How to write effective marketing emails

For any email to be effective, it must have a specific goal and capitalize on establishing trust with your audience.

Design and Decisions Dictate Success

Before we look at how to write effective emails, let’s start with a few quick points.

As human beings, we crave interaction. Emails are an opportunity to interact with your audience on a one-to-one basis. As I have mentioned before it is the only communication medium that remains private. If your emails are useful and engaging, they can be incredibly effective.

But, they have to overcome the information overload we are all exposed to every day. This is especially true of marketing messages as we have become experts at ignoring these.

Long-term success with email depends on if the recipients trust you. The content of your emails must give them a reason to do that. It must have the same tone of voice and personality you use in your other content marketing. Remember that you are a real person having a conversation with another person.

For any email to be effective, it must have a specific goal. Every decision taken about the email’s design and content must address that goal.

You must design your emails for mobile devices first. It is best to use a single column design and keep it under 600 pixels in width. Your font size should be 14 pixels high at a minimum. They should be standard web-safe fonts like Arial, Tahoma, Verdana, etc.. 22 pixels is a good minimum for your titles.

So, what should you put in your emails? The essential elements of a successful email are similar to what should go into a successful blog post. If you read my earlier post, How to make sure your blog posts are the most, some of this will sound familiar.

What to put in your emails

Your emails will, usually, consist of these elements:

  • The Subject Line
  • A Captivating Visual
  • Headline
  • Subheadings
  • Body Copy
  • Additional Visuals
  • A Call to Action
  • Sharing Options
  • Legal Requirements

The Subject Line

The subject line is the most important part of your email. It will determine if it will be seen, opened and read. Your subject line will hook the reader or be ignored. You should spend more time on it than the rest of the post combined. As with any content marketing, you must know your audience and what will appeal to them.

Even if your email list is an opt-in one, where people have subscribed to it themselves, only 20% of subscribers will open your emails on average. If you have bought or imported your list, the percentage will be even lower.

A great subject line can increase that 20%. It tells the viewer why they should open and read your email. It makes a unique promise to the reader. In general, it must offer usefulness or spark curiosity. If it is superb, it might do both. What can you do to hook your potential reader?

There are many techniques for writing effective subject lines. A good place to start is with what Copyblogger has noted as the Four “U” approach:

  • Useful: Is the promised message valuable to the reader?
  • Ultra-specific: Does the reader know what’s being promised?
  • Unique: Is the promised message compelling and remarkable?
  • Urgent: Does the reader feel the need to read now?

Other subject line techniques are positive and include:

  • targeting your readers as individuals (personalization) or very specific groups (the more you segment your list the more effective your emails will be).
  • asking a question. The frequently asked questions people ask you every day are perfect for this.
  • letting your readers see that you understand them and are on their side.
  • making a promise that you fulfill in the body of the email.
  • positioning your company against your competition.
  • being short and specific.

Or the techniques could be negative:

  • taking a pain point and twisting the knife in it.
  • playing on your audience’s fear of missing out.

A Captivating Visual

Continue reading “How to write effective marketing emails”

Battle of the WordPress Platforms. WordPress.com vs WordPress.org vs Rainmaker

Hakkeyoi (はっけよい)!

Let the CMS Battle Royale begin

Do you ever feel like being in business is a fight for your life? We both know the marketplace is an arena for competition. And to win this battle you need to be at the top of your game. Having better marketing than your opponents is essential to success.

A well thought out, and strategic marketing plan gives you an advantage and makes you the favorite to win. This content strategy is the game plan you need to stick to to bring home the prize.

Your website and blog are two of your most precious business assets. In fact, with a well-designed integration, they are the most valuable marketing asset you own.  And they should be the home and heart of your content marketing efforts. They are where you execute most of your content marketing strategy.

In my opinion, you should only trust them with WordPress.

This substantial post (2500 words) will compare the WordPress.com, WordPress.org and Rainmaker WordPress platforms. Read on to see which is just right for your business or personal blog. If you don’t have time now, bookmark it and read it later. And I would recommend doing so on your desktop, laptop or tablet. This decision is crucial for your business.

Let’s start with a quick point about WordPress as a site and blogging platform.

As I said in a previous post about WordPress:

It is the best CMS (Content Management System) for small business.

More than 25 percent of the world’s websites are built and run on WordPress. And that percentage is increasing every day. WordPress itself says, “over 409 million people view more than 15.8 billion pages each month” on the platform. Matt Mullenweg started it in 2003.

It is open-source software. That means the software is free, and it is a database driven platform. A worldwide network of developers, designers, and companies like Mobile Atom Media support WordPress. Many of these dedicated souls are continually building website themes for WordPress. And even more developers build “plugins” to add functionality to it.

WordCamps occur yearly in cities across the globe. They are where bloggers, developers, and designers can learn even more about it. WordPress.tv has hundreds of videos covering almost every aspect of it. The site, codex.wordpress.org, has everything there is possible to know about it.

There are several versions of a WordPress website or blog. They include WordPress.org sites, WordPress.com sites, and customized versions of WordPress. The Rainmaker platform is one of the later.

I have clients on all three platforms and which one is best for you will depend on your unique business needs. This post aims to help you make that decision.

No matter which platform you use, it is best to have a professional assist you with setting it up. Theme selection, plugin selection, widget choice and placement, typography, search optimization, hosting, speed, security and your site’s aesthetics are all things that can benefit from the attention of a pro. Hint, this is what we do at Mobile Atom Media. 😉

So what are the differences in the three platforms?

WordPress.com – the Makushita (幕下) division of WordPress CMSs

To paraphrase from my previous post:

Matt Mullenweg’s company, Automattic, hosts WordPress.com sites. The hosting is free. … Your web address (also known as your URL) would be your website domain.wordpress.com. There are around two hundred themes to choose from, but you can’t customize them for free.

You will only have the functionality Automattic provides. And you cannot add any plugins developed by third-party developers. It also has a limited amount of storage capacity for your content. And if Automattic wants to, they can run ads of their choosing on your site.

You can pay Automattic for extra functionality. Showing your website domain.com rather than your website domain.wordpress.com is an example. You can pay to have a customizable theme, extra storage space, email support, and as of August 2017 third-party plugins and themes.

At this point, it is going to cost you what a basic WordPress.org site would. But, you will not have the complete control of a WordPress.org self-hosted site.

The advantage is that you do not have to maintain the site by updating the operating software and themes. If you are a small service-oriented business, a WordPress.com site can work well for you.

If you only want a personal blog, it is perfect for you. It can also work well for small service oriented businesses.

WordPress.org – the Jūryō (十両) division of WordPress CMSs

Again, to paraphrase my previous post:

A WordPress.org site uses the free WordPress software that the site owner downloads, sets up and pays a service to host. You have complete control over it. Choose from thousands of customizable themes and plugins to get the exact look and functionality you want.

You select your hosting service and can integrate it with your email provider. You will have to maintain the site by updating the operating software, theme, and plugins. It is the content marketing home you own. It is your house and can be as big as you want it to be.

WordPress.org is what most businesses use, including ones in the Fortune 100.

Rainmaker – the Makuuchi (幕内) division of WordPress CMSs

Rainmaker is a WordPress platform that lets you:

get more power from WordPress with less hassle. Build powerful content-driven websites, start a sophisticated membership program, sell digital goods the smarter way, and much more. Even better, never waste valuable time with plugins, complicated code, hosting, maintenance, or upgrades.

With these descriptions in mind, let’s jump into the details and differences. If you need to, select the screenshots to see a larger version in a new browser tab. We will be looking at WordPress dashboards as well as page and post editors.

Continue reading “Battle of the WordPress Platforms. WordPress.com vs WordPress.org vs Rainmaker”

Marketing Essentials for a Successful Social Media Strategy

Social media platforms help you understand your prospects and convert them into loyal customers.

Get social to be successful

Social media are one of the three pillars of content marketing and using some form of them is essential to your business and its success. They let you:

  • listen to your customers and develop better products for them. These products will also be more profitable for you.
  • assist your clients with outstanding customer service. Or just to converse with them.
  • drive traffic to your website so you can convert visitors into customers.
  • demonstrate your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness.
  • help make the world and the lives of your clients better.
  • develop relationships and deepen customer loyalty.
  • increase awareness of your brand.
  • and so much more

This post provides you with the resources for developing a successful social media strategy. Read it now and bookmark it so you can reference it anytime your business needs some social media success.

You should determine which social media platforms are most appropriate for your company as part of an overall content marketing strategy. The posts linked to here can help you make those determinations. They contain detailed resources for learning about the myriad of social media platforms and what each one can do for your marketing efforts.

Social media marketing is a field that changes daily if not hourly. Consequently, I’ve updated my older posts on the social media platforms that are most useful for small business.

Social Selling

One of the most significant benefits of using social media is increasing the effectiveness of your sales process. It is a very efficient method to research prospects, connect with them, and then demonstrate your authority, expertise, and trustworthiness. Buffer has an informative post with detailed demographics for the various social media platforms.

See my post: Can social selling turn you into a rainmaker?

Pinterest

Pinterest is the fastest growing social media platform with some incredible upside for driving increases in your revenue. It is one of the first visually oriented social mediums, and that is why it is so strong. It primarily appeals to women, but males’ use of Pinterest is on the upswing.

See my updated post: What your business can get from Pinterest.

Continue reading “Marketing Essentials for a Successful Social Media Strategy”

Web analytics drive decisions that lead to conversion

If you don’t measure it, it doesn’t exist

Let’s start learning how to use analytics to make decisions that lead to conversions.

If you have read my earlier posts, you have now learned how to use copywriting on your landing pages and posts in order to drive the actions you want visitors to take on your WordPress site and blog. You have also learned how to drive traffic to your site with search optimization.

After you start benefiting from visits to your site, blog posts and landing pages you want to increase that traffic. You want to make sure more of it leads to subscribers to your email list, sign-ups for your free content and most importantly eventual customers. For that to happen, your content must convert. And the only way for you to know if it does is to analyze your site’s traffic.

(THIS POST CONTAINS FAIRLY TECHNICAL TERMS. PLEASE CLICK ON THE LINKS FOR DEFINITIONS)

Web analytics will show you who is coming to your site and almost everything about them. They will show you where your traffic is coming from in terms of geography.  And which search, website, email or social media links are sending you traffic. Various metrics will show you what pages and posts your audience visits, how much time visitors spent on your site, and the amount of traffic per day, week, month, etc.. They will show you how visitors entered, navigated through, and exited your site. You will be able to infer the search terms they used to find you as well.

With all this valuable information, you will have the data you need to optimize your website. You can conduct a complete content analysis of your entire site. With web analytics, you will be able to determine if your content is meeting the goals you have set for your site. You can also see if your content is achieving the objectives you have set for it in your content strategy.

You can see which blog post subjects resonate with visitors and produce more content for that category. And you can see which subjects are weak and then produce less content for them. You can A/B test the copywriting on your landing pages, email sign-up forms, long and short-form copy and call to actions. Use the results to improve your copywriting and increase conversion.

You can also A/B test aspects of your site’s design.  These include images, navigation, typography, color, and positioning. You can test media formats, links, forms, free trial lengths and pricing schemes. Use the results to optimize your design. This optimization also lets you convert more visitors into customers and clients.

Image of Google Analytics page inside WordPress backend

Google Analytics – Free and (Easy to get help with)

There is a variety of tools for measuring your website’s traffic with. The best one for small business is Google Analytics. Here is why:

  • It is free.
  • It provides tracking code to put into your website’s head that tracks every page and post.
  • It shows you how much of your traffic comes from desktop computers, tablets, and phones.
  • It lets you use Universal Analytics‘ multiscreen tracking to see visitors’ unique behavior on various devices.
  • It lets you see traffic that comes from your email marketing and social media posts.
  • It allows you to access Google’s Web Master Tools. These tools allow you to see the demographic information of your visitors (and much more).
  • It tells you the percentages of new and return visitors.
  • It lets you analyze visitor behavior on your site.
  • It allows you to segment and analyze your audience.
  • It allows you to set goals for your content and see if that content meets them.
  • It provides valuable information about your ecommerce site’s performance.
  • It lets you see if your paid search ads are driving traffic to your site.
  • It provides you with benchmarking data so you can see how you compare to other websites in your industry and niche.
  • It provides a large number of reports for the metrics we have been discussing.
  • It allows you to create custom reports.
  • It works with plug-ins for WordPress that let you get a quick overview of your traffic each time you log in to your WordPress site.
  • It is the world’s most popular analytics solution so there is a great deal of information available about how to use it.

Continue reading “Web analytics drive decisions that lead to conversion”

Search Engine Optimization Brings the Eyeballs to your site

A well-planned search optimization strategy will maximize visits to your site and blog.

Get Found to Get Results

Now, let’s start learning how to use SEO to bring the right eyeballs to your site.

If you have read my earlier posts, you have now learned how to use copywriting on your landing pages and posts in order to drive the actions you want visitors to take on your WordPress site and blog. But if no one gets a chance to see the media content on your blog you will not see any results. There are many ways to drive traffic to your site. The way most prospects who are not familiar with your business will find you is via search engine results (serps).

The Next Web has posted stats that show just how critical SEO is for your company:

  • 80 percent of consumers search for a product/service before purchasing it
  • 70 percent read online reviews before making purchase decisions
  • 68 percent of consumers begin their decision-making while searching for a keyword
  • Websites that blog regularly receive 55 percent more traffic and over 80 percent more leads compared to websites that don’t
  • Over 70 percent of search clicks are organic

Because SEO is an aspect of content marketing that changes monthly, weekly or maybe daily, I will only cover the basics of search engine optimization here. The search optimization service, Moz, has some useful resources that are always up to date at http://moz.com/learn/seo

Let’s start with a few definitions:

  • Keyword – an informative word used in an information retrieval system to show the content of a document. Searchers often combine them in keyword phrases. Hence, they are also known as search terms.
  • Guest Blogging – writing blog posts for external blogs with a link back to your site’s content in the author’s biography.
  • Hashtag – a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify the topic of social media messages.
  • Algorithm – a process or set of rules followed in calculations that search engines use to determine their results.
  • URL – uniform resource locator. Also known as URL address (what shows up in a browser’s address window).
  • Backlink – an incoming hyperlink from one web page to another website.
  • SERP – search engine result page.

Ranking factors for search engine results

The two factors that most impact your serps are external links to your content and your pages/posts titles.

Links

If you want to use the major component of search engine ranking to drive traffic to your content, there is one single, but time-consuming thing you must do. You must create extraordinary media on your blog. Content that people will want to share with social media and link to on their website’s pages and posts. These are inbound links to your site from external websites, not links in your content to other sites.

Your content must provide real value to visitors and make their lives better. When other people link to and share your content, it shows Google and other search engines that your site is authoritative, trustworthy, and useful. They will then feel comfortable recommending your posts and pages in their search results.

Backlinks

Acquiring quality links back to your site takes a long time to bear fruit. You must get them via shareable content if you want to show up at the top of the results for your keywords. You must post fresh content consistently and regularly. Longer posts show your expertise so make sure they are around 500 – 1000 words in length. Posts larger than this are hard to consume on mobile devices. This content must inspire people to link back to it from their sites.  Moz has a tool, Open Site Explorer, which will show you who is linking to your site at http://moz.com/researchtools/ose/. You will need to paste individual page/post URLs into the tool for analysis.

Guest blogging on other websites is an excellent way to get links back to your site. But, the content of your guest posts must be just as good as anything you would put on your site. It must be unique content to the third-party’s site not something you have copied and pasted from your blog.

One thing you should never do is buy links. Ever. Google in particular only credits you for links from sites that do not sell links. If you buy links, Google will punish your rankings.  Continue reading “Search Engine Optimization Brings the Eyeballs to your site”

It’s closing time. Use landing pages to ask for the sale.

Well planned and executed landing pages turn your email, social media, and blog content into sales.

It’s Closing Time

Let’s start learning how to use landing pages to ask for the sale.

As we saw in my earlier post, copywriting is essential to any business’s marketing success. It becomes a high art form on landing pages.

Landing pages are ones where you want the viewer to take a single, particular action after viewing them. They drive the second A in your AIDA sales process. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. These actions could be to sign up for an email list, download a piece of content marketing, enter your online store or most importantly, purchase your product(s). They are where you want to focus viewers’ attention on your vital message.

Visually, a landing page should be simple, clean and easy to understand. If you are driving people to your landing page from paid advertising versus organic search, you want to tie the look and message of the landing page directly to that of the ad. Or vice-versa. Like any page on your site, but even more importantly, it must load quickly. If you have moved someone near closing, you don’t want to lose out because of poor website performance.

It is worth the time, effort and cost to do A/B testing with your landing page. Have two versions and see which one converts best. Over the course of time change your headlines, visuals and the designs of your call to action button. You want to continuously test these elements and repeatedly optimize your landing page. Your landing pages are where you get income from your viewers so invest in making the pages perfect.

Only essential information should be on your page. It must be relevant to the message you are communicating and the action you want the viewer to take. Most landing pages consist of the following elements:

  • an image or visual
  • an attention-grabbing headline/title
  • sub-headings
  • body copy and content
  • the close and call to action (CTA)

Here is an example:  Continue reading “It’s closing time. Use landing pages to ask for the sale.”