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5 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Emails for Mobile

October 1st, 2012 ::

I constantly check email on my iPhone when I am out and about – and I bet you do too.  Your prospective and current clients do as well, so if email marketing is part of your marketing strategy, it is vitally important that your emails are quick to download and read while remaining engaging.

Marketo published a blog post with 5 valuable tips that perfectly summarized how to create effective mobile-friendly emails.  They are all easy to implement, always a bonus!

1. Keep subject lines short

Take a quick look through your email on your phone.  After 4 or 5 words, the rest of the subject line disappears due to space constraints.  Grab your reader’s attention with a short but punchy subject line that captures the meat of what you are trying to say.

There is an email currently sitting in my inbox that does this perfectly. Backblaze, a terrific company I use for online backup, sent an email reminding me that my trial is over and I need to buy the service.  The subject line is “Backblaze backs up automatically,” which is a great reminder of how awesome Backblaze is and one of their major value propositions.

2. Check the text version of your email

Smartphones and tablets can be temperamental sometimes, rendering your HTML email unreadable – I used to see this a lot. Always doublecheck the text version of your email to make sure it looks OK and that any images or graphics are replaced with text.

3. Keep your message short

I skim marketing emails – pretty much everyone does.  If you want to get your message across, stay as concise as possible.   In Backblaze’s email to me, there is a header and 7 other, really short sentences. I can view the entire email on my screen without scrolling down.

4. Don’t go crazy with graphics

I still see companies doing this – and I am looking at one such example right now from a company whose identity shall remain private.  Because the email is so graphic-heavy, I cannot download the entire email.  Guess what? I am not going to read it; instead, I’ll delete it.  Don’t let that happen to you!  Keep your graphics small and simple.

5. Keep your call to action simple

Just as your subject line, message, and graphics need to stay simple and clear, so too does your call-to-action.  My favorites are buttons with clear instructions. Backblaze’s button is at the top of the email with “Buy your subscription now” on it.

No matter what your call-to-action is, make sure the landing page that call-to-action links to on your website is mobile-friendly, just like your email.  Marketo suggests removing JavaScript, Flash, and pop-ups from both the email and landing page to make sure they appear correctly on mobile devices.

What companies do you think do the best job of creating mobile-friendly emails?  What have you learned from them and applied to your own marketing emails? Share your tips below!

Image courtesy of bgr.com

Small Business Social Media Trends

February 21st, 2012 ::

social media trends

When it comes to small businesses, Anita Campbell, author of Visual Marketing, knows a thing or two.  Recently, Michael Stelzner of Social Media Examiner interviewed Campbell for her insight on small business social media trends.  Here are some of the key takeaways:

Believe it or not, some small businesses won’t get much business from social media, no matter how hard they try.  For example, a small landscaping company that gets most of its business from local neighborhoods may not see an impact from Facebook or Twitter.  Campbell suggests businesses like this should stick to fliers, word of mouth marketing, and customer testimonials to get their message to the target market.

Campbell’s biggest tip for growing an online community sounds familiar, but it is worth repeating:  When it comes to social media communications, don’t just broadcast – engage!  Campbell believes in pulling information back in from your social networks and fostering back-and-forth conversation, rather than sending out tweets and posts that simply tell your audience what you’d like them to know.  Give them a chance to talk, too, and you’ll get a better return for your investment on social media.

And, what is the biggest mistake Campbell sees small businesses making online?  It’s neglected websites, and they’re really a turn-off for customers.  When your website is out of date, and you greet customers with 2-year-old information, you’re sending customers a bad message.  If you are neglecting your website – your online storefront to the world – how much attention do you give to your customers or to other parts of your business?

Campbell is constantly watching small business trends through her sites, BizSugar and Small Business Trends, and here is what she is seeing now:

  • Everyone is going mobile, including small businesses.  They are embracing mobile marketing with text messaging, location-based coupons and QR codes.
  • Many small businesses are getting really good at social media.  They’re out there testing different campaigns and communications tactics, and they’re getting big results.

Are you one of the small businesses embracing mobile and excelling at social media?  You can check out more small business marketing tips and trends from Anita Campbell on BizSugar and Small Business Trends.

Image courtesy of creative design agency Arrae

5 Social Media Stats for Marketers

December 27th, 2011 ::


The more you know about social media and its expanding user base, the better you can harness its communication powers for your marketing campaign.  Luckily for you and me, the people at HubSpot and MarketingCharts regularly compile exhaustive data about social media sites and the folks who use them.  I downloaded their PowerPoint presentation chock-full of revealing statistics that can guide you as you plan and implement your social media marketing campaign.  I chose a handful of stats to share with you here.

If you’re not a numbers person, I promise it won’t be too painful.  But, if you like to see exactly where your social media marketing efforts stands, roll up your sleeves and dig in!

1. People love hanging out on Facebook

You probably know that Facebook dominates the social space, but did you know just how dominant this powerhouse is?  Facebook users spend an average of seven hours, 46 minutes per month on the site.  Users of runner-up AOL Media Network spend only two hours, 52 minutes per month.  So, users spend five more hours per month on Facebook than on its closest competitor, time-wise.  These results are a good indicator of where you should be spending your time, too!

2. LinkedIn is great for marketing and PR

Don’t count out LinkedIn.  Research shows a trend in LinkedIn’s growth over the past year.  In one month (August – September, 2011), LinkedIn grew its U.S. market share of visits from 0.57% to 0.64%.   It’s also a favorite among journalists; 92% of business journalists have a LinkedIn account.  If PR is part of your job, you may want to try pitching on this site.  And if you’re a B-to-B marketer, you should absolutely be using LinkedIn Groups to communicate with your customers, as the site hosts numerous professional and industry networking Groups.

3. Go mobile

Marketers should be watching the convergence of social and mobile closely.  This year, twice as many people age 55 and over visited social networks on their mobile phones, compared to last year.  Your customers are mobile, and you should be, too.

4. Social media influences purchases…

Social sites impact 35% of buying behaviors.  That’s right–your tweets and wall posts have the power to directly affect purchasing decisions.  Why not offer coupons and specials through social media channels to entice your customers even more?

5. …but is still intimidating to marketers

If you’re intimidated by social media, you’re not alone.  68% of CMOs reported being challenged by social media.  Respondents described feeling unprepared for the demands of marketing on social networks.

Even after dividing respondents into two groups (outperforming and underperforming), 66% of the top CMO’s reported feeling unprepared for social media marketing.

So, what do you do?  Do as I do, and look to the top experts for advice.  I subscribe to tons of industry newsletters and read loads of reports and blogs just to stay on top of what’s coming next in social media marketing.

With so many opportunities for engagement and an ever-expanding reach, social media is proving to be a commanding force in digital marketing.  To access the full PowerPoint presentation, visit HubSpot’s website.

Image courtesy of creative design agency Arrae

Mobile Tips for Productivity in 2012 #12SMBTips

December 27th, 2011 ::
This entry is part 11 of 12 in the series 12 Ways to Makeover Your Business in 2012

Mario Armstrong, Emmy-Winning Tech Expert (@marioarmstrong)

How can you use mobile phones to make your team more productive in 2012? Mario offers his top mobile tips for 2012 to have your team executing initiatives and meeting deadlines on the go… even in the cold weather!

About Mario Armstrong: Mario, much like the technology he loves, has always been an amalgamation of many different things: radio, TV and online media personality, motivational speaker, public servant, and social entrepreneur. In his heart, Mario wants to better people’s lives by educating them to leverage technology to enhance their personal and professional lives. You can find his mobile tips for small businesses at SmallBizGoMobile.com, or check him out at MarioArmstrong.com.

Special Offer from Network Solutions: Ring in the New Year for your small business with a new domain name. This month only, purchase a domain name for $1.99, the lowest price of the year. This offer expires December 31, 2011. Visit this special offer site to redeem. Terms, conditions and limitations to this offer apply. Happy Holidays!

Managing Finances With A Mobile Company

March 30th, 2010 ::

Not every business owner finds it necessary to have a central office these days. A surprising amount of work can be handled exclusively over the web, leaving a business with the ability to avoid the expenses of maintaining an office. It does take some careful planning, however, and perhaps a few more online resources than you might rely on otherwise.

Managing a Business Online

Untemplater is just such a business. Essentially an online publication geared towards helping readers live a less-templated life, the team behind Untemplater lives and works across multiple time zones, handling every aspect of the business online. The number of tools now available for handling business finances online has made the process relatively simple. Jun Loayza, the CEO of Untemplater, describes the company’s set up: “We currently use PB Works and Google Groups to manage communication between the team and use a good ol’ excel sheet to track all our finances. Any expenses are sent to the COO who tracks them, along with our income and what we owe to our paid writers.”

If you’re considering making the switch, you can find a variety of tools through the Small Business Web, a group of software companies focused on building online applications specifically for small businesses.

Deciding on a Base

Even if your goal is to take your business on a round-the-world trip, you’ll still need a home base for it — a legal base, preferably in the same country where you are a citizen. The IRS and other government agencies require an address in order for you to operate a business. That address can be a post office box or another location where you receive mail. However, it’s worthwhile to consider all of your options before making a final decision.

Convenience is one aspect, and a key factor in Untemplater’s approach: Loayza says, “The business entity is based in Indiana, solely because one of our co-founders in charge of operations is based in Indiana.” But factors like state taxes may also lead you to make a different decision. The type of business structure you want to use can also be a factor. The Untemplater team chose to create a standard LLC, but individual states have different rules governing business structures.

The Benefits of Mobile Finances

For Untemplater, mobile finances make sense — everything about the business is mobile. “We cut expenses dramatically because we don’t need to pay rent, LAN line, internet, and all the other expenses involved with a physical office. Most of the tools we use are free online services or we utilize the existing resources of one of the members of the team,” says Loayza. There are some downsides, however, if you move beyond the purely financial: “One of the big things we are missing though is facetime—the founding team doesn’t get to bond as well and build trust by working side-by-side. It can be difficult to schedule conference calls over Skype, with team members in 4 or 5 different timezones, but we do try to have regular calls when there’s decisions to be made or progress to discuss.”

The decision to go mobile can depend entirely on your business and how you best operate, but at least the financial aspects are very manageable.

Image courtesy Untemplater.com.