with one-off basic emails or phone calls. It could even be just the friends and family members who you can test your early strategies on. Take what you have to work with and upload it to your email marketing account. Based on the amount of data you have on your list, you may even be able to begin some segmentation. At the very least, it’ll give you your start to email marketing. You have to start somewhere, and even sending to a small audience will help you learn what works. Create a Signup Form After uploading any existing contacts you may have already had, a signup form is going to be your new best friend. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, when asked to opt-in to receive updates for a company, 90% chose to receive an email newsletter. Only 10% elected to get updates via Facebook. This is how your list will grow. From there, you expand your reach, follow-up with leads and build your brand--all while doing nothing more than placing a lead capturing form in the places that people interested in your business may visit. So what goes into a great signup form? Keep It Simple, Stupid. You don’t want anything on your list that will give someone pause before signing up. That means keep it short by not asking for too much information. Do you need more than the email address? Can you get that information or qualify your leads in another way? In most cases, the answer is yes. Set clear expectations for the subscriber. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, it helps convince people to sign up. If they know they’re going to get deals from you or helpful information once a month, they won’t be worried about getting their inboxes bombarded. It also helps you attract the kind of subscribers you want and ones who won’t quickly unsubscribe. Create a strong CTA. It should make your site visitors or social followers feel like they simply have to sign up to hear from you and that they have to act now. Make sure the button is large enough to be easily noticed Again, the button must stand out. Traditionally, red buttons work best, and green is the second most effective. Your CTA copy should not be longer than 40 characters. Use first-person language such as “me” or “my” to help potential subscribers relate better. Now that you know what makes up a great signup form, it’s also important to understand where you should put them. Your homepage is the obvious place to start. Some will place it right smack dab above the fold, as the hero image at the top of their page. These are people whose business relies on capturing email addresses. You can’t miss this signup form on the homepage for by Regina. It helps that they’re offering something for signing up. Any incentive is always helpful. Others may relegate their signup form to a sidebar or footer on the page. Make sure it’s on the top of your sidebar. The further down the page it gets, the fewer subscribers you’ll receive. Yes, the footer is all the way at the bottom of your page. However, if someone gets that far, they’re interested in what you’re doing. That makes for better quality subscribers in most cases. A company like Casper knows you’re not on their website to sign up for their emails. That’s why it makes sense for them to reserve their signup form for their footer. The “Free bedtime reading” copy is very on brand for them. If you want to demand attention, use a pop-up signup form. A website visitor will not be able to miss your signup form when it pops directly into their sightlines. You can’t ignore these savings from TOMS when their signup form pops up in front of your face. Saying “Join Us” is another nice touch. It sounds like you have less on the line to sign up. It sounds more like your helping them in their cause of donating shoes to those in need. Aside from your homepage, here are a few other places you should put a signup form: Your blog. It can even be a separate list from your main list. These people may just want to subscribe to receive email updates when you post new content on the blog. Facebook page. Your social media followers aren’t always your email subscribers or website visitors. Change that. About Us page. For many businesses, the About Us page is among the most visited on their website. Take advantage of the eyeballs on the page! That little bar across the top of your site. You’ve probably seen it on some sites you frequent. There are tools that make it easy. Try Hello Bar or ViperBar. SPF Records and DKIM The phrase SPF Records sounds like it means I have to show proof to my overbearing mother that I wore sunscreen at the beach yesterday. DKIM sounds intimidating as well. They don’t need to be! While these two steps in getting started with email marketing are on the technical side, there are easy to follow instructions on how to do them. But first, let’s understand them. SPF Records SPF stands for Sender Policy Framework. If you’re like me, that doesn’t mean anything. In fact, it makes it more confusing. Simply put, SPF Records allow ISPs and inbox clients to trust the authenticity of your emails. Still lost? Say someone knocks on your door. You look through the peephole to see who it is. SPF Records are the peephole of your email campaigns. One of the most common tricks that spammers run is a phishing scam. They design an email to look like it’s from your bank and use it to gain access to your passwords or other sensitive data. Establishing your SPF Records means the ISP can identify the email campaigns you’re sending. It ensures the best chance of delivery of your email campaigns. To establish your SPF records, you’ll do so with your DNS Manager. If you’re unsure of what a DNS Manager is, you’re not alone. If you’ve purchased a domain name and hosting, you\'ll have access to a DNS manager. If you don’t, whoever runs your website does. Ask them for help. The SPF record for yourwebdomain.com should go in your DNS manager something like this: yourwebdomain.com IN TXT “v=spf1 a mx ip4:1.2.3.4 include:thirdpartyespdomain.com -all” In this example, 1.2.3.4 = the IP Address of your mail server or 3rd party ESP, like Benchmark Email. Also, thirdpartyespdomain.com = the domain of the 3rd party ESP, such as Benchmark Email, or their relay mail server’s domain name. Your ESP will give you this information. Here’s a very helpful FAQ that will help you establish SPF Records with various domain hosts. Additionally, you can get help with your SPF Records on these sites: http://www.openspf.org/SPF_Record_Syntax http://www.openspf.org/FAQ Once you’ve finished establishing your SPF Records, it’s time to test it. You can do so with either of these sites: http://www.mxtoolbox.com/spf.aspx http://www.kitterman.com/spf/validate.html If you’re still lost or confused, you can reach out to the support with your domain host or your ESP. Both will have plenty of resources to help you out. We cannot emphasize enough how important this step is to getting started with email marketing on the right foot. If you need help, just ask! DKIM DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) is another intimidating sounding phrase, but one which is another easy step in setting yourself up for good email delivery from the start. What DKIM does, is grants an organization the responsibility for an email being delivered, which may pertain to your own business or the ESP you’re using … or both! Any ESP will automatically authenticate your emails with DKIM. That’s good news! However, you can take it up a notch and enable a DKIM CName, which gives you double authentication. That means your emails are authenticated as coming from your business, sent through your ESP. This lets the ISPs identify you as the sender and builds your sender reputation with the help of your ESP as your co-signer. This is what you’ll need: CNAME RECORD FOR DKIM: bmdeda._domainkey.yourdomain.net VALUE: bmdeda._domainkey.bmsend.com Here is a very helpful FAQ to assist you with DKIM and various domain hosting companies. For even more on what you can do to improve your email deliverability, check out our guide The Deliverability Formula: 5 Steps to Reach the Inbox.


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