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.


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


Talking Anxiety



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…


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

How to use Facebook competitions properly to grow your email marketing list

Data is the key ingredient to a successful email marketing campaign, and from our many years of experience sending email newsletters, we know that the more ‘opted-in’ an audience is the more engaged they will be with your emails once they arrive in their inbox.

Here is the formula for attracting email opt-ins:

A valuable incentive x Lots of opportunities to subscribe

Essentially, the best way to get email opt-ins is to incentive them, and advertise that incentive in key locations across your website, social media channels and beyond. One effective way of doing this is competitions.

With a great prize, a competition can drive subscriptions: when people enter, simply give them the option to opt-in to your newsletter to receive your future content, news, deals, competitions. Simple. Well, in principle. In practice, you have to get them right.

We’ve run Facebook competitions for a number of clients. In my opinion they worked best for B2C clients - but they have been a great way to generate a buzz, delight a winning participant and provide a steady stream of opt-in recipients.

So here are my top tips based on my experience running these competitions.

Apps can manage comps better than you

You see a lot of businesses running Facebook competitions where the entry requirement is asking people to just like the page and/or post or comment or share the post. This can make it tricky to randomly select a winner and get clear email opt-in (not to mention it may conflict with Facebook’s promotion guidelines).

You’re better off using an app built to run and manage this sort of promotion: we use is ‘Contest’. It’s easy-to-use, cost-effective and gives entrants the option to opt-in to your newsletter and then makes it easy for you to export their data. The statistics you get from the app are comprehensive, helping you to improve future competitions.

Encourage people to share the competition with an extra entry

Facebook algorithms are smart cookies. When they notice a post getting a solid number of shares and likes, it assumes that it’s a decent piece of content, and that other people are likely to want to see it. Therefore, it gets an organic reach boost and more of the people who like your page (and their friends) will see the competition. The more people that see it, the more entries you can expect. The more entries, the more potential for opt-in newsletter subscribers.

To drive even more organic opportunities, apps like ‘Contest’ (above) give you the option to give people an extra chance of winning if they share the post. We’ve found this to be a successful tactic, encouraging more entrants.

Boost the post

Facebook ads are great because they’re relatively inexpensive and can be super-targeted. The social media giant may have come in for some criticism about the amount of data they hold (and the way they use it) but for marketers and brands, it’s a dream come true.

One effective Facebook ad tactic is to create a lookalike audience of your email subscribers. This simply means adding your subscriber list to Facebook. If this email address is linked to a FB profile, those clever algorithms will deliver your post to a similar looking audience based on their likes, shares and comments.

If these people look like people who have already subscribed, it’s likely they’ll be interested in what you’ve got to say too.

Pin it to the top of your page

A simple trick… but an effective one. Pin the competition post to the top of your Facebook page to increase the reach and (hopefully) capture new visitors data.

Make the design your own and get the image size right

Compelling imagery is key on social media. Make sure you create a unique and professional looking image for your competition. This will make it stand out from other posts in the timeline, give the right impression of your business and encourage more opt-ins.

People may not trust the post if the image looks very amateur. I’d recommend getting an Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud subscription and attending a Brand51 ‘Adobe Photoshop For Beginners’ workshop. Or getting support from an agency who can help you to always maintain your professional image.

Create urgency through a time sensitive competition

If you set a time limit for entering the competition it will encourage people to act now rather than later, so they don’t miss out. You don’t want people to fall into the trap of saying “I’ll enter that later…” and later never comes.

Make it easy for people to enter

Don’t get greedy with the information you ask for. It’s tempting to try and get lots of data from people to get them to enter, but the easier you make it for people, the more people are likely to take part. Facebook allows competition entries with one click which enters the draw and takes personal info from the individual's profile.

Obviously, the more compelling the prize the more you can ask people to do - people will jump through hoops for the possibility of winning a Bugatti Veyron which they simply won’t for a branded pen. But still, keeping it simple is almost always the best way to go. We’re all very time-conscious and you have a split second to encourage people to engage and not just scroll on by.

And finally… make sure the prize is something you’ll audience will value

If the prize doesn’t hold a high perceived value, like a free 30-minute review that they can get anyway, then don’t expect many people to enter. We’re very savvy to what is a good prize nowadays, so don’t try and pull the wool over anyone’s eyes. Obviously, you can’t break the bank but something with high perceived value will get you better results. Over time you can then analyse the results to estimate your cost per signup and make a judgement on how much you can afford to give away.

The Winbox Way is to help businesses to build and maintain a high quality data list and consistently deliver a high-performing email newsletter. To learn more about how Winbox can help your business, get in touch.


Interview w/Ben Heald - Sift, Edo, Bristol Pound & St George’s

Ben Heald wears a vast array of hats. Not only is he Chairman of publishers Sift, digital agency Edo and business startup platform eFiling, he also acts as Chair for the Bristol Pound; and as a trustee of live music venue St. George’s in Bristo. He is, in short, a busy chap.

We heard Ben speak at a Marketing Network event earlier this year where he talked about marketing, communications and building a business. As email marketing specialists, however, one comment he made caught our ears. He explained that one of his most effective marketing tools was an email that he sends just once a year, and from that solitary email come leads, contacts, coffees with prospects and friends alike.

We were intrigued, so we pinned him down to find out more.

Winbox: Hello Ben, thanks for agreeing to chat with us. We wanted to talk because we saw you at the recent Marketing Network event, and you were saying how effective your ‘once-a-year email’ is…

Ben Heald: I’m writing one at the moment, actually!

Winbox: We won’t keep you too long then! Basically, you were saying what an effective sales marketing tool this one email is for you. Could you describe that email? What’s it about? Why did you start writing it in the first place?

Ben: I started doing it about twenty years ago; an update to my existing connections. Over the years the database has grown substantially, but the content has remained pretty consistent - it’s a personal message from me about what’s been going on in my life and business.  It’s honest, open, a little bit opinionated and I try to make it ‘wank-free’!

Back in the day, it was just used to promote Sift, but we have fantastic marketing teams within Sift and Edo who push put regular informative email campaigns now anyway. So my mailer is something broader and, like I say, personal.

The one I’m writing at the moment, for instance, covers the five organisations that I’m involved in. I used to call it a Sift Update, but now it’s more of a Ben Update.

Winbox: How occasional are we talking?

Ben: It used to be twice a year, but now it’s more like once a year: I’m involved in more things now, so there’s slightly less time than there used to be.

With the one I’m writing now, I’m going to send it to all my LinkedIn contacts - these days, that’s the best database of all. I don’t think anybody can maintain anything that good, not unless they’re working a database with hundreds of thousands of regular product users. For most businesses, everybody you need to contact is on LinkedIn.

Winbox: But the database you started with twenty years ago clearly wasn’t on LinkedIn.

Ben: No. I used to keep it in whatever contact management system we were using at the time. I still maintain a database for people in Salesforce now, for instance, but soon… well, I’m toying with whether or not I need to keep my own database at all: LinkedIn is really effective.

Winbox: Our take on email in general is that it’s only as good as the data you hold, so… are you vigilant with who you invite or accept on LinkedIn?

Ben: Yes. I don’t say yes to everybody. I only link with people I know, or think are interesting, and I only invite people I’ve met. Sometimes, just occasionally, if someone’s only one contact away, I might approach them, but not usually.

Winbox: Do you actively promote your ‘one email’?

Ben: No, it’s by invitation only really. It goes to people I want to send it to. It’s written to people I know, rather than being a cold thing.

Winbox: Is that why it’s been so effective?

Ben: Yes. It’s personal. It comes from me, and my contacts have been getting for up to twenty years. They know I have views on things, and in most cases they’re people I’ve developed a relationship with at some point - we’ve done business together or they worked for me, rather than bumped into each other somewhere.

Winbox: The golden egg of marketing currently is authenticity, and this is about as authentic as it gets…

Ben: It is authentic, it always has been. That’s the way I try to engage with people and talk to them. If you’re open to them, they’re open back.

Winbox: What’s the call to action?

Ben: The CTA is “make contact with me”. I’m a great believer in sitting down and having lots of talks. I do it a bit less than I used to, but I used to try and have a coffee with about 200 people a year. It’s easy if you meet people at conferences and things. I do a bit less of that now...

What usually happens is that I send it out, and I get 20 or 30 people who make contact and say “Ben, let’s talk about this/that/the other”, and after a couple of months some conversations have built that end in a new idea or a sale or a hiring. All kinds of things flow from that CTA.

Winbox: Talking more broadly, do you subscribe to any emails or newsletters yourself?

Ben: Oh yes - and people subscribe me to lots, too.

Winbox: Do any stick out particularly as must-opens?

Ben: Well, I get things that I’m interested in, from a passion or a business perspective. There are a few news ones - the Economist, the FT, the Guardian - that keep me happy and informed. I get some environmental things, some publishing things, some tech things, but I try not to read too many. I’d rather have a smaller number that I take the time to read. If I never read them I unsubscribe.

Winbox: So is there anything that would make you immediately unsubscribe?

Ben: Anything that I haven’t subscribed to. Even though spam filters are radically better than they used to be - and I think that’s why people are using email more than they used to - I nevertheless get stuff sent by people who subscribed me to something - usually American marketing teams, because they don’t have to adhere to European legislation.

When I was first subscribing to email newsletters back in the Nineties, different boundaries and laws applied. My address was added to all sorts of things and it’s simply not possible to get out of them. At some point I got added to a list that obviously said “opt in for emails”, and once you’re on you can’t get off. So I’m always being added to things off the back of that.

Winbox: So email is a valuable part of the marketing mix, here and now?

Ben: Yes. I don’t think it’s ever really been challenged. In the professional or business sectors, people mostly work through their emails fairly religiously. It’s a valuable place to put your message. If you can get your message in a trusted email vehicle into someone’s inbox, that’s the best thing to do.

The majority of business people don’t use Twitter, and those who do, don’t watch it very carefully; Facebook’s use case is more personal; then you have the rise of internal networks and Whatsapp and all. There are plenty of networks about, but there’s nothing as ubiquitous as email - if you can get in there.

Winbox: How well has email worked for the businesses you chair?

Ben: Well, on the Sift side, it’s one of the most effective thing we do. For example, AccountingWEB is our largest title, and we send an email to subscribers that goes to around 100,000 people three times a week. If we promote one of our clients in that email, they get hundreds of leads. It’s a self-targeting group, and they respond well to promotions - it’s not dissimilar to the old-fashioned trade magazines.

I’m trying to get St. George’s and Bristol Pound to learn from all my experiences at Sift. I’d like Bristol Pound to send out a daily email - Bristol Pound’s lunch of the day or best night out - because it would work in the same way, it’d be self-targeting.

Winbox: From once a year to once a day - do you think there’s an ideal regularity for email?

Ben: It depends on the business. I get emails more than once a day from Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn, which should tell you something. You know email is still the prime method of communication when the biggest social media platforms still use it to communicate with you.

Winbox: We couldn’t agree more. Ben, thanks very much for your time. We’ll let you get back to that email.

Ben: Pleasure, thanks.

Thanks again to Ben for his time and insights. You can follow Ben on Twitter here, but you’ll have to wait for an invite to the newsletter. For more expert email advice, download our ebook here.

OTW 049 - Why B2B companies should up their marketing in the summer months

In this episode, Marc explains why you need to put more effort into your marketing in the summer months.

If you have any email marketing questions that you'd like answering then make sure you send us your questions via our social channels:
Twitter: #WinboxWinners

Guest post: Tony Robbins ruined my life…temporarily!

Greetings ladies & gentlemen!

I recently had the extreme pleasure of seeing the awesome Tony Robbins live at #UPW2017.

This trip was long anticipated and I had been excited for a long time before the time came to board the train at Temple Meads, Bristol – and head to London for the event.

To save your sanity and for the sake of this guest post – I’ll cut straight to the chase – as I could waffle on for AGES about this spectacular event.

And I still wouldn’t have made the point that I want to make here today!

UPW (Unleash the Power Within) is a 4 day, mega long event – 830am til gone midnight, every day – from Thursday to Sunday.

The aim of the event is to invest time in yourself to really step up, raise your game and make your life the life that you would love it to be.

Tony & his team spoke, did exercises and shared knowledge on all things from Mental Health & Wellbeing, Physiology (how the body directly affects our minds) and Psychology – on all things in life and even business.

There were 9,999 other likeminded souls in the room – all dancing, whooping, jumping and being hugely positive and vibrant – and the atmosphere was totally addictive!

When we were about to enter an important part of the event, Tony would ‘change our state’ by putting on thumping dance tracks or soothing music – which everyone participated in.

And I can’t even begin to tell you about the amount of hugs, high fives and love in the room – crazy!  Even for me – and for those that know me, know that I am a hugger! J

Which is all great.

Really great.

Whilst I was at the event.

Now, Tony did forewarn us all about the effects of coming back to reality and how the changes we had made would be perceived by others – but also the way we perceive others may have changed too.

So, home I came – determined to put my new found self in to action.

BUT without my 9,999 new friends – it was difficult to maintain this.

Plus I started seeing traits in others, when going about my business – that no longer resonated with me – and opinions that were SO negative – that it was no wonder that I often found myself previously absorbing these traits as my own.

So, actually – for a couple of weeks after – I felt miserable as sin!

But like when any of us take on a challenge, an exercise or an idea that takes effort and clarity – we can often look at things as ‘too tough’ or label it as something that “is just not me’.

And often those thoughts are self limiting, self defeating and … completely NOT your thoughts! 

These are usually things that you have been told by others – which you have adopted as the truth, usually wrongly.

Humans eh? :)

Fast forward a few weeks and I am implementing what I was taught, seeking support from likeminded souls and pushing forward with all of my positive plans.

The moral of this story is this:

In life, in business – we all need to make changes at some point, to allow us to grow, thrive and develop.

Choose your mentors well, persevere despite those who doubt you, be careful not to adopt people’s thoughts as your own (as it’s all them!) and always seek the support of a trusted network of people who have your success at heart.

Remember, massive changes are painful at the start – but in the words of Tony Robbins – step up, set a new standard and be a force for good!

Go get ‘em, tiger!

Nick Elston

Founder of Talking Anxiety

OTW 048 - 3 Guiding principles to a successful email marketing strategy

In our latest episode of On the Winbox, Marc explains what principles you need to consider when designing and implementing your marketing strategy. 

If you have any email marketing questions that you'd like answering then make sure you send us your questions via our social channels:
Twitter: #WinboxWinners

Effort: the secret of success in marketing and life

As a huge personal development fan, I read several books and attend a handful of talks each month to quench my thirst for self-improvement. An avid sports fan, I particularly like talks with a sports theme, and the more successful the speaker, the more interested I am. That’s because I’m driven to learn from people who have been there and done it; scouting through the specifics of their achievements and trying to find the trends their success is built on.

 Over the past year, I’ve seen some incredible speakers, including Karen Brady, Roger Black, Gary Vaynerchuk, Barry McGuigan and Maggie Alphonsi. Each of them was full of fascinating stories, having reached the very pinnacle of their chosen fields. But what was strikingly obvious was the one piece of advice they all gave for their success – something we can all do ...for free.

It’s a case of putting in the work.

Every one of the speakers above said they just worked exceptionally hard. Some called it an obsession; others stated that they simply put in the hours. If you follow Gary Vee, you’ll know he’s a big advocate of ‘the hustle’. The other speakers mentioned the fact as a passing comment – something they just expected of themselves.

 Whether in sport, marketing, fitness or acting, the field doesn’t matter; but there is a clear correlation between working hard and achieving more. In marketing, professionals are often seeking a quick fix. That’s why articles like ‘Top 10 Things…’ do so well for clicks. But the truth is if you want to get great results you need to put in the work.

If you’re putting little effort into creating your marketing email campaigns, you’ll likely get poor results. This is because you’re not super-focused on producing something helpful to your audience, or a must-see email in their inbox. Instead, you’re simply adding to the clutter.

 And there is a lot of clutter. In fact, on average we get 121 emails per day. I’ll bet only 1-in-10 of these are worth your time. I’ll often come out of an hour-long meeting to find ten unread emails on my email app, only to swipe left on almost all of them, deleting them before I’ve even opened. Do you do the same?

But what happens when you put thought and effort into your campaigns? What if you carefully construct an email strategy you believe will offer real value to your audience; target and segment your list so each email you send is relevant; write compelling content, beautifully presented; and constantly test, measure and analyse to learn more about what your audience wants and doesn’t want?

 Well, then you’ll get good results.

 All of the above take effort and commitment, however. But at the end of the day – and in the modern marketing and business environment – this is what it takes to get great results. So ask yourself: Is the work you’re putting into your marketing campaigns equivalent to the ambitions that you want to achieve?

 I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Please leave a comment below or tweet me at @WinboxLtd. Onwards and upwards!