The ORTE Model: MailNinja’s Guide to Creating Emails that Get Results

This is a post from our partner, Doug Dennison, from MailNinja

Email marketers often hear this advice: Send the right emails to the right person at the perfect time.

This advice can seem less than helpful. Naturally, we all want to send relevant, timely content, but how do you do that?  What is “the right” message?

Before aiming for perfection, you simply want quality emails. In order to make great sends, you’ll need the following:

​​Sender authority

​​If you want your emails to send without issue, you’ll need to authenticate your domain. Authenticating your domain is the best way to ensure your emails are delivered successfully.

 

Thought leadership

Show your subscribers you’re a thought leader in your industry by providing high-quality content, original research, and helpful information.

​​Message relevancy

​​Does your message match your audience? Guessing is no way to ensure positive relationships with your subscribers, so find out more about them. Put out surveys, test your emails, and research the subscribers who read your emails.

​​Recipient desire

Is your content meeting a need? Do your emails answer questions or provide information on products people want?

​​Look at Apple for example. Apple’s a thought leader in the tech space; the company creates products people want to buy; and when Apple launches something, the world knows about it.

Secondly, their emails are on brand, on message, and speak directly to their audience. This is because Apple markets products carefully and does adequate research into their customer-base. You can see in the ad below that Apple encourages customers to provide feedback on their current device:

Example of an Apple phone ad
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​​Source

Introducing the ORTE model.

​​The ORTE model from MailNinja explores the four pillars of successful email marketing campaigns, so you can send emails like a (mail)ninja.

Mailninja ORTE model for email

Source​​

​Opportunity

​​This section is designed to look at opportunities to do things in a slightly different way, looking at ways you make your mark, stand out, and cut through the noise.

​​Market and industry – Are other people in your market space using social media heavily but tend to avoid email? Then switch it up and send more emails. If you want to stand out, be different in your approach.

Consider, too, your industry benchmarks. If you see that your industry gets an low open rate on average, there’s a real opportunity for you to create more relevant, engaging, and personal emails that will drive better rates.

​​Competitors/gap analysis – Do your competitors send emails more frequently? Are their emails better designed than yours? Use this as your benchmark, but don’t rely on it solely. Instead, check out Really Good Emails, get inspired by companies outside of your industry so you can create unique, relevant and valuable content for your audience.

MailNinja's Really Good Emails account

​​The strengths – What’s already working in your email marketing program? Dive deep, find out, and do more of the same. That’s the whole purpose of A/B split testing—creating small experiments, finding out what works, and scaling.
​​
​​The weaknesses – Is there anything within your current email approach, email design, or email marketing strategy, that you know may be actively keeping your engagement levels down?

Perhaps you need assistance from an email marketing expert, or you may prefer to use free resources (like Really Good Emails) for inspiration, so you can improve things like your subject lines, personalization tactics, and email formatting, so your emails work on mobile and desktop perfectly.
​​
​​The threats – As part of your competitor analysis, make note of your top competitors. How can you use email marketing to convert customers from a competitor, will discounts/welcome offers work, or is it better to produce more unique, relevant and valuable content, more often?

Graphic with the words strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats

​​Consumer/audience – This part is all about the relevancy of your emails. It’s vital you create relevant content for your audience, focusing on the language you use, the design aesthetics, the offers, and promotions. It’s paramount to consider the audience perspective, not your own. Will they be expecting discounts? More frequent emails? Maybe current customers want rewards for their loyalty.
​​
​​Interest/demand – Which of your products are performing best? Your emails should contain a balance, so you can boost demand for the products you might want to sell more of, as well as give people what they want by showcasing products your audience know and love. You may want to drive interest without selling, by focusing on features, benefits, and brand value, rather than cost.
​​
​​Social trends – Review your social channels to pinpoint trends you can repurpose in your emails. Social media is constantly evolving and coming up with new trends, so it’s important you move quickly and align your emails with what’s top of mind.
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​​Social proof – Do you have reviews or positive experiences from other customers that you can show off? Email and social work hand-in-hand, so bridge that gap by sharing social content in your emails, such as customer comments. Also, use reviews sites like Trustpilot to enhance trust and authority. If you have awards, showcase them and show leads you’re trusted.

​​There are 6 types of social proof, as shown below:​​

Devrix Social Proof graphic

Source

Seasonal opportunity – If you’re a clothing retailer, think winter and summer ranges. If it’s the school holidays, perhaps discounted services/products. If it’s Christmas, capitalize on the increased demand and send out more emails, such as countdowns to Christmas.

You always want to be looking for that golden opportunity. Whatever market you’re in, it will always be changing, and new trends will appear. It’s all about finding the gap available to send out those marketing emails that will work. Always be on your toes, checking the news and stuff that’s trending on social media, so you can tailor your email campaigns to put them in a position where they’ll deliver.

​Relevancy

​​In this section, we are focusing on relevancy, creating content specifically for your audience, so you can create a better on-brand and personalized experience with your emails.

​​Emotional triggers – There are a few emotions you can look at triggering with your emails, here are some ideas:

  • Trust
  • ​​Value
  • ​​Belonging
  • ​​Happiness
  • ​​Love
  • ​​Curiosity
  • ​​FOMO (fear of missing out)
  • ​​Shock/surprise
  • ​​Exclusivity
  • ​​Competition
  • ​​Guilt
  • ​​Anger
  • ​​Pride

​​Remember: emotions drive actions.

​​Desire/motivation – the AIDA model looks at the following steps:

A graphic of the AIDA model, attention, interest, desire, and action

Source

​​This model is a great place to start when understanding the “motivators” for action in your email campaigns. Let’s break this down:

​​1. Attract attention: Your email must attract the recipient’s attention. Writing short, effective subject lines is a great way to do this. Clickbait is a highly effective way to grab attention, but use it wisely, as these tricks are now widely known and often ignored.

​​2. Maintain interest: Once your email is open, the reader will spend an average 13.4 seconds reading your email. This may sound like a long time, but if your message isn’t clear, your copy is too long, your main CTA is too far down, or your email isn’t optimized for mobile screens, then you simply won’t drive engagement and maintain interest.

​​3. Create desire: If your message is clear and your subscriber is interested, it is now your mission to persuade the subscriber to click through to purchase your product, your service, or perform the action you want. You do this through having an appealing offer or product.

4. Take action: As soon as the desire is there, this must be transferred into action, that is, the purchase or click through to your website.

In email marketing, the AIDA model can even be boiled down to just AA—Attention and Action. Of course, interest and desire are important factors, but in the case of email, we’re going to assume they’re assumptions, as your audience is already subscribed to your list and have explicitly said they want your emails.

​​Audience demographic – If your audience spans across different ages and genders, you want your emails to be applicable to each demographic. This is where email segmentation is your new best friend, as it can help you to tailor content to each type of reader.

On signing up to your email list, add a few extra fields to capture more data. If they already exist, then try running surveys to gather more information from your audience.

This is where ecommerce and email are great together, as you are gathering layers of data from your audience and customers, through customer signups, email engagement, and purchase history. This is where CM Commerce comes in, since you can sync it with your Shopify or Woocommerce shop right away to start ecommerce email marketing.

CM Commerce example

​​WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) – Remember, it’s about your audience. Your product might be amazing and have all of its unique selling points, but what are the direct benefits to your audience if they were to buy it? Is it B2B or B2C, and can you apply the benefits to certain individuals and companies?

​​Personal – Each subscriber isn’t just a number. They have a name, likes, and dislikes, and you generally know their age and what they tend to search for on your website (If they have actively visited your site already that is).

Personalize your content to every reader, you can use tags to insert the recipient’s first name, or even to promote your local store, so your readers know certain products are in stock or on offer.

​​Culture and Localization – It’s not just about translating your email content for French or Spanish subscribers: Your emails should incorporate cultural awareness. Think about local dialect, trends and tastes, hobbies, slang, etc.

 

 

Timing

​​Subscriber timezone – Think about where your subscribers are located, do you want campaigns that are sent out at the same time in your time zone, or would it be better to accommodate everyone, and send out your emails at the same local time for all?

​​Best open rate time – This point emphasizes the importance of testing and keeping an eye on industry benchmarks. These can change depending on the year, or if a global event (such as COVID-19) affects the economy.

​Execution

Value proposition – This point is all about taking what your product or service does, and emphasizing the benefits to the reader. An important thing we should point out however, is that the value-adding shouldn’t have to contain buzz-words or complex phrases. This overwhelms your readers, and it adds no value to your offering.

​​Keep things industry-specific, and value the intentions of your reader. With your email campaign, you want something that gets readers to your website, actively improves engagement, and improves your brand awareness.

​​Design – Think about how you can deliver your emails with a design that incorporates your brand image, and the relevant products you are offering. We’d recommend using a mix of text and images (60/40 split), taking close attention to the fold line, the inverted pyramid, and your CTA, (or CTAs if you have multiple).

The invisible pyramid is our favorite, as it is a great way to introduce what a product of yours does, then turn the attention to the reader, possibly asking them a question related to the benefits they will receive, and directing them down towards the button.

​​Color psychology – Think about the colors that are associated with both your brand, and what’s emotionally captivating.

​​As you might expect, design, color, tone, and language, are incredibly important to perfecting your email formula. If you’re new to the world of effective email design, you can always use our industry-leading templates and guides.

Wrap up

As we’ve seen, the ORTE model focuses on the four pillars for successful email marketing. Looking at Opportunity, Relevancy, Timing, and Execution. The goal is to align these four areas so you are sending highly targeted and personalized email campaigns to your audience. The sweet spot in the middle is where you want to aim for.

​​So, next time you start planning your next email campaign, try to do some market and competitor research upfront so you know what you’re sending and why, craft the content, look at the design and copy, then your timing.


​​This post was written by Doug Dennison, CEO at MailNinja, the UK’s leading email marketing agency. Their flagship email campaign management service allows companies to fully outsource their day-to-day email marketing.
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The post The ORTE Model: MailNinja’s Guide to Creating Emails that Get Results appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

Put Some Color in “The Room Where it Happens”

This article is part of a larger series that focuses on diversity and equity in marketing through the amplification of Black and racially diverse authors. As a company, we are committed to identifying actions we can take in the fight against racism and injustice, and elevating BBIPOC voices is paramount to inspiring change. Follow along and read other posts in this series here.


 

This post is authored by Angela Connor, Founder and CEO of Change Agent Communications.

Marketing, communications and advertising professionals know “the room” I’m referring to very well. From an agency perspective, it’s a room that not many people get the opportunity to spend time in.

This is a special room, reserved for the cream of the crop—the persuasive, the impressive, the charismatic, the experts, the leaders. The winners. These are the people who can sell who they are and what they do so well that they are most often on the receiving end of a “Yes,” to their ideas, being deputized as the “Chosen ones,” while all others are forsaken.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m talking about the pitch room: The room where it happens. What begins as an invitation to present in the room evolves into a project that sometimes feels like icing a 35-layer cake, no detail forgotten. Getting there is exhilarating and exhausting. Emotions run the gamut. Sometimes there’s yelling, always a spirited debate, an abundance of late nights and maybe even tears. Stress levels are high because there’s so much at stake when you’re part of the team charged with bringing home the bacon. There’s also some fun leading up to it when you’ve got the right team with the right chemistry, all who are in it to win it.

It’s an honor and a privilege to be on the pitch team. I’ve been on it more than my fair share. I’ve been part of some amazing wins and a few gut-wrenching losses. I’ve traveled on red-eye flights, run full-speed through airports with my colleagues, sat in the back of minivans, crammed in a few sedans, and even rehearsed in hotel lobbies—honing my skills over the years as part of pitches big and small. In fact, I believe that’s one of the reasons I’m good at selling myself and my own agency today. It’s hard to lose a spot on pitch teams once you’re established as being good in the room.

I suspect that, from the brand or company side, it is also a privilege to be in “the room where it happens.” Though it may be daunting to review agency responses, whittle them down to a list of finalists and then sit in on lengthy presentations—all usually within a very compressed time period—and then participate in a huge decision with a ton of money at stake in most instances, it’s an important and coveted position to hold. There, too, you will find the cream of the crop, the leaders, the introspective, the key stakeholders. The decisive, whose input is highly valued by the organization.

Now let me tell you what is missing from this room where it all happens, on both sides: people of color, particularly African Americans. I was always the only one on my side, and of all the pitches I’ve experienced, I know I’ve never seen more than five to seven African Americans total, and I may be exaggerating by one or two.

It was so rare that when I did see someone who looked like me, we usually had a moment. A handshake during introductions that lasted a few extra seconds than the others or a look that had meaning to both of us but that no one else noticed. And on a few occasions after we’d presented, I even got a motherly hug.

For me, it was usually an African American woman, slightly older than me, who would give me what I coined “the sister wink.” I even opened up one day and told a few of my colleagues about this wink, explaining what happens when a Black woman on the brand side would see me, another Black woman, lock eyes and tell me without saying a word how proud and delighted she was to see me—and that her colleagues would see me as well.

Sounds like a heartfelt warm and fuzzy tale, doesn’t it? Well, it isn’t. You know why? Because it’s not right, and the fact that it happens speaks to some of what is very wrong about the lack of diversity in both agencies and marketing teams in companies across the country, which also speaks to the opportunities afforded (or not) to those who could or should be in “the room where it happens.”

For an industry charged with, and supposedly rooted in, connecting brands with their target audiences, the lack of representation of those audiences in the increasingly fragmented, ever-evolving media environment we live in today is stunning. No, shameful.

Oddly enough, if and when there’s a call for a multicultural campaign, the people who match the demographics sometimes magically appear as an option for being in the room, or better yet, a partnership with another agency must be established to make it appear that the agency is diverse and represents the audiences the brand is trying to reach. I know you know what I’m talking about.

It’s a little hypocritical in my opinion to do this, but what’s worse is not learning from having done it. If you come back after that partnership and fail to hold a mirror up to your own organization, ask tough questions, scrutinize hiring and promotion practices, and make diversity and racial equity a priority, you’re contributing to the problem.

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are not and should not be matters of convenience. You don’t parade a group of people out when the RFP (Request for Proposal) calls for it but never consider them outside of that. It must be part of your internal DNA to be sure that everyone can get a seat at the table. Then you must invest in them and prepare them for a coveted spot in “the room where it happens.”


Angela Connor is the Founder and CEO of Change Agent Communications, a two-year-old boutique PR and Strategic Communications Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, that helps organizations navigate change and communicate when the stakes are high and they have stories to tell.Angela Connor is the Founder and CEO of Change Agent Communications, a two-year-old boutique PR and Strategic Communications Firm in Raleigh, North Carolina, that helps organizations navigate change and communicate when the stakes are high and they have stories to tell.

She’s a veteran journalist and speaker, author of “18 Rules of Community Engagement,” and very recently launched a new consulting practice within her firm called “Now Look Inward,” and an accompanying podcast, which she calls a challenge to Corporate America to sweep around its own front door, get its house in order and make Black voices matter throughout the organization.

Committed to serving the business and creative communities in her region, Angela opened Triangle Podcast Studio in April, and launched the inaugural Women Inspiring Women Conference in 2019.

Angela also pens a weekly newsletter called Women Inspiring Women Weekly.


Visit this page to see more in the series, or check back for our next guest post. 

CM Group is a family of global marketing technology brands including Campaign Monitor, CM Commerce, Delivra, Emma, Liveclicker, Sailthru and Vuture. By joining together these leading brands, CM Group offers a variety of world-class solutions that can be used by marketers at any level. Headquartered in Nashville, TN, CM Group has United States offices in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, New York City, Pittsburgh and San Francisco, and global offices in Australia, London, New Zealand and Uruguay.

The post Put Some Color in “The Room Where it Happens” appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

Collect More Emails in 2020 With These 5 Methods

This is a guest post from Mark Spera at Growth Marketing Pro.

While we used to drop business cards in fishbowls, the internet has ushered in a new era of lead capture.

Email marketing is the gold standard in customer communication in 2020. According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective than social media at reaching and engaging consumers. Why? Because most emails are opened, and email is native to our mobile phones.

So, if you want to keep pace with your competitors, you must collect emails and engage your users with tools like Campaign Monitor. Let’s take a look at some of the best ways to collect emails.

1. Capture leads.

If you want more leads, you need to give your customers the chance (or multiple chances) to give you their email address.

To do this, make sure that email capture is early on in your marketing funnel. If you’re asking a customer to download a product, for example, consider collecting their email address early in that flow. Asking them early on like this will mean that you can re-engage with them as you need.

And, before you ask, yes, exit intent pop-ups do still work. For those unfamiliar, an exit intent pop-up is one that populates as your user moves to exit your page. It may sound obvious, but it does really work. In fact, 10 to 15% of your users can be “saved” by using an exit intent pop-up.

Learn to capture leads now. Watch the webinar.

2. SEO

SEO is the holy grail of digital marketing because it can mean free traffic forever.

It’s also one of the best ways to capture leads. Companies like Mint collected over 30,000 leads as part of their launch strategy, just by writing great content.

SEO can be boiled down to a few things:

  • Keyword research: To do well in SEO, you need to know what users are searching for. Once you understand which keywords people are utilizing, you can begin to create content that’ll answer those queries. Using the right keywords in your answers will tell Google that your content has the right answer for the question, leading it to populate your page on Google. Before you know it, you’ll have clicks coming in for free.
  • Great content: You can have all the keyword data in the world, but, without translating that data into great content, you have nothing. Creating content that people want to read is crucial to your SEO success, so make sure you’re constantly analyzing your pages, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and keeping your content fresh.
  • Backlinking: Any good SEO strategy includes backlinking. Backlinking is when you get other websites or pages to link back to your site. It’s a covert way of showing Google that others rely on your page for information, and they should feel comfortable doing the same. Ask other sites in your space to help out or try writing guest posts. You can also put out press releases, add your site to directory sites, and reach out to industry news publications.
  • A good SEO tool: Making sure you have an SEO tool like SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz or GrowthBar to support your efforts will make life a whole lot easier. It can help you in all of the above tasks to make sure that you have the most successful SEO campaign possible.

Once you have your SEO traffic flowing, you’ll have a regular stream of lead generation. The more traffic you generate, the more leads enter your funnel.

3. Live chat

COVID-19 has only accelerated live chat proliferation. Whereas live chat was once optional, it’s becoming an obligatory part of the customer journey and customer success.

As you can see in the image below, interest in live chat has skyrocketed over the last few months. That’s because these tools are so effective in moving users through a sales funnel.

Live chat is also an incredible way to capture email leads. Tools like LiveChat allow you to capture email leads directly in the live chat widget. It makes your customer’s experience with the site a seamless transition, from browsing to entering an email to chatting.

4. Webinars

Webinars are still one of the most engaging ways to connect with users. And, since COVID-19, webinar software has absolutely exploded in popularity.

See our COVID-19 Webinar here.

Therefore, webinars are more effective than ever at harvesting leads for your business. In order to make sure your webinar is a hit, do the following:

  1. Come up with a topic that’s extremely engaging for your audience. Interview influencers in the space, describe a growth hack that works for your business or will help them optimize theirs, etc. Be specific.
  2. In the lead up to your webinar, do some things to generate leads for your webinar (also generating leads for your email list):
    • Partner with other companies/influencers in your space to advertise your webinar. Two lead funnels are better than one.
    • Enable sharing with a referral widget (native in some webinar tools), so that attendees can invite colleagues and friends.You could even consider supporting with retargeting ads on Facebook or Google.
    • Record the webinar and turn it into evergreen content, so you can continue capturing leads long after the webinar has happened.
  3. Use email marketing to engage the audience and make sure they actually show up.

This strategy is a foolproof way to use webinars to build out your lead list.

5. Facebook lead ads

Facebook traffic has (expectedly) increased since COVID-19 hit the world. Unexpectedly, though, is the drop in the price of Facebook ads. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook ad rates have continued to drop through the pandemic.

But, of course, there’s a catch. Conversion rates on Facebook ads are also seeing a decrease, which means that increasing your ad spend to take advantage of the low CPM might not lead to the high conversion rates you were hoping for. In fact, your conversion rates might not even be enough to make your ad spend worth it.

While this does mean you should be taking care with what you advertise on Facebook, it doesn’t mean you need to get rid of your ads all together. Take this opportunity to switch your ad focus to lead generating Facebook ads. This way, you’ll get the most out of your spend by increasing your lead list.

To implement this change, switch your Facebook promotion category from “Get More Website Visitors” to “Get More Leads.” When you make this change, customers will be prompted to enter their contact info instead of converting on a landing page on your website.

Lead generating ads like this have a much higher conversion rate than ads asking users to buy something. And for good reason. People don’t mind entering their email. They do mind, of course, entering a credit card. It makes sense.

Once you have that long list of leads, you can focus on email marketing to push them over the conversion finish line. And, with low CPMs, now is the time.

Own engagement with this guide.

Wrap up

Focusing on lead generation, SEO, live chat, webinars, and Facebook ads are all excellent ways to grow your email list and collect new emails this year. These advertising methods have become a natural part of people’s existence on the internet—you’re simply guiding them down the path.

Implementing any or all of these strategies is a surefire way to grow that email list and start capitalizing on email marketing.


Mark Spera is a San Francisco-based marketer and founder of Growth Marketing Pro, a blog he grew to 700,000 visitors a year in just 24 months.

The post Collect More Emails in 2020 With These 5 Methods appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

Step-by-Step Guide to Using Pinterest to Generate More Leads for Free

This is a guest post from Kevin Payne.

As marketers, we’re tasked with finding the best balance between paid and organic ways to generate leads for our businesses.

You’ve probably explored nearly every single platform and strategy to build your email list with highly qualified leads, including social media ads and content marketing through a blog or podcast.

But there may be one platform you haven’t leveraged yet, and it may surprise you: Pinterest.

In this blog post, we’ll tell you the whys and the hows of organic lead generation with Pinterest. Keep reading because, soon, you can maximize this free platform to grow your audience, scale that email list, and ultimately make more sales.

Want to own engagement in the face of algorithms and ads? Get the guide.

Why use Pinterest to generate organic leads?

If you’re wondering why exactly Pinterest can be of help you as a marketer, there are essentially 3 major reasons.

Pinterest isn’t social media: It’s a visual search engine

First, Pinterest is actually not considered a social media platform. It’s a social platform, true, but it works very differently than network sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Instead, Pinterest works exactly like Google. In other words, it’s a visual search engine.

Pinterest users navigate and use the platform similarly to Google: They create a search query and view the ones that appear most relevant to their search.

The main difference is Pinterest search queries don’t depend too highly on things like domain authority in order for your posts (in this case, pins) to be seen.

If anything, Pinterest’s algorithm favors fresh content over old ones, making it one of the best platforms for any business that already engages in any form of content marketing.

Pinterest users’ search intent is often transactional.

Search intent is an important factor to note when you’re deciding if Pinterest is the right platform for you.

Pinterest itself emphasizes that their users have the intention to purchase even before they decide to go on the app, where their platform becomes a place to “window shop” or collect and save photos, products, and articles online.

We also see this finding supported by a consumer study by Pew Research, which showed that users on Pinterest belong to a demographic that made an average of $75,000 annually.

Discover more research with our millennials vs. Gen Z study.

Pinterest users are ready to purchase, and many of their search behaviors indicate the same.

Source: Optin Monster

Consumers themselves say branded content makes Pinterest more useful.

Under its Business page, Pinterest has reported findings from their customer research that show that over 70% of their users find branded content on the platform useful.

Pinterest users are generally more accepting of branded content, even if some of the pins they’re seeing are promoted pins or the equivalent of an ad on Pinterest. In fact, 61% of users claimed they were able to discover new brands from these promoted pins, while half made a purchase after seeing one.

How to use Pinterest to generate more leads for free

Convinced that you should start a Pinterest marketing strategy? Look no further than this post because we’ll show you how to get started step by step.

1. Sign up for your Pinterest business profile.

When you create your account on Pinterest, be sure you’re signing up for a Business profile. This gives you access to many helpful features, including rich analytics to track your pins and conversions, as well as the possibility to create ads on the site.

Source: Pinterest

2. Claim your domain and other social accounts.

On your Pinterest business profile, you have the option to claim your website and other social accounts like Instagram, Etsy, and YouTube.

By claiming these, you’re able to get important attribution and analytics from pins and images associated with these accounts. For example, if a user pins a product photo from your ecommerce store to one of their Pinterest boards, Pinterest attributes these pins to your website or Etsy account.

Claiming your Instagram account also lets you auto-publish new Instagram posts into a dedicated board on your account. And claiming your YouTube channel also attributes pinned videos on Pinterest to your account, allowing them to auto-play if users are scrolling past them on the platform.

3. Optimize your profile for SEO.

When you’re setting up your Pinterest profile and unless you’re a big-name brand already, you should be optimizing for SEO. Pinterest users may be able to find your account simply from the keywords you include in your display name and bio.

Pinterest’s allowance for display names is longer than other platforms, so include as many keywords as you can.

For example, an SEO agency on Pinterest might include keywords like “SEO Agency,” or “Rank Higher on Google” next to their business name.

4. Set up 5-7 branded Boards.

Create 5-7 boards on topics that are related to your niche. If your business sells products, you can create boards on different product categories (e.g., fall fashion, winter boots for women, style on a budget, etc.).

These branded boards are what can entice users to follow your account. But they’re also the place where you’ll be pinning your content that leads users to check out your blog or lead magnets.

Five to seven branded boards are good enough to start, but, over time, as you notice more related sub-topics emerge from your content, you can add as many new boards as needed.

5. Enable Rich Pins.

Before you start pinning content, you’ll want to enable Rich Pins on your account. What Rich Pins do is read meta-data available on your content, be it blog post titles and excerpts, product descriptions and prices, and even links to download an app.

Rich Pins can give viewers of your pin additional context that can lead to better click-through rates and conversions.

Source: Simple Pin Media

6. Design long pins.

There are generally different post sizes that perform best on specific platforms. On Facebook, it might be landscape posts. On Instagram, square photos perform best. On Pinterest, you’ll get the best results with long, vertical posts.

You can experiment with varying lengths, but Pinterest recommends starting with a 2:3 ratio of 1,000 x 1,500 px.

There are different ways you can use long pins to get more leads for your business:

Blog posts

Blog post pins generally include a captivating headline and subhead that compels users to check out your post. You can combine high-quality stock images with text and a short CTA that encourages click-throughs.

Be sure your pin directly links to a specific blog post and not somewhere else like a homepage or service page. So, if a pin headline was all about how a personal injury lawyer could get more clients, it’d need to redirect users to a blog post precisely about that (see below).

Source: Rankings.io

Lead generation pages

Alternatively, you can design pins that link straight to a lead generation or sales page. Similar to the previous section, make sure that whatever is on the other side of your pin is reflected on the pin itself.

So, if, for example, a pin is all about how to take your business digital, the landing page you redirect to should point to that, either to a free lead magnet or a CTA to book a discovery call (see below).

Optimize these lead generation landing pages so they’re easy to browse and skim, but also clearly show users how it relates to the pin that led them to said page.

Example of an optimized landing page.

Product pages

Run an ecommerce store? If you take vertical product photos, you can instantly pin them on your boards and increase your chances of getting repins at the same time.

Here’s a great example from this product page on Spruce. The business uses long product photos that, if they were to appear on Pinterest, can attract attention of users. And, if they’d enabled Rich Pins, then users would automatically see details like price, availability, and even product descriptions.

Long product images also perform great on their own on Pinterest.

Source: Spruce

7. Test pin designs and layouts.

As with any marketing channel, you’ll want to experiment with different pin designs and layouts to see which styles perform best. You can test designs that stray away from your typical branding or create layouts that highlight different elements first.

Here are some ideas on how you can test pin designs:

  • Size: Experiment with extra long pins and standard 2:3 pins.
  • Colors: Check if your brand colors pop enough on Pinterest or if using off-brand colors work for you.
  • Photos: Some pins like this one can do great without any photos on it, while others like this one may need photos to attract attention.

8. Optimize your pin descriptions.

Pins can be discovered organically if they appear as a search query result. Because of this, optimize your pin descriptions by sprinkling in niche keywords.

Be sure not to work these keywords organically into your descriptions instead of keyword dumping; you still want to tell users what your pin’s all about to encourage the most click-throughs.

For local businesses, use local SEO keywords that increase your chances of getting discovered by your community. For example, if a user in New York were looking for a local custom bouquet store, they might type in “custom bouquet New York” in the search bar.

So, if your competition wasn’t already optimizing for local SEO, you’d have a big head start.

Source: Blogging Explorer

9. Use different hashtag groups.

Pinterest allows up to 20 hashtags per post. Make the most of these by compiling possible hashtags for your content. As you explore the platform and look at other accounts in your niche, you might find new niche-specific hashtags to use as well.

Also, keep a rotation ready for different content categories or post types. So, if you have hashtags specific to Facebook marketing, for example, you’ll want hashtags that are specific to Instagram marketing as well.

One of the benefits of using hashtags on Pinterest is that they work a lot like social media feeds; fresh content shows up first, so, if you’re pinning in a timely manner, your pin will appear first for that specific hashtag.

Top results for the hashtag #facebookmarketing

10. Follow industry leaders and people in your audience.

By following other industry leaders and related niche accounts on Pinterest, you’ll be able to have a never-ending supply of content to curate on your boards. This shows Pinterest users that you’re saving content relevant to their needs and preferences, getting you more followers in the process.

To get more followers quickly, consider following people in your audience. You’ll find them on other similar accounts to yours. Following them is one way to get their attention, so, as long as you’ve got a significant amount of branded and curated content on your profile, they’re more likely to follow you back.

11. Request access to contribute to group boards.

Group boards are great for getting in front of larger Pinterest accounts’ followers. You’ll know a Pinterest board is a group board when you see collaborators’ icons on the lower left side of the board.

To determine a quality group board, make sure that it has a relatively good amount of followers and at least a few other collaborators.

12. Remember the 80/20 rule.

The 80/20 rule on Pinterest recommends repinning other people’s content 20% of the time you’re on the platform. While you’ll want to promote your content more often, it’s best practice to curate, so users see that you collect and share highly relevant content alongside your own.

13. Pay attention to your SEO performance outside Pinterest.

If a few of your blog posts are already ranking on search engines organically, you can create pins based on those blog posts’ keywords.

While Google and Pinterest users may have different search habits, there’s still the very real chance that your Google users are searching for the same thing on Pinterest—but, with Pinterest, you just get higher chances of getting discovered even if you aren’t on the first page of Google just yet.

If you’re not sure how your current SEO strategy is performing, do SEO tests. These will also help you get the best results in future SEO campaigns because you base your next steps on real data.

14. Automate your pinning strategy.

There are several Pinterest-approved third-party integrations that let you publish to Pinterest on autopilot, saving you the manual process of uploading and repinning. Apps like Tailwind or Planoly can help you schedule pins and content for weeks and weeks, and the native Pinterest app allows you to schedule pins for an entire month.

Want more resources on building a marketing strategy for your small business? Browse the collection.

Wrap up

Have you ever considered including Pinterest in your pool of marketing channels? You may just be surprised by the amount of leads this platform can generate. To start seeing results, you’ll need to implement best practices straight away. Be sure to refer back to this step-by-step guide that shows you how to use Pinterest to get thousands of new leads for your business for free.

Kevin Payne is a content marketing consultant that helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.

The post Step-by-Step Guide to Using Pinterest to Generate More Leads for Free appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook: Which Platform Provides The Best Targeting Features?

This is a guest post from Dmytro Spilka at Solvid.

When it comes to digital marketing, very few strategies are as effective as social media campaigns in terms of boosting your traffic and attaining a strong ROI.

Today, SEO can account for much more than just locating and promoting specific keywords, and can help put you on course for the organic results you need online.

When it comes to social media marketing, your audience will be the key to a lot of the decisions you make. It’s vital that you know who your audience is, so you can actively look to appeal to them in an engaging way.

Fundamentally, social media marketing can bolster your SEO strategies and become a key player in driving conversions within your site.

There are plenty of platforms out there when it comes to social media, so which one is best at targeting audiences effectively?

Read on to see how LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook perform in terms of targeting features:

The value of social media targeting

Advertising takes on many more traditional forms and, when the topic is discussed, the first image conjured up is usually old-fashioned images of billboards or television commercials. When thinking of effective advertising, our minds are rarely cast onto the pages of social media.

However, it’s on the likes of Facebook and Twitter that advertising can really offer a fresh dynamic to marketers. Social profiles tend to offer a great opportunity for target marketing because of the wealth of information they provide marketers. Essentially, users can be targeted based on their interests, behavior, demographics, location, and even operating system for portable devices, among many other metrics.

Online advertising is a fast and cost-effective method of catering directly to your target audience. With almost three billion users, there’s plenty of audience to target online too.

There’s no better way of appealing directly to the audiences that you value the most than through advertising via social networks. Social media leverages specific filters that conform to market trends and target audience analysis, which significantly boosts the number of relevant clicks your campaign attracts, as well as sales.

In the case of platforms like Facebook, advertisers can target users based on their behavior on the network, as well as the groups they follow and their specified location. Advertisers can fine-tune the audiences they’re targeting with specific audience features, including targeting the company database or a decidedly similar audience.

Elsewhere, Twitter offers a large array of categories and allows marketers to select users and brand profiles for target marketing. Due to the platform’s follower-based framework, it’s much easier to see the likes and dislikes of active users, which can certainly be seen as a strength for some brands.

(Image: Marketing Charts)

The raw data shows that social networks are a leading source of inspiration among users looking to make a purchase online.

Behavior targeting, or interest-based advertising, operates by analyzing large swathes of users’ internet browsing patterns. As a result, marketers can build ads that cater to all users who behave similarly, on the educated assumption that they’ll be more receptive to the advertising material. This form of marketing is wholly transparent, safe, and even empowers internet users by delivering only the most useful and relevant content to them.

This form of marketing works by grouping users together based on their previous internet surfing actions and ads are delivered based on their shared interests. This action is also strong when it comes to retargeting users, and the collated date of audience members can be used to create look-alike audiences on Facebook ads manager too.

So, now that we’ve explored some of the key assets of social media targeting, let’s take a deeper look at what some of the world’s largest social networks have to offer, in terms of targeting features:

LinkedIn targeting

(Image: MarTech Today)

LinkedIn is certainly the most significant platform online today when it comes to giving marketers access to an audience of executives, decision-makers, and key personnel within a company.

Advertising on LinkedIn offers access to over 500 million users—80% of which are key members of their respective businesses. There’s around nine billion pieces of content published on the pages of LinkedIn each week, so targeting is essential. Luckily, this particular network offers a wide range of features to access audiences.

Source: LinkedIn

One of LinkedIn’s most successful targeting features comes in the form of Sponsored Content. These are the native ads that run in the LinkedIn feed across numerous devices.

Sponsored Content is the easiest way for engaging your target audience on linked in, and is particularly flexible in the type of ads it supports. Marketers can show off your company culture through the medium of videos, testimonials, text-based content, and more.

(Image: LinkedIn)

Creating sponsored content on LinkedIn is straightforward too. Simply make sure you have an account set up and click “create new ad” to set up a sponsored content campaign.

Another excellent LinkedIn targeting feature comes in the form of Sponsored InMail. The beauty of LinkedIn comes in the form of its excellent messaging platform, and Sponsored InMail helps marketers to make the most of this function and advertize strategically.

Source: LinkedIn

To set up Sponsored InMail, there are plenty of great options that help users to select the type of campaign that best suits them.

(Image: LinkedIn)

After this step, set up the sender of your ads and begin work in crafting your subject line and message content. LinkedIn even offers users the chance to add a personal address on each email sent to ensure that users will feel that much more valued. It’s even possible to set up a LinkedIn Lead Gen Form to collect quality leads from your ads.

Source: LinkedIn

Finally, LinkedIn Text Ads make for an excellent, more cost-effective and discreet way of targeting users. They appear on the right-hand side or top of a feed and allow marketers to use space to create a PPC or CPC campaign.

This can also be done with relative ease, as long as you have an accessible LinkedIn profile. Simply select “set up campaign” to begin crafting your Text Ads content.

Twitter targeting

While Facebook is primarily a social network-focused on community, and LinkedIn is heavily business oriented, Twitter truly is a global product. Users are free to interact (and, in many cases, argue) with somebody on the other side of the world with relative ease.

This makes Twitter’s Geotargeting feature particularly powerful for marketers. This means that local and international businesses alike can effectively advertise to the right people at the right time based on their nation, region, city, postal, or zip codes. Twitter’s wide array of different regions is helpfully broken down online too.

To set up Geotargeting, simply navigate to the “targeting” section of your Twitter Ads interface when creating or editing a campaign. Simply type in the area you’d like to target in the search bar. If you’re planning on targeting multiple areas, simply press the “Import Multiple Locations” button.

Source: WordStream

Twitter also has an excellent feature that lets marketers target users who’ve already interacted with their company online. This is particularly useful, as it indicates that they’ve already shown some form of direct or passive interest in the company.

Tweet Engager Targeting lets you choose whether you want to showcase your ads to people who’ve fully interacted in your brand or simply viewed previous tweets, and there’s a dropdown option to help users to decide which ads to display to targets too.

This can be actioned within the retargeting section of your Twitter Ads interface, and currently stands as a fairly unique feature across social media.

Source: WordStream

Finally, it’s worth acknowledging Twitter’s Tailored Audiences feature for targeting users. Because of the social network’s follower-based framework, it’s easy to categorize users based on their interests.

With Tailored Audiences, it’s possible to target users based on a mind-boggling array of metrics.

Facebook targeting

(Image: Facebook)

Arguably Facebook’s most exciting targeting feature comes in the form of Lookalike Audiences. This is a way of reaching new potential customers who are likely to be interested in your products because they’re similar to your best existing customers.

Lookalike audiences are built on users who have a significantly similar range of interests, demographics, and locations as your existing customers, meaning that they’re more likely to be interested in your company too—sociologically speaking.

To set up a Lookalike Audience campaign, you need to ensure that you’re the admin of the page or pixel you’re creating it from. Simply click on “Audiences” on your Ad account and then “Lookalike Audience” before selecting your source data.

Another significant Facebook feature comes from its strength in Demographic Targeting. With demographic targeting, you can set up precision-based campaigns that’ll save you money.

As you can see from the image above, Facebook even provides a useful gauge that can show approximately how broad or specific your campaign will be.

With Demographic Targeting, you can tap into the wealth of information Facebook has on its millions of users and build ads that focus on their age, language, gender, relationship status, level of education, type of work, device, location, interests, and plenty more metrics.

To perform Demographic Targeting, simply use your Facebook Manager account and press “+ Campaign.” After setting your marketing objectives, you’ll be asked to select your audience. Use the metrics on the right-hand side of the screen to help you fine-tune your potential audience and create a sample size that’s both affordable and effective.

As with any marketing campaign, the ultimate goal is to see which ones work and bring the desired conversions and identify those that are draining the budget.

Source: Finteza

WordStream and AdEspresso are helpful tools to manage and optimize your Facebook campaigns. Similarly to the aforementioned tools, WordStream can help track conversions and optimize the effectiveness of your campaigns.

It’s also important to set up Google Analytics goals to be able to see where conversions are coming from, be it trial signups, digital downloads, or direct purchases.

To do that, go to Conversions > Goals in your Google analytics dashboard.

Which is best for your business?

When it comes to deciding which social network is best to launch your targeted ads, it’s important to note that these platforms play to their strengths very well in terms of marketing.

LinkedIn’s professional outlook is palpable as Sponsored InMail helps to maintain a level of business-like formality to the act of advertising.

Whereas Facebook is well aware of its massive user base and lets marketers whittle down millions of audience members accordingly with huge metrics based on an array of variables.

Twitter, on the other hand, prioritizes its more global outlook with Geo-targeting functions that can place products and services under the noses of the audiences who matter most.

As a marketer, it’s important to take a look at the type of campaign you want to launch, and judge each social network on these merits. Remember that marketing often involves being in the right place at the right time, so take the time to make sure that place is the best social network for your campaign.

Dmytro Spilka is the Founder and CEO at Solvid, a creative content creation agency based in London. Dmytro is currently a contributor for Entrepreneur, SEW, ClickZ, TechRadar, Social Media Today, WooRank, SEMRush, and ITProPortal.

The post LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook: Which Platform Provides The Best Targeting Features? appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

Improve Conversions With These 5 Google Ads Extensions

This is a guest post from Dmytro Spilka at Solvid.

The web is full of companies vying for consumer attention—and the conversions that come with it.

In an industry that’s congested with PPC marketing, it’s important for you to use all the resources you can to stand out.

Google Ads extensions give your ads the best chance possible of getting noticed. They can bring an edge to your campaign, improve your quality score, and can ultimately make the difference between your ad and someone else’s.

But what exactly are Google Ads extensions and how can they help you improve PPC conversions? Read on to see the most effective extensions out there, along with how they can fit into your campaign.

Need help with reporting? Get the guide.

How ad extensions work

Ad extensions operate as additional snippets of data that expand your ad, making it more useful to readers. Ad extensions can include a range of valuable data, such as telephone numbers, further links to your web pages, and reviews from sellers, among other things.

Fundamentally, if you have a clear idea of the goals that are driving your ad campaign, it’s possible to utilize extensions that can drive the right conversions among your target audiences.

What’s more, it doesn’t cost more for businesses to tap into the potential of Google Ads extension options.

While it’s possible to manually input valuable data pertaining to your extensions, some are fully automated, meaning that Google Ads automatically adds extension information to your advertisement, including click-to-call and automated calling services, as well as sitelink extensions.

Source: VisualCapitalist

When it comes to PPC marketing, no other organization comes close to the power of Google (Facebook comes closest). The world’s favorite search engine has been used by businesses for decades and, although we can see that Facebook’s appetite for digital ads is growing exponentially, it has a sizable task in catching up with Google.

Plus, Google experiences around 3.5 billion searches each day, a figure that goes some way in illustrating the strength of the search engine’s dominance.

With such a vast market to tap into, it’s no surprise that marketers are desperate to gain PPC prominence while using Google Ads.

Considering the fact that there’s an ongoing battle for top positions, especially within high-competition niches like insurance, the advertisers are pushed to utilize every opportunity possible to stand out and attract the click.

But which extensions are the best performers? And how exactly can certain extensions help to skyrocket your conversion rates? Let’s take a deeper look at the power of extensions and the conversions they could bring your business:

1. Call extensions

Source: Search Engine Land

Call extensions provide interested parties with a direct link to a conversion. As you may be able to guess from the name, this function adds a telephone number to your Google Ads search ads.

If you work for a large, multinational corporation, there might not necessarily be a pressing need for callers to speak to your staff on the phone, but for more localized businesses, (e.g. restaurants, shops, etc.), the addition of a phone number can be the bridge necessary to build enough customer confidence to prompt a sale.

Learn to localize your emails.

Call extensions can be constructed at an account, campaign, or even an ad group level. If you create a call extension at group level, then your call exension will be on display then for that group’s ads.

This function is ideal if you’re a national or international business that still wants to offer options to local customers. By providing a local phone number, it’s possible to arrange appointments or special reservations for people living near your brick-and-mortar location.

If your business offers local services, be sure to combine call and location extensions in a way that allows searchers to see telephone numbers associated with their geographical location. This will work wonders in encouraging visitors to act on their interest sooner rather than later.

2. Sitelink extensions

A prominent example of sitelink extensions.

Source: Clicteq

The sitelink extensions offered by Google Ads provide extra links to support your ad and your target audience to pages that may carry more relevance to them, depending on their query.

In the example above, we’re able to see that Nike has added sitelinks to focus on new products, women’s training ranges, football equipment and running goods.

How do sitelinks perform such a significant role in boosting your conversions? Well, this process offers unique levels of insight into your PPC performance.

Using this extension, users can see which specific links are performing better than others and optimize their strategies accordingly. If, for example, your shop is gaining more traffic for one product over another, it could be time to shift your links.

It’s key to monitor which ads and sitelinks are bringing the most traffic and which are the most valuable to the business in the long run (not just the first click).

To do that, you should be able to see the entire behavioral flow of the click. You’d need to connect Google Analytics to your Google Ads account. Another way of tracking conversions is through tools like Finteza that provide rich insights into the traffic coming from Google Ads.

(Image: Finteza)

In the meantime, tools like WordStream enable advertisers to optimize ads and apply recommendations with ease.

As with many things in the world of marketing, it’s worth running tests to see which links are bringing more conversions. Be sure to construct short-term campaigns to fine-tune the type of links you’re including in your ads to yield the best results.

3. Callout extensions

Source: WordStream

Callout extensions via Google Ads help marketers to include extra lines of text to accompany their ads. The application of these extra lines is relatively open-ended—meaning callout extensions can be used to tell prospective customers about your brand or notify them of certain promotions or signup offers. They can also be added to your Search Network Campaigns.

This particular extension gives businesses the chance to invest a little more time in promoting certain qualities of their brand or offer an additional flourish in the form of a CTA.

4. Click-to-text extensions

(Image: Blue Frontier)

If you’re looking to utilize the potential of a mobile audience, then click-to-text extensions can invite prospective customers to begin their journey through your sales funnel, all with a simple SMS text message.

The beauty of click-to-text Google Ads extensions is that they offer users a fresh avenue in which to get in touch with your business in a way that suits them.

This particular extension can be utilized in the form of a non-intrusive prompt at the foot of your ad, and really helps in making your company appear more accessible.

How to get engagement (despite the ad blockers).

What’s more, click-to-text functions double as a CTA, inviting users to choose. This opportunity for communication among users has shown strong signs of boosting conversions for businesses.

In fact, Hallam claims that click-to-text extensions can boost click-through rates by as much as 17.2% online—a massive increase on the 6% standard for the company’s headline-only ads.

5. Price extensions

Source: SEJ

It’s also possible to add more value to your search ads through the potential of Google Ads price extensions. This feature allows businesses to broadcast the price of their products or services (up to eight are possible) within their search ads results, so potential customers have a clear idea of what you’re selling and how much it’ll cost.

Price extensions can be implemented as links directly to your site, so it’s possible for users to bypass your landing pages and find themselves right in the midst of your checkout pages.

While this form of advert is great for offering users a direct insight towards your price ranges and your product offers, it’s also the type of extension where searchers could click multiple links within one ad, meaning that you’ll ultimately end up paying for two clicks in one go—a slight inconvenience that, in many cases, will be outweighed by a vast array of benefits.

Wrap up

As you compete with other companies in your industry for Google rank and number of clicks, remember to implement these Google Ads extensions for best results:

  • Call extensions
  • Sitelink extensions
  • Callout extensions
  • Click-to-text extensions
  • Price extensions

By incorporating these methods, you’re improving your chances of being seen and your chances of converting even more prospects into customers.

Dmytro Spilka is the Founder and CEO at Solvid, a creative content agency based in London. Dmytro is a contributor for Entrepreneur, TechRadar, SEMRush, and more.

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How to Use Free Online Courses to Quickly Grow Your Email List

This is a guest post from Kevin Payne.

Before any business can make a sale, it first has to get leads.

Lead generation remains one of the most important processes you should be investing in, but, when it seems like everything’s been said and done, how do you differentiate from the crowd and score highly engaged and qualified leads?

In this blog post, we want to show why a free online course might be your next big lead generation tactic. Keep reading because we’ll show you why an online course is an effective way to grow an engaged email list quickly.

Read on to get the steps you need to create and promote your very own high-converting free online course.

Why use free online courses in your marketing funnel?

Curious about why a free online course should be part of your list building campaigns? Here are 4 compelling reasons.

You can provide instant high value.

While lead magnets like PDFs or workbooks also provide information or takeaways, an online course is able to deliver more value, as you take subscribers through different actionable lessons geared towards a specific learning outcome.

A course may also have higher perceived value than other types of opt-ins because of the scale of this type of opt-in. By giving a free opt-in with immense value right off the bat, you’re then positioning your paid offers as extremely valuable.

Subscribers are taken through the Know-Like-Trust journey faster.

Another reason a free online course is an effective addition to your online funnel is because it accelerates your sales cycle with your leads. An online course is a way to take subscribers through the Know-Like-Trust journey faster and in a single touchpoint.

Here’s exactly how a free online course takes subscribers through this journey:

Know. Through your course, subscribers already know your business and are beginning to know just what it is you can offer.

Like. By giving them multiple free lessons meant to help them attain a specific outcome, subscribers can appreciate the effort and scale your brand is giving them.

Trust. An online course establishes your credibility and authority in the field. If you do the work and pack your course with great content, subscribers are more likely to trust your expertise faster than your competitor.

You give your subscribers multiple quick wins.

In the age of digital, people now more than ever are exposed to instant gratification and quick wins. As marketers, we know that delivering a quick win is one way to delight our subscribers and associate our brand with positive outcomes and results.

Because you can design a free online course with multiple lessons and each with a specific actionable next step for subscribers, you’re essentially giving them a quick win after each lesson. Unlike, say, a PDF that contains all the same information, in an online course, one lesson can give its own feeling of a win.

A free course is an extra touchpoint.

A study by McKinsey showed that people are more likely to buy from a brand after they’ve engaged with them via multiple digital touchpoints. This study only emphasizes the importance of omni-channel marketing and including as many touchpoints your market may interact with.

A free online course is an additional touchpoint for your brand. Combined with an effective lead nurturing strategy, existing social media campaigns, and other brand assets you might have, you’ll be more likely to convert these new leads into sales.

How to use free online courses to quickly grow your email list

Are you ready to design and publish your first online course to grow your email list? Just take a look at these steps.

Decide where and how to host your course.

Because online courses are only increasing in popularity, so too have your options on how to host and deliver your course. Here are some common options for online course hosting:

Third-party Learning Management Systems (LMS)

With a third-party learning management system (LMS), your course is hosted on a separate platform. Popular options of LMS include Teachable or Thinkific.

The pros of using a third-party LMS is that your free online course content is delivered in a streamlined manner that’s easy for subscribers to navigate, as well as having multiple integration options to connect to your email marketing provider.

But cons include added monthly cost, not being able to completely customize the look and feel of your course to match your website completely, and subscribers having to go to a completely different domain to access course content.

Source: Course Method

Self-hosted courses on website

One great alternative to an LMS is self-hosting your course on your website. This is one of the more cost-effective options, especially because you can combine low-cost website hosting and online course plugins like LearnDash to create and deliver your course.

Some course building plugins that allow you to self-host your courses on your website only charge a one-time fee instead of a subscription, and your subscribers don’t have to leave your website to access your course content.

Source: Blog Marketing Academy

Self-hosted online courses mean your subscribers don’t have to visit different domains to access course content.

Email drip courses

And yet another option to host your course is to use your existing email marketing provider to deliver your course content. Set up a drip campaign to deliver course content over a number of days to keep subscribers excited.

Make sure each lesson is in a well-designed email template to make it easy for subscribers to go through.

Zoom in on a specific problem your course will address.

Next, you’ll want to highlight exactly what problem your free online course can solve. For this step, it’s helpful to refer back to your buyer persona, so you can determine which problems of your customers are addressable with an online course.

Because your online course is meant to be bite-sized and actionable, commit to helping your customer with just one specific problem, instead of too many at once.

Source: L&T

Your buyer persona can help you identify one specific problem to solve for your target customer in your free online course.

Let’s illustrate this with an example.

Say a marketing agency identifies that one of their target customers’ pain points is improving their business’s SEO strategy, among others.

After evaluating their target customers’ typical path to purchase, they found that their buyers will often resort to trying to solve their problem by themselves before hiring a consultant or agency to help them instead.

Decide on main learning outcomes.

Once you’ve identified the problem you want to solve for your buyer, you can determine your main learning outcomes, which then inform the main content of your course.

Calling back the marketing agency example from the previous section: knowing what it knows about their customers’ needs, this same agency can create a free online course that shows their consumer exactly how to optimize their website for SEO with a few step-by-step guides.

Here are a few guide questions to help you set learning outcomes for a free online course:

  • By the end of the course, what should course takers know?
  • What terms, processes, systems, or tools should course takers be acquainted with by the end of the course?
  • What should course takers know how to do upon course completion?

Brainstorm other value-adding freebies to go with the course.

Another way to make sure visitors convert into course takers is to increase the perceived value of the free course.

While the main benefits or transformations your free online course offers may be enough in themselves, you might want to add extra incentives to both increase conversions and improve the course-taking experience.

Before you decide to create any new PDFs from scratch, do a content audit to check if there are existing marketing materials you can throw in together with your free course.

For example, a company like GetWeave was able to create a library of eBooks. If they were to create a free online course, they can repurpose some eBooks as bonus content to increase the value of the course.

Source: Weave

You can repurpose other free lead magnets to accompany your course.

Always end lessons with actionable next steps.

Tying in with our mention of quick wins in previous sections, design your course to give subscribers actionable next steps to implement your free course lessons.

These next steps can be one simple task that they can accomplish in a short amount of time.

For example, a free social media course about growing your Instagram following might have one lesson about optimizing your Instagram business profile.

The next steps for the course taker may be to implement what they learned about how to create a benefit-driven Instagram bio to get more followers and bio link clicks.

Design a high-converting signup page for the course.

Just like any lead magnet, a beautifully-designed landing page can greatly increase conversions and signups. For your online course, be sure to follow the best practices for landing page conversion optimization.

Specifically, you should:

  • Create a benefit-driven headline that shows visitors what the course is all about
  • Write effective copy that highlights the exact benefits and learning outcomes one can expect from your free course
  • Show mockups of lessons, PDFs, and bonus items to add tangibility to your offer
  • Use action words in your CTAs: “enroll now,” “take the course,” “get free access,” “start learning,” etc.
  • Over time, include any testimonials from course takers about the contents of the course
  • Practice landing page design best practices, including spacing, paragraph lengths, trust indicators, and the like

And, because over half of the total population is estimated to access the internet only from a smartphone, don’t forget to optimize your course signup page for mobile. Keep all signup elements, like buttons, above the fold to ensure the best conversions.

Source: Lead Injection

Create a drip email campaign to help pace course-takers.

To improve course experience for subscribers, add them to an email drip campaign that sends them reminders of when to check out new lessons.

If your course has 5 lessons, you can space each email reminder one day apart, so subscribers are prompted to check in every day.

Needless to say, this is the process you’ll already follow if you’re delivering your course content via your email service provider. But, if you host your free online course elsewhere, sending reminders will be a good practice to keep subscribers engaged.

Promote your course across different marketing platforms.

Maximize the power of your omnichannel marketing campaign by promoting your course across your existing channels. Here are a few ways you can start promoting your new free course to capture fresh leads:

  • Add links and CTAs in key areas of your website, including your header menu or pop-up forms
  • Talk about your free course on social media posts
  • Partner with influencers or key thought leaders in your niche to promote your course
  • Send cold emails to potential leads who may benefit from your course

Bonus tip: take subscribers through your sales funnel upon course completion.

After a subscriber signs up for a course, you can immediately take them through to the next step in your sales funnel: making a sale.

Leads who finish your free course are more likely to be warm. You’ve shown them your value, and they’re probably ready to buy from you straight away.

Freshbooks makes a good example of following up a high-value offer with making a sale. They offer users a free 30-day trial of their software and supply them with the option to learn the ropes using online self-paced courses.

So, after a subscriber has finished their free trial, together with the free learning resources, they’ll be more likely to purchase a subscription.

Source: Freshbooks

Wrap up

As marketers, it’s important to constantly look for ways to grow your email list quickly with highly targeted and qualified leads. An online course can be a great lead generation tool to have in your repertoire, best for its ability to instantly nurture and engage your target customers in ways like never before. Refer to this post to help you create a high-converting free online course and start seeing those leads flock to your email list.

Kevin Payne is a content marketing consultant that helps software companies build marketing funnels and implement content marketing campaigns to increase their inbound leads.

The post How to Use Free Online Courses to Quickly Grow Your Email List appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

Should My Campaign Still Include Email Marketing?

This is a guest post from Mike Kilburn at Novi.Digital.

In the early days of digital marketing campaigns, emails were a must for any business, and for the most part, they were incredibly effective.

As other marketing channels have emerged, however, there’s been talk of moving away from email marketing and toward other popular platforms, but that could be a mistake for many businesses.

This is because email is still a highly effective form of marketing. Read on to learn how, as well as the aspects of email that can completely transform a campaign’s effectiveness.

Is email marketing still useful?

While some businesses have pursued social media or paid media over the inbox, email marketing is still the best way to generate leads for any business.

This is because our dependence on email hasn’t changed over the years, only the way in which we use it. With over 3.8 billion active email users just a couple of years ago (and projected to keep growing), there are more email users than ever before across all age groups.

Get the intro to email marketing.

The importance of personalization

Personalization is integral to any successful email marketing campaign. The traditional blanket approach of sending newsletters to an entire mailing list has become increasingly transparent to an audience that’s more cautious than ever of being oversold products.

When a customer signs up to a mailing list, they’re effectively trusting a business to communicate with them directly. This trust can quickly be lost when they feel that they’re receiving emails that are completely irrelevant to them.

This is why personalization has taken a central role in any effective email marketing campaign. This personalization is generally broken down into three key areas that work best when implemented together:

  1. Who’s the customer
  2. Where are they in the sales funnel?
  3. How can the email’s content be personalized?
Get the email personalization guide.

1. Who’s the customer?

Perhaps the most obvious element that goes into effective email marketing personalization are the details of the person being contacted. This is affected by their geographic location, age, and past product/service interests.

For instance, Grubhub personalizes emails based on their customers’ geographic location, and in doing so, can send emails based on the weather of the day.

In this email, Grubhub encourages the subscriber to order in because of the weather outside. This is a perfect example of automation in email, localization, and segmenting by geography.

On the other hand, if a customer consistently receives irrelevant emails from a business, they’re likely to ignore emails from them in the future or even unsubscribe altogether.

Without this basic form of personalization, it can very quickly become apparent that a business is sending out the same information to everyone, regardless of relevancy.

2. Where are they in the sales funnel?

While any information that a customer has told you about themselves is incredibly helpful in personalizing your email campaign around them, so is their degree of interaction with your business.

Even the most well-crafted email will be useless if it’s sent at the wrong time. If, for example, a customer has signed up to your mailing list but never placed an item in a basket or inquired about a service, they’re very early in sales funnel.

The sales funnel is the series of stages in the customer’s journey that leads to some kind of conversion. Understanding exactly where they are in this journey and shaping your communication with them around this is called lead nurturing, which, when integrated properly, can lead to a remarkable growth in sales.

That doesn’t mean you can’t appeal to those who are early in the sales funnel: For new subscribers, you can hook them with a welcome email. This is a great opportunity to show them what your brand is all about.

For instance, just look at how Warby Parker’s welcome email discusses their mission, how they work, and even provides a playlist for new subscribers.

This welcome email introduces Warby Parker's newest subscribers to their brand and shares the company's value.

3. How can the email’s content be personalized?

In the same way that any information about a customer can determine which services or products they’re informed about through email, it can also be used to develop the content of each individual email.

Including a customer’s name in the subject header, for instance, is sure to catch their eye—far more than a general product update might. A customer’s name won’t always be known, but even something as simple as showing an awareness of how they’ve interacted with your brand is valuable.

Did they provide their details at a recent seminar? Or did they subscribe after purchasing a certain product? Fundamentally, it’s important to be aware that the way in which a customer has interacted with a business in the past will reflect the way in which they’re likely to interact in the future.

The email below from Ulta shows how you can use data to deliver a highly personalized experience, even if you don’t have the name of your subscriber.

This thank you email from Ulta does more than just check off a box. It uses personalization to deliver a great customer experience.

Source

Can email personalization be achieved easily?

The personalization of an email marketing campaign may seem like a significant amount of extra work when compared with traditional newsletters, but with automation, time can actually be saved while ROI is increased.

Email marketing automation tools work by collecting information about a customer or their actions, which then trigger pre-determined journeys for them. This could be as simple as a welcome email that includes a customer’s name, or a more sophisticated set of rules that sends offers to a customer based on their past product purchases.

In any case, by defining a set of triggers and rules for your email campaign with automation, significant amounts of time can be freed up to analyze each journey’s overall effectiveness.

What is lead nurturing?

An important part of any automated email marketing campaign is lead nurturing. As the name might suggest, lead nurturing involves understanding a lead and then using this understanding to guide them to the next stage of your sales funnel.

As a recent Invesp infographic revealed, nurtured leads spend 47% more than non-nurtured leads on average. This means that, when employed properly, nurtured leads not only result in more sales, but higher value sales. To begin nurturing leads, there are three distinct stages that must be understood:

1. Qualifying a lead

Understanding a lead is fundamental in determining how best your business should proceed in interacting with them to increase the likelihood of conversion. This begins when they sign up to your mailing list.

At this point, where you have no information on a lead, it’s vital that you determine what would be most useful for you to know about them.

Perhaps you’re aware that your business makes a large portion of its sales to those working within a specific sector. In this situation, it’ll likely be of importance to you that you know a lead’s occupation, so it’s worthwhile to find this out when they sign up.

Similarly, a lead can be qualified after signup. This could be done by tracking which pages have been visited by a customer with an account on your website or even tracking whether your welcome email was opened after being received.

In any case, understanding how far along in the sales customer is before beginning a campaign will ensure that it begins on the right foot.

2. Segmentation

After qualifying a lead, you can begin defining segments to place them, so that they begin a journey within your campaign that’s tailored to them. This can begin by segmenting with the small amount of information that they’ve provided you, such as their age.

Based on your past conversions, it may be that people within a certain age bracket are likely to engage with an email announcing a sale than others, so they could be added to a segment that targets this.

Often, you’ll begin to receive more information from customers over time, allowing you to place them in segments that are increasingly specific to them.

As a rule of thumb, the greater the detail of this segmentation, the greater the chance of moving them to the next stage of your sales funnel.

Learn more about segmentation by watching the video below:

 

3. Automate your campaign.

Once you’ve determined who your customers are and what segment is best to place them in, automation allows you to effectively carry out a campaign efficiently.

While automation comes with the obvious benefit of reducing the amount of work that manual personalization would usually entail, there are also significant tracking benefits that result from automation.

By automatically keeping a record of which emails have been opened, which links have been clicked, and even the pages visited, your business can gain invaluable data on a campaign’s success or failings.

This means that the time that’s saved from automating an email campaign can be fed back into refining its strategy.

Wrap up

A new and smarter approach to email marketing campaigns can mean a significant increase in your business’s ROI on its budget. With studies showing that effective email marketing generates $38 for every $1 spent, it’s more important than ever for business growth.

By utilizing recent developments in personalization and automation, a business can ensure that it’s reacting to its potential customers in real-time and trackable ways.

With an effective email marketing strategy, your business can ensure that leads are nurtured and analyzed, allowing for systematic, consistent, and predictable growth.

Mike Kilburn is the SEO Team Lead for Novi.Digital. He’s responsible for monitoring and improving website data, using SEO best practices, and developing long-term strategies for clients and collaborators.

The post Should My Campaign Still Include Email Marketing? appeared first on Campaign Monitor.

Top 10 Ways to Make Your Digital Marketing Efforts Successful

This is a guest post from Sreeja Burgula at Simplilearn Solutions.

If you want to succeed with your digital marketing efforts, it’s essential to study and understand all the channels and tactics that are available to you.

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing includes all marketing efforts that use the internet and electronic devices, connecting audiences and customers wherever they may be online.

Professionals can gain expertise in digital marketing and improve their digital marketing efforts through courses and content.

A few of the critical parts of digital marketing are as follows.

  • Search engine optimization (SEO). Channels that benefit from SEO include: websites, blogs, infographics
  • Content marketing. Channels that benefit from content marketing include: blog posts, ebooks and whitepapers, infographics, online brochures
  • Email marketing. Including emails that contain follow-up, customer welcome, promotions, tips for customer nurturing, blog subscription newsletters, etc.
  • Social media marketing. Including marketing on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest
  • Pay-per-click (PPC). For example, paid ads on Facebook, promoted Tweets, sponsored LinkedIn messages, etc.
  • Affiliate marketing. For example, affiliate links on social media accounts and video ads on the YouTube Partner Program
  • Native advertising such as Instagram advertising and Facebook advertising
  • Marketing automation. For example, the automation of lead-nurturing workflows, email newsletters, contact list updating, social media post scheduling, campaign tracking, and reporting
  • Online PR. Channels that benefit from PR efforts include: reporter outreach via social media, engagement through blogs or websites, and engagement through online reviews
  • Inbound marketing. Includes a full-funnel approach to attract, engage, and delight customers using online content through any or all of the methods mentioned above
Get the small business marketing guide here.

Why do businesses adopt digital marketing?

Digital marketing benefits the marketer and the customer in several ways. However, businesses adopt digital marketing strategies and tactics mostly because it’s quantifiable, results-driven, adaptable, and faster than any other form of marketing available to any company no matter its size.

That said, there are several specific reasons why businesses adopt digital marketing. These reasons include:

  • It provides an equal opportunity (competitiveness) for all business regardless of size and available resources
  • It’s more cost effective than traditional marketing
  • It allows targeted conversion of audiences and prospects to leads, subscribers, supporters, and customers
  • It enhances revenue growth by reaching larger and niche markets (global and local) in a more efficient way
  • It facilitates interaction with targeted audiences, wherever they may be online, including on mobile devices
  • It helps build brand reputation
  • It allows businesses to earn their audience’s trust
  • It influences prospects to take favorable action through CTA
  • It quickly provides analytics that enables businesses to grow

Recent trends in digital marketing

Digital marketing trends are constantly evolving as marketers find better ways to reach their audiences and as audiences demand better ways to interact with businesses.

Several trends have carried over from previous years, but the skill sets marketers need are constantly evolving. Just look at this research from McKinsey:

mckinsey institute research of digital marketing skill sets needed for digital marketing efforts

Source

As you can see from this research, digital marketing is both important and growing in scope. This means you should not only grow your own skills, but you should hire employees with a diverse group of abilities.

More resources to consider for digital marketing efforts

Skills are important, but digital marketing goes beyond knowledge: Resources are also vital to your digital marketing efforts.

Read on to learn about aspects you can add to your future campaigns.

1. Artificial intelligence. AI can be used in an unlimited number of ways to power customer segmentation, push notifications, retargeting, click tracking, etc., depending on your chosen goals and channels.

 How retail businesses are using AI and IoT

Source: Business Insider

2. Chatbots. Companies can have basic conversations with customers through chatbots at any time and get referred to a customer care representative when necessary.

3. User-generated content, like customer reviews, are not only convincing to other users, but they also cost the business almost nothing.

What marketers believe about User Generated content

Source: Social Media Today

4. AdWords spending has been on the rise since 2016 and continues to grow today. With the right strategy, businesses have managed to optimize and increase their ROI on paid advertising.

5. Omnichannel marketing. It provides a consistent and seamless communication process for customers across all channels. It’s an upgrade from multichannel marketing.

6. Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) and progressive web apps (PWA). These technologies provide faster loading time, better web experiences, and lower app development costs.

7. Email and marketing automation eliminates time-wastage, minimizes error, is cost-efficient, and increases collaboration between sales and marketing.

8. Voice search is increasingly being used as the technology improves and becomes more available to consumers through several gadgets including mobile devices.

Discover the results of our voice tech survey.

9. Video. Audiences are spending more time watching videos. Advertisers and marketers have noticed this and are building marketing campaigns to reach these audiences.

The increased use of video marketing

Source: Top Rank Marketing

10. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are both used by marketers in different ways to give audiences immersive experiences that’ll help them connect and engage with products and services.

10 ways businesses can achieve success in their digital marketing efforts

By combining the channels and tactics mentioned above, while keeping in mind recent trends and technologies that make it easier to connect, businesses can achieve success in their digital marketing in the following ways.

1. Be flexible and open to change.

Embracing the fast-paced changes in the digital marketing world and tweaking the new tools, strategies, and tactics accordingly, is a must for businesses to succeed and thrive in today’s world.

2. Set SMART objectives.

Setting Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound objectives that are consistent with your digital marketing plan is critically important. For example, a conversion objective can be to increase the average value of orders in online sales from $30 to $40.

3. Execute perfectly.

Once you create an objective plan for achieving your SMART objectives, you need to execute the plan on schedule. Executing perfectly will allow you to collect data and make changes to your plan to fit customer feedback. These changes also need to be executed quickly.

4. Exercise creativity throughout the process.

Right from the planning stage, be innovative and creative in using the content, as well as different integrated channels (omnichannel marketing) to reach your audience and target customers.

Content can include images, infographics, video, modernized websites, elegant designs, etc. Integrated channels can consist of mobile, social, web, phone, and physical stores.

Using integrated channels for digital marketing

Source: Multichannel Merchant

5. Target audience with market segmentation.

Understanding your target audience and reaching out to them wherever they may be is crucial for digital marketing success. Marketing segmentation is useful in helping marketers do this by studying audience behavior/characteristics and grouping similar traits, so that audience needs can be prioritized accordingly. Using AI and automation can help marketers achieve even higher levels of granularity and accuracy in an efficient way.

6. Diversify your channels, tactics, and strategies.

By understanding that no single digital marketing strategy is perfect, you become open to the idea that experimenting with different channels, tactics, and strategies is a critical part of achieving success.

One benefit of this mentality is that you’ll come across different audiences and customers that you didn’t know existed. These new audiences and customers can help you find new revenue streams.

7. Integrate your sales and marketing.

Integrating sales and marketing allows businesses to maximize every aspect of digital marketing because these teams will be working with a focused purpose as opposed to working against each other (knowingly or unknowingly).

Areas of maximization include the use of data, tools, seamless customer hand-over to different teams, etc.

Integrated digital marketing process flow

Source: Digital Deepak

8. Collect, measure, track, and analyze data.

Today, data is crucial not just to provide your customers with a level of service that they expect, but also to keep up with the competition. As such, collecting, measuring, tracking, and analyzing data in real time to get insights is simply a must for businesses to succeed in their digital marketing efforts.

9. Always stay connected to your audience.

Customers today want to communicate and know what’s happening with their chosen vendors at all times. Businesses must, therefore, create an always-connected environment to nourish this desire by not only providing up-to-date content, but also by availing tools (e.g., chatbots) that make it easier to receive and send the content.

10. Collect feedback and respond to it accordingly.

Use surveys, polls and comment forms to collect feedback from audiences and customers.

Once you get customer input, use it to inform which strategies are working and which ones aren’t, and then adjust accordingly. The constant improvement will lead you to digital marketing success.

Watch the quick video below to learn how you can get feedback from your customers.

 

Wrap up

There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for success in digital marketing. However, by incorporating different facets of digital marketing as mentioned above, you can achieve success in digital marketing.

Take a digital marketing course or two, read all the content you can, and most importantly, start testing campaigns.

Sreeja Burgula works as an SEO Specialist at Simplilearn Solutions. He has a keen interest in writing research-driven articles on IT Service and Architecture. He’s an expert in TOGAF and ITIL, bringing his SEO knowledge to keyword-focused technical articles.

The post Top 10 Ways to Make Your Digital Marketing Efforts Successful appeared first on Campaign Monitor.