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There are many ways to drive business goals using marketing. But triggered emails are a particularly powerful tool to influence your audiences to act.

Check out these statistics:

If you haven’t already started using triggered emails as part of your marketing strategy, now’s the time to start.

What are Triggered Emails?

Triggered emails are automatic messages that you send out when your prospects or customers take certain actions. It’s possible to deliver a more relevant and timely marketing message when you trigger emails based on site behavior and other data.

There are many different types of triggered emails you can send out to meet specific marketing and sales goals. Some popular types of triggered emails include:

  • Welcome emails for new subscribers
  • Order confirmations
  • Thank-you emails for someone who makes a purchase, downloads a lead magnet, or takes another relevant action
  • Follow up emails to abandoned shopping carts
  • New product suggestions based on past purchase history
  • Special sales and rewards for your best customers
  • Re-Engagement emails for people who unsubscribe
  • And more

Here’s an example of a great abandoned cart email that also draws relevance from the holiday seasons to encourage conversions:

Take full advantage of triggered emails and they can help improve all sorts of business goals, such as driving conversions, nurturing leads, improving user experience, and more.

Quick Tips for Success With Triggered Emails

There are many different ways to use triggered emails to drive customers to action. Following a few simple tips can help you maximize the value of any kind of triggered email for your business.

Increase Segmentation for Triggered Emails

Segmenting your lists is an email marketing best practice. But if you want your triggered emails to be extra relevant and drive marketing goals, you need to segment in a granular way.

When first getting signups, it’s important to minimize form fields to encourage conversions. But down the road, you can collect more information about your audience to better segment them. You can segment your lists using a variety of data sources:

  • Onsite behavior— Track how leads behave when they visit your website. What blog content are they consuming? What sales pages do they visit? What lead magnets are they downloading?
  • Email behavior — Track and segment based on email engagement. Which topic/categories of emails are they reading and interacting with? Which email links are they clicking on?
  • Purchase behavior — What categories of products have they purchased from you in the past? Segment and deliver new product suggestions based on past purchase behavior.
  • Form fills — There are a lot of opportunities to capture more detailed information about your leads using form fills. Form fills can reveal a lot about a lead, like where they live, their job title, interests, or chosen persona.

Lead magnets and new customer onboarding content are a great way to get more detailed form fills. LinkedIn, for example, uses webinars, exclusive group access and other content to onboard their new customers and learn more about them:

Because adding additional fields reduces the likelihood a lead will fill out your form and give you their information, it’s recommended that contact forms include no more than four fields. This is where progressive profiling can help.

With progressive profiling, fields will only display if the info for that specific field is unknown. If you already have information for the lead, the field will be replaced with a field you have yet to collect, helping you collect more data without being overwhelming.

Using dynamic emails also allows you to further personalize your content and include info that’s specific to each lead. Dynamic content operates according to if-then rules. Triggered emails can be constructed so that, if condition A is true, then content A is inserted into the message; if A is not true, but B is true, then content B is used, and so on down the line.

For example, imagine a lead visits a marketing agency’s website and is presented a form featuring the services branding, website design, development, digital marketing, and creative services. If they choose website design, we would present website design content; if they chose creative services, we’d provide assisted creative services. As a result of the dynamic content, that email will be specific to the interest of that lead.

Time It Right

Just because an email is triggered doesn’t mean it should be sent out right after a potential customer takes action. Say someone’s browsing products at your eCommerce store and you send out an immediate trigger email recommending related products. You didn’t even give them enough time to potentially convert on their own. And the obvious indication that you’re tracking their behavior might put them off.

The right timing all depends on the type of triggered email. For example:

Email Type Timing
Abandoned cart 25 minutes – 4 hours after action
Order confirmations Immediate
New product suggestions based on past purchase history Weeks or months after action
Re-engagement emails  3-6 months after they stop opening your emails
Welcome emails Immediate

Here’s an example of a great re-engagement email from Return Path, which helps them clean up their email list and reduce churn:

Test and Optimize

Creating triggered emails that improve marketing performance is a careful balance. You don’t want to send out too many emails or put your audience off. To ensure your emails are optimized, measure the performance of each triggered email against the goals it’s designed to achieve. For example:

  1. Do your re-engagement emails help reduce churn? Do they help you understand more about why people unsubscribe?
  2. Do your abandoned cart emails bring customers back to purchase?
  3. Do your thank you and confirmation emails minimize customer support inquiries and provide new audience engagement opportunities?
  4. Are current customers taking advantage of your special sales and promotions?

If your triggered emails aren’t driving marketing goals the way you expected, there could be issues with your timing, frequency, or email message. Make necessary adjustments and see if it impacts email performance long term.

This is where A/B testing, also known as split testing can come in handy. Provide different versions of your email to statistically significant groups of subscribers allowing you to measure the effect each version has on your goals. Then, when you optimize your email marketing strategy you are working off of actual data, not just a hunch.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to A/B testing. Here are just a few ideas for changes to test:

  • Personalization in headline or body copy? Or a more generic email?
  • What time of day performs best?
  • What day of week performs best?
  • Length- short and sweet, or long and detailed?
  • Tone– Straightforward? Funny? Mysterious?
  • Offer in the subject line? In the copy? (Free v. percentage off, demo v. trial)
  • Call to Action – Buy now? Purchase Now? Add to Cart? Play around with various calls to action depending on your end goal.
  • Utilize Dynamic Lists you’ve created in the SharpSpring interface to take your testing a step further, and test specific variables with different segments.
Maximize the Value of Triggered Emails

There’s no denying that triggered emails are a powerful marketing tool. SharpSpring has a wide range of out-of-the-box triggers built right into its visual workflow builder. You can expand your trigger options even more by utilizing third-party tools like Zapier, which help to remove the technical barriers that might otherwise be necessary to set up these integrations.

These emails are more targeted, relevant, and timely than any other kind of email message. If you want to maximize the value of your business, take advantage of the many triggered email types available. Segment well, time it right, set limits, test and optimize. Then you’ll be on the road to success with triggered emails.

The post How to Get the Most Out of Triggered Emails appeared first on SharpSpring.

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Another qualified lead was lost to a competitor because your team forgot to follow up in time…

The marketing team doesn’t understand why you’re not meeting sales goals when they queued up hot leads all month… 

Your salespeople are going rogue and each implementing their own processes…

And their own messaging… 

None of which align or meet expectations. 

Sound familiar? 

This headache is all too common for sales managers charged with creating and implementing a sales process that consistently delivers results. But how do you outline what actions, specifically, your team should take to close the deal?

SharpSpring Sales Optimizer ensures every salesperson follows best practices for conversion by automatically creating tasks and actions that move opportunities through the pipeline. This suite of tools is designed to give you control over both the cadence and quality of sales communication in ways never before possible.

A Canvas for Your Sales Masterpiece

Getting rid of those headaches starts with designing your ideal sales process in the visual workflow builder, a tool that empowers you to easily outline every step your team needs to take, from opportunity creation to a closed-won sale. 

Your sales team now has access to the same powerful automation tools the marketing team uses, so they can convert those hard-earned leads to sales. 

Workflows not only allow you to delegate how and when tasks are executed, but you can also automate actions like creating an opportunity and moving a deal to a new pipeline stage. Automatically generate new opportunities based on a hot lead’s engagement with your content, or move an opportunity to a new pipeline stage after they submit a signed contract. Allow automation to fill in the gaps and keep leads engaged without a second thought. 

This enables your team to spend less time on the admin work involved in pipeline management so they can focus on what really matters – winning deals.

Manage Your Message

Now that you’ve painted your horizon in an opportunity workflow, it’s time to add the little details that really seal the deal. When assigning actions in your workflow, you can easily control what emails and media center assets your salesperson sends out. With every auto-assigned sales task, you can link the specific email template they should send and any content assets relevant to that stage in the buyer’s journey. This makes it easy to align sales communication with the marketing team’s content strategy, so you have ultimate control over the message you want to convey.

Don’t worry, there’s still room for your salesperson to add their own flair – after all, you can’t automate a personal connection. From the Task Manager, the salesperson will have the option to send a Smart Mail template as-is or go into the email editor and customize it for a particular lead.

Streamline Task Management

Having a more personal touch in your messaging is important for one-to-one engagement, but manually creating these repetitive phone and email tasks leaves too much room for human error. One missed follow-up email or phone call, and a sales-ready opportunity could fall through the cracks. With Sales Optimizer, rest assured that all your leads and opportunities are properly managed with the exact cadence you’ve laid out.

Follow-up tasks are auto-generated and flow seamlessly into every salesperson’s Task Manager. Even better, when leads engage with your website, their tasks float to the top of the list so your team can reach out just in time while your brand is top of mind. Sales Optimizer turns your website into a two-way communicator that’s patched in directly with your sales team, making prioritization easy and effective.  Capitalize on Hot Lead Engagement

Prioritizing who to reach out to is now easier than ever from the Activity Feed with instant visibility into which leads have automated tasks associated with them. Lead owners are able to see which leads are currently engaging and what they are engaging with, so they can respond accordingly.

If a lead opens an email or engages with your social media, this not only shows up in real-time on the Activity Feed, but it’s also highlighted when the lead owner has a follow-up task. This way it’s easy to time your sales follow-up at pivotal moments in the buyer’s journey. 

Keep Your Team Accountable

Powerful new automation features sound great, but how do you make sure everything is going according to plan? Keep your team on track with detailed task reports that provide insight into which automated tasks are being completed or rescheduled during a given time. 

Instantly see if your sales rep sent an email when you assigned a phone call, for example, so you can make sure everyone follows the correct process. You can also identify any holes in your sales plan based on the outcome of automated tasks. Are deals closing on target?

Close More Deals With Sales Optimizer

Designing, implementing and fine-tuning your sales process can be a difficult feat. Make it easier – and more effective – with Sales Optimizer. To see exactly how the power of automation can benefit your bottom line, get a personalized demo today. Already a SharpSpring customer? Power-up your SharpSpring stack with Sales Optimizer to get started. 

The post Fortify Your Sales Funnel With SharpSpring Sales Optimizer appeared first on SharpSpring.

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Digital marketers today know how important it is to track conversions on their website. Tracking conversions helps you understand marketing performance, as well as identify opportunities to optimize and improve.

What many marketers don’t realize is that there are different categories of conversions: Micro and Macro. Both are important to track and optimize for.

Here’s everything you need to know about micro conversions to improve your marketing strategy:

How are Micro Conversions Different?

Macro conversions are what most marketers focus on tracking and optimizing. They’re major events in the customer journey, such as requesting a quote, signing up for a free trial, or making a purchase. They’re also the metrics upper management and C-suite are typically looking for.

Micro conversions are on-site behaviors that might not directly link to sales. Instead, they’re steps in the process of interacting with your business before showing any purchase intent.

Here are some examples of micro conversions that are valuable to businesses:

  • Email signup
  • Creating an account
  • Liking a social media account
  • Saving a product for later purchase
  • Registering for rewards
  • Filling out your contact form
  • Click to see directions
  • Downloading a file
  • Click to share
  • Blog commenting
  • Click to call
  • Playing a video
  • Viewing your product page
  • Viewing your location page

There’re also some general indicators of site behavior that can count as micro conversions, such as:

  • Time on site — Tracking how much time visitors spend on your website before navigating away helps you determine if your site content is compelling enough to engage visitors.
  • Pages per visit — Track how many pages people visit before leaving your site. If a large portion of your traffic bounces after looking at just one page, that could mean your content isn’t engaging or you have user experience issues.
  • Dwell time — When traffic reaches your site from a search engine, dwell time tells you how much time a visitor spends on a page before returning to SERPs. Longer dwell times show that your content is relevant and engaging.
Why Are Micro Conversions So Important?

Micro conversions don’t reflect actions that directly affect your bottom line. The majority of traffic that comes to your website will make a micro-conversion then leave. But just because they don’t become paying customers, doesn’t mean you should ignore this traffic.

Tracking micro conversions and optimizing for them is a valuable way to drive business goals. Tracking micro conversions can help you:

Improve user experience

If you only track macro conversions, then there’s no understanding of how audiences interact with your website overall. Paying attention to on-site behavior and when visitors navigate away can reveal user experience issues to fix. You’ll want to make it as easy as possible for your site visitors to find, consume, and share your site content to broaden brand reach.

Optimize your site content

If you pay attention to what kinds of content your audience consumes the most, you can adjust your strategy to create more of it. You can also optimize what type of lead magnets you offer and the calls-to-action that go along with them. This is an opportunity to capture more leads that could then turn into macro conversions down the road.

Understand your customer journey

Very rarely will your audience visit your site, look at your product, and immediately convert in the same session. The customer journey is long and complex. There is a wide variety of factors that impact a person’s decision to buy. By tracking micro conversions, you can understand on-site behaviors of your leads long before any macro conversions take place.

How to Track Micro Conversions

Tracking micro conversions is easy using Google Analytics. Some of the basic site behavior metrics like time on site and pages per visit are tracked automatically.

With Google Analytics goal tracking, you can also define any kind of site behavior you want to track. Here’s how to set it up:

First, log into Google Analytics and from the side menu click Admin.

On the next page find the View column and select the view you want first, then click Goals.

On the next page, you’ll see an option to +New Goal. Click that.

On the next page, you can see template goal options to choose from:

If your desired micro conversion isn’t on the list, then just click to create a custom goal.

With a custom goal, you can set a destination URL that indicates the goal is completed. So, if your micro conversion is downloading a lead magnet, you can set your destination URL as the thank you page for filling out the lead form.

Google Analytics allows you to create up to 20 custom goals per view or 25 views per property to track, so consider what micro conversions are the most helpful for understanding on-site behavior and the full customer journey. Then create custom Google Analytics goals to track performance on those conversions.

The right ones to choose will depend on your business type and goals. Location-based businesses would prioritize “Click to see directions” as an important micro-conversion. An eCommerce store would prioritize actions such as saving a product for later purchase.

If building brand awareness is a major business goal right now, then actions such as “Liking a social media account” or “Click to share” would be important to track. Then you can start understanding what kind of content gets the most shares from your website, and optimize your strategy to create more.

Maximize Audience Insights

Only paying attention to macro conversions on your website is like a baseball coach analyzing player performance based only on how many home runs they’ve scored. The coach can learn much more about how to improve player performance by looking at time spent in batting practice or pitch speed. As a marketer, you can do more to improve your sales funnel by tracking and analyzing the micro conversions.

Maximize performance insights from your audience’s behavior by tracking a combination of micro and macro conversions—your marketing efforts are bound to improve when you’re looking at the complete customer journey.

The post Everything You Need to Know About Micro Conversions appeared first on SharpSpring.

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In-person marketing is a powerful strategy to drive all sorts of business goals. It’s an opportunity to generate new leads, nurture them, and even drive sales on the spot. But if you want to close more sales at your in-person events, you need to strategize for it specifically.

Here are 8 ways to increase the value of in-person marketing by driving more sales:

1. Focus on Building a Sales Pipeline

Hosting or attending events is one of the most powerful lead generation strategies out there. But when businesses focus all their event marketing efforts on getting leads, they miss out on opportunities to drive sales then and there.

So the first step in closing more sales at your events is actually shifting focus to sales as a goal. You probably already have a sales pipeline for your products. Now’s the time to adapt it to the event scenario so you can close deals in person.

How you present your business and product really changes when you’re not just trying to get as much lead contact information as possible. You need to be prepared to target prospects directly and cater your pitch to their unique needs. Some of the rest of the strategies in this post will help illustrate how you can build an effective sales pipeline for events.

2. Engage Your Attendees

You can spend a lot of energy perfecting a sales pitch, but it isn’t going to matter if your attendees don’t hang around and listen to it. In order to capture their attention and make them truly interested in what you have to say, you need to first engage your audience with interactive elements.

Create engagement centers such as a raffle, photo booth, or interactive product display. Use these engagement pieces to attract people to your booth so you can introduce them to your business. This strategy works great for both lead generation and priming prospects for a sales pitch. Once they’ve interacted with your booth and understand a little about your products, they’ll be interested to learn more from your sales pitch.

3. Research and Organize Lead Data in Advance

If your goal is to drive sales from your event, then you should do as much lead research as possible in advance. Especially if you know who some of the attendees will be, it’s important to have information about them on hand so you can better target them with your sales pitch.

Your marketing automation software should help you compile valuable information about individual leads and the companies they work for. Dig deep beyond just their business profile by learning more about them on social media as well. Then you can use your understanding of their unique position and needs to create a more relevant sales message.

The best marketing automation software will help you get a snapshot of your leads — useful for pitching online and off. SharpSpring, for example, has a membership tab where you can quickly scan all the campaigns, lists, opportunities, workflows and emails a contact is associated with:

3. Showcase Your Products

In-person event marketing is all about offering a personal experience. Part of this is allowing your audience to have a personal experience with your products. Have samples of your product on hand so your audience can touch and try out all its features. If you offer a digital product, then set up computers or tablets allowing your audience to demo the software. Explaining what your product does may be enough to generate leads. But showing audiences what it does is a much better strategy for driving sales.

4. Create a Special Promotion for the Event

If the priority of your event is driving sales over generating leads, then do everything you can to ensure your audience buys today. The best way to do this is by creating a special discount or promotion on your product that’s specific to the event. For example, people could get 50% off the first 6 months of your software subscription when they sign up at the event.

Even if someone loves your product, they have no strong reason to purchase it that very minute. Don’t give your leads the opportunity to walk away and change their mind later on. Instead, create a sense of urgency by offering an exclusive deal or discount.

5. Focus on Problems and Solutions

Most people don’t attend an event with the intention to make a purchase. So if you want to drive your audience to buy, it needs to be an impulse decision on their part. You can encourage this through emotional marketing. Instead of droning on about your product’s features, focus on specific problems your leads have and the solutions your product offers. Get to know individual leads so you can make your emotional marketing message even more personal.

6. Incentivize Your Team

Your event marketing message is only as powerful as the enthusiasm of your team members presenting it. If you want to really improve sales results, try incentivizing your team members to achieve that specific goal. The best way to do this is by offering commission or special rewards whenever they close a deal. Come up with a program that really gets your representatives enthusiastic about reaching out to prospects and driving sales.

7. Optimize Your Digital Content

There are some deals you can’t close in person, no matter your efforts. But that doesn’t mean you should give these up as lost opportunities. Many people leave an event wishing they had bought when they didn’t. You have their contact information, so you can engage them through and try to attract them back to your site. Then you can deliver a digital content experience that reflects the best points of your in-person event.

It’s a Long Term Game

Events may be one-time opportunities to attract leads and sales. But they’re also experiences you can learn from to improve your in-person marketing in the long run. Test out these various strategies and see which ones are most effective at closing sales for your business. Use these insights to optimize your strategy and drive even more sales from future events.

The post 8 Strategies for Closing More Sales at Your Events appeared first on SharpSpring.

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Recruiting new customers costs five times as much as retaining current ones. Agencies are well aware of how challenging it is to find leads and nurture them into paying clients. And there’s no way to grow your business if you’re pitching new clients after every completed project.

There are lots of things your agency can do to reduce client churn. Here are 4 tips you can follow to increase the lifetime value of new clients:

1. Build a Personal Relationship

Building a relationship with clients is a challenge, especially if you run an agency. But it’s necessary to make a personal connection with your clients, or they’ll find it easy to dump you. Even if your client works with multiple people at your agency, assign one person as the main contact point. This person should get on calls with your client and get to know them personally and professionally. Clients should also know they can turn to this person with any questions or concerns they might have.

Clients should feel like you care about their business success, not just their money. The best way to show that you care is by asking questions about their needs and goals.

Here are some important topics to discuss with your client:

  • What their business is all about. What products and services do they offer?
  • What are their short-term sales objectives? What are their long-term business goals?
  • Who is their target audience?
  • What is the competitive landscape like in their industry? How do they want to stand out from competitors?
  • What do they hope to get out of working with you?

Building a personal relationship by asking questions also sets you up to provide exceptional customer service.

2. Set Clear Expectations

Defining client expectations at the beginning of the relationship is an important way to ensure their satisfaction down the line. You and your client should have a clear agreement on what tasks you’ll perform for them. If you keep things vague, then there’s a chance your client will want you to perform tasks outside of your job description. Setting clear expectations ensures they won’t get disappointed with your services.

The longer you work with clients, the more understanding you’ll have of the kind of tasks they want you to do. Use this knowledge to ask new clients key questions before setting your rates.

For example, a content agency could ask questions like:

  • Do you want us to source screenshots and images for your content?
  • Do you want us to perform keyword research and optimize for SEO?
  • Do you want us to upload content to WordPress for you?

Setting clear expectations also gives you an opportunity to occasionally go above and beyond. For example, if you agree on a monthly project deadline, you can provide exceptional service by delivering early. Always meeting or exceeding expectations shows clients that you’re valuable and reliable for future work as well.

3. Adapt to Individual Client Needs

You probably have a clear process of how you like to work with your clients. When setting expectations, you can also define how you’ll communicate, rules for revision requests, etc. But if you want to keep clients happy, you should have some flexibility to adapt to individual needs.

Each client is different, and they’ll have different pain points that need to be addressed as well. When building a relationship with them, take note of any challenges they might face. Is your agency in a position to help? You can cater your service to provide a solution to these pain points before problems arise.

Incorporate client preferences into your work process wherever possible. For example, some clients might prefer to get on a quick call to discuss new projects before beginning. Others may prefer to send you a detailed outline by email. Clients may also want to use different communication or file sharing tools. Don’t force them into your box. Adapt yourself to fit into each of theirs.

4. Upsell Your Services

If you want clients to work with you in the long run, you need to actively encourage them to keep buying. Here are some important strategies you can use to upsell your services to current clients:

  • Keep paying attention to their needs. This is important at the beginning of your relationship and in the long run. Keep conversing with your client as you work on current projects and keep an eye out for new opportunities to add value for them. The more tasks you can handle for your client, the more reliant they become on your services. This is excellent for retention.  
  • Tell them about new certifications, skills and services. It’s not likely your current clients are regularly reading your service pages or marketing content. If you’ve started offering a new service they might be interested in, communicate it to them directly. You could send out a mass email to your current clients, but it’s better to tailor it to each client individually. That way you can explain how your new certification or skill would be valuable to their specific needs.
  • Provide diverse services. Don’t let yourself or your agency be a one-trick pony. There are likely many related services you can offer to your clients as a package deal. For example, a content agency could create visual assets in addition to writing. Providing diverse services helps you offer value that would be difficult for clients to get elsewhere.
  • Offer special discounts. This is a great way to encourage current customers to try out new services and stay on for the long run. You can offer a percentage discount for clients that sign on for an annual contract, for example.
Pay Attention to Client Churn

Always make client retention a priority to grow your agency. Gaining and keeping clients allows you to spend less time pitching and more time developing inbound strategies to secure new gigs. So pay attention to client churn and identify what factors influence people to leave. Then apply these 4 tips to maximize the value of your clients for the remainder of 2019 and beyond.

The post 4 Tips to Improve Client Retention in 2019 appeared first on SharpSpring.

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While LinkedIn is typically known as the social platform specifically for networking professionals, increasingly people are turning to LinkedIn to find more than just their next job opportunity. In fact, 91% of executives rate LinkedIn as their first choice for professionally relevant content.  

Whether you work in the B2B space or want to network with others in your industry, LinkedIn is a powerful tool to use. Here are the most important practices to make the most out of LinkedIn marketing today:

Share the Right Types of Content

LinkedIn has a unique user base that responds differently to the types of content you share. Here are some of the best content types that perform well on the platform:

Audience-Targeted Topics

The content you share on LinkedIn will depend on what kind of audience you’re trying to target. Most people and businesses use LinkedIn to network with other industry players. However, some use LinkedIn to market to their customer base. Figure out which strategy you want to use, then start sharing content on topics that would interest your target audience.

For example, a CEO seeking to network with other people could share content about the latest market trends and advancements in their industry. Look into what news outlets and magazines people in your industry follow, then share related content to capture their attention.

Visual Content

Visual content has always performed well on social media, and LinkedIn is no exception. Visual elements stand out from all the boring text that people scroll by on social media.

Most professionals on LinkedIn today don’t really know how to market their content. They add a simple stock photo to their blog post to make it “visual.” But there are lots of more valuable ways to create visual content on LinkedIn. Share an infographic of industry data, or pull out and visualize an interesting quote/statistic from the article your sharing.

Sharing photos from business events and conferences can also give people a personal look into your company atmosphere:

Video Content

Video is a relatively new content type on LinkedIn compared to other social media platforms. As a result, a lot fewer people are taking advantage of this content-type to capture their audience’s attention and stand out from the crowd.

Like Facebook, LinkedIn will auto-play videos in people’s feeds as they scroll. So create or share some captivating video content to educate and offer entertainment value to your audience.

Here’s a great example of a post that uses video to capture audience attention and entertain:

Make the Most of LinkedIn Pulse

LinkedIn Pulse is LinkedIn’s native blogging platform. Many marketers don’t bother using it because they already publish content on their website blog. But using LinkedIn Pulse has certain benefits that can help your content get more visibility.

For one, there’s native audience targeting and tagging features you can use to reach the right people with your content on LinkedIn. It’s also great for SEO — since LinkedIn is such a high authority domain, your Pulse content has a better chance of ranking well in search results than native blog content.

Use Linkedin Pulse to:

  • Educate

Teach your audience about topics that interest them. Offer value by showing them how to navigate certain tasks/challenges related to your industry. Last year OkDork did an analysis of 3,000 LinkedIn Pulse posts and found that “How-to” and List-Style content perform better than other content types:

They get more views, post likes, comments and shares than other kinds of content. So create walk-through content or educational list posts to engage your audience with LinkedIn Pulse.

  • Become a thought leader

Most successful LinkedIn marketers use Pulse as a platform to create and share thought leadership. Go beyond just discussing the latest trends in your industry and actually take a stand on controversial topics. Maybe last week someone published an opinion in Forbes that you don’t agree with. Explain why in a post on LinkedIn Pulse. You can also stretch beyond industry topics when creating thought leadership. CEOs, COOs and other business leaders often share insights on how to run a business and manage teams in general.

  • Share what your business is like

LinkedIn Pulse is a great platform to share what’s going on at your business. If you use your native blog to market to potential customers, then use LinkedIn Pulse to share and discuss business with your industry. Share updates about major company events like product launches, mergers, etc. You can also use examples from everyday life at your business as anecdotes in your thought leadership articles.

Track Performance with Analytics

LinkedIn Analytics is one of the best social media analytics tools out there. You can use it to look at important things like:

  • Traffic — From your Company Page, you can visualize your traffic data for the past 30 days. Monitor how your audience grows based on your content strategy.
  • Engagement — Go to the Activity dashboard to see likes, shares, comments, and mentions. Get a qualitative look at your content’s performance.
  • Audience Demographics  — On your Company Page you can also look at visitor demographic information, like job function, location, seniority, industry, and company size. Use these insights to better target your audience with content.

  • Followers — You can also visualize your follower gains over the past 30 days, including gains from organic vs sponsored content.

Monitor key metrics on LinkedIn Analytics to monitor your marketing performance and make informed changes to your strategy.

Follow LinkedIn Best Practices

Every social media platform is different, and LinkedIn is particularly unique. It’s the only major social platform that’s specifically for professionals. So even if you’ve been optimizing your social media strategy for a while, don’t assume that what works on one platform translates well to the other. Follow these best practices when creating content for LinkedIn, then monitor performance and adjust.

The post Best Practices for Posting on LinkedIn appeared first on SharpSpring.

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Modern-day consumers can interact with brands at events, on websites, within mobile apps, inside physical stores, through social media, push notifications and more—not to mention through traditional mediums such as direct mail, print, TV and radio.

Given the many ways consumers can interact with a brand, it has never been as crucial as it is today for brands to leverage omnichannel marketing to their advantage or ignore it at their peril.

Omnichannel marketing is a strategy that leverages and sees all channels as one. An omnichannel strategy focuses on the campaign and delivers a cohesive message across all the channels where your target audience is present. Taking an omnichannel approach forces marketers to place themselves in the shoes of their customers and can be the secret sauce for any inbound marketing campaign.

In other words, omnichannel marketing seeks to create a unified experience for its target audience no matter what channel they engage the brand on or through.

Why is Marketing Automation So Important?

Over the last decade, consumer expectations have increased on what seems like an exponential scale, resulting in digital channels transforming and evolving to become even more personalized. No longer are consumers interested in transactional experiences (i.e., just buying a product), today audiences seek a customized connection and experience that goes along with that purchase.

The need for a customized experience has put an increasing amount of pressure on marketers to emphasize engaging the consumer at every step of their journey. A challenge that can be alleviated, streamlined, optimized and scaled with automation.

Marketing automation in 2019 and beyond holds the key to meeting the rising demands of consumers while affording brands the capability and reliability to effectively scale and foster growth.

1. Tracking the Lifecycle of a Lead Throughout its Journey

Any marketer knows not to underestimate the power of insightful, resourceful and actionable data. Without reliable information, marketing departments would be dead in the water, making uneducated guesses as to what decisions to make and what aspects of their campaigns to modify or optimize for the best results.

While data is mission critical, consumers don’t like being questioned or having to fill out surveys, limiting the opportunity for manual feedback. Automation, on the other hand, provides brands with the chance to capitalize on modern technology to track users’ behaviors and uncover a wealth of information about a particular lead throughout its journey with their brand.

This type of automated data collection can:

  • Tag a visitor with a unique ID
  • Help brands understand where the customer entered their journey
  • Help brands understand the path taken once the customer engaged with the brand
  • Uncover opportunities for personalization or optimization along the way
  • Discover bottlenecks in the journey
  • Clearly define “preferred” routes of interaction based on customer segments.

The consumer journey is evolving at a breakneck pace, not to mention simultaneously becoming increasingly complex. We live in a data-centric age where those brands and marketing departments that fail to adapt will get left behind.

2. Delivering Precise Dynamic Content When and Where it’s Needed

When we first began, we noted the broad range of marketing mediums and channels through which a prospective customer may engage with your brand. Take inventory in your mind of all the channels you currently pursue or wish to go after in the future. Now factor in how omnichannel marketing would play a role. Daunting to say the least.

Managing multiple channels and each having their own sets of marketing campaigns and creatives is difficult enough. Now, add in the requirement of a streamlined narrative, voice, and journey for the audience, and you could get overwhelmed quickly.

Content that can be dynamically delivered to a target audience through those channels and facilitated through automation is paramount to successful execution, especially at scale.

Why is dynamic content so critical to an omnichannel approach to marketing?

Dynamic content adapts based on the end-user—whether on your site, in your emails or present in your adverts. By doing so, you personalize each form of marketing to the experience of that single prospect.

For example, an ad or content on your site might vary depending on the referring site the viewer came from or based on interactions with the content such as clicks, known demographic data or some other lead scoring system.

Automation of dynamic content ensures the right message gets delivered to the right audience/visitor at the most opportune time, and in a way that is consistent and cohesive with your overall customer journey and campaign.

By doing so, dynamic content can address or work to overcome specific pain points, objections or concerns as they arise.

3. Lead Scoring and Prioritization of Sales Resources

A great deal of information gets revealed along a customer journey and their interaction with your content. Marketing automation allows you to capture, categorize, analyze and score this information to segment potential leads or customers into various “buckets” or personas that then get moved through other channels for nurturing or directly to your sales teams for closing deals.

These data-rich and insightful consumer profiles are leveraged to develop buyer avatars, provide marketing, service and sales departments with the information they need to personalize further sales, support and nurturing efforts.

By utilizing automation of this process, you can streamline efforts across multiple departments, allocating resources (sales reps for example) to those leads that will benefit both your brand and the prospect the most.

Imagine no more wasted time hunting down “tire kickers.” Imagine being able to automatically identify what a prospective customer needs to make the change from a “warm” lead with an objection to a “hot prospect” ready to take the next step with a sales call.

4. Progressive Profiling with Dynamic Fields

Your sales team is only as good as the leads you provide them. Up until recently, improving lead quality has been limited to compelling pre-landing page content, optimized lead gen forms and the marketing campaigns that drove the traffic to them in the first place.

Today, marketing automation brings with it an innovative approach to enhancing lead forms in a way that produces higher quality leads, effectively giving sales teams an advantage over their less-forward thinking competition. How do we do this? Progressive profiling.

Progressive profiling is a way to enhance lead forms without burdening a new lead with a ton of questions on their first visit to your site. Instead, your forms will display questions based off of the information you already have about that lead, making the questioning process seem less invasive. Progressive profiling enables you to create fewer forms and get more info from visitors, saving your team time and energy.

Something that only takes five simple steps to set up in SharpSpring can have an immediate positive effect on your lead gen efforts.

5. Coordinate Seamless Campaigns when Delivering the Journey

Those brands that have implemented automation in conjunction with omnichannel marketing strategies see an improvement in brand perception, engagement and loyalty. Today’s consumers demand exceptional experiences that can only be fostered and effectively delivered through communication and marketing synchronization across all channels.

However, synchronization and cohesiveness are becoming more complicated, with your target audience typically engaging with multiple “touch points” before becoming a customer.

For example, a prospect may conduct a Google search, check out your website and head over to your social media profile. In the process, they get distracted, but later that day they see a retargeting advert and click on that. The ad takes them to a landing page where they opt into a newsletter and receive an email sequence. In that sequence, they click on email #5 and eventually make it to your sales page where they convert to a buyer.

The above is just one of a virtually endless set of possibilities, which makes coordinating and delivering a seamless campaign that much more important.

Luckily for us, marketing automation and technology have made this endeavor more seamless than ever before, allowing brands to identify individual prospects, track their journey, and deliver dynamic content tailored to the channel and stage in which they entered their path.

Not only that, the narrative, tonality, messaging, beliefs, value propositions, unique positioning and more are all consistent, providing a unified message that builds trust and converts “shoppers” to buyers.

Closing Thoughts

No matter what industry you operate in, the chances are that competition is heating up, with brands both local and global vying for your customer base. Similarly, customers’ shopping behaviors and expectations have also evolved, demanding personalization, connection, and experiences, not just a transactional relationship.

Those companies and marketers who work to adapt and integrate omnichannel marketing into their mix stand the best chance at staying ahead of the competition and earning their place among the ranks of their niche. However, omnichannel marketing isn’t easy. It’s a resource-intensive endeavor with lots of moving parts, making it hard to plan, control, execute and scale without marketing automation.

The post 5 Reasons Your Omnichannel Marketing Needs Marketing Automation appeared first on SharpSpring.

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Automation technology has been around long enough that most marketers understand its value for driving business goals. On average, 49% of companies already utilize marketing automation, while more than half of B2B companies are adopting the technology.

Businesses realize the power of marketing automation, but getting started can be daunting. It’s hard to know where to begin when there’s so many features and strategies to choose from.

Here’s some advice that can help you benefit from marketing automation when you’re just getting started.

1. Define Your Marketing Automation Goals

If you want to get the most out of marketing automation, it’s important to first have a clear idea of what you want to achieve with it. You invested in marketing automation software to help you save time, simplify sales and marketing processes and help you better nurture leads. Now it’s time to be more specific by defining exactly how you plan to use marketing automation to achieve these goals.

Marketing automation tools come with a lot of features. Avoid the overwhelm by focusing on the ones that best align with your campaign goals. For example:

Goal CRM Features to Use
Convert more prospects into leads Landing page designer, dynamic form builder  
Identify new valuable leads Lead scoring capabilities
Improve campaign performance Reporting and analytics
Improve sales processes CRM & Sales Automation

Wherever possible, make sure your marketing automation goals are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound). That way it will be easier to illustrate return on investment (ROI) from your efforts down the road.

2. Consolidate Your Tools

Using a comprehensive marketing automation technology is a great way to manage all of your online tools in the same place. You have social media automation, CRM, email marketing, analytics tools, and more to keep track of—don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Controlling everything from one central platform not only saves time, it improves processes so you can better market to your audience.

Most comprehensive marketing automation technologies will offer you two options for consolidating your tools:

  • Integrate them
  • Switch to internal features

When shopping around for marketing automation software, you’ll see that most offer integrations with an array of third-party tools. SharpSpring, for example, integrates with Unbounce, Salesforce, Woocommerce, and a variety of other tools people use to manage their online business. You can browse all the possibilities in the app marketplace:  

Integrating these tools with your marketing automation software is a great way to keep using the technologies you love while benefiting from the features of marketing automation.

Marketing automation technology even has internal features that can replace many of the other tools you use, such as email marketing and CRM. These internal features give you the most opportunity to streamline marketing and sales across platforms. Starting over with a new tool does take some time and effort, but if it can maximize your ROI it just might be worth it. 

3. Run employee training sessions

The value of your marketing automation software only extends as far as your internal team’s willingness to use it. Employees that don’t know about key features or don’t know how to use them are unlikely to educate themselves about the new software on their own.

If you want your teams to start taking advantage of key features early on, it’s best to start with some training sessions. Within them, you can show employees how to use key features that are relevant to their position in the company. It’s equally important to illustrate that marketing automation benefits them by streamlining processes and making their job easier.

After implementing and using your marketing automation software for a few weeks, follow up with employees to see how they’re using the technology. Offer advice and support to help them maximize the benefits for themselves and your business.

4. Start with Some Quick Wins

You aren’t required to develop a sophisticated marketing automation strategy from day one. It will take time to learn all the features and develop fine-tuned marketing campaigns that take full advantage of them.

In the beginning, it’s best to focus on getting the basics automated so you can get the ball rolling towards some big wins.  Here are some examples of easy things you can do right away to improve your marketing:

  • Set up a welcome email sequence for new subscribers
  • Set up trigger emails for abandoned carts
  • Create and A/B test some new targeted landing pages  
  • Start tracking landing page behavior
  • Automatically trigger communication between marketing and sales
  • Set up automated posts across your social accounts
  • Set up automated social interactions to engage your audience

When you use a powerful marketing automation technology, all of these things become easy tasks that will quickly show results. When you use SharpSpring’s point-and-click landing page builder, for example, you can create targeted pages that convert in less than an hour.

Identifying big problems with quick marketing automation fixes will help you realize ROI early on and free you to focus on developing more complex success strategies in the long run.

5. Pilot a New Marketing Campaign

Your marketing automation technology should include all the tools you need to build a powerful marketing campaign from scratch. Instead of trying to import your legacy sales funnels, take full advantage of your software’s internal features to build a new targeted marketing campaign.

All you have to do is build a campaign, automate your processes, and pilot them. Monitor your audience behavior and campaign performance with your marketing automation technology, then start identifying opportunities to adjust and improve. Over time your initial marketing campaign will grow into a powerful, optimized strategy to generate leads, drive conversions, reduce churn, and more.

Marketing Automation in the Long Run

Marketing automation should never be a “set it and forget it” type of thing. In order to drive ROI, you need to gain insights from your analytics reports and make smart adjustments to your campaigns and sales strategies. Marketing automation supports you in this effort by automating repetitive, tedious tasks and tracking the behavior of your leads. Try out these 5 easy ways to get started with marketing automation and the rest will fall into place.

The post 5 Really Easy Ways to Get Started With Marketing Automation appeared first on SharpSpring.

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Subject lines are arguably the most important part of your email marketing message. People today receive way more emails than they would want to read in a day. So they choose to open the most interesting/relevant ones based on one thing:

The subject line.

No matter how great your email content is, there’s no way it can drive conversions without a powerful subject line in front of it. Here are a few key strategies you can use to write subject lines that convert:

Choose the Right Sender Name

A prominent element that appears right alongside your subject line is the sender name. Many businesses use an impersonal sender name, such as “noreply@company.com.” All this tells subscribers is that they’re not communicating with a real person.

Even if your email really is just from the company as a whole, use a sender name that’s from a real person, such as your CEO or marketing manager. This gives subscribers the impression that there’s a person behind the message, encouraging them to click through and read.

Optimize for Length

There’s been a lot of research into what the perfect subject line length is. Some say subject lines with 1-5 words get the highest open rates. Others say 6-10 words or 11-15 words. There are so many factors that impact whether or not people open an email, it’s hard to prove what length really matters.

So instead of counting words or characters, it’s better to focus on using your subject line real estate in the best way possible. For starters, avoid writing overly long subject lines. They might get cut off depending on the mail client or device. iPhone’s native mail app cuts off most subject lines:

People also have short attention spans, and won’t feel inclined to read your overly long subject line before deciding to keep scrolling.

A good rule of thumb is to only use the number of words you need to convey your key message. Compare these two subject lines:

Confirmation: Your order number 408432376084 has shipped! Tracking information enclosed.


Your order is on the way! Here’s how to track it.

Both provide all the necessary information, but one’s significantly shorter. Having a shorter subject line gives you an additional opportunity to drive conversions by encouraging clicks. When your subject lines are shorter, some mail clients (e.g. Gmail) display more preview text from the body email:

So optimize your subject line and the first line of body text to compliment each other and drive conversions.

Segment and Personalize

Make your subject lines as relevant as possible to the individual subscribers you’re emailing. This makes it easier to capture their attention and encourage them to click. Start by segmenting your audience based on demographic information and online behavior. Then personalize your subject lines based on these insights. For example, if your subscribers live in certain cities, you can send out personalized recommendations for their locations.

Another easy way to personalize your subject lines is by including their first name. Using email marketing software, you can create personalization tokens to dynamically insert the subscriber’s first name into each subject line.

Probably the best way to personalize is by tailoring both your email content and subject line to subscriber interests. If you’re a pet supply retailer and you know a subscriber has purchased cat supplies in the past, then include an offer in your subject line for a new line of cat toys. The more relevant you make your subject lines to the interests of individual subscribers, the more likely they are to convert.

Use Emotional Triggers

Your subject line could be timely, relevant and personalized, and it still might not get a lot of opens. People are busy, so you need to give them a strong reason to read your email now, instead of scrolling past, thinking they’ll get to it later.

You can do this by using emotional triggers. These are psychological strategies to invoke emotions in your audience that drive them to act now. The most popular emotional triggers are:

  • Curiosity — Reveal something intriguing that drives subscribers to click through and learn more. Turing your subject line into a question is a great way to invoke curiosity.
  • Scarcity — Offer something in limited quantity (e.g. A discount price for the first 5 webinar signups).
  • Urgency — Offer something for a limited time (e.g. A 48-hour weekend sale).

Here’s an example of a subject line from Old Navy that invokes urgency:

Scarcity and urgency cause “fear of missing out,” which can drive subscribers to act now instead of later.

Test, Rinse, Repeat

It’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as the perfect subject line. Every email marketing audience is unique and different things will encourage them to click. So if you want to write the best subject lines that drive conversions, A/B testing should be your priority.

Start by cleaning up your email list and segmenting out your audience. Remove inactive subscribers from your list since they’re never going to open your emails anyway. Next segment out subscribers who always open your emails so their data doesn’t factor into your experiment. You want to focus specifically on targeting subscribers who may or may not engage based on your subject lines.

Now you’re ready to experiment. Just avoid testing two radically different subject lines. You’d learn which one is better, but you won’t understand why. Instead, make minor adjustments to a single subject line.

For example:

  • Should you include first name personalization or not?
  • Do you get more opens when the subject line is posed as a question or a statement?
  • What if you include a call-to-action (e.g. Buy now!)?
  • What if you include an offer in the subject line?
  • Etc.

Every email you send out is an opportunity to test and learn. Keep creating subject line variations to discover what kind of message drives your audience to convert.

The post How to Write Subject Lines That Convert appeared first on SharpSpring.

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Over the past few years, marketing automation has become a standard technology for online businesses, and it’s only getting more popular. Industry revenue is growing by more than 30% every year:

Adoption is growing, but the state of marketing automation is also evolving. New trends, technologies, and use cases are changing the role and benefits of marketing automation for businesses.

Read on to learn about some of the important trends in marketing automation.

1. Automated Strategy Optimization

In the beginning, marketing automation was all about freeing marketers from tedious, repetitive tasks and helping them deliver their marketing messages at the right time. Now thanks to artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, it’s possible to also optimize your marketing message with the help of automation.

For example, AI technology can discover and catalog your website content and categorize it by relevance. Then it automatically delivers personalized content experiences suited to individual users.

Marketing automation can track users’ behaviors on your site and on other channels, and it can then use this data to understand their interests and intent. AI can then automatically suggest what kind of content and marketing message will be most relevant to these leads.

So instead of just saving you time on certain tasks, marketing automation can also help you improve your audience targeting and overall strategy.

2. Better Predictive Lead Scoring

Lead scoring isn’t a new marketing automation feature, but it’s bound to improve a lot. Most marketers either create their own scoring criteria or let their marketing automation tool calculate it for them based on interest, website behavior, email interaction, and other factors.

Now marketing automation software can use machine learning to improve algorithms and refine the lead scoring process. This makes it possible to derive deeper insights from the raw data and make a better assessment of individual buying intent based on the behaviors of each lead.

As lead scoring becomes more accurate, marketers will take advantage of it to drive more marketing decisions. Smart marketers will use lead scoring to decide which accounts to prioritize for their sales and marketing messages. Lead score will also inform what kind of marketing content is needed for different points in the sales funnel, so you can engage leads with the right message at critical points.

3. Better Cross-Channel Marketing

When marketing automation was in its infancy, new technologies popped up for every marketing channel. You had your email automation tool, social media marketing tool, blog management technologies, etc.

But now that it has grown in popularity, there are many all-in-one marketing automation solutions to choose from. While most marketers today still use disparate tools to manage their automated tasks, that won’t be the case much longer. That’s because consolidating your marketing efforts has serious benefits for your business goals.

When you handle email, social media and mobile marketing all in one place, it’s easier to build a cross-channel marketing strategy. Delivering a consistent marketing message across channels and devices helps to optimize your sales funnel, improve customer loyalty, and more. In fact, businesses with strong omnichannel marketing strategies retain on average 89% of their customers, compared to 33% for companies with weak omnichannel customer engagement.

So if you’re still using five or more technologies to reach your audience on different marketing channels, now’s the time to consolidate. Look into using a marketing automation platform that can handle all these tasks – or one that integrates well with other technologies that do.

4. More Hands-On Marketing 

For most digital marketers, automation is about streamlining certain processes and getting more time to work on other (more strategic) things.

But while saving time is important, many make the mistake of seeing marketing automation as an opportunity to “set it and forget it.” They automate their social posts and, as a result,  spend less time engaging on social platforms. Or they set up their email sequence but never stop to analyze its performance.

The most effective marketers realize that marketing automation is an opportunity to focus more of their energy on direct engagement and strategy optimization. Automation can help you better understand your audience, create a more effective marketing message, and deliver it at the right time to the right leads.

Marketers who make full use of the features that lead to these benefits are set up to overcome competitors who simply want to save time on tedious tasks.

5. Chatbots as a Marketing Standard

Another added benefit of AI in marketing automation is chatbots. A chatbot is essentially an automated conversation through messaging.

AI can automatically suggest relevant content based on consumer intent data and where a lead is in the sales funnel. It’s possible to also use this information to automate sales information, customer service and other suggestions with chatbots.

Businesses can use chatbots to recommend products and services, deliver marketing content, help users convert into customers, and more. Most chatbots are used on Facebook Messenger or another messaging service, but you can also set them up as a widget on your website.

Chatbots are a new, interactive marketing channel that will continue to grow in relevance as AI makes automated responses more accurate and helpful to consumers. Instead of seeing chatbots as a novelty, more businesses will seriously consider incorporating them into their marketing strategies.

Keep Up With the Trends

Marketing automation platforms are constantly offering new tools and integrations that make reaching out to your target audience more efficient and effective. Marketers who take advantage of these changes before they hit mainstream will have a strong competitive edge over the rest of their industry. So always be on the lookout for new opportunities to optimize your marketing strategy with automation.

The post 5 Big Trends in Marketing Automation appeared first on SharpSpring.

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