Monthly Archives: March 2012
If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of an email newsletter, you’ve likely been more bored than that shamelessly cute baby to the right. I get it — when you’re not sure what to write, but you feel like an email has to go out, why not send an update about products, services, and what’s going on at your company?
Unfortunately, the result is often a whole lot of generic, irrelevant content sent to a poorly segmented list — and that results in low open/click-through rates and lots of unsubscribes. That means best case scenario, your reputation is dinged in your subscribers’ eyes; worst case scenario, your reputation is dinged by Return Path and future email deliverability is negatively impacted.
But there are awesome email newsletters out there. So what separates the triumphs from the tragedies? And how do you ensure your email newsletter is successful? This blog post will break down why email newsletters fail, and how you can ensure your recipients love every newsletter you send!
Why Email Newsletters Often Fail, and How to Make Yours Succeed
First, let’s define what an email newsletter is, and what it isn’t. An email newsletter is an email from a business that communicates announcements about products, services, industry, or general company information. It includes a mix of content, like event reminders, surveys, educational information about your product, service, or industry, and promotions and other offers.
An email newsletter is not a dedicated promotional email that contains information about just one offer; a digest that simply summarizes a roundup of content you’ve published; a lead nurturing email (though a side effect certainly may be a better nurtured lead); or a transactional email that provides order information or prompts a shopper to complete a purchase. These other types of emails are important parts of your email marketing strategy, and you can learn more about them in this blog post.
Now that we’re all on the same page, let’s examine why email newsletters often fail, and what you can do to prevent said failure.
Poorly Segmented List
As with any email marketing, the content in your email newsletter should be relevant to your audience. And that doesn’t happen without list segmentation. The problem is, often email newsletters are sent as the catch-all content — it’s so generic, it can apply to everybody on your email list!
Or no one at all … because as we’ll discuss in more detail in the next section of this post, generic content doesn’t get you far. Your email newsletter should only go out to those recipients who are interested in the subject matter of the newsletter. I can tell you right now that there are people on HubSpot’s own email list that don’t give a whit (not a typo) about marketing automation, but are extremely interested in how to get leads from social media; and vice versa. If my newsletter focuses on the latest social media developments — is it wise to send that newsletter to subscribers who wanted to hear about marketing automation software? I think not.
There are two ways to remedy this. The first is to marry the interests of both list segments and write a newsletter about, say, social media marketing automation. The more list segments you have, however, the more difficult it will become to create newsletter content that applies to everyone. If you’re facing this problem, the better solution is to tailor content to each list segment. This means either segmenting lists yourself and creating newsletter content that is relevant to that list segment, or letting recipients opt in to newsletters about a specific subject matter.
Finally, whenever you create a call-to-action on your website for a visitor to sign up for your email newsletter, be as clear as possible about the content of that newsletter. Setting these expectations up front will help you capture those who truly want the content your newsletter will cover, and filter out those who will ultimately be disappointed with the content of your email.
When properly segmented, email newsletters have one of the highest click-through rates (CTRs) of all email types — far exceeding promotional or transactional messages. This is the first step you should take on your way to creating a successful email newsletter.
Email newsletters often suffer from a few types of information overload: either the breadth of information covered is too wide, the quantity of information is too overwhelming for any reader to actually consume, and/or the information is just plain not interesting. Let’s break down how to avoid each of these problems.
We’ll begin with the issue of covering too wide a breadth of information, which we touched on in the first section of this post. If you send an email about too many subjects, it’s too unfocused to be relevant to anyone. Let’s play a game of “one of these things is not like the other” to demonstrate the concept further. You run email marketing for a clown college, and for your next email newsletter, you want to touch on the following topics:
- Clown financial aid application deadline
- Clown work study programs
- Clown intramural sports leagues
- Student loan options for clowns
What would you leave out? The information about sports leagues, right? It’s not that some of your prospective and current clown students aren’t interested in sports clubs at the school, it’s just that not all of them will be — and doesn’t it make sense to talk about what that entire list segment does care about (paying for school) and save the sports talk for another list segment that does care about extracurriculars?
Just as you should provide your readers a focused subject matter in your emails, you should help them maintain that focus by limiting the amount of text in the email. Often email newsletters try to write an entire article about their subject matter — but is an email really the place to detail what options clowns have for student loans? If it requires more than a couple sentences of explanation, a web page is the more appropriate venue. Write a brief description of the content in your email newsletter, then include a link to read more on your website so your reader isn’t overwhelmed with text in the email. Not only is this easier to consume, but it also drives visitors to your website, provides opportunities for reconversion, and gets you more indexable pages filled with great content to improve your SEO!
Finally, newsletters often suffer from talking about information that no one cares about, which usually takes the form of self-promotional content. It’s not that you shouldn’t talk about your product, service, or company — that’s part of the definition of an email newsletter. But there’s a way to present that information that demonstrates value for the reader, instead of appearing like a relatively meaningless press release or announcement. Ask yourself the “so what?” of any announcement you’re making. For example, why does it matter to the reader that you’re launching a new product? Will it make them better at their jobs? If so, how? Announce the feature, and then explain the end benefit of that feature for your reader. If you can’t think of an end benefit, nix the content from your newsletter.
In most email marketing, with every new call-to-action you include, the effectiveness of each is diluted more and more. So in an email newsletter with so many different pieces of content contained therein — surveys, deadlines, offers, product launches, etc. — it’s easy to break one of the cardinal rules of email marketing: including only one call-to-action!
So how do you get past this? The first step is acceptance — there will be more than one call-to-action in your email newsletter. But that doesn’t mean they have to compete with one another. Take a step back, and ask yourself what you want your recipients to do when they read your newsletter. What’s the point?
Let’s revisit our clown financial aid example. Perhaps the email marketing manager decided the point of the newsletter is to show prospective students the options they have at their disposal to pay for school — financial aid, work study, and student loans. These may all point to different pages on the website when the reader clicks through on the story, but the call-to-action on each of those pages could point to one all-inclusive guide about paying for clown college. The end goal is the same: getting clowns to pay for school. Each of those pieces of content, the pages a reader lands on when they click through, and the calls-to-action available to them on those pages all contribute to that goal.
You can also use design to emphasize one particular story over others. For example, if the financial aid deadline is the most important part of the newsletter, it should act as a feature story and take up more room in the newsletter than the rest of the stories. In fact, let’s look at how else design can make or break your email newsletter.
Inconsistent Design and Layout
Because email newsletters are a compilation of stories, many businesses change the appearance of the emails from send to send to accommodate the ever-changing content. It makes sense — images could be different sizes from week to week, there might be an uneven balance of content, or you can’t decide which content should be prioritized. But instead of making the difficult choices, marketers often just adapt their newsletter design to accommodate that send’s specific needs.
Don’t do it! Not only does it take lots of time to edit your email template, but it confuses your regular readers. Use a standard format for every single newsletter so it is recognizable to your subscribers. That means the same layout, the same image alignment, and the same placement of links and calls-to-action so your reader can scan and find the information they want. For example, I get a weekly email from Urban Daddy called “The Weekender” that summarizes events going on around Boston that I might be interested in. Take a look.
Notice how the format for each story follows the same structure, as does the overall email. First, I know I can scan the email for big, bold days; so if I want an activity for Saturday, I can scroll down to that day. And if I find one heading or picture that interests me, I know I can read a short blurb of copy, and find more information via the link in the story’s footer — along with date, time, location, and contact information. Following this consistency for every email means when I see it in my inbox, I know it won’t require a lot of my time to scan and consume the information I want.
Vague Subject Lines
This is an easy fix, but such a common email newsletter faux pas. Often, the subject of an email newsletter is something along the lines of Weekly [Company X] Newsletter or Monthly [Product Y] Update. What does this mean? What will the reader learn? The interesting part of the email isn’t the frequency at which the recipient receives it — it’s the juicy information you’re divulging!
Let’s continue to work off the Urban Daddy example above. The subject line of that email is:
UD | Waffles, $1 Oysters, and… Iceland
They don’t mention that this is the weekly digest I receive — I already know that’s what Urban Daddy sends me! Instead, they mention some of the best offers around Boston this weekend that prompt me to open the email. Just as you must demonstrate the “so what” within the email copy, so must you explain the value of the email with a descriptive and enticing subject line.
Email newsletters have the opportunity to be chock full of interesting content, and as such are a very useful inbound marketing tool. So it’s a shame when marketers put significant time and effort into compiling and sharing their best announcements, offers, and content in an email newsletter, only to have it fall on deaf ears. Use these tips to ensure your next email newsletter is a smashing success and leads to an ever-increasing, dedicated list of subscribers that look forward to reading your email content.
What components of email newsletters do you find valuable? Share your recommendations in the comments!
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Your Facebook business page is a haven for well-crafted status updates, photos, and links — it’s the ultimate content-sharing platform. But in order to understand which content you post is actually benefiting your business, you need to take the time to analyze your Facebook Insights (Facebook’s proprietary business page analytics tool) to capitalize on what works and wave au revoir to what doesn’t.
Trouble is, if you’ve ever exported data from Facebook Insights, you understand the overwhelming nature of what you receive. With multiple sheets and columns of never-ending data points, it can be hard to know what you’re looking at, let alone what the data means! Many of the data points are repetitive and/or provide no way to improve your marketing. This post will delve into exactly what you need to extract and analyze in order to learn how to improve your Facebook content strategy. Either follow along with the video tutorial, or read the steps below.
Let’s get started!
1) Export With the Right Settings
First, we need to export the data. Go to your Facebook Insights tool (you can access it through your Admin Panel in the new page design) and click the “Export Data” button above the graph and to the right. Choose the following settings, specifying the date range you want to analyze:
2A) Trim the Useless Fat
As we mentioned before, Facebook provides you with an overwhelming amount of data. It’s no wonder we don’t see more people exporting and making important marketing decisions based off them — you don’t even know what you’re looking at! In fact, there are so many columns of different data points, that it goes beyond the alphabetically categorized columns in Excel, which must start marking columns using two letters.
Note: Each of the data points below are split into three separate data points in your exported insights: daily, weekly, and 28 days. We are focusing on daily — social media moves too fast to be focusing on the impact your content has on a weekly or monthly basis. According to StatCounter, the half-life of a shared link on Facebook is about 3.2 hours (the point in time when a link has garnered half of the engagement it will ever receive). Thus, it’s essentially a waste of your time to look past daily.
Now, let’s trim all the excess fat. Delete columns bolded in black, and keep columns bolded in orange below.
- People Talking About This: DELETE. This is the number of people sharing stories about your page. At first glance, that sounds lovely. But this includes people who like your page, people who post on your wall, and even people who RSVP to one of your events. The action of liking (or unliking) a page or declining an event are not actions that show any sort of engagement with the brand — or even indicate that people are talking about you.
- Page Stories: DELETE. This metric is the “number of stories created by your page.” How is that different from above, or what makes it different? Facebook doesn’t tell us, and if you don’t know exactly what it means — cut it.
- Lifetime Total Likes: KEEP. This is the number of people who have liked your page by that day. This is an important figure for observing how your content posting is translating into more attention and more people liking your page, letting you know they want to receive your content.
- New Likes and Unlikes: DELETE. Spending your time tracking the increases and decreases in your page likes will only frustrate you. What’s more important is to focus on is how your overall number of lifetime likes is trending.
- Friends of Fans: KEEP. This is the fans of all the lifetime likes listed above (AKA all the people who could possibly see your content). This is your pool of people who will potentially see what you’re posting. We’ll discuss this more in the next step.
- Engaged Users: DELETE. Oooh that sounds nice! Don’t be fooled by the buzzword. Facebook tells us this is the “number of people engaged with your page.” This is as vague as page stories. If we don’t know how they’re engaging, we can’t use this metric.
- Reach: DELETE. The endless reach numbers provided in your exported sheet — organic, paid or viral — focuses on the number of people who have seen your content. “Seeing” your content could mean a user scrolled past it in their feed, or it popped on their ticker. That doesn’t mean they actually looked at. There’s a big difference. Toss it.
- Impressions: DELETE. Impressions is a measure of the number of times your content or page was seen. There’s no specificity as to who actually saw it, what they saw, or if there was any interaction with it. Who cares if they saw your page if they didn’t do something when they arrived?
- Logged-In Users: DELETE. While your public page may be seen by users in search engine results, we can assume that most people who saw your content did so while logged into Facebook. Regardless, knowing whether they were logged in or not is not the focus of your analysis.
- Page Consumers: DELETE. We’re getting warmer. This metric tells you the number of people who clicked on any of your content on your page. A link, a photo, a status. It even excludes useless clicks such as clicking your like button. This is what we want, but there’s a better metric coming next that we’ll use instead.
- Page Consumption: KEEP. While this metric sounds exactly the same as the one above, it’s even better. This data point doesn’t focus on the number of people who consumed your content, but rather the number of total page consumption. One “consumer” could be consuming more than one post on your page, so this metric would count those two clicks as two clicks rather than one click from “one consumer” as in the metric above. This is what you want. You want to know that, of the content you are posting, how much of it is actually being consumed — actually being clicked.
- Negative Feedback: DELETE. Having any social account means you’re ready to take the heat when things get negative and address them. You shouldn’t be focusing your time on analyzing how much of it you’re receiving, as it’s very difficult to measure how to prevent someone from having a negative experience. Sometimes it’s due to being in a bad mood and nothing to do with your actual brand. Facebook also doesn’t say how it determines if a comment is negative.
- Check-Ins: DELETE. This is the number of check-ins at your business. Certain business pages don’t even allow users to “check-in” because the company page is not a brick and mortar type business. For businesses that do focus on people physically coming into their store, this could be interesting to look at, but for this particular content analysis, it serves no purpose in determining how it can benefit what you’re posting on your actual page.
Facebook also gives you other sheets of content which you can use for a deeper look into your analytics. But for the purposes of this tutorial, we’ll focus on the “key metrics” that will help you make better marketing content strategy decisions on Facebook.
2B) The Meaty Data
After you’ve trimmed all the fat, you’re left with three data points: Lifetime Total Likes, Daily Friends of Fans, and Daily Page Consumption. This is the meat of your data; the figures that will help you understand how your content is performing on Facebook. Lifetime Total Likes tells you exactly how many people like your page, Daily Friends of Fans tells you how many friends of those total likes can be reached — your true total reach. Then, Daily Page Consumption tells you the number of people (out of the possible number of people who could have been reached) that were actually reached.
3) Fine-Tune the Metrics You Need
Now that we’ve narrowed down that massive sheet to three main data points, let’s insert a new column next to your “Daily Friends of Fans” column, and name it “Total Daily Reach.” Click the first row of your newly created column and start typing =SUM into the row. Then click on the first data point in your “Daily Friends of Fans” column, insert a plus sign, and click the first data point in your “Lifetime Total Likes” column. Hit enter, and you will have the sum of those two metrics. Then highlight the sum, hit copy, and drag the corner of the box down to populate the entire column with data (Check ~4:30 in the video above if you need more help with this step). You’ll see that Lifetime Total Likes and Daily Friends of Fans have now totaled to represent the Total Daily Reach your Facebook page has — every single person who could possibly see your content.
Now we have two key insights: 1) the total number of people who could have possibly consumed your content, and 2) the actual number of people who consumed it.
4) Make the Data Pretty
Now you can go ahead and create a visual representation of your two key metrics to understand the full picture of what is going on.
First, highlight the “Date” column as well as the “Daily Total Reach” column. Click Charts –> Line Chart –> Stacked Line. You should get something like this, which will indicate the growth of your total Facebook reach:
Chart A: Total Facebook Reach Growth
Now repeat these steps, instead highlighting the “Date” column as well as the “Total Post Consumption” column. The resulting chart should be much more interesting, as it represents trends in how people are either increasingly or decreasingly clicking on and consuming the content you’re publishing to your Facebook page.
Chart B: Daily Post Consumption
5) Extract Conclusions
While pretty charts can also help you impress your boss in marketing meetings, what you really need to do now to make this all worthwhile is to look at the data and correlate it with what you’re posting on Facebook. For example, analyze why there are instances of your line decreasing (this indicates a drop in engagement) on one day, and why is there a spike on another day (which indicates an increase in engagement)?
Using HubSpot’s Facebook page as an example, from Chart A we generated in step 4, we see that there is a constant increase in our total Facebook reach. We don’t have much to be concerned with since the reach number is steadily increasing, but if that chart was inconsistently jumping up and down, showing a decrease, or showing no change, then we would probably want to test new Facebook campaigns and try posting different types of content to figure out how we could positively impact our reach growth. Ultimately, the more expansive the reach you have, the more opportunities you’ll have to convert Facebook fans into leads and customers for your business. And isn’t that the ultimate goal?
This leads us to the “Daily Post Consumption” chart (Chart B) we also generated in step 4 — the actual number of people who were reached and are consuming our content. As you can see, something happened that led to a slow decrease in HubSpot’s click-through rates (CTR). As a result of this analysis, the HubSpot social media team looked through the content we published to Facebook on certain days to identify which content posts were not being clicked or engaged with on our page.
By taking the time to relate individual posts with their clicks, you can analyze which types of content perform well on your page. In HubSpot’s case, by doing so, we were able to get our act together, cut out what wasn’t working, and post more of what was working, helping us to spike up our engagement rate once more, as illustrated in the graph.
6) Constantly Analyze
Now you have a system in place that will allow you analyze your Facebook content strategy daily, weekly, or monthly — whenever you choose to check in on your metrics (we suggest often!). Save your original exported sheet, and add to that every time you update. By tracking your progress, you’ll never be caught off guard when you start noticing that traffic and leads from Facebook are suddenly on the decline. Remember, more engagement with your Facebook content leads to better potential for traffic and leads from Facebook.
There you have it! Hopefully the daunting task of understanding Facebook Insights to improve your content strategy is now a valuable process for your marketing team.
If you need help figuring out what content you should be posting to increase engagement and how you can use that to reach those “Friends of Fans,” be sure to attend workshops three and four of our upcoming webinar series with Facebook, Facebook for Business: 4 Steps to Success. Then you’ll have a complete system in place to not only analyze, but to also make improvements to your Facebook content strategy!
How else are you using Facebook Insights to improve your Facebook marketing strategy?
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By Robert BazellChief science and medical correspondentNBC News
Two thought provoking and disturbing studies out Wednesday raise major questions about conduct of the “War on Cancer.” One examines the quality of basic research and the other concludes that h … Continue reading
By Robert BazellChief science and medical correspondentNBC News
Two thought provoking and disturbing studies out Wednesday raise major questions about conduct of the “War on Cancer.” One examines the quality of basic research and the other concludes that … Continue reading
Too often, marketing is just plain bad. The problem is that bad marketing often works better than no marketing at all. Inbound marketing is helping to change this by creating marketing that people love, which luckily also results in 61% lower lead costs.
In the transition to marketing that people actually like and use, too often there are still remnants from annoying, spammy, and interruptive marketing. But change is hard and doesn’t happen overnight. So let’s look at some aspects of your inbound marketing that might need to be refreshed to make the rest of your marketing more useful and likable. While these aren’t new and shiny like social media or mobile marketing, they are crucial to the foundation of your inbound marketing strategy.
7 Aspects of Inbound Marketing That People Usually Botch (And What to Do About Them)
1) Customer Testimonials
Does it sound like a robot wrote your customer testimonials? Do your customers sound so flattering that they must have been bribed endlessly to have ever said such kind words about your product or service? Contrived testimonials aren’t believable. Your customers aren’t stupid; they can spot fake or overblown reviews from a mile away. Don’t rely on short customer testimonials that read like someone on the public relations team whipped them up.
Instead, get inbound with your customer testimonials. Follow the lead of web hosting company A Small Orange, which rotates customer tweets on their homepage as testimonials instead of boring and generic quotes.
Check out this blog post for a step-by-step guide on embedding tweets so you can put this technique into action on your own website. And if you’re looking for more guidance about how to generate quality online reviews, we have an online review guide, too!
2) Website Product Pages
Ask three strangers to read your website product pages. Then ask them to state what the products or services are, and what solutions they provide. Can they do it?
The following is an actual paragraph from a manufacturing company’s product page:
“Besides adding new and/or improved equipment, we have dedicated ourselves to continuous process improvement through our APEX (All People, All Process, All Product EXcellence) program. To improve our process and product quality on a continuing basis, the APEX system provides for continuous measurement of performance and continuous feedback from customers and vendors. At each plant, APEX has formal action plans that are continuously updated, to keep day-to-day processes in control, to reduce product variability, and to identify areas for quality improvement.”
Do you understand what this means? I don’t.
Be direct; tell people what they need to know. Take a look at an excerpt of the product page text from Global Plastic Sheeting, a B2B plastics company.
Do you need plastic sheeting that will hold up in the sun or survive harsh conditions? Look no further! We serve a multitude of industries, and are ready to serve you! The goal is to provide the most informative and comprehensive website thus providing great products and a great informational resource. We are leaders in this industry.
“Our products and shipping will save you time and money, and your reputation since you can count on our quality. Global Plastic Sheeting provides our customers with our exact shipping costs; including our significant discounts with NO HANDLING fees or other fees of any kind. No Surprises!”
This copy makes it very clear what they actually sell and why you should buy it from them as opposed to a competitor. It is practical and actionable copy. This type of copy should be on every product page.
You can accomplish this by getting your customers (and even better, complete strangers that aren’t oriented with your company) involved in the copy review process. When you undertake major updates to your website copy, conduct some user testing to get feedback on the content, and make sure that it is communicating the ideas you had intended.
3) Press Releases
Getting media coverage is hugely important, but most press releases are painfully boring. I mean really boring. They make those customer testimonials we talked about at the beginning of this post read like a Stephen King novel. Yes, sometimes you need to write and distribute a press release, but when that is the case, it is important to shape them in the form of the rest of your inbound marketing — as helpful, educational, shareable content.
So how do you stand out and maintain originality with your press releases? When HubSpot acquired oneforty a few months back, we wrote a press release that consisted of a series of tweets. Since oneforty as a company was based on Twitter, it made sense to do a twist on the traditional press release in this way. Great press releases are interesting and contextual in this way; tie the content and style of your release to the news you are announcing.
If a tweeted press release isn’t up your alley, here are a few tips for executing more press releases in a more inbound-friendly fashion:
- Include visual data such as graphs and infographics to tell your story in a quick and powerful way.
- Only include quotes that actually say something novel. When quoting executives, for example, make sure that the quote actually says something interesting and new as opposed to simply rubber-stamping the existing ideas within the release.
- Make press release content reflective of the news sites you are targeting. If you are targeting a specific group of journalists and publications, then don’t follow a standard press release template. Instead, write in a style similar to those you are targeting to make it easier for them to include you in a story.
- Search engine optimize your press release for the keywords you want to get found for, and direct readers back to a targeted page on your website; not your homepage.
4) Bad Stock Photography
Great inbound marketing is puts a huge emphasis on compelling content — and content doesn’t only mean text. It also encompasses things like videos, podcasts, content visualizations, and, unfortunately, those terrible stock photos of people who don’t work at your company analyzing a graph or collaborating around a white board. And it’s time for those stock photos to go far, far away.
Great photography makes a difference. When someone sees a person on your website, they want to know that those people actually work for your company. To solve this problem, make the investment in hiring a photographer to take a few custom shots to help bring your website to life and make it more personal.
For example, when conducting A/B testing for landing pages here at HubSpot, we’ve taken snapshots of employees and tested conversion rates based on the pictures of different HubSpotters (talk about pressure!). Taking your own photos gives you the ability to customize images for specific situations and landing page tests. If you have a good photographer on your team, you’re just some lighting equipment away from a website full of customized and engaging images.
5) Mounds of Meaningless Text
Kill the jargon. You don’t win a medal (or more customers) for using words no one outside of your office understands. Even worse is taking all that jargon and cramming it into a blog post or web page that would cause instant anxiety for anyone unfortunate enough to stumble across it.
The first step in fixing this problem is to clearly identify the key jargon terms in your industry that are largely unknown by your customers. Make a list of these words, and audit your website copy referencing this list, replacing the jargon with words and phrases used by your customers. To come up with these replacement words, you should actually talk to your customers. It is easy for Marketing to become disconnected from customers, but it’s crucial for maintaining meaningful personas and creating content that resonates with your audience. Keep hold of this list of industry jargon, add to it as new terms crop up, and refer to it when creating content to make sure nothing on the list creeps into blog posts or website content.
6) ‘About Us’ Page
Most ‘About Us’ pages are self indulgent, superficial, and read primarily by your executive’s parents. Let’s change that by making an ‘About Us’ page that is actually awesome. Take a look at Twitter’s ‘About Us’ page, for example:
First and foremost, Twitter describes itself in one clear and bold sentence above all other page components, followed by brief but specific information about key aspects of its platform. Here’s how you can reinvent your ‘About Us’ page to be equally remarkable:
- Include a clear pitch for what the company is all about. This pitch should come in two different forms: the first is a clear, one-sentence statement, and the second is through a 30-90 second video that explains the company’s product or service offering.
- Next, identify the 3-5 key strategic business opportunities that your company is currently focused on. These could be recruiting, channel sales, increasing third-party development, etc. Once you have identified these strategic opportunities, make sure you have content on your ‘About Us’ page to drive visitors to the appropriate pages for each objective.
- Create a clear subnavigation. Your ‘About Us’ page is merely a tool to give new visitors insight into your business and send them to the appropriate section of your website for information that is of interest to them. Having a clear navigation on the side of your ‘About Us’ page will provide a clear path for people to go deeper into your website and learn more.
7) Email Newsletter
People love email marketing when they get personalized and relevant offers, but often the worst offender of doing email the wrong way is the overused and under-planned email newsletter. The probem is that when it comes to email marketing, if you try to be everything to everyone, the result is apathy and plummeting numbers in your email analytics dashboard.
Don’t send the same newsletter to your entire email list. Instead, customize different content and newsletter sections based on the recipient’s interests. Segment your email list based on the content individuals have looked at or downloaded from your website, and align your content with their past consumption habits.
For example, if you are a a company that sells manufacturing ventilation equipment, you’d likely would want to send out different content in your email newsletter depending on the time of year; but that isn’t enough. Instead, start collecting information beyond just an email address for people subscribing to your newsletter. Something as simple as asking people the age of their ventilation equipment would allow you to create and send different newsletter content based on the maintenance needs of ventilation equipment at certain ages.
What aspects of inbound marketing do you think are frequently executed poorly, but have tremendous room for improvement?
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Good morning, here’s where we start:
- Passengers describe JetBlue captain’s meltdown
- George Zimmerman accused of domestic violence, fighting with a police officer
- Newt Gingrich cuts a third of his staff, reduces travel
And did you see…
- Lorax statue stolen f … Continue reading
It’s a sad fact, but your email marketing database degrades by about 25% every year. Your contacts’ email addresses change as they move from one company to another, they opt-out of your email communication, or they abandon that old AOL address they only use to fill out forms on websites.
As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure you’re constantly adding fresh contacts to your email marketing campaigns so you can keep your numbers moving up and to the right. If you’re not working on growing your email list already (or you’ve run out of creative ideas to do so), here are 25 simple ways to build up that email list.
25 Ways to Grow Your Email Marketing List
1) Create remarkable email content. Your content needs to be amazing if you want people to stay subscribed — and if you want them to forward it to their friends, family, and colleagues that aren’t already on your email list.
2) Create a new lead-gen offer — like a free ebook or whitepaper — and require visitors to provide their email address in order to download it. If you’re having trouble coming up with new offers, this blog post provides suggestions for ways to simply and quickly create lead-gen content.
3) Host an online webinar and collect email addresses at registration.
4) Create a free, online tool or resource and have users sign up with their email address. For example, HubSpot has created plenty of free tools to use for prospect and lead generation — most recently Marketing Grader.
5) Add a QR code to your print marketing collateral that people can scan to opt in to your email database.
6) Promote an online contest like a free giveaway, and have entrants sign up or submit with their email address.
7) Add an email signup call-to-action as a custom tab on your Facebook page. If you’re not sure how, we’ve written a blog post on the subject! Then feature that tab in the Views and Apps section of your new Facebook page design.
Run a promotion on a partner or affiliate website to collect email addresses from a fresh source.
9) Collect email addresses at offline events like trade shows, and import them into your database. Be sure to send these contacts a welcome email that confirms their opt-in to your list.
10) Encourage your current email subscribers to share and forward your emails by including social sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” button so their networks, friends, and colleagues can sign up for your list. Include a “Subscribe” link at the bottom of your emails so those receiving the forwarded emails can easily opt-in, too.
11) Create a Google AdWords email capture ad (Note: This feature is still an AdWords experiment but is being implemented by a handful of companies), or simply leverage paid search ads to link to a landing page with and email sign-up.
12) Create multiple email subscriptions types that you use to send more targeted content to specific segments of your marketing personas. Your audience may not want to be in one, general campaign, but they prefer to be in a campaign that’s targeted to their specific interests. If you create multiple, targeted subscription types, you’ll increase the likelihood of visitors subscribing to one of them.
13) When creating content for guest blogging opportunities, include a call-to-action and link for readers to subscribe to your site’s blog or email database in your author byline.
14) Promote one of your lead-gen offers on Twitter. Create a Twitter campaign to promote an offer like an ebook or a free resource to your followers that requires an email address to redeem.
15) Use your Facebook business page to promote an offer that requires an email address submission. In addition to creating a tab dedicated to email sign up, promote offers in your timeline and encourage your leads to share and like your offers on Facebook by adding a social sharing button on your landing pages and thank-you pages.
16) Target offers redeemable using an email address on your LinkedIn Company Page or in appropriate and relevant LinkedIn groups, or recommend an offer as the answer to someone’s question in LinkedIn Answers.
17) Promote offers and email signup through your Google+ business page by making use of your Google+ updates and your Google+ about section.
18) Use Pinterest to promote offers that require email signup. HubSpot, for example, created a HubSpot Pinterest page, and by pinning the covers of our useful, information-rich, marketing ebooks, we’ve been able to generate new leads and grow our email list.
19) Leverage your company’s YouTube channel. Add calls-to-action and URLs at the end of the videos you upload to encourage people to subscribe to your list, and include links to relevant landing pages in your videos’ text descriptions.
20) Promote an ebook or relevant offer through an affiliate or partner email newsletter that targets a new but appropriate audience. This will give you access to a fresh subscriber base.
21) Encourage prospects in a traditional marketing campaign, like direct mail, to opt in to receive email communications instead. Include a URL to an online signup, and allow readers to opt out of direct mail. You’ll even save some trees in the process!
22) Host your own offline, in-person events like meetups, conferences, hackathons, educational panels, etc., and collect registrations online using email addresses.
23) Link to offers that capture email signups throughout your website. Don’t make people dig around your site to stumble across subscription options. Keep your offers up front, and include calls-to-action on just about every page of your website. Key places to consider are your website’s homepage, the main page of your blog, your ‘About Us’ page, and your ‘Contact Us’ page.
24) Reinvigorate a stale email list with an opt-in campaign. Do you have an older list that you think is mostly decayed? Create an engaging opt-in message and send it to your old list encouraging contacts who wish to re-opt-in and promising to remove all contacts who don’t respond.
25) Host a co-marketing webinar with a partner, and ask them to promote the registration to their audience.
These are all examples of things you can start doing today to increase your business’ email database. Many of them are not complicated or difficult to implement. The key is to attack email list-building from as many angles as possible. As you grow your email list with fresh, opt-in contacts, you’ll be able to nurture them with middle-of-the-funnel offers that allow you to convert early-stage leads into sales-ready leads.
What other creative ways to grow your email list did we miss? Share your ideas in the comments. White-hat tactics only, please!
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A version of this opinion article appeared Mar. 27, 2012, on page A13 in some U.S. editions of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Corporate America’s Military Opportunity. It is being re-posted here with permission.
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Aaah, the elusive lead-capture form. Such a seemingly simple element of inbound marketing, yet also the subject of frequent debate, particularly when it comes to deciding just how many fields to include on that bad boy. How many is too many? How many just isn’t enough?
As marketers everywhere struggle to strike the right balance between requiring too much and too little information, many are left thinking, what’s the magical form field sweet spot? Most experts will tell you to ask only for the information you need to effectively contact and qualify a lead, but surely it’s not that simple. Let’s dive into how you should make the decision about what is the right form length for your business.
Form Length Isn’t the Only Factor
First things first. While form length is definitely a factor, marketers must realize that a person’s willingness to complete a form isn’t only dependent on the length of the form. There are a number of factors contributing to your landing page’s conversion rate, and form length is only one of them. It’s important to recognize this, because you shouldn’t just assume that adjusting the length of your form will always have a major influence on your page’s conversion rate or the types of leads it generates. Note some of these other major factors that contribute to whether a landing page visitor will complete the form:
- The value of the offer to be redeemed. (Is it valuable enough to the visitor to be worth the form completion?)
- The types of information requested on the form. (Does the form ask for too-sensitive information that dissuades visitors from completing the form?)
- Website credibility and visitors’ perceived sense of privacy/security. (Does the visitor trust the website enough to feel secure in providing their personal information?)
Marketers must understand that all of the factors above — not just form length — can contribute to landing page friction and, thus, impact conversion. Now that we’ve gotten that understanding out of the way, let’s hone in on form length and how to decide what length is best for you.
Do You Need More New Leads, or More High Quality Leads?
This is the single most important question you need to ask yourself when deciding on form length. In a nutshell, the length of your form inevitably leads to a tradeoff between the quantity and quality of the leads you generate. A shorter form usually means more people will be willing to fill it out, so you’ll generate more leads. But the quality of the leads will be higher when visitors are willing to complete more forms fields and provide you with more information about themselves and what they’re looking for.
Therefore, shorter forms usually result in more overall leads, while longer forms will result in fewer, but higher quality leads. So when deciding on the length of your forms, make sure to involve your sales team in the discussion. Your decision on form length should hinge on whether you need more leads, or whether you need better leads, and input from your sales organization should be critical to that decision-making process. Let’s examine each scenario in more detail.
Scenario 1: You Need More Leads
If your sales team is suffering from an overall deficiency in leads and could benefit from more leads to work in general, this is an indication that your forms should be short and simple to eliminate as much friction as possible. The key here is to ask for enough information that allows you to contact your leads (i.e. name, email address, phone number), but to limit unnecessary form fields that only help to qualify leads and, thus, increase the likelihood potential leads will abandon your landing page without converting.
You may want to ask for more than just your leads’ contact information to give your sales team more background on leads upfront, but remember, you can always ask for more information later in the sales process. Too often, companies request all kinds of contact information, neglecting to realize that their 15-field forms are significantly lowering conversion rates.
Scenario 2: You Need Higher Quality Leads
If raw, overall number of net new leads isn’t a problem for your sales team, but rather they’re wasting time trying to sift through lots of leads to separate the bad ones from the quality ones, this means you’d probably benefit from using your forms to better qualify your leads and help you separate the wheat from the chaff.
To help achieve this, longer forms will do the trick. They’ll deter people who aren’t legitimately interested in your business from completing multiple fields, but they’ll capture people who are interested enough to complete the longer form. Additionally, longer forms will collect more information that helps sales people learn more about and further qualify leads before deciding whether to pursue them. Longer forms will save salespeople the trouble of contacting leads who they know aren’t typically a good fit for the products/services your business offers.
So if lead quality, not quantity, is a bigger issue for your business, what types of form fields should you be adding to your forms? In short, any field that would collect information to allow you to determine whether a lead is high quality or not. Obviously, this will vary from business to business, and it will greatly depend on the buyer personas you’ve identified as your ideal target customers. If you have a clear understanding of the details that make up your buyer personas, you can start to understand which types of information you should ask for on your form to decide whether or not your new leads fit those personas and how strong those leads are — in other words, how likely they are to become a customer. The questions on your form could reveal background information such as demographics, location, industry, company name/website, role, etc. For example, if you’re a local plumber serving only home or building owners in a specific geographic location, you might ask prospective leads to include their location. Doing so would allow you to weed out any bad leads who are outside of the locations you service.
You might also want to add in a question or two that would allow you to gauge their need for your product, their likelihood to purchase your service, or their fit with your company. For example, HubSpot sells marketing software, and all of the forms on our landing pages include an optional field that asks the visitor to describe their biggest marketing challenge. We use this information to learn more about and qualify our leads before putting them into our sales funnel.
Test to Determine Your Form Field Sweet Spot
Once you’ve fit yourself into one of the two scenarios above — or if you think you might fall somewhere in the middle — the best thing to do to determine your ideal form length is to do some A/B testing. If you’re a HubSpot customer using HubSpot Enterprise, our Advanced Landing Pages tool makes it very easy to A/B test your landing pages, and you could specifically use it to test form lengths to determine your form field sweet spot. Here’s how to test for each scenario discussed above:
Scenario A (You Need More Leads): Test a landing page using a longer form against the same landing page using a shorter form (or test multiple form length variations). When analyzing your A/B test, you should be looking to see how the various forms affect conversion rates. The hypothesis is that you will be able to gather more leads from your shorter forms, but if not, another landing page factor may having a bigger impact on your landing page’s conversion rate (remember — form length isn’t the only factor). If this is the case, spend some time optimizing other elements of your landing page such as copy, layout, and offer, and see if those changes positively impact your page’s conversion rate.
Scenario B (You Need Higher Quality Leads): Run an A/B test on a landing page that tests longer forms but puts more of a focus on the different types of fields you include. When analyzing your A/B test, you should be looking for indicators of lead quality. The hypothesis is that your conversion rate will likely go down, but that you’ll notice leads that are higher in quality and easier to qualify right off the bat. You’ll likely need to consult with your sales team about their perception of the quality of the leads you produced from specific landing page variations to help you settle on the right number — and types — of form fields.
For more detailed information about A/B testing, download our free Introduction to Using A/B Testing for Marketing Optimization ebook.
How many form fields do you include on your lead-capture forms? Have you conducted A/B testing to determine your form field sweet spot?
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