Category Archives: Email Marketing

15 GOOD Ways to Build Your Email List (And a Few Ways Not to)

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laptop with email icons used for email marketingTrue story: we once knew a business owner (not one of our clients) who told us he purchased a trade association list so he could add all the emails of the members to his email list.  He thought it was a brilliant business move, but it turned into a major goose egg.  Turns out, the people he was emailing didn’t want his emails (why should they, when they never asked for it?).

Email marketing is a powerful tool in your online marketing toolbox with one of the highest return-on-investments (ROIs) and an excellent way to promote your content—if you build your email list the right way.  Building your email list the wrong way (see our list of ways NOT to build your email list below) can land you (and your email server) in the same boat as stealing online images—-in hot water, increase the amount of spam reports against you, and ultimately sabotage your email marketing results. (If you need more information on successful email marketing the right way or a company to help you execute a solid email marketing campaign, you know who to call.)

How to build your email list

  1. On your solidly built website (more about building a solid website here)
  2. On direct mail pieces
  3. On social media
  4. Through a contest
  5. On your blog
  6. Make your emails easy to forward and share with others
  7. With a marketing piece in your packaging
  8. In your email signature
  9. At the end of your video (direct them to a link on your web page)
  10. At tradeshows and events
  11. Through social media ads
  12. With a QR code
  13. At check out
  14. In sales meetings
  15. With a discount

How not to build your email list

  1. Buying email addresses
  2. Adding customers to your list without their permission
  3. Buying lists from another business
  4. By using old lists that were collected in the past (but not with the users’ consent to email)
  5. From membership lists

Step by step: Make SEO, Content, Social Media & Email Work Together for You

puzzle with hand pushing in last piece of digital marketing puzzle We’ve met more than a few business owners who look at digital marketing tools as aliens from foreign planets.  What’s even more common is for them to look at each of these “UFOs” as all from a separate planet (or galaxy!), without putting all the pieces together and recognizing the potential of well-coordinated online marketing plan.

We’ve written about the ‘what’ of these online marketing tools: search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing, and how they are a must of any business marketing plan. Now we’re going to give you a general idea of how you can make them work together as an integrated marketing plan (think of it as a coordinated universe if we want to stick with space analogy), saving you time and effort in the process—and increasing your business bottom line, if executed correctly.

Start with a solid foundation: your website

What good is a stellar email marketing campaign if you don’t have solid website pages to send your audience back to?  What kind of sales numbers are you going to achieve if you entertain your audience on social media, but don’t have any more business info to give them?  Start with a well-built website (or hire experts to do it for you) with all the ‘must haves:’ optimized information about all your products or services, your business, and a way for people to reach you.  Optimize the content on your pages for search engines and your audience (use these tips), and use SEO to attract local customers searching for products and services pertinent to your business (see how this is all starting to come together?).   

Use your sales cycle to plan

Your efforts to market your website should follow your sales cycle.  For example, if you are a caterer, look back at your sales for the past year to dictate your marketing plan for next year.  Your sales team or customer service representatives would be an excellent source for this information; after all, they are interacting with your potential and existing customers on a regular basis.  An example would look like:

December-March Booking weddings (because of high engagement rate)

April-June Booking company picnics

July-August Booking weddings

September-November Booking holiday parties

This calendar is very simplified, but you can see how your sales cycle would drive your online marketing calendar.  Based on this basic example, the content you produce would match what your sales team is seeing from customers so your entire team can use the materials you produce to reach your targeted audience.

Use strategy to dictate content creation

Remember just because you’re following your sales calendar doesn’t mean you need to produce content that is entirely about selling your business.  You are trying to provide value to your customer, and you’re not going to attract new customers if you’re screaming “buy, buy, buy!” in their face.  It’s the wrong first impression.

What you should do is compile a list of subjects related to your calendar.  These subjects can stem from customers’ frequently asked questions or topics that your sales team feels would entertain your customers and draw potential customers (more ideas for content topics here).  If you outsource your content creation, make sure you connect with your marketing team on a regular basis.  Make sure you integrate big events into your calendar as well, such as a trade show or open house.  Use video, quality images, and other media as part of your plan—remember not everyone is driven to text alone.  Make sure you post content to a blog (this is a very common and effective content marketing tool, more info here) on a regular basis (this is very important), both to keep your audience’s and search engine’s attention (search engine optimization).

Don’t forget that your content is being produced to convert your customers; include links back to your website, search-optimized pages, and social media channels so your customers have an easy way to buy and ask questions.

Draft a strategic distribution plan (and stick to it)

Businessman sitting at table and screaming in megaphone on laptop while content marketingQuality content without a distribution plan is like a really good secret no one hears.  Add another dimension to your content calendar with ways you are going to share your content, such as social media and email marketing.  When adding this layer to your online marketing, keep the word ‘manageable’ in mind.  A good distribution plan is no good if you can’t execute it.  Remember, you don’t have to be on every social media channel out there, only the social media sites that fit your audience (we found a useful information on social media channels and demographics here).

Share your content as much as possible and make your content shareable so your customers can share it.  Make sure your sales team pushes it out as well.  Ask them to share it on their professional social media channels (if applicable) and via email.  Start building an email list of customers and potential customers, with the customers’ permission.  Use your content in emails, and drive the customer back to your blog, website, and social media channels so they have a variety of ways to contact you and buy your product or get a quote.

In addition to sharing content, don’t be afraid to share interesting articles and videos, notices with upcoming events (i.e. grand openings, trade shows, open houses, etc.), faces of your business, and interesting things you see on the job.  Keep everything you share somewhat professional; you don’t want to give your business a black eye by making one of these social media marketing mistakes.

How to make it ALL work for you

We wish we could give you a hard-and-fast plan with every online marketing tool integrated into an effective plan for your business (and we haven’t even touched out to add traditional marketing to the mix), but the truth is that every business and industry is different.  Plan accordingly, and be flexible.  Test out what works and doesn’t work, and outsource to the experts if you feel overwhelmed by “space age” online marketing.

Are you taking advantage of all the digital marketing tools that increase sales?

search engine optimizationYou know you need to do something about online marketing, but you don’t know what. You’ve heard all the buzz terms: social media, search engine optimization, content marketing, online marketing, email marketing, digital marketing, blog; but you have no idea what they mean, and how to use them for your business. You’re not alone; we talk to business owners and managers every day who are in the same boat. They know their business needs the online exposure. They know it is the wave of the future as statistics repeatedly show that more people are using online to find local businesses—and not the phone book.

Increasingly, we’re finding more and more of our job is to educate business owners about these tools; they know they need them, but they don’t know why or even what they are. We’ve addressed why in past blog posts, but here’s the what of digital tools and, more importantly, how to make them work for your business.

SEO

local seoSearch engine optimization is just what it says—creating an optimal website for search engines to browse and rank on search engine result pages (SERPs). There are three different ways to optimize your website:

  • By creating regular and fresh user-friendly web pages/content users want to read.
  • By using search engine optimization tactics on your website such as writing accurate headlines and excellent content on each page.
  • By hiring a search engine optimization firm to optimize your website and use specialized SEO technology to target your local customers and get to the top of their search engine list.

Local search engine optimization technology can get you in front of search engine listings in towns and cities within a 10, 20 or 50 mile radius. Even if you don’t sell products online, or have any interest in e-commerce, you need to integrate search engine optimization into your marketing strategy because people are looking for products, services and information online—a lot of people. More than 90% of users turn to search engines for information, and local SEO technology—like KD Interactive’s—can get your business website in organic search engine listings using long-tail keywords your audience searches for.

Content Marketing

content marketingContent marketing is creating and sharing content. One of the most effective content marketing tools we have found is a blog. A blog is a website filled with content, such as written articles, videos, photos, podcasts, infographics—the possibilities are endless. The goal of a blog is two-fold:

  • To give your audience what they want. The #1 rule of marketing is to know your audience. If you are a sports retailer, your audience is going to be different than a spa or wedding venue’s customers. Find out what your audience wants to know and give it to them. How do you figure that out? Ask them. Listen to them on your social media sites. In a way, you’re using a business blog to provide customer service.
  • Build trust. If you give your customers and potential customers what they want: entertainment, answers to their questions, knowledge, you can earn their trust. In the old days, this trust was earned over the phone or in person. Now, customers are using search engines to find information. They’re cruising the web because it’s convenient and easy to find what they need, both in information, services and products. Or they’re clicking on links they receive in their email. A business blog gives them the information they’re looking for on the internet, and gives them links to find more out about products or to contact a business. A second part of this goal is that regular content builds trust with a tool that more than 90% of online users turn to for information: search engines. Top search engines gauge your website’s validity and the strength of your pages based on the content of your website pages. By posting regular blog posts, you are showing search engines that your content is updated, quality and relevant—three criteria they use to rank websites for search engine users.

A business blog is full of content that should be shared via social media sites, emails to your customers, as guest posts on other blogs, even as customer service when a question is asked.

Successful business blogs contain relatable and regular content. What does regular mean? Regular means that you post content once, twice, or three times a week, or twice a month—whatever you can manage—without gaps in content posting. Unfortunately, many business blog writers start out with best of intentions and lose steam. If you don’t have time for a business blog, contact a content marketing company that can keep your blog updated with content specific to your business. We’ve said it before: there’s no shame or blame in outsourcing. Use this list of do’s and don’ts for outsourcing, and remember that you still need to allocate time to give input to get maximum content marketing results.

Social Media Marketing

social media marketingSocial media marketing is using a social media network (or networks) as a way to communicate with your customers and potential customers, and for them to communicate with you through posts, comments, and reviews. This is a two-way street! While you may be on social media networks for sales conversions, this is your chance to listen to what your customers want and give them relevant resources to help solve their problems (and no the answer to their life problems is not always your product or service!). Social media marketing also gives your business other benefits:

  • Ability to provide excellent and prompt customer service (with an emphasis on prompt!). Studies show that customers expect a response within two hours, and that number is dropping. Respond promptly, because studies also repeatedly show that customers come back to businesses who have delivered quality customer service in the past—even if their product or service costs more than competitors.
  • Unsolicited testimonials. Customers can leave reviews or comments about your products on your social media sites. Obviously, these reviews can go both ways, but you can also turn those negative comments into a positive. Start by not deleting negative comments or reviews. Instead, embrace the opportunity to show your business can provide excellent customer service. If the reviewer is particularly angry, use these tips to defuse the situation.
  • Chance to sell your products, and your company. We’ve seen businesses where the customers messaged to set up appointments. We’ve seen other customers comment on pictures on social media and tag their friends because they really like the product.

When choosing what social media network to join, determine where your audience is online. For example, if your audience is predominantly female, choose a social media network with a strong female following. Also factor in the amount of time and commitment you have for the network or networks. Many a business has signed up for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and the works because they want to be everywhere and everything, without a thought about the amount of time it takes to properly maintain each social media network. Each network has its own audience and way of doing things. If you’re not playing by the “rules” on each social media network, you’re not going to get the results you signed up for. A solid social media presence has:

  • Regular posts (the definition of regular is dependent upon the social media network)
  • Relevant resources for your customers
  • A customer-centric presence, not a business-centric approach
  • Prompt replies to customers questions and comments (excellent customer service)

If you want to cash in on the benefits and opportunities that come with social media but don’t have the time, outsource your business social media page or profile to experts that can manage your social media network(s). Remember, don’t measure your success on the number of followers, but on the number of engaged followers.

Email Marketing

digital marketingStatistics have repeatedly shown that using emails to communicate with your customers and potential customers gets results. A staggering 66% of online users made a purchase as a result of email marketing. To get started in email marketing, you need emails of interested customers. Note the catch: interested customers, so don’t start buying random email lists. Even worse, if you “steal” emails, such as sending numerous emails to an email account without proper consent; you run the risk of getting your server blacklisted after the email user flags your emails as junk. So what’s the best way to create a valuable list of interested customers?

  • Give them an incentive. Offer your customers a one-time discount if they sign up for your email list.
  • Create a graphic or pop up on your website or blog. Chances are, if the user is interested in your website or blog articles, they want to know to more. This is your chance to deliver with emails that contain valuable information and discounts.
  • Include your ask in your pitch at tradeshows and events. Train every salesman or staff member to incorporate a request for a prospect’s email address in their sales pitch. Take the opportunity to keep the interest of potential customers with valuable information (not just sales pitches) and relevant discounts.
  • Give your customers the option during or after their purchase. Add an opt-in option for customers making on-line purchases. Put a card in your shipments asking customers to keep in touch.
  • Ask your customers for their email addresses on social media. Create a social media contest, and include a request for their email in the contest. Just make sure you are honest about what you are asking; you don’t want to lose your customers’ trust.

Once you’ve got a reliable email list, make sure you don’t just blast out emails with sales offers. Take the same approach you take to your social media marketing and content marketing efforts; be sure to include all the significant parts of a successful email:

  • Create great subject line. All great email headlines speak to your audience. Whether that is through an attention-grabbing headline (e.g. 5 things you’re doing wrong) or a title that speaks to their pain point or entertains them. Don’t produce a headline to get their attention, or uses all the key words that your audience is looking for, and doesn’t deliver any value. Remember, the best way to sell to a customer is to build their trust. Misleading them has the opposite effect.
  • Use different media and visuals. Don’t use a one-size-fits-all mentality when planning and selecting visuals for your digital marketing efforts. Create videos and graphics for every different preference, or purchase them.
  • Craft a strong call-to-action (CTA). The definition of a CTA is not always about a purchase. A call-to-action can be a graphic, asking your audience to contact you with questions (remember you want to build trust) or inviting their input (about a product, a funny picture, anything).
  • Keep testing. Test out what email captures your audience’s attention, keeps it, and drives them to purchase.

Integration

Remember that all these digital marketing tools are most effective as part of a digital marketing tool box. Always make sure that the right hand knows what the left hand is doing; create a schedule to make sure that you are taking full advantage of your digital marketing efforts. If you don’t have time, find an effective marketing company that can; outsourcing can be the solution that guarantees that your business is getting the most out of your digital marketing tools.