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11 Ways to Make Visual Content More Effective

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Images are an integral part of the Internet, and they’re getting more important all the time. That’s mostly because images are a key part of human consciousness. Our brains process visual information much faster than text.

Social media and audience engagement is increasingly visually based, not text based. For evidence, think of Pinterest. Think of Instagram, Snapchat, or SlideShare. Think of YouTube, now the second-largest search engine.

There are dozens of studies that document how people share image-based content more than text-based. Earlier this year, eMarketer showed us that on Facebook, photographs crush all other media formats.

According to eMarketer, 87 percent of the most-shared posts on Facebook contain photos.

Moreover, Twitter published data that shows 35 percent of retweets contain photos.

Thirty-five percent of retweets contain photos, according to Twitter.

In other words, the data supporting images as the most viral kind of content is extensive. But trick is how to apply it to your day-to-day marketing. So here are 11 ways to leverage the power of the visual web in your content marketing. All of them are easy — and free or nearly free. And you won’t have to hire an art department.

Read on…

13 Awesome ‘Welcome’ Email Ideas

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Welcome emails are one of the first key steps to long-term success with email marketing. They build trust, reduce opt-outs, and get sales upfront. Welcome emails typically get three times the clicks and sales as a standard promotional email. They’re also a terrific way to get ready for Christmas, which will be only 114 days away as of September 1.

13 Awesome ‘Welcome’ Email Ideas

Send your welcome email out immediately, in real time. Do not “batch” your welcome emails. Batching is certainly more efficient for the server, but it wastes a critical moment.

Let your new subscribers know what to expect. Ever heard how “expectations are everything”? Well, they may not be everything, but they definitely matter, especially for welcome emails. Telling subscribers when they should expect to hear from you and what they should expect to get in their inbox is a proven way to increase readership and reduce opt-outs.

Use the welcome email to show the simplest and easiest way to start using your service, or to buy from you.

Show your new subscribers they’ve made a good decision.

Give your new subscribers a sense of community. Say something to make new readers feel like they’re part of something special.

Simplify your welcome message.

Include a reply email address that works.

Use your subscribers’ enthusiasm to leave some of the most valuable information they’ll ever tell you. If you only do one thing from this article, do this: Set up a welcome email that asks your new subscribers what’s the one thing they want to know about your niche.

Test your welcome email subject line.

Ask subscribers to follow you on social media.

Use the welcome email to get more information on your new subscribers’ preferences.

Personalize. 

Use a recognizable sender name and email address.

Read full article…

 

10 Common Content Marketing Mistakes

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Does your content marketing need an upgrade? See if you’re committing any of these common mistakes.

1. No Content Marketing Strategy

2. Not Using an Editorial Calendar

3. Not Using Keyword Research

4. Not Using Multiple Platforms and Formats

Have you heard of “the rise of the visual web”? Internet users want more than words. Blog posts are helpful, but infographics get shared more often. Tweets with images get shared twice as much as tweets without images.

To leverage new formats, make creating videos a habit. And always ask yourself if you could add an image. And don’t forget SlideShares, animated gifs, and podcasts. Want to make all this easier? Here’s a great app for creating social media images on the go: WordSwag, available on iTunes for $2.99. Canva is an excellent desktop alternative.

5. Content that Is Too Simplistic or Too Advanced

6. Not Using Personas

7. Content Is Not Actionable or Useful

8. No Call to Action

9. Creating Boring Content

For content marketers, being boring isn’t just… well, boring. It’s failure. Here are some common symptoms of boring content.

  • Similar content is easily found elsewhere (and done better).
  • A tiny bit of interesting content is watered down and made into much, much longer watered-down content.
  • The content is hard to understand (hard to read, hard to hear, or hard to understand how to use it).
  • The content has no personality. There is no playfulness to it.
  • The content is self-centered. It is a barely concealed advertorial.

10. Not Promoting your Content Enough

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Pick up on Current Events for Link Building

by Attracting a lot of attention with your website is one of the best ways to build links. Giving your website an active role in current events is a lot more efficient than creating the media attention from scratch. Here’s how you prepare your website for future events so you can attract links with your prompt response.

Pick up on Existing Attention

By focusing on events bound to happen but without a fixed date, you can outsmart the competition. Prepare an early response to one of the following examples.

  • Each year has its extreme weather and natural disasters somewhere on the globe. Charity initiatives with a lot of media attention are sure to follow.
  • Scandals in politics or involving celebrities happen each month. Funny responses get a lot of attention.
  • Elections come in many forms and at least once every four years they get an extreme amount on attention.
  • Famous people die. An ode to their work gets media attention. Eulogies are often pre-written, so why shouldn’t you prepare?
  • Movie premieres, electronics introductions, game launches, new albums, and concert tours all require a lot of attention and some of them are bound to get it. Help them with a message that boosts both your popularities and they might even cooperate.

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17 Ways to Jumpstart your Email Opt-in Box

WMT signup boxThere are dozens of things you can do to get more email subscribers. Hosting a webinar, pay-per-click advertising, guest blog posting, and Facebook contests are just a few of them. But the easiest way to grow your list is to improve your opt-in box. If your email list is barely growing, or even slowly shrinking due to list churn, consider these 17 items.

  • Have more than one opt-in form on each page of your site.
  • Give people a reason to sign up.
  • Don’t call your newsletter a newsletter. “Weekly updates” usually get far more subscribers than newsletters. Most of us are already subscribed to too many newsletters.
  • Test an e-course instead of a newsletter or a weekly update. Got a low opt-in rate? Try offering a free, emailed e-course and see if people aren’t more willing to sign up for that than for another newsletter. An e-course will also give you an opportunity to educate your prospective customers.
  • Use a pop-up.
  • Ask for as little information as possible in the opt-in box.

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7 Ways to Improve Email Subject Lines

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Subject lines are powerful elements of email campaigns. But that’s not really surprising. Subject lines are basically the headlines of an email message.

Headlines are something writers and editors agonize over, and for good reason. Copywriter coach Chris Marlow writes “tests have proven many times that the headline is responsible for at least 50 percent and as much as 75 percent of an ad’s success.” Some sources report that 35 percent of email subscribers will open an email based on the subject line alone, which almost seems low compared to the headline statistic.

Statistics aside, with so much riding on subject lines, it’s worthwhile review how to improve them. Here are seven ideas, in order of how well they’ve performed previously.

1. Use 6 to 10 Words

2. Personalization Is Worth the Effort

3. Use the Right Words

4. Use Calls-to-action

5. Be Specific

6. Capitalize Each Word

7. Limit Punctuation

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5 Easy Email Marketing A/B Tests

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Testing is one of the secrets to ecommerce success. But if you’re on a deadline or have limited resources, the pressure to get the email message done may outweigh all other concerns.

 

The good news is testing doesn’t have to be hard. There are plenty of simple A/B tests that deliver good results with very little effort. You won’t need an advanced degree in testing methodology or fancy analytics skills. And the best part is the results. These tests have made a major difference for thousands of email marketers — they will move the needle for you, too. Here are five easy tests you can run to improve your email marketing results.

 

1. Subject Lines

Subject line tests are the simplest, fastest tests. They can generate good results.

2. Call to Action

The call to action is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Get your call to action right, and you’ll have a successful email on your hands.

Sample call to action buttons from email messages.

3. Personalization

Have you, like so many other marketers, collected more than an email address on your opt-in forms, but rarely, if ever, use the data you’ve collected?

4. Delivery Times and Days

Timing may not be everything, but it sure can help — as in “double your click rates” kind of help.

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5 Last Minute Holiday Email Marketing Tips

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It’s nearly Halloween. It’s not too late to get started on holiday email campaigns, but there’s no time to waste. Thanksgiving comes late this year, pushing Cyber Monday all the way back to December 2. The usual holiday rush will feel even more rushed.

Follow these tips for your holiday email campaigns and you’ll be celebrating in no time.

1. Start as Early as Possible

2. Don’t Be Shy

Last year the average online retailer mailed 5.3 emails between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday

3. Don’t Miss Out on Free Shipping Day

4. ‘Tis the Season to Re-engage

5. Send a Holiday Gift Guide

Everybody’s busy, so make it easy for them. Holiday gift guides are an ideal way to do this, and often end up being an online retailer’s best-performing campaign of the season. Experian reports their clients received “48 percent higher transaction rates for gift guide emails when compared to other promotional mailings.”

Borrow a valuable tip from Experian’s study of holiday gift guides and include the word “Best” in the subject line promoting your holiday gift guide.

Experian studied subject lines of those gift guides and found adding the word “Best” to the subject line boosted opens and clicks by a factor of four or more.

Read on…

16 New Content Marketing Ideas

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Content marketing is one of the most effective ways to attract and engage clients and prospects. The problem is you need to keep creating content — lots of great content again and again.

Sooner or later, you’re going to run out of ideas. It can happen much sooner than later.

Keep this list handy for the next time you’re stuck. You’ll be back to creating terrific content again in a snap.

1. Curate

It’s okay to create a blog post of the best blogs in your industry. Or to create an infographic pulling data from reports put out by a group of different companies. Taking bits of related content and putting it together to show a body of work or to track a trend is a perfectly legitimate way to create content — and here’s a Social Media Today post to help with content curation. This is a good format for when you’re short on time because you probably already have a list of go-to blogs in your industry. You’ve already done the research.

2. Eavesdrop

The wild card of social media is you put content on the Internet, but what people do with it is beyond your control. Borrow a page from this concept for your content marketing. What are your customers doing with your products? How are your clients using your advice? Assemble a piece of content to show what the wider world has done with what you’ve given it.

3. Newsjack

Are there any related news items you could stretch to relate to your products or services? For instance, the World Meteorological Organization is considering a new type of cloud, undulatus asperatus, for inclusion in the International Cloud Atlas. Can you tie this “news” into anything your company does? Can you tie it to anything going on in your industry, or anything your clients or customers are dealing with? Can you even make a joke out of it, like “there is something new under the sun.”

4. Watch

YouTube is a treasure trove of ideas — wacky, wonderful, and otherwise. Spend 30 minutes wandering from video to video, related topic to related topic, until something triggers an idea. Don’t skip the comments either — they often spark as many ideas as the videos.

5. Question

Get out there and talk to your customers. Scary or not, there’s no better way to find out what your customers want to know than by asking them. This can take the form of surveys, but it can also be casual conversation. Conversation, in fact, often reveals topics a strict question and answer survey might not reveal.

Read on…

20 Quick-Win Tactics For Building A New Social Media Presence

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Starting from scratch can be intimidating, but there are plenty of ways to start stacking the deck in your favor right from the start. Here are 20 quick-win tactics for building a new social media presence on any network.

1. Fill In The Blanks

First things first: make sure that anyone who wants to find you, can. That means filling out your profile as completely as possible — including all the optional stuff! Pay special attention to your contact details and the words and phrases your audience might use to search for your brand.

2. Think Visual

A visual element (cover photo/profile picture/avatar/etc.) is likely the first thing potential audience members are going to see when considering you. Work ahead with a designer or on your own to make sure all your images are high resolution, properly sized and reflect your brand accurately.

3. Put Your Site To Work

Capitalize on the traffic you already have by adding follow/fan buttons for all your social networks to your site’s main page, about page, blog home and anywhere else that makes sense.

4. Tell Your Customers

If you have a physical location that customers visit, make sure there’s clear signage that shows off your social media accounts, how to join them and why someone should.

5. Add A Perk

Bonus points for adding an incentive to make it worthwhile for customers to act, like a special discount for showing you they follow you on Twitter or a coupon you can only access on Facebook.

6. Enlist Help

Spreading the word isn’t a one-person job. Make sure any employees are apprised of your new social media effort. Not only can they follow the new account to give you a temporary boost (hey, you need 30 Facebook fans to even see Insights; this is no time to stand on principle), they can also help spread the word to friends, clients and customers or even help come up with content ideas.

7. Assess The Field

You likely already know the brands that are competitive and complementary to yours. If not, do some quick research and brainstorming to find them. Find and follow all of them on your new account. Complementary brands might return the favor. As for competitors, now you can keep an eye on them. While you’re at it, connect to any major news sources for your industry.

8. Visualize Your Audience

OK, you may not have fans and followers yet. But you can already see them in your mind, right? What do they look like? What do they read? What do they watch on TV or at the movies? Marketers call this process “persona development,” but that’s just a fancy way to say “know your audience.” The clearer your picture of your intended audience, the easier it’ll be to find or create the type of content that’ll help them discover you.

9. Spy Shamelessly

Once you know your audience and you’ve got a bead on others in your industry, you know what it’s time for: brazen espionage. What are accounts similar to yours doing with their social strategy? What’s working, and what isn’t? Use this as a jumping-off point to learn from their mistakes and successes. Take what’s working and make it better.

10. Stockpile Shareable Content

Content that people want to share is your best bet when you’re starting out on a new social presence. Each share extends your network and introduces you to a larger audience. You’ll probably want to create your own, but there’s nothing wrong with sharing what’s already out there. Use discovery tools or comb your own network to unearth share-worthy stuff of various types (links, photos, videos, etc.)

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