5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Email Newsletters

Email Newsletter Tips

Email Newsletter TipsNewsletters are just one of the many forms of email marketing that keep interested individuals and customers engaged with your business. You can provide information, delight readers, encourage them to take a certain action and so much more. Email newsletter writing does take time and effort, so you want to be sure that what you get out is worth what you put in. In this post we’ll go over some email newsletter tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your email marketing campaigns and to get the results you want.

Be Dependable

Great content is nothing without reliable delivery. Being dependable in your email newsletters is important for maintaining your readership and building trust.

Set a Schedule

To be dependable in your email newsletters, create and stick to a set schedule for sending out your newsletter. This gives your readers a sense of predictability and anticipation for the next email. Readers can’t get excited about or look forward to something that they don’t know is going to happen. When readers have at least a ballpark idea of when they’ll get your email, they’ll be more likely to remember and look forward to it.

Maintain Consistency

Another way to show dependability is to be consistent with your voice and brand. Be sure to use the style and tone that resonates with your target audience, and to maintain that tone so they can familiarize themselves with and come to love your brand. People, in general, don’t really like change. Deviating from your brand voice can cause disappointment and confusion in your audience and take away from the impact of your email newsletters.

Keep Your Email Newsletters Simple

Oftentimes, less is more. Read on to understand how this tip relates to email newsletters.
Narrow Your Focus
The more information you give, the more people you can appeal to, right? Not necessarily. You don’t have to try to cater to everyone. In fact, you shouldn’t try to cater to everyone. Focus only on satisfying your target audience or even a niche within your audience—those most interested in your business, products, and services.

Don’t Dive Deep

iYou don’t have to spell out everything in painstaking detail. Doing so can actually be a bore or even overwhelm your audience. If you make it a habit to dish out more than your audience can chew, so to speak, you could stop them from reading your content altogether.

You can cover a lot of different topics in your newsletter, but go over them briefly and provide links for readers to learn more. This grants readers some control, and more of a “choose your own adventure” experience of presenting information they can pick and choose from according to their preferences.

Whatever your newsletter content consists of, keep it short and sweet. The key is to make it easy and enjoyable to read. Plus, sometimes it’s what you don’t say that encourages curious people to engage further with your business to learn more.

Encourage Action

You can’t get your curious readers to engage further if you don’t tell them how to do it, which leads to our next email newsletter tip.

Use Calls to Action

If you want to make the most of your time and effort spent on email newsletters, using calls to action cannot be stressed enough. Calls to action boost engagement, and more engagement means more emotional — and even tangible — attachment to your business.

Call to Action Phrases

Remember: calls to action don’t have to be fancy buttons. Of course visually appealing CTA buttons are effective, but calls to action take the form of phrases too. For example, if you are providing links to more details on the content in various topics, simple call to action phrases like “click here to learn more” or “RSVP here” will work just fine.

Drive More than Just Email Goals

Encouraging action may boost engagement and build your relationship with your target audience, but putting strategic calls to action in your email newsletters can also drive your other specific marketing goals, such as increasing traffic to your website or even getting more free consultations.

Measure and Modify

Like any marketing, email marketing should involve experimentation and metrics. You’re not going to get everyone to open, read, and engage with your email newsletters, and that is okay. You can’t control the behavior of your audience, but you can use their behavior to increase the performance and benefits of your marketing emails in the future. For example, you could divide your list into two and test out two different approaches or structures for your newsletter. Your next newsletter can then be adapted from the higher performing one.

Another strategy you might try is to send a follow up to your email newsletter. Create one email catered to those who didn’t open your last newsletter, and one catered to those who did. This way, you can potentially re-engage your dormant readers, while at the same time further engaging your interested readers.

Promote Your Newsletter

Sometimes the best way to get people to take an action is to simply ask them to. Often, businesses don’t think to promote their email newsletters in the same way they promote their business blog or other content.

You can’t assume that people know about and will automatically subscribe to your newsletter on their own. Include email signup calls to action on your website pages, through social media, and even at your physical location. Ideally, you can place the signup in context that conveys to the reader what they will get out of it if they subscribe.

These email newsletter tips seem simple, right? That’s because they are. To get the most from your newsletters you don’t need to do anything extra special or labor-intensive. The finished product doesn’t even have to be perfect…if there is such a thing. Just stick to the basics. Be a dependable and consistent source of information, focus on the interests and needs of your readers specifically, keep it simple, and give your readers the right amount of opportunities to engage Follow through and stick to the tried and true best practices above, and you’ll see that your readership, and your reputation will only grow stronger.

Examples of Niche Markets and Businesses

Examples of Niche Markets and Businesses

Examples of Niche Markets and BusinessesNiche marketing is the fine-tuning of your marketing to focus on a specific demographic of customers and/or products and services you offer. More simply put, it means a business is choosing to play to its strengths and highlight them for the people with whom it will resonate the most. Niche marketing affords many benefits, but finding your niche market isn’t always easy. In fact, you don’t always “find” your niche market. Sometimes it finds you. In this post we’ll go over some examples of niche markets to help you start thinking about what a niche strategy might look like for your business.

Why Niche Marketing?

Finding and catering to your niche market can help your business growth in many ways. By specializing in a particular product, service, or market, you effectively distinguish your business from its competitors. Another nifty thing that niche marketing can do is help you to get the most bang for the buck for your sometimes limited marketing budget.

Knowing that you need to make every marketing dollar count, niche marketing can help you to abide by the Pareto Principle, better known as the 80/20 rule.  This theory purports that roughly 80% of your results will come from just 20% of your efforts. When applied to marketing in general, that means 80% of your efforts are not directly tied to your results. In other words, less is more, and this is where niche marketing comes in.

Examples of Niche Markets

Narrowing your focus and not trying to be all things to all people can help you establish a stronger business reputation. With this strategy, you can become THE expert and attract more profitable customers to your business. Here are some more specific examples of several small businesses and their niche markets:

Law Firm Niches

•  Single dads in Northern California.
•  Car accident victims in Phoenix.
•  Coal miners with mesothelioma.

Personal Trainer Niches

•  New and expecting mothers in the suburbs.
•  Military/police programs candidates.
•  Triathletes attempting to qualify for Ironman events.

Physical Therapist Niches

•  Runners recovering from panthers fasciitis.
•  Stroke victims who have lost mobility and motor skills.
•  First-responders with work-related back injuries.

Home Repair Niches

•  Retirees who need ADA-compliant renovations.
•  House flippers in Central Ohio.
•  People who live in neighborhoods over 30 years old.

Catering Niches

•  Parents of kids with an upcoming Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
•  Retail employers with more than 10 employees at/around the mall.
•  Working moms with school-age children.

Computer Security Niches

•  Victims of identity theft.
•  Parents of teenagers getting their first cell phone.
•  Baby boomers learning computer skills.

Examples of Niche Businesses

By embracing a niche marketing strategy you can get your business to stand out above competitors who are taking a more general approach to marketing. Niche marketing involves targeting a specific demographic, where you might have several products or services that are beneficial for that particular group. However it can also involve providing a specific product or service, from which a broader market might benefit. In this case, you might consider your business to be niche more so than your market. For example:

•  CPAs who do taxes for the self-employed.
•  Law firms that specialize in family law only.
•  Hair salon that only does blowouts, no cuts.
•  Dog training for older or formerly abused dogs.

Finding Your Niche

To find your niche market, think about what you’re best at, what you enjoy doing most for your clients, and the clients you enjoy most. Your niche market can find your business, you could stumble upon your niche, or you could choose a specialty and make it work. Having a firm grasp on the primary goods and services that you provide, and the different segments of your audience will help you to hone your strategy. Don’t be afraid to experiment either. Experimentation is the key to learning, which is the key to growth.

 

How to Understand Your Customers’ Decision-Making Process

How to Understand Your Customer's Decision-Making Process

How to Understand Your Customer's Decision-Making Process

Did you know that the average consumer travels through a predictable decision-making process before they buy a product or service? This path has general commonalities across industries and audiences, but understanding the particular buying process for your target audience is important for growing your business. In this post we’ll cover the general customer decision-making process for consumers, as well as how to identify the more specific journey taken by your customers.

The Buyer Journey

The consumer decision-making process is known as the buyer’s journey, and it consists of three main stages:

•  Stage 1: The customer becomes aware of a need or problem.
•  Stage 2: The customer considers the products or services available to resolve their problem.
•  Stage 3: The customer decides to purchase the product or service that offers the best solution.

All three of these stages afford you opportunities to guide new customers to your business. Before we consider some relevant marketing tactics for each of these stages, let’s take a closer look at what’s happening during each phase of the buyer’s journey.

Stage 1 – Recognizing a Need

The buying process is triggered when your potential customer recognizes that they need something, or that they have a problem that requires solving. This could involve anything from wanting to replace a worn-out pair of sneakers, to wondering where they should go for their next vacation.

It’s worth noting that some buyers will not realize they need what you sell until after they’ve been exposed to it. Never underestimate the power of attracting new visitors to your website.

Stage 2 – Gathering of Information

How does your business rank for online keyword searches? Once they realize they need something, most customers-in-the-making set out to obtain it—and that usually means gathering information through Google. This stage of the buying process can involve comparing products or services based on:

• Pricing
• Quality
• Location
• Suitability, and
• Convenience

Google research leads buyers to all of your various marketing channels, including your business website,  online review sitesbusiness directories, and more. This means you should not only get listed and update your listings, but also optimize your website for search terms that potential customers are using in their research.

Stage 3 – Resolving the Problem

After they’ve identified their options and done the proper research and comparing, buyers are primed and ready to decide on who will best fix their predicament. Hopefully, if your company’s marketing efforts have reached and resonated with them, that decision will include making a purchase from you!

Marketing Throughout The Buyer Journey

There are many effective marketing tactics that will help you to impact every stage of the consumer buying decision process. Here are a few to consider:

Start with a Buyer Persona

To make the most of the buyer’s journey where your specific customers are concerned, it’s important to create a buyer persona for your business. A buyer persona is essentially a fictional character who accurately represents your typical customer. This character embodies the common traits of your clients, including but not limited to:

• Demographics, profession, or income
• Lifestyle or location,
• Hobbies, goals, or interests,
• Shopping preferences

Having a buyer persona helps you to target your marketing efforts at each stage of your buyer’s journey by aligning with their specific needs, problems, preferences, and more. Depending on the size of your business and the range of goods or services you sell, you may need a single buyer persona, or multiple versions that describe the different groups of people who tend to buy from you.

SEO Your Website

Improving your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the best ways to attract visitors to your site, where you can:
• Raise awareness of your business
• Provide information about your products and services to aid consumer research
Generate valuable leads to extend your marketing reach
• Facilitate customer purchases, and
• Provide the customer service options that encourage repeat business

Make sure your company is taking full advantage of this cost-effective method for influencing the buyer’s journey at every step of the way, but especially with gathering information.

Offer Live Chat

Offering live chat services on your website is a great way to help potential customers find the answers they need during the information gathering phase of their buying journey. Simply put, live chat lets buyers achieve their goals with less hassle, and as a real-time interactive tool, it can also play an important role in everything from assisting with online transactions, to providing post-purchase product and service support.

Get Involved with Social Media

Social media isn’t just a lifestyle staple – it’s an effective marketing device that can drive recognition of what your business does. Beyond generating awareness, an active social media presence can also influence consumer research and the final buying decision.

Social media sites are the ideal platform for posting shareable content that’s relevant to your customers’ buying journey, for encouraging word-of-mouth advertising from satisfied users, and for driving traffic to your lead-generating website and landing pages.

Continue the Conversation with Retargeting

With a bit of computer code and a few browser cookies, retargeting lets you keep your business front and center in the mind of potential customers. Attention spans can be short as consumers search for the ideal solutions to their problems, but by subtly reminding previous website visitors that your business may have exactly what they need, you can increase your exposure and improve your chances of making a sale.

Show Your Stuff with Display Ads

Visually appealing display or banner ads are yet another effective route to targeting interested clients on their way to a buying decision.  Display ads get strategically placed on sites most likely to be visited by your target audience, and as such, they can:
• Generate awareness about your company
• Draw new visitors to your website, and
• Put your business in front of consumers who may already be searching for you

The Buyer Journey Doesn’t Have to End

Remember: the buyer journey doesn’t have to have an end. Converting a shopper into a customer opens up a new chapter for their journey, of becoming repeat customers, loyal customers, and even brand evangelists. In today’s review-driven world, positive feedback can go a long, long way toward the continued success of your business.Providing a positive experience and excellent service is paramount to impacting your customers’ decision-making process and extending their pleasant and gratifying buyer journey.

How to Outrank your Competitors on Google

How to Outrank Your Competitors on Google

How to Outrank Your Competitors on GoogleEffective marketing isn’t just about showing the value of your business. It’s also about distinguishing yourself from your competitors, and helping buyers to confidently choose you over your competitors. There are many ways to stand out above your competition, but one of the most successful ways of doing so is to literally get above them on search engine results pages, on Google in particular. In this post we’ll go over the three main channels for outranking your competitors on Google, so you can get a leg up on your competitors.

Understand Google to Outrank on Google

Getting on the first page of Google is one of the best things you can do for your business—aside from outranking your competitors there as well. Yet in order to outrank your competitors on Google, you must first understand the layout of Google search results. When a user types a query into the search bar, three different types of results show up: paid, organic, and local results:

•  Paid search results are those which show up at the very top and very bottom of your results.
•  Organic search results appear in between paid results.
•  Local search results appear between the top paid results and organic results.

Your best bet in outranking your competitors on Google is in using all three channels.

Outrank your Competitors in Google Organic Search

Outranking your competitors on Google is most effective when it occurs on the first page of results. Why? Let’s take a look at the stats: Only 10% of users actually look past the first page of results for their search. In addition, the top three organic results on a results page capture 61.5% of clicks.

This means that if you are result #4 and your competitor is in the top three results, they are getting anywhere from 3-25% more clicks than you, at the bare minimum. To outrank your competitors on Google, you must stay on top of search engine optimization (SEO). It’s not just a matter of doing a run through of your website and doing your basic SEO practices once. You need to:

•  Consistently add fresh, quality content optimized for search (which is why you should have a business blog).
•  Update homepage and product pages as needed.
•  Work on getting more high-quality backlinks to your site.

Keep Conversion in Mind

While the first page is the most important, it’s also important to pay attention to the specific pages on which you are striving to outrank your competitors. Getting more clicks to your website than them will help to improve your SEO over theirs, and will help with brand awareness. Ultimately, however, you want to focus on outranking your competitors on Google for search terms that bring new customers—and not just visitors—to your site. To rank on the right pages, be sure to:

•  Use local keywords.
•  Perform keyword research for your industry/target audience.
•  Check your website analytics to see which terms are bringing visitors to your site.

Google Isn’t Everything

Outranking your competitors on the right pages of Google will help with an increase in qualified traffic, but this doesn’t necessitate more customers. Your website must be optimized for conversion if you want to benefit from outranking your competitors, and if you want to further outrank them. To optimize your website for conversion, be sure to implement such best practices as:

•  Product or service-specific landing pages.
•  Call to action phrases and buttons.
•  Simple and intuitive navigation.

Outrank your Competitors on Google Paid Search (Adwords)

Improving your organic rankings yields great results over the long run, but is also a long-term strategy. Paid search ads, or SEM campaigns, are a great way to get some visibility fast while you’re building up your organic repertoire.

Get at the Top of the Page

As mentioned above, the top three results of Google searches get 61.5% of clicks. However, the top three organic results are not physically the top three results of a Google search results page. At the very top and very bottom are paid listings: those which are relevant to a search but whose position was purchased through pay-per-click advertising (aka search engine marketing).

While organic results the most sustainable route to success on Google, there is something to be said about the very first result you see in a list. Use SEM to get your business at the top of Google and to secure the spotlight.

Find the Right Balance

It’s important to note that SEM campaigns aren’t a matter of tossing in your money and then waiting to show up first. Paid search results are determined by a similar algorithm as organic search, but with monetary factors involved as well. In order to outrank your competitors on Google through paid search advertising, you must be SEM savvy. This means knowing how to adjust the multiple factors that affect SEM success, including:

•  Budget: daily budget, campaign budget, cost per click, cost per lead
•  Targeting: who and where your audience is located
•  Content: keywords, negative keywords, ad copy, landing page copy.

Check out this post for more savvy SEM tips.

Outrank Your Competitors on Google Maps

What a lot of businesses don’t realize is that search engine optimization on Google involves Google Maps too. If you have a Google My Business account, Google will use its data on your business and its pages to rank you in its local results. This is especially important for local businesses—not just to help you get noticed above other local competitors, but also to help your target audience members find you over national/franchise competitors.
To outrank your competitors on Google Maps, make sure to:

• Create a Google My Business account
• Keep your Google listing up to date, accurate, and consistent
• Use a local phone number
• Embed the Google maps location of your business on oyur website contact us page
• Encourage reviews- the more buzz there is about yourbusiness, the higher you will rank.
• Add photos to make your listing more attractive to users

Get Online Reviews

In addition to optimizing your organic, paid, and maps listings on Google, be sure to get your business listed in online directories and review sites. The greater your online presence and the more positive reviews you can get from customers, the more Google will recognize that it can trust you. Trust is a huge factor in Google rankings, so do make use of online business directories to get the extra advantage over your competitors. These include but are not limited to:

•  Yelp
•  Bing Local
•  Yahoo Local
•  Superpages
•  Angie’s List
•  Houzz

Buyers today have so many businesses to choose from and so much access to online research. Become the choice that stands out to them and capitalize on their online usage to get ahead and stay ahead of your competition.

Tips for Maintaining Brand Consistency

Keeping Brand Consistency

Keeping Brand Consistency

With so many different avenues to promote, represent, express, and display your small business, it can be easy for various aspects of your marketing to take on their own unique profiles. However, the key to maximizing the impact of your marketing strategies is to maintain consistency across all channels. In this post we’ll go over how to maintain brand consistency so that you can strengthen your reputation, build your audience, and grow your business.

The Importance of Consistency

Consistency is an essential aspect of marketing. We use various tactics for various marketing goals. There are advertisements, pamphlets, events, social media campaigns, landing pages, and more. There is brand awareness, lead generation, website traffic, and beyond. At the end of the day, you want all of these tactics to be working together and facilitating one another. At the core of this integrated system is brand consistency. By keeping your image and messaging consistent, you can:

Be Memorable

Consistency facilitates memory, allowing potential customers to remember your business when they need it.

Get Recognized

Consistency and recognition go hand in hand. The more familiar a potential customer is with your brand, the more they will trust you. Trust is at the core of business growth.

Build Your Reputation

When people are able to recognize and recall your business, this means they have created “a file” in their brain for your business, making it easier for them to collect, process, and store information about you and better understand your reputation.

Stand Out from Your Competitors

If potential clients and customers can distinguish your name and logo from your competitors, they are more likely to connect with you for their needs.

Tips for Keeping Your Brand Consistent

Now that you understand the importance of brand consistency, let’s go over some actionable steps you can take to ensure your business marketing forms a coherent system.

Establish Your Message

Make sure you know exactly what your message is so that you have a common thread throughout all of your content. Every business needs a message. This is the means by which you stand apart from your competitors and connect with your audience. Your message needs to be very specific and should answer these questions:

• What is the mission of your business?
• What is the specific problem you solve?
• What is unique about your solution?
• What are your core values?
• What are the core values of your customers?
• What is unique about your customers?

Your brand message is not just a way of reaching your potential customers, but of connecting with them in a meaningful way. To come up with your message, write out the answers to the above questions and see if you can find any common themes and keywords.

Identify Your Brand Voice

You can think about the look and feel of your brand as a reflection of your messaging, and the voice as a more of a direct communicator of it. Your company should have a personality, and it should appeal to certain personalities. With the right language and tone, you can rest assured that what you are saying to your audience is how it is heard. Make sure you identify what your voice is so that it aligns with your messaging and stays consistent across all platforms, from printed flyers to digital ads, social media posts, and event invites.

Create a Visual Library

To keep brand consistency, all of your visual and design elements should always be the same, such as your logo, typeface, colors and graphic style. These are your constants. If you are a DIY marketer, make sure that as you create different forms of content, you save your images and files as templates along the way. Better yet, create a library ahead of time if you can, of logos and graphics of various types (black and white, color, different sizes, etc). Not only will this improve your brand consistency, it will prevent you from cluttering up your computer with duplicates and multiple files, and save you the time of fishing through folders and recreating visuals.

Repurpose and Repeat

It’s important to keep your audience engaged with interesting, relevant, and high-quality content, but this doesn’t mean that you have to put out unique information every time you post on social media, update your website pages, or publish a blog post. There are many ways to convey the same message without sounding like a broken record, and many forms of presenting the material that appeals to different senses.

Promote the same eBook across social media channels and email marketing campaigns. Write a blog post that goes into further detail about the benefits of one of your products or services. If your product or service saves people time, you can create blog content around increasing productivity. Repeating and repurposing information is not the same as being redundant. Presenting closely related (if not the same) information repeatedly, in different formats and across different channels, is the key to developing your brand and keeping it consistent.

Use Social Media Profiles

Visual marketing is a big part of building your brand, and aside from your website, social media profiles are a great way to grow your visual image. Your Facebook business page and timeline, Twitter profile and feed, and Instagram feed should all contain profile and cover photo images that align with your branding. They should either be identical or be recognizable as part of the same “family”. This will ensure your brand is recognizable no matter where customers see it, and that they feel connected with your brand even while switching from platform to platform.

Standardizing your brand helps maintain consumer trust. When customers become familiar with a business because of its identifiable messaging and visuals, they create positive associations with that business and can remember it more easily. Follow these simple rules in order to keep a harmonious image and gain more business.

7 Strategies for Generating Leads Offline

Generating Leads Offline

Generating Leads OfflineIn today’s digital age, it’s absolutely necessary to know how to generate leads for your business online.  However, this doesn’t mean you should completely replace all of your offline marketing strategies with digital. In fact, offline marketing is still a great way to generate leads and obtain new customers—especially for local businesses. Read on to learn some tips and tactics for generating leads offline.

Tips for Generating Leads Offline

Before getting into methods of offline lead generation, it’s important to remember that this type of marketing will likely still involve online tactics. Below are two important tips for generating leads offline.

Combine

When it comes to deciding whether to use online or offline methods to generate leads, you do not need to pick one or the other.

Offline and online lead generation strategies often overlap and are complementary to one another. For example, you might use an event (offline) at your business location to capture leads with an email signup list, yet many of your attendees may be there because you effectively promoted the event via social media and an email marketing campaign (online).

Employing a range of strategies to generate leads will allow you to find the right mix of techniques that will be effective for your particular business and industry.

Track

Tracking in marketing is commonly associated with online strategies, but you can (and should) also track your offline lead generation. Your offline marketing strategies will ultimately direct people to your business website or other online channel, or prompt them to call your business. Tracked phone numbers and tracked links enable you to use phone numbers or URLS that are unique to each of your offline campaigns (such as a billboard, a brochure, or a flyer in a neighboring store). This way, you can see exactly where your offline leads are coming from.

7 Methods of Generating Leads Online

Offline lead generation is by no means obsolete. The digital world may be powerful, but at the end of the day, exist in a physical world where there is power in face-to-face interaction and things we can physically hold in our hands. Here are seven effective methods of generating leads online.

1. Direct Mail

People still love to get mail—of course not bills or junk mail, but visually appealing and pleasant mail. A well-designed postcard or care package that is properly targeted can pay some big dividends. Be sure to assign any offers or promotions you advertise in this manner a unique promo code so you can track how your prospect or customer found you.

As many businesses have abandoned the mailbox for the email inbox, you also might find direct mail as a way to stand out from your competitors. Be sure to use a graphic designer or even helpful online tools to make sure your mailer will capture people’s attention while also reinforcing your brand image.

2. Print Ads

Another effective form of offline lead generation is print ads, such as in newspapers, magazines, or other publications. People are inundated by screens all day. Many still subscribe to printed publications, as it’s refreshing to flip through pages and hold something in their hands. If your target audience contains readers of this sort, this is a great channel for getting in front of them.

To find the right publications for your print ads, consider the volume and frequency of distribution, the characteristics of their readers, and of course the pricing. As with direct mail, be sure to have a professional layout and design your ad. This may cost a bit more than doing it yourself, but will yield better results and a better return on your investment.

3. Hosting Events

Giving people a reason to come to your brick and mortar location is a great way to generate offline leads and attract new prospects. It may also aid in building your company’s reputation in the community. Product demonstrations or expert talks can help to get current customers and new prospects into your space. You know your customers and what they are interested in, so be sure to create events that will be most engaging and appealing.

4. Sponsoring Events

For most businesses, their product or service can be associated with or complimentary to certain events. For example, a local cycling shop would be a perfect fit to be a sponsor of a local race. As a sponsor they would have to ability for prominent signage as well as a presence at the event where employees could display products and interact with attendees. Look for the events in your community that your target audience may attend in large numbers, and you may find yourself an effective means of offline lead generation.

5. Inbound Phone Calls

Calling is a way of generating leads offline, but can be initiated through both offline and online channels. For example, you can put your phone number on car wraps, physical flyers, brochures, and handouts. You can also display your phone number on your website, landing pages, emails and other marketing pieces. Smartphone users are not only using their devices to research products and services, they might even make a phone call with them as well. Utilize click-to-call buttons to capitalize on your prospects’ immediate interest and give them an option to talk to a live person right away.

6. Outbound Sales Reach Outs

Cold calling people who have never shown an interest in your product or service can not only come across and annoying and intrusive, but it also has a very low conversion rate. This strategy will be much more effective with lists of leads that you have generated yourself through other offline and online techniques. Someone will be more responsive to your call if they have previously engaged with your brand by filling out a form, downloading a piece of content, or conversed with you on your website’s live chat platform.

7. Networking With People at Events

Pressing the flesh and meeting people face-to-face is a powerful opportunity to make a lasting impression and expedite the customer/prospect relationship. Industry trade shows are target-rich environments to connect with a large number of new potential prospects in a short amount of time. Exhibiting at one of these events should yield a significant list of active prospects that you can begin to nurture and follow-up with in the days and weeks afterward.

Businesses that have chosen to ignore or abandon offline marketing strategies are missing out. Digital strategies may put you on the cutting edge, but good old fashioned marketing techniques have certainly not lost their flavor.

Promotional Merchandise: Why and How to Use Company Swag

Promotional Merchandise Company Swag Advantages Tips

Promotional Merchandise Company Swag Advantages TipsPromotional merchandise, also known as swag, is everywhere: on pens, magnets, key chains, mugs, frisbees, backpacks, T-shirts, and the list goes on. Even though promotional items are in such abundance—and may not always be the highest quality—the value of promotional items is not to be discounted.When used properly, promotional merchandise will do its job of increasing brand awareness. Read on to learn about what effective promotional merchandising can do for your business, and how to do it right.

Advantages of Swag Marketing

Below are some advantages of marketing your business with branded swag.

Promotional Items are Appealing

One of the simplest advantages of marketing with company swag is that it can help you to immediately connect with your audience. Receiving a free item that is of use to a person is appealing and involves minimal risk, so you are likely to get a lot of engagement.

It’s important to note that lowering the risk of interacting with your business may encourage more engagement, but not necessarily meaningful engagement. The tips section below will go over how to be more strategic with your swag.

Swag Can Increase Your Brand Recognition

Humans gravitate toward that which is familiar to them, sometimes even subconsciously. When deciding between one business or another, having merely seen a company’s name a few times more than your competitors‘ might make all the difference.

Company swag, whether it’s on a book bag or flash drive, is a great way to increase familiarity with your brand. The more items circulating that have your business name or logo, the more people can come to recognize your brand.

Swag Wearers Will Promote Your Business

Promotional merchandise can go on just about anything—travel mugs, T-shirts, handbags, frisbees, you name it. When people sport your swag and carry it around with them, they become mini-marketers promoting your business.

Word of Mouth Works

Promotional merchandise can be seen as a form of word of mouth marketing, a great way to get more customers and strengthen your business reputation. Customers and supporters of your business can sometimes be just as effective, if not more, in promoting your business. This is because people trust what others (even total strangers) have to say about businesses (online reviews are evidence of this).

Also, when people promote your business in this manner, there’s nothing in it for them. They don’t get any commission or revenue if someone else becomes a customer, so their efforts are automatically seen as genuine—no matter how genuine or reputable your business may be.

Promotional Items Can Facilitate Low-Cost Marketing

As mentioned above, it’s important to familiarize people with your business, to increase the likelihood they choose you over your competition. There are many ways to drive this goal: for example, display advertising is a way to increase the number of eyes that see your brand, even if they don’t click on your ad. Yet display advertising is a form of paid advertising, and you may not have the budget or the familiarity with online advertising to do it effectively.

Promotional merchandise is an easy and low-cost approach to increasing brand awareness. Buying your items in bulk enables you to reach more people at a lower price.

Swag Makes for Creative Marketing

Company swag provides a creative and refreshing alternative to traditional offline forms of lead generation such as business cards or flyers. Of course, business cards are a necessity for any business, but how many times or how long after the card is first seen does it get seen again? More times than not they get put in a drawer or glove compartment and forgotten. Fortunately, promotional merchandise can act as a business card while being used every day.

Tips for Using Promotional Merchandise

Promotional merchandise can give your business an edge by acting as an affordable and effective marketing tool. However, the effectiveness your branded items depends on a variety of factors. To help make the most of your merchandise, here are a few tips to think about.

Set a Swag Budget

Even though promotional merchandising is seen as a low-cost marketing strategy, you should still be conscious of cost. Before settling on your swag, determine what you can afford, and think about the return you’re expecting on your investment. Careful consideration can help you to stay realistic about how swag fits in with your greater marketing budget.

Cater Your Swag to Your Audience

Promotional merchandise can effectively reach your target audience, as long as it caters to their behaviors. There are endless possibilities for items to brand, but it’s important to put yourself in the shoes of your ideal customers. If you own a sporting goods store and your target audience is young athletes, giving away water bottles or sweatbands will be more effective than notepads and pens. If you’re a financial advisor, a notepad and pen or travel mug might be best.

Relate Swag to Events

Swag can be given out on-site with certain purchases or free for the taking for anyone who walks in the door. Swag is also commonly given out at events. When using it in this manner, be sure to match your swag with the event you are sponsoring or participating in. For example, if it’s a local charity in the summer, sweatbands or frisbees are a great idea. Sweatshirts? Not so much. Everyone likes a nice hoodie, but if it has to be stuffed away somewhere for use at a later time, the purpose of your swag has been defeated. If it’s a winter convention, sunglasses are not the best, even if you have a box leftover from last year’s barbecue.

The purpose of swag is to provide not just something that potential customers can take with them, but something they can and want to use, either now or in the near future.

Promotional merchandise is an easy and cost effective way of boosting brand awareness and getting your name out there. If your merchandise is simple and immediately useful, your business will be naturally marketed by people in their daily lives. Try getting some swag made up for your business event or promotion, and get more people in your target audience to choose you over your competitors.

What to Put in Your Email Newsletters

What to Put In Your Email Newsletters (2)

What to Put In Your Email Newsletters (1)Email marketing is still highly effective for businesses of any size. Email newsletters, in particular, provide a great vehicle for your company to get up close and personal with customers and prospects. Unlike the content on your website, a newsletter lets your small business connect with readers in real-time, and in much the same way that a trusted friend might do. To create an ongoing bond with your contacts, it’s important for your marketing email newsletter to be informative, without sounding like a plug for your business.

Remember, relationships are a two-way street, and nothing will encourage your readers to unsubscribe faster than an email message that’s all about you!

Email Newsletter Basics

Company updates are great, but you should also get in the habit of using email newsletters to offer your readers something a little more actionable – whether that something takes the form of:

• News about upcoming promotions and special events
• Links to blog posts your clients might find useful, or
• Subscriber-exclusive deals that will call your readers to action

All in all, your email newsletter should be brief but have value, and should leave your readers wanting more. If you’re wondering what to put in your email newsletters, read on for a more in-depth look at each of these email newsletter elements.

Company News

Readers appreciate being kept in the loop. As such, current and newsworthy updates about your company or trade will be right at home in your company’s email newsletters. Company news may include:

• Launching a new product or service
• Welcoming a new employee
• Opening up another location
• Achieving a new milestone or fundraising goal

Blog Posts

There are lots of options when it comes to using your business blog in your email bulletins. You can:

• Provide links to interesting blog posts that are already on your website
• Summarize relevant blog content for your readers
• Create entirely new posts specifically for your newsletters

You may find that one, two, or all three of these strategies works. Don’t be afraid to try out different combinations. After all, experimentation is an email marketing campaign best practice that will help you get best results.

Events & Recaps

Events are a great way to generate leads and increase brand awareness, but not just during the event itself! Properly promoting your event beforehand and afterward is key to maximizing the success of your event marketing. Events include:
• In-store or online sales
• Exclusive to loyal customers or open to your community
• Educational events like in-person seminars or online webinars.
• Fundraising or charity events

Tell your readers about these events in your newsletters! If you’re excited about the event, your target audience will be too. If you recap the event, your readers will get to see what missed out on (and why they should come to the next one!) Maximize attendance, expand your reach, and generate more leads out of your events by incorporating them into your email newsletters.

Important tip: No matter the event, don’t forget the photos. When it comes to an effective email newsletter, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Upcoming Promotions and Subscriber Exclusive Deals

What customer wouldn’t want the chance to save on a product or service that’s already of interest to them? It won’t come off as marketing rhetoric if you use your newsletters to let readers know about sales, deals, or other promotions that might be of benefit to them. Subscriber-exclusive deals are also a great way to incentivize emore email sign-ups and for current subscribers to stick with you.

Links and Calls To Action

An exciting call to action is one of the best ways to keep subscribers on board and engaged with your email newsletters. For the various elements of your email newsletter, use call to action phrases and buttons to show readers how to learn more and engage with your business. You might use calls to action in for:

• Redeeming coupons, discounts, or other offers
• Downloading an eBook or other guide
• Clicking on a link to a blog post or landing page
• Checking out an album on one of your social media accounts
• Visiting a page on your business website

Email newsletter calls to action are key to online lead generation, and can support a variety of digital marketing goals. Just be sure not to overwhelm your readers with too many options.

Other Content to Put in Your Email Newsletters

Here are some other types of content you can include in your email newsletters that your subscribers may find appealing.

Checklists and How-To’s

Providing a valuable resource that’s designed to be used today, or referred to later, can benefit your email marketing. If they’re detailed enough, some companies turn checklists and how-to guides into call to action offers, but this isn’t necessary. You can include simpler versions of these. Think vacation packing lists, how to prepare your car for winter, gift guides for family and friends, and the like.

As an alternative, you could also make these resources available by providing links that will take your readers directly to where they’re located on your website.

FAQs

If your business gets frequent queries on the phone or through live chat, why not consider addressing some of these in your emails? You can include answers to one or more FAQs as a regular newsletter feature, or design entire blog posts around the questions you hear most often.

Surveys and Results

The only thing people love more than quick, online surveys, is the chance to find out how their responses compare with others. Consider including short, fun questionnaires in your email newsletters, and unveiling the results to readers in follow-up bulletins.

Success Stories

You just have to look at what gets shared online to know that people love positive news. Has your business made an impact by helping the local community? Do you have a customer who struggled to overcome a personal challenge, and went on to achieve success? Your newsletter is the ideal platform for sharing the kind of success stories that inspire and motivate readers.
As a final word on what to put in your company’s email newsletters, remember that people like to stay informed, be heard, and be guided. Make sure you provide information that is important to them, use their feedback to dictate future newsletters, and also keep your messaging and calls to action clear so as to help them engage with your business in a meaningful way.

How to Generate Leads Online

How to Generate Leads Online

How to Generate Leads OnlineEvery business needs to generate leads on an ongoing basis to maintain a healthy funnel and customer base. In the good ‘ol days of business marketing, everything was done offline. Today, with the tips, tools, and technology for digital marketing more widely available, the ability to generate leads online is more important than ever. Read on to learn how to use online channels to reach new prospects and generate leads for your business.

Online vs Offline Leads

This post may be about how to generate leads online, but not because leads generated offline are of any less value. There are many ways to generate high quality leads offline—so many, in fact, that offline lead generation will get its own blog post.

Keep in mind also that online and offline methods of generating leads can compliment one another, so an integrated and overlapping mix of strategies is important. For this post, we’ll go over lead generating activities that could go into your online marketing bucket.

How to Generate Online Leads

As mentioned above, there is an overwhelming number of ways to generate leads online. Below are six methods that can be used by any business to get the job done.

Use Your Business Blog to Get Leads

In addition to establishing you and your brand as a thought leader in your industry, business blogs also provide excellent opportunities to generate online leads. Place calls to action in the body of your articles, or on a sidebar, top bar, or footer. Calling your readers to action at a time when you are providing something of value to them makes them more likely to become leads.

Rather than creating a button that leads to a landing page with a form, you can also put short and simple forms right on the page, so that people can quickly submit their information and become a lead.

Leverage High-Quality Gated Content for Leads

The key to making gated content an effective online lead generator is quality. Provide your readers a free and valuable resource that will compel them to provide their email address or some other form of contact information to gain access to the content. Experiment with various forms of gated content and use analytics to see which types of offers garnered the most responses. Distribute these gated content offers to your email marketing lists and across social media channels.

Generate Leads From Your Website

Your business website is used to inform your visitors about what you do and how they can obtain your products/services. With proper navigation and attractive, strategically placed calls to action, you website pages can become a major source for online lead generation.

Keep in mind that most—if not all—of your other marketing activities eventually lead customers and prospects back to your website. This is the space on the world wide web where you control the message 100%. Here on your turf you can create unique landing pages targeting specific demographics, and have additional calls to action on product pages and other strategic locations throughout your site.

Email Marketing Lead Generation

Generating leads through email marketing has a relatively high conversion percentage compared to other methods. If you have permission to email someone, that means they are already interested in some portion of the goods or services you provide. Now it is up to you to craft a call to action that will turn them into a lead that you can nurture and convert into a sale. The contact form can be embedded directly into the email or you can direct them to a specific landing page.

Online Advertising Leads

Paid advertising is another effective way to generate leads online. This type of advertising comes in a few different forms.

Social Media Ads

Social media advertising platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter allow you to target your ads on a granular level based on a number of demographics such as age, gender, income, interest in your product/service, zip code and more. Ads can be as inexpensive as $5, yet they can guarantee that they will reach a certain number of people for your campaign. To learn more about social media advertising, check out the following posts:

• The Cost to Advertise on Instagram
• The Cost to Advertise on Facebook
• The Cost to Advertise on Twitter

Search Engine Ads

Search engines are another hot spot for online advertising. With paid search advertising campaigns, you can position your ads prominently in front of people while they are searching for your products and services and are in a buying mood.

Display Ads

Display ads are another form of pay per click advertising that can help to generate leads. These ads show up on web pages that targeted users are visiting, and can be effectively retargeted at users who have visited your website already.

With the number of people online and the amount of time they spend there, online lead generation should be a core component of your marketing plan. Start implementing these strategies to get more of the right people to discover your business.

7 Important Live Chat Best Practices

Live Chat Best Practices

Live Chat Best PracticesLive Chat is a powerful and timely way to connect with customers and be able to directly impact and quicken the buying process. It can also greatly enhance overall customer experience and remind people why they love and enthusiastically support your brand. There are many other compelling reasons to make Live Chat a vital component of your marketing and support efforts. If you are about to get your company’s initiative started, make sure to follow these live chat best practices.

Keep it Simple, but Inviting

From the very beginning, make your initial message very straightforward, yet with a friendly tone. A short greeting with an invitation to ask questions or chat will suffice. Do not abuse the privilege of this instant access to a potential customer’s screen by being too forward or pushy.

Something like— “Welcome, let me know if you have any questions.”—is just fine.

Some chat systems will automatically pop-up after a certain amount of time on designated pages of a website, while others choose to not present themselves to the visitor and remain an easily accessible contact option they can choose to initiate.

Train Your Team

Empower your agents by providing them with a protocol to follow and access to all the information they will need to respond to the expected range of questions when engaging with customers. It is important that live chat agents have a steady demeanor and not panic if they get stumped by a question. It is alright for an agent to tell someone “I do not have that information can I get back to you?” Over time continue to fill in the gaps in your program by updating your protocols and information libraries on a very regular basis. Make sure your strategy includes continuous, ongoing training and education for your live chat agents. And finally, make sure to always follow through with promises of an email or other type of escalation.

Be Professional with Some Personality

Agents should always be professional, be able to relate to the customer and be able to demonstrate knowledge and expertise. The tone of the dialogue should also be appropriate for your industry. Investment firms will have have a more serious tenor than a company that sells flip flops. Live chat is another important touchpoint to educate or reinforce to a customer what your brand or company is all about. No matter what persona you end up taking on, make it conversational and make sure the visitor knows they are dealing with a real human being.

Have a Dual Purpose: Support and Sales

Live chat can function to support existing customers as well as to convert interested visitors into new ones. Be sure to hire and train agents that have the proper mix of customer service and sales DNA for the types of visitors and interactions you expect them top be having on a daily basis. Supporting and keeping existing customers is obviously a high priority, but do not miss out on opportunities to have agents use suggestive selling techniques. If done properly, these recommendations will come across as helpful to the customer and are never pushy in nature.

Prepare Responses to FAQs

This does not mean that you are just providing canned responses to all the commonly asked questions. By having thorough responses that are quick to deploy it will give the visitor a quick answer and allow your agents to multitask and help more customers. Give these responses a personal touch and always assure the customer you are here to continue to answer questions and provide additional support.

Ask For a Positive Review

If you do not ask you do not get, as the saying goes. Train agents to make it a regular practice to ask customers that have positive experiences and seem to be fans or advocates of your brand to give your company a favorable review, to “like” your Facebook page or another call to action.

Evaluate Multiple Live Chat Options

Before settling on a live chat provider be sure to take several for a test drive first. Start by engaging with the chat functionality on their website. See how the agents respond and use the product themselves. This should be a solid indicator as to the range of capabilities, as no one should be better at using their own product. From there, go to some other websites in your industry that the provider lists as a user of their product. Each of these providers should also be able to give you a demo from an agent’s perspective as well to help you make the best decision for your company.

Provide Multiple Avenues of Communication

Live chat should not be your sole method of communication, but rather a significant part of a comprehensive strategy to be available in all the ways your customers are comfortable reaching out to you. This will vary based on your demographics, industry and products/services you offer.If you do not plan on having agents available 24/7, then you need to make sure that visitors are informed during this time and directed to another means of connecting such as a contact form with a place for them to communicate their request.

Follow these live chat best practices and harness the powerful impact and connection capabilities this essential marketing and support tool can deliver for your customers!