What are your customers doing online? The answer is most likely social media, according to a new survey from Experian Marketing Services, which also showed five minutes of every hour is spent on shopping. A great deal of this social networking and shopping is happening on consumers’ mobile devices, which brings up the question, how are your online marketing efforts doing? Is your business well-represented on local search sites? How does your website look on a smartphone? Are you using social media to announce new products, promote daily specials and communicate with your customer? The truth is there’s probably more you could be doing, so make it a point to find out what you don’t know about online marketing and get your business on the right track.Google+
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Email Marketing Articles
An email newsletter is a key element of your content marketing strategy, driving users to your website, your social media accounts and your business. So if you’ve got an email newsletter, you’re ahead of the game. But how do you get more subscribers to help spread your content far and wide (and buy more stuff from your business)? Try these tactics.
1. Encourage sign-ups everywhere.
It’s essential to put a signup box above the fold on the home page of your website. Ideally, you should also have it on every page. But don’t limit yourself to your website. Regularly post on your social media sites reminding customers to sign up for your newsletter if they haven’t already. Or post content from the newsletter and then say, “To get articles like this every month, sign up for our newsletter (link).” If you send receipts or order acknowledgements by email, make sure those emails include a link to sign up for your newsletter.
And don’t limit yourself to the digital world, either. Have sign-up sheets at the point-of-sale checkout in your store; ask for signups when you give customers the check at your bar or restaurant; ask if customers want to sign up when you’re handing them the invoice after completing work on their home or car. You get the idea. You can also enclose information about your newsletter in packing slips when you ship product, stick it in the bag when customers buy at the counter, or print it on receipts.
2. Keep it simple.
Subscribing to a newsletter is often an impulse decision, so don’t smother the impulse by asking for too much information. To send out an email newsletter, all you really need is the person’s email (it’s nice, but not necessary, to have their name too).
Keep in mind, you can always collect more details about them later, after they’ve been a subscriber for a while and you’ve earned their goodwill. Customers will be more likely to provide personal details if they’ve grown to trust you and feel that they are getting something of value from your newsletter.
3. Offer something in return.
Bribery works. Make your newsletter desirable and encourage subscriptions by offering something in return. This could be a downloadable ebook on tax tips (for an accounting firm) or a $5 discount off the next purchase (for a clothing retailer or restaurant).
4. Make it shareable.
People trust their friends’ recommendations, so using social sharing is a great way to encourage new subscribers. Include icons in your email newsletter to make it easy for recipients to like or follow your business on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or whatever social media sites you use. Every issue of your newsletter should also include a friendly request asking customers to forward the newsletter to others who might enjoy it.
Image by Flickr user Sean MacEntee (Creative Commons)Google+
If you’re looking for a starter email marketing solution, Mailigen’s Epic Free email marketing solution lets small businesses have up to 5,000 subscribers before it charges a monthly fee. Create newsletters, signup forms and surveys from over 130 customizable templates. You’ll get real-time performance reports, plus, Mailigen integrates with Google Analytics. Mailigen’s branding is part of the emails, but if you ask them to remove it, they will. You can also post to your Facebook or Twitter account when you send out the emails and target your audience so subscribers get exactly the information they’re interested in.Google+
I have a confession to make: I have always been outgoing and perfectly comfortable talking to total strangers. I have walked right up to famous people I wanted to meet (mostly pro snowboarders and startup founders whose companies have gone big-time) and introduced myself. For some reason, though, cold calling and cold emailing are much harder for me to do, so I always give kudos to people who not only do it, but do it well.
When I was the editor at Tech Cocktail, I got pitched a lot via email. Whoever did a great job got my attention, a reply, and usually an article out of it. Now, I get pitched by companies selling a service I might be interested in, either as a small business owner or marketer.
If you want cold emailing to work for you, here are all the things your email must contain to grab the recipients’ attention:
1. Get basic information right
I cannot stress this enough: Make sure you get my name, company name, industry, location, and any other basic information about me that strengthens your pitch right.
2. Customize the message
Because you did your homework to confirm I am in your target market, throw in references to the industry and what I do to build trust and credibility.
3. Get to the point
If your email is long, there is no way I’m going to read it. Explain exactly why you are emailing me in your opening sentence.
4. Name name
If we have a friend, acquaintance, or client in common, tell me who it is rather than saying, “We have a mutual friend.” Say, “We have a mutual friend, Mark Zuckerberg*.” If Mark told you to contact me, let me know why.
5. List the benefits
Definitely let me know why I should meet with you, do business with you, or buy from you. How will working with you benefit me? And how, in turn, can I help you?
6. Offer meeting times and days
If you want to meet with me in person, let me know when and where you are available to meet. If you are so inclined, offer to pay for coffee or lunch.
7. Follow up
Acknowledge that I am busy, and offer to follow up in a week or so. You can also ask our mutual friend Mark Zuckerberg to follow up if you’d think it would help.
* I do not know Mark Zuckerberg, but if you do, feel free to make an email introduction.
Do you use cold emailing regularly or on occasion? What have you found works best for you?
Image courtesy of colourbox.comGoogle+
The best way to catch a mistake in your email marketing messages is by sending out test emails to a few people who can check for formatting, grammatical, and spelling mistakes. Before doing that, though, run through this checklist to make sure you avoid these 7 common mistakes to begin with:
1 – Messing up email personalization
If I had a dollar for every time I got an email that said, “Hi [FirstName]” – well, I wouldn’t be rich, but I could go out for a very nice dinner tonight. While it’s not necessary to personalize greetings, it is a really nice touch. Just make sure email personalization is set up properly in the email marketing program you use.
2 – Emailing the wrong people
After you add contacts to your email marketing program, segment them into groups, such as company executives, small business owners, VIP customers, partners, etc. That way, when you send out an email, you know it is reaching the right people with the message you wrote specifically for them. Before you hit send, doublecheck that you selected the right group (or groups).
3 – Forgetting to add an unsubscribe option
It is actually illegal to not offer an easy way for your email recipients to unsubscribe to your email list, so make sure every email contains this option. But make it easy – let people click on a link to unsubscribe rather than forcing them to email you back with “unsubscribe” in the subject line or body of the email.
4 – Offering only HTML versions of your emails
Despite all the incredible advances in browser and mobile technology, some programs and devices just cannot handle HTML versions of emails. Always include a text option to make sure you can reach everyone on your list.
5 – Not adding links
You send out emails to increase sales, so make it easy to convert “maybes” into “yeses.” Link back to products, services, and downloadable content on your website, and, if you include an email address, hyperlink that as well so people can email you with one click.
6 – Leaving out social share buttons
At this point, forgetting to add social share buttons to any of your marketing communications is like forgetting to add your company name or signature. If you want to grow your social media audience and extend the reach of the content you share, always include those buttons.
7 – Not including contact information
This is my biggest pet peeve across online communications – hiding contact information. Make it super easy for people to contact you – via phone, email, snail mail, fax, carrier pigeon – whatever. Display that information front and center. Your customers will thank you.
What other mistakes have you seen?
Image courtesy of coachmunro.comGoogle+
By RIeva Lesonsky
Are your email marketing messages optimized for mobile? They’d better be. According to the latest Return Path global bi-annual mobile email report, 37 percent of U.S. respondents surveyed now open their email on mobile devices, compared with the 30 percent opening them through webmail in a browser. The percentage of emails opened on mobile devices has increased 300 percent since 2010 and shows no sign of slowing down, says the report. Here’s some more of what you need to know:
Platform matters: While Android mobile phones still dominate in the U.S., Apple device users are more likely to open and read email on a mobile device than any other group. Although Windows Mobile saw an 85 percent increase in email opens since April 2012, it still accounts for just 0.3 percent of total email opens on smartphones.
Industry variation: Certain industries’ emails are more likely to get opened on a mobile device than others. The retail (40 percent), consumer product (40 percent) and real estate (38 percent) industries lead the way.
Is it safe? The information being sent via email is also a concern. For example, banking-related emails were less likely to be opened on mobile devices due to security worries.
Desktops aren’t obsolete…yet: Users check email more often on a desktop than on a mobile device during the day. I’d surmise that’s probably because they are sitting in front of their computers at work, but as more workplaces incorporate tablets into the work day, the desktop is likely to become less and less dominant.
Mobile sitting still: It’s a myth that mobile purchasing is taking place out of home. Just 22 percent of mobile purchases take place on the go; 18 percent occur at work and more than half (51 percent) take place at home. Your customers are more likely to be opening that email in bed or on the couch than in the car, so keep that in mind when designing your message.
If you doubt optimizing email for mobile matters, keep these facts in mind: Return Path found that email marketing messages drive twice as many conversions as social media or search. In addition, the average order value is higher on mobile devices, whether tablet or smartphone. However, since even those who open their emails on mobile devices still make most of their purchases on the desktop, you need to make sure your emails are optimized for both platforms.
Image by Flickr user Brad Flickinger (Creative Commons)