6 Best Practices for Nurturing B2B Marketing Qualified Leads

The rise of the internet, digital technologies and social media platforms have transformed the way consumers make purchasing decisions—and not just for B2C consumers, but for B2B as well. In fact, according to CEB, B2B buyers are 57% of the way through a purchasing decision before engaging with a sales rep.

But, as a savvy B2B marketer, you already knew all this. So, you’ve designed an integrated strategy featuring a hearty mix of marketing tactics to help build trust and awareness as prospects do their research. You’re turning out thoughtful, relevant content that informs, engages and inspires action. You’re working with industry influencers to add credibility and authority to your efforts. Heck, you’re even driving what you believe are solid marketing qualified leads (MQLs).

However, there’s a problem: The leads you’re generating in aren’t translating into sales. What’s a savvy marketer to do? You know this, too—it’s time to double-down on nurturing those MQLs.

Simply put, MQLs are warm prospects who are not ready to make a purchasing decision yet—and lead nurturing can help you turn up the heat. And most of you are probably doing some form of lead nurturing already. According to DemandGen Report’s 2016 Lead Nurturing Benchmark Study, 89% of marketers use lead nurturing programs as part of their demand generation strategy. In addition, the remaining 11% said they plan to start a lead nurturing program in the next 12 months.

But whether you’re seasoned at lead nurturing or just getting started, you’re likely facing some common struggles. DemandGen Report’s study also revealed that more than half of marketers ranked “developing targeted content by buyer stage/interest” as their greatest challenge. Other top challenges included adapting to modern B2B buyer expectations, changing and unpredictable buyer behavior, and processes and workflow.

In this post, we share tips and best practices for heating up your MQL nurturing efforts, so you can build trust and relationships with prospects, and hopefully hand them off as SQLs (sales qualified leads) when the time is right.

#1 – Determine what qualifies as a qualified lead.

Every company has a different perspective on what MQLs and SQLs actually look like—and some may not differentiate between them at all. In addition, every lead is different and not all leads are created equal. Depending on your product or service, and your marketing mix and program goals, you’ll want to work with your marketing and sales team to define each lead type.

Why is this so important? At a basic level, it makes sure that everyone is on the same page and enhances communication between the two departments. But perhaps more importantly, understanding the differences between the two helps you craft a more effective strategy—and ultimately—help you serve up higher-quality sales-ready leads.

Read: Want Better Leads? 7 Tips for Achieve Sales & Marketing Alignment

#2 – Make sure you have a deep understanding of your target customer.

It’s no secret that audience and customer knowledge is the foundation of all marketing initiatives. If you want to create relevant content that nurtures them throughout their journey, you need to understand your audience’s pain points, what they care about, how they like to get information, and what influences their purchasing decisions.

If you don’t already have them, build out customer personas that define who your ideal customers are—and what they look like at each stage of the sales funnel. Ask yourself:

  • What are the common characteristics of my best and worst customers?
  • What are their content preferences, search phrases, social networks, and the types of products or services they buy or “like”?
  • What does my ideal customer look like at the top, middle and bottom of the funnel?

Read: Adele Revella Weighs In On Connecting B2B Content to Customers

#3 – Understand where your leads are in the sales funnel.

The modern customer journey is far from linear and requires multiple touch points throughout the sales funnel. When it comes to your bucket of MQLs, while they’ve signaled their interest through some type of conversion, that doesn’t mean they’re sales-ready. As a result, you need to make an effort to map your leads to a specific area of the sales funnel if you want to nurture them properly.

For example, for new leads—such as those that have just converted for the first time through a download or newsletter signup—they’re likely pretty new to your brand. As a result, the content you use to nurture may include tactical blog posts, curated third-party articles and long-form thought leadership pieces aimed at engagement.

Leverage your MQL and SQL definitions, customer personas and any analytics data you have to audit your existing list of MQLs. This gives you important insights into where you stand with prospects, and can help you plan you segment your list to create nurture more effectively.

When it comes to segmenting or categorizing your list, it may seem like a daunting task. If you’ve been building your list for many years, it will take a bit of work—but it’s worth it. In addition, begin incorporating and requiring segmentation information in your lead capture forms. This ensures that new audience members are categorized appropriately from the start.

Depending on your prospect base and how the information will be used you can include simple qualifiers such as:

  • Company Name
  • Title
  • Area of Interest

Read: Is Your Content Marketing Designed for the New Customer Journey?

#4 – Audit your existing content for repurposing opportunities.

Chances are that your team has a huge portfolio of existing content. As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden often says: “Content isn’t King. It’s the Kingdom.” So why not get the most out of the kingdom you’ve built?

Take an inventory of your existing content, paying special attention to the unicorns—the content that is generating the awesome traffic, engagement and helping move people to the next step. Then look for ways to repurpose and personalize the content in ways that maps to your leads at every stage of the funnel.

Read: 5 Magical Tactics for Repurposing B2B Marketing Content

#5 – If you’re new to lead nurturing, start small.

This one’s pretty simple. If you’re just beginning to dip your toe in the lead nurturing waters, don’t dive head-first just yet.

Get started by launching a single campaign such as a bi-monthly newsletter or monthly offer for all leads. By starting small, you can get something in front of your prospects right away and keep your brand top-of-mind.

Read: 5 Elements of a Successful Email Based Lead Nurturing Program

#6 – Invest in marketing automation software when it makes sense.

Marketing automation software from vendors like Marketo and HubSpot can be an incredible lead nurturing tool. However, if your lead nurturing program is relatively young, don’t spring for marketing automation software right away. Marketing automation software is an investment that requires budget, and the appropriate resources to execute effectively.

When it’s time to scale your lead nurturing program, ask yourself the following questions to help you make the right decision:

  • What is the organizational goal you hope to achieve with marketing automation?
  • What is the health of your current database? (Hopefully, your recent audit can help you answer this one.)
  • What content assets are available? (Again, your work up to this point should help you answer this.)
  • Do you have the resources to dedicate to the planning, implementation and measurement of a marketing automation system?
  • Are sales and marketing aligned?
  • What does success look like?

Read: How to Avoid Marketing Automation Disaster: 6 Essential Pre-Planning Steps

Ready. Set. Nurture.

At the end of the day, your marketing efforts aim to drive leads that have a high chance of turning into paying customers. But without effective lead nurturing, valuable prospects will inevitably slip through the cracks or find your competitor.

Use these best practices to bolster your integrated marketing strategy, build relationships with your prospects, achieve marketing ROI and eventually deliver your sales team with better quality leads.

What are your biggest lead nurturing challenges? How are you working to overcome them? Tell us in the comments section.

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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2017. | 6 Best Practices for Nurturing B2B Marketing Qualified Leads | http://www.toprankblog.com

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

SEO Best Practices for Canonical URLs + the Rel=Canonical Tag – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

If you’ve ever had any questions about the canonical tag, well, have we got the Whiteboard Friday for you. In today’s episode, Rand defines what rel=canonical means and its intended purpose, when it’s recommended you use it, how to use it, and sticky situations to avoid.

SEO best practices for canonical URLs

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, we’re going to chat about some SEO best practices for canonicalization and use of the rel=canonical tag.

Before we do that, I think it pays to talk about what a canonical URL is, because a canonical URL doesn’t just refer to a page upon which we are targeting or using the rel=canonical tag. Canonicalization has been around, in fact, much longer than the rel=canonical tag itself, which came out in 2009, and there are a bunch of different things that a canonical URL means.

What is a “canonical” URL?

So first off, what we’re trying to say is this URL is the one that we want Google and the other search engines to index and to rank. These other URLs that potentially have similar content or that are serving a similar purpose or perhaps are exact duplicates, but, for some reason, we have additional URLs of them, those ones should all tell the search engines, “No, no, this guy over here is the one you want.”

So, for example, I’ve got a canonical URL, ABC.com/a.

Then I have a duplicate of that for some reason. Maybe it’s a historical artifact or a problem in my site architecture. Maybe I intentionally did it. Maybe I’m doing it for some sort of tracking or testing purposes. But that URL is at ABC.com/b.

Then I have this other version, ABC.com/a?ref=twitter. What’s going on there? Well, that’s a URL parameter. The URL parameter doesn’t change the content. The content is exactly the same as A, but I really don’t want Google to get confused and rank this version, which can happen by the way. You’ll see URLs that are not the original version, that have some weird URL parameter ranking in Google sometimes. Sometimes this version gets more links than this version because they’re shared on Twitter, and so that’s the one everybody picked up and copied and pasted and linked to. That’s all fine and well, so long as we canonicalize it.

Or this one, it’s a print version. It’s ABC.com/aprint.html. So, in all of these cases, what I want to do is I want to tell Google, “Don’t index this one. Index this one. Don’t index this one. Index this one. Don’t index this one. Index this one.”

I can do that using this, the link rel=canonical, the href telling Google, “This is the page.” You put this in the header tag of any document and Google will know, “Aha, this is a copy or a clone or a duplicate of this other one. I should canonicalize all of my ranking signals, and I should make sure that this other version ranks.”

By the way, you can be self-referential. So it is perfectly fine for ABC.com/a to go ahead and use this as well, pointing to itself. That way, in the event that someone you’ve never even met decides to plug in question mark, some weird parameter and point that to you, you’re still telling Google, “Hey, guess what? This is the original version.”

Great. So since I don’t want Google to be confused, I can use this canonicalization process to do it. The rel=canonical tag is a great way to go. By the way, FYI, it can be used cross-domain. So, for example, if I republish the content on A at something like a Medium.com/@RandFish, which is, I think, my Medium account, /a, guess what? I can put in a cross-domain rel=canonical telling them, “This one over here.” Now, even if Google crawls this other website, they are going to know that this is the original version. Pretty darn cool.

Different ways to canonicalize multiple URLs

There are different ways to canonicalize multiple URLs.

1. Rel=canonical.

I mention that rel=canonical isn’t the only one. It’s one of the most strongly recommended, and that’s why I’m putting it at number one. But there are other ways to do it, and sometimes we want to apply some of these other ones. There are also not-recommended ways to do it, and I’m going to discuss those as well.

2. 301 redirect.

The 301 redirect, this is basically a status code telling Google, “Hey, you know what? I’m going to take /b, I’m going to point it to /a. It was a mistake to ever have /b. I don’t want anyone visiting it. I don’t want it clogging up my web analytics with visit data. You know what? Let’s just 301 redirect that old URL over to this new one, over to the right one.”

3. Passive parameters in Google search console.

Some parts of me like this, some parts of me don’t. I think for very complex websites with tons of URL parameters and a ton of URLs, it can be just an incredible pain sometimes to go to your web dev team and say like, “Hey, we got to clean up all these URL parameters. I need you to add the rel=canonical tag to all these different kinds of pages, and here’s what they should point to. Here’s the logic to do it.” They’re like, “Yeah, guess what? SEO is not a priority for us for the next six months, so you’re going to have to deal with it.”

Probably lots of SEOs out there have heard that from their web dev teams. Well, guess what? You can end around it, and this is a fine way to do that in the short term. Log in to your Google search console account that’s connected to your website. Make sure you’re verified. Then you can basically tell Google, through the Search Parameters section, to make certain kinds of parameters passive.

So, for example, you have sessionid=blah, blah, blah. You can set that to be passive. You can set it to be passive on certain kinds of URLs. You can set it to be passive on all types of URLs. That helps tell Google, “Hey, guess what? Whenever you see this URL parameter, just treat it like it doesn’t exist at all.” That can be a helpful way to canonicalize.

4. Use location hashes.

So let’s say that my goal with /b was basically to have exactly the same content as /a but with one slight difference, which was I was going to take a block of content about a subsection of the topic and place that at the top. So A has the section about whiteboard pens at the top, but B puts the section about whiteboard pens toward the bottom, and they put the section about whiteboards themselves up at the top. Well, it’s the same content, same search intent behind it. I’m doing the same thing.

Well, guess what? You can use the hash in the URL. So it’s a#b and that will jump someone — it’s also called a fragment URL — jump someone to that specific section on the page. You can see this, for example, Moz.com/about/jobs. I think if you plug in #listings, it will take you right to the job listings. Instead of reading about what it’s like to work here, you can just get directly to the list of jobs themselves. Now, Google considers that all one URL. So they’re not going to rank them differently. They don’t get indexed differently. They’re essentially canonicalized to the same URL.


I do not recommend…

5. Blocking Google from crawling one URL but not the other version.

Because guess what? Even if you use robots.txt and you block Googlebot’s spider and you send them away and they can’t reach it because you said robots.txt disallow /b, Google will not know that /b and /a have the same content on them. How could they?

They can’t crawl it. So they can’t see anything that’s here. It’s invisible to them. Therefore, they’ll have no idea that any ranking signals, any links that happen to point there, any engagement signals, any content signals, whatever ranking signals that might have helped A rank better, they can’t see them. If you canonicalize in one of these ways, now you’re telling Google, yes, B is the same as A, combine their forces, give me all the rankings ability.

6. I would also not recommend blocking indexation.

So you might say, “Ah, well Rand, I’ll use the meta robots no index tag, so that way Google can crawl it, they can see that the content is the same, but I won’t allow them to index it.” Guess what? Same problem. They can see that the content is the same, but unless Google is smart enough to automatically canonicalize, which I would not trust them on, I would always trust yourself first, you are essentially, again, preventing them from combining the ranking signals of B into A, and that’s something you really want.

7. I would not recommend using the 302, the 307, or any other 30x other than the 301.

This is the guy that you want. It is a permanent redirect. It is the most likely to be most successful in canonicalization, even though Google has said, “We often treat 301s and 302s similarly.” The exception to that rule is but a 301 is probably better for canonicalization. Guess what we’re trying to do? Canonicalize!

8. Don’t 40x the non-canonical version.

So don’t take /b and be like, “Oh, okay, that’s not the version we want anymore. We’ll 404 it.” Don’t 404 it when you could 301. If you send it over here with a 301 or you use the rel=canonical in your header, you take all the signals and you point them to A. You lose them if you 404 that in B. Now, all the signals from B are gone. That’s a sad and terrible thing. You don’t want to do that either.

The only time I might do this is if the page is very new or it was just an error. You don’t think it has any ranking signals, and you’ve got a bunch of other problems. You don’t want to deal with having to maintain the URL and the redirect long term. Fine. But if this was a real URL and real people visited it and real people linked to it, guess what? You need to redirect it because you want to save those signals.

When to canonicalize URLs

Last but not least, when should we canonicalize URLs versus not?

I. If the content is extremely similar or exactly duplicate.

Well, if it is the case that the content is either extremely similar or exactly duplicate on two different URLs, two or more URLs, you should always collapse and canonicalize those to a single one.

II. If the content is serving the same (or nearly the same) searcher intent (even if the KW targets vary somewhat).

If the content is not duplicate, maybe you have two pages that are completely unique about whiteboard pens and whiteboards, but even though the content is unique, meaning the phrasing and the sentence structures are the same, that does not mean that you shouldn’t canonicalize.

For example, this Whiteboard Friday about using the rel=canonical, about canonicalization is going to replace an old version from 2009. We are going to take that old version and we are going to use the rel=canonical. Why are we going to use the rel=canonical? So that you can still access the old one if for some reason you want to see the version that we originally came out with in 2009. But we definitely don’t want people visiting that one, and we want to tell Google, “Hey, the most up-to-date one, the new one, the best one is this new version that you’re watching right now.” I know this is slightly meta, but that is a perfectly reasonable use.

What I’m trying to aim at is searcher intent. So if the content is serving the same or nearly the same searcher intent, even if the keyword targeting is slightly different, you want to canonicalize those multiple versions. Google is going to do a much better job of ranking a single piece of content that has lots of good ranking signals for many, many keywords that are related to it, rather than splitting up your link equity and your other ranking signal equity across many, many pages that all target slightly different variations. Plus, it’s a pain in the butt to come up with all that different content. You would be best served by the very best content in one place.

III. If you’re republishing or refreshing or updating old content.

Like the Whiteboard Friday example I just used, you should use the rel=canonical in most cases. There are some exceptions. If you want to maintain that old version, but you’d like the old version’s ranking signals to come to the new version, you can take the content from the old version, republish that at /a-old. Then take /a and redirect that or publish the new version on there and have that version be the one that is canonical and the old version exist at some URL you’ve just created but that’s /old. So republishing, refreshing, updating old content, generally canonicalization is the way to go, and you can preserve the old version if you want.

IV. If content, a product, an event, etc. is no longer available and there’s a near best match on another URL.

If you have content that is expiring, a piece of content, a product, an event, something like that that’s going away, it’s no longer available and there’s a next best version, the version that you think is most likely to solve the searcher’s problems and that they’re probably looking for anyway, you can canonicalize in that case, usually with a 301 rather than with a rel=canonical, because you don’t want someone visiting the old page where nothing is available. You want both searchers and engines to get redirected to the new version, so good idea to essentially 301 at that point.

Okay, folks. Look forward to your questions about rel=canonicals, canonical URLs, and canonicalization in general in SEO. And we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Still Struggling with Your SEO Strategy? Focus on These 4 Best Practices for Improved Results

The pressure of understanding the ins and outs of developing and implementing an integrated digital marketing strategy has many marketers searching for a better way. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is just as integral to a successful marketing strategy as it was in previous years. That’s right, SEO is not dead but it has changed.

If you’re still struggling to develop a successful SEO strategy, you’re not alone. Search engine optimization experts are still faced with the constant struggle to provide the right results, but the all too often, expectations are focused on vanity metrics or outdated tactics.

Google is making hundreds of algorithm updates each year and they continue to alter the layout of the search engine results pages (SERP). There is constant change that marketers need to stay on top of, which then leads to new tactics that are required to continue to increase visibility online. These changes align directly with the SEO industry. In this post, we outline common SEO situations that brands struggle with including:

  • Focusing on the wrong KPIs
  • Not updating historic content
  • Not implementing strategic linking plan
  • Not maximizing potential search reach and visibility

As marketers, we need to adapt and focus on the right tactics to increase the search visibility for each website. Technology has allowed us to reach more people in our targeted audience than before and it is our job to take best advantage of this opportunity. It’s time to dive in.

#1 – Focusing on the Wrong KPIs

One the first blunders that we see brands make is focusing on the wrong KPIs and search metrics. Often times, companies are only focusing on sessions, pageviews, bounce rate, and other vanity metrics. Those metrics are great to monitor each month to track overall website health, but smart marketers should push to analyze more valuable metrics. Valuable metrics are metrics that prove value and show both internal or external clients what return of investment the SEO campaign is bringing back in.

Optimizing a page is a great search tactic but what we need to question what the outcome of that effort is. We need to try to quantify the amount of effort that goes into each tactic for the potential outcome. For example, if we optimize one webpage and drive more traffic to it, but the converting traffic doesn’t increase, was it worth it? In short, probably not. We want to optimize pages that will bring in more converting traffic to the site so we can make money. Showing an internal or external client an increase in traffic is great, but at the end of the campaign the most important metric is how much return on investment the campaign brought back to the company.

TopRank Marketing Pro Tip: Use vanity metrics as a gage of how well the website or SEO campaign is doing, but show key stakeholders how much revenue the campaign brings back.

#2 – Not Updating Historic Content

Another common SEO opportunity is showing some love to high-performing historic content and saying goodbye to the clutter. Years ago, marketers created a mass amount of content for search purposes. That method of content creation worked too, until search engine algorithms got more sostificated. Now, companies need to complete content audits of the historic content to identify what content is worth keeping and/or editing. Most companies that have been writing content for a while have quality content that needs to be refreshed to stay current.

Historic content should be either updated or removed from the search index (deleted or noindexed). By removing the content that is no longer relevant, you can turn focus to the pages that you want to get traffic too. Most websites get the majority of their traffic from only a select amount of pages instead of traffic being evenly spread out. Focus on those pages that bring in  qualified traffic and either refresh the content or implement some new SEO recommendations.

TopRank Marketing Pro Tip: Refresh historic content that contains priority keyword rankings that are on the second or third page of Google. To identify those pages, use tools like SEMrush or Google Search Console to see how individual pages are performing with keyword rankings and impressions. Those pages of content contain a high amount of potential to increase search visibility quickly.

#3 – Not Implementing Strategic Linking Plan

Believe it or not, strategic linking is still incredibly important for SEO. Too often, companies are forgetting to add internal links to other related content within their site. Internal links help search engines crawl and index pages, as well as pass authority throughout your site. Internal links are an essential part of your website ecosystem and there needs to be a strategic plan on how to link to related pages with the correct type of anchor text.

Additionally, make a habit of linking to related sites that can be used as references. External links to sites help provide credibility for your content and can help search engines understand more context of the content.

TopRank Marketing Pro Tip: After conducting a content audit on a website and identifying what historic content needs to be updated, develop a strategic internal linking plan to link to and from historic content to new content.

#4 – Are you missing out on your SEO potential?

Marketers often forget that there are additional optimization opportunities outside of Google. YouTube, Amazon, and other third-party sites are great places to optimize for in addition to Google. SEO team members should conduct a thorough analysis of where the brand’s audience is spending time online. Google stated in a recent report that “how to” searches have increased by 70% year-over-year. That growth is a great opportunity for marketers to create videos for your audience in another location to maximize visibility.

Besides YouTube, Amazon is another great channel to optimize for ecommerce sites. Adding products to Amazon and optimizing each listing helps put your product in front of your audience besides your website. Focus on getting positive reviews for your listings to help with search visibility. Speaking of reviews, don’t forget about your local listings as another mean of search reach. Optimizing your search listings with positive reviews and local citations to increase local search traffic.

TopRank Marketing Pro Tip: Optimize your current YouTube videos by adding a description, transcript, correct tags, optimizing the title of the video. Also, embed videos to your pages with a transcript to the video right under it and add video schema to the page.

Stop Making the Same SEO Mistakes

These tips only scratch the surface as there are even more common SEO mistakes that brands should for a healthy SEO program. However, if you’re ready to get started start by incorporating these four strategies to achieve the best results for your website. If you need help developing or implementing a Search Engine Optimization program, contact us for a free consultation.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

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That said, building a list from scratch can seem a little overwhelming at first. After all, newbies are in a bit of a catch-22 situation: They can’t start a campaign without addresses, but they’re often so dependent on email that they don’t know how to ask customers to opt in without emailing them. So how do you build an email list without email addresses? Once you have addresses, what do you do with them? How often should your send emails? What can you do to ensure your emails are delivered and not lost in spam or junk filters?

Find the answers to these questions and more in our free eBook, Guide to Email List Management. Download it today to learn the tricks and tools to managing a successful email list.

Still need to gather more email addresses for your contact list? Fear not! With diligence and a little creativity, you can build a solid list of interested addressees through a variety of methods. Here we’ve compiled by category 105 strategies, tips, tools, and ideas to help you find viable, interested consumers to add to your email subscriber list. 

General tips to keep in mind

  1. Only use email addresses you have gathered with permission. Buying a list of consumer names is a bad idea since it heightens the risk of complaints, bounced addresses, unsubscribes, or accusations of spam. 
  2. Experiment with new methods – ranging from pen and paper to online forms – and maximize the most effective ones.
  3. Methods borrowed from others may not work for you, depending on your industry or business.
  4. Once your list grows, segment audiences to increase strategy effectiveness.
  5. Avoid being pushy; if you offer value, loyalty will follow.
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Fine-tune your opt-in form

  1. Make signups less invasive by initially requesting only addresses.
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  4. Mention subscriber numbers if they’re substantial.
  5. Promote exclusivity by offering subscribers something only they can get.
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Optimize email addresses you already have

  1. Gather your addresses from transactional business communications.
  2. Share email lists with complementary businesses (with permission from your subscribers).
  3. Include a signup link in all your personal emails.
  4. Place forward-to-a-friend links in all emails.

Use your website as a portal

  1. Promote your email by social media, website, and blog. There is no limit to where you can include a signup form for your email list.
  2. Design a separate landing page specifically for signups.
  3. Treat your blog home page like an email capture form.
  4. Use Leadboxes from Leadpages in author bylines used on your site.
  5. Conduct a heat map test to identify best places for opt-in buttons.
  6. Test-drive CTA locations including your 404 page, sidebars, headers, footers, pop-up boxes, slide-ins that appear halfway down a page, or “sticky” forms that move down with scrolling.
  7. Require commenters on your own blog to provide addresses.
  8. Offer opt-ins to anyone “liking” comments on your blog.
  9. Exchange opt-in links with other businesses’ newsletters.
  10. Incorporate opt-ins within online forums your prospects might visit.
  11. Buy paid ads on websites your customers are likely to frequent.
  12. Offer subscribers free downloads of your business app.
  13. Offer subscribers a free eBook or informational guide.
  14. Establish a riveting blog that ends in an opt-in request.
  15. Post limited content on your site; offer upgrades upon subscription.
  16. Launch a viral competition in which subscribers benefit by recruiting others.
  17. The SumoMe List Builder app launches opt-in ads toward visitors about to leave your site.
  18. The SumoMe Scroll Box app launches ads toward visitors who scroll down.
  19. Custom poll creator Qualaroo can ask visitors about subscribing.
  20. Establish a highly visible confirmation page on your site that reiterates subscription benefits.

Promote signups on social media

  1. Incorporate opt-in links to your promotional YouTube videos.
  2. On Pinterest, attract subscribers via Pins leading to your signup form.
  3. Add opt-ins to your business and personal social media profile sections.
  4. Email opt-ins to anyone mentioning your business on social media.
  5. Publish opt-ins on your LinkedIn company page and within LinkedIn discussions.
  6. Create compelling images to post on Instagram; include opt-ins.
  7. Stage sweepstakes and require entrants to provide addresses; Rafflecopter runs Facebook giveaways.
  8. Create a contest inviting minute-long videos on why customers like your product. Post results on social media, asking voters to submit addresses in order to vote.
  9. Run paid Facebook ads touting you email newsletter.
  10. Online tool Woobox sets up quizzes related to your brand; participants share results on social media and provide addresses.
  11. Online tool Binkd gathers addresses from participants who tweet about your brand in exchange for entry in a prize drawing.

Capture in-store customers

  1. Print opt-in information on your receipts.
  2. Gather business cards/addresses for a weekly or monthly prize drawing.
  3. Place signs and signup sheets in highly visible places.
  4. Make opt-in by smartphone effortless by displaying your QR code.
  5. Ask all callers if they’ll opt in.
  6. Use a sandwich board to request emails.
  7. Ask for email addresses as customers sign receipts or business agreements.
  8. Add opt-in invitations to shopping bags.
  9. Gather addresses during in-store promotional events.
  10. Offer customers discounts or free products for referrals.
  11. Gather emails from customers responding to your Groupon, LivingSocial, or similar promotions.

Don’t forget snail mail

  1. Mail postcards offering incentives for subscribing.
  2. Include opt-in invitations with invoices.
  3. Include inbox requests inside every shipped package.

Look for other opportunities

  1. Use your smartphone to log addresses at business networking events.
  2. Feature opt-in offers on your business cards.
  3. Bring signup forms to trade shows, chamber of commerce events, and other business gatherings.
  4. Text customers about your pending newsletter and invite them to opt in.
  5. Place ads in local publications that prospects are likely to read.
  6. Solicit addresses when your business appears at fundraisers, festivals, artisan markets, etc.
  7. Tout the benefits of your subscriber birthday or anniversary club.
  8. Pay employees commission for securing viable addresses.
  9. Offer discounts to customers providing others’ addresses.
  10. Stage daily deals at your business, requiring participants to opt in.
  11. Book speaking engagements; offer subscribers free consultations.
  12. Gather addresses of those who mention your business on Foursquare.
  13. Justuno can automatically provide subscribers a relevant coupon code.
  14. Set up a WordPress community for your business, then post opt-ins.
  15. Use BuiltWith.com to discover tools competitors use to build their lists.

Build repeat business through credibility

  1. Create a comprehensive year-long email marketing plan.
  2. Optimize personalization tools to customize your campaign.
  3. Keep subject lines creative, clear, and urgent.   
  4. Develop a voice likely to appeal to your key audience.
  5. Keep messages brief and highly digestible.
  6. Create a not-to-be-missed email newsletter.
  7. Use variety, interspersing promotional messages with helpful information.
  8. Create emails informing customers of your latest and greatest inventory.
  9. Create emails explaining how to get the most from your business or product.
  10. Consider emails that share your company’s successes.
  11. Repurpose popular blog posts, videos, or other marketing messages into email.
  12. Ensure all visuals are crisp, high quality, and engaging.
  13. Use humor when appropriate.
  14. Optimize messaging opportunities centered around holidays and other events.
  15. Create and tout clever special events related to your business.
  16. Incorporate effective calls to action (CTAs) that are easy to respond to via link or button.
  17. Offer visually appealing, easy-to-digest layouts.
  18. Ensure all messages are mobile-friendly and easy to open on any device.
  19. Sign up for and evaluate competitors’ email campaigns and newsletters.
  20. Study industry trends and how they might work for you.
  21. Resist giving away valuable longer-form content without subscriptions.
  22. Use creative videos within emails to grab viewer attention.
  23. Tease recipients with hints about your next email(s).

Gauge your effectiveness

  1. Frequently employ A/B split testing to fine-tune audience preferences.
  2. Use surveys to ask audiences how you’re doing. Free services like SurveyMonkey, KwikSurveys, and SurveyPlanet can help.
  3. Measure your conversion rates, bounce rates, open rates, and unsubscribe rates relative to industry standards.  
  4. Constantly cull your list by deleting subscribers that haven’t interacted with your emails or brand.
  5. Include unsubscribe links allowing users to indicate why they’re unsubscribing.
  6. Listen closely to customer feedback and adjust accordingly.

Want to learn more about the nuts and bolts of using and implementing your email marketing list?

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© 2017, Tori Tsu. All rights reserved.

The post 105 ways to build your email list | Tips, tactics, and best practices appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

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