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Blogging Through the Sales Funnel

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The blog format can provide a standardized template for beginners in web design. In a professional context, the sales functions of a blog can engage viewers and possibly start the slide through the sales funnel.

A blog can inform in a manner that can speak to shared interests with the reader. A blog can facilitate a meeting of the minds. SEO (search engine optimization) can even lead common travelers into your line of thinking and lead to fruitful business arrangements.

The best advertisers know their audience. That connection can travel for miles when shared needs raise the prospect of a business relationship. Bloggers blog to people they understand, with shared hobbies or backgrounds or struggles. This shared connection may coax the writer and their audience into a synergy that can propel them through their tightest economic needs.

Should bloggers try to trap visitors into the sales funnel, and send them slipping into what has become a rabbit hole? Of course not. The point is to establish a mind-meld that can open a hatch into a prospect’s economic, business, and personal life.

First, bloggers can blog about ways to use their products. Perhaps your widget has more than one function in varieties of contexts. The shared connection between the blogger and the reader might, for example, be hiking, or electronics, or gardening, or cooking. Perhaps some hiking device can be used for both warmth and as an emergency flare. Maybe some electrical components can fit into various devices. Maybe that fertilizer can be used for several kinds of plants, and maybe that cooking device is good for both frying and baking.

Bloggers should demonstrate their familiarity not only with their products but with the uses of their products. New small business owners should establish themselves as members of a community. Hence, they can establish collegiality with other members of that community and show they are marketing to peers with whom they relate and respect.

Second, bloggers should use discretion with calls to action and refrain from “hard-sell” tactics. For the most part, blogs should provide information. 

Sales pitches should arise where and when appropriate. Consumers are smart and can distinguish between an informative discussion and a crass attempt to shove a pitch down their throat. Assuming a new entrepreneur starts their small business adventure within your community of shared interests, you should not fall out of character. Blogs should come from a place of sincerity, as should the resulting sales pitch, in order to ring true.

Third, remember to iron out technical issues. Blogs should work equally well on desktops, tablets, and phones. In some cases, that vacation trip is just when your potential clients realize the need for that special portable gadget. Also, on a technical note, remember the importance of themes when using website-building applications. A good choice in themes, along with associated plugins, can prevent a scrambled online display in any one type of device.

In short, blogs can help draw customers through the sales funnel, but the customer’s journey should remain a fun slide rather than a trip through a rabbit hole. Entrepreneurs who become bloggers should remember the origins of their ideas and remain members of a community rather than stalkers of hapless prey.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

Automate an Email List

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The last two posts described walking the tightrope between spam and genuine engagement. After an initial engagement with an email list, the discussion of further automated conversations continues this discussion. 

Generally, automated emails direct email traffic to a known audience. This audience has already demonstrated an interest in the mission of the business owner. The path has been paved. The rest of the journey should include proper enticements for your already engaged user base. 

Automating an email marketing plan may include four considerations. (1) An engaged audience should direct your goals. (2) The right automation software, (3) Using this software to generate enticing auto-responses, (4) Welcoming new subscribers.

First, engagement with the audience is key to successful email marketing. Remember that once emails become automated, proper routing becomes especially crucial. No one likes robocalls, as we all know. Emails are certainly less obtrusive but still should not cross the fine line into spam. 

Marketers should segment customers to ensure relevance. Recipients should be split into groups based on qualities such as gender, age, or location to ensure that offers stay relevant to each segment within the target audience. Other segments could include classes of customers based on their stage in the sales funnel, whether as a prospect or an ongoing customer. Each segment should stay relevant to the marketing effort. 

Remember that cold leads also have value and can reveal information that may result in an eventual sale. Segmenting cold leads can provide insights about alternate directions for future correspondence.

Even on an individual level, fictitious buyer personas can illustrate the personal characteristics of buyers from a market research standpoint. Construction of relevant buyer personas can inform the construction of emails and help design effective offers. The construction of such personas can humanize the potential target and allow a more detailed construction of marketing content. In other words, the creator engages a human being they have come to understand rather than a cold demographic.

Second, good automation software facilitates the process.  Automation software should not only be usable but also flexible and integral with other platforms. Also consider the potential for client support, as well as simple procedures to optimize email lists. For example, software should make it easy to remove bad addresses and redundant users. 

Third, the auto-responses should continue to engage, and not bother, the subscribers. Auto-responses continue the conversation after the customer has engaged with the initial email. These responses should add humanity to the content of the interactions, and not provide mere cold confirmation of the initial encounter. Consider different classes of auto-responses for different situations and types of customers. For example, post-appointment emails may comprise one list, and post-purchase emails can go into another category. Auto-responses may ask for feedback, further information, or provide deals or continuing information such as jokes, quizzes, or inspirational quotes. 

Fourth, always consider the expansion of the pool of brand enthusiasts moving forward. When plausible, recipients should be encouraged to forward messages and share information with others in their brand segment. However, always ensure that your brand leaves a positive impression. Blasting potential customers with frivolous communications leave the impression of a cheap company desperate for any kind of response. These bad practices may annoy the recipient as well as get you blocked as a spammer. Remember to maintain dignity and professionalism, keeping directed marketing relevant and interesting. In this fashion, customers will look upon the company as a partner rather than a pest.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

HOW TO BUILD AN EMAIL LIST

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

How can we start potential customers on the journey down the “sales funnel?” For the uninitiated, a “sales funnel” is a marketing term describing the trip of a potential customer from prospect to buyer. As discussed in the previous article in this series, one “Golden Rule” prevails in email marketing. “Avoid spam.” 

So how do we avoid “spam” as email marketers? The most effective email marketing efforts channel is through voluntary opt-in. Examples might be newsletters, online classes, and games. The worst sin would be to purchase an email list, which some marketers do.

Nothing alienates quite like an unsolicited email. For this reason, the most successful marketing efforts piggyback onto existing online communities with an engaged user base. 

Choosing a relevant community sets the entrepreneur on a path to gracefully and unobtrusively distribute a sales pitch. Your own website might provide an excellent starting point. Web design should include mechanisms to collect email addresses from interested parties. Popular methods might include quizzes and surveys, which may also provide valuable information about your client base. Directing ads through social media may provide another outlet for your pitch.

Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube offer special methods for targeting audiences. Each of these platforms offers methods to harvest followers by engaging with relevant topics. A good email marketing campaign converts these followers into recipients of an email list. The importance of an email list comes from the control the owner can exercise. A social media platform can change its policies regarding sales pitches. These changes can interfere with your relationship with your followers. With an established email list, the relationship is between you and your client base.

After the establishment of an email list, marketers should maintain the interest of the recipients. 

First, don’t email every day. Business owners should ensure not to exasperate their audience or crowd their inboxes. This is what spammers do. 

Second, a healthy email list has relevant and interesting subject lines. The message should stand out amidst the flood of offers that crowd the typical inbox. Managing the inbox should involve refreshing the trove of marketing ideas and maintaining an evolving relationship that snatches the readers’ attention. In other words, keep them clicking. We want to keep our message out of the users’ spam or trash boxes. 

Third, the content itself should matter. Ongoing relevant content should stay within the bounds of what the recipient signed up for. Don’t email about golf when your base wants to know about basketball.

Fourth, as subscribers, the recipients should receive special perks and offers. These exclusives may include webinars, audio seminars, or special discounts. 

Email can be a remarkably cost-effective method for disseminating a sales pitch. However, due effort should separate your messages from the regular spam that regularly pollutes most inboxes. Effective strategies to create the email list should responsibly collect engaged users whose interests coincide with the goals of the business. Following the creation of such a list, effective email list management allows a business to control its message while remaining relevant to the user. 

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

Writing A Sales Email

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Nobody likes spam. Unsolicited, undirected emails can undermine an institution’s credibility. SPAM floods most inboxes and leaves most Internet users wary of scams, frivolous marketing schemes, and other hobgoblins plotting to snatch innocent victims from the murkiest depths of the Internet. From top to bottom, good marketing strategies can transform a potential minor nuisance into a gateway for further interaction.

Emails can be directed to solicit either leads or potential clients. Business owners should ponder the relevant stage in the marketing process before investing in this form of directed marketing. In the end, the email should follow just the right channels, so that each message can speak to each member of the target audience in an individualized fashion that meets their specific needs.

(1) The Subject Line

First impressions are the best. Marketing experts sometimes advise as much effort into the subject line as the rest of the content. The subject line distinguishes the email’s relevance and importance to the reader. 

The user should be on notice of the content of the email from the get-go, and that the sender values their time.

(2) The Target

The marketer should choose the email recipients carefully, and the content should speak to the target audience. Consider (1) the stage of the marketing process, (2) their demographic and personal profile, (3) and their needs and problems. 

(3) The Hookwhat 

A personal connection draws the audience further into the conversation with the marketer. A “lede” in the journalism world (the opening sentence or paragraph of a news article that summarizes the most important aspects of the story) puts the reader on notice of the relevance of the news story. Similarly, the opening sentences of an email should draw the reader into the marketing proposition.

Some marketers combine their messages with updates and notifications about relevant special interests or industries. Newsletters to existing customers might provide forums to share ideas for partnerships. 

(4) The “Call to Action”

Once the subject line and the “lede” have established relevance, a “call to action” lays out the next steps. The “call to action” may solicit any of a variety of activities. Perhaps the goal of an email is simply a “like.” Maybe the sender hopes to sign up new subscribers to a newsletter. Maybe the goal is a website visit. In many cases, the marketer’s goal is an outright sale.

Never stop respecting the target audience. Overall, the email’s proposition should respect the viewer. Assuming the use of marketing emails, the content of the email should, in the end, provide something of value to the audience 

Google Analytics can slowly give a sense of the level of engagement with target audiences. However, as a bottom line, respect and a sense of genuine mutual connection generally build the kinds of foundations that businesses need. 

Skill and craftsmanship get a marketing email into the right in-box. However, marketers should never forget respect for the client. Never forget the right symbiosis between the marketer and the target audience. In the end, an economic bond never follows outside some sort of personal connection.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

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