Consider the Subtle Branding Approach

Branding-paw-print-and-mailEach morning as I prepare for work, I gather up the essentials: keys, phone, lunch, and travel mug. Whether I’m in the mood for coffee or tea, starting my day with a hot beverage is part of my routine, and it’s probably part of yours too. My mug gets a lot of use, but it’s not only functional—it also makes a statement. With a bright colored body and bold logo, my mug shows that I’m a proud graduate of my college. I’m not just drinking coffee; I’ve become a brand ambassador for my school.

While I could use any mug, I chose one that makes a statement with bold branding because the connection to my school is an important part of who I am. However, such branding is not the right fit for every product or every customer. Sometimes a subtler branding approach may lead to more engagement from a prospective customer—and more sales and leads for your business.

Why Use Promotional Products?

Branded promotional items are everywhere these days. It’s likely you have several yourself. Promo marketing includes the basics, like branded apparel, mugs, and pens, and also things like golf balls, kitchen items, and car accessories. You could even get a branded toaster, if you wanted. Your options for promotional products are nearly unlimited. But what is the real benefit to using them?

According to the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA), advertising with promotional products directly correlates with improved brand recognition and increased sales. It’s also been shown to have a higher return on investment than other marketing strategies.

Including promotional products in your larger marketing strategy increases the effectiveness of your other marketing methods by 44%. And a study by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) found that 52% of survey respondents did business with a company after receiving a promotional product from them. Promotional product marketing increases brand awareness and gives your company an edge over the competition.

Where Do I Start?

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The key to effective promotional products is that they must be useful to your audience. An item like a pen will get widespread use. But to make the most of promo marketing, you have to think deeper about your customers. You may create a quality product. But if your target audience doesn’t regularly use that item, your marketing will not be as effective.

So, if you have a fitness center, you could have branded water bottles or t-shirts. Or, if you’re in the technology field, try mousepads or USB drives. If your customers not only use the products, but use them when they’re making decisions related to the products or services you offer, you’ll stay at the top of their minds.

Functionality is essential, but another factor to consider is the branding itself. Sticking your logo all over an item may not always be the answer. How much branding is too much branding?

The Subtle Branding Approach

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There are a number of ways to include promo products in your marketing. You can give them away at events, or sell them. You can wear them. And you can include them in a mailing package to reach out to prospects or to thank current customers.

Each of these approaches connects you with a different audience. One way you can differentiate is to choose a level of branding that corresponds to your audience’s level of brand awareness.

In the example of my mug, I want to be a brand ambassador and use a product that promotes and reminds me of my college. That level of branding appeals to me in this instance, but it won’t appeal to everyone. It may seem that placing your logo on an item your audience regularly uses would be a win-win—they’ll use the item, and your business will be promoted. But if you go overboard with branding, it could be too much for people who aren’t already affiliated with you, and you run the risk of your item not being used at all.

The more personal and/or professional a promotional product is, and depending on how, when, or by whom it may be used, the subtler your branding on that item can be. For example, a journal or portfolio binder are items a professional may enjoy receiving. But, will they tend to use it if your logo is splashed all over it? Such an item is more “yours” than “theirs,” so consider this when designing and purchasing certain types of promotional products.

You could choose to keep your branding, but tone it down. Maybe you convert your colorful logo to a neutral black or gray. You still include it on a promotional item. But, make it smaller and place it on a sleek, quality product that will impress your audience.

Another way to be subtle is to include branding that is not specific to your company. You can position the promotional item to elicit a concept or best practice that your audience can relate to. Say you’re a company focused on energy efficiency. You could have promo items like an eco-friendly water bottle or journal decorated with an image, phrase, or artwork that your customer base (environmental advocates who support clean, efficient energy practices) will relate to. It represents your company more subtly than a basic logo.

If I were a long-time customer of your energy company, I may be likely to use a product branded with just your logo. I support what you do, and I want other people to understand your mission and utilize your services. But if I were a prospective customer who was just learning about you, a product emblazoned with your logo is more likely to end up collecting dust. If you can connect with your audience based on a concept they relate to, you’re taking a step towards making them customers and brand ambassadors.

What’s your take—should companies use more or less branding on a promotional product? What branded products have you received and love to use? Let us know!

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Have You Gone to the Mailbox Today?

Rethink Direct Mail

smiling woman opening direct mailThink about the last purchase you made. What did it take to bring you from prospective customer to committed buyer?

Prospects typically need multiple touches before they commit to a purchase—over 7, according to the Online Marketing Institute. While it’s relatively easy to send out lots of emails or post on social media, we’re in an age where many of us are experiencing digital overload. (The average office worker receives 121 emails per day!) In such a crowded digital space, it’s hard to make your voice heard. If you’re not getting the kind of response you’d like from your marketing campaigns, it may be time to add direct mail to the mix.

Direct mail consistently rates as being more trustworthy, more memorable, and read more often than email. It provides a personal touch and the kind of experience digital just can’t deliver.

Direct mail may seem limiting if you have limited experience with it. However, printing has advanced considerably, giving you a wide range of options for texture, color, shape, design, and personalization.

As with any marketing communication, direct mail works best when it is relevant to the recipient and tailored to your audience. Just like digital communications, you can automate your direct mail to make the process more efficient.

What is Marketing Automation?

The basic idea of marketing automation is to use software to replace repetitive manual processes with automated actions. You can find, target, and contact prospects effectively and efficiently. The automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists and target specific audiences with tailored messages, leading to increased sales for your business. Automation delivers you more qualified leads and makes your marketing more efficient, so that you can focus on high-gain sales activities for your company.

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Business image created by Dashu83 – Freepik.com

Automation often relies on a trigger system. When a prospect completes a certain action, such as opting in to an email list, it triggers your software to send an email to them. Automation is regularly used for digital marketing processes. The benefit of digital automation is that you can reach prospects instantaneously, increasing the chances of a sale. However, direct mail can be automated too, and it gives recipients something more: a physical and personal experience that stands out from a cluttered email inbox.

Some examples of direct mail automation campaigns include:

  • Seasonal promotions
  • Exclusive offers based on past purchase history
  • Mailings to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, or to thank
  • Promotional packages, featuring branded products

Case Study: A Real-Life Campaign

profiles of prospective customers
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An essential factor of any automated campaign is to know your audience. Automation software makes it easy to segment your contact lists to find the best audience for your campaign. You can define your best customers and the key demographic and psychographic factors they have in common.

If you’re working in a B2B context, you may find that a certain industry uses your services more frequently than others. It makes sense that you’ll want to engage with similar businesses to find more customers that are like your best customers.

A recent mailing campaign we did followed this model. We identified an industry we frequently worked with, and set out to create a campaign to attract more leads from this group. Having worked with this demographic before, we were able to anticipate common pain points, needs, and desires they face, and create content with those factors in mind.

Before contacting anyone, we put together a compelling direct mail marketing package. Personalized to the recipient, the package showed our knowledge of their industry and reached them on a personal level. The message–we know your problems and desires, and we can help you to solve and achieve them.

The packets included:

  • A letter personalized with the name, address, and institution of the recipient
  • A functional portfolio folder featuring content customized for the recipient’s business
  • A description of our services specific to that audience
  • Contents packaged in a custom envelope

While we were able to create a personal touch with our content, automation allowed us to find and connect with these prospects in a timely, scheduled manner. We purchased data lists that we then compared to our current customer list to exclude our customers from receiving a prospecting packet. Once we identified a qualified list of recipients, we automated the mailing by consistently sending out 10 packets per week. Then, we followed up with a structured phone and email schedule.

We created a personalized and industry-specific mailing and used automation to identify, mail to, and follow up with qualified recipients. We were able to generate business by creating an impression with our direct mail package. It stood out among the myriad marketing messages these businesses received on a daily basis.

At Paw Print & Mail, we specialize in direct mail marketing. Let us help you design, print, and automate your next direct mail campaign, so you can generate qualified leads for your business.

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The Essentials of Email Marketing Automation

email marketing automation graphic205 billion. That’s the number of emails sent every day around the world.

Some days it seems like I receive a billion or so myself. If you’re actively using email for work and to receive information from companies that interest you, your inbox is probably pretty full, too.

Two of the largest complaints consumers have about email are that they receive too many emails (44%) and the emails aren’t relevant to them (37%). Even when an email has relevance for a consumer, it’s easy for it to get lost in a crowded inbox.

To market your business effectively, your emails have to offer timely information that resonates with the recipient. They must be compelling enough to be opened over the dozens of other emails in an inbox. So, how can you make email marketing work for you, connecting with clients on a more personal level?

There’s a lot of talk about marketing automation these days, and for good reason…because it works. At its most basic, email marketing automation allows you to create and schedule emails to be sent out when they are relevant. This saves you time, makes your communication strategy more efficient, and generates more leads or sales for your business.

How Does Automation Work?

Effective automation requires tracking and analyzing data so that your communications reach customers at the right time with the right message. Marketing automation can track prospective customers from their initial visit to your website all the way to post-purchase and beyond. When you track the behavior of leads and customers, it makes it easier to see which of your marketing strategies is most effective, what the typical path from search to sale looks like, and what triggers customers to convert.

You can set up your automation to contact potential customers throughout the sales process. For example, if they’ve spent time searching for a product or service but haven’t yet purchased, automation software could trigger an email that will remind them of their interest and highlight the benefits of what you’re offering. Once they’ve made a purchase, you could send information about how to make the best use of the product. Down the road, your automation could suggest similar products that may interest your customer or upgrades to their current memberships or subscriptions. One name for this kind of triggered marketing campaign is a drip campaign.  Personalized emails generate 6 times more revenue than non-personalized emails, and this can have real benefits for your business.

The core of the effectiveness lies in the trigger. You can craft emails that are specific to what the lead is doing and what you hope them to do in the future. It’s kind of like a “choose your own adventure” book. Each action a lead takes brings them further down their own path, and that path may be slightly different than everyone else’s.

Segment for Success

In addition to sending emails on a trigger system, you can segment your email lists based on demographic factors like location, age, or sales history. This will help to increase sales and generate leads, as your audience will be receiving more relevant content. You can also use automation to ask your contact list what their content preferences are, to further target them with the right content.

A key point to remember is that automation is aimed at engagement. With automation, you are contacting prospects and customers when it is most relevant to them, with the goal of them completing an action so they will further engage with your company.

Types of Automated Emails

If you want to send automated emails but aren’t sure where to begin, here are some examples:

Welcome

A welcome email is one of the most basic forms of email automation. You may even have come to expect such an email once you’ve subscribed to an e-newsletter or opened an account. It’s a great first touch, and you can use it to express gratitude or include a special offer. Craft the email to encourage the recipient to take some further, immediate action. Include a “Shop Now” button, or a link to a compelling piece of content on your site.

Enhance the Purchase

While a simple “thanks for your purchase” on its own doesn’t hold much engagement value, you can make this type of email into something more. A key purpose of content marketing is to offer customers information and value. In a thank you email, you can include links to tutorials, guides, blog posts etc., which will help customers to get the most out of their purchase, drive traffic to your site, and position you as an authority in your field.

Feedback

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Business vector created by Freepik

Another effective way to step up a thank you email is to ask customers for feedback. Encourage recipients to answer one simple question about purchase experience, satisfaction, or what they hope to get from the purchase. An email like this will get recipients to engage and provide you with valuable info.

Complete a Sale

The internet is a prolific resource for shopping, but there is also a lot to distract us. I can think of many times I’ve shopped around or filled a web cart, but not completed a purchase. You probably have, too. Whatever your business, there will be visitors who come to your website and consider a purchase, but don’t follow through. These are very qualified leads, who may need just a little push to commit to a sale. Automation software can easily track these visitors and abandoned carts, and send emails to the individuals to bring them back to your site and continue on.

Renewals & Expirations

Retaining current customers is much easier than searching for new ones, and automation will make this process easier. Automation software keeps track of when renewal payments are required and subscriptions are due to expire. It will then send your customers an automatic reminder to make a payment.

Birthdays

People love special attention on their birthdays, and you can use this occasion to offer something extra to your customers. The software will track birthdays and send communications accordingly, giving a fun and personal touch to your emails.

Appointment Reminders

If your business schedules recurring appointments on a regular basis, email automation can remind customers when they are due for their next appointment. You won’t have to call each patient or customer individually, and you’ll be encouraging your current customer base to return to your business.

Events

Automation works great for event reminders. Once someone signs up to attend an event you’re hosting, you can periodically send them emails with date reminders, additional info they’ll want to know, and other events they may be interested in based on the one they’ve registered for.

Tips for Email Marketing Automation

Write Enticing Subject Lines

It’s as simple as this: if you don’t have a compelling subject line, your email will not be opened. Take the time to hit just the right note.

Have a Clear Call to Action

Automated emails are specific to the customer, and you need to be specific in what you’re asking them to do. Have one clear goal for each automated email. And make sure it is obvious what response you are looking for from the recipient.

Write Compelling & Concise Copy

Connect with your readers using persuasive and engaging copy, and keep it short. Most readers will scan for relevant info, so make use of bullets and bold text to get your message across.

Measure, Measure, Measure

cartoon magnifying glass analyzing email data
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Like any marketing strategy, automation can and should be tested. You can split test your email message content to see what is more effective. And it’s essential to analyze your data (like open and response rates). Marketing automation is meant to operate on its own. But it still requires adjustments on your end to ensure that your content is performing the way you want it to and is aligned with the marketing goals you have for your business.

Let Subscribers Manage Preferences

The worst thing you can do is offend or annoy your audience. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they want to see from you and how often they want to see it. Having them engage less is better than an unsubscribe. But, make sure every email includes a visible opt-out link.

Start Simple

There are many different ways to implement marketing automation, and many opportunities you can make use of. But if you’re just starting out, don’t try to do it all at once; rather, focus on only one or two automation campaigns in a comprehensive fashion.

Don’t Forget Your Purpose

Always remember you are looking to engage and nurture relationships, and ensure your emails are consistently doing so.

According to The Direct Marketing Association, segmented and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue, which is huge! While this is a great reason to use marketing automation, we recognize that it can be hard to get things started. Paw Print & Mail is fully equipped to help you develop an automated and multi-channel marketing strategy. Contact us to get started on your marketing campaign.

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5 Ways Marketing Automation Delivers Qualified Leads

Generate Qualified Leads with Marketing Automation

woman holding card reading wanted: more leads

What are your biggest challenges when it comes to marketing your business? According to HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound Report, 63% of marketers say their top marketing challenge is generating traffic and leads. Even if your company is doing a robust business now, it’s important to think ahead. Always have strategies in mind for how you will generate future leads and sales.

But not all leads or lead generation strategies are created equal. It may seem like the best way to increase business for your company is to send your message through the most channels. That way, it will be seen by the largest number of people possible. However, this method will spread your efforts too thin. It will likely end up costing you money rather than increasing sales.

The secret is to direct your digital and direct mail marketing so that you are specifically targeting fewer, more qualified leads. When you are able to more personally connect with potential customers that you know are or have been interested in your services (based on things like past purchase history, or tracking visitor activity on your website), you enhance the effectiveness of your communications.

Targeting qualified leads in a personal and timely manner is essential. But it can be hard to keep up a consistent strategy when you’re working on a case-by-case basis. Marketing automation allows you to generate qualified leads in an efficient and effective manner.

What is Marketing Automation?

At its most basic, marketing automation is the use of a software platform that replaces repetitive manual processes with automated solutions. It can be used across channels, including direct mail, email, and social media, to help to provide information to and maintain contact with leads and customers for a variety of marketing purposes.

When someone completes a certain action, such as opting in to an email list or searching your website, they will trigger the automation system, which will automatically send a message to them. Think of the last email newsletter you signed up for, or the last web purchase you made. You probably got a welcome or thank you email pretty fast, right? That was thanks to marketing automation. You can learn more about the specifics of marketing automation in this post.

Since you aren’t personally sending out these kinds of communications yourself, you create greater efficiency and have more time to focus on high-gain activities. Another major benefit is that you will be generating qualified leads to enhance your sales process.

Why Use Marketing Automation for Lead Generation?

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Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Say you’re in the apparel business, selling inexpensive, fun clothing designed for teenage girls and young women. You likely have a list of current and past customers, and maybe an email list. You want to send out a mailing advertising a sale. You’ll provide an exclusive coupon or sales offer to get customers in the door.

If your goal is to increase brand awareness and find new leads, you need to expand your mailing list. But how will you decide who to mail to? If you have the ability to mail to every household within a 5-mile radius of your store, it’s easier to do that than to manually sort through a gigantic mailing list looking for leads.

But it doesn’t make sense to send a campaign targeted at young women to every person in town. It isn’t relevant to many people and will be disregarded. Marketing automation software will solve this problem for you. It can easily sort through a mailing list, to only send your mailing to female recipients. You may also have enough information to further pare it down by age. And if you’re selling products for multiple demographics, it’s easy to segment mailing lists. You can then send two selective, targeted campaigns rather than one large generic one.

And what’s the purpose of targeting a more specific audience? Qualified leads increase sales.

Benefits of Marketing Automation for Qualified Lead Generation

1) Automate Your Marketing on Schedule

Time is truly of the essence in marketing. When a lead is looking for information or considering making a purchase, you must connect with them in a timely manner to retain their interest. You need to be able to contact your leads with information when it is most relevant to them. This is hard to do if you are personally sending out every communication.

With automation, you can schedule out communications so that when a lead completes a specific action, such as signing up to your email list or creating an account, they will automatically be sent an email. Even with a scheduled system, you can make your communications personal.  Leads won’t feel they are being contacted by a robot.

2) Know Your Prospects

Before you begin any kind of marketing campaign, you need to know your prospects. It’s helpful for you to dig deep and understand the demographics, needs, and wants of your prospective customers. That way, you can make your marketing message most effective at connecting and driving action.

However, this is just a first step. Once you know your message, you need specific individuals to communicate with.  Marketing automation brings it all together by helping you to identify these individuals. The software provides you with comprehensive information about prospects. Targeting becomes much easier when you know your prospect’s location, purchase history, and when they last purchased from you.

3) Segment Communications for Relevance

target leads with marketing automation
Background vector created by Makyzz – Freepik.com

Because automation can give you such in-depth information about leads, you can specifically identify where leads are in the sales process. Your leads will be at all different stages, so sending them all the same message doesn’t make sense.

When you send more personalized and relevant information, you increase the chance that your lead will respond. Automation software makes it easy to segment communications so that smaller groups of leads are receiving content tailored to them. You can easily craft a more compelling and specific message or call to action for each of the segmented groups you’re reaching out to.

More comprehensive automation software helps you generate leads through website visitors, traffic from pay-per-click advertising, email responses, and any other inbound marketing that you’re using. This will help increase your number of qualified leads while providing you with specific information, such as what pages they visited, to help personalize your messages to them. You’ll always be finding new leads who were interested specifically in a product or service provided by your company.

4) Deepen Relationships with Leads and Customers

When you have business coming in, you need to focus on fulfilling those commitments and working with those specific customers. But once a sale has been fulfilled for a customer, they don’t disappear from the sales cycle. And they shouldn’t vanish from your radar. Your best customers are going to be those that frequent your business. You need to nurture your customer base just as you would any other group of leads.

Marketing automation takes some of the stress out of this process by identifying when past leads and customers should be contacted again, and offering them content to enhance their experience with you. For instance, once a lead has made a purchase, automation can be used to send them information on how to get the most from the product they purchased. Down the road, automation can suggest similar products they may be interested in. This helps to deepen the customer’s relationship with you, especially as personalization is the preferred way for leads to receive communications from brands.

5) Save Money While Targeting Better Leads

Automation processes make sales more efficient. Rather than spending money across channels on a wide reaching but low target message, you’re spending less and sending out fewer communications. Because these marketing messages are highly targeted and sent to a specific audience, you are reaching out to leads that are better qualified to make a purchase, and are sure to see results.

At Paw Print & Mail, our marketing automation services are capable of effectively using cross-channel touches, like email and direct mail, together in harmony to put your message in front of your customers and prospects in an orchestrated fashion. To learn more about the specifics of marketing automation and how it can generate leads for your company or organization, contact Paw Print today.

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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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5 Steps to Writing Compelling Web Copy

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Infographic vector created by Freepik

When you write something good, you feel proud. You want to share it with the world, and you hope everyone will read it.

In a business environment, compelling copy is critical, as is a well-built website. When you combine the two, you create an effective lead generation tool that will increase your company’s sales.

But how much of your copy is actually being read? According to Hinge Marketing, visitors only read an average of 28% of the words on a web page.

The good news is, this is an average, and won’t be true for every website. While some websites aren’t user-friendly, your site doesn’t have to be one of them. You can increase the percentage of words read on your site, generate more traffic, and drive more sales using these 5 tips.

1) Know your SEO

Driving traffic to your web page is the first step, and it’s an important one. In order for this to happen you’ll want to know a bit about search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO involves implementing strategies on your website so that it will appear higher up on a list of search results. It’s based on how search engines like Google use words on a web page to locate the content you’re searching for.

Some places to implement SEO are:

  • Title Tag: Text that appears in the tab when a page is open in a web browser.
  • Meta Title: This is the clickable link that appears in a search result.
  • Meta Description: Text that appears under the meta title in a web search.
  • Page headlines
  • Keywords sprinkled throughout the page

Check out this site for some helpful tips to better understand SEO.

You can also use software like Google Analytics to track the number of visitors to your site. Analytics can tell you what pages visitors are looking at, what links they are clicking on, and how long they are spending on your web page. And you can test out different title tags, headlines, etc. to see if it affects the traffic being driven to your page.

2) Concise Content Converts

Next time you’re on a webpage, consider how you’re reading it. It’s highly likely that you’re skimming the content, looking for key words and important points.

The reality is, most web users skim. They are generally not going to read dense paragraphs of text, as it is time consuming and they are eager to get at the facts.

The layout of your page is key for ensuring the content is read. Too many words and not enough spacing will give you low read and response rates.

Strong copy relies on brevity. Make your web copy concise, removing unnecessary words and breaking it up into short paragraphs. Start with a solid lead, the most compelling and interesting sentence, so that readers will want to continue down the rest of the page.

You should use headings and bullet points to make it easy for visitors to find the information they’re looking for as they’re skimming. And present key terms you know your audience is looking for in bold so they will stand out.

Also include links to other pages on your site that offer in-depth information. While you help grab a visitor’s attention with short copy, they will eventually want more information about a product or service you’re offering. Links will bring them directly to what they want to know. External links are also helpful, as they can bring credibility to your claims.

3) Speak to the “Experience”

Copywriting is all about selling an experience, and that’s critical to your web copy, too. You may be tempted to write copy that focuses on the intricacies of your company and its products/services, because it’s what you’re dealing with every day. However, your website should have an outward focus rather than an inward focus.

Why? Web users take between 10 and 20 seconds to decide whether or not to stay on a web page. That means you have to communicate value to them fast. Your prospect is searching for an answer to the question, “how will this site help me?” If they’re not finding answers right away, they’re going to look to another website, and another company, to solve their problem.

Make your copy about the prospect and the experience they are going to get from your product or service. Simply listing the features offered is not going to keep the reader’s attention in the same way as showing the value the product offers, how it will give the prospect what they want.

This is a great place to include a link to a separate page with more details about the features and benefits of the product. Once you’ve emotionally hooked the reader with your initial copy, they’ll be looking for more information to rationalize why your product is a good buy.

4) Know Your Audience

Any copy you write needs to be understood by your audience. Your website is no exception. When you know your prospects and can visualize who will be visiting your website, you can write web content with that demographic in mind. What words are they using? What ideas/concepts are important to them? And why are they searching for your product or service?

Most businesses use internal, industry-specific language to refer to their products and processes on a regular basis. It may be easy for you to talk and write about your company this way. But technical terms mean little to your audience. Think about the search terms your prospects will use to find your page.  Incorporate that kind of language into your copy, rather than writing jargon-filled sentences that are likely to confuse and lose visitors.

You also connect with your audience better when you write like you talk. While keywords are an essential piece of driving traffic to your site, overusing them or using them in a manner that reads awkwardly will make prospects stop reading.

5) Always Include a Call to Action

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While some of your web pages, like blog posts or an About Us section, are meant to inform, your website’s main function is to generate leads and sales. Every page that includes a product or service you are selling should include a call to action (CTA). You don’t want your prospects to read your web page passively. Instead, you want copy that intrigues them and language that compels them to take action and make a purchase.

You should also make it easy for the prospect to take the desired action. Create a button in a contrasting color with text like “Order Now” or “Learn More.” You can make the CTA more compelling by adding value—try “Order Now to save 20%” or “Get Your Sample in 24 Hours.” A CTA becomes stronger when your webpage includes testimonials and reviews, guarantees, and/or generates a sense of urgency (buy now or miss out!)

Well-written copy is essential for your website, but it’s challenging to find the time to give writing the attention it deserves. Paw Print & Mail offers professional copywriting services, so contact us when you’re ready to give your writing a boost.

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4 Essential Copy Tips for Connecting with Prospects

businesswoman holding "wanted: more leads" cardLead generation is an important piece of marketing any business. If you’re reading this blog, cultivating leads is probably a topic that’s on your mind.

Writing compelling copy is essential for lead generation. The right copy with the right message behind it will give your marketing campaigns a significant edge over your competition.

When you’re selling a product, you may think that hyping up the product and describing all of its desirable features is the best way to market it. This information certainly has a place. But when you adopt this approach, you may be surprised that sales aren’t coming in the way you thought they would.

Why might this be happening? The most important factor in copywriting is not you, your business, or your product—it’s the prospect. If you want your prospects to engage with you, you must have a deep understanding of who they are and what matters most to them, and make that information critical to your copywriting process.

Here are 4 key tips for ensuring your copy will make the right connection with prospects.

1. Get to Know Your Prospect

Cartoon searching for prospects
Background vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

One of the most important things to remember is that what is right for one prospect or product is not right for another. Your copy may be well-written and your message effective for a certain audience. But if it’s not the audience your product is meant for, your product is not going to sell.

That’s why it truly pays to take the time to identify and understand your prospect. Key demographics like age, gender, average income, and location are important. But for a truly effective sales message, these categories aren’t enough. You’ll also want to ask yourself, what are my prospect’s interests and worries? And go even deeper: what are their core beliefs and desires?

Develop a system or form that you can use to chart out information about your prospect, from the most basic to the most personal. When you get to the core of what really matters to your prospect, you can better target your message. And, you will be making a deeper connection with your audience, leading to increased sales.

How do you find information about your prospect? While you may have a basic idea of who is purchasing from you, there are a few resources you can use to help get to the core of who your prospect is and what matters to them:

  • Read customer reviews, testimonials, and surveys
  • Get to know the product well and test it out yourself
  • Look at past promotions to see what was and was not effective
  • Talk to the individuals who developed the product—why did they create it?

Remember that each product you sell may have a different audience. Or, you may have multiple audience segments for just one of your products or services. Personalization techniques allow you to segment your audience, communicating a unique message to each group.

2. Create an Emotional Connection with Your Prospects

Think about a time when you went into a store to make a purchase. Maybe you encountered a pushy salesperson, who kept up a constant spiel of details about the product you were looking at, pressuring you to buy.

How did that make you feel? Did you just want to walk out of the store?

If you did, you’ve experienced a feeling many consumers have: prospects don’t like the idea of being sold.

So, how are you going to get any sales? You need to create an emotional connection with your prospects. Your product or service may have great features. Yet the features alone are not compelling enough to a prospect.

Instead, consider the benefits. This is where knowing the struggles and desires of your prospects will be extremely helpful. If you can show how your product provides a benefit you know your audience is looking for, or how it will help them to achieve a goal or solve a problem, you will create a deeper connection with them.

Here’s an example. Say you’re writing copy about a new car model you are selling. Rather than structuring your message around the materials or technical features, you can focus on the notion of safety. Maybe your car is a sedan or SUV you plan to market to families, who are rightly concerned about getting everyone safely from one place to another. If you know your prospect, you’ll know that safety, comfort, and being good parents are important ideas for them. You can then market your product accordingly.

3. Story + Transition = Sales

One of the best ways to bring emotion to your marketing copy is by telling a story. Stories are an engaging way to show the benefits of your product or service.

An effective story could run like this: start in the middle of the story, describing an instance of a fear or desire you know your prospects have experienced to draw them in. Then, go on to show how your product will benefit the prospect by solving the fear or allowing them to achieve the desire.

You want the prospect to see themselves in the story. Use the story to bring to life the benefits your prospects want. Then you can demonstrate how purchasing your product will directly lead to those benefits.

Something to keep in mind when writing copy or a story is to market a transition. As a part of defining your prospect, you’ll want to think about where they are now as well as where they want to be.

We can use the example of the car to illustrate this. The prospect may be anxious about driving their current car because they feel it isn’t safe enough to protect their family in an accident. Where they want to be, and where your story can show them ending up, is in a place where they are able to relax and enjoy driving again because they know they’ve chosen the best car for their family to travel safely.

You want your copy to illustrate this transition is possible and will bring the desired benefits—but only if the prospect purchases your product.

4. Speak to Your Prospect

Cartoon of two businessmen in conversation
Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Language is an essential piece of copywriting. Even a compelling, emotional story will not be successful if you don’t write in the language of the prospect.

Formal and technical writing is not your friend here. This style certainly has its place, but marketing copy works best when you write the way you talk. It requires you to use words and phrases your prospects regularly use, written in a conversational, one-on-one tone.

In general, copy should be made up of short sentences and commonly used words, and free of jargon. The individuals who developed your product or service probably speak about it in technical terms, which may have little to no meaning for your prospects. It may seem like using these kinds of technical words will give your prospects the impression that your product is well-developed or backed by science and technology. However, there is a greater chance you’ll end up confusing them.

Certain words will have certain meaning for certain groups, so, again, you want to be specific about who you’re marketing to. In a B2B context you may have more flexibility with technical terms that are commonly used in the industry of your audience, so some jargon may be appropriate.

Copywriting is an essential piece of the marketing process. We know it can be hard to find the time to write copy that hits just the right note with your prospects. At Paw Print & Mail, we have the copywriting (and content writing) experience to help you reach your audience, so contact us today to get started on your next marketing campaign.

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Copywriting vs. Content Writing

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Think about the last ad you saw, watched, or heard. Maybe it was a radio jingle that’s now stuck in your head. It’s catchy, right? And it was likely written by a copywriter.

Often the words “copywriting” and “content writing” are used interchangeably. But they’re actually quite different approaches to marketing, requiring different techniques to be successful. Though they function differently, copywriting and content writing ultimately have the same end goal: to generate leads that convert into sales. And both are essential tools of a well-rounded and successful marketing strategy.

So, what’s the difference? How can you make use of both to jumpstart your marketing?

What is Copywriting?

Advertisements are everywhere in our lives. We see them in print and on the web, hear them on the radio, and watch them on TV. Experts estimate that each of us is exposed to an average of 5,000 marketing messages per day.

Of course, our minds don’t register all of these messages, though many slip through our subconscious. We may only consciously register a handful of the ads that we see. And it may take multiple impressions before an ad sticks in our mind.

With so much competition out there, it’s critical that your message stands out and leaves an impression. That’s why good copy is so important. Think about slogans like Nike’s “Just Do It” or “I’m Lovin’ It” from McDonald’s. Hearing these phrases triggers an immediate association with the brand, and they have inspired brand loyalty.

These slogans are an example of good copywriting, and illustrate the basic idea of what copywriting is: short-form content written with the intent to drive sales. We can define copywriting as writing meant to persuade the reader to take an action, typically to purchase a product or service.

Copywriting appears on any kind of advertising content you can think of, including a direct mail piece, a website landing page, a digital or print advertisement, and a sales email. All these pieces function as channels to increase company sales. While copywriting is not branding, it works to fuse your products/services and your company personality together to create a brand identity.

It’s important to be concise with copy. You have a limited amount of time to gain someone’s attention. Your copy must be short enough to be consumed in one glance (think “Just Do It”) or compelling enough that readers will be intrigued and eager to read more. You can think of copywriting as a three-step process:

  1. Create an emotional connection with your prospects by identifying a major pain point or desire
  2. Cultivate need by showing that escaping pain or achieving desire is possible for the prospect
  3. And position your product/service as the solution (with a call to action)

What is Content Writing?

Content writing is written to inform. It should also be engaging, if not entertaining, and it must align with your brand’s personality and voice. Though it still functions to increase sales, content writing does so in a less blatant way than copywriting.

Offer your customers informational content to help them solve problems in your area of expertise. This could be in the form of a blog, video, ebook, or whitepaper. Customers will often do a great amount of research before committing to a purchase. If you position yourself as an expert in your field, it will attract more sales in the long term. You can provide your customers with answers to questions before they even have to ask.

Through consuming your content over time, you will build trust with your audience, eventually converting them to customers. Content writing leads to sales by information and examples, rather than a snappy sales pitch. Since content writing doesn’t have to be as concise as copywriting, you can expand upon your topic and really show your knowledge.

It also has the added step of requiring search engine optimization (SEO). Keep key words and SEO in mind when writing to ensure that your content is found on the web. Web searchers can ultimately become clients—but only if they can find your content. Content writing pieces are also the type of marketing content your customers will share, often on social media.

What Can Content and Copywriting Do for You?

Here’s how to think of the difference between copywriting and content writing, using the example of Nike. Through copywriting we can learn that Nike is a fitness apparel company focused on being trendy and active, as well as advocating customers to achieve their fitness goals. This is their brand. With their content writing, Nike can establish themselves as qualified activewear providers by creating content to inform their audience on topics related to fitness, athletic footwear, and health/wellness goals.

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Business vector created by Dooder – Freepik.com

Want even more of a comparison? Check out this conversation between a professional copywriter and a content marketer.

The important thing is that neither copywriting nor content marketing works very well without the other. Including both copywriting and content writing in your marketing strategy is critical for development of a well-rounded marketing plan. Businesses need a concise sales pitch to drive sales and increase brand awareness. And long-form content is becoming more and more crucial to development of a brand’s story and credibility.

Both types of writing offer value to the customer, whether by showing them ways you can solve their problems or by providing them with high-quality information that they’ll find useful. They can be used in conjunction to turn leads into return customers and ambassadors for your brand.

Though each type of writing requires a different thought process, both must be well-written, and require the writer to be in the mindset of the audience. The prospect is the most important person in the copywriting process. You have to speak to them in ways they can understand and relate to. If you aren’t reaching your prospective audience, your marketing efforts will be for naught.

While writing is an essential piece of the marketing process, we know it’s challenging to find time to give your written content the attention it deserves. At Paw Print & Mail, we offer copywriting and content writing services that will help enhance your marketing strategy. Contact us today to get started on your next marketing project.

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Reaching the Elusive Millennial

Who Are Millennials?

What goes through your mind when you hear the term “millennial”? It’s a word that seems to be everywhere these days. But who are millennials? What makes them tick and drives their decisions? And how can you communicate with them?

group of young millennial people
Created by Javi_indy – Freepik.com

Understanding what a millennial is and how exactly you can reach them is an elusive concept. It’s one that is often frustrating to marketers who are trying to connect with this generation. You may have experienced this yourself. If so, I have both good and bad news for you. Since they are a very diverse group, no single marketing strategy is going to allow you to reach every millennial.

But the good news is, there are several approaches proven to resonate with millennials. And they’re not as hard to grasp as you may think.

Watch this video to get a clearer idea of who millennials are and what’s important to them:

Millennials have a different world-view, and need to be marketed to differently. They are a demographic that, in sheer numbers alone, is more populous than the baby boomers. This gives the millennial generation significant purchasing and decision-making power, a power that continues to grow annually.

Since millennials currently make up 25% of the U.S. population and will compose half of the American workforce by 2020, it’s important that marketers understand the best way to reach this demographic. Though they cannot be defined by income, career choice, or marital status, there are a few generalities that can be made:

  • An individual born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s is a millennial.
  • As the first generation to grow up in the online era, they are used to digital communications and having more choices than previous generations.
  • Millennials are the most educated generation, though they also have more student debt.
  • Meaning, experiences, and causes are all important topics/ideas for them.

So, how can you successfully market to millennials?

1. Enhance Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Millennials are used to receiving information from many channels. They tend to be multitaskers, plugged in across devices and sharing content across media. Consistency across platforms is key for engaging millennial consumers with your marketing. Having a constant message and representation of your brand helps them to connect with your company.

Since so many millennials are accessing content on smartphones and tablets, you need to adopt a multi-channel strategy focused on mobile optimization. That may mean reworking your website into a responsive template. This will make it accessible and easily readable across devices of any screen size.

Millennials spend 48% more time watching video than the average online user. And 60% of them upload their own video, images, and blog content to the web. According to Hubspot, millennials are 247% more likely to be influenced by digital resources like blogs and social networking sites than previous generations.

That’s huge! And, it means that connecting with millennials requires you to develop a social strategy. Find the social media sites that work best for you and make them a part of your daily marketing plan. Adding a YouTube account or creating your own video content for Facebook or your website can also be effective. Millennials want to see helpful, informative content that they can engage with. Make sure your digital strategy offers them more than just what you’re trying to sell.

2. Embrace User Generated Content

The Baby Boomer generation relied on traditional forms of advertising, like radio and television ads. Marketers could expect that running an ad on TV would lead to many new sales and customers. Millennials, however, are much less likely to make a purchase decision from such an ad. What do they like? Brand interaction.

User generated content is one of the top ways that millennials make purchase decisions. They want to read honest reviews from customers who have purchased a company’s products or utilized their services. A study by Bazaarvoice found that 84% of millennials are influenced by user generated content when making purchase decisions. And 73% believe it is important to read others’ opinions before making a purchase.

Traditional ads are all about getting consumers to pay attention. Utilizing user generated content in your business is about building trust, which is high on the list of what millennials want from businesses. They like to do business with brands that are authentic and human. And they want to be able to interact and have a conversation with those companies.

What does this mean for you? Make it as easy as possible for public discussions about your brand to happen. Whether it’s on your website, a blog page, or your social media sites, get customers talking about your brand.

Facebook gives you the option of allowing reviews on your page, and this can be a great place to showcase what people are saying about your business. They might not always have good things to say. But a public forum is a place where you can show your willingness to resolve issues and take customer suggestions. Potential customers will see this, and it will help you to appear more human in their eyes.

Millenial giving 5 star review
Business image created by Photoroyalty – Freepik.com

Customers that love your brand will want to say so. They will become brand ambassadors by talking to their friends and family about their experience. This group is more likely to respond to a peer review than a pop-up ad. You can also invest in influencer marketing, essentially building relationships with individuals that have influence over your customer base and can reach them through mediums like social media, in ways that your brand may not be able to.

Try giving customers a chance to bring their personality to your brand and be a part of brand decisions. For instance, Lays has given customers the ability to choose the next chip flavor. Coca-Cola ran a campaign asking fans to get creative and interpret what the brand means to them in an artistic medium of their choice.

3. Personalize Direct Mail for Millennials

Millennials are used to digital marketing channels, and they rely heavily on what their community has to say about a brand. However, this does not mean that online methods are the only way to reach your millennial audience. US Presort, a direct marketing company based in New York City, conducted a surprising study about millennials and direct mail. Check out some results:

  • 84% of millennials regularly read through their mail, and 64% would rather find useful information in the mail than from an email.
  • 50% of millennials ignore digital ads, while only 15% ignore direct mail.
  • 90% of people between 25 and 34 believe direct mail is reliable.
  • 77% pay attention to advertising through direct mail, and over half have made a purchase from a direct mail offer.

Those are some pretty compelling statistics in favor of using direct mail to market to millennials. As we learned above, millennials like to hear personal stories when considering a brand. One of the reasons direct mail is so popular is that it can be extremely personalized based on categories like purchase history, interests, and geographic region. Printing technology is also considerably advanced. You can add to the tactile benefit of direct mail by incorporating creative folds, colors, and textures that will make your mail memorable.

4. Increase Millennial Engagement & Market an Experience

Millennials feel trust when a brand’s values align with their own. Those values often include a desire to support a cause or charitable mission. Nearly half of millennials are more willing to purchase from a company if that company supports a cause, and 37% will pay more for a product or service if it will help a cause they believe in. Philanthropy adds to the human side of your brand that is so important for millennials. If your business supports a cause, make sure people know about it.

Being able to give back while conducting business with your company changes the brand experience. For millennials, experience carries more weight than a physical purchase. 78% of millennials prefer spending money on experiences rather than purchasing an item. Over half are spending more on events and experiences now than they ever have.

This may seem hard to work with if you’re in the business of selling a product. But it’s all about how you market it. Millennials are very receptive to storytelling in advertisements, and you can use that to your advantage. If you sell tents, for instance, make your ad about the experience of camping, how it allows you to relax, have fun, and connect with friends and family, rather than focusing on the physical and monetary benefits of the product.

You can also hold an event to get prospective customers more excited about the buying process. Attending the event heightens the experience of shopping, It’s also a great opportunity for millennials to connect to the personality and human face of your business.

We recognize that crafting a marketing plan can be a challenge. Contact Paw Print & Mail and let us help you find the right strategy to market your business to millennials, or any demographic you are trying to reach.

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Make Your Marketing Powerful With Humor

Quick! Stop what you’re doing and watch this video!

Did it make you laugh? Every time I see this commercial, it makes me smile.

It’s probably true that all of us can use a good laugh. Humor is a big component of what makes many advertisements successful. It can strongly affect the way we connect with and respond to marketing messages.

A key concept of marketing today is to not just provide your customers with products or services, but to also serve as a knowledgeable source of information about anything and everything related to what your company does. When you provide customers with helpful info, it builds trust in your relationship with them and gives you greater credibility.

That seems great, right? So much so that you probably want to focus the bulk of your content development efforts on generating information that will be the most useful to readers and help them to best achieve whatever it is that they are trying to achieve with your guidance.

But helpful information isn’t the only way you can build trust in your brand. Humor is an extremely effective piece of content marketing. And if you aren’t making use of it, you should be.

3 Key Benefits of Humorous Marketing Content

Think of the person you know who’s most likely to be the class clown. Is it sometimes hard to take them seriously? Probably. One of the arguments against using humor in marketing is that it can cause you to lose credibility and seriousness in the eyes of your audience. If you lose those, your brand is in bad shape.

two people laughing and drinking wine
People image created by Freepik

But guess what? This isn’t true, at least most of the time. Humor is not just a laugh as we skim through funny cat videos. Rather, humor creates a human connection.

Humor is a natural part of conversation. It has an impact on our emotions, bodies, and brains. When you use humor in your marketing, it gives your business a human side. You’re not just a faceless source of information. You’re a real person who understands the emotions and problems of your customers and can help to solve them.

Because humor is so impactful, it has significant influential power. We watch funny videos of cats or ridiculous comedy movies because they are an emotional distraction, helping us to reduce stress. Humor inspires a feel-good reaction. When you can make your customers laugh, it creates a connection between you and them. If you can make your audience feel less stressed, you are giving them the impression that your business can help to relieve their stress in relation to whatever services your company offers. You create a bond with them that makes your business more relatable.

Humor is also memorable and enhances learning. A study by Chegg, a textbook rental service, found that nearly 80% of college students remember ads that make them laugh. The basic purpose of an advertisement is to tell your audience who you are and what you do, while inspiring them to purchase your products or services. If your ad is memorable, it will stick in people’s minds. Though their brain is remembering the amusement they felt from viewing your ad, they will also remember what you’re offering. And they’ll be more likely to go to you for their future needs.

Think about the above Volkswagen video, or the last piece of funny content you saw. After you laughed at it, what did you want to do? Since humor is such a key part of our conversations, it’s likely that you wanted to share the laughs with someone.

Humor has been cited as the key reason why content goes viral. When your audience shares your content, they are increasing your brand awareness as well as the positive emotions they associate with your business. Humor can also catch people off guard, lowering their defenses and making them more receptive to your message.

So, to recap—3 benefits of humor are:

  1. It creates a human connection between you and your audience.
  2. Humor makes your advertisements and content more memorable.
  3. Funny content is more likely to be shared, leading to greater brand awareness.

Your Sense of Humor = Your Brand

There are also three reasons why marketers are afraid to make humor a part of their content development strategy:

  1. That fear of not being taken seriously
  2. The humor could fall flat, and no one will find it funny
  3. Humor can be offensive

While these are all valid concerns, instead of focusing on if you should use humor, consider how you will use it. Humor is a spectrum. No single tone or joke is going to be appropriate for all businesses and audiences. This is where you need to know your brand—the level of humor you use should align with your brand values. If you make use of humor that is visible and shocking but ultimately offensive to your audience, you are more likely to lose customers than to gain them.

Your demographic is key to determining what kind of humor fits your business. Funny content is more likely to be shared, but if you are sacrificing your reputation to reach a larger audience, you’re alienating the customers that feel loyalty to your brand.

So, how can you be funny?

Keep it Casual

You can adopt conversational humor by sprinkling it into your content in small doses. Maybe you use some irony or exaggeration in your blog post, or add a funny component to your next advertisement. I like this ad from Amazon:

Amazon has become a popular online retailer for a wide demographic. This ad is heartwarming and made me smile. And, you don’t lose sight of the ad’s message, which is the ease and speed of ordering from Amazon. At the same time, Amazon comes across as a fun company to do business with.

Just for Fun

Separate your more serious content with posts created just for laughs. Share a meme or video with the sole intent of putting a smile on your customer’s faces. You can relate them to your brand in some way, or they can be totally random.

Rock the Boat

Some brands have the flexibility to be edgy in their marketing, while others need to stick to tamer content. If you feel confident your audience would respond favorably to shocking content, go for it. Create an ad campaign that makes you stand out from competitors in your industry, and will get your audience talking.

The most important thing to remember with humor is to keep it simple. If your audience has to think too much about what you’re saying, they won’t be laughing, and you’ll lose the chance to make that powerful connection. But if you can get it right, a touch of humor could be just what your business needs to increase marketing success and develop a stronger relationship with your audience.

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