Thursday, October 23, 2014

Online Holiday Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

The holiday season is the busiest selling time for many businesses. If you haven't started, now's the time to plan your holiday marketing campaigns to maximize your seasonal selling success!
Here are a few marketing tips to help you make the most of your online holiday sales:

1. Holiday Season Kick Off

The official holiday season begins right after Thanksgiving. Keep in mind these key shopping dates when planning your marketing campaigns:
  • Black Friday 
  • Small Business Saturday 
  • Cyber Monday 

2. What's the Deal?

Your customers and prospects will be looking for great holiday offers, deals and discounts.  Put some thought into creating the most compelling offer for your target audience.

Try attracting new customers by offering holiday specials on daily deal sites such as Groupon and Amazon Local.  Offer deals that are only redeemable for a short time and extend discounts on high margin products or services.

Email continues to drive traffic and sales. It's consumers' preferable method of contact with brands. Use email to offer holiday coupons to your targeted list of customers and prospects. Treat your customers to specials, free shipping and secret sales tailored just for them.

3. Social-ize

Social campaigns should play a significant role in your holiday marketing. Your customers and prospect will be scanning social networks for gift ideas and the best offers.  It's crucial to create a social posting schedule to ensure that you don't miss a beat. Map out all of your posts for the social networks that are right for your business during the weeks leading up to and through the holiday season.

Remember to balance your promotional posts with useful information. Offer product advice, tips, and include fun stuff like videos and photo contests to keep your audience engaged.

4.  Stay Connected

Don't forget to build your email list! Capture contact information of any new customers and prospects and ask permission to send specials, tips and newsletters, etc. throughout the year so you can drive business beyond the holiday season.

Need help pulling your holiday marketing campaigns together? Contact Jocelyn Murray to set up a complimentary consultation to see how I can help!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Quick Tips for Creating E-Newsletters That Get Read

If you're looking for an affordable communications tool to help you attract new business while keeping in touch with your existing clients, consider an e-newsletter.  A balanced, informative newsletter should support your business' goals, be engaging to the reader, provide useful content and include limited promotions or ads.

Here are some tips to help you create a newsletter that gets read and even shared!

1. Compelling Subject Lines
Give your readers a good reason to open your newsletter. Use the limited space in the subject line effectively by asking a question, stating a key benefit or emphasizing an urgent matter such as a limited time offer.  Avoid using spam trigger words (Free, Discount, etc.), all CAPS and overly promotional phrases.  The best newsletter subject lines grab the reader and get them excited about what's inside.

2. Content Worth Reading
Know your audience and what's relevant and important to them. Useful content is the heart of a strong newsletter. When writing your newsletter, share your expertise in informational articles, offer tips or answer customer questions.  In addition to a feature story, include a message from the CEO, other company leaders or information from relevant departments.  

Update readers with industry news, customer stories or quotes. Coupons, giveaways or contests can work for certain businesses and audiences. Cartoons or jokes can add levity and fun to any type of newsletter.

Your strongest story should take the prime, lead spot in your newsletter.  This top news spot should always be educational, informative and never a commercial.  Overall your newsletter should provide lots of content with little advertising.

3. Simple, Clean Design and Easy-to-Read Layout
If you're newsletter is poorly designed, it's almost a sure thing that readers will be less likely to read it. Brand your newsletter with your logo, consistent colors and meaningful graphics. Consider marrying your newsletter's design with that of your company's web site or landing pages.  Your newsletter should have an original masthead or title that's published in a fixed position in each edition. 

Don't forget to make your newsletter easy to read. Use short paragraphs and sentences, headlines, subheadings and good accent images.  Make use of the white space and avoid too much dense text.

4. Include Ways to Unsubscribe
Most readers expect to find the ability to unsubscribe in the footer of every email.  In accordance with the CAN-SPAM Act (email regulations), your newsletter must include a way for your users to unsubscribe from your list either by sending a reply email or by clicking to an unsubscribe page. Overlook these requirements and risk incurring CAN-SPAM violations and hefty fines for your company.

5. Use an Email Service Provider
For more professional looking emails and better results, use an email service provider (Constant Contact, iContact and Aweber to name a few) for your e-newsletter creation and distribution.  An email service provider will allow you to manage and segment your lists and identify bad email addresses or bounces.  Comprehensive tracking and reports are available in order to evaluate who opened your newsletter and which links were clicked. Social sharing capabilities and higher overall deliverability are just a few more benefits. 

To comply with the CAN-SPAM act's legal requirements, an email service provider will automatically provide your mailing address and an unsubscribe option in every email.

7.  Integrate with Social Media
To expand your readership, your newsletter should always invite readers to connect with your business on social media. Include links to all your social networks in the footer or in a special section of each edition. Also include social sharing buttons at the top of your newsletter so readers can easily post your e-news on their networks. 

8. Test and Measure
Experiment with your e-newsletter. Test variables such as your subject line or whether your audience prefers to read your newsletter on a Wednesday or a Saturday.  Measure which versions have a better open rate in order to improve the effectiveness of your e-newsletter.