Seven copywriting mistakes that are putting your readers to sleep

Seven copywriting mistakes that are putting your readers to sleep

Have you ever tried to read a book, only to find you just can’t get into it? You find yourself reading the same page over and over, but the information doesn’t really seem to ‘seep in’.

Sometimes this happens because the book is badly written. The sentences are too long and the information isn’t presented clearly. In other cases, the author is clearly a brainiac but their use of big words is overwhelming. They may also have made the mistake of going into too much detail, which renders their text hard to absorb.

Luckily for the author, you have already bought the book. However, if your website, brochure or blog copy is snooze-inducing, you don’t have much hope of generating a sale.

The written word is one of the most powerful ways to communicate with your customers. It has to be persuasive, engaging and appealing in order to convince them now is the time to buy.

If you are creating lots of content but not getting results, your writing technique may be holding you back. Here are a few common copywriting mistakes:

Too much copy

Back in our school days, we were taught to break our writing into paragraphs and include three or four sentences in each, or even more. We diligently wrote our English essays in this format, cramming in extra adjectives to make the all-important final word count.

When writing copy for your blog, website, newsletter or marketing brochures, it is time to forget the rules your English teacher enforced (sorry Sir!). Instead of writing three or four sentences per paragraph, limit it to two or three. Particularly when that copy is going to be read online.

In a further blow to our essay writing skills, when it comes to copy, less is more. You see, people don’t visit websites so they can sit back and have a good read. They come to find a solution to their problems. The same can be said for blogs.

When you open a web page crammed with copy, your eyes and brain will find it overwhelming. There is simply too much information.

[This law firm keeps it very simple with short captions, while still answering key customer questions and establishing credibility]

Including long paragraphs, wordy sentences and poorly spaced copy is even more of a no-no in this time of smartphones. The ‘readability’ factor is diminished and the user doesn’t bother scrolling through the content to find the answers they really need.

When writing copy, minimise flowery adjectives and avoid using two words when one will do. Before you hit publish, run it through a tool like Hemingway app to check if your sentences are too long.

No clear headlines

A web page or brochure is there to serve a purpose  to explain to the reader why the goods or services you are offering are right for them.

Studies have shown users view websites in an ‘F’ shape. They look to the top statements, flick their eyes across and then progress down the page. As they continue, they are seeking statements which will answer their questions.

[Another legal firm example, this site offers headings followed by a small amount of information, and the opportunity to ‘Learn More’]

This is why headlines are important. Some people want lots of detail, others only want small nuggets of information. By breaking your content into sections, you are able to offer both.

Another clever way to work the ‘F’ shape to your favour is to include lists and bullet points as well as headings. This presents clear information which is simple and easy to digest.

It’s all about you

‘I’ can be a dirty word when it comes to writing copy. For example, a real estate agent may have a profile page where he explains, “I am the best in the area.” He may write, “I made over $5 million in sales last year” and “I have been in the industry for over 25 years”.

These are all good things, however if you are reading this and looking for someone to sell your home, do you really care how much money they have?

Consider if the agent instead wrote:

  • When you work with me, you will be able to sell your home for the highest possible price
  • You will experience less stress while preparing your home for sale
  • You will be delighted with the service you receive

This all comes back to an acronym, WIIFM, or ‘What’s In It For Me?’

When you write copy, speak directly to your customer as much as possible. Instead of writing “Our clients experience exceptional results”, switch it to “You can expect exceptional results” or even “Expect exceptional results”. This makes your copy far more personal and direct.

Benefits aren’t clear

No matter what you sell, there are features and there are benefits.

A feature of KFC is its secret recipe with 11 herbs and spices. The benefit is it is ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’.

A feature of Hamilton Island in The Whitsundays is a range of accommodation options. The benefit is it is affordable for many budgets.

A feature of an air conditioning unit is wireless connectivity. The benefit is being able to set the temperature before you even get home.

[Who cares how it works… Daikin highlights the benefits of ducted air con]

Many writers make the mistake of going into too much detail when promoting their product. Yes, features are important, but it is the end result which prompts someone to make a purchase. Always highlight what’s in it for them when you create your copy.

No calls to action

Your copy has the purpose of informing your customers and encouraging them to buy so don’t be afraid to do so.

A call to action tells your customers what to do next. If you’re wondering what call to action to include, think of the thing you want them to do most. This could include:

  • Call now
  • Book an appointment
  • Claim your discount
  • Become a member

[Strong headings, clear benefits and a succinct call to action from Deliveroo ]

It doesn’t hurt to add a benefit to your CTA, for example ‘Call now for a free quote’, ‘Book an appointment to start your weight loss journey’, ‘Claim your discount and get more for less’, or ‘Become a member for exclusive benefits’.

Bad grammar

While the younger generation is all ‘fo’ shiz’ and ‘lemme get that for you’, unless this is your exact target market it makes sense to err on the side of caution with your writing.

The demise of sub-editors means even major publishers run pieces with typos these days but the fact is these mistakes are instant credibility-killers.

Some common errors to watch out for include:

  • Missing apostrophes or incorrect use of apostrophes. For example YOU WON’T BELIEVE OUR SALE’S DEALS (take out the apostrophe in SALES)
  • Your vs you’re. For example GET YOU’RE COPY TODAY (it’s your, not you’re)
  • Mixing up their, they’re and there
  • Its and it’s, which is an exception to a rule. When you write ‘its’, it means the thing that is owned, for example IT’S A LOVELY DAY / THE SUN SHONE ITS RAYS
  • Then and than, e.g. MORE DEALS THEN YOU CAN SHAKE A STICK AT

The unfortunate problem with grammar is it can be subjective. This is especially the case when it comes to the placement of commas and hyphens. The rules can change depending on whether you use Microsoft Word, Google Docs or another program to craft your text.

If you’re confused about how to write certain phrases or what grammatical rules to apply, find a ‘source of truth’ and stick with it. Grammarist is a good site to refer to, or you can use Grammarly, a free tool which will surface mistakes in your text.

Overuse of ‘bland’ words

As I mentioned earlier, avoid using two words when one will do. There are some phrases which are tautological, for example ‘all of’, ‘your own’, ‘in order to’ and ‘totally unique’. Keep an eye out for these as a way to tighten your writing.

Several words have become ‘crutch’ words and are barely ever necessary. These include:

  • That
  • Just
  • Actually
  • Really
  • Quite

Sometimes when you are writing it feels as though your sentence won’t work without these words. But once you have finished, review your copy and see if you can take them out or reconstruct so they’re not necessary (I took ‘that’ out of my original draft five times but have left it in the title after checking this post).

Writing great copy is hard! Not only does it take time, once you have finished it can be difficult to spot your own errors. You can also get stuck in the trap of making endless tweaks and never getting it out there.

If you’re not confident with your writing, you can always use the support of online tools and ask a friend or colleague to read it over for you. Alternatively, enlist the help of a professional to create copy which showcases your business in its best light and draws customers to your door.

How to tell when your business is ready for marketing automation

How to tell when your business is ready for marketing automation

Are you an ambitious, nothing’s-gonna-stand-in-my-way business owner or are you an accidental entrepreneur who started off doing a few favours for a friend and somehow ended up running your own show?

No matter what kind of venture you run, at some stage you are likely to run into one of two problems.

Problem number one: Not enough customers. Those crickets are chirping and your significant other keeps emailing you links to jobs in the hope you will start applying.

Problem number two: Holy avalanche Batman! The phone won’t stop ringing, the emails keep coming and you are so busy trying to dig yourself out of the pile of enquiries that you can’t seem to find the time to actually get anything done.

With problem number one, the stress can be intense, particularly if you have bills to pay and are running out of capital.

The second problem is a nice one to have but can still lead to incredible pressure, anxiety and burnout.

Both these problems mean the writing is on the wall and it is time to implement a marketing automation solution. Here are a few more reasons why ‘now’ is the time:

You keep sending the same emails, over and over

From reminding clients about their appointments to answering the same five frequently asked questions, if you are spending even half an hour a day on repetitive email tasks, it is time to consider marketing automation.

One of the easiest things to set up is appointment reminders for clients. They’ll receive a message, either by phone or email around 24 hours before they are set to meet with you, and will be given the option to let you know if they can’t make it.

To limit the time you spend answering the same questions, your system can be set up to instantly send a list of FAQs to anyone who makes an enquiry via your website. This can include a handy ‘get in touch now’ call to action and phone number, to prompt them to become a paying customer.

Your staff’s talents are wasted

Are you paying someone to do the same boring job all day or wasting money on marketing staff who only take care of menial tasks?

By setting up marketing automation software and establishing lead nurturing and marketing campaigns, you can reduce a team of several people down to just one. Literally thousands of emails can be sent to your customers per day, even while you sleep.

[Samsung Galaxy sends teaser emails to its database to get them excited about upcoming product launches]

Instead of letting your marketing person go, you have now freed them up to work on new and exciting strategies, and to amplify the results of your existing campaigns. As a result, your company’s budget will be even larger and you can bring on more people.

You know the customers are out there…

But why aren’t they buying?

Marketing automation can make a huge difference to lead generation. For example, take a quick look at how many people have visited your website vs how many have made a purchase. If there is a large gap, you can do something as simple as offering a free lead magnet ebook, checklist or bonus offer. Those who opt-in are automatically added to your marketing list and by keeping in regular touch, you are increasing your chances of making the first sale.

[Google Adwords sends very specific details to customers, reminding them to keep paying for their online advertisements]

Many consumers interact with a company several times before they commit to buy. If your leads aren’t making it to that final purchase, marketing automation has the potential to completely revolutionise your business.

You have no idea how your business is performing ‘under the hood’

How many customers do you have? How many times do they buy from your business? What is the key factor stopping them from buying more?

If your business has stalled, it can really help to know the answers to these questions. A marketing automation system can highlight where your bottlenecks are, identify buyer trends and give you an idea of which of your email campaigns are most effective.

Data means power! You can use every piece of knowledge to tweak your marketing and lead nurturing efforts.

You want different clients

In the early days of running a business it is exciting to take what you can get in terms of clients. However, the saying applies to almost every organisation that 20 per cent of customers can take up 80 per cent of your time. This is particularly true for people who provide a one-on-one level of service.

By setting up marketing automation, you can ask questions which allow you to find out more about your prospective customers and identify the ‘tyre kickers’. You can also get your system to notify you of qualified leads who are ready to do business with you.

The branding and tone you use on your marketing communication will also help you attract the right clients. Whether you are fresh and funky or professional, you can speak clearly to your ideal customers through your emails.

People are only buying once

Repeat business is the holy grail of growth. When a customer returns to you a second, third or fourth time, the groundwork is done.

Once you have made a sale, your marketing automation system can keep in regular touch with your customers. This can include offering them specials deals or simply checking in for a quick hello.

There are so many strategies you can use to lengthen the lifespan of your customer relationships with the help of automated software. The real benefit is that you only need to create one email, which can then be sent to your entire database.

Your marketing automation can also send you notifications when a customer has been out of touch for a while, prompting you to put in a personal call or send an email.

You know you should be more social

I’m talking about social media. Many business owners don’t realise that marketing automation software also extends itself to running your social media accounts.

You can use other tools to schedule updates across Facebook, Twitter and the rest but bringing it all together in one place and managing it from an account like InfusionSoft can make life that little bit easier.

You have a couple of different target audiences

A real estate agent, for example, may target downsizers as well as first home buyers. These two demographics have very different needs and consumer profiles. The messaging they receive should be at least partially tailored so they can relate to it and receive information that is personally useful.

[Right in time for school holidays, Netflix reminds frazzled parents that there is an easy way to get the kids to sit still for a few minutes]

When you use marketing automation, you can segment your client base. Simple check-boxes allow you to tell your system which ‘box’ each customer belongs in. Then, when you set up your marketing campaigns you can craft messages which speak more directly to your customers and boost your lead generating efforts.

You blog, a lot, but nobody is reading

Marketing experts have been banging on about blogging for years so you dutifully write your fortnightly thought-leadership piece and publish it on your website. The expectation is this will boost your presence on search engine results and reinforce the credibility of your establishment.

The one problem with blogging is it is a two-step procedure. First, write and upload. Then, distribute your content.

[NYCGo promotes blogs about what is coming up around the Big Apple via its newsletter]

A regular newsletter sent to your customer base and containing links to your blogs will boost the click rate, drawing more users to your site and in turning letting Google know you’re the real deal.

Dreaming of a vacation?

Many business owners find everything grinds to a halt if they down tools, so they never do.

Is this really why you started your own venture? So you could work, all the time?

A marketing automation system can go at least part of the way to covering you when you’re not around.

You can also set up your system to continue to generate sales while you’re away, or to at least let you know the best leads who are waiting to hear from you when you get back.

Research into marketing automation software and its use has found the following:

  • Marketers can save over six hours a week on social media
  • Reply rates to marketing and follow up emails can improve by up to 250 per cent
  • You can spend 80 per cent less time setting appointments and meetings, not to mention reducing the inconvenience of last minute no-shows
  • Close to 80 per cent of marketers say automation increases revenue
  • More than three quarters of brands experience return on investment from the marketing automation in less than a year

The other great news about marketing automation is that subscribing to a platform is incredibly cost effective and you can start from any point in the life of your business. Whether you are a solo preneur or managing a team of fifty, you can get started with marketing automation with just an email address and a list of contacts.

What can be slightly challenging is getting the ball rolling. To the uninitiated, marketing automation software can feel instantly overwhelming. It does take a little time to get your head around using it and if you are already busy it can be hard to find the time to focus and master the best ways to use your system.

If you’re a flat-out business owner or are looking to get quick results from your automated marketing, it makes sense to hand the set-up, execution and tracking over to a professional. Win More Clients can help you with a strategy for your marketing automation and show you how to leverage it in the best way for your business. Get in touch today.

Related Tag: Marketing Automation Consultant

10 killer email ideas that generate replies and sales

10 killer email ideas that generate replies and sales

I spend a lot of time explaining to people why marketing automation makes sense and how it can drive incredible customer numbers your way.

But there’s more to it than signing up to a software platform. You also have to put a strategy in place for how you are going to keep in touch with your clients.

Beyond automatic appointment reminders and sales data figures, the content of your email marketing is really important. With so many vendors jostling for attention in our inboxes these days, it can be a challenge to achieve your target open rates. Getting the click-through to your site can be even harder.

Here are a number of the most effective marketing email ideas which will help boost your leads and help you clinch those sales.

  1. Birthday offers

If you’re anything like me, on your birthday you’re on the lookout for the people who are going to make you feel special. Even though you know it is automated, a birthday message from your hairdresser / car mechanic / favourite restaurant is a happy heartwarmer.

When sending birthday messages to your clients, add a special offer like a two-for-one discount. Give it a time limit so they will take you up on it sooner rather than later.

If you’re not the type of business that gathers client birth dates, you can always message them on the anniversary of you doing business together. Thank them for working with you and offer an incentive for them to work with you again. Your email marketing can be set up to do this automatically — there’s no need to keep a diary stuffed with client anniversaries!

Wishing Birthday

[Even dogs get birthday emails these days]

2. Time sensitive offers

Hurry! These Prices Won’t Last!

ONE DAY SALE!

GET IN QUICK!

Sometimes shouty, capital letter type emails are justified, especially when there’s an offer too good to refuse.

Creating a sense of urgency can create a temporary sales boost. You can also send a follow up email for those who didn’t respond, letting them know they missed out by sharing a ‘consolation’ of a smaller discount or a similar product at a good price.

Spacer Savers

[Specsavers teamed up with The Fred Hollows Foundation, offering to match donations over a 48 hour period]

Big brands like Forty Winks and Bonds feature these types of sales regularly, especially at the end of the financial year when they have a lot of stock to move.

3. Personal emails

This is a tactic a lot of businesses use and it can be very effective. Instead of sending their email missive from ‘The Company’, it comes from an individual and looks as though it has been quickly typed from this person.

Usually headed with a question, these emails have no images or fancy graphics so they don’t come across as automated campaigns.

Sometimes a simple ‘Hi’ is enough for the subject line of this kind of email. Other headings which work include:

  • Touching base
  • How are you?
  • Just a quick question
  • I was hoping you could help
  • Do you have two minutes?

The text included can be brief, something along the lines of:

“Hi [FIRSTNAME],

I noticed one of your emails the other day and thought I would touch base to see what you have been up to lately and if there is anything you need help with at the moment.

How are things going with you?

[YOUR NAME]”

Most people can’t resist an invitation to talk about themselves! This gives you an opportunity to relaunch a dialogue with leads who have gone stale.

4. Exclusive deals

The words “Just for you” evoke a little thrill of excitement.

Woolworths has this nailed, giving customers offers based on their exact past purchases and creating incentives to shop “this week!”

Secret Offers

[Wow! These savings are ONLY for me!]

Consider how you can create a similar sense of exclusivity. It could be for long term clients, for clients who spend a certain amount of money or for brand new clients. The more you can personalise this type of message, the more special your clients will feel.

5. Get moving

As yet, you can’t insert videos into emails and have the reader pay them without having to open a new web page.

However, you can add an animated gif to your email, making it dynamic and more appealing to the reader.

You can create gifs with a load of different online tools such as www.giphy.comwww.giffingtool.comwww.ezgif.com or www.gifmaker.me. Once you have your gif, paste it into your email as a point of difference.

6. ‘Series’ emails

If you have a really exciting new product launch, sometimes it can work to break your communication into a few different emails.

For example, your first email can be a teaser, with the subject line, “Something big is coming”. The contents can hint at what is the horizon and share how it will benefit your clients.

You can follow this up with “Our HUGE announcement”, sharing details about your new product or service release, or even keep up the tease with an email saying “One day till the big news…”

Keep this going by making the announcement before the date of the launch, then sending another email when everything is live/ready to purchase.

To enhance the urgency of this kind of campaign, add a special offer which will encourage customers to book ahead or be one of the first to order. You could make a discount available to the first 65 customers or given them a deadline on an early bird special. Then, you can follow up with a “Only three spots left…” announcement.

The risk of these types of ‘saturation’ campaigns is you can get some users unsubscribing, so unless you can afford to lose a few hundred of them, don’t go overboard and send emails every day.

7. Irresistible content emails

Forget the hard sell and make it your mission to keep your audience informed. A monthly, fortnightly or weekly newsletter collating your most recent blog posts delivers a subtle reminder to your clients that you exist, without pushing a sales message.

[This winter recipe is shared in a massage and acupuncture clinic’s regular newsletter]

Add strong images, great headlines and clear calls to action in your newsletter to encourage readers to click through to your site. You can share a single blog post or a few different items but make sure they are relevant to both your business and your target audience.

8. Occasion emails

The calendar year is packed with opportunities for marketing campaigns, especially if you have a product which can be ‘gifted’.

Plan your campaigns to give people the chance to order ahead and tick that box. Some of the gift occasions you can create email campaigns around include:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • Christmas

Then, there are the party occasions, which can be a great excuse for your business to celebrate, such as:

  • New Year
  • Australia Day
  • St Patrick’s Day
  • Halloween

And you can structure campaigns around the end of the financial year, the changing of the seasons or times which are relevant to your local or target users such as Star Wars Day (May the 4th), Independence Day (USA) or school holidays.

9. Reminder emails

A simple reminder sent to customers you haven’t heard from for a while can prompt them to get back in touch. This can work particularly well for businesses like dentists, chiropractors, counsellors or repair workshops.

[US company pinkberry reminds customers to come back by sending a free frozen yoghurt coupon]

Schedule reminder emails for every six months, twelve months etc, and make it as easy as possible for your customer to book an appointment by providing a clear link and call to action.

10. Follow up emails

Once you have done business with someone, send them an email thanking them. You have a few options here to strengthen your relationship, including:

  • Asking for their feedback
  • Sending a (time capped) special offer
  • Providing an incentive for them to refer a friend
  • Giving them a link to schedule their next appointment
  • Checking if they have any more questions they would like to ask

According to Hubspot, the important features of an attractive email marketing campaign are personalisation, imagery, responsive design (i.e. looks great on mobile) and meaningful calls to action. You also need clever writing, including a headline which will make them click.

Email marketing headlines

There has been a lot of research into what type of email headline is most attractive, and while there is no definitive answer, the following have been found to have better open rates:

  • Questions — Can you help us out?
  • Urgent statements  — This offer won’t last!!
  • Intriguing statements  — Why you need this email / How to slash your mortgage payments and be debt free sooner
  • Free stuff  — Get your FREE gift today
  • Relevance  — The perfect raincoat for your three-year-old
  • Puns and wit  — Now is the winter of our discount tent (a classic advertising example)
  • Reverse psychology  — Do not open this email
  • Importance  — Please read: An announcement from our CEO

Above everything, your emails must offer value to your clients. If they know when they see your business name land in your inbox that there is something in it for them by clicking, they will be more likely to do so.

Want to create winning email campaigns? Contact Win More Clients.

How to start a podcast

How to start a podcast

If you want to stand out in the world of business, a podcast can be an interesting point of difference.

This is like your own form of radio show and can be used to both educate your audience and promote what you do.

In contrast to a regular radio show, the amazing power of a podcast is you can reach anyone with it, anywhere in the world. All your audience needs is a device and an internet connection, and they can listen to what you have to say at any time.

I’ve been looking into the best practices of podcasting lately. Here’s what I have discovered:

What kind of businesses should start a podcast?

Generally, any business can delve into podcasting. You just have to be creative and think outside the box.

Let’s say, for example, you run a bakery. Hosting a monthly podcast can be a fun way to engage your audience and encourage people to visit your local area. Start off by sharing a few cupcake recipes then invite friends and contacts to appear as guests share their favourite baking tips. This type of podcast could quickly evolve into a partnership with the local tourism body. Your bakery podcast can be the umbrella for a range of other discussions, while still promoting your store.

Another example that comes to mind is an online flower delivery portal.

Imagine yourself as a florist and have a think about your customers. Who usually buys from you? What are these flowers for? Who’s apologising to who? Who’s celebrating what? This kind of business can talk about craziest reasons why someone has ordered flowers (without identifying them, of course). They can also do an episode explaining the meaning behind different blooms so people are more informed when they make a purchase.

As a national delivery service, a podcast has the potential to reach a lot of potential customers.

Just as you would in your blog posts, think of the struggles your target market faces and address them in different episodes.

[An IT business could create a podcast about cyber security]

The great thing about a podcast is it reaffirms your brand and its values. If you are a happy-go-lucky type of organisation, you can really have some fun. A business like a law office can improve their reputation for being professional and knowledgeable with a podcast that explains concepts in easy to understand terms.

The secret to podcasting is to avoid the hard sell. It is fine to occasionally mention what you have to offer but try not to sound like a broken record. Your customers will get the message from your content that you have a product or service worth discovering more about.

The benefits of having a podcast

There are so many advantages to creating a podcast!

For starters, it’s surprisingly simple and demands very little money and expertise. You can also produce as many or as few episodes as you like. Once they are out there, they can be accessed by a global audience at any time. This is particularly beneficial for border-less businesses which sell to a vast client base.

Another advantage of a podcast is it promotes you as a thought leader in your industry and your local area. When you share your expertise, you are instantly proving yourself to be a go-getter and self-starter. This can attract new opportunities such as articles in the media, invitations to appear on major radio stations, professional promotions and exciting new partnerships. If you’re lucky enough to have your podcast shared or mentioned by another influencer, you have opened the door to several thousand more potential buyers.

[Thought leader Tim Ferris promotes his publications with a podcast]

And, of course, a benefit of podcasting should be more sales. Having your own talk-show presents your brand in a positive light and sets you up as the expert. Who doesn’t want to buy from an expert? It is a very clever form of content marketing.

Finally, the podcasting space is a lot less crowded than you think. There are fewer than 300,000 podcasts out there and most are not business related.

Consider a specific topic like ‘Divorce Law’. When you search for this in your podcast app, there is not a lot of Australia-based content which comes up. Imagine if you were looking to grow this part of your legal business… it’s not a bad niche to break into!

[Look for a niche and fill it with your own podcast series]

How to get started with a podcast

Starting a podcast does require a small investment in terms of time and money but it should pay off for you.

Take these steps:

Buy or borrow your recording equipment. At the very least, you need a microphone, a recording device, some audio editing software, and a platform to upload your recordings to. Check out some online equipment reviews before you decide what to spend your money on.

Plan your content. Come up with a few episode content ideas at a time.
It’s best to prepare an entire season of podcasts before getting started as this will prevent you from doing a couple of episodes and running out of steam. With each episode, think of how you can address common customer concerns. Jot some notes down about what you will talk about ahead of time and make sure the content is relevant to your business.

Map out the broadcast schedule and the rundown format for your show. Questions to ask yourself include: How often will you release your content? How long will each episode be? How many topics will you cover per episode? What’s your title and your tagline? How will you introduce yourself? What audio will you use to start, finish and establish breaks in your show?
Practice your microphone technique and listen back to yourself. No matter how good your content is, your podcast will fall flat if you don’t sound confident and polished. Before you do your first official take, record yourself and get a feel for working with the microphone. Ask a friend for feedback – it is hard to judge yourself sometimes! Get them to let you know if you have too many ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ and if you are relying on a crutch like ‘you know’, or ‘I mean’.

How to promote your podcast

The old adage of “If you build it, they will come” does not apply to podcasts! Once you have uploaded your broadcast, you need to make sure people know about it. Like anything, the success of a podcast is determined by how well it is advertised. Make sure your podcast is promoted on your business’s social media accounts and that you share the link in your regular newsletter and on your website.

A smart way to build an audience is to hold contests. During your podcast, ask a simple question and offer a prize for the first people who post an answer to your social media page. Better yet, think of a way to encourage your listeners to share your podcast with their network.

Inviting special guests is another way to widen your reach. Your guests can share your podcast with their network. You can also offer to be a guest on other podcasts or radio shows and give your broadcast a mention during your appearance.

Podcast dos and don’ts

Podcasting takes commitment and must be approached with professionalism

Firstly, there is no point in having a podcast if you do not have anything useful to share so make sure the content is relevant and engaging. It must also be entertaining! If you are droning on endlessly about the minutiae of your favourite topic you will quickly lose listeners.

Develop a consistent format with regular ‘stingers’ (tones which break up your segments) and a theme song or tune to establish the credibility of your podcast. Make sure you are not breaching copyright rules by searching for ‘free podcast audio’ and reading the fine print before you download.

It is also important to avoid talking over other people if you plan to co-host your podcast or invite a guest in to interview. Limit the ‘ah-ha’ and ‘uh-huhs’ and instead nod your head while they are speaking. Radio hosts and tv producers rely on a hand signal, spiralling their finger in a circle when it is time to ‘wind it up’.

Invite feedback to create a dialogue with your audience. Get them to post on social media or email you and respond in your next broadcast. This builds engagement and can help you generate new topic ideas.

Finally, spread your podcast far and wide. Forbes recommends listing it on: iTunes, Google Play, Spotify, SoundCloud, Stitcher, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, blubrry, Podbay, and Podtail for a start.

As you can see, a podcast is a clever content marketing technique to engage a potentially global audience. Like with anything in business, you must approach its creation professionally and ensure you have a clear purpose.

What’s most important is to have fun! You never know what opportunities your podcast experiment will lead to so get it up and running, and get it out there.

Think your business is not big enough to invest in marketing automation? Think again!

Think your business is not big enough to invest in marketing automation? Think again!

There comes a stage in the life cycle of many small businesses when it is time to make a choice.

Where to from here?

Do I take the next step and go from one-man-show to CEO? Or do I stick with what I’m doing, answering every email myself and wondering why I’m so exhausted every Friday night?

If you have a good business and are selling something people want, it will soon become apparent that you need help. However, you may find yourself in that sticky spot where you know you need backup but you don’t have a giant budget to hire an army of minions.

This is where automation comes in, with the help of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool.

To explain marketing automation, let’s first take a look at what a CRM is.

What is a CRM?

As your business grows, so will your client base. Eventually, it will be impossible to keep track of every customer in your head. Having a CRM and setting up automated marketing is the solution, to not only help keep track of every contact but to truly make the most of them.

Simply put, a CRM is online software which takes care of communicating with almost everyone who comes into contact with your business. Your CRM digitally standardises business interactions and has the potential to save you hours of time while boosting your profitability.

At its basic level, a CRM allows you to save client and prospect client details, categorising them and recording where they are in their customer journey. You can keep information like phone numbers and email addresses, and also record what your customers are interested in, what they have purchased before and how pleased they are with your service.

InfusionSoft[Keep better track of your contacts with a CRM]

Your CRM is your starting point for marketing automation. Once you have started entering customer info into the system, tasks like sending business promotions, e-mails, company updates, digital brochures, and posting on social media become much less of a chore.

Why use marketing automation

You got into business because you believe in what you sell and what you do, not because you look forward to doing administrative work!

According to a survey by InfusionSoft, 75 percent of respondents agree that the biggest benefit of having a CRM is saving time, and I’d have to agree. In my own business it saves me hours and hours every week. For this reason alone, it is worth looking into.

Let’s run through some more of the benefits of having a CRM and mastering marketing automation.

  • Advance sales by automatically identifying ‘hot’ leads
  • Nurture existing customer relationships through personalised communication
  • Check clients’ past purchasing history
  • Easily see client order status
  • Make notes of client feedback / highlight customers with sensitive needs
  • Send automatic reminders
  • See at a glance how much money you are making from each customer

Marketing automation can also help you do the following:

  • Auto-populate your client follow-ups
  • Share sales and promotions with customers you know will be interested
  • Remind customers of abandoned carts
  • Send special offers and member discounts
  • Issue follow up surveys for customer feedback
  • Review which emails are being opened and which links are being clicked on

When you blend all the benefits of a CRM and great marketing automation strategy, the results you can expect are better customer engagement and higher revenue. Plus, you can forget about writing emails over and over. One template, and you’re done!

ABC Reading Eggs[Users who have signed up for a trial of this app automatically get a special offer in their inbox if they fail to buy]

With repetitive administrative tasks taken care of, you and your team have more time to work on improving customer experience, developing your product and growing your user base. All of a sudden that energy you were losing to daily inbox management is yours for the taking.

As I mentioned earlier, when you look at the advantages, you can see why it makes sense for any business of any size to invest a small amount of money to access a CRM. The cost can start from less than $100 per month and the returns can be astronomical.

Getting started with marketing automation

Ok, so you want to start automating your business. But… how?

First you need to decide which tool you are going to use. There are many out there so it can be tricky to choose but one way to get started is to make a note of the features you require and make sure the provider ticks these boxes.

I recommend InfusionSoft to my clients as it offers all the features a growing business needs and I find it to be very user-friendly, even for those who don’t describe themselves as tech-savvy.

The process for getting started is the same across most CRMS. First, sign up and log in. Next, import your contacts, which you should be able to do from your email without too much trouble.  

Once you have gotten started you will see a dashboard with basic information, including customer information, email broadcast details and the number of new contacts you have made over the past week. You can customise this dashboard to suit your preferences.

From there, it is time to start setting up email templates to use in your marketing automation. Start simply, with a welcome email for customers who fill in the contact form on your website. Add a logo and some graphic design so it looks professional.

Now, it’s up to you. You can choose to gradually build the actions and features of your CRM, or hand the reins over to someone on your marketing team or a consultant who can use their own expertise to get things up and running more quickly.

It may seem a bit finicky to get started, but consider that when London-based news agency Thomson Reuters made use of marketing automation, they reduced lead conversion time by 72% and achieved a 175% general boost in sales.

Marketing automation examples

A popular company that makes use of this tech tool is giant media corporation Buzzfeed. You would think that a massive internet media establishment would no longer need the help automated marketing, but aside from helping you find out which Disney princess you are, and guessing your age based on your cheese preference, they also send out customised newsletters to their subscribers based on their interests.

BuuzFeed Life [A Buzzfeed email, as shared by Campaignmonitor]

There are thousands of small businesses using marketing automation, from your local doctor’s office to your favourite local shoe store.

Examples from outlets like T2 look professional but with the help of software like Canva or by outsourcing to someone who is skilled at creating visual promotions you can send emails which look just as good.

Tea Society 20% Off[Newsletters and bonus offers are a key part of your marketing automation strategy]

You can also use marketing automation to send text message reminders and updates, as health insurer Australian Unity does at tax time.

AusUnity [Not the most exciting of messages but you can imagine this simple text stops the flood of “Where is my statement???” calls come July 1st]

Making new customers is great. Having repeat business is better. With a CRM and marketing automation strategy you are providing a better service, strengthening your connection with your customer and therefore building your business, with very little effort on your part.

If you are hesitating over taking this next step, think about where you want to be in one, two or five years’ time. Will you still be tearing your hair out trying to get everything done? Or will you have taken the steps to grow your business without creating more work for yourself? At the very most, you will lose a few hundred dollars. What you stand to gain can be quite extraordinary.

Want a hand with your CRM? I’ll make it happen for you super-fast. Get in touch today!