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How to Remove the VerticalResponse Footer Logo from Your Emails

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 09:56

Here in the VerticalResponse office we have lots of things with our logo on them - cups, banners, heaps of awards, tote bags, and of course t-shirts. We even designed a shirt for dogs. Turns out, our furry friends love wearing a purple tee with a big V on the back. It’s possible though, that not everyone is as enamored with our logo as we are, so we’ve made it easy to remove the logo from the footer of the emails you send through our system.

Here’s how to remove the logo from your VerticalResponse emails:

  • Go to Profile in the top right corner of your account
  • Select My Contact Info
  • At the bottom of the page click the box to turn off the logo
  • Click Save at the top of the page

It’s that easy. When you choose to remove the logo, the action will be applied to any future emails you create; any that you’ve already sent out or are in draft will still contain the logo. If you’ve set up an autoresponder email and you choose to remove the logo, we’ll remove it on the next email sent from the system. No need to create a new email or pause your autoresponder.


This option is only available for the new VerticalResponse for paid accounts.  If you are using our free plan, and want to remove the logo, simply upgrade your account.

The choice is now yours to display our logo in the footer of your email, or not. We kind of hope you like it as much as we do, but we won’t take it personally if you chose to remove it.

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

The post How to Remove the VerticalResponse Footer Logo from Your Emails appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

What Does Facebook’s News Feed Updates Mean for You?

Thu, 04/23/2015 - 06:00

In an effort to the find the right mix of content for people’s News Feed, Facebook announced three updates. While the updates aim to improve the experience for most users, these changes could have a negative impact on business pages.

While many brands and marketers have become immune to Facebook’s frequent algorithm updates, it’s still a good idea to understand them. To help you do that, we’ll break down these recent changes and how they might impact you.

1. Improving the experience for people with limited content

Before this update, users with a smaller group of friends, or fewer liked pages, would see a limited amount of content. Facebook prohibited multiple posts from the same source from appearing in the News Feed. This update now allows users to see more than one post from the same publisher in their feed.

2. Content from Friends supersedes content from Brands

Users complained they missed important updates from close friends. This was especially critical for those with large networks due to the amount of content flowing through their News Feed. With this update, items such as photos, videos, status updates, or links from closest connections will appear higher in the feed so there is a higher likelihood you will see them.

3. Notifications about your Friends liking or commenting on a post will appear lower in News Feed

Facebook users “don’t enjoy seeing stories about their friends liking or commenting on a post.” This update will make these updates appear lower in News Feed or not at all, so you can actually see the content directly from friends and the pages you have liked.

How will these updates affect your Business Page?

Facebook is not sugarcoating anything with this announcement in regard to how it will impact Business Pages. In the blog post, they state the impact on Page distribution will “vary considerably depending on the composition of your audience and your posting activity.” They do warn that “in some cases, post reach and referral traffic could potentially decline.”

This could mean brands and businesses will have to pay an even larger premium to be seen in users News Feeds. What do you think about this latest Facebook News Feed update? We’d love to hear your opinion in the comments.

© 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 What Does Facebook’s News Feed Updates Mean for You? appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

7 Tips to Creating a Memorable Slogan

Wed, 04/22/2015 - 06:00

What makes a slogan memorable? If you’re creating a new slogan for your business or product, you want something that represents your brand and is easy to remember. According to The Washington Post, the top four most recalled slogans are:

  • Just do it! (Nike)
  • I’m lovin’ it (McDonald’s)
  • Have it your way (Burger King)
  • Melts in your mouth, not in your hand (M&Ms)

To help you create a memorable slogan for your business, here are seven tips to get your creative juices flowing:

1. Keep it short and simple

If Las Vegas had tried to use “Whatever you do while you’re in Las Vegas, Stays in Las Vegas” instead of “What Happens Here, Stays Here” it might never have caught on as one of the most popular slogans of all time. Keep your slogan under 9 or 10 words.

2. Be consistent

Consistent branding is key whether you’re a small business or a household name. Make sure your slogan complements your existing logo, company name and projected image. For example, with Pro Carpet Care’s slogan, “Your Greener Cleaner” they streamline their earth-friendly branding with a leaf logo. The color green is used in their website design and marketing materials.

3. Focus on what makes you different

Figure out what your unique selling proposition is and use it. Is your delivery business done with a fleet of electric cars? Does your dental practice cater to those with high anxiety? Crossoak Family Dentistry uses the slogan “We cater to cowards” with a big chicken on its website. Incorporate what makes you special into your slogan if possible.

4. Make it timeless

Verizon had a good run with, “Can you hear me now?” but it was only a matter of time before technology made all cell phone calls clear. You have to change with the times, but when you’re working on a slogan you want to think of its longevity. References to technology or phrases like “the only” are risky. Choose wording that can stand the test of time.

5. Ensure it can stand-alone

Lumberjack’s Restaurant’s “Where the BIG BOYS eat!” tell you about the target persona that you can probably figure out the business with no other hints. You want a slogan that tells your audience what your business is without any additional information.

6. Consider your target market

You’ll also need to consider if your customers are local, national or international. While some locals get Philadelphia’s new slogan, “PHL: Here for the Making,” it may have left tourists scratching their heads. The phased-out Wendy’s slogan, “It’s better here” sounds better suited to a “shop local” campaign than a national fast food chain. Make sure your slogan is clear to your target market.

If you sell to other countries, keep in mind that translating your slogan to another language can significantly change the meaning. When KFC launched in China, their “finger lickin’ good” slogan translated to the unfortunately less appetizing, “eat your fingers off.”

7. Get input

Being creative is a tough job, but there are ways to avoid going it alone. Use Facebook’s poll feature to get opinions from your followers. Use Twitter to host a slogan contest with a designated hashtag to track entries. Or consider some free tagline generators, like Sloganizer.net, Procato.com or SloganGenerator.co, to get your brain warmed up.

Of course, VerticalResponse has a creative team on hand if you need help with your logo, website or other branding materials.

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 7 Tips to Creating a Memorable Slogan appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Top 10 Website Eyesores to Avoid

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 06:00

Whether you use a do-it-yourself website builder or work directly with a designer, check out the following list of website eyesores that should be avoided at all costs. Does your website have any of these inadvertent eyesores?

1. Anything that Blinks

We’ve all been to those sites where either a text or image is blinking at us just begging for attention. It can be very annoying and distracting. Just don’t do it. Instead, if you need to illustrate how something works, try using an animated GIF image to show it like we do with our email creation tool in the example below:

2.  Busy Backgrounds

A background holds the entire theme of a website. Try to pick a color or pattern that complements your text and imagery. Avoid distracting backgrounds that make it hard to read your text. In the example below, the background color and pattern is very distracting and you can barely read the text on the page. 

3. Too Many Fonts and Colors

You want your site to project an image of professionalism and credibility. Pick fonts and colors that complement your brand. Quantity does not necessarily indicate quality with fonts and colors on a site. Best practice is the have two to three fonts and colors per page, maximum. See this post for some advice on the psychology of color and how it can impact your site. 

4. No Clear Focal Point or Call to Action

Not having one or having too many focal points on your website will confuse your site visitors. A focal point is the most important part of the page or the part of the page that is the most dominant and should focus your visitor on taking an intended action. Whether it’s buying something, downloading content or calling to schedule an appointment, make sure your focal point is tied to a clear call to action on your site.

The page example below is clearly overloaded with too many calls to action. As a site visitor, what action are you supposed to take? By the way, this page also has 4 blinking images on it (then again, it is a UFO site!)

5. Text Annoyances

Text annoyances can include text that’s too small, too large, in all caps, bold, italic, or underlined text that’s not linked. It’s especially bad if all of these styles appear in one paragraph or page together. Balance how you treat text so that it’s easily readable. In this case, less is more. 

6. Not Mobile Friendly

Your website should look great on any device your visitor is using, whether it’s a desktop computer, tablet or smartphone. Visitors are less likely to stay on your site if it’s not mobile friendly. It’s important to make your business website mobile friendly not only for visitors, but for search engines as well

7. Outdated Content

Make sure to update your website on a regular basis. Creating and launching your website for the first time is only the beginning. Not only do search engines like sites that are updated on a regular basis, your visitors will too.  Get rid of that reference to a 2012 promotion. Customers want the latest and greatest information about your products, services and company news.  Need some inspiration, read about 4 quick fixes to reboot your website. 

8. Hiding Your Contact Information

Finding your phone number, address and hours of operation should not be a game of hide and seek on your site. It’s one of the primary pieces of information that a visitor will look for. Make sure it’s in a prominent, easy-to-find location.

9. Cluttered Pages

Having white space (where a space is intentionally left blank so there is no text or images) is actually a good thing on a website.  White space can make a page more readable. An overly busy website can be overwhelming to a visitor and will drive them to quickly leave your site. De-cluttering your site and adding white space helps you create an enjoyable experience as well as creating that all-important focal point.

Below is a clear example of how a cluttered website could use a little more white space.

Here’s how white space should be used: 

10. Stop the Music

No music should start automatically playing when someone visits your website. If you absolutely want some mood music playing, make sure it’s consistent across every page and give your visitor the option to pause it when they want.

Check your website against this list of the top ten website eyesores. If you’re in violation of anything on the list, take some time to think about how your website can be more appealing to your visitors so they will come back again and again.

For more design tips, visit the design category of our VerticalResponse blog.  

What other website eyesores would you add to our list? Please share in the comments section below.  

Get more tips and tactics by subscribing to the weekly VerticalResponse email newsletter.

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

The post Top 10 Website Eyesores to Avoid appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Twitter Announces You Can Now Receive Direct Messages from Any User

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 06:00

Twitter announced they made a major change to Direct Messages making it easier to communicate one-to-one or to groups on the social network. The change allows you to send and receive Direct Messages from anyone, even if you’re not following him or her.
You can enable a setting to Receive Direct Messages from anyone on the Security and privacy settings page. According to Twitter’s blog changes also include:

  • A setting that allows you to receive Direct Messages from anyone, even if you don’t follow them. Twitter provides these instructions for changing your settings. 
  • Updated messaging rules so you can reply to anyone who sends you a Direct Message, regardless of whether or not that person follows you.
  • A new Direct Message button on profile pages on Android and iPhone. You’ll see it on the profiles of people you can send Direct Messages to.

Twitter also says that if you receive a Direct Message from someone you don’t want to privately converse with, you can either block the user or unfollow them and delete the conversation. If you have enabled the Receive Direct Messages from anyone setting, blocking the user will stop them from sending you Direct Messages.

What do you think about this change to Direct Messages on Twitter? Will you opt to receive messages from anyone? Share your thoughts in the comments.

© 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 Twitter Announces You Can Now Receive Direct Messages from Any User appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Get Better Results: Grow Clients’ Email Lists the Right Way

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 06:00

No one wants to receive unsolicited email messages when checking their inbox. However, businesses often forget this and want to acquire as many new customers as possible by emailing people regardless of whether or not those potential customers signed up to be on their email list. Poor list building practices and maintenance can hurt email delivery rates and damage businesses’ reputations. When delivery rates are damaged, even those who want to receive your emails can’t get them. Many businesses mean well, but don’t know how they should handle email marketing in comparison to direct mail.

Here are 5 things to look for that may indicate trouble when working with your clients’ lists:

1. Generic email prefixes

Most people don’t sign-up for an email list with a generic email address. If you notice a large number of email addresses with prefixes like info@, sales@, webmaster@, etc. it may be a sign the addresses may have been scraped from the Internet.

2. Age of list

If your client is sending to their list for the first time, find out how long they’ve been collecting email addresses and if those addresses are permission-based. If the list hasn’t been mailed to in over 6 months, it is likely there will be a number of bounces and spam complaints the first time it is mailed to. If your client has sign-up data, sort and remove outdated records before sending. You may also want to send to small sub-sets of the list to measure how email addresses perform before sending to the rest of the list. Lastly, it’s a good idea to remind subscribers where they signed up for the list and the value they will receive by being on it. 

3. Spike in list size

If your client regularly sends to a list of 2,000 people and suddenly gives you a list of 20,000 it’s unlikely the additional 18,000 opted-in to be on their list. Discuss how the addresses were collected with your client and inform them of opt-in best practices (PDF).

4. Small business with a big list

If you’re working with a new client who runs a small business and provides you a large list, you should ask them how they acquired the list. Perhaps it’s a combination of purchased, rented or organically acquired email addresses. Speak with your client to understand how the list was grown and cull out only those who opted-in to receive emails.

5. Website traffic

If your client has low website traffic, but a large list this could be another red flag. Alexa is a great tool for looking at site traffic data. If their page ranks in the hundred thousands, but they have a list of 50k or more this could be a red flag for a non opt-in list and warrants a conversation with the client.

By educating your clients about and reinforcing good email list growth practices, you’ll be able to help your clients realize better results.

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

Written by Christina Hoheisel, Business Development Manager at VerticalResponse.

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

The post Get Better Results: Grow Clients’ Email Lists the Right Way appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

10 Retail Marketing Ideas to Boost Sales

Mon, 04/20/2015 - 06:00

Savvy retailers know that maximizing profits means smart marketing; however, it can be challenging to devote as much time to marketing as you need in order to market more efficiently. To support that effort, we assembled ten retail marketing ideas to help bring increased sales and more loyal customers.

1. Track every marketing campaign
Do you know what your return on investment (ROI) was for the last marketing campaign you launched? If so, was the campaign a success? Did you set specific and measurable goals? It’s important to set campaign goals and then develop mechanisms to track those goals for every marketing campaign you launch, online or off. What are you trying to accomplish with your campaign? Is it more visits to your website, revenue driven by purchases, online post purchase reviews?

Whatever your goal, do a post campaign check-in to measure performance so you can use that information to shape your next campaign. A big piece of strategy is knowing what not to do and if something doesn’t work, you may choose to not do it again, or make some tweaks and retry it another time. 

2. Free marketing opportunities
Do you work the social media sites your customers frequent? Do you place posters and flyers on community bulletin boards, or banners at busy intersections? Have you contacted other local companies who share your target customer base but don’t directly compete with you to develop unique package plans in which all of you market and sell for each other? For example, your retail shop could partner with a restaurant and spa to offer a Mother’s Day package: a gift from your shop, a trip to the spa, and dinner for two.

Free marketing ideas such as these abound; and yes, you might have to pay for printing but distribution can be had for free. You can also send these offers out via an email marketing campaign.

Check out these 9 Emails Your Business Should Be Sending.

3. Repetition
Many retailers send a single direct-mail postcard and are disappointed by the results, never to market with postcards (or other direct-mail tools) again. That’s a mistake, because repetition sells. You’ve probably heard of the rule of seven – a customer has to see an offer seven times to buy. This doesn’t mean you need to send seven different postcards, but two or three won’t hurt, especially when used in conjunction with banners, flyers, ads, and digital marketing.

4. Follow-up
Do you follow up with your customers after they’ve made purchases? Rewarding customers for their loyalty is a great way to build relationships and earn more sales. Send new customers a special gift, such as a ten percent off coupon (which you can track), to encourage them to visit again. Use these four ways to keep customers coming back again and again. 

5. Become a resource
Never miss the opportunity to greet your customers and engage them with an open-ended question about how you can help them. You might ask who they’re shopping for and what that person likes so you can make personalized suggestions. Help customers find the perfect gift (for others or themselves), and become a reliable resource for the future. Providing valuable content in the form of help, advice, tips and how-tos can also help your business stay top of mind with customers.

6. Employee training
You probably spend a lot of time training employees how to work the register, open and close, and keep items stocked – but how much time do you devote to training employees to sell? Training employees how to sell well is crucial to your success. When employees are knowledgeable, capable and efficient they can help keep your customers happy and loyal. 

7. Test
To maximize your ROI; you should try to test multiple versions of your marketing materials against each other to see which performs best. Pick small segments of your mailing list to test your different versions on, then send the winning version to your entire list. This is also an effective strategy for direct mail, email marketing and landing pages. 

8. Target
Do you know what traits are shared by your three best customers? If not, it will be difficult to target the people most likely to be your most profitable customers. Find out everything you can about your very best customers to develop a customer profile; then, target your mailing lists to reach those who match those demographics. Once you have your best customers down, you can create multiple customer profiles for different types of customers for targeting purposes.

9. Build customer relationships
Personal interaction with customers is a great way to establish relationships and encourage long-term customer loyalty. Your marketing can be a natural extension of this, which means you don’t always have to be selling. Send out thank you and birthday emails, anniversary greetings and other relationship building communications. 

10. PR
Public relations and marketing might not be identical, but the end-goal is often similar: to make customers aware of your company, products, and services. When you have a new product, sale, hire, event, charitable contribution, or other newsworthy announcement, draft a quick press release to send to local newspapers, TV stations, radio stations, websites, and bloggers. You won’t always earn coverage, but it only takes a few minutes to write a press release and email it to media members.

Getting covered just once in your local paper can be enough to boost sales. This 7 Tools to Get Free Publicity for Your Business post has more great ideas. 

These ten simple but effective retail marketing tips should help you give your sales a boost and be more effective with your marketing.

Send your retail emails for free with VerticalResponse

This post was originally published by Brian Morris for Bags & Bows and has been edited and repurposed for use by VerticalResponse. 

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

The post 10 Retail Marketing Ideas to Boost Sales appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Create a Call-to-Action on Your Facebook Page [VIDEO]

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 08:44

Facebook has launched a new way to engage with your page community. Aptly named the call-to-action button, this new feature allows people who visit your page to take one of seven different actions with the click of a button. The types of call-to-action buttons you can choose from include:

  • Book Now – This button can be used if your company has an event or webinar that you would like your audience to attend.
  • Contact Us – This button is an easy way for your community to reach out to your company.
  • Use App – If you have an app that you would like your community to try, this is the button to use.
  • Play Game – If you’re in the game development world, there’s a button just for you.
  • Shop Now – If you want to get people from your Facebook page to your e-commerce website then this button fits the bill.
  • Sign Up – If you have a newsletter or email list you want people to sign up for then the Sign Up button will do just that.
  • Watch Video – Have a video on Facebook or YouTube that you’d like your community to watch, this is the button that can make it happen.

In this short video you’ll see examples of different buttons that companies are using, plus you’ll get a quick overview on how to set up a call-to-action button on your page. Take a look and see how quickly you can get your Facebook call-to-action button up and running on your Facebook Page.

Use email and social together with VerticalResponse

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

The post How to Create a Call-to-Action on Your Facebook Page [VIDEO] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Move Your External Marketing Messages In-Store

Thu, 04/16/2015 - 06:00

Marketing may seem like it all happens outside the store – in print media or across cyberspace. But savvy retailers know to combine their external marketing messages and in-store experiences. You want to make sure your store’s external marketing messages are harmonized with your customers’ in-store experiences.

To begin, keep your employees in the know. At your weekly sales meeting, tell every associate your current key marketing messages, and prominently place them on your backroom message board. Sales and sponsorships should be a part of your front-door and phone greetings as well. Create messages that associates can feel natural saying, such as “Welcome to our store! If you’re here for our February Clearance Sale, all of our sale products are in this aisle.” Avoid using cumbersome messages such as, “Welcome to our store where this week we are featuring a buy two get the third half off on every winter shoe over $25.” The same is true for your phone greetings. Keep them short, helpful and easy to remember.

You’ll also want to think of your marketing message as having one of the following three goals. Then match your locations to each message. Here’s how:

Goal #1: Attract people into the store.

Post messages outdoors, on storefront windows, and the front door itself. Outdoor marketing can consist of a sign with changeable letters, a sidewalk sandwich board, or even colored chalk. Depending on your brand’s voice, you can be very business-like or fun and approachable. Match your voice, the message, and the way you talk to your customers. The same “half-off all boots” message can be written on a scrolling LCD panel, posted as a limerick on your changeable store sign, or drawn as a psychedelic graphic on a sidewalk chalkboard depending on your brand voice.

Storefront windows are the first taste for shoppers. The tone of the windows begins the promise of the experience inside. You could, for example, place a sign in your window that says you have creative paper solutions. Or you could hang fifty folded paper cranes in different sizes and colors to communicate the same message. Savvy retailers use the products they sell in hundreds of creative ways to showcase exciting solutions inside. Hire a local art student part-time to help change the windows once a month if you need creative help.

Goal #2: Make a sale to people already in your store.

Use ceiling signs and the counter to deliver your call-to-action message. But beware of how your store space is used. These are the message areas most likely to become cluttered with overlapping signs. Look at your store with a critical eye and always focus on communicating one or two crisp marketing messages, such as a price promotion and a reinforcing loyalty message. Beware, however, if you have too many different messages around the store, such as one for a spring clean-up sale, another touting the fact that you carry their favorite brands, and yet another on how to become a preferred customer. Remember: less is more! Rotate your messages to keep them fresh. Just keep them focused. You’ll also want to be vigilant about removing old signs. Make this a part of a monthly checklist item.

 

Your sales associates are also a part of your brand message. If your target market is local businesses, a store uniform should probably consist of a button-down shirt with an embroidered logo instead of a t-shirt. Your store associates should look credible and approachable to your target market. This means that a written policy on appearance and hygiene may be in order. Reinforce messages with buttons or lanyards worn by your sales associates when appropriate.

Goal #3: Build loyalty for a return visit.

Use your checkout, register receipts, bag stuffers, bags, or even inside of the front door to grab your customers attention and encourage another visit. At the checkout, there should be a pleasant exchange with the cashier that includes an earnest request to visit again. Consider a counter mat that allows you to insert a changing message under its transparent cover to keep it up to date. Here’s where a customer’s most likely to entertain an offer for a loyalty program, a service plan, or home delivery. It’s also where you can deliver a longer message about community programs or sponsorships. Have brochures or other marketing materials available for cashiers to quickly give customers more information if there’s interest in a detailed program. Use acrylic document holders to make organization easy and swift.

If you have a recent point-of-sale system, you can deliver changing messages on customer receipts. Have cashiers remind customers of any offers on their receipts as they conclude transactions. Bag stuffers should either be calls to action for future sales events or reminders about home delivery or online shopping. 

Critique your bag itself and make sure that it reinforces your brand. Today, customers see bags as reusable items. Make sure you provide a bag that customers are proud to use and consider it a marketing expense – not an operating expense – that advertises your brand outside the store.

Finally, there should be a message that gives customers a reason to return as they leave through the front door. This is your very last chance to communicate your brand to customers, so make your message and its means of delivery more memorable than “Have a nice day.”

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

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

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

The post How to Move Your External Marketing Messages In-Store appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Advanced Tips to Optimizing Your LinkedIn Company Page

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 06:00

When was the last time you evaluated your company LinkedIn page? Does it represent your brand well, attract prospective clients, and showcase your business as an authority in its field? 

Many small businesses take the necessary steps to create a company LinkedIn page, but aren’t quite sure if their page is doing all it should. We’re here to provide some advanced tips to make sure your page is the best it can be.

1. Create Showcase Pages

A Showcase Page is an offshoot of your company profile page. On a Showcase Page, you promote a specific product or service that your business offers. Once upon a time, you probably listed this information in your Products and Services tab, but LinkedIn did away with that function. Now you can highlight specific products through Showcase Pages.

On your LinkedIn, Showcase Pages show up on the right-hand side of your page. Look to the right of the Adobe page below and you’ll see how they appear on your main page.

What’s the advantage? You can upload a new logo and banner that’s specific to this product or service. Plus, Showcase Pages have their own analytics, so you’ll be able to track visitor interest. You get more space to promote a specific product, rather than your business as a whole.

Let’s say you sell digital cameras. You can set up a Showcase Page that highlights your best selling camera. Or, let’s say you run a pet shop. You could highlight your pet grooming services on a Showcase Page.

To create a Showcase Page, look under the Edit tab on your company page and select Create a Showcase Page. You’ll fill in the same information that you did for your company page, but this time it’s specific to product or service.

LinkedIn allows you to set up ten Showcase Pages, so focus on your best products and services and remember to maintain these pages as you make changes to your offerings. 

2. Add keywords to your profile

When you were creating your company profile, you probably described your business and products and moved on to the next block of needed information. You might not have considered adding keywords to your profile. LinkedIn profiles are searchable, so you want to make sure that your page comes up when a client or customer enters relevant keywords into the search bar.

What words would your audience use to find your business? Create a list of 5-6 words or short phrases and add those words to your profile page. If you need a little help in the keyword department, you can use Google’s Keyword Planner to help you create a list of keywords to incorporate into your page.

3. Add a ‘follow us’ button

Make sure your company page has a Follow Us button. This easy-to-install icon can help increase your traffic. Social media users are always looking for easy ways to follow and engage with brands, so make it simple for them to join your social bandwagon by adding this button. Here’s the link to generate the button for your company page. You can also generate buttons for your Showcase Pages too.

Remember to add a LinkedIn icon to your business website to drive traffic to and from each site.

4. Write comment-worthy updates

You are probably already posting updates to your company page, so try these tips to make sure those updates are engaging:

  • Ask questions. Give your audience a reason to comment on your updates by asking a question. This post from Commonwealth Bank is a good example. It asks, “Do you have a mentor?” and follows the question up with a post about the importance of mentors.

  • Share unique statistics. Nothing gets an audience talking like a unique statistic. Find a stat that applies to your business, or better yet, share some statistics from a recent customer survey to generate a conversation.
  • Share a link. Updates with a link drive twice as much engagement than those without. Link to a recent blog post you wrote, a YouTube video that you like or an industry-based news piece. 

How does your LinkedIn Company Page help your business? Share your thoughts in the comment section.

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

The post 4 Advanced Tips to Optimizing Your LinkedIn Company Page appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

The Dos and Don’ts of Marketing Warfare

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 06:00

In today’s increasingly crowded product marketplace, it’s essential to have a solid competitive strategy to ensure you stay one step ahead of your competitors in the minds of customers. Implementing marketing warfare strategies is the perfect addition to your overall marketing plans and can help to reshape your standing within an industry.

Developed in 1986 by Al Ries and Jack Trout (considered two of the godfathers of marketing), the theory focuses less on customer-oriented campaigns and more on maximizing all areas of a business towards the goal of outshining others.

The Four Strategies

There are four strategies used in marketing warfare. Each strategy has a specific purpose and can be adopted based on your needs:

Defensive – Most commonly used by the market leader to protect their position. Corresponding tactics include campaign efforts to shift consumer perception closer to their brand and away from other competitors.

Offensive – Also known as the ‘Challenger Brand’, this strategy is valuable for any business holding 2nd or 3rd place in a market or niche. Even if it lacks the resources to compete directly with the market leader, offensive tactics can cause disruption to defensive brands.

Flanking – Companies who employ the Flanking strategy are attempting to capture territory not yet occupied by the market leader. This may include introducing a lower priced alternative, more personalized service, or niche offerings within the market.

Guerrilla – Focuses on creativity and making a statement over the actual campaign costs or traditionalism. Guerrilla tactics are used to get people talking about a brand and create awareness. This is accomplished through Ambush, Stealth, or Viral marketing efforts.

The strategy you choose to incorporate will depend on the size of your business, industry type, and what works best for your target market. Additionally, you may need to use one, two, or all of these at different times throughout your business.

Here are a few dos and don’ts worth keeping in mind as you get started:

The Dos:

  • Do know your position in the marketplace. This seems obvious but it’s easy to lose sight of where you stand within your industry without looking at the stats. Even though you’re unlikely to know last year’s total profit for your competitors, be sure to understand who they are and what they do.
  • Do study the moves of your competitors closely. Remember that you’re competing for more than just actual sales. Take a closer look at their website, promotions, products, social media, pricing, branding and content– analyze the entire package of what they are offering so you can figure out how to do it better.
  • Do speak to the right market. Regardless of the competitive warfare strategy you’re using, make sure to still get your message in front of the right audience. Businesses using a flanking strategy find this particularly challenging because it requires them to consider markets they may have never sought out in the past.
  • Do focus on the added value your product(s) or brand creates: Essential for market differentiation when using offensive warfare, highlighting what you do better than the market leader can disrupt perception in the minds of many customers and show them they have a different choice.
  • Do set clear measurements of achievement. Be sure to start with the end in sight. Engaging in competitive warfare without a bigger plan may deem not very useful without clear goals. Whether it’s doubling your sales, garnering free press, or getting more social interactions – know your why.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t go defensive if you’re not the market leader. Unless you’re in the leader of the pack, the use of this tactic may appear forceful and slightly mocking of your entire industry. It’s used strictly to retain the largest market share against all threats.
  • Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Guerrilla warfare campaigns have even been used by some of the most traditional brands including KitKat and Sony. The entire concept is about making a statement with your brand more than following the standard rules of advertising. Think: Dare to be daring.
  • Don’t attempt to use all strategies at once. Learn who your target market is, how this campaign can make the most impact on them, then properly execute one of the four strategies accordingly. Some businesses may use each of these throughout the course of time, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll be in a position to ever need them in unison.
  • Don’t forget this is still (sort of) friendly competition. This is not an opportunity to make personal attacks on the owners of competitor brands or publicly take unnecessary shots at their brand or efforts. Focus on the products or services from the customer’s perspective and think of ways you can prove you’ve got what it takes to capture the sale over the rest of the bunch without too much negativity.

Already tried running a marketing warfare campaign in your business? Which strategy did you use and what was the end result? Leave a comment below.

Want more posts like this one? Subscribe to the VR Buzz for weekly marketing tips and advice delivered straight to your inbox.

© 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 Dos and Don’ts of Marketing Warfare appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Lessons Game of Thrones Can Teach You About Email Marketing

Mon, 04/13/2015 - 06:39

Many Game of Thrones fans are still reeling from the season premiere. The much-anticipated fifth season of the hit HBO show is known for its twisting plot lines and conniving characters, but it can also teach us a thing or two about email marketing.

Sure, email marketing isn’t exactly the preferred form of communication for those in the Seven Kingdoms, (they tend to speak through sword fighting) but there are hidden marketing gems in the series. Take a look at four things that Game of Thrones can teach you about email marketing:

1. Keep your eye on the goal

If there’s one character that’s dedicated to a goal its Bran Stark. That lad sees a three-eyed raven in his dreams and becomes obsessed with finding it. It doesn’t matter that he can’t walk, or has no idea where to find this creature. Nope, these issues don’t phase him. After trekking thousands of miles in a wheelbarrow with a mangled group of friends, he reaches his goal. He finds the three-eyed raven.

Bran had a goal, which is exactly what every one of your emails should have. It’s a simple notion, but sometimes we get into an email routine and send the same old emails without really knowing our end game. Before your next message lands in an inbox, ask yourself, “What am I trying to accomplish with this email?” Your answer should dictate what’s in the email, when it’s sent and who receives it.  A more targeted approach will yield better results. We’ve got 9 emails you should be sending to give you some great ideas. 

2. Get feedback and listen to it

The Night’s Watch fell short on its listening skills. The elders sent Jon Snow out to investigate the movements of an enemy tribe, the Wildlings. When Jon returned, he advised the elders to seal the tunnels so they could protect the wall. The elders chose to ignore the information and basically got their butts kicked in battle.

As a small business, it’s a good idea to ask for feedback from your customers. One of the most effective ways to do that is through an email survey. However, creating the survey is just one step of the process. Sometimes small business owners take the time to create the survey, but don’t use the results to their advantage. The survey results could have a major impact on your business. You could find ways to improve your products, enhance customer service and increase your sales. The takeaway message is to act on feedback, like the Night’s Watch should have done.

3. Focus on what makes you different

In email marketing you want to focus on what makes you different. Daenerys Targaryen does an excellent job marketing herself as the Mother of Dragons. A family of three dragons, yeah, that certainly sets you apart.

You should do the same in your email marketing. You might not have a team of scaly, flying reptiles at your disposal, but that shouldn’t stop you from focusing on your unique traits.

The Dollar Shave Club does a great job with this. They have created a unique voice and it carries into their email marketing. Check out the example below.

4. Build your contacts

Having a healthy list of friends is the best way to grow a business. Lord Varys, the master of whispers, knows this. He is constantly building his Rolodex, and because he’s willing to cultivate relationships he has quite a network of people he can reach out to when he needs something out of the ordinary, like stowing Tyrion Lannister in a cargo ship to escape his death.

Like Varys, we suggest constantly building your email contacts. Of course, the reason you want to gather contacts isn’t about political gain, it’s about growing your business and engaging with your customers.

One of the best ways to grow your contact list is to set up a sign up form. VerticalResponse has a sign up form that you can use. With a few simple clicks, this form can live on your website, your blog and even your social media channels and encourage visitors to submit their name and email address. When they do, that information will go straight to your contacts within VerticalResponse.

Can you think of another email lesson that’s connected to the Iron Throne? Share it in the comment section below.

Send your emails for free using VerticalResponse.

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

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3 Things to Think About Before Crafting an Email

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 08:50

A lot of people create their emails without putting much thought up front. This usually results in a longer creation time and a disjointed email effort.

In our latest episode of Tips in 2 we share three things you should think about before you create your email. They include:

  • Have your content ready to go before your create your email.
  • Write your subject line prior to creating your email.
  • Think about how you want the layout of your email to look and choose an appropriate template.

For more detailed information, watch our Tips in 2 video below.

If you’re looking for more email marketing information, visit our blog to gather some really great tips.

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

The post 3 Things to Think About Before Crafting an Email appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Effective Ways to Increase Email Subscribers [GUIDE]

Thu, 04/09/2015 - 06:00

Your email list plays a paramount role in your marketing. In 2012, 3.3 billion people had an email account. That number is expected to crest 4.3 billion by the end of 2016, according to a report by tech market research firm, The Radicati Group.

With numbers like that, it makes a lot of sense to continuously increase the number of email contacts that you have. A growing email list can attract new customers, generate buzz about your business, build relationships and increase your bottom line.

To help you substantially build your email list, we’ve put together a list of four effective ways to increase your subscribers. Each of the four methods below has detailed instructions so you can improve your list without a huge learning curve. You’ll save time and inject your list with new names at the same time.

1. Consider adding an overlay to your homepage

If you want to capture more emails, an overlay is a simple way to not only grab a visitor’s attention, but to also encourage him or her to give you an email address.

You might not be familiar with the term overlay, but you’ve seen them. You know those boxes that appear after you’ve surfed a website for a few a seconds? They look like this:

The background goes dark, the message appears on the screen and the reader can close the window or enter information. They’re similar to popups that were popular a few years back, and some people use the terms overlay and popup interchangeably.

How well do they work? According to E-consultancy, an overlay brings in 400% more email addresses compared to other online opt in forms. 

How do you add an overlay to your homepage? Adding an overlay sounds technical, but any small business can do it. You don’t need a website designer to do this, and you don’t need to know a single line of code either. You can get an overlay on your site by using one of these online tools:

We should point out that these tools aren’t free. The three options above have various pricing plans, but range between $25-$49 per year. When you think about it, that’s a small price to pay to grow your email list with engaged subscribers who want to hear from you.

We picked the three sites above because of their ease of use. Once you’ve signed up you can use premade templates to design an overlay, you can adjust the colors to match your branding, add your own images and control when the overlay pops up on your page. With A/B testing, you can also test several different overlays to see which one your visitors prefer. Your membership includes analytics, so you can see how well your overlays are doing too.

Overlay tips:

  • Change the colors of the templates to match your logo or brand. You want the overlay to complement the look of your website.
  • Have the box pop up 15 seconds after a visitor hits your site. E-consultancy tested the best time for the box to appear and 15 seconds was the winner.
  • Keep the text brief.
  • Use A/B testing. Take a few extra minutes to test your design. It will only improve your success.
  • When creating the text, focus on your audience. Tell them what they get by signing up. For example, say “Sign Up For Our Newsletter and Save,” or “Join Our List For Weekly Budget Tips.” Tell visitors what the benefit of signing up is like in the example below. 

 

2. Run a contest or giveaway on social media

A great way to get more email addresses from folks who want to hear from you is through a contest on social media. You have a lot of options when it comes to contests, but the main idea here is to get participants to enter their email address to get something.

You can run a contest on any social media channel, but since so many small business owners have a Facebook page, we suggest you start there.

Shreyans Parekh, owner of Koyal Wholesale, a special event supplies company, says social media contests are of the most effective ways he collects email address.

“We set up a contest and ask entrants to give us their email address to participate,” he says. “It’s a particularly useful tool at obtaining email addresses from very valuable leads.”

Facebook has updated its Page Terms so you can run a contest on your business page, but we still suggest that you use a third party app to make life easier. Here are two tools that can help you capture emails via a Facebook contest:

  • Heyo. You can try it for free, but plans start at $25 a month. We found several promising case studies that support Heyo. Lilly Pulitzer used Heyo to run a contest. They gave away 50 diaries, which the company sells. The campaign resulted in 9,000 emails captured, 2,000 of those were captured from a mobile device.
  • Woobox. Users say it’s easy to navigate. You can try it for free, but plans start at $15 a month. This program works with other social media channels as well, so you’ll be able to launch contests on several platforms. Here’s an example of a contest created from Woobox.

Contest ideas:

  • Photo contest. Collect an email address and ask your audience to submit a photo of them using your product. Here’s an example.
  • Video competition. Collect an email address and ask your audience to submit a short video. A hotel-booking site, for example, could ask its audience to submit the best moment of their vacation that was caught on video.
  • A simple giveaway. Ask people to enter their email address to be entered into a free giveaway. The winner is selected at random. It’s simple, yet effective.

Tips to run a successful contest:

  • Keep it simple. The contest or giveaway shouldn’t be complicated to understand. You should be able to spell it out in a few words.
  • Offer a related prize. The prize you giveaway should have something to do with your company. Giving away a free iPad is cool, but if your business sells seeds, an iPad doesn’t make sense.
  • Read the rules. Facebook does have rules when it comes to contests and giveaways, so read through them before getting started.
  • Promote your contest. Turn to other social and digital channels to spread the word about your contest. Don’t forget, you can email you current contact list about the contest too. You can include the contest details in your next newsletter as well.
  • Send a follow up email. Once the contest is over, reach out to all of the participants and thank them. You might offer them a small coupon or discount code to engage them.

3. Use Twitter Lead Generation Cards

A Twitter Lead Generation Card is a way to collect contact information from a promoted tweet. You create a card, which is like a souped-up tweet that offers some sort of incentive. Here’s an example:

Once a consumer clicks on the call to action, the person’s name, Twitter handle and email address is pre-filled into a small card. All the consumer has to do is hit submit. In return, you get a bunch of new contacts for your email list.

According to Twitter, one client compiled 1700 new email addresses in a week by using this tool.

Ready to give it a try? We’ll walk you through the process: 

Set up

1. You need a Twitter Ads account. If you don’t have one, you can sign up here.

2. You have to decide how you’ll collect the data from your cards. You can download a spreadsheet from Twitter, or you can have the data delivered through an automation system like Salesforce. 

Creating a card

1. Log into your Twitter account.

2. Go to the sprocket in the right hand corner and click Twitter Ads from the dropdown menu.

3. Click on the Creatives tab in the navigation bar at the top and click Cards.

4. Click Create Your First Lead Generation Card.

5. Fill in the form. We’ll walk you through the boxes, but the form should look like this:

  • Add an image. The dimensions are unique. The picture should be 600×150 pixels with a 4:1 aspect ratio. You can use the preview button to make sure the picture looks right.
  • Write a short description. You should promote a sale or an offer. An incentive is the best way to entice people to submit their email address. Space is limited to about 80 characters.
  • Link to a privacy policy. You have to have a privacy policy on your website that you can link to.
  • Additional link. Provide an additional link so your audience can learn more about you.
  • Select a call to action. This is the button your audience will click on before submitting their information.

6. Save your card.

Launching your card

1. Now you need to attach the card to a tweet. To do so, click the Tweet button in the upper right hand corner.

2. Create a tweet in the box.

3. Before you send it out, click on the card icon in the box and attach the card.

4. You can attach a card to a promoted tweet, which means you’ll pay for the card to be exposed to people outside of your followers. You can set the budget within you Twitter Ads account.

Get your contacts

You can log into your Twitter Ads account, click on the lead generation card and hit the download icon. A CSV file will download to your computer. Here’s what you’re looking for:

4. Collect names at events

We’ve gone over some fairly modern, digital ways to collect email addresses, but there’s a simple, low-tech way to snag more contacts too. Break out your clipboard and ask people to sign up for your email list in person. Yes, in person.

“It’s okay to go old school to manage a contact list,” says Drew Price, head of email marketing for online correction site Grammarly. “There’s a reason many of the largest retailers train their employees to do this and have added the functionality to their computer systems.”

You can simply use Microsoft word and create a two-column table that asks for a person’s name and email address. You can even download and print a simple form online.

Here are several times you can break out the email sign up form:

  • Trade shows. When you set up at a trade show, have your form sitting right on the table. When you interact with someone, ask if they’d like to sign up.
  • Business events. Hosting an event? Pass the clipboard around to collect email addresses while people mingle, or ask people to sign up as they check in.
  • At the register. If you have a brick-and-mortar shop, leave the clipboard at your register. Have the cashier ask customers to sign up after they have paid for their purchase.

Final thoughts

While this list offers four specific ways to increase your email list, there are many ways to do so. Considering the value of your email list, you want to continually make efforts to add to it. And of course, we’ve written extensively about using email sign up forms to collect email addresses and why they are a no-brainer for your business. 

What’s the most successful way that your business has found to collect email addresses? Share your experience in the comment section below.

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

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

The post 4 Effective Ways to Increase Email Subscribers [GUIDE] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

New Feature: Improved Contact Search for Email Lists

Wed, 04/08/2015 - 09:00

Locating an address or contact in your email lists is a key part of managing your lists. You need to be able to easily change the list an email address is on, unbounce or unsubscribe an address, or even delete an address from the list altogether. Not only can you easily find an address or person on your email list, you can now reset a bounce or unsubscribe someone anytime you need to.

If an email address has bounced, most likely it’s bounced because it’s a bad address. There could be a typo, the address is no longer in use, or there may be a filter that’s blocking it from being delivered. Resetting a bounced address doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be able to reach the inbox, but you’ll be able to try again and see if the issue was temporary.

To reset a bounced address:

  • Search for the address in the Search box at the top right of your VerticalResponse account.
  • Enter the email address or person’s name and hit Search; the contact will come up in a flash.
  • Then click the box to the left of the record and the Unbounce button at the bottom of the page and we’ll reset it for you.

We’ll take care of unsubscribing people from your lists if they click the unsubscribe link in your email, or hit reply and add Unsubscribe in the subject line. Sometimes people forget to click the link, or they aren’t sure it will work, and instead reach out to you instead.

To unsubscribe an address:

  • Use the Search box in the top right, enter the email address or persons name and hit Search.
  • We’ll pull up the record, click the box to the left and the Unsubscribe button at the bottom of the page.

If you need to delete an address, follow the same steps for searching, then once the address is located, select the box to the left and then click Delete at the bottom of the page.

Keeping your email list clean is important; after all, it’s the connection to your subscribers. We’ve made some basic maintenance easier for you by adding these new features. Now that managing your email list is even easier, check out how to keep on growing your lists with our helpful guide. Take a look at the new features in your VerticalResponse account today (these features apply to the new VerticalResponse) and let us know what you think in the comments below.

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

The post New Feature: Improved Contact Search for Email Lists appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

The Dirty Dozen Things You’re Doing Wrong with Your Email Marketing & How to Fix it Pronto

Tue, 04/07/2015 - 06:00

At VerticalResponse, our customers often ask what they can do to make their email marketing more effective. To help, we put together a baker’s dozen of things you can do to fix your emails right now. Each item on this list is an actionable to-do which can give you real results like list growth, increased open rates, better click throughs, and maybe even more sales. Let’s get cracking and go through the dirty dozen things you may be doing wrong with your emails and how to make improvements.

1. Not using a sign up form: This is one of the most common mistakes we see. If you don’t use a sign up form on your website, blog and social channels, you’re missing out on one of the most valuable and efficient ways to grow your list of contacts. 

When someone visits your company website, blog or one of your social media pages and chooses to sign up for your email list, they’re actively agreeing to receive your content. They’re telling you they’re interested and want to hear from you. This makes these subscribers most likely to engage with the content you send. To help your email marketing efforts reach more people, you need to continually grow your list and a sign up form is both easy to create, and use. 

We have numerous email sign up form resources to help you get started including:

2. Not sending a welcome email: After you have your email sign up form ready and rarin’ to go, make sure your next step is to set up and send an automated welcome email. It should be triggered to send each time someone signs up for your list. An effective and engaging welcome email does just what is says: welcoming and thanking your new subscriber or customer. If done correctly, a welcome email can keep a recent sign up coming back for more. 

Statistics show new subscribers are most engaged within the first 48 hours. An automated welcome email (which is a type of autoresponder) can help you reach out to your new subscribers within that crucial window of time.

If you haven’t created a welcome email yet, we have heaps of help:

3. Your subject line is a snooze: Did you know the average person receives about 121 business emails a day? And that number is expected to increase to at least 140 by 2018. That doesn’t even include the number of personal emails people receive. You get the picture. Everyone receives a lot of emails and inboxes are loaded.

If your email doesn’t stand out in a subscriber’s inbox, it doesn’t stand a chance of getting opened and acted on. That’s why tips #1 & #2 above are so important to building an engaged list of subscribers. Now tip #3 takes over to command readers’ attention in the inbox with a killer subject line that begs to be opened. 

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. 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 share some information that can help you turn that lame subject line into something truly awesome:

4. Not personalizing: Ever receive an email with your name in the subject line? Or maybe you got an email from your vet containing your pet’s name and favorite dog food along with a coupon? This is called personalization.

In an article by eMarketer, “A December 2013 survey of US digital shoppers conducted by Harris Interactive found that the majority of recipients of emails containing personalization drawing from previous shopping behaviors and preferences would be more likely to increase their purchases as a result. In fact, 81% of respondents said they were at least somewhat likely to make additional purchases, either online or in-store, as a result of targeted emails.” The same article goes on to say, “A majority of consumers were also not shy about sharing more information about shopping preferences with retailers in order to improve the types of messages they would receive. Nearly seven in 10 said they would disclose personal facts if the emails they received were more relevant as a result.”

It’s clear personalization works for engagement, but how the heck do you get info to personalize your emails? Look back at #1. Your email sign up form should contain fields like email address, but also maybe the basics like first name and perhaps a few other fields that will allow you to create a more personal experience for your subscribers. But, don’t go crazy and add a million fields to your form trying to collect everything under the sun. Form fills decrease with more than 3-5 fields. Rather, you can use information from previous purchases, webpages viewed or other data you may have to give your subscribers’ a more targeted message. Speaking of targeting, let’s move along to #5…

5. Not segmenting: Segmenting a list is simply the process of dividing it into sub-groups. While everyone on an email list may get some messages, you can then send very specific or targeted messages to just one group when the occasion arises. This lets you target individual readers who may be more receptive to your messages. Segmentation can have many benefits including the ability to target specific actions (buyers vs. non-buyers or openers vs. non-responders), or areas of interest (white wine vs. red or apartment rentals vs. houses for sale). 

Again, you can capture some of this information in your email sign up form (#1), or you can use engagement with your sent emails (opens and clicks), or you can choose to send a survey to your subscribers to get information about their preferences and areas of interest. If you want to get a bit more advanced, you can use something called progressive profiling which enables you to capture little bits of information about website visitors each time they come to your website. When a visitor comes to your site and carries out multiple actions (e.g., downloads multiple guides), they’re presented with different fields on each form. This lets you collect, say, 9 pieces of information while only asking your visitor for 3 at any given time. It usually translates into a much better user experience and you end up with more information you can use in the future to deliver content and offers that are more targeted for that visitor. Most CRM systems allow you to do some sort of progressive profiling.

6. It’s not visually appealing (okay, let’s just say it… it’s ugly): We’re not usually this harsh, but man are there some ugly emails out there – anyone using comic sans font? And the sad thing is, they don’t need to be ugly when there’s a plethora of beautifully designed email templates out there just begging to be used. We get so many questions about email design that we recently created an entire guide focused on effective design for a number of different types of emails. The good news is, your email doesn’t have to be ugly. With advances in email marketing it’s now drop-dead simple to create a great-looking email without a drop of graphic design experience. 

Grab these handy resources and give that email a makeover:

7. Your email isn’t responsive: When we say “isn’t responsive” we don’t mean your email is ignoring you, rather we are referring to the ability for your email to resize or reconfigure to the screen of the device the reader is using, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone. Why should you care?

  • US adults spend an average of 34 hours per month browsing the Internet on their smartphones, according to a recent Nielsen report.
  • 51% of emails are now opened on mobile devices according to Litmus.
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to an action on a website within one hour according to iAcquire. If the website isn’t mobile-friendly, 40% will choose another action.
  • Attempting to view a website or email on a mobile phone only to have to zoom in, and scroll side-to-side is the result of a non-responsive design. This leads to frustration and, as the statistics show above, a loss of leads or potential customers.

Creating responsive emails isn’t a huge headache or ultra time-consuming either. You just need to use a responsive email template from your email service provider. Most ESPs offer them (we do!) and they can really make your end-users’ experience with your email so much better.

Watch this quickie 2-minute video that walks you through responsive design and how responsive emails look in VerticalResponse. 

8. Not delivering valuable content: Once a subscriber opens your email (because your awesome subject line – #3), you’ve got just a few seconds to grab his or her attention. Stellar content can keep them engaged. 

To create email content that’s valuable, you’ve got to get back to the basics by identifying what your prospects and customers care about. You can start by creating a list of the traits your very best customers and ideal buyers have. Identify what their biggest pain points are, what their concerns are in relation to your product/services and what they hope to accomplish. Too often, we fall into the routine of creating content that’s all about the features of our product and services instead of helping a potential buyer.

This concept of providing useful content was coined by Jay Baer in his New York Times bestseller, Youtility. The basic concept is to provide valuable content for your readers and customers, to the point where your company becomes valued, trusted, and synonymous with being useful. So when the time comes to make a purchase, your company is the obvious choice. 

You can do this in your emails by sharing useful information like FAQs, how-to’s, interesting case studies that don’t focus on selling and other customer-centric types of content. 

Take a peek at a few of our posts that focus on content:

9. No call to action: Your call to action (CTA) should tell your reader exactly what you want them to do. So make it obvious and use bold, action oriented language in your CTAs. Tell your reader what you want them to do. We recommend using action verbs like Buy, Learn, Create, Start, Sign Up, etc.

We even have a call to action button generator  you can use to create call to action buttons to use in your emails and for your website. Create some and try them in your next email (did you notice that call to action?)

10. You don’t mail frequently enough, or you mail every. single. day: A common question we get is “how often should I send emails out?” That’s a tricky question in that there’s no one size fits all answer. What works for one business won’t for another. A lot depends on your list, your product/service and of course, what you promised your subscribers when they signed up. Your email sign up form should very clearly articulate the benefit of joining your list and how often you’ll send email. That helps manage expectations from the get-go.

Getting back to the age-old question of how often you should send is really up to you and what you can support with valuable content (#8). Again, depending on your business, you might want to start at once a month and then slowly increase to twice a month and then once a week, or keep it at once a month and go slowly. Either way, always make sure to proactively communicate any send frequency changes to your subscribers and explain the added value of getting more emails from you. 

11. Don’t look at your reporting/analytics: You may be happily sending out your weekly newsletter and chugging along just fine, but are you making the most of each of those newsletters? Your email reporting can help you decide. Reporting isn’t there to overwhelm you with a bunch of charts and graphs that don’t mean anything. On the contrary, reports make it easy not only to see what’s working but also make it clear what to do next.

If your last email newsletter had a poor open rate, look at your subject line (#3) – was it a snoozer (be honest)? Were your click thorough rates a little underwhelming? How was your call to action (#9)? If you’re using VerticalResponse, easy-to-read charts give you key stats, and show who opened your email and what links they clicked on, plus you can quickly create a list of people who may have missed your message, or those who clicked, to make follow-up campaigns a breeze. This is the power of reporting; so don’t avoid that area of your account no matter which email service provider you use. 

12. Your email is anti-social: Nearly every email service provides an easy way to include icons and links to the social media sites your business has a presence on, so take advantage of this simple and effective way to allow your subscribers to connect with you in other ways. This isn’t the time to hide in the corner of the party. Get out there and get social with your subscribers. 

BONUS: 13. You don’t have goals: Another common mistake people make is sending emails without a clear idea of why they are sending them in the first place. We often hear, “I know I should be doing it, so I do.” Ack! You need a better reason and that reason can include any of the following: Help your users and prospects, grow your list, drive visits to your physical location, website or blog, to generate revenue, book appointments or any or all of these reasons. Email is an affordable and effective means of accomplishing all kinds of goals which is why is has continued to prosper for so long.

This list of the dirty dozen things (plus a bonus) you are doing wrong with your email should help you make positive changes to increase the effectiveness of the email you send.

What other email wrongdoings would you add to our list? Share in the comments.

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

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

The post The Dirty Dozen Things You’re Doing Wrong with Your Email Marketing & How to Fix it Pronto appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

75 Email Newsletter Content Topics You Can Use ASAP

Mon, 04/06/2015 - 06:00

Wouldn’t it be nice if you had a relationship with every one of your subscribers? If you’re sending an email newsletter, turns out you already do.

According to the Nielsen Norman Group’s Email Newsletter Usability report (based on 270 email newsletters across 6 countries), email newsletters create bonds.

“Newsletters feel personal because they arrive in users’ inboxes, and users have an ongoing relationship with them… The positive aspect of this emotional relationship is that newsletters can create much more of a bond between users and company than a website can,” says the Nielsen Norman Group.

Did you know that U.S. adults are twice as likely to sign up for emails to stay in touch with a company rather than interact with that company on Facebook? A report by Forrester makes that clear. It’s also clear is that when someone signs up for your email newsletter, they like you, they really like you.

To keep your relationships going strong, you should provide readers with consistent and interesting newsletter content. Short on topics? We feel you. This is where our relationship comes in. Below, we’ve brainstormed 75 email newsletter content topics you can use ASAP. Consider this a digital friendship bracelet of sorts to ensure lasting email newsletter success:

  1. An upcoming event, trade show, workshop, or festival you’re hosting, participating in, attending, and/or sponsoring
  2. An educational blog post you’ve written, chock-full of advice
  3. An interesting and related blog post written by a third-party
  4. A survey or poll
  5. Your survey or poll’s results
  6. Frequently asked questions and answers (FAQs)
  7. A product/service demo or how-to video you’ve created
  8. A bulleted list of helpful, insider tips, or DIY instructions related to your products, service or industry
  9. A milestone or anniversary for your company
  10. An industry-related podcast (by you or someone else) that you recommend
  11. A summary of donations, funding or a small business grant your company/non-profit may have received recently
  12. Customer testimonials or spotlights
  13. A company recap of the year, or an annual report – How many pizzas did your business sell? How many cups of coffee did your employees drink? How many lives did you impact? Warby Parker did an amazing job with theirs, then shared this tool to create your own. 
  14. A roundup of your most popular products (fan favorites), blog posts, infographics videos, or services from the week/month/year
  15. An interesting, industry-related infographic you came across
  16. An infographic you created (even better!)
  17. A gift guide
  18. A mention of an upcoming sale or offer, and/or an early bird coupon for that sale
  19. Pictures and/or mini bios of new employees
  20. Behind-the-scenes photos of your business and customers
  21. Your company’s story
  22. An award you’ve won, or an award you’re attempting to win
  23. A spotlight of a neighboring small business
  24. Small Business Saturday details, and how you’re participating
  25. Apps or tools you find useful
  26. A recipe (this doesn’t just apply to food)
  27. Fan/customer photos – Include pictures of customers enjoying/using/buying/wearing your products or services, or an event of yours they attended
  28. Info and a sign up for your customer loyalty or rewards program(s)
  29. A contest/giveaway
  30. Winners of your contest/giveaway
  31. Press mentions your business may have received
  32. Sneak peeks of products/services-to-come
  33. A live webcam, or webinar/demo you’re hosting
  34. A non-profit or cause you’re supporting
  35. An announcement and info about a new class, product, or service you’re now offering
  36. Recent and interesting statistics, studies, or surveys related to your business or directly from your business
  37. A new Pinterest board you’ve created
  38. Breaking, industry-related trends or news
  39. An announcement of your newly redesigned blog or website
  40. A list of faux pas or dos & don’ts related to your industry
  41. Company volunteer projects you’re participating in or supporting
  42. Save-the-dates for upcoming deadlines, registration dates, etc.
  43. Fun holidays (like National Puppy Day)
  44. Reviews you’ve written
  45. Reviews written about your business
  46. Local news that affects your neighborhood or business
  47. A Vine or Hyperlapse video you’ve created
  48. Your latest and/or most popular Instagram pictures from the month
  49. Free resources, like a downloadable guide
  50. A request to follow your business on various social sites, like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc.
  51. A notice about a refill on a popular product/service, or additional classes or dates added
  52. A book, art exhibit, painting, movie, song, TV show, or play your business recommends (or has created/participated in)
  53. A speech/talk you’re giving or attending
  54. Motivational or funny quote(s)
  55. A crowdfunded campaign you’re running or supporting
  56. Info about a new partnership or merchant you’re working with
  57. A meme you’ve made
  58. A joke
  59. Career info or a list of open positions at your company
  60. A challenge you’re participating in, (like the Ice Bucket Challenge) or would like to encourage readers to participate in
  61. Staff/employee picks of products or services
  62. A spotlight of your mobile app, or new features added to your app
  63. A sponsorship you’re participating in, or just received
  64. An interview with customer, employee, merchant, industry-related expert, or yourself, of course
  65. A request (for readers) to review your business or products on various local listings
  66. Pictures of business merchandise you may have available
  67. A photo essay or collage (of products, employees, behind-the-scenes pictures, the neighborhood, your company story etc.)
  68. Business updates or changes, such as new hours of operation, privacy settings, holiday closures, shipping guidelines, etc.
  69. Season’s greetings
  70. Customer support/service info
  71. Pictures of employees’ pets
  72. Updates about where your product(s) or services can be found, such as a participating website or brick and mortar.
  73. A guest blog post you’ve written for another company or brand
  74. A spotlight/description of your YouTube Channel, and a link to your most recent video
  75. A “Thank You!” to donors, event attendees, or customers, just because

When creating your email newsletter, remember, your readers are your friends. They want (and should) hear from you on a regular basis. They also want to know what’s new in your business, appreciate advice, and if you can hook them up with an occasional deal, even better!

With these 75 content topics, you should be well on your way to creating a memorable email newsletter that keeps readers informed and intrigued. Have any other topics we may have missed? Be a pal and share them.

Psst… Need help creating visuals to put in your email newsletter? Check out our blog post: 13 Visual Content Tools for Creating Killer Content

Send your email newsletters today with VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 email contacts.

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

The post 75 Email Newsletter Content Topics You Can Use ASAP appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Social Contests that Help You Grow Your Email List and Reach New People

Fri, 04/03/2015 - 06:00

Growing your email list and reaching new people is an on-going process for every business and thinking of creative new ideas can be challenging. Today we bring you four unique social media contests you can use to grow your email list and get new people engaged with your company. Each contest is paired with an app or online tool to help you create and manage your contest with ease.

1. Host a Facebook giveaway

One of the easiest contests to run is a giveaway on Facebook. Everyone loves a freebie. In exchange for entry, the participant provides his or her email address.

Giveaways are simple to manage and you can determine what the prize is. You can pick a winner at random and giveaway something that’s related to your business. Maybe a $100 gift card to apply towards your products or services.

Tool to use: Rafflecopter

Rafflecopter can help you run a giveaway on Facebook. After creating an account, you set up a simple graphic that lives on your Facebook page. To enter, participants are taken to an entry form where they fill out their name and email address. You can ask for additional information too, but you should keep the form as short as possible. You’ll see a running list of all the information that you collect.

Difficulty level: easy.

Cost: Plans for Rafflecopter start at $13 a month.

2. Offer a deal or promotion

Similar to the Facebook giveaway, you can also give away a deal or promotion. Ask people to provide you with their email address in exchange for a coupon code. Everyone’s a winner with this promotion.

Tool to use: Justuno

Set up an account with Justuno and a pop up will appear on your website. Customers click the ad and are asked to fill in a simple form with their email address. Once the address is submitted, a coupon code instantly appears. You can see an example on the BaconFreak website, just click on the pop up on the right.

You can promote the deal on all of your social channels with a link back to your website. And here’s the best part, when you use Justuno all of your new contacts are automatically added to your VerticalResponse contact list. You can learn more about how it works in our Integrations Marketplace.

Difficult level: easy.

Cost: Fees are based on the number of people who enter their email address. Prices range $0-40 a month for small businesses.

3. ‘Tweet to win’ contest

Get your audience to tweet a message about your brand. Participants click on the promotion and enter their Twitter handle and email address along with their own special message about your product or service. Once the form is filled out, the participant clicks a button to share the tweet on his or her feed. You select a winner at random and email the winner to explain how to claim their prize.

Tool to use: Binkd

Binkd can help you run your ‘tweet to win’ contest. Just set up an account and create the contest materials. The program guides the participants to the sign up form and gives you a list of contacts collected.

Difficulty level: easy.

Cost: The ‘tweet to win’ option is free through Binkd. You can also use this tool to run sweepstakes and photo/video contests. Prices range from $0-1.99 a day.

4. Facebook quiz

Set up a quiz for your audience to take on Facebook and let participants share their results on their Timeline. Quizzes are interactive and sharable, so they make a great contest component. Of course, to enter the contest participants will enter their email address. Participants can be entered into a drawing if they get a certain score.

Tool to use: Woobox

Turn to Woobox to help you create and share a visual quiz on your Facebook page. You create the questions, decide how the quiz is scored and let users share their score on their wall. Woobox will set up an entry page for you to collect email addresses. You’ll also get a URL to the quiz, so you can promote it on other social channels and your website.

Here’s an example of a quiz that Woobox is helping with on the Crystal Ski Resort Facebook page.

Difficulty level: intermediate.

Cost: Plans are based on the number of fans. Small business will likely spend $49-99 a month on this tool. Woobox can help with a variety of other social contests too.

Of course, there are a ton of contest ideas out there, but the ideas above are great for time-strapped businesses. With the help of an online tool or two, you’ll have a contest up and running while email addresses roll in.

Remember to check the contest rules and regulations for each social platform. Each social site has its own rules, so look before you create a contest. And, start off your relationship with these new subscribers right by sending them a welcome email that explains what value they will receive by being on your mailing list, how often you will email them and any other benefits. 

Have you created a social contest? Share the details in the comments.

 Get more social tips and tactics by subscribing to the weekly VerticalResponse email newsletter.

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

The post 4 Social Contests that Help You Grow Your Email List and Reach New People appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

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

Thu, 04/02/2015 - 06:00

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

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

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

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

1. Capitalize on pop culture

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

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

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

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

3. Use popular hashtags to draw in your target market

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

4. Make a humorous meme

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wed, 04/01/2015 - 06:00

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

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

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

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

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

Stay connected with your customers by emailing through VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 contacts.

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

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

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