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Facebook Organic Reach is Dying: Here’s Why It’s a Good Thing

Facebook reach
More and more our News Feeds are full of updates from friends… not companies — but there are benefits to this. Image via Shutterstock.

Facebook wears many hats. It does everything, and is everything. It’s where we turn to celebrate many important life milestones, share our lives with our friends, organize events, consume media and much, much more. But for marketers, it’s an advertising tool.

Social media marketing has changed a great deal over the past few years. One of the biggest changes is Facebook’s shift away from organic reach into a paid marketing channel.

If you manage a Facebook Page, I’m sure you’re familiar with this subject, and you’ve probably noticed a sharp drop in the number of people who are seeing and interacting with your content organically.

As a marketer, this change has been tough to stomach. It’s now much harder to reach your audience than it was a few years ago. And with recent updates that Facebook is, again, shifting its algorithm to focus on friends and family, it’ll be harder still to reach people who are already fans of your page.

Facebook organic reach is hard
TFW you can almost reach your audience… but not quite. Image via Giphy.

Before we dive into why the plight of organic reach is a good thing, let’s first take a look at what brought along this decline in the first place.

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Understanding how social reach is declining

In 2014, Social@Ogilvy released its much-cited report, “Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach.”

In the report, Ogilvy documented the harsh decline of organic reach between October 2013 and February 2014. In that short period of time, organic reach dropped to around 6% for all pages, and for large pages with more than 500,000 likes, the number was just 2%.

Ogilvy graph

Based on this data, a Facebook Page with around 20,000 fans could expect fewer than 1,200 people to see its posts, and a page with 2 million fans would, on average, reach only 40,000 fans.

The reasoning behind this change from Facebook’s perspective is twofold, as Facebook’s VP of Advertising Technology, Brian Boland, explained in a blog post.

The first reason for the decline in organic reach is purely the amount of content being shared to Facebook. Advances in smartphone technology means we can now create and share this content with just a few swipes of the finger or taps on a screen. More and more of our friends and favorite brands are also active on the platform, meaning competition for attention is higher. Boland explains:

There is now far more content being made than there is time to absorb it. On average, there are 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed each time they log onto Facebook. For people with lots of friends and Page likes, as many as 15,000 potential stories could appear any time they log on.

The second reason for the decline in organic reach on Facebook is how the News Feed works. Facebook’s number one priority is to keep its 1.5 billion users happy, and the best way to do that is by showing only the most relevant content in their News Feeds.

Of the 1,500+ stories a person might see whenever they log onto Facebook, News Feed displays approximately 300. To choose which stories to show, News Feed ranks each possible story (from more to less important) by looking at thousands of factors relative to each person.

To a marketer, this may feel like a negative, but it’s actually a good thing, because what we’re left with now is a far more powerful marketing tool than we had when reach was free.

Let me explain…

Why the decline of organic reach is a good thing

When a social network first achieves mainstream popularity (think Facebook circa 2009, Instagram in 2014-15, Snapchat in 2016) organic reach rules the roost. As a marketer, it’s all about figuring out what content your audience craves and giving it to them.

Then, we hit a peak, and suddenly the social network all but transforms into a pay-to-play platform — bringing with it another huge marketing opportunity. At Buffer, it’s something we like to call The Law of the Double Peak:

Buffer double peak

Facebook hit the organic peak in 2014, and since then reach has declined to a point where it’s almost at zero now. But, on the other hand, we’re left with a far more powerful advertising tool than we had before.

It’s also important to remember that before social media — with print, radio, TV, banner ads, direct mail or any other form of advertising — there was no such thing as organic reach. You couldn’t create a piece of content and get it seen by thousands (even millions) with no budget.

Facebook, now, is probably one of the most cost-effective digital ad products we’ve ever seen. It’s the best way to reach a highly targeted audience and drive awareness about your product or service, and probably an even better marketing channel than it was back in 2012 when organic reach hit its peak.

4 ways to maximize the paid marketing opportunities on Facebook

Once you’re over the fact that not everyone on Facebook gets to discover your brand for free anymore…

1. Ensure your ads are relevant

With more than 3 million advertisers all competing for attention in more than a billion users’ News Feeds, Facebook uses what’s called an ad auction to deliver ads.

The ad auction pairs individual ads with particular people looking for an appropriate match. The social network’s ad auction is designed to determine the best ad to show to a person at a given point in time. This means a high-quality, hyper-relevant ad can beat an ad that has a higher advertiser bid, but is lower quality and less relevant.

The two major factors you need to work on to ensure Facebook sees your ad as relevant are your targeting and ad creative.

For example, if you’re targeting a broad audience such as men and women, ages 18–25, living in the United Kingdom, chances are your ad may not be relevant to every person. However, if you were to break your audience down into smaller, more specific groups your message may be more relevant (and therefore successful).

2. Test different messages and creative

There are endless opportunities for testing on Facebook Ads: titles, texts, links, images, age, gender, interests, locations and so on.

The image is the first thing people see when your ad shows up in their News Feed. It’s what grabs their attention and makes them stop and click, which means it’s essential to get the image right. Though, you probably won’t hit the nail on the head first time ‘round. Thankfully, Facebook allows you to upload multiple images for each advert and optimizes to display best performing ones.

Your creative can have a huge difference when it comes to conversions. AdEspresso recommends coming up with at least four different Facebook Ad variations and then testing each one. For example, you might test two different images with two different copy texts (2 images x 2 texts = 4 variations).

AdEspresso also found that creative with a picture of a person performs far better:

Facebook ad variations

When you create ads, plan out a number of variations — changing copy, images and CTAs in order to discover what works best for each audience you’re targeting.

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3. Be specific with your content

Combining the first two points above, targeting to a specific segment using creative that is specifically built for that target audience is incredibly powerful.

Many businesses have a range of customers, all with slightly different needs. For each customer your business is targeting, jot down as much information as you can about them and try to form a few customer personas to create specific ads for.

Then, with your target personas in place, think about how you can use Facebook Ads to target each individual group. This could mean creating an ad set for each group and testing different images and copy within your ads to see what works best for each group.

By tailoring ads to specific personas, you can vastly improve your advert’s relevancy and also serve the needs of your customer better.

4. Pay attention to real metrics

With social media, it can be easy to fall into the trap of measuring only soft metrics — the things that don’t correlate directly with sales or revenue growth, but can still be good indicators of performance. On Facebook, this means things such as Likes, Comments and Shares.

When it comes to paid marketing channels, like Facebook Ads, it’s important to have some solid goals in mind and pay attention to the metrics that translate into your ultimate goal. For example, having a post receive a few hundred Likes or a high engagement rate could be seen as success, but that’s probably not the ultimate goal of your campaign.

Paid advertising on Facebook is a lot like paid-for marketing has always been. For 90% the end goal is sales or, for larger companies, brand awareness. And with paid-for ads you’ll want to be a little stricter with yourself when it comes to measurement. That’s not to say ALL advertising on Facebook must be purely focused on selling — that strategy likely wouldn’t work — but certainly any specific advertising campaigns should be focused on increasing your bottom line.

How do you use Facebook?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the evolution of Facebook as a marketing channel. How have your strategies changed over recent years? Are you one of the 3 million businesses who advertise on the platform? I’d love to hear your learnings and perspectives too.

Thanks for reading! And I’m excited to join the conversation in the comments.

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Facebook Organic Reach is Dying: Here’s Why It’s a Good Thing

What to expect at B2B Marketing Forum 2016: An interview with Ann Handley

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In two weeks, Chris Goward will be teaching a workshop and speaking at B2B Marketing Forum 2016 in Boston. Put on by the good folks at MarketingProfs, the Forum is one of the best annual events for business-to-business marketers.

I sat down with MarketingProfs Chief Content Officer, Ann Handley, to talk about what attendees can expect at this year’s conference and what B2B marketers can expect going into 2017. Here’s what she had to say.

Attending Chris Goward’s workshop or session at #MPB2B Forum 2016?

Get prepared with a free chapter from his best-selling book, You Should Test That! Ann Handley says, “You can use this book to ensure your website isn’t a slacker. On the other, you can also use it on a broader level, to guide decisions based less on gut, and more on real insight.”



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Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, MarketingProfs, and the MPB2B Forum?

Ann: I’m an actress, supermodel, fashion icon, and magician.

Kidding. I’m a marketer, author, speaker, and the world’s first Chief Content Officer.

MarketingProfs is a training and education company with more than 600,000 marketer-members. We’ve been around since 2002, and we’re a fun crowd.

The B2B Marketing Forum is the highlight of the B2B marketer’s year.

It’s their Chrisma-kwazaa-kah-ly! It’s the place where B2B marketers can go to be understood – because no B2B marketer wants to see another marketing case study about Zappos. And it’s the place to build a squad of like-minded marketers that you can rely on all year long.

Q: This is the 10th B2B Marketing Forum! What can attendees to this year’s event expect compared to previous years?

Ann: Here’s what we try to do every year:

  • Create a sense of community–a kind of foxhole mentality, that we’re all in this together.
  • Create moments worth sharing.
  • Expect the unexpected.
  • Get out of the hotel and find the gems in the city.
  • Add shenanigans.
  • Create friction-free online and on-site processes.
  • Understand that ridiculously good content is table stakes. Great education, top-notch sessions, and access to speakers, sponsors, partners and networking are givens.

The 10th anniversary year is affectionately nicknamed the B2B Marketing Forum the “Marketing Muffin Top.”

Much like an actual muffin top in an actual muffin tin, it overflows in appealing ways with a ton of education and networking. But also lots of heart, soul, warmth, humor, fun, swag, surprises, and shenanigans.

Q: Why should a B2B marketer attend this particular event (versus the myriad other marketing conferences)?

Ann: Because you won’t see the same-old case studies from other big B2C brands that I see at every other event. Because you’ll find your people. Because it’ll feel like coming home.

But here’s the biggest reason: Because we have a track dedicated to “Teach Me How” that’s all about real-world tactics and things you need to know to advance in your career.

This is a conference for marketers who want to embrace the opportunity of digital marketing, and who want to stretch and grow.

This is an event for the aspirational: The aspirational CMO, CEO, or business owner who wants to tee themselves up for success.

Q: When you were planning the B2B Forum agenda, what were your goals for takeaways from the event?

Ann: I want the audience to leave Boston with three things:

  1. Real tools and tactics they can put into use immediately.
  2. A squad of like-minded marketers they can count on as friends and colleagues.
  3. Inspirationa to build something that lasts – whether that’s a marketing program, or a career.

Q: What do you think the biggest trends in B2B marketing will be going into 2017?

Ann: I could talk about the expansion and evolution of social media here (“Facebook at Work” is a good example of that, so is the expansion of Snapchat aka Snap).

But I think the biggest, broader trend is that marketers are becoming a little more patient.

They are recognizing the value of “slow marketing” in our fast-paced, always-on, agile, want-it-yesterday, mile-a-minute world. They see critical need to slow down in some areas. Why? Because doing so allows us to achieve real results—faster.

What do you believe are the most important marketing strategies that today’s B2B marketer should invest in?

Ann: Marketers need to invest in themselves: They need to hone customer empathy.

They need to uncover the why of their marketing programs.

They need to align the customer experience and journey.

And they need to get the necessary tools and training to thrive in 2017 and beyond.

Q: What do you believe the role of conversion optimization should be in content marketing and marketing as a whole?

Ann: If you are asking me about the value of conversion optimization in content, I think it’s hugely important. That’s why I’m a huge fan of customer empathy, buff writing, killer headlines, audience-centric tone of voice, and the rest – all of which I wrote about in Everybody Writes.

The point of better, more customer-centric content is ultimately to get them involved in your point of view and story… so that those individuals convert into fans and customers.

Q: What is one piece of wisdom or advice you would share with today’s B2B marketer?

I think Tina Fey said it best: “Whatever the problem, be part of the solution. Don’t just sit around raising questions and pointing out obstacles.”

Tina wasn’t talking about B2B marketing. But she could have been, when you think about it.

The post What to expect at B2B Marketing Forum 2016: An interview with Ann Handley appeared first on WiderFunnel Conversion Optimization.

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What to expect at B2B Marketing Forum 2016: An interview with Ann Handley

Developing For Virtual Reality: What We Learned

With the tools getting more user-friendly and affordable, virtual reality (VR) development is easier to get involved in than ever before. Our team at Clearbridge Mobile recently jumped on the opportunity to develop immersive VR content for the Samsung Gear VR, using Samsung’s 360 camera.

Developing For Virtual Reality: What We Learned

The result is ClearVR, a mobile application demo that enables users to explore the features, pricing, interiors and exteriors of listed vehicles. Developing this demo project gave us a better understanding of VR development for our future projects, including scaling, stereoscopic display and motion-tracking practices. This article is an introductory guide to developing for VR, with the lessons we learned along the way.

The post Developing For Virtual Reality: What We Learned appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Developing For Virtual Reality: What We Learned

How To Choose The Right Prototyping Tool

When it comes to creating prototypes, so many tools and methods are out there that choosing one is no easy task. Which one is the best?
Spoiler alert: There is no “best” because it all depends on what you need at the moment! Here I’ll share some insight into what to consider when you need to pick up a prototyping solution.
I’ve always wanted to stay up to date on the latest design and prototyping tools, testing them shortly after they launch, just to see if any of them might improve my workflow and enable me to achieve better results.

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How To Choose The Right Prototyping Tool

Understanding REST And RPC For HTTP APIs

For the last few years, whenever somebody wants to start building an HTTP API, they pretty much exclusively use REST as the go-to architectural style, over alternative approaches such as XML-RPC, SOAP and JSON-RPC. REST is made out by many to be ultimately superior to the other “RPC-based” approaches, which is a bit misleading because they are just different.

Understanding REST And RPC For HTTP APIs

This article discusses these two approaches in the context of building HTTP APIs, because that is how they are most commonly used. REST and RPC can both be used via other transportation protocols, such as AMQP, but that is another topic entirely.

The post Understanding REST And RPC For HTTP APIs appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Understanding REST And RPC For HTTP APIs

10 Reasons Why Every Business Should Turn Employees into Social Media Brand Advocates

Did you know that over 50 million businesses have pages on Facebook? Marketer-bloggers everywhere have repeatedly referred to this increase as “noise” on social media, and they have discussed how critical it is to “cut through the noise” and reach your target audience. The great news for businesses is that the solution to this very real problem is staring them right in the face, or, more accurately, sitting right in the very same building. Are you aware of what your employees could achieve for your business as brand advocates? 10 Reasons You Should Get Started Now Ted Rubin once said…

The post 10 Reasons Why Every Business Should Turn Employees into Social Media Brand Advocates appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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10 Reasons Why Every Business Should Turn Employees into Social Media Brand Advocates

25 Inspirational Resources for Copywriters

copywriter's workstation
Image via Shutterstock.

As a copywriter, you need to be immersed in what’s going on in the world, even when those things seem completely unrelated to what you’re doing. Why? Because you’re writing for real people, who may end up being customers if you treat them right. We’re all just people, and what we really connect over is stuff which makes us go, “Woah!”

For example, did you know that the poster for Netflix’s nostalgic 80s sci-fi series, Stranger Things, was designed using an iPad Pro and Apple pencil?

Stranger Things poster made on ipad
Image via Kyle Lambert.

That may not seem relevant when you’re building out marketing campaigns and landing pages, but when you understand how people are thinking, and what they’re doing with technology, art and words, you have a better toolkit for building conversion-friendly content.

Here are 25 inspirational and practical resources, aimed at expanding your mind and copywriting toolkit. If you think we’ve missed one, drop us a comment below and help us to grow this list.

Technical and grammar

Interesting reads on writing well, and how not to use the semicolon.

1. The Writer — readability checker

The team at The Writer are all about making your words work harder. There’s plenty of general advice there for strengthening your copy, but what I really love is their readability checker, which gives you instant feedback on how readable your copy is, on a scale of Harry Potter to Harvard Law Review.

2. The Oatmeal (posters)

I wish they’d do more of these posters, because not only are they funny, they’re also genuinely useful.

The Oatmeal semicolon poster
Check out the one on semicolons: “Using a semicolon isn’t hard; I once saw a party gorilla do it.”

3. Mary Norris, Comma Queen (The New Yorker)

One of my absolute favorite resources is the Comma Queen series by Mary Norris, copy editor at The New Yorker. In her witty, to-the-point style, she’ll teach you how to properly use commas and semicolons, and how to understand the difference between lie and lay.

4. The Unbounce Dejargonator Extension

There are ways to writing convincingly, without using heady, technical jargon. When you’re speaking to people who aren’t marketers — or even if they are — it’s really beneficial to speak like a human being. Simple, right? This awesome extension for Chrome helps you do just that, by suggesting changes to your landing page copy. It’s like having an Unbounce editor all to yourself, you lucky sausage.

5. Ellen Brock, Editor

Ellen Brock is a freelance novel editor, but her advice is extremely valuable for all kinds of writers. When you understand story arcs and how to prioritize your work, you can apply those skills to your marketing copy.

6. Thesaurus.com

No, it’s not just a website for looking up synonyms, Thesaurus has a bunch of other really useful articles and tools for improving your writing. Between it and Dictionary.com there’s a lot of information on the difference between the likes of Who and Whom, and commonly misunderstood words.

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Content marketing

Using what you write to inform, entertain and convert.

7. Shopify Blog

A little bit like Entrepreneur, only focused entirely on e-commerce. If your landing page is for an online store, what you learn from Shopify could help to make sure customers stick around and spend once they arrive.

8. Copyblogger

Really more of a general content marketing blog these days than straight copywriting advice, Copyblogger is a great resource for anyone in need of specific know-how, or just a bit of inspiration. Well-written, engaging posts and updated regularly.

9. Copyhackers

If you’re a new freelancer, or new to content marketing, Copyhackers is the place to go for fundamental advice on running your show. Even if you’re an experienced writer or marketer, if you need trusted advice in a hurry, bets are that Copyhackers have covered it.

Whether you’re a new or an experienced copywriter, this comprehensive guide to freelance copywriting is a cracking place to start. And then there’s the Beginner’s Guide to Writing Facebook Ads.

10. Ceros Blog

Another gem in the world of content marketing, the Ceros blog features loads of examples of effective creative content, in the form of opinion pieces and big brand analyses.

Reading and culture

Get outside the world of click and convert for a bit, and see what words can do for your soul.

11. Stephen King — 20 Rules for Writers

I hate seeing the words rules and writing put together, but King’s top 20 — let’s call them guidelines — can help to get you on track, or back on track depending on where you left off.

Stephen King

12. The Electric Typewriter

Feed your soul at The Electric Typewriter. Possibly the internet’s most delicious collection of articles, essays and short stories from the world’s best journalists and authors. This is online reading for connoisseurs.

13. Ray Bradbury, The Illustrated Man

Here’s something for when you need some downtime. Science-fiction author Ray Bradbury’s brilliant collection of short stories, The Illustrated Man. I’m a big fan of short stories, and I believe that reading and understanding them can help you to craft more potent copy. Why? Check out this post “For More Meaningful Copy, Think Like a Fiction Writer”’ to find out.

14. The short stories of O. Henry

Henry is considered a legend amongst short story authors. His command of simple language, and how he used it to offer incredibly short, but always poignant ideas makes his work a good body to study if you’re trying to learn how to be more economical with words.

15. Brain Pickings with Bob Dylan

A little off the beaten track here, but in this interview with the singer-songwriter, Dylan muses on the value of new ideas and what it takes to create something with real meaning. Lofty, for sure, but like I said at the start, it’s good to know what’s going on in the world.

16. Stephen King, On Writing

In relation to my last point, if you’d like some advice on writing fiction, then Stephen King’s On Writing is a fabulous resource.

17. How To Format a Screenplay

Here’s a fine example of stepping outside your comfort zone. Writing exists in so many formats, and screenplays for TV and movies are one of the most technical and, in my opinion, difficult examples of the craft. Approach this as a pencil illustrator might approach drawing with ink for the first time, and enjoy it, it’s an interesting read.

Journalism

To-the-point advice from leading journos and editors at The New York Times.

18. The Opinionator blog, NYT

Plenty of musings on the technical and metaphysics of writing from opinion writers at The New York Times. Interesting reads, and the occasional gem of inspiration or practical advice to be had.

19. Writing rules and advice from the NYT

If you really want to write well and effectively, then taking heed of how (arguably) the world’s best newspaper does it is smart.

20. After Deadline blog, NYT

A more technical, nerdy look at The New York Times’s approach to copy and editing. An interesting blog to scan over in your lunch break. Keep it bookmarked and build up a vast knowledge of copy-related wisdom from seasoned writers and editors, which might come in handy one day.

Video

Talks and interviews with linguistics experts, authors and journalists from around the world.

21. Charlie Rose interviews

Charlie Rose is arguably the greatest interviewer of all time, and he’s had some of the most famous and influential people at his table over the past 25 years. I’ve linked here to his segments with key journalists, but you’ll also find talks there he’s done with well-known authors, including David Foster Wallace and Stephen King.

22. TED playlists

Inspiring talks from authors and linguistics experts on how to tell stories, how language evolves and even the origins of words themselves. Look out for The Mystery Box talk from Star Trek director J. J. Abrams, in which he talks about how to effectively draw your audience into a world of possibilities — exactly what you want from your landing pages, right?

Typography

Get to know the letters which form our words and shape our world.

23. I Love Typography

You click, you change the font, you click, you change to another font. Typography affects readability, emotional impact, tone and whether people stick around long enough to click, or buy. Take a dive here into the completely nerdy world of typography.

Advertising

When words become household sayings.

24. Fast Company, “The Best Advertising Slogans of All Time”

My all-time favorite slogan has to be the one Toys R’ Us used for a period in the 1980s — “You’ll Never Outgrow Us.” Creepy as hell, right? Here’s Fast Company’s round-up of the most popular advertising slogans of all time.

Bonus

25. 10 books For copywriters

Unbounce veteran contributor Aaron Orendorff recently tweeted this top 10 list of copywriting books by copywriters. I’ll confess that I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, but Aaron knows his stuff, so you should check these guys and girls out.

That’s it for now, but we’d love for this list to grow. If you have an awesome resource that you’d like to share with your fellow writers, drop it in the comments below, and we’ll add it to the list.

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25 Inspirational Resources for Copywriters

Reclaim Your Social Media ROI in the Age of Algorithm Supremacy with These 6 Tools

Facebook was first. Then came Instagram and Twitter. Now even Snapchat may jump on the algorithmic news feed bandwagon. The feeds on these platforms are no longer showing us every post by everyone we follow. Instead, they’re showing us only the posts we’re most likely to engage with, or at least those that the algorithms have determined we’ll find most appealing. The logic here is that there are simply too many posts constantly going up for people to review them all. The product people at the top social networks believe users are expected to interact with too much content on…

The post Reclaim Your Social Media ROI in the Age of Algorithm Supremacy with These 6 Tools appeared first on The Daily Egg.

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Reclaim Your Social Media ROI in the Age of Algorithm Supremacy with These 6 Tools

Low Email CTR? Here’s Why You Should Delete Subscribers

saying goodbye to email subscribers
Saying goodbye to your unengaged subscribers is the hardest part. The second hardest is getting the greasy handprints off your window. Image via Shutterstock.

By 2018, you’ll get over 140 emails each day.

Billions are already sent daily, adding up to trillions annually (how many zeroes is that even?!).

Email service providers attempt to help, scanning and filtering the questionable stuff out before it even hits your inbox.

You thought Facebook’s declining organic reach is bad? Wait until all of your emails go unread, straight into the email abyss (also known as the Promotions tab).

Surprisingly, one solution to improve results is actually through deleting email subscribers.

Here’s why, and how to do it strategically to jumpstart your lacklustre email results.

Why your email performance is declining (and how to salvage it)

Email marketing generates $38 bucks for every $1 spent.

Not bad. And good enough to comfortably place it (still, in 2016) as one of the highest ROI channels available.

Here’s another doozy: Email outperforms Facebook and Twitter combined by 40X in acquiring new customers.

Amazing, right?

Decades after Hotmail’s ultimate distribution growth hack of giving away free email addresses, it’s still at the pinnacle of a marketer’s playbook.

Unfortunately, our primary task — specifically, getting emails into people’s inboxes — is getting exponentially more difficult on a daily basis.

The problem is twofold.

First, the number of emails being sent is at an all-time high. Over 205 billion last year according to one report; expected to grow 3% over the next four years as well.

And second, email service providers, with their savvy foresight, are combating this using techniques like machine learning to automatically sort or filter out most of the stuff being sent.

sort and filter
Gmail uses their tabbed inbox to automatically detect (and re-route) ‘Promotional’ emails. Image via Giphy.

Wait, it gets worse!

Email lists are depreciating by 25% each year as a result. So even if you’re getting the damned things into someone’s inbox, the responsiveness of subscribers is also falling (due to the overwhelming volume of crap they’re forced to process on a daily basis, no doubt).

This is where graymail comes in.

It ain’t quite spam, but peeps aren’t jumping for joy when they see it either. It’s the company newsletters that contain little value, with pathetic open rates and even more pathetic click rates. The obligatory stuff people didn’t really ask to receive and obviously don’t care to read.

Low engagement activity, coupled with a spike in (1) spam notices and (2) unsubscribe rate increases, result in lower deliverability according to this recent Wired article.

The biggest email service providers (think: Gmail, Outlook… and uh, um… do people still use Yahoo or Hotmail?!) use sophisticated algorithms for ‘reputation scoring’ that “ranks the likely spamminess of a server that’s sending an email”.

Therefore, getting your software to send the email is easy the easy part. Getting it successfully delivered, isn’t.

In response, Mailchimp will use a technique they call “taste-testing” to start with sending only a tiny fraction of your overall email blast, assessing performance in real-time to determine if they should continue sending or kill it immediately to avoid any further reputation damaging.

There is almost no better metaphor for this downward cycle of email neglect than sacrificing the golden goose. You’re taking something with amazing potential (re-read the stats above if you don’t believe me), and then completely sabotaging it with piss-poor execution.

(Anecdotally, I’ve even seen deliverability issues affect ALL emails coming from your domain name — even one-on-one sales follow-up attempts with a prospect.)

The first obvious step towards enlightenment is to send better stuff that people actually want to read. (Can you believe people actually pay for advice like that?!)

However, in an age of escalating barriers to inbox-entry, we also need to proactively prune email subscribers; removing the bad apples to make sure you’re still able to quickly and easily access the good ones when it’s time to hit “Send.

Here’s how.

How to prune your email subscribers on the daily

There is no better vanity metric than the email subscriber count. The thought of deleting those precious things, and lowering that number, causes a violent nausea in some people.

In the good old days, you’d see the little cheesy Feedburner box with glowing subscriber count that would undoubtedly make that blogger’s word Gospel.

feedburner
No greater example of social proof in action.

Today, we’ve come to our senses we do the same damn thing. ‘Cept now it’s fueled by Inbound-gamification, re-hashing the same influencer marketing crap over-and-over-and-over-and-over to hit the frontpage.

But here’s the thing.

HubSpot ditched 250,000 subscribers. That’s probably more than any of us will delete in our entire lifetimes. If you’re keeping score at home, that was nearly 45% of their total list! And yet they took solace in the fact that most of these people weren’t engaging anyway, so it’s not like they were going to lose tons of email traffic overnight.

Routinely ditching the bottom ~5-10% of our lists probably won’t kill us, either.

So here’s how to do it.

Tip #1: Get rid of the obviously bad stuff

Previously unsubscribed, but still hanging around? Routinely bouncing? Purchased contact lists?

Get rid of them all.

The first two are easy and obvious. Simply login, find and delete.

Personally, I like a clean email list free of pollution. What I mean is, if you must use purchased lists to perform outreach (this is a judgment-free zone), isolate those peeps in a different tool like PersistIQ.

PersistIQ
Add touches in PersistIQ for automation and scale.

Not only is it 1,000% more suited for scaling outbound outreach (yay increased productivity!), it will also keep your email database free from poor performers bringing down future results.

Then, you can always send these people a targeted campaign (like a webinar or similar) designed to get them to willingly opt back into your email database, turning a cold contact into a warm subscriber.

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Tip #2: Segment emails with the lowest engagement scores

Now let’s take care of the most inactive subscribers remaining.

Open rates are notoriously unreliable. So go with engagement instead.

If people haven’t clicked on any of your last five email campaigns, it’s a safe bet that they don’t care about what you’re sending them.

Many email tools will also let you sort based on some kind of activity or rating-metric as well (like the MailChimp example below).

Mailchimp
Mailchimp allows you to sort subscribers based on ratings and activity (or lack thereof).

So segment these people with a few different criteria to be safe, and then you can most likely just delete them straight away.

At the very least, get them off this list and into some kind of re-engagement campaign, where the objective is exactly that: send them something different or interesting to win back their attention and engagement.

Here’s how to do that.

Tip #3: Send re-engagement campaigns to subscribers with the lowest engagement

Subscriber recency says that the longer people have been a subscriber, the less active and engaged they’ll be.

The trick then, is to identify these people ahead of time, before they lapse into email obscurity, with some kind of re-engagement campaign.

You can (and should) pair this with marketing automation techniques to automatically begin filtering these people.

Here’s a real example to illustrate.

Off-screen, and prior to anyone seeing this example, somebody downloaded an ebook, guide, etc. that’s typically on the end of a blog post. Then like every good little marketer says, those people received a top o’ the funnel (TOFU) email workflow after getting their hands on the shiny new lead magnet.

Now here’s what’s about to happen in the image below:

  1. The first trigger you see in this example references “35 days”. Basically, we only want this workflow to kick in after people have already progressed through the original TOFU workflow.
  2. Our next step is to make sure these people haven’t filled out any other offers, which on this site includes two different middle of the funnel (MOFU) options (a Services Overview and Website Evaluation) and a bottom of the funnel (BOFU) one (Quote & Proposal) which are often located on your primary website pages like the About, Services, etc.
Re-engagement campaign
Example of a re-engagement TOFU campaign in HubSpot.

In other words, we’re saying: Give us all of the people who (a) have already received a workflow of drip emails for 30 days but (b) didn’t sign up for anything else.

There’s a high probability that these people will churn or that engagement will lapse because they haven’t taken us up on any other offer so far. So we want to preempt that by sending them timely reminders, incentives or breaking news; hopefully piquing their interesting enough to ‘win back’ their attention (and hearts and minds).

These messages can vary in style, ranging from sending over your most interesting blog posts to a more targeted promotion.

Discounts are a popular choice, as are surveys to get some feedback on how you can tailor messages more effectively for that individual.

You can even send a preemptive unsubscribe warning that lets them know you’re going to automatically un-enroll them if they don’t tell you otherwise.

Bonus tip: Combine with remarketing/retargeting

Just because you’re purposefully unsubscribing segments of people doesn’t mean you have to give up or throw away those email addresses entirely.

Instead, you can still attempt to win back these lapsed subscribers with offers in other channels, like using remarketing or retargeting with Facebook custom audiences.

Facebook custom audience
Win back lapsed subscribers using Facebook’s custom audience feature.

Again, the best approach might be to try targeted offers, promotions and discounts to cut through the noise and get their attention.

You can even pair these messages around key holidays (like those fast approaching) to rekindle that old flame; reigniting those warm and fuzzy feelings all over again.

Conclusion

It’s incredible to think that email marketing still outperforms almost every other digital channel.

However, that profitable future is showing signs of waning.

The exponentially increasing volume of emails people get on a daily basis has given rise to new advancements for filtering by email service providers.

This, coupled with increasing unsubscribe rates and decreasing engagement scores, means priority #1 for most marketers (and the email marketing software they use, as we saw from MailChimp) is to make sure our graymail emails aren’t just being sent, but delivered.

One of the best ways to keep deliverability on the up-and-up is to regularly remove unengaged subscribers, keeping your Opens and Clicks as high as humanly possible.

Routinely deleting subscribers might be panic-inducing, but it will help ensure that the people who actually want to read your stuff (and give you money) will continue receiving emails for years to come.

View the original here – 

Low Email CTR? Here’s Why You Should Delete Subscribers

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The post Redesigning SGS’ Seven-Level Navigation System: A Case Study appeared first on Smashing Magazine.

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Redesigning SGS’ Seven-Level Navigation System: A Case Study