Email marketing is the sales equivalent of a Swiss Army knife. Not only is it easy, cheap, and effective, but can be used to do any number of tasks. Get a strong list of local buyers together and you can announce new products, promote events, jumpstart sales with a discount code, and even share helpful tips.
Before you can do any of these things, however, you have to have some subscribers to send your messages to in the first place. And that’s the part of the process the trips a lot of small business owners up.
To help you make the most of a particularly versatile marketing tool, today we want to share a handful of subscriber-grabbing tips. Here are five things you can do to double the size of your local email marketing list today…
#1 Promote Your Newsletter Offline
If you distribute catalogs, brochures, or direct mail pieces, make sure you mention your email newsletter (and where to sign up). Reaching opt-in contacts through their inboxes is faster than other forms of direct mail and costs less. Plus, it gives you a chance to reinforce your sales messages in a new way. Why not see if you can turn bulk mail recipients into email subscribers?
#2 Give an in-Store Discount
For business owners who get a lot of walk-in traffic, advertising regular sales, discounts, and subscriber-only offers is a good way to add contacts to an email distribution list. Everybody likes to get a great deal, and customers will be more likely to read your messages if they are aware of the savings they can find inside.
#3 Host a Giveaway
Raffles, prizes, and other types of giveaways are always a big hit. In some cases, drawing names for a premium product or shopping spree can help you add thousands of email subscribers in just a few days. Just be sure you follow the promotion up with some great marketing, or you could lose those contacts very quickly without generating a lot of sales in return.
#4 Start a Referral Chain
Whatever your perfect customer looks like, they probably know lots of other people who would also be a great fit for your business. One way to take advantage of that fact is by offering a one-time discount to anyone who joins your email list and the person who referred them. Assuming buyers like and trust you, they may go out of their way to send new subscribers in exchange for a gift or coupon code.
#5 Get Some Local Publicity
Chances are, there are some business publications in your area that could use fresh content. You can contact editors to ask if they would be open to using some of your ideas in exchange for mentions in your email newsletter. If your topics are relevant enough, you could gather dozens or hundreds of new contacts from a single article submission.
There are a lot of ways to promote your company and grow your sales, but few of them are as simple and affordable as sending a regular email newsletter. Put these tips to good use and see how easy it is to add hundreds of new recipients to every message you send. It just might be the idea that boosts your sales for years to come!
The newest battle with ransomware is with the WannaCry attack. This ransomware has reached over 200,000 computers. The attack locks people out of their computer and demands a ransom which increases the longer you wait.
These attacks usually exploits vulnerable Windows system that have not been updated. First and foremost, install your security updates on your Windows systems. Microsoft released the fix in March and even patched older versions of Windows that are no longer supported.
It’s heartbreaking to watch people lose all their data, pictures, business files and basically their company with these ransomware attacks. Often, businesses do not auto update their systems for fear of causing issues with software they are running for their company. This is how these attacks spread.
Using a ransomware blocker like Malwarebytes Anti-Ransomware can help block these attacks. However, these programs are only there to help. Practicing safe computer use will help your computer become ransom and virus free. Here are a few tips to help you along. Keep in mind, these are just some tips for safe computing. The best protection for the WannaCry ransomware is the Windows update fix.
Call it what it is, your computer is a safe holding valuable records, information, and many times, money (or access to it). Just as you would keep a safe in your home secured it is important to do the same with your digital documents and personal activities such as banking, shopping, and even socializing. It is important to remember that once you log onto your favorite browser or start reading today’s emails you are not alone, but that does not mean you are unsafe. Passwords, passcodes, pins, firewalls, secured networks, and 2-factor authentication should all sound like familiar terms. All of these security precautions are there for you when common sense fails. Below is a list of simple ways to use these most efficiently:
Passwords: Make sure that you are using different passwords, even if they are only slightly different, for each online login portal. Try changing a number or adding a letter unique to the website. Both are easy password alterations. If you are like most people and forget easily, then save yourself the stress by keeping a paper notebook with a written record of all passwords. (Make sure it is kept up-to-date!) There are also programs like lastpass.com that will store your passwords for you. Remember, these do not help you with ransomware.
Passcodes and Pins: These four digit numbers are designed to keep electronic transactions safe and secure. For instance if you file taxes or FASFA electronically you are given a pin in order to legitimatize and verify your identity. If you own a smartphone take advantage of the passcode in as many ways as possible. Some phones have the option clearing all information and wiping the device clean after many failed login attempts. If you enable this function on your phone make sure you are backing up the information either on a computer or cloud to ensure it is not lost forever.
Firewalls: A firewall is an extra precaution that your computer uses to block access from hackers, viruses, and attacks that may cause harm to your computer information or give unwarranted access. It is important to research which firewall is right for your computer as different operating systems have different needs and may come with pre-existing firewalls built-in. According to CNET and other tech websites, blocking port 445 will add extra safety for fighting the WannaCry ransomware.
Secured networks: If you are not home using a private wireless network with a passcode then you are likely not using a secured network. There is nothing wrong with public Wi-Fi, but it is important to be aware of the potential risks associated with accessing private information, such as banking websites, while using Wi-Fi in coffee shops, libraries, cafes, etc. To prevent potential problems make sure you are using a secured network while accessing all personal informational websites.
2-factor authentication: Another type passcode used to access secured sites or information online is part of 2-factor authentication. If you login to Facebook on a public computer and Facebook does not recognize the computer you will likely be e-mailed or texted a number to authenticate your identity in order to proceed. This multi-layered entry requiring multiple passwords, passcodes, or pins is what is known as 2-factor authentication. It is important to use 2-factor authentication whenever offered to create an extra barrier between the digital you and cyber attackers.
- Common Sense.
In most cases it takes some spout of bad luck to spontaneously end up in a dangerous place or position. Either you drew the shortest stick or perhaps you weren’t practicing the ole faithful and always by your side rule of common sense. When talking about computer safety it may not be so obvious to most what should be common sense. Put simply here are the DO NOTs:
–Do not open e-mails from your favorite retailers that appear to have grammatical errors or something slightly askew.
–Do not click on pop-ups that may direct you unsecure sites.
–Do not download documents, music, videos, or programs without knowing exactly what it is.
Hover your mouse over links on email to see where they are going.
Be aware that cyber attackers are looking for an easy way in and one of the easiest ways is to trick the lazy eye into clicking before thinking.
Back it up! Those are the three simple words to remember that will keep you safe from yourself and others when it comes to digital destruction. There are many ways to keep a copy of your documents, files, and applications. There are flash drives, hard drives, clouds, idrives, second computers, etc. You can choose one or all of these options, but none-of-the above is not an option. Whatever you do, don’t forget to back it up!
Practicing safe computing will make it harder for attackers to target your computer. Follow these steps and rest easy knowing you are not an easy target.
As most of my readers and clients will know already, I’m a huge proponent of online reputation management. If potential customers and referrals don’t see good things written about you when they look you up on Google, Facebook, or Yelp, they’re less likely to visit your store or pick up the phone.
Recently, though, I’ve come across another more pressing reason to gather and promote online reviews: Google is using positive first-party feedback as a strong search signal. Let’s take a look at what that means, and how you can start putting customer feedback to work for your business…
The Power of First-Party Reviews
It used to be that businesses would have testimonials from their clients pasted on their websites and brochures. Now, smart marketers are using plugins and scripts to let buyers submit their feedback directly and have it indexed by Google. In other words, you can build review capability straight into your website and then encourage customers to use it. Feedback on your website is considered first-party; second-party reviews are the ones pasted to sites like Facebook or TripAdvisor.
First-party reviews work a bit differently than a traditional testimonial would. That’s because Google can identify the review as a special kind of content, and will show it next to your website preview within the search results. So, if numerous customers have left you five star feedback, for example, a prospect will see that before they actually click through to your page. At the same time, Google will bump your site up in the search rankings simply because you have those positive reviews in the first place.
Lots of marketers obsess over page titles, anchor links, local keywords, and other SEO factors. These are still important to search visibility, but Google’s artificial intelligence is getting smarter. It wants to give searchers the results they’re looking for, and factoring reviews into the equation is a good way to separate the best websites from the rest. That’s why positive feedback is being weighed more heavily into search listings.
This is especially true at the local level. Many of today’s searchers are using phrases like “best tacos near me,” or “good bakery in my neighborhood.” Google actually takes both parts of these search strings into account. In other words, it will factor location into the mix, but also star ratings left through direct reviews. If you don’t have at least four-star feedback, your website won’t appear in those searches. Or to put it another way, if you have great reviews and your competitors don’t, you can leapfrog ahead of them within the search rankings.
So, just by getting a few reviews you gain valuable, search-friendly content, a better reputation, and a good reason for potential customers to visit your website. Why wouldn’t you want to add that capability to your page for those benefits?
How to Make Reviews Work
If the value of online reviews is easy to grasp, then the formula for putting them to work isn’t necessarily so straightforward. Most small business owners either don’t realize how valuable direct feedback is, or they feel like they have to pay thousands of dollars to expense of search engine optimization consultants who will help them make the most of customer-generated content.
Luckily there is a better, more cost-effective solution. Recently, my company rolled out a new review management system that allows us to:
- Install the necessary coding on your website to accept first-party reviews and have them recognized by Google
- Import second-party reviews from Facebook, Yelp, and other platforms onto your website (while excluding reviews from sites you don’t want)
- Encourage reviews from customers through text and email so they can comment when they’re already thinking about your business (see below)
- View and manage your online review platform to see what kind of progress you’re making in your campaigns
Online reviews are becoming a bigger and bigger part of search engine optimization and the buying process as a whole. Why ignore their importance, or blow your marketing budget attracting and displaying reviews?
Contact the Web Services team in Peoria today to learn more about our review management service and see how quick and affordable it is to grow the kind of online reputation you need to get more business!
Last month Becca and I took a road trip to Waukesha, WI so I could speak at a WordCamp there. For those that do not know, WordCamps are sponsored by the WordPress foundation and are educational weekends for people who want to know more about how they can use WordPress and get more out of their websites. I’ve traveled to many WordCamps this past year including Nashville and Seattle. I had a great time and my presentation has been well-received.
My topic past year has been Managing your Online Reputation. The topic fits in well with just about any industry. I’ve had a great turn out and all the WordCamps so that’s a positive for me. Here are a few pictures from Waukesha. The organizers should be congratulated for a job well done. This was their first WordCamp and there were over 100 people there. Becca and I made some new friends and learned many new things. We will continue participating in more WordCamps this year to make sure we are involved in the community and learn the latest information to share with our clients.
Here are a few pictures from the event. You can view my presentation and others on http://WordPress.tv
Last month I gave a popular presentation on Facebook for SCORE Peoria. I was interviewed on Peoria’s Good Company television show regarding Facebook.
It’s fun to talk to Mark and Gretchen. They did their homework and asked some good questions. Next year, SCORE had decided to do 2 seminars on Facebook, one for beginners and one a little more advanced. I’ll be presenting both. Keep an eye out for my new Ebook on Facebook coming in 2017.
Sometimes, I hear from clients who just don’t seem to be making any progress with search engine optimization on Google, even in light of the recent algorithm changes that made it easier to for local businesses to come up in search results.
More often than not, my recommendation comes down to one thing: pay more attention to NAPS.
Unfortunately, I’m not advising you to sleep more in the middle of the day for online marketing purposes – although there’s a chance that could help some of us to be a bit less cranky. Instead, I’m talking about Names, Addresses, and Phone Numbers. If these aren’t accurate, consistent, and up-to-date across the web, it could cause problems for you.
To give you a little more insight as to why NAPS can make or break your local marketing, here’s what you need to know…
Google Uses NAPS to Offer Local Options
When Google crawls the web, it isn’t just looking for keywords and links. It’s also categorizing your website by location, using addresses, ZIP Codes, area codes, and even references to landmarks to determine where you are. Then, that data gets used to match you with local buyers in your area who need vendors or products. Given that nearly a quarter of Google’s 2 billion daily search requests are for something local, earning a share of that traffic should be a high priority.
It Helps to Have Several Sources of NAPS Info
Although Google will draw location data primarily from your website, it will also look for corroborating evidence elsewhere online. That’s where local business directories and industry guides (like Yelp, CitySearch, TripAdvisor, and so on) come into play. If all of them agree on your business name, address, and phone number, then Google can display that information prominently because there is a high probability of giving a searcher exactly what they are looking for.
Outdated NAPS Can Cause Problems
Of course, if corroborating data points are a good thing, then missing or conflicting pieces of information are going to hurt your search visibility. After all, if Google can’t be sure who you are, where you operate, or how customers should contact you, then how can they send traffic to your website without frustrating buyers? For that reason, skipping NAPS and leaving entries blank or with the wrong contact info can be a real problem.
It’s easier than you might think to let your contact details get jumbled. When we moved offices this summer, we discovered just how many entries there were for our business online, both in Peoria and beyond. And naturally, we have more time and attention to devote to online marketing the most of our clients do.
But if the thought of managing dozens of profiles sounds overwhelming, I’ve got some good news: our company is now offering a convenient, low-cost service to ensure your business is listed in all relevant directories, and that your entries stay up-to-date. That’s an easy way to boost your local search visibility, and to ensure that customers who are looking for you can find you easily on the web.
The right NAPS can help your online marketing stay fresh and alert, especially for buyers in your area. Why not call us today at 309-699-2849 to see how easy and affordable it is to get started with our directory listing services?
When you send out an email newsletter, does it seem like it’s really going out to a few dozen people instead of the thousands of subscribers you see on your list?
If so, then you probably have a lot of “fakers,” people who don’t bother to unsubscribe from your distribution list, but don’t open your messages, either. Worst of all, the existence of fakers is usually your fault, not theirs.
Usually, you’re encouraging their disinterest simply by being boring. That is, you aren’t relevant or strong enough in your content to attract their attention.
This is a problem that can be fixed, though. Begin by looking at your “opens” for section of subscribers the next time you sent an email newsletter. Then look at those who didn’t bother to read your messages. They all have something in common. Chances are, there are common threads between them, and those commonalities can tell you something about the subscribers you aren’t connecting with.
When you have fakers in your email subscriber list, it’s worse than having no subscribers at all. So take action to turn them back into interested readers today!
Sometimes, when we talk to web design clients about ongoing web maintenance, we can almost see them roll their eyes. It’s as if they’re thinking: “First we have to pay for the website, now you want us to pay to keep it, too?”
That’s certainly one way to look at it — but a better way is that website maintenance is like a very inexpensive form of insurance. Not only is it good for keeping your website up-to-date, but it can also be an absolute lifesaver if something bad ever happens to your shiny new web presence.
Data loss resulting from hacking, hosting problems, and simple employee errors can all kill your website in a matter of seconds. If you find yourself dealing with any of those issues, the first thing you’re going to want is someone who knows your website inside and out, has performed regular backups, and can get it restored within minutes. That’s exactly what you get with ongoing website maintenance.
Your website is a big investment. Doesn’t it make sense to maintain it and get the insurance you need to keep it secure?
Now that Google is emphasizing geography in its search results, and customers are increasingly turning to web directories instead of printed Yellow Pages guides, finding local customers is easier than ever with online marketing. And yet, we occasionally meet with business owners who say they don’t really need local buyers.
So, should you care about them?
Before you answer in your mind, consider two things:
First, local customers are easier to win – making inroads in local SEO is often just a matter of changing a few keyword phrases on your website and adding some inexpensive location pages. Plus, buyers trust you more when you’re in the neighborhood.
And second, customers are easier to keep – because it’s easy to form relationships with local customers, they are more likely to stick with you over time, even if some of your competitors have lower prices. Because local buyers know and like you, they tend to be more loyal.
The bottom line is this: in the era of modern online marketing, even if you don’t need local customers, you should want them. They bring a lot to your business, and you won’t have to change much on your website to earn their business again and again.
Social media sites like LinkedIn can be great for making new connections to decision-makers and companies you’d like to work with. But, just like in high school, there’s no guarantee that the people you want to network with are going to accept you into their circles right away.
Luckily, there is a quick and almost foolproof way to add important contacts on social media.
Here’s how it works: find a few lower-level employees at the company you want to work with. Typically, these are the people who spend the most time on social media, and happen to be the easiest to approach. Make contacts with them, and establish yourself as a friendly person.
After you’ve gathered a handful of these contacts, move up one level. Look for their managers and supervisors, and then make contacts with them. It might take a little bit of work (but not much), and it won’t take long before those of the top of the corporate food chain see that you are connected with many people in the company (when they finally log on) and will be more inclined to accept your request. In fact, they may even add you to their networks first.
There you have it – an easy blueprint for making high-level contacts on social media!