Author Archives: Porsha Thomas

How to Build a Website Launch Campaign

Picture it. 2019. You’re staring at the digital finish line and your new website is just about complete. Your heartbeat is kind of speedy because you’re looking forward to selling all the things! Just like you celebrate your own entrance to the world every year, plan to make a big deal about your new shop’s grand entrance to the digital space with a strategic website launch campaign!

Your soon-to-launch website is the tangible “new you,” so begin by thinking, who should I show myself off to? Start by converting your customers into a community of brand advocates.

Pre-pre-pre Launch: Build Community

Begin by determining the purpose of your community. It should align with your brand, services and/or products. For example, a brand who sells fancy olive oil subscriptions may build an online community focusing on foodies who enjoy cooking and swapping recipes. The community should provide value for its participants and create avenues for them to contribute.

  • Decide where your community will convene (Facebook group, monthly newsletter, Twitter chat, Instagram hashtag, monthly meetup, a combo of these, etc.) and start doing some field research.
  • Join similar communities and take note of how they operate. The topics discussed, how members engage with each other, recurring hashtags, community pros and cons, etc., will provide a good baseline to build your own unique community.
  • Keep your community engaged by sharing original, relevant content. Collaborate with thought leaders in your industry to reach new people. Create a hashtag unique to your community and follow hashtags relevant to your industry so that you can engage with more people.
  • Build community online and offline by hosting activations. The olive oil brand, for example, could host monthly pop-ups with local chefs whipping up deliciousness using their product.
  • A.B.G.E – Always Be Getting Emails. Unfortunately, the number of Instagram followers you have doesn’t mean that much in the way of real-life sales. You’ll never reach all of them, let alone consistently, so the best way to market to your community is in their inboxes. Create opportunities to collect email addresses often. Struggling with strategy? We wrote a blog post about how to create one – here ya go!

OK, you community-building queen/king, it’s time to set some measurable goals and start thinking about this campaign in three phases.

Phase 1: Such a Tease
In Phase 1, you’re just letting people know to be on the lookout for something great. Promotion during this phase should really focus on your A-B-G-Es. I.E. “We’re launching something new! Be the first to know by signing up below.”

Phase 2: It’s Alive
Time to break out the champagne and dance on the table because your website is live! Plan for both digital and in-person promo during this phase to celebrate your launch of your website. For example, you could host a party or activation in your city in addition to an online giveaway, or shop discount honored only on launch day.

Phase 3: Keep on keepin’ on
Continue driving traffic to new your website by using your marketing channels to share original content (blog posts, videos, etc) and new products that arrive in your shop.

Good on phases? And now the toolkit.

Tools Needed:

  • A strategy for social media
  • An email strategy
  • A strategy to pitch the press
  • An IRL event or activation
  • A strategy to drive traffic to your website

A strategy for social media
Social media will play a role during all parts of the campaign. You can use it to tease the launch before it goes live (think: Instagram countdown to launch day, behind the scenes views of the website buildout, etc.), when it goes live (“we’re live” post across all channels, social media giveaway with winner chosen via Facebook or Instagram Live, etc.), and after it goes live (posts promoting products and content housed on your website).

An email strategy
During the Teaser phase, send emails alerting customers that new things are coming and be prepared to celebrate soon! When it’s time to go live, offer an incentive for customers to shop your new site. I.E. “Our website is live! Use code “YOUFANCYHUH” to take 15% off your purchase for the next 24-hours.”

A strategy to pitch the press
Let the media know you’re coming! During the Teaser phase, keep your ear to the ground for articles written by journalists covering businesses like yours or who are writing about innovative things happening in your industry. Medium is a great tool to find both accomplished and upcoming writers spreading the word about just about everything! From Medium, head to Twitter to follow the writers you liked and show some love: “Great read by @journalist about [something relevant to your industry]”. Often you’ll find their email address listed in their Twitter and Medium bios, but if not, do a little research. If you don’t really ‘Twitter,’ see what you can find on Instagram (although we must say that Twitter is a much better platform for this kind of thing!). Google them to see if they’ve got a portfolio website that lists their contact info – it’s OK to get snoopy with it.

When it’s time to write your pitch, be succinct. Tell them you liked the article they wrote about subscription food services taking over the world and you’d like to tell them about your new olive oil subscription company. Oh yeah, and your new website with this amazing new feature is coming soon! Link to an online press release that provides more detail about your company and the new site and wait. If you don’t hear back after a week or so, follow up at least three more times (with ample time between each contact) before moving on to the next one.

An IRL event or activation
Who doesn’t love a good get-together? Rally your community to celebrate the launch of your new website with a proper shindig. If you sell products online primarily, collaborate with a like-minded brand to host a pop-up shop at their space and sell your wares in-person while you guys drink champagne and eat cake (you know, or whatever type of food that translates to for you). Offer one-night-only discounts for the folks who shop on-site and encourage the community to share what’s happening virtually using your unique community hashtag.

A strategy to drive traffic to your website
Just like A.B.G.E, you should Always Be Driving Traffic To Your Website too! Your ultimate goal is to sell the products in your shop, so you’ll want to Always Be Sharing what’s great about them with your audience in creative, innovative ways. Heard of content marketing? Here’s where it comes in! Take some time to think of ways you can provide value for your customers by creating free content – insightful blog posts, videos, product how to’s, community member spotlights, etc. – that lives on your website. Share these items using your digital marketing channels to drive traffic to your website and get people shopping around.

Alright, gang! Now you’ve got some ideas flowing for your launch strategy and you’re feeling all ready to go get it. Here’s the last major thing: Begin with the end in mind. What do you want to accomplish with this campaign? Set some goals, track ‘em, and analyze the results. Make adjustments accordingly so you can kill it on your next big marketing campaign!

How to Get Your Brand Website-Ready

So you’re ready to build a website? Make sure your brand is website-ready.

In a world where it’s headline news that a brand gained 100 million followers on Instagram, it’s safe to say that branding is a thing business owners should show some love to!

Whether you’re just getting started or have been wheeling and dealing in business for some time, your branding is a muy important part because it’s how your customers align with your company and its core values. A well-thought-out brand strategy means you’re attracting your best customers.

When it comes to building your brand equity, one of the first things a business owner should do is create an online place to call home, better known as your website. Side note, you’re not really out here doing business without a website in 2019, right? 👀Whether you’re a DIY business owner and want to build your own website, or you want to whip out your virtual binoculars to find the best design and development team to fit your needs (ahem…🙋🏻‍♀️), you’ll want to make sure your business branding is ready for the website treatment. With the following pieces in place, you’ll have a seamless experience building your own site or working with your website design team!

Step 1: Have you defined your brand? This isn’t the easiest thing to do, so it’s understandable if not. If you find that you’re grasping at straws here, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is your company’s mission?
  • What are the benefits and features of your products or services?
  • What do your customers and prospects already think of your company?
  • What qualities do you want them to associate with your company?

You’ll want to learn the habits, needs and wants of your current and prospective customers. Don’t guess, do some research. A good old-fashioned survey is a perfect way to understand your current customers. If you’re still wondering where your customers even are, think of the places the customers you want would hang out and conduct your research there. Think about online communities to join, in-person networking groups to join, hashtags to follow on social media, etc.  

Once you understand where you’re going with your brand strategy, build out the basic elements of your brand.

We tapped the amazing women from our Nicely Built design team, Lexi Stout and Savannah Colbert to chat about best brand-building practices to tackle before your website buildout.

You should already have a good idea of your brand when your website is being built. You’ll need a logo, color palette, typefaces, image styles and a brand voice. The website is an extension of your brand for shoppers. It’s better to be prepared and develop a web presence that matches and extends it. – Savannah 

Best case scenario would be all the items mentioned above PLUS a brand guidelines document that defines consistent rules for using these items.

If possible, send along additional branded assets like business cards, brochures and packaging to provide a stronger sense of how your branding comes together and the messaging used to communicate with your audience.

For logo files, try to provide in vector format (most commonly .EPS). – Lexi

The more of these items you have on-hand, the deeper the value of the resulting new website. If you were working with us, for example, with all of your items in place, we’d have more time to spend beautifying your website as opposed to wasting time looking for brand assets.

So, are you ready to start building your online home? Let’s chat!  

Glossary

Vector: Vector graphics files store the lines, shapes and colors that make up an image as mathematical formulae. Also known as EPS files.
Brand Guidelines: A brand style guide is a document that lays out how a company visually presents itself to the world.
Brand Asset: The consistent signals that make it easier for consumers to recognize and identify your brand.
Logo: A symbol or other design adopted by an organization to identify its products, uniform, vehicles, etc.
Color Palette: Refers to the range of colors selected that represent your brand.
Typeface: A particular design of type.
Brand Image Style: How you build your brand’s aesthetic using imagery.
Brand Voice: The personality and emotion infused into a company’s communications.

Why You Need an Email Marketing Strategy + How to Build One

Remember when hearing “You’ve Got Mail” was exciting? Long before the days of tweeting about the feeling of gratification experienced from reaching Inbox Zero (we aren’t the only ones, right?), receiving an electronic post was kind of a delightful thing.

Decades letter, delight is subjective. Now, most of us annoyingly sift through hundreds of newsletter subscriptions that we forgot we signed up for and scoff at the empty promises to transfer 10.7 MIL dollars to Wells Fargo from the Central Bank of Benin Republic. It sounds a little grim, it does, but for shop owners and service providers looking to effectively market an offering online, using email is still the best place to reach their target audience. Here’s why:

Ninety-four percent of internet users use email – that’s basically all of them, y’all. And of that 94 percent who are adults, 75 percent state a preference for receiving marketing information in their inboxes – two snaps! And even though folks may unsubscribe when they forget why they signed up for your list in the first place, don’t get scared. You can reduce the likelihood of an unsubscribe by targeting the right people and providing them with valuable content. All you need is a little bit of strategy.

Select an email marketing service provider

The first step in building an effective email marketing strategy is to select the tool that’s best for your business. Using an email service provider like MailchimpKlaviyoEmmaConstant Contact, etc., allows you to connect with your audience by sending professional emails and tracking the results for future planning.

Action items: Research email marketing tools. Select the best option for your team.

Build your subscriber list

First and foremost, you’ll want to make sure the folks on your email list want to be there! Start by creating a target audience made up of people who are experiencing the problem that your product or service solves.

Figure out who to target by asking these questions:

  • What problem are my customers experiencing? Why did they show interest in or purchase my product or service?

  • Who are my current best customers and what characteristics do they have in common?

  • What did I provide for my customers that my competition didn’t?

Complete the sentence: {Your company} creates content to attract {your target customer} so they can {how you solve their problem} better.

Step 2, use the information gathered from the target market exercise to create incentives to sign up for your email list. The easiest way to do this is to provide a ‘carrot,’ something valuable in return for an email address. Try offering a certain percentage off the products in your online store or provide a downloadable workbook or guide that helps solve a problem or answer a question.

Step 3, make sure to add an email signup box to your website, and include a pop-up prompting visitors to subscribe to your list when they first land on your website.

Now, there’s this thing called list segmentation…

Just like identifying your company’s target market helps you develop effective marketing communication strategies, segmentation (the process of grouping customers together by a set of demographic characteristics) is particularly beneficial when it comes to marketing specific content to specific customers on your list.

Let’s say you sell online classes on topics ranging from business development to cookie decorating. You’re launching a new pasta-making course this month and you want to inform your previous customers. Of the business folk and the food enthusiasts on your subscriber list, who do you think would be more inclined to open an email about making pasta?

Instead of telling everyone how great the homemade pasta course is, serve the home chefs on your list what they’ve already shown interest in and send a segmented campaign.

Here are some ways you can segment your email list:

  • Purchase history

  • Age & gender

  • Geographic location

  • Events or interactions (in person and on the web)

  • Hobbies & interests

  • Cart contents

  • Visitor’s device (Mac, iPhone, Android, etc)

  • Subscriber actions (i.e. newly subscribed, emails opened, links clicked, etc)

Pro Tip: Gather info from subscribers when they first sign up for your list by adding options to the signup form to choose from.

Types of emails to send

The Newsletter | Provide general updates and high-level information

Newsletters give subscribers an overview of company news they may have missed on your website, social media channels, or elsewhere. They are generally 90 percent educational content, 10 percent promotional, and arrive in email inboxes at the same time in recurring intervals.

Automated Emails | Messages sent in direct response to a subscriber’s specific actions.

You know those ‘Welcome to the Party’ emails you get when you first sign up for something? That friends, is an automated email. How about when you’re “shopping” online (you know, tossing items in virtual carts with no intentions of pulling the trigger at that moment), wander away, and then receive an email from the retailer letting you know you forgot something? That’s automation!

Dedicated Emails | Timed emails promoting a specific offering

Let’s go back to the pasta-making class being promoted to the foodie segment of your subscriber list. The messaging in that dedicated email would market the pasta course information solely as opposed to say, a newsletter round-up of the four newest course launches (including the pasta course) on your site.

Determine a send frequency

You’ll want to send emails to your list on a consistent, regular basis. Pace the send frequency to how much information you have to share. According to our friends at CoSchedule, the best times to send marketing emails are 10 am, 8 pm (net people checking their email before bed), 2 pm (net people looking for an escape from their workday), and 6 am (net people checking their email before the day begins). The best days to send emails are Tuesday, Thursday and Wednesday (in that order). It’s a good to idea use split testing (comparing two versions of an email to see which performs better) when selecting send times, provided your email marketing service provider allows it. When you’re first starting, A/B test days and times to determine what’s best for your audience.

Pro Tip: Pay attention to open rates, click-throughs, and unsubscribes to better understand when your audience is most receptive.

P.S. Curious about Coschedule? They make managing cross-platform management so easy! Click here to sign up for a free trial.

Set goals for your emails

Each email you send will have a specific purpose. Before sending the first campaign, set specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely (SMART) goals to guide your email marketing strategy. Example goals could be to increase email open rates, increase click-through rates, number of subscribers, etc.

Content is king

We discussed offering a carrot, or something valuable, to subscribers who sign up to join your email list. Keep the value flowing by creating content customers want to read:

  • Product announcements

  • Behind the scenes

  • Event invitations

  • Customer/client success stories

  • How to’s

Begin by asking, how can I serve the needs of my audience? What problem does my product or service help them solve?

Recording and reporting

Remember your SMART goals? Record the results of your email campaigns and measure them to see if they are working. Ask yourself, how will I prove email marketing is worth the investment?

Here are some metrics you can track:

  • Email opens: How many emails were opened vs. the number of emails that were sent.

  • Email deliveries: How many emails from your send list were delivered.

  • Unsubscribes: How many people unsubscribed from your email list?

  • New subscribes: How many new subscribers have you gained?

  • Click through rates: How many people clicked on the links in your email?

  • A/B test results: What version of your A/B test won out?

  • ROI: How much revenue has your email generated compared to how much you’ve spent?

  • Time spent with the email open: How long did a subscriber spend looking at your email?

  • Email bounces: How many emails reached an inbox but were bounced back unopened?

Overall tips to slay your email marketing strategy

We couldn’t leave you without some tried and true tactics to slay your overall marketing strategy. Check out our tips below and be sure to add your own in the comments, we’d love to hear!

  • Break up newsletter sections with line dividers or images

  • Bold section titles

  • Use an intriguing subject line

  • Bypass SPAM filters by avoiding these trigger words.

  • Embrace brevity

  • Include a call-to-action

  • Spell check, spell check, spell check!

  • Be authentic, not salesy

  • Use a mixture of images and text

  • Optimize your emails for mobile viewing

    • Keep the email under 600 pixels wide

    • Use a large font size

    • Create short subject lines

    • Use ALT text with images in the case that the image doesn’t load

Now, go forth and market!