6 Marketing Tools for Your Blog or Business
You know you need an email list. I know it. We all know it.
But the thing is, where do you start? How are you going to get those subscribers?
Hopefully when you started your website design, you thought about how to optimize it beyond just a newsletter sign up form. What you really need is a complete opt-in sales process to turn web traffic into leads and paying customers.
The good news is there are some really simple marketing tools you can use to boost your website with an irresistible opt-in that builds your email list quickly and effectively.
This article will cover tools to create a killer opt-in and sales process:
- Getting ideas for your opt-in
- Designing your opt-in
- Creating a landing page
- Creating opt-in forms
- Social sharing
- Automate following up
- Automate social posts
1. BuzzSumo: Content ideas for your opt-in
You might know what content your ideal customers need for their business to flourish, but sometimes the key to getting more leads and sales is shaping that same content into something they want.
And that can be tricky if you don’t know what people want to read. It makes sense to do a little research before you spend time creating your freebie.
One way to research popular themes in your niche is to use BuzzSumo. A content research and monitoring tool, BuzzSumo lets you see what content and blog posts are shared the most so you can see what’s trending right now for your specific topic.
BuzzSumo can help you answer these questions:
- What topics resonate most with my audience?
- What social networks should I focus on distributing my content?
- What headlines are working and on which networks?
- Which influencers are sharing and amplifying content related to my topic?
- What other content are these influencers sharing?
Once you find popular content related to your opt-in idea, all you have to do is improve upon it with an epic piece of content and then turn that epic content into a PDF.
Here’s a bit more information on the features and how BuzzSumo can help you create an irresistible lead magnet that grows your list:
- Research Content: You can research any topic to see what posts get the most shares. All you have to do is input a topic or keyword and BuzzSumo will give you a list of posts ranked by the amount of social shares each receives! This is a great way to look for popular posts and then see how you can improve upon them and make them even more usable (like an epic blog post and then convert it into a lead magnet format!)
- Research Headlines: Need headline ideas? With BuzzSumo you can see which headlines work the best and on what social networks, so you know how to position your opt-in headline.
- Social networks: BuzzSumo monitors the most shared content across Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest. This is a great way to gauge where to promote your freebie and which social networks to focus on.
- View sharers: You’ll need to upgrade to the Pro version to see everyone who shared each post, as well as their Twitter followers and other content they’ve shared. This is how you would outreach to people who you mentioned in your content or people who shared the post so they can share yours too.
- Filtering: There are so many filtering options! You can narrow your search results by, say Facebook or Pinterest, to see what content that is most popular on each network. You can also filter by date, domain (great way to spy on the most shared content for your competitors!) and by the type of content to find out which infographics or videos are most popular.
- Content alerts: This is a great way to monitor when blog posts mention you, as well as when new blog posts are created by your competitors or around your keyword. You can even create a custom dashboard to monitor your alerts.
- Twitter influencers: You need the Pro version for this, but is helpful if Twitter is your go-to social network. Just run a search for your keyword to find the top influencers, view the links they’re sharing and view their followers. A great way to build a target list to reach out to as part of your overall content strategy.
- Trending Now: This dashboard will show you the most trending content for set categories such as fashion and marketing, but you can also create your own custom dashboards for topics or domains. You can even create RSS feeds to bring the content into Feedly.
- Export data: With the pro version you can export any dashboard results to an Excel spreadsheet
- Individual account (with limited features): Free
- Pro — Starter plan for entrepreneurs & small teams. $99/month or $79/month with annual contract
- Agency — all Pro features plus the Facebook Analyzer. $299/month or $239 with annual contract
- Enterprise — Unlimited everything with advanced functionality: $999/month
Alternative: If budget is a concern, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner and Google search (both are free) to do your research.
2. Canva: Drag & drop design
Now that you’ve done your research and created your opt-in, how do you go about designing it, especially if you’re not a designer and need to get it done quickly?
That’s where Canva comes in.
Canva is a free design tool that makes designing anything fun and easy. You can easily turn your content into a stunning design with the drag and drop platform. It’s as easy as selecting a template and then dragging shapes, text boxes, images and icons from the library onto your template. You can even share your design and get feedback while you’re working on it.
Here’s some more info on Canva features:
- Drag-and-drop template: Love, love, love the templates they have! Over 100 layouts to choose from — for everything from social media posts (Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr), presentations, ads, blog graphics, PLUS they just added an eBook template. They’re constantly adding new templates too or you can create a custom one.
- Design elements: You have so many design elements to choose from… images, fonts, icons, shapes and images. The design possibilities are limitless! Some are premium and others are free, but even the premium ones are only $1. And you can upload your own images if you can’t find something from their library.
- Design options: So many fonts, so many colors to really get creative. It’s pretty easy to crop photos and add filters to image, like for when you want to darken a background image with overlaying text. You can also adjust the transparency of shapes to add some dimension.
- Pages: This is what makes this so simple for creating ebooks, where you need multiple pages. It’s super easy to add more pages, copy pages, and delete them.
- Download, share & make public: You can download your file as a png, pdf or jpg or post it directly to Facebook and Twitter. You can also email it as an editable graphic if you’re collaborating with a team.
- Subscription service: If you need more design flexibility and consistency, you can upgrade for more features like customizable templates, magically resizable designs for difference social media channels, and creating your own branded theme with colors and fonts.
- Free — The Canva library gives you access to a whole stack of free images, graphics and fonts.
- Premium image — $1 from the premium library. You can try the elements in your design before purchasing them.
- Canva for Work — For teams of designers and content creators. $12.95 monthly per team member or $9.90 per member billed annually.
3. Leadpages: Landing pages
When you want people to opt-in for your freebie, you need a dedicated page where you can collect contact information.
The best way to do that is to create a landing page for it.
Landing pages are pages with the specific goal of capturing contact information in exchange for your freebie. They generally have nothing else on the page except for some information about your download, your logo and the form (no other navigation or links to distract people).
Using Leadpages is the easiest way to create high-converting landing pages.
A landing page builder, Leadpages lets you quickly and easily create landing pages using pre-designed templates that you can customize and integrate with your subscriber lists.
They put a lot of research into what prompts visitors to take action, so when you publish your landing page you know it’s already designed for conversions. All you have to do is add some great copy and tweak the design to fit your brand and then track how it’s performing.
Here’s what else you need to know about Leadpages to kick-start your lead generating system:
- Templates: Here’s the best thing about them, you can pick from templates for any freebie you have, whether it’a a webinar, ebooks, PPC campaign, sales page and so on. All you have to do is add your copy, upload your logo and images, and change the colors to match your brand. And you can sort by highest converting pages.
- Responsive + mobile friendly: Shows up just as perfect on any device!
- Analytics: This is such a simple feature, which is what makes it so great. Right on your dashboard you can see how your page is converting so you know if you need to tweak and test another version to increase conversions.
- Drop-in Pixel Tracking: It’s super easy to paste your Google Analytics code or Facebook pixel to keep track of campaigns.
- Leadboxes: You don’t even need another sign-up plug in! Right from Leadpages you can build a sign up form and add it to any page on your site. … a real time saver when you don’t want to deal with learning another tool.
- Publishing: You can publish your landing page on Leadpages, WordPress or right on your Facebook page as a custom tab.
- Email + CRM: Integrations include iContact, ShoppingCart, Aweber, Constant Contact, ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, ConvertKit, Drip, Emma, GetResponse, MadMimi, MailChimp, SendReach, Ontraport, Zoho, and Infusionsoft. With the advanced plan you can integrate Hubspot, Marketo, and Salesforce.
- Standard — for entrepreneurs. $25 per month.
- Pro — for small businesses. $49 per month. More advanced features like custom landing pages, priority support + live chat, A/B split testing, and more
- Advanced — For teams and agencies. $199 per month. Enterprise-level features like integration with Hubspot, Marketo, and Salesforce, coaching programs, etc
4. ThriveLeads: Opt-in forms
According to Thrive Leads, about 50–80% of website visitors will leave and never return. I don’t know where they got this stat from, but it sounds about right.
If you think about it, when was the last time you visited a website twice? It’s one thing to check out a fashion brand like Brandy Melville to see their new styles. But let’s face it, most of us entrepreneurs don’t have the bandwidth to create new products fast enough to make visitors crave coming back.
That’s why you need opt-in forms and sign up boxes on your site so you can capture contact information from every visitor. This is the quickest way to turn your website into a lead generating machine.
There are tons of WordPress plugins you can use to build your list, but my latest favorite is Thrive Leads.
I love how easy to create a great looking form, and the fact that they have tons of location options like header, sidebar, popup box, ribbon, footer, in the content and more.
Plus it’s full of features that go way beyond standard functionality. It also integrates with just about every email service provider and autoresponder out there, which makes it an ideal solution for both entrepreneurs and enterprise businesses.
Check out how easy it is to create opt-ins with Thrive Leads:
- Templates: No technical skill required! Just select a form template and start tweaking, designing, and adding your content. The pre-designed templates look great and are so simple to use. You can choose your brand colors and even select a Google font for your forms.
- Integrations: Mailchimp,AWeber,GetResponse, MailPoet, Onraport, iContact, ConvertKit, ActiveCampaign, Infusionsoft, SendReach, KlickTipp, Sendy, ArpReach, Drip, Madmimi, Hubspot, SendinBlue, WebinarJam, GoToWebinar,Mandrill, Postmark, Mailbgun, Amazon SES, SendinBlue Email.
- Form options: Slide-In, popups, exit intent trigger, smart exit, header, ribbons, widget forms, in-content, footer.
- Visual Editor + Interface: Love the simple dashboard! I can select my form or add another form type without having to figure out where I am like some other plugins. It’s also easy to see your edits in real time, so you know exactly what your form will look like as you’re tweaking it.
- Responsive + Mobile-friendly: …no mater what device!
- Tutorials: I love their tutorials and webinars. I was able to create my first opt-in after about 20 minutes scraping through their materials, which are pretty comprehensive. Even if you’re not that techy in under 45 minutes you’ll know enough to create a high-converting opt-in.
- A/B Testing: You can test your designs, triggers, offers, and form types. This is great when you want to compare offers or which placement gives you the most conversions!
- Technical support: Free support for one year, which is really helpful. I’ve used the support forums pretty extensively and they’ve always been able to solve my problem. They respond generally within 24 hours and once the year is up you can purchase another year for only $40, or become a Thrive Themes member and get it free.
- Upgrade: If you start out with a single site license and then need more, you can upgrade to an unlimited personal site license and pay only the $30 difference.
- List building strategies: The plugin authors are big on helping you build your mailing list as fast as possible, not just the functionality of the plugin itself. They share list building strategies to help you get the most out of it.
- Single site — for one site. $67.
- Unlimited sites — Use on all of your own websites. $97
- Agency License — $49 per month. For client sites
Alternatives: If this seems pricey, try Optin Forms or Magic Action Box Pro (I haven’t used Magic Action Box Pro but have heard great things). Optin Forms has fewer integrations and is still super easy to set up and use.
5. ConvertKit: Email marketing & auto responders
Syncing your opt-ins to an email service provider like ConvertKit will help you build relationships with people who have shown an interest in your business.
Sending out regular emails to your subscribers is a brilliant way to connect with your target audience on a deeper level, and also a proven method for converting clients.
ConvertKit is a popular email platform for your campaigns because it’s easy to use, affordable and very professional.
It’s got a ton of features, with gorgeous plug-and-play designs that will impress your subscribers, grab their attention and pull them back to your site.
Here’s how ConvertKit will help amplify your opt-in and your business:
- Easy to use: ConvertKit is very simple to use and doesn’t require coding. Even if you’re not techy, you can build a beautiful email in no time at all and the monitor conversion. You can also use one account for lists across multiple sites, which is a huge advantage if you’re dealing with several brands.
- Autoresponder: Successful email campaigns are built with autoresponders, which means that you plan your emails ahead of time and then schedule them at predefined intervals once they opt-in. This is a huge time saver because by automating you emails like this, you can be reaching more and more people in less time and with less effort. You create your emails once, and then queue them up to send out on the back end. It’s also a great way to filer out discounts and offers over a period of time, as well as delivering courses and tutorials for new subscribers.
- Reporting: Reporting and tracking are really great. You can easily see the number of emails sent, how many opens, clicks, undelivered emails and more.
- Split Testing: You can send out different versions of your emails on a few contacts and then take the best performing one and send it out to the rest of your contacts. It’s a great way to test headlines and intros to know which ones really grab people’s attention.
6. SumoMe: Social sharing buttons + shareable images
This tool is more about having strong social media and getting more traffic to your site and your opt-in. It’s a simple way to amplify your social presence even more.
The SumoMe plugin is one of the best tools on the market for increasing social shares and driving traffic through social networks. It’s quick and easy and bursting with features.
When people hover over an image, they can share it. How cool is that?
SumoMe is free and if you want even more functionality like A/B testing, premium templates, more customization, tracking and more you’ll want to upgrade.
Here’s what you can do with SumoMe:
- Design: SumoMe has incredibly attractive sharing buttons. And you can easily change the colors, sizing, style, and number of buttons, and more!
- Shareable images: This is a great thing about this plugin. I think Shareaholic has this feature too, when you hover on images you can have multiple share buttons come up Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest so people can share your images.
- Ease of use: Simple sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and more. And it’s easy to set up and integrate with most email marketing services, like AWeber, Mailchimp, GetResponse, MadMimi, Constant Contact, Infusionsoft and more.
- Flexible placement: And you can place the buttons on the top and/or bottom of your posts, or have them float on the side of your content. Place them above or below your posts.
- Text Highlighter: This one is pretty cool, when people highlight a phrase on your site, a box will appear asking them if they want to tweet it. Pretty awesome, right?
- Analytics: You can see the top pages, number of clicks and shares right from your WordPress dashboard. You can also see how much of your posts are being read so you can optimize them.
- Free — just install the plugin and get free access
- Upgrade: SumoMe Pro includes all their apps (List builder Pro, Sharing Pro, Heat Maps Pro and more); varies from $20 — $119+ per month depending on your site’s traffic
- Visit SumoMe
Alternative: Shareaholic is another free sharing plugin that works with WordPress. I had some problems getting the image sharer to work correctly, but didn’t do much testing and have heard it works well for others.
Originally published at conversionminded.com on April 10, 2016.