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4 ‘Royal’ Tips for Using Trending Topics in Your Social Posts

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 06:00

Are you on royal baby watch? It seems the social media world is abuzz with news and updates about Kate Middleton and Prince William’s second baby, which is due in April. Some savvy business owners are using this trending topic to promote their business on social media.

It’s a common social media tactic. By connecting your product or service to a popular topic on social media you can expand your reach beyond your core audience.

You don’t need to sell baby gear to make the #RoyalBaby marketing moment work for your business. Take a look at some of the social posts below. These businesses make a connection between their brand and the upcoming addition to the royal family.

Of course, you can use any trending topics to promote your business, not just the royal baby. Here are four ways to use trending topics to boost your business on social media:

1. Capitalize on pop culture

Check the “trending” sidebars on Facebook and Twitter to see what people are talking about. The “trending” sidebar serves as a great idea bank.

However, you should always investigate why a particular topic is trending. If you don’t, you could post something that’s inappropriate or insensitive.

2. Find a joke that’s already popular and make it your own

Recently there was a social dust up over a gold/white vs. blue/black dress. When something like this creates a buzz, use it to your advantage. For example, a flooring company posted this, “Whatever color you see in #thedress we have a carpet to match.”

3. Use popular hashtags to draw in your target market

Keep an eye on hot hashtags and create posts around them. For example, when the Oscars were on TV, a restaurant posted this, “Let #Schlotzskys cater your #Oscars viewing party.” 

4. Make a humorous meme

Take a trend and put your own spin on it by creating a meme. Turn to sites like imgflip to make your own humorous card for social media. Grumpy Cat, for example, is still popular. An accountant could use the premade cat template in imgflip and add the text, “Taxes can put anyone in a bad mood. Use ABC Accountants to make sure you walk away happy.” 

With a little creativity, you can cash in on social media trends. From the royal baby to Grumpy Cat, there are plenty of ways to incorporate trending topics in your posts. Share a trending post from your site in the comment 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.

Send trending topic emails via VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 email contacts.

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

The post 4 ‘Royal’ Tips for Using Trending Topics in Your Social Posts appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Satori Yoga Uses Email Marketing to Connect with Clients Beyond the Mat

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 06:00

For Andrea Stern, a career in human resources led her to realize that she wanted to help office workers and professionals in a different way. She left the corporate world more than 10 years ago and opened the doors to Satori Yoga, a yoga, Pilates and massage studio located in the heart of San Francisco’s Financial District. With nearly 20 instructors, Satori has grown to become a sought-after destination for downtown office dwellers seeking an hour or two of mindfulness and stress reduction before returning to their busy workday. (Check out the video below!)

Creating a mental and physical space that feels connected and empowered is a basic yoga tenet, and Andrea uses email marketing to build and maintain a strong sense of community with her clients. A VerticalResponse customer for 10 years (since its beginnings), Satori sends an email newsletter every month, in addition to email marketing campaigns that introduce and promote new classes, special workshops and instructors.

Recently, the studio relocated to a newer, more expansive space, and Stern says email was critical in communicating changes in class schedules due to the move, as well as when the studio would be closed and re-opened at the new location.

We recently stopped by Satori Yoga during a popular lunch-hour Vinyasa class to chat with Stern and check out the new space!

Check out even more customers who use email to grow their business, like S&S Brand and the Epicurean Connection.

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 Satori Yoga Uses Email Marketing to Connect with Clients Beyond the Mat appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Steps to Achieving Initial Email Marketing Success

Mon, 03/30/2015 - 09:29

It’s time to rev up your marketing engine. To make sure your marketing efforts stay ahead of the competition, we’re going to give you the blueprints to a high performance engine. This engine combines three major components: sign up forms, emails and social media marketing.

In four easy steps, we’ll show you how these tactics can work together to maximize your marketing efforts and and keep you one step ahead of your competition. 

1. Make sure your website has an email sign up form

You can collect email addresses in a variety of places, but your website should be one of them. New visitors come to your site every day, which gives you the ability to capture a lot of email addresses as people visit your site.

If you’re using VerticalResponse, you can quickly and easily add a sign up form to your site. You can use the sign up form as a landing page or embed the form on your site. When a new contact signs up, we’ll automatically add it to your email list. It’s that simple. It’s a free service for our customers. 

Other third party websites like PopUp Domination offer a similar service, but you have to pay for a yearly plan.

2. Welcome new contacts

Once email addresses start coming in, it’s time to get down to email business. You want to reach out to your new contacts immediately. First, you’ll want to send a welcome email. This email should, of course, welcome your new subscribers, reiterate the benefits of your email list and encourage subscribers to visit your website or physical location.

We have several helpful articles that can help you create effective welcome emails:

3. Use email to keep your contacts informed and engaged

After sending a welcome email, you can customize your email marketing to fit your business. You should send a variety of emails to your subscribers to keep them informed and engaged.

Two of the most common questions that we’re asked about email marketing are:

Let’s start with question #1. An email can be about anything. From promotional offers to email invitations, you can send an email about any relevant topic that your subscribers are interested in. Here are a few ideas:

  • Send a newsletter that updates your audience about your business
  • Tell subscribers about a new product or service that you’re offering
  • Invite subscribers to an open house, customer appreciation sale or other event
  • Offer a deal, discount, coupon or free consultation
  • Provide useful tips that show subscribers how to use your product better
  • Provide educational content that’s of interest to your audience
  • Send emails that encourage readers to check out a new blog post
  • Share business updates or improvements via email
  • Send emails that offer holiday cheer
  • Send an email that celebrates a business milestone like an anniversary

Now, on to question #2. Deciding when to send emails can be tricky. Every audience is different. However, we can offer a few a tips:

  • Try sending emails on the weekends. According to a report by Experian, Saturdays and Sundays see a slightly higher open and clickthrough rate than those sent on weekdays.
  • Mondays and Fridays are the most effective weekdays to send emails, according to the same report.
  • The report also shows that email recipients are active at night. You might consider scheduling your emails to send between 4pm and midnight.

Of course, you’ll want to keep an eye on your metrics to see what works best for your business. Try a few tests. For example, segment your list into two, send the same email to both groups on the same day but at different times and see which one performs better. Check your open rates and click-throughs to see what time is best for your audience. 

4. Reinforce your communication through social media

After sending emails, get in the habit of sharing that same message via social media. (VerticalResponse makes this easy, with a click of a button you can share your email on social media).

For example, if you just invited guests to an upcoming event, you can turn to Twitter and Facebook to invite guests too. As the event gets closer, you can send reminder emails and post similar updates on your social sites.

By collecting more email addresses through a sign up form, reaching out to those contacts via email and leveraging your social media channels, you’re using multiple channels to reach your audience. In return, your business is more visible and customers are more engaged. Hopefully, by assembling this souped-up marketing engine you’ll see an increase in your bottom line as you cross the finish line. 

Create a free sign up form and send up to email to up to 1,000 contacts 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 4 Steps to Achieving Initial Email Marketing Success appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Product-Selling Email Subject Line Tips for Retailers

Sat, 03/28/2015 - 09:36

Emails that are designed to sell need an attention-grabbing subject line. You must pique a customer’s curiosity. Once your email is opened, you can sell your product by directing them to your website or social media pages.

Get that cash register ringing by using these five email subject line tips specifically for retailers (though they can be tweaked for use by other industries).

1. Show a sense of urgency

Your subject lines should get customers to open your email immediately. To do so, you want to use urgent language. Motivate them to open the email now or risk missing out on something special. (Learn more about creating a sense of urgency in this recent post).

Here are a few ways to create a sense of urgency:

  • Set a deadline. For example, create a sale that only lasts for 24 hours and use a subject line like, “For the next 24 hours only, take 25 percent off your purchase.”
  • Use active language. Use phrases like “act now” or “take advantage of this great deal today.”

A great example from Neiman Marcus shows both of these tips in action. The subject line for an upcoming sale reads, “Only Hours Remain! Free Beauty Event Tote + Bonus Points.” This subject lines includes an incentive as well, which we’ll talk about next.

2. Offer an incentive

Want to motivate customers to buy? Offer a can’t-resist incentive. A great deal is an incentive, but you can always sweeten the deal by offering a gift with a purchase, an addition to a loyalty program that you offer or tickets to an upcoming event.

3. Ask a question

A subject line with a question can encourage subscribers to think about the answer, or get the answer by opening your email.

Here are a few tips:

  • The question should be open-ended
  • The question should be intriguing
  • The answer should be revealed in the email
  • Keep your subject line question to 50 characters so it’s doesn’t get cut off in the inbox preview

Take a look at this subject line from ShopBop. In this subject line the retailer asks, “Who’s our latest style muse?” The question is open-ended, intriguing, short and answered in the email. 

4. Solve a problem

What problem does your product solve? Share it with your subscribers in the subject line. Your email recipients will pay more attention to your email if you can solve a common problem for them. For example, a subject line that reads, “Cut your yard work in half with this new mower” is a great problem-solver.

5. Use the word “you”

When you can, refer to customers as “you” in your subject lines. It gives the email a friendly, more conversational tone. Plus, it forces you to focus on customer benefits. For example, a subject line that reads, “Are you ready for the most relaxing spa day?” is friendly and geared toward the customer. In comparison, a subject line that reads, “We’re offering spa packages” isn’t inviting or customer-centered.

Here are some other email subject lines using some of these tips to inspire you:

1. Neiman Marcus: Up to 65% off! Midday Dash
2. Anthropologie: Twirl alert! 20% off all dresses
3. Victoria’s Secret: Ends tomorrow! Free ship + returns on swim
4. Destination Maternity: Stop wasting time at the store, try this new app
5. PLNDR: Tonight Only! Take An Extra 35% Off Must-Have Tees.
6. #InstaKors: Have You Tried It Yet?
7. Nike: Two Days Only: Save an Extra 20%
8. Brooks Brothers: Open an account and save 25%
9. Rebox: Want the perfect movie to watch with your Valentine?
10. Mixbook: New themes you’ll love

For more subject line inspiration, check out this list of 50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines.

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 5 Product-Selling Email Subject Line Tips for Retailers appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

3 Ways to Set Your Customers Up for Sending Success

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 14:47

Offering email marketing to your customers provides you the ability to generate incremental revenue and grow your own business. Your VerticalResponse partner dashboard can assist these efforts. Whether you handle all the email marketing for your customers, or let them take the reins with their campaigns, use these three actionable tips to help your customers successfully send their email marketing campaigns. 

1. Keep tabs on new sign-ups

Before customers can send emails, they need to verify their account via a confirmation email we send. Check your new sign-ups on a weekly basis to ensure they’ve verified their accounts. Customers are most engaged during the first 3 to 7 days after signing up.

If you notice any sign-ups that aren’t verified, follow-up with a reminder. Taking this action will ensure you don’t miss any opportunities to generate revenue from your new sign-ups.

2. Check the Activities Report

The Activities Report tells you if an account has signed up and is using the system by providing the date the last email campaign was sent. Check your customers’ email drafts by logging into their account and reviewing their email history.

Did they create a draft, but haven’t sent it? If customers have signed up, but haven’t sent an email, perhaps they’re having trouble using the system or maybe they need some email design tips to create an eye-catching email.

We have helpful tutorials and a VIP support team (vip@verticalresponse.com) to help your customers get their email marketing campaigns off the ground and into the inbox.

3. Review your customers’ sending history

Look for any red flags, such as a decrease in email send frequency or a halt in email sends altogether. If you see this, contact your customers to find out why their sending patterns have changed. Are your customers only seasonal senders? Make sure they’re staying top-of-mind during the off-season by touching base with their customers. Are they getting the results they expected? There’s always room for improvement!

Whatever the reason, take this opportunity to help your customers understand how they can use email marketing to grow their business and get better results from their email campaigns.

Whether your customers need a simple reminder to verify their account, or fresh ideas to expand the variety of emails they’re sending, we’re here to help you be the expert. With these 3 tips, you’ll keep your customers sending email.

Want more email marketing tips? Sign up for our weekly email newsletter.

Written by Desmond Perrotto, Partner Training Manager at 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 3 Ways to Set Your Customers Up for Sending Success appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

6 Tips for Creating Compelling Email Subject Lines

Fri, 03/27/2015 - 06:00

Thousands of emails flow through the Internet every day. That’s why it’s critical to have a compelling email subject line. In this video, our email pros highlight six email subject line writing tips to help your subject lines stand out in your subscribers’ inboxes.

For more subject line inspiration, check out the 50 All-Time Greatest Subject Lines.

© 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 for Creating Compelling Email Subject Lines appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Cheap and Cheerful Ways to Promote Your Retail Business

Thu, 03/26/2015 - 06:00

You’ve got a retail business, but do potential customers know it exists? Television spots, billboards, radio and magazine ads can add up quickly and are out of reach for most small businesses. How can you get the word out without breaking the bank? Here are 5 effective ways to promote your retail business on a budget.

1) List Building

List building means developing an internal list of your customers’ contact information so you reach out to them with the information they’ve asked to receive from you. Whether you send an email newsletter, offers, promotions, event invitations or other forms of communication, using a sign up form on your website, your blog and on social media is an effective way to capture contact information that you can use to provide a great customer experience by giving your subscribers the content they want.

Grab our list of the 50 All-Time Greatest Retail Subject Lines that you can try out the next time you send an email to your audience.

2) Public Relations

Public relations, commonly known as PR, is the act of promoting your business by sharing interesting, note-worthy stories in hopes the media will pick up and share your story to a broader audience. You can hire a PR agency to help you tease out what stories to tell, write the press releases and distribute them to the media or you can identify the stories, write the press releases and distribute the press releases on your own.

Use this list of 7 Tools to Get Free Publicity for Your Business to help.

3) Partnerships

A partnership is establishing a symbiotic relationship with another business or charitable entity. Developing a partnership with a complementary business or charity can benefit both parties. It gives you an opportunity to expand your business’ reach to a complementary group of customers and potentially increase sales. Think about ways you can leverage another business and both benefit.

A good example is a group of retailers getting together to host a block party where customers get a discount at all participating vendors. Another example is a clothing retailer pairing up with a jewelry or accessory vendor and hosting a trunk show.

4) Social Media

Social media is a natural avenue for promoting your retail business. It’s free and easy to set up, but it does require a plan and time to manage and do well. Remember not to serve up overly promotional posts, especially on Facebook.

Also remember that you don’t have to be everywhere. Focus on a few social networks that best serve your business goals and then expand from there as it makes sense. As a retailer, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram are good bets.

5) SEO

Search engine optimization is the discipline of affecting the natural search engine ranking or visibility of your website. Retailers can positively affect SEO by crafting their website and content to focus on targeted and related keywords that potential customers may search.

Check out these 8 Easy SEO Tools Everyone Should Use to set you on the right path.

What other low cost methods do you use to promote your retail business?

Use VerticalResponse to send out email newsletters offers and invitations for free.

Editor’s note: The original version of this post was published by Bags & Bows and was written by Sara Summers. The post has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

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

The post 5 Cheap and Cheerful Ways to Promote Your Retail Business appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

A VR Blog Post Test

Wed, 03/25/2015 - 09:30

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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

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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 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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