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Reach Your Customers with Email and Social Media Marketing
Updated: 1 hour 50 min ago

Changes in Google Searches Could Hurt Website Traffic: Learn What to Do

Tue, 08/04/2015 - 06:00

Have you noticed Google is supplying answers to questions right on the search page? If you type in, “How many ounces in a gallon?” the conversion comes right up. You don’t have to click on any website to find the answer. This feature, which Google calls Instant Answers is handy, but it can have an adverse effect on your company’s website traffic. Here’s what the instant answer to our question looks like:


Let’s say you offer cooking classes and your website has the answer to the question above. If searchers get an instant response, there’s no need to scroll for the answer, or click through to your website.

Google is constantly making changes like this. Keeping up with them is next to impossible if you’re running a small business. However, there are a few DIY tasks that you can do to keep traffic flowing to your website.

1. Use email marketing to reach customers

As Google creates more and more features like Instant Answers, it becomes even more important not to rely on it for your website traffic.

Google is a business with its own goals and revenue streams that don’t necessarily coincide with benefits to your business. If you want more website traffic, you should turn to marketing efforts that you’re in control of like email marketing.

Email marketing gives you a direct approach. With email marketing, you don’t sit around and wait for Google to send traffic your way; you go out and get it. If you work to grow a healthy list of contacts, you can reach a target audience that’s interested in your product or service.

By sending a variety of emails, you can refer your customers back to your website. You can design emails that encourage sales, increase appointments, educate clients about offerings or invite them to an upcoming event. The options are endless.

Need a little help getting started? Check out these two email marketing guides:

2. Provide in-depth content

Google’s Instant Answers are usually a number or a name. It can only handle basic questions that have a very specific, simple answer, like the time, temperature, or a calculation. It can also answer questions like, “What year was Facebook launched?” but it can’t handle questions like, “How can I boost my Facebook following?”

Knowing this, you should work to provide in-depth content on your blog that goes beyond surface answers. If your company doesn’t have a blog, be sure to share high-quality content on your social pages, so your customers rely on you for support.

3. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly

The Instant Answer that Google provides takes up quite a bit of space on the search results page. That means there’s less space for websites like yours to be listed. With limited space, it’s important to make sure your website is ranked as high as possible to maximize exposure.

How do you improve your Google ranking? It’s not a simple process, but one of the easiest ways to improve your relationship with Google is to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. If you have an old-school site that doesn’t load properly on tablets and smartphones, Google will demote your site in a search.

Your site should have a responsive design. With this design, your site looks great on every device. Not sure if your site is responsive? Use this website checker to see how your website looks on various devices and screen sizes.

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s time for an upgrade. If you have a web designer, you should reach out to make improvements. If you created your own website, you might need to upgrade your template or start from scratch.

If you start from scratch, just about every DIY website builder has a responsive design now. Deluxe offers free DIY plans that include the website builder plus email and social marketing.

In addition to switching to a responsive website design, you can always improve your Google ranking through search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. If you need help, check out our previous post on SEO resources.

Final thoughts

Driving traffic to your website is a delicate balance. You should do everything you can to refer customers to your site, so you don’t have to depend on Google for all of your traffic. However, Google has a lot of power. Getting your website listed high in searches is beneficial, so you should also keep your site in good Google standings. The tips above are meant to give you multiple traffic-boosting options. 

© 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 Changes in Google Searches Could Hurt Website Traffic: Learn What to Do appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Use Twitter’s Vine To Promote Your Business – Part I [GUIDE]

Mon, 08/03/2015 - 06:01

Six Reasons to Use Vine for Your Business (Part I)

Are you ready to get your Vine on? By now you’ve probably heard about Twitter’s video-sharing app, Vine.

It’s a great promotional tool for small businesses, so we’ve created a three-part guide to walk you through all that Vine has to offer.

This section, Six Reasons to Use Vine for Your Business, serves as an introduction where we’ll explain what Vine is and discuss its promotional advantages.

Additional pieces of the guide include:

  • Getting Started: How to Use Vine for Your Business (Part II)
  • 5 Ways to Use Vine to Promote Your Business (Part III)

What is Vine?

Vine is an app that helps any smartphone user create highly sharable six-second videos. That’s right – six seconds. That’s the longest Vine, or video, you can create.

The app is user-friendly, and you don’t need any video experience at all, which is why so many people are drawn to using it.

Aside from its shooting and editing capabilities, Vine is, at its core, like many other social channels. You see a stream of videos from those you follow, share or comment on videos, and network to build an audience.

So, what’s the benefit?

1. A large audience

Vine boasts an audience of 40 million users, with 100 million people watching videos monthly. That translates to a high volume of potential customers to be reached by your short videos.

2. The next big thing

Facebook and Twitter are still popular, but newer social platforms like Vine, Instagram and Snapchat are giving the older models a run for their followers. Vine is especially popular with millennials.

3. Easy to learn

You don’t need any video experience to create a six-second vine. The app is so user-friendly, you can set up an account and create your first video within five minutes flat.

4. Create attention-grabbing videos

To grab attention, you need to stand out. In only six seconds, you’re forced to do that. You can create a video through Vine and share it on your other social channels too. 

5. Create brand awareness

Videos can educate consumers about your brand or product. A six-second video is more likely to be watched than a four-sentence explanation on Twitter about your brand’s mission.

6. Boost sales

You can use Vine to showcase products and services, broadcast a sale or even highlight an upcoming webinar. When it comes to promoting your business, your options are endless with Vine.

Ready to shoot and share your first vine? Check back for the next part of our Vine guide, Getting Started: How to Use Vine for Your Business.

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

The post How to Use Twitter’s Vine To Promote Your Business – Part I [GUIDE] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Use Follow-Up Emails to Get More Opens [VIDEO]

Fri, 07/31/2015 - 06:01

Our recent blog post on how to be an email marketing superhero reveals how to get a 30% lift in email open rate. The power resides in the practice of sending follow-up emails. You can expect an average open rate of 20-40 percent with your initial email, depending on your industry and the type of email you send. That’s a pretty good open rate, but what about the other 60-80 percent? Do you just chalk it up to bad luck or inopportune timing? There are many things that contribute to your email not being opened, but follow-up emails provide a second chance.

In this episode of Tips in 2, we jump into what follow-up emails are, how VerticalResponse has automated the process for you, and how easy it is to touch your non-responders a second time. Take a look at the video below to see how to increase your opens by 30 percent.

For more information on our follow-up email feature, click here.

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

The post How to Use Follow-Up Emails to Get More Opens [VIDEO] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Subject Line Tips You Haven’t Heard

Thu, 07/30/2015 - 06:00

Trying to pique readers’ curiosity to entice them to open an email is so 2009. The world of email subject lines is growing more sophisticated as emailers grow more spam and sales savvy. It’s safe to say your subject line is more important than ever. Coming up with them can be fun, though, if you use some of these tips.

Statistics show that 64 percent of people will open an email because of the subject line, and nearly half of them list that as their only deciding factor. Email is powerful, and your subject line is key to unlocking that power.

To help you create successful subject lines, we’ve put together a list of unique tips. These tips aren’t your ordinary, everyday tips like “Be creative.” These five tips are meant to get your creative juices flowing.

1. Try a pop culture reference

There is nothing – we mean nothing – like a clever or punny pop culture reference. You might quote a line from a movie, reference a bit of celebrity gossip or use a song title. Now is a perfect time for this type of title because there’s a wealth of pop culture. Plus, Netflix-type services are also helping people connect with classic movies, music and TV shows. Brainstorm ideas and keep a notebook handy for particularly memorable puns you think of or come across. 

2. Hashtag it up 

Talk of trending topics and other references to social media can also attract readers. Consider drawing inspiration from weekly hashtags or recent trends. Do you use Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? Move those principles over to your email regimen.

This email with a hashtag in its subject line shows great social media savvy. The line could appear as a Facebook or Twitter post.

3. Give and ye shall receive

Modern marketing relies on the idea of giving to your customers before you ask them to buy from you. To get people to click your emails, tell them what you’re offering – but be sure not to oversell it. Try offering a gift with purchase, discounted shipping or a free consultation. By giving something of value to your customers, they are more likely to come back for additional products or services.

4. Tell a joke

You might make them laugh with a pithy observation, some sort of joke or even just a funny anecdote. If you visit any humor sites, watch sitcoms or follow any humor feeds on social media, think about something that made you laugh and how you might translate that principle to an email subject title.

Try looking through these tips for increasing your subject line humor, too.

5. Be descriptive

If it feels forced, you’re overwhelmed, or you just can’t come up with anything, it’s not the end of the world. Just give a descriptive subject with your most important words near the front of the line. Describe a new product or give specific details about an upcoming sale.

Subject lines can be as fun to create as they are to read. With a little practice and help from the tips above, you can create some memorable subject lines that get customers to react.

To continue to find subject line inspiration, look through our list of great subject lines and see what moves you.


Sarah Tanksalvala is a freelance business, technology and lifestyle writer based in Evergreen, Colorado.


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

The post 5 Subject Line Tips You Haven’t Heard appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

6 Tips to Ensure Direct Mail Avoids Junk Mail

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 06:00

Direct mail is a great way for you to spread the word about your business and increase sales. Direct mail also drives more traffic to your website, and as a result, more people sign up for your mailing list. How do you ensure your direct mail avoids being tossed out as junk mail? Here are a few tips:

1. Include relevant information: To entice people to give your mailer a second look, provide them with pertinent information. For example, realtors often send data about recent home sale prices in the neighborhood. This bit of information inspires people to pay notice to the mailer and gives the brand some extra attention.

2. Personalize your mailer:  Most people take extra notice when they see their name. Instead of just the address block, include your prospect’s name within the content of your mailer. If you have information on your customers purchase history, send them a specific promotion to buy again or offer similar types of products.

3. Give an incentive:  Provide a limited time promotional code or buy one get one offer. If you want the receiver to respond, an incentive works well. For example, an insurance company can offer a portable cooler in the summer for anyone who calls for a quote.

4. Target your audience: To be truly effective in a direct mail campaign you need to target your audience. Find people in your specific niche market instead of mass mailing to everyone. For example, vacation cruise lines often target retirees who may have more time to travel. Companies offering baby-related products can send offers to those who are subscribing to parenting magazines.  

5. Attach something to keep: To keep your company’s name at the top of customer’s mind, attach something with your logo that they want to keep. Examples include refrigerator magnet clips, post-its or local baseball team schedules with your contact information.

6. Combine direct mail with email: Follow up with an email reminding prospects of your mail offer to further the response rate. Emails can also be sent before direct mail to let your customers know that a mail offer can be expected.

As with all marketing campaigns, it’s important to evaluate success. That way you can compare different tactics to see what works best for your business!

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

The post 6 Tips to Ensure Direct Mail Avoids Junk Mail appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Twitter’s New Analytics: What You Need to Know

Tue, 07/28/2015 - 06:00

Twitter Analytics is now offering users more tools than ever before to manage, organize and analyze their tweets and followers. Their latest feature release, Audience Insights, is designed to help users understand the demographics on Twitter as a whole as well as their own followers.

Audience Insights provides small business owners with valuable information they can use in their social media campaigns. It can be found and explored within the Ads page on Twitter.  To access this feature, click on ‘Ads’, then under ‘Analytics’, select the Audience Insights button.

How it Works

  • Looking at all Twitter users

Once you open Audience Insights, you’re going to see a dashboard like this or one similar to it since it’s continually being updated.


The Overview dashboard displays basic demographic information about users in general including their favorite interests, net worth, marital status, household income, education, buying styles and the wireless carrier they use. If you click one of the categories, you’ll be able to drill down further into the statistics.


  • Zoning in on your followers

While it’s interesting to learn about the general population of Twitter users, it’s more important to understand your audience. If you click “Your Followers” next to the search bar, you can research your Twitter followers’ interests, locations, and genders, as seen here:

  • Learning about your organic followers

Under the “Your Organic Followers” tab, Twitter shows you these users’ country, region, languages spoken, gender, interests, favorite TV genres and mobile footprint, as seen here: 

Another feature of Audience Insights gives you the ability to compare the All Twitter Users, Your Followers, and Your Organic Audience stats with one another. For example, you could look at how All Twitter Users size up to Your Organic Audience, as shown here:

How Audience Insights Can Help You

Big companies often pay third-party companies major bucks to collect statistics like this, but now you have access to it right in your Twitter account.

So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. Statistics are great, but how do you use them? Good question.

If you understand your customers, you can use that information to attract more. With the new metrics available you can pinpoint exactly who your audience is, and what they’d like to see. You can make smart content choices based on the new metrics. Here’s how to turn statistics into an actionable plan:

  • Appeal to your followers with your content

Let’s say you want to connect with your customers based on their interests. You see that the number one interest among them is technology. Knowing this, you can post more about technology and retweet influencers in the tech industry

On the flip side, a restaurant owner could learn that followers are interested in business news and food. It could surprise you to learn that your audience craves business headlines. With this information, you can start sharing news in conjunction with pictures of menu items.

  • Post content your organic followers will enjoy

When you click on the mobile footprint tab under the “Your Organic Audience” section, you may find that most of these users log on with Android devices. Knowing that, you’d want to make sure the content you post is responsive-friendly, so it renders properly on Android smartphones.

Aren’t sure if your emails look right on Androids? Use an email preview tool like Litmus to see how your email looks on various devices before you send it out. 

  • Attracting followers from the general Twitter community 

If one of your initiatives is to appeal more to a general audience or Twitter users as a whole, the overview section of the “All Twitter Users” tab will help you immensely. Consider incorporating funny memes into your feed that relate to your small business. For example, you could make a meme like this one from “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,”, or something else very recognizable, and personalize it for your own business:

Use a tool like to create, save, and post to your feed.

Final thoughts

Audience Insights provides new, specific details about your followers that can help you post information they will love. For small businesses that are lacking data about their customer base, Audience Insights is the perfect platform to utilize.

Remember though – this information only describes your Twitter followers, which doesn’t necessarily mean it paints a clear picture of your entire customer base. Use the information to make smart content choices and implement changes on a small scale to ensure success.

Have you used Audience Insights before? Share your experience with us in the social comments. 

Kylie Jane Wakefield is a freelance writer and content creator in Los Angeles. She’s written for NewsCred,, Forbes, Tablet Magazine, and The Jewish Journal of Los Angeles.

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

The post Twitter’s New Analytics: What You Need to Know appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

8 Frequently Asked Questions About Photo Copyrights And Emails

Fri, 07/24/2015 - 06:00

Emails need images. That’s no surprise. Finding the perfect image can be tricky. To make things more complicated, there are copyright laws. Before you add an image to your email, you should know about these rules.

It’s tempting to grab an image from Google, but can you do that legally? What if you take your own picture, what then? Can you use an image from a stock site however you want for as long as you want?

Not to worry, we have the answers to these commonly asked questions.

1. Can I use images I find by doing a Google search?

No. If you didn’t take a picture, it’s not yours to use. Photographers, models and creators of any artwork or branding all have the right to say how the final image can be used. If you just take a picture from the internet, you could be violating copyright, even if you attribute it.

2. Can I take my own pictures?

Yes. It’s a great idea. Taking your own pictures not only helps avoid copyright infringement, but it also gives your emails and social media posts a personalized touch.

Check out this article, “9 Tips for Taking Top-Notch Smartphone Photos.”

3. How can I use photos from stock sites?

When you purchase or download an image for any reason, you’re not buying the image but rather the right to use that image in a particular way.

Buying an image isn’t like buying a pen or a chair. You can’t use it however you want, and you don’t own it after you buy rights to it. Instead, it’s more like a rental. You’re buying the right to use something in a certain way for a certain amount of time. You don’t really own it, but you can use it as long as you obey the rules.

  • What does royalty-free mean?

Royalty-free images are those you can use over and over after an initial purchase. They’re not necessarily free, and you’ll still have to provide attribution for the image. You can, however, add them to your library of photos without worrying about paying for the second, third or fifth usage. Most of the time, these images are sold over and over again to various users, so it’s not something you own.               

  • What does rights-managed mean?

Another type of photo is rights-managed, which means you pay a one-time fee to use an image once. If you want to reuse the image, you have to re-license it. In this case, you can pay to get exclusive rights to a photo so it won’t be used anywhere else.

 4. What should I look for when buying an image from a stock site?

  • Read the terms of service thoroughly
  • Check the terms of service to see if use is restricted in any way
  • Review the rules to see how many times it can be used
  • Note exactly how you must attribute the photo

Major stock photo sites:

5. What should I look for when using an image from a free stock site?

Again, review the terms and conditions. Most free sites require you to provide attribution, which means listing the author and website when you publish the photo. 

Watch out though, the quality of images on free stock sites can sometimes be weak.

Free stock photo sites to check out:

6. Can I use images from Flickr?

Some people choose to get photos from Flickr. You can select free images in the Creative Commons section. In some cases, you can download free images as long as you attribute the source. You can also browse through free photos based on how you plan to use them. For example, if you plan to use an image for commercial purposes, you can browse by “commercial use allowed.” 

The Creative Commons section on Flickr is popular because of its high-quality photos and searchable library. It’s worth checking out.

7. Can I use movie stills?

Using representative pictures from movies that illustrate a point can be extremely problematic in terms of copyright infringement, and it’s rarely worth the trouble of making sure you’re within the law for a simple email.

8. Can I use clipart?

Another picture option is clipart. If you’re looking for a graphic or an icon, clipart is an easy way to go. The rules are less strict with clipart since there aren’t models and photographers involved.

Some good clipart sites are:

Imagery is a key ingredient to any email. The next time you look for the perfect image to support your newsletter or promotional email, be sure to read the terms and conditions and make smart choices to safeguard against copyright infringement.

Sarah Tanksalvala is a freelance business, technology and lifestyle writer based in Evergreen, Colorado.

© 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 8 Frequently Asked Questions About Photo Copyrights And Emails appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Make Your Emails Pop in the Inbox

Thu, 07/23/2015 - 06:00

We all know that today’s inbox is a very crowded and competitive space. Getting your email to stand out from the crowd can be done with some relatively simple email design tricks that can make your email more visually appealing in just a matter of minutes. Yes, there are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to email design. Your primary focus, however, should be on the main call to action of the email.

What do you ultimately want the reader to do? Click a button to buy something? To read an article? To visit your store? Or, book an appointment? These design enhancements let you focus your attention on the call to action and produce a better look and feel for your email. 

Let’s use this before and after of a sample email template that has been slightly altered to show some of the email design elements that can make your email more enjoyable to read. 



Background Color or Image: Get your entire email to stand out by adding a solid background color or patterned image. With the blue background added in Option 2, the email content pops. However, keep in mind that some email clients like Outlook or Yahoo! Mail won’t display background images. Emails read on those email providers will appear with just a white background. 

Text Highlight: Get your readers’ eyes focused on the message you want to highlight. Compare the first paragraphs between Option 1 and Option 2. By adding a colored box around the text, the eye is drawn to that area.  You can also change the background color of that section of the box to highlight it even more.  If you’re offering a promotion or having a seasonal sale, you could design a box with dashed lines to make it look like a traditional percent off coupon.  

Call to Action Button: It’s usually the whole point of sending out an email in the first place– the call to action. And using a button to focus your readers on what you want them to do is an easy way to get them to take that action. Plus you make it simple for your mobile readers to get to your site if you give them a button to click. Design your button to get the most attention in the email. First the text needs to be as clear and concise as possible. The options are limitless, but the old standbys include “Buy Now”, “Get Started” or “Donate”. In terms of the button design, take into account the color, shape, size, width and border. The difference between Option 1 and Option 2 is the black border around the button. VerticalResponse offers a free button building tool within the email editor.        

Break Up Your Content: If you’re sending out a lengthy email like a newsletter that has a few different articles, consider breaking up the content with some simple lines. Option 2 has a few lines added to break up the content between the articles. It also divides the main call to action “Get Started” from the secondary email content. Readers typically like to skim. Adding a divider line can help them discern different content elements.   

One cautionary note, don’t go into email design overload where you inadvertently make the text difficult to read or the email too overwhelming to view. What’s worse than white font against a dark background?  Email eyesores will only get your email noticed in a way that you don’t want. You know, like in “that’s the ugliest email I’ve ever seen” way.  Always err on the side of simplicity with your design choices, and be consistent with your existing brand aesthetic.  

Leverage background colors, text, buttons and dividing lines to set your email apart in the inbox. All these design options are available within the VerticalResponse email editor. Get a more polished, professional look with these design techniques to get your emails read and your audience responding. 

© 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 Make Your Emails Pop in the Inbox appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

7 Ways to Use Marketing Automation to Grow Your Business [GUIDE]

Wed, 07/22/2015 - 06:00

We know that small business owners have no shortage of tasks on their daily to-do lists, and we’re here to help you shorten it even more.

Implementing automated features make attracting and maintaining customers a snap. In this guide, we’ll cover the specific automated steps you can implement for email and social media marketing. Before we start, let’s talk about the top four benefits of automation so you understand why it’s so valuable:

1. Save time

One of the biggest benefits of automation is that it allows you to save lots of time. By setting a few marketing emails on auto-delivery, you won’t have to create and send individual emails every time you need to communicate with your list. If you use an automated platform for social media updates, you can schedule a series of posts at one time.

2. Reach customers in a timely manner

By using automated features, you’ll reach your customers quickly. For example, you can automate a welcome email that is sent 24 hours after a new contact is added to your list. This guarantees that new contacts get valuable information about your business in a timely fashion, even while you sleep.

3. Ability to work ahead

As a small business owner, it’s vital to ‘work ahead’ as much as possible. With automation, you can set up emails and social media posts in advance.

4. Turn prospective customers into paying customers

Automating some of your marketing tasks can help you convert interested customers into paying customers. In fact, a report published by Regalix showed that nearly 86 percent of businesses believe marketing automation is one of the most efficient ways to nurture and manage new leads.

Are you convinced yet? Excellent! Now let’s get down to the nuts and bolts of it all. Here are seven ways you can properly utilize marketing automation:

1. Capture emails through sign up forms

Before setting up automation, we suggest setting up an email sign up form on your business’s website. These simple forms help you collect names and email addresses from interested customers or clients.

The steady stream of new contacts that comes in through this form will give you an authentic list of email addresses to draw from to send emails to. Your efforts to build your email list should be ongoing, and a sign up form is a hassle-free way to keep names coming in with little effort on your part.

VerticalResponse has an email sign up form that you can use. It’s simple to set up and activate, and all of your new contacts go right into your VR account. From there you can automate emails to send out to your new and existing contacts.

If you prefer, you could also use a third-party service to create sign up forms that work as pop ups, sidebars, or sliders on your site.

  • Consider trying OptinMonster. If you’re using WordPress, ThriveThemes has a plugin you can use to collect customer information. Both of these sites make it easy for small business owners to establish “information collection points” on their websites. There is a cost to use these services, but you don’t need any website or coding experience to get started.

2. Automate welcome emails

With a sign up form in place, one of the first marketing items you’ll want to automate is your welcome email. Since every new contact receives a welcome email, it makes sense to automate it.

If you decide to use the VerticalResponse sign up form to collect email address, the new contacts are automatically added to your list. You can go into your account, create a welcome email and set it up to deliver the warm greeting within 48 hours. You want to make sure that new contacts receive a welcome email shortly after they sign up for your email list, while their interest is still peaked.

The welcome email should outline the perks of receiving messages from your company and include links that direct customers back to your website.

If you need help creating a welcome email, we have several resources to check out:

3. Send a series of event reminders

Let’s say you have an event coming up or a big promotion. You can use automation to set up a series of emails that reminds your audience about it.

For example, when an insurance broker is hosting a day of free consultations, the owner should set up three emails to automatically send to customers. The first email describes the event in full; the second email is a reminder to sign up for a specific time slot before the consultation day is booked. A day before the event, a third email encourages people to take advantage of the few openings left and adds an incentive of free coffee and donuts.

All three of these emails can be created ahead of time and sent over the course of two weeks. All of the emails should include links back to your website where customers can find out more information.

You can apply this same concept to an upcoming sale, a charity event, a customer appreciation event or an appearance at a local trade show. The idea is to set up a series of emails that reminds your audience about a particular event.

4. Treat your loyal customers

Segment your list by pulling out the names of your most loyal customers and develop an automated email campaign that focuses on rewarding them. Consider writing an email that ‘Gives Thanks’ to your repeat customers for their loyalty and offers something in return. Maybe it’s a 10% off coupon, a voucher for a free service, the chance to be the first to try a new product, discounted shipping or some other kind of gift. You can set this email up to go out every other month for six months to encourage your loyal customers to keep buying.

For inspiration, take a look at this email from Ghurka, a leather accessory store, which honors loyal customers.

5. Encourage active customers to buy again

You can also automate a series of emails to entice recent buyers to buy again. If a customer has made a purchase or signed up for a service within the last 2-3 weeks, put them in their own group and prepare to create an automated email series specifically for them.

For example, in the first email you can thank them for the purchase and showcase additional merchandise you have in stock. Here’s an example from Crate&Barrel:

The second email could offer a discount on a similar product or announce the arrival of a new accessory. The second email could also be a gift guide that highlights several of your hottest items.

6. Bring old customers back

Similar to encouraging recent customers to buy again, you should also think about ways to re-engage inactive customers too.

Take a look at your email list and pull out the names of customers who haven’t purchased anything from your business in the past 6-8 months. Create a series of emails that are designed to get them back on your bandwagon.

The first email can simply say, “We miss you” and include a special offer. The second email, which you should send a week later, could contain a survey asking why the customer has strayed. The survey results can also offer valuable insight that you can use to maintain customers in the future.

7. Automate your social posts

With your email automation underway, you can now switch gears to social media automation. If your business uses more than one social site, you can use a social media management tool to automate the process.

Management tools let you schedule posts ahead of time, which drastically reduces the number of times you have to log in, create messages, and post them. With automated tools, you can set aside an hour per week and schedule posts for the entire forthcoming week.

For time-strapped business owners, automation prevents social neglect. After all, you don’t want your customers to get used to a minimally updated Facebook page or sparsely posted tweets. 

So, which social media automation tools are the best? There are several options. It’s important to note that all of these apps offer a free plan, so definitely take them for a test drive and see which one fits your business before committing long-term.

  • HootSuite. This app syncs with several social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter. You can access all of your social accounts from one dashboard.
  • TweetDeck. If you’re an avid Twitter user, TweetDeck can help you schedule posts and monitor feeds.
  • IFTTT (If This Then That). For the more advanced social media user, IFTTT is a great option simply because there are more automation features to choose from with this one. As an example, you can easily link it to your business blog, and when a new post is added, a tweet will automatically go out to advertise the new content.

You can also turn to content curating platforms. These tools give you a list of content that is relevant to your readers and enables you to share it with little fuss. This way you don’t have to scour your feeds looking for valuable content to share; the search is already done for you.

  • Swayy and Pocket are good content curation apps to start with. All you need to do is enter a list of general topics that you’d like to see in your feed and you’ll immediately get dozens of content options in your search findings. As you share this content, each platform hones in on your preferences and gives you more specific content that’s tailored to your needs over time.

A word of caution

Automated marketing is a fantastic tool for small business owners, but you’ll want to use it in moderation. Not everything can, or should be scheduled in advance. For example, when breaking news happens that’s relevant to your industry, you’ll want to create day-of social media posts and emails. When a new employee comes on board, or you’ve decided to run a last-minute sale, you won’t be able to rely on automation either. Just remember, like any other resource, automation is another tool you can keep on your pegboard and use it as needed.

Share with us on social which parts of marketing you currently automate and how it works for you.

Want more marketing tips like this? Sign up for the VR Buzz – our weekly newsletter that gives you advice on all things marketing for small and medium businesses.

© 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 Ways to Use Marketing Automation to Grow Your Business [GUIDE] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Add Some Zen to Your Marketing with Optimonk

Tue, 07/21/2015 - 06:00

Successful small business owners often use a variety of tools and platforms to reach their customers. Managing multiple applications can sometimes be a challenge, which is why we’ve created a number of powerful VR integrations with apps we feel you’ll love, so you can easily sync your data between apps. 

We’re happy to announce our newest addition to the Integrations Marketplace: Optimonk!

Optimonk is an on-site retargeting platform that helps engage and recover site visitors on the verge of leaving. When visitors to your site exhibit behavior indicating they’re leaving your page, you can offer attention-grabbing content such as email signup forms or special offers to lure them back. This helps small business owners build up their email subscription lists as well as generate more business.

Optimonk offers a variety of functionality to help you hone your retargeting efforts. Users can conduct A/B tests, using real-time analytics, to compare different content, templates, etc. to see which options have the best conversion rates with your customers. You also have complete control over the timing of your messaging, and the ability to segment your audience with advanced options to serve content to specific subsets of your visitors. 

So how does Optimonk work with VerticalResponse? Optimonk engages a visitor to your site with a signup form or special offer, prior to that visitor leaving. This type of engagement creates an opportunity for you to ask the visitor for their email address. Once you’ve acquired the email address, you’ll be able to communicate with them. Here’s where the power of the integration lies! 

With your Optimonk campaign synced with your VR account, any email address collected via a signup form or offer will automatically create a new contact in a VR list of your choice.

Within Optimonk, in Campaign Settings, click Choose Another:

Select VerticalResponse from the dropdown menu. You’ll then be prompted to log in with your VR credentials via a popup:

Once this sync is in place for your Optimonk campaign, you’ll begin compiling ‘opted-in’ contacts for your VerticalResponse campaigns. Play around with different Optimonk forms and offers using their A/B testing to reveal which content resonates best with your visitors. This testing, coupled with the power of Optimonk’s exit intent technology will help you build a marketing audience quickly. Contacts grabbed via Optimonk campaigns will then be synced to your VR lists, where you can begin using VR’s email, social campaigns and reporting to engage and retain your customers.

Want to know more about our integration with Optimonk, and how it can boost your marketing efforts? Join us for our co-hosted webinar coming July 29th at 10 am PT! 

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

The post Add Some Zen to Your Marketing with Optimonk appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How Kickbox Can Rev Up Your VerticalResponse Account [VIDEO]

Fri, 07/17/2015 - 06:00

We are constantly looking for ways to help our customers improve their email marketing efforts. When we find one of these solutions, we offer it to our customers through our integrations marketplace. Here, our customers can discover and utilize additional functionality that is seamlessly integrated with their VerticalResponse account. Be sure to check out these offerings as you’ll find some of the hottest start-ups around.

In this episode of Tips in 2, we focus on our integration with Kickbox. With the Kickbox platform you can “cleanse” your email list in a matter of minutes. Click on the video below as we show you how quickly and easily you can get on the path to a clean list.

For more great Tips in 2 videos, check out our YouTube channel

© 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 Kickbox Can Rev Up Your VerticalResponse Account [VIDEO] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Ways to Market Your Business

Thu, 07/16/2015 - 06:00

Are you in a marketing rut? Are you ready to get your business noticed with a few easy-to-implement marketing ideas? Excellent, because we have a list of out-of-the-box ideas that will attract new customers and help to build buzz around your brand.

1. Online directories

The days of flipping through the yellow pages might be gone, but there are still many online directories your business can benefit from. These sites allow business owners to create a profile that offers information that your customers are most likely to search for including address, business hours and pictures.

There are dozens of online directories out there. Here are the top 20 places to list your business:

Is your business already listed online? Deluxe Corporation offers a free online directory search tool that you can use to check the status of your company across the most popular online directories and ensure all the information listed is correct.

2. Review sites

Word of mouth is still one of the best ways to market your business. These days you can also encourage word of mouth marketing for your business online through review sites.

Similar to online directories, there are many to choose from. Some of the most influential include: 

3. Beneficial online marketing tools

There are a few specific tools that small business owners should explore when thinking about ways to boost their marketing efforts. Here are four of our favorites:

Good marketing and practical networking often go hand in hand. The next time you attend an industry trade show, an event at your local Chamber of Commerce, or even a simple social gathering, make sure you have FullContact on your smartphone. With this app, you can snap a picture of a business card and the contact information is automatically loaded into your VerticalResponse contact list.

Effective marketing also requires that you work hard to grab the attention of your audience. With Justuno, you can do just that. This handy widget allows you to add an instant offer/promo to your website or social sites. Before getting the offer, the visitor must submit his or her email address. This comprehensive tool gets people talking about your business and adds them to your contact list.

When something newsworthy happens with you business, always consider creating a press release to share with the media. In addition to emailing it to your local TV stations and newspapers, you should also share it on This site places your press releases in front of leading digital newsrooms and other social media influencers

Boost your overall social media presence with Foursquare. When someone visits your business, they can “check in” on Foursquare, which tells their social media audience where the user is. Your business name will then show up in their social network news feeds, which is perfect free publicity without any upfront effort.

4. Offline marketing ideas

Remember though, despite the push to be everywhere online, offline marketing still has its place. Here are a few ideas to consider when looking to take your business marketing off the digital grid:

  • Join a local business group

Join a local business group like the Chamber of Commerce or other business-oriented groups. These organizations will usually host social gatherings, distribute newsletters and participate in volunteer events, all of which are opportunities to market your business.

  • Keep ‘marketing swag’ on hand

From pens to t-shirts and everything in between, it’s important to get (and work to keep!) your name out there. Make sure that you have a stocked inventory of marketing swag goodies available at all times whether you own a physical or online business. In addition to wearing it yourself, set aside an amount to give away to customers each month as well. Companies like PsPrint and Brand Box specialize in crafting small business printed materials for a reasonable price.

Tell us how you are building buzz for your brand.

To get more creative ideas and tips, subscribe to the VR Buzz weekly newsletter.

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

The post 4 Ways to Market Your Business appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Tips to Increase Your Email Delivery and Open Rates

Wed, 07/15/2015 - 06:00

Here at VerticalResponse, we frequently write about the fundamentals of good email marketing. We advocate for catchy subject lines that get subscribers to open your email. We encourage you to write content that engages your audience. And we urge you to come up with compelling CTAs (call-to-action) that get readers to click-through to your website, e-store or landing page.

But what if your emails aren’t making it to the inbox in the first place? That’s where improving your email delivery with best practices is incredibly important to both your marketing efforts and your bottom line. So, if you’re suffering from high bounce rates or spam complaints, fear not! Read on for five tips and tactics to make sure your emails get delivered, opened and read.

Tip 1: Clean up that dusty old email list

If you’re experiencing an increase in bounced emails, take a closer look at your list. If you haven’t sent to that list in a while, this could by why. Most email service providers allow you to segment your list based on email activity, so you should remove bounced addresses and inactive subscribers who haven’t opened your emails in the past few months. Do this every few months to maintain a squeaky clean and healthy list of active, engaged readers.

Tip 2: Use a double opt-in for new subscribers

Whether it’s signing up for your newsletter or checking a box in your online shopping cart, single opt-in is the fast, easy, and risky way to build your contact list. It’s risky because if you opt them into your list without them realizing it, they may flag your emails as spam or use a bogus address like or that immediately bounce.

It only takes a few spam complaints for some Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to begin blocking your email. Any decent Email Service Provider (ESP) should offer this as an option, or the option, in their services. Some spam laws require proof of sign up, and the double opt-in gives you exactly that. If your ESP doesn’t offer this, you can instead send a welcome email automatically that can act as a confirmation email. Then, add everyone who clicks to confirm into a new list of verified subscribers. While you may get fewer confirmed addresses compared to using single opt-in, they will be valid and more likely to stay engaged.

Tip 3: Pick a sending schedule and stick to it

One way to build up your email reputation, and thus improve your email delivery, is by sending your emails at a consistent frequency. If you send emails at erratic times of the day, week or month, you may cause your readers to stop reading or interacting with your email. And since ISPs monitor engagement, your email delivery could drop, so stick to a regular schedule. But when to send? Early? Late? Mondays? Fridays?

Figuring out the best cadence for sending your messages can be tricky, so you should test it thoroughly. Sending too frequently can lead to higher spam complaints and unsubscribes, whereas sending too infrequently can lead to unengaged readers and eventually higher bounce rates or bad email delivery. However, a good rule of thumb is to send no more than one email per week and no fewer than one email per month.

Tip 4: Brand your “From” name

As mentioned, you can build trust with your readers’ ISPs with a consistent schedule. You can increase that trust with readers by having a recognizable “From” name. For example, an email from “VerticalResponse” is better than the more generic-sounding

A recent trend that I’ve noticed in my inbox is companies adding a personal name to the “From” field, such as “Lauren from Cool Company.” The idea is that it provides a more personal touch with readers so it doesn’t seem like your email is coming from a faceless entity. Some of your readers may find this approach off-putting because it’s unlikely they have a personal relationship with “Lauren.” But like many things with marketing; when in doubt, test it out!

 Tip 5: Boost your open rates with automated follow-up emails

What do you do if subscribers miss your first email entirely? Maybe their inbox was full that day, or you just sent it at a bad time. When this happens, you can always resend the email a few days later to re-engage the “non-responders.

We recently added an automatic follow-up email feature that saves you time and effort by letting you schedule a follow-up email at the same time that you send your initial message. All you do is change your follow-up email’s subject line (to avoid looking spammy) and select a wait time for your follow-up to go out (try 3 or 4 days). We’ve had great success with nonresponder follow-up emails in the past, which can boost open rates up to 50% higher than the original email alone.


If you follow the guidelines and tactics we included in this blog post, you should see a significant improvement in your email delivery rate and fewer bounces. As for automated follow-up emails, if your current email service provider doesn’t offer them, maybe it’s time to shop around…

Take VerticalResponse for a free spin today.

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

The post 5 Tips to Increase Your Email Delivery and Open Rates appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

3 Things You Can’t Do on Facebook Anymore

Tue, 07/14/2015 - 06:00

Facebook is always making updates to its site. Some updates are minor; others can have a big impact on your business and its social traffic.

Since no one has time to read Facebook’s blog every day or scour through updates and guidelines, we’ve put together a list of three Facebook changes that every small business owner should know. 

We picked changes that are likely to have the biggest impact on small businesses and suggest alternatives to keep your traffic flow and engagement on the rise.

1. Facebook bans like-gating

Planning to run a contest to boost the number of likes on your Facebook page? Think again. You can no longer run a contest that requires someone to like your page to participate in a deal. You can still give visitors an option to like your page, but you can’t require it for entry.

Facebook did away with the concept of like-gating late last year. If you haven’t run a contest in a while, we want to make sure you are aware of this change. It’s a serious one, breaking this rule could get your page shut down.

While the change does toss a social monkey wrench into your plans of amassing a large following, it’s a good move. By allowing fans to decide whether or not to like your page, you’ll recruit a social audience that’s genuinely interested in your product or business. It’s better to have a small number of loyal followers than it is to have a large number of not-really-interested followers.

Alternative solution: Focus on engagement, not likes, for your next contest. Consider hosting a contest that encourages participants to upload pictures or content. The winner gets a business-related prize, and your business gets to use the content in future marketing campaigns. (Just be sure to mention that you plan to use entries in marketing materials in the contest rules.)

Here’s a great example of a photo contest from an equine store in the UK. 

2. You can no longer advertise without paying

Once upon a time, businesses could feature items that were on sale. You’d post a picture of a cute pair of shoes that were 40 percent off at your store, or mention a holiday bargain on a service that you provide. Now, that idea is a Facebook fairytale.

Facebook is cracking down on what it calls “overly promotional ads.” In other words, posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app. Facebook says users were complaining about the number of ads in their newsfeeds, so the social giant reconfigured its algorithm to catch ads like this and limit their reach.

Alternative solution: Try Facebook advertising. You can still post about upcoming sales, but you have to do it through Facebook’s advertising platform.

Yes, we’re bummed that you have to pay for advertising, but Facebook ads can be an effective and affordable marketing tool. By purchasing an ad, you can increase your reach and sales. Facebook ads come with some impressive measuring tools, so you know how well your ad is working.

Need help hosting a contest on your site? Look into tools like ShortStack or Wishpond to get help creating and managing a contest. Be sure to look into pricing before you commit to services though.

3. No promotional cover art

When someone visits your Facebook page, what’s the first thing they see? The cover art, right? This portion of your Facebook page is prime real estate, so it’s no wonder that business owners are inclined to use the space for promotional purposes.

Well, it’s a no-no on Facebook. Just as Facebook cracked down on promotional posts, it also put a ban on promotional cover art. For example, you can’t snap a picture of your sales flyer and post it as your cover art.

Alternative solution: You can’t get ‘salesy’ with your cover photo, but you can add call-to-action buttons to it. Facebook has seven different buttons, including “Shop Now” and “Sign Up” that you can add to your page to encourage sales and engagement.

While Facebook is an ever-changing platform, it’s still one of the most popular and useful ways to reach your audience. We’ll continue to keep you updated on changes to ensure your social marketing success.

© 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 You Can’t Do on Facebook Anymore appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Reignite the Fire with Inactive Customers

Fri, 07/10/2015 - 06:00

Whether you’re completing a brand overhaul or launching a new product, you should always have a reactivation email campaign working to win back old customers and keep them engaged.

As John Russell, President of Harley-Davidson, once said: ‘The more you engage with customers, the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.’ When running your business, your efforts must be customer-centric, from first visit through post-purchase, to rise above the rest. Not only does the customer benefit from your investment in maintaining the relationship, over time your bottom line benefits as well.

One of the most important things to remember though is that your work is not done once you’ve made initial contact in the inbox. Beyond your welcome email, promotional offers, and confirmations, many businesses often underestimate the benefits to continued outreach to their broader customer base.

Like any relationship, a healthy amount of patience and communication is necessary. This is the point where reactivation emails come into play.

This type of email is useful after a certain period of inactivity within your list. Customers with an ‘inactive’ status could be nonresponders, non-clickers, or non-purchasers. Inactive could also include customers who haven’t made a purchase in a while, or those who only subscribe to your company’s newsletter.

Thinking about it from a statistics perspective, branding insights firm MarketingSherpa recently found that 75% of email subscribers become inactive within a year. This shows how critical it is to add a reactivation email campaign to your communication plan. It helps keep the fire going.

There are many ways to reconnect with customers. It’s not a one-size-fits-all mission. The easiest way is the direct “we miss you and want you back” email. This simple and straightforward approach is an excellent way to ensure your subscriber list is up to date and CAN-SPAM compliant.

In the ‘we miss you’ example below, New Hampshire-based dairy farm Stonyfield gives inactive subscribers the choice to either stay in touch or discontinue receiving communication altogether.

Find a way to offer customers the opportunity to remember how much they loved your company when they first engaged with it. From there, focus on the ones who want to stay engaged and can potentially grow with you.

In this next example, children’s retailer Carter’s combines “we miss you” with a time sensitive offer in one email. This does a good job of enticing the customer by letting them know about the store’s current inventory. It conveys how long the offer will last and prompts a call-to-action (CTA).

Whether you design your reactivation email to confirm continued communication or inspire another purchase, it’s well worth the effort to keep customers engaged.

Consider this: In 2012, the Direct Marketing Association reported how much more cost-effective it was to cultivate existing customers versus acquiring new ones. It found the median return on investment for existing customers was $28.50, compared to a mean customer acquisition cost of $55.24.

In summary: reactivating customers pays off. 

Going back to John Russell’s quote, a reactivation email focuses you on the right customers. By keeping an ongoing dialog, you create a valuable relationship and an exemplary customer experience.

Have you recently tried to re-engage a contact list? Tell us about your results.

Want more email marketing tips like these? Sign up for VerticalResponse’s VR Buzz weekly newsletter.

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

The post Reignite the Fire with Inactive Customers appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

20 Topic Ideas For Your Next Social Post

Thu, 07/09/2015 - 06:00

If you’re posting to social media regularly (and you should be), you’ve likely hit some roadblocks when it comes to generating content. This list of 20 ideas can serve as your go-to sheet in a pinch. Plus, each idea has an example so you’ll have plenty to go on.

1. Lesser-known holidays

Offbeat holidays and quirky celebrations make for quick and easy posts. Tennessee Brew Works promoted a “beer and good music” pairing for National Beer Day. Check out this list of holidays for inspiration.

2. Famous quotes

You can always post a quote on your social site that’s relevant to your brand. Society Bakery did just that by quoting Julia Child.

3. Tweet trivia

Come up with some fun facts about your business or industry and ask your followers to answer. The Greenbrier’s golf question is a good example. Just be sure to post the answer at some point!

4. Pictures of your business

Snap an inviting interior shot of your business to give a feel for the ambience or to show off some inventory. The Colorado Wine Company may have enticed some new customers with a shot of their comfy leather couches.

5. Special promotions

Running a daily special or one-day sale? Let your audience know. Nini’s Deli keeps their regulars up to date by posting the meal du jour.

6. Share relevant articles

When you run across an article that your customers would probably like, share it! Links Residential shared an interesting piece on home staging.

7. Share a video tour

Take customers on a virtual tour of your business by shooting a short walkthrough on your smartphone. The Kate Broddick Team does a nice video tour of a home that’s for sale.

8. Share industry trends

Keep your customers up on trends in your industry. Beth Wright Designs, for example, posts color and design trends on Pinterest.

9. Gift ideas

Help your customers come up with a special gift by suggesting some of your hottest products. Ron John Surf Shop offered some gift suggestions for Father’s Day on Pinterest.

10. Post a testimonial or positive feedback

When you receive positive feedback, share it with your audience. John’s Waterproofing posted a video on YouTube with a happy customer narrating through the process.

11. Reminders

Holiday and seasonal reminders can bring in customers when they might otherwise forget. Strittmatter Air Conditioning, Heating & Plumbing ran a reminder about carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

12. Before and after photos

Show customers what kind of results they can expect from your business or product. Restore My Door has some nice before and after shots of a kitchen remodel.

13. Employee spotlights

Help your customers get to know your staff on a more personal level by posting a quick blurb about a staff member. Detroit Speed Inc. includes photos and write-ups like this one on their team members.

14. Brag a little

Share the news of your awards, recognitions and certifications. Rustiq Salon posted photos from the ceremony where the team won an industry award.

15. Industry breakthroughs

Are there new findings in your industry? Peaceful Points Acupuncture & Chinese Herbs posted a link to an article about acupuncture lowering high cholesterol.

16. Promote new services

Plan to offer a new service? Let people know about it in advance. Garden Valley Veterinary Hospital advertised its pet grooming services.

17. Recruit employees or volunteers

When you’re in a hiring position or looking for volunteers, put the word out on your social sites like this electric company did.

18. Frequently asked questions

Teach your audience about your business in a fun way by posting and answering frequently asked questions. Genuine Scooters, for example, put up a post about maintaining a scooter.

19. Share schedules

Planning an event? Remind your customers about it. DC Shoes, which sells skateboard and snowboard gear, posted Ken Block’s 2015 Race Schedule.

20. Offer free content

Provide extra value by linking to free ebooks or other printables like Latham Pool Products, which posted a link to a free ebook on how to build a custom polymer pool.


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


© 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 20 Topic Ideas For Your Next Social Post appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How To Get Your Emails Delivered to Even the Most Remote Inbox

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 06:00

How do you make sure the emails you’re sending on behalf of your clients, or for yourself, get to the intended inbox? Unfortunately, email delivery is a complex topic making it difficult to provide a simple answer to this question. But, we’ve got your back! To help you understand the dos and don’ts of email delivery, our Partner Success Managers conduct delivery reviews specific to your email sending history to help you avoid the Spam trap and improve engagement from your email campaigns. Here’s a brief overview of the 5 topics covered in a delivery review:

Email servers can block or filter incoming mail from unknown domains. Even if your contacts have opted in, the recipients’ servers may have strict filtering rules and send them straight to the Spam folder or bounce them. To avoid being cast aside from the inbox, you have a couple of options:

  • Add our domain to your safe sender list –
  • Whitelist our IP ranges: 

Along with whitelisting our domain and IP ranges, be sure you’re complying with anti-Spam laws.

List Collection:
Always stress the importance of building an organic opt-in list as opposed to a purchased or harvested list with your clients. Our delivery team’s job is to secure a reputable sending history for our servers in order to help your emails, along with the emails you’re sending on behalf of clients make it to the inbox. We need your help to make sure your clients are growing their lists the right way in order to ensure our solid sending reputation with Internet Service Providers. In return, you will get better results from your email campaigns.

Engagement Summary:
What is the average open and click rate? We get asked this question all the time and we can give you an answer, but it’s not specific to any given industry. It’s important to set your own standards based on the emails you’re sending on behalf of clients. We’re here to help you find the appropriate time of day to send your emails, as well as discover the appropriate amount of times per month to send in order to increase engagement.

Text to Image Ratio:
When designing your emails, aim for a ratio of 80% text to 20% images. Spam filters look for a good balance. An email consisting of all text or one huge image has a higher chance of being cast aside into the Spam folder than those that have a good balance.

Email Fingerprinting:
If you’ve been diligent about including the previous tactics in your email marketing strategy but continue to see low engagement rates, it’s possible your emails have been fingerprinted. A fingerprint can be placed on any piece of email to uniquely identify the message and sender. Basically, fingerprints are put in place to track duplicate messages and Spam. In most cases, this happens when the sender’s email list includes invalid email addresses.

Annoyingly enough, a simple mistake of including an invalid email address in your list can follow you because fingerprints track the structure of your email. Even if you change the content of your email, filters will recognize the structure and flag it as Spam.

When this happens, try changing the entire structure of your email and send the re-structured email to your responders first and your non-responders the next day.

We’ve given you an overview of what is covered in the typical delivery review. Schedule a delivery review with your Partner Success Manager ( to learn specifically how your emails are performing and identify areas you can improve to increase engagement from future campaigns.

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter for more valuable marketing insights.

© 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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6 Ways to Segment Your Email List to Improve Your Success

Tue, 07/07/2015 - 06:00

When you create emails, do you send them out to everyone on your list? If so, you’re suffering from “bulk email disease.” This very common digital illness occurs when small business owners send every email to every single contact on their list.

Common symptoms include low open rates, poor conversions, and confusion about what to do next.

Well, If you’re ready to conquer this condition once and for all, you’ll need a healthy dose of segmentation. This includes dividing your larger list into small, targeted subgroups and coming up with a content strategy for how and when you’ll send emails to each list.

A method with proven results, as illustrated in the chart below, segmentation can increase your open rates by nearly 39 percent. It can also help boost your leads by 24 percent which is much higher than average growth statistics. 

Here are six ways you can segment your list and get it back on the mend:

1. Geographic area

Segmenting lists by geographic area is one of the most popular methods and can be helpful for many reasons. This method gives you the opportunity to communicate with and talk to your customers where they are, increasing their ability to relate to your business.

Remember though, there are some businesses like cleaning or meal delivery services, which are limited to a geographical region. For these businesses, splitting contacts into even smaller segments, such as cities or towns, is useful.

2. Demographics

Similar to location, segmenting your list by demographics may work well for a single email or future email campaign series.

Let’s say you run a retail business that caters to women ages 30-60. When you release a new item that appeals more to the under 35 crowd, you can increase your chance of creating buzz with an email specifically for the people on your under 35 list.

The standard business demographics that are frequently used include age, gender, and income level.You can collect this information from customers by including it on a signup form and embedding it on your website or blog.

3. Loyal customers

Everyone likes to be rewarded for their loyalty. You’ll find that your customers are no different.  With a marketplace overflowing with options, repeat buyers are a much smaller segment than they once were.

Use this to your advantage through emails that show your frequent customers you appreciate their business. Consider making a ‘Loyal Customer Promo’ or send out an email inviting 15 of your most loyal customers to a sneak peek of a product. You can make the deal even sweeter by giving them a chance to buy it with a select percentage off the final cost.

4. Brand advocates

Every business has a group of customers that advocate for their business without being asked to do so. This is also known as benefiting from the power of word of mouth marketing. Create a segment in your email list for this group. Much like your loyal customers, it’s important to reward those who spread the word about your business.

How do you identify a brand advocate? Look for customers that sing your praises on social media. Customers that have referred friends to your business, or reached out with positive feedback should also make the list. 

5. Inactive customers

From those who champion your brand to the group that is nowhere to be found, you’ll need another segment of your list that’s dedicated strictly to inactive customers.

You shouldn’t let inactive customers go without a fight. Okay, maybe “fight” is a strong word, but you shouldn’t let them go without making a targeted effort to bring them back into your sales fold.

Consider sending a promo email to those inactive customers. Use a message titled, “We miss you!” or “It’s been a while, how have you been?” to reestablish contact and attempt to connect with them again. You can also send a survey asking for insight on why these customers have strayed away from your business. Through the survey results, you could make improvements to keep others from straying. 

6. Role or position of contact

It goes without saying that to be effective, an email has to land in the right inbox. If an office supply store, for example, sends a promotional email to a CEO rather than the office manager, it’s probably going to be ignored. For this reason, it’s important to break up your list by positions, if possible. By doing so, the right person gets the right email, which leads to increased sales.

A few words on implementation

Curing bulk email disease can take some time. In fact, we suggest starting with only two or three segments listed above. If you overdose on segmentation, you could get frustrated and make your email marketing strategy more complicated than it needs to be.

Need extra guidance? Luckily, we have a resource guide to help you segment your list in your VerticalResponse account. Check out the step-by-step segment instructions to get started.

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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 6 Ways to Segment Your Email List to Improve Your Success appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Use Twitter’s New Video Response Function [Video]

Thu, 07/02/2015 - 04:00

Twitter is one of the “OG” members of the social media landscape. It has remained fairly simple throughout the years, but the recent addition of video responses might just pump some new life into the platform. These video responses could also pay huge dividends to businesses, large and small, that take the time to start integrating them into their Twitter interactions.

Why, you ask? Well, the answer is quite simple. Video, unlike text, makes a deeper connection with people and in turn builds more lasting loyalty. If you’re the owner of a small business, you have the chance to step from behind the brand and show the human side of your business. Your customers will be able to relate to you as a person, and not as a logo, which can solidify the connection. 

To see how easy it is to use video responses on your Twitter mobile account, click on the Tips in 2 video below.

To get even more context on why video is becoming so important, check out the short video from Gary Vaynerchuck below.

To view more great video content that can help your small business, check out our YouTube channel.

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

The post How to Use Twitter’s New Video Response Function [Video] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Guide to Autoresponders Part 3: Follow-Up and Confirmation Emails

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 04:00

Autoresponders are an excellent way to stay engaged with leads and customers even while you’re busy doing other things. This kind of email automation saves you time and provides value to the recipients. In this final post, we examine follow-up emails and the automatic lift you get from incorporating them into your campaigns. We also look at various examples of confirmation emails and how to make them more than just a transactional message. But first let’s quickly recap what we cover in Part 1 and Part 2 of this guide.

In the first of this three-part series, we explore the top five ways your business can benefit from using email autoresponders. We also look at Welcome emails and how this type of autoresponder works to greet new subscribers and direct them to the next desired step with a clear call-to-action.

In part two, we provide an overview of Content Offer emails and how to get people to re-engage by offering quality content after a period of inactivity. We also show you a few examples of Survey and Feedback emails so you can set up a two-way line of communication with your customers.

For our final post, it’s all about follow-up and confirmation. Let’s get started!

Follow-Up Emails

We’ve written a lot about follow-up emails recently. That’s because by sending a follow-up email as part of your campaign you are likely to see an average 30% lift in your open rate.

Here’s an example we sent to VerticalResponse Classic customers this past April in celebration of Earth Day.

The open rate on the initial email was 21.15%. A few days later, we sent the same email to non-responders (the segment of the list that never opened the first email). That secondary, or follow-up email, received an open rate of 13.6%. That brought the new open rate up to 31.88%. By simply sending the same email to those who didn’t open the first one, we were able to lift the open rate by 50%.

As mentioned earlier, from what we’ve seen from our own campaigns to the campaigns of our small business customers who send follow-up emails, you can expect to see a 30% lift.

Just last week, VerticalResponse released a new feature for premium accounts that allows you to automatically schedule a follow-up email when you create and send an email campaign. This helps you maximize the results of your email without the extra work of manually segmenting your list of nonresponders and creating a new campaign. Both the original and the follow-up email stay tied together, and the results from both are visible in the reporting so you can easily see the benefit. We think it’s pretty super.

Confirmation Emails

When a customer makes a purchase, you can send an email to confirm the sale. Fitpacking, a backpacking adventure outfit, sends confirmation emails whenever someone books a trip.

“We’re small, and although there’s always someone staffing the company, during the busy season most of us are out in the wilderness guiding trips,” Steve Silberberg of Fitpacking explains. “If someone signs up for a trip and we can’t get back to them in a timely manner, they will quickly lose patience and withdraw or go elsewhere. That’s why we rely heavily on autoresponders to confirm trips.”

Here is an example of the confirmation email that Fitpacking customers get. It’s a simple text –only email but gets the job done.

In this next confirmation email, Mountain Play Association confirms the purchase and also provides links in anticipation of frequently asked questions..

Another use of confirmation emails is to confirm a recipient’s involvement in a contest. Check out these triggered emails for new contest entries:

Notice that both companies offer a promotion in their confirmation email to generate a sale.


Follow-up and confirmation emails are two autoresponders that make it easy for you to stay engaged with your customers. Use them to improve your email open rate, communicate important information, and inspire a sale.

Hop on your favorite social channel and tell us which autoresponders you use.


© 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 Guide to Autoresponders Part 3: Follow-Up and Confirmation Emails appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.