Email Marketing

Direct Marketing in the Digital Age – Emailing Client Lists?

Social Media channels afford businesses the opportunity to solicit followers by engaging prospective clients with interesting offers and dialogue on topics of shared interest.  This is great actually, but it’s not the end of the game, just the beginning.

Curves representing email volumes in 2013 versus 2014 during the all-important Holiday Season.

Curves representing email volumes in 2013 versus 2014 during the all-important Holiday Season.

Modern businesses have a plan for how to leverage sending direct email to their customer lists. Operating an opt-in “Newsletter” is one method.  But also — capturing contacts from staff email accounts and driving towards forms of customer relationship management by sending periodic communications to those addresses is absolutely legitimate.

More than legitimate, Direct EMail is critical.

MailChimp.com, a very popular email list management company (they have quite a nice free offer for small clients) reports that mailings this past holiday season through their service rose 72% from December 2013.  View their blog post here.

MailChimp.com is one example of an affordable, easy to use, effective "List Management" service.

MailChimp.com is one example of an affordable (free in many cases), easy to use, effective “List Management” service.

Earlier in my career I worked for a Mail Order clothing company.  Each season came with a huge push to collect current buyer names, merge those with past seasons and blend these with new prospects that matched our demographics. The company invested huge amounts of resources.  And it was effective. It’s still done this way, but with enhancements of course.

In this era, it’s quite a powerful thing to realize that marketing one’s wares isn’t just limited to our Web Presence. Smart operators are marketing directly to email addresses. Something powerful exists in a scenario as simple as having a satisfied client forward an email to a new prospect.

What’s changed is that this applies now to businesses with just a few hundred email addresses in their list. Small is beautiful. Why? Because if only a few responses are obtained, the small operator has the opportunity to personally engage each one uniquely.

It’s a consistent fear among clients we consult that emailing clients will result in being marked as a spammer. This can be true, if you abuse their inbox. But if a business has a relationship with a client, it’s more likely they appreciate knowing you haven’t forgotten them. Further, it keeps the Brand alive in the client’s awareness.

Remember, in the age of Symantec Search and burgeoning databases of information on each one of us — it’s become a “Market of One.”

Wood Sabold Photography

Out with the old… 2015 Year of SM Integration

In much of the consulting we enjoyed with Small Businesses and other clients in 2014 the conversation revolved around developing an updated understanding of how internet marketing and essentially — communication — works nowadays.

Shoreline Community Church integrates their Web Presence to Podcasts at the Apple iTunes Store, Sermon Videos at Utube.com, Twitter and plans to take their "Photography" ministry online at Pinterest.

Shoreline Community Church integrates their Web Presence to Facebook, Podcasts at the Apple iTunes Store, Sermon Videos at Utube.com, Twitter and plans to take their “Photography” ministry online at Pinterest.

Gone, long gone is the age of Email and the Static Website.  These have their place, however, but only as anchoring facets among a symphony of other features.

What do I mean by anchors?

Well, for messaging – a website that is connected to social media channels.  This is where one begins.  Wood Sabold Photography has embarked on this path. (..It’s his image in the header for this post.)

Following on, however are updating aspects of Direct Mail.  If you’re emailing lists of followers or clients from your personal account?  You need to adopt a more mature posture.  We recommend you investigate MailChimp.com.  Start for free, move onto the platform and enjoy the benefits!

The issue isn’t so much one of being able to “program” your web presence as being of a mind to first interconnect to the services your viewers / followers are most likely to use.  Making your content available to them in the channel they most prefer means that you’ll be on their radar with better regularity.  If I see Twitter 20 times per day and Facebook twice? I’d more likely notice your stuff in my Twitter feed.

But don’t fall into the amateur trap of inconsistent branding across SM Channels.  Use the same messages and images / colors to help folks recognize you.  None of this is expensive.  It just takes an awareness at a high level.  On must see the chess board from a high elevation.

An affordable and powerful Web Presence is the best resolution we can offer. Get one!

Deal-A-Story cards by Sue Vidders.  Offered for sale online at RDRPublishers.com new web presence.

Deal-A-Story cards by Sue Vidders. Offered for sale online at RDRPublishers.com new web presence.

 

And one final truth.

As much as one client invested preparing to advertise online (and this is a very worthwhile endeavor) a single properly placed dialogue in social media resulted in 10X sales over a short period of time for a particular offering.

Doubt the power of Social Media to advance your business at your own Risk.

Happy New Year!

 

Moleskein and Mt Blank Pen

Content Intelligence — Does Search “Grade our Work”?

In a word? “Yes.”

But more importantly so do your web site visitors.

Much of the interaction with clients migrating from legacy web sites revolves around building a new vocabulary. New sites require new processes and these are not described with the web language of the previous decade.

Further, deploying a new Web Presence inevitably involves reshaping the message. Most often to sharpen it’s focus. Why? To render an effective page on mobile appliances to start. But there’s more.

A paper published online discussing these issues for Grad Students at Washington State asks:

“How can I decide what to include and what to exclude?”

“In all of these steps, it is important to have a clear sense of your audience: what are their interests? what do they know already? what do they consider appropriate evidence? Based on your title, what are they expecting?”

By default the “Forklift” site migration process means just what it sounds like — “shoveling” content from the old site to the new one.  Yet this can be detrimental to how Search agents view the new pages.

Here’s why:  A site that is 5 years old or more, probably contains way too much prose.  And, there is a chance that the text it contains is less well written, at least from a “freshness” perspective.  For lack of a better description, it’s “Grade Level” isn’t competitive with new sites in the market for a reader’s attention.

Given a site that reads like it was written by a High School student and one that seems if it was written by an MBA — Search will more positively rank the MBA’s work.

Why?  Because in the age of “Symantec Search” — correctly and effectively answering questions is the game.  It’s being won by well-designed and well-written Pages. (For heavens sake don’t use these pages as examples.  Calculus makes sense to me.  English has always been more like Black Magic.)

An online search of testing tools — ones where you can insert a paragraph of text and have it analyzed — yields just a few results.  Here is my favorite:

Text Scoring Tool. http://sarahktyler.com/code/sample.php

Give it a whirl.  And send Sarah an email to say thanks.

Or hire a quality Editor.  Most of us don’t enjoy that kind of budget do we?

So when your Boss says “Just put it in there the way I wrote it” – you can run it through Sarah’s tool. Go back to them armed with some concrete suggestions on how to improve that lump of 10th grade (bleep) before site visitors laugh at your page.

Hollywood

Why operate an Anchor Website in your Web Presence?

Two issues: Vision and workflow.

Job-Titles-1024x586

Publishing Workflows are typical across all kinds of “Content Management Systems.” If your process doesn’t at least have “steps” that replicate some of these areas of interest, you should ask for help. Grow into mature online practices by finding a tutor. It’s not that difficult.

Until an Operator begins to recognize the greater ability of an Anchor Website site to support, aggregate and consistently “Brand” content of all kinds, they won’t use it. The default is to just dump stuff to Facebook.

The impact of working from an “Anchor” site is an orientation to focusing attention — Specifically that the site isn’t full of all of the extraneous, distracting baloney that Facebook foists on viewers.

An Anchor Website site becomes the source for all of the Social Media “Channels.” So, which of those receive automated notifications from the site with pictures and links back to the site – depend on the kind of post one is “producing.” SM is used to drive visits back to the web pages you control. Collecting followers there permits all sorts of direct marketing opportunities — even via email.

There are specific occasions where one would prefer Twitter for certain things… and even less so, Facebook. Increasingly however, these are less SM channels (focused on engagement) for NPO/NGO and businesses — but more like simple media outlets. There is some capacity for “engagement” but a website is much more powerful.

Rules of thumb: Estimating the maturity of an Operation.

First: Until distinctions exist within a content vision — News, Press Releases, Member announcements, Documentation, Events, Updates, etc. — That each of these is a format and type of it’s own, in which one strategically overlays images, sound and video…  Until an Operation reorients toward “Producing and Publishing” content, there won’t be any drivers for controlling distribution.  If you don’t mind that you plaster FB with all of your stuff, don’t bother reading further.

So: If for now FB serves as a repository for unorganized and often unrelated or even conflicting information (like when one posts a time and a place — only to repost that it’s changed) and you don’t care.  You needn’t fuss with anchoring your Web Presence with a Web Site.

Any “mature” operator today, realizes they doesn’t actually “control” what happens at FB. How people see Branded info, and where it’s placed into user feeds is dictated by FB. FB (In particular) kind of places a FB Wrapper on everything.

Second: And this is killer/chiller – is that content listed on FB isn’t even close to being optimized for search. In fact, you can’t view the details unless you’re a subscriber. I’m often stunned that operators don’t intuitively Hate FB. Engineers and Content Producers almost universally dislike FB/SM because any effort there doesn’t result in much cross-channel availability of the content.

Time one spends posting to FB results in content that lives inside the perimeter of FB – with only certain caveats of “public” visibility. In any case: Search Engines really don’t optimize results for FB content.  Search Engines prefer a devoted, focused page – something that correlates interest-wise very highly with the query they are solving for.

Whereas: Content that I invest my scarce resources into that I produce on my Site — lives on the INTERNET. And oh by the way, it can be set to post to SM without additional effort by me.

An Anchor Website is a powerful tool.  But be wary — if your expectation is that “if you build it they will come” — you’ll be disappointed.  Any community requires active participation.  We are in the dawning years of Web 3.0 … and “living” websites associated with SM Channels are powerful tools in Business.

Deal A Story Cards … Product marketing Campaign set to launch.

We’re celebrating an important milestone with RDRPublishers.com.

Deal-A-Story cards by Sue Vidders.  Offered for sale online at RDRPublishers.com new web presence.

Deal-A-Story cards by Sue Vidders. Offered for sale online at RDRPublishers.com new web presence.

Since August the work began with surveying and assessing various assets.  One of the first tangible products of the process was a branded product site www.dealastory.com. This represents a fulcrum for community building around the brand, but also a reflection of the product intended to amplify E-commerce and SEO results.

Following on, we migrated the Online Store with books and other products away from their legacy provider onto services hosted by Shopify.com.  As of October RDRPublishers.com has been operational and a few “organic” orders have come through the system.

While books continue to be added to the new store, owing to readiness and other factors we are now moving forward with online advertising – commencing with Deal A Story cards.

The strategy (and I encourage the reader to fully understand this) is to begin with this single product, and then mirror the process for other offers as time passes.  These plans are “seasonally intelligent.”  For instance, we’ll launch a campaign for the Healthy Relationships Poster sometime prior to St. Valentines day.  And prior to this, we’ll produce a Product Branded site for the poster similar to the on we installed for Deal-A-Story Cards.

Also, the reader should understand that underpinning all of these initiatives lies preparation of the “plumbing” required to analyze and respond to trends.  Namely, the implementation of Google Analytics, Webmaster tools and other features prior to launching the Marketing Effort. My point being; sure you can advertise online, but absent the tools to measure how it’s working, are you spending wisely?

As to costs. The Online Store at Shopify costs less that $30/mo.  Webmaster Tools, Analytics, the Adwords account itself — are all free.  The Dealastory.com website itself? less than $30 / year.

If your sales online aren’t what they should be. Or your spending to accomplish sales online seems out of whack?  I encourage you to imagine what can be accomplished in the “free to extreme low cost” world.

Free internet research tool online — big data.

Filtering for US and for appliances I was surprised to snag this current stat: 85% of use internet user have a smartphone and use it online. Is your website mobile ready?!!

Filtering for US and for appliances I was surprised to snag this current stat: 85% of use internet users have a smartphone and use it online.

Is your website mobile ready?!!

Thanks Google.

http://www.consumerbarometer.com/

Make your own charts, test your theories.  Because this is Google, the presumption is the enormous database and statistics behind the results assure a level of interest that isn’t available elsewhere.

No, seriously.  Thanks Google.

Astounding. Share your surprises here.

JBJLawn.com Updates Web Presence

JBJLawn screen shotJBJLawn.com is refreshing their Web Presence. They’ve adopted a WordPress.com site and are busy preparing to move forward with blogging about thier activities in the field — communicating online with clients and prospects about what they do, how it looks before and after and other aspects of “Engaging” a new generation of followers. Congratulations John & Maryann! Notably, the site is optimized for viewing from Mobile appliances — with their phone number on the front page customers can dial them directly from their smart phone web browser.