Email and Inbound Marketing

The selling process has changed Why? Because buying habits have changed. Instead of directly going to a store to learn about a new product or service, one can simply search the   internet. If you Google inbound marketing, the first things that comes up is Hubspot. Hubspot’s inbound marketing methodology main point is that the process does not happen on its own, the marketer must be part of it.

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 Inbound marketing defined by Hubspot, “inbound is about creating and sharing content with the world. By creating content specifically designed to appeal to your dream customers, inbound attracts qualified prospects to your business and keeps them coming back for more”.
In order for your business to break through the clutter of the internet, your sales and marketing team needs to work together.
Sales + Marketing = Smarketing
Smarketing, termed by Hubspot is meant to highlight the importance of  your sales and marketing team having alighted goals.

The Complete Guide to Inbound Sale, “Sales is no longer about closing, it’s about helping”. Your sales team now acts as a brand adviser where they identify and them solve customers problems. With the vast amount of information available, your sales team is no longer the gate-keep to your brands information. Sales has moved from making cold calls to writing content blogs or using a sales ready website.

Tips for a sales person:
  • Research Research Research. Before picking up the phone, make sure to research the business your selling to thoroughly. Check out their website, social media pages, case studies and any additional helpful information.
  • Determine your goal before picking up the phone.
  • Tailor your conversation with the customer according to your research and goal.  A sales person goal is to solve a problem and educate so understanding what stage in the buying process your customer is at, is highly important.
  • The way you articulate information needs to resonate with your prospect. Speak to the prospect using industry language and don’t  sound like a statical robot.
  • Overall be human and educate! 
Email marketing is part of the closing process in inbound marketing. Email marketing assists in building a relationship through providing the potential customer with relevant content. Email Marketing Essentials, states, “Email marketing is a cost-effective solution that gives you the power to reach customers in a place most people visit every day — their inbox”.

Consider these two statics from Email Marketing Essentials.

  •  “60 percent of online customers have made a purchase as a result of email marketing”.
  • “Email is almost 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined in helping your business acquire new customers”.

If you utilize the email marketing channel right, your business will positivity be influenced. To start with, only send email to people who know you. Its too easy for people to delete or mark an email as spam without even looking at it. In order to prevent this, make sure who you are recipient knows you. Permission based email marketing is the best way to retain long lasting relationships.

When sending out emails, make sure you don’t treat your contacts like names on a list, treat them like people. Each customer differs from one another. Some are opting into your emails to learn about your brand where others are repeat customers. Make sure your email content is relevant to the receiver. By viewing your email report, determine what email content readers are opening the most and generating the greatest click through rate. By doing this, your brand is listening to your customers and thus can provide them with content they want to hear about.

Once you understand what your readers are interested in hearing about, establish a content plan. Review customers frequently asked questions online and in person. By doing this, your brand will directly helpping solve problems through your content. Maximize your delivery rate by using a software program such as Constant Contact, will allow you to see if your emails are being received. By examining your bounce and spam rate, you can determine  if your emails are going to an invalid email address or how many readers send your emails directly to their spam folders.

Make sure when customers are signing up to receive your emails that you provide information right then and there what you will be sending them. Make sure you state what value your emails will provide them. Integrating email marketing with other communication channels provides the best results. Use your Twitter, Facebook and other social media account as a way to encourage users to sign up to receive your emails. Constant Contact allows you to use customizable email temples which will make you look more professional. You will be able to add photos, insert your logo, add text, add social media buttons and more. Remember, look good, do good!

Like all marketing tactics, REVIEW AND MEASURE! You can’t determine your emails are effective without reviewing the results. In my previous blog post I wrote about A/B testing and the effectiveness in the Obama campaign. A/B testing will allow your business to see which emails headlines, subject bar, buttons and more are most effective. Check out my previous blog post for more information.

The difficult part of email marketing is to know when to send more emails and when to hold back. Timing is everything. If you overall annoy your email recipients they will opt-out of your emails. The goal here is to find the right balance. For instances, what do you do when a high volume sales season ends. When the New Year hits, many people have finished their shopping and are no longer interested in receiving large volumes of emails sales offerings. How to Connect with Email-Fatigued Prospects in Three Simple Steps, answer this vary question.

  1. Show subscribers you’ve got more to offer than deals and discounts. After a major buying season, customers are less interested in “save big” and more interests in meaningful content. Provide customers with relevant and sharable industry insight to continue to maintain your current relationship.
  2. Offer a steady stream of customized content through an automated series. By creating mini-message sets of content that does not tax your readers schedule or time, your brand show its area of expertise.  To do this, create an umbrella topic relevant to your brand and then push your message through timed automated mini-messages. “The goal is to create meaningful, periodic touch points over the course of a few weeks to remind your subscribers that you’re a valuable resource year-round—not just during the holidays”.
  3. Give customers the option to connect a little less frequently (You know, if that’s what they really want). Shoppers in December may love your daily or weekly emails. But with the change of season think about scaling back the amount of emails sent. Have an option for consumers to choose to reduce the amount of emails received. This way consumers will not opt out of your emails completely. An excellent point made by this article, “With that said, remember: The average email list churns by about 30% every year. If a few subscribers decide to opt out of your list, it’s OK—because new subscribers are everywhere!”
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Email and Inbound Marketing

The Art of a Landing Page

Using your homepage to promote a new product release will overwhelm your customer. A homepage complexity will distract your customers away from why the come to your page in the first page. In order to efficiently promote a new product, a landing page is a great idea.

Landing pages need to be SIMPLE and highly focused on one idea. According to the Ebook, “A landing page is a place you send traffic when you really want some action”.           A landing page can be:

  • A sales page
  • An email opt-in page
  • Video landing page
  • Content landing page

A landing page is found through information linking to your page, such as clicking Goggle Adwords PPC or having a banner ad on major sites. Each ad should be linked to a different landing page depending on the desired outcome of the ad. Hubspot academy recommends to use at least 15 different landing pages in order to successfully segment your audience.

The point of a landing page is to simplify the users experience by providing an answer to their direct need. When a user clicks on a link that directs them to your landing page, the user is initialing a relationship with you. Your landing page role is to acknowledge the interaction and assist the user in the process of completing their final goal.

Creating a landing page that is direct and easy to read if highly important. Consider how many times you personally have left a page because the heading did not match your desired need. To have an effective landing page, your headlines language needs to be the same as the language from which your visitor came from.

Mashable article on successful customer acquisition, states three important tips for creating an excellent landing page.

  • Make it clean and simple-to-use
  • Offer a clear call to action and robust incentives
  • Design attractive, click-ready creative

For example, one of a favorite rental services I have used is Airbnb. I think Airbnb has masters the art of the landing page.

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  • Immediate call to action: Simple search bar asking, “Where do you want to go”
  • Intriguing background photo slideshow, which triggers a relaxing mood
  • Strong title: Welcome Home
  • Very strong use of visuals meant to trigger a desire to adventure
  • Simple and clear layout of the page
  • Social proof:Rent unique places to stay from local hosts in 190+ countries”

“A given design problem has no single right answer”. A landing page could be designed in a million different ways depending on the designer. The increase of tech companies has created a new industry for designers. UX, user experience designers and UI, User Interface Designers work together to design websites and mobile apps.

UX designers are concerned with how the product feels. The designer ensures the product logically flows from one step to another to ensure the best users experiences. The UI is concerted with how a product is laid out. UI visually communicates the path the UX designer laid out. The UI uses a comprehensive elements (style guide, language and visuals) to create a meaningful page.

The Art of a Landing Page

Social Media: Because your Customers are Online

Social media is about responsive communication. No matter where your customers or potential customers are in the world, you are able to answer them in real time. Social media offers a platform for business and brands to build relationships with customers. Creating relationships is a great way to ensure customer loyalty and retention.

Twitter and Facebook is the new resource for customer service. Instead of customer complaining to their friends of family members about product or service, people are using social media. So what does this mean for businesses? First, it holds a business responsible because of social media is a public platform. Anyone in the world can see the negative post. This sounds scary for businesses but it is actually a great way to solve a customers problem quickly (in real time) and show a customer you care about their issues (relationship building). Solving a customers issue will help your retention rate.

A common mistake stated by MOZ, is content creation is solely promotional in nature. Instead business should also publish content relative to their business and followers. Such as Rachael Zoe, a stylist and designer, Tweeted a picture of the  perfect low cost dress for a spring wedding. Zoe is adding value to her brand by solving the common problem of trying to find a beautiful dress without spending too much money.

MOZ makes a great point why businesses need social media….”Your customers are online”.  Facebook has over 1.9 billion users monthly and Twitter has an average of 400 million tweets sent per day.

Facebook is a free communication channel. I personally use Facebook in two ways:

  1. To run my Her Campus team communication through a private group.
  2. To market the WWU Her Campus content and brand.

A Facebook private group allows only group members to have access to the group. Brainstorming weekly content ideas over Facebook is quick and efficient. The discussion board allows everyone to view responses to posts in one place. Instead of using email, our team uses the Facebook messenger. Facebook messenger is simpler then email because all message are viewed in a conversational manner.

Since Her Campus is not an official club on campus, we have no money to work with. With no money to spend on adverting, Facebook is an important adverting tool for us. I use the timed post feature to have the Facebook page post articles at certain times. Through watching my page, I realized students are checking their Facebook right when they wake up and then between classes.  Posting articles at the right time has greatly increased the number of students the Her Campus pages reaches.

With only 140 characters to communicate your thought, you better make every word count. Every tweet your brand makes is a representation of how your brand speaks. Your tweets need to be consistent! Another important aspect is to mange your following to followers ratio. Doing this will establish your businesses creditability and shows the community you care enough to follow them back.

Uber of Seattle does a great job at this. Uber uses its twitter account to engage, inform and entertain their followers. Uber launched a 2 week campaign called Ditch Your Keys in honor of earth day. Uber used twitter to announce the campaign and then further utilized twitter to Screen Shot 2015-04-28 at 11.31.36 AMgive constant updates about the campaigns progress. Customer could easily get involved by tweeting pictures of their alternative transportation (Uber ride share, taking the metro or riding their bike) and hash tagging the photo #DitchYourKeys. The campaigns prizes where tweeted daily as an incentive for campaign participants. Uber also tweeted links to the Ditch You Keys blog post further campaign details.

According to MOZ, “Due to its mostly public nature, Twitter’s most powerful use is connecting people. The platform allows complete strangers to come together over common interests and ideas and to participate in conversations that range from the relatively mundane to the incredibly important”. Unlike Facebook, Twitter has helped Her Campus reach students that we are not already friends. This fall when my partner and I launched the Her Campus magazine at WWU, our first member recruiting meeting was filled with students who heard about us through twitter.

The share ability of Facebook and Twitter posts is a great marketing tactic. When a post is shared or retweeted, a larger audience will view your content. Instead of customer just talking about a business or brand they like (word of mouth marketing) customers are  sharing a brands post they find interesting. Social media allows business to humanize themselves. Facebook is excellent for building a brand community and Twitter is an excellent lead generator.

Social Media: Because your Customers are Online

From Mad Men to Content Marketing

How would my favorite ad man, Don Draper function in our  marketing world today? Don Draper’s role in a ad agency today would be must more minimal due to the shift away from traditional marketing and HiPPO leadership (mentioned in my previous blog post). A large part of marketing is about evolving with the new technology available. It took Sterling Cooper of Madison Avenue 20 years after television was created to create their first  TV department. The parallel today would be for a business not to use content marketing as part of their adverting campaigns.

The traditional marketing tactics of interruption is no longer an effective way to reach ones audience. With so much noise and clutter in the media, people are tuning out interrupting messages. Content marketing is about building relationships with your audience through education.  Content marketing is communication with customers without selling them a physical product. Creating content is an ongoing processing that continuously needs to be updated. The more content created, the more views your page will receive, according to The Content Marketing Institute.

In Mad Men, the new IBM computer replaced the creative lounge. The copy writers worried not only is the creative lounge being replaced but also their  jobs. The fear evolution to new technically is greatly seen in this episode.

MM75GinzComp

The fear of evolution arises because people do not have a full understanding of what the the new machine is capable of. This is the same parallel to content marketing. Although shifting to creating meaningful content and not interrupting peoples lives can be difficult to create, the new approach yields amazing results.

One can not just create content and push publish and expect amazing results. In order to capitalize on content marketing to the fullest, you must first understand your audience. The best way to do this is going straight to the source, your customers. It is importance to balance both qualitative data (interviewing customers) and quantitative data (evaluation web analytics) to establish your buyers persona. Check out MarketingSperpa for more insight into establishing a buyers persona.

Once you have established your buyers persona you are ready to begin creating content. Remember, the key to content marketing is understanding your audience. Contenting marketing is about solving peoples problems. The fundamental quality of content marketing is the belief that by a business creating and delivering ongoing valuable information to buyers, the buyers will reward a business with their loyalty and business.

Content Marketing Trends for 2015, discusses trends for this year. A new emphasis of being placed on controlling and communicating one coherent brand message. An example of this is REI blog posts. REI does a fantastic job at highlight what their gears does through “how to articles” and videos. Th REI Bicycle Commuting Checklist, highlights the brand image of being sustainable (ride your bike instead of driving) and offers valuable information to customers. Such as, what do you do if your bike needs repair and what clothes are best to wear commuting to work. The checklist provided hyperlinks to all necessary items that can be found at REI. The key here is that REI is solving customer problems through offering their products as the solution. Their is a link to a bike lock, under the tab how to store your bike safely.

Another trend of content marketing is creating content for viewers with a low at attention span. Content marketing get mores views and shares with longer social-shares-by-content-length image 9posts. In order to keep people with low attention spans reading  your long content, you must provide interesting, easy to read and entertaining content. Review the chart to the right. The longer the content the more shares on social media.

The Mad Men days were dominated by print ads and then later in the seasons TV ads. Today with people watching less live TV and switching to streaming, the traditional methods are simply ineffective. A recent trend for 2015 however indicates how to mix traditional print ads with digital content. Content Marketing Trends for 2015, states, “Distribute your content at tradeshows and events, consider elaborate options like branded magazines, and use your existing print publications like catalogs to push your online content – not simply coupons and product photos”.

Even with the shift in marketing strategies, the idea of marketing has stayed the same. Marketing is about relationship building. What has changed is how a brand can reach people. Content marketing is the new strategy in the game.

From Mad Men to Content Marketing

The Scientific Method of Marketing: A/B Testing

Ever wonder how the 2012 Obama Campaign raised $690 million over the internet? Such a shockingly large amount of money was mostly raised through email fundraising. This makes me wonder about the recent fundraising email I sent out to family and friends asking to donate to my relay for life team…should I have done more research and testing first?

A/B testing was utilized by the Obama campaign in order to determine the most efficient way to fundraiser through email. The email was tested in the following areas:

  • Subject Line
  • Amount of money to ask for
  • The message
  • The format

A/B testing removes the guesswork. Instead making decisions off of “we think” we know, A/B testing insures one is making education “we know” decisions. A/B testing  is an easy way to test changes to your website or emails against your current design and structure. The test shows you which changes were most effective. The Obama campaign found that using unattractive giant size font for links and highlighted yellow sections in emails had the best success rate. Even profanity was found to be successful, “Hell Yeah I Like Obamacare”.

What I found fascination about the fundraising email is the constant need to change and adjustment. The Science Behind Those Obama Campaign E-Mails, points out, “There was no such thing as the perfect e-mail; every breakthrough had a shelf life. “Eventually the novelty wore off, and we had to go back and retest”.

Amelia Showalter, the former director of analytics for the the 2012 Obama campaign was featured in ELLE magazine as the “most eligible hires in techdom”. Schowalter used A/B testing to determine how to write and format a visually effective email. Her research went as far as to determine if people still enjoyed receiving emails from the president addressed  you by name. Check out Amelia’s TedTalk, Testing it will free your mind.

Amelia leaves you with 5 tips to free your mind:

  1. Start somewhere. Don’t force yourself to be perfect.
  2. Fail upwards. Testing can prove your instincts wrongs.
  3. Test all the time. Make it a priority. It will force you to be more innovate.
  4. Surround yourself with diverse people.
  5. Trust in testing.

Instead of a marketing team solely listening to Highest Paid Person’s Opinion (HiPPO), A/B testing relies on scientific decision making.

Practical Guide to Controlled Experiments on the Web: Listen to Your Customers not to the HiPPO, explains some limitations of A/B testing. A/B testing utilize statistics significance to understand which variant is better. However A/B testing  does not always indicate why the variant was better. Its important to remember when changing the navigation of a website, it takes viewers time to learn the new navigation system. In order to collect useful data, the new navigation system should be tested for a few weeks.
Presidential Campaigns are not the only ones using A/B testing. HawkHost, is a high quality viral hosting and reselling service. HawkHost used A/B testing in order to improve their website with their goal being a sale. HawkHost first tested their homepage heading and subheading as their variant.  The heading and subheadings message, color and font combination was tested. Even which letters where put in bold font or underlined was tested. The changes yielded a increased in conversion rate by 3 times the original.
Remember, don’t rely on the HiPPO to make decisions for your business or campaign. ALWAYS TEST. You never know what results will surprise you.
The Scientific Method of Marketing: A/B Testing

Inbound Marketing: No More Tuning out Marketing Messages

What-is-inbound-marketing

Ever feel like advertisements are pulling you away from the dinner table? Or interpreting your life in order to sell your something you do not need? Traditional marketing is based off of interrupting people lives in hopes people pay attention. However, with some much ‘noise’ people are actually tuning out advertisements. Could you tell me what ad’s you saw on TV last night? And more specially, what company was producing the advertisement? The answer is probably NO.

As marketing students, I often feel judged when answering the questions, what is your major. The awkward pause or the weird look people give me often forces me to back up my answer with, I’m also a communication studies minor. I once took a yoga class that began each session with advice. The beginning of the class became a bash the marketing world. The teacher focused on informing the class about the evils of marketing and how marketers are ruining society. Instead of feeling a since of inner peace, I felt annoyed and dropped the classes.

Marketing does not have to be about selling people stuff they do not  need or interrupting their family time at the dinner table. Market is shifting toward providing people with information they can use to get the most pleasure out of their purchase.

So how do you do this? Inbound marketing of course. The Harvard Case study, Hubspot: Inbound Marketing and 2.0, defines inbound marketing as the following:

“Inbound marketing is a collection of marketing strategies and techniques focused on pulling relevant prospects and customers toward a business and its products. Inbound marketers offered useful information, tools, and resources designed to attract prospective customers to the company during the time when prospects were actively engaged in a search for a particular product or service”.

The key to inbound marketing is that instead of interrupting, inbound marketing attracts customers during their personal time of search. Marketing is now a resource people can use to educate themselves. By inbound marketing using interesting and entertaining content, people are more likely to engage and pay attention to the message.

A blog post, videos, photos, SEO, forums and online communication, social media are all examples of content for inbound marketing. In order to make your content useful, your distribution channels need to be easy to access. Inbound content should be focused on potentials customer’s problems with your product or service being the solution.

Hubspot is an example of inbound marketing software. Hubspot defines inbound marketing in three steps:

  1. Attract
  2. Convert
  3. Delight

Vicio is a telecom expense management software company founded in 2001. The company mainly focused on using traditional marketing strategies, such as cold calling and and direct mail. These methods where time consuming and providing little returns. People screen their calls. Think, how often do you answer your phone to an unknown number? Or if you do, do you hang up right away or screen DONT CALL ME AGAIN when its a telemarketer?

With the help of Hubspot, Vicio was able to create a new inbound marketing plan. Web traffic doubled, blog posts were getting over 100 views a day, organic searches accounted for half of the overall web traffic and the use of SEO and keywords  generated Vocie a large amount of leads.

Hubspot helped Vicio identify what keywords customers were using to find their website and used those keyword when crafting the website. Not only has web traffic increase but also the quality of leads. This decreased Vicio time spent of lead generation. Hubspot allows small companies like Vicio to compete with larger companies who have more man power and money.

Inbound Marketing: No More Tuning out Marketing Messages

Google Analytics Platform Principals

As I further my research into the world of analytic, I have found understanding the platform to be particularly helpful. Platforms are the underlining tool that makes all your analysis possible. Platforms are important for two reasons.

  1. Reports can be interpreted differently. A report is more meaningful when you understanFeatured imaged how the report was created. For example, the bounce rate of a blog. The bounce rate will appear high because people go to your page just to read that blog. Without a full understanding of what bounce rate, is you could not determine weather it is good or bad.
  2. Understanding the platform makes you realize the full potential of the system. Such as, you can filter your data and use customized features. A smartphone at the basic level makes phone calls. With a higher understanding of the smartphones use, one understands the phone is more like a small computer in function.

The four components of the platform are; data collections, processing, configuration, and reporting. Data collection for a website starts with inserting JaveScript tracking code into your website. The tracking code is triggered by users behavior and is recorded by Google Analytics. Data processing transforms the raw data from collection into your Google Analytics according to your account settings.The processing stage synthesis all your data together from various platforms, such as your website and mobile device. Once your data is processed, it CANNOT be changed.  Configuration align your data into a meaningful way according to your businesses measurement plan and objectives. Once the data is processed you can accesses your data in a report interface. The report interface allows you to view your data in various ways with different visualization tools

Platforms synthesize  data from various devices into a reports. What is the Point of Google Analytics, proposes the questions, “You have more data than you ever imagined you needed and now?”.  After collecting data, the most important step is to understand what this information means. Google Analytics assists you in your understanding by providing tools such as charts and graphs. Using filters allows you to organize and view your data in a more meaningful way. The goals measure how well your site meets your objectives of completing an activity, which is called conversion. Conversion occurs when a customer makes a purchase or downloads a PDF.

Understanding how a platform operates will allow you to use Google Analtyics to its full potential. Once data is in a report interface, one must be able to use the data to enhance your businesses goals and objectives. Google Analtyics is a comprehensive tool to better understanding your digital business.

Google Analytics Platform Principals