Monthly Archives: September 2015

How anyone can generate PR

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Generating PR as a small business or new entrepreneur can be tough.  Your budget is tight and nobody has heard of you yet, so here are some ways to get the buzz going without bankrupting your business.

Leverage Your Website

For the small business or entrepreneur starting out without a lot of capital, generating positive PR can be a challenge.  One of the easiest ways to get PR is to leverage an asset that you no doubt have, or should have, your website.  Depending on your product or business, your website might be a few pages or hundreds of pages with forums and content of all types.

Simply getting more traffic to your website can generate a ton of PR.  If an influential person sees your site, or someone who loves what you doing tells a media organization, the PR train can leave the station before you know it.  Make sure your content or blog is updated regularly, optimized for SEO so that it can be found via search, and well designed.

A simple website update or redesign, even if it is not much different can also be an event worth celebrating or boasting about to your network and social contacts to try to generate PR.

Go Directly to the Public

Instead of sitting back passively and running a targeted ad campaign or sending blocks of emails to random people, leverage the customers you have to generate your PR.

There are varieties of ways you can do this. You can have your customers be involved in a new contest or venture you are running, simply asking your existing customer base to tell a friend, organizing a referral program or coupon that can save them money if they bring in new customers, or donating to a local charity or event in your community.

This low level, grass roots type of marketing can generate positive, local, targeted PR for your business that will drive new customers and build trust for your brand.

Do Something That No One Else Is

Generating PR on a budget in a large industry can be tough.  Instead of spending a large chunk of your precious capital to hire a firm, think outside the box and utilize your sweat equity and creativity to do something that nobody else is.

Whether it’s putting a video on YouTube, running a crazy contest, giving every other sale to a charity, or something else equally outrageous, uniqueness can sell and get your product or business noticed in the crowded marketplace.  Good PR can’t occur unless the public knows you exist and knows what your brand is, so do anything you can to get it out there and get your brand name on the public’s lips.

Top Marketing Automation Software

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MailChimp

MailChimp is the leading email marketing and auto responding service.  The service is free for all to use when your list is relatively small, and once it grows there are a variety of affordable monthly payment options.  MailChimp allows you to use A/B testing to split your list, email new subscribers a set series of emails automatically and interfaces with a host of different plugins, systems, and content managements systems such as WordPress.  One of the cheapest, easiest to use, and most popular email services, MailChimp is a strong choice to take your email marketing to the next level.

Hootsuite

Social media marketing can be tricky because of the fast-paced nature and changing preferences of users.  A year of building your presence on one website can go to waste when a cool new site comes out of nowhere capturing more of your target demographic.  Automation in the social media space is important so that individuals and companies can manage their social media presence across a host of different sites with different posting requirements and audiences.  Hootsuite is one of many tools that allow just that type of management all from a central hub.

With Hootsuite you can schedule future social media posts, respond quickly to comments from many networks, and get an overall sense of how your brand is doing and what people are saying about it.  Browser extensions for Chrome and Firefox are also available. These extensions allow you to post to your sites without even opening the Hootsuite program.

Infusionsoft

Infusionsoft is one of many all in one automated marketing tools.  The power and range of options of the tool is amazing.  From lead management, to helping close sales, to auto responding in multiple ways for individuals, to organizing all your content and social media in one central place.  This program also helps with the actual processing of the sale.  A fully functional e-commerce storefront and payment-processing network is part of the package.  This payment system can link with popular players like Paypal and Amazon payments.  While on the higher end of the price spectrum, Infusionsoft is recommend by thousands of users and could be the right fit for your business.

Pardot

Busy marketers that have multiple campaigns across a suite of website also desire a place where they can see how they all these are doing in one central place.  Pardot is a software tool that gives you exactly that.  Pardot allows the user to track their conversions, spending, lead generation, and engagement across all their marketing campaigns whether they are advertising, email, social, or otherwise.  This software is specifically for business-to-business relationship management, however, rather than business to customer.  If you have a large, complicated marketing plan or multiple sites that you manage, consider Pardot to organize your marketing life all in one place.

How to Set Goals for Email Marketing Campaigns

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Goals are important for email marketing campaigns because without them it is hard to know what worked, whether it was worth it, and what to change to improve conversions and optimize in the future.  Here are a few great ways to set realistic and effective goals for your email marketing campaigns.

Be realistic relative to the size of your list

If you have a 100 or 200-person list, do not set a goal for a million dollars in sales.  Unless you are selling something that costs thousands of dollars, it is unlikely for you to meet such a lofty goal.  Remember that your conversion rate from this list might be a low as 2% to 5% of the total, so make your goals achievable to avoid discouraging yourself.  Also, realize that the bigger the list, the lower your conversion rate is likely to be.  A larger list means that some of the customers are likely not your ideal, target customer and might never open or be interested in what you are marketing.

Avoid nebulous goals that are hard to measure

If your goal for your email marketing campaign is to increase the presence or market share of your business, that is great.  But how do you measure that?  Is it the number of sales?  The amount of social media engagement?  Likely your real goal is to increase a bit of everything: sales, traffic, social media likes, word of mouth.  A goal this big and difficult to measure can be a bad thing.

If you make more sales, you will assume it is because of campaign but it will be difficult to see a direct relationship since that is not what you are focused on quantifying.  A better approach is to identify what would benefit your business the most and then custom tailor your campaign towards that goal and that goal only.

If you are focusing on social media and not sales, then don’t send them to your sales funnel in the email.  Establish a base line of where you are before the campaign, research what you think you might achieve, and then follow that progress throughout and at the end.  This clarity and precision of data will help you with future campaigns and strategies rather than just giving a slight business bump that could be from anywhere.

Consider A/B testing

A/B testing is a common technique for marketers.  Mostly used in advertising or lead pages, the idea is that two different pages are shown to customers, randomly, to determine which one converts the best.    You can harness this technique for your email campaign as well.

Instead of sending the same email to everyone on your list, you could have one for customers less than a year old and a different one for everyone else.  It is likely that customers that have been on your list for a while have already seen or purchased your previous product, so their email could focus only on your new stuff.

The email to newer customers could have the new product but also allude to the other great offerings you have which can increase engagement and open rates of your emails.  The more information you (hopefully) collected on your customers about their preferences and what they bought will allow you to do all sorts of other A/B testing based on your brand.

Important Digital Marketing Statistics to Know

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Digital marketing is fast paced but rewarding at the same time.  In the matter of a few weeks, a social media site or popular forum can fall out of favor and your customers are now halfway across the internet.  Here are a few surprising statistics about why you should put the effort in to keep up in this digital track meet.

Posts over 1500 words get 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes than shorter posts (source).

For a long time the old adage “content is king” was enough.  But in today’s hyper competitive digital marketing environment, the right type, format, and length of content is more important than ever. While a few sentences about your day at the beach or a picture of your new puppy are entertaining, that won’t hold your audience’s attention for more than a few seconds.  Long, detailed, thoroughly researched content is critical to engaging the reader at a deeper level and getting them to share with their friends. If you spend more time writing better and longer content and less on marketing, it could very well happen that your readers take up the marketing task for you.

60% of millennials rely on social media for their news. (source)

The millennial segment of the population is an ever growing and ever changing beast.  With many companies competing for this segment due to their age, growing incomes, and changing tastes, understanding how and where to market to this group is of the utmost importance for digital marketers. If you have a new product, news about your company, or run a company that is related to news in some way, consider bulking up and analyzing your social media usage to find spots to improve. Most millennials are not watching CNN or reading newspapers, but rather want their news in a short viral format in the palm of their hand.  Find a way into those palms, and the rewards could be substantial.

83% believe that companies should support nonprofit and charity organizations (source)

Beyond being a good corporate citizen or doing what’s right, using the results of philanthropic efforts in marketing can help establish credibility and trust among consumers.  Consumers are getting smarter and more savvy by the day so the chances of them shrugging off advertising or reacting negatively to marketing is higher than ever.

Rather than trying to highlight the benefits or advantages of your product or service, marketing the good you are doing in the community can help generate more followers and likes.  This can snowball because your future traditional marketing efforts and posts will have a further reach and be well received due to the trust you established.

Inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads then traditional outbound marketing (source)

Outbound marketing is slowly going the way of the dinosaur as customers get savvier at hiding from or dodging traditional marketing attempts.  The challenge for the digital marketer now is to go where their customers hang out and spend their time, and establish a presence there.

These efforts might not seem like they directly translate into sales like traditional ads or marketing would, but the effect will be seen slowly over time as your inbound leads pick up.  Having your content in the right places and the right time without shoving it down your customers throat is the way to go in 2015 and beyond.

The best part?  Inbound marketing is usually dramatically more affordable than traditional marketing or sales teams.  This is due to harnessing the sharing and “viral” power of the great content you produce and having your customers tackle some of the marketing effort for free.

How to write a great interoffice email

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Interoffice email is a great communication tool that virtually every modern business relies on to function.  Here are some things to consider making sure your emails are professional and make the most of the unique features of this medium.

Understand the limitations of email

Email is a great medium for communication but it is by no means perfect.  Before sending your email, consider the limits of email and how misunderstandings can happen easily.  Sarcasm, exaggeration, and other advanced language devices do not translate through email as they would during face to face or phone conversation.  It is for this reason it is best to stick to short, simple instructions or questions rather then using complicated language that cloaks your true meaning.  Effective communication is about being clear and straightforward.

Air on the side of formality

While you may be friends or close with a good number of your coworkers, at the end of the day they are just that, co-workers.  They are not your friends, family, or social media followers.  When unsure of what the tone of your email should be, air on the side of formality and professionalism.  Without the assistance of facial queues and body language, an email’s meaning is more about the actual words on the screen then other forms of communication.

Understand company hierarchy

An email to your direct report employees should read much differently than an email to the CEO.  Take the time to tailor your email to your intended recipient to ensure your email gets full consideration and isn’t deleted due to unprofessionalism.  Keep in the mind the higher up an individual is in the organization, the more emails they are likely to receive per day.  Consider short and to the point emails for executives, and if they like your idea or value your input, more emails or a meeting can be arranged.

Wait to write the email if you are emotional

Stressed about a deadline or project?  Just got out of a meeting where you vehemently disagreed with everything that was decided?  Before you jump to your email to rant about your boss to your co-workers or tell someone about how much you hate the new marketing plan, take a deep breath and step back from your computer.  Emailing while in an emotional state of mind often has disastrous results.  A simple 5 or 10-minute delay can help you write a more leveled headed and professional email that will likely be more persuasive in the end.

Email is NOT social media

One word responses, links to viral videos, and other content that is typical of social media is not acceptable for an interoffice email.  Email should be used to communicate work and project instructions or questions, transfer documents such as spreadsheets, or other essential business functions.  Do not slouch on using proper sentences and greetings when writing emails and your co-workers are likely to take what you have to say much more seriously.

Proofread, then proofread again

With the amount of email we send out and consume every day, it can be tempting to avoid proofreading as closely as you should in the interest of speed and efficiency.  This can be a grave mistake, however, as you never know who or where your email will be forwarded to.  If a higher up in the organization is forwarded your mistake-filled email about an important topic, that can reflect poorly or your attention to detail and leadership abilities.