Getting Started With Marketing Automation: 5 Things To Do FirstLearning a new business process takes time and money. You have to train team members and select software that fits your budget. Right now, many companies are evaluating their options when it comes to marketing automation. The primary question being asked: Is it worth the investment? Colin Bentley, group product manager at Intercom, offers his opinion. “The key benefit of marketing automation is its ability to provide a personal experience that directly relates to the action each person takes. Good marketing automation creates a connected set of personalized and relevant messages that enrich the customer journey and help them discover and use your products.” If you’re struggling to make a decision, no worries. Here are five things you should do before investing in marketing automation.
1. Assess How You Identify Qualified LeadsEvery consumer that walks into your store or visits your website isn’t going to fit your ideal customer type. And that’s okay. You don’t want to be all things to everybody. However, it is your responsibility to filter through potential leads and determine who can benefit from your products and services. For example, a high-end shoe enthusiast won’t find your comfortable, low-priced sneakers appealing but a cash-strapped father might. Qualifying leads requires examining your customers’ demographic profiles and behaviors. Specific actions can indicate a consumer is ready to move to the next step in the sales funnel. We call this process lead scoring. Below is a chart from Wishpond listing a few possible actions that hold significance in identifying leads. Marketing automation makes lead scoring easier for your team. Instead of tallying your consumers’ actions with pencil and paper, there’s software that can automatically do these tasks for you. It’ll record what actions occur and notify your team when prospects become leads. eMarketeer reports that “companies that nurture prospects with the help of marketing automation, see a 451% increase in qualified leads.” If you’re still guessing whether a visitor is a lead or not, marketing automation is a natural next step for your business.
2. Study Your Current Nurturing ProcessGone are the days where a consumer learns about your brand, sees your merchandise, and buys your product immediately. Competition is fierce in the marketplace today, and with choice comes consumers’ hesitations to purchase things quickly. When a consumer comes across your product, they start investigating. They ask their friends about your brand and even visit multiple review sites to get other people’s opinions. The time it takes to make a purchasing decision has extended. For your business, this means creating a nurturing process to keep buyers interested while they do a little research. Lead nurturing is a major part of the sales cycle. You’re educating and engaging consumers to persuade them to purchase. Nurturing activities may include making courtesy calls, sending promotional emails, or suggesting a blog content to read. The entire process is tedious and involves several courses of action. How you nurture a teen buyer would be different from how you would nurture a middle-aged consumer. Then, you must factor in the individual’s interests and buying motivations. With marketing automation, you can create the system and then run the lead nurturing process on autopilot (with some supervision). For instance, you can automatically send consumers an email with a coupon after they abandon a shopping cart. No more reminding yourself to follow up; let the software do the heavy lifting.
3. Track Marketing ActivitiesYour team is working on a big project to increase customer retention. It’s a brand-new initiative with no set procedure. So, everyone is basically creating steps from scratch. As retention ticks upward, the team declares the project a victory. So your boss wants to replicate the success. But there’s one major problem. No one on the team tracked the marketing activities. You don’t even know how much time it took to achieve results. While it may seem obvious to record marketing activities, this mistake is common in many businesses. Tivi Jones, a contributor for The Arizona Republic, offers her insight on the topic: “Keeping track of your marketing projects regularly enables you to not only monitor your activities, but also your results. Based on your current marketing goals and objectives, set up marketing projects or campaigns in order to group activities and results into chunks you can manage and analyze for return on investment.” Don’t know which marketing strategy led to results? Marketing automation may be your solution. The right tool can track what marketing activities you did and when you implemented them. For instance, if you run an A/B test in January and forget which strategy won, you can retrieve the results in May when you revisit the problem.
4. Gauge Your Personalization StrategiesAs more businesses open their doors, the market becomes more crowded. Consumers get bombarded with messages from their local gyms, doctors, and chain retailers. Everyone is vying for the buyer’s attention. Breaking out of the mold may seem difficult. Because, quite frankly, it is challenging to showcase your brand and product when 20 other competitors exist. But the battle isn’t impossible. Stop thinking about how you can be different. Instead, communicate differently to your target audience. Personalization combined with marketing automation opens doors to nurturing your consumers based on their desires. Nearly two-thirds of email marketers worldwide use email automation, according to a GetResponse survey. However, only 25.4% of email marketers are personalizing with dynamic content. Marketing automation offers a unique opportunity to integrate specific customer data into your email campaigns, sales collateral, and site messaging. By eliminating the boilerplate text, you show customers that you really understand their needs.
5. Understand How You Collect DataData is a hot topic for businesses. Experts advise teams to collect every single piece of data to understand their customers. So, that’s what most companies do. They gather data from a recent campaign, pull information from an old database, and import contacts from an external source. Before you know it, teams have accumulated data from 20 to 30 different places. Then, after it’s collected, the data sits idle on a supervisor’s desktop, waiting to be accidentally deleted. This isn’t a sound strategy. Marketing automation can help your team centralize all your data. That way, you’re getting accurate information to make better judgment calls. If you need to look up a new customer, the data is at your fingertips, rather than a filing cabinet. “We track every single acquisition channel through which our users register. This includes blog posts, press, organic search, paid ads, partnerships, etc. We do weekly meetings to review the data. It shows which channels convert the highest, generate the most loyal users and more,” says Danny Boice, founder of Speek. You don’t want your data scattered around like toys in a child’s playpen. If it takes you days to find your data, it might be time to invest in marketing automation.
Get Ready to AutomateIntroducing marketing automation into your business is a big decision. You want to be well-informed before you take the leap. Evaluate how you identify qualified leads in your pipeline. Track your marketing tasks during campaigns. And of course, assess how you currently gather data. Get informed. Then, invest in marketing automation.
8 Ways To Fix Your Website's High Bounce RateIf you’re like most website owners, you put a lot of effort into getting people to come to your website. Your SEO efforts, your PPC campaigns, your content marketing – all of it’s meant to help people learn about your business and find your website. But all that investment you’re making isn’t worth much if the people who come to your website don’t stick around. Your bounce rate is an important metric to help you understand whether or not your website is doing its job once people land on it. Google Analytics knows it’s important, which is why they put it right upfront when you first log in. What’s normal for a bounce rate can vary widely, but an average bounce rate is usually somewhere in the 40-55% range. If you feel like yours is too high and you want to do something about it, your first step is to do some sleuthing to figure out the likely cause.
Common Causes of High Bounce RatesMost high bounce rates are caused by one a few key issues with your website. Here are the main things to look for when trying to track down the issue with yours.
1. Broken linksIf people navigate to your website from an outdated link that no longer works, they’ll be seeing a 404 page rather than what they’re looking for. In most cases, that gives them little reason to stick around. This kind of issue can occur if you moved your website to a new domain or did an overhaul of the site that included changing some of your URLs. Any old links on your own website and others pointing to those pages will now fail to take people where they expect to go, which makes them more likely to leave the site altogether. The fix(es): You have a few steps to take in response to broken links. To start, find and fix the broken links on your own website. Run your website through a tool like Broken Link Check. Once you have a list of broken links on your website, get to work fixing them. Not all of them will be links back to your own pages, but go ahead and fix the broken outbound links as well to improve user experience on your website. Next, work on improving your 404 page. You probably can’t keep your visitors from ever experiencing a 404 page again, but you can definitely control what they see when they do. Make sure it’s entertaining and helpful, and that it makes it easy for them to try and search and find whatever they were looking for to begin with. Finally, the hardest step here is figuring out how to deal with broken external links. You can’t control what other webmasters do and it’s not easy to identify the broken links out on the wide web. But you should be able to spot a few of them with the help of Google Search Console. Once you have it up, click on Crawl Errors and you’ll see a list of links that Google experienced errors with on their crawls. You can click on an individual link, then click Source to see where it’s coming from. Unless you know the webmaster, you can’t expect to change the link on the website itself, but what you can do is set up a 301 redirect that takes the incorrect URL to the right page. That way people who click end up on the page they’re looking for without ever knowing the difference.
2. Slow loading timesThere was a time when everyone expected to have to wait for the internet to connect and sites to load. Now that most of the web loads at lightning speed, people don’t have that kind of patience anymore. Most people won’t wait around longer than two seconds for your website to load. If it’s taking longer than that, they’ll bounce before they ever see what you have to say. The fix: You need a better hosting provider. While website features like images that are too large and flash video can slow your website down, the main problem behind most slow sites is a slow host. If you’re getting more traffic than your hosting plan can handle, then it may be time for an upgrade. If you’re pretty sure traffic isn’t the issue, then you may just need a new hosting provider altogether.
3. Too many pop-ups and adsPeople hate pop-ups. 68% of people say they’d gladly block a site from search for having pop-ups and the ad technique has a 73% disapproval rating in surveys. Other types of ads don’t inspire quite the same level of ire, but people still feel they see too many ads in general and are less likely to want to hang out on sites where they feel bombarded by advertising. That doesn’t mean your website can’t get away with having any ads at all. 83% of people say that not all ads are bad, but the ads that feel intrusive and distract from what they’re actually looking for on a site are a problem. The fix: Test out different ways of displaying ads. If you’re going to use ads on your website, do A/B testing to figure out the best designs for using them that don’t drive people away. If you’re using pop-ups, either stop using them entirely, or do testing to figure out the least intrusive way to use them in order to still get results, such as having them show up only after people have reached the end of the content and making it easy to close the pop-up window.
4. Autoplay videosHave you ever been browsing the internet in a public place, clicked through to a website, and suddenly found yourself to be that guy – you know, the one whose computer is blaring noise that everyone around you now has to listen to. Even when you’re sitting at home alone, autoplay videos are obnoxious. And closing out the page entirely is often easier than trying to find the pause button to shut off the sound. 82% of people have closed out a page because of an autoplay video. They’re intrusive and they contribute to a bad user experience. The fix: Just don’t do it. Don’t set the videos on your website to play automatically. Trust that people who want to see your video can figure out how to press play and you won’t lose all the people who don’t want to see it before they get a chance to look at anything else on your website.
5. Content that’s not what was promisedThe bait-and-switch never works out well. If your PPC ads and title tags suggest people will be coming to a page that provides one thing and they get another, they’re not going to be happy. Why stick around when they aren’t getting what they want and, worse, they feel lied to? The fix: Do a review of all your PPC copy and meta tags. Make sure that the information your prospects see before they click matches what they’ll get when they arrive on the page. Correct any information that isn’t currently accurate and make sure moving forward that all new ads and pages will provide accuracy as well.
6. Bad web designHave you ever clicked away from a website because the design was ugly and outdated? A website that looks stuck in the 90’s doesn’t inspire trust in visitors. It looks unauthoritative and makes people figure they’re better off looking for information elsewhere. [caption id="attachment_13372" align="aligncenter" width="491"] http://www.angelfire.com/on4/grapefruit/index.html[/caption] Your website could look fine and still have design issues though. If people find it hard to navigate and get to what they’re looking for, they’re more likely to give up and look for what they need somewhere else. The fix: Update your web design. If you haven’t done a website redesign in a while, make this your incentive to do so. Hire a good designer or check out the available web builders. If you don’t have one yet, add an easy-to-spot search feature to your website to make it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. And do user testing to make sure your navigation is intuitive so people are more likely to browse rather than bounce.
7. Your page isn’t mobile optimized.People spend an average of five hours a day on their mobile devices, and almost a third of all shopping done online is on mobile. If you’ve done much browsing on a mobile device yourself, you know that a bad user experience on that small screen is, if anything, worse than one on a computer screen. If people don’t have patience for bad design on a computer, they definitely won’t on a mobile device. And the stats bear that out; bounce rates are 40% higher on mobile than on desktop. The fix: Optimize your site for mobile. Get this done ASAP. A lot of your visitors are coming from mobile devices and you need to make sure their experience on your site is as good as that of your desktop visitors.
8. Your content’s no good.Whether it’s due to spelling errors, bad formatting, or because the information’s not helpful, if people are landing on your site and simply don’t find the content there useful, there’s no reason for them to stick around. Content marketing is a competitive game and your visitors know that if yours doesn’t deliver, someone else’s will. Why would they settle? The fix: Invest more in content marketing. Make sure you’re only publishing high-quality content that’s get enough to impress the people that come to your website and make them want to come back for more. It’s hard to do, but it can make a big difference in reducing those bounce rates and ensuring you start to build ongoing relationships with the people who land on your website. Take some time to analyze what’s going on and see what diagnosis you can provide. As soon as you spot the problem, you can make a move toward the fix and get people to stick around longer and engage more with your brand. A site visit is only worth so much – a subscriber or regular visitor is worth far more.
What Are Local SEO Services?If you’re a marketer or website owner in 2017, you have to care about SEO. Search engines are the first place many people go when they’re looking for, well just about anything. Being one of the websites that shows up when someone is looking for what you sell is extremely valuable. That’s no less true when you run a local business with a physical location – many people turn to Google to figure out where to go when they head out to do their shopping. Investing in SEO services is therefore necessary, but finding a reputable SEO firm can be a challenge. Bad SEO tactics can actually hurt you, since many of Google’s updates are designed to penalize spammy SEO practices. And if you’re specifically interested in reaching local customers, SEO requires a different approach for you than for national businesses. Doing it wrong can cause a lot of waste and slower results.
How Local SEO is DifferentThe best way that local SEO is different is that it’s less competitive. You can target local search terms that far fewer businesses are competing on and only have to worry about getting in front of people within a certain geographic radius, instead of everyone in the country or world. Helping your case further, for search terms that Google assumes suggest that people are looking for something nearby, the search results prioritize businesses located close to the searcher’s location. So anyone searching for “dance studio” or “restaurant” will see local results on the first page, even without putting their city or zip code into the search bar. All of this works to your advantage, but it doesn’t mean local SEO is a cakewalk. You will be competing against everyone else in your area that sells similar products or services to you and possibly some online businesses that target customers from anywhere. There’s a whole set of tactics specific to local SEO that any firm you hire needs to undertake to keep you competitive.
Checklist: What to Look for in Local SEO ConsultantsWhen you’re looking for local SEO services, there are a few things to keep an eye out for to make sure the firm or consultant you consider is the real deal. Use this list as a basic checklist to ensure they know what they’re talking about. 1. They understand the differences between local and national/international SEO. Someone who approaches local SEO in the same way as they do SEO for any other client would be doing you a disservice. Make sure they talk about the strategy they’ll use for your SEO in a way that makes it clear that they understand your focus is local and that the steps they’ll take will reflect that. 2. They have a strategy for targeting Google’s 3-pack. Possibly the most important component in local SEO is Google’s 3-pack. These are the results that show up above organic results underneath a map that includes the locations of relevant results. As valuable as showing up in that number one organic spot is in Google, for local businesses, snagging a spot in the 3-pack is even more important since it’s what searchers will see first when they start to look at the results. If an SEO firm you’re considering doesn’t mention the 3-pack, that’s a bad sign. 3. They talk about directories. One aspect of local SEO that doesn’t factor into broader SEO as much is directory listings. Anyone offering local SEO services should talk about the importance of getting your business listed in as many local directories as possible. They may talk about NAP (name, address, phone number)– the acronym local specialists use to describe the importance of including all three of those in your listings and making sure each is consistent across all sites. 4. They discuss the importance of mobile. A focus on mobile is important for all SEO, but it plays an even bigger role in local SEO. Think about it. People on the go or about to head out often whip out their phones and perform a search to decide which shops, restaurants, or other businesses to hit up while they’re out. When you think of it in that context, it’s probably not all that surprising that 70% of mobile searches lead to action. That means you definitely want to show up when people in your area are performing relevant searches on mobile. Make sure any local SEO services you consider treat mobile optimization as a top priority. 5. Content with a local focus is included in their strategy. Content marketing should be included in any good SEO strategy, including those for local businesses. The trick with using content marketing effectively for local search optimization is making sure your content includes plenty of topics with a local focus. For real estate agents, that can mean writing about the different neighborhoods of the city. Landscaping companies can include posts about native plants that grow well in your city’s climate. Whatever you sell, a good SEO agency should help you figure out topics to cover in your content marketing that have local relevance. 6. They share ideas for encouraging customer reviews. One of the trickier parts of local SEO is getting customer reviews. You can’t force reviews to happen – customers have to be willing to provide them of their own accord. But there are strategies you can implement to help encourage more reviews. Local SEO strategists understand the importance of reviews and will often have suggestions for techniques to help you get more of them. 7. They don’t promise a #1 spot. This advice isn’t specific to local SEO services, but it bears mentioning nonetheless. The biggest sign that a SEO consultant isn’t entirely trustworthy is if they promise to get you in the top spot on Google. The way Google’s algorithm works is such that no SEO expert can reasonably guarantee that – unless it’s for an irrelevant search term no one cares about. Legitimate SEO experts understand the limitations of what they can offer and don’t overpromise. They’ll give you a realistic idea of how much time SEO takes and what the challenges are to making progress. But if they know what they’re doing and you keep up with local SEO for the long haul, you will make progress over time and see more customers from it. Did you know HostGator provides local SEO services? Get your free consultation today.
Monday, October 9, 2017 by Shayla Price
7 Ways To Optimize Your Email Marketing StrategyThere’s a rumor spreading like wildfire in the marketing industry. People keep saying that email is dead. Some individuals believe it’s time to give up and to focus on other channels. Before you go delete your email list, you may want to check out the facts about email marketing. Research shows that “email use worldwide will top 3 billion users by 2020.” Moreover, “86% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with at least monthly.” Email isn’t dead, but you may need to revive your outdated techniques. Below are seven powerful strategies to ignite your email marketing.
1. Build a Targeted ListWhen running a business, it’s easy to get stuck in the habit of serving everyone. Your first instinct is to cast a wide net and get as many people as possible focused on your brand. Well, in email marketing, that strategy doesn’t work. Signing up random consumers to receive your emails will annoy them, and you won’t convert them into paying customers. Instead, you want to build a targeted list of interested buyers. These are the consumers who visit on your website or inquire about your upcoming sales event. For instance, you can set up a landing page and ask visitors for their email addresses in exchange for a 10% coupon. Developing a targeted list is an ongoing process, so keep finding new consumers. Entrepreneur contributor Kimanzi Constable offers the following advice: “Never stop growing your list. Whether you have an email list of 50 people or 500,000, always work on growing your list. People will come and go, so adding new names is vital to keeping your email list healthy.”
2. Deliver at Optimal TimesBusinesses often overlook when to send emails. They get so bogged down with what to send that they forget about the best day and time to deliver their messages. Email timing will vary across industries. You’ll also want to consider the person receiving your emails. Is it a stay-at-home mom? The mornings might not work well since she is preparing her kids for school. Or is it the full-time corporate trainer? Late afternoons may interfere with his commute home. The day of the week also plays an integral role in delivering your message at the right time. If your customers stay busy on Mondays, you may want to wait until Tuesdays to tell them about your promotions. And don’t forget about holidays. Subscribers may be less likely to open your emails during Christmas or St. Patrick’s Day. Try different days and times to find what works for your customers.
3. Write Compelling Subject LinesAn effective email campaign begins with the subject line. Stuffed in between a bunch of other messages, your email must stand out from the crowd to gain the subscriber’s attention. You’ll want to keep your subject line short. As people skim their inboxes, they don’t have time to read your lengthy subject line. So, aim for 50 characters or less. Experiment with the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) technique. People hate feeling left out. Use words like, ‘limited-time offer’ and ‘only a few left,’ to spark curiosity. A numbered list also works well to boost open rates. Miranda Paquet, content manager at Constant Contact, provides a suggestion: “People love lists because they allow us to make sense of big, complicated concepts through a series of smaller parts. Use a list in your subject line as a way to let your readers know your content is well organized and easily digestible.”
4. Send Segmented CampaignsWhen you’re shopping for clothes, it can be difficult to find the right size. Some brands even attempt to sell you one-size-fits-all clothing, which never fits every body type. In a similar way, brands cut corners by sending mass emails to all their customers. That means basketball fans are receiving promotional emails about the latest sale on golf balls. It only confuses the buyer. Consumers dislike irrelevant emails, and according to the Radicati Group, 17.3% of these emails get classified as spam. Segmentation is the answer to your mass email nightmares. By segmenting subscribers, you have the opportunity to send tailored content that fits your customer’s interests. No more delivering wine coupons to your beer clientele. Still not convinced? Check out the results of segmented campaigns versus non-segmented campaigns below.
5. Personalize Your EmailsNo one likes receiving boring, generic emails. When they arrive in your inbox, you ignore them immediately. Consumers desire customized messages that center around their needs. Plus, a study found that personalized emails deliver six times higher transaction rates. That’s why email personalization is so important. Relevant messages build a strong bond between the customer and the brand. “A significant element of email marketing is relationship. Does a recipient trust you? Does a recipient even know who you are? When an email jumps the gun by forcing familiarity too soon, the personalization comes across as skeevy,” writes Kevan Lee, director of marketing at Buffer. Go beyond stating the first name of the subscriber. You can personalize emails by adding content specific to the location of the recipient. Or insert product recommendations based on the customer’s last purchase. Adding memorable email designs, like the colors matching the subscriber’s favorite sports team, also can provide a personal touch.
6. Take Advantage of AutomationEmail marketing, like any business function, can become time-consuming for your team. You’re responsible for writing the copy, designing the layout, and selecting your target audience. It’s a process that demands plenty of effort. Back in the day, businesses literally had to send one email at a time. Now, with the help of marketing automation, your team can not only send a single message to thousands of subscribers with one click of a button, but you also can schedule emails weeks and months in advance. Email marketing and automation is an effective combination to serve your audience better. The image above maps out how the process works. You can create delays between your emails and trigger actions based on the subscriber’s behavior.
7. Monitor Your MetricsEvery email marketing strategy needs metrics. Knowing the effectiveness of your campaigns ensures that you’re meeting company goals. But what metrics should you rely on? The Direct Marketing Association reports that the four most important email marketing metrics are click-through rate, conversion rate, open rate, and ROI. These metrics give you a comprehensive view of your email campaigns and help you make proactive business decisions. Let’s say your open rates drop suddenly. Then, you know it’s time to try new subject lines. And if your click-through rates increase for a specific email, you’re aware that subscribers enjoy the content. Pay attention to your bounce rates, too. Sending emails to a list of 10,000 subscribers doesn’t help if no one is receiving your messages. Email deliverability is a key factor for email service providers. If your bounce rate is too high, the provider may remove you from the platform.
Level Up Your Email MarketingMove past the rumor mill. Email marketing is alive and well. You just need to implement new strategies to earn more revenue. Start by building a targeted list that includes your ideal customer. Compose eye-catching subject lines to entice recipients to read your messages. And don’t forget to personalize emails to fit your customers’ needs and interests. Get better results. Fine-tune your email marketing plan.