Series Posts: Beyond

Benchmark Holiday Email Marketing Calendar

Benchmark Holiday Email Marketing Calendar

Beyond • March 11, 2015

Standard email marketing best practices suggest you should send to your contacts at least once per month. That way, they won’t forget about you. This is most often accomplished with a monthly newsletter. However, there are other options available to you, which will allow you to break the monthly newsletter mold and have a bit more fun. Holiday email marketing allows you to deliver some cheer to the inbox of your subscribers. However, that’s not all that it does for you. You can also use a holiday themed template to switch up the look and feel of your email campaigns. This will keep things fresh for your subscribers and keep your emails from feeling stale. Many holidays lend themselves to sales, but don’t underestimate the branding power of simply wishing your subscribers a happy and healthy holiday. Or perhaps you can share a favorite personal memory from a given holiday. Test things out and see what works for you. Benchmark Email has long offered all sorts of holiday themed email templates. They look awesome and create quick, fun and easy email campaigns. This year, we’ve also created a holiday email marketing calendar. There’s a landing page with tips and ideas for each holiday. Plus, with these instructions you can set up notifications to be reminded of each pending holiday. Subscribe to the Google Calendar How to set up notifications for Google Calendar. Subscribe with Mac Mail or Outlook. How to set up notifications for Mac Mail.


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Curt Keller: The Spark Behind Benchmark

Curt Keller: The Spark Behind Benchmark

Beyond • March 10, 2015

Curt Keller is the CEO and co-founder of Benchmark Email. For a podcast all about pursuing passions through business and the heart behind your job ... we dropped the ball by not having Curt on sooner. He\'s a big driving force behind the company culture we have at Benchmark and the man we all call boss. It was a fun chance to pick Curt\'s brain and maybe discover some bits and pieces we\'ve never known. It\'s a look back to how Benchmark Email began and where it might go. Find out how Curt grew Benchmark Email to where it is and what he needed to get it there. Curt\'s inspirational book: Think and Grow Rich! - Napoleon Hill


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Giving Your Office the X-Factor: What You Need for an Incredibly Cool Workspace

Beyond • March 6, 2015

Quite possibly the saddest thing in the world is a company that looks great online but rather dilapidated in person. Unfortunately, this is most companies – and here’s why. Today’s cultural currency means that your value as a company is derived from not only what you can offer your clients, but the cultural value they receive. The same holds true for recruitment when trying to hold your company as superior to the competition in order to attract the most innovative recruits. So what does that cultural currency really mean? First, it’s beyond what your digital presence may be. It’s quite easy to create a glossy website and some excellently branded marketing materials – but does that ‘vibe’ carry over to your in-person presence? Answering that question involves taking one brief glance at your work environment and asking what your office (and your employees) look like. If there are only light traces of innovative spirt and bright, enthusiastic employees, then you’re missing what I call the “x-factor” of company culture. You can fix this though and I’ve provided some super quick and easy ways to do it. And, as I’m sure you’ll find, adding these hacks to your office will have a positive effect on your employees, inspiring them to be more innovative and imaginative – and excited about coming to work every day. Chalkboard Walls Though you may have seen this idea on Pinterest, it works really great in a corporate environment. Having multiple chalkboard walls is a really dynamically way to speak out loud. Try having one wall reserved for guests and visitors, and another for employees to doodle on. Punching Bags Aside from being just incredibly cool-looking, having a punching bag promotes mental and physical fitness, and gives the company a gritty feel that says “we’re not afraid to work hard and break a sweat.” For extra measure, add a speed bag too. For a lot of people, a working a speed bag is like stretching out on a yoga mat. It’s calming and stress-relieving. A Wellness Room You can find a better name for it than that, but this room should really be well-decorated in soothing hues with dim lights and comfortable couches. It can be a place for employees to go to catch a quick lunch-time nap, de-stress, having a more intimate meeting or chat, or simply to catch a quick breather in-between projects. If you can’t have a wellness room, have wellness “tents.” Two or three floor to ceiling canopy tents anchored with comfortable rugs and pillows is a stunning (and useful) office statement – and a great place to have a quick 10 minute brainstorm or meeting. Toys Who doesn’t love toys? Toys remind us to play, experiment and not take ourselves too seriously. I recommend having a lot of toys laying around – on desks, on breakout tables, conference tables. Some really great ideas include kinetic sand, brain teaser puzzles, smaller sensory gadgets that you’d find at specialty stores, and even Legos. In fact, having a very large tray or pit of kinetic sand running through your conference table is not only super creative, but also gives people something to do during all those long meetings. A Proper Kitchen Though not all companies have the space for this, having a proper kitchen is a really communal piece that brings people together. You see these more in co-working spaces. Perhaps that’s something to keep in mind as you outgrow your current space. A kitchen gives you a chance to host a weekly lunch for your work family, and even create team building opportunities around cooking challenges that pair people up that may otherwise not work together. Branding Your Workspace You see this often in companies that are dominated by one aesthetic, and usually it’s either a more masculine aesthetic or it’s overly generic of what you imagine a typical agency to look like. Try this: give each employees $100 to “brand” their workspace with things that reflect them. Of course, create guidelines, but encourage them to spend half a work day to go out, get what they want, and really make their space their own. Not only is it a quick way to bring a space to live, it also creates a feeling of ownership which often translates to better work output. The theory being that you’re more inclined to offer higher quality work if it’s something you truly feel is yours.


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Benchmark Email Magento Integration

Benchmark Email Magento Integration

Beyond • March 5, 2015

It’s hard to think of an item that you can’t buy online these days (if you ever wanted to try bacon-flavored toothpaste, you can go ahead and simply purchase that off the internet!). So with anything and everything being sold online, as a business owner you ought to take your store from physical to digital too! There are many things to consider when starting an e-commerce site. Just because your site is for making online purchases doesn’t mean it has to look boring. Remember that your online store is still a store nonetheless. How did you decorate your store to draw in passerby? Apply those same things to your e-commerce site too! It has to look appealing, be easy to use, and leave a lasting impression in order of customers to trust your site and keep coming back! Here are some things to consider when building your site: Make sure that the “buy” button is subtle and blends in with the theme of the site. Don’t blow up the buy button into the size of an elephant and in neon yellow color; that it just makes the entire page look less appealing. Have the buy button in a considerable size but don’t let it overpower the entire page. Have each product have a short but very detailed description. Be sure to list out the exact measurement, weight, color, etc. Customers really appreciate that. Organize your products in categories that will make each item to find, and have each category be its own landing page. A search bar at the top of the page wouldn’t hurt either! Add a sign up box for customers to add their email address, so they have received newsletters, coupons, updates, and then anything else you would like to send to them! Or you can just create a Magento account to make everything much easier for you to get started. It 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 for payment processing, social media, and now, email marketing to increase your brand and strengthen customer relations. Try the Benchmark Email Magento integration and see for yourself! Log in to your Benchmark account Click on Integration under My Account Scroll down to Magento Go Chose one of your Signup Forms Copy the code generated in the box Open up your Magento Go Store Administration Panel Click on the Configuration link from the System dropdown menu Select the Design link from the left-hand menu Paste your signup form code in the Miscellaneous HTML box in the Footer section Click the Save Config button at the top of the page


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How to Self-Edit Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

How to Self-Edit Your Blog Posts Like a Pro

Beyond • March 4, 2015

Whether you are a seasoned writer or a small business owner blogging for the first time, writing is the easy part. It’s the spelling, grammar, and editing that gives people fits. If you have the first draft of your blog post done, good news: the hard part is over. Once your ideas are on paper (or on screen), it’s a lot easier to refine or rewrite them. We’ve put together a few editing tips that will take your rough drafts from paltry to publishable. Take a Break Don’t go straight from writing your post to editing it. Take a walk, run an errand, hit the gym – just get away from your post. I like to return to my rough drafts a full day later. Looking at your writing with fresh eyes will help you see the flaws in your logic, delete what is unnecessary, or determine what needs to be expanded. Remember Your Readers When you edit, always ask “how does this help my reader?” You’re writing the post because it has value for your audience, so make sure that value is clear to you and to them. Active vs. Passive Voice Passive voice is when something happens to someone; active voice is when someone does something. Here are some examples – which sentence sounds better? Jim was running to the bus. Jim ran to the bus. Probably the second one, right? That’s because the second one is in active voice, not passive. Active voice indicates confidence in your argument, makes your writing punchier, and clarifies your point. Confusing active and passive voice is common blogging blunder, along with these 10 common grammar errors. Short Sentences Longer sentences are harder to understand, so keep your sentences short and to the point. Don’t be afraid of sentence fragments. Seriously. They help break up your content, and they’re a great way to express your personality and keep your tone light-hearted and enjoyable. Don’t Use Jargon Unless you’re writing for a very specific audience, use plain English words that anyone can understand. Jargon can alienate your audience and make your argument unclear. Verbs and Adverbs Use exciting verbs. Instead of “walked,” try “sauntered.” Or instead of “ate,” try “devoured.” Boring verbs are, well, boring. Using animated verbs eliminates the need for adverbs. For example, instead of staying “Jim ran quickly to the bus”, try “Jim sprinted to the bus.” Only use an adverb if it changes or affects the ultimate meaning of your sentence – if you’re using an adverb to intensify an action, pick a punchier verb. Read Out Loud I always read my blog posts out loud because it helps me find sentences that don’t flow properly. Blog posts should be conversational, and reading your writing out loud helps you find where your post reads a bit too formal or informal. It also helps me locate any wayward typos or grammar errors, even ones that I missed on my first four or five rounds of editing. The editing phase is when you take your blog posts from average to extraordinary. Don’t be afraid to completely rip apart your first draft! That’s what first drafts are for. If you still think your posts need improvement, have a writing buddy edit them. A fresh pair of eyes is always a good idea!


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Top Flight Customer Experience with Rick Blatstein

Top Flight Customer Experience with Rick Blatstein

Beyond • March 3, 2015

It is Rick Blatstein\'s goal to have people want to get to the airport early, not just need to. He does this with a focus on the customer experience. His restaurants and other airport excursions use technology and an eye towards consumer needs to set the standard for the airport experience. With his company, OTG, Blatstein defines what it means to thrive by providing a top notch customer service experience. With all the horror stories surrounding airports and air travel these days, his business provides an oasis for travelers. OTG sets a standard for the customer experience … and all businesses should take note. Listen and enjoy!


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Benchmark Email Flickr Integration

Benchmark Email Flickr Integration

Beyond • February 26, 2015

An email campaign without pictures is like food without salt, trees without leaves, a woman without makeup, Santa Claus without presents…you get the drift. Colorful and engaging photos breath life into an average email, makes the content ten times more interesting, and overall just completes the email. You can have the best writing skills or the most powerful message in your email, but words on a blank page can only have so much effect on the reader. A good photo will enhance when your message you are trying to share to your readers and leave a more lasting impression. In fact, here are some proven facts about why visual content in email marketing is a necessity. 90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. Publishers who use infographics grow in traffic an average of 12% more than those who don’t. 67% of consumers are more likely to click on a business whose images appear in search results. The average person only reads about 20% of text on a regular page. 65% of people are visual learners. So as a business owner, what is the best photo sharing service to use in conjunction with your email marketing? Flickr is one of the top sites on the Internet, best rated for its superior editing tools, massive storage space and ease of use. Best of all, you can know integrate your Flickr account with your Benchmark Email account to use together. This simple integration allows you to personalize your email marketing that will tell a story about who you are and what your business does. With a few clicks of your mouse, you can share your Flickr photos with your friends and subscribers, promote company events, spice up your newsletters and spread the fun with one of the most widely used and beloved image hosting sites on the net. Access Flickr via your Benchmark Email Image Gallery, for free! To integrate: On Step 4 of your Email Editor, click on the Image option in your Insert Additional Elements Panel In the Insert Image screen, select the Insert from Flickr tab Log in to your Yahoo account and authorize Benchmark Email to access Flickr images Select the desired image and click the Insert button to add it to your email campaign Sources: Infographic Effectiveness Statistics Why Every SEO Strategy Needs Infographics Create great lead-gen campaigns 9 Informative Infographics To Guide Your Visual Content Marketing


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A Recipe For Success with LA Cookie Con’s Nancy Tei

A Recipe For Success with LA Cookie Con’s Nancy Tei

Beyond • February 24, 2015

Nancy Tei and her husband organized a first time event, the LA Cookie Con & Sweets Expo, and turned it into a sold out, not-to-be-missed extravaganza. Folks lined up outside, waiting hours just to sample the delicious treats inside. Hear Nancy\'s story and her recipe for success at the LA Cookie Con. Hear us chat about some of the incredible vendors at this year\'s Con as well as discussion on some cookie cosplay. Nancy tells us where the event can grow from here as well. Listen and enjoy!


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Benchmark Email Zapier Integration: CRMs

Benchmark Email Zapier Integration: CRMs

Beyond • February 23, 2015

Nobody enjoys feeling like they’re being marketed to. It makes you feel manipulated. That’s why targeted, relevant marketing is more important than it has ever been. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) allows businesses to collect data and relationship history on each individual customer and lead. This allows you to segment your lists and target the appropriate campaigns at your subscribers. With the new Benchmark Email Zapier Integration, you can connect your Benchmark Email accounts to most of the top CRM tools out there. Benchmark Email already had great integrations with Salesforce, Zoho and Highrise, but this Zapier integration adds many more CRMs to the list. Import to Benchmark Email Perhaps you’re already using one of the many awesome CRM tools that Zapier connects to. You’ve already got that information gold sitting there in your account for that tool. Now when you add a new contact to your CRM, you can import that data directly to your Benchmark email list. You’ve done the organization work and email collection already in your CRM, so take advantage of it for your email marketing. Export to your CRMs from Benchmark Email Say you starting using Benchmark Email before adopting a CRM tool. That’s OK too! Now that you’ve graduated to including a CRM in your marketing repertoire, any new contact can be exported from your Benchmark Email list data to your CRM tool. Putting The Integrations to Use Say you’ve got a segment of your list that prefers one type of products. Your CRM could tell you that information. Maybe it’s a clothing line and we’re talking men’s clothing and women’s clothing. The men don’t need to be updated on the latest women’s trends and vice versa. By targeting these segments with the most relevant data, you can keep your subscribers happy and for longer. On the other side, perhaps you’ve done an excellent job cultivating your email lists. You’ve put signup forms on your website, Facebook page and anywhere else potential subscribers may be. You’ve got names, emails addresses and maybe other valuable data such as phone numbers, names of businesses, etc. That is all useful information to have in your CRM as well ... and Zapier is the easiest way to get them there.


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The Quarterly Newsletter Your Audience Needs

The Quarterly Newsletter Your Audience Needs

Beyond • February 20, 2015

When it comes to marketing, nothing beats good old-fashioned get-in-you-hands, print. At least, nothing beats print when two things are happening. The first is that your audience is having their attention increasingly fought for in repeat attempts across multiple platforms. The second is that an older demographic still responds favorably to print; a younger demographic responds well to visually stimulating content, especially in print. This is not to say that print replaces digital newsletters or that the two are in any way equal. The statistics for increased mobile usage shows that the opposite is true. However, if you’re wanting to completely saturate the market, you’re going to need to go all the way – and that means including a quarterly newsletter into your content arsenal. 6 Reasons You Need a Quarterly Newsletter Consultant Michael Stamo delivers a winning blog post on his personal website, titled “6 Reasons Why Print Newsletters Will Help Your Business Prosper.” Sharing only the top 3 here (you’ll have to go to his site for the rest), these reasons offer clear and concise calls to action for any business debating how to grow their business and wondering why print would be a viable option. According to Stamo, print newsletters (1) build stronger relationships with customers, (2) they get a longer lasting marketing moment and (3) they dominate the mailbox in light of the fact that no one’s really sending print marketing materials anymore. How to Plan Your Quarterly Newsletter Cost becomes a factor when you’re planning a quarterly newsletter. For starters, it’s expensive to print and there’s a lot more involved logistically and a higher margin for error, which is why a slowly curated quarterly approach is best. You can curate content by looking at what’s already going into your blog content, email campaigns, along with any creative visuals you might be working on like infographics. Choose cream of the crop posts and pair it with a “culture” piece discussing either your company culture, philanthropic achievements, or local information that highlights a collaboration with another organization. You can also take your press releases and redraft them into newsletter articles. And of course, take this opportunity to discuss any upcoming events and give people a clear opportunity to get involved. Second, you want to have a strategy. Ask yourself why you’re wanting to have this quarterly newsletter; each industry is likely to have its own agenda, and that’s completely acceptable. Understanding that you need an agenda then helps you plan how to organize, design, and distribute your newsletter. Perhaps you want to start with a specific segment, run an A/B test, increase traffic of conversion – whatever it is, your end goal will determine your strategy. After your content strategy is determined, the next step is going over the newsletter design. The most cost-effective layout is a fold up that readers can open up into one full page. The fold-up can be either in 2, 4 or 6 equal parts; having it in three parts will just make it look like a brochure. Later on, once you’ve established your audience and can guarantee readership, it would be worthwhile to create a thin booklet that offers more in-depth content, with either editorial content, informative articles and/or rich visuals. At this point you’ll also have to shift past curating content and into developing fresh original content for your quarterly newsletter – though, of course, you should always offer a summary and even teaser copy of your best content pieces in the previous quarter. Once you’ve developed a strategy for planning and creating your print newsletter, the next step is to market it. Market your newsletter through a sign-up landing page, and announce it in a press release, an email blast and on social media. Discuss why you’re branching out into quarterly print newsletters and what this offers your audience. As a final step, cross promote your print newsletter in your existing email strategy. Your email campaigns, for example, should include some verbiage that links to a landing page to sign up for quarterly newsletters.


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