Marketing Automation: Get More Out of Your EffortsMarketers give automation a bad reputation. As you look through your Facebook posts, you’ll notice dozens of articles about how automation doesn’t work or how it’s not helpful. Well, that’s not necessarily true. Marketing combined with automation offers an opportunity for you to connect directly with your audience in a more efficient manner. Not only can your business save time with routine tasks, but your team can also gather new insights about your customers. So, don’t subtract marketing automation from your strategy. There’s a chance to nurture your audience and increase your revenue. Here are 5 refreshing ways to optimize your business processes.
1. Share Relevant Social Media PostsResearch shows that 97% of online adults have visited or used a social network within the last month. If your business is aiming to earn new leads, social media is your destination. However, most companies fail to maximize the potential of their social media presence. You’ve probably scrolled down your favorite brand’s Twitter timeline and noticed all the tweets referencing their products. When brands focus solely on themselves, customers get annoyed. They don’t like that icky feeling of being sold something 24/7. Instead, companies must gear their social media efforts toward educating and entertaining their audiences. You can share unique experiences from customers, post a vintage employee photo for #ThrowBackThursday, or even share funny GIFs during the holiday season. Social media is all about giving your brand a vibrant personality that customers can relate to. Once you build that trust, your audience will feel more comfortable purchasing from you. You’re thinking: that’s going to take several hours. Not exactly. With social media management tools like Buffer, you can now automate your posts days in advance. You’ll reach your audience at the right times and drive more engagement. Explore how you can share more relevant posts, and don’t forget to automate your social media tasks.
2. Track Visitor BehaviorDo you follow your website visitors? Are you monitoring how they interact with content on your pages? If not, there's a possibility your team is missing an opportunity to really learn about your consumers. Some businesses find it creepy to watch their customers, and it makes their teams feel like a bunch of stalkers. If you feel that way, perhaps you’re taking the wrong approach. Tracking visitor behavior helps you understand the customer. When you know more, you can create better online experiences. “By analyzing where your visitors come from and what content leads them to your site, you can better track your content ROI, learn more about how effective your efforts are, and create more of what your visitors find most valuable,” states Ashley Kimler, a communications specialist at Heroic Search Tulsa. For example, if you set up Google Analytics on your site, you can observe which channels lead visitors to your products. You can learn how much time each visitor spends viewing a specific page. Your team also can track specific interactions on your website, such as video downloads. More importantly, you gain all this data automatically. Monitoring your visitors helps you serve your customers. When you focus on that goal, you eliminate the doubts of whether to track your visitors or not.
3. Capture Interested BuyersBrick-and-mortar businesses are notorious for luring shoppers into their stores with catchy sales signs and window displays. And once a customer enters their doors, they grab the person’s interest with a friendly sales clerk and limited-time promotions. As an online retailer, you can replicate this strategy for your business. All you need is a landing page, a content asset, and a pop-up box. Landing pages work as a tool to earn your visitor’s attention. You’re not selling them on your product just yet. Rather, you want to encourage them to give you their email address in exchange for a content asset. The asset can be a five-part email course or a coupon for a future purchase. “The content on the landing page primes the reader for what your asset will give them. It should provide a quick, digestible summary of what they’ll learn if they download it. This is the ‘exchange’ point in the process, where they decide if your asset is worth their time and their contact information,” writes Ben Silverman, marketing writer at Brafton. But how will you collect their contact information? Will someone need to be online operating the site? Of course not. You’ll add a pop-up box onto your website. So when someone clicks a specific link or button to sign up for your content asset, they will have the option to fill out a form. Below is a pop-up box from ThriveThemes. You can capture interested buyers any time. That’s the advantage of marketing automation.
4. Identify Qualified LeadsYou are thrilled when new prospects come through the pipeline. It’s a sign your marketing strategy is working. Yet, most business strategies stop here. They have interested buyers and immediately start selling products to them. That’s not quite how you want to do it. Instead, you need to create a system that moves consumers down your sales funnel. You want to turn prospects into qualified leads. Work with your team to define activities that signal when consumers are ready to buy your product. These actions may include opening three promotional emails, visiting your product page five times within a week, or contacting a customer support member. “Marketing automation provides a framework for your potential customers’ progress as they traverse the buyer’s journey, and makes it easy for marketers to manage leads. You define characteristics, such as a title or industry, and behaviors, such as attending a webinar, that indicate when a prospect will likely become a buyer,” says Chris Hardeman, vice president of sales at Act-On Software. If you had to manually qualify leads, this labor-intensive task would take forever. Marketing automation platforms, like Pardot and ActiveCampaign, offer lead scoring that track customer engagement over time. You have the power to improve team productivity and increase sales. So, start figuring out how to qualify your leads today.
5. Send Targeted Email CampaignsCommunication is important when it comes to online marketing. It matters how and when you send messages to your audience. In the past, businesses dominated the communication with their customers. Companies made unilateral decisions about what they would say. With advances in technology, the brand-customer relationship favors the buyer. Customers control when and where they want to receive sales messages. As a result, businesses deliver multiple emails to their customers every day—all vying for their attention. To separate yourself from the pack, it’s imperative that you send targeted email campaigns. These personalized messages fit each customer’s shopping behaviors and specific product interests. Customized emails ensure that buyers read your content and pay attention to your services. Plus, your subscribers get the sense that your business understands their needs. Email marketing software makes it easy to deliver personalized automated messages to your list. For instance, with Constant Contact, your team can send automated birthday emails to each subscriber. You want customers to listen to you. To do so, send targeted email campaigns to strengthen the consumer relationship.
It’s Time to AutomateAutomation isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for all your marketing challenges. However, it is useful for streamlining your business workflows. From social media to email campaigns, marketing automation facilitates the customer journey. You can attract, nurture, and convert leads without the unnecessary hassle. Give automation another chance. It’s worth the investment.
How To Get Started With Marketing AutomationLearning 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.
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.
Sunday, October 1, 2017 by Shayla Price
5 Ways Web Design Can Make or Break Your WebsiteIs it time for a website makeover? Your website is prime real estate online. It’s where you can showcase your unique talents and where future clients can learn about your services. Because your website is an integral part of your brand, it makes sense that it looks professional and impresses all your visitors. You want to immediately grab their attention. The right website design builds trust. It gives social proof and encourages people to inquire about products. The best sites attract people, not repel them. It’s time to strengthen your brand image. Keep reading to learn how a professional design makeover can improve your website.
1. Visitor ExperienceThe design of a website is a make-or-break moment for your business. An Adobe study noted that if “given 15 minutes to consume content, two-thirds of people would rather read something beautifully designed than something plain.” A well-designed website enhances the visitor experience. It’s visually pleasing and captures people’s attention. You’ve probably landed on an unattractive website before, and your instincts automatically tell you to exit the screen. Instead, you want to draw people in. Here’s an example from Tatte Bakery & Cafe. The site is modern with two bold images, the brand’s logo, and lots of white space. Beyond eye-catching images, the visitor experience also includes the functionality of the site. Can visitors easily navigate your site without any hassle? Your website isn’t a static piece of art. It’s a dynamic tool for presenting your business to the world. So, you’ll want to insert strong calls to action within your site to lead visitors on a journey. Good design gives visitors a clear pathway to find what they need on your site. Set your design standards and observe how people use your site to make improvements.
2. Brand IdentityThe marketplace is crowded with businesses seeking to gain more customers. With so much competition, it’s easy for buyers to mistake your brand for another business. It’s vital that your website stand out from the rest, and it all starts with a solid brand identity—the consumers’ perception of your business. Itai Elizur, COO at InboundJunction, agrees: “It’s hard to overstate the importance of a solid brand look, no matter the size of your business or how long you’ve been around. From first impression to building engagement and growing solid relationships, your brand identity is crucial.” A modern website not only looks great and impresses your customers, but it also tells a story about your brand’s mission and values. To create a distinct and memorable brand identity, think about your customers’ expectations and the message you want to convey. Your identity is represented through the structure, the color palette, and the fonts of your site. Keep consistency as a guiding principle as you create your website. Visitors should recognize your brand within a few seconds—without having to see your logo. Moreover, finding the right balance between branding and design takes time. Don’t feel anxious if it takes you longer than expected to build your website.
3. Mobile LifestyleYour audience is exploring websites when they’re commuting from work, visiting a friend out of town, and waiting in line at the grocery store. Research found that “mobile devices now account for nearly 2 of every 3 minutes spent online.” Your goal is to develop a mobile-friendly design that works seamlessly on all devices, from smartphones to desktops. Sizing your site to fit each device makes it convenient for visitors to navigate your content. “Taking a mobile-first approach necessitates a lot of focus and attention on the needs of the user, and it requires the company to hone in on what is most essential about its message and its content. There’s no room for flashy widgets and vanity features,” states Forbes contributor Gabriel Shaoolian. Below is a mobile website from airline JetBlue. You’ll notice that the content fits in the screen without having to zoom in or out. Plus, a simple finger tap opens drop-down menus. You also want to consider the limitations of mobile devices. Not every task on a desktop website is suitable for a smartphone or tablet version. For instance, you might disable a live chat support feature or remove specific pop-up windows. You’ll have to make critical decisions on how you will engage with your mobile visitors.
4. Social ProofPeople trust websites that look professional. If you want customers to work with you, you need to fortify your brand site with social proof. When consumers visit your website, they need immediate indicators that you’re a reputable business. They want to know that you’re not engaged in phony transactions or attempting to sell their personal information. Social proof eases the tensions and gives credence to your brand. These trust elements include badges from the Better Business Bureau or logos from past mentions in publications. However, those types of social proof aren’t always the most effective. People believe their family and peers more than another business vouching for a brand. Fast Company reports that “70% of consumers say they look at product reviews before making a purchase.” Buyers want honest opinions from current consumers. Serial entrepreneur Neil Patel practices this strategy. On his consulting page, he provides testimonials from his past clients showing how he impacted their work. Experiment with different forms of social proof on your page. You can post a customer quote with a photo of the individual. Or you can upload a short video clip from a past client. The key is to illustrate the respect your brand receives in the industry. This is your chance to brag a little.
5. More SalesLet’s be honest. When visitors land on your site, you don’t want them leaving without purchasing your product or at least inquiring about your services. It’s important to work with your designer to create a natural flow from interested buyers to new customers. This means anticipating how visitors will interact with your website as it relates to the sales funnel. Obed Richman, an experienced web designer, offers his perspective: “It isn’t enough to state explicitly in your written content that you can solve someone’s problem—not if that message is drowning in so much poor design that your customer doesn’t read it. Every element of your website needs to be designed to point towards that one end goal: attracting your customer, and solving their problem.” What pages will people visit first? How easy is it for visitors to shop in your eCommerce store? Can they contact you directly? For example, the checkout process should be streamlined for the buyer. Focus on reducing the number of clicks it takes to complete a transaction. Normally, businesses implement a three-step process: the add-to-cart page, the payment page, and the confirmation page. Designing a sales-ready website is less about the product and more about the consumer. You’re crafting an experience that promotes shopping.
It’s Makeover Time!Is your website lacking pizazz? Take the leap and get a professional design makeover. A new website look enhances the visitor experience by improving functionality. It displays your brand identity with visual storytelling. Also, you can update your site to fit your audience’s mobile lifestyle. Don't wait another second! Check out HostGator's web design services for more details.