Best Email Marketing Tools for Small Business

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Editor's note: Stacey Marone is a social media marketer who has joined us today to explore the best tools for managing an email marketing campaign.

 

Social media is often portrayed as the ultimate marketing tool for small businesses. But before there were social networks, people relied on email to stay connected. In fact, everyone on a social network has an email address, but not everyone with an email address is on a social network. It stands to reason that you can reach a lot more people with email marketing than with social media marketing alone.

Even with a strong social media strategy, email marketing opens your business to many leads and opportunities you might otherwise miss. Furthermore, the two strategies can be combined to create more powerful campaigns.

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is a kind of targeted marketing.

If you’re like most people, you sometimes open your mailbox to find brochures and invitations from different companies offering product information, samples, free seminars and other promotional material.

Email marketing is something like that, except in digital form. In both cases, you need contact information to promote your business. When it comes to email marketing, this information takes the form of an email list compiled from your existing customers, or email addresses you got from site registrations.

There are many ways to obtain a list of email addresses. But once that’s taken care of, you have a new challenge on your hands: turning them into customers. In order to make the best use of your leads, it's essential to have a versatile email platform that will help you to send the right information where it counts.

To help you find what’s right for you, we’ve compiled a list of the best email marketing tools for your business. Let’s get started!

Mail Chimp

mailchimp

In spite of its humorous style, MailChimp is a very serious email marketing tool, and one of the most popular and user-friendly ones around. It is especially useful if you are just starting out on your email marketing journey.

MailChimp will do much of the work for you, including product follow-ups and stock availability updates. It will track what your customers are buying so you can target them with related product offerings. You can also integrate MailChimp with your Twitter and Facebook account, allowing you to bring social media and email marketing together.

If you have an e-commerce store, MailChimp has a lot of great options for you; it will connect directly to services like WooCommerce, Shopify, Magento, or BigCommerce. This integration allows you to create email campaigns directly from your store.

Beginners will appreciate the intuitive drag-and-drop interface in MailChimp’s email builder, and the dashboard is also very simple to navigate. To track success, you can easily generate reports of your campaigns to learn how many people opened their emails, which links got the most clicks, and what customer segments respond best to different offers.

MailChimp is also very fairly priced, with a free plan to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers a month. This is usually a great place for small businesses to start. Once you gather steam paid plans start at $10 a month.

Litmus

litmus

Next up on our list is Litmus, a versatile platform that takes analytics to the next level. Litmus specializes in testing and tracking emails with advanced features to help you fine tune your email marketing strategy. It’s a step up from MailChimp, but still quite easy to use, and makes a great supplement to email campaigns that you might be running on another service.

Litmus not only tests email optimization for PCs and laptops, but also mobile devices. Since the market is increasingly going mobile, this is an important strategy for success. If you test your emails before sending them out, you will see exactly how they look to your recipients. By refining the look and load time of the emails you send, automatically removing broken links and streamlining design elements, Litmus will ensure you get the most bang for your buck.

Litmus will also track your emails so you get important information such as what devices were used to open emails, when they were opened, and how much time recipients spent on them.

As a testing and tracking tool, Litmus takes the cake. Beginning with a 7 day free trial, using Litmus permanently will cost you a cool $79.00 per month. Given how much it can improve your results, the investment can be well worth it for those with a medium to large email marketing list.

Reach Mail

reachmail

For those with smaller budgets who would still like to benefit from email analytics and optimization, Reach Mail is a good, affordable option at a mere $10.00 per month.

Like Litmus, Reach Mail offers message testing and tracks email performance. It also has a Spam Checker, which tests your emails to see whether they might be flagged as spam. A nice feature of Reach Mail is that it considers your emails as entire compositions, taking into account both subject lines and content in its analysis. This is important for determining how successful your campaigns will be ahead of time.

Like MailChimp, Reach Mail offers hundreds of attractive templates for creating your emails, so you won't need graphic or layout chops to send a professional-looking email. And if you do want something a little more unique for a special occasion, you can easily request custom design directly through the service.

ActiveTrail

activetrail

Formerly known as TargetHero, ActiveTrail is an email marketing solution which specifically targets the growing population of users who read emails on mobile devices.

Aside from the usual email composition and sending features, ActiveTrail will automatically send targeted emails to people on your list who perform certain actions on your website, such as registering for a newsletter, or entering a particular campaign. These auto responses can be a “Thank You” or verification email which include product offerings and other promotional information relevant to the target user - you do your marketing every step along the way!

AvtiveTrail’s pricing comes in tiers. For $7 a month, you can manage up to 500 subscribers, and it goes all the way up to $55 a month for 10,000. This range of options makes it easy to start small, and expand according to your means. If you’d like to give this tool a spin, there’s also a free trial, so take advantage of that before committing!

There are many other options in the world of email marketing to help you accomplish your goals, but these are great choices for beginners; even simple tools like MailChimp are used by very large corporations to manage their email marketing needs. There’s no better way to learn than by doing, so pick one and give it a try!

Stacey Marone is a freelance writer and a social media marketer. She creates magnetic content optimized for search. In her free time, she also does volunteer work and organizes some activities for children. Her passions involve painting, reading, and writing. You can follow her on twitter.

Learn more with these related OMI classes: 

Using Social Data to Improve Email Marketing

How to Create Mobile Friendly Emails

Successfully Measuring Email Performance

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

How to Boost Your SEO With Internal Backlinks

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Editor's note: Guy Siverson is a web consultant with ViralTNTeam who specializes in SEO. Today he's shared an article with us about using internal backlinks to optimize a website.

 

Backlinks.

Those clickable links that hold the Web together.

They come in two major varieties:

  • Internal (Within your own domain)
  • External (Outside your domain, pointing to you)

Both are very important, and ordinary external backlinks are essential for bringing more sales to your online business. But when you publish a blog post or article, you should also be linking to it somewhere on your website. And, if done correctly, this will increase your SEO rankings, get your readers to explore your content, and ultimately bring in more visitors. In this article, we will be delving into the intricate details of exactly how you should be tapping into the power of internal backlinks.

I guarantee that this is stuff very few other people are doing, which means there is exponential value should you tap into these principles.

Unlocking Internal Link Building Secrets

HOT TIP: You are about to find out my own personal favorite method and exactly how to make it work for you. I guarantee that this is super simple, yet painfully few webmasters are doing it.

Internal backlinks connect one post or page to another. This can be done by linking textual or image content as the connecting source. Creating hyperlinks via words is more common than using images because it flows more naturally within the context of an article.

Increasing Value Within Anchor Text

When creating internal links, webmasters often link directly to key phrases. So for instance, an apple pie recipe might be linked to the phrase ‘apple pie recipe.’ This is known as “exact match anchor text link building” and it is a bad method for several reasons. 

Two other options that are commonly seen include:

  1. Naked URL – Slapping down an entire URL in the body of your text without attaching it to words or images.
  2. Untargeted Anchor Text Internal Link Building – Works the same way as the exact match concept, but without targeted keywords to the page being linked. If you’ve ever made a “click here,” or “see more” link, then you’ve done this before.

Which of these three do I recommend?

None!

Here’s why.

Google wants everything to be natural. These approaches look manipulated and cheap. As a reader, you’re unlikely to click on a small series of targeted words or a completely naked URL. A much better option is an integrated approach that I’m about to explain.

Let’s say you have a sentence in your document that goes something like:

healthy Granny Smith apple pie recipe instructions

Don’t make “apple pie” into a hyperlink, and don’t put the link somewhere else (“Click here to see it”). Instead, why not link the entire phrase?

This way you:

  1. Are using the exact match words without specifically targeting a single phrase.
  2. Decrease the possibility that a duplicate link will ever appear on your website (Google does not like duplicate links)
  3. Increase link diversity within the project you are building.
  4. Increase the relevance of the linked content to your readers, thereby increasing the likelihood that they’ll check it out.
  5. Appeal to Google’s desire that everything in your design process is unique and organic.

For many people, this a new thought when it comes to link building. Others intuitively realize the effectiveness of this strategy, and use it without being told.

But there’s another key to unlocking the power of internal links. Let’s continue.

Link Wheels in Motion

If you've been building on the Web for any length of time, you've probably heard of Google’s tremendous dislike for external link wheels. So why bring up the concept at all?

Because the link wheels I’m telling you about aren’t external - they exist entirely on your website.

This method will build the interconnectedness of your site, reduce bounce rates, and keep your visitors around. Let’s get into it!

HOT TIP: I recommend capturing all links on a notepad to make this process easier to implement. I personally create a private file within WordPress which contains a map so that I keep reference notes together. This makes for easy processing and accessibility when I need the document.

Here’s how a link wheel works internally.

  1. Post 1 links to Post 2
  2. Post 2 links to Post 3
  3. Post 3 links to Post 1

Did you see the difference with post 3?

It connected everything together.

I typically build these wheels in sets of 5 based on how many items have been added to a given category. You have a lot of flexibility to create whatever structures make sense to you; the point is that visitors can navigate away from a page, and end up right back where they started.

Here’s another point: in the above examples, I’ve used the word ‘post’. But if you’re running a WordPress site, you can create internal link wheels using pages as well as blog posts. Does this matter at all?

Yes, but before I reveal the reason, let’s have a brief word about posts and pages.

Posts Versus Pages

What’s the difference between blog posts and pages?

Typically speaking, posts form the constantly updated blogroll of a website, while pages are more static. You may update your pages, but in general, they stay in the same place. The advantages of each and how exactly to implement them within your own project is often debated.

The model I follow is to use pages for focal content.

For example, the 3 main services I offer include:

  1. Writing
  2. Coaching
  3. Public Speaking

And these pages are all located in the category of ‘Marketing’.

For the rest of my content, I use posts. The posts come together to form link wheels while the pages are brought in as tiers.

Integrating Tiered Link Building Strategies

So the primary content of a good site is built on pages, which become the top level tiers. I recommend between 3 to 5 such documents. Think about the main services or products of your site, and dedicate a big page to each one.

Once I have links to each of these tiers, I make sure that every other page of my website points to at least one of them. Thus, the power of the internal link wheel structure is fed up to your most critical content.

As your project grows, Google will see this and reward those pages accordingly.

This is what is known as “tiered link wheels” and they are powerful. That’s why they are my own personal favorite way to build links internally.

If you haven’t started already, there’s no time like the present! Follow the advice in this article to raise your SEO, lower your bounce rates, keep visitors on your site, and ultimately bring in more sales.

Learn more with these related OMI classes: 

How to Utilize Social Media for Effective Link Building

SEO For Business Owners

Strategic User Experience Design

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space.

23 Better Ways to Write a Follow Up Email

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Editor's note: Belle Balace is a social media strategist with Visme, and Leslie Ye is a marketing editor with HubSpot. Today, they've shared an infographic with us designed to help marketers send more effective follow up emails.

When contacting business prospects, writing a follow up email is as crucial as reaching out. In follow up emails, you have to be straightforward yet engaging in order to elicit a response without coming across as pushy.

It may take days or weeks before you get replies, even if you’ve already sent a few emails, and this can be discouraging. But when you don't get a response, don't immediately give up! Here’s a little wisdom from Thomas Edison: “When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this - you haven’t.”

You may be doing or saying the same things over and over again and forgetting to try new ideas in your follow up emails. Be persistent, but don’t be that annoying person who constantly says ‘just following up’ like a verbal tic - that's just stating the obvious, and it will turn people off after awhile.

Next time you write a follow up, try being creative and thoughtful. The more personalized and unique your emails, the better your chances of getting a response. Take time to investigate good ideas, seek advice from the email marketing experts you know, and run A/B tests to see what kind of follow up emails work best for you.

If you're looking for inspiration, here are 23 follow-up emails you can try when you've used up all the generic templates:23_better_alternatives_to_the_just_checking_in_email_1

Learn more with these related OMI classes: 

Email Marketing Tactics

Successfully Measuring Email Performance

Click here to sign up!

Top 10 Ways to Boost Your Paid Traffic Conversion Rates

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So you’ve got your Google AdWords or other PPC advertising up and running, but now what? Unfortunately, the work is far from over if you want to achieve optimum results.

In fact, the hard slog begins as soon as your campaign goes live. By this we mean optimization. More specifically, conversion rate optimization (CRO). And when it comes to perfecting your paid traffic, there’s always room for improvement.

What is CRO and why is it so important?

So you might be getting the traffic, but what good is that if you’re not generating any decent leads yet? CRO is about changing things up on your site and applying different tactics to enhance the user experience, and ultimately turn visitors into customers. It’s an effective way to improve your conversion rate without having to increase your overall adspend.

Over to our proven top 10 CRO tips.

1. Match your message

It’s absolutely imperative your ads align with what’s marketed on your website. Be genuine and don’t make overzealous claims about your product or service that could mislead your visitors.

Make sure the landing page you’re sending them to has the content they’re looking for. High bounce rates can account for visitors clicking through from your ad, only to be presented with a landing page that doesn’t deliver the goods.

2. Optimizing your Landing Page?

bounce-rate

The readability and relevance of your landing page is another big factor that can determine whether your visitors stay or jump ship.

What kind of user experience are you creating for your visitors once they click through to your landing page? On a very basic level, landing page optimization can be boiled down to 2 key factors - matching intent and testing different ad sets.

Check out this class to learn more about optimizing your landing page to improve conversion.

3. Tweak your headline

As in other forms of advertising, your headline is the attention grabber. So take the time to refine your hook. Adding numbers to a headline is always a useful trigger, but make sure they are relevant.

4. Review your call to action (CTA)

Just as important as your headline is your CTA. Ensure you are clear and direct about the desired outcome. What is it that you want your visitors to do? The copy and design of your CTA can make a big difference to your conversions. If you have a text link CTA, consider using a button to make it stand out more. Creating a sense of urgency in your copy will also go a long way.

5. Add videos and images

The buzzword for 2016 was video and this still holds true. Including a video on your landing page is more likely to spur interest and engagement from your visitors than text. Among the different types of videos, Introductory, review and explainer videos tend to provide good results.

Don’t overlook image selection either. Choosing the right image can evoke the kind of emotions that will turn visitors into customers. On the flip side, the wrong image might send them off in the opposite direction. Never underestimate the power of an image!

6. The proof is in the social pudding

We all love a recommendation - it’s why word of mouth is so effective, followed closely by social proof. Including proof of your brand likes, shares, customer reviews, testimonials and product ratings will influence purchase decisions, and also build trust.

7. Speed up your site

It’s the little things that count. Site speed can make a huge difference, so you should at least check to ensure your website is running at its best. No one wants to visit a site that takes ages to load - who has time for that? You can lose dozens of prospective customers thanks to a few milliseconds of lag.

8. Show your scarcity

For e-commerce sites in particular, scarcity is a powerful tactic. Including the limited number of stock available for certain products will create a sense of urgency for a visitor, and instigate an immediate purchase response. Why would they want to miss out if there’s only “2 left in stock” or if you’re running a limited time deal?

9. Include contact information

Prominently including a phone number, email address or other means of contact on your homepage adds more credibility to your site. Just knowing they can talk to a real person if they need to makes visitors feel more comfortable and raises trust of your products/services.

10. Test it out & analyse

You won’t know what works best unless you test. Running A/B split tests on important variables like your landing page copy, sign up forms, color palette, images and CTA will help towards improving your conversions.

Heat maps are also a great way to understand what attracts your visitors’ attention, by clearly showing where their eyes are drawn on a page. Based on the data you receive from a heat map, you can add or remove details from your page accordingly.

We don’t suggest you start implementing all of these tactics at once; you may find that one small change will go a long way. This is where it’s handy to have a dedicated Google AdWords expert to advise you on best CRO strategy can be helpful. Whatever you do we hope these tips will help pave the way to higher conversion rates for your campaigns!

A version of this article first appeared on Paidtraffic

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Turn Website Visitors into Customers via Conversation OptimizationCreating and Curating Content People Love, Social PR

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here!

8 Tools for Managing Your Online Presence

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In order to be a digital marketing success, you must understand how to build your online presence. Why does that matter?

Without a good presence, it’s difficult to prepare your prospects for a sales pitch. After putting hours of hard work into building an online business, you want to make a great impression, and convert your leads into customers. But there's no need to go it alone: this list of tools will help increase your online presence, and boost success in your marketing efforts. Let’s get started!

1. Cyfe

Cyfe is an all-in-one dashboard for social media, analytics, marketing, sales, support, infrastructure, and a whole lot more. You can use this app to monitor all of your business data in one convenient location. Features include the ability to monitor individual departments and multiple websites, pre-built widgets, custom data sources, real-time reporting, historical data, data exports and interface customization. Users can set up dashboards from scratch using pre-built and custom widgets. To gain a better sense of how it works, check out this example of a Cyfe-powered web analytics dashboard. This tool will help you not to waste time and energy tracking data, so you can worry about the more important aspects of your business.

2. Brand24

If you want to know what people are saying about your brand, this tool is just what you need. Brand24 will immediately notify you of any online mentions so you can reach out to sales prospects, brand champions and disgruntled customers right away. Learn what people are really saying about your brand and use this information to improve on anything that isn’t working well, so you can improve your bottom line. Brand24 is also a great way to find publicity opportunities, and learn what your competitors are up to.

3. Wisestamp

Wisestamp generates professional email signatures that can help to grow your business. More than 650,000 professionals are using Wisestamp, and there are hundreds of signature templates to choose from. Whatever your field of work, there are enough templates, apps, and designs to find what you need to stand out and represent your business well. This tool can increase your reach across social networks, boost generated leads through the “Schedule A Meeting” app, and draw in more email replies simply by adding a photo: and this is all for free. The PRO version has even more functionality to generate clicks and website visitors

4. ClickMeeting

Webinars are a great way to generate interest for your business, and this tool enables you to create them quickly and easily. Using ClickMeeting, you can customize your webinars, analyze and follow up with attendees, and track the success of every event. These webinars can dramatically increase traffic to your site and boost sales. In conjunction with ClickMeeting, you can use your social media accounts as channels to keep traffic coming to your website, generate leads, and get your business more sales. While you have to pay for indefinite access, there’s also a considerable free trial period without any contracts. You have nothing to lose, and a whole lot to gain, so get started today and get those webinars out there to the world!

5. Brandwatch

Brandwatch is another tool that will give you insight into what your customers are saying about your brand, and what they want from your business. This information is invaluable for building a direct marketing strategy that will speak to your audience and raise conversions. Brandwatch gives you instant access to customer conversations as they occur, so you are always up-to-date on the latest trends. You will also be able to identify threats as they arise, learn how to deal with them, and react smartly to anything that might impact your business. While the service is not cheap (starting at $500), it easily pays for itself depending on the size of your business, and if you aren’t sure, a free demo can help to assess whether it's right for you.

6. Kissmetrics

This tool allows you to segment your audience so you can target visitors by how they got to your site. Using Kissmetrics, you can set triggers to engage with customers based on their actions, and choose the behavior that visitors should display before you bother showing them your campaign. This process helps to identify and target viable prospects while weeding out those who just aren’t interested. Kissmetrics is easy to use, and provides five design templates to jumpstart your optimization. You can visit the site to request a demo and see for yourself how automated segmentation can help your business.

7. OptinMonster

If you want to convert website visitors into email subscribers, you need to start using this tool: OptinMonster allows you to create and A/B test awesome lead capture forms without having to bother with a developer, and the lead generation software will bring big results quickly. Features include the OptinMonster Builder, multiple form types, exit Intent technology, A/B split testing, page level targeting, and built-in analytics just to name a few. This tool works with all major email marketing services, as well as CMS and eCommerce platforms. Everything you need to grow an email list can be found right here, and it will only take you a few minutes to build high converting forms instead of several hours.

8. Mention

Use Mention to monitor your online presence from any location. You will enjoy real-time monitoring of brand mentions from social media and around the web. Track all of the important outlets including social media, blogs, forums, and more, so you can really focus on your brand and learn about your competitors. This tool will help you to attract new customers, build awareness, and improve your overall online reputation while allowing you to engage your audience and react to mentions right away. This tool will help you to handle a crisis when it arises, create reports, study your competition, and a whole lot more. Mention has iPhone and Android apps, and prices start at $29 a month.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Social Media Marketing Best Practices for SMBsEmail Newsletter Foundations: A Roadmap for SuccessCrisis Management with Social Media

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here!

Infographic: Portrait of A Mobile Consumer

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There has never been a better time to optimize your business for mobile consumers. When cell phones were first invented, few people could have anticipated the processing power of the devices we hold in our hands today. With just a few swipes of the finger, we can communicate with our friends in endless ways, capture high-quality photos, shop for products and services, and easily manage every aspect of our personal and professional lives.

The power of this connectivity is changing the world of commerce. Now, product research and buying can be performed wherever consumers are, whether they’re walking in the park, sitting on a train, or taking a lunch break.

This means payment providers and retail giants are changing the way they operate. Brands use social media to reach out to us in a personalized way, and when we do head to brick-and-mortar stores, more and more digital transaction points are available, making it easier and quicker for us to pay at the till.

With the amount of data available online, consumers will be more informed before they choose to buy. And, with e-commerce sales estimated to reach $626 billion by 2018, it’s certainly something all the big players will be investing in.

The portrait of the mobile consumer has certainly changed a lot and is set to evolve further. Online marketers should definitely capitalize by optimizing their platforms for mobile shoppers, and making content easily available to mobile devices.

Check out this great infographic for more information.

voucher_cloud_mobile
This infographic was first published by Maureen Sanford at Vouchercloud

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Building Your Mobile Strategy, Integrating Mobile into Social Media MarketingMobile PR & Content Marketing

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here!

 

10 Ways to Amplify Content Promotion Strategies

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Generating content is the first step in engaging your audience, but your job isnt quite done once the content is out there. In order to get the most out of your content, you need to understand how to market what you have. Employing content promotion strategies can help boost your reach. Here are 10 ways you can expose your content to more prospects.

1. Ask For Contributions from Top Influencers

By publishing content, you automatically leverage the attention of your existing audience, but tapping into a bigger influencers larger base can open up your content to a wider crowd. How do you do this? Simply cite and link to top influencers when applicable. When you mention these influencers, you have a good chance of getting them to share the content, thereby exposing it to their audience.

Related Class: Finding Influencers to Amplify Social Reach

2. Give Those Influencers Meaningful Incentives

If you hope for an influencer to share your content, you must be prepared to give something in return. Give influencers an incentive, whether its a promotion or a product review, or any other form of mutual exchange. In turn, they are much more likely to help build your audience by sharing content on their platform.

3. Engage Niche Communities

It would be great to achieve mass appeal across a wide range of audiences, but that’s not how you should focus your attention. Instead, focus on the smaller segments that your content appeals to most. You might have content that specifically appeals to online marketers or the tech community; if thats the case, seek out places where these people tend to gravitate, and stay active in those communities.

4. Using the Skyscraper Technique

One way to create content with a built-in audience is to use the skyscraper technique. The idea behind this method is to find the best content thats already published by your competitors and build on it. Any content can be improved on with better design and more in-depth material. This isn’t the same as plagiarism, or spinning: borrowing ideas and making them better isn’t stealing. It’s how all writers, artists, thinkers and innovators thrive.

5. Create Hero Content

Rather than focusing on quantity of content, work on bigger and better content. Concentrate on producing resources that can be marketed and promoted, and spend the effort getting it out to the community.

Related Class: Creating and Curating Content People Love

6. Use Native Advertising

content_promotion_strategies_2

Native advertising is paid content that fits into the standard structure of a site. Native advertising usually performs better than something like a banner ad, as long as it doesnt come off as pushy, or clash with the tone of your site.

7. Use Broken Links to Your Advantage

When you write powerful content, find other sites that have linked to similar articles, and identify those with broken links. You can use extensions to identify sites with broken links or broken redirects. Then, contact the staff to suggest your article as a replacement for the broken link or redirect. It may sound counter-intuitive, but it works. If they agree, that backlink will help your SEO for that particular page, thus improving the visibility in Google’s organic results for that article.

8. Buy Niche Property

If you are already a large Internet business, buying niche property is a viable option for you. While obviously an expensive prospect, acquiring an existing site that focuses on your market is a great way to quickly expand your platform and get your content out to the right audience.

9. Give Incentives to Sharers

Contests and access to exclusive content are both great ways to increase your audience’s engagement. If you provide them something in exchange for sharing your content, you can gain considerable growth directly from that incentive.

10. Use Snip.ly

Snip.ly is a tool for creating banners on the bottom of your content that links to other articles and resources on your site. This is a great way to keep site visitors around longer, which helps garner clicks and improve usability metrics.

Content promotion strategies can significantly boost your audience reach, which means more clicks, leads and sales. While I’ve touched on a number of these methods, don’t get overwhelmed: dedicating yourself to just one or a few can have a big impact.

Nick Rojas is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who’s enjoyed success working with and consulting for startups. Using his journalism training, Nick writes for publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. He concentrates on teaching small and medium-sized enterprises how best to manage their social media marketing and define their branding objectives.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Finding Influencers to Amplify Social ReachContent Marketing Strategy for Social MediaCreating and Curating Content People Love

Visit the Online Marketing Institute to browse over 400 classes in the digital and social media marketing space. Ready to start learning? Sign up here here!

Content Strategy: To Outsource or Not to Outsource?

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Over 200 million people use ad blockers, and that number is continuing to rise. This means that traditional online advertising is less visible than ever. In fact, the day may come when old methods fall entirely out of use. On the other hand, content marketing costs 62% less than traditional advertising, generates three times as much traffic, and is still an excellent way to market your brand. But who is going to do all the work?

In some cases, you can execute a content strategy alone or internally. In other cases, outsourcing content writing will definitely serve you well. Take the time to learn when and how to pass content marketing tasks to someone else.

Relevant Class: Introduction to Content Marketing Strategy

First, Discover the Right Time to Outsource

Can you handle your content strategy execution alone? It is a lot of work, and the idea of delegating it to someone else is enticing. But consider carefully before making any decisions. Here are criteria to help assess what’s best for you:

Reasons you should consider outsourcing content writing:

  1. Your internal team is running short on time or simply does not have the necessary skills.
  2. You have the budget to hire a specialized content writer.
  3. You understand the difference between freelancers and agencies.
  4. The project you are working on does not require much personal interaction.
  5. You can find a content writer / marketer specializing in your niche.
  6. You are clear on the process a freelancer or agency will take to complete the required tasks.
  7. You have or will set measurable, attainable content marketing goals.
  8. Content will compliment your other marketing and advertising efforts.

Reasons you should wait to outsource:

  1. You are not clear on your content marketing goals.
  2. You do not have the budget to hire someone.
  3. Someone on your team can handle the workload.
  4. You do not know whether a freelancer or agency would be the best fit for your project.
  5. Your current project requires too much personal interaction to be worth your time.
  6. Content marketing will not work with your current marketing efforts (this is rare).
  7. You cannot find the right person, externally, for the job.
  8. Your team has plenty of time to complete the tasks, and can train for certain aspects.

Relevant Class: Creating and Curating Content People Love

Which of the above scenarios looks more like your current situation? If you have taken stock of the relevant factors and think it’s time to hire help, read on. If not, invest your energy preparing for the time when you will want to outsource: raise the funds, learn about agencies vs. freelancers, and have a plan for securing help when you need it.

Then, Learn How Outsourcing Content Strategy Works

You might think outsourcing your content creation is as easy as a quick google search, contact with a professional, and sending an outline of your parameters. After that, you may expect your content marketing to work miraculously on auto-pilot. Sadly, this is not the case. There is much more that goes into it. This is how to outsource for true success.

Step 1: Set Measurable, Attainable Goals

If you have not already set measurable, attainable goals for your content strategy, this should be done right away. The aim of a new strategy is critical for success. No matter who you choose to hire, there must be a way to know whether or not the plan is working. As you move forward with any content strategy, you should analyze to see what is working, what’s not working, and make adjustments accordingly. When it comes time to interview someone for the position, they should know your goals, so they can judge whether they are right for the job.

Step 2: Create a List of Blog Topics That Can be Written

As the manager of this project, in the beginning at least, it is your job to come up with potential topics to be written. Whether you are posting everything on your own blog or using the content as part of a backlinking strategy - like guest posting on authority blogs - the topics you choose should be relevant to your target audience, or provide SEO value.

Fortunately, there are helpful tools to make this process a breeze. Try these tools and services to come up with topic ideas quickly:

Step 3: Seek Out Specialized Talent

You can’t just hire any writer for your project. You need to have someone on board with experience in your niche. You don't want to hire someone specializing in law to work on an art blog. You don't want a naturopath writing on a blog designed to promote prescription medications. So although writing skills are important, they are secondary to specialized experience. If you're especially concerned about proper style, you can bring an editor to the project as well.

It’s difficult to say where your perfect freelancer or agency is hiding. Try looking on freelancer websites, check out the recommended agencies listed with your marketing platform, consider academic writing services, and/or post an ad on a job website. The more people you interview, the higher your chances of finding the right person for the job.

When it comes time to hire the right person, make sure that your current strategy, goals, topic ideas, and expectations are laid out up front. Choose a freelancer or agency that is experienced and confident in helping you execute your strategy, and check their work. You may want to add your own personal flair, or make changes to the final product until your new employee understands exactly how you want your articles.

Conclusion

Now you know when outsourcing content marketing is appropriate and how it works. If you’re ready, follow the steps above to start your journey towards content marketing success.

Janice Kersh is a freelance writer with vast experience in content marketing. In her spare time, she likes to cook, read sci-fi, and write in her blog - Janice Writing.

Want to learn more about any of the subjects mentioned above? Here are some relevant classes: Creating and Curating Content People LoveIntroduction to Content Marketing StrategyContent Marketing Implementation: Executing a Winning Content Program

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