Email Marketing: How an opt-out strategy can increase engagement

Goodbye. It doesn’t seem like the best way to start a conversation. But if saying “goodbye” is not part of your content marketing program, it should be, writes Kath Walters.

Aaron Agius is the the founder of Louder Online, a content, search and social media agency. He says inviting your subscribers to sign-off if they are not opening your email newsletters and clicking through to your stories – and making it easy for them to do so – is a terrific brand-building strategy.

“A growing email list has to be the top asset to any online business, but only if it is done right and people are choosing to be there,” Agius says.

What’s the strategy?

Two strategies increase the chances of your audience engagement, Agius says. Firstly. using the “double opt-in” – which means that when someone signs up to your newsletter, they have to confirm their subscription in an email.

Secondly, it is good to have a clear, prominent, one-click unsubscribe option.

For truly savvy brands, a direct unsubscribe offer to recipients who don’t open your email ramps up engagement big time.

How does opt-out increase engagement?

When I signed up to receive a newsletter from behavioural economist Bri Williams, I was excited (she writes great blogs). I sailed past the double opt-in barrier – engagement 101.

When the email turned up I was busy, so I did what I normally do – put it in my “read later” box. Before long, I got an email from Bri noting that I hadn’t opened her email, and adding something like:

“We’d love you to stay, but we don’t want to spam you, so if our newsletter is not for you, we understand if you unsubscribe.” She was warm, friendly and firm.

I never file Bri’s newsletter these days; I don’t want her to sack me from her list! I might not read it straight away, but before long I take a quick look and suddenly she’s got me reading her fabulous topics and enjoying her friendly and engaging style.

It might sound like Bri’s manipulating me, but she’s not. Opt-out puts pressure on her too. She has to work hard to keep my attention once I have opened her email. If she didn’t deliver with an excellent blog every fortnight, it wouldn’t work after the first week. All Bri’s done is help me to act in my own interest.

But my subscribers will leave me…

If you invite subscribers to opt out and they do, it’s a litmus test. Is your blog timely, relevant and trusted (sticky)? Is it something your subscribers look forward to reading, despite all the pressures of time? It’s an instant diagnosis of the health of your content marketing programs. Agius says: “One of the biggest factors we look into is your unsubscribe rate”.

Keep them reading. Make it quality.

Agius is clear about what constitutes quality content: “It’s identifying what people are actually looking for online and creating content around that. Rather than writing about what is interesting, find out what questions people are asking, and what problems they need solved.”

 

Kath Walters is a journalist, editor and blog doctor. View her website here

To connect with Kath Walters on Twitter click here.

 

How To Create Meaningful Content With Zaid Al-Zaidy

This week Zaid Al-Zaidy, CEO of McCann, shares strategic tips for creating content that humanises your brand and instills brand coherence.

There is a tremendous amount of content being produced every day, but most of it just adds to the noise.  Meaningful content is the only thing that connects with people and leads them to engage – but many brands fall short in this area.

Zaid Al-Zaidy of McCann London is a vocal champion of diversity as a prerequisite for creativity in the media industries. His own background is richly varied – he was a marketer at Unilever helping the sex drives of a generation of youths with the Lynx Effect, and then became a strategist and planner at Mother, Y&R London and TBWA. At McCann, he’s made the leap from CSO to CEO and now leads the management team of the agency that last year topped the new business rankings.

Great brands humanise themselves and technology gives the ability for brands to be human and for consumers to engage with brands as human things.

— Zaid Al-Zaidy

 

We often hear that content creation is aimed at helping its consumers by way of answering questions or solving problems.

But Benetton took a revolutionary approach many decades ago when it created its magazine Colors, and since then its online campaigns have also been aimed at provoking discussions and raising awareness about controversial topics such as the #Unhate foundation.

Its goal is to help create a culture against hate using content creation like the thought-provoking, controversial images of world leaders kissing their adversaries. All too often brand journalism or branded content is heavily about the brand instead of offering meaningful information, or a meaningful experience to its audience.

In the podcast we’re looking at how brands can raise awareness about cultural issues by producing meaningful content and connecting with their community. 

 

 

The Unhate Foundation by Benetton

 

What You’ll Learn

  • How to create meaningful content.

  • How to attach your brand to a credible topic.

  • Why marketers feel guilty.

  • Timing your engagement and communication with your community.

  • Understanding the concept of brand stewardship.

  • Finding your purpose and creative ways your brand can share that message.

 

Key Takeaways

1. The lines between demonstration and promotion of products are becoming blurred.

2. Creating experiences that engage is the best use of modern marketing.

3. Remember the Dove example: they create real beauty with their ads.

4. Your brand doesn’t always need to be on. Make your responses meaningful. Take time to craft the stories and the messages.

5. Make your responses timely and appropriate.

6. Explain your message using storytelling: what is your brand and what is it here to do?

7. Don’t let your brand get lost in the clutter: put control in consumers’ hands but maintain enough control to retain coherence of your brand.

8. Remember the Four Cs for modern engagement: culture, collaboration, co-creation, and conversation.

9. Great brands humanise their company. They make the content they produce and share relatable and interesting.

10. Your brand must have a meaningful role in consumers’ lives to be successful.

 

Contact

Zaid Al-Zaidy on Twitter

McCann London

The Freelancer’s Handbook: Writing for the Other

Opinion piece: Writing for the Other – As writers and freelancers, we are constantly writing about people and for people that are different to us. The following is advice on how to approach writing for the Other.
 

 

When you are a freelance journalist you rarely know where you will be stationed in the coming weeks or months. One week you might find yourself ensconced inside four rigid office walls in the middle of a large capital city and the next in some remarkably exotic and far flung location where the luxuries of the previous week are a world away.  

The latter scenario – and less extreme examples – throws up a whole range of challenges. Freelancers are constantly writing for people and about people who are different to them.

This requires a degree of cultural sensitivity and nuance. 

Here are five things I have learnt when covering events occurring in different cultures.

 

Be aware of the cultural influences

As a writer you can’t make cultural assumptions – be mindful of the influences at play in the context of your writing. Different environments can be influenced by cultural worldviews and other factors. 

For example, when adhering to the Afrocentric cultural worldview, a ‘successful person’ will be the one who improves the community. S/he lives by the proverb, “I am because you are”. Success is for the entire tribe – heroes are those who raise the status of the nation as opposed to the that of individuals.

In Eurocentric cultural world view settings, the ‘successful person’ has an enviable lifestyle, is financially rich and considered a captain of industry because of their influential leadership role. 

In simple terms, those that value Asiocentric cultural worldviews revere the spirit as opposed to fleeting things. The ‘successful person’ is one who has harnessed the power of their mind and is a spiritual guru or mentor.

Being aware of the relevant influences will help the freelance writer to ask the right questions and be aware that truth is somewhat relative. 

 

Redefine the ‘experts’

As a freelance writer, you need to leave your comfort zone and go grassroots; talk to the people involved, exchange stories, spend some time in their shoes, go there! 

Online research doesn’t cut it. You have to be there to see and smell things with your own eyes, to speak to people on the ground. In most stories, it is the citizens that have the most important stories to tell. Listen to them; they are the experts. 

 

Know yourself

Before you write, know who you are and what you stand for. Failure to do so may result in the writer skewing the story to answer their own questions as opposed to what is of public interest. Be aware of your place in the context of your writing and know your limitations.

 

Minorities matter too

In all societies there are minorities. and groups that receive less attention and understanding than others. A journalist should never forget that these people are deserving of a voice, and are perhaps in more need of one than anyone else. 

For example, with the rugby world cup coming up, a lot of attention is given to male players. Women are still generally considered to be the Other to their superior male counterparts. Look at the statistics, look at the fame, viewership and sponsorship given to the male teams as opposed to the female teams. As a freelance writer, one needs to be aware of that.

While it is true that an interview with a male soccer/rugby player may most likely go viral – even though the same questions are asked – the freelancer must always strive to represent both sides. Believe that all people are equally worthy of respect, coverage and recognition.

 

Seek wisdom; It is not static

Wisdom can come from tone, an indexical image, gut feeling, research, books or expert insights. Don’t limit yourself to the conventional. Wisdom is enduring, and can be found in all sorts of places.

Writing for the Other requires a constant and contemplative sense of awareness. Be mindful of the context, your own disposition, and your sources of information.

 

 

Phindiwe Nkosi is a freelance reporter, travel writer and social media consultant based in South Africa. 

To connect with Phindiwe Nkosi on Twitter, click here (30 000+ followers).

How To Start A Podcast With Richard Davies

Did you know that podcasts create an intimate relationship with your customers?

This week we sat down with Richard Davies, a former ABC correspondent. Listen, and learn how to start a podcast and why you need journalists, editors, and storytellers to support your creation of branded content. 

Richard Davies is the founder, Executive Producer, and co-host of How Do We Fix It?

He was at the Berlin Wall in 1989, on President-elect Clinton’s campaign plane in 1992, and in 
the streets of lower Manhattan on the morning of the 9/11 attacks.  He’s reported from four 
continents and more than 20 nations, following wars, political campaigns, royal weddings and 
the global financial crisis.  

Now it’s time for something new.  After reporting the news at ABC, Richard is free to comment.

His first venture is the weekly podcast, How Do We Fix It? Richard and fellow journalist, Jim Meigs, former Editor-in-Chief of Popular Mechanics, call on experts, and seek solutions to vital maters that concern all of us.  From getting out of personal debt to finding better teachers for our kids and probing the future of space exploration, How Do We Fix It? presents positive views on challenging matters.

The Rise of Podcasts

We’re talking about podcasting and what is being called the “Golden Age of audio podcasts”.
The numbers are growing rapidly and more brands and solopreneurs are taking a seat behind 
the microphone and sharing their thoughts.

In the U.S. 40 million podcast listeners tune into podcasts each month and that figure is 
expected to grow with the advancement of technology. Car dashboards are soon going to be 
equipped with technology to easily listen to podcasts.

For instance, the birth of networks such as Gimlet Media which was founded by Alex Blumberg, a former producer for This American Life, raised interest and millions to launch the company. And the podcast Serial, created by the creators of This American Life, attracted huge numbers of listeners to the tune of about about a million+ downloads per episode.

 

What You’ll Learn

  • How to use branded content in your podcast.

  • What makes the best podcasts sound so good.

  • Why podcasting is on the verge of big success.

  • How to build an audience for your podcast.

  • How Patagonia uses its podcast to deepen relationships using branded content.

 

Key Takeaways

1. More than 40 million Americans listen to a podcast in a given month.

2. Immediacy and intimacy are two of the most powerful aspects of podcasting.

3. Podcasts offer the opportunity to be more experimental.

4. Podcasts are intimate.

5. Make your podcast a story that contains information, interviews, tips, resources, and experts.

6. Make sure your podcast provides value.

7. Use your podcast to spark people’s interest via storytelling.

8. Consider voice coaching or guidance if you’ve never done audio broadcasting.

9. Silence is okay. Sometimes listeners actually need a moment to catch up. 

10. Make your brand reflect who you are: be yourself.

 

Mentioned In This Episode

WTF Podcast with Marc Maron

Serial Podcast

Contact

Richard Davies Website

How Do We Fix It Podcast

Twitter @RichardDavies  

 

SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES AND NEVER MISS AN EPISODE OF BRAND STORYTELLING

Ross Quintana: Building Your Tribe For Successful Brand Storytelling

This week on our podcast, learn what differentiates a tribe from a customer base. Find out the key reasons that brands build tribes, and how your brand storytelling content can help  your tribe grow.

Ross Quintana is the founder of Social Magnets, a company that specialises in consulting, marketing, social media, and SEO. He is a Change agent – he implements change to make things better. He helps brands grow, develop a unique perspective and dominate in a competitive business environment. He likes to say: “Show me a project and I’ll show you how to make it better.”

The secret source of tribes and that concept of tribes versus, say an audience or a customer base as it could be more sterilely said, is the fact that there is something else that connects you in a tribe.

— Ross Quintana

 

What You’ll Learn

  • What a tribe is and why your brand should create a tribe.

  • The importance of tribe building and how to do it.

  • How to talk to your customer instead of broadcasting to the masses.

  • How to build brand loyalty through relationships and storytelling. 

  • The “Bullets2Bandages” case study and what you can learn from it.

  • How to create partners and use cause-oriented marketing to grow tribes and gain exposure.

 

 

Key Takeaways

1. Carve out your goal. Don’t be a generic product or service.

2. Be clear about who you are and who your audience is. 

3. Discover your audience’s interests.

4. Find out where your audience is.

5. Tailor a story that communicates to your target audience and makes them compelled to take part.

6. Don’t talk about yourself. Focus your content on your audience and their needs.

7. Curate content based on your audience’s interest. Share information that’s valuable to that key audience.

8. Combine your storytelling with cause-oriented marketing. 

9. You must be authentic and form partnerships that have the right audiences that already exist.

 

Mentioned in this episode

The Tribes We Lead With Seth Godin

Understanding Tribes Question & Answer PDF

 

Contact

Twitter @Ross_Quintana

Social Magnets Website

 

SUBSCRIBE ON ITUNES AND NEVER MISS AN EPISODE OF BRAND STORYTELLING

The Freelancer’s Handbook: Quoting Sources

By Kath Walters

Research is the basis of every great story we tell and quoting the sources that contribute to our stories brings depth and balance.

Unfortunately, quoting sources can also end up fragmenting stories, interrupting their flow, and distracting the reader. On the other hand, by not quoting sources you may be plagiarising.

There is an art to introducing ideas from various sources into a story coherently.

Balance

Balance is a misunderstood idea. It does not mean canvassing both sides of an argument and leaving it up to the reader to decide.

Balance is presenting your ideas, based on research, while openly addressing the criticisms that others might have of them.

Why is this important to quoting sources?

Because you want to present some quotes that support your case, and others that oppose it. It is a good idea to group them in your story to make your ideas flow more smoothly.

However, there are disagreements about the issue of balance. The online journalists’ resource, The News Manual, describes the role of the journalist thus: “… as a journalist, you are simply the channel through which people with something to say speak to people who want to know what they said.”

This is true for news writing in my view, but not for features, profiles, case studies and many other forms of journalism.

In many cases, the writer’s role is to do the research and then argue the case in a balanced manner.

Introduce your source

By introducing your sources, you help your readers to identify whether they are in the ‘for’ or ‘against’ camp.

Introducing your quotes means making an assertion about where the quote fits into your story, according to the valuable online resource, the Writer’s Handbook.

The handbook elegantly summarises the writing task of including quotes in this way: “One of your jobs as a writer is to guide your reader through your text. Don’t simply drop quotations into your paper and leave it to the reader to make connections.”

Don’t quote facts

Quotes enliven a story. There is no point in quoting someone saying, “There are 365 days in a year”.  

The best way to use direct quotations is to “record the opinions, emotions, and unique expressions of your sources,” according to Dennis Jerz, associate professor in English at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, USA.

Quotes are like lovers – we don’t need them, but we want them because they make life more interesting and meaningful.

End with a quote

Quotes do not make good beginnings.  They are too slow. We want to know both the point of the story we are reading, and its benefit to us within seconds of starting to read it.

On the other hand, a quote can be a fabulous way to end a story – memorable, emotional, and human. A final quote can complete a story, pull it together in a way that lingers in the mind of the reader.

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Don Murray shared his views on ending stories with a quote: “Its authority comes from the speaker, not the reporter. It gives a sense of objectivity to the story, and it allows for a conclusion in a manner that the reader will accept and believe. It lets the writer get out of the way.”

Building & Protecting Your Online Reputation With Nicole Matejic

The growth of social media has brands wondering how to protect and build their reputations online. Nicole Matejic shares strategies to keep your brand safe as well as how to build a content library in your area of expertise.

“The storytelling aspect has completely changed with the revolution of social media. So, you need to be across so many different aspects of storytelling now and the brands that do that storytelling well, really engage and have that audience that just loves them. They have those “raving fans” as Pat Flynn likes to call them.” –Nicole Matejic

CEO of global military think tank ‘Info Ops HQ’ Nicole delivers training to global military forces in strategic and tactical information operations in the social media battlespace.

Also known as The #SocialFirefighter® – Nicole founded and heads up Australian Social Media Crisis Communications Consultancy ‘Social Media Monster.’ Working with all levels of Government and in the corporate sector, Nicole provides specialist crisis communications services, training, strategy and preparedness simulations to organisations across Australia. As an early adopter of using social media as a law enforcement and intelligence information source; Nicole’ s experience, qualifications and unique insight into the social media battlespace has seen her turn her highly successful blog into a global consultancy that delivers training to military forces around the world.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to protect your brand.
  • How to help prevent your brand from being impersonated.
  • Why you must have a content library.
  • How to discover what your audience likes: using platforms such as Facebook insights.
  • The three social media rules of engagement.
  • How to start conversations to encourage online social media engagement.

Key Takeaways

1.    Don’t just set a social media stream to be a one-way broadcast.

2.    You must be actively involved in your social media communities to protect your brand.

3.    Watch out for social media predators who impersonate brands by setting up fake accounts.

4.    These fake accounts are designed to gather likes and emails and sell them to marketers.

5.    Be present and relevant on social platforms.

6.    Watch the engagement to learn about what your audience likes.

7.    Share third-party content but be sure to get your voice into the content by commenting on it.

8.    Be mindful of the words you use. Your posts build your online reputation.

9.    Set a culture and tone on your Website hub through your content.

10.  Make sure the content created is produced and written in a way that replicates the brand experience and carries an authentic voice.

 

Contact

Twitter @NicoleMatejic

Nicole’s Website

Social Media Rules Of Engagement by Nicole Matejic

If you are looking to build a loyal audience with high quality content that generates qualified leads, get in touch with Newsmodo today. 

Building & Protecting Your Online Reputation With Nicole Matejic

The growth of social media has brands wondering how to protect and build their reputations online. Nicole Matejic shares strategies to keep your brand safe as well as how to build a content library in your area of expertise.

“The storytelling aspect has completely changed with the revolution of social media. So, you need to be across so many different aspects of storytelling now and the brands that do that storytelling well, really engage and have that audience that just loves them. They have those “raving fans” as Pat Flynn likes to call them.” –Nicole Matejic

CEO of global military think tank ‘Info Ops HQ’ Nicole delivers training to global military forces in strategic and tactical information operations in the social media battlespace.

Also known as The #SocialFirefighter® – Nicole founded and heads up Australian Social Media Crisis Communications Consultancy ‘Social Media Monster.’ Working with all levels of Government and in the corporate sector, Nicole provides specialist crisis communications services, training, strategy and preparedness simulations to organisations across Australia. As an early adopter of using social media as a law enforcement and intelligence information source; Nicole’ s experience, qualifications and unique insight into the social media battlespace has seen her turn her highly successful blog into a global consultancy that delivers training to military forces around the world.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to protect your brand.
  • How to help prevent your brand from being impersonated.
  • Why you must have a content library.
  • How to discover what your audience likes: using platforms such as Facebook insights.
  • The three social media rules of engagement.
  • How to start conversations to encourage online social media engagement.

Key Takeaways

1.    Don’t just set a social media stream to be a one-way broadcast.

2.    You must be actively involved in your social media communities to protect your brand.

3.    Watch out for social media predators who impersonate brands by setting up fake accounts.

4.    These fake accounts are designed to gather likes and emails and sell them to marketers.

5.    Be present and relevant on social platforms.

6.    Watch the engagement to learn about what your audience likes.

7.    Share third-party content but be sure to get your voice into the content by commenting on it.

8.    Be mindful of the words you use. Your posts build your online reputation.

9.    Set a culture and tone on your Website hub through your content.

10.  Make sure the content created is produced and written in a way that replicates the brand experience and carries an authentic voice.

 

Contact

Twitter @NicoleMatejic

Nicole’s Website

Social Media Rules Of Engagement by Nicole Matejic

If you are looking to build a loyal audience with high quality content that generates qualified leads, get in touch with Newsmodo today. 

The difference between content marketing and SPAM

By Kath Walters

There is a widespread misunderstanding in the corporate marketing community about the difference between content marketing and spam.

Thousands of companies are damaging their own brand credibility by spamming clients and customers.

Here’s how it happens

I provide a company with my email address for one purpose – to engage their services – and in many cases the company does one of two things:

1.       They insist I cannot do business with them without receiving their content marketing email.

2.       Sign me up to their content without my permission.

A massive lost opportunity follows

Having manipulated their way into my inbox, corporate marketers then waste a massive opportunity to actually win me over. How? With an e-newsletter that is not good enough and delivers no value to me; offering only spin and advertising.

But if the company ran a good content marketing program current and potential customers would be excited to sign up to their newsletter.

They would be reading it, amazed at the generosity, value and insights within, and forwarding it to friends with notes, like: “Thought you might find this useful – I did!”

They’d be tweeting it, and posting it on LinkedIn.

Why are we getting SPAM and not quality content?

I believe it is because corporate marketing departments look at subscriptions to their e-newsletter as the ultimate measure of success.

It can be a good measure – except it means little if you sign up uninterested people.

Of course, I understand the temptation. Who wouldn’t like 250,000 followers? It can be very tempting to tell your boss that you have 3,000 people signing up every month.

How to stop destroying your brand

Having 200,000 followers’ means nothing if 199,000 of them don’t like receiving your content.

Here’s what you need to do to reverse the trend:

1.       Be brave: stand up to your peers and leaders and explain that content marketing is a way of delivering qualified leads.

2.       Marketing is about delivering value to your consumer.

3.       Make sure every time your content appears in anyone’s inbox, they have opted to receive it.

4.       Valued content is “sticky” – it is relevant, timely and trusted.

5.       Use call-to-action, ads and promotions to invite readers to do business with you.

This article about social media spam will help round out your understanding of this idea.

For more on the topic of content value, here’s a story from my website.

 

If you want your customers to share your content, have it written by professional freelance journalists, through Newsmodo.