When you browse the internet, do you ever stop to wonder what’s happening in the background? If the answer’s no, don’t worry. You’re not alone. Most marketers, even great ones, don’t give the “tech stuff” much thought. How a website performs is just something for IT specialists to worry about, right?
If your website’s slow or clunky, it directly affects the user experience. In fact, 40 percent of people won’t hang around if your website takes more than 3 seconds to load. With this in mind, it’s crucial you know how to fix a sluggish website and streamline your page loading times before you lose leads.
Where do you start? Well, one way is to make fewer HTTP requests for your website.
Although an HTTP request sounds like a really technical term best reserved for engineers and IT pros, don’t panic. It’s something any good marketer can understand. Now, let’s take a deep dive into how these requests work and how you can use this knowledge to boost your website’s performance.
What Are HTTP Requests?
Before we get started, it’s crucial you’re clear on what HTTP requests actually are.
HTTP stands for “HyperText Transfer Protocol.” Think of HTTP as the language browsers and web servers use to talk to each other. We (thankfully) don’t need to cover all the intricacies of web code to understand how HTTP affects load time, but here’s a breakdown of the key steps marketers need to know.
When someone wants to visit your website, their browser sends a “request” to your server. This is known as an HTTP request. Your server acknowledges the response and kicks into gear, ready to display the webpage.
Here’s where it gets a little tricky, though. The browser can’t display the page right away. It needs copies of the various different files, such as plug-ins and images, to load the page properly.
How does the browser get these files? By making multiple HTTP requests. If the browser doesn’t make these requests, the page components won’t load.
Depending on how many components your page has, these requests can really add up, which is a problem. Here’s why.
Why You Need Fewer HTTP Requests
There are two simple reasons why every website should aim to reduce the HTTP requests associated with it.
Firstly, let’s start with page load time. The more HTTP requests your site receives, the longer it takes for the requested page to load. For example, a page with 20 HTTP requests will load faster than a page with 70 requests.
The issue? People don’t want to hang around waiting on a website loading.
- 39 percent of visitors won’t return if your images or videos don’t load properly, as research by SAG IPL shows.
- 45 percent of respondents won’t buy from a retailer if the website takes too long to load, according to research by Unbounce.
In short, with much competition out there, you’ll lose leads if your website takes too long to load or it doesn’t load properly at all.
Next, let’s think about what impact these lost leads have on your metrics.
According to Google, bounce rate increases by 32 percent when loading time slows from 1-3 seconds, and to make matters worse, poor loading time affects your SEO ranking. Delays in page loading time can cut page views by 11 percent, which tells Google your page isn’t offering value.
Think about it this way: If your website doesn’t impress visitors, they won’t shop with you. They won’t recommend you to their friends. In time, this leads to a lower search ranking, less visitors, and reduced conversion rates overall.
What can we take from all this? Well, too many HTTP requests directly affect your key metrics and your marketability online.
How to Identify Unnecessary HTTP Requests
OK, we’re clear on how HTTP requests work and why you need less of them. How do you identify these excess requests, though? By doing two things: identifying how many requests you’re dealing with, and grading your website performance.
Establish the Number of HTTP Requests Your Website Receives
You can’t eliminate HTTP requests until you know how many your website receives. Luckily, there are tools available to help you identify the number.
For example, HubSpot’s Website Grader give you a free website “health check” so you can instantly see how many requests you’re receiving:
If you use Chrome, you can also use Chrome’s DevTools to identify the number of HTTP requests. Simply right-click the page you want to check, click “Inspect,” then click the “Network” option. The image you’ll see looks something like this:
This page receives 112 requests.
Grade Your Website Performance
When was the last time you assessed your website’s performance and, most importantly, page loading time? If you can’t remember, now’s a great time to run an audit.
You can try Ubersuggest for this. It’s really simple to use. Simply open Ubersuggest, type in your URL, and click “Site Audit” from the sidebar when the search results finish loading.
Once you’ve clicked “Site Audit,” you’ll see an overview of your website’s speed. It’ll look something like this:
A low score indicates you’re suffering from poor loading times. For example, if your mobile website takes 6 seconds to load, but your desktop site loads in 2 seconds, there’s a problem with your mobile site, and so on.
Don’t worry if you’re unhappy with your page loading times or the number of HTTP requests you’re seeing. Now you know there’s a problem, you can begin streamlining those HTTP requests and ensure your page loads as quickly as possible. Let’s look at how to do just that.
8 Steps to Make Fewer HTTP Requests
Although every website is unique, we can usually blame excessive HTTP requests on a few common problems. With this in mind, here are eight simple steps you can take right now to reduce the number of requests passing through your website.
1. Remove Unnecessary Plug-Ins
Plug-ins are great. They add new functionality to your website and make your web pages more engaging. However, too many plug-ins clutter your page and hold up loading times. While there’s no “right” number of plug-ins, a good rule of thumb is to keep them minimal.
First, identify which plug-ins you use. Do they add value to your website? If the answer’s no, they can go. If it’s a plug-in you only use now and then, you can always reinstall it when it’s required then delete it again.
Not sure how to identify your plug-ins? Reach out to me and see how I can help you better understand your website’s performance.
2. Replace Heavy Plug-Ins With Streamlined Ones
OK, so you can’t remove every plug-in. However, if you want to make fewer HTTP requests, you can often replace resource-heavy plug-ins with more streamlined options.
For example, maybe you want to add social media buttons to your page. Great. Social media shares can increase engagement and boost your exposure. However, the plug-ins can be resource-intensive.
To streamline your social media plug-ins, use tools like Novashare. This tool won’t slow your page down, but it will help you reduce the HTTP requests generated by your social sharing plug-ins:
3. Remove Images You Do Not Need
Sure, images can improve your website’s visual appeal and boost the user experience. Unless the image helps your reader understand your content in some way, or it’s a highly useful piece of content in its own right like an infographic, it might be worth deleting it.
Remember, every image creates an HTTP request. While those fun GIFs might have visual appeal, they won’t impress your audience if they affect load time.
Audit every individual web page and don’t be afraid to get a little ruthless. If the image doesn’t add value to your content, delete it.
4. Reduce the File Size for Remaining Images
Once you’ve deleted the unnecessary images, you need to optimize the ones you plan on keeping. In this context, “optimizing” doesn’t mean using alt text or keywords, although you should optimize for SEO, too.
Instead, what I mean is compressing each image. Compression preserves the image quality while reducing the overall file size, which improves load time.
If you don’t have access to image editing tools like Adobe, try free tools like Squoosh instead. You can tinker with the image to find the perfect balance between file size (which should be less than 1 MB, ideally) and image quality:
5. Drop Unnecessary Videos
Just like not every image adds value to your content, some videos detract from the user experience and increase the page loading time.
To be honest, this tip’s really simple. Just like you should cull any images or plug-ins you don’t need, limit how many videos you’re playing on any webpage.
How do you know which videos to delete? Well, there’s no rule here. However, if it doesn’t educate your audience or add value in some way, cut it or replace it with a shorter, comparable video.
6. Enable Lazy Load
“Lazy loading” means an image or video won’t load until the user begins scrolling down your webpage. How does this reduce HTTP requests?
Since the media doesn’t load right away, it won’t trigger an HTTP request for the initial page load. It doesn’t affect the user experience either, since users won’t know the difference between a regular or lazy load. All they’ll know is that the images or videos are viewable once they scroll down.
To enable lazy load, try out plug-ins like the aptly-named LazyLoad. The script takes up less than 10 KB of space, so it’s not resource-intensive. Just install the plug-in and it gets to work immediately:
7. Use Content Caching
Caching is a great way to reduce HTTP requests.
Essentially, caching means a visitor’s browser stores copies of the scripts it used to display your webpage, rather than delete them all. When the visitor returns, there’s no need to make all those HTTP requests again, because the scripts they need are already stored in the browser unless they clear their cache.
Let me give you some tips for priming your website for content caching.
- Always use the same URL if you serve the content across different pages.
- Build up a library of images and videos and reuse them.
- Try out free tools like REDbot to assess your website’s cacheability.
8. Reduce Third-Party Requests
If a visitor’s browser needs to request or download data from a third party to display a website properly, like YouTube or Google Analytics, it’s called a third-party request. The issue? How long your page takes to load depends on how quickly the third-party server responds.
This is a huge problem because you’re not in control of your page loading time. To take back control, think about lazy loading third-party content like embedded YouTube videos. You could also try hosting scripts for necessary programs like Google Analytics locally rather than externally.
Finally, if a plug-in you use makes its own third-party requests, switch it for another plug-in where possible.
How to Make Fewer HTTP Requests
- Remove Unnecessary Plug-Ins
Figure out which plug-ins are installed and remove those that you don’t use.
- Replace Heavy Plug-Ins With Streamlined Ones
Audit the plug-ins you keep and replace them with more efficient ones if they’re available.
- Remove Unnecessary Images
Delete images that don’t add value since each one creates an HTTP request.
- Reduce the File Size for Remaining Images
Compress the images you keep to reduce load time.
- Drop Unnecessary Videos
Only keep videos that add value to your page.
- Enable Lazy Load
Use a plug-in that allows images and videos to load once a user scrolls.
- Use Content Caching
To prepare your site for content caching avoid using cookies; use the same URL for content used on different pages; build an image library and re-use them; and audit your site’s ability to be cached.
- Reduce Third-Party Requests
Try not to include content that pulls from a third party, like YouTube, since your page load time depends on theirs. You should also replace plug-ins that rely on third-party requests.
HTTP requests are essential to displaying a website and giving your audience an engaging experience. However, too many HTTP requests can disrupt your website performance and deter would-be customers from doing business with you.
The good news? With a few simple tweaks, you can ensure browsers make fewer HTTP requests to your website. You can boost page loading time, improve a webpage’s visual appeal, and, ultimately, increase conversions in the long run.
If you’re not sure where to get started with improving your website’s performance, check out my consulting services and we’ll see how I can help.
Have you tried reducing the number of HTTP requests on your website? Which strategies are working for you?
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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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