Series Posts: Beyond

The Next Evolutionary Leap for Email Marketing

The Next Evolutionary Leap for Email Marketing

Beyond • June 15, 2015

An evolutionary look at email marketing would tell us that email hasn’t changed its form or function, but rather its face. It’s had to adapt in how it engages users due to an evolutionary shift in how we interact, communicate and use technology. And the next evolutionary leap for email marketing is already here with four rapidly adopted practices. Creating Magazine-Inspired Layouts for Stunning Email Campaigns You may have noticed that email newsletters are embracing a new sleek creative design that resembles an editorial layout in The Atlantic. The idea isn’t to as much about creative avant-garde design as much as it is to have email newsletter designs be more responsive to the various ways readers engage them. A sleek design means that whether you’re on a desktop, tablet, or mobile phone, you’ve got a clear undisrupted view of the email campaign. The avant-garde editorial-inspired design has a second function: it’s beautiful. It gets looked at, looked forward to, shared and acted on. Take a look at Need Supply Co’s newsletter campaign that features clothing for men. Repurposing Pop-Up Boxes for Email Subscriptions Pop-up boxes triggered when someone comes to your website have been wildly popular. It’s an instant way to get in front of your visitor and make it easy for them to subscribe. Psychology tells us that people will often also just do as they’re asked. Asking the average person to sign up for your newsletter directly, and giving them an easy no-fuss way to do it, means that the average person will sign up for your newsletter. Those rogue few hurrying through your site or who opted out the first time around, are now met with a second or even a third attempt. In addition to asking users to sign up at the front end, you can ask them as they exit the site. You can also customize what they’re signing up for. For example, someone may not want your newsletter but they’re going to want 10% off a sale price. They’ll sign up for that. And now you’ve captured one more subscriber whom you know is interested in purchasing from you. Segmenting Subscriber Lists Based on Location In order words: proximity marketing. This is another layered approach to segmenting customer lists, but it’s also based on Google’s own growing accommodation of location marketing. Targeting users in select areas allows for email marketing campaigns to be personal and unique to a user’s experience based on their region. Featuring Videos to Encourage Engagement and Conversion Unfortunately most companies still see video as that mutated gene; they’re not really sure why it’s there or what they’re suppose to do with it. But really, most of that hesitation comes from an unfamiliarity in just being yourself. Video doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production. It’s just a way to be yourself and share your brand as if you were there with your readers in-person, especially if you want them to buy any of your products. Inserting a video clip into your email is pretty simple too.


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Marketing Mania: Taylor Swift’s

Marketing Mania: Taylor Swift’s

Beyond • June 11, 2015

There is no other woman in Hollywood who is more famous right now than country-sweetheart turned pop-phenomenon, Taylor Swift. She is a major musical force to be reckoned with; the released of her fifth studio album, 1989, sold over 1 million copies its first week and became the best selling album of the year, she landed the cover of both Rolling Stone and Time magazine, and most recently, won a staggering eight Billboard Awards, including best album and top artist. The biggest Swift surprise was the build-up to her highly-anticipated music video for her fourth single, “Bad Blood.” The song had been heavily disputed by critics and fans about who the subject of the song is. A female friend turned enemy … a frenemy? Many speculated the song was about pop singer Katy Perry after Swift gave a subtly hinted interview, where she claimed that a fellow singer tried to sabotage her entire arena tour by hire a bunch of people from under her. Who knows whom the real identity of the singer is, but all we do know is the Swift got her revenge with the explosive success of the music video. Using the power of social media, Swift started the marketing plan ten days before its release by uploading a photo each day onto Instagram. The first photo were a Sin-City inspired movie poster that showed her as a protagonist Catastrophe. Each day brought on a new surprise celebrity guests as film characters…Selena Gomez as Arsyn, Kendrick Lamar as Welvin da Great, Jessica Alba as Domino, and Ellie Goulding as Destructa X. It doesn’t end there, but the rest of the star-studded lists also include Hailee Steinfield, Zendaya, Karlie Kloss, Hayley Williams, Lily Aldridge, Gigi Hadid, Lena Dunham, Serayah, Cara Delevingne, Martha Hunt, Ellen Pompeo, Mariska Hargitay, and Cindy Crawford … whew!! Don’t think that this is an actual full-length action film. It’s still only a music video! For a whole week straight, fans following Swift’s Instagram waited with bated breath to see whom the next celebrity will be. With a huge video like this, it would only deserve a grand premiere: the Billboard Music Awards on May 17th. Shortly after the premiere, the video was uploaded on Youtube, and broke the 24 hour Vevo record by garnering over 20 million views. Pity the next pop star that will try to beat this, but Taylor Swift won the marketing trophy for this one. Strategies with using a social media platform where she has over 31 million followers, daily sneak peeks, an award show premiere, and of course, a having a multitude of celebrity friends doesn’t hurt either!


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The Golden Rule of Giving Professional Feedback

The Golden Rule of Giving Professional Feedback

Beyond • June 10, 2015

We used to applaud people for their candid commentary. However, in the business world, harsh words alienate your colleagues and risk damaging your reputation. When it comes to giving feedback, there’s a right way and a wrong way to offer critique. The wrong way is to be direct, to have a “sharp tongue,” and to lay your thoughts out there unfiltered. While this is often seen as “telling it like it is,” it also reflects an alarmingly high level of obtuse disregard for your colleagues. The correct way is to start with identifying what has been done correctly. Starting with recognition primes the recipient and shows that you recognize their value. Then you can move on to your carefully worded criticism or “feedback.” After the critique is delivered, go back and offer another kind word or too. This is called the sandwiching method, where you ‘sandwich’ feedback with words of affirmation. The Sandwich Method of Giving Professional Feedback For example, a sandwich method of critique could look like: Hi John, I really appreciate the amount effort you put into the report for today’s meeting. Next time, could you offer Google analytics annotations in your presentation next time? This will allow us to see exactly why we’ve had peaks in traffic. I also wanted to thank you for all your hard work. I know these reports are really data driven and there’s a lot of information to juggle. Thanks! Please let me know if you have any questions. I’d be happy to have a chat about it too. Here, you’ve coated John’s ego by prefacing a criticism with a compliment (the effort) and ending it with sympathetic understanding (we know there’s a lot to do). The criticism itself is that John lacks attention to detail in his reports. Perhaps you’ve had the same conversation with him before. Perhaps this is your third time asking for the same thing, which brings us to another point: getting it said in writing. Written Feedback Gets Looked At Twice Verbal feedback gets heard once, while a written feedback gets looked at twice. Getting something said in writing offers the opportunity to really craft our message, but it also has a higher impact on the recipient. Being offered verbal feedback versus being offered feedback in an email are two different things entirely. The former has to rely on one’s attention at the moment and their memory in order for it to be fully grasped, while the latter is documented and retrievable. The recipient is also more likely to focus on words in an email than what can be otherwise perceived as a request or passing comment with little weight. Feedback Through Example In other cases, it doesn’t really matter what you say or how you say it. What could matter more – or at least be more effective – is offering feedback through example. This is particularly helpful with people who don’t take kindly to being told what to do, even with the thickest of sandwiches. It also works remarkably well for people who are visual communicators. Showing someone how you might prefer something to be done also gives you the advantage of communicating in pictures without really having to consider message delivery.


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Pledgeling: Allegiance To A Donation App

Pledgeling: Allegiance To A Donation App

Beyond • June 9, 2015

Most of us want to be charitable, whether it\'s the loose change in our pockets or a more significant contribution to the cause of our choice. Matt Minnis and Lee Fentress realized there had to be a better way to make that happen. Pledgeling makes giving a donation easy while also protectinng your privacy and taxes in mind. That\'s why we thought it a worthy cause to invite these two gentleman to the Heart of Business. This is a great listen for anyone in the world of non profit, in the tech realm … or really anybody that likes giving. Matt and Lee are working hard for a great cause and we were thrilled to have them join us. Listen and enjoy.


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Benchmark Email & Zapier: Integrate Your Apps

Benchmark Email & Zapier: Integrate Your Apps

Beyond • June 8, 2015

In this modern and technology-advanced age, apps are as common as … apples on an apple tree. Honestly, it is almost impossible to run any kind of program, campaign, marketing strategy, etc., without the use of apps! As we know, apps are a piece of software that is designed for a specific function, or to enhance current functionalities. No matter what electronic device you have –desktop, smartphone, tablet, there are bound to be apps scattered all throughout. Have you ever thought much of apps before or after downloading them? Sure you download them because they are the newest and niftiest apps in the market that everyone is scrambling to download, but we are so surrounded by them that do you even know which ones are apps? Apps fall into different categories; some are full-featured while others perform a smaller task. Here are some examples: Starting with the big boys that we find on our desktops: Word processor. The most well-known is Microsoft Word used to write letters, essays, resumes, and other documents. Web browser. Can you imagine living without this? Some computers come with a pre-installed browser, but the most popular ones are Firefox and Chrome. Media players. Music, movies, podcasts…this app is a must have. Evernote. A virtual binder that makes your schedule your professional and personal life much easier to handle. Next are the popular ones for mobile phones: GPS. What everyone has on their phone while driving, but tucked under the steering wheel so cops don’t see! Instagram. For selfies, food pictures, and throw-back Thursdays. Also fast overtaking Facebook and Twitter and most popular platform. Youtube. A great way to pass time while waiting in at the doctor’s office or if you are sitting alone at a café. Don’t forget your earphones! The Weather Channel. Just handy in general! Now, what about apps for email marketing? Email marketing is a complex creature and also has multiple apps to help run your campaigns but also to add some enhancements here and there. Apps to integrate social media, apps to add event location and time to emails, apps to pull CRM contacts into your account, and so much more. Out of all the apps to use, Zapier is a must-have. If you want to pull your contacts from a certain app into your Benchmark account, Zapier can do that in a snap. What’s also great about Zapier is that you can monitor every activity through the main dashboard, and also change which app should be a trigger or an action. You can watch data flow from one app to another without having to haul in some more bulky and time-consuming coding. There are more than 250 apps you can integrate with, and all of them can incorporate with Benchmark email marketing to further your business. As we all know, email marketing is the best way to increase your business. So whichever followers you want to target, be sure that they are well inputted into your Benchmark account.


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3 Epic Hacks for Building Your Email List

3 Epic Hacks for Building Your Email List

Beyond • June 4, 2015

Your email marketing campaigns are only as effective as your email lists. Your email list is the coveted list of subscribers who have opted in on being part of your wonderful world. However, this is not as simple as it looks. Even customers and clients who have known you for years may not easily be converted as subscribers. In fact, they may not even know you have an email list or that it’s of any value to be part of it. This is where email list building hacks come in. Building your epic email list is as much perseverance as it is strategy. Of course, it’s a given that your email campaigns should have share-worthy content, and you can certainly encourage readers to share those campaigns. However, email list building strategies are about more than doing the obvious; it’s about thinking outside the box to create something of value. #1 The Right Kind of Pop-up The fact is, people are busy and their attention is divided just about any which way you can image. This is why if you create a pop up subscription form on your website, you’re meeting your subscriber half way. Make it easier for them and they will sign up. Social Media Examiner, for example, notes that about 70% of their nearly 200k subscribers are all sourced from email subscription pop-ups. #2 Launch a Contest Contests are great ways to get your audience excited about your email marketing campaign. Rules for entry can be as simple as being a subscriber and answering a question that either has a right answer or calls for a creative answer. If you do decide to run a contest, be sure to set clear terms. Determine whether you’re going to launch a monthly contest, a weekly contest or a one-time contest. Also, be sure to share your content notification on social media as well, which is where of your potential subscribers are. And of course, make a big deal of winners on social media. #3 Create Segmentation Options People are going to be interested in different things and it’s to your advantage to offer customization in your email campaigns. For example, I’m much more likely to opt in for an email subscription that gives me a few selections to choose from. In the context of a news website, I’ll opt in for weekly updates and features. This works to both parties’ advantage: I get what I want and the company has me opting in twice, ensuring that they’ll be able to create more opportunities for visibility and engagement. The same goes for your business. Some subscribers are vendors and some clients – and neither really needs to (nor wants to) see email marketing campaigns directed at the other. If you’re an agency, then perhaps your clients only want to opt in for email newsletters that cater to their own interests rather. If you’re a publication that features 3 or 4 different subjects, then your subscribers are also more likely to opt in for one or two, versus all four. Having subscription segmentation also gives you an inside look at what your subscribers want to see. You might be surprised by the results.


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New York Small Business Expo and Top Tips For Standing Out in NYC

New York Small Business Expo and Top Tips For Standing Out in NYC

Beyond • June 3, 2015

This week we\'re excited to be back at the New York Small Business Expo. We love seeing everybody in the Big Apple year after year and it got us thinking. All those folks we meet, why not ask some of the best and brightest in New York for their #1 tip for standing out as a small business in NYC? We\'re looking forward to sharing some of our own tips too. If you\'re in New York on Thursday, June 4th, come stop by our booth or attend one of our two presentations at the Small Business Expo: 2:15 PM Generate the Highest ROI with Email Marketing 3:30 PM How to Effectively Market Through Email @BenchmarkEmail be innovative and think outside the box while keeping cost minimal. You have to stand out in NYC — Brenda Anshanslin (@Cadillac_Creek) June 2, 2015 .@BenchmarkEmail #1 Tip. Be clear about the direction you want to go, always. You save TONS of time and money. If not you drive in circles. — Tiffany Largie (@tiffanylargie) June 2, 2015 .@BenchmarkEmail - Its all about your network! Check out http://t.co/69InO3u9ZT to learn more about how NY is cnxtng small biz with mentors — Business Mentor NY (@BizMentorNY) June 1, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail - Create amazing content that provides exceptional value & give it away! Oh, and email marketing of course ;) — List Popular (@ListPopular) June 1, 2015 One way.....Either offer something unique and different or be really good or great at what you do... https://t.co/7NFrHolzg3 — The Network Journal (@networkjournal) June 1, 2015 Top tip: @BenchmarkEmail would be don\'t be right, don\'t be busy ... Be productive — Jen Lew (@jenlew) June 1, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail Focus on the value you provide your customers rather than worrying about your competition, happy customers = big growth — Daniel Reitman (@DanielReitman) May 29, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail that\'s more than 140 character response my friend. but one can start with persistence — Jacqueline E (@helpbusinesses) May 29, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail Take advantage of everything 311 has to offer small businesses! Too many don\'t and most services are free or low cost! — Lena West (@lenawest) May 29, 2015 @BenchmarkEmail network with small biz owners & orgs that support local startups like @AlleyNYC. They\'ll offer support and help open doors. — Edgar Collado (@EddieC046) May 29, 2015


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We’re Gonna Need a Better Back: Katherine Krug

We’re Gonna Need a Better Back: Katherine Krug

Beyond • June 2, 2015

Katherine Krug was invited to the Heart of Business because of her tremendously successful KickStarter backed project, Better Back. We quickly learned how lucky we were to have her. She\'s made a career of helping people help themselves. It\'s the Better Back now, before it was Everest, an app to help you achieve your goals. It\'s impossible to listen to Katherine Krug and not want to go out and kick some butt. Katherine not only dishes out some great KickStarter advice and what it takes to get proof of product, but so much more. She talks about everything from being elbow deep in a Black Rhino to asking strangers on the street to test her product and beyond. Listen and enjoy!


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Coloring Books for Adults: A New Way to De-Stress and Shape the Innovative Business Mind

Coloring Books for Adults: A New Way to De-Stress and Shape the Innovative Business Mind

Beyond • June 1, 2015

The running theme of the 21st century has been innovation and creativity. It’s no surprise that at the same time our work environments are taking on more playful characteristics. We’ve seen juggernaut corporations like Google fully implement elements of play into their office interiors. Where once people walked down the stairs, they now slide to their next appointment. Where once office walls were the sacred space of heralded managers, we now see glass walls offer transparency and entire systems of management reshaped or dissolved thru holacracy. It’s not just spaces that have taken on a different child-like form. We see more playfulness in the language we use, in the graphic design and visual assets we create. We’re even seeing it in the marketing strategies of fast food giants like Taco Bell, with their Breakfast Defector campaign. Everything is geared towards playfulness. Now, we’re seeing one more element of childlike play weaved into our professional and personal lives – and that’s how we de-stress. Amidst all the changes in our workplace, the one thing that remains constant if not increased is the level of stress we face. Our environment and our approach to business may have changed, but we’re still faced with an increased demand to perform proactively in our day to day work life. That brings a high level of stress for which we’re turning to our inner child. Children have the right idea about how to spend life. Their days are filled with play and exploration. We’ve adapted some of that in our business innovation models. Now, innovators are finding ways to recapture more of some of that lost childhood by turning to coloring books as a way to de-stress. The trend was triggered by Johanna Basford, a Scottish illustrator whose Secret Garden-inspired coloring book is dominating the Amazon hit list. To date, she’s already sold 1.4 million copies worldwide – and she’s not the only one. Following Johanna are a flurry of other artist with deeply detailed coloring books that evoke imagination and mindfulness. They offer us a chance to escape, while others use it as an opportunity to switch off the conscious mind and let the subconscious sort through complex problems and challenges. Mindfulness, imagination, and problem solving are all elements of the innovative mind - the startup entrepreneur, the freelancer, the rogue thinker. We need these skills – in fact, the modern market place demands and rewards people with these characteristics. For us, it’s just a way to unplug. Flocking to simpler pleasures as a way to cope and make sense of an ever changing world is a relatively new social movement. Beyond coloring books, books geared toward adults are taking on simpler forms as well. Take for example Seth Godin’s V is for Vulnerable, a book about leadership that is discreetly packaged as if for a child. The shift toward childhood pleasures and simple messages is a way for us to remember that it doesn’t have to be complicated to work. Books don’t need to be complex to leave a lasting impression. Business models, products and services, also don’t need to be complicated. We don’t need to be complicated. And that’s the business lesson learned here: be playful and uncomplicated.


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10 Terrible, Awful, No Good Email Habits

10 Terrible, Awful, No Good Email Habits

Beyond • May 29, 2015

Email is digital communication royalty. Despite the trends that may surface among various shifting social platforms, email is that one constant that has not budged over the last twenty years. Email habits, however, are a different beast. As the way we communicate and engage each other has become more dynamic (and more demanding), the subtle art of email seems to escape a higher number of people each year. If you’re one of those people who feels they’re not every effective with email communication, consider that it could be because of your emailing habits. In a day and age where communication happens in remote micro moments, how you communicate can make or break your business success. So stop for a moment and take inventory of your email behavior to see if you’re guilty of any of these terrible email habits. The Lazy Subject Line The first mistake is not having a subject filled out. The second mistake is having a lazy subject line. Subject lines should never just be about the subject; it should be about the action and then the subject. So, for example if you’re sending over a document to review, your subject line should read like this… “For Review: ABC Project.” Include the action (for review) followed by the title of the project (ABC project). The Trigger Happy Email We’ve become so dependent on email communication that most of us now rely on email to communicate. While email is a great way to loop in multiple people in a conversation and to have a digital record of that communication, sometimes relying solely on email is a handicap. When dealing with customers, clients or even colleagues, its sometimes better to just pick up to phone or have a face to face conversation. The ability to decipher when to move past emails is a learned skill – but it’s an easy one to pick up. If you can tell the other person hasn’t fully understood what you’re saying, if they’re showing signs of frustration, or even if the conversation is taking a lot longer than it should – then it’s time to move on to another form of communication. Not Mirroring Your Reader People like doing business with those who have similar personalities. That said, if your reader is the somber type, then your emails should also reflect a somber tone. If your client loves happy faces in their emails, then go ahead and do the same. Successful email communication involves sharing just enough personality in emails without becoming unprofessional. Part of that art requires that you’re able to match the tone and context of your audience. Since email communication doesn’t include any affect that we’d find with tone of voice, body language and facial expressions, it’s really important to be able to learn how to communicate those things via email. The Diary Entry Emails were created for quick efficient communication. However, that purpose is lost when your emails read like a diary entry. It shouldn’t take your reader any more time than the length of the read to figure out what you’re trying to say. As a rule of thumb, get to the point quickly. Tell the reader what you’re emailing them about and what action you’d like them to take. Make it a priority to keep emails brief and to the subject. Underline or bold the action you want them to take or specific dates you need them to keep in mind. The easier you make it for others, the more success you’ll have with email communications.


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