Tagged: Marketing Basics
- by Alyson Shane
One of the best ways to market your products or services is by using targeted landing pages.
Targeted landing pages are pages on your website that are customized to speak to specific buyer personas, which you drive traffic to through organic or paid advertising.
These pages offer specific information about how your products or services can solve reader's problems, creating a convincing argument to get them to convert.
Not sure how to use a targeted landing page to sell your products or services? Keep reading to find out!
How to Use Targeted Landing Pages to Sell Your Products or Services
Improve Your Conversion Rates
According to Insightera, account-based marketing converts 4x more traffic than generic marketing towards less targeted audiences.
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is the process of personalizing your marketing strategy to connect with specific people, or with a particular type of consumer (identified by creating buyer personas).
Let that sink in: you can earn four times as many conversions just by changing your marketing strategy.
If that's not a reason to rethink your current marketing strategy, we're not sure what is!
Reach Audiences on a Personal Level
Personalizing your landing pages allows you to create marketing copy that speaks to them and identifies their specific pain points.
Maybe you sell a service that can offer benefits to entrepreneurs as well as managers in middle-market companies, for example.
These two buyer personas: "Entrepreneur" and "Manager," have different pain points that need solving, which will cause them to be interested in different aspects of your product.
Creating separate landing pages for both buyer persona types will allow you to focus on converting each of them individually by speaking directly to how your product solves their problems.
Improve Your SEO
Creating targeted landing pages on your website is also offers a boost for your organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO) traffic.
By creating more opportunities to add in keywords and use them strategically on your website you can draw in potential customers and engage them for a significant amount of time.
The more engaged your visitors are, the more valuable your website looks to search engines like Google, which increases the likelihood that other potential customers will find you when they're looking for information.
How to Implement Targeted Landing Pages on Your Website
You didn't think we'd bring you all this way and leave you hanging, did you? Keep reading to learn how to build targeted landing pages that convince and convert:
1. Create a Well-Designed Page
Never underestimate the power of a well-designed webpage when it comes to increasing conversions.
A well-designed, targeted landing page should have the following qualities:
- Lots of white space
- Only one call to action
Taking the time to build landing pages that are easy to navigate and clearly convey what your product does, and why customers should buy it, makes the process of converting them that much easier.
2. Write Engaging Headline and Page Titles
Don't forget to use your headline and page titles to show your potential customers how your product or service will solve their problems.
The goal of your page should be apparent immediately in your page title, and repeated in your headline and any additional sub-headings.
After all: you want your page visitors to know exactly why they're on your website, and what they should do next (hint: it's buying your product!)
3. Focus on the Benefits
Make the benefit of your product immediately apparent in your landing page copy. Keep sentences short and snappy, and don't include unnecessary information if possible.
Make sure to customize your targeted landing page copy by using keywords relevant to different buyer persona types.
4. Highlight Your Call-to-Action
It's critical that there is only one call-to-action (CTA) per landing page.
Your CTA should relate to the pain points felt by that buyer persona, and tie into the information you've already outlined in your landing page copy.
Using a single CTA allows you to give your potential customer a single, ultra-customized recommendation, and the more seen, heard, and understood they feel, the likelier they are to convert.
5. Keep Important Information 'Above the Fold'
"Above the fold" refers to the portion of a website that's visible in a browser window when the page first loads.
The portion you have to scroll down to see is "below the fold," and it's essential to keep all information, including your CTA, "above the fold" on your targeted landing page.
Even better: include any need-to-know information in the first 50-100 words, so your potential customer understand the product, the benefits, and why they should buy right away.
Bonus: Use Targeted Testimonials
Include testimonials from customers or clients who match the buyer persona types you're targeting with each landing page.
For example, for a landing page targeted at entrepreneurs, include a testimonial from a startup or customer in a similar field stating specifically how your product solved their problem.
Including testimonials can result in a 58% increase in conversions, so if you haven't been asking your customers for testimonials to use on your targeted landing pages, now is the time to start.
Ready to Start Converting?
By creating targeted landing pages for each of your buyer persona types, you can create a personalized experience for your potential customers which feels natural and clearly speaks to their pain points.
By creating a seamless experience with your targeted landing page, you can make the process of deciding to take action that much easier for any potential customers.
Are you struggling with web copy that doesn't convert? Drop us a line.
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- by Alyson Shane
How well do you really know your customers?
Understanding who your customers are is critical to understanding how to sell your products to them. After all: if you don't understand your customers' motivations, backgrounds, goals, and challenges, you can't show them how your product or service solves their problems.
If you're not sure, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I know what my customers' challenges are?
- What are their interests and needs?
- How old are they?
- How many years of education do they have?
- Where do they consume news and media?
These are just some of the questions you should be able to answer when it comes to your customers, and well-developed buyer personas are your key to gaining that knowledge.
In this post we'll explore buyer personas in detail, including:
- What are buyer personas?
- How to create buyer personas.
- Examples of buyer personas.
- Plus a FREE buyer persona cheat sheet!
What Are Buyer Personas?
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real and researched data about your existing customers.
Buyer personas are a way of organizing and making sense of customer data and demographics, including motivations, behavior patterns, pain points, goals, and more. By grouping people into persona types its easier for businesses to understand who is buying from them, and for sales and marketing teams to develop campaigns and strategies that showcase how a business' product or service solves their problems.
However: buyer personas aren't just for sales and marketing. These should be documents that your business refers to regularly, and which are used when developing every part of your sales and marketing funnel strategy.
The number of buyer personas you'll wind up developing depends largely on your business, but generally we find that our clients tend to have at least 6-8 buyer personas each.
What Are "Negative Personas"?
If buyer personas are representations of our ideal customers, then negative personas are the opposite: they're the representations of the people we don't want as customers. After all, not every lead is going to be the right fit for your business.
Not sure why you wouldn't want to target someone? Here's a list of a few reasons:
- They don't have the budget.
- They're too advanced for what you're selling.
- They're likely to have a high churn rate (they'll stop subscribing quickly).
- The cost of acquisition (how much you spent to acquire the lead) was too high.
- They're only engaging with your content for research or knowledge.
To identify and understand these groups of people, you need to create negative or exclusionary personas.
While it may seem counterproductive to spend time getting to know the people you don't want to sell to, understanding the people you don't want to target can saver your sales and marketing teams time and money in the long run.
Bonus: Interview Your Negative Personas
If you're not sure how to build negative buyer personas, start by interviewing a sample of customers who closed but had a low average sale price, or customers who had low customer satisfaction scores, as a low score may mean they weren't the right fit for your business.
How Can You Use Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas allow you to personalize and target your marketing copy based on different segments within your audience.
For example, instead of sending the same lead nurturing email to everyone in your database, you can segment your list based on buyer personas and tailor your messaging based on what you know about their different goals, motivations, and problems.
If you've taken the time to create negative personas, you'll have the advantage of being able to segment out the people you don't want to target (like friends who sign up for your newsletter, for example) which can help you earn a lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer in your sales.
Other ways you can use buyer personas in your marketing copy include:
- Blog content speaking to pain points felt by different buyer persona types.
- Gated Content targeted at specific buyer persona types.
- Targeted landing pages for different customer types.
- ...and more!
How Do You Create Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are created by doing research, interviews, and surveys of your target audience, including your customers and prospects.
Below are a few ways to gather the information you'll need to develop your buyer personas:
Conduct interviews with customers and potential customers to determine what they like about your product or service.
Ask questions about their job role, title, what a typical "day in the life" looks like (both in and outside of work), the tools they use to do their job, what their challenges are, how they acquire new information and news, etc.
Optimize Your Forms
When creating forms to use on your website, use form field to capture the important buyer persona details you need.
For example, if your buyer personas vary based on company size, include a question in a form asking prospects how many people work at their company.
Ask Your Sales Team
One of the easiest ways to build buyer personas is to talk to your sales reps and ask them about the demographics of the people they interact with day-to-day.
If you don't have a dedicated sales team, take a look at the customers or clients your business has acquired to date and see what kinds of generalizations and conclusions you can make about them.
Ask yourself: who are the people buying your products and services? How long is your sales cycle? What are some of the objections they may have before buying?
All these questions, and more, can go a long way to developing useful buyer personas.
Bonus: Start With One and Build Out
It's normal for businesses to have multiple buyer persona types, and to have several for customers in the same industry or similar purchasing positions.
Once you start to analyze the data based on your successful customers, you'll start to see where one persona ends and where another begins. This is normal: as you iterate on your personas it's normal (good, even) for more persona types to emerge.
But be careful: if you don't have enough information to completely fill a buyer persona, remove it. In fact, don't be afraid to add and remove buyer personas over time as you learn more about your target customers.
Are you ready to start creating buyer personas for your business? Click here to download your FREE buyer persona cheat sheet to get started.
Buyer Persona Examples
Use these templates below to make the process of building your buyer personas as simple and streamlined as possible:
Let's start out by looking at a quick example of a buyer persona:
Debbie Blank is a manager in a large insurance firm, and is looking for products and services that can help her with her recruiting, onboarding, and being an effective manager. As someone interested in change management training, she's a forward-thinking manager in her industry. As the Director of HR she likely has at least some degree of purchasing power within the organization.
Do you see how much information we can pull from this super-simple buyer persona?
That's the power of buyer personas: the more time we spend developing them, and the more granular we get with our data, the more vividly we can paint a portrait of our ideal customers.
The first section of your buyer persona should be dedicated to your persona's demographics, background, and key identifiers like communication preferences, education, and responsibilities.
Some examples include:
- Company size
- Job title
- Income (personal)
We want to use our buyer personas understand the situations that make customers want to buy our products or services.
This means you'll want to know the following about each buyer persona type:
- Recent changes
- Pain points
Habits refers to the information we can learn about our buyer persona types that relates to their personal habits and behaviors. Understanding who our buyers are as people (not just as consumers) helps us understand their buying patterns and how far along they may be in our sales funnel.
Some of the things we'll want to know include:
- Media consumption
- Likes / dislikes
- Research methods
- Trusted sources
Most purchases don't happen in a vacuum. In fact, within a business most purchasing decisions are only made after a the product or service has been pitched and reviewed, a budget is approved, and key stakeholders or decision makers have been involved and granted approval.
Understanding these areas of your buyer persona's life will help you identify potential objections to the sale, which you can address in your sales and marketing copy.
Some things to include are:
- Who they report to
- Buying power
- Key stakeholders
Build Your Buyer Personas Today
Investing the time to create complete, detailed buyer personas isn't just about marketing to them; it's also about developing a deep understanding of your ideal customer, and how you can keep building a business that continues to solve their problems.
Get started by downloading our free buyer persona cheat sheet now.
Are you struggling to build a digital marketing plan that gets results? Drop us a line.
- by Alyson Shane
Do you know how to have authentic conversations on Twitter?
If you're like most people, then the answer is "no." In fact, of all the social media platforms that our clients are the most familiar with, Twitter tends to come in dead last.
For most of our clients, Twitter feels intimidating and confusing, and not just because of the 280 character limit: the speedy nature of conversations and news, the ever-changing hashtags, and the nearly-overwhelming flow of information that makes Twitter so valuable as a social network can also make it... well, overwhelming.
However, here at Starling Social, we love Twitter because it allows us to connect with our client's audience and customers quickly and without a lot of the barriers that are present on other popular networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.
How to Have Authentic Conversations on Twitter
We like to think of Twitter as a big party: there are lots of people (users) hanging out and talking about different topics (hashtags). All guests (businesses) need to do is find the conversations relevant to their customers' needs and start talking.
Notice we say talking, not selling.
Twitter is a conversation platform above all else, which means users are there expecting to have conversations, not be on the receiving end of a sales pitch. This not only leaves a sour taste in a user's mouth, but since Twitter profiles are public by default, it means that other potential customers will see it, too.
With that in mind, today we're sharing some of our favorite ways to have real conversations on Twitter:
If you regularly go to events like conferences, workshops, and lunch & learns, you can easily create content before, during, and after each event.
Before the event, make a list of the speakers, sessions, etc. you're most excited for and tweet about the programming and activities you're looking forward to. During the event, "live tweet" summaries of highlights from the day, live videos, images, and quotes and soundbites from speakers.
Using the event hashtag in your tweets will show your Twitter content to other people who are either at the same conference or who are following along using the event hashtag from home or work.
This is a super-powerful tactic to extend your reach because it showcases your tweets to people who are actively interested in the content you're sharing.
Another tactic is to use Twitter Lists to keep track of who you've met. We recommend organizing your lists by a person's industry and their role, rather than where you met them.
You can also use Twitter to nurture relationships that start in person. When you meet a colleague or a potential prospect, connect with them on Twitter and engage with their tweets over the next few weeks.
Of course, a real relationship must be an authentic one, which means it's not enough to simply ReTweet and 'Like' a few of their tweets. You need to react to their content in a way that shows you're paying attention to who they are, not just what you want from them. This is a common mistake that a lot of marketers make, and it harms relationships as a result.
Twitter is most people's go-to for breaking news, and businesses can use Twitter to discuss breaking news in their industry.
We recommend by starting a Twitter List of reputable news sources from your industry and following their Tweets each day. Use their Twitter feeds to get a daily overview of the hottest news in your industry, and ReTweet or share your tweets with your company's reaction to the breaking news.
When you share breaking news, timing is critical. Make sure to share the news as soon as you learn about it; otherwise 2,000 other people in your industry may be talking about it by the time you get to it, and you lose the advantage of being first.
A 2018 HubSpot survey found that 54% of consumers wanted to see more video content from a brand or business they support, so we suggest shooting a quick video featuring yourself or one of your team members talking about the update and sharing your company's reflections.
If you have a copywriter, publishing reactions to newsworthy topics on your company's blog is a great way to generate Twitter content drive targeted traffic back to your website on an ongoing basis.
Twitter is the go-to platform for customers who want to connect with a company about a problem. This also means that for your customer service to work, you need to be as responsive as possible.
We like to handle customer service inquiries by applying the HEAT model of customer service:
H - Hear: We reply by reiterating the issue the customer says they're struggling with.
E - Empathize: We respond in a kind tone that shows we care.
A - Apologize: We apologize that they're experiencing the issue.
T - Take Action: We direct the conversation to Direct Messages. We do this for two reasons:
- Direct Messaging means our customer service issue isn't being discussed on our public Twitter timeline.
- Direct Messages have no character limit. This means customers can go into as much detail as they need. We then take this information and pass it along to our client so that they can take action.
If you run a B2C (business to consumer) company, we suggest using a plugin like Buffer's SocialChat, which allows customers to click a button to send you a private message via Facebook or Twitter.
Build Customer Culture
Understanding a customer's needs is more than about knowing how to get them to buy from you. Developing an authentic relationship means we need to understand what they care about, the kinds of content they relate to, and what makes them laugh.
Being armed with this knowledge means we can get creative with our content and use things like gifs, photos, and videos to create conversations with our Twitter followers and stand out from the crowd.
Again: Twitter is a conversation platform, which means that any content we create should be focused on starting a conversation.
If you're using videos, remember that Twitter videos start playing automatically and users are likely to have the sound turned off, so we recommend using tools like Twitter Media Studio or Videolocious to add captions, video titles, descriptions, and calls-to-action to get people to click on the link.
Increasing Engagement Using Twitter
As we've seen, Twitter offers businesses a variety of ways to have authentic conversations with their customers and target audience.
By being proactive with how you use Twitter, and taking the time to create content that interests your followers and creates conversations, you can build a thriving community around your business.
Are you struggling to build your Twitter following? Drop us a line.
Have some feedback on this post? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.
Have a Twitter engagement tip you want to share? Tweet us your favorite.
Want to follow our Company Page? Follow us on LinkedIn.
Want some daily eye candy? Let's connect on Instagram.
Looking to stay up-to-date with our posts? Subscribe to our newsletter.
- by Alyson Shane
Looking for answers to your hottest local SEO questions? We've got 'em!
SEO is a "hot button" topic these days, and as businesses look for ways to expand their organic (non-paid) reach in order to help potential customers find them, many are waking up to the fact that spending a little time optimizing their website and Google My Business pages will help their business rank higher on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP.)
With that in mind, today we're going to answer some of the most common questions we hear from our clients when it comes to optimizing for local SEO. Let's dive right in:
"How has local SEO changed recently?"
Google makes so many updates to their search algorithms and associated business services that it can feel confusing to keep track of it all, so here are some of the most important changes that have taken place over the past few years:
- Google has anchored Local Packs (the top three results you see after performing a search) to pretty much every SERP that it considers to be locally-focused. This is a big boon for businesses who have registered an account with Google My Business, Google Maps, etc.
- Google My Business has also rolled out several features to help differentiate your business from your competitors, including: Posts, Product Posts, Q&A, Messages, Video, and more. By completing and updating as many of these features as possible, you can really hone your content offerings to target local search.
- There have been a lot of rumblings recently about the explosion of voice and mobile search, but to date these trends haven't appeared to affect local SEO beyond ensuring that your data is clean and consistent across the web. This will be beneficial when the Internet of Things (IoT) becomes even more commonplace than it already is because it will allow businesses to easily integrate into these systems.
- Reviews and link building continues to be critical for local SEO success.
"How do I beat out competitors like Yelp when I have a small budget?"
The good news for small and medium businesses (SMBs) is that Google has an incentive to show more truly local businesses in each Local SERP, which means there's less opportunity for big companies like Yelp to dominate over the competition, even if you have a modest budget.
As long as you have your basic website, Google My Business Page, and your local citations set up and up-to-date, earning a high ranking on an SERP becomes a game of links, reviews, and content.
In particular, SMBs need to focus on gaining positive customer reviews on Google, Yelp, and any other site that's relevant to your target market or industry. Another way to attract new customers is to make use of the Posts feature in Google My Business, which is a great (free!) way to attract new customers who may already be familiar with your brand.
"How much does social media impact my local SEO efforts?"
Social media doesn't appear to play a huge role outside of reviews. Instead, focus your "social SEO" efforts into being active on social platforms where you know your customers spend their time. For example, if your business markets products at women who are 45+, then your business should have an active Facebook Business Page, at the very least.
"How do I differentiate myself from other local businesses in my industry?"
The best way to truly differentiate yourself from local competitors is to build a brand with a voice and tone that sounds unique online, and which helps potential customers see you as "different" than other, similar businesses.
This typically comes down to how well you convey your values, and how well you can explain how your product or services will solve your customers' problems.
Of course, many businesses who are just starting out and don't have a lot of word-of-mouth activity can still earn high local SEO rankings by setting up their website and GMB pages and focusing on getting links and reviews.
"What are the 'must-haves' for succeeding in local SEO?"
Businesses that kill it at the local SEO game all share the same qualities:
- Their a website is easy for Google to recognize, understand, and navigate.
- Their Google My Business pages are optimized them using Posts, Q&As, etc.
- All their local citations are in place in GMB.
- They have a content strategy to target high-converting search queries.
- They consistently generate customer reviews.
- They build and get links.
Remember: winning at local SEO isn't a one-time play; it takes ongoing effort to make sure that your website continues to rank highly in local SERP results!
Optimize Your Local SEO Today
Getting your business listed in Google's SERP Local Pack won't happen overnight, but by taking the proper steps to optimize your website, Google My Business profile, and focusing on getting a steady stream of reviews from places like Google, Yelp, and other niche-specific review sites, you can start to work your way into that exclusive club of anchored Local Packs.
Are you trying to rank for local results in your city? Drop us a line.
Have a comment or question on what we just covered? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.
Have a hot local SEO tip to share? Tweet us your favorite.
Looking for a more B2B connection? Follow us on LinkedIn.
Want some eye candy? Let's connect on Instagram.
Want to stay in touch? Subscribe to our newsletter.
- by Alyson Shane
Every business owner knows that the best thing your customers can do for you (in addition to buying your products and services, of course) is to refer people they know to your company.
After all, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people they know, and people are 4 times more likely to buy when referred by a friend. (Source: Annex Cloud)
To this end, business owners will often spend significant amounts of their marketing budget to reach new customers and encourage organic word of mouth... but when was the last time you thought about how your existing customers can actually help you grow your customer base?
Peer-to-peer (P2P) marketing, which is when an existing customer becomes a "brand advocate" and promotes a specific product or service to their friends and colleagues, has become an important aspect of any business' marketing plan in both the B2B and B2C spaces.
Successful P2P marketing draws from your existing network of happy customers and taps them to help your business grow through referrals, social selling, and thought leadership.
Have you considered including your customers in your content marketing strategy? If not, you should, as 91% of B2B purchasers have reported that past buying decisions have been influenced by referrals from industry peers.
Not sure where to start? Below are four easy ways you can include your customers in your content marketing strategy:
1. Customer Case Studies
Case studies are one of the easiest ways to showcase the value of your products and services to prospective customers by creating a story that others in similar situations can relate to. By demonstrating a clear narrative of Problem, Solution, Result, you can show customers across a variety of industries that choosing your business will yield similar positive results.
What should a strong case study include? Make sure to write with these elements in mind:
- The challenge. The most important part of a strong case study is a challenge that your reader can relate to. For example, showcase how your business helped a nonprofit convert 3x more donors in the last quarter, or how your insurance clients generated 50% leads in the last year as a result of your services. If your company services a variety of different industries try to craft a few different case studies that tell relatable, industry-specific stories.
- The approach. Use this section to describe how your product or service resolved the issue and build credibility with your reader. This section should use specific examples like highlighting the steps your team used to achieve a specific outcome, or how choosing your service led to increased productivity and customer satisfaction. If possible, use visual examples like charts and data to illustrate the positive net benefit.
- The Result. This section should be focused on your approach solved the customer's needs and should highlight the tangible impact of your services. Use cost savings, leads generated, and other key performance indicators relevant to the target industry to secure buy-in from your reader.
2. Start a Guest Blogging Program
Does your business have a blog? If not, back up and check out this post on how to get your business' blog going, then start including your customers in it in order to share new perspectives, ideas, and grow a community around your products or services.
Identify some of your company's top customers or biggest brand advocates and ask them to write a blog post about a particular pain point they have, and how your business has helped them solve it. This is also a great opportunity for cross-promotion, so make sure to ask contributors to share the post on their own social media profiles, and their blog if they have one.
This is a unique opportunity for your customers to tell their story and enhance their own brand by positioning themselves as thought leaders while also showcasing the value of your services, so what are you waiting for? Reach out to 2-3 of your most loyal customers and see if they're interested; we guarantee they'll say yes.
3. Showcase Customers During Webinars
If your company services a variety of industries, or if you have a fully built-out product suite, customer-centric webinars are a great way for your customer to share information and challenges relevant to their industry, and to share how they've found success using your products or platform.
One of the benefits of using a webinar over a case study or a blog post to showcase your customers is that a webinar allows them to go more in-depth in their industry, show live visuals, and chat with attendees through live chat. By giving your customers a real voice as part of your content marketing strategy you can put real, human faces to your brand and build trust and connections with your customers.
4. Start Live Streaming
Have you noticed an uptick in the amount of live streaming happening on social media lately? If so, you're not alone: this emerging market is expected to be worth over $70 billion by 2021.
Need another reason to consider live streaming? How about this: 80% of customers would rather watch a live video than read a post from a business. Why? Because live streaming created a sense of urgency - people need to tune in right now - and it offers an"behind the scenes" look which builds authenticity, trust, and transparency.
Not sure how to work live streaming into your content marketing strategy in a way that features your customers? Try these ideas:
- Live events like lunch 'n learns, breakfasts, and panel discussions.
- Announcements and updates.
- Interviews and Q&As, at conferences or on-site.
Featuring your customers is an easy way to cross-promote your live streaming content. Just make sure to promote the live stream in advance so your audience has enough notice that they can tune in and participate.
Start Including Your Customers in Your Content Marketing
We've listed just a few of the ways you can start including your customers in your content marketing strategy, but there are lots of other ways you can get creative and leverage technology like live streaming and video to enhance your customer experience and showcase the value of your products and services.
Not sure how to write a case study or create a content marketing plan that highlights you customer success stories? Drop us a line.
Have a customer success story you want to share? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page.
Know a brand that's rocking the webinar game? Tweet us your favorite.
Looking for a more B2B connection? Follow us on LinkedIn.
Love eye-catching visuals? Let's connect on Instagram.
Want to stay in touch? Subscribe to our newsletter.
- by Alyson Shane
We're halfway through summer, and many of us are booking weekends (or weeks, if you're lucky) off to catch some much-needed rest and relaxation. If you're in Canada, like we are, then it's likely that you're enjoying your time off at a cottage or cabin, hopefully near a big body of water that's perfect for swimming, hiking, boating, fishing, and catching up on some sleep.
While getting a sunburn and over-indulging on BBQed meat is a staple of the cottage experience, we love using our "unplugged" time away from wifi and screens to catch up on a few good reads to get us back in the "marketing mindset" when we're back at our desks.
Looking for a few good reads to sink your teeth into and get that creativity flowing? Check out these must-read marketing books that pair perfectly with a sunny dock and a cold beer:
1. Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Creating Ridiculously Good Content
Good content drives good marketing, and to create really good content you need the copywriting skills necessary to convey your ideas in a compelling and interesting way. In Everybody Writes, marketing dynamo Ann Handley offers thoughtful advice and guidance for writers of all skill levels on how to level-up their writing chops and deliver copy that gets attention and delivers results.
Whether you're new to the concept of content marketing or are a seasoned content marketing looking to sharpen their teeth on some innovative ideas, this book is a must-read for any writers and content marketers out there.
2. UnBranding: 100 Branding Lessons for the Age of Disruption
Scott Stratten has been dissecting how we communicate for years. In addition to his hilarious and long-running podcast, he's also a branding expert with a key eye for detecting B.S. in the marketing industry.
Unbranding is a collection of stories that showcase how branding is just as important as ever, and provides clear and actionable advice to apply lessons learned from the examples in our changing digital marketing landscape. From dealing with criticism on social media, to building and maintaining trust, to cutting through the "noise" online: it's all in this swift little read.
3. PRE-SUASION: A Revolutionary Way to Influence and Persuade
If you studied marketing in university then it's likely that you've already encountered Robert Caldini's seminal work: Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, which was released in 1984.
Pre-Suasion acts as a follow-up to this book and goes much deeper into the subtitles of areas like: place, identity, shared action, attention and importance, the subtleties of persuasion, and much more. This info-packed read will not only help you persuade your colleagues and the executives you work for you support your marketing initiatives, but will also help you persuade customers to take the action you want.
4. Exactly What to Say: The Magic Words for Influence and Impact
Someone's decision to work with you often comes down to what you say and how you say it, and that's true in sales, marketing, and life in general. This fantastic read by Phil M. Jones, one of the world's most respected sales trainers, digs deep into the power of the words we say, and offers a fascinating look on the art of responsive, thoughtful, and engaging conversation to achieve the results you want.
Sure, a book like this can help your sales team close more deals, but it can help you state your case more persuasively, present your ideas with more confidence, and become a more powerful speaker both in and outside the boardroom.
5. Marketing: A Love Story, How to Matter to Your Customers
This book is all about how to matter to your customers, and how to build the emotional connection necessary so you continue to matter to them for years to come.
What we love about this book is its unusual structure: it's adapted from a series of blog posts written by the author, but at 81 pages that doesn't really matter because every page is packed with thought-provoking points that apply to marketers and entrepreneurs working in both the B2B and B2C spaces.
If your business has struggled to inject emotion into your sales and marketing copy, then this read will give you insight, inspiration, and steps to think about how to sell your story, not your product.
What are your favorite marketing books? Tell us by leaving us a comment on FB!
Got any good marketing books or podcasts to recommend? Tweet us your answer!
Looking for a more B2B connection with us? Follow us on LinkedIn!
Love eye-catching visuals and snappy captions? Let's connect on Instagram!
Oh, and if you're looking for help developing a killer digital marketing strategy to propel your business to success in Q4, drop us a line.
- by Alyson Shane
It's hard to stand out online these days.
Between social media, digital ads, email marketing, and every other kind of advertisement out there, users see an estimated 11,250 ads each month each month. That's a lot to take in, and it's a lot to try to stand out from.
But it's not enough for your business' content to stand out; you also have to get your customers to engage with it, and take action. But how can you do this?
We're going to tell you:
How Emojis Can Solve Your Low Click-Through Rates
The most effective way to tell if your campaign is going well is to calculate your click-through rate (CTRs.) Your click-through rate is “the percentage of people who view your ad (impressions) and then actually go on to click the ad (clicks.)”
Low CTRs are usually an indicator that your campaign messaging isn't resonating with your audience. Sometimes it's the messaging; other times it's the visual elements. Occasionally, low CTRs are due to poor audience targeting.
Most often low CTRs are because your content sounds stuffy and wooden.
Modern consumers expect their brands to talk and sound like them, with 45% reporting that they like "brands that don't take themselves too seriously." These results, along with the growing consumer class made up of Millennials, may explain why big food brands like Wendy's have started roasting their competitors on Twitter:
Now, we understand that most businesses out there aren't about to start sassing people online, but an easy way to copy the "humanness" of a Wendy's tweet is to start using emojis.
According to one study, 68% of millennials said they are more comfortable expressing emotions using emojis, and by literally speaking their language your business immediately becomes more relatable and will stand out from the other brands competing for their attention.
But how can you choose the right emojis to increase CTRs without committing emoji abuse and sounding inauthentic as a result?
Be smart with the emojis you use.
A recent study found that this list of emojis earned the highest click-through rates:
What do you notice about this list? If you noticed that none of them are faces, then you're correct! In fact, the data shows that using uncommon emojis increases click-through rates by attracting extra attention to your link because people don't see them very often.
Increase CTRs by Adding Emojis to Email Subject Lines and Body Text
That's a lot of email to compete with.
Even worse, one study found that even though people are opening your emails, 52% of them are unlikely to bother taking an additional step to click-through to your website.
Luckily, research shows that emojis not only increase email open rates, but emojis increase click-through rates as well. The study compared campaigns for Valentine's Day and Father's Day that A/B tested two email subject line formats: one with emojis, and one without, and the results were startling:
The Valentine's Day email that included a "lips" emoji in the subject line drove a read rate of 24% and an inbox placement rate of 89%, compared to a read rate of just 20% and an inbox placement of 83% for text-only subject lines.
The Father's Day campaign that used a "wrench" emoji in the subject line earned a read rate of 22% and an inbox placement of 96%, compared to a read rate of 21% and an inbox placement rate of 88%.
These are huge differences that you can replicate right now just by using emojis in your email marketing campaigns. In fact, there are lots of ways to get creative with emojis!
Use Emojis Make Your Emails Stand Out
Emojis help your emails stand out in a reader's inbox. Think about most of the emails you get: how many of them are text-only subject lines?
It's pretty uncommon to see emojis in subject lines these days, which makes using them a power move in terms of grabbing your readers attention.
One of the companies rocking the emoji game is CoSchedule. Check out how they use emojis to enhance their message in their email subject lines:
See how they embed emojis in their titles to enhance their messaging? They catch your eye and make them seem fun without losing their informational value.
Use Emojis in Social Media Ad Copy and Headers
We've already talked about the fierce competition your business faces against the 11,000+ ads audiences see every single day, so businesses need to get creative and think outside of the box in order to create ads that grab attention and drive action.
Luckily, results have shown that using emojis in your social media ads can dramatically increase the number of CTRs your ad generates.
One company called Scoro A/B tested two ads: one with an emoji in the subject line, and another without. Check them out:
The headline with emoji resulted in 241% higher click-through rate. Wow!
Ask yourself: what are some upcoming social media campaigns your business is planning that could use an 'emoji injection' in the ad copy? Get creative and start experimenting!
Use Emojis on Social Media
Adding emojis to your social media content is an easy way to sound relatable and authentic. Check out how thredUP uses emojis to easily respond to a tweet:
We also love how Cath Kidson uses "checkmark" emojis in their tweets to break up the text and create the feeling of a checklist in their tweet:
Use Emojis in Meta Titles
That's right: emojis now show up on search engine result pages.
Emojis now appear content that's "relevant, useful, and fun." Obviously emojis will stand out in on a results page made up entirely of text, the using emojis in meta titles has an even more important function:
Did you notice that an emoji search for a dragon also returned results without the emoji in the page title? This matters, because Google is showing a variety of results relevant to the specific emoji.
This means that by including emojis in your meta titles you can show up in search results for emoji searches as well as text based-searches. Not sure which emojis to use, and which to avoid? Check out this list of the most-used emojis.
Use Emojis in Your Push Notifications, Messaging, and ChatBots
Does your business have a mobile app, or use chatbots on your website?
If you answered "yes" to either of those questions, then it's time to start integrating emojis into your copy asap. Check out how Air Tailor uses emojis in the welcome message on their website:
According to this case study, Air Tailor has used emojis in their messaging to grow by 100% every year.
This should come as no surprise as research found that push notifications with emojis drive higher engagement rates than those without. This is because emojis sound human, and make the content you're sharing (and the action you want your customer to take) more fun than just text-only notifications.
Improve Your CTRs with Emojis
Using emojis gives your business a competitive advantage by drawing attention to your content and helping your brand sound more "human" and authentic.
Just like with all your business' content: strategic and thoughtful in what you say, and use emojis to showcase your business' casual and playful side to increase your click-through rates.
How do you love using emojis in your content? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page!
What's your favorite brand using emojis on Twitter? Tweet us your answer!
Looking for a more B2B connection? Follow us on LinkedIn!
Love visual eye candy? Let's connect on Instagram!
Oh, and if you want some help using emojis and a killer content marketing strategy to connect with your audience and grow your business, drop us a line.
- by Alyson Shane
Have you ever laid in bed and thought about a specific scenario, something that you said or did in a public setting or at an event, that still makes you cringe? If yes, you're not alone!
Social faux pas happen all the time; whether it's an offhand remark that gets taken the wrong way; a joke that doesn't land; or any other behavior that negatively impacts your ability to make a good impression on those around you, people commit faux pas from time to time.
And just like committing a social faux pas at a party or in real life can make other people feel less inclined to talk to you, committing a social media faux pas can cause people to lose interest in what you have to say.
Are you committing any of these social media faux pas with your social media strategy that are preventing you from truly connecting with your audience? Keep reading to find out:
Faux Pas #1: Spreading Yourself Too Thin
Many business owners feel compelled to try and maintain an active presence on as many social media networks as possible in order to try to reach as many people as possible.
So let's put this social media myth to bed once and for all:
Your business doesn't have to be on every social platform. Full stop.
Taking the time to understand your business' social media needs and developing a content marketing strategy specific to each platform means you'll be engaging in meaningful conversations on the social networks that matter to your audience.
Applying a "shotgun approach" to your social media, on the other hand, often means you're spreading your resources too thin, and usually means you're spending time on social networks that won't help you connect with potential customers or generate leads.
Faux Pas #2: Ignoring Context Online
We love our social media scheduling tools, but using a scheduling service without thinking critically about the kind of content you're scheduling (and when) can have dire consequences.
For example, if your company's Twitter feed is exploding with a tragic event or breaking news then it may be prudent to put the promo on "pause" for a little while and take the time to tweet some words of encouragement, condolences, or feedback (where applicable.)
Not only can ignoring context make your business look cold and uncaring... it may make you look like you're asleep behind the digital wheel.
Faux Pas #3: You Don't Listen to Your Followers
Another issue with relying solely on scheduling tools is that they only work one-way, meaning that you can't just "set and forget" your social media content and expect it to drive audience growth and lead generation.
People want to feel like they're being listened to, and that means starting and participating in conversations on your target social networks.
When was the last time your business started a real conversation on social media?
If you don't know, then it's time to hop back in and get chatting, because by ignoring your audience you're missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with them, build trust and familiarity, and generate new leads and customers for your business.
Faux Pas #4: All Talk, No Strategy
The biggest faux pas we want to cover today is posting and engaging without knowing how or why you're doing it.
This is where your voice and tone document comes in, as well as a comprehensive marketing strategy that outlines who you're talking to, why, and the topics you want to talk about in order to have authentic interactions with your audience.
After all, while we love memes as much as the next marketer, if you're not taking the time to act with intention then your voice will get lost in the social media noise, and your efforts won't yield the results you're looking for.
However, make sure not to sound too wooden. Nobody wants to interact with a business (or anyone!) who sound like they take themselves too seriously and act stiffly and without humour. So make sure to toss the occasional joke, meme, or authentic reaction to current events into the mix - your audience will appreciate it.
Do you have a question for us about social media and how to create a killer content marketing plan? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page!
Found a hilarious meme you think we should see? Tweet it at us!
Want to subscribe to our updates? Follow us on LinkedIn!
Love visual eye candy? Let's connect on Instagram!
Oh, and if you want some help with developing a digital marketing strategy that grows your business, generates new leads, and endears your customers to you? Drop us a line.
- by Alyson Shane
Websites exist for the same reason: to get the visitor to take action.
Whether that's reading a blog post, subscribing to your newsletter, buying your product, or learning more about what you do, there shouldn't be a single page on your website that isn't there to generate an action from the person viewing it.
But if your page copy isn't set up to convey information in a way that offers value and inspires the action you want someone to take, you're leaving customers at your digital doorstep.
As content experts, we spend a lot of time working with our clients to hone their copy and keep their pages converting and consistent. With that in mind, today we're going to review some of the most common reasons we find our client's content wasn't converting, and unpack how we approach solving their issues:
You Use Empty Words
One of the most common issues we see when developing a voice and tone guide with many clients with many of our B2B clients is a tendency towards verbosity in their copy.
Often we'll run into sentences that sound like this:
"Our team of exceptionally qualified experts with decades of experience in their respective fields who are fiercely committed to delivering exceptional results that exceed expectation and reimagine the potentiality of our client's portfolios."
... So, how did reading that make you feel? Cross-eyed? Us, too.
Often, we find that in an attempt to sound professional, people will stuff unnecessary words into a sentence that detract from the point they're trying to make.
The Solution: Write Like Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway was famous for his short and quippy prose. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Hemingway's sentences were concise and to the point, and conveyed the maximum amount of information in the fewest amount of words.
When we write for our clients, we edit our work and ask "would Hemingway leave this sentence? Or can we be more concise here?" Try it for yourself and see what the results are!
Bonus: there's even a Hemingway Editor tool that's super handy.
You Lose Focus in Your Copy
If Hemingway was able to hammer home a powerhouse story in just a few hundred pages, your web page copy can be snappy and concise while still conveying your brand voice and communicating value.
But why does this happen in the first place? In a lot of cases it's because the writer is trying to up-sell the reader on something.
Think about it this way: if you have two related products - say, a bicycle and a helmet - it may be tempting to try and sell both on the same page.
People think: "if they don't buy the bike, they'll buy the helmet!" but this tactic often backfires because you're splitting your reader's attention.
But by splitting your audience's attention you reduce the likelihood they'll buy either item. The more things you stuff onto a page, the more divided your reader's attention (and incentive to purchase) is separated and diminished.
The Solution: Focus on the Subject Matter
The key to writing concise copy is to stay laser-focused on the subject matter on the page.
For service pages, write one page per service.
For item pages, write one page per item.
For blogs, write about one idea or topic.
This will keep your audience's attention focused, and will keep your brand's voice and tone from sounding inconsistent and confused.
Oh, and by all means use embedded links to link to related topics when necessary, but be careful to focus on one topic per page.
Reading it Feels Like Work
Have you ever seen an attention-grabbing headline, clicked over to the website, and then clicked away immediately because you didn't feel like putting the work into reading the whole thing? Yeah, us too.
Typically "hard work" pages happen because they've been stuffed with empty words and sentences, like the example we showed earlier.
These pages are dangerous because they increase your bounce rate (people who leave your website after only looking at one page), make your page look less appealing to read.
Worst of all: these pages fail to communicate value because there's so much fluff in the copy that the real points - the ones that are valuable to your audience - are lost in there somewhere.
The Solution: Optimize for Mobile
Gone are the days when crowds used to gather to hear Abraham Lincoln read a four-hour rebuttal to an opponent's platform; our modern society likes when people are to the point and communicate clearly.
This has mainly been driven by the explosion of mobile phones and smaller screens. Lots of text is hard to read on a smaller screen, and how we write our copy has to change to adapt to these trends.
By always writing your copy with mobile in mind, we apply these principles:
- Avoid large paragraphs and try to keep sentences short.
- Use shorter words to communicate your message.
- Cut out empty words.
Your Copy Sounds Wooden
We've noticed this tendency in the B2B space much more than the B2C space, probably because of that perception of fanciness we discussed earlier. Unfortunately, the most significant consequence of this style of writing is that not only does it tend to get filled with empty words, it often sounds wooden and unapproachable.
Two words a business owner should never want to hear are "wooden and unapproachable."
Why? Because people buy from brands and people they like and trust. Let's think about it this way:
You're a farmer at a networking event, and you meet two business owners, Robert and Stephen. Robert is wearing a three-piece suit and is standing with his arms crossed and talking but not smiling; Stephen is wearing a suit jacket, slacks, and is telling an entertaining story and moving his hands around.
Who are you more likely to buy from? Robert or Stephen?
If you're like most people, you'll choose Stephen. Why? Because he seemed more approachable and friendly, not wooden and reserved like Robert, and these subtle differences in how we communicate impact how people feel about us.
People (and brands) who seem approachable and friendly make their audience feel comfortable enough to want to buy from them.
The Solution: Keep Your Copy Approachable
Consider how your phrasing makes your page sound.
Read the copy on your web pages out loud to yourself.
Who does it sound more like: Robert, or Stephen?
Copy that sounds like Stephen should sound clear, friendly, and approachable.
Focusing on sounding positive and avoiding complicated language shows your reader that their experience of reading your website is what matters most, and doesn't make them feel uncomfortable, or like reading it is a chore.
By avoiding empty words and sentences, staying on-topic, and by working to be approachable and clear, you can write web page copy that keeps your reader on the page, drives the action you want them to take, and conveys the value of your services to your audience.
Need some help figuring out how to do it? Get in touch and let us know how we can make your brand sing with a content strategy based on data, analytics, and a deep understanding of how to write content that gets results. Get tips right to your inbox, and give us a follow on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
- by Alyson Shane
The Art of War, written by Chinese general Sun Tzu in the second century B.C., is considered to be one of the most influential military books in history. Not only was Sun Tzu's prudent and thoughtful analysis of military strategy relevant in his time, but in the centuries that have passed Sun Tzu's influence can be felt in a variety of areas across the globe.
From military policy, to law, to business, thinkers have been heeding his advice and applying takeaways from his lessons to think more critically about overcoming personal and professional challenges.
Below, we want to share our six favorite takeaways from this monumentally important read, and translate Sun Tzu's advice into lessons that marketers like us can apply to modern-day marketing problems:
1. “There are not more than five primary colors (blue, yellow, red, white and black), yet in combination, they produce more hues than can ever be seen.”
Get creative with your marketing approach and don't be afraid to try new things in order to discover new solutions to existing problems.
By blending primary colors we can create a rainbow, and by getting creative with our marketing we can overcome the limitations of budget, knowledge, or even time.
2. “The general who advances without coveting fame and retreats without fearing disgrace, whose only thought is to protect his country and do good service for his sovereign, is the jewel of the kingdom.”
Don't let hubris be your downfall, and don't be afraid to retreat and regroup if something doesn't go the way you intended.
In short: don't be afraid to fail or to make mistakes. Mistakes are how we learn, and by accepting and learning from them, you can hone your marketing messaging to really speak to your customers.
3. “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”
Effective marketing requires both discipline (strategy) and execution (tactics.)
Discipline refers to maintaining a macro-level, long-term vision for your company which incorporates a well-developed marketing strategy. However, without the daily to-dos of engagement, publishing content, sharing articles, and other day-to-day marketing tasks, the strategy falls apart. This is why it's essential to review goals and KPIs regularly (tactics) to ensure that you're always working towards your goal.
4. “If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.”
Pay attention to market trends, your competition, and what influencers in your industry are doing.
With so many daily tasks and to-dos, it can be easy to lose sight of the forest for the trees when it comes to staying on top of the ways that the digital marketing landscape is changing. However, staying up-to-date on the latest developments in our industry is essential to avoid being left in the digital dust.
5. “Opportunities multiply as they are seized.”
Planning and preparedness are great, but real marketing magic happens when we allow ourselves to be flexible and seize on opportunities to stand out.
One of our favorite recent examples of "seizing an opportunity" was when KFC ran into a bizarre crisis: they ran out of chicken in the U.K. due to a mixup with the supplier. Instead of hiding from the problem and trying to downplay it, the marketing geniuses at KFC released a series of ads which read "FCK. We're sorry." which not only addressed the problem (and earned goodwill with their customers) but also was covered in multiple media outlets and hailed as a marketing success.
6. “Do not repeat the tactics which have gained you one victory, but let your methods be regulated by the infinite variety of circumstances.”
Successful marketers are ones who are agile.
One of the cornerstones of digital marketing success is to lean on your data and analytics to understand user behavior and your most important KPIs. However, it's not enough o keep repeating the same steps as you did last month, last quarter, or even last year.
Agile marketing means taking the time to understand your data, and to use what you see to make decisions based on what is, and isn't working. Ask yourself: what do the numbers tell me, and how can I make adjustments to what we're already doing to continue to meet our growth KPIs?
In war, in business, and in marketing, history's most successful and influential thinkers were those who took the time to think strategically about how to achieve their goals. By applying a strategic, tactical approach to your marketing, you can grow a community around your business, increase leads and reach new customers, and increase your business' bottom line.
Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram for applicable strategy and insights you can use. Need a strategic partner to work with you to develop a comprehensive digital marketing strategy? Get in touch - we'd love to make your brand sing.