Friday, October 19, 2018

Increase Email Open Rate With 9 Key Factors

The common goal of all marketers is to gain email addresses from web visitors. Unlike social media or search engines, which have a company standing between you and your visitor, email is a direct connection to the customer. Because of this, crafting emails that drive traffic to your site is high on the list of priorities.

Of course, driving traffic from email depends on open rates. Find out how to increase your email open rate with these nine key factors.

1. Keep Subscribers Engaged

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It’s important to send your subscribers regular emails to be sure that your list stays fresh, but you can still lose some of your email list over time. People may change emails or lose interest in your brand overall, so it’s smart to remove inactive subscribers regularly.

You can still give them one last chance to re-engage, however. This can be accomplished a number of ways, but it’s just an email asking your subscriber to engage with you before purging them from your list. Anyone who responds stays, but everyone else gets purged.

You can also check in with your subscriber list periodically to see if they want to update their information. This reminds them that they’re still in control of how they interact, which builds a more personal connection and encourages them to engage.

Finally, you can try to re-engage your list by conducting a survey to rate their satisfaction and gain some insight. Offering an incentive, such as a free gift, encourages their engagement and gives you valuable information to keep them satisfied.

2. Segment Your List

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One of the most important factors in whether someone opens an email is deciding if it’s relevant to their needs. Segmentation is an easy way to accomplish this and be sure you’re not flooding your subscribers’ inboxes with emails that don’t apply to them.

Segmentation can be done a number of ways, but the best place to start is by tagging your subscribers’ behavior. For example, you want to send different types of emails to your repeat customers, first-time customers and future customers you’re nurturing.

You may also want to create segments based on the types of products purchased, demographics, locations and other information, so you can tailor your emails to your customers’ needs and entice them to open.

3. Avoid Spam

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Spam filters are becoming more and more refined, but it’s still possible to end up with your emails in the spam folder. If this happens, you can count on your email never being opened.

So, if you want to maximize the reach and engagement of your email list, you need to do all you can to avoid ending up in the spam folder. Here are some tips:

  • Be sure everyone on your list opted-in.
  • Send emails from an IP address that hasn’t been used for spam in the past.
  • Send using a verified domain.
  • Make sure your code is clean.
  • Personalize the “to” field of your email.
  • Take the time to show subscribers how to add your business to their address book to be sure they always get your emails.
  • Avoid sales language that’s likely to trigger spam filters.
  • Avoid deceptive subject lines.
  • Include a location.
  • Make sure it’s easy for your subscribers to unsubscribe as they wish.

4. Get the Timing Right

Timing has a big impact on whether your subscribers open your emails, so it’s worth the time and effort to test different timeframes and see what performs.

You can also take advantage of others’ research, such as MailChimp. Though the research is general, it can give you a great starting point for when your emails will have the most impact.

Overall, they found that no particular day is better than another, but during the week is better than the weekend. Morning is also better than afternoon, evening or late night, but that’s also dependent on the location, occupation and age of the subscriber, as well as the type of content being sent.

That’s where you come in. Think a little about your subscribers and what their normal routine might be, what type of content you’re sending and when you would be most likely to want to read your email.

5. Improve Your Subject Line

Subject lines are a significant factor in your email open rate, so they have to grab attention. Some contractors get lazy with their email marketing and copy the same subject line formula over and over, leading to bored subscribers and unopened emails.

If you want to separate yourself from the pack, you need to get creative. Keep your subject lines intriguing but not overly clever or confusing, use a joke or question and speak in a language that aligns with your brand and your customers.

You can also check out this post from Neil Patel about writing great subject lines that get opened, which gives you some in-depth advice.

6. Write to One Person Only

When you write an email that’s meant to go out to thousands of subscribers, that can easily reflect in your tone. This makes sense, but it’s much less effective than writing as though you’re speaking to only one of your subscribers.

You want to keep your emails personal to connect with your audience, which can’t be done if you’re writing to the masses. This requires insight into your customer, however, and the ability to identify their problems, interests and values.

If you don’t have that type of insight on your customers yet, now is a great time to start. A simple email that includes a survey or a conversation allows you to ask the questions you need to better understand your customers’ problems.

7. Write Personally

As we mentioned, keeping it personal is much more effective that writing emails with mass appeal. Disconnected, sterile messages will never be opened on a consistent basis, regardless of how well you craft the rest of the email.

This is often challenging for people, but the key is to write to your subscribers as though you’re friends. They’re flooded with emails all day every day, so if you can reach them on a personal level and convince them that what you sent is worth reading, your emails will be opened.

8. Create Excellent Content

Content is read after an email is opened, so you may wonder why that’s included on this list. Even if your goal is to increase the open rate, you still want your emails opened consistently in the future, and that has everything to do with what’s inside.

Think about it this way. If your subscribers take a shot on you and start opening your emails, only to find content that’s subpar or shallow, they have no incentive to open your emails again.

Keep it valuable and relevant to your audience every time, and you may find yourself with a long list of loyal subscribers who look forward to getting your emails.

9. Make it Mobile Friendly

Mobile is increasingly more popular, so it makes sense that a lot of your audience uses their smartphone to open an email. Even if your product and target audience fall outside of the demographic most likely to use mobile for email, you still can’t afford to neglect the needs of your mobile users.

Mobile-friendly formatting is the first step in this process, but there are some other things to consider about emails specifically. Smaller screens make it more difficult to see graphics and shorten subject lines, so that’s something you need to think about as you write your email.

You also want smaller images that load faster, and make sure your email looks good without them. Some systems turn images off immediately, so you may spend that time on an email that doesn’t display images anyway.

Finally, pay attention to your buttons and links. Your mobile subscribers are using a touchscreen, so small call-to-action buttons and links that are too close together will have them accidentally clicking the wrong thing or unable to click altogether.

Keep at It

If you’re looking for better open rates, improving in these key factors will certainly help, but it may take some time to see what works and what doesn’t. Regardless of your insights, email marketing is a little bit of an experiment, so give yourself a chance to find out what works for your brand and your audience to enjoy sustainable results.

Increase Email Open Rate With 9 Key Factors posted first on Contractor Media - Internet Marketing For Contractors

Saturday, October 13, 2018

How To Improve Customer Experience

Customers interact with brands across many touchpoints, and each makes an impact on your relationship. Ultimately, a brand must keep the big picture in mind — the total experience for the customer from the beginning of the funnel to the end — to have success in business.

There are many ways to influence the customer experience, but the best strategies come down to your particular contractor business and goals. Learn more about how to improve the customer experience and reap the rewards for your business.

What is Customer Experience?

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Customer experience is comprised of the interactions between a customer and the business over the course of the business relationship. This typically includes cultivation, awareness, discovery, advocacy and service, but it can refer to any and all business interactions between your customer and a member of your staff.

Customer experience is an important part of Customer Relationship Management and impacts whether or not a customer has a positive view of your company and will become a loyal and repeat customer. Overall, customers who are happy remain loyal, leading to more business for you in the long run. Contractor businesses that deliver better customer service and a better overall experience are more likely to outperform the competition.

How Does Customer Experience Differ from Customer Service?

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A customer’s earliest contact with a business is through an interaction with an employee, which gives you a chance to positively impact them with customer service. Customer service is only one aspect of the whole customer experience, however.

For example, if you have an issue with a company and encounter a friendly customer service representative, that’s good customer service. If you have a positive experience with the product or service itself, however, that’s a good customer experience.

Customer service is still incredibly important, but it’s no longer the sole focus of customer experience. Customer experience has everything to do with the ways a business interacts with customers and how it strengthens customer relationships.

Where Does Customer Experience Fit In?

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A business relies on its customers for success, which is why so many contractor businesses are focusing on gaining new customers and retaining existing customers. Customer experience is high on the list of priorities, especially for businesses that have been around for a while.

Unfortunately, many contractor businesses fail on this front. Customer expectations continue to rise though, so contractors need to focus on crafting an excellent user experience to stay ahead of the curve.

So, how does a contractor business accomplish this?

Create a Customer Service Vision

Before you can plan any type of customer service strategy, you need to have a clear vision for what that means for your business that you can communicate to your team.

Ultimately, this comes down to defining your vision and the principles and values that guide your business. For example, your contractor business may be focused on excellent customer service, philanthropy or other fundamental values, all of which direct your culture.

Understand Your Customer Base

Once you have your principles, the next step is understanding your customers and what they’re expecting of your business. These are the people your customer service teams are interacting with, so if you really want to connect with your customers, your staff needs to be able to empathize with their needs.

This can be done through customer personas, indicating a general demographic and behavior for groups of customers. Your business is likely to attract a wide variety of customers, so you need to have an idea of how to approach each one for an effective experience.

Connect with Customers

Contrary to popular belief, connecting is about more than addressing a customer’s needs. It’s about going above and beyond to understand your customers and tailor your operations around them.

Emotions are a big motivator in how consumers make decisions, so it makes sense that establishing an emotional connection between your customers and your customer service staff is a powerful strategy. Customers become loyal because they become emotionally attached to your brand and the product or service you provide.

If you can provide that level of connection to your customers and address their needs on a more personal level, you’ll not only enjoy a repeat customer for life, but you’ll also have a customer who is more willing to make recommendations and stick to your brand and your brand only.

Get Feedback

Like anything else, the best way to see how your customer experience rates is with feedback. Several tools exist to help with this, capturing information through surveys and other automated tools to help you can learn more about how you’re satisfying the customer’s needs.

Making direct calls is also an option, which also has the added benefit of speaking directly to a customer and asking questions as they come up.

No matter what method you choose, it’s important to make note of the people in your business that are making a difference. The best way for your staff to know that they’re on the right track is with feedback, so do your best to share this information and ensure they’re aware of their individual impact.

Implement Training

The previous tips should give you a good idea of how your business is doing with customer experience so far, but if you want to continue to improve, you’ll need to implement strategies and training to address weaknesses.

It’s not uncommon to have businesses monitor phone or email communication, but it’s in your business’s best interests to assess the members of the team individually and continue their development through training and coaching.

Consider Employee Feedback

Many businesses use employee feedback to assess the engagement and satisfaction of their teams, which directly affects their performance. This is usually on a yearly basis, however, so it leaves gaps during which employees may not be delivering the constructive criticism you need at the right time.

Fortunately, a variety of project management software systems allow you to create an environment that allows employees to provide feedback. They’re the ones often in direct contact with your customers, after all, so their feedback can be incredibly valuable in addressing the current issues your business is facing.

Use Metrics

The face of online business has changed, so it can be challenging for businesses to get behind a process that doesn’t have a quantifiable result. If you’re going to put the time, energy and money into revamping the customer experience, you want to know that it will pay off in the end.

Measuring customer experience is a challenge, especially when compared to other aspects of marketing, but it’s not impossible. Several tools are available to measure customer experience, giving you a starting point for assessing your business changes and how much your efforts are paying off.

Move Your Business Forward

Customers are expecting more and more from modern businesses, and as always, word-of-mouth is one of the biggest factors in whether or not a business or contractor is successful. Furthermore, the power given to customers has emboldened them more, giving rise to better and better standards for businesses seeking to improve the customer experience.

Like other aspects of digital marketing and presence, customer experience needs nurturing and honing to stay relevant and continue to reap rewards for your contractor business. Once you get it right, however, a positive customer experience can have a significant impact on retention, loyalty and revenue, leading to long-term success for your business.

How To Improve Customer Experience posted first on Contractor Media - Internet Marketing For Contractors

Monday, October 8, 2018

Outdated SEO Practices You Should Retire

The internet constantly evolves. As search engines become increasingly skilled at delivering targeted content to their customers, SEO best practices quickly become outdated and threaten to drop your site low in the rankings.

Fortunately, these outdated SEO practices are easy to avoid once you know them. Take a look at the SEO practices that once reigned supreme but now put your site at risk, and find out what you should do instead for long-lasting success.

Focusing Only on Keywords

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Keywords aren’t the be-all-end-all of modern SEO as they once were. Sites used to be designed entirely around target keywords, but adapting to the new SEO tactics requires a different strategy.

Keywords listed in title tags, headers and meta descriptions aren’t readable, and worse, are now punished by Google algorithms. Instead, write enticing, interesting title tags, compelling copy for meta descriptions and intriguing headings that draw the reader further into the article. Not only is this content more readable, but it also ranks higher in Google, which searched for content quality and relevance more than anything else.

Prioritizing Rankings over Traffic

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Many businesses put the number one organic ranking above all else, which doesn’t help ROI and does little for the increasingly popular voice search.

Instead, featured snippets, long-tail targeting and other SERP tactics should be the focus. These not only have a higher ROI per hour spent, but they also aren’t as competitive and often bring you around to the primary keyword anyway.

Creating Multiple Pages for Keyword Variants

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In the past, it made sense for a site to create and optimize pages for each keyword variant to cast the widest possible net. This was mostly due to Google’s inability to differentiate between similar keywords and organize the search results accordingly.

Now, Google’s algorithms are capable of finding multiple pages that use similar content and keywords, and they penalize you for it. This doesn’t mean you need to simplify everything, but it does mean that you should eliminate multiple pages for every variant with the intent of keyword optimization. Instead, focus on the user experience with your site and the optimal funnel, which will get you high marks in search engine algorithms.

Link Building to Improve Rankings

Many businesses attempt to move up the search engine rankings with link building, but this outdated practice no longer works with modern SEO. Now, searcher task accomplishment, user experience and valuable content get the ranking.

As Neil Patel states, the golden rule of SEO, regardless of algorithm changes, is searcher task accomplishment. Google’s first and foremost concern is giving searchers exactly what they’re looking for, which can’t be accomplished with SEO shortcuts. Google wants to reward sites that help the searcher with what they searched for initially, uncover other possible needs and address them. Ultimately, the goal through this is to find the sites that lead to more action and engagement.

All of this can be accomplished through high-quality, relevant content and an optimized user experience. If Google’s main goal is to go above and beyond to serve the needs of searchers, your site experience should focus on that as well.

Obsessing on Keyword Placement

Spending a lot of time and energy putting keywords in the H1 and H2, the headline tags, as well as the URL or repeated multiple times throughout the content, works, but only to an extent. For example, you want to have your keyword in the title or headline, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be stuffed into every area.

Instead, focus on getting value out of the keywords and their related topics. Make sure that the content explains the subject, topics, words or phrases that Google is likely to associate with the keyword. You can scatter your keyword all over your site and links, but if you don’t have related content that Google may recognize, you won’t rank as well.

Ignoring Mobile Site Optimization

Designing for mobile sites isn’t new, but many businesses are still behind the times with sites that are far from mobile-friendly. Even if most of your audience uses a desktop to view your content, you could be missing out on loads of mobile traffic.

Fortunately, this is an easy fix. Software that isn’t supported or common on mobile devices, links that are too close together and cause accidental clicks and text that doesn’t have a readable zoom are enough to move a user away from your content, so that’s a great place to start. Google also offers a guide to mobile-friendly sites to ensure you’re on the right track.

Churning Out Low-Quality Copy

The old rule for SEO used to be quantity over quality, but now, Google will penalize you for it. Low-grade blog fillers, stuffed keywords and other tactics are a flag to Google that your writing has no relevance, so it will direct users elsewhere.

On top of the effects on SEO, low-quality copy just isn’t good for business or marketing. It’s less likely to draw visitors in, less likely to convert visitors and less likely to bring them back, actions which are much more valuable to a business than a ranking on a search engine.

Offering Non-Strategic, Shallow Content

Content strategy and content marketing have become a considerable investment for businesses in recent years, sometimes with the idea of drawing links to a site that aren’t relevant or helpful. We’ve all seen this with “clickbait” articles that include information that has nothing at all to do with the original site.

On the other hand, link bait that offers high-quality content that draws others to link to it and draws attention, as well as creates a positive brand association, is far more valuable for your site. This requires information that’s interesting and makes others naturally want to link to it, which is best accomplished through content that solves a problem effectively and enhances the value of another’s site.

Ignoring Other Search Engines

We’ve discussed these tactics at length in regard to Google, but that doesn’t mean other search engines should be left by the wayside. True, Google has the most comprehensive set of resources for SEO and is undoubtedly the most popular search engine, but if you’re forgetting about the likes of Bing, Yahoo and other search engines, you’re missing out.

These search engines are a major source of organic traffic, so don’t neglect their tools in your planning process. They can easily supplement your SEO efforts and often provide even more data to work with, giving you a thorough understanding of your total SEO picture.

The Best Way to Update Your Outdated SEO Practices

As discussed, Google is only concerned with solving the searcher’s problem. Whether that’s through related keywords, related topics or other tactics, all Google cares about is directing users to sites that are useful, valuable and relevant.

Because of this, the key to modern SEO is creating a website that people want to use by offering value and solving problems. This isn’t about shortcuts or cheating the system, which will only change tomorrow. It’s about caring for your customers and focusing on helping them, rather than artificially inflating rankings. Put a little effort into that, and you’ll start to see long-lasting results.

Outdated SEO Practices You Should Retire posted first on Contractor Media - Internet Marketing For Contractors