A few months ago, we started a weekly roundup of curated stories called The Whitelist. It wasn’t a hit, so we’re pivoting.
It’s been a good opportunity to examine the content we create. It’s also a very transparent marketing lesson. We had an idea, it didn’t work and now we are re-purposing the content for something else. Below, you’ll find all of the stories we included the roundups … more than 50 of them. I hesitate to call it a failure since we learned a few important lessons about what Vero readers want. With one less article to write each week, we now have more time to create the content we know you guys love.
These articles mostly focus on email marketing, conversion optimization, copywriting, content and social media. There are a few off-topic articles but everything here is relevant and valuable to any email marketer.
As we find new must-reads, we’ll add them here so you may want to bookmark this page.
It’s easy to love Alex Turnbull’s candid stories on all-things startups. Failure can be difficult thing to write about but Alex pulls it off beautifully in this post.
Seeing blog posts nearly every day about how a company doubled, tripled, or quadrupled their results with the simple flick of a switch – even on this very blog – can make it easy to believe that such a button exists.
But one of the hardest lessons that I’ve had to learn as an entrepreneur is that, try as I might, I can’t find that button.
And I likely never will.
What we don’t see when we look at those “big win” case studies is the hundreds (sometimes thousands) of tests that had to completely flop before success happened “with a simple test.”
It’s nice to see a well-regarded publication like the New York Times cover our industry. The more crowded social networks like Twitter and Facebook get, the article reports, the more valuable curated email newsletters become.
“Email is dismissed as something old people use,” said Gideon Lichfield, global news editor at Quartz. “But in the past few years, we have started to see email as a peer to publishing platforms like Twitter, Facebook and the web, one that has its own strengths and weaknesses that we are starting to figure out.”
Your business will never reach its potential if you don’t understand who your customers are and what makes them tick. A great post from Jennifer Havice on the ConversionXL blog.
When was the last time you took a long hard look at what makes your customer base tick?
Think customer personas – those detailed representations of the different segments of your target audience. Fueled by data driven research that map out the who behind the buying decisions of your products or services, customer personas can help inform everything from more effective copy to product development.
If you answered “it’s been awhile” or “never,” you need to keep reading.
Some great reminders from Neil Patel. If you’re frustrated with your marketing, get back to basics with these tips.
- Blog to help, not to sell – most people blog to gain visitors and to convert them into customers. People are smart, and they’ll see right through that. Blog to help educate your visitors. Eventually, they’ll want to give you money without you even asking for it. Just look at what someone emailed me today: “This is Alice, founder of [WEBSITE], an art and culture blog that is now at 4 million uniques/month. You helped us tremendously in the beginning, and I can’t thank you enough for your valuable advice. I’d like to see if you could help us get to the next level. Would love to work with you if you’re available.”
- Give away guides – one of the most powerful forms of marketing I’ve ever created is free guides. They are 30,000 to 40,000 words long, and they look beautiful. These guides are this popular because they contain everything I know, and you can have it for free.
- Care about your readers – have you noticed that I respond to every comment? It’s because I care about you. I really do…When I first started blogging, I didn’t realize the benefit of responding to every comment. Now, I know that it helps me build a powerful connection with my readers, who become loyal visitors and even customers.
This post isn’t brand new but it’s definitely evergreen. HelpScout’s Gregory Ciotti talks about how they built a massive email list and exploded their traffic by pairing email and search engine optimization. It’s a great read from one of the best marketers out there.
The Help Scout blog has had a rockin’ first year, and in a paltry 12 months we’ve managed to build up a newsletter of 30,000 subscribers, when tens of thousands of visitors per month (over 100,000 last month).
I’d like to simply distill some of the more important things I’ve learned over these past 12 months and go over the fundamentals of how we made it happen.
Popup ads are often reviled by readers but the simple truth is that they are very effective. We’ve discussed content cannibalization on this blog before but in this post on the ConversionXL blog, Ott Niggulis explores the line between converting and annoying readers.
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Whether you personally love it or hate it, the truth is, sticking a big ole pop-up in their face can be one of the most effective ways to jolt their attention & grab their email for a return visit.
It’s related to a persuasion technique known as the “pattern interrupt,” which is basically when something unexpected happens after the brain has become lulled into a rhythm. You’ll experience this frequently in negotiations, while watching movies & when watching comedians.
In the context of email & content marketing though, it’s particularly effective when the “interruption” proposes to solve the problem that the the reader has been tuned into, or programmed to expect given the nature of the service.
Is your time better spent writing for your own blog or someone else’s? Rand Fishkin calls guest blogging a slippery slop, since you are giving away authority that could be your own. Groove’s Alex Turnbull, however, suggests otherwise.
Advice from founders is invaluable, especially when it’s really off the beaten path. Beth Belle Cooper asked 10 entrepreneurs for their most counterintuitive advice and uncovered some fascinating insights. Here’s an example:
“These days, however, I live without goals, for the most part. It’s absolutely liberating, and contrary to what you might have been taught, it absolutely doesn’t mean you stop achieving things.
It means you stop letting yourself be limited by goals.”
Why wait until tomorrow? Here are some very actionable tips you can put to good use right away.
- Create an inbox swipe file.
- Find every customer touch point.
- Send an A/B test.
- Learn to write better copy.
- Segment your lists.
- Upgrade your toolbox.
If you are looking for tips on creating landing pages that convert like crazy, why not look at one of the most successful companies in the world? Apple uses landing pages not only to sell products but to build hype. This great post by Will Hoekenga on LeadPages explores exactly how Apple approaches landing pages.
Even when you have top-notch products, hundreds of millions of customers, and great design, you can still use copywriting to give yourself an advantage over your competition.
Here’s the deal – this landing page isn’t really designed to get you to buy something right away.
It’s about building excitement.
It’s about legitimate hype.
It’s about craftsmanship.
And it’s about placing you, the customer, squarely in the middle of it all.
There is some seriously valuable advice in this article for brands looking to engage with customers not just on social media, but anywhere. It’s definitely worth a read.
And people on the network are okay with being approached by brands?
The weird thing is that as an industry we’ve got this mindset of, “Oh we’ve got to make something viral. You have to be cute and clever and you have to add cats and make it likable.”
On Reddit it’s almost a throwback, where yes, really good content is really good content, but that’s not really interesting to people. If you have a product, people want to talk shop. They want to ask questions about it, they want a human response from someone about why various choices were made about the product or distribution or things like that. It can be a very focused or product-driven conversation.
For some reason online marketing has moved away from that. And I think that speaks back to the findings of the report, that people want human and they want innovation – they want to talk nuts and bolts sometimes.
Last but not least, take a look at a new way to approach email. We call it lean email marketing, after the now-famous lean startup model popularized by Eric Ries.
The product must be both minimal – requiring the least effort to create – and viable – functional enough that users can provide useful feedback. Rather than spending time and money perfecting a product, the lean approach gives entrepreneurs the chance to get rapid feedback, fail fast and improve quickly.
Since marketers don’t always have quick access to good designers, it’s important to be able to cobble together your own visuals. Luckily, there are some resources that make this really easy. Ritika Puri offers up a list of killer resources in this post.
Good design is important for many reasons, especially conversions. The right colors and images can move readers through a funnel quickly. Bad design can mean lost leads and lost business. Payman Taei breaks it down in this awesome post:
When it comes to optimizing your website for conversions, visual elements on your page play a huge role. By visual, I mean color, images, cues and their placement on your landing or checkout pages.
Because creating compelling visuals isn’t easy, it’s important for marketers to find easy ways to turn their existing ideas and content into something more shareable and embeddable. Enter SlideShare. It’s the YouTube of slideshows and it’s a great way to extend the reach of your content marketing.
Econsultancy added to the design conversion with 11 examples of good and bad CTA design. They also offer some great tips to optimize conversions in your email marketing.
Email remains one of the most effective tools in the digital marketing toolbox, with the potential to deliver a great return on investment.
Data taken from the Econsultancy Email Marketing Census 2014 shows that 68% of companies rate the channel as ‘good’ or ‘excellent’ for ROI.
One of the most important aspects of email design is an effective call-to-action, as it needs to inspire recipients into engaging further with your brand.
Lexi Reodrigo fills us in on AIDA (attention, interest, desire and action) and how to apply this age-old formula to modern email marketing:
You’ll increase your chances of success if you follow a century-old formula that marketers and salespeople have been using since the 1900s. I learned it in university 20+ years ago, and it’s still being taught and applied today. It’s been used for various selling situations, from face-to-face sales presentations to printed sales letters, and now, social media.
We love the Crazy Egg blog because the content is always in-depth and actionable. This post is no different. George Matthew dives deep into personalization and segmentation, two of our favorite topics.
“Personalization is much like a matchmaking exercise with the ultimate goal of pinpointing the best product or service from your catalog that best satisfies your customers’ needs,” says Scott Brave of Baynote in his whitepaper, “The Human Need for Personalization: Psychology, Technology and Science.”
However, according to Scott, that doesn’t mean every individual should be sent unique content. There are smart little ways by which you can send personalized emails with the touch of a few keys.
How can marketers possibly balance personalization with privacy? Personalization, by its very nature, requires data that consumers are increasingly less willing to give. Unless, of course, they 1) trust the brand or 2) are adequately bribed.
Despite the widespread lack of trust most consumers are still willing to share copious amounts of personal information under the right circumstances. Cash, points and deals were the top reasons given for being willing to do so, according to the survey. Nonetheless a striking 42 percent said “nothing would motivate me to share personal information with companies.”
Buffer’s new content crafter Kevan Lee continues to crush it. In this post, he looks at a few sites, including Help Scout and Andrew Chen’s blog, to see how they go about collecting email addresses. The post is loaded with good tips and information, but as Kevan says, it all boils down to great content and calls to action.
We’ve recently pushed email toward the top of our most valued sources, and it doesn’t seem like we’re alone in that. While social media might be the hot place to push your marketing efforts, there are many who choose to rely instead on building a valuable email list. And they couldn’t be happier.
This post isn’t directly related to email marketing but it’s a good reminder that all of our businesses should be entirely focused on a great customer experience. Thanks to KISSMetrics’ Zach Bulygo for the reminder.
The consumer has never had a louder voice. With tools like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and Google Reviews, one unpleasant experience with a business can be shared with thousands of people. This is great for both consumers and businesses. Consumers can research companies and previous customer experiences with a business before they purchase, and businesses that create great customer experiences are more likely to succeed. It’s bad news for poorly run companies, as consumers are about twice as likely to share bad customer experiences.
The only way to improve as a marketer, writer and human being is to continually step outside your comfort zone. This post looks at how marketers can make that happen, along with a few action items to maximize your “performance.”
Have you ever considered that your blog post or email is actually a performance? Think about it: Many people will see and read that post or email. Some will love it, and some might hate it. Still others might be bored by it. The results of your performance are measured in clicks, page views and shares. When you think about it like that, marketing starts to seem really intimidating.
It’s time to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Christopher Ratcliff from Econsultancy just kills it with this post. He explains which words to stay away from when writing subject lines and why they don’t work. Check out the full post for a lot more tips.
Using numbers may help quantify your message, but constant sales and promotion emails can lead to fatigue. Mix it up as much as you can.
Tiresome internet slang
If it hasn’t dated already, chances are somewhere and for someone, it already has: LOL, amazeballs, WTF, derp, FTW, epic fail, epic win, cray-cray, totes, adorbs…
I have so may negative feels towards the above.
FWD: and RE: the artificial adding of ‘Fwd:’ or ‘Re:’ to trick you into thinking this is part of an ongoing conversation you’re engaged with already only creates distrust.
The New York Times understands how to create compelling content – they have been doing that for more than 150 years – but according to a 96-page leaked document known as the “innovation report,” the Times is struggling to distribute and monetize that content.
A digital-first operation requires a completely reorganized workflow. It means integrating digital teams with editors, allowing data and analytics to inform content decisions, and thinking about how content will look and read on mobile as much as desktop and in print.
Taking a look at its competitors, the authors note that it’s this focus on “the dry stuff – tools, workflow and process” that has resulted in BuzzFeed’s explosive growth. Rather than relying on quality journalism to market itself, getting content to lots of people requires baking business interests into the product from the get-go.
This post veers off our normal email beat, but it does a good job of summarizing the incredibly deep and interesting report. We encourage you to give it a read.
This post actually lives up to the billing. Take the table of content as an accurate prelude to what you’ll get in this massive post from Oli Gardner (Unbounce co-founder) on the Moz blog.
- First I’ll give you the only rationale you’ll ever need to explain why landing pages are to marketers, what Immodium is to an astronaut with diarrhea. Essential.
- I’ll prove why context – not content – is king when it comes to conversion.
- Following that, I will make you fall in love with forms. FYI, it’s really, really hard to make form love a “thing”.
- Mid way through we’ll sip some Canadian Club, get our Don Draper on, and learn how to write copy like the Mad Men (and Women).
- “Paint me a pretty picture Johnny!” “Screw you mommy. Design is not just rainbows and unicorns!”
- Is it greedy to want a second helping when you’re an orphan? Not if you have my name. (It’s Oliver in case you’re confused).
- Always ask for more when it comes to conversion .And finally, I’ll put my art critic hat on and rip into some landing page examples, both good and bad.
This post is a beast at 2,300 words but it’s loaded with ideas to make your emails smarter and more effective. Have you ever, for example, who your email is really from?
Every email provider allows its users to dictate who emails come from, but who is your email really from? Not only do you need to consider the person sending the email, but you also need to understand exactly what your users will see before they open your message. This includes the “from” address and subject line, but it can also include the first text in the email, or even image alt text. If it could possibly show up in a user’s inbox, it needs to be optimized.
Did you know that more people open emails on mobile devices but far fewer actually click? And are you familiar with email “triage”? This report from Campaign Monitor is loaded with insights about mobile email.
Longform content has to be really, really good in order to keep our attention, and The Daily Egg does it right. This 1,500-word post, which is the fifth in a five part series, covers testing landing pages from top to bottom.
To optimize anything, you need to conduct a scientific experiment, carefully analyze the results, select the optimal result, and repeat. If everything is done correctly, the results get better and better over time.
This concept applies very nicely to website design.
A good website design is one that delivers consistently high conversion rates. But even the best websites can increase conversions. You simply need to know how.
The New York Times website is so massive that it’s traffic can be representative of global web trends. In addition to social media, email is one of the main reasons that home pages receive less traffic than ever. Rather than going looking for news and content, people get it delivered to them. Just one more reason to spend extra time developing strategic email newsletters.
This post is more than a year old but after hearing Joanna speak at the Authority conference, I felt it was important to share. She breaks down which words are great for conversion and which words should be avoided at all costs. It’s a great read.
Friction words are words that describe things people have to do – not things people want to do. They cause cognitive friction. Web copy that converts is focused on what people want to do.
This post provides a pretty interesting look at “win-back” email campaigns. It’s a good read overall but I pulled one very important tip from it: Clean your email lists.
Major mailbox providers such as Gmail and Outlook commonly use engagement metrics to decide whether or not a particular sender should be considered as a spammer.
Furthermore, if a former user hasn’t logged into their mailbox for an extended period of time then providers sometimes turn them into ‘spam traps’.
If marketers consistently send messages to spam traps then it’s a sign they aren’t cleaning their email list, which is another warning signal that they might be a spammer.
In order to avoid being incorrectly labelled as an evil spammer, marketers should consider using win-back email campaigns on lapsed subscribers before ultimately scratching them from their database for good.
The fabulous Lexi Rodrigo wrote this post for the Vero blog this week. It’s loaded with great information – backed by studies, reports and surveys – about how to craft a perfect sales pitch in your emails. Read the full article for more gems like this:
Does the location of a CTA within your email make a difference in click rates?
In this study, Canopy Labs compared the performance of CTAs placed in different locations in an email and found that a CTA at the bottom of an email outperformed CTAs placed on the left or right side of an email.
A number of studies prove that images in blog posts and social media can increase click-thru rates and sharing. But what about email?
A look at our own data indicated that emails with images had a 42 percent higher click rate than emails without. This list of free image sources, curated by Buffer’s Courtney Seiter, can be just as useful for your email marketing as it can your content and social media efforts.
Nearly every image created in the last 30 years is still protected by copyright-a protection that gives virtually every author the exclusive right to use or reproduce their work. But you can find a public domain photo, use a Creative Commons image that might need attribution or even create your own image from scratch.
We’ll explore all of these and then some in this post about free image sources.
Tommy Walker from ConversionXL has a way of articulating complex growth strategies in a way that anyone can understand. He dug through a number of reports and studies to explain exactly how and why businesses should be paying close attention to their onboarding process. There are plenty of examples and action items … don’t miss this one.
Just so I’m clear, when I’m talking about “Email Onboarding”, I’m not talking about newsletters or batch & blast messaging that asks me to read your latest blog post.
What I’m talking about is creating a narrative in the inbox that – best case scenario – seamlessly transitions me from “lead” to “customer” and “customer” to “evangelist” by acknowledging how I interact with the stuff you send me and adjusting itself accordingly, made possible by trigger & behavioral based email rules.
We love hacks, so it’s not surprising that we really liked Zach Bulygo’s post on subject line hacks on the KISSmetrics blog. These tips are straightforward, simple and potentially very powerful. Keep this bookmarked for the next time you are struggling with a subject line.
There is no such thing as the perfect subject line. As a marketer, you need to test your subject lines and see which ones get the most opens. (Now, clearly, getting people to open your email is only one part. After that you need to get them to click or tap on something in the email.) But you’ve won half the battle if you can get them to open the email.
36. What is spam?
Seth Godin, the father of permission marketing, offers a philosophical explanation of spam. In short, spam destroys trust. Read on to see how to earn trust and keep it.
Spam is in the eye of the beholder, and so my definition of permission marketing kicks in: If the person you’re communicating with would have missed you if you didn’t show up, you have permission. On the other hand, just because you know someone’s email address or phone number, just because you have figured out how to automate a captcha or hack a discussion board doesn’t mean you’re welcome there.
I had never heard of the Weigel distribution but it’s application to content marketing is spot on. Basically, the longer a visitor stays on your site, the less likely they are to leave. The principle is simple but getting those visitors interested in the first place isn’t easy. Nate Munger breaks it down with plenty of examples and tips.
It just so happens 99% of websites follow a negative Weibel distribution; the longer a person stays on a site, the less likely they are to leave.
The steep portion of this graph is that first 10 to 20 seconds a visitor uses to decide if a website is worth their time. If you can get them past that initial quick, harsh judgment, your chances of keeping them for much longer increase dramatically. That’s the flat part of the Weibel curve.
If you can keep them for 30 seconds, you’re almost as likely to keep them for 2 minutes or more.
The latest Whiteboard Friday video from Rand Fishkin touches on so many of the challenges that content marketers face. It’s ten minutes well spent.
This is one of Noah Kagan’s cornerstone blog posts. It is so loaded with good information that you should read it twice.
In the 5 months since my blog launched my email list has grown from 0 to 1,573 subscribers and my web traffic to 19,344 visitors. Today, I’m going to show you exactly how to do the same. Copy what I did, it works.
Kevan Lee offers some ideas that you can test in your email marketing right away. There are some good reminders in here to make sure you are always striving to reach your potential.
To be sure, finding the key to a stand-out message is critical to your bottom line-whether that bottom line is cold, hard cash or community engagement or anything in between. What follows are eight inbox-tested email marketing strategies that successful senders have used to get their emails clicked.
Everyone loves tools. Check out what the smart folks at KISSmetrics are using to grow their own email list.
Your email list is the heart of your marketing strategy. When you write a blog post, the people on your email list will be the first to read it. When you have a webinar, the people on your list will be the first to sign up. And, when you offer a new product, the people on your list will be the first to try it.
This article will show you 67 tools you can use to start growing your email list today.
Email reaches way more people than social media. There are some very actionable tips in this post.
Email reaches three times more people than Twitter and Facebook combined.
Clearly email marketing deserves your time and attention. And like any aspect of marketing, there can be a learning curve to discover the ins and outs and best practices. Hopefully these answers to ten of the most common and important email questions can make the learning curve a little less steep.
Like every ConversionalXL article, this one is loaded with research to prove that the suggested strategies really work.
In this article, we’ll discuss a 3-step framework and 5 strategies to help you keep email engagement up in those first 30 days and beyond.
Along the way, we’ll explore research and relevant case studies to help you get those hard-earned leads back into your marketing funnel.
A friendly reminder from KISSmetrics to keep it fresh and constantly test new ideas.
Approximately half of the marketers who used video in email campaigns saw increased click-through rates, increased time spent reading the email, and increased sharing and forwarding.
Targeting behavior means you are no longer guessing what people want. Save yourself time and money by sending super-targeted emails and retargeting to the right people.
[Let’s] talk about maximizing your email marketing efforts – specifically by using email retargeting to display ads across all mediums, including social, to improve the lifetime value of customers across every channel.
Without a great subject line, no one will ever see your beautiful designs, sparkling copy and killer CTAs. Learn how to nail them every time.
Subject lines are the first thing your recipients see in their inboxes. The subject line is given pride of place and many argue that you should spend almost twice as much time reviewing your subject line compared with reviewing the body of your email. That’s a big call…but nailing your subject line really does pays off.
Promotional email isn’t nearly as effective as transactional email. Here are some ideas to get you thinking outside the box.
Email receipts are the easiest way into an inbox, yet they’re the most underutilized form of email marketing.
A simple conversion funnel just doesn’t cut it anymore.
These days, the customer journey has grown more complex. Before making an online purchase decision, a customer may engage with your brand through many different media channels over several days. This tool helps you explore and understand the customer journey to improve your marketing programs.
You can never spend too much time perfecting your subject lines.
The average business person receives over 100 emails a day. I know that personally, on the commute to work every day, I delete 90% of them, so that my inbox is more digestible by the time I get to work. In short, there’s a lot of crap out there. And despite the promise we all tell ourselves to unsubscribe from all of the emails you don’t want to receive, some companies make you jump through hoops to do this, which is discouraging at best.
So how do you cut through the clutter and make sure your email isn’t one of the ones that get’s dumped right away? Easy, you write a perfect email subject line. Sure, it’s that easy.
There is real science behind the words that make people act. Learn what makes consumers tick and what words can get them moving.
We had a hunch that word choice in email subject lines have a strong effect on response rates. So, we tested 287 keywords across a sample of 2.2bn emails to see which work, and which don’t.
From our own blog, here are some the lessons we’ve learned from our own email marketing efforts.
Using customer actions as triggers, leveraging individual customer profile in emails, embracing mobile email templates and using automated email campaigns to build momentum were all hot last year. Here are 10 practical tips that made an impact in 2013. Make sure you put them to good use as part of your email marketing tactics in 2014.
This is just awesome. A fresh approach and some smart strategy literally saved this business.
In 2010, Circle of Moms was in trouble. Traffic was down 50% and engagement from their 6 million registered users was low. Mike took to email optimization to turn the business around. Mike’s success was first outlined by these 6 focus areas:
- Inbox delivery
- One-item focus
- Subject optimization
- Winners and losers
If you’re this far into the post, you know that big lists are awesome. Here’s a great one from Copyblogger.
Does it feel like a big challenge to get people to open and read your emails? And then to go on to click through?
It doesn’t really need to be so hard. You’re about to learn the most important advice I’ve found for writing emails that get opened, read, and clicked.
No one innovates like Amazon. Here is a closer look at how they use data and testing to kill it with email.
The internet is scattered with stories of Amazon’s fantastic email marketing. Spend some time purchasing from or simply browsing Amazon.com and it’ll only be a matter of hours before you experience their email marketing for yourself (just check your inbox).
Add these to your swipe file.
Because of the difficulty to find good examples on email, we decided to do the scouring for you. What we found were 10 examples of effective email marketing. Read on to find out which emails we chose and get the lowdown on what makes them great – or just keep on scrolling to get a general feel for each.
Remember that the whole idea with email marketing is to increase revenue. No beating around the bush in this article, just great tips for converting leads into paying customers.
What you need to do is empower the user – and one of the best ways to reach them during the trial period is through their inbox. This post will teach you how to harness the power of email marketing to increase your customer activation rates.
This is a fantastic list of ways to grow your email list. We can pretty guarantee there are at least five things on this list you’ve never tried.
Search Google for “email marketing tactics” and you get pages and pages of posts showing how to use pop-ups, sidebar sign-up forms and giveaways to grow your email list. This is not one of those posts.
Instead, we’ve dug far and wide to find the email marketing strategies that are just plain brilliant, ones we wished we’d thought of ourselves.
More great things are being written every day so we’ll make an effort to update this list now and then. Have an article you think should be featured here? Email me.