Domain names with keywords in them are considered valuable for a variety of reasons, including a long-standing idea that they might be directly or indirectly helpful for ranking purposes.
Choosing a domain name is an important step for launching a website, so it’s important to make the right choice.
The choice of a domain name generally falls into three categories:
- Keyword domain.
- Word + keyword domain.
- Brand domain.
It is arguable which approach is best. What is not debatable is that it’s helpful to learn about the topic before making a decision.
A keyword domain is a domain name with keywords in it. An example can be Widgets.com.
Using a domain name with the keywords in it can provide the perception of authority.
Some companies own generic domain names and redirect them to their websites, for whatever reason.
For example, Coffee.com redirects to Peet’s Coffee, an artisanal coffee roasting company. That makes it easy for people to navigate to Peet’s.
But, the downside of generic keyword domains is that “all of the good ones” are already registered and prohibitively expensive to pry off of a domainer.
There is also some internet history related to generic keyword domains.
There was a time when internet users typed the keywords of a product or service they wanted straight into the browser or search engine. This practice was called direct navigation.
Direct navigation resulted in significant ad revenues to those who owned those domains and “parked” them.
Parking the domain was setting it up so that the domain names showed ads and only ads.
The lucrative business of parked domains was helped by search engines of the time that ranked those parked domain names in the search results.
So, if someone typed a one-word query like [burgers], then Google might rank Burgers.com.
Then in 2011, Google reduced the search visibility of parked domains from the search results.
So, is there ranking power to keyword domains? Not anymore, but John Mueller of Google has something to say about it, more on that below.
Word + Keyword Domain
Because many keyword domains are already registered is why a popular choice is to add a word to the keyword to form a domain name, which helps to describe what a site visitor can expect on visiting the site.
This results in domains like Cheap[name of product/service].com, [name of product/service]Reviews.com, Fast[name of product/service], and so on.
A word plus a keyword for a domain name is not a bad way to go.
Upside Of Word + Keyword Domain
The keyword instantly brands what the site is about, and the word tells the site visitor what to expect in terms of the user intent.
Searching for a review? Try [name of product/service]Reviews.com.
Downside Of Word + Keyword Domain
The downside of this approach is that it locks the website into providing a specific niche and can limit its ability to grow.
So, if you start out as [JoesCameraReviews], it’s going to be hard to transition that site to reviewing (or selling) other products.
There are many sites with keywords in the domain that rank very well.
A branded domain is a domain name that doesn’t necessarily have keywords in it.
Amazon, Zappos, and Etsy are examples of branded domains.
What’s great about a branded domain is that the brand name doesn’t necessarily limit what the site can be about.
Many sites with branded domains have very little trouble ranking in the search results.
Google Offers Four Insights On Keyword Domains
In the course of answering a question in a recent Webmaster Hangout, Google’s John Mueller offered four insights on the ranking power of keyword domain names.
Four insights into Keyword Domains and Ranking:
- Keyword domains don’t rank faster.
- Keyword domains don’t automatically rank better.
- Keyword domains lost strong ranking influence years ago.
- Keyword domains ranked the same as branded domains.
1. Keyword Domains Don’t Have A Time Advantage
There is a belief that keyword domains are able to rank better faster than branded domains. But according to Google’s John Mueller, this is not the case.
There is a perceived advantage with obtaining keywords in links through the anchor text. This is something that’s been discussed for years. An argument can be made for and against.
Unfortunately, John Mueller’s statement didn’t address this perceived advantage.
Here’s what John Mueller confirmed:
“…it takes time like any other new website… Obviously there are lots of websites out there that do rank for the keywords in their domain name. But they worked on this maybe for years and years…”
2. Keywords In Domains Don’t Rank Better
John Mueller was quite firm in asserting that keyword domains do not rank better than branded domains.
“…just because keywords are in a domain name doesn’t mean that it’ll automatically rank for those keywords.”
There is so much that goes into ranking, like content, user intent for that content as well as links. All of that likely takes significant precedence toward something like keywords in the domain.
While John Mueller didn’t specifically say keywords in the domain name are not a ranking signal, he did affirm that there is no dramatic benefit from having the keywords in the domain name. And that’s an important insight.
3. Keyword Domains Lost Influence Years Ago
John Mueller asserted that keyword domains lost influence years ago.
Here is what John Mueller stated:
“…just because keywords are in a domain name doesn’t mean that it’ll automatically rank for those keywords. And that’s something that’s been the case for a really, really long time.”
This may be a reference to an algorithm update from 2011 (official Google announcement here).
In late 2011, Google updated its algorithm to add a classifier to remove parked domains from the search results.
A quote from Google’s algorithm update announcement:
“This is a new algorithm for automatically detecting parked domains. Parked domains are placeholder sites with little unique content for our users and are often filled only with ads.
In most cases, we prefer not to show them.”
Nevertheless, the idea that keyword domains were better than brand domains continued in the search industry, even though Google was no longer giving a boost to parked keyword domains.
An argument can be made that there is a minimal signal. But there is nothing to lend support to that theory.
It’s been a long time since any search engine has published research that included keywords in domains as any kind of signal.
We’re living in a time when keywords in headings (H1, H2) have diminished ranking weight.
Current algorithms no longer give extra weight to title tags. This we know, and it calls into question the idea that Google continues to give a direct ranking bonus to a keyword in a domain name.
4. Keyword Domains Ranked The Same As Branded Domains
This is another statement that contradicts the idea that keywords in a domain name have a ranking benefit.
John Mueller points out that the keywords in a domain are unrelated to their current ranking:
John Mueller’s statement on keywords in domains:
“…it’s kind of normal that they would rank for those keywords and that they happen to have them in their domain name is kind of unrelated to their current ranking.”
Mueller clearly notes that having the keywords in the domain name is unrelated to their ranking.
Research A Domain Name Before Using It
It’s always a good idea to research a domain name to see if it was previously registered and how it was used.
There are rare cases where a domain that was used to spam can become stuck in a Google algorithm loop, causing it to become banned for a month, getting released for a few days then banned all over again, preventing the site from ranking higher than the second page of the search results.
For more information on the legacy domain penalty, read Google Algorithm Bug Puts Sites In Weird Limbo State.
SEO Advantage Of Keyword Domains
There are many advantages to having a keyword in a domain name. But an SEO advantage is not necessarily one of the advantages, as Mueller makes clear.
“…that they happen to have them in their domain name is kind of unrelated to their current ranking.”
Stand Out With Your Domain
It may be a good idea to choose a domain that stands out. This can be with a keyword or it could be with a brand name.
Former Googler Matt Cutts recommended in a webmaster help video in 2011 that choosing a domain name that stands out can be a good idea in certain situations.
“For example, if you have 15 sites about Android and they all have Android, Android, Android, Android, it’s going to be a little hard to remember, to rise above the noise, to rise above the din.
Whereas, if you have something that’s a little more brandable, then people are going to remember that. They’re going to be able to come back to it. Even sites like TechCrunch, nothing in there says tech news.”
Takeaway On Domain Names
There are pros and cons to the different kinds of domain names to use for a website.
If the business wants to leave wiggle room to grow to encompass a wider topic, then a domain name that is less committed to a topic or even a brand name is appropriate.
Of course, one can start out with a narrow-topic domain name and change it in the future. But that can result in other sites changing their mind about linking to the site and fans of the site losing interest.
So, the best advice may be for the business to consider what it wants to accomplish now, what impression it wants to make to site visitors, what story the domain name communicates to the visitor, and also how well the domain name fits into the future of the business.
On the question of ranking, it’s clear that there is no direct keyword-based ranking benefit to a domain name, which makes selecting one a little easier.
Watch John Mueller discuss domain names at the 21:50 minute mark:
Featured Image: Master1305/Shutterstock
Lead Generation: How To Get Started
Today’s consumers have an almost limitless amount of information at their fingertips. Podcasts, videos, blog posts, and social media – are just a few of the sources that can drive them toward one brand over another.
If it’s your job to attract these potential customers, you know the struggles of generating high-quality leads.
In this piece, we’ll take a closer look at lead generation, discussing the different types of leads you could attract and providing some strategies and examples for lead gen that you can put to use right away.
What Is Lead Generation?
Lead generation is a marketing process of capturing potential consumers who show interest in your product or service.
The goal is to connect with people early in the buying process, earn their trust and build a relationship so that, when they’re ready to make a purchase, they buy from you.
But lead generation also serves secondary objectives, including building brand awareness, collecting customer data, and fostering brand loyalty.
With this in mind, it’s important to remember that not everyone who visits your store or website is a lead.
That’s why successful lead gen goes after specific targets, using a variety of platforms and strategies including:
- Landing pages – Using a tracking pixel, landing pages collect information about visitors you can later use to target them for sales.
- Email – Email is a great lead generation tool because the recipients will have opted in, which means they’re already familiar with your brand.
- Social media – With unmatched opportunities for engagement, your social media accounts are a great way to encourage your targets to take action.
- Blogs – A great way to establish authority and provide value, blogs are also a great place to promote specific offers.
- Live events – When it comes to qualifying leads, live events are a great way to meet your target audience and quickly identify the ones more likely to make a purchase.
- Coupons and other promotions – Offering a discount or free item is a great way to encourage targets to provide their contact information.
What will ultimately work best for you will depend on your niche and your audience.
As you experiment with different lead generation strategies, you may find one more successful than the others. This means you should probably make that channel your priority, whereas others may not be of any use at all.
But we’ll get to all that later.
First, let’s talk about leads.
The Different Types Of Leads
Sales is the engine that drives any business. Without sales, there’s no revenue. Without revenue, there’s no business. So, it’s kind of important.
But it’s a massive field. The approach a medical monitoring sensor salesperson takes is going to be very different from a used car salesman.
But both of them – and every other sales professional for that matter – have one thing in common: they need to spend most of their time pursuing the people who are most likely to buy.
In general, leads fall into seven categories:
- Hot Leads – These leads are ready to convert. They are qualified and interested in your offering, and are the most likely to convert to a sale. For example, this might be the purchasing director who has had several conversations with you and received a product demo. They have purchasing authority and a timeline.
- Cold Leads – These are potential customers who may be unfamiliar with your brand or offering. As of yet, they have shown no interest in what you’re selling. Generally speaking, these are the hardest leads to convert to sales.
- Warm Leads – A middle ground between the two previous types of leads, these are people who are familiar with who you are and what you offer. They’re the type who watch your videos or read your blogs, but haven’t contacted you directly. Your goal is to warm them up into hot leads.
- Information Qualified Leads (IQLs) – This is the kind of lead who has already shown some interest in your company and has followed a call to action. Maybe they signed up for your email newsletter or filled out a lead generation form. They are often looking for more information and will react positively to a nurturing campaign.
- Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) – MQLs are one step further down the pipeline from IQLs. They are actively searching for a solution that fits their needs, and are trying to discover if yours is the right fit. These are the types of leads who will download your whitepapers, watch your videos, and attend your corporate seminars.
- Sales Ready Leads (SRLs) – Sometimes called “accepted leads,” these are the bottom-of-the-funnel leads who are almost ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. It’s important to understand their budgets, purchasing authority, needs, and timeframe.
- Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) – These leads are ready to buy and should be in communication with your sales team. They are considered very hot, however, you should be aware that they are likely still considering some of your competitors.
The Lead Generation Process
As you have probably gathered by this point, lead generation is a multiple-step process.
Yours will vary, depending on whether you’re focusing on inbound or outbound generation – but both should follow a similar pathway.
Step 1: Do Your Research
Before you start trying to collect leads, you need to gather as much information as possible about your target audience. You want to know not just who they are, but where they live, what’s important to them, and most importantly, what their pain points are, particularly those that are the most pressing.
It’s often a good idea to create customer personas, in which you define the demographics, budget, and needs of typical customers. You may want to consider social habits, professional experience, and even psychological traits.
Once you know who you’re going after, it’s time to identify where they are. Are they active on Facebook, or more likely to respond to an email? Again, this will vary depending on your specific circumstances.
This is also the stage where you should check out the competition. What are they doing? What differentiates your offering from theirs? And most importantly, why is it better?
Step 2: Create Great Content
By now, you should know what needs your offering fills for your potential customers. Use this information to create content that solves it.
Your choice of medium will affect your content format. For example, videos work great on social media, but you can’t embed them in an email.
Likewise, if you’re going after your target audience on Twitter, your lengthy blogs are going to need to be linked to, or at the very least truncated.
Never forget your focus is on adding value. Each piece of content you create should serve a specific purpose, whether that’s educating your audience about your offering, building brand awareness or promoting a sale.
Step 3: Develop A Lead Generation Database
You can have the hottest leads on the planet, but they won’t do you a bit of good if you don’t handle them the right way.
You should create and use a lead database where you can record, study, filter, and segment your potential customers.
Ideally, you’ll want to get an automated CRM system to dramatically reduce the labor involved with this.
Most of these will allow you to tag leads based on the type and how hot they are. This allows your sales team to work through their lists in a more efficient manner, dedicating the most attention to those with the biggest chance of converting.
Step 4: Qualify And Score Leads
Not all leads are going to be in the same place in the sales funnel. Some will be ready to buy today, while others may just be getting an idea of what’s out there.
You need to adjust your approach based on this.
Most companies use a lead scoring system of 1-100, which indicates approximately where the lead is in the customer journey. They are assigned points based on their actions, with more serious actions resulting in more points.
For example, following your Facebook page could be worth 10 points, filling out a “Request a demo” form might be worth 20, and opening and reading an email could be 5. If a lead does all three of these, their lead score would be 35.
These numbers will give you a general idea of where they are from the following stages:
- New leads, who have just made initial contact.
- Working leads, with whom you have had contact and initiated a conversation.
- Nurturing leads, who are not interested in buying right now, but might in the future.
- Unqualified leads, who are not interested in your offering. These are sometimes called “dead leads.”
- Qualified leads, or those who want to do business with you.
Obviously, you should focus more time and energy on the leads that have a higher probability of converting.
Lead Generation Strategies And Examples
The ways you can generate leads are practically endless, but in this section, we’ll discuss some of the more common strategies you can employ, plus give you examples of them at work.
Content marketing is the practice of creating engaging and informative content that provides value for leads and customers, thereby generating interest in a business.
This can span both traditional and digital marketing, and is an important part of any successful marketing strategy. It can include things like newsletters, podcasts, videos, and social media.
You can use content marketing for any stage of the sales funnel, from growing brand awareness with timely blogs, creating demand or demonstrating thought leadership with white papers, driving organic traffic via SEO, building trust, and earning customer loyalty.
To make the most of yours, offer many opt-in opportunities and make them more enticing by adding discounts, guides, or something of value in exchange.
Email remains a popular choice for lead generation for a good reason: it works.
A study by Mailchimp found 22.71% of marketing emails were opened, with some industries seeing even higher rates.
Whether you’re sending out a monthly newsletter or a cold outreach email to a potential prospect, email remains one of your best bets for generating new leads.
One of the more cost-effective means of generating leads, email marketing also allows you to segment your targets with customized content that promotes maximum engagement.
Another reason email marketing is a favorite for so many organizations is that it provides incredible opportunities for tracking. A quality CRM will give you a lot of useful data, including open rate, engagement time, and subscriber retention, allowing you to fine-tune your campaigns.
Social Media Marketing
Almost everyone is on social media these days, which makes it the ideal place to hunt down leads.
Social media platforms not only allow you to directly interact with your followers, but they also let you create advertising targeted at highly specific audiences.
Interaction is simplified thanks to multiple user-friendly CTAs like Instagram Stories’ skip option and truncated URLs on Twitter.
Social media is also a great place to run contests or share gated content.
You can use paid ads like the one above to target new leads, share content that will generate them organically, or ideally, a mix of both.
Coupons, Discounts, And Free Trials
If you’re like many people, you may be reluctant to provide your email address to businesses in case they start spamming your inbox.
As a business, however, this can be a problem.
The way to overcome this trepidation is to offer people something of value in return for their contact information.
A risk-free trial or discount code is a powerful tool for overcoming sales barriers. And once a target has tried your offering, you can retarget them with additional offers to encourage a sale.
Give them a free gift, offer a coupon, or allow them to take your product for a test drive, and you’ll find many more people willing to give you their info.
Display advertisements are videos and images that pop up as you’re browsing websites, apps, and social media.
They, along with paid search and PPC, are a great way to reach your intended customers where they are.
Display ads are particularly useful for targeting leads across the buyers’ journey, as well as promoting awareness and sales, promotions, or new products.
Remarketing ads are a great way to reengage leads who have stopped short of a purchase, while non-intrusive native ads are perfect for extending your content marketing efforts.
A great way to find new leads is to let your existing customers find them for you. Encourage them to write reviews or recommend friends in return for a discount or something else of value.
This is an excellent way to fill your funnel of leads – and make more sales. Referrals and online reviews give you an authenticity and trust level that no in-house marketing campaign can ever duplicate.
Did you know that when shopping online, more than 99.9% of people read reviews? Or that 94% of consumers acknowledged positive reviews made them more likely to support a business? And that’s not even including the power of personal recommendations from friends and family.
Referral marketing is a great tool for lead generation because it presents your brand in a positive light to more people.
Best Practices For Lead Generation
To ensure you’re getting the most out of your lead generation efforts, keep these tips in mind:
Use Your Data
You likely have a lot of information about leads and the types of strategies that work for them already at your fingertips.
Gather yours by looking at previous pieces that have worked well, whether it’s blogs that get a lot of reads, emails that have a high open-rate, or display ads that bring in a lot of traffic.
Look for general themes or things you did differently on high-performers. This will give you insight into the kind of things that resonate with your audience.
Be Consistent With Messaging
Make sure it’s very obvious to any web visitor or email recipient what action they should take next. Offer them a reason to click your links and keep your messaging clear and consistent.
You should maintain the same tone of voice across channels as you move prospects through the sales funnel. Remember, you’re not just interested in capturing data – you’re trying to create a customer.
Every marketer knows the importance of testing different versions of collateral. This is because, no matter how well something is performing, it could always do better.
You should experiment with different headlines, images, body copy, etc.
Just remember to only test one aspect at once, lest you miss which change made a difference.
And again, don’t forget the opt-ins.
Use The Power Of CRM Technology
To ensure your sales and marketing teams are operating as efficiently as possible, but a lead generation platform to work for you.
The right tool can help you gather information about your targets, monitor their behavior on your website and identify what’s driving them to you.
Armed with this data, you can then optimize your pages and campaigns to better target your audience.
Create Enticing Offers At Every Stage
People at different stages of the purchasing journey want different things.
Someone who is just curious about seeing what’s out there isn’t likely to respond to a free demo offer, but someone who is further along the funnel might.
Make sure you’re offering something for every buying stage and that you have clear CTAs throughout your materials.
Integrate Social Media
Social media is the ideal platform for initiating conversations and interactions with leads at all stages.
While many marketers typically think of it as primarily for top-of-funnel targeting, by strategically using proven offers and other things of value, you can also go after those leads who are closer to making a purchase.
Clean Up Your Landing Pages
Users want information presented to them in a clean, easy-to-understand manner. No one is trying to read “War and Peace” to find a new vending machine supplier.
Put your important information at the top, and make it clear where visitors can input their information to contact you or get content.
Use Your Partners
Co-marketing is a great way to generate new leads because it allows you to piggyback on the efforts of partner companies.
Create mutually beneficial offers and you’ll spend the word about your brand to a larger audience, which will attract new leads.
Bring Your Sales Team In
Marketers prime the pump, but sales drives the action. Make sure to loop your sales team into the lead generation process early and often.
They will likely have personal insight into what works best to move targets along the purchasing path.
This will also ensure you remain on the same page as far as what terms mean.
Remarket, Remarket, Remarket
Almost no one makes a purchase on first contact, particularly in B2B sales. That makes remarketing an important arrow for your quiver.
It helps turn bouncers into leads and abandoners into customers – and it amplifies all your other marketing activities.
Make Lead Generation A Priority
No one ever said it was easy to find, score, and qualify leads, but it’s an important part of ensuring the growth and financial health of your business.
Nurturing customers and potential customers is hard work. But without it, you’ll struggle to make new sales.
This piece only covered lead generation from a high level, but hopefully, it has equipped you with some strategies you can employ to attract new leads and nurture existing ones.
If you only take a single thing away from this make it this: Put most of your efforts into higher-quality leads, because they’re the ones who are most likely to make a purchase.
And remember – lead generation is an ongoing process. You’re not going to see results overnight, but if you put in the work, you’ll start to generate the results you want.
Featured Image: Andrey_Popov/Shutterstock
Response to ChatGPT $20 Plan: Take My Money!
OpenAI announced a new subscription service to ChatGPT called ChatGPT Plus that offers several benefits over the free version. Fans of OpenAI were wildly enthusiastic about the prospect for a more reliable service.
Many users around the world were pleased to know that the free version will continue to be offered.
Looks like #ChatGPT’s free tier will be around a while.
— Rich Tatum »∵« (@RichTatum) February 1, 2023
ChatGPT is a useful AI tool for writing-related tasks, as well as for obtaining general information.
The free version is used by millions of users. Although it is hosted on Microsoft data centers the service falters during periods of peak usage and becomes unavailable.
OpenAI benefits from the usage because the feedback is useful for training the machine to become better.
The new subscription model is intended to subsidize the free users.
OpenAI Subscription Model
The new subscription version, called ChatGPT Plus, will cost $20/month.
Initially, ChatGPT will be available to users in the United States and will expand to other countries and regions “soon.”
There is no estimate or indication of how soon the service will be available outside of the United States.
But the fact that there’s a waitlist for United States users to subscribe might be an indication.
The Public Is Enthusiastic
To say that potential customers are enthusiastic about ChatGPT Plus is an understatement.
The response on Twitter could be boiled down to one phrase: Shut up and take my money.
— Sam McRoberts (@Sams_Antics) February 1, 2023
Please, please take my money! Amazing work.
— Colin Fetter (@cfetter) February 1, 2023
We will pay any amount you want a month if you let us use Chat GPT without constant “I’m sorry I cannot do that” limitations.
— Autism Capital 🧩 (@AutismCapital) February 1, 2023
One person applauded OpenAI for keeping a free version available:
Already signed up on the list 👍 $20 is very reasonable for what you guys are offering 👏 Also, huge props for also keeping the product free for others too so it can continue to learn & grow while helping out everyone else. AI is only as good as it’s prompts & dataset after all.
— Barnacules Nerdgasm ™️ (@Barnacules) February 1, 2023
Multiple people asked about plans for non-profits and for students.
This tweet is representative of the requests for student plans:
How about a student plan?
I am studying computer science and this tool is very useful, but also, slow…
It is very hard for students like me to invest so much money, but I’d love to pay a subscription at a lower cost
— Limonada :3 (@Soy_Limo) February 1, 2023
Future of ChatGPT
ChatGPT will be launching a ChatGPT API waitlist soon, which will open up the service to new ways of interacting with it.
OpenAI also plans to learn more about user needs and how to best serve users during the course of the new subscription service.
Once they have more experience with it, OpenAI plans to offer additional plans, including lower cost versions.
“…we are actively exploring options for lower-cost plans, business plans, and data packs for more availability.”
This could have been Google’s win.But OpenAI and Microsoft beat them with a useful product and have captured the fascination and admiration of users worldwide.
2023 is going to be an exciting year of AI driven innovation.
Featured image by Shutterstock/Max kegfire
Email Marketing: An In-Depth Guide
Email has revolutionized the way people communicate. From facilitating remote work to monitoring bank balances, it has become an integral part of everyday life.
It has also become a powerful tool for marketers. It has changed the way brands and customers interact with each other, providing incredible opportunities to target audiences at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
In other words, when it comes to getting the most bang for your marketing buck, nothing matches the power of email.
Providing an average return on investment of $36 for every $1 spent, email marketing is one of the most profitable and effective ways of reaching your targets.
Globally used by more than 4 billion people, it has unparalleled reach and is perfect for every step of the buyer’s journey, from generating awareness to encouraging brand loyalty.
If you’re not currently using email marketing to promote your business, you should be.
But to reap the biggest benefits, you need to do more than just dash off a message and sending it out to your contacts. You need a strategy that will help you nurture relationships and initiate conversations.
In this piece, we’ll take an in-depth look at the world of marketing via email and give you a step-by-step guide you can use to launch your own campaigns.
What Is Email Marketing?
If you have an email address of your own – and it’s probably safe to assume that you do – you’re likely already at least somewhat familiar with the concept of email marketing.
But just to avoid any potential confusion, let’s start with a definition: Email marketing is a type of direct marketing that uses customized emails to inform customers and potential customers about your product or services.
Why Should You Use Email Marketing?
If the eye-popping $36:1 ROI stat wasn’t enough to convince you to take the plunge, here are some other key reasons you should use email marketing to promote your business:
- Email marketing drives traffic to your website, blog, social media account, or anywhere else you direct it.
- It allows you to build a stronger relationship with your targets via personalization and auto-triggered campaigns.
- You can segment your audience to target highly specific demographics, so you’re sending messages to the people they will resonate with most.
- Email marketing is one of the easiest platforms to version test on, so you can determine exactly what subject lines and calls-to-action (CTAs) work best.
Even better, you own your email campaigns entirely.
With email, you own your marketing list and you can target your leads however you like (so long as you stay compliant with CAN-SPAM laws).
There is no question that you should be using email marketing as part of your overall marketing outreach strategy.
Now let’s look at some of the different ways you can do that.
What Are The Types Of Email Marketing?
For every stage of the sales funnel, there’s a corresponding type of email marketing. Here are some of the different types you can use to engage your audience and generate results.
When you think about email marketing, these types of messages are probably what you think of.
Used to promote sales, special offers, product releases, events, and more, these are usually one of the least personalized types of emails and tend to go out to a large list.
Usually, promotional campaigns consist of anywhere from 3 to 10 emails sent over a specified time frame. They have a clear CTA that encourages the recipient to take the next step of visiting your site, booking an appointment, or making a purchase.
This type of email includes company announcements as well as weekly/monthly/quarterly newsletters.
They may include information about new products, company achievements, customer reviews, or blog posts.
The CTA is usually to visit your website or blog to learn more about what’s happening.
Sent to new customers or people who have filled out a form on your website, welcome emails encourage recipients to learn more about your company or offering.
These commonly include trial offers, requests to book a demo, or other offerings a new customer will find valuable.
Any salesperson will tell you the importance of creating multiple touchpoints with potential customers.
Lead nurturing emails focus on building interest in people who are drawn to a particular offering.
The goal of these messages is to push them to the consideration stage of the buying journey.
Nurturing emails’ slightly more aggressive brother, re-engagement emails are used to warm up customers who haven’t been active lately.
These tend to be more personalized, as you’ll want to show the subscriber that you know and understand the challenges they’re facing.
User generated content (UGC) lends your brand an authenticity you simply can’t achieve on your own.
One of the best ways to generate this is via emails soliciting feedback from your customers.
This type of email also gives you insights into your brand’s relative strengths and weaknesses, so you can improve your offerings.
There are a number of other types of emails you can use as part of your marketing efforts, including seasonal emails designed to capitalize on holidays or events, confirmation emails to reassure recipients their purchase was completed or their information received, and co-marketing emails that are sent with a partner company.
In fact, it’s email marketing’s sheer versatility that makes it the cornerstone of any successful marketing strategy. You merely need to decide what you hope to accomplish, then create your campaign around it.
Now, let’s take a closer look at creating and managing your own email marketing.
How Do You Perform Email Marketing?
Step 1: Establish Your Goals
The section above should have made it clear that the type of email campaign you’ll run will depend on what you’re hoping to accomplish. Trying to do everything with one email will lead to confused recipients and a watered-down CTA.
Set one goal for your campaign, and make sure every email in the series works toward it.
Step 2: Build Your List
Now it’s time to determine who will be on the receiving end of your campaign. You do this by building your email marketing list – a process you can approach from several directions.
The most basic way to build an email list is by simply importing a list of your contacts into your chosen email marketing platform (more on that later).
One caveat: Before you add anyone to your list, make sure they have opted into receiving emails from you – otherwise you’ll run afoul of the CAN-SPAM Act guidelines mentioned above.
Other options for building a list from scratch via a lead generation campaign: provide potential customers with discounts, compelling content, or something else of value and make it easy for them to subscribe and you’ll generate high-quality leads.
Some marketers buy or rent email lists, but in general, this isn’t an effective way to perform email marketing.
The primary reason you don’t want to do this is because of lead quality. You’re not going after people who are interested in your brand but instead are blindly targeting leads of questionable quality with emails they haven’t opted in to.
In addition to violating consent laws, which could potentially hurt your IP reputation and email deliverability, you risk annoying your targets instead of encouraging them to try your offering.
Step 3: Create Your Email Campaign
Now that you know who you’re targeting and what you’re hoping to achieve, it’s time to build your campaign.
We’ll dive deeper into these platforms a bit later, but now, let’s talk about some fundamentals and best practices to help you get the best results:
- Make your emails easy to read – No one wants to read a long wall of text. Structure your emails using strategically placed headers and bulleted lists for easy scanning.
- Use images – Ideally, you want your emails to capture the reader’s eye and attention. Visuals are a great way to do this.
- Write a compelling subject line – The best-written email in the world is useless if no one opens it. That makes a compelling, intriguing subject line paramount. Don’t be afraid to try different iterations, just be sure to keep it short.
- Add personalization – Emails that are targeted to a specific person, including addressing them by name, are more likely to generate responses. Your email marketing platform should allow you to do this with relative ease.
- Make conversion easy – If you want click-throughs, you need to make it easy for readers. Make sure your CTA is prominent and clear.
- Consider your timing – As with most types of marketing, email campaigns tend to perform better when they’re properly timed. This could mean a specific time of day that generates more opens, a time of the week when purchases are more likely, or even a time of year when your content is most relevant. This will probably require some experimentation.
Step 4: Measure Your Results
You’re not going to get your email campaigns right the first time. Or the second. Or the fifth. In fact, there’s really no endpoint; even the best campaigns can be optimized to generate better results.
To track how yours are performing, you’ll want to use the reports section of your email marketing platform. This will help you understand how people are interacting with your campaigns.
Use A/B testing to drill down into what’s working best.
Generally, you’ll want to look at key metrics like:
- Open rate and unique opens.
- Click-through rate.
- Unsubscribe rate.
- Spam complaints.
- Bounces (the number of addresses your email couldn’t be delivered to).
Choosing An Email Marketing Platform
Manually sending out emails is fine if you’re only targeting three or four people. But if you’re trying to communicate with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of targets, you’re going to need some help.
But there are currently hundreds of email marketing platform on the market. How do you choose the right one for your unique needs?
While it may initially feel overwhelming, by answering a few questions you can narrow down your options considerably.
The very first thing you need to determine is your budget. If you’re running a small business, the amount you’re willing to spend on an email service platform is probably considerably less than an enterprise-level company.
If you’re an entrepreneur, you’ll probably find that a lower-priced version of a platform like Sendinblue or Constant Contact provides you with all the functionality you need.
Larger companies with bigger marketing budgets may wish to go with an email marketing platform that provides higher levels of automation, more in-depth data analysis and is easier to use. In this case, you may prefer to go with a platform like Mailchimp or Salesforce’s Pardot.
The good thing is that most of these email service providers offered tiered pricing, so smaller businesses can opt for more inexpensive (or even free) versions that offer less functionality at a lower price.
The next thing to consider is the type of email you want to send.
For those of you planning on sending a variety of marketing emails, your best choice may be an option that covers multiple email types like ConvertKit or an omnichannel marketing tool like Iterable.
You can narrow down your options by determining your must-have features and internal capabilities.
Some things you’ll want to consider include:
- The size of your lists.
- Your technical skill level.
- Your HTML editing requirements.
- Template variety.
- Your need for responses/workflows.
- A/B testing needs.
- Industry-specific features.
While there is significant overlap in functionality between email marketing platforms, each has some variation in capabilities.
Ideally, you want something that will integrate with your other marketing tools to help take the guesswork out of the equation.
You should request demos and trials of your finalists to find which is best for your needs. If you’re working with a team, be sure to loop them in and get their feedback.
Tips For Maximizing Your Results
Email marketing is a powerful tool for any business. But there’s both science and art to it.
Here are some additional tips to help you get the most from your campaigns:
- Avoid being marked as spam – According to HubSpot, there are 394 words and phrases that can identify your email as junk mail. These include “free,” “lowest price,” “no catch” and “all new.” You should avoid these whenever possible. To be doubly safe, have your recipients add you to their safe senders list.
- Run integrated campaigns – Email marketing serves to amplify the power of other marketing channels. If you’re running sales or promotions, you should include an email aspect.
- Clean up your list regularly – Keep your email database up to date to ensure deliverability and higher engagement. If a subscriber hasn’t responded to your re-engagement efforts after six months, it’s probably safe to scrub them from your list.
- Harness the power of automation – Autoresponders are a great way to follow up with customers and subscribers, or strategically target someone after a certain event or action. Learn how to set this up on your email marketing platform and it will save you lots of time while boosting returns.
Email Marketing Is A Powerful Tool
There’s a reason why email marketing is prevalent in the modern world – it works.
And that means you should be using it to promote your brand and drive sales.
Hopefully, by this point, you have a good idea of not only what email marketing can do for you, but how it works, and how to create and optimize your own campaigns.
There’s really no better way to connect with our audience and convey the value of your brand.
Now get to work – you have customers to attract.
Featured Image: Africa Studio/Shutterstock
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