Monthly Archives: January 2017

THE ULTIMATE LIST OF IFTTT RECIPES FOR MARKETERS

Recipe Prep

Most of the recipes that we’ve prepared here require a bit of pre-IFTTT prep. Here are two valuable tools that you’ll see used over and over again in these recipes.

  • Visual Ping: This tool will notify you when there is a visual change on a website, web page, or even just a area of a web page.
  • Page2RSS: This tool will convert any web page – even if the page doesn’t publish a feed of its own – to an RSS feed, so that you can easily subscribe.

A Note on Notification

Almost all of the THAT steps in our recipes below are means of notification. When writing these recipes, we selected what we thought were the most applicable forms of notification, but you should select whichever works best for you. It basically comes down to how quickly you’d like to be notified.

  • For example, if your site has been hacked, you’ll want to know ASAP, so you’ll probably want your alert to be a text message/SMS.
  • For something that you want to keep track of every day, an email might be the best notification for you.
  • If it’s something that you’ll want to check on maybe once a week or once a month, have the results archived in Evernote or a Google Doc.

Keep Track of the Competition

Easily Archive Your Competitors’ Emails

WHAT IT MEANS: Archive and organize emails from your competition for future analysis, without clogging up your inbox.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to emails from all of your competitors to a Gmail address.
      • Create filters in your email to automatically archive the emails and mark them as read.

CREATE A RECIPE ON  IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email or Gmail
      • New email from – the competition
      • THAT Channel: Evernote
      • Create a Note – in whichever notebook you specify.

Repeat for each competitor

Now, all competitor emails will be archived in Evernote for your future perusal and analysis.

Track Mentions of Competitors’ Employees on News Sites

WHAT IT MEANS: Monitor Newsle for mentions of competitors’ employees and other important industry influencers

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Sign up for an account on Newsle.com (you need a LinkedIn account to do so).
      • Sign up for Newsle emails, so that you get regular reports on when your LinkedIn contacts are mentioned in the news.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Gmail
      • New email from – Newsle
      • THAT Channel: Google Drive
      • Create a new spreadsheet to archive these Newsle mentions

Now, you’ll have Newsle mentions saved in a Google doc for reference.


Track Your Competitors’ Website Changes

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep track of the changes that your competitors make to their websites.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Use VisualPing.io to monitor a competitors’ web page. Set the timing and type of change to whatever you like, and add your email address for notification.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email
      • Email from Visual Ping
      • THAT Channel: SMS

Now, you’ll get a text message every time your competitor updates their page

Monitor your Competitors’ Blog Posts

WHAT IT MEANS: Stay on top of what your competitors are blogging about, and archive the posts.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to the blog’s RSS feed.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Feed
      • Enter the blog post feed
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time there is a new blog post on the competition’s blog.

Stalk your competitors’ stocks

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep a keen eye on your competition by monitoring their stock performance

HOW TO DO IT:

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Stocks
      • Choose whichever metric you’d like – price at close, price rises above, price drops below,etc.
      • Add the ticker symbol and price
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time the stock price moves.

Monitor your competitors’ executives

WHAT IT MEANS: Keep a close eye on the C-level employees at your competition.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Set Google Alerts for executives’ names along with negative keywords (e.g. “stole” or “fired”) and subscribe to RSS alerts.

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: RSS
      • THAT Channel: Email

Now, you’ll get an email every time one of these executives is mentioned online.

Watch out for your competitors’ YouTube videos

WHAT IT MEANS: Get notified every time one of your competitors creates and shares a new YouTube video.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Find your competitor’s YouTube channel (e.g.http://www.youtube.com/seerinteractive)
      • Subscribe to the RSS feed

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: RSS
      • THAT Channel: Google Drive
      • Create a new spreadsheet to archive these YouTube videos

Now, you’ll have YouTube videos saved in a Google doc for reference.

Spy on your Competitors’ Website Tools

WHAT IT MEANS: Get a text message any time your competition is using a new software tool on their website.

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Use BuiltWith.com to view what software a site is using (e.g.http://builtwith.com/seerinteractive.com)
      • Enter the URL on VisualPing.io and set alerts and emails

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Email (from VisualPing)
      • THAT Channel: SMS

You will now get a text message every time your competitor adds new software to their website.

Monitor Industry Acquisitions

WHAT IT MEANS: Find out if a competitor acquires or merges with another company

HOW TO DO IT:

      • Subscribe to Yahoo Finance RSS feeds

CREATE A RECIPE ON IFTTT:

      • THIS Channel: Feed
      • Select “new item matches” and enter a competitor name plus “acquisition” or “merger”
      • THAT Channel: Email

You will now get an email alert every time a competing brand has a merger or acquisition

7 Ways to Beat the Facebook Algorithm

1. Share Great Content

The old adage remains true – (quality) content is king. (Sorry about the cliché, Elisa.) If you post awesome content, your chances of being liked and shared increases, boosting your presence in Facebook news feeds. Many of Facebook’s algorithm tweaks are aimed at weeding out what Facebook deems “low quality content,” like memes. For greater reach, opt instead for quality content from news sites. It’s a bit bourgeois for Facebook to assume CNN articles are always classy and memes are always pond scum, but we don’t get much choice in how Facebook adjusts its algorithm. My suggestion? Ramp up on your own original high-quality content with e-books, blog posts, white papers, etc.

2. Use Facebook Ads

With organic reach down, now is the perfect time to experiment with Facebook advertising. Facebook has revamped their ad system to be easier than ever to use. Paid Facebook ads can appear right in a user’s newsfeed, seamlessly blending with organic posts while boasting better reach. They’ve also introduced a newad relevance score (basically Quality Score for Facebook.) Give them a shot and see how they perform. Facebook ads are perfect for companies operating in competitive creative industries like craft marketing.

3. Extend to Other Social Networks

Integrate your Facebook marketing with other social networks – post pins, tweet, etc. Facebook has become crowded, with organic space steadily shrinking. There’s tons of competition and it’s easy for your content to get buried in users’ news feeds. Explore greener pastures by delving into newer social media hubs like Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr, or Google+. Don’t let Facebook be your crutch.

4. Time to Get Personal

Personal account posts tend to show up more in news feeds than business page posts, so why not take advantage of your staff members? Most of them probably use Facebook, so get them liking and sharing your company content. All is fair in the Facebook wars.

5. Import Your Contacts

If you have a big email list, you can import your contacts (up to 5k names at a time) and invite them to join your Facebook page. A higher number of Facebook friends means that your content will reach more people, despite lower organic visibility percentages. The more the merrier.

6. Post More Often

Increase your chances of appearing in news feeds simply by posting more. Get the odds in your favor! Posting 4-6 times a day increases the likelihood that one of those posts will get a bite.

7. Share Exclusive Content

Make your Facebook posts count by sharing exclusive content users won’t find anywhere else. Publicize flash sales, special discounts, contests, etc.

The 7 Best Email Subject Line Styles to Increase Your Open Rates

1.  Simple, No Nonsense Email Subject Lines

There’s a lot to be said for minimalism – users need you to be clear and concise in your subject lines, as time is always an asset.

MailChimp conducted an email subject line study and found that short, descriptive subject lines fare better than cheesy lures. Some might bristle up at the accusation that humor and creativity should take a back seat when creating good subject lines for emails, especially since many marketing experts say otherwise. It’s worth noting that this succinct approach is most applicable with notification emails, in which a user already has a connection with the content you’re delivering.

great email subject lines

good email subject lines

Most of these subject line examples involve updates or notifications connected with a user’s social media activity, order status, etc. These emails have a specific purpose, and so their subject lines should be specific as well.

2. Funny Email Subject Lines

A humorous subject line can really stick out among the dry, dull emails surrounding it. Humor it a touchy thing though – it thrives on exclusivity, which isn’t always great if you’re trying to appeal to the masses. However, if you know your audience well and your emails are targeted, a well placed joke can get your email opened and can earn major reputation points with folks on your wavelength.

Some funny email subject line examples:

  • Please Touch Me! Enterprise Delight via Multitouch
  • Defense Against the Dark Arts: ESAPI
  • Do Gamers Dream of HTML5 Sheep?
  • LEAN STARTUP: Baby Got (Feed)Back – Putting the Lean in Learn

The “touch me” line is a chuckle that will be understood by most readers, but the cleverness of the other funny email subject lines might be lost on some users who didn’t attend Hogwarts or haven’t taken their Voight-Kampff empathy test. But if you can recite every line of Sir Mix a Lot’s Baby Got Back word for word…like some of us can… you’ll love that “Lean Startup” subject line.

Note: The awesome email subject lines above and several text subject lines below are borrowed from thisClickZ article, full of many great examples.

3. Controversial/Shocking Email Subject Lines

Controversy (sometimes) sells, and it most certainly grabs attention. Using shock, controversy, or insult in your subject lines requires you to tread really carefully. You may get opens, but at the cost of customers. This strategy requires you to be confident in your understanding of your audience’s tastes and perceptions. It’s a bit of a gamble, but the pay-off can be pretty great – would you simply gloss over the subject lines below? Not likely.

  • Everyone Is Gay: Social Media As Social Action
  • Why Your 5-Year-Old Is More Digital Than Most CMOs
  • Your Marketing Sucks: Why You Need to Think Local

4. Single-Word Subject Lines

One effective email subject line strategy involves going ultra-minimalist with one-word subject lines. Let’s take a peek at the promotions tab of my Gmail. The promotion tab is scheduled for a major makeover – Google is starting to display promotional emails in a image-oriented design inspired by Pinterest. If this new setup sticks, pictures will usurp subject lines as the pivotal email element.

Until then, we still need to worry about the current state of the promotions tab. It’s chock full o’ mess, with stacks upon stacks of unopened emails. Which one stands out? For me it’s Amazon Local’s M3 subject line.

effective email subject lines

From a simple design perspective, you can see why the Amazon Local subject line catches the eye – its length and shape stand out from the other largely similar-looking structures.

Another great email subject line example comes from Mequoda with the simple subject line of:

  • Panic

It’s just a single word, but it’s an emotionally huge one. What should I be panicking about? Am I in danger? What’s going on? Am I having an existential crisis? Emotionally-walloping words make a big impression.

5. Email Subject Lines with Numbers & Lists

Many of the factors that make up a good blog post title also make a good email subject line. Incorporating numbers into your subject line attracts attention, as our brains are naturally drawn to digits. This tends to be why top 10 lists are so successful – lists are easier for our brains to process and they create curiosity, in addition to providing the promise of a quick and easy read.

subject line tips

email marketing subject lines

top email subject lines

Numbers and list email subject lines stand out for the same reasons that one-word subject lines or unusual punctuation do – they are visually jarring. An article at The New Yorker discusses our avid adoration of listmania:

“Whenever we’re scanning the environment for nothing in particular, our visual system is arrested by the things that don’t fit—features that suddenly change or somehow stand out from the background. A headlinethat is graphically salient in some way has a greater chance of capturing our eye, and in an environment where dozens of headlines and stories vie for attention, numerals break up the visual field.”

Basically, the ultimate goal is to make your email subject line visually stand out. How you do that is up to you!

6. Personalized Subject Lines

Incorporating personalization techniques into email subject lines is another way to increase open rates. By personalization I don’t mean incorporating a user’s name into the subject line – this has become so common practice that many users glaze over these as spam. Instead, try location-specific offers and language, or interest targeting. LivingSocial and Groupon are old pros at this, sending emails with subject lines promoting deals in your area.

LivingSocial also sends me emails about deals I looked at but didn’t end up buying by utilizing the very effective but always semi-creepy remarketing strategy. LivingSocial also sends me new deals based on my past purchases. I’ve bought a few Paint Nite and pottery deals in the past, so art-related offers are the ones I see most often in my inbox. They’ve got my ticket alright!

The subject line above combines personalization (via remarketing) with scarcity to create an effective email subject line. Brava!

In a broader sense, it’s good practice to understand your audience well enough to know what language, style, and offers will be attractive to them.

email subject lines examples

catch email subject lines

funny email subject lines

Thrillist knows exactly who their audience is – the young, drinking crowd – and their conversational tone fits perfectly here with their fun email subject lines.

Thrillist is doing a ton of other stuff right too; they’ve got lists, localization, and pay tribute to a holiday. Who doesn’t want to impress their buddies with fun Guinness facts on St. Paddy’s?

7. Questions & Other Punctuation in Email Subject Lines

Question marks and unusual punctuation offer another method for standing out from the email masses. Exclamation marks can be useful, but are so over-used in subject lines that they don’t tend to be very powerful. Instead, experiment with some fun symbols or loud punctuation to attract ‘dem eyeballs.

great email subject lines

best email subject lines

how to write subject lines

Asking your readers a question, as opposed to a standard statement, immediately engages them. Questions enter an instant dialogue with users, making them more likely to be opened.

successful email subject lines

professional email subject lines

Above, Banana Republic combines a question with scarcity tactics. Sephora asks an emotionally-engaging question (really? you care?) with just two words, creating a truly great subject line.

Our Strategies to Get More Email Subscribers

The 1 big idea: Make it ridiculously easy to sign up

I’ve got this idea about email marketing, and it goes something like this:

  • Create amazing content that people want to read all the time
  • Ask permission to send amazing content to people’s emails.
  • Ask again.
  • Ask a couple more times.

Basically, if you’ve got great content and you make it easy for people to sign up for email updates, you should begin to see significant list growth.

We’re hopeful that we’re headed down a good path with creating amazing content here at the Buffer blog. It’s an ongoing process for us, and we’re always open for ways to improve. (hint, hint) As for the second part of the email equation …

We knew we could make it easier for our happy readers to sign up for email updates.

So we did.

Here’s how it went.

Double the list growth in only 30 days

We implemented several changes to our email signup forms in July (see below), so we had the opportunity to easily compare growth from the previous months to growth in July. Previously, in May and June, we had averaged a pretty steady 2,349 monthly email signups from our two blogs, Buffer Social and Buffer Open.

In July, we had 5,450 email signups!

That’s more than double the previous month! Specifically, it’s 130 percent growth, month-over-month—more than we ever expected to see in our first month of experimentation.

Our crazy amount of signup sources: 9 ways to capture new subscribers

Here’s a good comparison of what we were doing before this email push and what we were doing after.

Before: Slideup form

After: Slideup form, blog homepage email capture, HelloBar, sidebar ad, postscript CTA, Twitter lead gen cards, Facebook newsletter signup, SlideShare, Qzzr

Essentially, we added nine times the email capture opportunities.

Not every one of these new areas was a hit, yet collectively the addition of so many unmissable opportunities to sign up led to a huge uptick in growth.

Here’s a chart of a typical week with our email list and how each of the different sources contributes to overall growth.

It’s funny that at the first of the month, when the email signups started rolling in, I kind of sat back in awe that we were getting so many new subscribers! (Yay, and welcome!) Then I realized I should probably be finding a way to track where all these signups came from.

We use MailChimp to manage the email on our blog list, and to track signups here, you can cross your fingers that one of two methods work.

  • The app you use to collect email is recognized by MailChimp automatically (e.g., HelloBar and Twitter)
  • Your embedded signup form includes a hidden field that you can handcode to include a variable that makes it possible to track the source (e.g., all the rest of our sources)

Eventually, we were able to get everything wired up so that we could track the total number of signups from each source (feel free to ask in the comments if you have any questions about how we got this working). With these numbers, we could more easily see which sources brought us the most signups and where to focus our efforts.

Here’s a little more on each of our nine signup sources.

Slideup box

Our best-performing email signup form on the blog has been the slideup, which brings us a little more than 400 new signups each week. It’s the closest thing we have to an outright pop-up (which we hear can be super useful for collecting emails).

Our slideup comes up from the right-hand corner of the page whenever a new visitor scrolls 60 percent of the way down the page. If you close the slideup, we store a cookie that reminds us not to show you the slideup again for 30 days.

The results: All this is managed via the free WordPress plugin Dreamgrow Scroll Triggered Box. We control the HTML that goes in the box, and we use this to place some CTA copy and a MailChimp signup form that includes a hidden field so we can track our slideup signups.

HelloBar for email

We had long used the HelloBar to drive visits to the main page of the Buffer app, which I imagine might be how most SaaS blogs use it. HelloBar works wonders on conversions.

However, when our priorities for the blog shifted, we decided to change the HelloBar on the majority of pages to an email capture form. There were two big reasons why this worked so well for us:

  1. The HelloBar integrates seamlessly with our MailChimp list. The only real difficulty here was figuring out how to ensure that double-opt in was turned on for our list.
  2. HelloBar lets you test variations of your copy, buttons, and CTA. Here are a couple of different versions we tried. The winner actually became the basis for our email copy on several other locations for CTAs.

The results: We typically receive 350 or more signups each week from HelloBar, and it even held our top spot for email signups in the first couple weeks of July.

A featured box for email signups on the homepage of the blog

We were super stoked about getting this one live on the blog. Since our blog homepage is the third-most-visited page on the blog, month-after-month, it made a lot of sense to optimize this page as best we could to meet our goals. If there’d ever be a page deserving a unique design, it’d be the blog homepage!

At first, we tried a plugin called PlugMatter, which worked amazingly well but just didn’t quite fit the blog design we were after. So we had our designers set us up with a new one. Our blog redesign came a few days after, so the homepage CTA changed again. Here’s the version that you see today:

The results: This feature box on the homepage accounts for 150+ email signups each week, good for third on our list of signup sources.

Sidebar email signup

As we’ve shifted priorities on the Buffer blog over the years, the design and layout has shifted, too. One of the most recent shifts was toward a simpler, cleaner layout that took everything out of the right sidebar and replaced it with a Buffer app CTA. When this changed, we lost our sidebar email signup.

We put the sidebar back online for a brief time while we were growing our list, and it definitely helped. Although not as much as you might think.