Build Trust with Education-Based Marketing

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Are you tired of sales pitches? Do you hate feeling like you’re being sold to? So do I. Like many consumers today, I want more from the companies I choose to do business with.

There are two key things you need to know about consumers today:

  • They make purchases and do business based on trust
  • Purchases are made on their own timetable, whether or not it aligns with your business

In other words, traditional marketing styles no longer have the impact they once did. Consumers are more discerning and focused on the value your company can give them rather than simply the products or services you provide. If traditional marketing is sale-based, today’s approach is education-based.

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Boost Your Marketing Power with Storytelling

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Storytelling is an essential and ancient part of human communication. Before the advent of writing, detailed stories were told orally, passed from generation to generation. Stories hold meaning for cultures, reflecting their histories, beliefs, and customs. We tell stories to learn, build relationships, and make sense of the world around us.

In fact, our brains are programmed to recognize patterns and find meaning in those patterns. A story is a kind of pattern, and stories are an effective marketing tool that you can use to build connection with your audience.

There are good stories, and then there are great stories, the ones we remember. But what makes a compelling, memorable story?

Elements of an Effective Story

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Experiment With Your Marketing

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Picture your marketing strategy 10 years ago. It probably looked a lot different than your strategy of today. Now imagine you were still using the same marketing content and tactics from 10 years ago. Do you think you’d be successful?

Probably not. Marketing is constantly changing, as new technologies are introduced, new trends appear, and younger generations enter the market. To be effective, your business must change, too.

Recognizing the need to change your strategy is the first step. But change isn’t always easy. How do you know what to change? And how do you make it happen?

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How Inbound Marketing Generates Leads

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Imagine a marketing system that works in the background of your business or organization attracting leads to your door. Imagine this same process not only attracting leads, but building a fan-base of prospects who are both enthusiastic and qualified leads, the best kind of lead!

Have you heard of inbound marketing? Do you know how it differs from traditional marketing? If it’s all a bit fuzzy to you, you’re not alone. Inbound marketing is a core strategy for generating leads through content creation. Here’s what you need to know to start using inbound marketing for your business.

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Is Social Media Print’s New Best Friend?

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While print and social media may compete for your marketing dollars, they don’t have to compete for your customers. In fact, using them together can make your marketing more effective. Let’s look at five ways print and social media can work together.

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How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything

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The place: a recent introductory meeting with the newly-hired Marketing Director of a local established and respected mid-sized company.

The topic: the state of the company’s marketing collateral.

This is a good-sized business selling big ticket services that regularly invoice in the $100,000 to $1M range. Yet, you would never perceive this when handed one of their business cards or company brochures.

The firm was seemingly still holding on to their start days, when print collateral was designed in-house using Microsoft Word, then printed on the company copier. That may have been appropriate and practical then. But given the size and capabilities of the company now, the state of their print collateral imparts a huge perception gap on the brand.  This company was attempting to continue to grow business and generate leads. However, the amateurism of their branded handouts did not match the professionalism of their work.

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What Your Nonprofit Needs to Know About Blogging

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If you’re regularly on the internet, you’re probably encountering blogs on a daily basis. Blogs are everywhere—some people even blog for a living. Content development has become an established piece of marketing and fundraising strategy. It’s important that both for profit and not for profit organizations can give their audience value and information, and blogs are a popular way to do that.

Blogging is an effective way to stay in touch with your donors in a format that is informative and engaging. Whether you have an established blog for your nonprofit or you’ve never written a blog post in your life, these ideas can help you create a top-notch nonprofit blog page so your organization will stand out from the crowd.

1) To Blog or Not to Blog?

It’s important to consider a few things before you get down to blogging:

  • What host will you use? WordPress is a popular website tool, but there are other options.
  • Do you have a goal or goals for your blog? Have key members of your organization sit together and come up with some concrete guidelines for what you hope to get out of blogging. Maybe you’re trying to attract volunteers. Over time, you can measure whether your blog is succeeding based on the numbers of new volunteers you’re seeing.
  • Who will be in charge of posting? Maybe one person is always in charge of blogging, or duties are shared throughout your nonprofit. Whatever you decide, ensure everyone knows their role and the publishing timeline.
  • Does your organization have the time and resources for a blog? You can read more about this below. But if you know upfront that regular blogging is not a feasible possibility for your nonprofit, it’s best to focus on other projects. Having no blog is better than having a lackluster one.
  • Who is your audience, and what questions will they have? Different causes appeal to different groups of people. You know your donors, and you’ll want to consider what language/tone you should use to speak to them in your blog, as well as what they want to know about your organization.
  • How will you promote your blog? You can share your blog on social media, include a link to it in an email newsletter, feature it on your website’s homepage…think about what channels you have a following on, and use them to your advantage.

2) Consistency is Key in Blogging

Blogging requires frequent updates of fresh content to keep followers engaged. If you’re going to start blogging for your nonprofit, make sure you have the time to regularly devote to it.

Part of being consistent is publishing content on a regular schedule. It could be once a week, twice a week, a few times per month—whatever timeline you feel you can keep up with. When you update on a regular basis, say, every Wednesday, your audience will come to expect your posts on Wednesdays and will be more likely to come back to your site looking for them. A blog that is only sporadically updated is not going to receive that kind of attention. Readers won’t view it as a reliable, regular source of content.

You’ll also want to be consistent in the feel of your blog. You want your readers to come to see your blog as a friendly and trusted resource. Keep your tone of voice and the look of your blog similar from post to post. For instance, if many of your posts start with an image, make sure to include an image at the beginning of every post.

3) Blogs Give Your Nonprofit Authority and Build Trust

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There are a lot of nonprofits out there—1.5 million in the U.S., in fact. And it’s likely there are other organizations with goals and missions that are similar to yours. Blogging is a way that you can showcase your unique story, while also establishing your knowledge of your field.

You can use a blog to inform your audience on topics centered around your nonprofit’s mission. By showing you have an extensive knowledge of the issue and topics surrounding it, you present yourself to donors as an authority in your field. This helps to give your organization credibility, and donors will feel that you have the experience to put funds to best use and truly solve problems.

By showing your knowledge, along with proof of the work you are doing, you build trust with your audience as well. It’s important to think of your donors as friends, individuals you’re building a long and sociable relationship with. Typically, we trust our friends. Blogging is a way to deepen that trusting relationship by showing that you’re listening to what your donors have to say and are actively working to achieve goals they’re looking to you to solve.

Consistency helps build trust as well. If you are consistent in your efforts and consistent in your blogging, your audience will rely on you to provide them with regular information that they want to know about your organization and its work.

4) Engage your Audience with Blogging

Enhancing donor loyalty requires you to think of your donors as friends and develop relationships with them. One of the best ways to do that is to create opportunities for donors to engage with you and share their thoughts.

Blogging is an effective way to enhance your engagement with a wide audience. People can comment on your blog, contact you based on a post they found interesting, attend an event or volunteer after reading a post, sign up for your email list, and share your content on social media. Sharing is huge for blogs. It allows people to see your blog and learn about your organization who might not come across you otherwise.

Engagement is truly one of the main goals of blogging, and while everything you post won’t lead directly to a donation, giving people exposure to your organization and getting people talking about it is going to have an impact.

5) Blogs Tell Your Story

Stories are a compelling way to give your nonprofit personality and heart. You may have stories that you regularly use in fundraising and marketing materials. But there are all kinds of stories you can tell about your employees, volunteers, and beneficiaries of your nonprofit that make for great blog posts.

Event coverage is an effective blog topic. You can show who is involved, how you’re working to make an impact, and what you achieved. Your events may not get a lot of coverage from external media groups, so covering them yourself ensures people will see the good work you’re doing.

Talking about the stories and goings-on at your nonprofit shows your audience that you are actively working to achieve your mission and that your efforts are effective at doing so. Being able to communicate that you are active and making a difference is important to donors, because they can be sure their donations will be making an impact for good.

6) Blogs Convey Your Purpose

Your nonprofit is up against a lot of competition. Your blog is a place for you to separate yourself from the pack and convey not just the story of your organization, but also its purpose. Why does your specific nonprofit need to exist? How is it going to provide something different than organizations with similar goals? What is your blog’s purpose? How will it work to contribute to your mission and the betterment of your community?

7) What Types of Content?

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You want to achieve consistency in the look and feel of your blog. At the same time, you’ll need a variety of content to keep your blog interesting. Sometimes you may want to share an interesting article you find, or you’ll be writing your own. Some posts will be more text-heavy, but visuals are helpful for readers to visualize what you’re writing about. Take lots of pictures and videos of different events and happenings you’re involved in. That way, you’ll have a lot of content to draw from.

You may also want to feature a guest blogger occasionally. A board member or a volunteer could write about their experience with your organization and why they’re so passionate about helping you to achieve your mission. Or an expert in the field related to your nonprofit can contribute a post to help further educate donors about the issues you’re working to solve.

Another great post idea is to address frequently asked questions about your organization. If it’s content that people are regularly looking for, a blog post can pull double duty.  While contributing to your regular posting schedule, it will also provide evergreen content that can regularly be referred to.

And as we know a thank you is always welcome, your blog is another way to show gratitude and appreciation for your donors. Make a fun video with volunteers, employees, and beneficiaries saying thank you, and weave a tone of thankfulness throughout all your communications.

Paw Print & Mail specializes in nonprofit appeal production services and copywriting and content marketing, including ghost blogging services. If you need assistance with your nonprofit appeal strategy, contact Paw Print today.

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7 Reasons You Should Be Mailing Postcards

Sampling of Paw Print postcardsDo you receive a lot of emails? Too many? I know I do. The average American receives 88 emails per day, with office workers seeing over 120. Even if an email is full of worthy content, it can be hard for it to stand out from the rest.

What about direct mail? Some days, my household doesn’t receive any. So, when I do find something in my mailbox, I tend to remember it, and I certainly notice it.

Direct Mail Works for You

In our increasingly digital world, direct mail is often seen as an outdated and ineffective marketing strategy. But there are many statistics in its favor:

  • About 80% of direct mail is opened
  • 70% of Americans believe mail is more personal than digital communications
  • 56% of consumers have tried a new business, and 70% have renewed relationships with businesses, after receiving direct mail from them

And that just begins to scratch the surface of the powerhouse that direct mail can be for your business. It’s even more effective when used as part of a multi-channel marketing strategy. Direct mail is also a versatile medium, allowing you to be extremely personal with your audience and adding interest with a range of colors, textures, and shapes.

One of the most popular direct mail formats is the postcard. 56% of postcards are read by direct mail recipients, the most read of any direct mail piece. If you haven’t included postcards in your marketing strategy, here are 7 reasons you should consider doing so.

1. Strong Visual Potential

Postcards are attention-grabbers, standing out among the typically white envelopes that fill our mailboxes. A challenge of direct mail is enticing recipients to open an envelope, but with postcards, everything is immediately visible. Your message is right in front of the reader, increasing the chance that your audience will read your content and follow through on a call to action (CTA). It’s an opportunity for you to get creative, with exciting visuals, colors, and shapes.

2. Concise Content for Consumers

There are many media and marketing messages competing for our attentions on a daily basis. Consumers are short on time, and must be selective in the content they read and watch. Postcards don’t offer a lot of room to get technical, so they require you to be concise with your message. Short, compelling copy combined with attractive visuals effectively gets a message across to your reader, striking their interest and leaving them wanting more.

3. Postcards Save Time and Money

Direct mail is a versatile medium, and each type of mailing has its purpose. More costly mailings can be very effective. But postcards are an affordable option that allows you to cut down on costs while still delivering a compelling marketing message. Postcards are also faster to produce than other mailings. They require no folding or envelope stuffing. You can eliminate the need for labels by printing the address right on the card.

4. Craft Targeted Campaigns

Other traditional forms of advertising, like television or print ads, allow you to reach a wide ranging but not highly targeted audience. With direct mail, you know exactly who will receive your message, and you can craft that message accordingly. Since postcards are relatively easy and inexpensive to produce, you can create different versions to send to segmented audiences based on demographics like location or past purchase history. Messages that are more targeted toward the recipient are more likely to be acted upon.

5. Pursue More Leads

Additionally, postcards are a better direct mail format for pursuing leads. Current customers are likely to be more receptive to receiving in-depth communications from you. If a recipient doesn’t currently have a relationship with your company, you have to work harder to pique their interest. Since postcards are inexpensive and visually engaging, they can be used to introduce a prospective customer to your company in a visually compelling way, and encourage them to connect with you.

6. Measure Mail Effectiveness

Direct mail campaigns are more meaningful when you measure how effective they are at compelling your audience to act. A postcard with a concise CTA is easier to measure, especially when your CTA includes a coupon or special offer. As recipients use the coupon or take you up on your offer, you’re able to see whether your mailing had the result you were hoping for, or whether it fell flat. You can easily adjust your postcards to do an A/B test, sending multiple versions at one time to find the offer that most effectively converts your customers.

7. Encourage A Conversation

Postcards are a great format for promoting events, as you want lots of visuals and color to encourage people to attend. And, though postcards can be personalized, the format encourages them to be shared in a way that a letter wouldn’t be. A postcard may be viewed by multiple members in one household. This increases the reach of your message and generates a conversation.

At Paw Print & Mail, we’re specialists in direct mail marketing strategies and fulfillment. Contact us today to enhance your direct mail marketing strategy.

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Step Up Your Website’s SEO

Search Engine Optimization key words

I don’t know about you, but when I think about buying something, I like to do my research. It’s important to me to know a bit about the company I’m doing business with, and to see if their product or service is truly the best option. And with a world of information available just a click away on the internet, it’s easier than ever to find the information I’m looking for.

According to HubSpot, 81% of consumers do online research before making a purchase, especially for larger investments. And, 64% of web traffic comes from organic searches, rather than ad clicks. It’s critical that consumers are able to find your website during a web search. You can drive more traffic to your site using search engine optimization (SEO).

What is SEO?

SEO involves strategies to ensure your website will be visible in search engine results. It’s usually possible to find the information you’re looking for in the first page or two of search results. Consumers aren’t going to go through multiple pages of results if they don’t have to. Sites that appear higher up in a search are going to have the most visitors. How do companies get their sites to appear first? They’ve implemented SEO.

You can also increase SEO value with paid advertisements and by sharing content on social media. But today we’re going to talk about how you can make changes on your website to achieve a higher SEO ranking. You’ll start generating more traffic and more leads organically, without the expense of a paid search.

1) Track Web Visitors

To get the most value out of optimizing your site, you’ll want to keep track of the numbers. You can use software like Google Analytics to determine how many web users visit your website, how long they stay on the site, as well as what pages they visit the most. If you know before making any adjustments to your SEO what kind of traffic your page sees, it is easier to measure the effectiveness of your efforts, and test different words and phrases to get better results.

2) Use Title Tags

SEO title tag descriptions

The title tag appears in two places. In a search result, it’s the headline text that you see and can click on. Once you click on the link, the title tag also appears in the tab at the top of the web browser.

A title tag should be a concise and accurate description of what the webpage is about. For instance, our website’s homepage title tag is “Printing & Mailing Services, South Burlington, Vermont | Paw Print & Mail.” The title tag picks up on key words that a prospect is likely to put into the web search bar.  If someone were to search “printing services Burlington Vermont” the search platform would pick out those words from our title tag, and our website would appear higher in the search results.

When creating a title tag, you’ll want to keep it under 60 characters so that it is easy and quick to read. Also make it readable, as if you’re speaking or asking a person a question—a list of keywords won’t do. Instead of “SEO title tag keywords web search,” or something along those lines, try “How to Optimize SEO with a Title Tag – ABC Company.” Web users may be looking for information related to the terms in the first example. But it isn’t user friendly and doesn’t tell you what the web page is actually about or who created it.

Another important tip is to give each of the pages on your website a unique title tag. This increases the phrases and keywords associated with your site and the chance that your site will appear in search results.

3) Write Meta Descriptions

This is the text that appears below a title tag in a web search. It’s usually a sentence or two that gives users an idea of what they’ll find on your site, so keywords are important here too.

SEO meta description examples

While not as closely tied to a search result ranking as a title tag, the meta description allows a web user to determine if your site is relevant to what they’re searching for. It can be the factor that leads someone to click on your site, or not. Using action oriented words and phrases in the meta description will help compel a web user to go to your site and take action.

Google allows meta descriptions to be up to 320 characters long. But you may find a shorter description conveys your point more concisely. Like the title tag, meta descriptions should be different for each page on your site. A generic meta description for every page on your site decreases the relevance for web searchers, as it is not descriptive enough.

4) Add Internal Links

Internal linking means including links on each of your pages to other pages on your website. You can include them in the main navigation bar and throughout the copy. Your home page has the most SEO value of any page on your site. When your content can be easily reached through links on the homepage, it has greater value in a search result.SEO spider

Think of it like a spider crawling through your site. A web search sends out spiders to every search result. The spiders are happy when they can easily crawl to the bulk of your site’s content just by accessing the home page—like a well-designed web! The happier the spider, the more search value your site will have.

Make it easy to navigate your site, too. Clear headers in your navigation bar and a consistent layout on each page will allow visitors to quickly find the information they’re looking for. When your website is easy to navigate, spiders will like it, and so will your prospective customers.

5) External Links

These are links that go to any site or domain other than your own. Search engines place greater value on links that lead to separate sites than internal links to your own site. External links add to the authority of your site, especially when you link to a reputable source, and add to the relevancy of your content in the search engine’s eyes.

Linking to another site can also help you to develop a relationship with that site. By sharing their content, you make them aware of your webpage, and hopefully they will see you as a source to link to for the future.

External links are enhanced when you focus on the words you are using to hyperlink, the anchor text. Rather than hyperlinking the words “click here,” make your anchor text descriptive. If you’re linking to a source about increasing SEO value, your anchor text could be “top ways you can increase SEO value.” These are the kinds of keywords people will use to search for information about the topic, and it helps give a sense what the link is about.

6) Generate Fresh Content

The marketing climate today demands that companies be producing fresh content on a regular basis. In addition to supplementing your overall marketing strategy, new content can help to increase traffic to your webpage. One of the best ways to do this is by regularly publishing a blog. Writing about topics that your audience is interested in and searching for will allow you to appear in a wider range of search results, giving web users greater exposure to your brand. Blogging also builds your authority as an expert in your field or industry.

7) Include Image Descriptions

Images are a key part of a website’s content, but a web search looks for text only. “Alt” tags are a way to add SEO value to the images on your site. Including a tag for each image can help increase the search ranking of your site, especially when you write it with SEO in mind. The alt tag should be specific and include key words but, like the title tag, should be a readable/conversational phrase. Alt tags are also a critical piece of website accessibility, as they ensure visitors who can’t view the images can still understand what your content is about.

8) Test Your Loading Time

While not directly related to search results, the time it takes for your website to load can also be a factor in the level of traffic you’re seeing. 40% of people will abandon a website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load.  And the longer the site takes to load, the higher that percentage gets. Make sure that your prospects can not only find your site, but can get to it as well. Try some of these strategies to speed up loading times.

9) Create Search Friendly URLS

Create a standard system for naming your page URLS. Often when a page is generated, it will be a random mix of letters, numbers, and symbols that are not attractive to a search engine. If you sell apparel, for example, a friendly URL could be “www.apparelcompany.com/women/tshirts.” The search engine will put that site high in the search results when someone looks for women’s t-shirts.

Writing compelling web copy isn’t easy, and Paw Print & Mail is here to help! Contact us today and ask about our professional copywriting services.

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4 Essential Copy Tips for Connecting with Prospects

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Lead generation is an important piece of marketing any business. And writing compelling copy is essential for connecting with prospects. The right copy with the right message behind it will give your marketing campaigns a significant edge over your competition.

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