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Interview: Diana Marinova, a freelance marketing consultant

bsoco: Diana, can you introduce yourself? Who is Diana Marinova?

Diana Marinova: I am a freelance marketing consultant by day and a traveler by heart. When I am not working on clients’ projects and trotting the globe, I blog and write books to help fellow freelancers break free from the rat race and start living on their own terms. I am also working on my second startup idea – PictraMap – a free online tool to create interactive animated travel maps.

A few years ago I found my passion for traveling and today, I fully enjoy the freelance lifestyle – working from home allows me to travel and live in various places without compromising with my work, passions or work-life balance.

bsoco: Which is the most important aspect of your expertise?

Diana Marinova: Interesting question. The answer would be two-fold since I offer services to both small business owners and fellow freelancers.

As a marketing consultant, I’d say the most important aspect of my expertise is the ability to step back and look at the big picture. My clients love me for asking many questions, the right questions at the right time. This way I learn everything there is to learn about any given company, their audience and market, so that I can offer the most suitable course of action to integrate various marketing communication channels.

In today’s world, if you want your business to succeed, you have to make everything about your customer. Not all business owners know that. I help them realize it and map out their road to success with that in mind.

My specialties are email marketing strategy planning & copywriting, social media marketing strategy & planning, content marketing strategy & planning, and website analysis to improve ROI (return on investment). I also do training for clients and team members alike.

As a freelance mentor and coach, I’d say the most important aspect of my expertise is the methodical approach I pass on to fellow freelancers how to go from zero to hero. I share insights from my 5+ years of experience as a freelancer, helping others not to repeat my mistakes. I give fellow freelancers structure and practical tips on how to attack and solve any given problem they have during the course of their freelance career.

However, I am not embarrassed to say that I don’t have all the answers all the time. My “students” and I often figure out problems and solutions as we go. So flexibility, my ability to assess situations and think on my feet is what comes in handy in those cases.

bsoco: Which trends appear in the field of email marketing?

Diana Marinova: Although email marketing best practices may differ from industry to industry, a few trends that come to mind are:

- Strategy and campaign planning – email marketing is not just about sending random emails to a bunch of people. To be successful, every business should have a clear idea what people comprise their email lists. Also, shaping the email marketing activities toward a specific goal is key. Integrating email as a communication channel with all other marketing initiatives (social media, blog and website, search engine optimization, etc.) is another key.

- Email marketing automation – I still see people sending mass emails with hundreds of email addresses in the CC or BCC field. That’s a bad practice. There are many email marketing tools which every self-respecting business can and should utilize to grow their lists and better communicate with prospects and clients. To name a few which I have used happily – Mailchimp, Constant Contact, iContact. There are more, that’s for sure. Each tool has its pros and cons so everyone should choose a tool based on their immediate needs and priorities – which aspect of email marketing you value the most (list growth, autoresponders features, tracking and analytics, contacts management, segmentation, integration with other tools, etc.)

- Simplicity and responsive design – the share of mobile users grows every day so it’s no wonder readability across devices is a trend. Simple emails which are appealing to desktop and mobile users alike is what everyone should aim for.

- Personalization and relevancy of emails – building a relationship with prospects and customers is of crucial importance for every business today. Segmenting your contacts into different groups or lists, letting contacts opt-in for a specific list and choose their own targeting, enables the business to send only relevant information which they specifically asked for. This way you keep a healthy list. Personalizing your emails brings you one step closer to maintaining a healthy list – from starting your emails with “Dear [name]” all the way to offering a product or service based on their past behavior (purchase of a product, abandoned order, content they engaged on, etc.) – this is what experts call “predictive intelligence”.

- Increased usage of pop-ups and hello-bars for list growth – although annoying at times, pop-ups do work well for list growth if done right. You should choose carefully the triggers of the pop-ups – don’t serve a pop-up multiple times during the same visit; don’t suffocate the user with a pop-up the second he or she lands on your website; place your pop-up in such a way that it is not intrusive but is complementary to the content you are serving on your website.

bsoco: What should an organization that wants to develop a strategy for the email marketing management consider?

Diana Marinova: Well, I briefly discussed this in my previous answer but to summarize – every business, developing their email marketing strategy and campaigns, should:

  • - Outline their audience profile and buyer personas
  • - Address  their customers’ needs through content and personalized email interactions
  • - Have a clear goal what the business wants to achieve with their email marketing efforts
  • - Utilize email marketing automation tools
  • - Integrate their email marketing with all other communication channels
  • - Make their emails simple and with responsive design

 

bsoco: Thank you for your answers.

For more, check Diana’s Freelance Marketing Blog.