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On the subject of Email marketing

bad-email

Martina Martina

August 23rd, 2013.

Putting an end to creepy emails!

bad-email

Spend enough time wading through spam emails and you’ll be amazed at what you find. From dodgy salutations to cringe-worthy formatting, on a very slow day this makes for a good few minutes of entertainment.

Here are some of the most ‘creepy’ elements of bad email-ship:

Over personalisation

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

This is usually an attempt at making a company look uber-friendly, since the emails they send you are formatted like a buddy would send them.

The downside is that sometimes we sign up with nick-names, tags or misspellings which can quickly turn a harmless greeting into a spammy annoyance. Seeing “Happy Birthday JaneDoe101!” or “JaneDoe101 we miss you!” littering up your mailbox is usually the first step on the way to an unsubscribe!

Archaic greetings

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom this may concern” are clear-cut indicators of cold calling (or cold mailing) – sure they’re gender neutral but boy are they impersonal. They scream “Someone, anyone – please read me!” rather than seeming relevant to the recipient. 

Too many imperatives

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

It’s true that the call-to action is a huge part of the science behind a smooth conversion, so putting in punchy phrases like “click here!” and “buy now!” seem standard procedure, but there is such a thing of over-doing it.

Ultimately, I don’t want bossy emails, and legally anything being sold is an ‘invitation to treat’ so in your next sales email, try the passive approach with an A/B test to see what gains a better reaction.

Too long

Why it’s done & why it sucks:

It’s been a while and there’s a lot to say, but how long do you think I’ve got? People are time conscious, say less!

If you need to explain something a nifty way of doing so is by linking back to a blog post published on your website. Not only is this considerate of your customers, it’s also potential for indirect conversions; they may just browse other parts of your website…


And in taking my own advice, I’ll keep this short and sweet – but feel free to add any other examples you can think of in our vowel to make electronic mail, sustainable! ;-)

BP

Joe Joe

December 5th, 2012.

Content Marketing Advice for Buckingham Palace that You Can Use Too!

Aside from staggering wealth and undeserved attention, one of the things that I’ve always associated with The Royal Family is their strategic but reserved PR coverage.

I remember when the Queen Mother passed on. The news was broken by a headed-letter placed at the gates of the palace. 10-Years-On, the world has changed. In the age of Social Media and online press, would they still have delivered the statement in this way? I doubt it.

It would be a waste of paper.

Buckingham Palace is moving into the modern age, and I think that’s a step in the right direction.
Following the announcement at The D and D of C’s website  that there is to be a Royal Baby, the whole world has gone Royal Baby crazy. For an idea of what the baby will look like, The Poke gives a pretty scientific model. For an idea about names,  namethatroyalbaby.com is the place to go. As The Royal Baby still hasn’t developed a skeleton and is smaller than an apple, all we can be sure of is it will be a PR dream-come-true. So I thought I’d write a guide for Content Marketing that The Palace can use to promote the infant once it’s born.

…Other readers might also find it useful for their company’s Content Marketing Strategy.

There can be little doubt that content marketing should be a central focus of your digital marketing plan. It’s alleged that 19% of Internet Users now get their news from Social Media. I can attest to this: having spent most of yesterday avoiding social media platforms in case I saw spoilers for the Boardwalk Empire Season Finale, I only found out about the Royal Baby this morning when I was on Twitter researching coverage of the Pandas at Edinburgh Zoo. But with 400 million Tweets being sent per day, and 1 Billion Facebookers scrolling through content all day long; how can you make the Royal Baby (or your product) get the attention you think it deserves.

SECTION 1: Competiting for Attention

As with any content production, you need to know your audience.

When it comes to Content Marketing, often it will pay dividends to build-your-own audience. Obviously the current market-share for people interested in the Royal Baby is lower than it could be. Create content that evokes people’s curiosity and encourages them to come back for more. A weekly feature called ‘Ask Royal Baby’ where Royal Baby answers Tweets on a YouTube Channel, or takes part in a Google+ Hangout would be ideal. Tweets featuring #AskRoyalBaby will stand out in the stream, and the Sharability of videos means you’ll see huge coverage, and a huge amount of attention.

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: You might benefit from an ‘Ask an Expert’ style weekly blog that runs along the same lines.)

Technological Sophistication

As well as being current with what you output, you need to be current in how you output. It’s no secret that the ease and simplicity of mobile internet has made the trials of turning on a computer a thing of the past. React to new releases in the digital consumer world before your competitors and you’re bound to see the benefits before them. You might consider releasing an App with minute-by-minute news and updates straight from Royal Baby central. As new technology reveals itself, don’t be afraid to take chances on new ideas. You never know – Royal Baby could be the first star of Holographic Video Blogs!

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Make sure you’re aware of growing interest in different areas of media consumption. A fairly basic App could be a really innovative way to interact with your customers, or distribute your Blog and Newsletter).

Section 2: Original Content

You are probably asking yourself ‘How Do I Remain Current AND Still Stay Original?’

Simply put, I would say the most efficient and effective way to combine these two things is to put new slants on established concepts. Make things that people will find entertaining or useful and, importantly, things people will want to share. These are all concepts you’ll be very familiar with, but for clarity and usefulness, here are all of them:

How-To – Accessible Application of Expertise

This could be anything from your typical ‘How to’ Video Tutorials (‘How to change Royal Baby’s Nappy’; ‘How to Dress Like Royal Baby’ etc.), to Un-Paid (or even Paid) Teleclasses such as ‘How to Prepare Royal Baby’s Dinner in 10 Easy Lessons’ or ‘Why Is Royal Baby Crying?: A Five Week Course’. People will visit your company’s page to turn their interest into expertise. The more variety of ‘How-Tos’ you offer, the more visitors you’ll attract.

 

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Share the knowledge in your field of expertise. ‘How to Revamp Your Webpage’ or ‘5 Ways to Make Your Own Furniture’ would work equally well. And like I say, you can name your price if you don’t feel like giving your secrets away for free.)

Also: don’t underestimate the power of E-mails. You can offer E-mail guides which could be more cost effective and a lot simpler if your professional interest is more technical.

Blog Series

You already have regular news updates on your website, so why not offer a weekly or fortnightly specialist post. Much like SEOMoz’s Whiteboard Friday where SEO concepts are described by a professional using a White Board to illustrate their points; you could offer a an insight into Royal Baby’s lifestyle from the people who know him or her best. ‘Royal Family Friday’ would be an excellent platform to get visitors to your website. Short interviews with members of The Royal Family talking about Royal Baby are sure to bring in hits. Think how many people tune in for The Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day. Imagine how much traffic she could bring in each week just talking about Royal Baby’s antics. It’s an untapped gold mine.

Angry Birds isn’t as easy as it looks – Source

 

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Think what regular features would interest your audience. If you run a management blog, it could be worthwhile interviewing managers from different industries each week on ‘My Manager Monday’. If you run a Travel Agency, you could have reviews of different holidays from people who have just returned home in a weekly ‘Airport Arrivals’. The scope is huge, but as long as people will be interested and willing to share it, there’s no reason you can’t give it a try!

Top 10s

This is an incredibly straightforward and well-used format. It’s basically an entertaining list of things related to your company. It doesn’t even need to be 10! You might go for ‘The Top 10 Mushed Food Royal Baby Loves’ or ‘5 Toys Royal Baby Can’t Sleep Without’.

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Come on… This is an easy one. Just make sure you’re relevant and interesting!)

Twitter Campaigns – Make Your Content Live in the Stream

The top thing to remember when using Twitter for a marketing campaign is that it should be 95% relationship building and only 5% selling. Twitter is predominantly a social platform. People want to see the latest thoughts from their friends and celebrity interests in their stream, so flagrant advertising sticks out like a sore thumb…

A sore thumb that’s been cut off and glued on…

A sore thumb that’s been cut off and glued onto a mouse’s back….

Ok, maybe that’s too much. The point is: it’s obvious and unwelcome. If you only tell your followers about Royal Baby merchandise all day, you’ll be doomed to fail as people don’t just want to be sold things. If you actively engage with your followers by replying to their tweets and sharing pictures and videos, you’ll probably find them much more susceptible to being sold Royal Baby calendars and car accessories.

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Don’t underestimate the power of Twitter. At the minimum, you could use the platform to promote news from your company and share content. If you are a reasonably well-established company with thousands of followers, you could start a Twitter Event. Stage a giveaway for the 1,000th retweet, or start a Hashtag idea like #ReplaceSongNamesWithCarParts or #CarPartFootballerNames. If it’s funny and accessible, people will be weighing in with their own ideas in no time, (but if it spreads too far you probably won’t get the recognition for creating it).

Compare whatever you’re writing about with a current news story

[See ‘Content Marketing Advice for Buckingham Palace that You Can Use Too!’ by Joe Shervell, or ‘What The Leveson Enquiry Can Teach Us about Tobacco Farming’ by nobody.]

Reproduce Advice You Gave a Client

If somebody phoned you this afternoon asking for your advice, they probably aren’t the only person who needs it. Turn a customer’s question into a ‘How-To’ (see above) or even a Video Q&A with the customer where all questions are asked and answered. This could be anything from ‘How Can I Join the Royal Baby Fanclub?’ to ‘Which University Will Royal Baby Attend? I Want My child to Marry Royalty’.

(If your product isn’t The Royal Baby: Judge the important problems your customers are brining to you and work on ways they can solve them by referring to your blog or online guides. Again, the more diverse the content, the wider the variety of visitors you’ll attract.

Never Underestimate the Power of Hard Copy

In the modern world, emails; messages; texts and tweets fly around our heads and across our field of vision faster than we could possibly process. It might be a refreshing and paradoxically novel idea to approach your audience with something fresh: hard copy letter or CDs or DVDs. You could send out hand-written letters to everyone citizen of Britain and the Countries of the former British Empire, signed with a poster-paint handprint by Royal Baby. This would be a massively personal way to reach every member of the target audience.

(If your product is not The Royal Baby: You could send out sales enquiries in hand-written letters, or send your Newsletter printed on card. This will instantly set you aside from everyone else in your industry and keep you at the forefront of the clients’ minds. Floppy Disks may stand out even more, but unless your client has been making a concerted effort to halt progress, they will only be useful as Coasters).

Section 3: Other Key Factors

Aside from the content itself, there are several theories worth bearing in mind.

Good Content = More Followers

Broadly speaking, the better the content, the more people will want to see more of it. These will be the subscribers; the followers; the digital friends; but crucially, the online customer base that is so essential for this type of marketing. The more people who are interested in Royal Baby, the easier it will be to tell them about Royal Baby.

Content Knows No Bounds

 

For the connected generation, everything is accessible on mobile. Whether it’s an article, picture or video; you can access it on your desktop, tablet, phone, TV or PS3, all at the same time! This means it’s never been easier to get the latest content from Royal Baby straight to the people you want to see it the most.

The More Natural, The Better the Results

The more your content fits into the platform you’re using, the better the engagement from the audience. ‘Sponsored Tweets’ look just like Regular Tweets (Except for the fact that they say ‘Sponsored Tweet’). To Johnny User, this is much more acceptable than the stapled-on banner ads we learned to ignore in 1997. It also puts the content directly in the stream, meaning even the most highly-trained content avoider has to give it a cursory glance. If you fill Royal Baby’s fans Timeline’s with pictures and Hilarious Demotivational Posters, you’ll find a much higher engagement than straight-up bit.ly links to RoyalBabyShop.Com.

Don’t Be Afraid to Use Other People’s Success

Unfortunately, Royal Baby isn’t due to make an appearance until Spring 2013. This means he or she will be late for even the ‘Dead Horse Flogging’ phase of Gangnam Style. But you could recreate a timeless classic in the Sneezing Baby Panda video, with the Duchess of Cambridge nearly having a heart attack as Royal Baby sprays mucus everywhere. Or feature Royal Baby in a series of parody Old Spice adverts doing dangerous but awe-inspiring things like cliff-diving or riding a motorbike around the Large Hadron Collider.

Never overlook the importance of a Strategic Partnership with other brands. I’m sure Google will do some kind of logo to celebrate the baby being born. In fact, I’d put money on it. Other internet sensations Royal Baby could be involved with are:

– Twitter Feud with Nicki Minaj
– A Vice Documentary About Royal Baby
Will It Blend?

Ok, I’m joking about the last one.

But there’s nothing wrong with partnerships. You’re judged by the company you keep, but if you can achieve extra exposure for your product then there’s no reason not to try it out.

Whether you’re promoting The Royal Baby, or a Digital Marketing Agency; original marketing that gets people talking and sharing is the way forward. Generate interest and you’ve made a step towards generating sales.

Martina Martina

July 25th, 2011.

How to create the perfect return-customer!

If you take a look at what you eat, where you shop or even what you wear, you’ll discover that the most effective brands and businesses in your life are successful because of their ability to keep you trapped in their rotating doors. You’ll buy that same beverage maybe twice a week, and go to that same supermarket at the end of each month- all because you’ve convinced yourself you like the design on the plastic bags, and the staff are friendly. Actually, there’s more to it and I’m about to tell you exactly what that is…

Brand evolution…

You frequent a brand because it grows with you and becomes something that understands you. For example, after McDonalds understood the issue the population began to have with societal obesity, they reduced portion size (although I blame inflation) and boosted the nutritional value of the food through the choice of ingredients used. This became acceptable to parents, who then were more inclined eat there with their families.

An example of an industry that arguably did not readily embrace evolution and suffered greatly as a result, is the music industry. After the birth of the digital age of music, illegal downloading and iTunes, the archaic business model of selling CD’s showed a huge decline in sales. Failing to catch on quickly enough meant that some artists suffered (and the customary private jet was downsized to a regular limousine).

Whatever your line of business, you need to understand the importance of evolving with the customer, if you sell tube-socks and make a great profit in winter, introducing a pop-sock range for the warmer months would mean that you have something to offer customers all year round. Alternatively, if your business is to provide SEO services (and you are doing this well) – then perhaps you could suggest Pay Per Click (PPC) services too.

Integrating, and actually wanting customers’ opinions…

When listening to a friend or colleague talk about something they care about, you always feel that little bit of gratification when they ask you your view on the subject and genuinely care about your answer. Imagine this never happened – if people talked at you, telling you their views and never asking about yours…you would get tired of listening to them, and they would eventually emigrate to a world of bias where only their opinion matters.

Feedback is a wonderful thing, and to guarantee any kind of success you need to be engaging the people whom that success relies upon. There are many ways this can be done such as market research, comments sections and incentives.

Personally, I dislike the emails I receive asking me to ‘spend 2 minutes’ of my time filling out a feedback form, but interestingly, when shopping online – the reviews section about the product I am interested in, is the first place I look before pressing the ‘checkout’ button. If you struggle to get feedback, try using incentives in exchange for it, offering a discount or a token for free software after a few important questions are answered, is a ‘quid-pro-quo’ way to dig out helpful information that could help you better your business.

Offering alternatives…

Nestle’s chocolaty awesomeness is far from limited. Nestle offer a range of sweets and treats making them one of the most popular and wealthy brands in the world. If Nestle was limited to just one chocolate bar, sure that bar of chocolate would taste good to those that enjoy it, but after years of just a milk chocolate bar, people would stray – they’d try praline, white chocolate, plain chocolate – and so on. If Nestle weren’t the ones to provide these different types, they’d be losing out on possible revenue and brand awareness.

The power of a brand comes from its ability to churn out good ideas and give people choice. This isn’t limited to types of product or service offered, your business alternatives should extend to forms of payment, methods of contact and more. Yes this is 2011, but believe it or not, some people prefer to send a postal-order or a cheque rather than use their credit or debit card online. Similarly, some people like to mail a letter to you rather than send you an email – and some people like to call you on the phone, instead of using Skype.

Being savvy is important, but it is important to remember that you could alienate a whole market simply by not catering for it. If you sell online, offer WorldPay, PayPal and the ability to pay by card – by doing so, shows customer consideration which is exactly what you need to do!

Avoiding over-saturation…

An unexpected text message from an old friend, is often the perfect segue for reconnecting, because sometimes it’s the subtleties in life that we enjoy the most. However ‘broadcast-message’ after Facebook invite from that annoying person you’d probably cross the street to avoid, will never get the attention they want. This is because there is an important difference between the two – in the first example, you feel as though that person put thought and care into the message and in the second, you feel undervalued, someone just making up the numbers.

Your business works the exact same way, its quality over quantity. Flooding prospective customers with emails about what their missing might cause them to report you as spam, and maybe even tell others to do the same. However, providing them with worthwhile information they may not already have gathered, might prompt them to subscribe to your blog, or enquire about your business.

Acknowledging loyalty…

Many businesses have cottoned onto the positive effects of personalisation, sending out post with only your first name as the title as if they’re your buddy, addressing you with “hi” rather than the traditional “Dear” and sending out seasonal gifts and confectionary. Even if it’s slightly corny and obviously not based on some fantastic rapport you have with them, they do it in hopes that you’ll feel appreciated causing them to stand out.

Even if a thousand others receive the exact same gift, unlike the Facebook invite example above and more like the Google+ invite in its beta stages – it makes you feel all special.  Using this method is an added charm, especially if the customer is new to you; it works almost as a reminder to them of their importance to you. Consistent use of this technique might eventually convince that customer that you are important to them, because you obviously ‘care’ about them enough to remember them personally.

Customers will keep coming back if they are fully catered to. Whilst I am not suggesting that if you are not doing all of the above perfectly, you will fail – including these tips into your already operating mode of business, will help boost ROI and customer satisfaction. A ‘win-win’ outcome! :-)

Jan

June 21st, 2011.

New email marketing features release notes

At the beginning of the June, our email marketing platform went through some enhancements in features and functionality, including mobile/SMS features (available July, 2011), Facebook and Twitter integrations, and the new workflow automation canvas.

What’s new:

Send Time Optimisation

For each contact, send time optimisation automatically schedules email messages to send at the time of day, and optionally the day of the week, the contact is most likely to open emails from you. You should avoid using send time optimization for time sensitive deliveries where you want control over when the email is sent. If a contact is new or we don’t have sufficient open time data for a contact, the delivery will be made using the time you choose using the Send message now or Send at this time radio buttons.

NOTE: send time optimisation option is only enabled in advanced options when sending your email campaign.

Workflows (available end of June, 2011)

With workflows you can specify combinations of triggers, filters, and actions that determine how to handle contact data, and what marketing communications to send them.

Facebook Integration

By integrating your email account with a Facebook account you’ll be able to add a Like button to email messages and webforms, schedule & post Facebook messages, let contacts sign-up using their Facebook information, and map Facebook data to contact fields. You can also trigger workflows based on if someone liked a status, liked a page, commented on a status, or posted to a page.

Twitter Integration

As with Facebook integration, integrating your account with your Twitter account allows you to post to Twitter and track the posts made via the application. You can also trigger workflows based on whether a contact mentions or retweets a Twitter username you have setup in your account.

Support For QR Codes

QR codes allow you to encode a URL into an image that you can add to email messages. If a contact prints out the email, they can take a picture of the QR code with their smart phone and they will be redirected to the URL you specified for the QR code. Read more about What’s a QR code.

Redesigned Message Overview Page

Redesigned message overview page now includes more information about metrics associated with email messages, as well as the delivery groups which an email message has been added to.

Auto-Saving of Messages

This new feature will auto-save your messages automatically to the Drafts folder every minute. That way, if you forget to save a message or your computer crashes, you will still be able to access the version of the message you were working on. The Drafts folder is automatically created for you when this feature is enabled. 

Message Approval Prior to Sending

When enabled, all newly created messages will require approval before they can be send. To enable go to: Home > Settings > General >

Videos

2 minutes tour

30 minutes webinar

Martina Martina

February 23rd, 2011.

Why it is now impossible to rank as #1 in search engines…

The evolution of the Internet shows the constant change in the way search engines fetch you the information you want when you put in a query. Gone are the days, when a uniform set of results would pop up irrespective of who you are, where, when and how you searched a particular term.

One such example was just 2 years ago in the huge viral campaign for the blockbuster movie ‘2012’. The online marketing behind this movie was so clever that consumers were told to “just search 2012” in a search engine, as part of the teaser. Indeed if they did, a quick search in Google would return about 1, 000 websites and over 150 books based on the idea that 2012 marked – the end. Scary!

Localised and Personalised results.

Two years later, things have changed. With Google collecting just about every smidgen of information available to them from the online user, they have found away to return results that are ultra personalised all depending on the users’ settings. This is great in terms of relevance. For example, a Londoner living in Chelsea putting in a search for “local plumbers” or even just “plumbers” would be in for a treat. Google would collect her I.P. address which would determine roughly which area the search has come from, her domain name, (which in this case would be ‘.co.uk’), and even the similar searches that have been carried out in the past, to finally come up with some options that would best relate to that user.

This seems great for the person wanting a local plumber. But is it great? The answer is yes…and no – and here’s why:

  • It causes some businesses or products to not be shown, limiting the users opportunity to try something new/go somewhere else.
  • Other businesses might not draw customers from certain locations because they are not being shown in results.
  • Most importantly: nobody ranks number one!

Blended results

Blended results further add to this difficulty of ranking at the very top of your field. These are integrated in the results that are returned when you search any particular term. For example we already know that a search for “local plumbers” combines a series of data to produce personalised results. Blended results are the effect of vertical search engines gathering information. For example in Google, there are additional tabs you can click to get certain results: (images, news, books, blogs etc.) These are placed adjacently between organic results. So you might search “plumber” and return: 1. A Google page listing of a local plumber, 2. The Wikipedia definition for the word, 3. A directory result and 4. An image of a plumber (just kidding on this one :-) but you get the idea.)

Therefore ranking at number one is not really generic. This doesn’t mean however, that you can’t rank at the top for your field if you utilise tools such as Google AdWords and create a very powerful and successful campaign with all the right keywords. After all, you only need to appeal to the intended audience, and this is exactly what Google assists in doing!

Happy Searching.

Martina Martina

December 2nd, 2010.

The nature of the ‘NoFollow’ tag… and some reasons you should avoid it.

Blog spamming is inevitable. It occurs when people post numerous links within comments sections in a blog article with the intention of readers of that article scrolling down to the comments bit to add their two pennies worth, seeing these links posted by other “readers” of that article and clicking on those links.

Whilst this is unfortunate for the blog owner, since many of these links drive traffic elsewhere, there is one proposed solution to this, and it goes by the name of the ‘NoFollow’ tag (written in HTML as (rel=”nofollow”)) – its one aim? To block search engines from following such links in comments.

Problem solved right? … Wrong! Regardless of the intention of the tag there is one overarching issue here – spammers haven’t hung up their spamming hats just yet, so if the tag does little or nothing to stop spam, ultimately it has failed.

Here are 5 more reasons why the NoFollow is a NoGo:

  • It’s Pointless - It doesn’t work. Spammers still spam. If you want don’t want spam then perhaps you should use an(other) anti-spam tool such as ‘math’ alongside useful plug-ins like ‘SpamKarma’.
  • It’s Pointless – The use of ‘NoFollow’ in comments on WordPress blogs (which are widely used) is default, hence – you may already be using it.
  • It’s Pointless - There is no value, in terms of search engine indexing, & if the search engine indexes can’t find your link, and having many indexed links is your aim (and it is) then there is no point.
  • It’s Selfish – Leaving a comment on another’s blog post is a nice thing to do and the right comment can even lead to more comments. If someone takes the time to do this for you, why not give back a little. Sharing is caring.
  • It’s … Pointless – Guess what, Search Engines such as Yahoo, actually follow ‘NoFollow’ tags and have been known to count them as back-links in SiteExplorer. So, if you’re goal in comment spamming is to build such back-links in the hopes of building your site’s value … NoFollow is of no use to you here either.

The choice is yours…choose wisely.

Martina Martina

November 2nd, 2010.

The importance of blogging regularly.

Blogging regularly is important for many reasons. The most obvious being that if your want to retain a degree of professionalism (assuming your blog is not a personal one) then it looks better if you are continuously finding new and interesting things for your audience to read.

Honestly, how eager are you to get involved with a company or a business through its website, when you visit its blog and see that the ‘most recent’ entry has a date stamp of 6 months ago…?

Besides, there are some little gems you may be sacrificing if you neglect your company’s blog – such as:

Being fresh and innovative!

A blog post is an article that varies in length, can be about anything you want and is usually beneficial to the target audience it was written for.  Through blogging, you can use it to encourage people, persuade them or simply to entertain them. Why lose out on something this beneficial? If you are a company or a business that has something you are trying to sell, your blog is the place to do this!

Being seen!

If you want to improve your chances of being visible in search engines (and you do) then well structured posts are essential. A great post can start to rank in search engines over time and could potentially bring in web traffic to your website. (For tips on how to write a great post you can read my earlier article titled ‘Successfully guest posting on A-list blogs’)

Being communicative & media savvy!

Simply because blogging and social media marketing must coexist when it comes to marketing a business, communication is essential.

Social communities, such as Twitter, Digg, and Facebook among others, can be used as a platform for your blog, and so being a consistent (but quality) blogger could create the opportunity for more traffic to find drive its way to your blog. Perhaps most importantly, through these social networks you could gather new business opportunities.

Being heard!

Blogging is a way to explain to your readers who you are as a company. Distancing yourself from the competition is what your brand and your website will attempt to do, but a blog can add that extra panache needed to make your business really stand out. Much like a chronicle, your blog can be how you document the goings on in your company – which will give allow it to develop a voice and a personality.

So blog & blog often!

Martina Martina

October 1st, 2010.

Successfully guest posting on A-list blogs.

You are probably already aware of the importance of guest posting to for the purposes of promotion in the world of SEO. The two work hand in hand. However, there is more to guest posting than simply getting your article uploaded to any random blog on the internet – if you want it to be seen and seen often, then you need to be featured on successful high powered blogs that get attention.

As somebody that is fairly new to SEO, I have learned that there are many ways to ‘get a link’, but perhaps more importantly, I have recognised the importance of quality over quantity when it comes to guest posting.

So what shouldn’t you do?

  • Aimlessly send out requests asking a multitude of questions regarding guidelines.

Why? – Because blogs like this usually have set guidelines that can be found on ‘guest posting’ sections of their site. Asking webmasters questions that they have already answered shows your lack of attention to detail. Not a good sign.

  • Ignore the target audience.

Figuring out the niche for that blog, or the readers interests from previous posts that they have on the site is helpful. Of course you may be working for clients or have your own ideas that are far away from the niche theme of the blog that you are approaching. One solution to this is to be creative and to try and marry the ideas that you have, to this niche. For example, I recently found a blog on video-gaming where I wanted to incorporate a client that supplies contemporary decorative art; I came up with ideas such as ‘concept art in video-games’ and even ‘tattoo art inspired by game characters’. These worked well.

  • Follow-suit.

Taking initiative is highly appreciated in the world of guest posting. Don’t be afraid to send some material to the blog owner, rather than simply asking to send some. If they are a successful blog, chances are they will be inundated with requests daily, many of which they turn down. Instead, sending some well written content with a good email explaining your intentions will be a breath of fresh air, will get you noticed and will heighten your chances of getting that post.

  • Be generic.

Go ‘gaga’ with the hyperbole, the numbered titles and the informative language used. If the blog owner wants changes to be made, you’ll be informed, but standing out is the key – a title can make the topic seem boring even if the content is great. Huge blogs of text with no photographs are a no-no. Avoid these.

  • Give up.

If your post was refused but you followed the above steps, chances are it’s going to have been a pretty well put together and thought out piece of work. A well constructed post is never a wasted effort, so don’t waste it – use it elsewhere or use it on your own blog if you can. If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. :)

Kolen

July 21st, 2009.

Dos and Don’ts about Emails to cold contacts

Recently a lot of companies are looking to old clients, offline customers or otherwise ‘cold’ contacts to drum up new business.  This is a great idea,  but can seriously harm your company’s reputation if not done well.  Here are some guidelines from our recent experiences.

DO: Put yourself in their shoes

This is the key to all of the items that follow – always spend some time trying to put yourself in your contact’s mindset.  Consider how you react when you get an email from a company you don’t instantly remember.

DO: Introduce yourself

People are not likely to instantly remember that they bought something off you 1 ½ years ago, especially if it was offline and you’re contacting them online. A big part of reminding them of who you are is the look & feel of the email template itself.  Make sure that your template is on-brand and carries over consistent elements such as your logo that they may remember.

Keep branding of your template consistent with offline and other brand implementations

Keep branding of your template consistent with offline and other brand implementations

DO: Remind them of how you have their details

Here you want to answer the question “Why are they sending me an email?!” and build up the legitimacy of your message. The more detail you can put into your reminder the better. Including a reminder of how you got their details significantly improves how well the email is recieved.

Examples:

“Dear Rachel,
You ordered some V-Pure from us in September 2008. We are getting in touch again to let you know that now have a brand new website for the world’s highest quality Vegetarian Omega 3. We look forward to seeing you soon!”

“Dear Rachel,
You registered with us in April 2008.  We are getting in touch to show you our new format newsletters and 15% off to our loyal customers.”

DO: Thank them by giving a special offer

Say thank you for their time and patience by giving a special offer code or discount.

Example:

“We want to offer you 10% off to say thank you for being a loyal subscriber!  Just enter the code DATJN15 at the checkout to claim 10% off.”

DO: Allow them to leave your contact list easily

For messages to cold contacts, one of the biggest issues you have to overcome is people hitting the Junk button when they don’t recognise you.  Overcome this by allowing them to unsubscribe easily – and you’ll actually be surprised by how few unsubscribe when you allow them to do so in such an easy way.

Example of an easy unsubscribe

Example of an easy unsubscribe

DON’T: Sell, sell, sell

Selling in your email is okay if balanced by all of the above, but certainly do not launch straight into your products without it. If possible, don’t sell at all in your first introduction email, and instead look for the long tail result of converting a cold contact into an interested one.

Selling to cold contacts done well

Selling to cold contacts done well - one product is profiled on an email announcing the new website with a polite introduction.

Kolen

June 9th, 2008.

Things to think about for your email newsletter

I’ve just recently joined the Datadial team, and one of my key responsibilities will be to manage the ever-growing need for email marketing. But often it can be hard to think about where to start, so here are my 3 points for growing your email newsletter.

How often will I need to send?

You should be realistic with the frequency, and make sure you stick to it. If you know you’re busy then try to fit the newsletter around your other business routines:

  • If you are a service company, like Datadial, then around 4 newsletters a year is sufficient for gently keeping your clients up to date.
  • If you are selling products, then seasonal emails for a new collection release, and emails when you are holding a sale or special promotions is appropriate.
  • For news and information services, the frequency could even be as often as once a week.

Subscribers should know how often they expect to hear from you before they sign up. This wording can often be incorporated to the sign up form itself, e.g. “Sign up to our weekly newsletter here”.

Your contacts

The most important success factor of your emails will be your contacts list. This is definitely a case of quality over quantity. To get the most from your newsletters, your contacts should be a concise list of interested people – the more targeted your list is, the more effective it will be.

As a guideline, you can get an effective contact list by including anyone who has…

  • bought a product or service from you in the last 2 years – they may just need that one reminder to buy again.
  • opted-in to receive your email newsletter by signing up from your website.
  • signed up to your membership, either online or on a paper-based form, and opted-in to receive your newsletter.

We definitely advise against buying contacts lists from marketing agencies or scrambling around to get as many contacts as possible. This will only lead to people being annoyed at your company for sending them emails they haven’t asked for. Sending newsletters to those who have not opted-in also risks our position as a whitelisted email provider, so we monitor for unusually high bounce or unsubscribe rates to ensure that you are not compromising our permission to send bulk emails.

Once your contacts have signed up, make sure that you do actually live up to your promise of sending a regular newsletter. This may sound very obvious, but when someone has given their explicit permission then they do actually want to hear from you, and it can be damaging to your reputation to only send twice a year when you have told them you’ll send once a month.

Make it look pretty

Don’t underestimate the graphic design of your email. With professional services, you can send attractive graphical emails to your contacts which builds trust with your brand, and makes your email less likely to be interpreted as junk mail. We can also setup your account so that anyone who cannot see the graphics will still get a useful email from you. All of our templates are tested in the main popular email clients (Outlook, Gmail, Hotmail, etc.) to make sure that it will look great for all of your contacts.

A small, but very important, factor of your email template is the footer. This is the area that should always include your company details, including a physical address, to show that it is a genuine email. There should also be a friendly unsubscribe link for those that no longer want to receive your email. It does you no favours to hide this link, as it will only make those who have already decided to leave your emails more frustrated at your company. We often word these links something similar to:

“If you no longer wish to receive our emails you may unsubscribe here, but we’ll be sorry to see you go. You can always sign up again from our website if you change your mind.”

Adding the method for signing up again shows that they are in control and that they are always welcome to join the list again.

Rob

July 6th, 2007.

AOL Disabling Images in Online Mail Clients

You may have noticed that AOL recently rolled out a new web based mail client for AOL.com. As part of this change, they are now disabling images by default. AOL are not alone in doing this and they are among a dominant group of clients that block images by default. So the result is that you just have to expect that a vast majority of your contacts will first see your message without images; it’s just a fact of life.

What can be done?

Hopefully most contacts will choose to turn images back on by default, but not everyone will choose not to do this. For those customers who won’t add your From to their address book, and who haven’t turned images on, you need to take the next step: Alternate Text.

Setting Alternate Text

Setting Alternative Text

What is Alternate Text? Alternate Text, often called an Alt Tag or Alt Text, is an attribute of an image that is shown when that image isn’t loaded. You can easily add Alternate Text to any image in your message within the image popup in your message editor. And you should always do this to every image as a rule. If you are editing HTML by hand, you just need to add an Alt attribute to your images.That’s it, there’s not too much to do on your part. Hopefully any serious email designers out there were already using Alternate Text for all your images. For those of you who weren’t, now you know, and you should start implementing these changes right away!

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