GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips http://blog.getresponse.com Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:57:28 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 20 Ways to Double Your Email Open Rate http://blog.getresponse.com/20-ways-double-email-open-rate.html http://blog.getresponse.com/20-ways-double-email-open-rate.html#comments Wed, 30 Jul 2014 13:57:28 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17379 Everybody knows the importance of building an email list. Without an email list, you don’t have a business. If you build your audience on any social media platform, you are at their mercy. They can change the rules any time, … Read more

20 Ways to Double Your Email Open Rate is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Everybody knows the importance of building an email list. Without an email list, you don’t have a business.

If you build your audience on any social media platform, you are at their mercy. They can change the rules any time, put new restrictions in place, or even ban you from accessing your own data. With email though, you are in control. You get to contact your people any time you want, as many times as you want. You own your list. Nobody can make you do anything you don’t want or take it away from you.

However, by itself, the list has no value. If it did, anybody could go out, buy a list of a few thousand people and become a millionaire.

The money is not in the list. The money is in the responsiveness of your list. Meaning, when you email your list, are people actually opening it? Are they engaging and responding to your calls to action? Are they clicking on your links? What’s your relationship like? Do your email subscribers trust you? Do they look forward to hear from you? Do they respond when you ask them something?

You can’t know any of these things unless you can get your people to actually open your emails. This is why in this blog post, we are looking at ways to dramatically increase your email open rate.

Let’s dive straight in.

#1 Start with your ideal customer persona

Every time you sit down to write an email, picture your ideal customer/client in your head. If your business has more than one profile, think carefully about who you want to target. While many people think each email could potentially appeal to every type of customer, this is not the case. You can greatly increase your open rates just by catering to a specific group.

Now, get out of your own head and slip into their shoes.

When you look at every piece of communication from their point of view, it will be that much more relevant. When you think about your content through their eyes, it will have more impact and resonate more with people fitting your ideal customer profile.

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#2 Address one person in your email

You may be writing to a group of people, and your subscribers know that, but write in such a manner that they feel like as if you are only talking to them. Make every piece of content sound like it’s custom made.

Stop saying things like, ‘all of you …’, or ‘most of you …’.

Just imagine for a second that you are writing to one person only – your ideal customer customer – and when you write to one person, you won’t write as if you are addressing a crowd, would you? Your email would be more personal, more intimate. After all, there is a relationship between you and them. You don’t write emails to strangers, don’t you?

Also, use your actual name in the ‘from’ field. Your readers will know that there is real person writing these emails rather than business entity that they can’t connect with.

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#3 Stop wasting people’s time

Only email when you have something useful to say. Now, this is not an excuse to email sporadically. What it actually means is that you have to become proactive and be on the lookout for anything that might be beneficial to your reader.

It’s fine to send people sales messages, but be upfront about it. Establish a context of commerce from the get go. Let people know that in a relationship with you, not only will you be sending pure information but they should expect to receive promotional emails. When you are more upfront from the very beginning, you attract will the right kind of people and you gain natural interest in your emails. This means that when you launch something or start promoting a product, people still find value in your emails.

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#4 Make sure people get a clear benefit

Think of at least one thing people will walk away with after reading your emails.

It can be a practical, actionable tip they can implement straightaway, or it can be a complete guide – an in-depth resource – they can bookmark and access whenever they need it. It can be a message that deeply resonates. Something that makes them feel heard and they can truly feel like you get them and care.

If you get in the habit of rewarding your people, with every email they come to trust you. They know that it is in their benefit to read your emails. They won’t feel like you only email for your own selfish reasons (to make a sale) and it keeps them at the front and centre while creating content.

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#5 Craft compelling subject lines

People’s inboxes are very crowded spaces and it is becoming harder to get their attention by the minute. By following the tips above, you lay the right foundation to build your email marketing upon, but this tip is purely tactical and the results are also very immediate.

Think about all the emails you see in your own inbox. Which ones make you click? Which ones are so boring or spammy sounding that you hit delete without bothering to open? Take notes.

Write emails that spell a clear benefit or arouse your readers’ curiosity.

Use power words that capture people’s emotions. Use numbers. Point out mistakes because we all want to know where we are going wrong.

Learn from the experts in your field but also don’t be afraid to do your own thing. You don’t have to follow the formula if it doesn’t make sense for your industry or if everybody is doing it. Be different.

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#6 Write engaging emails

Write in your own voice. Show some personality. Ask yourself if what you say in your emails, really does sound like you. Would you say the same thing to a friend?

Ask questions because that’s what happens when you write to a friend. You aim to have a conversation with them and you are genuinely interested in what they have to say. You don’t want to lecture them or talk at them. You want to involve your readers and make them feel part of the conversation.

You don’t want to send overly promotional sales either. Don’t sound hypey in your emails as that never sounds good. Don’t say anything you can’t say to a person’s face.

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#7 Write on the same day

It helps to stay consistent.

Think about your favourite show for a second. Part of what makes it unmissable is that it comes on the exact same day at the exact same time. You get so used to seeing them that your mind expects to see the cast turn up again and again, on the same day, at the same time.

Being consistent will help you keep top of mind and go that extra mile in creating that trust. Your audience expects to hear from you. They are willing and waiting. They anticipate hearing from you and that really helps in reaching more of your audience.

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#8 Format your emails right

How do you want your emails to look? This is a conscious choice you need to make.

You can send more corporate style newsletters if that’s what you prefer. You can send plain text only, if that’s more your style. You can insert images and links, or you can keep it very simple.

Depending on what your audience wants, and by experimenting, you’ll discover what format works best for you. Use that. Don’t use something because everybody else in your industry is doing it or it will become same ol’ same ol’ and this doesn’t serve you very well.

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#9 Use open loops in your emails.

According to Wikipedia, an open loop is a rhetorical device to instill curiosity by creating anticipation for what will come next. This device is sometimes also called a tension loop for the tension and anticipation it creates.

These are like cliff hangers in the movies, the scene just before the break that has you sitting on the edge of your seat. Or the dramatic shots in a movie trailer which have you salivating for the movie.

In your emails, you can create open loops by referring to something you will talk about in the next email. You mention something and promise to talk more about it in another email. However, make sure to always deliver on your promise or this tactic will just come across as a gimmick.

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#10 Resend un-opened emails

This is a very simple tactic but not many people do it.

When you send out an email, keep in mind that not everybody will see it or read it because people are busy. Sometimes the timing is just not appropriate.

The very simple fix to this solution is to resend emails that have not been opened. You can also create a weekly digest and send links to your best content to encourage people to click open.

Especially resend your emails linking to your blog updates. You spend so much time creating that content that it’s a shame if people don’t get to see it just because the timing is not right.

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#11 Always be testing

If you have a decent sized audience, it pays to do a split test.

Send half of your emails with one subject line and the remaining with a different one. People report that sometimes one subject line vastly outperforms the other one – more than double the first time. Meaning, one subject line gets a 20% open rate for example, while the other get over 40%. This is huge and definitely worth testing to see what works better.

Don’t worry if your list size is small. Instead, spend your time creating a relationship with your list.

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#12 Endeavor to know your audience even more

Every time someone subscribes to your list, they are doing so because they feel you can alleviate their fears or help them fulfil their desires. The way to do that is to keep working on understanding your audience at a much deeper level – even more than they know themselves.

Spend time on online forums, create surveys, read book reviews on Amazon, and read industry trade magazines. Don’t forget to have real conversations with your readers and customers. Just ask them and you’ll know what they want from you.

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#13 Refine the sign-up process

Attract the right people in the first place.

Offer an opt-in incentive that attracts your ideal audience. If you attract people who don’t fit your ideal reader and then try to email them on a topic they don’t really find interesting, no matter how much effort you put into your process, it won’t work. The more refined your audience is, the higher your open rates will be.

Save yourself headache and tears. Create the right sign-up freebie and install a double opt-in to make sure people don’t subscribe others without their permission and you get high quality subscribers from the get go.

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#14 Create mobile friendly content

How does your email look on mobile devices?

Do people have to pinch it to read it? Do they have to scroll all the way to the right to finish the sentences? Do the pictures take up most of the screen? Can they read in both plain text and html?

Research shows that a huge number of your audience is checking their email on their smart phones. These people are high maintenance, even more unforgiving then the people who are opening them on desktop. Make sure you optimize your messages for mobile and tiny devices.

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#15 Set up an autoresponder series

When somebody signs up to your email list, they are super interested in hearing from you.

If you don’t contact them immediately with a thank you email, or don’t email again for a while, they will simply lose this enthusiasm. They might forget you altogether.

Set up a series of autoresponder emails that start sending messages when someone signs up. This will ensure that people remember you and get used to receiving and opening emails from you. By getting them to click and open your emails, you are creating a habit. If you continue to email regularly, there is a big chance that they will stick with their habit of opening your messages.

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#16 Remind people why they subscribed

Some people subscribe to too many email lists and if you don’t email them often, they will forget who you are and how you got their address in the first place. It is a good idea to remind people how you know each other. You can insert a block of text which tells people which company this email is coming from and when they subscribed.

Just by re-establishing this relationship, you will be able to prevent deletions and unsubscribes.

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#17 Pay attention to your timing

This tactic requires some common sense and experimentation.

Pay attention to your reader behaviour. If you send too early in the morning, it might get lost amongst a sea of emails coming in. If you send to people in the early evening, and they are working professionals, this might be something that only gets in their way of getting home.

If everybody in your industry sends on the same day, try sending on a different one. Try sending your emails at different times and see what works. Test and you may find a time that has greater success.

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#18 Avoid spam filters

This one is self-explanatory.

Stop using words that trigger spam filters. Avoid using all caps, sloppy html, and too many exclamation points.

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#19 Provide a real address to respond to

Let people know that you genuinely want to hear from them and that their input matters.

Give them a proper address to respond to and not a rubbish looking thing that bounces off every message they try to get back to you. This damages the trust you have been working so hard to create.

If your recipients are not feeling valued, they won’t be inclined to open your emails. Don’t insult them.

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#20 Clean your list periodically 

The easiest way to improve your email open rates? Get rid of the dead weight. Routinely clean your email list.

Target people who haven’t opened your emails in the last 18 months separately. Try to engage them and find out if they are still interested in hearing from you. Segmenting them and targeting them separately will improve your overall open rates.

If you can’t re-engage them, then think about if you really need these people to stay subscribed.

So there you have it.

These are my top twenty tips to double your email open rates. Some of them are tactics which will give you instant results while others work towards building a solid foundation and will give you results over time. Do both.

What would you add to list?

 

20 Ways to Double Your Email Open Rate is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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How to Carry Out an A/B Test http://blog.getresponse.com/carry-ab-test.html http://blog.getresponse.com/carry-ab-test.html#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 13:57:29 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17368 A/B testing is a simple enough concept but one that doesn’t quite get the traction that it deserves. Knowledgeable marketers and designers will utilize this practice as it provides valuable insights into visitor behavior and it can lead to an … Read more

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A/B testing is a simple enough concept but one that doesn’t quite get the traction that it deserves. Knowledgeable marketers and designers will utilize this practice as it provides valuable insights into visitor behavior and it can lead to an increase in conversion rates.

However, even with the marked benefits that this approach has, many businesses avoid (or don’t understand) how to conduct A/B testing successfully. People aren’t properly aware of the process and more importantly they simply don’t know how to use it to their advantage.

In an effort to help you all and to galvanise your marketing efforts, here’s a quick guide and overview to A/B testing.

 

A/B testing is…

Let’s begin with a definition so that we’re all on the same page. Effectively you take two versions of an action with some sort of metric to monitor success. Then you simply determine which version is better.

To gain results you rigorously experiment with both versions at the same time. Using your metric you then judge which one functioned better and then apply that version in the real world.

Online A/B testing isn’t that dissimilar to experiments that you most likely conducted in science class as a kid. You’re attempting to determine the voracity of a specific approach and you’re judging it in relation to another and its success (or lack of).

Effectively the A could be read as the control sample and B is a variant. You then determine a way of measuring both approaches and defining which one works best. You will need a fairly large ‘sample’ size in order to carry out a test effectively and you will need to leave it running for at least a month.

a:b_testing

What to test

An effective A/B test works best if you test one small variable at a time. This can be a variety of things on your home page, landing page or any other page you want to test.

Such as:

  • Color – test one color off against another to see which encourages action. This may sound like it won’t be effective, but it’s surprising how color affects consumer decisions, so don’t dismiss it.
  • Buttons – the color, shape, or placement of an action button can be tested
  • Navigation elements
  • Forms
  • Images
  • Headlines and content
  • Layouts

These days, there’s no real need to get into the maths of it all. You can find software to help you carry out split testing (you can also try GetResponse A/B testing), which makes life much easier than it used to be for this sort of thing.

If you’re testing something based on an action – such as signups – then the amount of signups in this example can be your metric for success. So depending on which sample group signs up the most you’ll then find the more successful variant of your new website and have an informed reason for choosing it.

This is of course a relatively simplistic example but it shows just how easy A/B testing can be. The outcome is a better website and better audience engagement and retainment rates and it’s not really a costly undertaking in terms of time or finances. Effectively it works like a test audience for a movie. You can learn what works and what doesn’t from the people that’ll be using your product or service before that product or service goes live.

 

The testing process

Now that you understand the basic principles of A/B testing it’s time to determine what part of your business you’d like to test. This is perhaps a harder task than it seems as not every business will have new approaches that it wants to put under the microscope.

However, now is as good a time as any to consider your business and challenge any areas that may have become stagnant. Whatever you decide to test though, is contingent on your business and its goals.

An A/B test has a very specific procedure and a clear outcome. Whatever the business process that you need to test an A/B test functions as an advanced version of writing out a list of pros and cons. But it is based on the information and the context that you provide for the test. So be as clear as possible and define exactly what it is that you want to test if you want the process to be successful.

 

An example

Recently, a partner of mine carried out an A/B test on their site navigation. This was done with the thought in mind that often, when given too many choices, people don’t choose at all and simply leave. This was proven in the ‘jam test’, which if you’re not familiar with, you can check it out here.

When it comes to navigation, even the smallest of tweaks can and will have far reaching results. The menu is generally the first place that we look when we arrive on a site as we’re looking to get where we want to go immediately.

This is something that’s discussed widely in UX (user experience) design. Not only should navigation signals be positioned in the area that the user expects, but it should also make use of color and text in order to ensure that it gives the best experience. Something as small as changing the button text to something ‘friendlier’ can have an effect, as found by this test in which an alteration garnered a 47.7% rise in clicks – certainly not to be sniffed at.

In Power Admin’s case, the existing navigation included a whole lot of textual links, as you can see from the image below.

 

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In this design, there’s a lot of text, which could prove too much choice for site visitors, consequently prompting them to leave. With this in mind, the guys decided to change the menu and carry out A/B testing to see if it made any difference to conversions.

 

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So the new menu looks much cleaner and of course, there is a lot less in the way of choice. OK, there are still drop down menus, but this is something that can be addressed if the test proved successful if necessary, or of course a further split test can be carried out.

 

The Results

After test running for a month and a half, it was found that out of more than 10,000 visits, the site gained 12.3% more conversions from those who were presented with the single line menu. This is despite the fact that the new page actually received fewer visits than the old page.

This translates into around 70-80 more conversions each month – also not a number to be sniffed at. Let’s face it, most of us would be happy enough with improving our conversion rate by that much in each month.

 

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These results are encouraging and demonstrate very well how one element on a page can make all of the difference to your site and more importantly, your business. Whilst many people are quite daunted by running a split test, this illustrates how even the simplest thing can be altered and measured in order to deliver actionable results.

Further to that, it’s also an excellent example of keeping it simple, which is one of the most important aspects of testing. Too many people think that since they’re going to the trouble of setting up a test, they may as well test everything in sight – don’t do it folks.

 

Next steps – Your A/B test

Hopefully now you’ve realised that A/B testing isn’t quite the chore that it may have seemed to be. In fact it’s a very useful process and one that can pay big dividends. Knowing your audience, its behaviors, and the way that it relates to your business is incredibly important.

Make sure that you’re testing the control at every point and that you know exactly what your metric for success is before beginning. If you get lost or stuck there’s a very detailed, long, and considered article from Paras Chopra of Smashing Magazine. It’s worth a read and should answer any burning questions you have and perhaps even ones you’ve yet to ask. GetResponse has also prepared a great guide to A/B testing.

A/B testing can have marked benefits for a business and its infrastructures. Determine what you want to test then give it a go. Your audience knows what it wants so give them a choice and remember to listen and act on their opinions.

 

How to Carry Out an A/B Test is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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4 Answers to Moving From Ad-Hoc Email to a Solid Email Calendar http://blog.getresponse.com/4-answers-moving-ad-hoc-email-solid-email-calendar.html http://blog.getresponse.com/4-answers-moving-ad-hoc-email-solid-email-calendar.html#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:57:05 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17358 Want to develop an email strategy, but don’t know how to break free from purely Ad-Hoc email blasts? Planning your emails is a great first step in bringing more structure (and a bit of breathing room) to your email marketing. … Read more

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Want to develop an email strategy, but don’t know how to break free from purely Ad-Hoc email blasts? Planning your emails is a great first step in bringing more structure (and a bit of breathing room) to your email marketing. Last time I wrote about the email marketing calendar, I got  some questions. 

Q1: How far ahead should I plan?

Depending on your industry, you should plan anywhere from six months to a year in advance. Planning for less than six months is too short of a term; you need to establish long-range goals for your email marketing. However, planning for more than a year in advance is probably a waste of time, as your email marketing strategy will likely evolve as it unfolds.

If you have a high send frequency (get your mind blown with numbers on frequency here), don’t be alarmed. The full details of your mails don’t have to be done that far ahead. A rolling 2 or 3 months ahead is perfect (remember that this number depends on the amount  of mails you send out).

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Q2: How do I make my email calendar real-time?

You may wonder how you’ll be able to schedule that far ahead, especially with all that talk about real-time marketing nowadays. It’s not rocket science. Savvy email marketers develop the creative for seasonal campaigns ahead of time, then adjust the specifics / details before deploying. For instance, this email from Nicole Miller addresses the captive audience during a snowstorm. The subject line reads: “Snowed in? Shop our semi-annual sale.”

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Keep in mind that your email calendar is not set in stone. If possible, capitalize all current events. Vermont Teddy Bear sent this email just after the birth of the royal baby, with this subject line: The Royal Baby Has Arrived!

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A great tip is to do the same and have a generic apology template ready for the occasion when you make a mistake.

 

Q3: What about the budget, do I need to schedule that too?

Planning ahead for six months to a full year allows you to take the seasons, vacations, and special events into account. It will also help you estimate costs and distribute your budget over time. Your dollars (and your time), are the lifeline of your calendar, especially if you are setting Email Return on Investment (ROI) goals.

Many companies try to make up revenue shortfalls at the end of each month with email campaigns designed to drive traffic and sales. You may want to pencil in offers such as free shipping or other discounts the last week of each month (you can always omit them if you’re meeting or exceeding your email marketing goals).

You can also adjust specific email campaigns to meet revenue goals. For instance, if you run a free shipping promotion for a week, check the results after a day or two. If you want to boost your ROI, send out a reminder email mid-week, then a “last chance” or “final hours” reminder on the last day of the promotion.

Keep in mind that the bulk of retail revenues are seen during the fourth quarter. During the holiday season, the email campaign pace is fast and furious. You’ll need to reserve a budget — and resources — for this busy time. This brings me to the next question….

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Q4: How to beat the ups and downs of buying cycles planning

Some industries — such as travel, garden, skiing, sunglasses — have clear and consistent buying cycles. Other industries, however, have distinctive high and low sales periods. Whereas B2B email marketing cycles might be looooong. Mark your sales cycles on your email calendar. Whatever the cycle for your industry, you need to have touch points at all stages of the buying process: orientation, research, and decision making.

It’s important to grow your list and consider altering the frequency before and during those periods. Of course, you’ll need to change up your messaging according to the buying cycle. During orientation, you’ll want to send more brand-building messages. During research, your emails should be informational/educational. And during decision making, use strong calls to action to close the sale.

Your own email calendar

Developing an email calendar will help you put your target audience right in the crosshairs of your email campaigns. Because there’s no surefire strategy for all email marketing, you must develop a strategy that’s right for your business. Once you do, you’ll see all your email campaigns fall into place.

 

4 Answers to Moving From Ad-Hoc Email to a Solid Email Calendar is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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There’s a Reason They’re Called Email DEADlines… Don’t Let ‘Em Beat You! http://blog.getresponse.com/theres-reason-theyre-called-email-deadlines-dont-let-em-kill.html http://blog.getresponse.com/theres-reason-theyre-called-email-deadlines-dont-let-em-kill.html#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:37:22 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17349 The advantage of email marketing is that it’s fast. Very fast. You can quickly deploy thousands or millions of emails with the touch of a button. Voilà! They’re in the inbox of your subscriber (provided you have good email deliverability).  … Read more

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The advantage of email marketing is that it’s fast. Very fast. You can quickly deploy thousands or millions of emails with the touch of a button. Voilà! They’re in the inbox of your subscriber (provided you have good email deliverability).  There’s no printing, no media to be bought and no long production lines.  

The drawback to email marketing is that we’re expected to deliver and produce campaigns at a fast-and-furious pace. However, email marketing done right also takes time. How can you balance the need for speed with the need for accuracy and awesomeness? Let’s walk through some steps on how to tame the deadline beast.

 

Is It Really an Emergency?

If there’s no true emergency, don’t treat it like one. Think of it this way: If you get a paper cut, would you run to the emergency room? I think not.

Some situations are emergencies, such as an email sent with an error, incorrect pricing/offer, or website glitches. In those cases, you should have “canned” emails ready to go; you can tweak the specifics as needed. Like I wrote about in the article about crafting your email calendar. Skis.com injects a little humor in this apology email. The subject line reads: OOPS – we didn’t mean to send that last email

 

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The fact that a colleague is hovering over your desk or a client is on the phone is not a true emergency. If the content is delivered after the deadline has passed, it will not be put in the email newsletter. A day late with the input or final approval? Send the email a day later. It’s not the end of the world.

This may seem impossible in your organization, but most often it is entirely possible. This tactic will redirect the problems to where they belong. By sticking to it, you’ll see you don’t have to insist on deadlines as much if contributors know there are consequences.

That’s why it’s so important to have email production policies in place. For example:

  • A standard email broadcast requires X number of days for production.
  • A dynamic email broadcast requires X number of days for production.
  • One round of changes per campaign. Extra rounds of changes are $X each. (This is particularly helpful for use with external clients.)
  • A rush job (anything outside the above parameters) will cost an additional $x, and resources must be available to accommodate the request.
  • Final approval is required X hours prior to deployment. For next-day campaigns, approval required by X p.m. the previous business day.

 

Pad the Production Timeline

Try to set a wider deadline. Even if you don’t need all that time, the day will come when everything goes wrong. Coding and rendering issues, deliverability problems, key personnel getting sick and, on top of everything else, your email tool crashes.

You want to meet your deadlines, especially when you insist that others meet theirs to keep emails on schedule. So make sure you have enough time from the get-go and calculate your timeline, taking into consideration that you’ll need some leeway to troubleshoot issues every now and then.

 

There’s Always a Plan B (Isn’t There?)

Having a back-up plan in place is also a lifesaver. Start by documenting all the steps in your publishing process, who is involved and what they do (you should do that anyway to streamline your process). Next, think of ways to “work around” them if certain steps are unavailable. Have two or three people in place who could perform certain tasks (cross-training for tasks is crucial); develop some evergreen content or offers ready that you can easily publish as a replacement email, etc.

Newsletter

This Just In…

It’s a bit more urgent if your email is waiting for last-minute content like statistics, figures, offers, (business) news or similar types of data. Your best shot is to create another version of the email, not dependent on that information, to publish in case of lagging input. This allows you to test and approve the email in advance. The last-minute content can reside on your website. One step further in the email process, perhaps on a dedicated landing page instead of in the actual email. Remember, web pages can be modified later, even after the email deploys.

 

Defeat the Deadline

If you face crazy email deadlines on a regular basis, make it your priority to get these tactics in place. It will make your life as an email marketer much easier, allow you to perform your job better, and reduce stress. Show those deadlines who’s boss. You need to be in control of the email, not the other way around. That way, the next time you hear the word “deadline,” you won’t think of it as “dreadline.”

 

There’s a Reason They’re Called Email DEADlines… Don’t Let ‘Em Beat You! is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Writing the Perfect Customer Service Email #INFOGRAPHIC http://blog.getresponse.com/writing-perfect-customer-service-email-infographic.html http://blog.getresponse.com/writing-perfect-customer-service-email-infographic.html#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 13:57:00 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17344 A single mishap can destroy a business relationship. Maybe you’ve used many marketing channels to establish, maintain, and nurture long-term relationships with customers and leads – almost on a one-to-one basis. But that single miscommunication can completely destroy your marketing … Read more

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A single mishap can destroy a business relationship. Maybe you’ve used many marketing channels to establish, maintain, and nurture long-term relationships with customers and leads – almost on a one-to-one basis. But that single miscommunication can completely destroy your marketing efforts. How? It often happens when customer service emails are mishandled. Our latest infographic provides best practices for building your company’s reputation and demonstrating reliability even in crisis situations.

The rules for customer support communications are simple and self-evident: to retain customers and safeguard your organization’s reputation, make sure your customer service emails are professional, helpful and emphatic.

But when a complaint requires an immediate response, the rules often escape us. So here’s a helpful refresher.

  1. Respond quickly: For standard inquiries the response time should be within one business day. For urgent matters – respond immediately.
  2. Use plain, polite language: Avoid complicated language and elegant style. Be simple, polite, and genuinely interested in solving the problem.
  3. Use an informative subject line: Include any reference number connected to the inquiry, and mention the subject of the case.
  4. Start with a personal greeting: Show customers you care. Be attentive. Never address your customer as “Valued Customer”, “User” or “Friend”.
  5. Thank the customer for their message: It’s just a standard phrase, but it lets them know you’re glad they got in touch, even for negative feedback.
  6. Restate the problem: Make sure you understand exactly what the complaint is about.
  7. Empathize with the customer: This helps you connect with the customer individually and improves your brand image.
  8. Take responsibility: This builds brand credibility and a reputation for reliability. Never point out that the customer is to blame, even if it’s obvious.
  9. Give concise instructions: Explain exactly how they can help resolve the problem and close the case quickly and successfully.
  10. Set realistic expectations: Never estimate deadlines you won’t be able to meet.
  11. Consider appropriate compensation: Be fair and generous. It works like magic for your brand image.
  12. Provide contact information: In case they need more help, always include direct contact details and times you’re available.
  13. Close with a thank you: This simple practice works wonders, no matter what the problem is.
  14. Provide contact name: Always sign your personal name (not your team) and include your job title.
  15. Check spelling and grammar: Any small error can cost your company a customer — and cost you a career.

In addition to these tips, the infographic provides examples of the right way to handle customer responses.

It takes a little time to incorporate these guidelines in your customer support daily routines. And it takes a pinch of goodwill. But the investment is bound to pay back in countless ways.

What are your ideas and best practices for handling customer inquiries and complaints? Let us know in the comments below.

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20 Ways to Increase Your Sales Page Conversion http://blog.getresponse.com/20-ways-increase-sales-page-conversion.html http://blog.getresponse.com/20-ways-increase-sales-page-conversion.html#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 14:47:12 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17336 Nobody likes to write sales pages. Well, except copywriters, of course! They spend hours and hours writing something that can make or break a product. They are damn good at it, and they charge accordingly. But you are not a … Read more

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Nobody likes to write sales pages. Well, except copywriters, of course! They spend hours and hours writing something that can make or break a product. They are damn good at it, and they charge accordingly.

But you are not a copywriter, because you don’t like writing sales pages. They are no fun for the most part. All the headline madness, the psychological triggers and storylines, who wants to do that?

But sales pages become pretty interesting as soon as they start working. Meaning, you start see cash coming your way, it becomes a whole lot of fun. Now, it’s a different story altogether.

So if you have about to make an offer to your list or if you are launching a product soon, you must realize the importance of a well written, elegantly crafted sales page. If you are just not very good at writing them, and you certainly can’t afford a copywriter at this stage. What a small business owner to do?

Well, you can learn how to spruce up your sales page, get your basics right – that’s what you can do.

And I am here to help.

 

#1 Start with a clear, benefit laden headline

Most copywriters will tell you that they spend a serious amount of time perfecting their headline. They spend hours on it – that’s how important it is.

Your headline should be clear, that’s the most important aspect of it. It needs to spell the benefit and it needs to appeal to your potential buyer. If it fails to get their attention or clearly show that it is for people exactly like them, you will lose people.

If you aren’t sure if your headline is working, ask someone for help.

 

#2 Make a big promise

Don’t be afraid to show your product off. Tell them what it can do for the customer and be bold.

Most small business owners are afraid that they might come across as salesy, slimy, sleazy, or pushy, while the reality is they need to be a bit more assertive.

Don’t sell yourself short. It is not about exaggerating what your product can do, it is about getting your prospect excited. If you are not excited, why would they be?

big_changes

#3 Open with a bang

Your opening needs to capture the attention of your prospect immediately.

Keep it short. Ask a question, make a startling statement, or hit an emotional button. You want to involve the reader instantly. As soon as they read the first sentence, the second and so on… they are hooked. They want to know what’s in it for them and they are prepared to spend time to find out.

Empathize with your potential customers. Say you understand what it’s like to be them and spell out their problem clearly. Connect with them emotionally. You can also start off by asking them what they want. For example, ‘Do you want more time, energy or money?’

 

#4 Describe their problem in detail

You might have heard this before, ‘agitate their problem’.

Now this doesn’t mean that you twist the knife in. We don’t want you to become the bad guy who would put salt in people’s wounds to make a quick buck. This is not the point here. The point is to let them know you get them. If they see that you understand their situation (their problem), they will be much more open to listening (or reading) what you have to say.

People want to see if they will benefit from what you are offering. They want to know if your solution is applicable to their situation. The more detail you go into describing the problem, the clearer it becomes for the prospect.

 

#5 Paint a picture of what is possible

Not only do you show them that they have a problem, you have to remind them that they have to fix it now.

Show them what their world would be like when they use your product. How it will get easier, simpler, and richer. If it helps save them time, talk about what they can do with this 5 extra hours in a week. Would they finally take the vacation they have been waiting for? Would they spend more time with their kids? Would they volunteer in the community? Would they take up a hobby?

When your prospect sees themselves using your product in their head, they have already bought this in their mind.

 

#6 Show what makes you different

Lots of people are after your exact target audience. They are offering similar products. There is a ton of competition in the market. Why would the prospect buy from you?

Don’t forget to weave your USP (unique selling proposition) throughout the sales page. Let them know what makes you different. What makes you more qualified to help them and why you are the right choice. Tell your story. Tell them why you do it.

 

#7 Is your offer crystal clear?

The biggest mistake new business owners make, is that they kill their products with their offers which are very unclear. Nobody is going to buy from you if they are confused.

What is it exactly that your buyer gets when he buys from you?

‘Ebook that helps you get unstuck’. ‘A 6 month diet plan’. ‘3 hours of consulting’.

What do all of those things actually mean? Tell them the details of the offer, what and how (the delivery)? Tell them the benefits they will get as a result of using your product.

 

#8 List all the benefits and features of your product

“Sell the sizzle … not the steak.” Elmer Wheeler, Master Salesman.

This is the ultra-popular saying that suggests that you sell the benefits and not the features. So what is the difference between benefits and features?  Features describe your product while benefits are the results of using your product. For example, a one hour coaching on Skype with recording and transcript provided after. These detail the features of this service.

The benefits would be that your client gets clarity on what is stopping them from achieving their ideal weight. They get to discover the reasons that are sabotaging their success and get two action steps that they can start implementing from the next day.

 

#9 Answer all the objections 

You get the sale when you remove every bit of fear in your prospect’s mind.

Every time, a potential buyer is reading your sales page, there are tons of questions racing through his mind. For example:

  • “Will this product work for me?”
  • “Will it be too hard to use?
  • “Will it take too much of my time?”
  • “Will it do what it’s promising?”
  • “It seems quite pricey. Wonder if I can find something cheaper?”
  • “What happens if I don’t like it?”

Make a list of all the reservations a prospect might have and address them all in your sales copy. Make them very really confident about the choice they are making.

getting_leads

#10 Make a clear call to action

Congratulations. You have kept the prospect engaged all this time and now they are at the end of the page and ready to buy. Tell them what to do next.

Use appropriate language. Do you want them to click on the button and buy something? Do you want them to enrol in your program? Do you want them to sign up for a live class?

Repeat the most important information (the terms of your offer) and lead them to close the sale. Make this step as simple and easy as can be. You want to minimize the number abandon carts as much as possible.

 

#11 Remove the risk

What is your guarantee?

When you offer a rock solid guarantee, what you are essentially saying is that you stand behind your product 100%.

Sometimes that is all what it takes for people to say yes. They like you, they like your offer, but they aren’t 100% convinced for whatever reason. When you say they can ask for a full refund within 30 days, no questions asked, you remove all risk associated with this purchase decision.

You help their make up their mind and hit the Buy Now button.

 

#12 Pay attention to its length

How long does your sales page need to be?

It depends on the kind of traffic you are hoping to attract. If you are writing a sales page for your own audience, it doesn’t need to be super long. These people know, like, and trust you and you don’t have to spend lot of time convincing them to pay attention to or purchase from you.

If on the other hand, you are writing for cold traffic (people who don’t know you), you may have to go longer. Depending on how much authority you have, your social proof and rave reviews, you will make your final decision.

In any case, never skimp over any important information, but at the same time never let your sales letter drag on. It only has to be as long as it needs to be. Be concise while giving complete information. Edit ruthlessly.

Remember, your will price affect the length of your copy as well, generally the more expensive a product is, the longer is the sales page.

 

#13 Make sure it sounds like you

Another way you can create trust and help  differentiate yourself from others is by using your personality on your sales page. Don’t use any language that you wouldn’t use your in real life. Don’t write anything that you can’t say to a friend.

Most people copy what others have done and what seems to be working for their competitors. But it doesn’t work for them and they never see the same results for themselves because everybody is doing it. Instead, be yourself and give people a chance to get to know the real you.

This is why it works so much better when you write the sales page yourself and get it tweaked by a professional. If you want to hire someone, make sure they can capture your style and your essence of who you are.

 

#14 Pay attention to its formatting

Effective formatting is critical for the success of your sales page. You don’t want people to get distracted at any point. Remove anything that will be a turn off and will make people close it.

Remove all links from the sales page. You don’t want people clicking away. Keep it simple and elegant. Get rid of the red headline and yellow highlighted text. You also don’t need any fancy graphics or other images that will divert your prospect’s attention.

Pay attention to the width of the page. The wider it is, the harder it becomes to read on the screen. Your eyes get tired from moving from end to the other.

Choose fonts that are easy to read on the screen, like sans serif (Arial or Helvetica). Don’t choose light coloured font on a dark background (like white on black).

 

#15 Hire a professional proof reader

This one is pretty straightforward. You can get away with a typo or two in your blog posts, or even in your emails, but make sure your sales page looks totally professional. Hire a proof reader to catch all the grammatical errors, typos, and awkward phrasing.

If you can’t be trusted to put out an error-free sales page, how good will your product be? People will judge you. Be careful.

headine

#16 Add an element of scarcity or sense of urgency

Unless you are offering an evergreen product, your sales page will benefit from adding elements of scarcity or urgency.

  1. Scarcity comes in when only so many people can enroll into a live class, or the product is limited edition, or a program is so exclusive that you have to apply to get in.
  2. Urgency is when the product is not released for another six months, the price goes up in a few days, or there early bird bonuses for people who take action early.

Both are very potent mental triggers so don’t be afraid to use them in your copy.

 

#17 Stack value and bonuses

Add even more value. Add highly relevant bonuses.

You want to make your offer so irresistible that it becomes impossible to refuse. Over deliver on every count and you will have raving fans and customers for life.

 

#18 Justify the price

When you stack the value and add bonuses, you make your price irrelevant. The price becomes the most reasonable thing in the world.

In addition to that, you can also frame your price. Compare it to high ticket items to show how much value they are getting and how much they save by snapping it up now. Show them what a great deal it is. Make it a no-brainer.

 

#19 Sprinkle testimonials throughout your copy

Social proof is a pretty powerful thing.

I remember a speaker starting their talk and nobody’s really paying attention, until they reached their ‘Who am I’ section and started showing pictures of them with influential people and celebrities like Oprah, Richard Branson, Bill Clinton, and Deepak Chopra. All of a sudden the whole energy in the room shifted. Immediately, the attendees starting to take this person seriously – very, very seriously.

Your customer testimonials and peer reviews do the same thing within your sales copy. Prospects see these words from real people, like themselves, and all of a sudden the trust in you and your product goes to whole new level.

Use strategically placed testimonials that don’t work against the flow of your sales copy.

sale_page

#20 Tell people who this is for and who this isn’t for

Lastly, don’t hesitate to let people know who are not a right fit for your offering. And make it legitimate.

Don’t say it is not for people who are looking for shortcuts, who are not willing to work hard, who are sleazy marketers. No. Nobody is going to think to themselves and say, ‘hmm, I am so lazy. I want to steal money from others, this is not for me.’

Who this is not for, really? People over a certain age? People with certain health issues? People who aren’t self-employed? People in a certain location? People who can’t commit to working 10 hours per week? When you do this, you are actually giving even more confidence to the people who fit your ideal customer profile and this a great thing.

Your sales page is almost never complete. Keep testing and tweaking it. Even when it has been published, pay attention to people’s behaviour. Is there anything confusing them? Ask for feedback from actual users.

And nail your sales letter – every single time.

 

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How to Use Google Analytics Effectively http://blog.getresponse.com/use-google-analytics-effectively.html http://blog.getresponse.com/use-google-analytics-effectively.html#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 14:03:35 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17323 For any business with a web presence understanding how traffic works and where it comes from is incredibly important. Google Analytics is a free (and powerful) solution that provides a wealth of information about how well a website is functioning. … Read more

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For any business with a web presence understanding how traffic works and where it comes from is incredibly important. Google Analytics is a free (and powerful) solution that provides a wealth of information about how well a website is functioning.

A business can use Google Analytics to determine how much traffic is coming to its website, where that traffic comes from, and what visitors are doing once they are on the site. Google’s tool works pretty simply by tracking “tags” – a small piece of JavaScript code that needs to be installed on every page of a business’ website.

The tag effectively pulls data and collates it within a reports page in the Google Analytics admin interface. Here, a business can set up multiple reports for multiple websites within a given account.

Let’s consider Google Analytics in some more depth and how it could benefit your business and its understanding of traffic sources to its website.

 

Time Metrics

 

Time metrics

This is a way for a business to monitor how long visitors are staying for, where Google calculates an average length of time for those visitors. Businesses can use this data to understand what keeps a visitor on its site, but also what makes visitors leave – this is perhaps the most important area for a business to consider.

You want visitors to stay and click around on your website – the longer that those visitors stay on your site, the better the chance that they will become purchasers of your products and services.

 

Traffic Sources/Acquisitions

 

Acquisitions

This information is incredibly important to a business and its marketing efforts. Knowing where your visitors come from ensures that you can better target those locations and provide better links and more streamlined traffic options to your website.

It’s worth exploring traffic sources in much more detail and your marketing department would do well to define the different kinds of traffic arriving at your website. Your business would do well to understand what constitutes quality traffic, how to identify revenue and conversion drivers, what kinds of information to look for in keyword reports, and how campaign attribution functions within Google Analytics.

 

Google Analytics – a great free tool

 

Audience

There are plenty of things to champion when it comes to Google Analytics. The program will track geographical data, gender, age, IP addresses and much more. This is ideal for discovering if you are actually hitting your target audience. You can then more accurately create content targeting the customers that you want. From the screenshot above, you can see that there are many more male visitors, which is about right for this particular business.

 

Content Drill down

 

content_breakdown

The majority of businesses now use content to help market their company and drive traffic to the site. This can be distributed in a variety of ways including through email newsletters and social media. Knowing which pages are receiving the most attention can really help you to hone your message and further target customers in your ideal demographic.

 

Using keywords

Keywords and phrases is the most important consideration a business can make when it determines that it wants to achieve better web rankings and increase traffic to its website. A business should conduct keyword research and determine words that it wants to be ranked by. The keywords should relate to your niche and be ones that your ideal customers are likely to search Google for.

You can measure both paid and organic keywords in Analytics and whilst the ‘not provided’ issue is an irritating one with regard to organic keywords, if you use AdWords then it can help you to discover which are performing well and which aren’t.

 

Bounce Rate

The other important consideration relates to the time that visitors spend on your site and how quickly that they leave – this is known as the bounce rate. If you notice a lot of visitors arriving and then leaving your site very quickly you have a problem that needs addressing. The higher your bounce rate, the quicker people are leaving; however, it’s worth pointing out that if your blog gets a lot of attention, this can give a high bounce rate that’s not necessarily accurate.

Bounce rate

 

The bounce rate shouldn’t be confused with the exit rate though, the latter of which is the percentage of visitors that left the site from a specific page. The bounce rate is the percentage of single page visitors that your site receives.

If you have a high bounce rate, then you can reduce it using a variety of tactics. Before you do this though, let’s have a look at the benchmark averages for bounce rates, according to Google itself.

  • Content sites: 40-60%
  • Lead generation: 30-50%
  • Blogs: 70-98%
  • Retail sites: 20-40%
  • Service sites: 10-30%
  • Landing pages: 70-90%

As you can see, even Google acknowledges that the bounce rate is high for blogs. The reason for this is that Analytics doesn’t measure the actual time that’s spent on each blog post, but rather that the visitor has only visited one page. There is a way of addressing this by tweaking the tracking code and creating an event when a visitor spends more than a set amount of time on a page.

The modified code looks something like this in Google Analytics (note: this is not the correct code for Universal Analytics).

<script type=”text/javascript”>

var _gaq = _gaq || [];

_gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXXXX-1']);

_gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);

 setTimeout(“_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', '15_seconds', 'read'])”,15000);

(function() {

var ga = document.createElement(‘script’); ga.type = ‘text/javascript’; ga.async = true;

ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;

var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’)[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);

})();

</script>

I’ve highlighted the necessary line in red and this is where you can specify how much time the visitor needs to stay on the site for until they are not counted as a bounce.

In Universal Analytics, you will have to take the following steps to implement this:

  1. Create a new custom tag in UA and set it as Custom HTML tag (call it whatever you like)
  2. Add the below code into the HTML field

<script>

setTimeout(“dataLayer.push({ ‘event’: ‘GAEvent’, ‘eventCategory’: ‘NoBounce’, ‘eventAction’: ‘Over 30 seconds’ })”, 30000);

</script>

  1. Add {{event}} equals gtm.dom as the ‘firing rule’
  2. Save tag and container and publish.

An article by Justin Cutroni sets out in detail how to create events that more accurately track how your users engage with your content which is well worth checking out.

You will need to set up and configure Custom Dimensions and Metrics before you can implement the code if you want to use it though. For full instructions on how to do this, take a look at the article, which contains full instructions.

The technique and code that the author has created uses events to track when a pages loads and the user has scrolled more than 150 pixels down the page. It also tracks when the user gets to the bottom of the content and page.

Event tracking

 

The script allows you to see the difference between a scanner and a reader, based on how long it takes them to get to the bottom of the page.

So if you have a high bounce rate and it’s not the blog’s fault, what can you do to reduce it? Firstly, try to understand what it is that’s making visitors leave. There are plenty of reasons that they might, which include:

  • Poor navigation
  • Lack of search facility
  • Low quality content such as poorly spelled written content or glitchy video
  • Pop-up windows
  • Site speed
  • Site not mobile friendly
  • Poor design
  • Over-abundance of or poorly placed advertisements

All of these can be discussed with your design and are essentially user experience (UX) issues. Modern web users are pretty demanding and if they land on a site that is slow to load, or if they can’t immediately find what they’re looking for, they will leave.

 

Powerful Business Intelligence

Use Google Analytics to check the voracity of your site and to ensure that your content is ranking you highly in Google’s search results. Make sure that you target relevant keywords that reflect your business, its brand, and its niche. Consider what’s working on your site and what isn’t, then adjust your marketing targets and budget accordingly.

Google Analytics is both a powerful and important program for a business to use to monitor its website and its success. The data provided by Google Analytics cannot be underestimated and as it’s a free program there’s really no reason why your business shouldn’t utilise the service. This article doesn’t even really scratch the surface of what it can do but serves as a good introduction to finding your way around the software.

 

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Grid Planning your Email Newsletter Layout http://blog.getresponse.com/grid-planning-email-newsletter-layout.html http://blog.getresponse.com/grid-planning-email-newsletter-layout.html#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:03:27 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17306 Designing your email newsletter has always been an art. Well maybe we also need to add a bit of science and a lot of common sense. But it is still an art; there are so many choices you can make … Read more

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Designing your email newsletter has always been an art. Well maybe we also need to add a bit of science and a lot of common sense. But it is still an art; there are so many choices you can make in content, timing, personalization. Also the way the final email will look can have many variations. We all know the presentation of your mail can have big impact on your results and conversions, but the effectiveness of your email newsletter begins one step before that: by planning your email layout.

.

The link between strategy and newsletter design briefing

For a company it is essential to have the email representing your strategy. Normally you would go and talk about your ideas with a designer, agency, freelancer. But not having your ideas visualized yet, makes it hard to get the concept across and even harder when you need to discuss it internally with colleagues who are “email marketing challenged”.

If you are a do-it-yourself type of person, you could for instance directly start with a premade template. And sure be inspired be some great examples of email newsletters. But I would argue there is merit in thinking it through first, and not copying too  much of someone else’s email newsletter design. Avoid the danger of going into the details too quickly. It can’t hurt to think first, and maybe afterwards you can find that template that perfectly matches your wishes.

grid_planning

Grid Planning

So how to strike the balance between ideas and layout? In this post I would introduce the idea of Grid Planning as one of the ways to start designing your emails. Not to be confused with the Gmail Grid view. Grid Planning is a great way to brief a designer or an agency. With a rough Grid Plan you allow some design inspiration / freedom, but at the same time you will also get all the elements you want.

.
How does Grid Planning your email work?

First off, it isn’t rocket science but that is also the beauty of it. It can be done by anyone, even if you have no ecstatic or design bone in your body.

1. Define what the main goal and desired actions / outcomes of your mail are. The outcomes should be monitored as Key Performance indicators (KPIs for short)

2. Now you determine the different elements your would like to see in the email. An effective email has an anatomy:  the header, navigation bar, articles, paragraphs, images and footer. Oh, and don’t forget a strong Call to Action. These would be blocks inside your final layout. Write down what elements and items you want, in text and add why (as much as possible).

So far so good. Now that we know what our elements will be; here comes the Grid.

3. Think of a grid as squared paper.  On this Grid you can a plan the layout of your emails with all the elements you defined in the previous steps to be in there.  This allows you easily plan a visual hierarchy in your layout, without being ‘distracted’ by assumptions or details in design.

  • Which elements go on top, middle, bottom?
  • How big are the elements in relation to each other?
  • Will you be using a one column or two column design?
  • Are there differences between content and action blocks?
  • Which elements could be stripped / removed?

The most important elements should be emphasised and placed on the most eye-catching positions, maybe you could already see the outlines (get it?) of a stairway of mirco-yesses. Making your newsletter clear and persuasive from the start.

grids

Mobile Grid

A big chunk (up to 75%) of your emails are read on mobile these days, so keeping mobile in mind during design is a must. Just being aware of the possibilities of mobile email can help you get it right. Mobile asks for a second grid layout (for the same email template), but the beauty of Grid Planning is that the original is easily translated to mobile.

Plan for blocks and images to move, be  replaced or resized if needed – especially for the smartphone. Some people choose responsive email design and maybe remove link items from the navigation bar or show a two columns design as one column on smartphones.  Thank god we already prioritized the most important elements of our email!

Planning on a Grid has similarities to what in web and email design is called Wireframing. In wireframes though, you would add more details, while Grid Design could be seen as one step before.
Grid planning can easily be done on paper or a digital equivalent of that. I have seen people mis-use excel or even tables in word documents, ah what the heck as long as it works. ☺

In short, Planning your email in a Grid:

  1. Focusses on the discussion: Which elements are important, how many do we have and where are they placed.
  2. Is perfect for design briefings and very easy to do
  3. leaves designers (or yourself) enough freedom further down the line.

 

Grid Planning your Email Newsletter Layout is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Keeping Your Subscribers Longer Than a Day http://blog.getresponse.com/keeping-subscribers-longer-day.html http://blog.getresponse.com/keeping-subscribers-longer-day.html#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:07:02 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17298 ‘Til Unsub Do We Part. The relationship between email marketers and their subscribers is a lot like marriage. You go through a courting phase (signup)… a honeymoon phase (welcome program)… a rut phase (when interest is lost)… but hopefully not … Read more

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‘Til Unsub Do We Part. The relationship between email marketers and their subscribers is a lot like marriage. You go through a courting phase (signup)… a honeymoon phase (welcome program)… a rut phase (when interest is lost)… but hopefully not a divorce (unsubscribe) phase.

KISS: Keep It a Simple Signup

A healthy relationship requires clear communication. That’s why your email signup form must be crystal clear. This is especially important if the signup is attached to another action. You’ve probably seen checkboxes for newsletter signups on (customer) registration forms when downloading a white paper, customer support contact forms or with co-registration (when someone signs up to your newsletter via another website).

You can simply insert a checkbox that allows users to choose if they want to receive your newsletter. Or include a generic statement such as the one below:

“By checking this box you give us permission to contact you concerning information on our products/services.”

What are you really signing up for? Will a sales rep call you on your phone? Even if a phone call is your goal, you should state it outright or give the user the option to be contacted. It will save the sales team a lot of unnecessary and unpleasant calls.

Other, more ambiguous versions include:

  • Check this box if you don’t want to receive our newsletter.
  • Uncheck this box if you don’t want to receive our newsletter.

These two are simply confusing. An uncertain subscription can lead to an immediate unsubscribe, which defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

subscribership

Is s/he really into you?

Your email list is like a dating pool. You’ve got a lot of prospects to flirt with via email. But do all those new signups have the quality you seek in a subscriber? Do the new subscribers really want to receive your emails? That is interesting to find out. Learning more about their wants and needs on the second and third date will allow you to be more specific in your messaging and have them be totally in love.

 

Make good on your vows

Managing expectations is the most important thing you can do in the email marketer/subscriber relationship. As with any relationship, honesty is the best policy. This includes stating how often you’ll be emailing them and what your content will be. Draft a (bulleted) list with the primary benefits of subscribing to your newsletter. This both “sells the subscription” and sets the expectations. An example for a fashion retailer might be:

  • Get the scoop on the latest fashion and style tips
  • See — and purchase — new styles before everyone else
  • Be on the A-List for invitations to members-only shopping nights
  • Receive email-exclusive discounts & deals

You must uphold the promises you make, and quickly, as you don’t have much time to prove your worth. It’s a good idea to include one of your benefits (a tip, invitation, discount, etc.) in your automated welcome email, sent immediately after subscription. Or cut to the chase and include it on the “thank you” landing page once the signup form is submitted.

This welcome email from Caribou Coffee does it all – sets expectations and immediately delivers on its promises. As a bonus, it asks the subscriber to set preferences:

 

caribou

The honeymoon phase

So now you’re both basking in the glow of this new email relationship. You’re excited about the potential for a long-term commitment. They’re excited about the prospect of new offers and more. Right now, everything is new to them and life is good. If, however, you fail to deliver rich, relevant content, the honeymoon will be over sooner than later.

 

The 7-month itch?

Just because subscribers remain on your list, that doesn’t mean they’ll remain faithful. They are “cheating” on you by receiving email promotions from other companies, even your competitors.

Depending on the frequency of your emails, your subscribers could be disengaging at the 1-month mark (daily emails), 7-month mark (weekly emails), or at some other interval. To avoid being jilted, you can keep them from straying by sending emails with value, emails that are useful to recipients, that are correctly timed and that recipients enjoy receiving. It is interesting to look at your file and see at what point your subscribers start to tune out (and if there are certain groups that tune out faster than others).

locking-in-customers

Emotional Detachment

Inactive subscribers may have emotionally unsubscribed from your list. How do you detect the telltale signs of emotional detachment? It starts with non-opens and the accompanying lack of activity (i.e., click-throughs). Your email will end up in a mail folder seldom checked or the worst-case scenario, being flagged by the user with the spam button. Unengagement can lead to deliverability issues.

 

Build a lasting relationship

Remember, your relationship begins with that first impression, so make it a good one. Like marriage, the email marketer/subscriber relationship takes work. Don’t take your new subscribers for granted. Show them how much you appreciate them, make them feel special. A little subscriber love can go a long way when it comes to building your relationship… and your list.

 

Keeping Your Subscribers Longer Than a Day is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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How to Use Open Graph Tags for More Traffic http://blog.getresponse.com/use-open-graph-tags-traffic.html http://blog.getresponse.com/use-open-graph-tags-traffic.html#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:07:50 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17288 Given how drastically Facebook reach has declined in the last year, who doesn’t want to regain some of their Facebook investment? Open Graph tags make it easy. You can even get 50-250% more traffic from Facebook! But before we dive into … Read more

How to Use Open Graph Tags for More Traffic is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Given how drastically Facebook reach has declined in the last year, who doesn’t want to regain some of their Facebook investment? Open Graph tags make it easy. You can even get 50-250% more traffic from Facebook!

But before we dive into exactly how to implement open graph tags, take a look at what they’ve done for some businesses:

  • Tumblr increased its traffic from Facebook 250% after it implemented open graph tags
  • Neil Patel increased his Facebook traffic by 174%
  • ebook service Kobo got a 50% increase

 

What are open graph tags?

Basically, open graph tags are like meta tags for social media. Facebook created them back in 2010. They are part of the data markup structure you can see in Facebook graph search, but you can use them far beyond the basic graph search function.

There is one significant difference between open graph tags and traditional meta tags: Keywords. Open graph tags are for people, not bots, so you don’t have to spend as much time squeezing keywords in as you would for search engine meta tags.

While you don’t need to optimize your open graph tags for keywords, consider this: Social media content is getting picked up by the search engines more and more, so it pays to optimize even your social media posts for search. Just do it lightly… very lightly.

technology

What do Open Graph tags do?

They let you control how your posts appear on Facebook and other social media platforms. You can control how images or videos appear, create custom post titles and descriptions, specify a location or a language, and even link to Facebook apps like comments. And that’s only a short list.

Generally, those double and triple improvements in Facebook traffic come from getting images right – getting the correct image to show, and getting it to show at a size that makes a difference. One recent success story from Marmara, a travel company, came about by defining the feature “image” of a post to be a video instead of an image.

But open graph offers enough refinements that images aren’t the only part of the story.

Here’s a post about an event before it had open graph tags:

mitx-share-fb

 

Here’s that same post after open graph tags:

mitx-event

The code that makes it happen

Let’s take a look at just a bit of what the open graph code looks like. If code makes you panic, don’t worry – I’ve got a short list of plugins later on to ensure you only have to look at this code once.

Here are the basic open graph tags, and their formatting for a movie:

<meta property=”og:title” content=”The Matrix” />

<meta property=”og:type” content=”video.movie” />

<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://content6.flixster.com/movie/11/16/80/11168096_800.jpg” />

<meta property=”og:image:width” content=”800″ />

<meta property=”og:image:height” content=”1200″ />

<meta property=”og:url” content=”http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/matrix/” />

<meta property=”og:description” content=”Critics Consensus: An ingenious combination of Hong Kong action, ground-breaking Hollywood FX, and an imaginative vision.” />

 

Here are some more advanced tags:

<meta property=”video:release_date” content=”1999-03-31″ />

<meta property=”video:duration” content=”136″ />

<meta property=”video:director” content=”http://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/andy_wachowski/” />

<meta property=”video:actor” content=”http://www.rottentomatoes.com/celebrity/keanu_reeves/” />

 

If you want to see everything you can do with open graph tags, visit the Open Graph Protocol website, or check out Facebook’s open graph tags documentation.

 

5 free open graph plugins

If your site is on WordPress, you can skip all the coding and use one of these five  free plugins:

1) WordPress SEO by Yoast 

This do-it-all SEO plugin has a lot going for it far beyond just open graph tags, but it’s also great for adding the open graph tags needed to make your social media posts pop. See a discussion of how to optimize open graph tags in WordPress SEO here.

2) WP Facebook Open Graph protocol.

This widely used open graph plugin got Neil Patel’s blessing as the go-to choice for an open graph plugin. It works with Facebook, Google Plus, and Linkedin.

3) webZunder Open Graph Plugin. This new plugin might be worth a try – it focuses more on Google+ than any other open graph tool, but there’s a big drawback – they recommend disabling any other plugin that uses Google Authorship, Twitter cards or Open Graph tags.

4) WP Open Graph.

This plugin hasn’t been updated in a year, so proceed with caution, but several people have gotten this to work when no other plugin would. It’s a bit simpler than some of the other plugins here, which can be very helpful if other open graph plugins have been creating conflicts with your other pre-existing plugins.

5) Open Graph Metabox 

Need an even more stripped-down open graph plugin? This is about as simple as they come. It gives you an interface to type in your open graph content, and then just formats that content into open graph tags in your pages.

Once you’ve defined your tags, use the Facebook debugger to make sure everything looks good.

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Not just for Facebook

As you have probably guessed from the plugin descriptions, Open Graph tags aren’t just for Facebook anymore. Most of the major social media platforms have adopted them, or will use open graph tags as a fallback if the social platform can’t find the preferred tag format.

Open Graph tags for Twitter cards

Twitter cards do require some tweaks to use existing open graph tags, but you’ll save time if you’ve already got open graph tags set up. Also, if Twitter can’t find the tags it prefers, it will use Open Graph tags, so you might be able to skip a full Twitter card implementation if your open graph tags are set just right.

Twitter’s documentation for open graph tags is here: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/cards/getting-started#open-graph 

The Twitter card validation tool is here: https://dev.twitter.com/docs/cards/validation/validator

Open Graph tags for Pinterest

If you’re using Pinterest’s rich pins, you’re also at an advantage. You can easily adjust Open Graph tags or Schema.org markup to match the oEmbed endpoints that are Pinterest’s preferred format.

Get all the details about exactly how to integrate open graph tags into your rich pins. Scroll about 40% down the page to see the open graph instructions and code examples.

Test your pages in the Rich Pins validator here:

http://developers.pinterest.com/rich_pins/validator/

Open Graph tags for Google+

Google prefers Schema.org microdata markup, but it does support the open graph title, image, and description tags. See this Google developer page for guidance on how to format open graph tags for Google+. Then use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to make sure everything looks right.

So that’s the basics on how to get started with open graph tags. Have you used them yet? Did you see anything like a 50-250% increase in Facebook traffic to your site?

How to Use Open Graph Tags for More Traffic is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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20 Ways to Skyrocket Your Reader Engagement http://blog.getresponse.com/20-ways-skyrocket-reader-engagement.html http://blog.getresponse.com/20-ways-skyrocket-reader-engagement.html#comments Wed, 16 Jul 2014 14:34:52 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17273 Sometimes you publish a post and put all your heart and soul into it and it falls flat. Sometimes the opposite happens. Something goes viral and you had no idea this would happen. Readers, eh? Who knows what they like? … Read more

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Sometimes you publish a post and put all your heart and soul into it and it falls flat. Sometimes the opposite happens. Something goes viral and you had no idea this would happen. Readers, eh? Who knows what they like? What pleases them? What sort of content do they want to like, tweet, pin, or +1?

As it turns out, it is not a matter of pure luck after all (unless you want to count those baby or cat videos that go viral on YouTube, then it might be luck). There are things you can do to make sure you give your blog post the best chance of success. It’s not out of your control.

While there is no proven formula for a blog post that will engage your readers, entice them into commenting and sharing, all the successful posts do seem to have a fair bit in common.

They do have things in common that you can apply to your blog post and see it soar. You just have to do this consciously and diligently. You have to do it over and over again, and stay consistent.

So where are these things exactly? I am glad you asked. I have made a list – a checklist of sorts – to keep handy every time you publish something. Especially if your goal is to connect with your audience, your objective is for your work to resonate and make a deep impact.

Here’s how you do it:

 

#1 Always write for your ideal audience

You might be sick of hearing this advice by now but this is the ultimate truth. You can’t write a post and hope that it will appeal to every single person on this earth. That would be ludicrous.

You have to choose a specific reader when you are writing to them. If your business caters to more than one kind of person, then make a conscious choice. Is it going to be a mum of two young children or a corporate executive? If you try to please both, you will end up pleasing none.

Your ideal customer profile should be so specific that you can actually imagine that person sitting across you. You know what they like and what they don’t. You are writing from a place of service and you truly want to help this work. Picture this person clearly and you will make a deeper connection.

headlines

#2 Choose the right headline

Some people throw their arms up in defeat and say that they are no good at writing headlines. Some people like to copy others and create formulaic headlines without paying attention to their ideal audience and the industry they are in.

Can you imagine writing a headline that you would come across on a marketing blog for an audience of highly spiritual people. Do you use the word ‘abundance’ when writing a headline for a group of designers or use the word ‘killer’ when writing for the people who practice law of attraction?

Always pay attention to what works in your industry first. See what sort of posts get attention on social media platforms. Make a swipe file and collect these headlines for inspiration. This will make your job so much easier.

Always remember, either go for arousing curiosity in the reader or list straight up benefits of reading your post, and you won’t go wrong. The job of a headline is to get attention, and once you do that you have other things you can focus on.

 

#3 Write in a conversational tone

How many articles get passed around that are dry, drab, and written in an academic style?

Not many, right?

This is for a reason. People want to feel like they are being part of a conversation. They want to hear from a friend. They don’t want to be lectured. If you are still writing in a corporate style for on your company blog, full of jargon and mumbo jumbo that nobody cares about, let alone understand, how fast can you stop?

If you genuinely can’t write like that, imagine receiving a question from a reader or a customer that you can answer on the phone only. Then say it out loud and watch your language. Have it transcribed and edit it for brevity and clarity. Not only is this  conversation, this is you. This is your truest voice and people love hearing from live humans.

 

#4 Use the word ‘you’ liberally

‘You’ is one of the most persuasive words in English language. Use it.

Many people are still writing in first person, meaning they use words like, ‘I, we, …’ in their work. While it is okay to write a piece and focus on your point of view, for example, when you are telling a personal story, or talking about lessons learned, address your reader in your content.

You will see your engagement increase many times over.

 

#5 Empathize with your reader

The opening paragraph is something most people forget to pay attention to. For them, nailing their headline is the Holy Grail.

Let me tell you something, the job of a headline is to click something and nothing more. If you want people to continue reading, work on your openings. If your openings are boring, people will not stick around to read more.

The best way to open a post is to empathize with your reader. Say something to let them know you understand them. It could be that you get their pain or you painting a picture of what is possible.

Step into their shoes and show them you understand what it’s like to be them.

 

#6 Tell Stories

We, humans, love stories. We are wired to do so. Well told stories never get old, look at how well the fiction genre does in books, look how popular epic sagas become in the theaters. Yet somehow people are afraid to tell stories on their blogs. They feel they are not good story tellers or they don’t have any stories. Not true.

Your biggest story explains your why – Why you started your blog or business? What made you the person you are today? Readers want to know your journey. They want to understand the odds you had to overcome to get to this point. They are rooting for you. In you, they see the better version of themselves. Personal posts do really well in terms of engagement and elicit a huge level of support from your people.

You can also tell business related stories. Take your readers behind the scenes and share something. Give them a sneak peek into something that is releasing soon, share your buyer success stories – make them the hero.

Sometimes it is easier to make a point with a story. You might write a how-to post explaining the merits of something or you could tell a story and boom – you’re done. Try it and see what happens.

 

#7 Create a common enemy

Depending your topic, what is that thing that frustrates you the most about your industry? What are some of the myths you can’t wait to set straight?

Let people know who stands in their way of achieving true success. Is it the media? Is hype filled, red highlighted copy or junk food. Whatever it is, identify your enemy and people will get behind you to take it down.

 

#8 Appeal to the right emotion

Jonal Berger in his book Contagious talks about hitting the right emotion in people if you want your content to spread.

He says that people are much more likely to share something if the content creates a feeling of awe. If you can make them sit up and take notice, if you can create a sense of wonder, people will respond positively.

He further explains that the main emotions that makes people want to engage with your blog post are those that lead to a high arousal. These are excitement and amusement. Make people laugh or surprise them.

On the other hand, you don’t want to create a feeling of low arousal in people by making them feel sad or content. Generally speaking, they won’t be motivated to share it as much.

more_content

#9 Give pure value

People share things that go above and beyond the normal when it comes to giving value.

This can be a case study that is truly remarkable. An interview with someone who is known for not giving interviews. News that make a true difference in the lives of many people, a post explaining something in a new way.

People can see the difference between a post that is thrown together hastily to fill up space and one that is written with the sole reason of helping people. Give away some of your best stuff for free.

 

#10 Create a wow experience

According to Michael Hyatt, when you create a wow experience, people have no choice but to take action and tell their friends.

When you ask somebody what is a wow experience, they would say things like, ‘When my daughter was born, or the day I got married, or the day I saw Niagara Falls in real life.’

So how can you create the feeling of wow in your blog post? Hyatt says a wow experience exceeds our expectations and surprises us (over deliver). It creates anticipation (the right headline). It resonates with the reader and makes them believe in something bigger than themselves (the big why). It’s a moment when you see things more clearly and is universal (same for people). It is transcendent (people want to share it).

 

#11 Choose a primary goal

You want your blog post to be successful, that’s a given, but what does it actually mean?

  • Do you want people sharing it over the networks?
  • Do you want people leaving thoughtful comments?
  • What does reader engagement look like to you?

If you want social shares, sometimes a big list post will work great. You can also go ahead and link to the influencers in your post and ask them to share it with your followers. You can create an infographic. You can create an epic guide.

If you want heartfelt engagement, you are better off making a single point. Tell a story, link to research, talk about your topic in detail but make one main point. You can do a post of controversial nature, if you want to get people talking but just make sure it is not a gimmick and for sake of attention itself.

 

#12 Build an audience for you blog

The best content on the web won’t get any attention unless you get it in front of people. For reader engagement, you actually need to have a reasonable sized audience to get the momentum going.

If you have a small audience and you don’t take time to promote your content, no matter how good it is, it can get only so much engagement. Only a fraction of people actually reading the content actually engage with it. If you want to increase the numbers of people taking action, increase the overall numbers.

Continually build your own audience. Get your content syndicated. Always be driving traffic to your own site.

 

#13 Publish on sites of high authority

Sometimes your content doesn’t get much traction because, let’s face it, you are unknown in your field. People are strapped for time. They have endless choices of content so they make the right choice and look at the best.

This is the difference between publishing a blog post on your own site and obtaining a handful of shares or comments, and publishing the same post on a popular blog and getting thousands of shares and tons of comments.

The content you publish is the same, the difference is where the content is originating from. All things being equal, a tweet sharing your post by a popular blogger will get your hundreds of retweets, as opposed to when you do that yourself.

 

#14 Use high quality images

It’s amazing to see so many people write and not use any images in their post. Images breathe life into your post. Starting off with a very compelling image will pull your reader straight in and capture their attention. They want to read on and find out more.

Some people make the mistake of using stock photos with cheesy poses and expressions. Don’t do that. Get creative.

Stitched Panorama

#15 Pay attention to your post formatting

Keep your posts screen friendly. Make them easy to read on a computer, laptop, tablet or a smart phone. Using huge blocks of text will tire your readers’ eyes. Use lots of white space, break up the text by using images, infographics and other visuals.

Use bold, bullets and numbered lists to highlight important information. Remember, many people just scan online. You’ve got to get their attention first before you can get them to engage.

Have a look at your sub-headings. Do they stand out? If you leave the text out and just read the sub-headings, do they tell the whole story? Sometimes a well-crafted sub-heading can capture the attention of a scanner.

 

#16 Try experimenting with different lengths

Research shows that long-form content tends to get more shares and have a bigger chance of going viral.

If you normally write short posts, try mixing them with longer pieces. Go into detail and write more in-depth information. Most bloggers shy away from doing this because this requires a lot of work, so do this and you can stand out.

 

#17 Make it easy to comment

Ask for comments. Show people that you truly want to hear from them, that their opinion matters to you. Respond to them. Be present in your own community. Don’t ignore people.

Show your readers they are part of the conversation by taking a thoughtful, well written comment and featuring it. You can either write a blog post on it and make them feel special, or share it on social media. Some bloggers install a plugin which features the top commenters in their community.

When you feature a reader, you are saying thank you for taking time out to leave a well thought out and meaningful comment. They’d be even more likely to share your content in future.

 

#18 Warm up your audience when you email

Your readers are not visiting your blog on a regular basis. They are busy. You’ve got to remind them that you have a blog post out. However, don’t just jump into the content directly. Don’t say, ‘I just published a blog post, here is the link, go read it. Share and leave a comment.’

Invite people in and they’d be much more willing to interact with your content. Share something personal in your email, a backstory; give them some personality. Just like a friend, don’t jump to a call to action straightaway.

This one really works. You will have people emailing you about their own little stories. Try it.

 

#19 Encourage sharing

You have got to ask.

It goes without saying, but add sharing buttons to your content in prominent places. Don’t be shy about it. Use hashtags to promote shares on social media. Use ClicktoTweet within your posts and ask people to share sound bites (aha moments).

Link to older content. People won’t share your content is they don’t know what exists. Give them a chance to discover your older content by linking to it.

Add one call to action. If you ask them to do too many things, you will end up overwhelming them and they will not do any.

people

#20 Write the kind of content people crave

Content that inspires: Blog posts that remind people the life is short, that every human is important, to believe in bigger things and that dreams do come true.

Content that connects with emotions: Things that make your readers cry, laugh out loud, or shock them in amazement.

Content that tells stories: That takes people on a journey, reveals secrets and teaches them to never give up. Stories where the underdog wins.

Content that teaches: Content that gives your audience action steps, and life lessons, challenges their thinking and tells them what to do next. Gives them very practical, hands on tips and makes them smarter.

 

That’s it. These are my top twenty tips to get readers engaging with your content.

If you found this useful, kindly share it with your friends so they too can benefit from it. (See, one clear call to action.)

Will you?

 

20 Ways to Skyrocket Your Reader Engagement is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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How to Increase Conversations via Social Media http://blog.getresponse.com/increase-conversations-via-social-media.html http://blog.getresponse.com/increase-conversations-via-social-media.html#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 15:17:43 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17267 The key to successful social media advertising is to promote conversation between a brand and its customers. Social media is supposed to be an immediate tool for communication, but many businesses are falling behind and letting customers down. An infographic … Read more

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The key to successful social media advertising is to promote conversation between a brand and its customers. Social media is supposed to be an immediate tool for communication, but many businesses are falling behind and letting customers down.

An infographic from SproutSocial suggests that only 1 out of 5 customer inquiries on Twitter and Facebook get any sort of response. This is a huge shortfall and for a business the consequences can be a loss of custom, poor audience retention rates, and reputation damage for that brand’s customer care approach.

Currently, the average response time to a customer query is a terrible 11 hours. That’s more than enough time for a customer to take their custom elsewhere and plenty of time for that customer to develop a negative opinion of a brand. People like to be heard and acknowledged, so a business should use social media tools to facilitate that.

It’s clear then that there are many missed opportunities when it comes to conversing and connecting with a business’ audience. A brand cannot ignore its customers and social media is certainly no exception. In fact, in a world that increasingly revolves around social media networks it’s even more pressing that a business develops good communication channels and practices with its customers.

Let’s consider then ways that your business can increase engagement and promote conversation between it and its customers.

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Social media should be social

This may seem like an obvious statement, but social media is all about connections, conversations, and above all being social. It’s not just about broadcasting your business, its products and services, and your brand philosophy. This is something that many businesses would do well to consider -and reassess the understanding of how social media networks function that it has.

These days user engagement is on the rise and the generic customer has found his or her voice – gone are the days when the corporation was the power player, these days it’s the consumer. Any business unwilling to engage on social media runs the risk of losing customers and creating a negative opinion and perspective of its brand.

Social media is of course social, meaning that customers talk. If they can’t get in touch with your business they’ll end up talking to each other and the odds are the conversation won’t be a positive one. Pertinently user conversations are growing at a fast rate – nine times faster than the social networks themselves.

Customers are always connected and immediately reachable and they expect the same from a business. In fact a customer not only expects a response but they also want a faster and more frequent response from a business and its brands.

MediaBistro suggests that nearly half of all customers desire a response to their tweets and posts within one hour. That expectation grows if the customer in question is experiencing a service issue. Customers even expect a speedy and considered response outside of business hours. It’s becoming an increasingly end user orientated world facilitated hugely by social media networks and the constant connectivity associated with them.

 

What a business should do

It seems then that customers are ever increasing in their needs and social media is providing them with a platform to express those needs immediately. Let’s have a look at some tips that could help your business increase conversations and engagement with its customers.

monitoring_tools

Monitoring Tools

It can be hard to keep abreast of where and when your business is mentioned online. It’s really important to maintain a close watch on social mentions regarding your business and brand as it means you can avoid some negative advertising early on.

There are plenty of tools online to help you with this; some are free and others come with a monthly fee. There’s not really an excuse for a business to neglect to monitor what’s being said about it and a business would do well to use software to keep on top of the myriad of mentions it receives daily.

 

Find avenues to converse through

Social monitoring tools are helpful, but your business needs to provide those tools with related information. Initially a business is likely to follow its own channels, customers, or potential clients. However often people post about your brand but not on the usual social media channels.

Make sure that your business is monitoring keywords that include mentions of your brand as well as topics that relate to your business. In this way your business can find new connections and forge better conversations with customers – and your business is meeting them on the platform of the customers choosing.

webinar-chairs

Remember to be polite

It’s not just about addressing customer complaints or concerns, it’s about ensuring that you’re building good relationships and promoting conversation and profitable connections. Monitoring tools mean that you can keep on top of brand mentions and relevant topics that relate to your business. In this way you’ll find plenty of opportunities to engage with potential clients, customers, and brand advocates.

Remember to thank everyone for taking the time to mention, comment, or interact with your brand. If you do it well you’ll find that your business does better on social media channels and promotes connections and conversations with potential and current customers. Whilst of course you can get automation software to help with thanking connections, there’s no substitute for personal replies so you should bear this in mind too.

Social media comes with its own set of rules when it comes to complaints too. You should always respond to these quickly, and politely.

You should never:

  • Delete complaints – they have already been seen and people will be watching how you respond, so do so politely and personally.
  • Argue publically with a customer, no matter how unreasonable their complaint may seem to be.
  • Put up with bad language or abuse – if this occurs, warn the person that it’s not acceptable and that their comments will be deleted.

This is of course general advice for conversions. There are plenty of expert ways that you can create conversions too such as using web custom audiences in Facebook to remarket to website visitors.

That, however, is another post entirely and one I will bring you in the future.

How to Increase Conversations via Social Media is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Free Tools to Refresh Your Blog Design http://blog.getresponse.com/free-tools-refresh-blog.html http://blog.getresponse.com/free-tools-refresh-blog.html#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 14:07:49 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17251 When it comes to our blogs, we place our full attention on making sure that our content is top notch, and rightly so. However, once we focus on WHAT we present, we tend to forget HOW we present it. That’s … Read more

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When it comes to our blogs, we place our full attention on making sure that our content is top notch, and rightly so. However, once we focus on WHAT we present, we tend to forget HOW we present it. That’s why I have compiled a list of examples of great looking blogs and tools that can help you make yours just as amazing.

I realize that not all online marketers are aspiring designers, but I urge you to think of going with something new on your blog, heck, maybe even hire someone (if you haven’t already) to take the designing off your shoulders. Whatever you decide on, don’t freak out, free tools are available even in this area. Stock photos? Forget about them! Horrible color combinations? Lose them! Comic Sans? Never again! Painfully cluttered blog design? I think not.

To stock or not to stock

We’ve all see the cheesy smiles, fake food, and outdated computers on stock photos. Don’t get me wrong, these are pioneers in Internet pictures. However, today I think we can take a moment or two to find commercial pictures in more …. “quality” oriented places.

Although there are numerous places you can go to. I would like to share with you my top five go to websites:

  1. Unsplash. All of us have heard of this great picture market. Beautifully selected images in sizes that can be used even for an entire blog background or for a huge header on your site (more on that later).
  2. Gratisography. Great selection of CC pictures to spruce up your blog.
  3. Photopin. Just click “commercial” in the left side panel and look through an enormous library of flickr images. Mind you, not all of them are great but devote 5 minutes and you’ll find what you’re looking for.
  4. Death to the Stock Photo. You’ll get monthly emails with great themed images.
  5. Pixabay. Granted, some of their pictures might make you cringe due to their stockish feel. But worry not, with a minute or two of searching you might just find a beautiful image.

Now, these are just the top five in my opinion. We’ve also has a previous blog post dedicated to more sites  that you can look to in order to beautify your blog.

blog_colors

Color me complementary

“Brand image” is a slogan that has been around for some time but has been especially exploited in the recent times. Why? Because how you present your company is very important. But look at it from a design angle.

Make sure that you use colors that complement one another and that make your blog a knockout, not an eye scratching palette of awful colors.

To help you out in color picking, here is a list of great tools devoted to colors:

  • Paletton. A great and easy to use tool, where you can not only pick the right monochromatic tone but where you can go for 2, 3, even 4 colors!
  • Adobe Kuler. Easy to use tool created with themes in mind.
  • Design Seeds. If you’re in need of inspiration taken from a picture, or maybe you yourself have an image that you want to revolve your colors around – check out Design Seeds.

 

Headers, and headings, and texts, oh my!

I have said this on more than one occasion, but I will take another one to say this – Comic Sans, Papyrus, or even Times New Roman should not exist in the blogosphere. Not too long ago we talked about what typography is. Remember, the typeface you use is an important part of any website or blog! Make sure you match the font to your image.

You might use a great looking and decorative typeface for the header of your blog:

carcrush_bold_header

However, for the actual blog post heading and the text you should use a simple, easy to read typeface. You may even keep your header simple to match the headings and text, like this:

thecut_header

Now that you have some kind of an idea as to how you might be able to play around with typefaces, take a look at this list of go to places for free fonts:

  • Awwwards Blog. THE place for free stuff like fonts.
  • Font Squirrel. Where any designer font can be found. You can also find premium fonts!
  • Creative Bloq. A great list of fonts grouped in different categories.

If you’re in need of finding the right typeface but don’t know which free font will be a safe bet, make sure to check out our typography blog post. You will find links to free and premium fonts alike, that will look great no matter what.

Other freebies

You may also want to look into great things like icons or textures to make your blog look great. Here is a list of free design tools:

  1. thinkdesign. You can never go wrong with textures, backgrounds, and logo inspirations.
  2. Awwwards. Once again, a great site for sourcing free tools like icons, badges, or fonts.
  3. Freebiesbug. Anything from mockups, fonts, codes, to icons.
  4. Graphic Burger. To quote the site itself: tasty design resources made with care for each pixel.
  5. PurtyPixels. As the name states, a collection of pretty design tools.
  6. Creative Market. Probably one of the most obvious places to visit. There is a selection of free resources and each week you’ll find a new free pack of goodies that otherwise were premium!

 

 

In dire need of inspiration?

If you find yourself sitting and staring at the screen, wondering “What do I do? What do I change? Who do I consult?” – let me save you the trouble. Besides looking at Awwwards (yes, THAT site AGAIN), which compiles the best of the best, even in blogging.

I can advise you that a clean look goes a long way. Here are top three different minimalistic and easy blog approaches that, in my opinion, know what they’re doing. What’s more, they’re doing it in such a way that you can certainly use them as inspiration to create something alike, without a problem!

1. Medium

medium

2. Trent Walton

trentwalton

3. FastCompany

fastcompany

No go on and give your blog a fresh look! If you have any free resources that were not listed here, let us know in the comments.

 

 

 

Free Tools to Refresh Your Blog Design is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Negative SEO, And What You Can Do About It http://blog.getresponse.com/negative-seo-can.html http://blog.getresponse.com/negative-seo-can.html#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 15:07:02 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17233 There was a time when Google was vigorously denying the possibility of so called “negative SEO”. According to the official version, there was no way in which competitors could possibly harm your rankings within Google search results. Things began to … Read more

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There was a time when Google was vigorously denying the possibility of so called “negative SEO”. According to the official version, there was no way in which competitors could possibly harm your rankings within Google search results. Things began to change around 2006 when Google updated their official FAQ with a question regarding this issue. Now their stance is less categorical and it stirred up a discussion within the webmasters’ community.

A year later Forbes published an article describing how Brendon Scott sometimes engages in negative SEO. They asked Matt Cutts for a comment and he didn’t deny that building a lot of spammy links to competitors’ website can hurt it.

Fast forward a couple of years to 2012 when Google launched a Penguin Update which specifically targeted link signals. Suddenly negative SEO became a lot easier to achieve, and even Google recognized it as they’ve updated their official FAQ a month later to ensure webmasters that they are “working hard to prevent this”. However, as for now this is how I perceive their stance:

negative_seo

Which pretty much means that you, as a webmaster, are alone with the problem. Now, what can you do about it, since big G won’t help you? It’s well known that prevention is better than a cure itself, so act before you will actually feel the hit of Google’s ban hammer.

 

Monitor your backlinks

First of all, you should actively monitor who links to you website so you can quickly spot anything fishy is going on. If there is sudden surge of backlinks or you start to spot links from places like hacked websites, foreign discussion boards, etc. it’s quite possible that someone has targeted you. There is a couple of tools which can help you in this task:

Majestic SEO

If your budget is tight they have a free plan for your website. Their link index is quite big and they find new backlinks quickly.

http://www.majesticseo.com/

Ahrefs Site Explorer

They have a free plan, but it’s really limited. Their link index and link finding speed is comparable to Majestic SEO.

https://ahrefs.com/

Moz Open Site Explorer

They also have free access to their link index, however it’s smaller than in the previous two tools. They also don’t update as quick, but they have “Just -discovered” a links feature based on Bitly URL shortener data.

http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/

SEO SpyGlass

An alternative tool with a link audit feature (we will talk about that later on, so keep reading) and one-time fee.

http://www.link-assistant.com/seo-spyglass/

Google Webmaster Tools

Although Google doesn’t like to share its link data it’s still a pretty good source and it’s completely free.

http://www.google.com/webmasters/

identify_spammers

Identify potential troublemakers

But how to spot a bad apple in basket full of links? Below you can find three tools created for this very purpose. They help you analyze your back links, what’s more they show which of them can be bad in the eyes of Google. Mind however, that they are not “certified” by Google itself so their metrics are arbitrary – you will still need to use your brain in order to spot truly spammy links.

LinkRisk

Founded by former spammer, Paul Madden and this alone should be interesting enough to try this tool. After all he knows best what spammy links looks like.

http://linkrisk.com/

Link Detox

An alternative to LinkRisk – it’s also a little cheaper.

http://www.linkdetox.com

SEO SpyGlass

The link audit feature can be helpful when spotting bad links.

 

Remove bad links

If you have already spotted risky backlinks you should try to remove them. Now, this is not an easy task, especially when you’ve been hit with a massive spam blast, but remember that acting early can spare you a headache in future. Try to contact each website owner and ask them for removal of questionable links. Once again here are some tools which can help you:

Remove’em

A little pricey but can really help to make the removal process smoother.

http://www.removeem.com/self-serve.php

rmoov

They has a free option which can be used if you don’t have a lot of links to remove.

http://www.rmoov.com

The last hope – disavow tool

If everything else fails (webmasters don’t want to cooperate or it’s simply too many bad links to remove them) you can resort to disavow tool. You can tell Google which links it should ignore (because they are bad) and you can do this before you will get hit with a filter or ban. Be cautious as disavowing links can hurt your rankings since all submitted links won’t be co – only submit the links you really know that are spammy.

back-to-schoolNever stop learning

Go out and read other SEOs thoughts on negative SEO. This post is only a small overview of tools which can be used for defense – there is a lot more you can do like earning strong links, brand building, nourishing other traffic sources, etc. Don’t stop there, but educate yourself. The bad link monitoring and removal is not the only tactic you can use. Maybe you’ve already have one and wish to share it in comments?

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How to Get 30% More Clicks with Rich Snippets http://blog.getresponse.com/get-30-clicks-rich-snippets.html http://blog.getresponse.com/get-30-clicks-rich-snippets.html#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 14:07:35 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17212 Want to increase traffic to your site by nearly a third – without spending a dime, writing a hundred blog posts, or landing a major media appearance? Sure you do. Then it’s time to start using rich snippets. “Rich what?” … Read more

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Want to increase traffic to your site by nearly a third – without spending a dime, writing a hundred blog posts, or landing a major media appearance? Sure you do.

Then it’s time to start using rich snippets.

“Rich what?”

Rich snippets. They’re a way to mark up information with special tags so your pages will stand out in the search engine results. Rich snippets regularly get clicked 20%, even 30% more than regular listings, making them an easy way to significantly boost free traffic to your site.

Here’s what one looks like:

IndianRestaurantRichSnippet

Compare that to a similar listing without a rich snippet:

IndianRestaurantNoSnippet See why and how they get more clicks?

Rich snippets can do more than add stars and review counts, too. They can be used to dress up search results for

  • Events
  • Breadcrumb navigation
  • Music (including albums)
  • Organizations & Businesses
  • People (including Authorship)
  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Review ratings
  • Reviews
  • Software
  • Videos

Here’s what an event rich snippet might look like:

EventExampleSnippet

Here’s what a similar listing, with no rich snippet, looks like:

EventExampleNoSnippetHere’s a video rich snippet:

VideoRichSnippet

A product rich snippet:

ProductRichSnippet

And a breadcrumb rich snippet:

BreadcrumbRichSnippetSo enough with the examples – how do you make them?

 

How to make rich snippets

Way back in the day, like 2011, you had to code rich snippets by hand. Then you had to play around with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to see if your work would show at all, and then if it would show correctly. Fortunately, those days are over. Plugin developers have made adding rich snippets dramatically easier.

If you want to get started with rich snippets fast, the easiest way is to download and install the free plugin All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets (https://wordpress.org/plugins/all-in-one-schemaorg-rich-snippets/). There are many other rich snippets plugins, but All In One is considered the best in class by many SEOs. It’s also a snap to use.

Here’s the dashboard of All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets:

 

AllInOneSchemaDasshboard

Here’s the view of the plugin on the page or post you want to add the rich snippet to. To create the rich snippet, you just fill in the form fields and click save. No coding required!

AllInOnePageView

A webmaster tools page where you test how your page is going to look in the search results.

 

RichSnippetsGoogleTool

This tool is handy because your rich snippets changes won’t immediately appear in the search results – it can take a few days for them to show up.

A few days after your snippets have gone live you can head over to your Google Webmaster account and see how your rich snippets are performing in the Structured Data Report in the Search Appearance Section of your account.

 

gwmt-structured-data-report

There are many other plugins you can use to set up rich snippets, and plenty of online tools. If you go looking for them, make sure you use one that uses “microdata”, especially if it uses the microdata markup per Schema.org (a must-visit site if you’re into coding).

Why use microdata formats? Because that’s what Google, Yahoo and Bing have agreed to support in their search listings. Other formats will work, but they can be buggy. See the chart below for a family tree depicting where microdata sits in the hierarchy of structured data. Rich snippets are just one form of structured data.

 

HierarchySnippets

Caption: From Moz’s excellent infographic, “A Look at Rich Snippets”

 

Don’t use rich snippets to spam

While rich snippets offer a sweet opportunity to get more traffic with little work, please don’t use the new markup to spam.

As of February of this year, rich snippet spam had become enough of a problem that webmasters had started getting manual penalties from Google for spammy rich snippets. When one webmaster asked about why he had gotten the penalty, this was Google’s answer:

Markup on some pages on this site appears to use techniques such as marking up content that is invisible to users, marking up irrelevant or misleading content, and/or other manipulative behavior that violates Google’s Rich Snippet Quality guidelines.

Matt Cutts, the head of Google’s webspam team, also said earlier this year that rich snippets could “get a revamp” and be available only to “more reputable websites” if the problem continues. It would be a pity for new websites to miss out on rich snippets just because some SEOs didn’t play by the rules. The rules, by the way, are here: Google’s Rich Snippet Quality Guidelines.

Just in case you don’t read that page, the most common ways to get into trouble with rich snippets are to mark up

  • information that is not visible to users (like alt tags or comments in the code).
  • fake reviews or comments (I know, I know – you would never do that).
  • “content unrelated to the focus of the page”. Ie, don’t mark up information that isn’t described in more detail on the page. For example, don’t markup “Wisconsin pay day loans” on a page about Wisconsin’s wildflowers.

 

Recent changes to rich snippets

Rich snippets evolve rapidly, so you need to be ready for changes.

The most notable potential change we might see is the one Matt Cutts mentioned about only allowing “reputable sites” to show rich snippets. That would be a disappointment, but it would once again reward sites that are providing good content and carefully employing SEO best practices. You know you’re on the right side of SEO when you actually look forward to the next algorithm update.

One example of a very recent change is how Google Authorship profile images were removed from the search engine results in late June. Many writers, reporters and marketers had been enjoying a nice lift by having those Google Authorship profile shots show up next to their search listings. It’s a shame to lose them.

For one last example of recent rich snippets changes, LinkedIn’s rich snippet data started showing up for Google and Bing results in April. We can now see a person’s job title, employer and location in the search engine results without having to click through to their LinkedIn page.

More changes are sure to come. Hopefully you can set up your rich snippets to benefit from them.

How to Get 30% More Clicks with Rich Snippets is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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20 Ways to Supercharge Your Next Product Launch http://blog.getresponse.com/20-ways-supercharge-next-product-launch.html http://blog.getresponse.com/20-ways-supercharge-next-product-launch.html#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:07:50 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17202 Are you a brand new entrepreneur who is looking to launch their first product or service You feel excited, exhilarated and a tad anxious at the same time: “What if nobody buys?”, “What if people buy on the first day … Read more

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Are you a brand new entrepreneur who is looking to launch their first product or service You feel excited, exhilarated and a tad anxious at the same time: “What if nobody buys?”, “What if people buy on the first day and then crickets? No more sales after”, “What if people don’t get what’s on offer?”, “What if they think the price is too high?”, “What if the buy now button doesn’t work?”  Or, you might be someone who already had a product launch – or two, and things did not go that well. Actually, that’s an understatement. Your launch sucked.

You could not build a buzz. There were hardly any people talking about your launch. There were no pre-orders. Only a handful of people took you up on your early bird offer. The results fell short of your expectations and you ended up being terribly disappointed.

Now you never want to do another launch – thanks very much.

Just hold on for a second ..

For most people, their first launch is always more of a learning experience. So if yours flopped, don’t take it to heart. There are ways to salvage it or do it better next time around. And if you are about to launch the first time, it doesn’t have to be a poorly executed one.

In this post, I am going to give you very practical, super useful tips to turbo charge your upcoming launch. You can either use it as a checklist and run through your already planned launch, or use it to create a plan from scratch. Either way, it works.

Let’s begin

 

#1 Start with a really good product (or service)

Begin with a product that is something your audience truly wants. Make sure you have done all the research, you have surveyed people on your list, and you have asked questions in the forums. There is competition in the market and you have created something for which there is a sufficient demand in the marketplace.

Understand that if you try to sell something that nobody wants, no matter how well you plan and execute your launch, it is not going to work. It’s not that your launch failed, but your product did. (If you are interested in writing an ebook that sells, check out this four part series I wrote which takes you through all the steps.)

Also, don’t make the mistake of assuming that if people say yes, they will want it. All yays do not necessarily translate into sales.

product-launch

#2 Have a beta group test your product

Before you do a product launch, invite an initial group of people to test it for you. Pay attention to the feedback you get and make improvements accordingly.

Don’t forget to collect testimonials. Your first buyers will usually be your most loyal and supportive people, they are much more likely to overlook any minor flaws and give you positive feedback on what that really matters.

Spend less time creating the product and more time testing and tweaking it.

 

#3 Determine the goals of your launch

What do you want to achieve in this launch? What are your objectives? The more specific you get here, the better are your chances of achieving them.

For example, do you want to do a list building launch? Your goal is not to have the maximum number of sales, but to get the most amount of people on your email list. You announce your super cool offer and make a big fuss about it. You may sell some copies of your product but you will consider your launch to be a success if you meet your list building goals.

Similarly, your goal might be to launch your brand. Maybe you have rebranded, or just got a really nice looking website. You want to get attract press and renew interest in your brand.

Decide on 3-5 metrics that will help measure the success of your launch. In our case, this would be the number of product copies sold, seats filled for an event or bookings for your coaching offer.

 

#4 Define your offer really well

What’s in the box? What do they get and how much does it cost?

You should be able to articulate your offer in a few sentences, if you can’t do this it means your offer is not clear. Another test is to have your 8 year old read your offer. Do they understand it? If so, congratulations, you have a clear offer. If not, go back to the drawing board.

Give people very simple instructions on how they can avail this offer. The more complicated you make it, more choices you give them or more hoops to jump through, higher is your chance of losing people in the process. Tell them exactly what’s on offer, exactly what you want them to do and exactly what they will be getting.

Get people excited about your offer. Clarity is not enough. Put out an offer that is too good to refuse – make it irresistible – by stacking bonuses, offering a rock solid guarantee and the right price. Don’t forget to feature success stories of people who have bought from you.

 

#5 Set up your affiliates (optional)

Not every launch needs affiliates. You may or may not want to ask other people to promote your product for a commission (usually anywhere between 25% to 50%). If you do, keep these in mind.

  • Only get in touch with people whose communication and business styles resonate with your own.
  • Contact highly reputable folks.
  • Start building relationships with these people well in advance so you can give them plenty of notice.
  • Send potential affiliates all the information they need to promote your product. Don’t rely on them to send out emails. Give them the copy and remind them – repeatedly.
  • Create bonuses for your affiliates.
  • Join an affiliate program such as ejunkie or Clickbank and create a page for information on how people can join your affiliate program.
  • Announce prizes for affiliates who do really well.

Does it look like a ton of work? It is. Normally it takes twice as much work to do an affiliate launch than it would take to do one on your own. You must get them on board, make sure they have their links, copy and that they are actually mailing.

If this is your first product launch, you may want to skip recruiting any affiliates for now.

 

#6 Set up a pre-launch list

If you cater to a variety of customers and your offer will not be for everyone, it makes good sense to create a separate interest list. Do this 2-3 months before your pre-launch.

Create a landing page and let people know. Give people an incentive to sign up, those who are even mildly curious will check it out and get on the list. They will get your freebie which will give them a taste of what’s to come. This can be a free chapter of your ebook, or a behind the scenes video for your online program or a report, or anything you want, really. Make sure that what you offer is directly related to your offer. You can send out a few reminder emails to get as many people on the list, that’s fine.

Don’t burn out your main list. If the product is not for them, don’t bombard them with your launch content. People will unsubscribe, or start ignoring you.

Create a product banner for your sidebar and link it to your landing page. This is for your new website visitors or the people who are not email subscribers to get on the pre-launch list.

 

#7 Start hinting about your launch

Start leaking news about your product launch. Mention you are working on something on social media. Don’t announce it formally yet but hint at it in your blog posts and in your emails. Add a P.S. in your newsletter. Mention it in interviews and guest posts.

Ask people questions on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ to spark discussions and curiosity.

Even though you have your product ready or almost ready, keep asking people what they want to see in it. This will help tweak your product and make it surpass people’s expectations.

Don’t forget to direct all these people to the landing page you have created so they sign up for your launch content.

 

#8 Create your launch content plan

How many pieces of content will you send out? What format will they be in?

Do you want to create a video sequence? Do you want to create a series of blog posts? A webinar? A mix? Decide on the format. The best thing to do here is to follow the same format of your product. Do video if your product is a video course. Do webinars if you are launching a new coaching package. This makes for a smooth transition and there is no jarring effect from promotion to product.

If your program includes video, calls and written material, go with what you are really good at. Play up to your strengths here. Now is not the try to experiment with something new. Stick with what works.

 

#9 Brainstorm your launch content

Now it’s time to sit down and map out some of your launch content. Your goal here is to give so much value that people feel obligated to pay attention (reciprocity), attracts attention, builds your authority and positions you as an expert.

It is important that your content follows a natural progression. So if someone reads the first piece, they will want to read the next and so on. If someone happens to find a piece in the middle, they would want to catch up on what they have missed.

Make it interesting.

  • You can talk about the need for your product (pre-sell). You can talk about the mistakes people make which have them stuck in their current situation.
  • You give them pure information such as worksheets or checklists.
  • You can give them what’s to be included, for example, a table of contents.
  • You can take them behind the scenes and show what’s happening.
  • You can share case studies – talk about success stories of your clients/customers.
  • You can do live Q/As via Google hangouts or on your Facebook page.

launch-tools

#10 Create a timeline for your launch

How long will be your pre-launch and launch periods?

The less expensive the product, the shorter these periods tend to be. You don’t need a two week period leading up to your launch if you are selling a $37 ebook. However, if you are selling a $1200 e-course, then you need more time to get people interested, sustain their attention and get people off the proverbial fence. Normally, you can’t go wrong with 5-7 days of pre-launch content.

Start scheduling everything in. It doesn’t have to be perfect now but it will give you a sense of what needs to happen when. It will give you a rough idea of the overall launch and give you a bird eye view of the whole process.

Always give yourself more time then you anticipate. Things break and don’t always go according to plan. Put everything in such as working with affiliates, finalizing your sales letter and getting some future promotion in place well in advance.

 

#11 Announce your product

Create a specific blog post where you announce the launch of your upcoming product. Go into detail here.

Send out a short email to your main list and remind them to get on the pre-launch list. You want to do this because you want to remind people and catch the attention of those who are new and haven’t seen any of your previous emails.

Keep linking to your landing page so people can get on it.

 

#12 Build your team

You don’t need a huge team to support your launch but you do need a list of people to contact for support and in case of emergencies.

You might need a virtual assistant, a proof reader, an IT person who deals with any technical or back-end issues, a business mentor or coach, and a friend or two for general support. Launches are very stressful at times and you would need to call on people when you simply need to talk to someone. Contact a few people ahead of time and ask them if they’d be willing to be your cheerleaders.

 

#13 Test everything

Make sure you test every single element of your buying process.

Ask at least two people to test the links, the buy button, and complete the sales process. Have them confirm that they received the post purchase emails and that all the links to your product download or the program login page are working.

 

#14 Do a pre-order campaign

Do a pre order campaign for your product if it makes sense. For example, if you are launching a book, people can order it in advance and get a chapter or something for free now.

Talk about the process while you’re doing it. People love to see what happens behind the scenes, they especially love it if you talk about the not so good parts and show your vulnerability, like how nervous you are, etc.

 

#15 Do an internal launch

Start your email list sequence and open doors for people on your pre-launch email list. Let them know that they can get their hands on the product before everybody else.

Give them an incentive like a significant price discount or early bird bonuses which expire on a certain day and are not open to general public.

The internal launch window should be fairly short. On the third day, open doors to the public and start promoting the link on various social media platforms.

 

#16 Publish sales page and open cart

Revise your sales page, meaning take the information off about the early bird pricing and bonuses, and publish. On the main blog, make an announcement that the cart is now open.

Make additional changes based on the feedback you received, for example any design changes or removal of any typos found etc. Add testimonials. Add pricing options.

Test your links one more time, especially the affiliate ones. I do not recommend leaving your sales page till the end. Launch period is highly stressful and this is one element you should ideally have ready before your launch.

audiences

#17 Promote on other platforms

Do not launch and then take your foot off the gas pedal. Keep sharing and promoting it.

Do contests on Facebook and run ads to drive traffic to the sales page. Give interviews. Publish guest posts (try to have these arranged in advance and go out in the launch week if possible. People see you everywhere which is great for brand awareness and makes you memorable.)

 

#18 Build social proof

We, as humans, tend to follow others. We look to others for guidance. This is the power of social proof. Get people behind your launch. Ask them to tweet, like, plus1 and leave comments. Ask friends to share your link.

The more people you have supporting your launch, the more credibility you generate. This will have great impact on your bottom line.

 

#19 Send two emails on the last day

The email list is extremely important. It is quite difficult it is to get purchases from Facebook, Twitter, or blog posts alone (even if your audience is super engaged). They aren’t buying from there. They were buying from email.

Don’t be shy to remind people on the last time. Your emails won’t bother those who have already bought or who are not interested (those people have already unsubscribed). The ones who are sitting on the fence want to hear from you. They want you to convince them, so do that.

Send one email in the morning and one just hours before closing. Keep them brief and remind people that the product will no longer be available shortly or the price will go up, if you intend to move it to your store.

 

#20 Post launch

Your work is not done, not yet. There are things that still need to be done. Here are the most important ones:

  • If you had affiliates, announce prize winners and send thank you emails.
  • Thank your readers, supporters, peers and friends for their support.
  • Make sure everybody got what they bought. Continue to provide an excellent customer experience.
  • Surprise your buyers with a starter bonus you did not announce. It doesn’t need to be something elaborate.
  • Follow up on testimonials from high profile people and influencers.
  • Does your product need to move to your store at a higher price (ever green product)?
  • Consolidate your results. How did you go in terms of your launch goals?

launch-timing

So there you have it. This is essentially your blue print to launching anything.

At the end of the day, keep this in mind: while a launch is important, also invest time and effort into the long tail of the product. The reputation of this product will grow in the future and you will sell it more.

You can definitely make a well-designed product work for you over time.

 

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Facebook Targeting Options That You Need to Know http://blog.getresponse.com/facebook-targeting-options-need-know.html http://blog.getresponse.com/facebook-targeting-options-need-know.html#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 14:07:20 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17194 Facebook is the most prolific and well-known social media networking site but it can be hard for a business to know how to target its ads to the right people. With so many users online, a given ad can be … Read more

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Facebook is the most prolific and well-known social media networking site but it can be hard for a business to know how to target its ads to the right people. With so many users online, a given ad can be lost completely within the sea of conversation, so it’s important for a business to understand Facebook’s targeting options.

Utilising Facebook’s targeting options effectively will lower ad costs on the service and it will also increase conversions. The best way for a business to be successful in its advertising efforts is for it to reach the best and most specific audience possible.

Let’s consider how your business can be much more successful on Facebook with some simple Facebook targeting options to help you target and reach the best audience for your ads.

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Use Facebook Data

Facebook is still growing and as it evolves it seeks to increase its profits. To do so, the online social media service has been introducing a variety of new advertising options. This is with advertisers themselves in mind as Facebook intends to provide a good experience for them on its service.

Perhaps the best new approach from Facebook for marketers is its offer of precise demographic targeting. Facebook has been quietly sharing user data with some big and powerful data companies including Epsilon, Acxiom, and Datalogix. The social media site has shared and allowed brands to access vast amounts of audience data.

The data being shared includes:

  • Consumer purchase habits
  • Demographic information
  • Both online and offline consumer activity

Those data pools provide a business with the tools that it needs to better target audiences and reach them within the best possible context. Understanding your audience and how your brand fits into their lives is very important.

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Demographic data and how it helps your brand

For general users of Facebook it may be problematic to learn that Facebook collates and gathers so much data. For advertisers and marketers however it’s great news and something that a business will want to understand and capitalise on.

Ad Creation Tool

Facebook has introduced an Ad Creation tool that makes it easier for advertisers to utilise that wealth of data. The deep demographic targeting used by Facebook is a goldmine for advertisers and it’s now available to everyone.

For any advertiser wanting to use this and access the extensive demographic targeting options they merely need to create an ad. Then scroll down to the Audience options and select the More Demographics button. There are currently 10 categories on the social media service and each has subsets. In total there are well over 100 demographic targeting options.

More Demographics

It’s worth exploring this area further as the 10 main demographic options offer loads of potential approaches with its segmented sub-categories. Really research your desired audience too, as the more you explore your audience’s wants, needs, and habits the more successful your advertising campaigns will be.

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Using ad segment categories can lower ad costs

Deliberately targeting specific demographic categories can have a marked benefit when it comes to your advertising efforts. In the past Facebook provided very few options, but now with the Ad Creation tool those options are much more diverse.

Interests

When you choose interests and advertising segment categories ensure that you’re as focused as possible. Choosing the right interests is an important factor when it comes to lowering cost-per-click and targeting the right option can increase click through rates.

A business really needs to understand its audience to be successful in its advertising push. If advertisers and marketers don’t know their audience’s interests, hobbies, and activities it becomes much harder to target. It also increases ad costs and ROI as advertising to the wrong audience will have very little in the way of successful returns.

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Understand your audience’s behaviour

If you know your audience almost innately you’ll increase conversions and be better able to target your audience and its behaviour. This type of targeting mostly relies on the activities of an audience whilst offline and as an approach it can be very effective when it comes to creating conversions.

Behaviour

Although behaviour targeting has marked benefits it can also be a costly venture. Out of demographics, interests, and audience behaviour, this type of targeting is by far the most expensive. However the choices in this category are varied and each one provides hundreds of behaviour targeting opportunities.

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The best approach

For any business looking to better reach an audience it must ensure that it’s targeting the right audience. If it doesn’t that business will find that its marketing efforts fall short of its desired effect and it will also find that it’s merely wasting money.

Understanding your audience will translate beneficially into lower costs, greater engagement, and higher conversion rates for your brand. Explore the options fully and ensure that the adverts are delivered to the right people and ones that will promote, share, and buy from your brand.

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The Don’ts of Email Marketing http://blog.getresponse.com/donts-email-marketing.html http://blog.getresponse.com/donts-email-marketing.html#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 14:19:23 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17185 Working with various brands and industries we are witnesses to a lot of different approaches to email marketing on a daily basis. We may find some of these to be truly innovative and we gladly watch as they skyrocket the … Read more

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Working with various brands and industries we are witnesses to a lot of different approaches to email marketing on a daily basis. We may find some of these to be truly innovative and we gladly watch as they skyrocket the results of our clients that use them (of course we also share them with you on this very blog). However, we also see a number of accounts using so called marketing “tricks” that are supposed to increase the results, but often have the opposite effect.

Today we are going to concentrate on the bad practices, or the things to avoid in your email marketing campaigns (no matter how much advertised to you they will be), explaining why they are bad for your business and how they cause you unwanted problems.

Thinking about those email marketing “tricks” there are 2 main sins that we can focus on:

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1. Misleading content, subject lines

“Fool me once, shame on you…”

Sending messages to your customers, that are oriented on generating opens and clicks by tricking them into believing that the message is about something else, may be very tempting. In theory it may seem that it works, however this tactic is very deceptive, remember that lies tend to surface sooner than later.

To be more precise we are talking about message titles in form of:

  1. Re:
  2. Fwd:
  3. Transaction Confirmation
  4. Your Purchase Has Been Processed
  5. Mailer-Daemon

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In practice you only get one shot. After your subscriber actually follows your link and notices that it is something completely different than claimed in the content they will not fall for the same trick again. Furthermore, they will not trust any of your other links as well, so in essence you are basically robing yourself of a subscriber that could make you more revenue in the days to follow. Same goes for misleading subject lines (they simply won’t open your messages again).

However, it is most likely that they will not open any of your messages at all. In todays age of email marketing, this practice is overused by spammers and chances are, that people on your list have already received this kind of message before, therefore they learned not to trust them. This also brings up the fact that by using this kind of messages you are automatically places in ‘league’ with those kind of senders, and that is something you never want to happen.

This trick, from a business point of view is useless and not worth even trying, but it’s not the only reason why you shouldn’t use this tactic. These kind of emails are strictly prohibited by most of published law regulations for email marketing (including the Can SPAM Act and the soon to come CASL regulation). Not to mention that it will get you on the bad side of the Compliance Department in the ESP you may be using.

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2. Don’t be afraid to let them go.

The 2nd trend that we see a lot is a deliberate attempt to keep you subscribers on your list by attempting to hide, or even not include the unsubscribe link.

I know the value of fighting for your subscribers, but this is simply not the way to go. I bet that at some point in your life you dealt with a situation where someone tried to force you into something that you simply did not want to do, and I think you can agree that in 99% of those situations the result was the exact opposite. The more they force you, the more you get iritated and do not want to do whatever you are being pressured to do.

This is exactly what we are dealing with here. The result however, may be much more negative that you realize. Believe me when I say this: those people will find they way out of your list and the harder you make it for them to do so, the more effort they will devote to  hurt your business in the process. Starting from marking all of the messages they receive from you as spam (lowering your deliverability in the process), finishing by reporting your message with all legal and anti-abuse organizations they can find. Again there is a legal issue over here, that is treated even more seriously than the misleading subjects/content matter.

You also need to remember that it is you who has to pay the cost of keeping those addresses on your list. Here I would go so far as to say that it’s not only smart to allow for easy unsubscribing for contacts, it’s best if you are also proactive about it by removing your old and inactive subscribers, making yourself room for new, engaged clients without the need for additional cost.

There are also so much better ways to fight for your subscribers, like opt-down options, bonus offer on the unsubscribe page, or pause option, just to mention a few of the top of my head.

unsubscribing

I know that you can find a lot of articles that put their focus on what you should do in your email marketing campaigns, but there aren’t as many articles focusing on what you shouldn’t do. Working in the compliance department I often deal with accounts that forget about the “don’ts” of this business and I can tell you right now: they are equally important.

 

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How to Use Video in Email #Infographic http://blog.getresponse.com/use-video-email-infographic.html http://blog.getresponse.com/use-video-email-infographic.html#comments Fri, 04 Jul 2014 14:13:09 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17176 Persuasive copy and attention-grabbing pictures aren’t enough anymore. Lately, standard sales pitches and product presentations fall flat. That’s why more and more email marketers are reaching out for non-standard strategies and a broader approach. Of them all, video in email … Read more

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Persuasive copy and attention-grabbing pictures aren’t enough anymore. Lately, standard sales pitches and product presentations fall flat. That’s why more and more email marketers are reaching out for non-standard strategies and a broader approach. Of them all, video in email turns out to be exceptionally effective. Today’s infographic presents some ideas on how to do it right.

All over the globe, people watch over 6 billion hours of online video per month. Every month, YouTube gets more than 1 billion unique visitors. With backup data like that, marketers have started delivering videos directly to inboxes — with stunning results:

  • 55% increase in click-through rates
  • 44% more time spent reading emails
  • 41% more email sharing and forwarding
  • 24% increase in conversion rates
  • 20% increase in ROI
  • 14% higher average sales-order value

Overall, marketers who integrate video in email, generate 40% higher monthly revenues than those who do not.

In surveys, email marketers say video in email will be one of their ongoing strategies, with 81% saying they plan to use videos in their future email marketing campaigns.

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Video bestsellers

Video is easy to understand and has more instant emotional impact than text or static images. Recipients like to watch certain types of videos in particular. Promoting them via email can be a real game-changer for brands and their promo campaigns.

The most engaging and effective videos are: training courses, product videos, product promotions and customer testimonials.

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How to use videos the right way

There is no universal video format compatible with all email clients. For example, HTML5 works for only 25% of email clients. Marketers handle this drawback with a combination of techniques.

  • 29% use a static image hyperlinked to a dedicated video landing page.
  • 23% embed a video player in the email message.
  • 21% link to a page on a video-sharing network such as YouTube or Vimeo
  • 27% use animated GIF images in their messages.

All of these methods can work perfectly fine, but the most important thing isn’t how but why. An irrelevant video — even if it plays perfectly — won’t improve your metrics.

So today’s infographic includes best practices for making video email more effective.

  • Don’t make the video too long.
  • Mention video in the subject line.
  • Tag the video with relevant keywords.
  • Use a fallback image.
  • Direct clicks to a branded landing page.
  • Test different versions of your video.
  • Make your video the primary visual element of your message.
  • Don’t market a specific product with a general video. Make it specific.
  • Encourage your audience to share the video, and make it easy.

Today’s email marketing involves more than just persuasive copy and fancy pictures. It entails face-to-face communication – a new approach that is making a difference. This is where video comes in. It can help boost your leads, conversions, and sales — but only if you do it right and in compliance with audience expectations and needs.

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Your thoughts? 

Do you use videos in your emails? How do they work for you? Post a comment and share your ideas on how to optimize videos.

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Twitter GIF’s Are Finally Here! http://blog.getresponse.com/twitter-gifs-finally.html http://blog.getresponse.com/twitter-gifs-finally.html#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 14:07:04 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17160 Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) – the joy of Internet since 1987 has finally worked its way into our Twitter accounts, or has it? In reality what Twitter introduced was mp4′s with embedded HTML5 video tags. Now, most of us don’t … Read more

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Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) – the joy of Internet since 1987 has finally worked its way into our Twitter accounts, or has it? In reality what Twitter introduced was mp4′s with embedded HTML5 video tags. Now, most of us don’t really know what that means, but what you need to gather from that info is that these new moving images won’t slow down your feed or take long to load!

Most people are jumping with joy. I mean, this was a long time coming! Pinterest, Google +, and the greatest of them all Tumblr, have been supporting GIF’s a for a while now. After the success that Tumblr has gained thanks to GIF, it was bound to spread to other social media platforms.

If you still don’t know what you could possibly do with a GIF in your Twitter feed, think of this – 140 characters can’t possibly describe the happiness you feel because your new landing page has been a great success? Well, find a GIF that describes how you feel:

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See? Wasn’t that easy and fun?

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The big announcement

Twitter did what they do best, and sent out a tweet letting everyone know of the good news.

Twitter_gif

 

But wait! They didn’t stop there! Twitter took the liberty of creating a snazzy video message to go along with their tweet. Why did I say video message instead of GIF? Well, because when you upload a GIF it will be converted into an mp4 that will be easier for your newsfeed to handle.

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GIF vs. mp4 HTML5

When you think of a GIF you think of those choppy, crappy images that last for a millisecond. Don’t get me wrong, even the choppy images can be entertaining, but you have to take into consideration the fact that this is 30 year old technology that you’re looking at.

Timing and innovation. This is precisely why Twitter has chosen to go with newer technology. Think of the possibilities of a 100 kb mp4 with rich colors and can be stopped. Now you kind of forget about the fact that a 500 kb washed out GIF ever existed. Of course, we can’t simply get rid of GIFs right away, but nevertheless, with this new technology we might as well be moving in that direction.

The only thing that isn’t great about this new way of GIFing, is the fact that not all browsers are keen to make them work. Flash, not flash, Safari, Chrome, all these are a factor in how and if you see Twitter GIF’s.

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Twitter GIFs and marketing

Now that we know what we’re talking about, it’s time to figure out what we can do with this new gem in our marketing campaigns. There are four things that GIF’s can do:

  1. They will help your tweet stand out in the big buzz that is going on in the tweet deck
  2. They trigger emotions in us, remember that favorite Full House moment that put a smile on your face? Well, here’s a GIF of that moment, now don’t you want to click on our website?
  3. They’re easy to comprehend. Sometimes it’s easier to understand a short moving video than a 140 character long slogan.
  4. They give you a tiny window to free advertising. Vine and Instagram have allowed big brands to make short videos that help sell their products. Now Twitter is just another step in the 5 second free advertising direction.

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Brands that have welcomed GIF’s

 

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The joy was heard in all the realms of the Internet! You too can become a Twitter GIFer, all you need is a quick quote and a moving image to match what you want to tell. Maybe a funny face made by someone in everyone’s favorite TV show, maybe a puppy falling asleep? The possibilities are endless.

So GIF on and enjoy another great moving social platform!

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40 Little Changes to Your Business Blog (For Big Results) http://blog.getresponse.com/40-little-changes-business-blog-big-results.html http://blog.getresponse.com/40-little-changes-business-blog-big-results.html#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 14:50:26 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17148 If you have been blogging for your business for a while without seeing any results, you might be thinking, “blogging just doesn’t work in my industry”, “what’s the point if nobody is reading my blog?”, “maybe I should invest more … Read more

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If you have been blogging for your business for a while without seeing any results, you might be thinking, “blogging just doesn’t work in my industry”, “what’s the point if nobody is reading my blog?”, “maybe I should invest more in paid advertising and try to get leads from other avenues”, “blogging is a waste of my time”, “I don’t know how to blog. I suck at blogging.” Let me tell you that blogging works in almost any industry when done right.

Most business bloggers tend to make silly little mistakes when it comes to writing blog posts and creating content, they also don’t promote enough – or they are overly promotional and then wonder why nobody pays attention.

In this post, I am not going to give you the foundation of blogging for business (check out my 4-part Complete Guide to Successful Business Blogging). This would include things like identifying your ideal reader, clarifying your message and crafting a content strategy, creating a memorable brand and an irresistible opt-in offer. These require time and thinking, you need to schedule these tasks in your calendar to work on them.

In this post, I am going to give you 40 action steps you can start implementing today and they will make a big difference to your blog success. I will go in a logical order but you don’t have to follow it. You can start with what looks the easiest and makes the most sense to you. You don’t even have to do them all.

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#1 Ask someone to do a 3-sec test

Since you are very familiar with your own blog, you will not get the right result if you attempt to do this yourself.

Ask somebody who fits your ideal reader profile to click open your website and give them a few seconds to look through. When they are done, ask them if they were able to instantly see what the blog is about, what is the benefit of subscribing, and is it the right place for them. Based on the answers you can tweak a few things to make sure visitors don’t bounce off your website, especially the right ones.

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#2 Tweak your tagline

At this point, you probably can’t change the name of your website or your blog. You can however make your tagline more descriptive. Try to come up with a clear explanation of what the site and is about and who it is for. Remember, clear is better than clever.

content

#3 Don’t hide behind your content

I know some of us are more introverted than our counterparts but it is no reason not to put the spotlight on yourself. People find business blogs to be extremely boring because they get no sense of the person behind it. The blogger is often MIA and the content is as drab and dry it can get.

Put a smiling photo of yourself somewhere on the homepage. If your homepage is your blog, consider making it your header banner, or put a picture on the sidebar.

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#4 Make a great first impression

People often judge a book by its cover – same logic applies to your website (and pretty much anything else in life for that matter). Take a good look at your theme. Does it look professional and up to date or is it ancient? Is it stylish, easy to navigate, or is it too cluttered? Does it have a spammy feel to it?

You can either get someone to install a new theme for you or hire a designer to build you a brand new one. In any case, you can’t go wrong.

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#5 Add credibility building elements

People often forget to make full use of the press they have gotten recently. Maybe their product was mentioned in a high profile magazine of maybe they were interviewed on TV. Some people are featured in prominent online sites and many have new guest posts appear in A-list blogs. Let your visitors know you have clout. Mention all these appearances and features in a prominent position. It is not bragging, it is about stand out from the crowd.

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#6 Stand out from the crowd

Differentiate yourself from others from the get go. Highlight your unique selling point. Why should the readers pay attention to you? What do you bring to the table that is different to what others are offering? If you specialize in an industry, say so. If you focus on a particular area, make it clear so that a first time visitor can be absolutely positive that they are in the right place.

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#7 Add a killer about page

Create an ‘About’ page that is interesting to your prospects. Be genuine here, show that you are human. Tell them how you can help them, what your credentials are, and your story. Emphasize your USP. Learn from the popular bloggers and model how they do it.

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#8 Highlight your best content

Your blog is not static. Every time you publish new content or update it, the older content is pushed down. Some of your best content gets pushed off the main page and becomes invisible as new visitors will not dig deep for relevant content.

Make it easy for them to discover your best content. Add links to your sidebar and title it something like ‘Reader Favorites’, ‘Most Popular’, or ‘Posts I recommend’. Your new visitors get to sample the very best and spend more time on your site. It’s a win-win.

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#9 Add resource boxes to your sidebar

You have probably written a bunch of posts on a single topic. For example, you are a fitness coach and you have talked about the right lifestyle to reap the most reward from the exercise regime. All you have to do is pick the best posts under this topic, five or so, and create a separate content landing page for it. Add some introductory content and add the links to your individual blog posts. Now create a small banner with this topic (Lifestyle in this case) and add this to your sidebar. This is your resource box.

Every time someone visits your blog and they want to explore a topic more deeply, they can click on these resource boxes and browse to their heart’s content. Make sure you pick the topics that would appeal to your ideal customer/client.

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#10 Add testimonials to the sidebar

It’s a great idea to sprinkle testimonials within your website, what is even better is to pick a few short testimonials from super happy clients or customers and use a plugin to have them show up on the sidebar in a sliding fashion. Every time someone looks, they get to see a short, sweet testimonial that they haven’t seen before. Pick your best ones for this coming from high profile customers.

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#11 De-clutter your sidebar

It’s fairly common to see newish business blogs with tons of information, plugins, banners, and advertising on the sidebar.

I am going to give you two very good reasons for keeping it uncluttered. Number one, you don’t want to put any external links which will take people off your website. Links such as advertising, especially if they hardly make you any money, or any other links to your favourite blogs, etc.

Secondly, you don’t want people to get overwhelmed. You can easily take off things like new tweets, archives, search box, tag clouds, or any other link that people are not very likely to click in the first place.

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#12 Position and promote your opt-in incentive

Even if you have a feature box on the top of the website, a hello bar, or a pop up, it is a very good idea to place a sign-up box on the sidebar, just above the fold (so people can see it without having to scroll down).

This is where most readers expect it to be when it comes to subscribing to a blog so don’t forget this one. Also, promote your freebie. Share a link of social media platforms repeatedly and regularly. Make a big fuss when you first release it. Many new business owners find it easier to promote their incentive than their offerings.

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#13 Start making use of an autoresponder

Use an email autoresponder if you aren’t doing so already. When somebody signs up to your email list, they are truly interested in hearing from you. They have put their hand up to receive more information and they want to know more. Now, if you go without getting in touch for week or more, their enthusiasm will dampen. And you may have caused a hot lead to go cold.

Set up an email responder so every time somebody signs up, they start receiving a sequence of emails. Within each email, you can put links to relevant blog content to drive traffic to older, evergreen content they might have not seen otherwise.

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#14 Commit to a publishing frequency + batch it

Now we are looking at all things content. Think about how often you can publish and be realistic here. There is no point in killing yourself here – remember your blog is there to attract your ideal audience and help promote your products and services. Stick to a schedule you can manage easily. I recommend once a week.

You can also try batching your writing for the month. Mark one day in your calendar and sit down and crank out all the blog posts for that month. You may find it easier to do so and get all four posts done quicker.

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#15 Publish content that attract clients

Keep your ideal client or customer in mind when you are crafting blog posts. Think about content that will be super useful to them. Content where you answer questions about your product or service, content that leads up to your offerings, success stories, your personal stories, and pure how-to content – they all work a treat.

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#16 Work on your headlines

When it comes to blog posts, there is tough competition no doubt, but one way to rise above the competition and be noticed is to pay attention to your headlines. Spend some time learning how to write effective headlines that arouse curiosity or promise a benefit so compelling that nobody can resist them.

Remember to make them, urgent, unique, useful, and ultra-specific (4 U formula).

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#17 Write to your ideal reader

Imagine sitting across your ideal reader and having a friendly chat with them. This is how you want to approach writing your blog post.

Address one person, imagine them and write something that will be relevant to their needs. If what you are writing about doesn’t interest them in anyway, don’t publish it.

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#18 Offer value, don’t sell

Do not only write about issues you find interesting. This is not your online journal. It is okay to write about personal stories as long as there is a lesson to learn or a takeaway reader will walk away with.

On the other hand, don’t make your content overly promotional. Don’t try to sell in every blog post. People read blogs to get closer to solving a problem of fulfilling a desire – they aren’t expecting to be sold to in every post.

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#19 Mix your content types

Keep it interesting. Follow a variety of formats. You can write posts but you can also use graphics or make videos. You can also do straight up educational posts, such as how-to content, or you can publish linkbait where you link to the industry leaders in your niche.

Play with your post length. You can use short blog posts (less than 1000 words) or create in-depth guides/long form content (2500+ words), like the one you are reading now.

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#20 Link to older content

Be sure to interlink your content. You have spent valuable time on creating this content, treat it like an asset.

For this I recommend keeping a running record of your posts. On a spread sheet, record the title of the post, the category/topic it is published under, the date and link. Now when you write a new post, all you have to do is take a look at your spreadsheet and find 2-3 relevant links to point readers to.

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#21 Do round-up posts

Once a month, or when you a strapped for time, you can do a round-up post where you provide links to all the content your published in the last month or so (depending on how many times you publish).

This, too, will give your readers a chance to discover some content they might have missed, especially the new ones.

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#22 Link to others

It is fine to link to others but be strategic here. Don’t link to people who are direct competitors but to those who complement what you have to offer. You don’t want to be sending your hard earned audience to a competitor.

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#23 Show your personality

Remember to inject your personality in your writing. People are reading your blog because they are interested in YOU. They want to connect with you. They can get the information anywhere but what they need is a trusted advisor.

The vast majority of business or corporate blogs are utterly boring for this exact reason. Either the owner writes in a totally dull corporate voice, full of jargon that nobody wants to read or they write like a robot. Be yourself. Allow people to see you for who you are.

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#24 Employ an editor

Be sure to proofread your content. Hire a proofreader or even an editor if you feel writing is not your strong suit.

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#25 Use eye catching images

Definitely look for compelling images for your blog posts. Don’t use the highly common stock images where you see actors with cheesy poses such as throwing their hands in the air or making faces with overly exaggerated emotions. There are plenty of sites that offer free images with Creative Commons License or with minimal cost.

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#26 Make your content screen friendly

This one is super important and probably one of the commonest mistakes that I see business bloggers make all the time.

Don’t write big, chunky paragraphs. Split them up. It is fine to write a one sentence paragraph. Use sub-headings, bulleted and numbered lists. Use bold to highlight important information. Make it visually appealing.

People are reading on their devices. You want to make it easy for them.

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#27 Add social media buttons and calls to action

Don’t forget to add social media buttons (and a subscription form) at the end of every post. But don’t go crazy here! If you give people too many choices, they are more likely to do nothing. Where does your audience hang out? Give them that option and a few more.

By the same token, don’t ask people for too many actions. Don’t ask them to leave a comment, share on 10 different sites, email to their friends, sign up, check out the links, send you their thoughts … it’s too much. Stick to the most important call to action per post.

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#28 Optimize for search engines

When you write your content, don’t stuff it with keywords. Yes, SEO is important but nobody wants to read incomprehensible garbage. The best way to optimize for humans and search engines both is to make a list of actual phrases people are using to find your products or similar products and build your content around that. Win – win.

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#29 Track your metrics

You don’t want to spend huge time on the blog without knowing what kind of ROI you are getting on your efforts. Install Google Analytics to find out the sources you are getting your traffic from and look at their behavior. Where are they spending most of time? Which content is popular? Which pages are they exiting on? What does your bounce rate look like? Pay attention to your data and plan accordingly.

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#30 Email your list when you update your blog

Many people assume that people visit their blogs regularly. Don’t make this mistake. Let people know when you update it and add fresh content.

Pay attention to the open and click-through rates for more information on how to create your content strategy.

#31 Be present in your community

Don’t be one of those bloggers who never hang out in their own community. If you want people to engage in your community, leave comments and be a part of the discussion, then you’ve got to show them that they are important and what they say matters. Reply to their comments and emails. Acknowledge your most loyal readers and commenters publically.

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#32 Promote on one to two social media platforms

Now we are looking at some quick tips to promote your content. Writing a blog post is not enough, you have got to promote it multiple times on various social media platforms. But this doesn’t mean that you have to be on every single platform, it’s not possible, first think about where your audience is most likely hanging out already. Is it Facebook, Twitter, or Google+? Perhaps you are a visual brand and your ideal customer is active on Pinterest? Choose wisely.

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#33 Do guest posting

If you enjoy content creation, try guest posting. Make a list of blogs your ideal reader is most likely reading and start forming connections with the owners of those blogs. Research the blogs to know what content is being popular and what kind of content are they publishing. Send them a pitch proposing your idea. Make this a part of your ongoing strategy.

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#34 Do webinars, podcast or video

You can do webinars to attract people and build your email list. These can be live or pre-recorded.

You can start a podcast or YouTube channel. If you are comfortable talking to people, either on or off camera, this could be a good option for you.

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#35 Run Facebook ads

Try Facebook ads. Promote your posts to get them a bigger reach.

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#36 Get in touch with the influencers

Connect with the movers and shakers of your industry.

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#37 Join online forums and Facebook groups

Online forums and Facebook groups are huge sources of highly valuable information. You can find what your ideal audiences are talking about and what questions they are asking. You can be of service to these people here, form genuine connections, link to your blog posts and even promote your products or services.

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#38 Create a presentation on SlideShare

Or get someone to do it for you.

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#39 Give interviews

Reach out to people in your industry and see if they would like to interview you on their blog or in their podcast.

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#40 Get some PR

Join sites like HARO – Help A Reporter Out where you respond to queries posted by journalists for their stories. You will be quoted, featured or even interviewed and get some good press.

What do you think?

What changes will you be making to your blog next?

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Post Penguin Guest Blogging http://blog.getresponse.com/post-penguin-guest-blogging.html http://blog.getresponse.com/post-penguin-guest-blogging.html#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 14:27:13 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17138 Guest blogging has come under increased scrutiny of late and Google has updated its algorithms to dissuade the practice. However guest blogging does have marked benefits if implemented correctly, so it’s worth understanding the process before attempting it. Google’s main … Read more

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Guest blogging has come under increased scrutiny of late and Google has updated its algorithms to dissuade the practice. However guest blogging does have marked benefits if implemented correctly, so it’s worth understanding the process before attempting it.

Google’s main algorithm changes have focused on improving site quality and they aim to develop a better catalogue of relevant links between sites. This is something that guest blogging can accomplish but it can also be open to abuse.

SEO techniques aren’t always implemented well and often they can be detrimental to a business’ reputation and search engine ranking. The last Penguin update from Google to its search algorithms (Penguin 5 with Penguin 2.1 anti-spam technology, released October 2013) looks set to affect guest bloggers and perhaps even discourage the practice.

However guest blogging can be a valid strategy so let’s consider the Google update and its potential changes to the way that guest blogging is conducted.

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Guest blogging is…

It often seems like many internet writers don’t fully understand or utilise the guest blogging practice. The most basic definition is simply finding a blog and offering to write content for it. This has benefits for both the webmaster and the writer of the content. The webmaster gets high quality content that drives traffic to their site and the writer gets increased exposure to a new, pre-existing audience base.

Guest blogging rose in popularity recently, but as a practice it’s been around for some time. For as long as the internet and websites have existed writers have developed and written content for as many sites as possible. This has created an environment full of content and this is an area that Google hopes to moderate.

It wasn’t always the go-to practice, however the last few years have seen it become increasingly popular. In the past there were much easier ways to build links that didn’t require nearly as much work as guest blogging and often achieved much better results. For a while other SEO tactics were used but Google caught on to them.

Prior to guest blogging some popular link building tactics included:

  • Link Exchanges
  • Directory Links
  • Forum Links
  • Article Marketing – this practice shouldn’t be confused with guest blogging
  • Article marketing was a practice that involved submitting (usually) low quality articles to content farms

Over time Google noticed that spammers were trying to manipulate search rankings and so it tweaked its algorithms to prevent those negative SEO tactics from succeeding. This is now the position that guest blogging finds itself in. As older link building tactics became abused and devalued, SEOs turned to guest blogging as a way to build links post-Penguin.

Guest blogging can be a win-win situation for both the webmaster and the writer and it can benefit readers, authors, and the niche community. However, it doesn’t always work that way, and often guest blogging is a practice that’s seriously abused and utilised incorrectly.

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Guest posting can be a bad idea

This is a view shared by Google and now the tech search giant has taken a strong and definitive stand against the practice. In January of 2014 Matt Cutts effectively put the final nail in guest blogging’s coffin.

“So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done; it’s just gotten too spammy. In general I wouldn’t recommend accepting a guest blog post unless you are willing to vouch for someone personally or know them well. Likewise, I wouldn’t recommend relying on guest posting, guest blogging sites, or guest blogging SEO as a linkbuilding strategy.”

The internet changed with the introduction of Penguin and Panda and the criteria behind quality links has become much clearer. Now a good link is one that comes from a high quality site and the site should be relevant to your niche, have an overall topic, be of high quality, and have a sense of community that all dovetails around your particular issues. The last criteria are that the site must have an active following, good user engagement, and interaction, while also being shared through social media networks.

Guest blogging can tick all of the above boxes so as a practice it isn’t quite as dead as many believe it to be. However guest blogging has been misused in recent times and many articles that have appeared online haven’t been of a good or high quality. The articles were published on sites with very little relevance, no quality checks, and a complete lack of reader engagement.

This led to the present situation where sites have huge lists of back links but those links are spammy, unnatural, and ultimately harmful to the site’s standing in the eyes of Google.

 

Is guest blogging worth it?

Firstly, it’s worth assessing your own practices. If you suspect that your guest blogging may fall foul of Google then you need to stop. Google can slap a costly penalty on sites that it deems to be purveying bad SEO tactics. This penalty is hard to fight against and it often can be very costly to a business.

These days it seems fair to say that building links is a secondary concern of guest blogging. The main thrust behind this practice is to create valuable content that highlights your brand, its philosophy, and reaches the correct audience. You really need to evaluate the content that you’re writing and its relevancy and quality.

Here’s a quick checklist to avoid getting penalised by Google (we’ll look at it really briefly):

  • Article Quality – the writing needs to be clear, fluent, and avoid bad grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Hyperlinks – these must be relevant and from trusted sources
  • Lack of social connections – your articles must be read, shared, and found via the main social networking sites
  • General site quality – make sure the site that you’re posting content to is a reputable one
  • When approaching editors stress that you want to post as a means to offering their readership something highly relevant and useful and to increase visibility of your brand. Do offer more than one post and do offer some samples of previous work – don’t bother editors on a daily basis either as this just irritates

I get a lot of requests for guest posts and very few come up to standard and it’s obvious that the only goal is a link. With this in mind, understand that editors of big sites might get up to 20 requests per day, so you should avoid wasting their time. This means that you should approach, in the first instance, with an outline and title of your idea, then if approved write it up, send it off, and forget about it. There’s nothing worse than getting an email every single day from someone wanting a guest post put up after submission and this often leads to the article ending up in trash.

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It’s also worth pointing out that you should use an editor’s name wherever possible and ensure that you’re sending the piece to the right one. Avoid using templates – make it personal. Again, editors are accustomed to seeing the usual “I came across your blog and I really liked it so I thought I’d submit… all I ask in return is a link back to my site…” and will reject you if you come across as just another link chasing SEO with nothing concrete to offer.

Guest blogging is a practice that is falling out of favour in the online world. However it can be hugely beneficial to a business and it can increase its exposure. Make sure that you’re writing high quality content that you’d stand behind (and that Google will like). The SEO landscape is full of people who do the job badly – don’t be one of them. Focus on quality and pride yourself in your work and you’ll stand out in the increasingly crowded online world.

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Persuasion and Psychology in Boosting Conversion http://blog.getresponse.com/persuasion-psychology-boosting-conversion.html http://blog.getresponse.com/persuasion-psychology-boosting-conversion.html#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 14:37:16 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17125 People are smart. People are irrational. People are all kinds of things – and even science hasn’t figured us out yet. What is also important to keep in mind is that while internet and technology have changed at a rapid … Read more

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People are smart. People are irrational. People are all kinds of things – and even science hasn’t figured us out yet. What is also important to keep in mind is that while internet and technology have changed at a rapid pace, human brain has been pretty much the same for millions of years. And probably will continue to be.

There are some psychological principles we can use to boost conversions that will always work. Mr. Cialdini is undoubtedly the biggest authority in that field. His books are bestsellers and have been on the “must-read” list for marketers and copywriters for years.

Cialdini came up with six scientific principles of persuasion that will help guide you to become more effective at getting people to do what you want. In case you have no idea what those principles are, here’s a summary:

 

Principle 1: Reciprocity

People feel obligated to give back to those who have given to them.

How to use it: teach your prospect something useful in your copy, give away free stuff and better yet – add value to your prospects long before you even start to sell them something.

 

Principle 2: Liking

We prefer to say “yes” to those that we know and like.

How to use it: talk/write like a human, connect with the reader, share details about yourself, etc. Show an attractive picture on the landing page. Go for a simple design.

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Principle 3: Social proof

People decide what’s appropriate for them to do in a situation by examining and following what others are doing. Nobody wants to be the only idiot subscribing to your offer.

How to use it: show how many others are already using your product or service. Show off your impressive numbers (e.g. 10,000 happy customers). Use testimonials. Display mentions in the media.

 

Principle 4: Authority

People rely on those with superior knowledge or perspective for guidance on how to respond AND what decision to make.

How to use it: Demonstrate your expertise. Show off your resume and results. Get celebrity (in your niche) endorsements.

 

Principle 5: Consistency and commitment

We have a deep need to be seen as consistent. As such, once we have publicly committed to something or someone, then we are so much more likely to go through and deliver on that commitment…hence consistency. This can be explained, from a psychological perspective, by the fact that people have established commitment as being in line with their self-image.

How to use it: Web forms is one area where this can be used. Make it align perfectly with the message that brought them to the page (e.g. ad copy) and the whole point of the page, so the form language would encourage consistency.

Example: eHarmony. Take a look at the form, and look at the sequence of form fields.

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You’re asked your name, where you’re from and who’re you looking for (commitment).CTA is extremely important: declaring the final intent to find a mate, in writing, up front.

The button copy – “Find My Matches” — is another form of “committing” to the match-making process. What follows is a really long questionnaire, and without the commitment completion rates would be much lower.

 

Principle 6: Scarcity

Opportunities appear more valuable when they are less available.

How to use it: Use time or quantity limited bonuses. Limit access to your product. Promote exclusivity.

Decision making is not logical, use and inspire emotions

A few years ago, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio made a groundbreaking discovery. He studied people with damage in the part of the brain where emotions are generated. He found that they seemed normal, except that they were not able to feel emotions. But they all had something peculiar in common: they couldn’t make decisions.

They could describe what they should be doing in logical terms, yet they found it very difficult to make even simple decisions, such as what to eat. Many decisions have pros and cons on both sides—shall I have the chicken or the turkey? With no rational way to decide, these test subjects were unable to arrive at a decision.

So at the point of decision, emotions are very important for choosing. In fact even with what we believe are logical decisions, the very point of choice is arguably always based on emotion.

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The decision making part of the human brain is very emotional

You must create a vision for prospects to bring about decision on their part. In the end, people will make the decision because they want to. Avoid telling people what to think or what’s best. You help them discover for themselves what feels right and best, and most advantageous to them by presenting your case using contrast and simple, tangible language and demonstration.

Their ultimate decision is based on self-interest. That’s emotional. “I want this. This is good for me”. Remember, old brain is selfish.  When we’re selling product, we need to make a compelling emotional and rational case.

They should be able to fall in love with it emotionally, and justify it rationally. Lead with emotional and inspirational content: large images, aspirational headlines. Emotional decision making dominates, so it’s critical to lead with that.

Once they’ve made a decision that they want it, people want to be able to justify the purchase. Hence back everything up with specifics, so they could rationalize the decision. Assess website and product copy presentation to see whether emotional and rational decision making both have been addressed.

Now go and add some emotions and psychological triggers onto your landing page!

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Top 38 Books Every Online Entrepreneur Must Read http://blog.getresponse.com/top-38-books-every-online-entrepreneur-must-read.html http://blog.getresponse.com/top-38-books-every-online-entrepreneur-must-read.html#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 13:47:58 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17110 Entrepreneurs and small business owners are busy people. They have to-do lists a mile long. They are always prioritizing and editing their daily tasks. Most of them which won’t get done on the day. Not only they are running their … Read more

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Entrepreneurs and small business owners are busy people. They have to-do lists a mile long. They are always prioritizing and editing their daily tasks. Most of them which won’t get done on the day. Not only they are running their businesses but also investing their own development – personal and professional both.

They attend conferences, attend webinars, subscribe to leading publications in their industry, enroll in training programs and of course hire mentors and business coaches. Sometimes they are super busy though. They want to learn something new or open up their mind to new possibilities but just don’t have the time for full blown training, or maybe they can’t afford to hire the right business coach or invest in more training right this minute.

What’s the solution? Well – what’s the next best thing to hiring someone whom you’d like to learn from and pick their brains, in the shortest possible time and with minimum cost? Pick up their book, of course.

But you say business books are so boring, dry, and most don’t apply to you as an owner of a tiny business. Yes, there are books geared towards helping CEOs and large corporation managers, but there are also books perfect for your needs.

And today I have made a list of books I consider a must read for you. And the best thing, they are the opposite of boring. In fact they are so engaging and enlightening that once you start one, you would not be able to put it down – I promise.

So let’s get started. I have categorized them for you by topic so it is easier for you to make the best choice based on your current situation. I have also listed some takeaways that personally resonated for me. Enjoy.

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Content marketing

#1 Clout: The Art and Science of Highly Influential Web Content by Colleen Jones

Clout is influence or pull. On the web, it allows you to attract the right people at the right time, and change what they think or do. So what doesn’t? Targeting customers with manipulative tricks, publishing more instead of better web content, spending too much time or money on SEO and getting on social networks without any thoughts of supporting content

Learn the principles of influence, not tactics. Truly understand them before you publish.

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#2 Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, ebooks, Webinars and More that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley

Do you know the essentials of killer content? Find an authentic voice and craft bold content that resonates with your audience. Leverage social media to get your content and ideas distributed. And understand why you are generating content and write to communicate your message across various media.

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#3 Content Strategy for the Web by Christina Halvorson

What is content strategy?

Step1: It describes how you are going to use content to meet your business (or project) goals as well as your user needs.

Step 2: It guides decisions regarding content.

Step 3: It sets benchmarks against which to measure the success of your content.

Remember, web writing is much more than smart copywriting. An effective web writer must also understand the basics of user experience (UX) design to create content that simply works.

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#4 The New Rules of Marketing & PR: How to Use Social Media, Online Video, Mobile Applications, Blogs, News Releases, and Viral Marketing to Reach Buyers Directly by David Meerman Scott

Create content for niche audiences and tell them an online story about your product – a story that is created especially for them. By truly understanding the needs and the mindset of few buyer personas, you will be able to create appropriate content.

Think like a publisher. Consider these questions.

  • Who are my readers?
  • How can I reach them?
  • What are their motivations?
  • What are their problems I can help solve?
  • How do I entertain and inform at the same time?
  • What content will compel them to purchase an offer?

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#5 Get Content Get Customers: Turn Prospects into Buyers with Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi and Newt Barrett

The new rules of marketing tell us that what customers want is valuable content that will improve their lives. In order to truly transform your content, you need a new mindset as well as skills to match.

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#6 Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs by Brian Halligan, B Dharmesh Shah

Inbound marketing helps to improve your rankings in Google to get more traffic and builds and promotes a blog for your business. You can grow and nurture a community in Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Measure what matters and do more of what works online. Stop pushing your message out and start pulling your customers in.

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#7 Optimize: How to Attract and Engage More Customers by Integrating SEO, Social Media, and Content Marketing by Lee Odden

  1. Create a blueprint for integrated search, social media and content marketing strategy.
  2. Determine best result tactics and implement holistic search and social optimization.
  3. Measure the business value of content marketing and scale online marketing success.

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Creativity

#8 The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles by Steven Pressfield

“Are you a writer who doesn’t write, a painter who doesn’t paint, an entrepreneur who never starts a venture? Then you know what resistance is. Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet.”

Resistance is something that arises from within, is universal, most power at the finish line and most commonly manifests as procrastination

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#9 Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon

Get in touch with your artistic side. Know that creativity is everywhere and creativity is for everyone. Nothing is original. You don’t need to be a genius – you just need to be yourself.

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#10 Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky 

Organization is a major force for making ideas happen. Creativity X Organization = Impact. This is why “less creative” people produce more work than their talented peers. You can maximize execution by following 3-step process.

  • Step 1 Capture action steps
  • Step 2 Add to references
  • Step 3 Label backburner items

Celebrate successes. Progress begets progress.

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#11 Accidental Creative How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice by Todd Henry

How to be brilliant? Well, in a nutshell, focus on your most critical work, develop stimulating relationships, manage your energy effectively, curate stimuli that help you stay mentally focused, and leverage your hours.

  • Prolific + brilliant + healthy = producing great work consistently
  • Prolific + brilliant – healthy = burnout
  • Brilliant + healthy – prolific = unreliable
  • Prolific – brilliant + healthy = mediocre or inferior quality work

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#12 Accidental Genius: Using Writing to Generate Your Best Ideas, Insight, and content by Mark Levy

Feeling like the well of ideas has run dry? Here is a solution when conventional thinking no longer works. The answer is freewriting, a technique many writers have used for years to solve all types of business problems, and generate ideas for books, articles and blog posts.

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Influence

#13 Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

The Golden Circle explains how you should take action.

  • What you do? The outer circle. The consistency of ‘what’ gives you results.
  • How you do it? The middle one. The discipline of ‘how’ drives action.
  • Why you do it? The heart and centre of your business. Your cause. The clarity of ‘why’ are your values and guiding principles.

If you don’t know your ‘why’, you can’t know ‘how’. When you believe in ‘why’, success just happens.

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#14 Influence: Science and Practice by Robert B. Cialdini

Six main compliance techniques that you can use to trigger the influences that already exist in the situation:

  • Reciprocation – people feel obligated to return the favours they receive.
  • Commitment and consistency – people want to be perceived as consistent and they stay committed to appear just that.
  • Social proof – people view behaviours to be correct if they see others doing it.
  • Liking – people comply with requests when made by people they like.
  • Authority – people do things if even if they don’t want to.
  • Scarcity – Opportunities seem more valuable when their availability is limited.

As long as you are honest, it is okay to use persuasion techniques in business and personal life.

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#15 Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead

The golden hallmarks of a fascinating message are that it provokes strong and immediate emotional reactions, creates advocates, becomes cultural shorthand, incites conversations, forces competitors to realign around it and triggers social revolutions

Nothing itself is fascinating. When something activates a trigger, we are compelled to focus. The context and meaning will determine whether a person or product is fascinating.

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#16 Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath

SUCCESs – six principles of sticky ideas:

  • Simplicity – create ideas that are simple. Prioritize and strip to the core.
  • Unexpected – get people to pay attention (surprise) and maintain their interest.
  • Concrete – easiest to remember and embrace.
  • Credible – make it believable.
  • Emotional – inject emotion, make people care. They will take action.
  • Stories – provide simulation (knowledge about how to act) and inspiration (motivation to act).

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#17 Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World by Michael Hyatt

Are you looking to create a product?

  • Create a product that you would personally use.
  • Create products that solve problems in unexpected ways
  • Create products that exceeds your audience expectations

Bake in the wow.

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#18 Launch: How to Quickly Propel Your Vision Beyond the Competition by Michael Stelzner

To overcome gravity drag, you business must overcome escape velocity. Start with the end in mind and work backwards. How to create your vision? Ask yourself:

  • What do I want to achieve?
  • Where do I want to go?
  • Why do I want it?
  • Can I rally others around my mission?
  • What perceived problems am I addressing?

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#19 Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions by Guy Kawasaki

Three pillars of engagement are likeability, trustworthiness and having a great cause.

The content can be news, personal or educational. There are four kinds of stories. Inspirational, underdog success, courage and personal.

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#20 The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell

The tipping point is that magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire.

There are three kinds of gifted people:

  • Connectors have an extraordinary knack of making friends and forming relationships.
  • Mavens are accumulators of knowledge; they teach (and learn).
  • Salespeople are masters of persuasion.

Which one are you?

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#21 Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust By Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

Six main tenets that will make you a trust agent are:

  • Standing out
  • Belonging
  • Leverage
  • Networking
  • Soft Skills and
  • Strength in numbers

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#22 The Art of Explanation: Making Your Ideas, Products and Services Easy to Understand by Lee Lefever

An explanation is used to describe the cause, content and consequences. An explanation is not a description, definition, instruction, elaboration, report or illustration. They all contribute towards improving an explanation. Explanation requires empathy. It is a way to package ideas in a new way that helps answer the question ‘why’ and make people care.

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#23 To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink

  • Do you earn your living trying to convince others to purchase goods or services?
  • Do you work for yourself?
  • Does your work require elastic skills?
  • Do you work in education or healthcare ED-MD?

If so, you are in sales.

The age of ABC (Always be closing) is over. The three qualities to move people are

A – attunement

B – buoyancy

C – clarity

If your project can’t attract support, it is going to fail.

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#24 Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

Here are the STEPS that create word of mouth, that help ideas spread.

  • Social currency
  • Triggers
  • Emotion
  • Public
  • Practical value
  • Stories

Content with emotions causing high arousal such as awe, excitement and amusement are more likely to spread than contentment or sadness.

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#25 The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? by Chris Brogan & Julien Smith

Impact = C X (R + E + A + T + E)

Here’s how this equation can be explained:

  • Contrast – ideas that needs to be familiar enough to be understood and yet different enough to stand out
  • Reach – more people
  • Exposure – how often you connect with them
  • Articulation – clear
  • Trust
  • Echo – feeling of connection you give to your audience

Rate yourself on all these factors.

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Conversion

#26 Convert: Designing Websites to Increase Traffic and Conversion by Ben Hunt

Awareness ladder is a model that allows you to approach every page on your site with precision. It details the steps your audience is currently at.

Step 0 – Don’t think they have a problem/need

Step 1 – They know they have a problem but are not aware of solutions.

Step 2 – Aware of some solutions, but not yours.

Step 3 – Know about your solution but not its benefits

Step 4 – Know its benefits but not ready to buy

Step 5 – Ready to buy.

For conversion, you must take people up the awareness ladder, one step at a time. Change your products to propositions, features to benefits, Us to You.

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#27 Don’t Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability by Steve Krug

Open any web page blindly. You should be able to answer these questions:

  • What site is this?
  • What page am I on?
  • What are the major sections?
  • What are my options (local navigation)?
  • Where am I?
  • How can I search?

People don’t always choose the best option, they choose the first reasonable one – they satisfice (a term coined by economist Herbert Simon, A cross between satisfying and sufficing.)

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Motivation

#28 Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

We have three innate psychological needs: competency, autonomy and relatedness. When these needs are met, we are productive, satisfied and happy.

You can be Type X where the main motivator is external reward, or, you can be Type I where freedom, challenge and purpose of undertaking are the main motivators. Other gains are welcome but merely a bonus. Doesn’t snub money or recognition but mental well-being is more important.

Mastery is an asymptote. You can approach it, home on it. You can get really, really close but you can never touch it.

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#29 Talent is overrated – What really separates world class performers from everybody else? by Geoff Colvin

If you ever wonder about why some people become so successful, if you ever look (with open mouthed wonder) at world class athletes, chess players, writers, musicians or business people and ask yourself, what’s their secret?, then you must read this book.

It’s not something they are born with, the author assures us.The reason behind their huge success is deliberate practice.

So how does deliberate practice change a person? They perceive more and look further ahead. They pick up not so obvious indicators, know more from seeing less, make finer discriminations and remember more.

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#30 Switch; How to Change Things When Change is Hard by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Think of your emotional side as an elephant and the rational side as a rider perched atop, holding its reins, seeming to be the leader. But look at their sizes. Anytime the rider and the elephant disagree, the rider is going to lose.

To make lasting changes, you must direct the rider, motivate the elephant and shape the path. Investigate the bright spots. Find out what is working.

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#31 The Power of Habit (Why We Do What We Do) by Charles Duhigg

By putting together a cue, a routine and a reward and then cultivating a craving that drives the loop, a habit is formed. The golden rule of habit change states that you can’t extinguish a bad habit; you can only change it using the same cue, providing the same reward and changing the routine. You also have to believe that the change is feasible.

Start with keystone habits and you will cause widespread shifts. Finding them is a little tricky though.

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#32 So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Carl Newport

Motivation in the workplace requires that you fulfill three psychological needs.

  • Autonomy – control
  • Competence – good at what you do
  • Relatedness – feeling of connection to other people.

The craftsmen mindset: Focus on what you offer to the world

The passion mindset: What the world offers you

Three traits that define great work: creativity, impact, control.

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#33 Mindset: The psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

Carol Dweck talks about growth mindset (vs. fixed), one in which you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress. Your fate is one of growth and opportunity. Praise the effort rather than ability.

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#34 The Dip: The Little Book that Teaches You when to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin

Winners do quit. They quit fast and they quit often, especially when they are in the Cul-De-Sac which will never get better. Know when you are in a dip, which is a temporary setback which will get better.

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#35 Now, Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham

What is a strength?

  • The consistent, near perfect performance in a activity.
  • Can be done consistently.
  • Must also drive some intrinsic satisfaction from it.

Talents + Knowledge + Skills = Strengths

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#36 The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right by Atul Gawande

Put knowledge to good use, prevent mistakes. The checklist should have 7-9 items, clear instructions and killer items (failure to do something will cause great damage). Not everything is included in a checklist.

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#37 The Big Moo: Stop Trying to be Perfect and Start being Remarkable by Seth Godin

Differentiate your customers. Find the groups that are most profitable and reward them. Ignore the rest. Your products should not cater to the masses. They should cater to the customers you will choose if you could choose them.

The opposite of remarkable is very good. It is not bad or mediocre or poorly done. Are you making very good stuff? How fast can you stop? (Make remarkable stuff instead.)

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#38 Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers are people who lie outside the norm – who enjoy tremendous success.

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Only being intelligent is not enough. You need the right guidance and the environment and 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. I know there are so many titles worthy of being on this list. I had to make some hard choices otherwise the list would have gone on forever.

So allow me to ask you then, you online entrepreneur. What would you add to this list?

Top 38 Books Every Online Entrepreneur Must Read is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Google My Business – Getting found online with ease! http://blog.getresponse.com/google-business-getting-found-online-ease.html http://blog.getresponse.com/google-business-getting-found-online-ease.html#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 14:03:02 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=17094 Recently we’ve talked about list of directories that you should look into if you want to improve you online presence and brand awareness. Just this month, Google announced another great solution that will help you get your business out there. … Read more

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Recently we’ve talked about list of directories that you should look into if you want to improve you online presence and brand awareness. Just this month, Google announced another great solution that will help you get your business out there. In just a matter of minutes you can reach your new and existing clients right where they are. Let’s check out Google My Business, the new one-stop-shop for getting found online.

 

Google My Business

Google My Business brings together all the different tools offered by Google (such as Google Maps, Google+, etc. ) under one roof to help your business shine online. The idea behind the concept is to improve the ways brands manage their public image in order to make it easier for their clients to find exactly the information they’re looking after.

It’s designed mainly for small offline business that often find it difficult to get in touch with their existing and potential clients. Even if you don’t actually sell online, your clients may be doing their research prior to wanting to pop in to your store and picking up the product. They will most likely want to find out where you’re located, what others think about your business and see what you have to offer.

 

 

If you want to reach your customers the right way and be visible in the places they tend to search through, you should definitely make use of all the methods available on the market. The more information you provide regarding your business, the more likely it will be that someone interested in your offer comes across your name. Thus, check out the previously listed directories and social media channels we have talked about as they can be a serious game changer for your business, even if you don’t actually sell online.

 

What to expect

With the newly introduced suite of tools you’ll be able to manage your social and online presence (amongst Google’s products) in one place. As Google team puts it, the updated solution will enable you to do the following things in just a matter of minutes:

  • Update your business info on Search, Maps, and Google+ from one place
  • Add beautiful photos of your business and a virtual tour or your business interior
  • Connect directly with fans and customers by sharing news, events, and other important updates from a Google+ page
  • Stay on top of reviews from across the web, and respond to Google reviews
  • Understand how people find and interact with your business using custom insights and integration with AdWords Express

It is important to note that all existing clients using Google’s other solutions i.e. Google Places for Business and Google+ will be upgraded to the new Dashboard to secure the same level of experience. On top of that, along with the new look Android and iOS Apps are also released so that the business can manage their presence while on the go.

 

How to set it up

To set up the Google My Business account just follow this link and Get on Google.

If you already have an account with them simply log in to your own profile or create a completely new one by following the add account link.

Create_New_Google_My_Business_Account

Once you’ve logged into the account, you’ll be presented with a map where you can find your existing page, find a business Google already knows about and claim the management of its page or create one if you haven’t done so before.

Google_My_Business_Map

If it’s the first you’ll be creating a page for your business, you’ll get the chance to choose the type of business you’re operating in. You can choose from:

  • Storefront – Restaurant, retail store, hotel, etc.
  • Service Area – Plumber, pizza delivery, taxi service, lawyer, etc.
  • Brand – Product, sports team, music band, cause, etc.

 

3 Types of Business Google My Business

Having chosen either Storefront or a Service Area you’ll be directed to the map page where you can find your existing business. If you’ve found it you can claim the management of the page or add your business to the map if the search results weren’t satisfying.

If you chose Brand instead you’ll be directed to a form where you can create a new page for your own company providing details such as the name or URL address of your website.

Welcome to Google My Business

Once that is done, you’ve successfully create a page for your business which you can now customize. Simply follow the tour provided by Google and complete the profile until the status bar reaches 100%.

Status Bar Google My Business

 

Having completed all these steps will definitely help you reach out to new audiences even more effectively than before. Interact with them, see what they think and improve your business so that it can reach the new levels of greatness in no time.

 

Google My Business – Getting found online with ease! is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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