- by Alyson Shane
People don’t just buy online anymore; they now do their shopping online, as well.
To stand out on social media, brands need to understand how to create opportunities for discovery and joy.
Think about how you feel when you find a fancy new cheese at the grocery store, or when you see the perfect outfit hanging in a storefront window. That endorphin rush makes us feel good about our purchase, which leads to a better customer experience.
This shift means brands need to focus on the discovery process, creating online shopping experiences that feel unexpected and exciting.
Make sure your e-commerce and marketing goals align
Many companies have their e-commerce and marketing departments working separately, with little collaboration or communication.
On the surface, this makes sense: marketers measure their success by engagement, and track key performance indicators (KPIs) like reach, link clicks, comments, and reshares.
E-commerce teams, on the other hand, care exclusively about the percentage of visitors who buy something.
By combining efforts, these two teams can learn from each other’s KPIs to understand buyer intent and behaviour.
Collaboration between these two teams can also reveal things like:
- Intent to buy. Did they click on the Shoppable post to buy, or to see the rest of the company’s products?
- Most popular content. There is often a difference between the content that’s hottest on social media, and the items that are viewed/purchased most on the e-commerce store.
- Where to funnel the hype. If an item is selling like crazy on the website, then the marketing team can use that information to promote it on social media and keep the hype going.
Tell stories that help customers discover products
Telling stories that feature your products helps your customers picture themselves using them in their day-to-day lives.
Take a set of new dishes, for example. There’s nothing all that glamorous about plates and bowls, right? But if your customer sees them as part of a beautiful tablescape, or being passed across the table at the holidays, it helps them picture themselves using it in similar situations.
Brands that publish interesting and fun content showing how to use their products have an even better chance at creating a lasting connection with their customers.
For example, the company selling plates and dishes could publish recipes or how-tos on the perfect tabletop presentation. This kind of content helps your customers feel empowered and excited - both emotions that are strongly associated with conversion.
Make community part of the discovery process
Creating real, lasting connections with your customers requires creating a community that they can be a part of.
If you run a retail e-commerce store, for example, encourage your customers to share their purchases online, but also on your website.
Having “real world” examples from other customers creates a sense of community, and confidence in your brand.
By encouraging users to share their photos and engage with one another, you can start to craft your e-commerce website as a place to meet other like-minded people, not just to complete a purchase and click away.
The changing shopping experience
Shifting to a “discovery” focused model of inspirational shopping and aligning your marketing and e-commerce teams allows you to combine content and community to create a seamless shopping experience for your customers.
Creating a seamless shopping experience that transitions from social media to the website is essential, but it’s just as important to foster a sense of community among your customers.
Want more insight on how to grow your e-commerce business? Subscribe to our newsletter for weekly, hand-picked resources.
Looking to work with a team who can help you connect with new customers and grow your business? Drop us a line.
- by Alyson Shane
In a recent workshop with The Kinship Studio, we covered the importance of personalized content and how it can increase leads and sales by making your social media content more engaging.
Today we’re going to expand on some of the tips we shared with the class - let's dive right in:
What is Personalized Marketing?
Personalized marketing is the process of using data and analysis to deliver personalized content that is tailored to specific members of your target audience.
In fact, you’ve probably encountered this form of marketing before: have you ever received a “cart abandon” email encouraging you to complete a purchase? That’s personalized content.
Another form of personalized marketing is dynamic website content.
This type of personalized content will change to reflect the person’s browsing or purchasing behavior, or will change languages and stock items (for example) based on where the person is located.
What Are the Benefits of Personalized Marketing?
Some of the potential benefits of using personalization in your social media marketing include:
- Generate more customers and leads
- Create a sense of trust and familiarity with your customers
- Increased customer engagement
- Encourage content sharing
- Improve social media relevance (and lower ad costs)
- Increase brand awareness
Now that we’ve covered the benefits of personalizing your content, it’s time to dig into where we find all that customer data from in the first place:
Source 1: Review Your Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are an essential part of your marketing strategy because they help you identify specific, unique characteristics of different customer types.
They can help you understand things like:
- Age, gender, and geographic location
- Where they spend their time online
- Which devices they use (mobile, tablet, etc)
- The topics that interest them
- The influencers they follow and engage with
We’ve talked a lot about the importance of having buyer personas in an earlier post. If you’ve never created one, check out our handy guide (with free template!) to start building yours.
Source 2: Twitter Analytics
Twitter Analytics is a treasure trove of information about the people that follow you!
Check out your followers and note the following areas:
- Their interests (broad topics like comedy, weather, and technology)
- The devices they use to sign in and their wireless carrier
- Their household income status and net worth
- Their marital status
By exploring the various tabs (Overview, Demographics, Lifestyle Behaviour, Consumer Behavior, and Mobile Footprint) you can develop a deeper understanding of how your Twitter users behave.
But you’re not done yet. Next up...
Source 3: Facebook Audience Insights
Another great place to get a better understanding of your audience is Facebook Audience Insights.
Find it by opening Ads Manager, then clicking All Tools > Audience Insights.
Facebook will ask you to choose between studying everyone on Facebook, or just people connected to your page. Unless you have a giant following, select ‘Everyone on Facebook.’
Use the information you learned when looking through your Twitter Insights to inform your research. For example, you can look up people with this kind of criteria:
- 30-55 years old
- Located in the U.S.
- All genders
- Interested in Business
- In CEO or President positions
Once you’ve set up your search, Facebook will show you in-depth information about your audience. Here, you can find things like:
- Which Facebook pages this audience likes
- Where they live
- Which devices they use
- Their job titles
- The industry they work in
- And lots more!
Source 4: Look at Your Email List
The key to building an email list that helps you understand your audience is to offer lots of ways for people to subscribe. Some ways to do this include:
- CTA buttons or embedded text encouraging readers to subscribe
- Images that pop-up or slide-in on your landing pages
- Posts about your email newsletter on your social media channels
- Varied gated content (PDFs and resources that can be accessed in exchange for an email)
Different options help you understand people’s motivations for subscribing in more detail.
Once someone has subscribed, you can track the links in the email you sent them, see if they opened your email, and more.
Use a Social Listening Tool
A social listening tool is a must-have for the type of ongoing audience research needed to excel at personalized content.
Social listening tools typically offer multiple filtering options and in-depth analytics, and allow you to stay on top of any brand mentions online.
Some of the best tools out there (depending on your budget) are:
Brand24: 14-day free trial, Pro $49/month, Premium $99/month, Max $399/month
Buzzsumo: Pro $79/mo, Plus $139/mo, Large $239/mo, Enterprise $499/mo
Sprout Social: Standard $99/user/mo, Professional $149/user/mo, Advanced $249/user/mo
Brandwatch: Custom pricing
Hootsuite Insights: Custom pricing
Start Researching Your Personalized Content Today
There’s no better time to start understanding your audience and speaking more directly to how your company solves their problems.
Delivering personalized content to your customers will help you see a higher return on investment (ROI) in your marketing efforts, and creates a more connective experience for your audience.
- by Alyson Shane
Have you ever used a Facebook Carousel Ad?
Carousel Ads have been around since 2014, but many businesses still avoid using them because they're not sure how to use them effectively.
In this article, we'll discuss what a Carousel Ad is, why they work, and how to create your own Facebook Carousel Ads that increase your return on investment (ROI).
What's a Facebook Carousel Ad?
Carousel Ads let you showcase 2-10 images or videos within one ad, which allows you to tell a story and connect with your audience in a more meaningful way.
Carousel Ads are incredibly effective, earning an average of 30-50% lower cost per conversion, 20-30% lower cost-per-click, and much higher engagement rates than the average single-image ad.
The best part? Carousel Ads don't cost extra. So start experimenting!
Why should you use Facebook Carousel Ads?
This ad format is great for a variety of purposes, including:
- Telling your business' story.
- Highlighting multiple products or services.
- Sharing more information about a specific topic.
- Promoting events.
- Explaining benefits or processes.
Facebook Carousel Best Practices
Stuck on how to tell a compelling story in your carousel cards? Use these tips as inspiration:
Focus on the creative
The image or video you use for your carousel will determine how effective it is, so choose images or video that have a similar look and feel to each other.
Creative that doesn't match, or doesn't tell a story, feels especially disjointed in the Carousel Ad format, so spend time developing swipe-worthy creative assets.
Use every part of the ad
Don't neglect elements like your headline, description, and call-to-action.
Make sure your ad copy matches your business' tone, and A/B test different elements so see which combination yields the best results.
Tell a story in your carousel
Carousels are great because they can tell a story.
You can choose to reveal parts of your story as the user swipes through each individual image, reveal something in the second image that was hidden in the first one, create panoramic images that span 4 - 5 images... the options are really limitless!
Creating "stories" is useful to keep users engaged and swiping, and can be a great way to reveal new products, ideas, or services.
The key here is creativity - experiment and don't be afraid to try new things.
Optimize the order of your carousel cards
Facebook offers the option to replace the first image that shows in your carousel with a higher-performing image, which can be a great way to improve your campaign performance.
Important: only try this if you aren't doing a story-style carousel. Otherwise it may mess up the order of your images.
Facebook Carousel Ad Specs
You can create Carousel Ads in two places:
- On your page. If you only have one URL you'd like to use.
- In Ads Manager. If you want each carousel card to link to a different URL.
Before you set up your ad, make sure you have the following assets in place to set up your campaign:
- Minimum # cards: 2
- Max # of cards: 10
- Image file type: jpg or png
- Max video file size: 4GB
- Max video length: 240 minutes
- Video file type: MP4 or MOV are best
- Recommended resolution: 1080 x 1080px at least
- Recommended ratio: 1:1Text: 125 characters
- Headline: 40 characters
- Link description: 20 characters
Important: images with more than 20% text may experience reduced delivery, so keep your images as text-free as you can.
Get started with Carousel Ads
Experimenting with this fun and versatile ad option is a great way to stretch your ad dollars and experiment with different, more engaging forms of brand storytelling in your ads.
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- by Alyson Shane
Hey, it's Alyson here.
I'd originally published the text below as a post on our Instagram profile, but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted Cokie's importance in my life to be reflected here, on the blog of a company that probably wouldn't exist without her influence.
Below is what I said:
Image via Wikipedia.
Before I got my start in Comms, I wanted to be a journalist. I looked up to female public broadcasters like Cokie Roberts and Nina Totenberg, whose voices and important reporting stood out in a male-dominated industry. ⠀
Hearing them on the radio and seeing them on TV growing up made a lasting impact on what I thought I, as a woman, could achieve professionally. ⠀
Even though I eventually decided journalism wasn't for me, it was the influence of women like Cokie that helped push me to pursue a degree in Rhetoric, Writing & Communications.⠀
I listen to "Up First" on NPR every morning, and the hosts were discussing Cokie's influence in their lives. They shared what a kind, caring friend Cokie was; how she went out of her way to let her colleagues know that she respected and admired the work they did; and how her determination and commitment to her work inspired all of them.⠀
Those are the kinds of qualities I try to embody through my work, and what I do each day.⠀
I'm so lucky to work with powerhouse women like Alicia, Hannah, Joy, Kristen, and Kira, and even though we work remotely I hope they know I appreciate all the hard work they do for Starling Social, and for our clients.
Thank you for setting me down this path, Cokie. I'll always admire your persistence, insight, and sense of humour, and I'll miss hearing you on the radio. NPR just won't be the same without you.⠀
If this resonated with you, take a moment to thank someone who's made an impact on your life! They deserve to hear it. Thanks for reading!
- by Alyson Shane
Wondering how to create a high-converting FAQ page for your website?
It's easier than you think!
This under-valued page can serve as one of the fastest ways to move potential customers through your conversion funnel. After all: anyone who's landed on this page has already shown that they're looking for more information about your business - meaning they've moved to the consideration phase of the purchase process.
Now, your FAQ page can give them the info they need to finalize their buying decision.
Many businesses don't use FAQ pages effectively, or add them as an afterthought to their website as a way of fielding potential customer service calls.
In this post we'll show you how to build an FAQ page that drives conversions:
What Do FAQ Pages Need?
FAQ pages need to have a purpose.
Don't just add one because you feel like you should have one, or because you're trying to create more pages on your website. Bad FAQ pages can drive visitors away from your website, muddle your marketing messaging, and damage your brand's reputation.
Below are some of the must-haves for your FAQ page:
Remember: your FAQ page is where your customers look for answers to their questions, so make this page about them.
Leave information like your company history, how many employees you have, etc. to your About Us page. Irrelevant questions keep readers from finding the answers they're looking for, which can make them frustrated and angry.
How to Find Questions for FAQ Pages
Still not sure how to ask the "right" questions on your FAQ page?
Just take a look at what your customers are saying! Take some time to review comments and questions from:
- Phone support.
- Submission forms.
- Customer emails
- Social media comments and direct messages.
- Live chat.
- Sales meetings.
Use a spreadsheet or a tool like this one HubSpot offers to keep track of all questions and customer feedback. The topics and questions that come up the most often are the ones you should address on your FAQ page.
Don't make people hunt for answers on your website.
Your FAQ page should be where they can have their questions answered. If your visitors can't find the answers they're looking for, then your FAQ page is failing you.
If you have a ton of documentation, like a lot of SaaS (software-as-a-service) companies do, then consider using Buffer's FAQ page as inspiration to keep your answers organized:
Image via Buffer
This page has a simple, basic design that helps direct visitors to a number of topics. It's a really clever way to "silo" lots of information for data-heavy services!
Even if the visitor has lots of questions, they can still easily find the answers they're looking for.
Use the K.I.S.S. methodology: Keep It Simple and Strong.
Keep your FAQ answers short and concise, and avoid in-depth answers and explanations whenever possible. Keep those long-form explanations for blog posts (like this one).
Shopify has a great example of an FAQ page that doesn't use a search bar. There aren't a ton of questions (just 14 total) so visitors probably don't need to search to find a specific answer.
Image via Shopify
All you need to do is click on one of the four left-hand topics, or just scroll down to see all the answers on one page.
Search Bar (When Needed)
Installing a search bar empowers visitors to find the answer they're looking for, and has an added advantage of allowing you to track their search queries.
Which brings us to our next point...
Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
FAQ pages are a great way to inject a little extra SEO (Search Engine Optimization) into your customer service experience.
Most businesses build FAQ pages with the assumption that a visitor will arrive there after looking around the website and seeing something that leads them to the FAQ page.
However, you can also build your FAQ page to attract traffic directly from search engines.
You can do this by framing your question in a way that isn't exclusive to a product or service you offer.
Extra Support (When Needed)
Sometimes, your FAQ page just isn't enough.
If it's going to take a little extra work to get some visitors to convert, that's OK. Just make sure that they know the option for more support is available to them.
We love how Samsung approaches their FAQ page:
Image via Samsung
Samsung is a huge company, so it makes sense that their FAQ page has lots of information available when you first arrive.
But if you don't do anything for a few seconds (maybe you're overwhelmed with the choices) a pop-up window appears promoting a live chat session.
This is a much better approach than expecting the visitor to click around and find the support page they're looking for, or hoping they read multiple articles looking for their solution.
This extra effort of connecting your customer with the information they're looking for will go a long way, trust us.
FAQ pages are important resources for your customers - don't neglect them!
People visiting these pages are on the verge of converting, and sometimes all it takes is the answer to a question to help them decide to buy.
By building FAQ pages that are customer-centric, optimized for SEO, and easy to navigate, and watch your conversions roll in.
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- by Alyson Shane
Are you trying to figure out if podcast advertising is right for your business?
Podcasts have become insanely popular these last few years. Over 1/2 of all Americans have listened to one, and nearly 1 in 3 people listen to at least one podcast every month.
Last year, it was more like one in four.
As a result, businesses are projected to spend over $500 million on podcast ads by 2020.
Why? Because 75% of podcast listeners actively listen to podcast ads, and are likely to follow a specific call-to-action after hearing it.
In this post, we'll cover the basics of podcasting, and share the key things to consider when planning your podcast advertising strategy.
Podcasting Terminology 101
If you're fresh to the world of podcasting, here are a few key terms you need to know before we dive in:
- Pre-roll: an ad that plays at the start of the podcast.
- Mid-roll: an ad that plays in the middle.
- Outro: an ad that (wait for it) plays a final call to action before the podcast ends.
- Offer code: a code included in your call-to-action to track where signups, downloads, or purchases come from.
- Native ads: ads hosts read as part of the natural flow of their shows.
- Direct response: URL or offer codes for podcasts that can be tracked.
- Cost per Mille (CPM): how to measure the ad expense per 1000 podcast listens.
- Cost per Acquisition (CPA): how to measure how much it costs you to acquire a new customer through an ad.
How to Find the Right Podcasts for Advertising
Think Like Your Customers
Before you invest in a podcast ad, think about the kinds of people who are most likely to become your customers. This is a great time to break out your buyer personas, but if you don't have any, ask yourself some of these questions:
- Am I advertising to men, women, or both? What are the demographics of my ideal customer (age, income, spending habits)?
- What are the demographics of my ideal customer (age, income, spending habits)?
- What do the podcast hosts have in common with your customers?
Get Real Endorsements from Podcast Hosts
One of the best things about podcast advertising is you can offer samples of your products or free use of your services to the hosts themselves.
Samples create the opportunity for hosts to give a real, honest testimonial about how your company improved their life. These testimonials sound honest because they are honest.
They're why 38% of people who listen to podcasts have reported buying products or services mentioned on podcasts.
Choose Your Podcast Ad Type
There are two categories of podcast ads, which are:
Dynamically Inserted Ads: Ads inserted into a podcast after recording. These ads change depending on when the podcast is played, among other factors.
Dynamically inserted ads are great for targeting specific listeners with a standalone ad that can be tracked and measured.
Baked In Ads: As the name suggests, a baked in ad is read live by the podcast host and isn't inserted after the podcast has been recorded. Everyone who downloads the podcast hears the same ad.
These ads create a more organic feel, but can be difficult to track due to a lack of targeting.
Dynamic ads are a great way to A/B test two versions of your ad messaging with the same audience. These are also better for time-sensitive specials and offers, since you'll want to swap them out with different ads after.
Deciding How Much to Spend on Podcast Ads
Before you start spending, ask yourself these questions:
- What's my goal and how will I track it? (eg: signups, downloads, calls)
- What is my total budget?
Not sure how to calculate a podcast advertising budget? Think about is this way:
According to AdvertiseCast, and the average industry rates for podcasting are:
- $22 for a 30-second ad CPM
- $26 for a 60-second ad CPM
Your CPM goes up depending on how many people listen to the podcast, so if you're hoping to buy a 60-second spot you can expect to pay around $1500 to advertise on a podcast that has 10,000 listeners.
Though some podcasters charge a flat fee, most use either a CPA or CPM formula to set their rates.
For example, if a podcaster's CPM is $30, you'll pay $30 for every thousand unique downloads of the episode where your ad plays. If the podcast has 10,000 listens per episode, your CPM will be $300 per episode.
As a result, advertising on smaller, niche podcasts is great if you're just getting started.
Use the formula above as a reference to determine how much you can afford per episode of each podcast you'd like to advertise on.
Measure + Track Ad ROI
There are a few ways to track how well your podcast ad is performing, including:
Custom URLs: Include a custom URL in your ad that's easy to remember, and directs visitors to a custom landing page designed specifically for the ad campaign.
Promo Codes: Include a promo code for listeners can use when they complete a purchase on your website. You can use multiple promo codes to track different ad campaigns at the same time.
Surveys: Ask buyers or subscribers how they heard about you at checkout, or in a capture form.
Start Small and Experiment
The best way to start podcast advertising is by experimenting with modest budgets. Find smaller, niche podcasts about topics your customers care about first.
Begin with a few tests to understand works, and what doesn't, and don't be afraid to try something different.
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- by Alyson Shane
Recently (okay, in July, it's been a busy summer) Kira Pearson joined the team as our newest Account Manager.
Kira brings together creativity and business in an impactful way. With her Bachelor of Commerce Degree, experience in digital marketing, and love of social media, she truly brings our clients social media to life.
Please join us in welcoming Kira to the team!
- by Alyson Shane
What are you doing with your customer data these days?
If you're not regularly mining it for details on how to create content that answers their questions and moves them through your sales funnel, you're missing out!
In this post, we'll explore how to use customer data to create marketing copy and content.
How Can You Collect Customer Data?
Analytics tools like Social Report and Zoho Analytics can help you understand what your followers are doing on social media, but these options will help you collect more specific data about who your audience and customers are.
Surveys, Quizzes + Questionnaires
Surveys are a great way to learn more about your audience, and can also be a great lead gen tool! In fact, according to LeadQuizzes, the average quiz has a 31.6% lead capture rate.
You can decide to email your most engaged customers or find out more about prospective customers by creating a quiz on your website. Either way, make sure to keep your surveys and questionnaires short and clear, so your customers stay engaged.
Contests + Giveaways
Contests and surveys are great ways to engage with your community and get them excited about your brand. It's also an excellent way to gather specific data about the people who are interested in what you're giving away.
Because you can set the parameters of your contest or survey, you can get as specific with the data needed to enter as you'd like.
Free Gated Content
"Gated content" refers to content that is free, but only after the reader provides some basic information about themselves; usually their name and email.
Use the data you collect to create case studies, infographics, and info-packed PDFs that demonstrates how you solve your customers' problems, then gate that content.
How Can You Use Customer Data to Create Content?
Create Engaging Content
The most important thing to learn from analyzing this data is understanding what your customer care about. If you see that specific topics, phrases, and keywords tend to rank lower, or not at all, phase them out of your marketing copy and swap in the latest data.
Remember: people's needs change over time, so you need to be regularly generating new customer data to review and introduce into your content marketing plan.
Show How You Solve Their Problems
By understanding more about what your customer's needs and problems are, you can create content that shows them how your business helps them solve it.
For example, if you run an HVAC company, you can use customer data to find out which furnaces are most popular. Then, publish a blog post listing the Pros and Cons of each, with a call-to-action (CTA) to contact a technician for more details.
This kind of content shows you're listening to your customers. It also has the added bonus of being extra SEO-friendly, since you're optimizing to match the text your customers are typing into search engines.
Learn the Type of Content Your Customers Love
There are lots of ways that you can share information about your products and services online: through text, images, video, infographics, webinars, etc.
Make sure to pay attention to the Engagement Rate that your posts receive, and note the type of content that tends to do the best.
Learn the Best Time to Publish Your Content
You want to be publishing content when your audience is online, which means paying attention to when they're most active. Monitor your social media analytics to find out when your audience is spending the most time online, and plan your publishing to occur during those peak times.
Don't forget to make a point to be active on social media during this time to talk to your followers about the new post as well - social media isn't just a soapbox!
Create Content That's Geo-Specific
One of the easiest ways to speaks to a customer's needs is to get specific to where they live. Use your customer data to understand where your customers are coming from and create content that targets them specifically.
Even better: if you advertise through Facebook, the options to get ultra granular are almost limitless.
For example, a retirement community advertising available units would want to target 55+ seniors looking to sell their homes in suburban postal or ZIP codes with ads promoting newly-renovated suites. See? Ultra granular.
Start Using Customer Data in Your Content
When you spend the time to understand your customers, you can craft content that speaks to how you solve their problems. It's really that simple!
Remember to connect with your customers regularly: on social media, through email, on your blog, and wherever they may be online. Use the data you collect to periodically re-evaluate what your audience is saying to you.
- by Alyson Shane
Do you have a hard time figuring out what to say to your followers on social media?
Even for the most outgoing among us, joining conversations on social media in an authentic way can feel daunting for even the most seasoned digital marketer.
We also have to consider other obstacles, including:
- Ongoing changes to the algorithms on Facebook, Instagram, and other social networks that decreases organic reach.
Fierce competition for the same audience from within your industry.
Decreasing attention spans and fatigue among social media users.
In spite of these challenges, having in conversations with your followers on social media is the best way for your brand to show your audience that you're listening.
Social media users are savvy, and will unfollow you (and potential stop buying from you) if they feel like you're too busy talking at them to take the time to listen and speak to them.
That's why today we're sharing our favorite conversation tactics to increase brand engagement. Let's dive right in:
There are three primary ways we can start a discussion on social media: by asking questions, by joining existing conversations, sharing topical news, and asking questions.
Join Existing Conversations
One of the easiest ways to engage with others on social media is to jump right into an existing conversation.
We especially love Twitter for this purpose because we can talk to pretty much anyone about anything, but don't be afraid to jump right into another conversation if you feel your brand has something constructive and useful to share.
Twitter chats are a great opportunity for your brand to get together with members of your audience and/or industry (we recommend doing both), especially since the question-based format a takes the guesswork out of trying to come up with something to say.
Some things you can say include:
- Great points! What do you think about XYZ?
- That's an interesting perspective - how did you arrive at your conclusion?
Ask Thought-Provoking Questions
If one of your followers re-shares your article, don't just pat yourself on the back and consider it a job well done; you're not finished yet!
This is your chance to follow up with that community member and increase brand engagement by asking them questions about the piece. By showing an interest in our community, we can help them feel interested in us.
Some things you can ask include:
- What was your biggest takeaway from the article?
- What about XYZ in the article resonated most with you?
- What are your thoughts about the future of XYZ industry?
Share Timely News and Trends
Staying up-to-date with the latest trends in your industry means you'll be able to stay ahead of the curve. It also allows you to hone in on trending conversations as they're happening.
Commonly known as "newsjacking," this tactic allows us to have conversations with our audience about breaking news.
Guiding the conversation helps us understand what our followers' thoughts are on a particular topic while also increasing brand engagement at the same time.
Even better: sharing our thoughts with breaking news allows us to show that we're experts who are tuned-into the latest goings-on in our industry. This helps community members feel like they can trust us to know what we're doing.
Some ideas to get the gears turning in your head include:
- What are your thoughts on XYZ's latest announcement?
- How do you think the change to XYZ will impact the industry?
- Do you think XYZ news will impact how you feel about XYZ topic?
Keep the Conversation Going
There are lots of easy ways to start and continue, conversations with your followers. Some examples include:
- Posting polls and surveys (Instagram Stories is excellent for this!)
- Hosting your own Twitter chat (vs. joining existing ones)
- Host Q&A or AMA sessions to help your community get to know you
Remember: the key here isn't having the best questions or the wittiest answers; it's about showing your community that you're listening and that you care about what they have to say.
For more insights into building a community around your brand, subscribe to our weekly newsletter!
- by Alyson Shane
Email marketing is one of the most important aspects of a successful digital marketing strategy, offering as much as a $44 ROI on every $1 spent.
What makes email marketing so successful is that it allows you to connect with your audience where they live: in their inbox. We've written about how to improve your email marketing results before... but what about the tools you can use to get there?
Today we'll be reviewing some of the best email marketing tools on the market, and giving you an in-depth overview of the differences in pricing, features, and availability, and how deep into the customer journey they can take you.
Using the tool that's best suited to your business' goals is the best way to guarantee success with your email marketing campaigns, so let's eliminate the guesswork and dive right in:
Cost: $50 per month
HubSpot is one of the biggest names in digital marketing, and their email management service offers an easy to use drag and drop editor to design eye-catching emails, as well as the ability to review your analytics on a per-send basis.
Arguably the most powerful feature of HubSpot's EMS is how well it integrates with their free form tools (for easy lead gen) and their CRM system, which allows you to connect your email analytics to other parts of your sales cycle.
Price: Free up to 2,000 subscribers or up to 14,000 emails a month
Benchmark also offers drag-and-drop functionality, as well as a ton of templates to choose form if you're not comfortable enough designing your own.
Some of their best features include A/B split testing, detailed analytics on campaign-specific performance, spam testing, and lots more.
Price: Free 30 day trial, $15/month afterward
GetResponse offers features that become available as you need them, ranging from a small set of "starter features" to a full suite of enterprise-level features like landing pages and webinars.
Like other tools in this list, GetResponse also offers drag-and-drop layouts to design your own template, plus a ton of templates to choose from it's easy to A/B test, send to different audience segments, and more.
Price: Free up to 6,000 emails a month, starts at $25/mth for 40,000
Not tech-savvy? Then don't worry: SendInBlue has you covered. This tool offers an HTML editor, drag-and-drop functionality, and a massive template gallery to help you select a pre-built template that grabs readers' attention.
Even better: SendInBlue has the capabilities to build robust automation pipelines that send different emails based on specific actions taken by your contacts.
However, SendInBlue doesn't have a built-in CRM system so if you're a quickly-scaling team you may want to consider another tool.
Cost: Free up to 200 emails per day (6,000 emails per month), with prices starting at $8.69 a month for 30,000 emails.
MailJet is an email service that prides itself on being developer-friendly, with an impressive API (application programming interface) that allows developers to build their own email platform.
One of the unique customization features that MailJet offers is the ability to create dynamic content that is personalized for each recipient based on customer data, like their geographic location or their name.
If your team needs an email service that allows for multiple approvals and seamlessly allows teams to collaborate on the same draft, then MailJet is the tool for you.
Price: Free up to 12,000 email sends per month to a list size up to 2,000. Pricing starts at $10 per month for 500 subscribers.
MailChimp is a free email marketing service that's great for small to medium-sized businesses looking to start getting into email marketing, or who aren't focusing on a business model that includes a lot of opt-ins and landing pages.
However, as you scale it's likely that you'll start to use other email marketing tools instead, as you'll start butting up against the limits of its automation and segmentation features.
Price: Free trial for 60 days before paying, then prices start at $20 per month for a list size up to 500 contacts.
Constant Contact is great for businesses with larger teams, and has a multi-channel support system that can help onboard and resolve pretty much any problem with ease.
Constant Contact comes with tons of templates and a powerful email builder than allows you to create newsletters that reflect your brand and tell your story. Unfortunately, like MailChimp it lacks the automation features needed for businesses who are looking to rely on their email list as a growth tool.
Source: Constant Contact
How to Choose the Right Email Service
As you've probably figured out, not all email services are created equal. If you're wondering how to choose the right email service to suit your business' needs, consider these questions:
- Consider your strategy. Do you need to start implementing list segments that allow you to track subscriber growth based on specific lead gen tools... or do you just need to send an email once a month?
- Review your budget. Do you have the budget to pay for a service, or can you get by with a free one for now?
- Rank your needs. Compare the criteria below against the information listed above to figure out which service will give you the most bang for your buck:
Not sure where to get started with your email marketing strategy? Drop us a line - we'd love to talk strategy with you!
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