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Constant Contact wants to help you succeed! We’re celebrating our professional service programs on the Constant Contact Community this month and you have a chance to try one of the services for free! Learn more.
Your email subject lines should be short, clear and give a general idea as to the content of the email. Certain words like ‘FREE,’ using only capital letters or even exclamation points should be avoided since these tend to trigger the recipients spam filter and you’ll find that by repeatedly using the same subject lines, your open rates will decrease over time. Here are a few tips for avoiding bad subject lines. Keep characters to 50 or less. Avoid words like free, help, % off, save, today, don’t miss, last chance, donate and reminder. Personalizing subject lines with the recipient’s name will not improve open rates. Avoid internet slang like LOL, adorbs, etc. Without being too wordy, let the reader know what your email is about. Avoid spelling errors (this happens more than you think and just makes you look unprofessional). Don’t deceive readers with Fwd: or Re: or with a subject line that misleads them about your email content and with that said, give your readers quality and relevant content so that they will be sure to open any future emails from you. To improve open rates, be sure your readers know what they are signing up for at the first step. Let them know what to expect from you in your emails and stick to it! For a great list of suggestions from Constant Contact, click here.
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It doesn’t matter if you are a catering company, animal trainer or a photographer, you should be volunteering your services on a regular basis and here’s why… 1. Non-profits NEED help. The majority of non-profit organizations must manage on a very tight budget and the bulk of their funds go right back into helping their cause. If you can provide them a service on a regular basis for free and help alleviate their costs, you are making a difference for their organization in a big way. Using the three example businesses above here are a few ideas. Catering Company - cater a fundraising event for free but ask them to cover the costs of materials and food. Animal Trainer - offer to provide a free introductory training class for new dog adopters and offer a discounted price for the full session of classes. Photographer - offer to take professional pictures of hard to adopt dogs for rescue websites and social media. 2. 9 times out of 10 this leads to a paying customer. While some non-profit organizations can afford to pay for certain services because of special grants or donations and this can lead to a new client - after of course you prove your work ethic and dedication to their cause from volunteering your services, you most likely won’t get them as a paying customer. However, because of your hard work, the very appreciative non-profit organization is going to tell everyone about you and send leads your way. We’ve gained a new client because of leads from EVERY non-profit organization we’ve volunteered for. 3. FREE advertising. As a result of your kindness, the non-profit will want to return the favor. This could mean a free ad in their newsletter, ad space in a catalog or even on their website. If you provide a regular service for them, like catering their events for free, they will most likely be happy to put ‘Catered by ________’ on their event advertisements, website, on tables, signs, etc. You can even put on your website, ‘Non-Profit Organizations We Support’ and give them some free advertising too! 4. It’s good for the reputation of your business. Why not volunteer your services and create a great reputation not only for yourself, but for your business as well. Keep in mind that you should be very specific about what you will provide and what you aren’t willing to provide; consider making a contract for long-term commitments. 5. It feels good. Everyone should volunteer in some way – it makes this world a better place! Enough said. Lindsey Phipps Media Horse Marketing, LLC 720-278-3934 email@example.com www.mediahorsemarketing.com
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I recently had yet another conference call with a potential client that was beyond frustrated with her experiences with past web developers. As a result, this client is very nervous about moving into any sort of contract with another web developer. As a marketer and web developer this really frustrates me. Clients should not have to be put through these experiences that involve frustration and many times a financial loss. In the end, business owners remain unhappy with the product they are given and the good guys like us, get a bad reputation. The story is pretty similar with many of our clients. Their knowledge about web development is pretty limited and typically, they aren’t very computer literate. Dealing with this sort of thing is just one of the many hats they must wear as a business owner and they reluctantly deal with it. They don’t know what they should expect from a new website, how long it should realistically take or even what questions to ask to begin with. They wait for sometimes more than a year to get their new website up, only to get a website they are really unhappy with or one that doesn’t even function properly. Many of our clients had been through variations of this scenario multiple times until they found us. So that you don’t have to go through all this frustration and spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a product you aren’t happy with, I want to share a few tips that you can use in your search for a web developer. Granted, there are no guarantees, but hopefully this will make for a better experience for you. Get referrals from friends and colleagues - anyone you trust. Go with a business that has already proven their work ethic. Most importantly - ask lots of questions. What EXACTLY do they provide in their contract? Does it include hosting? Search engine optimization? Site maps? Webmaster tools? Do they submit your website to major search engines? Will they create a Google + Page for you? If applicable, submit your company to Google Places for Business? Would they be willing to set up a Trip Advisor or Yelp account for you if it is necessary for your industry? After you provide all requested content, when can you expect to see a rough draft? Are they willing to provide you a rough draft and THEN make changes to it before the website gets published? Are they willing to work with your budget? This may mean creating a smaller website. Will they take payments? Do they require a retainer fee to get started? Do they offer non-profit organization discounts? Once the website is published, will they provide a limited amount of monthly updates for free? Or, will they charge you for any and all updates on an hourly rate? Keep in mind that from our perspective, some clients are difficult to work with. Sometimes a website can take months to finish because while we kindly request needed content, we occasionally just don’t get it. This can be because the client gets busy with other things, an emergency comes up or their business changes in a new direction and we need to start from scratch. There could be lots of reasons for this. To get the best and most timely results, make sure your web developer isn’t waiting on you for anything to finish or even start the project. More likely than not, you have a vision in mind for your website, you’re excited about it and expect it to look a certain way. It’s important to, in as many ways as is possible, relay this vision to your web developer. We always ask for examples of websites that our clients like, what they expect to appear on the home page, the style they like – we really try to get inside their mind about this vision or idea they have. Your web developer should want to create a website that you are excited about sharing with everyone. If you are ever concerned about the quality of work or even the commitment that your web developer has for your business, ask them for a mock up. We gladly provide a sample of what your website could look like if you hire us. This usually involves developing the home page and maybe a few other pages, depending on the scope of the project. This is also a really great jumping off point and opportunity for the client to give feedback and talk about what they want. I also think as a marketer and web developer, that it is really important for us to educate you as the client. Whomever you work with should be willing to answer any and all questions, give you ideas, brainstorm with you and help you to understand this whole process and what it means for the development of your business. In the end, this relationship between you and your web developer will hopefully be a long one and a happy one. As you talk with web developers about your project, select one that is willing to work with your expectations (which should be realistic), your budget and your goals. If you feel deep down that a working relationship with this person might not work, it really is okay to say ‘no’ and move on to the next one. If you ever need a consultation about web development, please contact us - of course, it’s free. Lindsey Phipps Media Horse Marketing firstname.lastname@example.org 720-278-3934
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We wear many hats as small business owners and we all tend to get a little stressed out now and then. Here are a few things I do to keep my sanity and you should really consider trying them too. Stay Organized This one you already know is important, but are you doing it? Like, really doing it? Or, are you flying by the seat of your pants? My own definition of staying organized means planning out my week every Monday morning. This includes appointments, conference calls, tasks, weekly goals, meal planning, errands and anything else important for that week. Notice I said ‘that week.’ You don’t really have time to be worrying about next week just yet, right? Stay Optimistic If you let yourself get down and frustrated when things don’t go as planned, remind yourself – ‘You are a small business owner and things never go as planned!’ Don’t worry, you will make that sale, you will get the next client, you will! Just not according to your timeline so keep a positive attitude and focus on other things in the meantime. That dang patience is a virtue right? Take Time for You Even if you’re juggling self-employment, three kids and other responsibilities you still need to take time out for yourself, each and every day. Trust me, your kids, your significant other, your pet, whomever, they will all thank you. Take time to hit the gym before you go to the office, read the newspaper with your morning coffee, meditate, listen to your favorite music while you do nothing else; it will keep you sane, relieve stress and give you energy to tackle the next obstacle that comes your way. Even if all you have time for today, is to step outside for some fresh air for 15 minutes, take it, that email can wait. Mini Celebrations Okay, think back to when you first started your business and you were practically begging for customers and questioning your idiotic mind for even thinking about getting into business for yourself. Okay, now think about where you are right now. You’ve come so far! You really have and you should celebrate the small things along your journey. Got a new client? Take yourself out to dinner to celebrate! You actually finished your To Do List? Send yourself home 10 minutes early! Was the shop really chaotic and every employee is stressed out and grumpy? Order pizza and thank everyone for their hard work! Keep Yourself Accountable One of the biggest struggles for those of us working from home is distraction. It’s easy to start doing laundry instead of working on that new project. How about a smoothie for lunch? Wait, I should really look up a new recipe for that! Suddenly two hours has gone by and really you’ve just updated your Facebook status about this delicious new smoothie recipe and read five really awesome articles from Viral Nova while you drank it. Give yourself a set work schedule, complete with breaks and follow it! Give yourself time to scan through Facebook, browse the internet and do whatever else distracts you and then get down to it! Yeah, I am still working on this one. Good luck and thanks for reading! I would love to hear your little tricks for staying sane, so please feel free to share them with me, I might just steal a few! Lindsey Phipps Media Horse Marketing, LLC 720-278-3934 email@example.com www.mediahorsemarketing.com
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Facebook went and changed things, again. I noticed these changes a while back and as a result participated in a handful of webcasts over the last few weeks discussing the recent changes with Facebook pages and how we can adapt to better manage them. It’s important to note that not all of these changes should frustrate you, some of them were good and those others, well, we really just have to adapt. Good thing I wrote that blog post last month about change, right?! Read it here if you missed it. I want to share what I learned from these webcasts so that you can make some improvements to managing your company or organization Facebook page. These aren’t all new changes, some have been around for a bit, but many of you may still be in the dark. Here’s the Good and the Bad… -Organic reach on Facebook is slowly dropping to zero, eventually it will get there. -In the past, it was always our goal to get Likes, Comments and Shares; Shares being the most valuable. This isn’t necessarily the case anymore. You need to work on engaging your fans within your posts. Basically what this means is that you can revitalize recent posts with comments and increase the number of fans you reach as a result. If you made a post yesterday that received comments, you need to add to the conversation by making a comment on this post. Get what you can out of the life of that post BEFORE you make a new post on the page. If you make a new post when you are still getting traffic to an older one, you will lose that traffic. Back when we were all concerned about the Edgerank of our pages, we made sure to make one or more posts on our pages each day, this isn’t how you should manage your page anymore. -Now you need to be concerned about ‘Last Actor.’ Facebook’s algorithm now keeps track of the last 50 interactions for each user and puts more posts in their newsfeed from those friends or pages they’ve recently interacted with. You might have noticed that you generally get interaction with the same people on your page but you can create more Last Actors with viral posts. This is good and bad. On the bad side, Facebook wants you to pay to reach more fan newsfeeds, on the good side, your Last Actors are going to be the biggest supporters of your page and have the most interest in what you do. -Use Last Actor to your advantage and make a fun post that may go viral to get new Last Actors, and then make a post that promotes something important to your page. -Another new thing going on with Facebook is ‘Story Bumping.’ Ever notice that even if you request ‘Most Recent’ in your newsfeed that older posts still find their way in? This is Story Bumping, which means that a post you might not have seen from a friend or page you haven’t interacted with recently might later get put into your newsfeed because Facebook saw it as a post that was popular but new to you. Because of Story Bumping, there is an 8 percent increase in visibility of your posts. You can get your posts back on newsfeeds by creating conversations with your fans in the comments area and revitalizing your posts like I mentioned before. -Don’t make posts that use like, comment and share in the text and never make a text only post. Take the time to find a corresponding image for your posts. With that said, be careful with images that contain text. Facebook HATES like baiting and making posts with text in the images can get pretty tricky. Those images that want you to Like if you love one thing, Comment if you like another or Share if you like a third are posts made just to increase traffic on a page, this is like baiting. If it is recognized as a like baiting post, it’s not going to get much traffic. -Spend less time sharing from the big pages and make your own posts. Facebook wants to decrease the frequency that the same content is getting shared over and over. Instead of sharing a post that you like, save it to your computer and make it a new post from your page. Just remember to give credit for that image when you need to. -The ‘About’ section of your pages is going to be more prominent so make sure all of this information is up-to-date and accurate; don’t forget to list your website. This change hasn’t rolled out for everyone yet. -You can add other pages as a ‘Page to Watch’ to keep an eye on your competitors. This is a great way to connect, get ideas and stay competitive. This is another update that not everyone has access to yet. -Remember that something like 99% of your fans are not directly visiting your page and more and more people are using Facebook only from their mobile devices. Once they become a fan, they are interacting with you from their newsfeeds. Those that visit your page are either checking you out for the first time or are looking to contact you. So worry less about Facebook tabs and apps and more about good quality posts. -Keeping the above tip in mind, make sure you have a mobile compatible website and a social compatible website if you want people sharing your website content in social media. -Stop using the ‘Boost Post’ option on Facebook! This is very limited and costs you more money. Under your ads account, the ‘Page Post Engagement’ option has many more options and at a better price. You can now create multiple ads and Facebook will test them, and then show the ones that are doing well. You can also choose to advertise on mobile devices, desktop or both. -‘Power Editor’ is another useful tool when managing ads. Here you can upload emails, create ‘look alike’ audiences and target a specific audience. You can save this information and target those specific audiences in later ads as well. Note: This only works in the Google Chrome browser right now. -Make use of the ‘Conversion Tracking Tool’ to see how well your ads are doing and to keep track of what actions people are taking on your website. -Give something away! If you want your fans to take action, like sign up for your emails for example, give them something to make it worthwhile. This doesn’t have to be something big either; it can be as simple as a free PDF checklist or cheat sheet with valuable information. -One last extra tidbit -use picmonkey.com and canva.com for FREE templates, images and for designing your ads. I hope you find these tips to be useful in managing your Facebook pages. If you have questions, feel free to shoot me an email or connect with us on our Media Horse Marketing Facebook page. Lindsey Phipps Media Horse Marketing firstname.lastname@example.org
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According to the Japanese Scholar, Kakuzo Okakaura, “The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.” This of course is not only important in our personal lives in general but in our professional lives as business owners and managers as well. Do you feel constant stress and frustration with gaining new customers or making sales? Do you ever ask yourself, 'What was I thinking getting into self-employment?' Maybe it’s because you haven’t been willing to step outside of this idea in your head of what your business should be about, what services and products you offer and really explore a different way to grow. When I started my business I gave it a name that made sense to me, found a need in an industry I loved and hit the ground running. I registered as a Sole Proprietorship with my state and planned to sell email marketing services to small businesses in the horse industry. Initially, I targeted this niche market and after about a month I had one client. I was excited about this one client, celebrated it, and when I got back down from cloud nine, I realized this one client wasn’t going to pay the bills. So I trudged forward and apologized to potential clients when I told them that I didn’t offer any other services. Okay, let me stop here because you’re probably rolling your eyes and thinking to yourself, ‘hello! Why are you turning away potential clients?’ However, you may be doing the very same thing I did because when we start a business, we create this mental master plan of what we’re going to do in our business and we set out to do just that. After a few more people asked if I offered help with social media and then later web development, I realized that maybe I needed to expand my business idea. Okay, so I can be stubborn. Businesses in the horse industry need more than just newsletters to communicate with their customers. Small businesses need other tools to create an online presence and email marketing is just one important piece of this puzzle. I adapted to the needs and wants of those in my target market, expanded on my services and slowly started gaining new clients. As I experienced growth, I found the need to form a Limited Liability Company. I then partnered with my husband so that we could offer even more services and take on more clients, we changed the name and we opened up ourselves to any business that was interested regardless of their industry. This whole process is never as fast as we want it to be and patience is key every step of the way. But seriously, who has patience when we are trying to build a business! I know I certainly don’t. So right now, look at your business and be honest with yourself. Do you need to adapt? Do you need to change? Over the last few years I have spoken with many business owners who are mistakenly resistant to adapting to not only the needs and wants of their customers but also to how businesses successfully market themselves in a world where your customers and clients are online more than five hours every day. If your current or potential customers are asking for services or products that you don’t offer, you have an opportunity. If you’re letting your work life disrupt your home life, you have a challenge to overcome. If you find yourself continuing with the way things are because you’ve never done it any other way, you have room for growth. The number one thing that you should do as a business owner is listen to the needs and wants of your customers, then find ways to satisfy those needs and wants. If you allow change within yourself, within your business and within your employees you open the door for growth and opportunity. Your only limits are those that you set for yourself. Lindsey Phipps Media Horse Marketing email@example.com 720-278-3934 www.mediahorsemarketing.com
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