Chances are, you probably put a lot of time and effort into launching your website. At some point, after you’ve been up and running for a while, you’ll contemplate whether you’re in need of a redesign. To help make this decision, we’ve put together five questions to ask yourself. Your answers will help you evaluate if an update to your website is necessary. These questions will also ensure you’re getting what you need out of out your site — like desired traffic, sales, repeat customers, newsletter subscribers, etc.
1. Is your website responsive?
Responsive means that your site will look great whether visitors are viewing it from a smartphone, tablet or desktop PC. Sixty-four percent of American adults own a smartphone, and 42% own a tablet (from an October 2014 Pew Internet Project research study).
This most likely means that you’ve got people that will visit your website on one of these devices. If your current website design is not mobile-friendly, your visitors will quickly get frustrated by trying to pinch, stretch or scroll their way through your PC-based website on their mobile phone. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly site, it’s time to start planning for a website redesign.
2. Are you getting enough sales or leads from your website?
One of the key indicators to let you know you need to redesign your site is if your traffic is declining.
Are fewer people visiting your site? Or, are they getting to your homepage and bouncing–leaving the page almost immediately? These kinds of metrics can show you quantitatively that your website just isn’t working for you anymore. Here are some areas to explore if you are concerned about a high bounce rate:
3. How does your website look compared to your competitors?
It’s always a good idea to check out the competition. Review your direct competitors’ websites on a regular basis. Look at not only the design but also notice their voice and how they position their product or service. Avoid plagiarizing, but you are free to use any inspiration to update your website.
Keep an eye on how they rank on search engines compared to your site. If you own a nail salon in Annapolis, Maryland, type in “nail salon Annapolis” into Google and see where you show up and how you compare to your direct competitors. If they are ranking higher, you need to look at doing a redesign that focuses on incorporating best SEO practices.
4. Does it have all the bells and whistles you need?
Besides the actual design, a website can include lots of extras that make the day-to-day management of business easier. Here are a few examples of the types of tools or apps that can be added to a website to streamline business operations:
These are just a few examples. There are many tools you can use to create a better experience for the visitor and you.
5. Are you just tired of it?
If you feel like your website would win an award for the ‘Ugliest Website of The Year’, then it’s just time to bite the bullet. Your website is the conduit for many people to get a first impression. If it’s not projecting the image you want for your business, then it’s time to invest in a redesign.
If you answered yes to a few of the questions above, you should consider redesigning your website. There are many design services available. Deluxe Websites offers a complete end-to-end solution for website design, getting your website found, making sure it’s mobile-friendly and ensuring it’s SEO-optimized.
Found this helpful? Get more tips and how-tos by subscribing to the weekly VR Buzz newsletter.
© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
The post Five Things to Consider Before Undergoing a Website Redesign appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
Delivering a relevant buyer experience is virtually impossible to manage without the right blend of touch points and messages. No doubt you use transactional messages through printed receipts, email confirmations and delivery update notifications. Maybe you’ve even added a seasonal promotional email or direct mail campaign.
Retailers can also save time and keep customers engaged by setting up auto-responders. These types of emails are triggered once an event occurs. Let’s look at three types of events and example emails.1. Surprise and Delight
The “Surprise and Delight” auto-responder is one that many retailers include in their communication plan. Simply put, it’s an out-of-the-ordinary email that a retailer sends to a customer that elicits an emotional “ahhhh” moment.
An appropriate event that might trigger this email is a customer anniversary. Knowing when a customer became a customer, and acknowledging that special day, is always a welcome surprise. More common events might be a customer’s birthday, or wedding anniversary. This special event auto-responder is designed to, well, make them feel special.
Offering a small token of appreciation goes a long way. It keeps your brand top of mind but shows your customers you truly value their business and loyalty. And although providing a gift certificate from your business is nice, offering your customer something unexpected is even better. Consider offering them a nominal gift card from a brand that complements your company or treating them to an exclusive in-store discount.
As Robert Spector, customer service guru and author of The Nordstrom Way to Customer Service Excellence: The Handbook For Becoming the “Nordstrom” of Your Industry, says “Don’t reinvent the wheel. Focus on winning one customer at a time. Be honest and sincere. Do what’s right. There’s nothing magical about this. That’s been my guiding principle. To make it work, you have to live it every day. Make it your mind-set.”
Here is a great example of a customer anniversary “Surprise and Delight” email:2. Countdown
The “Countdown Event” auto-responder email builds awareness and excitement. It also creates a sense of urgency around a sale, special promotion, new product launch, or any type of event. You can segment your loyal customers and offer them a “sneak peak” using a Countdown. The impact delivered is great customer service to your best customers with exclusivity, but with a limited time element.
Here is a great example of a “Countdown Timer” auto-responder email:3. Abandoned Cart
Last but not least, the “Abandoned Cart” auto-responder email that is triggered when a shopper leaves before going through the checkout process. You can decide to pair the email with an offer, or not. Either way, the goal is to entice them to complete the sale.
Here is the “no-offer reminder” abandoned cart email:
Here is the “offer reminder” abandoned cart email:
There is truly no one-size-fits-all approach to an auto-responder strategy but one thing is true, you can mix and match different auto-responders by combining the best elements of both.
If you want more tips and how-tos delivered to your inbox once a week, sign up for our newsletter.
© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
Segmented lists get more engagement. The open and click results are likely to be higher since the email message can be more directly targeted to a certain group of people. To make this best practice easier, we are excited to introduce our new Advanced Search tool.
This update allows for campaign activity-based segmentation, which means, you can segment your contact list based on a set of predetermined parameters related to opens or clicks. You can access this email feature on the Contacts page.
There are three selections you can make:Search
For quicker list generation, ‘Recommended Searches’ is available at the top right-hand rail. You can generate the list by clicking on the name of the search.
Once the results from your search appear, you can:
This level of segmentation can be of great use, especially if you manage a large number of contacts.Ways You Can Use Segmentation
Here are just a few ways you can take advantage of this new feature:
Advanced Search is our first phase of segmentation and available to both freemium and paid accounts. Take advantage of this deeper level of segmentation and watch how your engagement improves.
© 2015, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.
Most people know LinkedIn as the premier social network dedicated to business. Unless you have closely followed its evolution since launching in 2003, you may have missed some updates.
One of its key evolution points was the launch of Company Profile Pages in March of 2008. Since then, there have been many enhancements. Most notable was “Insights.” Insights were the 1.0 version of Analytics about your Company Page, which helps you understand how your page works and which areas you need to enhance to improve traction.
Following recent changes aimed at simplifying the platform’s usability, Company Profile Pages are now just called ‘Company Pages‘ and “Insights” are known as Analytics.
In this episode of Tips in 2, we take you on a quick tour of LinkedIn Company Page Analytics. This overview allows you to see how much information you can gather from the data behind your page.
Click on the video below and let us show you around.
For more info on LinkedIn and other social media platforms, click here.
The post Understanding Your LinkedIn Company Page Analytics [VIDEO] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
Wrestling with growing your audience? Grappling with landing page conversion rates? Then we’ve got the thing for you! We’re happy to announce our newest integration with SumoMe, an innovative platform built to help marketers create high-converting landing pages, grow their email lists, and make sense of their website traffic and visitor behavior.
Get on the Mat!
One of the biggest challenges marketers face is conversion. How can I get my site visitors to subscribe, opt-in, and not abandon the page altogether? SumoMe’s Welcome Mat tool helps you do just that.
Welcome Mat displays a full-screen call-to-action when visitors land on your site. You can use this page to encourage visitors to join your email list, check out your blog post, or whatever action you want them to take.
With its completely customizable design and mobile optimization, you can increase your email conversion rate through better visitor engagement. Best of all, Welcome Mat is integrated with VerticalResponse, so any email addresses you collect with the tool will automatically be added as new contacts to a VR list of your choice. This is a great way to immediately engage and convert a site visitor, while increasing productivity since you won’t have to enter each new contact into VR manually. Check out Welcome Mat here!
Tip the Scales with List Builder
If utilizing a full-page call-to-action isn’t a great fit for your site, SumoMe has another solution. List Builder is a fully-customizable lightbox pop-up used to prompt conversion at just the right time. List Builder’s Smart Mode technology detects the exact moment when a visitor is about to leave, and then entices them with a call-to-action or signup form so you’re less likely to lose that visitor. And, again, thanks to List Builder’s sync capability with VerticalResponse, any email addresses given will automatically be added as a new contact in your VR list.
Timely and strategic visitor engagement is key to conversion. List Builder will help you with this targeted interaction, and also decrease your workload since you won’t have to add these new contacts manually to your VR Lists!
How Can I Sync SumoMe and VR?
It’s quick and easy!
1. Select any of the SumoMe apps for collecting emails: List Builder, Welcome Mat, Scroll Box, or Smart Bar.
2. In your campaign, select the Services tab and click on VerticalResponse.
3. On the next page, click “Connect.”
4. Sign in with your VeritcalResponse credentials.
5. Select the VR list to which you’d like each collected email pushed.
6. All set!
Let us know how this integration works for you.
Are you currently using social media sites to enhance your business’s online strategy? Posting to these platforms on a regular basis is a great place to start. If you want to increase sales, brand awareness, and website traffic, you’ll have to up your social marketing game by going a bit further.
These nine social media marketing hacks will help you:
Hacks to help sell products on social sites
Your website shouldn’t be the only place for customers to browse and buy your products. Remember that your social sites can also serve as mini, digital storefronts too.
Why not entice your social audiences to make a purchase in 140 characters or less for example. When it comes to selling items on your social sites, you have a few options.
1. Turn to Facebook ads
Facebook has an easy-to-use advertising platform, which allows you to showcase your product to an audience of your choosing. To maximize your views, be sure to target your ad by location, age or interests.
In terms of cost, the ads are affordable. You can start an ad campaign for as little as five bucks, with the idea of progressive spending as you focus on reaching more customers over time.
2. Use a ‘shoppable’ app like Shoppost
This handy resource creates ads for your Facebook page. The ads can display an image and also provide pricing, colors, and sizes. When a customer clicks on the ad, he or she is taken directly to your site to check out.
Keep in mind, your website must use Shopify, Etsy, Amazon or Bigcommerce as its e-commerce platform for this tool to work, but it makes buying simple for your customers.
You can check out the site to see the ads.
3. Try a ‘Like2Buy’ button to increase sales
Ready to turn the great images you share on Instagram into transactional posts? Use Curalate’s Like2Buy option. Customers can see your products and, like the Shoppost app, are directed to your website to make a purchase. Users can even save products in their own gallery to purchase later.
Hacks to help you find and post eye-catching images
Social media is propelled by images. With so many images in social streams, you can’t post any old picture and expect viewers to pay attention. To beat the competition, you have to upload creative and clear images. So how do you get your hands on images that attract attention and spark engagement? Here are a few hacks to help:
4. Consider using paid stock sites
Using stock photos is probably the most common way to obtain creative images, but it can be costly.
5. Browse free stock sites
If you don’t have a budget for pictures, turn to Flickr. Through their Creative Commons section, you can search images that are free. However, you’ll want to narrow your search depending on how you plan to use the image.
For example, if you plan to use the image for a commercial purpose, search under “commercial use allowed.” Just go to the creative commons section and use the drop menu on the upper left side to narrow your search. Here’s what you’ll see:
While the images are free, when you post it on your site you need to provide attribution.
6. Standout by creating a cinemagraph
Everyone is vying for visual attention, so how can you stand out? Try creating and posting a cinemagraph. What’s a cinemagraph? It’s a still image with a small section of animation. It’s like a GIF, but with better quality and control.
Since Facebook has an autoplay video feature and Instagram can play videos on a loop, these mini-moving images are powerful and attention grabbing. You can create cinemagraphs by using apps like Cinemagr.am or Flixel.
Hacks to use social media marketing to increase website traffic
Your website and social media networks should work well together. To accomplish this, you’ll want to shuttle traffic between the two sites. In other words, links on your social sites should direct people to your website, and links on your website should bring customers to your social sites.
What’s the best way to keep this digital highway flowing?
7. Install ‘ClickToTweet’
This free tool puts a small ‘Click to Tweet’ link next to any piece of text, which allows your customers to then share that selected text on their Twitter feed.
How can you incorporate it? You could put together a list of frequently asked questions on your website, or a short list of statistics that customers can share. The ‘Click to Tweet’ link can sit next to any valuable tidbit of information. When clicked, the sentence automatically loads to Twitter. All the customer has to do is click ‘share’, and it hits the Twittersphere.
8. Increase social traffic with a ‘Hello Bar’
Create a call to action button on the top of your website that drives traffic to your social sites. A Hello Bar is a thin bar that appears at the top of your website that contains a short message and a call to action.
The best part about a Hello Bar is its versatility. You can change the call to action and the message to achieve a variety of goals. You can encourage people to visit your social sites, sign up for your email list, download an e-book or visit a specific page on your website.
Visit the Hello Bar website to learn more.
9. Use Colibri.io to ‘listen’ on social media
What are people saying about your business? It’s impossible to monitor every comment made, but Colibri.io makes it easier. This platform collects data across social media sites and shows you exactly what people are saying about your business, industry as well as your competitors.
With this information, you can insert yourself into the conversation. You’ll be able to offer help to customers that are unhappy with a competitor’s service, drive traffic to your website, and maintain your overall online reputation.
These nine hacks will help improve your sales and customer engagement; however, you don’t have to implement all of these changes at once. Try to set up a new tool every month so you can learn how each one fits best with your digital brand.
The post 9 Social Media Hacks Every Small Business Can Benefit From appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
So you want to define a social media strategy for your business? The place to start is with a full understanding of the most widely-used social platforms, their unique purpose, and whether or not your business will be able to reach its target audience.
Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all trend highly with small and medium-sized business owners. With the greatest volume of users per month, these platforms allow you to build a following, showcase new products, and sometimes act as an arm of customer service.
We’ll look at what differentiates these three popular networks, comparing various key metrics so you can feel confident starting your path towards social media success.
To begin, frame your evaluation of each platform with the following questions:
Evaluating Purpose and Unique Attributes
There’s no shortage of social-driven platforms so spend time exploring once you’ve gotten your feet wet. You’ll find that Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are more than likely the places with the highest concentration of your key demographics. In examining the purpose and unique attributes of each, you’ll find that though they are all ‘social’, they have different strengths and selling points.
Primary Purpose: Builds brand loyalty and reputation. Establishes your business as an authority through interesting content and informational posts.
Primary Purpose: Shares breaking news and quick updates, promotes new products, content, or brand contests, collects instant feedback from your audience.
Primary Purpose: Acts as an online scrapbook, showcases products, and displays brand essence through inspiration boards.
Most businesses find that Facebook helps strengthen relationships once initially established. If you want to grow an audience around promotions and sales, Twitter or Pinterest has the quickest impact. Check out these informative results of the 2014 Pew Research Center study.
Understand and find your target audience
Defining your target audience and knowing where to find them is the foundation to navigating the non-stop maze of social media. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest each have significantly different mixes in regards to average age and gender:
Average Age Range of Users: 25-45 years old
Gender of Users: 60% female, 40% male
Average Age Range of Users: 18-29 years old
Gender of Users: 50% female, 50% male
Average Age Range of Users: 18-35 years old
Gender of Users: 80% female, 20% male
If you’re looking for ways to define the particular needs of your audience, consider developing personas for your target social media audience. This will create a precise vision of exactly who they are, what content or information they’re craving, and where you should focus to communicate with them.
Consider the time commitment required
The keyword in social media is ‘social’, probably the most understated and forgotten portion of the equation. Not unlike good public relations, businesses should use social media as a source of ‘2-way communication’ with their audience, regardless of the platform.
This means that in addition to posting articles, videos, and other relevant posts you want your audience to ‘Like’ and ‘Share’, you need to interact with them.
How often should I post to my social networks?
The average amount of time spent by small businesses on social media per week? 6 hours and counting.
Bottom line: Don’t feel pressured to be on every platform. Start with the one that connects you with the right audience, aligns with your business’s needs, and one you can regularly manage.
Want more insight on social media marketing? Sign up for an upcoming ‘Fundamentals of Social Media’ webinar.
The post Social Media & Your Business: Choosing the Best Platform appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
Is your online store as customer-friendly as it could be? You want a visitor’s experience to be easy and enjoyable for them to make a purchase or book an appointment, and share their positive experience with friends. If your website isn’t up to par, you could be losing customers. Here’s a quick checklist of things that your site should have to meet customers’ expectations.
1. Social media icons
Make it simple for customers to follow you, share their wish lists and purchases, and inspire them to pass your social posts on to friends. Turning customers into brand advocates without adding to payroll is a big win.
2. An About Us page
Few things build trust like putting a face to a name. People want to know they’re doing business with a real person. An About Us page is the perfect way to tell a bit about your company, staff or even just yourself. Include a picture that shows customers who you are.
3. Your return policies
Customers like to know that if something arrives broken, doesn’t fit or just isn’t what they thought it would be, they can return it. Clearly post your return policies, including things like how many days they have, whether or not there’s a restocking fee, and if they can return the item to your store. If you offer FREE returns, where customers don’t have to pay return shipping, you may want to make it a headliner on your homepage. Zappos, an online shoe and clothing retailer, saw a 357 percent increase in sales after instituting a free return policy for a year.
4. Shipping rates and important deadlines
Nobody likes the sticker shock associated with shipping rates at the very end of the order. In fact, according to a June 2014 study released by UPS and comScore, unexpected shipping costs was the top reason for shopping cart abandonment. Include flat-rate shipping costs and an estimator that uses the customer’s zip code to provide shipping costs before checkout. Shipping time estimates are also vital, especially around Christmas, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day. Be sure to include options for speedier delivery during these peak purchase periods.
Shopify can help you add shipping tools to your site.
Besides decreasing the number of phone calls and emails that need a response, a Frequently Asked Questions page can satisfy customer needs with immediate answers to their most common questions. It’s safe to assume that customer frustration is synonymous with lost sales. In fact, according to a report by Forrester, 55 percent of adult customers are likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question. You can also provide links to other pages in your answers, which will save your customers multiple steps.
6. A search function
A search box provides a service to not only your customers but also your analytics. What better way to find out what your customers are looking for and how they word it? A good search function will take into consideration spelling mistakes, singular vs. plural words and even synonyms (e.g., pop, soda, cola).
Check out Swiftype. This tool can help you create and add a search bar to your site.
7. A social login option
Who doesn’t dread those lengthy registration processes when preparing to buy something from an online store? Offering a social login option allows your customers to use existing login information from one of their social networks, like Facebook or Twitter. That means there’s no additional username and password to remember (and decreased customer support for password retrieval), and no false email addresses.
If you’re using a WordPress site, you can install this option in a few easy steps.
8. Guest checkout
Another login option for the registration-weary customer is to provide a guest checkout. Nothing kills momentum like having to create an account from scratch just to make a purchase. In fact, according to a 2014 e-commerce survey by Visual Website Optimizer, 23 percent of users will abandon their shopping cart if they have to create a new user account.
9. Clear security protocol
That same Visual Website Optimizer survey found that 13 percent of shoppers abandon their shopping cart due to payment security concerns. It’s important that you take measures to secure customer information and explain those measures on our site. SSL Certificates encrypt all the data that is exchanged between the customer and your site.
With these nine website must-haves, your customers will have the quality of experience they expect.
Wendy Burt-Thomas is a full-time freelance writer with four books and thousands of published articles to her credit. Contact Wendy at WendyBurt@aol.com.
The post 9 Things Your Online Store Should Have To Keep Customers Happy appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
How are you currently engaging your customers? Studies show engaged customers have positive responses to businesses, which translate into higher sales.
You want customers to love your brand and go out of their way to buy your product or service. Loyal customers like these can boost your revenue by 23 percent, according to a customer engagement survey conducted by Gallup.
One of the easiest ways to increase customer engagement is through email. By sending the right messages and promotions, you can increase engagement and sales.
What kinds of emails should you send? We’re glad you asked.
This guide will help you create four emails (featuring examples!) that are designed specifically to boost engagement. Plus, we’ll highlight the components of the email that you should try to mimic when you sit down to create your own.
1. Welcome email
Making a good first impression is vital when it comes to customer engagement. You want to start the relationship off right with a conversational and friendly tone that is in the voice of your brand. Show the customer your appreciation and explain the benefits of your email list.
In this example, UK retailer House of Fraser provides an introduction to its new guests with this friendly and organized welcome email:
Tips to create a welcome email:
Pro tip: Consider automating your welcome email.
With a VerticalResponse account, you can trigger an email to send within hours of a new contact joining your list. All you have to do is create the email and set up a delivery time. It’s a hassle-free way to guarantee immediate engagement with prospective customers.
When you’re ready, use these step-by-step instructions to automate your emails through VerticalResponse.
2. Event email
What better way to engage your customers than to talk with them face-to-face? Whether you host a holiday sale, customer appreciation event or a webinar, interacting with customers on a personal level is one of the best ways to make a connection.
Event emails are just as important for non-profits too. When volunteers and donors see their contributions in action, they’re engaged and more likely to continue their support.
Here’s an example of an event email template:
A food bank invites guests to an upcoming event with this simple, yet informative email.
Tips to create an event email:
Pro tip: Use tools to improve the registration process.
Customers can register by sending you an email, but there are registration tools that can help.
Try creating a Facebook Event. With this tool, guests can RSVP to your event. Once you create the event on Facebook, include the link in an invitation email. When a customer clicks on the link, they’re taken right to Facebook to RSVP. Plus, your fans can invite their friends, which can give your attendance numbers a real boost.
When you’re ready to create a Facebook event, check out these step-by-step instructions.
If you’re hosting an event that requires a registration fee, you should check out PayPal or Eventbrite. You can set up a page for your event and, once again, use that link in your email so customers can easily register for your event. Both PayPal and Eventbrite will take a small percentage of each transaction.
3. Email Newsletter
Friends swap stories about their day and keep each other informed about what’s happening in their lives. To maintain a friendly relationship with your customers or donors, you should do the same. Keep your audience in the know by sending out a regular newsletter. The more your audience knows about your business, the more likely they are to frequent your checkout counter.
Here’s an example of a newsletter:
SurveyMonkey sends a well-designed newsletter that’s full of helpful advice.
Tips to create an email newsletter:
Pro tip: How to get new ideas for your newsletter.
Coming up with topics for your newsletter can be tricky, especially since a newsletter is an ongoing commitment. Your newsletter is free space that can cover a range of topics, but when you’re stuck, turn to our list of ‘75 Email Newsletter Topics’ for help.
4. A ‘freebie email’
Keep customers smiling (and buying) with an occasional free offer. Consider offering a gift with purchase, tickets to a local event or a free download. A freebie is a nice way to maintain that warm, loyal feeling that you’re working for.
Here’s an example:
Craftsy offers a free pattern with this email.
Tips to create a freebie email:
Pro tip: Segment your list.
You don’t have to offer a freebie to everyone on your list. This is a great time to segment your contacts. Offer the freebie to your loyal customers, first-time clients or inactive customers that you’re trying to bring back.
Of course, these are just four ways to engage your audience. You can also create a social media competition and invite people to participate via email. Consider creating a survey and ask customers what they’d like to see from your company. Feel free to get creative and explore new ways to engage your audience through email marketing.
To make the VerticalResponse email editor even easier to use, you now have access to three new content blocks that will have you on the path to an incredible email in minutes. In today’s episode of Tips in 2, we have the pleasure of getting a demonstration of these content blocks from VerticalResponse’s Product Manager, Patrick Khajehtoorian.
Patrick shows how to use and edit the button block, image group and divider line to make emails and newsletters professional and aesthetically pleasing. Click on the video below to see all the specific details.
If you’d like to check out the email editor for yourself, sign up for a free account today!
The post How to Use the Email Editor to Make Your Emails Shine [VIDEO] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
When it comes to developing a strong brand, it’s important to be ‘in the know’ with current trends in marketing and advertising strategies to help create and sustain a consistent brand voice. Who better to learn from than the most influential men and women in business? Follow these 3 LinkedIn influencers to get tips and tricks on how you can create a consistent brand voice for your company.
Richard Branson – Founder of Virgin Group
Richard Branson shows no signs of slowing down when it comes to expanding the Virgin Group. He started with Virgin Records and then branched out into the world of mobile communication and air travel. His most recent endeavors include Virgin Galactic as a space tourism venture and Virgin Fuels as a means to produce cheaper fuels for automobiles and airplanes.
Brands need to relate to their audience on a personal level to build trust. This has never been truer than it is now in our consumer-driven economy. Consumers use the Internet to educate themselves about the products and services before buying.
Every one of the Virgin Group’s entities embodies Richard’s fun-loving attitude from the logo and website down to the safety video on Virgin Atlantic flights.
Follow Richard on LinkedIn to learn how being yourself can be your greatest asset when it comes to managing your brand.
Beth Comstock – CMO at GE
In 2003, Beth was hired by GE to help increase GE’s brand value. She was the first CMO hired in over 20 years. For a company that was struggling to be a relatable and compelling brand, Beth took the bull by the horns and built a creative and unexpected brand experience for GE’s customers.
You wouldn’t expect such a large corporation to have much of a sense of humor, but GE has stepped up their comedic game with social media. Their Pinterest page, alone is thoroughly entertaining, not to mention informative!
To create a more relatable brand, Beth stresses the importance of starting small. “We’re constantly tinkering with our business models to get leaner and more agile and get closer to our customers – to act small even though we’re big.”
David Edelman – McKinsey partner leading Digital Marketing Strategy Practice
David is no spring chicken in the world of digital marketing. With over 25 years of experience helping marketing executives accelerate growth for their business, he’s well equipped to offer advice on marketing and brand development.
He stresses the importance of building a community for your brand to create a forum where customers feel comfortable communicating with your business and with each other. He believes building communities will create brand advocates and help new customers with their purchase decisions.
When you have some time to kill waiting for your lunch to arrive or on your commute to work, check out these three influencers for tips and tricks on building a consistent brand voice.
Keep up to date with marketing trends by signing up for our weekly newsletter.
Pay-per-click advertising is a popular and economical way to generate more website traffic and reach a larger target audience online.
Although it can be quite daunting to get started, the ROI on most pay-per-click ads is higher than its other digital and offline alternatives including direct mail and using basic keywords in your content. To help speed up your learning curve, we’ve created a list of frequently asked questions designed to give you the foundation you need to start a pay-per-click campaign.
1. What is pay-per-click advertising?
Let’s start with the definition. Pay-per-click advertising, or PPC advertising, is a specific type of search engine marketing designed to drive traffic to your website. When certain keywords are entered into a search engine, your ad appears in the search results. In terms of cost, you only pay when the ad is clicked on, hence the name pay-per-click advertising.
2. Where do ads appear and what do they look like?
Ads appear at the top of search results and along the right side of the list.
The ads can have several different looks depending on which search engine you decide to advertise with. In the example below, “Sandals For Kids” was typed into Yahoo.com. The top four links, as well as the images inside the box, and the small text that’s underneath it are all considered PPC advertising.
3. What are the benefits of PPC ads?
It’s quite tough to get your site on page one for search results. With PPC ads, your website not only gets “front and center attention,” but it is also displayed to customers who are looking specifically for your product or service. Plus, these eye-catching ads can be more affordable for small businesses compared to other types of advertising.
4. What sites offer PPC advertising?
When it comes to PPC advertising, you have several options. Google Adwords is the most popular, but there are several others that you should research. Here’s a quick list:
5. What are the components of a PPC ad?
To start, you might want to opt for a text ad. However, you can create a PPC ad that’s a banner, video or product listing. When getting started, use the guidelines below to design your ad:
Of course, there are length restrictions for each component. For example, with Google Adwords, headlines can only be 25 characters long.
6. How do you find the best keywords to use in an ad?
When you create an ad, you should select a set of keywords that will trigger your ad to appear based on popular searches. Keyword selection can make or break your ad, so you must choose wisely. Fortunately, there are tools to help you select the best keywords. Try Google Keyword Planner, Keyword Tool or check out this list of keyword tools.
7. What’s the difference between broad, exact and negative match?
When you create an ad, you’ll not only select keywords, but you’ll also decide how “exact” you want the match to be. Here are some terms to be familiar with.
8. How can I target my PPC ad?
Although search engines vary, most use these three basic targeting options:
9. Where can I find more resources on PPC advertising?
We’ve compiled a list of useful resources to help expand your basic understanding of PPC. Get started by clicking through these links:
Now you’re ready to begin your campaign. Head over to the PPC advertising page on the search engine of your choice and set up an account. Remember, start with a small budget and do a little experimenting to see what works for your business before launching a full-scale effort.
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Looking for an easy and affordable way to promote your business? Try Vine. You can use this video-sharing app to create six-second videos to captivate your audience. We shared Six Reasons to Use Vine for Your Business in part one of this guide. In part two, we explain everything you need to know in Getting Started: How to Use Vine for Your Business. In this third and final part, we give you five ideas along with several examples to get your creative juices flowing.
Here are five ways Vine can work to promote your business:
1. Ask customers to participate in a Vine competition
Vine has become an everyday tool, which means your customers are likely familiar with it. Why not ask your customers or clients to produce a video for you?
Consider creating a Vine competition that encourages customers to create a video that showcases your product or brand in some way.
For example, Disney created a competition that asked its fans to show how much they loved Disney Parks with its “Vine Your Disney Side” competition. Users had to submit their Vine by a certain deadline and use the hashtag #DisneySideCompetition. Cash prizes were given away, along with a chance for one winner to work with Disney to create a series of videos.
This kind of competition generates what marketers call “user-generated content,” which you can use to market your business. Put the winning video on your website, ask Facebook fans to vote for their favorite, and tweet new submissions as they come in. The promotions are endless.
2. Show off a new product or service
Planning to launch a new product or service? A Vine is a great, quick way to give your audience a sneak peek.
For example, eBay introduced a new delivery service with a Vine. With eBay Now, customers can shop and get their orders delivered within an hour. The e-commerce giant created two videos. The first video revealed the new service, and the second outlined the area that can utilize the new delivery feature. Both are simple, yet creative videos.
3. Create a timeline
Consider creating a timeline that showcases the evolution of your business, product or logo.
Adidas used the timeline idea to show the evolution of the FIFA World Cup soccer ball. Take a look at the example and consider trying something similar for your business.
4. Make a connection to a current event
When a current event or trending topic rolls around, capitalize on its popularity by connecting it to your product or brand. For example, when Opening Day of baseball is around the corner, make a vine that combines America’s favorite pastime with your business.
Don’t limit yourself to sporting events. Any current event will work. Volkswagen, for example, made a Vine during Discovery’s Shark Week. Check out this Vine.
5. Show your product in a clever way
Some might say you can’t be creative in six seconds, but the limited amount of time is exactly what encourages creativity.
Need an idea? Try to show customers how to use your product in a different way. Post the video on your social channels and encourage customers to comment and explain how they use your product.
Or, just make a cool video that has your product in it. Samsung created a clever video that showcases several of its smartphones. An animated basketball player moves through various phones. Check it out.
Want to learn more about Vine? Don’t miss the first two parts to this guide:
The post How to Use Twitter’s Vine To Promote Your Business [GUIDE - Part III] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
Starting a newsletter from scratch may seem a bit daunting. If you’ve never made one before, or you feel like your current newsletter campaign is in dire need of an overhaul, this post is for you. With a few tips and best practices from this two-part post, even as a first-timer you can create a successful email newsletter campaign that keeps readers engaged and eager for fresh content.
Before you worry about the design of the newsletter, determine the type of content to include. Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of my newsletter?”
Depending on your business, industry, and time of the year, this answer could vary widely. Your goal may be to increase traffic to your online store or blog, direct readers to a landing page for an event, make an appointment, or some combination of the above. If you’re stumped for content, we’ve got a few ideas to inspire you.
Once you’ve determined the goal, follow these three tips when creating content:
1) The 80/20 Rule
Your newsletter should strike a balance between educational content and self-promotional content (and yes, the 20% part is for promotional content). Why so little promotional content? Because your readers may become overwhelmed and annoyed if the majority of your newsletter is telling them to buy, buy, buy.
Subscribers want educational or informative value. That can come in the form of breaking news about your company, product, service, or industry. If your content leans too far to the self-promotional side, you may risk burning out your list with higher than normal unsubscribe rates and spam complaints.
2) Set expectations on the Sign up Form
Tell new subscribers exactly what they can expect from your newsletter. You can provide this information on your sign up form page. It’s helpful to include both the type of content they will receive (product updates, industry news, informative blog posts, etc.) and the frequency in which they will receive it.
As long as you set newsletter expectations, you can take rule #1 with a grain of salt. Let’s say you have a daily deals site. If you explain to potential new subscribers that they’ll receive a weekly newsletter chock full of nothing but sweet savings and promotions, then it’s OK to offer up less educational content.
3) Use a compelling subject line so subscribers want to read your content
The subject line is perhaps (after deliverability) the most important aspect of your email content. After all, if they aren’t compelled to open your email after reading your subject line, then they won’t see all of that great content you put together!
You can find a ton of information on the art and science of writing subject lines. We frequently blog about it. You can find a few posts here, here, and here. Most importantly, use a creative and unique subject line for each and every newsletter. In other words, don’t start every subject line with “This Week’s Newsletter.” Instead treat your newsletter like an actual newspaper and your subject line as a headline that inspires readers to read on.
That wraps up part one of Tips for Email Newsletter First-timers. In part two, we’ll dive into design fundamentals so your email layout supports your content. Stay tuned for more!
The post Tips for Email Newsletter Campaign First-Timers – Part I: Content appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
Showing will always trump telling. And if you can deliver the message quickly, even better. That’s why Vine is a powerful and creative way to promote your business. In the first of this three-part series, we covered Six Reasons to Use Vine for Your Business. Now we want to share with you how to shoot and share videos on Vine. Here’s a step-by-step guide that explains everything you need to know.
From the main page, you’ll see a Vine feed, just like any other social platform. You also have options at the bottom to explore Vines by category, shoot video, check your activity and update your profile.
Create your first vine
First-time users can take a how-to tour, which walks you through shooting your first video, but everything you need to know is below.
To record, press the camera icon and hold your finger on the screen to record. When you release your finger, you stop recording.
You can shoot small snippets of video, and the app puts them together. For example, you can shoot three seconds of your hands opening a box and another three seconds of a new product coming out of the box.
While you film, you have access to options that can improve your video. We’ll explain the icons from left to right.
Most of the buttons are self-explanatory, but you might not be familiar with the ghost function. It allows you to see the last frame of video captured. It’s particularly helpful if you’re creating stop-motion graphics, which is a more advanced way to animate objects. For now, stick with the basics.
Preview your vine
Click the arrow in the top right corner of your screen to preview your video.
Add a caption and location
Any additional information you can give a customer is great, so add a caption and a location.
Edit your vine
The editing options are basic. Here’s what the icons do from left to right.
Play backward. This will start your video at the end. So if you shoot a room from left to right, when you hit this button your video will reverse, showing the room from right to left.
When you’re finished shooting, the app prompts you to share it. You can opt to share it on Vine, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or send it to a friend.
Once shared people can like it, comment on it and share it.
Add special effects
Once you’re familiar with the basics, you can start adding special effects to your videos. Here are a few effects for beginners to try out:
Hold a piece of paper over your lens so all you see is black or white. Quickly remove the paper to reveal what you’re trying to shoot. As the camera adjusts, it creates a cool transition. You can do this at the beginning and the end of your video. Here’s an example of how it looks.
Grab a plastic bottle or a piece of plastic to create dream sequence. By holding the plastic over the lens, you’ll create a blurry-dreamy look.
When you’re ready to up the special effects ante, check out this Mashable article that explains a few cool techniques.
Ready to learn more? Check out the next section of our Vine guide: 5 Ways to Use Vine to Promote Your Business.
The post How to Use Twitter’s Vine To Promote Your Business – Part II [GUIDE] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
Have you noticed Google is supplying answers to questions right on the search page? If you type in, “How many ounces in a gallon?” the conversion comes right up. You don’t have to click on any website to find the answer. This feature, which Google calls Instant Answers is handy, but it can have an adverse effect on your company’s website traffic. Here’s what the instant answer to our question looks like:
Let’s say you offer cooking classes and your website has the answer to the question above. If searchers get an instant response, there’s no need to scroll for the answer, or click through to your website.
Google is constantly making changes like this. Keeping up with them is next to impossible if you’re running a small business. However, there are a few DIY tasks that you can do to keep traffic flowing to your website.
1. Use email marketing to reach customers
As Google creates more and more features like Instant Answers, it becomes even more important not to rely on it for your website traffic.
Google is a business with its own goals and revenue streams that don’t necessarily coincide with benefits to your business. If you want more website traffic, you should turn to marketing efforts that you’re in control of like email marketing.
Email marketing gives you a direct approach. With email marketing, you don’t sit around and wait for Google to send traffic your way; you go out and get it. If you work to grow a healthy list of contacts, you can reach a target audience that’s interested in your product or service.
By sending a variety of emails, you can refer your customers back to your website. You can design emails that encourage sales, increase appointments, educate clients about offerings or invite them to an upcoming event. The options are endless.
Need a little help getting started? Check out these two email marketing guides:
2. Provide in-depth content
Google’s Instant Answers are usually a number or a name. It can only handle basic questions that have a very specific, simple answer, like the time, temperature, or a calculation. It can also answer questions like, “What year was Facebook launched?” but it can’t handle questions like, “How can I boost my Facebook following?”
Knowing this, you should work to provide in-depth content on your blog that goes beyond surface answers. If your company doesn’t have a blog, be sure to share high-quality content on your social pages, so your customers rely on you for support.
3. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
The Instant Answer that Google provides takes up quite a bit of space on the search results page. That means there’s less space for websites like yours to be listed. With limited space, it’s important to make sure your website is ranked as high as possible to maximize exposure.
How do you improve your Google ranking? It’s not a simple process, but one of the easiest ways to improve your relationship with Google is to make sure your site is mobile-friendly. If you have an old-school site that doesn’t load properly on tablets and smartphones, Google will demote your site in a search.
Your site should have a responsive design. With this design, your site looks great on every device. Not sure if your site is responsive? Use this website checker to see how your website looks on various devices and screen sizes.
If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, it’s time for an upgrade. If you have a web designer, you should reach out to make improvements. If you created your own website, you might need to upgrade your template or start from scratch.
If you start from scratch, just about every DIY website builder has a responsive design now. Deluxe offers free DIY plans that include the website builder plus email and social marketing.
In addition to switching to a responsive website design, you can always improve your Google ranking through search engine optimization (SEO) techniques. If you need help, check out our previous post on SEO resources.
Driving traffic to your website is a delicate balance. You should do everything you can to refer customers to your site, so you don’t have to depend on Google for all of your traffic. However, Google has a lot of power. Getting your website listed high in searches is beneficial, so you should also keep your site in good Google standings. The tips above are meant to give you multiple traffic-boosting options.
The post Changes in Google Searches Could Hurt Website Traffic: Learn What to Do appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
Six Reasons to Use Vine for Your Business (Part I)
Are you ready to get your Vine on? By now you’ve probably heard about Twitter’s video-sharing app, Vine.
It’s a great promotional tool for small businesses, so we’ve created a three-part guide to walk you through all that Vine has to offer.
This section, Six Reasons to Use Vine for Your Business, serves as an introduction where we’ll explain what Vine is and discuss its promotional advantages.
Additional pieces of the guide include:
What is Vine?
Vine is an app that helps any smartphone user create highly sharable six-second videos. That’s right – six seconds. That’s the longest Vine, or video, you can create.
The app is user-friendly, and you don’t need any video experience at all, which is why so many people are drawn to using it.
Aside from its shooting and editing capabilities, Vine is, at its core, like many other social channels. You see a stream of videos from those you follow, share or comment on videos, and network to build an audience.
So, what’s the benefit?
1. A large audience
Vine boasts an audience of 40 million users, with 100 million people watching videos monthly. That translates to a high volume of potential customers to be reached by your short videos.
2. The next big thing
Facebook and Twitter are still popular, but newer social platforms like Vine, Instagram and Snapchat are giving the older models a run for their followers. Vine is especially popular with millennials.
3. Easy to learn
You don’t need any video experience to create a six-second vine. The app is so user-friendly, you can set up an account and create your first video within five minutes flat.
4. Create attention-grabbing videos
To grab attention, you need to stand out. In only six seconds, you’re forced to do that. You can create a video through Vine and share it on your other social channels too.
5. Create brand awareness
Videos can educate consumers about your brand or product. A six-second video is more likely to be watched than a four-sentence explanation on Twitter about your brand’s mission.
6. Boost sales
You can use Vine to showcase products and services, broadcast a sale or even highlight an upcoming webinar. When it comes to promoting your business, your options are endless with Vine.
Ready to shoot and share your first vine? Check back for the next part of our Vine guide, Getting Started: How to Use Vine for Your Business.
The post How to Use Twitter’s Vine To Promote Your Business – Part I [GUIDE] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
Our recent blog post on how to be an email marketing superhero reveals how to get a 30% lift in email open rate. The power resides in the practice of sending follow-up emails. You can expect an average open rate of 20-40 percent with your initial email, depending on your industry and the type of email you send. That’s a pretty good open rate, but what about the other 60-80 percent? Do you just chalk it up to bad luck or inopportune timing? There are many things that contribute to your email not being opened, but follow-up emails provide a second chance.
In this episode of Tips in 2, we jump into what follow-up emails are, how VerticalResponse has automated the process for you, and how easy it is to touch your non-responders a second time. Take a look at the video below to see how to increase your opens by 30 percent.
For more information on our follow-up email feature, click here.
The post How to Use Follow-Up Emails to Get More Opens [VIDEO] appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.
Trying to pique readers’ curiosity to entice them to open an email is so 2009. The world of email subject lines is growing more sophisticated as emailers grow more spam and sales savvy. It’s safe to say your subject line is more important than ever. Coming up with them can be fun, though, if you use some of these tips.
Statistics show that 64 percent of people will open an email because of the subject line, and nearly half of them list that as their only deciding factor. Email is powerful, and your subject line is key to unlocking that power.
To help you create successful subject lines, we’ve put together a list of unique tips. These tips aren’t your ordinary, everyday tips like “Be creative.” These five tips are meant to get your creative juices flowing.
1. Try a pop culture reference
There is nothing – we mean nothing – like a clever or punny pop culture reference. You might quote a line from a movie, reference a bit of celebrity gossip or use a song title. Now is a perfect time for this type of title because there’s a wealth of pop culture. Plus, Netflix-type services are also helping people connect with classic movies, music and TV shows. Brainstorm ideas and keep a notebook handy for particularly memorable puns you think of or come across.
2. Hashtag it up
Talk of trending topics and other references to social media can also attract readers. Consider drawing inspiration from weekly hashtags or recent trends. Do you use Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest? Move those principles over to your email regimen.
This email with a hashtag in its subject line shows great social media savvy. The line could appear as a Facebook or Twitter post.
3. Give and ye shall receive
Modern marketing relies on the idea of giving to your customers before you ask them to buy from you. To get people to click your emails, tell them what you’re offering – but be sure not to oversell it. Try offering a gift with purchase, discounted shipping or a free consultation. By giving something of value to your customers, they are more likely to come back for additional products or services.
4. Tell a joke
You might make them laugh with a pithy observation, some sort of joke or even just a funny anecdote. If you visit any humor sites, watch sitcoms or follow any humor feeds on social media, think about something that made you laugh and how you might translate that principle to an email subject title.
Try looking through these tips for increasing your subject line humor, too.
5. Be descriptive
If it feels forced, you’re overwhelmed, or you just can’t come up with anything, it’s not the end of the world. Just give a descriptive subject with your most important words near the front of the line. Describe a new product or give specific details about an upcoming sale.
Subject lines can be as fun to create as they are to read. With a little practice and help from the tips above, you can create some memorable subject lines that get customers to react.
To continue to find subject line inspiration, look through our list of great subject lines and see what moves you.
Sarah Tanksalvala is a freelance business, technology and lifestyle writer based in Evergreen, Colorado.
Direct mail is a great way for you to spread the word about your business and increase sales. Direct mail also drives more traffic to your website, and as a result, more people sign up for your mailing list. How do you ensure your direct mail avoids being tossed out as junk mail? Here are a few tips:
1. Include relevant information: To entice people to give your mailer a second look, provide them with pertinent information. For example, realtors often send data about recent home sale prices in the neighborhood. This bit of information inspires people to pay notice to the mailer and gives the brand some extra attention.
2. Personalize your mailer: Most people take extra notice when they see their name. Instead of just the address block, include your prospect’s name within the content of your mailer. If you have information on your customers purchase history, send them a specific promotion to buy again or offer similar types of products.
3. Give an incentive: Provide a limited time promotional code or buy one get one offer. If you want the receiver to respond, an incentive works well. For example, an insurance company can offer a portable cooler in the summer for anyone who calls for a quote.
4. Target your audience: To be truly effective in a direct mail campaign you need to target your audience. Find people in your specific niche market instead of mass mailing to everyone. For example, vacation cruise lines often target retirees who may have more time to travel. Companies offering baby-related products can send offers to those who are subscribing to parenting magazines.
5. Attach something to keep: To keep your company’s name at the top of customer’s mind, attach something with your logo that they want to keep. Examples include refrigerator magnet clips, post-its or local baseball team schedules with your contact information.
6. Combine direct mail with email: Follow up with an email reminding prospects of your mail offer to further the response rate. Emails can also be sent before direct mail to let your customers know that a mail offer can be expected.
As with all marketing campaigns, it’s important to evaluate success. That way you can compare different tactics to see what works best for your business!