Best Practices for
A comprehensive reference guide for copywriting, content marketing, and media outreach best practices.
Communications Best Practices
Communications efforts are included in every piece of content you create for a brand and its audience. From web page content to blogs and email marketing campaigns, it all starts with communications. Business owners, managers, and marketers know the ins and outs of their brands, and it’s up to us to share that insight with prospective customers in a way that they understand and enjoy. The goal is to get the right people to listen and interact when your brand is talking. But how do you do that?
People are spending hours on the internet, and knowing how to find them where they’re consuming content or searching for answers can boost a brand’s visibility and, ultimately, their sales.
When it comes to building a brand’s communications strategy, there are three things to consider when you are crafting content:
- The message: what you want to say
- The medium: where and how you want to share your message
- The target: who you want to receive the message
The communications team at SharedTEAMS is designed to create content for several types of marketing media, using written content to amplify a brand’s voice and resonate with the right audiences.
Content & Copywriting
Email & Automation
Brand Messaging & Outreach
Continue reading to learn how to draft content that can build a foundation for a robust marketing strategy. We’ll cover formats such as ebooks, whitepapers, website copy, blog articles, targeted email marketing campaigns, and harnessing the power of lead magnets.
Content is king. Bill Gates said that in 1996, and the sentiment gets truer every year. Content marketing has become the dominant marketing approach recently. And virtually every business and industry in the world benefits from it.
Creating focused content helps define your audience and drive conversions, boost engagement, and secure a higher sales volume. When creating your content with a focused approach, you’ll find that each content type has its own nuances and sticking points.
For example, blogs are a place to share insights, both for education and entertainment. But in many cases, blog content isn’t the place where your audience will make the final decision to partner with a business or purchase its products or services.
On the other hand, email marketing content – promotional emails, newsletters, automated sequences – is designed to help educate and engage recipients in a way that leads to a productive customer relationship.
The nuances of communication are more poignant when filtered through a successful content marketing strategy.
Best Practices for Writing Blog Content
Writing blog content doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
To get started, you can brainstorm topics that are relevant to your target audience. Then you can determine the topic of the article based on recent news and trends, common questions the audience has, or other related topics that are beneficial to the audience.
At this point, you may want to develop a working blog title as well as headers to organize the content. Then choose an appropriate primary keyword to feature in the article and add secondary keywords that align with the primary keyword. Note that the blog title and headers may change as you determine the keywords because you will likely want to include the primary keywords in the title and headers. Choosing one primary keyword and 1-3 secondary keywords is often sufficient.
Armed with your topic, a working title, and keywords, it’s time to start researching your blog article. Articles perform best if you include inbound and outbound links, so take note of the links you will reference in your article.
In most cases, you can outline your blog content using the keywords and primary ideas associated with the topic. Then draft the content by filling out that outline. Depending on a business’s industry and other factors, current best practices put blog article length at around 1,000 words. It may be beneficial when you are starting a new blog effort to do some research on your competitors and your industry standards when it comes to blog length.
If all of your competitors are writing short articles with lots of photos and examples, your 2,500-word deep dive will likely not perform as well as your competitors’ blogs.
Sometimes, if you start with your keywords, you can reverse engineer the above process – start with the primary keyword, find related secondary keywords, and then draft the content around those keywords, using the keywords themselves to direct your research and drafting processes. It’s important when taking this approach not to fall into a habit of keyword stuffing. Too many keywords in an article are just as unhelpful as an article with too few.
After drafting the blog content, further optimize it for on-page SEO. This can include adding relevant and helpful photos, splitting up long paragraphs, and inserting headers and bulleted lists.
End the blog with one CTA so the reader can learn more about a related product or service. The CTA doesn’t have to have a direct correlation to the content, but it should be related because you want to give your reader the next steps after reading your blog. Your last body paragraphs in your blog should flow into your CTA and feel informative and intentional for your reader. It shouldn’t feel like the article abruptly ends and an advertisement for the business begins. If you’ve presented a problem and solution within the article, your CTA should fit seamlessly into the article content as a tool that can help readers reach that desired solution.
Don’t forget to include accompanying images, videos, graphs, and infographics. Make sure you add alt text to each media item to provide usability and SEO benefit.
Best Practices for Writing Sales Copy
Sales copy is all about being compelling and driving the prospect to take a desired action.
Choose one product or service to sell
Have you ever seen an ad and wondered, “What are they selling?” The creator of that ad was probably trying to do too much with it, which rendered it ineffective.
To write great sales copy, you first need to decide what you are selling. It’s often best to focus on one product or service in your sales copy. Anything more and your copy won’t be clear.
You don’t generally find success writing copy to sell everything your company offers – or your company as a whole. This often leads to the generation of vague copy, which doesn’t help to sell a prospect on a brand, product, or service.
By choosing a single focal point, you can capture your audience’s attention, and tailor your message to support the notion that the brand and specific offering you’re touting is the best solution for your reader.
Choose one target audience
If your business serves multiple audiences or buying personas, choose one to sell to. This helps clarify your message and helps you target effectively.
Just like choosing a single product or service is the best path forward in sales copy creation, so too is a single audience.
For example, if you are selling software or IT services, there are dozens of audiences that may be interested in those offerings, from government entities to sole proprietorships or corporations.
But these audiences are not created equal – your software may be beneficial to all of these audiences, but they aren’t often beneficial in the same ways. And trying to express all the ways your products can help all types of businesses or individuals creates clutter in your messaging.
Choosing one target audience also allows you to really drill down into the benefits that make the business and its offerings the perfect solution for a specific reader.
You’ve heard it before: Promote benefits, not features. This is because your target audience cares more about what your product or service can do for them than they do about all the bells and whistles you built into your product or service.
Think about it like this: let’s say a car manufacturer finds a way to optimize the tire pressure and maintain good wheel alignment by utilizing a new tool or material from the latest studies and prototypes out of Canada. As a driver, you will probably care less about that process, but be more interested in the fact that it improves the car’s gas mileage, saving you money and reducing wear and tear on those parts of the car. These benefits are powerful and while the process and features are great to know, they likely won’t be a huge selling point for your potential customer.
Another way to think about this is to focus on results. A common example is a construction or interior home design business that features before and after images. The results from the remodel or construction are tangible and create specific feelings in those who see them.
Once you draw the prospect in with the results, they will click to learn “how” to get those results. When they do, they will explore your product or service features to see if it aligns with what they’re looking for.
The takeaway here is that sales copy is about grabbing attention and maintaining it to get to the next step.
End with a clear CTA
The action you want your prospect to make might not always be to make a sale. Sometimes your CTA helps move the prospect down the marketing or sales funnel. As such, your CTA gives the prospect their next step.
Focus on creating clear instructions and prompts for what you want your prospect to do. Do you want them to click a link that will take them to a product page? Read your latest blog article? Sign up for your newsletter to receive 10% off their first purchase? Book a consultation or free demo? It’s easier to direct a prospect than it is to give them too many (or not enough) options for where to go next.
Keep it simple
When drafting sales copy, use simple words and keep the focus simple. Complex messaging only confuses prospects and turns them away.
When in doubt, use smaller, simpler words and ideas. Effective sales copy doesn’t have to be catchy and should never be complex.
For example, try using active voice instead of passive (say “Explore our membership packages” instead of “We offer a few different options for membership,”) and keep sentences short and to the point.
Best Practices for Creating Lead Magnets
When determining the format and topic of your lead magnet, keep these best practices in mind:
- Provide a solution to a problem your target audience is already aware of. This is key. If your audience doesn’t know they have this problem, they won’t download your lead magnet.
- Create a lead magnet specific to your target audience. If you serve multiple audiences, you might need multiple lead magnets.
- Make a unique lead magnet to promote each product or service you offer. The primary content of the lead magnet should connect directly to and lead into your CTA. If you offer multiple products or services, you may need multiple lead magnets.
- Create a lead magnet for each stage in the funnel. This is important for businesses with longer sales funnels. In general, these are the best lead magnet types for each stage in the marketing funnel:
- Awareness: Ebooks, templates, checklists, and webinars
- Interest: This stage works best with other marketing assets, like emails, blogs, and social media.
- Desire: Use cases, resource guides, and demos
- Action: White paper, case studies, data sheets, workbooks, free trials, discounts
Tip: If you are creating your first lead magnet or only have time to create one, create a lead magnet that will be the most profitable by focusing on your largest target audience and your hottest-selling product or service.
If you already have lead magnets in place but they are not performing as well as you would like, try bundling or restructuring them.
Bonus Tip: Try not to use dated references in your lead magnet content. Unless you are updating your lead magnet frequently after it’s been created, any predictive comments (“by 2025, XYZ is expected to take place in your industry) and other insights with a date attached will quickly pass. Your lead magnet can then feel outdated to new prospects, even if most of the content within it is evergreen.
Drafting ebook content
Our typical ebook approach is to identify a relevant topic that provides answers to questions the audience is actively searching for. Since ebooks are typically used as lead magnets, it’s important that the content cannot be found in a lot of other places, especially publicly. Ideally, this content will be viewed as the go-to resource on the topic, providing answers to the audience’s questions and then leading them to a solution (i.e. products or services) to their problem.
Include a title and a table of contents at the beginning, and a conclusion at the end with a CTA driving your readers to the next phase in the sales cycle.
Best Practices for Planning Sitemaps
Before you build a website, you will want to plan a sitemap.
The sitemap of a website is just the outline or hierarchy of the pages. Essentially, you are outlining the main menu and its sub-pages. The sitemap does not include the footer menu.
For most businesses, it is best to create a 3-level sitemap for your website. You may be able to limit that to 2 levels. This helps create a user-friendly website that also helps web crawlers find your content.
When planning a sitemap, use > to denote subpages. For example:
- Services > Website Design
- Services > Website Design > Website Production
In this example, Website Design is a sub-page of Services, and Website Production is a sub-page of the Website Design sub-page. When the website is developed, the Services page will be in the main menu and the Website Design page will be available in the drop-down menu under Services.
For most sitemaps, you will want these pages:
- Services or Products
- Resources or Blog
In most cases, you want to use the commonly used word for the page as it increases usability on the website. For example, if you have a name for your blog, call it “Blog” or “Articles” in the sitemap/menu so new website visitors know what it is they are clicking on. You may want to look at other websites in your industry – even your competitor’s websites – to see what pages and verbiage are most commonly used.
Before drafting a new sitemap for a website, review your current website, if you have one. Is there a solid main menu in place? Is there a footer menu in place? In some cases, this menu will be reusable with a few minor changes. In other cases, it’s best to overhaul the menu to follow best practices.
After you have planned your sitemap, you will then draft website content based on each of the pages listed in your sitemap. When the content is drafted and finalized, it’s time to move forward with designing the website using that sitemap to build the main menu and structure for the website and using the content to flesh out the different pages.
Best Practices for Writing Website Copy
Your website content is integral to the success of your business. This is often true for physical businesses as well as e-commerce businesses. And studies have shown that consumers trust websites more than even a Google My Business page – no matter how small a business is, a website has become a necessity.
And website copy is the foundation of your website. Pictures and videos are great, but they don’t help SEO rankings as much as text content does.
Write with the Audience in Mind
Website copy is written to appeal to specific people, not to everyone. Because of that, it’s important to write for your target audience in a way that is engaging and familiar to them. For example, a restaurant business can structure its site however they please, but there should be clear links or navigation that allow visitors to easily view menus, operating hours, and online ordering processes on all devices.
A software business, however, will need to speak to a different audience and in a different way. An IT website’s copy will be more educational – a food item on a menu is easier to understand than complex cybersecurity software, and your copy should reflect that.
Break Things Up
Many website visitors browse a single web page in less than 10 seconds. Capturing their attention in this short time often means breaking content up and making it easy to skim or scan.
Headings, subheadings, bullet points, typographical emphasis (font size, bold and italic text, underlining, etc.), and the use of ample white (blank) space is a great way to create movement on the page for visitors and to direct them to the content they’re looking for as they’re skimming.
Short, compelling paragraphs and action-driven headlines are often the best way to keep visitors from bouncing from one page to another.
Keep Things Positive
Positive website copy increases brand trust and helps highlight that the business is solutions-focused. Conversational language is also often the best approach – overuse of jargon and complicated descriptions are going to hinder website performance.
But there is a balance – positive copy for a law firm will likely be less conversational than for an online women’s clothing boutique, but the point is to connect with your audience in a meaningful way and to relate to potential customers.
We mentioned earlier that today’s website visitors are looking to skim and scan their way through your page – that means keeping your copy concise. Short and direct is often the best practice for website copy, especially the standard pages including Home, About Us, Contact, What We Do, etc.
This can also help with SEO. If you are providing the information your audience is looking for, performance metrics increase, and you can rank well for more keywords when you incorporate them into the copy correctly.
Add Links and Clear CTAs
Internal and external links are a powerful way to enhance a page’s brevity – if you are talking about a business’s range of products or services, create separate pages for the detailed descriptions, and link to those when you mention the products on other pages. It’s important not to duplicate the same information on multiple web pages – this creates redundancies and takes away from your user experience.
Optimizing user experience through the strategic use of links and calls-to-action (CTAs) can help drive your visitors to complete the preferred actions like signing up for an email list, scheduling a consultation, or purchasing a product.
The simplest format for creating great CTAs is to start with a verb and follow with a targeted phrase like:
- Sign Up for a Free Trial
- Learn More
- Order Yours Today
- Schedule a Demo
Best Practices for Writing Copy for Graphic Designers & Website Developers
As a writer, it’s important to keep two audiences in mind when writing copy: 1) the intended audience of the deliverable and 2) the people who will design that deliverable.
This is important because you can help the website developers or graphic designers you work with to provide a streamlined experience for them.
One of the best ways to help designers is to clearly separate content sections so they know how to design around the content when creating the final deliverable.
When writing short ideas that can be designed in a variety of creative ways, list words or phrases in bullet point format. This will allow the designer to get creative with that list – or they can choose to keep the content in list format.
Statistically, email is still one of the most cost-effective forms of content marketing. There are several strategies that exist to foster email marketing efforts, and they often start with the creation of lead magnets, a form of content that is offered to people who visit a business’s website in exchange for their email address and the opportunity for that brand to send them email campaigns.
Let’s go through the workflow for creating great email campaigns from subject lines to lead magnets, segmentation, and more.
Best Practices for Writing Email Content
When it comes to writing email content, you want to make sure that you are writing directly to the audience you are writing for. Act as if you are writing to one person because that is how the recipient will read it.
For all emails
For most types of emails, you will want to include 1 main section per email. This section should have a featured image, header, a paragraph of content, and a button (with a CTA).
Having only one CTA helps drive more clicks and conversions, so create the email with one CTA.
The goal is to make sure everything in an email is catered to the audience and helps you either sell something or build trust with your audience.
Promotional emails should focus solely on that promotion and nothing else. Keep the content short and focused on whatever you are selling or sharing.
Sequenced email campaigns
For most sequenced email campaigns, you will want to set up the schedule or trigger for the first email so it sends right away. For the remaining emails, consider the sales cycle involved with selling that product or service and then space out the emails according to that timeline.
For example, an everyday consumer product may have a short sales cycle while a B2B SaaS will have a longer sales cycle. Some sales cycles may even be seasonal.
Alternatively, some emails will be sent based on triggers and events.
Unlike promotional emails and sequenced email campaigns, newsletters typically include about 3 sections per email. Each section should have a featured image, header, a paragraph of preview content, and a button (with a CTA).
Before you begin drafting a newsletter, choose a topic for the email and then find related content to share on that topic. This may be based on a specific product or service you want to feature or the latest blog article.
Our team finds that promoting a product or service at the top of the email is usually the most effective for driving conversions. Those who are ready to buy, will. And those who aren’t ready to buy are more likely to keep scrolling to view the rest of your newsletter.
For the bottom 2-3 sections, share blog articles that are relevant to the audience. Ideally, showcase the most recent blog articles from your website. If you don’t have recent articles, find relevant ones according to the chosen topic. If you don’t have a blog on your website, find third-party (not competitor) articles that are relevant. This helps inform your audience on topics related to your business.
When sharing third-party articles, end the email with a contact section. Since the email doesn’t just direct to your website, make sure there is a way for the audience to take their next step with your business, whether that is purchasing for the first time or buying again.
Best Practices for Designing Emails
When it comes to designing emails, there are a lot of best practices to consider. But, in most cases, keeping the design simple and minimal helps your audience focus on the content and then take the action you want them to take.
Start designing with these best practices:
- When you type text, make sure you use a 16-pixel font. Ideally, 20.
- Use buttons for CTAs. Make them at least 44 pixels.
- Don’t embed videos. Add an image and hyperlink it to a video hosted elsewhere, like on YouTube, Vimeo, or your website.
- Never create all-image emails. Some people in your audience might have images turned off.
- Likewise, limit the amount of text in an image. Make sure a text-only version of the email is readable and actionable.
- If you’re not a designer, use a template to design your emails. Use a cohesive template for all emails for a cohesive look your audience gets to know and can expect.
- In most cases, you will use a one-column design. The exceptions to this rule include when you are featuring multiple products in an email or when you are adding a menu to the email.
- Use your brand colors throughout the email.
- Make sure your logo is at the top of the email.
- People are accustomed to clicking images to visit your website, so be sure to hyperlink every image and logo within the email.
- Stick to two or fewer typefaces. Keep the fonts easy to read from any device.
- Create emails that are 600 pixels wide.
Best Practices for Drafting Subject Lines
When you’ve finished designing your email, it’s time to draft the subject line and preview text and set the sender name. Here are a few best practices to employ before you schedule that email.
Subject line best practices
When writing a subject line, make sure it accurately prepares the recipient for opening your email. If you make a promise in your subject line, fulfill it in the email.
Name your offer in the subject line. Inform them of what they can expect in the email and then deliver.
Or you can pique the reader’s interest by using the curiosity gap. Hook your audience with just enough information to make them curious while making them open the email to satisfy their curiosity.
Keep it short: Keep the subject line to 9 words or fewer. Ideally, 30 characters or fewer is best so it can be read on mobile.
Never say “newsletter” in the subject line of a newsletter.
Avoid spammy words, such as:
- Apply now
- Auto email removal
- Cash bonus
- Compare rates
- Double your income
- Earn $
- Earn extra cash
- Eliminate debt
- Explode your business
- Extra income
- Fast cash
Use a maximum of one exclamation point.
Use a maximum of one emoji. When using an emoji, add it to the end of the subject line. Do not replace a word with an emoji.
Use numbers, if applicable. Use the numeral; do not write out the numbers.
Capitalize the first letter of each word in the subject line. Do not capitalize all letters.
Be sure to test the subject line and preview text to see what they will look like on multiple devices. This helps you write shorter, clearer content.
Preview text best practices
Remember to customize the preview text. Include at least 40 characters in the preview text. Ideally, include 100 characters in the preview text for desktop views, but make sure the first 35 characters pack a punch.
Make sure you don’t repeat the subject line in the preview text.
Sender name best practices
Personalize the sender name. For example, Name from Brand. Stick with 20-25 characters.
Sender email best practices
Be sure to use a different email address for your marketing emails and your order confirmation emails. That way, if someone opts out of your marketing emails, they will still receive order confirmations.
Similarly, use a different email address for your customers to email you for support and other requests.
Don’t use a “no-reply” email address.
Create a BIMI record
Have you noticed that some senders have their logo next to their sender name in your email inbox? This is a BIMI. A BIMI can help improve deliverability and brand recognition. Here’s how to create a BIMI record.
Best Practices for Building Email Lists
Email marketing ROI is higher than most other marketing channels – for every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return is more than $40. Email list building can be done in several ways.
Some of the most popular methods for building email lists include offering content upgrades, exit intent popups, full or partially gated content, loyalty and referral programs, discounts and other promotional offers, exclusive access or notifications, and social media.
Our typical strategy is to build lists by creating an attractive lead magnet on the business’s website.
This works on several levels. In exchange for their email, your visitor gets valuable insights and helpful content from you for free. And lead magnet content is a great place to subtly tout your business and its positioning in your industry or marketplace. Lastly, opt-in strategies work best to capture the most active email lists – your potential customers are coming to you and requesting that you send them content.
To maximize your lead magnet and opt-in email captures, it’s important to create a signup form that is easy to fill out, both on desktop and mobile. And to keep your email list healthy, we recommend purging inactive email addresses from your list regularly. Depending on the size and activity of your lists, the best practice is to clean your email lists at least every six months. To keep your lists in tip-top shape, we’d recommend cleaning your list every 3 months.
If your business has a storefront, you can also capture emails during checkout by offering signups for rewards programs, newsletters, or monthly deals. Some businesses also choose to offer giveaways (in-store and on their social media pages) to help grow their lists.
Best Practices for Sending Emails
For most of your email marketing efforts, you will want to schedule the emails. This means creating them in advance and then scheduling them to send on a specific day at a specific time. This not only helps you save time because you can do all of your email marketing work via time blocking, but it also forces you to plan your email campaigns, which means they can align with your other marketing efforts and create a cohesive message and experience for your target audience.
Send schedule best practices
You’ve probably been told to schedule emails on Tuesday mornings for the most opens, but that best practice is outdated. The truth is you need to find the best time to send your emails to your unique audience. This calls for testing send days and times by enabling email tracking and experimenting until you see consistent opens – but also watch for clicks and conversions as you may want to find the optimal send schedule based on conversions rather than opens. And then test some more as your email list grows.
Resend to non-openers
When appropriate, replicate the email and resend it to non-openers. In many cases, this practice can increase your overall click rate and conversion rate. Resending to non-openers is a great practice to use and test on your most important emails.
Send frequency best practices
It’s best to send emails two to five times per month (sending one per week).
However, take this best practice with a grain of salt. The best frequency for your email list will depend on your industry, your buying cycle, what types of emails (promotions, educational, etc.) you’re sending, and your audience’s preferences. The goal is to keep top-of-mind for your customers without annoying them, so monitor how your campaigns perform and adjust accordingly.
For your resend campaigns to non-openers, you should typically wait 2-4 days before resending. Depending on your audience, you can wait up to a week to resend a campaign. The trick here is sending them close enough together that your campaign isn’t forgotten, but not so close that your audience gets a resend before they’ve had a reasonable amount of time to see, open, and explore the original email.
Let your audience choose their preferred frequency
If you serve multiple audiences or customer profiles, you may want to consider letting your audience choose their preferred send frequency. They can choose this when they subscribe or by clicking a link in your email to “update their preferences.” Just be sure to set up a profile preference form that your audience can access in every email.
Send to the right segment
It’s best to curate email campaigns for one specific audience. If you have multiple segments, it’s best to write the email for one segment and then send it only to that segment. This will provide the highest conversion rate without annoying the rest of your list with emails that they won’t be interested in.
You can segment your list in your opt-in form and on the profile preferences form.
Test before scheduling
Always test before scheduling an email campaign. You can send a test email to yourself to ensure that personalizations work properly and to view it in your inbox. You can also use a tool like Email on Acid to see how a campaign will look across multiple email services and devices.
Best Practices for Email Sequences
Email sequences are created to help businesses retain customers, increase revenue, and automate crucial parts of the customer journey. They are a sequence of automated emails meant to follow certain actions and timelines.
Email sequences allow you to capture customers and prospects at specific points in their interactions with your brand and are automated and scheduled for maximum impact. Because of that, creating content is a bit more complex for a sequence than it is for a drip campaign or a single promotional or educational email.
Common Email Sequences
There are many different types of email sequences, but there are a few that have become a sort of standard for many businesses and their email marketing strategies.
Welcome email sequences are used to communicate with new subscribers. This is often a brand’s first direct interaction with them. The best practice here is to have at least two emails in the sequence: the first is that greeting, and the second is aimed at persuading your audience to connect again – usually through a specific CTA linking to a web page or other brand assets.
Onboarding Email Sequence Best Practices
Onboarding sequences are one step up from a welcome sequence in terms of complexity and engagement. These sequences typically start with a welcome email and move into emails defining the next steps: maybe you want to share how to set up accounts, outline a brand’s philosophy or customer expectations, and more.
From there, you will move into emails that may discuss email verification processes, steps for completing a purchase, or similar topics. The final email in this sequence often leads to a final and very compelling CTA – this is the email that sends your customer forth to thrive with the help of your brand’s products or services. Onboarding sequences typically have about 3-5 emails.
Abandoned Cart Sequence Best Practices
Abandoned cart email sequences are important for businesses with an e-commerce focus because they have always been effective at increasing sales. The first email is a simple reminder (“You left something behind!”) that there are items in a digital cart and the user didn’t finish the transaction. If that goes unanswered and the customer doesn’t purchase, you can send a second reminder if they haven’t checked out after the first email was sent. And the final email can be sent with an extra incentive – it’s typically a reminder plus a discount to nudge a customer in the direction of a sale.
3-4 emails spaced out based on industry and email marketing standards tend to work best. The general rule is that if the item is consumable or has a lower price point, the emails can be sent about a week apart. For larger or more involved purchases, like a car or expensive equipment, this timeline may not be as well suited.
Renewal Email Sequence Best Practices
Renewal email sequences are another great revenue driver. Subscription model businesses are highly popular and there are several things a renewal sequence can do for a business. First, it shows that the business is transparent – they aren’t hiding their renewal and cancellation procedures in an effort to keep people subscribed even when they don’t want to be.
It’s best to send 1-2 reminder emails before the renewal date, 1 to inform the customer that the subscription has ended (or been renewed if there are auto-renew protocols in place), and 1 final email to seek feedback and reviews (this is valuable in both cases – where the renewal is automated and when the subscription has ended).
Lead Nurturing Email Sequence Best Practices
A lead nurturing email sequence is often used to increase conversions and target a newer audience and help them begin a mutually beneficial customer journey with your brand. The goal of this sequence is to start with leads and make them customers by the end. Like other sequences, you’ll want to stick to one pertinent topic per email, and those topics can include educational content for your industry, “did you know” content about your business, features, and benefits of a specific product line or service, and more.
Because you are trying to build momentum and engagement with this sequence, the best practice here is to send 3-5 emails at a frequency of 1 email per day (or every few days).
Best Practices for Chatbot Setup
Chatbots help foster loyalty and engagement for all website visitors. They also offer an interactive customer service option that is available 24/7.
In most cases, chatbots are used to help visitors find the answers to common questions about a brand. But they can also be used to identify leads, create an automated outreach and follow-up tool, and more.
The first thing you should do to start creating and setting up your chatbot is to list business pain points and problems, and this is often done by identifying three CTAs – most often these are website pages (contact form, product or services page, etc.) – you want to drive your visitors to.
Chatbots (especially those that are fully automated and not working alongside a human counterpart, usually in a customer service role) are a perfect quick way to help your visitors with common issues and inquiries. Other more complex conversations should be initiated and carried out via email, phone calls, or other non-automated means.
Here are some main things to consider as you craft chatbot content:
- How does the chatbot fit into the broader website strategy?
- What specific issues are you aiming to solve with the chatbot?
- Who is most likely to interact with the chatbot? Customers with issues, website visitors who are new to the brand, etc.
- What are the short-term and long-term goals for the chatbot?
Quick Tips for Writing Chatbot Content
Be concise. Simple answers are better than long explanations. It’s better to use the chatbot to answer a customer’s question and then direct them to a landing page or resource with more in-depth information than it is to try and condense several paragraphs into a chatbot conversation.
Craft a strong opening message. This message is an introduction to the business’s brand, services, and customer service style. Your greeting is the first impression – and it needs to be a good one.
Focus on a simple flow. This helps achieve a higher GCR (goal completion rate). Here’s an example: we often hear people complaining about how long an automated phone system is. People want to get to their solution in fewer interactions and less time.
Brand sentiment is more important than ever. Businesses must foster a strong brand voice and reputation to stay competitive, and to weather the storms that may come as a result of operating in a public space, whether online or at a physical location.
Public relations is the process of managing how information is spread about a brand to the public. This includes things like reviews, videos, brand-generated content, and more.
Businesses must foster a strong brand voice and reputation to stay competitive, and to weather the storms that may come because they must operate in a public space, whether online or at a physical location.
Media outreach, influencer partnerships, and monitoring reviews and social media channels are just a few of the ways a business can foster positive brand sentiment and grow its customer base.
Best Practices for Brand Positioning & Messaging
Brand positioning is internal – it outlines the features of a brand that sets it apart in its industry, and why they’re different than other brands in the same industry. And brand messaging is the set of guidelines you follow to keep your external brand voice consistent across platforms and marketing efforts.
These core tenants are at the heart of all our teams’ efforts – we use them in the member profile to guide all projects, regardless of the specialty that the project falls under. And solidifying a company’s brand positioning and messaging is often one of the first projects we complete for a new member here at SharedTEAMS.
For brand positioning, we research the brand’s competitors, which either are identified for us by the member or our communications team identifies within the project. And through that process, we create a SWOT analysis of the brand’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. This helps us create marketing strategies and campaigns that can capitalize on these strengths and reduce the effect the weaknesses and threats may have.
Things to consider when developing brand positioning:
- Customer wants and needs
- Customer pain points and what successful solutions look like – what are the current problems your customers face and how do they want them to be solved? In what way does your brand’s product or service solve it for them?
- Competitor products, pricing, messaging
For brand messaging, our goal is to create guidelines and best practices that translate a brand’s positioning into a targeted, consistent, and recognizable brand voice.
We typically choose three brand pillars – these are notable features of the brand that differentiate it from its competition. This could be things like affordability, unique or quality design, versatility, and more.
Once the pillars are defined, we work through the messaging. The best practice is to have a main idea that describes the messaging (for example, “XYZ Pet Products’ voice is wholesome and upbeat, your go-to for all things animal and uplifting.”). This sentiment is often fleshed out with three main adjectives that describe the messaging style. These adjectives should be closely related to the brand pillars our communications team previously identified.
It’s important to keep in mind that a brand may have a few different audiences – and these audiences may need different messaging to speak to their needs. But the overall brand voice should not change, and the messaging should still be guided by the brand pillars. A brand shouldn’t communicate with one audience as an informative, timeless, and practical brand, and with another as a sassy, trendy, and luxurious brand. The brand pillars should always be consistent.
Best Practices for Creating Online Business Listings
Business descriptions are important touchpoints for consumers looking for specific kinds of businesses via search engines. Most often, these descriptions come into play in Google My Business (GMB), a listing platform that business owners can create or claim that is connected to the search engine as well as Google Maps.
Here’s a step-by-step process for optimizing or creating your business listing:
- Review NAP information – Name, address, phone number. It’s important to keep this information correct to help the business maintain its credibility across digital platforms.
- Add or review Business description and category – this should tell searchers who you are, what you do, and who you do it for. Choosing the correct category helps you rank in Google searches. Develop a keyword list and include those keywords that have the most potential.
- Add your products and services – include the best photos and your product names.
- Add photos of your business – there are “Cover” and “Logo” areas in the GMB profile. Select a photo for your cover and logo; check this link for up-to-date sizing details. You can also add images of your business (interior and exterior) and your staff.
- List Special Attributes – you can share the amenities and features your business offers, which can include things like public or gender-neutral restrooms, and information about the business (woman-owned, black-owned, pet-friendly, etc.)
Media Outreach Best Practices
Media outreach can be beneficial in modern marketing. The trick is knowing how to do it right.
To conduct media outreach, you need to:
- Draft news releases or pitches
- Identify media outlets or personnel who would be interested in those assets
- Contact media personnel
This is an ongoing process.
News releases should be about timely, newsworthy topics. Topics should typically include things like big changes at your business:
- Branding changes
- Leadership changes
- Product and service launches
These types of news releases should focus on what the change offers your audience. Be sure to include quotes from relevant leaders and individuals.
To keep your business name in the news between big changes, you can also identify relevant topics related to your industry and audience, and then provide the brand’s response to that topic. This can be observances, trends, or news.
When you respond to a topic, you don’t necessarily need quotes from company leadership. If you don’t use quotes, then you need to do some research to back up your claims in the news release.
Identifying media outlets
When identifying media outlets, aim for a mixture of larger and smaller outlets located within your target geographic location. This helps optimize the probability that your news will get published.
Pay attention to what media outlets are and have been publishing, including whether or not they have submission requirements. Some media outlets require businesses to purchase ads to get their news releases published. Other media outlets may only accept pitches, be interested in specific topics or industries, or want news releases to be formatted in a specific way.
If you want to reach specific media personnel, pay attention to their beat and what pieces they have previously published. Make sure your news release or pitch aligns with what they usually work on.
Contacting media outlets
The most important thing to know about media outreach is that it’s very important to build relationships with media personnel before you start submitting pitches and news releases to them.
You can do this locally in person or online via social media. Follow them, comment on their posts, and pay attention when they request specific pieces or pitches. After a while, they will recognize your name, so they will be more likely to receive your pitches and publish news releases.
You can contact media personnel out of the blue by sending them a pitch or news release, but doing so may be less effective.
Social media is great for building relationships with media personnel, but to submit pieces, you will want to use email. Create a media-specific email address for your business for all media inquiries (inbound and outreach).
You can also email media personnel to build relationships with them, so they later recognize your email address. Tell them how much you liked their last article or ask poignant questions about specific articles, for example. This will help build rapport.
When you submit news releases and pitches, never attach a document or image to your email (they often get flagged as spam). Instead, link to those documents, which you save in the cloud. Make sure the file settings are set to “anyone with the link can view” so media personnel can open and copy the content you send them.