Building an email list isn’t easy- 5 tips to help grow yours

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It’s tough out there. The market for your attention is huge! Everywhere there are free downloads, pdfs, coupons, ebooks, webinars, all created to drive your limited attention to one company and get you to give up your precious email.

How do you do it nowadays? It used to be that you could just put up a newsletter sign up form that says “Get the latest news” and the emails would start rolling in. Now, you really have to create an enticing offer to get someone’s email.

Like I said, it’s tough. But there are ways to grow it, and we’re going to go over that right now!

  1. Create a great lead magnet
    A lead magnet is an offer, something to bring the leads to your email list. This depends on what industry you’re in. For a clothing ecommerce site, you’ll want to focus more on discounts and promotions. For a marketing agency , SaaS business, or other content-driven site, you’ll want to go more towards information products like webinars, ebooks, checklists. Make sure this lead magnet is something relevant to your audience. You don’t want to be offering the top 50 people to follow on Twitter if you’re a marketing agency. A better lead magnet for you would be a 30 minute video on the do’s and don’ts of creating a marketing strategy.
  2. Create multiple ways to sign up
    Don’t just rely on your lead magnet, also have other ways to sign up. Maybe you have a weekly newsletter that gives out 10 marketing tips or you do webinars, or even a content upgrade for one of your more popular blog articles.
  3. Test out email sign up forms
    This could be something like Hello Bar, which is a bar that sits at the top of your website and allows people to sign up for whatever you’re offering. You can experiment with pop ups, scroll boxes, exit-intent pop ups. See what works, what doesn’t, and what people complain about. If you get too many complaints about a pop up, it may be time to remove it.
  4. Don’t ignore offline events
    If you’re heading to a trade show or have a booth at a conference, have a piece of paper or laptop on your table to collect email sign ups. No shame in trying!
  5. Add share buttons
    Don’t forget the power of sharing. On your landing page for your lead magnet or inside your emails, you should be using social share buttons and “email a friend” buttons to help spread the word. These buttons make it super easy for your readers to share without much effort.

 

Need even more tips? Here are some extra resources

25 Simple Ways to Grow Your Email List
Hubspot

How you can build an email marketing list as quickly as possible
Kissmetrics

List building 101: How to build an email list…and actuallu make money from it
Social Triggers

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Improve your social media process

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If you’re using social media to get the word out about your brand, talk to your audience, or just engage online, how are you managing it all?

If you’re like many small businesses, you feel the need to be on every platform: Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Google Plus, YouTube. And like most small businesses, you’re likely running all social media on your own. You barely have time to run the business, how are you going to have time to run your social media effectively?

Here’s the main takeaway from this article: create a process.

If you want to post daily, don’t literally post daily. There are tons of tools out there that will help you schedule posts to go out when you want them.

How do I create a process?

First, you want to determine which social media sites you want to be on. Don’t pick them all! If you’re selling home decor items or have a food blog, Instagram and Pinterest may be best for you. If you are your own brand, or are in the marketing world, Twitter is a great place for you to hang out. You need to find the 1 or 2 sites that are right for your business.

Next, set aside 1 day per month to create your social media posts. Now, this isn’t literally a whole 8 hour process, but it’s best to mark it off for social media if you really want to create great content and not rush yourself.

During this day you will be creating all posts for the next month and queueing them up in your social media tool (Hootsuite, Buffer, etc).

You can create these posts in a spreadsheet where you put each post in a new row and have columns for the URL, image, notes, or anything else. Having all posts set up like this helps you spread out topics you want to cover throughout the month, as well as identify holidays. You don’t want to be posting 5 days in a row of recipes, so spread those out.

Once they’re all created, open up your social media tool and choose when to schedule each post. Take a look at your social media analytics to see when your audience is looking at your posts (Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics).

For a site like Twitter, there is a constant stream of posts going through your audience’s feed. It may be a good idea to recycle some posts now and again to make sure your audience sees them. A tool that does this is called Edgar.

The same goes for most social media sites, don’t think that just by posting once that everyone saw it. It’s a good idea to repost some of your more important items like a good blog you wrote. Especially on Facebook, because the newsfeed is getting harder and harder to penetrate as a business.

Spend the rest of this day looking at your competitors to get ideas for posts, read up on the latest social media news.

What else should I be doing?

Now social media isn’t just a once a month thing. You need to be checking your accounts daily or at least a few times per week. This ensures you can respond to comments and messages in a timely manner. You don’t want your brand to be seen as slow or as ignoring a question. You want to be responsive.

Social media is very visual, so make sure you are posting great graphics. If you post a photo from someone in your audience, make sure you credit them. Also try making some graphics of your own. A site like Canva will help you make nice looking graphics to share.

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The Digital Marketer’s Toolbox

As a digital marketer, you have a lot of tasks you need to handle. Some days you’re creating spreadsheets, other days you’re implementing a new CRM for a client, Tuesday it’s researching keywords, and Friday you’re monitoring social media.

How can you get it all done without frying your brain?

Luckily there are tons of tools and apps out there to help you get the job done. Whether it’s SEO, social media, marketing automation, creating graphics, there’s a web app you can use (and often for free!).

Here are a list of tools you need in your digital marketer toolbox.

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Zapier

If you haven’t used them yet, you should. You can get a basic plan for free to test them out. Zapier lets you link up multiple web apps to work together. Rather than hire a developer, you can create a “zap” to take the contact information for anyone filling out your SurveyMonkey survey and put that info into Google Contacts or your CRM. Doing that manually would take hours!

There are tons of zaps you can do, and Zapier is constantly adding new capabilities each week.

Evernote

This is the best note taking tool out there. It syncs up to your devices whether it’s a laptop, desktop, or phone. You can save webpages, photos, handwritten notes, typed notes, and easily organize and search them.

Keep notes on uses of social media you come across, cool email campaign inspiration, ideas you have in the middle of the night.

Awesome Screenshot

This extension is something I use daily. If you’re on a PC and hate having to do “Print Screen” only to capture the entire screen and then go crop it, you will love this extension. It works on Chrome and Firefox browsers and let’s you decide how to get the screenshot, either doing a custom size, capturning the entire page, or even doing a timed screenshot.

Gmail Filters

If you’re a slave to your Gmail inbox, you need to get it under control with filters. If you’re not familiar, filters help you sort incoming emails based on nearly any criteria from the sender name to subject line to words the email contains. You can manage your inbox if you spend a little time creating these filters, and you’ll be much happier when you do.

DropBox

This is a given. If you’re working with a team whether in the office or remotely, you need to have a central place where all files are stored. The last thing you need is for the designer to be out of the office and you need that updated logo image that is saved on their laptop.

Trello

Trello helps you manage projects and stay organized now and into the future. You create cards for each task that needs to get done and can assign it to team members, change the status, write notes, and more. It’s a create way to visually see what everyone is up to and what needs to get done.

Toggl

A great time tracking tool to keep you on task and make sure you stay within time limits for certain projects. You can go back and see what is taking up a lot of your time and where you should be focusing more. Plus, it’s free!

Canva

If you like creating quick little graphics for blogs or social media and don’t have a designer or want to bother them for it, Canva is a lifesaver. It comes pre-populated with tons of beautiful templates to help even the most non-design savvy marketer create a nice looking image.

Dapulse

This is a project management tool based on boards. You can easily create new boards like “Social Media Management” and within it have different boards for each client, with tasks inside where you can attribute a team member, mark the status, write notes, and more. We use this here at MARKIT Group.

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How to test landing page headlines

Landing pages, are they the key to your next online marketing campaign’s success?

A landing page is really just a page with no navigation. It’s focused solely on a form, getting the visitor to sign up with no distractions. You throw some nice-sounding copy on there, a snappy headline, and a great looking image and you’re done.

But are you?

There are good landing pages, but there are also plenty of terrible ones. Don’t end up like those bad ones.

Create your headline

The headline is meant to grab attention. If it doesn’t you’re done for. The reader probably won’t read the sub-headline, or the rest of the copy you worked so hard on.

David Ogilvy said:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

So how do you write a juicy headline?

Unbounce has some magic formulas for writing landing page headlines that you can borrow.

  • Benefits- Show the benefit the audience will get
  • Loss aversion- Show what they will stop losing buy signing up
  • Questions

In their case studies, the “benefit” headline performed best, and the question headline came in last.

What makes a create headline?

Instapages mentions a few characteristics:

  • Clarity
  • Relevance
  • Empathy

They also have a few headline forumlas you can try out:

  • “To the point” headline: A direct headline that isn’t trying to be clever
  • “How to” headline: Gives an answer to a problem your visitors have
  • “Number” headline: Attach a number to your value prop
  • “Action” headline: Tells the visitor to do something that will provide benefit or prevent loss

A/B Testing

Now, don’t just come up with one headline and stick with it, you need to A/B test.

“I don’t have time for that”. Well then I guess you don’t want a high converting landing page. It takes experimentation to create the best headline, you probably won’t strike gold on the first one.

Buffer has an article on just how to A/B test headlines without going crazy or getting overwhelmed.

When A/B testing, you’ll need some tools to help, here are some tools you can use:

Optimizely

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Analyze the Results

Not all A/B testing results are the same. That’s where statistical significance comes in. You need to be measuring your results based on the amount of traffic and number of conversions. You can’t compare results just by looking at them.

You can use these two calculators to help make sure your results are statistically significant so you can implement that headline!

A/B Split Test Significance Calculator 

A/B Significance Test

Do you need more testing?

Now you’ve just spent a few days testing all these headlines to come up with the one that converts best. Do you need to be testing anything else?

There’s always more to test! But make sure you are testing each variable individually. Multi-variate tests, in which you test multiple items at once like a call to action and a headline, can produce confusing results.

Here are other variables you can start testing:

  • Calls to action
  • Copy length (long vs. short)
  • Images
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How to start collecting emails and what to do with them

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No matter what kind of business you are, you can benefit from email marketing.

“Email marketing, I call it spam!” You may be thinking this, and yes, there is a fair amount of email marketing that is spam. But if you write emails like a person, and treat your email list like you’d like to be treated, you’d be surprised how well email marketing can do.

How to get emails

You can get emails both through your website and from the “real world”. On your website, you should be offering something to your visitors that will make them want to give you their email. This is called a lead magnet. It is usually something of value like an eBook, checklist, videos, email course, or could even be a discount or promotional offer.

Choose a lead magnet that resonates with your visitors. If you sell healthy meal plans, a checklist of healthy ingredients to have in your fridge is a good piece of content. But a video series on exercise may not be so well received. Try creating a few lead magnets and A/B test them to see which does the best.

Alternatively, you could do a newsletter. But don’t just slap a form on your site and say “Sign up for the latest news”. Everyone does this on their site and it’s boring. Would you sign up for that? Let them know exactly what they will be getting from your newsletter. With the meal plan company in mind, they might say “Sign up and receive weekly tips on nutrition, recipes, and ways to stay healthy”.

Here’s a useful article from Hubspot with 25 ways to grow your email list.

When creating these email forms, try to add segmentation into them. If you have a lead magnet about vegan recipes and one about cooking for the family, those people should be placed on different lists. You can start sending “vegan friendly” emails to one list, and “family friendly” emails to the other. Segment as you see fit, there are tons of ways to start dividing up your list so you can target your message better.

Collecting emails in the “real world”, like trade shows or events is as simple as printing out a sign up form with a column for “Name” and one for “Email” and any other relevant information you may need. After the event, manually input those names and emails into your email client software.

What to do with your email list

They say the money is in the list, but that’s only true if you know how to market to them properly. One important thing to do is segment your list, if possible. This means putting contacts in different categories depending on their interests, purchases, or other information.

With the meal plan company, we could segment their list based on whether someone purchases a family plan or an individual plan, whether they get a vegan plan or an athletic portion. This will help us create emails that are more highly targeted to those people.

Sending the same email to your entire contact list is fine, but you will likely get tons of unsubscribes because people are not interested in the message. If you are writing an email that is supposed to appeal to everyone, it will appeal to no one. It’s almost impossible to write something that is of interest to everyone on your list.

Once you have some segmenting in place, it’s time to create emails that target those groups. You want to be speaking in terms that appeal to the audience. Don’t talk about yourself too much, talk about the customer.

Not every email should be about selling your product. Email is a very personal form of communication, and you want to be providing value to those that sign up. You want them to anticipate your next email and be excited to open it because it has such great content.

That doesn’t mean you can’t ever sell to your list. Sure you can! You just want to use a majority of your introductory emails as ways to provide value and build trust with your audience. They’re likely not ready to buy just yet, but when the time comes they will remember your great emails and want to purchase from you.

If you’re not sure where to begin, here are some useful articles to get you started:

A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Email Marketing
Kissmetrics
8 Effective Email Marketing Strategies, Backed by Science
Buffer

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Should you be doing webinars?

Webinars are all the rage in the marketing world. It’s like hosting a presentation but it’s accessible to anyone in the world. No longer do you have to book a conference room and do tons of local marketing only to get 10 attendees (if you’re lucky).

Webinars are easy to set up and if the content is good and you market it right, you can get dozens or hundreds of attendees.

What’s the point of a webinar?

The purpose of a webinar is to provide useful information to your audience. You want them to see you as an expert in your field and as a trust authority on the subject. Webinars are the new blog posts. Someone who attends a webinar is usually also a high value lead. Who else but the most interested in your subject would take a hour out of their day to listen to you present?

Webinars are also a great lead capture tool. When someone signs up for a webinar, you will usually ask for some contact information like name, email, company name, title, etc.

What should you have in place to do webinars?

First, you need webinar software.

There are tons of options out there, here are a few to check out.

Webinar Jam

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GoToWebinar

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Webinar Ninja

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Next, you need your sales funnel and emails in place.

Your sales funnel is what will take these new leads from webinar to purchase (hopefully). The emails you set up will remind people about the webinar up until the day, then may also send them a recording if they weren’t able to attend. If they did attend, they’re a good prospect to continue marketing to.

But don’t go straight for the sell too hard. You still want to keep establishing trust and authority with your lead, not scare them away with a hard sell.

It’s really up to you how you plan your email sequence. It’s a trial and error process and maybe you won’t get it right the first time, but you can tweak it and keep trying.

This free email course from LeadPages shows you just how to set up a webinar sales funnel.

This article from Wishpond will talk through how to set up a sales funnel using webinars.

Work on your presentation

Don’t let your presentation fall to the wayside, this is the reason people signed up for the webinar. They want to see great content and learn something new.

Don’t rehash boring topics like “How to set up a Facebook Page”, think of something related to your business. If you’re a marketing firm specializing in SEO, do something on local SEO tips or ways to optimize your on-page SEO. It will establish you as an authority on the topic and for those watching the webinar who want to do this but don’t have time, they’ll want to hire you.

Create your presentation in Powerpoint or Keynote. Don’t put tons of words on the screen, you want to let the slides be a guide. You will be filling in the blanks as you speak. You don’t want everyone reading the slides and missing what you say.

Now you need to practice. Don’t think that just because you created a slideshow means you’re done. You need to be charismatic and fun to watch. People will tune out if you’re monotone and dull.

Just put the finishing touches on the slides and your pitch (which usually happens at the beginning so you capture everyone there) and get set for the big day!

 

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How not to use Instagram

If you’re on Instagram and have a public profile, you know about the unending amount of spam and emoji comments you get each time you post.

It’s frustrating as a social media marketer to see the amount of spam and comments that are just meant to get your attention. It is rare to see a whole lot of engagement.

On a typical post you’ll see things like:

  • Nice pic
  • Cool account
  • 🙂
  • Amazing photo
comments on instagram

Generic comments from a recent post

Why are there so many comments like this?

That’s because there are a lot of people trying to get your attention on Instagram. People are moving away from the limited exposure of Facebook. They want their posts to be seen by as many people as possible. It used to be that you could like a post and or follow an account and see tons of follow backs.

Now, people have become a little more creative. When you 50 likes, 10 new follows, and 3 comments you want to see what those comments say.

That’s the strategy companies and individuals are using to grow their Instagram following.

They use apps and other tools to auto comment and auto like posts with certain hashtags. Just look up “auto like Instagram” and you’ll see 8.6 million results.

Does this strategy work?

Sure, it can work. But that’s if you’re just looking at having a high number of unengaged followers. It’s like buying likes on Facebook. Do you want 1000 fans from a country your company doesn’t even serve? Or 100 fans that actually use or enjoy your company?

I’d pick the 100 fans, but there are many businesses and marketers out there that still see a high number of followers as a gauge of success.

What is a better strategy?

A much better strategy is to actually take time to identify potential customers usually by hashtags. You have to be careful about what hashtags you are searching. Something very common like #love or #smile is going to get you way too wide of an audience.

If you’re a clothing company specializing in minimalist designs, you’ll want to search hashtags like #minimalism #minimalist and look at other suggestions like that.

Also search for companies in your industry and see who is following them. It is likely that someone following your competitor may want to follow you. But you need to be careful not to like every single follower of a competitor. You will end up following fake accounts, bots, and other unsavory profiles.

When you decide you want to follow someone, make sure you are commenting on a photo of theirs. Make it a genuine comment, not just, “Hey like your pics”. It should be specific and detailed and lets them know that you enjoy their posts.

Also, avoid self promotion. Anytime I see self promotion from someone commenting, like”Cool stuff. Check out my page”, I automatically block them. They obviously don’t care about your company.

Just comment how you’d like someone to comment on your personal pictures.

Resources

How to Create an Instagram Marketing Strategy
Sprout Social

52 Tips: How to Market on Instagram
Wishpond

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