The Epicurean Connection, located in the heart of Sonoma, Calif., has all the ingredients for a good time. The spacious café attracts both locals and visitors stopping by on their way to or from the many famous wineries in Sonoma wine country.
But the Epicurean Connection is more than just a resting stop – it’s a specialty foods purveyor, cheese shop, and beer and wine bar specializing in artisanal, locally produced products. From gourmet jams and hard-to-find olive oils to house-made pasta sauces, the shop is a foodie’s dream. Owner and caterer Sheana Davis, who has supported the artisan and farmstead cheese movement for more than 20 years, also holds regular events at the Epicurean Connection, including “meet the cheese maker” days, live music nights and cheese-making classes.
A happy VerticalResponse customer since 2010, Sheana relies on email marketing to promote her many events and any distinctive new products she carries at the shop. The Epicurean Connection also maintains a very active social media presence, with daily updates on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Sheana recently took a few minutes out of her busy day to share some insights into her thriving small biz. (Check out the video below!)
© 2014, VR Marketing 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.
Apple’s at it again. In the weeks leading up to the big announcement event this morning, several speculations circulated regarding Apple’s new debuts. Today, most of those rumors were confirmed.
Instead of geeking out on specs of each new product, we’ve created a recap of the big picture to get you up to speed. We’ve also included images to give you a good visual of what these new products look like. Let’s jump in:
The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus
(Picture courtesy of Apple)
The latest iPhone additions (6 and 6 Plus) are the most advanced in the line. The major difference is screen size. The iPhone 6 has a screen size of 4.7″ and the iPhone 6 Plus comes in at a whopping 5.5″ – the biggest iPhone yet. This puts iPhone in the same league size-wise as some of the larger Samsung phones.
(Picture courtesy of Mashable)
Other features/improvements found on the new iPhones include:
When and How Much?
In the US, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will go on sale September 19 with pre-orders starting September 12th. The iPhone 6 prices will be $199 for a 16GB model, $299 for 64GB and $399 for 128GB (all with a two-year contract from your service provider). The iPhone 6 Plus will be $100 more for each model under the same two-year contract. Both phones will come in Apple’s now standard gold, white and space gray.
The Apple Watch
(Picture courtesy of Apple)
The Apple Watch has been, by far, the most speculated gadget, as patent documents filed by Apple have been floating around for years (and it’s pretty darn cool). However, all this cool new technology won’t be available until sometime in 2015, and you’re required to have an iPhone 5 or newer.
At a whopping $349 per watch, you’d expect a ton of features, and you’d be right. Even Apple CEO, Tim Cook, said there were too many features to cover in the lengthy presentation. Once again, we’ll focus on the top-level features which include:
The overhauled and updated mobile operating system that was announced at WWDC earlier this summer will finally be available to download starting on Wednesday, Sept. 17. iOS 8 will work with all 4S iPhones and newer, second-generation iPad and newer (including both the iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina display) and the fifth-generation iPod Touch. Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus will come loaded with iOS8 when they begin to ship on Sept. 19.
(Picture courtesy of Apple)
Apple is finally integrating near field communications or NFC into the latest iPhones, as well as the Apple Watch. This short-range wireless technology has been touted as the answer to the archaic card reader system that we have known for years. With this NFC technology integrated into their products, Apple is now jumping into the payments business with the introduction of a new digital wallet called ApplePay.
To make sure this new initiative gets off the ground quickly, Apple is partnering with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express along with several issuing banks to allow iPhone users to securely store their credit card accounts on their phones. Apple Pay will be available in 220,000 US merchant locations that already take mobile payments via the NFC’s short range, secure wireless capabilities. Apple is also working with high-profile retailers, including Macy’s, Walgreens, Staples, Subway, McDonald’s, Disney, and Whole Foods, among others to bring Apple Pay to physical store locations everywhere. This might have a huge impact on the more that $12 billion in credit and debit card transactions that take place each and every day.
(Picture courtesy of Apple)
There you have it – A brief recap of the news of the day, which belongs to Apple. Are you excited about these new releases? What do you think of the new iPhone screen sizes? Would you buy and/or wear an Apple Watch? Let us know below if you’re going to purchase any of these products once they’re available, especially the Apple Watch!
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© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Apple Debuts Two New iPhones, Unveils the Apple Watch, iOS8 and ApplePay appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
Links are still the backbone of Google’s algorithms, which determine where your site ranks in Google’s SERPs (search engine results pages). This is why having quality links pointing to your site can help you gain more visitors organically versus relying on paid efforts.
A backlink, also known as an inbound link or just a link, is an incoming link from another website or page that directs or points back to your own site or page. Unfortunately, too many bad backlinks can get your site in big trouble with Google in the form of a penalty. It can be hard to know what constitutes a good link versus a link that could spell trouble for your site. Google is the final judge of your backlinks and you have to play by their rules.
Today, we break down what natural backlinks are, why you need them, and how to gain them while staying within Google’s guidelines. Before we discuss natural backlinks, it’s a good idea to explain how links have evolved over the years. Here’s a brief history of links:
Wild West Times (pre 2012): This was a wild time for SEO, when nearly any tactic was fair game and Google didn’t enforce many of their regulations. Only the most flagrant of practices would get you penalized by Google. Reciprocal linking, directories, link farms and three-way linking were just some of the tactics used with reckless abandon and they worked.
Companies charged money to provide a link from their low ranking site, and people would pay for these types of links. It also was very common for sites to have a “reciprocal links” page where they would make trades with other sites for links. These linking relationships provided very little value to Google and searchers, so Google eventually stepped up their enforcement and changed their algorithms to provide a better search experience. Google’s biggest weapon in the battle against bad backlinks came in the form of the Penguin Algorithm in April of 2012.
Relationships & Quality Links (post Penguin): After the Penguin update leveled many sites that were playing cowboys in the “wild west days of SEO,” most people changed their way of thinking. The painful realization (for some) that these tactics were no longer beneficial for clients and companies provided a much needed reality check to the SEO industry. There has been a shift from trying to get as many links as possible, to getting higher quality links.
What is a natural link?
A natural link isn’t something you ask for, especially for SEO purposes. A natural link is earned because someone finds value in your site, page, products or content. Gone are the days of reaching out to webmasters asking for a link back because it’ll help your SEO efforts. If you think about the movie, Field of Dreams and the famous scene in which Kevin Costner is told “if you build it, he will come,” that’s how you should think about obtaining natural links. If you build it (content), he (links) will come. It’s a simple concept, but one that helps illustrate why you need quality links.
Why do you want links?
Backlinks still signal to Google that sites are relevant and are going to be useful for searchers. It was only a few months ago that Google’s Matt Cutts said “links still have many, many years left in them.” So for a long-term SEO strategy, link building is a good idea. The more good quality, natural links you have, the better your rankings in Google can be. Just keep in mind, if you’re going to build links, ensure they’re quality.
How to build quality links
As we outlined above, the “Wild West Times of SEO” are long gone, and link building is no longer fast and furious. The new buzz word/phrase to remember is “link earning,” which means earning links over time. Producing great content is a foolproof way to build natural links. Examples include in-depth, well researched blog posts, informative videos, which entice people to subscribe to your YouTube channel, and images that make people want to pin, tweet and Like their hearts out. You want to produce content that people will love to share and link back to.
Here are some small businesses that are nailing it on the link building front (and they probably don’t even realize it):
Stumptown: We really love coffee in San Francisco and Stumptown out of Portland, Oregon is among our favorites. Stumptown Coffee often writes blog posts and links back to various coffee shops that use their beans and cold brews – Talk about a link with some juice java! Here’s a perfect example below in which Stumpton writes about Ace Hotel in LA. Not only does Ace Hotel get a link from Stumptown, but they also gain exposure to a new audience.
Taylor Stitch: Looking like a million bucks isn’t hard with some handsome threads from Taylor Stitch. Their blog features stunning real world product photos, weekend plans, and even a weekly playlist. All of these features are ripe for linking, Pinning, Liking and more. Each new product they release gets its own blog post with 8-10 beautifully shot photos, which are always hot on Pinterest, and often get write ups on fashion blogs and even GQ – Now that’s a good looking link!
Off the Grid: This San Francisco food truck gathering is always the talk of the office come Monday morning. Maybe it’s the Bloody Mary cart, Mimosa bar or the tofu tacos, but Off the Grid is the place to be for Sunday Funday. You want a link from Off the Grid? Better fire up your food truck, because they are more than happy to link to your site, menus and everything else if you serve food or drinks at their events. They even include a link to book your truck for catering. Now wouldn’t that be a tasty link to get?
If you have some good examples of how you gain quality links, please share in the comments. We also recommend keeping up with Google’s ever-changing rules. Luckily, Google is kind enough to provide a rule book of sorts called Google Webmaster Guidelines, so keep it bookmarked.
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© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Backlinks: Why They Still Matter and How to Build Them appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
Decades ago, Marvin Gaye crooned about hearing news through the grapevine. This 1968 hit was around long before the likes of social media, but let’s be honest – social media is the digital grapevine of our time.
Drawing on the inspiration of singers like Gaye, we’ve created a musically inspired list of tips to help you communicate on social media. After all, social media is about more than status updates, hashtags and selfies. It’s about having a conversation with new and loyal customers. Not to mention, it’s a great way to show off your customer service skills. Here’s how to improve your social media skills:
1. Don’t just “Shout it Out Loud”
KISS is a big fan of shouting, but shouting is just a loud, one-sided conversation. You don’t want that on your social media feeds. Make sure your posts do more than just tell customers something. If that’s all you do, it’s very one-sided. Mix up the kinds of posts you share, including product or service updates, but be sure you’re engaged in the conversation by answering questions or comments.
Sure, you should let customers know about an upcoming sale or tell subscribers about a new service that you’re about to add, but make sure these informational posts aren’t the only think you’re posting. What else should you post? Bonnie Raitt has a few ideas.
2. “Let’s Give Them Something To Talk About”
Raitt’s got the right idea. When it comes to posting messages on social media, try to give people something to talk about.
“Questions are great conversation starters,” Derek Overbey, our Senior Social Media Manager says. “They can be general life questions or more business-focused, depending on your type of company.”
Take a look at the example below from the San Francisco Ballet, which garnered 40+ comments:
Other types of content like humorous photos, memes and videos can also spark conversation.
3. Be sure to “Answer Me”
Nat King Cole wanted an answer, and so do your social media followers. When a customer responds to a question, asks a question, retweets something you posted, comments on a photo, or signs up for a social contest, respond in a timely manner.
“If someone takes the time to like, comment or share, you should do everything in your power to publicly thank them for that effort,” Overbey says.
“This will help you build a tighter relationship and can go a long way to building a team of advocates that can spread the word about your company,” he adds.
Monitor your social channels often to keep the conversation going.
4. You should “Talk The Talk”
You know your product or service inside and out. Share that knowledge to help your customers use your product or service better. In other words, “Talk the Talk” as Mr. Mister’s 80s song title suggests.
For example, if you own a photography business, share a link to help your customers care for their camera after taking pictures in bad weather.
Make sure the article is written in a conversational tone, avoid sales pitches, and offer your customers value. It should be information that helps your customer in some way. Take this tweet for example. We offer some creative help for our customers.
The bottom line: Make sure you post engaging content, respond to comments and work to have a two-way conversation with your followers. If you do this, they’ll “Thank You for Being a Friend.”
Have another suggestion? Please share it. We can all improve “With a Little Help From Our Friends.”
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The post 4 Motivational Melodies to Help You Communicate on Social Media appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
For many small businesses, the holiday season accounts for a large percentage of annual sales, and the holiday train seems to pull out of the station earlier every year. Before Halloween has even passed, snowflakes, lights and all other manner of holiday-oriented decorations pop up in both stores and on e-commerce websites.
With a huge chunk of annual revenue at stake, and the fast-approaching deadline to promote, it’s time to start prepping for your holiday selling season now. Here’s how you should prepare:
Use What You Already Know
Think about what you did last holiday season. What worked? What didn’t? Apply what you learned from that experience to this year’s marketing strategy. You also know what’s worked this year thus far – product types, advertising, social media campaigns. Leverage what’s been working for you and apply it to your holiday marketing activities.
Determine Your Holiday Product Promotions
Which products will be your hot sellers? If you know, consider applying heavier discounts now on your least popular items to make room for those more popular later in the year. Once you zero in on those products, consider the following:
Plan Out Your Holiday Marketing Activities
Once you know which products you want to focus on, start thinking about how you want to spend your advertising dollars and where you want to expend your marketing efforts. What’s going to create the biggest bang for the buck? Here’s an example of how one retailer can promote their Black Friday sale (the day after Thanksgiving) which is Nov 28th of this year.
What’s effective about all these marketing activities is that each one can be prepped now. You could create your landing page, email and social posts and have them ready to launch in November. This work can be done up front and then edited, if needed, closer to launch date. You can get these marketing steps done in advance so you can focus on all of the other things you need to do to get ready for this heavy buying season.
Other marketing campaigns that may need a special holiday touch include:
Get Your Website and/or Retail Location in the Holiday Spirit
For those who have retail locations, determine which seasonal touches you’re going to use to amp up the holiday vibe. If you need decorations, make sure you order or purchase them ahead of time. Get shoppers in the mood with some holiday music. Pick a Pandora station, Spotify playlist or a popular CD and pipe in that music to get customers in the holiday frame of mind.
For business owners who rely upon online sales, you can get in the holiday spirit, too. Update your logo to match the season. Check out how this company updated their logo for Thanksgiving:
If you don’t have a graphic designer to help you out with “holiday-izing” your logo, we can help.
One overarching strategy for your e-commerce website that’s especially important during the busy holiday season is to make your website mobile friendly. More and more shoppers are buying via smartphones or tablet devices. According to Nielsen’s Digital Consumer Report, “mobile shopping is gaining momentum among U.S. consumers, as more than four in five (87%) smartphone and tablet owners say they use these devices for shopping activities, up 8 percentage points from 2012.” Don’t miss out on sales because you don’t have a mobile optimized site.
Besides buying online, many mobile users (up to 55%) are using their smartphones to read reviews and 23% are writing reviews after their purchases. If you haven’t checked out your online reviews lately (on sites like Yelp), make sure to do so now. Get actively involved in responding to reviews – whether positive or negative. Shoppers will be more likely to visit you if you’re engaged and proactive in your business.
The holidays are a busy time for small business owners, both professionally and personally. By planning your marketing activities now, you’ll have more time to help your business be a success during the holiday season.
When do you prep for the holiday season? Have any other ideas to share? Let us know in the comments below.
Get your holiday marketing started now with VerticalResponse.
The post How to Prep Your Business Now for the Holiday Season appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
You want your emails to stand out, grab attention and make your readers take action. To do that takes a dose of creativity, a pinch of time and a heaping-helping of tips from your favorite email service provider, VerticalResponse.
We’ve created a recipe of sorts, so the next time you sit down to whip up a batch of sweet emails you’ll have all the ingredients you need to grab readers’ attention.
1. Create a killer subject line from scratch
When you bake chocolate chip cookies your whole house smells great, right? That smell grab’s attention and motivates your family to head to the kitchen for a treat. Think of your subject line as that mouth-watering, cookie-induced aroma.
“Your subject line needs one fantastic lure to get people to open and check out your email,” says our Community Education and Training Manager Jill Bastian.
To create a killer subject line you should:
2. Add an incentive
One of the best ways to get recipients to notice your emails is to offer an incentive. Who doesn’t love a good deal? Consider sending an email with a discount code or free shipping. Maybe your loyal customers receive a free gift with their purchase, or a gift card when referring a friend. Drugstore.com has a great example.
Of course, promotional emails like this should be sent as part of a varied email diet. In other words, these emails should be sent once in a while, not every day.
3. Add a pinch of inspiration
An email that advertises a sale is great, but providing inspiration is even better, Bastian says. Take a look at the example below. Bastian, who loves to knit in her spare time, says the email below inspires her to get her needles moving.
“What I really want is content to inspire me to create something new with the yarn I have,” she says. “Those are the emails that I spend time looking at, or clicking to check out a pattern on their website.”
When you’re creating your next email, inspire your customers. Help them use your product in new and fun ways.
4. Stir in a call-to-action
One of the biggest eye-catching ingredients in your email should be a call-to-action. When a recipient opens an email, he or she should know exactly what you want them to do. If you want them to email you, there should a call-to-action button that says “Contact Us.” If you want them to make a purchase, there should be a call to action that says, “Start Shopping.”
These buttons should be visibly different than the rest of your email. Take a look at the example below. The call-to-action grabs your attention. It’s a different color than the text, its size draws your eye, and it’s in a prominent location.
5. Presentation counts
If a dessert looks tempting, it will sell. It’s the same with emails. Your emails need to have a professional, modern look to catch people’s attention. Fortunately, we have a bunch of vibrant, easy-to-use templates already set up for you.
How do you make sure your emails grab attention? We’d love to hear your suggestions. Feel free to share them in the comment section below to fuel everyone’s email appetite.
Ready to whip up your next email? Get started with VerticalResponse.
When you send an email for your business, you expect it to simply appear in your subscribers’ inboxes, right? Well, there’s a lot more to getting email delivered than you may expect. Email Service Providers (ESP), like VerticalResponse, do a lot to ensure your email makes it to the inbox, but you play a part in delivery, too. This infographic outlines dos and don’ts you should follow to help your emails make it into the inbox, rather than the dreaded Spam folder.
Learn more about email delivery in our Ultimate Guide to Email Delivery – To the Inbox & Beyond.
Start emailing with VerticalResponse now.
The post The Dos and Don’ts of Email Delivery [Infographic] appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
Running a small business involves wearing many hats, and you may find yourself wishing you had an extra set of helping hands. Luckily, Using online apps and business tools can help run your business more efficiently.
We’ve found five business tools which can help you boost your favorite pages or profiles in search engines; monitor online reviews; track down specific individuals you’d like to reach out to; and even see what stories and blog posts your friends and colleagues are discussing while you’re busy running your business. Pick and choose the tools specific to your goals and industry, and voila! All the results in a fraction of the time.
If you need to keep tabs on the latest news and opinion pieces online, Nuzzel can keep you in the loop in substantially less time. Nuzzel is a free app for iPhones that allows you to see just what people posted while you were working. You can look at news by people you’re connected to on social media, as well as stories you may have missed. You can even read what your friends and colleagues are saying about each post – which is useful whether you were away from your desk or just need a refresher. Another option is to look at featured feeds or your friends’ feeds. Nuzzel is also a good complement to your favorite news sources. Getting too many or too few alerts? You can set the max number of alerts per day, as well as decide how many shares from friends you’d like before receiving an alert.
What people say about your business on Yelp, Google+, TripAdvisor, and other review sites can impact on your bottom line. Reputology helps you monitor incoming reviews, making it easier to build loyalty by responding to both positive and negative reviews. Reputology can cut down your response time and make sure you’re monitoring reviews on various sites where people share their opinion.
Reputology costs $25 a month, though a limited free version is available as well.
If poor reviews affect your business, or you just want to make sure to push up the positive results found on Google and de-prioritize the ones that are either negative or irrelevant, BrandYourself can help. It offers a free service that can help you boost up to three links – and if you’re a relatively new business and not well known yet, it can help get your name out there. Paid version options are more robust, allowing you to boost additional pages as well as profiles in sites such as Pinterest, WordPress, Flickr, FourSquare and more.
4. Google My Business
If you’re interested in increasing your visibility in Google (including Google Maps, search and Google+), use this site to access all of your applications in one place. This is particularly important if you’d like to correct any inaccurate information on your website URL, address, phone number, and so forth. It also allows you to look at Google reviews, share information on Google+ directly from the page, look at analytics, and even gain insights on your site’s engagement, audience and visibility. And, it’s free.
Meeting the right people can absolutely make a difference in your business, but building connections and forming relationships takes time. Reachable doesn’t turn an ongoing process into one you can complete overnight, but it does point you in the right direction. By linking into your social media networks – and, ideally, those of your teammates as well – Reachable helps you see the degrees of separation between you and an influencer you wish to meet. Reachable helps you see the path, so you can leverage personal and group connections for specific introductions you want.
What are some of your favorite business tools/ Share away in the comments!
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Google announced yesterday that after three years, the company has retired Google Authorship. Authorship joins other retired Google products like Google Reader to face an early Google grave. We saw the writing on the wall a few months ago when we shared that Google reduced the appearance of Authorship photos in search engine results pages (SERPs).
John Muller of Google Webmaster Tools announced in a Google+ post that the Authorship project has been put to rest after continuous updating, tweaking and honing. “Unfortunately, we’ve also observed that this information isn’t as useful to our users as we’d hoped, and can even distract from those results. With this in mind, we’ve made the difficult decision to stop showing authorship in search results,” says Muller.
Google’s primary reasons for ending the project: Low adoption rates by authors and webmasters, and very little change in “click behavior.” John Mueller stated back in June when they decided to remove author photos that, “our experiments indicate that click-through behavior on this new less-cluttered design is similar to the previous one.”
SearchEngineLand found that “about 70% of authors from 150 different major media websites did not make any attempt to connect authorship.” This isn’t shocking because majority of Authorship implementation was done by SEOs and marketers who were trying to get a leg up on the competition.
SearchEngineLand suggests the project failed due to a lack of Google Authorship promotion and a complicated set up. “We realize authorship wasn’t always easy to implement, and we greatly appreciate the effort you put into continually improving your sites for your users,” says Muller.
Muller also mentioned that Search users will still continue to see Google+ posts from friends and pages when they’re relevant to the query.
There also isn’t any reason to remove the code from your site, if you did implement it.
Did you use Google Authorship? Why or why not? Share away in the comments.
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Recently, I had a music journalist and friend conduct an interview with one of our favorite artists. The day the interview went live, I was beaming with pride for my writer pal and couldn’t wait to share his article with the rest of the world. When I finished reading the interview, I enthusiastically searched the bottom of the article for a sign of those social sharing buttons, but I couldn’t find them? “Maybe they’re at the top!” I thought. So I quickly scrolled to the beginning of the article, and found nothing. Astonishment began to sink in.
Was this very well known website (which shall remain nameless) really making me work this hard to share its content? Sure, I could copy and paste the URL of the post into my various social accounts, but I’d also have to log into Twitter, Facebook and my email individually to do so – which is also more difficult and time consuming to do on a mobile phone. I wanted to share this content ASAP with one click, but I couldn’t. So guess what I did? Nothing. I didn’t share the article at all.
You may not realize it, but making it difficult for readers to share your content is committing content and social media sabotage. You’re obstructing eager readers who, might I add, are helping you with your social media marketing efforts for free, and getting your word out. It can also give the impression that you don’t care.
Am I making a big deal over a few missing or hard-to-find social sharing buttons? Who even notices them, right? Well, according to new research from ShareThis, “the sharing of content through social media and email consistently outperforms both consumer ratings and consumer reviews. And, surprisingly, online sharing carries essentially the same weight as in-person recommendations.”
Plus, according to the study, “positive online shares generate a 9.5% increase in purchase intent.”
New research from AddThis also shows that clicking the “share to Facebook” button is more popular (26%) than copying and pasting the URL (21%), when it comes to sharing content. For certain topics or industries, such as entertainment and sports, the tendency to “share to Facebook” is even more popular, reaching heights of 36 percent. When it comes to food-related content, clicking the “Pin it” icon sweeps the competition with a popularity of 46 percent.
If you don’t have social sharing buttons, if they’re hard to locate or they’re hidden, if you don’t have enough, too many, and/or they’re not located in just the right place, you, my friend, could be sabotaging your very own content and social media marketing efforts! Here’s how to recover:
1. Get the right social sharing buttons ASAP
If you don’t have social sharing buttons on your blog, website, or in your email, add them ASAP. If do have them, but they’re hard to find (ask someone who’s never seen your site before), make them visible STAT.
You can easily grab social sharing buttons directly from each social network, which you can embed on your site. There are also several third-party social sharing widgets and applications you can choose from such as AddThis, ShareThis, or WordPress plugins like Digg Digg. Most of these third-party applications are free, easy-to-implement, customizable, and even provide you analytics.
2. Find the right mix
So how many social sites should you include, and which ones? If it wasn’t obvious from above, Facebook should absolutely be your number one social sharing site to include in your sharing widget.
There’s a lot of conflicting data about how many you should offer, but according to a recent article by Rebecca Watson and research from the Content Marketing Institute, audiences are continuously shifting to various social channels. Only offering a limited number of social sharing options such as Facebook and Twitter, limits page views. “Our data — based on access to share and click-back data for hundreds of thousands of websites — indicate that websites giving users a minimum of five choices generate the largest volume of sharing,” Watson says. However, don’t let loose with that stat just yet.
Neil Patel at Quicksprout did a social sharing button study in which he added two more social network options in addition to his current three. What did he discover? He received a decrease in overall shares by 29 percent.
Bottom line: Test this out with your own content. Some social sharing button applications/widgets even include logic (like the one we use here at VR via AddThis), in which they only display the social networks that are commonly used amongst your individual reader – Pretty neat.
Bonus tip: Don’t go crazy! Including several social sharing buttons/options can slow down a blog or website big time. Page load time and speed should be a major priority for your website or blog. According to Kissmetrics, 40 percent of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load. Choose just a handful of main social sites to display, and use an additional button that has the capability to roll up several social sites into one such as this example:
3. Get strategic with your placements
Anywhere you have content (blog posts, email, videos, pictures, case studies, press releases), you should also have social sharing buttons. But where exactly should they be located? It all depends on your visitors, the length of your content, the type of engagement you’re trying to achieve, or already have, etc. Here are the pros and cons of each placement:
Pros: People see your social sharing buttons immediately, and they also know exactly what they’re sharing, as your buttons are most likely located near your headline, video or image. If you choose social sharing buttons with counters (the number of times your content has been shared on a particular social site), and you’ve got big numbers, readers will see the post is popular, may be more enticed to share it, and/or will also associate your post with even more authority/validity.
Cons: People have to scroll back up to the top to share your post and may get distracted in the process, especially if you have enticing related articles at the bottom.
Pros: If you have lengthy blog posts, a hovering social plugin that follows readers along the side of the article will ensure a reader knows where your social sharing buttons are at all times. Chances are, not everyone will make it to the bottom of your post.
Cons: Depending on the screen size, a floating sidebar can sometimes cover up your content, which can result in an irritating user experience.
Pros: Once people have made it to the bottom of your post, they can share it immediately.
Cons: People may not make it all the way to the bottom, and if they don’t get there, your opportunity may be lost.
Bottom line: Try a combination of no more than two placement, and again, test.
Bonus tip: Don’t place your social sharing buttons in the navigation bar of your site. No one will look for them or expect to find them there.
4. Write Relevant Content
The inclusion and strategic placement of your social sharing buttons doesn’t mean much if your content is blasé – the biggest sabotage of all. Take the time to write valuable, educational, inspiring, and/or relevant content first, and the shares will follow.
Have a favorite social sharing application? Share it with us!
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The post Are You Committing Content and Social Media Sabotage? appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
Despite the rise of social media, many recommendations still happen offline, with people sharing their experiences with friends over the phone or face-to-face.
On the surface, word-of-mouth marketing may seem more geared towards large companies, but this isn’t entirely accurate.
“Small businesses have a huge advantage over large companies in word-of-mouth marketing because the distance between company owner and customers is much closer,” says Brad Fay, chief operating officer of Keller Fay Group, an award-winning word-of-mouth research and consulting company, and chairman of the board of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association. “There’s an opportunity for customers to have a relationship with management, and so it’s easier to customize offers, to give personal attention, and these are things that tend to raise the level of satisfaction that the customers have and their willingness to advocate [on behalf of the businesses],” he adds.
For example, Fay points out that, typically, local banks have stronger customer satisfaction scores than big banks.
“The reason is that the smaller banks are closer to their customers,” he says. “The customer feels like the bank is more committed to the local community, they feel like they’re getting more personal attention, and they’re more likely to be recognized when they walk into the bank, so that more personalized service is absolutely more likely to lead to advocacy.” Because people want to recommend the companies and brands that they know and trust, small businesses have a huge advantage.
While there are no prototypical word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, the options are limitless. Here are a few that Fay mentioned:
“What all word-of-mouth campaigns have in common is a strategy of encouraging customer recommendations and conversation,” Fay explains.
Here are three highly effective word-of-mouth strategies.
1. Have a good founding story. “When people recommend a company they like to explain the background, the reason the company was started, and so forth. You want to feel a personal connection, and if there’s a story you can relate to, you’re more likely to recommend them.” For more information on creating a compelling brand story, see our post on finding your brand’s content marketing narrative.
2. Treat your customers like gold. Although some businesses like to offer great deals for new customers or clients – offering better rates than they do for their regular, established clients, for example – Fay warns against the practice of sacrificing current customers to try to gain future ones. This can make it more difficult to get referrals from those who are satisfied with your business. Keep current customers extremely satisfied, and it will encourage them to spread the word.
3. Find ways to show that you care for your current customers or clients. Even small gestures can have a big effect. A recent example: I stayed at Magnolia Hotel in Denver, and was thrilled that they offered free milk and cookies before bedtime – to the point that I mentioned it on social media and even texted my husband to let him know my options: regular milk, chocolate milk or strawberry milk.
Fay’s example: a local wine shop called the Princeton Corkscrew. “They keep a record of my past purchases and my credit card number, and it makes it incredibly easy for me to call them up and say, ‘can you please send me a case of wine I got last time?’ and they’ll deliver it,” he explains. “The way they manage the information and the service they have in delivering the wine makes me incredibly loyal, and I advocate them to everybody. Sometimes it’s just providing a really good service and being convenient.”
This is in addition to the personal touch referenced earlier. When Fay walks into the store, they recognize him and give him advice on new wines to try. This personal touch can have a greater effect than social media marketing. “The owner of the shop is very visible. He does have a LinkedIn profile and a LinkedIn group, but I’ve never engaged with them on LinkedIn,” Fay explains.
People are likely to tell everyone they know about a bad experience with a business, but they’re usually thrilled to pass on information about good experiences, too. And that’s what word-of-mouth marketing is all about.
Your Turn: Which small businesses do you recommend to your friends? What did they do that stood out?
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The post 3 Highly Effective Word-of-Mouth Marketing Tactics appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
Instagram has officially jumped on the ‘social media is for businesses, too’ bandwagon. This week, the image-based social site with more than 200 million users worldwide, has announced a new suite of tools and real-time campaign data “to help brands better understand the performance of their paid and organic content on Instagram.”
The tools available for businesses will include:
Instagram states they’re currently making the tools available for all Instagram advertisers in order to gain feedback, and will be rolling out the features for all other businesses in the next few weeks and months.
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No matter how big or small your company is, you need to know what’s going on with your employees. After all, they reflect who you are and how you want your business to be perceived.
So, how do you find out how your employees feel about you, their peers, or the company in general? There are two really simple ways you should try: Exit and stay interviews. You’ve probably heard of them before, but putting them into practice – and doing them right – is easier said than done. Here’s what I’ve learned:The Exit Interview
When someone leaves our company, we hold a casual exit interview before they leave. We want to get insights into why they’re leaving and what we could have done better to keep them. Our human resources director, Leslie captures all the feedback and circulates it to their managers and me. Sometimes it’s a tough read, but it only helps in the long run to assist us in addressing issues.
Tip: Exit interviews are the last impression an employee has of your company so ensure it is professional, respectful and leaves them feeling valued for the work they contributed. Give them a chance to communicate what they liked and what can be improved upon. You can learn a lot from this feedback.The Stay Interview
A stay interview is essentially an exit interview that happens before an employee is out the door. Leslie came up with a similar idea: a one-year check in. She sits down with folks after a year of service and asks them questions about what they’d do to make our company better, how they like their work and what their aspirations are. Afterwards, she shares it with their managers and me so we know how we’re doing. We use this feedback to make positive changes on the inside, because everything we do inside affects the outside.
When we make changes, employees know they’ve been heard and that’s priceless.
Tip: Hold a touch-base with folks at a regular set interval to get feedback. In the beginning, it might help to check in after their first month and then at the 90-day mark. This can help identify and address issues early on.
What are you doing to understand what’s going on with your people? I’d love to hear what’s working in the comments.
This article by VerticalResponse CEO and founder Janine Popick originally appeared on Inc.com.
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Is your website a little drab? Is its functionality not quite up to par with others? Are you losing customers because your site looks less than stellar on mobile devices? If so, it might be time to reboot your site.
At VerticalResponse, we just overhauled our site to coincide with new services that we’re offering. So if your site is in need of a little refresher, we’ve got just the guy to offer tips: Alf Brand, our director of Marketing Communications and the man who helped launch our new site, has a few pieces of advice to help whip your site into shape.
1. Go with a responsive design
The hot, new and necessary trend for websites is responsive design. Responsive design adjusts the look and layout of your website depending on the device your visitor is using. This allows your site to look good and visible on all devices. This concept has only been around for a few years, with a lot of small businesses making the switch in 2013.
Before this design was available, businesses including VerticalResponse, were maintaining a separate mobile site to capture attention on smartphones. Now you can use one design and your site will look stunning across all devices, Brand says.
“I highly recommend making your site responsive,” he says. “More and more people are browsing on mobile every day; you need to be ready for them.”
Here’s a snapshot of what our responsive website looks like on a mobile device:
2. Add an email sign-up form
One of the main purposes of your website is to capture new leads. Adding a place for prospective customers to receive your emails can do just that. With each new contact, you stand a greater chance of converting them into a paying customer if you can deliver a few top-notch emails.
The sign up form doesn’t have to be a pop up, or even take up a lot of room on your site, but make sure people can find it! Check out our own VR Buzz email newsletter sign up form on our blog. All we ask for is an email address. Simple. Clean. Effective. Here are six perfect places for your sign up form.
3. Add social media links
Social media is alive and kicking, and if you want to capitalize on these channels as marketing tools, you’ll want to include links on your home page. Here’s how they look on our site:
Some business owners put the link on the contact page, but it’s a better idea to keep those links front and center and on every page. Giving potential customers additional ways to interact with your business is always a good idea.
4. Improve navigation
Can customers tour around your site with ease? The navigation might seem simple to you, but it might not be as easy to maneuver for your customers.
Ask a few friends to surf your site. Ask them what they think of the experience. Think of it as a mini-test group. Take their feedback and provide it to your web designer, or make the changes yourself if you maintain your site.
As you plan your improvements, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Don’t change it just because
Know why you want to change your site. Have specific goals, and make sure you’re making these changes for a reason. Testing changes before you make them is also a good bet.
Make incremental changes
Make small, incremental changes. Watch how they impact your conversion rates and make adjustments as needed.
Don’t get overly trendy
Just like teased hair and flannel shirts, website fads come and go. You don’t have to go with the trendiest design. Just because it’s popular doesn’t mean it will work for your customers. Don’t assume any look will work. Test it to be sure.
Keep content conversational
People are coming to your site to learn more about your business or brand, so make sure you create interesting content that’s conversational. Keep it light and allow customers to navigate deeper to learn more.
How have you improved or revamped your site?
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In this episode of “The Magic @ Ball of Social Media,” we sit down with Tom Martin, Digital Marketing Strategist at Converse Digital and author of The Invisible Sale. Martin shares his perspective on how small businesses can engage with their community.
A key takeaway that Martin shares: One thing that a big business can never take away from a small business is the perception that they are small and intimate. Big businesses have a hard time obtaining that connection with their customers.
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The post Advice from a Social Pro: How to Engage with Your Audience [VIDEO] appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
Finding time to update or create your online business listings can sometimes be a challenge. But, once you claim your listing, you can control what information and images are shown on these sites about your business, which is certainly worth the effort.
In most cases, you may already have a listing, so it’s just a matter of claiming the page for your business. What’s the difference between updating and claiming? Updating means you’ve created an account and just need to add new information to the page. Claiming means that a page for your business exists, but you may not have created or set it up. In this case, you’ll need to prove it’s your business before you can change any information.
There are several sites your business could be listed on, so how do you choose the best? Easy! Here are our top 7 business listing sites you should claim and/or update:
1. Google My Business - Google My Business says it “connects you directly with customers, whether they’re looking for you on Search, Maps or Google+.”
How to claim or edit your business listing: Click the “Get on Google” anywhere on the page, sign in to your Google account, and follow the steps to add your business information to Google.
2. Facebook for Business - According to Facebook, it “can help you reach all the people who matter most to your business.”
3. Yelp for Business - According to Yelp, “Millions of people visit Yelp every month to find great local businesses. Help them find your business – free!”How to claim or edit your business listing: Click here to search for your business. If it exists, you’ll see two options: A Claim button or an Already Claimed link. Click the option you see and either log in, or set up an account to edit it.
4. Yellow Pages - According to YellowPages, they “will not only get you online, but can also help you get found, drive leads and expand your reach.”
How to claim or edit your business listing: Click here to update your business details and then click “Get your listing fee.” 5. Yahoo Local - According to Yahoo, they are “a comprehensive business directory complete with ratings and reviews, maps, events, and more.”
How to claim or edit your business listing: Scroll down this page to “Try Local Basic Listing for free” and click, “Sign Up.” Then, update your business contact information including address, phone number, and URL. You don’t need to pay for this service. 6. Bing Places for Business  According to Bing,”Places for Business is a Bing portal that enables business owners add a listing for their business on Bing.”
How to claim or edit your business listing: Chances are, Bing already has listings for your business. Click here to claim it.
7. Foursquare for Business - According to Foursquare, “Over 50 million people use Foursquare to discover great businesses and share what they love about them with others. Join the nearly 2 million businesses who are already taking advantage of Foursquare to join the conversation and grow their business.”
How to claim or edit your business listing: Start by searching for your business, then select your listing. If you don’t see your business just click the link at the bottom of the page to add it. Click here to manage your listing.
Vital information you should include on every listing:
Be prepared to fill out the following information, and keep it consistent on each site. Consistency helps your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts.
Keep a document of each listing so you can duplicate it exactly. Check on your listings and update your information (if applicable) every six months. Also, keep images of your business current and compelling to draw in prospects and customers.
*Bonus Tip* If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, encourage people to “check-in”and write a review by displaying a sign in your business window that states the sites in which you’re listed.
Have any sites to add to our tops? We’ve got more here in the Top 20 Places Your Business Needs to Be Listed Online.
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The post 7 Local Business Listing Sites You Should Claim Now appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
When it comes to social media, it often seems that large businesses get all the buzz, with high-profile marketing campaigns and monumental budgets. However, SMBs are making waves of their own. Here’s a look at five SMBS we found to be excelling on social media.
1. Epicurean Connection
The Epicurean Connection, a VerticalResponse customer and small wine and cheese shop in Sonoma, California, is owned by Sheana Davis. The store sells specialty and gourmet products, including local wines, craft beers, and artisan and farmstead cheeses. Epicurean Connection events often include cheese-making classes, live music, and more.
“She [Davis] hosts these gatherings at her shop during the week and brings all these people in,” says Derek Overbey, our senior social media manager. “She’s really active on social to not only gain new clients and get people to come into her shop, but she also stays in touch with those who come in on a more regular basis.”
Davis uses her own personal Twitter account to draw people to her Facebook page. She has amassed 2,436 Facebook likes and more than 1,600 Twitter followers. Also, the shop is reviewed on Yelp and TripAdvisor and listed on Foursquare.
California-based Tacolicious started out as a little taco stand at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmer’s market on Thursdays. Eventually, they got so busy with the stand, they opened up a physical location as well, which has since expanded to four Bay Area restaurants. They also continue to run the original taco stand. Tacolicious has amassed close to 5,000 Twitter followers, tweeting different tacos of the week, and a robust Facebook presence with just under 6,000 likes. The popular eatery is also reviewed on Yelp and TripAdvisor, as well as Foursquare.
3. Blonde Chicken
Tara Swiger is multi-talented. She dyes and spins her own yarn, which she sells to stores and individuals, and also teaches marketing skills for creative business owners. Swiger’s social media presence is vast. In addition to using Twitter, where she’s just shy of 4,500 followers, Swiger uses her YouTube channel to share tutorials on knitting, spinning and dyeing yarn along with inspirational videos on creative businesses.
Yarn is incredibly visual, and Swiger takes advantage of that by posting photographs on Pinterest (where she has 883 connections) and Flickr. Her friends and fans can share photos in her Flickr page as well. Swiger also has a presence on Ravelry, a free site for knitters. She has 364 highly targeted friends on the site and a total of 92 in a group called Blonde Chicken-ettes.
4. Death’s Door Spirits
Located in Middleton, Wisconsin, Death’s Door Spirits works with local farmers to create gin, vodka and white whiskey. Its award-winning gin, distilled in small batches in copper pot stills, is flavored with just three ingredients: wild juniper berries, coriander and fennel. Death’s Door Spirits actually distills its own base as well, from local organic malted barley and organic wheat from Washington Island. Its website features seasonal recipes created by mixologist John Kinder, a list of upcoming events, and a web cam of Washington Island. (Death’s Door Spirits is named after the navigational passage of water between Washington Island and the Door County peninsula in Lake Michigan.)
To supplement its site, Death’s Door Spirits has an active Twitter presence with more than 5,000 followers, close to 6,000 likes on Facebook, and just over 400 followers on Instagram. Death’s Door Spirits keeps its social media presence light, with images, lists of ingredients, links to reviews, and more. Death’s Door Spirits is also reviewed on TripAdvisor and Yelp, and listed on Foursquare.
5. Northern Spark
Northern Spark may be a celebration that only takes place one night each summer, but you wouldn’t know it from its social media presence. Presented by nonprofit arts organization Northern Light, Northern Spark gathers tens of thousands of people in Minneapolis for an all-night art festival. A few smaller projects take place throughout the year. Northern Spark has an extensive social media footprint year-round, just shy of 7,000 Facebook likes and close to 4,000 Twitter followers. Its targeted audience comes in handy when there are crowdfunding goals to be met: Northern Spark recently raised more than $20,000 on Kickstarter from some 413 backers.
Know of any other small businesses who are excelling on social? Share their pages or handles in the comments below.
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If you’ve ever worked with a PR agency or consultant, a standard offering is media monitoring – tracking your press placements on a regular basis. Typically you’d get a “clip report,” which is a compilation of all your press mentions during a given time period. PR agencies usually subscribe to a media monitoring service, such as Cision, Meltwater or Vocus, which can cost several thousands of dollars per year.
Media monitoring isn’t something that only PR pros can do. There are several inexpensive online tools that will alert you whenever you’re mentioned in the media, and some will even help you search, archive and organize your press coverage, too. (Tip: You can use them to keep tabs on your competitors, too.) While these tools aren’t as robust as the big guys who have PR agencies and corporations as customers, they’ll get the job done, especially if you’re a smaller business.
Here are three media monitoring tools to consider checking out. (Two of them are free!)
Google News Alerts
Even though here at VerticalResponse we use one of the paid services mentioned above to monitor our press coverage, I still have Google News Alerts set up to track our company name as well as all our competitors’ names, just in case. And guess what? Sometimes Google will pick up something that doesn’t come across the monitoring service’s radar until a day or two later.
You can customize how often you want to be alerted (as it happens, once a day or once a week), what sources (news, blogs, videos, etc.), even a preferred language and region. I personally prefer getting alerts as soon as Google finds a new piece of content, so we can react quickly if needed. Cost: Free
Newsle is a media monitoring service that lets you know whenever you, your Facebook friends and/or LinkedIn connections are mentioned in the news or in press releases. (Newsle was acquired by LinkedIn in July.) It’s super easy to use and even has a leaderboard showing who’s mentioned the most. What I really like about Newsle, though, is the ability to see in one dashboard what my journalist connections have recently covered. Cost: Free
Trackur isn’t free, but has some advanced options that might make it worth the price. You get features like archiving, bookmarking and collaboration tools, as well as deeper analysis on sentiment (i.e., if the coverage is favorable, negative or neutral) and overall influence (based on Klout scores). Cost: Starts at $97/month; free trial available
How do you uncover your press coverage? Have any favorite tools or tips of your own? Share ‘em with us.
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The post Psst! 3 Low-Cost Tools to Track What the Media is Saying About You appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
As a non-profit, you work hard to offer unmatched services, promote a cause and improve your community. Like most non-profits, you’re probably doing all of this with limited staff and a tight budget. Fortunately, email and social media marketing are great ways to spread the word about your organization.
“Email and social media marketing is easy and inexpensive,” says Jill Bastian, our Community Education and Training manager. “It can bring much needed attention to a non-profit. The more attention you can get, the more donations, volunteers or supporters you can bring in.”
To help your non-profit thrive, we’ve put together the ultimate email and social media marketing guide. We’ll show you how to use these two marketing vehicles to maximize your reach, boost donations, recruit volunteers and increase awareness.
For starters, let’s talk about the five biggest benefits of email and social media marketing.
1. Solid return on investment
To reiterate, email and social media marketing is an affordable marketing option, which is especially attractive to non-profits working with donations and limited grant money. Did you know we have a generous non-profit discount?
When it comes to email marketing, for every $1 you spend, you get a return of about $40, Bastian says. Social media marketing is free. Of course, there is a time commitment and you can choose to pay for some social advertising; other than that, there’s no cost.
2. Boost public awareness
It’s not always easy to let the public know what you’re up to, but email and social media can help. If you work to grow your email list and social media following, you’ll be able to reach your audience in real time. Awareness is a big piece of any marketing puzzle, and email and social media marketing are easy tools to use from the comfort of your office.
3. Increase involvement
At some point, every non-profit needs a helping hand. With email and social media marketing your non-profit can instantly engage with an audience of potential helpers. Whether you want to recruit volunteers or collect donations, an email and a tweet can go a long way to increase involvement in your organization.
4. Stay in front of supporters
By sending emails and being social, you can stay in front of your supporters. You’re competing for support, so it’s important to keep your non-profit’s name and mission out there for the public to see and hear. With continued communication you’re more likely to see supporters participate throughout the year.
5. Save time
Your time is valuable. That’s why when you use VerticalResponse, you’ll find it easy to create emails and post to your social media accounts. You can create an email and share that same content on your social sites. Plus, you can link your social media accounts to every email that you send through VerticalResponse.
Now, let’s talk about the kinds of emails and social media messages you should send. We’ll start with the top five emails your non-profit should send and give you tips to make each email effective. Keep in mind all of the email content that you send can also be shared on social media.
You can create a newsletter in a snap. A newsletter keeps your supporters in the loop. Talk about upcoming events, show pictures of recent projects, share the story of someone your organization has helped or highlight a volunteer of the month. The possibilities are endless. Here’s an example:
Inviting people to your upcoming event couldn’t be easier through email. You can create a fun and sophisticated invitation to boost attendance at your next fundraiser. Check out the example below.
3. Incentive email
A lot of businesses send discount codes as an incentive to buy, but you can get a little creative and offer incentives like free t-shirts to the first 15 volunteers who sign up for an event. Think of affordable and easy incentives to get people to participate like the animal shelter did in the example below.
4. Thank you email
You can create a professional thank you card and send it to your supporters, volunteers and donors. It’s important to show your appreciation, and an email is a quick and efficient way to do that. When a donor came through with a big donation for an animal shelter, the non-profit sent the email below.
5. Welcome email
When someone new comes along, welcome him or her to the group with a nice email. This email makes a good first impression and shows your supporters that you’re excited to welcome them to the family. Here’s an example:
Now, let’s chat about the social media posts your non-profit can use. Coming up with daily tweets and status updates can be tricky, so we’ve created a list of topics to keep your social media engine running. We’ll highlight each topic with a specific example and give you takeaway tips from each one. You’ll also notice tips that combine both email and social media marketing.
Here are six social media topics to post.
1. Ask for help
As a non-profit, you rely on the generosity of those around you. Social media is a non-intrusive way to ask for help. By posting a message or two about an upcoming fundraiser, event or collection, you can get the word out to your target audience. Take a look at this Facebook post from a Minnesota-based non-profit that offers several support-based programs.
Email + social tip
2. Show volunteers in action
One of the great things about social media is that you can showcase events in real-time. When an event is going on, snap a few pictures or take video with your smartphone and post them to your social media accounts.
“In general, I would say people love pictures and videos, so put as much multimedia content as you can on your social channels,” says Sam Hartman with The Ecology Center of San Francisco, a non-profit that uses VerticalResponse to educate local residents about ecological awareness.
The Ecology Center created a quick video about a handmade oven it made for a community festival and shared it on its YouTube channel.
The point is to show the public what your organization is doing. Whether your volunteers are packing boxes of food for those in need, walking in a local parade, or attending a fundraising gala like those in the Facebook post below, show everyone what your employees, volunteers and donors are doing.
Email + social tip
3. Show your recipients
In some cases, the recipients of your organization may not want to be photographed or even mentioned by name. That’s okay. However, if someone is willing to explain their story, or have their picture taken, social media is an excellent platform to share it.
People want to see their contributions at work and social media is a public way to do just that. Take, for example, the Instagram post below. This non-profit, Feed My Starving Children, sends nutritional meals to poverty-stricken areas.
Email + social tip
4. Share statistics about your cause
Pictures and video can tell a story, but statistics can pack a meaningful punch, too. Sometimes people don’t know the magnitude of a situation. The tweet below educates people about the prevalence of hunger. Statistics make your audience stop and think. Hopefully, it encourages them to do something to help.
Email + social tip:
5. Say thanks
Your organization wouldn’t be where it is without the help of great donors and volunteers, right? Social media gives you the opportunity to publicly thank your supporters for their generosity.
Check out the tweet below. When a big donation came in, the non-profit took a second to show its appreciation on Twitter.
Email + social tip:
6. Promote other channels
If you’re using a variety of social media channels, you can cross-promote your non-profit. For instance, ask your Facebook fans to follow you on Twitter. Get your followers on Instagram to check out your Pinterest feed. The Animal Humane Society used a clever picture of a cat in a post to promote its Instagram feed. Check it out below.
Advice on email and social media posts
To ensure your non-profit gets the most out of its email and social media marketing, here are a few pieces of advice.
By combining your email and social media marketing, you’ll get a lot of mileage out of your efforts. Email and social media are such a big part of people’s lives that it makes sense to use them as marketing tools. Tell us what kinds of emails and posts you create at your non-profit in the comment section below.
Sign up for VerticalResponse’s non-profit discount and get your email and social media marketing going in style!
The post A Fundamental Guide to Email and Social Media Marketing for Non-Profits appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.
Sentence diagramming is the bane of every school kid, and it’s promptly forgotten the moment class is over. You don’t need to delve into the darkness of your youth, but to help illustrate how to create a successful subject line we’re going to break it down, old school.
Subject lines are one of, if not, the most important parts of your email. If your subject line isn’t compelling, your readers won’t open your email, and all your compelling content will be missed. Wondering why you have a low open or click-through rate? The first culprit is your subject line. So, let’s deconstruct some recent subject lines and discuss five tips that’ll help you create engaging ones:
1. Make it Short
Most email programs limit the number of charters that show up in a subject line, which is usually around 50. This means, to ensure your readers see all of your compelling info, you also need to be short and succinct. Can you write a subject line longer than 50 characters? Sure, but keep the most important information in the beginning so it’ll have the most impact. Also, your company name is already listed in the “from label” of your email, so there’s no need to take up even more space by repeating it in the subject line.
2. Use a call-to-action (CTA)
Similar to the content inside your email, the subject line can be even more effective if you tell your readers what you want them to do. CTAs are important because they lead people to take action, such as open, click, sign up or buy. It may be difficult to work in a call-to-action every time, especially with limited characters, but try to do so occasionally.
3. Be topical and have a sense of urgency
Successful subject lines should catch your reader’s attention by being fun, catchy, surprising, and/or informative. A subject line that includes an idea, event or story in the news or pop culture may engage your readers quickly—Just ensure it relates to the content of your email. Use a sense of urgency as well, or a include a limited time frame in which the subscriber has to act on your email, such as “10 hours only” or “3 days left.”
4. Get personal
Try personalizing your subject line with a first name, location, past purchase, etc. to grab attention. A word of caution about using your reader’s name in the subject line: Some people like it and will gladly open your email, others will find it too Big Brother-ish (as if someone’s watching them) and may be turned off. Also be aware that not everyone signs up with his or her real name (ex: Queen of the land!), and that can result in some strange, funny and/or peculiar personalization.
5. Use something other than “free”
The word “free,” and the phrase “free shipping” is one of the most commonly used phrases in subject lines. While “free” can be compelling, your email also needs to stand out amongst the other “free” subject lines. Use a variety of words, offers and promotions, and always include relevant content to hook your readers. The same can be said for using symbols in your subject lines; less is more.
With these guidelines in mind, let’s take a look at few subject lines that have shown up in our inboxes recently:
As always, test your subject lines by including a variety of calls-to-action, personalization, or even symbols in your subject lines, and let us know what works best for you!
Want to get started with email marketing and create your own compelling subject lines? Try VerticalResponse!