6 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a CRM

Still using Excel to track your networking connections? That might work, to a degree -- but it isn’t scalable. You easily lose track of contacts, you miss follow ups and you can do better. Do you dream of a tool that tracks your pipeline, stores all your notes and automatically reminds you to follow up, or even does it for you?

That tool exists. Enter the Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system of your dreams.

You might be thinking, “Oh, great--another piece of technology to learn.” I hear you--technology is always changing, so it’s hard to keep up. Then, there’s the risk that picking up a new tool will just add complications, rather than clarity. Let me help you out. Here are six questions to ask yourself. Take the time to answer them, and odds are you’ll find the perfect CRM for you.

  1. What is your digital culture? Take a moment to list the email service, project management software, inbox and other programs you’re using. Are you a Microsoft Brain, or do you get down with Gmail? Tools like Zapier can help make the connections seamless.
  2. What does your network look like? Make sure that your CRM will allow for different sales pipelines and tagging structure so you can store all of the necessary data. A good CRM will track not just your leads, but your strategic partners, vendors and more. Avoid systems that consider everyone to be a ‘lead’.
  3. What kinds of automation will you be using? Look at what process flows you have.  Are you automating? Where might there be opportunities to automate? Things like email messages, task assignments, and reminders are critical for lasting CRM success.
  4. What do you need to track? Priorities vary from sales pro to sales pro. Consider what you truly need to measure and track in the future. Then, check to make sure the CRM you’re considering will accommodate. Things like weighted pipelines and varied sets of activity can help make your choice easy.
  5. How much time are you willing to dedicate to your CRM? No matter what platform you choose, a CRM is only as good as the information you put into it. If as an owner you aren’t the championing your CRM as part of your culture your team will not make it a priority.
  6. At the end of the day, does this make my business better? Simply put, if the answer is “no,” time to consider another CRM.

Now that you have been able to narrow the field by asking these questions, it’s time to take that new CRM out for a spin. Take advantage of a free trial to see how you like the interface. Once you settle on a perfect match, customize it.

Intimidated by the thought of putting together a sales process, automation, and contact structure? You’re not alone. It can seem even more daunting than choosing the CRM., Contact @revenue to get started.


Setting up your YouTube Channel

We’ve all heard how important it is to create video content that supports your business strategies. There is a ton of overwhelming information out there about what to create and where to post it. Diving into video content creation can be complicated and we want to let you know that there are some simple steps to take that will get you moving in the right direction.

Whether you have an existing YouTube channel or are setting one up for the first time, here are our best practices, tips and steps you can take that will ensure you get the most out of your video producing efforts. We will discuss the optimal setup of your Youtube Channel so you can be found by the estimated 1.8 Billion users who search YouTube monthly. Once you know the steps to take, the process can be relatively easy and fun. So let’s get started!

Beyond this quick blog, there are many tools to help you along the way, namely Google. But remember, you will need to have a Google account to set up and sign in to your YouTube Channel.

Once you have signed into YouTube, you can begin setting up your YouTube channel. As you dive into this process, remember that you want to stay consistent with your YouTube page branding. This means having strong branding on your channel as well as for the videos you post.

When you sign into YouTube, you will be taken to your home page.  From there you will want to click on your icon in the top right corner and select “My Channel” so that you can start customizing the channel settings. The two first items to address are the Channel Icon and The Channel Art Banner, shown below. Here are the steps and places you need to update to make your YouTube page your own and put your best face forward.

Channel Icon and Channel Art Banner Locations
  • Channel Icon: This is the icon that displays to other users for your videos and comments.
    • Use a clean and crisp logo image used in your channel icon.
    • The Icon is generally displayed in a circular shape, so make sure that your logo is sized correctly to fit into the circle without aspects of it being cropped out.
  • Channel Art Banner: This is the header background image for your page.
    • This should be a high-resolution image that is big enough to be seen on HDTVs and Monitors. Many users go to YouTube on their home televisions, gaming consoles and streaming entertainment devices.
    • Youtube will scale this image to fit an appropriate screen size depending on what type of device is being used. Preview how the channel art will look on the 3 major devices before finalizing the design:
      1. Computer
      2. Mobile
      3. HDTV
Channel Art Banner Preview on Different Devices

The next item we want to highlight is the Playlist. Playlists are created for recurring content or content that addresses a specific marketing strategy. Creating playlists will help you sort your videos inside your channel. When uploading videos to YouTube, you will be able to select which playlist they should be part of. Think about it like songs on an album, chapters in a book, or collections of art.

  • Customize your playlist Privacy settings. Sometimes it’s useful to create private playlists for content that you want to discreetly share with clients or team members. Some companies use this for internal versioning of videos, client reviews or for proposals made for specific sales opportunities. Here is what the different settings mean:
    • Private: Only those you invite to view the video can view it (they must have their own Youtube accounts and the maximum number is 50 usernames). Your video will not come up under any search results or your channel list. If you try to share it with someone who wasn’t invited, they will not be able to connect to it.
    • Unlisted: The video will not come up in search results or on your channel either. Only those who know the link can view it, and you can share the link with anyone, even those who do not have a YouTube account/username.
    • Public: Anyone can search for and view your video.
  • Ordering: Choose the order of how the videos are presented in your playlist. These options can include ordering them by date added, date published, popularity or a custom order decided by you.
  • Embedding: You can choose if you will allow other people to embed your video on their sites and pages. This means they can use your videos on their websites and make the videos more public.
  • You can also add rules to automatically add videos that meet specific requirements to your playlists, but this is more for YouTube pages that have a lot of content that are produced and regularly uploaded.

While customizing your channel, note that you are able to view the channel as yourself, new visitors and returning subscribers.  You should use this option to see how your channel will look for the various visitors as you make updates. Always keep your subscribers and video watching audience top of mind when making changes, update and even creating content.

And don’t forget to update the “About” section of your channel so that you provide important details about your company, specifically: why you created the channel, an email to contact you and your business website. A well-written Channel Description can convert visitors into subscribers and including keywords in your Channel Description can help your channel’s YouTube SEO.

Remember that your channel should be created with a purpose, not because someone on the management team wants to have a YouTube account. Take the time to set it up right, so that you can focus on the main reason for having a YouTube channel: Sharing the compelling videos that you create!

 


The Impact of Values on Small Business

Value Statements, mission statements, retreats, and branding exercises are often considered luxuries that small business owners will simply slide off of their radar. After all, there are so many more important things to do, right?!?

The short answer is, yes. There are many important things to do. Until there is a crisis, conflict….or even a client interaction. Then, this collective verbalization of what is important to us, what we strive for, and what we can expect from our leaders and peers becomes the foundation for success.

There are always metrics that are analytically trackable: sales, financials, all the numbers, right? But when it comes to measuring the alignment of organizational values in a small business what are you supposed to look for?

Here it comes….feelings.

OH, YOU KNOW HOW I LOVE TALKING ABOUT FEELINGS!

Check in with your team, and at different times:

To understand the adoption of values in your business it’s critical to check in with your team and learn if what you thought would be important about your values is resonating with them. As a leader, when you set the values for your org you set them through one filter - yours. But your values, have no guarantee of aligning with the person across the table. When we asked our new admin, who had been with us for about 90 days, Song said, “The concept of professional love was completely new to me. very few of my past employers have been as kind and invested in me and my goals in life, not just professionally but personally as well.”

Wow. After 90 days one of our team members knew that we cared about her as a whole person. Professional Love. Check.

When we asked another team member how he was impacted, Ben’s response was, “I am excited about the creativity that I have experienced with how @revenue works with clients. Developing ways to creatively collaborate with clients fuels innovation and brings excitement to the marketing strategies that we provide.”
This felt like a completely different view of the same question, but it gave us an understanding of how he was absorbing what we thought we were communicating clearly.

Having those conversations and getting feedback gives you a place to open yourself to getting better. Speaking better. Professionally loving them better. So what is the impact of those values? They are a measuring stick for the leadership of your organization and an opportunity to openly communicate over more than just ‘is the task complete?'.

The deeper the understanding and engagement your team has around your values sets the tone for how they care for and communicate with your clients. Give them something to believe in...and then believe in them.

We would love it if you would share your organization’s values with us! Visit us on Facebook or LinkedIn and share your vision - we are all ears!


Sales Sabotage: How Internal Communication is Hurting Your Bottom Line

In an ideal world, your sales and marketing teams would be best friends. Sadly, they don’t always see eye to eye--sometimes, they go head to head. The truth is, only 8% of companies report a strong alignment between their sales and marketing departments (source).

What’s the deal with this disconnect? As we discussed previously, sales and marketing can benefit and learn a lot from each other when they’re in sync. Heck, they both have the same goal--to drive revenue! Let’s take a look at just how disjointed these two efforts are, and what we can do to turn the situation around.

LEADS:

Did you know that sales reps ignore 50% of marketing leads (source)? WHAT!?!? It’s true--half the hard-earned leads sent their way are going to waste.

Do you wanna guess what the team is doing instead? About 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting (source) Not only are they tossing aside the leads marketing is providing them, but they are wasting time on bad leads!

So if sales is only taking 50% of your leads, and wasting 50% of their time, that’s 100% failure. The sales team has reasons for passing on those leads--instead of ignoring the problem or guessing why, the marketing side should ask them what they want and need. Why aren’t they using these leads? What about these leads doesn’t appeal? How can you shift your strategy to ensure you are providing more qualified prospects into the pipeline? Making that shift means way more to the bottom line.

CONTENT:

We can’t lay the blame solely at the feet of the sales teams. Marketers could stand to make some changes to improve their impact.. Approximately 60-70% of B2B content created is never used. In many cases, this is because the topic is irrelevant to the buyer audience (source). Isn’t that just great? Writing for the sake of writing. If you are wondering why your content isn’t getting any traction, consider bringing in the sales team. They talk to your customers all the time and know exactly what their challenges and pains are. Make sure to address those and craft compelling and valuable content.

And let’s face it, content is still king. 47% of buyers viewed three to five pieces of content before engaging with a sales rep. (source). Be sure to engage your sales team so you're putting the right 3-5 pieces in front of them.

TOOLS:

If it seems that sales and marketing teams are speaking a different language, sometimes it’s because they are. All too often, marketing reporting and systems aren’t in line with sales processes and leads, and each team uses applications, tools and processes the other is unfamiliar with. In fact, B2B companies’ inability to align sales and marketing teams around the right processes and technologies eats up 10% or more of revenue per year (source). I bet you don’t spend 10% of your revenue on tools.

To get on the same page, consider bringing together both departments to your results meetings. When the marketing team learns where the sales are coming from, and sales learns about what’s working in the market, both parties produce better results. Don’t let the communication gap go on, because it’s only going to be more critical that you are in lockstep. By 2020, B2B buyers won’t contact vendors until 80% of the way through a purchasing decision. That’s going to put more and more pressure on the marketing team to reach, engage and convert more qualified buyers.

If your sales and marketing teams keep butting heads, it’s time to bring in outside help. Contact @revenue to look at both your sales process and marketing strategy to align everyone's efforts and create the revenue you deserve.


Four Bulletproof Tips for Email Marketing Success

With all the new social media platforms and exciting digital content, these days email marketing may a little old fashioned. But email marketing can make a big impact on your audience and our bottom line! According to a study by Campaign Monitor For every $1 spent on email marketing $44 is made in return.

Email marketing can appear easy (an average office worker receives 121 emails a day and sends around 40 business emails daily) but getting results can be tricky. However, there’s good news for you. Even if you’re new to email marketing, there a few simple tips that increase the success of your campaigns by leaps and bounds. Let’s take a look:

  • Tip 1 - Get Your Email Opened
    A journey of a thousand calls to action begins with just one click! Remember, your message doesn’t do any good if it never gets seen. That’s why it’s important to spice up the inbox. Make sure your subject lines are compelling and put some power in the “From” line. Would this email get more attention if it came from the brand, the CEO, or even the sales rep? These factors are all a reader has to quickly determine if they want to read your message, so make it count.
    Struggling to write the perfect subject line? Use Send Check It to get insights and make improvements before it goes out:
    https://sendcheckit.com/email-subject-line-tester
  • Tip 2 - Test for Success
    If you have the ability to test your messages, do it. One of the best ways to immediately improve the efficacy of your campaign is to employ A/B testing. A/B testing is simple - you send a percentage of your audience one of two different subject lines as once. After a predetermined amount of time (~4 hours), the subject line that received the highest open rate within the test group will be sent to the remaining audience. With this simple test, you can immediately improve your results and gather important data for future use.
    Want to test using Emojis in your subject line? Here is a great tool to find the right one: https://getemoji.com/
  • Tip 3 - Include a Call to Action! Seriously
    If you want to see your email engagement increase, you have to use strong calls to action. A call to action will both encourage and measure the engagement you’re seeking. Many people starting out in email marketing fail to think about the reader’s journey, and will, therefore, fail to connect the immediate message with next steps. Ensure that you’re giving readers a reason to take the next step, and what that step actually is. Isn’t the whole point of an email to trigger an action? For marketing to be truly effective, you need to meet your audience where they are. Give them the information that is important to them, and spell out exactly what you want them to do.
  • Tip 4 - Tell Your Audience What They Care About
    To really reach your email audience, you have to consider what is important to them...what they care about. They already have their own lives - why should they care about what you have to say? What makes your message important, and therefore able to stand out? Often businesses will simply shout at their audience, tell them why THEIR company is so cool/hip/helpful/awesome. In reality, they’re not touching on what their readers really care about...themselves. The audience is so focused on themselves that they simply don’t care. It is your responsibility to dig through the noise and hit their emotions. If you aren’t careful, your message will get lost in a crowded inbox.

We hope that these tips are useful for your next email marketing effort. Remember, every campaign is an opportunity to learn something new about your potential customers. Seize your opportunity!

If you have questions about email marketing best practices, marketing in general, or just need a friendly ear, contact us today at info@atrevenue.com. We’re here to make sure you get more revenue from every email.


Sales + Marketing: Finger pointing or handshaking

Most businesses divide their sales team and marketing team into two different groups. At one organization I worked with, they were physically in different buildings... in different parts of the city. But what really is the difference between these two departments? They share the same goals, but their tactics for achieving these goals are very, very different.

It’s easy to get caught up with definitions like, “marketing is from the brand and sales is from a salesperson”. If that’s how you want to differentiate, I’ve got news for you. That sales person IS your brand! To more clearly separate these two facets of your business, I look at it from the messaging perspective. Here is my simplified explanation of these two departments and where the lines start to blur.

Marketing is a message sent to the masses. Like yelling into a megaphone, you say it once and it’s received by many people. For example, think of a TV commercial or a Pay Per Click ad that’s impersonal and doesn’t have a person on the other end sending you that message.

Sales on the other hand, is a very direct message sent from just one person. The message is tailored and personalized for each specific audience. It’s also not as scalable (one salesperson can only talk to so many people).

Now, here’s where it starts to get a little fuzzy. If done right, your marketing can feel like it’s coming from a real person AND your sales team can reach a wider audience.

This is why big data and targeted marketing is so exciting; it crafts a message that is targeted to the individual… but sent to many individuals. When this happens, your efforts have exponential impact.

Don’t just take it from me, here are the facts:

  • Personalization reduces acquisition costs as much as 50%, lifts revenues by 5-15%, and increases the efficiency of marketing spend by 10-30%. (McKinsey & Company)
  • By 2020, 51% of consumers expect that companies will anticipate their needs and make relevant suggestions before they make contact. (Salesforce)
  • Increasing personalization in more channels can increase overall consumer spending by up to 500%. (The E-Tailing Group)

Here’s a couple of great examples where your marketing and sales team needs to work in perfect harmony:

Email: An average office worker receives 121 emails a day and sends around 40 business emails daily (Source). So it’s fair to say that this would be a sales channel,. Right? But wait, what about MASS emails? Those newsletters, automations, promotions and drip campaigns need to incorporate best practices from both departments in order to be effective.

Social Media: With over 2.19 billion monthly active users on Facebook, this must be a mass audience channel, right? Think again. Sure, you can have your marketing team create a bunch of posts, but without a sales perspective and communication style, your engagement and conversation ends there. To be successful, you need to build a relationship with your following, and who is better at building relationships than your sales team? By bringing together your marketing and sales minds, you’re able to attract, engage and even convert a dedicated community.

Sales and marketing are very clearly differentiated in our minds. But aren't they really doing the same thing? Connecting, convincing, and communicating. Any good salesperson or marketer knows that is the key to success.

If you are having challenges connecting with your clients, leads and audience, contact Marie at marie@atrevenue.com


Demystifying Marketing Myths

In a world with “alternative facts” and the ability to make your own truth, there is a lot of miss-information out there. @revenue is here to shed light and truth on some of the most common marketing myths and why they just aren’t facts. These misconceptions are dangerous and can seriously impact your business.

Marketing Myth #1: My business is so incredibly unique, it is too complex for anyone outside of our firm to communicate.

Why it’s false: Look, no marketer will ever be able to know your business better than you,  but do you know what they are experts at? Communicating with your audience. How you translate that expertise and unique offering to the masses to best connect and engage is critical for generating sales.

Marketing Myth #2: I received an email from someone who says he can get my site to page 1 on Google.  For just $99!

Why it’s false: Really? Are you going to fall for that one? SEO takes time and is a long-term strategy. Don't fall for some cheap tricks that may work today, but will leave you burned in the long run.

Marketing Myth #2.5: My cousin is an insta-star.

This goes right next to “the millennial on the team will do social media.” Leaving your brand, reputation, and marketing strategy to someone that knows how to use a tool is not enough. They need to have a strategy, plan and know how to generate ROI, not “likes”, from their efforts.

Marketing Myth #3: It doesn't need any marketing, really. It sells itself.

Why it’s false: Nothing sells itself. Even Apple's greatest products require the right placement at the right time communicated by the right people to the right audience.

Marketing Myth #4: The client is always right.

Why it’s false: I get it, we are in the service industry, but really? How does this develop trust and good recommendations? If the client was always right, why are they asking for help? Because they tried something one way and it didn't work perhaps? So, let's stop putting them on high platforms as always right and work with them as partners.

Marketing Myth #5: I don't need marketing to target my offering. Anybody and everybody can use my services.

Why it’s false: Because if anybody and everybody actually showed up at your doorstep tomorrow, you couldn't possibly service them anyway.

Marketing Myth #6: Word of mouth and a website is enough -

Why it’s false: Delivering quality, targeted and convertible traffic to your website takes a strategy, a budget, execution and some time. Don't wait for the pipeline to inevitably dry up. You need to be proactive instead of waiting by your inbox for a lead to come in.

Marketing Myth #7: Facebook is the only valid way to get your message across to people anymore.

Why it’s false: HA! That’s like saying, “The only way to get protein is to eat a lot of eggs.” There are TONS of channels, groups, mediums and tools to get your message across. If you believe this, you might be a little narrow-minded. Let an experienced marketer show you some solutions.

We all know first hand how annoying it can be to get the same assumption and miss-information driving networking conversations and sales calls. For many experienced professionals, they never had the opportunity to learn about marketing, so they get bad information from the internet, sleazy marketers pumping out misinformation that they take as truth. If you have a question or assumption about marketing, contact @revenue to explain more.


The GIF is a Gift!

First, I believe we need to address a very important issue. Deep breath because there will be a lot of emotions here. Do you pronounce if GIF or JIF?

via GIPHY

Allow me to settle the battle for once and for all. It doesn’t stinking matter. 

The Psych

Now that we have that out of the way let’s talk about this novel little addition is changing the face of business. As always, the first thing I get excited about is the psychology behind the form of communication. An easy piece to understand is the mere-exposure effect. This phenomenon explains that we have a preference for things that we are already familiar with. In our society, media is the most common denominator. I know, there are always going to be outliers. There is generally at least one in every crowd that wants to loudly tell you how they have never watched TV or that they keep themselves pure of the mind pollution of popular media (Uh….ok...cool. I’m gonna talk to this other 99.999 % of people). Most people have some common experience and when you can use that commonality to express a thought or emotion it has more resonance for the recipient.

Most of the time GIFs are used to communicate emotion. EMOTION, the cornerstone of communication! Take into account  Albert Mehrabian’s 7-38-55 Rule of Personal Communication.

If you are relying only on words to communicate your message you are leaving 93% of your ability to communicate on the table. We also know that people make decisions (about everything) based on emotion and back it up with logic, so if you are effectively communicating to and connecting with emotion, are you doing your level best to get the recipient engaged with your message?

The Culture

As a company that uses GIFs heavily in our communication, I reached out to some of our newest members. Here were some of their responses:

Well, gosh. Who wouldn't want to be around some humor in a company culture? I think a little mechanism like a GIF goes a long way, more than people probably might give it credit for. It shows that you're among friends, or at least that we're all in this together. Without it, you might risk the communication feeling like a cold directive. There's SO much room for the tone of an email to be misinterpreted. Using humor within that communication makes you appear warmer, friendlier and more accessible. All good things that any company culture should want to have.” -Dan Gershenson

“Using a gif is like finding that perfect Hallmark card at the store. Couldn't have said it better myself. It just sends the perfect message, unlike texts. It adds inflection and there is usually no denying what the other person is trying to say. More often than not, it puts a smile on my face and lifts my mood." -Laura Wilson

“First, my lack of knowledge about pop-culture and trivia made me hesitant to follow, but after just my first few experiences, using GIFs takes a weight off my shoulders as a writer. I can lean more on my GIF selection to set the tone. I don't have to be funny - I can just find something funny instead.

To me, GIFs establish a shared emotional connection through pop culture. As humans, our brains connect differently with faces, naturally assimilating to other's perceived emotions. When we see someone happy, we feel happy. This is two-fold when we connect with another through shared experiences of favorite comedians or movie scenes. The art of GIF-giving is selecting one that your audience will 'get' and can easily connect with.” -Megan Robinson

Just last week we entered a NEW client intake meeting (not yet full clients) and they mentioned that they were so happy when I used a GIF in the email because they automatically knew that we were cool (read that as ‘we are like you’), we have a sense of joy and humor, and that we were going to be fun to work with. A tip of my hat the Mr. Sinatra dancing in the rain!

If your internal staff and your new clients appreciate it, how can you create a GIF-embracing culture of your own? Well, start with a few rules and tools.

  1. Use an email plug-in tool like https://giphy.com/ that will allow your team to add images on the fly. They simply need type in a search term like excited, happy, or raining and a small list of images will pop up for them to click on and add to the email, slack channel or the like.
  2. Encourage common sense! This is not a place for profanity or lewdness just like ANY OTHER part of your work.
  3. Know thy audience! If it is your initial conversation with someone and you don’t know if they have a sense of humor to speak of it’s probably not what you want to lead with. You need to have a few exchanges with someone before you will know if this is something that is a fit for them.

The Business Plan

According to Forbes ‘[Other] businesses have had success using  GIFs in email marketing campaigns. A case study of Dell’s GIF-centric marketing campaign was done by MarketSherpa. They compared metrics of the  GIF campaign with other quarterly campaign reports and found that Dell saw a 42% increase in their click rate and a 109% increase in revenue.’

To meet the demand, many of the tools you already use are adding GIF searches to their services. Facebook, Twitter, Mailchimp just to name a few have adopted the movement.  Want to create one of your own?

Forbes even gives you a step-by-step so that you can show off a product or even a great part of a speech.

At the end of the day you have to decide if it is brand congruous for your internal team and your external communication, but for me and my house….we will GIF IT UP!

via GIPHY

 


How to Do Email Marketing Effectively When You’re a Small Marketing Department

 

If you want to learn how to do email marketing effectively, then understand there is no one thing that will ensure success. It’s a balance of strategy, techniques and execution. Here is an overview specifically designed for 1- to 3-person marketing departments.

Email is such an ubiquitous part of our lives that it’s often overlooked by marketers. There are bigger, shinier strategies and tactics that always seem to command the lion’s share of attention.

But email marketing should be an integral part of your approach — the numbers say it’s the most important.  Let’s shed some light on why email is so critical, and the steps a small marketing department can take to make your approach effective.

For this post, I received some great insights from folks who really know their email marketing (listed in order of appearance):

Jessica Best, Director of Data-Driven Marketing, Barkley
Gini Dietrich, Founder and author of Spin Sucks
Megan Robinson, VP Marketing of @revenue

How effective is email marketing?

Throughout this post, we’re going to use the word “effective.”  That’s because “effective” is defined as “successful at producing a desired or intended result.”  And that’s what this stuff called marketing is all about — results, right?

Consider some of the industry statistics that reveal how widespread email usage is, and how effective email marketing can be:

  • According to Statista, a total of 96% of agencies were going to either increase (48%) or maintain (48%) their spending on email in 2017.
  • The number of email users worldwide is expected to rise to 2.9 billion users by 2019, according to Statisa.  (In comparison, there are 2 billion Facebook users as of Q3 2017.)

When agencies increase spending, you know it's working.

What do the numbers tell me?  When 96% of agencies increase or maintain their spending on email marketing, you know it’s working.  And when a medium is 2.9 times bigger than Facebook, that tells you that it is still the biggest game in town.

Effective strategies, tips and techniques for email marketing

In creating a post about how to do email marketing effectively, you can’t possibly include everything. What we’ve attempted to do in this post is focus on the critical elements a small marketing department should focus on; you can build on this to refine your approach.

1. Don’t buy a list — EVER

Let’s cross off the first thing that comes to many marketers’ minds:  Should I buy a list of email addresses and email them?

According to Jessica Best, the answer is quite simple: NO. Besides this being ridiculously intrusive for the end user, you also run a big risk of being labeled a spammer by email service providers, which means you could be blacklisted and your emails will go NOWHERE.

The spammer threshold is .1%

(Read more from Jessica in What Email Marketers (Still) Don’t Know They Don’t Know.)

If you really want to build a list, provide content and information that is of value to the customer.  Share with them how you’ll solve their problems. People want answers, not SPAM.

2. Don’t just say “subscribe” or “get updates”

How many websites have you seen that ask for your email for “updates,” but don’t tell you what you’ll get in return?

Be sure you give them a solid reason to sign up, especially telling them the frequency of the emails. People like to get their Sunday morning paper on Sunday, after all. (I’m referring to newspapers – do people get newspapers anymore?)

Give them a reason to subscribe

3. If you automate, use “value forward” content to aid in the buying decision and stay in front of prospects

If someone signed up for an email, it’s likely that they are in the early stages of the buying process.  You can use automation to set up a string of emails that will go out right after someone signs up for a download.

However, these emails need to be “value forward,” as Jessica Best puts it. Sure you can sell product, but think about your customer and their buying process.  What would add value to their decision?  Knowing more about you?  Seeing customer reviews, or comparisons to your competition?

Any types of follow-ups should lead them through their Customer Journey, ultimately to a purchase. But you have to present something of value each step of the way.

You also can’t wait to follow up, as Gini Dietrich tells us:

A good majority of organizations have an email sign-up on their site without a single email that follows. Sure, you may send a monthly email, but what if that’s 29 days from now? Will the person remember who you are 29 days from now? It’s doubtful. Create a 7- or 10-day email campaign for your new subscribers. The first one should be delivered immediately after they subscribe.

Create a new subscriber email campaign.

4. Segment your list and personalize your messages

Different offers on your website can mean different things.  Create different email lists based on the reason why people signed up.  Do they just want to read your new blog posts?  Are they interested in buying your product or service?

If you have different segments, you can tailor your emails to those segments.  For a small marketing department, this is the first step toward speaking directly to what your target needs.

Segmentation is different than personalization, as noted in this great post by Jason Grunberg, who explains the difference between personalization and segmentation.

True personalization, beyond just inserting a contact’s name, involves delivering email content based on a client’s past actions, as explained by Active Campaign’s Brian Gadu in this post. Ultimately, this improves your deliverability and your standing in the eyes of email providers.

Grunberg and Gadu both indicate that personalized emails (one version for one person) are going to overtake grouped segmented emails.

For a small marketing department, this granularity should be the ultimate goal, but it won’t happen overnight. Start by segmenting your list, then work toward personalization.

(Check out more examples in Jessica’s post on 6 Steps to Putting Data to Work in Email Marketing.)

5. Let unsubscribe rates dictate how much you should send

A common question among marketers: How much email is too much?  We’re all inundated with email, and you want to be sure your email gets opened and that you’re not annoying.

Whatever you do, don’t make your decision based on what YOU think is too much.  Let your prospects make the decision.

Reevaluate if unsubscribes get too high.

You can do this by focusing on your unsubscribe rate.  You want your unsubscribe rates to be below 1% of your list. If your rates creep north of that number, it’s time to reevaluate your content and the rate at which you’re emailing.

6. Use your blog content to make an eNewsletter

Creating a monthly eNewsletter can produce numerous benefits.  As Megan Robinson of @revenue details in this post (with stats to back up her point), those benefits include:

  • Keeps your business top of mind
  • Engages your audience
  • Deepens your relationship with customers

But sending out regular emails — at the very least, once a month — can seem tedious if you’re trying to create new content all the time.

One method that’s effective is to turn off the auto notification from your blog, and instead route sign-ups to a special list on your email service.  Then, once a month, compile your blog posts into a newsletter and send it to prospects.

It’s a great way to share content for prospects just entering the sales funnel, or add in some new product promos to keep them posted on new sales.

An eNewsletter is a great way to share content.

7. Deliver your downloadable offer via email

Let’s say you’re providing a piece of content for a visitor to download, like a PDF guide. Should you make that available on a thank you page, after the person signs up for the offer?

Jessica recommends sending it out via your follow-up email.  The recipient is very likely to open and engage with your email, and that helps Google recognize that the recipient wants your content. They’ll more likely “green light” your future emails, so always deliver your offers by email!

8. Build your list using different techniques

There are a million ways to build your list, but here are a few that have proven effective for us:

Feature a downloadable offer with a sign-up form as well: Many will argue that all your content should be ungated, but Jessica believes that you still should have lead forms in front of a valuable piece.  “As long as it’s valuable, it doesn’t cost that person a whole lot to give up their email in exchange for the content,” she said.

Co-Op/Ad Swap: Partner with a relevant/complementary business or product. Create an email for a partner or complementary business. They will mail your message to their email list, then you respond in-kind.

These are just foundational suggestions.  To really drive email sign-ups, check out this amazing post from Robbie Richards.

9. Feature an email sign-up in your website’s footer

We get a surprising amount of sign-ups with our email subscriber box in the footer, and it’s pretty logical when you think about it. A person reads the page, likes the content, and when they scroll to the bottom, BLAM, you’ve got the sign-up form.

Because it’s in the footer, you also have an automatic guarantee it’s on every page of your site.

Feature email sign-up in your site's footer

10. Include an opt-in checkbox on your contact form

Besides the sign-up forms on your site, you can also add an opt-in checkbox to your contact forms. You may think these people want info. right away, but this gives you a method to follow up with them and keep them on the list. It also puts them in control of whether or not they want to receive more information.

opt-in form

(Opt-in form courtesy of Pinpointe.com.)

11. Control when notifications are sent out about a new blog post

When your developer sets up your blog subscription form, don’t use a plug-in from the content management system. Keep all of your subscribers in your email marketing platform so you can control when and how they see your latest.

Auto-notification plug-ins just grab the headline of your post and make it the headline of the article. But your article headline might not make for a good email headline, and you may also want to include a teaser message to your readers to get them to check it out.

Andy Crestodina does a great job with this. Notice his email has a headline written specifically for email. His blog post title, which likely includes very specific keywords and structure, probably would not be as effective.

Article headline may not match email headline

12. Avoid getting labeled a SPAMMER

It’s very easy for someone to label you a SPAMMER, and as we touched on earlier, that’s someplace you definitely don’t want to go.

So how do you do it?  First of all, play nice. Use common sense tactics not to SPAM. If someone gives you a business card at a lunch, that’s not an automatic OK to add them to your eNewsletter list.  Send them the link to subscribe, and let them take it from there.

Some other tactics include:

Always include an unsubscribe link and a physical mailing address with your emails. Most email services will build this into your template, in compliance with CAN-SPAM law.

Be sure you’re sending from a professional SMTP server. Any email marketing platform like Active Campaign, MailChimp, Constant Contact will be compliant.

Easy on the images: Include enough text that a spam filter can “read” what your email is about. Too many images can get a can of SPAM thrown at you.

Avoid the SPAMMY words:  Using these words in moderation won’t get you labeled a spammer, but too many can land you in trouble.  Here’s a great list from Karen Rubin of HubSpot.

13. Ensure it’s mobile-friendly

Litmus’ Email Analytics tracks open emails from over 1.4 billion sent emails. They reported that emails opened on mobile devices was 56% of all emails sent.  Make sure your emails, and the service you’re sending them from, are mobile-friendly!

Megan Robinson, @revenue

Check out Megan’s article on Google’s Mobile First Initiative:

14. Create a great email – include excellent content

Oh yeah!  That stuff.  What you want to, you know, say to people. I guess that matters too, right?

Back in the days of direct mail, there was a 40-40-20 rule. Your success was determined by: 40% by the list; 40% by the offer; and 20% by the creative. Here’s a great post by Eunice Brownlee that refines that formula for email marketing today, but essentially the idea remains the same.

So what makes for an effective email?

Focus on the subject line:  If you want people to get into your email, you need to open that front door. So create an excellent subject line. Check out insights from Charlie Meyerson on how to do it right!

Keep it short and focused: You want a clear intent with your email, and you want someone to take an action as a result of it. Keep your content skimmable; 1-3 lines of copy, and avoid the bulky paragraphs.

These shorter segments can then link out to longer content.

“One of the biggest mistakes people make with email is sending all of the content in the email. Don’t do that! It doesn’t encourage engagement, nor can you track effectiveness,” says Gini Dietrich.

“And always remember: Your email content is about THEM, not you. No one cares about your new hires, your new contracts, or your awards. What they do care about is how you can help them.”

15. Make Call-To-Action prominent

You want to take them somewhere, give them a big, bold CTA.  And use a contrasting color, so it really stands out.

Make the CTA button big and bold

16. Metrics: How do you measure email marketing success

Here are the big ones we really keep an eye on:

Click-through rates: Really, at the end of the day, it’s all about sales, right?  So you’d ultimately want to see how many people are clicking through to your site.  Open rates are great and could potentially generate some brand equity, but you want people to get to your site.

If you can track the email traffic all the way to a conversion in the form of a lead or purchase, that’s the ultimate goal!

Unsubscribe rates:  You definitely don’t want that number to incline. It’s a good indication you’re either sending out too frequently, or your content quality is off.  According to Jessica Best, the average unsubscribe rate is .5%, and just make sure you don’t creep north of 1%.

Track through UTM tagging:  This isn’t a metric, but a methodology to track your email visits from Google analytics. If you don’t use UTM tagging on your links, then GA will count the visit as “Direct” and not an email.

17. Test, test and test some more

Hate to date myself (someone’s got to), but when I was writing direct mail copy for a big insurance company, we would roll out $10,000 tests on a changed headline.  That’s still done today, but with email, you can make instant changes and improve your open rate.

Megan Robinson digs deeper into the subject for us:

Most email service providers have subject line testing already built in and can be one of the best ways to immediately improve your email. A/B Testing is when you send a percentage of your audience 2 different subject lines. After a predetermined time (~4 hours) the subject line that received the highest open rate within the test group will be sent automatically to the remaining audience.

Subject line testing is powerful.

Subject line testing allows for instant optimization, but can also teach a lot about your audience. Try testing with a specific hypothesis in mind. Does your audience like it when you use emojis? Are they more offer- or relationship-focused?”

Email marketing is a journey

Like everything in this digital marketing game, your success rate will be a function of time. No one expects you to hit it right out of the park, right from the start.

Use these foundations as your launchpad, then tap into the experts in this article to learn more and improve your efforts.  Effective emails are all about results — follow these tips, techniques and strategies and you’ll be on your way.

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For the original blog, click here.


Annoying or Appealing? 5 Ways Brands Get Unfollowed on Social Media

 

www.suekoch.com

Too many businesses come out of the gate on social media with no plan of attack. It’s a completely normal response, as even many Fortune 500 companies admit to shooting from the hip without a strategy when it comes to social media. The downside of that, however, is that you’re more likely to fall into habits that turn your target audience away instead of drawing them in.

Investing in a content strategy is the best way to make sure you develop relevant ideas, creative content and a delivery style that inspires a loyal community.

A Sprout Social study found that 86% of social media users want to follow brands. But when they do, there are particular social media habits that cause them to turn and walk away.

Over-promotion: If someone you’d never met before knocked on your door and told you to go to their new store down the street, would you? What if they did it every day? Or three times a day? No. You’re more likely to slam the door in their face and hide. But if they introduced themselves & demonstrated interest in your needs, and shared a bit about their story, you may stop by for a visit in support of them. Then, you may build a rapport and start to appreciate their brand. Soon, you buy something. And you tell your friends and they buy something.  And the cycle continues. It is better to have patience in the process to inspire relationships, referrals and longevity, instead of forcing a first date where someone leaves when you go to the bathroom.

Slang & jargon: If you said something like “I soo can’t with adulting right now, I’m getting turnt tonight!” Would your friends look at you like…

Yeah, then don’t…

Trying too hard: Have you ever watched a newbie comedian struggle, and curled up in your chair with discomfort & embarrassment for the poor entertainer? It’s kind of like that. You may not walk out on the show, but on social media, we have an unfollow button.

Be yourself. Don’t try to hard to force humor or a style of communication you think is going to appeal to your audience. If it feels weird, it probably is. Do research first. Follow other pages that appeal to a similar audience as your business. Watch their interactions and participate. This will help you get a better feel for how to be yourself while communicating successfully to grow an authentic following.

Obvious automation: Do you post every single day at 10:18 am? Does every post follow the same format in copy, link, and image? Is there no personalization to your conversation? We see you robot! There’s nothing wrong with scheduling your uniquely crafted content in advance. But it’s critical to show up and mix in some ‘in the moment’ content and participate. The days of “set it and forget it” are long gone, and people will move on to a more real experience.

Ignoring conversation: This can be a result of automation, missed notifications, or simply lack of awareness. Make sure to respond to your community. People expect a response on social media. It doesn’t need to be immediate, there is still some forgiveness mindset out there but never ignore them.

Especially if someone asks you a question in a comment, sends a private message to your business, or presents you with feedback. It is critical to makes sure the original poster and the rest of the community see you acknowledge, demonstrate care and follow up. People may be a bit forgiving about how long it takes for you to respond, but they are not forgiving about being completely ignored.

What you should do:

Edutain them! People crave new ideas, they want to learn, to be entertained, and yes, to get to know the humans behind a brand. Make them laugh! (In an authentic way of course. See: “Trying too hard” above…)

They will buy from you, but first, they need to… !!cliche alert!! know, like and trust you. 

Make notification and message review a part of your daily process. This will help you keep in touch with your community and also learn more about what they want to see from you.

How do you make that happen? A solid strategy and action plan. Unless you are a master of improv, shooting from the hip will never support you in truly crafting a message that meets your audience in a consistent, cohesive manner, and allow you to build a strong community.

Get in touch with Sue via Facebook Messenger at @SueKochCatalyst or via the contact form. Thank you!