6-Tips to Step Outside Your Comfort Zone

I can attribute the vast majority of my success to my ability and willingness to invest in myself. Below is a screenshot of my notebook from 13 years ago. I recently found it and more than a decade later it's completely relevant. had I not invested in myself I wouldn't have the level of success I enjoy today.

Below I will share with you 6-Tips you can apply right now!

That's the main reason I created the BOLD Accelerator program – is to deliver training, strategy, coaching & guidance to help you get to the next level of what's truly possible.

 As part of the program I will share the details of this notebook & how it applies to all of us right now. Invest in your future self. You deserve it. 

Should I make a vlog?

The two questions I get asked the most are:
1. "How do I scale my marketing & my business?"
2. "Should I make content or a vlog?"
 
Here's the answer to #1:  Make ongoing micro-content and a vlog or docu-series.
 
Here's my answer to #2:  It would be selfish not to make content or a vlog.
 
Selfish? Really?
Yes. Selfish.
 
We are living through a time where we no longer are dependent on the media companies. You don't need a magazine or TV network to share your message or advertising. YOU can become the TV Network. You can own your message. You can own your narrative. And you should.
 
Topics: Digital Marketing Strategy

How Creative Fatigue Impacts Your Marketing

Marketing is a creative endeavor. No matter what you're promoting, you need to consider your customer's needs and figure out the best way to communicate with them. There's no such thing as a perfect marketing campaign. Even when you're successful you need to constantly revise your message and keep it fresh. This is where creative fatigue often sets in. You find yourself in a rut, unable to think of new and exciting approaches. Let's look at why this happens and what you can do to overcome it.

Topics: Marketing Strategy marketing strategies

Don't Get Lost in Google Analytics: How to Organize Your Metrics with the Right Views

It's easy to get overwhelmed by Google Analytics. Even the first page gives you a lot of data at a glance. Once you start clicking deeper and deeper into the various categories and elements, it's hard to dig yourself back out. More data is almost always better than not enough data. But if you always leave Google Analytics feeling frustrating, confused, or you didn't get the answer you were looking for, you're not getting what you need to run your business.

The best way to use any analytics tool is to step back and make a plan. Before your next visit to the portal, think about what answers you're looking for and how the information will help your business grow. Give yourself a solid foundation and make sure all of your reports, searches, and glances are starting off with data that makes sense. Then you can start searching for specific, detailed answers that drive your future campaigns. When it comes to Google Analytics, a solid foundation starts with the right views.

Create a basic collection of different views.

Once you have your analytics ID added to every webpage, data will start rushing into your portal. You'll start seeing visitor stats, the number of different interactions, and everywhere your traffic is coming from. But that torrential flood of information isn't always helpful, and you need to know which metrics matter. Instead of going straight to reports and spreadsheets, make sure you filter the data through the right view first.

What are views?

Views give you data through different filters, or lenses. Rather than seeing all of your data all the time, a view gives you a specific subsection of the data. Views can be inclusive, such as if you want to only see information about Chrome users, or exclusive, such as when you want to ignore internal employees' visits.

However, views don't just act like filters. The type of data in every view you create is permanently limited, and the excluded data isn't saved. This helps keep your standard stats and analytics easy to read. It also helps reduce the amount of manual clicking and filtering you have to do to find answers in your data. But because that data is gone once you remove it from your collection of views, it's important to build the right ones from the beginning. Here are four views your account needs to have:

Keep a raw view of your data.

You probably won't use raw data very often. But having a comprehensive, completely unfiltered pool of data is a great resource. Not only can you use the view for archival data, but you can also compare the other views against it as you start to experiment.

Create a view without confounding data.

Not all traffic is traffic that you want to measure. If your web designer is repeatedly refreshing a page to test out new designs, that can skew your statistics. If your IT department set your business's website as everyone's homepage, that can inflate your daily numbers. Even bots and web-crawling algorithms can interfere with your analysis. 

So create a second view that excludes the visitors and interactions none of your marketing and sales departments need to measure.

Give yourself a sandbox view for testing new ideas.

Once you become more familiar with Google Analytics, you are going to have more and more complex analyses. That means your views will also become more complicated as you investigate specific areas of the data. But, like any settings change or online edit, you want to test it first.

Create a third view that's identical to the view without confounding data. But label it as your test view instead. Then you can test and modify this view until you get what you're looking for. Once it's just right, rename it to describe the view settings. Then create a new copy of the view without confounding data and label it as a test view. That way, you're all set up for the next time inspiration or a new market strikes.

Start building views for different teams.

Your marketing and sales directors will need a holistic glance into all of your external traffic. It will help them reallocate focus and see the big picture. But if your departments are split into smaller teams that handle different regions, you can give them specific views that help them understand their region without any unwanted "noise" from the rest of the data.

One of the best ways to create views is through geographic markers. Make a view for your North American, EMEA, and other teams. Depending on your business, interactions from consumers in the United States of America might drown out activity from visitors in other countries. 

If you have separate marketing teams for mobile and desktop users, you can also create views for their use. Even customers that fall under the same customer persona can start to interact with your site very differently depending on the device they're using at the moment. Using separate views from the start helps you get to the bottom of skewed or unexpected patterns.

You can also create reciprocal views that answer the other side of the equation. For example, you can build views that filter out different ages, regions, and sources to focus on a core group. Then you can build a reciprocal view that either brings them back in or focuses on the excluded groups. This improves focus on the bigger picture. It's also a great way to make sure your first view doesn't accidentally exclude too much information.

Once you're comfortable creating views, make them part of your active strategies, too. If your company plans on expanding outside of your tri-state area or you have campaigns designed to reach a new market in a specific, create a view so a dedicated employee can focus solely on the new development. The number of views you can have per account has a cap, but temporary views for new projects are a great tool to use until the expansion stabilizes and you can cut back to a more generalized regional view.

 

But data is only the start. You also need great marketing materials and digital strategies to get the stats you're looking for. Go to the BOLD Worldwide for content tips, omnichannel marketing ideas, and social media campaign strategies that can drive new leads to your website.

2019 Marketing Assessment Tool

Topics: marketing analytics data & analytics in marketing google analytics

7 Simple Steps to Build a Successful Social Media Presence

Social media is almost too simple. It's easy to imagine that to market your business, all you have to do is transfer your knowledge from personal usage or learn as you go. In reality, of course, that is far from the case.

Like any other marketing strategy, social media requires careful thought and consideration. Put simply, you have to make sure that you don't just post the right content, but also stand out compared to other businesses in your and other industries.

Social media, after all, is where most of your potential customers spend their spare time. We now spend more than 2 hours on our favorite networks every single day. More than two-thirds of all Americans are active on Facebook alone, ranging in age from 18 all the way to 65 and above. If you want to get your message through and establish yourself as a reputable brand, an effective social media presence should be among your first steps.

Getting to that point can be complex. Fortunately, regardless of your business and audience, you can break the process down in easily digestible and achievable chunks. More specifically, you can take these 7 steps to market your brand on social media, and grow your revenue and reputation.

1) Understand Your Audience

First, a basic marketing truth: no promotional effort should start without consideration of your audience. You need to know exactly who you're trying to reach and convince with your messaging before you go about doing so.

Your audience can differ significantly based on the type of brand you manage and industry you're in. You probably already have a good idea of who they are. It makes sense to get specific in terms of demographics, life cycle stage, and professional standing. A quick analysis of current and past customers can give you a good start.

2) Choose Your Platform

Based on the audience you found in your analysis above, it's time to choose the channel through which you will communicate with them. Facebook tends to be the most common answer, because it's the only social network that cuts through all demographics and age groups. But it's not your only option.

Match your demographics with this research by the Pew Research Center. You might find that Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn are actually great overlaps. Don't follow your temptation to go with the platform you're most familiar with; instead, choose the one your audience knows and uses the most.

3) Build a Brand Page

Once you know your platform, you have to build your presence. That means building a 'brand page' or profile representing not you personally, but your business.

On some platforms, that's relatively simple. Instagram, for instance, only requires a name, profile picture, and short description. Other options, like Facebook, are more complex. This tutorial can guide you through the process of building a page that accurately reflects your brand and services offered.

4) Focus on Visual Content

In social media, and marketing in general, visuals matter. So much, in fact, that they significantly improve almost any type of post you can make. Studies show time and time again that regardless of the specific platform you focus on, posts with images, graphics, or video generate more clicks and engagement than those without.

You can use that fact to your advantage. Share content directly related to your brand and products, from images to video and infographics related to your brand and industry. Make it a goal: everything you post should come with at least one relevant visual attached.

5) Go for Value, Not Promotion

You might look to use social media to market your brand, but your audience doesn't. Rather than pushing out direct marketing messages, it makes much more sense to focus on content that your audience actually wants to engage with.

What does that value look like? For your brand, it might range from tips connected to your product to more general advice and updates on industry trends. As long as it's broadly connected to the renting experience, it's relevant to your business.

Of course, you don't want to forego promotion altogether. After all, you need to use the medium to actually grow your business and revenue. Try to follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of the posts you share should add value for your audience, and only 20% should be promotional about your brand.

6) Post Consistently

On social media, consistency is key. If you only post updates occasionally when the mood strikes, you will have little chances of gaining followers or seeing your content appear in your audience's newsfeed. Instead, it pays to approach your posting schedule strategically.

Facebook, for instance, is most successful for brands that post at least once per day. For Twitter, that number may go up to 15. Spread your messages out by using a free scheduling tool like HootSuite, which allows for consistency without constantly requiring your time.

7) Engage Your Audience

Finally, never underestimate the social aspect of the medium. Rather than approaching the channel as a one-way street, you need to consider it a holistic conversation. Your posts should seek engagement, and when current and potential customers comment, it makes sense to respond promptly and in a friendly, personal manner.

To achieve this goal, you should also look to connect your personal and professional efforts on social media. You might already be using your personal Facebook account to let your friends and connections know about available properties. So why not occasionally direct them to your page, or share content from your page? The stronger the connection, the more you can connect your natural personal brand to your business efforts.

That's it. Taking these steps is all you need to make sure your brand is well represented on social media. Take them, and you can not just attract more customers but also increase the satisfaction of your existing audience. As long as you consistently deliver value and engage your audience, you don't need to be a professional marketer to use social media to your advantage. Contact us to get help in that process.

Topics: social media social media marketing digital marketing

What is Integrated Marketing, and Should Your Agency Promote It?

If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: integrated marketing. No matter what that means, it sure sounds fancy. That's probably why so many marketing agencies now claim to be experts in this field.

And yet, as you probably already know, there is more to marketing than fancy jargon. Sure, you have to understand exactly what integrated marketing actually means. But once you do, you might come to the same conclusion we have: it's such a natural concept that it shouldn't even be mentioned. When you get to that point, you might just reconsider how you evaluate potential marketing partners.

What is Integrated Marketing?

While the general concept is as old as corporate communication itself, the first formal definition hails from the late 1980s. In his landmark book Integrated Marketing Communications, Don Schultz (a professor at Northwestern University) formulated a strategy to bring all brand-related communications under a single roof.

The goal: to manage "all sources of information about a product which behaviorally moves the customer toward a sale and maintains loyalty." If that sounds elementary, it just might be. But it's important to understand that during this time, marketing communications was fragmented. Media relations, advertising, and other channels were often represented by very different departments and purposes.

Formal integrated marketing seeks to unify the process of communication with internal and external audiences. The idea is to focus on the consumer. For your business, PR and advertising may be different functions. But for your audience, they're both different expressions of the same brand and should be treated consistently as a result.

In today's fragmented media environment, that concept is more important than ever. Consider, for instance, an average female in her late 20s. During a given day, she may:

  • Listen to Spotify on her way to work
  • Check her phone for Instagram and Facebook updates
  • Browse Google or Apple News for relevant stories to her work
  • Drive past a billboard on her evening commute
  • Watch Hulu on her tablet or laptop.

During any of these (any countless other) activities, this member of your target audience will get countless brand messages. Even as a potential B2B buyer, she will interact with a wide range of digital and traditional media. The only way to stand out is to take a multi-channel approach, reaching her in various ways to break past the noise and competition.

Of course, she will only make the connection if all of the messaging follows the same, consistent patterns, visuals, voice, and tone. That, in a nutshell, is integrated marketing.

Why Do So Many Agencies Claim to be Integrated?

Because it sounds good. Is that too simplistic? Maybe. But at its core, that's exactly why so many marketing agencies tout the fact that they are fully integrated. 

Make no mistake: as established above, integrated marketing is a positive concept. In fact, it might even be essential to any modern marketing success. So naturally, agencies are bumping each other looking to get to the front row of potential clients' eyes. Look at me! Aren't you impressed with how integrated our marketing is?

At first glance, you might be. Which is exactly why their promotional materials highlight that fact so much. It's just one of those jargon words, used by those you expect to be authorities in the field. So as a result, an  increasing number of marketing agencies are using it to establish themselves as just that.

4 Reasons to Not Fall for the Promise of an Integrated Marketing Agency

Agencies claim to be integrated. Now, you know exactly what that means. So should you be persuaded by it? At first sight, the answer may appear to be yes. But then you look beyond that first impression, and the reality is not as pretty. In fact, here are 4 reasons you might not want to partner with an agency that bases its expertise and credibility on the fact that they're 'integrated.'

1) It Doesn't Actually Say Much

Over the years, IMC has gone from being a relatively new business concept to status quo. In the process, the term itself has gotten diluted. You will now see countless agencies claiming it as their own, without actually explaining what it means.

When they do, the explanations all tend to be similar: we build your business by integrating multiple media channels. But for any marketing agency offering services beyond a single channel, that should be a given. The term has lost its meaning, simply because it's a core assumption of any successful marketing today.

2) Real Marketing Results Might Differ From Claims

Be wary of any vendor or partner who cannot back up their claims. It's easy to build an entire web presence around the fact that the agency offers integrated marketing services. But is that actually the case?

It might be. Then again, it might not. Look not just for the tagline or business mantra, but real-life evidence of integration. That evidence should present itself in case studies, client portfolios, and third-party references rather than a brand-based marketing claim. 

3) The Chicken and Egg Argument of Credibility

As you evaluate potential marketing partners, pay special attention to the causation of any integrated marketing claim: is it based on a history of actual, tangible integration, or used purposely to build credibility in the eyes of potential clients?

Too often, it's the latter. Be weary of cheap marketing tricks designed to seem authentic. Yes, the agency might have been built during the times when Schultz first coined the term. More likely, though, they were simply looking for the words most clients respond to. Anytime you see integration used as a way to build instead of showing credibility, look in a different direction.

4) If It's Essential to Marketing, Why Even Claim it?

Modern marketing is integrated. It's impossible to stand out in today's noisy media environment without building a multi-channel approach. A customer-centric focus is familiar to any company looking to build its marketing strategy on the basic buyer's journey.

That, in turn, leads to a simple conclusion: any modern marketing agency, almost by default, needs to be integrated. Promoting it as a core competency is stating the obvious. It's akin to a dairy farm claiming that its milk is fresh. That should be a basic assumption, not a differentiating factor.

As you look for potential marketing partners, should you consider how well they integrate an omnichannel approach to build a single voice for your brand? Absolutely. But in today's environment, that just means finding a competent marketing agency. It's a core assumption of the business. Any vendor who seeks to specifically highlight it might not be the right fit to truly elevate your marketing efforts. Contact us to get started on finding the right partner.

 

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Topics: marketing tips marketing strategies Integrated Marketing

6 Ways Social Media Helps with More Than Just Marketing

Social media marketing helps strengthen your business. You can tap into new markets and remind consumers about what you have to offer. You can also use social media to set the tone of your business, and that matters with every demographic. 

But it can be hard to see those benefits, especially if you aren't getting a lot of conversions from your social media campaigns. You might also feel like your target market is heavily on or influenced by social media. Chances are that social media is more impactful than it first appears, but that can be a hard sell if you're setting your marketing budget.

Instead of focusing on how social media interactions can grow your business directly, here are six ways they're a vital way of strengthening your company:

1. More activity means your social media channels show up in search results.

Search engines care about social media. If any part of your business relies on organic search results, that means you have to care about social media, too. If you consistently have a lot of engagement and interactions on your social media channels, that makes them more likely to show up on the first page when someone is searching for your company. 

A search result that you control the content of is much better than a forum or a third-party review site. While all positive exposure is a good thing, your social media profiles are more customizable. You control the information. On a third-party site, viewers can be pulled away by reviews, competing advertisements, and alternative suggestions.

2. Active followers will let you know if something goes wrong.

If your followers feel like they can reach out to you, they will. This means they'll let you know when a page is down, when your shopping cart isn't working right, or if something else is going wrong. The holiday shopping season is right around the corner, and the faster your response time is the better.

While you might not want to remove even negative Facebook and Twitter comments, they're less set in stone than other review avenues. You can respond positively and thank your followers for feedback on social media. Eventually, comments will fade in the feed. But on Yelp or other local business directories, negative reviews can stay above the fold for a very long time. You also might not see them quickly enough to provide good solvency.

3. Don't let fake channels steal your spot.

The Internet likes nothing more than a good joke. But it likes a bad joke almost as much. Prominent political figures, major corporations, and celebrities almost always have spoof social media accounts following them. The last thing your company needs is a joke spokesperson controlling your online presence. If nothing else you need those likes and shares to keep your authentic channels on top.

If you claim the closest available derivatives of your company name, you also stop competitors from taking them. This prevents confusion if a similar company to yours that's halfway across the country starts posting coupon codes or harmful gaffes.

4. Measure which posts spread the farthest.

Likes and shares aren't cold, hard cash, but they tell you when your campaigns are working. Social media interactions are the some of the first steps in converting consumers to customers, and they give you a lot of data along the way. 

Social media campaigns should ultimately drive traffic to your site, especially traffic that will subscribe and make purchases. But individual posts within your campaigns may have a different goal, such as spreading awareness of your brand.

Likes and shares are what push your content forward outside of the small circle of your followers. Analyze the data to see which posts get shared to secondary and tertiary connections. For example, if a direct follower of your channel shares you post, it reaches a secondary audience (that follower's primary audience). If someone in that group shares your post, it reaches a tertiary audience. Measuring this lets you know if your campaigns work for a wider audience rather than your committed followers.

5. Compare your likes and shares to conversions.

You need to have a process for converting viewers to customers, and one of the best ways to support it is with ratios. For example, it may take 10,000 views to gain one new customer. Part of this may be that your post doesn't have traction, but it may also be that a split-second glance while someone scrolls down their feed counts as a view. Ultimately, you can't tell which views are deliberate.

Instead, make a ratio of likes or shares to customers. This helps you set better goals because the sharing and liking are deliberate actions. If you know a certain type of post needs 50 likes or shares to generate one new customer, you have a more defined goal.

6. Give customers easy ways to contact you.

A website is a 24/7 marketing and customer service engine. But not all of your customers will start searching for you on an Internet browser. The majority of browsing and online activity happens on mobile devices, and that means some customers will start their search in the social media app they have open. According to Forbes, social media is a great platform for offering customer service. 

Make sure you're easy to find on the first search, no matter what tool a customer is using. If they need to contact you to solve a problem, they're already going to be frustrated. Introducing even mild inconvenience is likely to make them leave negative reviews and comments. It will also make their call or email harder to resolve.

So turn on the alerts on all of your social media profiles and make sure each page has your company email, URL, and phone number.

Social media is primarily a marketing tool when you're using it for business. But it's also an integral customer service and IT tool, especially if you invest some time in setting up basic profile information. Go to BOLD Worldwide for more ways to multi-task your marketing and business goals.

2019 Marketing Assessment Tool

Topics: social media Marketing Strategy social media marketing

Three Ways to Make Better Content Faster

'Better' is a tricky idea. When you're creating content, of course, you want high-quality productions that establish your expertise and persuade leads to become customers. But your audience has a clear-cut view of better: immediate answers, entertaining or easy to absorb information, and topical articles. Here's how to make them:

Topics: Marketing Strategy Writing succesful content content engagement marketing strategies

5 Behind-the-Scenes Tactics for Reaching New Audiences with Your Content

Writing a good blog post isn't the only way to create good content. If you want to be seen by as many potential customers in your target market as possible, your content needs to be just as diverse as your audience. Textual, audio, and image-based content are all great ways to reach your audience. You can also reach your audience through email, social media, and on other people's sites. Both the material type and the platform can change to broaden your message. 

Topics: Content marketing Writing succesful content content engagement marketing strategies

Fill Out Your Email Marketing Content Without Filler: How to Make Meaningful Daily and Weekly Emails

Email marketing deserves your attention. Every email you send needs to be a step forward in educating your customers and helping them become more comfortable in your industry. If the leads on your subscription list don't feel comfortable choosing between different products or discussing the details of your niche, then they aren't going to make many purchases. Every email should be educational, entertaining, and another element of proof that you're a subject matter expert.

But emails can be even more than that. They're a direct line of communication between you and your most likely prospective customers, and, according to Forbes, they're one of the best ways to get leads. In fact, a good number of your subscribers will already have made a purchase from you. That means you have an interested audience to tell about your new features, upgrades, and upcoming events. Weave your promotions into customer-centric content to continue building that relationship.

The keyword there is content. If you don't have meaningful information to give your leads, you shouldn't be talking to them just yet. Here are four ways to ensure you always have that high-quality content your customer personas are looking for.

1. Use external sources and article links to build trust and authority.

Mailing lists are all built differently. You might have an email course that is 100% your original and educational content. You might have a daily or weekly email that shares thoughts and ideas to keep your community tied together. But if one of your email lists is strictly devoted to industry updates, you can include links to external articles and white papers.

While you want the majority of embedded links to direct traffic back to your site, sending it elsewhere is also good for business. Referencing industry experts and thought leaders better establishes your company as a knowledge base in your niche. It also helps educate your audience; a knowledgeable consumer is more likely to make purchases, and they are more likely to purchase from you if you're involved in their education. 

What else can you do with external content?

Build resources pages over time.

All audiences want their content curated for them. Instead of searching iTunes for all of the podcasts with a given topic and manually filtering through each one, listeners would rather search for recommendation lists. Instead of learning every facet of a marketable skill like coding or spreadsheet functions, people who want to improve their resume would rather have an organized course and list of vetted resources.

As you search for the right external content for your newsletters, you're going to come across resources that you think do an excellent job of explaining something technical. There are also going to be articles that resonate with your audience. If you're analyzing how to readers interact with your emails' links, you know what content your audiences prefer. So make a living list on your website.

Having a resources page won't stop people from joining your mailing list. It will encourage visitors to convert to leads because your company is providing value. External resources won't even stop visitors from reading your own content that covers the same topics. In the age of content consumption, visitors will binge on all available content over a topic.

Build ties with other companies adjacent to your niche.

So far, we've only talked about the benefits for your audience. But when you're linking to other people's content, you're benefiting them, too. Luckily, the Internet is not a zero-sum game. You're not giving them traffic at the expense of your own site. You're increasing the total amount of traffic, and everyone is benefiting.

To maximize your benefits, reach out to the people providing good content. Talk about the possibility of guest posts, with you providing content for their site and vice versa. Not only do link sharing and guest posts provide good feedback for search engine algorithms to read, you're building connections. Look for companies that provide adjacent services, rather than direct consumers, so you can also benefit from each other's leads without competition.

 

2. Know the future: build enthusiasm and customer knowledge for future events.

At the end of the day, email marketing is marketing. Creating good content and empowering your readers is certainly part of that, because knowledgeable leads turn into better buyers. But emails are also the perfect platform for promotional content. The readers have already demonstrated that they're interested in your company and they trust your expertise. If you have a new product release coming out or a future event, then you can prepare your audiences.

Sometimes your messages will be directly promotional: discounts, previews, and demos. But your email content can also be indirect. If you have a new product that solves a new problem, then talk about that problem. Your previous content may not have addressed the topic because you didn't have a ready-made solution, but now you can help your readers find the true cost of the problem, how to protect against it, and how different products or services help.

Prepare your audiences for future events with the same knowledge immersion. If your company is going to be at a tradeshow for a specific topic, talk about the subject in the weeks leading up to the event. This doesn't mean readers will be bored of the topic; it means it will be on their radar and they'll want more details. If you or someone from your company is presenting at an industry event, you can do the same thing so your readers feel like they have the inside scoop.

Each of these strategies reaches out to different audiences at different times. They use different tools, and they make use of content in different ways. But they all have the central premises in common:

  1. Plan out your emails ahead of time.
  2. Give readers the content they want, even if it's not fresh off of your printing press.
  3. Use email marketing in conjunction with the rest of your sales and marketing strategies.

If you think it's time to revitalize your subscriber lists with inbound marketing campaigns, we're happy to help. Go to BOLD Worldwide for the latest trends in content marketing, subscriber differentiation, and reading your email list analytics.

Topics: Content marketing Email Marketing Writing succesful content content engagement