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4 Ways Your Audience Can Provide Content Ideas

Wed, 01/21/2015 - 06:00

You’re ready to write an email, social update or blog post and the blank screen taunts you. Where to get started? Ideas are often best started at the source – your audience.

It can be tricky coming up with content ideas. Plus, if you write about something that isn’t of interest to your audience, your content will likely fall flat. So, why not go to the source and ask your audience to provide content ideas?

“If you engage your audience and write about the content they want to see, they are more likely to share it and give you content ideas in the future,” says Shawn Hogendorf, founder of the online publication “Don’t be afraid to ask.”

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Send an email survey to your contacts

Wondering what motivates your audience? Sending an email survey is a quick way to gauge what is important to your audience.

“Engaging your audience is like keeping an ear to the street at all times, and this allows you to take advantage of what people are already talking about,” says Hogendorf.

There are several survey resources available online. Try SurveyMonkey or SurveyPlanet. Depending on your preference, you can use a preexisting survey template or create your own. Keep the survey short, eight to ten questions at most. Your customers won’t finish it if it’s too long. Since you’re only asking a few questions, put some thought into each question. Make sure it provides the answers you need and send it out via email.

Use the responses to generate content ideas and use statistics from your survey in your blog post. Multiple survey results throughout the year can be compiled into a new blog post.

2. Ask fans to share pictures on social media

“Photos are a huge hit. Everyone takes photos, and images are easily shared across any digital medium,” Hogendorf says.

Consider asking your audience to contribute pictures like the Animal Humane Society does. To build on its successful adoption stories, the nonprofit encourages people to share their adoption stories and photos on its Facebook page and Tumblr.

Once several submissions are shared, you can combine them all into a picture-friendly blog post, email, collage or photo album on Facebook, or share them one by one on Instagram. The possibilities are endless.

3. Leverage your online reviews

Does your business get stellar online reviews? Use existing online reviews to create blog posts and spark ideas.

For example, take a look at this testimonial post that customer-service app, Desk, put together. You can do something similar. Take a longer review that a fan left on your Yelp page and turn it into a post. You can always reach out to that fan and ask for more information about his/her experience to build a longer article.

In addition to using reviews directly in a post, you can also use reviews to generate topics. For example, if a customer raves about a new product, a remodeling project or an employee that went the extra mile, write a blog post about that topic and include some of the comments from the customer in the article.

4. Ask questions

Before you publish, send, or post content on social, your blog or in an email, finish it up with a question or call to action for your readers. After all, questions in Facebook posts get 100% more comments than standard text-bases posts. Be sure to use open-ended questions to garner more commentary.

As readers get used to commenting on your stories, you can ask readers to share content ideas. Add this simple line to the end of your blog, “Have a story idea that you would like to see on our blog? Email us at”

Rachel Brathen aka Yoga Girl has a following of 1 million on Instagram. Brathen often asks questions in her posts, like this example in which she reaches out to her fans and asks them to share their favorite cold remedies. She also promises to re-post the best remedies. The post received more than 100 comments on Facebook, and 400+ comments on Instagram.

How do you get your audience to provide content ideas? Share your responses in the box below.

Get more email, social, and content ideas by subscribing to our weekly email newsletter.

Wendy Erlien is a entrepreneur, writer, and communications consultant with a passion for helping small businesses and nonprofit organizations maximize their marketing reach.

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

The post 4 Ways Your Audience Can Provide Content Ideas appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

How to Garner Sweet Success on Instagram

Tue, 01/20/2015 - 06:00

Facebook and Twitter are no longer the bread and butter of the social media world. Instagram is quickly climbing the food chain as a social media marketing tool. No one knows this better than Fernanda Capobianco, the owner of Manhattan-based bakery, Vegan Divas.

The Brazilian owner uses Instagram on a regular basis to communicate with her followers, promote her brand, showcase her work and encourage sales.

“Instagram is very important because it gives us global recognition,” Capobianco says. “We have many local followers from NYC, but we also have a lot of followers from all over the world including Dubai, Japan and Australia.”

Using Capobianco’s Instagram feed as an example, we’ll share some of her tips to find Instagram success. You don’t need to run a bakery to learn from her Instagram knowledge, every small business owner can benefit from these helpful tips.

 Get a good picture

Instagram is all about eye candy. The images you share should be quality shots. Customers want to see that you care. Crooked, blurry photos won’t cut it.

You don’t need to call in a photographer every time you want to post something to Instagram, but you want your photos to look sharp. Here are two picture-taking tips:

  • Check the background. While the focus of your picture is usually your product or a person, the background still matters. Take a look at this picture on the Vegan Divas Instagram site. The cake is the center of the picture, but a nice wooden table makes a great background. Always check your background before snapping a picture. Break out a tablecloth or move your product to another spot to ensure the background adds to the picture.

  • Use photo apps for touch ups. You don’t have to be a pro to post great pictures, you just have to have the right tools. Here are two tools that can help you tweak your image to make it pop:
  •  PicMonkey. This tool is great for cropping, rotating, resizing and adding text to your image. It’s user-friendly and has all the basic options you’ll want to improve your image.
  • Pixlr Express. This tool does everything that PicMonkey does, but it also gives you filters to add to photos. In other words, you can soften a picture or turn it black and white.

Instagram has these other helpful photo tips to help your images pop.

Don’t just post product photos

If you only share product or service photos on Instagram, you’ll want to add some other ingredients to the mix. As with any social media channel, you want a variety of content. Every post isn’t meant to sell, Capobianco says.

“You want your feed to have a human feel,” she says. “You don’t want it to feel like a mechanical feed that’s strictly used to sell products.”

Here are a few non-promotional post ideas:

  • Post pictures of your customers and share a little something about them like this.
  • Share a video clip of your employees working like this post.
  • Share a picture from an event you attend like Capobianco does here.
  • Share pictures and videos that are connected to your industry. Magnolia Bakery shared a video that shows customers how to turn cupcake wrappers into a gift-wrapping bow.
  • Promote holidays that are relevant to your business. In the bakery world, National S’mores Day gets a shout out on Instagram.

Hashtag it up

Hashtags aren’t specific to Twitter, you should use hashtags in your Instagram posts too. Take a look at the hashtags used in the example below. These hashtags can help people find your content.

Here are a few hashtag tips:

  • Think of hashtags like keywords. What keywords would a customer use to find your particular picture? Use those words as separate hashtags just as Vegan Divas does in the example above.
  • Be specific. There are millions of pictures on Instagram so if you want your picture to show up in search results, specific hashtags are best.
  • Check other Instagram feeds in your industry for hashtag inspiration. You might stumble upon a few hashtags that you haven’t thought of.

Maximize your profile space

There isn’t a ton of text space on your Instagram profile, but you want to make efficient use of what little room you do have. Take a look at the example below and make sure your profile has the relevant information you want to communicate.

  1. Business website: A link to your business website is a must.
  2. Address. If you have a brick and mortar shop, include your location in your profile.
  3. Contact information. Include a phone number or email address so your audience can get in touch with you.
  4. A brief description. Since space is limited, take some time to craft a descriptive sentence or two about your business. Be sure to include any specialties that set your business apart.
  5. Profile picture. Post a picture of yourself or of the company logo.

For Capobianco, Instagram serves as an effective, free marketing tool that she can use to reach out to customers who might not find her through regular channels. This exposure helps elevate her business and her sales. Does it do the same for you? Tell us how Instagram helps your business in the comment section below.

Gain more social media insight by subscribing to 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 How to Garner Sweet Success on Instagram appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

5 Social Media Pitfalls Non-Profits Should Avoid

Mon, 01/19/2015 - 06:00

Marketing-savvy non-profits are posting, tweeting and sharing multimedia with the best of them. To help guide you through the ever-changing platform of social media, we’ve put together this list of pitfalls for non-profits to avoid.

Pitfall #1: Soliciting money too frequently

As a non-profit, you need to ask for support, but if you ask too often you may risk turning off donors.

Solution: Work with partners to offer donation incentives

Aside from spreading solicitations, be creative with your donation drives. Try working with a local business partner to offer a special event or an exclusive promotion that benefits both the donor and your organization.

For example, The United Way of Callaway County used Pinterest to promote its Charitable Give Back Night where a local restaurant donated a portion of its proceeds to the non-profit. Autism Speaks is using Twitter to promote 25% off a purchase for a $1 donation to the non-profit.

Pitfall #2: Not posting enough

Social media pages that aren’t updated frequently allows followers to forget. If you’re not engaging with your audience, they are less likely to respond when you need them.

Solution: Use automation tools to keep pages updated

To keep your social media pages up-to-date, consider using an automation tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to schedule your posts ahead of time (You can do this with VerticalResponse too). Try to schedule at least one post a day during the week. (We have great tips on how to handle social media automation.)

Pitfall #3: Not posting content people want to share

There’s no faster way to spread the word about your non-profit than getting people to share your posts. In fact, according to MDG Advertising, 68% of people are more likely to take the time to learn about a charity if they see a friend posting about it on social media.

Solution: Vary your content to see what gets shared

If your audience isn’t too keen on sharing your content, it’s time to shake things up. Try a variety of posts to see what your audience responds to.

National Mill Dog Rescue, for example, found that high quality memes get shared a lot on their Facebook page.

Memes that have a really great quality photo, a succinct and relevant message that truly matches the image and have an overall great graphic design get a lot of shares,” explains Michele Burchfield, the non-profits marketing and development manager. “In social media, shares are truly gold.”

Pitfall #4: Only catering to new (or existing) supporters

While attracting new supporters with shareable content is important, so is keeping your existing base. Be careful not to neglect an entire group of followers.

Solution: Vary your posts

National Mill Dog Rescue posts on Facebook 8 to 10 times a day. Burchfield says they work hard to post content that appeals to every section of their audience.

“We strive to post content that not only will engage our current supporters, but also attract new ones, and for this purpose, we need variety,” she says.

“We create a Facebook posting schedule that incorporates variety in the posts throughout the day. We also vary the types of posts with links, text, photo or video. The purpose of our posts also varies. From educational to inspirational, we work to evoke various emotions and actions.”

Here are some of our tips on posting to appeal to both existing and potential supporters.

Pitfall #5: Not inspiring your donors

If your donors don’t have a reason to donate or support your cause, they won’t.

Solution: Show donors how they can help

Help donors feel good about their contribution by showing recipients benefiting from your non-profit, like this Habitat for Humanity video.

“The most successful social media posts are those that engage supporters with a compelling story, both visually and in words,” says Burchfield. “People truly appreciate feeling a part of something, and when we include supporters in our stories we see more engagement.”

Want to learn more social media tips? Learn how non-profits are maximizing their social media efforts.

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

Send your non-profit emails 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 5 Social Media Pitfalls Non-Profits Should Avoid appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Building Engagement on Twitter is as Easy as 1-2-3

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 06:00

Twitter is a fast-moving social network that can connect you with thousands of potential customers, or people who could help spread your message. However, engagement, which is vital to your success on Twitter, doesn’t occur naturally. You have to put yourself out there, especially if you’re new to the site. Use these three tips to help build your connections and encourage engagement with others.

1. Share Other People’s Content and Tag Them

First, you want to share content that relates to your own business or industry created by other people or businesses. This can be in the form of a retweet, using social sharing icons, or simply copying and pasting a link. Then, look up the twitter handle of the content creator or business. Include that Twitter handle in your tweet, and give the author/business props for creating great content. Here’s an example in which we shared an article from Dasheroo and included the author’s Twitter handle as well:

When sharing your own content, also try including the Twitter handles of your internal content creators (but ask for permission first).

Authors or businesses of the content you’ve shared appreciate this extra effort. They may repay the favor and share your content as well, getting it in front of a whole new audience. This is also a great starting point to building a relationship with someone who could have a positive impact on your business.

2. Thank People When They Share Your Content

If someone shares or retweets your content, reply back and thank them for doing so.

In our example above, we shared a blog post written by Dasheroo. Here, Dasheroo takes our advice and thanks us back for sharing their content. This then results in a dialogue and engagement.

3. Comment on Other People/Business’s Tweets

Like yourself, everyone else is also seeking out engagement on Twitter. Lead by example and get the ball rolling by replying, asking questions, or commenting on posts you find interesting or helpful. This often piques interest, or results in a dialogue.

In the example below, Social Media Examiner posted an article on Twitter that we found handy. Instead of just retweeting the content, we commented, thanked Michael Stelzner, owner of Social Media Examiner, and he replied. Voila! Engagement.

These are just three of our favorite and easy engagement-generating Twitter tips. Have any others to add to our list? Share in the comments or reply back to us on Twitter.

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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 Building Engagement on Twitter is as Easy as 1-2-3 appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Responsive Design & How It Impacts You [VIDEO]

Fri, 01/16/2015 - 05:00

Responsive design resizes or reconfigures a web page to the screen of the device you’re using, whether it be a desktop, laptop, tablet, or phone. Why is this important? Take a look at the stats below:

  • US adults spend an average of 34 hours per month browsing the internet on their smartphones, according to a recent Nielsen report.
  • 51% of emails are now opened on mobile devises according to Litmus.
  • 70% of mobile searches lead to an action on a website within one hour according to iAcquire. If the website isn’t mobile-friendly, 40% will choose another action.

Attempting to view a website or email on your mobile phone only to have to zoom in, and scroll side-to-side is the result of a non-responsive design. This leads to frustration and, as the statistics show above, a loss of leads or potential customers.

In this 2-minute video, we discuss responsive design and demo how responsive emails look from your VerticalResponse account

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for our weekly email newsletter, The VerticalResponse Buzz. 

© 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 Responsive Design & How It Impacts You [VIDEO] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Why You Should be Using Product Listing Ads Right Now

Thu, 01/15/2015 - 06:00

Comparison shopping sites like PriceGrabberNextag, and search engines like Google and Bing allow people to research, compare, and check the availability of products all at once. These sites are massive e-commerce aggregates, allowing customers to have access to all types of products from virtually anywhere. As an online retailer, this is exactly why you should be using Product Listing Ads – an effective way to bring your storefront to potential customers’ desktops and mobile devices.

How do they work work? 

A consumer goes to a shopping comparison site or search engine and searches for products by category, type, or by a specific product. As an advertiser, you bid for a chance to to be shown in that search query. Similar to paid search, if the consumer clicks on your ad amongst other products, you pay for that click. That click then results in a visit to your website and possibly a purchase.

The next time that same consumer is looking to buy the same or a similar product, they may bypass the whole search process and go directly to your website, resulting in a new customer that may not have found you otherwise.

What are the benefits?

  1. Comparison and shopping sites connect customers who are looking for products like yours with your website.
  2. If you’re a smaller retailer or a relatively new or unknown brand, this can help bring more traffic and customers to your website. It’s also good if you don’t have high organic or PPC (Pay-Per-Click) rankings.
  3. More visibility. You don’t have to wait for customers to come into your store or find your website on their own.
  4. You can show image ads specifically for what consumers are looking for versus a text PPC ad or an online display ad that may be more general.

How do you set them up?

If you’re an online retailer or e-commerce site, chances are you’re already using an e-commerce solution like Volusion or Shopify to manage your online store and inventory. If you haven’t procured one yet, that would be your first step. Next, you want to set up your account with all your product and inventory information like product images, descriptions, SKUs, product categories, etc. Google requires you to also set up a Google Merchant account before you’re able to create Google Shopping Campaigns. The final piece of the puzzle is a getting a data feed management tool to help manage all the different feeds that go into each of these different shopping engines.

Each engine has their own unique shopping autonomy and categories that require you to manually manipulate your data feeds for each engine. A quick Google search would yield the different requirements for each platform. Properly setting it up from the beginning will save you a lot of effort in the long run and will help to improve the overall profitability of your campaigns. Do the research to see what each engine requires, and use a data feed solution like GoDataFeed to help manage all your feeds.

After you’ve tailored all your feeds for each engine, you’ll have to set bids for your products. For Google, these bids will usually mirror what you might pay for similar keywords within paid search. For the shopping engines, bidding depends on competition and the amount of traffic so starting out will be some what of an experimentation. It helps to do some research for best practices and tips for the particular sites your are interested in.

More and more people are using online channels to do their research and shopping. As a retailer, whether strictly online or brick and mortar, being able to have your products shown to people who are actively looking for products you sell is invaluable. Listing your products on comparison and shopping engines are a great way to gain visibility and increase traffic to your site which will hopefully translate into sales. We recommend starting with Google Shopping first, as that’s where you’ll find most users, and it’s easier to get started if you are already using Google Adwords and Google Display Network for your marketing.

Before committing to the initial time investment, make sure the additional tools needed aren’t cost prohibitive. If you’re an online retailer, you’re most likely already using an e-commerce solution to run your online store so the missing piece is the data feed management tool. Like any other marketing initiative, consider your fixed costs as well as the costs to run the marketing campaigns within the engines and see if it makes sense for your business.

Are you using Product Listing Ads for your business? Tell us what you think of them 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 Why You Should be Using Product Listing Ads Right Now appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Tips to Refresh Your Email Marketing Strategy

Wed, 01/14/2015 - 06:00

Email marketing continues to reign supreme when it comes to reaching consumers. When compared to Facebook and Twitter marketing, it’s nearly 40 times more useful for acquiring customers. To help refresh your email marketing strategy this year, we’ve outlined four tips to make sure you’re on the right track.

1. Make emails mobile friendly

Mobile is the preferred method for reading emails. According to a study from Mobile Ink, 65% of email is being opened on mobile devices. And that number continues to rise as more people purchase smartphones. From 2013 to 2014, the amount of smartphones shipped worldwide increased by 23.8 percent. By 2018, 1.8 billion smartphones will be used around the globe.

In a perfect world, your emails will pique customers’ interest when they’re on the go, and they will make an immediate purchase or do so when they get to their laptop or desktop. 

How to implement: Your emails need to be use responsive design, which means they adjust to the screen size of any device. If you’re using templates in the latest version of VerticalResponse, your emails are automatically responsive, and you don’t need to do a thing. If not, you may want to hire a designer, or it might be time to use an email service provider that provides responsive templates.

Along with responsive design, we recommend using a serif font (those with legs or tails) for your headlines and sans serif fonts for any other text. These are easiest to read on a computer screen. Use font sizes between 12-22pt to make sure your email is readable. Headlines can be 22pt, additional font in the email can be 12 pt or more.

2. Ask your audience what they want to read or see

To get a grasp on what content your audience wants to receive, you have to ask. You can survey them, and then use the results to dictate the kind of content you create. Ask about what kind of content appeals to them, what products or services they’re interested in. You can also ask how often they want to receive email from your business. 

How to implement: There are many free survey products you can use to get a grasp of what your audience wants. For example, there’s SurveyMonkey, KwikSurveys, and SurveyPlanet, just to name a few.

Surveys are easy to create with these DIY sites. Just remember to keep your survey short, maybe 5-7 questions so you don’t lose your audience. Once you complete the survey, include a link to it in an email.

3. Measure results

An email marketing strategy is never complete without some form of measurement. You have to know how you did to improve upon your efforts the next time around.

“Create content that suits your audience but also spend time measuring it,” says Jasmine Sandler, an independent digital marketing expert. “You need to measure it as much as you create it.”

How to implement: Here’s a quick list of metrics to watch along with the average rates you should aim for.

  • Conversion rate: How many people clicked that call-to-action link you included in your email? How many downloaded that how-to guide you’re advertising? Did anyone make a purchase from the last email you sent? The average conversion rate is five to 10 percent.
  • Bounce rate: How many emails that you sent were undeliverable? The average bounce rate, depending on your industry, is between eight and 12 percent.
  • Open rate: How many of the emails were actually opened? The average open rate for brand emails is 18 to 25 percent.
  • Unsubscribe rate: How many people clicked “unsubscribe” at the bottom of the email? The average unsubscribe rate is .25 percent.

Note: All these metrics can vary based on your industry, your list and your mailing practices. Need more help gauging your metrics? Check out this previous post.

4. Email your blog posts, videos and images

You put a lot of effort and energy into your blog posts, videos, or images. You should include this content in your emails.

“If you’re wise, you can leverage other content that you’re spending money and time creating,” says Sandler. “You could send out a list of the hottest articles of the week or a wrap up.”

Aside from the fact that you’re going to get more eyes to see your content, you can also increase your website traffic.

Look at Carol Tice, who runs the Make a Living Writing blog for freelance writers. The entrepreneur, who boasts 12,000 subscribers to her blog, sends out sections of it to her readers and prompts them to “read more” on her website. VerticalResponse does this successfully with our weekly VR Buzz newsletter. 

How to implement: Choose content, images or videos that have already received a lot of hits, likes or attention. It’s a good indication that your readers enjoyed them. Don’t include an entire article in your emails; include only a teaser, and then link to the rest of the article on your website or blog.

There are many factors that go into a successful email campaign. As long as you plan ahead, and are willing to look back at your work to see what you can improve, you will be on your way to a better email marketing strategy.

Get six more ideas in our free guide, 6 Ideas to Refresh Your Email Marketing. Ready to get started? Send your emails, newsletters and offers for free with VerticalResponse. 

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

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

The post 4 Tips to Refresh Your Email Marketing Strategy appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Top 5 Affordable Tools to Make Infographics in a Snap

Tue, 01/13/2015 - 06:00

What makes infographics so popular? Jennifer Gregory, a content marketing writer and blogger, says that infographics have become more prominent because, “Each of us learns differently. A lot of people are visual learners. Seeing the visual illustration of a concept is useful for a large percentage of people.”

Plus, Infographics are 30 times more likely to be read than a normal text article, according to HubSpot

To effectively produce an infographic, large companies turn to their creative team, but small businesses might not have the same resources. Thankfully, there are a number of sites that can help you create infographics quickly and on a budget. We’ve put together a list of the top five:

1. Piktochart

Piktochart comes complete with pre-programmed themes, more than 1,000 images to choose from and the ability to share your completed infographic. You can try is out with a free package, where you’ll be able to use the templates and 20 uploaded images, or pay up to $29 a month to receive the full benefits, which include icons, privacy controls and 200 uploaded images.

2. Canva 

Canva offers a free, simple to use platform that contains hundreds of fonts and millions of images to incorporate into an infographic. Premium images are only $1 each, and the photos can be edited right within the program. You can share and edit your infographics with coworkers at any point in the creation process.

3. Venngage

Like Canva and Piktochart, you get a limited number of free features on Venngage like themes, templates, charts and icons. The themes include reports, presentations and posters. Images from the web or your own computer can be uploaded into the infographic as well. Here’s a look at a few of the templates you can use in Venngage:

4. Visme

Visme, which is trusted by brands like Microsoft and Symantec, allows businesses to create infographics with a plethora of images and templates. When tapping into the free version, you can make up to three projects, are given 100 MB of storage space and can publish or download infographics as JPGs.

For $5 per month, you gain access to all charts and infograph widgets, premium support and 250 megs of storage.

Here’s what the inside of the Visme editor looks like:

5. Sprites

Want to create an interactive infographic? Try turning your infographic into a video with Sprites. The infographics themselves are fully scalable and ready for any device including iPhones and iPads, and users can choose from a number of themes and images for free. If you pay $6 per month, you will receive Google Analytics integration, the ability to upload custom themes and password protection on any infographics created.

Want to see what an infographic looks like as a video? Check out this example.

No matter which website you try, keep in mind that a good infographic serves the same purpose as a blog post, photo or newsletter. “When you create an infographic, it’s really important to approach it the same as you would an article,”says Gregory. “It has to tell a story in an interesting way, both visually and contextually.” 

We recently put together some of our favorite marketing infographics of 2014. Check them out.

Have you used any of these tools to create infographics? If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below.

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

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

The post Top 5 Affordable Tools to Make Infographics in a Snap appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

The 3 Design Elements Every Memorable Logo Needs

Fri, 01/09/2015 - 06:00

What kind of statement does your logo make? Is it colorful, clean, and/or creative? Does it ignite enthusiasm, relay power, or exude spirituality? A recent study and infographic created by our parent company Deluxe reveals the impact your logo design makes. Plus, they include the three design elements every memorable logo needs. Discover design tips, the psychology behind design elements such as color, and more below.

Interesting findings from the survey/study include:

  • 80% of people surveyed say color increases brand retention
  • 37% of Fortune 500 brands use the color blue in their logo
  • 21% of Forbe’s “Most Valuable Brands” use Helvetica font

What color is your logo, and do you agree with the findings above? Let us know in the comments. 

GIve your business logo a lift with our logo design service

© 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 3 Design Elements Every Memorable Logo Needs appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

Pinterest Releases Promoted Pins to All

Fri, 01/09/2015 - 06:00

Small businesses now have new social media advertising opportunities to try out in the New Year. Pinterest recently announced that they’ve released their successful Promoted Pin functionality to every U.S.-business as of January 1, 2015.

Promoted Pins were launched 8 months ago and tested in beta for particular brand advertisers. Pinterest found that while in beta, the Promoted Pins performed just as well, if not sometimes better than organic pins, achieving a 30% bump in earned media (free impressions) for businesses. They found that Promoted Pins also succeed for a wide array of industries, and perform long after a campaign ends (because, as they stated, Pins are evergreen and last forever).

In addition, Pinterest is also rolling out Pinstitute, “a new program for businesses to learn how to connect with Pinners and see an even greater return from Pinterest.” It aims to educate businesses about advertising options and is offering online workshops, tools, and webinars specifically for small businesses.

Here are more specifics regarding Promoted Pins:

What’s a Promoted Pin?

Promoted Pins are similar to promoted posts on Facebook, or promoted tweets on Twitter. The pins look like organic content, but are paid ads. Take a look at the example below from Pinterest. The pin with the shot of a lantern is the Promoted Pin.

It looks like any other pin, right? That’s the whole idea. Pinterest wants these promotional posts to blend in with the rest of its content. The only difference is that on the very bottom of the pin it says, “Promoted Pin.”

Why should you use Prompted Pins?

Promoted Pins are the new wave of social media advertising. By using this new program, your pins are put in front of a bigger audience than the organic audience you’ve cultivated. As more people are introduced to your products and business, you can increase your following and (hopefully) your sales.

Promoted Pins take your audience back to your website. That’s an automatic boost in website traffic. It’s a domino effect. More people see your pin, visit your site, learn about your business and buy your product or service.

What kind of success can you expect?

Pinterest rolled out the Promoted Pin program in September of 2013. A few businesses were selected to test it out. Big names like Kraft and General Mills have used Promoted Pins for close to a year and have had success. Since Pinterest has tested this program with some heavy hitters, it shouldn’t come with a lot of bugs.

On average, Promoted Pins are shared eleven times, which can boost the number of people who see your pin by 30 percent. That could be a big windfall for small businesses looking to boost their exposure and sales through social advertising.

Where do you sign up?

Ready to dive into the Promoted Pin pool? You can’t just sign into your Pinterest business account and get started. At least, not yet. Pinterest is asking all interested business owners to sign up for the service on its website. Pinterest will contact you with further details.

How does it work?

Once Pinterest gives your site the go-ahead, you’ll select a pin that you want to promote. Through a series of screen prompts, you’ll enter keywords to help your pin show up in search results. You’ll also define your audience by gender, location (city or regional area), language and device. You’ll set a start and end date, along with a budget.

Of course, there are things you can’t promote. Pinterest has a set of rules on its website that you’ll want to check out.

Do you plan to use Promoted Pins? If so, why? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.

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

The post Pinterest Releases Promoted Pins to All appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

4 Social Posts That Can Captivate Any Audience

Thu, 01/08/2015 - 06:00

Social media posts might be short and sweet, but you need to go beyond the basic promotional message to standout in the jungle of posts, tweets and pins.

When it comes to being creative and standing out, wedding photographers JoAnne and Jason Marino have the market cornered. One look at their marketing photo for their business, Imagine Photography, proves it.

This dynamic husband and wife duo are known for their unique brand of photography and it spills into their social media marketing.

We could all use a little creative inspiration when it comes to social media. To go beyond the “Look, we’re having a sale!” post, we asked the duo, who run a small business just like you, to give us four social media posts that go beyond generic promotional messages.

1. Behind-the-scenes pictures

Don’t just talk about what your company sells on social media, show its personality. Take a behind-the-scenes photo once in a while and share it. Facebook photos generate 53% more likes than the average post, so keep a camera handy to snap a quick photo of the day’s events.

Whether that’s a shot of you packing boxes, donating to a local charity or hanging out with your clients like the Marino’s in the post below, it’s great to show the “human” side of your business.

“We do this as it not only gives clients a look at us behind the scenes, but it also shows that we aren’t just a company or a name, but fun people just like them,” says JoAnne and Jason Marino.

2. Knowledge

As a small business, you are an expert in your field. You have amassed a certain amount of knowledge and skill to get you where you are today. Why not share some of that knowledge with your social media audience?

Photographers can post a picture and explain how they took it, the lenses they used, the speed aperture, and filters.  Online retailers can share a blog post about the little-known demands of an internet-based business and a non-profit can offer deductible donation tips.

The Marino’s say these posts solidify your authority in the field to both clients and colleagues.

3. Real moments

Social media gives you the opportunity to share what the Marino’s refer to as “real moments.” By sharing a picture, quote or video that connects on an emotional level rather than a sales level, you’ll attract more viewers.

On the Imagine Photography Pinterest page, for example, this shot of a couple isn’t a sales push for the company, it’s a moment that others can relate to.

Try to share similar posts that evoke an emotion. For instance, non-profits can share photos or an article or about a family it recently helped, an auto mechanic can share a picture of himself covered in grease, working late on a customer’s car. Any image, video or story that your audience can make a connection with will work.

4. Social media love

When you team up with another business or organization, be sure to talk about the partnership or project on social media and tag each other.

When the Marino’s shoot at various wedding venues, they always include the business in their posts. Take a look at the example below.

Let’s say your business is working with a new website designer, mention the new plans on your social sites and give the designer a shout out. When your non-profit gets a big donation from a local business, head to your social channels to share the news and be sure to include the business in a thank you post.

By sharing these posts, you not only boost your exposure, but you also build a rapport with other brands. It’s a win-win.

By using these four ideas you can help increase your brand awareness, website traffic and sales. That’s what these posts do for the Marinos.

“Social media gives us an outlet to push content to a wide range of people that wouldn’t necessarily see our website. The shares, comments, likes, pins, repins and retweets we get on social media really draw people to our site to dig deeper into who we are which leads to more clients.”

Aside from promotional posts, what kinds of social posts work best for your business? Share in the comment section below.

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

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Survey Reveals The Best Tone of Voice to Take with Customers

Wed, 01/07/2015 - 06:00

Have you ever read an email, Facebook message or a tweet and had a hard time interpreting the tone? It can be tricky to figure out the attitude behind a digital message. 

Tone is especially important for businesses that use email or social media to offer customer support. Customer support emails and messages come in many forms. Some small businesses send emails to communicate order related activities like shipping delays or overbooked services. Some use email or respond to messages on social media to troubleshoot problems and offer support or solutions.

As a small business, you have to choose your words and punctuation wisely to set the right tone. To help you craft emails with tone in mind, Software Advice, a company that helps small business owners find the right software, conducted a survey on this topic.

“We were looking to help customer service professionals understand the impact of written tone in email,” says Jay Ivey, market research associate with Software Advice.

The survey offers some great insight to help small business owners handle online customer service. With Ivey’s help, we breakdown the data and offer tips you can implement.

Casual or formal?

When offering customer support, do customers prefer a casual or formal tone? According to the study, 65% of customers prefer a casual tone to a formal one. This held true over a wide range of ages.

Ivey suggests using friendly, personable language in neutral situations. Taking a casual tone may help customers see your business as more personable, which can improve the relationship you have with your audience.

What’s casual and what’s too casual?

So what exactly does casual mean, are there any specific elements that go too far such as an emoticon (smiley face)?

Software Advice asked participants if emoticons, colloquial words or exclamation points were too casual. For the most part, participants are okay with casual email elements, with 49% giving all of these elements a green light. Here’s a breakdown of the results:

Local San Francisco startup/online florist, BloomThat is known for their excellent online customer service and friendly tone of voice. Check out their Twitter feed to get an idea as to how they handle customer service inquiries or complaints – Usually with a digital smile!

Tone should depend on the situation

While most customers want to keep their email conversation light and casual, it’s not appropriate for all situations. Your tone will impact your customer’s satisfaction, so it’s important to match your tone to the news that you’re about to deliver.

According to the survey, if you need to deny a claim and do so with an overly casual tone, 78% of participants say it will negatively impact customer satisfaction.

On the other hand, if you grant a claim or request using an overly formal tone, 65% of participants say it will negatively impact customer satisfaction.

Take a look at the pie charts below to see how your tone in these two situations can impact satisfaction.

“Always strive to understand your customers’ likely emotional state,” Ivey says.  “Adapt your word choice and tone accordingly. For instance, be especially judicious about using an informal tone in potentially sensitive situations, such as denying a refund.”

Again, it’s about finding a balance between casual and professional.

The point of a customer service is to listen and offer solutions. The best way to do that is by creating “humanized” messages. Customers want to know that your business cares about them and there’s a person listening to them on the other end. The study shows that you should always consider their feelings and create support emails that offer a casual yet professional tone.

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

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6 Design Tips to Make Your Email Newsletter Visually Appealing

Tue, 01/06/2015 - 10:30

Many businesses rely on email newsletters to build customer relationships and keep their business top of mind with their audience. This powerful email tool has a lot of benefits, which is why small businesses like The Boxing Club work to ensure their newsletter design is visually appealing.

“I think the most important aspect of a newsletter is that it’s visual and engaging,” says Cassandra Velez with The Boxing Club. The fitness club in San Diego sends a monthly newsletter to current and prospective members.

With the help of Velez, we’ve created a list of six actionable design tips to make your email newsletter visually appealing. So let’s get started.

1. Create a header

Your newsletter needs a header. It’s the equivalent of a newspaper’s name. It sits at the very top of your newsletter and usually includes the title of your newsletter, company name and logo.

You can use online DIY tools to help you create your header. Check out Share As Image or Pixlr. With these programs, you don’t need any graphic experience to create and save graphics to your computer. Simply create your header once, and use it again and again.

Here are a couple of examples:

2. Let your logo dictate color scheme

To be visually appealing, your newsletter needs a color scheme. Since your logo is part of your header, consider using those colors throughout your email newsletter as font colors or borders.

3. Stick to standard fonts

When selecting fonts for your newsletter, the main priority is legibility. Stick with basic fonts like Times New Roman and Arial. You don’t want to use too many fonts either. Pick one or two fonts for the entire newsletter.

4. Use subheadings

Your newsletter should have several different pieces of content that are broken up by subheadings. It should look a lot like a newspaper. The subheadings should be in one of the clear fonts that you selected. The size of the subheadings should be smaller than what’s used in your header, but larger than the text you use for articles.

5. Stack content

If you’re using a newsletter template through an email service provider like VerticalResponse, you’ll be able to select a layout and add content to it. When it comes to layout, you want to stack content or section it off in blocks.

Here’s are two examples from Behance and Format:

6. Use pictures

A well-designed email will have a good balance of text and images. When a recipient opens your email, they are instantly drawn to images. By adding a few pictures, you pull the reader in while enhancing the text at the same time.

When you create your next newsletter, add pictures that are easy to snap with your digital camera. For example, take a picture of an employee that you plan to highlight or grab a shot of your newest product to include in the next edition.

Of course, some businesses don’t have a lot of “photo-worthy” opportunities. An online magazine that sells monthly subscriptions, for example, might not have a lot to take pictures of. If you’re in the same position, use simple graphics, or consider buying stock images from sites like iStock to incorporate into your newsletter. We use stock images on our blog and in our weekly newsletter, the VR Buzz.

Overall, you want a email newsletter that’s attention grabbing. It should have a clean, organized layout that makes it easy for the reader to digest all of the content. These tips are meant to spruce up your newsletter, increase readability and ultimately create an email newsletter that your audience looks forward to.

Know of a nicely designed email newsletter? Share it with us in the comments.

Create your own visually stunning email newsletters 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.

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4 Aspects Every Outstanding Product Announcement Needs

Mon, 01/05/2015 - 09:20

Email is a fantastic way to announce a new product or service your business is offering. The key to getting your audience excited about your latest business offering is by answering these four questions in your next product announcement email:

  1. What is is?
  2. Why should I care?
  3. What’s included?
  4. How do I get it?

Tell them what it is: 

Get to the point. Let your audience know exactly why you’re emailing them, and the product or service you have available.

For example: “ABC Yoga Studio is happy to announce a new Vinyasa class” or “Our latest collection now available at XYZ Clothing Store.”

Be simple and direct in letting your audience know what is new. Use your brief, short and direct statement as your email headline or even your subject line. Within your email, you should also include an image of the new product or a picture that represents your new service. Yes, it’s really true that a picture is worth a thousand words, and that’s one thousand less words you need to write to help sell your new product!

Let them know why they should care: 

In your email, tell your audience why they should spend time caring about your message. Tell them directly and succinctly what the benefits are to your new product or service that would directly impact them. Make it relatable to a problem they are trying to solve.

In our yoga studio example, you could say something such as, “Our new Vinyasa class is perfect for students looking for more movement and flow between poses. It’s great for strengthening the body and mind.” Clearly articulating the benefits of your new product or service can pique the interest of customers.

Tell them what’s included:

The goal of a product announcement email is to get your readers interested enough to click on your call to action. You don’t need to include a laundry list of every single item that’s included in your new product. However, you should include the main features that would be of interest.

In our clothing store example, you could say something like, “Our latest collection inspired by the early ‘70s includes Jane bags, jumpsuits, suede skirts and more. All of our clothing is made with our promise of quality.”

A simple list of the key features of a new product or service will help keep your email focused. If you’re offering a special discount or promotion to introduce the product, that should also be very prominent in your email. For example: “For a limited time only, save 15% off any item in our new collection.”

Tell them how to get it: 

Make it very clear what your email recipient needs to do to get your new product or service. If you’re selling the product or service online, a clear “Shop Now” button works. If you want to drive people to the website to get more details, try “Learn More.” If you want to drive users to call or visit, make your phone number or your physical address stand out in the email.

We have a handy call to action button generator for your emails.

Here’s a great product announcement email from Picjumbo. This email includes all four pieces of information that should be in an announcement email. It has a strong headline telling people what’s new. The sub headline tells the recipient how this new product can benefit them. The body copy provides a little more detail as to what is included in the new plugin and highlights their introductory price. Plus it has a big call to action button that reinforces their offer.  

Using these four must-include items in your next product announcement email will give your customers a better understanding of your new product or service, and will hopefully lead them them to click, buy, call or stop in.  

Send your next product announcement email 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.

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SEO Tips for 2015

Fri, 01/02/2015 - 09:24

Get your business found by search engines and potential customers in the new year. In this two minute video, our Search Engine Optimization manager, Chipper, provides SEO tips for the New Year, including the importance of mobile, and search engines such as Bing and Yahoo!

Get more marketing tips and tactics by subscribing to our weekly blog updates.

© 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 SEO Tips for 2015 appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

2014′s Updates & New Features + What’s to Come in 2015

Thu, 01/01/2015 - 06:00

We released a new version of our email marketing product back in March, and throughout the year we continued to release new features to make it better based on your feedback. Here’s an overview of some of the features we added this year, and a look at what’s to come in 2015.

Note: Features in this post are available in the newest version of VerticalResponse only. 

New Features Added in 2014

1. Quick Lists

After you’ve sent an email through VerticalResponse, you can easily create a new lists including people who opened your email, those who didn’t, and/or people who clicked on links in the email, all with a simple click of a button. We organize these new lists with your existing lists. These new lists allow you to quickly send targeted messages to people who didn’t open your message, and allows you to to send more info to people who clicked certain links.

2. Detailed Reporting

We also added more detailed reporting, allowing you to see which email addresses opened and clicked your email, as well as which ones bounced or unsubscribed.

Read all about quick lists and detailed reporting in our post here

3. Hosted & Embeddable Sign Up Forms 

Sign up forms allow you to easily collect high-quality, opted-in email addresses for your mailing list(s). We released both web hosted sign up forms, which we host for you on a landing page, as well as embeddable sign up forms, which you can place directly on your website or blog.

Web hosted sign up forms are responsive (the design adjusts to a variety of screen sizes), and some match similar email template themes found in your account. They also include thank you pages, which appear after someone enters his/her email address in your sign up form. (Psst… This is a great place to tell your new subscribers when then can expect to hear from you!)

Read more about the sign up forms feature here

4. Image Editing 

We added a new image editing tool that allows you to crop, resize, and give your photos, logos, or graphics extra polish and pizzazz.

5. Pay as You Go

In addition to our subscriptions, we implemented the “pay as you go” payment option, which offers flexibility. You can buy and use email credits only when you need them, no contract, subscription, or long-term commitment necessary.

6. Autoresponder Welcome Emails

We launched autoresponder welcome emails, which email immediately or automatically after someone subscribes to your email list. Sending an automatic welcome email helps keep new subscribers engaged, interested in your business, and with the right messaging, will encourage them to become a customer.  

Check out the 7 Reasons Your Business Needs a Welcome Email.

New Integrations for 2015

New Salesforce app – We currently have an integration with Salesforce for our classic product. In 2015, we’ll be creating a new Salesforce app for our latest email marketing product. New functionality will include easy contact synching between Salesforce and VerticalResponse, automatic email stats updates, and quick list creation, plus an entirely new look and feel.

Wix – Almost 60,000,000 users create and manage their websites with Wix. We’re building an application that easily includes an email sign up form to your Wix built website. In just a couple of clicks you can easily add a sign up form and start growing your email list. You’ll be able to match the form to the template and colors you already have, create a thank you message, and all the sign ups will go right to your VerticalResponse account.

New Features for 2015

Timed Autoresponder Emails – Our next autoresponder feature will be timed-based. These autoresponders are commonly known as drip emails, or drip campaigns. They allow you to set up and schedule a series or campaign of automatic emails based on a timing sequence you determine. Timed emails are great for a series of instructions, for an onboarding process, for product or service tips for new clients, promotions, events, etc.

List Management – We’ll be adding the ability to segment, sort and search within your email lists. We’ll also include segmentation suggestions or recommendations that can be successful for your business.

We’ve enjoyed hearing your feedback, and we’re excited for our features and integrations coming in the next few months – They’ll make our system easier for you to use, which gives you more time to run your business. We still several more features coming in 2015, so stay tuned. What’s on your wish list? Share with us the comments. 

Ready to get started? Send emails, autoresponder welcome emails, newsletters, offers and invitations for 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.

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The 14 Best Marketing Infographics of 2014

Wed, 12/31/2014 - 06:01

Everyone loves a good infographic. They combine visually attractive design with useful tips, fascinating statistics, and other information that’s actionable and easy to digest. What’s more, they’re tailor-made to be shared, forwarded, tweeted and pinned! With 2014 nearly over and 2015 almost here, we’re turning back the clock to take another look at some of the best marketing infographics of 2014:


The 6 Elements of a Powerful Blog Post; Quicksprout

Email Marketing:

Email Client Market Share; Litmus

State of Email Marketing 2014: Mobile vs. Desktop; Attractivo

The Dos & Don’ts of Email Delivery; VerticalResponse

“Hot” Marketing:

Trending Types of Marketing You Should Have Tried Months Ago; Sideqik


Future of Retail Study 2014; Walker Sands

Social Media:

Why Nonprofits Need a Social Media Strategy; Winspire

Snapchat for Brands; The Website Marketing Group

30 Reasons Why Pinterest Will Rule Social Media in 2014; Omnicore

The Psychology of Twitter; eLearners

How to Market a Business on Facebook; Wyzowl

Social Media Cheatsheet; Womanhood

Search Engine Optimization aka SEO

What SEO Used to Be vs. What SEO Is Now; Quicksprout

Toronto SEO 2014 Trends; Implode Media

Have any favorite infographics of your own from this year? Share in the comments. 

Want more industry tips and info? Subscribe to our weekly email newsletter.

© 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 The 14 Best Marketing Infographics of 2014 appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.

SEO’s Biggest Changes in 2014 – What Went Down?

Tue, 12/30/2014 - 06:00

SEO is an ever-changing industry and 2014 was no exception. Some of the biggest SEO happenings went down in 2014, so let’s review!

Google’s Big Algorithm Updates

Both of Google’s big algorithms, Panda and Penguin, got major updates in 2014 and both are moving to rolling updates. This means that in the future, there will be no release date for the algorithms, instead they will constantly roll out.

  • Panda 4: In May of 2014, Google updated the Panda algorithm. This was the fourth major update to the content focused algorithm. Google also announced that the data refreshing would be on-going and there wouldn’t be huge announcements for every update.
  • Penguin 3: After more than a year of no updates, Google finally updated the link based Penguin algorithm in October. This update was a long time coming and very much needed for webmasters that had done lots of hard work cleaning up their backlinks.

Search Market Share Changes  

  • Firefox drops Google for Yahoo: It was big news when Firefox opted to make Yahoo! the default search engine for the next few years. This change immediately took a decent size chunk out of Google’s market share. Yahoo! now has about 30% of the search engine market. **Don’t forget that Yahoo! uses Bing’s data for it’s search results.
  • Facebook drops Bing: The social network giant dropped Bing from within their search results. Previously Facebook would allow you to search on the web (using Bing) as well as within Facebook.  Facebook recently released the ability to search from your past posts sparking rumors they may be going after some of Google’s search share in the future.

Guest Blogging Sorta Died

Matt Cutts’ declared guest blogging (for SEO) dead earlier this year, which was one of the bigger stories in the industry. Whether you are against it or not, if it is spoken by Cutts it becomes Google law. We crafted a post of some ideas you can do instead.

Link Networks Busted Worldwide

Even in Matt Cutts’ absence, his webspam team works very hard to combat spam and link networks, busting link networks across the globe.

We’ve consolidated the SEO year in review in an action-packed video here. How did all these SEO changes affect your business in 2014? Was it positive or negative? Share 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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6 Tips to Whip Your Subject Lines into Shape for 2015

Mon, 12/29/2014 - 06:00

It’s almost a New Year and that means the inevitable New Year’s resolutions. One of the most common resolutions is getting into shape. We’re here to act as your personal email trainer and help you chisel your subject lines into lean, mean open inducing machines. 

Here are some tips to whip your subject lines into shape this year:

1. Trim the excess

Subject lines should be concise and punchy. Many people check their email on their phones, which means longer subject lines can be cut off. As we mentioned in “Successful Subject Lines Deconstructed,” most email programs limit the subject line to around 50 characters. If your subject line is too long or too wordy, trim it down.

2. Avoid fatigue

When you start a new workout regime, you want to mix it up with new things to avoid fatigue. When you’re creating stand out subject lines you also want to stay away from overused marketing terms.

Words like “money,” “deal,” “sign-up” and “gift” are used in subject lines often, however these cliché words may turn off your recipients.

We’ve got a list of “20 Powerful Marketing Words & Phrases That Sell or Repel” that can help you too.

3. Strengthen your marketing muscles

We’ve covered marketing words to avoid, so let’s talk about marketing words you should use. Think about emotions. People want to be in on something new, but they also want a great deal. That’s why power words like “new” and “sneak peek” and “off” (as in $100 off your first dental exam) can work well.

Check out our post, “Psst! Want to Write Irresistible Subject Lines?” to learn the power of negative and positive emotional response subject lines.

4. Motivate with urgent calls to action

Everyone needs motivation. When it comes to subject lines, create a sense of urgency. Tell your customers what you want them to do with a call to action.

For example, “Only 4 spots left for the cooking class! Reserve yours today!” or “Call today to get your sprinkler deal before temps drop!” This sense of urgency tells your recipient what your email is about and what immediate action they should take.

5. Mix up your routine

Have you hit a marketing plateau in terms of open rates? Try something different each time you send and then check your email analytics. Here are a few ideas to experiment with:

  1. Pique their curiosity. Try a joke or a can’t-resist deal in your subject line.
  2. Be ironic. Ryan Hughes, co-owner of Port Crossfit, spotted an article that fit his business, so he shared it with his clients. The article, “The Top 5 Ways to Gain a TON of Holiday Weight” made for the perfect segue into his call to action in the body of his email: “Today is the last day to sign up for our New Year Transformation Challenge at the early bird rate. You will have until 12 p.m. tomorrow to sign up for just $99 and then it will go up to $149. So what are you waiting for? Click here to sign up.”
  3. Make recipients feel good about themselves. Say thanks or promote a cause in your subject line. For example, a non-profit could thank supporters for recent donations.
  4. Give them an incentive. Offer deals to customers if they refer a friend or share your content on social media.
  5. Personalize it. For example, an auto repair shop could send out a reminder email with this subject line: “Jessica’s car is thirsty for its 3,000-mile oil change.”

6. Get a spotter

Just as you have a partner at the gym, get an email partner. Have a second set of eyes review your email before it goes out. Still, mistakes happen. If you accidentally send the wrong discount, date or even the wrong name, don’t worry. Follow our advice and make a correction. Your subject line can say, ” Oops – We made a mistake. Please accept this coupon.”  

Once you get your subject lines in shape, it’s only a question of maintaining a steady pace of creativity. For more extensive personal training, check out our blog for additional tips.

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

Send emails with strong subject lines by using 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.

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Image File Cheat Sheet: When to Use JPEG, GIF, & PNG

Fri, 12/26/2014 - 06:00

When it comes to formatting your images, is there really much of a difference between a JPEG, GIF, or PNG? Turns out, there is! Luckily, created a handy infographic explaining the differences. Learn each image file type’s history, pronunciation, best usage, and capabilities. Never get caught pronouncing GIF with a hard “G,” or using a JPEG in place of a PNG again.

Want to know what kind of images you should share? Check out our post: 12 Images You Should Share on Social Media

Learn anything new? Tell us in the comments section below.

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