Category Archives: Email Marketing

Why Slogans Matter

As the general election officially began, we set out to review the very basics - campaign slogans.

These short sound bites are designed, to sum up, the candidates’ overall positions and platforms in just a few easily repeatable words. The idea behind a campaign slogan is twofold: 1) convince voters to choose that candidate, and 2) create easy repeatability that can be chanted, repeated to friends, and maybe even go viral.

So how did the two major candidates do with their slogans? Without considering the issues, the candidates’ likeability, their platforms, or any other factor that will sway voters this November, let’s dissect just the actual slogans.

Hillary Clinton: We’re Stronger Together

With a lifetime of politics under her belt, including stints as First Lady, Secretary of State, and United States Senator, Hillary Clinton should be a master of campaign slogans, right? Yet an analysis shows that her slogan is not quite up to par. Here’s why:

1. Evoking Socialism: Hillary Clinton fought a fierce battle in the primaries against Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders. The fact that she beat him indicates that perhaps her party, nevermind America as a whole, rejected that particular ideal. Presumably, Clinton’s team is hoping to draw in Sanders’ fervent supporters, but the vaguely socialist connotation of the slogan’s word choice could be a risk in the national election.

 

2. Copycat Branding: Donald Trump has run his entire campaign on the idea that he is the strong, tough leader that America needs. No matter what you think of him, the bravado some might say is the total of what he is offering. While the Clinton campaign appears to be trying to differentiate its candidate by pointing out that no one person is as strong as an entire community working together, that idea is a bit high-minded for a slogan. Using the word “strong” enhances the appearance that Clinton is responding to Trump rather than defining the narrative herself.

 

3. Possible Alienation of Voters: Studies consistently show that the word “together” evokes the stereotypically feminine ideals of cooperation and empathy. Its use in a campaign slogan also implies that we should all aspire to work cooperatively with others. That message resonates with those who embrace those ideas, but what of those who embody the stereotypically male traits of independence, stoicism – the refusal to ask for directions? It will be a tough sell to convince these voters that they should suddenly reject individualism and embrace cooperation.

 

Donald Trump: Make America Great Again

Donald Trump’s brash, arrogant, dismissive manner has earned him rebukes and outright disdain from large segments of the voting public, and even key members of his own party. No matter what you think of him, the numbers show that he is a highly polarizing figure. Surely his campaign slogan is just as boorish and inflammatory, right? Surprisingly, he seems to have hit the mark with a slogan that will resonate with quite a few voters. Here’s how:

1. Aspirational Wording: Wherever your personal politics fall, and whatever your view of the issues, it is hard to deny that making America great is an excellent goal. The fact that the word “great” is so nebulous and non-specific makes this even stronger, as each person is free to project his or her unique vision of an ideal, ‘great’ America onto it.

 

2. American Identity: The inclusion of the word “America” suggests patriotism and national pride. We might all be wildly different from each other, but we all think of ourselves as Americans and are proud of that identity.

 

3. Loss and Hope: Notice that the slogan doesn’t tell us to make America great. It tells us to make America great *again*, suggesting that we were once great, but lost our way. However, the slogan assures us, we can make it right. Tapping into very primal emotions that acknowledge our individual and collective grief, and gives us hope for the future.

 

4. Nonthreatening and Inarguable Word Choices: While Clinton’s slogan uses a high-minded appeal to the power of collectivism, Trump’s slogan is intentionally so vague as to be all-inclusive. There is no direct way to disagree with the slogan’s content, it does not highlight any particular viewpoint, and it is simplistic enough to make an excellent soundbite.

Of course, elections are not decided by campaign slogans. Debates, press conferences, social media, and many other factors will play into the final results. Still, in a tightly contested race, every element matters. A slogan should provide a simple, tightly focused message in a compact package that is easy to remember and repeat. The power of a well-designed slogan should never be overlooked, as you never know when it might tip an undecided voter into one column or the other.

Disclaimer: Internal polling of First Source Interactive employees shows support for both candidates as well as neither. We will focus our election analysis on the branding and marketing aspects of the campaign and avoid political positions (which don’t matter anyway).

Creating A Digital Marketing Plan For 2016

As 2015 draws to a close, time to develop your digital marketing plan is quickly running out. Whether you are suffering from writer’s block or you simply cannot focus from drinking a bit too much eggnog, the following 4-step guide should help give you a kick start. However, before we look at the points, it is important to clear up a common misconception many people have about marketing by answering one question:

 Is your marketing plan trying to answer the wrong question?

I can bet that you and your marketing team are smart – probably even much smarter than I am. However, it makes no sense to be smart but use your skills and knowledge to answer the wrong question! Let me illustrate this point with an example: a couple of years ago, our company carried out a survey of more than 100 business owners, asking them one question:

“What is the #1 thing you would like to know about digital marketing?”

As is to be expected, the responses were varied, but most of them followed a common theme. Many of the business owners polled wanted to know, “Is there one marketing tactic that I can use to give me the best Return on Investment (ROI)?”

I am pretty confident that if we polled business owners again today, we would get the same question coming up because it is one that our clients keep asking us. Chances are you are also looking for the answer to this question too!

If you have asked yourself this question, then this article should make it clear that there is no single tactic or strategy that gives the best ROI. When developing your marketing plan, you should not look to find a single ‘holy grail’ trick. What your strategy should do instead is to combine multiple channels in order to come up with a unified way to improve your ROI.

Now that we have got that out of the way, we can now move to the 4 steps to creating a successful digital marketing plan.

Step 1: Define Your Goals For 2016

The most crucial step of planning your marketing strategy is defining your goals. However, you should not just have any goals; they should be SMART goals. This is a mnemonic which means Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Each of your strategy’s goals must meet each of those criteria.

Specific

It is common to hear business owners set vague goals like ‘we need more leads’ or ‘we should increase our sales.’ However, these are not real goals. How many more leads does the business need? How much growth is the business aiming for in 2016? If your goals are already set, be prepared to review them and make them as specific as possible.

Measurable

You must have measurable goals so that you know what progress you are making toward achieving them. When carrying out your digital marketing efforts, Google analytics can help you to measure how close or far you are from achieving your goals.

Achievable

Although it is a lot of fun to dream big and set your sights high, it is important that you give yourself targets that can be achieved within the next 12 months. The goals you set should not demoralize, but be a source of excitement and motivation.

Relevant

Does your goal matter in the bigger picture of your business’ success? Achieving your goal should have a direct impact on your bottom line. A #1 Google ranking for ‘New York pediatric surgeon’ is a goal that is specific, measurable and could be achievable, but does no good for the business of a doctor who does not deal with children.

Time-Bound

Because you are preparing your goals for 2016, the deadline for the achievement of your goals is December 31, 2016. Because some of your goals can (and should) be possible to achieve by then, set an appropriate completion date. Having deadlines for your goals is a great motivator to achieving them.

Step 2: Work Backwards When Defining Your Monthly Goals and KPIs

By this point, you should have set your goals. For example, your goal could be to generate sales of $1,000,000 in the next 12 months. This is a possible SMART goal if your business generated less than a million dollars in 2013.

Your next step is to figure out the future date you expect to hit this target and then work backwards. This is an important step as it allows you to identify the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you must track to eventually achieve your goal.

Although it may sound strange, a simple way to do this is to start by assuming it is December 31, 2016. Write down what the performance of your business looked like that month. Picturing what your future would look like is a simple mind game that is, however a critical part of planning for 2016.

This exercise will help you answer questions like: how many sales were necessary in December to hit your 2016 goal? To generate the $1 million mentioned above, it is necessary to generate $83,333 every month over 12 months. Of course, this is an oversimplified figure as you should plan to have growth month over month from January to December.

So, how many sales are necessary to generate $83,333 every month? If you have an average customer value of $500, you will need 167 sales every month. The next question is: To make 167 sales, how many leads do you require? If your lead conversion rate is 10%, you need to attract 1,670 leads. Looking at your website’s historical analytics figures, you may find that your visitor to lead conversion also stands at 10%. This means you need to have 16,700 visitors to your website every month in order to hit your sales target.

This example shows how working backwards makes it simple to identify KPIs for your business.

 Step 3: Get Real

The third step in developing an effective marketing plan for 2016 is to check your goals against the KPIs in step 2. Given your traffic statistics, is it possible for you to achieve visitor numbers of over 16,000 every month? Are the conversion rates you used attainable when measured against similar businesses or your own historical data?

Getting the answers to these questions requires a fair bit of research and probably some expert third-party advice. The key question is whether you generate enough traffic to help you achieve your goals. For instance, Google’s Keyword Planner may indicate that there are 100,000 searches every month for the product or service you offer; is it possible for your SEO and Google Adwords to deliver 16,000 visitors to your website?

Although 16% of all the searches for your keyword may not look like much, it is important to remember that – for most businesses – a 2% AdWords click through rate can be termed a successful campaign. It is recommended that you seek the advice of a Search Engine Marketing (SEM) expert to ensure that the goals you have set are achievable and realistic. If you discover that you have set unattainable goals, do not be ashamed to revise them. It is better to do this at the beginning than to spend 12 months chasing shadows.

Step 4: Assign Responsibilities

The last step of developing your strategy should be fairly straightforward. This step involves assigning a member of your team the responsibility for the implementation and measurement of monthly progress. If your plans for growth are big, you may need to hire someone specifically for this task, or outsource it to a different company.

Determining the Key Driver of New Sales

Picture, if you would, that you needed to simply keep an eye on only one number when you wanted to know how successful your marketing was. Wouldn’t this make marketing much simpler than it is right now?

Today, we live in an era where ‘big data’ is king, with marketers able to keep track of almost any parameter they can imagine; however, it is possible that tracking metrics in this way causes many businesses more harm than good.

Of course, being able to get all the data relating to your marketing efforts is often a good thing, but it is also possible for a digital marketer to be confused and overwhelmed by the incessant flow of different numbers.

For this reason, I recommend taking a completely different approach: Instead of trying to wrap your head around everything, it is important to find out what is the key driver for the success of your business. You can then concentrate on this number when developing your marketing strategy for 2016.

At this point, you are probably thinking…

Is It Possible For One Number To Drive The Success Of My Business?

Surely, this sounds too easy to be true. Could one number or metric really determine the success of my business?

As an example, let us examine something that almost everyone can understand – real estate. Right from the construction of a property to its final sale, it is obvious that real estate development is a complicated process. However, among all the data points involved, one number stands out as it determines the appearance of the building, how much it will be sold for, as well as how quickly the developer will be able to sell it.

This important number is the address!

Depending on the address of the property, the options available to the developer with regard to the size of their building and the décor they would like to incorporate into it may be limited. In addition to this, the developer or their realtor would need to carry out research on sales of comparable properties within the neighborhood to find out how much the building is worth and how quickly it is likely to be sold.

As a property developer, when you have just this one data point at hand, you will have an insight into the final sale way before you even begin construction. This is not to say that the other factors should be ignored, but is an illustration of the butterfly effect that one number could have on a business.

So, what effect does this have on your digital marketing campaigns?

Your Key Driver toward Business Success

It took me many painstaking hours of reviewing our sales and marketing data before I finally figured out what the key driver for the success of our company is. Much to my surprise, and contrary to what many would think, it was not the number of leads that our sales pipeline had generated…

Strangely enough, it was simply the email subscribers that we had in our database. If someone had told me that this was the case only a few months ago, I would have laughed them out of my office. Back then, it was inconceivable to me that a marketing agency’s business could be driven by email subscriptions.

However, I will show you how I came to this conclusion. By following the same method, you can analyze your own business and find the key driver for the success of your business.

How Do Your Sales Actually Come In?

When looking for the key driver of your business, the first question you must answer is: Where do my sales actually come from? This question is a tough one for many businesses, and getting the answer to it means that phone calls, in-person visits and web forms need to be meticulously tracked. The idea behind this is to have a way to determine the first point of contact between your business and your customers up until you make a sale and to gain an understanding of the steps in between.

In the case of our company, the majority of sales are generated through phone calls. But where do the phone calls come from in the first place? Many of the calls are scheduled after a prospective client fills out a form on our website. Aha! We are getting closer to the answer, but we are still not there… Where were the prospects before filling out the web form?

As it turns out, most were people who subscribed to our email newsletter. From this study, it is clear that email subscriptions are the key driver of our business, not form completions or phone calls.

See How It Works?

To find what drives the success of your business, start with the sales and work backwards to figure out what the source of your prospects is. Although this process takes a lot of hard work and patience before you can identify the patterns in your data, the rewards are worth it. Once you have identified what the key driver of your business it, you can now focus your energies and budget towards boosting that number.

Understanding Search Intent

Search intent’ is what lies behind every keyword used in internet search. In order to get a clearer picture of this concept, it is essential for you to look at the search process from the point of view of the person who is searching for the term you are considering for SEO. This will help you to better understand what the person is really looking for.

By carrying out this exercise, you will discover that most keywords can be put under one of two main search intent categories, namely:

  1. Research intent

  2. Buying intent

It goes without saying that the keywords categorized under research intent are those that people type into a search engine when their sole aim is looking to gain more knowledge on the particular keyword. For example, due to spending long hours seated at my desk, I started to experience episodes of back pain. I therefore searched Google for ‘back pain.’ The search resulted in several articles that outlined the causes and possible cures for back pain.

On the other hand, the keywords classified under buying intent are phrases that people type into search engines when they are looking to buy a product or service. In my case, it only took me a short while to realize that there are several products that have proven to be effective remedies for back pain such as anti-inflammatory drugs. I did not require any drugs, but if I did, I would likely have searched for a term like ‘anti-inflammatory chemists NYC.’ It is easy to see that this example keyword has much more buying intent than the initial search for ‘back pain.’

Now that you have a grasp of the concept of search intent, we will investigate how you can tailor your SEO strategy to take advantage of this knowledge.

Focus Your Efforts on Buying Intent Keywords

It can be easy to lose sight of the fact that SEO should aim to ultimately drive sales, not just help gain a higher Google ranking. Keeping this in mind, SEO efforts should be concentrated on buying intent keywords and phrases instead of research intent keywords.

If you fail to do this, you will end up wasting a lot of your time and investing a lot of money on keywords that boost your search rankings but do not drive any sales.

To be clear, focusing on buying intent does not mean completely ignoring research intent keywords; there is a lot of value to be found by ranking high for these types of keywords, but buying intent keywords should be your initial focus. In order for this to happen, your on-page optimization for the product or service should be relevant to buying intent.

Once your product or service pages have been fully optimized for buying intent keywords, you need to expand your focus to research intent keywords. However, this will need you to take a slightly different approach.

Using Research Intent Keywords to Widen Your Marketing Funnel

As I mentioned above, it is easy for you to target buying intent keywords because it is a matter of simply optimizing the relevant product pages on your website. In order to target keywords for research intent, it is likely that you will have to create new pages on your website. Often, the best way to do this is to create a completely new section of your website (for example, a Resource Center) which would contain pages that have information relevant to your industry and are optimized for the necessary research intent keywords. A blog also works as well as a Resource Center in this aspect.

Widening your marketing funnel in this way – through targeting of research intent keywords – ensures that you are able to capture prospective buyers much earlier within the sales cycle. For instance, I did not know anything about the various pain medications available when I was researching back pain.

After I had completed researching back pain, guess the product I would have bought if I felt I needed treatment for my back pain? You guessed right – I would be more inclined to purchase the product sold by the business that offered me the most useful information on the causes, symptoms and remedies for back pain. Put simply, publishing useful information that is optimized for people searching for research intent keywords helps you reach your prospective customers even before they know they require your product or service.

Of course, for this to be effective there is a catch…

A Lead Magnet Is Necessary

For effective conversion of traffic from research intent SEO to sales, it is vital to find a way to capture your visitors’ contact information and use it to follow up and pitch your product or service. Failing to do this will mean that you offer visitors to your website plenty of useful educational information, but they leave your website to purchase from a competitor.

A Lead Magnet is the most effective method of capturing visitor contact information. A lead magnet is valuable content that you offer to your website visitors for free, such as a checklist, guide, informational eBook or coupon in exchange for completing a form. Upon collecting the email address of your prospect, you will be able to do a follow-up message with more information regarding your product or service.

Your approach to SEO will mainly depend on the search intent of the phrases and keywords that you would like to rank for. The first step you should take is to optimize the pages that have details of your product or service for buying intent search phrases, and then optimize your general information pages for research intent keywords. You may then use a lead magnet, which is a tool to help convert researchers into buyers.

Send a Company Newsletter in 10 Simple Steps

In the New Year, email marketing is one of the best channels to reach paying customers and direct them to your products and services. Think of a newsletter as an opportunity to talk directly to your customers, who are bombarded by hundreds of adverts a day. Once you reach your audience, you are halfway to the big purchase, click-through, or social share.

To help you conquer the email marketing processing in 2014, we created 10 simple steps to sending your first company newsletter. We are sure your business will gain much value this list:

1. Pinpoint the purpose of your email newsletter.

All newsletters have an intention. Do you want to increase your subscriber base or to create an entirely new one? Are you trying to sell your company product or send valuable content to new coustomers? Whatever the purpose of your emails, the text should be concrete, lest your readers get confused on what you’re sending them.

2. Brainstorm content ideas.   

It is important to put a lot of time into what sort of content you think your readers enjoy. Think about which pieces of previous content resonated the most and conjure ideas from them. Write out as many ideas as necessary until you come upon a topic that looks promising.

3. Do your research.   

It’s one thing to brainstorm, but it’s another to do your own research. Look at what competitors are doing to satiate their audiences. Inquire about trends in the market about where your industry is heading. Ask your audience what they like to read about.

4. Decide upon a reliable email marketing application.

Many email applications offer low cost options, such as MailChimp, AWeber, and Constant Contact. They each provide pros and cons, so be sure to give each a proper assessment before making a commitment.

5. Choose an attractive email template.

In 2014, there are no excuses to publish poorly designed email content. Decide on a template that fits your brand and content.

6. Import your current email list.

If your business already owns a solid list of subscribers, import them into your new email subscription client. You do not need to transfer them all at once; sign up a fraction of the list to gauge interest.

7. Add a clear call-to-action.

Once your content is completely written for your newsletter, place clear calls-to-action where necessary. These call-to-actions can be links to blog posts, product pages, coupons, etc. as long as they coincide with your newsletter’s purpose.

8. Give your subscribers the ability to opt out.

As an important standard practice in nearly all email newsletters, give your subscribers the option to leave the list. This is not a call-to-action. Instead, it is an essential link that will direct the reader to a page where he or she can unsubscribe if they so choose.

9. Review and edit your email copy.

Examine your work, and make sure it is in tip-top shape. Are there any grammatical errors or misspelled words? Are your opening line and email subject bold enough to capture attention? Will the content create social shares, and is the call-to-action noticeable? It will not hurt to be cautious on every front and ask team members for help.

10. Send out your company newsletter on a regular basis.

Congratulations, you successfully sent out your first company email newsletter. Now keep it up! Send it out weekly, monthly, or even bi-monthly. Just remember that the newsletter should be of equal or higher quality than the content you normally provide. Make the work count and consistently add value to make it worth subscribing to.

How do you send your company newsletters? If you have some tips you’d like to share on email marketing for 2014, let us know in the comments below!

Top 10 Tools to Become an Email Marketing Expert

In addition to content and social media marketing, email marketing is the key to acquiring customers and generating revenue. Email is one of the best methods to keep in contact with your prospects and attain new clients. Furthermore, email is still one of the most profitable channels to reach customers, its ad revenue totaling $156 million in 2012.

However, how do you expect to create unstoppable email campaigns if you do not use the best tools for the job? Also, what happens if you do not have the necessary funds to replicate the success of other competitors and email marketers in the industry? Thankfully, a variety of email applications on the web offer free packages for up to a few hundred subscribers or so.

We’ve got the top 10 tools to help you become a skilled email marketing expert in no time flat! All of these options below are cheap and easy to utilize for your business. After checking all of them out, we hope you can make a proper decision!

MailChimp – MailChimp is one of the most frequently used email applications on the market. With editable signup forms, customizable social sharing integration, email templates, and a complete API to sync up to existing databases, MailChimp is the whole package. The service is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and allows you to send up to 12,000 emails a month. Quite the deal, we would say!

AWeber – AWeber is another strong tool in a marketer’s toolbox. It offers autoresponder follow-up, signup forms, and excellent email templates. We cannot forget to mention AWeber’s massive library of content that will carefully guide you on your way to becoming an email guru. Plans start at $19 per month for up to 500 subscribers.

Constant Contact – Constant Contact is one of the big behemoths in email marketing. Its many robust in-house tools work together to create a worthwhile event marketing and survey experience. Additionally, the application provides built in custom analytics, as well as social sharing features. Get started at Constant Contact with a 60-day free trial and pay up to $15 per month afterwards.

iContact – iContact is the email campaign tool made for the designer in mind. With several hundred customizable email templates and a crisp drag-and-drop interface, this tool is certain to pack a punch. In-depth history lookup for each of your contacts is also a huge win, if you want to keep in contact with your subscribers. The prices start out at $14 per month for 500 contacts.

Campaign Monitor – If you are considering sending beautiful newsletters, you might want to try Campaign Monitor. This tools showcases a variety of layouts to choose from and customizes your messaging. Moreover, all emails are mobile-optimized, which will effectively bring out business far above the rest.

GetResponse – GetResponse is one of the world’s largest email marketing boutiques. This platform allows you to create stunning landing pages and newsletters in minutes. You pay $15 per month for up to 1,000 subscribers! Take into account GetResponse’s drag-and-drop editor, and you’ve got yourself a massive deal.

Mailigen – Mailgen is a call to a new generation of integrated marketing, and it is one of the easiest ways to create and send newsletters! With social media tools and specific metric analysis, Mailgen offers quality features that make it a great email editing choice. Start with prices at $10 a month or 4 cents per sent email.

Elite Email – For more than 10 years, Elite Email has provided email marketing solutions that are like no other. With at least 400 email templates available at the start and up to 500 free email contacts, Elite Email is an effective email management piece. In addition, social media integration is built-in to perfection!

SendGrid – SendGrid provides reliable scalability and real-time analytics in one complete package. It relieves businesses of the cost of systems required to maintain a robust email marketing network. The SnedGrid service also gives  helpful information and guides customers to make sure campaigns are as effective as possible.

Activetrail – Activetrail seeks to introduce the next generation of email marketing: active email marketing. An email infrastructure like this in place comes free with 500 subscribers with a cap of 2,000 emails sent per month. Activetrail’s advanced reporting and $16 starting fee is essential for your business.

What tools do you use for your email marketing campaigns? How much has your business  learned from its targeted emails? Let us know in the comments below so we can all become better experts!