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23 Simple Email Marketing Tips to Improve Your Open and Clickthrough Rates [+HubSpot Blog Data]

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23 Simple Email Marketing Tips to Improve Your Open and Clickthrough Rates [+HubSpot Blog Data]


Practicing good inbound marketing means sending emails to people who actually want to hear from you.

But oftentimes, your emails still end up getting lost in your customers’ inbox clutter — or worse, their spam folder. And then, when someone actually opens your email, they don’t actually click through.

You might think to yourself, “Ugh, I just can’t win.”

Don’t worry, I’ve got your back. Here are 23 tips that are perfect for small and growing businesses, but anyone can embrace right now to improve their emails’ open rates, clickthrough rates, and lead generation potential.

1. Do not buy email addresses.

I know what you’re thinking: In the early stages of an email marketing newsletter, you want to do whatever it takes to kickstart the campaign and get eyeballs on your business. I get it. Whatever options you see online, however, you should resist the urge to purchase an email list.

There are lots of ways to buy an email list, but none of them will actually benefit your campaign. Why? Since the owners of these email addresses didn’t explicitly agree to receive content from you, there’s no telling how interested they are — or if they’re even a fit for what you have to offer. A bought email list is also in violation of GDPR (we’ll talk more about this in just a minute).

Purchasing email lists is always a bad idea. Get more reasons why in this blog post.

2. Abide by CAN-SPAM rules.

CAN-SPAM (Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing) is an act that was passed in 2003. Essentially, it’s a law that establishes the rules for commercial email and commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have a business stop emailing them, and outlines the penalties incurred for those who violate the law.

In order to be CAN-SPAM compliant, it’s important that your email messages follow these rules, which are available on the FTC’s website.

A few highlights:

  • Include your valid physical postal address in every email you send out.
  • Give recipients a clear and obvious way to opt out (i.e., unsubscribe) of every email you send. (HubSpot customers: Don’t worry — you can’t save an email template unless it includes this element.)
  • Use clear “From,” “To,” and “Reply to” language that accurately reflects who you are.
  • Avoid “no-reply” or similar sender names, which prevent recipients from opting out of an email newsletter if they’d like to.
  • Avoid selling or transferring any email addresses to another list.

Note: Because I am not a lawyer, please do not construe the contents of this article as official legal advice. Check out the FTC’s website for extensive advice on this subject, and read this blog post for more tips on improving email deliverability.

3. Ensure your opt-in process complies with GDPR.

You’ve probably heard of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new law enacted across Europe in May 2018 to better protect internet users’ personal data.

We don’t expect you to have this long piece of legislation memorized. However, if some of your email recipients live in Europe, there is one key guideline by which you should develop your email marketing campaigns:

When your website users land on a page that solicits their personal information, tradition might tell you to include a pre-checked box that opts the user into an email campaign so they can receive updates and special offers related to your business. Today, having this box pre-checked is in violation of GDPR. So, to comply with GDPR, make sure your European users and customers are given the clear option to opt into your email newsletter themselves — don’t make the decision for them.

This rule might sound like bad news for your email marketing campaign, but it can actually improve your open and clickthrough rates. Limiting your subscriber list to just those who specifically asked to join you will ensure only the most interested people are receiving your messages. This maximizes the chances that you’ll convert readers to qualified leads as a result of an email send.

4. Email new contacts within 24 hours.

It’s important to take advantage of the window of opportunity when your company or brand is at the top of your prospects’ minds. You can really get a pulse of what future engagement will look like by what people do when you email then within 24 hours of their subscribing to your newsletter, signing up for an offer, and so on. Plus, it’s a great opportunity for branding and setting expectations.

If you don’t have any automated email workflows set up, you’re likely missing out on some major opportunities to nurture and engage your existing contacts.

(HubSpot customers: Use HubSpot’s Workflows App to create personalized, automated email workflows that can get triggered in a number of different ways: when a contact gets added to a list, submits a form on your website, clicks a link in an email, views a page on your blog, clicks on one of your AdWords ads, or becomes a marketing qualified lead.)

5. Send your emails from a real person, not your company.

When you send email from a real person, your email open rate increases. Plain and simple. This is because — based on past tests we’ve conducted — recipients are typically more likely to trust a personalized sender name and email address than a generic one. People are so inundated with spam nowadays, they often hesitate to open email from unfamiliar senders — and they’re more likely to trust a personalized sender name and email address than a generic one.

At HubSpot, we found that that emails sent from “Maggie Georgieva, HubSpot” perform better in terms of open and clickthrough rate than emails sent from just “HubSpot.” So, it may be best to do this …

… instead of this:

(HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to personalize the “From” name and email address.)

Note: Our tests showed personalization works, but we’ve also found that a combination of a person’s name and a company name together in the sender name works well, too. You’ve just got to A/B test what works best for your particular company, brand, and industry as well as what’s ideal based on to whom you’re sending emails.

6. Pre-set the preview text.

Email clients like the iPhone Mail app, Gmail, and Outlook will display the first few lines of text from the body of your email alongside the subject line. In other words, it’s a text preview of the content inside the email. The exact amount of text shown depends on the email client and user settings.

Use it to provide a short, to-the-point synopsis of what you’re offering — and keep it to 50 characters or less.

email-preview-text-in-inbox.png

When you don’t set the preview text, the client will automatically pull from the body of your email, which not only looks messy, but is also a wasted opportunity to engage your audience. (HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to set the preview text of your emails.)

7. Write clear and clickable subject lines.

Speaking of the subject line … your marketing emails have a lot to compete with in recipients’ inboxes. The best way to stand out is to write compelling, “can’t-help-but-click-on-this” subject lines.

To entice readers to click, be sure your subject lines:

  • Are super clear and understandable.
  • Are fewer than 50 characters so they don’t get cut off, particularly by mobile devices.
  • Use language and messaging that your target buyer persona is familiar with and excited about.
  • Include verbs and action-oriented language to create a sense of urgency and excitement.
  • Include an exclusive value proposition (like 20% off an item or a free ebook) so people know what they’re getting.
  • Avoid spam triggers like “Cash,” “Quote,” and “Save.”
  • Are timely, if applicable. (One of my favorite subject lines came from Warby Parker and read: “Uh-oh, your prescription is expiring”.)
  • Include their first names sometimes (it could increase clickthrough rates), or even add something about their specific location. (You’ll want to do this sparingly, like for your most important offers, rather than over-doing it and being repetitive or intrusive.)

Read this blog post for more tips on writing clickable, delightful subject lines.

8. Keep your emails concise.

Everyone’s busy and their inbox is already full. Why add to the problem with a longwinded email? People generally like short, concise emails better than long ones because concise emails have an obvious focus. Plus, when your users are scanning through all their emails in a short amount of time, they’re more likely to find the overall message before deciding to take any action.

Another reason to keep your emails short? Too much copy is actually a red flag for spam filters, too.

To keep your emails short and compelling, write your email like you were talking to someone in real life. If your email has to be on the long side, break it up into multiple paragraphs to provide visual breaks. This’ll make skimming it much easier on your reader. (Read this blog post on how to write compelling emails for more tips.)

Here’s a great example of a concise email:

free-lattes-concise-email-language.png

9. Include one call-to-action button per email.

Remember when I said a lot of your email recipients will scan your email without reading all the copy? That’s why you want to have a clear call-to-action (CTA) button that’s easy to spot for even the quickest of email scanners. Without a CTA button, you won’t be calling on your recipients to take any action that actually benefits them — and the growth of your business.

You’ll want to place your CTA in a location where it’s easily visible and where it makes sense for someone to click on it. For example, you might put a CTA to download a free ebook in an email that describes new strategies for using your product.

Once you’ve determined where you want to put your CTA, it’s time to create the button itself. Click here to download 50 free CTA button templates to get you started. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to add CTA buttons to emails in HubSpot here.)

10. Add alt text to your CTA image.

Many email clients block images — including your CTA buttons — by default. That means a good chunk of your audience may not see your beautiful, optimized CTA. Instead, they see this:

When you set an image’s alt text, though, you let recipients who can’t view images in their email know exactly where to click to complete the action:

CTA image with alt-text in an email.

You can either edit the alt text in your email tool’s rich text editor (just right-click the image and edit away), or you can manually enter it in the HTML editor of your email tool like this:

<a href=”HTTP://YOURLINKHERE.COM“><img class=”alignCenter shadow” src=”YOUR CTA BUTTON IMAGE SOURCE HERE.JPG” alt-text=”YOUR ALT-TEXT GOES HERE“/></a>

11. Hyperlink your emails’ images.

Your ultimate goal in email marketing is to get people to click through to a web page. One way to increase the clickthrough rate without littering the copy with links is to hyperlink the images in your email to the webpage that corresponds with the content of the image.

If you’re inviting readers to download an ebook, for example, and you have a picture of the ebook included in the email, don’t just hyperlink the text next to the image telling people to “download it here.” Hyperlink the ebook’s picture, too. People are drawn to images much more commonly than text, and you want to give your email subscribers as many options to get your ebook as you can.

You can simply click on the image and then use your email tool’s “Insert/Edit Link” option, or you can link an image in the HTML editor using the following code:

<a href=”HTTP://YOURLINKHERE.COM“><img class=”alignCenter shadow” src=”YOUR IMAGE SOURCE HERE.JPG“/></a>

12. Include noticeable text links.

In general, it’s a good idea to link to your featured offer in multiple places in addition to the clear and focused call-to-action button. In addition to your main CTAs and images, consider including a noticeable text link (or two) when applicable, as having more links increases the opportunity for engagement.

13. Place at least one clickable item above the fold.

One way to make your emails more clickable? Place one or more of your clickable elements — whether it’s a CTA button, a text link, or a clickable image — near the beginning of your email.

This is especially useful for mobile users. Mobile tends to require a lot of scrolling, and sometimes squinting, pinching, and zooming. Giving a recipient something actionable that is seen upon opening can lead to more clicks in this environment.

14. Add alt text to all of your images.

Again, a lot of email clients out there block images by default. (Here’s the full list from Campaign Monitor.) In those cases, images won’t load unless the recipient clicks a button to show them or change their default settings.

Adding alt text to your email images helps recipients understand your message — even if they can’t see the images right away. (HubSpot customers: Click here to learn how to add alt text to your email images in HubSpot.)

add-alt-text.png

You might consider making the language in your alt text actionable, such as “Click here to download the ultimate content creation kit.” Actionable alt text will essentially turn every linked image into another CTA. So, even if someone doesn’t see the snazzy GIF of my latest offer (or if they hover their mouse over an image that does show up), the alt text will beckon them to click.

15. Avoid background images.

This is especially important if your target buyers tend to use Outlook as an email client.

Microsoft Outlook doesn’t recognize background images, period. Given that Outlook is the fifth most-used email client with 7% of the market share — and that’s in total; your industry might have a lot more — it’s best to avoid using background images altogether.

Instead, use a background color and use images in other ways in your email, like Harry’s did in their email below:

harrys-email-example.png

Image Credit: Beautiful Email Newsletters

16. Add social sharing buttons.

Increasing the number of people who see your link will increase the number of people who click on it. So, be sure to extend the life of your email by adding social sharing buttons.

Social Sharing Buttons

Many email tools will come with templates that have built-in social sharing buttons that make it easy — just fill in the destination URL and you’re good to go. If you don’t have built-in capabilities, here is a cheat sheet for easily creating your own social sharing buttons.

Important Note: If you want to increase clicks, you want to add sharing buttons, not follow buttons. The former will allow your email recipients to pass along the offer URL in your email to their followers. The latter will prompt them to Like, follow, or add your company social media channels.

17. Simplify sharing with ready-made tweets.

People are far more likely to take an action if you make it really, really easy for them. For recipients out there who are too lazy to tweet the wonderful content you sent them via email, you can make it easy for them by creating what we call a “lazy tweet.”

One simple way to do this? Using ClickToTweet, a free custom tweet link generator. First, go to ClickToTweet’s basic tweet generator. Then, type in your tweet, desired (trackable) destination URL, and hashtags:

click-to-tweet-example.png
Click “Generate New Link,” and then grab that link. Then you can link it to your Twitter sharing button. Or, if you’re segmenting your list by attributes such as “has Twitter” or “topic of recent conversion: social media” (you’ll need marketing intelligence software like HubSpot for this), you can even include it in your main email copy, like this:

Premade tweet copy example

18. Add an email forwarding option.

Another way to extend the clicks on your email beyond its shelf life is to prompt your audience to forward the offer. The folks at Litmus found that the most forwarded emails were 13X more likely than the typical email to include “Share With Your Network” calls-to-action. By including forward-to-a-friend (or social sharing links, as we discussed above), you put it in recipients’ minds to share.

You can add a little post-script to the end of your email copy, such as “Not responsible for your company’s social media? Feel free to forward this ebook to a friend or colleague using social media marketing.” Link the call-to-action to a pre-made email, complete with subject and body text. That way, all someone has to do is enter their associates’ email addresses and hit “Send.”

You can highlight text or an image and add the URL via your email tool’s rich text editor and then enter a mailto:? link. Here’s what this looks like:

mailto:?subject=Your%20subject%20here%20&body=Your%20email%20body%20text%20here.

You can also create this in your HTML editor. Here’s how to attach a mailto:? link to text:

<a href=”https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/mailto:?subject=Your%20subject%20here%20&body=Your%20email%20body%20text%20here.”>
forward this ebook</a>.

And here’s how to attach your mailto:? link to an image, such as a sleek call-to-action button that says “Email This Offer”:

<a href=”https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/mailto:?subject=Your%20subject%20here%20&body=Your%20email%20body%20text%20here.“><img class=”alignCenter shadow” src=”YOUR IMAGE SOURCE HERE.JPG” alt-text=”YOUR ALT-TEXT GOES HERE“/></a>

Just make sure you use the “%20” tag to separate words! Otherwise, your message willreadlikethis (not too appealing, right?).

19. Clean up the plain-text version of your emails.

Not every recipient is going to see the beautiful, HTML, rich-text version of your email. Some clients don’t support HTML-rich emails, while other times, a person may simply choose to only view messages in plain text.

When you don’t optimize the plain-text version of your email, this is what happens when someone views it:

Plain-text email done wrong.

Scary, isn’t it? I don’t think many people are going to bother to read through this garbled mess.

So, cut out the extra text, replace long tracking URLs with shortened ones, and keep the body simple. Taking the five extra minutes to optimize your email’s plain-text version could help you reach more of your target segment and keep you out of the spam folder.

Note: When you’re cleaning up your plain-text emails, don’t change the actual copy much at all or you’ll risk it getting marked as spam.

20. Optimize your emails for mobile users.

In Litmus’ analysis of over a billion email opens, they reported that 56% of opened emails were opened on mobile devices in April 2016. This figure represents an 8% increase in mobile opens in the past year.

“This represents a peak for mobile market share,” they wrote, “and the longest sustained growth we’ve seen after the holiday season.”

 

mobile-email-opens-litmus.png

Image Credit: Litmus

As more and more people use their mobile devices to read email and surf the web, it’s more important than ever that marketers design their emails with mobile users in mind. Otherwise, their user base will be significantly affected.

How? Here’s a visual example of what happens when images aren’t optimized for mobile (first) versus when images are optimized for mobile (second):

email-not-optimized-for-mobile.pngemail-optimized-for-mobile.png

Isn’t the second image a much better user experience?

Here are a few ways to optimize your emails for mobile devices:

  • Reduce your images’ file sizes to make up for mobile devices’ generally slower download speeds. (HubSpot customers don’t need to worry about it — images uploaded to HubSpot’s software are automatically compressed. Otherwise, tools like TinyPNG will help you reduce file size.)
  • Ensure the CTA buttons and links are larger than 45-57 pixels for the best user experience. Why? According to an MIT study, the average size of an adult index finger is 1.6-2 cm, which translates to 45-57 pixels on a mobile device.
  • Invest in responsive email templates. Creating your own responsive template may be beyond your particular skill set or bandwidth. Sometimes, the most economical solution is to just license or buy email templates from the people who do it best.

HubSpot customers: HubSpot’s default email templates are all optimized for mobile using responsive design. To access these templates, create a new email and look for the responsive option in the “folders” drop-down in the top left.

responsive-email-1.png

21. Preview and test your emails before sending them.

When you’re finally ready to hit “Send” on your email, make a habit of double-checking one last time whether your emails look as good as you think they do. If your email marketing tool lets you, go ahead and preview what your email looks like in different email clients and devices that are popular with your audience.

(HubSpot customers: You can preview what your emails look like in 30+ email clients right in the HubSpot Email App, as well as preview what your emails will look like on any device — including desktop, tablet, or mobile devices. Click here to learn how.)

You should also send out a test version of your email before you send out the real deal to ensure it’s working properly for everyone on your email list. Start incorporating these as final steps in your email review process. (HubSpot customers: Learn how to test your emails here.)

22. Don’t be afraid to ‘clean up’ your contact list.

It’s tempting to keep every subscriber you win on an email campaign until they personally choose to opt out. But just because they haven’t opted out of an email newsletter doesn’t mean they’re still interested, and subscribers who have become inactive can kill your emails’ open and clickthrough rates.

To make sure you’re only sending emails to the people who want to read them, clean up your email list so that it excludes recipients who haven’t opened a certain amount of emails in the campaign’s recent history. This makes sure your emails’ open and clickthrough rates reflect only your most interested readers, allowing you to collect more effective data on what is and isn’t working in each email you send.

On top of that, a good email list cleaning service removes other email addresses that pose a risk to your inbox placement. “Invalid, abuse, and temporary emails will affect your sender reputation, so it’s best to weed them out,” says Liviu Tanase, CEO of ZeroBounce. “Your desire to grow your list is only natural, but you can’t afford to expand it at all costs. Emailing only valid and active addresses allows you to connect with people who care about your brand, and that’s what every email marketer wants,” Tanase adds.

(HubSpot customers: Lists that add and remove members based on their email behavior are called smart or “active” lists. Learn how to create them in HubSpot Academy.)

23. Monitor each email’s performance.

What’s working in your email campaign this month might not work quite as well next month, and it’s imperative that you check in on your emails’ open and clickthrough rates for opportunities to improve your copy (to do this, of course, you’ll need a tool to track your email analytics).

If after a month of email sends, for instance, you find 10 messages are getting double the engagement as the other 20, analyze them. What did you do differently in the higher performers? Was it the imagery? The subject line? Maybe you have more than one audience segment and one of them just isn’t as interested in your current email content.

Use your email performance data to run A/B tests that are designed to show you what your email recipients really want out of your newsletters, and steer into the trends that you see to make your email campaigns more desirable.

Email marketing can be tough at times — I’m right there with you. But by sending compelling offers to the right target segments and paying attention to the little details that go into an email, you can increase the opens clicks in your emails and generate more leads. (And learn more about which email marketing metrics to track — and how — here.)

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Five questions for our new CMO, Shafqat Islam

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Five questions for our new CMO, Shafqat Islam



Alex Atzberger: Now that you’ve stepped into the CMO role, what are you looking forward to?   

Shafqat Islam: It’s amazing to take on this role at both a category creator and leader. How many brands can be a leader in almost every category–think Experimentation and CMS–that we play in?  

And we have so much to look forward to and build on. We have an exceptional team of marketing leaders and practitioners. They are fiercely intelligent, optimistic, and care deeply about what our products can *do* for our customers. Not just for the people who will encounter the marketing, retail, and product experiences that we support, but for the people who build them. As somebody who has both built products and been deeply immersed in marketing, I love the perspective that our team has.  

Alex Atzberger: What makes Optimizely unique?   

Shafqat Islam: First off, we’re category creators in experimentation and content management, both CMS and CMP. Marketers know this, and analysts know it, as something like 7 major analyst reports will tell you.  

Martech is a crowded field, so it’s true that there are a lot of firms whose territory overlaps with some of ours. But show me another company that can handle the entire content lifecycle like we can. Or show me another company that can do both feature flagging and experimentation.  

We also have a legendary legacy in the martech world. Before I joined, I knew that A/B testing and Optimizely were synonymous, and that the company’s roots go all the way back to the origins of the practice. And that’s something that is like common folklore in marketing and technology.  

And more than anything, the 1500 people who work here are world-class. 

Alex Atzberger: Being a CMO talking to other CMOs and marketing leaders is an advantage. You know the customer. But you’ve also built tech products. How does that affect your work now?  

Shafqat Islam: I’ve spent the majority of my adult life building products for marketers. So I’ve been lucky to spend so much time talking to CMOs and marketers in almost every type of company all over the world. As the founder/CEO of Welcome, my approach was to solve marketer challenges by building products. But now as CMO, I get to use the products we build.  

We’re practitioners of all of our own solutions, so in addition to the natural empathy I have for marketers, I am also close to the job’s unique challenges every day. There’s nothing like that to keep you sharp and keep you close to the customer.  

As a product builder, I knew we must always speak to business outcomes. But as CMO, I love that we aren’t just talking about the solutions – we’re living them, too.  

Because I was an entrepreneur for so long, I also bring another unique view – my willingness to take smart risks. I love to try things, even if (especially if?) the results are sometimes surprising. When it comes to experimentation, there are no failures, only learnings. 

Alex Atzberger: What are the biggest challenges you’re hearing from our customers, current and future?  

Shafqat Islam: Growth, especially given how tough it is out there for so many industries. The stakes are very high when it comes to creating experiences that will win and retain customers. That’s what all of our customers–especially the retail heavyweights-are thinking about.  

And marketing and technology leaders need to do this with leaner budgets. Efficiency matters a lot right now, and that means not only reducing the costs you can see, like the price tag attached to software, but also the costs you can’t see right away, like how much time and money it takes to manage a set of solutions. With that said, in tough times, I think the strongest brands can not just survive but also thrive. I also think when others are fearful, that may be the time to invest aggressively. 

And in the background of all this, there is still the ever-expanding list of customer touchpoints. This is simultaneously an exciting challenge for marketers and an exciting opportunity. More data means more effective storytelling– if you can use it right.

I also hear marketers when they say there’s a need for a shared space for collaboration among us. The role of the marketer is expansive, and it’s only getting more complicated. Building a community where we can come together and appreciate our shared goals is difficult, but I’m optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction.  

Alex Atzberger: What is next in our space? What will marketing and technology leaders be talking about six months from now?  

Shafqat Islam: Looking around now, it’s clear that 2023 will be the year that AI-generated content goes mainstream. We’re just starting to see the uses and the consequences of this. There’s already buzz about ChatGPT and its capabilities, and platforms are already making space to integrate AI functionality into their offerings. It could be an exciting way for users to become better equipped to create and share high-quality content.  

Customers also have gotten very used to personalization. Every screen they see daily is personalized, whether it’s their Netflix account or social feeds. So, when I see a site that isn’t personalized, I kind of scratch my head and wonder, why? With personalization now the norm, expectations for digital creators are sky-high.

Read the official press release.


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What to Consider When Choosing a Brand Ambassador for Your Social Media Campaign

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What to Consider When Choosing a Brand Ambassador for Your Social Media Campaign

Want to maximize the potential of your social media campaign? Then you must ensure to choose the right brand ambassador for the job. Having a good ambassador will increase your social media reach and boost sales. But, selecting the best ambassador can be tricky.

This guide will show you the key steps to consider when selecting the perfect brand ambassador for your social media campaign. From assessing their influence to ensuring their content matches your brand’s mission. This guide will give you the insights you need to make the right decision.

Understanding the role of a brand ambassador

A brand ambassador acts as a company representative, promoting the brand’s products to a specific audience. They are selected for their influence and ability to communicate the brand’s message. Their primary goal is to increase brand awareness and engagement with the audience.

To achieve this, an ambassador shares the brand’s message and builds connections with the target audience. They help to establish trust and credibility for the brand by personally endorsing it through their own experiences. Also, they provide valuable feedback to the company, allowing for product improvements.

Tips for choosing the right ambassador for your social media campaign

1) Assess the credibility and influence of potential ambassadors.

One of the first steps is to ensure they have a very active social media presence. Make sure they have many followers and a high engagement rate. Check the number of followers they have and the type of posts they share. This will give you a good idea of the content they generate and let you know if they are a good fit for your campaign.

Make sure their posts are relevant and appropriate for your brand. If their content is not a good fit, you may want to reconsider hiring them for your campaign. This is important if your brand has a particular message you wish to convey to your audience. If their content is not in line with your brand’s values, it could have a negative effect on your brand’s image.

2) Analyze the compatibility between the ambassador’s content and your brand’s mission.

It’s common to think that a famous ambassador would be a good fit for your campaign. But if their content is not in line with your brand, they are not an option. You may want to go further and check the interaction between their posts and followers. If the interaction is very high and followers actively participate, this is a good indicator of the quality of the ambassador. This will show how much impact the ambassador has among their followers. The interaction of the followers with the ambassador’s posts is important, as it is a good way for them to get to know your brand better.

3) Make sure the ambassador is present on the right social networks.

If your brand uses more than one type of social media, you should ensure the ambassador is present on them. You can choose an ambassador who is active on most of the major social networks. But, you must ensure they have an appropriate presence on each platform.

For example, it may not be a good idea to select an ambassador who is primarily active on Instagram for a Facebook-centric campaign. Remember that followers on each platform are different, and it’s important to reach your desired audience. If the ambassador you choose is present on the right social media platform, it will be easier for them to reach your audience.

4) Set expectations and establish the terms of the partnership.

Once you have selected an ambassador and they have agreed to collaborate with your brand, set the terms of the collaboration. Set clear expectations and tell the ambassador precisely what you want them to do. This includes specifying the type of content that should be posted. It is also important to outline the kind of connection that should be fostered between their followers and your company.

Also, be sure to establish payment terms and any other essential partnership details. For example, if you want the ambassador to promote your brand at a specific event, let them know so they can prepare.

5) Consider brand ambassadors who have experience participating in events.

A brand ambassador with experience working at events and comfortable interacting with customers can be a valuable asset to your campaign. They will be able to promote your brand and products at events and help to build a positive image for your company.

Find a brand ambassador who is professional and comfortable in a high-energy environment. This will ensure they can effectively represent your brand and engage with customers at events. Hire an event staffing agency to ensure the event runs smoothly and let brand ambassadors focus on promoting the brand and connecting with the audience.

6) Complete the selection and onboarding process

Make sure you select an available ambassador with the right skills for your campaign. Verify that the ambassador’s availability matches your campaign schedule.

It’s a good idea to start interacting with the ambassador on social media. It will help you establish a strong relationship, making promoting your brand more accessible. Show the audience that they have rallied behind your brand and thank them for their support.

7) Follow-up and evaluation of the ambassador’s success

Once the campaign is over, follow up with the ambassador to test its success. Ask the ambassador if your promotion has been effective and get their feedback on the campaign. This is an excellent way to improve your campaign the next time you run it. It will also help you identify areas where you can improve your social media strategy.

You can test the success of your social media campaign by looking at three main factors: reach, engagement, and conversions. By considering these factors, you can determine the success of your social media campaign. Also, you can identify any areas that need improvement.

Conclusion

Brands use brand ambassadors to increase engagement and sales of their products. An ambassador has a large following and regularly interacts with your audience. When selecting an ambassador, consider factors such as their social media presence and the ability to communicate your brand’s message. Taking the time to choose the proper brand ambassador will ensure the success of your social media campaign.

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Content Operations Framework: How To Build One

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Content Operations Framework: How To Build One

More and more marketers of all ilk – inbound, outbound, social, digital, content, brand – are asked to add content operations to their list of responsibilities.

You must get your arms around:

  • Who is involved (and, I mean, every who) in content creation
  • How content is created
  • What content is created by whom
  • Where content is conceived, created, and stored
  • When and how long it takes for content to happen
  • Why content is created (the driving forces behind content creation)
  • What kinds of content does the audience want
  • How to build a framework to bring order and structure to all of this

The evolving expectations mean content marketers can no longer focus only on the output of their efforts. They must now also consider, construct, implement, and administer the framework for content operations within their organizations.

#Content marketers can no longer focus solely on the output. It’s time to add content ops to the mix, says @CathyMcKnight via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

What exactly are content operations?

Content operations are the big-picture view of everything content-related within your organization, from strategy to creation, governance to effectiveness measurement, and ideation to content management. All too frequently at the companies – large and small – we consult with at The Content Advisory, content operations are left to evolve/happen in an organic fashion.

Teams say formal content operations aren’t necessary because “things are working just fine.”

Translation: Nobody wants the task of getting everyone aligned. No one wants to deal with multiple teams’ rationale for why the way they do things is the right/best/only way to do it. So, content teams just go on saying everything is fine.

News flash – it’s not.

It’s not just about who does what when with content.

Done right, content operations enable efficacy and efficiency of processes, people, technologies, and cost. Content ops are essential for strategic planning, creation, management, and analysis for all content types across all channels (paid, earned, owned) and across the enterprise from ideation to archive.

A formal, documented, enforced content operation framework powers and empowers a brand’s ability to deliver the best possible customer experiences throughout the audiences’ journeys.

A documented, enforced #ContentOperations framework powers a brand’s ability to deliver the best possible experiences, says @CathyMcKnight via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

It doesn’t have to be as daunting as it sounds.

What holds many content, administrative, and marketing teams back from embracing a formal content operations strategy and framework is one of the biggest, most challenging questions for anything new: “Where do we start?”

Here’s some help in high-level, easy-to-follow steps.

1. Articulate the purpose of content

Purpose is why the team does what it does. It’s the raison d’etre and inspiration for everything that follows. In terms of content, it drives all content efforts and should be the first question asked every time content is created or updated. Think of it as the guiding star for all content efforts.

In Start With Why, author Simon Sinek says it succinctly: “All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.”

All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year, says @SimonSinek via @CathyMcKnight and @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

2. Define the content mission

Once the purpose of the teams’ content efforts is clear (and approved), it’s time to define your content mission. Is your content’s mission to attract recruits? Build brand advocacy? Deepen relationships with customers? Do you have buy-in from the organization, particularly the C-suite? This is not about identifying what assets will be created.

Can you talk about your mission with clarity? Have you created a unique voice or value proposition? Does it align with or directly support a higher, corporate-level objective and/or message? Hint: It should.

Answering all those questions solidifies your content mission.


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3. Set and monitor a few core objectives and key results

Once your content mission is in place, it is time to set out how to determine success.

Content assets are called assets for a reason; they possess real value and contribute to the profitability of your business. Accordingly, you need to measure their efficacy. One of the best ways is to set OKRs – objectives and key results. OKRs are an effective goal-setting and leadership tool for communicating objectives and milestones to achieve them.

OKRs typically identify the objective – an overall business goal to achieve – and three to five key quantifiable, objective, measurable outcomes. Finally, establish checkpoints to ensure the ultimate objective is reached.

Let’s say you set an objective to implement an enterprise content calendar and collaboration tool. Key results to track might include:

  • Documenting user and technical requirements
  • Researching, demonstrating, and selecting a tool
  • Implementing and rolling out the tool.

You would keep tabs on elements/initiatives, such as securing budget and approvals, defining requirements, working through procurement, and so on.

One more thing: Make sure OKRs are verifiable by defining the source and metric that will provide the quantifiable, measurable result.

Make sure objectives and key results are verifiable by defining source and metric, says @CathyMcKnight via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

4. Organize your content operations team

With the OKRs set, you need people to get the work done. What does the structure look like? Who reports to whom?

Will you use a centralized command-and-control approach, a decentralized but-supported structure, or something in between? The team structure and organization must work within the construct and culture of the larger organization.

Here’s a sample organizational chart we at TCA developed for a Fortune 50 firm. At the top is the content function before it diverges into two paths – one for brand communications and one for a content center of excellence.

Under brand communications is each brand or line of business followed by these jointly connected teams: content – marcom, social/digital content development and management, center of excellence content – creative leader, center of excellence PR/media relations, customer relationship management, and social advertising.

Under the content center of excellence is the director of content strategy, manager of content traffic, projects, and planning, digital asset operations manager, audience manager, social channel and content specialist, creative manager, content performance and agility specialist, and program specialist.

Click to enlarge

5. Formalize a governance model

No matter how the operational framework is built, you need a governance model. Governance ensures your content operations follow agreed-upon goals, objectives, and standards.

Get a senior-management advocate – ideally someone from the C-suite – to preside over setting up your governance structure. That’s the only way to get recognition and budget.

To stay connected to the organization and its content needs, you should have an editorial advisory group – also called an editorial board, content committee, or keeper of the content keys. This group should include representatives from all the functional groups in the business that use the content as well as those intricately involved in delivering the content. The group should provide input and oversight and act as touchpoints to the rest of the organization.

Pointing to Simon Sinek again for wisdom here: “Passion alone can’t cut it. For passion to survive, it needs structure. A why without how has little probability of success.”

6. Create efficient processes and workflows

Adherence to the governance model requires a line of sight into all content processes.

How is content generated from start to finish? You may find 27 ways of doing it today. Ideally, your goal would be to have the majority (70% or more) of your content – infographic, advertisement, speech for the CEO, etc. – created the same or in a similar way.

You may need to do some leg work to understand how many ways content is created and published today, including:

  • Who is involved (internal and external resources)
  • How progress is tracked
  • Who the doers and approvers are
  • What happens to the content after it’s completed

Once documented, you can streamline and align these processes into a core workflow, with allowances for outlier and ad-hoc content needs and requests.

This example of a simple approval process for social content (developed for a global, multi-brand CPG company) includes three tiers. The first tier covers the process for a social content request. Tier two shows the process for producing and scheduling the content, and tier three shows the storage and success measurement for that content:

Click to enlarge

7. Deploy the best-fit technology stack

How many tools are you using? Many organizations grow through acquisitions, so they inherit duplicate or overlapping functionality within their content stacks. There might be two or three content management systems (CMS) and several marketing automation platforms.

Do a technology audit, eliminate redundancies, and simplify where possible. Use the inherent capabilities within the content stack to automate where you can. For example, if you run a campaign on the first Monday of every month, deploy technology to automate that process.

The technology to support your content operations framework doesn’t have to be fancy. An Excel spreadsheet is an acceptable starting place and can be one of your most important tools.

The goal is to simplify how content happens. What that looks like can vary greatly between organizations or even between teams within an organization.

Adopting a robust content operations framework requires cultural, technological, and organizational changes. It requires sponsorship from the very top of the organization and adherence to corporate goals at all levels of the organization.

None of it is easy – but the payoff is more than worth it.

Updated from a November 2021 post.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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