VerticalResponse Marketing Blog

Subscribe to VerticalResponse Marketing Blog feed
Reach Your Customers with Email and Social Media Marketing
Updated: 5 hours 23 min ago

New Feature: Email List Segmentation [Phase 2]

Fri, 10/23/2015 - 06:01

In Phase 2 of our list segmentation feature, you can now take your campaign activity-based engagement efforts to the next level. 

As a refresher, remember that Phase 1 introduced our Advanced Search Tool, which allows you to segment your lists using basic parameters including: ‘People who opened’, ‘People who clicked’, ‘All emails’ and three different standard time frames. 

 

 

Since then, we’ve been toiling away to advance your search efforts a bit further and have now introduced ‘Use Cases’, which will allow you to find all contacts on your list(s) using more targeted, personalized parameters for each audience. 


New advanced Use Cases search parameters include: 

  • Location (Country, State, City, or Zip Code)
  • Birthday (day, month or year) or Age
  • Phone number 

 

Location

When searching by state for example, segment all customers on your list using the parameters ‘State is’, ‘State is not’, ‘State starts with’, or ‘State contains’

 

  

Use this segment type for geo-targeted promos to send a free shipping offer or promotional starter pack to audiences in select regions. 

 

 

Birthday

Offering the ability to search by day, month, or year, you can now easily find all customers born within a specific time frame such as ‘November’ or on ‘January 21’. 

 

 Send your customers a ‘Happy Birthday’ shout out email or coupon on their special day with this use case.

 

 

Phone Number

If you’re planning an in-store focus group and want to reach your customers quickly, use ‘Phone Number’ segmentation to search by ‘Home’, ‘Work’, ‘Mobile’ or ‘ Fax’. 

 

You can use area code digits specifically, or search by any digits in their number. 

 

To get an even better understanding of Phase 2 of List Segmentation, click on the video below to see a demo of three quick examples of the expanded functionality.

Use Cases segmentation is available to freemium and paid accounts. 

 

© 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 New Feature: Email List Segmentation [Phase 2] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Get a Responsive Website Design With These 5 Tips

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 07:16

How does your website look on a tablet or smartphone? An increasing number of customers are using mobile devices to browse, shop and engage with brands, with almost half (48 percent) of Google traffic coming from mobile users.

If your website doesn’t look sharp on mobile, you’re not alone. Of the top 10,000 websites tested for responsive design, just 18.7 percent had responsive websites, up from 11 percent in 2014.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. The answer is responsive website design. This type of design, which resizes text and images to fit on whatever device is used, is the ideal design for small businesses.

Responsive design has another benefit too. Search engines like Google and Bing give a higher ranking to sites with responsive design.

Ready to switch to a responsive design? Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Verify your website

Is your website already responsive? To find out, use an online tool like Responsive Design Checker or Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, to see how your website looks on various devices. If your website passes these checks, then you can sit back and relax. Otherwise, you need to consider upgrading to a responsive design.

2. Figure out your current design

The next step is to understand the design of your current website. Why? In the same way you can’t use Apple software on Windows systems, you also cannot add new features unless you know what methods were used to design your original website. A WordPress solution will only work on WordPress sites and not on other platforms, for example.

A useful online tool, Built With, can solve this problem. It identifies what was used to build your website. With this knowledge, you can go to that particular builder and investigate responsive design options. For example, if you find out your site is built with WordPress, you can explore responsive design features for WordPress that you can add to your existing site.

3. Purchase a website theme

DIY platforms like WordPress allow you to add pages from a user dashboard. Go to your site builder’s main page, or check out sites like Themeforest or Entheos to find a theme that you like. You can choose a responsive design through a new website theme.

Sometimes incorrectly classified as website templates, a website theme changes the appearance of your website. From an easy-to-use set of tools, you can select a layout, tweak pre-existing page templates and select fonts and color schemes.

Responsive website themes will make every page, post and image on your site look great on every device.

4. Purchase a plug in

If working on a new website theme is too time consuming, you can opt for a plugin. It’s not available for every website, but again, you’ll want to visit your site builder’s website to see if it’s an option for you. WordPress, for example, has plugins for responsive design.

A plugin is the cheapest and fastest solution of all, but it’s not as feature-packed as responsive themes. For example, they may not resize images to fit smaller screens (perhaps producing a text-only web page on smartphones) but are a quick and cheerful solution if needed.

For WordPress, popular plugin solutions include WPtouch and Websitez.com but there are many others.

5. Try a new website template

If you do not like the look of your existing website and aren’t using a DIY platform, you can buy a responsive design template from a site like TemplateMonster and Webflow.

Templates can be difficult to install. You’ll need some coding and development knowledge, so if that’s not in your wheelhouse it’s probably not worth your time investment.

Buying a website template is still cheaper than hiring a website developer, but if you don’t have the required skills, spending money on a developer will be more efficient in the long run.

Whatever solution you decide to go with, verify that your site is mobile-friendly by checking it once again with a responsive design checker.

Learn more about responsive design and how it impacts your site by watching this video.

 

Michael O’Dwyer is a freelance technology and business journalist in Hong Kong. He’s written for Forbes, The Street, Tech Page One and Midsize Insider.

© 2015, Vertical Response 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 Get a Responsive Website Design With These 5 Tips appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Get a Responsive Website Design With These 5 Tips

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 07:16

How does your website look on a tablet or smartphone? An increasing number of customers are using mobile devices to browse, shop and engage with brands, with almost half (48 percent) of Google traffic coming from mobile users.

If your website doesn’t look sharp on mobile, you’re not alone. Of the top 10,000 websites tested for responsive design, just 18.7 percent had responsive websites, up from 11 percent in 2014.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution. The answer is responsive website design. This type of design, which resizes text and images to fit on whatever device is used, is the ideal design for small businesses.

Responsive design has another benefit too. Search engines like Google and Bing give a higher ranking to sites with responsive design.

Ready to switch to a responsive design? Here are five tips to get you started:

1. Verify your website

Is your website already responsive? To find out, use an online tool like Responsive Design Checker or Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, to see how your website looks on various devices. If your website passes these checks, then you can sit back and relax. Otherwise, you need to consider upgrading to a responsive design.

2. Figure out your current design

The next step is to understand the design of your current website. Why? In the same way you can’t use Apple software on Windows systems, you also cannot add new features unless you know what methods were used to design your original website. A WordPress solution will only work on WordPress sites and not on other platforms, for example.

A useful online tool, Built With, can solve this problem. It identifies what was used to build your website. With this knowledge, you can go to that particular builder and investigate responsive design options. For example, if you find out your site is built with WordPress, you can explore responsive design features for WordPress that you can add to your existing site.

3. Purchase a website theme

DIY platforms like WordPress allow you to add pages from a user dashboard. Go to your site builder’s main page, or check out sites like Themeforest or Entheos to find a theme that you like. You can choose a responsive design through a new website theme.

Sometimes incorrectly classified as website templates, a website theme changes the appearance of your website. From an easy-to-use set of tools, you can select a layout, tweak pre-existing page templates and select fonts and color schemes.

Responsive website themes will make every page, post and image on your site look great on every device.

4. Purchase a plug in

If working on a new website theme is too time consuming, you can opt for a plugin. It’s not available for every website, but again, you’ll want to visit your site builder’s website to see if it’s an option for you. WordPress, for example, has plugins for responsive design.

A plugin is the cheapest and fastest solution of all, but it’s not as feature-packed as responsive themes. For example, they may not resize images to fit smaller screens (perhaps producing a text-only web page on smartphones) but are a quick and cheerful solution if needed.

For WordPress, popular plugin solutions include WPtouch and Websitez.com but there are many others.

5. Try a new website template

If you do not like the look of your existing website and aren’t using a DIY platform, you can buy a responsive design template from a site like TemplateMonster and Webflow.

Templates can be difficult to install. You’ll need some coding and development knowledge, so if that’s not in your wheelhouse it’s probably not worth your time investment.

Buying a website template is still cheaper than hiring a website developer, but if you don’t have the required skills, spending money on a developer will be more efficient in the long run.

Whatever solution you decide to go with, verify that your site is mobile-friendly by checking it once again with a responsive design checker.

Learn more about responsive design and how it impacts your site by watching this video.

 

Michael O’Dwyer is a freelance technology and business journalist in Hong Kong. He’s written for Forbes, The Street, Tech Page One and Midsize Insider.

© 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 Get a Responsive Website Design With These 5 Tips appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Even the Smallest Businesses Can Sink its Teeth into These 10 Branding Lessons from Apple

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 06:00

It’s difficult to imagine a more inspirational branding success story than Apple. Founded by two college dropout buddies who borrowed the money to build their first computers based on good faith and a promise, Apple is now America’s first $700 billion company. Moreover, it is one of the most recognized, respected and iconic brands in the world.

Your small business may never achieve billion-dollar revenues – and you may not even want it to – but you do want your brand to be as trusted and vital to your customers as Apple is to practically the whole world. Fortunately, many of the brand-building lessons you can draw from Apple’s 40-year rise are as relevant to your small business as they are to a huge, multi-national corporation.

The benefits of branding for small businesses

In many ways, your small business brand is – or should be – no different from Apple’s. It should encompass everything the public knows and thinks about your company, including the level of customer service you deliver, your reputation, how you communicate with customers, and your “look.”

Your logo design and website design are intrinsic to your brand identity, and so is the signage outside every location, the uniform your employees wear, and how they address your customers. All these aspects of your business are as fundamental to building your brand identity as your marketing and advertising efforts are.

Successful small business branding means all these parts work together to create a cohesive, positive, engaging and useful identity in the minds of your customers. Without a strong and clear brand identity, even businesses with great products and excellent customer service will struggle to succeed.

Good branding yields countless benefits. It helps you win new customers and solidify your identity with current ones, supports your advertising and marketing goals, inspires your employees, increases your corporate recognition and builds financial value.

Identifying those successful branding qualities in Apple is easy. Small businesses can borrow many of Apple’s tactics to build their powerful brand identity.

Here are 10 lessons from Apple that you can apply to your small business branding efforts.

1. Leverage emotion to build brand identity.

Steve Jobs once said that “The chance to make a memory is the essence of brand marketing.” Good branding engages emotions, not just reason, and builds on that connection to create a memorable identity. Branding succeeds when it sparks a positive emotional resonance within consumers. Customers are far more likely to remember – and purchase – products and services that make them feel good.

Apple famously did this in the mid-1990s. The company’s popularity had waned; its brand recognition was low and its reputation poor. Under Jobs’ leadership, Apple launched an advertising campaign that featured heroes – both living and gone – whose passion and convictions had altered the world in a significant way. The heroes evoked an emotional response in the viewers, and the subtext of the ads made it clear that Apple was a company that was passionate about world-changing innovation.

2. Know who you are.

It’s difficult to establish a brand identity if you’re unsure what yours should be. Jobs said Apple’s branding addressed the question of “What are we here to do?” The answer to that question informed not only the company’s marketing and advertising, but every aspect of its corporate culture and its interactions with consumers.

What is your company’s mission? You must first define for yourself what your company wants to be, and then find ways to clearly and consistently communicate that identity to consumers. Define your story and use reliable marketing tools to share your story with consumers.

3. Consistency is key.

Do you remember “New Coke”? It faced many challenges, not the least among them was that the new product came in a new package that diverged sharply from the brand’s iconic script. Combined with the fact that virtually no one liked the taste of the new product, the lack of consistency in branding was one more nail in the coffin of New Coke.

Of course, if your visual brand identity isn’t working for you, it pays to engage in professional logo design and other rebranding tactics to find a better fit. But once you have an identity that meets your needs, it’s vital to stick with it. Changing your “look” or your approach too often undermines consumers’ understanding of who you are as a company.

In contrast, Apple consistently places a lower case “i” on new digital products – the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iWatch. This consistent application of a key branding component ensures that consumers can easily identify a new product as coming from Apple, even if they’ve not heard of it at all.

4. Differentiate yourself with real differences.

As a small business, you may be tempted to set yourself apart by undercutting your competitors’ prices. But that approach is not sustainable in the long term, nor does it do anything positive to improve your brand identity.

Instead, differentiate yourself as Apple did, through innovation, superior customer service, and marketing and advertising campaigns that engage consumers’ emotions. Apple’s success illustrates that people will pay a premium for products and services that offer substantive differences. Good branding means you ask a fair price for your product and services, and that you communicate to consumers the value suppositions that prove you deserve to get that price.

5. Find your niche and then take command of it.

Everyone is looking for that sweet spot where an unfilled need or desire leaves consumers primed to buy as soon as a good option presents itself. But identifying your niche isn’t enough. You must also take steps to ensure you emerge in consumers’ minds as the leading choice in your specialized area.

Apple was one of the pioneers of personal computing. So was Microsoft and a host of other lesser-known companies that have come and gone in the past four decades. After early success commanding a good portion of its niche, the company lost its marketing mojo in the 1990s and its revenues suffered. Apple solved this problem in two ways. It focused its marketing on recreating its image as an industry-leading pioneer in personal computing, and it created new niches for itself, including in digital music and smartphones.

Today, virtually no one would describe Apple as a “niche” company. Indeed, its products now permeate nearly every aspect of American life.

6. Walk in the customer’s shoes.

Jobs was notoriously unimpressed with the concept of focus groups. Rather, he advocated for putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and thinking about what you would want from your company.

One of Apple’s strengths has always been its ability to design its own new products, but it has also successfully improved concepts taken from others, turning them into something superior and more relevant to consumers than the original concept. Jobs did this by envisioning what his product needed to solve for consumers and then asking himself what he would find useful, helpful or just plain cool if he were in the consumer’s shoes.

Of course, to do this well, you need to understand who your customers are and what they really need. Once you know exactly who you’re selling to, it’s easier to imagine yourself in their shoes and create innovative solutions that you believe would help you in their situations.

7. Surround yourself with talent and quality.

Who would turn down a job with Apple? Not many people. The company’s reputation as a top employer allows it to attract quality people, and the excellence of its staff translates into better products, services, and customer experiences.

The people you employ speak directly to the quality of your brand. Surround yourself with talented people who are committed to quality and are passionate about their jobs. Their professional image should feed and build your positive brand identity.

8. Lead, don’t just follow.

It’s natural for small businesses to compete with each other. But if you’re constantly following what someone else is doing, you’ll never get the chance to lead. That’s not to say you should ignore what the competition is up to. Apple never does.

The concept of the smartphone was around for several years before Apple entered the field. Instead of chasing behind what other smartphone makers were doing, Jobs’ team built on the basic concept, created its own operating system and added the first touchscreen. Apple didn’t create the concept of digital music, but it did create products and services that made digital music widely accessible to the general public.

Of course, you’ll always need to be aware of what competitors are doing, but the bulk of your energy and branding efforts should be focused on using your differentiating strengths to break new ground in your industry.

9. Build relationships with customers.

If there’s one thing small businesses will always be able to do better than big corporations, it’s to build relationships with customers. It’s far easier to get to know each other and create a lasting connection when you’re in direct contact – when a customer walks into your store, calls your office, comments on your company blog, gives feedback on your new website design, or responds to an email offer.

Apple’s relationship-building success has stemmed from its ability to interact with customers on a much more personal level than is typical of big companies. What’s more, it’s leveraged honesty in its branding to engender trust among consumers. When you buy an “i” anything, you have a good idea of what you’ll be getting, because Apple has consistently delivered products and services that fulfill its brand promise.

Elevating customer expectations and then living up to them is at the heart of brand-building relationships.

10. Don’t fear failure, fear losing that hunger.

Jobs’ career with Apple is a story of failures as well as successes. What failure could be more ignominious than being fired from the CEO position of a company you founded? Jobs didn’t dwell on failures. Instead, he focused on maintaining his hunger to succeed; that passion led him back to Apple and, in turn, helped Apple rebuild its amazing brand success.

Never forget your brand’s objective, and be willing to take calculated risks that can move you toward your goals. Rather than focusing your branding efforts on avoiding failure, emphasize the quest for success. Jobs advocated listening to your gut. It worked for him repeatedly; when the iPad first came out, consumers and critics were skeptical – until they actually used one. The iPad quickly became the fastest-growing Apple product in the company’s history.

Key takeaways from Apple’s success

Apple’s branding story continues to be written, and by all indications it promises to continue being impressive. Your company can write its own success story by borrowing some of Apple’s most effective branding tactics. Here’s a recap:

  • Build brand identity by creating emotion in consumers.
  • Define the identity you want to communicate.
  • Be consistent in how you communicate your brand.
  • Find substantive ways to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Identify and command your niche, or create new ones for yourself.
  • Imagine yourself in the customer’s shoes to better understand what they want/need.
  • Surround yourself with people and partners who display the kind of talent and quality you want associated with your brand.
  • Instead of chasing competitors, use your strengths to blaze new trails for your company.
  • Emphasize building relationships with customers.
  • Rather than focusing your efforts on avoiding failure, concentrate on creating success.

Although your small business will never match Apple’s marketing budget, these tactics mean you don’t have to. They cost little to implement. As Jobs said:

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R & D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R & D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

© 2015, Vertical Response 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 Even the Smallest Businesses Can Sink its Teeth into These 10 Branding Lessons from Apple appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

Even the Smallest Businesses Can Sink its Teeth into These 10 Branding Lessons from Apple

Tue, 10/20/2015 - 06:00

It’s difficult to imagine a more inspirational branding success story than Apple. Founded by two college dropout buddies who borrowed the money to build their first computers based on good faith and a promise, Apple is now America’s first $700 billion company. Moreover, it is one of the most recognized, respected and iconic brands in the world.

Your small business may never achieve billion-dollar revenues - and you may not even want it to - but you do want your brand to be as trusted and vital to your customers as Apple is to practically the whole world. Fortunately, many of the brand-building lessons you can draw from Apple’s 40-year rise are as relevant to your small business as they are to a huge, multi-national corporation.

The benefits of branding for small businesses

In many ways, your small business brand is - or should be - no different from Apple’s. It should encompass everything the public knows and thinks about your company, including the level of customer service you deliver, your reputation, how you communicate with customers, and your “look.”

Your logo design and website design are intrinsic to your brand identity, and so is the signage outside every location, the uniform your employees wear, and how they address your customers. All these aspects of your business are as fundamental to building your brand identity as your marketing and advertising efforts are.

Successful small business branding means all these parts work together to create a cohesive, positive, engaging and useful identity in the minds of your customers. Without a strong and clear brand identity, even businesses with great products and excellent customer service will struggle to succeed.

Good branding yields countless benefits. It helps you win new customers and solidify your identity with current ones, supports your advertising and marketing goals, inspires your employees, increases your corporate recognition and builds financial value.

Identifying those successful branding qualities in Apple is easy. Small businesses can borrow many of Apple’s tactics to build their powerful brand identity.

Here are 10 lessons from Apple that you can apply to your small business branding efforts.

1. Leverage emotion to build brand identity.

Steve Jobs once said that “The chance to make a memory is the essence of brand marketing.” Good branding engages emotions, not just reason, and builds on that connection to create a memorable identity. Branding succeeds when it sparks a positive emotional resonance within consumers. Customers are far more likely to remember - and purchase - products and services that make them feel good.

Apple famously did this in the mid-1990s. The company’s popularity had waned; its brand recognition was low and its reputation poor. Under Jobs’ leadership, Apple launched an advertising campaign that featured heroes - both living and gone - whose passion and convictions had altered the world in a significant way. The heroes evoked an emotional response in the viewers, and the subtext of the ads made it clear that Apple was a company that was passionate about world-changing innovation.

2. Know who you are.

It’s difficult to establish a brand identity if you’re unsure what yours should be. Jobs said Apple’s branding addressed the question of “What are we here to do?” The answer to that question informed not only the company’s marketing and advertising, but every aspect of its corporate culture and its interactions with consumers.

What is your company’s mission? You must first define for yourself what your company wants to be, and then find ways to clearly and consistently communicate that identity to consumers. Define your story and use reliable marketing tools to share your story with consumers.

3. Consistency is key.

Do you remember “New Coke”? It faced many challenges, not the least among them was that the new product came in a new package that diverged sharply from the brand’s iconic script. Combined with the fact that virtually no one liked the taste of the new product, the lack of consistency in branding was one more nail in the coffin of New Coke.

Of course, if your visual brand identity isn’t working for you, it pays to engage in professional logo design and other rebranding tactics to find a better fit. But once you have an identity that meets your needs, it’s vital to stick with it. Changing your “look” or your approach too often undermines consumers’ understanding of who you are as a company.

In contrast, Apple consistently places a lower case “i” on new digital products – the iPhone, iPad, iPod, iWatch. This consistent application of a key branding component ensures that consumers can easily identify a new product as coming from Apple, even if they’ve not heard of it at all.

4. Differentiate yourself with real differences.

As a small business, you may be tempted to set yourself apart by undercutting your competitors’ prices. But that approach is not sustainable in the long term, nor does it do anything positive to improve your brand identity.

Instead, differentiate yourself as Apple did, through innovation, superior customer service, and marketing and advertising campaigns that engage consumers’ emotions. Apple’s success illustrates that people will pay a premium for products and services that offer substantive differences. Good branding means you ask a fair price for your product and services, and that you communicate to consumers the value suppositions that prove you deserve to get that price.

5. Find your niche and then take command of it.

Everyone is looking for that sweet spot where an unfilled need or desire leaves consumers primed to buy as soon as a good option presents itself. But identifying your niche isn’t enough. You must also take steps to ensure you emerge in consumers’ minds as the leading choice in your specialized area.

Apple was one of the pioneers of personal computing. So was Microsoft and a host of other lesser-known companies that have come and gone in the past four decades. After early success commanding a good portion of its niche, the company lost its marketing mojo in the 1990s and its revenues suffered. Apple solved this problem in two ways. It focused its marketing on recreating its image as an industry-leading pioneer in personal computing, and it created new niches for itself, including in digital music and smartphones.

Today, virtually no one would describe Apple as a “niche” company. Indeed, its products now permeate nearly every aspect of American life.

6. Walk in the customer’s shoes.

Jobs was notoriously unimpressed with the concept of focus groups. Rather, he advocated for putting yourself in the customer’s shoes and thinking about what you would want from your company.

One of Apple’s strengths has always been its ability to design its own new products, but it has also successfully improved concepts taken from others, turning them into something superior and more relevant to consumers than the original concept. Jobs did this by envisioning what his product needed to solve for consumers and then asking himself what he would find useful, helpful or just plain cool if he were in the consumer’s shoes.

Of course, to do this well, you need to understand who your customers are and what they really need. Once you know exactly who you’re selling to, it’s easier to imagine yourself in their shoes and create innovative solutions that you believe would help you in their situations.

7. Surround yourself with talent and quality.

Who would turn down a job with Apple? Not many people. The company’s reputation as a top employer allows it to attract quality people, and the excellence of its staff translates into better products, services, and customer experiences.

The people you employ speak directly to the quality of your brand. Surround yourself with talented people who are committed to quality and are passionate about their jobs. Their professional image should feed and build your positive brand identity.

8. Lead, don’t just follow.

It’s natural for small businesses to compete with each other. But if you’re constantly following what someone else is doing, you’ll never get the chance to lead. That’s not to say you should ignore what the competition is up to. Apple never does.

The concept of the smartphone was around for several years before Apple entered the field. Instead of chasing behind what other smartphone makers were doing, Jobs’ team built on the basic concept, created its own operating system and added the first touchscreen. Apple didn’t create the concept of digital music, but it did create products and services that made digital music widely accessible to the general public.

Of course, you’ll always need to be aware of what competitors are doing, but the bulk of your energy and branding efforts should be focused on using your differentiating strengths to break new ground in your industry.

9. Build relationships with customers.

If there’s one thing small businesses will always be able to do better than big corporations, it’s to build relationships with customers. It’s far easier to get to know each other and create a lasting connection when you’re in direct contact - when a customer walks into your store, calls your office, comments on your company blog, gives feedback on your new website design, or responds to an email offer.

Apple’s relationship-building success has stemmed from its ability to interact with customers on a much more personal level than is typical of big companies. What’s more, it’s leveraged honesty in its branding to engender trust among consumers. When you buy an “i” anything, you have a good idea of what you’ll be getting, because Apple has consistently delivered products and services that fulfill its brand promise.

Elevating customer expectations and then living up to them is at the heart of brand-building relationships.

10. Don’t fear failure, fear losing that hunger.

Jobs’ career with Apple is a story of failures as well as successes. What failure could be more ignominious than being fired from the CEO position of a company you founded? Jobs didn’t dwell on failures. Instead, he focused on maintaining his hunger to succeed; that passion led him back to Apple and, in turn, helped Apple rebuild its amazing brand success.

Never forget your brand’s objective, and be willing to take calculated risks that can move you toward your goals. Rather than focusing your branding efforts on avoiding failure, emphasize the quest for success. Jobs advocated listening to your gut. It worked for him repeatedly; when the iPad first came out, consumers and critics were skeptical - until they actually used one. The iPad quickly became the fastest-growing Apple product in the company’s history.

Key takeaways from Apple’s success

Apple’s branding story continues to be written, and by all indications it promises to continue being impressive. Your company can write its own success story by borrowing some of Apple’s most effective branding tactics. Here’s a recap:

  • Build brand identity by creating emotion in consumers.
  • Define the identity you want to communicate.
  • Be consistent in how you communicate your brand.
  • Find substantive ways to differentiate yourself from the competition.
  • Identify and command your niche, or create new ones for yourself.
  • Imagine yourself in the customer’s shoes to better understand what they want/need.
  • Surround yourself with people and partners who display the kind of talent and quality you want associated with your brand.
  • Instead of chasing competitors, use your strengths to blaze new trails for your company.
  • Emphasize building relationships with customers.
  • Rather than focusing your efforts on avoiding failure, concentrate on creating success.

Although your small business will never match Apple’s marketing budget, these tactics mean you don’t have to. They cost little to implement. As Jobs said:

“Innovation has nothing to do with how many R & D dollars you have. When Apple came up with the Mac, IBM was spending at least 100 times more on R & D. It’s not about money. It’s about the people you have, how you’re led, and how much you get it.”

© 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 Even the Smallest Businesses Can Sink its Teeth into These 10 Branding Lessons from Apple appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

2015 Everything Holiday Marketing Resource Center – Our Free Gift to You

Fri, 10/16/2015 - 15:39

Not sure where to start with your holiday marketing? Or, just need some organization and tips? The 2015 Everything Holiday Marketing Resource Center has everything your business needs to be successful this season – all in one place!  This year, we’ve expanded our resources to include tips on: how to make your brand holiday friendly; how to ensure holiday shoppers find you online and; how to inspire customers to make a purchase.

First, organize your holiday calendar, checklist and campaigns with these key resources.

Use the calendar to create a timeline for your holiday campaigns. Check out the postcard deadline dates and learn how to plan each month.

Stay on track with a checklist of tasks between now and the New Year. We remembered everything so you don’t have to. 

Get your website holiday ready and keep customers interested throughout the season with this complete guide to holiday marketing.

Then, discover free e-books, webinars, creative assets, blog articles, and more!

There are four content categories for you to explore:

1.  Branding

Find out how to dress up your brand for the holidays, and use our free holiday templates and assets to show your spirit for the season.

2.  Presence

Learn how to create an effective website, drive traffic to it, and make it holiday-ready. We’ve provided a list of considerations to get your business found online.

3.  Social

Use the holiday season to promote your business on Facebook. Join our webinar on effective social media strategies and develop a holiday social plan to communicate and connect with customers.

4.  Email

Strengthen your relationship with customers and generate more sales by creating successful email campaigns.

Turn this season into the best year yet with guidance from the 2015 Everything Holiday Marketing Resource Center. More resources will be added so check back often.

Happy Holidays!

© 2015, Vertical Response 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 2015 Everything Holiday Marketing Resource Center – Our Free Gift to You appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

2015 Everything Holiday Marketing Resource Center – Our Free Gift to You

Fri, 10/16/2015 - 15:39

Not sure where to start with your holiday marketing? Or, just need some organization and tips? The 2015 Everything Holiday Marketing Resource Center has everything your business needs to be successful this season – all in one place!  This year, we’ve expanded our resources to include tips on: how to make your brand holiday friendly; how to ensure holiday shoppers find you online and; how to inspire customers to make a purchase.

First, organize your holiday calendar, checklist and campaigns with these key resources.

Use the calendar to create a timeline for your holiday campaigns. Check out the postcard deadline dates and learn how to plan each month.

Stay on track with a checklist of tasks between now and the New Year. We remembered everything so you don’t have to. 

Get your website holiday ready and keep customers interested throughout the season with this complete guide to holiday marketing.

Then, discover free e-books, webinars, creative assets, blog articles, and more!

There are four content categories for you to explore:

1.  Branding

Find out how to dress up your brand for the holidays, and use our free holiday templates and assets to show your spirit for the season.

2.  Presence

Learn how to create an effective website, drive traffic to it, and make it holiday-ready. We’ve provided a list of considerations to get your business found online.

3.  Social

Use the holiday season to promote your business on Facebook. Join our webinar on effective social media strategies and develop a holiday social plan to communicate and connect with customers.

4.  Email

Strengthen your relationship with customers and generate more sales by creating successful email campaigns.

Turn this season into the best year yet with guidance from the 2015 Everything Holiday Marketing Resource Center. More resources will be added so check back often.

Happy Holidays!

© 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 2015 Everything Holiday Marketing Resource Center – Our Free Gift to You appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

The Ultimate Guide to ‘Google My Business’

Thu, 10/15/2015 - 06:01

Have you googled your business lately? What comes up? Wouldn’t it be nice to see a display that instantly gives customers your location, address, hours of operation, phone number, link to your website and customer reviews? It’s not a pipe dream. Every small business can make a killer digital display, like the one below, that shows up on Google. How? By using Google My Business.

Google My Business is a free marketing tool that connects customers with businesses. By spending a few hours creating an account, you can drastically increase your chances of being found online and collecting revenue. Use this free and quick scan to get a report on all your online directory listings.

Google says 50 percent of mobile consumers that search for a local business visit it within a day of the search, and 18 percent of consumers make a purchase. Sound like something your business should be a part of? Absolutely.

Google My Business will do more than create the display above; it has a lot to offer.

The 10 advantages of Google My Business

  • It’s free. Yes, FREE.
  • It serves as the ultimate business directory with pertinent business information accessible to customers instantly.
  • All of the information you list is clickable. Customers can click your phone number to call on their smartphones, or tap your website address to see your site.
  • The information looks great on any device, including smartphones.
  • Both local and online businesses can use it.
  • You can post pictures and videos to your page.
  • You can access metrics to see how many people are looking for and finding your site.
  • It drives traffic to your website.
  • Customers can read and add reviews.
  • You have one centralized dashboard with access to Google+, Insights, Reviews, Hangouts and Google Analytics.

Set up

1. Get started by signing up with Google My Business.

2. If your business has a physical address, you’ll enter it. If your business is online, you’ll create a brand page.

3. If you don’t have a Google+ account, you’ll have to set up one up at the same time.

4. Verify your business by postcard or phone. None of the information you enter will appear online until you verify your business. You can enter information while you’re waiting for the verification process though.

5. Enter business information.

Tips to enter attractive information on your page

From the main dashboard, you’ll see this info bar at the top.

From this location, you’ll enter or edit the following:

  • Business summary
  • Phone number
  • Website
  • Business category
  • Hours of operation
  • Address (if you have a physical store)
  • Pictures or a virtual tour

Some of the information that you enter is self-explanatory. Your phone number is your phone number. However, we have a few tips to maximize your business introduction, category and pictures.

  • Business introduction

Provide a clear, concise summary of your business. Keep it short. A sentence or two will work. Use descriptive words that paint a picture for your customers. A lot of small businesses enter bland sentences like, “We’re a coffee shop.” Don’t waste the space. It’s prime marketing real estate.

  • Pick a business category, or several

There are hundreds of business categories to choose from. You want to describe what your business is, not what it does. So you would enter “Pet Supply Store” not “Pet food and toys.”

You can enter more than one category too. If your business specializes in more than one category, add it.

Why is this so important? Google makes business suggestions to users based on the information you provide. If you enter the wrong category, it’s not likely your business will show up in the recommendation area.

  • Uploading pictures

There are more photos to upload than just your profile and cover art here. Pictures are broken into six categories:

  • Identify photos. These photos include your profile picture and logo.
  • Interior photos. Shots inside your store or business.
  • Exterior photos. Shots of your building.
  • Photos at work. Pictures that represent what you do.
  • Team photos. Pictures of you and your employees.
  • Additional photos. Any pictures that don’t fit into the categories above can go here.

Google suggests adding three photos to each category. Some of the pictures, like your profile picture, have suggested dimensions too. It’s best to start with a picture that’s landscape (horizontal) and crop or enhance it with a tool like PicMonkey.

Make sure your pictures are clear and crisp. It probably goes without saying, but don’t use any picture that you wouldn’t put on a paid advertisement.

Additional components on your dashboard

Aside from your business information, you’ll see several other features on your dashboard. Here’s a look at the additional components on your dashboard, along with things you need to know about each section:

  • Google+

If your business isn’t on Google+, you’ll create an account at the same time you set up your business page. While many businesses flock to Facebook and Twitter, Google+ is the up-and-comer in the social world. Searchmetics predicts Google+ will overtake Facebook in social sharing by 2016.

Fortunately, you can post to a Google+ account right from your dashboard. You can type in an update, or share photos, links or videos. You can even create an event with a simple click.

  • Insights

How many people have seen your digital display? Are people interacting with your posts on Google+? You have access to a wealth of analytics under the “Insights” tab.

You can customize the information you see. Just pick the stats that you want to compare and they will show up on a chart. It’s an easy way to compare stats.

There are three main sections: visibility, engagement and audience.

  • Visibility shows you the number of views that your profile, photos and posts get. You have access to graphs and can change the data to show the last 7, 30 or 90 days.
  • Engagement shows you how your audience is interacting with your posts. You’ll see stats on +1 clicks, shares and comments. You can set the graphs to show the last 7, 30 or 90 days as well.
  • Audience shows you a breakdown of the people following you. See a breakdown of countries, gender, age, etc.

Use these statistics to improve your engagement and sales. For example, if you notice customers are interacting with your Google+ posts mostly on Friday, save your best content for that day. If your photos aren’t getting a lot of views, it might be time to update them. If your Insights show a strong presence in anther country, consider sharing more links that pertain to those customers.

These statistics provide inside information that allows you to make decisions and customize content to your niche audience.

  • Reviews

Google My Business hosts a review page so your customers can leave public feedback. You can monitor and respond to reviews through your dashboard as well.

Here are a few tips when it comes to reviews:

  • Encourage customers to leave reviews. Remind them at the checkout, or send an email asking them to leave feedback with a link to your Google My Business page.
  • If you get bad feedback, don’t panic. If it violates the review policies, you can flag it and Google will review it and take action. If it doesn’t break the policies, you can choose to respond in a professional manner. Here’s a guide to respond to negative feedback.
  • Respond to positive reviews too. Thank customers for taking time to share their comments.
  • Start a hangout

Need to host a quick conference call? You can start a Google+ Hangout, which is a free video chat service, right from your dashboard. It allows you to talk with up to 10 people and share screens.

  • Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides the master key to all things analytics. This tracking tool, which is also free, provides statistics on your website traffic and audience. You can integrate Google Analytics with VerticalResponse to see how your emails impact our site traffic too.

It provides a more in-depth look at your website traffic, whereas Insights is just looking at the traffic garnered on your Google My Business account.

Conclusion:  Four out of five consumers conduct local searches on search engines to try and find the right business to meet their needs. Google My Business can connect your business with customers on the other end of those searches. With just a small investment of time, you can create a free way to attract customers.

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

The post The Ultimate Guide to ‘Google My Business’ appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

The Ultimate Guide to ‘Google My Business’

Thu, 10/15/2015 - 06:01

Have you googled your business lately? What comes up? Wouldn’t it be nice to see a display that instantly gives customers your location, address, hours of operation, phone number, link to your website and customer reviews? It’s not a pipe dream. Every small business can make a killer digital display, like the one below, that shows up on Google. How? By using Google My Business.

Google My Business is a free marketing tool that connects customers with businesses. By spending a few hours creating an account, you can drastically increase your chances of being found online and collecting revenue. Use this free and quick scan to get a report on all your online directory listings.

Google says 50 percent of mobile consumers that search for a local business visit it within a day of the search, and 18 percent of consumers make a purchase. Sound like something your business should be a part of? Absolutely.

Google My Business will do more than create the display above; it has a lot to offer.

The 10 advantages of Google My Business

  • It’s free. Yes, FREE.
  • It serves as the ultimate business directory with pertinent business information accessible to customers instantly.
  • All of the information you list is clickable. Customers can click your phone number to call on their smartphones, or tap your website address to see your site.
  • The information looks great on any device, including smartphones.
  • Both local and online businesses can use it.
  • You can post pictures and videos to your page.
  • You can access metrics to see how many people are looking for and finding your site.
  • It drives traffic to your website.
  • Customers can read and add reviews.
  • You have one centralized dashboard with access to Google+, Insights, Reviews, Hangouts and Google Analytics.

Set up

1. Get started by signing up with Google My Business.

2. If your business has a physical address, you’ll enter it. If your business is online, you’ll create a brand page.

3. If you don’t have a Google+ account, you’ll have to set up one up at the same time.

4. Verify your business by postcard or phone. None of the information you enter will appear online until you verify your business. You can enter information while you’re waiting for the verification process though.

5. Enter business information.

Tips to enter attractive information on your page

From the main dashboard, you’ll see this info bar at the top.

From this location, you’ll enter or edit the following:

  • Business summary
  • Phone number
  • Website
  • Business category
  • Hours of operation
  • Address (if you have a physical store)
  • Pictures or a virtual tour

Some of the information that you enter is self-explanatory. Your phone number is your phone number. However, we have a few tips to maximize your business introduction, category and pictures.

  • Business introduction

Provide a clear, concise summary of your business. Keep it short. A sentence or two will work. Use descriptive words that paint a picture for your customers. A lot of small businesses enter bland sentences like, “We’re a coffee shop.” Don’t waste the space. It’s prime marketing real estate.

  • Pick a business category, or several

There are hundreds of business categories to choose from. You want to describe what your business is, not what it does. So you would enter “Pet Supply Store” not “Pet food and toys.”

You can enter more than one category too. If your business specializes in more than one category, add it.

Why is this so important? Google makes business suggestions to users based on the information you provide. If you enter the wrong category, it’s not likely your business will show up in the recommendation area.

  • Uploading pictures

There are more photos to upload than just your profile and cover art here. Pictures are broken into six categories:

  • Identify photos. These photos include your profile picture and logo.
  • Interior photos. Shots inside your store or business.
  • Exterior photos. Shots of your building.
  • Photos at work. Pictures that represent what you do.
  • Team photos. Pictures of you and your employees.
  • Additional photos. Any pictures that don’t fit into the categories above can go here.

Google suggests adding three photos to each category. Some of the pictures, like your profile picture, have suggested dimensions too. It’s best to start with a picture that’s landscape (horizontal) and crop or enhance it with a tool like PicMonkey.

Make sure your pictures are clear and crisp. It probably goes without saying, but don’t use any picture that you wouldn’t put on a paid advertisement.

Additional components on your dashboard

Aside from your business information, you’ll see several other features on your dashboard. Here’s a look at the additional components on your dashboard, along with things you need to know about each section:

  • Google+

If your business isn’t on Google+, you’ll create an account at the same time you set up your business page. While many businesses flock to Facebook and Twitter, Google+ is the up-and-comer in the social world. Searchmetics predicts Google+ will overtake Facebook in social sharing by 2016.

Fortunately, you can post to a Google+ account right from your dashboard. You can type in an update, or share photos, links or videos. You can even create an event with a simple click.

  • Insights

How many people have seen your digital display? Are people interacting with your posts on Google+? You have access to a wealth of analytics under the “Insights” tab.

You can customize the information you see. Just pick the stats that you want to compare and they will show up on a chart. It’s an easy way to compare stats.

There are three main sections: visibility, engagement and audience.

  • Visibility shows you the number of views that your profile, photos and posts get. You have access to graphs and can change the data to show the last 7, 30 or 90 days.
  • Engagement shows you how your audience is interacting with your posts. You’ll see stats on +1 clicks, shares and comments. You can set the graphs to show the last 7, 30 or 90 days as well.
  • Audience shows you a breakdown of the people following you. See a breakdown of countries, gender, age, etc.

Use these statistics to improve your engagement and sales. For example, if you notice customers are interacting with your Google+ posts mostly on Friday, save your best content for that day. If your photos aren’t getting a lot of views, it might be time to update them. If your Insights show a strong presence in anther country, consider sharing more links that pertain to those customers.

These statistics provide inside information that allows you to make decisions and customize content to your niche audience.

  • Reviews

Google My Business hosts a review page so your customers can leave public feedback. You can monitor and respond to reviews through your dashboard as well.

Here are a few tips when it comes to reviews:

  • Encourage customers to leave reviews. Remind them at the checkout, or send an email asking them to leave feedback with a link to your Google My Business page.
  • If you get bad feedback, don’t panic. If it violates the review policies, you can flag it and Google will review it and take action. If it doesn’t break the policies, you can choose to respond in a professional manner. Here’s a guide to respond to negative feedback.
  • Respond to positive reviews too. Thank customers for taking time to share their comments.
  • Start a hangout

Need to host a quick conference call? You can start a Google+ Hangout, which is a free video chat service, right from your dashboard. It allows you to talk with up to 10 people and share screens.

  • Google Analytics

Google Analytics provides the master key to all things analytics. This tracking tool, which is also free, provides statistics on your website traffic and audience. You can integrate Google Analytics with VerticalResponse to see how your emails impact our site traffic too.

It provides a more in-depth look at your website traffic, whereas Insights is just looking at the traffic garnered on your Google My Business account.

Conclusion:  Four out of five consumers conduct local searches on search engines to try and find the right business to meet their needs. Google My Business can connect your business with customers on the other end of those searches. With just a small investment of time, you can create a free way to attract customers.

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

The post The Ultimate Guide to ‘Google My Business’ appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Reasons Why Hiring Your Facebook Friend to Build Your Website is the Worst Idea Ever

Tue, 10/13/2015 - 07:01

Starting a small business costs a lot of money – from the expenses of creating a professional business plan and incorporating to buying inventory, hiring staff and marketing your business. So it’s understandable that entrepreneurs look for ways to save money. You may think it’s a smart move to save by hiring someone you know to build your company website, such as your brother-in-law, the neighbor’s teen or a Facebook friend, but that’s a horrendously bad idea, one that will cost you more in the long-run. Here’s why:

  • 81 percent of shoppers do online research before making a purchase.[1]
  • 60 percent of consumers start their research through a search engine.[2]
  • Three in four consumers who find helpful local information in search results are more likely to visit the store.[3]
  • 68 percent of business-to-business buyers make their purchases online.[4]
  • 30 percent of B2B buyers research at least 90 percent of their purchases online before buying.[5]
  • 18 percent of B2B buyers spend 90 percent or more of their budgets online.[6]

What do all these numbers mean for your website decision? Simply put, businesses today live and thrive through their online presence. Whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses, your website can be your most powerful selling tool – but only if it’s built well to do its job. A poorly built website is worse than a waste of money. It can rob you of sales, drive away current and potential customers, and undermine the integrity of your brand.

You may think “It’s only a few hundred dollars. How bad can it be for that money?” But who you hire to design a website directly impacts its effectiveness. Consider these five ways in which an amateurish treatment can ruin your company website:

1. It’s retina-scorchingly ugly.

Who hasn’t seen and chuckled at one of those “world’s ugliest websites” lists? No business owner wants to end up on one of those lists. Never mind the sheer humiliation of it, simply qualifying for a worst website list means your site is probably not doing its job.

Poor color choices and unappealing design; a glut or dearth of text, or copy that’s just plain bad; photos that are blurry, poorly sized, off-putting, inappropriate or incomprehensible – the list of things that can go wrong with design is nearly endless.

To be visually appealing, your website needs to look professional and engaging.

2. It frustrates smartphone users.

A website that’s not mobile friendly – i.e. easily viewable and usable from a smartphone, tablet or any mobile device – is going to frustrate mobile users. When you consider that smartphones account for 65 percent of all digital time and tablets for 14 percent (according to comScore’s 2015 Mobile App Report), you can’t afford a website that’s not going to play well on mobile devices.

An amateur designer likely won’t know how to create a website that adapts to the needs of mobile users. Or, if he does know something about mobile, his expertise may not extend to all the various mobile platforms in use. Different mobile devices interact differently with websites, and a site designed to look great on an iPhone may not work well for someone accessing it through an Android device – unless an expert designer makes it so.

3. It may not play well with search engines.

Of course, people ultimately make buying decisions – you’re not selling to a search engine. But the search engine is the bridge that connects users with relevant websites. In order to reach the users who are your target audience, your site needs to play well with all types of search engines.

That means it must be designed with search-engine optimization (SEO) in mind. It must be easy for search engines to find and categorize, and contain relevant information and design that move it to the top of search rankings. Of course, SEO is about more than keyword-rich copy. Every aspect of a website should be designed with SEO in mind, from headers, tags and meta descriptions to photo titling, and internal and external links. Your site also needs to know how to communicate your physical location to search engines, since more consumers are now looking for location-relevant information. In fact, location relevance is one of the most common things businesses forget when launching a website.

Your site could be the best-looking and most brilliantly written site ever, but if the search engines don’t understand it, no one will be able to find it, no one will see it and you won’t secure any sales through it.

4. It may not mesh with your marketing.

Your website can be a powerful marketing tool, but is it perfectly aligned with your brand? Does its design maximize its marketing function? Good website design follows basic marketing best practices, including defining and targeting key audiences, presenting engaging and informative copy, incorporating tools to capture leads, and data capture and analytics to give insight into performance.

An amateurish website also might not incorporate a social component, such as a blog or the ability for users to like and share content from the site. It may not convey your company brand; if you’ve already established an identity for your company through a logo, your website should underscore that identity. This can be as basic as incorporating your logo on the home page or as esoteric as ensuring the Favian (that little icon that appears to the left of the meta description when you open a new tab) reflects your brand identity.

5. It may be technically challenged.

When you’re launching a website you have a lot of questions to answer before it can go live. Many of them are highly technical.

Privacy and security are critical. Every year, more small companies experience data breaches or other forms of cyberattacks. In fact, small businesses are favorite targets of cyber crooks because they know smaller companies often don’t have the security measures in place that larger ones do. It’s vital that your website protects not only your security but also that of your customers, especially if you will be collecting any customer data through an online portal on your site.

It’s also important that your website work on all types of browsers. An amateur designer will likely design your website to work optimally on the browser he or she is most familiar with. Meanwhile, it could look bad or even work incorrectly when a user accesses it through a different browser.

When your website crashes or doesn’t work as intended, who will fix it? Your Facebook buddy likely doesn’t provide on-going support. A good designer will not only build an effective, attractive website, he or she will guarantee the work and help resolve any issues that arise after it’s launched. He’ll also set up the site in such a way that you can easily change basic things – like your address, phone numbers, hours of operation or blog – on your own.

Conclusion:  Saving money is a great idea for any small business, but not at the expense of the quality of your website. Your online presence is a fundamental business-building tool, and you can’t afford for it to be anything less than fabulous. So save your Facebook connections for swapping jokes and sharing memes. Turn to a professional for your website design.

 

[1] http://minewhat.com/blog/motivate-shoppers-who-research-online-to-buy/

[2] http://minewhat.com/blog/motivate-shoppers-who-research-online-to-buy/

[3] https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/how-digital-connects-shoppers-to-local-stores.html

[4] http://www.acquitygroup.com/docs/default-source/Whitepapers/acquitygroup_2014-b2bstudy.pdf?sfvrsn=0

[5] http://www.acquitygroup.com/docs/default-source/Whitepapers/acquitygroup_2014-b2bstudy.pdf?sfvrsn=0

[6] http://www.acquitygroup.com/docs/default-source/Whitepapers/acquitygroup_2014-b2bstudy.pdf?sfvrsn=0

© 2015, Vertical Response 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 Reasons Why Hiring Your Facebook Friend to Build Your Website is the Worst Idea Ever appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

5 Reasons Why Hiring Your Facebook Friend to Build Your Website is the Worst Idea Ever

Tue, 10/13/2015 - 07:01

Starting a small business costs a lot of money - from the expenses of creating a professional business plan and incorporating to buying inventory, hiring staff and marketing your business. So it’s understandable that entrepreneurs look for ways to save money. You may think it’s a smart move to save by hiring someone you know to build your company website, such as your brother-in-law, the neighbor’s teen or a Facebook friend, but that’s a horrendously bad idea, one that will cost you more in the long-run. Here’s why:

  • 81 percent of shoppers do online research before making a purchase.[1]
  • 60 percent of consumers start their research through a search engine.[2]
  • Three in four consumers who find helpful local information in search results are more likely to visit the store.[3]
  • 68 percent of business-to-business buyers make their purchases online.[4]
  • 30 percent of B2B buyers research at least 90 percent of their purchases online before buying.[5]
  • 18 percent of B2B buyers spend 90 percent or more of their budgets online.[6]

What do all these numbers mean for your website decision? Simply put, businesses today live and thrive through their online presence. Whether you’re selling to consumers or other businesses, your website can be your most powerful selling tool - but only if it’s built well to do its job. A poorly built website is worse than a waste of money. It can rob you of sales, drive away current and potential customers, and undermine the integrity of your brand.

You may think “It’s only a few hundred dollars. How bad can it be for that money?” But who you hire to design a website directly impacts its effectiveness. Consider these five ways in which an amateurish treatment can ruin your company website:

1. It’s retina-scorchingly ugly.

Who hasn’t seen and chuckled at one of those “world’s ugliest websites” lists? No business owner wants to end up on one of those lists. Never mind the sheer humiliation of it, simply qualifying for a worst website list means your site is probably not doing its job.

Poor color choices and unappealing design; a glut or dearth of text, or copy that’s just plain bad; photos that are blurry, poorly sized, off-putting, inappropriate or incomprehensible - the list of things that can go wrong with design is nearly endless.

To be visually appealing, your website needs to look professional and engaging.

2. It frustrates smartphone users.

A website that’s not mobile friendly - i.e. easily viewable and usable from a smartphone, tablet or any mobile device - is going to frustrate mobile users. When you consider that smartphones account for 65 percent of all digital time and tablets for 14 percent (according to comScore’s 2015 Mobile App Report), you can’t afford a website that’s not going to play well on mobile devices.

An amateur designer likely won’t know how to create a website that adapts to the needs of mobile users. Or, if he does know something about mobile, his expertise may not extend to all the various mobile platforms in use. Different mobile devices interact differently with websites, and a site designed to look great on an iPhone may not work well for someone accessing it through an Android device - unless an expert designer makes it so.

3. It may not play well with search engines.

Of course, people ultimately make buying decisions - you’re not selling to a search engine. But the search engine is the bridge that connects users with relevant websites. In order to reach the users who are your target audience, your site needs to play well with all types of search engines.

That means it must be designed with search-engine optimization (SEO) in mind. It must be easy for search engines to find and categorize, and contain relevant information and design that move it to the top of search rankings. Of course, SEO is about more than keyword-rich copy. Every aspect of a website should be designed with SEO in mind, from headers, tags and meta descriptions to photo titling, and internal and external links. Your site also needs to know how to communicate your physical location to search engines, since more consumers are now looking for location-relevant information. In fact, location relevance is one of the most common things businesses forget when launching a website.

Your site could be the best-looking and most brilliantly written site ever, but if the search engines don’t understand it, no one will be able to find it, no one will see it and you won’t secure any sales through it.

4. It may not mesh with your marketing.

Your website can be a powerful marketing tool, but is it perfectly aligned with your brand? Does its design maximize its marketing function? Good website design follows basic marketing best practices, including defining and targeting key audiences, presenting engaging and informative copy, incorporating tools to capture leads, and data capture and analytics to give insight into performance.

An amateurish website also might not incorporate a social component, such as a blog or the ability for users to like and share content from the site. It may not convey your company brand; if you’ve already established an identity for your company through a logo, your website should underscore that identity. This can be as basic as incorporating your logo on the home page or as esoteric as ensuring the Favian (that little icon that appears to the left of the meta description when you open a new tab) reflects your brand identity.

5. It may be technically challenged.

When you’re launching a website you have a lot of questions to answer before it can go live. Many of them are highly technical.

Privacy and security are critical. Every year, more small companies experience data breaches or other forms of cyberattacks. In fact, small businesses are favorite targets of cyber crooks because they know smaller companies often don’t have the security measures in place that larger ones do. It’s vital that your website protects not only your security but also that of your customers, especially if you will be collecting any customer data through an online portal on your site.

It’s also important that your website work on all types of browsers. An amateur designer will likely design your website to work optimally on the browser he or she is most familiar with. Meanwhile, it could look bad or even work incorrectly when a user accesses it through a different browser.

When your website crashes or doesn’t work as intended, who will fix it? Your Facebook buddy likely doesn’t provide on-going support. A good designer will not only build an effective, attractive website, he or she will guarantee the work and help resolve any issues that arise after it’s launched. He’ll also set up the site in such a way that you can easily change basic things - like your address, phone numbers, hours of operation or blog - on your own.

Conclusion:  Saving money is a great idea for any small business, but not at the expense of the quality of your website. Your online presence is a fundamental business-building tool, and you can’t afford for it to be anything less than fabulous. So save your Facebook connections for swapping jokes and sharing memes. Turn to a professional for your website design.

 

[1] http://minewhat.com/blog/motivate-shoppers-who-research-online-to-buy/

[2] http://minewhat.com/blog/motivate-shoppers-who-research-online-to-buy/

[3] https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/articles/how-digital-connects-shoppers-to-local-stores.html

[4] http://www.acquitygroup.com/docs/default-source/Whitepapers/acquitygroup_2014-b2bstudy.pdf?sfvrsn=0

[5] http://www.acquitygroup.com/docs/default-source/Whitepapers/acquitygroup_2014-b2bstudy.pdf?sfvrsn=0

[6] http://www.acquitygroup.com/docs/default-source/Whitepapers/acquitygroup_2014-b2bstudy.pdf?sfvrsn=0

© 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 Reasons Why Hiring Your Facebook Friend to Build Your Website is the Worst Idea Ever appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

The 30 Magic Marketing Words You Should Be Using

Mon, 10/12/2015 - 06:00

Savvy business owners, copywriters, and designers know how language influences emotions and persuades action. Certain words and phrases are time-tested to boost response and conversion rates almost across the board. Of course, different motivating words and phrases work better in different situations, and it’s up to you to figure out which work best for your business. It isn’t all that difficult to figure out, though: If your intuition doesn’t tell you, your customers will. Test the following 30 “magic marketing words” in your next email, social media or blog post, on a direct-mail postcard or website to see which yields the best response.

  1. You – Write as though you’re speaking to the customer and about the customer, not about yourself.
  2. Because – Give customers a reason why they need to take action.
  3. Free – “Because” we all like free things, right?
  4. Value – This implies customers are getting something versus losing something (i.e. money when you say “cost” or “price”).
  5. Guaranteed – Give customers a guarantee to minimize risk perception, so they feel they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
  6. Amazing – Customers will respond to something that is incredible.
  7. Easy – Make it simple for customers to take the next step in the purchasing process, and let them know how much easier life will be with your product or service.
  8. Discover – This implies there is something new and unknown to the customer, something that has supreme benefits and gives them an edge.
  9. Act now – Motivate an immediate response with a limited-time offer.
  10. Everything included/everything you need – This establishes that your product or service is all your customers will have to buy in order to achieve their goal.
  11. Never – Point out a “negative benefit,” such as “never worry again” or “never overpay again.”
  12. New – Your product or service is the cutting edge in your industry.
  13. Save – The most powerful word to showcase monetary savings, or even time savings.
  14. Proven – Remind customers that your product, service or business is tried-and-true.
  15. Safe and effective – “Proven” to minimize risk perception for health and monetary loss.
  16. Powerful – Let customers know that your business, product or service is robust.
  17. Real results/guaranteed results – Your customers want results, after all.
  18. Secret – Not everyone succeeds, and there are secrets to success. Let customers know you can reveal those secrets.
  19. The – This implies your solution is the “end-all-be-all.” Consider the difference: “3 Solutions for Marketing Success”/”The 3 Solutions for Marketing Success.”
  20. Instant –Instant access or downloads are more appealing than waiting.
  21. How to – Start off with a solution so customers read the rest of your copy.
  22. Elite –Your customers are among the best in the world. Invite newbies to join a highly desirable club.
  23. Premium – Premium helps denote high quality.
  24. Caused by – If your marketing literature builds a case for your product, transitional phrases such as “caused by,” “therefore,” and “thus” can help reinforce the logic of a purchase.
  25. More – Do you offer more than your competitors? Let your customers know, because they want the best deal, after all.
  26. Bargain – Because customers want a great deal, remember?
  27. No obligation – Create a win-win situation for your customers.
  28. 100% money-back guarantee – Again, no risk.
  29. Huge – A large discount or outstanding offer is difficult to resist.
  30. Wealth – If you’re selling products and services related to money, wealth is a desirable word for customers.

They key to success is to combine these words into phrases that trigger buying behavior. For example: “Get real results instantly – 100% money-back guarantee – act now!” Keep your copy short and sweet, play on emotional triggers with these words and phrases, and you’ll increase your conversion and response rates.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in January 2014 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

[Sources: Forbes60 Second MarketerVocus]

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

The post The 30 Magic Marketing Words You Should Be Using appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

List Segmentation By Campaign Activity: Why Do It and How to Get Started

Fri, 10/09/2015 - 06:00

One of the benefits of email marketing is that it allows you to reach a lot of people at one time. This is great in theory, but not so good in practice for one primary reason: your message isn’t going to resonate with everyone. 

Sending one email to the masses would be about as effective as jumping on top of a counter at a department store and getting everyone’s attention by shouting about the new arrivals in women’s boots. Perhaps a couple people would find it helpful but the rest would likely find it annoying.

For the same reason, your strategy shouldn’t be to select everyone from your contact list to receive the same email. Your success with email marketing lies in understanding as much as you can about your contacts so you can better communicate with the groups of people likely to find your message relevant.

So, how do you know which people find your email relevant? A retail salesperson has the advantage of being in-person where they can see what the customer is drawn to and have a dialogue about it in real-time. “Oh, hey, I love the dress you’re wearing. We just got our new boots for the season. Would you like me to show you the perfect pair to go with your dress?” If the customer says, no thanks, because what they really need is a new sweater, the salesperson wouldn’t be a very good one if they responded by offering up some earrings. Wouldn’t you agree? That’s how the disconnect feels when you don’t segment your contact list and tailor your email based on data.

When you engage in email marketing, you primarily rely on the information you generate from email campaigns. Knowing if, when, and how contacts engage with your email is useful in determining which contacts find the message relevant. You can continue the communication with those who respond. And you can tweak or completely change the message for those who don’t.

Let’s say you send an email to all the people who made a purchase from your store within the past six months. The subject line says, “Winter is Coming…So are the Coolest Boots!” In this email, you showcase a few pairs of boots for different occasions. The call to action is a bright blue button that says, “See New Arrivals”. When clicked, it takes them to a webpage where they can find more styles and information.

From this campaign, you can see who opened the email and who didn’t. Of those people who opened, you’re also able to see if they clicked the call to action button. Neat, right? Now let’s put this information to good use.

In this scenario, the best way to segment your campaign list is by activity. Though there are several other ways to segment, look at splitting your list into these three groups:

1.  Did not open
There are many reasons why people don’t open an email. Maybe they don’t find the subject line relevant enough at the time. Or, perhaps they overlook the email when scanning for the ones needing an immediate response.

Don’t give up on them just because they snoozed the first time. Professional email marketers understand this which is why they always send follow-up emails to nonresponders (the people who did not open) a few days after the first campaign has launched. You can learn more about the impressive results of this best practice here.

2.  Opened
A second segment is the group of people who opened your email. Clearly your name and subject line were enough to pique their interest. Consider the possibility that your subject line got their attention given the fact that winter is coming.

But what if they didn’t click because the boots in the email didn’t appeal to them? Change it up next time. It may be worth including other winter wear in the next email as you may find that more people are interested in sweaters.

3.  Clicked
It’s safe to say the most engaged group are those who opened and clicked your call to action. Depending on how deep your knowledge of analytics goes, you could segment this group even further by those who made a purchase, and those who didn’t. For those who never pulled the trigger, the next email could offer an incentive, or give them exclusive access to a 24-hour Winter Whiteout Sale on select styles.

With this type of targeted communication, you are bound to have a better response.

Survey results from Lyris, Inc, referenced in an Email on Acid post, lists several outcomes attributed to List Segmentation. The big winner is increased open rates. And look at all the other positive ways this practice can impact your email campaigns.

VerticalResponse made List Segmentation an essential feature of its email platform so users can quickly and easily get the necessary insight and take advantage of it with the click of a button.

Like the boots example, VerticalResponse allows you to directly target certain groups of individuals on a campaign activity level. These activities include:

        •        People who opened a past email
        •        People who did not open a past email
        •        People who clicked a past email
        •        People who did not click a past email

Now that you understand why List Segmentation is essential to your success, check out how to use it with VerticalResponse. 

Conclusion:  Investing in email marketing can give you a significant return especially when you keep your audience in mind and design your communication accordingly. List segmentation helps you focus your message and get the most out of your effort. 

Stay tuned for List Segmentation [Phase 2] and learn why and how to segment on a contact information level.

© 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 List Segmentation By Campaign Activity: Why Do It and How to Get Started appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

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

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 06:01

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the rest, as they say, was history.

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

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

6 Tips to Get a Logo Design That Gets Customers Talking

Fri, 10/02/2015 - 09:51

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

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

1. Define your brand visually

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

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

2. Research, don’t copy

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

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

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

3. Colors matter

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

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

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

4. Pick the right font

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

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

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

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

5. Keep it simple

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

6. Use a professional to design your logo

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

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

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

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

Calls to Action: 50 that Sell and 10 that Repel

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 11:28

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

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

50 calls to action that sell

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

Email sign up

Seriously, sign up!
What do you have to lose? Sign up now
Hot deals in your inbox
Get our monthly newsletter
Subscribe today
Be the first to know about new arrivals
Sign up

Events

Limited seating available
You don’t want to miss this!
Save your seat now!
Will you be there?
Register now
Reserve your seat today
Join us

Service-based businesses

Schedule a service call now
Call us for free demo
Limited time offer
Save on classes
Book your next appointment now
Book ahead and receive 10% off
Make holiday cleaning simple
Save on your membership

Retail

Shop now!
Check out this sale
Claim your coupon today 
Get your discount code now
Want a sneak peek at this sale?
Save now
Explore new arrivals
Find a store
Download now
Shop clearance

Social media

Follow us
Check us out on Facebook
Vote now
Enter the contest
Yes, I want a shot at winning
Give us your feedback
How’d we do? Yelp it 

Content

Learn more
Keep reading
Read more on our blog
More tips and tricks
Take the quiz
Download now
Read the ebook
Read full story

Referrals 

Share with your friends or family!
Refer a friend and claim your deal
Love to share? Please do

Why these calls to action sell

  • Descriptive and informative

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

  • Urgent language

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

  • Creative

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

10 calls to action that repel

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

Click here
Shop
Review
Get our custom report
Next
Add your contact info
Continue
Get it later
Go
www.YourEntireWebsite.com 

Why these calls to action repel

  • Lack of information

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

  • Not focusing on the customer

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

  • Bad practices

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No Time to Maintain a Business Blog? Use LinkedIn Instead

Tue, 09/29/2015 - 06:00

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

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

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

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

How to post

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

What to post

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

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

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

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

When to post

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

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

Promoting your posts

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

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

Responding to comments

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

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

Analyzing your reach

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Holiday Fun Facts to Share on Social 2015 Edition

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 08:02

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Capitalize on Video: Facebook’s New Emphasis

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 06:00

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

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

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

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

1. Produce simple videos

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

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

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

2. Upload your videos directly to Facebook

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

3. Measure and interpret your video metrics

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

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

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

4. Learn from the pros

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

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

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

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

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

Add Some Zoom to Your Productivity with SyncApps by Cazoomi

Tue, 09/22/2015 - 06:00

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

What is SyncApps?

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

How Does it Work?

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

1. Create a free account

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

2. Select the apps

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

3. Identify the fields

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

4. Schedule your sync

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

True Two-Way Sync

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

Check out Cazoomi SyncApps here.

 

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

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

Pages