Archive for email marketing

7 Marketing Campaigns for Your Small Businesses

automation

One way to improve our small business marketing systems is to create standardized procedures and communications for activities we are already doing. Creating procedures can help improve consistency, speeds up processing time, and makes it easier to delegate.

The campaigns below focus on common small business marketing activities that you may be doing to one extent or another. Thinking of each activity in context of a campaign helps identify the processes that we can standardize (and possibly automate) along with templates we may be able to create for our routine messages.

While these campaigns can be automated, I didn’t want you to think you have to run out and buy expensive software before you can start your marketing campaigns. Automated or not, you still need to map out the process, decision points, and content that you will need – so focus on doing that first. You can decide later whether you can use the tools you have or if you need to purchase new ones.

1. Free Report / Free Download / Free Newsletter Campaigns – Most business offer some sort of free download or newsletter subscription on their website. However, most “campaigns” consist only of an email confirmation and then delivery of the free item. By adding more messages to your free download campaign you can learn more about your prospects and how you may be able to help them.

Consider:

    • including offers to other resources you have available
    • asking a few survey questions to determine interests and needs
    • creating follow up campaigns for each question in your survey

2. Free Consultation / Free Quote Campaigns – it is also common for business to offer a free consultation or quote to prospective customers. If you have such an offering, take a look at your processes and identify steps and communications you can standardize.

Consider:

    • Using appointment reminders or phone calls to reduce no shows
    • Providing “tips for getting the most from our meeting”, or a list of things you want them to bring/provide for you
    • What communications and tasks need to take place if the customer buys
    • What communications and tasks need to take place if the customer “wants to think about it”.
    • Having a process in place for dealing with no shows.

3. New Customer Campaign – Do you have a standard, systematic approach for onboarding new customers? Standardizing your new customer welcoming process can help get the relationship started on the right foot, reducing problems down the road by properly setting expectations, and increasing your chances for receiving referrals.

Consider:

    • Creating a document outlining “what to expect” or “what to bring to your first meeting”
    • Providing a list of names and ways to contact your employees along with a description of how they can help
    • Outlining your billing procedures and expectations along with the customer’s payment options
    • Sending an unexpected gift early in the relationship
    • Including a customer happiness survey after the first 30, 60, or 90 days

4. Customer Happiness Feedback – Having a system in place for regularly soliciting feedback from your customers not only improves customer retention but can also help you get more business from referrals. One strategy you can employ is to determine what is a “passing score” on your survey and then when surveys are received all failing scores receive an immediate phone call follow up while passing scores may be asked to provide a testimonial or referral.

Consider:

    • Sending a testimonial template and/or examples of other testimonials to help them get started
    • Providing an online referral form to happy customers, asking if they know anyone else who would benefit from your product or service
    • Let them know you want to refer them as well and ask them how you can help

5. Re-engagement Campaigns – if you have a list, you undoubtedly have cold contacts on that list. Re-engagement campaigns can help you determine if you should continue to contact them (and if so, about what topics), replace them with a new contact at the same company, or remove them from your list. The goal is to get the conversation started again.

Consider:

    • Asking if they are still the appropriate person to contact about X
    • Sending a survey with questions related to the pains you address, so you can follow up with a relevant campaign
    • Asking previous prospects if they were able to find a solution and if so, ask how it is working for them

6. Webinar, Seminar, or Event Campaigns – If you use webinars, seminars, or other events in your marketing mix then you have plenty of opportunity to create standardized processes and communications. Event registration and reminders are obvious candidates, but you don’t forget the follow up.

Consider:

    • Including instructions for attending the event such as directions, accommodations, information about the speaker(s), etc.
    • Creating a “how to get the most from this event” document
    • Following up with a special offer for attendees
    • Creating a communication series for people who registered but did not attend
    • Using your event feedback form to gather information to help you determine which of your other campaigns your attendees would be interested in receiving

7. Referral Partner Campaigns – We all like business from referrals and for many businesses, having a robust referral partner network may be all the marketing they need. Creating such a network takes time and effort which means we have a lot to gain by standardizing procedures and communications in this area.

Consider:

    • Creating a standard process, as well as a set of messages, for identifying and approaching potential referral partners
    • Standardizing your process for following up with your referral partners. Make sure to have a process for first gaining Top of Mind status as well as a second process for maintaining Top of Mind status.
    • Creating a series of snack sized messages that give examples of customers you serve and the problems you have helped them solve
    • Documenting your process for making and following up on introductions to your referral partners

I hope this post has given you some ideas about how you may be able to move from performing marketing activities to creating systems that allow you to grow your business.

10 Email Service Providers for Small Business

email-marketing

Email marketing is an essential component of your small business marketing system. Email Service Providers (ESPs) come in all shapes and sizes. In addition to price, here are a few questions you will want to answer when evaluating ESPs:

  • How easy is the email creation process? Do they have a variety of templates to choose from? Are templates easy to edit? If I already have a template, can I import it?
  • How easy is it to import my existing list of contacts? What are the rules for importing, i.e., do I need to make all of my contacts confirm they have opted-in?
  • What other features are offered (i.e. event marketing)? Do I need those features?
  • How flexible is the reporting? Can I get all of the information I need?
  • Do I have other systems that need to integrate with my email marketing system? Does this ESP work with those systems?

Once you have your criteria checklist defined, you can start investigating solutions. Below is a list of 10 popular (there are many others) email service providers for small businesses to help you get started:

aWeber

AWeber’s email marketing tools like professional email signup forms & autoresponder services make it easy for you to build your email list and stay in touch with prospects.

Getting Started – aWeber let’s you create a trial account for $1 for your first month, and $19 on a recurring monthly basis after your trial. Learn more about aWeber

CampaignMonitor

CampaignMonitor is simple to use and provides great reporting.

Getting Started – create your account for free, you only pay when you send emails. Per send and monthly plans are available. Monthly plans start at $9 month. Learn more about CampaignMonitor

Constant Contact

Constant Contact offers email marketing, event marketing, online surveys, and social campaigns along with a robust learning center.

Getting Started – 60 day free trial. Pricing starts at $15/mo. Learn more about Constant Contact

Emma

Emma is famous for their customer service.

Getting Started – 30 day free trial. Pricing starts at $30/mo. Learn more about Emma.

GetResponse

The self proclaimed “World’s Easiest Email Marketing”, GetResponse had everything you need to get started with email marketing.

Getting Started – 30 day free trial. Pricing starts at $15/mo. Learn more about GetResponse.

iContact

Recently purchased by Vocus (the folk who own PRWeb), iContact provides email marketing services for small businesses as well as agencies who support them.

Getting Started – 30 day free trial. Pricing starts at $14/mo. Learn more about iContact.

MailChimp

MailChimp is simple to use, provides great support, and integrates with a ton of other applications.

Getting Started – MailChimp has an incredibly generous free account providing up to 2,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails/month. Paid plans start at $10/mo. Learn more about MailChimp

Mailvu

Mailvu gives you a simple way to create videos and share them via email.

Getting Started – create a send a free video message on their homepage. Monthly pricings starts at $5/mo. Learn  more about MailVu.

Swiftpage (Sage eMarketing for Act)

Users of ACT! will want to check out Sage eMarketing (Swiftpage) for it’s tight integration as well as the ability to create drip marketing campaigns.

One note about pricing – while many services quote a price based on emails sent per month, Sage eMarketing quotes messages per day. This is probably due to their drip marketing capabilities, but it also let’s you use scheduling to control your costs.

Getting Started – 60 day free trial. Pricing starts at $15/mo. Learn more about Sage eMarketing

Vertical Response

In addition to your typical email marketing features, VerticalResponse also allows you to send postcards.

Getting Started – 30 day trial period. Pricing starts at $8.50/mo. Learn more about Vertical Response

I have had the opportunity to use several of these services including aWeber, Constant Contact, iContact, MailChimp, MailVu, and Swiftpage (as well as a few others not on this list) so if you have any questions about selecting an email service provider, feel free to contact me.

Using a Marketing Message Snippet File

In my last newsletter I talked about creating a marketing follow up plan and I made a brief mention of using “starter snippets” to help quickly create follow up messages. I’ve had a couple of people ask me about how I use these snippets, so I thought I would share some ideas here.

Snippet files are something that I started using when I was a software developer. Basically, they are just pieces of text that you find yourself typing repeatedly. The idea is to have these readily accessible so you can grab them (i.e. cut & paste) quickly and not have to constantly re-invent the wheel.

One of the challenges with using marketing automation to scale your personalized messages is making sure the “personalized” message fits within the context of the relationship. For example, have you ever received a message from a company asking you to become a customer when you have already been a customer for years? These type of personalized marketing messages can actually work against you.

I view snippets as being different from automated or canned messages in that they serve as starting point, rather than a complete message. I can edit a message more quickly than I can create one from scratch. With the majority of the message already complete, it takes very little time to add a personal touch.

Here are some examples of the types of messages in my snippet file:

  • Email introductions
  • Reply to a request to connect on LinkedIn
  • Cold call scripts
  • Requesting an introduction
  • Networking follow up message
  • Birthday, anniversary, etc.

Since they are just blurbs of text, you can store snippets anywhere. Some of my customers keep them in a text file on their computer desktop. Google Docs can be a good place to keep them if you want to keep a master set of snippets and share them with your co-workers. If you are a Microsoft Outlook user, you will find the Quick Parts feature handy for managing snippets. GMail user will want to check out the canned responses feature in the Labs.

I’m a big fan of marketing automation tools, but sometimes the best tools for building relationships via marketing are a calendar reminder and a good snippet file.

6 Tips for Getting More From Your Email Marketing

Whether you are unhappy with the results of your email marketing efforts, or you just want to kick it up a notch, try these tips to improve your email marketing results.

#1 Set a business (rather than an email marketing) goal

email-marketingEmail marketing tools give us some great feedback about who does what with our email campaigns that sometimes we can get caught up in open rates and bounce rates and forget about the business goals that led us to implement email marketing in the first place.

Do you want to increase referrals? Are you trying to bring customers back to your store? Are Wednesdays a slow day at the shop and you would like to change that? Do you have products and services that your customers don’t know you offer? Make sure you define the business goals for your email marketing campaigns.

#2 Nobody likes a dirty list

Internet service providers (ISPs) and email service providers (ESPs) hate dirty lists that contain old customer data and bad email addresses. Recipients hate them because the dirtier your list, the less likely they will recognize you, so even if you do make it to their inbox they may still consider you message spam.

Don’t keep sending email blasts to unsubscribes and addresses bounce messages. Consider purging customers without any opens or clicks in a 12-month period as these could affect your reputation score and therefor your deliverability rates.

#3 Pay attention to your “FROM” name

Many experts believe that email recipients use the “from” name tells to decide whether or not to delete an email and the “subject” line to decide whether or not to open it.

Use the “from” name that is the basis of your relationship with the customer. If they don’t recognize you, they will likely delete your message.

#4 Watch that subject line

As mentioned above, the subject line tells the recipient whether or not to open the email. Make your subject lines direct, relevant, timely and impactful.

Use action words – Let the recipient know the offer and provide a sense of urgency. For example – “$10 Coupon Inside – Last Chance to Save.”

It’s okay to use the work “free”.  Contrary to popular belief, “free” does not automatically send your message to the junk folder. Sender reputation scores and better filtering techniques play a bigger part in filtering than a single work. So if you have something to give away for free, don’t be afraid to say so.

#5 Add marketing messages to your transactional emails

Inserting marketing messages into your transactional emails (confirmations, receipts, delivery updates, etc.) can be a great way to cross-sell, up-sell, and enhance the overall buying experience.

#6 Be more relevant by segmenting your list 

We all know that customers want to know WIIFM (what’ in it for me?). You can decrease your unsubscribe rate and increase your response rate by using what you know about the people on your list to send them information that they care about.

Replace portions of your messages (article or offers) based on data from your database, or create unique messages for each of your different audiences.  Don’t be afraid to ask the people on your list about their interests, either when they opt-in or sometime down the road via surveys.

Build Your List With Pippity

pippity-iconIf you are anything like me, even though you’ve heard popup forms can help you grow your e-mail list, you’ve resisted using them because we hate being interrupted by them right when we are trying to figure out if a site has useful information or not. Now there is a plugin that can help you build your list without aggravating your website visitors.

The Pippity WordPress plugin not only makes it super easy to create great looking popup forms, it also give you tons of control over how that popup behaves.

Creating a popup form is dead simple. You pick a template, customize it by following the steps in the wizard, hook it up to your email list provider and you’re good to go. While it’s simple to get up and running, you can still get fairly sophisticated with your design.

Pippity has built in support for the following email list providers:

  • Aweber
  • Madmimi
  • MailChimp
  • Constant Contact
  • 1ShoppingCart
  • Get Response
  • Campaign Monitor
  • Graphic Mail
  • iContact

Is your email provider not on the list? Not to worry, you can cut an paste your sign up form html into Pippity and it will take care of the rest (this is method I used to set up Pippity to work with Infusionsoft).

Once you create your form you can control when it displays. You can specify the time before it appears, whether you want to wait until someone gets finishes reading an article, and how many pages someone views before they see the popup. You can set filters to exclude the popup from certain pages. You can also control whether a popup shows depending on the page or post category.

Pippity also track analytics so you can see how well your popup form (or forms, you can create as many as you like) are performing. If you create more than one popup you can compare analytics between any two forms. You can even to A/B testing with Pippity forms.

Pippity’s pricing is incredibly affordable, starting at $49 for a single site. You can get a 5 site license for $87, and if you are a developer you can get an umlimited license for $164

You can learn more about Pippity by viewing the 30 second video on the homepage of their website.

3 Tips To Avoid The Mobile Trash Can

trashcanMany of us try to keep our email inboxes under control by periodically checking them using a phone or other mobile device. Many people are using their smart phones as their primary “computer”; they do not have a laptop or other computer at home. As this trend continues, marketers need to pay attention to the details about their messages if they want to reach their target audience. Here are three tips to help you keep your messages out of the mobile trash can:

  1. Create crystal clear subject lines – When people use their phones to quickly check their email, they are often quickly scanning to decide whether to delete or save for later reading. If they don’t recognize you or they can’t tell why they should read your message from the subject line, chances are your message is going in the delete pile. Stay out of the trash bin by writing subject lines.
  2. Create plain text and HTML email versions. While most devices render HTML well, some email clients default to displaying plain text. Make sure your emails are easy to read in either format. Most email marketing programs, like the ones you use to send out email newsletters, make it easy to create a text version of the “pretty” version of your message.
  3. Write descriptive alt text - Alternative text is the text that displays in when your image doesn’t render. Many people will not display images on their mobile devices, so make sure to include descriptive text that communicates the same message you are trying to convey with your image. Don’t forget the alt text for your email header (if you are using one).

Seeing Spam with Yahoo! Mail Visualization

Yahoo! recently released the Yahoo! Mail Visualization tool. The tool shows how Yahoo! routes billions of emails every day. It also gives us some insight into how they filter spam.

Here is a quick screen shot of the Mail Visualization map (click on the image for a larger version)

yahooVisualize

Click on an area of the map zoom in and provide you with additional data of emails in that area.

Clicking on the green “Trending Keywords” box on the left will show you the top keywords in email subject lines for the geographic area you have selected. The “Reveal Blocked Spam” green button on the bottom gives you an idea of how much spam is being blocked. For example, this morning 4 spam messages are being blocked for every good email that is delivered.

You will also notice that when you click on the Reveal Blocked Spam, you can also see the spam keywords show up in the trending graph as well as the word cloud. The spam words are color coded gray.

keywords

Spend a little time with this tool and you may be surprised to find that many words that people have told you are spam triggers (like “Free”) show up as “Good” keywords in the visualization tool.

Quality vs Quantity in Your Marketing Database

5279081393_b2b74320d1_mWhat makes a good marketing database or list? Do you tend to favor quantity or quality?

Lead generation is often viewed purely a numbers gain – the more eyeballs you reach, the greater number of leads you will acquire. This approach points to an obvious goal, build the biggest list that you can. If a list with 2,000 is good then one with 5,000 is even better.

But is it? What if, rather than focusing building a bigger funnel, we focused on getting the right people into the funnel? Personally, I believe this is a better approach for professional service firms and is one of the reasons we in Duct Tape Marketing spend so much time talking about narrowing your focus and having a well defined ideal customer profile.

I believe this approach also applies to building your referral network. If you take the “more is better” approach, then you may spend a lot of time attending various networking events, collecting lots of cards, and perhaps drinking lots of coffee. But the larger your referral list, the harder it becomes to stay in touch and build relationships with everyone on your list.

Everyone’s business is different – would yours benefit more from having a list of 1,000 potential referral partners or 20 people that really know, like, and trust you and make an effort to help you grow your business?

photo credit: Kheel Center, Cornell University on Flickr

60 Day Free Trial of Constant Contact Plus Consulting During Global Entrepreneurship Week

email_300x250_Email Marketing by Constant Contact® is the easy, effective, and highly affordable way to get your message out to your customers, clients, or members. You’ll create high-impact, professional-looking emails—quickly and with no technical expertise. And, most importantly, you’ll build strong connections with your audience that lead to referrals, repeat business and loyalty.

With Email Marketing by Constant Contact, you can:

  • Choose from more than 400 easily customized email templates—or create your own from scratch.
  • Create highly visual, professional-looking email newsletters and promotions in just minutes.
  • Drive more traffic to your website with focused, targeted email communications.
  • Build and manage your email list: import existing customer lists, add names individually, or capture contact information from website visitors.
  • Measure your email campaign results instantly-check click-through rates, review new subscribers, and see who opened and clicked on each link so you can tailor your follow-up communications.
  • Send automated communications to new sign-ups via our Autoresponder tool.
  • Communicate with your audience with confidence, knowing that Constant Contact will take care of getting your email delivered and keep you CAN-SPAM compliant.

You can try Constant Contact free for 60 days and if you sign up during Global Entrepreneurship Week, I will throw in a complimentary 45 minute consulting session to help you get the most out of your email marketing activities.

New Drip Marketing Program – Beta Program Saves You Big Bucks

Drip Marketing With Swiftpage

I mentioned in a previous post that I am part of a partnership with ACT! and Swiftpage

I am very excited about this partnership. I have spent most of my career automating business systems to make them reliable, consistent, cost effective, and measurable. I really like what Swiftpage brings to small business.

Swiftpage helps put your sales and marketing initiatives on cruise control. With it, you can build and deliver multi-step marketing plans that use different media (phone calls, letters, postcards, fax, and e-mail).

A strong drip campaign can operate like a sales rep or customer service rep for a fraction of the cost.

You can even send messages based on the recipients actions – send one message to the people who opened your e-mail and a different one to the people who didn’t.

Drip Marketing Beta (or Pilot) Program

I have put together a new program to help small business get up and running as quickly and effectively as possible with Swiftpage. Since this is a new program, there will be a beta phase as we work out the normal bumps that are part of a new service. The good news for you is, you can save some big bucks. Here’s how it works:

I will work with you to design your drip marketing campaign.  Together we will plot out the objectives of the campaign, what each step will consist of, the look and/or copy of each step and to whom it is going to go to and when.   

I will then set it up for you in SwiftPage. I will also work with you to follow up, evaluate, and make adjustments to your campaign as necessary.

The beta test investment is $899 and in exchange you agree to excuse any lumps and bumps in the process and be willing to give us feedback on the program as well.

After the beta period, this service will be competitively priced between $2500 – $4500, so this is a sizzling hot opportunity. 

If you are interested in participating, please contact me so we can have a short discussion to make sure that this program is right for your business.

P.S. SwiftPage works great with ACT! If you own ACT!, I’ll show how the two work together to create a great small business CRM system. If you don’t have ACT! but want to set it up, we can price that separately for you and get you up and running quickly.