Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Email Marketing for Small Agencies and Freelancers

If you are a small agency or a freelancer, you know what a daunting task it is to acquire customers. To sell what you are good at, you need to market yourself well. But then you also have a budget constraint! Here’s one of the most effective yet pocket-friendly solutions for small agencies and freelancers- Email Marketing.

But, Why Email Marketing?

According to Radicati’s 2016 Email Statistics report, email will be used by 3 billion people by 2020. Email marketing is a great way to nurture the leads who are visiting your website but are not yet ready to do business with you. All your website needs to do is capture the interest of visitors and encourage them to sign up for your emails. Emails can take it forward from this point and eventually turn the visitors into customers.

Let’s take a look at how freelancers and small agencies can attract their target audience through email marketing:

1. Defining Target Audience

Defining your target audience is the most important step before you send out emails. You need a list of subscribers- people who have chosen to hear from you and not just some random people; this is a key aspect of every successful business. For this, you need to build a list organically- through online and offline methods. Placing a sign-up form on your website or blog or getting people to sign up for your emails during a conference or event helps you get email addresses of people who are actually interested in your services. Click-through rates are 100.95% higher in segmented email campaigns than non-segmented campaigns.

Takeaway: Do not buy an email list; build one through organic ways.

2. Kicking off with Welcome Emails

On average, 320% more revenue is attributed to them on a per email basis than other promotional emails. The email basically welcomes subscribers, confirming their onboarding. A warm welcome or ‘Thank you for joining’ note can go a long way. This email can also brief them about the services you as a freelancer or small agency provide and what exactly they can expect in future emails. Collecting all this information will help you segment your list and send targeted, relevant and timely emails.

Takeaway: You can send a welcome email series starting with a welcome note and information about services you provide, followed by links to your social pages, and third about setting preferences.

3. Offering Incentives

You are all geared up to begin your email campaign which only defines that you mean business. But here’s the thing – people will NOT come to your site if you don’t have anything special to offer. This is the simple rule of marketing. Since you are a small agency and not so popular yet, offer subscribers a freebie, a bait – so that they are tempted to try your services.

Think about that incentive that YOU can offer and create it. EBooks encourage plenty of opt-ins in the mailing lists – though, they would be read by competitors too. That is a risk worth taking if you will be getting potential customers.

Takeaway: Offer incentives but do not go overboard.

4. Creating Landing Pages

Landing pages play a vital role in email marketing. You need a landing page for directing subscribers towards your services or the incentives you are offering- a page where they can take the action you desire them to take. Using videos on landing pages can increase conversions by 86%.Create landing pages for all your services; these pages will provide all the details about the service or offer that people would want to know. These pages keep them interested and also increase the chances of conversion.

Takeaway: Optimize landing pages for best results.

5. Planning and Scheduling Emails

When you have built a strong subscriber list – losing their interest would be the last thing you would ever want. If they don’t see anything from your side for a long time, or see a truckload of emails – either ways, it’s not a good thing to do. To avoid this, an email content calendar for planning and scheduling your emails is important in order to keep up with the frequency of your mailing list communications. Open rate is highest when companies send two emails per month.

Takeaway: Aim to email at least once every month. If you have great content and frequent updates to share, you can always experiment with different frequencies to see what interests the subscribers most.

6. Analyzing and Re-engaging

14 % of subscribers who received win-back emails read them – these numbers increased to 45 percent for subsequent messages too. Analyzing the results of email campaigns will always keep you ahead with all the information about each email sent, opened, clicked, bounced, spammed, and unsubscribed- and that is important for you as a freelancer, isn’t it? On the other hand, don’t be disheartened by unsubscribes. Look into the problems – what gives higher engagement and what doesn’t, and work accordingly.

Takeaway: Review your email analytics after each email campaign. If you find inactive subscribers on your list, send them re-engagement emails, and if they still don’t respond you can take them off your list.

Wrap Up

Email marketing can help budding agencies and freelancers get that kick-start they need because emails are more personalized, keeps the human touch intact, and have a wider outreach than other marketing channels.

How do you plan your email marketing campaign? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: B2C

How to Choose a Domain Extension for Your International Web Properties

Many ecommerce or content websites with mass appeal have a global audience, even if they are intending to focus on just one country. However, depending on your product or content you might want to go the extra step and intentionally target international users. The decision to focus your site on an international audience is a big leap forward and there are many logistic and technical complexities to work through.

In addition to issues around language choices and translations, there are also some big SEO and brand requirements, including exactly what domain to use for your international presence.

ccTLD Recommended for Users and Search Engines

Any authoritative international SEO guide will elaborate on the differences between the options of subdirectory, subdomain, and country-code top-level domain (ccTLD). One of the most recommended suggestions is for a site to opt to use a ccTLD (e.g. as the domain extension. On Google’s list of what they use to determine the country targeting, the ccTLD ranks even higher than Geotargeting settings in Webmaster Tools and server location.

For the curious, HREFlang only appears in the closing paragraph in their guide. This is because HREFLang is a way of showing which piece of content Google should prioritize once they have made the decision to rank a domain for a specific location. ccTLD and other localization hints are what tells Google that there is any location relevance.

Why ccTLD?

Aside from the documented search benefit, the other reason for the ccTLD recommendation is user experience. A human user would know, even without clicking into a site, that a site that ends with is targeting a user looking for UK content. You may be surprised at how much localization matters even for web only products.

An international user might not have a global credit card or be interested in dealing with a company that does not have customer support in their time zone. As a result, even if your current domain already ranks for competitive queries in search engines around the world, you might still be seeing a lower CTR (click-thru-rate) on the search results page from users who are looking for a local brand. Switching to a ccTLD would negate any click avoidance applied by these users.

Downsides to ccTLD

However, what many of these guides don’t spend a lot of time discussing is how incredibly expensive it can be to purchase and hold thousands of global domain names. While most of the popular generic domains can be purchased for under $20 per year, a country specific domain could cost in the hundreds of dollars before even adding on extras like local corporation registration and the need for a local presence. A Puerto Rican (.PR) domain could cost more than $1000 each year for the registration! Expense might be one of the big reasons many companies decide against a ccTLD strategy, but in the grand scheme of things depending on the benefit from the TLD this might be a small cost to pay.

If you have decided the TLD strategy is the right one for your business, you want to make sure to purchase the TLD that is going to give you the best visibility with local users. Most countries will have TLD’s for organizations, (.org) government,(.gov) education, (.edu) but many also have more than one generic TLD.

For example, in Mexico, there’s a and a .mx. While, it’s probably a good idea to register both, how do you determine which one is your primary and which to redirect?

Which ccTLD’s to Use?

One way is to research what all the major websites in a country do. You could use Alexa’s top domains by country report or you could just visit the websites of the local telecoms, media and other locally well-known brands. If you are short on time, you can just copy what the major global brands have chosen. Surprisingly, there are very few major brands on Alexa’s top 500 domains list that have chosen to use a ccTLD strategy.

It can be argued that most of the top 500 domains have a brand that probably transcends borders. For example, both LinkedIn and Facebook use subdomains to localize beyond the US, but given the size of their brands, it is unlikely they would even see a boost if they absorbed the extra cost to use TLD’s. Similarly, Twitter and Apple uses subdirectories for languages or countries and these companies also likely would not see an upside from using ccTLD’s.

A Template to Copy

Nonetheless, there are still a few major global brands to copy and you can use these as guides to determine which TLD’s to use as the primary domain and which to redirect back to the primary. Rather than visit each domain manually, I took a list of every ccTLD in the world and concatenated it with the words “Google” and “Amazon.” I then appended https://www or http://www as appropriate to make complete URL’s. Finally, I uploaded these URL’s as a list into a web crawling tool.

Insights From This Effort

The resulting crawl is very telling and has many insights:

  • For some TLD’s Google did not bother to put up either a page or a redirect (example: in Bolivia)

  • Some TLD’s have been created by ICANN but are not in use

  • Google missed what might seem like great names like

  • Some domains have 301 redirect to a non-primary domain, others have a 302 and still others will redirect based on your location. Check out to see where it sends you.

  • Amazon does not own

  • Amazon uses only 302 redirects to other domains

Copying other companies should never be a primary business strategy; however, when it comes to appearing local to users and search engines, you probably can’t go wrong by copying Google.

Even if Google made the wrong choice when they set up their global domains, you can bet that having Google on a particular TLD is a strong vote of confidence for that extension. To give you a head start I put the list of all global TLD’s as well as the crawl results for Google and Amazon in a public Google Sheet. Feel free to make a copy and good luck!

Source: B2C

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

How to Turn Your Business Blog Into a Publisher

pixelcreatures / Pixabay

Regardless of the products or services you sell, your goal likely boils down to one objective: solving customers’ problems. Since this single goal unites nearly all businesses, many companies have turned their business blogs into publishing powerhouses.

Take QuickSprout, for example. It’s a company that sells a software program that helps brands maximize their marketing efforts. However, in addition to selling this product, the company also has developed a well-trafficked blog that publishes new information daily. Some of the articles exceed 10,000 words, and none of them includes a heavy-handed sales pitch.

Why should businesses become publishers?

Today, when consumers fire up Google and type in search queries, they’re typically looking for answers to questions. At the top of the sales funnel, they don’t yet know what product or service they want to buy. Instead, they’re educating themselves.

When businesses can tap searchers at the top of the sales funnel, they can create brand loyalty and boost conversions down the road. The consumer can find information as well as products or services in the same place.

Let’s say you’re shopping for a blender. First, you want to know what type of blender you need. You might type something like this into Google: “best blenders for smoothies.”

Look at the other side of the coin. If you’re an e-commerce company that sells blenders, you could create a blog post titled “How to Choose a Blender for the Best Smoothies.” The consumer who searches for related terms will find your blog post—and your products, as well.

Instead of giving a sales pitch, you’re educating the consumer. This information can help shoppers remember your brand in the future.

What differentiates a business blog From a publisher?

You might have a typical business blog now. Maybe you publish announcements about events you’re attending, products you’re launching, and similar content.

However, you could turn your blog into a publisher by expanding the types of content you post. Some of the best options might include the following:

  • How-tos: Walk the reader through the steps required to reach a goal or solve a problem.

  • Listicles: Using the blender example, you could write a post on the top 12 features to look for in a blender or even the six best blenders on the market.

  • Video: Engage viewers visually with well-produced videos that demonstrate how to solve a problem or reach an objective.

  • Infographics: Turn lots of hard data into an easy-to-scan visual image that readers will share within their communities.

  • Opinion: Take a hard stance on a controversial issue. Write a well-reasoned editorial piece for your blog.

Instead of writing blog posts that try to sell customers your product or service, you provide useful, actionable, or entertaining content that gets shared through email, social media, and other channels.

Visit the GoPro blog, for example. You won’t find many promotional articles in its timeline. Instead, you’ll see visually stunning content—often based on user-generated media—that sucks in the reader and encourages engagement. Since GoPro sells camera equipment, it primarily uses video and still images to anchor its content.

How can you turn your business blog into a publisher?

Now that you understand the difference between a regular blog and a publisher, how do you bridge the gap?

Choose a CMS

First, you’ll need a publishing platform. Consider a user-friendly content management system (CMS) that enables you to publish different types of content, such as text, video, and images.

You’ll also need to customize the blog design. Make it as inviting and reader-friendly as possible. Working with a professional designer can help you achieve the unique look you need and ensure that it aligns with your existing brand.

Create an editorial calendar

Start writing down content ideas, and slot them into dates so you know when they will go live. My content ideas from competitors as well as from businesses in other industries. What types of content do they publish? Which pieces do you love (and which do you hate)? The answers to these questions can inform the future publishing strategy for your business.

Try to prepare a list of content ideas that will stretch across at least 30 days. That way, you’ll build toward a specific goal.

You might want to start with a niche topic. For instance, if you sell blenders, you could write a series of content on recipes for blenders. Tie them all together with a content curation post that links out to all the articles you’ve published on the topic.

Post consistently

You can choose your posting frequency, but once you decide, stick with it. For instance, don’t publish five new articles one week, then only one new piece the next week. You want your readers to know when to expect new content. Otherwise, they might not come back.

You also want to make sure that your content is both timely and relevant. While you can plan content weeks or months in advance, don’t hesitate to jump on a topic that might garner more attention for your brand. Scan the latest news headlines for current events, and pay attention to social media.

Delegate tasks

You can’t run a one-person newsroom. If you try, you won’t have any time to devote to other tasks.

Consider hiring professionals for copywriting, image sourcing, and other tasks. That way, you can keep posting useful or entertaining content while still promoting your products or services through other channels.

You can also venture into social media. Consider assigning one member of your team to this task. He or she can post links to your content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other channels. Additionally, your social media expert can post original content on those platforms to continue to engage users.

These days, brands can become publishers overnight. If you want to get more attention from your target audience, publishing high-quality content can boost conversions and sales quickly. Follow the above tips to transform your business blog into its own publishing entity.

Source: B2C

Stop Confusing “Objections” With Concerns

cuilei2016 / Pixabay

Almost every traditional book on sales methodologies has a section on overcoming objections. The techniques proposed often seem to be manipulative and self-serving. They often come across like an attempt to outwit the customer.

The problem lies in our choice of words. When someone “objects” to something, they are expressing disagreement, disapproval, refusal or opposition. The language is inherently confrontational. We’re applying the wrong mental model when we label our customers’ legitimate questions as objections – and we’re making it harder to deal with them.

Because, most of the time, our customer’s “objection” isn’t actually a statement of disagreement, disapproval, refusal or opposition – it’s simply an expression of an unresolved concern…


Let’s face it; it would be surprising if any person or organisation, facing a significant buying decision, didn’t have some concerns. In fact, if they didn’t express any concerns, we might wonder whether they were fully engaged in the process.

And it’s surely better that our prospective customer’s concerns are openly expressed rather than kept to themselves. When we think of an “objection” as something that needs to be confronted, we’re less likely to seek them out than if we think of them as natural concerns that need to be addressed.

So encouraging our customers to articulate their concerns is a helpful strategy. It helps us to understand more about their decision making process, and the stage they may have reached in their buying journey.


More importantly, it opens up a broader conversation. When we talk in terms of objections, we tend to narrow our thinking to dealing with their negative or ambivalent feelings about our company, our solution or our offer. But those are just a fraction of the factors that could derail a project.

Their concerns could include how they might achieve consensus with their colleagues on the decision team, how they can be confident that the project they are championing will deliver the expected results, or how they can persuade their organisation to fund their project ahead of other competing investments.

They might be concerned about the impact of the decision on their staff or colleagues, or on their own reputation as a competent manager and a safe pair of hands. They might be concerned about whether they actually need to change anything, and whether they might be better off sticking with the status quo.


Here’s the problem: if we continue to embrace a narrowly-focused, objection-handling mindset, the chances are that we will never uncover many of these concerns, or be given the opportunity to help our prospective customer to resolve them.

You see, most of the time, it’s not the objections that we get told about that kill us: it’s the concerns that we fail to address that prevent us from winning what might otherwise have been a mutually successful and profitable project.


As well as helping us deal more effectively with an active sales opportunity in its current phase and form, proactively uncovering and resolving concerns can also help us to learn how to run more effective sales campaigns.

If we can anticipate, uncover and address commonly-expressed concerns earlier in the sales process, we can resolve them before they unnecessarily delay an opportunity in the its later stages. If we can pre-emptively raise and address common concerns before the customer recognises or articulates them we can reinforce our position as a truly trusted advisor.

And by thinking of our role as resolving concerns rather than handling objections, we end up adopting an entirely more productive, non-confrontational and collaborative mindset in our relationship with our existing and prospective customers.

So – think back to the last sales training course you put your sales people through. Review your current sales enablement materials. Do they talk about handling objections or about uncovering and resolving concerns? If it’s still mostly about handling objections, you may be sending your sales people out armed with entirely the wrong mental model.

And that’s something you should certainly be concerned about…

Source: B2C

Working with Empathy

empathy at work

While it’s general policy to train your team in the technical elements of their job, you may be leaving out a crucial component; empathy. You probably already know empathy is not something that comes naturally to everyone, yet this skill is essential to a modern, conscious business.

Without empathy skills, conflicts can flare up from simple misunderstandings. Lack of empathy can lead to isolation and alienation, divisiveness within a team, highlight diversity issues and cause a brand to make catastrophic errors that alienate the customer base.

I’m pretty sure you can think of more than one social media example of how a brand simply did not understand their user-base and suffered for an unconscious tweet or Facebook post!

The ability to step into the shoes of co-workers and customers allows us to earn trust, loyalty, and understanding. This makes us much better communicators.

If a team is feeling disconnected, it may simply be a lack of empathy for the team, the company goals, or the leadership. When we feel misunderstood we can grow defensive and wary of taking risks or making decisions. We may isolate ourselves or disengage from the company. But, with a culture of empathy, these disagreements can be talked through with reason and compassion, and without a feeling of risk. Productivity blossoms.

In his book, “Brainstorm: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Brain” Daniel Siegel shares ways to understand the brain science of the adolescent brain, enabling parents and children to turn conflict into connection. It certainly applies to business relationships too.

All is not lost, empathy can be learned

Empathy training can dramatically improve the work environment, increasing creativity, collaboration and understanding of the needs of the team and our customers. It can also significantly reduce the need for those endless meetings and conference calls! A team that understands itself well communicates more effectively and efficiently.

Through training, people begin to see beyond their own point of view, recognize emotional triggers that get in the way of clear communication, and develop ways to respond more skillfully. When we learn to see those triggers and manage our emotions around them, we can build solid relationships. We can work with these simple techniques to listen more effectively through active listening, be fully present in conversations, and understand more clearly.

Putting Empathy to Work – Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

Doing the work

The slides above are from my “Empathy at Work” workshop, geared toward bringing the team together, communicating and relating to each other in a way that fosters trust, and encourages open dialog. We work through practices that can be brought into any workplace, as well as school and home, and I provide scripts for commonly encountered scenarios to practice. If we do the work we will be rewarded, no matter what role we play in life.

Source: B2C

Reviving Your Old Blog Posts (Part 2)

Today, I’m continuing my series about reviving your old blog posts. If you missed the introduction, read it here. Before we dive into step one, I’d like to share a quote from an expert thought leader, Neil Patel.

“If you’re not driving traffic to your old blog posts, you are slashing your ROI dramatically.”

So let’s dive into the first step to start driving traffic to your old blog posts….

Step 1: Look at Your Stats

You’re ready to revive some old blog posts, but you’re not sure which ones you should tackle first. If you’ve been blogging for a while, there’s quite a back catalog of posts and I’m sure most of them could use some attention.

Reviving Your Old Blog Posts The worst thing you can do is look at them all, get overwhelmed by the sheer amount of work involved in making everything better and give up.

I also don’t want you to randomly pick one post, give this a try and see little or no results. After all, the whole point of reviving old blog posts is to make them relevant and then get more traffic to them, gain new readers and build a larger audience – without having to write fresh content.

With that in mind, we want to pick some posts that are getting a decent amount of traffic and work on those first. They will have the biggest impact the quickest.

To do that you want to look at your website stats. Do you have a tracking program installed? Chances are that your web host is running some default tracking for you, and while that’s better than nothing, you want to make sure you’re getting good data.

If you haven’t already done so, install Google Analytics on your blog. It’s free, very powerful and super easy to add. For my readers who are not familiar with it, I’m including a brief description.

What is Google Analytics?

Reviving Your Old Blog Posts Google Analytics is one of the many services offered by the search engine giant Google. It is primarily a resource which Internet marketers and webmasters or companies owning websites can use to measure the performance of their sites using statistics.

The statistics record every activity to, on and from the website which helps you know exactly how your website is performing. This powerful resource is immensely helpful to bloggers.

Setting up your Google Analytics account is very simple and the entire process can be over in a few minutes. This is a tutorial on YouTube to walk you through the sitting up your account.

Using Google Analytics

Once you have Analytics up and running, wait a few days to collect some useful data and then come back to this.

Look at your stats and figure out what your most popular posts are. You can do this in Google Analytics by going to “Behavior à Site Content à All Pages”. That will give you a list of pages (or posts if it’s a blog) on your website ranked by how often they were visited.

Using Analytics on Social Media Platforms

If you don’t have enough website traffic to make a judgment but have been using social media to promote your posts, you can check those stats.

Facebook – click Insights – Posts – All posts published

Twitter – Left click – Profile Picture – Analytics

LinkedIn – Company Page – Analytics à Visitors

Browse through these pages and make a list of between five and ten older blog posts to use in the next step.

Step 2 – Pick Your Blog Posts

Reviving Your Old Blog Posts Grab that list of popular blog posts from step 1 and take a look at them. Does one of them stand out to you?

Maybe it’s a post that doesn’t need a lot of work. Maybe you are looking at a post and you’re already getting ideas for things you can do to improve it. Or maybe you have the perfect product to promote in one of the posts.

How you choose the first post to work through is entirely up to you. Pick something that sounds interesting, fun or profitable. Got it? Great.

If you are feeling ambitious, go ahead and make a list of posts you want to work on over the coming days and weeks. I find it helpful to have a list with the post title, the URL, and notes about what changes I need to make.

A spreadsheet works really well for this. I’m including the one I use in the download area. Feel free to use it, or come up with your own.

Over the next few steps, we’ll

  • update the content

  • work on formatting to make the posts easier to scan and read

  • pretty it up with some images

  • make sure it is easy to share via social media

  • and of course, monetize it

These are the types of things you want to make notes on in your spreadsheet or notebook.

That’s about all the planning we need to do. Just make sure you can log into your website interface – most likely that will be your WordPress dashboard – and edit those posts.

Source: B2C

The Pros and Cons of Content Syndication

Marketers are always looking for new ways to reach more people, which is why content syndication sounds so attractive. Who wouldn’t want some extra help generating more traffic? But this is the internet, so it’s never quite that simple.

Content syndication is like sitting at the cool kid’s table at lunch and hoping that your other classmates start to see you as cool too…in a manner of speaking. But just like school lunchroom hierarchy, one wrong move and you can be the outcast of the internet world.

So before you get started, take your time exploring syndication opportunities in your industry, and make sure you have a solid understanding of both the pros and cons.

What is Content Syndication?

Different people mean different things when they talk about content syndication, so let’s stick with this definition from Search Engine Watch: content syndication is “the process of pushing your blog, site, or video content out into third-party sites, either as a full article, snippet, link, or thumbnail.” There are many sites that exist for this purpose alone, for examples check out Business 2 Community, eLearning Industry and Social Media Today.

bykst / Pixabay

Most digital-centric industries will have a few of these types of sites specifically for your niche that you can leverage, but you can also capitalize on bigger sites like Medium, Linkedin Pulse, Quora and Reddit to get your content in front of a larger audience.

When done right, content syndication can be a useful tactic as part of a larger content strategy, but there are some important considerations to take into account.

Visibility and Potential Viewers

Pro: Time is a precious commodity, especially for marketers. Content syndication is a great and easy way to get access to a larger audience with little work on your part. Syndicating your content will put you in front of an audience that might not otherwise know you exist. Look for a site where your prospective clients hang out, preferably one with a strong social media presence so they are able to promote you on multiple channels.

Con: Not all websites are reputable – some can even be spammy. This is where it is essential to do your research. Check forums, social media, and knowledgeable sources to ensure that you only syndicate on sites that are relevant to your business. If you are not familiar with a syndication site, I recommend signing up for email notifications to get to know them. See what type of emails they send out and review the content they are publishing. You want to make a good first impression on your readers so avoid sites that create spam.

Search Engine Optimization

Pro: When posting your content on a site that has higher authority than your own, Google will give you a boost in ranking as well. Be sure that the posting agreement you reach with the syndication site allows for inline links and an author byline that link back to your website and to your social profiles to drive traffic that way as well. Remember that each inbound link from a credible website is seen as a vote in favor of your site.

Con: Your duplicate content could outrank your own site because the syndicated page has higher authority. Google does not like duplicate content and could potentially lower your ranking because of it. There are ways to avoid the double content hit, like by not indexing one of the listings. Check out this great resource from Moz for more information about how to avoid duplicate content penalties on your website.

Lead Generation

Pro: Syndication is one more way to increase the chance that a qualified prospect finds you. Just be sure that you have a system to track and capture leads generated through syndication so you can analyze and report which channels and sites are driving the best results.

Con: Because these leads are removed from your website, it may be harder to convert them the same way you would for leads on your website. Be open to adjusting your syndicated content to high-level offers that will convert even when the viewer doesn’t know anything else about your company.

Just remember, when forming syndication relationships, as Ann Hadley says, “our online words are our emissaries; they tell the world who we are.” So make sure your online content is being shared by the right people that have your best interests at heart and where syndication makes the most sense.

Source: B2C