35 Local Marketing Ideas & Resources

Local businesses face different challenges than national ones, particularly with how best to market themselves. We spoke to the experts on local marketing to get their top 35 local marketing ideas as well as tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your campaign. 1. Ensure That Your Reviews Are Credible Chas Cooper,…

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Scooter-Sharing Is a Big Deal. There's Just One Problem: No One's Heard of It

Everything old is new again. 

That’s so often the case with fashion, movies, and other key elements of pop culture. And now, it’s true of the modes of transportation we use to get around — in some cities, anyway.

When I was in San Francisco in April, it seemed that — in nearly an instant — everyone was talking about electric scooters and the new system of sharing them: scooter-sharing. 

My fellow tech reporters were tweeting jokes about their popularity. Abandoned, unreturned scooters were strewn about sidewalks throughout the city, many residents still trying to figure out how they ended up there, or what purpose they even served.

Nevertheless, this mode of transportation — which many of us haven’t considered since before we had driver’s licenses — has been on the minds of Silicon Valley professionals. Among them are investors, who are leading to the valuation of some of the companies behind electric scooters to reach the billions.

But if you haven’t heard about this new transportation trend — despite its popularity — surely, you’re not alone. (That’s what our research shows, anyway.) Allow us to enlighten you, and figure out if (or how) scooter-sharing will go mainstream.

Will Scooter-Sharing Be the Next Uber? Maybe, Once People Hear of It

What Is Scooter-Sharing?

The concept of scooter-sharing is comparable to the models of Uber, Zipcar, or city bike rental programs. With scooter-sharing, electric scooters are available to rent for short-term periods, and some of the companies behind them — like Lime — offer similar systems for traditional bicycle rentals. 

Equally similar to ride-sharing systems like Uber and Lyft, most scooter-sharing also requires an app through which users can unlock a scooter for a ride by scanning a QR code on the handles. Here’s what it looks like on Lime (since Lime-S, its scooter-sharing service, isn’t available in Boston yet, I was obligated to pretend-scan a plant on my desk.)

 IMG_2172

Scooter-sharing companies, at least in San Francisco, are currently stuck in what Megan Rose Dickey of TechCrunch calls “a bit of a legal gray area” — they aren’t fully regulated, though they’ve faced issues in cities like Indianapolis and Honolulu, and  the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is looking to create some sort of legislation that would formalize how these companies operate within the city.

Some companies appear to have rules, however, such as requiring a helmet or a valid driver’s license to operate the scooter, the latter of which is a traffic law. (When I downloaded both Lime and Bird, I wasn’t asked to provide proof of a valid driver’s license, though I also didn’t get to the point of fully unlocking a scooter.)

Bird asks users to bring their own helmets, while Lime provides the option to purchase one from the company — though, again, it’s unclear how either verifies that the rider is following that guideline.

IMG_2174 IMG_2170 IMG_2175

The (Un)Awareness of Scooter-Sharing

Several arguments have been made in favor of scooter-sharing permeating the market. It’s been advertised as an alternative to automobile use, as Lime’s own data indicates that 60% of users said their Lime-S ride replaced a trip that would have otherwise been by car — personal, rideshare, or taxi.

And while scooter-sharing’s relationship with public transportation is up for debate, it appears as though this newer mode of transportation might complement bus or subway systems. That same data from Lime also indicates 40% of users got to or from public transit stations on one of its scooters.

electric-scooters-in-san-francisco-6

electric-scooters-in-san-francisco-5

Source: Lime

It’s worth mentioning that Lime’s survey sample was 7,000 scooter riders in San Francisco — for context, that’s about .08% of the city’s population, which has placed a market cap of 1,250 Lime-S scooters (which 93.8% of the company’s survey respondents said was too few).

But outside of this tech-centric metropolis, what do people think of scooter-sharing? According to our data, most haven’t really heard of it.

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This data raises the question: Can scooter-sharing go mainstream, and if it can, how will it get there?

The Sustainability of Scooter-Sharing

Here’s the thing about ride-sharing systems that use traditional automobiles: They’re complicated.

Lyft, for instance, has communicated an intention of reducing car ownership overall by making its services more widespread. That can have several implications for the environment, city planning, aging populations, and others who drive less for a number of reasons.

But Christina Bonnington of Slate points out a bit of a contraction there: Although “250,000 Lyft users abandoned vehicle ownership in favor of ride-sharing, and half of its users reported driving less frequently now … the company put 520,000 additional drivers on the streets” in 2017.

How good that is for the environment is up for debate.

That’s where the impact of bike- and scooter-sharing programs come in. The scooters run on battery power, eliminating any fossil fuel emissions. As for bicycles — well, they’ve been known as one of the eco-friendliest and healthiest modes of transportation for years.

The same could soon be said of traveling by scooter. Lime, for its part, reports that more than 250,000 trips have been taken on its scooters since its San Francisco launch, which translates to an “offset in airborne pollutants … equivalent to 280,389 lbs CO2 saved.”

And while it might not be a vigorous cardiovascular workout, it could be argued that it’s still healthier than a mode of transportation where the commuter is largely sitting — whether that’s in a car, bus, or subway train.

But just as many emerging transportation trends before it — like ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles (the second of which is still in it earliest days) — there are safety concerns to consider alongside the benefits. Scooter riders still need to share the road with cars (riding on sidewalks is discouraged), and as I mentioned earlier, the enforcement of the helmet requirement is ambiguous.

If I had to predict scooter-sharing’s viability, I would specifically point out how, historically, transportation and related safety concerns have evolved. Automobiles, for example, didn’t always have seatbelts. Once upon a time, helmet laws for traditional bike riders didn’t exist. And as for ride-sharing, we’re watching it continue to iron out its kinks in real time.

But have a look at the progression of user numbers within the ride-sharing industry since 2016 — and where it’s expected to go by 2022. 

Screen Shot 2018-07-05 at 2.56.03 PM

Source: Statisa

When Uber first emerged in 2009, it was nearly unheard of — especially on the east coast. There were few drivers. The idea seemed like a radical novelty. And getting a ride took, if I remember correctly, at least 20 minutes before the car arrived.

At present, scooter-sharing appears to be at a similar point. There appears to be some lack of awareness around it, as well as accessibility — the service is in its earliest stages and is only available in a limited number of cities.

Despite this lack of awareness, investors have taken note.

Take Lime, for instance, which recently received a direct investment from Alphabet (Google’s parent company) — which is part of a bigger $300 million funding round. That round also includes GV — Alphabet’s investment arm — which was also an earlier investor in Uber.

Are we seeing a pattern yet?

Whether good or bad, the concept of scooter-sharing raises eyebrows — and could be here to stay. Let’s watch, and see where this new, niche ride takes us.

What Is UI: The Definition of User Interface in 200 Words or Less

To simplify what UI is, we’ll start with a metaphor.

Let’s say you go to a fancy new Italian restaurant and order a pasta dish. When it comes, you’re amazed with the presentation: the pasta is clustered in the center, with a light pink cream sauce drizzled over the top in a zigzag formation. There are two small green basil leaves in the center, and a few dots of pesto in the left corner.

In metaphor-world, the beautiful presentation of your meal is the responsibility of the UI designer, including the alignment of the elements (the pesto in the left, for instance), and interactivity as it relates to the user-experience (the light drizzling of the sauce so each bite is equally satisfying).

The UX designer, on the other hand, is responsible for everything as it relates to the larger business and your experience as their customer, including the smells and ambiance of the restaurant, the chef and waitstaff’s processes for cooking and delivering food, and the menu options.

While this is obviously a simplification, it corresponds well to the definition of UI. A UI designer is essentially in charge of how everything aligns on a page in relation to each other. She decides the hierarchy of the elements (“Should the logo be at the top or the bottom?”), as well as the interactivity of the entire product (“Should the navigation be organized in scroll-down menus, or clickable buttons?”).

UI designers typically work with software programs, websites, and mobiles apps, but they might also use their skills for video games or TV interfaces.

You might not notice UI unless it’s ineffective. For instance, maybe you steer clear of a website if you think the site looks confusing, or maybe you laugh at the old navigation on your 2002 PlayStation. Those user experiences dissatisfy you and influence your interactions with the business.

On the contrary, effective UI goes a long way towards compelling you to interact with a business on a regular basis. For instance, many users have preferences over dating apps, like Bumble versus Hinge, or ride-sharing apps, like Uber versus Lyft. Those apps have different business models and services, so there are plenty of reasons you’d choose one over another — but if you didn’t know anything about either, and I showed you two apps side-by-side, I’m guessing you’d intuitively gravitate towards one. Likely, an impressive UI design would cause that initial gravitation.

How effective is SMS marketing?

A very common question that surrounds SMS marketing is it’s effectiveness and response rates. There are whispering rumours and stories from marketeers, business owners and businesses alike, that you can achieve wondrous, dreamland response numbers from your SMS marketing campaigns.

Well we are here to say that some of those stories you have heard may not have been just myths… You really can achieve amazing dreamland results from SMS marketing.

So let’s take a look at some industry stats around SMS marketing repose rates.

SMS marketing response rates
– 98% open rate (Source: Gartner)
– 45% response rate (Source: Gartner)
– 95% of all texts are read within 3 minutes (Source: Forbes)
– 75% of people would like to have offers sent to them via SMS (Source: Digital Marketing Magazine)
Mobile offers are redeemed 10x more frequently than print offers (Source: eMarketer)
– 50% of those surveyed who received an SMS from retailers, made a purchase as a result (Source: Marketing Charts)
Sales prospects who are sent text messages convert at a rate 40% higher than those who are not sent a text message (Source: OneReach)

So you can pretty much guarantee that every message you send out is going to be read by your customers – which means that SMS marketing is incredibly powerful, and goes someway to explain those whispering rumours you have been hearing about it.

Obviously like every marketing channel, there are no real cemented guarantees, responses and success can differ from campaign to campaign, and there are various things that can affect the response rate of an SMS marketing campaign.

Opening line
Go with something short and sweet and attention grabbing.

Content/message length
Keep it short and sweet and use words and phrases like hurry, quick, offer ends soon – to add some emergency to your message.

Tell them who you are
Make sure you say who you are and set your Sender ID to your business name.

Send an offer
Send an enticing deal or offer and be sure to let them know how to claim and purchase.

Include a website link
Let them click and go straight to your website

Make sure it’s relevant
Make sure you are sending the message to your customers who might be interested. Segment your customer database, men, women etc. So you are sending relevant messages.

Time of your message
Make sure you are sending the message at an appropriate time so people can respond – click here for more details on message timings

 

Now you know how effective SMS marketing is and what you need to do to run a great SMS campaign.

And why not give SMS marketing a try today, it’s free to sign up and with our prices it’s incredibly low cost. And who knows your SMS marketing campaign might go down in marketing response rate history.

July is Triple Rewards Month …

There are two kinds of rewards:  Points and Double Points.  And if you really want to stretch things, there are also stars.  So, the loyalty joke goes. 

By Mike Giambattista, CLMP

It’s the marketing equivalent of Henry Ford’s famous quote that people could order any color car they want – “as long as its black”.  But this isn’t 1909 and we want choices!  The data confirms it, brand experience confirms it, and every loyalty marketer worth their salt is busy optimizing for the myriad of reward choices they can now provide.

Technological advances including AI-empowered decision algorithms, lightning fast delivery channels and near-constant feedback loops are launching reward programs to what seem like stratospheric heights compared to just a year or two ago.

So we’re taking the month of July to survey the world of customer loyalty rewards.  It’s time to update ourselves on what’s working and what’s new, what’s on the horizon and what’s still on the drawing board in incentive design.

Over the course of this month we’ll be hearing from brands, providers, technologists, consultants and thinkers – some from the “old guard” plus a handful of perspectives from new faces and voices.

Aaron Dauphinee, our COO, will be bringing perspective on loyalty rewards in Canada.  Bill Hanifin, our CEO, has been elbow deep in C-Store rewards for the past several months and will be adding those insights to the conversation.  Mike Capizzi, Dean of the Loyalty Academy might actually be one of the grandfathers of reward strategy and will be delivering a historical perspective.  And we have contributors from Europe, UK, Southeast Asia and the Middle East lined up with points of view from their respective corners of the world.

From a data perspective, we’re working on a series of articles exploring the differences in reward thinking along cultural lines, multiple demographic lines and according to a segment’s propensity for loyalty.

To grease the skids of this month’s topic, check out the quick interview we did with Dominic Hofer recently.  He’s the founder and CEO of LoyLogic and he’s quite knowledgeable (and passionate) on the subject of choice.

One quick note on the above: it’s not clear whether or not Henry Ford actually made car color quote but the man knew something about what it took to scale production.  Its estimated that he sold 15 million Model T Fords over the course of their 20-year production.  Today, it’s not unheard of for a loyalty program to gain that kind of adoption over several months, not years – and that timeline is shrinking fast.

So, join us as we get up to speed on this fast-moving topic. We think July will be a very rewarding month.

Mike Giambattista is Editor in Chief at The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).

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5 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Sales Prospecting Results

Prospecting is difficult. There’s no denying it. In fact, one study revealed that 40% of salespeople said prospecting is the most challenging part of the sales process.

Why is it so hard?

There are a lot of reasons. It’s hard to capture buyer attention and to stimulate interest and desire. It’s difficult to persuade buyers into action. Many sellers don’t have the right mindset around prospecting.

If you’re looking to step up your game and achieve greater prospecting success, here are five ways to instantly improve your results.

1. Lead with Content that Captures Buyer Attention

In order to break through and secure meetings with buyers, you have to find a way to capture their attention. Buyers are sold to all day. That’s why it’s even more important that you do your homework and provide buyers with useful content that impacts their business. If you can do this, you have the best shot at buyers accepting a meeting with you.

In the latest Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research report, 488 B2B buyers revealed the top five offers that are most likely to sway them to accept a meeting or connect with you.

Those include:

  1. Primary research data relevant to the buyer’s business
  2. Content 100% customized to the buyer’s specific situation
  3. Descriptions of the provider’s capabilities
  4. Insight into the use of products or services to solve business problems
  5. Best practice methodology based on the provider’s area of expertise

Of the buyers studied, they shared that only 42% of sales meetings are valuable to them. Buyers want value in their meetings, but most sellers aren’t delivering it. They want your insights and expertise. At the same time, they want to hear about your products and services and how you can help them reach their goals. If you want that meeting, bring your content “A” game.

2. Leave Bulk Emails Behind and Send Customized Messages

80% of buyers say they prefer to be contacted by sellers via email. While email is the No. 1 way buyers prefer to be contacted, sellers must be careful about how they use email to communicate. If buyers prefer email, then you can get away with sending mass emails, right?

Wrong.

Only 5% of sellers say sending bulk email is effective. Buyers don’t want stock emails. Instead, they want tailored, 1-to-1 emails that pertain to their company and industry. Take the time to create high-quality, customized emails and send them individually. This should significantly improve the chances of your emails not only being read but also responded to.

3. Cold Calling Lives and the Phone Still Matters

The notion that cold calling is dead isn’t anything new. There’ve been numerous articles claiming that it’s history. Some sellers simply despise cold calling and hopped on this bandwagon. Unfortunately for those sellers, or fortunately for their competitors, they’re missing out on sales opportunities.

Of the 15 outreach methods studied in terms of effectiveness in prospecting, three of the top five involved the telephone:

  • Making phone calls to existing customers
  • Making phone calls to prior customers
  • Making phone calls to new contacts (i.e. cold calling)

Whether it’s cold calling or warm calling, the phone is very much alive and a crucial part of the prospecting process. In fact, 69% of buyers say they have accepted a phone call from a new provider in the last 12 months. Given that it takes on average eight touches to generate a meeting or conversation with a targeted buyer, one or several of these touches should be made via the phone.

4. Convert Cold Meetings Into Sales with Value

It typically takes a lot of work to land that first conversation. Once you do, your next big challenge is to win the sale. Buyers make purchases for different reasons. However, we found that there are four key factors that influence if a buyer purchases from you.

  1. Provider focuses on the value they could deliver to buyers
  2. Provider collaborates with buyers
  3. Provider educates buyers with new ideas and perspectives
  4. Provider offers valuable insight related to the buyer’s industry or market

If you want to convert more meetings into actual sales, sell the way buyers want you to. Given that buyers report that 58% of their sales meetings are not valuable, there’s a huge opportunity to improve here.

5. Make a Great First Impression on LinkedIn

One of the most surprising results was the sheer number of buyers using LinkedIn. Consider this: 82% of buyers look up providers on LinkedIn before replying to their outreach efforts.

That’s the vast majority of buyers.

A response from a buyer likely hinges on your LinkedIn profile. Put your best foot forward and make a good first impression with these tips for optimizing your profile.

Prospecting doesn’t have to be the most challenging part of your job. You can overcome this hurdle, but it’s going to take the right mindset and you’ll likely have to tweak how you’re currently doing it.

Before you make your next outreach, find content that’s going to resonate and make the buyer want to meet you, customize your messages so the buyer knows they’re not just another one of the 200 emails you blasted out, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, focus on the value you have to offer, and make sure your LinkedIn profile is all-star status. Following these tips will pay off in the end.

The post 5 Ways to Instantly Improve Your Sales Prospecting Results appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

25 Creative Flyer Templates to Showcase Your Small Business

Using flyer templates is an easy and affordable way to design attractive, eye-catching flyers. Are you thinking of handing out flyers to create buzz around your small business for a grand opening, sale, or a special event? In this article, we provide 25 flyer templates and tell you what makes them effective. Want even more…

The post 25 Creative Flyer Templates to Showcase Your Small Business appeared first on Fit Small Business.

How to Find Out Why You Didn’t Get the Job

You send in a stellar resume. You blow the recruiter away in the phone screen. And you wow everyone you speak with during your in-person interview. And yet, you still don’t get the job. Worst of all, you don’t know why you didn’t get it — you either didn’t hear back at all, or received feedback so vague that it’s virtually useless (e.g. “We decided to go with another candidate who was a better fit.”) Is there anything worse?

It’s incredibly frustrating when a recruiter or hiring manager doesn’t share a concrete reason why you were passed over, but if it happens to you, don’t worry. Often, there’s still a way to figure out what went wrong — here’s how.

1. Reach Out to the Decision Maker

If you have the contact info of the hiring manager, it’s best to chat with them rather than a recruiter or HR representative, says Ren Burgett, career coach and owner of 3R Coach.

“An HR manager or recruiter is more likely to give you a programmed HR response such as, ‘We found a candidate that was a better fit for our needs.’ The hiring manager is more likely to give you a candid response,” she explains.

If you haven’t already been in touch with the hiring manager, though, you may want to reach out to someone who can point them in your direction.

“If you don’t have their contact details, you need to get in touch with whoever your point of contact was throughout the recruitment process. Even if they can’t provide feedback themselves, they will be able to pass your query onto someone who can,” says Steve Pritchard, HR Manager at Cuuver.com.

When you haven’t been given the hiring manager’s contact information, it can be tempting to bypass your point of contact and look them up on LinkedIn or Google their email address, but this is a mistake, Pritchard says: “They may not feel too comfortable with you contacting them using a number/email they didn’t provide you with.”

2. Express Gratitude

Nobody wants to engage with a candidate who sounds demanding or presumptuous, so make sure to open your message with a note of thanks.

“Thanking someone for [taking the] time to interview you and provide the opportunity can always start the conversation in a positive manner,” says Shanalee Sharboneau, President and Technical Recruiter at Staffing Science, LLC.

In particular, you should express gratitude for the fact that they are going out of their way to read your note. After all, they don’t have to share feedback with you.

“Show in your request for feedback that you appreciate the recruiter or hiring manager is likely to be busy. This way, you don’t sound too pushy or demanding,” Pritchard adds.

3. Be Positive

You may be upset that you didn’t get the job, but remember: you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. It’s okay to acknowledge that you’re disappointed with the outcome, but don’t express resentment or aggression.

Show “that you are understanding of their decision not to hire you, otherwise, you may sound bitter about not getting the job rather than someone looking for honest feedback to help them with their job search,” Pritchard continues.

And instead of taking a self-deprecating approach like “How did I screw up” or “Where did I go wrong”, frame the conversation as a quest for personal growth.

“Don’t make your question about ‘why’ you didn’t get the job, make your question about ‘how’ you can improve. People are more likely to respond to someone that seeks out growth as opposed to someone that just wants answers,” Burgett says.

4. Keep it Short and Specific

When reaching out for feedback, “make your email no more than one paragraph,” Burgett recommends. After all, they are probably plenty busy with their day-to-day tasks, so you want to make sure to honor their time.

You can save them even more time by avoiding general questions like “Why didn’t I get the job?” and instead drilling down into a few precise issues. Burgett recommends including “two to three specific questions [that] you would like feedback on from the interview process.”

One question that Laura Handrick, Career Analyst at FitSmallBusiness.com, recommends asking is “what might you have done, said or provided differently that would have made the company choose YOU instead of the other candidate.”

5. Open the Door for Future Opportunities

Just because you were rejected from a job doesn’t always mean that you can never apply there again — you may have been a close second. At the end of your message, reiterate your interest in the company (if you are truly interested) and consider adding something like “if anything changes, I’d love to connect regarding future opportunities.”

“That will go far, and many times, new hires fail in the first few months. They’ll remember your graciousness,” Handrick says.

You can also see if they might be willing to refer you to another opportunity.

“Always end the email by asking if they know of anyone else you can reach out to as you continue your job search. If you didn’t get the job, perhaps you can get a lead [for] another job. Use this as an opportunity to network,” Burgett says.

6. Be Patient and Ready to Take No for an Answer

If the person you reach out to fails to respond, don’t ping them every day until they do.

“Giving feedback, particularly constructive feedback, is hard, so allowing time for preparing will likely get you more thoughtful responses,” points out Dr. Dawn Graham, Career Management Director at the Wharton School and host of Career Talk.

Even if they never respond, you shouldn’t pester them, Graham adds.

“Companies tend to avoid giving candidates feedback to avoid opening themselves up to risk,” she explains. “In addition, many hirers have trouble putting their fingers on a clear definition of ‘fit’ or likability, which are two powerful aspects of hiring decisions that can be challenging to put into words. Therefore, they may pass on giving feedback to a rejected job seeker for the sheer reason that even they are unable to verbalize their final decision in a way that will be meaningful to the overlooked applicant.”

Sample Message

Want an example of what exactly you could say to a hiring manager? Burgett recommends the following:

Hi (Hiring Manager),

I wanted to thank you for the amazing opportunity to interview for the position of (job title) with your company. I really enjoyed learning about (company name) and getting to know you and your team during the interview process. I understand you have decided to move forward with another candidate that better fits your current needs.

As I continue my job search, I would love to get your feedback on how I can improve as a candidate. When you have a minute, could you provide insight into what I can improve upon to help me stand out and progress in my career? Specifically, I would appreciate feedback on the following:

1. What is the one skill I can improve upon to help advance my career that may be holding me back?

2. If I had the opportunity to redo my interview, what is the one thing I should have done differently?

I appreciate any candid feedback you can offer as it will help me understand the areas I need to improve. Additionally, if you know of any companies that may be hiring for similar positions or anyone else I should reach out to as I continue my job search, please let me know.

Again, thank you for the opportunity to interview for the position. I wish you and your team continued success.

Sincerely,

Your Name

There’s no doubt that getting rejected from a job you were interested in is upsetting, and it can be doubly so if you don’t hear actionable feedback from the hiring team. But odds are, it’s nothing personal, so try not to take it that way. And remember — the right job is out there. It’s only a matter of time until you find it.

This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and was re-published with permission.

What is SMS marketing?

SMS marketing is a marketing channel, much like email marketing, that allows businesses to message customers with marketing messages through SMS, or more commonly known, text messaging.

These marketing messages can vary from promotional messages, product launches, new lines, sales, offers and more.

In the modern business world there are lots of ways to market and advertise your business, and SMS marketing is another one of those ways. However, it can do much more than that…

SMS marketing is the perfect modern way to communicate with your customers.

In this modern fast paced world, people want to communicate in a way that suits them, a nice quick, convenient way that fits with their lifestyle. And that is exactly why SMS marketing is now so popular amongst customers and businesses.

Positives for customers
We all love our mobile phones. They never leave our side, they are our new trusty best friend that we take everywhere with us. They not only capture our everyday life, but they also help us through it. Our mobile phones is the Swiss army knives of human life, they let us take photos, set alarms, check our bank balance, make payments, listen to music, read books, watch films, turn our heating on… This list could go on and on. But basically, SMS marketing is the perfect way for us to communicate, it’s instant, quick and convenient.

Positives for businesses
It’s quick, easy and convenient for businesses too. They can send out large bulk SMS messages all at once in the click of a button. They can then track who clicked their links and see who has unsubscribed from their messages.

– 98% of all text messages get read (Source: Gartner)
– 95% of all texts are read within 3 minutes (Source: Forbes)

Which means businesses love SMS marketing because they can virtually guarantee that their messages will get read instantly!

What businesses use SMS marketing for
There are lots of ways businesses are using SMS marketing, whether that be through an SMS API  or an online SMS Web Platform.

– A new product or service
– Sale or offers
– Notifications
– Delivery updates
– Appointment reminders
– Important news
– Customer Service
– Support

Basically SMS marketing can help businesses with anything and everything!

Now you know what SMS marketing is, have a read about hoe effective it is here.

So if you want to give SMS marketing a try with your business, then sign up here for free, no contracts to sign or minimum terms. Just simple low-cost SMS marketing.

Loyalty in the Middle East: Fast, Big & Complex

An Interview with Brayden Ainzuain, Head of Digital and Innovation, Publicis Media, Middle East and North Africa

Publicis Group is the third largest communications group in the world, with an impressive history dating back to 1926 when the company began in Paris. They hold an even more impressive market position in the Middle East and North Africa, as the number one marketing agency in terms of revenue. In order to maintain this leadership position, the group includes several specialist agencies in each of their top global markets, a strategy that allows them to win most of the top clients and brands in key categories, even when those brands compete aggressively. Separate companies allows the agency the necessary ‘client separation’ required to manage each brand in complete confidence.

By Paula Thomas

Fascinated by their client portfolio and approach to innovation, I met recently with their Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regional head of Digital and Innovation – Brayden Ainzuain – to get his insights on how the Middle East region is innovating and some of the key campaigns and platforms he’s impressed with and why. Here are the top three Middle East digital ideas we discussed.

Shared Platforms for Convenience Retail

Two of the challenges (and opportunities) in the regional convenience industry include language and fragmentation. For example, alongside popular local retailers such as Zoom which operates over 200 stores, are many hundreds of individual ‘Mom and Pop’ stores which are too small to individually invest in mobile technology solutions. These small format stores are widespread throughout countries such as the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), and Egypt, so this has given rise to a variety of convenience platforms which allow any store to offer mobile ordering and payment services to customers who want a fast and efficient delivery service from their mobile phone. Instashop is one such platform, billing itself as ‘the easiest way to order your groceries’. It’s Dubai-based and seen as a clever and relevant idea as Instashop professionalises the grocery delivery industry with promises of 5-star service and deliveries in under an hour!

The Middle East is also characterised by an extremely diversified range of nationalities, as over 48% of residents in the GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) are actually expatriates from other countries. A huge part of our regional business considerations is language – with some countries having as many people speaking Arabic (the native/official language) as speak English. One platform www.ElGrocer.com saw this as an opportunity and developed their convenience delivery platform in Arabic.  They had realised it was ‘easier to order a laptop online than a pint of milk’ in the UAE, so they launched the first Arabic language delivery app in the region in 2017. While translating any business content is complex, developing for Arabic requires an entirely separate alphabet and layout, with the language written and read from right to left, rather than left to right.

From a marketing perspective, both platforms offer Publicis clients access to partnership solutions for their top fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) clients. Brands such as Mars, Nestle and Mondelez invest in prominent product positioning within the app, as digital merchandising becomes more sophisticated than ever before. More importantly, the platforms also offer their clients the local consumer shopping insights that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Convenience/impulse purchases are a category that the dominant regional eCommerce players such as Souq.com (now acquired by Amazon) have not focused on to date, preferring instead to focus on products such as electronics.

Other key learnings for the industry include the obvious importance of developing for mobile-first given the platforms commitment to speedy deliveries, but continuing to also develop desktop access for users of different demographics.

In his role advising clients how best to adapt to digital, these convenience platforms become highly effective sales and marketing solutions, with access to real-time stock inventory which is readily accessible in more developed markets such as the US and UK, as well as access to competitor sales data. The collaboration between brands and platforms provides mutually-beneficial insights throughout the whole convenience industry and they look set to thrive as customers learn to love the simplicity and speed of service they deliver.

Gamification insights

The UAE Government has set ambitious goals to continue its development as a competitive economy with a strategic focus on innovation.  Local brands such as du (one of two main telco providers in the region) have launched trial campaigns in recent years using games as a tool, with great success. In an industry where a five second engagement is the duration of a typical brand impression, these custom-built games have delivered brand experiences that typically last several minutes. Attributing direct sales to engagement remains a challenge, with some media mix modelling or geographic testing available in certain circumstances but modelling is seen as costly to do and these brand channels may be under-valued as a result.

Recent research has also emphasised the dominance of visually-led social media platforms such as Snapchat in the Middle East region, with the percentage of users in the Middle East often far ahead of other regions. 42% of Snapchatters in Saudi Arabia use the platform as soon as they wake up, so it’s no surprise that one of Ainzuain’s favourite campaigns is a promotion for Oreo cookies which offered users an extra Snapchat filter as a micro-reward and incentive for engaging. With digital and micro-rewards increasing in popularity for loyalty programmes worldwide, it’s exciting to see brands in the Middle East running such exciting and innovative campaigns.

Gamification was also used to educate consumers for product launches, and Ainzuain explained how Samsung incentivised customers to watch product videos in return for points and prizes as they launched their latest phone, with KPI’s around how much time consumers spend on these short-term platforms with specific marketing objectives.

Payment Platforms

Apple Pay only recently launched in the UAE in October 2017, but given global trends and demand for mobile payment, it’s not surprising that local players were first to market ahead of the global giant. Ainzuain mentioned a regional service called Beam which was the first to launch a mobile wallet in 2012, and which also rewards customers for their transactions. The brand currently claims to have over 750,000 users and in 2016, Beam became the first app to let customers in the UAE pay for their fuel from their car. In a country with extreme heat and humidity several months a year, this was a unique selling point so it remains to be seen which platform wins the hearts and minds of Middle East consumers.

Future Trends and Innovation

No discussion about loyalty, innovation and Dubai would be complete without mentioning Dubai Points – a blockchain-based project which will reward tourists and residents to visit attractions of cultural and historic significance. Promising a programme with points that can be exchanged with other global rewards, Ainzuain mentioned that the project could be the most significant to come out of the UAE when it launches. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on this and other regional developments as they happen.

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Paula Thomas, CLMP, Chief Content Officer, Liquid Barcodes and Independent Loyalty Consultant. In addition to working with Liquid Barcodes, her clients have included Telefonica O2, Three Mobile, Electric Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and The Entertainer, as well as Avios – the global points currency for some of the world’s top airlines. Paula is also a judge for the Loyalty Magazine Awards. 

Liquid Barcodes is a leading global loyalty technology company specializing in the convenience store and foodservice industries. Their cloud-based technology platform allows retailers to create and manage their digital marketing campaigns with a proprietary process called the “customer connection cycle’ to engage, promote and reward customers activities in real-time across digital and media channels. More information at www.LiquidBarcodes.com

The post Loyalty in the Middle East: Fast, Big & Complex appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

Here's Exactly How We Got 105k+ People Using Our Chatbot

It’s not impossible for humans and even a lot of software to do exactly what chatbots do.

It’s how bots do it that matters.

When we work alongside bots, they make life easier. They help us do things faster and with more efficiency. They give us more time to do “human stuff” — and do it even better.

Bots don’t have to be as ubiquitous as searching the web. That’s not the point.
Bots do have to carve out a space as a different but equal resource that takes humans where they want to go more easily than ever before.

Chatbots can and will change business and marketing as we know it, if given a fighting chance.

But right now, they must win over naysayers crying “trend!” and comparing the budding technology to channels that have had decades to develop.

It’s easy to get wrong. And when we do get it right, it’s all too easy to run it utterly into the ground as we have with many marketing opportunities in the past.
This time around, we’ve pledged to use this powerful element of change for good instead of evil.

Here’s how we’re making a sales, marketing, and biz-building chatbot that doesn’t suck: GrowthBot.

Apps build a silo, bots fill a niche.

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Apple’s “There’s an app for that” has been the rallying cry for the past decade.
As such, it’s left the tech battlefield littered with millions of apps that do everything from letting you solve crime with your favorite celebrity avatar to ordering delivery with an emoji (OK, that one is kind of useful).

There’s more than just an app for that; there’s a name for that. It’s called app fatigue.

In 2016, comScore found almost half of all smartphone users in the U.S. downloaded a whopping average of zero apps per month. Yet in 2017, the Google Play store added more than 1,300 apps every single day.

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Why so many apps? Mostly because it’s what everyone else is doing. Marketers aren’t exactly known for having a lot of chill when it comes to the tech du jour.
That’s not to say apps are dead in the water, but we are starting to see a trend which indicates people are using far fewer apps than are being put on the market daily.
App Annie’s 2017 research shows people use the same nine apps per day and no more than 30 over the course of a month. On average, users only touch as few as one-third of the apps they’ve downloaded.

Millennials especially are using utilities like maps and search engines along with apps for social networking, messaging, entertainment, and retail.

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When users do open an app, it’s no surprise it’s rarely that one that lets you drink beer … without the beer.

Bots don’t add to the onslaught of app, decision, or fake beer fatigue. Instead, they live right inside and actually enhance the functionality of some of the most popular messaging apps.

For example, GrowthBot helps users access tons of marketing and sales data using an app they probably already have open all day — Slack.

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We have to agree with data scientist and software developer P. Daniel Tyreusin this case:

“I’m willing to speculate that it’s easier to acquire a user if the user doesn’t have to download a new app to use a service. I’m also willing to speculate that users are more likely to continue using a service that’s integrated into an app they already use.”

In the words of Seth Godin: If your target audience isn’t listening, it’s not their fault — it’s yours.

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Before we even began building our chatbot, we focused on exactly how it would create value in a way no other tool could for our audience.

We work consistently to grow GrowthBot’s natural language processing (NLP) skills because we know our audience and we know how much easier it makes their lives when they’re able to access and compare tons of data by typing a few quick phrases into Slack.

NLP enables chatbots to understand what a user is looking for. It also allows consumers to enjoy personalized conversation instead of interacting with the same tired “intuitive” menu in a vacuum.

That’s important when your bot functions as a customer service rep, personal shopper, or research partner and conversation is the ideal way to answer a request.
Dennis Thomas, CTO at AI-powered consulting firm NeuraFlash, knows the importance of understanding how users interact with your chatbot.

“Another place where NLP is a big win is when the bot’s objective is focused on helping users with the discovery phase of products or shopping. Finding the right item via conversation helps to drive the user’s goal, as well as the product criteria to match to the company’s inventory.”

By the same token, NLP could actually be a detriment in cases where text-based chatbots can make the process simpler.

“When you have a visual medium and buttons can accomplish the task in a couple clicks (think easy re-order), open-ended natural language is not making the user’s life easier.”

We didn’t throw everything we’ve learned about our audience out the window when developing new bot software. Instead we implemented that knowledge to make GrowthBot just useful enough without being overwhelming.

We believe chatbots should be useful first and useful always.

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NLP only accounts for half the conversation — the input part.

Output is just as important in terms of usefulness.

Your bot might have the personality of The Most Interesting Man in the World, but it will still suck if it can’t answer a user’s query.

You don’t need to build an entire search engine from scratch. You don’t even need to build an app. All you have to do is make sure your chatbot has access to enough data to prove useful in the niche you’ve chosen.

If it can’t do that, it’s no better than the aforementioned beer-simulating apps of the world.

GrowthBot has solid conversational skills, but it would be nothing without the marketing and sales data that help it achieve its goal — providing value to people who are growing businesses.

There are already tons of pieces of software and far too many apps for sales and marketing professionals. Useful chatbots don’t mimic, they empower users to find exactly what they’re looking for using a natural instinct: Simply asking.
Not spending hours customizing dashboards and poking through tens of different workflows just to uncover their own data. Simply asking.

Everytime we link a new database to GrowthBot, it gets more valuable for users. Right now it can pull information from dozens of sources; including HubSpot (of course), Google Analytics, MailChimp, social networking sites, and so on.

Bots are first and foremost data scanning machines. They take input, provide relevant feedback, and do so in a way that is easier to manage than any other platform.

“Products, like people, have personalities…”

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David Ogilvy famously understood the importance of personality in products. We believe that’s also the case for brands and bots. That’s why we made GrowthBot sound like someone we know and like.

If your brand already has a solid personality, translate that into the voice and tone your bot uses when interacting with people.

If not, there’s no time like building a chatbot to determine whom you want to be in the online world.

Because there are so many tools out there that take the technical aspect out of building a bot, creating a great conversational flow might just be the greatest challenge you’ll face.

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The messaging framework you build into your chatbot will influence the way people perceive the value of your brand, so give it some personality.

MailChimp is famous for its distinctly helpful personality that manages to be playful and humble at the same time. If your cat is wearing its very own monkey-themed knit hat right now, you know exactly what I mean.

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Cintell’s 2016 benchmark study on B2B buyers found that companies who exceed lead and revenue goals are two and a half times as likely to use personas than companies who miss lead and revenue goals.

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Today’s consumers have nearly countless brands to choose from. And they know it.
A well-defined voice that aligns with your ideal customer is an effective and low-cost way to develop return buyers and bot users.

For example, GrowthBot sounds like Dharmesh Shah — founder and CTO at HubSpot and loving father to the chatbot itself.

That means it’s light-hearted, respectful, and just a tad quirky all while being truly helpful.

We’ve found that a truly helpful voice in a world of chatter is more powerful than you might think.

Bots make life so simple, search feels painful

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Google search has made an impact. There’s no denying that.

It’s almost a force of habit to visit a search engine to find what you’re looking for. Habits are notoriously hard to change, especially the more gratifying and automatic they are.

Current studies show it takes an average of 66 days for a behavior to become “unchangingly automatic.”

Because search behavior is second nature to us now, bots must do what a search can’t:

  • Provide customer service conversations and solutions without the wait
  • Deliver the information a user is looking for in just seconds, on the first try
  • Make recommendations based on powerful personalization
  • Aggregate information from a variety of sources right inside the apps we’re already using

That last point is what GrowthBot is founded on. We make growing your business easier by using the power of a chatbot to put information at your fingertips — not siloed in more apps and interfaces than you can count.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of what AI-enabled bots can do with enough data and well-planned conversational flow.

But things can still go wrong if you aren’t aware of and managing your users’ expectations.

Where Facebook’s Assistant M Got It All Wrong

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Chatbots are relatively new and their capabilities are varied. If you want people to love your bot, it’s important they understand why they need it and how to use it.
It’s not that Facebook’s Assistant M chatbot didn’t work. It’s that expectations weren’t managed; which overwhelmed the system and underwhelmed its users all at once.

“The first thing chatbots should do is quickly introduce their core competencies. Not only should chatbots start within a specific scope, they should always firstly tell you how they can help you and what they can do best.”
Instabot

Clarify upfront exactly what your bot is capable of. Provide specific examples and invite the user to try out a few practice questions. Don’t make them learn any new tricks right away.

Using your chatbot for the first time should feel like starting an online chat with a new friend or customer service agent.

There will inevitably be times when users ask your bot to do something it can’t do yet. Offer them an alternative, but don’t let that learning opportunity slip away.
Scan your chat logs regularly, they’re the most valuable market research you’ll ever get on what people want your chatbot to do.

Wait, have I mentioned value already?

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Be on the lookout for every chance you can find to provide extreme value to your users.

Go above and beyond what people expect your chatbot to provide. Delight them with thoughtful little extras that make their days better.

Extreme value doesn’t have to stop when a user leaves your bot interface.

Offer to send customers an alert when their size is back in stock. Tell readers where they can find more articles like the one they just read on your website. Or, like us, celebrate with them every time you connect another tool that will make their jobs easier.

These kinds of interactions don’t just provide extreme value, they keep you top of mind and keep your customers coming back for more.

Nobody needs another app for this, that, or anything.

Instead, people need smart ways to accomplish more within the tools they already know and use regularly. When our chatbots deliver that level of service, we’re sure to start changing behavior and creating better automatic habits.

Fight back against bad bots. Build yours to be delightful to interact with, provide extreme value, and just not suck.

Originally published at blog.growthbot.org.

12 Google Search Operators to Improve Your Competitive Advantage

53% of marketers say they have “too much to do with too little time.” Marketers have to plan campaigns that knock competitors out of the park, create content that both readers and search engines love, and hit very specific ROIs. Google search operators help to ease the tension.

Google search operators are special characters/commands that help to elevate your search capabilities beyond that of a regular search. Sometimes these are also called “advanced operators” and are useful for a myriad of tasks included SEO audits and content research. They are productivity boosters that make marketing easier for marketers. More importantly, they can give you a look into what your competitors are doing to help you come up with better ideas.

In this blog, I’ll show you 12 Google advanced search operators to outplay your competition.

1. See Where Competitors Have Been Featured

Most marketers have one thing in common: They all want to get featured on high-traffic sites. By using Google search operators, you can find more competitor content.

Here are three main reasons why: 

  • You will discover more sites that accept guest posts in your industry.
  • You will save time you might have wasted looking for sites that will accept the topics you write about.
  • You will locate the sites linking to your competitors that makes them rank well on Google.

So how do you find these sites using search operators? The exact match and minus sign operators come in handy here. Search “‘name of my competitor’ is” -mycompetitorswebsite.com and Google will show where your competitors have author bios apart from the ones on their website.

Take “Julia McCoy is” -expresswriters.com:

Julia McCoy example

The results contain many of the sites Julia has been mentioned on that aren’t expresswriters.com, from Magnificent Marketing to Canva, SiteProNews, HuffPost and more.

Jason Quey, co-founder of GrowthRamp.io, shared another tactic for using operators to find guest post opportunities:
“Here’s a tip my intern shared with me. If you use a blog to generate leads, try looking up where the content marketer of the competing blog has written to find guest post opportunities. You can do this by looking up “FNAME LNAME” AND “author”; such as “Jason Quey” AND “author.” Now you have a list of target sites to go after.

That is, “Jason Quey” AND “author”: 

Jason Quey Example

Also, if the competitor has more than one website or is featured on a site you’re not interested in, you can exclude those websites from your results as well using the “-” operator.

Here is an example. Add the other sites to your query including a minus sign in front of it. Like, “Julia Mccoy is” -expresswriters -amazon.com -anyotherirrelevantsite.com:

 Julie McCoy Example 2

You’ll notice the Amazon result is no longer in the picture.

Now you have just the results you need—where Julia McCoy has been published.

Next, you can open each of those links to see the quality of content required to get published on those sites.

2. Use “Site:” to Get Better Writers

As companies keep reporting success with their content marketing efforts, writers are becoming more and more critical. 53% of B2B marketers say their content marketing approach has been moderately successful. In the same report, 21% described theirs as minimally successful; 20% say theirs has been very successful, and 4% of B2B marketers say theirs has been extremely successful. Only 2% of B2B marketers say their content marketing has not been successful at all.

In total, 98% of respondents say their content marketing efforts have been successful to some degree.

B2B Content Marketing Success Marketing Profs

With the amount of relevance that content marketing has gained, you need good writers. And search operator commands can help you find them. A simple technique is to do a site search on an industry publication for the specific topic you need a writer for and then check out who the writers are at that site.

This way, you can outsmart your competition by hiring the best writers in your space. If I’m starting a blog about red wine and need a writer for it, I can go find one who writes for a health publication—since health is a close industry to my wine business.

I can do a site search for “red wine” on a health publication like health.harvard.edu:

Red Wine Harvard Example

Let’s say I click through the first result there: Is red wine really good for your heart?

I find that the writer of the post is Julie Corliss. Naturally, the next thing to do is to find out who she is, right? So, I search her name on Google, and here’s what I find:

Julie Corliss Example

I discover that she’s a medical writer. Her LinkedIn profile even says she’s a freelance medical writer. Voila, I’ve found what I’m looking for! She has written about red wine for a huge publication in the health industry. That reasonably validates her experience with my topic.

But it may not be this simple all the time. The writer could have been anyone else but a freelance writer. Julie, in my example, could have been a medical practitioner who only likes to share her expertise in health publications but has no interest in freelance writing.

In that case, I would have to look at other results in the ‘site:health.harvard.edu “red wine”’results page. And I did but didn’t find any other writer. What to do next? I’ll do a site search on another health publication and keep trying until I find an expert writer.

Should it be this stressful to find a writer? Well, if the average reader spends 37 seconds reading an article or blog post, you need great writers who can really keep prospects engaged with your content.

Distribution vs Time Engaged Example

And so, if writers are this crucial to any content marketing success, you want to do everything possible to find great ones. To find great writers that can outsmart your competition, your industry’s biggest publications are a great place to begin looking.

If you find any writer on these publications or blogs, it’s because they’re good writers. Substandard writers are unlikely to have their material selected for those publications.

3. Where Are Your Content Gaps? Use “Site:”, “-”, and “Intitle:”

What might you be missing when it comes to what your competitors are covering? For example, let’s say your competitor is Buzzsumo.com.

You know they write a lot about content marketing, but you want to see other topics they write about without having to go digging through their site—which is going to be a whole lot of work. A combination of the site (site:), minus (-), and intitle (intitle:) operators can help you out here.

Search site:buzzsumo.com -intitle:content marketing and you’ll see all other topics that buzzsumo.com write about apart from content marketing.

Buzzsumo content marketing

You will find social media marketing, social media marketing world, email marketing, influencer marketing, and every other topic on the site, except content marketing. This way, you’re seeing all the other topics your competitor is writing about that are different from the ones you’re familiar with.

4. Find Your Competitor’s Best Content—Using “Site:”, “”, and “Intitle:”

Let’s say you have a competitor that creates a lot of great content. You admire their style and your target audience seems to like and share their content a lot. They probably even outrank you for many of the keywords you’re both competing for.

When you want to create content on a specific topic, you may want to see what that competitor has written already on that topic. Three search command operators are useful here: the site, intitle, and exact match operators.

Let’s say contentmarketinginstitute.com is the competitor in question, and you want to see what they’ve published on the keyword infographics. You’ll need to search site:contentmarketinginstitute.com intitle:”infographics”

Infographic Content Marketing Institute Example

This way, you’re telling Google to find all the posts on the site that exactly have infographics in their title.

And more importantly, since Google always puts their best content first, with this search, you’ll find the best posts Content Marketing Institute has written on infographics and the different angles they’ve written each of them from.

5. Use “Filetype:” to Find Specific File Types Your Competitors Publish

Maybe you’re building a new content marketing strategy, and you plan to write a few ebooks. But you’re not sure which topics are worth gating and which ones should be free for all.

Gating your ebook will drive leads into your funnel. Leaving it ungated might not drive as many leads, but can drive more search traffic and shares. But you need to get it right. Not all topics are worth gating. And some are so worth gating you’d miss out on generating leads if you don’t gate them.

A smart solution is to see how a successful competitor handles this situation. What are the ebook (PDF) topics that they’ve gated and which ones have they left free?

Two search operators will be useful here: site:and filetype:operators.

site:kissmetrics.com filetype:pdf

Kissmetrics.com Filetype Example

You can see the topics they’ve put in ungated PDFs. Your most successful competitors have some of the best marketers on their team, so if those marketers decide to ungate specific topics, you may want to do the same.

Often, these marketers run rigorous tests to find out what interests their readers. So, imitating them in this area will no doubt prove to be a smart move.

6. Use “+” to Find What Competitors Have Written Simultaneously on Two Topics

People search multiple keywords simultaneously sometimes to find comparisons or see how two or more things work together. Your competitors might have created content on those keywords.

They’re probably even ranking for them already. To outrank your competitors for those keywords, you need to create content that’s better than what they’re using to beat them at the ranking game on Google. For example, SEO and content marketing are two things people search for simultaneously—to see how they work together. In fact, over 800 people search these terms every month:

Keyword- seo + content marketing example

To see which sites rank for this keyword, of course, you can always use a keyword research tool. But going to Google is faster; just search SEO + content marketing.

Google content marketing + seo results example

This way, you’ll find the different sites that have written about SEO + content marketing and what they’ve written so far.

7. Outsmart Competitors With Listicle Posts Using “..”

What if you could see the different list posts your competitors have published on a particular topic? Maybe you want to write a listicle post and want to ensure you’re not writing the same list number and topic a competitor has written before.

Let’s say you want to write X best dinner recipes, but you don’t want to publish the same titles or list number your competitors have written before. In other words, if they’ve written about 17 best recipes, you want to ensure 17 is also not your number.

The “..” operator can be handy here. It helps you find the listicle posts that have been published on specific topics. For instance, search“top 1..100 dinner recipes” , and you’ll find different list posts that other websites have created and ranked well for on this topic.

Top 1..100 dinner recipes example

You can see all the numbers your competitors have created on your topic. Now you can avoid creating the same, so you’ll stand out—both for Google and visitors.

8. Use * Operators to Remember Something You Saw

Sometimes you scroll through your social media timeline or results on Google and come across a post your competitor has written. But you’re busy, you can’t pause immediately to check it out or even find time to add it to your to-do list.

You liked the post idea so much, and now you want to tweak it so you can create something awesome for your organization. But for some reason, you can’t remember exactly what you saw. However, you can remember two words.

Here, you can use the wildcard operator represented by an asterisk (*). It tells Google to look for unknown words in your search query. Let’s say you’re trying to remember a post title Furniture Arrangement Ideas for Small Living Rooms, but only three words keep coming back to your mind—Furniture Arrangement Ideas.

Search Furniture Arrangement Ideas * and you may just find what you’re looking for:

Furniture Arrangement Ideas * example

This way, Google shows you all posts with your keyword.

9. The “Related:” Operator Helps You Find Other Sites Similar to Your Main Competitors

With the “related:” operator, you can use one of your competitors to find out who else is competing with you. Simply include related: before your competitor’s domain, and you’ll get a page full of other competitors in your field. You could do this with a social listening tool. However, this is a quicker way to search.

For instance, related:semrush.com:

related-semrush.com example

This way, Google shows you all the sites that are related to your business. And it is significantly faster than having to go through another platform.

10. Has a Competitor Said Anything About Your Brand?

If your competitor has said something about you in the body of a page on their site—whether good or bad—you want to know what they said. Maybe they said something and didn’t alert you about it. Or maybe your brand mentioning tool missed it for whatever reason.

In any case, when competitors say something about you, you need to know about it. Suppose SpyFu wants to see if Ahrefs has mentioned them in the body of any post before.

SpyFu can search site:ahrefs.com intext:”Spyfu”

site-ahrefs.com intext- Spyfu example

This way, Google shows SpyFu all the pages that mention SpyFu within their content.

11. Find Long-Tail Keywords With the AROUND(X) Operator

What if you could find all the long-tail keywords for a specific topic right on Google? You won’t have to log into any keyword tool. It’d be a powerful time-saver, right?

The AROUND(X) operator can help you find all the long-tail keywords that have been published on a particular topic. Take design AROUND(3) photoshop—with three being the maximum number of words between design and photoshop.

 design AROUND(3) photoshop example

This way, you can see all the long-tail keywords that your competitors have written around particular topics. However, it’s not always this accurate. That you’ve put three in between two keywords doesn’t mean every single result you get for long-tail keywords will turn up that specific number.

12. Use “Cache:” to Find Competitor Pages That Have Been Removed

Ever come across a page on your competitor’s website that enlightens you or teaches you something important for your business? Maybe they announced a huge feature that gave you insights into a technique that could drive a lot of customers to you. Now you want to refer to it, and for some reason, the page has been taken down. If it has so much value, you want to find the page, right?

This is where the “cache:” operator comes in handy. If you have the link of the page that was taken down, simply search cache:pagethatwastakendown.com and Google will bring it to you.

Example: cache:https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/facebook-ad-optimization-rules/

The Daily Egg Example

In addition, if your competitor has earned some links via the page, you can create a similar page and reach out to the websites that have linked to them. Let them know they can replace the competitor’s backlink with yours. Nobody wants to link to a dead page, so they’ll mostly be happy to link to you.

Conclusion

The tips I’ve shared here are in no way encouraging backstabbing your competitors or outright copying them. They’re to help you make smarter decisions while working in the same industry with your competitors.

Use these handy search operator commands to locate valuable information quickly. You can look through your competitor’s ideas and tweak them to work for your company in a new or different way. You always want to differentiate to stand out from the crowd. But keeping up with what works best is also good practice. With these search commands, you are sure to implement a tool or strategy that’s totally different for your business.

Do you use Google search operators in your marketing strategy? Tell me about how you do so in the comments. For more information on scaling this strategy with your company and more, check out my latest research.

The post 12 Google Search Operators to Improve Your Competitive Advantage appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

How to Get Local Press Coverage: Newspaper, TV, Radio & More

Local press coverage occurs when your business is promoted or discussed by local newspapers, radio or TV stations. To get local press coverage for your small business, find the right local media outlets and pitch an attention-grabbing story. This puts your business in front of a relevant and local audience, attracting new and returning customers….

The post How to Get Local Press Coverage: Newspaper, TV, Radio & More appeared first on Fit Small Business.

How to Make a Chart or Graph in Excel [With Video Tutorial]

Building charts and graphs is part of most people’s jobs — it’s one of the best ways to visualize data in a clear, easily digestible manner. (Check out this guide for making better charts to learn more.)

However, it’s no surprise that some people get a little bit intimidated by the prospect of poking around in Microsoft Excel. I actually adore Excel, but I work in Marketing Operations, so it’s pretty much a requirement.

 

That’s why I thought I’d share a helpful video tutorial as well as some step-by-step instructions for anyone out there who cringes at the thought of organizing a spreadsheet full of data into a chart that actually, you know, means something. Here are the simple steps you need to build a chart or graph in Excel. And if you’re short on time, check out the video tutorial below.

Keep in mind there are many different versions of Excel, so what you see in the video above might not always match up exactly with what you’ll see in your version. In the instructions below, I used Excel 2017 version 16.9 for Max OS X.

We encourage you to follow along with the written instructions and demo data below (or download them as PDFs using the links below) so you can follow along. Most of the buttons and functions you’ll see and read are very similar across all versions of Excel.

Download Demo Data | Download Instructions (Mac) | Download Instructions (PC)

9-Excel-Marketing-Templates-

 

9-Excel-Marketing-Templates-.png

1. Enter your data into Excel.

First, you need to input your data into Excel. You might have exported the data from elsewhere, like a piece of marketing software or a survey tool. Or maybe you’re inputting it manually.

In the example below, in Column A, I have a list of responses to the question, “Did inbound marketing demonstrate ROI?”, and in Columns B,C, and D, I have the responses to the question, “Does your company have a formal sales-marketing agreement?” For example, Column C, Row 2 illustrates that 49% of people who have an SLA (service level agreement) also say that inbound marketing demonstrated ROI.

Chart data about inbound marketing ROI entered into an Excel spreadsheet

2. Choose one of nine graph and chart options to create.

In Excel, you have plenty of choices for charts and graphs to create. This includes column (or bar) graphs, line graphs, pie graphs, scatter plot, and more. See how Excel identifies each one in the top navigation bar, as depicted below:

Icons for each type of graph and chart in Excel

(For help figuring out which type of chart/graph is best for visualizing your data, check out our free ebook, How to Use Data Visualization to Win Over Your Audience.)

3. Highlight your data and ‘Insert’ your desired graph.

The data I’m working with will look best in a bar graph, so let’s make that one. To make a bar graph, highlight the data and include the titles of the X and Y axis. Then, go to the ‘Insert‘ tab, and in the charts section, click the column icon. Choose the graph you wish from the dropdown window that appears.

Insert and Column icons for making a chart in Excel

In this example, I picked the first 2-dimensional column option — just because I prefer the flat bar graphic over the 3-D look. See the resulting bar graph below.

2-dimensional column chart created from Excel data on inbound marketing ROI

4. Switch the data on each axis, if necessary.

If you want to switch what appears on the X and Y axis, right-click on the bar graph, click ‘Select Data,’ and click ‘Switch Row/Column.’ This will rearrange which axes carry which pieces of data in the list shown below. When you’re finished, click ‘OK’ at the bottom.

Select Data window for switching rows/columns in Excel graph

The resulting graph would look like this:

Switching axes in Excel graph

5. Adjust your data’s layout and colors.

To change the layout of the labeling and legend, click on the bar graph, then click the ‘Chart Design‘ tab. Here, you can choose which layout you prefer for the chart title, axis titles, and legend. In my example (shown below), I clicked on the option that displayed softer bar colors and legends below the chart.

Chart design options in Excel

To further format the legend, click on it to reveal the ‘Format Legend’ sidebar, as shown below. Here, you can change the fill color of the legend, which will in turn change the color of the columns themselves. To format other parts of your chart, click on them individually to reveal a corresponding Format window.

Format Legend window for adjusting chart labels in Excel

6. Change the size of your chart’s legend and axis labels.

When you first make a graph in Excel, the size of your axis and legend labels might be a bit small, depending on the type of graph or chart you choose (bar, pie, line, etc.). Once you’ve created your chart, you’ll want to beef up those labels so they’re legible.

To increase the size of your graph’s labels, click on them individually and, instead of revealing a new Format window, click back into the ‘Home‘ tab in the top navigation bar of Excel. Then, use the font type and size dropdown fields to expand or shrink your chart’s legend and axis labels to your liking.

Increased size of legend labels in Excel chart

7. Change the Y axis measurement options, if desired.

To change the type of measurement shown on the Y axis, click on the Y axis percentages in your chart to reveal the ‘Format Axis‘ window. Here, you can decide if you want to display units located on the Axis Options tab, or if you want to change whether the Y axis shows percentages to 2 decimal places or to 0 decimal places.

Format Axis options window to increase percentages on Y axis

Because my graph automatically set the Y axis’s maximum percentage to 60%, I might want to change it manually to 100% to represent my data on a more universal scale. To do so, I can select the ‘Maximum‘ option — two fields down under ‘Bounds‘ in the Format Axis window — and change the value from 0.6 to 1.

The resulting graph would be changed to look like the one below (I increased the font size of the Y axis via the ‘Home’ tab, so you can see the difference):

Increased Maximum percentage on Excel bar graph's Y axis to 100%

8. Reorder your data, if desired.

To sort the data so the respondents’ answers appear in reverse order, right-click on your graph and click ‘Select Data’ to reveal the same options window you called up in Step 3 above. This time, click the up and down arrows, as shown below, to reverse the order of your data on the chart.

Reorder data options window in Excel

If you have more than two lines of data to adjust, you can also rearrange them in ascending or descending order. To do this, highlight all of your data in the cells above your chart, click ‘Data,’ and select ‘Sort,‘ as shown below. You can choose to sort based on smallest to largest or largest to smallest, depending on your preference.

Sort window in Excel

9. Title your graph.

Now comes the fun and easy part: naming your graph. By now, you might have already figured out how to do this. Here’s a simple clarifier.

Right after making your chart, the title that appears will likely be “Chart Title,” or something similar depending on the version of Excel you’re using. To change this label, click on “Chart Title” to reveal a typing cursor. You can then freely customize your chart’s title.

When you have a title you like, click ‘Home‘ on the top navigation bar, and use the font formatting options to give your title the emphasis it deserves. See these options and my final graph below:

Bar graph on inbound marketing ROI with bolded title

Pretty easy, right? Check out some additional resources below for additional help using Excel and visualizing your data in smart ways.

Additional Resources for Using Excel and Visualizing Data:

Want even more Excel tips? Check out this post on how to add a second axis to an Excel chart.

free excel templates for marketing

Important News Post GDPR: Keep calm and carry on sending!

Guess what? GDPR is in full swing and the world is still turning, the sun hasn’t fallen out of the sky, and businesses are still sending mobile marketing messages!

After an exhausting barrage of GDPR news, views, and implied threats, all seems fine and dandy; what was all the fuss about?

In the build up to the Millennium the shop shelves were scarce of food, as people were scared into thinking that our computers would not be able to cope and would fail at the midnight gong.

The scaremongering for GDPR felt very similar. “You can’t send emails or mobile marketing messages anymore otherwise you will get a 20 million pound fine!”

But here we are weeks after the new GDPR rules, and business goes on. And so do emails and mobile marketing messages. Just as it did on 1st January 2000, life and business has gone on.

The important thing to remember with the new GDPR rules is that they were not aimed at genuine, honest, legitimate businesses, who treat and honour their customers and their data with care and respect every single day, and have done for years. The GDPR rules are not a revolution, they build on the existing data protection laws that many businesses already complied with.

It was aimed at the spammy, dodgy and careless businesses that have annoyed all of us everyday with their constant spam emails, messages and phone calls. You know the ones.

Unfortunately, and perhaps inevitably, some businesses/individuals have seen GDPR as a money maker and have scared perfectly legitimate businesses into complete despair and panic database deletion, when they actually had nothing to worry about.

Of course there are things that you need to follow and get into place for GDPR (read our guide here) but as long as your business has a legitimate interest for why it’s sending that email or mobile message, then it’s very likely that you are compliant.

Even the ICO have made several statements telling businesses not to panic…

“We’re not out to get people and it’s not all about fines. Although it is enforced, we’re not going to go and start fining all the small organisations… We pride ourselves on being a fair and proportionate regulator and this will continue under the GDPR.”
Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner

So… have your appropriate systems in place. And then keep calm and carry on sending.

ePlay Touts Big Shot AR Beta Launch

On Monday, ePlay Digital Inc. announced its official launch for Big Shot Basketball beta will take place in Las Vegas during the 2018 version of NBA Summer League.

The new Augmented Reality (AR) mobile game will be available for basketball fans of all ages with special launch events planned for Las Vegas running July 12-15 and in other North American cities leading up to the 2018/19 NBA season.

ePlay is working with 7-time NBA champion, Robert Horry and a fantastically talented group of young basketball players that will be wearing the Big Shot logo throughout the summer to promote the Big Shot mobile game.

We’re told that the company also released a new website for its upcoming game series at www.BigShotAR.com.

“This is going to be a big summer for ePlay and for augmented reality,” says Trevor Doerksen, CEO of ePlay Digital. “We are advancing the state-of-art for sports and mobile technology and look forward to seeing hundreds of thousands of fans of all ages enjoying the magic that our augmented reality platform creates.”

To learn more, click here.

The post ePlay Touts Big Shot AR Beta Launch appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.

Is Employee Training the “Jesus Nut” of Customer Loyalty?

Pilot lore from the Vietnam era has it that a single point of risk existed on the most popularly flown helicopters of the day. The Bell UH-1 Iroquois, known as the “Huey” had a main rotor retaining nut that held the rotor and blades to the body of the helicopter. If this one small piece of metal failed, the aircraft was irreconcilably compromised, and all that was left for the pilot and crew was to “pray to Jesus” as they fell to earth. The Jesus Nut was a term that stuck among insiders flying these workhorses. By the way, if you are feeling uncomfortable with the term, please feel free to substitute “linchpin” in its place.

By Bill Hanifin

In the execution of customer loyalty programs, I’m believing that employee training, engagement, and incentives constitute the collective “Jesus Nut” for successful program operations. Treated with care and improved through reengineering, we fly smoothly and without incident. Treat with neglect, and anything can happen.

My recent experience from the customer side of a loyalty program adds a good example to a growing body of evidence that the interaction between customers and employees at the point-of-sale can make or break the success of your loyalty program. Driving through rural Virginia a few weeks ago, I stopped at a Shell station for fuel and coffee. Placing my hot coffee carefully on the checkout counter, the store associate asked me if I was a rewards member. “No”, I responded, but then I asked him if I should be.

The response astounded me and highlighted the challenges of translating customer strategy into practical marketing solutions that create the return on investment your brand set out to achieve.

The associate was quick to share with me that whether I was a loyalty member or not, he had a card handy and would swipe for me. Explaining, he said “corporate is coming in next week and the boss told us to swipe as many cards as possible to get our numbers up”. He added, “maybe once in a while someone will get a free coffee”. Skipping over the obvious and inherent flaws in this approach, I asked what would happen after corporate completed its visit. He replied; “we’ll probably go back to doing what we were doing before, because the boss doesn’t give a darn” (insert stronger word here).

Funny as the exchange was, the brief conversation was a wake-up call to how difficult it can be to execute in-market the way programs are planned in the lab. Whether this store was a company owned store or a franchise, it was clear that the owner did not understand or believe in the value of the program for his business. His ninth-inning rush to build penetration of swiped cards across the transaction base was valiant on the surface but was not going to fool anyone. The cashier was using the same card for every swipe, so the numbers were going to be skewed and look irregular to “corporate” when they paid a visit. More concerning was the risk that the associate was committing fraud, using his own card to amass lots of free coffees that he or his friends could enjoy.

The concern about execution of loyalty programs at the site level is shared by many of the big oil operators. In one instance, I was instructed by a client not to link any part of program success to onsite marketing. He elaborated by saying that “we can ship boxes of marketing collateral into our locations but can’t make the staff open them”. This executive went further to say that on more than one occasion, site visits revealed boxes of carefully crafted point-of-presence materials found unopened next to cleaning supplies in a storage closet.

You should know that the Huey version of the Jesus Nut was eliminated through better engineering once it was discovered. A retired Navy friend of mine confirmed the linchpin was a top priority on the preflight inspection list. In fact, the story of the Jesus Nut refers to dated technology as the industry identified the problem, fixed it, and moved on. Why the collective body of customer marketing professionals doesn’t put employee engagement and site execution into this same collective barrel of “things that we fixed”, is surprising.

The effort needed to improve store operations related to customer loyalty is substantial. It requires investment in the form of script creation, employee training, and maybe some crafty approaches to providing employee incentives to encourage participation and support. Be assured the objective can be achieved and the investment will be worthwhile, paying dividends in program results. I’ve seen firsthand success in this area from brands that recognize potential gaps in execution and prioritize the commitment to solve operational problems.

To sum it up, I’m convinced that solving operational issues to deliver better program execution is a matter of willpower and commitment to succeed, nothing less.

Bill Hanifin is CEO of The Wise Marketer and is a Certified Loyalty Marketing Professional (CLMP).

The post Is Employee Training the “Jesus Nut” of Customer Loyalty? appeared first on The Wise Marketer.

Clients Long for Brave Agencies: 3 Fears to Conquer

Launching an agency means challenges are bound to arise, and these challenges often revolve around money and perspective. When the two collide, that’s when most agencies stumble a bit.

As soon as the words “revenue” and “loss” appear in the same sentence, many agencies understandably freeze with fear. It’s easy to lose objectivity and the ability to stay focused on the big picture. That often leads to an agency scrambling to take on new clients, regardless of their suitability. This “any port in a storm” mentality can really jeopardize an agency’s ability to create stability and profitability.

It also leads to agencies being less willing to stand their ground and advocate for what they know is the best solution for their clients. It’s easy to capitulate when you’re worried about making payroll.

But when clients search for an agency, they’re looking for that outside perspective. They don’t need a “yes” man; they need objectivity and an outside viewpoint they can’t find internally. This difference in opinion won’t always have you seeing eye to eye, but that’s usually what sparks the big idea—that collaborative, 360-degree viewpoint.

If you’re challenging one another, ideas get better. And it’s the co-creation of those ideas where trust is earned.

The bottom line: Your agency must have the confidence—or dare I say, the bravery—to find your voice and speak up. That’s the value you bring to your clients, which in turn is what creates value for you as a business.

How you go about finding your voice and solidifying those bonds with clients is entirely up to you, but it often starts with mustering the courage to do the following:

1. Hold Strong Opinions

To be treated as a partner, do what partners do: poke, prod, and push with your opinions. Ask harder questions, both of yourself and your client. Differentiate your agency by being willing to question everything and then take a firm stand. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but you’re doing clients a disservice when you tell them only what they want to hear.

Take my colleague, Sam Mallikarjunan. When working as an onboarding consultant at a software company, his manager overheard a conversation he was having with a prospect, pulled him aside, and said, “You can’t talk to people that way.”

Oh, how wrong she was.

You see, Sam had adapted his communication style to the customer. This prospect was a gregarious fellow and wanted to feel like he was talking to a confident, competent person—a person willing to tell him what he needed to hear to drive change.

As long as your opinions or advice add value, your agency can begin to build stronger relationships with your clients. In turn, your clients will feel more comfortable being open and honest with you, making your job that much easier.

2. Accept Revenue Loss

As an agency, sustainability is key to keeping clients, but to sustain, you have to evolve. And to evolve, you can’t be held back or thrown off course by short-term revenue loss.

In fact, we’ve all had our fair share of customers who cost more than what our agencies bring in. But we only have to look at Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to recognize you can drive real company growth without necessarily paying a ton of dividends.

For the longest time, Amazon was unprofitable, largely due to Bezos’s disinterest in short-term gains. He’d rather focus on the actual or true value of the company: free cash flow and revenue, not stock price and dividends.

Can an agency adopt that same attitude? Yes, but not for years like Bezos did. You need to chase smart, right-sized revenue, and sometimes that means leaving room on your plate so when you find it, you can grab it.

If you want to scale and build a sustainable business, avoid getting stuck in a cycle where you bring in revenue for the sake of it. That’s just “make-do” thinking, and it will generate the wrong kinds of leads (in turn, generating the wrong kinds of sales).

Instead, it’s best to monetize recurring revenue with your existing client base or invest additional resources into securing retainer clients. By devoting time and money to these sources of revenue, you may take a loss initially, but it’s more sustainable long-term.

3. Educate Clients

Owning an agency calls for the courage and confidence to recognize the value you offer. Part of this value, naturally, comes from results. But an even larger portion is owed to your knowledge.

Tap into this knowledge to educate your clients. Share information in an instructive yet conversational fashion. That way, clients never feel like you’re talking down to them, and they’ll glean a better understanding of what your agency can do for their business.

According to a recent study by Conductor, consumers are 131% more likely to buy immediately after reading or hearing educational content. Thus, see every customer interaction as an opportunity to educate.

We all know it costs significantly less to keep existing customers than to gain new ones; it’s also easier to get someone who has already given you money to give you more. Educate clients you already have so they make more informed decisions, and these decisions could lead to more revenue—sustainable revenue, at that.

Recently my colleague, Sam, helped a friend remove an agency. It wasn’t because that agency was necessarily bad; it was more about the effort—or lack thereof, really—that it put into proactively helping the company understand.

You need to find your bravado—you know, the one that inspired you to launch an agency in the first place. Get your swagger back and embrace your knowledge. Share it even when it feels a bit uncomfortable. Your clients will thank you for it.

As a marketer, these are the values to look for when you’re choosing an agency. Look for those who hold strong opinions, those who are not afraid to accept revenue loss, and those who are striving to educate their clients. Are there any other values an agency should strive for? Tell me about them in the comments.

The post Clients Long for Brave Agencies: 3 Fears to Conquer appeared first on Marketo Marketing Blog – Best Practices and Thought Leadership.

How to Send a Press Release in 5 Steps [+ Distribution Tips]

The best way to send a press release is to personally send it to media outlets as well as syndicate it using an online service. This makes curating your own media list and selecting an online press release service important components of the five-step process. If done correctly, you’ll communicate your message to your intended…

The post How to Send a Press Release in 5 Steps [+ Distribution Tips] appeared first on Fit Small Business.

29 Simple Ways to Grow Your Email List

I have some bad news: Your email marketing database degrades by about 22.5% every year.

Your contacts’ email addresses change as they move from one company to another, opt-out of your email communication, or abandon that old AOL address they only use to fill out forms on websites.

As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure you’re constantly adding fresh contacts to your email marketing campaigns so you can keep your numbers moving up and to the right. (But not by purchasing email lists — learn why you should never buy an email list in this post.)

If you’re not working on building your email list already, or you’ve run out of ideas to do so, here are 29 simple ways to grow that email list.

29 Creative List Building Techniques

Using Email

1. Create remarkable email content

Your content needs to be amazing if you want people to stay subscribed and forward your emails to their own network. If it’s entertaining enough, they’ll always look forward to your emails.

2. Encourage subscribers to share and forward your emails

Include social sharing buttons and an “Email to a Friend” button in your marketing emails. That way, you’ll gain access to their friends, colleagues, and networks and expand your contact list. At the bottom of your emails, include a “Subscribe” CTA as a simple text-based link so that the people receiving the forwarded emails can easily opt-in, too.

3. Segment your email lists by buyer persona

Use varying types of email subscriptions to send more targeted content to specific segments of your marketing personas. Email recipients are more likely to click through emails that cater to their specific interests, so if you create multiple, targeted subscription types, you’ll increase the chance that visitors will subscribe to one of them.

4. Reinvigorate a stale email list with an opt-in campaign

Do you have an older list that you suspect has mostly decayed? Create an engaging opt-in message and send it to your old list encouraging contacts who wish to re-opt-in — promising to remove all contacts who don’t respond. Though it might seem counterintuitive to remove folks from your email lists in order to grow them, emailing only engaged contacts could improve your deliverability and increase the odds of your email getting shared with those outside your current contacts database.

5. Add a link to your employees’ signatures

Hyperlinked email signatures can lead people to a landing page where they can sign up for your mailing list. Plus, if you’re already in a natural email conversation with them, subscribing to more emails can be a natural next step.

With New Content

6. Create a new lead-generation offer 

Develop a free ebook or whitepaper and host it on a landing page that asks visitors to provide their email address in order to download it. This is called a “gated offer.” (Need ideas? This blog post lists 23 ways to create lead-generation content quickly and easily.)

7. Create a free online tool or resource

Free online tools make your users’ lives easier, and all they have to do is sign up with their email address. For example, we’ve created quite a few free tools, like Marketing Grader, to gather email addresses.

8. Create ‘Bonus’ Content

Not all gated content is worth it to a website visitor. In order to gain their interest, you need to give them free content first. Start with a blog post that offers beginner advice on a subject, then offer “bonus” content with more advanced tips that they can access by submitting their email address via a landing page.

Using Social Media

9. Promote an online contest

Use your social media accounts to host a free giveaway in exchange for contact information. Encourage entrants to click through to your website and sign up using their email address. 

10. Promote one of your lead-gen offers on Twitter

Create a Twitter campaign to promote an ebook or a free resource to your followers that requires an email address to redeem. 

11. Promote an offer through Facebook that requires an email address

Promote content on your Facebook Timeline that your followers can sign up to access. Be sure to add social sharing buttons to the landing pages and thank-you pages you send them to so you encourage your leads to share those offers with their own networks.

12. Add a call-to-action button to the top of your Facebook Business Page

We added calls-to-action (CTAs) on our Facebook page for HubSpot Academy below. The value in this list building technique is in the destination: Link your Facebook page’s CTA button to a landing page that requires an email address for access to a special resource.

Facebook business page for HubSpot Academy with Sign Up button for email list building

13. Publish links to gated offers via social media

Use your Facebook Business page or LinkedIn Company Page to post links to the same gated offers you might also host on your blog posts. You can also do this in appropriate and relevant LinkedIn group discussions — just be mindful of the topic being discussed to ensure your offer is a welcome addition to the conversation.

14. Use Pinterest to promote gated visual content

Pinterest can play host to visual content that encourages visitors to sign up to see more content. For example, HubSpot created a Pinterest board where we pin the well-designed covers of our marketing ebooks. From this board, we’ve been able to generate new leads and grow our email list.

hubspot-ebooks-pinterest

15. Add engagement features to your YouTube channel

Add hyperlinked “end cards” to your YouTube videos that encourage people to subscribe to your channel via their email address. You can see an example of this below, to the bottom right of the video screen. You can also include links to relevant landing pages in your videos’ text captions below your published video.

End card on HubSpot YouTube video for email list building

On Your Website

16. Ask website visitors for feedback

People enjoy offering feedback on information that pertains to them. On certain pages of your website, include a form that asks visitors what questions they might have about your business. You might also create a live chat tool that invites questions and email addresses from people who have stayed on your website for a certain amount of time.

17. Shorten the length of your lead-capturing forms

It’s tempting to collect as much information on a user as possible right away, but adding too many fields to your landing pages and lead-capturing forms can actually scare people off. Reduce the length of your forms to just two to three fields — you can collect more information from them once you start a conversation.

18. Link to offers across your website that capture email signups

Don’t make people dig around your site to stumble across subscription options. Keep your offers up front, and include calls-to-action on multiple pages of your website. Some key places to consider include your website’s homepage, your ‘About Us’ page, and your ‘Contact Us’ page.

19. A/B test different campaign copy

You might be doing all the right things to generate leads — landing pages, gated content, contests, and more. The problem might be that the design or copy itself isn’t driving the engagement you need. A/B test (also known as “split test”) different aspects of your list-building campaigns with different versions of the same content. This includes the call-to-action text, the color of the gated offer, the time of day you’re posting to social media, and even where on your website these signup forms are placed. Sometimes a small change can drive hundreds more conversions.

20. Create a blog that readers can subscribe to

If you don’t already blog, you should! Blog posts help you increase your ranking on search engines like Google, and allow you collect blog subscribers that you can then upgrade to more actionable email campaigns over time.

21. Guest blog for other websites with a call-to-action

There are tons of websites and publishers out there that cater to your audience — and larger portions of it. Guest blogging for these websites helps you expand your contact list to this audience. When creating content as a guest blogger for another website, include a call-to-action, as well as a link in you author byline, for readers to subscribe to your site’s blog or email newsletter.

22. Include customer reviews on your website and landing pages

Customer reviews are the “social proof” that encourages people to join in on something. It’s one thing for you to tell people to sign up for a campaign, but it’s another thing for your happiest customers to say it too. Publish your best reviews from communities like Yelp right to your website. This adds genuine value to your landing pages when people are on the fence about submitting their contact information. 

With a Partner

23. Run a promotion on a partner website or email newsletter

Similar to guest blogging, partner websites can allow you to target a new but appropriate audience with a campaign on your own website. Use this partner source to direct visitors back to your website — where you’re already collecting email addresses.

24. Host a co-marketing offer with a partner 

Creating an ebook or webinar with a partner can split up the work of content creation and allow you to share the audience of a similar business. After you release your content, split the leads you generate with your partner.

With Traditional Marketing

25. Collect email addresses at a trade show 

Offline events like trade shows are highly anticipated growth opportunities for professionals in your industry. Demo your latest product at an appropriate conference and collect signups in-person. Once you’re back at the office, import these signups into your contact database. Be sure to send these contacts a welcome email that confirms their opt-in to your list. (See #8 in this blog post for tips on sending welcome emails.)

26. Host your own offline, in-person events

Meetups, seminars, hackathons, educational panels, and even your own conferences put you front and center of a networking event, and those who attend are often more qualified to be contacted because they came to your event. Take the opportunity to collect email addresses in exchange for the info and demos you provide at the event.

27. Host an online webinar

Webinars are the perfect opportunity to talk about your industry and access the audience of thought leaders whom you might want to present with. The best part? Webinars are normally registered for via email, making your listeners more willing to be contacted afterward. Collect email addresses at registration.

28. Add QR codes to your display ads

Incorporate a QR code into your print marketing collateral that people can scan for more information on the printed content. Create the QR code such that it requires an email address to access the additional content. (There are many free QR code makers online that make this process easy.)

29. Collect emails in your store

If you have a brick-and-mortar presence where you interact with customers face-to-face, create an email campaign just for those walk-ins. Launch a store membership they can sign up for via email at the register. This is a smart way to keep in touch with repeat customers and reward their loyalty to your product.

These are all examples of things you can start doing today to increase your business’ email database. Many of them are not complicated or difficult to implement. The key is to attack email list-building from as many angles as possible.

As you grow your email list with fresh, opt-in contacts, you’ll be able to nurture them with middle-of-the-funnel offers that allow you to convert early-stage leads into sales-ready leads.

lead flows

 
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