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Archive for May, 2012

Content For Social Media

Wednesday, May 30th, 2012

Once you have content for your email you’re at a jumping off point for your social media content.  Many consultants, trainers, and professional coaches will copy their email content to their social media pages.  That is a good strategy to save time and ensure that content is available to all your channels.  However it’s not the most effective strategy.  The best social media campaigns will break out their email content into a series of social media posts.

Really good social media provides information in bite-size chunks.  Social media audiences typically have an extremely limited attention span so the message needs to be short and to the point to get further attention.  While emails should always have a single focus, it’s common for them to have secondary offers, promotions, or content.  Rather than posting all those things to social media at once by duplicating an email, highly effective social media campaigns will break it out.

Here’s an example.  Suppose an email is sent featuring a business tactic article.  The article itself is the focus of the email but the side bar has a link to an upcoming event as well as a recently released whitepaper.

Rather than posting a link to the email, each element can be a social media post.  So the first posting would be the title of the article and a link to the full article on the website.  The following day a post about the event can be placed on social media pages.  The day after that, a note about the whitepaper can be supplied with a link to a page to download it. In this way very specific offers are being made to social media audiences that they can digest at a glance.

The beauty of social media is that send schedules are almost infinite.  Since people can choose what to look at and when, there’s not the same fear of audience exhaustion that email marketing has to take into account.

Breaking out an email adds quantity to your social media pages without sacrificing quality.  Social media marketing hinges on staying in front of your audience with timely content.  Breaking email messages into small chunks is a good way to make frequent updates and be sure your marketing communications are available across all your channels.

Content for Email Marketing

Tuesday, May 15th, 2012

Many consultants, trainers, and professional coaches seem to be stumped on where to get quality content for their online marketing campaigns. In reality, the content isn’t the real problem. Given the nature of training and consulting literally everything being offered is valuable content. The real problem is organizing the material to make a cohesive online campaign. Training and consulting businesses have a wealth of valuable data to leverage for online marketing but it needs to be efficiently managed to make an effective online marketing campaign.

The first step in gathering content is to choose an area of focus. Is there a particular problem, tactic, or product/service that the campaign will focus on? Is the series of email designed for a particular segment of your audience? Identify the goal of a campaign and then group all the similar content together.

The second step is to take the similar content and organize that into a logical series. If the email will include narratives, maybe it’s chronological. If it deals with multiple products/services, maybe individual communications can be grouped for each service offering. If it’s a tactic, it could start out with small easy tips and proceed to ones that build on the initial ideas. The point is that a series of emails guide your audience step by step and reinforce your primary message.

Remember each topic in the series should be it’s own email communication.  Email marketing messages need to be laser focused and to the point.  Don’t muddy the communication by splitting the focus.  There should be only one primary offer or article.  Some small side bar offers or links can be OK but the main message should never be in question.

When content is ordered well it can steadily build credibility, reinforce reasons to take action on an offer, or both. Trainers, consultants, and coaches have content available. The challenge is putting in the effort to repurpose that content for an online campaign by organizing it into usable categories.

Email Marketing Service Or In-House?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Every so often I encounter a trainer, consultant, or professional coach that is not comfortable using an email marketing service platform like Constant Contact, Exact Target, Swiftpage, iContact. Vertical Response etc.  The most common reasons for this aversion is that the client doesn’t feel the price is warranted as they can do the same thing in-house with their database or they are uncomfortable with the security of their data on the email service servers.  While doing an email marketing campaign in-house is possible, there are requirements that can be burdensome to the unprepared.

The first requirement is meeting CAN-SPAM regulation.  Specifically the email needs to be clear who it’s coming from, include a physical address, and have an obvious way to unsubscribe.  These are not optional.  If you are building an in-house email marketing platform these things must be included or your emails will violate the CAN-SPAM law.

The second requirement is the email platform setup.  This is typically done through a database program.  Make sure that the email address that will send the email marketing communications is a valid account.  Few things are as alarming as replying to an email marketing message and getting a bounced reply.  The account should also be checked.  Even if your email states “do not respond to this email” someone on your list will and it’s a good idea to be responsive.

The final requirement is the one that is most overlooked.  A few years ago I met with a company that had been doing an in-house email marketing campaign.  I had a lot of trouble sending and receiving emails from them from a popular email service I was using.  Upon investigation it was a problem throughout their company because some ISPs had them blocked under a SPAM listing.  Their marketing emails weren’t SPAM, it was just an organic accumulation of complaints over the years that started getting their domain blocked.

Your in-house email campaign will be coming from your internal servers rather than an email service provider.  That means spam complaints count against your web domain.  If your in-house campaign gets bad feedback your domain can get blacklisted by ISPs.  In my eyes the single biggest benefit to a reputable email marketing service is that they have teams of people that do nothing except keep a good relationship with ISPs. An in-house email marketing campaign needs a strategy to contact large ISPs to ensure messages are not being blocked.  This can be a time consuming activity and one that many trainers, consultants, and professional coaches simply don’t have the resources to take on.

Carefully weigh whether you want to use an email marketing service provider.  If you decide there is something about the service that is unacceptable and go the in-house route, be prepared to do the extra leg work that email marketing services do for you.