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The Ultimate Romantic Getaway…and How It Generated Over 11,600 Email Addresses in Less Than 30 Days for One Small Business

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 06:01

The title of this post sounds like the makings of a heroic email marketing love story. Oooh! Find out what happens when Social Media meets the Luck of the Draw — all for the chance to spend three nights at a resort tucked away in the rolling hills of Illinois!

For Harpole’s Heartland Lodge, this was indeed the scene of a successful match when they launched Social Sweepstakes on Facebook earlier this year.

Sweepstakes are attractive to people because they don’t have to do much for a chance to win something awesome. There’s no skill or purchase required and it’s the lowest barrier to entry, which is why running this type of social media contest can be a great way to engage your audience on Facebook and grow your email list.

With 48 percent of Facebook users following a brand because of a sweepstakes or promotion, bet you’re curious as to how you’d go about structuring one? Generally it works something like this:

1. Decide on a prize (or prizes) of great value
2. Pick the opening and closing dates for when you’ll receive entries, as well as the drawing date
3. Promote the contest, prize, and rules
4. Receive oodles of entry forms with contact information (i.e. email addresses)
5. Randomly select and announce prize winner

Now, hold up! Before you go galloping off into the sunset with your fantasy of thousands of email addresses, just know there are lots of rules around sweepstakes. I know, wah wah, rules, but they’re for everyone’s protection. This is why it’s worth considering having a company like Deluxe, run the sweepstakes for you. You get a team of social experts helping you make the right decisions, navigate all the legal stuff, and run and promote the contest.

So, what were the results of Heartland’s Social Sweepstakes? In less than 30 days, for a chance to win “The Ultimate Romantic Getaway”, the Facebook campaign generated:

• 2,290,267 people reached
• 11,678 emails collected/contest entries
• 94,897 promotion views
• 22,621 total engagements on Facebook
• 304% increase in website traffic during the promotion
• $7000 in immediate sales

And the rest, as they say, was history.

© 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 Romantic Getaway…and How It Generated Over 11,600 Email Addresses in Less Than 30 Days for One Small Business appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

6 Tips to Get a Logo Design That Gets Customers Talking

Fri, 10/02/2015 - 09:51

Is your business in need of a logo? Whether you’re planning to give it a refresh or creating a new one from scratch, a logo that catches the attention of your customers is essential for building brand presence. 

 Wondering how you’ll begin? Here are six steps to follow to get you started: 

1. Define your brand visually

When you think of your brand, what do you imagine? Take out a piece of paper and make notes. Write down the words and images that you believe represent your brand. It might also be useful to ask other employees or a close friend for their help with this exercise as they’ll likely see the brand differently than you.

Once you’ve created personas for your brand, you’ll be able to think about the kind of logo that would fit the company and attract those types of customers. 

2. Research, don’t copy

During the process of creating your logo, you’ll probably study a ton of them online for inspiration. You should look at logos that you like and save them on your laptop. Make a list of things you like about these logos. Do you like the font? The use of white space? Pick out a few defining characteristics that are appealing to you.

Next, look at logos from other businesses in your industry. It’s important to know what your competitors offer so you can stand out.

However, while you can draw inspiration from others, it’s important to remember that your logo is your own. It should be unique. You should certainly do research before you create a logo, but you don’t want to be a copycat. You are your own brand

3. Colors matter

What color should your logo be? Just because your favorite color is green, this does not mean it’s the best choice for your logo. Colors have meaning. There’s an entire psychology behind the use of colors and the emotions they evoke for shoppers.

When you’re thinking about your logo’s color scheme, consider the message each color sends:

Red: bold, loud, sexy, edgy
Orange: creative, cheery, fun, youthful
Yellow: cheery, sunny, optimism
Green: growth, organic, instructional, environmental, health
Blue: professional, calming, trustworthy, dependable
Purple: wise, blissful, spiritual
Black: powerful, strong, masculine
White: pure, innocent, clean, simple, crisp
Pink: flirty, youthful
Brown: rural, historic
Grey: neutral, calm

4. Pick the right font

In the same way that colors send a message, so do fonts. If you plan to include your business name in your logo, which most companies choose to do, you’ll want to pick the right font. Here’s a quick breakdown of fonts and their implied meaning. For more information, check out this infographic.

Script fonts: elegant, affectionate, creative
Serif fonts: traditional, reliable
Sans serif: stability, clean
Modern: strong, stylish
Display: friendly, unique

See a font online that you like? Use an online tool like WhatTheFont to identify it. Just upload an image and you’ll find out the fonts that are used. Plus, you’ll see a list of fonts that are similar to it.

When it comes to fonts, there are more to choose from than what Microsoft Word offers. Don’t be fooled into thinking you have to pick a common font like Times New Roman. You can even download new fonts right to your laptop. Check out 1001 Free Fonts to find a typography you like.

5. Keep it simple

A logo should be clean, crisp and not leave your customers puzzled about what it means. Don’t use more than two fonts or two colors. Keep the imagery basic. That’s not to say you can’t be creative, but if you want to appeal to customers, a logo can’t be overwhelming. You aren’t creating a work of art for a gallery; you’re creating an easy-to-identify logo.

6. Use a professional to design your logo

Once you have some solid direction, take your ideas to a professional. While there are numerous crowdsourcing options, be cautious of this route. The number of samples and pricing may be enticing, but these sites may not offer access to expert designers with the years of branding experience necessary to create a logo that’s right for you. Deluxe offers top-of-game in-house designers and economical logo packages starting at $245. They’ve designed for more than 75,000 clients worldwide. You can check out some samples here.

Conclusion:  The most important part of deciding on a logo is to make sure that you feel it represents what you want to convey about your brand to customers. Remember, there will be many times when your logo will be the voice of your business before people even consider your products – make it work in your favor. 

© 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 6 Tips to Get a Logo Design That Gets Customers Talking appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Calls to Action: 50 that Sell and 10 that Repel

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:28

When a customer opens your email, they usually skim it for relevant information. Subscribers typically read the first line, check out the picture and glance at your call to action. That’s why creating a compelling call to action (CTA) is so important. It’s one of the few items within your email that can draw attention and encourage the reader to act.

What makes one call to action better than another? We’re glad you asked. To help distinguish between good and bad calls to action, we’ve created a list of CTAs that sell, and a list that repels. At the end of each list, we explain why they work, or don’t work.

50 calls to action that sell

We scoured inboxes and created a list of 50 CTAs that sell, and broke them up by category.

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Why these calls to action sell

  • Descriptive and informative

All of the calls to action are descriptive and provide enough information for subscribers to act. You don’t even need to read the entire email to understand its purpose.

  • Urgent language

Calls to action should encourage an instant reaction. All of the CTAs above use urgent language to do just that. Words like “now,” “today” and “limited time offer” show a need to act immediately.

  • Creative

There are a few traditional calls to action like “shop now” and “read this post,” but the list also has quite a few original ideas too. For example, “Love to share? Please do” isn’t a call to action that you see every day. It’s okay to think out-of-the-box and be creative when you write a call to action. 

10 calls to action that repel

Now for the not-so-great calls to action. Here’s a list of 10 CTAs that could repel your customers.

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Why these calls to action repel

  • Lack of information

Most of the calls to action on this list don’t provide any real information. For example, what does the call to action “continue” mean? Is it encouraging a customer to continue to a website? Is a customer supposed to continue shopping? Or should a subscriber continue on to a brand’s Facebook page? There just isn’t enough information to inspire a customer to act.

  • Not focusing on the customer

The call to action “Get our custom report” focuses on the business, not the customer. A call to action should focus on the customer. In this case, it’s better for the call to action to explain how the report helps a customer. For example, “Download now to increase your traffic” is a better call to action because it defines the value of the report to the customer.

  • Bad practices

Some of the calls to action are just bad habits. You don’t need to tell customers to “click here” anymore; everyone understands the concept of clicking on a link.

You want customers to act quickly so why would you ever use a call to action that says “get it later?”

You don’t need to write out your entire website address. Instead, just create a call to action that says, “Learn more on our website.” 

Conclusion:  Remember, a call to action is one of the most vital components of your email. Take some time to create one that’s descriptive, creative and encourages customers to act fast.

 To have more tips and tools delivered to your inbox every Monday, sign up for the VR Buzz newsletter.

© 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 Calls to Action: 50 that Sell and 10 that Repel appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

No Time to Maintain a Business Blog? Use LinkedIn Instead

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 06:00

Creating and maintaining a blog is time-consuming, which is why many business owners give up on it. However, sharing content with your audience can attract and support customers.

If you don’t want to take the time to set up and contribute to a full-fledged blog, consider writing a few posts each month on your LinkedIn page. LinkedIn has a blog-like publishing feature that allows you to post content that is attached to your profile.

With 300 million users on the platform, you have access to a captive audience. Plus, a report from Econsultancy shows LinkedIn is responsible for referring 64 percent of traffic from social sites to business sites. That’s more referral traffic than Facebook and Twitter combined.

Ready to start blogging on LinkedIn? Here’s what you need to know:

How to post

Look for the “Publish a post” button at the top of your homepage. This takes you to the publishing tool. Write your long-form post, adding hyperlinks, images or video. Click the “Publish” button at the top right. Then confirm that you’re ready to publish your post by clicking either “Yes, publish it” or “No, not yet.”

What to post

Like other social media platforms, your LinkedIn page lets you publish virtually every form of content: articles, photos, quotes, company news, videos and even SlideShare presentations.

You’ll want to include a mix of useful, entertaining and promotional information. LinkedIn recommends that for every post promoting your company you create or share four that focus on industry trends or information that positions you as an expert in your field.

As for length, aim for a minimum of 300 words. If you can naturally add a link to a partner or relevant expert on LinkedIn, do so. While it can be tempting to always write short posts, more in-depth pieces are more likely to be featured on LinkedIn Pulse, a content hub that recommends articles to users.

Be sure to tag your post to increase its chances of being found. Current tags include industries like retail, skills like web development and fields like project management. You can choose up to three tags per post, but you can’t create your own.

When to post

According to LinkedIn, posting 20 times per month reaches a minimum of 60 percent of your audience, but even writing a few posts a month is beneficial.

In addition to frequency, it’s important to know the best days and times to post to maximize your reach. According to LinkedIn, most members use the platform during business hours. If you write something at night and on Saturday morning, wait to post it on the next business day.

Promoting your posts

Be sure to create a call to action at the end of each post. Encourage your followers to “like” your post, comment and share it. Add a question at the end to encourage people to comment, or add a sentence that asks readers to like your post.

Share your post on other social media sites. You can also include in an email campaign or newsletter by writing a summary paragraph and link back to LinkedIn. If you’re in LinkedIn groups and your post is relevant, share it with the group.

Responding to comments

Comments are flattering because they mean someone took the time to read your post. Keep the conversation going to build trust, establish your role as an expert, gather additional feedback and strengthen brand loyalty.

Like other sites, you can flag offensive comments made on your posts.

Analyzing your reach

Curious which topics garnered the most reads? Check your posts’ analytics by clicking on “View stats” next to “Edit post” underneath the cover image. You can see statistics like number of views, shares, and demographics.

You can use this information to tweak your content to improve traffic. See which days get the most views and which topics spark conversation. Use your demographics to gear content to that crowd.

LinkedIn is an excellent marketing tool that has the power to position your company as an authoritative figure and increase your customer base. Try creating a handful of posts each month and see what kind of results you get. 

Learn more by checking out, “What LinkedIn’s New Blogging Tool Means for Your Business.”


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


© 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 No Time to Maintain a Business Blog? Use LinkedIn Instead appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Holiday Fun Facts to Share on Social 2015 Edition

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 08:02

In our continued effort to provide “snackable” tidbits of information to share with your audience via social media, we’ve collected another 10 interesting holiday fun facts for you to share. You may remember our list from 2014 as it was one of our most popular posts from last year’s holiday season.

This year we’ve dived back in and found some facts that will bring a smile to your face while others will leave you scratching your head. Simply click the Tweet button next to the fact to post it on Twitter or copy and share on your other social networks.

1. In 2014, 40% of holiday shopping occurred online. (Google

2. In 2015, five million Americans finished their holiday shopping before the end of summer. (

3. $2.4 Billion was spent online during Black Friday in 2014. (Adobe

4. Americans purchase nearly 600 million pounds of candy each year for Halloween. (visually

5. People spent an average of $126.68 on holiday gifts for themselves in 2014. (National Retail Federation

6. More than 50 million people watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on TV. (Macy’s

7. Americans spent an estimated $6.6 Billion on food for 4th of July in 2015. (National Retail Federation)  

8. 53% of those that shopped online in 2014 used smartphones or tablets, up from 41% in 2013. (Google

9. More than 4 in 10 consumers will do the majority of shopping in December or later. (Deloitte). 

10. There are approximately 25-30 million Real Christmas Trees sold in the U.S. every year. (NCTA

So now you can dazzle your Twitter followers with your vast knowledge of the holidays. If you’re interested in learning more about holiday marketing for your business, hop on over to our ‘Everything Holiday’ website and get in front of the holiday rush.

© 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 Holiday Fun Facts to Share on Social 2015 Edition appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Capitalize on Video: Facebook’s New Emphasis

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 06:00

Are you getting your video fix on Facebook? More people are now turning to the social media channel to watch videos. According to the social media giant, there are one billion video views a day, with 65 percent of viewers watching on mobile devices. 

Facebook is responding by putting a greater emphasis on videos. It isn’t just about likes and comments anymore. Facebook just announced that it will “monitor more video interactions.” In other words, Facebook plans to track whether or not viewers turn up the volume, make the video full screen or choose to watch a video in high definition. It also measures how long someone watches a video.

All of these improvements coincide with a slow progression of changes that Facebook has implemented over the past two years. In 2013, Facebook introduced an auto-play feature that triggers videos to play as soon as they’re scrolled up to the main screen. Back in September, Facebook started showing the number of video views next to its signature likes and comments. Now, Facebook even shares recommended videos that are similar to ones you choose to watch.

What does this new emphasis on video mean for your small business? Here’s what you should be doing to capitalize on the all-important video audience:

1. Produce simple videos

If your small business has stayed away from video creation, now might be the time to look into it. You don’t have to storyboard a full movie or hire a production crew to create shareable videos.

Here are a few hassle-free ways to create original videos:

  • Use animation apps to create fun videos. Try GoAnimate or Wideo. Both have premade templates and user-friendly editors so you can create an animation from scratch.
  • Use tools to create a stop-motion video. Try Stop Motion Recorder to create a cool video like this.
  • Create a flashy text-based video. Use Nawmaul to create animated text. You can design sets and add your own voiceover too.
  • Explain what your business does through pictures. Use WeVideo to turn pictures of your product into a slideshow with text and music. Here’s an example

2. Upload your videos directly to Facebook

After you create a video, upload it directly to Facebook. Sharing a link to it won’t work; you have to upload the video right to your page. Doing so will allow Facebook to measure your audience and its interests.

3. Measure and interpret your video metrics

As Facebook adds video to its list of priorities, it has also created a metrics sections so you can track your success. With this new dashboard component, you’ll see the number of views, how long people watched your video and track audience retention. Here’s a snapshot of what it looks like:

Here are a few ways to use the metrics to create must-watch videos:

  • Video Duration. For your first video, create a video that’s under a minute and see how it does. Evaluate how long people watch the video and use that information to shorten or lengthen your next video.
  • Audience Retention. You’ll see a chart in your video metrics section that shows the level of interest viewers had at certain points of your video. If you see a spike in a certain topic, consider creating more videos that focus specifically on that subject.
  • Page Insights View. On the Page Insights View, you can see how many people clicked on a call to action. Make sure the call to action is easy to see and available to click for at least 10 seconds.  Consider moving the call to action closer to the beginning of the video to improve your stats.

4. Learn from the pros

Not sure what kind of video to create? Take a cue from the pros. According to recent data, a UK company, LAD Bible, which posts funny, guy-oriented videos, leads the pack in video views with 1.6 billion views each month. A sports-based page, Sport Bible, lands 921 million monthly views. Both of these top-ranking sites use humor to attract viewers. Notice the video quality isn’t top-notch either. It’s more about the content than the production value. Take a look at some of their videos to find inspiration for your business.

Using these four tips, you’ll be able to attract more fans, improve engagement and increase brand awareness with Facebook videos. Remember, you don’t need a degree in video production to make a must-watch video.

For more great tips delivered to your inbox every Monday, subscribe to the VR Buzz newsletter.

© 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 Capitalize on Video: Facebook’s New Emphasis appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Add Some Zoom to Your Productivity with SyncApps by Cazoomi

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 06:00

Being an effective online marketer in 2015 means using numerous applications to get the word out. With so many tools available to help you reach your audience, one of the biggest challenges is syncing data between multiple platforms. SyncApps by Cazoomi solves this problem by keeping your campaigns, contacts, lists, and analytics synced.

What is SyncApps?

SyncApps is an integration framework created to unite your company’s data. The framework makes it possible to sync your data across hundreds of apps in real-time. Once you’re connected, you benefit from SyncApps two-way sync which pushes and pulls data into your Cloud, On-Premise or Plug-in applications. Imagine your Financials, Marketing, eCommerce, Support and other mission critical tools talking to each other and updating in real time. Save yourself from the manual entry of new data into multiple systems and ensure your data is accurate throughout. 

How Does it Work?

Getting started with SyncApps is a snap. Cazoomi offers a risk-free 14-day trial so you can test out your syncs before committing to a paid service tier.

1. Create a free account

All you need to do is create a free account with an email and password.

2. Select the apps

Choose which apps you’d like to sync. For instance, when syncing VerticalResponse data with another app, you enter your VR credentials so SyncApps can access this data. Then select the app to sync with.

3. Identify the fields

Decide which data you’d like to pass between the two apps. For example, push your VerticalResponse contacts, lists, and campaign data into another system like Netsuite or ZohoCRM. You can use basic fields such as email address, contact name, address, or company name. You can also create custom fields specific to your internal system or application.

4. Schedule your sync

Once you’ve set up your syncs, schedule the sync time (hours of the day) or sync interval (based on minutes between syncs). This is a benefit to your productivity since you won’t need to worry about syncing manually, although this is an option as well.

True Two-Way Sync

A highlight of Cazoomi’s SyncApps is the true bi-directional sync. This is a significant differentiation, as it’s often necessary to not only sync data from one platform to another, but to have the data sync in reverse. This keeps both platforms up-to-date. Cazoomi SyncApps also offers version merging, version conflict resolution, and triggers for updated data. These features work to inform you should a sync field not match up correctly, or data fails to sync between platforms.

Check out Cazoomi SyncApps 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 Add Some Zoom to Your Productivity with SyncApps by Cazoomi appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

6 Free SEO Tools to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings

Fri, 09/18/2015 - 06:00

Have you ever wondered how to get your website to come up in search results? Of course you have. Every small business wants to be found online, but it isn’t always an easy task.

Website traffic doesn’t follow the Field of Dreams mantra, ‘If you build it, they will come.’ You can create a killer website, but if you aren’t using search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, your online bleachers will remain empty.

What’s SEO? It’s a way to improve your website’s visibility, so it appears in search results. By making specific changes to your website you can organically increase traffic and please the Google Gods so your site is listed when people use certain keywords.

To help boost your rankings without calling in a webmaster, here are six free SEO tools for the time-strapped business owner:

1. Google Trends

Google Trends is a go-to keyword tool. You can see how search queries change over time when people search for your keyword and compare different words or phrases to see which is best.

Let’s say you run a hardware store and you want to ramp up sales of shovels this winter. When people search for a shovel online, do they search for winter shovel or snow shovel? Compare the two using Google Trends. Here’s what you’ll see:

According to the chart, people search for snow shovel more frequently than winter shovel. The chart also shows you when people search for the term. In this case, it’s no surprise that the winter months are when this term is most popular.

You can also take a look at a regional breakdown that shows you where the search terms are most popular.

With this knowledge, you can use the phrase ‘show shovel’ on your website and blog posts to increase traffic.


This tool shows you how a search engine sees your site. It strips your site down to a base level, without any fancy fonts, headers or images, and displays relevant SEO information. By looking at your site this way, you can see what needs improvement.

All you have to do is enter your URL into the site, no additional downloads necessary. 

3. Screaming Frog

What SEO problems does your website face? Aren’t sure? Turn to Screaming Frog. This free tool crawls your site looking for SEO roadblocks and provides a report of problem areas.

The tool looks for broken links, missing metadata, oversized files and pictures, duplicate pages and internal links, just to name a few. Think of it as an SEO audit. You can use the results to improve your site and SEO. 

4. GTmetrix

How fast does your website load? Do you have a page or two on your site that takes too long to come up? Sluggish page speed can hinder SEO. Site speed does play a role in search engine rankings, so you’ll want to double check the speed of your site with GTmetrix.

Just enter your URL into the site and you’ll get a page speed score and a list of ways to improve it. For example, it might suggest resizing images to improve load times.

5. Rank Checker

Where does your website land in search engine results? Find out with Rank Checker. This tool will show you where your site shows up and give you tips to improve it.

You can install a button on your toolbar so you have easy access to this information whenever you’d like. It will take time to move your site up the ranks, but with this tool you can keep an eye on where you stand.

6. Responsive Design Checker

How does your site look on a smartphone? Search engines give preferential treatment to websites that look great on all devices.

To make sure your website looks sharp on every device, use a responsive website design. This design adapts to every device, so you don’t need to create multiple sites.

Not sure if you have a responsive design? Put your website into the Responsive Design Checker to find out. If you don’t have a responsive design, consider updating your site or getting help from designers at Deluxe.

Want to learn more about search engine optimization? Check out this video that focuses on SEO Tips for 2015.

© 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 6 Free SEO Tools to Boost Your Search Engine Rankings appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Got 5 Minutes? Expand Your Social Media Presence With These Quick Tips

Wed, 09/16/2015 - 06:00

Finding time to maintain your social media presence can be difficult, but expanding it? That seems even harder.

Not to worry. With a little help, you can build your social media presence while juggling other responsibilities. We’ve compiled a list of five things you can do whenever you have an extra five minutes that can help you build a social following.

1) Comment on one LinkedIn group post

LinkedIn groups are a great way to connect with other professionals in your field, or in fields related to yours. Whether you want to stay on top of current trends in your niche, network with businesses who might want to buy your products and services or establish yourself as an expert in your field, groups can help.

Posting on groups can drive traffic to your profile and website. Posts you make to a group will also show up on your profile’s feed. Commenting has the same benefits.

If you have a bit of extra time once a week, browse through your group feed and find a post you can give a thoughtful, interesting response to and post it. Otherwise, if you have an article or blog post that others in a group might benefit from, post that.

If you haven’t joined any groups yet, take the time to join a couple of groups related to your business or desired customer base.

2) Reach out to three people on Twitter

Seventy-four percent of Twitter users follow small businesses to get product updates. Plus, the stats also show that people who follow brands on Twitter are 47 percent more likely to visit their website, and they’re 72 percent more likely to buy from brands they follow. In other words, Twitter can be an extraordinary marketing tool if you engage with people.

While you should maintain steady engagement with current followers, reaching out to new people is vital. Five minutes is a good amount of time to connect with people who might be interested in what you’re selling.

You could do this in a number of ways.

  • Use Twitter’s search to find and follow a few people with interests and location relevant to your business. This alerts them to your presence and encourages them to follow you back.
  • Find tweets with content relevant to your business and respond to them. This builds rapport and helps others feel appreciated.
  • Search for questions relevant to your business and answer them.

Check out our article “Building Twitter Engagement is as Easy as 1-2-3.”

3) Check out the current trending topics on Pinterest Analytics

Creating genuinely interesting posts about topics people are talking about is a great way to expand your social media presence. Using trending topics increases the likelihood that your post will be found by people who don’t yet follow you.

Pins related to trending topics see an average 94 percent increase in click-through. That’s right, by creating a pin relating to a trending topic, you can almost double the amount of people who visit your website from it.

Take five minutes to visit Pinterest Analytics to check out trending topics, brainstorm a few ways to connect those topics back to your brand and pin the result.

You could, of course, do this on any social network.

4) Take a picture (or three)

Pictures aren’t only viable on networks like Pinterest and Instagram. They’re increasingly important on Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn. Using your own photos is cheaper and more personal than buying stock photos, and with smartphones and apps, it’s less expensive and easier than ever.

Instead of taking a picture every time you want to post to social media, consider streamlining the process by creating a library of images to use socially. Anytime you have an extra five minutes, snap a few business-related pictures to add to the library. You can even put them through a filtering program like Inkscape or Gimp to make them more visually stunning.

Of course, if you have a time-sensitive image that you’d like to post right away, go for it.

For some image ideas, check out our post, “12 Images you Should Share on Social Media.”

5) Follow one of your industry’s top influencers

On any social network, following top influencers can help you grow your own following, while staying up-to-date with important trends. You can reply to them, share their posts and eventually they’ll share your posts too.

Take five minutes to use a tool like Topsy to find top influencers in your industry, or check out some possible influencers on LinkedIn. Follow these people and engage with them while posting high-quality content of your own.

Do something social whenever you have five minutes to spare and you may just be surprised at how fast your following grows.


Get more tips and how-tos delivered to your inbox every Monday by signing up for the VR Buzz newsletter. 

Sarah Tanksalvala is a freelance business, technology and lifestyle writer based in Evergreen, Colorado.

© 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 Got 5 Minutes? Expand Your Social Media Presence With These Quick Tips appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

The Complete Guide to Email Metrics – Part III

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 06:00

Use email metrics as a great diagnostic tool. These metrics provide a ‘look under the hood,’ so to speak. Just like a car, if something isn’t running right, you fix it. If you see a metric that’s off, or not where you want it to be, it’s time to break out the toolbox and make some repairs. 

To help you reach your goals, we’ve created a list of eight ways you can improve your email metrics.

Improve your open rates

1. Write a must-open subject line.

Your subject line should tell the recipient what the email is about in a clear and concise way. Your subject line should average around 50 characters or less, and use urgent language that convinces a recipient to open the email right away. Words like “today,” “one day only” and “act now” are great examples.

2. Make sure the ‘From label’ is legit

If you send emails that are from, they won’t get opened. Your emails should be from your business and contain the company name in the address. If a recipient sees an odd name in the ‘from label,’ they’ll likely ignore it.

Improve your click-through rates

3. Watch your layout

Email design is important. If your text and pictures are scattered all over the place, recipients will likely close the email. For help, turn to our guide that covers the dos and don’ts of email design.

4. Keep the message short

Quickly explain the purpose of the email. No one wants to read paragraph after paragraph of information. Your recipients don’t want long emails; so don’t waste your time creating a novel.

5. Create a call to action button

Try creating a call to action button in your email rather than a hyperlink. A button stands out and clearly shows the reader what the purpose of the email is. Use this button builder from VerticalResponse to create a button for your next email.

Improve your conversions

6. Make the checkout process seamless

If customers click on an emailed link to make a purchase, you’re halfway there. If a customer doesn’t follow through with the sale, your checkout process could be to blame.

How long does it take to check out? Is it easy to navigate? Customers want a fast process. If you want to improve your checkout process without bringing a website developer on board, try Shopify. This DIY tool will help you set up an e-commerce site that customers will love. (Plus, when a customer checks out through Shopify, his or her email address is automatically added to your contact list in VerticalResponse.)

7. Improve your forms

If your call to action is based on getting new leads, or having customers sign up for a service or consultation, make sure the process to sign up is simple. Long forms and tedious websites are deal breakers. Try Lander - it’s a tool that creates lead-generating pages that are hassle-free for the customer.

Improve metric management

8. Use a tool to centralize data 

Tired of tracking email, social and sales metrics in a dozen different platforms? Turn to Dasheroo. With this tool, you can see all of your metrics in one dashboard. It works with VerticalResponse, social sites and many sales tracking apps. Best of all, it’s free. Check out this video that explains how Dasheroo works.

Metrics are the key to optimizing your email marketing. Remember to make changes slowly so you know which change contributed to your success.

You can review the glossary of email metrics in part one and email benchmarks in part two.

© 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 Complete Guide to Email Metrics – Part II

Wed, 09/09/2015 - 05:24

As with any marketing effort, it’s important to have goals. Email marketing is no different.

The big question is, how do you know what goal is realistic? Setting a goal for an 80 percent open rate sounds great in theory, but when you learn the average open rates hover around 25 percent, you quickly realize that you’ve set the bar too high.

To help you strive for obtainable and realistic goals, we’ve created this list of email benchmarks that you can refer to. We’ll also highlight the most important metrics and explain the factors that contribute to it.

Email marketing campaign benchmarks 

Average open rate: 20-30%

Open rates vary and depend on several variables, including your industry and subject lines. Pharmaceutical businesses, for example, typically see open rates of about 25 percent. Similarly, emails focused in the area of Publishing usually hover around 21 percent.

To see where your industry lands, check out this breakdown of open rates produced by Epsilon.

Subject lines play a big role in open rates too. If you aren’t writing short, attention-grabbing subject lines, your open rates will dwindle. Check out 6 Tips for Creating Compelling Subject Lines.

Average click-through rate: 2-6%

Every email you send should have a call-to-action (CTA). Whether you want customers to make a purchase or register for an upcoming event, if the call to action is clicked on, it’s tabulated in your click-through rate. Now this doesn’t mean the recipient took any specific action, it simply just measures the number of people that clicked on the call to action. 

Click-through rates also vary by industry. You can refer to this chart from Epsilon to see a specific click-through rate for your business.

This is an important metric. If you have average or above-average click-through rates, that means you’re sending relevant messages that drive recipients to click on your links.

If your click-throughs are low, you should try sending a different kind of email to see if you can increase interest amongst your list. Take a look at ‘9 Emails that Every Business Should Send’ for inspiration.

Average conversion rate: 3-6%

When a customer opens an email, clicks on a link and takes action, you’ve hit the jackpot. This jackpot is also known as a conversion rate.

This is another crucial metric to watch. If your conversion rates are low, it’s time to figure out why customers aren’t following through.

Whatever your call to action is, it must be simple to complete. For example, if your call to action prompts recipients to make a purchase, make sure your checkout process is easy to navigate. If your call to action asks recipients to fill out a form, make sure the form only asks for the most vital information.

Unsubscribe rate: .05% or lower

Unsubscribe rates should only be a concern if your number is high. If you see a rate that’s higher than .05 percent, it’s time to rethink a few things.

One of the main reasons that people unsubscribe from emails is frequency of send. If you bombard your subscribers with too many messages, they’re likely to opt-out. Consider scaling back a bit.

Recipients also unsubscribe if the content they receive isn’t of interest. Consider sending out a survey that asks customers what they’d like to receive and tailor your content in that direction.

Learn more about email metrics in the third part of this guide, which focuses on tips to improve your metrics.

© 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 Complete Guide to Email Metrics – Part I

Tue, 09/08/2015 - 06:02

How are your customers, clients or donors responding to your emails? The answers are in your email metrics.

Sending and creating emails is only half of the job. To find out if your messages are reaching customers and increasing sales, you have to turn to email metrics.

With VerticalResponse, you get an easy-to-read report that tracks your success. You can see who opened your emails, what links were clicked and how often an email led to a sale or sign up.

While metrics are a vital component in email marketing, they can be a little tricky to understand. From bounce rates to conversions, the lingo alone can be tough to grasp. And in the time-strapped world of small businesses owners, which metrics matter? And how do you know what numbers are good?

We created a three-part guide to answer those very questions. We’ll define each metric in a glossary of email marketing terms, give you benchmarks to hit and provide tips to improve specific metrics.

For starters, let’s define what each metric means.

Glossary of email metrics

Open rate: The percentage of people who opened your email. This number will include people who opened your email more than once.

Unique open rate: The number of times your email was opened without duplicates. If a recipient opened your email, marked it as unread and went back and opened it again, it would only be counted once in this equation.

Bounce rate: The percentage of emails that were NOT delivered to a recipient’s inbox.

  •       Soft bounce rate: The percentage of emails that weren’t delivered to a recipient’s inbox because of problems like a full inbox or server problems.
  •       Hard bounce rate: The percentage of emails that weren’t delivered to a recipient’s inbox because of an invalid email address.

Delivery rate: The percentage of emails that made it to recipients’ inboxes after removing those that bounced.

Click-through rate: The number of people who opened your email and clicked on at least one of the links inside your email.

Conversion rate: The percentage of people who opened your email, clicked on a link and completed the desired action. The desired action could be filling out a form, making a purchase or following you on social media.

Forward or Sharing rate: The number of people who are sharing or sending your emails to friends. Think of it as a referral.

Marked as spam rate: The number of people who marked your email as spam. This means your emails will be rerouted to a recipient’s spam folder, rather than the main inbox.

Unsubscribe rate: How many people have unsubscribed, or decided to opt-out of your email list. By law, every email must have a way for recipients to opt-out.

List growth rate: This shows you how fast your email list is growing. It takes into account unsubscribes and bounces and looks at the number of contacts that are added to your list in a certain time period.

If you’re a VerticalResponse customer, your metrics will also show how your social channels fit into your marketing. For example, if you share an email on your Facebook page, we’ll show you how many people liked it, clicked on it and shared it.

Learn more about email metrics in the second part of this guide, which highlights the benchmarks you should aim for.


© 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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Market Segmentation 101 for Retail Businesses

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 08:47

One of the most valuable strategies for effective marketing is segmentation.

What is marketing segmentation?

Market segmentation is dividing your total market into smaller groups based on common characteristics. The end goal is to find a small group with the highest likelihood to buy your products or services. This group is your target market, which is the audience to whom you will be directing all of your marketing efforts.

Defining your target market allows you to communicate better with potential customers.

Why do we have to segment?

As customers differ, it’s not effective for one business to focus on everyone.  The more accurately you can focus on those who are most likely to buy your products or services, you’re less likely to waste resources and effort. Targeted marketing communication offers a greater scope to gain and retain customers, increase profits, and grow market share.

What are the most common market segments? 

Below are the four most commonly used market segments:

1. Demographic segmentation includes dividing groups by age, gender, religion, language, income, ethnicity and education.

2. Geographic segmentation divides the market based on location such as city, country, or region. You can also divide the market into urban, suburban and rural markets. Other geographic segments include climate and population size.

3. Psychographic segmentation includes interests, hobbies, lifestyles, values, and attitudes. Grouping by types of affinity categories will help you identify which groups are most probable to have an interest in your business. 

4. Behavioral segmentation divides market by purchasing behaviors. An example includes online retailers who personalize their website to visitors by recommending products based on prior purchases. Behavioral segmentation also includes benefits sought, the degree of loyalty and rate of use. Different messages may be appropriate for those who are more loyal to your product.

How do we split the market into segments?

The first step in segmentation is understanding what your business has to offer or the problem you are trying to solve. Then come up with a list of customer types who are most likely to have this problem and will benefit from your products or services. This will help you to identify the common characteristics of your potential market. 


It’s always important to gather data. If you are a new business, this may require help from a marketing firm to give you research data. Ask your network of friends and associates. If you are an existing business, you can send a survey via email to your most loyal customers to find common characteristics. All this will help you to better focus your efforts. 

© 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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Five Things to Consider Before Undergoing a Website Redesign

Wed, 09/02/2015 - 06:00

Chances are, you probably put a lot of time and effort into launching your website. At some point, after you’ve been up and running for a while, you’ll contemplate whether you’re in need of a redesign.  To help make this decision, we’ve put together five questions to ask yourself. Your answers will help you evaluate if an update to your website is necessary. These questions will also ensure you’re getting what you need out of out your site — like desired traffic, sales, repeat customers, newsletter subscribers, etc.

1.  Is your website responsive?  

Responsive means that your site will look great whether visitors are viewing it from a smartphone, tablet or desktop PC. Sixty-four percent of American adults own a smartphone, and 42% own a tablet (from an October 2014 Pew Internet Project research study).

This most likely means that you’ve got people that will visit your website on one of these devices. If your current website design is not mobile-friendly, your visitors will quickly get frustrated by trying to pinch, stretch or scroll their way through your PC-based website on their mobile phone. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, it’s time to start planning for a website redesign.



2. Are you getting enough sales or leads from your website?

One of the key indicators to let you know you need to redesign your site is if your traffic is declining.

Are fewer people visiting your site?  Or, are they getting to your homepage and bouncing–leaving the page almost immediately? These kinds of metrics can show you quantitatively that your website just isn’t working for you anymore. Here are some areas to explore if you are concerned about a high bounce rate:

  • Does your website’s design match the brand personality that you want to convey to customers? Customers should see a site that reflects your company’s image.
  • Is your main call-to-action obvious to your visitors? Measure the clicks over time to find out. 
  • Is it clear to your visitors what products or services you offer? Organize your site in a way that visitors can quickly discern who you are, what you offer, and how they can buy it. 

3.  How does your website look compared to your competitors?

 It’s always a good idea to check out the competition.  Review your direct competitors’ websites on a regular basis. Look at not only the design but also notice their voice and how they position their product or service. Avoid plagiarizing, but you are free to use any inspiration to update your website.  

Keep an eye on how they rank on search engines compared to your site. If you own a nail salon in Annapolis, Maryland, type in “nail salon Annapolis” into Google and see where you show up and how you compare to your direct competitors. If they are ranking higher, you need to look at doing a redesign that focuses on incorporating best SEO practices

4. Does it have all the bells and whistles you need?

Besides the actual design, a website can include lots of extras that make the day-to-day management of business easier. Here are a few examples of the types of tools or apps that can be added to a website to streamline business operations: 

  • An online appointment scheduler is a much more efficient way for both you and your clients manage appointments.
  • An email sign up form is a quick way to collect email addresses from your site visitors. It boosts the size of your email contact list so you can increase your outreach. 
  • Social media icons make it easier for your site visitors to share and engage with your site via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. 
  • A photo or video gallery can help you display imagery or videos in an appealing and enticing way.

These are just a few examples. There are many tools you can use to create a better experience for the visitor and you.   

5. Are you just tired of it?

 If you feel like your website would win an award for the ‘Ugliest Website of The Year’, then it’s just time to bite the bullet. Your website is the conduit for many people to get a first impression. If it’s not projecting the image you want for your business, then it’s time to invest in a redesign.  

If you answered yes to a few of the questions above, you should consider redesigning your website. There are many design services available. Deluxe Websites offers a complete end-to-end solution for website design, getting your website found, making sure it’s mobile-friendly and ensuring it’s SEO-optimized.

Found this helpful? Get more tips and how-tos by subscribing to the weekly VR Buzz newsletter

© 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 Five Things to Consider Before Undergoing a Website Redesign appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

3 Auto-Responders Every Retailer Should Consider

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 06:01

Delivering a relevant buyer experience is virtually impossible to manage without the right blend of touch points and messages. No doubt you use transactional messages through printed receipts, email confirmations and delivery update notifications. Maybe you’ve even added a seasonal promotional email or direct mail campaign.

Retailers can also save time and keep customers engaged by setting up auto-responders. These types of emails are triggered once an event occurs. Let’s look at three types of events and example emails.

1. Surprise and Delight

The “Surprise and Delight” auto-responder is one that many retailers include in their communication plan. Simply put, it’s an out-of-the-ordinary email that a retailer sends to a customer that elicits an emotional “ahhhh” moment.

An appropriate event that might trigger this email is a customer anniversary. Knowing when a customer became a customer, and acknowledging that special day, is always a welcome surprise. More common events might be a customer’s birthday, or wedding anniversary. This special event auto-responder is designed to, well, make them feel special.

Offering a small token of appreciation goes a long way. It keeps your brand top of mind but shows your customers you truly value their business and loyalty. And although providing a gift certificate from your business is nice, offering your customer something unexpected is even better. Consider offering them a nominal gift card from a brand that complements your company or treating them to an exclusive in-store discount.

As Robert Spector, customer service guru and author of The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: The Handbook For Becoming the “Nordstrom” of Your Industry, says “Don’t reinvent the wheel. Focus on winning one customer at a time. Be honest and sincere. Do what’s right. There’s nothing magical about this. That’s been my guiding principle. To make it work, you have to live it every day. Make it your mind-set.”

Here is a great example of a customer anniversary “Surprise and Delight” email:

2. Countdown

The “Countdown Event” auto-responder email builds awareness and excitement. It also creates a sense of urgency around a sale, special promotion, new product launch, or any type of event. You can segment your loyal customers and offer them a “sneak peak” using a Countdown. The impact delivered is great customer service to your best customers with exclusivity, but with a limited time element.

Here is a great example of a “Countdown Timer” auto-responder email:

3. Abandoned Cart

Last but not least, the “Abandoned Cart” auto-responder email that is triggered when a shopper leaves before going through the checkout process. You can decide to pair the email with an offer, or not. Either way, the goal is to entice them to complete the sale.

Here is the “no-offer reminder” abandoned cart email:

Here is the “offer reminder” abandoned cart email:

There is truly no one-size-fits-all approach to an auto-responder strategy but one thing is true, you can mix and match different auto-responders by combining the best elements of both.

If you want more tips and how-tos delivered to your inbox once a week, sign up for our newsletter. 

© 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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New Feature: Email List Segmentation [Phase 1]

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 06:00

Segmented lists get more engagement. The open and click results are likely to be higher since the email message can be more directly targeted to a certain group of people. To make this best practice easier, we are excited to introduce our new Advanced Search tool.

This update allows for campaign activity-based segmentation, which means, you can segment your contact list based on a set of predetermined parameters related to opens or clicks. You can access this email feature on the Contacts page.

Watch a 2-minute demo.

There are three selections you can make:

  • People who opened
  • People who did not open
  • People who clicked
  • People who did not click
  • Any email
  • All emails
  • Specific emails
Time frame
  • In the last 7 days
  • In the last month
  •  In the last 6 months

For quicker list generation, ‘Recommended Searches’ is available at the top right-hand rail. You can generate the list by clicking on the name of the search.

Once the results from your search appear, you can:

  • Sort by First Name, Last Name, Company, City, or State/Region
  • Remove any fields
  • Save the search as a new segment
  • Add the contacts to an existing list

This level of segmentation can be of great use, especially if you manage a large number of contacts.

Ways You Can Use Segmentation

Here are just a few ways you can take advantage of this new feature:

  • Reward customers who have opened all emails by sending a special offer.
  • Find all customers who haven’t opened an email in the last 6 months and send them a re-engagement email.
  • See who has never opened any emails and consider scrubbing them from your list.
  • Identify subscribers who have never clicked after opening an email. Send them a follow-up asking if they are looking for different content.

Advanced Search is our first phase of segmentation and available to both freemium and paid accounts. Take advantage of this deeper level of segmentation and watch how your engagement improves.

© 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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Understanding Your LinkedIn Company Page Analytics [VIDEO]

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 06:00

Most people know LinkedIn as the premier social network dedicated to business. Unless you have closely followed its evolution since launching in 2003, you may have missed some updates.

One of its key evolution points was the launch of Company Profile Pages in March of 2008. Since then, there have been many enhancements. Most notable was “Insights.” Insights were the 1.0 version of Analytics about your Company Page, which helps you understand how your page works and which areas you need to enhance to improve traction.

Following recent changes aimed at simplifying the platform’s usability, Company Profile Pages are now just called ‘Company Pages‘ and “Insights” are known as Analytics.

In this episode of Tips in 2, we take you on a quick tour of LinkedIn Company Page Analytics. This overview allows you to see how much information you can gather from the data behind your page.

Click on the video below and let us show you around. 

For more info on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, click 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 Understanding Your LinkedIn Company Page Analytics [VIDEO] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Bulk Up Your Marketing Efforts with SumoMe

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 06:01

Wrestling with growing your audience? Grappling with landing page conversion rates? Then we’ve got the thing for you! We’re happy to announce our newest integration with SumoMe, an innovative platform built to help marketers create high-converting landing pages, grow their email lists, and make sense of their website traffic and visitor behavior.
Get on the Mat!
One of the biggest challenges marketers face is conversion. How can I get my site visitors to subscribe, opt-in, and not abandon the page altogether? SumoMe’s Welcome Mat tool helps you do just that.

Welcome Mat displays a full-screen call-to-action when visitors land on your site. You can use this page to encourage visitors to join your email list, check out your blog post, or whatever action you want them to take.

With its completely customizable design and mobile optimization, you can increase your email conversion rate through better visitor engagement. Best of all, Welcome Mat is integrated with VerticalResponse, so any email addresses you collect with the tool will automatically be added as new contacts to a VR list of your choice. This is a great way to immediately engage and convert a site visitor, while increasing productivity since you won’t have to enter each new contact into VR manually. Check out Welcome Mat here!

Tip the Scales with List Builder
If utilizing a full-page call-to-action isn’t a great fit for your site, SumoMe has another solution. List Builder is a fully-customizable lightbox pop-up used to prompt conversion at just the right time. List Builder’s Smart Mode technology detects the exact moment when a visitor is about to leave, and then entices them with a call-to-action or signup form so you’re less likely to lose that visitor. And, again, thanks to List Builder’s sync capability with VerticalResponse, any email addresses given will automatically be added as a new contact in your VR list.

Timely and strategic visitor engagement is key to conversion. List Builder will help you with this targeted interaction, and also decrease your workload since you won’t have to add these new contacts manually to your VR Lists!

How Can I Sync SumoMe and VR?
It’s quick and easy!

1.  Select any of the SumoMe apps for collecting emails: List Builder, Welcome Mat, Scroll Box, or Smart Bar.

2.  In your campaign, select the Services tab and click on VerticalResponse.

3.  On the next page, click “Connect.”

4.  Sign in with your VeritcalResponse credentials.

5. Select the VR list to which you’d like each collected email pushed.

6. All set!

Let us know how this integration works for you.

© 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 Bulk Up Your Marketing Efforts with SumoMe appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

9 Social Media Hacks Every Small Business Can Benefit From

Tue, 08/25/2015 - 06:01

Are you currently using social media sites to enhance your business’s online strategy? Posting to these platforms on a regular basis is a great place to start. If you want to increase sales, brand awareness, and website traffic, you’ll have to up your social marketing game by going a bit further.

These nine social media marketing hacks will help you:

  • Sell products on your social sites
  • Find enticing images to grow your brand awareness
  • Drive more traffic to your brand’s website and blog

Hacks to help sell products on social sites

Your website shouldn’t be the only place for customers to browse and buy your products. Remember that your social sites can also serve as mini, digital storefronts too.

Why not entice your social audiences to make a purchase in 140 characters or less for example.  When it comes to selling items on your social sites, you have a few options.

1. Turn to Facebook ads

Facebook has an easy-to-use advertising platform, which allows you to showcase your product to an audience of your choosing. To maximize your views, be sure to target your ad by location, age or interests.

In terms of cost, the ads are affordable. You can start an ad campaign for as little as five bucks, with the idea of progressive spending as you focus on reaching more customers over time.

  • See it in action: Here’s an example of a Facebook ad.

2. Use a ‘shoppable’ app like Shoppost

This handy resource creates ads for your Facebook page. The ads can display an image and also provide pricing, colors, and sizes. When a customer clicks on the ad, he or she is taken directly to your site to check out.

Keep in mind, your website must use Shopify, Etsy, Amazon or Bigcommerce as its e-commerce platform for this tool to work, but it makes buying simple for your customers.

You can check out the site to see the ads.

3. Try a ‘Like2Buy’ button to increase sales

Ready to turn the great images you share on Instagram into transactional posts? Use Curalate’s Like2Buy option. Customers can see your products and, like the Shoppost app, are directed to your website to make a purchase. Users can even save products in their own gallery to purchase later.

Hacks to help you find and post eye-catching images

Social media is propelled by images. With so many images in social streams, you can’t post any old picture and expect viewers to pay attention. To beat the competition, you have to upload creative and clear images. So how do you get your hands on images that attract attention and spark engagement? Here are a few hacks to help:

4. Consider using paid stock sites

You can buy images on stock photo sites like iStock or Shutterstock. Set up a folder on your laptop and keep the images in an accessible folder so you can build a photo library.

Using stock photos is probably the most common way to obtain creative images, but it can be costly.

5. Browse free stock sites

If you don’t have a budget for pictures, turn to Flickr. Through their Creative Commons section, you can search images that are free. However, you’ll want to narrow your search depending on how you plan to use the image.

For example, if you plan to use the image for a commercial purpose, search under “commercial use allowed.” Just go to the creative commons section and use the drop menu on the upper left side to narrow your search. Here’s what you’ll see:

While the images are free, when you post it on your site you need to provide attribution.

6. Standout by creating a cinemagraph

Everyone is vying for visual attention, so how can you stand out? Try creating and posting a cinemagraph. What’s a cinemagraph? It’s a still image with a small section of animation. It’s like a GIF, but with better quality and control.

Since Facebook has an autoplay video feature and Instagram can play videos on a loop, these mini-moving images are powerful and attention grabbing. You can create cinemagraphs by using apps like or Flixel.

Hacks to use social media marketing to increase website traffic

Your website and social media networks should work well together. To accomplish this, you’ll want to shuttle traffic between the two sites. In other words, links on your social sites should direct people to your website, and links on your website should bring customers to your social sites.

What’s the best way to keep this digital highway flowing?

7. Install ‘ClickToTweet’

This free tool puts a small ‘Click to Tweet’ link next to any piece of text, which allows your customers to then share that selected text on their Twitter feed.

How can you incorporate it? You could put together a list of frequently asked questions on your website, or a short list of statistics that customers can share. The ‘Click to Tweet’ link can sit next to any valuable tidbit of information. When clicked, the sentence automatically loads to Twitter. All the customer has to do is click ‘share’, and it hits the Twittersphere.

Check out the ClickToTweet website to set it up. If you’re using WordPress, you can use a specific plugin to seamlessly add the ClickToTweet feature.

  • See it in action: A healthcare website wrapped up a blog post with these statistics and used the ‘Click to Tweet’ link after each one.

8. Increase social traffic with a ‘Hello Bar’

Create a call to action button on the top of your website that drives traffic to your social sites. A Hello Bar is a thin bar that appears at the top of your website that contains a short message and a call to action.

The best part about a Hello Bar is its versatility. You can change the call to action and the message to achieve a variety of goals. You can encourage people to visit your social sites, sign up for your email list, download an e-book or visit a specific page on your website.

Visit the Hello Bar website to learn more.

  • See it in action: Here’s what a Hello Bar looks like:

9. Use to ‘listen’ on social media

What are people saying about your business? It’s impossible to monitor every comment made, but makes it easier. This platform collects data across social media sites and shows you exactly what people are saying about your business, industry as well as your competitors.

With this information, you can insert yourself into the conversation. You’ll be able to offer help to customers that are unhappy with a competitor’s service, drive traffic to your website, and maintain your overall online reputation. 

Final thoughts

These nine hacks will help improve your sales and customer engagement; however, you don’t have to implement all of these changes at once. Try to set up a new tool every month so you can learn how each one fits best with your digital brand.

© 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 Social Media Hacks Every Small Business Can Benefit From appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Social Media & Your Business: Choosing the Best Platform

Fri, 08/21/2015 - 06:00

So you want to define a social media strategy for your business? The place to start is with a full understanding of the most widely-used social platforms, their unique purpose, and whether or not your business will be able to reach its target audience.

Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all trend highly with small and medium-sized business owners. With the greatest volume of users per month, these platforms allow you to build a following, showcase new products, and sometimes act as an arm of customer service.

We’ll look at what differentiates these three popular networks, comparing various key metrics so you can feel confident starting your path towards social media success.

Getting Started

To begin, frame your evaluation of each platform with the following questions:

  1. What is the unique purpose of this platform?
  2. Do its attributes relate to my business’s needs?
  3. Which target audience does this platform serve?
  4. How much time on this network is necessary to have the best impact?

Evaluating Purpose and Unique Attributes

There’s no shortage of social-driven platforms so spend time exploring once you’ve gotten your feet wet. You’ll find that Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are more than likely the places with the highest concentration of your key demographics. In examining the purpose and unique attributes of each, you’ll find that though they are all ‘social’, they have different strengths and selling points.


Primary Purpose: Builds brand loyalty and reputation. Establishes your business as an authority through interesting content and informational posts.

Unique Attributes:

  • Reaches a variety of segments of an audience with one post
  • Offers opportunity to create ads to drive traffic to your website/blog
  • Encourages dialogue and depth with a customer base
  • Ideal for sharing personal stories, testimonials, detailed information about your business


Primary Purpose: Shares breaking news and quick updates, promotes new products, content, or brand contests, collects instant feedback from your audience.

Unique Attributes:

  • Serves people looking for quick info, company news, and immediate response to questions about products or events
  • Focuses on dialogue creation and starting conversations with customers
  • Known for its hashtag (#) communication functionality
  • Best platform for PR/publicity purposes when traditional media does not respond


Primary Purpose: Acts as an online scrapbook, showcases products, and displays brand essence through inspiration boards.

Unique Attributes:

  • Generates leads and drives traffic to other content (or back to your website)
  • Visually promotes and highlights products/services through images
  • Provokes immediate or future Call-to-Action (CTA) responses
  • Allows you to micro-target your search with clearly defined categories

Most businesses find that Facebook helps strengthen relationships once initially established. If you want to grow an audience around promotions and sales, Twitter or Pinterest has the quickest impact. Check out these informative results of the 2014 Pew Research Center study.

Understand and find your target audience

Defining your target audience and knowing where to find them is the foundation to navigating the non-stop maze of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest each have significantly different mixes in regards to average age and gender:


Average Age Range of Users:  25-45 years old

Gender of Users:   60% female, 40% male


Average Age Range of Users:  18-29 years old

Gender of Users:   50% female, 50% male


Average Age Range of Users:  18-35 years old

Gender of Users:   80% female, 20% male

If you’re looking for ways to define the particular needs of your audience, consider developing personas for your target social media audience. This will create a precise vision of exactly who they are, what content or information they’re craving, and where you should focus to communicate with them.

Consider the time commitment required

The keyword in social media is ‘social’, probably the most understated and forgotten portion of the equation. Not unlike good public relations, businesses should use social media as a source of ‘2-way communication’ with their audience, regardless of the platform.

This means that in addition to posting articles, videos, and other relevant posts you want your audience to ‘Like’ and ‘Share’, you need to interact with them.

How often should I post to my social networks?

  • Facebook:  1-2 times per day or 6 times a week
  • Twitter:  3-4 times a day or 20 times a week
  • Pinterest:  2-3 times per day or 10 times a week


The average amount of time spent by small businesses on social media per week? 6 hours and counting.

Bottom line: Don’t feel pressured to be on every platform. Start with the one that connects you with the right audience, aligns with your business’s needs, and one you can regularly manage.

Want more insight on social media marketing? Sign up for an upcoming ‘Fundamentals of Social Media’ webinar.

© 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 Social Media & Your Business: Choosing the Best Platform appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.