GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips http://blog.getresponse.com Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:17:23 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Henry Diaz Case Study: Artist and Freedom-preneur http://blog.getresponse.com/henry-diaz-case-study-artist-and-freedom-preneur.html http://blog.getresponse.com/henry-diaz-case-study-artist-and-freedom-preneur.html#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 15:17:23 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19311 For centuries, artists have depended upon gallery owners to sell their artwork.  But today’s Internet has changed the business model, allowing them to go straight to the public. As artists embraced this model, some discovered a hidden talent for marketing … Read more

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For centuries, artists have depended upon gallery owners to sell their artwork.  But today’s Internet has changed the business model, allowing them to go straight to the public. As artists embraced this model, some discovered a hidden talent for marketing and devised new ways to bring added value to a worldwide audience. In today’s case study, we profile one such artist and provide a fascinating glimpse into his newly discovered business model: freedom-preneur.

Historically, those who sought a career in the arts faced tremendous difficulties. Economically, there were two stereotypes: superstar and starving artist — an impoverished person laboring to produce art that, in all likelihood, might not sell. But Henry Diaz and other talented young artists around the globe are shattering those stereotypes, using modern marketing methods to forge careers in the arts.

Early in his career, Henry realized he had to learn to organize his workflow, stay motivated and manage his time effectively. So he got to work and mastered the fundamentals of online marketing:

  • Building an email marketing list
  • Engaging them with great content
  • Making offers via email

His challenge was to find an easy way to stay in touch with his audience. At first, he tried using manual systems and a standard email program. It worked, but he found he couldn’t maintain the workflow using such a labor-intensive process.

 

Choosing the right tools

Henry tried several email marketing programs but couldn’t find one that included all the features he was looking for. When he discovered GetResponse, he was delighted to find that it gave him all the capabilities he needed and came with an interface that made marketing easy.

  • Email Creator for designing professional-quality emails from template or from scratch with just a few clicks
  • Landing Page Creator for email campaigns integrated with web pages for publishing in-depth content, attracting sign-ups, and driving sales
  • Autoresponders for delivering the same great email experience to an entire database or to targeted segments
  • A/B Testing for using small-sample mailings to evaluate campaign effectiveness prior to full-list distribution

“Because my business is all about managing time effectively – the first thing I noticed when using GetResponse was how much time I saved while completing the tasks for my email marketing campaigns. This and their low-cost strategy got me hooked.” —Henry Diaz

 

Expanding the opportunities

As he achieved success, Henry found that others in the arts community were a lot like him. They had that the passion to succeed but not the skills. They needed to learn to be self-sufficient in promoting and selling their art. So he launched an online coaching service called Stepping Into Freedom to help talented people reach their dreams.

Today, he shares his knowledge freely, to expand his audience and keep them engaged. And he introduces them to what he has been able to accomplish with GetResponse.

“My mission is to share the knowledge I’ve gained with others who aren’t yet living their dream, to help make it a reality for them.”  —Henry Diaz

 

Results matter

Henry noticed an immediate improvement after switching to GetResponse.

  • His subscribers opened his emails four times more often — an increase of 400%.
  • His click-through ratio improved 46%.
  • Best of all, his automated client-engagement program left him free to focus on building his career as a Freedom-preneur.

“Choosing GetResponse is the best decision I could have made for my business. In the past I was working with two other autoresponder services, and the experience commonly left me frustrated and feeling as though my time was being wasted. I also faced problems in the analytics and tracking they were able to provide. This all changed when I gave GetResponse a shot. .” —Henry Diaz

 

How about you?

If you’re ready to kick your business into high gear, we’re here to help. The GetResponse team is constantly developing new ways for marketers to enhance their business. But we keep it simple, to enable entrepreneurs like Henry Diaz — and you — to implement profitable campaigns fast. And when you need a little help, our Customer Success Team is available 24/7.

 “Speed of response is the name of the support game for me, and GetResponse support is really fast. On top of that, they are kind and knowledgeable, which makes it a pleasant experience, even if I am reaching out about an issue I’m having.” —Henry Diaz

 

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Everything You Need to Know to Spy on Your Competition http://blog.getresponse.com/everything-you-need-to-know-to-spy-on-your-competition.html http://blog.getresponse.com/everything-you-need-to-know-to-spy-on-your-competition.html#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 15:03:30 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19288 Nobody has to tell you how competitive online marketing is. I’m sure you already know. You need every edge you can get. And while I definitely do not endorse evil tactics (negative SEO, stealing content, and all the other unbelievably … Read more

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Nobody has to tell you how competitive online marketing is. I’m sure you already know. You need every edge you can get. And while I definitely do not endorse evil tactics (negative SEO, stealing content, and all the other unbelievably nefarious stuff that goes on), I don’t recommend you ignore your competitors, either. 

You need to do at least some competitive analysis. It’s critical to know what your competitors are doing, if only to use the information as another way to gauge what your audience likes or dislikes.  To help you assess your competitors (but not get buried in the analysis), we’ve rounded up a list of tools to help you see your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. All of these tools are either free or have free trials.

To take things a step further than just the usual list of competitive tools, I’ve also included some ideas on what you want to know about your competitors, why you want that information, and how to use it. Tools are awesome, but if just knowing all the tools was enough, you’d already be rich.

 

The SWOT Analysis

“Swot’s that?” You ask. SWOT stands for strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. If you had gone to school to get an expensive marketing degree, this is one of the things they would have drilled into your head.

Here’s what a SWOT table looks like:

SWOT

You can use a SWOT analysis on your own website, or on competitors’ sites. To run a SWOT, just list 2-5 items in each category. Here’s an example of a SWOT done on an imaginary competitor for a dog-training site:

SWOT2

As you can see, you don’t have to write a whole page for each area. SWOTs can be done on the back of a napkin. The trick to them is to put yourself in your competitor’s perspective while you do the SWOT – look at their business like it was your business.

You don’t need to do a SWOT for the top 20 sites in your niche. Just do a quick, simple SWOT for your top 1-5 competitors. This alone will give you a snapshot of where you stand against them, and how you might leverage your existing business to gain an edge on them.

That’s the only pen and paper “tool” I’ll give you. All the rest are online.

 

A high-level view of sizing up your competitors

The first thing to do when you size up a competitor is to look at their website. You want to know what content they have, how it’s performing, and how they are monetizing that content. Start with the content on their site, then see where they might also have more content, like social media accounts, guest blog posts, Amazon Kindle books, Udemy courses and the like.

Next you’ll want to see how much exposure that content is getting, both through search engines and through inbound links, advertising, partnerships and social media.

It helps if you take notes while you’re doing your research. It helps even more if you make a spreadsheet to log all the data in one view. Think of the spreadsheet a bit like a map to your niche. Having a resource like this also means you can easily track how your competitors shift tactics over time. That alone can be worth doing the  research.

Here’s what a simple spreadsheet might look like:

table

Clearly that’s a really simple spreadsheet. Here are a few more items I might track if I was doing a competitive analysis:

SITE & GENERAL

  1. Competitor name

URL

  1. Owner/email
  2. Testimonials? How many?
  3. Product? Subject/ Title? Product Price? How good is the product?
  4. Email list? What’s their opt-in? More than one opt-in?
  5. Blog? How often updated? How long are posts? How good are posts?
  6. Which posts shared the most?
  7. Which posts commented the most?
  8. Ebook? Kindle, or site download?
  9. Videos on site?

SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Facebook likes / engagement rate / how often they post
  2. Twitter followers / how often they post / engagement
  3. LinkedIn / YouTube / Pinterest / Instagram / Tumblr / SlideShare
  4. Google Alerts?
  5. Who follows them on social? Who shares their content?
  6. Podcast?

SEO

  1. Site age
  2. Site speed (per Google PageSpeed Insights)
  3. Mobile friendly (per Google Mobile-Friendly tool)
  4. How many pages?
  5. Top 10-20 inbound links
  6. Guest posts?
  7. Time on site?

ADVERTISING

  1. Facebook / AdWords / Elsewhere (solo ads?)
  2. Keywords they’re bidding on
  3. How much they spend on advertising
  4. Ads they run on their site (Paid? AdSense?)
  5. Affiliate products they promote
  6. Partnerships with other sites?

You may not want to go into this much detail, but consider this: How much time are you going to put into building a business in this niche? 10 hours? 100 hours? 1,000 hours? How much time could you save and how much more results could you get if you knew the business and your competition before you went in?

 

How to find this information

At last, you’ll finally get the list of tools. Here’s how to find out every piece of information mentioned above: If you could only do one thing… Sign up for their email list & follow them on social media

This is so simple it doesn’t even count as a tool, but signing up for someone’s email list and following them on social media are the single best way to keep track of what they’re up to.

 

To track activity and mentions across the web

 Google Alerts and Social Mention. These won’t catch 100% of what’s on the web, but they will catch most of it. Set up your competitors’ business names and the owners’ names to see what people are up to.

 

To see how their content is performing

BuzzSumo - This will show you which content on a site has gotten the most shares. It will also show you who’s been sharing the content. You can sort by time frame (last month, last six months) and by the type of content. It’s an ideal way to find out what your competitor’s greatest hits have been. SharedCount is a similar tool, but with fewer features.

BuzzSumo

Kapost’s Content Auditor - This was not built as a competitive analysis tool, but it works very well as one. The Content Auditor basically gives you an automatic content audit of any site. So if you want to see what content assets your competitors have, and how they’re performing, this will show it to you.

KapostContentAuditor

If you want even more detail, you can also use the free version of the Screaming Frog SEO Spider tool.

 

To compare website performance

WooRank – WooRank is mostly an SEO tool that scores a site and gives recommendations on how to improve its SEO. If you run a competitor’s site through the tool, you’ll get detailed information on all their SEO sins.

woorank

Quick SproutThis free tool lets you compare up to four different sites at once. Like WooRank, it’s designed as an SEO tool, but is also designed as an SEO tool for competitive analysis. 

QuickSprout

To see site speed

Use Google’s PageSpeed InsightsPage speed has a huge effect on user experience, conversion rates and SEO rankings. Use Google’s official tool to see if your competitors are fast enough.

PageSpeedInsights

To see how mobile friendly their site is

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test - Google is going to update its algorithm on April 21st to favor mobile-friendly sites and punish those that aren’t. If a few of your competitors have negative mobile-friendly scores, you might be in for a pleasant surprise in late April. That’s assuming, of course, your site is mobile-friendly. It is, right?

Mobile-Friendly

.

To see backlinks

There are so many tools that help you find (or “poach”) your competitor’s backlinks. Start with Majestic SEO because it’s free, trusted and will get you 98% of the information you need.

After you’ve got your Majestic SEO data, do all your searches again with the Moz Open Site Explorer. This is a good reality check, just in case Majestic, or any of the other tools you might use, give you wonky information.

That’s a critical thing to remember with online tools: Don’t take what they tell you as gospel. Sometimes their data can be off. If you want a truckload of data, sign up for Moz’s free trial. Just don’t blame me if you get addicted to their paid tools.

Moz

Other tools to see backlinks and more are Ahrefs, Link Prospector and Monitor Backlinks. There are more – that’s just the short list.

 

To see which keywords they rank for (paid and organic)

SEMRush - This is an extremely powerful paid tool. Fortunately, it also has a powerful free version. The screenshot below is from the free version. SEMRush will show you what keyword your competitors rank for in both organic and search. It will also show you what their traffic is worth, give you an analysis of their backlinks, and much more.

SEMRush

 

To monitor their ads 

Spyfu - SpyFu is like SEMRush and Moz in that it does dozens of things, all of them suited to peering into your competitors’ businesses. Fortunately, it does have a free version, and while that won’t go into too much detail, it will give you good information you’ll be glad to have. SpyFu is also great at breaking down a competitor’s pay per click accounts. If you’re in the ppc game fighting against other bidders, a few hours spent with this tool could save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. 

SpyFu

What Runs Where - I’m kind of cheating with this one. There isn’t a free trial – there’s a $1 trial. And you’ll want to make sure you cancel it before the three days are up, or you’ll get charged $299. But if you spend money on advertising, and your competitors do too, get a quick peek at what they’re doing by testing this tool.

 

To see social activity

There may now be thousands of tools to monitor social activity, both your own and your competitors. These are just a few of my favorites, designed to give you the basic data you need, and no more.

Fanpage Karma - So maybe your competitors do have more followers than you… but are those followers engaging with them? Fanpage Karma will tell you for free.

FanpageKarma

Topsy and FollowerWonk - Want to see how your competitors are doing on Twitter, and which tweets get the most engagement? Topsy and FollowerWonk are two of the best free tools for this. 

Follwerwonk

Simply Measured - This is an enterprise level tool that will give you lots of analytics data for your own company and other companies. It works across all the major social networks and most of the minor social networks, too. I’m including it here because of the free trial. 

 

To see how much traffic they get, and how their visitors behave

Compete - Most of Compete’s features are paid, but they have a free tool. It will give you a count of unique visitors for the month prior. Use that data as a reality check for other tools. 

Alexa - People have been using Alexa for over a decade to pick up information on other sites. There’s no reason for it to stop now, even though there are plenty of other tools that do what Alexa does. 

SimilarWeb - This is the only tool I’ve found that gives competitive information for apps. Mobile developers and marketers, celebrate! SimilarWeb will give you much more information for free, but my favorite feature is the handy little snapshot of where their traffic is coming from. SimilarWeb also gives you estimated time on site for each site, and their bounce rate. It lets you compare multiple sites, too. It’s tailor-made for competitive research.

SimilarWeb

I’m sure I missed at least a few good competitive analysis tools. Do you have a favorite that’s not listed here? Tell us about it in the comments!

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A 20-Point Checklist to Making Guest Blogging a Big Success http://blog.getresponse.com/a-20-point-checklist-to-making-guest-blogging-a-big-success.html http://blog.getresponse.com/a-20-point-checklist-to-making-guest-blogging-a-big-success.html#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:17:36 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19279 The thought of guest blogging brings up two distinct sets of emotions in people. One, it sounds super exciting. Seriously, what could be more motivating than seeing your name on the leading blogs in your industry? You get inspired by … Read more

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The thought of guest blogging brings up two distinct sets of emotions in people. One, it sounds super exciting. Seriously, what could be more motivating than seeing your name on the leading blogs in your industry? You get inspired by it. You know you’ll be putting your names in front of hundreds and thousands of people and make a far bigger impact than you can on your own. When can you get started?

On the other hand, the thought of guest blogging might stress you out. Firstly, you don’t have the time to take one more thing on board. Especially when it is this time consuming. Secondly you don’t even think you are a good writer to begin with. Why even bother reaching out to someone when you know you are most probably going to be rejected.

If you fall in the first camp then yay! Continue reading and I’ll tell you my process of making this thing easy peasy. If you fall in the second category then know this thing: There is no such thing as free traffic. You either pay for it with money or time.

So, if you have more money then go with ads. You’ll see results faster. Guest posting can still work but might have to hire someone to do most of the work for you. You just write the first draft of the post yourself. But what if you are building your business and are short of cash at the same time? Well, that’s just what the first category looks like, and honestly, you just have to make time.

So let’s look how you can make this process as painless as possible:

 

#1 Know your purpose

You can guest blog for a whole bunch of reasons. You can do it to build credibility so you can show off ‘as seen on’ logos on your website. You can do it to bring traffic to your website or you can do it to form strategic partnerships with the influencers in your industry. Or, it can be a mix of all three.

I recommend that you approach each guest blogging task individually. When you choose a blog to approach, think about what goal is most important. For example, you might want to get published on Forbes for building credibility but on a smaller, industry-specific blog for traffic and list building.

 

#2 Make a list of the blogs

When you are a beginner it is fine to write for a friend’s blog. But consider this as a practise run. As you gain confidence you need to set high targets. You may already have a list of blogs that you follow yourself and this is a great place to start.

Other places to look for are sites like Alltop.com where you can search for a particular category and come up with new options. You can even Google top blogs in a particular niche.

 

#3 Read the guidelines

As you begin identifying blogs to write for, start doing a very basic search to see if these blogs qualify. Not all blogs accept guest posts so that’s the first thing you need to find out. Don’t write to a blogger asking if they accept guest posts. It just makes you look lazy and incompetent.

At this stage your goal is just to remove the blogs from your list that don’t accept guest post submissions.

 

#4 Shortlist

This step is crucial. Many people get it wrong and then when they don’t see any results, they get discouraged and blame guest blogging as a strategy.

From the big list that you have now, I want you to list blogs in order of priority. I also want you to be realistic. If you are pitching to Entrepreneur magazine and unless you offer a stellar track record, they are not going to take you seriously.

Choose blogs that are a great fit for topics you talk about on your own blog. Or, think about blogs whose blog posts have topics in common with your topics. Start there.

 

#5 Research the blogger

The next step is to read about the blogger.

Read their about page. Read their story. What made them start this blog? Even if you are familiar with them, do it anyway as they might have updated the information or added something that they weren’t comfortable sharing before.

You want to pay attention to things they care deeply about and also the things they annoy them to no end. If they wrote a book, it is good idea to get familiar with the topic and the premise (ideally read the book).

copywriting

#6 Begin connection phase

This is the pre-phase of guest blogging. Your work starts here. These popular bloggers receive hundreds of pitches and unsolicited submissions every day. Your job is to do the opposite.

Firstly, I want you to make sure there is a point of reference for your email. You could leave a thoughtful comment or two and hope for a response. You could email them about something they said having a great impact on your life. If they have a book, you might want to tell them how much you loved it and what change you intend to make.

The goal is to not come across as stranger when you pitch.

 

#7 Follow them on social media

Follow them on social media and pay attention. Retweet their updates. Connect on Facebook. Like their Instagram feed. Ideally you want them to remember who you are when you pitch. Even if your name seems familiar, this outcome is far better than not knowing who you are.

 

#8 Choose the topic

After you create some sort of rapport with the blogger, your next job is to pitch an idea they can’t say no to. Check their guidelines first to make sure they need an idea first. Some sites ask for the completed blog post and some don’t, so check those out first.

Now choose a topic that helps their audience but is related to what you talk about. If you choose something that is irrelevant to their audience, there is no hope of getting your idea accepted. But if you choose something that is not related to your business, what’s the point? The audience that will be coming over won’t find your website useful for their needs.

 

#9 Look at their most popular posts

Once you have narrowed down your topics, come up with a killer idea. Look to their popular posts for inspiration. This gives you clues about what their audience finds compelling and what resonates with their readers.

You can also read some of their latest blog posts to see if you can write a post to fill any gaps. Maybe they wrote a post and you can offer a great follow up. Maybe they wrote a post and mentioned something you can elaborate on.

 

#10 Craft your pitch

Address the blogger their name. Don’t start with Dear Sir or Madam or worse – webmaster. Keeping in mind that these people are generally busy, you want to get their attention from the get go. Craft a subject line that shows you are pitching a guest post idea and a snippet of the idea itself.

Something like ‘Guest post idea: Snippet’ works really well.

blogging

#11 Show what’s in it for them

First and foremost, the blogger wants to know why they should care. So tell them. Tell them (briefly) why you chose this idea and how it’s going to help their audience.

Give the headline and then give them 3-4 bullet points of how you will elaborate and what’s going to be covered so they can understand. Sell them on your idea, if you don’t they might misinterpret or not truly get it.

 

#12 Build credibility

Many people write and ask to be published. Even if they have no prior experience of covering that topic or having expertise in that area. Your job is to differentiate yourself from the crowd.

Briefly build your credibility by stating what is it that you do, your experience and credentials and leave a link to a few posts you published that showcase your best work.

 

#13 Show you are open to changes

The most important thing to keep in mind is that you state clearly that you are open to any changes they make. Refer to your blog post as a draft.

Most bloggers like to edit the post, the headline or even write a new one. Don’t take it personally. If they like a particular style of writing headlines, try to match it, if they change it, be okay with it. It is not worth hassling over.

 

#14 Make it easy for them

Make it really easy for them to say yes. Offer to send the post both as a word document and in an html format. Source images they might find useful.

Link to articles from their website (written by them and not by another guest blogger). Show that you are truly interested in making this a fun experience for everyone involved.

Tell them this is an original piece you have written for their audience and hasn’t been published before.

 

#15 Follow up

Remember to do a follow-up after your email if you hear crickets. When you send your pitch, let them know you will follow up in 15 days then do that if you haven’t heard from them. Commiserate the fact that you know how busy they are and how much it takes to run a popular blog then ask if they had a chance to look at your pitch yet. If you don’t hear back then let it go – for now. Come back to it with a fresh idea later.

 

#16 Do the best job you can

Got the green signal? Yay! Congratulations. You certainly deserve it. Now write the best post you can, seriously I mean it. I would go as far as to say that you should get your best ideas published on a guest blog. Why? So you give your masterpiece the best chance of going viral.

Even if it doesn’t go viral, it will do really well in front of big and new audiences. So take as much time as you can. Get somebody like a copyeditor proof reader to look it over so you can blow their socks off.

Reporter of the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation Esko Tommola interviews Armi Hilario (former Armi Kuusela) and her husband Gil Hilario in a radio studio.

#17 Make the best use of your byline

The best part about guest blogging is the chance to show off in your author bio. Most blogs won’t allow guest authors to link to their own stuff in the body of post itself so don’t do that. The place for linking to website and/or social media profiles is on your byline.

I strongly suggest you link to your opt-in offer instead of your home page. This is one the biggest mistakes people make while guest blogging and then they act all surprised when they don’t see any new subscribers.

This will get the biggest bang for your buck.

 

#18 Create a squeeze page

If you are debuting on a blog that is a big deal – a really big deal – I would recommend creating a new lead capture page for this blog audience. If you are expecting a big spike in traffic, go ahead and create a new freebie for this crowd. There is no harm in pulling out the big guns.

 

#19 Promote the post on social media

When the post is published, give yourself a big pat on the back. Then send a thank-you email and say you look forward to it doing well. Then promote the post everywhere. On every social media platform, to your email list and among your networks.

If the post has done remarkably well, you won’t even have to pitch another idea again. They will approach you.

 

#20 Continue the relationship

Wait about a week or two and touch base with the blogger again. Let them know that you really enjoyed writing for them and ask if you can write for them again. If you have done everything right and checked off every task on this then the answer would be a big yes.

Follow through the same process.

 

Final thoughts

In my opinion, the traffic you get from your guest blogging efforts can be far superior to the traffic that comes from clicking your ads or from social media.

These people are coming to you because they have read your content and they love it. They want to know more about you and learn from you. They are coming to check you out, to see what else you have on offer. This is the warmest traffic you can get so be sure you do the work and are ready to receive this traffic (I wrote a blog post about that here.)

Go on try it if you haven’t already. And if you have tried it before but didn’t see the results you were hoping for, now you know how to fix that. Share your experiences in the comments below!

Good luck!

A 20-Point Checklist to Making Guest Blogging a Big Success is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Staying Ahead: The Future Of Link Building http://blog.getresponse.com/staying-ahead-the-future-of-link-building.html http://blog.getresponse.com/staying-ahead-the-future-of-link-building.html#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 15:07:37 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19269 SEO is a hard game that’s getting harder all the time? Do you remember the good old days when you’d just cram as many keywords into your blog posts and be done with it? Well, I’m sure you do remember … Read more

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SEO is a hard game that’s getting harder all the time? Do you remember the good old days when you’d just cram as many keywords into your blog posts and be done with it? Well, I’m sure you do remember those days, though I hope you weren’t actually one of those very naughty individuals who partook in such questionable practices. 

Those days have long gone now anyway (though you still find the odd cowboy trying it on, but no matter – you won’t ever find those posts anyway). No, SEO is about all manner of things. Keywords, of course, still play a role – albeit a slightly different one – site architecture, image quality, security, the age of your site, its speed.

And of course links.

 

Links Are Still The Most Important SEO Ranking Factor

According to Jon Ball of Search Engine Watch, links still remain as the strongest signal to Google that the content on a particular site is important. And that of course makes sense – the more links there are pointing towards a particular site or page, the more people that are out there who must think that it’s worth pointing to.

Ball’s claim is backed up by coppyblogger, who states (and provides this handy pie chart) that domain trust/authority makes up 23.87% of Google’s ranking algorithm.

link_building

The 3 Types Of Links

Ok, so we’re all agreed that links are still just as important as ever. That being said, the emphasis has most definitely changed. I mentioned above that the more links there are from other pages to your site the better. While this is true up to a point, the fact of the matter is that Google is getting smarter all the time, and it’s not so much a matter of quantity anymore as it is of quality.

Links now have different values in the eyes of Google. Put simply, the higher the quality and the higher the relevance of the linking site to yours, the more valuable the link is to you. So let’s take a look at the 3 types of links that there are and consider just how important each one of them is.

 

1. Organic Links

We should all know what these are by now. In essence they are spontaneous links that other web users – such as bloggers and journalists – put in their posts that link to your site. They have acquired the rather green sounding name of ‘organic’ because they have always been considered to be valuable, because the linkers have no vested interest in linking to your site, and therefore they are a sign of the usefulness and relevance of your site’s content.

Building organic links is perhaps one of the main aims of the content marketer. The way you go about getting these types of links is to continuously produce lots of high quality, sharable, informative, entertaining and useful content. This is the sort of stuff that web users love, and, if you’re doing your content correctly, then you should find that the number of organic links to your site gradually increases over a long period of time.

 

2. Acquired Links

Acquired links are less valuable, though no digital marketer should be without them. By signing up to various profiles (including social), directories and other lists, you can upload your blogs and other articles in order to try and gain more exposure.

Try out www.ezinearticles.com for example, or user rating review sites like www.rateitall.com/. If you sign up to enough of these and submit your articles regularly, then you should end acquiring a few more backlinks to your site.

 

3. Self-made Links

Sometimes when you’re online you will no doubt be contributing to discussion forums and leaving comments on various social media. When you do so, it will of course make sense to include the odd link back to your website.

Do not, whatever you do, overexploit this tactic. It can begin to look very spammy, and may well end up getting considered as such, and you will be penalised for your efforts.

 

What To Do About Link Building In 2015

It’s becoming an age old adage already, but, more and more it is proving to be true again and again – content is king.

The most valuable links are the organic ones, and the best way to build those is to continue to create the very best content that you can, and get it shared far and wide across social and in your email campaigns.

There are a few trends that are continuing to emerge that you should be aware of for 2015 however. So let’s take a look at them:

 

1. Make Your Blog Posts More Detailed Than Ever

Let’s face it, nearly everyone has a blog these days, and nearly every website does as well. No matter what industry you’re in, you will find that you will be facing an increasing amount of competition for discoverability on the web. So, stop re-writing and re-purposing the same old material that’s been floating around the internet already for the past decade or more, and start saying something new and interesting.

Wishy-washy blog posts that offer no actionable tips for the reader, or are just revisiting the same old stuff just won’t cut it any more. We’ve already read those things a hundred times before – what we want is something new.

Indeed, this might actually mean that you will need to invest some extra time and possibly money into conducting some valuable research. But if that’s what it takes, then that’s what it takes. And go into some real detail in your posts. Don’t skirt around the edges, delve right in to one or two very important details and explore them properly. Great content is about quality not quantity.

 

2. Infographics Are Still Gaining Popularity

Beautifully visualized, easy to absorb information is still on trend in 2015, and infographics are the digital manifestations. If you’ve got a graphic designer that can create these for you in-house, then brilliant. If you haven’t, then consider hiring one.

Infographics are brilliant because of their shareability. The information is presented colourfully and neatly, and are often designed to inspire awe through some jaw-dropping statistics, whilst also raising a little smile with some quirky and witty illustrations. They’re great – and they will link back to your site, so start making them.

 

3. Produce More Video

Video is becoming more and more important for your social media strategy as time ticks by. Users love it, and, although it might be more time-consuming and costly to produce, it will nonetheless be one of the most valuable assets in your link-building arsenal.

From creating your own viral videos to producing your very own animations, the power of video is a strong one, and lends an air of success and professionalism (provided it’s done well) to your website, and will continue to be an increasingly important method of building those all important organic backlinks.

What’s your link building strategy for 2015? Let us know in the comments below. 

Staying Ahead: The Future Of Link Building is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Exclusive Interview With Joanna Wiebe From Copy Hackers http://blog.getresponse.com/exclusive-interview-with-joanna-wiebe-from-copyhackers.html http://blog.getresponse.com/exclusive-interview-with-joanna-wiebe-from-copyhackers.html#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 15:07:41 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19217 Today we sit down with Joanna Wiebe, an expert copywriter and co-founder of CopyHackers.com to talk about how copy can make or break your email marketing campaigns. We also pick Joanna’s brain and learn what you as a marketer or … Read more

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Today we sit down with Joanna Wiebe, an expert copywriter and co-founder of CopyHackers.com to talk about how copy can make or break your email marketing campaigns. We also pick Joanna’s brain and learn what you as a marketer or copywriter can do to turn your everyday work into an even greater success for your business

.

GetResponse: In your recent ebook with GetResponse, you wrote that “40% of B2B content marketers believe newsletters are less effective content marketing tactics than social media and other tactics. (2014)“, do you agree with these marketers?

Joanna Wiebe: I definitely do not agree that newsletters offer less effective content marketing than social media. I think the problem with this idea is twofold. The first part of the problem: well-intentioned marketers misread “newsletters” as “boring collections of stuff you spam your subscribers with” instead of developing a strong value prop for their newsletters, thus giving them a raison d’etre that every marketing tactic needs. The second part: failure to measure beyond opens and clicks. If you don’t know why your newsletter exists, then you won’t know how to measure whether it’s doing its job, so you won’t know if it’s helping your business or not.

 

GR: You also wrote that a newsletter needs a reason for existing. In your opinion what are some reasons for a business to have a newsletter? Is there just one overall copy, or are there business-specific approaches?

JB: An inspired content strategist can come up with a dozen or more reasons to create and send a [great] newsletter: to build warmer relationships with people; to increase brand awareness; to demonstrate thought leadership by curating and sharing the best content for X topic or industry; to offer value so that, when the time comes to sell by email, your From name is welcome in their inbox.

Newsletters should be considered, created, and sent using the same business rigor we use for other marketing tactics. You wouldn’t run retargeting ads without a reason and without a way to measure their success. If you don’t have a reason to send a newsletter or a clue about how you’ll know if it was a success or not, don’t send one. Step back. Figure out your newsletter’s value prop and how that connects to 1) your subscribers and 2) your business – and then start the job of planning, writing, sending, and optimizing your newsletters for your business.

 

GR: What do you think is the most frequent email copy mistake that marketers make? Our readers are always looking for specific patterns that marketers think are right, but might not necessarily be as good as they thought. 

JB: The biggest problem may be trying to make a newsletter look, somehow, like a website. They’ll use a two-column layout with images squished into one side and tiny text squished into the other side; they’ll put a big banner at the top and find a way to stack three more banners at the bottom.

Shorter, more personal newsletters that are single column and that use a stripped-down design allow the content of the newsletter to be the focal point. They let the reader look at one thing at a time. And that’s powerful. That controlled reading experience is what makes long-form sales pages so powerful, and it can be just as powerful in email (which lends itself well to a top-down narrative form rather than to scanning).

Beyond that, I always encourage people to split-test newsletters that contain links to multiple landing pages against newsletters that have just one goal. If your newsletter’s value prop is along the lines of being the single resource for curated content on X topic, then perhaps multiple CTAs make sense; however, if that is not your express value prop, then why break the rules of email?–why distract users by adding more than 1 goal?–why risk getting fractions of the traffic to each landing page?

 

GR: Marketers often find themselves looking into quick-fix solutions, forgetting about A/B testing. Call to action buttons are in that group as well. Is there a formula for the perfect call to action?

JB: There’s no formula, of course, but there are a few tricks. Here you go:

  • Don’t think of a CTA as a call to action. Think of it as a call to value. An action may be “Read the blog post about button formulas” but the value would be “Convert better with these 3 button formulas.” Test the two against each other. I’d put my money on the call to value.
  • Write button / CTA copy that completes this phrase: I want to ________________. The underlined part becomes the button copy.
  • Never introduce work in your CTA copy. So if you’re writing a newsletter that leads to a landing page where the user will have to sign in to watch a video, don’t write a CTA in the newsletter that goes, “Sign in to watch the video.” That’s introducing work. It doesn’t matter that, in fact, they will have to sign in to watch the video; all that matters is what the end user wants. What do they want? To watch the video. So test CTA copy that reads something like “Watch the video” (and then add a few words about the value of doing so).

 

GR: That being said, when you look at platforms like GetResponse, what are the first tools, as a copywriter, that you find most important in creating the perfect newsletter? 

JB: Segmentation! Whom you’re writing for is everything when it comes to writing well – and by “well” I mean in a way that connects, resonates and ultimately converts. Blast emails are tragic. They’ve generally got awful open rates for lists over 25,000. But if you can segment the folks on your list and invest in writing tailored content – which is easier to write than generalized content – you can stand to get more folks to engage and fewer folks to call you spam or unsubscribe due to lack of perceived relevance.

After segmentation comes automation. What triggers can we set to generate the right message at the exactly right moment for our subscribers. If I write a newsletter linking to a post about social media marketing tips and I just so happen to be an affiliate for a social media marketing course, then I’d likely want to trigger a drip campaign promoting that course to the people who showed interest by clicking in the first place.

 

GR: As an expert in your field, is there any advice that you could give copywriters as to what they should pay attention to when they create newsletter copy?

JB: Write for one human. That human is a real human, with a personality and with a busy life. That human has a hundred other emails in their inbox. That human may be reading on a mobile device, which comes with a new set of distractions and limitations. That human is looking at their inbox right now potentially ‘cos they’re bored; maybe they’re at work or waiting somewhere, and they want to be engaged. Engage them. Connect with that one human using your words. Find a way to be so real and authentic with them that they don’t consider you a nuisance even though they’re extremely busy and distracted. Start there. And if anyone reviewing your copy tells you otherwise, tell them to come talk to me. ;)

 

GR: For those following in your footsteps, what books, blogs, or tools would you recommend they read to inspire them?

JB: Today, I’d say to read all about mobile content design and UX. Add to that a healthy dose of good ol’ Caples and Schwartz – classic long-form copywriters who could destroy email if they’d been alive to see this form of direct response marketing explode. From there, sign up for every email you come across and file them all away in swipe files in your email solution (e.g., in Gmail, in Outlook); I have 100+ swipe files for everything from welcome emails to receipts to newsletters to sales emails, and I refer to them almost every single time I have an email to write.

 

A big thank you to Joanna Wiebe for sitting down with us and answering our questions! Share with us in the comments below what you think are the golden rules of copywriting and how you manage your copy! Also, get your very own copy of our new ebook with Joanna “How to Write Newsletters That Get Opened, Read, and Clicked.”

Joanna Wiebe - Copy Hackers for CopybloggerAbout the author: Joanna Wiebe runs a conversion copywriting consultancy in Victoria, BC and is the co-creator of both Copyhackers.com and Disco Surveys, the incentivized pop-up survey for marketers.

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7 Fresh Ways to Welcome Spring with Email Marketing [Infographic] http://blog.getresponse.com/7-fresh-ways-to-welcome-spring-with-email-marketing-infographic.html http://blog.getresponse.com/7-fresh-ways-to-welcome-spring-with-email-marketing-infographic.html#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 15:07:12 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19253 Spring is about celebrating new beginnings. That’s why we’ve prepared 7 tips that will help you start fresh and grow your business with effective email marketing campaigns. The overall idea is to reinvigorate your strategy after the long winter months … Read more

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Spring is about celebrating new beginnings. That’s why we’ve prepared 7 tips that will help you start fresh and grow your business with effective email marketing campaigns. The overall idea is to reinvigorate your strategy after the long winter months and set new goals with positive attitude.

  1. Start with spring cleaning by segmenting your list and sending reactivation campaigns.
  2. Plan a garage sale that will make room for new arrivals.
  3. Choose some nice spring colors for your email template.
  4. Incorporate exciting visual elements.
  5. Plan an engaging drip campaign.
  6. Reward your subscribers’ loyalty
  7. Spread joy – remember that March 20 is the annual International Day of Happiness.

7 Fresh Ways to Welcome Spring with Email Marketing [Infographic] is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Could a Podcast Grow Your Business? http://blog.getresponse.com/could-a-podcast-grow-your-business.html http://blog.getresponse.com/could-a-podcast-grow-your-business.html#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 15:17:32 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19245 Has all the talk about podcasts ever piqued your interest… even once? I’m sure you’ve heard about how popular podcasts are becoming. And you’ve probably seen at least one training course that promises to make you a podcasting star.  But … Read more

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Has all the talk about podcasts ever piqued your interest… even once? I’m sure you’ve heard about how popular podcasts are becoming. And you’ve probably seen at least one training course that promises to make you a podcasting star. 

But would a podcast actually help your business? Is it worth the time and effort? What kind of results can you expect? There are a lot of pros and cons to podcasts. They can be the ideal platform for some people, but they can also end up as a dead end for others.

To help you decide if a podcast is right for you, I’ve assembled this list of pros and cons for launching a podcast. Hopefully it will be enough to help you decide if podcasting is a path you want to explore further.

7 reasons to launch a podcast

 1) You hate writing, and you hate being on camera.

Some people would rather do just about anything than write. A podcast is definitely a way to get around writing, or at least a way to write less. Or maybe you’re terrified of making videos. That’s another reason to try some podcasting.

 

2) Once you’re set up, podcasting is nearly free.

In terms of the gear needed to get started, podcasting is a lot like creating videos. It can be a bit overwhelming and it all sounds really expensive, but it actually doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

You will need a microphone. Nicer microphones run about $100-150. Sometimes you can get good used microphones on eBay or other second-hand sources. There are dozens of great microphones available, but a few good ones include

You may also want a pop filter to reduce breathing sounds or spikes in volume. Even a really nice pop filter like the CAD Audio EPF-15A Pop Filter only costs $11.

Next you’ll need a stand. Decide whether you want to sit or stand while you record. I have a Samson SP01 Spider Shockmount stand on my desk. I got it on Amazon for $30. It’s always worked very well.

Next you’ll need some sound editing software. Audacity is free and is widely used. It’s available for Mac, PC and even Linux. Other people like Adobe Audition, Logic Pro X, Sony Movie Studio Platinum, or GarageBand.

That’s all the gear you’ll need. There may be some more gear you’ll want, but that’s up to you.

 

3) Podcasting can help you build a large audience and position yourself as an expert.

Having a podcast does expose you to a vast potential audience. If you are seriously building a platform as an expert, having a podcast makes you look the part.

 

4) Podcasting is especially well suited to training or online education.

If you want to teach people how to do something, a podcast might be a great format. Podcast teaching is especially effective if your topic takes time to master and has a lot of nuances.

 

5) Podcasting gives you a great way to vary the content formats on your site.

As the web develops and people get more and more resistant to reading, it makes sense to start creating content in other formats. Adding an audio file at the end of a blog post works for many major sites, like Jeff Bullas’s blog and Copyblogger.

Copyblogger has made a big push recently to promote its podcast at the end of blog posts. Many posts on the site are now specifically written to complement podcast episodes.

Copyblogger has made a big push recently to promote its podcast at the end of blog posts. Many posts on the site are now specifically written to complement podcast episodes.

 

6) Podcasting often leads to speaking engagements.

Speaking is one of the highest paying gigs around. If you’re not terrified of talking in front of people, you might be able to work your way up to thousand-dollar speaking gigs.

Even if you don’t hit the big leagues with speaking, it can be a phenomenal way to build your reputation as an expert. And if you’re an author, public speaking is one of the most tried and true ways to sell books.

 

7) Podcasting is a great way to build relationships with the smartest people in your industry or niche.

Subject experts and other rising stars are usually happy to accept interview invites. You can find them by looking at guest posts on major blogs in your niche or by asking people whose work you know and love. You can also find potential guests by looking through Amazon or other online bookseller sites. Authors almost always want more interviews.

Bonus tip: Ask your guest a couple of questions that you can use for other pieces of content, like blog post roundups.

 

7 reasons to not launch a podcast

1) You need money fast.

A podcast is not a good way to earn money fast. For some, it may not be a way to earn money at all. Be leery of anyone who says you can start making $10K a month just from podcasting.

It’s best to lay off the sales pitches, especially within the first six months of when you launch. For awhile just focus on building your audience. Then build their trust. Then think about selling to them.

Still hope to one day make money from your podcasting? You can sell advertising or sponsorships, but you’ll need a fairly large following for that. See any of Jay Baer’s podcasts for an example of a sponsored podcast. If you must earn directly from your podcast, get a good business model and backend revenue generation system set up. Membership sites, ebooks or other products can help.

Want some real examples of podcasters who make money like it was growing on trees? Check out Pat Flynn’s podcast or John Dumas‘ podcast. Cliff Ravenscraft, “The Podcast Answer Man” writes extensively about how to monetize podcasts.

 

2) If you want to exclusively promote affiliate offers.

It’s harder to get credit for affiliate sales from a podcast. There are no trackable links in audio files. Of course, you can still send people to landing pages. You’ll do even better if you offer an extra, complementary product when people buy through your link.

This is why sponsors and advertising are so attractive to podcasters. There’s quite a lot of evidence that these revenue methods do well, too. John Dumas wrote a detailed post about how he’s done with sponsorships and exactly how they work.

 

3) If you’re not good at consistently doing things.

A podcast is guaranteed to fail if you only do 2-3 episodes. You need to be in it for the long haul. You may have to do several months worth of podcasts before you really start to build the kind of audience size that can deliver results. Do you have enough resources (both time and money) to put a hundred hours of work into your podcast before you ever see a dime?

 

4) If there isn’t a large enough audience for your topic.

There are a lot of podcasts (more than 250,000) on a stunning array of topics. That doesn’t mean they’re all successful. And just because there are no podcasts in a particular niche doesn’t mean you’ve found an opportunity. There may be a good reason why there are no podcasts for that niche.

Picking the right niche and topic to start a podcast on can be difficult. You want it focused enough to define your audience, but not so focused that you could run out of things to talk about.

 

5) You’re not good at reaching out to potential guests.

As with pretty much any activity online, it helps to already have a following. If you’ve only got 23 Twitter followers and a single digit Klout score, it’s harder to get people to accept your interview invites. This is especially a problem in the beginning.

That said, this is a challenge, not a deal-killer. Even if you’re “nobody”, that’s exactly where everybody else started, too. There is no shortage of information about how to build a following online. And nobody said you had to go out and land Seth Godin for your first interview, either. Start small, create the best podcasts you can, and just keep reaching higher.

 

6) Your interviewing skills are terrible.

This is a fairly minor reason to skip podcasting, though it is a disadvantage. Even if your interviewing skills are awful, they can always be improved. Just watching the late-night talk show interviews can show you some good tips.

 

7) You’re terrified of the sound of your own voice.

Do you have the podcaster’s version of stage fright – “microphone fright”? It’s a drag, but there’s good news: It will probably go away after your first few episodes.

If it makes you feel any better, there are world-class celebrities who go through intense, almost crippling anxiety nearly every time they perform. It never goes away for them, even after decades of performances. They just learn to deal with it. They summon the courage to step out on stage anyway.

Don’t let the fear stop you. But if you just are not meant to be the guy or gal with the microphone, that’s okay too. There are plenty of other ways to get your message heard.

Do you have a podcast? How is it working for you? Let us know in the comments. 

 

Could a Podcast Grow Your Business? is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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A 20-Point Checklist to Declutter Your Website This Spring http://blog.getresponse.com/a-20-point-checklist-to-declutter-your-website-this-spring.html http://blog.getresponse.com/a-20-point-checklist-to-declutter-your-website-this-spring.html#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 15:07:45 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19235 Spring is just around the corner (unless you are in Australia like me, of course). And it is the perfect time to declutter your website and get it ready to receive visitors. Why declutter, you ask? Well, allow me to … Read more

A 20-Point Checklist to Declutter Your Website This Spring is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Spring is just around the corner (unless you are in Australia like me, of course). And it is the perfect time to declutter your website and get it ready to receive visitors. Why declutter, you ask? Well, allow me to explain.

Talk to any small business owner or a service professional and they will complain about how hard it is to build their email list. On further prodding, they might reveal that although they are spending time in Facebook groups, promoting their content on social media in the hopes of driving traffic to their website and spending money on ads – the traffic they are getting is not sticking.

Meaning, their conversions are low. And their bounce rates are high. Now, there could be number of reasons for this scenario. It might be that their content is not top-notch or their numbers are low in the first place. Maybe they are not calling out their audience, maybe they are being ranked on Google for something that has nothing to do with what they have to sell.

But for a second, let’s assume that their traffic is targeted. Then why is that their website is not converting these people into subscribers? Because their website is not ready to receive visitors, let alone convert them.

Think about it for a second, you will not throw a party without cleaning your house, ordering or preparing food and making sure there is enough space for people to be, right It’s entirely possible that your house is not visitor-ready, yet. In other words, you get ready to throw a party.

Same is the case with your website.

But here’s the difference between your house and your website. Your house doesn’t exist to entertain. While you have people over sometimes, the primary function of it is to make a home for yourself and your family. On the other hand, your website exists to receive visitors and the number one goal of a website is to convert visitors into subscribers.

So your website should be ready at all times. But you are human – I get it. It’s possible that you are new at business, or that you are evolving. In any case, your website isn’t a true reflection of you anymore. Solution? Give your website a makeover.

Look at from fresh eyes. Declutter everything. Hire a conversion expert if you have to. Can’t do that? No worries, I am going to walk you through the process in this blog post.

Let’s begin!

 

#1 Look professional

First things first, get yourself a premium theme if you can’t afford to hire a website designer.

Secondly, pay attention to your header to instantly connect with your audience. If you are a service professional and the face of your brand, you should get some professional headshots for your header.

Get rid of any music that plays instantly, flashing ads or annoying pop-ups.

 

#2 Pass the 3-question test

This might be hard for you to do by yourself but if you haven’t really looked at your website in a while, it may still work. Ideally, get enlist someone else to do this test.

Imagine landing on your website for the first time (and this is why it makes it hard). Can you answer these three questions within 3-5 seconds, preferably without having to scroll down?

  1. What is this site about?
  2. How does it help me (visitor) exactly? And
  3. What makes it different to the hundred other sites just like it?

 

#3 Get your tagline right

You can’t change the name of your business but there are ways to make it clearer what is it that you offer. Consider adding or tweaking a tagline or slogan. Coupled with the title of your website, the goal is to answer the three questions your first time visitor is asking. So make sure you make it really clear. While clever is nice, it can potentially confuse people and you don’t want that.

Your job is to make it uber clear how you help your readers.

declutter

#4 Say what makes you different

It’s not enough to say how you help people, you have to have some hook on your website that grabs their attention. This could be a compelling story, a unique angle on the topic or just some aspect of your personality.

This could also be design aspect of your website or something else that makes you stand apart from your competition. Spend some time honing your USP (Unique selling proposition).

 

#5 Add a feature box

You probably don’t have a feature box on your website (the box that sits just under your header and asks people for their email address).

While you do need someone to code it for you, it is totally worth it. This way there is no way people can complain you didn’t remind them to subscribe. And they don’t even have to scroll down for it.

 

#6 Don’t hide

Tell me something, when somebody visits your website can they tell who the owner of the business is?

Some people will not even put up a picture of themselves. If you are that person, kindly fix it. People want to know who you are, they want to connect with you and you are getting in the way by choosing not to display a smiling picture.

 

#7 Spend time on your about page

This is another area to which most people don’t pay enough attention to. There is something about writing about yourself in a glowing manner – it’s not easy, but you have to do it. I am not saying become a narcissist, but do tell people who story and what makes you qualified to help them. And don’t forget to add an opt-in box on this page.

 

#8 Pay attention to design

Are you still stuck in 2009? Well, in case you haven’t noticed we are in 2015. Look at the design trends. Which colours are in? How about exploring a flat, parallax style look?

Make sure your website design is mobile responsive so people checking you out on your smart phones and tablets can have a great experience. Pay attention to user experience design which just means being mindful of as ease of use, utility, pleasure and emotional experience.

 

#9 Choose between homepage or blog

Some people are forever toying with the idea of switching to a home page with the service options if they have a blog, or vice versa.

This is what I recommend – If you are a content-focused business, meaning you primarily rely on content marketing to build your list, consider displaying your blog as the homepage. If not, go the home page route. The choice is entirely up to you.

 

#10 Simplify your navigation options

While I am all for infusing your personality on your website, your navigation bar is not the place to do it.

What may look cute or interesting or out of the box to you might totally confuse people. For example what does ‘pearls of wisdom’ or ‘borrow my brain’ mean? Call it resources or services. Think about whether you really need dropdowns. Usually they are fiddly and most people don’t like them. Clean up your meta data and links for SEO benefits.

spring_cleaning

#11 Clean up the sidebar

I bet your sidebar could use some decluttering.

First of all, I highly recommend adding an author bio on your sidebar. You can use a WordPress plugin to do this easily. Great for humanizing your website instantly.

Secondly, there is no need for you to add stuff just for the heck of it. You can easily take off your archives, search box, tag cloud, link to the categories, and your latest tweets. These just make it hard to know where to look.

 

#12 Get rids of all links competing for attention

When somebody comes to your site for the first time, you don’t want them to click on any link that would take them away from it.

The goal is to keep them there, long enough for them to browse your content and get on your list. Think very long and hard about adding social media profile links above the fold. Don’t display ads for other people’s products or services they make you serious cash.

 

#13 Add a sign-box box at the top

Even if you have a feature box somewhere around your header area, adding an opt-in box on top of your sidebar is super important. This converts very well. People are used to seeing them there and by doing this you are putting your prime real estate to the best possible use.

 

#14 Test your freebie

I am assuming you already have a free opt-in offer in place. If not, consider it your next job to create it. If you have one, how is it performing? Did you know that you could offer more than one freebie? Did you know you can test your new freebie by writing a blog post or running an ad to see if there is any interest?

 

#15 Create a squeeze page

Create a squeeze or a lead capture page if you don’t already have one. The beauty of this page is that you can promote it on its own and when you do guest posting, you get far better results if you link to this page instead of the homepage.

Already have one? Maybe you can improve it? Create a better headline? Improve the benefits and call to action? Every single tweak counts.

 

#16 Showcase your best content

When was the last time you updated your blog? Better yet, go have a look at your latest blog post. Is it your best one? I suggest curating your best content on your blog for easy access. This way every time new peeps come over, they can get a taste of what you have to offer.

You can create a ‘start here’ page or resource boxes and strut your stuff easily.

 

#17 Add a sign-up box after every blog post

Most people don’t add a sign-up box after every blog post but it is a really good idea. This means the people who sign up through these boxes are the ones who actually read your content. These are the ‘warmest’ leads you can find, the most interested subscribers.

Sometimes people find a blog post through social media and get sucked into it without giving attention to anything else. These people are more likely to subscribe via these forms.

spring_website

#18 Sprinkle social proof

When I visit a website or a blog for the first time and if I see evidence of lots of other people liking it, I form a positive impression without even realizing it. This is the power of social proof.

Show off your social media counts and comments. This gives people confidence that they are in a safe place where others hang out as well.

 

#19 Add credibility building elements

Don’t forget to add or edit credibility building elements.

If you have been recently featured on different websites, appeared on podcasts, published on leading blogs and received raves and testimonials, put them in strategic places so new visitors can spot them easily. All of these elements go a long way in building credibility and trust so don’t skip it.

 

#20 Consider adding a pop-up

I know, you probably hate pop-ups, don’t you? I certainly do. At least the ones that spring up as soon as I hit a website. However, you can’t deny that they do work so it is entirely up to you if you want to install one. If you do, make it look nice and inviting and use a time delay feature so you don’t end up annoying most people.

 

That’s it.

This is the checklist I use after every six months to revamp my own website. If I see my weekly subscriber numbers drop, I look at my analytics to see if I can get an idea of what’s causing that.

And I also teach my clients to follow this checklist from day 1. Especially in the beginning when you don’t have enough data to draw conclusions from, you should do everything right from your perspective.

When you are done checking items of this, do a test.  Ask a few people to visit your website and see if it is crystal clear what you do, who you help and how you do it. Ask them if it is easy to find all the information they are looking for and if they would subscribe – and if not, ask them why. (Choose people from your ideal target audience so you are not getting rejected for the wrong reason.)

All the best and share with us in the comments below how you are “spring cleaning” your website!

A 20-Point Checklist to Declutter Your Website This Spring is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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St. Patrick’s Day: How to Create a Worldwide Phenomenon http://blog.getresponse.com/st-patricks-day-how-to-create-a-worldwide-phenomenon.html http://blog.getresponse.com/st-patricks-day-how-to-create-a-worldwide-phenomenon.html#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 15:17:36 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19198 Want to throw a St. Patrick’s Day party? As you know, it’s pretty easy — just start inviting friends. Want a parade? That takes a little more organization, but it can be done. Somehow the name St. Patrick has become … Read more

St. Patrick’s Day: How to Create a Worldwide Phenomenon is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Want to throw a St. Patrick’s Day party? As you know, it’s pretty easy — just start inviting friends. Want a parade? That takes a little more organization, but it can be done. Somehow the name St. Patrick has become associated with all kinds of celebrations throughout the world. How did St. Patrick start this worldwide phenomenon? The answer may surprise you.

We don’t like to brag, but in recent years, GetResponse has expanded into many cultures throughout the world in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and North America. So we’ve become something of a worldwide phenomenon too.

OK, I guess we like to brag a little bit, after all ;) But stick with me for a minute. I promise to make a point worth remembering.

When St. Patrick’s Day popped up on our editorial calendar, we wondered how widespread its popularity was in our markets. So we did a little investigating.

 

1. Exciting places

Naturally we found lots of celebrations in Ireland, where St. Patrick did his work. Walk into any town on March 17, and you’ll have to join a parade to get to the other end of town. Walk into any pub along the way, and you’re in for an evening of Guinness stout, Irish whiskey, and choruses of “Danny Boy.”

New York City, which includes a large Irish population, is much the same. It’s hard to shut down Fifth Avenue for a parade, but St. Patrick does it every year. And on March 17, everyone has a touch of Irish blood running through his veins. In towns all over the U.S. — Pittsburgh, Savannah, Seattle, Boston, pick a town — you’ll find people marching in parades, dining on corned beef and cabbage, and drinking that weird green beer.

 

2. Fun places

There are GetResponse customers in Australia and New Zealand, so we went in search of celebrations. Yup, we found them in Sidney, Perth, Aukland and other cities.

But how many Irish people could there be in the Land Down Under? According to the 2011 Australia census, over 2 million residents claim some Irish ancestry — a higher percentage of the population than in the U.S. So let the festivities begin. Is the celebrating due to ancestral pride or the love of a good party. Don’t worry, Aussies, we’ll never tell.

 

3. Surprising places

Still with me? OK, we opened an office in Russia to support a rapidly growing interest in marketing. No St. Paddy’s Day celebrations there, right?

Wrong! In Moscow, thousands line Novy Arbat for a St. Patrick’s Day parade featuring Russian marching bands, Cossack horsemen, and floats. And all over the city, Muscovites visit bars to drink green vodka. OK, I made up the part about the green vodka, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

 

4. Exotic places

We have customers in Japan. And yes, there has been an annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Omote Sando in Tokyo since 1992. Japanese citizens and tourists from all over the world gather to “wear the green.”  You’ll find shamrocks and Asian men in leprechaun hats on every street corner.

The event organizers want everyone to have fun, within limits. According to the parade’s website, they don’t allow smoking, drinking or wearing high heel shoes. You must admit, that would be a dangerous combination ;)

 

5. Random places

To learn more, we consulted our favorite party expert — GetResponse customer the Thirsty Swagman. They’ve made a business out of knowing where all the best parties are. And if they can’t find one, they’ll start one.

Their website lists St. Patrick’s Day festivals in London, Brisbane, Montreal, and (no kidding) Finnegan’s Irish Pub in Florence, Italy, right there among the Michelangelos. Stay tuned to this blog for a feature story about the Thirsty Swagman — coming soon.

 

The truth about St. Patrick’s Day 

St. Patrick had very little to do with creating this worldwide phenomenon. Oh sure, he was a colorful and popular cleric who used the three-leaf shamrock to teach religion. And the shamrock became a great symbol the Irish could rally around. But as far as we know, he never organized a parade.

It was his loyal followers who caught his spirit and started a movement — one that has lasted for 17 centuries and is stronger than ever.

 

What a community can do

Want to start your own worldwide phenomenon? Then start a community. Rally around a business, a movement or a new idea. Give your community stories and symbols to share. Communicate with them often — by email, of course ;)

That’s how GetResponse became a worldwide phenomenon. We did our part. But it was our community of loyal users who supported us, shared our story, and helped spread GetResponse to every corner of the world.

On this St. Patrick’s Day, we’d like to take a moment to thank you for sharing our journey. It has meant the world to us. And as you spread your marketing story throughout the world (or just your corner of it) we’re here to help.

Wishing you miles and miles of Irish smiles!

happy_stpatricks

St. Patrick’s Day: How to Create a Worldwide Phenomenon is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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#StPatricksDay – Extending Your Reach with Trending Hashtags http://blog.getresponse.com/stpatricksday-extending-your-reach-with-trending-hashtags.html http://blog.getresponse.com/stpatricksday-extending-your-reach-with-trending-hashtags.html#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 15:17:22 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19202 Social networks can be rather fickle. What’s trending now will probably not be trending in another day or even hour’s time. It’s a phenomenon of the modern internet that is, for a social media marketer at least, both a bane … Read more

#StPatricksDay – Extending Your Reach with Trending Hashtags is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Social networks can be rather fickle. What’s trending now will probably not be trending in another day or even hour’s time. It’s a phenomenon of the modern internet that is, for a social media marketer at least, both a bane and a boon.

On one level, you know that when a topic is trending – let’s say Wayne Rooney, for instance – all you need to do is stick the hashtag #waynerooney on the end of your tweet (or what have you), and you will be exposing your Twitter account to a very large audience. On the other hand, you know that the hashtag #waynerooney will more than likely fall off trend quicker than you can come up with a suitably witty quip that is both relevant to the hashtag and your business in 140 characters or less.

You will be right, also, to be wary of trying to jump on the back of anything and everything that happens to be trending at any given time. If you’re in the business of selling fruit and veg, say, then you’ll find it hard to justify a tweet or a Facebook post where you hashtag #waynerooney when you’re trying to promote the fresh batch of plums that have just arrived (or at least I hope so).

In fact, it’s highly advisable not to do this. Not only is this sort of hashtag piggy-backing very transparent, it is annoying for social network users, is considered a spam technique, and, if you get reported, you may find in time that you have your account suspended for frequent offences of this nature.

 

What’s Trendy Right Now?

Hashtags are very handy tools for marketers. With a strategic use of trending hashtags, you can improve your SEO, broaden your market reach, amplify your brand, enhance your discoverability, target your specific audience, and much more besides.

Hashtags have actually been around for quite a while now, having first come into use on Internet Relay Chats (IRCs), however it was on Twitter that they found their true calling. Back in the day, what we now tend to define as ‘trending discussions’ were known as ‘tweet chats’. These were basically open discussion forums on Twitter that surrounded a particular topic – and the topic was defined by the hashtag. To join the tweet chat, you simply used the particular hashtag in question somewhere in the tweet that you posted.

In essence, the tweet chat is still alive and kicking today, and it’s essentially how social media marketers use the hashtag for their ongoing social media campaigns. Hashtags are now in broad use across all social media – Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, you name it. When a particular hashtag starts becoming extremely popular it becomes known as a ‘trending hashtag’.

Twitter and Google+ very handily provide you with a list of currently trending topics every time you log on to the homepage of the respective sites. As a general rule of thumb, what’s trending on Twitter will usually transfer to what’s trending on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest (though not always – but it’s a good place to start). Google+ trends are found in the ‘What’s Hot’ section of the homepage, and they do tend to be a little more niche oriented and often different to what’s trending elsewhere on social media.

trending

Predicting Trends

Some trends will literally come and go in a matter of minutes, never to return. Sometimes, though, they will last for several days or even weeks, depending on the topic. Think along the lines of #christmasshopping, for instance. Or, to keep things nice and current – what about #stpatricksday?

You can absolutely guarantee that on and around the 17th of March every year, St. Patrick’s Day and all things green and Irish will be trending somewhere online. Since you know that St. Paddy’s Day is going to happen well in advance, you can plan to take advantage of it, and join the trending hashtag #stpaddysday discussion right across all of your social media channels.

The benefit of knowing in advance what will be trending is that you can plan your posts so that they are not at all spammy, and related directly to both the hashtag and your business. So, I’m expecting all those wily fruit and veg shop owners out there to this week be tweeting something along the lines of:

Happy St P’s day everyone!! Get 2kilos for 1 on potatoes in store now! #stpatricksday

That would be a smart tweet because it uses the trending hashtag in a relevant and meaningful way to promote the owner’s business.

 

It’s All About Reach

Just think how many people are going to see that tweet! As a marketer, you can really jump on the back of trending hashtags and exploit them for all they’re worth. Potentially you can get your message seen by a very large audience. All sorts of users – not just your fans or followers – who are searching for current trends will be exposed to any of your posts that contain the relevant hashtag. And that’s invaluable when it comes to raising brand awareness online and increasing your following online.

 

 

Start Planning Now!!

So, make a list of any upcoming dates throughout the year that you can create relevant content for. Easter’s coming up soon, so what about #easter, #eastereggs, #goodfriday, or the #easterbunny? What sort of tweets can you come up with? Can you write a Tumblr or a blog for your website? What about a photo for Instagram, or special offer for Pinterest? Share with us in the comments below!

Start making a content calendar now so you’re ready for those trending hashtags when they appear.

 

#StPatricksDay – Extending Your Reach with Trending Hashtags is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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12 Mistakes That Scare Customers Away (And How to Undo Them) http://blog.getresponse.com/12-mistakes-scare-customers-away-undo.html http://blog.getresponse.com/12-mistakes-scare-customers-away-undo.html#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 15:17:48 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19152 Even the greatest of corporations have sunk in a pool of red numbers every now and then. Companies that were the stars of the industry for decades have turned to dust within months. How come? They simply became too comfortable … Read more

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Even the greatest of corporations have sunk in a pool of red numbers every now and then. Companies that were the stars of the industry for decades have turned to dust within months. How come? They simply became too comfortable with their daily work ethics or did not know how to treat their customers.

If you work on the way you treat your customers, you can keep them interested for much longer. Read about 12 really bad habits that should be avoided at all costs:

 

1. Bad First Impression

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. An example of a bad first impression could be a slow or not working website, a cancelled webinar, or a problem with an online payment process.

When visitors open your website, make them feel welcome with clean design, organized content, and user friendly navigation. All features must be available and efficient. Offer a bit of extra knowledge, make decision making easier, and you turn a visitor into a customer.

 

2. Your Staff Isn’t Actually Interested in Helping Customers

Your staff should know that they are paid to deliver value to customers, not fake smiles. Explain to your staff why the way they treat customers is vital to customer experience so that they will be motivated to perform well. A good product is simply not enough.

Employees feel motivated when they are considered valuable and important. Those who excel, should be rewarded according to their set of responsibilities. Always keep that in mind – they need to know they are doing a good job.

 

3. You Don’t Thank Your Customers

It’s one of the oldest techniques, yet still an effective one. Let’s say a customer places an order, ff it’s done online – make sure you redirect them to a ‘thank you for your order’ page once they are done. Similarly, if a customer makes a purchase in the shop, your staff should always thank them.

Being polite and courteous is vital if you want loyal customers. Make them feel valued.

 

4. Know Less Than the Customer

If your staff isn’t more informed than the customer, you might as well kiss that customer goodbye. Customers expect the staff to know (a lot) more than them. THEY should be the experts in the industry. Choose your staff wisely and make sure they know the product well. Give them access to all available knowledge bases, and educate them about the product.

loyal_customers

5. Wasting Your Customer’s Time

Nobody likes waiting or having their time wasted. Make sure you don’t give your customer unnecessary reasons for waiting such as ‘the network is down’ or the ‘computer is too slow’. Your competitors are just around the corner. If consumers get frustrated because they have to wait for too long, they’ll most probably choose the other option next time.

Page loading time is one of the most important aspects of online customer experience. Nobody cares about fancy features, if the only thing they see is a rolling circle in the web browser tab. After a few seconds, you lose them. Even Google rewards quick loading times with higher ranks.

 

6. Break Your Promises

You advertised a discount or a sale. But in fact you’ve hidden some extra charge so customers ended up paying more than expected. You may have made a profit in this one purchase, but in the long run you’ve lost the customers’ trust. And long-term profit is what you really need.

If you promise something to your customer, make sure you deliver it!

 

7. You Take And Post Feedback Only From Satisfied Customers

Some shoppers are actually seeking out negative reviews. Shocked? Why should you admit show off a review where someone was not satisfied?

Allowing negative reviews add authenticity to your brand and builds trust in your company. Customers often look for balanced feedback on products and services, they know everything can’t be totally ideal.

Negative reviews also provide valuable feedback about your products or services. Use them to make some improvements. You did well by making an angry customer happy again, but you will do even better when you find out the reason why he was angry in the first place to prevent future problems.

 

8. Delight Your Customer Instead of Delivering Value

According to this study about customer service and loyalty, excellent customer service can actually do little to increase loyalty. But a bad one can destroy it. To a customer, what is more important than a representatives smile, a quick refund, or gift-giving? Meeting their needs and delivering what was promised – quickly. Reducing their effort to get their problem solved.

Customers hate contacting the company repeatedly because their issue has not been resolved. Or talking to five agents and repeating over and over what was wrong. Reduce the number of occurring problems and improve your product or service instead of gift- wrapping.

 

9. Valuing One Customer More Than the Other

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make is to value one customer over the other. This is a big no-no. The minute one customer senses that they are seen as less important, it is very likely you’ll lose them. Leaving one customer to wait in line, while making another (that arrived later) a priority with two sales reps helping him will cause frustration.

You need every customer. They buy your product, but they also talk to their friends, so in order to get recommended, you need to value each and every consumer.

 

10. Be Hard to Track Down When There is a Problem

The importance of support after a sale cannot be ignored. If your business representatives are hard to track down in case of a problem, you are not going to keep your customer’s loyalty for long.

  • Provide as much contact information on your website as possible
  • Information must be easy to navigate and to comprehend
  • Make it as personal as possible. Nobody likes to talk to an autoresponder or to write a message to an unknown receiver.
customers

11. Berating Your Customer

Even in the worst of kind of situations, never berate your customer. Make sure that you always treat your customer in a respectable manner. Berating your customer will not only leave a bad impression, but all those who are within hearing distance will probably feel offended.

To avoid situations like these you can:

  • Create a customer service manual and set penalties for serious violations
  • Train role-playing scenarios portraying various types of customers
  • Regularly review performance of customer support employees
  • Gather feedback from customer support staff frequently to address situations notmentioned in your manual

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12. Trying to Prove You’re Right All the Time

The customer isn’t always right. But that doesn’t mean that you have a right to rub their error in their face. There is no point in making your customer admit his/her fault to win them (and their money) back. They buy your product to solve a problem or fulfill a need or desire. If the problem remains and the desire is not fulfilled, your job is to fix it. No matter where the pain point is. Some tips how to be better at dealing with such sticky situations:

  • Listen carefully and identify whether it is really your customer’s fault
  • Politely propose a solution and make sure everything you said is understandable
  • If the issue is more complicated, promise a prompt action
  • Make sure your customer knows what is going to happen after each step of the problemsolving process
  • After solving a problem ask if further assistance is required
  • Let your customer end the conversation. It’s the common courtesy

If you keep your eyes closed to the 12 mistakes mentioned above, your customers will not come back. It’s not always possible to identify problems right away or to prevent them from happening at all. However it takes skill with prompt and proactive approach from you and your staff to minimize the damage. Most customers will appreciate this.

Share with us in the comments below if you have ever made any mistakes and how you overcame them. Maybe you know of some other mistakes that marketers should watch out for?

 

michal_kourilMichal Kouril is the head of customer success at Liveagent live chat software & helpdesk. He takes care of the customer onboarding process.

12 Mistakes That Scare Customers Away (And How to Undo Them) is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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21 Awesome Free Plugins for Your WordPress Blog http://blog.getresponse.com/21-awesome-free-plugins-wordpress-blog.html http://blog.getresponse.com/21-awesome-free-plugins-wordpress-blog.html#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 15:07:17 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19168 WordPress is one of the best content creation tools ever created. It’s free, easy to learn, easy to use, and endlessly flexible. That’s why so many affiliate marketers, solo professionals, bloggers, activists, dreamers and doers have adopted it. If you’ve … Read more

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WordPress is one of the best content creation tools ever created. It’s free, easy to learn, easy to use, and endlessly flexible. That’s why so many affiliate marketers, solo professionals, bloggers, activists, dreamers and doers have adopted it.

If you’ve got a WordPress blog, the odds are good you’ve installed quite a few plugins already. But you may be missing out on some better ones. This assembly of free plugins was chosen according to what you need to do on your site, how well the plugins are rated and how recently they have been updated. I think you’ll find at least one gem in here, even if you’re a WordPress pro.

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SEO

1) WordPress SEO by Yoast

WordPressSEOYoast

Search engine optimization can seem hard to understand and difficult to keep up with. It’s intimidating, and there’s a serious risk you can hurt your business instead of help it if you do SEO wrong. Until you try using this plugin on your posts.

To use WordPress SEO, you literally click a button, and it will analyze your page and give you a basic rating for how well your post is optimized for the keyword you’ve chosen. You’ll see a green button if you’ve got a well-optimized page, or a yellow button if your page is “OK”. Red means a poorly optimized post. But don’t worry if you see yellow or red. The plugin will give you a specific list of things you need to do, ranked by their importance.

 

2) Google XML Sitemaps

GoogleXMLSitemaps

We all want our pages to get found and indexed. So use this simple, free sitemap plugin to help make that happen.

 

Comment Management

3) Disqus Comment System

Disqus

Want to see Disqus in action? Scroll down to the bottom of this post. Disqus is used by the GetResponse blog, and thousands of other sites. If someone has commented on another blog that uses Disqus, they’ll already have a login to use on your site if they want to comment. Disqus also weeds out comment spam, which is essential if you’ve got a site with even a minimal presence online.

Just in case you don’t want to install Disqus, but you’re getting bombarded by comment spam, try Akismet. It’s also free, widely used, and really good at getting rid of thousands of spam comments, while preserving comments from actual people.

 

Backups

4) UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration

UpdraftPlusBackupAndRestoration

Most good backup options are paid, but UpdraftPlus is good enough to be a worthy competitor, even if it is free. UpdraftPlus can also migrate sites, which is a common task related to backups. If you don’t like UpdraftPlus, BackUpWordPress is a very close runner-up in terms of features, compatibility, ratings, how recently it’s been updated and how often they resolve support threads.

 

Security

5) iThemes Security

iThemesSecurity

There are a number of good free WordPress security plugins. This appears to be the best, but several good WordPress sites have also said nice things about All in One Security & Firewall and WordFence. WordFence has 700,000 active installs; iThemes Security has 600,000. All in One Security & Firewall has only 100,000.

While iThemes has a lot of voices supporting it, WordFence has one really attractive feature: It also speeds up your site. A lot. Up to 50 times faster.

So how should you pick which plugin is best for you? See which one conflicts with your existing plugins. Both iThemes and WordFence are compatible with most of the major plugins, but you may be using something that still creates a snag. Security plugins are especially prone to these kinds of problems. For that reason, definitely do a backup before you install any plugin, but especially a security plugin.

 

Speed

6) W3 Total Cache

W3TotalCache

This is take care of all the technical nuts and bolts of site speed optimization for you. 900,000 active installs can’t be wrong.

 

7) WP-Optimize

WP-Optimize

This plugin optimizes your site’s databases. Sound boring? Maybe… at least until you start seeing your site load faster.

 

8) Imsanity

ImsanityImageOptimizer

Most sites are being badly slowed down by oversized images. Imsanity nips that problem in the bud: It automatically resizes and optimizes new images upon upload. Got a ton of old, oversized images? No problem: Imsanity can bulk-resize them.

Runner up for a free WordPress image resizer: EWWW Image Optimizer.

 

List Building

9) Plugmatter

Plugmatter

This lets you add a feature box to either your home page, or to any other page on your site. It’s a snap to install, easily customizable and works with GetResponse.

 

10) Scroll Triggered Boxes

ScrollTriggeredBoxes

This is the best alternative for those of you who hate pop-ups. A scrolling opt-in box is nearly as effective as a pop-up, and less annoying.

 

Contact Forms

11) Contact Form 7

ContactForm7

Every site needs a contact form. This is the best free option. Features include CAPTCHAs, spam filtering with Akismet, and the ability to save submitted messages within your WordPress install.

 

Social Media

12) Twitter

Twitter

As you know, Twitter and blogging are peas in a pod. That’s why Twitter is called “micro-blogging”. Keep these two in sync with this plugin, which includes the ability to set up Twitter cards.

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13) Simple Share Buttons Adder

SimpleShareButtonsAdder

There are dozens of plugins and tools to add social sharing buttons to your site. So why did I pick this one? It’s notoriously easy to use, light on load, and supports over a dozen different social platforms.

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14) Click to Tweet

ClickToTweet

Want more social shares? Make it brain-dead easy to share your content. This plugin makes it that easy. Despite relatively few downloads, I’ve seen this plugin used on some of the smartest marketers’ blogs. It’s giving them an edge, but you can get it too.

 

15) Floating Social Bar

FloatingSocialBar

In addition to the static sharing buttons, it’s a good idea to have a scrolling social share bar. I like this one because it’s minimalistic, won’t slow your site and is super easy to use.

 

Sell ebooks or manage downloads

16) Easy Digital Downloads

EasyDigitalDownloads

If you want to make a profit off your blog, the single best way is to start creating products. Sure, AdSense and affiliate programs are good, too, but products are better. This plugin makes selling products really easy.

If Easy Digital Downloads doesn’t work for you, try Download Manager.

 

To manage advertising

17) Simple Ads Manager

SimpleAdsManager

Whether you’re advertising your own products and services, or someone else’s, it’s good to have a way to manage what you’re promoting. This is not as highly rated as I would like, but it appears to be best of class for free ad manager plugins.

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Content Management

18) WordPress Popular Posts

WordPressPopularPosts

I saw this plugin again and again while I was checking some top Internet marketing gurus’ sites for a recent article. With so many smart marketers using this, plus 200,000 other active installs, it seems like it’s worth a look.

Having a popular posts list is an excellent way to help lure new visitors into reading more of your posts.

 

19) Editorial Calendar

EditorialCalendarWant to know the hardest thing about blogging? It’s maintaining a consistent publishing schedule. Editorial calendars make that much easier.

This is not the only editorial calendar plugin. But it is free, widely used, recently updated, highly rated, and very easy to use. There’s another free editorial calendar plugin called EditFlow. Some people have sung it’s praises within the last six months, but I’m a little leery of it because it hasn’t been updated in over a year.

 

20) Yop Poll

YopPolls

I’ve used this plugin to get very interesting feedback from visitors. You can also see where they’re at in their understanding about a given topic. It’s easy to set up, has few to no conflicts, great ratings and is customizable. Using polls also makes visitors more likely to stay on your site.

 

21) Your favorite free WordPress plugin.

Tell us what it is in the comments.

 

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A 20-point Checklist to Make Your Blog Posts Feel Like Notes From a Friend http://blog.getresponse.com/20-point-checklist-make-blog-posts-feel-like-notes-friend.html http://blog.getresponse.com/20-point-checklist-make-blog-posts-feel-like-notes-friend.html#comments Wed, 11 Mar 2015 15:17:08 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19142 Every morning I log into my personal email account and see a flood of messages. I see messages from blogs I am subscribed to, newsletters I have asked for, competitions I may have entered and of course messages from friends … Read more

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Every morning I log into my personal email account and see a flood of messages. I see messages from blogs I am subscribed to, newsletters I have asked for, competitions I may have entered and of course messages from friends and family. Which emails do you think I would click open first?

Personal messages, of course. In this day of Facebook, Twitter, and Viber, I am delighted to receive emails from friends. Now, I’ll tell you a little secret. There are some people that I consider to be my “friends” who probably don’t even know I exist. These are the people I have never met and still I love to open their emails. People like Naomi Dunford, Marie Forleo, Denise Duffield-Thomas, Pam Hendrickson, Derek Halpern, and many more …

I am sure you recognize some of the names I mentioned above: these are popular bloggers, of course. And I consider these people to be my friends because every single blog post they publish makes me feel like one. When I see their email, I feel like they are writing only to me. That I am not a number on their list. So how do they do that? And most importantly, do you want to do this?

Glad you asked. In today’s post, I am going to show you how to write in a conversational manner so your readers feel like they are hearing from an old friend.

Let’s dive in …

 

#1 Picture your ideal reader

Don’t write to 537 people on your list. Write to one person. Who is this person? This person is your ideal client or customer. Not only that, it is your ideal reader who is most likely to buy from you.

Imagine them sitting across the table with you. You are sharing coffee. What would you talk about? What are the things that would be of interest to them? How would you say them?

Think about all the things you would not say. Write your post keeping these people at the  front and centre of your mind. Make them feel like they are the only person getting this email. Stop writing to everyone.

 

#2 Address them directly

Use ‘you’ attitude in your writing instead of ‘I’. What is you attitude? It simply means using more of words like you, and your and less of I, we and our.

By addressing your reader, you consciously write things that will be of value to them. You create blog posts that would be highly beneficial and by writing in this manner, the reader will know that ultimately, they are your number one focus and not the other way around.

By writing with a you attitude you are forced to step into their shoes. By addressing them you are showing interest in their lives, and we know only true friends do that.

 

#3 Talk less about yourself

Continuing on the theme of putting the lime light on your reader, I recommend taking the focus away from yourself (unless it serves a purpose and we will talk about that in a minute).

Writing a blog post is not a navel gazing exercise. Your blog post is not an entry in a journal. It’s actually not about you – it’s about your readers. Instead of trying to sell all the time, try and be of service. Instead of singing your own praises, appreciate your readers. Let them know they mean a lot to you.

Treat them like a dear friend and they will reciprocate the gesture.

 

#4 Mirror their responses

In marketing speak, this is known as paying close attention to your prospects language and knowing the exact phrases they use.

You can also think of it as using their own words to talk to them. Just like your choice of words changes from when you speak to a toddler, a teenager, your spouse, or your boss – change your own articulation.

Match the things they say when they are highly frustrated and feel like nobody understands them. Use their words to describe their feelings when they are feeling hopeful. Make them feel like you are inside their head, that you know them better than themselves and your blog posts will never go unread.

friends

#5 Include questions

What’s the difference between having a conversation with a friend and throwing a lecture The first one is a dialogue while the latter is a monologue. In a conversation, you ask questions, you make the other person participate. Do the same in your blog post.

Kill the monologue and turn it into a dialogue. Not only will your readers thank you for it, you will get rid of another pesky problem – getting no or very few comments. Ask a question and your readers are more inclined to answer.

 

#6 Write at an eighth grade reading level

The goal of your blog post is to be consumed, help solve a problem and make an impact. It’s not to show off your brilliant vocabulary and impress people by using big words. Research has shown that the average adult reads at a grade eight reading level. Unless your audience demands it, write it in a way people can understand your content.  You don’t need to be high register (like Wall Street Journal). It’s fine to talk to an average person (Reader’s digest).

 

#7 Write short paragraphs and sentences

On the web, it just makes sense to break up your paragraphs and write using short sentences. It increases readability and people feel less overwhelmed. However, by doing this you also write in a conversational tone.

Notice how I have written this blog post? It doesn’t read like an essay. Because it is conversational. You want to do the same.

 

#8 Write in an active voice

“Your email will be responded to shortly.”

“I will respond to your email shortly.”

Notice the difference between these two sentences? Which one do you prefer? The second sentence is direct, more powerful and something you might actually say to someone. The first one? Not so much. The first one is written in a passive voice, the second one in an active one. Do more of the first kind.

 

#9 Break rules of grammar

First learn the rules of grammar, and then know which ones to break. For instance, it is okay to start your sentence with and, or but. Use contractions. Instead of writing I will, say I’ll, or did not as didn’t. That’s how you talk, don’t you? Use simple words. If you can find an easy word to replace a long, difficult one, do it. Kill the adverbs. They are just plain annoying.

 

#10 Inject emotion

Allow people to feel your emotions. Whether you are sad or dejected, excited or dumbfounded, frustrated or bummed, know that airing your feelings will get you closer to your audience’s hearts.

Write your blog post like a human, and not a robot. And we all know humans come with feelings. Use them.

 

#11 Stir the pot

It is fine to say what you really think – how you really feel. Sometimes you just need to step up and say your two cents about a tough topic that nobody wants to talk about. You want to bring attention to the elephant in the room.

It’s fine. Don’t sugar coat your feelings. Tackle controversial topics, don’t be politically correct. People want to hear your true opinion. They need to know if they can trust you.

 

#12 Use slang or curse words

Do you have a potty mouth in real life? When you work with clients, are you known to be a bad ass? It’s okay to be yourself in your writing. Sometimes you have to use a swear word as nothing else will do.

If that’s you, then your audience will not be shocked. You will not receive hate mail. Your readers will respect you more (But don’t be something you are not. Swearing for its own sake won’t make you look cool.)

sharing

#13 Say things only you would say

Allow your personality to shine through in your writing. Use pet phrases. Say things only you would say. You are an individual, your life experiences are unique to you. Think about how you can incorporate all of this is your writing.

People are scared of being copied – of being ripped off by other people. But when you stay true to yourself and talk about what you have experienced, nobody can take that from you.

 

#14 Get rid of jargon and corporate speak

Do you know the opposite of being conversational? It’s using stuffy language, being pedantic or scholarly, and generally being boring.  Please don’t do that.

If people want to read scientific research or academic papers, they know where to go. They certainly don’t want to read your blog post for that purpose. Avoid been business-like. Stop using industry jargon and technical mumbo-jumbo. Do you talk like a real person? Then write like one, too.

 

#15 Be vulnerable 

The fastest way to appear human and build an instant connection is to be vulnerable. People love to know how you make it work in spite of your own shortcomings, dramas, and things that are outside your control.

People like people who are just like them. It gives them hope that they too can be successful and happy and prosperous. When you share your wins – and your failures, you give people hope. You inspire them. You show them how it is done.

Trust me – nobody wants perfection. It just makes them see how imperfect their own lives are. Be vulnerable. Be human.

 

#16 Share stories

Remember when I said it is not about you? Except when it is. Tell stories about you, your personal life and your business. The ultimate goal of a blog post is to provide value to your readers. This doesn’t have to be educational or instructional all the time.

You can inspire them with your story of how you came to realize your dreams while beating the odds. You can entertain them by telling them about something so stupid you did recently that even your 5 year old was completely mortified.

Use stories to connect.

 

#17 Talk about water cooler topics

Friends love sharing gossip. Friends love to be the first one to break news in their circle.

You can do the same thing. Your blog posts don’t have to be serious all the time. They can talk about Kim Kardashian breaking the Internet or Bangladesh kicking England out of the World Cup (That’s Cricket in case you were wondering).

It’s perfectly okay to indulge in a bit of gossip and even more so to cover trending topics. As a side benefit, making references to global events is actually good for getting people to click your headline so you should be doing that anyway. For the purposes of this article though, go ahead and giggle with your readers about inappropriate shots of a famous celebrity. Having fun will not make you less of an authority.

 

#18 Give an example

Ever notice the friend who gives you the most practical tips and relevant examples, becomes the go-to person for that particular topic? You can do the same for your readers.

Don’t talk about theory, strategy, or big picture thinking all the time. Give people actionable steps to get to their goal. Give lots of examples to make everything super clear. When you do a really good job of explaining something, people prefer coming to you.

explainer

#19 Write a rant

You know what real people do? They get mad sometimes. They get fired up because they are sick of dealing with something or witnessing something and it goes on and on.

Perhaps you can relate? It is totally fine to let out a rant once in a while. If something is bugging you in your industry or if you are tired of all the myths and miscomputations others perpetuate, then let off some steam. It will make you look human.

 

#20 Act like a friend

Do you talk to your friend in the same way as when you talk to a prospective client or a partner in business? I am guessing you don’t. When you talk to a friend you are much more relaxed and are being yourself. You certainly don’t pretend to be someone you are not. You should do more of that in business.

Don’t be overly professional. Let others feel as if they are talking to a friend. Bond instead of building authority all the time. Have a sense of humour. Are you good at telling jokes? If so, do that in your writing. The whole point is to be someone others feel comfortable listening to.

 

These are my top tips to write in a conversational manner

Now I want you to write your next blog post in a way that the recipient can’t help but feel like they are the most important person in your life. That they feel connected to you and can’t help but place their trust in you.

When you make them feel like they are hearing from their best friend, or get the feeling that they have known you forever, you know you have done your job well.

Now go do it and share with us in the comments below how you have approached your readers!

 

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How to Increase Conversions with Facebook CTA Button http://blog.getresponse.com/increase-conversions-facebook-cta-button.html http://blog.getresponse.com/increase-conversions-facebook-cta-button.html#comments Tue, 10 Mar 2015 16:07:30 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19133 Facebook hasn’t exactly been making it easy for advertisers to promote their business recently. Unless, of course, they’re willing to spend their dollars on paid distribution. So this little free addition is a nice surprise that can help increase conversions … Read more

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Facebook hasn’t exactly been making it easy for advertisers to promote their business recently. Unless, of course, they’re willing to spend their dollars on paid distribution. So this little free addition is a nice surprise that can help increase conversions on your business Facebook page.

We mentioned the Facebook CTA earlier in our recent post on the latest Facebook video features. As the very name suggests, the button can encourage your fans to take certain actions straight from your Facebook page and send them, for example, to a landing page, video or app.

Although the Facebook CTA button for business pages was launched a couple of months ago, chances are you might not have used it yet. So here’s a brief tutorial on how to set it up — it’s really easy.

 

Facebook CTA button

 

To add a CTA button to your page:

 

1. Go to your Facebook Page’s cover photo and click Create Call-to-Action.

Tip: Make sure your cover photo design doesn’t obscure the button for visitors. Also, keep in mind that mobile users — at least for now ­— won’t see the CTA button, so perhaps it’s better not to confuse them with additional graphics pointing to the button.

 

2. Choose your call to action from the following list:

 

    • Book Now – Take your fans to sites to buy tickets for events you organize.
    • Contact Us – Take them to your contact form or customer support page.
    • Use App – Link to a Facebook app, such as a contest created for your fans. If you have your own mobile app you want the to download, you can link to it here, too.
    • Play Game – Engage them in your online game.
    • Shop Now – Take them to your e-store for more conversions from Facebook.
    • Sign Up – Take them to your newsletter sign-up form or a site where they can create an account for your service.
    • Watch Video – Show a video explaining your services and features.

 

3. Paste the link of a site where you want to send people.

Tip: Add a Google Analytics tracking link to see how many conversions (sales, sign-ups, etc.) have come specifically from the button.

 

4. Choose the destination link for mobile users. You can either send them to the same page or link to an app, if you have one.

Tip: If you’re sending them to a landing page, make sure it’s optimized for mobile.

 

5. Click “Create”.

 

6. Track the results in Facebook Insights. As a page admin, you’ll see the number of clicks from the past week to the right of your cover photo, along with page likes and post reach. If you enable Google Analytics tracking, you can also track actual conversions (sign-ups, purchases etc.)

 

Facebook CTA stats

 

Tip: Change the call-to-action periodically to achieve different goals and see what works best for your business.

So as you can see, it’s really a no-brainer. It may look like a small addition, but it can bring you additional traffic from Facebook absolutely for free. Test the CTA button with different content and see what approach yields the best results for you. Or have you tried it already? Share your results in the comments.

P.S. Speaking of Facebook, just recently we’ve reached the 100,000 fan mark on our Facebook page. See the video we made specially for this occasion!

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Structuring URLs For SEO http://blog.getresponse.com/structuring-urls-seo.html http://blog.getresponse.com/structuring-urls-seo.html#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 15:07:01 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19124 Search engines are pretty sophisticated things these days and can handle quite a lot of technical challenges. In fact, there are some people out there who think that fussing around with your URL structure does nothing to help your SEO. … Read more

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Search engines are pretty sophisticated things these days and can handle quite a lot of technical challenges. In fact, there are some people out there who think that fussing around with your URL structure does nothing to help your SEO. I’d disagree (it’s a Domain Authority ranking factor for goodness sake), and so would a lot of other SEO professionals. 

As Tom Schmitz states in SearchEngineLand.com:

Poor URL structure is a frequent SEO issue, one that can impair rankings, keep pages out of the search engine indexes, and suck ranking authority from your other pages or even the entire websites.”

So, with the jury still out, the best practice to take is of course to play it safe and start structuring SEO-friendly URLs if you’re not doing so already – the last thing you want to do is leave this last little detail to chance once you’ve already spent the best part of your day writing the perfect post where content is still king, but your keywords, links and all the rest are right on the money for top notch SEO.

But firstly…

 

What Exactly Is an SEO-friendly URL?

An SEO-friendly URL is actually rather similar to what you would think a reader-friendly URL would be. On a very basic level, this means that your URL should:

  • Contain easy-to-read keywords
  • Be straightforward, with no duplicate content

And should not:

  • Contain gibberish numbers and symbols.
  • Contain an unsightly amount of hyphens or + signs or slashes / or underscores _

Importantly, an SEO-friendly URL should be structured for every single page on your website – not just your homepage. But, of course, that’s where it starts, and so shall we.

 

Your Domain

This is your web address. For search engines, it is much like a postal address – this is where it will post all of your letters (i.e. web traffic) according to the address on the envelope (i.e. users’ search queries). If you are lucky enough to be able to reside at a keyword rich domain – i.e. one that not only contains your business’s name, but also one or two of the top keywords that are most commonly used in connection with your business – then you’re off to a flying start.

But, if this isn’t possible for you, then no matter. It is of course of utmost importance that your company name is in your domain name – after all, that is what you will hope to be the most important keyword anyway when people are trying to locate your business on the web.

links

Getting Into It – Best Practices for Creating SEO-Friendly URLs

1. The More Readable the Better – And Get In Those Keywords!!

Readability is one of the most important factors when creating an SEO-friendly URL. Something like this is perfect: http://www.tabletsrus.org/tablets/apple/ipad2

So, at Tablets R Us, they sell apple iPad 2s on their website. “Tablets”, “apple” and “iPad2” are obvious keywords and they’re all there. So, provided that this link directs users to the sales page for that specific item, then that’s a pretty strong URL.

Readability also helps SEO simply because it makes users more likely to click on the link should they come across it in a blog or on Twitter or what have you – and the more click-throughs you get, the more SEO points you receive from Google overall. It also serves as great anchor text if any other blogger wanted to use it as a link.

The main point here is to avoid using relative or dynamic URLs in favour of static ones. A static URL, such as in the example above, is much easier on the eye for one thing, and contains those all-important keywords for another. A dynamic URL is generally indecipherable for your average human user, and will contain fewer keywords. A dynamic version of the one above might look something like this: http://www.tabletsrus/&p=890987

It just doesn’t look very pretty, does it? And the fact that this URL will be displayed in links and on SERPs doesn’t leave the user with a lot of confidence as to where it will lead if clicked on.

 

2. Keep ‘Em Short And Sweet

Google doesn’t really mind that much about long URLs, but users don’t like them. This, again, harks back to my previous point – long URLs are difficult to read, and they are also slightly more inconvenient to copy and paste, and of course if they’re really long then they won’t fit into Twitter without you having to use something like the Google URL Shortener.

 

3. Make Sure To Match Your URLs to Page Titles

Again, this is much better for users. People want to know where they’re going to end up if they click on a link, and so, if you can create a URL that matches your page title then so much the better.

But remember to keep it short as well. If you’re linking to a blog post that perhaps has a title and a separated subtitle, such as: “Making Milkshakes On A Monday: Why They Taste Better Than When You Make Them On A Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday or Sunday” – just using the main heading is fine: http://www.mightymilkshakes.com/making-milkshakes-monday

 

4. Don’t Include Stop Words

As you will notice in my example above, I have omitted the “On A” part from my “Making Milkshakes On A Monday” URL title. Put simply, there’s no need for it, and removing it makes for a shorter URL, which, as discussed, is important.

 

5. Create an XML Sitemap

Your XML Sitemap is basically a list of all of your site’s URLs that you submit to search engines. They help search engines find your pages more easily by using them as a reference when choosing canonical URLs for your website.

Most websites will have duplicate pages here and there. However, search engines don’t like returning duplicates in their SERPs, and so just pick one out of the group to display on the results page.

So, in order to gain control over which one the search engines pick – and also to ensure, for SEO purposes, that it is the same page every time – choose your preferred page’s URL in your sitemap, and that should prioritise it over the duplicate(s).

link_building

Final Thoughts

Beware also of case sensitivity when structuring your URLs. Some servers can interpret separate cases, and others can’t, which is a bit of a bummer. So find out about your servers before you start sending your followers goodness knows where when they click on your links.

Remember also that search engines ignore the hashtag # and everything after it in a URL. So if you want to make sure that search engines are indexing every page separately, then don’t use them. Finally, use hyphens – not underscores _ to separate words. Search engines read underscores as connectors not separators.

Got any more tips for structuring SEO and User-friendly URLs? Let us know in the comments below. 

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The Rise of Mobile Marketing Automation http://blog.getresponse.com/rise-mobile-marketing-automation.html http://blog.getresponse.com/rise-mobile-marketing-automation.html#comments Fri, 06 Mar 2015 15:17:44 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19056 Contextualization is the new panacea for the marketing industry. How can we personalize? How can we stay relevant? How can we engage the customer where it counts? A recent answer comes in response to the fever-pitch popularity of mobile devices and … Read more

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Contextualization is the new panacea for the marketing industry. How can we personalize? How can we stay relevant? How can we engage the customer where it counts? A recent answer comes in response to the fever-pitch popularity of mobile devices and smart phones.

Recent data from Pew Research indicates that 90 percent of American adults now have mobile phones, and 30 percent regularly use them to decide whether or not to visit local businesses such as stores and restaurants—a golden opportunity for marketers to contextualize digital engagement. 

Though marketing automation itself is still not widely adopted, developers from major platforms like Salesforce and Adobe are already exploring the uncharted waters of mobile marketing automation (MMA). At the moment, the MMA market is only 1.5 percent penetrated, but a VentureBeat Insight report projects growth will double or even triple this year.

Brands are desperate to make themselves matter in an era of overabundant information, and MMA could be a viable solution for delivering targeted, context-specific messages.

 

What is It?

In its early stages, MMA has focused on boosting app engagement through in-app marketing. Appboy, for example, is a mobile marketing solution designed to prevent “app-abandonment.”  Other efforts have tried to drive conversions through SMS campaigns and banner ads, but these attempts have generally yielded underwhelming results.

They fail to compel because they fail to contextualize.The next generation of MMA solutions is about connecting with the right people at the right time in a way that is personally meaningful to them. 

The process usually starts with an app download, although it can also be triggered by a mobile visit to a website or an online purchase. Depending on how much data is needed, the customer may or may not have to opt in (e.g. for location tracking). From there, MMA works through push notifications, SMS messages, or in-app messaging to send customers targeted offers and information.

 

Contextualizing with Triggers

Your marketing efforts can only be relevant insomuch as you know and understand each customer. As developers and firms continue to define MMA this year, the champions will be those who successfully use data and analytics for the most accurate targeting. To accomplish this, businesses will need the help of social tools and customer relationship management (CRM), as well as set of reliable triggers.

Poorly targeted MMA will annoy or fall upon deaf ears. For example: a cafe sends a push notification about a breakfast croissant to a patron passing the storefront, but it’s three o’clock in the afternoon, and the patron isn’t hungry … vs. the use of additional data points (time of day, weather, purchase history, Facebook likes) to send a notification about their favorite iced coffee on a hot afternoon.

What causes the delivery of these targeted messages? The common triggers for mobile marketing aren’t unlike those of traditional marketing automation, although the use of a mobile device as the delivery vehicle allows for greater localization.

  • Location/proximity: geolocation and “beacon” technology can send marketing messages based on real-time geographic location or location within a store (e.g. the gardening section)
  • Behavior: Actions taken by the customer on your website, inside of the app, or in-store trigger appropriately curated content
  • Stage: messaging is tailored to stage in the buying cycle or “funnel” (first-time site visitors, customers interested in specific products, loyal customers, etc.)
  • Sequencing: similar to “drip marketing,” but with mobile, can use a variety of content types (web prompts, push notifications, SMS, email) to coax a lead through conversion with time-placed messages
  • Throttling/Rate Limits: helps you optimize delivery over a period of time without overwhelming recipients with too many messages at the wrong time

 

Industry Impact

Businesses everywhere are quickly realizing the advantages of using mobile engagement to drive sales and retention. Last year, advertisers spent 83 percent more on advertising through smartphones and tablets than in 2013.

When it comes to MMA, marketers have reported significant gains in the form of higher customer ratings, reduced acquisition costs, better insight, increased conversions, and the ability to engage customers through multiple channels, according to VentureBeat.

Salesforce’s latest marketing solution—Marketing Cloud—offers a set of cutting edge MMA tools including user-engagement tracking, geo-targeting, and social media analytics.  Marketing Cloud has already attracted thousands of business clients, such as GE, Sony, and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants.

MMA is also attracting followers in retail, hospitality, automotive sales, and public transportation as a way to simultaneously drive revenue and improve the customer experience. For example, guiding a hotel guest through their stay with pre-arrival emails, amenity promotions, and invitations to local attractions.

 

Closing Thoughts

If you’re considering a mobile marketing strategy for your business, do some careful research first. Survey your customer base to gauge how receptive they would be to receiving location or behavior based offers. Consider your product or service, and whether or not it lends itself to the mobile arena. MMA won’t be a winning choice for every company. Finally, evaluate a few specific MMA solutions online (most will be part of larger marketing automation or CRM software), or even consider seeking advice from an unbiased consulting service.

Paired with the right data and integrations, mobile marketing automation promises to engage customers in a way that’s more personal and immediate than ever before. Instead of 10 bulk emails, a business can send one meaningful message to the right customer. Instead of spam, that customer will receive value, and repay value with loyalty.

 

aleks-peterson-fullresAbout the author: Aleksandr Peterson is a technology analyst at TechnologyAdvice. He covers gamification, CRMs, project management, and other emerging business technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

 

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The 27 Best Free Marketing Tools for Affiliates http://blog.getresponse.com/27-best-free-marketing-tools-affiliates.html http://blog.getresponse.com/27-best-free-marketing-tools-affiliates.html#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 15:07:14 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19099 Oh, you brave affiliate marketers. Trying to outdo major corporations with only your passion, hard work and marketing savvy. It’s no little thing, what you’ve undertaken. You need all the help you can get. Just remember: One tool won’t make … Read more

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Oh, you brave affiliate marketers. Trying to outdo major corporations with only your passion, hard work and marketing savvy. It’s no little thing, what you’ve undertaken. You need all the help you can get. Just remember: One tool won’t make the difference between success and failure. But if you’re already on your way to success, a good tool can give you an edge.

We’ve compiled this list in the hopes of giving you as many edges as possible. Every tool listed here is free. To keep this list manageable, I have not included even one WordPress plugin. There are no apps, either. It was hard. But next week’s post will make up for some of the absence. It’s a roundup of the best and most essential free WordPress plugins.

So here’s your list, grouped by activity. If one of your favorite online tools for affiliates isn’t listed here, give it a shout-out in the comments.

 

Headlines

1) Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer

As an affiliate, you’re fundamentally a traffic broker. Traffic flows toward good content. It flows toward killer headlines. Get the headline right and you’re more than on your way. So here’s the tool to pick a highly viral headline every time.

 

2) The Advanced Marketing Institute’s Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer 

 

EmotionalHeadlineAnalyzerAlso good for finding the headline most likely to succeed.

 

Content ideas

3) Buzzsumo 

Want to know which blog posts, videos, podcasts or infographics have gotten the most shares in the last 24 hours? The last three months, six months, or a year? This is the tool for that. It’ll even tell you who shared the most. This is killer information if you want to reach out to influencers on a specific topic. Check out Topsy, too. Just want to know how many shares a URL has? Try SharedCount instead.

 

4) Portent’s Content Idea Generator

Give it a topic, and Portent’s Content Idea Generator will do the rest. This tool is especially good at funny headlines like “Why Wily Affiliate Marketers are Hotter than Jennifer Lawrence”.

PortentContent

 

 

5) Content Idea Generator 

Want hundreds of content ideas? This is the tool for you. After you register, they’ll ask you about your target audience, what they struggle with and what they want. Then you click a button and see several hundred ready-to-use headlines and topic ideas. You’ll have enough content ideas for the next year.

 

ContentIdeaGenerator

6) Feedly 

One of the best ways to develop content ideas is to get exposed to a lot of them. That used to mean reading dozens of blogs and signing up for dozens of email newsletters. You can still do that, but Feedly makes it way easier.

 

SEO

7) The Google keyword tool  

This is the granddaddy of all keyword tools. You will need to register an AdWords account to use it, but it’s worth it. Even though the Google keyword tool has become less helpful over the years, it’s still essential. Don’t make a business decision about a keyword without checking it first.

 

8) Google Webmaster Tools 

There are so many SEO tools and resources here, it’s hard to know where to start. Start with creating an account. Link your sites to it. Then use the PageSpeed Insights tool to see how your sites are doing speedwise. Next, check how mobile-friendly your sites are with the Mobile-Friendly test. Finished with that? Optimize how your pages appear in the SERPs with the Structured Data Testing Tool. That’s just the start of what you can do with Webmaster Tools.

 

9) Portent SERP Preview tool 

Moz also has a preview tool, but I prefer Portent’s. If you don’t happen to have the Yoast plugin installed on your WordPress site (whoops… not supposed to mention plugins!), this is the next best thing, at least for your title tags and meta description tags.

 

SERPPreviewTool

 

10) Google Analytics 

Like Google Webmaster tools, this has so many powerful features that it’s kind of a world onto itself. It lets you find out where your traffic comes from, and what people do on your site. You can even set up website tests with Content Experiments. If you’re not using Analytics, I hope you know what you’re doing.

 

11) Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker

Affiliates often get hit particularly hard by Google algorithm updates. Fruition won’t stop that from happening, but it will tell you what happened better than any other tool I know. When you’re dealing with a drop in rankings, it’s critical to know what you got slammed by. This tool will show you that for free.

Fruition

11) Majestic SEO 

There’s a free version of this tried-and-true SEO tool. It will show you details about your sites’ link profile, plus all sorts of cool info about keywords. If you want to analyze competitors, this should be one of the tools in your arsenal.

 

12) Keyword Spy 

Want to know what top affiliates are promoting which products, and where? This is the tool. Affiliate marketing, as you know, is extraordinarily competitive, so these kinds of competitive analysis tools can really make a difference. At first glance this appears to be a paid tool, but they have a “lifetime free trial”.

If you like Keyword Spy, check out Spyfu.com. Especially if you’re doing pay per click advertising.

 

13) Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool 

The Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool is free for sites up to 500 pages. It’s primarily used for SEO and content audits.

 

 

Social media

14) Buffer 

Want to save yourself a mountain of time? Automate your social media updates. Buffer makes it easy.

 

16) Followerwonk 

This Moz tool will help you manage your Twitter account by finding followers, managing your followers, and tracking what people are doing with Twitter. It’s essential for growing your Twitter following.

 

17) Do Share 

This is a plugin for the Chrome browser. It’s also arguably the best free tool for Google+ marketing. Because free traffic is so important to affiliates and because Google+ is Google’s product, it’s worth your time to have at least a presence on Google+. Do Share is especially valuable because it lets you schedule posts to Google+ pages and Google+ profiles.

 

Link tracking & creation

18) Bit.ly 

BitlyBit.ly is both extremely popular and extremely easy to use. It’s a link shortener, so it’s helpful anywhere you don’t want a URL that goes on for two miles. Bit.ly also lets  you track which links get clicked in a PDF or in a Kindle book. You can even bundle links together. There are also some basic analytics reports.

 

19) Google’s URL Builder 

This tool complements Google Analytics. It makes tracking your ads and social media posts far, far easier. Once you get the hang of it, it actually enables you to do simple split-testing with ad creative.

 

20) Linktrack 

As mentioned before, if you’re an affiliate, you’re basically a traffic broker. To be a good traffic broker, you need to track all the links you create. You also need an easy way to see which links are driving the most revenue. This is what Linktrack does, and it does it specifically for affiliates.

 

21) ClickMeter 

This is another free link tracking tool. It’s also made for affiliates. Whether you use this or Linktrack may end up as a matter of preference. It might be worth your time to try both these tools, then pick the one that works best for your business.

 

Free Images

22) Unsplash 

This is an awesome resource, but there’s a trick to finding images that haven’t been over-used. Find the magnifying glass icon to run a search query. Look for the buttons on the top right that say “All” and “Featured”. The default is “Featured”. You want “All”. It will show you way more photographs, and they’ll be the photographs least often used.

Unsplash

23) Death to the Stock Photo 

They’ll give you a free batch of photos when you sign up for their list. Then every month they’ll send another batch of free photos. Some months, they’ll send two.

 

24) Gratisography 

Another free image site to help you make your content more click-worthy.

 

Animated gifs

25) Gifmaker.me

Animated gifs are cool, easy to make, and attract a lot of attention. This free tool is the best of its kind in terms of features, ease of use and the final product.

 

Website optimization

26) QuickSprout’s Web Analyzer

Want a nutshell report about every metric that matters for your site? Want that report for your top three competitors as well? Also want a numeric score of how your site compares to theirs? That’s what this tool does.

 

27) CB Engine 

CBEngine

You know how big Clickbank is. That’s actually part of the problem with it. There’s so many products and so much information it can be hard to find the diamonds in the pile. This is what CB Engine does. This is a paid tool, but the 7-day free trial will get you started.

 

Know of any more free online tools an affiliate marketer could use? Tell us about them in the comments.

 

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20-point Checklist to Optimize Your Blog for Lead Generation http://blog.getresponse.com/20-point-checklist-optimize-blog-lead-generation.html http://blog.getresponse.com/20-point-checklist-optimize-blog-lead-generation.html#comments Wed, 04 Mar 2015 15:07:18 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19101 The number one goal of your business blog is to collect email addresses. Most people are surprised to hear this. They think their website exists to generate sales. It does, but it’s not the number one reason for it. This … Read more

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The number one goal of your business blog is to collect email addresses. Most people are surprised to hear this. They think their website exists to generate sales. It does, but it’s not the number one reason for it.

This is especially true if you are a service professional like a coach, consultant, trainer,  freelancer, or if you are a solopreneur selling physical goods such as jewellery, art, bespoke furniture, personalised stationary items, or hand crafted accessories.

The way Internet marketing works is that people seldom buy from you on the first encounter. They stumble across your blog after clicking on a link they found on social media, in a group, or on a recommendation by someone and now it’s your job to tell them what to do next.

They hardly know you. They’ll click around but remember they are not ready to buy yet. So what will you ask them to do? Subscribe to your email list, of course. This is in fact a golden opportunity. They are on your website or blog for a reason. They must have liked something about what you shared so they are already feeling some affinity towards you.

Ask them to get on your list. Turn them into a lead. In this post, I am going to tell you exactly how to do that.

 

#1 Define your ideal audience

Before you start hoping for tons of signups on any given day, make sure you are talking to the right person. Create an ideal client or customer profile, this will drive your content strategy, your branding and every other decision you take. In the absence of it, your blog elements will lack a coherence. Things will seem out of place and people will find one reason or the other to not sign up.

 

#2 Make a great first impression

Your goal is to make the best possible impression on your first time visitors. Install a professional theme, pay attention to your branding (message, colours, and typography). Make use of white space so things are not cluttered. Optimise for mobile and let people know you mean business.

 

#3 Show what’s in it for them

The biggest mistake you can make on your blog is to make it all about you. Don’t do it.

When someone lands on an unfamiliar site, they look for any information to see if they are in the right place. They wonder WIFM (what’s in it for me)? Tell people very clearly what they stand to gain once they subscribe. Tell them how you help them. This is the sure-fire way to get them to explore a bit more and sign up.

lead_gen

#4 State your unique selling proposition

Brownie points for you if you can differentiate yourself from your competitors within the first few seconds of them arriving on your site.

There are thousands of self-help blogs, what makes you different? There are hundreds of copywriting blogs, why should they subscribe to yours? Spell out how you are the right person to help them and they’d be more than happy to join your list.

 

#5 Make an appearance

People follow other people. As soon as someone clicks to your blog, they want to know who the blogger is. They want to know about you and see whether you click.

I highly recommend adding an author bio on the sidebar so no matter which page they arrive on, they can see your smiling face. Of course they can click on your about page, and they will, it’s a good idea to say a quick hello and welcome to help them feel right at home.

 

#6 Add a feature box at the top

Have you seen those sites where the first thing you see is the header and right underneath you see a sign up box (often a horizontal bar) asking you to – you guessed it – sign up? You cannot miss it. It’s there and there is a big call to action. Do the same on your site.

 

#7 Build credibility

Don’t know about you but when I land on a website or a blog for the first time and see a list of credibility logos (as seen on), instinctively I begin to take this person a bit more seriously. Surely if they have been featured in these places, guest posted or been interviewed, they must be an expert in their field.

You want to elicit the same reaction from people. Add photos and testimonials of your past customers. Add other credibility building elements and you will supercharge your list building efforts.

 

#8 Sprinkle social proof

Imagine going out for coffee in a newish part of town and seeing two cafes on a busy street. One café is bustling with people while the other is pretty empty. Where would you want to go?

Humans like to take the lead of other humans. When somebody comes to your site for the first time and they see comments, tweets, likes, and shares, they form a favourable impression of you. They feely assured that others are finding your content useful as well. This is the power of social proof so do take advantage of it.

 

#9 Offer a great incentive

In order to entice people to hand over their email address, you can offer an ethical bribe – that is your lead magnet. Depending on your audience’s needs, this can be an ebook, a report, a checklist or a cheat sheet, a white paper, video tutorial, or an e-course. The important thing to keep in mind though is to make it as specific as it can be.

Remember, your goal is to attract the right person from day 1. If you try to speak to everyone, you will end up speaking to no one.

 

#10 Create a squeeze page

While this is not compulsory, it pays to create a separate landing page for your opt-in offer. This is also known as a squeeze page.

Create a bold, benefit laden headline. Jot down some benefits of your offer and ask for people to sign up. This page really comes in handy when you are guest posting and you direct new peeps to this page instead of your home page. You can also promote this page on its own on various social media platforms.

content

#11 Limit your sign-up fields

There is no need to ask for unnecessary information. Most single person owned businesses need an email address, that’s all. I ask for a name as well but it’s entirely up to you.

Do you really need a phone number, their profession or size of their company, address, and marital status? The more information you request, the less inclined people feel to fill out your form.

 

#12 Add sign up box in strategic places

Most people are too shy to ask for the email. They hide their sign-up boxes somewhere on their site. Please don’t do that. Remember, your website exists for a reason, and the reason is to simply attract the right person, get them on your list so you can create a long term relationship with them.

Somebody who comes to your website and don’t subscribe – well, once they leave, they might never come back, even with the best intentions at heart. Make it easy for them, add a feature box under your header. Add a sign-up box after every blog post and on every landing page. Whatever people are reading, make sure there is an opportunity for them to sign up on the spot.

 

#13 De-clutter your sidebar

You don’t want to add any links to your sidebar that will take people off your website.

If you don’t have a huge traffic coming your way, there is no point displaying ads for other people’s products. Even if you do, move them further down. Don’t list your social media profiles at the top, or links to any external sites to unintentionally drive people away.

I recommend putting a sign up form on the top of your sidebar. You might think with a feature box under your header, or a hello bar, it might be too much. No, it won’t. You can certainly look into your analytics to see which one is performing the best, but keep them all.

 

#14 Showcase your best content

Ok, this is what I believe in, when people come to your website for the first time you want to impress their socks off. And the easiest way to do that is to bring attention to your best content.

Your blog works in such a manner that every time you publish a new piece of content, the older content is pushed down. And not everything you will create is going to be a masterpiece. For this reason, you want to list your best content somewhere that is easy to spot, usually this is your sidebar.

You can leave links to your best content and title it as reader favourites, top reads or anything like that. Remind people that they’ll be missing out on new stuff if they don’t sign up.

 

#15 Work on your about page

After your home page, your about page is one of the most frequently visited pages on your blog so pay attention to it.

Most people do a really bad job of writing on their about page. Some will write about themselves in the third person voice, some will be extremely corporate, some will make it sound like a resume. Some people start off with really long life stories. What you need to start with is how you can help this new visitor and why. Talk about what makes you qualified to do it. If you are on a journey then it’s fine to talk about it.

Once you have done it, now you can tell them some backstory. But keep it short. Your about page is all about connecting and creating rapport with your new audience. And don’t forget to add the sign-up box on this page.

 

#16 Add social media sharing buttons to your blog posts

Some people either don’t add any social media buttons after every post while some, on the other hand, add 30.

Research has proven that if you give people too many choices, they are likely to take no action. If you list every single media platform and ask people to share (do make a strong call to action), they might be too overwhelmed to do anything.

Which platform are you most active on? Ask them to share on that one. Give them a few options – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+, or LinkedIn are usually all you need.

 

#17 Use high quality images

Images matter. Imagine landing on a website filled with dull, corporate shots or stock photos. What would you think?

The blogger can’t be bothered to put in some effort and source some decent photos that don’t portray robots – that’s what you think. You question their competence, their level of commitment to their blog. You wonder if they can’t find images to represent their message, how good their work is going to be.

So you are not literally thinking these thoughts, rather your subconscious minds interprets it that way and you click away immediately. This is precisely what you (as a blogger) want to avoid. Capture their attention with interesting, high resolution images and they are more likely to stay.

blog

#18 Understand principles of persuasive writing

Every single word you put on your blog has the potential to touch the hearts of people or turn them off. Long, navel-gazing, rambling pieces simply won’t cut it. You need to stick to the point and convey it in a clear, compelling manner.

You don’t need to be a writer to create a decent blog post, nor should you train to become a copywriter. However, it pays to learn the principles of effective communication. Learn to write with clarity, conciseness and compassion. When you create a bond with your new readers through your words, you are paving the way for them to hand over their email addresses.

 

#19 Stand for something

According to Simon Sinek people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. In order to gain followers, stand for something. Articulate your bigger vision on your blog.

You are not just a health coach, you believe in sustaining our bodies without anything artificial or chemical. You are not just a trainer, you believe in lifelong learning. You are not an artist, you want people to turn their houses into sacred spaces. People will get behind you if your cause matters to them. Share where you are going.

 

#20 Be yourself

Lastly, I want you to stop looking at other blogs for “inspiration”. Be honest, how does it feel to look at someone’s blog with an email list of 20 thousand people? If it feels great then that’s fine but don’t let them dictate what you should be doing on your own blog.

Don’t start comparing yourself to them and blindly copying them. It is fine to be inspired but as soon as you start to self-sabotage, you need to cut the cord. The only way you are going to attract the right people and get them to sign up is when you are 100% authentic on your site. People will follow you because they like you and they want to be just like you. That’s the only way you are going to succeed at this.

 

There you have it

This is my go-to checklist for making sure a client’s blog is everything it needs to be to attract their ideal clients or customers. Anytime my own subscribers drop, I go and check to see if I can improve on any area. I might experiment with the lead magnet and try a different one.

I pay attention to see what sort of content is performing really well on social media. I’ll see where most of my new visitors are spending their time on. This often gives me clues on what I need to update next.

So tell me, how your blog is currently doing in terms of capturing email addresses. Do you spot an area where you need to work on straightaway and if so what is it? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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How to Build Your Brand with YouTube http://blog.getresponse.com/build-brand-youtube.html http://blog.getresponse.com/build-brand-youtube.html#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 15:07:26 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19094 Do you use YouTube as part of your social media strategy? If you’re not, then you really should. Video promotion is becoming ever more important in this digital age. It goes without saying that attaching an eye-catching image to your … Read more

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Do you use YouTube as part of your social media strategy? If you’re not, then you really should. Video promotion is becoming ever more important in this digital age. It goes without saying that attaching an eye-catching image to your blog post will immediately improve its chances of being read and shared on social media. But, increasingly, even these picture-perfect posts are being overlooked in favour of the even more passive information transmission – video. 

Even if you’re already utilizing the wonderful service that is YouTube, you may still be wondering what more you can be doing to try and increase your following, shares and engagement.

Let’s face it – there’s something intrinsically authoritative about a brand that makes its own videos. It seems to lend credence and validity in a way that blog posts and more traditional banner marketing just can’t. Especially since 86% of modern consumers suffer from ‘banner blindness’ which means that we have to find different ways to advertise. Somehow, video manages to imply a certain level of success. It shouldn’t do – anyone with a smartphone and a free editing app can make a perfectly acceptable video these days – but it nonetheless does.

 

Make Your Own Animations

It’s even possible now, if you sign up to the services of something like Moovly, to make your own animations. And these can do no end to deceiving the online world about your level of success – they must be doing well if they can afford to hire in an animation team to produce their promos, let’s go with these guys!!

But video – whether live filming or animation – actually does a lot more than this. It personalizes your brand in a way that the written word or still image simply can’t. If you cast yourself in your videos, then your audience will get a real sense of the human being behind the branding long before the video is over. They will hear your voice and notice the way you move and how you carry yourself. They will feel like they’ve already met you – and from a safe and non-intrusive distance, no less – and this simply adds a personal touch like no other medium on the internet.

 

Building Your Brand With YouTube

So, now that you’re convinced that building your brand with YouTube is a great idea, Let’s outline a few tips on how to go about it:

 

1. Make Great Videos

It’s the same for blogging as it is for Twitter as it is for Instagram as it is for Facebook as it is for YouTube – content is king. In fact, this is even truer when it comes to your videos. The only way that you will increase your following on the platform – and have your videos spread across other social media – is to produce content that’s worth sharing.

So what sort of content is this? Well, as you will no doubt know yourself, the most shareable video content is the stuff that is either outstandingly funny, or appeals to the emotions in some way – it can be controversial, but this doesn’t bring back positive results in the same way that a heart-warming story would. It’s no good standing in front of the camera with a plant pot and filing cabinet in the background and dirge out to the world in monotonous tones about what it is that makes your brand of stapler better than all the others out there. No one’s going to find that interesting or funny – and they won’t share it, which means that you won’t attract any more followers.

Instead, what you should try and do is illustrate just how great your stapler is over a series of videos – and make it entertaining. So, ask the question – ‘Will it Blend?’ style – ‘Will it staple?’.

This is the sort of thing that will almost inevitably gain traction in the digital world. However, it might not be quite the right style for your business. So, experiment a little. And just remember that the most shareable videos are either funny or interesting, and ideally both.

You may also want to invest in some advanced video equipment – such as lighting, a sounds system, an amplifier, or a higher spec camera than what you smartphone has. You will definitely need a decent microphone above all else if you have audio and it’s worthwhile investing in a camera or hiring a production company if you have the funds.

video_branding

2. Brand Your Profile Page

Whatever your branding, make sure that you use it to customize your YouTube page. The key is consistency. You want to make sure that you’re using the same colours, the same tone and the same style that you are across all of your other social media outlets and your website.

One thing that is really important to remember – you cannot change your channel name once you have set it up. So, at the content planning stage, you need to make sure that you choose the right name to attract the right sort of viewer.  Just as with all other social media, it’s also important to complete your profile in detail. So, on YouTube, this includes your name, your company’s name, uploading an avatar, and a link to your website.

You must also make sure that every time you make a video that you tag it correctly when it comes to uploading it onto YouTube. So, since you’re making staplers, then you will need to tag “staplers”, “stapling”, “will it staple?”, “your name” and “your company’s name” as this is how people will find your videos when searching.

 

3. Promote Your Videos

Finally, you will want to make every effort to promote your videos as much as you can. YouTube has streamlined the process of sharing videos on social media now, so it couldn’t be easier – you can even opt to auto-share on Facebook and Twitter if you want. You can also link your blog, which will mean that you can post your videos directly onto your blog from your YouTube channel.

Alternatively, you may prefer to embed your video into one of your written blog posts, or even create a video that will be a permanent feature of your homepage. This is all perfectly possible by using the embed code that will come with your video when it’s posted.

The final piece of advice is to link to your YouTube channel anywhere and everywhere you can. This includes on your website, your blog, your Twitter, your LinkedIn, your Facebook, your Google+ and anywhere else you can think of. The purpose of this is that the more links that you have pointing towards your video, the higher it will be ranked in searches on Google.

YouTube is one of the most popular sites in the world, and video is one of the very best media to get yourself noticed on social media. Building your brand with YouTube has never been more important, and should be at the core of your ongoing digital content strategies. Share with us in the comments below how you use YouTube! 

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Top 10 Books on Persuasion Every Solopreneur Should Read http://blog.getresponse.com/top-10-books-persuasion-every-solopreneur-read.html http://blog.getresponse.com/top-10-books-persuasion-every-solopreneur-read.html#comments Fri, 27 Feb 2015 15:17:38 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19085 When it comes to influencing others and making a bigger impact, most people are truly sceptical. They don’t think they have it in themselves to persuade others. They are also in awe of others who seem to be naturally persuasive. … Read more

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When it comes to influencing others and making a bigger impact, most people are truly sceptical. They don’t think they have it in themselves to persuade others. They are also in awe of others who seem to be naturally persuasive. Well, I won’t argue that some people are born persuasive, but it is also possible to learn the art and science of influence. You, too can become a master of getting people to sit up and take notice of you and your ideas. All you need is a nudge in the right direction.

And this is precisely why I have complied by list of all-time favourite books that do just that.

Let’s dive in!

 

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

If you want to (and who doesn’t, really?) get people to take a specific action, then you need to grab their attention first.

“The first problem of communication is getting people’s attention.” Heath brothers say. Not only that you must “Work to make the core message itself more interesting.”

So what how do we do that?

“To make our communications more effective, we need to shift our thinking from “What information do I need to convey?” to “What questions do I want my audience to ask?”

And sprinkle some emotion:

“People tend to overuse any idea or concept that delivers an emotional kick.”

Definitely a must-read. Get your hands on it ASAP.

 

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

This one is another winner. The book is full of nuggets of wisdom like this:

“If you don’t toot your own horn, don’t complain that there’s no music.”

And

“While we’re living, we need to get over ourselves and accept others if we want to enchant people.”

Kawasaki gives you actionable advice:

“We were so enchanted by our own product that we could not understand why everyone else did not feel the same way. That’s when I learned that one must understand what people are thinking, feeling, and believing in order to enchant them.”

A lot of inspiration.

“Want to change the world? Upset the status quo? This takes more than run-of-the-mill relationships. You need to make people dream the same dream that you do.”

Finally a favourite quote of mine from the book goes like this:

“Knowledge is great. Competence is great. But the combination of both encourages people to trust you and increases your powers of enchantment. And in this world, the combination is a breath of fresh air.”

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#3 Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

If you want to truly understand why people behave the way they do, they can’t go past this book. In fact, this book should be made compulsory reading for anyone wanting to strike out on their own. Cialdini explains: “A well-known principle of human behaviour says that when we ask someone to do us a favour we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.”

And

“Often we don’t realize that our attitude toward something has been influenced by the number of times we have been exposed to it in the past.”

He explains why it is important to come across like someone who is just like your customer, and have them believe in your cause.

“All things being equal, you root for your own sex, your own culture, your own locality…and what you want to prove is that you are better than the other person. Whomever you root for represents you; and when he wins, you win.”

Can’t recommend it highly enough.

persuasion

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

This book is extremely fascinating. And it better be because this is what it aims to teach you – how to become fascinating.  Hogshead says that people are all born fascinating “But over time, people can lose their innate ability to fascinate. They acquire layers of boring.”

And the way to do that is to stop trying to be someone everybody likes.

“When you stop trying to be all things to all people, you can stop worrying about being liked and start building relationships that allow you to be loved. If you are not creating a negative response from somebody, you’re probably not very fascinating to anybody.”

It is fine to be yourself – it is fine to be different.

“Different is better than better. Different doesn’t try to turn you into something else. Different allows you to highlight the singular traits you already have within you. You aren’t necessarily better than your competition. But you are already different.”

And

“Your personality is your natural weapon against distraction, competition, and commoditization. The more value you add, the less you have to compete on price, and the less likely you are to become a commodity.”

Don’t forget to pick this one up or you’ll regret it for sure.

 

#5 Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions by Dan Ariely

Ariely is a master storyteller. And he explains why we make particular decisions.

“We usually think of ourselves as sitting the driver’s seat, with ultimate control over the decisions we made and the direction our life takes; but, alas, this perception has more to do with our desires-with how we want to view ourselves-than with reality”

He goes on to argue that we don’t always think before we arrive at a conclusion.

“Standard economics assumes that we are rational… But, as the results presented in this book (and others) show, we are far less rational in our decision making… Our irrational behaviours are neither random nor senseless- they are systematic and predictable. We all make the same types of mistakes over and over, because of the basic wiring of our brains.”

His take on immediate gratification?

“Giving up on our long-term goals for immediate gratification, my friends, is procrastination.”

And lastly he says, “There are many examples to show that people will work more for a cause than for cash.” So keep this in mind next time you are creating a promotional campaign.

Another gem of a book.

 

#6 To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others by Daniel H. Pink

Most people have a very negative view of selling. They use words like slimy, sleazy and spammy to describe the selling process. Pink disagrees. “To sell well is to convince someone else to part with resources—not to deprive that person, but to leave him better off in the end.”

“In the new world of sales, being able to ask the right questions is more valuable than producing the right answers. Unfortunately, our schools often have the opposite emphasis. They teach us how to answer, but not how to ask.” He says.

He says to always ask two questions at every opportunity to move someone. “If the person you’re selling to agrees to buy, will his or her life improve? When your interaction is over, will the world be a better place than when you began? If the answer to either of these questions is no, you’re doing something wrong.”

And those of you who are against pitching, these words are sure to calm you.

“The purpose of a pitch isn’t necessarily to move others immediately to adopt your idea. The purpose is to offer something so compelling that it begins a conversation, brings the other person in as a participant, and eventually arrives at an outcome that appeals to both of you.”

 

#7 Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

This is such a fun book that you are doing yourself a great disservice by not reading it. Sit back and enjoy the book and be prepared to make note of tons of a-ha moments. Following are few of the quotes I jotted in my diary:

“People don’t think in terms of information. They think in terms of narratives. But while people focus on the story itself, information comes along for the ride.”

“Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.”

“Marketing is about spreading the love.”

“Contagious content is like that—so inherently viral that it spreads regardless of who is doing the talking.”

“How does it make people look to talk about a product or idea? Most people would rather look smart than dumb, rich than poor, and cool than geeky. Just like the clothes we wear and the cars we drive, what we talk about influences how others see us. It’s social currency. Knowing about cool things—like a blender that can tear through an iPhone—makes people seem sharp and in the know. So to get people talking we need to craft messages that help them achieve these desired impressions.”

Go ahead and get yourself a copy. Thank me later.

inspiration

#8 How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

So this one is a true classic and not a quick read it all. However, the lessons you gain totally make it worth reading.

“Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.”

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.”

“When dealing with people, remember you are not dealing with creatures of logic, but with creatures bristling with prejudice and motivated by pride and vanity.”

“When we hate our enemies, we are giving them power over us: power over our sleep, our appetites, our blood pressure, our health, and our happiness.

“If you are not in the process of becoming the person you want to be, you are automatically engaged in becoming the person you don’t want to be.”

And how about attracting your ideal customer or client. What better advice than this:

“Personally I am very fond of strawberries and cream, but I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream. Rather, I dangled a worm or grasshopper in front of the fish and said: “Wouldn’t you like to have that?”
Why not use the same common sense when fishing for people?”

Priceless!

 

#9 The Art of Choosing by Sheena Iyengar

A great read explaining how people make choices so you can better make better ones and also get a deeper understanding into your customer’s mind. It sheds light on what shapes your life choices and the journey you are on.

“What you see determines how you interpret the world, which in turn influences what you expect of the world and how you expect the story of your life to unfold.”

“Your choices of which clothes to wear or which soda to drink, where you live, which school to attend and what to study, and of course your profession all say something about you, and it’s your job to make sure that they are an accurate reflection of who you really are.”

It shows you why you need to offer fewer options to potential clients and customers.

“When people are given a moderate number of options (4 to 6) rather than a large number (20 to 30), they are more likely to make a choice, are more confident in their decisions, and are happier with what they choose.”

And

“Your enjoyment of the chosen options will be diminished by your regret over what you had to give up. In fact, the sum total of the regret over all the “lost” options may end up being greater than your joy over your chosen options, leaving you less satisfied than you would have been if you had had less choice to begin with.”

Don’t skip this one.

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#10 The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwatrz

The last book on this list is an oldie but a goodie. The following quotes will have you inspired and ready to jump into action now – trust me.

“Focus on what makes you happy, and do what gives meaning to your life” 

“Learning to choose is hard. Learning to choose well is harder. And learning to choose well in a world of unlimited possibilities is harder still, perhaps too hard.” 

“The alternative to maximizing is to be a satisficer. To satisfice is to settle for something that is good enough and not worry about the possibility that there might be something better.” 

And I left the best for last.

“When asked about what they regret most in the last six months, people tend to identify actions that didn’t meet expectations. But when asked about what they regret most when they look back on their lives as a whole, people tend to identify failures to act.” 

There you have it. These are my top ten favourites. What would you add to this list? Share with us in the comments below!

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New Research in the Epic Battle Between Double and Single Opt-in http://blog.getresponse.com/new-research-epic-battle-double-single-opt.html http://blog.getresponse.com/new-research-epic-battle-double-single-opt.html#comments Thu, 26 Feb 2015 15:17:05 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19070 “To confirm or not to confirm, that is the question.” from Shakespeare’s lost manuscript, The Opt-in Dilemma* Email marketers are generally agreeable people. But there is one issue that divides us: Double versus single opt-in. Some of us think double … Read more

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“To confirm or not to confirm, that is the question.” from Shakespeare’s lost manuscript, The Opt-in Dilemma*

Email marketers are generally agreeable people. But there is one issue that divides us: Double versus single opt-in. Some of us think double opt-in is unnecessary. Others think single opt-in creates a less responsive list. While I can’t resolve the dispute in one post, I do have some new information to help you make the decision for yourself.

For you newbies, the difference between double and single opt-in is about sending or not sending a confirmation email after someone signs up for your list. With single opt-in, all someone has to do is to fill out your opt-in form and click “submit”. After that, they’re subscribed.

With double opt-in, the user will fill out your opt-in form and click “submit”. Then they have to check their email, find the confirmation email you sent and click a link in that email. They are not subscribed until they have clicked the link.

 

The hazards of adding an extra step

Every time you add an extra step to any process, your conversion rate goes down. It doesn’t matter whether it’s someone opting into your list or someone placing an order. Every extra step you make them go through reduces how many people finish the process. Want to get as many people as possible through your conversion process? Then remove all the obstacles you can. Make each remaining step as simple, frictionless and fast as possible.

If you look at the double versus single opt-in question through only this perspective – that adding any extra step hurts conversions – then single opt-in wins. Double opt-in, with its extra step, will cost you new subscribers.

How many subscribers? It depends on several things, which we’ll address in a moment. But marketers generally see about 20-30% faster list growth when they use single opt-in.

20-30% is a big chunk of a list. That’s basically the average rate of list churn for a list over the course of a year. To lose 20-30% of your list growth, you’d better be seeing some upside on the back end.

 

The long-term benefits of double opt-in

Double opt-in lists have been shown to get up to double the clicks and double the opens of single opt-in lists. They also get half the hard bounces and half the unsubscribes of single opt-in. Double opt-in lists keep you from adding a spam trap to your list. They tend to reduce spam complaints, too, though they won’t eliminate them. All these reasons are why double opt-in is the default setting in your GetResponse account. It’s why GetResponse recommends double opt-in.

Basically, double opt-in creates a higher quality list long term, though it will indeed slow your list growth compared to using single opt-in. Ultimately, the whole double versus single opt-in debate comes down to quality versus quantity. Do you want a larger list, or a more responsive list?

There are other, smaller downsides to single opt-in, too. Some of the names added to your list may be fake, or may have typos. It gets complicated. So let’s give you a comparison of the pros and cons of each option. Let’s walk through how the same list might perform if it was single opt-in or double opt-in.

 

subscriber_count

 

clicks

I hope that illustrates why double opt-in is the better choice long term. But I know that some of you single opt-in proponents are not going to be sold on those calculations. That’s fine, and fair. We welcome your comments and are expecting some dispute.

 

Two marketers who support using single opt-in

Maybe I seem partial to double opt-in. To try to be fair (or fairer) to both sides of the argument, here are two perspectives from two very smart marketers who prefer single opt-in.

Robert Tyson has tested double vs. single opt-in over several months with thousands of subscribers. 23.6% of his double opt-in subscribers never confirmed. This is on target with what other marketers have reported; it’s a common drop-off. He writes,My open/clickthrough rates from single opt-in subscribers are NOT worse. In fact if anything they’re BETTER!” Unfortunately, he does not give specific figures, but it shows that while best practices are helpful, there’s nothing as good as testing for yourself.

Jeanne Jennings has her own blog and also writes for Clickz. She believes double and single opt-in both have their place, but she leans more toward single opt-in. Jennings believes double opt-in is really only necessary if

  • “You’ve experienced deliverability issues in the past
  • You are potentially a target for malicious intent
  • You don’t feel you can adequately police the single opt-in requirement internally”

 

Desperately seeking research

There are many other marketers who support single opt-in, but when they write about it, they share anecdotal evidence, or refer to their own lists. It’s surprising, but despite all the email marketing research studies we have, almost none track double opt-in versus single opt-in use. The most recent research I found was from MarketingSherpa in September 2012, showing that 39% of marketers were using double opt-in, which Sherpa referred to as an “opt-in only subscriber list”.

Because there was so little information about what real marketers were doing now with double and single opt-in, I decided to do my own research. So I put together a list of 50 well-known marketers from affiliate marketing, email marketing, content marketing, and social media marketing. I signed up for their email lists, taking very careful notes about their signup processes. Here’s what I found: about 2/3 of these marketers – 64% to be exact – use double opt-in.

Here’s who made my list (in alphabetical order), and which opt-in process they use:

opt-in

 

Now, is this a definitive list of the top 50 Internet marketers? Absolutely not. But it does include many of the influencers and experts in the industry. If you think I’ve left someone off, please let me know in the comments.

The real purpose of this list is not to compile a who’s who of Internet marketing. It’s to show which opt-in process some of the major marketers are using. At first I thought about asking them which opt-in process they used, but I think showing what they’re actually using may be more meaningful.

Of course, even with this survey, the dispute over double versus single opt-in is hardly over. Maybe not all of these marketers have actually tested double versus single opt-in. Either way, what you do with your list is your call. I do hope this information helps you make the right decision for your list and your business.

 

So much for statistics – why all these double and single opt-in comparisons are suspect

There’s another layer of complexity to all this. It’s in how the rest of the opt-in process is handled. For example, whether or not you send a welcome email can affect your long-term open and click-through rates. So while a double opt-in list will generally get better open and click-through rates, if the double opt-in list skips the welcome email, and a similar single opt-in list uses a strong welcome email, the net results from the two lists will be blurred.

Another factor that can skew your opt-in rates is if you add a name field or other information to your opt-in form. Many of the marketers I surveyed used opt-in forms that included a name field. Just as adding a confirmation email will reduce your opt-in rate, so will asking for more information in the opt-in form. You might be able to switch from single to double opt-in and give up, say, asking for people’s first names, and see no drop in new subscribers at all.

 

Customized opt-in processes make a difference

Up for another example of how murky these comparisons can be? Consider how the double opt-in process is handled. If someone sets up a double opt-in process and uses the default confirmation page (usually a boring, nearly blank page), they will get fewer people to complete their opt-in process than if they used a customized confirmation page. Their customized confirmation pages will work even better if they have crystal clear instructions on how to finish the opt-in process.

This is something that really popped while I was signing up for all those lists. Almost all the marketers who use double opt-in have customized the page you see after you click the “subscribe” button on the opt-in form. Most of them use screen shots of what their confirmation email will look like in the inbox. Some of them use videos.

If you’re getting terrible confirmation rates – like only half of the people who first opt into your list are confirming – consider optimizing your opt-in process. You’re probably always going to see about 20-30% of people not finish the opt-in process, but any more than that is unusual.

 

Good news: Customizing your opt-in process is easy

There are two places in a double opt-in process that you want to customize:

  1. The page people see after they’ve clicked the subscribe button on your opt-in form
  2. The page people see after they’ve clicked the link in your confirmation email

Here’s how to customize the page people see after they’ve clicked the subscribe button on your opt-in form:

  • From the Dashboard, go to the “Web Forms” tab near the top of the page.
  • In the web forms list, find the opt-in form people will be using for this opt-in process.
  • Click the “edit” link for that form, as shown here:

 

CustomizeDoubleOptin3

  • In the second tab, labeled “Settings”, change the radio button selection from “Default Thank-you page” to “Custom Thank-you page” (right below). Then paste in the URL of the custom thank you page from your site.

 

CustomizeDoubleOptin4

  • Click the grey “Save Web Form” at the bottom of the screen.

 

 

How to customize the page people see after they’ve clicked the link in your confirmation page

  • Find the “Your current campaign” pull-down menu in the upper right-hand corner of your account screen.

CustomizeDoubleOptin1-1

  • Make sure the campaign you want to set the final confirmation page for is selected.
  • Click the gear symbol just to the right of the pull-down menu. You’ll be brought to the campaign settings pages.

CustomizeDoubleOptin1

  • Click the “Permission” tab on the left side of the page.

 

CustomizeDoubleOptin2

  • Near the bottom of the page, where it says “Confirmation page”, change the radio button selection from “Hosted by GetResponse” to “Custom URL”. Then paste in the complete URL (including http://) of the page you want people to see after they’ve clicked the link in your confirmation email.
  • Extra credit: Customize your confirmation message. The settings for this are right above the “confirmation page” section. You can specify which from email address you want to use, and write your own custom subject line for the confirmation message.

 

CustomizeDoubleOptin2-2

  • Click the blue “Ok” button just to the right to save your settings.

What about you?

Which opt-in process do you use? Do you have strong feelings pro or con about single opt-in or double opt-in lists? We want to hear about it. Give us your feedback in the comments.

* No, Shakespeare did not write that.

New Research in the Epic Battle Between Double and Single Opt-in is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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20 Action Items for a Successful Email Marketing Campaign http://blog.getresponse.com/20-action-items-successful-email-marketing-campaign.html http://blog.getresponse.com/20-action-items-successful-email-marketing-campaign.html#comments Wed, 25 Feb 2015 15:17:40 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19060 Email marketing is an effective way to engage your contacts and promote your business. You can send offers to people who have subscribed to your email list in real-time. Emails involve no expensive overheads, saving both paper and postage. Better … Read more

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Email marketing is an effective way to engage your contacts and promote your business. You can send offers to people who have subscribed to your email list in real-time. Emails involve no expensive overheads, saving both paper and postage. Better yet, you can monitor whether or not the recipients of your email actually open, read, and act on it. Email continues to be an important marketing channel for many businesses.

 

Email Marketing Challenges

Over the past few years, email marketing has faced many obstacles. Most people receive hundreds of emails each day. You want yours to stand out in the crowd. The sheer volume of email makes it harder to convince people to open your emails and act on them. In addition, there are also anti-spam laws that you need to pay attention to. The popularity of social media also impacts your email strategy.

Despite these challenges, email is still the most reliable marketing channel when used correctly. Creating a successful email marketing campaign requires you to carefully manage a wide variety of elements. The following email marketing checklist can help guide you through the process.

 

Email Marketing Campaign Checklist

  1. Construct a focused message – The text should be clear and crisp. Eliminate any distracting and unnecessary text. Most people reading emails skim through the text. You want to make sure that your readers will quickly pick up on your message.
  2. Pay attention to the details of the text - It must be easy to read without a lot of technical jargon that could confuse the reader and distract from your message. All the information should be accurate and easy to understand.
  3. Be sure to proofread your email for grammar and spelling - It is just unprofessional to be sloppy in this area.
  4. The message should direct the reader to take a clear action based on the content – This is done by focusing on the benefits that acting now will bring to the reader. A powerful call-to-action will prompt your readers to take the next step. The success of your campaign is based on how many people take the next step. You have to clearly identify what this step is in order to ensure success.
  5. Create a strong landing page – If the message of the email is strong, the landing page must be even stronger. The landing pages closes the deal. There is no point in sending a strong email if it brings your readers to a wishy-washy landing page.
  6. Use an attractive design and layout for your email – Images will help, but be sure they are not necessary to understand the message because many people cannot receive emails with embedded images.
  7. Your brand should be easy to recognize – Place your logo prominently in the email. Make sure the design of the email matches the design of other marketing resources you have deployed. You want to make it clear to the reader who is sending them the message.
  8. A stunning subject line is necessary – It should scream, “Open me, Now!” You want the receiver to open and read your email. A solid subject is the way to make sure that this happens.
  9. Make sure the “from” field is clear – It should be clear that the email is from your business. People are not going to open your email if they do not know who it is from.
  10. Include multiple ways for your reader to view the email – A link to the email on your website will make sure your reader can view the email even if their email software cannot. A text only version of the email also helps in this regard.
  11. Enable social sharing for your email – If your message is powerful, then your readers may share it on their social media accounts. This expands the audience for your message to the friends of people on your list.
  12. Comply with all laws regarding bulk emails – Make sure you include your contact address and a way to unsubscribe from your list. You could face prosecution if you get this part wrong.
  13. Use your email list effectively by setting up relevant subsets of subscribers – The more you can target your email at the needs of a specific subset of your list, the more people will respond to your message.
  14. Clean up your email list before sending – Add new subscribers, and remove people who unsubscribe. You want to make sure that you send your email to the most up-to-date list that you have.
  15. Test every aspect of the email – You want to make sure it will render well in various browsers and email tools. You do not what tools people will use to receive your email. You want to make sure that your email can be read on most email tools.
  16. Make sure all the links and buttons in the email work – Check any processes for ordering or subscribing that require people to act on your offer. You want to make sure everything is fully functional before you hit Send.
  17. Optimize your email for mobile devices – Many people are getting their emails on their smartphones so be sure that your email and landing pages function well on mobile devices.
  18. Include a clear “reply to” field so that people can respond to your email – Be sure to reply to any messages you receive. You want to capitalize on any opportunity to engage your audience.
  19. Monitor and measure subscriber behavior – You will want to know how many people open your email. You also want to know how many of those click through to the landing page. Finally, you can keep track of how many take the action that you request. This information will help to know whether your campaign was a success.
  20. Make note of what works well for future email campaigns – You don’t want to start every email campaign from scratch. You want to learn and improve as you go.

email_marketing

Communicate away

Simple checklists like this can make a huge difference to the way your business communicates with its audience. So before you start working on your next campaign, make sure you prepare a master checklist incorporating the points in this article along with action items you have identified that is unique to your business. Using a professional and robust email marketing software like GetResponse will only complement all the hard work you’ve put into your project. If you haven’t signed up for an email marketing software yet, give GetResponse a risk-free try.

And before I sign off, I’d love to hear your silly first-time blunders with email marketing, share with us in the comments below! I’m sure we’ve all had our share of them. After all, it is these experiences that make us better email marketers.

 

brokeblokeAbout the author: Broke Bloke is an Entrepreneur, Digital Marketing Consultant & professional blogger. After being laid off his job of 10 years, he started Broke Bloke Blogs offering marketing advice for bloggers, marketers and small businesses.

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Customer Success Story: Mark Anastasi Hits New York Time Bestseller List http://blog.getresponse.com/case-study-mark-anastasi-hits-new-york-time-bestseller-list.html http://blog.getresponse.com/case-study-mark-anastasi-hits-new-york-time-bestseller-list.html#comments Tue, 24 Feb 2015 14:13:02 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19046 Anyone who writes a book has a dream — seeing their name on the prestigious NYT bestseller list in the coveted #1 spot. Accomplishing such a goal is the result of a lot of hard work. But is it the … Read more

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Anyone who writes a book has a dream — seeing their name on the prestigious NYT bestseller list in the coveted #1 spot. Accomplishing such a goal is the result of a lot of hard work. But is it the beginning of a period of new impact, influence, and business success? Let’s take a look at Mark Anastasi’s success story and find out.

In 2004, Mark started his business with a clear, inspiring mission:

“We elevate the quality of life and financial wellbeing of our clients.”

His timing was perfect. All around the world, job security was eroding. Economic shifts were leaving long-term employees without income. People in all walks of life needed solid advice on achieving prosperity and security for themselves and their families.

 

Information-based business model

Mark began writing e-books on financial subjects and selling them on Clickbank. They were well-received, and Mark began to accumulate a list of followers who loved his content and wanted more from him. As he began offering seminars, he discovered that his followers enjoyed opportunities to receive his inspiring message face to face.

“When I launched my seminar company in the U.K. in 2005, we needed a robust system for managing our email list and seminar attendees lists …” —Mark Anastasi

 

Struggling with list management

At first, it was easy enough to keep track of fans and seminar participants. He used ACT! to capture contact information and used ListMailPRO to stay in touch. It worked, and his seminar business grew steadily. But as his list grew, he discovered that these solutions were too slow and labor-intensive.

Before long, Mark’s list grew to 6,000 subscribers – not a massive number by today’s standards. But it was a high-quality list containing ideal prospects, so the list had the potential for generating huge profits. In order to do so, Mark would need tools for handling the job efficiently and professionally.

 

Analyzing resources

Mark realized he needed an email marketing system. He had heard of AWeber, and one of his mentors recommended GetResponse, so he decided to check out both. He found that GetResponse had all the features he needed and that they were easy to use. And when he needed a bit of help, GetResponse customer service was there for him.

“Over the years I’ve dealt with GetResponse’s customer support department a handful of times, and I’ve always marveled at their excellence. First class! I find that their agents try to get the best result for the customer instead of only focusing on the company’s earnings objectives (they put the customer first).” —Mark Anastasi

Mark had discovered a market that was perfect for him — those who are interested in personal development. And he had developed a great offer — a dynamic seminar that helped participants solve pressing problems. This powerful combination turned out to be a winning business model.

And in GetResponse, he found a low-cost, efficient way to manage his marketing and generate sales. In 2006, just two years after starting his business, Mark generated over $1.8 million in revenues, simply by promoting his seminars to his email marketing list.

“The power of being able to click ‘Send’ and communicate with 50,000 people at will … is truly spectacular leverage.” — Mark Anastasi

 

Transforming the business

When Mark published his book Laptop Millionaire in 2012, it landed on the New York Time Bestseller List. This increased his credibility and gave him huge exposure and publicity. GetResponse enabled him to take advantage of the increased exposure. His website was already set up to capture the influx of new subscribers. And list management tools enabled him to deliver a high-quality introduction and orientation to each new subscriber.

Mark’s company now generates over $1 million per year in sales. And yet he spends only 2% of revenues (less than $20,000 per year) on marketing — a performance record of remarkable efficiency.

Even better, his bestselling book, live seminars and email marketing spread his message to thousands worldwide, providing his fans with information and actionable financial knowledge to help them survive and thrive.

Mark Anastasi on cover of Magazine

Your business results

Do you have a great business idea? Have you identified a great market where it could take hold and spread? If so, you too can master the simple yet powerful techniques Mark put to work in his business —  list-building, consistent communication, targeted content, and automatic follow-up.

To get started, grab a GetResponse 30-Day Free Trial. It’s so easy that it makes marketing fun. And if you need a little help, we’re here always just a click away.

 

Customer Success Story: Mark Anastasi Hits New York Time Bestseller List is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Devising A Content Strategy For Your Blog http://blog.getresponse.com/devising-content-strategy-blog.html http://blog.getresponse.com/devising-content-strategy-blog.html#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 15:17:59 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19038 Last year 56% of marketers were embarking upon content marketing without a plan. As any blogger who has floundered down this path will tell you – this way madness lies. Creating decent content for your blog is not an easy … Read more

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Last year 56% of marketers were embarking upon content marketing without a plan. As any blogger who has floundered down this path will tell you – this way madness lies. Creating decent content for your blog is not an easy thing.

You know as well as I do that it can sometimes take up hours of your time as you carefully piece together something that you are sure is absolutely brilliant, only to find that once published it actually attracts very little engagement, shares, likes, traffic, and/or leads. This can indeed be rather discouraging, and can often make you wonder if there’s much use in what you’re trying so hard to do at all.

Blogs need to do and be a lot of things. They need to be current, they need to contain actionable information, they need to be inspiring, relevant to your industry, unique, original, fact-filled, shareable, and lots more besides. It really is quite a tough game to keep winning at – and you make the task a whole lot more difficult for yourself if you don’t dedicate a little time each week and each month exercising a little forethought and planning.

 

What Is A Content Strategy?

Good question. Importantly, a content strategy is distinct from a social media strategy, though the two of course are dependant upon one another. Your social media strategy is about the practicalities, the nuts and bolts of getting your content out there. It concerns your scheduling, your methods for increasing your following, your customer engagement, your promotions.

Your content strategy, however, is about just that and nothing else – i.e. your content.

Let’s put social media completely aside for the moment. You will of course use it in order to promote your blogs once they’re written, but for now we are just going to focus on how you come up with a content plan for the weeks that follow.

Essentially, developing an effective content strategy can be boiled down to 3 important elements, and they all require a little research:

  1. You need to know unequivocally exactly what topics your audience and customers like to talk about, and from there you need to find a way to create blogs that will further ignite those conversations and be ready to join in with them.
  2. Once you’ve got your topics, you now need to come up with a list of enticing and very clickable titles from which your blogs will be inspired, and then you will create an editorial calendar and stick to it.
  3. Finally you need to measure your results, and use these to create even more insightful content strategies going forward.

Ok, so let’s take a look at each of these 3 points in a little more detail.

content

1. Know Your Audience

‘Content is king’ is now an old adage. So too is the one that goes: ‘Create content for readers, not for search engines.’ Both of these essentially amount to the same thing – know your audience and create for them – and the best content strategists know this better than most.

These are the people who actually pay real attention to exactly who the people are that make up their audience. And perhaps that word itself – ‘audience’ – is what creates so much abstraction for a lot of marketers. Just as your brand might be a somewhat faceless entity to a marketer’s audience, so too is the audience itself to the marketer.

But the trick is to really get to know them. Study their conversations on social media, find out what other brands aside from yours they follow, make notes, and begin to create for yourself a real picture of exactly what it is that sets them off. If you’re a blogger then you’re a writer, and writers know that it’s much easier to write for a small group of real people, rather than it is for a large, disparate and abstract thing that we call an ‘audience’.

Matthew Woodward managed to create a blog that entered into the top 100 business blogs in less than a year. And he did it because to he took the time to figure out exactly what his audience wanted.

“I saw the same common problems coming up over and over. With my notes in hand I created possible tutorial titles and then bullet pointed the areas each tutorial should include. So I knew what my audience wanted and how I could help them. No PPC, no link building, no SEO, no media buys, no spending money – just good old-fashioned human interaction.”

This is truly sage advice. What Woodward essentially was able to do was create something of true value for his audience. He got to know them, found out what they were lacking, and filled that gap. As a result, his blog went viral – an excellent example of content strategy by an excellent content strategist.

 

2. Fill Your Editorial Calendar with Great Titles

Coming up with titles can actually be one of the trickiest parts of content creation. And, if you’re doing it off the cuff with no real direction or focus, then it can cause you a lot of stress indeed.

As many bloggers will tell you, once you’ve got a title, the actual writing of the blog becomes a lot easier. The title gives you focus. It presents to you a hypothesis or a question that you will then explore and answer.

So, what if you managed to create for yourself a whole series of titles that in turn lead you to answer a lot of questions in a lot of depth? Now, wouldn’t that not only be something really valuable for your readers, but also something very exciting to explore and answer yourself in the process of the creation? You now know exactly what sort of information your audience lacks, so now you must go about creating a plan for providing that information in the days, weeks and months that follow.

What’s so great about this approach is that you can start to build a real buzz around your future posts way before you even write let alone publish them. What you are doing is making promises to your audience – that you are here for them, that you are working behind the scenes and researching to provide for them the answers to the problems that they are facing on a daily basis. If you are tapping into the right things, then you will literally be able to watch the excitement grow and grow as your audience anticipates your next blog. And the next one. And the next, and the next…

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3. Measure Your Results And Take Action Accordingly

A great content strategy can take a bit of trial and error to refine. This is ok. In fact, unless you get really lucky at the outset, it’s almost an inevitable part of the process. But, you can shorten the time it takes for you to hit onto that all-important winner by paying close attention to your analytics.

You will want to be measuring exactly which of your topics gains the most traction in terms of engagement with your following – and that includes comments, social shares and likes. It might take a few months to get a really clear picture of what works best and what doesn’t, but it will be worth the wait, for the intelligence that you will glean will be invaluable to your future content strategies.

Indeed, measuring your results is an extremely important endeavour for all effective content marketing, and so often it is mostly ignored. It’s not good enough to simply take a glance every once in a while at the graphs and give yourself a little pat on the back each time you see a spike. You need to get into the meaning of the data – what was so good about that particular blog that created so much commotion, or, perhaps even more importantly, why didn’t your other blogs garner so much attention? Figure this out, and write fewer blogs that nobody cares about, and more and more and more and more of the ones that they do.

Got any more content strategy tips that you’d like to share? Please do so in the comments below. 

Devising A Content Strategy For Your Blog is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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How to Make Your Internal Email Newsletter a Winner http://blog.getresponse.com/make-internal-email-newsletter-winner.html http://blog.getresponse.com/make-internal-email-newsletter-winner.html#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 15:17:42 +0000 http://blog.getresponse.com/?p=19029 Although they are “just” for your own employees, internal email newsletters shouldn’t be taken for granted. They serve an important role in companies or organizations so they should be thoughtfully crafted. They can be effective communication tools as such, it’s … Read more

How to Make Your Internal Email Newsletter a Winner is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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Although they are “just” for your own employees, internal email newsletters shouldn’t be taken for granted. They serve an important role in companies or organizations so they should be thoughtfully crafted. They can be effective communication tools as such, it’s important to learn how to best do internal email newsletters.

 

Objectives of Internal Email Newsletters

Before going into the discussion on how to come up with excellent internal email newsletters, it’s important to know what the objectives of these newsletters are and what elements define them.

Why do we want to send internal newsletters? The following are the main reasons why they are used in companies or organizations in general:

  • To inform. Email newsletters circulated within a company are used to distribute information intended for effected employees in the company. With information that is relevant and useful for targeted departments and employees – even regardless of hierarchical rankings.
  • To break down silos. Aside from distributing relevant information for everyone in a company, email newsletters can also be used as tools to encourage camaraderie among employees, who normally don’t have a strong everyday belonging feeling as they might be separated by cubicles, team designations, or departmental assignments.
  • Provide framing and an external narrative. All employees also have their own families, friends, and social circles. So explaining why companies do things and giving them an easy way to be proud and spread the word, can be a very strong catalyst for word-of-mouth.
  • To reduce email overload. Instead of sending multiple notices, announcements, or acknowledgments to various departments and employee groups, a company can make use of internal email newsletters as a more efficient distribution of information.
  • To supplement other forms of communications. Email newsletters can be used to present company information as reference for various purposes. For instance, they can be used to announce or acknowledge the achievements of a specific team or department in addition to the departmental commendation, intranet, and bulletin board posting.

 

Elements of Effective Email Newsletters

To write effective internal email newsletters, the following elements should be taken into account:

  1. Target audience.
    Internal newsletters have a fixed target audience – internal company employees. This sounds simple but it isn’t. What do they want to hear about and are interested in? If you have a big company or very diverse interests represented, think about adding segmentation for instance on departmental level. This doesn’t have to be separate.
  2. Content relevance.
    All email newsletters should be written to serve a purpose. So mix and match the content with the above mentioned objectives. From the reader’s perspective: after employees have read the email (and acted on it) they should feel that they did not waste their time or the email marketing engagement will plummet a few newsletters in.
  3. Format and presentation.
    As much as possible, a consistent format should be adopted to make newsletters familiar and easy to read / digest for everyone within the company. It’s inadvisable to keep changing the layout, style, and overall presentation of internal newsletters. Use a template, why not do some grid style planning on it. Getting it right once can save a lot of effort.
  4. Tone or style.
    The used tone and style depends you should use depends mostly on what the company or organization decides to stand for and sound like. It’s important to pick a style that suits the company, something that also will make the newsletters engaging and appealing to the target readers. A company like Toys R Us might want to pick a different tone than a Starbucks, and these would differ quite dramatically from law firm, non-profit, or governmental , for instance.It can be light-hearted or more stern and formal. We often speak about company culture, an internal newsletter is one of the tangible “representatives” of company culture.

internal_newsletter

Pointers for Writing Better Internal Email Newsletters

The objectives and elements mentioned above give an idea of how the most effective internal email newsletters are to be written. They have been taken into account and guide the writing and delivery of successful internal email newsletters.

  1. Ensure that the information presented is complete. Readers should not feel like they were only being teased. Internal newsletters are not school learning material either: try to be complete. The level of needed information however might be smaller than you might expect. Of course linking to – for instance – the intranet for further info is great. Or a reference “ask X at department Y for more information” can be a good way to encourage interdepartmental contact and dialog.
  2. Keep internal newsletters simple.There is no contest for brevity here so don’t interpret conciseness as the compulsion to have short sentences or paragraphs. Newsletters should demonstrate a sense of fluidity so reading them appears natural. The point in making things concise and simple is avoiding. People skip the info altogether. Especially think about re-writing that CEO text (they do love their intro’s!) a few times to make it better.  Bear in mind that everyone in the company (should be?) busy and will not always have the luxury of time to read wordy and long-winded newsletters.
  3. Make newsletters engaging and empowering. Readers should be reading internal newsletters because they find them interesting or engaging, not because the boss demands them to do so. Top-down demanding is just not the best way to do it and certainly not the most effective. It doesn’t feel right. There is nothing wrong in making the emails engaging enough to create a habit of reading them.

To make newsletters engaging, it is advisable to use a conversational or casual tone. Unless it’s a company policy, it’s not required to be formal in writing. They are often not  as official company or organization correspondence so you have some leeway for making them interesting and engaging.

Moreover, to make newsletters engaging, consider using creativity or humor in the presentation. When reporting about a recently held company event, for example, instead of delivering the details in straight news form, try adding in some humor-laced comments along with candid photos.

If a specific department or project team achieves a commendable feat, the newsletters can be used to acknowledge them to let other employees know of what they have accomplished and to make them serve as an inspiration.

There are some more recommended newsletter topics that are likely to engage readers at the end of this article.

  • Try to make use of visuals whenever applicable. Imagine reading something that looks like lengthy blocks of black text on white background. It will unlikely encourage you to continue reading. Compare that to reading something with photos or even stock illustrations inserted. Reading experience with imagery is 100% better. Visuals are particularly recommended when writing about boring facts and corporate updates. Depending on your tone-of-voice, your own pictures (non-stock) featuring the in-house employees always do better.
  • Observe propriety. Creativity and some humor make newsletters better but it’s important to always bear propriety in mind. Being appropriate is expected in all types of organization communication. When reporting about layoffs or poor company performance, for example, humor is certainly out of the question. It might go without saying, but it’s not right to make fun of unfortunate events and to make fun of a specific employee or department for the sake of making the newsletter engaging.
  • Keep improving. - A/B testing is a form of experiment to determine tweaks that can enhance the results of a project or campaign. There are a number of other email newsletter tests you can consider. In doing internal email newsletters, think mostly about the subject lines and the type of topics. Of course the changes or tweaks that received the most favorable KPI’s / statistics will likely be used for succeeding newsletters. But next to the numbers, quality feedback is also important, you can just walk up to your colleagues and ask or do it in form of an employee questionnaire.

 

Recommended Internal Newsletter Content

Newsletters can have both business and non-business types of content. Obviously, both types  have to be treated differently. It’s important to always keep them interesting and engaging like mentioned before, so you might want to go for a mix.

For business-related content, the following are the typical topics you could include:

  • product or service updates and developments,
  • innovations related to the business or industry the company is involved in,
  • changes in the company’s leadership and personnel,
  • updates about competitors,
  • news on initiatives being started in the company,
  • details of possible benefit plans and wellness programs within the company,
  • intra-company and industry surveys,
  • details on job vacancies or training opportunities,
  • resource updates (especially those related to IT and HR), and
  • messages from the CEO or president.

Bad news affecting the company or the employees should also be considered to be included. They may not excite readers but they are very important information everyone in the company should know.

For non-business topics inspiration for content is:

  • competitions within the company or participated by members of the company,
  • details on social or outreach events, tips and guides for employees,
  • updates on perks or promos (not necessarily offered by the company),
  • articles on company celebrations,
  • jokes and interesting stories, essays, and
  • letters to the editor or employee-contributed articles.

Viral social media posts may also be occasionally covered. Some organizations would allow light blind items or rumors to be included in the newsletters, but it’s probably better to avoid those. Generally, they tend to create tension. It takes a great deal of experience and expertise to properly balance the attributes of being interesting and offensive.

Newsletters can have recurring types of content. Many readers tend to like the sense of familiarity they have with them. However, it’s important to keep to renew your newsletter and keep it fresh. If a news section is being regularly published, don’t be afraid to use content that has also been published somewhere else. But it is even better to link the post to the company or employees and “make it your own”.

internal_email

Engaging Readers through feedback

The content is not the only way to engage newsletter readers. It is also possible to attract reader interest through other means. For instance when starting out, run a contest on naming the newsletter. Reader feedback can be collected by linking a web form or maybe just a thumbs up and thumbs down feedback (through two links at the bottom)  is good to get a general feel for how people judge your latest send.

 

Conclusion

In writing effective internal email newsletters, it is essential to have appropriate content that fits with your objectives and with a consistent format and an engaging and empowering tone. These are often different from your marketing mails and the objectives serve as guides on how their email marketing strategy should be constructed. They justify and answer the “why” you want to send those engaging newsletters.

Writing newsletters isn’t serious journalism or creative writing either, but when you are trying to engage the whole company, it’s inevitable to try doing different things every once in a while. Share with us in the comments below how you plan your internal newsletters!

How to Make Your Internal Email Newsletter a Winner is a post from: GetResponse Blog - Email Marketing Tips

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