Email Marketing

White House Landing Page – Video Critique

White House Landing PageThe White House landing page is the page you see when you visit their site (for the first time). They use a so-called welcome gate to direct new visitors to the landing page.

The goal is to get people to join their emailing list.

And to be honest, the page is quite okay. But it could be better and here are some ways they could increase their conversion.

3 Strategies for Email Marketing and How to Succeed with Each

3 Strategies to Email Marketing

The three strategies to email marketing can all work well, if your copy is good. photo: Glen Edelson

Email marketing has the highest response rate out of any marketing method.

Does that mean spamming works? Well, someone has to buy something from spammers, otherwise they’d become extinct.

But there’s spamming, and then there’s quality direct email marketing.

The latter is one of the best strategies to market B-2-B products and services, but B-2-C businesses can learn a lot from it too.

It might not be right for you. Maybe content email marketing works better for your business, but understanding the principles behind the other two email strategies will make a huge difference to your success.

So, here are the three strategies to email marketing, how to figure out which is best for your business, and how to succeed with each.

How to Seduce a Goldfish

People have the attention-span of a goldfish. And that affects your marketing.

People have the attention span of a goldfish. And that affects your marketing.

Have you ever knocked on the side of a fish tank and felt betrayed by the goldfishes that ignored you?

You push your face against the side, yell at them—loudly enough to wake up a fossil—or serve their favorite purple treats that smell like chicken poo, and they’re still more fascinated by the water around them than you.

Does your website or marketing efforts remind you of that fish tank? No matter what you do, no one notices.

It could be that people have the attention span of a goldfish.

Depending on the goldfish, it’s somewhere between three and 10 seconds.

That’s how long you have to turn apathy into solid interest or risk losing your visitors and prospects to other sites and businesses.

Understanding what makes people excited about your message is the key to effective writing and marketing.

101 Headline Formulas that Capture Attention and Get Your Message Read

101 Headline Formulas - The Ultimate Swipe File

“The Only Swipe File You’ll Ever Need”

The headline is the most important part of any text.

It will either keep people reading what you have to say, or send them away.

How many headlines do you read during a day? Twitter, Facebook, email, magazines, etc. Altogether 100? Maybe more?

And how many of those make you read more?

An average headline gets around 25% of people to read on. And even fewer read to the end. Even when reading and leaving are the only possibilities (landing pages, magazines, etc.).

What do you think happens to those percentages in Twitter where dozens of headlines fight for attention?

So, what can you do to beat the odds?

Stockmann Syndrome – Don’t Try this (Landing Page) at Home

Landing Page Conversion

You can’t always hit the bulls-eye, but you’ll always do fine with these three landing page principles. photo: ##Erika**

Landing pages are a cornerstone of online marketing, but sometimes even large companies forget how to build effective landing pages.

Stockmann is the best known and most prestigious department store in Finland. They’ve been around for 125 years and their special sale is an event people wait almost religiously.

Their marketing is usually really good, but the other day I stumbled onto their opt-in email list landing page. All the three basic elements of an effective landing page were wrong.

I could not believe they could go so wrong with their marketing. But so does many other major companies all around the world.

If you follow these three basic guidelines, you’re landing page will get at least an average conversion. But if you forget even one of these basics, your conversion will sink.

HubSpot’s Content Marketing is Almost Good

Content marketing is the preferred marketing method for many innovative companies. It’s cheaper than traditional marketing and creates better results for most businesses.

In short content marketing is providing valuable content to those who are looking for it. When your content proves useful, prospects are likely to convert into leads.

HubSpot is a company that uses free ebooks as a marketing method. You only need to submit your email and you get valuable ebooks from them.

I’ve downloaded a few of their ebooks and I can easily recommend them.

They also use blogs and social media channels for their marketing. And they do this all really well. But there’s one problem. And it’s a serious one.

After reading a couple of their ebooks and using some of their online services, I didn’t know what I could buy from them.

I really didn’t know what I could get from them. I know it was mentioned somewhere but I was able to avoid it.

So, what went wrong?

  • They had me in their emailing list. Check.
  • I was actually reading the content they provided. Check.
  • I’m a good prospect, I could use their product. Check.
  • When I think about the problem their product solves, I remember them. NO!

Whenever someone talks about content marketing, they’ll say, “It’s about the content. Don’t hard sell your services!”

Well, if the prospect doesn’t know what you actually sell, they’re unlikely to buy it. You could argue that when some content proves really valuable, you’ll check out the provider of that content.

That’s probably true sometimes, but not nearly always. In this case I only checked out what HubSpot sells after I realized I didn’t know it already. (They sell an inbound marketing software. You can get a free 30 day trial here.)

What can we learn from this? It seems there is such a thing as too “soft” sell when it comes to content marketing.

Include your tagline/slogan/description even to landing pages. And make sure people who read/use your content, will also figure out what you sell.

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Email Customer Contact: What to do With Your Last Email

This is the fifth and last post in the five-part series on email customer contact.

Yesterday’s post was about getting the customers looking for answers to buy your products. Today it’s about leaving a good impression. And to be remembered when they need your services next.

The point of your last email is leaving a good memory. Say just, “Thanks” (or something else equally non-memorable) and it’s okay, but you can do better than “okay”.

One current example is the holiday wishes. “Merry Christmas” is what almost everyone says in their last email now. But just because of that, you shouldn’t.

I’m sure you’ve heard, “Merry Christmas” a hundred times already this year. And every year before. People don’t pay attention to something that happens hundreds of times.

I’m not saying it wouldn’t be nice to wish a merry Christmas. It’s just not memorable. ”Happy Christmas” on the other hand sounds weird enough for you to notice it.

You can say, “merry” if there’s something else interesting in the email. A discount offer, some helpful resources, or even just a recommendation for another product.

Say something the prospect will remember for a while, either “weird” or valuable. I’d rather leave our relationship to where something is expected to happen. Rather than at a point where all business is done.

Customer service people often have an email signature saying something like, “If you have more questions, I’ll be happy to answer them.” That’s again “okay”.

It’s a pretty generic line. It does convey the message, but nothing more. Tweaking it a little would make it more memorable. “I hope I’ve been helpful, but if that’s not the case, I’d be happy to give it another try. So, before you send blood hounds after me, reply to this email and tell me how could I assist you further.”

That’s too much for some people, but please note: people look for genuine human contact when they contact you. Providing that is the single most important goal of all customer service. If a funny signature is what it takes, then do that.

There’s one more important thing about customer service. You should be the last to speak. This is especially true with email. It tells the customer you received their last email and that you took the time to read it and reply. In short: it tells the customer you care about them.

This post concludes the series on email customer service. You can read all the posts here. And please leave a comment. I’d like to know if there’s something missing from this series. Or what you thought about it in general.

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Email Customer Contact: Make the Decision to Buy Easy

This is the fourth post in the five-part series on email customer contact.

In the previous part I explained how to answer questions. This post will explain what you should offer along with the answers. In other words, how to sell to customers looking for answers.

Unless you only have one product, people will ask for help choosing between options. The closer the products are to each other, in terms of functionality, the more confused people are.

An example is web hosting. Shared hosting, VPS hosting, and dedicated servers aren’t something most people understand. Or even want to understand.

The difference is clear to you if you sell the service. But your customers may not see any difference.

Most web hosting companies have carefully explained the differences on their websites and sales pages. But it took me three emails to a hosting company to even remotely understand what the explanations mean. I guess they should’ve read the previous post in this series.

(A hint to web hosting companies: The average blogger doesn’t know how much RAM their server should have. They only know how many visitors and pageviews they approximately get.)

The problem is the language you use. If it takes expertise to understand your explanation, rewrite it. Unless you sell something only a highly trained professional will be interested in, imagine you’re explaining your products to a 7-year old child.

It isn’t enough to make your customer understand your product. They need to understand the difference between your products.

The customer will tell you what’s their interest in your products when they first contact you. They may not spell it out, but it is whatever they focus on. When you explain the differences use the customer’s interest as the metric.

When I contacted the web hosting company, I was interested in loading speed. They missed that and told me how much RAM each option had. I know those two are related, but I don’t know how.

What really surprises me, is how willing companies are to miss out on sales. I was very interested in buying their service but they never told me which service would suit my needs.

So, even if the customer didn’t directly ask for a recommendation you should make one. Don’t make it pushy, just say, “I believe a VPS hosting plan would be best for you at this time. I think so because…”

And finally: make it extremely simple for them to buy. Say something like, “If this option seems good to you, can you please send *required information*, so I can set the service up for you.”

The decision to buy shouldn’t require much thought. Don’t force your customers to think when they don’t want to think.

The last part of this series comes tomorrow. It’s about what you should say in your last contact with the customer.

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Email Customer Contact: How to Answer Customers’ Questions

This is the third post in the five-part series on email customer contact. The previous post explained what you should remember when sending the first reply.

The way you answer customers’ questions in emails can either create trust or frustration. More often than not I’ve felt the frustration after receiving the reply from customer service.

I’ve been repeatedly surprised by customer service people. It seems they don’t have the capability to handle more than a couple of questions in one email.

I know there are exceptions. I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter some people who do answer all my questions without the need to repeat them in another email.

But usually they only answer the simple questions. Sometimes it even feels like they didn’t read through my email.

When you first read a customer’s email, notice all questions in it. Try making a list of them just to make sure you don’t forget one. It really makes a difference to the customer.

Answer customers’ questions in simple language unless they use professional language themselves. And even then, remember there’s a chance the customer picked up some fancy words from your website, without really understanding them.

Once you’ve answered all the questions, answer the rest of them. The customer is likely to have more questions than the ones in the email.

The customer may not know of the other questions, but some may still exist. And sometimes they just expects you to answer a related question.

I once sent an email to a travel agency to know if I could use a laptop during my flight. The flight was over 30 hours long so they might’ve thought to tell me I couldn’t charge my computer even though I was allowed to use one.

If you take the time to answer your customers’ questions thoroughly, they’ll thank you later.

The next part in the series will explain how to get more interested prospects to turn into customers.

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Email Customer Contact: How to Respond to Customers’ Emails

This is the second post in the five-part series on email customer contact. The previous post explained how you get customers to contact you. I’ll post a new part each day this week.

How you respond to the first email a customer sends you determines what they expect from you later. Actually they already have a solid expectation about you, even before contacting you. But with your reply you can either affirm their expectation, or start to change it.

You should always respond as quickly as possible. But don’t spam them. There’s no point in sending a confirmation email if you’re going to send the actual email an hour later.

If you need time to figure out an answer, you should send a quick reply. Tell them you’ve received their email and that you’re working on it. Estimate when they can expect your answer or promise a reply by a certain time.

There’s nothing more frustrating than, “The issue you’ve been experiencing is being worked on by our technicians. Unfortunately, we’re unable to give a specific time frame…” (I received this reply from my web host when I contacted them because of slow loading speed).

If you need more information to answer the customer’s email then explain why you need it. Just asking without explanation easily seems arrogant.

Before you should attempt to answer specific questions you should figure out what the customer wants. It’s best to send one comprehensive answer to a customer’s email, even when you need a couple of emails asking for more information first.

And finally: use your name when you respond to customers. Even if someone else may answer their next email, you should use your name in emails. I know this seems obvious but to some people it apparently is not. A few weeks ago I was making a reservation at a restaurant. I got the replies from “sales service”. Can you think of a less personal contact info?

The next part in the series is about answering questions. I’m surprised time and time again of how poorly companies respond to customers. It’s like they don’t read the questions from start to finish. More on that tomorrow.

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