How to Best Leverage an Email Marketing Campaign (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post by James Gorski. In addition to being the editor at designrfix and writing about tech, web and graphic design among other subjects, James loves “unplug” and be outdoors hiking and enjoying nature.

In the age of social media, some businesses might think that email marketing campaigns no longer matter. However, email is still an important part of digital marketing and it's something businesses have greater control over. Reaching an intended audience doesn't rely on Facebook algorithms or Google rankings. It does rely on engaging content, consistency, and authenticity. Businesses struggling with leveraging an email campaign take note of these three essential aspects of email marketing.

Write Engaging Content - Not Sales Copy

Yes, the goal of an email campaign is often a vehicle to sell a product or service. When people subscribe to an email list, they know they're going to open their inboxes to a certain amount of hard and soft selling. That being said, not every piece of content written for an email campaign should be about selling. Instead, it needs to be about giving the subscriber value. This goal is achieved by writing engaging content that solves a problem for the subscriber. Or, content that entertains and make the person want to stick around for more.

Email campaigns that provide value, present solutions, and entertain not only get higher engagement, but fewer people hit the unsubscribe button. Remember, an email campaign only works when there are subscribers clicking the open button.

Stick with an Email Schedule

Some campaigns last weeks, while others might only last a day or two. Whatever the timeframe is for a particular campaign, success depends on consistency. Businesses that create an email schedule and stick with it see higher click-through rates and, ultimately, greater sales.

What is the ideal email schedule?

That's a question that each business must decide for itself. Businesses need to consider their customer, the product or service they're selling, and keep in mind that people get 20+ emails in their inbox each day. Email too often and the customer might get overwhelmed and turned off. Send emails too far in between and the customer is likely to forget why they signed up.

Many email marketing providers allow users to test send times. Businesses that don't have a clear idea of when the majority of their subscribers open and read their emails are missing out on powerful data. Take the time to test different send times before engaging in a major email campaign. Send out a few emails referencing company news or a new blog post and try out various send times. Businesses can then use this data to create a send schedule for their future email marketing campaigns.

Be Authentic

Businesses need to have firm grasp on their brand identity and the product or service they sell. The biggest mistake a company can make during an email campaign is trying to mimic other companies' sales copy and voice. Consumers recognize inauthenticity and imposters right away. During email campaigns businesses must write authentic content that speaks directly to their consumers in a manner that the consumer expects.

Because many email providers like Yahoo and Google regularly filter for spam, it's also a good idea for companies to write subject lines that sound like they are talking to friends. Keeping sales copy out of the subject line means businesses have a better chance of ending up in their subscribers' inboxes and not the trash/spam can.

Email marketing offers businesses a solid "in" to their customers inboxes. It's a marketing tool that significantly impacts sales and other actionable responses when done with care. Businesses who take advantage of email marketing benefits nurture consumer relations and, in turn, retain customer loyalty.

Google's Mobile-First Indexing and How it Impacts SEO (Guest Post)

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The following is a guest post by Ivan Serrano. Ivan is an enthusiastic writer who enjoys learning whatever he can about international communications, and hopes to manage his own global business someday. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge of technology and how it can improve business communications on an international level.

Want to make sure that your website is ranking well on Google? What kind of question is that? Of course you do. That being the case, you need to make sure your web design techniques are on par with the way Google currently ranks websites. The fact is that those web design classes you took a few years ago might have given you some valuable foundational skills, but the knowledge you picked up there probably isn’t relevant anymore. That’s because Google is always changing the way it ranks websites in order to account for new trends in technology and user behavior. If you want to stay competitive, you have to keep up with them.

One phrase you may have heard already in recent weeks is mobile-first indexing. If you don’t know what that means yet (or if you’re only coming across it for the first time in this article), then pay close attention to what you’re about to read. Mobile-first indexing refers to Google’s most recent approach to ranking websites. As you may have guessed, this approach involves putting mobile websites ahead of desktop pages.

A Detailed Look at Mobile-First Indexing

To understand mobile-first indexing, it’s vital to first understand the way that Google used to rank websites. Here’s an overview:

  • Google ranks each extant page by crawling it, which means that they use a program to look at the information displayed on the page and determine how relevant it will be to any given keywords typed into the search bar by a user.
  • Google used to use a system called desktop-first indexing, which involved crawling the desktop version of each page first and using that information to determine the rankings for both the mobile and desktop versions of the site in question. Under this system, mobile sites could only provide a small bonus to the rankings.
  • Under mobile-first indexing, the process is more or less reversed. Google now crawls the mobile version of each site first, in order to determine the desktop and mobile rankings for it. It only crawls the desktop version of the site when no mobile version exists.

How Does Mobile-First Indexing Affect SEO?

In light of the above, those of you who work in digital marketing may want to pay closer attention to your mobile websites. The key thing to remember is that mobile-first indexing basically makes your mobile site the primary version of your website. That said, you want to make sure it has all the same information as your desktop page. You also need to make sure that information is arranged and displayed in a way that is convenient for mobile users. Pay attention to the following tips:

Make sure the following is equivalent to your desktop page:

  • Metadata (including social metadata)
  • Structured data
  • XML and links to media sitemaps
  • Search console verification

Make sure the following is updated or optimized for your mobile site:

  • Server capacity (expect a much higher crawl rate on the mobile site)
  • Images and videos (don’t use anything too high-res, as this will take too long to load on a mobile page)
  • Collapse your content and hide it in tabs, since this will be treated the same as visible content on mobile pages.
  • Once you have updated your mobile site, make sure you are using tools such as Google Analytics to obtain feedback you can use to keep improving it. If you are using app indexing on either site, consider implementing Google Analytics into your app through a relevant software development kit.

Mobile-first indexing will not require you to throw out everything you know about web design or SEO and start from the ground up. You’ll simply have to adapt your existing content to account for the changes Google is making. Remember: SEO is an ever-evolving practice, so it pays to stay ahead of the curve.

How to Use Your Customer's Voice to Create Powerful Content That Converts (Guest Post)

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The following is a guest post be Brooklin Nash. Brooklin writes about the latest tools and small business trends for TrustRadius. When he’s not writing, you can find him reading YA dystopian fiction (with guilty pleasure) and cooking.

Creating content that converts may be easier said than done, but the concept is relatively simple. You are looking for content that connects with your target audience and encourages them to move forward in the purchasing decision.

The Power of Your Customer’s Voice

These days, companies have a powerful tool at their disposal: their customers. When approached in the right way, customers are no longer just customers. They can be brand ambassadors - and their voice often speaks louder than your run of the mill marketing content.

Customers now have a worldwide public forum at their fingertips, in the form of social media and review platforms. 90% of online users rely on customer reviews to make a purchase decision. At the same time, people have learned to trust customer reviews nearly as much as a recommendation from a friend.

It’s clear your customers have an opinion and a voice to be shared. So how can you harness your customer’s voice to create content that converts?

Tip #1: Recognize the Power of User-generated Content

The very first step is to recognize just how powerful user reviews can be. Authentic reviews give a voice to your customers, and your customer’s voice give authenticity to your brand. People receive vast amounts of information online, and your company is likely to stand out if it features authentic reviews over marketing language. Incorporating reviews into content marketing has the added benefit of helping out your SEO.

Tip #2: Identify & Own Review Listings

As you get started using your customer’s voice for content, you should make sure you have all the sources you need. Use a backlink research tool to identify which review platforms your company is listed on, and then take the steps to own those listings. This will give you more to work with and make sure only the best information is out there.

Tip #3: Focus on a Variety of Authentic Reviewers

In building up reviews, you should make an effort to get recieve reviews from a broad range of customers. Avoid cherry picking from one set of customers. This is important for a couple of reasons: first, buyers usually look for reviews from people in similar roles and, second, buyers are usually wary of listings with only positive reviews. It can take some time to build up steam, but don’t lose hope! Authentic reviews from a variety of customers will be much better in the long run than positive reviews from a small set of customers.

Tip #4: Leverage Your Customer’s Voice into Powerful Content

Online review platforms can give you a leg up on your competition, but you should also take the active step of changing customer reviews into content. This can take the form of a landing page that features customer quotes, case studies about how you helped specific clients, or social media posts that engage with your customers. All of this is content that is more likely to convert, primarily because they feature your customer’s voice.

Tip #5: Stay Engaged!

Leveraging your customer’s voice is not a passive activity. It takes quite a bit of work - and will be well worth it! Once reviews start to come in, stay engaged with both customers and your target audience. Respond to reviews - both negative and positive. Thanking a customer for leaving a review will show loyalty, and responding to negative reviews will show engagement.

Social listening tools can also help you see what comments, questions and complaints are arising about your brand.

All in all, authentic content is content that converts. Using your customer’s voice will help your brand become more authentic. So start with these tips today!

10 Types of Visual Content on Instagram that Get Shared Like Crazy (Guest Post)

The following is a guest post by Nika Goddard. Nika is a psychologist, writer-freelancer, traveler and just creative person, lover of world cultures, languages, food, wild spaces and urban places by nature.

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The fact that we’re living fast-paced lives is no longer news for anyone. It’s enough to look at a friend or relative and see how crowded their daily schedule is and you will understand that things have changed a lot in the past years. Either if it’s natural or something that came along with progress in technology, one thing is certain: we don’t have time to waste. And that affects every aspect of our behavior, including the way we react to social media posts. It’s no wonder that visual content has 40 times more chances of being shared that any other type of content and the reason behind this is very simple. Seeing an image is very easy to process, understand and choose what to do with it.

Now, that we’ve established that visual content is the one with most chances of being shared on Instagram, is time to see exactly what type of visual content gets the most chances of being spread.

Inspirational Quotes

This is, perhaps, the most shared content ever, since the beginning of internet, something that can even take on cat videos and win. It’s hard to explain what is it about these quotes that make people want to share them. It might be the fact that they give people a warm and fuzzy feeling, inspiring them to take action or something like that. One thing is certain, they work and will always work as far as you can tell.

Human Portraits

There a statistic that shows a post with a human face in it is probably to get up to 40% more likes than a post that does not contain a face in it. But where does this increase in appreciation comes from when dealing with a human face? It’s probably because it can create a personal connection and also taps into emotions of the viewers.

Scenery and Landscapes

It’s no wonder that we, in the digital age, appreciate nature so much. And that’s also applicable to Instagram as well. Posting a breathtaking landscape or a spectacular scene improves the chances of your post to be shared on Instagram. The great thing about landscape photos is that they don’t necessarily have to mean something since every viewer will gave them their own meaning.

Food Photos

Just like the one with human portraits, posting photos good-looking dishes and food in general, will definitely boost your engagement and people will press that share button like crazy. It’s something strongly related to our basic needs and that’s more than enough for our brains to identify food images as positive and likeable.

Photos with Historic Events

Not only historic events but something that has happened in the past, have a way of creating a nostalgic effect on people, leading to reflection and sparking some emotions that stay latent in our subconscious. It’s a very effective theme you can adopt if you want to boost the number of shares on your Instagram account.

Extreme Situations

This has something to do with the previous photos including beautiful landscapes, however, it has a little twist. Every post with you on top of a mountain, rafting or very close to the edge of a waterfall will be automatically liked by any viewer on the Internet since it taps into our adventure need that, for some, are locked down deep inside.

Animals

Yep, of course you anticipated this. It was very clear from the first comparison with cat videos that animals will take their place in this top. And it’s very simple, the world is filled with animal lovers that appreciate seeing pets or any other animals being promoted on social networks.

Backstage Photos

Perhaps this one is a bit surprising for you, however, people always felt the need to discover what’s behind the scenes. To take a peek behind the curtain of a show, rock concert or even a political dispute. This is why, any time of backstage or behind-the-curtain photo has great chances of being shared a lot.

Using Actual Trends

Even though this is a very dynamic aspect of social media, using real-time trends can boost your engagement a lot, as long as you choose your trend properly. For example, you can make your post related to a blockbuster that’s about to be launched or Pokemon.

Video Stories

Still photographs get a lot of attention but videos are on the rise nowadays since they’re a lot easier to follow and they also add the element of unknown that makes you want to click play. Almost every social network awarded priority to video content and it will help you boost engagement as well.

Conclusion

Instagram is still growing and it’s a great opportunity for boosting your engagement, no matter if you’re representing a brand or simply for your personal profile. The best way to proceed would be to combine all the above-mentioned methods in an original way. 

5 Simple Steps to Effective Email Personalization (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by Kimberly Maceda. Kimberly is a content writer for ActiveTrail. She writes for some top online marketing sites and blogging advice on email marketing and marketing automation.

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Gone are the days when one-size-fits-all emails work. Customers today are more hooked on content and messages that appeal to their unique interests and individual needs. So if you are still blasting that one email to your entire list, it's time to stop and rethink your strategy.  

Personalization gives heart to your email. Because your email has a personal touch, customers won't feel like talking to a robot or an automated message.

Using customer data for email marketing personalization allows you to send relevant offers and content. This sends a message to your customers that you take time to know them on a deeper level, enabling you to establish a stronger relationship.

When this happens, everything else will follow. Your open rates, clicks, and sales will boost up. In fact, personalized emails can deliver up to 6 times higher transactional rates.

Level up your email marketing personalization with these best practices.

1. Understand your Customer Profile

It starts with how well you know your customers. Data helps you personalize your email marketing.

The problem here is that most email marketers stop gathering data after customers submit the sign-up form. If you want to up your personalization game, gather customer data in every chance you have and at every touchpoint.

For instance, you can send a survey email each time a customer purchases a product to know more about their interests and preferences. Purchase history can give you an idea of what product or service to offer them next time. You can also ask them to share their birthday with you so that you could send them gifts on their special day.

Your email marketing automation software can even help you identify which pages customers frequent on your website. This gives you a hint on what they are thinking of buying from you.

2. Use Data Analytics to Power Your Personalization Game

Wise marketers always look at data analytics to improve their email marketing campaigns. From time to time, check the analytics in your email automation software to see what your numbers have to say.

Your data can show you how well your email personalization tactics are performing. You can use it to determine which strategy is working and which is not. Once you see this, you would know which strategy to continue and which to stop.

3. Leverage your Email Marketing Automation Software

It's good to know all the features of your email automation software, so that you can maximize the opportunities from this technology.

Of course, you have your basics such as using the first name in the subject line and content. But since you are automating emails, setting up triggers should be one of the first things you must master.

Simply put, triggers are conditions that start automation when customers meet your pre-determined criteria. This way, you are sure that the emails you send are relevant and personalized as they are based on the actions of customers themselves.

In e-commerce, a trigger that sends an automated email reminder to customers who abandoned their shopping cart is basic. You can also set up a trigger that sends a welcome email to new subscribers or a thank you email each time a customer buys an item to confirm their purchase.

4. Innovate your List Segmentation Process

Personalization begins with proper email list segmentation. Compared to non-segmented campaigns, segmented emails can bring up to 14.32% higher open rate and 100.95% higher click-through rate.

Using your customer data, you can group contacts sharing similar characteristics, so you could send them targeted emails containing offers that appeal to their interests.

For instance, you can segment contacts such as gender and age to make it’s easier for you to send promos based on demographics. Segmenting contacts based on where they are on the buyer journey can help you warm up cold leads and push hot leads to finally make a purchase. Some businesses group their loyal customers in one email list to enable them to strengthen their loyalty program.

Your email list segmentation techniques are limitless. You just have to check your data to know how well you can create effective segmentation.

5. Continuously Test Your Email Campaigns

If you want your email marketing to keep on improving, then you must keep on testing.

To know how which email campaign can yield better open rates, test your email subject line. Test your CTAs for higher click-through rates. You can test almost anything in your email automation software. Just remember, always test with a goal in mind.

Testing can help you determine the personalization tactics that work to your contacts so that you can apply them to other email campaigns.

Email marketing personalization is a basic tactic, but many marketers still fail to do it. Follow these tips to give your email campaigns a personal touch that your customers deserve. But before you do, remember to pick the right email automation software that enables you to personalize your email marketing campaigns in advanced ways.