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7 Effective Steps To Help You Generate Leads Online for Free

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way you could generate leads online for free, without having to pay for tools to help you do it?

Well, it might not be as impossible as you think.

Of course, I’m not saying there’s a silver bullet than can generate you quick and easy leads overnight. However…

What if I told you that by utilising some of the best free online marketing tools out there, you could soon have a system up and running that would help get more leads coming in to grow your business? It’s all about attracting the right people to your website, and findings ways of turning them into leads that you can then convert into sales.

In this blog post, I’m going to use my 20+ years’ experience as an marketer to show you ways of doing this that won’t cost you ANY money at all.

The only real cost?

Your time – and don’t get me wrong, it WILL require a lot of effort and hard work.

DISCLAIMER: Before we get started, there is one caveat to this. By only using free tools, you’ll be limited as to the results you can achieve, as many good things that come for free also have paid versions that are even better. However, doing it this way WILL get leads trickling in, so you can eventually start investing in upgrades that will do the job even better.

So, are you ready to learn how to generate leads online for free? Let’s get this thing started.

1. Attract plenty of traffic to your website with a blog

If you want to generate leads, you have to start at the beginning; by attracting plenty of traffic to your website. One of the best free ways to do this is by creating helpful content that matches what your ideal customers are typing into Google search. And where’s the best place to share this content? Your blog.

A blog is a dedicated space for posting the best content that your customers will find helpful or interesting – and they should ideally be able to find it when they visit your website. Don’t have a blog yet? It’s fairly simple to get one.

One of the best free blog tools available is Wordpress – which currently powers 26% of the web. Your hosting site may even have a setting that allows you to add it to your website with one click. It’s also very easy to install!

2. Guide them into taking the next logical step

Once your blog is up and displaying lots of fresh content, you want your readers to keep interacting with your site – otherwise they’ll just click away and go elsewhere, without converting into leads. You can help guide your visitors into becoming leads with call-to-actions (or CTAs).

These are clickable buttons ideally placed at the bottom of your blog. They could say something like ‘subscribe to the blog’ or ‘download our free ebook’.

You can do this by using Inbound Now’s free CTA tool. Or, if you want to be a bit more creative with your own custom CTAs, you could also try Canva.  I use the latter all the time, as you can put together professional-looking images with hardly any effort!

3. Convert them into leads with persuasive landing pages

Once your visitors click on your CTAs, they’ll be taken to what’s known as landing pages. These pages tell them more about why they would want to take the action described in the CTA. For example, if it’s to sign up to your blog or newsletter, tell them the benefits they’d gain.

Or if you have an ebook or guide (more about that below) for them to download, tell them what they can learn by downloading it in return for filling out a form with their contact details. Landing pages shouldn’t be overly salesy, but they should tell your customers why they’d want to take the action on the page. This is how you get visitors to become leads.

You can create free quality landing pages using ONTRApages.

4. Give them what they want for free with downloadable content

You know how I was just talking about ebooks or guides? This is also known as premium content, and you can offer it for free to download on your website – in return for just a few contact details. This really gives your visitors a reason to become leads, as they’re getting something really useful back in return.

You can put together professional-looking images for your ebook on Canva. As for the writing part, all you need is around 1,000 – 1,500 words that provides more detailed guidance for your customers. If you can match them to your blog content in some way, all the better.

TIP: If you don’t have the time to create ebooks on top of your content, you can collate some of your best blogs on a particular topic and make that into a comprehensive ebook or guide – all it needs is just a little editing!

5. Nurture and engage your leads with email drip campaigns

Now that you have some quality leads, you need to keep them engaged with clever email messages and content. This helps you stay in the forefront of their minds. One of the tools you can achieve this with is MailChimp. It isn’t exactly email automation, but it’s very similar – and free. It essentially allows you to create drip campaigns containing carefully planned content to specific contacts every 3, 5, or 10 days.

Email marketing automation is a little more advanced – for instance, MailChimp has no way of determining when people become customers. You’ll also have to segment your lists manually – which is something I highly recommend you do for maximum effect.

6. Grow a regular audience for your blog with RSS-to-email

Now that you’re publishing regular content, you don’t want people to read one blog and just forget about it. So, how can you get regular visitors to read and engage with your blog? Well, MailChimp, as mentioned above, also have a handy RSS-to-email feature which allow people to easily subscribe.

It’s very simple to use, and all you need to do is publish your content as usual – it will land in your subscribers’ inboxes! You can control how many posts go out, and the frequency, too. You can even combine multiple RSS feeds into just one email newsletter – it’s up to you how you use it.

7. Share your content with the people that need to see it

If you want the right people to see and engage with your posts, you have to share it to the right places. It may only be one piece of the puzzle, but you probably don’t want to be going to all the effort above without including social media such as Facebook, Twitter etc. That way you can start to build a following and connect with more of your ideal customers.

Buffer allows you to schedule, publish and analyse your social media posts all in one place – handy! So, if you want to increase engagement on your posts and see how people are reacting, I highly recommend it. It will also save you some time and even help your blogs get found quicker on Google!

More in-depth but still free…

Below are some other free tools you may find useful, although they might take a bit longer to get the hang of:

  • Google Analytics – Very valuable for understanding your audience, and what they’re doing on your site.
  • HotJar – Let’s you use heat maps, scroll maps, funnel analysis and more.
  • Google Optimise – A bit clunky, but great if you want to try A/B split testing for free.
  • Peek User Testing – This is basically someone filming their first impressions of your site. You can easily get some great insights and ‘a-ha!’ moments.

TIP: If you’re not necessarily only looking for free tools, check out my blog ’15 Must-Have Digital Marketing Tools to Grow Your Business’.

One final thought

Well, that’s the basics to help you start generating those much-needed leads online for free! However, you might be reading this article and thinking there’s one clear disadvantage staring you in the face. If you don’t have the time, or the inclination to learn any of the above tools and systems for yourself, you may have to bite the bullet and pay someone to help you.

There’s also the issue of the above tools being very segmented, which means they won’t really talk to each other very well. This can lead to things getting overly complicated and messy. However, it IS a way to save money, and it IS entirely possible – as long as you’re happy to put in the time and effort.

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below, or get in touch. I’ll be happy to give you some more free advice that might be able to help.

5 Clever Things All Businesses Must do with Their Email Lists

Does your business have huge email lists just sitting around doing nothing?

Whether you’ve been collecting the email addresses of customers, potential customers, or both, you’ve probably gathered up quite a lot of potentially valuable contacts over the years. But now they’re just stagnating in a list somewhere.

Seems a bit of a waste, doesn’t it? Especially as the average email list degrades by about 22.5% every year – perhaps even more so if you don’t keep the recipients engaged.

But wait a minute… what if I told you that you could actually get something back from that email list – like more sales and engagement?

Now, this is something I get asked about a lot, so listen up.

You should be looking at your email as your most powerful marketing asset; when times are hard, and you’re not getting enough people to your website, this is where you should be turning; to the people who have already expressed their interest.

It doesn’t cost anything to market to your email list, and with the right tools to hold their attention, they’ll stay with you – however, send them rubbish they don’t want to hear, and they’ll unsubscribe faster than you can say ‘You’ve been spammed’.

In this blog post, I’m going to use my experience as a digital marketer give you five easy ways your company can get the most out of your email list.

But firstly…

email lists spammy emails

Why buying email lists is a bad idea

Often, companies buy email lists online thinking it’s a good investment, as these leads come pre-packaged with none of the effort. If you’re thinking of buying a list right now: stop.

The reason being, that the contacts you’ll find on paid-for lists likely don’t know who you are, and haven’t opted into receiving emails from you.

Not to mention, the first contact they’ll get from your company will come in the form of a spammy email – sending them something they never asked for in the first place is not the best start for a trusting relationship, is it?

In fact, if you’ve already bought a list, this is probably why your response rate is so low.

So, without further ado, let me give you some tips on building and making the most of your email list, the smart way!

1. Grow your email lists organically for better engagement

So, instead of buying lists, the best way to grow your email list is organically; in other words, collecting the email addresses of people who visit your website, or have somehow expressed an interest in your products or services.

And of course, they should opt-in to receiving updates from you by entering their email address themselves, and preferably ticking the necessary box.

The first thing you need to really think about is what you’re doing with these email addresses when someone contacts you; how are you collecting them, and where are these visitors going?

If you’re only collecting emails from people who are asking for quotes, this may not be the most ideal way to build your email list, as only a small percentage of your visitors will be at that ready-to-buy stage – what happens to the rest?

To be honest, they’re probably having a look around, and then leaving.

Unless you’re able to look at Google Analytics and find out what these other people are doing on your website, they’re just a number to you. So, how do you turn these numbers into real people you can actually engage with?

Well, one of the best ways is by offering premium downloadable content and information they can access for free – all they have to do is fill in their name and email address.

Some examples would be helpful ebooks, such as:

  • The Best Way to Manage Your Online Databases
  • Roof Replacement Dos and Don’ts
  • The Big Helpful Guide to Buying SaaS
  • Conservatories vs Orangeries: What’s the Difference?
  • An App Developer’s Guide to Distribution

The list goes on and on…

2. Segment your lists for improved effectiveness

Now that you’re collecting your email list from various sources, you need a tool to collect and segment your lists for you automatically, so you can effectively communicate with your contacts and send them information they’ll definitely be interested in.

For instance, someone who has already bought a boiler or a conservatory from you probably won’t be interested in an email talking about the same product. Keeping your lists as personalised as possible will allow you to send the right info to the right people – hopefully at the right time!

Of course, you could segment your lists manually, but this is a very time-consuming job, and if you don’t stay on top of it, things can get messy – not ideal if most of your time is spent running a business!

3. Keep them interested with regular emails

Once you’ve got a nice, healthy email list that consists of people who you know actually want to hear from you, the next step is to start sending out emails!

The trick here is to stay at the forefront of their minds, by sending them helpful, engaging emails that they’ll be interested in and want to read – without spamming them with things that make them want to unsubscribe.

One of the best ways to do this is by writing a regular blog, which you can then send out to the right people as you publish, or in a weekly or monthly digest.

Your blog should ideally be updated once or twice a week with quality content that that answers the questions you no doubt hear from your best customers all the time. Without great content like this, you’ll just be doing what you’ve always done – only trying to sell products, and getting limited results.

There are so many other reasons to have a blog – it also means that your website’s traffic will increase with more people being able to find you via Google search!

4. Give them a good incentive to subscribe to your newsletter

If you’re thinking of offering a newsletter – especially if you have a new website – think about why someone would want to sign up. How will they benefit?

I’ve found that usually, no-one will really want to enter their email address into the magic little box if you don’t give them any reason to do so. A little line of text underneath will do so much more – for example, you could have something like:

‘Subscribe to our newsletter to receive special discounts and offers!

You see? Especially if people are considering buying from you, they’ll definitely want to be informed if they can get your products or services for less!

5. Use offline opportunities to keep building your list

Finally, don’t simply think of building your email list as something that stays strictly online. Take a notebook or your tablet with you when you go out to jobs, trade shows and exhibitions, and ask people who show an interest if they’d like to sign up.

You might be surprised how many will say ‘yes’! Especially if you tell them the kind of things you’re offering, such as brochures, ebooks and helpful content that answers that question they’ve just asked. It’s such a simple thing to do, but many companies fail to pro-actively build their lists this way.

Conclusion

Thanks for reading, and I hope I’ve inspired you to do more with your business’s email lists – they’re such a useful marketing asset to have, and I’m truly saddened by how many companies simply neglect theirs, or use them to send out blanket spammy sales messages that appeal to hardly anyone.

If you have any questions about email lists and how to make the most out of yours, feel free to leave a comment below – I promise to reply with something helpful!

8

5 Essential Email Marketing Tools for Your Business

Are you looking for email marketing tools to help manage your business email list?

Email marketing tools make maintaining and building your email lists so easy, allowing you to separate them into different categories, and send relevant content, updates and offers to the people who will actually want to read them!

The good news is, there are so many affordable (and even free!) tools out there, however, the bad news is that you can spend all day looking at various email clients and still be none the wiser.

If you’re feeling a bit puzzled by all the different email marketing tools out there – and you don’t have time to look through them all whilst trying to run your business – don’t worry.

As a digital marketer, I’ve tested hundreds and hundreds of different email marketing tools, and so I thought I’d give you the benefit of my experience and list the best five here.

After all, it could end up saving you time and quite a few pennies!

1. WordPress

wordpress- email marketing tools

First thing’s first; there’s no point in getting software to help you manage and engage with your email lists when you have no great content to send them!

Did you know that WordPress now powers 26% of the web? So many users depend on it to put out their blogs and articles, and integrating a WordPress blog on your website is actually surprisingly easy!

Once you have your blog ready to go, you should be using it to answer your best customers’ questions, challenges and concerns. A good place to start is to think about some of the questions you hear from customers every day, and then answer each in a detailed blog post!

And there you have it; you’ll already have some helpful content to send to some of the people on your list!

2. MailChimp

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-09-34-44

With lots of great, easy-to-use features and integration with various apps such as WordPress, Twitter, Facebook and Google, MailChimp is a popular tool used by small businesses and Fortune 500 companies alike.

It’s perfect for automating email messages based on what your visitors are doing on your website, and even better, you can sign up for a free plan which allows you to send up to 12,000 emails for as many as 2,000 subscribers each month. This is great if you’re a small business and just want to try things out.

However, if you have more subscribers, or want to take advantage of all of the features this tool has to offer (such as autoresponders) then you’ll have to sign up for one of the paid plans, which start at around $10 per month.

3. Autopilot HQ

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-09-35-57

I personally really like Autopilot HQ, as it allows you to send very personalised messages, and add people to various different lists in such an easy-to-use platform. You can also connect various apps to automate tasks and monitor your data.

Autopilot HQ allows you to track your open rate, clicks and conversions in one visually pleasing dashboard, and it takes very minimal effort to make adjustments and watch your revenue go up. Even better, there’s a free trial, so you can try it out without any risk!

Another advantage of this tool is that you won’t necessarily need landing pages, because it will collect all the data you need from your contact form – however, I’d highly recommend using dedicated landing pages to increase your conversions.

However, the one problem with Autopilot HQ is that it doesn’t allow you to send a block of emails out as soon as one of your blogs is published, whereas MailChimp does, so unfortunately you need both. It also doesn’t allow for RSS-to-email, which is a bit of a problem.

4. GetResponse

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-09-37-05

Next on our list is GetResponse, which in my opinion is the best all-rounder when it comes to email automation and just doing everything you need in one package – you can even create landing pages!

It’s also worth mentioning that they are the first email marketing service to actually help you create your own webinars, for even more engagement with your email lists – I just love the idea of this, and it looks really easy to use!

You also have slightly more to choose from in terms of pricing options compared to the likes of MailChimp, and GetResponse also comes out slightly more cost-effective.

5. HubSpot

screen-shot-2016-11-09-at-09-38-02

Finally, if you want a good end-to-end enterprise solution, and can afford to spend a minimum of £6,000 per year on a marketing platform that can give you email automation, detailed reports and analytics, landing pages and various other tools, HubSpot is the solution for you.

I’ve personally been a HubSpot partner in the past, and not only is it a great platform to use, but the team are really helpful and will be on-hand to give you lots of help and advice with your marketing efforts.

TIP: If HubSpot seems a bit on the pricey side, another option is LeadSquared, which does a lot of the same things at just a fraction of the cost.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve found my insights useful when it comes to choosing good email marketing tools for your home services business – it’s really so important to keep your email lists engaged with great content, and these tools just make life so much easier!

If you have a question about any of the tools above, please feel free to leave a comment below, and I promise to do my best to help you out!

5 Lessons on How to Market by Email [How Stargazer Does it and What We’ve Learned]

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If you’ve ever tried to market by email, you might already know it can take a bit of trial and error to get it right.

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