the best prospects for free downloads

who do free downloads work best for?

Last month we covered what makes a great free download, but their effectiveness varies by industry, and every market handles them a bit differently. Look closely at the top performers and you’ll see they’re essentially doing the same thing, but how you present and package your download matters: Continue reading

what makes a great free download

Late last year I mentioned that a free download is a great way to grow your email list and encourage other forms of customer engagement. But what makes giving something away for free worthwhile? Here’s a quick rundown of traits that make a “free” report compelling to your buyers — and more likely to drive new business.  Continue reading

four ways to grow your email list

Email is still one of the most cost-effective ways to reach new prospects and build loyalty, but it’s not the digital Wild West it used to be. Since 2003 it’s been illegal in the United States for businesses to send unsolicited email to anyone who doesn’t have a prior relationship with the company (see the CAN-SPAM Compliance Guide for full details). More recently, new anti-spam legislation went into effect in Canada on July 1 of 2014.

While the effectiveness of anti-spam legislation is open to debate, the good news is the email practices these laws prohibit are the ones that don’t work well in the first place. The most successful email marketers build their lists using opt-in strategies like these, all of which are still legal throughout North America: Continue reading

inbound marketing—the art of making buyers come to you

I’m at the Inbound conference in Boston this week, learning lots of exciting stuff about how to attract attention and generate new business for my clients. I can’t wait to share some of these insights with you, so here’s a quick bulletin with my first impressions from the event.

Hubspot, the organization behind the conference, defines inbound marketing as follows:

Instead of the old outbound marketing methods of buying ads, buying email lists, and praying for leads, inbound marketing focuses on creating quality content that pulls people toward your company and product. By aligning the content you publish with your customer’s interests, you naturally attract inbound traffic that you can then convert, close and delight over time.

Good examples of inbound marketing include your blog content, online articles, website content, valuable email marketing (in other words, content that helps your reader rather than giving them a sales pitch), social media, and other tools that engage the interest of your prospects by encouraging them to form a closer relationship.

Stated more simply, the key to inbound marketing can be summed up like this: it’s about helping, not selling. Continue reading

what type of content marketing makes sales happen?

Last October I landed a new assignment by sending out an e-newsletter about using video in content marketing. This was notable for two reasons:

  1. I don’t do video.
  2. The client wanted me for a completely different reason.

This virtually effortless sale happened mostly because my regular content marketing plan put me in the right place at the right time.

Here’s how it happened: Continue reading

Take control of online video

Much of the excitement at the Content Marketing World conference last month was about the growth of online video. Here’s just a few of the statistics attendees were buzzing about:

  • According to presenter Lee Oddenconsumers are 85% more likely to buy after they’ve watched a video.
  • Video has been identified as a significant driver of search engine traffic, making it one of the new darlings of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) gurus.
  • YouTube is now the second-largest search engine after Google.

With numbers like these, it’s no wonder that video is increasingly becoming a more common ingredient in many content marketing plans. Getting started presents a few hurdles for the uninitiated, but luckily the same tools that make online video attractive to consumers are also making it easier for you to reach—and convert—your audience. Continue reading

The care and feeding of a conversion-focused website

In the last two issues I’ve covered strategies for attracting new business with content marketing and getting the process rolling by creating or upgrading to a conversion-focused website. Today I’ll talk about the ongoing maintenance that transforms a website from a digital brochure into a business-generating tool that works around the clock. Continue reading

How to get website content off the ground

everyone wants an attractive website, but attention (and sales) come from great content

Last month we explored some of the benefits savvy organizations are getting from content marketing, from attracting new customers and building loyalty to improved results in Internet search and the ability to track what gets results. Today we’ll see why a strong website is the core of any successful content marketing plan, and how to avoid some of the biggest stumbling blocks to getting your site up and running. Continue reading

Do you really need content marketing?

All the recent talk about content marketing can make you wonder if it’s just the latest industry buzzword. Many companies have understandable concerns about sharing hard-won expertise for free, publishing e-newsletters with no direct sales pitches, and carving up marketing budgets between traditional and online channels.

A big source of anxiety is the fact that most companies don’t see the benefits overnight. Content marketing is a slow, steady drip, not an instant revenue generator. But that’s no reason to write it off—or worse—delay your own plan.

Talk to anyone who’s maintained a successful “content marketing machine” over time and you’ll know you’ve met a true believer. In fact, the most devoted zealots are usually folks who set a plan in motion and reaped the benefits six to twelve months down the road, only to see sales plummet when they slacked off.

To be frank, that’s exactly what convinced me. Continue reading

SEO demystified

ever been approached by a company promising top search engine results for your website? before you buy, read on.

Content drives Google search results, and in the words of web expert Mark O’Brien of Newfangled, “If you’re good to Google, Google will be good to you.” It was the very day I heard Mark speak at the Creative Freelancer Conference in Boston that I was on the phone with a client during a break. The client was hiring me for a website redesign, but was looking at other companies to provide search engine optimization (SEO) for the site…at a rate of $3,000 to $5,000 per month.

“Wait a minute!” I said.

I went on to explain what I’d learned from Mark’s presentation…about not stuffing your site’s pages with keywords, or playing any of the other SEO games that might land you on top temporarily, only to constantly require new tricks in order to stay there.

“Tell me more,” the client said. Continue reading