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10 Ways to Build Your Email List – the Right Way

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Krista Bunskoek – Enjoy! 

DTM 10 email bunskoek header

photo credit: Flickr

Think email marketing is dead? Think again. Last year alone, 44% of email recipients actually admitted to making a purchase based on promotional email they received.

Email is one of the most personal, customizable forms of online marketing. And it works.

As smart marketers and small business owners, we’re always looking for better ways to build our email lists with qualified leads.

10 ways to generate leads from your website

1. Coupons

Retail consumers love to get a great deal. Set-up email-gated coupons through your website to generate qualified leads (and get immediate sales too.) By giving away coupons related directly to your products, you’ll only attract prospects who are interested in your particular wares.

2. Contests and Sweepstakes

DTM 10 email bunskoek vote contest

Example of a Vote Contest to increase engagement and get email leads

I like to win, you like to win – your customers like to win too. Host an email-gated contest directly on your website. Use sweepstakes to both promote your business (by giving away a business related prize) and generate leads.

Use contests like photo contests, photo caption contests and vote contests to make your website more engaging. You win by getting user-generated content, consumer input – and emails.

3. Free Product Catalogues

Do you have a PDF catalogue of your products? Upload it to your website. Set up a simple lead generation landing page to enable interested buyers to download it for free (in exchange for an email and name) whenever they want.

4. Free eBook

DTM 10 email bunskoek ebook

John Jantsch offers his knowledgeable marketing advice in his must-read free ebooks

These days you’re likely blogging. If you’re blogging the right way, you’ve got a series of informative or interesting articles related to your business.

Take 5-10 well written articles and turn them into a valuable resource for your market. Give the ebook away for free through an email-gated landing page.

5. Free Trial

Let your prospective customer test out your goods. Give away a free trial for a limited time period – all for the mere cost of an email. A free trial attracts warm leads who are just ripe to nurture into new buyers. Use the emails to send out timely, personal messages to reel them in.

6. Free Quote or Appraisal

If you offer customized pricing, get email leads by setting up a distinct “free quote” landing page. Make it easy for your website visitors to take their interest in you to the next level. Set up an email-gated form on your site to catch those leads, warm them with your charm (and price) and get the sale.

7. Personalized Consultation

DTM 10 email Bunskoek demo

Businesses like Wishpond offer free personalized demos

If you’ve got a slick sales team (even if that’s just you), a live one-on-one consultation can close the deal. It can also give you very warm emails to keep the relationship going. A lead gen consultation page is a must for your business.

8. Live Webinar

Live, free webinars give you the chance to connect and engage with genuinely interested customers. Webinars show your customers that you’re willing to share your expertise for free – and that you know what you’re talking about.

They take a bit of prep time and you have to make a new webinar for each lead gen opportunity. Maximize your lead generation by recording a series of email-gated webinars.

9. How-to Guides

Want to educate your market and be seen as the helpful knowledgeable business leader? Write a number of free how-to guides related to your product or service.  Give them away for free on your website through an email-gated landing page.

10. Pre-launch Engagement

If you’re starting a new business or product offering, a key tactic I’ve successfully used is the “launching soon” landing page. Generate emails by marketing your products and giving pre-signups sneak peeks, special deals and engagement opportunities (such as product name contests, logo vote contests or ebook cover contests). Send out emails to keep the relationship – and excitement – building.

Building your email list is the foundation to business success. Try out one or ten of these tactics for your website. Let me know how you do.

Got more email lead generation tips?

 

Krista Bunskoek headshotKrista Bunskoek is a Content Marketer at Wishpond. Wishpond makes simple tools for epic online marketing campaigns. She’s written a number of online marketing ebooks like Google AdWords for Small Business and Website Contests and Promotions. You can reach Krista through her twitter handle @kbunskoek or her Google+ page.

How to Be Everywhere Through Marketing Automation Magic

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Jan Marciniak – Enjoy!

marketing-automation-stairs

photo credit: Jiuck cc

When marketing your business you have a lot of ends to meet. Your goal should always be to systemize your marketing campaigns in a way that their success is repeatable and the process can be carried out by almost anyone. And since you do not want to do the same work over again and again you need to implement processes and systems that automate the technical and operational parts of your marketing efforts as much as possible.

1. Automate Lead Generation, at least a little bit

To automate the lead generation process would be a dream come true for every business. This step is the one where mostly manual labor is necessary. But you can systemize the processes that you need to go through in order to create a new lead generation campaign or landing page on your website and test it so that it is almost automated.

Reduce your time spent from the first campaign idea to a finished landing page by using tools that allow you implement quickly and change settings with ease.

In order to test out ideas for landing pages and their variations you can use tools like Unbounce or LeadPages to create a landing page from an idea within minutes and implement it without any programming knowledge. With their built in analytics you can easily see what works and what doesn’t.

On the backend you will need some kind of email marketing automation tool that lets you automatically segment your leads depending on the source.

2. The Mother of Automated Marketing – Perfect Email Marketing Automation

Email marketing is one of the most powerful but mostly overlooked marketing tactic that can be automated to almost 100%. It seems like everybody knows that having a newsletter is important. But what about an automated series of emails that give the recipient value, draw him closer to your brand and eventually make him buy your product?

You will keep potential customers engaged and informed over a period of weeks or months  without any extra investment of your time, 100% automated.

Services like aweber or mailchimp can be used by anyone without any technical knowledge; self-hosted tools like sendy need some technical knowledge to set up but are a lot cheaper.

3. Automate you Social Media Activities and Appear Everywhere

Like with any other marketing efforts you need to find the right balance between automation and manual engagement with your customers. In order to create an efficient social media marketing process you need to have the right automation tools.

You need to set up an automated system so that you do not need to post your message to every social media platform available. Instead you should use a service that lets you post to all services at once. You can use services that are designed exactly for that like buffer or create your custom social media distribution process with automation tools like zapier or ifttt.

The rest of the time you will need to monitor your social media activities, which can also be automated pretty easy. There are several tools to manage your social media analytics. With tools like twittaquitta where you can monitor all your unfollowers you can easily get insights into you social media campaigns without doing any manual analyzing.

4. Active Customer Communication in a Fraction of the Time

Communicating with your customers is a vital but time consuming task. There are however processes that you can implement which streamline customer communication. You will still need to actively communicate with you customers, but will be able to do it in a fraction of the time and have time for other important things.

Instead of repeating email texts over and over you should use text expander programs (Lh Texter; TextExpander). With a simple shortcut you can insert repetitive text blocks into your mails and save a ton of time.

An extensive and regularly updated FAQ section on you website will also save you a lot of typing and trouble.

5. It does not Stop with The Campaign – Automate you Analytics 

In order to fully automate your marketing efforts you will also need to have an automated analytics process. For many tasks a combination of Google Analytics can be used. By creating custom events for your relevant tasks you can get a fully automated report for every landing page or email campaign that you send out.

All tools that you need are out there, mostly free. Start setting up your marketing machine today to reap the benefits in the time to come. 

Portrait_JMAJan is the co-founder of TempoTrac time tracking, an application that helps you get your work time under control and blogs on business, social media and productivity hacks.

Marketing Automation: What is it and Why Should I Care?

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Scott Thomas– Enjoy! 

 

Marketing AutomationMarketers, meet your secret weapon: marketing automation. Only recently, has this underutilized method of demand generation been brought to the forefront of public attention. Marketing automation has slowly become a go-to buzzword in the marketing world but what does it really mean and more importantly, how can it help your business?

For starters, marketing automation refers to technology that allows marketing departments and organizations to more effectively market on multiple online channels (such as email, social media, websites, etc.) and automate repetitive tasks. In its most ideal state, marketing automation provides you with a platform to efficiently deliver engaging content that turns prospects into customers and then follow up with personalized messaging that keeps those customers coming back.

What Marketing Automation Means to Marketers

Marketing automation means two huge things for marketers: conversion and attribution. First we’ll look at its success converting leads. According to a study by The Aberdeen Group, companies that use marketing automation see 53% higher conversion rates than non-users, and an annualized revenue growth rate 3.1% higher than non-users of marketing automation platforms.

Marketing AutomationSounds good, right? It gets better. Marketing automation solves the marketers age-old problem of attributing marketing spend to earned revenue. Because these platforms typically feature CRM integration, lead activity within marketing efforts can be directly tracked from campaign inception to lead conversion. In fact, companies that use marketing automation are 3 times more likely than companies without automation to track and attribute their content-marketing efforts to multiple touchpoints.*

The ‘Automation’ in Marketing Automation

Despite marketing automation’s capacity to generate increased revenue and attribute that revenue to your marketing team’s efforts, many people seem to overlook one key fact: in order for marketing automation to be successful, you have to have something to automate. Think of marketing automation as the hyper-efficient delivery vehicle between the programs you already have in place and your audience. It won’t create the content for you but with it, you can build the most effective route by which to push your content. The following are examples of programs that can be integrated into your marketing automation strategy:

  • Content Marketing: Today’s consumers don’t respond to conventional “Mad Men” style marketing and advertising tactics; instead, they respond to engaging, informative content that speaks to them and not at them. By distributing content that engages your audience, you’re not only satiating their appetite for information, but you’re also working towards the end result of creating a connection with these potential buyers and ideally, driving them closer to a sale.
  • Email Marketing: Does your organization already employ use of email marketing? Although it might not seem like much, even something as simple as a monthly newsletter can be engineered to drive optimal engagement. With marketing automation you can create any number of follow up actions based on how a lead interacts with an original email. This brings us to…
  • Lead Nurturing: This process of educating and staying fresh on the minds of prospects who aren’t yet ready to buy allows you to turn otherwise cold leads into added revenue. Lead nurturing can take many forms, from personalized, Happy Birthday emails to reengagement campaigns.

The possibilities for customizing your marketing automation pipeline are limited only by your organization’s capacity to do so and while it may take some heavy legwork to initially set up, don’t be intimidated. Marketing automation can save you time and money while converting more leads by simply utilizing the programs you already have in place.

*(The Lenskold and Pedowitz Groups, 2013 Lead Generation Marketing Effectiveness Study, Nov 2013)

Scott ThomasScott Thomas is the founder and president of the Intelechy Group, an Austin-based revenue growth agency. Scott has spent more than two decades driving highly profitable revenue for industry leaders such as AT&T, Dell, AMD and SAP. Intelechy Group specializes in Go-to-Market (GTM) Strategy & Development, Brand & Market Positioning, Demand Generation and an array of marketing services that propel organizations to become revenue and profit leaders in their marketplaces.

 

 

The 7 Best Ways To Utilize Outbound Marketing

It’s guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest post is from Jon Rognerud.  - Enjoy!

Outbound marketing is essentially any marketing that involves a business or person reaching out to customers directly. A traditional method of outbound marketing that was used for years (and still is) with great success was direct mail.

You can use outbound marketing in a variety of ways to create future success for your business. Outbound marketing is a newer type of marketing where you spend your time creatively reaching out to new and existing customers in an attempt to draw in additional business.

#1: Blog Outreach

ducttape-1The idea of reaching out to blogs is a seemingly simple one, but in reality there are plenty of nuances that you need to get in right in order to really be effective with this type of outbound marketing.

After you’ve found your partner blogs, you will need to actually cultivate that relationship, understanding who runs the blog, making sure to contact them on a regular basis, and most importantly you need to personalize the content and track how your engagement is actually paying off. Think of how you can best provide value to THEIR audience via your content.

Fortunately there are a few tools to help you out with this task: GroupHigh and BuzzStream.

#2: Sending out emails for limitless results

ducttape-2Sending out emails is a far less time consuming method of outbound marketing than trying to cold call hundreds or even thousands of people. While you should invest in a quality email list (including always building your own house-list), in the end this investment will be well worth it if the list is marketed to correctly. The key to getting results when using email for outbound marketing is by utilizing a targeted list.

Two of the most popular email services are Aweber and Mailchimp.

WARNING: Make sure that you are allowed to import outside data, and that it has been fully vetted. Read and understand their guidelines and don’t spam.

Another good tool to use is Streak’s CRM.  It will help you manage all of your prospects and give you the ability to mass merge personalized emails.

#3: Building a Brand on Social Media

ducttape-3If you are just getting started with social media, a Facebook page is a must for your business. From there, you can move on to Twitter if you are looking to interact with your customers more regularly, and Pinterest if you have more of a visual brand and would like to interact with a female-biased audience. Google+ and LinkedIn will serve you as you continue building out your social platforms.

Managing multiple profiles can be a pain, therefore a tool like Buffer will save you a significant amount of time.  One of the most powerful features is custom scheduling so that you can post high quality content on sites like Facebook & Twitter during peak use hours.

SproutSocial is slightly more advanced and powerful, offering advanced features such as customer relationship management through social media, team collaboration, and much more.

#4: Utilizing Pay-Per-Click Advertising

ducttape-4Paid search engine traffic is a great way to market your business, especially when you work with someone who knows what they are doing.

Companies wouldn’t utilize this great resource if it didn’t work, and the best part is that you can get started for as little as a few dollars a day. There is plenty of information online to help you learn the ropes.

Wordstream helps with managing paid search campaigns via easy to use software tools and great support.

#5: PPV Advertising

ducttape-5This type of advertising is often considered derivative of paid search, but in reality it is anything but that.

Have you ever seen commercials on online television, or on websites that you navigate to? This is PPV, and it is growing faster than most other kinds of outbound marketing today.

Companies like DirectCPV let you customize your PPV campaigns to target a specific type of customers, and you can reach a large audience.

#6: EBook Giveaways

ducttape-6You know what just about any customer loves? That’s right, free stuff.

Since you can give away copies of an eBook for effectively nothing, these books can also be used as effective outbound marketing tools. You simply have to write an eBook, or even just pay to have on written.

Once the book is written, all you have to do is add a few links to your company and give it away to anyone that you want.

When it comes time to actually put the book together, you will want to get help from a graphic designer like the ones that you find at 99Designs to really set your eBook apart with a beautiful cover and even a theme for the individual pages.

#7: Multiple Competitions with a ‘Priceless’ Reward

ducttape-7One way that is less well-known is using competition to market your company.

Shopify did something like this when they first got started, offering prize money and a priceless meeting with a major entrepreneur to the company that could achieve the highest revenue in a Shopify store during the competition’s timeframe.

While this might not seem like a form of outbound marketing, Shopify was able to get their name out there in an extremely competitive space by offering something that was more valuable than money to their customers.

Outbound marketing has been around for awhile, but because of the Internet it is now available to businesses of all shapes and sizes.

jonrognerud-headshot-ducttapeEntrepreneur Magazine says Jon Rognerud is one of the most sought-after SEO and Digital Marketing Experts for Small Business. He is famous for his high-returns and passionate approach to optimizing websites and integrated marketing solutions that brings process, profits and brand loyalty…without wasting time. His brand NEW website optimization book, “The Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Website” from Entrepreneur Press/McGraw-Hill is in bookstores now. Act today, and get a FREE website coaching session here.

 

The Positive Secret to Outbound Marketing Success

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Jonathan Curran– Enjoy! 

Contrary to what many internet marketers have been telling the world, outbound marketing is not dead. Inbound marketing channels have almost certainly made outbound marketing less popular but it is far from extinction.

Yes, that is true. Why do you think the television is not dead yet? Why are big companies still pouring out millions of dollars each year for advertising campaigns?

That’s the good part.

The not-so-good part that you may be well aware of is that outbound marketing campaigns are designed to cast a net (marketing message) over a huge audience in one go. The audience in this case is not highly targeted and people have shorter attention spans given the fact that the television or newspapers are not the only sources of infotainment. Not anymore.

Does that ring the bell? It should!

It is now more important than ever to blow an air of positivity into all of your outbound marketing campaigns for better results.

Why, you ask. Let’s check out!

Why Campaigns Built Around Pain Points Can Be Risky

Some marketing managers tend to focus more on pain points while drafting TV/radio advertisement scripts. An insurer, for example, has the option of portraying either a sad or a happy story in an advertisement, mailer or some other material sent out to customers.

While a tragic story revolving around life insurance policy may almost certainly convince the target audience to get one, people may also form a negative opinion about the insurer for having made them feel sad for few moments.

Such impressions, even if created subtly in target audience’s subconscious minds, can result in negative brand recall.

Make the Target Audience ‘Feel Good’

Instead of indirectly threatening people with dire consequences if they did not choose your product or service, how about making them feel good about something?

Take this diaper advertisement by Huggies, for example:

How does that make you feel? Even if such an advertisement (one that actually makes people smile or think over something beautiful, peaceful or satisfying) is first aired on TV, it is likely to land up on social media networks and get viral.

Now, you cannot hope to be able to create something that good every time but it is worth the effort to try and create campaigns that make people feel good and not threatened.

Focus on Striking a Chord with the Audience

Since customers do not interact directly with an outbound marketing campaign, it is absolutely necessary to look out for ways to strike a chord with the target audience.

Have you studied the motivation triggers that lead people to buy products you sell?

How about entertaining more and trying-to-sell less?

What if your marketing message delivers a powerful message which is not as such related to your product but makes people subconsciously relate it to your brand?

A great idea won’t pop up in the first go. It would require a series of constructive brainstorming sessions around ideas that people can easily relate to.

Needless to mention, you’d have to iterate the mass message not once but many times over before you get it right.

Make ‘Positivity’ a Part of all Outreach Programs

Newspaper/television/radio advertisements or other mass marketing messages broadcasted to hundreds and thousands of people in one go can go a long way in increasing brand recall if you consistently make ‘positivity’ a part of all outreach programs.

Everything from the imagery, text and voice to motion pictures can be selected and iterated in a manner that your marketing message gets encapsulated in positive and hard-to-ignore shell.

The Final Word

Outbound marketing is expensive. Make every penny count.

Blowing an air of positivity alone won’t necessarily motivate customers to buy your products or increase your brand recall value but it does help a great deal.

Jonathan CurranThe article came from Jonathan Curran who is Author and Director of PROMOTIVATE Speakers Agency. They represent world’s leading motivational, business, conference, marketing and adventure speakers. Sharing this knowledge he helps companies and individuals unlock how to ‘make it happen’ and the importance of finding the right work/life balance which leads to improved happiness and greater success.

 

Prospecting on LinkedIn: 3 Easy Steps to Finding Your Ideal Clients

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Jean Hanson– Enjoy!  

By now you know that LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network, is the best online tool for B2B prospecting and finding your ideal clients. But many people fumble about the site, not quite sure what to do, so they begin by connecting to the people they know, such as friends and family. Now what?

Step 1: Make a wish list of companies you want to do business with

After making your list, use the search box to find their company page. I’ll use an example of a commercial cleaning company prospecting for local banks. They’re trying to find a way in but don’t know any of the players.  After finding the company page, click on the yellow Follow button, to start receiving notification of their company posts.  This will keep you connected and up to date on what is happening with their company.

Step 2: See how you’re connected

LinkedInNext, look at “How You’re Connected” to see if you have any 1st, 2nd or 3rd degree connections. If you do, take a look at these people to see if you know any of them personally.  If so, you could contact that person either through LinkedIn or by picking up the phone and requesting a third party introduction to the person responsible for hiring cleaning services — or perhaps to a person in the company who would know who that decision maker is.

If you don’t have any close connections to the company, click on the “Followers” link next to the yellow Follow button, and you’ll see everyone that is following company updates. Most likely, key company employees will be following their own company status updates.

Step 3: Look for common ground

Start looking at the profiles of key players in the company that you could potentially connect with. In the example below, I’ve found a company Vice-President, and see that he has advanced non-profit fund raising skills.  If I were active in any local non-profit activities, I might keep this in mind if I’m in need of any advice regarding fund raising for that non-profit.

LinkedIn

As you review the profile, also pay attention to companies they’ve worked for and educational institutions they’ve attended. Perhaps you’ll spot a common connection. If they belong to any Associations such as the local Chamber of Commerce, send an invitation to connect and mention the common membership. This also applies to any common networking or volunteer organizations you both may belong to. Most people will accept your invitation to connect if you mention something you have in common.

And finally, look at the LinkedIn groups they belong to.  In the example below, this person belongs to a group called “Hockey players doing business together”.  Since we are in Minnesota (the land of hockey), you just might have found a common interest, and could join the group and start building a relationship with not only this particular prospect, but other members of the group.

LinkedIn

As you can see, LinkedIn can be a very powerful tool for prospecting and finding your ideal clients. But it’s not simply a numbers game where you go through and collect as many names as you can in order to blast them with sales pitches. Rather, it’s a slow moving process of building meaningful connections with targeted prospects.

Once you’ve connected with these prospects, begin engaging them by following the 4-1-1 Rule, which is a concept created by Tippingpoint Labs and Joe Pulizzi of the Content Marketing Institute.  This is a concept originally created with Twitter in mind, but it can be applied to all social media status updates. The concept is that “for every one self-serving tweet, you should retweet one relevant tweet and most importantly share four pieces of relevant content written by others.”   This way, your followers won’t feel bombarded with desperate attempts at selling them your products or services. Instead, they’ll see you as a helpful resource that always provides relevant, useful information. And when the time is right, it’s YOU they will contact.

dtm-blog-jean-hanson-150x150Jean Hanson is a long-time entrepreneur, co-founding two commercial cleaning companies, running a virtual assistant business, and in 2005, launching a business portal for commercial and residential cleaning business owners. Jean is also an Authorized Consultant for the world-renowned Duct Tape Marketing System. To learn more about her marketing business and to apply for a free marketing audit, visit MarketingSystemsByDesign.com.

 

5 Steps to an Email Newsletter Your Customers Will Love (and share!)

Thursday is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Amanda Cook – Enjoy! 

Email Newsletter

photo credit: flickr

“It’s time to write your email newsletter.”

Quick – what’s your first reaction to that statement?

If you’re like many small business owners, you’re filled with a sense of dread, an urge to procrastinate, and the thought “no one reads it anyway – shouldn’t I work on more important things?”

Many people create an email newsletter because they’ve been told that it’s good for business – but they don’t really believe it – and it shows in their emails!  If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, your customer can tell – and your email subscribers will be less engaged and responsive.

A successful email newsletter requires a shift in thinking.  Instead of just telling your customer about your latest sale and some random article you wrote because you should include an article in your newsletter – reframe your email newsletter as a way to engage with your community.

People are busy.  They’re not going to see all of your social media updates, and certainly won’t remember to check your website regularly.  But they did opt-in to your email newsletter because they WANT to hear from you.  They believe that your business can help them solve a problem or get better results.  They just want to hear from you in the right way.

Steps to Creating a Successful Email Newsletter

  1. Go Pro with your email newsletter.  To quote Steven Pressfield, the first step is to decide to “go pro”.  That means using an email service like Aweber or Mailchimp (never sending from your personal account!), only sending to people who opt-in for your email newsletter, and setting expectations up front about how often you’ll email (Daily? Monthly? People want to know what to expect.)
  2. It’s not about you.  This is the #1 most important step for a successful email newsletter. Stop thinking about what you want to sell – and instead, step into the shoes of your customer.  What is she doing this week?  What problems is she facing? How can you help?  Your newsletter needs to be relevant and helpful to your customer.  Yes, it can include offers, but it needs to be linked back to how it’s going to benefit her.  When you get this right and create a truly useful, relevant email, you’ll see your customers engage with you and even forward it to their friends!
  3. Make it scannable.  How much time do you spend reading an email?  Probably only a few seconds before deciding whether to read deeper or hit delete.  Combined with the fact that many people check email on a mobile device, and you need to make your emails easy to scan with bold headlines, sections and bulletpoints.  You might test emails that simply contain a teaser with a link back to your latest blog post, rather than including a long article within the email itself.
  4. Make it actionable.  Make it easy for your customers to take action on your email newsletter.  What do you want them to do?  Buy something? Read your blog post?  Forward it to a friend? Share it on social media?  Decide on the 1 call to action for your email, and make it easy for them.  Include action phrases like “Click here to read…”  Don’t be afraid to mention (and link) to your call to action several times within the email.  Many people won’t make it through your entire email, so don’t save it until the last line!
  5. Write a good subject line.  You know headlines are a key part of a successful blog post – well subject lines are the email equivalent – but they’re even more important!  If you have a boring subject line (“June Newsletter”, anyone?), your customer will delete the email before they even open it!  It doesn’t matter how fantastic your content is – they’ll never see it if they don’t like the subject line.  You can learn what makes a good subject line by studying headline copywriting – but in the end, you need to test and experiment to see what works for your email list.  You can also use the split-testing functionality in your email service provider to test several subject lines for the same email content to see which gets the most opens and click-throughs.

Rather than seeing your email newsletter as another marketing item to check off your list – reframe it as a way to connect with your potential customers.  If you approach your email newsletter as a way to show customers how you understand their specific challenges – and can offer helpful tips, resources and products to overcome them – you’ll see your engagement and responsiveness increase.  And you’ll find writing your regular newsletter gets easier when you see it as a key way to engage your customers, rather than simply promote your products.

Amanda Cook_sqAmanda Cook is an online strategist, certified holistic health coach, and host of the weekly WellpreneurOnline podcast.  Each week, Amanda interviews successful entrepreneurs about how they’ve grown a healthy business – online.  She also runs a free 5-day blogging challenge to fill your blog with content your ideal client will love (and share!)  Connect with Amanda on twitter.

Creating a Strong Online Presence for Marketing Success

It is guest post day here at Duct Tape Marketing and today’s guest is from Lucy Godwin – Enjoy!  

Online Presence

According to Google, 97% of consumers use the web to search for local businesses – and if the vast majority of your potential customers are online, you should be, too. Having a strong online presence is a crucial component of your marketing strategy, no matter what size your business is or what industry it belongs to.

An online presence is important for outbound marketing because it reinforces your brand and what you offer to your target market. Once you’ve communicated with your audience, you’ll need to have a web presence that helps portray why your product or service is so great – because that’s the next stop for the majority of your potential customers.

It’s also vital for inbound marketing, because quality online content will help attract customers even if they haven’t heard of your brand.

So here are three of the first things you need to look at when building your online marketing efforts.

1. Your website

All businesses, no matter how small, should have a website. It can be extremely basic, but it should contain the fundamental information customers – both existing and potential – need. For example, one frustration I encounter far too often is restaurants that don’t have a website with a current menu, opening hours, location and contact information. I know I’m not alone in that if I can’t find these details, I’m less likely to visit the restaurant – but there’s no reason a business should lose potential customers over something that’s so easy to remedy and costs very little.

A basic website is pretty easy to set up using an application like WordPress. WordPress is a free blogging tool and content management system that gives users the option to pay a little more for the premium version. If it’s relevant to your business, you can even add an online shop – after all, in 2013, 70 percent of consumers preferred to do their retail shopping online.

If you’re not sure where to start, there’s a great guide to WordPress for small businesses on Social Media today. It’s easy to understand and runs through the factors you need to consider and steps you need to take when setting up your small business website.

If you’re starting from scratch and not sure what your website should include, survey your existing customers. Whether you send out an email asking for their input, or mention it casually while making their coffee, it’s the best way to get the insight you need – people love to be involved and share their opinions.

2. Search engine optimization

Once you have a website, it’s vital that it can actually be found by search engines. After all, 89 percent of consumers use search engines to research a product, service or business before making a decision. To take advantage of this, you need to make sure to look at search engine optimization (SEO) for your website.

In case you’re not completely sure what SEO means, how it works, or why it’s important, here’s a quick rundown:

  • What: The purpose of SEO is to make it easy for search engines to find your website and list it in their ‘organic’ (as opposed to ‘paid’) results.
  • Why: People tend to trust search engines, so websites that appear high in results pages are more likely to receive traffic.
  • How: Using search-engine friendly methods to improve your website.
  • Who: Everyone – anyone who has information that people want to find on the internet should be using SEO techniques.
  • When: All the time – SEO is an ongoing process. It’s important to monitor the information on your website and make sure it’s current and correct. Search engines also love new content, which is why starting a blog can do wonders for your SEO.
  • Where: Major search engines include Google, Yahoo and Bing. They connect people all over the world to the content they desire, from products to services to information.

The Beginner’s Guide to SEO by Moz and Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide both give a fantastic overview of the basics and will help you optimize your website.

3. Social media

Social media is an important part of your online presence that improves your chances of generating additional revenue and building customer loyalty. It allows customers, potential customers and other interested parties to engage easily via a channel that plays an important role in their everyday lives.

Although not every social media channel will be relevant to each business, it’s definitely worth looking into your options. For example, Facebook and Twitter will serve a purpose for almost any business – it’s a great place to post news, tips, photos and videos and ask and answer questions.

In addition to Facebook and Twitter, you might find Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Tumblr, FourSquare helpful. Make sure to research available channels and find out if they will work for you. Instagram, for example, is a photo-sharing network, so it works wonderfully for businesses selling ‘beautiful’ products such as jewelry, food or housewares. It’s important to consider your target demographic – Instagram has around 130–150 million users, over two-thirds of which are women between the ages of 18 and 35. With Instagram, you’ll also need to keep a smartphone handy to properly access your account and engage with your audience.

Once you’ve decided which social media channels to use, get a clear idea of the kind of content you can share. The more compelling and engaging your material is, the more likely your followers will like, comment and share your posts. Engagement is key to promoting your brand – not only will it make you more appealing to existing customers, the more positive social activity that goes on, the higher the chance is that their friends will be exposed to your brand and intrigued by what you have to offer.

When they do this, they’re engaging with your brand and their networks (friends, family, colleagues) are seeing that engagement and may be prompted to check you out for their own needs.

 

lucy-godwinAuthor bio: Lucy Godwin lives in Wellington, New Zealand and is an outreach writer at Xero accounting software. Her role exposes her to the small business, startup and entrepreneur community, and she blogs for them about everything from marketing to cloud computing to finance. Connect with her on Twitter @LucyJaneGodwin.