Guest Post: 6 Ways to Spice Up Your Email Marketing

My most recent guest blog post, as featured on Wednesday, January 4th post on Hubspot blog:

Do you remember creating your first email marketing campaign? Those emails were going to catapult your business to new levels, blow your content’s ROI through the roof, and make you an instant digital mogul in your industry.Spice Up Your Email Marketing

How long did that excitement last? Are you still in the honeymoon phase, or do you find yourself staring at your email templates bored, uninspired, and unsure of where to go next?

Whichever way you feel about your email marketing, whether you’re on your first campaign or the hundredth, emails can fall flat and lose the appeal they once had for both you and your subscribers. So how do you bring the spark back into a boring email program and inject some va-va-voom into your campaigns? It’s all about approaching your email with a little creativity. Here are 6 ways to spice up your email marketing the next time your creativity (and email marketing ROI) needs a jolt.

1. Try On-the-Fly A/B Testing

For a marketer, there are few things more appealing than knowing whether your campaigns are successful while they are still in motion. In this sense, A/B testing is the sexiest email marketing feature there is! Nowadays, many email service providers (ESPs) have a feature built into their platforms that allows marketers to send and compare the performance of variables like subject line and “From” sender names to sample audiences, with the winning email getting deployed to the remainder of the audience.

2. Crowdsource Your Next Email Campaign

As hard as you try, it’s sometimes impossible to know exactly what your subscribers want, which is why your next email should flat-out ask them. Survey your customers to see what they want more of, less of, or what would make them visit your site more. Not only do prospects and customers appreciate your consideration of their opinion, but you may also be handed a brand new email campaign that your marketing department never would have thought of.

Although many ESPs have basic survey tools included, you can also collect information on your website through a customized landing page or a survey collection tool. Suggestions for what to ask might include their topic preferences for articles you produce, what sorts of deals would entice them to purchase more often, what additional products and services they’d like your company to offer, and what sorts of service updates would be helpful to hear from your company.

[Continue Reading on the HubSpot Blog…]

Why Offline Marketing Isn’t “For the Birds”

*Originally written for and posted on the ListEngage blog*

marketing1Admittedly, we’ve been urging (ok, harassing) our clients to get their marketing efforts online and moving with social networks, email, and blogs for the past few years, however, we’d also like to take a moment to just reflect on “good old fashion marketing”. That’s right, we’d like to suggest despite our love for HTML, landing pages, and dynamic content in emails that Offline Marketing isn’t just some hairbrained idea for old turkeys and people who still use a rotary phone.

The truth of the matter is that until the human race is completely pushed to our electronic limits with 24 hours a day of iPhones, mp3 players, laptops, tablets, and the likes – we all have to, at some point during the day, look up! So why not:

  • take that time to put your online marketing efforts on an offline print ad?
  • use your company wheels as a rolling billboard? – foodcart or not, it’s “mobile advertising”, minus the smartphone
  • tweak your business cards to include your facebook page or twitter profile?
  • host a “tweetup” or “blog party” for people who share your business interests
  • think outside the box: t-shirts with your @TwitterHandle on ‘em at conferences? QR code for a free burrito on a train advertisement? SMS campaign contest that starts with an advertisement at a sporting event? Stress balls with your cleverly named Industry Blog & URL at your next networking event? Yes, yes, yes and yes!

 

Guest Post: 5 Lessons Trick-or-Treaters Can Teach Us About Inbound Marketing

Original post featured on the HubSpot blog – October 31, 2011

5 Lessons Trick-or-Treaters Can Teach Us About Inbound Marketing:

Each Halloween the ghouls, goblins, and princesses come out and parade their costumes en masse across towns and cities everywhere. With hundreds of houses and apartments to pick from, what makes some places a raging success, while others can’t get a ‘treater to save their lives? It turns out all of those little super heroes and skeletons can actually teach us a thing or two about our own inbound marketing efforts.

Lesson 1: Make Sure They Know You’re Home

Remember those houses with the lights off, no cars in the driveway, and no decorations adorning the walkway? Not only were they spooky, but you had no idea whether anyone was home to give you candy! Although the occasional trick-or-treater might be brave enough to run up and ring the bell, these houses are generally overlooked even if they have great goodies inside.

Marketing Takeaway: Make sure people know you’re open for business. For marketers, this means always keeping your website up-to-date and providing fresh content through your various online channels such — posting often to your blog and social media accounts, making sure your landing pages are optimized and filled with valuable offers and content, etc. No matter where your visitors stop by, they should always feel like “someone’s home” to help them out.

Lesson 2: Tell a Great Tale

Whether it’s like a haunted mansion, a spooky graveyard, or a zombie apocalypse – what makes your house stand out from the rest? Pull in the candy-grubbers with a great, consistent tale about your home and goodies. Parents and kids alike always remember the places that surprise, enchant, and entertain them, so slap those bolts to your neck, get out the green face paint and lab supplies, and get your Frankenstein on!

Marketing Takeaway: Telling compelling stories is a major part of getting your new audience’s attention. Captivate them by telling the tales you know best. While for trick-or-treaters, this might mean tales of ghosts and gore, for your business, this means sharing riveting case studies, addressing industry problems on your blog, orcreating a valuable ebook to attract and generate leads at the top of the funnel.

Lesson 3: Give Out the Good Stuff (But Don’t Just Give it Away!)

If telling great stories is a major part of getting new ‘treaters to your door, then another big piece of the pie is: what kinds of goodies do you have? The best houses don’t hand out lollipops and hard candies. Instead, they give out the chocolatiest chocolate bars, the chewiest gummies, and the sourest sour candies! Make sure you’re offering the best of the best, and never just leave your goodies on the doorstep unattended. The smart candy-givers know it’s a two-way street: trick-or-treaters request their loot, and candy-givers get a chance to enjoy their goofy little costumes and squeaky thank you’s!

Marketing Takeaway: Give away valuable content freely, and always interact with the folks who stop by! Find your customers’ pain-points, have the conversations they want to hear about most, and talk about the technologies you see revolutionizing your industry in the next few years. Then create ebooks, webinars, podcasts, and other content around these great topics. Just like you require a “trick-or-treat” in exchange for candy from the kids who knock on your door on Halloween, make sure you’re distributing your marketing content in exchange for lead information; use landing pages with lead-capture forms and plan to follow up on visitors’ clicks, form submissions, and downloads with a phone call or a timely lead nurturing campaign.

Lesson 4: Be Prepared. Don’t Run Out.

When you decide to open up your doors to the candy-frenzied masses, don’t get caught off guard when your house is a wild success. Be prepared to bring out more goodies, as the zombies, witches, and dinosaurs keep asking for them. Remember those houses that *gasp* ran out of candy when you were little? Definitely don’t make that same mistake.

Marketing Takeaway: There’s nothing worse than disappointing potential new customers with false hopes of content. Letting potential enthusiasts down on their first visit can almost guarantee they won’t make a second. For marketers, this means having a long list of ideas and content lined up as users come to your site looking for more great resources. Create content calendars, crowdsource new ideas from your employees and customers, and collaborate with like-minded businesses to make sure you can keep delivering those “delicious” goodies that feed your visitors as well as your inbound marketing programs.

Lesson 5: Reward Your Biggest Fans

Remember that pirate who’s been coming to your haunted house for years and bringing new friends every time? Don’t forget to say thank-you and give him the candy bar you know he likes best. Or maybe even an extra one for good measure.

Marketing Takeaway: When it comes to your business’ top fans who absolutely love what you’re doing – send the appreciation right back their way! For Halloween, this might mean a King Size candy bar for your loyal ‘treaters, but for your business, this likely means sending the retweeting love, celebrating your Facebook fanswith “insider” perks, or running a special contest for your biggest advocates. No matter how you choose to thank your best fans and customers, just remember to pay it forward. Who knows, down the road they might even help keep those naughty older ‘treaters from egging your house!

What else can trick-or-treaters teach you about inbound marketing?

Image Credit: scott feldstein

Guest Blog Post: The Collective Power of One

Collective Power of One

Originally posted on the ExactTarget Blog.

The Collective Power of One

We all learned at a young age that the easiest way to avoid answering the “which is your favorite” question is by saying enthusiastically, “I liked them all!” Well, during a conference featuring “The Power of One” as the connecting theme throughout – “I liked them all” sounds rather like a cop-out. But that’s my answer to the question “Who was your favorite speaker at Connections 2011?” I loved them all. Collectively.

It wasn’t the power of just one of the speakers that moved and impacted me – it was the Collective Power of One (ahem, maybe the secret theme of Connections 2011) that made their stories the most powerful. After all, how can you compare the quality of the content of a speech from a man like Aron Ralston, who survived 127 hours alone, pinned by a boulder in the desert and amputated his own arm because he felt a tremendous drive to return to his loved ones – to – a panel of industry leaders having real-time conversations about real-time emarketing topics that mean the world to our work and our businesses?

Jimmy Wales, the CEO and Founder of Wikipedia, was thoughtful, intelligent, and even quite humorous – but I also spent my Wednesday morning enthralled in excellent conversations and panels on social media marketing and content marketing for B2B businesses. Both were tremendously valuable, thought provoking, and informative. I wouldn’t have wanted miss one for the other under any circumstances. I also can’t forget all of the product contributions and visionary conversations of the ExactTarget executive team of Scott Dorsey, Tim Kopp and Scott McCorkle; without their updates and edge-of-your-seat announcements Connections would not be complete or worth attending! And I of course cannot dismiss the powerful messages of education and giving that we heard on Day Three: between Soledad O’Brien’s poignant message about the Power of One education and impacting One life with One donation, and the panel of education equality advocates that joined the conversation at Connections 2011 – the message was overwhelming.

So, it is with some hesitation and some resolve that I stick to my guns and say that Connections 2011 wasn’t about the power of One speaker but rather the collective power of all of the “One” speakers and attendees – brought together by One conference that enables email and digital marketers around the globe to harness the power of One communication tool to reach millions and millions of “Ones” out there. Cheesy, I know, but I’m sticking to what I learned in 3rd grade when it comes to weighing in on a really tough decision: “Well, I guess I just really loved them all!”

How to Content-Market for Free without a Single Drop of Technological Skill

Not everyone who uses a computer at work all day knows how to code HTML, and it isn’t like our public schools are planning to include a “PHP, Java, and Advanced Devlopment” course in place of Phys-Ed class anytime soon. So, for a business who wants to participate in Content Creation and Inbound Marketing to their website, what’s a non-techie to do?

Well, there are plenty of great content-creation tools that stir up some SEO-juice along the way without a single lick of code, and here are the best

3 Codeless Content Creation Tools Out There

… AND if you can take the extra step of linking these 3 resources together via RSS feeds (no code required) then you’re doing even better. Finally, if you can invest a few dollars into hiring someone to link these resources to your website (or getting someone internal to do it) then you’ve basically given your entire brand an often-updating facelift and a new lease on life.

1. Twitter.com – obviously you’ve heard of it, but do you know how easy it is to set up? If you’ve ever been frustrated that your static website just couldn’t express a single revelation or announcement that your company had EVER, think again. A Twitter account can be opened and up and running (with pretty logos/graphics) in less than five minutes. From here you can share content, update followers about events or seminars, and provide information must faster than you could ever get someone to update your site.

2. Facebook Groups – all you need to do is login, upload a photo, and request friends to join your group and it’s done. Announcements are as easy as hitting the “return” key, and users who might otherwise not go to your website daily now hear from your brand multiple times a week.

3. A Blog* – A blog requires some baby steps to get the maximum benefit out of it, but if you just want to set one up and start sharing your thoughts, then a simple platform like WordPress.com is super easy and the best way to go. All you need to do is define a URL for your blog, and you can be posting to it a few seconds later, e.g. YourBusinessHere.Wordpress.com.

That being said, the distinct benefit of a system like WordPress is twofold: it can be built easily, and it can morph into something much bigger and better down the road. Some small-to-medium sized businesses even use it as a template for their website: which means it can be easily managed and updates without any code – and it’s easy to include pieces from social giants like Facebook and Twitter as you go. The other great thing about WordPress is that you can eventually purchase your own domain for your blog, or fold it into your websites domain as well.

Once you have these 3 pieces set up, you’ve just laid a great foundation for future content marketing success. Sure, you can hire someone to update your website to include these new features, or you can convert your site into a WordPress blog, or spend money on making any of them look nicer… but at the onset as you “experiment” and try new ways to create content and share thoughts with your users – the only cost is the time you put in and the only skills you need are fingers and the internet, so why not give it a shot? It might just change the way you (content) market.

image: www.internetbillboards.com 

Originally posted on the ListEngage Blog – written by Kim Lindquist

Getting Targeted As The Dog Days Dwindle

Originally written for and posted on ListEngage’s Blog: 

It’s the end of August, one of the traditionally slowest months for productivity and growth for many industries — and maybe you found a little dip in your email marketing ROI this summer? All of those “Out of Offices” and clicking latencies are precisely the reason it’s time to restructure your email goals — and plan to hit your targets dead-on once “school’s back in session”.

So this summer, as the dog days dwindle – why not swing back into action with

3 Fool-proof Ways to Deliver Targeted Email Marketing:

Send Emails Based on Attributes: Your “Master List” is a living database of all of your many, and uniquely different subscribers. If you’re a sporting goods store who knows their customers favorite sports you can pre-determine that while Joey the runner from Chicago, IL may want nothing to do with your “Fall Footbal Blowout Sale”, Coach Bill in Plano, TX might be looking for all new padding for his defensive line. By sorting on the “Sports” profile attribute and sending the email to Coach while avoiding Joey, you’ve made one football fanatic ecstatic and saved another customer the grief of deleting another email from his inbox!

Drip Campaigns: Someone shows up on your circuit board website and asks for a quote, but certainly isn’t ready to buy. They leave their name and email, and you send them a series of emails based on what you know about your buying cycle. Day 3 after quote, a handy “What to Consider When Buying Circuit Boards Email”; Day 8 after quote, a reminder email; Day 11 after quote a discount coupon worth 10%; and if they happen to buy somewhere in between the mailings stop.

Dynamic Content: Don’t want to make 50 emails with varying content for the 50 states you send to from your Daily Deal website? With dynamic content, a feature that ListEngage is fully versed in, you can create one email and define what content you want to go into a template based off of what data you have on the subscriber. With dynamic content you can send one email and simultaneously feature the daily “Lobster Roll Deal” in Boston and the daily “Wine Tasting Deal” in San Francisco! It’s easy enough to pull together and a tremendous time-saver that delivers targeted results.

What other email marketing efforts has your team taken on and had success? Leave a thought below.

Mobile Browsing Soars – Social Tops the Charts

Just walk down a crowded side walk at rush hour – and try not to bump into someone posting Facebook updates on their iPhone, checking in at the train station, or tweeting about work that day. It doesn’t take a super-sleuth to see that Americans are using their mobile devices more than ever to browse the web, check email, and update on social networks. But, the actual percentage of increase in mobile browsing from last year to this year – 45.7% to nearly 64 million users in total – is pretty mind blowing.

Within that growth, social media is posting up the most impressive statistics; it had the highest growth recorded in any user category. According to a recent study by comScore Mobile Lens, the number of users who accessed social media sites via mobile device “almost daily” increased more than 70% Year over Year as of March 2011.

So what does this phenomenon mean for mobile web users, and what sort of ripple effect will it have on industries that rely on these users? In the short term, it means more advertisers will start venturing into mobile where they can find new audiences, our data providers will likely have to invest double-time (and hopefully not charge double) in these new networks and, of course, you might have to pay a little more attention to all of those crazy new mobile browsers and updaters who have been let loose on the crowded sidewalks!

This post was originally written for and featured on the ListEngage Blog – written by Kim Lindquist.