home in a hand

What is SEO and how does it apply to my homebuilding business? It can be difficult to determine exactly what your new website needs in order to reach your audience of interested homebuyers. In digital marketing, the word SEO is used frequently and it’s often not entirely understood outside of the industry.

SEO is the shortened version of Search Engine Optimization. This is the term used to describe the factors required for your website to appear readily on search engines. When you optimize your homebuilding website in compliance with good SEO practices, it will make it easy for your prospective clients to find. Here’s how to optimize your homebuilding website for SEO.

Top SEO Elements For Your Homebuilding Website

Optimize Your Content For SEO

Your content makes up the majority of your website. Content includes every written, visual or video asset you have online. Content is a very important factor in SEO and ranking status because it tells your users and search engines what your website is about.

There are a few techniques you can use to optimize your content for search engines. As you may know, search engines like Google do not read in the same way that humans do.

Google wants to help searchers find the most relevant information quickly, it does this by scanning keywords on your website. When an interested buyer searches keywords that match the keywords on your site, your site will appear in their search results because Google has determined that your page is a good match for the information that they search.

Google will crawl your entire website, but the important areas within the content that are significant for SEO are your page URL, titles, and headings on the site, meta descriptions, keywords, and images. In this post we will discuss each of these SEO aspects and how they apply to your homebuilding website.

Appeal To Your Target Audience: Use Keywords

Define A Clear URL

Each page of your website has a URL. You want your URL to appear as clean and easy to understand for your readers. Aas well as for Google.) When a URL is specific and to the point, it clearly displays your website name and any brief, additional page keyword information.

Messy URL: “housingcompany.5678234_78/8”
Clean URL: “housingcompany/houses-for-sale-vancouver”

Your URL should contain the name of your homebuilding company and the essential keywords for your specific site page. If your page is about a housing development in Vancouver for example, the URL should contain the name of your company, the name of the development and the location of the development. This type of URL format makes it easy for Google to read, as well as easy for searchers to understand.

If you do not create a custom URL for your site pages, your site will auto-generate URL addresses. These often appear messy and are difficult for users to understand. They often lack keywords and this makes it difficult for Google and other search engines to read as well. Never create two pages with the same URL, make sure that each is unique and specific to the page, just like an address.

Add Title Tags

When prospective clients are searching for your housing developments, they may not know specific terms like the name of your housing company. Clients that live locally may search specific terms, however, the large majority of interested buyers will begin by searching general phrases in Google.

Example of phases users search:

“Homes For Sale In Vancouver.” “Apartment Developments In Langley” “Custom Homes In Burnaby” “Vancouver Real Estate”

There will only be a small number of searchers that know the specific name of your company or development. There will be many more interested searchers who type phrases like “Homes For Sale In Vancouver.” when you include both the development name and the location in your headings and title, you are telling Google that your page has information relevant to both possible search methods. As a result, you will show up more frequently in searches as your title content indicates that your page is informative.

The headings and subheadings on your pages help Google, as well as your site visitors, understand what your page is about. When they search these general terms, your content will appear if it has the same keywords in the title. Just like in your page URL, specific keywords are important in the titles and sub-heading of your housing company page content.

Your heading should match the keywords that you use in your URL as well as your page title.

Write Captivating Meta Descriptions

You want to take every opportunity possible to catch your prospective client’s attention in a sea of other real estate listings and housing developments.

Your meta description, although not an official ranking factor by Google, plays a very important role in your ability to grab your viewers attention.

In the search results displayed below, the meta descriptions are the grey text under the page title and the site URL. When a viewer is scrolling down a page of search results, they are quickly scanning the meta descriptions to find a page that stands out to them. Google helps your searchers along by highlighting their key search terms in the meta descriptions. In this case, the search was “Housing Developments In Vancouver.” Those keywords are highlighted in the meta description below:

seo for homebuilders

This means that when you are publishing a page, you should take the time to edit the meta descriptions. Write a captivating preview of what your page is about. It’s a good idea to incorporate the keywords that you used in your page URL and your title as well.

Optimize Your Images For The Web

Your home building company is likely to have many images and visual content of your homes and developments. Images are an excellent resource for your website and when they are properly optimized for SEO, they can be a great way to gain visibility and rankings on search engines.

  • Use Alt text that is relevant to your images
  • Name your images differently using keywords specific to the image content
  • Write an image description wherever it’s relevant
  • Ensure your images are properly condensed (Large images can slow your housing website down)

Competitor Analysis and Link Building

A major factor in SEO ranking is the number of links that point to your website. Google and other search engines place a high value on content. When your content is credible and helpful to others, businesses and other websites will link to your content. Google takes these links or “backlinks” as they’re called in SEO, and uses them to determine the credibility of your website. If you have several different, credible and related websites linking to your pages, Google will deem your site as helpful and important.

A great way to determine your backlink profile is by performing an SEO audit. It’s also important to understand how your homebuilding company ranks when it’s compared to your top competitors. If you have a company that is competing closely with you for rankings on Google search results, chances are, they’re one of your competitors.

Eventually, you may want to rank above your competitors. In order to do this, you must first assess your competitor’s websites. You can perform a competitive link analysis in order to gauge the level of authority your competitor’s website maintains. A link audit helps you understand what companies and websites your competitors are associated with.

Contact A Digital Marketing Agency

Many developments and housing companies hire an external digital marketing team to help organize and implement an effective SEO strategy. If you are looking to optimize your website for prospective clients, a digital marketing company could be beneficial in helping you achieve these goals.

It also gives you time to focus on your homebuilding business! ElementIQ is a full-service digital marketing agency located in Vancouver, BC. They have worked with housing companies as well as developers to help create a clear brand image and increase visibility for home builders.

google analytics update

Recently, Google announced an important update that will affect your Google Analytics historical data. Google noted that they would be changing their data retention policy, in order to align with Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The update affects users historical data on their websites. Starting May 25, 2018, the new data retention settings are being applied automatically to your Google Analytics account. The new settings will make you lose all your historical data that is more than 26 months old.

Continue reading or watch the video included to find out how to fix the problem in 2 minutes if you don’t want to lose your historical data.

Why Is My Historical Analytics Data Important?

Google Analytics is a powerful FREE tool used to generate and analyze reports on website traffic. It’s an IMPORTANT tool for reporting, analysis, and benchmarking.

Your website is one of your most powerful digital assets. Historical data allows you to compare data collected from years ago and compare it to your website’s current performance. It offers incredible insight into your user experience, behavior and web traffic.

With the GDPR update, you will lose data that could have been used to generate great insights. Imagine not being able to see a 5-year trend line of users and sessions, or comparing last 24 months of website traffic with previous 24 months. Google has provided the option to retain your historical data before the update occurs on May 25th, 2018. Follow the steps below in order to save your historical data.

Here’s How To Save Your Google Analytics Historical Data

  1. First login to analytics.google.com
  2. Go to the Admin panel from the left navigation menu
  3. Click on ‘Tracking info’ from under Properties
  4. Choose ‘Data Retention’
  5. From User and Event Data Retention, choose ‘Do Not Automatically Expire’
  6. Save

And “Voila!”

We’ve also created a helpful, step by step infographic to further illustrate how to save your Google Analytics historical data!

google analytics historical data

Contact Us

If you have questions about the Google Analytics historical data update or you would like to see more insight from your Google Analytics account, give ElementIQ a call at 604.909.3750. We are a full-service digital marketing agency and we are able to assist you with all of your marketing needs. You can also check out our Google-related blog posts for more information regarding the Google Search Engine and Google Analytics.

avoid networking mistakes

Even the most seasoned businessperson can find themselves in the midst of a networking nightmare. It doesn’t matter how much practice you’ve had, there’s always room for improvement. When it comes to professional development, networking events often come to mind.

Whether it’s your first day navigating a company party or you’re representing your brand at a nationwide event, there are a few simple things you can do to avoid networking mishaps. Here is a list of common networking problems, and how to correct them!

1) You’re A Wallflower

As tempting as it is to stick to the sidelines, networking is an inherently social activity. It may seem a bit daunting at first, especially if this is your first networking event. However, it is vital to get out and circulate the room. If you appear visibly nervous or anxious when meeting new people, take a few deep breaths and try to calm down. Force yourself out of your comfort zone with these simple steps.

Find A Common Connection

The fastest way to break out of your bubble in a sea of strangers is to find someone in the room who you already know. Look for a friend or co-worker, even someone in your same line of work and start a conversation. Have your friend or colleague introduce you to their friends and so on. When you have a mutual friend introduce you to others, it’s an immediate conversation starter.

Appear Open To Communication

Convey open and welcoming body language and personal confidence will follow. When you carry yourself well, people will sense that you are approachable and open to interaction. Here is a useful article about how to convey positive body language while networking. Don’t forget to smile. It is the single most important way to appear relaxed, approachable and friendly (even if you’re nervous.) There was also an interesting study done by Scientific American that noted that smiling can actually make you feel physically happy as well. Use a natural smile to both ease your nerves, and convey to others that you’re approachable.

Make The First Move

Have confidence in yourself, step out of your shell and make the first move. There will be those who find that connecting with others comes naturally to them, but there will also be a lot of people in the room who probably feel the same way as you! If you do not recognize anyone in the group, simply approach a group of individuals or someone standing on their own. Introduce yourself and state where you work. They will do the same.

2) You Aren’t Sure What To Say

This point is closely connected to the previous point. It can be difficult to start a conversation with someone who you don’t know. In general, you may simply not know what to say to them.

Even when you’ve planned out things to say and conversation topics the night before, there’s always the dreaded mental blank that happens mid-conversation.

Don’t Overthink It: Say Hello

Every conversation starts with a warm “hello.” This simple greeting breaks the ice, it lets the other person know that you are interested in talking to them and it will help you feel more comfortable since it is a word that you use every day.

Listen Instead

If you are at a loss for words, focus on listening instead of being the one speaking. If you listen to the conversation long enough, you can craft questions based on things that were mentioned. People love to talk about themselves and what they do. You’ll be seen as a good listener. When you are actively listening and genuinely interested in a conversation, your questions and responses will flow naturally.

Find Common Ground

A great way to segway into a conversation with someone is to make a general comment. You can compliment the person you are talking with. Or simply start by discussing the networking event. Is there food being served? Was a lovely speech just made? Find a common ground with the person you are talking to and let your general statement flow naturally into a more in-depth conversation.

3) The Conversation Doesn’t Feel Natural

Often, when you are at an arranged networking event, it can seem a little awkward at first. If you took the first step and made the introduction, there is still no guarantee that the conversation will flow smoothly. It can take years of practice to master the art of conversation, but there are still a few things that you can do to make the conversation come more naturally.

Relax, Feel At Ease

There is a good chance that your conversation doesn’t feel natural because you feel unnatural. To put that in different terms, you may not feel entirely at ease. Stay calm and try to follow the natural flow of the conversation. Do not overanalyze yourself as you’re talking. When your mind relaxes, you’ll appear more relaxed.

Be Authentic

There is a lovely, recent article from The Huffington Post about networking that I recommend to anyone looking for quick tips on networking. In the article, they discuss what they term “authentic networking.” In essence, this means that you should be “present” in every conversation you have with someone. It will feel much more natural if you simply turn off autopilot and become genuinely interested in connecting with the person you are talking to.

4) You Forget Names Easily

If you’re anything like me, you forget names almost immediately after you hear them. Trust me, you’re not alone. This is a common phenomenon, but also, one of the most awkward ones. Forgetting someone’s name can come off as disrespectful. It seems like you don’t care enough about the person to even know their name. But at networking events, there is so much going on. There is background noise, you are often multitasking and names simply escape you! Here’s what to do.

Do Your Research

At larger events, there is often a list of attendees and speakers either online or on a welcoming brochure. Use these to your advantage if you can’t quite place the face to the name.

Sometimes name tags are also worn and in this case, you have nothing to worry about. But if you’re really bad with names, you can always simply share your business card and ask that they do the same. You should be collecting business cards anyway for follow-ups so this is your best bet when you know you’ll forget the name.

Connect on LinkedIn if the timing seems appropriate. That way you can easily place a face to a name for future reference. You may also bring a small notepad and pen. Jot down names immediately if you are prone to forgetting. You can also write down other essential information like phone numbers, company names, and industries.

5) You Don’t Listen

Practice describing what you do in no more than 2 sentences. We all know you’re a busy person, and you manage multiple different tasks throughout the day. When you are preparing for a networking event, keep in mind that the others mingling may not know specific industry terminology or details. Have a general description of what you do prepared beforehand and summarize it. Do not drag on about your day to day tasks. You could end up boring the person you’re talking to. Try and ask as many questions as you answer and let the other individual talk as well.

6) You Feel Under Or Overdressed

It is always a good rule of thumb to be overdressed rather than underdressed. When you are unsure of the dress code, play it safe and dress for a corporate environment, suits, collars shirts, and blazers. If you are still unsure about what to wear, the easiest way to find out is to take to social media.

Research Past Events

Research the company hosting the event and visit their Facebook and Instagram pages. You can infer their level of formality from images they post of company events.

Layering

Keep in mind that you should dress in a way that you want others to perceive you. If you are attending this networking event in hopes of finding a new job, you should dress for the job that you want. There is nothing wrong with being slightly overdressed. A good rule of thumb is to overdress but wear layers that you can remove if the atmosphere is more casual. For example, wear your dress shirt with a blazer so that you have the opportunity to remove the blazer if you feel overdressed.

7) You Don’t Follow Up

Stay connected with your new contacts after the networking event. Send an email or follow up with a friendly call, reminding the person where you met, your company and what you spoke about at the event.

Timing Is Everything

It is most effective to follow up with those you meet at a networking event within 24 hours of meeting them. Your follow up message doesn’t have to be lengthy. Simply remind the individual of your name, position and your reasons for connecting. Share your contact information or reach out on a professional networking service like LinkedIn.

Get Out There And Meet New People!

Hopefully, these quick tips can help you ace your next networking event. If you have any personal tips you want to share about networking, write them in the comments below! You can network anywhere, including formal business events or summits. Here is one of our accounts of a marketing summit, if you are interested in learning more about the process.

gmb profile

I wanted to share some recently introduced Google My Business features that a majority of local businesses are not yet using. They were discussed in details during the ‘office hours’ webinar hosted by Local Marketing Institute.

These new features can help you further promote your offers or content and encourage/enable new ways for users to interact with your business. So without further delay, let’s dig into these 3 new(er) features:

GMB Posts:

Google Posts are similar to Facebook posts, except that you need to log in to your Google My Business dashboard and then create a post in there.

The advantage is that your post will show up on the knowledge graph when people search for your business on the Google search engine.

In this post, you can promote blog posts, events, offers etc…

As you can see, a thumbnail of the image, dates, short description and a link to your website or landing page can all be included.

Keep In Mind:

  • Posts will stay live for 7 days, after which they just get archived
  • It will be shown on mobile (Android and IOS), Google maps, desktop and tablets
  • Although there is no conclusive evidence, it appears that these posts can positively influence your business ranking on maps and organic search

Questions & Answers

This was a feature that was rolled out a couple of months ago. It allows users to ask a question which can be answered by anyone in the community and by the business owner.

To manage conversations, the owner needs to be logged into the associated Google account on an Android mobile phone or tablet. IOS devices do not have the ability to manage these conversations yet.

If you are signed in to that Google account on your Android phone/tablet, you will receive a push notification when someone asks a question or someone in the community responds to the question.

Just the way reviews show up, the name of the person who asks or answers the question will show up. If the user is a ‘Local Guide’, then that badge will show next to the person’s name. If the business owner responds to a question, it will show up as a response from the business.

Keep In Mind:

  • Only Google maps on Android/tablet can be used to manage Q&A’s
  • You have to be signed in to the respective Google account
  • You get push notifications on mobile when people ask or answer questions
  • Anyone can answer questions – answers will show up as answered by individuals name, individuals name (local guide), or the business owner

GMB Messaging

Business owners can login to the Google My Business dashboard and turn on messaging.

They can choose the phone number which will receive the messages if consumers choose to engage with the business in this way.

The option to message a business is, currently, only going to be visible to users who find the business listing via mobile web search. They will not see the option to message the business if they find the business on their desktops/laptops.

Interactions will be exactly the same as regular text messaging as the message from the user will reach the SMS app on the listed business phone number.

Keep In Mind:

  • Use Allo (app by Google) if you want to separate personal texts from business texts. It will allow business texts to be directed to the Allo app.
  • Enable if you can commit to reply within, at least, a day. Although, Facebook and Google want businesses to reply almost immediately – which is not always practical.

Note: If you are a dental clinic or a law firm, the Google My Business guidelines are slightly different than what they are for regular businesses. The features discussed above will still be applicable. But we had recently published a post to highlight some of these differences. Click here to read it.

seo whiteboard style note chart

After spending the last couple weeks doing keyword research for some of our clients, I’ve decided that now would be a good time to shed some light on how it’s done. Before we look into how its done, it is essential that we understand why it’s done.

“In order to rank for searches and be visible to potential customers, your website must be optimized”

If I had a dollar for every time someone said these words to me, I’d have enough money to make rent this month. However, it clearly doesn’t solve my SEO problems, neither will it answer your questions on Search Engine Optimization. Thus, I’m going to take special efforts to make it crystal clear for you.

To simplify, Keyword Research is the process of discovering key search terms that internet users may be using to search for products or services through the medium of a Search Engine. This is then followed by optimizing your website, to naturally contain these keywords in the text or other forms of content.

How To Do Keyword Research?

Understand The Nature of Your Business:

It goes without saying that knowing your business (or the one you’re handling marketing for) is one of the most important things in any aspect of marketing. If you don’t know your company’s values, products or services, it is a good idea to start off by getting your hands on a catalogue or a similar resource that lets you understand the business.

Once you understand the products or services that the business offers, you’ll be able to categorize the keywords according to product or service type and also be able to figure out which keywords are more relevant than others. Let’s say we have a small online store that sells two products- Bread and Butter. When we try to hunt for keywords to target, we can separate them into two sections (at least) by product type so that it is easier to implement optimization and also track keyword performance.

Focus on Your Buyer Persona:

Buyer personas play a huge roll in keyword searches. If you know the kind of customer you are trying to target, you’re already halfway there. The challenge really is to be able to think like the buyer of your product or service. Let us look at an interesting scenario:

Case Study

One of ElementIQ’s clients, Keating Dental Arts, is a full-service dental lab that caters to dentists across North America. Let’s take a look at a snippet of their website traffic source by keywords.

If you take a look at the image above, the phrase ’emax stain and glaze’ brings 99 visitors to their website. The phrase is quite technical and will probably be used by dentists or people who are in the profession. Since KDA is a dental lab that only caters to dentists and not dental patients, It is a good idea to spend time optimizing for more technical keywords like this one so that it drives more traffic from dentists.

Just like the example above, focusing on industry-specific keywords and how the buyer uses those keywords, most definitely will benefit your process of optimization.

Start With Words Then Move to Phrases:

There are three kinds of keywords that you must consider when trying to optimize your page for both organic and paid searches – Generic Keywords, Broad Match Keywords, Long-Tailed Keywords. You can read more about these types of keywords here. The idea is to jot down words that are most relevant to your business or product/service. Let’s say you are a dentist (or you’re marketing on a dentist’s behalf), the words that you should start your research from would be something similar to these:

  • Dentist
  • Teeth
  • Denture
  • Dentistry

The above list is just an example, your list may look different in comparison to the one above depending on the nature of your business. The idea is to use these words to generate other keywords closely related to them using sophisticated tools.

Once you have this list, it’s time to put some tools to use.

Grab Your Toolkit:

The tool I like using for keyword generation is the built-in Keyword Planner (formerly keyword tool) that Google offers in it’s AdWords platform. The keyword planner looks something like this:

The keyword planner can be accessed by clicking on the tools menu in AdWords. You will need an AdWords account to access this feature. However, you do not need to spend money on ads to avail this feature.

Once you’ve gained access to the keyword planner, its only a few minutes before the magic happens!

We want to work in the ‘Multiply keyword lists together to get new keywords’. The idea is to enter a set of keywords in the List 1 section and another set in List 2 section. Here’s what I’ve entered, just for example sake:

Next, we want to adjust the location settings to our liking. This is important if your business caters to a specific locality. I’m going to set it to Burnaby.

The resultant page will give us a few keywords that are a product of the two lists. It is important to note that NOT all of those keywords are going to be relevant.

Once we have our final list of keywords, we can move to optimizing the pages we like.

Keep Track of the Keywords That You Feel Are Most Important:

Ranking for keywords is always a quality over quantity game. You’d rather rank for the most relevant keywords to your business to get the best possible conversion rate. However, to get the best possible results from keyword research and optimization, it is essential that we track the keywords that seem most relevant to the business and it’s goals. I personally use Ahrefs to accomplish this. I will soon be writing more about Ahrefs to help out with keyword tracking and analysis!

Contact Us

If you have more detailed questions related to Search Engine Optimization, you can leave a comment down below or get in touch with the ElementIQ team here.

person at desk on laptop with tea

I recently had the pleasure of attending a webinar lead by Eric Shanfelt, email marketing guru, and digital marketing specialist. The webinar was hosted by the Local Marketing Institute. They provide frequent webinars about various e-commerce and digital marketing subjects.

Eric shared some valuable information that can often be overlooked when you are trying to coordinate an email campaign. Sometimes we get so caught up in deadlines and clients that we forget about the most important factor in email marketing: the audience itself. Eric gave some insight into what users really want to see.

  • They want short emails
  • All emails should be mobile responsive
  • The information should be relevant and useful to the user

Eric noted that emails should be relatively short with a single CTA (call to action). You don’t want to distract your users with long, intricate copy, too many offers or irrelevant information. A good email is a simple one. In order to have a focused and clear email, there are a few things you should keep in mind first. Eric outlined six main factors that contribute to a great, streamlined email campaign. These are:

Audience, Acquisition, Content, Frequency, Delivery, and Analysis

Let’s discuss what each topic means and the ways in which they, as a whole, can create a great email marketing campaign.

1. Audience: Define Your Audience

Your audience is the first and most important factor in your email campaign. These are the people who open and interact with your messages. In order to send emails that these individuals want to open, you need to be sure you know your audience.

If you work in the field of e-commerce or digital marketing, you may be familiar with the concept of buyer personas. These are fictional representations of your target audience. They are the product of market research and analysis into your customer demographics. Before you create an email campaign, you must consult your buyer personas.

Ask Yourself The Following Questions:

  • What is my audience interested in?
  • What do they want to know?
  • What’s their daily life like?

You want to make sure that the people receiving your email newsletters truly like the content you create for them. Do the market research before-hand and find out the age of your audience, their interests, and daily routine. Once you have a good idea of who you’re sending these emails to, you’ll be able to create custom content, catered to what they like.

2. Acquisition: Build Your Email List

How do I define an audience when I don’t have subscribers? There are many different ways to build your email list. A powerful email campaign coupled with an organized, clean list of subscribers is the recipe for success when it comes to email marketing. You can’t send out a campaign without subscribers. Here are a few ways that you can attract new email subscribers.

How To Build Your Email List

  • Have a prominent signup form on your website. You don’t want potential subscribers scrolling and searching your site to sign up for your list.
  • Ensure you have a prominent signup form on social media. You create and share quality content on your social media channels. Build your email list by letting your followers know where they can get even more great content and insider information on your email list.
  • Leverage POS systems (point of sale systems) You can automate subscriptions to your email list. Simply incorporate it into your POS system. After a purchase, let your users know where they can learn more about you, and stay updated on your products. Create an automated request to subscribe.
  • Have a strong customer feedback system. Gather customer feedback at every opportunity.
  • Train your employees to ask. If you are a business owner, let your employees know that they should always be gathering potential email subscribers for the business. They can ask your customers directly!
  • Use incentives. Give your customers that extra push and give them an immediate reason to sign up for your email list. Let your customers know that they can receive special offers and give them a sample by offering a one time discount to those who sign up. You can use different offers or create a giveaway to get them excited about receiving your emails.

3. Content: Plan Your Content

There is nothing worse than receiving an email that doesn’t make sense, seems out of context or contains information that you don’t find appealing or relevant. Create and share quality content with your subscribers to keep them up to date and in the loop.

Ask Yourself

  • What are you trying to accomplish?
  • What information would your customers find valuable?

Email campaigns are part of your content marketing strategy. You need to carefully plan out what each email will say. Set a positive tone for your email and pick your voice. Are you speaking on behalf of your company, the owner or is the email going to sound more personal?

You can share your current site content in your email campaigns as well. Let your users know about a recent ebook you’ve created or share the latest blog post with them. Make sure that the content you share with your users is relevant, relates to your company and to your users. Here are some tips on how to write good copy for the web.

Another important aspect of content is images. Try to avoid putting all of your written email copy in your email as an image. Images are unreliable and do not always render. Have the core of your email copy in plain text. Use images to supplement your message but make sure that your email is still easy to read and understand without any images.

Pro Tip

Eric Shanfelt mentioned that you should never use canned content. By this, he means that you shouldn’t buy content that is created in mass amounts for your industry. This copy is often general, it is not tailored to your business. Share posts that are about specific aspects of your company and avoid sharing general or bought content. Your users want to feel as though you are writing to them personally. They want the content you share with them to apply to your company and their interests.

4. Frequency: How Often Should I Send An Email?

The consensus on this varies. On one hand, you don’t want to overwhelm your email list by sending too many emails too frequently. Your subscribers are likely to get irritated, annoyed or mark you as spam and abuse. On the other hand, you don’t want to send your emails out so infrequently that users forget they’ve subscribed to your list.

They may wonder why they are receiving an email from your company if they’ve gone months without seeing a notification from you. This is also a reason that many people unsubscribe. So how frequently should you send out your email campaigns?

  • No more than weekly
  • No less than monthly
  • Every other week is optimal

You want to keep your emails short and sweet. In order to do this, you should send them out on a regular basis. Otherwise, you’ll end up cramming too much information into your messages. Keep your emails as simple updates to stay in your subscribers’ minds and avoid giving them too much information all at once.

Welcome Emails

Outside of your regular email campaign, be sure to send out welcome emails to those who are new to your subscriber list. You can include a double opt-in form in this email to ensure that your new subscribers really want to receive your emails.

Thank them for signing up and share the perks or benefits of being on your list. The welcome email should leave them excited and awaiting your next newsletter. You can create a welcome email template and schedule it to send to every new subscriber. Most email service providers allow you to automate this process.

5. Delivery: Help Your Emails Get Opened

When you put effort into your list, audience, and content you want to be sure that your emails actually get opened! This can often be one of the trickiest parts of your email campaign because it relies on getting into your users’ inbox. Avoid spam filters by using a reputable email sender.

Once your email gets into the users’ inbox, you need to give them a reason to click on your message. Use a “from name” that you know they will recognize, generally, this should be the name of your company. However, if your name is used synonymously as part of your brand, you can use your name as the “from name” You can also make the email sound more personal by using your own name and the name of your company. For example: “Karmen Clark, from ElementIQ.”

Similar to your subject line, your preview text gives context and credibility to your email campaign. Give your users incentive to open your email by creating a compelling subject line.

In Summary

  • Use a reputable email sender
  • Make emails mobile responsive
  • Use good from and subject line
  • Leverage preview text

These are the most effective ways of getting a higher open rate. When your email provider sees that your emails are getting opened, you gain credibility as a business and your emails are more likely to be seen as informative, rather than spam.

6. Analysis: What Are The Results Of Your Campaign?

Whether you use your email campaign to drive online sales, provide updates to your subscribers or promote exclusive, in-store offers there should always be a clear goal in mind. In order to improve your campaigns and determine whether or not your emails are achieving your goals, you need to analyze the results of your campaigns.

  • Look at the metrics and adjust
  • Look at any replies to your email and respond to people who write to you.
  • Analyze the ROI. The rate of return is the best way to determine whether or not your email campaign is actually driving sales.

Eric Shanfelt shared a list of statistics at the close of his webinar. These were the general numbers that determine good a good email campaign. You can use these benchmarks as a basic indicator of whether or not your email campaigns are meeting your goals and serving their purpose.

Good Email Benchmarks

  • 20% Unique open rates – If it’s less than this, your subscribers aren’t that interested. How did you build your email list? You may want to clean out your list or change your on-site opt-in process.
  • 2.5% Unique click rate – This is a good click rate. This depends on the nature of your email and your brand it only applies to a direct offer
  • 0.3% Unsubscribe rate = Good
  • 0.02% Abuse report = Anything more than this and your users are thinking “I didn’t sign up for this, it’s spam”
  • 0.45% Hard bounce rate = This is an optimal percentage for hard bounces. Anything more and you should look into cleaning your mailing list.

Note

Clean out your unresponsive emails regularly. Remove subscribers that show no activity over a year. They’re dead weight. When you send to a streamlined list you have a better response rate. Your subscribers are there because they are interested in your products and your company.

Closing Thoughts

Hopefully, the information from this webinar was helpful. Eric Shanfelt holds frequent webinars about various aspects of digital marketing. He is well known in the industry for his success with email marketing and e-commerce. He’s also the Founder and CEO of Local Marketing Institute. If you are interested in staying up to date with our blog posts from ElementIQ, be sure to subscribe or comment below!

agency and in house marketing

The question will always arise at some point. Whether you are just starting out with your small business, or you own a well-established company one question remains the same: “How should I manage my digital marketing strategy?”

Digital marketing is just a simple Facebook post twice a week right?

Social media management is just one aspect of a much larger, cohesive marketing plan in action. As your business grows, you will find a greater need for a streamlined strategy.

You need online reputation management, paid ads, an email campaign, credible backlinks, social media calendars with engaging content, a functioning website with direct workflows, consistent – keyword rich content, and so much more in order to keep up to date and visible for your target audience.

You need a marketing team. But should that team be a part of your company, or should you look for a marketing agency? The following content compares both options, so you can make a more informed decision.

Consider Your Digital Marketing Needs

As a business, you have marketing requirements that are just as unique as you are. Your choice of marketing strategy will depend on your exact needs. In general, an in-house marketing employee has a very specialized set of skills.

They may be a social media specialist, copywriter, analytics professional or focused on paid search and ad words. In contrast, when you hire an agency, you are hiring a team with a variety of diverse talents.

1. Skillset: Specialized Vs Diverse

In-House Marketing

Those working in-house are keenly aware of your brand. They intimately know your goals and desired image because they eat, sleep and breathe your business. They are generally extremely specialized in the one area of marketing that you need.

It is rare to find an in-house marketing employee, well practiced in all aspects of digital marketing. Generally, there are various specializations that need to be combined for a cohesive and successful marketing strategy to take place.

Agency

Marketing agencies work with a variety of clients. All aspects of your marketing needs are met due to the sheer number of individuals working throughout the agency. When you hire an agency, there is no need to outsource work that your in-house workers can’t complete. Agencies possess a much more diverse skill set. You have separate individuals assigned to every different aspect of your marketing strategy.

The answer here comes down to asking yourself, can I afford to hire multiple people with different skillsets for my in-house marketing team? Or should I simply contact an agency where there is a talented team already assembled?

It depends entirely on your company needs. If you only need one aspect of your marketing campaign managed, you may want to hire a single in-house employee. If you are looking for a full-service marketing strategy to manage all aspects of your online presence, then it makes more sense to choose an agency.

2. Ease Of Communication

Communication is important in any business. In order for work to run smoothly, communication is key. Types of communication vary dramatically between an in-house marketing team and an agency. Both are effective and depend on your preferences as a business.

In-House Marketing

When you have an in-house marketing team, communication is relatively easy. You can get content and projects approved the same day they are created, there is very little wait time on assignments.

Agency

Due to the number of clients and client needs, it can take slightly longer for communication between clients and digital marketing agencies to occur. Generally, your agency will update you weekly or monthly, with what they are working on and what has been done. If they are waiting on your approval or want to discuss anything with you, it is done via an arranged meeting, email or quick phone call.

Both agency and in-house communications are effective, they are simply different. An in-house employee is right in the office with you, so it is easier to discuss ideas quickly. An organized marketing agency, however, will stay up to date with all communications needed in order to keep you informed.

3. Variety

Marketing is a naturally creative career. It attracts minds that are constantly thinking, busy and interested in what’s new. Marketing teams need to effectively make a brand seem interesting, and unless you’re selling fidget spinners, it’s easy for creative minds to get bored.

In-House Marketing

An in-house marketing team is solely devoted to you, your company and your brand. They are always thinking about ways to promote your image and products online.

As beneficial as this may be ( they intimately know your brand) it can also lead to a plateau in creativity and new ideas. Your in-house team can lack variety or get stuck in a rut. This can lead to a lower rate of employee stability. You may see your in-house employees jump between jobs due to sheer boredom.

Agency

Your agency has several other unique client accounts that they work with daily. Their minds are fresh as they navigate new topics at all times. It leaves very little room for boredom. It is also possible that they have similar clients to your company, depending on how specialized the agency is.

They may focus on one sector of business (such as marketing just for dentists or real estate) Agencies are working with several different clients related to your account, which makes it much easier for them to keep on top of industry news and trends. They are always motivated and rarely bored by what they do due to the variety of topics they get to work with each day.

Factor In The Costs

Cost is the final factor that should be considered when making any decision surrounding your business. Is it cheaper to choose an in-house employee or an agency? Again, the cost will depend entirely on your needs. But here is a general overview.

In-House Marketing

Initially, it may seem less expensive to hire a single employee for your marketing strategy. However it is a long hiring process, you need to ensure that this person fits in well with the rest of your company.

There are unforeseen costs that can arise after hiring, for example, you could hire a social media manager but then realize that you also need a paid search specialist to complement the social campaigns.

When you hire in-house you also need to consider the costs of adding a new team member to your office. Aside from salary, you need to budget for an office space, computers and programs that they may need. You may even find you need to pay for extra training if your in-house employee has a specialized skill set and needs to branch out.

Agency

When you hire an agency there is a pre-set price in place. There is an entire team of talented professionals that combine their skills to cater to all aspects of your marketing campaign. An agency pays for its own software, tools, and tech. They manage their own training and ensure their employees are up to date with education on any new programs and software.

Determine the annual investment you want to make in digital marketing and meet with agencies and in-house candidates alike.

Choose What Works Best For You

In the end, the choice is yours. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of each option. It is a good idea to meet with marketing agencies and potential in-house employees as well. Some businesses even settle on a mixture of both. Whatever the need may be, it is essential to have a prominent online marketing strategy for your business in the digital era.

In order to gain visibility, leads, and sales, you need to consider your businesses personal goals and how they can best be achieved. At ElementIQ, we offer a full-service digital marketing strategy, covering everything from paid search to content creation and promotion. Let us know if you want to learn more about working with a marketing agency!

Have you worked with a marketing agency before? Do you have an in-house marketing team? Share your thoughts and insight in the comments below!

Keyboard and coffee

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Neil Patel Advanced Online Content Marketing Summit, 2017. The summit lasted for three days and featured leaders in the tech industry, including speakers from Hubspot, Marketing Profs, Hello Bar, Axe Wellness, Wishpond, Buzzsumo, KISSmetrics, and many more.

The summit was packed with loads of useful information and tips that you can utilize for the best content marketing strategies.

The one session that stood out to me the most was the livestream with Neil himself. This session kicked off the marketing summit and left viewers excited for what they would learn.

During this livestream, he shared his screen with those in the online summit and demonstrated exactly how he optimizes his content for maximal SEO benefits for search engines. In this post, I will go through his tips step-by-step, so everyone can benefit from his simple yet groundbreaking advice.

Get To Know Neil Patel

Neil Patel began by introducing himself. For those who don’t know, Neil Patel is a highly successful online marketer. He is ranked by Forbes as one of the top 10 online marketing influencers in the world. He has helped many companies grow and improve their online presence.

Neil was attracted to entrepreneurship and consulting at a young age and got his first glimpse into digital marketing when he founded Crazy Egg, a software company. He made Crazy Egg profitable largely through internet marketing techniques. Neil grew his digital empire and has become one of the most important people in the field.

He holds regular summits and seminars, where he shares his own knowledge while giving other speakers the chance to share tips and tricks as well.

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a powerful means of connecting and communicating with your target audience. In short, it is a type of marketing that requires the creation and sharing of content and new information.

Content marketing uses the right words to attract leads, inform interested buyers and convert them. Content marketing can take many different forms and can range from copywriting, email marketing, social media marketing and creating web page content. Content marketing is used at all stages of the inbound marketing funnel.

Neil Patel is a respected and renowned inbound marketing master. He uses content marketing to successfully drive interest in his brands and eventually convert leads. He offers some of the best content marketing advice.

Content Marketing: A Genius At Work

Neil demonstrated a very brief glimpse into his thought process when he creates content for the web. The segment I will talk about in this post was called “A Look Into Neil Patel’s Brain: How He Does Content Marketing”

Neil was allocated an hour for this session, so everything he did was done very quickly. He went straight into his personal site via the Google Analytics platform. While sharing his screen, he toggled to reports on the Analytics home page.

Neil checked his stats on his blog posts. He reminded the audience that you should never check a blog posts’ stats until after it’s gained some form of traction. Usually, it requires 3-6 months before it really gathers traffic. After this time span, you can start to notice patterns in individual keyword searches that lead and direct viewers to your post.

Neil clicked through to the icons labeled Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages. As a beginner using Google Analytics, it was baffling to see how quickly he navigated the platform. You could tell he was intimately familiar with the tool.

After clicking All Pages, he was directed to a list of all of his site’s pages. He sorted them from highest to least views. From here, he stated that you can click on a post that you want to look into further and see its individual stats.

Once noting down his top ranking content pages, Neil proceeded to navigate over to Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools.) This is the platform he uses to see individual terms and phrases people type when they are searching for a post. From the webmaster homepage he went to Search Traffic > Search Analytics > Pages.

You will again see your top pages. Select the top ranking page you want to analyze and select Queries, sort by Impressions. Once these are selected Webmaster Tools generates all of the keywords that the page is getting traffic for.

Keywords Are Key

It is here that Neil suggested an oddly simple, yet profoundly overlooked tactic. He selected all of the keywords that were driving traffic to an individual blog post and integrated them into his original posts’ content. He chose only the keywords that had the highest impressions and click through rate, to maximize chances of future searches leading to his post.

In copywriting and writing for anything online, it is well known that pages rank on Google for certain keywords. Google can effectively understand what your post is about when its crawlers see that your keyword is in particular on-page areas, like your title tag, headings, and alt text.

Some websites go overboard and include so many keywords in their content, that it becomes difficult to read and understand. This is called “keyword stuffing” and it will heavily impede your ability to rank well. Neil said that he was not suggesting keyword stuffing. He noted that you should only incorporate these new keywords if they make sense in the context of the existing content. You want your readers to experience the best content, not content filled with buzzwords.

Write Long Content

He also said that the best way to add new keywords to your existing content is by adding more content to the page or blog post itself. Most blog posts on the web range anywhere from between 300-1000 words. Neil said that a lesser known secret is that longer content ranks higher. It makes sense, that long, well researched, quality posts are ranked higher by Google.

Google wants to show readers the best possible answer to their question. So if you write long and applicable content, there is a good chance that you’ll rank higher. Neil said that the minimum word count for any blog post should be no less than 2000 words. He said in order to incorporate keywords and continually update your post, simply add additional paragraphs to your existing content, using the new keywords. This both extends your content and adds in keywords while avoiding keyword stuffing!

Neil stated that you have to continually update and rewrite parts of your content. What better way to do it than by using key terms that you know people are already using to search!

This method seems deceptively straight forward. Those of us who write for the web know that keywords are “key” but we seldom go back to our old posts to update them and revisit keywords.

Step By Step Content Marketing Recap

  1. Gain insight on your popular content pieces via Google Analytics
  2. See which pages drive the most traffic (older content, 6months+)
  3. Navigate to Google Webmaster Tools
  4. Revisit the pages you noted down in Analytics
  5. Look at their individual stats, most importantly, “queries”
  6. Sort keywords by impressions and click through rates
  7. Select them and input them into your original piece of content
  8. Expand your content pieces to over 2000 words with updated information and keywords.

Final Thoughts On The Summit

I think that Neil shared valuable and straightforward information that can dramatically improve traffic if done correctly. I am only focusing on this specific section of his summit because the amount of information covered during the summit was extensive.

If people gained anything from watching the live event, that this was one of the most important key takeaways. Neil gave a few additional tips in a live Q&A session to close the summit on the final day. In this session, he covered hundreds of guest questions.

A few additional, closing facts that really stood out to me were:

  • Neil translates a lot of his websites and blog posts into multiple different languages, so they not only rank in English, they rank globally.
  • Neil suggests posting a quality blog post every day to your website. If this seems excessive, you can start with once a week. He indicated that influential sites like HubSpot rank high because of the sheer amount of content their sites contain. They naturally drive traffic and interest because of how much content they have online.
  • He noted that it can be difficult to predict what content will get traffic and what will be neglected online. This is partially why he emphasizes the need to write on everything and come back to posts after 6 months, to see what has traffic and what doesn’t.

Neil Patel clearly knows the in’s and out’s of the best content writing and web optimization for content. I would highly recommend attending his future summits if you are looking to improve your marketing tactics, or simply gain new insight on the topic. If you want to learn more about content marketing, there are plenty of resources online. Don’t be afraid to get started!

phone app icons closeup

Social media is a frequently overlooked realm of digital marketing. It tends to be an afterthought in business, with leads and immediate results as a priority. The truth is that your presence on social media is essential in modern marketing.

Your social accounts are like your digital business card. They represent what you want to reflect as a brand. They may not produce instant results or sales, but they are part of a larger concept of creating brand awareness. Social media is a company’s key to promoting their personal image and interacting with organic traffic.

They are a front-line for interacting with existing customers and potential leads. Your social accounts have the role of welcoming new users in, as well as pleasing and entertaining existing customers. The role of social media in marketing cannot be overlooked. It is a powerful tool for advertisement.

With that said, social posts, especially when there are multiple companies involved, can be very time-consuming. When you incorporate things like paid search, it becomes a full-time job to monitor social accounts, to be sure they are growing and doing well. Here are some easy hacks to quickly and efficiently jumpstart your social media campaign.

1. Schedule Social Posts In Advance

Scheduling your social posts is necessary. Especially if you are running more than one social account. The key to staying organized and on top of your accounts is proper planning in advance.

Keep a spreadsheet or document where you can plan out your social posts for the upcoming week. Designate specific roles such as content creation and copywriting. There are a variety of different tools that can help you schedule your posts:

HubSpot 

HubSpot, the inbound marketing tool for small to large businesses makes it easy to organize and schedule your posts on all social media platforms. HubSpot also notifies you when you receive comments or messages on your social platforms, so you won’t miss a thing.

Buffer

Buffer is another social media management tool. It allows you to schedule content, link to analytics and sync with multiple accounts, so you can ensure your posts are coordinated. Buffer can be used for all social media platforms.

Grum

Grum is a scheduling tool used specifically for Instagram. It allows you to switch between multiple Instagram accounts and schedule posts and captions.

These tools and many like them help to organize and align your social media plan. They give you a tangible way to control the timing and consistency of posts. They also give you insight on optimal posting times.

2. Adopt A Theme For Your Social Media Accounts

The highest ranking social accounts in marketing these days all have a certain theme. This theme accurately represents the brand and the content they want to be associated with.

Look at RedBull for example – the energy drink is associated with more than simply staying awake. They sponsor athletes and extreme sports competitions around the world. This commitment to action is reflected in their social accounts. They display the idea that drinking RedBull does more than energizing, it promotes individuals to go that extra mile and live an active life. Their social accounts attract younger target audiences with photos that all follow the brands’ theme. The social accounts play a large role in creating this consistent image for the company.

Just like this example, it is very important to have a specific audience that you tailor your content towards. This helps you determine what themes you would like to use. Arrange your posts in a theme that accurately reflects your brand. You can analyze your target market to gain insight on what they like to see. You can also do competitor research in order to set your brand apart.

Helpful Tools For Social Themes

Some great editing and planning tools that help to quickly and visually improve your social accounts include:

Canva

Canva is a very straightforward design app. It lets you quickly create beautiful images and promotions. You can also pick from pre-made templates and stock images for inspiration and practical use.

VSCO

VSCO is a mobile photography app that lets you design custom filters for your images. It is an interactive platform where you also have the opportunity to share a gallery and interact with a community of photographers. This app is useful if you are looking to create a unique or signature filter for your images across social media platforms.

Unum

Unum is one of the most straightforward planning tools for Instagram. It allows users to upload images to a mock gallery to see how they fit with your Instagram’s theme. The app connects to your account and displays your existing gallery, as well as blank spaces where you can upload images to see how they fit with your gallery visually. Unum also has a scheduling feature, so you can plan and schedule your gallery to post consistently.

A themed social media account is becoming less of a stylistic preference and more of a necessity. You want your accounts to reflect your professional abilities and your brand. You need to tailor your accounts and adopt a theme that’s consistent throughout for easy brand recognition and association.

If you are not sure what type of theme to adopt, check your competitor’s accounts. Look at other successful pages and draw inspiration from that. Chances are, you have a similar buyer persona, that will be attracted to the same style. Pay attention to what your followers post, and post things that would be relevant, attractive, and useful to them.

3. Be Consistent – Manage Brand Reputation

In the vein of creating a consistent image, ensuring external factors don’t negatively affect that image is also important. Have your brand guidelines in mind when you create social posts. Use specific colors or logos so that your viewers are able to associate your posts with your brand easily.

Manage your digital reputation carefully. Unfollow or block unsavory accounts. You want your followers to be organic and interested in your profile because they are interested in your brand.

Delete unwanted comments and block spam users. No matter what kind of business you are, there will always be a time when you encounter negative feedback. Take the time to create a plan for reputation management on all social accounts.

Clearly outline content that you want to be posting, sharing and associated with, as well as users and content that you want to stay away from. It is also important to note that you should have complex passwords for all of your company social accounts and change them frequently.

The biggest part of social media brand reputation management is ensuring your image stays far away from negative associations. You want to connect with buyer persona’s, people interested in your brand and filter out internet trolls and spam accounts.

These accounts can tarnish your online image. You can add a watermark to your content or your logo, to ensure it isn’t being used by others on the web. Having a clean and positive digital image promotes credibility towards your brand, and builds trust in your potential clients and customers.

4. Be Interactive Online

One of social media’s core benefits is that it’s inherently interactive. It is easy to connect with people when they have inviting images and a theme that projects your interests. Be approachable online, and know that social is a great place to generate leads. People connect with your image and message you.

Use Automated Messages

It is very common, especially if a user really likes one of your social accounts, for them to message you as a business. This is done directly through social channels via comments or private messages. If you notice this happening frequently, and you have a lot of private messages on multiple social media accounts, it is a good idea to employ an automated system.

This automatic reply can be pre-written and it assures the person interested in your brand that their message has been received and they will have a chance to connect with a human soon. This saves you time so you can prioritize responses for those who are messaging. Facebook has this feature built in and you can choose to enable it in your messaging system.

Facebook has an automated reply option on the platform, but you can also generate your own through external apps.

Hold Contests and Secret Sales

A great way to reward your dedicated followers on social accounts is by hosting secret sales, only accessible by social media. It is also a great way to get noticed and get your name shared with others.

Depending on what you are looking for, you can have followers share a photo and tag your company, or use a company hashtag to indicate everyone participating in the secret sale or benefits. Contests create a sense of community while promoting interest and excitement about your brand.

Run Polls

Polls allow you to gain greater insight into what your users like. They are also much more direct than simply observing user behavior. With polls you can ask your users what they like, fun questions to get them involved, or simply inspire conversation amongst your followers.

Respond And Interact With Your Users

Interact with your users directly on social media platforms. Test your knowledge of your buyer personas and use what your followers are posting and saying to help add insight into what they like and what they are interested in.

Your followers will identify with you more as a brand if you are always on their minds (or phones). When you personally reach out to connect, be it through liking other photos, commenting or responding to comments, you promote direct interaction with your brand. You make your followers feel welcome and heard, they will look at you more as a friend than as a brand.

5. Track Change And Monitor What Does Well

It can be difficult to know exactly how to manage your social accounts right off the bat. It is best to monitor your progress over time.

Base new posts on posts that have done well in the past. Use the process of trial and error to experiment with your posts, theme and subject matter and see what content does well. Get feedback from your viewers both directly and indirectly.

Hold a poll to determine a new online theme, or simply observe which posts perform best and why. Perform competitor research and look at what is trending, as well as ways to stand out.

The best way to perform well online is to be observant. If a particular one of your posts is doing well consider investing in ads and promoted posts. These boost your reach to viewers who may be interested in your business.

Social media mastery isn’t learned overnight. Due to its ever-evolving nature, some might argue that constant change and experimentation is the key to getting ahead with social media marketing. Use the platforms to your advantage and get your brand involved in social media.

emails flying out of a laptop drawing

Everyone is inundated with emails every single day. You get emails from clients, colleagues, superiors, friends and family members.

There are emails you read and let’s face it – there are emails you don’t read. Too many companies are barking for your attention and you don’t have attention to spare.

Marketers need to understand this. Even more importantly, we need to understand the very people we send email campaigns to so we can deliver information they want and desire. We need to understand their roles, lives and interests.

I contend that understanding your own email inbox habits are essential to understanding what makes for great email marketing.

If you think an email, maybe from a digest you subscribed to years ago is so repugnant that you wouldn’t want it showing up in your inbox, isn’t this something you should (re)consider sending out to your own contacts and clients? Would they want equally repulsive content?

I suppose it’s a classic case of “treat people the way you want to be treated” or “treat your list the way you want to be treated.”

A better question is: Do you know what they want and what they consider repulsive? Understanding who is on the other end of your email marketing initiatives is vital. They have needs, wants and interests and it’s up to you to serve them the right content.

In this blog post, I’ll talk about a method that few business owners or marketers employ in their email marketing campaigns: Serving content their audience actually wants to consume. I’ll also talk about the process to determine what that content can be.

A Tactic To Help You Understand Your Contacts

To properly understand what your contacts do and don’t want to consume, do a role reversal. What information would you NOT like to consume if it was sent to your inbox one week? What if it was sent to your inbox in consecutive weeks or months? How would you feel?

Now, think about this. What if a business you bought a product from, now with consent to send you emails, sent you an email with special promotions? Depending on a number of factors, you may like it or you may not.

Now, what if you received a similar email every single week advertising a particular sale at this business? How would you feel? If you’d be leaning towards that ‘Subscribe’ button, I’d like to welcome you to the ‘Rest of Us’ club.

This was just a basic exercise. There are methods of doing more formal exercises to properly understand the people you’re sending emails to.

Fully Understanding Your Contacts – Using Buyer Personas

The best way to understand your contacts while streamlining your marketing efforts is to understand your organization’s buyer personas.

Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal buyers. These are created based on qualitative data you’ve collected about your customers.

A business could have one buyer persona or several. It all depends on your business. A buyer persona is based off a person and not a business.

What I mean is that a business, let’s say an agency like us at ElementIQ – we are a B2B business. Our clients are businesses. However, the people we want to attract are decision-makers on digital marketing campaigns.

This could be:

  1. The owner of the company
  2. The marketing manager, in the case of a mid-size company

To create these personas, you’ll have to take several of your clients aside and ask them a set of questions. HubSpot has a nice list of buyer persona questions you can ask.

Since we’re talking about email marketing campaigns, it may be useful to ask more email-centric questions, like what they currently subscribe to and what their criterion are for deleting emails and unsubscribing from email lists.

The next step is taking the responses to the buyer persona questions and forming personas from them. HubSpot has some neat persona templates you can download to assist with this process.

Once you’ve created your personas, you’ll know more than enough about your ideal buyers to understand what interests and engages them. From this, you can determine the subject matter of what is in your emails.

Content Marketing + Email Marketing = Success

So much of successful email marketing depends on the content in the actual email and how it can help the reader.

If you bought tires from Michelin, would you need more tires the next week or the week after that? Unless, you are a poor driver, probably not.

However, what if Michelin sent you emails on how to take care of your tires so that they last longer? That might be pretty appetizing! That’s helpful information that could literally save you money down the road.

You might be thinking – “Why would Michelin do this? They’re pushing money away!”

It’s about the relationship they’re building with their customer. They know that helping the customer in some way will build a stronger bond through increased trust. This is a major benefit of investing in content marketing – and this can help your email campaigns succeed.

The Michelin Guide To Cars – Content Marketing At Its Finest

Michelin actually did this, way back in 1900. Andre and Edouard Michelin were saddled with a problem. More cars needed to be sold in order for more of their tires to be sold. So they published the Michelin Guide. It educated car owners on their cars. It talked about latest news and how to take better care of their cars.

More cars mean more tires. That means more money for Michelin. It worked.

The guide is still published today, over a century later.

As I’ve illustrated, it can be applied to email marketing too. The lesson is to provide the best possible information in whatever method of delivery – in this case, your emails.

An Example Of An Email Campaign Delivering Great Content

One email digest I subscribe to is Vega, a company that sells plant-based nutritional products. In my humble opinion, I think they do a fantastic job of providing great value in the form of information, discounts, and specials in their emails.

They give you a 15% off discount simply for subscribing to their list – a nice incentive. Their emails are filled with recipes, how-to information, and more.

They often use themes. Here’s an ice-cream-themed email:

This one is full of recipes. I’ve received other emails where they’ll have recipes and near the end of the email is a call-to-action for buying ingredients for that recipe in their store.

One email for National Smoothie Day entails a section of the email to purchase smoothie supplies, followed by consecutive sections containing a Raspberry Biscotti Smoothie recipe, the 7 Day Smoothie Challenge and a blog post on How to Build the Best Smoothie.

The folks at Vega have identified who their buyer personas are and what their ideal buyers like. They know that their subscriber base cares about health – otherwise, why would they be interested in a company selling plant-based products? They include in plant-based recipes that have nothing to do with their brand, recipes that could include a Vega product and other pieces of relevant, valuable health information.

Also note the layout of their emails, as depicted in the above screenshot. It’s picture, text and call-to-action. Always in that order. The layout is simple and clean – how marketing emails ought to look.

How We Layout Content In Our Email Marketing Campaigns

At ElementIQ, we use a very similar approach to Vega, with respect to content. We go through a process to understand and create buyer personas for the business we’re working on. We want to understand their subscriber list so we know what content they’ll want to consume. This means the agency you’re working with must have not only email marketing experts but content marketing experts.

For each email, there are 3 components:

  1. About the Business. This section is some piece of relevant, new information about the business. Could be an open house, something your business is doing in the community or what your office is like.
  2. Evergreen Content. You’ll need to understand the term ‘evergreen’ – it’s a piece of content that is not time-relevant. It could be useful to the reader at any point in time. This section would include a link to an evergreen blog post on your website, for example.
  3. An Offer. There must always be a call-to-action in every email. Give them an action to take and make it enticing. This can be a sale or discount, for example.

Vega’s emails are more like this:

  1. The Evergreen Content #1
  2. Evergreen Content #2
  3. Evergreen Content #3
  4. Offer

Again, how you structure your emails does depend on what your list looks like and what they want to hear. For the average local small business, their customers are local and are interested in local activities. So the structure we’ve set out above would work for them.

However, a larger company, like Vega, may want more evergreen pieces because their ultimate goal is to educate and inform (while still selling in a very subtle manner).

Reviewing The ‘Undisputed Method’

I’ve given you a lot of information here and there’s quite a bit of work for you to do.

To summarize, you’ll need to:

  1. Survey your clients with a buyer persona questionnaire.
  2. Create buyer personas.
  3. Identify what kinds of content and the topics each persona would be interested in and engaged by.
  4. Plan out your emails to have a balance of information that your buyer personas would actually be excited to read.
  5. Send away!

If you’ve got any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment below and I’ll reply to you as soon as possible.