How to Produce An Effective Whiteboard Animation Video

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There’s something hypnotic about whiteboard videos.

There’s a certain kind of magic involved in watching a story be created in front of your eyes. Whiteboard animation plays with this sensation by having characters and situations being drawn in the moment – this makes for an engaging video style, and if you’ve seen one before, you know it’s true.

If you don’t know of what I’m talking about, here’s a great example:

 

 

has a clean style, with just three key elements: a white background, a continuous black drawing, and the drawing hand.

This clean and simple magic combined with the fact that whiteboard videos are a clear regression to a classroom (what could be more educational than scribbling on a whiteboard?), creates the best video style for educational content.

In fact, whiteboard videos work great if you need to explain complex concepts to your audience in a simple way!

 

Are whiteboard videos really effective?

The psychology behind whiteboard videos

The psychological impact of whiteboard animation is something that has been studied for a couple of years now. In fact, Dr. Richard Wiseman investigated the difference between a whiteboard animated style and a classic “talking head” educational video. What he discovered, is that in information remembrance when the message is presented in a whiteboard animated style.

Why? Well, they’re entertaining, and people learn better when they’re entertained. Dr. Wiseman states that when an audience is in a good mood, they will retain a message better. Or, in other words: people learn better when something is fun!

It’s completely understandable, because the simpler an object or a message is, the less effort the brain needs to process it – which explains how the simplicity and aesthetics of whiteboard animation make it .

Whiteboard animation is also a kind of style that puts people in an “educational mood.”

 

 

What’s different about a whiteboard video?

Every explainer video style has its own identity, and this one is not an exception. Aside from other styles of explainer videos, like motion graphics or cartoon animation, whiteboard videos have a clear black and white style, with very few colors, usually just branded colors.

Why? Because it follows a classic whiteboard aesthetic!

It shows a whiteboard, a continuous black drawing (made with, or resembling a marker), and a drawing hand – which also helps provide a connected and ongoing storyline.

 

The five basic steps of whiteboard video production

There are 5 simple steps in the production of a :

 

1. An effective script

An effective whiteboard animation script has a clear structure, made up of three main steps: What, how and why.

  • What is the problem that your audience needs to solve?
  • How can your product solve that problem?
  • Why should they choose your product?

The answers to these questions are the backbone of any effective explainer video script and will shape the message you want to transmit to your audience. Always remember that your message should focus on your potential customer’s problems, and not so much on the specific features of your product.

You want your script to be useful and engaging, instead of just “salesy”.

 

2. The storyboard

The second step is to create a storyboard. This is a sort of “comic strip” which describes every single action and all the visual aspects of your video.

Specifically, a storyboard for a whiteboard animated video is somewhat different than a storyboard made for any other marketing video. This is because you must make sure that, even in the storyboard, every frame is connected – if there is no visual continuity, there’s no whiteboard video.

Because a whiteboard video simulates a person drawing on a whiteboard while telling a story, a whiteboard storyboard cannot present many transitions.

Also, one of the three main elements of a whiteboard video is the drawing hand, so don’t forget to include it in every frame of your storyboard.

Here’s an example:

 

whiteboard video storyboard example

 

3. Illustrate your ideas

A whiteboard video illustration usually consists of a huge work of art on a whiteboard. Because with whiteboard animation every frame must be connected, your drawings have to be made with perfect proportions, and be carefully placed.

Sometimes it’s interesting to zoom out at the end of the video, so that your audience gets to appreciate the full illustration.

But it also means a lot of work, so you should work with professional illustrators and animators, specialized in this particular style, so everything goes smoothly.

 

4. Whiteboard animation

After you have all your whiteboard illustrations, is time to bring them to life! Traditionally, this technique was made by recording a person drawing in real life, but nowadays it’s entirely digital.

You can add some character animation, even if it’s not the traditional way to do it. Used correctly, it’ll add quality and personality to your video.

Don’t forget the drawing hand – also digitally-made, using a good-quality photo of a hand holding a marker.

 

5. Voiceovers, music and sound FX

The last step in whiteboard video production is to add the voiceovers, music and sound effects. However, you shouldn’t wait until the rest of the steps are over to start working on this. In fact, the recommended thing to do is to record the voiceover as soon as the script is finished, because it will set the actual timing for the animation.

Use music and sound effects to enhance the storytelling power of your video. But, you should never overshadow it. They shouldn’t compete with the voice and should be in a lower volume.

An important thing about voiceovers: they should be recorded by a native speaker of the language and the region you’re targeting.

A dull, unfamiliar or unprofessional voice will spoil your entire video, and won’t generate any kind of brand trust!

 

How to brand your video

  • Use your brand’s color palette.

It’s very simple to build brand awareness with a whiteboard video – in fact, animated videos, in general, have a great brand awareness power, more than any other kind of video.

But with whiteboard videos, this is especially true. Branded colors, for example, are a great way to spark brand awareness: as whiteboard videos are traditionally black and white, the only other colors you should be adding are the ones on your brand’s color palette.

Contrasted with the black and white, your brand’s colors will stand out beautifully.

 

  • Your characters must represent your target audience.

Animated characters spark identification and empathy in your target audience. But, even more so, if said characters are modeled after your audience. That’s an incredibly powerful secret: .

Not only that: identify which of your buyer personas could respond better to your whiteboard video, and model the characters, style, setting, situation and tone to target this specific buyer.

This is something that you couldn’t do with a template, for instance. The only way to create a truly branded, effective whiteboard video is to make it fully customized to fit your brand’s needs.

 

What not to do

Now that you know how to make a high-quality whiteboard animated video, it’s time to learn what not to do.

 

1. Changing scenes constantly

As you have read before, the main characteristic of whiteboard animation is that the drawing should be continuous. Constantly cutting this continuity will ruin the style.

 

2. Using a full-color palette

Whiteboard videos imitate a drawing over a whiteboard, so any other colors would break the illusion: using a background with a different color than white won’t do the trick. What you can do is to use a couple of different colors other than black for the drawing itself.

Using too many colors won’t do the trick: choose a couple and use them as accents throughout your animation.

 

3. Extending your video too much

Whiteboard videos, just like any other explainer video style, should be able to communicate a .

If you intend to use your video just as an educational tool, then you can make it longer. But if used for marketing purposes, whiteboard videos should last two minutes tops.

 

4. Having a low-quality video

Low-quality video content will be the death of your , so avoid it like the plague! You can tell from miles away when a video is poorly made. And it won’t only hurt your credibility, but it’ll also make you lose money in the long run.

The answer to this is to find a great team of professionals that can help you create a good marketing video – specifically, a team that specializes in whiteboard animation.

Some businesses choose to go through the cheaper route: premade video content, created with templates. Though this might look like a less expensive option, it really isn’t: if you have a poor-quality video just for the sake of having it, you’ll be throwing your money in the trash because it won’t really get any return on investment (ROI).

And that’s exactly what a whiteboard video is: an investment. And, when done right, it has a very high ROI!

 

Wrapping it up

Whiteboard videos are an effective educational marketing tool. It’s a style that sets your audience’s mind into a learning mood, but it’s engaging enough to actually make learning look cool.

People learn better when they’re entertained, and this is why you should use the power of whiteboard videos to teach any complex concept to your audience effectively!

Use them to introduce your business to your audience and explain how your product and service can save the day.

Now, are you ready to create an awesome whiteboard explainer video?

 

How to Produce An Effective Whiteboard Animation Video

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How Lowering Your Bounce Rate Can Help You Increase Your Rankings

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One of the most overlooked ranking factors in Google is your bounce rate.

That’s because bounce rate doesnt have a direct impact on SEO.

BUT!

It does have a huge impact on lots of metrics that DO have a direct impact on your rankings.

In fact you are losing out on traffic every single day that you are ignoring your bounce rate.

I will explain more about that later, but first let me tell you…

What You Will Learn

  • Why bounce rate is important for SEO
  • What bounce rate really is (it’s not exit rate)
  • How to increase traffic by lowering your bounce rate
  • 7 ways lower your bounce rate right now

What Is Bounce Rate?

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who come to your website and leave without viewing any other pages on your website.

For example, if one of your pages has a bounce rate of 75%, it means that 75% of the people who come to that page leave after only viewing the page on which they entered.

It doesn’t matter if they spend 20 seconds or 20 minutes; if they leave without visiting any other page on your site, it’s considered a bounced visit.

If your site only has a limited amount of pages and few internal links, your bounce rate will naturally be high.

Think about it.

Where can people go?

On the other hand, if your page has more than a dozen pages, and particularly if they have good content, good design, and good internal linking—you will have a lower bounce rate.

To find your bounce rate, go to your account and on the left sidebar, click on Audience > Overview:

bounce rate google analytics

There — you will see your average bounce rate.

bounce rate

Note: This blogs bounce rate is 75.87%

This bounce rate isn’t representative of your real bounce rate because it includes the behavior of the new users and the returning ones.

That’s why you need to segment it by audience to get a true look at things.

In the left sidebar, click on Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

google analytics site content

Then, in the top bar, click on the “+Add Segment” button.

segment google analytics

In the list of available segments, scroll down until you find the “New Users” segment and click on the “Apply” button.

new users segment

The “New User” segment will only show you the bounce rate of the people who have never visited your site before.

In the All Pages report that you accessed before, you will be able to see how the bounce rate of your new visitors compares to the returning ones.

bounce rate google analytics

Bounce Rate Isn’t The Same As Exit Rate

Some people confuse bounce rate with exit rate. They may seem similar, but the truth is that they are different metrics.

Exit rate is the percentage of visits who actively click away to a different site from a specific page, whereas bounce rate is the percentage of visits that were the only one of the session.

In other words, the exit rate represents the visitors who exited on a specific page, after possibly having visited other pages on your site.

Bounce rate, on the other hand, records when a user exits directly from the page they entered.

Therefore, all bounces are exits, but not all exits are bounces.

How Bounce Rate Affects Your Rankings

Bounce rate has never been considered an important metric SEO-wise.

Sure it was nice to improve the user experience and there are many reasons to do that, but it had no impact on the way a site ranked in the search engines.

But all of that has changed.

One way bounce rate can negatively impact your rankings is when a user visits your site, clicks back to the search results, and clicks on a competitor’s result.

That’s called pogo sticking and is essentially a Bounce.

When that happens, the user is saying your site isn’t as good as your competitor’s one – and Google is tracking that!

A high bounce rate means you also likely have a high pogo sticking rate and that is casting negative votes against your rankings every day.

Not only that but a high bounce rate is often a symptom of weakness in other SEO factors-

  1. Low engagement
  2. Slow speed
  3. Bad mobile optimization
  4. Bad keyword matching
  5. Bad design
  6. Bad internal linking
  7. Bad content

If you improve each of these aspects of your site, you will make your website more relevant and therefore, better suited to rank while taking care of the pogo sticking issue at the same time.

So let me show you just how easy it is to lower your bounce rate right now-

How To Lower Your Bounce Rate (And Increase Your Rankings)

If your site has many different pages, like blog posts, landing pages and an about us page — you can expect a wide range of bounce rates.

That’s why you need to take a look at the bounce rate of each individual page to see which one has the highest bounce rate right now.

You should focus on fixing the pages with the highest bounce rate and most traffic before anything else.

Here’s how you do it.

Step #1 – Finding The Pages With The Highest Bounce Rate

First off, go to Google Analytics, and click on Behavior > Site Content > All Pages.

high bounce rate

Here you will see the pages on your website that have received the most pageviews and their bounce rates.

Sort the bounce rate by clicking on that column to see pages with the highest to lowest bounce rate at the top-

bounce rate report

One problem with this report is that you will get pages with little to no traffic.

You want to ignore those pages with next to no traffic and focus on the ones that have at least a certain amount of traffic.

To filter those low-traffic pages, click on “Advanced.”

advanced button

In the menu, click on the “Page” dimension, and scroll down to the “Site Usage” section.

Then click on the “Pageviews” filter.

Make sure the filter says “Greater than” and then define the minimum amount of pageviews you want to filter this report with.

filter google analytics

Click on “Apply” and you will get a list of all the pages with the highest bounce rate AND more than 100 pageviews-

filter report google analytics

This report helps you see what pages you need to focus your efforts on.

Step #2 – Find The Parts That People Don’t Like Or Understand

You may think your website is simple to understand, but your readers may disagree.

Instead of guessing what people do on your site, you can use heatmaps to find the specific user behaviors that show you the parts people look at, scroll to, and click-through.

With the information from heatmaps, you can determine the best layout & content placement for your site.

For example, the following heatmap shows how the visitors of this site behave-

With this heatmap, we can see the visitors scrolled in the article’s title, in the badges at the top, and in the menu bar, particularly the “Post Categories” section.

Some others seem to click on the bottom right, probably to click on the scroll bar.

With the information from this heatmap analysis, I could optimize my site by testing-

  • A larger top menu bar
  • Adding/removing calls to action on the menu bar
  • Adding a link to the award images (or placing a call to action near them)
  • Remove the about me box in the sidebar and replace it with a call to action (takes lots of space, gets zero attention)

You can use a heatmap to find things like:

  • The sections that people most look and most ignore, so you can make things more/less prominent
  • The buttons people see but ignore
  • Which page elements attract peoples attention

You should use the data from the heatmaps to carry out A/B tests and improve your pages.

A tool I recommend is , which not only gives you access to heatmaps, but also to session recordings, and form analytics, among other things.

Here is a for you.

Step #3 – Make Your Pages Match Your Desired Keyword Or Message

The best way of lowering your bounce rate is by improving the engagement on your pages.

One reason why your pages have low engagement may be due to the fact your visitors don’t get what they want—or expect to get—based on the information shown in the Google results.

For example, if you’re running an ad on Google Adwords that leads to a page with high bounce rate (and low conversion rate as well), it may be that the ad promises something that the visitors don’t get.

The same applies to someone who reaches your site through an organic search result, email or social media.

It’s important that your content matches the intent of the keyword.

In the example below, you can see the results for the keyword “how do you start a blog post”

start a blog

But none of the ads have anything to do with my search.

They are all about starting a blog, not writing a blog post.

I clicked on the third result, and here’s the landing page they offer:

weebly blog post

Weebly is one of the largest website builders, yet in this case, their ad is completely irrelevant to what I was looking for, which is blog post writing tips.

How do you think this affects their bounce rate?

Make sure your title tags and meta descriptions paint an honest picture of what your pages are about. As the saying goes, underpromise and overdeliver.

Step #4 – Improve Internal Linking

I have already shown you how implementing the right will improve rankings.

But besides the direct SEO benefits, internal linking allows people to visit more pages on your site, thus lowering your bounce rate.

The goal of your internal links should be to invite people to look further on your site.

Your internal links can be contextual (i.e., those that show up in a sentence), or separated from your content, like the ones shown at the bottom of this article.

For example, here’s one contextual link taken from the :

internal linking

And here’s an example of three non-contextual internal links:

non contextual internal links

If you have a blog or a niche site, you can add “Related articles” at the end of your content like I do on the blog .

When linking contextually, think about other pages that people could be interested in.

If you have an e-commerce store, think about adding a “Related products” at the end of your product pages. Actually if you have an ecommerce store you should implement .

Look at how uses three different types of related product recommendations-

  1. One for shopping the whole look (which adds more relevance to the recommendations)
  2. One that’s based on your preferences
  3. One based on recently viewed products

asos internal links

If your design includes a sidebar, like the case of , then include links that everyone should read.

the next web sidebar links

For example, if you have one article you know that has high engagement or a high conversion rate, make sure to add it.

I do this with the on the blog but you’ll notice my blog posts don’t have a sidebar – just my home page, archive pages and static pages do.

Step #5 – Optimize Your Site For Mobile

As I showed you in my recent post about , mobile organic traffic has accounted for 50.3% of all web traffic generated worldwide.

If someone visits your site from a phone and it’s not mobile optimized, they will have a horrible experience which will lead to a bounce or negative pogo stick signal.

Most (including my ) are responsive and mobile-friendly.

But I highly suggest you browse your site on both a smartphone and a tablet to see how it looks.

A by ConversionXL showed that when Bullymax optimized their site for mobile, they got a purchase conversion rate uplift of 24.5%-
conversion study

What’s more, They also saw an increase in their search engine traffic after making their site mobile-friendly-

bullymax

So pull out your phone or tablet and check your mobile experience right now.

You will be surprised at what gets through the cracks!

Step #6 – Make Your Content Easy To Read

One of the biggest contributors to a high bounce rate is badly written content.

But what is badly written content?

It’s not really got anything to do with grammar or spelling mistakes but it’s more about how that content engages people.

Does the content match the intent of the keyword? And if it does – does the content engage people enough for them to click through to other parts of your site?

For that to happen you need to make sure your content is easy to read and draws people in.

If you have read my content for some time, you know that all my paragraphs are short, easy to read, and clearly written.

matthew woodward content

You can do that by doing things like-

  • Adding sub headings
  • Adding images
  • Making text bold/italic/underlined
  • Adding bullet pointed lists (like this one)
  • Breaking your content down into smaller pieces

And contrary to popular SEO advice:

Once I finish writing an article, during the editing process I try to reduce the word count as much as possible while adding value at the same time.

You can find an analysis of your writing by checking the results Yoast SEO gives you at bottom of your posts.

yoast article content check

You don’t need to achieve the perfect score here (I never do) but you wants to try and get a green light on the majority of points.

While the plugin says there are two problems in my article, what matters isn’t to get a perfect score, but to get the majority of the points in green.

You could also take advantage of some of to help keep people hooked!

Just take a look at how Steve Kamb of NerdFitness writes the intro in :

nerdfitness content

It’s emotional, it’s appealing, and it creates suspense on how to achieve the same results as the subject of the article.

There are more techniques you can use in your intros, including the .

Whatever technique you use, having a catchy intro is a great way of sucking people into your site.

Step #7 – Make Your Site Faster

If your site is slow, people will bounce. Fact.

Not only that but it’s costing you more money than you realise.

Decreasing my site’s load speed time by 3.156 seconds allowed me to .

To increase your page speed, run your website through .

gt metrix speed analysis

GTMetrix will give you a breakdown of your page, its loading time, and the problems it encountered loading it.

gtmetrix analysis

The best part is that if you click on each problem, you will get a specific analysis of the files it had problems loading.

gt metrix results

If you need help improving your site speed, first you should also use a plugin like , which allows you to optimise your site’s page speed in a few minutes without spending a penny.

You can turbo charge that even further by using a Content Delivery Network like .

And if you are really serious about increasing your site speed (you should be) then use a good host like or , which will have a huge impact on your site speed.

Step #8 – Add Clear Call To Actions

You can have a beautifully-designed page, but if it doesn’t have a clear call-to-action (CTA) you will be doing damage to your bounce rate.

Every page on your site should have a specific goal in mind, for example-

  • A homepage that leads to a sign up trial, a lead magnet download, or a piece of content
  • A blog post that provides a lead magnet or content upgrade
  • An about us page that leads to a page where you show case studies from other clients

I visited the homepage of my on the planet, –

effective cta

Not only is the title and description fantastic but the CTA is above-the-fold, it contrasts with the rest of the page and offers a clear benefit at a low price.

Obviously people are going to click through at a high rate because its both highly relevant and the most obvious thing to do on the page.

Make sure all your pages and posts have at least one CTA, even if you find it hard to find one that’s relevant – adding something is better than nothing.

It’s easy to imagine that a product page has a “Add to bag” button, like the case of Asos.

asos cta

Your page should lead to a contact form for your services, a popular and profitable piece of content or a category page with your most widely shopped products.

Your blog posts should lead to your content upgrades or lead magnets backed up with an email marketing strategy

All of these things will not only lower your bounce rate, but increase your conversions and profits as well.

Wrapping It Up

So now you know how to lower your bounce rate, what are you waiting for?

Because you are literally losing traffic and profits every single day that you are not optimising your bounce rate.

Here are 4 quick ways you can get started today:

  1. Use Google Analytics to find which pages have the highest bounce rate that alsorecieve a large % of your sites traffic – focus on these pages first.
  2. Install to begin analyzing how your visitors interact with those pages. Based on the heatmap analysis, improve your site to make it easier to use.
  3. Run your site on and check for any problems that slow down your site. Install and use . You might want to change to a faster host like or .
  4. Run your site through the and fix any problems the tool finds. If you see your site isn’t responsive at all, it’s easier to .

Once you have taken care of those foundation problems you can focus on adding call to actions, making your content easier to read and improving internal linking.

But until then don’t forget:

Every day you are ignoring your bounce rate, you are losing traffic.

Which change has had the biggest impact on bounce rate for you?

was originally published on

“Evolution of Maturity” 01/12/10

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How Email Marketing Automation Can Help Small Businesses

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Email marketing campaigns help build brand awareness, nurture leads, and drive conversions. However, great email marketing takes a lot of work, especially for small businesses. Enter .

Nearly two-thirds of marketing automation efforts are handled by email, and it’s easy to see why.

 

marketing automation techniques currently used graph

 

Email automation allows you to send relevant and timely emails, personalized to the subscribers’ interests. With the help of software and data, email automation focuses on the email marketing triad:

Send the right message to the right person at the right time.

For small businesses, constant attention can be a problem due to lack of time and resources. Email automation requires upfront work, but then requires limited ongoing efforts for managing email marketing. (This is not to say it’s “set it and forget it,” but the upfront work goes a long way.)

Here’s why email automation can be so useful and successful for small businesses:

 

Automation saves time

With some upfront, dedicated work, email automation saves you time in the long run. Once you set up the workflows and start them, there’s no need to wait for anyone to hit the “send” button as the automation works around the clock.

Rather than sending a welcome email manually to each person that signs up one at a time, you should set up a workflow that sends out the emails for you in real time.

For example: As soon as a subscriber signs up, Formaggio Kitchen sends a “subscription confirmed” email with all their details and preferences automatically.

Can you imagine how time-consuming that would be if they did it manually?

 

a subscription confirmed email from Fromaggio Kitchen

 

Automation nurtures leads

Email automation allows you to nurture your leads, gain valuable information, and improve not only your marketing content down the line, but also your communication with customers and leads by your sales team as well.

Improved data collection allows you to personalize the content of your emails as well. Personalized emails have of batch-and-blast emails – and automation enables you to send emails with more relevant content because it pulls from data like demographics, behavioral segments, subscriber activity, and lifecycle stage.

Automated or “drip” emails are a great way to nurture your subscriber relationships at the touchpoints that are relevant to where they are in the buying journey. Whether it’s welcoming them to your brand or them, drip emails are the perfect way to leverage email as a marketing tool for small businesses without taking too much time from important day-to-day business tasks.

Automated emails can be used to address customer questions and issues, cutting down on time spent on customer service. Sending emails that include Frequently Asked Questions or ways to troubleshoot their problems will help you empower your customers with information and build trust with your brand.

GreenBlender does a great job answering customer questions right within the inbox. In one email they’re driving engagement, adding value to their subscribers’ lives, and backing it up with a powerful CTA to drive clicks.

 

greenblender's email answering questions

 

If you’re a small business in the ecommerce sector, sending out product recommendations or cart abandonment emails for better engagement can have a big impact on your conversion rate.

Mack Weldon sends out cart abandonment emails that do a great job of driving a sense of urgency that encourages the cart abandoners to hurry and complete their purchase before the items they were interested in sell out.

 

a cart abandonement email from mack weldon

 

 

Automation helps with A/B testing

You can create to run for a while by setting up two (or more) variations of a campaign. You can test content, subject lines, what have you, and measure your standard email metrics and conversions. Long-term testing can be extremely useful and made easier in many ways through automation. Ultimately, testing will help you understand your audience on a deeper level so that you can build better-performing programs.

Testing doesn’t have to be between campaigns full of bells and whistles. Autopilot tested plain-text against HTML emails and actually saw much higher engagement in the plain-text emails. You don’t need to overcomplicate your automation and testing to have big impact on your business.

 

autopilot's email marketing campaign a:b testing html versus plain text

 

Automation provides great results tracking

With automated emails triggered by specific subscriber actions, you’re able to track and measure the results of each campaign along the way, along with the requisite ROI it drives.

 

Automation helps enhance brand awareness

Frequency of brand impressions via email (and other channels) helps with brand awareness. Automation can help you send email more often, helping keep your brand top of mind. Better brand awareness also helps keep your subscribers engaged with your emails.

Offering special discounts exclusive to your email subscribers helps g within your emails. It’s also a great way to drive revenue from your existing subscribers and make them feel special.

Moo does this perfectly with two emails to drive urgency in their subscribers.

 

moo email special offer a discount for subscribersmoo special offer urgency

 

Automation fits with the customer journey

Email automation allows you to schedule emails that align with the customer journey. For example: if a customer has bought an eye cream, you can set up an automated email for 21 days after the purchase to remind them to restock their medicine cabinets. This type of email is effective in driving repeat sales and boosting conversions.

The messaging you use in your email will vary depending on your relationship with your customer and their progress in your sales funnel. If the subscriber is still at the awareness stage, don’t jump to sending them your rate card. Instead, nurture your leads with a webinar invite or a whitepaper that shares more information about how your offering adds value, to drive them further down your sales funnel.

An example of nurturing your leads can be this email by Invision.

 

email marketing automation, invision's email, an invitation for a webinar

 

Automation – the big engine that could

Automation is a great tool for sending relevant emails to the right people at the right time. (Yes, I’m reiterating.) But it’s important to recognize that with this great power comes great responsibility (Spider-man shout out!).

Also, remember to send the emails only if they add value for the subscriber. Ask yourself, “Will this email contribute anything significant to the subscriber’s inbox—and their life?”

Set the email up for automation only if the answer is “Yes.”

 

About the author: Scott Cohen is the VP of Marketing at – a result driven email marketing agency which specializes in providing a best email marketing solutions right from strategy through development to execution. He has been living and breathing email marketing since 2007. Scott brings a unique perspective to email marketing that combines best practices with real-world-tested strategy and tactics. Scott loves sharing email marketing tips & best practices on .

 

How Email Marketing Automation Can Help Small Businesses

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“Meh” Visuals? 11 Tips to Make Your Company’s Visual Content More Appealing

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Your company’s image library says a lot about its marketing plan. The images its marketing team chooses to share, even more so. — Yes, even if the “marketing team” is still you, the founder.

Follow these straightforward tips to render your company’s pics, charts, memes, videos, and anything else you can plausibly construe as “visual” more appealing to those you expect to consume it.

1. Trust Your (Untrained) Eye

Here’s a simple rule of thumb: if you truly, honestly think it looks good enough to publish, it probably is.

Yes, this is a potential minefield. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and there’s simply no guarantee that your taste is representative of your audience’s. If your standards are unusually low, shouldn’t you get a second opinion?

Perhaps. But you don’t need a marketing professional to sign off on every single piece of visual content you produce. If you have a graphic designer on your team (or on call — see below), then you’re in better shape than 80 percent of early-stage businesses. If you don’t have a visual arts expert on staff, surely you have someone you trust to a) critically evaluate visual content, and b) provide unvarnished feedback on same.

2. Live-Link Your Pins

Not yet sold on Pinterest? Cast off those lingering doubts, set up a page, and begin adding high-quality photos for followers to peruse.

Pinterest is at its best when brands use it as a gateway for awareness- or consideration-stage prospects — consumers researching or weighing their options, but not quite ready to pull the trigger on a purchase. To attract these early-to-mid-stage prospects, you’ll want to live-link every single pin to a corresponding product page, with or without a checkout feature. The is a case in point: a no-frills funnel for students, alums, and parents searching for distinctive class jewelry.

3. Use Solid-Color, Decluttered Backgrounds for Product Thumbnails

From a distance, your product thumbnails should appear cut from the same cloth, even if they’re produced in different locations, at different types, with different equipment. Key to this effect is the background — namely, a decluttered, solid-color, low-contrast background that’s the farthest thing from the focus of the composition.

4. Invest in a Legit Camera (Not a Cameraphone) for High-Touch Photos

A low-key background only gets you so far. So does your off-the-shelf cameraphone, powerful though it may be. If you’re serious about producing and editing your own product photos, bite the bullet and invest in a legitimate digital camera. When those first stunning thumbnails , you’ll thank yourself for loosening your normally tight fist.

5. Find a Freelance Graphic Designer You Trust

Don’t have a graphic designer on staff yet? Not sure you can afford a full-timer anyway?

No sweat. If you’re not running a full-service marketing shop out of your office, there’s no need to invest in an above-replacement designer. Look to reputable freelance platforms like UpWork to find on tight timeframes. Once you find someone you like working with, ask whether they’re amenable to an increased workload; if they are, you may have unwittingly found your first all-visual employee (and perhaps your future CMO).

6. Bone Up on Memetics

One type of visual content for which you probably don’t need a professional graphic designer is the trusty meme. Meme-making crash courses abound; is better than average, and beginner-friendly to boot. If you’re humor-challenged, or worried about toeing the appropriate/off-brand line too closely, make it a collaborative effort or farm out the work to a (paid) friend whose judgment you trust.

7. Develop a “House Style” for Promotional Photography

You can recognize your own handwriting at a glance, right? Your photography should be no different. For product photos and candid around-the-office or in-the-field images, work on developing a recognizable “house style” with similar palettes, saturations, and subject placements. This is an impossible-to-overestimate aspect of consistent, professional branding. You might not hit the mark every time, but you’d be remiss not to try.

8. Remember the “One-Thirds” Rule

File this under basic, oft-forgotten principles of photography. Also known as the “,” it asks photographers to divide their fields into horizontal and vertical thirds to create nine spatial blocks. The lines separating those blocks become photographic axes — the spines along which photographers should situate subjects or elements. For whatever reason(s), the human eye responds well to rule-of-thirds compositions, so keep it in mind as you create original works.

9. Vary Your Subjects

This could also read: “don’t be afraid of stock photography.” If you only have a handful of human subjects at your disposal, and you’re not ready to run a casting operation out of your cramped coworking space, turn to reputable platforms like Shutterstock and Pexels (which has an extensive free library) for reinforcements. Most savvy audience members can tell the difference between original and stock photography, but if that’s preferable to running through the same three personnel configurations in a dozens-deep photo library, so be it.

10. Use Popular SEO Tags for Images You Want to Make Discoverable

Don’t sleep on image SEO. Use tags that accurately describe the content of your photos — say, “lake cabin” or “sand dunes”. You won’t rank on the first page for all (or even most) photos you tag, but the extra effort could get you across the line in less competitive cases.

11. Move Beyond #NoFilter

The Instagram hashtag #NoFilter was popular for a minute back there. It retains adherents today, but the moment has definitely passed. And for good reason — tasteful filters absolutely have their place, particularly in marketing materials that call for arresting or surreal visual elements.

Set the Right Tone

Above all else, make sure your visual media portfolio sets the right tone for your organization and brand. It’s better never to post a questionable photo or dash off an original image without proper editing than to realize what you’ve done and rush to take it down before it attracts too much scorn. Your audience is paying attention. Don’t let them down.

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Vegan Skincare Moisturizer & Cleanser for Men! EVENPRIME Review

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SEO Booster Plugin for WordPress

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SEO is one of those things that most business owners loathe. Trying to rank on Google is stressful, ranking factors can be confusing, and without in-depth SEO knowledge, it can often seem impossible. And if you don’t have the advertising budget of a large company, you have to find creative ways to get more value out of your SEO.

The is a reliable option if you need help with your SEO.

Finding Your Audience
Finding the right keywords to reach your target audience takes some effort. But SEO booster makes that process a little easier by helping you determine which keywords are worthwhile.
The plugin has all the tools you’ll need to start ranking on Google. The basic version is free, while a premium version is offered if you want more features.

If you are just starting out with your SEO, this plugin is one you’ll want to check out.

Easy to Use
The installation is extremely easy. All you have to do is install the plugin like any other WordPress plugin.

The plugin is compatible with multiple sites, so if you manage multiple websites, you can use it across all of them.

It integrates well with other similar plugins such as Yoast SEO and SEOPress.

The developer support is reliable. If you ever have any questions, the support team is readily available to help you.

Convenience
The interface is clean and well-organized. This makes it easy for you to track your SEO efforts, make changes, and improve them.

The plugin automatically turns keywords into links. While this isn’t a massive feature, it does save you time.

Tags and categories are added automatically. Categories and tags are an important way to improve your website’s navigation. Because SEO Booster does them automatically, it helps you stay on top of it.

Comprehensive
The plugin monitors all the incoming traffic to your site. Now you don’t have to rely on Google Analytics as much.

It tracks backlinks, so you can see if you are receiving useful backlinks that will boost your SEO efforts.

Receive weekly reports recommending changes and other information. While these reports can often seen generic, they do spot small errors that are easy to fix. Definitely a plus.

One Flaw
However, like most plugins, SEO Booster does lock some of its better features behind a paid Pro version. These features include:

-Additional details regarding backlinks.
-Tracking crawler visits (i.e. telling me which pages were being indexed by the search engines).
-Exporting the search optimization data to a file.

That being said, $47 a year is a fair price to pay for such a service.

Overall

The SEO Booster plugin does its job fairly well. It provides you with access to many features for free, and offers a few premium features that are locked behind a paywall.
If you are a small business owner struggling with SEO.

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GDPR Emails – 6 Lessons from a Copywriter’s Inbox

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I’m sure you’ve been swamped with GDPR emails these past few weeks – until the point you’ve had enough. I have, too. But for me, it’s been kind of a good thing – because I love studying emails, especially the copy. And today, I wanted to share with you some examples of how businesses talked to their audiences about GDPR-related changes. Hope you can still bear some!

 

There were two types of GDPRmails (mind if I call them that?):

 

  • ones that listed the changes in privacy policies, terms of service, and all sorts of other legal documents,
  • and reconfirmation campaigns that tried to get people to opt in again.

 

Not everyone had to send the second type – although some did it “just in case.”

In general, reconfirmation emails tended to be more creative (no wonder – they did have to convince people to subscribe again), while the informational emails often drifted towards tedious legal clauses (or miles and miles of tedious legal clauses.)

But not in every case.

I’ve read enough of them to have some thoughts about general trends, and how some could’ve been made better (i.e., friendlier and easier to understand.)

Disclaimer: I realize that with these emails companies were mostly performing their legal duty under GDPR. But I also strongly believe that every single email, no matter its purpose, can be engaging and show a brand’s personality (or in the very least be easy to understand – because, seriously, why send an email nobody gets?)

 

So let’s get to it.

 

Lesson #1

Honesty is the best policy. Wait, or was it privacy?

You know how most of the GDPRmails started with essentially the same thing?

 

gdpr email cliche, we value your privacy

gdpr email cliche, we value your privacy

gdpr email cliche, we value your privacy

gdpr email cliche, we value your privacy

gdpr email cliche, we value your privacy

gdpr email cliche, we value your privacy

gdpr email cliche, we value your privacy

 

This must’ve single-handedly been the most overused phrase in emails this year (with variations.)

I have to wonder, if brands value our privacy so much, where in the world does spam come from? Or if they only just started valuing it because of GDPR, why didn’t they care before? Or did they?

Essentially, it’s a good thing. Of course, provided it’s true, and not just a slogan. So why not be honest with your recipients, instead of beginning your emails with the same ol’, same ol’ they’re by now fed up with and don’t believe a single word of? Why not just be open with them and explain things like you would in a conversation?

Luckily, some brands thought better of it and found other ways to assure us they cared. That’s why I loved this simple, to-the-point email from LostIn City Guides:

 

straight to the point email from LostIn City Guides

 

And I quite liked this slightly longer one, but still relatable, from the shoe company miista (although it has its flaws.)

 

an honest email from miista

 

See? It’s all about honesty and trust. Things an overused phrase just won’t work for.

 

Lesson #2

Don’t make it all about you.

A mantra a lot of marketers keep repeating, that others are still somehow deaf to. We know you had to send those emails to be compliant. But what does that mean for me, your customer (subscriber, user, pick the right one?)

You know how we (and I mean all of us, sometimes) tend to talk to people not really to listen to what they have to say, but just to respond and talk about ourselves? Brands are like that, too. I noticed a lot (and seriously, A LOT) of senders focused on their own reasons why they needed to send me all this stuff. Like in Ryanair’s example (which actually might be the record-holder in the “we value your privacy and trust” category.)

 

an email from ryanair

 

It almost makes you want to ask “So what, Ryanair?” (Okay, it makes ME want to ask them.)

Or in this one from Synerise. It looks short, but it explicitly states the benefit for the company (to stay compliant and be able to send me emails in the future.)

 

Synerise gdpr email

 

You see, if you want to show me you care about my data, just go ahead and do it. If you want me to trust you, don’t tell me you want me to trust you – MAKE me trust you. (After all, you wouldn’t send me an email saying “we’re sending you this email because we want you to buy this thing from us.” You’d just convince me to buy it. Right? Right?)

The email above is also a good example of how to overcomplicate things. Because that paragraph-long sentence could’ve been much, much clearer. With a clearly stated benefit for the recipient.

Which actually is…

 

Lesson #3

Clarity trumps everything.

So let me be clear about this. And I’m sure you’ll forgive me for not including all the long emails with fragments pasted straight from privacy policies written by legal departments. Oh, I don’t have anything against legal departments, seriously, ours has been EXTREMELY helpful. But I know how much work it can take to turn legal jargon into human language everyone can understand.

Because that’s our role as marketers – to make sure people understand what we’re saying. Even (or maybe especially?) if it has to do with the law.

 

a clear email from fink

 

(And I just really, really wanted to include this email, because I love this band. But also, because they just told me why they were sending me this and what I should do. Plain and simple. You can be sure I clicked. But then again, .)

 

Lesson #4

Start right at the beginning.

Which means: . Or subject lines and preheaders (my favorite couple!), to be exact.

Now, this is an interesting one. A lot of the subject lines were just plain “Privacy policy updates”. Which sends a clear message, but then again, lacks a benefit that would make me want to open the email (especially if you got tens of similar emails around the same time.)

I even had an impression some of these emails weren’t really meant to be opened. Like, brands actually hoped nobody was going to read them. They HAD to send them to comply, but wanted to get it over and done with, before the deadline. But to me, that’s just disrespectful to the recipients. Wouldn’t you agree?

Some of the subject lines were even a little off-putting (although I assume they were supposed to be effective, but to me, that was the kind of click-baity effectiveness that’s just not cool.)

 

a threatening gdpr subject line

 

And notice the preview text. I mean, I like you, Web Summit, but come again? Why am I to blame you didn’t collect your optins right the first time?

See, that’s the kind of humor (because I don’t suspect Web Summit of bad intentions) that maybe wasn’t exactly used in the right place, at the right time. (Which brings us back to: always think about your audience and how they might feel about your emails.)

And by the way, always pay attention to what pops up in your preview text (especially when it’s a matter as sensitive as personal data protection.)

 

preview text

 

Or to your sender name/address (which is kind of a big deal when we’re talking GDPR AND trust.)

 

no reply email address

 

This one’s not only confusing (and might even look suspicious.) It’s also one of my email pet peeves – an address that tells you right off the bat: we’re just here to tell you something, but don’t bother getting back to us. We’re not listening. 

But coming back to humor:

 

Lesson #5

Adjust your tone.

GDPR is no laughing matter. Nor is it just really boring, extremely complicated stuff only lawyers will enjoy (although some probably ARE enjoying this.) It’s related to all of us. It’s about our personal data and what others do with it. It’s about having the right to information.

Looking at the emails I got, my impression was that the brands that did it best were the ones that went for a moderate approach. Neither formal and boring nor too cool for school. Simply human.

For example, I love how the clothing brand Reformation talks in their emails, and yes, this email was totally in line with their . But still, it didn’t really give me any valuable information and just left me there, empty-handed. Not really amused. (Maybe that’s because the execution wasn’t perfect – notice our little cliche friend?)

 

a gdpr email from reformation

 

The email from MOO, on the other hand, a business card manufacturer whose funny and personable email communication I’ve enjoyed for years, maybe lacked the humor I’d known them for, but then just made things clear and simple. And gave me some facts I could explore if I wanted to.

 

an update to the moo privacy policy email

 

Although, sadly, they too fell prey to our we-value-your-privacy friend.

(P.S. Probably one of the rare instances you get away with all kinds of humor and GDPR in one email is when you’re a company like Phrasee:

 

email subject from phrasee

 

And one last thing (although I might write a sequel, because I’m way past 1200 words now, and this is by no means the last thing.)

 

Lesson #6

Don’t assume people know (unless they do.)

It’s what psychologists call the curse of knowledge. I bet most of us marketers were so engrossed with GDPR, we thought everyone knew exactly what it was and why we were sending those emails.

And I guess we were mostly right when our customers were marketers like us.

That’s why it’s perfectly fine to say this when you’re a company like Unbounce:

 

a gdpr email from unbounce

 

Notice how despite talking to marketers, they’re still doing a great job by explaining the gist in very simple terms.

But the customers of a lot of B2C companies probably didn’t have the faintest idea what the fuss was about or knew very little. So there’s another reason why clarity is so important. And while it may have been a little too much to explain what GDPR was, maybe, just maybe, there were people among Etsy’s audience who really had no clue.

 

updates to etsy's policies gdpr email

 

So there. Just show them you care.

All these lessons boil down to one thing. Well, not a “thing”. ‘Cause it’s people. Your customers.

Whatever emails you send them – even if they’re GDPR-related and no one wants to hear about it anymore (oh, but maybe they do, they just want to understand what you’re saying.) Think about the people reading these emails. They should get your message. They should know what to do. And they should trust you.

But to make them trust you, it might not be enough to say their privacy is important to you.

 

I bet your inboxes are crammed with more examples. Care to share? The comments are all yours.

 

GDPR Emails – 6 Lessons from a Copywriter’s Inbox

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STOP WASTING TIME | Stefan James Motivation

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Email Marketing Excellence 2018: Top Tips and Insights

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Once again we’ve partnered up with Smart Insights to conduct a global benchmarking research to help you improve your email marketing, marketing automation, and content marketing ROI. On May 30, we ran a webinar where we presented the key findings and top tips to improve your marketing performance. Here’s a sneak peek.

 

Is this report for me?

This year we surveyed 585 marketers from 181 countries, across 19 industries (44% B2C, 19% B2B, and 37% both).

This makes the report a valuable resource for:

  • email marketing and automation specialists who want to learn which techniques will get them the best results, including high-opportunity areas that aren’t fully used by most businesses.
  • digital marketing managers whowant to know how email and marketing automation compare to other channels. The report findings should help start in-depth discussions about the need for an integrated online marketing strategy.

 

A few findings from the report

 

1. Email remains the most effective digital marketing channel.

Times change, but one thing remains the same. is still considered to be the most effective online marketing channel, followed by social media marketing, SEO, and content marketing.

 

2. 53% of marketers send the same message to everyone.

 An astounding 53% of respondents don’t segment their email list and don’t target different people with different messages. As disappointing as it is, it’s a huge opportunity for your business.

 

3. 60% don’t proactively test their email marketing.

If you don’t measure and test your marketing performance, you can’t optimize it. That’s one of the most important reasons for developing a .

 

4. 20% of respondents don’t use automation at all.

As many as one fifth of the respondents don’t use at all. If you want to move form batch and blast towards personalization and targeting, you simply need to start using marketing automation.

 

5. Just a few track customer activity like browsing the website or cart abandonment.

Integrating your email marketing software with your ecommerce platform allows you to send contextual emails that prove to be extremely efficient.

 

6. Most respondents declare basic expertise level and only 5% call themselves experts.

 

webinar email marketing excellence

 

Well, it’s no surprise that most marketers consider their email marketing expertise basic.

But don’t worry – no matter your current expertise level, you can become an expert.

 

Watch the webinar to learn how to:

 

1. Map out potential customer touch points

Do you know your audience’s information needs? Do you send relevant marketing communication along the customer lifecycle? Map out potential customer touch points not to miss any opportunity.

 

2. Use marketing automation to improve communication

As simple as that! Start using marketing automation and you’ll see that segmentation, personalization, testing, and optimization is not that complicated. Once you’re equipped with the right tools, you can start improving your digital marketing performance.

 

3. A quick optimization plan

Learn how to start small and gradually move towards becoming a digital marketing expert with a quick, 4-stage plan.

 

Make email marketing work harder for you

Watch the webinar and discover how you can automate your email marketing and save time, get better ROI, and deliver a relevant message.

 

 

 

Email Marketing Excellence 2018: Top Tips and Insights

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