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.
Local search engine optimization – which is the art and science of using Google to find buyers in your neighborhood – is more popular, and more powerful, than ever before. But business owners who haven’t taken advantage of this trend in the past sometimes ask: What makes it so great?
The short answer is that local SEO is like having a large Yellow Pages ad on the internet, but with a few key differences…
Local Search Visibility Doesn’t Require a Yearly Fee – add some geographic keywords to your website once, and you can keep getting customers forever.
Your Website Can Stay Updated – business owners old enough to remember Yellow Pages listings can recall how frustrating it was to deal with a misprint, or outdated contact information.
Customers Can Get More Information Online – print ads were just ads. On the web, though, your customers can see where you’re located, exactly what your business offers, and what other buyers have said about your products and services.
Put these all together, and you have an incredibly powerful and efficient marketing tool that can help you improve your bottom line almost instantly!
If you’ve been on the major social media site today (and who hasn’t?), there’s a pretty good chance that you seen at least half a dozen cat pictures and memes. You probably saw dozens of ads too, but it’s the cats you remember, right? As a proud owner of two cats, Link and Chip, I have to look at the cuteness.
Why is it that cats work better than advertising on social media… and what can marketers learn from the difference?
The short answer is that cats (and babies, puppies, videos of people falling down, etc.) just “work” on social media sites because people log on to them to have fun. They are checking into Facebook and Twitter because they want to be entertained, not be bombarded with marketing.
So if your marketing is going to be effective on social media, you better embrace your lighter side and offer something fun. In fact, you might want to flip the traditional script for advertising and begin with entertainment, and then lead back to your website rather than trying to make an immediate sales pitch.
That’s a hard adjustment for a lot of online advertisers to make, but it’s the only way to make traction on social media. If you don’t believe us, we’ve got the viral cat pictures to prove it.
More often than not, the hardest part about developing a blog post is coming up with the original topic or inspiration. Writer’s block is a real thing, especially when writing is just one of many things you have to do in a day and you’re feeling pressure to come up with something great.
Because I want to help you ensure that you’ll never run out of blog topics again, I’m going to give you a quick two-step process for generating ideas…
First, Choose a Subject
Choosing a general topic for your blog can be easier than you think. Consider taking some inspiration from one of the following:
- Frequently asked questions about your business or industry
- Current concerns that are affecting your customers
- New products, laws, or tax situations
- Fun facts that you’ve learned about your company or business
- Items that would be of interest to someone in your area, or the market in which you operate
These are just a few examples, but the point is to start with something that’s timely and interesting to your target audience. If there is a topic or subject you think your customers would want to know about, start building your post around that.
Then, Create a Sizzling Title
Have you ever been going through a grocery store checkout line and noticed just how spicy the titles on the magazines are? That’s for good reason: they want you to become interested enough to impulse-buy the publication on sale.
You might not be “selling” your blog posts, but you are trying to get readers to “buy” with their attention. So, you should follow the same kinds of tricks. You want your blog posts to sound like fun, easily-readable chunks of ideas. Here are a few idea-starters to get you going:
- 7 Tips for…
- Never Do (fill in the blank) Again!
- What You Really Need to Know About (fill in the blank)
- How To Do (fill in the blank) Better Than Ever Before
You get the idea. Each of these seems like a fun, easy guide to improving your life or business. And best of all? When you come up with a great title, it can help inspire you to write a better blog post. In fact, you might even flip things around and come up with a title first, and fill a post around that.
These two tips are easy to follow, but they can make all the difference when you’re trying to generate weekly blog content. Follow them, and you’ll never run out of inspiration again!
There are a lot of ways to compare different business web designers. You could look at their respective samples and see which ones you like. Or, you could compare fees and see who charges less. You might even sit down to have a consultation with each one to see which web designer has a philosophy that’s closest to your own.
Which of these makes the most sense? I recommend you do all of them, and then follow up by taking a step most potential clients never do: talk to someone else your web designer has worked with.
This person will be able to tell you whether they were treated fairly, what the level of service was like, and how much more (or less) profitable they’ve been as a result of the designer’s work. They’ll tell you what it’s like to deal with the company after you’ve written a deposit check, which is the real test of value.
If you want to know which web designer to use, speak to someone who has been in your shoes and made the choice. They’ll tell you everything you need to know.
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!
Online business directory listings were once a hot topic in the world of internet marketing and search engine optimization. By creating profiles and entering your information, you could earn valuable backlinks that would help you move to the top of Google’s listings for a given search phrase.
Many algorithm adjustments later, those backlinks don’t have SEO value any longer. But you should still be using online business directories. And, you should take the time to ensure your listings are consistent and up to date.
There are two good reasons for this. The first is that customers may actually find you on these websites. Or, they may Google your company’s name and come across one of those listings. Either way, you want them to find the right data.
The other reason is that Google uses multiple sources of information for the purposes of corroboration. So, if the contact phone number you have on each of your listings (as an example) is consistent, then Google is more likely to consider you trustworthy and display that information for customers.
Online business directories might not be as prominent as they once were, but consistent and up-to-date listings can still help you win new customers.
Although I’ve become something of an Illinois expert in the field of online reputation management, I find that lots of business owners, self-employed people, and professionals don’t really understand the term. Is it something you should care about, especially if you don’t spend a lot of time online?
It absolutely is, and I can give you a very simple explanation that shows why. At the heart of things, online reputation management is the sum of what people read and see about you on the internet. That matters because potential customers, referrals, employees, and even vendors are all going to look you up on Google and Facebook before they ever decide to work with you.
If your online reputation is sterling, then they aren’t going to have any doubts or reservations. But if they are surprised by negative reviews or inaccurate details, then it’s going to take away an opportunity that you probably didn’t even know about.
Online reputation management is all about generating positive word-of-mouth online. That’s going to affect your business and career in a big way, whether you’re aware of it or not.
If you want to start a lively discussion among a group of business owners, start talking about internet marketing statistics. Friends and strangers alike will gladly tell you where their pages rank on search engines, how many visitors they are receiving, and the number of email subscribers they’ve been able to gather.
People love these kinds of statistics, and for good reason. They are easy to see and understand. But, they also tend to miss the bigger picture.
Internet marketing isn’t about generating views, getting likes, or even convincing Google to take notice of your website. Instead, it’s about knowing who your best potential customers are, getting them to come to your website, and then turning those visits into new relationships. Everything else that happens along the way is only a step or an indicator. If you get too attached to any of them, you’re bound to lose the forest for the trees.
Almost everyone misses the point of internet marketing, but that’s only because the point is so easy to miss when you’re staring at numbers, charts, and other easy-to-read metrics. Have fun looking at the reports you get from your web analytics package. Don’t forget about your after results, though, and gear your efforts toward achieving them more consistently with each new campaign or activity.