VerticalResponse Marketing Blog

Subscribe to VerticalResponse Marketing Blog feed
Updated: 3 hours 16 min ago

How to Manage Expectations – The Vastly Underutilized Skill

Thu, 04/17/2014 - 06:00

Managing expectations is a vastly underutilized skill, in my opinion. Not everyone does it, but maybe if more did, we could avoid a lot of the day-to-day drama that goes on in every office.

Folks who know how to manage expectations are able to more seamlessly navigate the choppy waters of their business. Why? Because they know how to communicate, organize, and direct conversations around things getting done.

Follow these three practical tips to improve your own ability to manage expectations.

Make No Assumptions

People often get into hot water when they assume a co-worker, vendor, or supervisor knows what they expect or even what they’re talking about. My first piece of advice is making sure you get context.

Don’t fall into the trap of assuming someone has the same understanding of a situation, project, deadline, or task that you do. You can avoid this pitfall by having a conversation in which you openly discuss what’s expected, how it might be accomplished, and how success will be measured. Remember to leave plenty of opportunities for questions. This is also the time to agree and commit to what will be delivered, when. When something is going to be completed is one of the most common points of miscommunication. Which leads me to my next tip…

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate

One of the best ways to manage expectations is to make sure you communicate with everyone on a frequent basis. In the early stages of a new project or as a key milestone or deadline approaches, you may want to even over-communicate.

Sure, it might be more work on your part, but it’s especially important if you have a new team that isn’t used to working together, or new leadership that may not have developed a level of trust in the team’s ability to deliver. Better safe than sorry.

By holding frequent check-ins throughout the course of a project, you also have the chance to provide real-time status updates and manage any delays, risks, or blockers. When you’re proactively honest and transparent in your communication, you have room to put a plan B in place, if needed, or the flexibility of making new decisions as you move toward the finish line. Being honest about a delay is a thousand times better than promising to deliver and then missing your deadline.

Pushing Back is OK

A huge piece of managing expectations is the actual expectation, right?

You have to be comfortable that the expectations are realistic and achievable. If they’re not, you can–and should–push back. The key here is pushing back in a way that balances the organization’s needs and the team’s abilities. Being open about what can be delivered and what the plan is to bring in the rest can go a long way in instilling confidence and getting the go-ahead. If you can nail the fine art of pushback, you’ve won half the battle of managing expectations successfully.

This article by VerticalResponse CEO and founder Janine Popick originally appeared on

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Manage Expectations – The Vastly Underutilized Skill appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

Four Creative Options to Encourage Email Opt-ins

Wed, 04/16/2014 - 06:00

If you’re trying to build your mailing list, chances are good that you’ve considered implementing an opt-in bonus, offering your site visitors a discount or free trial, for example, in exchange for their email address.

The web is awash in these kinds of offers, but they may not be the most effective way to get potential customers in your sales funnel. Here are some new, creative options and savvy strategies for email opt-ins, courtesy of Jennifer Bourn, creative director and strategist at full service design agency Bourn Creative.

Be specific

“Back in 2008 when we started really getting into opt-in offers, an email newsletter was something special, and then it became less special because everybody was jumping on that bandwagon,” Bourn recalls.

As people’s inboxes become overloaded, they’re less likely to opt-in to a newsletter they don’t see as incredibly useful and valuable. Narrowing your focus is the antidote, so try discovering very specific problems and helping your readers solve them in your email newsletter. This will also help increase the percentage of opt-ins that convert to paying clients.

In contrast, very broad or general newsletters that try to appeal to too many people or try to solve too many problems can lower both your opt-in and conversion rates. “The more general your marketing, the more you’re trying to hit everyone, the more you’re going to struggle, and the harder it’s going to be,” warns Bourn. In contrast, “the more niche, highly focused and targeted you can get, the more success you’re going to have, and the easier your marketing is going to be.”

Try these options to help boost your email opt-ins:

Option#1: Video

Bourn has noticed that highly targeted video series or webinars do very well. Three 10-minute webinars or three short videos targeting a very specific topic or solving a specific problem are quick and easy to consume.

For example, Kendall SummerHawk offers a webinar that Bourn reports is converting at almost 80 percent. SummerHawk’s content has descriptive titles, is high quality and outlines the specific benefits, which has contributed to her success.

Option #2: Mini-courses

Rosetta Thurman, founder and CEO of Happy Black Woman, offers an entire mini-course, including a workbook and audio. She guides readers through taking action rather than leaving them on their own. “She gets a lot of referrals directly to that opt-in from people who have downloaded it and gotten a lot of clarity from the resource,” Bourn says.

Option #3: Recipes

If your clients or prospects are always looking for recipes, a digital cookbook may be a great opt-in gift. Conscious Cleanse has offered just that. The 70-page PDF has recipes for great-tasting and simple meals along with nutrition facts, and those who opt-in are likely to turn into paying clients who buy the book or sign up for the cleanse program.

Option #4: The reverse opt-in

Some businesses are eschewing the quid pro quo of giving something for an email address and instead coming up with creative ways to get customer contact info. For example, Maya Smart has no opt-in but offers readers the opportunity to ask a question she can answer in an email or on her blog.

Whether this will work for you depends on the specific audience you’re trying to reach. Those with questions about the basics will respond best to opt-in incentives. “The more higher-end your market is, the less appropriate an opt-in offer becomes,” says Bourn. That’s because busier people don’t have as much time to figure something out on their own, but would rather your business help them reach their goal faster. Always ensure your subscriber realizes they are signing up to receive something from you to maintain a strong relationship and avoid any complaints or unsubscribes. 

An opt-in is just the beginning

Building your list and converting prospects into customers will require some effort and a bit of marketing oomph. So remember: Even the best opt-in strategy is just one piece of your marketing puzzle.

Have any clever opt-in strategies of your own? Share with us!
Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Four Creative Options to Encourage Email Opt-ins appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

5 Wicked Awesome Ways to Grow Your Email Marketing List

Tue, 04/15/2014 - 06:00

You know you need to get the word out about your business in order to grow and to stay top of mind with customers. At VerticalResponse, we often get the question, “How do I build or get an email marketing list?” We’re also often asked if it’s okay to use a purchased, rented or scraped email list. If you’re just starting out, or trying to grow your list quickly, building an email marketing list organically may seem like a waste of time when you can just go out and buy one, right? Sorry to burst your bubble, but not so much.

There are no shortcuts to growing a loyal base of subscribers, fans and followers. In reality, that purchased list can tarnish your business and get you banned by your ESP (Email Service Provider), rather than get you the results you want. So, how do you grow your list with engaged subscribers who want to hear from your biz? We’ve got 5 wicked awesome ways (with real-life examples), so read on.

1. Offer Something of Value

In exchange for giving you their email address, subscribers expect to get something of value. What will you deliver? Whatever it is, from discounts, exclusive deals, advance access, tips, how-tos, advice or something else, make sure the value is crystal clear in your sign up. Take for example, these subscribe calls to action (CTAs):

Subscribe CTA from VerticalResponse’s sign up page


Social Media Examiner Subscribe CTA


Birdy Botanicals Email List Subscribe CTA


2. Show ‘Em What They Get

By providing tangible examples of your emails, newsletters and invitations, you can give people a sneak peek of what they’ll get by joining your email list. At VerticalResponse, we archive our weekly VR Buzz newsletter so folks can preview what they’ll see before they hand over their email address. Also, once they’re a subscriber, if they happen to miss a newsletter, they always have easy access to it.

3. Give Them a Chance to Subscribe (Opt-in) Everywhere

The point of sending emails is to build a relationship with your subscribers. Like an anxious young man asking a girl’s father for permission to marry her, you need to get subscribers permission to send them email.

Here’s where your subscriber form, or opt-in form, comes into play. An opt-in form is a true gem because when people willingly give you their name and email address, they’re blatantly saying they want to hear from you. When you get opt-in permission, you build a relationship and gain trust. It’s a win-win for both parties.

You need make sure the opt-in process is super quick and easy to sign up. Also, give folks the opportunity to sign up nearly any place they can contact or interact with your business including the following:

Website – Place your opt-in form on as many relevant pages of your website as possible. Your homepage, contact us page, pricing, navigation bar at the top or bottom, and product pages are perfect places to start as they typically get the most traffic.

Blog – If you’ve got a blog, it’s a natural place to capture readers and turn them into subscribers. Like the examples we showed above, use a visually engaging opt-in form that extols the value of subscribing.

Facebook Page – By incorporating a tab on your business Facebook profile with a subscribe CTA folks can sign up for your email list right from Facebook.

Pinterest Boards – While attending Social Media Marketing World recently, we heard Melanie Duncan speak about growing your email list with Pinterest and we couldn’t wait to share the news with our readers.

Twitter Feed – Make it part of your social media routine to share a link to your subscribe page at least once a week. You can also make use of Twitter Lead Generation Cards for this purpose. These enhanced Twitter Promoted Tweets provide the ability to capture a name, @username and email associated with a Twitter account to enhance the reach of any business.

Events/Trade Shows – If you’re hosting an event in your place of business, another location or are exhibiting at a trade show, make sure you offer attendees the opportunity to sign up for your email list. You can use a good old fashion sign up book and manually type email addresses into your ESP lists, or bring a laptop, tablet or smartphone and let people sign up that way.

Email Signature – We all send email from our personal email addresses to friends, family, vendors, etc. Make sure you include a link to your sign up page in your email signature.

Transactional Emails/Invoices – If your business sends any type of transactional emails or invoicing, you’ll definitely want to offer customers a link to subscribe to your marketing emails.

Content – If you’re creating any kind of content like guides, eBook, infographics, videos, etc., you want to make sure to include a call to action to subscribe to your email list at the conclusion of the content or somewhere in the body. Your reader is someone who’s already engaged in the content you’ve produced so they have a greater propensity to want to get more from you.

4. Make Your Emails Easy to Forward - The ability to forward to a friend seems to have been around since the dawn of email marketing, but it’s amazing how many people don’t use it in their messages. This is a missed opportunity especially since we live in an age where people are apt to share things with friends or co-workers they think they might enjoy or get value from. You can even ask for the forward by saying something like, “Share this email with friends you think might enjoy it!” Most ESPs allow you to insert a forward to a friend link very easily when you are creating your email. The bonus of using an ESP provided forwarding link is that they’ll usually include the option to sign up for the mailing list in these forwarded emails, easy list growth!

5. Make Your Emails Easy to Share on Social Media – You want to make sure your email can be shared by your current subscribers on their social media networks. This can be done in most ESPs by including social media icons that allow recipients to share your message on networks like Facebook and Twitter. You should also get reporting and tracking on this so you can see how many people are sharing your messages.

There you have it. 5 wicked awesome ways to get more people to sign up for your email marketing list.

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz. (See what we did there?)

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Wicked Awesome Ways to Grow Your Email Marketing List appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

Heartbleed Bug: What You Need to Know

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 13:15

By now you’ve probably heard the buzz and received more than a handful of emails from various companies about the Heartbleed bug. Since it was disclosed on April 7, 2014, it’s been made public that the bug puts users’ passwords for many popular Web sites at risk. In this post, we’ll try to get to the heart of the matter and answer possible questions you may have. 

What is Heartbleed?

According to the Heartbleed website, “The Heartbleed bug allows anyone on the Internet to read the memory of the systems protected by the vulnerable versions of the OpenSSL software. This compromises the secret keys used to identify the service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content. This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users.” Put simply, this means your usernames, passwords, and credit card information were potentially at risk of being intercepted.

What is OpenSSL?

CNET shares that OpenSSL is, “Secure Sockets Layer … It’s the most basic means of encrypting information on the Web, and it mitigates the potential of someone eavesdropping on you as you browse the Internet. (Notice the ‘https’ in the URL of SSL-enabled sites like Gmail, instead of simply ‘http’). OpenSSL is open-source software for SSL implementation across the Web. The versions with the vulnerability are 1.0.1 through 1.0.1f. OpenSSL also is used as part of the Linux operating system, and as a component of Apache and Nginx, two very widely used programs for running Web sites. Bottom line: Its use across the Web is vast.”

Which sites were affected?

CNET has created a list of the top 100 web sites and their current status, however, your best bet is to hear it from the source, either through an email you may receive from a company you’ve done business with, or by contacting them directly to find out. You can also use a tool like the one created by LastPass, a password management company, to check if a site was vulnerable, but again, you should confirm this directly with the company. 

VerticalResponse was not impacted by the Hearbleed bug. 

What can you do?

Many people are racing to change their passwords in an effort to protect themselves. While this is a good practice, it’s important to wait until you’ve received confirmation from the company to ensure they’ve patched the bug first, otherwise you may be unintentionally giving a potential attacker access to your new password.

What’s next

News about the Heartbleed bug is continuing to unfold. You can consult the Heartbleed website for more details and look for emails from companies about how they’ve been impacted, and what their next steps are.


Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Heartbleed Bug: What You Need to Know appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

After an Event: How to Connect and Follow up on Email + Social

Mon, 04/14/2014 - 06:00

In the world of digital marketing, it’s easy to forget that some email addresses are collected in person. Whether you just taught a workshop or seminar, hosted an event, or found yourself at a vendor’s table at a conference, chances are good that you’ve walked out with a list of names to add to your email list. Now what?

If you’re uncertain how to take the next steps, or want to make sure to capitalize on the enthusiasm generated at your event, keep reading. We’ll share some tips on making the most of the new names of eager prospects who want your messages in their inbox.

1. The Welcome Message

Remember that people at conferences or events may have signed up for multiple lists, and unless you get in touch with them right away, they might forget that yours was one of them. Instead of waiting weeks or months and finding out the hard way if they know who you are, be proactive. Send a message (ideally within 48 hours) welcoming them to your email list, letting them know how often you plan on emailing, and reminding them where you met is always a good start. That way they won’t accidentally unsubscribe, mistake you with another company, or worse, think your email is spam.

2. Consider a show discount or offer

Want to tap into the enthusiasm generated at your event? Creating a special offer or discount with a hard deadline can motivate your readers to respond sooner rather than later. If you can personalize it to the specific event where they signed up – even if it’s just with a special discount code – all the better.

3. Segment your new list

If you have list segmentation, make sure to select the area where they best fit. You may even have two different lists from the same event: For example, you could have people check off what their areas of interest are on a form.

4. Personal follow-ups

If someone you met at an event asked for information on a certain product or service that you offer (or handed you a business card), don’t automatically add them to your email list. Send them a personal email with the information they requested, or a message asking if they’d like to join your list since they thought the content might be of interest based on your discussion.

5. Follow up on social media

If there’s a specific hashtag for your event on Twitter, or if people are sharing stories on a specific Facebook page, following up on social media can help you with your marketing efforts. Just make sure to offer something valuable – whether it’s a link to a blog post covering topics people asked about specifically, a wrap up of the event, or a special discount for attendees.

6. Consider offering a place for new readers to share their concerns

Maybe your new subscriber had a question they wanted to ask you but ran out of time or didn’t want to ask in front of a group. Offering them a place to interact with you directly can build your credibility and the level of trust they have for you.

7. Share information about the event directly

Whether you’re writing a bulleted list of lessons learned from the conference, sharing information about the most frequent questions you received, or even posting a photograph from the event itself, can make your new subscribers feel included.

8. Don’t neglect the rest of your list

Even though there’s a lot of enthusiasm from a new event, and it’s always great to connect with new subscribers in person, a big chunk of your list might not be interested in the event or did not attend it for a variety of reasons. When sharing event information, make sure that it’s accessible to everyone and has key takeaways for people who couldn’t make it as well as those that did.

9. Keep your list posted about future events

It can be difficult for some people to stay updated on events in their industry, so make it a little bit easier for them by sending out announcements of when you’ll be presenting or exhibiting at an event or conference. Some people may even choose to attend certain events simply because you’ll be there!

10. Keep track of metrics

If one particular event or conference is a huge draw and another isn’t, you can use that data to determine your schedule for the following year. To do so, though, you’ll need to keep track – not only of the number of email subscribers you’ve received but also how long they stay engaged, which lead to sales, and any other key indicators you’d like to track.

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 After an Event: How to Connect and Follow up on Email + Social appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

Addressing Anonymous Negativity as Secret App Gains Traction

Fri, 04/11/2014 - 06:00

Commenting or posting anonymously may be old hat on web forums, but newer apps allowing users to share secrets are gaining in popularity. The iPhone app Secret, which allows users to send anonymous messages to contacts on their phone (and friends of friends), is getting a lot of buzz, particularly in the tech scene of Silicon Valley.

Secret is part of a wave of apps emphasizing anonymity. Others include Whisper (where conversations are among strangers) and Wut (which mass texts all of your friends). The idea is that anonymity removes inhibition, allowing people to communicate more freely about ideas they may normally keep to themselves.

But Secret has a dark side that could negatively impact small businesses. Its community guide calls for kind, respectful and honest communication; states that defamatory, offensive or mean-spirited posts will be removed; and that harassment won’t be tolerated. However, some businesses and individuals have been victims of nasty comments or rumors they say are inaccurate. Evernote CEO Phil Libin took to Twitter to publicly respond to rumors of acquisition started on Secret in February.

“I’ve often thought about the need for an anonymous social network to go along with the fully public and the friends-only ones. But I can’t figure out a way to stop an anonymous network from decaying into a Mean Girls-style burn book,” venture capitalist Sam Altman wrote on his blog after deleting the app from his phone.

Unfortunately, refusing to participate doesn’t mean that you or your business won’t be a target of anonymous negativity, and it’s often difficult to know what to do in that situation. To find out, we spoke with Melissa Agnes, president and co-founder of crisis intelligence firm Agnes Day.

Small businesses are vulnerable

As people flex their anonymous muscles and learn the power of their voice, platforms such as Secret are proving to be very powerful. “You can really do a lot of damage, so, unfortunately, people take advantage of this, and there are a lot of trolls who just don’t stop,” Agnes says.

She points out that even small businesses can be targets of false rumors or anonymous negativity. “Small businesses can often be the most vulnerable because they don’t expect it –the impact, all of the chatter that might be negative – whereas large organizations are very used to it,” she says. “Unfortunately, small organizations or small companies can be the biggest victims.

Be prepared

Instead of trying to determine whether or not to respond while in the middle of a situation, Agnes recommends that companies determine what to do ahead of time by developing a response flowchart.

Different variables include the type of comments being made (positive, neutral or negative), whether the claim is valid, and if the comments can be corrected – as well as how influential the person is and how they’re likely to respond. “Can you fix it and transform it into a positive thing if you responded, or is it a troll that’s completely negative – the more you help the more they bash?” asks Agnes. How you’ll respond is a personal decision, but the big key is to prepare for it in advance.

A range of options might include not responding at all, responding privately, responding publicly on the forum where the comment is made or responding on your own site or email newsletter. Agnes also points out that although proving defamation is difficult, taking legal action is an option.

The tone of the response is also important. Being negative or defensive can give off the wrong impression. This is another reason why coming up with a plan before a situation arises is so important – it allows you to respond in a logical way even when emotions are running high.

Pick your battleground

Agnes also makes a distinction based on the potential volatility of a comment, since very negative emotions that are relatable mean that a post is more likely to escalate because it’ll get shared or even go viral. Making an assessment of the emotion involved can help you gauge the situation and potential impact from the start.

If you do determine that a comment or issue is worth responding to, Agnes recommends responding on the platform where the conversation is taking place.

In a crisis situation, an option would be to respond to the rumor on your own blog, but this can sometimes call attention and bring more power to a post or comment that very few people saw. “If it’s simply an issue and not a crisis, you may not want to bring light to it by putting it on your site,” says Agnes.

However, posting on one’s blog also allows some control that’s not available on other forums – by closing comments or moderating them, for instance. It can be a good choice for a worst-case scenario, where persistent rumors are starting to have a negative effect on your business.

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Addressing Anonymous Negativity as Secret App Gains Traction appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

LinkedIn’s New Content Marketing Score

Thu, 04/10/2014 - 06:00

Do you ever wonder how effective your LinkedIn content is at reaching your target audience? Well, wonder no more. The social media giant is rolling out two new features to help small businesses improve content marketing.

One feature is a Content Marketing Score, which quantifies the effectiveness of your content. The second concept lists Trending Content, which will help you write about topics that are of interest to your target audience. (The changes are the latest among several LinkedIn has made recently.)

Intrigued? We thought you might be. Here’s a closer look at each of the features and how they can improve your marketing efforts.

Content Marketing Score
Remember school report cards? Your teacher gave you a grade and wrote a note about how you could improve in certain areas. The Content Marketing Score is similar. You get a grade, which is a score of 1-1000, and LinkedIn tells you how you can improve.

To be more specific, your grade is based on how much engagement your content gets, which is divided by the number of active LinkedIn members that you’d like to reach. You can adjust the score to look at specific areas, too. For instance, you can get a score on just your sponsored updates. You’ll also see how your score stacks up against competitors, but the rankings will be anonymous.

The score is private. It’s for your eyes only, which Stephanie Katcher, a social media specialist at All My Web Needs, says is vital.

“The fact that the Content Marketing Score is private is significant,” she says. “It negates the desire to game the system for popularity and puts the focus on performance.

“The anonymity of competitors is important to letting small businesses focus on how to develop and optimize their content rather than how they are going to compete, or worse yet, who they need to copy.”

For Katcher, the new score is a “huge win for the evolution of digital content.” 

Trending Content
To reach your target audience, you need to know what topics interest them, right? LinkedIn will supply a list of trending topics that are pertinent to your target audience. The idea of “trending topics” is nothing new, Twitter has cashed in on this phenomenon, but LinkedIn’s list won’t be as broad. The list will reflect your target audience, not the audience as a whole.

LinkedIn is using an algorithm to evaluate the trends and categorize content into 17,000 topics. The result is a list of trending topics that your audience will want to read about and engage with.

Katcher says this list should point business owners in the right direction, but she reminds everyone that trends can have a short lifecycle.

“Using trending topics to guide content development is only as good as your ability to recognize the life cycle of a trend,” she says. “Content needs to provide value to the conversation in every stage. Early in the trend cycle generalities are okay, but as things accelerate content needs to focus on current solutions or the future phases of a trend.” 

With a little practice, you’ll realize the ebb and flow of the trends.

The catch
We predicted that LinkedIn would become a go-to site for content this year, and while the features are impressive, there is a catch. Right now, the features are only available to LinkedIn Marketing Solution customers, who spend some $20,000 a month. The hope is that in the not-too-distant future, these features will become available to rest of LinkedIn’s users.

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

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

The post LinkedIn’s New Content Marketing Score appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

7 Email Etiquette Rules to Send By

Wed, 04/09/2014 - 06:00

Etiquette doesn’t just apply to your table manners; it applies to email marketing too. These unwritten rules of the email world are worth reviewing. You don’t want to offend your customers by making an email faux pas, right? We didn’t think so.

Here are seven email etiquette rules that your small business should follow.

1. Always get permission

Just because someone handed you a business card doesn’t mean he or she wants to get emails from your business. You need permission from each and every customer you email. 

2. Make it easy to unsubscribe

Your customers should be able to easily unsubscribe to your emails. The CAN-SPAM laws require this option on every email you send. Don’t worry though, if you’re sending content that has value, your unsubscribe rate will remain low.

3. Make sure the content is error-free

Nothing stains your reputation faster than an email full of misspellings and grammatical errors, says Chas Hendricksen, a marketing analyst at technology company Benchmark Systems.

Your customers have high standards, so don’t let them down. Use spell check and proofread your email more than once. Remember, spell check won’t catch every error, so read carefully to make sure you haven’t mixed up words like “compliment” and “complement.”

4. Check and double check your links

You don’t want to send an email with broken links. Not only does that defeat the purpose of your email and potentially cost you sales, it also drops your credibility as a company.

“The entire point of an email campaign is to generate business,” Hendricksen says. “People want to be able to act instantly to your message. It is your job to provide them with a quick and easy way to do that.”

5. Send short and concise emails

Short, snappy emails help time crunched readers. Even if you’re sending out your company newsletter, you can offer “teaser” information with a link to the full newsletter. Take a look at the promotional email below. The retailer gets its point across with less than 40 words.

6. Your subject line should relate to the content

Don’t be deceptive with your subject lines. If your email is about an upcoming sale, say so in your subject line. You can get creative with your subject line, but don’t try to trick your customers into opening the email. Customers don’t respond well to it, and it’s against the CAN-SPAM law.

7. Keep it classy

You want to convey a professional image. To do that, don’t write in ALL CAPS, it looks like you’re shouting at your customers. Don’t go overboard with things like symbols and exclamation marks, either. It’s just not necessary.

At its core, etiquette is all about being polite. The same rule applies when you’re emailing. Be courteous and respectful of your customers and their time. Make sure your company is putting its most polite foot forward, and you’ll see success. Want more email marketing etiquette tips? Check out our infographic.

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Email Etiquette Rules to Send By appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

Need Help Using the New VerticalResponse? Check out the Help Center!

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 06:01

Help! The Beatles knew that sometimes you just can’t do everything by yourself. You need a little, well, help. We agree, and sometimes running your business means you don’t have time to learn the ins and outs of every software program you use. You need to find out how to do something, and do it fast. Here’s where we come in. If you need help learning how to use the new VerticalResponse, we’ve got a help center to get you going.

What can you find in the help center? We have text tutorials so you can find what you’re looking for quickly. For visual learners, we have screenshots and videos. We also have live product demos on Tuesdays with Q&A or you can watch a recorded demo at anytime.

Looking for something specific? There are a couple of ways to find what you need at the help center. There’s a search window above the top navigation bar, or the side column will sort info by different sections of your account. Either way, it’s easy to find what you need.

Aside from the help center, make sure to check out Communities, a new hub where other VerticalResponse users can answer your questions.

There are two ways to access the help center: The quickest way is to click the question mark at the top of any page in your VerticalResponse account. Or, go to to find lots of helpful articles (you might want to bookmark it for easy access). And, sign up for a live demo

So if you’re looking for some help, and not just any help, check out our resources to get you on your way. Have a question about using the new VerticalResponse? Share it in the comments. 

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Need Help Using the New VerticalResponse? Check out the Help Center! appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

Google Penalties – All You Need to Know

Tue, 04/08/2014 - 06:01

Penalties from search engines, mainly Google, have become more and more common in the past few years. Some penalties have resulted in crippling the organic traffic of some big name sites and tons of little guys, too. Like many aspects of SEO there’s a bit of mystery involved, so in this post, we break down the details about what penalties are, how your site could get one and how to tell if you have one. 

What is a penalty?

Just like in hockey, a penalty is something that you don’t want against you or your site. Let’s start with the two biggest search engines, Google and Bing. Duane Forrester of Bing says they really don’t penalize sites unless they’re doing some “really bad stuff, like hacking, malware and things like that.” Google on the other hand, deals out two types of penalties, algorithmic and manual:

  • Algorithm Penalty: This is a penalty that has affected your site because one of Google’s many algorithms. For example, the Panda algorithm affects sites with low quality and duplicate content. 
  • Manual Penalty: This type of penalty is usually called a manual action or manual penalty. Google has looked at your site and determined that it violates their lengthy search quality guidelines, so they slap a manual penalty on your site(s). Google has a whole team of manual spam fighters that spend their time looking for sites that violate their guidelines. 

How did you get a penalty?

Algorithm: If you’ve noticed a sharp decline in your organic traffic and are left wondering if you were caught in Google’s cross hairs, we have some news for you: You maybe have been hit by one of Google’s two biggest algorithms, Panda and Penguin, both of which are very different.

Panda addresses sites with low quality, thin and duplicate content. An example of this would be when, in the past, many SEOs recommended having “SEO only pages” for long tail versions of top keywords in order to gain better rankings. There would be several of these pages for each variation of the keyword with almost the exact same copy. You can see how these types of activities are of zero value to the user and more for “gaming” the search engines. The Penguin algorithm discounts sites that have artificially been ranked because of having a high number of artificial backlinks. The Penguin algorithm also rewarded high value sites, which in turn pushed down lower quality sites. The Panda update would be what the majority of small businesses have been hit by. 

Manual: Your site might get hit with a manual penalty because it violates one, some or all of Google’s Search Quality Guidelines. Recently, that might have meant some guest blog posting that we clued you in on in our video, What’s New With Google. Other things Google says can get you a manual penalty include deceiving your users, link schemes (like paid links), cloaking, sneaky redirects and scraping content. If you’ve used an SEO company in the past, hopefully not a dodgy one, you might want to do an audit of your backlinks.  

How to tell if you have a penalty

Algorithm: Unfortunately, Google won’t let you know if you’ve received a penalty as a result of an algorithm. Luckily our friends at Moz have a pretty accurate timeline of when algorithm updates land. Using that, in combination with your own analytic data, you can get a pretty good idea if your site’s been whacked by a Penguin or Panda update. Google also announced that they no longer roll out the updates on one day, but rather over the span of a few. This might be harder to tell if you’ve been hit. Here are some more good resources to help you find if your site’s been affected: Barracuda’s Panguin Tool and Fruition’s Google Penalty Checker Tool

Manual: Luckily, Google will inform you if you’ve been struck with a manual penalty. We say “luckily,” but that’s a message you never want to see in your inbox. Google has also increased the details they provide you and clarity of these messages. They will tell you what general guideline you’ve broken, and hopefully also provide you a link(s) to some backlinks that are violating the guidelines and even a video. Here’s an example of what a manual action looks like. 

Google Penalties: All You Need to Know

Now you have an overview of what an SEO penalty is. There are many different penalties and each one is very specific to the individual site’s situation. Because of that, it’s tough to give blanket advice on how to repair your site from penalty. If you have any questions about penalties shoot them our way. 

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

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

The post Google Penalties – All You Need to Know appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

Is Affiliate Marketing Right for Your Business?

Mon, 04/07/2014 - 06:00

What exactly is affiliate marketing? It involves having others market and sell for you. It’s a web-based system that allows you to reward referrals by sharing your profits.

In addition to having an affiliate program, you can also become a publisher. That means you’re selling someone else’s product on your site for a percentage of profits by becoming an affiliate. For example, if there are specific books you typically recommend to your customers or clients, you can become an Amazon affiliate and receive a small percentage of the profits generated from book sales off of your website.

How it works

Affiliates place an ad on their site with a link that has a special code designed to keep track of purchases made generating from their site. After a previously disclosed period of time, affiliates receive the percentage of sales made.

So, basically, someone can promote your product or service and receive a cut of sales coming from their website or email list… or you can promote someone else’s product or service and receive a percentage of their sales.

Affiliate programs

In order to allow your clients or customers to become affiliates, you’ll need to find a program provider to use. There are a lot of providers, including 1ShoppingCart, LinkShare, Clickbank, Shareasale, AffiliateX, CommissionJunction and E-junkie.

These providers will let you approve those who apply to be affiliates, and keep track of payments. Many will take care of payments for you.

Make it easy to affiliate

If you have clients with blogs and email lists of their own who are passionate about your product, make sure to let them know about your affiliate program. Although they may be marketing their own materials to their email list, if they’re truly passionate about your product or service, they’ll spread the word.

You should clearly spell out the terms of your program, including whether there’s a minimum cash amount people must earn to cash out and how long it generally takes to get paid.

To increase participation, simply increase the percentage of profits they receive for sales generated from their site. You can make things easier by including several sizes of banner ads for affiliates to place on their websites, or compelling copy they can use.

A word about ethics

One potential pitfall with affiliate programs is spamming. People interested in a quick moneymaker may decide to send unsolicited emails to everyone they know, which could reflect badly on your business. Make sure you’re selective about who you allow as an affiliate. Some businesses go so far as to only allow current customers as affiliates – assuring that their affiliates are knowledgeable about the product.

Legally, the Federal Trade Commission has certain expectations in place. Bloggers who are affiliates of a product must disclose that when they write endorsements or testimonials. So if you’re writing a glowing review of a product with which you are affiliated, make sure to let your readers know. You can do that by writing something along the lines of: “I receive a small percentage of profits from purchases made off of this sale.”

Another word of warning: You may want to have measures in place to assure that people have purchased a product before becoming an affiliate – so they’re not using your program for a partial refund on the first product they bought from you!

Is it effective?

Like all types of online marketing, affiliate programs take time and effort. If you’re working on creating a program to have people market your products for you, it may take some trial and error before the program is truly effective. Sometimes it’s easier to provide a free sample or a video instead of having an affiliate link directly to a product or service for purchase. Affiliates can still get the percentage of profits from sales that were originally generated from their site, but instead of trying to sell for you, they’re offering something to their readers for free.

If you’re considering adding affiliate links for your customers, a good bet is to sign up for affiliate programs and link to products you already recommend.

For example, if you have a web design business and know that your clients will need to get hosting services, you can affiliate with one or more that you like. If you collaborate with someone else who provides services that complement your own, you may consider affiliating with each other – so you both benefit from cross-promotion.

Affiliate programs work best when they’re extremely targeted, and the demographic of the affiliate and the publisher line up well.

Bottom line: The amount of time and effort you put into an affiliate program – either as an affiliate or a publisher – will determine what you get out of it.

This post contributed by guest author, Yael Grauer. Grauer is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer and editor. Find her online at

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Is Affiliate Marketing Right for Your Business? appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

Understanding Preheader Text [VIDEO]

Fri, 04/04/2014 - 08:10

In this installment of Tips in 2, our new video series of helpful, two-minute small business marketing tips, Jill Bastian, Community Education & Training Manager at VerticalResponse walks you through the ins and outs of preheader text. When creating an email your preheader text helps your subject line compel subscribers to open it and read your content.

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Understanding Preheader Text [VIDEO] appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

The Top 20 Places Your Business Needs to Be Listed Online

Thu, 04/03/2014 - 06:00

Remember when you had to find a phone book and flip through hundreds of pages in order to find a local business?

The use of Yellow Pages has declined over 50 percent in the last five years. People now conduct quick searches on one of the many popular online directories. Since Internet search is the primary tool to finding businesses today, it’s vital to make sure your business is listed on all applicable online directories.

To get you started, here’s a quick guide to the top 20 online directories and links to their sign-up pages:

Google Places for Business

Listing your business on Google Places for Business should be at the top of your priority list. Google outperforms every other search engine by a long shot. In fact, Google receives nearly 6 billion searches per day.

  • Registering for a business listing on Google is easy and free
  • Business listings appear in Google Maps
  • Happy customers can leave reviews on your Google+ page

Create your Google Places for Business listing.

Bing Places for Business

Bing is the second most visited search engine on the Internet. If people aren’t searching on Google, chances are, they’re searching for your business on Bing.

  • Quick, easy, and free to register
  • Add multiple business locations at one time
  • Include other content in your business listing like photos, videos, and more

Create your Bing Places for Business listing.

Yahoo! Local Listing

 Yahoo is the Internet’s 3rd most popular search engine, bringing in millions of searches per day.

  • Yahoo Local Basic listing is free
  • Include photos, company description and more for $9.95/month
  • Get maximum exposure and listed on 40+ other directory listings for $29.99/month

Create your Yahoo Local listing.


Yelp is one of the best places on the Internet for consumers to find a quality review. If you’re looking to tap into the word-of-mouth advertising world, then Yelp is the perfect place to start.

  • Create deals for loyal customers right in your Yelp account
  • Send messages to your customers, publicly or privately
  • View business trends in Yelp’s reporting tool

Create your Yelp listing.


MerchantCircle is an online directory that helps small businesses connect with local customers, and other local small businesses. They offer free marketing tools to help you build your business.

  • Geographically localized to your target audience
  • Ability to advertise to boost your listing
  • Host a business blog on the site

Create your MerchantCircle listing.

Yellow Pages

Yellow Pages is the online version of a modern day phone book. Besides listing your business in an organized directory, Yellow Pages also offers advertising, lead generation services, and online payment options.

  • Well-organized interface
  • Detailed ad performance data
  • Receives millions of searches per day

Create your Yellow Pages listing.

White Pages

White Pages is the online equivalent of the white pages in a phone book. It’s a great way to make your business contact information available to over 200 million people.

  • List your business among 30 million other businesses
  • Premium text message service for mobile marketing
  • Sponsored advertisement opportunities available

Create your White Pages listing. is another online directory that is easy to navigate. includes some unique features like cars for sale, lottery results and helpful tips for finding business services.

  • Local weather listings right on the home page
  • Facebook sign-in option
  • Popular search categories listed on the home page

Create your Superpages listing.

Yellowbook is a subsidiary of Hibu Business, and allows you to create an easily searchable business listing on their network. Listings come with access to a full profile that includes business information, a link to your website, product descriptions and more.

  • Information distributed across network and partner sites
  • Display and video ads available
  • Cool map feature included in every listing

Create your Yellowbook listing.


YellowBot is yet another online directory similar to the yellow pages in a phone book. YellowBot provides basic contact and location information about businesses, and allows online reviews from customers.

  • Easily sign in with Windowslive, Google, Facebook, Yahoo or Twitter
  • Premium Listing opportunity for easy account management
  • Ability to add searchable tags to your listing

Create your YellowBot listing.


Manta is an online directory that receives over 30 million unique visitors per month. According to Inc., it is one of the fastest growing business sites on the Internet.

  • A fantastic way to increase your website traffic with paid business optimization packages
  • Get set up within minutes
  • Highlight your products and brands on your business profile

Create your Manta listing.


Citysearch is an excellent network for restaurants, bars, spas, hotels, restaurants and more. It’s free to get a listing and easy to update your profile once you’re listed in their search results. Citysearch also offers city guides for the most popular cities in the United States.

  • Vast partner network including Expedia, Urbanspoon, MerchantCircle and more
  • Profile includes a fun welcome message for viewers
  • Customers access business listings through popular Citysearch mobile app

Create your Citysearch listing.


MapQuest is a web mapping service to help bring local customers right to your business doorstep. This listing is great for businesses that are trying to get customers to visit a physical location.

  • Detailed driving directions to your business are available
  • Only $3/week
  • One central dashboard to manage business listings across multiple sites (paid service)

Create your MapQuest listing. is a free business directory powered by offers searchers detailed information about everything going on in their city, including events, deals and information on popular businesses.

  • Additional advertising options available
  • Add a coupon to attract customers
  • Resources available to make sure your business is listed correctly across the web

Create your listing.


Not only is Foursquare a popular business directory, it’s a popular social networking site. Customers can check in and comment on your business — ultimately leading more potential customers to your business.

  • Connect your Twitter handle, so visitors can Tweet you
  • Add a map so people can “check-in” to your business
  • Popular mobile app available

Create your Foursquare listing.


DexKnows is a popular online directory that not only allows a business listing, but provides a way for you to track how your customers engage with your profile, thus allowing you to track your online reputation.

  • Identify places where you can advertise both online and in print
  • Detailed lead information available through reporting tools
  • Monitor your ratings and reviews

Create your DexKnows listing.

The Business Journals

The Business Journals is a local listing that has 4 levels of service options— free, bronze, silver, and gold. Each service option displays your listing in the directory, but the more you pay, the more opportunities you have to receive targeted traffic to your website.

  • 8 million monthly searchers
  • Searchers have an average income of $97K+
  • 84% of searchers shop online

Create your Business Journals listing.

Angie’s List

Angie’s List is one of the most well respected online directories for services, and is touted for its ability to provide accurate and reliable reviews for readers. If you’re looking to establish an online reputation through positive reviews, Angie’s list is a must.

  • Online reputation management services
  • Ability to read and respond to reviews
  • Access to additional helpful business tools

Create your Angie’s List listing.


Hotfrog is a free online directory whose aim is to help get your website listed in Google’s search results.

  • Registration takes less than 5 minutes
  • Add as much detail to your profile as you would like for free
  • Create coupons to incentivize your customers

Create your Hotfrog listing.


Kudzu is free and geared toward homeowners that are interested in making renovations. If you offer any type of home improvement services, make sure you list your business on Kudzu.

  • 93% of Kudzu users are homeowners
  • 74% of those homeowners are interested in home renovation projects
  • Enhanced profiles come with a dedicated account manager to help you boost your website in search results

Create your Kudzu listing.

This guide was created by Deluxe and republished by VerticalResponse.

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

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

The post The Top 20 Places Your Business Needs to Be Listed Online appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

5 Ways to Take Privacy Seriously with Your Email Marketing

Wed, 04/02/2014 - 06:00

Information is power. This phrase is especially true when it comes to marketing. The more information you have about your customers, the more targeted and effective your email marketing can be.

According to the Direct Marketing Association, 90 percent of executives depend on customer information for effective marketing campaigns and 79 percent said they would benefit from more sophisticated means to collect information.

As it stands now, there’s a variety of ways to learn about your customers. From social media platforms to loyalty programs, you can collect a lot of information about your target audience. While all of this information is valuable, some of your customers could be hesitant to share personal information.

“Fears about privacy are warranted,” says Mike Podlesny, who uses email marketing to promote his gardening business. “When a customer gives you information, they’re trusting you to keep it safe.”

Keeping customer information safe is vitally important to maintain your customer relationships. So how do you get the information you need and reassure your customers that their information is safe? Consider putting these five practices in place so both sides win.

1. Only send emails to those who give consent

Your email list can boost sales and brand recognition, which is all the more reason to treat your list like a member of your family. Nurture your customers, help them grow, offer valuable content and products, but only when they ask for it.

2. Be aware of the CAN-SPAM Act

There is a law that sets rules for commercial emails in the U.S., it’s called the CAN-SPAM Act. If you aren’t aware of the act, take a minute to familiarize yourself with the rules and make sure you’re complying. The rules focus on honoring opt outs and being truthful with email content.

3. Let customers opt out easily

No one wants to lose a potential customer, but it happens. While the CAN-SPAM Act says every email should offer a way to opt out, we also suggest making the process as painless as possible. Don’t make customers take surveys or force them through hoops; just make it simple. The more difficult it is to get off your email list, the less likely a customer is to come back later on. Plus, the CAN-SPAM Act has rules on what you can ask unsubscribers to do. VerticalResponse makes it simple, manages the information for you, and is CAN-SPAM compliant.

4. Offer a privacy policy on your website

You can build trust through transparency. Be open with your customers. Tell them exactly what you do with their information and the efforts you take to keep it safe, much like Podlesny does. On his gardening site, there is a page strictly for this purpose. It tells customers that information is collected to enhance the customer experience. It explains security measures and tells customers that their information will not be sold to a third party.

5. Don’t ask for more information than you need

Only collect what you need. The information you gain should make the buying process easier. If it can’t do that, you don’t need to ask for the information. By taking the time to ask the right questions and collecting only the information that’s useful, you’re respecting your customers’ time and privacy.

Customers respect companies that take privacy matters seriously. Show your customers you care, and you’ll be rewarded in the long run.

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

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

The post 5 Ways to Take Privacy Seriously with Your Email Marketing appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

A Small Biz Guide to Digital Marketing Acronyms

Tue, 04/01/2014 - 06:01

There are semi easy-to-understand acronyms you might use in everyday life like, LOL (laugh out loud), ASAP (as soon as possible), TBD (too be determined) and even BYOB (bring your own beverage). And then there are acronyms associated with digital marketing that you may be less familiar with, especially since new ones crop up all the time. If you’ve ever heard or read an acronym and secretly wondered what it meant, you’re not alone: “I think you should update your CTA so your CTR increases, which will positively impact SEM, specifically PPC, which will give you a better ROI, plus help out your SEO as you market to both B2B and B2C markets.” Say what? To help you better understand the world of online marketing speak, here’s a list (and definitions) of commonly used digital marketing acronyms:

AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action is a the list of events a one should attempt to do, particularly when it comes to writing copy, in order to obtain customers with a website, online ad, email, blog post etc. Ex: Grab their attention, hold their interest, invoke desire (by talking about benefits, or solving a problem), and generate a call to action to influence your readers to do what you want them to do. 

API: Application Program Interface is a set of rules, protocols or tools for building software applications.

B2B:  Business to Business refers to companies that typically sell to other businesses (rather than to consumers).

B2C: Business to Consumer refers to companies that typically sell to consumers (rather than to other businesses).

BL: Backlink is a link from another website to your business’ website.  Google uses backlinks in their algorithm to determine how search engine results are returned. Also known as inbound link. 

CAN-SPAM: Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act of 2003 is a law that was passed in the U.S. to cut down on unsolicited emails. The act includes a list of requirements for businesses or individuals when sending out email.  Rules like users must have the ability to opt out of receiving future communications, inclusion of a postal address of the sender, and no misleading subject lines. 

CMS: Content Management System is a software or program used to organize, edit and publish content.

CPA: Cost Per Action is a type of online advertising where the advertiser is charged based on a specific action. Advertisers will pay for an action like a purchase, form submission or registration.

CPC: Cost Per Click is a type of online advertising where the advertiser is charged based on the number of times a visitor clicks on a link.

CPM: Cost Per Thousand is a type of advertising where the advertiser is charged based on the a thousand impressions or showings of an ad. Why isn’t it CPT then? It uses “M” for Mille, which is the roman numeral for one thousand. 

CR: Conversion Rate is the number of visitors to a website or recipients of an email who take action beyond viewership

CRM: Customer Relationship Management is a business strategy or model for managing interaction and communication with leads or current customers.

CSS: Cascading Style Sheets is a “style sheet language” used to describe or define HTML/website or interface design elements (color, font, text alignment, borders, spacing).

CTA:  Call to Action is a word or phrase that’s used to tell people what to do on the website or within an email.  Some examples include “Learn More”, “Buy Now”, or “Sign Up.”

CTR: Click Through Rate is a measurement of how many people clicked on a particular link.  You can measure CTR on your website based on number of visitors as compared to the number of visitors who click on a link on your homepage. Can also be used with email marketing to measure people who clicked on a link within your email. 

CX: Customer Experience is the sum of all experiences a customer has with your product, website, etc.

ESP: Email Service Provider is a program or software that allows you to send emails and obtain tracking. VerticalResponse is an ESP.

GA: Google Analytics is a website and analytics reporting service created by Google that gives you various statistics in regards to website traffic.

FB: Facebook — This is kind of self-explanatory. Use “FB” to refer to all things Facebook.

HTML: Hyper Text Markup Language is the “language” or text makeup used to create webpages and any other information that could be viewed on the web.

IO: Insertion Order is a written contract between the advertiser and the ad agency or media rep.  Typically used for print or broadcast ads.  It usually includes specific instructions as to when the ad will begin, end, number of times to be shown, and it’s exact placement plus how much it costs.

KPI: Key Performance Indicator is a type of performance measurement or way to measure progress towards a specific goal.

PPC: Pay Per Click– An advertiser pays based on the number of times an ad is clicked on. If you advertise on a site like Google, you’ll pay based on the number of times a visitor clicks on your ad.  This also is known as CPC or Cost Per Click.

PR: PageRank and/or Public Relations – PageRank from Larry Page of Google

PV: Page Views are the number of times a user visits a webpage.

ROI: Return on Investment refers to how successful a specific marketing campaign is. It’s the amount of profit you’ll get based on the revenue generated less the money you spent on an advertising activity. For example, it costs $5,000 a year to maintain your website (domain, hosting, copywriting, design fees, etc.), but is generates $20,000/year in revenue. Based on this example your ROI would be 400% ($20,000 divided by $5000).


RT: Retweet is a re-post or forwarded message on Twitter by another user.

SEM: Search Engine Marketing is the way businesses can promote their website within search engines (because everyone wants to show up on the top of page one). There are two components SEM: 1) typically, this refers to PPC advertising that would appear on sites like Google, Yahoo! or Bing. It’s the ads that appear on the top and side of those pages; and 2) include search engine optimization (SEO) to have their business show up naturally or organically within the results page. 

SEO: Search Engine Optimization is the practice of optimizing a business’ website to achieve higher organic search results. Website owners can improve their SEO by including good content or keywords on their site, getting backlinks or links from other websites, and by structuring and naming their site appropriately so it makes it easier for search engines to find them. We’ve got a helpful Beginner’s Guide to SEO here. 

SERP: Search Engine Results Page is the page users see the results of a web search they conducted (“pizza in San Francisco”). Search engines like Google, Yahoo! or Bing may have different layouts to their pages, but they all have SERPs. They typically include the paid or PPC ads plus organic search results. 

SoLoMo: Social, Local, Mobile refers to a localized and mobile-centric version of search engine results.

SM: Social Media is the interaction and connection with various people on online platforms.

SMB: Small Business

SMM: Social Media Marketing is the tactic of using social media to market your business. See SMO. 

SMO: Social Media Optimization is the process of using social media platforms to generate more interest in your business or drive more traffic to your website.  There’s a wide variety of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Google+ or writing your own blog. 

UGC: User-Generated Content is a wide range of various media (blog posts, videos, photos etc.) created by the users (as opposed to the owners or employees) of a particular site or social media platform.

URL: Uniform Resource Locator is the web address or specific address of information found on the Internet.

UV: Unique Visitor is a distinct, individual visitor to a website who is only counted once, regardless how many times or web pages they visit.

UX: User Experience is the sum of experiences a customer has with your website, blog, etc.

Have any other marketing terms that should be added to the list?  Add ‘em below. 

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz

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

The post A Small Biz Guide to Digital Marketing Acronyms appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

How to Gauge Email Responses

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 06:00

Emails are a powerful marketing tool, but how do you know which response rates are good? What kind of open rates should you have? Is an unsubscribe rate of 2 percent bad? These are all valid questions. Plenty of people just like you wonder about the same things so we’re going to break down email marketing benchmarks to help you gauge your success.

We’ll define each metric, give you an average to shoot for and, with the help of online supplement retailer, Russell Lundstrom, we’ll give you some tips to get your stats where they should be.

Open rates

Average: 18-25%

Definition: An open rate is the measure of how many people on an email list open or view a delivered email.

The average open rate for commercial emails sent in the United States is 18-25 percent. The average person gets about 150 emails a day, so an open rate hovering around the high 20s is good. For non-profits the average open rate a bit lower, between 11-16 percent depending on the type of email and organization.

Tips to boost open rates:

Subject lines play a critical role in your open rates, so take the time to craft a subject line that intrigues your readers. If you need some subject line inspiration, check out this previous post.

The day of the week and time you send your email can also impact open rates, think about your audience and when they’re most likely to be opening your emails, and target your sends then. Testing parts of your email can have a big impact open rates and engagement, for more ideas check out this blog post.

Clickthrough rates

Average: 2-8%

Definition: A clickthrough rate is the percentage of people who open a delivered email and click on at least one link in the email.

Each email you send should have some sort of clickable call to action. Whether you’re directing customers to make a purchase or read a blog post, getting customers to not only open an email, but also click on a link is a positive step in engagement.

Tips to boost your clickthrough rate:

Clickthrough rates can vary depending on a variety of things, but the best way to boost your clickthrough rate is twofold. First, de-clutter your email. Make the call to action very clear and only use one per email. (Here are some email design tips.)

Second, make sure the email you send has value, says Lundstrom. If your customers associate your brand with a quality product and quality information, they are more apt to click on a link in the email. (For additional tips, check out, “How to Keep Email Newsletter Clicks & Readers on the Rise” or “How to Make Your Email Campaign More Clickable”)

Conversion rates

Average: 5-10%

Definition: A conversion rate is the percentage of people who took the action you wanted. Whether the action is buying a product or filling out a form, the conversion rate shows you how many of your customers followed through with your call to action.

This is an important statistic to watch because it can have a direct impact on your bottom line, provided your call to action asks customers to make a purchase. Lundstrom shoots for a conversion rate of 8-10 percent, but these rates can vary. Everything from website design to ease of navigation can impact this number.

Tips to boost your conversation rate

The easiest way to boost your conversion rate is to make the sales process as easy as possible. Make sure the email you send directs customers to a page that is as close to the checkout as possible. You don’t want customers abandoning their carts because the process is too much of a hassle.

Use targeted lists to ensure you’re sending the right information to the right people, the more your readers want what you’re sending, the better chance you have to convert them.

Unsubscribe rates

Average: Less than .50%

Definition: This is the number of people who remove themselves from your email list.

Nobody likes to see a customer go, but it happens. As long as your unsubscribe rate stays below .50 percent, you’re doing well. MarketingProfs, a research site, says the average unsubscribe rate is .25, but keeping it under .50 is a good goal to set.

Tips to keep unsubscribes low

To keep customers on your email list, don’t waste their time, says Lundstrom. Again, it goes back to value. Make sure every email is important to your customer. With every email you build trust, which is tough to gain and easy to lose if you’re sending subpar emails.

And be sure to mail on a regular basis, at least once per month, to keep your business fresh in your readers minds and to help them remember why they’re getting your email.

Of course, every small business and their list is different. But these benchmarks could be just what you need to keep your email marketing efforts on track.

This post contributed by guest author, Lisa Furgison. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content.

 Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Gauge Email Responses appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

What’s New With Google, March 2014 [VIDEO]

Mon, 03/31/2014 - 06:00

We just returned from SMX West, a search conference in San Jose, CA and came back with some breaking news from Google. The biggest news came from Matt Cutts of Google, who stated that there is a new generation Panda algorithm update in the works that will help small businesses. Matt didn’t give an exact date of when this update would be released, but he did say it will be a bigger update and also described it as “softer”. As a small business you can prepare yourself by creating great content and setting up your Google+ Authorship. If you noticed a dip in traffic during the first Panda update, you might be in for some traffic recovery.

The next big news is that Google took manual action (read: penalized) against a well known guest blogging “network” called MyBlogGuest. Guest blogging has been in the Google crosshairs for a while which has caused a heated debate between SEOs and Google. Google took action against MyBlogGuest and several of its members, both guest bloggers and publishers. There was a very interesting and detailed discussion on, if you want to read more.  Our advice is if you have done guest blogging and/or published any guest post, add the rel=”nofollow” to any outbound links in the guest blogger’s post. If you wanted to be extra safe, we would recommend submitting any domains you wrote guest blog posts for to the Google Disavow Tool, please note this tool is dangerous, so please use responsibly.

To learn more, check out Chipper’s newest episode of What’s New with Google below:

© 2014, VR Marketing 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’s New With Google, March 2014 [VIDEO] appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

How to Effectively Use Facebook Ads + Email

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 16:56

On the last day of Social Media Marketing World, Facebook continues to be one of the most popular trending topics of discussion. With plummeting organic reach, continuous algorithm changes and the necessary realization that you have to “pay to play,” Facebook is on everyone’s brain. A common theme amongst speakers at the conference in response to Facebook backlash: Don’t build on rented land. With that, Amy Porterfield, Social Media Marketing World Speaker, strategist and co-author of the book, Facebook Marketing All-In-One for Dummies, says we all need to have a major mindset shift.

“People don’t like Facebook right now. Facebook isn’t free anymore and it changes all the time,” says Porterfield. “Gone are the days when you could post on your page without a strategy. But we need a mindset shift. If you start to look at Facebook differently, you’ll make big strides. I challenge you to have a mindset shift that Facebook is now an investment, and if you’re open to Facebook ads in a new way, you’ll get excited about what you can do.”

Porterfield then walked the audience members through her personal Facebook ad strategy that she says generates at least $1,000 per every $200 Facebook ad spend.

Gain Engagement

“Here’s how Facebook algorithm actually works,” says Porterfield. “If you’re not in the news feed, people aren’t seeing your posts.” Porterfield suggests posting to Facebook 2-5 times a day, however you can post more or less depending on whether your audience is engaging with them. “It’s not how often you’re posting, it’s what people are doing with your posts.”

Only about 1-2 percent of Facebook page fans see your posts and only a few of them may actually engage. Porterfield says she understands why people are so frustrated. “This isn’t going to go away,” she says. “So we need to be smarter.”

How does Facebook determine engagement? Likes, comments, shares and clicks.

The more engagement you get on your posts, the more likely they’ll appear in the newsfeed. Porterfield emphasized that in order to gain engagement, we need to post more “native posts,” that are non-intrusive and show our fans we’re “one of them.” Posts that are “all about you” won’t garner many clicks, Porterfield states. “Know your audience’s trigger points, let them behind the scenes,” Porterfield says. “In the next 24 hours, check out your last 10 Facebook posts. Do they interrupt or join in?”

Have a Strategy
Here’s Porterfield’s strategy for a creating a successful Facebook ad + email:

A) Create an irresistible giveaway or offer. The giveaway should be whatever your audience will love and will work for your business, states Porterfield. In her example, she used a 60-minute live webinar.
B) Create an opt-in/lead page. Like Melanie Duncan, Porterfield is a huge proponent of using LeadPages to create compelling opt-in pages.
C) Set up a targeted unpublished news feed Facebook ad for that giveaway.
D) Deliver the goods aka the offer. Porterfield suggests teaching a lot for free and selling a little. She gives a live 60-minute webinar for free, and then plugs a $97 item at the end of her webinar. “I definitely sell because I’ve earned it,” says Porterfield, “But you also have to give your audience what they want.”
E) Follow up with a series of emails. “Deliver the giveaway and use email marketing to seal the deal,” says Porterfield.

Use Facebook Graph Search
“It’s important for one main reason,” says Porterfield. “To find out where your audience is spending time on Facebook.” Porterfield suggests using the Facebook Graph search function to find the pages that your audience members like and engage with. How? Simply type in the search box, “Pages liked by [your business name or competitor here] fans” – or – “Pages liked by people who like [your biz name here or competitor business name here] – or- “Favorite interests of people who like…” This will give you similar pages, competitors and interests of your fans or people you’d like to target that you’ll want to jot down. You’ll then use this valuable information later when creating a Facebook ad.

“This is so powerful because this is where you’re going to target your ads,” says Porterfield. “Don’t skip this step.”

Create Facebook Ads
Porterfield highly suggests creating unpublished news feed ads (which you can do in the Power Editor dashboard) because everything is clickable, customizable, there aren’t light boxes, the image is large enough to grab attention, and you can change the call to actions. Your unpublished news feed ad should advertise your giveaway, then link to an opt-in form and/or lead page, which will grow and build your email list in the process.

Porterfield’s Pro tips:

  • For the crispest imagery in your newsfeed ad, use the following dimensions and file for saving your ad: 1200×627 PNG
  • When choosing placement options for your ad, only place it in the news feed.
  • Under “Interests,” you want to type in all of those pages and interests you looked up while conducting a graph search (see above). Your ad will then target fans that like similar pages to your own or your competitors’ pages.
  • Target your ad to 175K to 1 million people. “If you’re a local business,” says Porterfield, “It’s [wide-spread reach] not going to happen, so don’t worry about it.”

These are Porterfield’s guidelines for what to expect to spend on a $97 Facebook ad:

1) From fan to lead: $1-$5
2) From non-fan to lead: $3-$8 – “It’s cheaper to advertise to your own fan base,” Porterfield says.
3) From lead to customer: $10-$30. Example: $200 on ads = 10 sales = $20/customer
4) Daily spend: $50 ($10 a day is an option)

Follow up with Email
Porterfield strongly suggests, “sealing the deal” with email. After you’ve created your Facebook ad, gained sign-ups/opt-ins and delivered your giveaway, don’t stop there! Follow up with emails thanking attendees or sign-ups, and other emails. Porterfield says after a webinar, she emails attendees or sign ups up to 5 times after the webinar has happened (but no more than once a week). She sends two emails with a replay of the webinar, a “last chance” email to view the webinar before she takes it off of her website, and another if the recipient hasn’t responded or purchased.

Should you only send emails about promotions or offers? “The more you give your audience something that’s not around an offer, but they find valuable, they more they’ll trust you. Get that value out there,” Porterfield says. If you’re only sending promotional offers, your efforts may be wasted. “When they’re not interested buying, they’ll never look at your emails.”

Have you tried any of these tactics? Let us know in the comments!

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Effectively Use Facebook Ads + Email appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

3 Steps to Building Your Email List with Pinterest

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 07:00

The second annual Social Media Marketing World presented by Social Media Examiner is officially in full swing. More than 2,000 attendees are soaking up community management, content, and social media marketing strategies, tips and trends. One of this year’s hottest topics? Pinterest, the visually appealing photo pin board social site. As Michael Stelzner, founder and CEO of Social Media Examiner stated in his keynote speech, “Visuals are a huge deal people. The brain can process an image 500x faster than text. The faster people can see it, the faster they’ll share it.” According to Stelzner’s recent 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, more than 70% of marketers plan on increasing their original visual assets.

Melanie Duncan, owner of the online training program, Entrepreneuress Academy, and online business owner of Luxury Monograms, Complete Apparel Solutions and, knows a thing or two about Pinterest. She drives thousands of visitors to her site and gains a tremendous number of email subscribers purely from Pinterest. “When we use social with email marketing, this is where we really see the most direct result in revenue.” Duncan says. As one of Social Media Marketing World’s presenters, Duncan gave a packed room of entrepreneurs and small business owners her 3-step system to building your email list via Pinterest:

1. Create an offering
It might seem simple, but Duncan says to create an offering, pin it, and lead people from that pin to an email opt-in form on your website.”In exchange for their name and email, you give them a gift,” Duncan says. So what types of offerings should you create and pin? Here are a few ideas:

  • Coupon codes
  • Ebooks
  • Checklists – Duncan says checklists are particularly effective on Pinterest.
  • Guides
  • Video series – If you’re camera shy, Duncan says to use ScreenFlow for a Mac or Camtasia for a PC 
  • Online trainings
  • Google Hangouts – You don’t have to sign up for a Google hangout, but create a sign up page for it anyway!
  • Webinars

What about blog posts? Duncan says that if you’re leading readers to a blog post, ensure that your blog is also optimized for email sign ups and your sign up call to action should appear at the top, side or bottom of your posts.

2. Have a nicely designed landing/opt-in page
A compelling opt-in and/or landing page is key to gaining sign ups. “The opt-in page is a hurdle for most people,” Duncan says. But you don’t have to be a tech-whiz to make an opt-in or landing page look good. Her favorite tool, which doesn’t require coding knowledge: Leadpages – software that allows you to create appealing, mobile responsive landing, launch, sale, conversion opt-in pages and more. Duncan also says to make the landing page or opt-in form and the pin as visually consistent as possible – Use similar colors, visuals, fonts and images.

Bonus tip: Include a disclaimer (ex: “Don’t worry, we don’t spam and your info will never be shared.”) on your opt-in form to ensure people of the safety of their email address and information. “A disclaimer significantly increases sign ups!” Duncan says. “Make them feel as comfortable and confident as possible.”

3. Pin it
Pinning images is obvious, but there’s more to it than simply clicking the “pin it” button:

A. Upload your own content
Did you know you could upload your own content and images on Pinterest? “Creating a visual for your information to share is an important part of the process,” Duncan says. She highly recommends this, especially for those who offer services or run non-product based businesses. And, don’t forget to include a source link. Duncan also has a list of her favorite tools for creating your own images:

  • PicMonkey – A free online photo editor
  • Box Shot King – Allows you to upload images and project them onto eBook covers – No design experience necessary!
  • Placeit  – Allows you to insert images, videos, checklists, etc. onto images of computer screens, mobile phones, iPads, etc.

B. Have a stellar pin caption/description
Pinterest isn’t just about posting photos. Taking advantage of the caption is also vital to leading Pinterest fans back to your website and opt-in form. “Include a call to action in the caption such as, click here, repin this, comment below,” Duncan says. Also be sure to include a link within your caption, as Pinterest will automatically hyperlink it. “Hardly anyone does this!” says Duncan. “This works really well and it doubles the amount of ways to get traffic.”

C. Repin your own pins
“Can you do this?” an audience member asked. “Absolutely,” Duncan says. “The majority of people who log on to Pinterest only look at their news feed and miss out if they don’t happen to log in at the time you posted something… Take your most successful content and repin it.” Deleting the previous pin is completely A-okay in Duncan’s book, especially since it doesn’t break any links. “Don’t pin the same thing more than once a week,” Duncan advises. She also recommends repining something at a different time and day of the week.

D. Maintain robust boards
“Have at least 5 boards, 6 is great, and no less than 10 pins per board. This is not a golden rule, but you want your boards to look like they have enough value, so when someone comes to your page, they’re interested in following you,” Duncan says. Her advice for building up quality boards: Create secret boards, pin at least 10 things in each board, and when they’reP hearty enough, make them public so they’re ready for the world. How much is too much? “40 boards with 2-3 pins,” Duncan says. “This is the most common mistake I see.”

Have any thoughts or additional tips to add to Duncan’s Pinterest email list building tips? Share with us!

Want more marketing tips and tactics? Sign up for the free VR Buzz.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 Steps to Building Your Email List with Pinterest appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.

The 9 Emails Your Business Should Be Sending [Guide]

Fri, 03/28/2014 - 06:00

If you want take your email marketing to a new level, we’ve put together nine emails your business should send on a regular basis. We’ll tell you the purpose of each email and the type of businesses that can benefit from it. We’ll also tell you, on a scale of 1 to 5, the difficulty level for each email. The closer the number is to 5, the more effort it takes. Plus, we give you three tips to create each email.

1. Promotional Email

Purpose: To promote a product or service, usually to entice customers to make a purchase.
Business that would benefit: Every business.
Difficulty level: 1. Promotional emails are short and sweet. You might want to create a special graphic, otherwise, it’s not a time consuming process.

Three tips to create a Promotional Email:
  • Make the offer clear - Your customers may not take the time to read your email, but if you have a clear offer that’s front-and-center, they can’t neglect it, says marketer Anthony Kirlew with AKA Internet Marketing. In the promotional email below, there is no question what the deal is.
  • Create a sense of urgency – Give customers a reason to act quickly, rather than let the email sit in their inbox. Create a sense of urgency with your promotion. In the example above, the dates of the promotion are apparent. Use active language, too. For instance, “Shop now.”
  • Keep it short - Promotional emails don’t require a lot of explanation. State the deal, tell customers how to redeem it and when the deal expires. No need for a lot of flowery words. Take a look at the example below. In less than 45 words, the retailer sums up the deal.
2. New Inventory Email

Purpose: To let your customers know about new items. It falls under the promotional email umbrella. You’re updating customers, but also hoping for a sale.
Business that would benefit: Any business can tell customers about a new item in stock. Fashion and retail businesses may get the most bang for their buck.
Difficulty level: 2. Time is spent taking a good picture of the new product, but it doesn’t require a lot of text.

Three tips to create a New Inventory Email:
  • Send the email out as soon as the item arrives – As soon as you have the inventory in stock, create the email and hit send. This shows you’re on top of new trends and want your customers to have the latest, greatest items available.
  • Take a killer picture – You don’t have to get artsy, but you do need to showcase your new item. In fact, these types of emails are more about the photo than text. Take the email below, for example. It’s all about the picture. In just 17 words, Coach gets its point across.
  • Convey the point in your subject line You know subject lines can determine whether or not your customer opens your email, and this email is no different. Be sure to tell your customers that you’ve got something new and fun for them to check out. Redbox does this with a simple subject line, “This week’s new releases,” in the example below.

3.  Newsletter Email

Purpose: To inform customers about company news, improve brand awareness and build a relationship with your core audience.
Business that would benefit: Every business.
Difficulty level: 3. It takes a bit of time to create a solid newsletter, but it’s a valuable marketing tool.

Three tips to create a Newsletter Email:
  • A newsletter doesn’t mean long format Break the copy in your newsletter into short, digestible and actionable sections of content, copy, images and calls to action.
  • Create an easy-on-the-eyes design Think of your newsletter like a mini-newspaper. You want clear lines and divisions between your content. Take a look at the example below. See how clean it looks? You want a simple layout with basic fonts. Don’t go crazy with the color scheme, either.
  • Include your contact information in the newsletter You always want your contact information in an easy-to-find area on the newsletter. The purpose of your newsletter isn’t necessarily to sell, but if your customers are inspired to reach out to you because of the newsletter, you want them to be able to find you, Kirlew says. Note the contact buttons on the newsletter below.
Tips for newsletter content

1. The content should be useful to readers Every piece of information included in your newsletter should have value. You want your customers to learn something about your business and come to rely on you for industry information.

2. Send your newsletter on a consistent basis You want your customers to look forward to your newsletter. To do that, you have to be consistent. Send a newsletter on the last day of the month, or on the 15th of each month. Whatever you decide, stick to it.

4. Welcome Email

Purpose: To welcome new email subscribers to the family and establish a good relationship.
Business that would benefit: Every business.
Difficulty level: 2. Creating the email doesn’t take long, but you need to know when a new customer signs up.

Three tips to create a Welcome Email:
  • Write in a conversational tone A Welcome Email is like a virtual handshake that accepts a new member to your group. It should be inviting and warm. Show the personal side of your business, says Noah Parsons, a marketer with Palo Alto Software. Take a look at the email below. The letter format feels welcoming and it has a nice tone.
  • Consider offering a reward In celebration of a new customer, you could offer a discount or some sort of perk. You could offer 15 percent off the next purchase like REI did in the example above, or offer another perk like free shipping.
  • Remind new users about the benefits Thank your new customers for signing up and reinforce their decision to join. Tell readers what they’ll get out of this new partnership. The email below does exactly that.
5. Product Advice Email

Purpose: To offer your customers advice on how to get the most from your business or product. At the same time, you establish your authority in the industry.
Business that would benefit: Every business.
Difficulty level: 3. This kind of email is has more information, so your time will go toward writing and proofreading.

Three tips to create a Product Advice Email:
  • Create valuable content – The key to this kind of email is to offer tips that your customers want to read. Help solve problems they may have or obstacles they may need to overcome. Or, offer tips to help your customers use and maintain your product or service. If you sell cameras, send an email that teaches customers how to use certain features. If you sell bathroom fixtures, include installation tips. Whatever your business is, create an email that gives your customers a helping hand. Swap Couture, a website where members swap designer purses, sends emails to its customers about how to care for designer bags. Take a look at the example below.
  • Proofread – No matter what email you send, you should proofread it several times. Read it from the bottom up so your brain isn’t reading words that aren’t there. Then, have someone else read it. Take it through an error-check process before sending. Nothing cuts your credibility like misspellings and grammatical errors.
  • Focus on customer service – Emails that offer product tips should also showcase your commitment to customer service. Emails like this tell customers, “We’re here for you.” Follow through with that message by adding contact information to the email. The email below, for example, offers tips to wear a certain piece of clothing, but you’ll also notice there is a “contact us” option in the top right corner.
6. Educational Email

Purpose: To provide customers with industry knowledge that’s connected to your business or product. It helps build relationships and trust between your business and your customers.
Business that would benefit: Every business.
Difficulty level: 3. It takes time to brainstorm ideas and to create a sharp email.

Three tips to create an Educational Email:
  •  Offer relevant content - When you send an educational email, you’re trying to build a relationship with your customers. The best way to do that is to teach them something. However, you want to teach them something that has a connection to your business. For instance,, the job search site, sends its customers information about life in the workplace. An example is below.

  • Consider offering bite-sized information - Take a cue from the email above and write bite-sized pieces of information in the article; let your customers decide if they want to read more. The “Read more” link takes your customer to your blog for the full article. It’s a great way to engage with customers via email and boost blog traffic.
  • Add a mini-promotion – You can add a promotional element to this kind of email, but it shouldn’t be the main attraction. For example, Lumosity, the brain game site, offers an educational article as the main feature, but notice a promotion on the right side for a family membership. It’s subtle and simple.
7. Reorder Email

Purpose: To remind customers that it’s time to reorder a certain product.
Business that would benefit: Any business that sells products or services needed on a regular basis. Examples include products like printer cartridges, contacts, pet medications and vitamins.
Difficulty level: 3. Basic text and images are needed.

Three tips to create a Reorder Email:

  • Clear call to action - The purpose of a reorder email is to encourage your customers to replenish your product or perhaps renew a subscription for a service. You want to make the buying process as simple as possible. To do so, create a simple, easy-to-find button that says, “Reorder now.” For instance, in the example below, customers can reorder pet medication from Pet Wellbeing.
  • Remind customers of the value – In the email, tell your customers why reordering is a good idea. Maybe it’s to keep vital pet medications on hand, or to avoid the hassle of running out of toner at the office. You could also offer a discount to those who reorder within a certain time frame.
  • Mention past purchases – If you want, you can mention in the email what your customer purchased in the past, so they can reorder the same thing. The pet supply store below does this for its customers. It’s a nice addition to the email, but you can send it without this information.
8. Testimonial Email

Purpose: To reinforce how valuable your business or product is through customer feedback.
Business that would benefit: Every business.
Difficulty level: 4. It takes a bit of time to collect testimonials. You may need to be persistent to get customers to give them to you.

Three tips to create a Testimonial Email:
  • Create a sleek design – Email design elements are important with testimonial emails. You want something that’s eye-catching and easy to read. Take a look at the example below. This retailer put together four quotes from happy customers and highlighted the product, too. It’s a win-win. Both the accolades and the products are showcased well in this simple design.

  • Include an image – If you sell tangible items like clothing, using pictures of shirts and dresses makes sense. But that doesn’t work for every business. Take a medical clinic, for example, or a sanitation company. What image do you use in these cases? If you need a powerful image, ask the customer who gave the testimonial for a picture. Take a look at the example below. The customer’s picture is what makes the email work.

  • Offer more information – A testimonial is great, but you should offer your customers a next step. For example, in the email above, customers can read more testimonials by clicking on the text. You could offer a link for others to leave feedback, or a link to other uplifting company news.


9. Survey Email

Purpose: To collect helpful information you can use to improve the customer experience.
Businesses that would benefit: Any business looking to better itself.
Difficulty level: 4. You’ll have to spend time creating the survey and writing an email with a link to the survey.

Three tips to create a Survey Email:
  • Explain what’s in it for them – If you want a customer to take the time to fill out a survey, you need to give them a reason. In the example below from Software Advice, participants are entered to win an iPad.

  • Address the purpose of the survey - Besides an incentive to fill out the survey, you should tell your customers why you want the information. Whether you’re trying to improve your business or conducting product research, which is the case in the example above, let your customers know the purpose of the survey.
  • Make the survey easy to access - There should be an obvious, clickable link to the survey. Take a look at the example below. Notice the links to the survey are clear buttons on the left and also in red text at the bottom of the email.

Two tips to create a useful survey
Before you send the email out, you’ll need to create the survey. To help you create a useful survey, here are a few tips:

1. Ask the right questions
Make sure the questions you ask will yield helpful results, says, Victoria Garment with Software Advice. Stay on topic and reword questions, if necessary, to make sure they are understandable.

2. Keep it short
If a customer gets bored with your survey, they’ll stop filling it out. Aim for a five-minute survey to ensure customers make it to the end, suggests Garment.

We hope this guide catapults your email marketing to new heights. As always, you can depend on VerticalResponse to be your one-stop-shop for marketing products and information.


This guide written by Lisa Furgison for VerticalResponse. Furgison is a media maven with ten years of journalism experience and a passion for creating top-notch content. This guide edited and produced in full by VerticalResponse.

© 2014, VR Marketing 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 9 Emails Your Business Should Be Sending [Guide] appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.