Category Archives: Email marketing

LinkedIn

15 Things That Make Your Business Look Bad on LinkedIn

Social networking is such a phenomenon that some businesses are bypassing an actual company website and only advertising via networking sites. I cannot say that I support this approach 100 percent – customers like to see an actual company Web page – but social networking is certainly a critical component in your business’s overall marketing strategy. LinkedIn was designed strictly for business users, and it is a wonderful resource to promote your business when used properly. If your LinkedIn page is not used properly, however, you might be spelling D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R by inadvertently making your business look bad.

  1. Your Mug – Everybody loves a good party now and then, but LinkedIn is not the place to advertise your party-going tendencies. Your business’s LinkedIn photo should be professional, not a shot of you and your employees doing shots at last year’s holiday party. Your photo should be a head shot, with you properly dressed and neatly coiffed. If you prefer, you can also use your company logo as your LinkedIn photo. Keep in mind, however, that people identify better with other people, so a photo of a person is best.
  2. Photo Quality – While we’re talking about photos, let’s talk quality. Aside from avoiding using an informal snapshot of yourself, don’t use a photo that’s the wrong size, either. LinkedIn photo specifications are a square image of 200 by 200 pixels up to 500 by 500 pixels. Don’t try to squeeze a 500 by 700-pixel image of yourself. You’ll end up looking warped and distorted. And while your friends might describe you as such occasionally, it’s not the image you want portrayed on your professional social networking page.
  3. Logo Quality – You’ve got size restrictions when adding your company’s logo to your LinkedIn page, as well. You company logo must be sized to 100 by 60 pixels in order fit properly. If you try and make something fit, your logo won’t look right, and this screams “unprofessional” to the potential clients viewing your page. Along with the size restrictions, your logo must also be saved as a .PNG, .JPEG, or .GIF file and no more than 2MB in size.
  4. Web Page Links – LinkedIn means more than just “linking” with other professionals on the social networking website. LinkedIn pages are designed to give users easy access to the professional they are viewing. You have the opportunity to link your viewers to your company’s Web page, so make sure the link works. Otherwise, when potential clients click the link to your company page and end up in limbo land, they will lose faith in your company and move on.
  5. Social Networking Links – The same holds true for any other links you add to your LinkedIn profile. If you’ve got it all, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and so on, and you’ve get them interlinked, make sure those links are working at all times. You don’t want a potential client to click from your LinkedIn page to your Google+ page and end up in the tangles of a broken URL that doesn’t work.
  6. Speaking of Links – I promise I’m not beating a dead horse here, but while I’m talking about links, it’s important to make sure that you have the links to your company website and other social networking pages in the appropriate fields. For example, should you accidentally link your Google+ in the company website field, it will be very confusing to your potential clients to end up on Google+ when they were expecting to land on your company’s website. Make sure all fields are filled in with the proper URL – no linking Twitter in the Facebook field!
  7. Email Addresses – Aside from links to your company’s website and social network presence, LinkedIn also gives you the opportunity to include contact information in your profile that anyone can access, including non-LinkedIn members. Make sure you have your correct email address – and other information for that matter – in the contact fields. Once your potential client clicks on the email link to send you an email, you need it to come to you.
  8. Utilize Everything – Make sure you set up and use LinkedIn’s company page dynamics instead of just setting up a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn’s company page gives you the option to outline your business’s product and services, giving potential clients information about your company right away, instead of having to click over to your company’s website. This opens the door to greater interest in your company and what it has to offer.
  9. Don’t Be a Bore – While you are setting up your LinkedIn company page, don’t be boring about it. Engage your reader when you set up your company’s information and products and services. No potential client wants to read, “I am a Marketing Manager who blogs to help people maximize their sales and marketing strategies…” Yeah, me and how many others? Rather, get some attention by having fun when describing what you do. Just make sure to keep it professional, or you risk offending your future clients as well as boring them.
  10. Keep it Real – There’s a fine line, however, to making things interesting and embellishing the details too much. Be honest about you and what your company does. Don’t get carried away and represent yourself as a Fortune 500 company if you aren’t. Honesty goes a long way, and clients will not hire you if they think you are full of – well – you know.
  11. Keep it Client Focused – Your LinkedIn presence is there to present you to potential clientele, but it isn’t necessarily ALL about YOU. You need to think about your client when you are setting up your LinkedIn profiles. Your future clients want to learn what you can do for them, and while they will be interested in your credentials, graduating Cum Laude from university should not be the primary focus of your profile. Think about the questions your client is asking when they looked you up and make sure you’re answering them.
  12. Be Proactive – LinkedIn, much like other social networking pages, is meant to link you to others, so make sure you connect with as many people as possible. Your LinkedIn pages show your connections, and a client is going to be far more impressed with a proactive business connected to hundreds of other professionals, than a business with five whopping connections.
  13. Get Recommended – LinkedIn allows other professionals in the LinkedIn network to recommend you, and the more recommendations the better. Ask your colleagues to recommend your services, and offer to do the same in return. Again, you need to make a positive impression on your LinkedIn pages, and if you’re highly recommended by other professionals, potential clients will take notice. If you’re not recommended at all, they’ll note of that, too!
  14. Get Feedback – LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to include customer testimonials on your pages and you’d be foolish to ignore that. Written and video testimonials go a long way when earning the trust of new clientele, so go get ‘em! Don’t wait for your customer to send you the appreciative email. Follow up with your customers and get as many written and video kudos as you can to place on your LinkedIn page.
  15. Keep it Updated – You’ve gone to all this trouble to make sure you’ve addressed everything I’ve discussed in this blog post. Your picture is professional, your logo looks sharp, every URL link is perfect, and you’ve got more connections and testimonials than you can count. None of this will do you any good if you don’t keep your LinkedIn pages fresh and updated. Keep active on your profiles. Potential clients can see if your pages are stagnant and will assume that your business is stagnant, too!

Whether your business is small or large, looking for B2B or B2C clientele, social networking is a crucial piece of your overall marketing pie. Other websites might be more popular in the social networking “food chain,” but LinkedIn should never be ignored. This social networking site was designed specifically for professionals, and offers networking opportunities far beyond personal networking websites. Get those LinkedIn pages up and running, and make sure they make your business look good, not bad.

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How to Stay off Blacklists

In order to stay off of spam blacklists, there are a few guidelines that are important to follow. First, the ratio of emails sent to complaints received must be kept low. A good rule of thumb throughout the email marketing industry is one out of 1000 emails can be a reported as a spam complaint in order to remain compliant. Many sources recommend using opt-in/out links at the bottom of your emails to make sure that the recipients can choose whether or not to receive your marketing emails, but remember it’s also the law. As long as people have an easy option to opt out, you will be able to keep your spam complaints low. If email subscribers can’t opt out, then their complaint method goes straight to your ISP or hosting provider.

 
Keep an eye on spam complaints against your ISP or hosting provider. If you wind up with the same IP address as a known spammer, the problem can compound and wind up with your marketing addresses on a blacklist. If you are using an ISP or host that is known for spam complaints, consider switching. Sometimes you may not even know if your IP has been spoofed or piggy-backed. By keeping a close eye on any issues, you can quickly resolve them by getting a new IP address or moving to a new server on your host.
 
Make sure that your email service is not vulnerable to malware. If you send an email to a recipient with an infected device, it’s possible that a return email could result in spreading this malware to other recipients. Make sure your email server or service is locked down tight! Also, keep an eye on the comment section of your blog or website. This is a prime location for spam and malicious links, so make sure that comments are not emailed to your marketing account or server. This is a good way to spread malware.
 
If you do wind up on a blacklist, for example SpamCop or SpamHaus, you may be able to get yourself removed by a simple phone call. In many cases, a spammer would just create a new email address or use a different proxy to get around these lists. By proving that you’re a real person, you are adding legitimacy to your marketing addresses.
 
Keep your email lists clean and your messages genuine and you will see good results from email marketing.

By Alec Wilcox

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Top 10 Worst Email Subject Lines

Since subject lines are the first (and in many cases only) aspect of your marketing emails that many possible leads will see, it’s impossible to oversell the importance of a good subject line. In many cases the “right” subject is very specific to you and your industry, but you will only know what truly works after lots of testing. But this isn’t about the best subject lines, it’s about the ones that don’t perform for business emails. Here are some examples of what not to do:

1. “Join us for a Free Event on June 7th!” – This subject line is vague. Nobody knows what event you are promoting, and in most cases, they might not even know what your company does. Try to be more specific.
2.  “Post-Seminar Follow-Up Meeting: Are You Making the Right Decision for Your Business’s Toner Needs?” – This is just an example, but far, far too long. Get to the point, if your potential customer’s mail client is truncating the subject lines, it’s too long!

3. “Last Minute Gift? Come See Us!” – Once again, too vague. Repetitive emails without too much content are going to get sent straight to the spam bin after the first or second time. Are you promoting something specific? Now would be a good time to send a marketing email.
4. “St. Paddy’s Day Sale: Shop Early and Save!” – Vague, vague, vague. Beware of promoting holiday sales: everybody else does it. You want your email to stand out!
5. “Gift Certificates: 10% Off With Coupon!” –  This type of email has historically low open rates unless paired with some verbiage to get the reader’s attention.
6. Now Offering (x) Services!” – What were you offering before? Why does this person care? Try to convey why x service is even more value.
7. “Win an iPad! Guaranteed!” – Like Viagra and iPods before it, mentioning free or cheap electronics (like iPads) is a good way to get sent to the spam folder. If this is the gist of your marketing, consider changing the focus if you want to see results.”
8. “Psst, (x company) is Offering Huge Savings!” – This smells like a used-car commercial. You should be respectful of your readership and be cognizant that people historically don’t respond to this type of marketing. It reads as very patronizing.
9. “Beautiful Lakefront Property” – Try to be broader. This may exclude the portion of your readership that doesn’t live near a lake. Why would an email having to do with lakefront property come to them?
10. “(your company) Announces New Business Partnership With (another company)” – Who cares? What does this mean for the customer or prospective customer?


As for subject lines from spam emails, I’m partial to these:

1. Buy Rolex Designer Watches Now
2. NEWSFLASH: Order your meds online

3. From the desk of barrister hollingsworth
4. Claim your $20m prize now!
5. Swell your P*^@%! (thanks @twopens2)
6. Open this now!
7. Improve Your Credit Score for Cheap
8. 5 Forbidden Foods to Tighten Your Belly
9. Buy Cialis Now
and one that I just got today:
10. Deal
That’s my list. What’s yours? Tweet me or message me with the best of your worst!

By Alec Wilcox

 
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What’s the Best Day and Time to Send Your Emails?

Email marketing can be a fickle undertaking: many different factors can affect the success rate and expectations. One of the primary factors in keeping your marketing strategy successful is to optimize the timing of your emails. Of course, you have already optimized the content, the wording, and the links, so it follows that you should make sure that your emails are reaching your potential clients at the moment they are ready to click and purchase your product.

So how do you know when the time is right? First of all, you want to optimize your emails to go out around the time you are starting a promotion or around the time of the event for which you are raising awareness. The common misconception is that possible leads won’t see your emails the day they are sent, most people open these types of emails right away. The best email marketers expect about 85-90% of total opens to happen within 24 hours. This means: time your emails near or on the day of promotions, but also test the send times with multiples emails spread throughout the campaign.

Second, make sure that your emails aren’t sent between 8 and 9 AM (EST). Studies have shown that this window of time has the lowest open rate of received email all day long. Nobody is ready for marketing at this point in his or her day. Common wisdom recommends shooting for the Eastern Time zone, typically late in the day or right around lunch.

Additionally, what day of the week is best for email marketing? Once again, the common “best practices” has an opinion: the worst day of the week is Monday; with people recovering from their weekends, many don’t have the energy or interest in marketing this early in the week. Most people delete things that seem like junk (even if they aren’t) on Monday to clear their inboxes for the rest of the week. On the weekend, emails are largely ignored (just like work). Marketing best practices say: midweek emails are optimal. People are far more receptive when they are in the middle of things, especially to pertinent marketing (things that they might be dealing with at that very moment).
 

The most cardinal rule of timing your email marketing, however, is that all rules can be bent or broken depending. Experiment with your marketing timing and other procedures. Find what works best for your industry. This is the best way to ensure that you are seeing the best results for you.  

By Alec Wilcox

 
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How to Increase Sales with Your House Email Lists

The conventional wisdom in online marketing these days (including marketing via email lists) is to streamline, streamline, streamline. Research says that the fewer products you have, assuming they are quality products, the greater the likelihood of conversion. Obviously the law of diminishing returns is at work here, so it is important to have robust as well as streamlined offerings, but specifically with email marketing, it is imperative that the customer arrive at your site and know where and what to buy quickly. Simple, direct marketing emails are a great way to draw the customer’s attention to a particular product or promotion.


When you have streamlined your offerings to your best products and services, you can begin trying to simplify the process from start to finish. If a marketing email is the first way that a customer is going to hear about your business, make sure that that email says what needs to be said quickly and in a concise fashion. Most users will barely glance at an unsolicited email, so it is important to stand out in the right way. Simple subject lines and promotions are the way to go. Studies have shown that businesses with a clear line between offer, link and purchase have the best chance at turning leads or possible customers into sales.

The purpose of mailing lists, like any marketing strategy is not just to create awareness of your

product or business, but to create results. In most cases, “results” means sales, plain and simple. There really is no magical way to take a mailing list and leverage it for guaranteed sales, but through a few “best practices,” you can begin to see a greater click-through rate (CTR) which is the first step toward increased sales. Simply put, the best way to leverage email lists for sales is to put sales to the back of your mind as a goal. Make your goal visibility first, and sales will follow. Maybe your customers won’t be interested in the offer you are sending this month, but it is a possibility that they will be interested in the one you send six months from now. Make sure to keep your marketing relevant, current and always test your messages. If a customer follows your links, he is exponentially more likely to follow through toward a purchase at some point. The best way to turn faceless email addresses into sales, is to first turn them into pageviews.


By Alec Wilcox

 
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You Have an Email List, Now What? 10 Tips to Start Email Marketing

When you are starting out with email marketing it can be difficult to quickly build your internal email database. Although growing your list organically is the best option, buying email lists is a practical way to jumpstart your marketing efforts. Just find a list that fits your target – looking for new dental patients? By a dental email list. Stick with reputable companies and you will be good to go!

So now that you’ve purchased your email address database (from a reputable company, right?), now what?

There are many ways to utilize a curated address database, but the most common is direct email marketing. Here are ten tips to keep in mind while you plan out your email marketing campaign.

1)      The structure of your emails is important. Subject lines should be concise and links should be evident and direct.

2)      Make sure your emails are coming from a reputable account. Oftentimes it’s a bad idea to use marketing@yourcompany.com or something of the like. Try using a person’s name, whether he or she is a real person or you create a persona is up to you. It is less likely that your emails will be confused with spam if you are using a pseudonym instead of a “black-hole” address.

3)      Keep images to a minimum. Many times email providers will see a large file size email (or one with several images/attachments) and assume the worst. This is a good way to accidently get branded as spam.
4)      Along the same lines, it’s important to have your message front and center. You don’t want your potential client reading through a mess of images and text trying to figure out what you are trying to say. Less is more.
5)      It is important to have multiple “calls to action” in your email, but it is also important not to use things like, “CLICK HERE,” “BUY NOW,” etc. Sometimes overselling is a good way to dilute your message and make it hard to read.
6)      Timing is everything. Make sure that your marketing emails are coordinated and timed properly. Reminding your customers that you exist is OK, but it is best to time your marketing emails with promotions and campaigns to maximize conversion.
7)      Quality is always better than quantity. Fewer emails with real content and promotions are always a better choice than many, many emails with the same content.
8)      Spelling matters. This seems simple, but many email marketers throw together their emails quickly and sometimes let mistakes fall through the cracks. This is a good way to devalue your brand and is easy to fix: always proofread.
9)      Choose a consistent format. If possible, try and match the layout and coloring of your marketing emails with your website. Brand consistency goes a long way toward legitimacy in the eyes of a potential lead.
10)   Optimize your emails for mobile! Oftentimes, this is the one factor that will make a difference. Many of your potential leads will see these emails in passing on their phones or tablets. Make sure that they can follow up easily and efficiently.

By keeping these steps in mind, you will be able to begin start your first email marketing campaign on the right foot. Good luck!

By Alec Wilcox

 
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How to Use Email Lists to Increase Conversion Rate

In Internet marketing, conversion rate is defined as the amount of clicks or sales divided by the amount of visitors to your site. Getting your company name or product out there is only one part of the email marketing process. You also need to turn leads into clicks or sales. There are many ways to improve this statistic, but targeted email marketing using an email database is a great way to bolster the rate of conversion.

 
The first step in online lead generation is to make sure your company or product website has a landing page setup and ready to capture all of your new leads that will be coming in. A landing page is a specialize page on your website that is targeted to a specific campaign. If you are sending a special promotion  out to your email lists, then when someone clicks on the email you want them to go to a landing page that tells them all about the sale. If you just send the people from your email list to your homepage, they may be confused or frustrated that they can’t see any information about the sale and quickly leave.  Once you have a landing page setup, then you are ready to start sending traffic to your website using targeted email marketing.

Email marketing, especially if you’re using a specialized email database for your target market or industry, is a great way to drive traffic and convert leads and sales. A well-structured marketing email to promote a sale or event can do wonders to increase conversion.

If the email best practices below are are followed when using email marketing you should see a nice increase in conversion rates:

  • Use a reputable looking email address so as not to be accidentally labeled as a spammer (ajohnson@yourcompany.com is better than sales@yourcompany.com).
  • Make your offer front and center in the marketing email and easy to follow. This will increase the amount of leads visiting your site specifically to take advantage of the offer.
  • Experiment with different subject lines for each email list and keep track of conversions through Google Analytics to see what techniques work specifically for your customers.
  • Less is more. Welcome emails and repetitive offers are bound to decrease the amount of interest.
  • Emphasize offers or benefits rather than just features. Your customer knows why he’s coming to your site, it’s important to tell him what is special and why now is the time to buy.
  • Most importantly, use a “call to action” every time. A strong call to action is often the piece of the puzzle that can turn a marketing email from a good idea into a “must buy”.
 

Experiment with some of these tricks while monitoring conversion rate through Google Analytics.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for email marketing, but it is possible to take this data and cater
your technique to your audience. As in all marketing, continue testing and you should have no
problem increasing conversion rate.

By Alec Wilcox


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5 Tips to Increase Email List Response Rate

If you’ve done a lot of online marketing, your tests probably show that email marketing is consistently one of the best ways to connect with your audience. If you haven’t tested your email list stop reading and focus on that instead. If you are looking for a bounce in response rates or just starting your email marketing campaign, I’ve put together a few tips that can help you easily make an impact. 

1. Subject Lines
Make sure that your subject lines are concise and do not look spammy. There are many factors that influence how people perceive your email queries, but without a doubt, making subject lines that look computer generated or automated is a surefire way to get your email sent to the spam folder. Using “free” in any way is a huge flag. Don’t use CAPS either they scream “PLEASE DELETE ME”. Typos are a definite deal breaker in many cases, but sometimes it entices readers to open your email – just don’t make it a habit. Make sure to proofread. Try to describe your product in a few words or even incorporate a call to action up front in the subject line. The idea is to get the reader’s attention and make him or her want to read more about the product. When it comes to subject lines, less is almost always more. Shorter subjects are proven to yield better results. 

2. Personalization
Personalizing emails whenever possible is another way to ensure that your marketing emails are at least viewed. Sending an email “to whom it may concern” is a good way to get your email disregarded when you could tailor each email to the names and titles in your database. Also, personalizing the subject line could give you additional opens. You can normally use a command like “FNAME” to insert someone’s first name in a subject like this: “FNAME, it’s time to register for your next event!” which will personalize your email subject to say “James, it’s time to register for your next event!” 

3. Multiple Calls to Actions
The point of sending a message to your email list is to get results – whether that’s a click, a lead, a forward, or a purchase, you need to give your recipients a change to click on your call to action. Make sure that you include not just one, but multiple links to you specific call to action in your marketing emails. Linking several different sections of text or including linked images are great ways to increase response rate. In many cases, marketing emails are likely to just be skimmed, so making it as easy as possible for the reader to follow links is a proven method to increase response percentages.

4. Segment Your Email List 
Conventional wisdom in marketing is to “know your market.” Studies show that smaller, more focused campaigns (to a region, profession, or any other subset of your complete list) are far more effective than generic mass-mailings. In email marketing, this is called “segmentation”. If you are sending an email list to doctors you should test sending a specific email to known doctors on the list and a specific email to staff. Or if you sell ecommerce, you can send a discount code to people who have never purchased and a sale email to your current customers. Make sure that your messages are tailored to your target audience to maximize response.

5. Be Creative..again and again
Finally, one more important factor in ensuring maximum response is to be creative with your mailings. The vast majority of your potential leads are going to be too busy to open all of their emails or they will get so many that they just delete them. Keeping all these tips in mind and frequently rephrasing, reimagining, and revamping your campaigns is a great way to stay relevant in their inboxes and a great way to begin converting these potential leads into sales. It is especially important to stand out from your competitors and to make sure that when your leads think of your product, they associate it with your business. Being creative in your marketing is the best way to do so. 

Good luck and remember to test the tips above to increase the results from your email lists!

By Alec Wilcox


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