Series Posts: Beyond

Benchmark Email FreshBooks Integration

Benchmark Email FreshBooks Integration

Beyond • May 11, 2015

Owning a small business can be a fun and fulfilling experience. Building your brand and an online marketing campaign truly is an exciting and creative process, but one challenge that every business owner faces is handling the more tough side of running a company…all the accounting and finances. It’s more than just merely crunching in numbers; it’s a complex task that requires hours, sometimes even days, to sort through. It is a lot to keep up with and even if you have the time and dedication, it can still get way out of hand. Don’t even think about keeping track of finances with a pen and notebook. That might have worked in the 18th century, but it is not sufficient to handle the fast-paced and multi-faceted world of businesses today. That’s why it is almost a necessity to use an accounting software to handle all finances. There are endless benefits to utilizing this tool, including speed and accuracy of procedure, as well as getting to see for yourself in real time the financial status of your company. That’s why Freshbooks is the top choice among business owners to help handle accounting in a speedy and efficient way. Freshbooks is a cloud-based accounting software service designed to help send invoices, track time, capture expenses, etc. Plus, it will save you all those hours that you would have wasted trying to do all your business accounting yourself. Best of all, the software also has several new plugins you can use to enhance your business. Increase your brand awareness and strengthen customer relationships with email marketing; the number one proven strategy to boost your sales and your business. Try the Benchmark Email Freshbooks integration and see for yourself. How to Integrate: Log in to your Benchmark account Click on Integration under My Account Scroll down to FreshBooks Insert your FreshBooks Site Name Insert the FreshBooks API token. To find this, go to My Account in FreshBooks. Then, under your API setting, check the box for Enable API. Ignore the URL and just use the token. You will be returned to the Third-Party Integration page. (You can scroll down to the Salesforce panel and click the Test Connection button to verify the connection status. Email addresses and names should appear in the box.) Hit CONNECT.


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Is Mobile Killing Your Email Campaign?

Is Mobile Killing Your Email Campaign?

Beyond • May 6, 2015

If you’re finding that your email campaigns aren’t converting for mobile, then the likely culprit behind that failed conversion is your email content and design. With mobile users toppling past about 66% of digital consumers, it’s no longer just an option to optimize emails. In fact, if Google’s new algorithm announcement is anything to go by, mobile optimization is now a basic business practice – or at least is should be. And if Google’s announcement hasn’t startled you into action, then this should: 75% of emails that aren’t optimized for mobile will delete the email campaign without reading it. Engagement Levels Define Mobile Click-Through Rates There are likely several paired reasons for why that percentage is so high. It’s not just about formatting. Sure, if you’re email campaign isn’t formatted for mobile, it makes the user experience highly cumbersome and time-consuming. However, it’s also about the level of engagement mobile users expect compared to traditional desktop consumers. Mobile users prefer language to be targeted, personal, and action-oriented. That said, having formality in your campaigns, whether it’s in the title of your message or the subject line, doesn’t offer an invitation to keep reading. Add to it the fact that it matters who we’re receiving email campaigns from. As Mark J. Hiemstra in an Unbounce article titled “Why No One is Reading Your Emails on Mobile,” points out, “Instead of sending the email from your company as a whole, send it from a specific person with a face and a name.” In fact, according to Crazy Egg, there’s a 29% increase in open rates when there’s some sort of personification behind a sender beyond just “customer support,” “customer service,” or even “admin.” Demographics Aren’t as Clear-Cut as You’d Imagined in Mobile At one point, we could say that it’s the millennial generation that using mobile. While that’s true, the fact is that mobile consumption is a way of life for most tech users. Brafton recently conducted a study where they found that, “People between the ages of 35 and 44 represent the highest saturation of smartphone news consumption at 73 percent, followed closely behind by every age bracket besides the 65+ crowd.” However, mobile shopping is also a highly prevalent form of mobile consumption, and email marketing is a strong platform to reach that audience. If your industry is retail, then keep your emails image-rich and content clean. Have clear calls to action and make it easy to buyers to follow through. The Lesson Learned in Mobile Marketing The lesson learned here is that if you’re not integrating mobile into your regular email marketing campaign, you’re sabotaging your own efforts. Whether you’re using email marketing campaigns for content driven campaigns, or image-driven campaigns for retail, you have to keep the end user in mind. Today, that end user is looking to consume content while at lunch during the workday, while standing in line, or while watching TV. Their ability to engage and convert needs to be made as easy as possible. If that path isn’t paved for them with mobile optimization and mobile-friendly content, then you’re losing your audience. When that pattern is repeated, then you begin losing subscribers.


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5 Ways to Merge Social Media with Email Marketing

5 Ways to Merge Social Media with Email Marketing

Beyond • May 4, 2015

When you’re marketing on multiple platforms, the question you should ask yourself is which platform are you looking to act as bait and which one is meant to act as the converter. Yet, the real question here is: are you even factoring in social media when launching an email marketing campaign? The answer to this question will mostly echo a resounding and confident yes. However, the reality is that most companies are only going as far as linking their email marketing campaign on social. There’s a whole lot more you can be doing to merge social media marketing with email marketing. Using Social to Trigger Conversations If, for example, you’re looking to attract more conversions, donations and sales, then you should using a custom graphic on social media to link to your email campaign. When writing copy for that post, consider your audience’s perspective. They’re not going to care as much if your email campaign is a brilliant essay on the changing trends in your industry. For most people, even those who are interested, this is yet another thing they need to process; this would be yet another call to action for their time. Instead, you should pull a pivotal issue from your copy and pose that as a trigger question that evokes a strong response or opinion. When all else fails, you can always ask a question that gets people curious. In order to satisfy that curiosity, they would need to click on your resourceful link. This way, you’re successfully utilizing social media as bait that’s driving people to your standalone email campaign URL. It also sets the social share apart from the other instance when you’re directly sharing the campaign URL. As any social media marketer knows, you want to post key shares multiple times. Typically, you would stagger the same share across a span of weeks or months. However, depending on the rate at which you’re posting content on social, you can get creative about how you’re sharing. In this case, rather than just recycling a post, you can change the graphic and post copy. Now, you have a brand new post and are likely drawing in clickers that may not have been otherwise interested in the original self-serving social share. Uploading Subscribers to Social Media Accounts One of the lesser known, out-of-the-box, ways to merge social with email is to actually link your email lists to various social accounts. Most social platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, all have a way to easily upload email contacts. This is particularly useful for running customized ads to an existing audience base that you might be trying to reconvert or reinforce brand recognition among. Jimmy Daly has a wonderful post on BufferSocial titled “6 Creative Way to Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing,” in which he gives picture guided, step-by-step directions on how to link email lists to various social accounts. Uploading Subscribers to Social Media Accounts Jimmy also directs readers to another great article that inspires with a creative way to send emails without actually every sending an email. The trick is to use LinkedIn groups as a way to get premier email marketing access without actually trying to secure top-tier priority in someone’s inbox. This revelation was unveiled by Scott Van, who writes “How I Caught Copyblogger Sneaking into My Inbox.” By creating a LinkedIn discussion group where the already pouring in flood of comments could be hosted (and made more widely visible while neatly being archived), Copyblogger ensured that each and every participant who opted in would get automated email updates from a trusted platform: LinkedIn. The real lesson here though is to always consider how social is evolving. The routes between social and email aren’t quite so traditional anymore; there are fewer and fewer opportunities for one-way conversations as we see with the Copyblogger example.


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Using the Benchmark Email Shopify Integration

Using the Benchmark Email Shopify Integration

Beyond • May 1, 2015

Almost everything can be done online these days, and shopping is no exception. Purchasing items with just a click of a button is fast becoming the primary way to shop, and that’s why e-Commerce websites should be a business owner’s way of expanding his business. Just because customers are taking their shopping online doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off and relax for the owner. Whatever it was about the store that drew customers in in the first place should also be found on the site. This should include design of the website, customer engagement, as well as incentives to return. First of all, appearance is everything. We hear that it isn’t in day to day life, but when it comes to an online store, looks play a big part. Just like how you wouldn’t want to shopin a store that is plain, dusty-smelling, and has stains on the wall, you also wouldn’t want to shop on a website that looks barren, with bad Photoshop and broken links. The appearance of your site will directly affect how long your customers choose to remain on the site, so make it look pretty! Second is customer engagement. It used to be where people just go online, buy, and then leave. Not anymore. Nowadays, people expect the same customer service online as they would in a store. Don’t you hate it when you are in a store shopping and you need assistance with reaching a sweater that is hung up really high, or want to grab a fitting room but there is no one to help you? Shopping experience instantly ruined. So make sure your e-commerce site has a customer service number or chat to assist your customers. Not only that, but also add some extra tidbits to make purchasing easier for them, i.e. shirts sizing charts, what to give as presents for certain holidays, etc. Lastly, perks! We love it when after our cashier rings up our purchases and she slips a “10% off your next purchase” coupon into our shopping bag. Isn’t that one of the reasons why we keep coming back to our favorite stores, especially when our benefits will add up? Think of a way to show your customers your appreciation and give them an incentive to come back. Nobody can turn down a good discount. So ready to get started? Use the Benchmark Email Shopify Integration to amp up your e-commerce site. Shopify is one of the leading softwares that help build and maintain your e-commerce site. Highly rated for offering endless options to customize your site and plenty of integrations that will not only make the shopping experience easier and more fun for customers, but it will gradually build brand awareness. Of all the integrations to utilize, email marketing is one of the top! There is no better way to maintain good relationships and communication with your customers. Gather all your Shopify customers into your Benchmark contact list instantly with our new integration.


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This is How You’re Blowing Your Budget When Working with a Creative Agency

This is How You’re Blowing Your Budget When Working with a Creative Agency

Beyond • April 30, 2015

Signing up with a marketing, advertising, or public relations can be a pretty monumental step in your business growth. You’re going to be working with a bunch of creative cut-throat Mad Men types, and you’re their number one star – you’re their client! Yet, here’s the thing... They’re not working for you. They’re working with you. What any creative agency will tell you if they have an honest conversation with you, is that they need you to work with them in order to maximize your investment. However, the reality that this doesn’t happen for a number of reasons, due to mainly failures in scheduling and failures in communication. Failures in Scheduling Any creative agency you work with, whether a start-up for a big name company, needs to know what’s on your agenda in order to respond to it appropriately and in a timely manner. Failing to inform them of an event only limits their ability to prepare some opportunity to visibility, preferably one that can be scaled. Case in point: Your company just booked a role on a major TV show, such as the History Channel or TLC. However, if you’re waiting until the last minute to notify your collaborative agency, then there’s only so much they can do. Keep in mind that they need to secure Trade Agreement Releases from the media company. They’ll need to plan out social, possibly create graphics, get the info on your home page, and draft a press release that will have a lengthy approval process considering all parties involved. This takes time – and if you’re not giving your agency the advanced notice to take these steps, then you’re limiting the reach you have from any potential opportunity. Remember that it’s not so much what you do; it’s how many people see what you do. And that’s really what creative teams are all about. They’re about helping you maximize visibility. One way to thwart this problem is to keep invested in creative meetings that you agency has set out for you. These tend to happen on a weekly or monthly basis. Make sure you show up and are ready to go with the information they need. Failures in Communication The culprit behind any failed collaborative initiative is almost always a failure in communication. Bottlenecked communications means lost opportunity and wasted dollars. You can take steps to prevent this problem by having a project manager on your end to help facilitate any creative, marketing, or ad investments you’re making. Chances are that the agency will have an account executive dedicated to your company. This helps funnel communication through one point person. On the same note, you should have one point person in your company funneling communication back to the agency. Simply put, you need to offer up a marketing liaison. The marketing agency you hired needs a high level of collaboration – unless you’re working with a marketing “chop shop.” Having someone who understands all aspects of marketing, who happens to be working as your internal marketing manager, ensures that you’re getting someone “on your side” who knows how to best utilize an agency. If you can get someone who understands both marketing and PR, consider yourself lucky. This person will not only understand content, design, social media, and SEO, but they’ll also understand PR opportunities and know who to encourage and support those efforts. Another way to think about communication is to think of everyone’s department and their respective roles. Most agencies will give you a break down but you can request a conversation with each person (10) minutes that really helps you understand them and what they do. Once you really understand who’s who and what they do, you can better plan your efforts so that you’re maximizing the in-house team for which you’re paying.


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Confessions of an Email Marketing Hoarder

Confessions of an Email Marketing Hoarder

Beyond • April 29, 2015

At this precise moment, I have exactly 48,979 emails in my Gmail account. Most of these are email marketing campaigns. As a writer with an interest in multiple fields, I’ve long relied on emails to keep track of everything from internal communications, idea generation, and research files. I’ve been doing this before there was Pocket, Evernote, or any of the other amazing filing and bookmarking tools. In fact, email still is one of my key information archiving tools because I know there are literally hundreds of thousands of pieces of information that have been accruing since the start of my email addiction. Over the years I’ve seen email trends change more rapidly. Whereas before you were digitally exotic if you had a newsletter, you’re now one of millions. Some marketers have tried to adapt, including adding custom templates in emails. Yet, unless you have compelling content, even the best template can only go so far. And among those who have emphasized content, there are still a Swiss cheese assortment of holes in their campaigns. Tens of thousands of email campaigns later, here’s what I’ve learned about newsletter campaigns from a consumer perspective. The One Thing I Wished Email Marketing Campaigns Stopped Doing Talk about themselves – and I mean a lot, like always talking about themselves. It’s boring. Please stop. If you’re always talking about yourself, it shows a crippling disregard for your subscribers. Email marketing campaigns that are notorious for this failure of email etiquette are mostly from one industry: new media. It can be social media, new media, business to business products, software as a service – whatever the specific business type is, it’s a business that stems from new media. These types excitedly talk about themselves, their events and their services or products, without ever really listening to their guests. That’s exactly what an email subscriber is when they sign up: they’re you’re guest. You would have a guest knock at your door only to talk endlessly about yourself; you wouldn’t avoid offering them anything of value to consume or be inconsiderate of the time they have available to be in your home. If such behavior is discourteous in “real life,” then it’s certainly discourteous in your business life. What I Looked For When Deciding Which Email Campaigns to Keep While I haven’t quite yet embarked on an “Inbox Zero” journey, I do plan on sifting through emails to trim down the herd. Namely, I’m looking for one thing: emails that haven’t piqued my interest in over a year. The rule for spring cleaning your wardrobe, for example, is to toss out anything that you haven’t worn in a year. The same goes for email campaigns. If it’s been a year since you haven’t paused to consider what they had to say, then you know you need to move on. Why I Wish Email Marketers Considered the Content Cycle For those email campaigns that haven’t broken the cardinal sin of being too self-serving without providing me with anything useful, I wish they factored in the big picture. When it comes to email marketing, the big picture (at least from my perspective as a content strategist/writer) is to consider where your information is going. Does it being and die with email campaigns or is that information stored elsewhere? If so, how is it organized and how can I access it? Thinking about email as more than just a dart on a board that you have to hit, and instead thinking of it as a piece of a greater puzzle that is your brand, will help marketers sketch out the full spectrum of their content cycle.


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Picture Perfect: Executive Image Consulting with Sylvie di Giusto

Picture Perfect: Executive Image Consulting with Sylvie di Giusto

Beyond • April 28, 2015

We\'ve pretty much all been on the job hunt at one point in our lives and know all the nerves that come with it. What should we wear? What should we say? Sylvie di Giusto has all those answers and more. As an Executive Image Consultant she\'ll teach you how to look and act any part for which you\'re auditioning. Sylvie shares all aspects you must consider for your image. It isn\'t only your behavior and your attire. She also shares some words of inspiration she\'s received throughout the years that keeps her going. It\'s a fun and educational episode. Listen and enjoy!


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New Feature: Simple Layout

New Feature: Simple Layout

Beyond • April 27, 2015

Using an email service provider, you get several advantages. Reports are one of them. You can see who is opening your emails and if (and what) links are clicked. Sometimes, you don’t need as many of the other bells and whistles. That’s why we’ve introduced your Simple Layout. This is a new layout that helps you create simple and basic emails, while keeping all HTML formatting options such as text styles and the ability to add images. So, where can this Simple Layout be found? Click on the Layouts tab in the Email Designer Select the Simple Layout It’s that easy! There’s no clutter and no fuss. You can create simple, basic emails that are straight and to the point. This may be used for when you have an important message to deliver that doesn’t need any frills. Some companies may use this feature for transactional emails. Others may use them as internal notifications within your company. Companies that do email marketing internationally, may find that some countries prefer simple emails with only text. Regardless of how you put them to use, we just wanted to make sure you knew they were there.


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Following Up After Your Event

Following Up After Your Event

Beyond • April 23, 2015

A ton of hard work and preparation goes into putting on an event. Depending on the size, it might be almost a full year of blood, sweat and tears. The day of your event often feels like the finish line. Just that one last push until you’re finished. The last of your attendees will exit and you can finally catch your breath. You know the narrative, right? Except, that’s not the end. What you do in the aftermath of your event is just as important as the event itself. There needs to be follow up. Don’t let them forget about you once your event has ended. It’s important to stay top of mind. There’s a lifecycle to event marketing and your follow up is an integral part of that. Shortly after your event, you should send an email to thank your attendees for coming. It can start with a simple thank you, but adding some highlights or favorite photos from the event is a good touch too. Perhaps inform your attendees of some additional follow up as well. Give them something to look forward to. A few days to a week after your event, you should send some event takeaways to your attendees. This could be slides from a presentation or key points from one of your speakers. This works in two ways. Those that attended your event can refer back to the lessons they learned. It also works to keep non attendees in the fold. Where you go from there depends on the frequency of your events. If they’re relatively frequent, the next event follow up email can be about your upcoming events. You don’t want to start promoting new events to early or your subscribers will forget about it. In place of that, you can find some other tidbits from your event to share. It really depends on the type of event. If it was a networking event, maybe share a story of two individuals who connected at the event and are now partnering on something. If it was a webinar, share a new way to put one of your lessons to use. Whatever it is, just stay on the minds of your attendees. Keep them in the loop so that your company will always be the first thing that comes to mind when it’s time to purchase your product or service.


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