Category Archives: Email marketing


An Interview with Marketing Guru Jim Joseph

One of my favorite parts about being in the marketing industry is how many great people you get to meet. Although I haven’t had the pleasure to meet Jim Joseph, I have been following his career, blog, tweets and articles on for a while now. He is one of those people you think you have known for years. He is knowledgeable, relatable and one of the hardest workers I know. It was honor to have him answer some of my questions!

How do you balance your career as an NYU Professor, contributor for Entrepreneur, author of an award-winning book series and President of Cohn & Wolfe?

I actually get asked this all the time! For me, it all works together. Writing and teaching keeps me on the pulse of what’s going on in the marketplace which only makes me better at my day job. It’s also super helpful with recruiting and new business to have a voice in the industry so it all feeds upon each other. Plus I get up insanely early every morning and write like the devil before I go to the gym!

What brand do you think takes marketing to the next level?

I constantly highlight Starbucks as a brand that takes it to the next level both in terms of its product marketing as well as its brand marketing, which are two distinct streams for them. You can consume the brand in entirely distinct ways from the products which from an industry standpoint is inspiring. The brand has risen to an emotional space in people’s minds, becoming a beacon in communities and tackling social issues. Whether you drink coffee or not.

Your recent blog post on prank-vertising and viral videos was very interesting. Do you think some brands are pushing the envelope too far?

The only way to know if a brand has pushed too far is to read consumer reaction and measure results. Many are offended by putting consumers in precarious positions and then filming it, which I understand. It gets people talking though, which isn’t so bad as long as it results in sales; although, honestly, I’ve always tried not to offend in the process.

What made you want to enter the world of marketing?

I knew as a kid that I wanted to be in marketing, although clearly it took some time to figure out what it meant. I’ve always been more fascinated by the TV spots than the actual programming and the print ads more so than the articles. I always wanted to know how they knew to put it all together. I guess it all started when Farrah Fawcett did the “and I told two friends” commercial….

How do you think social media has changed the world of marketing for brands?

Social media made marketing a multidimensional relationship. Suddenly on a mass scale we hear what our consumers are thinking and that influences other consumers. Consumers can take control of a brand and brands are embracing that. It’s made it all so much more engaging as the lines of marketing disciplines have completely blurred. And from a personal perspective, I feel like social media has connected those of us in the industry beyond what an occasional conference could do back in the day.

Thank you, Jim Joseph for answering my questions and sharing your knowledge with our blog. It has been a pleasure!


6 Email Design Rules You Should Follow

Face it. You simply cannot have a business today without establishing your brand on the World Wide Web. There are many ways to get the word out about your business in cyberspace, and they are not all created equal, contrary to popular belief. You must differentiate between your marketing mediums online, just as you differentiate your offline campaigns; your windshield flyers are different from your newspaper ads, for example. Let’s talk today about your email marketing campaign, and some important design tips exclusive to this marketing medium.

Some No-No Design Rules

Email is a tricky beast, and there is a lot that can go wrong with an email marketing campaign once it’s sent. You might be looking at a perfectly designed email on your end, but who knows what your recipient is going to see when he or she opens the email on the other side. Many things can turn a perfect email into a perfect nightmare. Here are three things to avoid when designing your email:

  1. It’s tempting to create a graphically enhanced email using JavaScript or some other interactive programming, but chances are the nifty email you’re looking at won’t translate over your recipient’s email client. Your recipient might open up your email and see zilch, because his or her email client removed the JavaScript coding for safety’s sake. Avoid using coding other than HTML; otherwise, your email might be blank or misaligned upon opening.
  2. If you’re overloading your recipients with critical information – perhaps you’ve just revised your five-page privacy policy and you’re sending the new one out – don’t make them fish for the information they want to read. Many senders think including a linked table of contents in an email is a step that should be avoided, and nothing could be further from the truth. Linked TOCs should be included in emails packed with information, so your recipients can click immediately to what they want to read.
  3. Never be shy. If you think adding a call to action to your email makes it too “sales-pitchy” or pushy, you’re making a huge mistake. No, you don’t want to assault your recipient’s eyes with a giant, flashing red banner screaming at them to “CLICK HERE!!!” when they open your correspondence. You recipient, however, doesn’t want to have to go onto the Internet, navigate to your Web page, and then navigate again to your sales page. Help them avoid these steps by giving them easy access calls to action at the top of your email to take them directly where you want them to go.

Some Yes Design Rules

We’ve gone over some things that you shouldn’t do, now let’s go over some things that you should do when designing your perfect marketing email. Keep in mind the number one no-no above while reading these three tips: Use HTML coding when designing your e-correspondence. There are a few other tricks to use that ensure your email makes it into your customer’s inbox and looks how you sent it – for the most part. Three things to keep in mind are:

  1. If you have too many pictures or too much text, your email is going to be tagged as spam and dumped into cyber no-man’s-land. To avoid this from happening, create a balance between your email’s text and images. Make certain your text-to-image ratios are as equal as possible to avoid your email being tossed into the spam black hole.
  2. Speaking of images, you know when you open an email and all you see are boxes with a red “X” in them? That is so annoying. The problem is you can never guarantee that this isn’t going to happen. Chances are your recipient’s email client is going to replace your images with empty, red “X” boxes and prompt the reader to download the images separately. Therefore, always keep the important stuff in your marketing email within the text – don’t embed it in the image. Your recipient can’t read it if it’s an empty, red “X” box.
  3. You have to properly code your images, too, even if they don’t show up on the other side. If you’ve built your email’s text around the images, everything is going to be thrown off if the images don’t automatically download and display. When coding your HTML for your images, make sure you include each image’s height, width, and alt attributes. This will make certain your empty, red “X” box is the same size as your image and keep your text in place.

So, what is the reward for all of your efforts in designing the perfect email? Keeping your email subscriber list engaged in what you are saying and what your business is doing. Your emails will receive two reactions once they hit your customer’s inbox: One, a grunt of disgust and immediate “Trash” click, two, a bounce of excitement and immediate “Read’ click. I don’t have to spell this out for you, but you want reaction number two, so take the time to design emails sure to keep your subscribers happy and in the loop.



How To Grow Your Business with Pinterest

Of all the social networking tools on the Web businesses can use , I think Pinterest is the most fascinating. Pinterest is a sharing website where you can build an interest in your business by “pinning” things to a virtual board. Pinterest boards allow for all sorts of media, including video and photos. Pinterest also allows those following your boards to “repin” your stuff elsewhere, increasing your business’s following with zero effort. Many businesses are wary of using Pinterest, as it is sometimes construed as too informal of a social media resource for professionals. Kick that thought out of your head, and let’s talk about how you can use Pinterest to grow your business.

Use Pinterest to Educate Your Followers

Because of its formatting and media capabilities, Pinterest is a great tool to educate your audience. People are taking an interest in your business if they’ve landed on your Pinterest board, so pin educational videos, posts, or other Pinterest boards to your board to give the viewer important information about who you are and what you do. For example, if you own a landscaping business, pinning gardening tips and the plant-life best suited for your area’s hardiness zone is a great way to show your followers that you have the best green thumb in the county. Build some “how to” boards, and tell your readers things about your business they would not know. Share other helpful pins from people in your industry. Show off a little without being arrogant; it’ll get you positive attention, rave reviews, and shared pins.

Sharing and Caring

Speaking of sharing pins, another important tool Pinterest allows for is sharing website content amongst followers. Much like re-tweeting in Twitter, people can link other people to your Web page and Pinterest boards by joining group boards and pinning your information there. This is beneficial to both parties, as you get more followers by default and so does the person pinning your information – kind of like a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” arrangement. The only downside to group boards is you do want to make certain the person pinning your company information is legitimate and qualified. If he or she is a teenager who has a Pinterest board on “how to throw the ultimate party without your parents finding out,” you’ve just lost a ton of credibility with your potential customers.

Use Pinterest to Get People on Your Web Page

According to social media expert Beth Hayden, more people end up on a company’s website from Pinterest, than from Google+, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined. This does not mean you shouldn’t utilize those social networking tools as well, you should, but you shouldn’t ignore the power of Pinterest in your overall marketing strategy either. If you create some swanky, informative boards, complete with photos and educational information to boot, people are going to repin them to their Pinterest boards and, voila! Instant marketing! Just add something worth repining and wait! Potential customers will click through to your website from the Pinterest board.

Build Interesting Boards

And this, my friends, is the key to growing your business by using Pinterest . You need to build boards that grab people’s attention, tell them something they didn’t know, and include photos and videos sure to go viral. The nice thing about Pinterest is you can get a little more personal with this social media tool without telling everyone your life story – something you never want to do in business. Using the landscaping example, hire a photographer to take amazing photos of your favorite projects; hire a videographer to tape you working. Get personal, without getting too personal. Give your followers imagery along with words to create an interesting board worth repining. Every time somebody repins your board, it is one more person putting your company name, website, and information out there. And, if that person has millions of followers, you just got millions of potential customers!

As you can see, Pinterest is a powerful social networking tool . Don’t make the mistake many other businesses are making by ignoring this unique website. Build boards that tell potential customers you know your stuff, and make them exciting enough that people will repin them to their boards. An old Faberge shampoo commercial comes to mind as I wrap up this blog post: “I told two friends, and they told two friends, and so on, and so on…”

email marketing secrets

The 10 Best Kept Email Marketing Secrets

One of the biggest mistakes most business owners make is not placing enough emphasis on email marketing. I would venture to guess that the primary reason people are reticent to dive into an email marketing campaign is the “spam” stigma attached to it. I’m not going to talk about spam in this post; we’ve gone over it extensively in posts past. I am going to give you some best-kept email marketing secrets, however, because you really do need to include emailing in your marketing repertoire. Customers prefer email to any other channel when it comes to giving you permission to market to them.

Sign-up Logistics

Ah! But that is the key. You need to have your customers’ permission to send them email-marketing material, so make sure you get it – easily. It doesn’t matter if you have an online business, a brick-and-mortar store, or both, you need to ensure your email mailing list sign-up process is a piece of cake; otherwise your customers aren’t going to bother. Have a mailing list sign-up sheet with plenty of pens at your store checkouts, and train your staff to ask customers if they’d like to receive “special deals” via email – see how I just enticed your customer to sign up? Special deals! Make sure your website also offers easy access to sign up for your emailing list; a non-intrusive pop-up sign-up form is a good idea.

Your Sign-up Form

So, let’s talk about this non-intrusive sign-up form for just a second. One thing I’ve been preaching from blog post number one is to keep things basic – a little goes a long way, and this is true with your electronic email sign-up form, too. Save your sales pitch for your emails; don’t clutter your sign-up form with a bunch of mumbo-jumbo your customer doesn’t need to read to simply sign up for your emailing list. Keep it simple by asking for your customer’s name – only insist upon the first name, many people don’t like to include their last name – email address, and include links to your social networking pages so your customer can sign up for those at the same time.

Get Excited About Them Signing Up

I’ve written a blog post on this but it bears repeating. If your customers sign up for your emailing list and you don’t send them a new subscriber thank you email within 24 hours, you’ve just lost their interest… and it’s just plain rude. The power of common courtesy has not fallen by the wayside, contrary to popular belief, and you need to thank your customers for their interest in your business. While you’re at it, give them a bonus in your thank you email to get them shopping right away.

Once They’ve Signed Up… Think Mobile!

I’ve given a few secret tips to get your customer’s to sign up for your email marketing campaigns and now that they’ve signed up you need to think mobile. Recent studies confirm that most people read their emails on their mobile devices; I know I have my nose in front of mine 24/7, much to my wife’s dismay. So, when you begin formatting your marketing emails, you need to keep mobile devices in mind. A couple of things to help you out are to keep your email margins left aligned and use links instead of buttons. Both show up better on smartphones and tablets.

Get Personal

While you’re personalizing your emails to your customer’s devices, personalize the actual emails too. Take a moment to learn more about your customers and what they purchase from you, and then make certain your marketing campaign addresses that… directly… to them. For example, if you’re running a pet supply business, you definitely do not want to send dog supply coupons to cat owners and vice versa. Customize your marketing emails to each customer and you’ll get better results.

Make Certain Your Emails Get Opened

Picture this, in today’s world of cyber-insecurity you get an email in your inbox that doesn’t identify who it’s from. It just says “” What would you do with that email if it hit your inbox (changes are it’ll be spammed)? You’d delete it without opening it. I would too. This is why you need to get personal in the sender’s address also. If your customers know you by name, have your name as the sender’s name, i.e., If they are assigned to specific sales reps, have their name. Whatever you do, have a name! Otherwise, your marketing email won’t be opened at all.

Time Your Solicitations

Don’t overlook the importance of timing in your email marketing campaigns. Sit down with your employees and hash out some ideas as to the best time to send out your emails; talk to your customers, too, and ask them how often they really want to hear from you. Keep in mind your business. If you own a restaurant, for example, sometimes the best time to send a marketing email is in the afternoon, because your customer just might be at work listening to his or her growling stomach and thinking about dinner. You send them a coupon and, voila! Dinner plans are set!

Keep Track!

I know I’ve said this a million times but email marketing campaigns are no different from any other marketing campaign, and you need to track their success. Make sure you set up your marketing campaigns to track click-through, printed coupons, and resulting sales progress. That way, you can find out which email campaigns are working the best and run your future campaigns based on their logistics. If you see the afternoon emailed dinner special coupon is bringing tons of customers through your door, keep it up! That’s the point of email marketing.

Be Unique in Getting New Email Signees

The Internet is an amazing tool, and we are all learning the numerous ways to use it to build businesses, so here’s a suggestion: Use this Internet to build your emailing list by hosting free webinars about your business. It really doesn’t matter what you do. You can still host a webinar to teach people about you, why you went into your own business, and why they should become your customers. Send an email to your current list encouraging them to attend and to forward the email to their family and friends to attend. Advertise your webinar on your website and using local advertising resources. Get people to sign up for your email list by teaching them about your business.

Keep an Open Mind

Whatever you do to increase the success of your email marketing campaigns, keep your mind open. Yes, there are some hard-fast rules to email marketing, and if you break them, you might have to answer to the federal government! But, this doesn’t mean that everything about email marketing is cut and dry. Things that don’t work for other businesses might just work for you. And your customers might not mind if you break some commonly understood email-marketing dos and don’ts. Maybe your customers want their email font in hot pink, who knows? Okay… maybe not hot pink. But, my point is to use different approaches, test them, ask your customers for feedback, and then stick with what works. That’s the best kept email marketing secret of all!


welcome email

That’s It? What’s Missing From Your Welcome Email

“Welcome” says so much to your customers.

That’s It? What’s Missing From Your Welcome Email?

One of the biggest marketing mistakes businesses make is failing to send a welcome email to the people who subscribe to their electronic mailing list. One of the second biggest marketing mistakes is sending a crappy one. Forgive the language, but if your new email subscribers open your welcome email and think or say out loud “That’s it?”, you’ve just lost them to the unsubscribe button. Considering welcome emails increase customer loyalty by 33 percent, you can’t afford to miss anything when it comes to welcoming your customers to your email subscription list.

Common Courtesy Beyond the Opt-In

You are probably already sending one email to any new customer who subscribes to your email list, so it’s ridiculous to skip the courtesy of letting your customers know that you are thrilled that they want to hear from you regularly. If your email system is set up to send an opt-in subscription confirmation – you know, the ones with the links that the customers click to confirm they want to be added to your email list – including a welcome message is a no-brainer. Bada bing, bada boom, done! If you don’t send an opt-in confirmation email, send the welcome email anyway.

The reason why this extra step is necessary to your business is simple: Your customer opens a welcome email more than any other email, except order and shipping confirmation notifications. You know your customers are going to open those emails, but did you also know that 50 to 60 percent of customers open welcome emails? That’s pretty impressive, considering most marketing emails hit the cyber trash quickly without being opened at all.

Nope. The facts remind us of something that has been tried and true for centuries: Your customer wants to feel important and wanted, as if they are your ONLY customer, and you need to use good old-fashioned customer service and courtesy to ensure that they are feeling the love. Make it worth their while to opt-in to your email list and remain your customer, and do that by:

  1. Genuinely welcoming your customers to your business. Thank them, and make sure they know that you appreciate their interest in your business, and that you are excited that they have opted-in to receive news and information about your company.
  2. Review the benefits your customers will receive by being an email subscriber. If you aren’t offering additional perks, do so! Include coupons and click-throughs to your website so they can use them. Entice them to shop right way. Customers make purchases from welcome emails nine times more than other types of correspondence. Take advantage of that.
  3. Include links to a preferences page and your privacy policy. This gives your customers the opportunity to tell you more about themselves right away, so you know exactly how to approach them with your business services. It also assures them that you will keep their information confidential.
  4. Link to your social networking pages so your customers can “Like” you immediately and subscribe to your Tweets and Pinterest page. No matter what it is, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, make sure you’ve got the social networking links for your customers to click.
  5. Encourage your customers to add you to their address book so your emails don’t end up in the trash. Also, tell them how often you’ll be sending them an email, and give them the option to choose how often they want to hear from you, if possible.
  6. Include an unsubscribe link – it’s the law – and here’s the real tricky part, wrap all of this into a concise, graphically pleasant email and send it to your new subscribers as soon as humanly (or electronically) possible. I’m talking within 10 to 15 minutes of their subscription, no longer than an hour, and definitely no longer than 24 hours.

This is a lot to cram into one little email, and that may be why so many companies don’t actually send welcome emails. They’re missing out big time, and so will you if you avoid this crucial marketing step. If you can’t do it yourself, hire someone who can. If you can do it yourself, do it, do it, do it! Why lose 33 percent more customer loyalty and nine times more sales just because you don’t want to let your customers know how important they really are. Come on! Your customers are the MOST important thing to you, so tell them that by welcoming them into your email subscription group appropriately. Spread the love! It’ll pay off.

Email Subject Lines That Will Get You Noticed

Email Subjects Lines That Will Get You Noticed

You’re competing for inbox space. Craft a subject line that will get you noticed in the clutter!

Email Subjects Lines That Will Get You Noticed

If you’ve read my last couple of posts, you’ve figured out that I’m on a mission to share with you all that I know about email marketing. Since this is such an important part of any business’ marketing plan, let’s keep rolling with it. You know firsthand how an email subject line can attract attention. If you’ve been the victim of spam, you know exactly how the subject line can attract the wrong kind of attention. I won’t go into any gory details, but we’ve all received the “enhancement” email. You obviously wouldn’t use that subject line for a business email, but you can’t use anything else that might result in your email being slam-dunked into the cyberspace circular file either. You’ve written the perfect marketing email, now write a subject line to entice your recipients to actually open and read it.

Get to the Point

Although I started out by saying that the “enhancement” email subject line isn’t the way to go, and it isn’t unless that’s what your business sells, it does one thing right. It lets the reader know exactly what the email is about. This should be rule number one when crafting the perfect email subject line. Don’t try to be mysterious to pique your reader’s curiosity. Get to the point so you aren’t wasting your reader’s time. The title of this blog post is a prime example of what I’m talking about. What is the blog post about exactly? Email subject lines that will get you noticed. You knew what I was going to discuss when you opened this up. Use this same approach when giving your marketing email its subject line. What are you marketing? Tell your reader right off the bat.

Keep it Concise Yet Specific

Keep the subject line concise while getting to your email’s point. There’s a misnomer out there that you need to craft the shortest subject lines possible to ensure a “Read” click, and that is neither the case nor what I mean by concise. Being brief isn’t going to guarantee that your email will be read over another one that you send with a 25-word subject line. A good rule of thumb is to keep the subject line short enough so that all of it will appear in the inbox – usually around 50 characters. Say everything you need to without having the tail end of your subject automatically replaced with ellipsis. Remember, you want to get your reader’s attention by being direct and informative. It’s much better to craft a subject line that says “French, Columbian, Ethiopian Gourmet Coffee Beans,” than it is to say “Gourmet Coffee Beans.” If you take the latter approach, your reader will probably think, “Yeah, and…?” and hit “Trash.”

See What I Did There?

You see what I did there? I just tempted any lover of the three roasts mentioned in the email’s subject line to open and read the email. If your marketing campaign reaches readers who can’t live without their morning cup of Ethiopian brew, you’ve just given them extra incentive to read what you have to say. So add that informative verbiage. And, while we’re talking about specifics, reel your customers in with an added bonus in the subject line sure to get a click. How about: “French, Columbian, Ethiopian Coffee–Free Shipping.” Okay, now you’ve given your potential customers two reasons to open your email. One, you sell their favorite brew; two, you’ll ship it for free.

Use Demographics

If you’re thinking, “Okay, fine. Got it! But how the heck do I know what kind of coffee my potential customer likes?!” you’ve got a good point so let’s address that. Use the same demographics to craft your subject line that you used to develop your email-marketing mailing list in the first place. In keeping with our coffee roasting company example, use additional demographics to entice your customers even further. Say only 25 percent of your list prefers dark-roasted Ethiopian, but 75 percent prefer it light roasted. Add that to the subject line! “Gourmet Coffee” isn’t going to get you anywhere, but “Light-Roast Ethiopian Beans–75 Percent of You Prefer It” just might.

Obviously, not all of you are owners of a gourmet coffee roasting company, and you may not have the exact demographics I’m using in my examples here, but you get my gist. When deciding on the perfect email subject lines to get your marketing email – and company – noticed, you need to be direct, concise, and speak directly to the reader opening your email. Otherwise, your readers just might score a two-pointer as they slam-dunk the correspondence into the trash. Oh, and one more thing: Always, always, always make sure your recipients have agreed to receive your emails and their contact/demographic information is correct. You don’t want to send a French roast email to “Janet” who’s actually “Janette” and a tea drinker! Now, put your thinking cap on and write some email subject lines – and emails – that will get your company noticed!



Should I Be Using Images In My Emails?

Is a picture really worth a 1,000 words? Yes, it is. This is why I want to talk about using images in your emails. It does not matter how good of a descriptive writer you are, words alone will not grab your reader’s attention quite like words and images will. It’s a simple fact: In today’s world, people want to take all of 2.5 seconds to see what you have to say… you see what I did there? SEE, not read. So, when crafting the email marketing campaign for your next big blowout, think imagery alongside verbiage.

Make a Connection

You know how you “Ahhh…” when you see those first baby pictures of a newborn, or, if you’re like me, a tear forms in your eye when you view photos of the game four ending play to the 2004 World Series – 86 years, people! 86 years! The reason you get all warm and fuzzy at the picture of a puppy or kitten is because you make an immediate emotional connection to the image. Photos stir emotions, solicit reactions, and make connections. So when adding images to your emails, you are making a connection with your current and potential customers by stirring emotions and soliciting reactions.

Make the Right Connection

When soliciting a reaction, however, it is always important to ensure your images solicit the right one. We talked about email marketing mistakes in my last post and how you don’t want your marketing campaign to end up in everyone’s spam folder. Along with that, you don’t want to use images that will bring about a negative reaction. You’re using images to connect with your customers – create a bond, if you will. Don’t use images that will turn them off, offend them, or break that bond. You should definitely use images in your emails, but it’s even more important to choose the right ones.

Why? What Difference Does it Make?

Think about how often you hear in the news how so-and-so’s latest advertising campaign was controversial, offended people, was pulled, and the company apologized publicly. You hear this pretty much every day, and that is why your images should be well thought out and tasteful. Email marketing is no different from any other type of marketing and it can offend just as easy. Unless you’re a nonprofit soliciting donations for an atrocity, your images should send a positive message, not a negative one. If they don’t, you’ve lost a customer. Remember, using images in email gets people’s attention, so think about the attention you want your images to get.

Images That Work Best

Your emails are intended to reach out to your customers, but that won’t do you any good if your customers don’t know who you are. Using images of you and your employees where applicable should be your first rule of thumb. In fact, images of people are always a good route to go because, again, you’re soliciting a reaction. People seeing images of happy people benefiting from your product will want to buy your product so they will benefit, too. Can we say super models advertising beauty products? That is a classic example of how imagery impacts marketing.

Secondly, images applicable to the product or services that are the subject of your email are also important. If you are telling your customers about your latest and greatest food item, use colorful, artistic, vibrant pictures of the dish. You want people to see your creation, get hungry, and run out to try it. If it isn’t that cut and dry, say you are a roofer and, well, pictures of roofs aren’t that exciting (no offense to all the roofers out there), think a bit outside of the box and use images that will still get attention. Maybe pictures of the pictorial roofs of classic architecture would make a splash. Better yet, grab your camera, go out, see what inspires you, and snap it!

I’m Not a Photographer

Neither am I. Although I believe I am at times! Which is why using the innumerable resources available to you is important, because no matter what, you need images in your emails – no excuses! There are plenty of online websites that license, or allow you to use them free with proper attribution, a gazillion different photos of just about everything on earth. You are going to find something you can use in your emails on one of these sites.

If you’re not a photographer, but you know someone who is, have him or her take pictures for you. Or get permission, grab, and scan printed photos and graphics you already know and love. Whatever you do, understand this: Should I be using images in my emails? Yes, you should because pictures do speak 1,000 words. They connect with your audience, they solicit a reaction, and, thereby, the action you desire from your customers.



5 Email Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

This is not what you want customers thinking about when they see your marketing email in their inbox.

I probably don’t have to write this blog. All I need to do is call upon you to think about how you feel when you receive spam email. You get angry. Don’t even open it up. Tag the sender as a spammer. Curse and swear. Report them to the FTC. Well, there you go. There’s five reactions all rolled into one email marketing mistake – the recipient’s perception of being spammed. But that’s not the only email marketing mistake to avoid, so I’m going to write this blog!

Permission, Permission, Permission

When the Internet first took off, businesses got the clever idea of adding anybody and everybody to email lists and then “blasting” people with marketing emails. Criminals also jumped on board, blasting victims with false advertising and phony sales tactics. As you can probably imagine, and most likely remember, people got pretty angry every time they checked their inbox and found it filled with unsolicited emails. Congress took note and enacted the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003, which made sending unsolicited emails illegal. So, the number one email marketing mistake to avoid is sending email marketing campaigns to customers who have not given you permission to do so. Before you do anything else, make certain that you have received the blessing of every customer on your email list to receive marketing emails from your business.

Professional, Professional, Professional

Aside from sending an email to every single customer you’ve ever had, another common marketing mistake is to make the assumption that email is less formal than other types of business marketing tools. Even though times have changed and we all have casual Fridays now, this does not mean that you should ever send out anything unprofessional from your office, including your email marketing materials. Keep it professional, and more importantly, clear and concise. Ensure your email is free from spelling and grammar errors, and make certain you don’t use text speak or instant messaging icons and abbreviations. This is still a professional campaign, even though you are sending it electronically.

Location, Location, Location

Okay, maybe not a physical location, but in the process of keeping everything professional, another critical email marketing mistake to avoid is sending the promotional campaign from an unprofessional or personal email address. This will not only confuse your customer, as they will recognize your company’s name but not necessarily, but also tangle your personal and professional accounts, thereby causing further communication to your customers via your personal email address. Make certain that you are marketing from your business address. If you don’t have one, get one. And, by all means, make sure the email name is professional. Nobody is going to open an email from

Computers and Smartphones and Tablets, Oh My

Our fourth mistake is thinking that every one of your customers is going to be reading your marketing email from their desktop or laptop computer. These days, nothing could be further from the truth. In the spirit of keeping things professional and concise, you must also consider that a majority of your clients are checking their emails throughout the day from their smartphones or tablets. Simply put, don’t create a graphic masterpiece that can only be viewed on a mega-sized computer screen. You need to format your email marketing campaigns to be compatible with all receiving devices, including the smaller screens of smartphones and tablets.

Accessibility, Accessibility, Accessibility

Okay, sorry, I’m probably driving you crazy with my repetitive subtitles, but I’m on a roll here, and when I speak of accessibility, I’m not just talking about the device your customer is going to read your email on. I am also talking about making the information you want your customer to notice immediately accessible within the body of your marketing email. Do not bury critical information, such as links to your company website or the specific sales page that you are promoting. Keep that information on top and quick and easy to find. Why? Because no matter how much your customers love you, they are not going to read through a 500-word email to find out exactly what it is you’re selling. Nope, they want to read a few lines and have an immediate clickable link to move forward, so make certain that happens.

These are just five things every business owner must keep in mind when preparing an email marketing campaign. There are more, and I’m including links below if you want further information. I cannot understate the importance of everything I’ve discussed in here, but perhaps the most important gauge in avoiding email marketing mistakes is you. Before doing anything, think about how you would receive your email if you sent it to you. If you’d get mad and tag it as spam, you’ve just made the biggest email marketing mistake of all.



What You Need to Know About Facebook for Business

Facebook business pages should a part of all marketing plans.

A couple of blog posts ago, I talked about the importance of making sure your business looks good on LinkedIn, the business social network. Now let’s talk a little bit about using Facebook for your business as well. Social networking is one of the best ways to market your business these days, and businesses should network on all avenues possible. Sure, Facebook was initially created to be a personal social networking website, but it’s opened itself up for business pages too, and there are a few things you need to know to keep your business on top with Facebook.

Networking Reach

According to Facebook’s website, “Over one billion people Like and comment an average of 3.2 billion times every day.” You can’t buy that kind of publicity. Well, you can, but imagine the cost! Think about it, if that many people are on Facebook every day, interacting between pages, liking, and commenting, your business has access to that many potential clients… but only if you have a Facebook page.

Build Your Page

So, get that page built and up and running. Facebook makes this step easy by guiding their business members through the page building process once they’ve signed up, and the same rules apply as the ones I talked about in my LinkedIn post previously. You need to build a page that is engaging, exciting, and enticing to people. Build a page that tells people a lot about your business, and include plenty of multimedia to keep your visitors on your page.

Keep it Fresh

Once you get potential clients on the page, you have to keep them coming back. You can’t expect anyone to return to your page if all you have on there the same information about your business that you started with. Potential customers won’t come back and they probably won’t Like your page, which is key to keeping your Facebook business page on top. Stay active on your own Facebook business page, constantly adding comments, posts, and multimedia to keep your visitors engaged. If you don’t have to time to do this, hire someone. This type of marketing is truly worth the investment.

Promote, Promote, Promote!

Facebook business page users have known all along that you can promote your business on the website and app by housing contests and promotions. It used to be, however, that you couldn’t house the promotion directly on your Facebook page. This made it difficult for some users who didn’t want to route their promotion through a third-party app, such as another website. In August of this year, Facebook announced that business pages can now run promotions directly on their Facebook pages, which is great if you have a Facebook page and not an actual website.

Stay on Top of the Rules

If you do decide to use Facebook for your business, and, better yet, you decide to use it to run contests and promotions, make certain you know Facebook’s rules; otherwise, you might find your page blocked. For example, if you’re running a contest and asking your Facebook followers to name a new dish your chef has created, it’s okay to have them submit their ideas for the entrée’s name using the proper mechanism, such as Liking the product’s post page; it’s not okay to have them tag their picture in association with the entrée.

Be a Social Butterfly

The key to any Facebook page success is interacting with other Facebook users, so don’t just sit there and wait for people to visit and Like your page. Don’t just sit there and wait for them to enter your contests, either. Get “out there” yourself, and promote your Facebook page and visit other Facebook pages relevant to your own. Be active and Like and interact with other Facebook users. Remember, this is social “networking,” so get out there and network as much as possible.



The Best Summer Tips for Small Business Owners

Take advantage of your community’s summer activities and get your business’s name at the finish line.

Ah, summer! Summer equals vacation. Summer equals hot weather, which, in turn, equals lazy days. You know, “the dog days of summer,” or, as Nat King Cole sang, “Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…”! It’s so easy to slow down during these months, and you should take a well-deserved break at some point; however, summer shouldn’t be an excuse to slow the business workings down to a crawl; you should still utilize your summer months productively.

For example, take the snail time to reassess your company’s website and social networking pages. Why not do some upgrading or redesigning to freshen up your company’s online presence. Give your website and social network pages a summer feel by “warming” things up with appropriate summer themes and photos of you and your employees engaged in summer activities. Most people equate summer with fun, including potential clients, and playing along will pique their curiosity and keep them on your pages.

Summer Marketing Tips & Secrets

If you haven’t built an online presence, summer’s the perfect time to do it. I dare say there is not a potential client out there, who isn’t going to run a search on your business, first, before ever considering hiring you. It doesn’t matter if your business is B2B or B2C, people research before they hire or buy, and they want to see you online. If you don’t have a website or social networking pages, put down the cold one and barbecued ribs and get cracking!

Speaking of good food and drink, summer is the perfect time to capitalize on your company’s community presence. Summer time is event time, and events need sponsors, food, and drink. Sponsor your community’s 5K run or the local surfing contest – whatever the big thing in your area may be, get involved. Sponsoring a community event is a perfect way to get your small business’s name out to the masses – not only in signage, but also in goodies such as munchies, water bottles with your company’s logo, t-shirts, posters, buttons, and other event-related memorabilia; and never, ever, forget about the publicity! Every time the event is advertised, so should be your company’s name!

You should also network face-to-face no matter the social situation. Having a neighborhood get together to welcome a new family into your neck of the woods? Take your business cards! Does your community have a Saturday night movie in the park or an annual July 4 bash? Go! Make sure to meet and mingle. You never know who or where your next client will be. Summer is very much a social season, so take advantage of this and network, network, network with the peeps in your hometown!

Once you’ve met potential clients, take them out! If your business slows down during the summer – and even if it doesn’t – schmooze potential clientele with a cool, refreshing lunch at a local café or an afternoon break at the ice cream parlor. Don’t be afraid to make it fun and lighthearted. This will ensure the potential client remembers you. While I cannot stress enough the importance of an online presence, during the summer months when everyone is out and about, there is no excuse not to pump up your business’s community presence, as well.

Finally, network with your employees. Summer slow can be well spent sitting down individually with each member of your “crew.” Discuss goals – both yours and theirs – and address any concerns or needs your employees might have. Cross-train, too. If it’s a particularly slow day in the office or shop, have the employees teach each other their jobs. You never know when someone might need to know exactly what John or Susie does.

Assess your business, as well. Take a moment to look at your company’s annual goals and see where you’re at. If you work via a traditional calendar, summer means you’re halfway through the year. Are you on target or, pardon me, up a creek? If you’re up the proverbial creek, what should you do to get back on track? Talk with your partners and employees during the summer slow-mo, and come up with a game plan to get the business back on track and achieving its year-end goals.

See? Summer is such a slow time! You have absolutely NOTHING to do! Now, take advantage of these “lazy, hazy, crazy days” and get to work!