What Is Content

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Content in digital marketing is any information that is seen, heard, or a combination of the two.

Some examples of content that are seen are articles, infographics, and emails. For content that is heard, these are your podcasts and music. Finally, videos fall under content that is both seen and heard.

Content is king in today’s digital world. Without it, it’s almost impossible to stand out, be noticed, and succeed. If you want to win in digital marketing, start creating content.

3 Categories of Content

1) Seen

Content that is seen can be further broken down into two subcategories:

  1. Written
  2. Visual

Written content is the most common. These are your articles, e-books, and white papers.

Visual content is the ones you don’t normally read or if they have text, there’s not much on it. Some popular examples are simple photos, memes, gifs, and infographics.

2) Heard

Content that is heard is quickly becoming popular nowadays. These would be your music, podcasts, and the “assistants” (like Siri, Alexa, and Google). A traditional form of content that falls under this category is radio.

It’s quickly becoming popular because it allows you to do something else while listening to it.

3) Combination

Lastly, the content that uses both visual and auditory elements are your videos. These can be a simple explainer video to elaborate online courses.

Most marketers claim that video is the type of content that has the highest ROI. Approximately one-third of online activity is spent watching videos.

That’s also the reason why I jumped on this bandwagon and started creating video content.

So, What Are You Going to Do Now

Among all these different types of content, how many are you using in your marketing?

Like I said over and over, if you are not found online, you do not exist. Without content, it is impossible to stand out and get noticed.

Start creating content today!

What Is a Call-to-Action in Digital Marketing

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A call-to-action (CTA) in digital marketing is a piece of content designed to prompt an immediate response to the viewer, reader, or listener. Usually, CTAs are a string of words that influence people to do something.

The action you want people to take could be anything: download an ebook, sign up for a webinar, get a coupon, attend an event, etc.

A CTA can be placed anywhere in your marketing — on your website, in an ebook, in an email, or even at the end of a blog post.

The most common call-to-action known to marketers is “click me.” It’s also one of the most ineffective ones because it doesn’t give the reader any context nor reason to perform the action, i.e. do the click.

In this post, I’ll be sharing some tips for writing effective calls-to-action.

8 Tips for Writing Effective Call-to-Action

1. Start with a strong action verb

Use a strong action verb that resonates with the viewer. This makes it easy to understand what you want them to do.

Look at the examples I listed above. They start with action verbs that clearly tells the viewer what to do.

2. Use words that provoke emotion or enthusiasm

Using emotions is something marketers often use, and rightfully so. Emotions are what gets us to decide and move forward.

For example, the simple use of an exclamation point (!) depicts enthusiasm.

3. Include a reason why they should click

This should be obvious to you but it’s worth mentioning it.

Your CTA must have a reason for people to click on it. Like I said above, click me definitely misses the mark.

Another CTA used a lot especially in forms is submit. Again, there’s no reason for them to do so.

A good CTA following this tip could be join our mailing list and receive a coupon for 20% off your next purchase.

Think of benefits for the viewers. What they’ll get if they do the action you want.

4. Take advantage of FOMO

Fear of missing out is part of our culture now thanks to the internet. Use this to your advantage.

Time-sensitive and community-type CTAs follow this tip. Buy now! 3 stocks left! is a great CTA example for an e-commerce store. Another example I see that is often used is the promos with timers on them.

HubSpot uses the same tip to entice marketers to join their mailing list: Join our community of over 300,000 marketers and business owners.

5. Match your message with your promise

What this simply means is your call-to-action should match what the viewer will expect when they click on it. For example, a CTA with a “download this e-book” should lead directly to a landing page with the same message. Otherwise, you’re only adding confusion.

Most people use their website’s homepage as the link for their CTAs.

6. Use devices to your advantage

Depending on the platform you’re using, you can customize the CTAs you display depending on the device they are using.

For example, a click to call message would make no sense on a desktop but would be perfect for a mobile display.

7. Be creative

You can use simple text links, or images, or flowery wordings. Regardless of what you choose, you should always A/B test which one works the best. Here’s how you can do this in Google Optimize.

For example, I can ask you to download a case study on how a B2B company increased its traffic by 618% and leads by 490%. That is an example of a text link.

Or, I can simply use this image below and they both will link back to the same landing page.

Download this free case study on how a B2B organization increased their visits by 619% and leads by 490%

8. Use numbers when possible

People love numbers. Numbers mean specificity. Specificity means concrete results.

Not every marketer can promise concrete results because of two things: (1) they don’t really have a good product/service, or (2) they haven’t tried using their own product/service.

They simply use what the product managers say or what the spec sheets tell.

So, use the products/services first. If it helps you accomplish what it says it will, then that’s great. Use that!

So, What Are You Going to Do Now

Now you know how to write effective calls-to-action. It’s time to reput them to good use.

Go back through all your blog posts (and website pages) and remove all “click me” CTAs that don’t provide any value. Apply the tips listed here.

As an added bonus, you can also use these tips in your ads.

Take note that even if you follow all these tips, but don’t have a dedicated marketing offer, then your work will be futile. Newsletter subscriptions aren’t enough. You need to start creating content that is valuable to your audience.

What Is an Email Marketing Software

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An email marketing software is a tool that marketers use for email marketing. The software is used for a variety of reasons. These include both technical and business reasons.

For example, some business-related reasons are growing a list of email subscribers, promoting your products/services to these subscribers, and providing valuable and helpful content. On the other hand, some technical-related reasons are designing and building customized email templates, segmenting the list, and tracking. 

The purpose of using email marketing software goes beyond simply sending emails. It should allow you to develop relationships with your prospects and customers while achieving your business goals.

Below are some key features your email marketing software should be able to do.

5 Key Features of Email Marketing Software for 2021

Apart from the ability to create, format, and send an email, these five key features are the minimum features your email marketing software should have. Why?

It’s 2021 already. The market changes so rapidly that if you don’t have these “basic” features, you’re being short-changed. You’re already losing. It’s like using floppy disks when everyone else is using 2T hard drives.

Feature #1: Segmentation

This feature has got to be at the top of the must-have’s. The ability to segment lists is the one feature that can make or break your email marketing.

I won’t get into the details here. You can read it in my other post.

A short summary is this: segmenting your list gives you the ability to sent relevant content. It also guarantees you don’t send irrelevant content.

Simple explanation of how lead management works

I’ve used this example a lot. It’s so simple yet very few organizations do this.

If you’re a pet store, you can easily group your prospects and customer list into 3 broad segments — dog owners, cat owners, others.

If you have those segments, when you send dog-related content, you only send to dog owners. After all, if they are cat owners, why would they care about dogs, right? If you send to everyone in your list — which is one of the ineffective email marketing tactics today — you’re simply sending irrelevant content.

Feature #2: Track and Analyze Performance

Digital marketing allows you to track almost everything. Tracking and analyzing performance is crucial if you want to stop wasting resources.
Your chosen email marketing software should allow you to track and analyze the performance of your email marketing activities — at least. Some advanced softwares allow you to connect your eCommerce store — where you can see how much revenues your campaigns and specific emails brought you.

Some basic metrics are the open rates and click-through rates of your emails.

A high-level overview of the two metrics and how you use them is this:

Open rate

Open rate is the % of people who opened your email. It is calculated as number of opens divided by total emails delivered.

The higher your open rate is, the more people viewed the content of your email.

PS: This is one of the vanity metrics you should stop obsessing on though. I’ll discuss more about this in another artilcle.

Click-through rate

Click-through rate (CTR) is the % of people who clicked on a link in your email. It is calculated by the number of clicks divided by the total opens.

The higher your CTR is, the more people are taking action on your email.

Feature 3: A/B Test

The ability to A/B test is a very important feature. It allows you to move from “I think” to “I know.” In other words, stop guessing.

When you use A/B tests, you determine which “variable” is better. There are, of course, a lot of applications for this in other aspects of digital marketing.

But in email marketing, the most popular A/B test is the Subject Line test. That’s where you test two (or more) subject lines.

Normally, the process for A/B testing goes like this:

  1. Determine variable to test
  2. Determine a metric to use
  3. Determine percentage of audience to test
  4. Determine time period to determine winner
  5. Execute

So if you’re doing the A/B test on a subject line, the thought-process goes like this:

  1. I want to test the subject line. I’m going with just 2 combinations.
  2. Since the content of my email is an announcement, I want more people to view it. So, the metric I’ll use is the open rate.
  3. I want to test the subject lines to 50% of my list.
  4. I’ll choose 4 hours
  5. Send

What will happen here is that once you hit send, 50% of the 50% will receive the subject line 1 and the other 50% will receive the subject line 2.

After 4 hours, the email marketing software will see which subject line has a higher open rate. Then, it sends that subject line to the remaining 50%.

Feature 4: CRM Integration

Your email marketing software should integrate smoothly with your CRM software.

This is especially true for B2B and for those who focus sell high-ticket items where it’s necessary to develop a real relationship with your customers (real estate, furniture, etc.).

For most organizations, the email marketing software acts as the master database. A CRM integration gives your salespeople the ability to see the bigger picture.

For example, if you’re using HubSpot, you’ll be able to see that contact’s interaction/engagement history. This can give you a better understanding of the concerns of that lead.

Here’s a specific example on one of the leads on my site. The person found me via LinkedIn. Then the lead subscribed to my newsletter on this specific page on my site.

Sample HubSpot Email Marketing Software - CRM Timeline
HubSpot Email Marketing Software / CRM Timeline

So, if you were the salesperson, you’d already have a starting point for your conversation. This will help you build rapport easily.

Feature 5: Automation

The last feature your email marketing software should have is the ability to make life easier for you. Email marketing automation is the process of automating activities you’d normally do yourself.

For example, sending a welcome email series to your new subscribers (like this one below).

MNLGrowkits First Purchase Welcome Series
MNLGrowkits First Purchase Welcome Series | MailChimp – Email Marketing Software

Or using auto-responders for action-based activities. For example, if you downloaded this case study, you’d get an email like this:

Sample autoresponder email on ariel-lim.com

There are a lot of uses of automation. It really depends on how your organization is set up and what your goals are.

These are the 5 key features your email marketing software should have. If your current system don’t have these, it’s high time to start looking for a new software.

But if your organization is still not using email marketing and are looking for a software, you can start with these features. Afterall, email marketing gives you the highest ROI across any channel — including social media.

What Is Lead Management

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Lead management is a set of practices designed to generate revenues by tracking leads, segmenting, and qualifying them from acquisition until they become a customer.

It is one of the 3 pillars of email marketing.

Another way to describe lead management is that it is a system that enables you to segment the leads as they come in your database based on several factors that you deem relevant; then later on, be able to nurture them until they either become your customer or simply fall of the marketing and sales funnel.

What Does Lead Management Look Like

Let’s say you are a pet store that recently started an eCommerce website. You sell pet food and accessories.

As with most pet stores in the Philippines, majority of your customers are made up of dog owners and cat owners.

Simple explanation of how lead management works

With proper lead management, you will be able to segment people who are dog owners from the cat owners.

This segmentation allows you to send emails to dog owners without sending that same email to cat owners.

[bctt tweet=”Data shows that 56% of email users unsubscribe because the content is no longer relevant. http://snip.ly/higla” via=”no”]

That way, the owners will not receive emails that are irrelevant to them — i.e. Cat owners receiving an email about dogs, and vice-versa.

4 Components of an Effective Lead Management Strategy

Implementing an effective lead management strategy is not easy. It requires collaboration among different departments / groups of people depending on how big your organization is.

1. Alignment Among Departments

The first step in implementing lead management is to have all departments / people who engage with prospects and customers to agree on what information to track.

This alignment allows everyone to be on the same page. It also makes it possible to ensure no overlap happens among the functions.

This usually starts with the alignment of marketing and sales. This determines who is in-charge of who and at what stage in the funnel they are in.

If a person subscribes to the blog, who’s in-charge? Is it marketing? Or is it sales?

What specific information and/or action does the lead need to take before marketing passes the lead to sales? What about when does sales pass it on to customer success?

Example of a Defined Marketing and Sales Funnel

A simple funnel looks like this: visitor –> lead –> opportunity –> customer.

  • A visitor is someone who visits your website.
  • That person becomes a lead once you have their email address
  • They become an opportunity when they either requested for a price catalog or when they checked out.
  • They become a customer once they pay.

Marketing has responsibility for visitors and leads, while sales have responsibility for opportunities and customers.

2. Identify Key Segments

Next, everyone needs to determine the key segments in the database. Put it in another way, the organization needs to agree on how to slice-and-dice the people in the database.

This is a prerequisite to implementing an effective lead nurturing program.

Continuing from the pet store example, here is a list of the basic segments you should be using:

  1. Leads vs Customers (lifecycle or funnel)
  2. Type of owner (first-time, certified pet parent)
  3. Pet owned (dog, cat, others)
  4. City / area

You’ll see this in action in the example at the bottom of the post.

These are the different segments that are relevant to your organization. This differs from one company to another.

You have to define this based on what you think is important to your organization. The most simple way you can do this is following the example in the next section.

Why is this important? 

Data shows that 56% of email users unsubscribe because the content is no longer relevant. Think about that for a moment.

These people unsubscribed from companies not because the email subject nor the copy was bad. In fact, it may be awesome. Rather, they unsubscribed because the content is no longer relevant to them.

If you’re a cat owner and continuously receive emails about dogs, how would you feel?

3. Create Content for Each Segment

At this point, your marketing and sales funnel stages are aligned and you have already identified the key segments. The next step is to plan and create content for each segment to move them further down the funnel. This process is also called content mapping.

Take note that you should only move them down the funnel one step at a time. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a very pushy message.

Example of Content Mapping

For example, you map out your funnel like this:

  1. Subscribed to blog
  2. Downloaded a PDF
  3. Requested a price catalog
  4. Purchased an item
  5. Refer a friend

In this example, blog subscriber should not be sent emails about promos and discounts because the next step in the funnel is to have them engage deeper with the organization. This is identified as downloading one of the marketing offers.

Combining #2 with this one, you can create these PDFs as marketing offers:

  • Tips for First-Time Dog Owners
  • Tips for First-Time Cat Owners
  • Tips for First-Time Pet Owners

So, all your emails to blog subscribers should move them down the funnel. That is achieved by (1) continuously sending them blog updates to honor their first action, (2) send occasional messages asking them to download an offer relevant to them.

Of course, there are times when you can bypass this flow. There are only 3 scenarios here: two of which are effective while one isn’t.

  1. If a blog subscriber takes a specific that puts them in the lower stage of the funnel (i.e. requested a price catalog or bought directly)
  2. Ask them (and agree) to be evangelists/promoters
  3. Ignore the segments and send emails that aren’t the next logical step
An Important Reminder

It is perfectly fine for that person to stay on that stage in the funnel for a long period.

That just means you are continuously providing value to that person but isn’t ready to buy yet.

In addition, the funnel stages are not necessarily linear.

For example, I’ve been a subscriber to HubSpot’s blog since 2012. I became a customer after 2 years. But, because they didn’t push their product in my face and continued providing me value, I eventually used their software once the circumstances were right.

In that two years, they’ve probably sent me 5 emails or less about their product. But I’ve received over 300 emails that I’ve read. I’ve been very vocal about HubSpot (making me an evangelist), but then I became a customer.

4. Use Automation to Move Them Down the Funnel

Email automation is where you use a software to automate the sending of emails (or messages if your software allows it) when certain conditions happen.

This is the bridge between the segments in #2 and the content in #3. The principle behind this is to deliver the right message at the right time.

For example, a person downloads a PDF about Tips for First-time Dog Owners. Two things happen here:

  1. You know they are dog owners
  2. You know they are first-time owners

So, the next logical step here is not to sell to them. Rather, it’s to send them educational content that will help them reach the next stage.

Once they downloaded the PDF, they get sent an email series that teaches them about being a first-time dog owner. This could be a 5-part email that is spread 1 week apart.

This bears repeating — this email series is designed to educate them. So, don’t mention your products or services. You could write about the nutrition and how to determine the right amount of food to give, or how to train, etc.

Bringing It All Together: Lead Management Example

Lead management is easier to demonstrate everything using specific examples. Take a look at this table:

StageActionCat OwnerDog Owner
LeadSubscribed to blog– Continue sending emails from the blog about
– Send an email asking them to download the PDF of Tips for First-time cat owners
– Send an email about a what to do when your cat does this
– Continue sending emails from the blog about
– Send an email asking them to download the PDF of Tips for First-time dog owners
– Send them an email about a 8-week puppy training program
Qualified LeadDownloaded an Offer (PDF)Enroll in an email series.

For example, everyone who downloaded a PDF gets enrolled in an email series like this:
Email 1: Do’s and Don’ts of Cat Parenting
– Email 2: How to Train Your Cat
– Email 3: Cat Litter Training
– Email 4: 24/7 Vet Clinics in ____ City
(what content do you think should go here?)
OpportunityRequested a price catalog– Send them occasional emails about new products / promos
– Ask them to visit your shop
(what content do you think should go here?)
CustomerBought an item– Send timed emailsBought 1kg cat food; if they own 1 cat, send them a reminder to stock up after 4 weeks.
– Ask for reviews
– Ask if they want to sample a treat/toy/accessory you’re promoting
(what content do you think should go here?)

Automation is all about delivering the content you made to the individual segments at scale. This allows you to continue “selling without being pushy.” You’re nurturing the relationship and building trust. You’re demonstrating that you care about them, not just their money.

Lead management is how the leads that come in your database are tracked, segmented, and nurtured. It starts the moment they enter your email database. It is a continuous process that never ends.

What Is a Lead in Digital Marketing

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A lead in digital marketing is a person whose contact information is known to your organization.

In most cases, that contact information is an email address.

But, with the rise of messenger apps, mobile numbers are becoming another must-have contact info.

A graph of where marketers plan to distribute their content in 2018

3 Criteria That Defines a Lead

In digital marketing, even if you have a person’s email address or mobile number, it does not necessarily mean that person become your organization’s lead.

It has to meet these 3 criteria:

1) Available

Availability means that the information is available to other people in the organization. If you’re the sole owner, then this criterion is already satisfied.

But, if you’re part of a department and you’re the only person who has access to that contact, then the organization cannot claim that as a lead.

If other people don’t access the information but they can, that’s a different story.

In most cases, the information is stored in some sort of software (e.g. A spreadsheet or a CRM). This way, other people can access it anytime.

The main takeaway here is this: a lead does not and should not depend on you as a person.

Meaning, if you resign tomorrow, that lead’s information should all be accessible by anyone in the organization.

2) Valid

The validity of the information is important because if the email address or mobile number you have is incorrect, then you technically don’t have a lead.

The most common violation of this criteria are typographical errors.

Either the person entered their info incorrectly when filling out a form; or by you or someone in your organization when you were transferring the info from a signup sheet you got from an event.

Whatever the cause, if the email or mobile is not valid, that does not qualify to be a lead of your organization.

3) Reachable

Reachability refers to the ability of your organization to get in touch with the person.

Even if the person’s contact information is valid, but that person doesn’t give you permission to contact them and/or decided not to receive any further communications from you, then he/she is not a lead.

For example, the person unsubscribed from your mailing list. Or, the person blocks your number.

This person is no longer a lead. You should deduct these people from the total number of leads for that same period.

Not All Leads Are Created Equal

Every lead that comes into your database is different.

What that means is a person who downloads a PDF and the person who requested a quotation have different needs.

So, you should not send the same message to both persons.

If you want your email marketing to be successful, this is one of the principles you need to understand.

What Is the Difference Between Sales and Marketing

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Businesses have different definitions for sales and marketing. Read one book, go to a certain school, or listen to a guru — you will get different answers each time. Regardless of where you look, by looking at sales’ and marketing’s primary output helps in simplifying the two business functions.

Primary Difference Between Sales and Marketing

I like to keep things simple.

My definition for marketing is the set of activities that create opportunities for the business to sell whatever they are offering (whether that is products or services). Sales, on the other hand, is the set of activities that turns the opportunities into customers.

In other words, marketing generates leads. Sales turn the leads into customers.

Marketing and sales will have different definitions. What will remain, though, are the activities every business needs: generating leads and closing them.

Lead Generation

Using the Inbound Methodology approach, lead generation is the part where you convert the visitors on your website (or any online properties for that matter) into leads. In this case, lead generation is marketing’s primary output.

If you are a follower of Predictable Revenue, you might have noticed the three (3) types of leads that Aaron Ross is walking about. In this case, lead generation is both the output of marketing (nets) and sales (spears).

Going back to my point earlier, it does not matter really about what definitions you use. What matters, and remains as one of the biggest activities every business has to do is to generate leads.

Closing Leads

Closing leads is another important activity every business needs to do. Without it, you will not have any customers. Without customers, you will not have any revenues.

From the Inbound Methodology approach, leads stays with marketing until they go through the proper lifecycle stages — more specifically, leads are not given to the sales team until they become sales qualified. Until that happens, the lead stays with marketing.

Predictable Revenue follows a similar approach. The lead stays with the prospecting team until the leads are qualified. Once they are a fit, they are passed on to the closers (aka account executives, or the group that is in-charge of closing). If they are not, they are removed from the pipeline. Ideally, they are enrolled into a marketing campaign that you continually send them information until they become sales ready (lead nurturing).

Both the Inbound Methodology and Predictable Revenue have different processes and definitions. One can argue that they are both different because of the context they are used (true). What is similar though is the need for both lead generation and closing leads. These are necessary business activities. Develop these specific skills and you will be a very valuable asset to any company.