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10 Examples of Highly Effective Welcome Emails

Wed, 11/12/2014 - 06:05

One of the most important tools in your email marketing toolbox is an automated welcome email. When new contacts subscribe to your list you want to welcome them to the group with an inviting email.

A welcome email is the first friendly exchange between your business and a new subscriber. It sets the tone for future communications and encourages new members to engage with your business.

To help you create an effective welcome email, we’ll highlight ten effective examples. These emails come from businesses big and small. For each example, we’ll point out its best feature to show you how to create your own killer welcome email.

1. Write a welcoming note
Our first example highlights the importance of a friendly greeting.

“One of the key pieces of a welcome email is a warm introduction,” says Tiffany Romero, president of Sway Group, a content marketing agency.

The David’s Bridal email above features a great introductory message. It thanks new subscribers for making the company part of their wedding day. You can write something straightforward like, “Welcome to our email list,” or “Thanks for signing up to get our emails.” Edgy clothing company, NASTY GAL likes to say, “Welcome to the party! We are so happy you’ve found us!” Or, you can be a little more formal like David’s Bridal. There’s no right or wrong way to welcome new guests, just make sure it’s conversational and fits your company’s voice.

2. Reinforce perks of your email list
It’s always a good idea to reinforce a subscriber’s decision to sign up for your emails. One easy way to do that is to offer a quick “perks list,” which tells subscribers why joining your email list was a great idea. Flood Magazine does a great job of explaining who they are, what their magazine is about and explains that newsletter subscribers will receive “all the best shows, events, contests, and content that your hometown has to offer—right to your inbox. We do the heavy-lifting and you enjoy the rewards.”


In the example below, the National Football League (NFL) lists five advantages of being a member of its email list. The NFL’s bulleted list is a good example of how to articulate the benefits.

3. Offer a deal
By offering a discount or some sort of gift, you can create goodwill between your business and your new subscribers. It may even entice them to make purchase. San Francisco dance school, ODC, welcomes and thanks new members and/or recipients by giving them a new student special.

GAP offers a $15 discount off a purchase of $75 as a welcome gift. It’s a small incentive that can benefit both the company and the new customer.

4. Create a clear call to action
Every welcome email should have a clear call to action, Romero says.

This email is effective not only because of its clean look and promotional offer, it’s most important aspect is the call to action. Notice how it stands out? The color sets it apart, yet complements the color scheme. The button, rather than hyperlinked text, makes it prevalent. Plus, it’s urgent. The words, “Shop Now,” inspire recipients to act.

5. Shine the spotlight on your product or service with eye-catching images
As you welcome your new contacts, it’s okay to put your product or service front and center. After all, your new subscriber asked to learn more about your business or product by subscribing. Give them what they want. Use images to showcase your products like Crocs does here:

If you’re a service-based business or non-profit try using compelling or emotion-evoking images that relate to your business; spotlight a successful and happy customer, include a picture of your team or volunteers (who doesn’t love a warm welcome from everyone?), display before and after pictures, or use clean, flat, simple graphics and complementary colors like Birchbox, the beauty subscription box company does:

6. Be mobile friendly
An effective welcome email has to look good – and work well – on mobile devices. According to Adobe’s Digital Publishing Report, 79% of smartphone owners use their device for email. The report also says smartphone users are more likely to use their device for email than for making calls. Clearly, creating a mobile-friendly version of your welcome email is important. (If you’re using VerticalResponse, all our emails are responsive, so they look great no matter what device they viewed on).

7. Add social media buttons
Including links to your social media sites is another key component in an effective welcome email. New contacts are curious about your business; otherwise they wouldn’t have signed up. Fuel their engagement by sharing the social media sites your business is on. Take a look at this email below from a British department store. Notice in the bottom right corner there are links to the company blog, Twitter and Facebook page.

It’s always a good idea to give subscribers additional ways to get in touch with you and interact with your business.

With these ten examples, you’ll be able to create an effective welcome email. Plus, we have new automated welcome email feature, which makes it easier than ever.  Use VerticalResponse to send your welcome email for free! 

© 2014, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 10 Examples of Highly Effective Welcome Emails appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Build Your Social Media Audience from the Ground Up

Tue, 11/11/2014 - 06:01

Like a talented musician playing music to an empty room, you need to attract an audience if you want to be heard. The same goes for social media – You have to grow and engage an audience in order for people to ‘hear’ all of the great things about your business. But, you’ve got to start somewhere. In this post, we focus on building your Facebook and Twitter audiences from the empty room, so to speak, so let’s get to it!

Growing Your Audience on Facebook

Invite friends to Like your page 

Sometimes you get by with a little hep from your friends. In this case, your Facebook friends. After you create a business Facebook Page, you’ll want invite your personal friends to “Like” it. Friends are likely to see, Like, share, and comment on your content, which also increases the likelihood that your content will show up often in the News Feed. Here’s how:

Please note: It’s easy to invite friends to Like your page, however, keep in mind that Facebook is also consistently testing various page designs and layouts, so your options may differ depending the layout Facebook has given you. If you don’t see either of these options, let us know and we’ll be happy to help!

1. You can either A) Go to your Business Page and click the three dots just to the right of the Message button. 

Or B) Go to your Business Page and click on Build Audience found in the upper right hand side tool bar.

2. Click on Invite Friends and a drop down menu or pop up will appear. Here, you can scroll through your personal friends and click the “Invite” button. If you’ve previously invited them to Like your Business Page, it’ll indicate so by displaying a check mark. If you click on Search All Friends, you have the option of narrowing your friends down by city, club, those you’ve had recent interactions with, family, school and more.

Promote your Page

1. If you want to attract people who don’t already know about or Like your business, promoting your Facebook page is a (paid) option. To make a clear distinction, this option is to create an ad promoting your Business Page so more people see it and may Like it. You aren’t necessarily buying or guaranteed Likes.

There are websites that promise to provide a large number of Business Page likes, but we strongly advise against using them. Why? As we outlined in a post earlier this year, paying for followers may have a negative impact on your engagement, as these users are not actively interested in your business. Uninterested users don’t interact with your posts as often, which affects when and how often others see your content in their News Feeds.

An ideal scenario is to use Facebook to help supplement your growth in addition to other activities, like trying to connect to existing customers to help build your audience over the long run.

With that, here’s how to promote your Business Page:

Either A) click the Promote Page button on the left-hand side.

Or B) Under the option Build Audience (as seen above), select Promote Page.

2. A pop up titled “Get More Page Likes” will appear. You’ll want to upload an image, (or simply use your Facebook Page cover photo that automatically populates), fill out sections for location, interests, age and gender that are applicable to your business, as these are the people you’re targeting to Like your page. Determine your budget (you can opt for as little as $5 a day) and schedule how long you want your Like campaign to run.

 

Growing Your Audience on Twitter

Maximize Twitter Search

In your Twitter account, you will see a search box in the top right. To find people that you want to follow, enter a search term that’s relevant to your business. In this example, we used the term “small business.” Click the magnifying glass icon to initiate the search, and narrow the results by clicking the different options on the right-hand side. Choose people to narrow your search to Twitter accounts of people rather than businesses. You can also choose from “everywhere” or “near you” to further narrow your search.

You can then browse for people who may be interested in your business by reading their bios. Following them and engaging with their tweets may initiate and encourage a follow back. This method isn’t guaranteed, but it will provide you with a targeted list of folks that you can start to build relationships with.

Promote Your Tweets

If you have some budget to dedicate towards building your audience, like Facebook, Twitter also provides a paid option. Just follow these steps:

1. Set up a Twitter account for your business. 

2. Set up a Twitter Ads account for your business.

3. Enter your new ads account and click on the campaigns link in the upper left-hand corner.

4. Click on the Create new campaign button and pull down to Followers (Promoted Account)

5. When the new window opens, Twitter will walk you through the setup process for your promoted account. You can choose your audience by interests or followers, or if you have your own data (like a list of email addresses) you can target potential followers more specifically. Just like Facebook, you can choose all the parameters, then set a budget and you will be provided an estimate on how many followers you can expect. 

One of the key differences between the Twitter and Facebook is that brands on Twitter can proactively follow accounts that could be interested in a certain product or service. This is not the case on Facebook. Because of this difference, you may have a better chance of building an engaged following on Twitter if you choose to go the paid route.

So there you have it – A quick and easy overview of a few ways to build your social media audience on Facebook and Twitter from the ground up. For more social media tips, get the VR Buzz.

© 2014, 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 Build Your Social Media Audience from the Ground Up appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

25 Holiday Email Subject Lines That Shine

Mon, 11/10/2014 - 06:00

The day after Halloween marked the official start of the holiday shopping season and since then, holiday-related emails have been arriving in our inboxes on a daily basis. Why are holiday emails seemingly being sent earlier and earlier each year? Christmas-themed and general winter holiday season emails have higher open rates when sent weeks or even months earlier than immediately before the target holiday, according to a recent article by Marketing Profs.

To get you in the holiday swing of things, here are 25 examples of holiday email subject lines that stood out in our inbox – use them for inspiration.

1. Warby Parker: Cozy up

2. VerticalResponse: Are Your Holiday Cards in the Mail Yet? Get 60% Off!

3. WillCall: Hey, we made you something for the holidays!

4. Chasing Fireflies: Our magical Holiday Gift Shop is open + Save up to 80% in our Halloween Blowout Sale!

5. Shutterfly: We’re feeling very merry. Get 50% off your order.

6. Omaha Steaks: Wanna get the REALLY good holiday deals this year? 

7. Uncommon Goods: The Time Has Come

8. Real Simple: 10 DIY Fall Wreaths That Are Way Better Than a Welcome Mat

9. BevMo!: NEW for November! Delicious Wines for the Fall Season.

10. Workshop: FALL STEAM AHEAD: Over 80 classes up & posted, Oktoberfest weekend workshops & CAMP DIY 

11. Kabuki Springs & Spa: 3 Tips to Boost Your Immune System this Fall 

12. Alternative: First look | Alternative Gift Guide

13. Finish Line: The Holiday Gift Guide is here. Game on for gift giving.

14. Kayak: Waiting for lower Thanksgiving flight prices? Stop and book.

15. Premier Dermatology: Day of Beauty: Winter 2014

16. Paper Culture: Need Holiday Photo Card Ideas?

17. Tory Burch: Presenting: Tory’s Gift Guide

18. Zazzle Inc: Early Birds Save 50% On All Ornaments & Mugs + 20% Off Everything Else

19. Circus Center: PERFORM in our 2014 Holiday Student Gala!

20. Turntable Kitchen: get ready for holiday entertaining: recipes, cocktails, music recommendations

21. Groupon: Get a Head Start on Your Holiday Checklist

22. Travel Channel: Travel’s Best Holiday Attractions 2014

23. JetBlue Airways: A sale to escape the winter weather!

24. Bing Webmaster Team: It’s not too late: Reach more holiday shoppers with your $100 coupon

25. Harry & David: Kim, get a jump on holiday shopping with your Gift History and enjoy free shipping.

Successful holiday email subject lines 

As you can see, many of the email subject lines target early bird shoppers looking for gift ideas (gift guides) and getting prepped for the holidays. Focus your holiday email subject lines not only on offering deals and promotions like free shipping and discounts, but also on solving your customers’ problems through gift guides, tips, ideas, extended or special shopping hours, etc.

To give you an idea of the most effective subject line words from holiday emails, we created this holiday email subject line infographic:

For more holiday marketing resources, visit our Everything Holiday site, and grab our free Complete Guide to Holiday Email Marketing

You can create and send all your holiday emails for free using VerticalResponse. Get started today! 

© 2014, 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 Holiday Email Subject Lines That Shine appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Set up a Facebook Page for Your Business

Fri, 11/07/2014 - 06:00

Does your small business have a presence on the world’s largest social network? It doesn’t have to be an intimidating process to set up Facebook Business Page. In this short video, we walk you through the basic Facebook Page set up so you’ll be up and running in minutes.

For more tips about getting started using Facebook for your business, grab our free guide

Get more helpful marketing tips and advice in the weekly VR Buzz.

 

© 2014, 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 Set up a Facebook Page for Your Business appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

3 PR Hooks for the Holidays – How to Garner More Buzz

Wed, 11/05/2014 - 06:00

The last few months of the year are here, the weather is cooling down and people in general are in a happy, jolly mood – including the media. Take advantage of this typically slow news period by amplifying your public relations efforts. Here are three press-generating ideas to help you land some positive, end-of-year media coverage around the holidays.

1. Throw a fundraising soiree

If you have a brick-and-mortar location, consider donating your space and time to host a holiday party for a good cause. Partner with a local non-profit that you’re passionate about and work together on an invite list. It doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg to put the party together; some holiday décor, music (hello, Spotify), appetizers and drinks are all you need to make this an event to remember – and a fete the press will want to cover. Who doesn’t love a feel-good story, after all?

2. Pitch last-minute gift guides

Print magazines usually finalize their holiday gift guides in late summer, but no worries – there are plenty of online media outlets that post gift round-ups in November and well into December. Do your research to find out which reporter or writer covered gift-guide articles the previous year, find his or her email address and send them a short, one-to two-paragraph email about why your product is perfect for their specific readership. For more on gift guides and how to find the right contact information, check out our “PR Tips for the Holidays” webinar.

3. Compile a year-end company roundup

If your company had a great year, why not tout it? Cap off the year with a roundup of all your achievements over the past 12 months. Things to include might be revenue growth, employee growth, customer growth and even fun, out-of-the-ordinary stats like how many cups of coffee your staff consumed. Turn it into a press release and perhaps – if you’ve got some creative chops – an infographic, and share it with local, trade and national business press. (Don’t forget to let your own customers know, too, by sending them an email and posting the roundup on your social media networks.) We did this a couple of years ago at VerticalResponse and got tons of coverage.

Have any other ideas on how to leverage the holidays and secure press buzz? Let us know in the comments!

Get more holiday marketing tips from our Everything Holiday site and help make your holidays a success! 

© 2014, 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 PR Hooks for the Holidays – How to Garner More Buzz appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

3 Ways to Wrap up Retail Website Sales this Holiday Season

Tue, 11/04/2014 - 06:00

It’s hard to believe that the holiday season is here. Businesses are decking the halls for an incredibly busy time of year. The National Retail Federation predicts a 4.1% increase in total retail spending vs. last year. And Shop.org expects November and December 2014 online retail sales will top $100 billion for the first time!

In fact, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) says 43% of holiday gift spending will take place online, up from 42% in 2013. PWC says 41% of shoppers will increase how much they spend online this season.

“With the day-to-day hustle of running your ecommerce business, it’s easy to forget the approaching holidays,” says marketer Richard Lazazzera for the Shopify Blog. “How many times has a holiday come, only for you to realize that you never prepared a promotion for it? If you want to make 2014 your best year yet as an online retailer, then you need to be prepared and plan ahead.”

So, we’ve got three ways to help you wrap up some of this year’s holiday sales for your business.

1. Create strong incentives to buy
A potential customer leaving a website without taking any action is the norm rather than the exception. According to the Baymard Institute, an average of 68.06% of web users will leave a website without completing their purchases.

While consumers leave a website without purchasing or taking action for for a variety of reasons, according to Statistica, the top three ‘risk factors’ are clear: People drop out of a website’s conversion funnel when they’re presented with unexpected costs,  are in a ‘browsing’ mindset, or are able to find a better price elsewhere. 

Over the holidays, competition for your website audience’s business is even more cutthroat. With competitors flooding the web with unbeatable deals, customers will have a strong incentive to leave your website.

To have a leg up, make a commitment to outsmart the noise with compelling promotional codes, loyalty program offers and timed deals. Pay attention to what your competitors are releasing. Beat the numbers game by offering something more.

2. Plan your editorial calendar
Some consumers finished their holiday shopping last February. Rest assured, however, there will be plenty of customers who are scrambling – at the last minute – to find gift ideas.

That’s where content comes in.

Buying guides, recommended products and gift ideas will give your exhausted, time-strapped website audience the creative inspiration that they need to keep shopping. By November, people will be in the mindset of ‘just getting it done,’ but they won’t be willing to sacrifice the personal touch of a great gift.

“It’s a great task to do during any downtime you have now because as the holiday season gets closer, any downtime you’ve had will disappear in a snap, and you’ll be glad you thought ahead,” said Glen Stansberry, founder of publishing website Gentlemint in an American Express OPEN Forum.

For inspiration, check out ModCloth’s 2013 holiday gift guide, which breaks down thoughtful holiday gift ideas by personality type and interest:

3. Provide options for ultra procrastinators
Some people will wait until the very, very last minute to finish their shopping. One of the most valuable ways that your business can stand out from the competition is to offer an e-gift card – a shopping option that helps procrastinators get their shopping done without forcing them to set foot in a store. 

Feature these e-gift cards prominently on your site’s homepage, in your email marketing, and across your social media. Be a resource to your last-minute shoppers who will, without a doubt, be scrambling.

Final thoughts
Start thinking ahead. As you’re planning for the 2014 holiday season, you’re in a strong position to learn and gather insights for next year. The more you learn, the more empowered you’ll be to successful in driving sales this year – and in 2015, which, by the way, is just around the corner.

Visit our Everything Holiday site for more helpful holiday marketing resources, and you can do all your email marketing for free with VerticalResponse!

This post contributed by Ritika Puri, an entrepreneur, marketing consultant and startup advisor. In the past she ran a marketing team at a large ad tech company, where she built seven-figure revenue streams and analytics programs from the ground up. Ritika writes for Forbes, The Next Web, Business Insider and Entrepreneur.

© 2014, 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 Ways to Wrap up Retail Website Sales this Holiday Season appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Big Ideas to Make the Most of Small Business Saturday

Tue, 11/04/2014 - 06:00

Small Business Saturday, a day set aside to celebrate and shop at small businesses was created four years ago by American Express to rally people to shop local during the busy holiday season. It’ll also be here before you know it.

Small Business Saturday is always held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving – this year it’s on November 29th. Falling directly after Black Friday, this specific day helps bring attention and cash to local businesses. In fact, in 2013, customers spent an estimated $5.7 billion at small, independent businesses on Small Business Saturday according to American Express. To help your business take part, there are some useful tools you should take advantage of:

1. Personalize, Plan & Promote

Create personalized Small Business Saturday marketing materials with your business name, information and even an image, from the Small Business Saturday site. You’ll need to provide a few details about your business, such as name, address and website. The site provides downloadable, personalized email images, digital banners, images for social media posts and logos to use on your blog or website. You’ll also have the option to have your business featured on ShopSmall.com and free online advertising.

Do you have to be an American Express merchant to participate in Small Business Saturday? Nope, but if you are, you get even more goodies as seen below:

With these Small Business Saturday marketing goodies, you have several options for promoting the event, however, it’ll require a little planning. Because Small Business Saturday falls during one of the busiest shopping weekends of the holiday season, decide now which products, services, sales or specials you want to promote, especially during the holidays.

Plan at least one social post per week leading up to the big day; the more frequent the posts, the better, if you can manage it. The images provided on the Small Business Saturday site work well for both social posts and emails, which creates consistency. Plan to send at least two emails about Small Business Saturday; one to save the date, and one the week of to remind people. If you also send a newsletter, include information to encourage your subscribers to visit your business or website and shop.

We also created a Handy Holiday Marketing Calendar to make planning all your holiday marketing a breeze.

2. Spread the Word Offline

It’s never too early to get people fired up about events you have planned. Print Small Business Saturday signs or posters to hang by your cash wrap, or inside your business’ window. Consider creating postcards to send or pass out to remind customers about Small Business Saturday. Keep in mind, printing and mailing can take some time, so plan for your postcards to be printed and ready to mail 10 days before you need them to arrive.

3. Have a “Shop Small” Soiree

There are several fun event ideas you can plan around Small Business Saturday, including a kick-off breakfast, or a collaboration with several other local small businesses. To help your event efforts, sign up for an event kit, which contains welcome mats, shopping bags and other goodies. To qualify for the event kit, you’ll need provide information about your businesses and the event plan. Request your kit soon as supplies can run out!

4. Get Social

Use the hashtag #ShopSmall on any Tweets you write about Small Business Saturday so they’ll appear on the main Small Business Saturday Twitter feed. Also, check out the helpful Small Business Saturday Facebook page for ideas and info about special shopping day. Get customers in on the action as well by encouraging them to tweet about shopping small, or sharing pictures on Instagram using the #shopsmall hashtag.

With these tips, your business should be well on its way to a successful Small Business Saturday. Do you, or does your business participate? Let us know what you do to prepare or celebrate the day.

VerticalResponse is here to help with your holiday planning. Check out our ready-to-use images and banners for your holiday emails.

© 2014, 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 Big Ideas to Make the Most of Small Business Saturday appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Essential Emails You Should Send to Engage New Contacts

Mon, 11/03/2014 - 06:01

Getting new email contacts is exciting. That list of new names you’ve grown has a lot of promise in it, that is, if you make the right moves. New contacts can turn into loyal subscribers or frequent customers down the road. To make that a reality, you want to send a variety of emails to start building a relationship.

The first few emails you send to new subscribers are like the first few dates with a potential new interest. You want to make a good first impression, have engaging conversation and feel comfortable with each other. If all goes well, there are many more dates in your future. It’s the same with email marketing. The first emails you send are a way for the two of you to test the waters and see if there’s a connection.

To get you on the right track, here are four emails we recommend sending to your new contacts to help maximize your chances for a long-term relationship – outline these on your sign up page so your newest subscribers know what to expect:

1. Welcome email
The first email you should send is a welcome email. This friendly message serves as the first impression component in your new relationship. The email should welcome the new subscriber, reinforce the decision to sign up, and possibly offer a discount or a deal that’s just for new members. Here’s an example:

Notice there is a quick welcome message, a $20 off coupon code and a list of benefits that new subscribers get as part of your email family. It’s simple and to the point too; it doesn’t overwhelm the new subscriber with too much information.

To maximize your impact, a new contact should receive a welcome email within 48 hours of signing up.

“When someone first signs up to get on your list, it’s fresh in their mind,” says Austin Paley, corporate marketing communications manager for Blue Fountain Media. “They will actively look for you in their mailbox, which is why you should reach out quickly.”

2. Newsletter
To continue the welcome party, send new contacts a newsletter. Newsletters are a good way to start a conversation between you and your new contact. It offers news and information that can benefit your new subscriber.

Here is an example of a newsletter: 

This newsletter talks about upcoming events and a giveaway. Recipients can click on the topics to get more detailed information from the company’s blog.

Some small businesses choose to create a special newsletter for new contacts. This newsletter contains more introductory information like business history and other fun facts about the company.

Of course, newsletters aren’t just something you send at the beginning of an email relationship. They are meant to serve as a regular communications vehicle between your business and your subscribers, but when the relationship is fresh, people are hungry for information and a newsletter can help satisfy that craving.

3. Educational email
Much like a newsletter, an educational email also offers your new contact additional information about your business, product or service. This kind of email is meant to educate contacts about a specific topic that is connected to your industry.

This type of email shows you have the subscriber’s interest in mind. Plus, you want your business to become synonymous with quality content, and this is a good first step, Paley says.

Here’s an example of an educational email that Paley sends to his new subscribers: 

The email helps people learn how to select a digital marketing company via a downloadable 16-page white paper. You want to educate and nurture your new contacts at this stage, Paley says, and this kind of educational email does just that.

4. Promotional email
A few weeks into your email courtship, sending a promotional email is a nice gesture. It’s the equivalent of getting flowers from that new person in your life. It’s a nice way to say, ‘I’m thinking of you.’ Maybe the email contains a gift of some kind, a free consultation, a 20% off coupon or an invitation to a friends-and-family sale that only email contacts can access.

Here’s an example of a friends-and-family email:

This email is for an online retailer, but if you have a storefront you can certainly invite people to come to your business. If that’s the case, encourage recipients to print the email or show it to you on a smartphone for an additional in-store benefit.

The takeaway message is to spend some time engaging with your new contacts. They deserve a little extra attention and with these four emails you’ll set the tone for a lasting relationship.

How do you reach out to new contacts? Share it with us in the comment section below.

psst… We’re launching a new welcome email feature soon, so get ready to send a stellar welcome email of your own, with VerticalResponse.

© 2014, 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 Essential Emails You Should Send to Engage New Contacts appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Your November Holiday Marketing Checklist

Fri, 10/31/2014 - 06:00

As we turn the page on October and say “hello” to November, Thanksgiving is just around the corner. With it comes the 1-2-3 punch of Black Friday (Nov. 28), Small Business Saturday (Nov. 29), and Cyber Monday (Dec. 1). For many of us, this time of year determines whether we’ll be in the red or in the black come 2015, but the key to making sure your business has a successful November is getting ahead of the competition and promoting early.

If you haven’t already prepared your holiday marketing calendar, here’s a helpful checklist of tips and to-dos for November.

Week 1: November 2– 8

Choose a Promotional Opportunity Ahead of Time
There are many holiday promos to choose from, but some are probably more relevant to your business than others. For example, Black Friday is a classic choice for retailers, but for online businesses, Cyber Monday may be a better fit. Regardless of your industry, promoting Small Business Saturday is a great way to boost business in November while competing with the big guys. Whichever you prefer, pick one early and run with it!

Inform Customers about Increased Email Frequency
If you plan on increasing your email frequency in November (hint: you should!), you may risk more opt-outs. But, if you provide value to your subscribers via these increased mailings you’ll keep your recipients opening and engaging. To proactively manage expectations, send a friendly reminder to your subscribers explaining what your holiday email schedule will be (e.g. Monday-Wednesday-Friday), when it ends and what they can expect. Then, stick to it.

Segment Your Lists for the Holidays
Get your email list ready for the holidays by segmenting your list based on those who opened your recent emails versus those who didn’t. It’s a good bet that those who did will be more receptive to increased holiday communications from you. You can also segment based on location or demographic or past purchases. Doing so will allow you to send highly targeted, relevant content that’s more likely to be opened, read and acted upon.

Week 2: November 9 – 15

Send a Thank You Email
Nothing gives customers that warm, fuzzy feeling more than a sincere email thanking them for their business. If you really want to show them gratitude, try sending a special to your most engaged subscribers. Alternatively, you can send a “thank you” promo to all your customers to cast a wider net. Either way, they’ll appreciate it!

Week 3: November 16 – 21

Holiday Countdown to the Big Four
Consider sending an informative email to your customers this week counting down the days for all the major November shopping events. Use this chance to remind them of your specials, provide gift guides or invitations to special events you’re hosting:

  • Thanksgiving – Thursday, November 27
  • Black Friday – Friday, November 28
  • Small Business Saturday – Saturday, November 29
  • Cyber Monday – Monday, December 1

Update and Share Your Holiday Hours
If your business will be changing your hours for the holidays, use this week to send your customers a heads-up email to let them know. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else you market your business online. If your business will remain open during a time when other places typically do not, use this to your advantage!

Week 4: November 22 – 30

Round up Last-Minute Shoppers
Use the final week of November to cater to procrastinators on your email lists and elsewhere on social media with last-minute offers. Use phrasing like “ending soon,” “today only,” and other time-based language to drive home a sense of urgency and get more feet through your door or clicks on your site.

Final Thoughts
With these tips, a little forethought and extra planning, you too can get grab a slice of the $619.9 billion expected to be spent on holiday shopping this year. Get all the holiday marketing resources you need from our Everything Holiday site and in our Complete Guide to Holiday Marketing.

Send all your holiday email marketing with VerticalResponse. It’s free! 

© 2014, 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 Your November Holiday Marketing Checklist appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Steps to Prep Your Search Engine Marketing for the Holidays

Thu, 10/30/2014 - 06:00

October marks the beginning of holiday season for many businesses. Halloween, Thanksgiving (in the U.S.), Christmas, Hanukkah, plus Black Friday and Cyber Monday mark some of the biggest and busiest times for all types of businesses. If you haven’t already started planning for the holidays, it’s time to kick your search engine marketing campaigns into gear so your business can reap the benefits all holiday season long. Here are 4 steps to get your SEM ready now:

1. Do Your Research

The first thing you should do when creating a new, holiday-based SEM campaign is to start with research. Here’s what you should look up:

  • Boost Media advises looking at your internal data first. Look at what happened last year during the holiday period. What were the top driving factors?
  • Examine keywords to see which drove the most visits, and which keywords are worth the most to you.
  • Determine which products were most popular.
  • Use search trend data to figure out how early you should be get started, what kind of traffic volume you should expect, how much budget you should allocate and how aggressive your bids should be.
  • Look at free third party data to see what industry experts are saying.
  • Additionally, check out your competitors’ marketing efforts to see what they’ve done in the past, as well as what they may have already started doing. See what incentives or changes they’ve made to their holiday strategy to form your own.

2. Form Your Strategy

Once you’ve completed your research, you should have a good idea as to who your best customers are, what they’ll most likely be looking for, and where to find them. Choosing an appropriate strategy can make a big difference on the efficiency and the overall profitability of your holiday campaigns. Make sure to include mobile into your targeting, as more and more people are using their mobile devices for research on products, services, and pricing. PracticalEcommerce says about one-third of all U.S. sales in October, November, and December of this year will come from mobile devices. Whether you’re an online shop or a brick and mortar store, it’s always important to be visible on mobile.

3. Take Action

You’ll want to consider setting aggressive bids because competition will be fierce during the holidays. Additionally, make sure to use everything that Adwords and Bing Ad center have to offer. Take advantage of ad extensions like sitelinks, call out, and click to call extensions to drive traffic and business to your most profitable items. Lastly, use remarketing to stay in front of customers who showed interest but didn’t make a purchase, as well as repeat customers who may be even more valuable during this busy and extra competitive time.

4. Make Buying Easy

Make your buying process as easy as possible – This is one of the most important, yet often overlooked strategies to keep in mind. Reducing the number of steps to purchase is always a good idea, regardless of the season. Streamline your check out process and offer incentives like discounts, or free shipping to help customers purchase.

With these 4 steps, your search engine marketing campaigns will be more prepared for the holidays than ever. For more helpful holiday marketing resources visit our Everything Holiday site.

© 2014, 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 Steps to Prep Your Search Engine Marketing for the Holidays appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Effective Birthday Emails That Light up Our Inboxes

Tue, 10/28/2014 - 06:01

I recently celebrated my birthday, and as an email and content marketer, I couldn’t wait to see what kind of birthday emails I’d receive from the various email lists I subscribe to. This year, I got a dozen different birthday emails from retailers, airlines, restaurants and even my dentist (maybe he heard about the birthday cake email below)! Not sending engagement-driving birthday emails yourself? Now’s the time. In this post, we break down various birthday emails, and what makes them effective or miss the mark – Take note!

First, here’s a snapshot of my Gmail promotions tab from the day of my birthday:

You Said It’s Your Birthday?

Even though it seems obvious, every birthday-related email I received, and any you create, should mention the word “birthday” in the subject line. It’s an immediate attention grabber, and it makes the recipient feel special. As you can see from the screenshot above, the word “birthday” was used in a variety of ways from the simplest, “Happy Birthday Kim!” (nice personalization) to the more creative including questions, offers and promotions.

Birthday Gifts in the Form of Offers

Sending a birthday offer is an excellent way to not only let your recipients know you’re thinking of them on their special day, but it also drives revenue, because who doesn’t want to treat themselves on their birthday? My inbox was brimming with birthday offers including gift cards, free chocolate cake and more. Take a look at some of the best:

Tory Burch

Tory Burch sent a $50 virtual gift card to be used in stores or online.

What made this offer effective:

The offer contained a unique promo code, which didn’t expire for 30 days. The offer also contained pre-header text that read, “Best wishes on your special day. Shop Now.” It was an unexpected gift that provided an added incentive to buy something and “save” $50.

Piperlime

Like Tory Burch, online retailer, Piperlime sent me an offer for a discount on a minimum purchase; $25 off my next purchase of $100 or more.

What made this offer effective:

Piperlime spelled out the specifics in the actual offer vs. burying it in the fine print. The headline is also nice with the, “Birthday Treat Yourself” messaging. The offer also contained a unique promo code, which expired after one week, creating a greater sense of urgency.

 

Omaha Steaks:

Omaha Steaks went with a slightly different birthday approach – right to the stomach.

What made this offer miss the mark: 

This offer immediately grabbed my attention. Why? Two words: Chocolate cake. With a drool-worthy image of a luscious chocolate cake, Omaha Steaks had my attention. However, with multiple “combo” offers, (free chocolate cake, 10% off, and 61% off), the “gift” became confusing, and I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting?

 

The call to action (“Hurry, Claim Now”) has an effective sense of urgency, and it enticed me to click through, however, I landed on a page with details of the Birthday Celebration Combo, yet couldn’t find an offer expiration. No cake for me.

DSW

DSW shoe retailer took the anti-cake route with their offer, “Forget Cake! B-days Need New Shoes!” and included a $5 off deal.

What made this offer effective:

DSW personalized the subject line: “$5 off for the birthday girl! We ♥ you, Kim!” They used both my gender and my first name. Plus, they added an eye-catching symbol (the heart). Like Tory Burch, DSW gave me 30 days to use my $5 off promotion.

 

I also recently received a birthday email in my inbox, not for my birthday, but for J.Crew’s birthday, which included the attention-getting subject line, “Sorry, you can’t wear your birthday suit to our party…” Inside was the following: “A party favor, from us to you” and a 50% off offer. It was a great way to leverage a milestone for their business and do something unexpected for the subscriber – me! 

So what can you learn from these birthday emails for your own business? Birthday emails offer you the opportunity to engage and connect with subscribers in a personal way by acknowledging something about them vs. purely trying to sell something to them. By wishing subscribers a “Happy Birthday!,” you have the chance to extend and build the relationship beyond subscriber and sender,  and you may even generate a little revenue in the process – that’s the icing on the cake!

Do you send birthday emails to your subscribers? Tell us what you offer in the comments.

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

 

© 2014, 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 Effective Birthday Emails That Light up Our Inboxes appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

7 Tips to a Stellar Welcome Email

Mon, 10/27/2014 - 08:56

When a new subscriber comes along, you want to dazzle them. How? Greeting your new subscribers with a welcome email is the first step to impressing your new contacts.

To help you create a stellar welcome email, we have a list of seven tips to follow:

1. Send a welcome email immediately
When someone new signs up for your email list, they are actively seeking more information about your company. Don’t leave them hanging. You want to feed their curiosity while it’s piqued, which is why you want to send a welcome email right away – within 48 hours is best. 

2. Offer value
A welcome email goes beyond the kind message that simply welcomes a new subscriber to your list; it sets the tone for your relationship. You want to show your subscribers that every email, including the very first one they receive, has value, says Shemiah Williams, President of Modern Graffiti Marketing Group.

“Sending a welcome email is the first step of good faith that you will honor their email address and commit to communicating valuable information with them,” she says.

What makes a welcome email valuable? To start, you want to deliver a friendly message that offers additional information about your business. A discount or promotional offer is also valuable to your subscribers and prospective customers. Here’s an example of a valuable welcome email.


Right out of the gate, it thanks the new subscriber for signing up, offers information about the email list and provides a coupon.

3. Reinforce the benefits of your email list
A welcome email should explain why it’s valuable to belong to your list. Tell your subscribers the benefit they’ll gain from receiving your emails. From the best deals to insider information, listing the benefits of your emails reminds subscribers that signing up for your list was a good choice. Take a look at the example below. The retailer welcomes the subscriber and highlights the benefits.

4. Gather more information
Your welcome email is also a good opportunity to gather more information about your new subscribers. They are showing interest in your business, now it’s your turn to show interest in them. The email above from REI is a good example. It encourages the subscriber to update their email preferences so they get only emails that they’re interested in. Gathering this kind of information is a win-win. Customers receive valuable information that they want, and you learn more about their interests. In the future, you’ll be able to send targeted emails to subscribers, which are more likely to lead in a visit to your website or a purchase.

5. Be brief and focused
A welcome email shouldn’t be a lengthy tome. Keep your welcome email short and to the point. You want to welcome the new subscriber, provide a few tidbits of information and include one call to action. Whether that call to action is in the form of activating an offer, updating email preferences or clicking a link to learn more about your company, you want to keep it simple. Too much information can overwhelm the subscriber, and that’s not the impression you’re going for.

6. Write in a conversational tone
When you craft your welcome email, write it as though you’re reaching out to a friend. It’s okay to be more personal or humorous with your emails compared to the content that you write for your website or blog. Your list of email subscribers are like your close friends. They’re the ones taking initiative to learn more about your company, so why not welcome them in as a friend? Make sure you write your welcome email in a conversational tone that makes the new subscriber feel like part of your tight-knit group, Williams says.

“A conversational tone is the easiest way to connect recipients; so, stray away from the business speak,” she suggests.

7. Create a welcoming subject line
Go beyond the basic, “Welcome to Our Company” subject line when you send a welcome email. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Here are a few examples:

  • ModCloth: We’re delighted to have you! Here’s a little intro info
  • Ann Taylor: A gift to welcome you to Ann Taylor
  • Destination Maternity: Welcome. Get inspired and get saving
  • Tiffany & Co.: Thank you for joining our email list
  • DSW: Welcome, shoe lover. Take a look at our latest deals
  • NOMAD: We’re glad you found us
  • Overstock: Welcome to Omail – sit back and start saving
  • ODC and Rythm & Motion: Welcome! 4 Classes for $22 – New Student Special
  • Flavorwire: Welcome to Flavorwire, the inbox edition

With these tips, you’ll be on your way to welcoming new subscribers in style. You can also learn the 7 Reasons Your Business Needs a Welcome Email

We’re launching a new welcome email feature in the next few weeks, so get ready to send a stellar welcome email of your own, with VerticalResponse.

© 2014, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 7 Tips to a Stellar Welcome Email appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Tell If Google’s Penguin 3 is Affecting Your Backlinks [VIDEO]

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:00

Google is constantly making changes to their algorithms, but do you know how the latest Penguin 3 release is affecting your site? In this short video, we show you how to tell if this latest release is impacting your backlinks in a positive or negative way. We also provide actionable tips about how you can change your backlinks if you’re seeing less than favorable results from the Google Penguin 3 release.

 Get more marketing tips and advice in the weekly VR Buzz

 

© 2014, 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 Tell If Google’s Penguin 3 is Affecting Your Backlinks [VIDEO] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

12 Images You Should Share on Social Media

Fri, 10/24/2014 - 06:00

Posting photos to social media is one of the fastest, easiest and fun ways to promote your business as well as boost engagement with your audience. If you’re not sure what types of images make for good exposure, use this list as your guide:

1. Customer photos. Show off your customers’ satisfaction with your product, enjoying the benefits of your service, or just happily browsing in your store. The Epicurean Connection
 has plenty photos of smiling, dancing and satisfied customers on Instagram. You could also get your customers to post photos of them using your products. Check out Girly Go Garter’s “Share A Photo, Win A Garter” promotion on Instagram.

2. Community engagement pictures. Post photos of your staff volunteering or your company sponsoring a local event or team to show your community involvement. Here’s a Flickr photo of Vivid Image sponsoring a girls’ softball team.

3. Employee spotlight images. IBM Southeast Employees’ Federal Credit Union uses Facebook to highlight a different employee each month with a photo and short introduction to help customers get to know them better, which can build trust.

4. Product shots. Pictures of existing products, new arrivals or particularly unique pieces can help increase awareness with potential and existing customers. This is also a good option for smaller businesses that don’t have a dedicated online store or those that rotate one-of-a-kind pieces frequently. San Francisco-based company, BloomThat, delivers flowers in a snap. They also snap excellent product photos on Instagram:

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It might be coolin’ down but our blooms are heatin’ up! Keep your eyes peeled for #NewBlooms next week!

View on Instagram

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“Every now and then, if I list something in the Etsy shop, I will post it to Instagram,”says Susan Cusick Hill, who owns Born At the Wrong Time, an online store specializing in vintage fabrics, do-it-yourself kits, linens, home décor and housewares. “Just the other night, I listed a ‘new’ vintage item and one of my followers purchased it soon after.”

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Ran into these lovely #ladies while antiquing today. #vintage #mannequins #heads #women

View on Instagram

 

5. Announcements. Off the Grid, a series of mobile food and music events or markets in the San Francisco Bay area, uses Twitter to post photos of various food trucks and their mouth-watering food that can be found at each event, as well as when and where the events and food trucks will be.

6. The funny-but-relevant photo. Here’s a funny photo that Tower Paddle Boards posted on Instagram. Humor is a great way to demonstrate a company’s personality — and to get people to share, which is free publicity!

7. Before-and-after shots. Bariatric Solutions, a Dallas weight-loss surgery center, posts before and after photos of patients on Flickr. It’s an essential approach for businesses that promise visual results. This strategy is especially useful for service-based businesses such as a dental office or hair salon.

8. Behind-the-scenes shots. Aveda posts photos from shows on Flickr, such as these from backstage at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week as proof that its hair care products are being used by industry professionals. VerticalResponse customer S&S Brand posts behind-the-scenes photos of their BBQ sauce making process and posts the inside scoop on Flickr. Online retailer, ModCloth always garners great engagement with behind-the-scenes pics of their dog-friendly headquarters in San Francisco.

9. Contest photos. Yes to Carrots, a company specializing in natural beauty care, has a monthly photo contest on Pinterest that helps keep its customers engaged, promotes brand loyalty and garners free publicity for the company with the use of hashtags.

10. Events. Nooch Vegan Market in Denver uses Instagram in a variety of ways, including promoting events it sponsors, like the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos. The photos work as an invitation to the event, a way to raise awareness related to a cause and a means of letting customers know what’s important to you.

11. Videos. LearningRx, a national brain training company, posts testimonials from students and parents on YouTube. “The best way for people to learn about our programs’ life-changing results is directly from our graduates, in their own words,”explains Tanya Mitchell, LearningRx’s, vice president of Research & Development.

12. Scouting photos. Whether you’re headed to Italy to stock up on olive oil for your kitchen store or touring artists’ studios for the best pottery to sell in your home décor shop, take your camera to share the highlights! Scouting photos are a great way to show your products are authentic, handpicked and/or handcrafted. When the owners of Barracuda Bazaar, a trendy women’s boutique in Old Colorado City, Colorado went to Los Angeles in search of new stock, they posted photos on Facebook once they arrived.

Which of these photos garners your business the most engagement on social media?

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

© 2014, 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 12 Images You Should Share on Social Media appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

What Gmail’s Inbox App Means to Your Email Marketing

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 15:47

Google announced a new app called Inbox and it could bring some major changes to how subscribers that receive your emails in Gmail interact with them. Here’s what you need to know about how this new app could impact your email marketing.

What is Inbox?

Image courtesy of the Official Google Blog

Inbox is an app from Google that helps organize and group emails in your inbox by relevance, similar to how Gmail tabs work now. The app also has features to help stay on top of the email in your inbox. Two features that are the most newsworthy are Bundles and Highlights.

Bundles is a feature that like Gmail tabs, allows recipients to group emails into similar categories, and then set a preference. According to the Official Google Blog, “for example, all your purchase receipts or bank statements are neatly grouped together so that you can quickly review and then swipe them out of the way. You can even teach Inbox to adapt to the way you work by choosing which emails you’d like to see grouped together.”

What this could mean for your email marketing: For Gmail recipients you may have to email subscribers further out from the date of a sale or offer, or run a promotion longer to allow folks time to actually open their bundled email and act on it before a sale is over. It could also mean that people who subscribe but don’t currently open your emails may be even less likely to do so if they’ve bundled it. 

Highlights helps keep important information from emails front and center. According to Google’s blog, information “such as flight itineraries, event information, and photos and documents emailed to you by friends and family. Inbox will even display useful information from the web that wasn’t in the original email, such as the real-time status of your flights and package deliveries.”

A few other features within Inbox that can be used to manage email include Reminders, Assists and Snoozes which allow you to add your own reminders like picking up your dry cleaning or making a restaurant reservation for that big date you have coming up.

Assists work with Reminders providing pieces of information you may need to get the task done. For example, if you create a Reminder to book a reservation, Inbox will provide the restaurant’s phone number and tell you if it’s open. 

Snoozes are just like what they sound. You can snooze emails or Reminders until a later time, or until you arrive at a specific location like your office or home.

Who can get Inbox?

For now, Inbox is only available by invite-only as a separate app instead of being completely integrated into Gmail. Because of that, the effects and adoption are likely to be more gradual. 

We’re still waiting for our invitation from Google and will report more once we’ve explored Inbox first-hand. What are your reactions to the Inbox app? Share in the comments.

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© 2014, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post What Gmail’s Inbox App Means to Your Email Marketing appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

8 Easy SEO Tools Everyone Should Use

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 06:00

Search engine optimization is something you need to do to help people find your business online. To help you ace those SEO efforts, we’ve got 8 awesome tools you should use. We’ll cover both free and paid options that are efficient and easy to use, even for beginners. So let’s get our SEO tools on!

Free Tools

Who doesn’t love a free tool, especially when it also happens to be awesome? 

1. Google Analytics: The gold standard for analytics tools. Odds are, your business is already using this tool to monitor your site’s traffic, but if you’re not, it’s a great tool to start with and we have a killer guide for beginners. You can see what pages are driving organic traffic for your site, traffic numbers and tons more.  

2. Google Page Speed Insights:  A quick page load time can impact search rankings as evidenced in this post from Moz. But many businesses have no idea where to start when looking to improve their site load times. This is what makes Page Speed Insights from Google so awesome; it tells you what to fix on your website, why to fix it and how to do it for a speedier and friendlier website.

Example of Twitter’s PageSpeed Insights

3. Google Webmaster Tools: We love talking about Google Webmaster Tools, as you can see in this blog post, beginner’s guide, and video. This free tool unlocks powerful website data such as keyword data, impressions, clicks, click through rates and more. Check out our Google Webmaster Tools beginner’s guide for more in-depth info and help.

4. Google Trends: Curious about the latest buzzwords? Google Trends is the perfect tool for you. We often use this tool to make sure we’re keeping up with different industry trends. Remember when “e-mail” morphed into “email”? In this example below, Google Trends shows you the decay of “e-mail” over the years. Use this tool for keyword research to use in your blog posts, new webpages and more. 

5. Moz SEO Toolbar: This tool gives you the lowdown on the basics of any webpage on the Internet. With a quick look, you can see the Page Authority, Domain Authority and even backlink information. This is a tool most SEO experts use daily, as it gives you a glance at a site’s stats quickly.

6. Screaming Frog: This tool is more technical, but powerful. It searches a site’s links, images, scripts and more, and gives you all of this data in a nice .CSV file for you to slice and dice how you want. Find 404 errors on your website, missing meta descriptions and all sorts of useful info with the Frog!

Paid Tools

We know the best things in life are free, but sometimes you get good value for what you pay for. The following two tools, both by Moz, are some of the best around for businesses large and small. 

7. Moz: Starting at $99/month, Moz packs a lot of bang for your buck. You get keyword tracking, landing page tracking, analytic data and on page SEO suggestions. This tool is perfect for small businesses because it’s easy to use and the provides a wealth of data and information. 

8. Moz Local: For anyone looking for a nice, local SEO setup in the form of online listings (no matter how easy we make it for you), Moz Local is the perfect tool for you. It does all the local citations for you, and makes sure the data is accurate and the consistent across the board. 

There you have it! 8 easy to use SEO tools that will rock all your search engine optimization needs. If you have any tools we didn’t mention, please share in the comments!

To get more marketing tips and tools, get the VR Buzz

© 2014, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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3 Ways to Break Through the Noise at a Trade Show

Wed, 10/22/2014 - 06:00

We recently attended and exhibited at a retail trade show in Las Vegas. It was a large, multi-day event with over 14,000 attendees and tons of booths on the show floor – a daunting experience if you don’t exhibit at trade shows regularly or can’t afford a huge, flashy booth.

With that, here are three ways you and your business can break through the noise at any trade show and make sure you come home a success:

1. Personality Counts

The very nature of trade shows demands that you have personality. From the look and feel of your booth to the people who are working at it – does your booth blend in or stand out? Do you use the same cookie cutter booth for every show, or do you target your booth to the type of show you’re attending? Even though it might require more time, energy and money, targeting your booth to the type of show you’re at can really help.

For instance, if you’re at a show about visual merchandising, you want your booth to be visually captivating. If you go with a standard 10-foot-by-10-foot booth with little-to-no visuals, you might be hurting for leads no matter how compelling your product or service.

You also really want to think about who you send to work in your booth. Often this is delegated to entry-level sales folks or junior members of the team. But I challenge you to think about your end goal. What do you hope to accomplish at the trade show? Do you want more leads? Do you want potential partner deals? Your end goal will help you determine who will best deliver that result.

For example, at the show we just attended there was a locker company directly across from our booth. The guy in the booth asked people as they walked by, “Interested in lockers?” I was dying as I watched it happen, because he was breaking the cardinal rule of sales. He was asking a closed-ended question. Also, he had a pretty specific product, so not every person walking by was going to take his line. But in his defense he said, “You gotta keep trying because eventually, someone says ‘yes.’” He earned points for persistence! On the other side of our booth was a group of guys who designed booths and could manufacture just about anything. Their booth was hoppin’ all day long. And their main guy would approach folks who walked up with the question, “What do you do?” He started a conversation, made it about them and was then able to assess how the product would be a fit for the person and quickly tailor his pitch that direction. Guess whose booth got more leads?

2. Be Novel

In the sea of booths at a trade show, a lot can be said for having some novelty to attract folks to your front door. As an attendee, it’s easy to get caught in the tangle of people and not want to break away for yet another sales pitch from a desperate and bored exhibitor. Shake things up in your booth with something unexpected, fun and, yes, interactive, to get folks involved and engaged. Ditch the usual swag of free pens and stress balls and give away something memorable. The same booth with the great staff also had a 7-foot-tall gumball machine. When they talked to folks, they encouraged them to turn the crank and out would pop a mini gorilla. People ate it up.

Another example: We recently attended a show that was focused on dogs. (Lots of dog owners have small businesses that need email marketing!) We gave away dog brushes that flew off our table. People liked them so much they were offering to buy them. Nostalgia is also effective at eliciting response from a crowd. I’ve seen booths giveaway popcorn, cotton candy, cupcakes and good ol’ booze in this effort. How can you give away something cool, but also something that resonates and relates?

3. Stay Engaged

You never know what will happen even if you’re at a show that seems to miss the mark for your company, or that feels slow. Don’t fall into the trap of getting bored, doing other work or ignoring attendees. It’s easy to have happen during a multi-day show when the adrenaline and coffee run out, and the people in your booth lose their show mojo. A woman who sells vintage props had a booth next to us and it was super slow for her. She left her booth for a while and guess what? A huge client came to see her! Luckily the client waited for her (this would not usually happen), and she closed a deal on the spot. She got lucky.

I must admit, our product and service wasn’t a great fit for the show attendees, but we quickly realized it was a great fit for the other exhibitors. We talked to lots of them and ended up closing two deals during the show. Lesson? Seize the moment, stick with it and work it with everything you’ve got. Every show is different, and you never know when that next great lead or deal is going to appear. Will they stop or walk on by? That’s up to you, isn’t it?

What tips would you add to break through the noise at a trade show? Share them in the comments.

This article by VerticalResponse founder Janine Popick originally appeared on Inc.com.

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© 2014, 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 Ways to Break Through the Noise at a Trade Show appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Google Releases Penguin 3

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 12:53

Great news for small business that have been waiting for Google to update the Penguin algorithm! We’re happy to report that Google has finally started releasing Penguin 3 and will continue to roll it out over the next few weeks. This Penguin update affects about one percent of search queries in US English according to Googler Pierre Far. This update is a data refresh, and not a complete rewrite of the algorithm. The last Penguin update was released back in October 2013 and webmasters have been working hard to make sure they benefit from this most recent Google update. As a reminder, the Penguin algorithm targets low quality and spammy backlinks pointing to your site. 

If you notice unusually low traffic to your site in the upcoming weeks, you maybe have been hit by this newest release of Google Penguin. We would recommend doing a backlink audit to see if there are any lower quality links pointing to your site. You can get your most recent backlinks from Google Webmaster Tools. Once you’ve identified those links, use Google’s Disavow Tool, but a word of caution, it’s a very powerful tool. We’ve got lots of actionable tips about Google Penalties for you. 

Stay on top of all things Google with our What’s New With Google YouTube Series. This episode features talk about Google’s Penguin 3 algorithm, rankings boost to sites using HTTPS and the end of Google Page Rank toolbar. If you have any questions about Penguin 3, share them in the comments! 

 

© 2014, 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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The Dos and Don’ts of Review Sites

Tue, 10/21/2014 - 06:00

The evolution of online review sites over the past few years has been a boon to both small businesses and consumers. As a small business, review sites give you a greater online presence. Sites like Yelp, Google, Yahoo! Local, Angie’s List and a myriad of others give a small business the opportunity to shine online. For consumers, review sites give them the opportunity to research and gain insight on a product or business – whether it be a restaurant, dry cleaner, or salon – before they even step foot inside the door.

Why are review sites are so important to small businesses?

Not surprisingly, online review sites and their impact on consumer decision making continues to rise at an exponential rate. Here are a few recent stats from various consumer surveys:

  • 90% of consumers say their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews.
  • 85% of consumers use online reviews to find local businesses.
  • Restaurants are, by far, more likely to be reviewed online. However, doctors/dentists, hotels/bed & breakfasts and salons are also up there for most reviewed business types.
  • 73% of consumers say that positive customer reviews make them trust a business more.

Source: 2013 BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey and 2013 Dimensional Research survey.

Your potential customers are forming an opinion of your business before they ever even enter your store, restaurant, or visit your website. Knowing how to handle the feedback you receive on review sites is also crucial to managing your online reputation. Here are some dos and don’ts you should abide by when it comes to review sites:

 The Dos: 

  • Do, first and foremost, review your reviews, and often. See what people are saying about your products or services. Do it on a consistent basis so you can respond (when needed) in a timely manner.
  • Do actively participate with reviewers. Whether you receive positive, middle of the road, or negative reviews, when appropriate, reach out to those reviewers. Depending upon the review, you can do so by responding publicly on the site if available, send a private message or even pick up the phone.
  • Do solicit reviews wisely and carefully. Consumers are more likely trust a review of your business based on a significant number of reviews. The more, the better. If you don’t have many reviews on more popular review sites, you can simply ask customers to do so. However, several review sites warn caution with this tactic. Don’t be overly aggressive, don’t ask for 5 stars, and do not penalize people for negative reviews! Something as simple as, “Thanks have a great day. If you get a chance, I’d love to have you share your thoughts about my store on Yelp,” should suffice.

 The Don’ts:

  • Don’t freak out because you get a negative review. You can’t control what someone will write about you online. You can only control your own customer service that you provide. Typically, consumers who use review sites will read an average of 6 or more reviews before making up their mind. One bad apple may not spoil the barrel in this instance.
  • Don’t respond to a negative review when you’re angry. The last thing you’ll want to do when you read a negative review is respond back immediately to that reviewer in a defensive (or even offensive) way. Read the review, step away. When you have some perspective, do respond in a respectful tone. Users of review sites will appreciate the fact that you are reading reviews and are engaged in your business. It shows you care about what people are writing about you.
  • Don’t write reviews about yourself. It’s tempting, but don’t do it. Writing “fake” reviews and submitting them yourself is really disingenuous to the spirit of review sites an most sites can detect this faux reviews and will take them down.
  • Don’t offer bribes for good reviews. Don’t offer discounts, incentives or freebies to solicit 5 star reviews. Instead, show your customers you’re really interested in what they have to say. Identify which review sites have the most impact on your business and display those review sites’ logos in your shop or on your website. This will encourage users to leave reviews, and on the flip side, look you up as well.

Hope these tips help you in managing your online reputation on review sites. Have any other ideas that may help? Leave them in the comments below.

Get more marketing tips and advice in the weekly VR Buzz.

© 2014, 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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7 Reasons Your Business Needs an Automated Welcome Email

Mon, 10/20/2014 - 06:00

When someone signs up for your email list, it’s important to roll out the email red carpet and welcome them. Statistics show these new subscribers are most engaged within the first 48 hours. An automated welcome email (which is a type of autoresponder) can help you reach out to your new subscribers within that crucial window of time. Luckily, at the end of this month, we’ll be launching automated welcome emails in our newest version of VerticalResponse.

Why is an automated welcome email so important to have in your email tool belt? We’ve identified seven reasons why your business should take advantage of a welcome email:

1. Save time
What small business owner isn’t looking for ways to save time? We know you’re busy. With an automated welcome email, every time a new name is added to your list, your pre-made welcome email is delivered straight to their inbox. It’s that simple.

You don’t have to create and send a welcome email every time a new contact signs up, which means you’ll spend less time creating individual emails and managing your list. You create the welcome email once and it’s automatically sent to new subscribers.

2. Provide immediate value
New subscribers have high expectations. When they sign up for your emails, they expect high quality content in return. A welcome email sets the tone, instantly showing customers what kind of communication and information they’ll receive as a member of your email list. A welcome email is your time to shine. A sleek, well thought out welcome email shows subscribers your company can be counted on to deliver valuable content.

3. Tailor your welcome email with ease
Like many small businesses, your email lists may be divided into different groups. As an option, you can customize a welcome email to meet the needs of each group. For example, if your lists are divided by location (San Francisco or New York) you can create welcome emails that are tailored to a particular city or area. Each group receives a targeted look and message.

4. Make a great first impression
One of the biggest reasons to send a welcome email is to make a good first impression. A welcome email is like a digital handshake between two new people. It’s the first step to forming a relationship.

A welcome email gives you the chance to knock your first meeting out of the park. You only get one shot at a first impression, and delivering a professional email that extends a friendly greeting as soon as they sign up for your list can make your new subscriber feel welcome.

Plus, a welcome email can provide information about your company or offer a new-subscriber discount. All of these aspects add to the subscriber’s overall impression of your business.

5. Generate some buzz
Who doesn’t want to create a positive buzz around their business or product? Well, a welcome email does just that. As part of a welcome email, you can get prospective customers excited about what’s to come. Tell new subscribers why your email list will rock their world. For example, in the welcome email below Crate and Barrel tells subscribers they’ll get special offers, a look at new items, design tips and access to store events. That quick list gets subscribers pumped up about their new email relationship.

6. Take advantage of a potential sales opportunity
When a new subscriber joins your list, it means they want to know more about your product or business. Since the welcome email lands in their inbox while their curiosity is still piqued, subscribers may be more likely to make a purchase from your business. To provide a little extra incentive, consider adding a promotional deal to your welcome email.

Take a look at the email below. It not only welcomes the subscriber, but it also offers 20% off. The customer sees it as a nice gesture, and it opens up a sale opportunity for your business.

7. Increase email response rates
Every small business wants to see impressive email response rates. When you send an email, you want subscribers to open it, read it and take action. Statistics show welcome emails have impressive response rates.

The Epsilon Email Marketing Research Center says triggered emails – which include welcome emails, shopping cart reminder emails and anniversary emails – have an open rate of 46-53% and clickthrough rates between 9-11%. Other non-automated emails have an open rate of 26-32% and clickthrough rates that hover around 4 percent.

Simply put, subscribers pay attention to welcome emails.

Welcome emails are just the first of many exciting new features that we’ll be rolling out in our newest version of VerticalResponse. Stay tuned for more features to help your small business send emails with ease. VerticalResponse Classic users, you can sign up for the new VerticalResponse with a different email address than your Classic account.

© 2014, 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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