A way to think about modern CRM

What should you be expecting from your customer relationship management programs these days? Contributor Jose Cebrian explains how CRM has changed and how it hasn’t.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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Getting Started with Automated Email Marketing

Email marketing is one of those pivotal, game-changing facets of online marketing that nearly every serious marketer needs to not only know how to do — but do successfully. As you’ve learned to grow your business, you no doubt have come across email marketing jargon such as segments and drip feeds.

But what does it all mean, and how does it all come together to deliver the kind of results that matter to your bottom line? Better yet, how can you automate it so that every email practically sells itself? Let’s take a closer look:

What Is Automated Email Marketing?

Just as the name implies, automated email marketing is sending out emails to your customers and prospects automatically, based on a schedule, or triggers, you define.

It sounds simple, right? And for the most part, it is. But just like with any other online marketing skill, the more time you spend learning and testing and improving your email marketing campaigns, the more you learn. And the more you learn, the better you can apply those skills to further improve and grow your campaigns. If the idea of consistent, impactful marketing growth sets your heart aflutter – you’re going to love automated email marketing.

But before we delve into that, it’s worth noting what automated email marketing is not:

Despite the fact that they have a lot in common, automated email marketing does not refer to the emails your customers get when they place an order. These are mainly transactional emails that are sent out automatically, like “thank you for your order” and “your product has shipped”. And while these can be used to market your business further — as in, “now take 20% off on your next order”, their primary goal is to notify, not engage, subscribers.

Why Bother with Email At All?

Believe it or not, this is a common question I receive when helping people set up their automated email marketing campaigns. Compared to newer technologies like mobile text alerts, Facebook ads, retargeting and native advertising, email just seems…well, old.

But despite the fact that email has been around for over 40 years (feeling old yet?), it’s still one of the best lead generation channels available:

email marketing channelImage Source

So with that in mind, how can you get started with a system like this that not only sends relevant, engaging emails to your customers but also does it automatically? First, it’s worth knowing what types of automated emails you can send. These emails generally fall into two camps:

  1. Event-based trigger emails and
  2. Drip-feed email content

They can be used independently or together depending on your end goals. For example, you could start with an event-based trigger email that then enrolls the customer in a drip feed – delivering content to them by email at set intervals you define.

Setting Up Trigger Emails

Trigger emails are just what they sound like — emails that are triggered based on your subscribers’ behavior (or lack of it). These are the most common types of automated emails, since they remove a lot of the tedious creation and sending of everyday messages. Trigger emails generally include:

  • Welcome emails / onboarding / getting started with your product or service
  • Abandoned cart emails
  • Refer-a-friend (you bought something, now tell others for a coupon or other special)
  • Milestone emails (birthdays, join dates, specific milestones)

Modcloth sends out an automated 6 month anniversary email with a coupon code(Image Source)

You can also set up automated emails to be triggered based on actions that the customer takes. This is known as behavioral email marketing and can encompass all the points above and many more, including rewards emails, bonus emails (like free trial extensions) and much more.

Setting Up Drip-Feed Emails

Drip-feed emails — which deliver sequential messages based on a timeframe you specify, can also be a great source of extra revenue and leads if you do them right. Drip-feed emails are most commonly used to deliver things to subscribers that have signed up for a free report — to get them to take the next step in your funnel.

But that only scratches the surface of the potential that drip-feed emails have. Here’s an example from InsightSquared which was sent to a somewhat cold lead prospect list, inviting them to book a meeting with the company:

Image Source

InsightSquared Account executive Dylan Rushe clarifies the drip-feed email set-up above:

“We were working through this huge list from a sales-specific event. It wasn’t a great list; everyone on it was pretty cold,” says Rushe. “So I created a 3-email drip […]. The initial email asked if the person was free for lunch Wednesday, with a GIF of the InsightSquared dashboard. This email was sent on a Sunday. The second email was automated to send on Tuesday to anyone who did not reply; it asked “are we still on for tomorrow?” If they didn’t respond, they received a third email on Thursday, saying “sorry that yesterday didn’t work out, happy to reschedule.”

This unusual type of approach – especially the “Are we still on for tomorrow?” creates a heightened interest (or even panic!) – especially if the recipient doesn’t have anything marked on their calendar. And then, they click — so you’d better have something click-worthy waiting for them.

Taking the Next Steps with Automated Email Marketing

It’s not enough just to know the types of emails you can send, or even brainstorm ideas about possible campaigns. What matters is getting the basics down so that you can have a solid foundation to build upon. With that in mind, you can create your first automated email marketing campaign by following these tips:

Segment Your Subscribers

Oftentimes, marketers start their email marketing campaigns by blasting every subscriber on their list with the same message. But just because you can do this, doesn’t mean you should. Fortunately, every serious email marketing platform offers segmentation options that let you divide your subscribers based on specific criteria which make them more likely to act on your personalized emails, including:

  • Location
  • Industry
  • Product or service purchased / not purchased
  • How they learned about you (for example, if they signed up through a Facebook contest or from your website)

By segmenting your subscribers based on actions they took or other identifying elements, you’ll greatly increase the odds that they’ll click through and take the action you want them to take.

Personalize Your Messages

It should go without saying, but blasting a message out to anyone and everyone with no real personalization is a sure-fire way to end up in your subscriber’s circular file (or get tons of unsubscribe notifications).

Personalizing your messages, even with simple things such as their name, location or the product(s) they were looking at or have bought, can go a long way toward establishing rapport and fostering a relationship.

Connect Your Emails to Customized Landing Pages

Too often, many marketers concentrate on getting the perfect email ready, only to send readers to a lackluster landing page. Make sure to tailor your landing page to your email campaign and create as much of a seamless transition between them as possible (so your email looks like it would match your landing page in terms of design, content, and call-to-action). This helps your readers feel much more comfortable about clicking, and helps create greater familiarity between your brand and products.

Split Test Your Emails

Many times, marketers reserve split testing for things like their landing pages or calls to action. But what about emails? Any platform you choose should give you the ability to A/B test your emails to determine which one generates the greatest number of clicks and conversions from your target audience.

Analyze Your Results

When split testing your email messages, you’ll want to take the time to properly analyze and look for certain KPIs (key performance indicators) that let you know if the email was successful, or what you can do better next time. These include:

  • Email delivery rate – What percentage of the messages you sent actually arrived at your users’ inbox? A low delivery rate means that your server could be blacklisted and you’ll need to contact your web host or ISP to determine why.
  • View rate – Of the emails that were successfully delivered, how many of them were viewed by recipients? Most email programs have a “preview pane” that allows their users to filter out and delete unwanted messages. Did yours pass the “view” test?
  • Open rate – Of the users who received and previewed your email, how many actually opened it? This is one of the more important indicators, where your subject line typically does all the heavy lifting.
  • Click-through rate – Of the users who received, previewed and opened your emails, how many of them clicked your call-to-action? A high click-through rate means that your users found your email enticing and interesting enough to click. This is where the email part of your marketing steps back and puts your landing page squarely in the spotlight.
  • Conversion rate – Of the users who received, previewed, opened and clicked your email’s call-to-action, how many of them ultimately took the action you wanted? This can be a sale, but it doesn’t have to be. It could be signing up for a webinar, requesting a free estimate, or any other measurable action that you want your subscribers to take.

Choosing the Right Platform

Now that you have a better handle on not only how to get started with email marketing automation and what to look for, how do you choose a solid, reliable platform to help you do it all? There are a wide range of email automation services out there, each with their own pros and cons.

Kissmetrics Campaigns takes the behavior-based analytics that Kissmetrics is famous for, and lets you build gorgeous, automated emails with it, letting you segment, trigger, split test and analyze your marketing messages to see what’s working, and improve what isn’t. Check out the video below to learn more about Kissmetrics campaigns and start making your emails work harder for you:

About the Author: Sherice Jacob helps business owners improve website design and increase conversion rates through compelling copywriting, user-friendly design and smart analytics analysis. Learn more at iElectrify.com and download your free web copy tune-up and conversion checklist today!


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The Non-Perfectionist’s Guide to Noteworthy Blogging for Your Business

"You can care about quality and produce meaningful work without driving yourself crazy." – Stefanie Flaxman

The fear of criticism …

It can certainly discourage you from writing in the first place, and it also can disguise itself as perfectionism when you do attempt to create content for your business.

If you delay publishing your writing — while you try to improve your content before anyone else reads it — you are likely trying to avoid criticism.

The false belief associated with perfectionism is that if everything is “just right,” you’ll protect yourself from someone pointing out something you did wrong or something they don’t like (which is impossible to control).

The pivotal word in the sentence above is “false.” In the pursuit of perfection, you both perpetuate a false belief and prevent yourself from being as prolific of a writer as you could be.

So, how do noteworthy business blogs gain recognition for their remarkable writing without the perils of perfectionism?

Face your true challenge (it’s not criticism)

Let’s imagine a scenario where no one criticizes your writing.

It’s not that far-fetched of a concept because it happens on many blogs every single day … blogs no one reads.

"Please, please, please stop doing this." – Sonia Simone

The downside of a lack of criticism is that your blog probably doesn’t have a substantial number of readers yet or your content doesn’t meaningfully impact the people it does reach.

Criticism can be unpleasant, but it’s not the most harmful thing for your blog. Obscurity is.

The non-perfectionist knows …

When you create content that isn’t boring and forgettable, there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you do.

Keep creating anyway.

Embrace “good enough”

A lot of people say “there’s no such thing as ‘perfect.’”

Here’s how I like to elaborate on that idea:

When you’re passionate about your work, aiming for “perfect” may be necessary. But what you end up with is even better than “perfect” … because it’s a creation you’ve made that no one can take away from you.

You can care about quality and produce meaningful work without driving yourself crazy.

Explore the Content Editor Cosmos to Produce Out-of-This-World Writing

If you never publish anything because you’re worried about making it perfect, you never get to experience the benefits of having your writing available for others to read.

“Good enough” is not an excuse to publish sloppy or uninspired work, though.

It’s simply a marker that helps you assess when your content is ready to be published. With each new piece of content you create, you’ll have a chance to improve and fine-tune your style.

The non-perfectionist knows …

Prolific writers learn how to gauge when their final draft is “good enough.” Missteps or mistakes still might happen, despite your best efforts.

Keep creating anyway.

Build confidence

By now, we’re starting to get comfortable with inevitable things that will happen when you publish your writing:

  • People will disagree with you.
  • A typo will occasionally appear in your final draft, even though you proofread carefully.
  • You’ll change your mind and cringe at something you wrote a year ago.

And as you continue to get comfortable with the uncomfortable aspects of publishing, you strengthen your resilience and build your confidence.

Confidence is vital for content marketers. It’s what enables you to stand for something that matters and attract prospects who identify with your brand.

"True influence isn’t something you borrow. It’s what you embody." – Brian Clark

The more you produce, the less afraid you are of mistakes. Your confidence takes their power away.

The non-perfectionist knows …

Each published piece of content might not be a masterpiece.

Keep creating anyway.

Befriend your blog

Professional business blogs set and meet publishing deadlines.

That’s a lot easier when you like the topics you write about and approach your blog as an outlet to help your community.

If you don’t have readers yet, help the people you want to help even if they don’t know who you are. That’s the only way they’ll eventually discover you.

You have to start even if you don’t feel ready and before anyone is paying attention to you.

Working on one idea always leads to additional ideas for future pieces of content — and new ways to solve problems.

The practice makes you a stronger writer and a better resource for the prospects you want to attract. There’s no substitute for consistent writing practice.

practical tips for practicing your writing

As a former perfectionist who wanted to avoid criticism, it took me a long time to learn that. I actually wrote my first ebook to avoid creating a blog on my business website.

I felt comfortable putting all my perfectionist energy into writing an ebook, because once it was finished, it was finished. A blog was open-ended, and I’d have to constantly put my perfectionist energy into it. It seemed nerve-racking and overwhelming.

But when I eventually made a commitment to my blog, it was a huge step in the right direction for my business. Blog posts resonated with my ideal clients — who previously had trouble telling me apart from other service providers.

Before my business website had a blog, it’s like I was hiding. My blog not only made me visible, it made me the only reasonable choice for many prospects.

The non-perfectionist knows …

Your best writing that connects with the right prospects emerges when you’re actually doing the work. Since you start to reveal more about your point of view, will the wrong people also decide that you’re not for them? Sure.

Keep creating anyway.

Don’t save your (best) ideas

If a good idea fits into a blogger’s strategy, why would they wait to publish a post about it?

It’s typically a desire to wait until they have a bigger audience. Avoid that attitude and remember that everyone starts by serving the audience they currently have (or, when you don’t have any readers yet, the audience you aim to attract to your business).

"You don't have to just wait for your audience to stumble across you." – Sonia Simone

Follow through with your idea, rather than hold off until a seemingly more ideal time.

You’ll always have a chance to write about the topic again in the future — and with new insights.

Is your blog or a different website the best fit for your idea?

As you become your own content editor, you develop skills that help determine the best place for a piece of content. And if you have an opportunity to write a guest post for a site that has a larger audience than yours, you always want to submit your best work.

The non-perfectionist knows …

It’s smart to use ideas that fit into your content marketing strategy right away, even if you wish you were already a bigger influencer.

Keep creating anyway.

Spread your most outstanding work

When you use one of your best ideas and recognize the content is special, repurpose it in different formats to reach more people.

"This is how you increase the likelihood of reaching new audience members with your best work." – Jerod Morris

A blog post will attract readers, but your target audience might also search for videos on YouTube. A version of that blog post that leads viewers back to your website can be put on YouTube so more people can discover and connect with your story.

If you have an outstanding product or service, you should be proud of the content you create to market it.

The non-perfectionist knows …

Even though it may be your goal to build your audience, it can be scary to expose your work to more people.

Keep creating anyway.

Noteworthy bloggers overcome perfectionism

Information is … information.

Content is your chance to creatively position information in a new way — a way that your prospects want to hear it.

Aren’t you more interested in finding the information you need from people you know, like, and trust? Those noteworthy bloggers write despite their perfectionist tendencies or fears of criticism.

So, keep creating the work that gets people to know, like, and trust you.

And publish it regularly on your website.

The post The Non-Perfectionist’s Guide to Noteworthy Blogging for Your Business appeared first on Copyblogger.


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Best Practices for Building an On-Demand Content Strategy

On August 17th, join us as Mark Bornstein, VP of Content Marketing at ON24, highlights the best practices for building an on-demand content strategy. He’ll explain how to build your on-demand content network, and increase the reach of your content to generate more leads and expand your sales…

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.


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Why Your Ads Should Look 100 Years Old

Think ‘lead magnet’ ads are new-age?

Think again.

Free opt-in ad campaigns like that have been around for almost a century.

Everyone’s looking for the hot new thing. A watch that counts your steps, takes notes, answers your calls, and oh yeah, also tells time. An iPhone that has a new update every time you turn it on. A car that is so smart it can drive itself.

But there’s something to be said for sticking with what works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Even better, if it works well, no need to reinvent the wheel.

Here’s how today’s ad pros are still using copywriting techniques from old-school campaigns that ran decades ago.

What the 1960’s Taught Motorola About Influencer Marketing

When it was time for Motorola to promote its new line of smartphones and features, it took its campaign to YouTube.

The phones were marketed for a younger audience, and with 54% of 18-34 years olds using YouTube at least once a day, Motorola knew it was the place to be.

They used 13 influencers to each create create “partnership announcements” and “hero” videos to show them using the new Moto Mods, that allowed users to customize their phones just the way they wanted. One user strapped the phone to a rocket and launched in 16,000 feet in the air.

No joke.

The result? 11.6 million video views and more than 38 million social media impressions. Even more? 80,000 clicks to motomods.com from first time users.

This shouldn’t be surprising. Buyers are 92% more likely to trust the reviews and opinions of friends and peers over standard advertisements.

A recent Tomoson study found that this kind of influencer marketing is “the fastest-growing online customer acquisition channel, beating organic search, paid search, and email marketing.”

But as hip and cool and successful as this turned out to be for Motorola, it wasn’t a new idea.

In fact, it was decades — even hundreds — of years old.

Companies have been using celebrities, real users, and even beloved, made-up characters for years to sell their products.

Remember how much Santa loved Coca Cola? This one’s from ‘64:

old coca cola adImage Source

And what about Babe Ruth and his love for Pinch-Hit?

babe ruth tobacco advertisementImage Source

Yes, that’s Babe Ruth as spokesperson for a tobacco company. The same Babe Ruth who later died of cancer at the age of 53. Next level brand partnership, right there.

You see, this stuff is nothing new. It’s not that new and fancy and innovative and cutting edge.

It’s the same old playbook, just dusted off and revised with a new edition. One that takes into account how our constantly evolving consumer preferences keep shifting.

Here’s a few more ideas for how tried but true methods are still relevant today.

Start by Grabbing Their Attention

Remember when Old Spice used to literally mean old.

As in, the only people who wore it were your grandparents?

That all changed a few years ago with a little sex appeal and humor:

Sales jumped 107% in just one month. Old Spice became the number one body wash and deodorant brand in both sales and volume.

And they reached new demographics of people (which is important when yours historically is about to drop dead).

But even that ad campaign, now nearly seven years old, is just a first-cousin of marketing techniques from long ago.

David Ogilvy’s 1958 Rolls Royce ad uses the same shock and awe tactic by grabbing the reader’s attention with what’s essentially a one-word headline:

old rolls royce adImage Source

$13,550 for a car in 1958 was a lot of money, and Ogilvy was hoping to hook customers with mystery, intrigue, and a little high-end appeal.

He also updated their tag line a bit, which was a simple and direct, “The Best Car in the World,” that now reads, “What makes Rolls-Royce the best card in the world?”.

By turning that statement into a question, and then answering it, he was able to produce their highest-performing marketing campaign to date.

Unsurprisingly, there’s data from today that backs this up.

For example, MarketingExperiments.com ran two basic AdWords headlines against each other. The Control was a question, while the Treatment was simple and straightforward. Can you guess which one won?

ab testing ad

You got it. The question-based headline.

Last second copy changes in order to test headline variations ain’t new, either.

Even Ogilvy’s testing back in the ‘60s wasn’t a groundbreaking notion. Good ol Hopkins was doing that long before around 1900:

“Hopkins outlines an advertising approach based on testing and measuring. In this way losses from unsuccessful ads are kept to a safe level while gains from profitable ads are multiplied. Or, as Hopkins wrote, the advertiser is ‘playing on the safe side of a hundred to one shot’.”

Today we use content marketing to grab top of the funnel attention. Turns out that’s nothing new. Because storytelling is one of the best ways to develop the interest and intrigue required to keep people reading long enough to make a decision.

Storytelling Piques their Interest to Draw People Near

Today, marketers face unprecedented hurdles to get their name out there.

A New York Times article from a decade ago claimed the number of ads we saw each day was around 5,000. Keep in mind this was early for Facebook, YouTube, et. al. They hadn’t even hit critical mass yet.

Fast forward and nearly 200 million people worldwide are using ad-blocking software in order to take back control over their (albeit, limited) attention. A recent study found that only 14% of respondents could recall the banner ad on the page they just visited.

Couldn’t remember the company. Couldn’t remember the product.

All of this spells disaster for marketers when our prospects lack the attention span of a goldfish.

That’s where storytelling comes in.

Nike has been leading the pack for years.

Back in 1999, they put together a one minute spot for the retirement of Michael Jordan. Clips and photos of his career, telling the story of his journey and successes. They didn’t even put up the Nike logo until the very end. For a good reason.

“It understood that what would really make a lasting impression, and what would help build the brand and allow the company to sell more products in the long-term, was an authentic story,” said Sujan Patel.

Ross Jeffries told a story, albeit a slightly more seedy version, in 1998.

“The Amazing Seduction Secrets of a Skinny, Ugly, 6 Foot Geek from Culver City California That Could Get You All the Girls You Want.”

seduction secrets skinny guy adImage Source

(Yes. This actually happened.)

Nerdy guy trying to get the girl is a tale as old as time. Now every non-skinny, ugly, 6 foot geek from Culver City California is gonna be hooked to read more of this.

Taking a familiar story or something that a consumer can relate to helps them understand just how perfect your product is for them. Why they need it. The emotional aspect that tugs at our heart strings or appeals to our vanity.

Ad copywriting formulas, like AIDA, help us touch on all of these critical pressure points. And once again, AIDA wasn’t just invented by some growth hacking millennial. It’s been around the block a few times since the nineteenth century.

Ad exec Joseph Addison Richards was talking about it way back in 1893:

“How to attract attention to what is said in your advertisement; how to hold it until the news is told; how to inspire confidence in the truth of what you are saying; how to whet the appetite for further information; how to make that information reinforce the first impression and lead to a purchase; how to do all these, – Ah, that’s telling, business news telling, and that’s my business.”

Now Get Them to Take the Next Step

Nobody knows why they need anything.

I didn’t even know I needed a special bag just for my french bread until you showed me how lacking my life was before I bought one.

But this information sharing takes a little time and finesse. You have to walk the customer through their journey. Too much, too soon, and it backfires.

That’s the chief difference between running PPC ads on Facebook vs. Google AdWords. (And why the former doesn’t work like the latter.)

There’s not much seduction required when people type something into Google. They’re already at the end of their journey. But successful advertising on basically any other medium requires you to lay the groundwork (that we’ve already discussed).

Once again, classic ad copywriting formulas help you better explain why people need what you’re selling when they don’t always yet realize they need it.

Even the U.S. Military has gotten in on the PAS (Problem, Agitate, Solution) game. Here’s an ad from 1967:

lost his chance to make a choice advertisementImage Source

This guy waited too long to sign up (problem). Now he can’t pick which branch he wants. That could happen to you, too (agitate). Fill out this form and we’ll get you what you want before it’s too late (solution).

Or what about this example from 1990 for a book to help readers with their grammar?

Image Source

Look around and you’ll see PAS ev-ry-where. Here’s a slightly modified version from Dollar Shave Club Australia. No commitment? Everyone’s trying it? Only a couple of dollars?

Sold.

Long, long ago (like more than a century), advertising pro Claude Hopkins encouraged advertisers to create work that essentially sold itself.

According to the most factual source on the internet*, Wikipedia, Hopkins: “Insisted copywriters research their clients’ products and produce ‘reason-why’ copy. He believed that a good product and the atmosphere around it was often its own best salesperson.”

(*Not true.)

In other words? The purchase (or more accurately, decision to purchase) should be an absolute no-brainer. The value should far exceed the mental, emotional, or physical costs.

But that action-step that happens once the solution is presented often takes place with a simple click-through or from an online ad.

How exactly? Tripwires.

Here’s info-marketing guru Ryan Deiss with a too-good-too-be-true offer for his latest book:

invisible selling machine book scam advertisementImage Source

The offer here is low-friction. It doesn’t require a lot of steps or a big commitment, and the customer gets a good return on their time and money. And, you get to sift out the people who really have some interest from those who are just stopping by.

But, once again, not a new concept. Here’s one from over fifty years ago in 1965.

investment aids advertisementImage Source

Conclusion

The latest shiny tactics are always fun.

But sometimes even what seems fresh and new has been around the block a time or two. Decades old marketing tricks and tactics still work today.

And more importantly, can still produce more consistent results, too.

A/B testing works some of the time. But storytelling, copywriting formulas, tripwires? They’ve been working for years and years and years and years.

The next time you’re stuck on an ad campaign or looking for inspiration, don’t just look at what’s hitting the top of Growth Hackers.

Because history tends to repeat itself. And that’s a good thing for bottom lines.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.


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Boost the Relevance of Your Content with Benefits and Features

Quick Copy Tip

One cool thing about being a content marketer is that you tend to become an expert in your topic. You probably know an awful lot about your business, your project, or your subject matter.

In fact, you might actually know too much about it.

It’s called the curse of knowledge. Because we research our topics deeply and spend so much time writing about them, we tend to understand the technical specs inside and out. We have a great grasp of the under-the-hood details that make the thing work. And we think customers want to know all about those details.

But most of your potential buyers? They don’t care.

What have you done for me lately?

To be effective, marketing needs to show exactly what the offering does for the person buying it.

The features of your offer are what make it work. The benefits are the results it creates for the customer.

What transformation does your product or service empower? What does it allow the customer to become that she isn’t today?

Jimmy Choo high heels aren’t coveted because they’re comfortable or well-made. (Even though devotees believe they are.) Women buy them to feel confident and gorgeous.

Hybrid cars aren’t popular because they’re fuel-efficient, money-saving, or environmentally friendly. The real benefits are feeling virtuous and smart, with the warm, fuzzy glow that comes from believing you’re saving the world.

Your content and copy will never be truly relevant to your audience until you translate your features into customer-focused benefits.

The five-minute feature check

Quick, take a look through the last persuasive piece you wrote (blog post, sales page, podcast script) and take note of all of the features you talk about.

  • The process
  • Your qualifications
  • The patented mechanism
  • The policy
  • The dimensions
  • The speed
  • The materials

Copy and paste them all into a fresh document. Then, after each feature, add the words:

so you can …

The final results will be phrases like:

  • I have 10 years of experience helping clients exactly like you, so you can feel confident that together we can solve even your trickiest widget problems.
  • Our course is the most rigorous on the market, so you can leapfrog ahead of your competitors.
  • Our grape jam has 50% less sugar and no weird additives, so you can enjoy it guilt-free.

In about five minutes, you’ll uncover the weak spots in your persuasive content — the places where you were thinking about you and what you offer, and not about them and what they get out of it.

You might not use the words “so you can” over and over again in your final copy — but you will be writing with an understanding of your audience benefits.

Not all benefits are equal

The curse of knowledge can also lead you to focus too much on what some copywriters call fake benefits.

These are the benefits of your product or service that you think are important. And you might be absolutely right. They could be critical to delivering the results your audience wants.

The trouble is, the customer doesn’t particularly care.

These could be things like:

  • Stabilizing blood chemistry levels
  • Improving efficiency of project delivery and implementation
  • Mastering the ability to write a college entrance essay

But that doesn’t tell us what the buyer gets to have, do, be, feel, or become by moving forward with this purchase.

What those customers might actually want could be to:

  • Get slim without feeling hungry
  • Pull off a great project and look like a hero to their boss
  • Feel like brilliant parents because their teenager got into a great college

Features do matter

Features are the specific, convincing details that demonstrate why your solution is effective. As long as they’re tied directly to customer-focused benefits, your buyer will stay interested.

Here are some features that have been translated into benefits and presented as a set:

This nutritional program stabilizes your blood chemistry so you can finally lose weight … without getting hungry.

Our proven process makes you more efficient … and that makes you look like a hero when you deliver your next project in half the time and under budget.

This quick course teaches your teenager how to write a masterful college entrance essay … which could be the deciding factor in whether they get into their first-choice school.

Take another look at your five-minute benefit check. Any fake benefits in there?

Wants, not needs

You’ve got one more check to make before you call it good.

Are the benefits you’ve identified things your audience genuinely wants, or are they things you think they need?

Paying for things we need is boring. Spending money on things we want is a lot more fun. That’s why it’s easier to sell big-screen TVs than life insurance.

When you’re translating your features into benefits, make sure those benefits are driven by wants. Look for emotional drivers like pleasure, comfort, status, and self-image. You can also seek to put a stop to pain, either physical or emotional.

It’s not only hedonistic emotions that can drive behavior — values like patriotism, justice, and fairness can play powerful roles with the right audience. It’s still a pretty good idea, though, to pair them with a little self-interested hedonism if you can. Fair-trade coffee wouldn’t sell nearly as well if those arabica beans didn’t taste so good.

We like to think that logical drivers like efficiency, physical health, preventing future problems, and scientific evidence influence our decisions, but, they typically don’t have much impact. But those “rational” benefits are helpful when they’re used to justify an emotional decision that’s already been made.

The customer who already wants the beautiful high-heeled shoes tells herself that Jimmy Choos will last longer and feel better than a cheaper brand.

The customer who already wants to feel enlightened and virtuous tells himself that the fuel economy of the Prius clearly makes it a sensible choice.

Marketing vs. manipulation

There’s an important difference between putting your best foot forward and crossing the line into manipulation.

The key lies in making two promises:

  1. Don’t say things that aren’t true.
  2. Don’t omit significant things that are true.

The impression you create with your marketing needs to be realistic and truthful. If it isn’t, you’re a con artist and a creep — and your audience will rightly shun you when they figure that out.

If you liked this Quick Copy Tip, click here to read other posts in the series.

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