Monthly Archives: May 2016

How to Implement Kinder, Gentler Marketing: 4 All-Natural Truths

market without annoying your prospects and customers

I have a love/hate relationship with a soap company.

About five years ago, I stumbled across their products online. They boasted rare and unique scents and naturally-sourced ingredients. They were irresistible (to me, anyway). And their prices seemed reasonable.

So, I placed an order. And that’s when my troubles began.

I had to share my email address to complete my transaction. You know, to “receive an order confirmation.”

Within days, I found myself receiving marketing email after marketing email. Coupons. Special sales. New soaps. New scents. Free shipping.

I imagined their marketing department high-fiving one other and saying, “We’ve got one on the line. Quick! Reel her in!”

And you know what? The products I received were exceptional. They smelled amazing (I’m a sucker for a unique scent). So, I stuck it out for a while. But not forever.

Because I knew how wrong my experience was. I knew there was a better way to market your business. A kinder, gentler way — one that doesn’t alienate the very people you want to nurture.

Time went on.

I sent dozens of their catalogs to the landfill — a new one came in the mail every few weeks.

Finally, I gave up. After placing a few orders, I contacted the company and asked them to please — for the Love of All that Is Holy — stop sending me catalogs. I clicked the unsubscribe link in one of their many emails and used the form on their site to let them know why I was unsubscribing.

Then, I stopped hearing from them.

Here we go again: relearning a lesson

A lot has happened in the meantime. Life went on, and I forgot about this company’s overzealous marketing efforts.

A few weeks ago, when my husband asked me what I’d like for Mother’s Day, I said, “How about a gift certificate to (The Soap Company in Question)?” And my husband — smart man that he is — got me the gift certificate.

And guess what? It started all over again. Within just a couple of weeks, I have received three catalogs.

I take full responsibility for the situation. I got myself back on their radar and now I’m paying the price. I do still love their products, but I wish they understood modern marketing techniques as well as they clearly understand the soap business.

It’s obvious to me that they don’t read Copyblogger. Because if they did, they’d know the four basic truths of modern content marketing.

Let’s review them.

Truth #1: Content pulls; it doesn’t push

Rather than blanket prospects in catalogs and crowd their inboxes with sales emails, modern content marketing offers valuable, helpful, and even entertaining information.

The information is so helpful that prospects purposely sign up to receive it. And they stick around when the content they receive is consistently useful.

Read these posts to learn more about creating content that pulls (and doesn’t push):

Truth #2: Content offers; it doesn’t demand

Solid, effective content marketing doesn’t stomp its foot and demand in a whiny voice that you pay attention to it.

Instead, it confidently offers a hand — the exact information you need, right when you need it.

One way modern content marketers do this is by using marketing automation.

If my soap company had sent me a little brochure about how to save money on laundry day (and a coupon for their laundry soap), I would have held on to that piece of content. I might have posted it next to my washing machine! It wouldn’t have gone to a landfill like all those product catalogs.

Read these posts to learn more about making offers (not demands):

By the way, our Rainmaker Platform makes marketing automation a snap. :-)

Truth #3: Content entertains; it doesn’t annoy

One of the foundational truths about content marketing is that it must serve your audience if you want it to be effective (more on this below).

And one way to do this is to meet your audience — wherever they are — with content that is so compelling they want to consume it.

At Rainmaker Digital, we do just that with our podcast network, Rainmaker FM.

Podcasting isn’t a requirement, but it’s a great fit for those who are comfortable with audio — who are more comfortable talking than writing.

Read these posts to learn more about creating entertaining (not annoying) content:

Truth #4: Content is about the consumer, not the producer

Please repeat after me:

“I will resist the urge to constantly write about me, my offers, my company’s history, our goals, our mission statement, or our new products. Instead, I’m going to focus on writing about topics that serve my prospects and customers.”

It’s tough for traditional marketers to wrap their brains around this one. But your customers’ #1 concern isn’t you … it’s them.

That’s why, for example, if the soap company had sent me information about alternate ways to use their soaps (Perfume your pajama drawer! Hang one in your closet! Use it to repel mosquitos!), I would have stayed subscribed.

And an occasional offer woven into the helpful content wouldn’t have fazed me one bit.

A highly effective technique for serving your prospects’ and customers’ ongoing needs is creating a series of cornerstone content pages on your website.

Cornerstone pages serve up foundational information that your prospects and customers need to understand your field of expertise.

Read these posts to learn more about creating cornerstone content pages that serve your audience:

True confession

Here’s the painful truth: I spent the first part of my career creating exactly the kind of marketing materials my soap company is annoying me with now. Direct mail postcards. Sales catalogs. Promotional brochures.

But now I know there’s a better way. A kinder, gentler way to market your business, serve your prospects and customers, and create marketing that is valued, not sent straight to a landfill.

That’s the kind of marketing we teach inside our Authority program. To learn more about it, click the button below.

Learn to create kinder, gentler marketing
inside Authority

The post How to Implement Kinder, Gentler Marketing: 4 All-Natural Truths appeared first on Copyblogger.

OpenText Preps for New Acquisitions, Private Equity Firm Invests in MarTech

OpenText Preps for New Acquisitions, Private Equity Firm Invests in MarTech

OpenText is selling off $600 million worth of senior debt notes that could provide some pocket change for future acquisitions.  Officials at the Waterloo, Ontario-based enterprise information management provider told investors last week that the net proceeds would be used for “general corporate purposes, including potential future acquisitions.” OpenText  has always

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Ad Industry Group Forms Program to Fight Digital Fraud

Advertisers, digital marketers and publishers are fighting back against internet-related fraud, which siphons an estimated $8.2 billion annually from the US digital advertising supply chain. Ad fraud is defined as the deliberate practice of attempting to serve ads that have no potential to be viewed by a human user

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How to Build Trust With Your Subscribers Through Personalizing Your Emails

pexels-photo-69100This is a guest contribution from Bill Acholla of Billacholla.com.

Max E. Mailer is an email marketer.

Every day, Mailer would send hundreds of emails to carefully cultivated leads. Every day, he’d be disappointed by the lack of response to those emails on which he worked so hard.

What was the problem? Why wasn’t he managing to capture people’s attention?

Then, one fateful day, he did something new. He crafted a passionate email which was too precious to just throw out to some random people. He addressed each and every lead by their first name. He personalized the emails. Sales increased drastically. His company began to get noticed. And his life was never the same again.

Mailer’s problem is one that many of us encounter. But his solution is not what most of us go for. Let’s consider what the data suggests. According to a report, a staggering 94 percent of businesses say personalization is critical for their business. But, according to another report, only 5 percent of companies personalize extensively. 

Personalization works. And it makes sense too. Why would anyone be interested in seeing your email, no matter how crafted it is, if it doesn’t address them? None of us is Hillary Clinton except, of course, Hillary herself. The nation is not holding its breath to read our emails. This is why we personalize. But how do we do that exactly? That is the question.

Here Are The 6 Best Non-Obvious Email Personalization Techniques.

1. No Catch Free Stuff

Who doesn’t like receiving stuff for free? Granted, your organization is a business, not a charity. You are hoping to gain profit on its content, products, or services, not to distribute them for free. But this is a bitter pill you need to swallow to get your message out there.

“Compelling ideas and stories must reach a tipping point before they start to gain momentum. And the best way to push them over the edge is to be generous,” says Jeff Goins. “Giving away your work will allow future customers (or readers or fans or whatever) the opportunity to hear about it, see the value, and then reward you for it.”

Remember, your marketing emails need to provide value to the customer. No one deserves to spend their precious time reading your email without getting something out of it.

Here’s an example of a clever free stuff marketing strategy:

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2. Sending Oops Email

If you are a content or product marketer, you would know that mistakes happen. To err is human. If such a thing occurs, don’t worry. Don’t panic. It’s not the end of the world. In fact, it’s just the opposite. It’s an opportunity to connect with your customers or readers.

The best way to do that is to send oops email.

Sounds nice, but what exactly is an oops email? An oops email is when you send an email to your customer to apologize for some earlier mishap.

Whether your website crashed or you sent a wrong email earlier, oops email is the way to go. Just remember to use crafty subject lines to get better open rates.

Give the customers a chance to exonerate you and move on. To forgive is divine. And how can the customers not forgive you if you send an oops email like Urban Outfitters did?

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3. Sending Alert Emails

A triggered email alert program can do wonders in terms of attracting customer attention. It’s a smart marketing strategy as well. Not only is it marketing your content, product, or service, it’s also providing value to the customer by keeping them updated about the kind of stuff they’re interested in.

Automated, yet personalized, email alerts are a cheap and effective means of staying in touch with your customers. You can use any of the available email personalization software without even budgeting $1000 for content marketing.

Here’s an example of an email alert sign up form:

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.18.10 pm

4. Giving Subscribers New Content Before Anyone Else

When the customers subscribe, they’re doing you a favor. Remember that. And remember to pay them back for those favors. But how do you that?

One simple way to make your subscribers feel special is to offer them exclusive content before you offer it to anyone else.

This gives your subscribers a sense of exclusivity, a feeling of being in a club, being unique, being different from everyone else. According to Laura C. George, “this is a strategy that gets you email signups and, if you continue to do it well, makes them stick around.”

To give you a better idea of how to make the email recipients feel exclusive, here is one from Brian Dean of Backlinko:

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.19.53 pm

5. Letting Subscribers Control How Often They Hear From You

When it comes to email marketing, there’s a fine line between being consistently repetitive enough to let your message sink in and being annoying enough to turn your customers off or lose them entirely.

So, as a marketer, it’s your responsibility to control how often your customers hear from you.

In your email preferences, include a frequency option. Make it easy for the customers to unsubscribe from your emails, but also consider this: There’s a whole lot of ground to cover between sending 10 emails a day to a customer and letting them unsubscribe.

These two are opposite ends of the spectrum. Frequency preferences are what lie in between. They give the customer a flexible range of options to choose from. Used effectively, these can also act as one of the many email marketing metrics to assess your marketing strategy.

Bonobos does it in a clever way:

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.20.38 pm

6. Segmenting Which Type Of Content They Get From You

“If content is king, segmentation is queen,” says Paralee Walls. This is the best description of content or marketing segmentation. No matter how well-written your articles are, how high-quality your content is, or how qualified your experts are, it would all go to waste if it doesn’t reach the right audience.

So, you need to let the audience choose which type of content they get from you. For instance, if you are writing about various topics from politics to celebrity news, you need the right target audience for each topic.

This review website does it right:

Screen Shot 2016-05-30 at 2.21.44 pm

Content marketing can be frustrating for some, especially for those whose salaries depend on it. If you found any of this information helpful, share this article to get them out of tight spots.

Bill Achola is a content marketing consultant specializing in content writing and marketing at Billacholla.com. He works closely with B2B and B2C companies providing the right content that generates social shares, comments, and traffic back to their business blogs.

The post How to Build Trust With Your Subscribers Through Personalizing Your Emails appeared first on ProBlogger.

A Day to Be With Family and Remember

Sgt. Benton Thames inspects a sentinel before the sentinel begins his walk on the mat at Arlington National Cemetery.

“At the grave of a hero we end, not with sorrow at the inevitable loss, but with the contagion of his courage; and with a kind of desperate joy we go back to the fight.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. fought in the Civil War, enlisting with the Massachusetts militia during his senior year of college. He suffered numerous wounds and nearly died of dysentery.

After three years, in 1864, Holmes was able to walk away from military service. He would go on to live another 71 years, ultimately becoming one of the best-known and most oft-cited U.S. Supreme Court Justices in history. (He defined “clear and present danger,” for example.)

Holmes would serve all the way until just a couple of months before his 91st birthday. His was a full and vibrant life.

Unfortunately, so many of the men Holmes fought with and against in the Civil War did not make it home. Nor have so many of the men and women who have fought in the wars that have occurred since. So much life unlived. So much potential unable to be fulfilled.

Today, those of us in the U.S. pause to honor these men and women — those whose lives ended, as Holmes wrote, “at the grave of a hero.”

As Ronald Reagan said, “It’s a day to be with the family and remember.”

We’ll be back tomorrow with our usual content schedule.

*****

By the way, if you’re interested in learning the history of Memorial Day — did you know it was originally called “Decoration Day” or that a national moment of remembrance takes place at 3:00 p.m. local time? — here is a short video and article from the History Channel.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via A Nowak.

The post A Day to Be With Family and Remember appeared first on Copyblogger.

PB119: How to Choose the Right WordPress Theme for Your Blog

How to Decide on a WordPress Theme for Your Blog

Today I have a treat for you. Today we have a special guest, one of our new subject matter experts, Kelly Exeter from Swish Design. Kelly is one of those people who produces a heap of great content and also runs a business on the side. Kelly is one of the go to people in Australia when it comes to blog design.

ProBlogger_119

I received a question from Nils from Soul Thoughts who asks a question that many bloggers who are starting a blog. What is the best WordPress theme to choose for my blog (and how to make that decision). I’m not a designer, so I’m going to let our design expert Kelly share her tips on choosing the right WordPress Theme.

You can either listen to the episode via the podcast player above or check it out on iTunes or Stitcher. Alternatively if you prefer to read – Kelly has written up the full show below for you to keep coming back to including all the links and resources mentiond in the episode.

PB119: How to Choose the Right WordPress Theme for Your Blog

Hello! I’m here today to try and answer this very big question: What are the best themes to use if you have a WordPress blog?

And the very short answer to this is – there is no best theme. There are many themes out there that will work well for your needs. The hard part is narrowing down the list.

If you type ‘WordPress themes’ into Google you will usually end up some place like ThemeForest where, at current count, there are over 6000 themes to choose from. Even somewhere with a slightly smaller selection like Elegant Themes has 87 on offer and Studiopress, the home of Genesis themes has over 50.

So – how on earth do you choose the best theme for your needs from this wealth of choice?

Well, my number one suggestion is to stop looking in those theme libraries and start instead with the blogs out there whose designs you love.

Most WordPress themes these days are built on off-the-shelf templates which means that blog you love, you can access the same theme they’ve used.

A quick word about this however – that blog you love – is it their header you particularly love? Or their typography? Or their imagery?

If so, those are design elements that can be incorporated into any theme out there.

When you’re deciding on a theme, you really need to choose one based on it having a layout you like – so you like how their logo and menu are placed, how their blog archives are laid out, how their blogs posts are laid out, and most importantly, what elements they have on their home page and where those elements are positioned.

For example, if you choose the Metro Pro theme from Genesis – make sure you are choosing it because you like how it’s laid out … not because it has nice images.

image02

So – let’s say you love the new Being Boss blog design at beingboss.club and you’re thinking that could work well for you. The first thing you want to do is find out what theme they’re using. You do this by viewing the source code of the website.

To do this, type into your browser window: view-source:http://beingboss.club/

(NB: You can do this for any site by typing in view-source:FULLWEBSITEURL)

Once you’re viewing the source code do a search for this: wp-content/themes.

This will come up in a few places in the source code and the word that directly follows the word ‘themes’ in the source is the name of the theme.

image00

So for Being Boss, I can see their theme is called Art Mag.

If you then Google ‘Art Mag WordPress theme’ you’ll see it’s a theme you can buy from Themeforest for $49.

A word of caution – when you’re checking out your favourite website and you’re loving how they look and you’re thinking I’m saying just buy the same theme and your site can look like that too, there is a giant caveat here. If you’re loving how a site looks, it’s probably because they have killer imagery. If you don’t have the same killer imagery, then use the same theme as them all your like, your site won’t look like theirs.

image01

This, incidentally, is both a good and bad thing.

The bad comes from the disappointment you feel because your site doesn’t look as good as theirs.

The good comes from the fact that you can use exactly the same theme as someone else but your two sites will look quite different because you’re using different imagery, logo, fonts and colours. Just make sure your site uses great imagery and fontography and you’ll be fine.

Another thing that’s important to remember is that when you install that theme on your website, it needs to be set up to look like the demo version or the website you loved – it won’t look like that straight out of the box. If you’re able to follow instructions, then, using the theme documentation, you should be able to get the layout looking the way it way sold to you in the demo.

If you’re struggling, get in touch with the guys at ThemeValet.com. For $99 or thereabouts, they will set the theme up to look like the demo for you.

Another caveat – if your site has no pages and no posts (ie no content), it will be very difficult to get it looking like anything. So I always recommend creating at least an About and a Contact page and loading in 2-3 blog posts before loading in a theme and trying to make things look pretty.

Now – what if there aren’t any sites out there that have caught your eye? Well, some fairly common themes doing the rounds currently are:

  • Simple Mag which can be found on ThemeForest.com – this is particularly great if you’re looking for a magazine style layout.
  • If you’re looking for a more bloggy type layout then Foodie, Metro and Lifestyle Pro are all great looking, easy to use Genesis themes and can be found on StudioPress.com.

Note: with the Genesis themes you first have to install the based Genesis framework (which comes as a theme), then you install and activate whichever of the look and feel themes you’ve chosen.

Another really important thing you need to keep in mind when choosing themes these days is that they are responsive on mobile. Happily, most themes in most marketplaces these days are. All the themes I mention today certainly are.

Now, what about themes like Divi, Bridge and the X theme?

These are themes that allow you to set up your site pages pretty much any way you like via inbuilt Page Builders that allow you to drag and drop elements.

This sounds like a dream but in reality, I have found these Page Builders to be really slow and painful to use. You make a small tweak to say the padding around an image, or the size of a heading, for example, and then you have to save the draft of the page, and then preview it … it’s really slow going and frustrating.

Also – as much as these types of site sell themselves on being easy for non-tech savvy people to use, they’re just not.

Now, if you are quite tech savvy, these themes are amazing because they offer a huge amount of flexibility and design freedom. If you are not tech savvy, just do no go there – they will make you cry.

Of all the ‘Page Builder included’ themes out there (and I have seen many) – the one that has impressed me the most is the X theme. At Swish Design (my business) we have the ability to design and build custom themes and this is what I intended to do with my own website re-design at kellyexeter.com.au recently. I did the page design, and then because I needed the new design faster than my guys would be able to code it, I actually rebuilt the site using the X theme (+ Beaver Builder instead of the X Theme’s inbuilt Cornerstone builder) as a temporary measure. And guess what, it did the job so well I haven’t bothered to get my guys to code a custom theme for me after all.

No other theme like that – not Divi, not Bridge, not any of the several ones I’ve tried – have been as easy to use as X + Beaver Builder.   

So there you go.

As I mentioned at the start, pointing you in the right direction as to a ‘best theme’ for your needs is a very ‘how long is a piece of string’ question because there are so many variables to consider.

My major tip in this regard is that, if ever you’re in doubt, choose the simpler solution.

And remember, people are coming to your blog to read, and they’re mostly doing so on mobile. So as long as your theme is responsive, loads fast, and makes it easy to read your posts on mobile devices, you’ll already be ahead of the pack.

——-

Kelly Exeter has been a web and graphic designer for 15 years and has worked with WordPress for over 8 years. You can find her at Swish Design by day, and tinkering with her personal blog design at night.

How did you go with today’s episode?

I hope this has been helpful today. If you have more questions, I would be more than happy to tackle them myself or enlist one of our subject matter experts.

Disclaimer: ProBlogger is an affiliate for some themes and services mentioned in this article. We make a commission if you purchase these products which is how we keep the vast majority of what we do on ProBlogger free (and how Darren keeps his expensive coffee habit going). Affiliate products are carefully chosen and are always genuine recommendations of products that we either pay for and use ourselves or that come with strong recommendations from our trusted expert friends.

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