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7 Advanced Email Tools to Pump up the Volume on Your Marketing

10 hours 49 min ago

Creating an effective email full of engaging content for your readers is crucial for achieving a good open rate, strong inbox placement, and generating business, too. But how can you take your emails from good to great? Here, we’ve listed some advanced email tools you can use in conjunction with your VerticalResponse account to turn up the volume on your marketing:

1. Popup Domination 
Once you have an email sign up form set up on your website, how do you get your visitors to take notice? A pop-up form! Yes, pop-ups may have been huge annoyances in the past, but they’ve come a long way. Popup Domination allows you to determine the amount of time a visitor is on your site before they see the sign up form, and how often. They also offer analytics, testing, and provide a variety other cool features. You get all these features and a guarantee that your list will grow for a one-time fee.

2. COLOURlovers Photocopa
Add a little oomph to your email or website design by creating a color palette based on any image. Colourlovers is a free service. Simply, upload your own photo from anywhere on the web and add it to the gallery for others to use as inspiration or keep it private for only your use. 



3. Litmus Scope

Have you ever received an email that you loved and wished you could recreate it? Litmus Scope can help you out. Currently it’s only integrated with Gmail, so if you don’t have a Gmail account, you’ll need to set one up. Litmus Scope requires that you either know HTML (to make edits) or that you use the Canvas tool in VerticalResponse Classic. Below, a screenshot from our VerticalResponse newsletter illustrates what Litmus Scope does. The left side is the scoped email and the right side shows is HTML code for it.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Premailer
If you want your emails to match your website, meet Premailer. Just paste in your website URL and Premailer will create inline CSS to use in the HTML of your email. For your email to work best on all email programs, your CSS should be inline, and a lot of websites use External Style sheets. This works fine for websites, but if a browser-based email program is in the mix, all your hard work will be ignored. Premailer is a free program, and they give you the code you need to use without having to set up an account.

5. Email Spam Test
Here at VerticalResponse, we work hard to ensure your email gets safely delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes. However, if your content and HTML aren’t up to snuff, it can cause delivery issues. Email Spam Test can help you identify any issues before you send your email. To use Email Spam Test, you’ll need access to your email’s HTML. Once you’ve run a test, you’ll receive a score and a report of things that may need to be changed. Here’s an example below:

6. Dasheroo
Your VerticalResponse account provides reporting on the emails and social posts that you create. But, if you want to dig deeper and track email reports over time, or track other social accounts like LinkedIn, check out Dasheroo. It enables you to track the following:

  • Performance of your most recent emails (subject line, date, sent, opens, clicks, bounces and unsubs)
  • List size
  • Engagement (trending open and click rates for past 30 emails)
  • Trending Bounce and Unsub rates for past 30 emails.

The best part? Being able to see all this next to your Google Analytics, Adwords, Facebook, Twitter and other apps all in one place – for free. Find Dasheroo in our VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace

7. VerticalResponse
We couldn’t write a blog post about email tools with out mentioning some of our own features, of course. You need a sign up form to grow your email lists, and you want something easy to use. No sweat, use your VerticalResponse account to create a sign up form. Embed it on your website, or use a hosted version with various templates. You can share your sign up form on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere you can share a URL. There are just a few steps to set it up and it is customizable, so you can add any fields you want to collect. The best part? It’s free to set up and use.

These seven tools should help you pump up the volume on your marketing for little to no cost. What other products do you like to add to your email tools? Let us know in the comments.

Be sure to visit the VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace for other cool tools that play nice with VerticalResponse

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 7 Advanced Email Tools to Pump up the Volume on Your Marketing appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

A Service-Based Business’s Guide to Email Marketing

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 09:35

Service-based businesses like computer repair shops, staffing agencies, cleaning services, marketing companies, e-commerce businesses and a whole host of others use email marketing to promote their business.

While many service-based businesses embrace the power of email marketing, it’s safe to say the way you utilize email is much different than the big box stores at the mall.

To help service-based businesses use email marketing to its fullest, we’ve created this guide that’s chock-full of information and tips to maximize every email you send.

We’ll cover why your business should send emails by highlighting the marketing goals that specific emails can accomplish. We’ll also showcase four emails that your business should send. We’ll have examples of each email, along with handy tips like when to send them and the components that each email should have.

So let’s get down to email business. Here’s a look at five goals that email marketing can accomplish for your service-based business.

1. Attract potential customers

Email can intrigue potential customers in a non-obtrusive way. Email isn’t pushy and doesn’t have that same feel as a cold call. An email that introduces potential clients to your business is an attractive way for customers to learn about what you do on their own terms.

2. Encourage customer activation

Email is a great way to activate potential customers. You can encourage customers to get quotes, schedule services and set up consultations through email. These messages are designed to motivate potential customers into actual customers. In other words, you’re converting leads in paying clients.

3. Drive website traffic

Like many service-based businesses, your website is probably one of your main marketing tools. Rather than hoping your website shows up in search results, you can encourage potential customers to visit your website through email.

Email is a great routing tool that can lead your customers to your website to learn more about your business and engage with your company. Just make sure you have the right things in place when they arrive so you don’t miss an opportunity. 

4. Retain customers

You want to keep your customers to come back again and again. Well-timed emails that remind customers about your service can be just the nudge your clients need to come back. 

5. Keep customers informed

Everyone gets busy, but emails can keep your audience informed even when life gets crazy. Emails that keep your clients informed or “in the know” keep your target audience engaged with your business and company. Informative emails can also update customers about upcoming deals, events or changes to services.

Now that we’ve covered why your business should send emails, let’s talk about four popular emails that you should send to accomplish these goals.

1. Welcome email

What is it: As the name implies, a welcome email greets a new customer. It’s often the first email that you send to someone who has just joined your list and sets the tone for your relationship. As with any first meeting, you want to make a good first impression.

Which goals does it accomplish: attracts potential customers, drives website traffic.

When to send it: When a new contact signs up for your email list, you want to send a welcome email within 48 hours. Considering this email is time sensitive, you should automate your welcome emails. That way, when a new contact is added to your list, he or she will automatically receive a welcome email.

The components of an effective welcome email:

Take a look at the email below from Recurly, an online service site that offers healthcare tips and programs.

This welcome email is made up of several components, which your welcome email should also include.

  • A warm greeting. Even if it’s just a simple “Welcome” message at the top like in this example, or “We’re glad you’ve joined us,” you need a friendly message to introduce the email.
  • Your business logo.  Use your logo so your recipients get familiar with it.
  • Reinforce the benefits. Tell customers what they’ll get as a new subscriber.
  • Call to action. Motivate your subscriber to interact with your business online. In this case, the email offers links to help users get started. The three boxes are the main call to action, but you’ll notice there are several other hyperlinks in the email too.

2. Customer activation email

What is it: Once you’ve welcomed a new contact, you can build on that relationship by talking about the benefits to the customer of the service you offer. With an activation email, you want prospects to move beyond the “I’m interested” phase to the “Sign me up” phase. You want your recipients to get a quote, schedule service online or call you to set up an appointment.

Which goals does it accomplish: customer activation.

When to send it: It’s best to send an activation email 2-5 days after your welcome email. During that window of time, the potential client may still thinking about your services and could be ready to act.

The components of an activation email:

Take a look at the example below from Cigna, health insurance company.

  • Reminder of services. Offer a concise explanation of the service that you provide and the benefit it provides.
  • Create a sense of urgency. You want potential clients to act now, so use phrases that encourage quick action. In this example the heading reads, “Hurry, You Have 6 Days Left.” Deadlines can help create a sense of urgency. Consider offering a time-sensitive incentive like “Get an extra 10% off when you set up an appointment in the next 48 hours.”
  • Call to action. The point of this email is to get an interested client one step closer to a sale. Your call to action should tell the reader how to start using your services. We suggest a call to action button that’s a different color than the rest of the text so it stands out.

3. Newsletter

What is it: A newsletter is an informational email that keeps your recipients informed about your business and industry-related news. A newsletter is an effective email marketing tool because of its ability to communicate different types of content. The variety of content that you can include in a newsletter is endless. You can promote events, highlight employees, talk about upcoming changes to your services, tell customers about charity events that you’re taking part in, remind customers about promotions that are about to expire, offer tips that are related to your business and much more.

Which goals does it accomplish: drives website traffic, retains customers, keeps customers informed.

When to send it: You can send an email newsletter anytime, but you want to be consistent. Whether you send newsletters once a month or once a week, it’s up to you as long as you stick to a schedule and deliver what you promised your subscriber when they signed up. 

The components of an effective newsletter:

Take a look at the newsletter from Hershey’s Chocolate World below.

  • Create interesting content. A newsletter is all about creating engaging and interesting pieces of content for your audience to consume. Keep the articles short, around 300 words.
  • Select a format. Some newsletters mimic that of a newspaper, with several small articles to read. Other newsletters give you “teaser articles.” In other words, the articles aren’t complete within the newsletter. To read more, the recipient is directed to the company blog like the example below. This format has the added bonus of driving visits to your website or blog.
  • Include images. While newsletters are more text-heavy than other emails, it’s important to break them up with images that complement the story. Make sure the image is clear and large enough for the reader to see. Whether you use a picture of staff, a graphic or buy a photo from a stock site, it’s always a good idea to include a visual element. Turn to photo editing sites like PicMonkey if you need to resize or crop images. Or, most ESPs provide this functionality within their tool. 
  • Pick a color scheme. Notice the newsletter below uses red as its main color and uses a few other accent colors. Don’t go overboard with too many colors. If you need some inspiration, check out ColorCombos. The site can help you select a matching color scheme.
  • Include links to social media sites your business is on. Any time you can encourage additional engagement, you should.

4. Follow up email

What is it: After you’ve completed work for a client, send a follow up email. A follow up email can take on many forms. You could direct a customer to leave feedback, make a payment, schedule another appointment or just say thanks.

Which goals does it accomplish: retains customers.

When to send it: A follow up email should be sent within 48 hours of the service.

The components of a great follow up email:

Take a look at the example below from a consulting firm.

  • Clear call to action. Every follow up email should have a clear call to action. What do you want the recipient to do after reading it? In this case, readers should rate the service they received. We suggest using a button as a call to action as buttons tend to stand out more.
  • Include additional engagement options. You can include additional links to encourage more engagement. This email offers a “contact us” link, but you can include links for customers to schedule another appointment or learn more about an upcoming offer. When adding these additional links, make sure they are smaller than your call to action so they don’t distract from the main point of the email. 
  • Add social media buttons. Again, you should make sure customers have a way to connect with you on social media. Most email templates include the ability to link to your social media channels, so make sure you take advantage of them. The more ways your customer has to engage with your company, the better.

Of course, there are many other emails that your service-based business can benefit from. From announcement emails to re-engagement emails, there are heaps of reasons to reach out to your customer base using email marketing. What kinds of emails best serve your business? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Send your service-based emails today through VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 email contacts.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post A Service-Based Business’s Guide to Email Marketing appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

7 Dos and Don’ts for Writing Your Company’s Story

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 09:15

Your company’s description, or “about us” section is usually one of the most popular pages and/or pieces of content on your website – are you putting your best face forward there, or could your story use a makeover?

Read on to review what you should and shouldn’t do when writing your company’s description. These dos and don’ts will ensure your company’s story is as compelling and informative as possible.

1. Do: Tell a story

This is an area where small companies have an advantage over the big guys. People enjoy supporting others with whom they feel a connection, and sharing your personal story is a step toward establishing a relationship. In your company description, talk about why the business was started or the history behind it.

Instead of simply listing all the services they offer, Emerald Auto & Brake shares the company’s story on their site’s “about” section. Here, we learn it’s a family-run business, passed down from father to son (and possibly down another generation!):

2. Don’t: Fudge the facts

You want to stand out from the crowd, but steer away from any inclination to pad the numbers, client list, achievements, etc. It’s just not worth the risk to your business and the reputation you’ve worked so hard to establish.

 

3. Do: Use visuals/photos

The old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” definitely rings true in many cases. Staff pics, behind-the-scenes peeks and old photos add context and color to your company description.

Hat company Goorin Bros., founded in 1895 and passed down four generations, does this very well. The company’s vintage photos and memorabilia, which show its evolution through the decades, complement the story it tells and visually reinforce the brand’s history and commitment to old-school craftsmanship:

4. Don’t: Use copyrighted photography

Just because you found a photo or image on a search engine doesn’t give you the right to use it commercially on your website. Copyright law is serious stuff and most, if not all, professional photographers maintain strict copyrights on their images. To avoid this problem, use a stock photo site like Thinkstock (rates start at $49 for five downloads). Many amateur photographers (and non-photographers) share their images on Flickr under a Creative Commons license, which dictates how you can and can’t use their work.

5. Do: Use numbers

Any data or statistics you can tout to show why people should buy or work with you is great validation that should be included in your company description. Here at VerticalResponse, we often say that email marketing brings in $41 for every $1 spent, according to industry reports. That’s a pretty compelling figure for a business that’s on the fence about whether or not to give email a try.

Earth Baby, a compostable diaper service in the San Francisco Bay Area, uses numbers to explain their impact on the environment:

6. Don’t: Write a novel

It’s hard to get people excited about a long block of text, so keep your company description short and sweet. Tell an interesting story, but don’t bog people down with it. After all, the point of the company description is to encourage readers to take an action – whether it’s to call you, buy something or visit your establishment – so don’t make it a roadblock.

7. Do: Show your personality

Being a little funny (if that’s your style) can definitely help you stand out among your competitors and help customers feel connected to your company. Just keep it PC and authentic!

When one thinks of letterpress printing, images of fancy wedding invitations and feminine designs might come to mind. Cranky Pressman, a letterpress company based in Salem, Ohio, takes its name seriously and its website copy is written from the perspective of – you guessed it – a cranky old pressman. “This is not some cute boutique,” it declares on its homepage. Read on for more snark:

 

In short – when it comes to your company description, be interesting, be accurate, and above all, be yourself! 

What do you love, or not, on company website “about” pages? Share in the comments!

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© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 7 Dos and Don’ts for Writing Your Company’s Story appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

14 Email Essentials to Ensure Success

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 08:12

When you create an email for your business you want to get results, and we want you to help ensure that success. Use this handy 14-point email marketing checklist to cover your bases before you hit send.

1. Check the ‘from’ label

Most often, you want your email to come from a company email account (or who the recipient has the relationship with). Your business name should be in the ‘from’ label, as well as the email address so your recipient can quickly identify whom the email is from.

2. Review your subject line

Is your subject line short and to the point? According to Retention Science, subject lines with six to ten words get the highest open rates. As more people open email on their smartphones, concise subject lines are increasingly important.

3. Check your pre-header

Do you have a catchy preheader? It acts as a secondary subject line, and shows in a reader’s inbox preview. Your first line of text becomes your email preheader, which provides readers with additional information.

4. Consider your call to action

Without reading any of your text, can you easily tell what the call to action is in your email? If not, make adjustments. We suggest creating a call to action button to make it standout.

5. Review your color scheme

Colors matter. You want your email to look professional and well put together. Keep your color scheme to two or three colors. Too many colors can be distracting. To make color selection simple, consider using the colors in your logo for a consistent look and feel.

6. Review font choices

Is the text readable? Now isn’t the time to test out funky fonts. You want clear and legible text. Consider basic fonts like Times New Roman and Arial. Set the font size to 12. If you want to try a different font, check out this study on email fonts first.

7. Test your links

You don’t want to send an email with broken links. Send yourself a test email prior and check all your links before you send it to your list. 

8. Scan your email for cliché words

You want to avoid overused and cliché marketing words in your email. You may want to avoid words like “groundbreaking” and “epic”. Here’s a handy list of marketing words that can sell and repel.

9. Check your email for urgency

To motivate your recipients to act, you’ll want to use urgent language. If you’re offering a deal, set a deadline so recipients will know to act quickly. You can also use time sensitive language like “Act now” and “Last chance.”

10. Check content for the “it factor”

Once a recipient opens an email, you want him or her to keep reading. To hook readers, the content of your email should be compelling. Whether you offer a great deal, teach readers something new or make them laugh, your email needs an “it factor” to keep readers engaged.

11. Proofread

Read the email two times. The first time, read it from top to bottom. The second time, read it from bottom to top. By reading the sentences out of order you’re more likely to catch mistakes. It’s a good idea to have another set of eyes read it too.

12. Review images

Your email should contain a few images. They help break up the text. Make sure your images are relevant and in the right format. Here’s an image cheat sheet to reference.

13. Test your email

To maximize your email effectiveness, you can test different aspects. For example, you can create the same email but with different subject lines and send the two emails to a small portion of your list. Check your results to see which subject line performs better, then send the top performer to the remainder of your list. Check out this article that highlights four tests that you can run to boost your success rate. 

14. Send the email to your inbox

Most email service providers have a preview option so you can see what your email will look like to a recipient, but it’s also always a good idea to send a test email to your inbox first to give it a thorough review.

Okay, that’s it. You’re ready to hit send and release your email into the wild. By performing this quick check you can set your email up for success every time.  

Send your emails with VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 email contacts.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 14 Email Essentials to Ensure Success appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Facebook Launches Product Ads

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:30

Showcasing your products on Facebook just got easier. The social media site just launched Product Ads. What makes these ads different than other Facebook ads? Two things.

First, they come with advanced targeting methods. You can get your ad in front of the right audience with a few clicks.

Second, Product Ads allow you to show customers more than one product per ad. You no longer have to pick one product or service and hope that it resonates with your audience. Now, you can showcase several products.

This new advertising option has been in the testing phases for months, but with solid feedback, Facebook has decided to roll out Product Ads for everyone. Here’s what you should know about this new advertising tool:

What do Product Ads mean for you?

  • Take the guesswork out of adverting

You can upload your entire product catalog and let Facebook create ads for you. Using an algorithm, Facebook will select the best target audience to show your ads to.

Right now, small business owners have to do a lot of trial and error. You pick a product to highlight and select an audience based on a few parameters like location. This new feature is supposed to eliminate the guesswork and hone in on the most viable viewers.

  • Get ads in front of shoppers

If a potential shopper browses your website, you can set up a Product Ad to show up in that shopper’s newsfeed. It’s another example of the high tech targeting options you have with these new ads.

  • Multi-product ads

One of the most appealing Product Ad features is its ability to showcase several products. After all, most companies sell more than one product or service, so why limit adverting to just one thing?

These multi-product ads show up to three products. Each has its own image, description and link. On a mobile device, customers can swipe through the series of images and tap the screen to go to the seller’s website.

Facebook shared this image to show what the ads look like:

  • Real time updates

Product Ads update based on your inventory. If a product goes out of stock, the ad will update itself and stop showing that item to your audience.

What kind of response are Product Ads getting?

Target and Shutterfly are among the heavy hitters that tested the new ads. According to statistics supplied by Facebook, Target saw a 20 percent increase in conversions compared to other Facebook ads.

Shutterfly had similar results, and said the ads allowed their business to showcase products “in a clean and engaging way.”

Nomorerack, an online retailer, used the multi-product ad and reported a 42 percent increase in clickthrough rates. 

Where can you find this new feature?

If you’re using one of Facebook’s Marketing Partners, you can access the ads through them. In a few weeks, everyone will be able to access the ads through the Power Editor.

Facebook also launched a Relevance Score to help small businesses advertise on its platform. What do you think of the recent advertising changes on Facebook? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post Facebook Launches Product Ads appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Introducing The VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 06:00

Here at VerticalResponse, we’re always looking for more ways to expand product functionality and flexibility for our customers. To do so, we launched the Integrations Marketplace, a hub displaying every VerticalResponse integration. These integrations allow you to sync your VerticalResponse account with your favorite apps, services, software and tools, increasing efficiency.

We’re adding integrations on a regular basis, so check back often, or request the products or tools you use, and we’ll look into them! We’ve currently incorporated 13 integrations, including the launch of our seven latest: Kickbox, Tatango, Lander, Picreel,  Justuno, Dasheroo, and Wishpond!

Here’s a look into each of these latest integration, and what they can do for you:

Kickbox
Having a clean email list is one of the best ways get your email messages delivered to the inbox. Without consistently removing bounces and invalid email addresses from your contact list, you’re potentially wasting valuable sends and risking your reputation. Luckily, Kickbox is here to help you.

Kickbox enables you to import your VerticalResponse email lists into their platform, and quickly and easily remove disposable email domains including role-based email addresses (like admin@, info@, sales@). You can then export only valid email addresses back into your VerticalResponse account.

Kickbox introduces the innovative Sendex score and verification analytics to determine the quality of your email addresses. Plus, all users get 100 free verifications every day. Should you need additional email verifications, VerticalResponse customers get a 10 percent discount. Start separating good emails from the bad and ugly now.

Tatango
Imagine if people could sign up for your email list, just by sending you a text message? Tatango’s new integration with VerticalResponse makes this vision a reality.

To opt-in to your list, subscribers simple text your business’s assigned, unique word to the phone number 33733. They’re then prompted to reply with their email address – That’s it! Each email address is automatically added to your VerticalResponse email list. The best part? It’s free to collect up to 250 emails each month.

This is a unique tool for customer engagement; learn more on the VerticalResponse Integrations page.

Lander
Need to create a fresh landing page? Lander’s got you covered.

Lander has fully customizable landing page templates designed for any marketing goal, and optimized for conversions. Their editor is extremely easy to use, and pricing starts at just $9/month after a 30-day free trial. What’s more, Lander’s tool also includes built-in A/B testing functionality, allowing you to test two different versions of your landing page to ensure you’ll be transforming your visitors into customers.

Step up your landing page game here.

Picreel
Want visitors to stay on your website longer? Picreel offers cutting-edge Exit Intent Technology that analyzes mouse movements to detect when your visitors are making web page exiting steps, and prevents it. How? Picreel detects exit behavior and triggers an appropriate popup in the form of a newsletter, update, offer, free download, or other options to help grab that lead, and convert traffic into sales.

Picreel offers free customizable designs so you can use your own banners to ensure the design fits your website’s look and feel. You’ll also be able to take advantage of Picreel’s A/B split testing, and their powerful dashboard displaying real-time statistical data. Increase your conversion rates now using the VerticalResponse and Picreel integration. 

Justuno
Want to grow your email list? Give your readers an incentive. Justuno allows you to build email lists through incentive-based promotions; all using a simple instant offer widget.

An on-site promotion incentivizes website visitors to join your email list in exchange for a coupon code or free download, all while keeping the visitor on your site. Justuno’s widget also enables you to grow your social following by offering visitors a coupon in exchange for a Facebook like, Twitter follow, Google+1, among other available options.

Justuno seamlessly integrates with your VerticalResponse account and automatically exports all newly acquired email addresses directly to the email list of your choice. With targeting rules, a tab and pop up editor, and analytics, the Justuno dashboard makes it easy for you to manage your website promotions. Start converting your website traffic into email opt-ins and social fans with Justuno.

Dasheroo
Online marketing efforts often require the use of multiple web tools. Multiple tools often means multiple domains, usernames, and passwords to track all your social media, sales, and support activity. What if they were all in place? They are with Dasheroo. 

Dasheroo creates powerful insights using the most actionable data from popular sources like Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics and of course VerticalResponse. Dasheroo dashboards enable you to organize data, and if you have a team they can use it too. Dasheroo is secure, in the cloud, and free.

Wishpond
Need a Swiss Army knife for your online marketing? Meet Wishpond. Create landing pages, contests, promos, forms, popups, and ads all in one place. Wishpond covers everything from A/B testing landing pages, to running a sweepstakes, managing your Google Ad words, and adding timed popups to your site is covered.

From small business owners to professional marketing agencies, Wishpond makes it possible to execute an entire online marketing campaign in one place. Once you’ve grabbed some hot new leads or contacts, export them straight into your VerticalResponse mailing list with the click of a button.

Stay in sync with the software and tools you use to run your business with VerticalResponse Integrations. Have a favorite product or service that you want VerticalResponse to integrate with? Let us know in the comments. 

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post Introducing The VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

The Top 10 Best Resources to Learn About SEO

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 09:15

When you’re looking for a answer, what do you do? You Google it, right? Most of us pull out our smartphone or laptop and head to Google, or a similar search engine to find answers. It’s so common that “google” is listed as a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Of course, as a business owner, you want your own website to come up when people are searching for your product or service. So, how do you make sure your website appears in relevant search results? Your website has to be attractive to search engines. You need all the right ingredients to earn high rankings. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

To ensure sure your website is as relevant as possible and when it comes to wowing search engines, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about search engine optimization from the pros.

To help you learn more about SEO, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best resources on the subject. While we’ve explained it in fairly simple terms, SEO can be complicated. Whether you’re an SEO newbie, or have a basic understanding of the practice, these resources are meant to help small business owners with a variety of skill levels.

SEO websites and blogs

1. Search Engine Land

This website, which focuses on the search marketing industry, is like a digital encyclopedia of search engine optimization information. Updates are frequent and subscribing to the daily newsletter will land all the latest news right in your inbox. 

2. Moz

Moz is an inbound marketing company and provider of SEO tools that has a blog full of insightful articles. The blog is updated frequently, and you can search for specific topics of interest. SOme of our favorite content is the Whiteboard Friday video series with Rand Fishkin the Wizard of Moz. 

3. Wordtracker

Wordtracker was doing SEO before it had a name. Based in London, this company publishes regular content about SEO on its blog.

Guides and videos

4. Google’s Search Engine Optimization Guide

This 30-page PDF is a great beginner’s guide to SEO. It’s full of information and pictures that go along with actionable tips that you can use to improve your Google rankings.

5. Creating an SEO Strategy

Not sure where to begin? Google has a how-to video that helps you set up a SEO strategy.

6. The Advanced Guide to SEO

Quick Sprout created this nine-chapter guide that offers more advanced SEO tips. It’s set up in an infographic style, which makes it easier to digest.

7. How to Conduct a Competitive SEO Audit

HubSpot has a five-step guide that checks your website against your competition. It’s a great resource for those with advanced SEO knowledge.

SEO tools

8. Google Webmaster Tools

As you make improvements to your website, you’ll want to monitor your success. Google Webmaster Tools can provide the statistics you’re looking for. Think of it as a data center for your website. We have a Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools that you’ll find helpful as you learn your way around the site. Bing has a similar tool.

9. Google Adwords Keyword Tools

Keywords are important to every SEO campaign. This tool will help you pick words that are popular with consumers and attractive to search engines.

10. Open Site Explorer

This tool serves as a link checker. You can see who has links to your site, spot broken URLs and size up your competition with this Moz tool. It has limited free capabilities, but you can upgrade for more features.

Where do you turn for SEO advice? Tell us your favorite resource or SEO tool in the comment section below. To learn more about the do’s and don’ts of SEO check out our popular infographic

Be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter and receive social, SEO, and email marketing tips on a weekly basis.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post The Top 10 Best Resources to Learn About SEO appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 09:40

Here at VerticalResponse we’re always being asked things like, “What is the best day to send an email?” or “What are the real email marketing secrets?” and “What are some great subject lines?” I decided to focus this post on that last one, and offer some proven-to-work subject lines that you can test out for your email marketing campaigns.

First of all, I’m assuming at this point your recipients will recognize you from your “From Label.” If they’re familiar with who the email is coming from, you’ll have better luck getting your email opened with a catchy subject line.

As a retailer, your email marketing is probably mostly aimed at selling. If you sell your own products or products from other manufacturers, you may be trying to announce new products, new seasons or discounts and sales. You’ll want your recipients to act fast, so you’ll want to have a sense of urgency in your subject line – perhaps by including an expiration or limited time call to action.

You’ll see in my examples that some of the subject lines are a bit vague like “An Exclusive Offer for You,” however, sometimes that might get more opens than if you talk about a specific product. That’s something that you need to test for yourself in your own campaigns so let’s get on with the examples:

Offer, Offer, Offer

  • Enjoy this Special Offer at Our New Location
  • 25-40% off – Email-Only Offer – Today Only
  • You’re Invited! New Product Launch Party at [Your company] 
  • Ends Today! 20% Off Friends & Family
  • Top 10 under $10
  • Yours in 2 days (free shipping!) + 40% off
  • Free product with purchase of [product name]
  • [New Product] has arrived. Order now before we run out.
  • Earn double points for [insert product or action].
  • Last chance to get 50% off!
  • Want 20% off your next order?
  • Enjoy [season] with rates from $65
  • Exciting new changes at [your company]
  • An Exclusive Offer for You
  • TODAY. Post [holiday] Flash Sale! 2 for $20
  • Last minute deals, special offers, and new [product name]
  • Don’t Let These Get Away
  • Online only: 25% off friends and family
  • Introducing our latest…[product/feature here]
  • [Product name] Promotion week. Save 25%
  • Extended for a day! Get Free shipping through Friday
  • Don’t miss this! Extra 50% off sale ends tonight!
  • Limited Supply: Limit 2 [product name] per customer
  • The [your company] holiday catalog is here!
  • Email subscriber exclusive: [Product name] sale is here
  • Ends Today: Take 20% off your entire order
  • Last chance! Be sure to grab the best price!
  • Your choice of amazing items $50 + under
  • Great gifts for [Dad, Mom, etc]
  • Best Sellers Every [girl, boy, man, woman, dog, etc.] Needs
  • Everything you need when the temperatures [rise, fall]
  • [Hot, Cold?] Stay indoors and save.

Catchy & Creative

  • Sometimes all you need is a little vase lift  (retailer selling vases)
  • Seriously flattering jeans (retailer selling jeans, obviously – swap out jeans with your own product )
  • How [your company] got its name (retailer selling lingerie, telling a story inside the email)
  • Temperatures Fall, Style Rises (retailer selling coats)
  • Celebrity Favorites (retailer selling accessories that Hollywood is wearing)
  • Uh oh. Did you forget someone on your list? (coffee retailer suggesting subscription boxes)
  • 10 Gift Ideas for your little ones (retailer listing top 10 suggestions for kids)
  • Manhattan View for a Song in the Shower (retailer selling shower curtain with Manhattan skyline on it)
  • Take your pick: Our 9 Favorite [your product] (retailer suggesting items by popularity)
  • Coolest modern desk on the job…for $149 (retailer including price in the subject line)
  • Score Great Savings on Game-Time Gear: HDTVs, Furniture & More (retailer selling TVs with a sports slant)
  • Party Like it’s 1999 Aged Cabernet Special (wine retailer)
  • Get in Our Pants (retailer selling new product line)
  • It’s okay, you can wait till the last minute. (sale reminder)
  • Make room in that closet (clothing retailer announcing a new product)
  • Bring this email to our store and win! (retailer trying to get store traffic)
  • send some. get some. (florist rewarding customers with a $10 coupon for pre-ordering flowers for an upcoming holiday)
  • New Feature: Reviews by You! (retailer introducing customer reviews to products online)

I hope this gets your subject line creative juices flowing. If you’ve got some effective subject lines that have worked for your business, comment and let us know.

Send emails your emails for free using VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 contacts and 4,000 emails per month.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in October 2009 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

LinkedIn Launches Notification Center for Company Pages

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:55

In a continued effort to support businesses, LinkedIn announced the launch of the notification center for company pages. This new feature, officially announced on the LinkedIn blog, provides users with an overview of their company page updates, including the number of likes, comments, and shares they receive on content, as well as any mentions the company has received on the LinkedIn network.

This new feature has been rolled out globally and is available for use by any company page administrator. 

Additionally, LinkedIn is trying to make it easier for company page administrators to navigate the notifications from their company page and personal network. To assist in this effort, LinkedIn is aggregating multiple actions that take place on your company page into one notification. This should clean up the notifications and allow administrators to more easily keep track of company activities as well as activity on their own personal network.

What do you think of the LinkedIn notification center? Do you think it will provide your business more useful insights? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

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© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Understand Your Target Market: 3 Steps to Creating Customer Personas

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:00

Your product or service is intended for a particular group of people, right? Whether your customers are commuters, busy moms, fashion bloggers, or families needing dental care, your business appeals to a target market. You may have a grasp on your customers, but how well do actually know them?

Digging into the depths of your target market by creating customer personas or profiles can help ensure your product and marketing efforts are strategic and on point. According to Wikipedia, personas are defined as fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.

How do you create customer personas? Some business owners go off a gut feeling, however, unless you have psychic powers, it’s best to conduct some simple research. There’s a lot of information on the topic, so we’ve narrowed it down to three simple steps to help you pull together the framework of personas for your business. 

Step #1: Interview and/or survey your customers

Interviews and surveys can provide some of the most valuable feedback about your customers. One-on-one interviews provide the most in-depth infromation because you can get clarification or expand upon questions. Survey services like Survey Monkey allow you to sample a larger group given one-on-one interviews aren’t very scalable.

When interviewing or surveying customers, your questions will obviously vary depending on your industry (retail vs. service-based, or B2B). Here are some topics we explored when considering our customer personas:

  • How they found our company (referral, word-of-mouth, internet, an ad, social etc.)
  • Why they bought from us (good price, excellent service, unique offering, etc.)
  • Their level of technical experience (This, again, depends on your industry.)
  • Company information (size, type, industry, etc.)
  • Demographic information (age, gender, household income, etc.)
  • Location
  • What challenges they face
  • What problem our product or service solves for them
  • How our sales process was (easy, hard, middle of the road)

Asking these types of questions can help you start to see themes in your customer base as you move on to step 2.

Step #2: Dive into the data

Once you’ve gathered enough data from interviews and/or surveys, bucket your findings into different groupings. More than likely, you’ll start to see patterns. As certain characteristics start to bubble up, your personas will start to take shape.

Step #3: Develop the personas

You can start with around 3-5 personas. Use a persona template like the one found below from Orange Bus. Fill in the blanks with your data, create a name and even give your persona a picture to bring it to life. 

There are several persona frameworks you can create or choose from – check out these examples

For more information on creating customer personas, check out The Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Personas written by Kevan Lee of Buffer.

These three steps should help set you on a course to better understanding your customers’ motivations, challenges and the problems your business helps solve for them. Then you can take that information and create marketing content that best serves their needs.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post Understand Your Target Market: 3 Steps to Creating Customer Personas appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Top 10 Email Eyesores You Should Avoid

Thu, 02/19/2015 - 07:00

We’ve all seen ‘em. Emails that are so ugly, you ask yourself, “What were they thinking?” Nobody wants to send an ugly email, but it happens.

To avoid major email eyesores, here’s a list of flaws or faux pas you should avoid when creating your emails.

1. An email template that isn’t mobile-friendly

Sending an email that doesn’t render properly on a smartphone or tablet can be a waste of time for both the sender, as well as the reader. It’s frustrating for a reader to shift from vertical to horizontal while simultaneously pinching the screen to zoom in. After that experience, an impression of a sender’s business can be less than positive.

Hint: VerticalResponse email templates are fully-responsive so they look great on any device.

We also have more mobile-friendly design tips in this recent post.

2. Typos or grammatical errors

It’s always a turn off to see a perfectly good email marred by a misspelling. If caught, it’s a definite distraction to what you really want to convey in your message. It’s always a good idea to send a test message to yourself as well as someone else. Getting a second pair of eyes on your email can help you catch any of those unwelcome typos.

3. Font style overload

Using several or even a few different font styles within the same email can be overwhelming to a reader. Only use on or maybe two different fonts in your email to keep it looking clean and consistent.

4.  Color explosion

Using a rainbow of color choices in an email can be jarring to the reader. Whether it’s the color for your text or the background color, you should select colors that match your brand’s image.  If you need to use multiple colors, make sure they complement each other. For more info, learn about the psychology of colors.

5. Too much going on syndrome

In order to understand the main message or call to action, overly busy emails cause a reader’s eyes to dart back and forth across the screen. This will not get you the results you are looking for. More does not necessarily mean better.

Look at the example below and count how many calls to action and varying messages there are in this one email. There’s definitely too much going on here.

If you’re sending a promo, stick to one effective call to action, and make it very prominent. If you’re sending an email newsletter, divide content into clear, clean sections. Guide a reader’s eyes down one path, not fifty.

6. A buried call to action button

Most emails (should) have a call to action. Examples include: “Buy Now,” “Learn More,” “Donate Today,” etc. Don’t make your readers hunt for it. Include a call to action button that’s prominent and eye-catching.

In the email example below, the calls to action are hard to find. Why? Because they’re text-only, and they’re written in the same font and color as the rest of the text. The call to action, “Shop June Hitlist” blends in too much with the other copy to even get noticed.

Need help making buttons? We have a free button tool you can use.

7. Missing pre-header text

Pre-header text serves as a secondary subject line and it grabs a reader’s attention amongst other emails in a crowded inbox. If you’re not using pre-header text, add it to all of your emails now – It’s typically the first line of text found at the top of your email.

Below is a good example of using pre-header text:

8.  Imagery gone wild

Images are an important component to any email. We all know a picture is worth a thousand words. However, there’s no need to throw in a bunch of irrelevant images into an email. Any images should relate directly to the product, service or information the sender is trying to convey. Reference this article, which outlines the specifics of using images in emails.

9. A subject line that doesn’t align

Trying to trick a reader into opening an email with a subject line that doesn’t match the content of the email is just plain shady. Readers will be more hesitant to open any emails from that sender in the future. And, this kind of trickery is against the CAN-SPAM law, the Canadian CASL law and European laws, so just don’t do it.

P.s. Don’t USE ALL CAPS in a subject line either. It looks like you’re shouting. Highlighting one important word with all caps can be very attention-getting though, so don’t rule this technique out completely.

10. One big block of text

An email does not need to be a dissertation, or even a large paragraph. Enough said.

Email design eyesores can be easily avoided with the right font and color choices, a prominent call to action, the perfect mix of text, images and white space, and it never hurts to get a second opinion. Did we miss anything that gets to you? Let us know in the comments.

For more tips, check out our free email design guide.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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The Ultimate Guide to Switching from Constant Contact to VerticalResponse

Wed, 02/18/2015 - 06:01

VerticalResponse is an easy-to-use tool that allows you to create and send engaging email newsletters, offers and invitations. Better yet, we’re affordable, too. In fact, our pricing is 20% less than Constant Contact. Plus, If your email list contains under 1,000 contacts, you can use VerticalResponse for free to send up to 4,000 emails per month.

Thinking about making the switch? Your email lists, sign up forms, welcome emails, and your favorite newsletters can be transferred over from Constant Contact to VerticalResponse in a few simple steps. As Harry R. Maurer, PR Officer for Toastmasters International – District 56 explains, being able to create professional and mobile-friendly aka responsive emails in VerticalResponse is worth the shift:

 ”After exploring VerticalResponse, I found it cleaner, more intuitive than Constant Contact and the emails are responsive so they can be read more easily on mobile devices, which is vital in today’s business. I switched over to VerticalResponse this year and am thrilled with the system – even our members commented on the improved layout of the email designs.”

Ready to join us? First, you’ll need to gather a few things from your Constant Contact account, and then we’ll walk you through the set up of your new VerticalResponse account. In this guide, we’ll focus on gathering your email lists, sign up form, email content and images.

Exporting Your Email Lists
To export your email lists or contacts out of Constant Contact, you can either download one large list, or individual lists. Constant Contact automatically removes unsubscribed addresses from your lists, so as long as you chose either the Active List or your specific lists, you won’t need to change anything in order to mail through VerticalResponse. To avoid issues with CAN-SPAM, CASL, and other anti-spam laws, don’t download All Contacts, as it will include unsubscribes and you can’t mail to those addresses. Reference our handy chart for details about the types of lists you can mail through VerticalResponse.

How to Export Your List from Constant Contact 

  • Go to Contacts on the left side of your Constant Contact account.
  • Click Active under the Contacts section. This will export all the mailable addresses and remove any unsubscribes.
  • You can also download your lists individually if you have multiple lists you want to keep separated for segmentation purposes.
  • Under Email Lists, click on the first list you’d like to export and follow the instructions below for each list.
  • Click the box next to the field Name to select all the records.
  • At the top of the list, select Export. You won’t see this option until records have been selected.

  • You’ll see a list of information associated with your lists. Check each box next to the information you’d like to keep.
  • Click Export at the bottom.

  • Once you’ve exported your information, click Activity at the top of your Contacts page to find the file.
  • Click either Download CSV or Download Excel –either will work in your new VerticalResponse account.

We also have a helpful video that walks you through exporting your list here.

How to Upload Your List(s) into VerticalResponse

Now that you have your list(s), you can upload them to your new VerticalResponse account.

  • Click the Contacts tab at the top of your VerticalResponse account.
  • Click the green plus (+) button.
  • Give your list a name, and if you want to create a sign up form at the same time, click the option that says Allow people to sign up for this list. We’ll walk you through setting up a new sign form after your list has been uploaded. You can always choose to set up a sign up form later, as well.

Next, you’ll upload your list. Because you have your list(s) ready to go, click the button that says Upload File, or just drag your file from your desktop to this screen, we’ll upload it for you.

Once the file has been uploaded, you’ll want to match your imported data/information with the columns or headers listed.  Previous headers used from Constant Contact will be imported, but you can change how the data is mapped if you wish.

  • Click the drop down menu above a column and find the field name you want to use.
  • When everything is matched or mapped the way you want it, click the Import button to finish the upload.
  • Repeat these steps for each list you need to import.

Gathering Your Sign up Form Information

While you aren’t able to export the exact sign up form you have in Constant Contact, you can easily create one in VerticalResponse. To gather your Constant Contact sign up information, you’ll want to take a screen shot. This will give you a reference for the design or text, so you can use it again. Here’s how to do that:

  • Click Contacts on the left side of your Constant Contact account, and then Sign up Form at the top of the page.
  • Click the magnifying glass under Actions and take a screen shot of the form.

- Or -

  • Click the name of the sign up form and copy the text to use in your new VerticalResponse sign up form.

Remember to remove the URL or any sign up buttons that are attached to your Constant Contact form from your website, blog or social network. Perform an online search (Google, Bing, Yahoo) to find any site in which you may have shared the existing link.

How to Set up a Sign up Form in VerticalResponse

You can quickly set up a new embeddable or hosted sign up form in VerticalResponse. These forms can either be embedded on your website, or hosted and shared in the same places as your Constant Contact form. Here’s how to get started:

  • Click on the Contacts tab in your VerticalResponse account.
  • Click the green plus (+) on Sign up Forms.
  • Our system will walk you through setting up your new sign up form; you can also find more information on our helpcenter.

Collecting Your Email Content

You’ll want to collect the contents of your Constant Contact emails, (unfortunately they won’t let you copy the HTML) to create new responsive emails in VerticalResponse a snap. To prepare, send a copy, or resend an email in Constant Contact to yourself. Then, you’ll be able to duplicate the general layout in VerticalResponse and copy the text you want to reuse. Here’s how to resend an email to yourself:

  • Click Campaigns on the left of your Constant Contact account.
  • Click Actions menu on right side to select the email you want to resend to yourself, then click Resend in the menu.

  • Click the Enter email addresses button, then Next on the far right.
  • Enter your email address and click Next.
  • Select the option to Send Now and click Finish.

Now you can log into your VerticalResponse account and create a new email. Here are step-by-step instructions.

If you’re using welcome emails in Constant Contact, copy and use the same text in your VerticalResponse welcome email as well. Here are instructions for creating a new welcome email.

Downloading Your Images
You can download any images from Constant Contact that you want to transfer to VerticalResponse. Here’s how:

  • Click Library on the left side of your Constant Contact account.

  • Click the name of the image, then right-click on the image and select to Save Image As. Name your image.

Once you’ve saved your images, keep them in a handy location on your computer and upload them into your email or account when you’re ready to use them.

These step-by-step instructions make the switch from Constant Contact to VerticalResponse a breeze. Remember, if your list contains under 1,000 email contacts, you mail for free!

Want or need more help? We have an award-winning support team available 7-days a week. Don’t hesitate to contact us!

Don’t have a VerticalResponse account? Create your account, and give us a spin today!

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post The Ultimate Guide to Switching from Constant Contact to VerticalResponse appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Pinterest Adds App Pins and Possibly a ‘Buy’ Button

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 12:00

Need help with a remodeling project? Tapped out of dinner ideas? Looking for an awesome wedding gift? There’s one website you can turn to and get help with all of these questions: Pinterest.

The social media site is known as a one-stop discovery site, with information on all sorts of interests. The site might not get as much attention as its social siblings, Facebook and Twitter, but it’s on its way. In fact, Pinterest is making headlines this week for introducing app pins. Plus, there are rumors that the scrapbook-like social site will add a ‘buy’ button in the near future.

Both of the new features indicate that Pinterest is moving towards an ecommerce site. Here’s what you need to know about the recent announcements:

What is the new app pin?

Pinterest is cozying up with Apple to offer an app pin. Now users can download apps to their iPhone or iPad without ever leaving Pinterest. To explain how it works, developers offer this example on the Pinterest blog: “Let’s say you’re pinning workout inspiration to your marathon training board. If you see a fitness app that helps you reach your goals, you can download it right from Pinterest.”

Matt Crystal, Pinterest’s head of international business, told International Business Times that its partnership with Apple is a great fit for the social site. Since so many people use Pinterest as a search engine for their interests and hobbies, offering app downloads is just another way to improve usability.

How will app pins work?

When you find an app pin, you’ll see an app icon and an ‘install’ button. All you have to do is tap the button and the app automatically downloads to your device. Here’s a snapshot from the Pinterest website that gives you an idea of what it looks like:

How can you pin an app to your board?

Do you have an app that you want to pin on your board? It’s pretty simple to do. According to Pinterest, you select ‘Add a Pin’ from your board view and then select the device. You’ll upload a high-resolution picture of your app and set the destination URL to your app’s page in the App Store.

What’s the latest on the Pinterest ‘buy’ button?

Just like other social sites, Pinterest is making a move into the advertising world. Just last month Pinterest started rolling out Promoted Pins as its first step, and now there are rumors of adding a ‘buy’ button. This new feature would allow users to buy some of their favorite products while on Pinterest.

Pinterest hasn’t officially confirmed the news, but according to Recode, there’s talk of the button launching in as little as three to six months. Facebook is experimenting with a similar feature.

What’s your take on the new Pinterest features? Does your business have an app that you plan to promote on Pinterest? Will your business take advantage of a ‘buy’ button? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below. Want some tips to using Pinterest for your business? We’ve got a free guide to help you. 

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© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post Pinterest Adds App Pins and Possibly a ‘Buy’ Button appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Facebook Launches ‘Relevance Score’ for Ads

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 10:35

Like your high school English teacher, Facebook is breaking out the red pen. You won’t receive a letter grade, but Facebook will be grading ads on a score of 1 to 10. The score is based on how relevant your ads are to your audience. The more relevant the ad is, the higher the score. 

Here’s what you should know about the recently released score:

How is the score calculated?

According to Facebook, “the score is based on the positive and negative feedback we expect an ad to receive from its target audience.” Feedback is based on a variety of factors, but includes metrics like video views and conversion rates. The better the feedback is, the higher the score. The score can change as your audience interacts with the ad.

What are the benefits of the relevance score?

You might be wondering how yet another number is going to help you reach customers, but there are some significant benefits to this new Facebook statistic. Here are a few:

  • It can lower your advertising costs

Yes, you read that right. Facebook plans to reward those who create relevant ads by giving a discount on the ad. The better your relevance score is, the cheaper your ad. Facebook hasn’t given any specifics on the discount, but any break on advertising costs is a welcome one.

  • It provides testing options

Rather than create an ad and hope it hits home with your target audience, you can test ads and check your relevance score before releasing it. It’ll give you the opportunity to change copy or images to see which variation your audience will respond best to.

  • It provides a real-time metric

When an ad is running, you can monitor the score to see how it’s doing. If you want to make changes to improve the score while the ad is up, you can.

What are the drawbacks of the relevance score?

As with any new metric, there are a few downsides. Here are a few:

  • It’s just one number

While the relevance score is a litmus test for your ad, it’s still just one number. As always, you’ll want to look at all of your metrics to see how the ad is working for your specific needs.

  • Your advertising goal is more important than a number

An ad that meets your goal is a successful one, no matter what the relevance score says. For example, if you run an ad with the intent to boost sales of a specific product on your website and you see an increase in sales, that’s the statistic that’s important to you. Even if your relevance score is low, the fact that your ad is meeting your goal could be more important than the score.

What do you think of the new relevance scores? Will this new metric help your business? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Introducing: Jelly, the Social App Non-Profits Should Jump On

Tue, 02/17/2015 - 06:00

Sure, a non-profit page on Facebook or Twitter can keep current supporters up-to-date, but what about reaching new people? Meet Jelly, the social app which allows people to help others by crowd sourcing answers to any question from within the Jelly-sphere. It’s similar to other Q&A platforms like Quora and Ask.com. Many of the questions have a local slant, and it gives non-profits multiple opportunities to grow an audience and gain potential donors or volunteers. 

Why should non-profits use Jelly?

There are few online sources that let you directly answer non-followers’ questions about your cause. While your followers on Twitter and Facebook already know about your non-profit, those posting inquiries on Jelly may not. 

Jelly provides a means to engage with others by posting your own questions, and a way to poll people (e.g., “Where do you donate blood?”) who may not follow you on other social media channels.

As a non-profit, who better to engage with than community members who want to help? As former Livestrong President and CEO Doug Ulman said about social media, “There is a difference between a community and a crowd. In a crowd, people push and shove and try to get a step ahead. In a community, people look around, they smile and share a story, because they know that a community doesn’t move forward unless they all move forward together.”

The community aspect of Jelly allows you to engage with the kind-hearted do-gooders and philanthropists.

How does Jelly work?

When you open the app, you’re presented with users’ questions, one by one. You can answer them or skip them. You have the option to include a map or link with your answer, or you can use your finger to draw on a photo too. You can also forward questions to someone you know.

You can post questions­ with an image, a map or text. You can ask the Jelly audience or post it on Facebook or Twitter with the touch of a button. If you get answers, you can mark them as “good,” send a digital “thank you” and reply to those who answered.

A few things to note:

  • Questions and answers are limited to 100 characters.
  • Using hashtags can increase your exposure to the right people on social media.
  • Multiple people can answer each question.

How can non-profits use Jelly?

One of the first non-profits to try out the platform was Livestrong. The non-profit had just started a social community called “Cancer Hacks” that sought to unite people affected by cancer in order to share solutions to everyday problems. When the non-profit’s Director of Creative Strategy Travis Rimel first learned about Jelly, he said he saw it as “a perfect complement to [Livestrong's] new model of crowdsourcing cancer support.”

The non-profit started posting questions and were pleased with the level of engagement they received from people in the online community.

Here are 10 ways your non-profit can use Jelly:

1. Need a location for an upcoming event? Post something like,”What’s an inexpensive venue for our health fair in Bangor, Maine in July?” with the map feature.

2.  Trying to pick a date for an event? Post questions asking about other events around the city that may occur on your potential dates.

3.  Poll potential donors by asking which incentives motivate them to give. For example, you could ask, “When you donate to a cause, would you rather receive a free T-shirt or a bumper sticker?”

4.  Answer questions related to your cause. One Jelly question asked, “Where can I donate bags of clothes in Williamsburg, Brooklyn?”

5. Post PSAs (public service announcements) for your cause.

6. Use photos to ask questions. For example, an animal shelter may post a photo of a new dog and ask the community to help identify it.  

7. Use the map feature to answer questions. If someone wants to know if there is a Red Cross in town, you can answer the question and supply a map to your location.

8. Use images to post information about your non-profit or cause. For example, a non-profit working to help smokers quit could post an image of a smoker’s lung after a decade of smoking.

9. Test your brand’s strength. You could ask the audience if they recognize this logo.

10. Gather helpful information. Non-profits can ask for advice. For example, you could ask, “What’s the best fundraiser you’ve ever done?”

For more information about Jelly, watch this VerticalResponse video. Are you currently using Jelly? Tell us what you like about it!

VerticalResponse has a free program for non-profits. Sign up and get started.

Wendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer with four books and thousands of published articles to her credit. Contact Wendy at WendyBurt@aol.com

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post Introducing: Jelly, the Social App Non-Profits Should Jump On appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

9 Tips for Taking Top-Notch Smartphone Photos

Mon, 02/16/2015 - 06:00

Do you take photos to use in your emails, or to post on your business’s blog, website, or social networks? How often are you using a professional photographer, studio lighting, or a high-end digital SLR camera? If your answer is, “not that often,” we won’t report you to the photo police, but taking high quality images is an absolute must in this engagement craving, pin-worthy world.

Luckily, if you don’t have a top notch camera or a professional at your fingertips, your smartphone and some handy tips will do just the trick. Break out your smartphone and use these nine tips to take professional-looking photos with every tap of the screen.

1. Don’t zoom

Smartphone cameras are improving, but the second you start zooming, you lose picture quality. It sounds simple, but simply get closer! Or, take the photo then crop it later. If you do it this way, your picture won’t turn out grainy or blurry.

2. Use the rule of thirds

You could be using the nicest of cameras, but if your photo composition is all wrong, you may as well be using a disposable. The rule of thirds is one of the first principles you learn in a photography class as it’s highly important for well-balanced and intriguing photos. The rule is to break down an image and visualize it in thirds, both with horizontal and vertical lines. This gives you 9 imaginary boxes on your proposed photo. The 4 most inner lines on your grid are your guides for placing focal points in your photo. Darren Rowse wrote an entire post about the rule of thirds on Digital Photography School, and states that studies have shown people’s eyes most naturally hit these lines or grids, rather than the center of a photo.

When taking a photo with an iPhone, you’ll notice the gird lines automatically appear on the camera screen.

3. Try camera apps for more control

Rather than snapping photos straight from your camera, try several apps that give you more control. Camera+ is a popular option for iPhone users. DSLR Camera Pro is a hot choice for Android users. As the photographer, you have more options to take creative shots with these apps. Each one costs $3 or less. 

4. Add a new lens

You can actually buy lenses for your smartphone. It’s true. Here’s a set of three lenses for $12. They’re magnetic and go right over the camera lens on your phone. If you’re using your camera to take product photos, it’s a pretty small investment to improve the quality of your shots. Online stores like Photojojo carry a plethora of phone lenses, attachments, ring lights and more.

5. Use natural light

Smartphones aren’t great with lighting, so to compensate for this make sure you take photos near natural light. Going outside is a great option, but if you need to shoot indoors, shoot near a window. However, you don’t want to shoot directly into the window or your photo will be too bright. Instead, put your product off to an angle and take the picture with your back to the window.

Using the flash isn’t a good idea either. The flash in your smartphone isn’t great, and will likely cast a yellow light or shadows over your product. It’s not flattering.

6. Use online editing tools

Once you’ve taken your shots, turn to a photo-editing app or tool to crop, straighten, or enhance your photos with filters.

Pixlr Editor, GIMP and Adobe Photoshop Express are all great options. They’re free and easy to use for first timer editors.

Now that we’ve covered smartphone-specific tips, here are three additional tips to transform ordinary pictures into standout shots:

7. Use a creative but simple background

When you’re snapping a photo, the background matters. Suppose you want to take a picture of a model wearing a t-shirt that your company embroidered. The model is the focal point, but you want to select a nice background too. Select a painted wall for the model to stand in front of, or go outside and take the shot. Check out this example from online retailer ModCloth.

Background ideas:

  • Go outdoors and find a clear, colorful, or bright background like the side of a brick building
  • Place products on wooden tables, floors, or cutting boards
  • Hang a piece of ironed fabric on a wall to use as a backdrop
  • Find a colored wall to shoot in front of
  • Use stone, tiles, or rock walls as a background 

8. Try adding props

Adding a prop to your picture can spice it up. Of course, the prop should make sense. Think about how a customer uses your product to come up with prop ideas. Let’s say you sell used books. Your customers probably like to read in a comfy chair in their living room, so why not shoot a book in a chair with a blanked draped over it? These props add to the picture. A picture like this is bound to draw more attention than a snapshot of a book on a tile floor.

9. Take a variety of shots

Practice makes perfect, and variety helps. If you take two or three shots of the same product in a different setting, you’re bound to get a slew of great pics. Eventually, you’ll have a stockpile of product shots that you can rely on.

With these tips, no one will know that your photos were snapped with your phone. Do you use your smartphone to take marketing photos? Do you have any tips to share? If so, feel free to offer tips in the comments section below.

Send emails with top-notch smartphone photos by using VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 email contacts.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 9 Tips for Taking Top-Notch Smartphone Photos appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Export Your Email Contacts from Constant Contact

Fri, 02/13/2015 - 06:00

Your email addresses and contacts are the lifeblood of your email marketing campaigns. However, if you decide to switch email service providers, how do you keep those contacts intact and transfer them safely out of the old and into the new? In this short video, Jill Bastian, our Community Education & Training Manager, shows you how to easily export your email contacts out of Constant Contact and into your new VerticalResponse account. Take a look:

Learn more about switching from Constant Contact to VerticalRresponse here

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post How to Export Your Email Contacts from Constant Contact appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Tips to Creating a Sense of Urgency in Your Writing and Emails

Thu, 02/12/2015 - 06:00

When it comes to making a decision, do you ever hesitate? Of course you do, everyone does! Even when it comes to making decisions about things we enjoy, such as where to eat, what to buy, or what event to attend, we debate and delay the decision making process.

So how do you get people to take action quickly with your own business? You need to eliminate any potential procrastinating ways. How? By creating a sense of urgency in your writing.

Whether you’re writing an irresistible email subject line, drafting up a promo, creating an email invitation, or writing a social post, here are five ways to grab the attention of your audience, and ignite them into action. 

1. Set a Deadline
Nothing conveys a sense of urgency quite like a deadline. Reinforce the deadline in your email subject line or headline, the body copy and in the call-to-action. Use words such as “ends tomorrow,” “good until 3/3/15,” or “offer expires Thursday.”

2. Use Time-Sensitive Language
Use time-sensitive phrasing and wording such as, “time is running out,” “last chance,”or “only one day left,” especially in tandem with a deadline. Here’s an example: “Last chance! This offer expires tomorrow at noon PST. Don’t miss out.”

If you don’t want to use a hard deadline or expiration date, you can still use time-sensitive language in a general way, e.g. “limited-time offer.” You can also employ a countdown clock in your emails and across social media channels to reinforce the sense of urgency. Sending a last reminder in the final hours of an offer can also be effective. 

3. Create Demand with Scarcity
An alternative way to communicate urgency to your readers without relying on deadlines is to emphasize or create a sense of scarcity, e.g. “Get it before it’s gone,” “only 5 spots left,” or “While supplies last.”

Whether you’re selling tickets to a fundraiser, or new merchandise, reminding your audience that you only have a finite and rapidly dwindling supply of something can help push those fence-sitters over the edge. Also be honest about the limited supply of your product or service as well. If people rush to buy a “flying off the shelves” ticket only to see there are plenty more a week later, you’ll have angry customers on your hands.

4. Keep Your Writing Brief
Once you entice readers, don’t overwhelm them with a mountain of text, because the average reader doesn’t have the attention for it. Instead, keep the body of your message brief so readers focus on your headline, key points and call-to-action. Need some help in the brevity department? Check out the very cool and free Hemingway App.

5. Use a Clear, Direct Call-to-Action
It doesn’t matter how well written your email, blog or social post is if your readers don’t know what you want them to do. Make it obvious with a direct and easy to understand CTA, or call-to-action. Whether you want them to make a phone call or click-through to your website, make your CTA a highly visible link or button with action-oriented wording. You can use the VerticalResponse Button Builder to create your own call-to-action button for free. 

Did we miss any tips? Share yours in the comments section below.

Send emails with a sense of urgency using VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 email contacts.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 5 Tips to Creating a Sense of Urgency in Your Writing and Emails appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

3 Free Content Curation Tools That’ll Enhance Your Social Posts

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 06:00

Social media is an important part of your small business marketing plan. Coming up with relevant and interesting content to post on a regular basis (that isn’t just about your biz) requires a little extra time.

At this point, you might be thinking that you don’t have time to sit around, browse the web, find great content and then post it to your social media accounts. Thankfully, there are free and low cost tools out there designed for busy small businesses like you. 

You can use curation tools. These social media tools find or suggest content that your audience will like and make it easy for you to share it. Here’s a list of three to check out:

1. Swayy

Swayy is focused entirely on social media curation. You tell it what topics you’re interested in and it’ll generate a list of related content. It also looks at your posts, your audience’s interests and their engagement with your business to add to the list.

The content is presented in a visual way, making it easy to scroll through and find interesting items to share. Here’s what a curated list of content looks like:

If you what to share something, you can do so immediately or schedule it to appear at a later date. Swayy will analyze how well it did with your audience and refine the content search for the next time around. You can also view your analytics reports in real-time.

The free version gives you one dashboard. If you want to add to it, plans start at $9 a month.

2. Zite

Similar to Swayy, Zite gives you a list of content that matches your interests. As you look through the content, you can “like it” and the site will suggest similar content. As your list of liked content grows, the site hones in on your taste and gives you specifically tailored content to check out.

It has a clean layout, mimicking that of a newspaper or magazine. Here’s an example of what you’ll see:

When you find a must-share article, you can post it directly to your site or social networks.

Added bonus: It’s free.

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a popular social media tool. Many small business owners use it to manage multiple social sites, but it suggests content too. There’s a “suggested content” section where you can select topics of interest and get a list of popular posts that fit in that category.

If you see something you like, you can post it to your account with a few easy clicks. Here’s what it looks like: 

As you can see, the content is set up in a list format, which is a different look than other tools.

As mentioned, Hootsuite is not just a curation tool. It’s a social media management tool as well, so you can access several social sites all from one dashboard, which is helpful for Aly Silverio, founder of independent clothing line Jawbreaking.

“It’s awesome being able to line up our tweets and not have to worry about constantly being on our phones to post tweets,” she says.

You get a double feature with this tool: curation and management.

There is a free version, with limited features. Paid plans start at $9.99 a month.

How to get started

Before you dive into any of these platforms, figure out what specific goals you want to achieve. Are you hoping to drive more visitors to your website? Would you like to find relevant content to share with your audience? Are you curious about whether or not your audience enjoys the content you’re sharing?

Once you know what you’d like to achieve, try out the free versions of the platforms and select one that fits your needs. 

Which social media curation tools are your favorites? Let us know in the comments section below.

Get more helpful content tips by subscribing to our weekly email newsletter, or checking our more content on our blog here

Kylie Jane Wakefield is a freelance writer and content creator in Los Angeles. She’s written for NewsCred, CMO.com, Forbes, Tablet Magazine, and The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 3 Free Content Curation Tools That’ll Enhance Your Social Posts appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

3 Emails You Should Be Sending But Aren’t

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 06:00

When it comes to email marketing, many small business owners rely on only a few emails to try to accomplish goals. While newsletters, event emails and offers are your email bread and butter, it’s important to have a variety of email types in the mix.

To keep you from getting in a routine of sending the same thing over and over, we’ve put together a list of less common email types that you can add to your email marketing plan. Give one of these emails a try to spice up your content and keep subscribers coming back again and again.

1. New content email

When you write a new blog post, create a must-see infographic, or post a new video on your website, you should share it in an email.

It would be amazing if your target audience checked your website or blog on a daily basis, but that’s probably unrealistic. Your new post might go unnoticed, unless you tell people it exists. That’s where email comes in. Send an email that offers a brief summary of what’s new and share a link.

If your business is creating and sending a lot of content each week, each email could promote a few pieces of content. You want to encourage more website traffic, but you don’t want to overwhelm inboxes in the process.

Here’s an example of an email that entices readers to check out a new article: 

What we like about this email:

  • It’s short. You don’t have to write a long description of the content. It’s okay to keep it short. A few sentences is fine.
  • A creative image. This article, which talks about learning from failure, isn’t an easy piece of content to find an image for. However, the author thought outside of the box and found a picture that fits.
  • Clear call to action. The reader should click on the red text link. The obvious call to action is an important component in this email. They could have also used a call to action button to make it even more obvious. You can create on using our free Button Builder

2. Customer appreciation email

It’s common to send a newsletter that updates your clients about recent news, or emails that encourage sales, but sometimes it’s a good idea to just say thanks. Everyone appreciates a thank you, which is why you should take the time to express it.

Whether your non-profit just reached a campaign goal, or your business just hit a milestone anniversary, send an email thanking your donors or customers for being part of that success.

Here’s an example of a customer appreciation email from a non-profit

What we like about this email:

  • Conversational tone. The text is inviting and talks to real people.
  • A way to engage. In this email, the reader can make another donation and continue to engage with the non-profit. (Businesses can include a link back to their website.)

You might also consider hosting a customer appreciation event. Retailers could host a customer appreciation sale with a discount offered to loyal customers. Service-based businesses can offer a discount via email for a popular service. Non-profits could host a thank you breakfast for key donors. Of course, you can invite guests via email.

3. Current event email

Consider creating an email that has a connection to a current event or trend. For example, you could send an email that has a holiday theme or is tied to another current event. 

Here’s a quick list of reoccurring events that you can focus an email on:

  • Regular holidays
  • Sporting events (just abide by any usage rights)
  • Weather changes
  • Changing seasons
  • Election time
  • Back to School
  • Local events, community celebrations
  • Obscure holidays (Margarita Day, Bring Your Dog to Work Day, etc.)

Of course, timing is key. In most cases, you can plan ahead. Mark your calendar with email reminders to ensure you send an email out before St. Patrick’s Day or the Back to School season.

Consider offering some kind of promotion or deal that’s connected to the event. For example, a pizza shop can offer 20 percent off for orders placed during the Pennant Race. A heating repair company can offer a discounted maintenance check on the first official day of winter.

When the Polar Vortex swept through the country last winter, a car rental business in St. Croix sent out an email encouraging winter bound residents to take a vacation.

“The rough weather in the Northeast gave this client a big boost,” says Perry Sheraw, managing director of Sugarmill Media, who helped the company compose the email. Here’s a look at what recipients got in their inbox: 

What we like about this email:

  • Humor. The connection between the snowstorm and mixed drinks is comical.
  • Great image. The image of a beach is a great lure for people who are tired of shoveling snow.
  • Creativity. The company took a current event and got creative with it, using it as a clever marketing tool.

Are there other emails that you can think of that are overlooked? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Send your emails for free with VerticalResponse. 

© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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