How to Build a Newsletter People Will Actually Read

Duct Tape Marketing Newsletter - Created with Placeit

Duct Tape Marketing Newsletter – Created with PlaceIt

Think about the last newsletter you received in your inbox.  Was it a newsletter you looked forward to receiving or just another piece to add to the daily content clutter?

If it was a piece of clutter, I am guessing the information included in the newsletter did not provide you with value.  Many people view newsletters as an opportunity to sell versus an opportunity to build trust.  I am not saying you can never sell to your list, however, that trust factor is the most important element that needs to be built up first.

What does this mean for you?  As marketers and small business owners, we have the chance to stand out from the daily content dump.  To actually provide value and build trust with our audiences.  To offer something they look forward to receiving each week or month.

Below are four easy steps to build a newsletter people will actually read.

Focus on the subject line

This is your chance at a first impression.  You know the old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”, well, I am pretty sure that doesn’t apply here.  The subject line is the first glance, the first opportunity to grab someone’s attention and to get them to click through to read more.  Here are some tips on best practices for writing subject lines:

  • Keep it interesting. Change the subject line for each newsletter you send
  • Get to the point. Keep the subject line to 50 characters or less
  • Add personalization.  Use either name or localization in subject line
  • Keep it honest.  Make the subject line relevant to the actual information in the newsletter
  • Encourage action.  Add some urgency to your subject line such as “24 hours only”

Share the best content

When creating a newsletter, one of the best (and easiest) practices is content curation.  Monitoring industry related blogs over the week and collecting the most relevant and value-packed posts to share with your audience is a great way to add value for a number of reasons.  Here are a few of them: establishing relationships with other experts by sharing their content, providing your audience with the best information available to save them time and research, and saving yourself endless hours each week having to write all the content on your own.  A win-win-win!

Keep it mobile

According to emailmonday, 45% of email opens occurred on mobile, 36% on desktop and 19% in a webmail client.  If on average, 45% of you audience is viewing your newsletter on their mobile device, don’t you think it is worth paying attention to?  I sure do.  Here are some best practices for mobile friendly newsletters:

  • Learn to love larger font sizes – 16px as the smallest option
  • Move away from text-heavy newsletters.  Sometimes less is more!
  • Use dividers or different color backgrounds to break up the newsletter into sections
  • Use large, clickable buttons for calls to action

Keep a schedule

If you take the steps above to add value to your newsletters, people will actually start to look forward to hearing from you.  Keeping a schedule to send the newsletter each week or month allows your audience to start to know when to expect it to come through.  Who doesn’t love becoming part of their client’s routine?

I would love to hear from you!  Do you have an example of a newsletter you look forward to receiving?

Sara JantschSara Jantsch is the Vice President of Operations at Duct Tape Marketing.  She oversees day-to-day operations to support the growth of Duct Tape Marketing and the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.  She focuses on strategic planning, goal setting and directing the operations of the company in support of its goals.  Sara is also a Duct Tape Marketing Consultant and has a very strong passion for working with small business owners that started back at the dinner table as a child. Connect with Sara on twitter.

Turning Leads Into Customers With an Email Autoresponder

Today’s Guest Post is by Jack Reamer – Enjoy!

Imagine if your marketing ran on autopilot…

You could sit back, kick your feet up and watch your sales go through the roof.

You could grow your business (and take that much-needed vacation) without worrying about how you’ll get your next customer.

Sounds good, right?

Now, you know that marketing isn’t that easy. But a good email autoresponder can bring you new customers like clockwork – even when you’re not working.

What is an email autoresponder?

An autoresponder is an automated series of emails that gives your leads value, draws them closer to your brand and eventually makes them buy what you’re selling.

Basically, it puts your email marketing on autopilot.

How can your business sell with an autoresponder?

Photo credit: Banquet hall via flickr (license)

Photo credit: Banquet hall via flickr (license)

Picture yourself in a 10,000 square foot banquet hall that’s packed with your potential customers.

You’re holding a microphone, and your potential customers are waiting to hear your best sales pitch. What would you say? What would you want them to know before they made a buying decision?

Those are your selling points. And as long as you have your lead’s attention, your email autoresponder can deliver your selling points just like this fictional banquet hall sales pitch.

You need to know two things to sell with an email autoresponder:

  1. What do your leads care about?
  2. What are your selling points?

If your autoresponder messages are about things your leads care about, they will open and read your emails. So earn their attention by sending emails that will help your leads solve a problem or reach a goal.

Then how do you sell? Easy. Just connect one of your selling points to each email.

Let’s look at an example:

Let’s say you’re a bookkeeping company that wants to turn your leads into customers with an autoresponder.

Your leads are busy small business owners who care about saving time running their business. And one of your selling points is you can save business owners one hour a week by doing their bookkeeping.

An email that would work well in your autoresponder is:

“How any business owner can save 5 hours this week”

Then, inside that email, give five time-saving tips for small business owners.

Make sure one of the tips talks about hiring a bookkeeper to instantly save 1 hour every week. (Include a link back to your website so your leads can click to learn more about your bookkeeping service.)

Why does this email work well?

  • It’s a topic your leads care about so it will get opened.
  • You provide five helpful tips so it will get read.
  • You tie your selling point to the email so your leads can click for more details.

Three email ideas for an autoresponder that sells:

1) Welcome Email

Use this email to get your leads to look forward to future emails (by telling them what’s coming up) and to ask, “what are you struggling with?” so you know exactly what your leads need help with.

2) Problem Solver

Help them solve a problem they’re struggling with. (Just make sure the problem relates to your business.) Give your leads helpful tips to establish your credibility and to prove you’re an expert.

3) Case Study

Talk about a past customer’s problems (and how you helped them solve it), so it’s helpful to your leads. Make sure to provide insights with this case study, but don’t forget to include a testimonial.

Have any questions about selling with email? Leave them in the comments, and I’ll answer each one.

Jack ReamerJack Reamer is an email marketing expert who specializes in helping B2B companies turn leads into customers with helpful & engaging emails. Jack shares actionable email marketing insights on his blog emailsthatsell.com. Want to bring in more sales with your emails? Click here to learn the four biggest mistakes business owners make with email marketing (and how to avoid them.)

How to Use Marketing Automation Correctly

Today’s Guest Post is by Zach Watson – Enjoy!

marketing automation

Photo via PhotoPin

Marketing automation can’t be described as a new concept anymore. It would be more accurate to say it’s a difficult undertaking because automating anything requires precision and constant maintenance.

But it’s not impossible to use this strategy effectively. The fact that marketing automation is no longer a new, mysterious technology provides small businesses with the one resource they need to capitalize on this software: best practices.

The biggest risk of automating your marketing is that you will do it incorrectly, and your customers will be left confused and alienated. But by using other marketers as a guide, you’ll be better positioned to avoid the common pitfalls of automation. Here are a few:

Common Uses for Marketing Automation Include:

1. Content Marketing

Educational or entertaining content can be used both as a means to grow your email list and a way to increase engagement from your subscribers. If you’re offering a product or service, then using content as a means to move buyers through the sales funnel is an excellent use of marketing automation.

The key to this strategy is to create campaigns that use if/then logic to deliver personalized content for the interests of each prospect. This builds rapport and trust between your company and your audience while also moving these prospects closer to using your product or service.

2. Onboarding

As software as a service has become a more common delivery model for software products, so has the onboarding email chain become a more common tactic for marketers. Many organizations devote a great deal of effort to getting prospects to sign up for free trials of their software in order to get them in the sales funnel.

Once the prospect signs up, it’s critical that they use the software to its full extent. After using the software becomes a habit, then the free trial user is exponentially more likely to become a paying customer.

The key to automating onboarding emails is to sync your marketing automation system with the software you sell so you can target users based on what behavior they have or haven’t taken.

The approach is similar to content marketing, but instead of a series of educational pieces of content, onboarding campaigns are usually personal emails discussing how to use specific features of the software.

3. Promotions and Discounts

These are often the bread and butter of e-commerce retailers as well as brick and mortar shops. Sending discounts is an effective strategy for driving both online and instore purchases, and it can be tempting to blast your best offers to everyone. However, like the other two tactics, you need to base these campaigns on user behavior to make sure your offers are as targeted as possible.

Now that you’ve got a framework for what you can do with marketing automation, it’s important to examine what you should not do with this type of software.

Don’t send the same emails to everyone

Marketers new to automation software often worry that creating automated email campaigns and scheduling other types of interactions along the sales funnel will make them sound like a robot. That’s not true — unless, of course, you send the same emails to your entire audience.

Failing to appreciate the differences in the interests of your customers is precisely what will make you sound like a robot. Fortunately, marketing automation products make it particularly easy to track user behavior on your website, in your email campaigns, and on your social media.

Use that information to make your marketing personalized, and your communication won’t sound robotic or mass-produced.

Don’t set and forget

To gather all the correct information you need to segment your marketing campaigns, you’ll need to test different approaches with different audiences. For example, “Does offer A work well with customers interested in product 2, or does offer B work better?” Test early and test often. You need to monitor your campaigns on a daily basis and make changes as necessary.

One of the cardinal sins of marketing automation is creating a single campaign for each segment and simply letting that campaign run without oversight. This is a massive mistake. It’s unlikely you’ll create the perfect marketing formula the first time around, so testing provides a way to improve quickly.

Marketing automation vendors don’t just make software that only huge businesses use; many make products for businesses of all sizes. But a cheaper price doesn’t take the pressure off of the marketer. Automation demands a lot of work.

You’re essentially playing the role of an engineer to construct a marketing lifecycle for your prospects. Be sure to follow industry best practices and constantly monitor your results to succeed in your automating endeavors.

Zach WatsonZach Watson is the content manager at TechnologyAdvice. He covers gamification, healthcare IT, business intelligence and other emerging technology. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Help Compile a List of Best Email Services

Effective email marketing is an essential ingredient in any marketing plan. It has, for many businesses, become the most important conversion tactic for selling goods and services.

Email Service Providers (ESPs) offer tools that allow you to some pretty sophisticated campaigns, capture, follow-up and segmentation when fully employed.

I am using a fairly new curation tool called List.ly to compile, with your help, a list of the best email service providers. The current list is comprised of services that I have personally used as one time or another over the years and I would for you to add your favorites, vote the ones listed up or down, comment on and share this.

It would great if you added features and reasons why you like one or another in the comments feature to the right of each entry.

John Jantsch John Jantsch
Owner
24 items   4.44k views

Email Service Providers

Compiling a list of Email Service Providers (ESP) that offer great value and service for small business.

Source: http://www.ducttapemarketing.com/blog/2013/03/22/best-email-services/

Email Service Providers | VerticalResponse

Social Media and Email Marketing by VerticalResponse is the best way to revolutionize the way you connect with your audience.

Email Service Providers | Mail Chimp - Email Marketing and Email List Manager | MailChimp

MailChimp helps you design email newsletters, share them on social networks, integrate with services you already use, and track your results. It's like your own personal publishing platform.

Email Service Providers | Email Marketing and Newsletter Software from FreshMail

Email marketing simplified Create, send and track email marketing campaigns that work. Intuitive template editor Meet the revolutionary FreshMail Designer. Create beautiful and effective newsletters without any coding skills. Access your FreshMail account from anywhere. Your files and data, as well as FreshMail's tools, are secure in a dedicated cloud and are always ready ...

Email Service Providers | Sendinblue
SendinBlue offers self-serve tools that are suitable for businesses of all sizes. The vendor works with clients with subscriber lists that range in size from 100 contacts all the way to 1 million+.
Email Service Providers | Constant Contact - Small Business Marketing

Email, Event, and Social Media marketing tools and solutions from Constant Contact make it easy to reach, engage, acquire, and retain customers or members. Get started today - free!

Email Service Providers | Enterprise Class Email Marketing Software by Pinpointe

Email & Social Marketing Automation for mid sized enterprises. Award-winning, feature-rich email marketing and social tracking. 800-557-6584.

Email Service Providers | AWeber - Email Marketing Software & Email Marketing Services

Opt-In Email Marketing Grows Business AWeber creates lasting customer relationships for you and over 115,000+ other businesses with email newsletters, autoresponders, RSS to email and more of the best email marketing tools. Send Updates to Twitter & Facebook Expand the reach of your email newsletters.

Email Service Providers | Mailrelay, email marketing platform

Mailrelay offers a free account that lets you send up to 75000 monthly emails, with a subscriber limit of 15000, for free, forever. It also includes the possibility to create autoresponders, RSS campaigns, A/B tests and many more, also for free (No credit card required or other payment method info required for creating the free account, just name and email)

Email Service Providers | Telemarketing Data Lists, Email data and mailing list

Prospect360 is leading UK Data List Broker Company; they provide B2B, B2C services across the world. they also deal with SMS broadcasting, Telemarke​ting data, E-mail broadcasting, Business & Consumer databases, & ​Mailing lists.

Email Service Providers | Transactional Email from MailChimp - Mandrill

Mandrill is a new way for apps to send transactional email. It runs on the delivery infrastructure that powers MailChimp.

Email Service Providers | Email Marketing Software & Autoresponder from GetResponse

Email marketing from GetResponse. Send email newsletters, campaigns, online surveys and autoresponders. Simple, easy interface. FREE sign up.

Email Service Providers | iContact- Email Marketing Services

Email Marketing through iContact allows your company to create, send, and track your messages with ease and efficiency.

Email Service Providers | That's Biz Email Marketing for Restaurants

Serving thousands of Busy Restaurant Owners. Email messages are created for you. Includes redeemable coupons. Redeem coupons in two seconds using QR codes (no POS integration required). Restrict coupons to a single use and eliminate abuse. That's Biz - an iContact Business Partner.

Email Service Providers | Systematic Revenue. Lead Management and Marketing Automation

Reach new customers, nurture your prospects, and drive more revenue than ever before.

Email Service Providers | ActiveCampaign - Email Marketing & Automation

Create email marketing and HTML newsletter campaigns in minutes. Powerful email marketing software features with free premium templates.

Email Service Providers | Campaigner - Email Marketing Service | Email Marketing Made Easy

Campaigner Email Marketing Service. Easily create and send effective email marketing campaigns. Get started today with our Free 30 Day Trial.

Email Service Providers | emfluence - Digital Marketing Platform and Services

emfluence is your partner for conversions online. We convert strangers into prospects, prospects into customers, and customers into evangelists. We do this by ensuring that every digital marketing effort we make with you is based on three principals: track, measure, and improve. Or TMI.

Email Service Providers | SMTP Relay Server: App and Transactional Email Delivery

Learn why more developers choose SendGrid's SMTP relay services to deliver transactional emails triggered by web apps. Sign up for a free account today.

Email Service Providers | Mass Email Marketing Company, Advertising Services, Bulk Email Servers

We are a Mass Email marketing company, provides mass email services and bulk email servers which take email advertising to the next level. Connect with us to enrich and create featured email marketing campaigns.

Email Service Providers | Send beautiful email newsletters with Campaign Monitor

Campaign Monitor makes it easy to attract new subscribers, send them beautiful email newsletters and see stunning reports on the results.

Email Service Providers | Movable Ink

Rather than being frozen in time when the marketer hits "send", emails become containers for live content that adapt to when, where, and how recipients open and interact with messages. Building relevant communications becomes easier for the marketer, and results in deeper engagement with the consumer.

Email Service Providers | Direct Mail List Management, Targeted List Fulfillment Services | Macromark

Direct marketing is a form of advertising in which businesses and nonprofit organizations communicate directly with the customers.

Email Service Providers | Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft is the only all-in-one sales and marketing automation software for small businesses that combines CRM, email marketing and e-commerce.

Email Service Providers | Acrelia News: Quality Email Marketing
Email Marketing platform to communicate with your customers in a simple, effective and professional way

With Email Marketing Sometimes You Need to Question the Rules

Marketing podcast with DJ Waldow and Jason Falls (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes or subscribe via other RSS device (Google Listen)

There are a handful of generally accepted “best practices” when it comes to email. Some have withstood the test of time and experiment, but others stay in place as hard and fast rules simply because enough people keep saying so.

Rebel's Guide to Email MarketingThe only hard and fast rule you should adhere to in marketing is what works for you. Now, what this means first and foremost is that you must be testing, measuring and analyzing what works for you or you’ll have no choice but to follow industry norms.

Sometimes norms present great opportunities to stand out. If everyone is doing something one way, there’s a pretty good bet that you can get some attention breaking the rules.

Today’s guests on the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast are DJ Waldow and Jason Falls, co-authors of The Rebel’s Guide to Email Marketing: Grow Your List, Break the Rules, and Win

In the Rebel’s Guide they take on some of the common best practices and illustrate some great examples of people finding success in email marketing by bending and breaking the rules.

Below are some examples of the types of common practices you need to test and push in your email marketing efforts.

Subject lines

I call the subject line of an email the ad for opening and reading. If you don’t hook someone with it, you stand little chance of getting your email read and no chance of getting someone to click through to an offer.

Common wisdom is 30-40 characters with call to action or benefit right up front. What if you experimented with very short, intriguing subject lines that played to curiosity?

From line

Common wisdom here is that you want the recipient to see that the email is from someone they know. Makes sense, but what if you tested sending email with clever attributes that couldn’t be mistaken for anyone else, but also added a little fun and flair – example might be: From: Your Favorite Plumber

Preheader text

This is the second ad and most people waste it. It’s the very first bit of content that shows up after the subject line in a lot of email clients. Most people start with something like “having trouble reading this, blah, blah”

What if you used this to text to urge them to open – “You know you need to open this” “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, open this”

Alt images

The default setting for Gmail is to leave images turned off. This means the recipient must click something to actually make your images show. If you are using HTML email that relies on images to make greater impact you want those images turned on.

Common practice suggests that you use the Alt images attribute to describe your images as the alt text will show in place of images. What if you used this to convince people that they are missing cool stuff by leaving images off. “If you had images on you would see something really awesome here”

HTML and text

Another common spam filter fighting practice is to send your email in multiple formats. Your nice, pretty HTML email should have a text-based only version. It helps assure the ISPs that you are sending useful information.

One of the things that I think you need to experiment with is the use of text only emails or at least mixing the format up from time to time. When people get used to seeing your standard HTML template they get complacent. Send very short, personal emails using text only to make even greater impact.

Personalization

Another common practice is to add personalization from data fields. You know, Hey John, did you know that John could get a free blah, blah.

I agree there is a place for this, although it gets abused in absurd ways as well. This is something your want to play with. One of the most widely commented emails I ever sent intentionally played on the fill in the blank fields with fake data fields like [put new best friend’s name here] and [say something here that sounds authentic]

Opt-out

This one is not only common practice, it’s the law. You must add a way for people to opt-out of your email and you should make it obvious.

Most people hide this at the end of an email and use the default government language.

What if you put it first and had some fun with it. “I really, really don’t want to see you leave, but if you must break my heart, do it here.”

Every element of your marketing is only as good as your testing tells you it is, so study common best practices in everything you do and then figure out how to interrupt the best practices with testing.

5 Ways to Generate More Email Sign Ups

Getting more email subscribers is job #1. Email is and has long been the number one producer of return on marketing investment for businesses large and small.

Acquiring the contact information of someone who has expressed at least a mild interest in what you do and has given you permission to tell them a great deal more about what you do is the first, and perhaps most important, task.

There are few businesses today that can get by on traffic and eyeballs alone. Today’s marketer must get access, permission and time on the screen. Today’s marketer must have multiple opportunities to build enough relationship capital to convert trust into a sale.

Email marketing, combined of course with advertising, referrals, public relations and a total online presence is the complete package.

List building is an essential element of email marketing today and takes a strategic approach in line with its importance.

It’s no longer enough to slap an email sign-up form on every page of your website and call it done. You must focus attention to detail and expand your thinking on list building to get your “value exchange” or “reason I would give up my email address” in front of more of the right people at just the right time.

Below are five tactics for list building today:

1) Feature with content

There is an assumption in this post that you are producing high quality, educational content – the kind that draws links and readers. Now you’ll want to explore ways to promote your list sign up as people engage with this content.

Many WordPress theme frameworks today (Genesis and Thesis) allow for what are being called “feature boxes.” These feature boxes make it easy to place a sign up box at, say, the end of each blog post or top of your blog home page. Placing your email offer where people are reading and enjoy your content improves uptake.

2) Content partner share

One of the most important ways to entice email subscribers today is by offering long format content in the shape of an eBook. Generally, this is content that deeply tackles one subject in a way that’s appealing to your target client.

Once you’ve gone to the effort to produce this content reach out to other businesses, the ones that know they should be offering content to their customers, and allow them to promote your eBook by way of a special co-branded sign-up landing page.

3) Thank you suggest

Once someone signs up to receive your offer it’s good form to redirect them to a “thank you” page that gives them assurance that all is well, what to expect next or other details.

Consider partnering with three or four other “high quality” content producers that you would recommend to your readers and suggest subscriptions to these partners on your thank you page.

If each of the partners involved performs this action you’ll see more subscribers by way of referral.

4) Advertise

If your content, such as an eBook, is attractive enough you may find that advertising is an effective way to create list sign-ups. Of course this assumes that your conversion and measurement activities are such that you at least have some idea of what an email subscriber is worth long-term to your business.

You can effectively promote an eBook through Facebook Promoted Posts or by purchasing solo ads in newsletters related to your market.

5) Endorsement swaps

One of the most powerful ways to quickly add subscribers is for another list owner, one that has built trust with their subscribers, to send a mailing endorsing your eBook or newsletter content.

Now, while this is obviously a great tactic, it’s one that requires many things. No list owner will risk their reputation endorsing low quality content and neither should you. This is a tactic that takes time as it’s best done with partners that you have established a very trusting relationship with either by way of reputation in your industry or by directly working on other projects.

Build these relationships, create some killer content and approach your partners with the idea of sending an email offering their great content to your list while they do the same.

Why Your Email Marketing Needs an Editorial Calendar

Lots of marketers have given in to the need to produce lots of content. This need has become so prevalent that many have actually begun to adopt a publishing mindset.

Email editorial calendar

photo credit: sogrady via photo pin cc

With this mindset comes the need to schedule, plan and strategize about relevant content needs, formats and purposes. Otherwise you end up with content chaos and, inevitably, so do your customers and prospects.

We use a Google Calendar system in our office and have a brief editorial meeting each week with the entire staff to make sure we are both meeting our editorial obligations and producing the right kind of content.

Recently, we added email to the editorial calendar and this seemingly simple integration has made a significant impact in our content focus.

We now have a better picture of what we are putting out in all channels and have a better view of who is receiving what, why and when.

This better picture of content is a great tool whether you are the only one producing content or need to collaborate with a team and outside producers.

By using an editorial calendar approach to email we:

  • Keep much better track of who is getting what
  • Segment our lists with more precision
  • Plug gaps in important core topics
  • Uncover new ways to use existing content
  • Better monitor how much email we are sending
  • Create more opportunities to use content to build our list

Getting a handle on your total content platform is an essential aspect of your total online presence and employing simple tools such as a Google content calendar shared to the staff or more fully featured tools such as DivvyHQ or Gather Content and including every content opportunity, including your email outreach, will give your content plan the focus it needs to generate the greatest return on time invested.

7 Essential Stages of Building a Total Online Presence

There are many moving parts involved in marketing and the online elements increase in importance with each passing day.

But, marketing is a system, and to effectively operate this system you must assemble and integrate each of the important parts into something that looks like the whole.

Your online presence is your key to success no matter what your business sells – no matter if all of your transactions are done face to face – no matter if you don’t yet see a way to get a return from your Facebook page – no matter if you’ve never bought an online ad.

The key, however, is to build a Total Online PresenceTM, much like you would a tall, sturdy building, by constructing floor by floor in specific order or in stages. Your stages may differ just a bit based on where you are today and you’ll surely come back and revisit, add on and revamp each stage as you grow, but I believe the following model is the surest way to view your online marketing as a system.

Below are the seven stages of building a Total Online Presence.

7 Stages of a Total Online Presence

7 Stages of a Total Online Presence

Content Platform

So much of what happens online revolves around content. It’s how you get found, why people pay attention and how you start to exchange value. Without a content platform to build from a great deal of effort in other stages will be wasted.

To me the content platform starts with building a listening station with tools like Google Alerts, TweetDeck, Trackur, Social Mention, Sprout Social or Radian6. From this point you can you can gain insight into your market, your competitors and important groups, such as key journalists, while starting the work of better understanding your most important keyword phrases.

Keywords are like chapters in your total body of content plan. Doing research, using tools such as Google Keyword Tool or Wordtracker, on the most important ways to show up when people search for a business like yours and creating blog posts around these chapters, using an editorial calendar approach, is how you fortify your content platform.

Once you start consistently creating content, you can produce valuable eBooks that will be the pivotal element of your email lead capture stage.

There’s really very little reason to play this game if your don’t put the effort in at this stage.

Organic SEO

Having someone type a search phrase that is key to your business and finding a blog post or page from your site on page one of the results is the ultimate payoff and, long-term, may be the difference between success and failure.

Search Engine Optimization can be complex and time consuming, but most businesses can generate significant results without making it so, if you simply focus on the following three elements.

Produce keyword rich, educational content – we covered this above, but search engines live on blog posts and other educational content. Use a tool like Scribe from Copyblogger to help you write more search engine friendly content.

Make it easy on the search engines – Make the on page elements such as your blog titles, URLs, ALT image attributes, subtitles and internal links work for you and use XML sitemaps that make it easy for search engines to grab your latest. Check out Search Engine News for great primer.

Draw lots of links naturally from other sites – Simply writing great content will start this process, but so will writing guest posts, uploading content to places like YouTube and Slideshare, making thoughtful comments on other blogs, submitting online press releases and amplifying your content in social networks. (Covered below)

Email Marketing

An engaged email list, eager to hear from you, is the most valuable asset your can build. 1000 responsive email followers trumps 25,000 Twitter followers every day when it comes to actually promoting the things that make your money.

Focus on building a list of email subscribers that want to hear from you and social media will become a tool set to help you do more of that.

Choose an email service provider (ESP) such as Constant Contact, GetResponse, AWeber, MailChimp or Infusionsoft and go to work on building email capture forms with the offer of your free eBook or weekly newsletter before you move on to social media.

Social Media Marketing

This is certainly an area where you should consider strategy before tactics.

The first step is to understand how your current customers are using social media and how you can use social media to somehow serve them better. If you do that, you’ll get immediate value.

Create Twitter lists of customers and add their social profiles to your CRM tool. Add a tool like Rapportive to your email.

Then claim and build your profiles on Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, YouTube, Picasa, Slideshare and Pinterest.

Your plan to work and engage prospects in all of these networks may not be clear yet, but the first step is to claim the free real estate so you can start exploring.

Once you start to share content, build connections, reshare other people’s content and discover best practices in each individual network, you can begin to amplify your content and start finding ways to drive prospects to your eBook and newsletter in an attempt to start a relationship headed towards conversion.

Online Advertising

Many people waste advertising and then conclude it doesn’t work. Pay per click advertising can be very effective when done right. One of my favorite things about it is that a platform like Google AdWords allows you to test your thinking a dollar at a time.

Here’s my take on how to make ads pay – Use your ads to drive content awareness instead of simply to sell. Drive Facebook users to sign up for your eBook first and then you can sell them over and over again.

The basics of PPC are this: Use lots of punchy, dramatic ad copy, but test, revise and test. Create tightly focused ad groups with highly relevant ad copy, work negative keywords out of your list. Test some more.

Mobile and Location

Mobile is more of a behavior than a tool. The first step is to analyze what behaviors your customers are exhibiting before you dive into or dismiss Foursquare or text messaging.

I can assure you this however, your customers are reading content, searching for things to buy and using reviews to make decisions on mobile devices. Claim your location based profiles in places such as Foursquare and Yelp.

Create mobile and tablet friendly viewing options with tools such as WPTouch, Tekora or GoMobi. Start creating mobile specific ads, landing pages, coupons and offers that take advantage the growing use of mobile devices as a major part of the purchasing process.

Analytics and Conversion

Like many stage-based processes there is a cyclical aspect as well. For some, creating benchmarks and key performance indicators is really the first step. So, if you’re one of those folks you can start here, because no matter where you are in the process this stage will always evolve.

Many people can’t start the process of measuring success until they are measuring in real time or can’t start the process of tweaking and testing until all of the elements are in place.

As you build make certain you install tracking code from a tools such as Google Analytics, Spring Metrics or KissMetrics so you can begin to build the data to test and refine from.

Then you can start building conversion goals, funnels and events, tracking your ads and split testing your landing pages, opt-in pages and sales pages to discover ways to increase conversion.

Even something as overwhelming and complex as the changing face of marketing online get just a bit more manageable I think when you start to view it as a system.