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Posts Tagged ‘Email marketing’


Small Biz Resource Tip: Constant Contact

November 23rd, 2010 :: mhaubrich

ConstantContact.com

Contemplating creating an e-mail marketing program, an e-newsletter or a social marketing campaign? Constant Contact is one of the leading online marketing solution companies and for a very low monthly cost allows you to create e-mail newsletters and updates, online surveys and more. You can even send marketing e-mails from your smartphone. Try Constant Contact’s free 60-day trial offer and create an e-newsletter for your customers from one of the many templates. E-mail address can be stored directly at Constant Contact. Want to discuss your needs with someone in person? The company has representatives all over the country.

10 Cost Effective Ways to Market Your Business, Part 2

July 14th, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

In my previous blog post, 10 Cost Effective Ways to Market Your Business, Part 1, I shared 5 tips for marketing that require little more than time.  I learned all of this valuable information I’m now sharing with you in a webinar (of the same name) sponsored by the American Marketing Association.  In fact, the webinar was so packed with great information that it’s taking me two blog posts to share everything.  Without further ado, here are tips 5 through 1.

5. Tap Into the Power of Google

The omniscient, omnipresent Google has some great tools you can use to strengthen your marketing efforts.  Look up the hot topics of the day via Google Trends.  Is there something being discussed that you can address in your promotions?   Use Google Insights to find out what key terms are being searched for the most; apply your findings to your SEO efforts.

4. Database Driven Email Marketing

When I hear the word database, I am almost immediately lulled to sleep.  For me, the word “database” means boring (too closely related to, gag, math), but in the case of email marketing, it means clever.  Instead of always looking for new customers, tap into the relationship you already have with your existing customers by using your CMS (customer management system) as the basis for a plan to upsell and/or cross sell to them.

3. It’s An Offer You Can’t Refuse

Never underestimate the alluring power of a limited offer. It could be exclusive to select customers, available for a limited time, include a special feature, or a sneak peek at a new product or service a week ahead of the official launch date.   

2.  Is Your Signature Working For You?

If the signature in your email messages does not include your website address, phone number, title, and links to your blog and social media profiles, go fix it.

And the #1 most cost-effective way to market your business:

Interact with your customers!

Yes, it’s a no-brainer, but are you doing it?  Solicit feedback on a continual basis via a virtual suggestion box and short surveys.  Build loyalty with contests, promotions, and events and case studies.  Co-present a webinar or seminar with a partner or customer.  And be sure your company’s phone number is prominently placed on your website!  No one can call if you if they can’t find your number!

How to Make E-Mail Marketing Core to Inbound Marketing Success

April 16th, 2010 :: Steven Fisher

We have all used e-mail in some capacity for our online communications, almost all have received emails promoting something and many of you reading this have used e-mail to market a product or service.

There are great e-mail marketing companies like Network SolutionsConstant Contact, MailChimpCampaign Monitor and Blue Sky Factory to name a few. There are many others so we are not recommending a particular one, only to let you know that you can find one that serves your needs and your price point. These days, they all address the needs of social media and as in my interview with John Arnold of Constant Contact, John says “Share, is the new Forward button”.

Power of e-Mail in Your Inbound Marketing Efforts

You might think that e-mail is an old technology and not part of this “inbound marketing” thing but you would be wrong. In fact, it is one of the most important components you can have in your inbound marketing strategy. One of the core things you can do as a small business is create an e-mail newsletter. It could contain products you sell, knowledge you have or things you have found across the web. Whatever it is, Monika Jansen, one of our talented writers here at GrowSmartBusiness, mapped out eight great ways to have a stellar e-mail newsletter and they are:

  1. Send it to the right people. Know who your audience is (hint, it is not everyone in your address book!).  Unless you put together a solid list of people who would find your newsletter useful, few people will read it.  Keep in mind that whether you use Network SolutionsConstant ContactVertical Response, or someone else, you cannot buy a list and use it with their programs.
  2. Keep it short. Just like with blogs, no one has time to read a long article, let alone several long articles.  Include one article/topic of no more than 300 words.  If there is more information to share on that topic, write about it in your next e-newsletter or provide a hyperlink to your website in case readers would like to learn more.
  3. Make it easy to pass along. Be sure it’s easy for people to forward and subscribe to your newsletter.  Email marketing programs provide ways to do this in their templates.  Use them!  Remember, the more readers the better!
  4. Include graphics. Photos, illustrations, even charts or graphs will make your newsletter more interesting to read and look at.  Just be sure they are relevant to your topic.  I like to pull photos off of Flickr for this blog (type in Creative Commons in the Advanced Search box—you can use any of those photos), but most email marketing programs allow you to use photos in their gallery (you’ll have to pay for that feature). Be sure you give the photographer or artist credit for the graphic you are using.
  5. Use your logo and your logo/company colors. This is just good branding.  You want your readers to recognize your newsletter as yours.
  6. Keep format and delivery timetable consistent. People like consistency.  If you’re going to share a tip, an interview with a client, or a coupon, do it in every newsletter.  Figure out a delivery timetable and email your newsletter out around the same time, whether it’s every month, every other week, or every week.
  7. Let content build on previous topics. This will keep readers eager to hear what else you have to say on a subject, and it’s easier for you—you don’t have to keep thinking up new topics.
  8. Use attention-grabbing subject lines. The subject line that shows up in your readers’ inboxes must be intriguing.  It can be witty, sarcastic, silly, a little out-there, whatever.  It just needs to be compelling enough to get your reader to click on it.

Making E-Mail the Center of Your Inbound Marketing Hub

Here is the beauty of e-mail marketing as the center of your inbound marketing hub. Follow me on this one…

  • Use web site, Facebook Fan Page, and every other place to sign people up on newsletter
  • Make blog e-mail enabled for people that want that kind of delivery
  • Use e-mail delivery to bring people back using various promotions you can track
  • Enable social media sharing tools so readers can spread the word
  • Measure, Rinse, Repeat

On a related note, Amy Garland over at Blue Sky Factory wrote about e-mail and inbound marketing last year and has great advice on three question you need to ask first so you can effectively run an e-mail marketing campaign.

Are You Using E-Mail In Your Inbound Marketing Efforts

Are you currently using e-mail in your inbound marketing efforts? What do you find to be successful? Any best practices or lessons learned? Please leave a comment.

Pass It Along: 8 Tips for a Successful E-Newsletter

February 22nd, 2010 :: Monika Jansen

From cocolinda on Flickr

Like blog writing, e-newsletters can be really fun to write while at the same time being a great way to position you or your company as a thought leader.  Make them entertaining, keep them filled with useful content, and give them personality, and you will attract eager readers. 

OK, that last statement was a little disingenuous.  It’s not really that easy.  There are several other things that go into a successful e-newsletter.  (By successful, I mean one that is not only read by people but that also drives traffic to your website.)

Here are 8 quick tips to help you put together a successful e-newsletter: 

  1. Send it to the right people.  Know who your audience is (hint, it is not everyone in your address book!).  Unless you put together a solid list of people who would find your newsletter useful, few people will read it.  Keep in mind that whether you use Network Solutions, Constant Contact, Vertical Response, or someone else, you cannot buy a list and use it with their programs.  
  2.  Keep it short.  Just like with blogs, no one has time to read a long article, let alone several long articles.  Include one article/topic of no more than 300 words.  If there is more information to share on that topic, write about it in your next e-newsletter or provide a hyperlink to your website in case readers would like to learn more. 
  3. Make it easy to pass along.  Be sure it’s easy for people to forward and subscribe to your newsletter.  Email marketing programs provide ways to do this in their templates.  Use them!  Remember, the more readers the better!
  4.  Include graphics.  Photos, illustrations, even charts or graphs will make your newsletter more interesting to read and look at.  Just be sure they are relevant to your topic.  I like to pull photos off of Flickr for this blog (type in Creative Commons in the Advanced Search box—you can use any of those photos), but most email marketing programs allow you to use photos in their gallery (you’ll have to pay for that feature). Be sure you give the photographer or artist credit for the graphic you are using.
  5. Use your logo and your logo/company colors.  This is just good branding.  You want your readers to recognize your newsletter as yours.
  6. Keep format and delivery timetable consistent.  People like consistency.  If you’re going to share a tip, an interview with a client, or a coupon, do it in every newsletter.  Figure out a delivery timetable and email your newsletter out around the same time, whether it’s every month, every other week, or every week.    
  7. Let content build on previous topics.  This will keep readers eager to hear what else you have to say on a subject, and it’s easier for you—you don’t have to keep thinking up new topics. 
  8. Use attention-grabbing subject lines.  The subject line that shows up in your readers’ inboxes must be intriguing.  It can be witty, sarcastic, silly, a little out-there, whatever.  It just needs to be compelling enough to get your reader to click on it. 

Choosing Newsletter Software for Your Business

February 16th, 2010 :: Thursday Bram

Email newsletters have become a standard marketing tool, and for good reason: compared to any sort of print marketing materials, an email newsletter is cheap to produce. Just how effective an email newsletter is can depend, but if you put together a newsletter that your readers (and clients) can look forward to, it can lead to significant sales. But without the right tools, it doesn’t matter how cheap or how effective your newsletters are. If you choose the wrong software, your newsletters will never even arrive.

The Dilemma of Spam

There are incredibly inexpensive newsletter software options available online, offering to send out your newsletters for only a few dollars each month. But it’s worth paying a little more, rather than going for the cheapest option out there: many of those inexpensive options have so many spam complaints against them that any newsletter they send out for you won’t reach your readers’ inboxes. Because those email marketing tools have a bad reputation with most email providers, they’ve effectively been blacklisted.

The price of those more expensive and more reliable newsletter tools won’t break the bank: Constant Contact offers plans starting at $15 per month, still far below what you might pay in postage alone if you were to send a print newsletter. Furthermore, higher quality email marketing tools make an effort to police newsletters and reduce spam, therefore reducing the chances that a reader might think your newsletter is spam. Other popular tools that fall into this category include MailChimpAweber and our partner, Constant Contact.

The Right Features

Different newsletter tools offer different features: depending on what your goals are with your newsletter — beyond simply making sales, of course — you may need specific features. Those might include any of the following:

  • Integration with your CRM tools
  • Newsletter design
  • Reports on who has opened your newsletters
  • Double opt-in registration
  • Templates for different types of newsletters

It’s crucial to make sure that the software you choose to manage your newsletter has all the features you expect to need from the get go. Moving a mailing list from one tool to another is difficult, and you’ll often lose subscribers in the process, especially if you choose an email marketing tool that requires opt-in from your readers (a technique used to minimize spam complaints).

If you aren’t sure what option is best for you, it’s worth considering who will be doing most of the work on the newsletter. Working with a freelance writer or other professional who specializes in email newsletters can make sense and that approach lets you get the matter off your desk and out of your way. If you choose to outsource your newsletter, it may make sense to consult with your freelancer on what software she would recommend and would prefer to work with. If you’re going to handle the details of your newsletter yourself, it may be worthwhile to take the different tools out there for a test drive, so that you can see which is easiest for you to use. Most email marketing tools now offer a free trial that will allow you to do just that.

If you want to try a 60-day free trial of Constant Contact check out our Network Solutions-Constant Contact partnership.

Image by Stock.xchng user Arroba

Leveraging the Power of Email Marketing for your Small Business – A #GrowSmartBiz Interview with John Arnold of Constant Contact

November 4th, 2009 :: Steven Fisher

Constant Contact Logo

John Arnold has had many roles in his nearly four years with Constant Contact. For those of you not familiar with Constant Contact, it is an email marketing company that has been at the forefront of the email marketing industry for over 10 years. Many of you out there might have done an email marketing campaign while those who are new entrepreneurs this might be a thing you have heard of but don’t know much about it.

John Arnold HeadshotJohn is the author of E-Mail Marketing for Dummies and co-author of the comprehensive desk reference Web Marketing All-In-One for Dummies. John is presently the Director of Training and Certification. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with him and talk with him about Constant Contact and email marketing trends. Here is a transcript of that interview:

Steve: John, Constant Contact has been around for over 10 years and as email marketing has evolved do you think that social media has been the biggest shift in online communications?

John: Clearly social media is getting a lot of attention from marketers, and I think it’s a good idea to be aware of the possibilities and make a few moves. A very small percentage of consumers consider social media to be their primary form of communication, however. As with any emerging trend, it’s important to be involved, but as a small business you can’t afford to bet the farm on new forms of communication before majority adoption. Email is still the best choice for small businesses. Good marketing relies on evolution, not revolution.

Steve: Email marketing has evolved to include social media tools. You say that “Share This” is the new “Forward” button. What kind of advantages do these capabilities provide small businesses?

John: This is a perfect example of evolution in marketing. When you send an email, there are only three possible positive outcomes. Your audience can respond to your call to action immediately, they can save it for later, or they can share it with someone they know. Putting a “share this” button in your emails allows your recipients to easily post the emails they want to share to any social media site. This is better than forwarding because the content lives on and reaches beyond the inbox without the need to overhaul the way your business communicates.

Steve: You have been with Constant Contact for almost four years and have been know for starting up new divisions within the company. Your new initiative is Training and Certification. What is it and what is your role?

John: Constant Contact believes that if we help our customers to grow their businesses, they will reward us by being customers for a long time. This attitude extends to our products because we only develop product features that we believe will help our customers grow. This attitude also extends to our education services because we know that our customers are usually very smart and good at running their businesses, but they need help learning how to be good at marketing. Constant Contact has education services that include a distance-learning center, local seminars, hands-on product training, and certification training. My job is to develop new training and certification programs that help make our customers and business partners more successful.

Steve: Since this is about teaching the customer and empowering them, what would you ultimately like to see small businesses get from Constant Contact?

John: We want small business owners to adopt our success formula because we know it works. Constant Contact is a small business success story. The company started in an attic with only three people and zero customers and used the principles we teach to grow into a market leader and a public company. I believe that small businesses make our lives better. They drive our country and our economy. I’ll never rest as long as there are small business owners struggling to find success.

Steve: To wrap up I always like to ask a “five things” questions. So for you, what are five things a small business should do when starting an email campaign?

John: 1. Have a plan for multiple communications and a measurable objective. When you send an email, the majority of your audience will not be ready to buy for one reason or another. You’ll have to communicate an average of 7 times to get a sale so you need to plan 7-10 communications that fit together and keep people interested during the buying cycle.

2. Send to a permission-based list. People don’t like to receive emails from total strangers. In fact, they hate it and last time I checked hate is not one of the buying emotions. It doesn’t matter what you think the law says or what your ethics tell you because your audience doesn’t care what the law says or what you think about business ethics. They can also ruin your ability to deliver emails by marking your emails as spam and putting your business on a block-list. Just make sure your emails are wanted and expected by your audience before you send and you’ll avoid most negative responses.

3. Send valuable information. There are two types of value in emails. The first is inherent value and it includes things like tips, articles, expertise, opinions, entertainment, and other content that make the email valuable in and of itself. The other type of value is valuable offers or content that is valuable if the person receiving the email takes action. Valuable offers include discounts, coupons, incentives, special privileges, giveaways, and so on. I suggest an 80/20 rule when developing email content. 80% of your email content – over the course of many emails – should be inherently valuable, and no more than 20% should be promotional.

4. Track your results. Email is one of the most trackable forms of marketing. If you use an email service like Constant Contact, you’ll get a tracking report for every email you send that tells you which emails bounced and why the bounced, who viewed the images in the email, which links they clicked in the email, who forwarded the email, and who wants to be taken off your list. You can use this information for targeted follow up and to refine your strategy.

5. Remember that marketing is about people. Always remember that marketing isn’t a technology game, it’s a people game. Don’t get caught in a feature race trying to adopt new technologies before you have a handle on the effect on your customers and your business. I never want to be the first person to adopt a new technology and I never want to be the last. I recommend you test before you invest.

Email Marketing and You: So Happy Together

August 10th, 2009 :: Monika Jansen

This post is contributed by one our our Grow Smart Business Expert Network members, Monika Jansen. Monika is Principal of Jansen Communications, is a marketing communications consultant with over ten years of marketing and corporate communications experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors.

So… marketing.  It can be the equivalent of a four letter word for those of us without huge marketing budgets or a dedicated marketing department full of gung-ho, seasoned professionals.  Who has the time, the energy, or expertise to put together a well-rounded marketing program and then continually tweak it?

The truth is, you don’t need a lot of money, a lot of time, or an entire group of people devoted to marketing to effectively promote your business.

So where to begin.  You have a website, right?  OK, good.  It’s amazing how many small businesses don’t, because that’s the easiest way to level the playing field between you and the big guys.  Have you thought about starting a FaceBook page for your business, joining the Twitter bandwagon, uploading audio or video files to a MySpace page, or starting an e-newsletter and/or a blog?  Great!  Have you done any of those things yet?  Why not?  Oh, yeah, time.

Well, no need to do everything at once, right?  Let’s talk about getting an email marketing program set up, aka, an e-newsletter.  As a consultant, this is one of my favorite tools to use on behalf of my clients.  It’s easy to set up a template, fill it with content, and send it off.   Trust me, it really is easy.  I use Constant Contact, love it, and recommend it.  Ask for Brett Lemoine.  He’s super cool, friendly, helpful, and very responsive.

There are three keys to a good e-newsletter: a healthy number of viable, active email addresses; a catchy subject line, and interesting content.

1. All legitimate email marketing campaigns should be permission-based.  Meaning, don’t buy a list.  Your email will look like spam, and sending out unwanted emails to people you don’t know could very well tarnish your reputation and diminish your brand.   Always send to people you know and always offer an option to unsubscribe.

2. If you want people to read your e-newsletter, don’t title it “August 2009 Newsletter from ABC Clothing, Inc.”  Doesn’t sound very interesting, and the delete button is right there.  Click, it’s gone.  Go for something that’s a little zingy.  How about “Ten Trends to Try This Fall”?  Or “Rejuvenate Your Wardrobe For Under $150″?  Or “Exclusive Trunk Show with Oscar de la Renta”?  They’ll definitely read that last one.  At least, I would.

3. Interesting content that keeps your readers engaged to the very end can be hard to think up sometimes, but it shouldn’t.  Talk briefly about your company’s news, fun projects you just completed that could be relevant to your readers, sales, promotions, or new products.  But also include useful information related to your industry.  If you’re a banker, talk about interest rates and credit scores.  If you’re a landscaper, include tips on dealing with deer.  If you’re a caterer, include a list of produce that is in season that month.

Three other small things I should mention before I go: ask someone to proofread the newsletter before you send it out.  Sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s worth repeating.  Don’t think your e-newsletter should be long.  If you can read it in under five minutes, it’s the right length.  And last but not least, include graphics or photos if you can.  They make a big difference.

ABOUT THIS GROW SMART BUSINESS CONTRIBUTOR:

P1020924Monika Jansen, Principal of Jansen Communications, is a marketing communications consultant with over ten years of marketing and corporate communications experience in both the for-profit and non-profit sectors.   As a consultant, she works closely with her clients to put together marketing communications programs that combine integrated online strategies with traditional marketing tools.   Her expertise includes branding, corporate communications, website content, email marketing, social networking and blogs, sales collateral, grant writing, and annual reports.