If you've embraced online marketing, your hopes for your marketing efforts are probably straightforward: tangible evidence that the money and time you've spent are producing a significant return on investment. Figuring out how to realize those results in the world of online marketing, though, is anything but simple.
Too often, businesses become so focused on growing revenues, building lists, and increasing click-throughs that they forget to develop the personalities of their brands. They become, in a word, boring. Without a palpable life force behind their marketing materials, they're unable to engage users, and all the indicators of marketing success plunge off a cliff.
So how can you keep your marketing materials from becoming the online equivalent of the guy who won't stop talking about the dream he had last night?
Start by taking these steps to banish the boring from your marketing content and keep your brand alive:
Develop a strategic distribution plan
Want your list to open more of the emails you send? Then prove that your emails are worth opening. Do this by contacting them only when you actually have something to say -- and only when what you have to say matters to the people you're contacting.
Think of it this way: You don't write an email to your entire personal address book when you want to pass on a great article or image -- you send it to the contacts for whom it's most relevant. Treat relationships with your marketing list the same way and make contact only when you can offer them real value.
Master your unique voice
If your blog posts or landing pages read like instruction manuals, there's a good chance your readers aren't engaged. But in the era of social online marketing, engagement is key to building loyalty and expanding your presence. When people like something, they share it with their network.
Your brand's unique voice should not only reflect the personality of your business, but it should also speak to your intended market.
Include a strong call to action
Even if you've banished boringness and built a devoted following, you can't expect your list to read your mind. In order to sell, you must call your readers to buy. That's not to say that you need a flashing red button that screams, "BUY THIS NOW," but you do need to indicate clearly to your readers what action they should take.
Vary content lengths
It's easy to stick to a formula for writing blog posts or emails, but your readers will likely tune out if they see a pattern repeated over and over. Write content of varying lengths. Include sentence fragments in some of your copy. Use questions to spice things up.
From one marketing piece to the next, only your voice should remain unchanged. Think again to your personal emails -- you don't write messages of uniform length every time you communicate with your friends, and you shouldn't stick to a single formula when you communicate with your list.
Save longer messages for first-time announcements, and rely on shorter missives for second or third offers, reminders, and updates.
Meet their social needs
Once you've captured your audience's attention, keep it by demonstrating how your product or service solves a problem or meets an unmet need. Apple does a great job of this. Instead of listing the amazing features its latest gadget includes, Apple commercials show how much better life is when you can purchase a song on your computer, create a playlist on your iPod, share it with your Facebook friends, and listen to it on your phone -- without plugging anything in or leaving your couch.
These ads sell a lifestyle -- and people camp out overnight to buy it.
Just say no to boring copy
Above all, be different. Be yourself. Tell a story. Keep your reader interested. Move your audience to take action. When you do, you'll find that your online marketing efforts yield much more lucrative results.
Michelle Salater is the CEO of Sumèr LLC.
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"Silhouette of friends jumping" image via Shutterstock.