5 Best tools for creating visual content

mia-baker-322559.jpg

Content design is becoming increasingly accessible to those without years of training and professional qualifications. Not having the budget to employ a graphic designer doesn’t mean that the quality of your visual content has to suffer.

After my previous article ‘Heidi's guide: Repurposing a blog article into an infographic’, a number of you got in touch to find out what I used to create infographics and other types of content. That is why I have put together a list of the 5 best tools that I have found useful when creating visuals for social media. These websites and software come in a range of prices and require different levels of skill and expertise.

Now you have no excuses for not keeping your online platforms topped-up with eye-catching content!

Adobe Photoshop

Link: http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/photoshop.html?promoid=PC1PQQ5T&mv=other

Cost: From £9.98 per month

Skill level: Advanced

Great for:

Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard software for graphic designers and photographers. Its main use is for editing photographs and creating web graphics. It’s perfect for changing image colours, applying filters or adding special effects. However, designs in photoshop are made up of a series of pixels and therefore there is a limit to how much you can scale a design or image up or down. This software might not be ideal for creating infographics but will allow you to make even the most intricate edits to your Instagram snaps or Facebook photos.

Photoshop is not an easy software to master, however, Adobe provides an array of training videos to help get you started.

Venngage

Link: https://venngage.com/

Cost: Some features free for individuals or $39+ per month for businesses

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate

Great for:

Venngage provides customisable templates for infographics, presentations, reports and social media images. The site allows you to add in your own brand colours and images. While it offers a number of free templates, you need a paid account in order to download your designs. Templates are also labelled with the level of skill needed to edit them, helping you to distinguish between basic and more complex designs. However, more advanced designers may find this site to be a little restrictive.

Venngage is a great, time-saving tool for marketing professionals who need visual content for their online channels. Here is a tutorial on how to use the site’s many tools and features.

Adobe Illustrator

Link:  http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/illustrator.html?sdid=KKQPG&mv=search&s_kwcid=AL!3085!10!79027407095432!79027416398006&ef_id=WZrUegAAAdftf9Yx:20170830151715:s

Cost: From £19.97 per month

Skill level: Advanced

Great for:

Adobe Illustrator is another industry standard software for graphic designers. However, unlike Photoshop, designs are vector-based. This makes it ideal for creating logos, icons, typography and illustrations. Being vector based means that designs will not look pixelated when scaled up or down.  If you are short on time this program isn’t ideal, however, it allows you to create intricate designs that are truly unique to your brand.

It is worth taking a training course if you are committed to becoming a more professional visual designer.  However, Adobe offers a range of tutorials on their website.

Canva

Link: https://www.canva.com/

Cost: Basic package free or $9.95+ per month for businesses

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate

Great for:

Canva offers templates for a huge range of visual content. From banners, brochures and book covers to infographics, tickets and social media headers. If you are looking to keep all of your brand designs and visual content in one location, this site is ideal. The ‘Canva for work’ feature allows you to collaborate with team members, upload your brand kit and keep a folder of images within the editor. Canva is also available to download as an iPad app, meaning that you can work on your designs on the go.

It is easy to get started with creating content, with templates available in the recommended file size for most types of visuals. However, it is worth checking out Canva’s design school to learn about everything the site has to offer!

Piktochart

Link: https://piktochart.com/

Cost: Basic package free or $12.50+ per month for pro version

Skill level: Beginner to intermediate

Great for:

Piktochart’s main use is for creating high-quality infographics. It features editable templates and gives you access to thousands of icons and images to add to your designs. One unique feature that this site offers is the ability to import data from Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheet. This is a handy tool when creating visual charts to show off statistics and figures.

Piktochart is simple to use for even the most novice designer, here is a video tutorial, especially for beginners.

If you have found any of these tools useful for creating content, we would love to see your masterpieces! Tweet them to us @WinboxLtd.

Need a little inspiration for creating a visual and informative piece of content? Take a look at our Email Marketing for Winners eBook.

There is nothing wrong with being a work in progress

mountaineering-2040824_1280.jpg

There is nothing wrong with being a work in progress.

How many times do we put off taking an action, making a move or pushing forward with our plans – because we ‘are not ready’.

We seem to crave perfection – but the truth is that there will never be a right time to do anything – but, we procrastinate.

Why?

Great question!

Having given this some thought, I put it down to these things;

  • It is far more painful to change – than to stay as you are – so we keep in our comfort zone.

  • We fear rejection or failure.

  • The judgment of others terrifies us.

  • We suffer from imposter syndrome – ‘who am I to do this…’.

  • We believe that we are not good, worthy or able enough.

Do you spot the commonality here?

It is all YOUR internal dialogue.

It’s the story and narrative that you are telling yourself.

If you tell yourself these things enough – you end up believing them as if they are fact.

Scary eh?

So, with that in mind – it’s better to start, get stuff done and try all those things you have been waiting for ‘the right time’ to do.

Because, the risk of trying is far outweighed by the risk of you reaching a time in your life where you are left wondering ‘what could have been’.

But what if other people are telling you all the above?

Well – that’s just THEIR opinion!  That’s their own narrative, story and beliefs that they are reflecting on to you!

It says everything about THEM and nothing about YOU.

When I first started speaking about my experiences and struggles with Mental Health – namely OCD, GAD & Anxiety – it was basically ‘cheap therapy’ – I was using public speaking to help get myself better – and the fact that I was helping others along the way, was a real bonus.

BUT – as soon as I went through my own barrier – where I no longer suffered with OCD or my GAD – I continued to speak because of my passion to help others and actually – I love doing it!

So – in kicks ‘imposter syndrome’ – saying to myself ‘who am I to speak about this?’ – ‘I am not trained or a medical professional’ and the like.

In fact, even some ‘well-meaning others’ were asking me the same thing – so some would see that as validation.

BUT – after every speaking gig I was doing – I was getting tens of people telling me how it had positively impacted their lives and how refreshing it was to see a man standing up, stepping up and talking about Mental Health.

So I knew that I was doing the right thing – I pushed through – I worked with my inner narrative and built a whole business plan around it!

I decided to partner with others who are medically or professionally trained – so that I can bring the raw experience – as well as the solutions and techniques that my partners bring.

So – I ask you…think of that inner critic – or even the outer ones – and see it for what it is – a safety mechanism designed to keep us in our comfort zone!

Work with your fears and challenges – be honest, be open and start NOW!

Formulise a plan that works with your fears!

Because, we are all work in progress – and we will all continue to be as well – so I beg you – step up, speak up and try that thing that you have been sitting on for ‘the right time’.

Your time is now!

Go get ‘em, tiger!

Until next month….

Nick Elston

‘The Anxiety Guy’ & Founder of Talking Anxiety

www.nickelston.com

3 BIG reasons why you should be using dynamic content in your email campaigns

macbook-606763_1280.jpg

The first person to click ‘send’ on a commercial marketing email was one Gary Thuerk, marketing manager at Digital Equipment Corp. This was way back in 1978, when people were still called Gary, and marketing was essentially a gloopy trifle of direct mailouts, phone calls and face-to-face meetings.

Although it would be another 13 years before the internet exploded, Gary’s eureka moment was a groundbreaking event for digital communication, winning Digital Equipment Corp $13 million in sales and opening the door to a whole new era of marketing.

Fast-forward to 2004, when the three big digital players — AOL, Yahoo and Hotmail — had their own eureka moment and began gathering information about their users, heralding the start of the data-driven marketing revolution. With this gold dust the ubiquitous mass email was given the Midas touch, transforming it into the flexible marketing tool we know today.

With billions of marketing emails sent daily, the medium has had to evolve and become more sophisticated to continue being effective. Dynamic content is the latest in a long line of email personalisation tactics; it’s aim, to deliver different types of content to different people, depending on their preferences.

So, if you’re not already using it, here are the 3 big reasons to go dynamic…

1. People only get the content they want

The key word here is relevance. A lovely bookshop recently sent me an email, addressing me by my first name, entitled ‘The Autumn List: 25% off our manager’s specials’; an editorial run-down of the best new reads complete with a glorious autumnal image. They had me at ‘Autumn’. I clicked, I clicked again, I bought.

By utilising my previous purchase history and the time at which I made those purchases, they were able to send me a tailored email which led to a sale, proving the power of dynamic content. While a generic email can easily be relegated to the trash, studies have shown that even just personalising an email subject line makes it 26% more likely to be opened. In a nutshell, you need to know what makes your subscriber tick and make them feel like you’re talking directly to them.

According to The Aberdeen Group, emails with dynamic content improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10%, so for the most effective email marketing campaign, keep it relevant.

2. Your message will be more focussed

There’s a lot of noise out there. To break through it, you need a clear and focussed message that will engage your recipients instead of alienating them. Using dynamic content is the perfect way to keep your emails on-point and ensure your voice is heard, especially if you’re promoting a particular service or product.

Jim, a 52 year property owner and landlord from Stoke Newington, probably doesn’t want to hear about a one bedroom flat to rent in Edinburgh. However, Mary who is looking for a flat in Edinburgh probably does. When you want to address (or exclude) particular segments of your mailing list, dynamic content allows you to target the most suitable recipients so you don’t end up bombarding poor old Jim with the specifics of your rental properties. It's a win:win scenario: your campaigns gain clarity and focus, your customers are happy and your conversion rates go in the right direction.

3. Your buyer journey is serviced

Last time I checked my phone contacts list, it was a spectacular combination of family, friends, people I hadn’t seen for years and people I could barely remember. The same is probably true for most mailing lists. You don’t have the same relationship with all your recipients, so why would you send them the same content?

Mapping a customer journey can help you determine what stage they’re at, and consequently, what content you should send them. This makes your emails much more targeted and effective. While a new subscriber would probably expect a welcome email with an overview of your brand and some kind of special purchase incentive, a seasoned buyer might receive an appreciation email with a special ‘thank you’ reward. Two very different emails, potentially resulting in the same outcome: more effective engagement, stronger customer loyalty and higher returns.

Despite the rise and reach of social media and mobile apps, 68% of brands agree that email still prevails as their most effective marketing channel. This is largely due to organisations utilising the power of dynamic content to keep their campaigns relevant and targeted. So, can dynamic content improve your hit rates? Yes. Can it increase your conversion rates? Almost certainly. But this type of flexible content goes far beyond simply increasing revenue. It has the power to make your subscribers feel acknowledged, engaged and most importantly, special. And that’s the key. Nobody wants to feel like just another record on your mailing list, but get the content right and you might just have a customer for life.

For more advice on creating engaging and dynamic email campaigns, contact Winbox Ltd.

The two essentials for email marketing success

startup-photos.jpg

Choosing a business to use for a product or service is much like dating. If it turns out that you don’t trust the one you’ve chosen - or that you just don’t like them very much - there’s no chance of it being a long term partnership.

In the commercial sphere, if a customer likes what you do, trusts you and has a need for your - ahem - services, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll win their business.

Back to dating, and this likeability and trust is built via communication, whether that’s dates, texts, phone calls or Tinder messaging. It’s communication that’s key in business too, with email marketing a great way to enhance your reputation.

In both, trust and likeability can be built by how you choose to communicate...but they can also be lost if things aren’t done the right way. Want your customers and prospects to like and trust you? Here are some key ways to ensure success.

The truth about trust

Trust is key to any successful sales relationship, and it’s about mutual respect.

Certain strategies are more likely to insult than inspire, and tricking or spamming your database is a surefire route to mistrust. Multiple “we haven’t heard from you and we’re wondering why” emails over a period of time won’t inspire confidence - and neither will attempts to fool people into boosting your open rate by starting with a subject line beginning with “re:”.

And, while we’re on the subject of subjects, avoid the clickbait approach. “You won’t believe this shocking secret…” and similar have been proven to be the most likely way to encourage an instant move to the ‘delete’ button.

Instead, simply be clear. State clearly why they’re receiving emails from you, and make the unsubscribe button not only clear, but easy to use without having to jump through multiple hoops. It’ll not only increase trust, but will cement your commitment to the new GDPR regulations too.

Be clear too about the fact that your business consists of real, named people, rather than being a faceless corporate identity. Consider addressing your emails from a specific person in the company, and include company details like your address and company number somewhere in the email body or footer so recipients can research you further if needed.

Finally, we mentioned that trust is mutual - so as well as expecting your subscribers to trust you, show them how much you trust them by giving them the chance to tell you what they think. Instead of a generic ‘noreply’ email, let them reach out to you with a simple click of the ‘reply’ button, rather than having to trawl your website’s contact page. Encourage responses - both good and bad - in this way, and you’ll make them feel more valued, and gain valuable feedback that can help you to make changes to increase your trustworthiness even more.

workstation-405768_640.jpg

Love to be liked

You wouldn’t buy from a brand you didn’t trust...but equally, would you trust a brand you didn’t like? Your emails are a chance to let your brand’s personality shine through: in your content, your tone of voice, your choice of imagery.

Show your recipients who your company is: give them the chance to get to know you just as they would a new friend. Include company news or insights from the team so they feel part of the action, and consider including video, too - it’s a great way to communicate the personalities that make your brand what it is.

If humour’s relevant, then go for it - if not, then don’t: your email marketing should stay true to your overall brand image and values. And don’t forget - you’re looking for custom, so remain professional, but with personality. Robotic emails will not make customers and prospects warm to you or want to keep reading.  

The next steps

A trusted and likeable brand is one that’s likely to be chosen over its competitors - but it’s not the be all and end all. You also need to ensure that you’re top of mind when it really matters: when the customer needs to buy.

Here, it’s all about convenience. Make sure you’re in front of them when you’re most needed, with your details easy to find. Ultimately, it’s about a campaign that’s consistent and relevant. Whether you’re emailing weekly, fortnightly or monthly, ensure that your email is something your mailing list come to expect and look forward to each time.

They won’t look forward to it, however, if it’s just packed full of sales messages - instead of clicking, they’ll be more likely to hit delete. Marketing emails don’t need to sell overtly every single time. Focus on providing content that’s relevant to your offering: tips relating to your industry, white papers, competitions - and you’ll be onto a winner.

If you’re already doing all of the above, great - you’re definitely marriage material. But if you want some help in upping your game, you’ve come to the right place. Think of us at Winbox as relationship coaches - we’re waiting to hear from you...

 

21 email marketing stats for 2017

charts-925810_1280.jpg

Does email marketing really work? Is it really worth spending my time and money on? Can I really see amazing results like some of those I read about online?

Well...yes. It does, it is, and you can. Get it wrong and you may - understandably - be cynical. If your campaign is well-planned, well-timed and well-executed, however, email is an invaluable marketing comms tool which drives engagement, cements relationships and converts business.

Still not convinced? Below are 21 compelling reasons why email marketing is so important for your businesses.

Email usage

By 2019, it’s expected that 2.9 billion people will use email - that’s over a third of the global population [Radicati]

Over 205 billion emails are sent every day - a figure expected to grow by 3% each year [Radicati]

56% of all emails are opened on mobile phones or tablets [Experian]

KPIs

The four metrics of success most commonly used by marketers are click through rates, conversion rates, open rates and ROI [DMA]

The average click through rate of an email campaign is c. 3% of total recipients [Campaign Monitor]

The average ROI for every £1 spent on email marketing is £38 [DMA]

15% of marketers don’t regularly review email opens and clicks, while just 23% have integrated their website and emails to track what happens post-click [MarketingProfs]

Increasing engagement rate is the top email marketing goal for 54% of marketing influencers [Ascend2]

Enriching data quality is the most significant barrier to achieving email marketing success for 51% of email marketers [Ascend2]

78% of consumers have unsubscribed from a brand’s emails because they were sending too many [Hubspot]

Campaign design and strategy

Open rates are 14.31% higher in segmented campaigns than in non-segmented campaigns [Mailchimp]

42% of marketers across all industries don’t send targeted email messages [MarketingProfs]

51% of marketers say email list segmentation is the best personalisation tactic, while individualised email messaging is key for 50% [Ascend2]

51% of businesses now use some form of marketing automation - and 58% plan to in the future [Emailmonday]

Compared with other promotional emails, welcome emails bring in 320% more revenue per email [Easy SMTP]

Multiple abandoned cart emails make consumers 2.4 times more likely to purchase than if they just receive one [Experian]

40.4% of marketers say that coding for email is the biggest pain point in email creation [Email on Acid]

Triggered emails have a conversion rate 624% higher than “batch and blast” emails [VentureBeat]

47% of marketers state that they sometimes test different subject lines to optimise their campaigns, while 18% test different templates and email layouts [MarketingProfs]

write-593333_1280.jpg

Email copy

Nearly 80% of people say that spelling and grammatical errors are the biggest email faux pas, while around 70% say that a lack of subject line, excessive punctuation, profanity, a mix of font sizes or a subject line all in caps riled them the most [Marketing Land]

Those aged 45-64 are more receptive to funny subject lines than their younger counterparts [Marketing Land]

Congratulations on making it this far! If we haven’t yet convinced you that email marketing is king, have a read of our case studies to find out how we’ve helped businesses like Arthur McKay and Nova Associates to make a real impact with their email marketing.

 

Using social media to drive email opt-ins

There’s much ado about social media. Search Google for “social media marketing” and you’ll receive millions upon millions of results, every article telling you that it’s basically free, that spending money on it boosts results and analytics tools improve it, and it’s perfect to engage and build relationships with customers…

.. and yet Marketing Week’s Mark Ritson says social media marketing’s a waste of time and money.

How do we know who’s telling the truth? Well, you can’t answer the question of how effective social media is unless you define what you’re trying to achieve with it. Likes and shares are nice, but ultimately vanity metrics with little indication of ROI.

Compared to newsletters, social media engagement is low value. A subscriber is worth far more than a follower. The good news is, social can be used to effectively drive these subscribers.

How?

If you build it, they will come

Advertising an opt-in incentive is quick and easy through social channels. Offer discount codes, advice, ebooks, white papers, exclusive videos, invitations to webinars - basically, a premium service for anyone who opts in to your email. It works because it’s a value swap - people get something, you get their attention (and their consent to contact them again and hold their data).

Why does social work so well as a platform for email services? Data. Social media platforms hold a huge amount of data on users, which means you can target your ads more accurately than on… more or less any other platform.

If you have an ebook on email marketing (for instance), you can design a social ad on the channel your audience uses (say, LinkedIn), and then look for Marketing Directors in the geographical location, or in the industry, or in the size of company that you want to work with.

That ad will guide anyone who clicks on it to a landing page, which asks for a small amount of data (first name, last name, email address) and makes them a little bit more engaged with you and what you do.

Email bounce, open and clickthrough rates indicate who’s actually interested in your business, and who cares enough to seek out information of their own accord. Genuine conversion from follower to subscriber is incredibly difficult to pinpoint, but these three points of data together give you a pretty good indicator.

Roll up roll up!

People love freebies, and a social media competition is a tried and tested way to engage people with your brand and drive data. Whether you set up a competition to win products, services, a discount, or specialist treatment from your business, social media is perfect for generating interest.

Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all have competition guidelines - follow these, and then boost your post to get it in from of the right people. Platform algorithms and organic interest will also boost the comp further. The more likes and shares your competition receives, the further up the feeds of your customers and their followers it’ll go, which means more interest, which means more subscribers. You see where we’re going.

It’s those KPIs again. Requiring an email signup and a clickthrough confirmation means you can see exactly how many physical, human, real people are responding to your online activity. Who is genuinely looking. Who has non-bot interest!

Forthcoming Attractions

Much like the trailer for a movie, teasing your audience with the content of the next newsletter on social media means they can decide for themselves whether to sign up. Again, those who are genuinely interested will react to this and come looking for more, making it far more likely that your email database is chock full of people who want to be there. Essentially, it’s people who saw the trailer for your movie and decided to buy a ticket.

Incentives such as offering entry into further competitions, letting them know they’ll be notified of sale activity through email, and generally receive more useful and relevant information let them know you’re serious about your output, and not just willing to share it all with the masses. Making a potential customer feel valued is how you keep them, and that’s relevant no matter what your business is.

One hand washes the other

While people might meet someone in a bar and suddenly be compelled to trawl back through two years worth of Instagram posts with the end of their pinky in order to get a sense of who they are, they are less likely to do that with a business.

But if the newsletter provides useful, shareable content that your existing customers have been encouraged to post on their own feeds, there’s far more chance the potential will look into the content a little further and sign up themselves. There’s also the proven fact that people are far more likely to trust another person, as opposed to a business or brand themselves.

Honest feedback from existing subscribers is far more valuable when promoting the benefits of signing up with you, than you telling them the benefits yourself. As an aside to that, it’s worth noting that relatable human voice is far easier to project in a 700 word mail out/blog post, than a 50 word Instagram post, or 100 word Facebook headline. Brevity is the soul of wit, but it’s also the root of misunderstandings.

It would be easy to assume that more followers, likes, tags, and retweets means a more widespread message. Not only is that largely impossible to gauge, it can also be quite deceiving when it comes to pinning down your demographic, let alone establishing if all your Monday Memes and head office selfies are actually drawing positive engagement.

Trying to link social media directly to the bottom line is a losing battle - so is measuring success by social media activity, filtering out all the bots, misclickers and like traders to establish who’s really interested. You want your social to drive valuable action. If you can utilise your audience to drive subscribers, you have a specific, measurable KPI - engagement - that can determine your ROI, and do your business some real good.

Heidi's guide: Repurposing a blog article into an infographic

Creating content for your company’s online channels is a time-consuming process. It requires vast amounts of research, planning and effort. With that in mind - are you taking full advantage of the content you already have?

By repurposing content, you can maximise its value, increase its reach and cater for a much wider audience. At Winbox, we often turn our blog posts into helpful podcasts, videos and, of course, infographics.

With average attention spans decreasing from 12 seconds to just 8 seconds this decade, it is hardly surprising that infographics are now liked and shared three times more than blog articles.

Also, statistics show that people follow instructions 323% better when they include visuals in comparison to plain text articles. This suggests infographics aren’t just useful for repurposing information - they are also more effective in explaining information and processes in a way that your audience will understand.

Convinced that infographics are a useful repurposing tool for you? Great. Here’s my guide for creating valuable and engaging infographics for your audience:

What content works?

There are two main types of blog article that transform beautifully into infographics.

Process blogs describe a method of doing something in a simple step-by-step format. Informational blogs, usually titled ‘X top tips…’ or ‘X Ways of…,’ also work well because each piece of advice can be split into easy-to-read chunks.

Timelines, comparisons and groups of statistics also make great infographics.

WARNING: Blog posts that follow a story format or are long opinion pieces should be avoided. Trying to take small snippets of text from these can ruin their meaning and can even lead to their message being misinterpreted.

How to do it

Step one: Select the main points of your article

Find the main message behind your article and plan how to convey it in your infographic.

This is fairly simple when a blog is divided into different tips or steps. However, more descriptive articles can be difficult to condense into such a small amount of words. I find it helps to go back and find the plan or draft for the article. By using the notes you made to create the post, you can ensure the points you select for your infographic are still relevant to its original purpose.

If you’re struggling to find enough points to create an infographic, consider merging two different blog posts together. For example, one blog about the benefits of social media marketing could pair nicely to a blog about the benefits of email marketing. Use them to create a comparison infographic that compares the benefits of both.

Step two: Decide on your template and layout

Creating an infographic from scratch can be a lengthy process and requires masses of design skills and creativity. Fortunately, there are plenty of pre-made templates available online for little or no cost. You can easily edit these to add your own text, images, colours and logos.

The website Venngage provides a wide range of user-friendly templates, and many are available for free (more complex designs require a premium or business membership). Infographics are divided into different subject categories, which makes finding the right one to match your content less work.

Canva is another great resource for creating many different types of online content. This website also has a large selection of free templates for infographics. Both sites allow you to add your own branding and images to your design.

Step three: Add your content

The next step is to add in your text. Avoid just copy-and-pasting large chunks of text from your blog. Instead, be selective and only add the bits of information that are essential in conveying your point.

Remember infographics are visual pieces of content and require images and icons to attract your audience's attention. Unlike your blog article, images and text do not necessarily need to be in-line with each other. Try adding different layers with different levels of opacity to create something interesting to look at.

Step four: Proof-read and share away!

Not only do you need to check for spelling or grammatical errors, you also need to ensure that text is aligned neatly and flows well. Your audience need to be led from section to section - the order of reading needs to be clear.

Don’t do this by yourself - you know what it says already. You need fresh eyes. Get a second opinion from your team and ask for honest feedback.

WARNING: Don’t ask everyone. Too many cooks can spoil your infographic broth; too many opinions mean you end up changing too much at once.

Once you’ve perfected your masterpiece, it’s time to share it across your social media channels! Be sure to use relevant hashtags to help your target audience to find it.

Common mistakes

Don’t forget to use your branding! Most templates allow you to change the colour scheme to the exact hex code for your brand and upload your logo into the design. Without doing this, you risk other social media accounts taking your infographic and sharing it as their own.

Furthermore, even when the blog article you wrote is the original source, it’s still important to include an attribution in your infographic. Proving a link to your full blog post gives those who want more detailed information a chance to find it.

If you have found this guide useful, we would love to see the infographics you have created! Tweet them to us @WinboxLtd

 

Making Stickable Change!

We all need to make changes, at some points in our lives

And, as we all know – or should know – it’s that decision to change that moves us forward.

Whether it’s a case of you are walking along one day – and you suddenly stop – and think ‘I don’t want to do this anymore’ or ‘I really wanna do this’!

Or – maybe it’s the loss of a loved one – or the birth of a new life – that shocks you in to change – knowing your life will never be the same again.

Or, just maybe – you have spent so long in pain, frustration, anger and feeling so low – that you one day say ‘NO MORE’.

However we get to our moment – it’s what you do next that defines whether you follow through on that moment of focus and clarity.

Because we will connect mentally to the change.

We will connect physically to the change.

But unless we connect emotionally – you are more than likely doomed to failure.

And how many times have we all experienced that?

‘I’m never drinking again!’

‘I’m not eating any more cake’

‘I’ll never be treated like that ever again!’

Only – sadly – to fall in to the same trap in a matter of months, days, hours or maybe even minutes – and life goes on, as it was.

Bishop TD Jakes said it succinctly in this snippet from a sermon of his;

"There is NOTHING as powerful as a changed mind. You can change your hair, your clothing, your address, your spouse, your friends, but if you don't change your mind, the same experience will perpetuate itself over and over again because everything outwardly changed but nothing inwardly changed."

So we need to connect emotionally to change – in a positive way.

Again, a mistake we make when we try to change in our lives or businesses – is to connect it to a negative outcome.

  • 'If I don't get my sales target - I can't pay the mortgage!'
  • 'If I don't lose weight soon - I'm going to die!'

You get the message…fuelled by fear.

All you are doing is increasing the chances of failure, through your negative intensity which leads to low self-esteem, lack of confidence, anxiety and guilt.

However if you switch that – and say;

  • 'When I beat my target this month - I am going to reward myself with...'
  • 'I am losing weight, I am healthy and because of this - I have a long, successful future ahead of me...'

The same target – but the latter breeds confidence, positivity and a desire to improve!

As soon as you train your brain to look for the positive – I guarantee you that more opportunities flow your way.

I don’t (necessarily!) mean in some fluffy, magic way – but this is scientific – you train your Reticular Activating System (look it up!) to fire up and find opportunities for you.

Very simply – let me leave this with you – RED VAN.

You’ll see them everywhere now! :)

You also need to know WHY you want to make that change – and make sure it is YOU that wants to change, not circumstances, situations or others that are dictating how you should be.

Especially if you are prone to anxiety, low self-esteem, low confidence – we are naturally more subservient to stronger, more dominant characters.  Live YOUR life blueprint, nobody elses.

So now you have that nailed – you just need to work on the SMART principle to carry through your emotionally connected, positively charged change or goal;

Is your goal…

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive)

Once you have done this – have it all written down (because it’s far more powerful to write down than to keep in your head!) – you can set a time frame and diarise small incremental targets and changes that you can make to help you achieve your change.

Then – my final word of advice – and please choose wisely – is to pick a partner to share this with – someone who will hold you fully accountable – whilst encouraging you at the same time. 

You can also pick someone famous and successful – who have already implemented the change you are wishing to make – and model yourself on them.  Social Media being what it is now – gives you a real insight in to how these people do things.  Follow their successes, learn from their mistakes and imagine yourself being right where they are – immerse yourself in that feeling that you are already there.

The secret to success, in my experience, is to act as if you were what you want to be NOW – and everything else will follow.

And, as always, please feel free to drop me a line if I can be of any help.

Until next time, have a fantastic month – and live the life of YOUR choosing!

Nick Elston

Founder

Talking Anxiety

nick@talkinganxiety.co.uk

@NickElston_

 

Five things you can do today to level-up your brand's social media strategy

Coming up with, implementing and managing a social media strategy is hard work; much harder work than many people think it’s going to be before they’re actually tasked with taking it on. If you’re the one who’s spent countless hours devising a strategy, crafting content, scheduling posts, growing your community and trying to think of clever things to say on Twitter every day, you probably feel a bit peeved when your posts get little more than a handful of likes.

With ROI being the name of the game, those numbers mean everything, and you’re probably quite keen on the idea of a few quick fixes that can help add a few digits - possibly even a few 0s - onto them.

There’s a lot to be said for changing tack and hitting refresh. These five steps (which, incidentally, are super-easy to implement) should be your first port of call.

1. Do less of it.

Yep. The first thing you can do to do social media better is do less of it. When businesses decide they want to “do social”, there’s a tendency to feel like they should be posting every single day on every single platform. The result? A convoluted content strategy, a community management nightmare, and a lot of wasted resource.

Think about your target audience, your subject matter and your objectives for social, and use that to decide where your content should live.

If you’re a design agency looking to show off your work and attract new talent, Instagram - home of the inspirational aesthetic - is going to be great for you, but Twitter - the ephemeral, news-oriented chatroom of the social media world - isn’t.

On the flipside, if you’re a tech recruiter hoping to show off your industry knowledge and push people to your jobs board, Twitter’s fast-moving click-ableness is a natural home for that conversation.

2. Don’t wait for people to come to you

Being on a channel and posting content with the expectation that an audience will materialise around your virtual ankles is the equivalent of opening a restaurant in the middle of a forest and not telling anyone about it. Don’t be vain about your follower/following ratio, nobody’s looking at how many people you follow. Follow anyone and everyone who’s relevant to your business, have conversations with them, and use hashtags to make yourself ‘discoverable’ (but be wary - over-zealous hashtagging can actually turn people off). If you have a piece of content you think someone might be interested in, direct it at them. The worst outcome is that they notice you.

3. Anthropomorphise your brand

You’ve probably got a ‘style guide’ and a ‘tone of voice’ deck knocking around somewhere - use them. There’s nothing worse than the ‘generic brand tone of voice’ that swamps social media (“Team drinks! #FridayFeeling”), so take a few hours to workshop your brand personality and turn it into something tangible. If it were a celebrity, who would it be most like? How might it say ‘hello’ in the morning? What type of guest would it be at a wedding? Does it use slang? If so, which specific words? How about emojis? Create a checklist and run all your copy through it from now on.

4. Spend some cash

If you’ve been a commitment-phobe about promoting your content, now’s the time to take the leap. Particularly on Facebook, organic - that is, unpromoted - reach is nearing extinction (dropping by as much as 52% in 2016), meaning posting content without sponsoring it is a big waste of everyone’s time.

As little as £10 behind a post will not only boost your visibility, but unlock a whole plethora of targeting options and post formats. Try creating one post a month specifically for being boosted, with an objective (such as clicks to website, or gaining new followers who work in Derby) in mind.

5. Create some templates

Investing in some up-front time to create templatable content formats will save you heaps of time twiddling your thumbs trying to think of new ideas each month. Once you’ve got your format (“Tech tip of the week”?), have a designer create a graphic template to go with it, so it’s easy to swap in new copy and photography each time you use it. One small tip: stay away from motivational quotes against sunsets. There’s enough of that on social media as it is.

Got something to add to this list, or want to tell us how you got on with these tips? Hit us up on Twitter.

 

Content and Email marketing – a match made in heaven

With new technology popping up in the marketing space on a weekly basis, it can be difficult to know what to focus on. Which tool is going to turn your company into a sales and marketing rocketship? Maybe it’s a social media analytics tool. Perhaps it’s native advertising. It’s possibly even that new CRM; that costs £15,000 a month, it must be good, right?

Probably. But there’s one solution that has such potential, such a mind-blowing capacity to transform a business, that it’s like…

It’s like…

THE HADRON COLLIDER!

So what is it? Wellllll…………….it’s the combination of content and email marketing.

What do you mean underwhelming?

Look, it may not have flashing lights and thousands of settings to play about with, but email and content marketing combined can reveal to you the fundamental truths of your business – the Higgs Boson, if you like –  of where you get the leads that matter and the journey they go on.

And the best part? It doesn’t cost £xxxbillion to implement.

You may also like: Interview with Watertight Marketing founder Bryony Thomas

(Dark) matter of fact

So why is it so effective? Well, it’s all about that email address.

  • It’s direct – You may only get a click through rate of 15%. You’re still looking at close to 100% delivery into your contacts’ inboxes and there’s a very good chance that your email will be noticed, if not opened. How does that compare to your last tweet? (The answer: well.)
  • It’s your first step to marketing ROI. Once you get that email address, you know who you’re dealing with. And that allows you to ‘reverse engineer’ the steps to purchase.
  • It shows you what your prospects are interested in. Which piece of content encouraged them to sign up for your newsletter? Once signed up, what did they read? You can see all of this with free tools like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor.
  • It’s easy to set up, start and implement. You can do it all yourself with little experience. Or you can engage others with plenty of experience without too much expenditure.

Address to impress

The fact is, email signups are often the first opportunity for a small business to understand who’s on their website, who’s following them on social, who’s engaging with them online. If you can get an email address – you get a name. And if you have a name, you can understand who’s interested.

Once this person – let’s call them Dr. Cern – has signed up, you instantly have in-depth, personalised activity data. The stats show that Dr. Cern opens 50% of your emails and is particularly interested in this particular thing you keep talking about in your content. That’s a name, and a specifically targetable product or service right there. That’s enough info to sell to someone. So do that.

Once you’ve been email marketing for months rather than weeks, certain trends start to become apparent…and you can start to map the way prospects engage with you and your content. Now we’re lead profiling! You know who to talk to and how to talk to them, you overworked business owner you. Now we’re marketing.

And because you’ve got that email, you can see which of those great clients you’ve got came from the website, or were influenced by your email and your articles. ROI anyone? Oh yeah!!

So there you have it – the marketing fundamentals right under your nose. Content and email marketing, who’d have thought it? And you don’t have to invest £billions to discover the fundamentals and the route to growth. Just time, talent and back-destroying work (hey, the LHC wasn’t built in a day).

Of course, what’s outlined here is the top level. The ins and outs of creating that killer content, generating signups and doing the reporting is the hard, detailed slog of it all. Aren’t you lucky that we run a weekly newsletter that covers these exact things! (fancy that!)

This post was originally published by Future Content on 07/01/2016

6 content marketing lessons from a copywriter

When I tell people I’m a copywriter, the most common response is ‘a what now?’ Those who do recognise the title tend to associate it with Mad Men’s Don Draper, which, aside from the philandering, love of whiskey, brooding silences and suave demeanour, couldn’t be further from the reality. So, what does a copywriter’s role entail? I suppose the quick answer is, to tell the story of a brand or product, one that will make even the most mundane of subjects seem captivating.

Now I know what you’re thinking, isn’t that just writing content? Sure, there are overlaps, but a copywriter doesn’t simply produce content that builds on an existing brand, they actually shape and mould the identity of a business.

A blog post allows for room to go off at tangents, exploring themes in detail, but the strapline for your next product launch does not, which is why every word has to be carefully chosen by the copywriter to simultaneously convey the message, the tone of voice and a sense of urgency.

Two very different disciplines, then. But what lessons can the content writer learn from their more clinical cousin?

1. Write. Read. Write. Repeat. The importance of self-editing.

Quality content must come from the source. You cannot rely on an editor to whip a piece into shape for you, especially in our fast-paced world where a quick turnaround is essential. Every article, product description and tagline should be treated as though it were about to be published. Of course, there is always room for error, you’re only human, but taking a fastidious approach makes the process easier for everyone.

2. Let your words breathe. Don’t just write and publish.

While copywriting is definitely more of a craft than an art form, creativity is still a crucial part of the process. Sometimes the best ideas are formed at the most random times and there really is no better solution to writer’s block than forty winks. Ok, so we don’t usually have the luxury of downing tools when we feel like it and staring wistfully into the distance, but even giving your content a quick edit in the morning will work wonders.

3. …but do set deadlines. Realistic ones at that.

There is nothing quite like a looming deadline to get the gears going. Without one, it is all too easy to fall into the mindset of, ‘why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?’ The wealth of organisational apps available means there is no excuse for not keeping on top of your schedule. However, what it really comes down to is you. If you know you can’t be trusted with endless hours in which to procrastinate, then break up the project by providing your client, colleague or even a friend deadlines for each stage. You’ll be amazed what the fear of an irate email from your boss can do to your productivity levels.

4. Practice Planning makes perfect.

As the old adage goes, ‘failing to prepare is preparing to fail’ (or something to that effect). The point is that whether you’re writing a 1000-word article or a single sentence strapline, you cannot expect genius to come from nowhere. Before you tackle an article or blog post, take some time to plan out what you want to say, think about the audience and get a sense of the tone you wish to take. Creating a format for the different types of copy you need to write will speed up this process and eventually you will find yourself smashing out effortless, on-brand content.

5. Less is more. No, really.

As William Shakespeare once wrote, ‘brevity is the soul of wit’, or to put it in modern day terms, ‘get to the point.’ Copywriting is a reductive process – the distillation of a million ideas, decisions and details into a couple of short sentences, or sometimes even a few choice words. As I mentioned before, content can be far more exploratory than copywriting, but that doesn’t mean concision is to be ignored. While this may sound daunting, the process of streamlining your content to focus on the key information will make it easier for the reader to engage with the points you are making.

This doesn’t mean you have to lose all sense of style and write in monotonous tones. Just make sure that however poetic your writing, it can always be read in layman’s terms and crucially, avoid repeating points over and over and over…

6. Always remember who you’re writing for.

It’s a commonly held theory that good design is invisible – form and function being so perfectly balanced that the piece in question slots seamlessly into people’s lives without them even realising. I believe that copywriting is similar; a well-crafted piece is not there for show but to serve a purpose.

This isn’t to say that copy can’t be used to grab someone’s attention (everyone loves a catchy slogan after all), however, you should never read a piece of copy and be thinking about its construction or what it’s trying to sell. It needs to feel natural, even if that three-word tagline has gone through endless rewrites, focus groups and consultations.

While content writing may provide more space to get creative this does not mean that you can’t take a streamlined approach to get the most of it. Likewise, great copywriting does not have to be clinical and should seek to embrace a less obviously ‘salesy’ tone to bring a story to life. After all, both practices have the same goal and should be managed in conjunction to truly engage customers.

This post was originally published by Future Content on 04/05/17