Small Business Guide to Chatbots & Facebook Messenger Marketing


06/10/2019
Chatbots are all the business buzz – and for good reason.

They give customers of any-size business critical answers to pressing questions quickly.

They can:

Boost your average order value.
Accelerate the buyers’ journey.
Reduce your customer service costs.

complete article

06/07/2019
A new report finds that a good number of small businesses (29%) are spending somewhere in the sweet spot of  ($750-$2499) monthly to get the data needed for good online advertising results.

WordStreams Online Advertising Landscape in 2019 report also found that only 10% of the respondents had a monthly advertising budget less than the low end plateau for effectiveness of $750 monthly.

complete article

06/05/2019
People have a lot of opinions when it comes to debt and borrowing. At one extreme, some believe that all debt should be avoided and there’s no room for argument on the subject. Others perhaps borrow a little too freely, taking out new financing with little thought about whether doing so will be a benefit or a hindrance in the long term.

complete article

06/03/2019
Cybersecurity remains one of the most challenging issues for small business owners. And the problem leads small business owners to seek out managed service providers to present them with solutions.

But a new report from Continuum says the state of cybersecurity among small businesses in 2019 still needs to improve. The data suggests great opportunities for service providers who offer cyber security as part of their package.

complete article

05/31/2019
It is hard to start a profitable business in a competitive landscape. No doubt, business starts with a primary goal of making profits. Getting these profits from the phase of no client to multiple clients is a period of learning, falling, getting through and finally managing to sustain.

complete article

05/29/2019
Ranking a business website higher enhances its chances of gaining a lead that could ultimately turn into a new business sale. To rank, a website higher needs quite a few steps and does not happen overnight. Let’s figure out the five most common and impactful professional SEO tips that a CEO insists upon.

complete article

05/27/2019
Spreadsheets have long been an important tool for businesses. You can use them for just about anything. This includes budgeting and planning out important marketing campaigns.

No tool seems more synonymous with spreadsheets than Excel. Microsofts tool allows you to easily fill in spaces and create tables. But it also takes advantage of some more advanced features. However, starting from scratch will not give you a productive business.

You may want to take advantage of all that Excel has to offer. But maybe you don’t know exactly how to get started. So templates become a great option. Check out some sources for Excel business templates that can help you in 15 different areas of business operations.

complete article

05/24/2019
As any entrepreneur will tell you, owning a business comes with a lot of demands, pressure and hard work, but it can also be extremely rewarding. Thanks to an impactful conversation with an old friend and fellow business owner several years ago, I realized that I was wasting a lot of money by just having one credit card to pay business expenses.

Multiple credit cards can provide big bonuses.

Credit card companies are fighting a turf war, and they all have enticing offers to get us to sign up with them. My rationale is, why be exclusive to one bank? Why choose only one credit card? Why not enjoy the benefits from multiple banks?

complete article

05/22/2019
Owners of small businesses should consider hiring their children.

A young person whos claimed as a dependent on their parents return can still have $12,000 of wages in 2019 and pay no income tax. The Standard Deduction offsets the wages.

The parents probably provided more than 50 percent of the basic support of the child (housing, food, clothing, medical and transportation expenses). The parents can still claim the exemption for the child, but dependent exemptions are no longer done (allowed). If the child is younger than age 17, the parents do get a Child Tax Credit of $2,000. That credit directly offsets income tax of the parents.

If the business is a sole owner business, a single member LLC or a partnership owned only by the childs parents, there are no payroll taxes for the child or the employer to pay on the wages.

complete article

05/20/2019
As a (new) small business owner myself, I am very much talking from experience with these stay sane tips. You will find that you can never prevent work from piling up but you can lay down some strategies that will help you manage the work.

You need to consider your own state of mind and do what is best for you. Whatever your goal is in a business, your dream will eventually turn into an illusion when you become overwhelmed. There are a few secrets to staying sane by breaking up stress. Here are a few tips to get you started.

complete article

05/17/2019
Owning and operating a small business is challenging in today’s market. And common issues that small business leaders often must handle on their own are the countless HR tasks and responsibilities that take a significant amount of time and energy to properly manage.

The frustration and stress involved with modern HR has resulted in an increase in the use of outsourcing solutions. But one in particular can prove to be valuable to small employers: professional employer organizations (PEO).

complete article

05/15/2019
A Small Business can be identified as a being a privately-owned corporation, partnership, or sole proprietor that have fewer staff and less annual revenue than a regular-sized corporation. The European Union (EU) defines a small business as one with under 50 employees.

Small business or as they are sometimes known, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) contribute 47% of revenue to the U.K. economy. They have a key role in boosting productivity but need support to expand activities and increase their economic impact.

complete article

05/13/2019
Smart companies are not just those that have intelligent leaders. They also have systems, tools and proper planning in place that allow every department or function to run together seamlessly. To become a smart company, you need to integrate smart ideas into every facet of your business. Here are some tips from members of the online small business community.

Manage Your Website Effectively
Your website is one of the most important tools your small business has. To manage it effectively, you need access to the right tools. In this WP Buffs post, Brenda Barron provides a full explanation and walk-through of GoDaddy Pro, so you can see if it may be helpful for your business.

complete article

05/10/2019
SBDC Centers offer free consulting and free or low-cost training. (Find yours here.) Their results speak for themselves: SBDC clients grow sales by an average 18.1%, which is 4.3 times the national average. March 20th is SBDC Day, and to celebrate, we assembled some tips from their experts.

complete article

05/08/2019
Small businesses can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than larger companies because they often do not have sophisticated and comprehensive systems to protect themselves from hackers, viruses, malware and whats called ransomware. And owners who are focused on customers and employees may not ensure that their defenses are up to date.

But there are things small businesses can do to improve cybersecurity.

complete article

05/06/2019
Whether you are an entrepreneur plotting to launch a startup or a CEO strategizing where to put another office, knowing where the next hot city is would be a game changer. Should you expand to Raleigh? Would you attract better talent in Austin or Atlanta? With the new Surge Cities Index, Inc. and innovation policy company Startup Genome crunched the data to score and rank the top 50 metro areas in the U.S. on seven key indicators–from early-stage funding metrics to job creation. Finally, here’s the smartest way to answer the age-old question: Where should you go next?

complete article

05/03/2019
We are creatures of habit. Everything we think, say and do is a result of deep-seated habits etched into our minds through years and years of repitious behavior. Those very same habits either help to propel us forward or to hinder our progress in life. In fact, the state and quality of our lives right now is a direct reflection of our daily habits.

Habits are an undeniably powerful part of life.

complete article

05/01/2019
Big companies often have big perks. That is especially true in the technology Opens a New Window.  space, where free meals, gyms, and even day care are quite common. Even more traditional large companies that do not offer those kinds of benefits still have things that smaller businesses Opens a New Window. do not — there are more opportunities for advancement, more training opportunities, and maybe even the option of transferring to another location.

complete article

04/29/2019
The latest report from Clutch says 39% of small businesses will add sales and marketing employees.

This data point underscores the importance of sales and marketing in today’s digital commerce. You must optimize websites, social media channels and eCommerce sites to make it happen. And you need sales and marketing employees to do  the heavy lifting.

Some small businesses have already created a digital presence. And the job of sales and marketing generally goes to in-house staff. This job often goes to employees with the necessary skill sets or to someone learning on the job. But remember how important these positions figure in the company’s growth.

complete article

04/26/2019
Billing your customers is, of course, vital — but even more critical is getting paid for those bills. Thanks to the ongoing evolution in the payments industry, there are more payment tools and platforms to choose from to help find the perfect option for your business based on how many payments you receive, the type of business you have and your budget.

complete article

04/24/2019
Ever wonder how people get chosen to speak at TED? Well, it is curator Chris Andersons job to weed through the thousands upon thousands of possibilities and choose who will appear on the events prestigious main stage. Clearly, the guy is amazing at separating the wheat from the intellectual chaff.

Which is why TED fans (or anyone looking to make themselves smarter and more aware in easily digestible 20-minute chunks) should pay attention to Andersons picks for the 10 best TED talks of 2018. Touching on topics ranging from astronomy to social justice to artificial intelligence, they are guaranteed to change how you think about the world.  

complete article

04/22/2019
Switching careers can feel intimidating, but you have got to make some moves if you’re spinning your wheels at your current job. Tech industry jobs are hot right now, and you can make great money once you’ve got the know-how to compete with other tech candidates. Here’s a breakdown of the fields with the best opportunities.

complete article

04/19/2019
What is the best retirement plan for a self-employed person? Which is the best retirement plan for a small business owner? More importantly, which is the right retirement plan for you – as a business owner and / or a self-employed individual? Choosing the best retirement plan for you and your personal financial goals will depend on a few factors. Those include how much you can save into a retirement plan, whether or not you have employees and when you are setting up the retirement plan. Is it during the tax year or when filing taxes? To name a few.

complete article

04/17/2019
Here are 15 examples of great integrated marketing campaigns that work by combining content, digital and website marketing, with traditional marketing methods like PR.

complete article

04/15/2019
Here are three popular things that are actually not mandatory for all small businesses:

1. Aggressive Marketing

It is easy to go overboard with marketing. With so many tools available, your gut instinct is to try anything with the slightest potential. Even if you stand to lose money, you want the assurance of knowing you are doing everything you can to gain the interest of your target audience. And it is difficult to ignore a marketing tool that has worked marvelously for other small businesses. If they had to do it all over again, these businesses would likely spend 10% of their time developing their products or services and 90% marketing them.

complete article

04/12/2019
So what sets those who actually take the plunge from those who only dream? What pushes a keen hobbyist or excellent amateur into actually becoming a business owner? A recent study of more than 400,000 people out of MIT came to decisive answer, and it is not the one you are probably expecting.

complete article

04/10/2019
Many successful entrepreneurs were inspired to start their businesses after noticing a hole in the marketplace that needed to be filled, whether it was Bill Gates creating an operating system for home computers, Pierre Omidyar starting an online auction site, or Elon Musk building a reliable electric car.

But what happens when you want to jump feet first into a marketplace thats already crowded? We spoke to the entrepreneurs behind a wide-ranging group of successful companies in some of the most competitive digital spaces — from butchers to home brands to eco-friendly cleaning products — to get their insights into what makes a business that lasts.

complete article

04/08/2019
Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting their own business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being one they can run out of their own home. The good news: Starting a home-based business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard, as are a plethora of other low-cost ideas.

complete article

04/06/2019
Now, I do not want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense, because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful.

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Mil

complete article

04/04/2019
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) included a bevy of changes that will affect the 2018 federal income tax returns of many small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. As tax return time approaches, here are the 10 changes that are most likely to affect your business or you as an owner.

1. New flat 21% tax rate for corporations
Before the TCJA, C corporations paid graduated federal income tax rates of 15%, 25%, 34%, and 35%. Personal service corporations (PSCs) paid a flat 35% rate. For tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond, the TCJA establishes a flat 21% corporate rate, and that beneficial rate applies to PSCs too. So the tax cost of doing business as a profitable C corporation is greatly reduced, and this favorable development will show up on 2018 corporate returns. Enjoy.

complete article

04/02/2018
When done correctly, a tagline can become synonymous with a brand. A good tagline should communicate your companys message quickly and effectively, helping your target customers understand how you can help them in a way that’s easy to remember.

Since it is something that will likely appear in all of your companys marketing materials and may stick with you for years, your team should put a lot of care and consideration into crafting your tagline.

complete article

03/29/2019
A business plan is a written description of your business future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have written a plan, or at least the germ of one.

Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities.

complete article

03/27/2019
Very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background. Here are four tips to ensure your small business is achieving profitable growth.

Most small business owners start their own business because they have a passion for something, a new idea, want to be their own boss or are seeking more financial stability and/or earning potential. However, very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background.

complete article

03/25/2019
The standards for small business success have unquestionably gone up. Todays small businesses must do a lot more to stay competitive than their predecessors. Myriad businesses, however, take this notion a bit too far. Once they discover yet another resource or strategy with the potential to elevate their success, they jump all over it. This is partially due to the many online articles urging business leaders to devote more effort to virtually every element of their businesses.

complete article

03/22/2019
Many small businesses start out with a single location or product offering and grow over time. Expanding your business is a good way to increase your long-term profitability and reach a wider audience.

But while growing your venture might be something you’d like to do eventually, now might not be the ideal time to dive in. Here are four reasons you might choose not to grow your business, and instead stick with the status quo.

complete article

Small Business Content Marketing Tips

by Janet Attard

Last Updated: Apr 29, 2019
Content marketing is one marketing tool that can help new customers find your business and establish the value of your product or service at the same time. Here’s how you can put content marketing to work for your business.

content marketing
Image source: Depositphoto.com

Most people think of content marketing as a promotional activity that’s relatively new, but other than the name “content marketing” there’s nothing new about it. In fact, savvy marketers were promoting themselves by distributing content on the early commercial online services years before the Internet as we know it today existed.

Content marketing has long been used in print, too. Attorneys and other professionals who didn’t advertise promoted themselves by writing articles that appeared in professional journals. The articles included brief blurbs describing the author’s credentials and company name.

And then, too, there have always been those recipes that food companies give away at supermarkets or embed in popular ladies magazines to help sell gelatin, cocoa, and other food products.

In fact, the only “new” thing about content marketing–other than someone giving it a nameis that it has become an industryan industry that’s predicted to $217 billion dollars by 2021. The reason? The Internet has made it easy to research the pros and cons of every purchase and every vendor before talking to a salesperson or consultant or stepping foot in a store.

Why Content Marketing Is Important for Small Business 

Content marketing is important because it’s how customers today learn about and choose products and services to buy. The right content can get your product or service noticed and keeps it on the prospect’s radar as they move through the buying cycle from product discovery to final choice. Even if your business gets most of its customers from personal contacts, referrals, and recommendations, the people who may want to do business with you are going to go online to learn more about you and what you sell before they make a commitment to buy from you.

RELATED: Top Content Marketing Mistakes

Today, customers go online to figure out what kind of product or service will solve a problem or fill a need, then they search for information to help them determine which features they want. They look for answers to questions like “How much memory do I need in a computer that will be used to play Minecraft and other games?” “Is granite or quartz better for kitchen counters?” “How much does it cost to build a small business website?” “Where to buy bulletproof glass?” “How to choose a landscaper in San Francisco?”

If you have content on your website that provides factual answers to common questions asked by your target market, you’ll help establish yourself as an expert and therefore a potential vendor. (All those personal contacts you make at networking events and tradeshows are likely to look around your website for information before they consider calling you or coming into your shop.) Your content may also get found by search engines and show up high in search results, bringing you potential customers you would never have gotten on your own.

Once a consumer or business buyer knows what features they want in a product, they compare the benefits of one brand to another and one vendor to another. They check out social media comments, reviews, pricing, and anything that will help them make the best choice. They do all their research and pretty much make up their mind about which product they want and which company they want to buy from before they speak with any salesperson – even when they are making major purchases.

What Kind of Content Should Your Business Produce and Distribute?

To reap the most benefits from content marketing, plan on developing content related to each phase of the buying cycle. Start by putting yourself in the customer’s shoes. What do they want to know and what might they search for when they first realize they have a problem or need, but aren’t yet aware of products or services that will address their needs? What kinds of questions do they ask? What are their main concerns? Once they’ve figured out what type of product or service they need, what else do they ask? What to they compare? What are their chief considerations?

RELATED: How to Generate Content Ideas

You can write articles or blog posts that address each of their questions. For example, if you sell driveway resurfacing services, you might have an article on whether it is better to repair or replace your driveway and others about the benefits and pitfalls of tar, concrete, pebbles, bricks, and pavers for the driveway surface. To show your expertise and help feed the information cravings of people who are ready to buy, you might have articles or blog posts talking about and showing the steps involved in surfacing a driveway. Before and after photos (photos are content, too!) and testimonials from happy customers would be additional content that can help nail the sale, without “selling.”

Getting Your Content Consumed

Content marketing uses information to sell instead of high-pressure sales pitches. But all the content (information) in the world won’t do you much good if it doesn’t get found! To get the content found, you have to promote it. Here are 10 ways to promote your content.

RELATED: 16 Content Marketing Myths

  1. Have an email signup page or other call to action requiring people to give you contact information on every page of your website.
  2. Make sure your business card has a link to your website and also includes a link to sign up for a newsletter or mailing list. (If you can’t fit the link for the newsletter signup on the front of your business card, put it on the back.)
  3. Send out a newsletter or other mailing at least monthly pointing people to information on your website, special offers, photos of what you sell, or other information that will be of interest to your readers. (Photos, videos, coupons, infographics, and even audio clips are all “content”, too, provided they contain something your readers want to know or have.)
  4. Include a forward to a friend button in all your newsletters and mailings.
  5. Post a short summary or teaser of your content on your social media pages and link to your website for readers to read the full document. 
  6. Create a lead magnet such as a helpful checklist or other informational guide and use it to acquire prospects’ contact information. When they fill out a form to request the free information, add their contact name to your mailing list or an autoresponder so you can follow up and send them additional information and calls to action.
  7. Buy ads on search engines and social media sites to point to your content. But test your ads and watch the costs vs ROI. Online ads work well if you are selling high-ticket items or if you are selling products or services that customers buy on a continuing basis. If you have one $29.95 item to sell and customers typically buy one of them, and don’t need to repurchase, then online advertising may be too costly.
  8. Create a printed flyer (something you can print on your own printer will work) to hand out at local networking events promoting and pointing to your content on your website.
  9. Offer to be a speaker at local and industry groups – and have a giveaway containing your content (an ebook or white paper, or special offer for attendees only) that people can request by giving you their contact information.
  10. Create a press release that summarizes some of your content and includes a link to download the complete report. Distribute that to the media and also to bloggers and websites that talk about your industry. Post the press release on your own website, too, and then post links to the release in social media.

Content marketing isn’t a substitute for other marketing. But if you create good content and focus on getting it found, it can be an invaluable aid in winning new customers and building sales.

© 2019 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter and on LinkedIn

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39% of Small Business Hires This Year Will Be Sales and Marketing Staff


05/13/2019
Smart companies are not just those that have intelligent leaders. They also have systems, tools and proper planning in place that allow every department or function to run together seamlessly. To become a smart company, you need to integrate smart ideas into every facet of your business. Here are some tips from members of the online small business community.

Manage Your Website Effectively
Your website is one of the most important tools your small business has. To manage it effectively, you need access to the right tools. In this WP Buffs post, Brenda Barron provides a full explanation and walk-through of GoDaddy Pro, so you can see if it may be helpful for your business.

complete article

05/10/2019
SBDC Centers offer free consulting and free or low-cost training. (Find yours here.) Their results speak for themselves: SBDC clients grow sales by an average 18.1%, which is 4.3 times the national average. March 20th is SBDC Day, and to celebrate, we assembled some tips from their experts.

complete article

05/08/2019
Small businesses can be more vulnerable to cyberattacks than larger companies because they often do not have sophisticated and comprehensive systems to protect themselves from hackers, viruses, malware and whats called ransomware. And owners who are focused on customers and employees may not ensure that their defenses are up to date.

But there are things small businesses can do to improve cybersecurity.

complete article

05/06/2019
Whether you are an entrepreneur plotting to launch a startup or a CEO strategizing where to put another office, knowing where the next hot city is would be a game changer. Should you expand to Raleigh? Would you attract better talent in Austin or Atlanta? With the new Surge Cities Index, Inc. and innovation policy company Startup Genome crunched the data to score and rank the top 50 metro areas in the U.S. on seven key indicators–from early-stage funding metrics to job creation. Finally, here’s the smartest way to answer the age-old question: Where should you go next?

complete article

05/03/2019
We are creatures of habit. Everything we think, say and do is a result of deep-seated habits etched into our minds through years and years of repitious behavior. Those very same habits either help to propel us forward or to hinder our progress in life. In fact, the state and quality of our lives right now is a direct reflection of our daily habits.

Habits are an undeniably powerful part of life.

complete article

05/01/2019
Big companies often have big perks. That is especially true in the technology Opens a New Window.  space, where free meals, gyms, and even day care are quite common. Even more traditional large companies that do not offer those kinds of benefits still have things that smaller businesses Opens a New Window. do not — there are more opportunities for advancement, more training opportunities, and maybe even the option of transferring to another location.

complete article

04/29/2019
The latest report from Clutch says 39% of small businesses will add sales and marketing employees.

This data point underscores the importance of sales and marketing in today’s digital commerce. You must optimize websites, social media channels and eCommerce sites to make it happen. And you need sales and marketing employees to do  the heavy lifting.

Some small businesses have already created a digital presence. And the job of sales and marketing generally goes to in-house staff. This job often goes to employees with the necessary skill sets or to someone learning on the job. But remember how important these positions figure in the company’s growth.

complete article

04/26/2019
Billing your customers is, of course, vital — but even more critical is getting paid for those bills. Thanks to the ongoing evolution in the payments industry, there are more payment tools and platforms to choose from to help find the perfect option for your business based on how many payments you receive, the type of business you have and your budget.

complete article

04/24/2019
Ever wonder how people get chosen to speak at TED? Well, it is curator Chris Andersons job to weed through the thousands upon thousands of possibilities and choose who will appear on the events prestigious main stage. Clearly, the guy is amazing at separating the wheat from the intellectual chaff.

Which is why TED fans (or anyone looking to make themselves smarter and more aware in easily digestible 20-minute chunks) should pay attention to Andersons picks for the 10 best TED talks of 2018. Touching on topics ranging from astronomy to social justice to artificial intelligence, they are guaranteed to change how you think about the world.  

complete article

04/22/2019
Switching careers can feel intimidating, but you have got to make some moves if you’re spinning your wheels at your current job. Tech industry jobs are hot right now, and you can make great money once you’ve got the know-how to compete with other tech candidates. Here’s a breakdown of the fields with the best opportunities.

complete article

04/19/2019
What is the best retirement plan for a self-employed person? Which is the best retirement plan for a small business owner? More importantly, which is the right retirement plan for you – as a business owner and / or a self-employed individual? Choosing the best retirement plan for you and your personal financial goals will depend on a few factors. Those include how much you can save into a retirement plan, whether or not you have employees and when you are setting up the retirement plan. Is it during the tax year or when filing taxes? To name a few.

complete article

04/17/2019
Here are 15 examples of great integrated marketing campaigns that work by combining content, digital and website marketing, with traditional marketing methods like PR.

complete article

04/15/2019
Here are three popular things that are actually not mandatory for all small businesses:

1. Aggressive Marketing

It is easy to go overboard with marketing. With so many tools available, your gut instinct is to try anything with the slightest potential. Even if you stand to lose money, you want the assurance of knowing you are doing everything you can to gain the interest of your target audience. And it is difficult to ignore a marketing tool that has worked marvelously for other small businesses. If they had to do it all over again, these businesses would likely spend 10% of their time developing their products or services and 90% marketing them.

complete article

04/12/2019
So what sets those who actually take the plunge from those who only dream? What pushes a keen hobbyist or excellent amateur into actually becoming a business owner? A recent study of more than 400,000 people out of MIT came to decisive answer, and it is not the one you are probably expecting.

complete article

04/10/2019
Many successful entrepreneurs were inspired to start their businesses after noticing a hole in the marketplace that needed to be filled, whether it was Bill Gates creating an operating system for home computers, Pierre Omidyar starting an online auction site, or Elon Musk building a reliable electric car.

But what happens when you want to jump feet first into a marketplace thats already crowded? We spoke to the entrepreneurs behind a wide-ranging group of successful companies in some of the most competitive digital spaces — from butchers to home brands to eco-friendly cleaning products — to get their insights into what makes a business that lasts.

complete article

04/08/2019
Today, tens of thousands of people are considering starting their own business, and for good reasons. On average, people can expect to have two and three careers during their work life. Those leaving one career often think about their second or third career move being one they can run out of their own home. The good news: Starting a home-based business is within the reach of almost anyone who wants to take a risk and work hard, as are a plethora of other low-cost ideas.

complete article

04/06/2019
Now, I do not want to burst any happy bubbles for those of you who are already treading the traditional pathway, but that traditional narrative no longer makes much sense, because over the past two decades, big corporations, big academia, and big corporatist government have rigged the business world so that the longer you wait to start your own company, the less likely you are to be successful.

Because of this, young entrepreneurs (Mil

complete article

04/04/2019
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) included a bevy of changes that will affect the 2018 federal income tax returns of many small and medium-sized businesses and their owners. As tax return time approaches, here are the 10 changes that are most likely to affect your business or you as an owner.

1. New flat 21% tax rate for corporations
Before the TCJA, C corporations paid graduated federal income tax rates of 15%, 25%, 34%, and 35%. Personal service corporations (PSCs) paid a flat 35% rate. For tax years beginning in 2018 and beyond, the TCJA establishes a flat 21% corporate rate, and that beneficial rate applies to PSCs too. So the tax cost of doing business as a profitable C corporation is greatly reduced, and this favorable development will show up on 2018 corporate returns. Enjoy.

complete article

04/02/2018
When done correctly, a tagline can become synonymous with a brand. A good tagline should communicate your companys message quickly and effectively, helping your target customers understand how you can help them in a way that’s easy to remember.

Since it is something that will likely appear in all of your companys marketing materials and may stick with you for years, your team should put a lot of care and consideration into crafting your tagline.

complete article

03/29/2019
A business plan is a written description of your business future, a document that tells what you plan to do and how you plan to do it. If you jot down a paragraph on the back of an envelope describing your business strategy, you have written a plan, or at least the germ of one.

Business plans are inherently strategic. You start here, today, with certain resources and abilities.

complete article

03/27/2019
Very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background. Here are four tips to ensure your small business is achieving profitable growth.

Most small business owners start their own business because they have a passion for something, a new idea, want to be their own boss or are seeking more financial stability and/or earning potential. However, very few entrepreneurs have an accounting or finance background.

complete article

03/25/2019
The standards for small business success have unquestionably gone up. Todays small businesses must do a lot more to stay competitive than their predecessors. Myriad businesses, however, take this notion a bit too far. Once they discover yet another resource or strategy with the potential to elevate their success, they jump all over it. This is partially due to the many online articles urging business leaders to devote more effort to virtually every element of their businesses.

complete article

03/22/2019
Many small businesses start out with a single location or product offering and grow over time. Expanding your business is a good way to increase your long-term profitability and reach a wider audience.

But while growing your venture might be something you’d like to do eventually, now might not be the ideal time to dive in. Here are four reasons you might choose not to grow your business, and instead stick with the status quo.

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03/20/2019
Get out your pink paint. Or your coral, or yellow or teal. By the time you finish reading this column, you’re going to be painting one wall of your small business a color that will pop on Instagram.

Why? Because Instagram is today’s powerhouse social media site for consumer businesses. And if you give customers an inviting way to post to Instagram, they’ll advertise your business for free.

A few years ago, if you wanted to reach retail consumers, the social media site of choice was Facebook. While it may still work for reaching certain demographics, many consumers – especially female Millennials – love Instagram.

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03/18/2019
A new report is saying that almost half of people recently hired (41%) used an online job board to find work and 61% flagged automatic job alerts as helpful. What is more, a full 14% found their present job using social media. The findings from How Do People Find Jobs? published by the B2B research firm, Clutch, highlights how today’s candidates are connecting with small businesses and vice versa.

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03/15/2019
How did life lead you to entrepreneurship?

I have been in the technology industry for 25 years. I am a business-facing technologist, which basically means I have a background in finance and business. However, I stumbled into being a software engineer early on in my career. This resulted in a passion for data and solution creativity.After hitting the 20-year mark of working for enterprise-size organizations, I decided I needed a change. I experienced some life-threatening health challenges–all while taking care of my two sons with their own unique needs. A culmination of it all really made me stop and reflect on what I really wanted to do on a daily basis and the people I do it with.

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03/13/2019
Step 1: Set meaningful goals.
People do nott achieve goals unless the goals are meaningful to them. Sure, every seller has a quota for this year, but so what? If you want to maximize your motivation to achieve the goals, you must know why achieving it is important to you. To do that, go beyond your one-year quota-focused goal.

complete article

03/11/2019
Are you making big changes to your small business?

Whether you’re entering a new market, eliminating services that your clients love but no longer work for you, or changing the structure of your business entirely, follow these three tips to shake up your small business without losing revenue or hurting your reputation.

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03/08/2019
Most working class Americans are employed by companies that either require or offer retirement savings options in the form of a 401(k), 403b), or pension plan. Because these contributions are automatically deducted from the employee’s paycheck, saving for retirement tends to be a rather painless process. Over time, the cumulative effect of regular monthly contributions leads to a nice sized nest egg that can be used in the retirement years.

But for entrepreneurs, the story is a little different. With no steady paycheck or employer-sponsored plans, many of these hardworking individuals forgo retirement contributions.  And though it may not seem like a big deal in the early years, this misstep can prove to be dangerous and irresponsible as entrepreneurs age.

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03/06/2019
Crowdfunding has become a viable form for funding a venture, project, cause, event and much more. For small businesses looking to bypass traditional sources of financing such as bank loans, angel investing or venture capital, it is now a great option.

If you have been thinking about starting a campaign, it is important to note there are different types of crowdfunding. And this does not mean the platform or portal such as Kickstarter, Indiegogo and others.

The confusion stems from clumping crowdfunding under one umbrella, when in reality there are different types or models. Depending on your project, choosing the right model for your small business is critically important to ensure the success of your campaign.

complete article

03/04/2019
Being a leader can be a difficult, and sometimes thankless, job. You work long hours, make tough decisions, and try your best to make your employees and your customers happy. But things don’t always work out the way you hope.

Every leader can use a bit of inspiration and humor every once in a while. Adding some fun to your day can make it all come together and, at the same time, perhaps even put a smile on your face.

The next time you feel down, here are 17 funny leadership quotes to perk you up.

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03/01/2019
Procrastination is an odd compulsion. Everyone has experienced it, but the underlying reasons can be tough to pin down.

After all, procrastination delays the very activities that bring people closer to their goals — whether that is building a thriving business or stronger triceps. So why do not humans just sprint toward that brighter, fitter future?

The science.
Scientific studies of procrastination have spiked over the past 20 years. Researchers once considered the issue a basic time-management problem, but they now view it as a complex and highly individual phenomena.  

complete article

02/27/2019
Not every step you take to move your business forward will be a big one. But sometimes, even small steps can make a large impact on your future. Here are some recent tips and insights from members of the online small business community about big and small steps you can take to really make an impact on your business.

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02/25/2019
Like departments and agencies throughout government, the Air Force is tuning its acquisition methods to get closer the speed of technology, and will be holding its first live pitch day in March, with an available funding pool of $40 million.

The Air Forces Small Business Innovation Research program has issued a call to start-ups and small businesses—those with fewer than 500 employees—to offer pitches on innovative technologies for secure communications, down-range battlefield operations and digital technologies.

complete article

02/22/2019
I am pleased to bring you my top five tricks for disconnecting – and at least temporarily escaping the job stress.

1. Make the business case.

Taking time to recharge is not just good for your mental and physical health — it is the smart thing to do for your business. Studies have shown that increased stress leads to reduced productivity, while decreased stress levels lead to increased productivity.

complete article

You’ll Love These 5 Social Media Video Marketing Tools

Feeling overwhelmed with the many social media video marketing tools? You won’t be for long. I’ve found five of the best DIY Marketing tools you can use to create marketing videos on social media.  Check them out.

Five Tools To Simplify Your DIY Social Media Video Marketing Strategy

It’s certainly not boring to be a social media marketer in 2019. Platforms keep changing and evolving as a million new ‘helpful’ video creation tools and apps appear and disappear. Meanwhile, customers are savvier and more demanding than ever about what they expect from the brands they follow and how these brands conduct themselves on social media.

Ultimately, you are responsible for putting out professional videos. For example, Facebook live videos, explainer videos, Twitter video, and so much more. You would need an entire team to create all of the user-friendly, online videos your customers want to see.  And for that, you’re going to need simple drag and drop video editors or tools that create an animated video from static images or video clips.

A recent survey of more than 600 marketers found that more than 87% are using video as a key marketing tool, up from 63% less than two years ago. Meanwhile, up to 90% of customers say video helps them make buying decisions and at least one digital marketing expert arguing that one minute of video content has the same impact as 1.8 million words!

90% of customers say video helps them make buying decisions and at least one digital marketing expert arguing that one minute of video content has the same impact as 1.8 million words!

It may sound overwhelming trying to take all this on, but life as a do-it-yourself video marketer on social media doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself! So here are five tools that will definitely help make your life across your core platforms just that little bit easier, and take your online presence from good to great in the process.

1. Loomly is a Simple Social Media Scheduling Tool

 

social media video marketing

A hundred little post-it notes. Tabs upon tabs of spreadsheets. Calendar reminders that clog up your phone. Does any of this sound like a familiar process for those of you trying to get a handle on their social content calendar? The good news is there is another way! Enter Loomly.

Now on its third iteration, Loomly has had plenty of time to refine its streamlined calendar interface to help you wrangle all your social content ideas and timeline into one spot.  Loomly also gives you post ideas and optimization tools, management of your media library and more. They count BMW and L’Oreal Paris among their user base, so if you do decide to give it a whirl, you are in good company!

2. Mixkit and Pexels Offer FREE Video Footage

 

free video clips for video marketing

While access to millions of high quality, free stock photos has been the reality for a while now (we see you Unsplash), the same thing has not been true for stock video. But in 2019, you can now go to places like Mixkit and Pexels and download hours upon hours of high definition footage for free. Everything from animation to nature shots, inspiring city views through to drool-worthy coffee and food shots…it’s all there, just a click of a button away.

Having compelling visuals is one of the most obvious – and most challenging aspects of creating an eye-catching social media video, and finding that footage no longer has to break the bank. Once you’ve downloaded as much free HD video content as your hard drive can handle, make sure you check out this handy little video resize tool from Kapwing. Whether it’s for your Twitter or Facebook feed, Instagram TV or story, Kapwing has you and your precious moving pixels covered.

3. Placeit Video Maker Makes You an Instagram Story Posting Pro

Paceit video clips for social media

So you’ve planned out your social content and got your video assets ready to go…but now you need to go and actually make it. If you’re a DIY marketer, the chances are you don’t have readily available access to a videographer and full video editing suite. This is where the Placeit Video Maker really shines, providing a browser-based video maker that requires no technical skills and can bridge the gap between your video editing skills and your tight marketing budget. Whether it’s an Instagram story or a slideshow display, simply choose from the thousands of templates, customize with your choice of fonts, colors, images, and transitions……and just like that, you will have created a high-quality, on-trend video. It even lets you import your own images and videos and add a-rockin’ soundtrack, so you can personalize your creation to your heart’s content.

4. Later Helps You Plan and Schedule Instagram Posts

Later for instagram video marketing

You’ve got your video made, now you need to get it out into the world. Many social media users will be familiar with Later as one of the better social media scheduling tools available to do just that…and then the Later team went and made plenty of social media manager dreams come true by adding video scheduling to their platform earlier this year. What is even better is that your scheduled videos now auto-publish – that means no more waiting for a notification that directs you to press publish yourself. If you’re managing social media for a business that spans multiple time zones, this could be just the thing to get your sleep cycle back on track.

5. Hashtag Calendar Keeps Your Social Media Posts Current

hashtag calendar social media video marketng

It’s not enough to have great content on social media, you still need people to find it. Enter the Hashtag Calendar, a beautifully designed and free resource for suggesting trending and timely hashtags on your Instagram posts. From trending topics to relevant holidays, you’ll never be stuck for inspiration again. Or if you’re always on the go, check out Hashtag Key for mobile, which gives you the power of curated tags across all the major social networks in a cleverly-executed smartphone keyboard.

Bottom Line — Just Do It

It can be daunting to start using social media video marketing.  If video hasn’t been a part of your social media strategy, you might be apprehensive about it.  That’s normal.  Don’t let it get in the way of starting.

These social media video marketing tools are an easy way to get started posting great looking videos in your social media.

Author Details
David Scott
David is the PR & Communications Manager for Envato, the company behind one of the worlds largest communities for digital creatives. A former journalist, David has more than a decade of experience working with large organizations, small companies and freelancers to help tell their stories to the world

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David Scott
David is the PR & Communications Manager for Envato, the company behind one of the worlds largest communities for digital creatives. A former journalist, David has more than a decade of experience working with large organizations, small companies and freelancers to help tell their stories to the world
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  • social media video marketing

How to Choose a Co-Marketing Partner: Experts Offer Tips

A co-marketing partnership stands on two things: human communication and concrete results.

The question is when evaluating a potential partner, should you rely more on their website traffic stats and size of their email list or see how the whole relationship evolves? We have interviewed two experts responsible for building connections for strategic and tactical marketing needs and found out the key points and practical secrets of partnership management. Learn about true stories inside from Amanda Nielsen, Strategic and Co-Marketing Partnerships Manager at New Breed and Gaetano Nino DiNardi, Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva.

Amanda Nielsen

Amanda Nielsen
Strategic and Co-Marketing Partnerships Manager at New Breed

What are you looking for in a potential co-marketing partner?

We definitely want to choose a partner whose goals align with ours and a relationship that we think will constantly provide mutual value. It could be exchanging backlinks, co-creating content or reselling products/services. A partner should be on a similar trajectory of growth. For example, at New Breed, we work with software companies at the expansion stage, i.e., companies of between 20 and 2,000 people; not startups, and we are not going to make an exception here. A startup can have a shift in their strategy, company size, and services, while we need to think about the long-term benefits of a partnership.

We also want to make sure we have a similar customer base, target audience, company size, and industry where we sell our services. We market to marketers, so we like to collaborate with software companies that also speak to marketers. These synergies help a lot, making a successful partnership.

What parameters do you pay attention to?

Some of the key parameters that we look at are traffic volume, backlink metrics, domain authority, and keyword gap. SEO metrics are important for figuring out whether the partnership will be technically beneficial, while traffic can highlight the domains that are consistently linking to our website and that we could reach out to and suggest a collaboration.

What tools do you use to analyze a potential partner?

We have a mix of two different methods:

  • First, if we are not super familiar with the company, we use our data tools to find public information on them.

  • Then, we just talk to the person responsible for strategic partnerships in the potential partner’s company, because that’s where you get most of the insights. You can figure out a lot about a business by analyzing their website, but speaking to someone who represents the company will be the best way to confirm all these things and really hash out all of the smallest details.

How do you define whether your and your potential partner’s audiences match?

You don’t have to serve the exact same customer base. As long as there are key commonalities, there will be enough value to see a return on your investment. For example, we are in partnership with HubSpot. They work with all company sizes, from startup to scaleup to enterprise. Although we don’t service the scaleup and enterprise sectors, HubSpot still has a very, very big new market for us, so we derive value from this relationship.

How can one know that their company is pursuing the same goals as a potential partner?

  • The best way to know it is by just being straightforward and setting clear expectations at the initial meetings. At New Breed, we define our partnership criteria and ask for everything we need to know about the company before we engage in any type of contractual relationship.

  • We like doing account mapping to find customers we have in common, as it’s a really good starting point to identify the best-use cases for a common issue. Then, if there is no opportunity to upsell to the same clients or use this prospect as a case study, we can bundle our product in theirs.

  • What definitely works is looking at each other’s website traffic and being honest about benchmarks for each company. Like, here are the visits, this is how they are growing, and these are our expectations.

  • Setting clear goals is a good way to hold both sides accountable. For example, I hold monthly webinars with different partners, and we work together to drive registrants. What I have done is create a little benchmark report based on the past 12 to 14 months of data, with average numbers of registrants and attendees. This allows me to establish clear goals for each partner and actually achieve results. Just saying “drive as much money as you can” wouldn’t sound as concrete and, subsequently, not as motivational.

Let’s say you have two brands you could collaborate with… 

One of them has a similar target audience, and there has been some buzz around them recently. Another one doesn’t enjoy as much hype but targets a different audience, which could be beneficial to you as well. Which one will you choose and why?

I would say, you can choose both. With someone who has a similar target audience and is kind of popular the value will be very obvious, and it is less of a risk. You could definitely collaborate with them at a higher involvement capacity. A reseller, co-seller or referral partnership would probably pay off.

However, if you are trying to build up your authority with a new audience, you can think of a partnership with this less-famous company who has already reached your target group. With them, you could take a baby step because it is a slightly higher risk — the ROI is probably going to come much later because it is not exactly where you are right now, and you are not 100% sure whether the relationship is going to benefit you.

So, in this case, I would be very straightforward with them and set expectations with something small, like a co-marketing relationship. This is a nice jumping-off point that I like to use for all of our partners who we aren’t really ready to have a referral or co-selling relationship with, but we still like their brand, like them as people, and think that our reader base, clients, and prospects can benefit  — even if we are not going to sell this company’s software.

Do things like guest blogging on each other’s blogs, backlinking, sharing stuff on social, collaborating on content offers (like co-branding an e-book or co-hosting a webinar together); based on those activities, if you find that your intuition was right, and the partnership becomes beneficial to you, you can take on higher involvement and higher risk with them.

Have you ever made the final decision on a partnership based on unconventional clues?

I think it is important not to stay super data-driven when it comes to making decisions like this. I can give an example of a partner whose name I can’t mention yet because we are still working with them. As a HubSpot provider, we don’t partner with Marketo clients. Once, we signed on a partnership with a software company. About a year after the partnership, that company ended up being purchased by Marketo; this was a conflict of interest for us because while we really liked this partner’s software, the pairing company didn’t align with what we were doing. It created too much strain on our relationship because after that there was a lot less that we could do together. Nothing against the company — it is just that we couldn’t talk in depth about our content anymore. We can still collaborate on some stuff, but it is a lot trickier to figure out how to provide value to each other now.

Something to definitely keep in mind when setting up a partnership, make sure you have initially hashed out all the details and are upfront about everything, especially about a possible acquisition and merging with other companies. There will definitely be cases where you or your partner won’t know about something potentially harmful to your relationship, and you can’t really prepare for it. Then, the best thing to do is to be proactive about it as soon as you find out the news. To avoid wasting anyone’s time, it would be better to dissolve the relationship or scale it back to figure out the best solution.

How can a potential partner win you over?

Personal communication is really important. When you collaborate with your partners closely, you will talk to them on a regular basis, so having a good vibe means a lot. I have been in situations where prospective partners were not very enthusiastic about the whole situation, our product, or even their own product. The synergies just weren’t there, and this is not what I would like to translate to our customers.

A complete opposite example is our most recent partnership with Drift. It all started when I met someone from their company at an event and just said that we were kind of interested in their chatbot; this person gave me free tickets to their HYPERGROWTH conference, and it was an awesome experience as a prospect. All throughout the relationship, they have gone above and beyond for us and provided a lot of value and positive experience for us. Although we didn’t even need to change our current chatbot for theirs, it was still great to meet a partner we could collaborate on content with.

Gaetano Nino DiNardi

Gaetano Nino DiNardi
Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva

Why do you need co-marketing partners in the first place?

It depends on the size and scale of your company and what you are trying to do.

If you are newer in the game, you are fairly well-known, but you don’t have a lot of money, co-marketing is the best thing to do. My previous company was a bootstrap startup with only 25 employees. However, most people thought we were a lot bigger because we were so good at content and social media marketing. People thought we had a lot more money than we really had, while the truth was that we couldn’t afford to spend $10,000 a month on AdWords. Anyway, what would this sum bring us? We would bid on one meaningful keyword phrase match, spend $1 per click and get 10,000 clicks. How many of these clicks would convert into real customers? 100? Then how long would these people that came in from paid channels last?

A complete opposite scenario would be like what Mazda and Buzzsumo did. They did a whole bunch of co-branded surveys and annual content reports. Sure, it cost some sweat, but they used their connections to get data for free or very cheap. Then, they have big networks, so co-marketing means doubling the email list, doubling the reach, and doubling the visibility. Whereas if these were just AdWords, at the end of the day, that would be just the budget spent and a brand not amplified in any kind of a meaningful or unique way. Flooding paid traffic to a landing page is just dollars spent which may or may not convert, while co-marketing is not all up to signups for a webinar, downloads of an ebook or people showing up at an event. Co-marketing makes things easier too because all the pressure is not just on you anymore.

How do you search for co-marketing partners?

I usually start with the people I know. In the beginning, I don’t think about 100% relevance because sometimes it is more important to work with someone who is easy to communicate with than with the most perfect partner in the world. Sure, doing a survey report with Google or Facebook would be the Holy Grail, but without a mutual connection, it would be extremely hard.

At Nextiva, we have a great partner network, but sometimes we want to go even broader. All our partners are relevant companies, but they all have the same audience. So I might want to hit up somebody who is also in the B2B tech SaaS space but has a slightly different audience.

How can you know that a company has a slightly different audience than yours?

  • I judge by the messaging on their website and their language. I look at the company’s blog and the types of content they have. Usually, they are built based on buyer personas. For example, Sales Hacker writes about sales strategies for VPs of marketing. I can say for sure that this is who they are going after. Whereas in the blog of my company you will see things like the action plan for chief information officers.

  • Most companies now have solutions-oriented site navigation, so you will see what types of industries they are going after. Sure, some companies will include all the industries under the sun, but some will target only specific ones. For example, you will see that Agile CRM aims at real estate, while Pipedrive specifically targets salespeople.

  • I also look at the link profile, and if I can see that they get a lot of links from certain types of websites and certain industries, I will know that that’s where their target audience hangs out because those are the kinds of links that they are trying to build.

  • Finally, you can just straight up ask them.

If you have two partners to choose from, how do you decide which opportunity to dive into?

First of all, I see if it is a company I have heard of. That will definitely make me prioritize them over a company I don’t know at all. Then I look at their website traffic and online reputation, and I check their reviews. I study their link profile as well because I want to see what opportunities will be there if we collaborate. I check the company’s social media: how active they are, what kinds of things they post, who their audience is.

I also look at the profile of the person who contacted me. Is it someone active in the community, for example, on LinkedIn? Is this person an influencer? Do we have a lot of mutual connections? Has this person been in the game for a while or is it just someone who graduated high school last year, and their company is just telling them to go spam everybody under the sun to try to get a collaboration?

Have you ever been in a situation when you were already in the process of negotiating with someone, but then something happened, and you had to discontinue the collaboration?

I won’t mention the name of the person, but I will tell you that there is a very well-known influencer that we wanted to do a podcast sponsorship with. Everything seemed to be good, and the contract was about to be signed, butone of our partners recommended that we didn’t do it. The reason was, the guy from the potential sponsor company had cursed our partner out on LinkedIn, and there were even screenshot messages of all these crazy things. So, we had to cancel everything with that new company. We had to make up an excuse about a new chief financial officer who cracked down on spending, and that is why we couldn’t continue the project. The guy didn’t even respond, and that silence was a clear sign for me.

Have you been partners with a company surrounded by some buzz around the time you collaborated?

There was a company in Arizona that wanted to partner with us on something. One of their executive leaders tweeted out support for Donald Trump’s border wall security. The tone and language of that person’s tweet was very insensitive to the issue, and for us, it was a reason not to work with this company. The founder of our company is from Poland, and a part of our PR angle is embracing immigration and the mentality that America is the land of opportunity for everyone. This anti-immigration tweet was completely against our policy, so we just couldn’t partner with such a company.

How can you estimate the ROI of a sponsored event before the actual event?

A lot of companies don’t even really do this. When they pay for an event, they pay for the hype. I do it differently: I ask questions. The only way you can calculate the ROI is to get a sense of how many attendees are going to be there, how many days is the conference, where your booth is positioned so that you can estimate the traffic. I ask about the audience breakdown by seniority, job title, and email list. The latter is a very strong indication because the only way to really calculate the ROI is to get a sense of who is going to be there, and then doing the work beforehand to build a pipeline before the event starts. Sure, someone might stop by your booth and talk to you, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they want you to follow up with them or pitch them anything. The real magic happens away from the conference site.

In my opinion, a better thing to sponsor is not a general booth but a happy hour, because it is going to give you a great excuse to mingle and talk to everyone. At 11 am, when all the keynotes are happening, there is nobody walking through the expo halls, but by the end of the day, your ROI will depend on how many meetings you got booked and with whom. If you meet with the chief information officer from a company with a thousand plus employees, you can kind of estimate what kind of deal size that would be. You combine that with your estimated foot traffic and the activity you have during the conference.

The key point is follow-ups. Personal communication is very hard to put in a dollar amount, but this is how partnerships are made.

What is the main mistake one can make when choosing a co-marketing partner?

Choosing a company that is not going to promote. I will give you a perfect example. When I was at Sales Hacker, we used to do so-called events — a series of webinars strung together. We asked everybody who was going to be at the virtual event to send a dedicated promo email to their list. A lot of participants refused upfront because they were afraid of opt-outs and they knew it for sure from their experience. However, there were those who said they were going to promote and then didn’t. That was critical.

So, you just have to make it clear from the beginning that you need a commitment from anyone who is in. Some companies agree on a registration number that their partners are going to drive or at least an estimated sign up number. They also ask if in the past their partner managed to raise these numbers. The only way to check it more accurately is by the size of the email list. Hopefully, they are not lying to you about it.

History of Viral Marketing

We’ve all seen those advertisements or images on Facebook that seem to reach thousands, if not millions, of people and result in hundreds of comments, likes, and shares. Your friend shares the post, then you do, and then your friends do. Those posts that spread like wildfire across social media networks are part of viral promotion, a form of content marketing that can be extremely successful for brands of all sizes. How did viral marketing come about? How exactly does it work? And what are some of its common aspects?

What Does It Mean to “Go Viral”?

Consider this: There are 2.5 billion people worldwide using social media opens in new window, according to Statista, and an article in Forbes by Robert Wynne reports about 5 billion pieces of content are posted to Facebook and more than 500,000 tweets are sent on a daily basis.

Even though the chances of a tweet going viral are about one in a million, another Forbes article by Jason DeMers says that sharable content is key to successful content marketing opens in new window. Of course, it depends on how and when the content is shared in order to increase its chances of becoming viral. Sometimes, a post can gain traction significantly, but only for a few days before losing momentum. The content needs to be something that the audience would want to share with their friends.

According to Entrepreneur opens in new window, you should “think of virality as an exponential curve. If two people directly related to the brand share a piece of content, and if that number doubles 30 times, it means that over a billion people will have shared the content.”

The more shares a promotion gets, the greater the opportunity that it “snowballs into something huge opens in new window.” A company needs to share its content in as many ways and in as many places as possible. If the company makes it easy for its audience to share content — through tagging, embedding, or downloading — then the chance of it going viral increases opens in new window, according to Hubspot

However, content that appears to have gone viral may not produce the brand’s desired results. Much of the time, consumers barely read the content after clicking on it. In fact, 55 percent of readers actively spend less than 15 seconds on a page, according to Forbes.

Where Did Viral Marketing Originate?

Viral marketing’s roots date back to 1996 opens in new window, when a small startup company called Hotline needed a budget-friendly way to promote its new email service, Hotmail. Hotline’s team decided to insert the line “Get your own free Hotmail at www.hotmail.com” in all emails. The result? The number of Hotmail users grew from 20,000 to 1 million within a year. By 2001, Hotmail had 30 percent of the email market with 86 million active users. This is an example of one of the most important aspects of viral marketing: every customer involuntarily promotes a service just by using it.

However, it’s unclear where the exact phrase originated. In 1996, Jeffrey Rayport, a Harvard Business School professor, authored an article for Fast Company titled “The Virus of Marketing,” in which the term “viral marketing” appeared. However, venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson claims that it coined the term in a 1997 Netscape newsletter, using inspiration from Hotmail’s marketing strategy. In 2000, Fast Company published “Unleash Your Ideavirus,” an article focusing on the idea economy and how the “ideas that spread the fastest win.”

Regardless of its exact origin, there is no doubt that viral marketing could not survive without social networking today. During the 2000s, the major social networks launched. Facebook came to existence in 2000, and YouTube and Twitter launched in 2005 and 2006, respectively.

What Makes Viral Promotion Ideal?

As viral promotion is one of the most effective marketing tactics today, it offers many benefits for both small businesses and large corporations. One of the major advantages is that viral marketing doesn’t require a large budget. In fact, Hubspot reported that some of the most successful viral content was created with a very low budget, especially given the ability to shoot high-quality photos and videos with a smartphone.

Another considerable benefit is that when a viral marketing campaign is successful, a brand’s product or service is put in front of a new, larger audience. As the content reaches thousands of people, not only does the brand have the potential to make more money, but it can also gain a large amount of new followers, referral traffic, and even permanent links to help with its website’s search engine rankings.

A genuine viral promotion can also create loyal customer relationships. Through all the shares, likes, and tags on various social media networks, viral marketing campaigns are not considered as invasive. It’s the consumers and fans who decide to share the content, and the perception of the brand ends up being better than it would via other marketing tactics opens in new window.

On the other hand, sometimes content going viral doesn’t lead to more loyal followers. The most important thing for a business’ success is loyalty, not how viral content becomes. A brand must work to build authentic connections with its audience, as loyal customers are the ones who want to stay updated on the brand’s latest news.

Successful Viral Marketing Examples

In November 2017, filmmaker Max Lanman created a commercial to advertise his girlfriend’s 1996 Honda Accord. The ad, which showed Lanman’s girlfriend drinking coffee and holding her cat in the car while driving, included some witty fine print such as “Cat and coffee pot not included” and “0% APR for qualified buyers with eBay accounts in good standing.” The video promptly went viral and has since achieved more than 6.8 million views on YouTube. While the video advertised the car for a sale price of $499 opens in new window, the car’s eBay auction quickly went up to $150,000 before being pulled off the site. Later, CarMax created a response video, offering the couple $20,000 for the Honda, which the couple accepted. CarMax’s own video topped 400,000 views, performing better than any of its other videos.

Another example of viral marketing is BlendTec’s “Will It Blend” campaign. In 2006, the blender company had very low brand awareness, and it created a series of videos showing the company’s CEO placing random objects into one if its blenders opens in new window. Items such as an iPhone, a rake handle, a video game, and credit cards were destroyed in the blender. Within five days of being posted on YouTube, the videos had more than 6 million views, and BlendTec went from being an unknown brand to world renowned. Additionally, their sales increased by eight times after the campaign launched.

What Many Viral Marketing Campaigns Have in Common

While there’s no guaranteed formula to make a marketing campaign go viral, there are some traits that the most successful campaigns have in common. They’re relatable to their target audience, making them feel strongly enough about the content to share it. The content may evoke emotion, be entertaining or inspirational, provide an element of surprise, or contain information that is deemed helpful. Hubspot also suggests viral marketing campaigns also have good visual strategies that tell a story and are innovative.

Content that is easy for the audience to digest also increases the chances of it becoming viral. Even though they tend to earn fewer links, the article in Forbes by Jayson DeMers opens in new windowmentioned earlier states, “Videos, quizzes, and list-based articles tend to get more shares than other types of content, possibly because they’re relatively quick and easy to digest.” Meanwhile, as 85 percent of content has 1,000 words or less, the remaining 15 percent, which contains more than 1,000 words, seems to earn more shares and links.

Interested in Digital Marketing Trends?

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Rivier University’s online MBA with a concentration in marketing will give you the marketing skills required to help brands flourish. The affordable two-year program focuses on digital marketing and analytics, sales management, strategic brand management, and other cutting-edge marketing techniques. As you specialize your education in this dynamic field, you will have the flexibility to study at your own pace at a place of your choosing.

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Taking Your Schema from Developer Led to Marketing Led

I have been talking with a lot of companies recently, and when I ask about their schema, they tell me something along the lines of “We heard we had to have it so we told our developer and they set it up.” This is great, simply to have schema puts you a step ahead of much of the competition, but at the same time, it concerns me. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a knock on developers, but it is not their job to be focused on Google’s results and the sales that it generates.

Are SEOs to Blame? 

We as SEOs have been just as complicit in this situation, many have allowed developers to take the lead, suggesting nothing more detailed than, “We need schema; can you add it?” It is easy to see why. There is no direct benefit for your rankings in the main SERPS (though John Mueller has suggested that there is an impact on relevancy) and it is hard to see what is going on in the rich results for both clients and competitors. This isn’t data we can see in analytics; search console provides nothing more than a high-level number. I love the data that SEMrush provides in this area, but even then I need to know the right keywords. If I have a rich result for something entirely unexpected, chances are I will never know it.

Schema is Complicated

To make matters worse, schema is complicated. I am pretty sure when I first started working with it, I was cross-eyed for a week just from confusion. It is not hard to see why it has been neglected when it is hard to learn, even harder to make sense of, and we don’t get that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you see your traffic and sales go up. However, the complexity shouldn’t deter you from getting involved and managing your schema; the benefits of doing so can be huge.

We all know that websites need schema now, and getting your company name and address in there should be relatively straightforward (I will concede that if that is all you want to do with schema, hand it off to a developer and don’t let it trouble you further). There are about a thousand tools that can get you that far with almost no effort at all, but that is only half the story.

You want to make sure that you are providing data on everything you can.

Creating detailed schema can help give signals to the search engines regarding nuances of your product and service that the search engines may not otherwise be able to correctly identify. Google themselves say, “By adding structured data markup to your site, you can enable more of your site’s functional and visual elements to appear directly in results and in Knowledge Graph cards.” I don’t know about you, but I want some of that!

Schema is one of those things where the devil is in the detail, and it is not something you can just skip over or set and forget. Every morsel of information that you can provide to the search engines increases your chance of getting into those rich results. I lovingly think of it as structured keyword stuffing because now we have a way to directly tell the search engines what we want people to know. 

What to Do and Not to Do

Start thinking of all those keywords that could influence a click or purchase decision, and figure out what markup you need to be creating to communicate that. But, for the love of Pete, don’t start adding things that aren’t relevant to your business, and don’t do what one site I looked at did and create a 250-word description within the schema markup. It is not 1996, and these aren’t meta keyword tags, so just stop before you get any ideas about spamming. You don’t want a penalty.

Taking a Bigger Role

OK, so you are probably not going to go out and learn programming to do your own schema, but you do need to be able to communicate the right things to the developers. When I am responsible for communication with devs, I like to provide a detailed list that links back to schema.org so that there is absolutely no confusion with the development team. I would suggest, if you are struggling with schema, that you forget about the hierarchies and formatting and list what you want to say and on which pages you want it said. Think of it as a wireframe for your development team to build your schema around.

A Schema Example

Let’s use the example of a skincare company. They are currently using schema on their site and have the following information:

Taking Your Schema from Developer Led to Marketing Led. Image 0

The first thing I notice here is that they are missing a lot of useful company information. Even if they are an online only brand, they have a headquarters with an address, they have customer service agents that customers can contact, and I would also add their brand name in there too.

Where to Start With Schema: Basics that Bring Results

When I am creating schema for a client, I start with a review of the things their customers want to know most. These are the same things that people often qualify their searches with, so we want to make sure that Google is aware that we are relevant to those items. We forget, as marketers, that what is obvious to us, may not be obvious to someone else. I can’t count the number of times I have seen extensive product or service listings, but no address or opening hours! Think through all of the actions that someone is trying to take on the site and add them to your schema.

We forget, as marketers, that what is obvious to us, may not be obvious to someone else.

Once I have the basics covered, I might look at some of the more product specific elements from schema. Making use of the makesoffer schema, I would add in the details of each product listed on the page, and it’s stock status. I would also try and add reviews for the product, but those are just the elements I know off the top of my head. I like to spend some time poking around at schema.org because often there is something there that is very specific to the business I am looking at. For instance, you may be able to add in an award the business or product had received; for some, adding in Parent organization may be impactful.

Once I have created my list of ideas, it is relatively simple to create a map for the developers. Usually, mine looks something like this:

Taking Your Schema from Developer Led to Marketing Led. Image 1

The Long Haul

Schema is here to stay, and it is only going to get bigger. My goal is that the only time my clients will need to change their schema is when their business changes or new elements are added. When everyone else is scrambling because Google added a new feature and a previously unimportant schema is required, you and I will be the ones sitting back and watching our clients rise to the top because we took the time and effort to get it right the first time.

7 Offline Marketing Tactics That Still Work

offline marketing tactics
Image source: iStock.com

Offline marketing is a term that sounds like an oxymoron today. Whether someone’s looking for a new place to eat, a new supplier for their business, or a place to board their cat while they’re on vacation, they’re likely to turn to the Internet.

Yet, as strange as it may seem to digital natives, there was a time when search engines, social media, and mobile devices didn’t exist.  Back then, new and existing small businesses had to utilize what we now refer to as offline methods to advertise and market their businesses. And guess what! There are plenty of small businesses that still successfully use offline channels to win customers.

How do they do it?  What kind of offline marketing works for small business? Consider these suggestions:

Offline Marketing Tactics 

1. Direct Mail

You thought email marketing killed direct mail but you’re wrong. Take a look in your mailbox on any given day and you still see a ton of advertising. You might not respond to such strategies but many customers do.

There are several “secrets” to direct mail success for a small business.  One is to build your own mailing list by getting contact information from customers and shoppers. Another is to be clear about who your target customer is and what you want to achieve with your mailing. Before choosing a mailing list or method, consider the age, income, gender and other characteristics your ideal customers have in common. It would be pointless, for instance, to send a postcard promoting your lawn care service to everyone in your county if there are a lot of residents in your county who live in apartment complexes or condos.

If you have a restaurant, auto repair service, or other business that would benefit by reaching everyone in neighborhoods near your location, you can choose areas you want to reach and keep costs down by using the US Postal Service’s Every Door Direct Mailing.

2. Networking

Networking has been the mainstay of small business marketing for as long as small businesses have existed. That’s because people and businesses like to do business with people they know, or at least feel like they know. Networking is also a popular offline marketing tool because it’s relatively inexpensive. There are free and low-cost networking opportunities available in just about every community. You can use networking to build professional practices, or for any type of business. These networking tips will help if you’re new to networking, or if you haven’t been successful at doing it.

3. Relationship Building

Relationship building goes hand in hand with networking. People do business with people they trust and like. You become a trusted source if you’re seen often at local meetings and events and encourage contacts to talk about themselves, their interests and needs.  By making yourself and your business familiar, you’ll build trust, business and referrals.

4. The Sign Spinner

You’re driving down the road and see somebody standing on the street corner wearing a Superman costume doing crazy acrobatic moves with a sign that says, “HUGE SALE TODAY!!” “Live advertising” works and it’s not expensive. Never thought you would try it? Sometimes moving out of your comfort zone results in big profit.

5. Cold Calling

The thought of cold calling may send a chill down your spine. After all, no one likes to have a door shut in their face or listen to a phone being slammed down. But here’s the reality: Cold calling works and successful businesses still do it. To make it work for your business you can’t treat rejection as a personal afront. You have to be able to cross that name off the list and move on to the next.  Also, just like mailings, you want to choose prospects who are likely to want your service. For instance, If you’re doing repairs on a home, ask the homeowner for referrals and call those people. Knock on the doors of neighbors’ homes and ask if they need work done. Have a flier or business card to leave with them so they can call you in the future. (They’ll probably want to know how the neighbor liked you before contacting you.) 

If you’re cold-calling businesses, ask for the person you want to reach by name. If you don’t know who the right person is, ask.

6. Sales Calls

Many companies that sell higher-ticket goods use sales calls to present their products and services in person to prospects.  The sales call is not only a chance to talk about the benefits of your offerings and why they are valuable to prospects, but it’s also a chance to answer questions and objections right away, and to get feedback about what you sell and the buyer’s needs. To make sales calls productive, focus on making sales appointments with decision makers. Then, do your homework and prepare for the call.

7. The commercial

Local TV and radio advertising works for some types of local businesses. Watch and listen to see what kinds of commercial run repeatedly and when they run. Do they seem to be targeting an audience you want to reach?  Are their products or services similar in nature and pricing to yours? Have the companies been in business for a long time?  If there are enough similarities to your type of business and market, spend some time researching production costs, broadcast costs and expected ROI to determine if running commercials could work for you, too. 

Bottom Line

Have you come to rely so much on online efforts that you’ve abandoned what has worked in the past? Incorporating online efforts is vitally important but diversify your marketing strategy to utilize multiple channels.

© 2019 Attard Communications, Inc. All Rights Reserved. May not be reproduced, reprinted or redistributed without written permission from Attard Communications, Inc.

Using new technology to support conversational marketing

Keep it conversational

Technology continues to move forward, and new approaches to digital marketing evolve in parallel. While direct mail, billboards, television and radio ads still have their place, the changing digital landscape means small businesses need to keep up or lose potential customers to the competition. Conversational marketing has emerged as new capability that can be integrated with existing approaches.

As customers, we’ve come to expect responses right away, and that idea has also filtered into marketing.

Today, conversational marketing has become a driving force for many companies, increasing customer satisfaction and boosting revenue.

What is conversational marketing?

Conversational marketing refers to having one-on-one personal conversations with customers and prospects across multiple channels.

The idea is to meet customers where they want, when they want, and how they want so that you can address their unique needs while improving your business outcomes.

Related: How to use omni-channel marketing to grow your small business

Conversational Marketing Guys Talking Over LaptopPhoto: New Data Services on Unsplash

Primary components of conversational marketing

You already may have some elements of conversational marketing working in your business, but it’s important to consider the following components to give your customers the experience they demand.

Customer-time conversations

The conversations that take place in conversational marketing need to happen when the customer wants them to happen, not when it is convenient for you. That may be during the workday, after work, or in the middle of the night.

It’s also important to allow them to finish the conversation at their own pace because it’s not always possible to start and continue to the end in one sitting.

Contextual conversations

Conversations must have context, and they should become smarter and more in-depth as you collect more information. People want the answers to their questions as quickly as possible, without having to answer the same mundane questions with every contact.

Scalable conversations

Your business’s conversational marketing efforts need to be scalable because every customer wants their questions answered and issues dealt with in a timely fashion.

Whether you have five conversations in progress with customers or 500, each of those conversations should deliver the same level of service and quality.

Meeting people where they are

Being able to meet your customers and prospects on their preferred platform is the key to success with conversational marketing. It puts them in the right frame of mind and adds to the level of comfort and trust they feel when communicating with your company.

Editor’s note: Looking for an elegant but easy way to communicate with your customers and prospects? Check out GoDaddy Email Marketing to create and track emails that integrate with your website.

Conversational marketing on a range of platforms

Live chat on your website is great for conversational marketing, but it isn’t the only platform available. Some people still prefer the telephone, but that number is dwindling.

Some of the more popular platforms include Facebook Messenger, SMS text messaging, Slack and reliable email.

Newer options will become available as the concept of conversational marketing gets greater awareness, but these are some of the main channels today.

It’s important to note that multi-channel conversations with the same customers need to be supported to really make conversational marketing work.

Related: Using a marketing dashboard to manage multi-channel campaigns

The emergence of chatbots

Chatbots are quickly becoming an innovative way to make conversational marketing successful on a company website.

With a chatbot in place, you have the ability to scale your conversations and offer 24/7 interactions with customers and prospects.

A bot enables a smaller business to compete with larger businesses. It allows customers to solve issues and have questions answered quickly and without having to be placed on hold or speak to a person.

Using chatbots to create conversational marketing offers benefits that include:

  • answering a wide range of questions using available data
  • promoting products, services or events
  • qualifying leads
  • scheduling meetings
  • getting valuable feedback from customers

Related: How to leverage automation to create a remarkable client experience

Conversational Marketing Online Chat

Of course, it’s important to remember that there are times when customers want or need to speak with a real person, so you should always have that option available as well.

Adding new software

Messenger software is a valuable tool when it comes to conversational marketing. This type of software will engage prospective customers in a conversation that results in specific offers or product recommendations.

Many brands use this technology to find interested prospects and buyers on social media networks or specific product websites.

It can also answer questions and concerns and transfer customers to sales reps or payment gateways to successfully close a sale.

This kind of software can often integrate with chatbot software to create meaningful conversations in real time at varying points of the buyer’s journey.

Some of these software solutions use a combination of human contact and automation.

As an example, a chatbot can signal a live salesperson to take control at crucial points in the conversation to keep the customer engaged and lead to the conversion.

Multiple business benefits

Whether you decide on a straightforward, conversational marketing model or one that is more complex, there are several business benefits that may be achieved once it is implemented and fully functional. The potential benefits include:

  • Offering a user-friendly customer experience through multiple channels.
  • Allowing you to target behavioral criteria to segment your audience for a better experience.
  • Identifying customer pain points faster.
  • Providing more relevant and thorough solutions to customer issues.
  • Building meaningful relationships with customers
  • Collecting valuable data for future communication and marketing efforts.

Related: Using customer segments to build lasting relationships

The emergence of conversational marketing as a way to solve problems and win new customers is likely to keep evolving along with technology. Conversations are never going to go out of style. As long as you keep up with the latest capabilities and the wishes of your customers when it comes to conversational marketing, you will always be ahead of the game.

Image by: Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

How to Do Email Marketing (5 Step DIY Marketing Guide)

Have you seen the Constant Contact commercial where business owners crowd around the computer to watch their email results come in and are blown away by the sales? They sure know how to do email marketing!

Constant Contact email marketing results commercial

You watch the commercial and wonder – “How do I do email marketing like that?”

How to Do Email Marketing for Small Business

Let’s break it down so that you can see and understand how other small businesses are effective email marketing.

1. Build an Email List

Start small.  Your goal is to create an engaged email list and not just a large email list.

Preferably, you want a list of email addresses from people who actually want to get your emails and will open them.

How to build your email marketing list:

  1. Create a spreadsheet with the following columns: email, first name, last name, tag.
  2. Add your existing customers to the list. Tag them as “customers.”
  3. Add any prospects you have to the list. Tag them as “prospects.”
  4. If you’d like to add friends, family or other contacts to your list, you can create an online form and send them a personal email with a link to your form and a request that they register to receive emails from you.

Email Marketing List spreadsheet layout

2. Create a Map for Every Email Opt-in

Next to choosing a marketing strategy and how email will support your sales and marketing — this is the most important step.

Start with a piece of paper or a whiteboard — whatever you would use to chart out a process.

What do you want to sell?

 If your product or service is more than $100, you’ll want to break it up into smaller, lower-priced offers. One of those may end up being a lead magnet (something free you’re going to give away in exchange for their email).

Where will your subscribers come from?

 Think about where most of your new customers come from — is it:

  • Organic search – where they search on a problem or a solution and your website is at the top?
  • Paid Advertising – where you’re purchasing ads from Google or Facebook?
  • Social media – where you’re actively posting organic content on social media?
  • Personal interactions – where your customers write in their email addresses or enter contests at a trade show?

Pick an email sequence or buyer path and map it out.

 Before you start writing any emails, put yourself in your customer’s shoes and imagine signing up for your email and then think about what YOU would like to see as the next communication. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Confirmation and Thank You: Send a quick email with a link or attachment of what you promised.  Keep it short.
  • Welcome email: Welcome your new subscriber, make them feel at home. Give them an overview of what they can expect.
  • Segmentation email: In this email, share resources and information that represent different interests your audience might have.  When they click on any of the links, you’ll want to make sure that they get placed into the appropriate segment for the interest that they have.
  • Nurture emails: These are emails that are often ignored but can build the strongest relationships. Nurture or “content” emails are ideal relationship builders. You can share news, new articles, surveys, review requests, etc.
  • Promotional emails: I put this last because most people put it first. These emails contain sales announcements, new product announcements, coupons, etc.

Make a list of all the opportunities you will have for people to give you their email

.  This is called a “lead magnet” It doesn’t have to be complicated.  In fact, the best lead magnets are simple.

The best email marketing lead magnets:
  • Solve a real and painful problem for your ideal customer.
  • Are easy to understand, consume and implement
  • Stay focused on a single pain point and how to solve it.
  • Provide step-by-step instructions, examples, and resources

Here are some ideas for you.

  • Newsletter: If your blog posts provide valuable tips and information, you can send an automatic RSS newsletter each month. Most email marketing software does this quickly.
  • Email tips: My most successful lead-magnet was a series of simple email tips.  Every four days my subscribers would receive a 2-sentence tip that they could implement in about 10 minutes.
  • Checklist: No matter what business you are in, you can create a simple checklist or cheat sheet. An SEO expert can have a checklist of to-dos before publishing a post.
  • 5 Simple Tips: You’re the expert! Come up with five simple tips that would help your audience
  • Quizzes or Calculators: People LOVE to take quizzes, assessments and personality tests. Use a tool like Interact Quiz Maker. They have easy to follow templates you can use.  Or, create an interactive calculator to help your customers solve a problem.  Outgrow has interactive calculators, quizzes and polls that are relatively easy to implement.
  • Video sequence: Create a mini-workshop that consists of three videos.  Don’t overthink this. Use your mobile device to record them.  The first video introduces the problem and the solutions and provides the first tip. Second video reviews the first adds a second tip, and the third video wraps it up with a final tip and a call to action.
  • Templates: These are an ideal way to prepare a prospect to become a customer. Think about a consulting conversation that you have with customers and convert it into a template.
  • Swipe File: A close cousin to the template is the swipe file. Give your customers pre-written content such as headline formulas or emails that they can customize for their own use.
  • Lists of Resources: If people are always asking you for referrals, pull your resource list together and share it with prospects.
  • Ebooks or Guides: If you already have several articles or blog posts on a specific topic — turn them into an ebook.

This very short list of lead magnets should get you on your way.  Pick something simple that you can pull together in a few hours.  It doesn’t have to be beautiful – it DOES have to be useful and demonstrate your expertise.

3. Choose an Email Marketing Service

Most business owners who decide to do email marketing start with an email marketing or marketing automation software.

This is a mistake.

When you choose a software first, you’re limited by the features and functions of that software.

Instead, make a list of the features and functions you need and look for software that has those features.

This is why I’ve put the choice of an email marketing tool so far down into the process.  It’s so much easier to choose a system when you already know how you will gather emails, what types of emails you’re going to be sending and how you want to drive sales.

There are dozens of well-known email marketing systems out there.  The email marketing software you choose will depend on the marketing strategy you’re doing.

I recommend you start with MailChimp.  MailChimp is free for up to 2000 email addresses.  MailChimp is easy to use, the designs are beautiful, and you can scale up as your business grows.

Here are a few more email marketing software platforms you might consider:

Constant Contact – Ideal for brick and mortar businesses who want to share coupons and send email newsletters

Constant Contact Email Service Provider

aWeber – Great for coaches, consultants and online marketers

aWeber Email Service Provider

Drip: Good choice for e-commerce businesses

Drip Email Service Provider

What about Marketing Automation?

Email marketing is often the first step toward marketing automation.  Email marketing is focused on sending mass emails and tracking the results to those emails. Marketing automation, on the other hand, takes it to a whole new level.

Marketing automation does everything that email marketing services do and adds a whole new level of complexity.

Marketing automation tools will often incorporate a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) feature, score leads, trigger automated email sequences based on links subscribers clicked on and much, much more.

Of course, with all of that complexity, comes an added cost.

My advice, start with a simple email marketing tool and you can always move into a marketing automation tool when you’re ready.

How to Drive Traffic to Your Website or Store

Your customers aren’t sitting around and waiting for you to publish a blog post or come out with some kind of special.  The best way to inform people to visit your website or store is to email them.

Email marketing return on investment (ROI)  continues to be one of the highest of any marketing tactic. According to  Campaign Monitor email marketing drives $44 for every $1 spent.

Try these tips to get some extra traffic to your website or store.

Post your lead magnet to your social media. A quick way to drive traffic to your email opt-in is to announce it to your friends and family on Facebook.  Don’t forget to ask them to register for your newsletter or lead magnet.  And, don’t be too shy to ask them to share it with their friends. Find out how to get ROI with social media.

Include a link to your blog in your email signature. Whether you’re sending personal or business emails, be sure to include a link to your blog in your email signature.   Take it one step further and try WiseStamp.  WiseStamp has a feature that will pull your most recent blog post and place it in your signature.

Sample Email Signature for Your Brand

Send RSS feed newsletters from your blog.  Most people aren’t waiting around for your next blog post.  Most email marketing systems can create a great looking email newsletter based on your RSS feed.

Setup an Email RSS Feed

Create a landing page with a special offer and promote it.   Of course, the biggest reason to drive traffic to your website is to either build credibility or sell something.  If you have an exciting offer your email list can benefit from, create a landing page featuring that offer and send your list an email invitation to take a look.

Don’t stress the whole landing page thing.  Use LeadPages, Unbounce to quickly and easily create simple landing pages even if you’re not a tech wiz.

Digital Marketer Swipe File

4. Setup Your Email Marketing System

Most email marketing services are DIY friendly and easy enough to set up on your own.

But, if technology is not your strong suit, GET HELP!

Click over to UpWork and enter the words  “email marketing” and the name of your email marketing service in the search term.

Find Email Marketing Gurus on Upwork

You’ll get a slew of well-qualified people who can help.

You can filter based on budget, location, and ratings too.

Here’s an important tip — DO NOT SKIMP on your budget here.  It’s critical that you select several people, interview them over the phone and choose carefully.

Start with a small project such as setting up your email service account.

Look for someone who can also help you craft email subject lines, do list segmentation, and optimize for higher open rates and click-through rates.

5. Launch, Test, and Measure Your Email Marketing

Let’s do this!

Effective email marketing campaigns are a result of testing and measuring your results.

Once you’ve gone through this process, you’re ready to launch!

When is the best time to send emails?

Email Newsletters: Tuesdays

  • Other Emails: Mondays
  • 9 am – 12 pm with 10 am being the average best time

Now, pull the trigger, launch your lead magnet and watch the results.

Check out Constant Contact’s latest summary of open rates by industry and see how you compare:

Constant Contact shares summary of open rates

After about 48 hours, head into your email marketing system and check to see your results. Don’t worry if they are less than the average — it takes practice and testing.

Don’t give up!

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Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com. She ranked #21 out of 30,000 influential people on the Internet in Fast Company. Ivana is also one of D&B Top SMB Influencers. She is the book editor for Small Business Trends, a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum and has appeared on MSNBC.

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Ivana Taylor is the publisher of DIYMarketers.com. She ranked #21 out of 30,000 influential people on the Internet in Fast Company. Ivana is also one of D&B Top SMB Influencers. She is the book editor for Small Business Trends, a contributing author to AMEX Open Forum and has appeared on MSNBC.
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