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 or our website builder for more details.
Tuesday, August 29, 2017 by Shayla Price
Your 5-Step Roadmap to Instagram SuccessIt’s time for your talents to get recognized. You’ve spent years behind the scenes working hard to perfect your craft. No one knows you exist. However, you can use Instagram to reach and cultivate your audience. “If you aren’t already on the network in some capacity, now’s the time to join. So long as you keep your users’ interests and needs in mind, refine your photography skills, and stay active, you’ll reap the rewards of a more active, engaged following,” says Jayson DeMers, a Forbes contributor. The roadmap from unknown to famous takes a strategic effort. Here are five tips to earn stardom on Instagram.
1. Create an Unforgettable ProfileFirst impressions matter. Whether you’re meeting someone in real life or online, you want to instantly capture people’s attention. On Instagram, those first impressions begin with your profile. You only have a couple of seconds to convince visitors you’re worth following. For starters, upload a professional photo of yourself. People gravitate toward faces, so stay away from full body shots or brand logos. A plain background works well, too. You don’t want to distract fans with odd objects in the background. What’s next? Your bio. It should tell an amazing story about who you are and what fans can expect from your Instagram account. Adding emojis also will give your profile a playful feel. And of course, don’t forget to include a call to action in your bio that directs people to your website or landing page. Shirley Braha adopted a very cute dog from a shelter. Her family and friends thought her new Shih Tzu could be an Internet sensation. Reluctant at first, Shirley finally started posting pictures of her dog Marnie online. The first month she got 400 followers. And after finding out what fans liked, Shirley managed to grow her adopted pet’s Instagram to more than two million followers. Take some pointers from Marnie The Dog’s profile above. It’s possible to encourage people to follow you in just a few seconds.
2. Take Advantage of Visual StorytellingA story is good, but a story with pictures is even better. With social media bursting at the seams, visual storytelling has become a necessity in social networks. It’s not enough to use only text to convey a compelling message. You need images, GIFs, memes, and videos to pull people to your work. “Great images and videos engage. Think about it like a billboard campaign. You wouldn’t choose an ugly or mundane billboard to catch drivers’ eyes on the highway. The same can be said about your Instagram,” states Alex York, a writer and SEO specialist. On Instagram, you can share a beautiful photo and then caption it with a short story. Maybe it’s a picture of you in the park. Describe to your followers what you saw and how you felt in the moment. You also might try creating a 30-second or 60-second video showing off your skills. If you like cooking, share your favorite ingredients. If you’re a fitness trainer, demonstrate a quick exercise. But remember, nothing beats a captivating photo that expresses creativity. Instagram star Taylor Alesia inspires her fans with fashion and lifestyle posts. Below is an example of her posing in front of art. There are multiple ways to tell your stories. So, experiment with visual storytelling to highlight your awesomeness.
3. Expand Your Reach with HashtagsExposure is key to getting people to learn that you exist. Hashtagging is a useful technique to get noticed on Instagram. Did you know that posts with at least one hashtag average 12.6% more engagement? You can use hashtags to attract new followers and get more likes. Plus, it’s a good way for potential brand sponsors to discover you. There’s no perfect hashtag formula to get people to your account. However, you can research your competitors to find out which hashtags engage this similar audience. You might follow industry influencers to check out their hashtag usage. Also, pay attention to what hashtags your current followers add in the comments of your posts. For hashtags to work, they must be relevant. Avoid using hashtags that don’t accurately represent your post. You might get new visitors, but people will get annoyed and not follow you. Lita Lewis used Instagram as an open diary to highlight her fitness journey. As her follower count grew, she transformed her social media success into a business. Now, she’s signed with an ad agency, launched an apparel brand, and partnered with brands like Reebok. Do you notice any relevant hashtags in Lita’s post above? From #thinkathletics to #bodyweight, she is expanding her reach. Find hashtags that work for your brand.
4. Host an Instagram TakeoverAudiences are always seeking fresh perspectives. That’s why brands seek out influencers to engage their fan base with unique content. An Instagram takeover is one way to drive engagement and brand awareness. Brands receive a fresh voice on their account, while the influencer gets exposure to a new audience. Moreover, the fans get to experience something totally different. The first step is to set goals for your takeover. Since you’re the influencer, you want to map out the benefits for you and the company involved. “The first and arguably most important step in creating and executing a successful Instagram takeover is figuring out what goals you want to achieve. Understanding what you’d like the end result of the takeover to be will help you to construct a solid plan for getting the most out of your campaign,” writes Dhariana Lozano, social media and digital engagement professional. When working with the brand, set clear expectations for the takeover. Determine when it will happen, the content theme, the types of content, and the promotion of the takeover. In the image below, Courtney Kerr, editor of KERRently, announces to her followers that she will be taking over the Instagram account of fashion jewelry company BaubleBar. Connect with brands and pitch an Instagram takeover. With a vision and lots of preparation, you can become your industry’s next star.
5. Send Fans to Your WebsiteSocial media is an effective tool to draw crowds of people to your brand. But it isn’t always the best channel to showcase your full story. To solve this issue, you can direct followers to a personal website. That’s where you can host your own blog, get people to sign up for an email list, or even nudge folks to buy your merchandise. A website is another extension of your brand. So, remain consistent and give your fans a memorable experience. Model Janice Joostema racks up thousands of dollars for her sponsored Instagram posts. She also receives free clothing from designer brands. Besides social media, Janice also has a website where fans can read her blog and purchase her favorite items. Instagram is only one part of your brand. Grow your brand and create an affordable website with HostGator.
Now, It’s Your TurnStop waiting for others to find you. Instead, use Instagram as a tool to get recognized for your amazing work. Start by creating a profile that stands out from the crowd. Remember to use hashtags to expand your reach. Also, build a website to engage followers beyond the social media platform. It’s your turn. Go achieve Instagram stardom!