Let’s make this quick and easy. Use Constant Contact email marketing to stay top of mind.
Here are 5 ways to reach out to your audience this month and every month:
Send your current customers an email marketing campaign (a.k.a. blast) and simply thank them for being your customer.
Send your email list an “insider” deal. Only those that are on your email list get this offer and then ask your subscribers to help share the insider club …”Oh by the way, feel free to encourage your friends to sign up for our emails so they can get rewarded as well!”
Send a segment of your email list information that you know they will be interested in receiving. Review your previous email results to see who clicked on your specific calls to action, and then segment those action-takers into relevant lists. Then formulate a focused campaign around that data.
Send the folks on your email list information about what’s going on in your industry. Find an interesting article that speaks about your industry, trends you are in and share it in an email campaign. Showing your expertise has value.
Send them an invitation to join you at an event. Ideally it would be an event that you are hosting, such as an open house, coffee with, workshop, etc. But it could also be an event that you are supporting. For example join us at the High School Chili Cook off, the Downtown fireworks display, the community fundraiser, etc. Showing support for your community is a great way to build your relationships.
Now Send it!
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Building a quality email marketing list should be a goal for every business and non-profit. Yet many are reluctant to event try email marketing because “they don’t have a list.” If you have existing customers, donors, vendors, and volunteers – you have very powerful list that you need to leverage.
Your primary goal should be to reach out to your list at least once-per-month with a focused email marketing campaign. But what could you do to augment that once-per-month frequency without being seen as sending too much or over saturating your audience?
It’s time to think about segmentation. This means you need to drill down and understand not only your customers, prospects, fans, and super fans but you must also understand what your business provides and how those offerings are perceived by the various people on your master list.
You may want to segment based on location. If you have customers and audience across the country or around the world, you may want to consider segmenting based on time zone. Timing is important in any marketing activity. You need to reach them when they are available. Los Angeles is having breakfast, while New York is thinking about lunch and Hawaii is sound asleep. Sending your email when they are most likely to view it is crucial.
Your email marketing reports can help you determine how to segment. For example, say you sent an email to your entire list. It offered information on shoes. Specifically, you had a quick paragraph about red shoes and a quick paragraph about blue shoes. Each had a link to a more in depth article or perhaps a cart item on your web site. After you send the email, your Constant Contact report will show you who clicked on which link – red shoes or blue shoes. Those recorded actions could then be saved as separate lists, so now you could reach out to the red shoe lovers or the blue shoe lovers when you have a special promotion on that item. Their behavior (clicking on the directed link) can be used as a segmentation strategy.
You could also promote separate sign up links based on interests. This allows your audience to start segmenting for you. Constant Contact allows for multiple sign up forms, which can be used as posts to social media, forms on your web site, text to join, special promotions and so on. Giving people options can result in valuable segmented lists.
Segmentation is a powerful strategy. It helps you to better understand your audience and deliver relevant information to them. It’s up to you to divide and conquer!
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Where do you have the most control?
Where do you/will you have the most influence?
Where does/will the bulk of your business come from?
Where should you concentrate your effort, your focus, your marketing budget?
These questions should be asked before you reach out with your marketing messages.
Defining your territory and knowing your customer is a must.
For most small businesses the answer is local.
Maybe you have a neighborhood business or a citywide business, some may even have an influence and presence throughout their state or within a multi-state area. It’s important to understand your territory and range of influence. It will help you to better understand your market, which in turn, will help you plan your marketing strategy and focus your efforts.
4 Things to help you market locally:
Create a customer profile that includes demographic, psychographic and geographic information of your ideal customer. This profile will help you focus in on your target market.
Make sure you are consistently email marketing to your current customers. Staying top of mind with current customers can lead to repeat business and referrals.
Determine a physical radius of influence for your business. Do the bulk of your customers live/work within 1 mile of your business? 10 miles? 100 miles? Etc. Knowing this will help you place more effective advertising. Facebook advertising and other online media allow you geographically target this way.
Get out there and mix and mingle. Attend workshops, chamber meetings, conferences and other events in your area. The local people you meet can become a valuable source of information, referrals, ideas and business.
Local marketing produces results.
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As business folks we need to tell our story and paint the picture we want our audience to see. We need to set a clear image of our story. We are the editors of our story, and it is up to us to create the tone, the look, and the action.
Email Marketing and Social Media help build relationships and helps keeps you top of mind. Online marketing is not always about getting the quick sale.
Think long term.
Staying top of mind holds value. Staying on everyone’s radar on a regular basis can help “open the door” for a follow up phone call, a personal visit or for a targeted email campaign with a specific call to action.
We should always start our campaigns by thinking about;
What’s in it for them (the audience)?
Why would they want to open your emails?
Why would they want to join your list?
Why should they follow you on Social Media?
For content ideas that help build relationships you may want to consider the following:
Having a “contest” wherein the email campaign asks for a customer success story about your business or maybe a photo of a customer using your product or service.
Having a referral program and let people know how you will reward referrals
Announcing where you will be. Will you be attending any events, conferences or mixers you could announce? “Meet me here...”
Supporting groups you belong to. Are there any Chambers or organizations that you belong to that have an event coming up that you could help promote with an email or social post?
Promoting the events of others. Are there any business networking events in the area that you could let people know about?
Highlighting a customer. Do you have a long-term client that could be used as an example or highlight? For example...We’ve been helping people find Bob’s business over xx years. BTW if you are in Bob’s neighborhood pop in and say hello they offer great...
Sharing tips and tricks. Share your expertise.
Answering questions. What are your most frequently asked questions? This can be a good source of content.
Showing community involvement. Is there a charity that you support? Sharing their events or cause can help build the feeling of community. The charity may even share your email with their audience, giving you a bit more reach.
All of this 'non-sales' content could be followed with an "Oh by the way…” call to action. Oh by the way we have a workshop coming up…
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List building is an on-going task. Keep asking people to join your list throughout the year. Make it your constant goal to keep building your email marketing list.
10 Ideas for growing your email marketing list:
Have a guest book. If you have a physical location, have a “guest book” or sign up form at the point of sale and train your staff to make the ask.
Leverage your chamber. Are you a member of a Chamber of Commerce? Some chambers will send an email to their list on your behalf for a fee. If so, you will want the call to action in that email to have people sign up for you list for updates on marketing and advertising opportunities.
Be a Speaker. See if you chamber needs a guest speaker at their next meeting.
Leverage your network. If you are a member of other organizations, see if they will be willing to send an email out as well and if they have speaking opportunities.
Collaborate. Who can you partner or collaborate with? Who shares your audience but would not be consider a direct competitor? Could you create an event with these folks that your audience may be interested in?
Conferences and mixers – go with the intent of building the list – maybe offer a raffle prize if you have a booth or table but let them know that by entering the raffle they are also giving you the permission to join your email list. Collect emails at every opportunity.
Leverage Social media: – Geo and demographically targeted Facebook ads can help grow a list and build awareness. Create a Facebook Ad campaign with the goal to build your email list – Post your Constant Contact sign up link to Facebook periodically –Join our list it’s fun and informative…. – Tweet about the benefits of joining your list and link back to your sign up
Encourage the Share -When you send your Constant Contact email to your list include both the “forward to a friend” and “join my list’ links and simply ask people to share your email with their friends and colleagues.
Extend your reach – When you send your email to your list via Constant Contact, you can also schedule social posts. These posts can be customized but they will link back to your email campaign, making your email campaign the landing page!
Make it easy. Get a unique URL that redirects to your Constant Contact signup link. Print business cards with the URL and distribute them.
BTW – you can try Constant Contact for 60 days – click here
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Action is where progress is made.
Some folks like to think about doing something and then wait for a magic button. But it’s the ones who roll up their sleeves and challenge themselves to give it a go, that will make things happen. Instead of a wish list for your business, why not consider this if list. What would happen if you: 1. Committed to emailing your current customers at least once per month? 2. Committed to posting on social media on a regular basis? 3. Boosted a post? 4. Created a Facebook ad campaign? 5. Created an event to bring people to your business and grow your list? 6. Created a content calendar? 7. Collaborated with another business or non-profit? 8. Created a survey asking about an idea or new business process? 9. Hired a company to help with your marketing? 10. Established an annual budget dedicated to marketing? Which begs the question, what will happen if you don’t?
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Building a business takes time. It takes persistence. It takes patience. It takes intestinal fortitude (guts). It involves risk. It involves dusting yourself off and standing back up over and over again. Owning a business is not the same has having a job. There are no guaranteed weekly paychecks or benefit packages. Income is only generated when a profitable sale occurs. Not just a sale, but a profitable one.
The old saying ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day,’ is true. In our “instant” society, we may often think that a magic button exists or that a ‘one-and-done’ campaign will be the golden ticket to success. Some erroneously think that by sending one email or that posting once on social media will generate instant income and success. Some think by simply having a web site that the masses will magically flock to it. These expectations are not realistic and are pipe-dreams at best.
Marketing takes time, effort and experience. Trial and error needs to happen. Some promotions will work better than others. Some products will sell better than others. Some delivery methods will perform better than others. Some pricing strategies will work better. Time is a big part of the recipe as marketing is a work in progress.
Strong and consistent marketing efforts need to happen all the time, not just when you are in a down cycle or in a sea of desperation. Ironically, some businesses tend to scale back their marketing efforts when times are good, which could eventually precipitate a down cycle. Worse yet, some think a magic bullet can be pulled from thin air when times are rugged. The reality is; instant fixes don’t happen. Short-changing or neglecting your marketing will short-change your business.
Forget the idea/dream of a one-and-done magic-bullet marketing campaign. Finding a herd of unicorns is more likely to happen than having a one-shot-wonder fix. Set up a long-term (6 months to 1 year) action plan that includes; email marketing, traditional marketing (print, local advertising, sales events, lunches etc.), social media marketing and event marketing (trade shows, networking events, open houses/customer appreciation events and other face-to-face activities).
Honestly assess what you are selling and to whom you are targeting. Is there truly a demand for your product or service? Who is most likely to need or want these? What is the anticipated sales cycle? What is the likelihood of repeat sales or referrals?
Develop an annual marketing campaign calendar. This includes setting a budget for marketing. Know when your up and down cycles occur during the year and planning accordingly.
Review your efforts and adjust. Look at your email open rate and click through reports. Review your Facebook ad performance reports as well as your page insights and see what is working and what needs adjusting. Track your list growth for both email marketing and social media. Monitor your traditional marketing efforts as well.
Persist. Know that it will take time to build your lists. Know that it will take time to grow your business. Know that it will take a budget/investment to create an effective marketing system. And know that Rome is still under construction.
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We work with many different businesses and non-profits. Each is unique, yet they all have something in common. Every business needs to stay in touch with their customers, supporters, influencers, fans as well as the curious.
It is surprising how often that simple task – staying in touch – can become overwhelming, over-thought and under delivered. As business people we need to make it routine. So let’s simplify it and take action.
Here are 5 things you can do today to reach your audience:
Share a post on Facebook from one of your customers. Note, this implies that you are actively listening to your audience.
Send an email campaign to your customers and simply thank them.
Plan an event and invite your customers and ask them to invite a friend or two. It could be as simple as meet me for coffee or come to our after-hours-customer-only-celebration.
Reward your customers with a special discount or exclusive access. Let them know about it by sending them an email and posting on social media.
Share an interesting article or blog post about your industry, your community or your business.
So take a note from Adele and say, “Hello, it’s me” and see what happens.
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With all the tools available to promote your business online and stay in touch with your target market, it can become overwhelming. There are dozens of Social Media sites - Instagram, Snapchat, Periscope, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, YouTube, Flicker, Vine, Vimeo, MeetUp just to name a few. Plus there is always a flavor of the month/day that catches fire and then burns out. How in the world can a small business keep up?
Have a goal. What do you want them to do? What is the purpose of this campaign? If you don’t direct your audience to the destination you want them to reach, how will you be able to measure your success?
Have a plan. a) What is your call to action, b) who needs to receive the message, c) when should it be delivered, d) how often will you email and post and e) what is your budget?
Gather your content. Find or create content that supports your goal and delivers the message both visually and creatively.
Select your media. We like to make sure email marketing is the cornerstone for online marketing. Email is the most accessed “app” on a smart phone. Nearly everyone checks email daily. A campaign that originates from an email can then be easily shared/repurposed to multiple social media sites. Did you know that you can create a campaign in Constant Contact, schedule it to go to your email audience and also post it multiple times to selected Social Media? Our mantra is -build it once, post it many.
Deliver and measure. Get the message out there. If you are waiting for the perfect layout, the perfect content, the perfect time, the perfect… you are perfectly wasting your time. Progress over perfection will win every time. Send it. After you send out (deliver) your campaign. Monitor the results and adjust. Did your audience do what you wanted them to do? Or did they not do something? These results need to be reviewed and you need to adjust your tactics, strategy and goals as you move forward.
Keep in mind, that staying top-of-mind and building relationships is an important function of online marketing. Simply staying in touch with your customers, prospects and fans has tremendous value. If you are not in front of your audience, you can bet the competition will be.
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Plan 12 Campaigns Now
The best gift you can give your business this year is a 12-month marketing campaign strategy. We work with a client who knows exactly what they want to promote every month (there are only 12 of them). Each month, their campaign produces a bottom line result of more sales because they stay focused with their messages both on-line and off line.
Here are a few tips for setting up your 12-month plan:
Print out a blank calendar that will be used only for your Marketing.
Assign an overall theme for each month. For example: January is national thank you month. You might create a month-long campaign with thank you notes, coupons and special offers to your current customers.
Add a goal to each month. What’s your hook each month? How will you measure success?
Look for quirky holidays that you can tie into your monthly themes that provide out of the box creative opportunities. For example, January is Hot Tea month. February 6 is “Eat Ice Cream For Breakfast day.” Do a Google search for “Quirky Holidays.”
Add big events to your calendar that you can leverage in your creative content (super bowl, award shows, Olympic Games in August, trending news stories etc.) Do a Google search for “exciting things happening in 2016.”
Add your local community events. For example, a realtor might provide a list of local firework shows around the 4th of July that is part of a July theme of “local summer fun” in our community.
Mark all the dates that are important in your business. When are you launching a new product or services? When are you signature events?
Use tools that allow you to schedule content. Constant Contact, Hootsuite and Facebook all have scheduling features so you can set up your campaigns in advance.
Mix in off-line strategies. Flyers, postcards and printed collateral to distribute at your front desk or other physical locations are just as important as your emails and social media posts. They all work together to reinforce your campaign.
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Having a plan for your marketing campaigns will help you reach your goals.
In order to create a marketing campaign that produces results, answer a few strategic questions and then develop a plan:
Define a Specific Goal: Stay focused on the goal. Are you offering a deal, trying to grow your list, get votes, promote an event, ect. Be specific.
What’s the Hook? A giveaway? A survey? A discount? What’s in it for the people who will get you to your goal?
What tools are needed? How many tools do you need to accomplish your goal? Sometimes it only takes a few. We’ve had great success with 3 simple tools: a Constant Contact email, a Facebook post and a Facebook ad for $50. For B2B’s you might want to try LinkedIn.
Where can you find your audience? Always start with your current customers and best fans then choose the social media channels where they hang out.
Can you leverage your current email list? Yes.
Should you include a live event? There is nothing on-line that can replace a face-to-face, old-fashioned hand shake and a smile.
What print collateral will help? If you don’t have a big budget for a direct mail campaign, print a campaign message on a business card.
Who can you collaborate with? Is there someone who is trying to reach the same audience. Could you partner with a non-profit or another business and increase the campaign’s reach?
Now deliver. Take action. Send those email campaigns, post on social media, run a few ads, reach out to your audience and watch the results happen.
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A free trial or sample is a great way to test a service or product to see if it can benefit your business.
But switching an established service to a different service, just because the different service offers a few months free or some other ‘free’ enticement if you switch, may be more costly than you think.
Saving money is important to every business, but often times, ‘free’ has other costs associated with it. Usually it comes down to time and quality. Free often takes more time and it may not provide the quality to which you have grown accustom.
So, you may want to ask a few questions before jumping for that ‘free’ thing:
Is this item/service an important component for the success of your business?
What will it really cost you to switch?
Is there a new learning curve? Will you be able to adjust to the new system and how much time (a.k.a. cost) will that take?
Does it provide the same level of support/quality?
Will the ‘free’ period ultimately lock you into a higher rate or an inferior product/service?
The old adages “you get what you pay for” and “ain’t ‘nothing in life is free’ tend to prove themselves time and time again.
Over the long run, building reliable systems for your marketing and fostering relationships with your vendors, will pay off. Seek tools and services that compliment your business model and provide the level of support your business deserves. Having solid vendors and processes can be quite… um… freeing.
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The holidays are just around the corner. It’s the season of spending. Retailers are counting on the tradition. Smart Business-to-Business (B2B) knows that budgets need to be consumed before the end of the year. Savvy non-profits know that donations go up as folks look for a year-end tax break.
All of which means it is time for small businesses and non-profits to hurry up and move forward to leverage these opportunities. Here is the basic recipe:
Prepare a game plan. Know what you want to offer. Devise a valuable “what’s in it for them” offer. It could be a coupon, a discount, a special event but it must have value to your audience.
Target the audience. Who should you aim your efforts toward? Know what your ideal customer looks like, their age, sex, their likes and interests, their wants and needs, where they ‘hang out’ on line the channels they frequent (Facebook, Twitter, Istagram, etc.)
Choose the channels of communication. Email Marketing is a great way to target your current customers and prospects. Social media is a useful media for building your brand awareness, Advertising on Facebook can be a powerful tool to drive new business. Maybe a printed piece can be sent. How will you get the message out there?
Create the campaign. Find relevant images and or videos that will support your message. Craft you copy- how you say something can make a difference.
Create a delivery schedule. When will you schedule your emails, posts, phone calls and other activities?
Execute the campaign. This is the most important ingredient. One that all to often gets shelved because of fear or lack of confidence. Press SEND, spend some money on Facebook ads, inform your staff of how they need to re-post your social media messages, get the ball rolling and keep it rolling.
Now, get cookin’ and don’t forget to add your own flavor!
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How many people do I need on my list before I should start email marketing? This is a question we hear frequently. It is probably a question that is rooted more in apprehension and uncertainty of reaching out and telling your story, rather than one of metrics and statistical probabilities. How many people you need on your list may not be as many as you may think. A high quality list will generally trump a mass quantity when it comes to action. And action is the bottom line in any marketing campaign. Know your audience and what’s important to them. Real World Example: A specialty dive company sent an email campaign to only 16 people. It generated over $15,000 in leads! Why did this seemingly small list work? The 'sweet 16' happened to be travel and booking agents The email campaign focused on how they can benefit by booking dive trips for their clients. A win, win. He pushed “SEND”. Define the action you want people to take and then send an email. Start with your current customers. It can be that simple. Whether your list is 20 or 20,000, offer them something of value and reach out to them on a regular basis. After you send your campaigns measure and review their actions: Did they open the email? Did they download the coupon? Did they come in to the store? Did they visit your web site? Did they join your Social Media/ Did they attend your event? Did they________? So how many people do you need on your list to stay top of mind? Maybe a better question is; what can we offer our list today?
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Your business may offer a wide variety of services or products to a generalized category of people, but your message needs to be focused. You may understand what it is you offer, but will your audience? Will your team? You may serve a wide audience with many different interests but you need to target in your campaigns. You may have broad overall goal for your business, but you need to specify the goal of each campaign. Here are 10 questions to help you focus your campaign, content and your message; What is the goal of this campaign? What’s in it for your audience? Why should they care? What specifically are you promoting at this point in time? What is the call to action? – NOTE: A single call to action will be more effective than having several in your campaign. Who should receive this information? – Everyone, or would communication with a segmented list be more effective? Are there any time lines or dead lines to consider? When does this information need to be delivered? How should it be delivered - Email Marketing, Social Media, Traditional Media, via your Sales team, etc? Where do you want to direct your audience? – Come in to the store, visit your web site, join your email list, visit your social media etc. Defining your message, audience and specific goal is crucial for each of your marketing campaigns. It will not only help your audience understand your message but it will also help those who are working with you to create the campaigns. With clear and specific direction your team will have a better idea how to build the campaign and visualize what it is you want to do. Clarity will help your team understand what you are delivering. Specifics will help your team target the best audience. Targeting will clarify the purpose of your marketing. Generally speaking, being specific will help create the content of your campaign.
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We were trained during our early school years that summer equals time off. Toes in the sand, naps under a shade tree, late night BBQs and care-free living, camping under the stars, midnight swimming, waking up at noon. Summer beckons us to slow us down and find time to escape. Then you graduate and the ‘real world’ lets us know what’s what. Small business never sleeps. We always have one more, all right 100 more things to do. Taking time off is a challenge. It is also a necessity. We all need time to recharge and refocus. Questions flood our minds and wake us with 2AM panic attacks at the mere thought of taking time off. Will my business survive if I take a week off? Will our customers go elsewhere? How will we let folks know? Who’s going to run the show? What if… etc. So how can we (small business owners) escape? Maybe we can’t distance our selves completely, but we can systemize our get-a-way. That means a little planning mixed with technology. Online tools can help.
Schedule an email campaign to go out 2 to 3 weeks before your take off. You may want to let folks know about your summer schedule to help set expectations.
Before your leave, schedule your tweets ahead of time with a tool like Hootsuite.
Schedule a few Facebook posts with the Facebook’s built-in scheduling tool
Create an appropriate auto-reply to respond to your inbound emails.
Schedule an email campaign to go out while you are away or better yet the week you come back.
If you are living large, when you arrive at your vacation destination, you’ll be in a place where there’s no cell reception, the WiFi stinks, the fish are biting, the BBQ is tasty and the iced tea is endless. Enjoy your summer!
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As a small business, we understand the pressures of cash flow, time and resources that are faced every day. It’s part of the territory. Having the right tools and systems can help smooth out the highs and lows of cash flow. For any business, even those running on a shoestring, you need to invest in your brand and communications. Sometimes the simplest thing can make a difference. For example, we conduct several workshops each month for small business and non-profits. I’m often amazed at how many “businesses” are using a Gmail, Yahoo, AOL or other generic email address as their primary business email address. Seeing a generic email address is a red flag that screams –‘This isn’t a real business!’ Having your own domain and associated email addresses is not expensive. Annual domain registration is about $15 per year. Most domain registry services include an email address or two. Now that you have a branded email address, let’s put it to work. Reach out to your current customers with email marketing. At least once per month, send your current customers a professional looking, branded marketing message via email. Remind them that you exist, and when they see that your emails come from your domain address rather than a generic email address, your brand’s perceived relevance and value will be enhanced. Pressing “SEND” is your friend. Next, let’s reach beyond your current customers. Social media can help build your audience, but the play-for-free days are coming to an end. So you need to set aside some of your budget for advertising on these channels. Facebook’s ad model is affordable and can be very effective. Yes, you will need to have a campaign strategy and relevant message/call-to-action and you will need to experiment and adjust. But the exposure should pay off. We’ve seen businesses grow awareness, sales and engagement by using Facebook ads and not really spending a lot of money. So, back to the $100 investment for a 3-month campaign: 1. Purchase a domain for your business = $15 2. Constant Contact Email Marketing starts at $20/month x 3 months = $60* 3. Facebook ads = $10 x 3 months =$30* 4. That leaves $5 for a cup of coffee - Bonus! Why not spend it all in one month? You certainly could, but repetition, consistency and perseverance tend to be a better strategy. Hence the 3 months time frame mentioned above. *Remember this is an investment. Investments tend to have a return over time. The money spent on marketing can generate income that can then be re-purposed to continue to build your business.
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“When is the best time to send our email campaign?” We hear this question all the time. One answer is - it depends. That answer sounds like a cop out but it really does depend on your audience, your business, your offer, your message, your business cycle and a few other factors. For example, if you have a restaurant and you have a loyal following of repeat customers, your business cycle is most likely daily. Your goal may be to let folks know about the daily special and entice them to come in for lunch. Given the frequency of the potential sales cycle, you may be able to get away with a daily email to let your customers know what’s cooking. But, you would also want to give your audience the option of receiving a weekly or monthly email in case a daily email is too much for them. The other answer is - the best time to send is when you audience will be listening. For example, if you are a business-to-business then a good place to start developing your email sweet spot will most likely be in the middles. Schedule your emails for the middle of the day during the middle of the week. But, if you are a rock band you may want to schedule more towards the weekends and evenings. Of course you will need to monitor your email campaigns after you send them. Examine the open rate, the click through rate and the activity rate – did they take the action you wanted them to take? Over time you will start to see trends. These trends can act as a benchmark for your “best” time. But like everything else things could evolve or change, so keep experimenting. Change can be rewarding. All of this begs the question, “when is the worst time to send?” That answer is easy. The worst time to send is - never. Businesses are missing the boat if they are not scheduling regular email campaigns. Bottom line - Don’t wait for perfection and the stars to align before you schedule your next email campaign. Progress over perfection is a much better strategy.
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Delivering a branded message to a targeted audience such as the folks that have expressed an interest in your products, services, and causes, is powerful. Email Marketing is a great vehicle to deliver your message to those that matter. Sending an email campaign to your current customers, prospects and folks that have already given their permission to be on your email list is one of the most effective ways to stay top-of-mind. Reminding people of your business or non-profit is important. Offering them good information, tips, deals and other valuable content on a regular basis will pay off. 6 more reasons why Email Marketing needs to be part of your marketing mix: It’s affordable. Can you name another measurable media delivery vehicle that can reach a targeted audience, report back and cost as little as $20 a month? Probably not. It’s flexible. You can customize your email campaigns to fit your brand, your offering, your message, your call to action and your audience. You can send to multiple segments of your list or just to a very specific segment. It goes where they go. More than 65% of us are checking our emails on a mobile device. With Email Marketing you can land right in their pocket. It’s timely. You can set up a campaign to be delivered to your subscribers quickly, which makes last minute updates and announcements easy. Constant Contact even has a mobile App that lets you create and email campaign from your smart phone. On the other hand, you can also schedule your campaigns in advance. Your email campaigns get delivered when you want them to land in their inbox. It works with Social Media. You can share your campaigns to your social media at the same time you send them to your email subscribers. You can also leverage your social media to grow your Email Marketing subscribers. It’s measurable. After you send a campaign you can review the results. Check your open rate, and the click rate to see what and who is interested in what you have to say. Next step: Set up a campaign, push SEND and watch what happens. Your business will thank you for it.
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The speed of business is getting faster. Online marketing is a real time environment and it moves quickly. As business owners we need to simply embrace this rapid pace and take advantage of it. Small businesses have a big advantage over large enterprises. We can respond and move quickly. The chain of command in a small business is generally not lined with political agendas, up the ladder approvals and cross-departmental competitive spats. These all equate to delays in getting your message out to those that matter. Nimble is rarely associated with large companies. Today’s digital media favors the nimble. But it also embraces those with a game plan, a strategy and a process. Social Media and Email Marketing needs direction. Below are 10 basic questions to help focus your digital marketing game plan: Who is/are your target audience(s) What will you offer these targets? How will you engage them? Where will you tell your story (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin, Email Marketing, etc.)? When should you engage them? How often should you be posting and emailing? How much time and money should you budget? Why should they (your audience/target) care about what you can deliver? Do I/we (or my/our staff) have the time to manage our company’s digital marketing, or is it time to hire a company that provides these services? How will we measure the progress? These questions help frame the cornerstone of your digital marketing plan and strategy. They can help you map out the road ahead and provide direction so you can move quickly and effectively. Realize that the direction may need to change based on results, market needs, your customers and many other factors. It is just part of the nature of today’s online marketing. Stay nimble.
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Building systems for your social media marketing will save you time and help you get your message out. We think having ‘post once and populate many’ systems for your online marketing is crucial for a small business. These systems can help reach your audience more efficiently making your time spent on social media more effective. Here are a few easy systems you can set up so your content can be easily distributed. Instagram System: Instagram is a great starting tool in a system. You can take a picture from your smart phone, post it on Instagram and it will automatically post on Twitter, Facebook and your website. Here are two easy steps that will build a system for your Instagram posts: Instagram settings: choose “share settings.” Select Facebook and Twitter and follow the instructions to link to your accounts. You can set up your Facebook feed to go to your personal profile page or to a business page you admin. Add a feed to your website: Use a widget maker like Snapwidget.com to create code that you can install on your website. There are several widget format types to choose from (grid, slide show, scrolling etc.) This is a great way to keep images current on your website. Constant Contact Email System: When you schedule your next Constant Contact Email campaign, you can set it up using Constant Contact’s Simple Share, so that when you push SEND, it not only goes to your email audience but also to your Social Media – Facebook, Twitter etc. This lets those folks that are not currently on you Email list but on your Social networks see the announcements, updates and valuable content that you share with your Email subscribers. Plus it will give you the opportunity to allow those current non-subscribers on your social media channels a chance to sign up for your Email campaigns. In addition, make sure your Email campaigns allow your audience to share with their social networks. Simply activate the Social Share bar for your next campaign. A Simple Facebook System Facebook can act as a distribution hub as well. When you post to your Facebook Page, you can have that post automatically populate your Twitter Tweet and Linkedin status. While you are logged in to your Facebook account, go to https://www.facebook.com/twitter. Then simply go through the steps to connect the two. You can have Facebook feed directly to your web site via a Facebook Like Box. Go to https://developers.facebook.com/docs/plugins/like-box-for-pages to set up the code you will need to provide to your web master. This will create a content box on your website which will display your most recent posts. Plus it can give your web site a fresh look every time you post to Facebook. You will need to have designated space on your site for the feed. The systems mentioned are pretty basic. You can build on them as you move forward; adding an automatic blog feed to your Facebook Page, automating your YouTube to Facebook interaction, adding your Twitter feed to your web site, and sending your Facebook posts to LinkedIn just to name a few. The point is to create systems that work for your business. Systems that will save you time and provide maximum exposure for your valuable content.
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People generally need to visualize and get organized before they can implement. Baking a cake takes a recipe and a cupboard of ingredients. Building a house requires a blueprint and a crew of skilled craftspeople. Marketing your business requires a plan plus the tools and know-how to make it happen. With 2015 steps away, it's time to embrace the clean slate offered by the New Year and create a month-by-month marketing action plan for the entire year. That may sound overwhelming, but let's start with a few easy steps:
Review your previous marketing efforts and list what worked well and what could stand some improvement or needs to be shelved
List and prioritize your goals for the coming year
Divide those goals and place them into 12 bite size actions – one for January - December
Print out a blank calendar for each month and write down your plan to promote the goal for each month.
Tip: Leave some room on your calendar or use the back of the page to make notes and jot down ideas for subject lines and posts. This will help further develop your editorial calendar and spawn ideas for your supporting content.
You will also want to add your social media posting and email marketing dates to the calendar. Each month, you'll find that this will help you stay focused on your goals, upcoming events and milestones.
This simple road map for the coming year will help you stay focused and on track. Remember it's a basic guide and will most likely be adjusted as you move forward, but it will provide direction.
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