Autumn emails: Harvesting the best themes for the season

Unless you run a pumpkin farm, autumn sometimes brings a dip in business along with the drop in temperature. Many consumers take a spending breather after the expenses of summer vacations and back-to-school season, and before the traditional holiday shopping extravaganza begins.

The good news is that many of your competitors will likely take a bit of a marketing break, too. They’ll reserve their creativity, zest and drive for the upcoming holiday season. That means you’ll have less competition to catch consumers’ interest with your standout autumn marketing tactics!

Here are 10 clever autumnal email marketing themes, topics and tips to help your small business reap the lion’s share of the harvest this fall:

  1. Create and promote your own pre-holidays holiday. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa will soon grab all the attention. Before the traditional holiday frenzy hits, cook up your own promotional holiday. For example, a florist or nursery could stage a “First Mums of the Season” event. Clothing stores could sponsor a winter clothing sale and dub it “Sweater Weather Week.” Have a hardware store? Present a “Before the First Snowflake Falls” sale on must-have items like shovels and driveway salt. Promote your special events with great email subject lines.
  2. Invite customers to “rake in” the savings with a contest. Autumn leaves look lovely on trees — not so much on your lawn and driveway. People are going to be out there raking away, so why not invite them to rake in the savings, too? Send out an email announcing a contest in which participants enter by submitting a photo of themselves raking leaves. Offer prizes for categories like the prettiest, funniest and hardest working. Sweeten the deal by offering an email coupon for a discount or freebie to everyone who enters.
  3. Personalize Thanksgiving with a personal thanks. Thanksgiving seems to straddle the border between fall and winter, but whatever season you assign it to, it’s a great time to show your customers you appreciate their business. The week before Thanksgiving (because people are distracted the actual week of Thanksgiving), send out personalized thank you emails. If possible, go beyond simply inserting the customer’s name in your subject line and greeting. For important customers, it would be worth it to specifically mention something you’re grateful for — “Your purchase of 500 cases of premium widgets helped make our summer great, and we’re thankful for your business!” Or, try segmenting your email marketing list based on spending patterns and send customers emails with discount codes or coupons relevant to their purchasing habits.
  4. Ask customers to help you celebrate your small self! Small Business Saturday falls on Nov. 25 this year, celebrating the contributions small businesses like yours make to the national economy and local communities. Observe the day with a sale and ask customers to stop in and say hello. Send an email encouraging them to like the Small Business Saturday Facebook page.
  5. Stage a fall premiere costume contest. TV devotees find fall an exciting time, as many of their favorite shows return for new seasons, and new programs join network lineups. Use email to announce a costume contest, and invite customers to dress up as characters from their favorite fall shows. Set up a portal on your website where participants can submit photos of themselves in costumes and site visitors can vote on the best one.
  6. Get involved in politics — safely! Taking a stand in politics can be risky business, but promoting greater participation in the democratic process can be a win for your small company. It’s as simple as sending out an email before Election Day letting people know that anyone who comes into your store that day wearing an “I voted” sticker will receive a gift. It could be a small token with your business name on it, such as a stress ball, or a coupon for savings on a future purchase.
  7. Help out with “how-to’s.” Autumn brings a lot of questions for people. What’s the best type of backpack for my kindergartener? How do I know how much turkey I’ll need for my Thanksgiving dinner party? What’s the safest way to shovel snow and not hurt my back? How do I winterize my house, boat or car? Depending on your type of business, chances are you can help answer some of those questions. Send out informational emails with “how-to” explanations for topics that relate to your business. For example, a restaurant could offer advice on how to roast (and reheat) the perfect turkey. A spirits seller could offer advice on how to pair wine perfectly with favorite holiday foods. A pest-control company could provide information on keeping mice and other critters out of your home during cold weather.
  8. Promote “You’re Welcome Day.” Practically everyone will have a Black Friday promotion (you probably will, too), but you can also roll out something different by celebrating “You’re Welcome Day,” which is observed nationally the day after Thanksgiving. After everyone has said “thanks,” it seems only polite to respond: “You’re welcome.” Use email to announce the warm welcome you’ll give Black Friday shoppers — in the form of discounts, coupons, free in-store refreshments, giveaways and more.
  9. Score with a football-related promo. Fall is the season that marks the return of football — both live-action and fantasy. You can do your own version of a fantasy football league by adorning emails, your Facebook page or your blog with a link that takes users to a webpage where they can enter their email addresses, pick their favorite teams and make score predictions. In addition to the pride of competition, sweeten the deal by offering rewards for customers who make accurate predictions.
  10. Tease readers with what’s ahead. To quote Game of Thrones, “Winter is coming.” Smart small business owners plan their holiday promotions well in advance. Why not send out an email that teases customers with tidbits of information about upcoming sales, promotions, events and celebrations? It’s a way to build excitement among your customer base for the holiday season!

Autumn promotions can be just as hot for business as spring and summer email marketing efforts. All you need is some creativity and a great email list.

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Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and relevance.

© 2017, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

The post Autumn emails: Harvesting the best themes for the season appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Vertical Response Blog

Create CTAs readers can’t resist

Editor’s note: For this blog post, we asked Reid Yoshimoto, one of our email marketing experts, to weigh in on the best way to create compelling call to action (CTA) buttons for your email campaigns. Here’s what he had to say:

As a marketer, I’m always looking for ways to get our customers more engaged. As a result, I’m always testing. I test subject lines to see what increases open rates, I test email templates to discover what increases click-through rates, and I test call to action buttons to see what gets people to click on them.

Testing your CTAs isn’t difficult. Just put some thought into it first. What is it you want to test? What results do you want to see, and what do you want to do with the data? I’ve always put together a simple test matrix for any sort of A/B testing that I do, so it’s easy for me to track what I tested and what the result was. You can put together a quick and easy test matrix with a spreadsheet, naming your columns Date, Goal, Test Detail and Results. And remember, with any test, it’s important to change only one element at a time and keep everything else constant, so you don’t skew your results. Here’s a test matrix I used recently:


If you plan on running a CTA test, here are three simple variables to try:

1. Color

Blue or red? Green or yellow? Something else? I’ve used a variety of colors with emails campaigns we’ve created for our subscribers. Both red and blue have been effective in our campaigns. Pick colors that make the CTA the dominant element of the email, which will grab the reader’s attention. Text color is equally important — darker backgrounds require lighter text to make them stand out, and vice versa.

2. Text

Take a look at the content of your email. Is it a promotion? Lines such as BUY NOW or SAVE TODAY or even ADD TO CART encourage a customer to complete an order or take advantage of your offer. Is the email about educating your customer? Text such as LEARN MORE or READ MORE invites them to get information about your product in one easy click. Here are some text variations that we’ve tested:

3. Placement

Top or bottom? How many buttons should you put? Test, test and test again. Place a button at the bottom of one email, and place another button at the center of a different email. Remember your readers use a variety of devices to view your emails, so the seemingly obvious placement may not always be your winner. If you have two buttons in any given email, then try using color as your variable: one email with blue buttons, for instance, and one email with red buttons. Keep your test simple and, again, be sure to only test one variable each time. If you have too many variables in one test, then your results won’t be conclusive.

Set goals and ask yourself what you want to learn from conducting a CTA button test. Color can dominate an email, text makes an action clear and placement gives you a sense of where your customers’ eyes are. All the results you reap give you additional insights into your contact list and tell you how to ultimately encourage your customers to take action. Start testing today.

Join 140,000 small business owners

Get expert tips and email inspiration biweekly. Subscribe today and download our FREE Guide to Email List Management eBook.


© 2017, Reid Yoshimoto. All rights reserved.

The post Create CTAs readers can’t resist appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Vertical Response Blog

Why Are We So Afraid To Speak To Our Customers?

Often in business we get too bogged down by the numbers and forget the actual value of speaking with our customers and prospects. I’m not just talking about sending the quarterly customer satisfaction survey, I’m talking about undertaking full qualitative user testing and research to fully understand your customers. Since 2003, businesses and organizations have been able to gauge customer feedback by utilizing services such as Net Promoter Score (NPS) or online review sites such as Feefo and Trustpilot. In the case of NPS, after a transaction, the customer is presented with a form whereby they indicate their level of…

The post Why Are We So Afraid To Speak To Our Customers? appeared first on The Daily Egg.

The Daily Egg

A Stupidly Simple Guide to Taking Action, Finding Clarity & Getting Clients Right Away (FS231)

One of the things we hear most often is that people want CLARITY in order to get started.

They feel overwhelmed and murky, like they would totally get started if only they knew what to DO! Maybe you feel like you need answers before you begin, because you have to get this right.

Today, we are flipping that. I know you think you need CLARITY in order to take ACTION.

But today, we’re out to prove that CLARITY comes from ACTION.

Perhaps the very best part is that you don’t have to buy anything to start doing this. Not from us, not from any other marketing wizards on the internet (and please don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise.)

As you’re going to hear in today’s real life stories, you just need an internet connection and some conversation in order to make seriously meaningful progress.

“Clarity comes from action — NOT the other way around.”
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Being an entrepreneur is being comfortable in the murkiness.

You DESERVE progress, the opportunity to learn, to get your hands dirty, to really do this.

And if you never get started, you risk giving up before you even begin.

Instead of frustration and defeat, you stand to gain traction, clarity, money and serious in-the-trenches learning to give your business wings.

The subjects of today’s podcast could have easily just stayed stuck just waiting for stuff to happen. Instead, they took action.

Today’s episode was inspired by a Fizzler named Peter. After hearing a recent Courage & Clarity episode featuring Jessica Eley, Peter realized there are actually two kinds of money to focus on earning.

“Quick & dirty” vs. “Fun & Purposeful”

When you dreamt of becoming an entrepreneur earning an independent living doing something you deeply care about, chances are you were thinking of your fun & purposeful revenue.

It’s completely possible to make money doing the work you feel called to do: it’s your big picture, passion-fueled business idea.

Fun & purposeful revenue is fantastic — it’s the dream! — but as you may have experienced, figuring out how to “make it work” is where lots of newbie business builders stall out.

Enter the “quick & dirty money” approach.

Now, full disclosure: I totally learned this from Jessica Eley. She’s a bonafide money mindset mastermind, so if you want more on this, definitely go check out the whole episode.

Chasing after your big & bold business dreams with little to no experience is kind of like trying to accelerate from 0 to 100 miles per hour. It’s the reason you get stuck before you ever start, why you chase your tail seeking “clarity” that never comes.

But since clarity comes from action, that means we have to do something.

So the question is, what are you good at? What comes to you so naturally, you could pop into a Facebook group or forum right now and start helping someone?

Sure, this might not be the kind of work you want to do forever. In fact, it might not have anything to do with your fun & purposeful business idea.

But a few BIG things can happen as a result of this action. You can make money. You can gain confidence. You can learn what you love about entrepreneurship (and what you can’t stand!)

And you can find — you guessed it — clarity.

Real life examples: clarity comes from action

Okay, onto our friend Peter. Here’s his story:

“After spending a few weeks unsure of where to proceed after I declared my previous business project a failure, I decided to take some action.

On a whim, I emailed some local yoga studio owners to ask whether I could briefly interview them about how they use email marketing automation in their business. I’ve been excited about email marketing automation for a while and I usually like yogis, so I figured why not?

One yoga studio owner responded, I met him for coffee and then another time for lunch, and now I’m doing freelance work for him for his yoga studio business and for his wife’s handmade jewelry business. My background as a consultant came in handy, because it turns out my client really wants to make analytics-based business decisions, and I have a lot of experience analyzing data, making the data easy to understand for others, and helping them make business decisions based on the data.”

I’m treating this freelance project as an experiment to figure out what kind of business would suit me.

Now, why am I so excited about this? Because I’m actually doing something. I have no idea whether I’ll continue to enjoy this sort of work, but I’m doing things, will make some money, and I’m learning about what I like and what I’m good at (and what I don’t like and what I’m bad at).

I had been so exhausted trying to plan my perfect business that I just wanted to try anything. And guess what? Jessica and Steph were right: action does result in clarity.”

Pretty compelling, right? Here’s a guy who went from “previous business project failure” (his words) to traction, progress & action just by grabbing coffee with a business he could help.

In case you’re skeptical about whether being generous with your expertise can actually lead to anything, here’s another story we had to dig up from another Fizzler, Joe. It’s one of our favorites:

“I went on 4 of the most popular subreddits and I put up a simple thread.

I essentially briefly stated my experience and qualifications and said, “I’m not here to charge anything. Just want to know what your problems are and how I can help you.”

Ho…ly…SH*T! The threads blew UP. I learned more in a day than I had in a month. Over the last 2 days since I posted, I just started working my A** off responding to every single response.

And I mean detailed responses. I put effort into these. Curating information. Giving tailored advice. Essentially giving away the farm here.

And guess what, I started noticing VERY consistent patterns. You know what a copy and paste response means? THIS IS A COMMON PROBLEM! Every person was responding back so thankful.

And then, something happened I wasn’t expecting… I started getting tons of private messages.”

Take action: what do you want to get clear on?

You haven’t forgotten the golden rule of entrepreneurship, right? Every single thing in your business is an experiment. (If you don’t know that rule yet, check out the roadmap.)

This whole thing we’re talking about is one big test. It’s important to know what it is you want to learn before you start jumping in to help people.

So what is it that you’re unclear on in your business?

What big existential questions keep you from taking action? Write them down. Make sure you know them. By taking action, you’re going to wind up answering these.

Peter was awesome enough to share his personal set of questions in the Fizzle forums. Here’s what he wants to find out during this action experiment:

  • Do I like setting up email marketing automation for people?
  • Do I like analyzing website data for people to base business decisions on?
  • Do I like presenting myself as a freelancer?
  • Do I like working with businesses, rather than consumers?

So whatever answers you seek in your business, capture them and start learning. We think you’ll be shocked at how much clarity the action really delivers.

And let us know: are you taking action with this approach? Are you ready to gain traction with your expertise, right now, today?

When you stop waiting for clarity, the only thing left do is take action.

Take Deeper Action

Many of us need extra help to get into the mode of ACTION. Many of us seem to be better at ideas than we are at execution.

For those of you who KNOW you want to become a person of action, not just ideas, we’ve made a podcast episode about this topic for you. Please be our guest and enjoy it!

Subscribe (how to)   iTunes   Overcast   Pocket Casts   Stitcher   Google Play   RSS  


The 4 elements every event landing page needs

From product launch parties to community meetups, from holiday celebrations to webinars — events are an excellent way to build relationships with your customers. But before you can build those relationships, you must first reach your customers. Event marketing online is the key to engaging your audience and generating awareness. While most business owners lean heavily on email marketing and social media to spread the word, your digital promotion and marketing efforts can be amplified with landing pages. 

A landing page is a targeted web page that is designed to prompt visitors to take a specific action. We’ve written a lot about how they can be used to collect leads, build your email list and generate revenue, but they’re especially useful when it’s time to encourage customers to participate in an event. To help you create a page that has the greatest impact, we’ve put together a quick guide. Before you publish your landing page, make sure to follow these four tips.

Don’t underestimate the power of design

It’s no secret that consumers prefer to engage with beautifully designed content. So spend some time thinking about the look and feel of your landing page.

All images should be high in quality and complement your messaging. Your layout should be uncluttered and easy to navigate.

The Wildlife Conservation Network created a very simple but striking landing page to promote their annual conference and an upcoming talk by Jane Goodall. The image is striking and high quality, and it aligns with the message. It also demonstrates that the design need not be elaborate to be effective.  

To really make your page pop and resonate with visitors, consider using a color scheme that thematically matches the occasion you’re promoting. Are you throwing an in-store anniversary celebration? Then vibrant, multi-colored graphics would capture the spirit of the event. Hosting a company webinar? Use your brand colors and logo.

Your landing page will set your readers’ expectations for the event. As the copy explicitly communicates the “what,” “where” and “why” of the occasion, the design establishes the tone. So if you want to entice your audience and get them excited about what’s to come, make sure that your landing page is visually appealing.

Limit your focus

As you’re building your landing page, you may be tempted to include background information or news about your company that isn’t directly related to the event. But it’s important to remember that landing pages are an effective tool because they have a specific objective. While your business’s website provides visitors with a comprehensive understanding of your organization and serves multiple purposes, a landing page is designed to tightly focus your audience’s attention on a particular goal, such as encouraging them to RSVP to your event.     

Do not include irrelevant links or content that distracts visitors from taking the desired action, like filling out that RSVP form. You maximize the impact of your page if you stay on topic, presenting readers with the most pertinent details, such as the time of the event, the date, the location, the schedule or performers list, an explanation of the occasion and anything else that might encourage them to attend. 

Have a clear call to action

Once your audience lands on this event page, what do you want them to do? Would you like them to register for the event? Buy tickets? Sign up to your email list to get notifications? Before you design your page, develop a clear goal. Once you figure that out, it’s critical that your messaging be direct and easy to understand. In this example from Urban Outfitters, the prominent RSVP call to action at the top of the page makes it obvious what the reader is supposed to do.

Let your audience know how they’ll benefit

Convey the value you’re offering by using copy that’s plain and concise. In just a few words, the above example from Urban Outfitters does a good job of showing how attendees will benefit from the event. Not only will they get to learn something at this workshop, but they’ll also receive a discount on merchandise and complimentary snacks. Of course, it isn’t necessary to offer monetary compensation or free food. The value that the event provides could simply be the speaker at the venue. But whatever that benefit is, if you’re direct about it, your message will have more impact.  

It takes a lot of effort to organize and launch an event. But you can make the promotion process easier with a well-designed landing page. VerticalResponse’s Landing Page creator makes it a snap to build and publish these vital marketing tools, often within minutes. If you follow the guidelines above and focus on incorporating the essential details into your VerticalResponse Landing Page, you’ll generate awareness and leads – and set the stage for a successful event. 

Spend less time reaching more customers

Try VerticalResponse today

(It’s free!)


© 2017, Amber Humphrey. All rights reserved.

The post The 4 elements every event landing page needs appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Vertical Response Blog

Three Ways to Measure Success in the Engagement Economy

Metrics, metrics everywhere, and still no way to know how you’re doing.

That might be an exaggeration, but it’s certainly the way it can feel sometimes, especially in an era where interactions, data, and real-time customer feedback are at an all-time high.

I recently attended an interview our Global Vice President of Product Marketing, Matt Zilli, did with theCUBE, on how to address success in the Engagement Economy.

In this blog, you’ll find three key tips that can help you examine your approach to engagement from Matt Zilli. 

Engagement Is the Currency Companies Need to Thrive

In a sea of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, one unit of exchange stands out above the rest: engagement.

Anyone can send out a message to the masses, and it used to be that quantity was all you needed to make a mark. But today, with the sheer volume of digital marketing chatter out there, it’s true engagement that will make the difference. An organization can send out a million emails knowing that 100,000 people will open them and a smaller subset will even click on the content, but without a relevant narrative, the interaction is not sustainable.

As Matt put it, “We can go blast a message out all over the world, and just hope that one small percentage point of those folks will actually engage with us, and that’s just not going to work anymore. The real key movement forward is how the companies really deeply engage with their audience, with their customers, with their potential customers.”

AI to the Rescue

The good news: marketers are aware of how much data they have and are starting to use more of it than ever before to inform their marketing. The bad news? Data is still sitting silos within organizations. Siloed data means that marketers are still not getting one complete picture of their customer and still not letting them personalize their outreach for the best thing for each individual customer.

But there’s hope! And that hope is artificial intelligence. Matt says, “Over the next few years, a combination of AI technologies will do a lot of the heavy lifting, of looking at the data and gleaning insights from it and getting them to a marketer or somebody else driving customer experience so they naturally use it to do something informed for a specific customer.”

They Like Me, They Like Me Not

In the Engagement Economy, how do marketers know if they’re truly doing a good job? We’ve spoken previously about alignment metrics and the impact of customer advocacy, both of which point back to something critical: customer sentiment. It’s imperative that organizations find ways to get a real pulse on how both their current and potential customers feel about their brand. Luckily, there’s no shortage of options for how brands can acquire that feedback today, from market research to do-it-yourself surveys to simply getting out in the field and having conversations.

To quote Matt, “You have to seek the answers to find out how good of a job you’re doing versus looking at the efforts you’re putting in place. It can be a challenge for a lot of companies to get out there and try to gain an objective understanding.”

There will likely be surprises, but these surprises or gaps in perception present opportunities for brands to address and move the needle.

Want to Learn More?

Here’s the full video, and be sure to come back for more insights from the next video in our Engagement Economy video series with theCUBE. After you watch, I’d love to hear about what else you learned. Be sure to tell me in the comments!

The post Three Ways to Measure Success in the Engagement Economy appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

Marketo Marketing Blog

Generate more leads with Shopify and BigCommerce plugins

One of our main goals at VerticalResponse is making email marketing easier and faster. With that in mind, we recently launched a WordPress plugin that embeds a contact form right on your website or landing page, allowing you to easily generate leads and add email subscribers to your contact lists.

Now we’re introducing similar plugins for your BigCommerce and Shopify websites. When you install the applicable plugin on your site, your site visitors’ contact information flows seamlessly to your list in VerticalResponse — which means you no longer have to add subscribers manually.

You don’t need any tech or coding skills to integrate these plugins, and they’re completely free. Additionally, you can make them look and perform exactly the way you want because they’re fully customizable.

Why should you use VerticalResponse’s plugins with your BigCommerce or Shopify site?

Growing subscribers and generating leads are key contributors to business growth. These two plugins make it easy. Here’s how:

  • Grow your subscribers and leads by collecting the information you want: email address, phone, name, birth date, gender, company, title, website, geographic location and more.  
  • Customization is simple, allowing you to change the look and performance of each plugin so it’s an extension of your site and your branding.
  • Place the contact form where you want on your website, or decide what triggers it to appear if you create it as a pop-up.
  • Save time by seamlessly adding new contacts to your VerticalResponse account without having to manually enter them.
  • If you want, automatically send emails to new contacts when they sign up.
  • Finally, get detailed reporting on subscribers who use the form.

How do the contact form plugins work?

Once you download the free plugin from the BigCommerce app store or Shopify app store, start customizing your contact form: 

1. Select the information you want to request from your customers, including name, email address, physical address, phone number and so on. Simply drag and drop the fields you want.

2. Change the appearance of the contact form, or set it to appear as a pop-up. Preview it right in the editor.

3. Link your VerticalResponse account and determine which contact list you want the information to flow to. When visitors enter their information on your website, that will migrate directly into the contact list you selected.

4. If you want, use VerticalResponse’s Email Automation feature to set up an automatic email message to welcome new subscribers.

5. Finally, add the plugin to your website, and you’re all set! (You can always deactivate or reactivate it from the VerticalResponse plugin page.)

We’re always developing new ways to make email marketing even easier. Keep your eyes on this space for new plugin announcements!

Don’t have a VerticalResponse account but still want to take advantage of these plugins? No problem at all — sign up for a free account today.

Spend less time reaching more customers

Try VerticalResponse today

(It’s free!)

© 2017, John Habib. All rights reserved.

The post Generate more leads with Shopify and BigCommerce plugins appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Vertical Response Blog

How to ensure you ask the right questions of your data

Our team at Google recently talked to web analysts who say they spend half their time answering basic analytics questions for other people in their organization.

In fact, a recent report from Forrester found 57% of marketers find it difficult to give their stakeholders in different functions access to their data and insights.

To help, our team at Google recently launched a new feature in Analytics to help you better understand “what happened?” questions of your data, such as “how many visitors to my site from California arrived via paid search?”

But the right “why and what next” questions are not always so easy to consider, let alone answer. Posing the wrong questions wastes precious time, and with only so many hours in the day to use your data effectively, you need to become really skilled at knowing what questions to ask when analyzing results so you find answers that are actionable and relevant.

Let’s go through some ways you can get better at this.

1. Have the right objectives and KPIs established before your team begins executing

I’ve advised countless companies on measurement planning over the years, and continue to stress the importance of this both online and at events.

If you haven’t conducted measurement planning and established what your success metrics are up front, get started today. Without this, you will never ask the right questions of your data because you’ll always be boiling the analytics ocean instead of focusing on the metrics that really matter.

Establishing objectives and KPIs is the best thing you can do to ensure you always ask relevant questions that lead to actions that will actually be taken, and which are aligned with your business. 

2. No analysts work in a silo; know what all your different teams are doing

If you are sitting in your analyst ivory tower all day, ultimately you will ask questions you think are interesting, but perhaps not ones which have answers your team cares about, or even really impact your business.

Don’t be isolated; rather, spend time with your different teams so you have your finger on the pulse of their projects and goals – you will then be far better positioned to help them.

3. Automate your reporting so you can spend more time asking questions of data

Updating custom dashboards, spreadsheets, and reports manually is a time-consuming process. It’s also one no one really enjoys doing.

Sure, it’s quicker to do it once, but over time, automation will save you a lot of effort, effort which is better spent asking questions of your data to tease out meaningful insights to inform your marketing.

In a previous column on ClickZ, Search Engine Watch’s sister site, I outlined some ways to get started with automating dashboard updates in order to focus your time on analysis.

4. Executive summaries of your dashboards shared with your team are a chance for real-time feedback

As I’ve shared before in my piece ‘Five steps to report marketing results like a boss‘, never send a dashboard without an executive summary outlining the main takeaways.

Your summary inevitably will include insights from questions you asked of your data when reviewing the visualizations and trends. And this summary in turn will almost always generate responses from those who you have the dashboard tailored for – all too critical for us as analysts to close the feedback loop on our analysis. Don’t ignore it.

5. Don’t waste too much time on unanswerable questions

We’ve all been there when a team member asks you a question about an outlier in a given month. Maybe you had a huge spike in high bounce traffic you can’t seem to find a reason for.

Usually in these such cases it didn’t matter anyway, other than satisfying someone’s curiosity – but you could spend hours on end going down the rabbit hole to try and determine why something happened that might not have been that important in the first place.

In my experience nearly all the “unanswerable” questions end up being ones which didn’t matter much anyway.

6. Educate your wider marketing team on the data sources your company has access to

Without knowing what it is your analysis tools are capturing, you can’t meaningfully ask good questions. So as part of onboarding new team members be sure you educate them on what data sources you have access to.

The other benefit on educating your team is if someone senior like your CMO asks a question beyond the scope of your current reporting capabilities, it can be a good opportunity to research how you might answer that question and potentially ask for an increased budget if required (something we all want more of).

Search Engine Watch

6 Writing and Productivity Rituals from the Copyblogger Creative Team

I’ve said for a long time … writers are magicians. We make something out of nothing. We take syllables and turn them into dreams, sights, sounds. Calls to action and detailed plans for shenanigans. And as every magician knows, if you want to perform magic … you have to know a thing or two about
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The post 6 Writing and Productivity Rituals from the Copyblogger Creative Team appeared first on Copyblogger.


What Makes a Good, Un-Sleazy Lead Magnet? 9 Utterly Clear Examples

What Makes a Good, Un-Sleazy Lead Magnet? 9 Utterly Clear Examples

Email is the centerpiece of modern indie businesses. It’s a critical way we engage with our audience for direct sales and relationship.

So, all us modern entrepreneurs know we need to be growing our email lists. And by now most of us have been to websites offering something for free via an email capture form.

You know the ones? “Get my 10 best dance moves cheat-sheet, just enter your email and I’ll send it right over to you!”

These are called “lead magnets” or “freebies” or “opt-in incentives,” and they are insanely effective for growing your email list. And not only that, they can be excellent for growing trust with your audience as well.

BUT, they have a nasty reputation for being sleazy, cheesy and all around barf-inducing.

So, there’s some challenges here — you can’t just make any freebie and slap it anywhere on your site for it to work.

So that’s what we’re getting into in this article. In this post you’ll learn:

  1. What makes a GOOD freebie
  2. What’s working for others (9 examples)
  3. How to design the right freebie for your business

We’ve been there before

I have a confession to make. For a while, in the beginning of Fizzle, we didn’t use a lead magnet.

We were just creating the brand and, to be honest, I didn’t want to come off as sleazy or too sales-y. I ended up letting us go for months without putting up a lead magnet.

But when we did, the results immediately started rolling in. You can guess exactly what that arrow is pointing to.

Guess when we started using freebie on the site...
Guess when we started using freebie on the site…

That’s right, our email growth was flat for months and then we added a free opt-in incentive to our site and things have been growing like this ever since.

But I hate those things!

I know, so do I. It seems like every site I land on now offers some kind of a freebie to get me on their list.

And a vast majority of the time I HATE THEM.

  • They're cheezy,
  • The offer is sleazy,
  • They talk down to me,
  • They make me lose trust in the brand.

The truth is, many people do this poorly and we don’t have to!

We want you to create a lead magnet that works FOR YOU, one that you feel good about and that builds trust, authenticity and interest with your audience.

So, let's talk about what makes a great email freebie.

“Don’t make sleazy lead magnets! This article will help.”
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A good freebie has these three elements:

If you want to make a great freebie for your lead magnet, you’re going to need to cook with these three ingredients.

1. Irresistible Offer

  • First of all, you have to have a specific, compelling offer.
  • “Irresistible” is what we’re looking for. “Tempting” also works. What would tempt you? What would be irresistible to you? Nudes of celebrities don’t count, unless that’s your business (in which case, ewww).
  • Get specific. Target a problem, a pain, something you can really help with. Bonus points if it’s unique.
  • Don’t try to be a genius, be a researcher. An experienced nurse doesn’t puncture your arm a million times without paying attention. He looks for signals from your body to find the vein. We need to hit the vein, which means we need to be looking for signals from our audience. One place to look: your most popular posts, your most common questions.
  • More on this our 7-day email growth challenge.

2. Indisputable Substance

  • Your freebie is like a first impression… make it a good one.
  • You don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. That happens all the time online and it’s not going to lead you to long-term audience growth.
  • We want this freebie to build trust and rapport with our audience. Make it feel nice. (More insights on this in the next section.)
  • Don’t want to be such a perfectionist that you don’t make anything at all, though. Eventually it needs to be excellent, but your first draft can suck and you can improve it over time with feedback.

3. Crystal Clear Messaging.

  • Make sure your audience knows exactly what you’re offering them.
  • We did all that work in step #1 to make sure our offer was irresistible, now let’s make sure our visitors know about it! We need to highlight and callout this freebie in multiple places on our website.
  • And when we callout this freebie we need to make sure the language is clear and compelling. Be sure to use 80/20 copywriting to inspire action from our visitors.

There are several types of freebies

Online today you’ll find several types of freebies. Here’s a quick list with some notes.

Note: in our 7-day email growth course we go into more detail about exactly which of these we recommend you use and why.

  • Guide — educate someone through a challenging problem.
  • Challenge — accomplish something in a set amount of time.
  • Newsletter — a regular email with updates, news, information, etc. (We’ve written before about more newsletter examples.)
  • Quiz — take a quiz, enter your email to get the results.
  • Mini course — like a course, but mini… and free.
  • PDF of some kind — could be used for guides or challenges.
  • Video series — several emails to teach through an important topic.
  • Email series — 1 email a day, or something like that.
  • Audio training — like a podcast, but for subscribers only.

9 Examples with insights

Ok, here are some examples we like on the web. We’ve added insights below each so you can get a sense of what’s good/bad about each.

NOTE: each of these examples is talked through in-depth in the podcast episode at the end of this article.

1. Jess Lively’s Guide

Jess Lively's simple call to action
Jess Lively's simple call to action
  • I love how clear the reason why is: “to help you add more intention to your life today.”
  • I like that it offers multiple medias, books, videos, blogs and habits. That seems like a “grab bag” of goodies that I’ll be able to choose from according to my own preferences. This is kind of a big deal — each person coming to your site has different preferences. So, making me feel “empowered” to choose for myself can feel nice to a person.
  • I also like that when I click the button a pop-over box appears. No re-loading a page, just a quick “get it now.”

2. Fizzle’s 20 Killer USP Examples Guide

Fizzle's own guide to Unique Selling Propositions
Fizzle's own guide to Unique Selling Propositions
  • First of all, this is a great example of making your freebie look and feel very nice. If you haven’t yet, this is a solid example of that.
  • We’re up front and clear about the value: “create YOU OWN unique selling proposition. It’s an essential piece that makes everything in your business easier.”
  • I like that the imagery is there at the bottom, but I gotta be honest, I don’t know what I’m looking at. I want to go in there and clean it up so it makes a visitor feel more about how solid it is. This image of all the pages is kinda clutter-feeling.
  • By the way, same thing with the title of the guide (it’s a bit wordy and unruly, doesn’t speak directly to the compelling reason why) as well as the cover (why a wave? Why split the words’ colors like that and make it hard to read!? I need to fix this 🙂

3. Minaal’s Weak-ass Invitation

Minaal is a great example of how we can improve
Minaal is a great example of how we can improve
  • This is one of my favorite product makers, and they even have awesome blog posts like this, but the call to action for the email newsletter is just so weak I had to call it out!
  • Here’s what I would do… people are buying these bags for travel, specifically minimal travel. I don’t want to HEAR stories from the road, I want to LIVE stories on the road. So, I think of a couple things we could make.
  • First, I think of a “the top 30 destinations for solo-travelers” or something like that. I see their audience as potentially more oriented toward solo travel. It’s a gamble, but could work. Worth a try, right? So make something that focuses on that group that’s irresistible.
  • Second, I think of packing lists, or a piece of education about “how 15 professional travelers pack their bag. Plus a free packing checklist.” No brainer. Spend some money on a great writer to put it together and a decent designer to make it work, and you’ve got something that might work really well.
  • Again, the whole point of this is to get interested folks on your list so you can get in touch with them when you have a sale, or release a new product, or offer them a discount, etc. Keep the end in mind.

4. Simple Green Smoothies’s Simple 7

A great example of a "challenge"
A great example of a "challenge"
  • Jen over at Simple Green Smoothies has always run some kind of challenge prominently as an email opt-in offer. They have been tremendously effective at driving sign ups.
  • I love how simple this one is: 7 ingredients, 7 green smoothies, 7 mins a day for 7 days.
  • The call to action is clear: For 7 straight days, you’ll blend a daily green smoothie that will fuel your body and boost your energy. Simple 7 makes healthy eating habits affordable, delicious, simple and quick.

5. West Elm’s 15% off pop-up offer

West Elm's "irresistible" invitation
West Elm's "irresistible" invitation
  • I’m not a fan of pop-ups, but it’s hard to deny how effective this one is. It showed up immediately after opening West Elm’s site. I know this one is effective because my wife and I have both signed up while shopping for new stuff for our house.
  • Then, after signing up, the onslaught of promotions and advertising was impressive and constant. These guys clearly know how valuable email marketing is.

6. Ramit Sethi’s Earning Potential Quiz

Ramit... those eyes... I... I'm powerless
Ramit… those eyes… I… I'm powerless
  • Quizzes can be really smart, for a few reasons. First, they inherently make people curious. Second, it’s natural to ask people for an email address at the end of a quiz to send the results to. Third, they can gather a BUNCH of really useful information about the person taking the quiz, which can be useful for segmentation and targeting after.
  • This example from Ramit Sethi at I Will Teach You To Be Rich is solid. It’s short, and the call to action is very clear. It’s really the only thing featured on Ramit’s website.

7. Cailen Ascher’s 3-Day Guide

Gold, black, confidence and clarity
Gold, black, confidence and clarity
  • I love how clear the value prop is here. Cailen is a working mom, and she knows what her people want — a thriving, 6 figure business, while ONLY working 3 days a week?? There’s a system for that?! She spells out exactly what her days look like, including a template & task list.
  • One thing Steph spells out in the podcast episode below is how clearly Cailen makes her offer VALUABLE instead of heading in a “douchebag” kind of direction. This is a great example of an offer that could head in an unsavory direction, but it DOESN’T because of how it’s put together.

8. Clarity on Fire’s Quiz

A gold and bold quiz from Clarity on Fire
A gold and bold quiz from Clarity on Fire
  • Quizzes are fun and have an irresistible quality to them. Kristen & Rachel at Clarity on Fire took the number one question they get asked, “how do I figure out my passion?!” and turned it into a quiz. The quiz reveals one of four “profiles”, which helpers audience members better understand their ideal career path & working style.
  • More info: How Two Best Friends Who Hated Work Got Unstuck With Rachel & Kristen Of Clarity On Fire (Courage)

9. Marie Forleo’s Audio Training

Simple and clear from Marie Forleo
Simple and clear from Marie Forleo
  • I like that Marie has an audio training, which is a little different than your classic, standard PDF.
  • “How to get anything you want” is pretty strong in terms of value / piques curiosity.
  • In particular her offer is laid out in a VERY simple, attractive and non-missable way on her site.

Which is the best freebie type for you?

So, if you’re growing your email list you’ve got to use a freebie. But what freebie type is best for you? And what’s the best way to use it on your website?

We’ve made a free 7-day email course to help you decide:

Start the free 7-day email growth challenge →

  • You will get value from this email course. Each email is quick and actionable so you can work on things that actually matter to your business.
  • You won’t just get marketed to. We write actionable, focused content every week that will apply to your business without purchasing anything.
  • You really will be able to grow your email list. Most people don’t know what makes visitors become subscribers. If you’re getting any traction on your site or social media channels this process will absolutely help you create an offer that grows your email list.

“What makes a good email freebie? Here’s 9 utterly clear examples”
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Check out the audio training for this article

We’ve recorded a special episode of our podcast to accompany this article. Go deeper with these concepts as we share more:

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