6 tools to grow your business online: Newsletter and more

tools to grow your business online

In a social media dominated world is email marketing still so important?

Today a huge amount of purchases and transactions are made online. PayPal, one of the major online payment service, grew to 64.3 billion U.S dollars just in the last quarter of 2014 in net payment volume. New business are growing every day, some of them 100% online, cutting cost and investing their money in a wiser way. Below are 6 ways and tools, online (and offline) businesses are using today to stay competitive and grow their  business.

1. Social Media

Social Media have opened a great channel for marketers to reach new users, display their message and drive traffic to a website. As a source of lead generation, today, many marketers are still dubious if it’s really the right channel where to invest. There is a huge discussion on this topic. Of course it really depends on what you are selling, but one thing it’s sure: you must be there.

So, if you have spent thousand of dollars for you ad campaign on Facebook and you still don’t see any return you might think three things:

1. Social Networks are not the right place for my product

2. It’s a waste of money

3. Facebook and Twitter are just a branding tool but not a lead generation channel.

If from one hand you might be right, on the other you must also consider that today the flash sale it’s very rare, unless you are selling cheap products or things you buy on the “excitement” of the moment. To give you an example, the kind of products you are likely to buy as happens for the chewing gum alongside the cash desk lane in the supermarkets. You see it, you buy it.


But the most of products and services need a longer process. They say you need by 5 to 7 touch-points before closing a sale. This is both on B2B and B2C.


Simply because the market is over filled by competitors. Similar, cheaper and competitive. When we decide to buy something online we use to check the website product first, than the competitors. We also search on Google, than on social networks, often we read online reviews or comments and then, may be, we ask to a friend for recommendations.

We have access to a huge amount of information and we can deeply investigate on a product before taking the final decision. That’s why it’s important to have a multi-level digital presence and why it is so important to grow our social media channels even if we don’t see direct sales. May be a potential customer, after visiting our official website, wants to see how engaged is our Fan Page so, in case he needs, he knows there’s a quick customer care and assistance. Is like getting inside a store and seeing many people vs getting inside one completely empty. Would you trust it?

The social media limit

tools to grow your business online 2

Facebook organic reach is dropping constantly

Despite the undeniable power of social media there are some big limits.

1. The algorithms changes constantly and we have always to chase the latest updates

2. To be on top and gain traction you have to invest constantly, especially on Facebook. We are simply too many, and to be noticed in the crowd, we have to pay!

3. We invest, drive traffic and get visits but over 97% of visitors won’t return to your website and won’t buy

So having tons of visits and nurture a solid social presence it’s fundamental. But how can we retain the more people as possible without loosing potential customers and clients?


Other ways

Online marketing is a jungle. Today you can count on different tools to grow your business online and if you want to involve your audience. Below is a brief list of resources used to engage online:

2. Retargeting and Display ads

Retargeting (or remarketing) is one of the major way to invite people coming back to your website again. It’s based on a pixel that will track your activity and shows you a display or native ad after you have visited a specific web page. It is mainly used for ecommerce but also for many B2B services. Here’s again the example of the store: you get inside a shop, you see and touch a cup and later one, while you are driving, you’ll see the same cup in a billboard reminding you that, may be, you were interested in finalizing the purchase. It is a great tool and companies such as AdRoll or Amazon are doing it pretty good. It’s an effective channel to retain your clients and return on investment can be really good.

“The average company makes $10 for every $1 spent with AdRoll. That’s hard to beat” (AdRoll claim).

The display ad will be shown not just around the web but also, across Facebook and Twitter. 

But there are still some concerns about it. Sometimes we see the ads everywhere, even if we don’t really care about the products. Unluckily the system can’t tell if you went on a specific page just for curiosity or accidentally. And so, even if you don’t want to buy that product you will see it displayed many times, everywhere.

3. Search ads AKA AdWords 

This is the most popular paid ads since Google introduced it in 2004 and also the main source of income for Google and it guarantee the cash flow the Tech Giant needs to buy new companies, invest in other industries and in R&D. In short, it is the tool Big G is using to conquer the world 🙂

Jokes aside, there is a reason why it has such a big success. People make an average of 2/3 billion searches on Google everyday, and Google AdWords serves an average of 29,741,270,774 impressions per day (nearly 30 billion!). Seeing these numbers you can imagine the money machine AdWords is but also, the huge opportunity advertisers have to display their ads in the right moment, to the right people, for the right keywords.


4. Mobile Apps

tools to grow your business online 4

This a rising and shining way to engage with your audience. An app is great because:

  • It allows you to keep in touch with your users, even with push notifications and emails (if you use a login)
  • It’s mobile and mobile it’s cool! People is spending more time on mobile today than never before ( Facebook’s advertising revenue in the third quarter jumped 64% to $2.96 billion—two-thirds of that from the mobile side—year over year.)
  • It can be non-conventional and engage people with side strategies

But apps also have limits:

  • You have to develop it, and might be expensive.
  • You have to promote it, and can be very expensive.
  • People can download it but might not use it

Let’s be honest: apps are great. But you must have your goal clear before even thinking to develop it.

5. Content Marketing and Blog

Tools to grow your business online blog posts

This is my favorites and, also, the most loved/hated by marketers. Basically because creating content takes really a lot of time. Both to write them and to see results. You cannot expect a short-term ROI in a content marketing strategy unless you are focusing on a little and not competitive niche. But also in this case you cannot expect fast and easy results.

Content marketing is a long process. Today nearly 3 million posts are published and the chance our blog post is seen are really low in this ocean. There’s a million of words to spend about this topic. To stick to the post title I would like to highlight why it could be a tool to grow your online business

  • It’s an open and steady contact with your audience.

60% of marketers use content marketing on a weekly basis (Emarketer)

  • It automates the learning process about a specific service and products.

77% of CMOs at top performing companies indicate that their most compelling reason for implementing marketing automation is to increase revenue (Glenster)

  • It’s a steady stream of lead generation. 

Website conversion rate is nearly 6x higher for content marketing adopters than non-adopters

  • It’s the most safe marketing investment in the long-term. Your content will always be on your blog and represent your company. Moreover it’s the best inbound marketing tool.

Brands relying on inbound marketing save over $14 dollars for every new customer acquired (StateOfInbound)

But is content marketing represented just by blogs?

No. Content marketing is represented by any written, listenable, visible content you can divulge online. It can be represented by ebooks, white papers, infographics, podcasts, videos and more. The goal is to give add value to your audience and create a relationship of trust that will trigger the sales or acquisition process time by time.
It’s no longer the flash sales time. Today, as mentioned before, people are informed and if not, they have the tools to be knowledgeable in a short time.
In content marketing our goal is not the revenue. Our goal is the add value  
I will get back to content marketing with other posts but now, let’s see the last tool that can help grow your business online.

6. Email Marketing

tools to grow your business email marketing

Finally, let’s talk about the subject and core of the post. In a social media dominated world is email marketing still so important?

As you have read in the previous online ads options, there are different ways to drive traffic, promote content and display the right message to your audience. But all of them count on three main components, except for content marketing:

  • You have to pay for them constantly
  • Most of the time you will not see your visitors again
  • You can’t build a safe and loyal audience in the long run, even if they are your fans/followers


So, why creating a mailing list is different from the other tools examined? Here are the pros:

  • You are the owner of your database and contacts. No algorithm or page rank will change it.
  • You have high qualified leads. They join your Newsletter because they are interested in your business or content.
  • You can engage with your audience, several time, with a lower price.
  • Subscribers are likely to see your message and open your email directly from their smartphones.
  • Emails, in a mobile oriented world, are getting like push notifications. Always accessible and customizable

Ok, you might say: Yes, but if you don’t create content, promote it on social media, on Google AdWords or paid ads, how can you increase the number of subscribers? And also, what is the real open rate you can expect?

I am not saying email marketing should be your only digital marketing tool. In fact it is the final phase of a multi level process that involves most of the tools mentioned above. The point is that you should nurture your mailing list because it can be your safe stream of visits/leads in the long-term. No mater if your social pages are turned down by an algorithm or your ad budget is low. You will always have your lists.

When you send out your email campaign there’s in not a universal open rate average.  It depends on many variables. It can be the industry, the content, the time, the quality of your list or the relevance. Below is a list of email campaigns stats by industry (Source MailChimp)

IndustryOpenClickSoft BounceHard BounceAbuseUnsub
Agriculture and Food Services26.06%3.94%1.0%0.86%0.04%0.29%
Architecture and Construction25.38%3.86%2.32%1.98%0.04%0.35%
Arts and Artists27.97%3.28%1.17%0.99%0.04%0.29%
Beauty and Personal Care20.72%2.82%0.82%0.95%0.06%0.35%
Business and Finance20.68%3.14%1.18%1.09%0.04%0.24%
Computers and Electronics24.65%2.83%1.75%1.51%0.04%0.31%
Creative Services/Agency23.65%3.36%1.89%1.75%0.04%0.37%
Daily Deals/E-Coupons13.2%1.88%0.17%0.15%0.02%0.09%
Education and Training22.49%3.42%1.04%1.01%0.03%0.21%
Entertainment and Events20.93%2.51%0.88%0.85%0.04%0.27%
Health and Fitness24.27%3.64%0.83%0.74%0.03%0.14%
Home and Garden26.44%4.40%1.04%0.82%0.06%0.39%
Marketing and Advertising18.81%2.44%1.3%1.22%0.04%0.29%
Media and Publishing22.93%5.14%0.47%0.33%0.02%0.12%
Medical, Dental, and Healthcare22.76%3.07%1.25%1.37%0.06%0.29%
Music and Musicians22.49%3.03%1.08%0.96%0.04%0.31%
Photo and Video27.03%4.28%1.25%1.22%0.05%0.41%
Professional Services21.72%3.21%1.69%1.51%0.04%0.34%
Public Relations19.98%2.15%1.26%1.20%0.03%0.25%
Real Estate22.12%2.68%1.29%1.33%0.07%0.34%
Recruitment and Staffing20.77%3.17%1.10%1.24%0.04%0.33%
Restaurant and Venue22.56%1.58%1.02%0.92%0.04%0.38%
Social Networks and Online Communities21.98%3.89%0.64%0.62%0.03%0.24%
Software and Web App21.86%3.26%1.64%1.52%0.04%0.4%
Travel and Transportation20.0%2.77%1.12%0.91%0.04%0.24%
Vitamin Supplements18.12%2.44%0.62%0.6%0.06%0.27%

As you can see, the numbers are pretty good. And the open-rate and click-through can be even better if you target a specific audience. For example, if you are en ecommerce, your open rate will be higher if you promote underwear and the subscribers joined that specific list you have created, instead of the generic ecommerce newsletter. So, using different segments or sub-lists, you can perform even better. The more personalized you are the more winning your campaign will be.

Below is my personal example of a campaign targeted on a specific audience (1) vs a general newsletter (2)


  1. MailChimp_Dashboard___TheWebMate 2
  2. MailChimp_Dashboard___TheWebMate

The open and click-through rate, as you can see, is higher.

The are many services you can use to manage your mailing list and email marketing campaigns. You can use tools as MailChimp or GetResponse. Otherwise you can try LeaDNA, with a wide range of Marketing automation and lead generation tools.

I have a direct experience with MailChimp which I think it’s great. GetResponse and LeaDNA are both email marketing and automation platform where you can create landing pages and automate your marketing tasks. LeaDNA also has a Social Media management tool you can use to integrate in your strategy.

Ok this is great! But..

How can I grow my mailing list and gain new subscribers?

First thing, it’s not an overnight job and you have to work really hard on your content strategy and branding. Based on my personal experience I see blog posts as the main source of subscribers. The reason is simple: if people enjoy your content they will enjoy getting more of them and therefore they are more likely to receive your latest posts in their email box.

Furthermore you can personalize your blog layout in order to have a more attractive call to action. This is one of the best thing about a personal website: it’s your own space and you can decide what to change and when.


As a WordPress user, I like to test different layouts to increase my newsletter subscriptions. Here are the main layouts settings you can use on your website:

Sticky sidebar

The sticky sidebar is one of the best widgets you can use. It’s the one you can see on your right “following” you while scrolling down the page. It’s great and very effective.

After post

The after post light box is a call to action you can use to invite people subscribing to your newsletter after they have read your blog post. You can see it at the end of this post.

Slide in

The slide in subscription form will appear at the bottom of your page at a specific moment. You can decide when, based on time (ex. after 10 seconds on the page) or after a user has reached a certain point of the page scrolling it down. (ex. the 50% of the page)

Popup LIghtbox

Despite many users and marketers hate pop-ups, this is the most effective opt-in form you can use in order to grow your mailing list. Most of pop- ups appear in the wrong moments, that’s why many people don’t like it. Publishers are also using it to display ads. But, if the pop-up appears after you have read a post and while you are about to leave the page is another story. Especially if you are asking to join your newsletter and you are offering something interesting to your readers. For example, you can offer an e-book, a white paper or a discount. The system behind this is called exit-intent. It means that the system will automatically understand when you are about to leave the page and shows you the message at the right time. Pure magic 🙂

And yes! If you try to leave the page now you will see that pop-up 🙂 Feel free to join my newsletter if you think this post is interesting!

Ok. These are the sign-up forms you can decide to use on your website. If you are wondering how you can create these newsletter subscription forms don’t worry, it’s easy. I am using OptinMonsterIt allows you to use beautiful templates and create appealing light boxes to show your message.

It can also be integrated with all the major email marketing platforms so your new subscribers will be automatically included inside your lists.

Well! Wow, that was long! I hope you enjoyed this post. I will deepen specific topics in the next posts so, if you have any comment about it, please drop a line below or just send me an email. I will be happy to reply you!

If you think this post was interesting, feel free to share it with your friends or colleagues! I can bet they’ll appreciate it! 🙂

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