Author: Shanna Mallon

6 Best Practices in Remarketing


If your business isn’t remarketing, you’re missing a great opportunity. Remarketing (aka retargeting) is a powerful advertising tool for companies, whether they’re retail shops or B2B brands. It refreshes a lead’s memory and reinforces a brand’s message.

What’s more, when you use remarketing, you engage with warm leads, prospects that already have some familiarity with what you offer. Prospects who were interested in your products once are prospects likely to be interested again. So, when your business is ready to add remarketing to its outreach efforts, here are six best practices to keep in mind!

  • Set clear objectives. It’s as true for remarketing as it is with any marketing practice: it’s hard to measure success without clear goals. Instead of coming up with a generic remarketing plan and then hoping for some good to come of it, establish super-specific, tangible goals you want to achieve. Examples of clear goals might be a certain percentage boost in traffic, a specific number of new sales in a month or a certain improvement in turning last month’s visitors who didn’t buy anything into new customers. Whatever the case, you want to make your goals specific, both in what you hope to achieve and in what time frame you hope to achieve it.
  • Test everything. You’ll see the best results from remarketing when you test every campaign you try. Track results on your PPC remarketing campaign for a set period of time, then change something (the call-to-action, the wording, the landing page for ads, etc.) to see how the results change. Keep conducting these trials and you’ll gain insight into what works best.
  • Segment specific audiences. Set up website metrics that collect specific audiences from your site’s existing traffic - people who spend a certain amount of time on a specific product page, people who exit at the call-to-action page, etc. This establishes targeted groups to which you may remarket later.

  • Create custom messages. Craft your messages to your established targeted groups. Don’t use the same call-to-action or the same advertising style with every group. Rather, take time to evaluate and analyze the needs and interests of those particular users. This is one of the most useful features of online marketing and advertising. Customized messages greatly improve results, as demonstrated through Google's dynamic remarketing where “clients (saw) click-through rates which were as much as 450% higher.”
  • Limit your ads. To avoid annoying followers or turning off your audience, implement limits as to how and when your remarketing efforts will display. For online ads, for example, you can limit the impressions your ads make to fans - allowing them to show a certain number of times a day. Likewise, you’re able to limit the types of places in which your ads will show — so you can prevent your ads from appearing on sites with suggestive, juvenile, profane, etc. content.
  • Use remarketing in multiple formats. There is more than one way to use remarketing, so don’t let yourself get locked into the box of thinking it’s only about Google AdWords or only about your PPC campaigns. There is also email remarketing, site remarketing, search remarketing, social media remarketing, etc. Each one presents potential value for converting specific groups of leads into customers.


Does your business already engage in remarketing, and, if so, what types? What other best practices have you seen to be important?


6 Things Search Engines Want from Your Content


SEO checklistIf you want to rank high with search engines, you have to understand what they want. So with that in mind, here’s a roundup of qualities that search engines look for in websites and your content. When you make sure your site includes these features, you make it as easy as possible for search engines—and, by extension, visitors—to find you.

1. Relevant Keywords

Think about this way: When someone goes to a search engine looking for the services you offer or products you sell, what will he or she search for? Whatever the answer is, those are the terms you need to work into your website. Some of the best places to use keywords are headlines, headings, subheadings, and the first and the last paragraphs of posts. Don’t overdo keyword placement either. Your writing should sound natural, not like it’s being written to trick a computer program.

2. Images They Can Understand

Search engines use complex algorithms to determine which content most closely aligns with a user’s search query—but even with their formulas, search engines can’t see pictures the way people do. That’s why all your images should have relevant ALT and TITLE attributes defined, to let search engines know what users are seeing. To make this process simple, download an app like SEO Friendly Images or All in One SEO Pack. Then, be sure to name your files with descriptive terms that relate to what users might search for to find them.

what search engines want from content

3. Speed

Search engines like websites that load quickly. When someone comes to your site, how quickly does the text load? Are there any stalls before images appear? One good way to test your site is through Google's Page Insights. This tool will evaluate your URL and then provide suggestions for improving speed.

RELATED CLASS: Tomorrow's SEO: 9 Critical SEO Skills You Need to Succeed

4. Meta Descriptions

Meta descriptions are less about being picked up by search engines and more about being noticed by Web users once you are. When someone searches for terms related to your industry and your site comes up, the meta description is what will appear below your link. It gives users a clue as to what they’ll find by clicking through to your site. search engines content

5. Internal Links

Internal links are links on your site pointing to other content on your site. They build relevance for search, but also they help your readers find additional, valuable content throughout your pages. These are most helpful when they use keywords (rather than words like “this link” or “here”).

RELATED CLASS: Mobile SEO: 5 Things You Need to Know

6. External Links

External links are links on your site pointing to content off your site. For the best SEO power, you must use these sparingly—don’t link to any and everything. Your ThoughtsWhat do you think about these qualities as compared to your website? Do they describe your content? If not, what needs to change?

Learn how to build and design your website with SEO in mind.

Watch Incorporating Good SEO into Web Designs, and make sure you avoid common design pitfalls that can hinder your search engine rankings. Learn how to see what search engine bots see when they crawl your website, and how to work around design challenges to balance design and SEO. Watch it now with a FREE trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Get instant access now.


10 Tips for Increasing Your Email Open Rates


Are your email response rates dropping? Are your open rates getting worrisome? If you're feeling discouraged, don’t be. The good news is there are steps you can take to improve your open rates. Here are ten tips to try:

1. Set the Right Expectations

Nothing will harm your email marketing open rates faster than failing to deliver what you promised. If you tell your blog readers that your email newsletter will provide behind-the-scenes info, then behind-the-scenes info better be what you give. This is what they’ll be expecting, and this is why they agreed to subscribe in the first place. Use your site's Subscribe page to clearly explain what your newsletters offer. This way, the people who sign up will be interested in what you provide, and thus they’ll be more likely to click through to the emails that come.

email newsletter example

example of a subscriber preference center

2. Make Your Subject Line Short

Ideally, your email subject line should be short—easy enough to be read at a glance. Different email providers will display different lengths of text, so longer subject lines have a higher chance of being cut off. To ensure the greatest number of readers see your subject, aim to keep it under 50 characters or so.

3. Make Your Subject Line Intriguing

Assuming you have an engaged audience that is interested in what you have to say, the next best step to achieving better response rates is good subject lines. The subject line is what appears in a recipient’s inbox, inviting him or her to click. It gets a few seconds of attention before being opened or deleted. So that’s why the best subject lines offer something of value, for minimum risk. They give the recipient a sense that clicking through to the actual email newsletter will deliver something worthwhile. What are some examples of intriguing newsletter titles? To put it simply, readers like subject lines that identify your brand, hint at the content inside, and have something to offer them. For readers who want to stay updated with your company, for example, consider the following examples, written for the (fictional) company Good Deals:

  • October Update on Good Deals
  • Good Deals October 2013 Newsletter
  • Good Deals Newsletter #15: October 2013 Edition
  • Good Deals Invites You to Our Grand Opening!
  • Upcoming Events at Good Deals
  • Good Deals Fall Updates
  • 20% Off Good Deals Merchandise Now

In every example, the subject line tells the reader what the email is about, identifies the content as from Good Deals, and gives a reason to click.

4. Don’t Be Overly Promotional

According to Ginny Soskey at Hubspot, it’s a good idea to balance your newsletter content to be 90% educational and 10% promotional. This means that, sure, you want to tell your audience about your new product or feature, but don’t let that be all you do. Your newsletter should be more than a sales brochure—it should be an interesting resource. Ask yourself what you can give your readers beyond a catalog, and work that into your content. RELATED CLASS: How to Writer Killer Email Copy

5. Send It at the Best Time

You know what they say: “Timing is everything.” The timing of when you send your newsletter may affect how readers respond to it. Test different schedules to see how your audience responds—while this may differ for various industries, according to the Whole Whale blog, there is evidence that “weekdays outperform weekends, with Tuesday-Thursdays performing the best.”

6. Be Honest about Email Content

Just like your Subscribe page should accurately describe your email content, so should your newsletter subject line. If a reader clicks the “Big Company News October 2013” email only to find a story from last month, he or she might not click through the next month’s letter. Or worse, he or she might unsubscribe.

7. Avoid Spam Signals Like ALL CAPS and Exclamation Marks!!!

Everybody’s got spam radar these days. Who hasn’t received an email from an overseas prince asking for money? Because of this, readers are more cynical—and this means they’re looking at your email newsletter with caution, at least the first time they see it. To help build credibility and keep yourself from looking like a spammer, avoid spam giveaways like writing in all capital letters or using multiple exclamation marks.

8. Avoid Salesy Language

Words like “exciting,” “leading,” and “ultimate” tend to sound salesy. Readers see them and think advertising. So to keep from getting deleted, make your subject lines benefit-driven rather than sales-focused.

9. Consider a Negative Subject Line

“People will always work harder to keep something they have rather than try to gain something that they want,” says Sean Platt at Copyblogger. That’s why negative headlines can be so powerful—they alert your readers to potential problems they could protect themselves against. Here are a few examples:

  • Five Reasons You Won’t Want to Miss This Weekend Sale
  • Good Deals Update: Are You Making These Shopping Mistakes?
  • 4 Things You Might Be Missing on Our New Blog

10. Optimize for Mobile Devices

A large percentage of your readers will receive your email newsletter while they’re on their mobile devices. Consider how your email newsletter will appear on a mobile device. Before sending it out to your entire list, send a test version to your own email. Check for display problems, broken links, and so on.

Your Thoughts

What do you think? Do you want to increase your reader response rates? If so, why not try the above ideas to see how your rates improve?

Learn how to drive more email opens, clicks, and conversions.

Watch Email Marketing Best Practices now, and discover advanced tips to make your email marketing more effective. From creative and offer to list building and timing, this class covers what you need to know to take your email marketing to the next level. Get instant access now—FREE.


Top 4 Content Marketing Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them


content marketing mistakeEverybody’s talking about content marketing—but how many brands are actually doing it right? From an inconsistent brand voice to a lack of momentum, here are 4 all-too-common content marketing mistakes you must avoid:

1. Not Setting Clear Goals

Attempting content marketing without clear goals is like starting a business without a product: pointless. Your content can’t achieve what you want it to when you don’t know what exactly that is. So to reduce the amount of wasted time and energy expended in your efforts, take the time to determine what you need to do. Your content marketing goals might be:

  • Generating new leads
  • Increasing website traffic
  • Generating referrals
  • Bringing in new business
  • Building brand awareness

Once you’ve established your specific goal(s), break them down into subgoals that you can take steps to achieve. Set timelines in order to keep yourself accountable. Then, use those steps to guide your content marketing efforts. RELATED CLASS: Measuring Your Content Marketing Success

2. Losing Momentum

It’s common for brands to start out fast and furious in their content efforts but then lose steam over time. Has this happened to your brand? Did you launch a blog and then let it grow stagnant? Did you start an email newsletter and then quit sending it? If so, it’s time to regroup and return to your goals. One reason brands lose momentum is because they are trying to bite off more than they can chew—when the pace gets overwhelming, they back off. If this sounds like you, return to your specific goals, break those goals down, and tackle one step at a time. RELATED CLASS: Real Time or Die: Feeding the Content Beast

3. Talking and Never Listening

Nothing’s worse online than a brand that’s a loudspeaker. Does this describe you on your social networks? Is your blog just one sales pitch after another? If so, you’re missing valuable opportunities to learn about your audience and engage with your fans. Rather than only talking online, make it part of your strategy to listen. When you pay attention to what your audience is saying on social networks, both about you and about other interests, you learn more about them. Likewise, you’re able to respond to relevant concerns and to engage your followers. Here are a few ideas for engaging your followers and protecting yourself from becoming a blowhard:

  • Ask questions (and respond to answers!)
  • Respond to readers’ questions and comments
  • Respond to relevant content on other blogs and from connections on social networks
  • Retweet interesting and relevant posts from others on Twitter
  • Post more than your own content on social networks—link to others, too

4. Multiple Personality Disorder

Here’s a big one. If one week you’re the formal brand that talks about stats and data, but the next you’re the funny brand cracking jokes and posting cartoons, you are the online equivalent of someone with multiple personality disorder. Better to know who you are and to stick to it—this ensures you communicate a clear, cohesive message to your fans. Do you know who you want your brand to be online? Nail down a clear, specific outline of your voice, tone, mission, and goals—and use it to guide your communication both online and off.

Do you want to nurture more leads to revenue with relevant content?

Watch Creating Content That Converts: Lean Content Marketing for Lead Generation, and in just 30 minutes, you'll learn how to create a high-impact content marketing plan and put it into action immediately. Plus, you'll learn lean content marketing techniques to save time and resources, and how to build your content program around themes and personas. This class is available with a FREE trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Get instant access now.

Content That Converts


How to Use Instagram for Content Marketing


Use Instagram to Tell Your Brand’s Story

What are you trying to communicate with your overall content marketing strategy? If you don’t know, you can bet your followers won’t. Whether you’re the generous brand focused on raising awareness for homelessness or the funny brand that makes videos to make people laugh, you want to use Instagram to reinforce that message. Look at how the following brands do it:

Whole Foods Market: Known for a focus on natural groceries and a beautiful aesthetic, Whole Foods posts attractive images of ingredients like fresh cherry tomatoes.

Whole Foods Instagram Example

Folk Magazine: As a magazine focused on America and American-made products, Folk Magazine regularly shares images of beautiful American scenes like this one.

Folk magazine Instagram Marketing Example

Practice Good Instagram Habits

All business processes have overall best practices to keep in mind, and the same is true of using social channels like Instagram. Here are a few general habits that will improve your marketing efforts:

  • Write Captions: A picture is worth a thousand words, but a relevant caption only enhances your communication. Use captions to explain to your audience what you’re posting and/or to explain how what you’re posting relates to your overall branding.

Better Homes and Gardens Instagram Marketing Example

  • Use Hashtags: Make it easy for other users to find you by tagging your content with relevant keywords. 
  • Post the Best Pictures You Can: Not only does Instagram have filters and features to make your pictures better, but also there are a variety of sister apps that allow you to take your pictures to the next level. One of the most popular is the now-free VSCO app, which expands filters, allows for all kinds of photo-editing capabilities, and easily allows you to post to Instagram

Visit Boston Instagram Marketing Example

  • Post Often: You don’t have to post every hour of the day, but, generally speaking, you do have to post regularly in order to gain a following. Taking a picture and posting it only takes a few moments, so really there’s no reason not to post often.
  • Be Promotional, but Don’t Just Be Promotional: It’s perfectly acceptable to post a photo from your latest blog post with a “New post live at the blog now! (Link in profile!)” but make sure that’s not all you do. Nobody wants to follow a blowhard, and when you’re constantly shouting “Me, me, me!” that’s exactly what you become.

Look at Instagram as a Community

As is true of all social channels, you’ll gain more from Instagram when you look at it less like an advertising opportunity and more like a community. People don’t connect with brands; they connect with people. So to make the most of Instagram, make the most of connections. RELATED CLASS: Marketing on Instagram: How to Use Visual Storytelling to Build Your Brand

According to blogger Mary Beth at Annapolis & Company,  “The bottom line is to build a following of genuine people who care about your contribution to the online world, and for you to follow people with whom you resonate. You’ll go way further than just commenting on feeds who have a large following but have no real interest in, or stalking people saying, ‘please follow me,’ or ‘give me a shout-out.’” So with that in mind, here are some tips for making the most of this community:

1. Tag People in Photos: When a new book is inspiring you and you’re posting a shot of it on Instagram, tag the author in the caption. When you have a company event where several of your team members have Instagram accounts, tag them in the pictures you post. Doing so is the Instagram version of saying “hi” to friends at a party or introducing one group of friends to another. You not only shout-out to the users you tag, but you also expose them to your audience, which everybody appreciates.
Instagram Marketing Example Comment

2. Like Photos and Leave Friendly Comments: Engagement is key on social media. Follow relevant users and regularly scroll through your feed, liking photos and leaving relevant comments as you can. This often leads to interaction between you and other users, which builds relationships over time.
3. Don’t Leave Nasty Comments: It should go without saying, but leaving unkind, unhelpful, critical, and otherwise nasty comments hurts your brand. Don’t do it.
4. Respond to Questions: When your followers ask you questions on your photos, respond to them, tagging those users when you do. People appreciate having their questions answered, and afterwards they’re much more likely to pay attention to you in the future.


Instagram Commenting Example


The Bottom Line

Ultimately the name of the game with Instagram is no different than the name of the game with other social networks: Engagement, engagement, engagement. Your goal with Instagram is to reinforce your brand message and build relationships with your audience as you do. The better you build a network on Instagram, the more opportunities you create to promote your products and brand—and with an audience receptive to what you have to say.

Learn how to use visual storytelling on Instagram to build your brand.

Watch Marketing on Instagram: How to Use Visual Storytelling to Build Your Brand, and learn mow leading brands are successfully integrating Instagram as part of their digital marketing mix, and how you can, too. You'll see how to setup, optimize and use your Instagram account to its full potential, and take a guided tour through the top 3rd party tools for management, analysis, desktop presence, and more. Access it now with a FREE trial to the Online Marketing Institute. Get instant access now.


5 Brands Using Pinterest Right and How to Learn from Them


Ask any marketer and you hear the same thing: Pinterest matters. What’s less clear, however, is exactly how. While we’ve all heard that Pinterest drives traffic, reinforces a brand, builds consumer interest, and increases community, few companies know how to get it to do those things for them.

So with that in mind, let’s take a look at five brands using Pinterest best today—from what they’re pinning to initiatives they’re launching—to see what we can learn from their Pinterest marketing examples.

RELATED CLASS: Pinning for Profit

1. Whole Foods Market

The national supermarket chain focusing on natural foods and often linked with a more luxury lifestyle, Whole Foods Market has over 100,000 followers on Pinterest.

Whole Foods Pinterest Account

What Whole Foods Pins: Whole Foods keeps 54 boards, with topics ranging from straight culinary (“Eat Your Veggies”) to kitchen-related (“Super HOT Kitchens”) to more lifestyle-centric (“We’re Used to Reusing!”). All the boards fit within the Whole Foods brand, amplifying it to followers as well as casting a wider net to those who will find the company’s pins interesting.

The Lesson: Take a page from Whole Foods and think outside the obvious when it comes to pin topics. If you’re an automotive manufacturer, pin more than cars, for example. Think also about topics that fit with your brand’s aesthetic and values: travel, luxury, affordability, etc. The broader your topics, the broader the audience you can reach—just make sure the topics fit with your brand.

2. Martha Stewart

As the name synonymous with home decorating, cooking, and entertaining, Martha Stewart has over 150,000 followers on Pinterest. What’s more, her corporate account, Martha Stewart Living, has two times that many.

Martha Stewart Pinterest Account

How Martha Collaborates: Like Whole Foods, Martha Stewart Living hosts a variety of group boards, including boards from guest pinners. The guest boards feature a particular blogger who creates the pins for a given length of time.

The Lesson: Enlist the help of bloggers to do your pinning for a week, and you both benefit. You get curated pins; the bloggers gets additional exposure.

RELATED CLASS: How Pinterest Can Help Your Brand

3. Bare Minerals

Cosmetics company Bare Minerals boasts more than 15,000 followers on Pinterest, despite having only 11 boards and under 300 total pins.

Bare Minerals Pinterest Account

What’s Its Secret? With the launch of new products, Bare Minerals hosted what it called the “Pin It to Win It” contest. Users could enter to win one of 10 $50 gift cards or the grand prize of one $500 gift card simply by following the brand, setting up a themed board following the company’s directions, and tagging its pins with #BareMinerals and #READYtowin.

The Lesson: Contests are powerful on Pinterest. Use them to generate user pins, broaden your reach online, and create more engaged fans. As Bare Minerals shows, the prizes needn’t be extravagant—but they do need to be something followers want.

4. West Elm

Home goods retailer West Elm draws 126,000+ followers on Pinterest, all of whom find interest in the brand’s 53 boards that range from “Dream House of the Day” to color-focused “Aquamarine.”

West Elm Pinterest

West Elm Contests: West Elm makes its Pinterest sweepstakes even easier for fans than Bare Minerals does—entry to its latest contest is as simple as following the brand and repinning five of its pins from the “Sweet Dreams Sweepstakes” board.

The Lesson: A simple contest is still powerful. At the end of its sweepstakes, West Elm will have new followers, as well as an exponential spread of its brand on one of the most powerful referral networks.

5. Relish Magazine

While smaller than the other brands mentioned in this roundup, food publication Relish Magazine, with its 5,000+ Pinterest followers, demonstrates blogger engagement well.

Relish Magazine Pinterest Account

How Relish Works with Bloggers: Not only does Relish Magazine keep a board of “Food Bloggers We Love,” but it also enlists top food bloggers as guest pinners.

The Lesson: Figure out your target demographic (in Relish Magazine’s case, foodies) and find a way to incorporate it into your Pinterest strategy. Food bloggers pinning for Relish Magazine give the magazine more exposure and influence, enhancing its brand and bringing in new readers.

Learn how to use Pinterest to drive referral traffic and boost brand awareness.

Watch How Pinterest Can Help Your Brand, and walk through the necessary steps for getting up and running on Pinterest. You'll discover how to leverage the network to drive significant referral traffic, and learn exactly how to create pins that people will love, share, and visit. Get instant access to now.