Email Marketing Basics

An Introduction to Email Marketing

How Can Your Business Generate Leads?

Understanding Lead Generation vs. Demand Generation

Demand generation involves building awareness, becoming and staying relevant, and fueling the interest that results in a quality lead. This is where online marketing strategies come in to play, and includes all of the interactions that precede a business transaction. There are several ways to begin this process, some more effective than others.

Lead generation comes next. For business-to-business marketers, a lead is someone who completes an opt-in form, downloads a company resource, attends a sponsored event or webinar, and so on. These are people who have demonstrated valuable levels of interest in your product or service, and are at various stages of the sales cycle. A substantial quantity of leadss are necessary for accurate analytics of your campaign’s effectiveness. These contacts, if handled with care, can become leads, and eventually even clients or consumers.

Generate Leads with Search Engine Optimization

One study revealed that direct traffic, online referrals and search engines were responsible for 93% of leads. If you follow SEO best practices within the pages of your site, those in need of your product or service are more likely to stumble upon your site.
However, simply viewing a page is not the same as closing a deal. This is where effective opt-in methods come in. The prospect is here, now you need their contact information. You can do this via sidebars, pop-ups, or by creating a landing page that is an opt-in form in itself. Here are a few tips on what to include in successful opt-in forms:

  • Incentive: What benefits come with signing up? Ensure readers you are not going to send them thirty spammy sales emails each day, but that you have content of substance. Whether it’s in the form of blog posts, whitepapers, webinars, or sales announcements, make it clear that opening your emails will bring relevant satisfaction to the receiver. A friendly way to do this is in question form (Example: “Want more awesome marketing advice?”).
  • Simplicity: The less fields required, the better. What do you absolutely need from your contact at step one? Only ask for this, and you can gradually gather more information as your email marketing relationship develops.
  • Call to action: This may seem obvious, but make sure that the purpose of your form is clear, and maybe try something that isn’t just “Sign up now!”.

Social Media Lead Generation

Actively promoting your company through LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus can definitely help direct people to your site--this is a way to reach people who may not have been directly searching for your product or service, but your post caught their attention enough to explore further. Joining industry-specific groups within each of these social networks can help hone in on these people more sharply. LinkedIn is a great bet, as it generates 277% more leads than Facebook and more than 75% of B2B marketers report to have found leads here. While still a viable demand generation source, social media is often more effective in the later stages of email marketing, once you have established credibility and familiarity with your audience. There are some other little details to consider in the demand generation process, and depending on your target audience, a more creative or off-beat strategy may prove successful.

Laying the Foundation of Your Email Campaign

Choose an Email Services Provider

Using an email service provider (EMSP) is necessary when sending to a large contact list. This way, you avoid being flagged as spam by your internet service provider (ISP). Read all about the CAN-SPAM Act here. Luckily, there are several EMSP’s to choose from--the top ranked being iContact. Each provider is a bit different, so you can decide which one is best for your business model. With these providers, you have access to templates to design professional emails that can then be sent to the increasingly vast contact list you have generated. It is not necessary to write your own HTML or CSS, but you often still have the option if you want to. Many EMSP’s provide testing options and data that can help you improve your campaigns as you embark on segmentation and nurturing.

Congratulations, you’ve generated the demand and have a list of prospects for lead generation. Now comes the hard part: converting them into loyal clients.

Read all about nurturing campaign strategies in next week’s blog!


Facebook-Instant-Articles

Social Media Promotion or Social Media Domination?

The Implications of Facebook’s Instant Articles

Instant Articles = Instant Upgrades

An act of benevolence?

It sounds perfect: with Instant Articles, publishers’ content will load up to 10x faster than a mobile web article--no more 8 seconds of that dismal gray loading screen and subsequent abandonment by impatient readers. The articles will look sleeker than ever, as publishers are provided with “the same tools that an app developer has”. There is no need to learn sophisticated techniques, for Facebook has paved the way with simple codes. The same basic formatting of the original news site is used, but simplified to best fit a mobile device. Users can zoom into photos, comment within articles, and instantly watch embedded videos without even clicking. Any revenue from ads within the article goes straight to the publisher, and should the publisher turn to Facebook to manage advertisement through their Audience Network, the publisher receives a whopping 70% of the profits. News organizations are also receiving access to Facebook’s massive audience, so millions of new eyes will be scouring their speedy, shiny stories.

The articles were first proposed last fall as a promotional service. They were then launched on an experimental basis for the iPhone only in June, after partnering with nine large publishing corporations: Buzzfeed, The New York Times, National Geographic, The Atlantic, NBC News, The Guardian, BBC News, Bild, and Spiegel Online. Hearst, CNN and Time Inc. are planning on joining the fun soon. Before agreeing to the partnership, Buzzfeed made certain Facebook cooperated with various conditions, including compatibility with its quiz formats and specific analytic tools. Facebook obligingly agreed. And as for the companies that do not choose to partner with Facebook? Not to worry, no special treatment will be given to Instant Articles in users’ News Feeds. Equality for all.

....Or so it would seem

Fancy features and lightspeed loading times were not designed out of concern for a struggling publishing industry. These improvements were implemented to boost Facebook’s user experience. The company has already found that speed can change everything, as proven by skyrocketing ratings following the 2012 iOS relaunch. Ultimately, this efficiency means that people will not have to leave Facebook to read news, increasing time on the app and decreasing time on other sites. Just how far can they take this? How many tweaks and adjustments will be made to Instant Articles in the name of user experience?

Just think about Zynga, a company that would be nowhere without Facebook, but was also thwarted by its savior in response to cluttered News Feeds, shifts to mobile devices, and user dissatisfaction. While Facebook claims that no special treatment of Instant Articles will be allotted in News Feeds, the faster loading times will mean increased clicks, views and shares, therefore more presence on News Feeds than slower articles built on the increasingly archaic mobile web. This will pressure other publishers to join for fear of losing ground to those participating.

While Facebook’s service does grant access to a massive audience, publishers are slowly relinquishing ownership of their brands in exchange for this--as if Facebook needs any more control over web traffic. One study revealed that 88% of millennials get their news from Facebook, and the company is even surpassing Google in some avenues. Facebook referrals to Buzzfeed articles outnumbered Google’s in 2014. This is not surprising, as Buzzfeed was more or less designed for social media promotion, but it is still a testament to Facebook’s pre-existing prevalence in the information services industry.

Brand Devotion or Social Media Promotion?

Tentative Handshakes

The New York Times relies largely on digital subscriptions, but how long will those last now? The efficiency and accessibility of Instant Articles could lead to an increased preference for brevity, decreasing the number of deep readers and subsequently, digital subscribers. Another major revenue source is, obviously, online advertising. Despite permission to advertise within Instant Articles, many publishers fear that Facebook will become the main destination for news rather than their own sites, so as readers on the main site decline, so will advertisements.

The current publishing partners are not oblivious to the possible dangers of this arrangement. James Bennet, editor-in-chief of The Atlantic, claimed to be particularly cautious about the deal, as it meant allowing another company to control distribution means of his own. Executives of Bloomberg, AOL and Evolve Media also voiced apprehension on the matter.

Initially, the urgency to either join or fall behind makes sense. However, over time, once everyone has joined, the competition will even out once again, except this time it will all be beneath the umbrella of a single company. At this point, the majority of digital news will be dependent on its effect upon user experience. Some skeptics have pointed out that while Facebook may not blatantly censor any content, its algorithms have the power to do so indirectly. Content will have to be regulated as a part of quality control.

At this point, who is to say that Facebook won’t decide to alter its terms? And with a solid foundation of loyal readers and publishers dependent on Instant Articles for the majority of their article views, who would fight back?

A switch to Instant Articles means publishing companies will no longer adhere to the standard procedures of social media marketing rendered obsolete by Facebook.

Lose ownership? Or lose readers? Facebook has presented an ingenious ultimatum that will likely deliver them a monopoly over digital news and mobile browsing in general. Should this occur, freedom of the press will have effectively been caged.

 


choosing social media

Social Media Marketing: Which Platform Best Fits Your Business?

Online Marketing Strategies Geared Towards Older Folks

With a shift towards mobile devices and increase in professional social media users, online demographic data is different than you may expect.

Facebook

Let’s Talk Stats: Facebook still reigns as global social network champion, but its demographic is shifting as younger users leave and older users fill the void. The teenage user population has declined 25% in the past three years (roughly 3 million users) while the 55 and up crowd’s presence has grown by 80%. While surveys reveal that women are 10% more likely to use Facebook than men, overall these details are overshadowed by the fact that roughly 90% of social media users are on Facebook. A perk of integrating Facebook into your social media marketing strategy is the opportunity for user interaction via comments with no character restriction.

Long Story Short: Utilize Facebook if your online marketing strategy:

  • Targets a broad to global audience
  • Is Interactive
  • Targets Older Women

LinkedIn

Let’s Talk Stats: That well-dressed middle-aged man typing on his smartphone likely isn’t texting--chances are he’s checking his LinkedIn app. Over half of college-educated internet users use LinkedIn and 56% of LinkedIn members are male. The dominant industry of users is Information and Technology and Services. Unlike Facebook, a mere 13% of LinkedIn users are millennials. With 130,000 long-form posts published each week, this is a rather text-heavy site.

Long Story Short: Use LinkedIn as a platform if your business:

  • targets people of higher education around the globe
  • involves compelling and lengthy posts
  • is tech-related, or targets tech-related companies

Google+

Let’s Talk Stats: This business-oriented social network is often overshadowed by LinkedIn’s vast shadow, with only a fraction of its main competitor’s users. However, involvement on Google+ could have its benefits. Google+ “Communities” provide access to niche audiences, and the unique “Hangouts” feature facilitates more personal business-to-client relationships, as opposed to primarily B2B connections on LinkedIn. Hello, small business marketers! Also, it’s owned by Google, so any effective SEO content marketing has a shot at a higher ranking if posted here.

Long Story Short: Market on Google+ if your business:

  • targets a niche audience
  • targets mostly males
  • involves interactive, demonstrational or discussional content

Pinterest

Let’s Talk Stats: As elaborate wedding pinboards and bite-sized dessert collages may suggest, reports reveal the site is predominantly occupied by women (a whopping 68%), and even more significantly, nearly half of all women online have Pinterest accounts, compared to only 13% of online men. Half of Pinterest’s users have children, and almost a third have an annual household income of over $100,000.

Long Story Short: Choose Pinterest if your online marketing strategy:

    • targets wealthy mothers
    • is clothing or food-based
    • visually oriented

Online Marketing Strategies for the Youngsters

For the millennials, faster is better, so incorporating agile marketing into your social media strategy could work with the following platforms:

Instagram

Let’s Talk Stats: So where are all the youngun’s migrating? Instagram, it would seem. This phone-based platform is largely responsible for the online demographic shift. Over half of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram, and almost half of these people use it daily. Dominated by artsy photos of exotic locales and visually-appealing foods, it is not surprising that over 80% of American teens in wealthy households are on Instagram.

Long Story Short: Start choosing a flattering filter if your business:

      • can easily incorporate appealing visuals
      • targets users younger than 35
      • targets higher income users

Twitter

Let's Talk Stats: While Twitter boasts significantly less users than Facebook, ⅔ of its users are daily Tweeters. The largest percentage of Twitter users are between the ages of 18 and 24, and the majority of these users are male. However, like Google+, this apparent underdog has the upper hand when it comes to intimate, interest-based communities and discussions.

Long Story Short: Tweet away if your online marketing plan:

      • bursting with timely updates
      • targets younger men
      • targets a niche audience

Carefully planning when, where and to whom you are posting is vital for an effective social media campaign.

The roar of an irrelevant audience can drown out even impeccable SEO optimization.


Online Marketing Trends for 2015

The New Year has a penchant for introducing new technology and standards of best practices for online marketers. With user behavior evolving alongside technology, the ability to decipher which trends are worth following is essential for attracting and retaining customers. Successful businesses know that keeping an eye on industry trends in online marketing is required to keep them relevant and competitive for the long-term.Read more