7 Ways to Bring More Artistry to Your Writing

7 Ways to Bring More Artistry to Your Writing

The killer and the poet — ideally both in balance. That’s our theme for writers in 2018: To sharpen up your “killer” side with strategic, analytic, and technical skills, without ignoring your “poetic” side that has the talent to create fascinating content. Today’s post is about nurturing that inner poet — and adding more artistry
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The post 7 Ways to Bring More Artistry to Your Writing appeared first on Copyblogger.

How to Create Engaging Social Media Campaigns That Get Attention

Getting people’s attention on social media is more difficult than ever. But giving up isn’t an option. So… what should marketers do? Create well-conceived, well-written campaigns that cut through the static, of course. Here’s how. Read the full article at MarketingProfs

How to Promote Your Event Online Like a Pro

Hosting an event is a great way for businesses to gain exposure.

This holds true whether it’s a holiday or a special occasion for your customers, the community, or your industry.

You may want to promote an event even if you’re not hosting it.

For example, maybe your company will have a booth set up at a trade show or job fair.

Maybe you’re a keynote speaker at a conference or dinner event.

Your business might be a top sponsor of a charity golf tournament.

The list goes on and on.

Regardless of what kind of event you’re hosting, attending, or sponsoring, you’ll need to get people to show up if you want it to be successful.

Event planning isn’t easy.

Sometimes events take months to prepare for and require professional help.

After spending so much time, money, and preparation, it would be disheartening to see low attendance.

If you’ve been through this before, you know what I’m talking about.

While you may need some help running the event, you can get people in the doors all by yourself.

The days of hanging up flyers around town are over.

I’ll show you how to build hype and get thousands of people to attend your event by using online tactics.

Set up a website for your event

Rather than just having a small button on your current website promoting the event, you should build a completely new website.

Take a look at how Crawford Contractor Connection does this with their annual conference and business expo:

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For starters, just look at the menu options.

They’ve got nine different menu tabs for the website visitors to choose from, all for this one event.

It’s much more effective than having one section or one page of their current website dedicated to this.

How else would you be able to fit all the information into such a small space?

An event like this will have people flying in from all over the country.

If you’re hosting something similar, you need to be as accommodating as possible toward the attendees.

Get in touch with local hotels to get rooms blocked off and offer discounted group rates.

Anyone attending would be able to find this information directly on the event website.

You can also use your website as a platform to get people registered.

Now you can collect money in advance and have a more official head count for the day of the event.

That way, you’ll have a more accurate estimate of the number of attendees you’ll have than you would if you were guessing how many would show up.

Blast your email subscribers with invitations

It’s best to start with the people you know.

You’ll have an easier time getting them to attend an event than those unfamiliar with your brand.

Check out this email from Marketo as an example:

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This virtual event was attended by over 10,000 people.

That’s right, in today’s day and age people can attend your events without having to leave their homes.

But let’s focus on the email.

It has lots of good information you can replicate in yours:

  • Always make sure the date and time are clear
  • Have clear CTA buttons
  • Include your contact information
  • Give the subscribers a reason to attend
  • Add a video to your email (emails with video get 96.38% higher CTRs)

If you have any celebrities or special guests coming to speak, don’t keep it a secret.

Nobody wants to hear from a “surprise guest speaker.”

That could mean anything.

Be upfront and clear about all the information.

Since you’ll email subscribers who may be your current customers, you can provide them with more incentives to attend.

“Register now and receive a $20 gift card and a free t-shirt.”

Something like that should do the trick.

Just make sure they need to actually attend the event to claim their prizes.

If they get the reward instantly, they may not have any reason to show up.

Use podcasts to get the word out

Podcasts are a great online resource to reach a large audience.

If you or your company has a podcast, you know what I’m talking about.

But even if you don’t, you can try to partner with other podcasts related to your brand and industry to build hype for your event.

People spend more time listening to podcasts than any other audio source.

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That’s why it’s one of my favorite ways to promote anything online, but it’s especially helpful for an event.

Depending on your relationship with the person who runs the podcast, it’ll probably cost you some money.

But if you were to advertise with traditional marketing methods, such as print, television, or radio ads, you’d pay regardless.

So it’s worth it.

But try your best to keep these costs as low as possible.

Consider offering the person running the podcast free promotion for their brand during your event in exchange for airtime on their show to endorse it.

That keeps everyone happy and could expose your event to potentially hundreds of thousands of listeners.

Come up with a unique hashtag for your event

When it comes to social media promotion, take full advantage of hashtags.

The right hashtag can increase the chances of your posts and event going viral.

Whether you’re using Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or all of these platforms to promote your event, make sure you include a hashtag in each post.

Here’s an example of a hashtag from the Eurobike event in Germany:

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Hashtags are great because you can use them in three different phases to promote your event.

  • Before the event starts
  • During the event
  • After it’s over

Use hashtags in every post leading up to the event.

This will help you get an initial surge of people to attend.

Include it on all your invitations and in emails as well.

Once the event starts, the hashtag doesn’t have to die.

Attendees, speakers, performers, or anyone associated with your event can use this hashtag to share their experience in real time.

If your event lasts several days, these hashtags could encourage people who weren’t planning on attending to come to your event.

People can share all their photos and videos using the event hashtag as well.

Staying active on social media while using the hashtag during your event can help generate conversations about it.

Ask people what their favorite part was so far.

You can run a contest of the best picture from the event.

After the event is over, you can still keep the hashtag alive.

Attendees can continue to post photos, and you can stay engaged with these people through the hashtag.

You can even link this event to your next one.

Create an event on Facebook

Facebook is one of the best platforms to promote an event online because it has over 1 billion active monthly users.

If you’ve never set up an event on Facebook, don’t worry—it’s easy.

I’ll show you exactly what to do so you get it right the first time.

Step #1: Navigate to “Events” under the “Explore” menu

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On the left side of your Facebook home page, you’ll see a menu that says “Explore.”

“Events” is the first option below that tab.

Once you click it, you’ll be able to see any events you’re attending, those your friends are interested in, and nearby events.

Step #2: Click “Create Event”

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From here, you can click “Create Event” in one of two different locations on the page.

Click the button on the bottom left of the screen or at the top middle of the page to continue.

Step #3: Set it up as a public event

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Make sure your event is public.

Private events are intended for small parties or gatherings among friends, but not for businesses.

To ensure it gets exposed to as many people as possible, it’s essential you click on this setting.

Otherwise, only people whom you personally invite will have access to this page.

Step #4: Add an event photo

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Upload a photo for your event.

It can be your company logo, but I recommend including more information.

Create a customized image with your logo, the name of the event, the date, time, and any other relevant information.

This is a great spot to include the event hashtag as well, which we discussed earlier.

Step #5: Add the basic information about the event

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Your event photo may or may not include this info, but you’ll need to make it all official here for the Facebook event.

Come up with a name.

Tell people where the event will be held.

Set specific start and end times for your event.

It could last a couple of hours or a week.

Whatever you decide, this is the place where you set it up.

Step #6: Add a description, and click “Create”

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Here’s the part where you get to tell people more about your event.

What special guests are attending?

Are you serving food?

Is it family friendly?

Tell your prospective guests where they can park and how they can buy tickets.

Add lots of details here.

Don’t be vague.

Include a link to your special event website, which I talked about earlier.

Click on the “Create” button when you’re done.

That’s it. Your event is created.

Now it’s time for you to invite people to join.

Start by adding everyone who follows your brand on Facebook.

Encourage these people to invite their friends as well.

You can promote your Facebook event on other platforms too, such as Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Use your hashtag to drive users towards the Facebook page.

Even people who don’t follow your page on Facebook will be able to see your event.

The Facebook algorithm will make it appear on their newsfeeds if any of their friends are interested in attending.

Reach out to your Instagram followers

Instagram is another inexpensive and effective way to promote any event online.

It’s easy to post pictures here.

Plus, you’ve already got a social following there, so take advantage of it.

This works whether you’re a global company or a local business.

Check out this Instagram event promotion from Hope Gallery:

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The image is very effective.

It has all the information needed to get the attention of their followers.

The post includes the date and time of the event along with the contact information and location.

They also listed the guest artists as well as businesses providing food and drinks as additional incentives.

You can also see they added an event hashtag to the post—an effective promotional method.

The picture could be used on other platforms as well.

If you’re planning to make a customized image for Instagram, it could double as your Facebook event photo.

Conclusion

Hosting, running, and attending an event may be complicated and costly.

However, promoting it online doesn’t have to be.

As you can see from the tactics I discussed, you can expose your event to a large audience without putting in too much effort, time, or money.

You just have to be smart and direct to get the best results.

Start by creating a website designed specifically for your event.

You can use it to provide attendees with information, get people to register, and collect payments ahead of time.

Take advantage of your current marketing distribution channels, especially your email subscriber list.

Everyone on your email list is already familiar with your brand, which increases the chances of them being interested in attending your event.

Use your podcast or other peoples’ podcasts to build hype for your event.

Come up with a clever hashtag to get exposure on social media platforms.

Create an event on Facebook, and use Instagram to promote it as well.

The more people you can get to show up, the more successful your event will be.

It all starts with how well you promote it.

If you follow these online promotional tips, you won’t have a problem getting thousands of people to attend your event.

What other types of successful strategies have you used in the past to promote your events?

4 advanced tips to optimizing your LinkedIn business page

When was the last time you evaluated your company LinkedIn page? Does it represent your brand well, attract prospective clients and showcase your business as an authority in its field? 

Many small businesses take the necessary steps to create a company LinkedIn page, but aren’t quite sure if their page is doing all it should. Here are some advanced tips to make sure your business page is the best it can be.

1. Create Showcase Pages

A Showcase Page is an offshoot of your company profile page that enables you to promote a specific product or service that your business offers. And because Showcase Pages have analytics, you’ll be able to track visitor interest in those products or services.

Let’s say you sell digital cameras. You can set up a Showcase Page that highlights your best-selling camera. Or, if you run a pet shop, you could highlight your pet grooming services.

On your LinkedIn company page, Showcase Pages are below the About Us section. Look at the Adobe page below and you’ll see how they would appear on your own company page.

To create a Showcase Page, look under the Edit tab on your company page and select “Create a Showcase Page.” Then fill in the same information that you did for your company page, but geared specifically to a product or service. 

LinkedIn allows you to set up 10 Showcase Pages, so focus on your best products and services and remember to maintain these pages as you make changes to your offerings. 

2. Add keywords to your profile

When you were creating your company profile, you probably described your business and products and moved on to the next content block. You might not have considered adding keywords to your profile. LinkedIn profiles are searchable, so you want to make sure that your page appears when a client or customer enters relevant keywords into the search bar.

What words would your audience use to find your business? Create a list of five to six words or short phrases and add those words to your profile page. If you need a little help in the keyword department, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner to help you create a list of keywords to incorporate into your page.

3. Use the Life tab

This recent addition to the LinkedIn layout empowers you to show users who you are in a way that goes beyond the products or services that you offer. It’s like a behind-the-scenes look at your company’s culture. You can use the Life tab to highlight activities that your team has participated in, philanthropic work that you’ve done and even the languages that your team speaks. This is also a place where you can feature Employee Perspectives — sharing content that team members have published to LinkedIn — and employee testimonials.

Taking the time to customize the features under this tab can be especially beneficial if you’re using your LinkedIn page for recruiting purposes. But it’s also a great way to give visitors a glimpse at your business’s unique story.

Shoe retailer Allbirds uses the Life tab to share company photos and the business’s mission:

4. Write comment-worthy updates

You are probably already posting updates to your company page, so try these tips to make sure those updates are engaging:

  • Ask questions: Give your audience a reason to comment on your updates by asking a question. Then follow up with a link to a blog post on the topic.
  • Share unique statistics: Nothing gets an audience talking like a unique statistic. Find a stat that applies to your business, or better yet, share some statistics from a recent customer survey to generate a conversation.
  • Share a link: Updates with a link drive twice as much engagement as updates without one. Link to a recent blog post you wrote, a YouTube video that you like or an industry-based news piece. 
  • Add a photo: Research shows that simply adding a photo to your post can increase comment rate by almost 98 percent.

With more than 530 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is an excellent place to market your business. Make sure you put your best foot forward by updating and optimizing your company page. 

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© 2018, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.

The post 4 advanced tips to optimizing your LinkedIn business page appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Court Overturns California Law Banning Stores from Adding Credit Card Surcharges at Checkout

Ninth Circuit Overturns California Credit Card Surcharge Ruling

A California law that prohibited businesses from passing along credit card fees to customers has just been overturned.

California Credit Card Surcharge Ruling Overturned

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco just released its ruling, overturning the original law passed back in 1985. Credit card companies impose fees on businesses when they process credit card payments. But because of that original law, businesses in the state had to either raise prices across the board or get creative with discounts for customers who pay using other methods.

The new ruling has been generally seen as a win for small businesses, since they now have more options for covering those charges. And those who prefer not to add a surcharge for credit card purchases don’t need to make any changes.

CardX CEO Jonathan Razi said in an email to Small Business Trends, “With this legal victory, businesses now have the option to pass on the fee to customers that choose credit cards for convenience or rewards. Under the new rules, businesses can accept credit cards at 0 percent cost. Based on what we’re seeing in other states, many businesses already processing cards will use this option to reduce costs, and businesses that previously did not accept cards at all (because the fees were prohibitive) will now be able to offer their customers the ability to pay by credit card for the first time.”

The ruling, however, might not bring about as much change as some think. Previously, businesses were allowed to offer discounts for customers paying in cash or other non-credit card methods. So the reversal of this law simply lets businesses approach the subject differently with customers.

However small the change might seem, it’s still one that a lot of businesses in California and beyond have been clamoring for. And though this specific reversal only impacts California businesses, it could have an impact on the other states that still have similar laws.

Razi says, “This is a landmark result for the country as a whole, because it is the first state-level decision under last year’s U.S. Supreme Court case, which decided these laws are regulations of protected commercial speech. For that reason, we believe the California decision speaks directly to what we’ll see in the few remaining states: the bans are being ruled unconstitutional, and the courts are pushing towards acceptance in all 50 states.”

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Court Overturns California Law Banning Stores from Adding Credit Card Surcharges at Checkout” was first published on Small Business Trends

SEO Training: 3 Steps to Generating 100K Visitors Per Month in Organic Traffic [REAL LIFE EXAMPLE]

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHLi-rzTYrs&w=640&h=360]

Why Sales Reps are the Best Marketers in Your Company

Every marketing playbook begins with “know your target market.”

It’s preached day in and day out by the top marketing pros. Every well-paid exec learns this on their first day on the job.

And for good reason. Knowing your target market is critical to generating traffic or converting sales.

But what does it really mean?

Most playbooks will tell you to fill out the classic buyer persona or demographic template.

What does that tell you, though? Honestly.

BMW sells convertibles to old, white, bald, suburban dudes who make a comfortable six-figures a year.

Ok. Now what?

That doesn’t tell you why they buy. That doesn’t tell you how to reach them, where they hang out, who influences them, or how to upsell them at the right time.

To make matters worse, most companies sell to multiple customer personas. And each one buys for vastly different reasons.

So shoe-horning them into a single box of…

Age
Gender
Location

… isn’t going to bring in paying customers.

Many marketers want to jump the gun. They go straight into A/B testing multiple audiences, for example.

You need 1,000 conversions monthly, minimum, to get results with statistical significance. And if you’re testing variables against a single persona, that means you need multiples of 1,000 conversions for each one. Which is one of the many reasons why A/B tests often fall flat.

Sales reps, on the other hand, know your target market inside and out. Even the lowest SDR on the totem pole has your target market down cold.

They deal with annoying sales objections all day long. They know what makes your target customer tick. They know what pushes them off the fence and what turns them into paying customers.

How? Because they’re in the trenches talking, learning, experimenting, and failing on a daily basis.

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Sales reps spend 41% of their time selling. Dealing with real customers in your target market. Finding out if they’re qualified to buy, or if they aren’t.

Meaning they know major things that marketers struggle with:

Who’s gonna buy from you
Why they’re gonna buy from you
Why they’re picking you instead of competitor A who charges less
Who ain’t gonna buy from you
Why they ain’t

That’s more powerful than any buyer persona template you can come up with. And according to HubSpot’s State of Inbound Report, leads sourced by the sales department are among the highest quality (outside of unicorn-esque personal referrals).

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And they also produce the most leads and sales for a given business.

Sales reps understand customer motivations and preferences deeper than marketers do. Because without speaking one-on-one or meeting face to face, you can’t learn everything you need to learn about them.

They know how to sell without selling

You’ve just walked into a car dealership to scout new vehicles. It’s time for an upgrade.

You walk in the door and instantly realize you’ve made a big mistake.

It’s all downhill from here.

Time for a cup of terrible black coffee from the helpful car salesperson grinning from ear to ear. “Another deer in headlights,” they think. Practically licking their lips.

You know exactly what’s coming. But you still can’t avoid it.

You want the damn car. You’re practically foaming at the mouth.

You told yourself to be strong. To fight back. To flee from temptation.

But that smooth-talkin’ sales rep just roped you in.

They sold to you without selling.

90% of the sale happened before you ever stepped on that filthy lot. They built a brand image around the product. They didn’t even tell you to buy the car. They didn’t talk about its features or its wonderful quality.

They didn’t ask you to sign anything, read anything, or even what package you wanted. They simply got you to take a test drive.

See, we buy based on emotions. Ones that never show up on the Customer Persona deck circulating your department’s Slack channel.

They made you feel like a star when you got behind the wheel. That’s selling without selling. And sales reps are king at it.

It’s simply another form of branding that’s unmatched by most online attempts. And branding drives sales:


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Sales reps don’t know how to leverage branding or deliver an amazing customer experience because they read about it on GrowthHackers.com.

They know because they know. Because if they didn’t know, they wouldn’t eat.

Sales reps know how to sell to existing customers

Landed a few new clients from that latest marketing campaign?

“Run another one and double the acquisition! We just need X more traffic to land Y in new leads.”

Except, of course, those are just leads. Not sales.

And most new sales are completely unprofitable at the beginning.

So that’s not where the money’s at. Savvy (and wealthy) salespeople focus instead on where marketers don’t: existing customers.

You know, the customers who already use your product or service. Who already pay you cold hard cash. The ones that cost 5x less to sell to.

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But marketers aren’t really at fault for this. Our system/current mantra is that marketers exist to drive traffic. New inbound leads.

Content is king, right?

Their sole goal at most companies is to bring in more visitors. Meaning they often get caught up in customer acquisition and acquiring as many new visits as possible.

That leaves almost no room for focusing on marketing messages to existing customers.

Even worse, the deck is stacked against marketers. The mass majority of channels used by marketing departments are better for acquisition than retention:

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State of Inbound found that marketers’ top priorities consisted of entirely acquisition-focused tactics, too:

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On top of that, only 42% of companies can measure customer lifetime value with any accuracy. And if we know anything about real data, that data is probably wrong.

If you can’t measure lifetime value, you can’t know the potential of your existing customers.

That leaves you with one option:

To keep turning the wheels to avoid customer churn. To go back to those acquisition-based tactics. Bring in new leads with inbound strategies and make sure the CPA is low enough to allow for profits.

But sales reps are different.

They’ve built real, lasting relationships with the sales they’ve closed.

They don’t get paid based on Twitter followers. They get paid based on new real revenue.

And the money is in the list.

No, no the crappy email one full of unqualified subscribers who aren’t ever going to pay you. (Those influencers are wrong.)

The money is in the existing customer list because the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%. Increasing customer retention by just 5% can increase profits by 25% or more.

Selling to existing customers is easier. And more profitable.

But typical marketing gigs don’t allow room for that. Marketers drive the traffic and email signups. Sales maniacally focus on dollars and cents.

Your sales reps actually talk on the phone

I know it sounds crazy. Phone calls? Is this 1973?

But phone calls are extremely important in today’s world.

Here’s why.

According to HubSpot, the most successful channel for sales reps to connect with a prospect is via phone:

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That means more deals. And more real, tangible sales are landed on the phone than any other channel.

Sitting on social platforms all day doesn’t drive big-ticket sales.

Sure, it can be great for generating brand awareness, but when push comes to shove, phone calls convert best.

Want to reach C-level executives, VPs, and managers? In other words, decision makers? Phone calls are your best bet.

And marketers almost never call customers. They’re too busy running around, managing new marketing campaigns.

Sales reps, on the other hand, are taking advantage of outdated phone calls for one specific reason: personalization. The Holy Grail of conversions.

According to AdAge, most marketers say that personalization will be the most important marketing tactic in years to come. But 60% of marketers struggle to personalize their content in real time.

Marketers love to talk about personalization. However, they don’t like to do it.

Phone calls are arguably the most personalized form of communication (aside from face-to-face interactions).

You’re talking directly with the prospect, for extended periods of time, developing rapport. You’re finding out what they did on the weekend, what ages their kids are, their tone of voice, their frustrations or excitements.

Try getting that on Instagram.

It’s real communication where the customer has a voice, and the sales rep is there to serve.

In fact, customers actually enjoy being contacted by phone:

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56% of surveyed customers prefer to communicate by phone for business purposes, after email and face-to-face.

When it comes to big fish like C-level executives and VPs, phone calls and real interactions rank high as well:

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While messaging and social seem fun, it’s not what business communicators or consumers want.

And sales reps are the ones conducting the face-to-face interactions and phone calls, not marketers.

To add to that, the most successful channel for connecting with prospects is via phone:

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Want to drive more sales?

You need to reach your prospects. And the best way to do it is through conducting a good old-fashioned phone call.

Aligning both departments is critical for success

Marketing and sales are often seen as two different worlds.

One has their heads in the clouds, posting cat gifs on social all day. While the other is a sleazy, money-hungry cesspool. (Marketers words, not mine.)

But that’s not true. The stereotypes simply don’t hold weight anymore.

Marketing and sales departments shouldn’t be seen as competition, but rather, two parts of a well-oiled machine.

When marketing and sales teams are tightly aligned, companies state that their marketing strategy is more effective:

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If you’re sales and marketing teams aren’t, you’re likely struggling with marketing.

And the cold hard truth is:

The majority of sales and marketing departments aren’t tightly aligned.

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Some are even rarely or completely misaligned. Meaning most strategies and campaigns are going to have major flaws that hinder revenue.

So your first step is to work on the fundamentals by making sure your messaging is aligned across both departments. Whether you’re cold emailing as part of your outbound marketing or blogging as part of your inbound marketing.

Conclusion

Viral coefficients don’t pay the bills. Neither do 301 redirects or Facebook chatbots.

And therein lies the problem.

Good marketing can’t beat real relationships or high-quality customer service.

Sales reps are actually the best marketers in your company. Even if they don’t want to be.

Experience trumps all, and sales reps almost always have the most customer experience in your company. They know your customers’ ins and outs. Their pain points. Their desires, wants and needs.

Aligning marketing and sales has never been more important according to the latest business data.

Want to become a better marketer? Spend more time selling, first.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

Sekolah Internet Marketing Terfaforit di Bekasi Timur Call/SMS/WA 081222555757

Sekolah Internet Marketing Terfaforit di Bekasi Timur Call/SMS/WA 081222555757 Ingin belajar bisnis online atau internet marketing? Anda ingin mulai bisnis tidak tahu harus mulai dari mana? Anda mencari kursus bisnis …

The post Sekolah Internet Marketing Terfaforit di Bekasi Timur Call/SMS/WA 081222555757 appeared first on Newline Marketing.

Year in Review: 3 Takeaways for Small Business Owners

Looking back at 2017, I’ve been lucky to work with and learn from small business owners across America.

These business owners face a number of challenges – from finding the right staff to securing financing – but their resourceful nature resulted in many success stories this year.

Now that 2018 is here, I want to take a moment to reflect on a few specific lessons – from strategy to technology to the big-picture outlook – that I hope will serve as inspiration for another great year in the small business community.

Not enough businesses have employees in the right tech roles

When you’re running a small business, it’s easy to get swamped. There’s no shame in that – you’re an ambitious self-starter and live for your company’s success. But sometimes taking on more than you can handle means overwhelming yourself with responsibilities that should be handled by others.

According to a Salesforce small business report, 49 percent of small businesses say they spend too much time and money trying to decide what technology to use, which is often the result of non-tech experts making tech-related decisions.

When it comes to IT strategy, the lack of a designated tech-savvy team member is one reason 61 percent of small businesses ignore valuable IT solutions for their business.

On the other hand, small businesses that rush into hiring a chief technology officer (CTO) too early often end up with high costs and complicated IT strategies that go beyond their needs. Waiting to hire a CTO can save you precious capital (sometimes over $230,000 annually) and allows you gain insight from multiple voices.

One solution for accessing expert tech knowledge without hiring too soon is to seek help from an external tech advisor. Dell Small Business Advisors can help you understand your IT needs and come up with customized solutions to meet them.

Protecting your company’s assets requires the right technology and mindset

Technology plays an important role in all types of businesses, and securing your key data is becoming increasingly critical. This is just as true for small businesses as it is for large corporations, yet the former often finds this more difficult to tackle given limited resources.

Earlier this year, I moderated a ransomware roundtable. One of the most impactful takeaways was just how much power hackers can gain over small businesses that don’t implement adequate cybersecurity measures. Halfway through the year, we’d already seen major institutions like the U.K.’s National Health Service and the United States CIA hacked by various groups from around the globe.

Instead of waiting for a problem to arise and then reacting, you can boost the security of your small business by proactively assessing risks and making a plan for how to deal with any breaches. It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process with the help of an expert. Setting up the right private and public cloud storage also plays a key role in keeping your company’s valuable assets safe.

Millennial entrepreneurs are setting new standards for small business IT solutions

Young generations are always trendsetters. In August, we looked at how millennials are setting new standards for how and where technology is being used in business operations.

Having grown up in a tech-filled world, these individuals are inspiring companies to adopt cloud-based infrastructure and a mobile-first mentality. Others have directed this forward-thinking approach to entrepreneurship, with millennials accounting for 16 percent of small business owners in the United States.

Freelancing is key trend driving change in the worlds of business and employment. Back in March, I outlined how Americans – millennials in general – are embracing freelancing as a way to build fulfilling careers in which they call the shots. At the same time, both small and large businesses are using the freelance economy as a flexible resource to support their work, recognizing that freelancing creates unique IT needs on both sides of the equation.

The future is full of opportunity

With a new year comes new ideas, new tech and new growth. Since the start of 2017, we’ve seen advances in tools like artificial intelligence and virtual reality, which allows business owners to be forward thinking about how they approach new opportunities – a mindset we champion at Dell, too.

No one can predict the future, but I am confident that 2018 will be full of new opportunities for small businesses everywhere.

5 Accounting and Finance Certifications to Get Ahead

Accounting and finance jobs are in demand year after year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 10 percent employment growth for accountants and auditors through 2026, which is above average for occupations.

In addition to education, a certification can certainly help you propel your career upward, and it serves as a point of justification when you’re negotiating a salary bump with your current employer or considering a new job offer.

For the five certifications in this article, employers require job candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or a related field, as well as some on-the-job experience. Becoming certified, and maintaining that certification, indicates you’re up to date on processes, procedures, laws and other aspects of your chosen profession.

Top 5 certifications, by the numbers

The following table lists top accounting or finance certifications and the number of open positions on a single day that call for the certification specifically or experience with the subject matter. This isn’t a scientific analysis in which every job description is examined, just an overall glance at search numbers.

Job site search results

Certification Simply Hired LinkedIn Jobs Total
Certified Management Accountant (CMA) 107 147 254
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) 2,226 2,596 4,822
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) 786 292 1,078
Enrolled Agent (EA) 401 530 931
SAP HANA Financial Accounting 116 178 294

 

The following sections provide details of popular accounting or finance certifications according to job site searches, as well as other certifications the various companies offer.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

IMA, short for the Institute of Management Accountants, is the membership organization behind the Certified Management Accountant (CMA), which aims at management accountants and financial professionals. Regarding the difference between a CMA and other accounting-related professionals, IMA explains that CMAs understand the “why” behind numbers, whereas the others understand the “what.”

A CMA certification can be lucrative. IMA reports the median income for CMAs is about 28 percent higher in the U.S. than for their peers without the designation.

To achieve the CMA, you must have a current IMA membership, a bachelor’s degree or an approved accounting certification, two years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on a two-part exam. The first part of the exam covers financial reporting, planning, performance and control. The second part focuses on financial decision-making. IMA charges an entrance fee of $250, and each exam part costs $415. (A discount is available to students and academic members, and a limited number of scholarships is available each year.) [Take Dr. John’s CM course on Udemy]

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

The creme de la creme of accounting certifications is the certified public accountant, or CPA. A CPA works for a public or private sector organization, or as a consultant, and can handle a variety of tasks, such as maintaining and auditing financial records, overseeing finances and budgets, preparing taxes, and providing financial plans.

Each state and several jurisdictions certify and license CPAs through their boards of accountancy, which means you’ll need to research requirements for your locale. Typically, a minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree with courses in general accounting, cost accounting and the like. A good starting point is AccountingEdu.org.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The CFA Institute offers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, geared toward investment and portfolio managers, financial advisors, and analysts. [Take a CFA Level 1 course on Udemy]

Candidates for the CFA need an international passport for ID purposes, as well as a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, four years of professional work experience, or a combination of education and experience. Earning the CFA requires passing three exams – levels 1, 2 and 3 – which are offered every June. (The Level 1 exam is also offered in December.)

The CFA Institute charges a one-time program enrollment fee of $450, and $950 for each exam.

Enrolled Agent (EA)

Tax professionals may be interested in earning the enrolled agent (EA) credential. Created by the IRS, the EA credential recognizes a person’s knowledge of the U.S. tax code for individuals and corporations and how to apply it. An EA may also represent taxpayers before the IRS for situations like collections and appeals. It’s the highest credential you can achieve through the IRS.

To become an EA, you must have worked for the IRS for at least five years in which you interpreted tax code, or pass the three-part Special Enrollment Exam (SEE). You must also pass a background check, adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years.

Treasury Department Circular No. 230 is the go-to source for official information on what EAs do and how to become one. The National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) offers information that’s easier to digest, as well as training resources.

SAP Financial Accounting

SAP is best known for its widely used enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which integrates business processes with financial and accounting processes, and a whole lot more. The company offers many different certifications, seven of which are SAP Certified Application Associates for Financial Accounting or Management Accounting, on various SAP applications. [Take SAP Financial Accounting and Controlling Super User Training on Udemy]

All seven accounting-related certifications require candidates to pass one 80-question exam and cost $500 (with the exception of the SAP HANA for Financial Accounting certification, which costs $535). To see all certifications, go to the SAP Certification Validities page and search for “accounting.”

What else?

Another worthy certification in the accounting and finance realm is the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. The Institute of Internal Auditors is well known for its Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification, but it also offers the Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) and Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), among a few other credentials.

How to Keep Your 2018 Small Business Financial Resolutions

How to Keep Your 2018 Small Business Financial ResolutionsIt happens every year. When January 1 comes, business owners examine what happened during the past 12 months and decide to start anew by making business financial resolutions. Resolutions are often easier said than done, however. Psychologists tell us that it takes at least three weeks for a habit to start to become a permanent change. Many of us have forgotten or dropped our individual New Year’s resolutions by Groundhog Day.

Small business owners often vow to examine their operations during the past year and find ways to improve them. Once the holidays end and things start running as before, many of us fall back into our same routines and the vows to change become unfulfilled.

According to Psychology Today, New Year’s resolutions fail when goals are unrealistic and when we place time bounds on changing behavior. Instead, create an area of focus and keep at it, rather than specific goals with time constraints that you may not be able to reach (and then become disappointed because of failure to meet the deadlines).

Recommended Financial Resolutions for Your Small Business

When small business owners seek my advice for securing capital, I tell them that they must become financially prepared to apply for loans. Consider the following to be business financial resolutions that any small business can carry out:

Trim Your Budget

Before you expand, you may need to trim. Entrepreneurs often seek funding because they plan to expand their operations in the coming year. Cutting excess weight is a good first step. Review expenses with your accountant to find areas where costs can be reduced, thus improving cash flow. Monitor inventory; unless there is significant financial incentive (in the form of a price reduction) to buy more, use what’s already on hand before ordering more inventory. Examine staffing. Businesses with seasonality should be the most vigilant. Cutting the hours of underutilized staff – especially part-timers – can result in significant cost reductions and improved cash flow. The better your financials look when applying for a loan, the better your chances of securing funding.

Become Neater

Shoddy record-keeping can easily lead to losses. Keep track of all of the revenue your company has generated and all of its expenses. Be sure to hang onto petty cash slips and keep records of anyone you may have paid cash. After all, you can’t become profitable without having a firm grasp on revenue and expenses. If you do your own accounting but don’t feel like you’re an expert in it, hire an accountant who specializes in small business. The benefits will likely outweigh the costs.

Be the Early Bird

If you plan to apply for a small business loan, you will need to provide tax returns for the past two to three years. By getting your 2017 forms into IRS in January or February, rather than April 15, you will be able to provide the required documentation more quickly. It’s an added bonus if you are expecting a refund because you will get it sooner. However, even if you wind up owing money to the Uncle Sam, paying it off sooner rather than later will put you in a stronger position to ask for a loan a little bit down the road.

3 Tips for Keeping Your Small Business Financial Resolutions

So now that you have some advice, here are 3 tips for keeping your small business financial resolutions:

  1. Focus on one goal at a time. If cutting expenses is you main goal, once a week schedule time to sit down and analyze expenditures and find out where the excess is. Then get rid of the excess. Once you find success, move onto the next goal.
  2. Celebrate the small victories. If you found a way to reduce staff hours by 10 percent, be proud – even if your goal was a 25 percent reduction. Keep track of your progress and keep working towards your goal.
  3. Stick with it; keeping resolutions should be a year-long effort. Don’t wait until Dec. 31 to try it again.

The beginning of the year gives everyone a chance to turn the page and start anew. Making financial New Year’s resolutions and sticking to them will take a lot of effort. By striving continuously to achieve goals – and accepting that there will be setbacks from time to time – will put you in the right frame of mind to achieve them in the long run. The ultimate measure of success will be whether your business is in better financial shape in December 2018 than it is at the beginning of January.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “How to Keep Your 2018 Small Business Financial Resolutions” was first published on Small Business Trends

The Ultimate LinkedIn Profile Tips Summary [Infographic] + 8 Stats…

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The post The Ultimate LinkedIn Profile Tips Summary [Infographic] + 8 Stats… appeared first on Newline Marketing.

How I Recruited 19 People In 30 Days Into My Business 🔥

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A strong personal brand online can create a positive and memorable first impress…

A strong personal brand online can create a positive and memorable first impression, helping you get that perfect job – or find that right date. See how to stand out …

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5 Accounting and Finance Certifications to Get Ahead

Accounting and finance jobs are in demand year after year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 10 percent employment growth for accountants and auditors through 2026, which is above average for occupations.

In addition to education, a certification can certainly help you propel your career upward, and it serves as a point of justification when you’re negotiating a salary bump with your current employer or considering a new job offer.

For the five certifications in this article, employers require job candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in accounting, finance or a related field, as well as some on-the-job experience. Becoming certified, and maintaining that certification, indicates you’re up to date on processes, procedures, laws and other aspects of your chosen profession.

Top 5 certifications, by the numbers

The following table lists top accounting or finance certifications and the number of open positions on a single day that call for the certification specifically or experience with the subject matter. This isn’t a scientific analysis in which every job description is examined, just an overall glance at search numbers.

Job site search results

Certification Simply Hired LinkedIn Jobs Total
Certified Management Accountant (CMA) 107 147 254
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) 2,226 2,596 4,822
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) 786 292 1,078
Enrolled Agent (EA) 401 530 931
SAP HANA Financial Accounting 116 178 294

 

The following sections provide details of popular accounting or finance certifications according to job site searches, as well as other certifications the various companies offer.

Certified Management Accountant (CMA)

IMA, short for the Institute of Management Accountants, is the membership organization behind the Certified Management Accountant (CMA), which aims at management accountants and financial professionals. Regarding the difference between a CMA and other accounting-related professionals, IMA explains that CMAs understand the “why” behind numbers, whereas the others understand the “what.”

A CMA certification can be lucrative. IMA reports the median income for CMAs is about 28 percent higher in the U.S. than for their peers without the designation.

To achieve the CMA, you must have a current IMA membership, a bachelor’s degree or an approved accounting certification, two years of relevant work experience, and a passing score on a two-part exam. The first part of the exam covers financial reporting, planning, performance and control. The second part focuses on financial decision-making. IMA charges an entrance fee of $250, and each exam part costs $415. (A discount is available to students and academic members, and a limited number of scholarships is available each year.) [Take Dr. John’s CM course on Udemy]

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

The creme de la creme of accounting certifications is the certified public accountant, or CPA. A CPA works for a public or private sector organization, or as a consultant, and can handle a variety of tasks, such as maintaining and auditing financial records, overseeing finances and budgets, preparing taxes, and providing financial plans.

Each state and several jurisdictions certify and license CPAs through their boards of accountancy, which means you’ll need to research requirements for your locale. Typically, a minimum requirement is a bachelor’s degree with courses in general accounting, cost accounting and the like. A good starting point is AccountingEdu.org.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The CFA Institute offers the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) certification, geared toward investment and portfolio managers, financial advisors, and analysts. [Take a CFA Level 1 course on Udemy]

Candidates for the CFA need an international passport for ID purposes, as well as a bachelor’s degree or equivalent, four years of professional work experience, or a combination of education and experience. Earning the CFA requires passing three exams – levels 1, 2 and 3 – which are offered every June. (The Level 1 exam is also offered in December.)

The CFA Institute charges a one-time program enrollment fee of $450, and $950 for each exam.

Enrolled Agent (EA)

Tax professionals may be interested in earning the enrolled agent (EA) credential. Created by the IRS, the EA credential recognizes a person’s knowledge of the U.S. tax code for individuals and corporations and how to apply it. An EA may also represent taxpayers before the IRS for situations like collections and appeals. It’s the highest credential you can achieve through the IRS.

To become an EA, you must have worked for the IRS for at least five years in which you interpreted tax code, or pass the three-part Special Enrollment Exam (SEE). You must also pass a background check, adhere to ethical standards and complete 72 hours of continuing education every three years.

Treasury Department Circular No. 230 is the go-to source for official information on what EAs do and how to become one. The National Association of Enrolled Agents (NAEA) offers information that’s easier to digest, as well as training resources.

SAP Financial Accounting

SAP is best known for its widely used enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, which integrates business processes with financial and accounting processes, and a whole lot more. The company offers many different certifications, seven of which are SAP Certified Application Associates for Financial Accounting or Management Accounting, on various SAP applications. [Take SAP Financial Accounting and Controlling Super User Training on Udemy]

All seven accounting-related certifications require candidates to pass one 80-question exam and cost $500 (with the exception of the SAP HANA for Financial Accounting certification, which costs $535). To see all certifications, go to the SAP Certification Validities page and search for “accounting.”

What else?

Another worthy certification in the accounting and finance realm is the Certified Bookkeeper (CB) by the American Institute of Professional Bookkeepers. The Institute of Internal Auditors is well known for its Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) certification, but it also offers the Certified Financial Services Auditor (CFSA) and Certified Government Auditing Professional (CGAP), among a few other credentials.

Content Marketing Evolution: 5 Major Content Marketing Trends for 2018

Content Marketing Trends 2018

Do you remember upgrading from an old square TV to a high-definition model? It was an amazing leap forward in the viewing experience.

Then came 3D televisions…and no one really cared. Then even bigger screens, then curved displays, OLED, smart TVs, 3D and 4k. None of these advances have really fired up the imagination of the TV-buying public. These incremental improvements just aren’t compelling enough to inspire me to upgrade.

The same thing happened with smartphones. The iPhone’s touchscreen-only design was revolutionary, and now every modern phone is a sleek rectangle. Since then, it’s been incremental change and vanity features. I can unlock this phone with my face instead of my fingerprint? And I can turn into an animated dancing unicorn? Yawn.

Content marketing had its watershed moment a decade ago, marking a monumental shift in the way marketing works. Hard selling and SEO trickery gave way to relationship-building and bringing real value to customers. Since then, we’ve been refining the formula. We’ve added new gimmicks and made small adjustments. But marketers are long overdue for a new paradigm shift.

When you’re watching content marketing trends for this year, look deeper than the marketing equivalent of 4k and curved displays. Look for the quiet revolution that is starting to take hold—look for the fundamental changes in the way we approach content.

Here are my picks for the next major movements in content marketing.

#1 – Long-Form Content

As I’ve said before, content is moving beyond the 500-word blog post. Consumers and B2B buyers simply want more depth and value than short content can provide. Even if your 500-word post does attract significant traffic, it has an inherently short life span.

Orbitmedia’s yearly blogging survey shows that the most successful bloggers are spending more time creating longer posts. The average length of a typical blog post has risen from 808 in 2014 to 1,142 in 2017.

These longer posts are attracting more audience attention. The percentage of bloggers reporting “strong results” goes up steadily with the average word count of their posts:

Average Length of Long-Form Content

While short blog posts still can serve a marketing purpose — attracting subscribers, promoting thought leadership — the most successful will re-evaluate short-form content as the basic unit of content marketing. Ungated long-form content is vital to meeting audience expectations.

#2 – Consistency & Quality over Quantity

As marketers shift from short-form to long-form content, it’s going to get harder to maintain a daily (or multiple times daily) publishing cadence. Daily publishing has been the table stakes for blog content for years, but there’s untapped value in slowing the cadence. You know the drill: The amount of content keeps increasing, while people’s time to invest in content stays the same. If you’re challenged to keep up your daily cadence, odds are your audience is, too.

Our clients at LinkedIn Sales and Marketing Solutions EMEA dropped to 2-3 long-form posts a week last year, and have seen their readership continue to rise. The shift inspired our blogging team to try the same experiment on the TopRank Marketing Blog in 2018. More value, less content, delivered consistently — it’s a paradigm shift from “post daily, however much you can, even if it’s 300 words.”

#3 – Influencer Marketing Ecosystems

At the least sophisticated level, influencer marketing is essentially celebrity endorsement. You pay the influencer, they promote your brand, and the relationship ends as soon as the check clears. 2017 may be remembered as the year the influencer bubble burst, as the payouts grew astronomically and high-profile influencers proved problematic.

We published Influence 2.0 in January of last year to help marketers reach the next stage of influencer marketing maturity. Sustainable influencer marketing is relationship-based, co-creation based, and provides mutual value for influencers, marketers, and audiences.

The ultimate goal is to move beyond one-off collaboration with individual influencers. It’s about creating and nurturing a community of influencers, all of whom are aware of each other’s work with the brand. This influencer ecosystem takes relationship-building to the next level, and can result in a steady stream of great content.

Check out our top influencer marketing posts of 2017, as well as more insights from Lee Odden on what’s coming in 2018.

#4 – A New Focus on ROI & Attribution

As the functions of sales and marketing increasingly overlap, marketers need to get serious about proving ROI. We’re in the revenue business just as much as our partners on the sales side, and everything we do should have measurement built in. Yes, even top-of-funnel content meant to generate awareness. Do you know the value of a visitor to your website, a subscriber to your blog, or a filled-out landing page form?

If you don’t have clear answers to the above questions, you’re not alone. According to CMI and MarketingProfs’ annual content marketing benchmarks, only 35% of marketers can accurately measure ROI. Even in the top performers, only 55% are measuring ROI consistently.

In 2018, content marketers who can properly attribute ROI and prove the value of their efforts will be more successful. So it’s time to nail down the value of your content marketing, measure it, optimize it, and give dollars-and-cents reports to the C-suite.

#5 – Strange New Formats

I used to hate the phrase “consuming content.” Okay, so I sort of still do. But my loathing for that phrase may be short-sighted. It seems simpler to say, “reading content,” but that’s still thinking in terms of print, blog posts, eBooks and infographics. Our definition of what constitutes content has already moved beyond these forms, and is going to change radically in the coming years.

Video content production soared in 2017, as marketers figured out how to cheaply produce video and we began dipping a toe into livestreaming as well. In 2018, we can expect to see more video and more strategic use of live video. Audio content is on the rise, too: Podcasts are still surging in popularity and showing no signs of slowdown. And interactive content is getting easier, too — it’s simpler to make increasingly cooler end products.

But the definition of content is about to get even wider. Chatbots will need compelling writing to bring them to life. Amazon Echo and Google Home are new platforms for completely novel types of content, such as the American Heart Association’s CPR instructions and Neil Patel’s Marketing School. Augmented reality is coming to the masses, offering new ways to tell stories and engage an audience.

The Next Evolution

Content marketing is long overdue for a radical redesign, and all signs indicate the next evolution is already in progress. What content is, what forms it can take, how we amplify and measure it — these fundamental aspects of the discipline are all up for debate. It’s up to all of us to stay flexible, stay up-to-date, and most importantly, keep listening for what our audience says they need.

What do other marketers have to say about content marketing in 2018? Read Content Conversations: Content Marketing Predictions for 2018 featuring insights from Ann Handley, Joe Pulizzi, Chris Brogan, Alexandra Rynne, Tim Washer, Dayna Rothman, and Chris Moody.


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You Will Thank Us – 4 Tips About Split Testing You Need To Know

Top 4 Ways to Split Test Emails

A couple of years ago, one of my friends had just started an online store that sells baby clothes for new parents. She experimented with a number of different marketing strategies, including email marketing. After a couple of months, her email marketing campaigns didn’t generate a single sale.

She was convinced that email simply didn’t work, but I urged her to keep trying. I showed her data that proves that email offers a 3,800 percent ROI. The trick is to keep split testing until you discover what works for the folks on your list.

Today, she generates five figures a month from her online store. The majority of those sales come from email.

Email marketing is hands-down the best medium to promote your online business. However, successful email strategies aren’t born overnight. You have to keep testing until you find something that clicks.

Ways to Split Test Emails

Here are some ways to use split-testing to find what works for your small business.

Subject Lines

Your subject line is the linchpin of any email marketing experiment. It is the first experience your subscriber will have with your funnel. If your subject line doesn’t do its job, your subscribers will never click to read the rest of your message. It also sets the tone for the rest of your campaign, so it has a very strong impact on your conversion rates.

You should try testing many different subject lines. However, you don’t want to randomly choose them. You want to start with a hypothesis. Marketing Sherpa cited a case study on the difference between straightforward and creative subject lines. They found that the straightforward ones had a 541 percent higher response rate. Of course, that doesn’t mean your own subscribers will prefer a clear-cut message. You have to test to see what works better.

Landing Pages

Landing pages will play an incredibly important role in the performance of your email marketing campaigns. Testing different landing pages can help you significantly improve your conversion rates. It can also be overwhelming, since there are so many different types of landing pages that you can test. Here are some ideas worth split testing:

  • Long-form versus short-form copy
  • Level of visuals
  • Use of videos
  • Multistage funnels versus direct sales

While creating new landing pages, make sure that they align with the angle of your emails. If you are creating multiple sales funnels, you need to split test a couple different landing pages for each. There are a variety of landing page builders that you can use to create your own.

Conversion Angles

The most difficult part of marketing is trying to figure out all the different reasons somebody may be motivated to buy your product. You may identify an obvious angle that you think drives every purchase. However, there may be much more compelling angles to test.

Let’s say that you are selling a weight loss product. There may be a number of pain points that you can target, such as:

  • Helping your customers feel more desirable to the opposite sex
  • Reducing their likelihood of having a heart attack or diabetes
  • Feeling more confident when they leave the house

Test everything that you think is relevant. You never know what is going to work better.

Engagement Approaches

There are different ways that you can engage with your users. One way is to spell your message out for them in clear terms. Another is to elicit their attention with questions.

Either approach can work very well, but some demographics have a preference. You should try testing email funnels that depend on asking questions and others that focus on making clear statements. You may be surprised by the difference in the performance.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “You Will Thank Us – 4 Tips About Split Testing You Need To Know” was first published on Small Business Trends

Why Internet Marketing Works

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Did You Give Up?? 😐😐

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJPTX8rAVps&w=640&h=360]