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Updated: 4 hours 58 min ago

VerticalResponse Integrates with Scratch-it for Engaging Reveal-Based Marketing

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 10:00

We’re excited to announce our latest addition to the VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace: Scratch-it!

Scratch-it is an engaging, reveal-based marketing tool that allows you to create and email “hidden” messages or promotions to your contacts. As your recipient digitally scratches away at the image in your email, your message is revealed. If you’ve ever bought a scratch-off lottery card, the concept is similar.

What the integration does:

Our integration with Scratch-it enables you to do the following:

  • Seamlessly create, test and send these reveal-based emails to your VerticalResponse email lists and contacts, all from within a Scratch-it account.

–or–

  • Create and test your Scratch-it email from within your Scratch-it account, then make final edits and send the email via VerticalResponse. Sending a test email from your Scratch-it account will automatically populate an email campaign in your VerticalResponse account, which can then be edited and sent.

Here’s what else you can do with the Scratch-it integration:

  • Send a test email to your own address.
  • Create unique Scratch-it redeem codes.
  • Edit and create custom templates.
  • Build an unlimited number of Scratch-its.
  • Receive a complimentary campaign strategy and onboarding with your very own customer success team.
  • Get an additional 5% discount on a yearly contract as a VerticalResponse customer.

Our own experience using Scratch-it:

So just how engaging (and exciting) are Scratch-it emails? Great question. We have an easy answer, as we’ve been using Scratch-it to create our own customer promotions for the last six months. Here’s how well they did, and our reasoning behind using this unique tool:

We were looking for something that would get the attention of our audience, and stand out in the inbox. We were tired of sending out the same formulaic email campaign of text + image + call to action. We wanted something unique and different. When we saw Scratch-it, we were compelled by the interactive nature and knew it was something we needed to test.

Our very first Scratch-it email campaign blew us away – It received a click through rate 3-5 times higher than our average promotion. According to Scratch-it, our new results were on par:

“The biggest draw for Scratch-it is the raise in engagement that clients see in the form of click through rate and time spent interacting. This number differs greatly by campaign type, industry, and company. That being said each Scratch-it campaign sees a consistent lift in CTR of over 200%. The average CTOR (click to open rate) of a Scratch-it email is 40% and the average time users spend interacting with the Scratch-it itself is 24 seconds,” says Jared Flamm of Scratch-it.

Aside from receiving a higher click through rate, we also received more replies from our customers asking how we created the campaign, and how they could do the same. As a result, we knew we needed to integrate with Scratch-it to help empower our customers. Our partnership was born.

What you can do with Scratch-It:

You can use Scratch-it for a variety of reveal-based marketing ideas including discounts, promotions, loyalty-based gifts, and preference-based offers that can help you segment and better target your audience. Here are a handful of examples below:

Want to try Scratch-it for yourself? Check out our integrations page for more information, and enjoy your increased engagement!

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

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How to Use VerticalResponse Sign Up Forms to Grow Your Email List

Fri, 03/13/2015 - 09:37

You’re creating engaging email newsletters, offers, and invitations for your audience on a regular basis. What now? To help your email marketing efforts reach more people, you need to continually grow your list. But how can you do this when you’re strapped for time? With VerticalResponse, you can use our free sign up forms to make list growing a snap.

In this quick 2-minute video, we demonstrate how to set up an email sign up form in your VerticalResponse account, plus we give you several ideas as to where to use it. Give the video a view and see how sign up forms can help grow your email list today.

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about email sign up forms and start using them for free with VerticalResponse.

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

The post How to Use VerticalResponse Sign Up Forms to Grow Your Email List appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Ways to Create Added Value for Customers

Thu, 03/12/2015 - 09:15

Added value is an important tactic that can be used by small businesses to acquire and retain customers, increase brand awareness, and differentiate one’s place in the marketplace. Don’t know where to start? Here are five ways to create added value that can be easily implemented into your business plan today:

1. Always consider your customers’ perspective

The art of creating added value starts with the ability to see your business through the eyes of your customers.

Consider what’s important to your target market and how your product or service will benefit them. What problem does it solve, how will it help them overcome obstacles or do their jobs better? Many businesses miss the boat by focusing on features instead of benefits. By shifting your focus to providing content that focuses on your customers’ needs you can start helping and stop selling.

Creating customer personas is helpful to provide insights about your current and future customers, what’s meaningful to them, and gives you a roadmap of the kind of content you can create and share to provide added value.

2. Consistently work to improve customer satisfaction

Although the debate over whether the customer is always right (or not!) continues, lack of customer satisfaction is a sure-fire way to keep people from coming back.

Soliciting honest feedback through surveys on a regular basis allows you to keep your finger on the pulse of your customers’ needs in their journey with your business and is also an opportunity to monitor your brand’s identity in the marketplace.

Free survey tools like Survey MonkeyKwikSurveys and SurveyPlanet offer easy-to-use templates and unlimited responses to ensure you can collect feedback and create an action plan based on the results.

3. Implement marketing models into your strategy

As you’re searching for ways to create added value, the use of popular marketing models can help your strategy take shape.

For small and medium businesses, the Four Cs model, Brand Essence Wheel, and SWOT Analysis tool will help you develop your brand’s value statement, define your unique selling point, and even forecast customer demands based on market trends.

4. Develop a memorable customer experience

Businesses with unforgettable customer experiences are more likely to benefit from word-of-mouth referrals, positive online reviews, and higher retention rates.

When getting started, you’ll need to consider all touch points of your business, from initial lead capture to post-purchase communication and how to properly maximize the added value for the customer throughout the process.

Building a customer experience also allows you to develop relationships with your customers so you can connect on levels that go past simply getting the sale.

Most importantly, memorable customer experience models aim to deliver unexpected intangible value that cannot be packaged or sold. This includes personalized service, attention to detail, and showing a sense of urgency to address concerns as they arise.

5. Never underestimate the value of free resources

Whether it’s a free guide, a printable PDF, or a company branded calendar, free resources are a great way to create added value and showcase your brand’s ability to offer ‘a little something extra’ to customers.

Free resources can also serve as useful tools to help grow a small business’s brand awareness and expose your target market to various products and services.

For brick and mortar stores, consider promotional materials featuring your company’s logo that can be given out in-store. Businesses with an online presence can use a customized sign up form to encourage visitors to sign up to hear more about special offers and promotions.

Remember, although you may be offering something for free, it still needs to have relevance to your market and should always be consistent with your brand’s overall purpose.

These five tips will help you think about a few ways you can add value now and in the future for your prospects and customers. What other methods do you use to add value for your customers? Let us know in a comment below.

Send your emails 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 5 Ways to Create Added Value for Customers appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

29 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business

Wed, 03/11/2015 - 09:19

Looking for ways to grow your email list? There are a ton of ways to get people to sign up for your email marketing offers. I’ve put together a list for you to read, so you have heaps of options for growing your list.

  1. Include a link to your email sign up form in the main navigation bar of your website and/or blog. (Or better yet, include a sign up form in the main navigation bar).
  2. Create a “sign up” call to action on your Facebook business page.
  3. Create enticing visuals encouraging people to sign up for your list, and post them on various social media channels (especially Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn).
  4. Attend or exhibit at a trade show or networking event and bring an email sign up clipboard or book (or go high tech and bring an iPad or mobile device) with you. Ask each person you meet to sign up, or ask for permission to send an email. Do the same for any business cards you may receive.
  5. Include a link to your email sign up form in your personal email signature.
  6. Place a newsletter sign-up clipboard next to every register if you have a brick and mortar location. Have your employees mention the newsletter and emphasize the benefits (exclusive discounts, events, educational info, reminders, etc.)
  7. Join your local chamber of commerce, email the member list (if it’s opt-in) about your services, and include a link to sign up for your newsletter.
  8. Host your own event. Art galleries, software companies (one here has a party every quarter and invites the neighboring businesses), retail shops, consultants (lunch & learn) can all host an event and request attendees to sign up.
  9. Offer a birthday email club, and give something special to those who sign up.
  10. Incentivize your employees. Give them financial rewards for collecting valid email addresses.
  11. Give something away like samples, a tour, a consultation, a free how-to guide, infographic, how-to video, etc. Have people sign up for your email list to qualify.
  12. Get referrals. Ask your customers to refer you and your email list, and in exchange, give them a discount.
  13. Use Pinterest! Here’s a step-by-step guide to building your email list with Pinterest.
  14. Make and upload videos to YouTube, then include a link at the end of every video directing people to your online sign up form.
  15. Post your sign-up form page on LinkedIn and sponsor it.
  16. Send a postcard. Have a list of postal addresses without emails? Send a direct mail offer that can be redeemed when the recipient signs up for your email list.
  17. Include a link to the email sign up form in your Twitter business profile description. Here’s how to edit your Twitter profile.
  18. Use a Popup (the good kind). When someone attempts to leave your site, display a popup window and ask for the email address. Use a tool like Popup Domination, which uses technology to determine when someone’s about to leave your site.
  19. Include a forward-to-a-friend link in all your emails.
  20. Use a hosted sign up form landing page.
  21. Create a tab on your business Facebook page and include an email sign up form.
  22. Offer “Email only” discounts and mention them on your sign up form page and on social. Don’t use those offers anywhere but email.
  23. Ask people over the phone. If people call your business for whatever reason, don’t hang up until you’ve asked if you can add them to your newsletter.
  24. Put a fishbowl on your counter, ask for business cards and permission to sign up for your email list, then do a weekly prize giveaway of your product and announce it in your newsletter.
  25. Post a photo of an item or an offer to giveaway on Instagram. Then, include a link in your Instagram bio asking people to sign up to participate in the giveaway.
  26. Include a call to action, a link and/or a sign up form at the end of every blog post you write.
  27. Add a link or sign up form in the footer, and/or side bar of your website.
  28. Create a Twitter lead generation card to advertise and gain sign ups for your email newsletter.
  29. Include a link or sign up form on your company’s “about us” page.

Bonus: Optimize your site for appropriate SEO keywords, and ensure your business is on appropriate online listings. You want to appear at the top of (natural) search results when people are looking for your products or services. This will help get your business and your email sign up form found.

Have any additional ideas?  Let’s hear them in the comments below.

Need more ideas for your next email? Check out our list 50 email ideas.

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

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in September 2009 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

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

The post 29 Ways to Collect Email Addresses for Your Business appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Google Changes Search Ranking, Favors Mobile-Friendly Websites

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 09:33

Mobile-friendly websites will soon become more important for businesses than ever. Google recently announced a ranking signal change that will favor mobile-friendly websites in search results. Is your website responsive

The change, influenced by increasing mobile Internet usage, will allow people to more easily discover relevant, device optimized, and high quality search results. Last year, Shopify reported that mobile accounted for 50.3 percent of ecommerce traffic (40.3% mobile, 10% from tablets), beating out computers. 

The search engine giant stated the change will occur on April 21, and “will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact” on search results.

What to do about the new changes:

Additional resources

To learn more about search engine optimization, Google Webmaster Tools, or mobile-friendly websites, check out our blog posts and guides:

While this news doesn’t affect your email marketing campaigns, new VerticalResponse email templates are fully responsive and mobile-friendly.

What do you think of Google’s latest mobile-friendly website favoring search ranking change?

To receive more tips like this, subscribe to the VerticalResponse weekly email newsletter.

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

The post Google Changes Search Ranking, Favors Mobile-Friendly Websites appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Build Customer Trust by Sending These 6 Emails

Tue, 03/10/2015 - 09:32

When sending emails to your current and potential customers, it’s important to remember that not every point of contact should be a push to sell your products or services. Building business relationships starts with building trust from the very first email. So, how do you build trust? By respecting your readers’ time, offering expert advice and tips, sharing things that benefit your customer and being honest.

Need some examples? Here are six emails that help build customer trust.

1. Welcome email

As your first contact with a new subscriber, your welcome email is handshake; make sure it’s warm and inviting. Keep it short. You want to welcome them, thank them for signing up, introduce your business and tell them how often they’ll hear from you.

You can also include a few bullet points about what they’ll be receiving in terms of email content. Be sure to ask your recipient to “whitelist” you by adding your email address to their address book.

To see examples, check out this post: 10 Examples of Highly Effective Welcome Emails.

2. Alert emails

Consider sending alert emails when appropriate. For example, if you’re an allergist, you could send an alert email about the high pollen count in your area. A travel company can send weather alerts. If you ship products to your customers, send an alert with an estimated arrival date. Alert emails are timely and informational. It’s an effective way to keep your customers in the loop, which builds your relationship. 

3. Newsletters ­

With every newsletter you send, you educate your audience about your business while building trust at the same time. The purpose of your newsletter isn’t to sell, but to inform. Tell your audience about recent changes, highlight an exceptional employee and mention upcoming events. You can include all sorts of content in your newsletter.

Get in the habit of sending your newsletter on a regular basis so customers come to expect it. Newsletters are like lunch dates. These digital meetings give you and your contact a chance to catch up. 

4. Oops emails

Did you make a mistake? If so, admit it. Apologize for sending out the wrong deal, an inaccurate fact, or a broken link. It’s an opportunity to build trust. Admit your mistake and explain how you’ll correct the problem in the future. Here’s an example:

5. Educational emails

Remind your readers why you’re their go-to expert by sending out short articles, videos or infographics that are of interest to them. According to the 2015 Edelman Trust Barometer, industry experts are twice as credible as CEOs. So make the most of your opportunity to impress clients (and earn their trust!) with your knowledge and expertise.

6. Freebie emails

If your business or service is giving something away, let your audience know about it via email. We’re talking about no-catch free stuff (or services). For example, a landscaping service might give away 20 tickets to the Home & Garden Show. You could give away free memberships or a free consultation for services, many B2B companies giveaway free content like ebooks or whitepapers. 

What kind of emails do you send to build trust with your subscribers? Share in the comments 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.

Build trust 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 Build Customer Trust by Sending These 6 Emails appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

25 Comical Subject Lines + Tips for Funny Writing

Mon, 03/09/2015 - 09:00

Want a dependable way to engage your subscribers and get them to open your emails? Make ‘em laugh. A humorous subject line is a great motivator.

So, how do you write funny subject lines? Since hiring Jerry Seinfeld or Tina Fey is probably out of the question, you’ll have to channel your own inner comedian. Don’t worry; we’ll help you find your funny bone. We have four tips to help you create chuckle-worthy subject lines.

Before we start, here are some funny subject lines to use as inspiration:

  • Groupon: Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)
  • Eater Boston: Where to Drink Beer Right Now (Sent at 6:45am on a Wednesday)
  • Fabletics: Your Butt Will Look Great in These Workout Pants
  • Customer Surveys: Baby Got (Feed)back
  • Edgevale: Get In Our Pants
  • UrbanDaddy: You’ve Changed
  • Influitive: So I’ll pick you up at 7?
  • BloomThat: Better than a pumpkin spice latte!
  • Gap: Mondays are suddenly AWESOME
  • The Bold Italic: You’re Invited to a Wedding Expo that Doesn’t Suck!
  • Pop Physique: Get Ready. Keep the Pie Off Your Thighs Returns.
  • The Muse: We Like Being Used
  • BuzzFeed: Yes, We’re Still Talking About Kim Kardashian’s Butt
  • Movember: Growing a Moustache Can Change the World
  • Groupon: There are no deals in this email
  • Warby Parker: Pairs nicely with spreadsheets
  • Sublime Stitching: Bummed you missed out? Console yourself…
  • NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences: Show Us Yours and We’ll Show You Ours
  • VerticalResponse: Happy Procrastination Day… Yesterday (We had to include one of our own.)
  • Fetter’s Chocolate: Of Course These Decadent Chocolates Have Limited Calories
  • Baby Bump: Yes, I’m Pregnant. You Can Stop Staring At My Belly Now.
  • BuzzFeed: How’d You Get So Weird?
  • WorkLife: Everyone Hates The Boss. Learn How to Smile Through It.
  • Benefit Cosmetics: Do you like to watch?
  • Francis Ford Coppola Winery: Forget Black Friday – Enjoy Wine Weekend

Tips for writing amusing subject lines:

1. Connect things that don’t go together

To get subscribers to crack a smile and click open on your email, try combining two things that may not necessarily fit together. The “Growing a Moustache Can Change the World,” subject line is a good example. 

Try to pair your product or service with something out of the ordinary. For example, an online retailer could connect hip trends to the older generation. A subject line like, “Ten Trendy Dresses Even Your Grandmother Would Approve Of,” could get smile from your readers. 

2. Use movies and song titles

Draw inspiration from movie quotes, song titles and infamous TV moments. The Customer Surveys email with the “Baby Got (Feed)back” subject line is a great example.

Think of movies that relate to your business, or famous quotes that you could incorporate into your subject line. For example, a dating service could weave the movie title, He’s Just Not That Into You, into a subject line. A bar could use the famous, “Of all the gin joints” line from Casablanca. A spa service could use Seinfeld’s “Serenity Now!” in a subject line.

3. Keep an eye on celebrity happenings

If you’re not into celebrity gossip, we won’t force you to read tabloids, but celebrities are always good for a faux pas here and there. From fashion fails on the red carpet to odd occurrences like Charlie Sheen’s “Winning” rant, Hollywood can provide material for a subject line or two.

4. Be blunt

Sometimes stating the obvious is funny. People tend to skirt some issues and sugarcoat others to avoid hurt feelings, but it’s okay to be brutally honest on occasion as long is it’s appropriate for your biz. The subject line from WorkLife, “Everyone Hates The Boss. Learn How to Smile Through It,” is a good example. 

Try something similar with your business. For example, a travel agent could say, “Winter Sucks. Let ABC Travel Agent Take You Away.” Accountants can play up how awful paying taxes is; a snow removal service can talk about the burden of shoveling snow. Tell your audience the brutal truth and explain how your business can help.

A few words of caution

Humorous subject lines have a lot of benefits, but there are a few rules you’ll want to stick to.

  • Don’t be offensive

If you take a joke too far, you can offend your audience. If you think your subject line is borderline offensive, don’t send it. Since humor is subjective, it’s always a good idea to run your subject line by another colleague to make sure you’re not crossing the line.

  • Don’t stray from your company’s voice

You’ve worked hard to create a voice and tone for your brand. That voice can certainly have a dash of humor, but don’t stray too far. Keep your voice true to your brand.

  • Humor is just another tool

As always, you want your email content and subject lines to be diverse. In other words, you don’t have to make your contacts laugh with every email. It’s just another tactic to have in your marketing toolbox.

Tell us some of your favorite funny subject lines in the comment section below.

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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 25 Comical Subject Lines + Tips for Funny Writing appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Instagram Releases New Visual Storytelling Ad Format

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 14:21

Instagram’s latest advertising option, carousel ads, allows businesses to resonate with others through the power of visual storytelling.

The new ad format, similar to Facebook’s multi-product ads, displays several sequenced photos with links in one sponsored Instagram post. Based on feedback from both businesses and the Instagram community, the new format was created to give users more information about a brand, and businesses more meaningful results.

In Instagram’s recent blog post, they compared the new carousel ads to multi-page print campaigns:

“One way to look at it is carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones – with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. For instance, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a ‘look.’ A car company might share an array of different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model. Or, an advertiser could showcase how multiple ingredients come together to make a delicious meal.”

Interested users can swipe left to view more photos, or uninterested users can simply scroll past the ad in their feed.

The new ad format is being introduced on a limited basis, and will be rolling out in Instagram feeds in the coming weeks for testing.

Here’s a video shared by Instagram displaying how the ads will appear:

What do you think of the new Instagram carousel ads? Will you be adding them to your list of social media marketing tactics to try? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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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 Instagram Releases New Visual Storytelling Ad Format appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

11 Words & Phrases to Avoid Using on Social Media and What to Say Instead

Thu, 03/05/2015 - 06:00

Coming up with original or catchy wording for your social posts is important if you want to stand out in the busy social media sphere. To help you avoid common clichés, we’ve put together a list of words to avoid using, (some of which can actually repel customers), and potential replacements.

1. Groundbreaking 

Unless you invented the smartphone or something truly groundbreaking, you should refrain from using this word.

  • Good alternative: Swap out groundbreaking with “innovative” or “new to our industry.”

2. Once in a lifetime­ 

Unless you’re pulling an Oprah and giving away cars, it’s doubtful that your customer will never again have a similar opportunity.

  • Good alternative: You can say “rare opportunity,” or use a deadline or restriction. For example, “Only 17 concert tickets left!”

3. Best 

This is one of the most generic terms out there, so it’s a good idea to find an alternative.

  • Good alternatives: Use “our top seller”,  “most-referred” or “customer favorite.”

4. Check this out!

When you want to draw attention to something, this statement seems like the perfect fit, but it’s overused and doesn’t say anything engaging to draw your readers in.

  • Good alternative: Write a short description of the article to tease it and include a link. Your audience will do the rest.

5. Think outside the box

It’s another all-too-common phrase, so resist the urge to use it.

  • Good alternative: Describe how you’re different. The experts at specialty floral design company Flou(-e)r use descriptive posts to do just that. Rather than saying, “Here are a few out-of-the-box decorating ideas” the shop gets more specific by saying, “Check out our new ornate mercury glass candle pedestals with wax luminaries on top.” It’s more descriptive and gets the point across.

6. Game changer

Unless you can back up your mega-hype with something that will have other people calling it a game changer, you’ll want to swap out this phrase.

  • Good alternative: You could use words like “beneficial” or a phrase like “a new approach.”

7. World-class 

Step out of the ‘90s and drop the world-class phrase.

  • Good alternative: Use statistics to show how amazing your company, product or service is. For example, Shirazi Law Group tweeted about getting a 9.9 out of 10 average rating from its clients.

8. LOL­­

We get it. It’s short, which makes it perfect for social media. This acronym for “Laugh Out Loud” is often used to indicate jest when a nonverbal statement might otherwise be taken seriously.  

  • Good alternative: Don’t say anything at all. If you’ve made a funny comment, or posted something amusing, let your readers decide so, and allow them to reply with their revelations of laughter.

9. YOLO  

If “You Only Live Once,” you’ll still see this acronym 6 million times before you die. We know it’s popular, but try using something more descriptive about what you have to offer.

  • Good alternative: Try other words that create a sense of urgency. You could use phrases like “This deal expires in 24 hours” or “Limited time offer.”

10. Selfie 

It’s a term that plagues social media. We’re not against the act of taking a “selfie” (okay, sometimes we are), but there are better ways to ask your customers to participate.

  • Good alternative: Go old school withphoto” or “image.” If you’re asking customers to share a photo, describe what you want without using the word “selfie.” For example, “show us how you use our product.”

11. Bae or Bruh

The slang terms stand for “babe” or “brother,” and they’re commonly used phrases on social amongst a younger crowd. Just because they’re saying it doesn’t mean you should. Otherwise, it seems like an overly eager attempt to relate. Twitter profiles have been created specifically for shaming brands who use the words in their social and marketing efforts.

  • Good alternative: Using the word “friend(s)” or simply typing someone’s specific name is usually better if you want to make things more personal.

Overall, the best takeaway is to replace overused terms in your social media marketing with more specific and descriptive words. While they may work from some brands, you’re more likely to earn your customers’ interest, trust and business if you’re original.

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.

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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 11 Words & Phrases to Avoid Using on Social Media and What to Say Instead appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

13 Easy-to-Use Tools for Creating Killer Visual Content

Wed, 03/04/2015 - 09:30

You’re familiar with BuzzFeed, right? The wildly popular media site is known for its array of eclectic content including videos, listicles, infographics, celebrity gossip, surveys, and (so many) cats. The site was founded in 2006, but skyrocketed to Internet fame over the last few of years, tripling its website traffic. In August of 2014, BuzzFeed raised more than $50 million in venture capital and is now valued at $850 million.

Why are we talking about BuzzFeed? Well, they produce an insane amount of viral content, something most businesses wish they had the time or energy to do. However, producing a large quantity of content isn’t entirely what makes BuzzFeed successful.

As Jonathan Perelman, VP of Agency Strategy and Industry Development at BuzzFeed pointed out during the PRSA Digital Impact Conference, “Content is king but distribution is queen, and she wears the pants.” Creating great content, but also knowing how and where to distribute it is key. “You have to understand how content spreads across the web,” added Perelman.

How exactly does content spread across the web? Social media is an excellent starting point. To understand how content is being distributed on social, and what garners the most engagement, let’s look at the stats:

  • 63% of social media is made up of images according to Citrix.
  • Photos account for 93% of the most engaging posts on Facebook according to Socialbakers.
  • Photos get 53% more Likes, 104% more comments, and 84% more click-throughs on Facebook according to KissMetrics.
  • On Twitter, tweets with images receive 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and 150% more retweets according to Buffer.
  • Adding a photo URL to your tweet can boost tweets by 35% according to the Twitter Media Blog.
  • Instagram currently has 300 million monthly active users and 70 million new photos are shared each day.

Now take a look at the Twitter feeds of both Mashable and BuzzFeed below. See how many images they post, and in a row?

Visual content is more important than ever for engagement; you should start creating and sharing it ASAP. Don’t have any images? Make them. This is especially good for businesses who offer a service rather than a physical product, and may not have much to show in the photo department.

Creating your own images is also an excellent tactic for re-purposing text-only content into enticing images. Here are some examples: Turn quotes into an interesting slideshow, post an event announcement on a pretty picture, place stats onto eye-catching graphs, give a blog post title some pizzaz, create an infographic about the history of your biz, create a catchy, custom featured image for a video, etc. The possibilities are endless.

To help you create images that get BuzzFeed-worthy engagement, here are 13 of our favorite and easy-to-use visual content creation tools.

1. Canva

Canva is an easy, free, (and pretty darn fun) image creation tool. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting happily sucked down an image-making vortex with this tool, because it’s easy to do. They have a variety of image sizes and types to choose from, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest posts or covers. You can select from various backgrounds, layouts, banners, templates, fonts, etc. Several images are free, you can upload your own, or drop $1 for an image in the app.

I made this simple image below advertising one of our recent blog posts in just a few minutes.

 

2. Piktochart – or – 3. Infogr.am

Infographics are all the rage, but who has a designer on hand? You do now, and surprise, it’s yourself! Thanks to Piktochart or infogr.am, you can whip up an interesting infographic fairly quickly.

Both Piktochart and Infogr.am offer free themes. Infogr.am is best for implementing lots of data into graphs. Piktochart gives you the ability to create your own infographic with several free images or graphs, or you can “go pro” for $29 a month for more templates, uploads and privacy controls.

The free versions do include watermarks below. Pssst… You can also just crop that out – Don’t tell.

4. Placeit 

Want to show off your website, product or service in action? Enter: Placeit. This tool allows you to upload an image or grab a screenshot directly from a URL and “place it” onto a variety of iPhone, laptop, or tablet images.

A free download comes in at 300×400 pixels, plus it includes free editing capabilities. Larger images start at $8.

5. Awesome Screen Shot – or – 6. Skitch

This app is aptly named. It’s a browser plugin that allows you to capture anything on your computer screen, or whatever lies beyond. Once you’ve snapped away, you can also edit, crop, add text, boxes, etc. to your screen shot. This is extremely helpful for capturing large images, (like email newsletter examples). See below:

Skitch is a product of Evernote, though you don’t need to be an Evernote user to reap the benefits. It’s a downloadable app that also allows you to capture a screenshot, edit and add commentary, directly in the same screen. If you’re not an Evernote user, go to File > Export to save your image.

7. ThingLink

Who wants to make an interactive and linkable image to share on social? You do! ThingLink allows you to upload images, add icons that appear when you hover over the image or video, and link those icons to various parts of your website or blog – Pretty cool and fun to use.

8. Pixlr – or – 9. BeFunky – or – 10. PicMonkey

This shouldn’t be a newsflash to anyone, but Photoshop is expensive! It’s also kind of hard to use if you don’t know what you’re doing. Pixlr, BeFunky and PicMonkey all give you very similar (but easy) Photoshop capabilities without having to download or buy any software.

11. Haikudeck

Want to make a simple slideshow or presentation without having to use (gasp) PowerPoint? I feel you on that one. Check out Haikudeck. It’s free and great for implementing small amounts of text, quotes, data, etc. onto simple but visually pleasing and sharable decks. They have free backgrounds available, or you can upload your own. Share your deck on social, embed it on your site, or download the deck as a .PDF or .PPT file.

12. PowToon

PowToon allows you to create fun, animated videos or presentations (animation skills not required). These are useful for creating product demos and/or explainer videos. The tool is free to use, or upgrade for more character options and effects. PowToon is almost too much fun, though it can be slightly time-consuming.

13. QuickMeme – or – 14. RageGenerator

Everyone loves a good meme. Join in on the fun by using either of these simple, free meme generators. Create a “rage” comic, or choose from and add a caption to a variety of the ‘usual suspects’ such as “First World Problems,” “Socially Awkward Penguin,” or “Forever Alone.” However, humor can be harder than you think – proceed with caution when attempting to write something funny.

With these 13 creation or editing tools, you should be well on your way to sharing more interesting and engaging images. Have a favorite visual content tool of your own? Share it with us below. For more design help, check out these blog posts.

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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 13 Easy-to-Use Tools for Creating Killer Visual Content appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

7 Advanced Email Tools to Pump up the Volume on Your Marketing

Tue, 03/03/2015 - 09:30

Creating an effective email full of engaging content for your readers is crucial for achieving a good open rate, strong inbox placement, and generating business, too. But how can you take your emails from good to great? Here, we’ve listed some advanced email tools you can use in conjunction with your VerticalResponse account to turn up the volume on your marketing:

1. Popup Domination 
Once you have an email sign up form set up on your website, how do you get your visitors to take notice? A pop-up form! Yes, pop-ups may have been huge annoyances in the past, but they’ve come a long way. Popup Domination allows you to determine the amount of time a visitor is on your site before they see the sign up form, and how often. They also offer analytics, testing, and provide a variety other cool features. You get all these features and a guarantee that your list will grow for a one-time fee.

2. COLOURlovers Photocopa
Add a little oomph to your email or website design by creating a color palette based on any image. Colourlovers is a free service. Simply, upload your own photo from anywhere on the web and add it to the gallery for others to use as inspiration or keep it private for only your use. 



3. Litmus Scope

Have you ever received an email that you loved and wished you could recreate it? Litmus Scope can help you out. Currently it’s only integrated with Gmail, so if you don’t have a Gmail account, you’ll need to set one up. Litmus Scope requires that you either know HTML (to make edits) or that you use the Canvas tool in VerticalResponse Classic. Below, a screenshot from our VerticalResponse newsletter illustrates what Litmus Scope does. The left side is the scoped email and the right side shows is HTML code for it.

 

 

 

 

 

4. Premailer
If you want your emails to match your website, meet Premailer. Just paste in your website URL and Premailer will create inline CSS to use in the HTML of your email. For your email to work best on all email programs, your CSS should be inline, and a lot of websites use External Style sheets. This works fine for websites, but if a browser-based email program is in the mix, all your hard work will be ignored. Premailer is a free program, and they give you the code you need to use without having to set up an account.

5. Email Spam Test
Here at VerticalResponse, we work hard to ensure your email gets safely delivered to your subscribers’ inboxes. However, if your content and HTML aren’t up to snuff, it can cause delivery issues. Email Spam Test can help you identify any issues before you send your email. To use Email Spam Test, you’ll need access to your email’s HTML. Once you’ve run a test, you’ll receive a score and a report of things that may need to be changed. Here’s an example below:

6. Dasheroo
Your VerticalResponse account provides reporting on the emails and social posts that you create. But, if you want to dig deeper and track email reports over time, or track other social accounts like LinkedIn, check out Dasheroo. It enables you to track the following:

  • Performance of your most recent emails (subject line, date, sent, opens, clicks, bounces and unsubs)
  • List size
  • Engagement (trending open and click rates for past 30 emails)
  • Trending Bounce and Unsub rates for past 30 emails.

The best part? Being able to see all this next to your Google Analytics, Adwords, Facebook, Twitter and other apps all in one place – for free. Find Dasheroo in our VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace

7. VerticalResponse
We couldn’t write a blog post about email tools with out mentioning some of our own features, of course. You need a sign up form to grow your email lists, and you want something easy to use. No sweat, use your VerticalResponse account to create a sign up form. Embed it on your website, or use a hosted version with various templates. You can share your sign up form on Facebook, Twitter, or anywhere you can share a URL. There are just a few steps to set it up and it is customizable, so you can add any fields you want to collect. The best part? It’s free to set up and use.

These seven tools should help you pump up the volume on your marketing for little to no cost. What other products do you like to add to your email tools? Let us know in the comments.

Be sure to visit the VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace for other cool tools that play nice 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 7 Advanced Email Tools to Pump up the Volume on Your Marketing appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

A Service-Based Business’s Guide to Email Marketing

Mon, 03/02/2015 - 09:35

Service-based businesses like computer repair shops, staffing agencies, cleaning services, marketing companies, e-commerce businesses and a whole host of others use email marketing to promote their business.

While many service-based businesses embrace the power of email marketing, it’s safe to say the way you utilize email is much different than the big box stores at the mall.

To help service-based businesses use email marketing to its fullest, we’ve created this guide that’s chock-full of information and tips to maximize every email you send.

We’ll cover why your business should send emails by highlighting the marketing goals that specific emails can accomplish. We’ll also showcase four emails that your business should send. We’ll have examples of each email, along with handy tips like when to send them and the components that each email should have.

So let’s get down to email business. Here’s a look at five goals that email marketing can accomplish for your service-based business.

1. Attract potential customers

Email can intrigue potential customers in a non-obtrusive way. Email isn’t pushy and doesn’t have that same feel as a cold call. An email that introduces potential clients to your business is an attractive way for customers to learn about what you do on their own terms.

2. Encourage customer activation

Email is a great way to activate potential customers. You can encourage customers to get quotes, schedule services and set up consultations through email. These messages are designed to motivate potential customers into actual customers. In other words, you’re converting leads in paying clients.

3. Drive website traffic

Like many service-based businesses, your website is probably one of your main marketing tools. Rather than hoping your website shows up in search results, you can encourage potential customers to visit your website through email.

Email is a great routing tool that can lead your customers to your website to learn more about your business and engage with your company. Just make sure you have the right things in place when they arrive so you don’t miss an opportunity. 

4. Retain customers

You want to keep your customers to come back again and again. Well-timed emails that remind customers about your service can be just the nudge your clients need to come back. 

5. Keep customers informed

Everyone gets busy, but emails can keep your audience informed even when life gets crazy. Emails that keep your clients informed or “in the know” keep your target audience engaged with your business and company. Informative emails can also update customers about upcoming deals, events or changes to services.

Now that we’ve covered why your business should send emails, let’s talk about four popular emails that you should send to accomplish these goals.

1. Welcome email

What is it: As the name implies, a welcome email greets a new customer. It’s often the first email that you send to someone who has just joined your list and sets the tone for your relationship. As with any first meeting, you want to make a good first impression.

Which goals does it accomplish: attracts potential customers, drives website traffic.

When to send it: When a new contact signs up for your email list, you want to send a welcome email within 48 hours. Considering this email is time sensitive, you should automate your welcome emails. That way, when a new contact is added to your list, he or she will automatically receive a welcome email.

The components of an effective welcome email:

Take a look at the email below from Recurly, an online service site that offers healthcare tips and programs.

This welcome email is made up of several components, which your welcome email should also include.

  • A warm greeting. Even if it’s just a simple “Welcome” message at the top like in this example, or “We’re glad you’ve joined us,” you need a friendly message to introduce the email.
  • Your business logo.  Use your logo so your recipients get familiar with it.
  • Reinforce the benefits. Tell customers what they’ll get as a new subscriber.
  • Call to action. Motivate your subscriber to interact with your business online. In this case, the email offers links to help users get started. The three boxes are the main call to action, but you’ll notice there are several other hyperlinks in the email too.

2. Customer activation email

What is it: Once you’ve welcomed a new contact, you can build on that relationship by talking about the benefits to the customer of the service you offer. With an activation email, you want prospects to move beyond the “I’m interested” phase to the “Sign me up” phase. You want your recipients to get a quote, schedule service online or call you to set up an appointment.

Which goals does it accomplish: customer activation.

When to send it: It’s best to send an activation email 2-5 days after your welcome email. During that window of time, the potential client may still thinking about your services and could be ready to act.

The components of an activation email:

Take a look at the example below from Cigna, health insurance company.

  • Reminder of services. Offer a concise explanation of the service that you provide and the benefit it provides.
  • Create a sense of urgency. You want potential clients to act now, so use phrases that encourage quick action. In this example the heading reads, “Hurry, You Have 6 Days Left.” Deadlines can help create a sense of urgency. Consider offering a time-sensitive incentive like “Get an extra 10% off when you set up an appointment in the next 48 hours.”
  • Call to action. The point of this email is to get an interested client one step closer to a sale. Your call to action should tell the reader how to start using your services. We suggest a call to action button that’s a different color than the rest of the text so it stands out.

3. Newsletter

What is it: A newsletter is an informational email that keeps your recipients informed about your business and industry-related news. A newsletter is an effective email marketing tool because of its ability to communicate different types of content. The variety of content that you can include in a newsletter is endless. You can promote events, highlight employees, talk about upcoming changes to your services, tell customers about charity events that you’re taking part in, remind customers about promotions that are about to expire, offer tips that are related to your business and much more.

Which goals does it accomplish: drives website traffic, retains customers, keeps customers informed.

When to send it: You can send an email newsletter anytime, but you want to be consistent. Whether you send newsletters once a month or once a week, it’s up to you as long as you stick to a schedule and deliver what you promised your subscriber when they signed up. 

The components of an effective newsletter:

Take a look at the newsletter from Hershey’s Chocolate World below.

  • Create interesting content. A newsletter is all about creating engaging and interesting pieces of content for your audience to consume. Keep the articles short, around 300 words.
  • Select a format. Some newsletters mimic that of a newspaper, with several small articles to read. Other newsletters give you “teaser articles.” In other words, the articles aren’t complete within the newsletter. To read more, the recipient is directed to the company blog like the example below. This format has the added bonus of driving visits to your website or blog.
  • Include images. While newsletters are more text-heavy than other emails, it’s important to break them up with images that complement the story. Make sure the image is clear and large enough for the reader to see. Whether you use a picture of staff, a graphic or buy a photo from a stock site, it’s always a good idea to include a visual element. Turn to photo editing sites like PicMonkey if you need to resize or crop images. Or, most ESPs provide this functionality within their tool. 
  • Pick a color scheme. Notice the newsletter below uses red as its main color and uses a few other accent colors. Don’t go overboard with too many colors. If you need some inspiration, check out ColorCombos. The site can help you select a matching color scheme.
  • Include links to social media sites your business is on. Any time you can encourage additional engagement, you should.

4. Follow up email

What is it: After you’ve completed work for a client, send a follow up email. A follow up email can take on many forms. You could direct a customer to leave feedback, make a payment, schedule another appointment or just say thanks.

Which goals does it accomplish: retains customers.

When to send it: A follow up email should be sent within 48 hours of the service.

The components of a great follow up email:

Take a look at the example below from a consulting firm.

  • Clear call to action. Every follow up email should have a clear call to action. What do you want the recipient to do after reading it? In this case, readers should rate the service they received. We suggest using a button as a call to action as buttons tend to stand out more.
  • Include additional engagement options. You can include additional links to encourage more engagement. This email offers a “contact us” link, but you can include links for customers to schedule another appointment or learn more about an upcoming offer. When adding these additional links, make sure they are smaller than your call to action so they don’t distract from the main point of the email. 
  • Add social media buttons. Again, you should make sure customers have a way to connect with you on social media. Most email templates include the ability to link to your social media channels, so make sure you take advantage of them. The more ways your customer has to engage with your company, the better.

Of course, there are many other emails that your service-based business can benefit from. From announcement emails to re-engagement emails, there are heaps of reasons to reach out to your customer base using email marketing. What kinds of emails best serve your business? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Send your service-based emails today through 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 A Service-Based Business’s Guide to Email Marketing appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

7 Dos and Don’ts for Writing Your Company’s Story

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 09:15

Your company’s description, or “about us” section is usually one of the most popular pages and/or pieces of content on your website – are you putting your best face forward there, or could your story use a makeover?

Read on to review what you should and shouldn’t do when writing your company’s description. These dos and don’ts will ensure your company’s story is as compelling and informative as possible.

1. Do: Tell a story

This is an area where small companies have an advantage over the big guys. People enjoy supporting others with whom they feel a connection, and sharing your personal story is a step toward establishing a relationship. In your company description, talk about why the business was started or the history behind it.

Instead of simply listing all the services they offer, Emerald Auto & Brake shares the company’s story on their site’s “about” section. Here, we learn it’s a family-run business, passed down from father to son (and possibly down another generation!):

2. Don’t: Fudge the facts

You want to stand out from the crowd, but steer away from any inclination to pad the numbers, client list, achievements, etc. It’s just not worth the risk to your business and the reputation you’ve worked so hard to establish.

 

3. Do: Use visuals/photos

The old saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” definitely rings true in many cases. Staff pics, behind-the-scenes peeks and old photos add context and color to your company description.

Hat company Goorin Bros., founded in 1895 and passed down four generations, does this very well. The company’s vintage photos and memorabilia, which show its evolution through the decades, complement the story it tells and visually reinforce the brand’s history and commitment to old-school craftsmanship:

4. Don’t: Use copyrighted photography

Just because you found a photo or image on a search engine doesn’t give you the right to use it commercially on your website. Copyright law is serious stuff and most, if not all, professional photographers maintain strict copyrights on their images. To avoid this problem, use a stock photo site like Thinkstock (rates start at $49 for five downloads). Many amateur photographers (and non-photographers) share their images on Flickr under a Creative Commons license, which dictates how you can and can’t use their work.

5. Do: Use numbers

Any data or statistics you can tout to show why people should buy or work with you is great validation that should be included in your company description. Here at VerticalResponse, we often say that email marketing brings in $41 for every $1 spent, according to industry reports. That’s a pretty compelling figure for a business that’s on the fence about whether or not to give email a try.

Earth Baby, a compostable diaper service in the San Francisco Bay Area, uses numbers to explain their impact on the environment:

6. Don’t: Write a novel

It’s hard to get people excited about a long block of text, so keep your company description short and sweet. Tell an interesting story, but don’t bog people down with it. After all, the point of the company description is to encourage readers to take an action – whether it’s to call you, buy something or visit your establishment – so don’t make it a roadblock.

7. Do: Show your personality

Being a little funny (if that’s your style) can definitely help you stand out among your competitors and help customers feel connected to your company. Just keep it PC and authentic!

When one thinks of letterpress printing, images of fancy wedding invitations and feminine designs might come to mind. Cranky Pressman, a letterpress company based in Salem, Ohio, takes its name seriously and its website copy is written from the perspective of – you guessed it – a cranky old pressman. “This is not some cute boutique,” it declares on its homepage. Read on for more snark:

 

In short – when it comes to your company description, be interesting, be accurate, and above all, be yourself! 

What do you love, or not, on company website “about” pages? Share in the comments!

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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 7 Dos and Don’ts for Writing Your Company’s Story appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

14 Email Essentials to Ensure Success

Thu, 02/26/2015 - 08:12

When you create an email for your business you want to get results, and we want you to help ensure that success. Use this handy 14-point email marketing checklist to cover your bases before you hit send.

1. Check the ‘from’ label

Most often, you want your email to come from a company email account (or who the recipient has the relationship with). Your business name should be in the ‘from’ label, as well as the email address so your recipient can quickly identify whom the email is from.

2. Review your subject line

Is your subject line short and to the point? According to Retention Science, subject lines with six to ten words get the highest open rates. As more people open email on their smartphones, concise subject lines are increasingly important.

3. Check your pre-header

Do you have a catchy preheader? It acts as a secondary subject line, and shows in a reader’s inbox preview. Your first line of text becomes your email preheader, which provides readers with additional information.

4. Consider your call to action

Without reading any of your text, can you easily tell what the call to action is in your email? If not, make adjustments. We suggest creating a call to action button to make it standout.

5. Review your color scheme

Colors matter. You want your email to look professional and well put together. Keep your color scheme to two or three colors. Too many colors can be distracting. To make color selection simple, consider using the colors in your logo for a consistent look and feel.

6. Review font choices

Is the text readable? Now isn’t the time to test out funky fonts. You want clear and legible text. Consider basic fonts like Times New Roman and Arial. Set the font size to 12. If you want to try a different font, check out this study on email fonts first.

7. Test your links

You don’t want to send an email with broken links. Send yourself a test email prior and check all your links before you send it to your list. 

8. Scan your email for cliché words

You want to avoid overused and cliché marketing words in your email. You may want to avoid words like “groundbreaking” and “epic”. Here’s a handy list of marketing words that can sell and repel.

9. Check your email for urgency

To motivate your recipients to act, you’ll want to use urgent language. If you’re offering a deal, set a deadline so recipients will know to act quickly. You can also use time sensitive language like “Act now” and “Last chance.”

10. Check content for the “it factor”

Once a recipient opens an email, you want him or her to keep reading. To hook readers, the content of your email should be compelling. Whether you offer a great deal, teach readers something new or make them laugh, your email needs an “it factor” to keep readers engaged.

11. Proofread

Read the email two times. The first time, read it from top to bottom. The second time, read it from bottom to top. By reading the sentences out of order you’re more likely to catch mistakes. It’s a good idea to have another set of eyes read it too.

12. Review images

Your email should contain a few images. They help break up the text. Make sure your images are relevant and in the right format. Here’s an image cheat sheet to reference.

13. Test your email

To maximize your email effectiveness, you can test different aspects. For example, you can create the same email but with different subject lines and send the two emails to a small portion of your list. Check your results to see which subject line performs better, then send the top performer to the remainder of your list. Check out this article that highlights four tests that you can run to boost your success rate. 

14. Send the email to your inbox

Most email service providers have a preview option so you can see what your email will look like to a recipient, but it’s also always a good idea to send a test email to your inbox first to give it a thorough review.

Okay, that’s it. You’re ready to hit send and release your email into the wild. By performing this quick check you can set your email up for success every time.  

Send your emails 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 14 Email Essentials to Ensure Success appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Facebook Launches Product Ads

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 10:30

Showcasing your products on Facebook just got easier. The social media site just launched Product Ads. What makes these ads different than other Facebook ads? Two things.

First, they come with advanced targeting methods. You can get your ad in front of the right audience with a few clicks.

Second, Product Ads allow you to show customers more than one product per ad. You no longer have to pick one product or service and hope that it resonates with your audience. Now, you can showcase several products.

This new advertising option has been in the testing phases for months, but with solid feedback, Facebook has decided to roll out Product Ads for everyone. Here’s what you should know about this new advertising tool:

What do Product Ads mean for you?

  • Take the guesswork out of adverting

You can upload your entire product catalog and let Facebook create ads for you. Using an algorithm, Facebook will select the best target audience to show your ads to.

Right now, small business owners have to do a lot of trial and error. You pick a product to highlight and select an audience based on a few parameters like location. This new feature is supposed to eliminate the guesswork and hone in on the most viable viewers.

  • Get ads in front of shoppers

If a potential shopper browses your website, you can set up a Product Ad to show up in that shopper’s newsfeed. It’s another example of the high tech targeting options you have with these new ads.

  • Multi-product ads

One of the most appealing Product Ad features is its ability to showcase several products. After all, most companies sell more than one product or service, so why limit adverting to just one thing?

These multi-product ads show up to three products. Each has its own image, description and link. On a mobile device, customers can swipe through the series of images and tap the screen to go to the seller’s website.

Facebook shared this image to show what the ads look like:

  • Real time updates

Product Ads update based on your inventory. If a product goes out of stock, the ad will update itself and stop showing that item to your audience.

What kind of response are Product Ads getting?

Target and Shutterfly are among the heavy hitters that tested the new ads. According to statistics supplied by Facebook, Target saw a 20 percent increase in conversions compared to other Facebook ads.

Shutterfly had similar results, and said the ads allowed their business to showcase products “in a clean and engaging way.”

Nomorerack, an online retailer, used the multi-product ad and reported a 42 percent increase in clickthrough rates. 

Where can you find this new feature?

If you’re using one of Facebook’s Marketing Partners, you can access the ads through them. In a few weeks, everyone will be able to access the ads through the Power Editor.

Facebook also launched a Relevance Score to help small businesses advertise on its platform. What do you think of the recent advertising changes on Facebook? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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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 Facebook Launches Product Ads appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Introducing The VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 06:00

Here at VerticalResponse, we’re always looking for more ways to expand product functionality and flexibility for our customers. To do so, we launched the Integrations Marketplace, a hub displaying every VerticalResponse integration. These integrations allow you to sync your VerticalResponse account with your favorite apps, services, software and tools, increasing efficiency.

We’re adding integrations on a regular basis, so check back often, or request the products or tools you use, and we’ll look into them! We’ve currently incorporated 13 integrations, including the launch of our seven latest: Kickbox, Tatango, Lander, Picreel,  Justuno, Dasheroo, and Wishpond!

Here’s a look into each of these latest integration, and what they can do for you:

Kickbox
Having a clean email list is one of the best ways get your email messages delivered to the inbox. Without consistently removing bounces and invalid email addresses from your contact list, you’re potentially wasting valuable sends and risking your reputation. Luckily, Kickbox is here to help you.

Kickbox enables you to import your VerticalResponse email lists into their platform, and quickly and easily remove disposable email domains including role-based email addresses (like admin@, info@, sales@). You can then export only valid email addresses back into your VerticalResponse account.

Kickbox introduces the innovative Sendex score and verification analytics to determine the quality of your email addresses. Plus, all users get 100 free verifications every day. Should you need additional email verifications, VerticalResponse customers get a 10 percent discount. Start separating good emails from the bad and ugly now.

Tatango
Imagine if people could sign up for your email list, just by sending you a text message? Tatango’s new integration with VerticalResponse makes this vision a reality.

To opt-in to your list, subscribers simple text your business’s assigned, unique word to the phone number 33733. They’re then prompted to reply with their email address – That’s it! Each email address is automatically added to your VerticalResponse email list. The best part? It’s free to collect up to 250 emails each month.

This is a unique tool for customer engagement; learn more on the VerticalResponse Integrations page.

Lander
Need to create a fresh landing page? Lander’s got you covered.

Lander has fully customizable landing page templates designed for any marketing goal, and optimized for conversions. Their editor is extremely easy to use, and pricing starts at just $9/month after a 30-day free trial. What’s more, Lander’s tool also includes built-in A/B testing functionality, allowing you to test two different versions of your landing page to ensure you’ll be transforming your visitors into customers.

Step up your landing page game here.

Picreel
Want visitors to stay on your website longer? Picreel offers cutting-edge Exit Intent Technology that analyzes mouse movements to detect when your visitors are making web page exiting steps, and prevents it. How? Picreel detects exit behavior and triggers an appropriate popup in the form of a newsletter, update, offer, free download, or other options to help grab that lead, and convert traffic into sales.

Picreel offers free customizable designs so you can use your own banners to ensure the design fits your website’s look and feel. You’ll also be able to take advantage of Picreel’s A/B split testing, and their powerful dashboard displaying real-time statistical data. Increase your conversion rates now using the VerticalResponse and Picreel integration. 

Justuno
Want to grow your email list? Give your readers an incentive. Justuno allows you to build email lists through incentive-based promotions; all using a simple instant offer widget.

An on-site promotion incentivizes website visitors to join your email list in exchange for a coupon code or free download, all while keeping the visitor on your site. Justuno’s widget also enables you to grow your social following by offering visitors a coupon in exchange for a Facebook like, Twitter follow, Google+1, among other available options.

Justuno seamlessly integrates with your VerticalResponse account and automatically exports all newly acquired email addresses directly to the email list of your choice. With targeting rules, a tab and pop up editor, and analytics, the Justuno dashboard makes it easy for you to manage your website promotions. Start converting your website traffic into email opt-ins and social fans with Justuno.

Dasheroo
Online marketing efforts often require the use of multiple web tools. Multiple tools often means multiple domains, usernames, and passwords to track all your social media, sales, and support activity. What if they were all in place? They are with Dasheroo. 

Dasheroo creates powerful insights using the most actionable data from popular sources like Facebook, Twitter, Google Analytics and of course VerticalResponse. Dasheroo dashboards enable you to organize data, and if you have a team they can use it too. Dasheroo is secure, in the cloud, and free.

Wishpond
Need a Swiss Army knife for your online marketing? Meet Wishpond. Create landing pages, contests, promos, forms, popups, and ads all in one place. Wishpond covers everything from A/B testing landing pages, to running a sweepstakes, managing your Google Ad words, and adding timed popups to your site is covered.

From small business owners to professional marketing agencies, Wishpond makes it possible to execute an entire online marketing campaign in one place. Once you’ve grabbed some hot new leads or contacts, export them straight into your VerticalResponse mailing list with the click of a button.

Stay in sync with the software and tools you use to run your business with VerticalResponse Integrations. Have a favorite product or service that you want VerticalResponse to integrate with? Let us know 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 Introducing The VerticalResponse Integrations Marketplace appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

The Top 10 Best Resources to Learn About SEO

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 09:15

When you’re looking for a answer, what do you do? You Google it, right? Most of us pull out our smartphone or laptop and head to Google, or a similar search engine to find answers. It’s so common that “google” is listed as a verb in the Oxford English Dictionary.

Of course, as a business owner, you want your own website to come up when people are searching for your product or service. So, how do you make sure your website appears in relevant search results? Your website has to be attractive to search engines. You need all the right ingredients to earn high rankings. This is where search engine optimization (SEO) comes in.

To ensure sure your website is as relevant as possible and when it comes to wowing search engines, you’ll want to learn as much as possible about search engine optimization from the pros.

To help you learn more about SEO, we’ve put together a list of the 10 best resources on the subject. While we’ve explained it in fairly simple terms, SEO can be complicated. Whether you’re an SEO newbie, or have a basic understanding of the practice, these resources are meant to help small business owners with a variety of skill levels.

SEO websites and blogs

1. Search Engine Land

This website, which focuses on the search marketing industry, is like a digital encyclopedia of search engine optimization information. Updates are frequent and subscribing to the daily newsletter will land all the latest news right in your inbox. 

2. Moz

Moz is an inbound marketing company and provider of SEO tools that has a blog full of insightful articles. The blog is updated frequently, and you can search for specific topics of interest. SOme of our favorite content is the Whiteboard Friday video series with Rand Fishkin the Wizard of Moz. 

3. Wordtracker

Wordtracker was doing SEO before it had a name. Based in London, this company publishes regular content about SEO on its blog.

Guides and videos

4. Google’s Search Engine Optimization Guide

This 30-page PDF is a great beginner’s guide to SEO. It’s full of information and pictures that go along with actionable tips that you can use to improve your Google rankings.

5. Creating an SEO Strategy

Not sure where to begin? Google has a how-to video that helps you set up a SEO strategy.

6. The Advanced Guide to SEO

Quick Sprout created this nine-chapter guide that offers more advanced SEO tips. It’s set up in an infographic style, which makes it easier to digest.

7. How to Conduct a Competitive SEO Audit

HubSpot has a five-step guide that checks your website against your competition. It’s a great resource for those with advanced SEO knowledge.

SEO tools

8. Google Webmaster Tools

As you make improvements to your website, you’ll want to monitor your success. Google Webmaster Tools can provide the statistics you’re looking for. Think of it as a data center for your website. We have a Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools that you’ll find helpful as you learn your way around the site. Bing has a similar tool.

9. Google Adwords Keyword Tools

Keywords are important to every SEO campaign. This tool will help you pick words that are popular with consumers and attractive to search engines.

10. Open Site Explorer

This tool serves as a link checker. You can see who has links to your site, spot broken URLs and size up your competition with this Moz tool. It has limited free capabilities, but you can upgrade for more features.

Where do you turn for SEO advice? Tell us your favorite resource or SEO tool in the comment section below. To learn more about the do’s and don’ts of SEO check out our popular infographic

Be sure to subscribe to our email newsletter and receive social, SEO, and email marketing tips on a weekly basis.

© 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 Top 10 Best Resources to Learn About SEO appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines

Mon, 02/23/2015 - 09:40

Here at VerticalResponse we’re always being asked things like, “What is the best day to send an email?” or “What are the real email marketing secrets?” and “What are some great subject lines?” I decided to focus this post on that last one, and offer some proven-to-work subject lines that you can test out for your email marketing campaigns.

First of all, I’m assuming at this point your recipients will recognize you from your “From Label.” If they’re familiar with who the email is coming from, you’ll have better luck getting your email opened with a catchy subject line.

As a retailer, your email marketing is probably mostly aimed at selling. If you sell your own products or products from other manufacturers, you may be trying to announce new products, new seasons or discounts and sales. You’ll want your recipients to act fast, so you’ll want to have a sense of urgency in your subject line – perhaps by including an expiration or limited time call to action.

You’ll see in my examples that some of the subject lines are a bit vague like “An Exclusive Offer for You,” however, sometimes that might get more opens than if you talk about a specific product. That’s something that you need to test for yourself in your own campaigns so let’s get on with the examples:

Offer, Offer, Offer

  • Enjoy this Special Offer at Our New Location
  • 25-40% off – Email-Only Offer – Today Only
  • You’re Invited! New Product Launch Party at [Your company] 
  • Ends Today! 20% Off Friends & Family
  • Top 10 under $10
  • Yours in 2 days (free shipping!) + 40% off
  • Free product with purchase of [product name]
  • [New Product] has arrived. Order now before we run out.
  • Earn double points for [insert product or action].
  • Last chance to get 50% off!
  • Want 20% off your next order?
  • Enjoy [season] with rates from $65
  • Exciting new changes at [your company]
  • An Exclusive Offer for You
  • TODAY. Post [holiday] Flash Sale! 2 for $20
  • Last minute deals, special offers, and new [product name]
  • Don’t Let These Get Away
  • Online only: 25% off friends and family
  • Introducing our latest…[product/feature here]
  • [Product name] Promotion week. Save 25%
  • Extended for a day! Get Free shipping through Friday
  • Don’t miss this! Extra 50% off sale ends tonight!
  • Limited Supply: Limit 2 [product name] per customer
  • The [your company] holiday catalog is here!
  • Email subscriber exclusive: [Product name] sale is here
  • Ends Today: Take 20% off your entire order
  • Last chance! Be sure to grab the best price!
  • Your choice of amazing items $50 + under
  • Great gifts for [Dad, Mom, etc]
  • Best Sellers Every [girl, boy, man, woman, dog, etc.] Needs
  • Everything you need when the temperatures [rise, fall]
  • [Hot, Cold?] Stay indoors and save.

Catchy & Creative

  • Sometimes all you need is a little vase lift  (retailer selling vases)
  • Seriously flattering jeans (retailer selling jeans, obviously – swap out jeans with your own product )
  • How [your company] got its name (retailer selling lingerie, telling a story inside the email)
  • Temperatures Fall, Style Rises (retailer selling coats)
  • Celebrity Favorites (retailer selling accessories that Hollywood is wearing)
  • Uh oh. Did you forget someone on your list? (coffee retailer suggesting subscription boxes)
  • 10 Gift Ideas for your little ones (retailer listing top 10 suggestions for kids)
  • Manhattan View for a Song in the Shower (retailer selling shower curtain with Manhattan skyline on it)
  • Take your pick: Our 9 Favorite [your product] (retailer suggesting items by popularity)
  • Coolest modern desk on the job…for $149 (retailer including price in the subject line)
  • Score Great Savings on Game-Time Gear: HDTVs, Furniture & More (retailer selling TVs with a sports slant)
  • Party Like it’s 1999 Aged Cabernet Special (wine retailer)
  • Get in Our Pants (retailer selling new product line)
  • It’s okay, you can wait till the last minute. (sale reminder)
  • Make room in that closet (clothing retailer announcing a new product)
  • Bring this email to our store and win! (retailer trying to get store traffic)
  • send some. get some. (florist rewarding customers with a $10 coupon for pre-ordering flowers for an upcoming holiday)
  • New Feature: Reviews by You! (retailer introducing customer reviews to products online)

I hope this gets your subject line creative juices flowing. If you’ve got some effective subject lines that have worked for your business, comment and let us know.

Send emails your emails for free using VerticalResponse – It’s free up to 1,000 contacts and 4,000 emails per month.

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in October 2009 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.

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

The post 50 All-Time Great Retail Subject Lines appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

LinkedIn Launches Notification Center for Company Pages

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:55

In a continued effort to support businesses, LinkedIn announced the launch of the notification center for company pages. This new feature, officially announced on the LinkedIn blog, provides users with an overview of their company page updates, including the number of likes, comments, and shares they receive on content, as well as any mentions the company has received on the LinkedIn network.

This new feature has been rolled out globally and is available for use by any company page administrator. 

Additionally, LinkedIn is trying to make it easier for company page administrators to navigate the notifications from their company page and personal network. To assist in this effort, LinkedIn is aggregating multiple actions that take place on your company page into one notification. This should clean up the notifications and allow administrators to more easily keep track of company activities as well as activity on their own personal network.

What do you think of the LinkedIn notification center? Do you think it will provide your business more useful insights? Share your thoughts in the comments. 

To receive more social updates, sign up for our weekly email newsletter.

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

The post LinkedIn Launches Notification Center for Company Pages appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Understand Your Target Market: 3 Steps to Creating Customer Personas

Fri, 02/20/2015 - 09:00

Your product or service is intended for a particular group of people, right? Whether your customers are commuters, busy moms, fashion bloggers, or families needing dental care, your business appeals to a target market. You may have a grasp on your customers, but how well do actually know them?

Digging into the depths of your target market by creating customer personas or profiles can help ensure your product and marketing efforts are strategic and on point. According to Wikipedia, personas are defined as fictional characters created to represent the different user types that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.

How do you create customer personas? Some business owners go off a gut feeling, however, unless you have psychic powers, it’s best to conduct some simple research. There’s a lot of information on the topic, so we’ve narrowed it down to three simple steps to help you pull together the framework of personas for your business. 

Step #1: Interview and/or survey your customers

Interviews and surveys can provide some of the most valuable feedback about your customers. One-on-one interviews provide the most in-depth infromation because you can get clarification or expand upon questions. Survey services like Survey Monkey allow you to sample a larger group given one-on-one interviews aren’t very scalable.

When interviewing or surveying customers, your questions will obviously vary depending on your industry (retail vs. service-based, or B2B). Here are some topics we explored when considering our customer personas:

  • How they found our company (referral, word-of-mouth, internet, an ad, social etc.)
  • Why they bought from us (good price, excellent service, unique offering, etc.)
  • Their level of technical experience (This, again, depends on your industry.)
  • Company information (size, type, industry, etc.)
  • Demographic information (age, gender, household income, etc.)
  • Location
  • What challenges they face
  • What problem our product or service solves for them
  • How our sales process was (easy, hard, middle of the road)

Asking these types of questions can help you start to see themes in your customer base as you move on to step 2.

Step #2: Dive into the data

Once you’ve gathered enough data from interviews and/or surveys, bucket your findings into different groupings. More than likely, you’ll start to see patterns. As certain characteristics start to bubble up, your personas will start to take shape.

Step #3: Develop the personas

You can start with around 3-5 personas. Use a persona template like the one found below from Orange Bus. Fill in the blanks with your data, create a name and even give your persona a picture to bring it to life. 

There are several persona frameworks you can create or choose from – check out these examples

For more information on creating customer personas, check out The Beginner’s Guide to Marketing Personas written by Kevan Lee of Buffer.

These three steps should help set you on a course to better understanding your customers’ motivations, challenges and the problems your business helps solve for them. Then you can take that information and create marketing content that best serves their needs.

© 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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