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Comments Off on Twitter Chats for Small Business

Twitter Chats for Small Business

In our never-ending quest to find value and relevance for small businesses using social media, we have come across a new realtime meeting experience called the Twitter chat. These live events are similar to traditional online chats, or conference calls where you type your input instead of speaking it. But you can learn a lot in these sessions and make important business connections.

The following list of Twitter chats for small businesses was compiled bu Sig Ueland of Practical eCommerce. To join the conversation, search the hashtag at Twitter during the chat’s scheduled time. You can also use a Twitter-client such as TweetChat or TweetDeck.

Chats for Small Businesses

#bizforum.

Each Wednesday #bizforum provides a place where people with varying points of view on trending business-related topics can present those views and debate the pros and cons with other business leaders. Time: Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#Blogchat.

Founded by @MackCollier, #Blogchat is a weekly discussion to help you improve your blogging results. Co-hosts frequently join the conversation. The popular chat also streams at live events. Time: Sundays at 8 p.m. Central U.S. Time.

#BrandChat.

#BrandChat focuses on brand development. Brand themes for each week explore big businesses, non-profits, small businesses, personal brands, and general information and open-chats. Time: Wednesdays at 8 a.m. Pacific U.S. Time.

#CustServ.

Hosted by @MarshaCollier and @JeffreyJKingman, #CustServ is a weekly discussion on customer service for all organizations, large or small. Time: Tuesdays at 9:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#CXO.

#CXO is a weekly discussion on customer experience optimization for professionals and enthusiasts. Time: Mondays at 12 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#DIYchat.

The #DIYchat is a discussion for those with do-it-yourself businesses. Entrepreneurs and creative visionaries have no shortage of ideas, but they often need help creating a master plan for accomplishing their biggest goals. Time: First Thursday of the month, 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#HBRchat.

Hosted by Harvard Business Review, #HBRchat presents three questions related to a topic raised in a recent article, blog post or other type of content. HBRchat participants are invited to share their thoughts, ideas and opinions. Time: Thursdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#InfluenceChat.

Hosted by Alan Berkson, #InfluenceChat discusses influence and related issues. The InfluenceChat blog posts a variety of related articles, as well as chat tweets and topics. Time: Tuesdays at 12 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#Innochat.

Each Thursday, #Innochat presents a lively, informative and inspiring discussion on innovation. Guest moderators discuss innovations in product development, brand management, and more. Time: Thursdays at 12:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#KloutChat.

Klout, the company that measures your influence, now hosts #KloutChat. The chat is an ongoing conversation about influence measurement and social impact. Time: First Wednesday of every month at 6 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#Legaltweetmeet.

If you are a small business owner, chances are you have legal questions. #Legaltweetmeet is a chat that allows business owners and the general public to take advantage of free business and legal advice from Kendrick Law Practice LLC. Time: Thursdays at 8 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#LinkedInChat.

Every Tuesday night, #LinkedInChat explores way to utilize and leverage your LinkedIn business network. The chat sessions are for all types of LinkedIn users, from brand developers to business lead hunters. Time: Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#MMchat.

Hosted by @JeffAshcroft, Marketer Monday chat, #MMchat, features a special guest expert every week, as it explores marketing and social media marketing. Time: Mondays at 8:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#nfiblive.

Hosted by @NFIB, an association of small businesses, #nfiblive is a webinar on small business topics, from legal and tax advice to operations information, to help you run your business better. Time: Second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 12:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#ProdChat.

Productivity Chat, #ProdChat, is an hour-long discussion for productivity enthusiasts and those looking to improve their personal productivity, share, and connect with one another. Time: Second and fourth Wednesday of the month at 1:00 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#SmallBizChat.

The focus of #SmallBizChat is to end small business failure by helping business owners succeed as they start and grow their small businesses. It focuses on emerging entrepreneurs who are less than five years in business. Time: Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#smbiz.

Each Tuesday night #smbiz is an open chat where small businesses get answers from expert panel members and other small business owners. Meet virtually and help each other out with issues you face on a daily basis. Time: Tuesdays at 8 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

#SMChat.

Wednesday afternoons, #SMCHAT explores topics on the evolution of social media. Show up with your ideas, and jump into the question-and-answer session. Users can also suggest weekly chat topics on the chat’s blog. Time: Wednesdays at 1 p.m. Eastern U.S. Time.

 

Comments Off on Facebook Replaces Profiles with Timelines; Implications for Small Businesses

Facebook Replaces Profiles with Timelines; Implications for Small Businesses

Excerpted from an article by Paul Chaney

Rationale for ‘Timelines’

Facebook says its motivation for the change is to provide users with a storyline of their life’s most significant moments — graduations, marriages, birth of children, a new job and other events worth celebrating. It represents a shift from a focus on transient, real-time events to a longer-term outlook, one that considers the growth and maturation of its original user-base: college students.

“Over time, your profile evolved to better reflect how you actually communicate with your friends. Now you can share photos of what you did last weekend, and updates about how you feel today. But since the focus is on the most recent things you posted, more important stuff slips off the page. The photos of your graduation get replaced by updates about what you had for breakfast,” wrote Facebook product manager Samuel Lessin, on The Facebook Blog.

Timelines for Fan Pages

Though Timelines are currently available only for individuals, Facebook’s development path has long been to take changes to Profiles and incorporate them into business Pages — “Fan pages” — as well. There is already speculation that Timeline will do this, too.

Mashable, the tech blog, cited an unnamed Facebook source in a September 27 post, who said, “Consistency in both functionality and appearance is really important to Facebook, so we hope to make Pages more consistent with the new Timeline in the future.”

Concerns Over Timeline

The shift to Timeline has been criticized by Facebook users — see the post in All Techie News — primarily over privacy concerns. Detractors allege that Facebook, to appeal to advertisers, is simply seeking to capture more user data.

From the standpoint of usability, thanks to its two-column layout, Timelines takes getting used to. Items appear more random than in the previous version and not just a little hodgepodge. Still, with the ability to feature items so they cross both columns, merchants could keep key content more centrally focused and reduce confusion.

The other concern is that, in an effort to take advantage of the new layout, merchants may immediately opt to use Profiles instead of Pages, which violates Facebook’s terms of use.

Companies that currently now use Profiles may find the visual attractiveness provided by Timelines too much of a temptation and refrain from switching to Pages altogether, even though Facebook provides a mechanism by which to do so.

Read the full article…

Comments Off on Producing Great Results With Brochures

Producing Great Results With Brochures

From an article by Jay Levinson (the Father of Guerrilla Marketing)

In a recent email from Jay Levinson (which you can sign up to receive here), Jay Levinson spelled out some really useful points to avoid common mistakes in developing print brochures for small businesses.  They certainly apply to online (pdf) brochures too, and I forward them to you here.

  1. Don’t waste your cover panel or headline position with your company name. Instead, give them a reason to read the rest of your brochure.
  2. Don’t be unclear as to what your brochure should do for you. Is it to generate leads? Close sales? Prospects won’t take the time to figure it out.
  3. Don’t fail to answer the big question: “What’s in it for me?” Stress your benefits more than features using language your prospects understand.
  4. Don’t try to include too much in your brochure. If you have multiple offerings, open your mind to the idea of multiple brochures, not just one.
  5. Don’t be sloppy or unprofessional. Software enables you to do it yourself without having it look do-it-yourself. There’s no room for even a trace of amateurishness, smudges, inconsistent inking or crooked printing.
  6. Don’t be guilty of poor grammar or spelling. One misspelled word or poor use of grammar can undermine even the most compelling offers.
  7. Don’t allow any typos, contradictions, or omissions. Be careful and be consistent. Let a proofreader go over your final brochure before printing.
  8. Don’t forget to include a call for action. Say what you offer, what it means to customers and what they should do next. Call you? Fax you? Visit you? E-mail you? Tell them exactly or they’ll do zilch.
  9. Don’t have confusing order forms. Let someone who didn’t produce your order form fill it out. Assume nothing and test everything.
  10. Don’t limit yourself to a paper brochure. Perhaps it should be on a CD, DVD, or on the web.. The world is getting more paperless.
Comments Off on Three Unique New Offerings from BGAmedia

Three Unique New Offerings from BGAmedia

As of this writing, BGAmedia is still on summer holiday (until July 18), but will soon be back and hard at work helping clients reach and exceed their goals.  We’ve come up with three new services that many small businesses (including retailers) can use to enhance their bottom lines. We’ll describe them here briefly and invite your inquiries about putting them to work for you.

1. Cool Customized Creative Facebook Landing Page

A recent change in technical specs at Facebook now allows developers to create totally customized and completely unique landing pages that integrate fully with Facebook’s functions.  That means you can have a page that looks exactly like you home page (as this example demonstrates), or that simply promotes your brand powerfully (as these examples show: Coke, Audi, Levis).

Use your imagination and come up with interesting ways to motivate your visitors, friends, and fans to interact with your page.  How about offering a coupon that they can only access by clicking the “like” button?  Or actually doing commerce (selling) right there in Facebook? You can even recreate your web site’s pages right there between the navigation column on the left, and those Facebook promotional items on the right.

We will meet with you to brainstorm the best options for your company and propose a program designed to increase your sales and customer retention.  Cost?  Not much.

More information…

2. Results-Getting QR Codes for Multiple Uses

You may have read a previous article in which I described a few of the various things these new 2-dimensional bar-codes can do for your company. Well, BGAmedia clients are using them and getting great results.

  • A manufacturer is putting them in his email and using it to give dealers an inside access to new product introductions.
  • A retailer is putting them in their ads and delivering coupons to be shown in the store
  • A restaurant has placed it on their window/front door and uses it to link to a page of great reviews about the food

The limit is your imagination with these tools, and the cost is as close to zero as anything we do. For example, if we create the code, implement the action, and provide an adhesive sign (as we did for the restaurant), the cost would be about $50.  It’s just a little more to create a dedicated web page or other resource that is used to generate customer response.

What does it inspire you to try?  Let’s do it!  Contact us for details.

3. e-Book Development, Marketing, and Distribution

Ebooks are hot right now, and it looks like the way for almost anyone with specialized expertise to capitalize on that knowledge. If you’re in business, you can enhance your credibility by sharing info in an ebook, and it promotes your business while generating revenue, instead of costing you bundles of cash.

BGAmedia has been involved with eBooks since before there were millions of devices to specifically read them.  Now that they are available, we’ve put together a menu of services that can take you from raw notes, to bestseller, or any of the various specialty services in-between to make your ebook project affordable and successful. Here’s a partial list of what we can do for you:

  • Document design and content development
  • Interactive PDF or ePub file conversion
  • ISBN assignment
  • Inclusion in iBook Store, Kindle Store, Barnes & Noble’s Nook Store
  • Creation of an independent e-commerce enabled web page
  • Social media promotion for your ebook
  • Pay-per-click Ad Campaigns (search marketing)
  • Search engine optimization of existing sites to enhance sales
  • Package pricing
  • Lots more

And there’s FREE stuff!

For a limited time, we’re offering to host your ebook selling web page at no charge for one year if you mention this blog article when you inquire (say you “saw it on the Boblog”). Estimates given free of charge, so call today to get an idea what it will take to get your ebook out there.

For more information…

Comments Off on QR Codes – What They Are & What They Can Do for Your Business

QR Codes – What They Are & What They Can Do for Your Business

from the VR Marketing Blog

“QR” codes are all the rage for some businesses – especially retailers. These codes have the ability to hold lots of information but in general have been used to direct people who scan them to a web page. For that reason, there are a ton of possibilities for you to incorporate using QR codes into your own business. Let me try to break it down for you.

What is a QR Code?

VrQRThe QR or “Quick Response” code (pictured to the right) is a code that is made up of black blobs (technical term) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. It is used by many retailers to track inventory, used by airlines to check you in at the gate, but the most exciting thing for small businesses is that these codes can help generate business!

For most mobile phones that have cameras, there are downloadable apps that enable the code to be easily read by just pointing the phone at the code. Once the code is read, the mobile phone will do what you want it to do like opening a web page. If you’ve got a QR code reader, go ahead and read the code to the right, you’ll be taken to the VerticalResponse home page! However, when we use QR codes, we’ll direct anyone who scans one to a page that contains much less information since scanning large web pages on a smart phone can be overwhelming.

Practical Applications of a QR Code for Businesses

Screen shot 2011-03-14 at 2.39.29 PMGet More Customers – When someone scans in the code, take them to a web page where they can get a special deal or a discount for your services. This could work especially well if you’ve placed the QR code on your retail location to attract new visitors. If you’re wanting to get people from online to your location, Tweet the QR code to your followers and send them to a page that has a coupon they’ll need to show you in order to redeem.

Grow Your Email List – If you offer something of value like a white paper or a special deal, you can direct anyone who scans the code to a sign up form. In order to receive their deal from you they’ll need to give you an email address so you can send them an email that contains the information they’re signing up for.

Grow Your Mobile List – Just like growing your email list,  if you want to collect mobile numbers then you’ll need them to fill out their phone number so you can send them a text with the information contained in it.

Customer Service Videos – If you’ve got Screen shot 2011-03-20 at 9.39.07 AMan informational video about your company, your products or services, you can direct them to a mobile-friendly page where you host the video. The advertisement to the right shows a great example of what people will get if they scan the code and how to get a reader if they don’t have one.

Where You Can Put QR Codes to Work!

• Printed advertisements
• Signs
• Sandwich boards or billboards
• Your store or restaurant window
• Datasheets and collateral
• Direct mail postcards
• Product labels
• Business cards
• Take out menus
• Magazine publications
• Inbox shipments
• Endless possibilities

Read the full article (and learn how to get your QR code)

Comments Off on 6 Steps to Improving Local SEO

6 Steps to Improving Local SEO

by Karen Scharf, published on the VR Marketing Lounge Blog

Though Search Engine Optimization (SEO) as a whole can become a rather complicated technique, there are several steps that just about any small business owner can take to optimize his website and increase the chances of it appearing in organic search results. Most small businesses are locally-focused – that is, they cater to or offer their services to their local community.

However, many small business website owners think “internationally” when it comes to search engine optimization. If you’re a pizza restaurant in Poughkeepsie New York, does it really matter if web surfers in Los Angeles find you on page one of Google? By concentrating your search engine optimization on local efforts, you have a better chance of driving more targeted traffic.

You may discover that you are already doing many of these things on your website, although with a little concentrated emphasis, you can probably improve your tactics. Regardless of where you are in your current search engine optimization, all of these tips are simple enough for any entrepreneur to undertake, and the results can be phenomenal.

So be sure to add these following steps to improve your own local SEO:

1. Check out the Competition to Improve Local SEO

A good marketer knows what is going on in the world around him. You should be regularly and routinely checking up on your local competition to see what they are doing, offering, or providing. This doesn’t mean that you should be a copy-cat or a plagiarist, but you can learn a lot from what the competition is doing.

One way that you can use this practice to improve your search engine optimization is by regularly checking to see where your competitors are getting their incoming links. There may be search engines, directories, and web rings that you never knew of. If your competitors are getting attention on a site, then it might be helpful for you to do so as well. Not only does this get back links to your own website, but it also ensures that you are getting as much representation on the internet as possible and exposing yourself to the local community by all means available.

2. Consider Local Website URLs

If your small business has very specific service areas, you might want to consider separate web addresses to take advantage of local searches. In the very least, you could create individual landing pages for each specific region. Each of those URLs or pages should be SEO-focused on the specific area, with locally-based headlines, page titles, and body copy. This will help to ensure that when someone is searching for a particular area they are able to find your business.

Many searches will include a specific city or region for example, “babysitters in New York City” while someone else may search for “Babysitters Brooklyn NY”. You may serve both areas but if you are only targeting your content for New York, you can lose out on the Brooklyn searches. Correct this by creating specifically tailored pages for each city, region, or even neighborhood that you serve.

3. Double Up On Your Address

Provide your business address at least two times on your website. Preferably it should be included in a primary location as well as the footer. Be sure to spell out your full state name in one instance of your address and abbreviate your state in another. This will help to draw in visitors who are searching for CA as well as California.

4. Promote Your Community to Improve Your Local SEO

Getting and providing links to area businesses and organizations can greatly improve the number of people who find your website through area-based searches. Many communities have city websites, chamber of commerce websites, visitors bureau websites, etc. These are often great linking partners. Contact the webmasters and inquire about getting a link from their site, and also offer to link to various local businesses and organizations from your page as well. While this technique might be a wash as far as “link juice” goes, it does show Google which “neighborhood” you’re associated with, which can help increase your local search engine results.

Read the full article…

by Robert B. Gelman

I am frequently asked these days about how clients can move more readily from maintaining a solely physical (postal address) mailing list, to one that includes email addresses and enables a more contemporary approach to media.  The answer is essentially twofold:

Communicate With Your Existing Customers – ask for their email addresses.
This method may entail sending a card, letter, or other direct mail vehicle to them offering an incentive for them to give you their address, such as a special price on a hot item, or the chance to win an incredible prize.

If you choose to offer a prize or other “chance” incentive, you should be aware that you are trading off some number of those who don’t believe they really have a chance to win, against those who just might not be interested in the item you are offering a great price on. Your best results would come from creating a “loyalty club” wherein they have a serious discount on everything (or many things) you offer going forward, but members must give up a valid email address.

To be sure I’ve covered all bases, I should also note that having someone call your customers and ask for their email addresses is highly effective as well.  It also gives you the opportunity to gather feedback that you can use to improve your service or expand your offerings.

Hire a Professional Data Firm – a newly affordable option
It used to be that data warehouses and list brokerages were not viable options for small businesses with lists of a few hundred to under two thousand prospects. That’s generally no longer the case, and there are services that list houses offer that can enhance your own database in ways that will save you money now and make you more successful down the road.

One such enhancement is simply to have a list firm append your current mailing list with email addresses. In some significant number, people have opted-in to a product or service where they have given permission for associated companies to send emails to them. These are people who are generally less protective of their personal data but if they are already on your mailing list anyway, will have little surprise when they start getting emails from you.

Their counterparts, the “personal data protectives” have still given you implicit permnission to communicate with them, by being your customer.  You should be more respectful with this group however and make your first message to them one in which you ask their permission to continue to send them valuable offers like the one you are sending at that moment.

Of course ALWAYS offer an easy unsubscribe to your list which does not remove the email address, but prevents sending of unsolicited promotions there.

More About Email Append

Email is increasingly the go-to method for communicating with your customers. It’s cost-effective, maximizes response rates, and personalizes your marketing efforts.  Several list management firms offers email append services to add business and residential email addresses to your database.

How many emails? Common match rates are 15% to 20% on average. I invite you to be in touch with us if you are interested in seeing how many email addresses are available for your customer and prospect lists.

Choosing a provider for email matching should be guided by these points:
• High accuracy rate
• Multi-sourced data for more detailed information
• Thoroughly tested data for reliable results
• Only pay for matches to maximize cost-efficiency

And while we’re discussing this process, it’s relevant to add that email addresses are not the only data that are now available to match with households or business addresses. Phone number acquisition, changes of address processing, deceased removal and other “list cleaning” services can be implemented by these same companies.

Comments Off on Can Facebook Grow Your Business?

Can Facebook Grow Your Business?

by Robert B. Gelman

As readers of this blog know, I am a skeptic when it comes to the value of Facebook (and other social media) when it comes to promoting local, small businesses. That’s not to say I don’t believe it can or will work.  I just prioritize it lower than other methods proven to effectively increase sales and market share.

That said, I recently ran across an online survey that honestly evaluated my potential return for investing time on a Facebook with 10 short questions.  It’s at www.isfacebookforme.com.  I recommend you take 30 seconds and give it a try. My score was just 4.8, supporting my decision to invest my time in this website rather than Facebook’s. But that may not be the case for you.

If you have not tried PPC advertising, it is truly the most logical type of advertising to do for businesses that need to make every penny count. And next to Google’s search network placement, Facebook is the best place to do it, according to several studies.  In a post on the ROI Revolution blog, Ben Ronnenberg gave us insights into the results of one of his anonymous clients that can be instructive.  He called this company “Client A.”

“The following story is about a lead generation client (Client A, for anonymity), but Facebook would certainly be worth testing if you’re in an e-commerce space too.

We created Client A’s Facebook account back on January 26. He’s a local advertiser, only seeking clients within a close radius of a heavily populated metro, so we set the Facebook geo-targeting to just 10 miles around his city.

Within 18 days his campaign spent just over $500, generating almost 600 clicks, but these numbers don’t tell the whole story yet:

When we dig into our Google Analytics reporting for Client A’s Facebook PPC traffic, we can see that his $500 in spend produced 11 highly valuable customer leads:

By highly valuable, I mean that Client A knows his customer lifetime value and has been able to determine that each new customer lead is worth $600 to him.

So for a ~$500 cost, with 11 new customer leads worth $6,600 (11 x $600), we’re talking about a superior ROI from Facebook in just 18 days!

It’s important to note here that Facebook is only producing 5.5% of the overall leads from our top 5 traffic sources, so it’s not going to replace Google AdWords anytime soon. Facebook is however, turning out to be a solid supplemental lead source for Client A.

Tips for setting up a Facebook campaign

1. Track your conversions with a reporting service like Google Analytics.
2. Utilize Facebook’s demo/geographic targeting to focus on a niche audience.
3. Set your bid price within Facebook’s suggested CPC bid range.
4. Use a captivating image in your ad (you can combine an image with text).
5. If you generate a strong impression share initially, but then it trends downward over time, you should rotate new ad creatives to keep a fresh message in front of your audience’s eyes.

6. If you are unable to generate any substantial impression share at all, then try experimenting with different or fewer demographic segments. You can also try targeting a larger geographic area to boost your ads’ reach.”

Comments Off on Eight Steps to Powerful, Irresistable Emails

Eight Steps to Powerful, Irresistable Emails

Email marketing is powerful, inexpensive, and frankly, a must for most small businesses and organizations today. So how can you make it work as well for you as you want it to?  We’ve adapted the following eight steps from a white paper by the email service, YesMail.

The content for your email is of course, hugely important, and the structure of your email matters more
than you might think.  By following these 8 steps, people won’t be able to help themselves; they’ll want
to open your emails and act on them (translation – they’ll read then buy).

1.  The more you know
The more familiar you are with your target audience, the better you can determine what the best
message is to convey to them.  Your message needs to be tailored to suit your objective and your
audience at the same time.

2.  Don’t go all “Tolstoy” on them
It’s not the time to struggle with your inner author. If you want to get overly descriptive and drawn
out, go write a book.  For email, you always need to keep your messages short and sweet. One or
two short paragraphs with brief sentences should be enough to get your message across.  People
don’t want to think too much and you’ve only got a few seconds to impress the reader enough to
click and take an action within your message.  Try being clever, or bring in some humor to the mix.
Think about how you react when you get a good email offer that engages you, and actually contains
something you really, really want.  Something you just have to have.  The response you desire is
almost caveman basic: “Offer good.  Me want to buy.”

3.  Get their attention
Clearly spell out the offer right up front.  Don’t let your audience lose interest in your message before
you even hit them with the goods.  Highlight the top reasons the offer is a must have and emphasize
the valid time frame for the offer right away.  This sense of urgency will be a nagging inner voice,
reminding them about this great deal.  Example:  “Limited time offer – 25% off Pool Repair when you
buy a deluxe pool cleaning kit by April 3rd, 2009!”  Summer is around the corner, that crack might get
bigger, and that kit will help Johnny keep the bugs and leaves out!  You get the idea.

4.  Taking action
Be sure to have call to action links to make it uber-easy for a customer to take the next step.  Include
links right at the beginning, in the middle and at the end of your email to help them take action.  In
addition to the offer itself, provide supporting documents, a free download, and a link to your website
for more information.  They are going to hop, skip and jump around your message.  Be ready for them
– and collect their contact information whenever it makes sense.

5.  Sally sells sea shells
You need to make sure your content reads well.  Read it out loud.  Seriously – find a quiet space, and let
it roll.  If your content reads like a tongue twister, or feels like you’re stumbling trying to get the words
out, it’s not going to be an easy read for the recipient.  It’s time to rewrite. When you’re confident in
your masterpiece, ask someone else to review it – they might have some great suggestions that you
didn’t even think of, or catch some grammatical errors that you skipped right over.

6.  Simplicity in design
A simple design is the most pleasing to the eye.  Don’t get overly complicated with format.  Loads of
graphics put the brain on sensory overload.   However, you need to strive for the right balance.  Have
a picture of your product or offering?  Add it in.  Offering a service of sorts?  Add in a nice graphic to
illustrate.  The right balance of pictures and text are an email’s best friend.
Be sure you are consistent with your style and image for follow on email campaigns – it helps the
customer remember you, and respond accordingly.

7.  Match the shoes with the bag
The subject line is the first thing folks will read when your email hits their inbox, so you need to make
sure your subject line relates to the topic of your email.  After your email is all laid out, it’s time to
think of the perfect subject line that will entice folks to open it up.

8.  Learn the lessons well, Grasshopper.
Track and measure your email campaigns.  Note how many emails bounce, get trashed without being
opened, and record how many visits you get to your website.  After a time, you can compare the
effectiveness of your campaigns and discern why one did better than another.  This will allow you to
learn from past mistakes, and make any tweaks you think necessary for the next round.
Your email marketing campaigns are sure to evolve as you fine tune your offerings with lessons learned
from past campaigns.  Give these proven and sound tactics a try. You’ve got nothing to lose, and many
sales to gain.

Comments Off on Social Media While You Sleep, part 1 of 2

Social Media While You Sleep, part 1 of 2

IconsI proposed in an earlier post that Social Media might just be a waste of time (and money) for small businesses. I challenged readers to show me a study which shows ROI for the effort spent in developing Social Media marketing channels. A few very interesting submissions have been received, but no one has gotten the cigar yet (check out the challenge and win a $500 package of cash and services).

The fact is that the jury is out on this method of marketing, although it is being investigated intensely by many large companies. I expect to see the studies I’m looking for eventually. Meanwhile I have a method for those that want to be sure they cover this territory, but are just not interested in spending 10 hours a week doing it. Or even one hour for that matter. There are actually many ways to achieve social media presence and interaction “lite,” and I am going to show you how to do it the way I do it, in case you’d like to try this.

Broken down simply, what we are going to do is:

  • Create Social Media Accounts for our business
  • Connect those accounts via email and RSS feeds
  • Generate multiple posts/tweets/outbound html emails…all just by sending a single text email.

This may take up to an hour to get started, but then requires only 10-15 minutes per week, or however often you want to publish messages. Let’s get started.

Step One: Open the Accounts

This almost doesn’t need stating, but just in case, please open accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In and any other social network site where you think there’s a chance your customers might be spending time. Here in Gold Country, there is a Ning Network called “Gold of the Mother Lode” (GOTML) which some of my clients participate in. It’s a good idea not to use the same passwords in each, but make sure you have a passwords database somewhere on your local machine, you’re going to need it.

Step Two: Prepare to Blog

Launch a blog if you do not have one. The easiest way to do this is to open an account at WordPress.com or Blogger.com and choose one of the stock themes (designs) offered. These tools are very user friendly. If you can put two words together and type them into the fields provided, you can blog.

Next we’re going to setup your blog to post your messages by simply sending an email. Using WordPress as our example, login to your dashboard, click “Settings” in the left column, then click “Writing.” You’ll be shown various ways to get new posts into your blog. Under “Post via Email,” you can enter your email account information to enable the blog to accept your posts automatically. If you can create a new secret email address/account just for this, it’s a good idea, since anyone who knew the address could automatically post to your blog. If you don’t feel like doing that, it’s still pretty easy to copy/paste your words from your favorite word processor or text editing program into the blog program.

In whichever way you prefer create a test post, and publish it..

Step Three: Setup your Social Network Connections

For purposes of this article, we’ll do Facebook and Twitter (which you already have if you followed step one), but this step applies to all social networks. Login to your Facebook account, then check out these “apps” which you can use to plug your blog posts and twitter tweets into your Facebook page automatically: http://apps.facebook.com/rss-connect/presentation.php?ref=st . It does this by taking the RSS feed from your blog page and “syndicating” it to your other pages. The instructions that come with this widget are detailed but you will need to know the address (URL) of your RSS feed for your blog, which is usually found near the little broadcast icon (like the orange one in the illustration above), or in text at the bottom of the page. In the browser Firefox, you can also click the blue broadcast icon that appears in the address bar to see the location of your feed.

Once you install this widget in Facebook, your visitors will see new headlines of your blog articles and be able to click to read the full articles. You can place this widget almost anywhere on your page. Other social networks (like Ning) have a built-in RSS feed publisher and searching “help” files for the keyword “RSS” will likely bring up how to use these tools in other networks.

Next, go to this site: http://twitterfeed.com/ and setup a connection between your Twitter account and your blog. This is a simple 3-click process where you authorize Twitterfeed to access your blog periodically and then post the subject line of your articles as a “tweet.”

Step Four: Test What You’ve Built

Your first test blog post should be appearing in Facebook now, but that “tweet” is nowhere to be found. So now create your second post, and in the timeframe that you specified, you should see it appear in Twitter. As you know, these “tweets”have a maximum of 140 characters and are frequently seen on mobile phones. If you’ve done these steps correctly, you should now see two articles in your blog, their headlines are appearing in your Facebook or other Social Network pages, and you have one “tweet,” based on the subject line of your second post. If you get stuck, I welcome your email or call to see if I can help.

In next week’s installment, I’ll show you how to use your blog posts to automatically send a beautifully designed email message to your email list. Following that I’ll give you some ideas for what to write about in business newsletters and blogs.