Archive | July 2017

3 foundations of a stellar content marketing strategy

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By Amanda Colocho 

A lot goes into creating and implementing an effective content marketing strategy.

Keeping content fresh, interesting and engaging is important if you want readers coming back, but many components on different platforms can help guide audiences to more of your content and increase click-through rates.

Here are a few of those elements, broken down by platform, to help keep content reader-friendly, navigate your target audience and generate more leads. Whether you’re capturing leads through offers or raising awareness through blogging and social media, don’t miss out on simple opportunities to optimize what you create:

1. Start by blogging.

Blogging frequently drives traffic, improves SEO and fosters a connection with your target audience. Don’t forget these simple components to increase user-engagement and navigate blog visitors:

  • Headline and headers. The headline is the first thing people see, so keep it catchy and concise. Headers organize and divide sections of the copy, helping readers quickly find what they’re looking for.
  • Meta description . This brief summary of your blog post should include commonly searched keywords and phrases surrounding the blog topic. Google search automatically cuts off the description after 160 characters, so keep your description to the point.
  • Hyperlinks and calls to action . Once someone has clicked to read your post, keep them clicking. You can navigate users on a blog post by including a reference and linking to older blog posts. In addition to links throughout the post, include a visual CTA for offers that will help capture leads or ask readers to join a subscription.
  • Categories . If you haven’t already done so, create categories for your blog. Tag each post to help organize blog posts in the archive. If a potential customer clicks to read a blog about “blogging,” they’re probably interested in your other posts on that topic.
  • Visuals. Use images to complement your post. Depending on the length, sprinkle in additional images and graphics that include stats or serve as an example.

2. Optimize your website’s landing pages and offers.

Guides, how-to columns, e-books, worksheets, metrics and trend reports—the list of content offers goes on and on. What do they have in common if you’re following a strategic inbound marketing campaign? They’re all available as gated content through landing pages.

[RELATED: Join us at Microsoft, and learn tactics and strategies to conquer all your biggest communications challenges.]

These content elements will encourage landing-page visitors to take action and move toward buying something:

  • Headlines . Like your blog posts, the headline on a landing page should grab attention immediately and inform readers what the offer, product or service is about.
  • Sub-headlines . These should use persuasive language and inform visitors why the offer will benefit them.
  • Visuals. Pictures and graphics should be large and relevant to your offer. Step it up by creating a custom graphic that includes information about the offer.
  • Form . The purpose of the landing page is to collect valuable information in return for your offer.
  • Calls to action on the Thank You page . When someone has acted to receive your offer, offer more content. Some options to consider include linking to related blog posts to keep them clicking through the website or inserting another CTA for a related offer.

3. Share content on social media.

Once you’ve crafted optimized, must-read blog posts and landing pages, it’s time to share them online. Follow these tips:

  • Spreading and differentiating catchy copy. Luckily, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn auto-populates the header and image; the downside is you can no longer use the same headline as that on the social media post. So be sure to use more attention-grabbing language in the copy of your social media post that’s different from your header.
  • Tagging. If a person, organization or business is the subject of your blog, start tagging. Tag the business, their personal account and anyone else you may have mentioned or referenced. This will prompt them to share it with their network, getting more eyes on your blog.
  • Hashtag. Before going on a hashtagging spree, type it into the social platform’s search box to see how popular it is. Chances are there are multiple variations of a hashtag you are trying to use, so go with the versions that have the most mentions.

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Your Rankings Have Dropped – 10 Things to Do Now

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Step 1: Check the ABCs of Your Site

In deploying and monitoring keyword performance, it can be all too easy to focus on advanced strategies while underestimating the importance of the ABCs of on-page SEO.

Why stress about anchor text ratio, link velocity, or citation optimization, when the answer to your rankings problem could be an easy fix directly on your site?

Does your site return a 200 status code?

200-series status codes indicate that your site can be communicated with successfully. The standard 200 OK status code indicates a successful HTTP request.

Use a free tool like HTTP Status Code Checker to confirm that your site is returning a successful request. If not, you can troubleshoot based on the failed status code, like 404 (page not found) or 410 (page permanently removed).

HTTP Status Code Checker

Can bots crawl your site?

Robots.txt is a text file located in the top-level directory of your web server that instructs bots on how to interact with your website. Within the file, you can set inclusions and exclusions to your heart’s content, for instance disallowing bots from crawling a dev site or indexing duplicate pages.

Have you accidentally set the restrictions too tightly, preventing search bots from crawling any of your main pages? Double check the robots.txt file using Google’s free Robots Testing Tool – if you spot anything amiss, upload a more permissive file to the server.

Step 2: Check SEO Basics

While basic SEO elements are declining in importance as a search engine ranking factor, they still have an influence. Check that basics like title tags, meta descriptions, and headings aren’t holding back your rankings.

Do you have optimized home page title and meta tags, and do they display correctly in search results?

Your home page’s title tag represents a massive yet simple opportunity to tell search bots what your page is about. If it’s generic, or if it’s failing to pull properly, it can affect your rankings.

While its companion meta description doesn’t directly affect SEO, a relevant, persuasive meta can improve click-through rates.

SEJ Search for Algorithm Update

You can customize title and meta tags within in the head section of your site’s HTML. If your site runs on WordPress, install a free plugin like Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack to easily manage titles and tags across your site.

Does your homepage have an optimized H1 tag?

In addition to the info you provide in the title tag, the main heading lets users know the main purpose of the page. However unless it is contained an H1 tag, search bots won’t be able to differentiate it from the rest of the content on the page.

Search Engine Journal H1 Example

Check your site’s code to ensure a single, relevant H1 is being used on each page.

You would be surprised how often rankings drops are caused by one (or more) of these essential elements. Fix the problem, and search performance will improve in kind.

Step 3: Check for Google Algorithm Updates

Now that link algorithm Penguin and quality algorithm Panda are part of Google’s core algorithm and updated in real time, you always have to be on your toes about how small tweaks can affect your rankings. Take a look at SEO news sites and follow influencers like Danny Goodwin, Barry Schwartz, and Google’s Gary Illyes to stay on top of breaking developments.

If you can’t find concrete information, do a search on Twitter. If you see other webmasters panicking, it’s a sure sign something has been adjusted.

If you’re doing things the right way – think in-depth content, clean and intuitive site layout, fast load times – don’t stress about rankings fluctuations due to algorithm updates. You’re doing it right and will be rewarded in the long run.

Twitter Search for Google Algorithm Update

Step 4: Check Google Search Console

As opaque as algorithms can be, Google is clear about what they expect from a website. Follow their guidelines and action their feedback for improved search performance.

Google Search Console is a free service provided by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and optimize your site’s visibility in search results.

Check GSC to see if there are any crawl errors interfering with the indexing or visibility of your site. Do you see DNS errors, server errors, or URL errors? Navigate to Crawl > Crawl Errors so you can address any offending issues one by one. Once complete, mark as fixed.

Google Search Console Errors

Through Google Search Console, you can submit an XML sitemap that charts the structure of your site. Once loaded, check to see if there is a discrepancy between the number of URLs submitted and the number of URLs indexed by Google.

If the numbers don’t add up, it is possible important pages are being blocked from search bots. Crawl your site with a scanning software such as Screaming Frog, which will zero in on the issue.

Google Search Console Sitemap

In your Search Console Preferences, be sure to check “Enable email notifications” so you are quickly alerted to any big issues, but make it a habit to check in with Google Search Console on a regular basis before problems have a chance to snowball and affect your rankings.

Step 5: Check Google Analytics

Google Analytics shows if there is a drop in traffic or user metrics like time on page, pages per session, or bounce rate. Did you make any changes to the site content, design, or functionality that coincide? If so, reverting the changes or going in a different direction can help traffic bounce back.

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Google Analytics is a treasure trove of information about how people find your site, how they behave while on your site, and what pain points cause them to leave before completing an action.

For even more insight, segment your audience by mobile and desktop browsers, because they have different intentions and interactions with your site.

Google Analytics Traffic

For more, check out How to Understand User Behavior With Google Analytics.

Step 6: Check Content

Quality content has never been more important. Is your content unique, rich, and interesting? Or is it duplicate, thin, and low value? This can have a major effect on rankings.

Users don’t connect with bad content. While the value of content is mostly subjective, there are a few metrics you can reference. For instance, if users aren’t staying on a page for long or if they are exiting the site without clicking deeper, it indicates that the content isn’t connecting.

If addition to manual analysis of your site’s content, Copyscape and Siteliner are helpful tools to check that your site is original. If any issues with internal or external duplicate content are flagged, you can correct them by rewriting or expanding the content.

Ready to take your content to the next level? Check out 12 Ridiculously Simple Ways to Make Your Content Better.

Step 7: Check Site Speed

Does your site take more than three seconds to load? If yes, you’re behind the curve already. Speed is essential.

Free tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights tell you how fast your page is, and give actionable recommendations to improve load times.

Even blazing fast sites can take it to the next level with optimizations like leveraging browser caching, minifying code, optimizing images, and enabling resource compression:

Google PageSpeed Insights

Find even more info on How to Conduct Quick & Thorough Page Speed Audits.

Step 8: Check Mobile

With Google’s mobile-first index on the horizon, it’s never been more important to ensure your website is clean, intuitive, and provides value to users. Not every element or function that works on desktop makes sense for mobile, and you don’t want to turn away searchers with a clunky, slow, or complicated site.

To see if mobile compatibility could be affecting your rankings, run your site through Google’s free Mobile-Friendly Test. If your site is not considered mobile friendly, this tool will provide recommendations, such as removing intrusive pop-ups or fixing or removing unplayable content, among others.

Google Mobile Friendly Test

Here are 5 Important Tips to Make Your Mobile Design SEO Friendly.

Step 9: Check Backlink Profile

Backlinks are instances of another site linking to a page on your site. Backlinks matter because they prove to search engines that your site matters, says something of value, and is trusted by others.

If you have a small backlink profile, few links from authority sites, or tons of links from spammy sites, it can hurt your ability to rank.

When your rankings drop, it’s always wise to audit your backlink profile to make sure nothing is wrong. Tools such as Ahrefs, Majestic, and Open Site Explorer can show you what sites are linking to you, which pages they’ve linked, and what anchor text is used. They also try to give a sense of how authoritative a linking domain is, based on its own link metrics.

Majestic Backlink Profile

If you see a thin backlink profile, work to build it with proven link building strategies – check out Link Building: 9 Dos and 5 Don’ts for best practices. Spammy backlink profile? Read How to Clean Up Your Bad Backlinks.

Step 10: Check Keyword List

If you’re tracking the wrong keywords, does it matter if your rankings fall?

For instance, say you run a digital marketing agency but stopped providing graphic design services and removed that service page from your site. You’re naturally going to fall for that keyword, and that’s OK.

However, if you start to trend downward for primary keywords that drive traffic and leads, an intervention is needed.

The right keywords should check all of the following boxes:

  • Most highly searched by your target audience
  • Most realistic to rank on Page 1
  • Most likely to result in a conversion

The targeted keywords that make sense today may not be the ones that made the most sense when you started the campaign, so make sure to re-evaluate periodically.

If you aren’t proactive with adding or removing the keywords you are tracking, it can become an echo chamber that distracts you from true rankings success.

If you have a high-value keyword that you’re on page one for but it’s not in your reporting software, you’re missing an opportunity to optimize and hit top position for that term.

SEMRush Screenshot - Keyword Rankings

Ditch the keywords that are unrealistic or won’t result in conversions. They aren’t doing you any favors, and they only cloud the true picture of your search performance.

Instead, strategically monitor high-value keywords that you can dominate with small on-page optimizations like writing new targeted content or tweaking titles, metas, and H1s.

Conclusion

If your site experiences a drop in rankings, you can reverse the trend with small and simple optimizations.

Follow these 10 steps and you’ll likely be alerted to issues you can correct on the spot.

Keep your eye on the rankings and watch them rebound in no time.


Image Credits

Featured Image: Shutterstock with edits by Brock Murray, July 2017
All Screenshots taken by Brock Murray, July 2017

 

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11 Marketing Experts Whose Insights Could Change Your Business

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 1. Hope Horner

Raised in Tennessee,now living in Southern California, Hope Horner has been featured as one of Inc.’s 25 Inspiring Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2017.

Currently the CEO of Lemonlight Media, an emerging video marketing company that’s winning kudos across the nation, Horner has shared her personal insights and stories — many gleaned from her Pepperdine University beginnings and her three startup ventures –through the biggest publishing platforms on the internet, including Entrepreneur and the Huffington Post.

2. Erin Berman

A self-described storyteller and brand strategist, Erin Berman founded Blackbeard Studios after consulting for dozens of startups and traveling to the farthest corners of the globe.

Her fresh insights into company scalability — fostered by effective, contemporary storytelling — have made her a sought-after workshop presenter across the Bay Area. No stranger to Silicon Valley, Berman earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the University of San Francisco.

3.  Roy Raanani

As CEO and co-founder of Chorus.ai, which provides conversation intelligence for sales teams, Roy Raanani combines his engineering background with his passions for sales, customer success and marketing to leverage the power of artificial intelligence.

Raanani has mastered the intersection of technology and marketing science to deliver a new take on targeting audiences and improving the sales process for companies of all sizes. His career has involved creating his own startups as well as advising on strategy and operations.

Related: 10 Online Marketers to Follow for Inspiration and Growth

4. Mihael Mikek

Mihael Mikek is the founder and CEO of Celtra, a creative-management platform that helps companies create effective native and video ads as well as other formats that are targeted and relevant.

His vision led to the development of a pioneering cloud-based SaaS platform that helps the largest global advertisers improve their creative. The company now powers advertising for two-thirds of the Fortune 500 companies and delivers ad experiences in more than 30 global markets per year.

5.  Stacy Durand

Stacy Durand is the CEO of Media Design Group, a media-buying agency that prides itself on meeting audiences wherever they may be.

Durand has said she sees herself as an energetic cheerleader for her company, helping her team stay creative, attentive, energetic and knowledgeable in order to zero in on a company’s target audience with TV advertising in an ever-expanding world of streaming and smart devices.

6. Jørn Lyseggen

Jørn Lyseggen is the founder and CEO of Meltwater, a global leader in media intelligence. In 2008, Lyseggen founded MEST (Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology) in Accra, Ghana, on the belief that talent is everywhere, though opportunity is not.

This belief has been the foundation for MEST, which is working to create work and wealth in Africa through a new generation of successful global software entrepreneurs on the continent.

7. Marcus Sheridan

When Marcus Sheridan saved his floundering swimming pool business after the dramatic economic crash of 2008, the New York Times dubbed him a web marketing guru.

Sheridan’s powerful story of resilience inspired the book Mashable called the No. 1 marketing read in 2017, They Ask You Answer. Lovingly referred to as “The Sales Lion,” Sheridan has displayed a digital marketing acumen that’s becomes internationally well known and has made him a trusted corporate brand advisor.

8. Jay Baer

One Jay Baer keynote is all it takes to understand why this New York Times best-selling author is a hit with audiences and readers. The founder of strategy consulting firm Convince & Convert, Baier consistently delivers trend-worthy and notable content across multiple channels as resources for business executives.

In addition, he’s an active venture capitalist looking for new places to invest.

9. Mari Smith

Mari Smith has become known as a digital marketing expert, training small business owners in the ways of building traffic, subscribers, clients, alliances and targeted media attention. Smith has built these skills over the course of 10 years, with specialties in Facebook and Twitter.

The Canada native travels to the United States  regularly to present keynotes and training seminars and has shared a stage with notable figures like the Dalai Lama, former South African President F.W. de Klerk, and celebrity Paula Abdul.

10. Heidi Cohen

Heidi Cohen is arguably one of the most well-rounded marketers working today. Her expertise is not limited to one domain. From textiles to financial services to entertainment, Cohen has honed her skills into her Actionable Marketing Guide, a blog providing insights on social media, mobile, branding, public relations, and small business.

11. Andy Crestodina

Co-founder and strategic director of Orbit Media Studios, an award-winning Chicago-based web design company, Andy Crestodina specializes in content marketing, social media and analytics. Crestodina seeks to make each topic accessible.

With more than 20 years of keynote speaking experience, Crestodina is consistently named a top presenter at prestigious events, including Content Marketing World’s 2015 conference. He is also the author of Content Chemistry: An Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing, which addresses web marketing and theory in practice.

 

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This Aerial Photographer Took Her Hobby to New Heights With Instagram

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 Natalie Amrossi worked in finance for three years before realizing how social media could help an artist like her make a living.

Peter Kmec courtesy of Natalie Amrossi
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Natalie Amrossi

Natalie Amrossi was exhausted. She’d been up all night shooting photos of luxury cars, and in the morning, she was struggling to brush off her sleepiness — and her thoughts of the photos of Jaguars on her computer, waiting for her to edit them.

She’d been building a following with her Instagram account, @misshattan, for a year at that point. It was then, at age 25, that she decided to resign from her finance job at J.P. Morgan and pour all of her energy into freelance photography. Her lifelong hobby had become her side gig, thanks to exposure via Instagram. But juggling both was becoming overwhelming.

The native New Yorker’s ultimate passion was taking aerial photos: She started on rooftops, which led to an offer to take her first helicopter ride. Breathtaking shots featuring her legs dangling above skyscrapers became a staple of her brand, but she also lent her skills to companies such as Jaguar, Cadillac, Nike and more. As inquiries piled up in her inbox, she became increasingly confident that she could make a living taking photos full time.

Related: How This Physics Student Turned His Passion for Beautiful Landscapes Into Instagram Fame

Three years later, @misshattan is Amrossi’s brand across a variety of social platforms including Facebook and YouTube, but her largest community is on Instagram, where she has 427,000 followers. Her feed is still mostly comprised of Manhattan cityscapes, but she occasionally posts photos of other destinations, such as Hong Kong or Morocco. When relevant, she features her brand collaborations on her account. Her roster of clients includes tech companies such as Google and Apple, alcohol beverage companies such as Heineken and Absolut Vodka and even travel and tourism organizations such as the city of Las Vegas. She views her photography as a way to chase her own dreams while inspiring others to chase theirs.

Amrossi spoke with Entrepreneur about the opportunities for not just photographers, but artists of all types to broaden the reach of their talents using social media.

1. How did you get your start with Instagram?
A friend of mine recommended that I download the app and check it out. I immediately really enjoyed the interaction from people all over the world. I never knew that I could touch people from different parts of the Earth with my photographs. I kept on posting, because the more I would post, the more engagement I would get.

I was working at J.P. Morgan, straight from college, and it was just a side project, just for posting for fun. Then slowly but surely, my following started to grow, and grow rapidly. I guess a year into it, I hit tens of thousands. Different companies would ask me to take photos for them for their social media. So that’s how that started, in terms of starting my own brand and working with other brands as well.

2. What other platforms do you use and what percentage of the time do you spend on them vs. Instagram?
I definitely spend half of my time on Instagram and the other half of my time on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat — YouTube, even, I’m starting to dabble in.

I think YouTube just tells a story differently. The fans on YouTube, also, if they like travel photography, they’re going to really dive deep and really follow up with everything. A lot of people like to watch TV, and now with smart TVs, there’s an app for YouTube where you can easily watch different YouTube channels. It’s adding on to your platform on Instagram to have this full YouTube channel.

I love Instagram stories. I think it’s a great way to show different things on your account without adding them to your feed. I think it’s great for behind the scenes and stuff like that that your fans are really interested in. When I travel or have a photoshoot, I’ll try to get in a few things on my story to give a different perspective of what I’m doing.

3. What makes Instagram a better platform than other social media?
I’m first and foremost a photographer, so just being able to see different photos and different artists inspires me. Just scrolling through my feed or looking at the explore page gets me excited. And I have my own community on Instagram. When I post, I like to interact with my fans from all over the world.

4. How much of your time do you devote to it?
When I wake up in the morning, I tend to just scroll on Instagram, probably for like … (laughs) you know, you get carried away. Like a good 15 or 30 minutes, just scrolling, and then you look at the time and you’re like, “Wow, I didn’t even realize how fast time went.” So, I’d say maybe two hours a day, so 14 hours a week, if I had to make an educated guess.

A lot of the work that I do, I don’t post on Instagram. My followers enjoy the travel aspects of my photos. So if I posted portraits and stuff like that, I don’t think as many people would be as interested than if I posted something of like, an aerial shot of Morocco, or wherever else I’ve been. It’s definitely tricky, because sometimes I’ll post portraits, but the majority of the time, I will post different aerial shots or cityscapes.

With different brand work that I do, depending on the brand, or if I really do love a shot, I post it.

I resigned from my job about three years ago, and at first I was on Instagram heavily. But I think in order to survive as a freelancer, I’m more on the back-end side of things, so I’d say that my time on Instagram has been maybe less than what it used to be. But it varies. It really depends on how busy my week is and what I have going on.

5. How do you promote your account? What’s your number-one way to gain followers?
One is doing Instagram meetups, which are called Instameets, where people who have the same interest in photography go shoot around in different locations. Also, a lot of people on Instagram tend to repost your photos. Their followers see your work, and if they like what they see, they follow you, too. I would post photos of New York from perspectives that not a lot of people would otherwise see, especially my aerial perspectives, and a lot of reposting action is how my followers grew. It could either be just an average person with 1,000 followers that were their friends, or a photography account page with more followers featuring different photographers. That and collaborating with other photographers and taking portraits of each other is another way I grew my followers.

6. How do you engage with others on the platform?
I go into their profile and check out their work and comment. I think the more you engage, the more engagement you’ll get. It connects you differently with your audience, and it’s a fun way to kind of communicate.

There are so many different ways that you can engage with different people, whether it’s commenting on your own photo and just writing back to somebody — if they write a nice comment to you, you could do the same in return. Clicking on a hashtag of a common interest and just commenting on photos that you like and liking different pictures as well as, now you can search different locations, and on the explore page, you can just scroll through. The Instagram algorithm already has posts in there that they think that you would like. So I think that’s another great way to engage with other users.

7. How often do you post?
I try to at least post once a day. But it can go from one post a day to like four or five. It really depends on my time and my mood.

I try not to post too late at night. But, when you start to have a following, you have people from all over the world. So, if you post, let’s say, at 3 a.m. your time, although it might not do as well as it could do if it was earlier in the day, there will still be people liking and commenting on that photo. So that just reaches a different audience, and that reaches audiences in different parts of the world. As long as you don’t let the numbers affect you too much, it’s another way to grow your following.

I know people who, I don’t know if they still do it, but every four hours, they would have a post up there, even if it was, you know, 4 in the morning, they would just keep posting.

8. What’s your content strategy?
I just try to stay consistent. People follow you for a certain reason, and if you just stay consistent to that, then you’re going to grow your following faster.

I do play around with that, and the engagement might not be as strong as what you usually post, but you do reach a different audience and you add to your following growth. I think as long as you stay true to what you like and what you enjoy, other people will follow that.

But there are so many times that I want to post something personal, but I’m like, “You know what? Yeah, some people will enjoy this, some people won’t. But this isn’t true to my brand and what my end goal is, so why post it?”

9. How has your content strategy evolved as Instagram has added features?
Instagram has made it so much easier to communicate with people. If you hold down on their username it pops up with an easy way to reply. In the top right corner, you can send a message easily. Essentially, Instagram is a communication tool.

If I’m traveling abroad — or even if I’m in New York, people come to visit. It’s so much easier to say, “Hey, let’s collaborate together, let’s go take some photos and create more.” It definitely helps with doing that, with the updates.

I’ve met people who were following me and they wanted to host me and take me around. So we’d meet at a location and kind of start there. And you know, that sounds a little creepy, but you get a vibe off people, and once you meet somebody, you can see if you guys have a good connection between each other. That’s happened to me in Dubai, in Hong Kong, in Tokyo — even in New York.

Related: This Former Math Teacher Now Gets Paid to Travel the World and Take Pictures of Her Meals

10. What’s your best storytelling trick?
When I post a photo, I can use Instagram stories to say what happened in that photo or whether it’s in the caption, kind of describe how I was feeling in that photo, as well as, when people comment, replying back and asking questions. You get more of a deeper connection and one-on-one storytelling, and other people can scroll through and view that as well.

11. How do you set yourself apart from others on the platform?
My editing style is different from other photographers. Everybody has their own aesthetic when it comes to editing their photos, so I think that helps tremendously as well as perspective and seeing things in a different light.

I kind of use similar tones within my photos — brightening up the highlights and going with a more colder look, which adds more of a bluish tint to my photos.

I think it’s how you play with the light when you take these photos. The light hits something in a certain way, and with that, you can kind of play with the shadows, make it darker and bring out the highlights and just make the photo more vibrant. With different editing tools, you could bring up certain colors, like oranges and blues, and bring down other colors, like yellows. So, it really depends on your mood. If I edit a photo today and tomorrow at the same time and I feel a different way, the photo will look completely different because of how I feel in the moment.

12. How do you leverage your Instagram and to what extent do you monetize it?
I went to school for finance, and, you know, I wanted to live comfortably, and I never knew that you can make a living as an artist. People think that artists starve, but that’s not necessarily the case. And especially now, with social media, there are so many platforms, and there are so many brands out there that need help in that department in terms of making content for it.

Instagram definitely gave me my initial connections with different brands to start creating for them, and then from there, whether it’s word of mouth or people moving companies and just building relationships or going to events, I think it really does help you meet up with a global brand for social media. There are so many that you can work with. So I think as long as you keep interacting with people and going to events, you can meet more people and work with different brands.

Then there are also brand sponsorships, like I have with Heineken. We’ve been working together for the past six months doing different activations and stuff. But there are many different routes that you can go. I’ve definitely done over 20, 30 sponsorships.

A lot of brands need creators to create for their social media, beyond just Instagram. They need content for their pages, so you don’t even necessarily need to have a huge following to do that. As long as you put yourself out there, there are so many events out there that people want you to go to, if you go and you meet the right people and decide to work together, that’s just a stepping stone to bigger and better things.

Sometimes [I repost the content I create for brands onto my own feed]. If I like the photo enough, then yes. If I think it fits within my aesthetic of my brand, then yes. But not always, because I think it’s important to brand yourself and differentiate yourself from other brands. So, posting other brands isn’t necessarily going to help you accomplish that. It really depends on the brand and it depends on how much you like the photo for your feed.

13. What advice do you have for other Instagram influencers or people who want to build brands on the platform?
Stay consistent, and figure out what you want the vibe of your feed to be and what you want your brand to represent. Stay true to that, and keep posting and engaging and interacting with as many people as possible.

Most of the people that you engage with on social media, they probably won’t be able to help you in any way or give you a job or something. But they do spread your name around and tell their friends about you. The more that you just engage with the opportunities that come up, the more likely it is that you’ll meet somebody who can help you.

Related: How to Become an Instagram Millionaire

14. What’s a misconception many people have about Instagram?
I think people think that it’s really easy, and it really is hard. You really do have to kind of stay focused and stay true to your brand and find different creative ways to collaborate with people on the platform.

For instance, I’m a photographer, and I take these photos. So, a lot of these images, I don’t want them to just live on the internet. I do want people to be able to have these photos hanging up in their homes and stuff like that. I think it’s important to realize that you can build your own business behind that. I set up my own print shop, and that has been super great and helpful for my survival through this freelance photography life, as well as brand partnerships. I think it’s just more of what your end goal is. So, for me, it would be to have galleries and the opportunity for people to purchase the photos.

If you stay consistent and people follow you for a specific reason, when you post that you have a product available, then, whether you have 2,000 followers or half a million followers, those are like your customers for your store. I know people who, for instance, do a lot of lifestyle things and fashion. They’ll have links on their website where you can purchase some of the things that they wear and they get kind of a commission off that. So it really depends on what you want to achieve on social media and what you want your brand to represent.

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How to Check If Your Content Marketing Is Working (Step-By-Step Instructions)

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By: Neil Patel

What does success look like in a content marketer’s world?

There isn’t an easy answer to this question.

Since it’s a question I hear a lot, I’ll tell you something.

Tracking your performance is critical to a successful content marketing strategy.

I’ve heard this statement countless times: “Content marketing isn’t measurable.”

This is a big misunderstanding. You absolutely can measure the ROI of your content.

Why do most marketers neglect this?

Content Marketing Institute revealed that more than 50% of marketers either have zero clarity or are unsure of how effective their content marketing is.

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 1.25.57 AM

That’s kind of disturbing.

However, I’m not entirely surprised.

It’s easy to get fixated on metrics like social shares and comments on a piece of content.

Of course, it is useful to measure the success of content on an individual post level.

But it’s not enough. You only get a small piece of the puzzle.

Content marketing is a big picture strategy.

If you don’t track performance on many levels and across multiple channels, there’s no way you’ll get a holistic view.

In this article, I’ll show you exactly how to measure your content marketing performance in a quantifiable way.

First, let’s talk about what success might look like for you.

What makes a successful content marketing strategy?

There are several variables that you need to consider.

But there is one overarching theme in every successful content marketing strategy.

Some marketers will tell you it boils down to sales or conversions.

But what if you have no desire to monetize your content?

Sure, lead generation tops the list of content marketing goals, but nearly as many marketers simply want brand awareness!  Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 3.16.50 PM

What’s the key to success?

I’m not trying to sidestep the question, but it depends.

Depends on what?

It depends entirely on your business, your audience, and your objectives.

With that in mind, let’s get into how you can measure your content marketing performance based on these business goals.

Part One: Get clear on the mission statement of your content marketing

In simple terms, if you want to know whether or not your content marketing is working, you need first to define what “working” means for your business.

Before you start thinking about what metrics to track, ask yourself the following questions.

  • What type of person gravitates to your content?
  • How will your readers be moved by your content? What will they feel?
  • What actions will these feelings lead to?
  • What transformation will the reader experience upon taking action?
  • How will these actions influence your business objectives?

These questions will set the overall direction of your content marketing strategy and will guide your entire content creation process.

Whatever direction you go, your audience will be the driving force. Eventually, the actions that they take will move important growth needles for your business.

But it all begins with committing to an audience-centric narrative. In fact, 71% of companies who surpass their revenue goals use audience personas.

Screen Shot 2017 07 13 at 12.09.58 AM

How can you use your mission statement to attract a targeted audience?

1. Place your mission statement front and center. Your mission statement should serve as a gateway for all the channels where you distribute content. This includes your social media channels, your website, and every other customer touchpoint.

2. Your mission statement should be aligned with your core objectives. Your audience’s actions will be connected to your marketing funnels. Audience engagement at the top of the funnel should eventually lead to some conversions.

3. Put your mission statement to action. There’s no point in having a mission statement if you don’t use it. Whatever your ultimate goal is, commit to it. If it no longer reflects your business, change it.

Part Two: Analyze your traffic sources

You may have heard the idea that traffic is a vanity metric that shouldn’t be given much attention.I disagree.

Although you’re not creating content for traffic alone, keeping tabs on your traffic sources is a critical step.

Why?

No matter what your ultimate business objective is, you first need to get eyes on your content.

Your traffic breakdown at each audience touchpoint gives a broad indicator of how your content is performing.

Content performance on this broad level may have an impact on your performance across the board.

First, you need to measure your traffic across several channels and see how that traffic relates to your core product or service.

With Google Analytics, this is easy.

Alternatively, you can use a premium tool like Ahrefs, but we’ll focus on using the free option.

Here are six different channels that you should pay attention to.

  1. Social traffic – Visitors who come to your website via social networks
  2. Organic search traffic – Visitors who come to your website by Google search or other search engines
  3. Direct traffic – Visitors who come to your website by typing in your URL
  4. Email traffic – Visitors who come to your website via your email list
  5. Referral traffic – Visitors who come to your website via referring websites
  6. Paid traffic – Visitors who come to your website from paid search campaigns

Let’s get into how you can find this data.

Step #1: Go to Google Analytics to find out where your traffic originates.

You’ll find this information by clicking on the tab labeled “Acquisition.”

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 3.10.02 AM

First, get an overview of your traffic.

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 7.27.49 AM

You’ll see a pie chart displaying your top referring channels.

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 7.22.27 AM

After you have an accurate overview, click on the individual channels to view the traffic breakdown for each one.

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 7.31.02 AM

Create a spreadsheet to track the breakdown of traffic for each channel.

Pay attention to the “Acquisition,” “Behavior,” and “Conversions” metrics for each channel.

You can either export this data from Google Analytics or create a spreadsheet of your own.

Step #2: Tag your email links to get your email traffic data. The links from your email need to be labeled and tagged.

Some email management systems integrate seamlessly with Google Analytics, so you may not have to do this manually.

If you choose to set it up manually, here’s how.

Go to Google’s URL Builder to set specific parameters for the links in your email campaigns.

Your medium should be set to “email” to match your custom segment.

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 8.15.49 AM

From the information that you type in, you will receive a correctly formatted URL.

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 6.40.43 PM

Step #3: Create custom advanced segments to track your email traffic.

Find the tab that says “Personal Tools and Assets.” Click on “Segments.”

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 7.54.33 AM

Create a new segment.

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 7.55.34 AM

Name your segment. Set the medium to “Email.”

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 8.00.06 AM

Now, you’re all set to track the post-click performance of your emails.

Navigate to “Acquisition” as you did in the first step. You’ll be able to see pageviews, bounce rates, and new users under the email medium.

Add this data to your spreadsheet.

Step #4: Track the impact of your offline content marketing efforts on your online traffic.

Now that you have an overview of the traffic for your online channels, what about the offline ones?

Why track offline campaigns at all?

Here’s the thing. Your offline content marketing efforts can funnel into your online traffic stream.

Offline campaigns like in-person events are proven to be one of the most effective marketing channels.

Just take a look at these survey results from Content Marketing Institute.

75% of content marketers say that in-person events are among their most effective B2B marketing tactics!

Screen Shot 2017 07 13 at 12.39.27 AM

You want your data to tell the whole story, so it would be a mistake to leave out this information.

Here are some tips for measuring the impact of offline channels.

  1. Redirect your URLs to make them trackable. Whether it’s a magazine, business card, or video ad, simply attach a tracking code to your call to action links. You can use a platform like bit.ly to do so. This will allow you to segment out visits for that particular channel.
  2. Use unique coupon and offer codes for your offline channels. You can track users who make purchases after being served content from offline channels.
  3. Map your traffic patterns onto your offline content distribution times or PR campaigns. Of course, this isn’t an exact science and won’t be possible for every offline channel. However, you may see certain spikes in online traffic after some offline campaigns.

Part Three: Track engagement metrics that correspond to your business objectives

By this point, you have a surface view of your content marketing performance.Let’s take it deeper.

I’ll give you several options for figuring out the ROI of your content marketing efforts.

The path that you take will depend on the mission statement that you’ve set for your content and business goals.

Here’s what you may decide to focus on.

  • Building brand awareness
  • Generating and nurturing quality leads
  • Increasing customer acquisition and sales
  • Improving customer retention and loyalty

Let’s get into the metrics that correspond to each of these goals.

Building brand awareness

Content marketing is ideal for creating brand awareness.

This business objective is about connecting with your ideal audience, exposing them to your “why,” and fostering engagement.

You can use content that focuses on your brand story, core values, and company culture.

Content like this produces brand awareness.

And brand awareness is super valuable.

This is likely why 74% of B2C marketers say that brand awareness is their primary goal.

Screen Shot 2017 07 13 at 12.29.54 AM

A successful brand awareness campaign gives you ultimate recognition.

When customers hear your brand name, they should be able to understand what you represent.

To measure your success in this endeavor, you should track “consumption metrics.”

What are some common consumption metrics?

  • Social reach
  • Ungated downloads
  • Mobile readership
  • Document views
  • Time on site
  • Pageviews
  • Video views
  • Inbound links
  • Blog comments

Generating and nurturing quality leads

If you want your content marketing to influence sales, generating and nurturing quality leads is a critical step.

This process is about getting your customer through a permission marketing funnel, so you can build trust and nurture a relationship.

Companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales ready leads at a 33% lower cost.

Screen Shot 2017 07 13 at 12.43.56 AM

It usually starts with businesses providing quality content for free. Prospects submit their email addresses or other personal information to get the content.

Here are the KPIs that you can measure.

  • Gated content downloads or form completions
  • Email subscriptions
  • Event registrations
  • Demo sign ups
  • Webinar registrations
  • Conversion rates

Increasing customer acquisition and sales

For many businesses, the bottom line is generating sales.

This is one of the few business objectives that allows you to concretely measure the results of your content marketing.

You can leverage content marketing to acquire new customers at a low customer acquisition cost.

You can also use content assets like high-converting product pages to influence sales.

Here are the KPIs that you can track.

  • New customers
  • Top-converting pages
  • Online sales
  • Offline sales
  • Length of sales cycle
  • Conversion rates
  • Customer acquisition cost

Improving customer retention and loyalty

Your work does not stop with a sale.

It’s also important to provide a great experience for existing customers.

When considering this objective, ask yourself a few questions.

  • How can you help customers get better use out of your products and services?
  • How will you help them troubleshoot and solve their problems?
  • What can you do to get them to a transformation as quickly and as easily as possible?

Here are the metrics that you can measure.

Now that you know what to measure, here’s what to do next.

Step #1 – Track these metrics on a program level for each stage of the buyer’s journey.

All your content is not tied to the same goal.

This means that every content asset cannot be held accountable to the same performance metrics.

The best solution is to track these metrics on a program level across each stage of the marketing funnel.

What do I mean by a “program level?”

Each content marketing initiative qualifies as a separate program.

For example, the metrics you track for your podcast are different from the metrics you track for your blog.

After you’ve gathered data for each program, you should then assess what all the data sets mean for your overall content marketing performance.

How do you tie your metrics to the buyer’s journey?

It’s simple.

All the goals that we discussed can easily be mapped onto the customer journey.

Here’s an illustration:

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 3.19.36 PM

For each program, you simply have to track the metrics from the top of the funnel to the bottom.

This allows you to trace new customers back to where they first came into contact with your business.

You can create a spreadsheet to serve as your performance scorecard.

Step #2 – Track engagement and conversion metrics on your content.

At this point, you’ve tracked your content marketing performance on several levels.

It’s also important that you monitor the performance of individual content pieces.

But that’s not all.

You need to connect different types of content to each stage of the customer journey.

Why?

Like I mentioned above, you can’t expect all your content to produce the same outcome. Every piece has to do its part.

By segmenting your content performance according to each stage of the customer journey, you ensure that you don’t assign performance goals where they don’t belong.

Here are some of the types of content that you’ll use to drive each business goal.

Building brand awareness

  • Guest articles
  • SlideShare presentations
  • Case studies
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Third party reviews
  • Social media posts

Generating and nurturing quality leads

  • Speaking events
  • Whitepapers and guides
  • Ebooks
  • Landing pages for gated content
  • Free online courses
  • Webinars
  • Email campaigns
  • Quizzes

Increasing customer acquisition and sales

  • Buyer guides
  • Product pages
  • Product case studies and testimonials
  • Blog posts optimized for the conversion stage of the buyer’s journey
  • Email sales sequences

Increasing customer loyalty and retention

  • Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) pages
  • User-generated content
  • Polls and surveys

Step #3 – Calculate your Return on Investment

Have you ever wondered whether or not you can connect your content marketing performance to an actual monetary figure?

You can!

Jay Baer provides a three-step process for calculating ROI for individual content marketing initiatives. I’ve adapted his process here.

1. First, work out your content marketing spend.

Here’s what you need to calculate content marketing spend.

  • How much you’ve invested in content creators for the month
  • Your overhead costs
  • Additional costs like tools and software used to power your content marketing for each initiative

The formula:

Screen Shot 2017 07 13 at 12.55.53 AM

2. Next, calculate your return.

Here’s what you need to calculate your return.

  • Leads per month
  • Lead conversion rate
  • Average customer lifetime value
  • Average profit margin percentage

The formula:

Screen Shot 2017 07 13 at 12.57.21 AM

3. Lastly, calculate your ROI.

Here’s what you need to calculate your ROI.

  • Investment
  • Return

The formula:

Screen Shot 2017 07 13 at 1.00.01 AM

Part Four: Consider the intangibles

No matter how sophisticated your tracking systems, numbers never tell the complete story.

Each customer has a unique journey through your marketing funnels.

Data simply can’t highlight these nuances.

The best way to know if your efforts are working is to engage with your audience.

What conversations are happening around your business? What are your customers saying?

Here’s how you can find out.

1. Ask users where they first came into contact with your business. When website visitors fill out contact forms, you can easily add an option to ask, “Where did you hear about me?”

Screen Shot 2017 07 12 at 8.33.59 PM

2. Use surveys and social media polls to get feedback from your audience. Ask them what content they’d like to see more of.

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3. Start user-generated content campaigns on social media. There’s no better way to know what content your audience likes than to have them create it.

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4. Monitor social media platforms and forums to find out what people are saying about your business.

For social, you can search for your branded hashtags or sift through the comment section of your posts to listen in on the conversations.

Forums like Quora are also great for keeping an eye on your audience.

Type your business name into the search bar.

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You’ll see all the discussions. They may not all be useful, but you will find some golden nuggets.

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Conclusion

The premise of content marketing is simple.

Create exceptional content, attract a clearly defined audience, and inspire users to take action.

If you can influence the sort of actions that will positively impact your business goals, you’ve won.

Not only will you be able to amplify your content marketing performance, but you’ll also be able to track your success in a quantifiable way.

Be mindful that content marketing is an organic strategy. Results take time to develop.

Set your business objectives, align your content creation process with these goals, and hold your content accountable to performance goals.

How has content marketing been working for your business? Have you been able to track your results?

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Don’t Interrupt Me! How to Engage Your Customers Without Annoying Them

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By: Shayla Price

 

Are you annoying your customers?

Probably so.

Inundating your audience with multiple messages at inconvenient times isn’t helpful. Therefore, it’s important to know when and how to engage with consumers.

“Marketing is your way of connecting with your customers as well as a way to convey your business’ personality and values – it’s an essential channel…Even companies with the best of intentions can often manage to annoy their target market,” writes Jennifer Warr, former engagement and awareness cell leader at Klood.

Let’s explore what you can do to market your brand without being a nuisance. Here are five strategies to stop your annoying behavior:

1. Prioritize Your Customers’ Needs

Customers are the primary asset of your company. If you don’t prioritize their needs, everything else falls apart.

This principle is especially true when engaging customers. People can easily recognize when your intentions aren’t authentic.

If you’re not focused on what matters to them, your brand comes off like a car salesman pushing the purchase of an unwanted product. Then, the customer reacts by ignoring your messages and possibly going to your competitors.

Start approaching the customer relationship with respect. As a trusted advisor, you want to communicate the most relevant information.

To avoid the common myths around customer needs, analyze your behavioral data, including website and email activity, to learn your customers’ habits, priorities, and desires. Their actions will help you identify how to craft the conversation.

what customers don't need

Image SourceIf your data shows that your customers love matching your blue T-shirts with green shorts, you could send a post-purchase email with a discount for the shorts. In this case, you’re not annoying your customers. You’re providing valuable content.

There’s no good reason to annoy your customers. Learn their needs to become a trusted resource, not a recurring burden.

2. Stay Away from Information Overload

It’s important to educate your customer. However, don’t overload your audience with too much information at once.

When people see lots of text, a couple of questions pop into their minds: How long will it take to read this? Is this even worth my time? These are the initial hurdles facing companies producing content.

To address the first question, you need to be mindful of the customer’s time. She’s juggling multiple tasks and wants you to get straight to the point.

For instance, when visitors land on your website, they should know immediately how your product benefits them. That means decluttering your website by removing the multiple pop-up screens and sidebars.

When arriving to Instapage’s site, it’s easy for consumers to figure out that this brand offers landing page software that increases conversion rates.

instapage guarantees to increase conversion rates

The second question is where some companies struggle. For any content to be worth your customer’s time, it must offer some type of instant value to the person. It should directly highlight their pain points or lead them to a specific solution.

Let’s say you’re writing a case study about how a customer achieved success with your product. It isn’t good enough to just talk about the outcome. The value in a case study comes from emphasizing the problem, the process, and the result.

Customer engagement is effective when you leave out the unnecessary information. Try producing straightforward content that offers a solution.

3. Convey Every Message Differently

As an experienced marketer, it’s likely that you’ve heard about the rule of seven. It’s the assumption that consumers need to see your offer at least seven times before taking action.

It’s not an exact science, but the rule gives you a foundation on how many times to engage with your customers.

What’s frightening is how companies implement this principle. For some companies, it’s sending the same email multiple times to a subscriber until the person clicks the link in the message. Or it’s copying and pasting the words in a blog post into a SlideShare.

Repeating the same message over and over isn’t useful. It becomes noise to the customer, and that noise becomes annoying.

Instead, every piece of content should not center around the sale. Here’s Susanna Tarrant, a digital marketing coordinator for Marketing Copilot, thoughts on the topic:

“Rather than trying to close the deal too early, you should create content filled with information for your audience. A useful content marketing strategy changes the conversation. It makes it about your customer and not about you or the sale.”

For example, if you’re planning a five-day email campaign, introduce your brand in Email #1, talk about the problem in Email #2, highlight a case study in Email #3, discuss the negative consequences of inaction in Email #4, and present your product solution in Email #5.

Every message doesn’t need to talk about your product. Craft your content around the customers’ needs and the sales journey.

4. Avoid Inconvenient Surprises

Somewhere between rewards and hidden fees, marketers got confused on what types of surprises customers desire. It’s becoming the norm to not tell consumers the whole truth until checkout.

This practice is not healthy for the brand-customer relationship. Hiding the fine print about upcharges or credit card fees only builds a barrier.

Your customer will have one more reason to not trust you. Plus, these unexpected markups can lead to more abandoned shopping carts, negatively affecting your sales.

customer surprises to avoid

Image SourceBut it doesn’t stop there. Other less known surprises include a 404 page to a critical resource, slow response times with customer support, and payment processing errors.

While your team may see these as minor glitches, your customers perceive them as another reason not to do business with you. Your customers want you to live up to your brand promise.

“Somewhere between best intentions and actual staffing, budgets, and IT limitations lies the real world of customer interactions. Don’t tell your customers you value them and then banish them to an automated system or place them on hold for 30 minutes while they wait for a rep,” states Samuel Greengard, contributing writer at CMO.com.

Unwanted surprises shouldn’t interrupt the customer experience. Work with your team to identify which ones annoy your target audience.

5. Engage in a Timely Manner

When you engage with customers is just as important as how you engage. The right message at the wrong time still equals an interruption to the recipient.

Most content splits into two categories: evergreen and seasonal. Evergreen content is information that continually remains relevant. Seasonal content is information with a finite endpoint.

You’ll notice lots of businesses posting evergreen content at random times with a mix of seasonal content, like news jacking pieces. Their strategy is well-founded, but not necessarily results-driven.

The alternative is to send timely content that fits the customer’s current needs. An evergreen blog post isn’t timely if it doesn’t solve the present problem. A seasonal message doesn’t help the customer if he wants his year-round issues solved today.

To send timely content, you must understand your customers’ behaviors. You’re aware of what type of lead magnets they download, how many times they visit certain pages, and the purchasing history with your company.

Triggered email marketing campaigns are one solution to sending timely and relevant content to your audience. With automation and if-then logic, customers can receive messages based on their behaviors.

For example, if a customer doesn’t repurchase a product in 60 days, you can send a retention email. Kissmetrics Campaigns makes it easy to create these behavior-based messages.

Are you engaging with timely content, or just interrupting? Reevaluate when you communicate with your audience.

Stop Annoying, Start Engaging

It’s definitely possible to irk your customers with unfavorable marketing habits. Engagement is a better method for connecting with your audience.

Start by learning and prioritizing your customers’ needs. Deliver different messages based on the customer journey. Also, don’t surprise your customers with hidden charges.

 

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