Let’s be honest here.
Despite what the marketing experts tell us. Some of us cannot write. Not a Newyork best seller nor a sick note for the boss. Putting interesting words together into a coherent attractive whole has never been a core skill.
I have something to tell you. It doesn’t matter.
Sheepstealer Clothing is a small sports clothing brand in Ireland. It is a personal project where I get to have fun designing t-shirts for passionate fans. It has become my playground to try out different types of marketing. But I have a small issue. I do not know enough about the sport to write about it.
The sport(s) in question are unique to Ireland. Gaelic football, Hurling and Handball. (Read here for a great American perspective of Hurling). It is fast, skilful and great fun to watch with a crowd. I am simply not a sporty person.
What do you do when you cannot write about your market? What I did with sheepstealers is use one of my own core skills. I drew it.
The important thing about content is that it is interesting and adds value for a reader.
I took existing information on the sport and created new interesting visuals around it.
Great, funny quotes from the sport, a guide to the game of hurling or combining other crossover interests.
Infographics are a prime example of this technique. They take existing information, statistics and other data and create a new visual representation of it to help the reader better understand.
The result is new content, updated often, of interest to the market and very sharable. The added bonus is this content now appears in Google image search as well and can be posted on sites like flickr. And it all came about because I couldn’t write.
You can’t write.
So what other skills do you have that can add new value to existing content?
Our super cute Toddle mascot landed in our office today. I have to say we love his little hat in time for the autumn. Want your company logo transformed into a cool knitted version? Check out fiverr.com
This post was originally a guest post on Bloggertone.com
Email newsletters offer one of the highest returns on investment in online marketing, second only to search marketing. But it only works when you do it right.
Assuming you have interested subscribers; the following are the key parts of an email newsletter guaranteed to bring you success.
1. Subject line
Your very first point of contact. Use this to tempt the reader to open the mail.
I add the company name to every subject line to build trust over time. Readers learn that if the mail is from Sheepstealers then there will be something inside they will enjoy or find interesting.
This text will appear in the preview pane of the email client when it arrives to the inbox. It should add to the subject line and provide more reasons to open the newsletter.
3. Main offer
A clear offer with a strong call to action. A reader should be in no doubt what to do next and why. Fancy fonts will need to be images so make sure you have text and links that work when images are turned off.
4. Sell stuff.
Don’t forget your ultimate goal is to sell your products or service.
5. Being useful
Subscribers would get turned off pretty fast if every mail was about me. I always add content I know would be of use to a subscriber. It increases the chance of them opening again next month.
6. Expand the conversation
People love sharing good links and information online. With an army of subscribers loving your updates, make it easy for them to tell others and chat back to you.
A personal touch to let them know you are human and a simple reminder of where they signed up can drastically reduce the number who unsubscribe. But if they want to go let them.
8. Short & Sweet
I like keeping my newsletters short and easy to scan. If I have a long article I split it into a snappy taster for the newsletter and a read more link going to the blog.
That’s all! If you start applying these points to your email marketing campaigns you will see your open and click through rates start to rise.
Disclosure: Sheepstealer GAA T-Shirts is a product from Spoiltchild. This email does not currently exist and was produced for this post.
Find out more about Dot Conf here. Click the video below to play. You will need flash to view.
You have a blog, email newsletter, facebook page and twitter account. Now what?
You got yourself set up. You are blogging weekly and sending links out via email, Facebook and twitter but you are starting to feel like you are talking to yourself. In fact looking at your follower numbers you are talking to yourself.
Here are 5 steps to start building an audience. One for each working day of the week.
Monday: Find people to follow on twitter.
There are a few ways to do this effectively.
The following Monday use a tool like http://tweepi.com to follow everyone who is following you and you are not following back.
Unfollow everyone who did not follow you back last week to leave room for you to follow new people this week.
Tuesday: Post exclusive content on your Facebook page.
Tell people on your blog, twitter and email to go over and check it out and respond.
Wednesday: Ask a question on your blog and ask people to comment.
Tell people on the blog, Facebook and Twitter you are sending out your newsletter soon and they need to be subscribed to get it.
Thursday: Retweet others.
Comment on their Facebook page. Leave a comment on their blog post or write a longer blog post to reply to their points. They are more likely to follow you back.
Friday: Tell everyone on Facebook, Twitter and your email to check out this weeks blog posts.
Check for people talking to you and reply.
Search for keywords in your industry on twitter search and Google alerts and add your 2c.
Tell everyone about any new content or news you publish.
Photo by Anirudh Koul
Below is a talk I did at this years Techstars Startup Bootcamp seminar as part of the Dublin Web Summit. It is an overview of how email can be used to build the value and reach of your business and reduce your workload.
Transcript from the talk:
Email is dead!
It has been killed by IRC, by blogging, by MySpace, Friendster, Twitter, Facebook and Google Wave if you remember. And like a Bond villain, while they’re explaining their plan to exterminate Bond, Bond has slipped off, got the woman and has set the bomb.
Now, a few companies, I just want to highlight, that are based upon email, Groupon, you might have heard of, which recently turned down an offer from Google for six billion.
This guy Paul, actually his second name has just gone blank on me, he sold his email list for eight million and it was Help A Reporter Out . Which is a simple list, newspaper reporter has a story he’s looking for sources and they fire an email out to the database. He sold that database for eight million.
Trillist Nation last year hit ten million in sales and two million subscribers.
Daily Candy , which is probably one of the bigger email lists here, it sold to Comcast for $128M and these are basically databases of email subscribers, which are emailed to often with offers, cool places to go to, things to see. So that shows the value that email can be to your business.
The Direct Marketing Association of America put the value at thirty, around thirty Euros, and that came in slightly under organic search in terms of return investment.
So a few points to help you use email effectively in your business:
Capture subscribers everywhere, and I mean everywhere, even here as your exchanging business cards, ask can I add you to my new newsletter list.
This is probably how you’re doing marketing currently. You’re doing it scatter shot approach, blogging, you might be doing a podcast, you’re putting stuff out on Twitter, on LinkedIN, Facebook you’re maybe doing flyers, newspaper ads, I suggest on each of those points of contacts that you’re putting out there, you ask for users email details, because the value to your business is going to be building up that email database. That database of leads, people who are interested, that’s where the long-term value in your business can be built up. That’s just pulling all those points together and kind of centered them around your email database. I’m constructing this kind of framework at the moment around a marketing loop. So on each of your points of contact, you’re asking for an email subscription and you drive future contact through that email. You’re driving people to your Twitter, you’re driving people to your LinkedIN, you’re driving people to you Facebook. It’s prompting instant reaction, you now become in charge of your contact, with are prospects, which are customers, and you then hold that value. Facebook, tomorrow could suddenly start charging one thousand Euros a month for a business page and not letting you take out your contacts, whereas if you’ve got that email address, With the email address, I think Flowtown was mentioned earlier, I think they’re changing their services at the moment so I’m not too sure, but it’s a service that with the basic email address you can find out a subscribers Twitter details, their Facebook details, their LinkedIN details and with a basic email address you can find a full profile across the web, not just within the silos of Twitter, of Facebook or LinkedIN, and that’s where your long-term value is.
So, what do you do with those email addresses once you have them? It’s very, very simple, send a monthly ‘We’re not dead’ email, just to keep contact with them, let them know you’re still alive. Keep yourself within their frame of reference. They might not need you now, but down the line they think, I need a service like…oh I got that email. So that’s your ‘I’m not dead’ email.
Keep it short and sweet and keep it often.
Second, ask your subscribers to buy stuff. You might remember the marketing loop, this is how that would then turn into a sales email. So you pick a segment of your subscribers, which are of particular interest, it might be in a particular area, they might have bought from you previously. You pull them out of the marketing loop into a sales process. Whatever it might be.
I’m going to ask you all to stand up for this. I’m sorry for the guys with laptops. A bit of audience interaction here. I hear a few curses up there. All right, so I’ve just chosen to target a sales email at you, so I’ve created my email, for there’s about a hundred people in here but each of you will count for about a hundred people, so I’ve created my email, a thousand subscribers here, now I’m going to test two versions of the email with different headlines to see which gets the best reaction. I’m going to go send it out to two hundred people, one hundred people get one, one hundred people get the other. From there I’ll see which one gets the best results. Now I’ll ask the two lines at the back, sit down please.
Now I send the winner to the remainder of you guys, eight hundred people. Of that, only about two hundred people are going to open. So, everyone but the front two lines stay standing. Sorry, front two stay standing, everyone else sit down please.
Of those two hundred about eight will click, so I’ll just ask this line here to stay standing, everyone else sit down.
Of those eight, only about one will buy and for the purposes here, that’s Des at the end here, now Des has just sold a day’s worth of consulting through that sales email. And probably cheap, I know Des, what you charge a thousand Euros for a day’s consulting , excellent value by the way. Now, he just spent ten Euros on that email, send it out and he’s just earned one thousand Euros from it. That’s a typical example of a sales email from a database that you’re keeping current and you’re keeping in that marketing loop. I’m going to say if you’re not getting at least that, you have a few problems.
An econsultancy.com survey, this year, they surveyed all their members and they went out and surveyed people on the street, and they placed email ROI second behind organic SEO which I think I covered earlier.
Stalk your subscribers!
There’s an amazing amount of information you can get on your subscribers. We talked earlier about Flowtown.com and how you can guess where else they populate on the web. Through your email statistics and tracking, so that sales email you sent out, you can see how many people opened it, who opened it, when they opened it, any bounces any dead emails in there. That’s hugely valuable data. There’s a company I heard of recently and they were sending out targeted emails and they’re actually tracking the time that you opened that email. They’ll send out any future offers based on that time, because they know generally you’re sitting in front of the computer at that time and are more likely to react.
Automate your email as much as possible. We all don’t have a lot of time. This is behind the curtain of our own web app and so we’ve built our own auto-responder system, and in it we can set up emails so any interaction a user has on our system, gets tracked and can trigger an automatic email. So they’ve just signed up, the system can send an automatic email. They’ve signed up but they haven’t checked out the system in a couple of months, we can send out an email. They just bought, we can send out an email with other items they might also be interested in buying, based on that. The value in a relatively simple system is immense to your business. You can build your own, there are systems out there that you can use as well, auto-responder systems that don’t necessarily give you the same flexibility as if you built your own, but can be a starting point. An example from DropBox, you haven’t used our system in a while, can we help you, anything we can do. You’ve just bought a room at the Luxor hotel, why not try our restaurant as well, as you’re in the buying mood if you buy now instead of when you arrive you get a discount.
Re-marketing, now this is a new area for , I would say, and it’s something that I’m getting very very excited about. Re-marketing is, touched on earlier, but tracking a user through your system. Track a user through your shopping cart system right. As early in the process as you can get a contact detail for that user, and if they drop out during the checkout process, for any reason, follow-up with them and ask why. Eight-seven percent of consumers abandoned carts, but only five percent say they will return to complete the purchase, but you should instigate that return with a very simple email. So, we’ve seen sales funnels earlier, at the end of the sales funnel, during the checkout process, that’s where you’ll see at the drop-outs. But there’s no reason you can’t track what they put in their shopping cart system and at what point the dropped out. If two hours later and you see they still haven’t completed the checkout process, fire out an email and say your shopping cart is just about to expire, return quickly and complete the purchase. Or if you know they’re definitely not going to return and pay the same price, offer them a discount. We’re not offering fifteen percent off, it just happens to be the same item you were looking at. Do you want to buy now? You can see a lift in probably about twenty-five percent of sales just through that technique alone, it’s well worth looking at.
A few examples, Skin Store thank you for your recent visit, you left some items in your bag, as a courtesy we saved those items for seven days. Click here to view your shopping cart.
So that’s a quick overview of email and possibilities of email marketing and email sales. I heavily suggest you look into it directly, there are huge opportunities. Email has been consistent over the last umpteen years in making money for business.
Social is shiny and email is money.
All right, thank you all.
Before you add the subject line to your next email have a look at this.
The above video is a remake of this:
I think the English one benefits from tighter editing.
Eoghan McCabe over on the Contrast blog wrote a post this week on 7 rules for choosing a business name. The rules come from a presentation by Marty Neumeier which can be found here.
Now I personally hate rules, or other peoples rules to be more specific. This is probably why I started Toddle to work under my own rules on how email should be done. What is interesting when looking through the list is how different my own approach is. Whether it is our design agency Spoiltchild, Toddle, Clothing company SheepStealers, Daddy and Son funky matching socks BigFeet LittleFeet or our image review web application FineTuna.
This is my own thought process when name storming.
1. Does it create a story?
Spoiltchild was the first, and it quickly showed me the importance of your name having a story.
Almost every first meeting I had with a client, the first question would come with a smile on their face. “Great name, where did you come up with it?”
And the honest reply would always lighten and relax the mood for a great meeting to follow. If reading this and you want the story you will have to meet me in person!
2. Is it memorable?
This ties in with point 1, does it create a story? Stories stick in our mind and get shared with others. The book Made To Stick is a must read on the power of stories in marketing. SheepStealer Clothing instantly creates an image or story in your mind and is also related to the product.
3. Is there humour?
This is my own personality. I always stray towards humour and playfulness. If a name seems to take itself too seriously it is instantly scrapped. But I also believe this connects with points 1 and 2. Humour connects on a personal level. To be funny it has to have a story that a person can connect with.
FineTuna came about when I misheard someone in the office say “…fine tune a design”. And I loved how a cat thinking about a fish in the logo had absolutely no obvious connection with reviewing design mock ups.
4. Is it personal?
If I am going to spend years devoting my time to a business I love, the name has to have some personal connection to me.
If it can help make a personal connection with you then that is the right business name.
Toddle came about from the idea of really simplifying email marketing down so anyone could use it. Break it down to baby steps or a toddle. That toddle or baby steps connected wonderfully with the main business name at the time Spoiltchild we knew it was a winner.
5. Is the .com available?
This is where it gets difficult. But perhaps it doesn’t have to? I can honestly say that when i followed the steps above, I came up with names that were so personal and unique to me no one else had any reason to come up with them. In all but one name, the .com was available. And these were the first names that I decided on before looking.
A few notes on what I didn’t do.
Try and squeeze SEO keywords into the url. I know this can have benefits in search but personally I do not like it for branding a business. I get lost in the myriad of similarly named businesses. BlueWidgets inc or RedWidgets LLC. I am sorry but I will not remember which of you I talked to last time and will have difficulty talking about you to others. I have used it for marketing campaigns and sites for example Beautiful Email Newsletters but you will notice as a brand people connect with BEN (Beautiful Email Newsletters) the curator of the site.
Also having a unique name makes it a thousand times easier to monitor twitter or google alerts for mentions of your business.
Choose a name and add “app” or “hq” on the end if the .com was not available. Again I think this is confusing to people and I am sure who ever has the .com is very grateful for all the visitors your marketing money is mistakenly sending them.
And I didn’t go out and survey a 100 people for market research on what they thought of the name. If I did I can guarantee 99 would have said that all the above were unsuitable names for a business.
In the years after launching I can only remember 1 person ever telling me they didn’t like a name, and they still did business with me.
The above image is from here and is free to use on your own website or email.
Great chart today from Marketing Sherpa on the most effective strategies for building your email subscriber list.
They surveyed 1,100 marketers not just about which strategy pulled in the most email addresses but which brought in the highest number of quality leads.
Notice how the highest quality comes at the point where a person is most engaged with a business.
Look around to see where you have most contact with customers and prospects. What if you asked for an email address?