What is a Landing Page and How Can I Use One for My Business?

What is a Landing Page and How Can I Use One for My Business?

Engaging customers is tricky business. But a well-designed landing page can make your life easier. It can significantly increase conversions for your pay-per-click (PPC) and email marketing campaigns.

But what exactly is a landing page and how can you use it in your business?

What is a Landing Page?

In plain terms, a landing page is where a website visitor “lands” on. The visitor could be directed to it from a social media link, online ad or newsletter.

A landing page is meant to limit the visitor’s options by presenting specific information. By doing so, it aims to optimize conversion. Most marketers use landing pages for sales announcements, contests and product launches.

If done well, a landing page can generate leads and give you more bang for your buck.

How Can Small Businesses Use Landing Pages Effectively?

Be Specific

Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and picture this. You see an interesting restaurant ad about lip-smacking seafood from Korea. But when you click on it, you are taken to a page that talks about seafood, in general.

How would you feel? Will you stay on the page for long?

Presumably not, and who can blame you? When users don’t get exactly what they are looking for, they tend to lose interest. That’s why, it’s very important to not beat around the bush and be specific.

Include a Clear Call to Action

So let’s assume you create a specific landing page that provides the exact information to the visitor.

What next? What do you want the visitor to do now?

Go back to the goal that you set for the landing page. For example, if you created the landing page to announce a special offer on Korean seafood dishes at your restaurant, add a call-to-action that explicitly mentions that.

Keep it Simple

Don’t make your customer scroll down the page too much for all the information you want to provide. Reduce text and strike the visual balance to keep your customers intrigued.

You may also add some bullets to capture your key messages. Remember a clutter-free layout draws more attention and serves your overall purpose.

Tools to Create Your Own Landing Pages

There are two ways to create landing pages: you hire a web design company or you simply do it yourself. Luckily, the second option is easier than you can imagine.

Here are some tools worth exploring.

LeadPages is user-friendly for beginners and marketers who want to save time. It also has some cool templates to explore.

Unbounce is a bit more sophisticated option. It has several options in a drag and drop format.

Instapage is great for those who can’t spend too much time on creating landing pages. It takes about ten minutes to get one done.

PageWiz is yet another option for beginners. It features in-depth analytics and A/B testing.

Landing Gear Photo via Shutterstock

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5 Marketing Tasks Your Competitors are Successfully Automating

If you're still performing all of your marketing tasks manually, it's time to look into marketing automation for small businesses.

We live in a business world that’s largely ruled by automation. As a result, you’re losing time and money if you’re manually doing something that your competition is streamlining through automation. But are you aware of the various marketing tasks that your competitors are already automating?

What to Know About Automation

Automation is a big word with big consequences. It’s not as simple as identifying a problem, finding an automated solution, and implementing said solution. There are certain areas of your business that are naturally conducive to being streamlined and then there are other areas that need lots of manual input.

It’s also important to recognize that automating a task doesn’t mean you’re completely stepping away and severing all human ties with that task. Automation simply means that you’re able to eliminate some of the time wasted and relocate resources elsewhere.

“Businesses looking to adopt automation must realize that it is far from a one-size-fits-all solution,” IT pro Barclay Ballard says. “There are areas of your businesses that can become more efficient and productive by being automated, but even these are likely to require some human involvement. What’s more, there are likely to be some companies or teams that are completely unsuited to automation.”

The point is that you need to spend time carefully evaluating your needs and understanding what can and cannot be automated within your organization. What you discover may surprise you.

Marketing Automation for Small Businesses

Five Marketing Tasks the Competition is Automating

One area of automation that’s experienced a lot of growth over the last couple of years is marketing automation. There’s a ton of competition in this niche, with many good vendors to choose from. You can either select some sort of all-encompassing automation platform or pick and choose which tasks you want to streamline with individual tools. Either way, here’s a look at some of the tasks your competition is already automating as you read this article.

1. Social Media

Social media is the best place to start since just about every business with a solid online presence is automating their activity in some form or fashion. There are a multitude of tools and you can find applications for automating posting, sharing, engaging followers, syncing accounts, and much more. While there’s still a place for manually monitoring your account, automation can greatly reduce the time and manpower it takes to complete very basic tasks.

2. Blog Promotion

Blog promotion is a huge undertaking that has a considerable impact on your ability to grow your brand and generate leads. With the help of marketing automation tools, you can streamline many of the smaller tasks that take up your time – such as sharing posts, split testing headlines, finding high-quality images, and more. Most marketing automation platforms have a handful of blog promotion features packed inside.

3. Email Marketing

How’s your email marketing going? If you aren’t automating parts of this time-intensive area of your business, chances are, you’re missing out on opportunities to capture more leads and push them through the conversion funnel. Email marketing is naturally conducive to automation and with the right system in place you can segment lists, personalize messaging to the recipient, schedule email blasts, integrate relevant calls-to-action, and much more.

4. A/B Testing

A/B testing is something that a lot of marketers are scared to get involved with because they feel it will overcomplicate things. Well, thanks to automated tools that effortlessly handle spit testing, nothing could be farther from the truth. You can set up A/B tests in the background and you won’t even know they’re running. Then, based on the results from the tests, you can set up a system that automatically changes various landing page elements to satisfy what your audience responds best to.

5. Analytics

If you look at your analytics data and feel like it’s composed in a foreign language, you aren’t alone. But if you aren’t doing anything to deconstruct and understand what the data is telling you, you’re in the minority. Thanks to an influx of new analytics tools in the marketplace, it’s easier than ever to automate the collection and interpretation of data so that you can see exactly what’s happening in clean, visually stimulating reports.

Catch Up With the Times

“To carry out an automation project correctly requires time and investment in both software and people. It is not a quick fix,” Ballard says. “However, the businesses that succeed in automating the most time-consuming and repetitive tasks will reinvigorate their workplace by giving their employees the ability to work faster, more efficiently and more intelligently than previously possible.”

Automation Photo via Shutterstock

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6 Reasons Why Your Business Should Use Podcasting

Many businesses nowadays are using podcasts as a a powerful marketing tool for improving their prospects. Discover the 6 benefits of podcasting.

The changing times have led to the implementation of various products of technology in businesses. With various aspects of businesses transforming everyday with the changing customer requirements and market demands, these tools have turned out to be necessities to stay afloat in this highly competitive market.

Podcasting has garnered an immense popularity over the years. A podcast is a set of digital audio files that are available on the internet for downloading. A user can subscribe to the podcast to receive the digital files once they are uploaded.

Businesses nowadays are increasingly using podcasts to improve their prospects. It is a powerful marketing tool. Podcasts have become the new talk radio on mobile devices. In fact, the increased usage of mobile phones has led to the explosive growth of podcasting. Let’s take a look at how podcasting can benefit your business.

The Benefits of Podcasting

Podcasting is an Alternative to Video

It is no news that video marketing is crucial for businesses. However, not everyone is comfortable to shoot videos. As a result, using videos, in that case, can hurt your and your business’s reputation considerably.

Additionally, some small businesses may not have the right equipment to shoot videos that will stand out. This is because there are numerous variables involved in videos which include lighting, sound, background and so on. Each of these can go wrong if they are not handled carefully. This is where podcasts become relevant.

Increased Traffic Generation

Using podcasts can help you reach out to new audiences for your business. Podcasts can help in building familiarity with a wide range of audiences. Listeners usually subscribe to the series and regularly listen. As long as the audio series continues, your audience is quite likely to keep listening.

Additionally, your audience may recommend the podcasts to others who may be interested in them, thus increasing your reach considerably. This can lead to improved traffic generation quickly.

Helps in Building Better Relationships with the Audience

Even though a podcast is a one-sided medium, it helps in building effective relationships with the listeners. It gives the feeling that the listeners know the person speaking on the podcast. People listen to podcasts because they have something in common with the speaker and the brand the speaker is representing.

Such a good relationship helps in building trust. This encourages listeners to be associated with the brand. This, in turn, leads to improved conversion. People are more likely to buy something from a friend than a stranger.

Easy to Create

Creating a podcast does not involve a lot of steps. The equipment required for the same is reasonably priced and also available easily. You would need a good quality microphone and headphones for creating a podcast. The editing software for this purpose is free and is quite simple. For uploading the files on your website, a good WiFi connection is important. You may also need to send the podcast to your audience through Email.

Once you have created the podcast, you can start promoting it to increase its exposure and reach out to a larger audience. For this, you would need to make the podcasts available on a variety of distribution channels.

Podcasts are Highly Engaging

We are no strangers to information overload. With the internet being filled with an ample amount of written content, audio information that attempts to engage customers can be a welcoming break from the monotony. Additionally, it leaves enough room for the speaker to convey the message in a highly interactive way which written content may not essentially provide.

In a survey conducted on 300,000 podcast listeners, it was found that 63 percent of the respondents had bought what the host had promoted. This indicates that podcasts can be used to engage the audience and influence their buying decisions positively.

Improves Public Speaking Skills

Regularly hosting podcasts could help you develop confidence while speaking in public. As a result, you would not face any problem while taking part in public speeches. You would start developing a natural, easygoing flow while speaking. In addition to that, you would also receive ample public speaking opportunities wherein you can promote your business.

Most businesses have already started augmenting podcasts into their marketing strategies. It is high time you start implementing them for the growth of your company.

Podcast Photo via Shutterstock

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7 Step Email Marketing Checkup for Retailers

Given the importance of email marketing for retailers, your email strategy needs to be up-to-date. Here's a seven-step checklist to see how you're doing.

What’s the best way to stay in touch with your retail customers? According to a recent study, email blows all other marketing methods out of the water. Respondents of all generations, from Generation Z to Baby Boomers, prefer email communications from retailers by a wide margin.

How wide? Overall, 68 percent of consumers surveyed prefer to receive brand communications from retailers via email; just 6.9 percent prefer the next most popular method, in-store communications. (Rounding out the list, 5.6 percent prefer text messages and 4.5 percent prefer communications via Facebook.) This is one instance where the generation gap is quite small: 73 percent of Baby Boomers prefer email communications from retailers, and 62 percent of Millennials do, too.

Given the importance of email marketing to retailers, your approach to email needs to be on point. Take this seven-step email marketing checkup and see how you’re doing.

Email Marketing for Retailers Checklist

1. Are your emails segmented? Segmenting, or separating your email subscribers into different lists, helps you deliver more relevant emails. Subscribers may segment themselves based on how they opt-in to your emails, or you can segment them based on data you gather. You can segment subscribers in many ways, including:

  • Demographic information, such as age, gender, marital status, children
  • Location
  • Transaction-related information, such as how often they buy from you, when they tend to purchase, and their average purchase amount
  • Behavioral information, such as what pages they view on your website, what emails they open and what previous email offers they’ve acted on.

2. Are your emails personalized? Personalization is key in getting results from your email marketing. It’s also part of what customers like about email: For example, 64 percent of Millennials in the survey say email is the marketing channel that feels “most personal.”

The basic element of personalization, of course, is using the recipient’s name in the body of the email and/or in the subject line. Email marketing programs make it easy to personalize your emails this way; you can even add references in the body of the email to things like a recent purchase or visit. However, you should also personalize emails based on how you have segmented your customers (see above). For example, if you own a boutique that sells infant and children’s clothing, you might personalize emails differently based on whether the recipients are parents or grandparents.

3. Do your emails offer perceived value? One company whose emails I subscribe to sends multiple emails per day — each touting an offer such as “20 percent off today only!” or “$10 off your purchase today only!” It’s blatantly obvious that these “one-day only” prices are not really deals, and I’ve begun simply deleting the emails altogether.

In order for your emails to be perceived as valuable — rather than pesky annoyances — make your offers meaningful. In addition to discounts or sales, also send emails with useful information. For example, the infant and clothing retailer I mentioned could create a list of “10 top kids’ fashion trends for 2017,” complete with photos of products you sell in your store. Don’t have time to create such a list on your own? Then link to an article elsewhere online — it’s fine as long as you credit it properly.

4. Are you using triggered emails? E-commerce companies use triggered emails frequently. For example, if you’ve ever abandoned an online shopping cart, you probably got a reminder email asking you if you still wanted to make the purchase. Brick-and-mortar retailers can use the same principle, creating triggered emails based on customer behavior. For instance, if a customer who used to visit your shop regularly hasn’t come in for several months, send a “We miss you!” email with a tempting offer. Collecting customers’ birthday dates and sending emails with a discount good for the birthday month is another smart tactic. Or take a cue from cosmetics retailer Sephora and offer a small free gift during the birthday month — no purchase needed.

5. Do your openers get attention? Focus your copywriting energies on creating good subject lines that clearly sell the benefit of the email and its value to the customer. Because the first line of an email’s body text often displays before it is opened, make it powerful, too.

6. Are your emails mobile optimized? More than half of all survey respondents primarily check email on their smartphones. The younger the respondent, the more likely they are to do this: 59 percent of Millennials and 67 percent of Generation Z primarily check email on their phones. Make sure that your emails display well on smartphones, with enough white space to be readable, and buttons or hyperlinks that are easy to click on. Equally important, any links that take customers to your website should go to a mobile-friendly webpage.

7. Do you make it a priority to build your email lists? Getting new customers to sign up is essential to maintaining a healthy email list. Always ask customers at checkout if they’d like to sign up to receive emails from your store. While you should never make this a requirement for the sale (or make customers feel like you’re being pushy), you can incentivize sign-up by sending them a discount offer as their first welcome email or explaining that by signing up, they can get digital receipts instead of or in addition to paper ones. Provide a sign-up sheet near checkout or, for more accuracy, use a point-of-sale system that enables customers to input their own email addresses.

Email Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “7 Step Email Marketing Checkup for Retailers” was first published on Small Business Trends

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4 Ways You Can Advertise Your Business

How to Advertise Your Business

When done correctly, advertising can attract new customers, build sales to boost your bottom line and enhance your reputation.  This is why more than $180 billion were spent in advertising in the United States in 2015. With so many digital tools available, it can be hard to know where to start.  As you work to drive additional traffic to your website, take a look at these ways you can market your small business.

How to Advertise Your Business

Display Advertising

Businesses use display ads to highlight their products on websites in a variety of formats such as video, text, audio and images.  Display ads share a common goal: to expand your online visibility and sell more products online.  Two forms of display ads that drive results and get a positive response from Web surfers are pay-per-click ads and banner ads.

PPC advertising works really well with small budgets, yet business owners often ask themselves, “What is PPC and why should I use it?” Essentially, pay-per-click allows you to pay to get visitors to your site instead of earning those visits organically.

Banner ads are also a form of online advertising that entail embedding an advertisement into a web page. These ads generate a big portion of revenue for many websites. Usually the advertisement consists of an image in a rectangular graphic display that extends across the top or bottom of a website or down the right or left sidebar.

Social Media Advertising

One of many benefits of social media for business is that it provides a great way to cultivate more personalized relationships and better engage with potential customers.  The goal of social media marketing is to coerce traffic to the product pages on your website — one of many ways to increase your small business sales.

The trick to a successful social media advertising program is to develop your online business persona.  You want to humanize your small business, so post funny images or industry related links to engage your audience. You can also use social media to share and inform your readers about your products.  The goal should be to speak to and connect with your audience.

Print Advertising

This form of advertising is when ads are published in printed materials and circulated to the masses.  Newspapers, brochures and magazines are forms of print advertising. These methods have many advantages, such as the ability to reach large audiences of a particular demographic.  When you advertise, it’s essential to figure out where your primary consumer market will have the most access to your advertisements so your print is in the right places and reaches the right audience.

Broadcast Advertising

This mass-market  form of communication includes radio and television. Broadcast advertising was once the most popular way a business could reach a large number of consumers, but the rise of the internet has changed that. There has been a significant decrease in broadcast advertising due to the rise of DVRs and the creation of technology that gives us the ability to skip ads.  This method is still used though, especially during times like the Super Bowl.

Many businesses put advertising on the back-burner and think of it as an expense. Instead, marketing and advertising should be considered an investment. There are countless ways to put your brand out there; you just have to figure out which methods will help your business achieve the best results.

How do you successfully market your small business?

Advertising Photo via Shutterstock

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Is Your Niche Boring? Here’s How Content Marketing Can Still Work For You

If you don't work in a sexy industry and struggle with getting attention, don't give up because content marketing for boring industries is possible.

Let’s face it, not every business niche is sexy. Just because what you do doesn’t make for interesting cocktail party banter doesn’t mean you have to give up on the idea of content marketing. You just have to be smart about it.

A wise editor once told me there are no boring topics, only boring writers. I suspect many people would be interested in learning more about what you do, the services you offer and the benefits you provide to clients or customers.

If you don't work in a sexy industry and struggle with getting attention, don't give up because content marketing for boring industries is possible.

“Groundhog Day”s Ned Ryerson — while enthusiastic — did little to convince Phil to buy life insurance from him. Don’t be like Ned.

Content Marketing for Boring Industries

Getting Ideas

For starters, imagine that you’re at a conference with other people in your profession. I’m sure you have interesting conversations.

  • What are the latest developments in your industry that get you excited?
  • What are the challenges you face?

The business of website development, or marketing, or writing is not that exciting to most people, but get a bunch of folks involved in those professions together and I guarantee you they’ll get excited talking to each other. I suspect it’s the same in your industry.

The trick is to package that excitement in an article that talks about what you care about, why it matters, and how it benefits people. The benefit might be to an individual or society in general.

Education

What are some things that someone in your profession knows that would help others if they knew, too? Remember, people are selfish. They want to know what’s in it for them.

And there’s a reason we say knowledge is power. People in technical professions know stuff that the rest of us don’t. Content marketing is a great business-building tool for people like you because you have an opportunity to educate and impress at the same time. You share your knowledge and reap the reward of being perceived as an authority.

That’s something marketers have learned from psychologists — people listen to those they perceive to have authority.

Self Protection

What sort of things about your profession might people find engaging?

To help answer that question, I reviewed some of the other psychological motivators that marketers use. The desire to avoid loss motivates many people.

Is there something that you or your business do that protects people from loss? The loss could be financial or material, or perhaps a health risk or even a risk to life. People fear loss and an article that shows how your product or service protects them from it in some way will get high readership.

Problem Solving

The point of content marketing is to build your business by providing valuable information to an audience made up of prospects for your products or services. You establish yourself as a knowledgeable expert, and when they need what you offer, your name comes to mind.

What is it you have done to help people solve their problems?

Think of your very best customer, as an example. How have your products or services helped this customer?

Your prospects are people like your best customer. Depending on the nature of your business, they may not be exactly like your other customers, but they are likely to have one thing in common — a problem that you solve for them.

People want their problems solved. Tell me a story about how you solved a problem for someone like me and I’ll be interested!

Audience Development

So, you’re getting the idea that you do have a story but wondering where you would publish articles about your business, right?

Here are some ways you can use content:

  • A blog tied to your website is a good first step. Consistency is important with content management, so plan to post on a regular basis.
  • You can use Facebook or other social media to drive traffic to your blog post. You might even use Facebook advertising to extend the reach and hopefully build traffic on both your page and your website.
  • Getting others to share links to your blog post on their websites is another way to reach a larger audience.
  • Your could combine blog post with other material to create an email newsletter.

The important thing is to focus on getting your articles in front of as many potential customers as possible on a regular basis.

About Those Articles

My guess is that if you are concerned that there’s nothing exciting for someone in your business to write about that you’re also not a writer.

That’s O.K. Most of the writers I know are not also computer programmers or chemists or accountants or any of a number of highly specialized professions. Nor are they plumbers or roofers or auto mechanics.

When a writer needs something that is out of their realm of expertise, they turn to a professional, and you can do the same.

Involve Your Team

Yours may be a solo profession, but if you work with a team, consider getting them involved with your content marketing project.

Others who work to serve your customer base may have different perspectives to bring to the storytelling effort. It’s possible, for instance, that your customers have shared something about your value to them with one of your subordinates that they haven’t told you. That information could help your writer develop another interesting angle.

Requires Commitment

Content marketing is not likely to yield instant results. You’re making an investment in business development that requires a commitment to regularity.

Let’s say you decide to establish a blog. How often would you need to post?

Daily (Monday through Friday) would be great. But that doesn’t mean you need a complete article every day. Your plan can include a variety of daily blog posts.

Perhaps you’ll start the week with a fresh article. On Tuesday you post an inspirational quote related to your business. You follow up Wednesday with a suitable photo of some sort.

On Thursday you comment on an article of interest from some other source (within the realm of interest to your audience) and include a link. You end the week with a brief preview of the article you will publish the following Monday.

This way your blog has fresh content on a regular basis, which helps you catch the attention of search engines and keeps your audience engaged.

Typing Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Is Your Niche Boring? Here’s How Content Marketing Can Still Work For You” was first published on Small Business Trends

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DIRECT MAIL MARKETING STATISTICS for Small Businesses

DIRECT MAIL MARKETING STATISTICS for Small Businesses

We’ve collected these direct mail marketing statistics for small businesses from a variety of sources.

Last updated: January 8, 2017

GENERAL DIRECT MAIL MARKETING STATISTICS

  • Some general statistics:
    • A total of more than 150 million direct mail promotions were sent out in 2015.
    • 42 percent of recipients read or scanned the mail pieces.
    • More than 2.5 billion coupons were redeemed.
  • The greatest number, 54 percent, of consumers surveyed said they want to receive mail from brands they’re interested in:

DIRECT MAIL MARKETING STATISTICS - Preferred Way of Receiving Updates and Promotions

  • 59 percent of U.S. respondents and 65 percent of Canadian respondents agreed with the following statement, “I enjoy getting postal mail from brands about new products.”
  • 56 percent of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing.
  • 70 percent of Americans say mail is more personal than the internet.

DIRECT MAIL MARKETING EFFECTIVENESS STATISTICS

  • U.S. advertisers spend $167 per person on direct mail to earn $2,095 worth of goods sold; a 1,300 percent return.
  • One study, “The neuroscience behind the response-driving power of direct mail” found that:
    • Direct mail generates a motivation* score that is 20 percent higher than digital media.
    • Direct mail was found to require 21 percent less cognitive effort. That means your message is absorbed more quickly and effectively.
    • Brand recall was 70 percent higher among participants who were exposed to direct mail ads rather than to digital ones.
  • The average ROI for direct mail campaigns is between 18 and 20 percent.
  • 56 percent of consumers who responded to direct mail went online or visited the physical store.
  • 62 percent of consumers who responded to direct mail in the past three months made a purchase.

DIRECT MAIL VERSUS EMAIL STATISTICS

  • 80-90 percent of direct mail gets opened, only 20-30 percent of email gets opened on a good day.
  • The response rate to direct mail pieces is 3.7 percent, as opposed to 2 percent mobile, 1 percent email, 1 percent social media, and 0.2 percent internet display.
  • 70 percent of consumers preferred traditional mail for receiving unsolicited offers from companies.
  • When asked, “Which is more effective at getting you to take action?” 30 percent of millennials said direct mail, 24 percent said email.

Bottom Line

While many people have predicted the death of email marketing, an even greater number have claimed that direct marketing is already dead. As the direct mail marketing statistics above clearly demonstrate however, this is not true. In fact, the greatest opportunity for marketing success may lie in combining the two marketing tactics in one campaign. Doing so enables small business marketers to offset the weaknesses of one with the strengths of the other.

For direct mail tips, take some time to explore these posts:

* Motivation is “a measure of approach-avoidance behavior, or the feeling of “wanting” that drives urges and decision-making.”

Direct Mail Photo via Shutterstock

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