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Updated: 4 hours 35 min ago

A VR Blog Post Test

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 09:30

This is a VerticalResponse blog post test.

 

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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 A VR Blog Post Test appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

A Brand New Blog Post Test

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 16:46

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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 A Brand New Blog Post Test appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

A Blog Post Test

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 16:36

This is a test

 

 

Making room for another image in a blog post:

© 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 Blog Post Test appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

9 Emails Non-Profits Should Send – TEST 2

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 15:50

Last year non-profits raised $324 billion through online fundraising. According to M+R Benchmarks, email marketing played a big role in that figure.

It’s no secret that non-profits are strapped for time, cash and resources, which explains why email marketing is so popular. It’s an affordable option that can attract and maintain donors with a small time investment.

While many non-profits are already sending emails to their donors, we have some advanced tips to take your non-profit email marketing to the next level. This guide explains:

  • 3 emails you should send to new donors before asking for a dime
  • 3 emails you should send to ask for donations
  • 3 emails you should send to maintain donors
  • 3 tips for successful emails
3 emails you should send to new donors before asking for a dime

New donors are an important part of your financial future, but that doesn’t mean you should bombard them with donation requests as soon as they join your mailing list. Just like any relationship, there should be a ‘get to know you’ phase.

To help you establish a relationship with new members, here are three emails you should send before asking for a donation.

  • Welcome email

When a new donor is added to your list, you need to roll out the red carpet. Within 48 hours of adding this new contact, you should send out a welcome email. With VerticalResponse, you can use our automated feature to schedule a welcome email to be delivered as soon as a new contact is added to your list.

This welcome email should offer a friendly greeting, thank the recipient for signing up and quickly explain the benefits of your email list. The call to action can lead subscribers to your website, perhaps to a specific landing page that offers the history of your organization or answers frequently asked questions.

The call to action can vary, but this is not a time to solicit a donation. This email is about establishing a connection and starting a relationship, not asking for cash.

  • ‘Did You Know?’ email

After welcoming a potential donor to your non-profit family, send an email that offers information that he or she may not know about your cause. We call it the ‘Did You Know?’ email. In other words, you should share information that isn’t necessarily common knowledge.

For example, an email might say, “Did you know that The Tri-County Food Shelf helped feed 650 families last year?” Or, “Did you know that the Zebra Foundation is teaming up with the San Diego Zoo to save 100 zebras this summer?”

The point of this email is to educate new subscribers. Like a welcome email, this email isn’t aimed at soliciting a donation. You’re sharing information to build a relationship. Your call to action should encourage the subscriber to learn more by visiting your website.

  • Exclusive email offer for new subscribers

Make new subscribers feel welcome by offering an exclusive deal. Again, it’s all about building a relationship.

The exclusive offer could be a free tour of your facility, a branded notepad, or an early-bird invite to your upcoming fundraiser. It should make subscribers feel special, but shouldn’t cost you any money.

In the email, explain that only new subscribers are getting this offer and spell out what the offer is. The call to action will help the subscriber take advantage of this deal.

3 emails you should send to ask for donations

Now that you’ve worked toward an email friendship, you can start to ask for donations. The next three emails can be sent to new subscribers and loyal donors. These emails are fundraising tools, meant to help you bring in donations without being pushy.

  • Success story email

To collect donations, one of the most powerful tools you have is your success. Donors want to know how their money will help. Asking people to donate money to build 10 homes in their neighborhood isn’t enough. You have to show them. Create an email that explains how Barbara Smith, a single mother of four, has a place to call home because of generous donors. Include a picture of Barbara and her family in front of her new home. After briefly telling her story, include a call to action that asks for donors to support the campaign.

  • ‘We have a goal’ email

A lot of non-profits set fundraising goals. When you do, share it with your donors. Let’s say your foundation wants to raise $10,000 to install a well in an impoverished area. You should create an email around that goal. Actually, you should create a series of emails.

The first email you send should state the goal and ask donors to contribute. The second email should offer an update. Maybe you announce that you’re half way to your goal and remind donors to give. The third email you send should be close to your deadline. This email should be urgent, asking donors to support your goal before time runs out.

Of course, there is a lot of flexibility with these goal-oriented emails. Maybe a donor offers to match donations for a short window of time. If so, you’ll want to tell others via email. If there are any updates that donors should know about, or other motivating factors, you should share it via email.

Of course, when the campaign is done, send an email that let’s donors know the outcome and thank them for their support.

  • Fundraising event email

When you host a fundraising event, email is one of the best marketing tools you have. A lot of planning goes into an event, and you can keep guests in the loop by sending out a series of emails to support the fundraiser.

For starters, you can invite guests to the fundraiser via email. Of course, the invitation should include all vital information (location, date, time, etc.) and a call to action that allows guests to RSVP.

Additional emails should follow. For example, send a follow up email to those who haven’t RSVP’d. It usually takes more than one email to get people to commit to an event. You can send an email that recaps last year’s success and sets expectations for this year. As the event nears, send an email to those who plan to attend with directions and parking information. When the event is finished, thank those who came out and share the amount that was raised.

3 emails you should send to maintain donors

To keep donors engaged with your non-profit, you’ll want to send emails that maintain your relationship. Here are three emails that do just that:

  • Newsletter

When it comes to maintaining a relationship, there is no better way than through a newsletter. A newsletter is like having coffee with a friend. It gives you a chance to catch up. By keeping donors informed, they feel like part of the team.

Your newsletter can include all kinds of content. You can include a letter from the director, discuss upcoming projects, update readers on initiatives, highlight a volunteer, share a success story, provide industry-specific news, recap fundraising efforts and mention upcoming events. The options are endless. Take a look at all of the content included in this example from the RSPCA.

While the point of the newsletter is to inform, not solicit, it can contain several calls to action.

  • Useful news emails

Keep donors engaged by sending emails that contain interesting news that’s related to your non-profit.

For example, an animal shelter could send an email about protecting pets from dangerously cold temperatures. A non-profit that focuses on cancer research could send links to several news articles that contain the latest breakthroughs.

These emails keep your non-profit ‘top of mind.’

  • Donor preference email

Several times a year, ask donors what they want. One of the easiest ways to do this is through an email survey. Create a survey through a site like SurveyMonkey and include a link to it in your email.

The survey should ask donors about their preferences. For example, a survey could focus on what kind of campaigns donor prefer, or you could ask questions to improve a specific fundraiser that you host each year. By asking donors about their preferences, rather than making assumptions, you will improve donor loyalty.

Remember to keep the survey short and ask specific questions that provide useful information.

3 tips for email success

Since we have a theme of three going here, we’ll end the guide with three tips to ensure your email success.

  • Use empowering language

When you’re asking for money, you want to use active language and select words that empower donors. It might sound like we’re squabbling over something petty, but word choice matters.

We’ve created this handy chart to help. On the left are overused marketing phrases. On the right are active and empowering alternatives.

  • Make a contribution                         Donate now
  • Click here to donate                         Make a difference today
  • Give what you can                            No donation is too small
  • Please, we need your help               Be a hero to someone in need
  • We can’t do it without you                Donors like you make this possible
  • Every dollar helps                             Donate $5 now
  • Please give                                       We appreciate your donation
  • Add pictures of people

Every email is better with pictures, but the best images include people. These are the pictures that can motivate donors to act. Use pictures of those you help and volunteers in action. Try to stay away from generic pictures or stock images. You want pictures of real people. Take a look at the American Red Cross email below. The picture of the little boy makes the whole email.

  • Segment your list

When you create an email, it’s natural to want to share it with everyone. There are certain emails that you should send to your entire list, but it shouldn’t happen with every email. Segmenting your list is the best way to go. To segment your list means to break it up into smaller, specific groups. For example, the donor section of your list might be broken into new donors, loyal donors and VIP donors.

Segmenting your list not only allows you to send targeted messages, but it also avoids email fatigue. You don’t want your audience to get tired of your emails, so it’s best to only send emails that are of interest to the recipient.

These nine emails should help your non-profit engage and connect with your subscribers and grow your donor base.

As a non-profit, what kinds of emails do you send to attract and maintain donors? Tell us your thoughts and tips in the comment section below.

Try out these tips today with the VerticalResponse free program for non-profits. Sign up and get started.

© 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 Emails Non-Profits Should Send – TEST 2 appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

9 Emails Non-Profits Should Send – TEST

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 15:44

Last year non-profits raised $324 billion through online fundraising. According to M+R Benchmarks, email marketing played a big role in that figure.

It’s no secret that non-profits are strapped for time, cash and resources, which explains why email marketing is so popular. It’s an affordable option that can attract and maintain donors with a small time investment.

While many non-profits are already sending emails to their donors, we have some advanced tips to take your non-profit email marketing to the next level. This guide explains:

  • 3 emails you should send to new donors before asking for a dime
  • 3 emails you should send to ask for donations
  • 3 emails you should send to maintain donors
  • 3 tips for successful emails
3 emails you should send to new donors before asking for a dime

New donors are an important part of your financial future, but that doesn’t mean you should bombard them with donation requests as soon as they join your mailing list. Just like any relationship, there should be a ‘get to know you’ phase.

To help you establish a relationship with new members, here are three emails you should send before asking for a donation.

  • Welcome email

When a new donor is added to your list, you need to roll out the red carpet. Within 48 hours of adding this new contact, you should send out a welcome email. With VerticalResponse, you can use our automated feature to schedule a welcome email to be delivered as soon as a new contact is added to your list.

This welcome email should offer a friendly greeting, thank the recipient for signing up and quickly explain the benefits of your email list. The call to action can lead subscribers to your website, perhaps to a specific landing page that offers the history of your organization or answers frequently asked questions.

The call to action can vary, but this is not a time to solicit a donation. This email is about establishing a connection and starting a relationship, not asking for cash.

  • ‘Did You Know?’ email

After welcoming a potential donor to your non-profit family, send an email that offers information that he or she may not know about your cause. We call it the ‘Did You Know?’ email. In other words, you should share information that isn’t necessarily common knowledge.

For example, an email might say, “Did you know that The Tri-County Food Shelf helped feed 650 families last year?” Or, “Did you know that the Zebra Foundation is teaming up with the San Diego Zoo to save 100 zebras this summer?”

The point of this email is to educate new subscribers. Like a welcome email, this email isn’t aimed at soliciting a donation. You’re sharing information to build a relationship. Your call to action should encourage the subscriber to learn more by visiting your website.

  • Exclusive email offer for new subscribers

Make new subscribers feel welcome by offering an exclusive deal. Again, it’s all about building a relationship.

The exclusive offer could be a free tour of your facility, a branded notepad, or an early-bird invite to your upcoming fundraiser. It should make subscribers feel special, but shouldn’t cost you any money.

In the email, explain that only new subscribers are getting this offer and spell out what the offer is. The call to action will help the subscriber take advantage of this deal.

3 emails you should send to ask for donations

Now that you’ve worked toward an email friendship, you can start to ask for donations. The next three emails can be sent to new subscribers and loyal donors. These emails are fundraising tools, meant to help you bring in donations without being pushy.

  • Success story email

To collect donations, one of the most powerful tools you have is your success. Donors want to know how their money will help. Asking people to donate money to build 10 homes in their neighborhood isn’t enough. You have to show them. Create an email that explains how Barbara Smith, a single mother of four, has a place to call home because of generous donors. Include a picture of Barbara and her family in front of her new home. After briefly telling her story, include a call to action that asks for donors to support the campaign.

  • ‘We have a goal’ email

A lot of non-profits set fundraising goals. When you do, share it with your donors. Let’s say your foundation wants to raise $10,000 to install a well in an impoverished area. You should create an email around that goal. Actually, you should create a series of emails.

The first email you send should state the goal and ask donors to contribute. The second email should offer an update. Maybe you announce that you’re half way to your goal and remind donors to give. The third email you send should be close to your deadline. This email should be urgent, asking donors to support your goal before time runs out.

Of course, there is a lot of flexibility with these goal-oriented emails. Maybe a donor offers to match donations for a short window of time. If so, you’ll want to tell others via email. If there are any updates that donors should know about, or other motivating factors, you should share it via email.

Of course, when the campaign is done, send an email that let’s donors know the outcome and thank them for their support.

  • Fundraising event email

When you host a fundraising event, email is one of the best marketing tools you have. A lot of planning goes into an event, and you can keep guests in the loop by sending out a series of emails to support the fundraiser.

For starters, you can invite guests to the fundraiser via email. Of course, the invitation should include all vital information (location, date, time, etc.) and a call to action that allows guests to RSVP.

Additional emails should follow. For example, send a follow up email to those who haven’t RSVP’d. It usually takes more than one email to get people to commit to an event. You can send an email that recaps last year’s success and sets expectations for this year. As the event nears, send an email to those who plan to attend with directions and parking information. When the event is finished, thank those who came out and share the amount that was raised.

3 emails you should send to maintain donors

To keep donors engaged with your non-profit, you’ll want to send emails that maintain your relationship. Here are three emails that do just that:

  • Newsletter

When it comes to maintaining a relationship, there is no better way than through a newsletter. A newsletter is like having coffee with a friend. It gives you a chance to catch up. By keeping donors informed, they feel like part of the team.

Your newsletter can include all kinds of content. You can include a letter from the director, discuss upcoming projects, update readers on initiatives, highlight a volunteer, share a success story, provide industry-specific news, recap fundraising efforts and mention upcoming events. The options are endless. Take a look at all of the content included in this example from the RSPCA.

While the point of the newsletter is to inform, not solicit, it can contain several calls to action.

  • Useful news emails

Keep donors engaged by sending emails that contain interesting news that’s related to your non-profit.

For example, an animal shelter could send an email about protecting pets from dangerously cold temperatures. A non-profit that focuses on cancer research could send links to several news articles that contain the latest breakthroughs.

These emails keep your non-profit ‘top of mind.’

  • Donor preference email

Several times a year, ask donors what they want. One of the easiest ways to do this is through an email survey. Create a survey through a site like SurveyMonkey and include a link to it in your email.

The survey should ask donors about their preferences. For example, a survey could focus on what kind of campaigns donor prefer, or you could ask questions to improve a specific fundraiser that you host each year. By asking donors about their preferences, rather than making assumptions, you will improve donor loyalty.

Remember to keep the survey short and ask specific questions that provide useful information.

3 tips for email success

Since we have a theme of three going here, we’ll end the guide with three tips to ensure your email success.

  • Use empowering language

When you’re asking for money, you want to use active language and select words that empower donors. It might sound like we’re squabbling over something petty, but word choice matters.

We’ve created this handy chart to help. On the left are overused marketing phrases. On the right are active and empowering alternatives.

  • Make a contribution                         Donate now
  • Click here to donate                         Make a difference today
  • Give what you can                            No donation is too small
  • Please, we need your help               Be a hero to someone in need
  • We can’t do it without you                Donors like you make this possible
  • Every dollar helps                             Donate $5 now
  • Please give                                       We appreciate your donation
  • Add pictures of people

Every email is better with pictures, but the best images include people. These are the pictures that can motivate donors to act. Use pictures of those you help and volunteers in action. Try to stay away from generic pictures or stock images. You want pictures of real people. Take a look at the American Red Cross email below. The picture of the little boy makes the whole email.

  • Segment your list

When you create an email, it’s natural to want to share it with everyone. There are certain emails that you should send to your entire list, but it shouldn’t happen with every email. Segmenting your list is the best way to go. To segment your list means to break it up into smaller, specific groups. For example, the donor section of your list might be broken into new donors, loyal donors and VIP donors.

Segmenting your list not only allows you to send targeted messages, but it also avoids email fatigue. You don’t want your audience to get tired of your emails, so it’s best to only send emails that are of interest to the recipient.

These nine emails should help your non-profit engage and connect with your subscribers and grow your donor base.

As a non-profit, what kinds of emails do you send to attract and maintain donors? Tell us your thoughts and tips in the comment section below.

Try out these tips today with the VerticalResponse free program for non-profits. Sign up and get started.

© 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 Emails Non-Profits Should Send – TEST appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Unconventional Ways to Create Videos That Engage Facebook Fans

Tue, 03/24/2015 - 06:00

Your Facebook audience has a craving. They’re craving video. According to recent statistics, the number of videos showing up in Facebook News Feeds has shot up by 360% this year compared to last.

The king of social media sites is also allowing most page administrators to make videos more prominent by selecting a featured video. This featured video sits on the left side of your main page and appears like this on your video page:

Plus, Facebook now allows administrators to organize videos in a more presentable way. You can organize videos into playlists, which gives your video page more of a YouTube feel.

Facebook videos can provide a big boost to your brand. If you’re on the fence about adding video to your marketing toolbox, here are some pros and cons you should consider:

The pros and cons of creating video for Facebook

  • Pro: Get noticed

Everyone knows that videos are attention grabbing, but did you know that the number of video plays on Facebook is up 785% over last year? That’s not a typo, folks. It’s believed the recent changes that we mentioned earlier are contributing to the spike in views.

  • Pro: Boost your Facebook engagement

You want your Facebook fans to engage with your posts by liking, commenting and sharing. Videos encourage engagement. A recent study from Adobe shows engagement with video posts is up 25% this year.

  • Pro: Endless topics ideas

Videos can provide followers with more information about your product, service or non-profit. You can create videos that fit a variety of needs. You can explain how to use your service or highlight product features. Non-profits can showcase success stories and create fundraising videos. The content ideas are endless.

  • Con: Time commitment

As with any new marketing tactic, there can be a learning curve. If you haven’t shot a video before or posted one on Facebook you may have to practice a bit.

  • Con: A poor video can hurt your brand

Your audience expects quality videos that are informative and engaging. If your video falls short your viewers may not return. 

But, don’t let these cons stop you from getting the camera rolling. We have tips to help you create top-notch videos for Facebook without sacrificing your entire workweek (or budget) to do it.

Tips to creating stellar videos with time and budget limitations

1. Create an animation

Try creating an animation with online tools like PowToon, Wideo or GoAnimate. You can use premade templates and easy-to-use editors to make a short animation or explainer video to share on your website or social sites. You can even upload your own images and voice recording.

2. Create a stop motion video with Vine

Do you remember flip book drawings where you flip through the pages and it looks like the images are moving? Well, there are videos that do the same thing. They’re called stop motion videos. Here’s a gallery of stop motion videos, in case you need a visual.

You can create a stop motion video using Twitter’s six-second video app, Vine. When you sign up for an account, you’ll have access to how-to videos that will walk you through the process.

Dunkin Donuts has mastered the art of marketing via Vine, check out a few of their examples for inspiration.

3. Create a time-lapse video

One of the easiest videos to create is a time-lapse video. Let’s say you’re hosting an event. Set up a camera with a good vantage point, hit record and walk away. Let the camera record through the event. Now, take that video and upload it to LapseIt, an app that will speed up your video. Add a little music and you’ve got a great video to share on Facebook.

You can use it to show progress on a remodeling project or how to assemble your product.

4. Create a photomontage of your Facebook memories

Have you shared a bunch of photos on your business Facebook page? Download Flipagram and turn those images into a memory slideshow. You’ll be able to pick from images that are uploaded to your Facebook and Instagram page and turn them all into one great, shareable video. You can use it after an event to share a lot of photos in a digestible format, then invite attendees to check out the pics on your Facebook page. 

5. Use apps to help shot and edit

If you’re shooting a video with your smartphone or a digital camera, use apps to give your video a professional look. For those with less experience in the shooting and editing department, check out these apps that can improve your final product.

  • Directr. This app walks you through the shooting and editing process.
  • iMovie. An editing app for iPhone users.
  • CinemaFx. Give your video some cool effects with this app. 

Has your small business upped its video presence on Facebook? How do you create original videos without spending a ton of time and money? Share your tips in the comment section below.

© 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 Unconventional Ways to Create Videos That Engage Facebook Fans appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

12 Time-Saving Tools for Administrative Tasks

Mon, 03/23/2015 - 06:00

When you own or work for a small business, you know what it’s like to work hard. It’s not uncommon for you to wear many hats throughout the day. Of the many tasks on your to-do list, administrative tasks can take up a lot of time.

Fortunately, there are several time-saving tools and apps available that can speed up tedious administrative tasks. From making a schedule to paying your employees, you can use these tools to help your business run smoother. 

Time Management

RescueTime

In today’s busy world, keeping yourself on schedule can be tough.

Track your time with RescueTime. It’s free for a basic version and $9 a month for premium features. It tracks time spent on websites and apps, assists you with goal-setting and sends you a weekly report of your activities. If you pay the monthly fee, you can track the time you spend offline, block distracting websites, keep track of your daily accomplishments and see more detailed reports of your day.

Additionally, if you think you’re spending too much time on Facebook or any other website, you can set an alarm that will alert you when you’ve reached your maximum time limit. You will also receive a productivity score, which you can customize. Here is a screenshot from RescueTime:

Additional time management apps include:

  • Clear. Allows users to create task lists and set important reminders. Cost: $4.99-$9.99.
  • My Minutes. Allows users to set daily goals and track activity. Cost: $2.99.
  • Timeful. This app helps you sort your schedule and suggests when you could fit different activities into your day. Cost: Free.

Accounting

Wave

Even small businesses need help with accounting. From payroll to tax reports, Wave is a user-friendly app that can help you get organized.

When you start using the free accounting program, you can sync it to your bank account and automatically load transactions into it.

You’re also able to generate professional balance sheets and sales tax reports, as well as create invoices. While you’re producing your invoices, you can include custom messages and designate whether or not you’ll accept credit card payments. The receipts app by Wave is also free, and allows you to email or upload your receipts from your phone or the web.

The only paid part of Wave’s suite is payroll, which can be used by businesses of any size. The first 10 employees are $4 per person. The program lets you set up direct deposit, generate employee tax forms, track vacation days, bonuses, employee expenses and gives employees self-service portals. Here’s a glimpse of the Wave platform:

Additional accounting apps include:

  • Easy Books. An app that provides bookkeeping and invoice creation from the comfort of your iPad. Cost: Free.
  • Kashoo. You can create invoices, manage bills, track expenses and income and export all of your data to QuickBooks or Excel. Cost: $5
  • FreshBooks. A more advanced accounting tool, this app allows you to import photos of receipts, get paid by credit card and PayPal and see when your client has viewed your invoice. Cost: $19.95 a month after a 30-day free trial.

Business travel

Milebug

If you travel frequently, download the MileBug app for your smartphone. After you download the app for $2.99, you can turn it on when you jump into your car for business travel. At the end of your trip, it shows you how many miles you’ve driven and will generate a report that you can email to yourself. You’ll need all of this information at tax time.

Here is a screenshot of how the app tracks miles: 

Additional travel apps include:

  • MileTracker. An app that tracks your miles and allows you to store frequently used locations. Cost: $3.99.
  • TripItPro. If you travel by plane more than you drive, TripItPro shows you available flights, lets you share your itinerary and keeps a log of your airline reward points. Cost: $49 a year. 
  • Expensify. Track your mileage, add cash expenses and import all of your credit card transactions with this handy travel tool. Cost: $5 a month.

What time-saving tools do you use for administrative tasks? Let us know in the comments section below.

Sign up for our email newsletter to get marketing tips delivered each week.

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 12 Time-Saving Tools for Administrative Tasks appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Why a Sign up Form Is a No-Brainer for Email List Growth

Fri, 03/20/2015 - 06:00

A list of contacts is essential for any business that wants to stay in touch with prospects and customers. That list also shouldn’t be static. It should be ever-changing and consistently evolving due to attrition through unsubscribes, (some reports say you will lose as much as 30 % of your list each year), email address abandonment and adding new subscribers.

In order to fuel continued and sustained list growth it’s a no-brainer to have an email sign up form on your website, blog and your other digital properties like social media sites. By providing visitors a quick, easy and efficient way to sign up for your email list, you can proactively grow your list 24/7/365. Having a solid email list is important because, “email remains a significantly more effective way to acquire customers than social media—nearly 40 times that of Facebook and Twitter combined” according to a McKinsey & Company report.

Visit nearly any quality website today and you’ll see a clear call-to-action to sign up for a company email list. That’s because year after year, email marketing continues to rule the roost as the most cost-effective marketing tactic for businesses of every size. “Email averages a return on investment (ROI) of $40 for every $1 spent, far outstripping banner ads ($2) and keyword ads ($17),” says an article by MarketingProfs.

In addition, companies of all sizes count on email marketing for its many benefits including its positive impact on revenue. In a survey of more than 350 marketers done by The Relevancy Group for its report “The Relevancy Ring: ESP Buyers Guide 2015,” 37% of marketers attribute 20% of their revenue to email marketing.

So, if you’re not using an email sign up form, you should make it a number one priority to do so. VerticalResponse provides sign up forms for free with every free or paid account. Plus, we have a list of the top six places you should feature your sign up form in order to grow your list, and a post chock-full of real-life examples of effective sign up forms for B2B, B2C and non-profits.

If you’re using an email sign up form for the first time, or you’ve been using one forever (good for you!), make sure you follow these three rules:

3 Golden Rule for Sign Up Forms

1. Don’t Hide it: Don’t make people hunt for your sign up form. If someone wants to subscribe to your newsletter or email list, put it front and center on your homepage (or across all the pages of your site) so it’s easy to find and fill out. Some of the most effective sign up form real estate on your website will be the top right corner or across the top of the page. We’ve featured Off the Grid’s sign up form many times as an example of this and we’ll do it again.

2. Explain the Benefit: You need to provide some context and the benefit that a potential subscriber will get for forking over their email address. The last thing anyone wants is more email in their inbox, especially if it’s not going to have something in it for them. So, tell them exactly what you’ll deliver and why they should care. For example, “Be the first to know about limited-time sales, find out about special guests, etc.” Also be sure to include the frequency that your subscriber will hear from you. Will you mail once a week or once a month or daily? Tell them like we do in our VerticalResponse newsletter sign up form.

 

3. Stick to the Basics: You might be tempted to collect heaps of information on your sign up form so you can do all kids of personalization in your emails, but try to resist the temptation to ask everything under the sun. Stick to the basics like first name and email address. In most cases you should only ask for what you need, as the more fields you add, the less likely someone is to fill it out.

These no-brainer email sign up form tips and examples should help you grow your email list easily and efficiently. Have any tips you’d like to add? Share in the comments.

Get your free email sign up form and 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.

The post Why a Sign up Form Is a No-Brainer for Email List Growth appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Ways to Retain Customers and Keep Them Coming Back

Thu, 03/19/2015 - 06:00

It’s a common fact that it costs more to acquire a new customer than retain an existing one. In fact, it costs a company 6-7 times more according to Bain & Company. That’s why treating your customers right after they buy is just as important as it is before they buy. One of the easiest ways to grow your business is to keep your existing customers coming back. Let’s take a look at the customer retention math:

Company A has 1,000 customers and retains 90% of them year over year. Company B also has 1,000 customers, but retains only 80%. Both companies are adding new customers at a rate of 20% annually. Company A will experience a net 10% growth rate while Company B is not growing their customer base at all. If you look at it over several years, the retention growth rate continually compounds year over year. At the end of 9 years, Company A has actually doubled the number of customers while company B only has 700 customers out of their 1,000 starting point.

Returning customers are also known to spend more than first time customers. Ecommerce spending for new customers is on average $24.50, compared to $52.50 for repeat customers according to McKinsey & Company.

Returning customers are crucial to a business’s growth. Let’s take a look at a few ways to surprise and delight your customers so they remain loyal. 

1. Say Thank You

It’s an obvious one, but it works. Customers like to feel appreciated especially if they just spent money with you. There’s a variety of ways to say thank you. It’s easy if it’s in person at your location: “Thanks so much for your business. Please visit us again soon.” If you have an online store, you can include a thank you note when you fulfill the product, or send a separate “Thank you” email message, and if you can, include a coupon towards their next purchase. Here are a few more ideas on how to show customer appreciation.    

2. Get Customer Feedback

Asking for feedback about a customer’s experience or product quality shows that you’re engaged in your business and looking for ways to improve. Customers do have options to share feedback with review sites like Yelp. You should be responding to comments you receive on those sites. However, you should consider sending a satisfaction survey directly to your customers. Not only will you get valuable feedback to help you make improvements to your business, but it keeps your business top of mind with customers. 

3. Consistently Communicate

Reach out to your customers on a regular basis. Whether it’s a newsletter, coupon or an event invitation, customers want to hear from you about new products, services, discounts or events. Here’s a guide with some ideas: 9 Emails Your Business Should be Sending.  

4. Highlight a Customer Experience

Showcasing one of your customers in your store, in an email newsletter or a re-tweet can garner great engagement  Everyone likes a little attention paid to them or their cause. If you’ve got a customer raising funds for a charity, offer to put up a flyer in your window, sponsor their cause, tweet about it or mention it in one of your blog posts. Sending birthday or anniversary wishes is another way to let customers know that you care. 

By sending regular post purchase communications you send the message that you care about more than just selling. These four tips should help you on that journey. 

Have you discovered other ways to delight customers after they’ve purchase from you?  Share your ideas in the comment section. 

Stay connected with your customers by emailing through VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 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 4 Ways to Retain Customers and Keep Them Coming Back appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

9 Emails Non-Profits Should Send to Attract and Maintain Donors [GUIDE]

Wed, 03/18/2015 - 09:00

Last year non-profits raised $324 billion through online fundraising. According to M+R Benchmarks, email marketing played a big role in that figure.

It’s no secret that non-profits are strapped for time, cash and resources, which explains why email marketing is so popular. It’s an affordable option that can attract and maintain donors with a small time investment.

While many non-profits are already sending emails to their donors, we have some advanced tips to take your non-profit email marketing to the next level. This guide explains:

  • 3 emails you should send to new donors before asking for a dime
  • 3 emails you should send to ask for donations
  • 3 emails you should send to maintain donors
  • 3 tips for successful emails
3 emails you should send to new donors before asking for a dime

New donors are an important part of your financial future, but that doesn’t mean you should bombard them with donation requests as soon as they join your mailing list. Just like any relationship, there should be a ‘get to know you’ phase.

To help you establish a relationship with new members, here are three emails you should send before asking for a donation.

 

  • Welcome email

When a new donor is added to your list, you need to roll out the red carpet. Within 48 hours of adding this new contact, you should send out a welcome email. With VerticalResponse, you can use our automated feature to schedule a welcome email to be delivered as soon as a new contact is added to your list.

This welcome email should offer a friendly greeting, thank the recipient for signing up and quickly explain the benefits of your email list. The call to action can lead subscribers to your website, perhaps to a specific landing page that offers the history of your organization or answers frequently asked questions.

The call to action can vary, but this is not a time to solicit a donation. This email is about establishing a connection and starting a relationship, not asking for cash.

  • ‘Did You Know?’ email

After welcoming a potential donor to your non-profit family, send an email that offers information that he or she may not know about your cause. We call it the ‘Did You Know?’ email. In other words, you should share information that isn’t necessarily common knowledge.

For example, an email might say, “Did you know that The Tri-County Food Shelf helped feed 650 families last year?” Or, “Did you know that the Zebra Foundation is teaming up with the San Diego Zoo to save 100 zebras this summer?”

The point of this email is to educate new subscribers. Like a welcome email, this email isn’t aimed at soliciting a donation. You’re sharing information to build a relationship. Your call to action should encourage the subscriber to learn more by visiting your website.

  • Exclusive email offer for new subscribers

Make new subscribers feel welcome by offering an exclusive deal. Again, it’s all about building a relationship.

The exclusive offer could be a free tour of your facility, a branded notepad, or an early-bird invite to your upcoming fundraiser. It should make subscribers feel special, but shouldn’t cost you any money.

In the email, explain that only new subscribers are getting this offer and spell out what the offer is. The call to action will help the subscriber take advantage of this deal.

3 emails you should send to ask for donations

Now that you’ve worked toward an email friendship, you can start to ask for donations. The next three emails can be sent to new subscribers and loyal donors. These emails are fundraising tools, meant to help you bring in donations without being pushy.

  • Success story email

To collect donations, one of the most powerful tools you have is your success. Donors want to know how their money will help. Asking people to donate money to build 10 homes in their neighborhood isn’t enough. You have to show them. Create an email that explains how Barbara Smith, a single mother of four, has a place to call home because of generous donors. Include a picture of Barbara and her family in front of her new home. After briefly telling her story, include a call to action that asks for donors to support the campaign.

  • ‘We have a goal’ email

A lot of non-profits set fundraising goals. When you do, share it with your donors. Let’s say your foundation wants to raise $10,000 to install a well in an impoverished area. You should create an email around that goal. Actually, you should create a series of emails.

The first email you send should state the goal and ask donors to contribute. The second email should offer an update. Maybe you announce that you’re half way to your goal and remind donors to give. The third email you send should be close to your deadline. This email should be urgent, asking donors to support your goal before time runs out.

Of course, there is a lot of flexibility with these goal-oriented emails. Maybe a donor offers to match donations for a short window of time. If so, you’ll want to tell others via email. If there are any updates that donors should know about, or other motivating factors, you should share it via email.

Of course, when the campaign is done, send an email that let’s donors know the outcome and thank them for their support.

  • Fundraising event email

When you host a fundraising event, email is one of the best marketing tools you have. A lot of planning goes into an event, and you can keep guests in the loop by sending out a series of emails to support the fundraiser.

For starters, you can invite guests to the fundraiser via email. Of course, the invitation should include all vital information (location, date, time, etc.) and a call to action that allows guests to RSVP.

Additional emails should follow. For example, send a follow up email to those who haven’t RSVP’d. It usually takes more than one email to get people to commit to an event. You can send an email that recaps last year’s success and sets expectations for this year. As the event nears, send an email to those who plan to attend with directions and parking information. When the event is finished, thank those who came out and share the amount that was raised.

3 emails you should send to maintain donors

To keep donors engaged with your non-profit, you’ll want to send emails that maintain your relationship. Here are three emails that do just that:

  • Newsletter

When it comes to maintaining a relationship, there is no better way than through a newsletter. A newsletter is like having coffee with a friend. It gives you a chance to catch up. By keeping donors informed, they feel like part of the team.

Your newsletter can include all kinds of content. You can include a letter from the director, discuss upcoming projects, update readers on initiatives, highlight a volunteer, share a success story, provide industry-specific news, recap fundraising efforts and mention upcoming events. The options are endless. Take a look at all of the content included in this example from the RSPCA.

While the point of the newsletter is to inform, not solicit, it can contain several calls to action.

  • Useful news emails

Keep donors engaged by sending emails that contain interesting news that’s related to your non-profit.

For example, an animal shelter could send an email about protecting pets from dangerously cold temperatures. A non-profit that focuses on cancer research could send links to several news articles that contain the latest breakthroughs.

These emails keep your non-profit ‘top of mind.’

  • Donor preference email

Several times a year, ask donors what they want. One of the easiest ways to do this is through an email survey. Create a survey through a site like SurveyMonkey and include a link to it in your email.

The survey should ask donors about their preferences. For example, a survey could focus on what kind of campaigns donor prefer, or you could ask questions to improve a specific fundraiser that you host each year. By asking donors about their preferences, rather than making assumptions, you will improve donor loyalty.

Remember to keep the survey short and ask specific questions that provide useful information.

3 tips for email success

Since we have a theme of three going here, we’ll end the guide with three tips to ensure your email success.

  • Use empowering language

When you’re asking for money, you want to use active language and select words that empower donors. It might sound like we’re squabbling over something petty, but word choice matters.

We’ve created this handy chart to help. On the left are overused marketing phrases. On the right are active and empowering alternatives.

  • Make a contribution                         Donate now
  • Click here to donate                         Make a difference today
  • Give what you can                            No donation is too small
  • Please, we need your help               Be a hero to someone in need
  • We can’t do it without you                Donors like you make this possible
  • Every dollar helps                             Donate $5 now
  • Please give                                       We appreciate your donation
  • Add pictures of people

Every email is better with pictures, but the best images include people. These are the pictures that can motivate donors to act. Use pictures of those you help and volunteers in action. Try to stay away from generic pictures or stock images. You want pictures of real people. Take a look at the American Red Cross email below. The picture of the little boy makes the whole email.

  • Segment your list

When you create an email, it’s natural to want to share it with everyone. There are certain emails that you should send to your entire list, but it shouldn’t happen with every email. Segmenting your list is the best way to go. To segment your list means to break it up into smaller, specific groups. For example, the donor section of your list might be broken into new donors, loyal donors and VIP donors.

Segmenting your list not only allows you to send targeted messages, but it also avoids email fatigue. You don’t want your audience to get tired of your emails, so it’s best to only send emails that are of interest to the recipient.

These nine emails should help your non-profit engage and connect with your subscribers and grow your donor base.

As a non-profit, what kinds of emails do you send to attract and maintain donors? Tell us your thoughts and tips in the comment section below.

Try out these tips today with the VerticalResponse free program for non-profits. Sign up and get started.

© 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 Emails Non-Profits Should Send to Attract and Maintain Donors [GUIDE] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Ways to Use Paid Search & SEO Together

Tue, 03/17/2015 - 06:00

Paid search and SEO work in different ways to get visitors to your website. Paid search can yield almost immediate results, but can be expensive. Conversely, SEO is relatively cost free, but optimization efforts can take a long time to impact organic rankings. Both are important online marketing elements to, but can take different priorities depending on your goals and time.

In the past, these tactics have been managed separately, but now, more businesses are seeing the value of a unified approach. Back in 2011, Google shifted the industry in this direction when they started limiting organic search query information in an effort to increase privacy. With that change, it became even more important to combine and leverage paid search and organic efforts into one. Since paid search and SEO are dependent on keywords, it makes sense that both disciplines should be looked at through a similar lens. Here are 5 ways your business can start integrating the two right now.

1. Keyword Research/Expansion

Use Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to see what keywords are driving visits to your site. If those keywords/queries aren’t already present in your paid search campaign, add them in and try them out. Use your Adwords tools to determine if the traffic volume is worth the cost. On the flip side, take your highest converting paid terms and try to prioritize the ones you have a chance to rank organically. Start with the top converting and high quality score terms. Odds are, those keywords are very relevant to your business and may have a good chance at converting organically as well. Start creating content around those keywords to increase your ranking in SERPs.

2. Paid Links + Organic Links = Clicks

Studies have shown that users have a higher propensity to click on your paid link if they see your organic link listed, as well the other way around. This may seem counter-intuitive, but the truth of the matter is that unless your organic ranking is within the top 3 positions, it’s a lot harder to come by clicks. If you’re not on the first page of the rankings, its even less likely you’ll get the traffic you’re looking for. A 2012 Google study says just that. As Brightedge put it “the study focused on the interactions between organic search results and paid ads found that even for sites claiming a No. 1 organic ranking, paid ads provided 50 percent incremental clicks (meaning, half of the top-ranking site’s visits would not have happened without the presence of paid ads).” Basically, if you aren’t running paid search in tandem with your top organic links you could be leaving clicks on the table.

3. Leverage Compelling Copy

Take your best performing ads in terms of click thru rate and conversion rate and try applying those headlines and ad copy into your meta descriptions and title tags. Additionally, you can take copy from top performing organic pages and see how they work within paid ads. 

4. Get Content Ideas

For SEO purposes, content really is king. Before developing content around certain keywords, topics, etc., try testing it with paid search first. Chances are that if it converts well in paid search it has a good chance of working for SEO too. If it doesn’t work on the paid side, it might not be worth investing too much of your time. With SEO, things take time to make an impact so paid search is a good way test ideas without spending a lot of time waiting for results.

5. Identify Competitors

Pay Per Click reports can identify new competitors that you may have not even thought of as competitors. By looking at an insight report for keywords, you can see how you stack up against competitors searching for particular keywords. For example, as VerticalResponse, an email marketing provider, we find ourselves competing against CRM platforms for certain terms even though we may not consider them a direct competitor. It’s a good idea to take a look as you may be surprised by what you find.

These 5 ways can help improve both your paid search and SEO efforts and get insights about what works For small and large businesses alike, being able to save time and focus on the things that can make the most impact quickly is essential.

Get more paid search and SEO tips by subscribing to our VR Buzz weekly 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 5 Ways to Use Paid Search & SEO Together appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Ways to Improve Your YouTube Channel

Mon, 03/16/2015 - 09:15

Are you creating videos to promote your business’s image, product or service? You’re not alone. A lot of businesses are creating videos to share online, and statistics show it’s a smart move. According to a study by ReelSEO, 82% of people using video as a promotional tool believe that it has a positive impact on their business. Here are a few other impressive statistics, complied by VideoBrewery, that show just how valuable video can be to your brand:

  • 90% of online shoppers said they found video helpful when making a purchase
  • 45.5% of internet users say they view at least one video online over the course of a month
  • 64% of shoppers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it

Given these numbers, it’s not surprising that so many businesses are turning to YouTube to create a video presence. We’ve created a list of four tips to help you make the most of your YouTube channel.

1. Improve your profile

Your YouTube page is a representation of your business. You should brand it like you would your website or other marketing materials because a consistent look and feel will help reinforce your business and help keep it top of mind with your prospects and customers.

You also want to provide relevant information about your product and business. If someone is surfing around your YouTube channel, he or she is already interested in what you have to offer. You want to capitalize on this momentum and offer additional ways to engage with your company.

Here’s a look at a complete profile:

Notice that the example has all of the following:

  • Business logo
  • Enticing cover art. YouTube suggests a dimension size of 2560 x 1440 px.
  • Social media buttons
  • Matching background color. (In this case, it’s white, but you can select a color that matches your brand.)
  • Link to website
  • Short, error-free descriptions that accompany each video
  • Additional links to engage with the brand

2. Create and share great video

The best way to ensure a top-notch customer experience is to share helpful and interesting videos. Of course, a lot of businesses are strapped for time and cash. That means you probably don’t have time to come up with a video concept, script it, shoot it, edit it and share it on YouTube. Not worry. There are alternatives.

  • Create a photo slideshow

If you hosted an event or celebrated a milestone, you can take several still pictures with your smartphone and turn those photos into a shareable slideshow with tools like Picasa or PhotoSnack.

  • Create an animation

You don’t need Disney Pixar’s animation team to create a cool cartoon, (although wouldn’t that be great?) all you need is GoAnimate. This online tool will help you create whiteboard animations or cartoons for your channel.

  • Create short videos with templates

Shoot a few snippets of video with your smartphone and use video templates to make a movie with WeVideo. The premade video templates up the quality of your production. Plus, this tool comes with a simple video editor to make changes.

If you do want to invest a small budget into video creation tools, check out our post, Video Setup on the Cheap.

3. Use annotations to add a call to action

Just like every email needs a clear call to action, so does every video you post on your YouTube channel. You can put a clickable call to action on your video by adding an annotation. Check out the screen grab below. See the box on the bottom left? That’s an annotation. When it’s clicked, the viewer is taken to the product website.

To add annotations to your videos, just go the Video Manager and click Annotations from the menu under Edit.

You’ll have a few annotation types to chose from:

  • Speech bubble: Add comic book speech bubbles
  • Note: Semi-transparent box
  • Title: Add a bold title box
  • Spotlight: Frame a spot on your video
  • Label: Create a label for a certain part of your video

Once you select a type, follow these steps to publish your annotation:

  • Type in the call to action that you want. Keep it short, but urgent.
  • Use the tools to make the annotation the size you want. It can’t exceed more than 30 percent of the video.
  • Select the start and end times to bring the annotation in and out.
  • Next, add the URL that you want customers to go to and hit Publish.

4. Improve video size and quality

There are ways to control how viewers see your video. You can control the size of the video and the quality.

You can make these changes by adding specific formatting tags to your video while it’s uploading, or after it’s done.

When you think of tags, most people think of descriptive keywords that help customers find your video. You’re right. You should fill the ‘tags’ box with keywords, but you can also add several pieces of code to that same box to manipulate the size and quality of your videos.

Once a video is uploaded, go to Video Manager, select Edit and add the appropriate code to the ‘tags’ box.

  • Code to change size

Have a video with black bars on the right and left? You can get rid of the bars by zooming the video in. To do so, add this line of code: yt:crop=16:9.

If you want to scale the video down so it fits in a 4:3 player, you’ll need to enter this code: yt:stretch=4:3.

  • Code to increase quality

To ensure viewers see your video in its highest quality, add the following code to the tag box: yt:quality=high.

With these four tips, you’ll impress your audience and improve brand awareness. Once you’ve conquered these tips, you can shift gears and focus on increasing your subscribers. We have a great video on our blog that can help you do just that. Check it out: How to Gain More Subscribers on YouTube.

If you’re just getting started with YouTube, grab our Complete Guide to Using YouTube for Your Business.

Gain more business marketing insights by subscribing to our weekly email 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 4 Ways to Improve Your YouTube Channel appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

VerticalResponse Integrates with Scratch-it for Engaging Reveal-Based Marketing

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 10:00

We’re excited to announce our latest addition to the VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace: Scratch-it!

Scratch-it is an engaging, reveal-based marketing tool that allows you to create and email “hidden” messages or promotions to your contacts. As your recipient digitally scratches away at the image in your email, your message is revealed. If you’ve ever bought a scratch-off lottery card, the concept is similar.

What the integration does:

Our integration with Scratch-it enables you to do the following:

  • Seamlessly create, test and send these reveal-based emails to your VerticalResponse email lists and contacts, all from within a Scratch-it account.

–or–

  • Create and test your Scratch-it email from within your Scratch-it account, then make final edits and send the email via VerticalResponse. Sending a test email from your Scratch-it account will automatically populate an email campaign in your VerticalResponse account, which can then be edited and sent.

Here’s what else you can do with the Scratch-it integration:

  • Send a test email to your own address.
  • Create unique Scratch-it redeem codes.
  • Edit and create custom templates.
  • Build an unlimited number of Scratch-its.
  • Receive a complimentary campaign strategy and onboarding with your very own customer success team.
  • Get an additional 5% discount on a yearly contract as a VerticalResponse customer.

Our own experience using Scratch-it:

So just how engaging (and exciting) are Scratch-it emails? Great question. We have an easy answer, as we’ve been using Scratch-it to create our own customer promotions for the last six months. Here’s how well they did, and our reasoning behind using this unique tool:

We were looking for something that would get the attention of our audience, and stand out in the inbox. We were tired of sending out the same formulaic email campaign of text + image + call to action. We wanted something unique and different. When we saw Scratch-it, we were compelled by the interactive nature and knew it was something we needed to test.

Our very first Scratch-it email campaign blew us away – It received a click through rate 3-5 times higher than our average promotion. According to Scratch-it, our new results were on par:

“The biggest draw for Scratch-it is the raise in engagement that clients see in the form of click through rate and time spent interacting. This number differs greatly by campaign type, industry, and company. That being said each Scratch-it campaign sees a consistent lift in CTR of over 200%. The average CTOR (click to open rate) of a Scratch-it email is 40% and the average time users spend interacting with the Scratch-it itself is 24 seconds,” says Jared Flamm of Scratch-it.

Aside from receiving a higher click through rate, we also received more replies from our customers asking how we created the campaign, and how they could do the same. As a result, we knew we needed to integrate with Scratch-it to help empower our customers. Our partnership was born.

What you can do with Scratch-It:

You can use Scratch-it for a variety of reveal-based marketing ideas including discounts, promotions, loyalty-based gifts, and preference-based offers that can help you segment and better target your audience. Here are a handful of examples below:

Want to try Scratch-it for yourself? Check out our integrations page for more information, and enjoy your increased engagement!

© 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 VerticalResponse Integrates with Scratch-it for Engaging Reveal-Based Marketing appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Use VerticalResponse Sign Up Forms to Grow Your Email List

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 09:37

You’re creating engaging email newsletters, offers, and invitations for your audience on a regular basis. What now? To help your email marketing efforts reach more people, you need to continually grow your list. But how can you do this when you’re strapped for time? With VerticalResponse, you can use our free sign up forms to make list growing a snap.

In this quick 2-minute video, we demonstrate how to set up an email sign up form in your VerticalResponse account, plus we give you several ideas as to where to use it. Give the video a view and see how sign up forms can help grow your email list today.

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about email sign up forms and start using them 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.

The post How to Use VerticalResponse Sign Up Forms to Grow Your Email List appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Ways to Create Added Value for Customers

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 09:15

Added value is an important tactic that can be used by small businesses to acquire and retain customers, increase brand awareness, and differentiate one’s place in the marketplace. Don’t know where to start? Here are five ways to create added value that can be easily implemented into your business plan today:

1. Always consider your customers’ perspective

The art of creating added value starts with the ability to see your business through the eyes of your customers.

Consider what’s important to your target market and how your product or service will benefit them. What problem does it solve, how will it help them overcome obstacles or do their jobs better? Many businesses miss the boat by focusing on features instead of benefits. By shifting your focus to providing content that focuses on your customers’ needs you can start helping and stop selling.

Creating customer personas is helpful to provide insights about your current and future customers, what’s meaningful to them, and gives you a roadmap of the kind of content you can create and share to provide added value.

2. Consistently work to improve customer satisfaction

Although the debate over whether the customer is always right (or not!) continues, lack of customer satisfaction is a sure-fire way to keep people from coming back.

Soliciting honest feedback through surveys on a regular basis allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ needs in their journey with your business and is also an opportunity to monitor your brand’s identity in the marketplace.

Free survey tools like Survey MonkeyKwikSurveys and SurveyPlanet offer easy-to-use templates and unlimited responses to ensure you can collect feedback and create an action plan based on the results.

3. Implement marketing models into your strategy

As you’re searching for ways to create added value, the use of popular marketing models can help your strategy take shape.

For small and medium businesses, the Four Cs model, Brand Essence Wheel, and SWOT Analysis tool will help you develop your brand’s value statement, define your unique selling point, and even forecast customer demands based on market trends.

4. Develop a memorable customer experience

Businesses with unforgettable customer experiences are more likely to benefit from word-of-mouth referrals, positive online reviews, and higher retention rates.

When getting started, you’ll need to consider all touch points of your business, from initial lead capture to post-purchase communication and how to properly maximize the added value for the customer throughout the process.

Building a customer experience also allows you to develop relationships with your customers so you can connect on levels that go past simply getting the sale.

Most importantly, memorable customer experience models aim to deliver unexpected intangible value that cannot be packaged or sold. This includes personalized service, attention to detail, and showing a sense of urgency to address concerns as they arise.

5. Never underestimate the value of free resources

Whether it’s a free guide, a printable PDF, or a company branded calendar, free resources are a great way to create added value and showcase your brand’s ability to offer ‘a little something extra’ to customers.

Free resources can also serve as useful tools to help grow a small business’s brand awareness and expose your target market to various products and services.

For brick and mortar stores, consider promotional materials featuring your company’s logo that can be given out in-store. Businesses with an online presence can use a customized sign up form to encourage visitors to sign up to hear more about special offers and promotions.

Remember, although you may be offering something for free, it still needs to have relevance to your market and should always be consistent with your brand’s overall purpose.

These five tips will help you think about a few ways you can add value now and in the future for your prospects and customers. What other methods do you use to add value for your customers? Let us know in a comment below.

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.

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29 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 09:19

Looking for ways to grow your email list? There are a ton of ways to get people to sign up for your email marketing offers. I’ve put together a list for you to read, so you have heaps of options for growing your list.

  1. Include a link to your email sign up form in the main navigation bar of your website and/or blog. (Or better yet, include a sign up form in the main navigation bar).
  2. Create a “sign up” call to action on your Facebook business page.
  3. Create enticing visuals encouraging people to sign up for your list, and post them on various social media channels (especially Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn).
  4. Attend or exhibit at a trade show or networking event and bring an email sign up clipboard or book (or go high tech and bring an iPad or mobile device) with you. Ask each person you meet to sign up, or ask for permission to send an email. Do the same for any business cards you may receive.
  5. Include a link to your email sign up form in your personal email signature.
  6. Place a newsletter sign-up clipboard next to every register if you have a brick and mortar location. Have your employees mention the newsletter and emphasize the benefits (exclusive discounts, events, educational info, reminders, etc.)
  7. Join your local chamber of commerce, email the member list (if it’s opt-in) about your services, and include a link to sign up for your newsletter.
  8. Host your own event. Art galleries, software companies (one here has a party every quarter and invites the neighboring businesses), retail shops, consultants (lunch & learn) can all host an event and request attendees to sign up.
  9. Offer a birthday email club, and give something special to those who sign up.
  10. Incentivize your employees. Give them financial rewards for collecting valid email addresses.
  11. Give something away like samples, a tour, a consultation, a free how-to guide, infographic, how-to video, etc. Have people sign up for your email list to qualify.
  12. Get referrals. Ask your customers to refer you and your email list, and in exchange, give them a discount.
  13. Use Pinterest! Here’s a step-by-step guide to building your email list with Pinterest.
  14. Make and upload videos to YouTube, then include a link at the end of every video directing people to your online sign up form.
  15. Post your sign-up form page on LinkedIn and sponsor it.
  16. Send a postcard. Have a list of postal addresses without emails? Send a direct mail offer that can be redeemed when the recipient signs up for your email list.
  17. Include a link to the email sign up form in your Twitter business profile description. Here’s how to edit your Twitter profile.
  18. Use a Popup (the good kind). When someone attempts to leave your site, display a popup window and ask for the email address. Use a tool like Popup Domination, which uses technology to determine when someone’s about to leave your site.
  19. Include a forward-to-a-friend link in all your emails.
  20. Use a hosted sign up form landing page.
  21. Create a tab on your business Facebook page and include an email sign up form.
  22. Offer “Email only” discounts and mention them on your sign up form page and on social. Don’t use those offers anywhere but email.
  23. Ask people over the phone. If people call your business for whatever reason, don’t hang up until you’ve asked if you can add them to your newsletter.
  24. Put a fishbowl on your counter, ask for business cards and permission to sign up for your email list, then do a weekly prize giveaway of your product and announce it in your newsletter.
  25. Post a photo of an item or an offer to giveaway on Instagram. Then, include a link in your Instagram bio asking people to sign up to participate in the giveaway.
  26. Include a call to action, a link and/or a sign up form at the end of every blog post you write.
  27. Add a link or sign up form in the footer, and/or side bar of your website.
  28. Create a Twitter lead generation card to advertise and gain sign ups for your email newsletter.
  29. Include a link or sign up form on your company’s “about us” page.

Bonus: Optimize your site for appropriate SEO keywords, and ensure your business is on appropriate online listings. You want to appear at the top of (natural) search results when people are looking for your products or services. This will help get your business and your email sign up form found.

Have any additional ideas?  Let’s hear them in the comments below.

Need more ideas for your next email? Check out our list 50 email ideas.

Send effective emails today using VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 email contacts.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in September 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.

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Google Changes Search Ranking, Favors Mobile-Friendly Websites

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 09:33

Mobile-friendly websites will soon become more important for businesses than ever. Google recently announced a ranking signal change that will favor mobile-friendly websites in search results. Is your website responsive

The change, influenced by increasing mobile Internet usage, will allow people to more easily discover relevant, device optimized, and high quality search results. Last year, Shopify reported that mobile accounted for 50.3 percent of ecommerce traffic (40.3% mobile, 10% from tablets), beating out computers. 

The search engine giant stated the change will occur on April 21, and “will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact” on search results.

What to do about the new changes:

Additional resources

To learn more about search engine optimization, Google Webmaster Tools, or mobile-friendly websites, check out our blog posts and guides:

While this news doesn’t affect your email marketing campaigns, new VerticalResponse email templates are fully responsive and mobile-friendly.

What do you think of Google’s latest mobile-friendly website favoring search ranking change?

To receive more tips like this, subscribe to the VerticalResponse weekly email 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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Build Customer Trust by Sending These 6 Emails

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 09:32

When sending emails to your current and potential customers, it’s important to remember that not every point of contact should be a push to sell your products or services. Building business relationships starts with building trust from the very first email. So, how do you build trust? By respecting your readers’ time, offering expert advice and tips, sharing things that benefit your customer and being honest.

Need some examples? Here are six emails that help build customer trust.

1. Welcome email

As your first contact with a new subscriber, your welcome email is handshake; make sure it’s warm and inviting. Keep it short. You want to welcome them, thank them for signing up, introduce your business and tell them how often they’ll hear from you.

You can also include a few bullet points about what they’ll be receiving in terms of email content. Be sure to ask your recipient to “whitelist” you by adding your email address to their address book.

To see examples, check out this post: 10 Examples of Highly Effective Welcome Emails.

2. Alert emails

Consider sending alert emails when appropriate. For example, if you’re an allergist, you could send an alert email about the high pollen count in your area. A travel company can send weather alerts. If you ship products to your customers, send an alert with an estimated arrival date. Alert emails are timely and informational. It’s an effective way to keep your customers in the loop, which builds your relationship. 

3. Newsletters ­

With every newsletter you send, you educate your audience about your business while building trust at the same time. The purpose of your newsletter isn’t to sell, but to inform. Tell your audience about recent changes, highlight an exceptional employee and mention upcoming events. You can include all sorts of content in your newsletter.

Get in the habit of sending your newsletter on a regular basis so customers come to expect it. Newsletters are like lunch dates. These digital meetings give you and your contact a chance to catch up. 

4. Oops emails

Did you make a mistake? If so, admit it. Apologize for sending out the wrong deal, an inaccurate fact, or a broken link. It’s an opportunity to build trust. Admit your mistake and explain how you’ll correct the problem in the future. Here’s an example:

5. Educational emails

Remind your readers why you’re their go-to expert by sending out short articles, videos or infographics that are of interest to them. According to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, industry experts are twice as credible as CEOs. So make the most of your opportunity to impress clients (and earn their trust!) with your knowledge and expertise.

6. Freebie emails

If your business or service is giving something away, let your audience know about it via email. We’re talking about no-catch free stuff (or services). For example, a landscaping service might give away 20 tickets to the Home & Garden Show. You could give away free memberships or a free consultation for services, many B2B companies giveaway free content like ebooks or whitepapers. 

What kind of emails do you send to build trust with your subscribers? Share in the comments section below. 

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.

Build trust by emailing through VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 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 Build Customer Trust by Sending These 6 Emails appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

25 Comical Subject Lines + Tips for Funny Writing

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 09:00

Want a dependable way to engage your subscribers and get them to open your emails? Make ‘em laugh. A humorous subject line is a great motivator.

So, how do you write funny subject lines? Since hiring Jerry Seinfeld or Tina Fey is probably out of the question, you’ll have to channel your own inner comedian. Don’t worry; we’ll help you find your funny bone. We have four tips to help you create chuckle-worthy subject lines.

Before we start, here are some funny subject lines to use as inspiration:

  • Groupon: Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)
  • Eater Boston: Where to Drink Beer Right Now (Sent at 6:45am on a Wednesday)
  • Fabletics: Your Butt Will Look Great in These Workout Pants
  • Customer Surveys: Baby Got (Feed)back
  • Edgevale: Get In Our Pants
  • UrbanDaddy: You’ve Changed
  • Influitive: So I’ll pick you up at 7?
  • BloomThat: Better than a pumpkin spice latte!
  • Gap: Mondays are suddenly AWESOME
  • The Bold Italic: You’re Invited to a Wedding Expo that Doesn’t Suck!
  • Pop Physique: Get Ready. Keep the Pie Off Your Thighs Returns.
  • The Muse: We Like Being Used
  • BuzzFeed: Yes, We’re Still Talking About Kim Kardashian’s Butt
  • Movember: Growing a Moustache Can Change the World
  • Groupon: There are no deals in this email
  • Warby Parker: Pairs nicely with spreadsheets
  • Sublime Stitching: Bummed you missed out? Console yourself…
  • NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences: Show Us Yours and We’ll Show You Ours
  • VerticalResponse: Happy Procrastination Day… Yesterday (We had to include one of our own.)
  • Fetter’s Chocolate: Of Course These Decadent Chocolates Have Limited Calories
  • Baby Bump: Yes, I’m Pregnant. You Can Stop Staring At My Belly Now.
  • BuzzFeed: How’d You Get So Weird?
  • WorkLife: Everyone Hates The Boss. Learn How to Smile Through It.
  • Benefit Cosmetics: Do you like to watch?
  • Francis Ford Coppola Winery: Forget Black Friday – Enjoy Wine Weekend

Tips for writing amusing subject lines:

1. Connect things that don’t go together

To get subscribers to crack a smile and click open on your email, try combining two things that may not necessarily fit together. The “Growing a Moustache Can Change the World,” subject line is a good example. 

Try to pair your product or service with something out of the ordinary. For example, an online retailer could connect hip trends to the older generation. A subject line like, “Ten Trendy Dresses Even Your Grandmother Would Approve Of,” could get smile from your readers. 

2. Use movies and song titles

Draw inspiration from movie quotes, song titles and infamous TV moments. The Customer Surveys email with the “Baby Got (Feed)back” subject line is a great example.

Think of movies that relate to your business, or famous quotes that you could incorporate into your subject line. For example, a dating service could weave the movie title, He’s Just Not That Into You, into a subject line. A bar could use the famous, “Of all the gin joints” line from Casablanca. A spa service could use Seinfeld’s “Serenity Now!” in a subject line.

3. Keep an eye on celebrity happenings

If you’re not into celebrity gossip, we won’t force you to read tabloids, but celebrities are always good for a faux pas here and there. From fashion fails on the red carpet to odd occurrences like Charlie Sheen’s “Winning” rant, Hollywood can provide material for a subject line or two.

4. Be blunt

Sometimes stating the obvious is funny. People tend to skirt some issues and sugarcoat others to avoid hurt feelings, but it’s okay to be brutally honest on occasion as long is it’s appropriate for your biz. The subject line from WorkLife, “Everyone Hates The Boss. Learn How to Smile Through It,” is a good example. 

Try something similar with your business. For example, a travel agent could say, “Winter Sucks. Let ABC Travel Agent Take You Away.” Accountants can play up how awful paying taxes is; a snow removal service can talk about the burden of shoveling snow. Tell your audience the brutal truth and explain how your business can help.

A few words of caution

Humorous subject lines have a lot of benefits, but there are a few rules you’ll want to stick to.

  • Don’t be offensive

If you take a joke too far, you can offend your audience. If you think your subject line is borderline offensive, don’t send it. Since humor is subjective, it’s always a good idea to run your subject line by another colleague to make sure you’re not crossing the line.

  • Don’t stray from your company’s voice

You’ve worked hard to create a voice and tone for your brand. That voice can certainly have a dash of humor, but don’t stray too far. Keep your voice true to your brand.

  • Humor is just another tool

As always, you want your email content and subject lines to be diverse. In other words, you don’t have to make your contacts laugh with every email. It’s just another tactic to have in your marketing toolbox.

Tell us some of your favorite funny subject lines 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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Instagram Releases New Visual Storytelling Ad Format

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 14:21

Instagram’s latest advertising option, carousel ads, allows businesses to resonate with others through the power of visual storytelling.

The new ad format, similar to Facebook’s multi-product ads, displays several sequenced photos with links in one sponsored Instagram post. Based on feedback from both businesses and the Instagram community, the new format was created to give users more information about a brand, and businesses more meaningful results.

In Instagram’s recent blog post, they compared the new carousel ads to multi-page print campaigns:

“One way to look at it is carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones – with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. For instance, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a ‘look.’ A car company might share an array of different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model. Or, an advertiser could showcase how multiple ingredients come together to make a delicious meal.”

Interested users can swipe left to view more photos, or uninterested users can simply scroll past the ad in their feed.

The new ad format is being introduced on a limited basis, and will be rolling out in Instagram feeds in the coming weeks for testing.

Here’s a video shared by Instagram displaying how the ads will appear:

What do you think of the new Instagram carousel ads? Will you be adding them to your list of social media marketing tactics to try? Let us know 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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