As a marketer, you want to connect with your audience.
You want customers and clients to think your brand is friendly, approachable, and easy to work with.
So when your manager comes in and suggests increases in automated efforts, you’re skeptical.
How can a human connection be automated?
How can you make customers trust you without personal emails and phone calls?
Whether you work at a small company that’s growing or a large company that’s disconnected from its customers, you can add a personal touch to your customer communications, even if you have hundreds or thousands of contacts.
Here’s how to use online automation while keeping and cultivating a personal touch:
Look for holes automation can fill
You shouldn’t use automation just because some online marketing expert told you it was a good idea.
You should use automation to fill existing gaps, and as a time saver so that you can focus on more big picture initiatives.
Take a look at your marketing process, and see which activities (particularly ones that you do over and over) could be automated.
Here are some holes that companies often fill with automation:
Welcome emails for newsletters, courses, and events
Sales cycle emails
Transactional-based emails such as confirmations, notifications, and shipping information
Scheduling of blog posts and social media updates
Use automation to personalize
It’s easy enough to automate email marketing efforts, and you can use automation to send high-performing personalized campaigns.
According to Campaign Monitor, emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and Experian reports that personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates.
Email marketing providers like Sendlane offer integrations and APIs that allow you to pass data from Shopify and other CRM or ecommerce platforms directly to your email list.
You can setup automated emails so that every time a customer makes a purchase, or leaves something in their online shopping cart, they automatically get a personalized email:
Use automation to open communication
Automation is not a barrier between you and your customers.
Instead, it’s an open door.
Each time customers receive automated messages, you can encourage them to contact you if they have any questions.
If you send an email, tell customers to simply reply back with any concerns.
You can put links to your brand’s social media pages in your emails so that customers can connect with you.
For example, if you’re interested in buying a new home, Trulia automates daily emails for the latest listings based on your criteria.
At the end of each email, they provide a link to get more information, so you can get in contact with the agent if you see a property of interest.
This automation strategy consistently provides information, while still encouraging you to get in touch.
Write like a friend
If you want to ensure that your automated efforts still feel personal, make sure that you write like you’re talking to a friend.
When you create automated emails, speak to one person, not the crowd.
Here’s how to write like a friend:
Use the second person, which means using “you” rather than “our customers.”
Use custom “from names” to show the messages come from a human
Employ casual language, like you would in a friendly email
Some companies, such as Dubsat, use a custom “from name” in automated emails, so that the emails feel personal.
Dubsat goes as far as to send the emails from the individual’s account executive.
Online Automation Final thoughts
Today’s tools make it easy to automate email, social media, advertising, and content marketing efforts.
The key is to assess where your brand has gaps, and fill it in with deliberate automation that prioritizes a personal touch.
If you automate your online efforts, you can save time, increase efficiency, and provide customers with a more comprehensive and fulfilling experience.
Automatic doesn’t mean robotic.
Use these tips and tactics to create automated marketing that feels personal.
Your turn: What’s your experience been with automation for online marketing efforts?
What are your struggles, and where have you seen success?
We’d love to learn about your experiences, so we can share your insights with our readers.
So without a strong subject line, you could be setting your email marketing efforts up to fail.
Nobody likes to fail.
To help you out, we’ve put together some simple, straightforward tips for writing a killer email subject line that will help drive up your open rates and get you more readers who are excited to hear from you.
1. Keep it real
No one likes an email subject line that sounds like it was written by a robot – write like a human, for other humans.
Even better: Include personalization in your subject line by inserting the recipient’s first name.
As humans, we’re drawn to recognize our own names in writing and it just makes the message feel more tailor-made.
2. Brevity = Clarity
Most email experts recommend no more than 50 characters in a strong subject line, so try to keep things short and sweet.
You’ll do most of the talking within the message body.
3. Customize preview text
Rather than leaving the standard “Not displaying correctly?” message as preview text, be sure to modify the preview message for each unique email campaign so the reader can get a good idea of what’s on the other side of the subject line.
4. Use words that express value
People are compelled to open an email if they see it will produce something of value to them (like a great how-to lesson, a discount, or a sneak peek).
Use words like ‘grow’, ‘improve’, ‘free’, and ‘easy’ to explain why your message is worth opening.
5. Leverage urgency
When you put a limited time frame on a special offer, your readers will be more likely to open and read the message immediately rather than waiting to read it later (which means running the risk of getting lost in the inbox).
Use phrases like ‘flash sale’, ‘today only’, or ‘just XX hours left’ to communicate a strong sense of urgency to readers, like this email from Rich Dad Robert Kiyosaki:
6. Include Numbers
Quantifying information makes it more logical and easy to digest, so whenever it makes sense, tie in numbers to your subject line so readers know exactly what to expect (and how simple you’re making a topic) within your email.
7. Use location information
If you know where your subscribers live, segment them into lists based on geographic location so you can include targeted, location-based information in your subject lines, like “7 Best Chicago Restaurants You Need to Try”, for example.
8. Make them feel like VIPs
It’s a good idea to make your subscribers feel special by giving them insider tips, deals, and previews that non-subscribers don’t get.
This adds value for those on your list, and gives people one more reason to opt-in.
Remind them of their VIP status by using phrases like ‘Invitation Only’ or ‘Special Preview: Just for Subscribers’ like this message from Snaptactix founder Jimmy Kim:
9. Take it easy on the CAPS, man
No one likes to see an email subject line that looks like it’s screaming at you in ALL CAPS.
Use sentence-style or title-style capitalization, but NEVER leave on the caps lock.
10. Ask a question
Posing a question in the subject line means that the reader can find the answer on the other side (and therefore should open your message.)
Make it a question that is highly relevant to your readers by working in a pain point if possible.
Killer Subject Line Wrap Up
We can almost guarantee that if you start using these email subject line tips and right away, you’ll notice an increase in open rates.
Write smarter – and take note of which formats drive the highest open rates over time.
As you continue to send emails over time, you’ll find what your unique audience really wants within a subject line.
Your turn: What are your go-to tips for writing killer email subject lines?
We’d love for you to add to this list and/or let us know which tactic has been highly effective in your own experimentation and testing.
Once you target your audience, you will select your schedule, set your budget, design your ad, add in calls to action, and then place your order.
When you have ads running, you can track their performance and cost in the Facebook Insights section.
It is a relatively easy process and the ads have shown they can be very effective.
Facebook continues to focus on improving the experience for their users by limiting the amount of organic business posts in news feeds in favor of friends and family posts.
Facebook ads can help you to still get the exposure you need to reach your desired audience!
When designing an ad for Facebook, keep in mind that visually appealing ads do best.
Be sure to choose engaging media whether it’s an image or video.
You will also want to invest some time into strategizing your ad copy as you have a small amount of space to engage and interest the reader to click through.
It can also be helpful to create different messages to different audiences.
You can create an ad targeted at people who have never heard of your business before, one to retarget those who have previously visited your website, and one for those who have watched your videos, etc.
Lastly, once your ads are posted, be sure to always follow up to gauge ad performance and make adjustments accordingly.
Better yet, try out this tool to check out the ads that have worked for your competition and save yourself some of the guesswork!
Next up are banner ads.
These are advertisements that you can purchase that will show up in rectangular displays horizontally or vertically on host web pages.
They are typically image-based with some text and can link to the destination that you choose.
You can pay host sites for these advertisements using 3 pricing models: views, clicks, and conversions.
If you are interested in investing in banner ads, you can buy them direct from websites (i.e. Waze), by joining an ad network, or by hiring an ad agency through a catalog type environment where you buy remnant from various publishers (i.e. Google Adwords).
There are various sites available for banner ads, but here are some options you can check out:
If you have a website, you have to understand online traffic.
Entrepreneurs who know how to drive traffic to their sites (and convert it), are the ones who are making 5, 6, and 7 figure incomes.
As for those who haven’t quite figured out the traffic formula…they are more in the 2, 3, and 4 figure range.
As you can see, traffic is a crucial piece to the online business puzzle.
So, we created this guide to teach new digital marketers owners how to use it effectively.
We’ll start by introducing you to online traffic and all the basics.
Then, you’ll learn tried-and-tested traffic strategies that work, so you can hit the ground running!
Since there’s a lot to cover, we’re breaking the training down into 2 parts:
Part 1 (that you’re reading now) will teach you the methods of driving free traffic
Part 2 will dive into paid methods of driving traffic
Let’s get started!
Online traffic basics
What is online traffic?
Online traffic or web traffic is technically the data that moves between online visitors and the websites they visit.
But, from a marketing standpoint, traffic really refers to the flow of visitors to a location online – whether that is a website, a landing page, a social media profile or anything of the sort.
Why is online traffic important?
For one, online traffic equals people visiting your website.
In the digital world, this is the equivalent of people coming into a physical store.
The more people who visit, the more opportunities you have to close sales.
More sales mean more revenue and who doesn’t love that?
Plus, traffic can provide great data and insights into a website’s performance.
For example, you can see where traffic is coming from, allowing you to invest more into the channels with the highest ROI.
Or, alternatively, you could see that a sign-up page isn’t as effective as it needs to be, and enable you to make edits to your copy – improving conversions accordingly!
How is online traffic measured?
Online traffic can be measured very simply.
All web servers generate a log file where traffic statistics are kept.
This data can be easily viewed and managed for free through Google Analytics or various other heat map/analytics tools.
When looking at online traffic statistics, the key metrics which you can learn from include:
The number of visitors pages receive
Average page views generated by each unique visitor. Higher page views indicate a visitor showing an interest in a site and looking at the various pages it offers.
The duration that each visitors stays at a particular website. Again, the longer they stay on a website the more interested they are.
The duration they spend on each particular page.
Times when most traffic is generated.
The most popular pages.
The pages first viewed. This helps to show which pages are attracting people to your website.
Exit pages. Those that cause visitors to leave a website.
Paths. How visitors navigate through your site.
How do websites gain traffic?
Earning traffic can be done in numerous ways, some of which are free and others which are paid.
In this first part of the series, we will take a closer look at the following free methods you can (and should be) utilizing:
Free Traffic Methods
The first free traffic method we’re going to cover in Part 1 is email marketing.
Email marketing becomes a traffic source when you drive traffic from your emails.
By adding links and enticing copy to your messages, you can direct subscribers to visit your website, an affiliate offer or another place of interest online.
Email marketing traffic should always be driven by personalized emails that are relevant to where the recipient is in the buying cycle (i.e. new visitor looking for information, has shown interest in specific products or services, has made a purchase, long time loyal customer).
This way, the messages help to engage readers and nurture them further through the buying cycle.
How effective is email marketing?
It has shown to offer the highest ROI of any online marketing tactic!
Email Marketing Best Practices
Emails are a great opportunity to entice your audience with promotions.
A key to successful conversions is segmenting your audience properly.
You want to send the right message at the right time.
For example, a 10% off coupon would be a good idea when someone has left their shopping cart before checkout.
Besides promotions, you can stay at the forefront of your audience’s mind by sending regular monthly newsletters which share what’s new, links to blogs (more on those next), recent projects, or industry related news.
This helps to build the relationship and keep your audience engaged.
By choosing your links wisely, you can drive customers back to your website on a regular basis.
You can use Sendlane to engage your audience and send out timely, personalized emails right now!
Next up is blogging.
You probably read a few blogs regularly but may not know they are a key tactic for increasing traffic to a website.
Research shows blogging can increase traffic by 55%.
Blogs provide an opportunity to inform potential customers about your company while sharing information that is useful and interesting to them.
Blogs work to drive traffic through SEO tactics and links.
In the example below you’ll notice this blog article has internal links to a variety of helpful resources available elsewhere on the site.
The author is sharing valuable content that not only teaches the reader about the subject, but also more about what the company can offer:
Blogging Best Practices
When writing blogs you want to think along the same lines as you use on social media which means quality, engaging content.
People want to be informed, entertained, or inspired… not blatantly sold to.
So write about topics related to your industry that customer want to know about and that they will find interesting.
You want to show users how your products or services can be used in daily life, and guide them through FAQs about them.
Once they are interested in the actual messaging in your blog posts, they may find subtly included links to your products and services helpful.
As far as optimizing blogs, keywords will come into play and long tail keywords are helpful.
You will want to optimize all posts with keywords, tags URLs, and Meta descriptions which work like the directions for search engines to find them.
Also, Google looks for active sites that are providing consistent content so you will want to plan a blog schedule with regular posts and stick to it!
Practically everyone is on social media nowadays, which means these platforms are senda great source for traffic.
In fact, you’d be missing a huge opportunity if you didn’t make efforts on the different platforms (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc.).
To use social media channels effectively you will want to post content that your followers see as relevant.
This should also include links to your website, so customers can easily make the jump, like this example from the Sendlane Facebook page:
Most importantly, social media shouldn’t be used just to promote your website but should have content that will interest your followers.
For example, share relevant blogs, free eBooks, videos, online courses or webinars that will draw followers to your website – like the “Free Training” shown in the example above!
Post on a consistent basis about stories, thoughts, photos, and videos that relate to your business but are not just about your business.
Remember: People don’t go on social media to be sold, they want to be entertained, engaged, and are looking to interact socially, so humanize your brand and post content that people will find helpful.
Social Media Best Practices
As we said, social media is a place to engage with people and it offers a broader reach than most any other marketing medium. (1/5th of the world’s population is now on Facebook!)
One of the best ways to reach an audience of people who will likely be interested in your business is to look to influencers in your industry.
Who is making big waves and generating a lot of attention?
You want to target their audience and build relationships with them.
To do this, you can begin engaging with the influencer’s page with likes, comments, and shares.
You can also create infographics, tutorials, or whitepapers that offer value to others in your industry (not just your customers), add your name and link to them, and send them to influencers.
This can be a great way to get more exposure and build your network as others share your work.
After some rapport has been established, you can ask if you would be able to guest post on their page, channel, site, or blog, or if they would like to work out another type of collaboration.
Furthermore, you want to become known in your industry yourself and can do so by joining groups and participating actively.
Remember you don’t want to go in with a mindset of sales, but of positioning yourself as a thought leader in your niche with helpful and relevant information.
Comment on issues, reply to any messages, and participate in conversations.
This will build trust and credibility.
Once your audience starts to flock, be prepared with a call to action button on your page for those who are interested.
Also, continue to nurture your relationships with consistent valuable content.
A good practice is to provide 80% engaging content and 20% promotional on social media.
Next up is SEO, which Google in particular has made very important for businesses.
Just “Google it” is such a common phrase because search engines have made information so easy to find!
All you have to do it a quick search and a world of information is at your fingertips.
From answers to the most random questions to the “best of” specific products and services.
Because of that, having your website featured on the first page of search engine results is paramount!
It takes time but the first 3 search results account for about 65% of clicks!
The top results are often viewed as the most credible or highest quality, which is great for anyone who does the work to make it there.
Plus, when you get there organically, you have the added benefit of retaining your position longer than paid results.
Even if you stop SEO efforts, it takes about 3-6 months to drop off.
To improve search engine rankings for a website, you need to make sure your website includes a number of SEO techniques.
Of course, you need to start with quality content, but others include the use of keyword targeting as well as inbound link building amongst others.
In the screenshots below, you can see the landing page for Macy’s women’s dresses.
This page ranked #1 for women’s dresses so let’s take a look at what they are doing.
They display all of their dresses for sale first and then accompany the page with a keyword-packed piece of content at the bottom of the page.
These keywords shows search engine crawlers what the page is about and help it come up for a variety of searches.
This page would trigger results for cocktail dresses, little black dress, bridesmaid dresses, and more.
If you are unsure of how SEO works, take a look at our SEO 101 article to learn more.
From there, you’ll develop an understanding of how to be sure your website hits all the marks.
SEO Best Practices
While SEO is a very detailed topic that experts take years to understand and perfect, there are a few best practices that can help.
First, keywords are the bridge between seekers and results.
You need to perform an in-depth analysis of what words your audience uses when looking for your products or service.
Over time, you can track, test and optimize your keywords.
Also, functionality is very important as web consumers these days will leave after mere seconds of waiting for your web page to load.
This means anything that causes slow loading (rotating banners, clunky media, etc.) needs to be trimmed.
On the same note, mobile friendliness is a major ranking factor now so you need to be sure your website is responsive and designed with mobile customers in mind.
Build your site for speed, this not only means fast loading but easy navigation, content written for easy scanning, and have the most pertinent information prioritized.
Lastly, your website is on the world wide web, right?
The key word there is web – meaning the more connected it is, the better.
Links are the way you make connections.
Integrating them should be done to direct visitors deeper into your own website, as well as making connections from other sites to yours.
The more high authority sites that link to your site, the more valuable you will look to search engines.
Drive Traffic to Drive Sales
Traffic is what will make or break an online business.
But it doesn’t magically appear once you create a website.
Your website is just one piece of a larger puzzle which only attracts traffic when it’s all put together.
So is driving traffic to your website easy?
I wouldn’t say so.
However, it is very possible when you know what to do and have the dedication to follow through!
Plus you have these 4 methods to get started with right away!
Ready to learn how to drive even more traffic to your website?
The second and final part of this series which focuses on paid traffic sources will be available next week, so stay tuned for Traffic Academy: Part 2.
Our brains just process and analyze negative experiences longer than positive ones.
And this is no different online.
If you position your headline with negative superlatives – won’t, avoid, worst – you can attract 63% more readers.
Looking on BuzzSumo, you can see that using the word avoid in headlines can bring a lot of shares.
2. Use Numbers in Your Headline
A number in a headline makes it final.
It creates a box around the idea and attracts people who want to open the box.
15 Unique Ways to Crack An Egg
Makes you want to see what those fifteen ways are, right?
What’s great about creating a listicle type postis that it will get shared more often than a non-numbered headline post.
What else does a number do to a reader?
It makes it specific – People like to read something specific and that has boundaries. So, if the headline promises 53 ways, they have an idea of the length and what they’re getting into with the post.
It allows for scanning – Believe it or not, people don’t read word for word; they scan content looking for the important things. And numbers create signposts that help them navigate and find the valuable content in your post.
Our brains enjoy numbers – That’s right. We are genuinely attracted to numbers. It acts as an organizational system, and we all know people love lists.
Number or Trigger word + Adjective + Keyword + Promise
For example: 23 Unlikely Methods You Can Use to Find Clients on Instagram
4. Get Help From a Headline Generator Tool
We all know that crafting your own headlines is ultimately the best way, but if you’re struggling or have a bad case of writer’s block, there are headline generator tools and analyzers to help you out.
Strategies with a limited budget benefit from free images – like the one above – but if you run a company that highly values brand nurturing the best idea is to contract a designer who will help create fully branded, original images.
Whatever your budget, always be sure the images are:
Crisp & clear – Avoid dark, pixelated or blurry images
High quality – Be sure the images are optimized for today’s visual technology
Relevant to your niche or brand (We’ll get into this more later!)
Looking for places to integrate visuals alongside usual content? How about:
Featuring an image for your blog posts
Share an image with a quote on social media
Promote an eBook cover when advertising a digital product
Show inspirational images in your email newsletter
2. Share knowledge using an infographic!
Infographics are a visual way to present data or explain an otherwise complex concept.
This makes them extremely effective when it comes to your overall content marketing strategy.
In fact, some reports state that infographics are liked and shared 3X more than any other type of content on social media.
Infographics are suitable for presenting research results, sharing a workflow, showing the passage of time or even teaching a step-by-step process.
This type of content is most appropriate for bloggers who want to enhance their writing with graphics that better help explain complicated concepts.
Readers will appreciate the clarity and love learning new things in a unique way!
The layout should be clear, with various different shapes and colors that allow you to highlight different aspects of the presented data:
An inspiring design helps even the most mundane statistics and percentages seem interesting and engaging.
Also, as they share their own view of the topic, your users will actively be promoting your infographic as well, thus helping you expand your audience.
3. Evaluate your use of memes
Memes are commonly known as images that are accompanied by humorous, unpredictable captions.
They even have their own way of being relevant in the world of online marketing!
Some of the most influential blogs in the industry use memes as a funny way to present a certain point, along with entertaining the readers at the same time.
With memes, it’s almost as if you are creating an inside joke specifically for your industry and tailoring it to the topic you’re addressing.
The best memes are targeted correctly and appropriate for your audience, so be sure you take those factors into consideration before posting.
Not only will you engage your readers by utilizing humor and using creativity, but if utilized properly, you will also get likes, shares, comments and even more engaged followers!
4. Create relevant presentations
While on one side we have memes and humorous content, on the other we have presentations, which are an equally important tool when it comes to your visual content marketing strategy.
The recommended approach for presentations is similar to that of infographics – visual elements, shapes and colors are used to create an attractive design and gain the attention of your readers.
Presentations are typically best for promoting short texts, quotes, definitions, etc. and unlike infographics, can be a bit more lengthy, which allows you to present more information and data.
Utilizing online platforms for sharing presentations, such as SlideShare, you can provide a presentation that is accessible to a significant number of online users, enabling them to easily share the presentation on their own blogs or social media.
5. Consider vlogging or filming videos
Vlogs and live videos are increasingly popular on social media, as they allow direct interaction with your social followers.
Videos are particularly useful for creating dynamic presentations especially with accompanying music or a voice over message.
Filming vlogs or doing a live video event is a perfect way to create a more intimate bond with your social followers.
You could film a part of your speech at a conference, share the atmosphere from an event or simply do an online Q and A.
Online platforms and advanced functions on smartphones allow you to create video content quite easily, without requiring any special technical skills.
Before you get started, find a great vlog to subscribe to and take notes!