Focus on capturing email leads. Even if email marketing isn’t as “sexy” as Instagram marketing, it’s still considered one of the best ways to stay in touch with your customers, drive sales conversions, and lower your marketing costs. From embedded opt-in forms on your website to offering lead magnets, always focus on capturing email leads. Because a lead today can turn into a paying customer tomorrow.
Marketing a product or service today is easier than ever before in history. Using platforms like Facebook ads or Google ads, a company can market their product directly to people who perfectly fit the ideal client demographic, at a very low cost. Digital Marketing tools, Pay per Click ads, and email marketing can help a company dramatically increase sales. At the same time, many companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools often see disappointing results.
In this interview series called “How to Effectively Leverage The Power of Digital Marketing, PPC, & Email to Dramatically Increase Sales”, we are talking to marketers, advertisers, brand consultants, & digital marketing gurus who can share practical ideas from their experience about how to effectively leverage the power of digital marketing, PPC, & email.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Christina-Lauren Pollack.
Christina-Lauren Pollack is a digital entrepreneur, lifestyle blogger and influencer, business-branding consultant and course creator. As the Founder of Inspiring Brands Academy, she loves educating women about online branding, marketing, advertising and publicity, and empowering them to take advantage of those opportunities.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
In high school, I dreamed of starting a lifestyle magazine with my friends. But, that proved too challenging for a group of teens in the ’90s. Fortunately, with the advent of the internet, social media, and the world of blogging — fast-forward a little over a decade, when my teenage dream finally became my reality.
In 2011, I launched my lifestyle blog-turned-business (Inspirations & Celebrations) as a “passion project”. What started out as a part-time creative hobby has since evolved into a growing business I love. In addition to my blog, I’ve also been a published magazine writer and have contributed to several publications and top media sites including Carmel Magazine, Shakers Magazine, The Los Angeles Fashion Magazine, and The Huffington Post.
As a result of everything I’ve learned over the past decade, my most recent venture that I launched (in 2021) is Inspiring Brands Academy®. With the mission to help other female small business owners learn how to harness the power of online marketing, I now offer private coaching sessions and online courses that teach entrepreneurs about digital branding, marketing, advertising, and publicity strategies.
Can you share a story about the funniest marketing mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
Fortunately, I haven’t made any major marketing mistakes, aside from spending $500 on a banner ad (that was placed on a major newspapers’ website). It’s not that the ad itself was a mistake, it’s just that it yielded such poor results that it ended up being a waste of money.
In my opinion, there’s no such thing as a failure if you’ve learned a valuable lesson.
In that case, the lesson learned was this — even though a publication’s media kit might look incredibly enticing, don’t always expect it to bring you all that it promises. In this case, their media kit said that their site garnered millions of unique visitors. Unfortunately, the banner ad I ran only got 35 clicks, literally. That equated to a CPC of $14. In comparison, I could’ve just run a Facebook ad and probably would’ve yielded closer to 600 clicks. Well, lesson learned.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I come from a family of serial entrepreneurs. Everyone including my Dad, Mom, and brother have been helpful in my career — from inspiration to strategic advice, they’re an invaluable asset for me to tap into.
My brother, Reagan Pollack (a serial entrepreneur, business advisor, and the author of the new business book, No Startup Left Behind: Learn How to Launch an Idea and Skyrocket to Startup Success) has been especially helpful for me. He always gives me no-nonsense, straight-forward advice and counsel. Whether he’s evaluating my marketing copy or assessing my website design, his expertise has always been a valuable resource for me to rely on.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Given my extensive background working with Fortune 500 and public companies, it’s helped me learn marketing from the best in the business. Because of this knowledge and experience, it’s given me an added edge. Not only do I understand how top companies marketing their brands, but it’s enabled me to share this wisdom with small startups and indie brands. Through my unique experience as a digital entrepreneur who has personally learned the art of online marketing, it helps me better understand every step of the journey that my clients and students are going through. Because of that, I can help them at every point in their marketing path.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
In my opinion, there are three character traits that have helped me become successful are ambition, authenticity, and perseverance.
No matter what business you’re in, you need to be a go-getter if you want to make anything happen. That’s why setting goals, motivating yourself each day, and focusing on what you want to achieve will help you go a long way. You have to be your biggest cheerleader in life.
Second to that, being true to yourself and expressing your unique authenticity will help to set you apart. Every memorable leader has their own personal traits and characteristics that make them stand out. If you’re known to be funny and tell great stories, use that to your advantage. Whoever you are, own it. That’s part of your unique power!
Thirdly, never give up. There will always be no’s in life, but remember — a no doesn’t necessarily mean never. In truth, instead of seeing a “no” as rejection, go one step further and find out why. You might learn that it’s just not the right timing, or perhaps you need to improve something first before you hear a “yes”. Don’t let a “no” discourage you from persevering. For example, it took one of the companies I manage 5 years to land a major chain, and we finally got our lucky break because their previous source of supply wasn’t able to keep up with delivery. So, keep going! You never know when a “no” will turn into a “yes”.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
My newest venture is Inspiring Brands Academy® which launched in early 2021.
Through IBA, I offer private coaching sessions and online courses that enable female small business owners to learn how to save time, money, and energy doing online marketing. From digital branding and content creation tips to social media marketing, advertising, and publicity strategies, I love educating and empowering women-owned companies.
Through the Inspiring Brands Academy® Signature Course (which is a 10-week online course), I share my virtual roadmap to success. Featuring 10 modules, 50+ lessons, videos, step-by-step tutorials, downloadable PDFs, pro tips, and more, I teach business owners the following:
- Digital Branding
- Brand Photography
- Content Marketing + SEO
- Graphic Design
- Facebook Marketing + Ads
- Instagram Marketing
- Pinterest Marketing
- Email Marketing
- Influencer Marketing
In addition to the “Signature Course”, I recently launched the Inspiring Brands Academy® Social Media Marketing Course, which focuses exclusively on Facebook Marketing + Ads, Instagram Marketing, and Pinterest Marketing. This mini-course comes with 18 lessons (including videos, worksheets, and PDFs), making it faster and easier for brands to learn how to grow their online audiences, reach their ideal customers, and drive sales through smart social media marketing strategies.
Students can enroll in either course by visiting www.inspiringbrandsacademy.net/store.
Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. As we mentioned in the beginning, sometimes companies that just start exploring with digital marketing tools like PPC campaigns often see disappointing results. In your opinion, what are a few of the biggest mistakes companies make when they first start out with digital marketing? If you can, please share an example for each.
Having launched and managed a few online brands, I’ve done everything from Google ads to Twitter ads, and beyond. While Google ads can be helpful for driving traffic, they are somewhat challenging to manage (on the backend) and are not as targeted as alternatives like Facebook ads.
For example, if you want to reach Moms in California who are between the ages of 25–40, and have children under the age of 3, you can easily do that via Facebook ads. Whereas, with a Google ad, you can’t. The best you can do with Google ads is to optimize your keywords to improve PPC performance. That means, you’re essentially competing against other advertisers bidding on the same keywords. It also means that virtually anyone searching for those keywords (including women without children) might end up clicking on your ads. And, if those people are not your ideal customers, then you just wasted money on their click.
So, that’s why I often encourage my clients and students to opt for PPC campaigns that are not only easier to manage (because most business owners are not interested in learning complicated systems), but that also enable them to target a specific audience more easily.
If you could break down a very successful digital marketing campaign into a “blueprint”, what would that blueprint look like? Please share some stories or examples of your ideas.
A successful digital marketing campaign not only increases brand awareness and drives traffic to the advertiser’s website, but it also inspires organic engagement.
For example, when a brand runs a Facebook ad, that ad has the potential of going viral.
This means, that an inspiring and engaging ad can generate likes, comments, and shares, which vastly increases the organic reach of that ad. Not only does this help to significantly lower the cost for the advertiser, but it also tends to spur more sales conversions (due to the peer-to-peer influence of people sharing the ad on their feeds).
Think about it — if your Facebook friend just shared an ad on their feed, you’d see it in your feed. And, because you know and trust your friend, you’d most likely be more inclined to trust the brand that created the ad, which thereby encourages you to learn more about them.
Let’s talk about Pay Per Click Marketing (PPC) for a bit. In your opinion which PPC platform produces the best results to increase sales?
From personal experience (having used many PPC ad platforms), I believe that Facebook is one of the best online ad programs for small businesses. I say this, not only because they tend to have highly competitive PPCs, but also because of the robust targeting capabilities.
For example, if you own a beauty brand, you can create Facebook ads that reach beauty lovers who shop at Sephora and Ulta, who read publications like Allure, and who love brands that are similar to yours.
Can you please share 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful PPC campaign?
To start with, you need to determine your advertising objective. Are you trying to increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Capture leads? Or increase sales conversions? By figuring out what your goals are, this will help you to create a more successful campaign.
Secondly, establish your budget and time frame. You don’t need a lot of money to run an online ad campaign. To be honest, sometimes just testing an ad for just $5/day is all you need to figure out if that ad content is engaging or not.
Third, make sure you do split testing on your ads. This means to test ad copy and imagery before scaling your ads. This will save you a lot of money over the long-haul, as it will enable you to better assess which ads are attracting (and engaging) your ideal customers, and to invest more money into those ads. Sometimes it’s as simple as a headline change or tweaking a caption. Just do the A/B test first, then scale the winning ad.
Let’s now talk about email marketing for a bit. In your opinion, what are the 3 things that you need to know to run a highly successful email marketing campaign that increases sales?
To start with, when it comes to email marketing, there are a few different approaches you can take, depending on your type of business.
If you’re a consultant, coach, or service provider, you can craft personalized emails that read more like stories. Whereas, if you sell products or run an e-commerce site, you might want to stick with image-rich emails that promote the products you carry. You can even do this in creative ways like sharing helpful tips on how people can use your products. This approach is less “salesy”, and more inspirational, but can still drive sales conversions.
In addition to thinking through your email format, a key to email marketing success starts with the subject line. This is literally the first thing people see in their inbox, so you want to create catchy subject lines that encourage them to open the email.
Thirdly, you’ll want to ensure that you are assessing the analytics of your email campaigns. Most ESPs (email service providers) offer data insight, which shows open rates, click-through rates, and other types of engagement data. Figure out which types of emails get the most engagement, and then repeat that format for future emails.
What are the other digital marketing tools that you are passionate about? If you can, can you share with our readers what they are and how to best leverage them?
There’s no one-way to success when it comes to digital marketing. There are so many different paths, platforms, and systems you can use. I’d say that it just depends on which ones are best for your brand and business. Plus, it’s helpful to think about your personal talents or skills, as they can be harnessed for different outlets.
As an example, if you love taking photos, you might be best suited for Instagram marketing. Whereas, if you have a gift for gab, getting booked on podcasts could be a great option for you.
I recommend trying a variety of online marketing methods, seeing which ones perform best for you, and then putting most of your efforts into those tried-and-true strategies that work.
Here is the main question of our series. Can you please tell us the 5 things you need to create a highly successful career as a digital marketer? Can you please share a story or example for each?
Whenever I consult with brands, I would recommend:
- Establish your brand identity and branding strategy. What sets you apart? Why did you get into your business? What makes you different and unique? These types of questions can help you figure out your core messaging.
- Figure out who your ideal customer is. You can’t market to “everyone”. So, pick a target. Figure out who they are, what their interests are, and even where you can reach them. This will help you tailor your marketing campaigns more efficiently, so that your ideal customers resonate with your messages.
- Create an online marketing plan. Before you just start creating content or posting online, having a plan and a strategy in place first will help you be more efficient with your time and energy. Otherwise, you’re just throwing things up on the wall to see what sticks. That’s why knowing what you’re going to create, how you’re going to amplify (or promote) it, and when and where you’re going to market will help you get organized.
- Optimize your website. Whether you sell products or services, make sure that your website is both mobile-friendly and easy-to-navigate. With more people doing online searches via their smartphones, you’ll want to ensure that your website is easily accessible via mobile and desktop. This also helps reduce bounce rates and encourages people to stay on your website longer (which improves the SEO performance).
- Focus on capturing email leads. Even if email marketing isn’t as “sexy” as Instagram marketing, it’s still considered one of the best ways to stay in touch with your customers, drive sales conversions, and lower your marketing costs. From embedded opt-in forms on your website to offering lead magnets, always focus on capturing email leads. Because a lead today can turn into a paying customer tomorrow.
What books, podcasts, videos or other resources do you use to sharpen your marketing skills?
I’m a fan of Neil Patel, as he’s always on top of new online marketing tools and strategies. His website has been an invaluable resource for me, especially pertaining to content marketing.
Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
In my opinion, the world needs more “feel good” stories and messages.
With so much sensationalized media, it often seems like everywhere we look something bad is happening. But, I believe there are lots of wonderful, positive things happening every day. That’s why stories that uplift and inspire people are so powerful.
So, if you have a story that will motivate, empower, or inspire someone — share it! People love learning about unique stories that are heartfelt, humanized, and touching.
Whether it’s through social media posts or getting publicity through the media, I wish that more people would share positive stories that impact the world in a good way.
How can our readers further follow your work?
To learn more branding, marketing, advertising, and publicity tips, subscribe to the free Inspiring Brands Academy e-newsletter by signing up at www.inspiringbrandsacademy.net.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!