How 7 Companies are Using Push Notifications to Boost Engagement

Last year, mobile internet usage overtook desktop for the first time. If you’re not tailoring your marketing strategy specifically for mobile users in 2017, you’re losing out.

Mobile internet access has soared in recent years and it’s quickly become entrenched in our culture. 50% of smartphone users grab their smartphone as soon as they wake up, and 80% of all internet users own smartphones.

Google is actively trying to make the internet more friendly for mobile users by penalizing sites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices.

With this rise in mobile internet users and a continual decline in email open rates, you’ve simply got to adopt different communication channels to get their messages heard.

Push Notifications for Businesses

Push notifications represent a great way to communicate with your audience. According to a study by Localytics, 52% of smartphone users have push enabled on their devices, and these notifications can be used to benefit businesses in the following ways:

  • Directing users to your social media channels
  • Promoting products and services (especially special offers)
  • Building trust and brand reputation by delivering valuable content
  • Engaging users who aren’t currently on your site
  • Restoring abandoned carts for ecommerce applications

As legendary entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk once proclaimed: “Marketers ruin everything”.

I’m guessing it’s pretty much inevitable that brands will come to recognize the high engagement rates of push notifications, and then thoroughly overdo the tactic until they annoy their audiences and force them to turn push notifications off.

But until then, keep in mind that someone who’s installed your app will already be more receptive to communication from you – as long as you don’t abuse this trust.

Instead of being overly aggressive and spammy, focus on delivering value to your audience via push notifications in order to build brand reputation for the long-term.


Generic mass marketing techniques are dying out. In this age of information, personalization is the key to victory.

In a 2014 marketing survey, 94% of marketing professionals in multiple industries stated that personalization was “important,” “very important,” or “extremely important” for meeting their marketing objectives.

The great thing about push notifications is that you can segment the audiences you’re targeting in a very personalized way.

For instance, a clothing brand may want to send different messages to users based on the types of items that they’ve browsed and purchased in the past. Sending different recommendations to men and women is probably a good idea – and the same applies to customers who have browsed products for young children versus those for adults.

This approach is backed up by data. Of people who open a push notification, 54% of users convert from segmented pushs, compared to only 15% who convert from broadcast messages.

Geo-targeting is another great feature you can use.

If you’re a retail outlet, for example, you may want to send out reminders for time-based promotions to anyone who’s within the immediate area. Bars may want to promote happy hour specials using the same technique.

By including the user’s first name and mentioning what area they’re currently in, you’ll capture their attention far more effectively than a generic message would. Using emoji’s has also been found to increase retention.

When you’re setting up push notifications, I recommend allowing a variety of notification options for your users. If they have control over when and why they get notified, they’ll be more likely to opt-in and stay engaged.

Ultimately, if you can create a high value, personalized experience for your users, they’ll be more likely to engage with your push messages – and think highly of your brand – over time.

Pitfalls to Avoid

As I said earlier, sending generic, batch push notifications should be avoided. Similarly, carefully consider your target demographic so that you don’t send them inappropriate messages.

A while back, for example, the My Pet app received some negative publicity after a 9-year-old girl received offensive notifications, which her mother equated with cyber-bullying.

While the dark-humored notifications may have been appropriate for an older demographic, messages like “You are horrible! You are the worst owner I’ve ever had” weren’t appropriate for young children.



Timing is also crucial when sending push notifications.

If you send low-value information to your audience in the middle of the night, you’ll destroy their trust (and upset them in the process). Research suggests that afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are the best times to send push messages.

It’s also essential that you sync your push notifications with your other marketing channels. If someone reads your marketing email, only to get a push notification about the same content half an hour later, they’re going to get frustrated.

Finally, remember that if someone opts in to receiving push notifications from you, treat this as a privilege. Always make it easy for them to opt out and don’t spam their phone continuously every day with trivial messages.

7 Case Studies to Review

If you can avoid the common pitfalls of push notifications and deliver high value, personalized content to your audience, the rewards can be great.

Here are some examples of brands effectively using push notifications to boost engagement to inspire you:

1. JetBlue

Like many airlines, JetBlue has adopted push notifications to remind its customers when to check-in.

When flyers check in, they’ll get pleasant reminders exactly 1 day before the flight is scheduled to depart. In-flight status updates in the form of push notifications are also available for customers that select this option.

Key Takeaway: JetBlue offers high value, practical content that helps to improve the flying experience.

This isn’t going to result in any immediate sales, but JetBlue’s efforts cause flyers to think positively about the brand, making them consider the airline the next time they go to book a flight.

Unsurprisingly, in a study on push notifications, opt-in rates were highest in the travel and transportation niche (78%). People really appreciate being reminded about the key details that will improve their journey when they’re traveling.

2. The Bump

Guess what particular topic parents-to-be can’t stop obsessing over? Their unborn child, naturally.

The Bump is an app for first-time moms that delivers status updates about the ongoing development and growth of their child.

Those who sign up receive regular push messages about the size of the baby (typically using fruits as a reference point), as well as things to expect in coming weeks.

Key Takeaway: Push notifications work best when you’re messaging someone about something they really care about. People are far more likely to want status updates about their unborn child than they are spammy sales messages from a store they vaguely remember.

If you’re thinking about using push notifications, first consider what is of most value to your audience. If your planned notifications don’t reflect that value, don’t bother sending them.

3. La Redoute

La Redoute, which specializes in French-style fashion and offers a huge range of products, boasts a turnover of over $1 billion dollars, making it one of the largest ecommerce apparel retailers in the world.

If you’re in the ecommerce space, you know that the problem of abandoned carts (people adding an item to their cart, then leaving the store before finalizing the purchase) is very real.

In order to combat this and retrieve lost customers, La Redoute started a push notification campaign where mobile app users would be contacted if they left the store with an item still in their cart. Each notification is highly personalized and links the user to their cart where they can complete the purchase.

Interestingly, their push notification retargeting clickthrough rate was 2-3 times higher than on classic mobile ads.

Key Takeaway: Push notifications can be an excellent tool for reviving abandoned carts. By personalizing your messages and sending vibrant images of the items that your customers missed out on (for whatever reason), you can dramatically improve your conversion rate.

4. Ticketmaster

In order to deliver relevant offers to its audience, Ticketmaster utilizes geo-targeting and assesses user histories.

By determining what types of events people like attending, Ticketmaster can segment its push notifications and send offers that feel more personalized to its audience – resulting in higher conversion rates.


Key Takeaway: Segmentation is necessary if you have a large audience and want to maximize the impact of your push messages.

5. eXtra

eXtra is Saudi Arabia’s leading consumer electronics retailer and is currently experiencing 100% year-on-year mobile growth, primarily thanks to a push notification campaign that engages its mobile users on a personal basis.

In the past, the company used retargeting emails to re-engage with mobile users, but since switching to push notifications, they experienced a dramatic improvement in sales.

Within six weeks, those who had opted-in to receive push notifications were returning 4X more and often spending twice as much time on the site.

Key Takeaway: When crafted correctly, push messages can be a more intimate form of communication. This re-engages previous customers, builds brand loyalty and improves your long-term profits.

6. Netflix

With a vast sea of user data available to Netflix, the company can craft highly personalized push messages that draw on each customer’s viewing history.

As they’ve found, sending a simple reminder about a series that someone has been watching is an excellent way to improve engagement.


Key Takeaway: The more data you have on the ways in which people interact with your brand (particularly their purchasing history), the more you can tailor your push messages to resonate with them.


PLNDR is an online streetwear retailer that uses customer-focused push notifications to boost engagement. After determining what types of items its users are engaging with, PLNDR sends specific daily deals that are virtually guaranteed to resonate with their customers.

By including multiple layers of personalization and narrowing down on its user’s interests, PLNDR’s push campaigns have resulted in a 4% purchase rate on mobile (though some of the brand’s push messages have experienced more than a 20% engagement rate).

Just like La Redoute, PLNDR also utilizes retargeting notifications to remind users who have abandoned their carts about the items they’re missing out on.

Key Takeaway: Use your customer data to determine what types of items your audience likes, then send them special deals based on their interests.

Getting Started with Push Notifications

Push notifications are an excellent tool for delivering value to your customers, improving brand loyalty and driving sales. Personalizing your messages based on user data keeps your content relevant and your customers engaged.

Because push notifications are more intimate than other forms of communication, they’re ideal for reopening a channel of communication to previous customers and reminding users when they add an item to their cart but don’t complete the purchase.

Check with your e-commerce provider or marketing tool to see what options are available to you to take advantage of push notifications today.

Can you think of any other tips for making the most of push notifications? Please let me know in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world’s leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a Growth Marketer – a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.

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Maximize your business’s Twitter impact

Are you using Twitter to its full potential? Contributor Will Scott shares six tips to help you build and manage a successful Twitter page for your business.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

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3 Ways to Get What You Want by Doing Your Homework

"I can't tell you how many cold sales emails I get from people who demonstrate they have no idea what my company does." – Sonia Simone

Polly Professional has a lot going on today. She has a blog post due, a podcast script to write, an employee review to conduct, two client meetings, and she’s meeting her cousin Penny for dinner.

And then it comes. Ding.

An email from Steve Stranger.

Maybe he’s a sales pro trying to set up a “quick meeting to discuss his company’s solutions,” but it’s clear he has no idea what her company does or what Polly’s role is. Or maybe he needs a job, and he figures that being her second-cousin’s college roommate has got to qualify him for something. Or he wants to write for her company’s blog, even though he doesn’t understand the audience or the topic.

Worst of all: Maybe he wants to pick her brain.

Polly grits her teeth and counts to 10, then deletes the message. She considers marking it as spam, but she’s feeling kind-hearted today.

But she is never, ever going to answer Steve’s email.

Why? Because Steve failed to respect her time. He didn’t do his homework.

When you approach someone without doing your homework, you send a clear message: You think your time is more valuable than theirs.

It’s annoying for Polly — but it’s murder on poor Steve. Let’s face it … sometimes we need to ask folks for stuff. There’s nothing wrong with that. Helping one another out is an important part of business.

Steve could have spent a few minutes preparing for that request — and Polly would have been a lot more likely to consider it. Here’s how to do your homework, so you don’t end up like Steve.

#1: Know their work

I can’t tell you how many cold sales emails I get from people who demonstrate that they have no idea — at all — what my company does.

Unlike kind Polly, I often do mark them as spam.

When you’re approaching a person or an organization, take the time to understand their work.

If they have a blog … read it. Not just a week’s worth of posts — really look at it. Have they identified their most popular posts? Read those. Yes, all of them.

Look over their website, their podcast, their YouTube videos, their white papers — any content they’re putting out. If it’s an individual, take a look at what they post on LinkedIn or the other social platforms.

What recurring themes do they address? If their content tells stories … what’s the moral? What do they see as their unique winning difference? What kind of language do they use to talk about that?

What do they do? How does that make money? Who are their customers? How do they serve those customers?

“You can observe a lot by just watching.” – Yogi Berra

And that brings us to the second point …

#2: Know their audience

Taking some time to look through a company’s website and content is pretty common-sense, even if people often don’t do it.

But smart networkers know that it’s just the beginning.

Whether you’re trying to reach a person or an organization, take a look at who their audience is. These are readers if you’re approaching a blogger, viewers if you want to connect with a popular YouTuber, and customers if you’re approaching a business.

Influence comes from an audience. The audience is the battery of the system.

This used to be somewhat hard to do, but social media has made it much simpler.

Do they have blog comments? Read them.

Do they have a Facebook or LinkedIn presence? Tune in to the audience conversations there, not just what the influencer is saying.

And when I say “tune in,” realize I’m talking more about listening than I am about weighing in.

You can socialize later — it’s often a good idea. But first, understand who you’re socializing with.

You’re looking for what’s energizing this audience. What do they complain about? What are they worried about? What do they struggle with? What problem do they turn to this influencer or company to solve? How’s that going?

If you understand the audience, you understand the influencer. If you understand the customers, you understand the company.

#3: Play along

You won’t always have this option available to you, but if you do, take it.

What’s your influencer or organization spending a lot of time thinking about these days?

Do they have a new product launching or a big promotion running? Do they have a book out? Maybe there’s a challenge or a community event going on. Maybe they have a charity they’re doing a lot of work with.

If you can connect what you have to offer with something they care about, it’s a lot easier for them to hear what you have to say.

Please stick with what you can readily find that’s been publicly posted online, though. Homework is good … stalking is not.

Do your homework and stand out

If all of this seems like it would take a lot of time … it probably takes about as much time to approach five people intelligently as it does to approach 100 like a monkey throwing paintballs.

Those five people will be far more likely to actually stop and listen to you, because you’ve respected their time (and your own) with relevant, pertinent communication.

And you’ll stand out … because most of what’s in our inboxes is paintball after paintball.

How about you … any tips you’ve found useful on doing your homework? Let us know about them in the comments …

The post 3 Ways to Get What You Want by Doing Your Homework appeared first on Copyblogger.

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Multi-Channel Mastery: 5 Easy Ways to Squeeze More Profits from Your Facebook Ads

The majority of customers use multiple devices on their journey to purchase.

And they’re gonna take nearly a dozen ‘touches’, too.

Case in point: people who receive choreographed emails + ads are “22% more likely to purchase” than those that only receive one or the other.

That means the likelihood of one campaign, on one device, one time, generating a significant conversion, is slim to none. And getting worse.

So why stop there?

Facebook ads can generate interest. Also leads. Or you can use them to trigger marketing automation, SMS, webinars, and even direct mail to generate a steady-stream of new business.

Here’s how to do it.

1. Lead Ads

Facebook ads work best when you re-create a funnel.

Different ads are used to first generate interest, before following up with those people to generate leads, before later following up with leads to generate customers.

That means different campaigns on different devices at different times. That’s the key to creating a Facebook customer acquisition machine that consistently creates new demand for your products and services. (You’ve read that eBook, right?)

And when you begin setting that up, you’ll notice that different ad placements will work better at different times. For example, mobile is great for brand awareness + discovery because of (1) consumer behavior and (2) more inventory and (3) less competition.


That means people read and consume content on their devices. But don’t usually convert as highly.

Except… for one exception: Lead Ads.

Introduced a year+ ago, this little handy ad unit removes the biggest hurdle to conversions on mobile devices (having to click through to a landing page and type your personal data into tiny form fields with your big thumbs).

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Six+ months ago, AdEspresso threw their money in the air like they just don’t care, testing the performance of lead ads vs. landing pages.

The results? Lead ads outperformed landing pages for driving mobile conversions.

Which is great! ‘Cause mobile internet usage already eclipses desktop (and showing no signs of slowing down).

mobile-internet-usage-surprassing-desktop-statcounterImage Source

So one down, four more to go. Simply use Lead Ads for mobile to generate leads from an already-curated custom audience.

Only one problem…

Facebook collects user data in their Lead Ads so people don’t have to manually submit their emails, etc. But all that data’s still locked up tight inside Facebook. Not much good it’s gonna do in there alone.

You could manually download a .CSV file and upload it to your CRM. But c’mon. Don’t you have, like, hobbies? A family? A friendly bartender at least? Much better things to do.

(If not, there’s always unpaid interns – right?)

Fortunately, Facebook already integrates with MailChimp. So you can seamlessly pass subscriber data over without getting your hands dirty. (Presumably, more are on the way.)

Otherwise, you’ve got two other alternatives.

The first is Zapier. An awesome little tool that helps you ‘hack’ marketing automation features that would normally cost a bundle.

The second is a marketing automation tool that costs a bundle. But worth it in most cases.

For example, AdEspresso’s Data Sync feature will connect your ad campaigns to powerful programs like HubSpot or Infusionsoft.


And that’s where things get interesting.

2. Marketing Automation

We’ve already given up the punchline.

Consumers bounce around from channel to channel and device to device on their long journey to becoming a customer.

So let’s be frank: no way you’re gonna do that manually.

You can try, sure. But once again, see: a life.

IF you wanna generate results, you gotta ditch one-off campaigns in favor of personalized segmentation. The only way that’s gonna happen is with some fancy MarTech tool.

The good news, again, is that you don’t have to blow your budget.

Facebook already integrates with MailChimp natively. And their ‘automation recipes’ have improved significantly in the past year+.


So new leads generated courtesy of your Lead Ad can now enter seamlessly into an automation workflow that delivers what was promised and begins the nurturing process.

For example, the initial lead offer could be a time-tested eBook. But anything would do, including a checklist, free guide, whitepaper, free course, or webinar (which we’ll come back to later).

People opt-in from their mobile device on Facebook and automatically start receiving your pre-set emails that deliver twofold:

  1. Educating new leads on how to solve their problem (with your stuff).
  2. While also building trust with these new leads at scale.


Of course, you can also kick things up a notch (BAM! – Emril style) with a more sophisticated setup like HubSpot that allows for IF/THEN branching technology and a slew of other premium features.

For example, people will go through this initial sequence and may not convert. No problem. Let’s see if we can re-engage them by targeting the pain point they’re dealing with.


Now. Do any of these people click a specific link? Maybe a link mentioning your product or service? That signals at least some interest or intent. So why not pull them out and add them to a brand new list with follow-ups that go straight to the point.


The point is that you’re starting to build a scalable system that’s constantly following up with people depending on where they’re personally at in time. In different channels and mediums that already mimic their own behavior.

(So you can and should, for example, also keep retargeting these people on Facebook by creating a brand new custom audience with your lead list. Which means they’re now seeing next-level ads on FB that are tied to email messaging they’re also receiving.)

But of course, we’re just scratching the surface. Because marketing automation doesn’t just stop at email marketing.

3. SMS

Sometimes, ‘boring’ niches are also the most interesting.

The competition level is often so high that there’s no room for errors. You don’t have the time or money to waste on Facebook bots if they aren’t gonna deliver results ASAP.

Which is why this next example caught me by surprise.

You see, tax relief is one of these aggressive niches. There are a few savvy competitors all going after the same, small pool of poor saps with crushing tax bills.

That means tax relief companies go straight for the jugular when they smell blood. (Jaws would be proud.) The quickest way to learn what works, is to simply go research exactly what some of the biggest companies are already doing in that space.

So here’s how it went down.

The Facebook ad offered “free tax tips”. Or similar. Doesn’t really matter to be honest.

You opt-in, and instead of seeing your email inbox blow up with a carefully crafted automation sequence, your phone dings.

Curious, you glance over and see the following SMS begin to pour in.


Look at that!

SMS marketing automation in action. The first message is literally just a teaser. It hints that you’re about to receive a phone call. It preps you to respond. (Pavlov would be proud.)

This company wastes no time beating around the bush. They go straight for the phone call ‘cause those convert at 30-50%. But that’s not all.

When you don’t answer (because seriously, who in their right mind wants to sit on the phone with an aggressive tax relief person for only research-sake), you get another message a few minutes later.

Classic IF/Then being played out on your mobile device. ‘Cause SMS opens are as high as 99%. You can’t help but look!

Few ways to do this.

Autopilot can make it happen. So too can TextMagic or BurstSMS with a little help from Zapier.


Once again though, don’t stop there.

Let’s stick with tax relief for a second.

Person opts-in to the initial offer. Next step is to get them on the phone to review tax options. They resist. That means they don’t take the ‘next step’ in your funnel to view options, pricing, etc.

Cue: custom audiences. These people viewed one URL (the initial Thank You confirmation page) but haven’t taken the next step, so SMS messaging (is that redundant?) can be tied back to retargeting Facebook ads yet again. In other words, you can literally see who visits the landing page, but fails to visit the Thank You confirmation page, and then send a text message to prompt them along.


4. Webinars

There’s a reason most B2B marketers use webinars: scale.

Only one problem with them: math.

To generate XX buyers at $YY customer value, you need A LOT of people registering for your webinar. For example, a measly $1,500 takes a lot of work.

Here’s how it breaks down:

  1. Three customers paying $500 LTV.
  2. At a 3-4% purchase rate.
  3. Requires 50 people to attend.
  4. But only around 40-50% of registrants will actually attend.
  5. So you need like ~80-100 to sign up.
  6. Average webinar registration rates are around ~50%.
  7. That means you’re gonna need at least ~200+ peeps to visit the page in the first place.

And that’s why Facebook ads are a perfect fit. Look no further than this textbook example from the GMAT Club:


Perfect. Now, how do you remove as much friction as possible? How do you get people from A -> B with the least amount of work that might screw up your numbers?

Once again, pass data automatically. For example, setup an integration between Facebook Lead Ads + GoToWebinar.


You can also have this data passed first to your CRM or marketing automation software and then register them for the webinar, too.

+1 for sending SMS webinar reminders, too.


Because as we’ve learned so far, multiplying channels = increasing odds of success.

But we ain’t done yet. Time to go old school first.

5. Direct Mail

The Law of Shitty Clickthroughs says that channel results decline over time.

It’s natural. Inevitable even. More and more competition generally reduces effectiveness. That whole supply vs. demand thing.

We can sit here and complain about trillions of emails being sent. Or we can do something about it.

We can improve segmentation. Message match and timing. Personalization that extends to ads in other channels like Facebook, SMS, and webinars.

But let’s not hesitate to dust off old, forgotten stuff either.

Direct mail, incredibly, still works. One company used an account-based marketing approach to target $30 million+ companies and saw a 25% response rate from direct mail.

Lob is one of my favorite examples in this case, because you can connect and send through an API. Which means… yes, you can automatically send stuff to new Facebook leads.

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Picture this:

You run ads to new people who might be attending a conference. And/or you retarget existing contacts who might be running to the conference. When you confirm their interest and attendance, you physically mail an offer to them that will compel them to visit your booth.

Like sending an empty iPad box with a note to come pick theirs up in-person.

That’s what Matt Heinz did, retelling the story to Topo, “We sent two-day packages to executives in advance of a big conference. The package was an empty iPad box. We wrote in the direct mail to come by our booth to pick up the iPad. Most executives came by just to compliment us. It worked.”

Part of this strategy’s appeal, they point out, is that executives are notoriously difficult to reach. They don’t have time to sit on webinars and you’re not likely to find them downloading whitepapers, either. So took an unexpected approach to get results.


One-off campaigns are dead.

They’re just a piece of the puzzle. A beginning to a long journey.

The trick is stringing together multiple campaigns that already mimic how your customers are already behaving.

That means you gotta show up all over. If the effectiveness of a single channel is in decline, you can sidestep it by roping in multiple channels.

Facebook’s peerless retargeting (courtesy of custom audiences) means you can use it at nearly every step of your marketing and sales funnel. You can use it to trigger new leads, follow up with prospects, and line up sales appointments.

But only if you’re showing up in multiple channels on multiple devices. Just like your customers.

About the Author: Brad Smith is a marketing writer, agency partner, and creator of Copy Weekly, a free weekly copywriting newsletter for marketers & founders.

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How Strategic Content Converts to Email Subscriptions and Sales

"Content marketing is broader than email marketing, but your email list remains your core focus." – Brian Clark

When we talk about content marketing strategy, all the discussions of heroes, journeys, and maps can seem a bit esoteric.

What does it look like in real life? And how exactly does it relate to email marketing?

Content marketing is a broader discipline than email marketing, but your email list is the core focus. In fact, the primary purpose of content that is distributed in other ways (social, search, ads) is to begin the email relationship.

So, let me walk you through an imaginary campaign that takes you from a documented strategy to a working funnel. I’ll use my site Unemployable as the stage for this particular campaign.

Please note that the documented portions of the strategy below are much more abbreviated than you would do for yourself. It’s just an illustration that will help you better understand how a documented strategy translates into real-world digital marketing.

Let’s take a look.


Why are we pursuing this?

The business objective is to sell StudioPress Sites to people who want to start a new website.


In the “who” phase, we identify a single persona that we’ll keep in mind as we craft content.

This particular campaign will focus on freelancers looking to slowly move away from serving clients by shifting to a product-based business model. Our persona is a freelance writer named Penny.

Penny was thrilled to break away from the corporate marcom world and start her own business. She still loves the independence and flexibility, but some days the stress of working with clients get to her. Instead of one boss, she answers to several demanding contacts, each with different management styles and project requirements.

While she dreams of creating her first digital product, Penny dreads the thought of investing her time into something that doesn’t sell. She wants to develop a business based on her passion for cooking, not by teaching people to write. While she still wants to pursue the dream, her doubts about how to get started have kept her from taking even the first step.

Penny is a pragmatic and ethical person who is allergic to hype and incredible claims of internet riches. She is driven by a sense of fairness, and she holds disdain for those who take shortcuts at the expense of others.

Her worldview is that hard work is rewarding, and she often tells herself she should just be happy with the clients she has. Still, she’s willing to work a side hustle to pursue her dream, if only she could find the right path.


In the “what” phase, we identify the sequence of information that the prospect needs to achieve her goal.

Now it’s time to identify the type of information that Penny will need to take action, and the order that will guide her step by step to transformation.

And since we’re trying to convince Penny to purchase a StudioPress Site, we’ll also need to communicate why it makes sense to do business with us over someone else.

Here are some broad considerations that we will turn into specific pieces of content and copy:

  • Penny will need on-point content that addresses her desire to turn a passion into a business.
  • The credibility of the source will be key to overcoming Penny’s skepticism.
  • Given her freelance practice, Penny needs to know that she has the time to make this happen.
  • She’ll need a way to validate her ideas and gain confidence.
  • Penny wants to see specific examples of how people like her have succeeded.
  • As a non-technical creative, Penny must be assured that she won’t be overwhelmed by technology.
  • Finally, Penny must receive an offer that motivates her to take action.

Now we can take these primary information points and map them out as a sequential journey. Or you can simply create a story outline that corresponds with each piece of content in the sequence.


In the “how” phase, we take what we know about our prospect in order to best present the information.

Penny is a creative business person striving to become more entrepreneurial. Her no-nonsense attitude suggests a “just the facts” approach, but her need for case studies and real-life examples opens her up to persuasive storytelling.

Given her potential for skepticism, we’ll walk the line between “yes, this takes work” with constant reassurance that it’s totally doable. Characterizing the entire process as an act of creation will appeal to Penny’s sense of pride as a professional writer.

The tone can be somewhat snarky when it comes to “get rich quick” formulas, especially at the beginning. The goal is to strongly differentiate the advice from the stuff business-opportunity people are looking for, and instead present this as a valid way to build a business that serves others just as it also provides value to the owner.

Here’s Penny’s experience

At this point, we want to summarize how Penny experiences the journey your content is taking her on. We’ve worked to empathetically understand her, and now we want to see the path from her perspective to better refine how we guide her through it.

While taking a short break from a client project, Penny sees an article on Facebook that catches her eye. It’s called Why Now is the Wrong Time to Create a Digital Product. She sees that the post is sponsored, which means that it’s a paid distribution, but the topic is worth the click because it’s so on point to her predicament.

The article confirms her own doubts about creating an ebook or course, which means the content has entered the conversation already playing in her head. She’s nodding in agreement that starting with an idea for a product and simply creating it leads to failure more often than not.

Instead, the article argues that you need to first develop an audience around the topic you’re interested in. The piece goes on to argue that you should do market research by promoting other people’s relevant products first to discover what this particular audience wants to buy.

Penny is stoked, because she feels like the author is speaking directly to her. The end of the article contains an offer for a free course called Building Your Digital Business the Smarter Way.

The landing page is beautifully designed. The copy is abundant, but not obnoxious. She recognizes the author as the founder of Copyblogger, a site she read religiously when she was starting her freelance writing business.

The course is tied to subscribing to the weekly Unemployable newsletter. She smiles at the brand, and figures at minimum she’ll get some solid tips for running and growing her main business.

Penny registers for the course, providing her email address. She’s not naive — she knows there’s something for sale at some point, but this seems like the information she’s been waiting for.

She accesses the first lesson of the course immediately, which talks about validating product ideas by selling other people’s stuff — also known as affiliate marketing. Then there’s an unexpected shift, as the focus of the lesson moves to stories of people who make tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands, of dollars a month through affiliate marketing alone.

Just when Penny’s BS detector is about to blare, she encounters the story of The Wirecutter, a gadget review site powered by commissions from Amazon’s Associates program. The business was acquired by the New York Times for $30 million in 2016.

That piece of legitimacy has Penny hooked. If she can build an audience interested in cooking, there are all sorts of products that she can promote through Amazon and other affiliate programs. Maybe she doesn’t have to create a product at all.

But how to build the audience?

That comes in the next lesson, which arrives the next day by email. It talks about two vitally important channels for affiliate marketing — email and search.

The lesson advises to write one high-impact article every week, based on developing a documented content marketing strategy (this is getting meta now). But beyond that, the topic turns to content curation as a way to get people on her email list when she’s just starting out and building her authority.

This resonates with Penny. She knows there is so much good stuff out there in the world of recipes and cooking techniques. But she also knows there’s a bunch of junk and sorting through that for people has value. She can use social ads and guest posting to drive traffic to her newsletter, which now has a compelling value proposition.

The next day, her inbox reveals a tutorial on modern SEO — a topic that gives her the willies. She discovers it’s not that scary once you understand how technology can help amplify your great content, which is the most important part.

This lesson is the first time StudioPress Sites is mentioned, just briefly at the end. Penny is intrigued, but not ready to buy.

Next comes the final lesson, which is a piece about WordPress performance and security. Penny understands that you’ve got to have confidence in your theme, plugins, and hosting in order to provide a great experience for your visitors. StudioPress Sites is mentioned again, a little more prominently since it’s the solution to all those concerns.

On the next day, it’s the time for an offer. Penny gets the opportunity to get rolling with her new cooking site without paying a dime for the first month. She jumps on the deal, knowing she can cancel before paying if it turns out that she isn’t impressed with StudioPress.

But the journey’s not over

Now, our customer onboarding at StudioPress becomes part of the journey. If Penny doesn’t set up her site within those first 30 days, there’s a chance she’ll give up and cancel.

Fortunately, Penny does get her new site rolling, using one of the included themes and obtaining a custom logo from a designer she works with. She’s assembled an RSS list on Feedly of all her favorite sources for cooking content and is working up an overall strategy for her original content.

Just then, she’s delighted to receive an invitation to a webinar that will help her document her content marketing strategy and build her email list. It’s actually the next piece of content in the sequence she opted-in to — except it’s a version for people who purchased, designed to increase retention.

An alternate webinar that contains a different offer is provided to those who haven’t yet bought. This is a very simple example of how marketing automation can empower you to personalize the experience your prospects and customers encounter.

Meanwhile, Penny enjoys the weekly Unemployable newsletter, which provides advice related to both her freelance business and the direction she’s headed. She even begins promoting StudioPress Sites as an affiliate in the “do-it-yourself” section of her writing site. And finally, Penny eventually upgrades her StudioPress Site to the Commerce Plan as she begins creating her first natural cooking course.

The adaptive experience

Now, this person and her story are a fiction, right? But the better you know your prospect, the more accurate the experience will be. Once you put the content out there, you can test, tweak, and rearrange until you’re hitting all the touchpoints just right.

Once you’ve gone through the process of identifying with Penny at a very personal, human level, technology can then do amazing things. Your basic linear sequence of what she needs to hear from you can take into account all sorts of variables.

  • What if she doesn’t do the third lesson? How do you get her back on track?
  • What if she clicks on a certain link within a lesson? How does that change how you perceive her state of mind?
  • What if she powers through every lesson, but ignores every offer? What does that tell you about her viability as a prospect?

This is the point where marketing automation becomes magical. Not before you understand how to engage with your prospect on an empathetic level, but definitely once you do. You’re not only creating better content, you’ll have a better understanding as to what behaviors have significance during the sequence.

The clarity comes from “who”

I actually know Penny pretty well, since she’s one of the handful of “characters” I think of when I curate Unemployable and choose topics and guests for the podcast. We also have several different avatars for various use cases for StudioPress Sites.

Having a concrete persona to “talk” to makes things so much clearer. Instead of some vague notion of a funnel, you can actually see yourself as the mentor, guiding your prospect along on the journey, step by step.

And when it comes to email marketing, you’re no longer just “list building” in the abstract.

They say the money is in the list, but that’s not necessarily true — it’s got to be the right list that takes the right people on the right journey.

Have you mapped out your content marketing strategy yet? Let me know about the experience in the comments.

The post How Strategic Content Converts to Email Subscriptions and Sales appeared first on Copyblogger.

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