407

Specialization is Key in B2B

There’s A B2B Marketplace For That (Or There Soon Will Be)

One B2B marketplace trend that is gaining momentum is specialization. Niche players are creating more and better platforms to put buyers and sellers together, and receiving a small piece of each transaction in the process. I recently came across a niche marketplace platform that exemplifies this trend, and provides insights into how entrepreneurs with expertise in a given industry segment can succeed.

In sharp contrast to primarily B2C marketplaces, Thumbtack, TaskRabbit, and HomeAdvisor (all of which give customers access to a wide range of providers who can do just about anything), imagine, as an example, a B2B marketplace designed to connect telecom engineers with businesses needing telecom services. That’s a niche play, and it’s indicative of numerous specialized marketplaces that either exist already, or will be coming soon.

According to Malik Zakaria, Founder and CEO of Field Engineer, “In today’s economy it’s all about providing a scalable workforce.” While Field Engineer is an online marketplace that deals with one narrow segment (telecom engineers on demand), the success factors Zakaria describes could easily apply to any industry. Here are five points he talked about in a recent interview:

1. Minimize labor costs. There isn’t a business owner alive who wouldn’t be interested in the prospect of permanently driving down personnel-related expenditures. But minimizing labor costs often means relying on a skeleton crew, which could push current employees to burnout or make customers wait. And trying to hire the cheapest permanent staff possible can lead to subpar results and costly rework, not to mention severe customer dissatisfaction. Relying on a scalable, flexible workforce of prequalified providers through a marketplace can amount to significant savings for a company and its customers, while keeping quality high.

2. Reduce risk. Although hiring talent on a per-project basis is not new, for many companies, working with an unknown entity is simply not worth the risk. Traditional recruitment agencies can be costly, but they often justify the cost by qualifying and filtering candidates. How can a marketplace serve the same vetting function as a temp agency, while at the same time taking the cost of an intermediary out of the equation? “We knew this was something we had to deal with right upfront,” remembers Zakaria. “So we built into our process background checks, in-depth work history disclosures, and an online rating system. We also verify certifications that technicians claim to have received.”

3. Help customers rapidly scale up (or down). When you have access to prequalified candidates at any location, they can hit the ground running and tackle problems without the need for lengthy training periods. Zakaria explains, “A specialized contractor can help your organization ramp up productivity by bringing with them the necessary skill set for the job. A full-time hire on the other hand, may take longer to become fully productive. And if your workload tapers off, you will avoid the dreadful experience of laying off employees.”

4. Offer the right expertise for each contract. Making use of a scalable workforce allows companies in all industries the luxury of picking and choosing the skill sets they need for any given project. If there isn’t yet a marketplace where you can find the experienced providers you are looking for, there soon will be, given the rate at which new online marketplaces are filling niche needs. If you see the need for such a marketplace, and have the needed expertise to create it, you could be the first mover in your specialty.

5. Do you bring providers onboard before customers, or vice versa? Here is the chicken-and-egg question: Should you get customers onboard to attract providers, or must you have providers before your marketplace can be a viable solution for customers? An excellent article describes how Uber, Airbnb, and Etsy attracted their first 1,000 customers. Field Engineer, now a couple of months into its launch, began by recruiting 1,000 providers, allowing it to transact its first $100,000 in customer contracts.

The marketplace trend of specialization is picking up steam. Entrepreneurs will be both consumers and creators of new niche marketplaces in the B2B space. Which role will you play?

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See original at Forbes by Larry Myler

383

They Believe Content Shared by Someone They Trust

Straightforward and practical B2B + social media article by AJ Agarwal in Forbes:

The Real Truth About B2B Marketing And Social Media

Marketing in B2B requires an understanding of social media. Social media marketing and selling are constants for any business looking to grow themselves further. This is no different in a B2B design. You want to make sure your time is going to be dedicated to the right social network as a B2B. Here are some of the real truths behind which social media accounts you should be maintaining for your marketing strategy.

Facebook Is More Relevant To B2B Marketing Than Most Realize

One of the truths about B2B marketing is that Facebook is a staple no matter what niche you’re in. Much of the content out there will suggest that Twitter and LinkedIn are more relevant, but studies recently done showed otherwise.

The research asked people what channel they would turn to regarding a purchase. 24% of people answered that their decision would be used from looking at Facebook first. That means one in four people sought out Facebook specifically.

Furthermore, studies show that the average decision-maker uses Facebook around 18 days per month versus the 13 days per month using LinkedIn and Twitter. When making any decision, most people are more prone to go to their most-visited channels for the information first before heading elsewhere.

If Content Is Shared By Someone They Trust — They Believe It

Making yourself relevant on social media is imperative for a B2B looking to improve their marketing strategy. If you focus on getting content up on social media websites and can get the connections to help get exposure to that piece, then you will show as a more reputable company.

It’s important for a B2B to get to bloggers on LinkedIn and professionals on Facebook to help with promoting their products and writing quality content on it. A person is more likely to believe that they should select your company over another vendor based on the credibility of the information they find on all social media channels.

Research What Your Competitors Are Doing

It’s important to find the top performing brands in your niche and analyze their methods. See what they are doing to be successful and which platforms they are using to do this.

While Facebook might be the most-used of social media, this doesn’t mean that you won’t have a need to use marketing on other social media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter. Every social media has a different end-game that can help with improving your sales. Learning how they work specifically for your niche and how active those professionals are for your B2B decision will be imperative.

The successful vendors in your niche have already laid out a platform of success. Research it, learn it, and use it to your advantage to succeed. Look at where these vendors are going wrong and find ways to implement slight improvements to make your vendor more qualified and reputable.

Paid Advertisement On Social Media

Social media has also become a huge hit for paid advertisements. This is how many of these social media websites are able to stay running. This is an opportunity for any B2B looking to enhance their marketing strategy.

Knowing your audience is important for paid advertisement because it will maximize your conversions and bring in a better profit margin by lowering costs. You may not find it effective for your B2B marketing strategy to include paid advertisement for every social media connection. You may want to limit it to the one or two most successful for your niche that can really pull in more interest.

Keep Your Social Media Accounts Updated

In B2B marketing, social media has become a crucial part of the success. With the internet being a top source for most professionals to look into vendors, you want your internet presence to grow and flourish. Have some professionals share your work to build credibility for you and to help with gaining relevance to your own content on it.

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see the original article by  AJ Agrawal, Forbes Contributor 10.3.16

 

498

ROI 3800%

Worth the click.

Check out 37 Email Stats to Blow Your Mind, published by Business2Community.

Best:

  1. email is 40% more effective at acquisition than Facebook
  2. ROI 3800%
  3. 78% of Gmail is read on mobile devices
501

Paid Traffic to Paying Traffic

Practical tips by Neil Patel; from headlines to offers, there’s an art to converting traffic.

The Simple 3-Step Process to Converting Paid Traffic Through Email Marketing

Most entrepreneurs who invest in paid traffic make one very critical error: They don’t know how to convert that paid traffic into profit!

If this is you, then pay attention: You cannot expect a positive ROI or a sustainable advertising campaign unless you learn how to master the art of converting paid traffic. While there are dozens of ways to convert paid traffic into profit, I’m going to focus in on just one: email autoresponders, meaning a computer program that immediately provides information to prospective customers, then follows up with them at preset time intervals.

If you put in the work on the front end and create a high-quality email autoresponder sequence, you will be able to convert paid traffic with almost no effort at all. While this may sound like an impossible task (if you have never created an autoresponder sequence before), it is actually a lot easier than you think.

So, here are three simple steps to creating an epic autoresponder series that will allow you to generate massive amounts of income . . . while you sleep. Sound like something you are interested in? Here are the steps.

  1. Make customers an offer they can’t refuse.

The first step to converting paid traffic through your email autoresponder sequence is to make your audience members an offer they cannot refuse. Specifically, offer a high-quality, free giveaway. You want the giveaway to be a no-brainer. You want it to be irresistible.

Creating a giveaway like this is actually much simpler than you think.

The key is, first, to know your market, figure out what one problem they want solved more than anything else, then create a giveaway that solves that problem. There are dozens of places where you can find the information you need to create your offer. Browse through books in the Kindle store related to your niche. Check out Reddit or Quora to see what questions people in your target market are asking.

For example, if you are in the health and fitness industry for men, you may find some of the biggest problems your market is asking to be:

  • How do I lose weight without losing muscle?
  • How can I gain muscle without spending thousands on a crazy diet?
  • I don’t have time for the gym; how can I stay healthy?

The list goes on and on. Based off these problems, you could create any one of the following giveaways.

  • A free video series titled How to Shred Belly Fat without Losing Muscle
  • An ebook titled Bodybuilding on a Budget: How to Gain Muscle, Get Huge and Turn Heads without Expensive Diets
  • A pre-recorded webinar titled Shredded in No Time: How to Get and Stay Lean for the Man on the Go

Pretty simple, right? Like anything in business, creating your irresistible offer is about identifying a problem and providing an effective solution.

  1. Craft compelling headlines.

Once you have successfully created a giveaway that people want and need, the next step is to create compelling headlines that actually generate a high open rate.

It doesn’t matter how good your giveaway is. If people sign up for your autoresponder series and then receive emails with poorly crafted headlines, they will take their free resource and promptly run for the hills.

While writing amazing headlines is a skill that can take years to master, you can get started today by keeping a few things in mind. First, you want to make sure that your headline is neither too long nor too short. Six to ten words seems to perform best.

It is important to realize that you only have a few words to pique your reader’s attention, get your message across and earn the open. Make sure that you utilize one or all of these six tips (in no particular order) to maximize open rates.

  1. Your headlines are specific and useful: People know what the email is about and what to expect.
  2. You clearly identify yourself: Make sure that in the first couple of emails the audience is very clear who is emailing them.
  3. Your headlines stand out: Use numbers, symbols and capitalization to grab the reader’s attention.
  4. Your headline is timely: Relate your headline to a recent event or issue pressing on your audience members’ minds.
  5. Your headline has a call to action: For some reason, people respond well when they’re told to do something. Use your next headline to bark out orders.
  6. Your headline is tested: Always split-test headlines to see what clicks (no pun intended) with your audience.

 

     3. Ask for the sale.

The final piece to the puzzle is to master the art of offering value and know when to ask for the sale. You want to make sure that (at least) the first week or so of your email series is dedicated 100 percent to giving value without asking for anything in return.

This will build trust with your audience members, increase the open rate on future emails and make them more likely to purchase from you whenever you actually do ask for the sale.

Providing value in your emails is pretty simple. Just continue to help your audience solve problems related to the problem that you solved in the giveaway. I recommend that you send at least four emails that are 100 percent value-based before you ask for the sale.

And when you do ask for the sale, it is important that the product you offer solve a problem similar to those you have been solving in the email series. If your series is all about how your audience members can grow their business through content marketing, but you then offer an online course devoted 100 percent to Facebook Advertising, you are going to lose sales.

Keep your emails congruent, and offer as much value as possible.

Conclusion

Converting paid traffic through an email autoresponder sequence is not easy. But it is one of the best ways to start generating passive/residual income while building your brand and creating customer loyalty. If you can master these three steps, your business, and your marketing will never be the same.

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See the original article at Entrepreneur.com

793

Title Case & Hard Numbers

Two particularly usesful tips from FastCo.

4 Data-Backed Strategies For Writing Email Subject Lines That Get Opened

Required reading for anyone who writes email and wants to up their subject-line game to make sure the recipient reads it.

Even though many of us complain that our inboxes are too full, email is still one of the most popular ways to communicate. The average person sends and receives 123 emails each day, and that number is expected to grow over the next three years, according to the technology market-research firm Radicati.

With all of that volume, your best chance of being read rests in your subject line, says Anna Holschuh, a data engineer at the email platform provider Yesware. “We often make split-second decisions about dealing with email, and it’s easy to disregard a message based on a subject line,” she says.

Yesware’s data scientists analyzed 115 million emails for a full year to identify email subject-line strategies that work and those that don’t. “We looked specifically at most and least used words and formats in comparison to most and least effective,” says Holschuh.

“Quick question” is a highly used but poorly performing subject line.

With an average open rate of 51.9% and an average reply rate of 29.8%, Holschuh and her colleagues identified some important trends:

Avoid Questions

Got a quick question? Think twice before shooting off an email because it could reduce your chances of getting a reply. “Quick question” is a frequently used but poorly performing subject line, says Holschuh. When a question or question mark was used in the subject line, the open rate dropped from 51.9% to 41.6%. In addition, the reply rate dropped from 29.8% to 18.4%.

“Questions put people on the spot, and you’re asking a lot of an already busy, stressed-out professional,” says Holschuh. “You’re asking them to do work without providing value up front.”

“If the recipient is familiar with you or if you add context to your request on why it benefits the other person, it could be a different story,” she says. “But cold emails that put people on the spot don’t do well.” Instead of asking, “Are you the appropriate person?” for example, do your research up front and save the person’s time, says Holschuh.

When a greeting was used in the subject line, reply rate dropped down to 48.1%.

Skip The Personal Greetings

Greetings in subject lines, such as “hi,” “hello,” and “howdy” seem conversational and familiar, but they tend to reduce the open rate, especially when you don’t know the sender, says Holschuh. When a greeting was used in the subject line, it dropped down to 48.1%. In addition, the reply rate dropped to 21.2%.

“The technique was used to dupe people into thinking that the sender was an old friend, and it was overused,” says Holschuh. “It could be that our brain now recognizes these subject lines as an early warning sign of a sales email, and we delete the emails to avoid that first time we expected a personal email and were wrong.”

Save personal content for the body of the email instead of putting it in the subject line, Holschuh advises.

Use Numbers

Questions and greetings don’t do well, but there are other things you can do to catch the recipient’s attention. Subject lines with hard numbers have a higher open and reply rate, according to Yesware. The open rate increased to 53.2% and the reply rate went to 32%.

“We believe it’s the case because in this age of data, people like numbers and hard facts,” says Holschuh. “Metrics also offer credibility, and we saw that including numbers boosts open and reply rates.”

And Use Title Case

An unexpected finding was the use of capitalization. When senders use title case—for example: Subject-Line Story versus subject-line story—emails had a higher open and reply rate. Title case had an open rate of 54.3%, while lower-case subject lines dropped to 47.6%. The reply rate with title case bumped up to 32.3%, while lower case fell to 25.7%.

“It provides a sense of authority of what you’re talking about versus an informal tone that’s implied with all lower-case letters,” says Holschuh.

 

Stephanie Vozza

http://www.fastcompany.com/3062538/data-backed-strategies-for-writing-subject-lines-that-get-your-email-read

417

From a Person & A/B Test Frequency

Q&A: The Big Email Marketing Questions Answered

I recently participated in a Marketo webinar on Key Email Trends European Marketers Need to Know (that really all marketers need to know). We left some time for questions, and we received plenty of interesting questions on email marketing—from basic to advanced. It was interesting to see how similar these questions were and the common themes that arose, despite the different topics we covered.

Because we couldn’t address all the questions in the session, I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions in this blog. I’ve grouped them into the categories of evaluation, growing and profiling your list, segmentation and targeting, and email frequency:

Email Marketing Evaluation

Q: What responses should I be receiving for my emails?

A: Although most marketers measure their email success with open and click-through rates, a practical tip is to combine these measures to look at the click-to-open rate (CTOR%). This shows you how effective your creatives and offers are for different types of campaigns.

To evaluate your email marketing campaigns in a more realistic way and identify ways to improve them, I recommend breaking out your overall responses by:

  • Type of email: Categorize your responses by the types of emails you send. For example, personalized, event triggered emails tend to perform better than untargeted newsletters or 3rd party email advertising (sometimes known as a solus emails), which can make the average meaningless if you group them together.
  • Lifecycle stage: Emails sent to recipients who are in an earlier stage of the customer lifecycle, like welcome emails, usually work better than emails to long-term subscribers, so you need to break these out accordingly.
  • Segment: Your response will naturally vary by how it resonates with different audiences, so break out your response by the different audience types.
  • Subscriber type: Determine how your responses vary by the subscriber type, such as between Gmail, Live Mail, and iCloud addresses and company addresses. This can help you identify delivery or rendering issues between each type.

Evaluating your emails with these factors in mind will give you a much better idea of the engagement your email campaigns are getting and how you can optimize them (if your email provider supports it).

Q: Given the increasing number of email clients that download images automatically, how important are open rates as a metric now?

A: Email open rates have always been potentially misleading since some email clients may block or download images by default or some users will change their preferences to automatically download them. Today, Gmail and Apple Mail on iOS tend to download images by default, so this doesn’t necessarily suggest interest in your emails, but more so that a reader has clicked on the subject line.

However, I believe that open rates are still relevant for comparing email effectiveness between recent email sends. Comparing open and click rates helps you measure the different types of email sends (outlined in the previous answer) to reveal which perform the best. Ultimately, what really matters is whether the emails you send are helping you reach your goals. For some marketers, one of the best measures of effectiveness is sales value generated per 1000 emails sent.

How to Grow and Profile Your List

Q: What are the best ways to encourage opt-in?

A: I recommend brainstorming alternative techniques for capturing e-mail addresses. Map out all the opportunities available for capturing a buyer’s information between your different channels and audience segments (shown in the matrix below) and use this to generate new ideas. Take a look at what you and competitors are currently doing and then do a ‘gap analysis’ to select options you aren’t currently using.

Q: Should I be using pop-ups?

A: Pop-ups are increasingly being used in many industry sectors, particularly retail, publishing, and travel. This is because, when well-defined and tested, they will almost always give you significantly more new contacts in your database. We discussed this in depth in the webinar, when I described how well they have worked for Smart Insights, increasing the conversion of visitors to leads by 35% on a site where we already use a range of prompts to encourage subscription.

Q: What about the quality of the people from pop-ups?

A: If you use pop-ups to boost your subscriber numbers, it’s inevitable that there may be some decline in quality—but from my experience, they are still very worthwhile. To maintain the quality, it’s important to be able to profile visitors efficiently. Also, follow best practices to be sensitive to the user experience and don’t display a pop-up too quickly. You can address this by adding a time delay or detecting exit intent (e.g. when movement of the mouse to the navigation bar suggests users are about to leave the page).

Q: How much do I need to profile subscribers?

A: There’s a balance between asking for too much profile information and thus reducing the number of new contacts added to your database and not asking for enough. Identify two or three ‘killer question’ profile fields to ask subscribers that are most important for enabling your business to send more relevant emails. For example, at Smart Insights, we ask about the subscriber’s role, sector, and the number of people in the marketing team and then tailor our welcome emails based on the responses.

Q: How can I target better without asking too many questions?

A: A good rule of thumb for this is to ‘watch, don’t ask’ or ‘sense and respond.’ Instead of asking interruptive questions, monitor your recipients’ clicks to better profile them and understand their needs. Then, trigger follow-up communications accordingly. Some examples include:

  • Monitoring click-throughs to different types of content or offers within your emails.
  • Recording which content or offers are browsed on your website and then adding them to the individual’s profile.
  • Recording products or categories searched for and then following up with relevant information.

Over time, you should continue to add details about your buyers to gain a better picture of them by asking additional questions or tracking their behavior. For a B2B organization, I recommend defining a common customer profile (CCP), which includes all the data you could potentially collect in addition to the data you already have on a subscriber. I worked with one B2B organization that had three levels of profile and separate goals for each: level 1–basic contact information, level 2–position, market sector, and application and level 3–detailed information about standards and preferences.

Segmentation and Targeting

In the webinar, we looked at results from different research studies which revealed that detailed segmentation and targeting for email is still surprisingly rare. We also did a poll which showed that around 40% of the hundreds of marketers that attended the webinar didn’t target their audience. So, we received some interesting questions about how to get started.

Q: Where can I begin to improve email targeting?

A: Ideally, you want to start your targeting with a quick-win technique that is simple, but achieves the best results. Some options you could consider include:

  • Creating two (or more) alternative versions of your standard newsletter. For example, you could create different versions for larger or smaller businesses, staff in different sectors, or male or female subscribers.
  • Changing your welcome email content to be relevant for different audience segments.
  • Sending post-purchase emails to promote similar products or related products in different categories (cross-sell and upsell).

You can send these variations by creating distinct rules in your marketing automation or email system. This is a relatively quick win, and while it is efficient, it may not scale to multiple content types. This is where I recommend ‘dynamic content’ insertion (which I’ll cover next).

Q: How can I get started with dynamic content insertion?

A: With dynamic content insertion, you can add different content to a single section or block within your emails. For example, many emails have a ‘hero’ section at the top email, which often have the biggest impact because they are seen first. Dynamic content insertion will enable you to tailor images and text in this block to appeal to different audiences.

Once you roll this out, you can develop a dynamic content marketing model that gives better results. In the webinar, we looked at this personalized B2B email example in which a series of dynamic content blocks were displayed:

  • Hero block content varied based on lifecycle stage (new subscriber vs. engaged subscriber vs. lapsed subscriber)
  • Secondary block content tailored by product category interest
  • Tertiary block content varied by discounts and offers relevant for the audience

Frequency for Email Marketing

Take a look at this data gathered from UK email marketers that shows a huge variation in the number of emails they send every month.

image: http://cdn2.business2community.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/UK-Marketers-Email-Frequency-.png.png

Accordingly, if you send just one email a month to your subscribers, you might be under-mailing and missing out on opportunities. But, if you’re emailing your subscribers more than eight times a month, you’re probably sending too many emails and are in danger of being seen as a spammer. The next question will explore how to get the balance right.

Q: What is the best frequency to send emails?

A: This is one of those ‘it depends’ questions since email frequency depends on the industry, audience, and what you’re looking to achieve. In retail, it’s common to email more frequently to prompt sales—at least weekly; whereas, in many business sectors, this may be considered too much.

Here are three techniques you can use to determine the ideal frequency for your business:

  • Test varying frequencies for different groups. This method will only be practical for larger businesses since it’s far more involved than A/B testing a subject line. You can classify a control or ‘hold-out’ group which has the original frequency and then create different segments for varying frequencies. For one financial services company we worked with, we originally set the frequency to be monthly and then increased it to weekly and fortnightly. In this case, we found that the increased frequency resulted in more product sales without causing a big issue with engagement or unsubscribes.
  • Vary frequency by individuals depending on activity. One of the biggest challenges of email marketing is inactive subscribers. For many businesses, a large proportion of their subscribers haven’t engaged with their emails in the last six months or even a year. While some would argue that you should still regularly email these subscribers to stay top-of-mind and increase the potential of sale, I would argue against this since you could be identified as a spammer, negatively impacting your email deliverability. Instead, if an email subscriber becomes inactive, you can try to win them back to start regularly engaging with you again, and then add them to a different email group that you mail less frequently, but hopefully, with more impact!
  • Vary frequencies throughout time using automation. This is a more sophisticated approach where individual frequency is controlled by the rules in your prospect or nurturing campaign. The emails you send to your subscribers depends on where they are in the lifecycle (new or older subscriber) and their behavior as they interact with different products and offers across your channels. Using this approach, you can increase email frequency (and offer a personalized message) when a subscriber shows more intent or engagement with your product.

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See original article by Dave Chaffey July 7, 2016

321

Personalization & Image

Good article re: email marketing basics in Marketing Bootcamp

Email Marketing: There’s a Good Chance You’re Doing It Wrong

Email marketing strategies aren’t always all they’re cracked up to be, and getting them right is more important than you might realize. Digital marketing trends come and go, but email continues to prove its staying power.

Related: Email Remains the Heart of Cross-Channel Marketing

Having a website, in fact, might be the only aspect of marketing more critical than email, but email’s high returns (about $44 for each dollar put toward email marketing) keep marketers increasing their budgets for campaigns.

The key is learning how to effectively integrate it with other marketing tactics.

The companies we work with that set up email marketing early often see better-than-average ecommerce conversion rates. The right strategies generate more revenue on a per-visit basis than those that don’t incorporate email ever will.

Employing reliable tactics helps avoid the kinds of blunders that the startup Honestbee saw during its recent campaign when it pretended to partner with an exotic merchant offering whale, panda and koala meat in order to raise animal rights awareness.

Readers weren’t impressed, and Honestbee faced a public outcry against the campaign even after revealing it to be fake.
Misguided tactics to avoid

Having a good idea of how your readers will respond to your messaging before you start planning an email campaign will help ensure it doesn’t meet a fate similar to Honestbee’s.

Here are a few email don’ts that will help you avoid alienating or annoying your subscribers:

1. Don’t send emails ‘just because.’ Many consumers believe that marketers overestimate how often people want to hear from them. Emails that lack practical, useful information come across as boring and spammy and lead people to unsubscribe.

Every message should grab attention and call readers to action. Customers appreciate it when every piece of your campaign is meaningful, and they’ll show their gratitude by purchasing.

This free template from HubSpot helps organize and optimize campaigns for maximum impact.

2. Don’t use sales-bait language. Emails with all-cap subject lines and blatantly pushy sales language (e.g., “20 PERCENT OFF TODAY ONLY!”) have worn out their welcome. People have gotten wise to email marketing gimmicks, and they know click bait when they see it.

Think like a customer. How would you feel if you received the email you just sent out? If your own subject line makes you think, “Someone just wants my money,” it’s time to get more creative.

Instead, a personalized headline (e.g., “Happy Birthday, Nathan — Surprise Inside!”) connects with the recipient and stimulates curiosity.

3. Don’t say too much. Too much information kills conversions. If emails aren’t easy to understand and short enough to hold attention, overwhelmed readers won’t sift through them — and your call to action could get lost in the copy.

If you have a lot of information to send out, break it down into component parts to send individually in a “drip campaign.” If that’s not possible, embed links to allow readers to click-through to the information at their own pace.

For example, we used a customized drip campaign to increase KO Production’s subscriber base by 16,000 while also increasing site engagement.

4. Don’t trust just any old image to help your campaign. Images must complement your copy to avoid sending mixed messages. Too many or too few also hurt: Imbalanced ratios of images-to-text make your emails seem noisy. Worse, images that don’t load smoothly make your company look amateurish and unprepared to do business.

Because a one-second delay can reduce conversions by 7 percent, testing is a crucial step to take before sending out any piece of email marketing. Tools such as Litmus make it easy to preview your email across different platforms and formats, to see what needs improvement.

Chubbies really knows how to use images; its copy promotes the shorts its sells, but the images the brand includes also promote the kind of lifestyle its subscribers respond to best. Of course, the brand also makes sure its content displays consistently on every medium.

Email is going to remain a mainstay of any business that relies on digital marketing, and the revenue it generates can be well worth the effort.

If you tailor messages to your audience and choose your language carefully to ensure outgoing emails are intriguing, readable and full of valuable information, you can maximize revenue each time you hit “Send.”

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From Entrepreneur.com originally posted 6/1/16

327

Complex Emotions & Polarizing Characters

Netflix Knows Which Pictures You’ll Click On—And Why

The service’s recent experiments with images reveal some surprising (and useful) takeaways about why people click what they do.

It’s still one of the great mysteries of the Internet: with the millions of images that bombard us on the web every day, what makes us click on one instead of another? Are some pictures universally appealing, or is art always a matter of personal opinion?

Netflix has been pondering these profound questions for years. After all, images are critical to getting you to binge: A small, compelling thumbnail could mean the difference between getting you to spend the entire weekend watching House of Cards or losing interest and bouncing over to Hulu.

A powerful picture is an incredibly efficient tool: The human brain can process an image in just a few milliseconds, so the right picture can spark someone’s interest and convince a viewer it’s worth exploring a new show in a single glance. Which is why, in 2014, Netflix began gathering consumer research specifically about the images on its service.

The research indicated that looking at images not only prompted users to watch content, but accounted for a whopping 82% of their time spent browsing (as opposed to, say, reading movie titles or descriptions). In other words, the images mattered almost four times more than the text describing the storyline. Members also spent only 1.8 seconds considering each title. “We know that if you don’t capture a member’s attention within 90 seconds, he or she will likely lose interest and move on to another activity,” says Nick Nelson, Netflix’s global manager for creative services. “Images become the most efficient and compelling way to help them discover the perfect title as quickly as possible.”

Recently, Netflix—which is famously tight-lipped about its own data—has been doing experiments to better understand which images capture our attention and why, and shared some of its findings with Fast Company as well as in a post on its blog. The effort was both science and art: Data scientists analyzed user statistics, while creative teams considered the colors, emotions, and words that appear on pictures. The company tests several images for a single show or movie to try to discover what makes members click. Its first lesson was that images had to be high quality in order to draw viewers in. “We saw one clear thing,” Nelson says. “Using better images to represent content significantly increased overall streaming hours and engagement.”

Netflix’s data reveals some interesting takeaways about why people watch one thing over another, but more broadly, may be applicable to anyone looking to hook readers, viewers, or buyers with compelling imagery.

Three People Or Fewer, Please

One of Netflix’s earliest findings was that interest tended to drop off when an image touting a show or movie contained more than three people. It seems that users find it hard to focus when there are too many people, and may not be able to absorb cues about the storyline. This was a surprising insight for Netflix, given that some shows are popular precisely because they have large casts. Orange Is the New Black is a good example of this. “While ensemble casts are fantastic for a huge billboard on the side of a highway, they are too complex at small sizes,” Nelson says. “They are ultimately not as effective at helping our members decide if the title is right for them on smaller screens.”

Complex Emotions Make Us Pause

Scientists have known for a long time that humans are hardwired to respond to faces: Studies have found that infants process faces long before they are able to recognize other objects. However, one interesting thing that Netflix discovered is that people tend to focus more on images of people displaying complicated expressions over stoic or benign ones. These highly emotive images are able to quickly and effectively convey subtle details about the show or movie, drawing users into the storyline and prompting them to watch it. Take, for instance, the image for the second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which drove a lot of engagement; its thumbnail ad features Ellie Kemper’s face looking over at Tituss Burgess with an expression of surprise and possibly disbelief.

A Focus On Polarizing Characters

Just like complex emotions are more likely to capture our attention, images of polarizing characters also tend to grab our attention. Netflix found that members responded better to recognizable villainous characters over pictures of the hero. They found this to be true in the kids’ genre, as well as for action shows and movies.

Different Countries, Different Tastes

By testing across geographies, Netflix found that there are regional preferences when it comes to imagery. For instance, Sense8, a show with a diverse, international cast, has a wide audience across countries, but Netflix discovered that different images worked better in different places. While the company didn’t offer us a clear rubric about what kind of images work best in each country, from the images they showed us, it seemed that more artistic images worked better in Germany, while American audiences were more compelled by images that revealed the storyline clearly. The point is that in order to sell the same content or product across different countries, it is worth testing several images.

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See original including graphics at Fast Company.  By Elizabeth Segran 05.03.16

 

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Pinning 101

Helpful blog post by Adrienne Erin re: how to get started on Pinterest marketing.

Pinterest Marketing In 10 Minutes A Day

Pinterest is, even now, a fairly well-kept secret in the marketing world. That means the people who use it well are even more likely to stand out from the competition.

You might be worried that getting started with Pinterest is a huge time commitment, but that’s really not the case. You can get a world-class Pinterest campaign off the ground in just 10 minutes a day, five days a week. That’s under an hour a week! Here’s how to do it.

Repin Existing Content On Pinterest

To start with, remember that there’s no shame in recycling! Spend a couple minutes each day running keyword searches for your industry or your niche. You’re going to turn up a treasure trove of cool stuff that will fit right in with your brands identity.

The point in doing this is threefold. First, the most successful Pinners are prolific. They’re always looking for cool stuff to share, and doing so makes their page feel fresh, active and relevant. Second, it demonstrates you’re a thought leader in your industry since you’re taking a regular look at everything else that’s out there.

Finally, you’re going to be exposing yourself to a whole bunch of inspiration. Who knows how this will positively impact your company or your products!

Pin Content From Your Own Website

If artful re-appropriation is one of the keys to Pinterest greatness, then make sure you’re borrowing from the best yourself!

Don’t be afraid to pin your own products, but make sure you’re not overdoing it. A healthy ratio for this is 1:4. A bigger ratio will make you look overly self-promotional, while a smaller ratio will under-represent your own brand.

One thing to note. Your repurposed content will be even more effective on Pinterest if you take the time to create taller versions of your featured images. Firing up Photoshop or Pixlr might take a little bit of time, though, so budget this task beyond the 10 minutes you’ve set aside for actual pinning.

Schedule Pins

No matter how well you budget your pinning time throughout the week, there’s always that pesky weekend to take into account. The Internet doesn’t shut down on Saturday and Sunday, after all, so you want to make sure your feed doesn’t go silent while the rest of the world has their heads buried in their smartphones and tablets.

That’s where scheduled pins come in handy. Check out services like Buffer, Tailwind and Viralwoot to get started automating your weekend pinning. In fact, you can automate many of your social media accounts this way. Try preparing batches of pins, tweets and statuses throughout the week so they’re ready to go live over the weekend. You can also schedule them for times during the week when you wont be around to pin.

Speaking of which, if you have a smartphone, you can install the Pinterest app and easily spend a few minutes pinning whenever you have downtime. Sure, it is technically outside of your ten minutes a day, but who doesn’t have a little downtime in their day? It’s sure more productive than getting a few rounds of Angry Birds in. That’s part of how I grew my own audience of several thousand followers on Pinterest!

Interact with Group Boards

One of the very best things about Pinterest is its emphasis on collaboration. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest encourages groups of people with like minds to get together and work as one on a shared stream. Some of these groups have thousands of followers, while others have just a small handful. Take a look around on your own or make use of dedicated tools like PinGroupie to find boards that you could contribute something to.

There are a number of benefits to embracing Pinterest’s social tendencies. The first is to drive more organic traffic to your site. Taking part in group boards naturally exposes your work to a larger and more relevant audience.

The second benefit is that you’ll gain followers much more quickly than you could on your own. Anyone who follows the group board will see your stuff and, if you’ve piqued their curiosity, may start following you. To get the most out of these benefits, though, the usual advice applies: Pin early; pin often, and pin well.

Analyze Your Analytics

Finally, it pays to remember that all of this is for naught if you’re not following-up with the nitty-gritty of analytics. How is your content performing? What’s working, and what isn’t?

Thankfully, Pinterest makes this wonderfully easy with Pinterest Analytics. Naturally, there are also a bunch of quality third-party services if you want to get even more bang for your buck. The point is, turning your Pinterest activities into repeatable and scalable habits is only half the battle.

Commit a few minutes out of your budgeted 10 to study your analytics dashboard from the previous day. Make note of your top performers along with the pins that fell a bit flat. there’s a wealth of knowledge Here’s at your fingertips, including individual pin performance, repins and impressions. The best part is you don’t have to spend a bunch of time on this. Over time, you’ll get better and better at spotting trends and learning which approaches work the best.

By finding out what your followers like and what they don’t, taking part in group boards, tailoring your approach to your followers particular interests and demonstrating your brand is social by nature, you’ll find your voice as a marketer and as a pinner. that’s probably worth a few minutes out of your daily routine.

check out the original blog post here

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ROI 4300%

Email WINS

Just in case you need more convincing, Business.com compiled some great email stats for us:

  • 91 percent of consumers check their email at least one time per day (Quick Sprout)
  • 66 percent of online consumers in the United States, age 15 or older, have made a purchase resulting from a marketing email (Quick Sprout)
  • 74 percent of marketers believe email will produce return on investment or has already done so (Pardot)
  • Email marketing yields a return on investment of approximately 4,300 percent (Direct Marketing Association)
  • For every dollar spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is more than $44 (ExactTarget)
  • Email conversion rates are approximately three times higher than social media (McKinsey & Company)
  • 95 percent of people who opt into email messages from their favorite brands from them useful (Salesforce)

See the original article from 2/2016