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Effective Email Marketing Practices

Effective Email Marketing Practices

Beyond • July 17, 2009

Building a successful email marketing campaign is a lot like constructing a pyramid. Your email campaign requires a firm foundation that you can build on. To generate success, ensure a solid base is laid down before you launch a full scale campaign. Take a look at the foundation points mentioned below that will help you build campaigns effectively: 1. Provide for quick unsubscription Your emails must display a prominent opt-out link that readers can access easily. Keep in mind the following pointers: Readers who click the opt-out link should be removed immediately. Some readers request unsubscription through an email message; in such cases do the needful as soon as possible. Always be polite while confirming unsubscription. 2. Ensure consistent emails Consistency is the key to an effective email marketing campaign. Use the following practices to ensure regularity: Adhere to selected delivery times and frequencies for sending email messages. Ensure error-free email messages. This practice includes maintaining suitable text-image ratio at all times. Maintain consistent layouts or templates for email messages. This might help create a strong bond with readers because they expect a certain look and feel. 3. Create effective subject lines Creating the perfect subject line is tricky. Readers take a half-a- second glance at your email topic and make a decision; a subject line that doesn’t pass the test results in instant deletion – there are no second chances.  To create an impactful subject line, ensure you use the following pointers: Keep a clear goal in mind and formulate the tone of your subject line accordingly. ‘Increasing click-through rates’ and ‘expanding client lists’ are examples of objectives you can use to set the tone of your subject lines. Keep your subject line short – preferably between four to seven words. Always keep your subject line to the point. Do not deviate from your goal. Avoid using spam words such as ‘free’, ‘hello’ and ‘buy’ in your subject line. These words have an adverse effect on customers’ minds and generally lead to instant deletion of emails. Use the brand name of the product in the subject line. Research indicates that readers are more likely to ‘open’ emails when subject lines include products’ brand names. 4. Always obtain permission Obtaining permission from prospective customers might set the base for a successful email marketing campaign. Acquiring permission is beneficial for the following reasons: It protects your reputation. It provides better results for your campaign as the people who receive your emails are genuinely interested in your products or services. It prevents your emails from being labeled spam. 5. Personalize your email messages Never underestimate the power of personalization! Want to know why? Reaching out personally to your readers can result in a jump in reading and click-through rates by as much as 650%! Using a reader’s name either in the subject line or in the email, grabs the attention of the reader immediately. Seeing their names acknowledged in email messages make readers feel they share a personal relationship with you. This should lead to long lasting relationships and increased customer loyalty. 6. Include signatures An unsigned cheque has no value, similarly, an email without a signature lacks impact and does not create a binding impression on readers. People appreciate details of the person who has sent them mails. Your email signature should contain: These tips are sure to turn around your email marketing campaign! If you have any more suggestions, please let us know! An appropriate sign-off saluation: ‘Thanks’ or ‘Regards’ Your name Your designation A link to your website A link to unsubscribe These tips are sure to turn around your email marketing campaign! If you have any more suggestions, please let us know!


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Email Marketing: What’s in it for you?

Email Marketing: What’s in it for you?

Beyond • July 15, 2009

Email marketing is akin to a treasure hunt. You need to hunt for email addresses in the right places to get your hands on the ultimate treasure – a bigger email list! Here are some potential treasure spots for you to place your sign-up form: 1. Email marketing allows you to make an impression: Email marketing is an inexpensive way to stay in touch with your customers. You can send your readers frequent emails, newsletters, offers and announcements and stay in touch with them constantly. It enables you to provide adequate attention to your clients, which might result in increased loyalty towards your business. This might also lead to a surge in the number of customers as your readers may refer you to their friends and family. As a sidenote, research indicates that on average, readers require to see your email message approximately seven times before they decide to conduct business with you. It makes it possible to maintain two-way communication with your readers. You can interact with them by reading feedback, sending follow-up emails and replying to their queries. So how do you benefit? 2. Email marketing enables quick updates Email marketing makes it possible for you to closely monitor your comments, queries, feedback and messages. It also makes it simple to update your list because you can add readers who want to subscribe or remove those who wish to unsubscribe, immediately. Thanks to the opt-in/ opt-out link that you must place in every email! It allows you to filter customers who are genuinely interested in receiving your emails. So, how do you benefit? 3. Email marketing enables focussed marketing Email marketing allows you to use special tools to generate data such as click-through rates and conversion rates that provide you with accurate feedback about the effectiveness of your campaign. Once you receive the data, you can use the information to build customized lists. It lets you target audiences according to location, age, income and other specific parameters. Best of all, you don’t need an email marketing expert to do this- you can manage the marketing independently from the comfort of your bedroom! It lets you target prospective customers individually by personalizing email messages. You can place the recipient’s name in the subject line and also design each reader’s email according to personal preferences. You can use graphics, video clips, songs or even games to reach out to each customer personally. So, how do you benefit? As you can see, email marketing has a wide range of benefits! Give it a shot and let us know what you think!


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Strategies to improve your Email Open Rates

Strategies to improve your Email Open Rates

Beyond • July 2, 2009

Email marketing is all about percentages. Emails opened. Links clicked on. Surveys answered. But none of this matters without the most important percentage of all – delivery – as in how many emails show up in the inbox. The good news is, as an email marketer, you have some real tools in your arsenal to boost your chances of making it to the inbox. Not everything is within your control – spam filters are tricky things – but you do have some simple rules you can follow that can increase the chances that your email or newsletter will land in front of your customer\'s eyes and not in their trash file. Here are some ways to make that happen. 1. Use a recognizable \"from\" name Recipients should be able to clearly and quickly identify and recognize your company from your from name. State your organization\'s name simply: ABC Company. 2. Use a clear subject line Never underestimate the importance of a compelling, well-constructed and effective subject line. A good subject line not only tells your recipient what to expect when they open your email, but it also sets your email apart from the hundreds of others in the inbox. 3. Maximize your preview pane potential Keep in mind that an ‘open’ status in your email reports does not necessarily result in a click-through. Your recipients may give your email a cursory glance through the preview pane but unless your message grabs their attention, they will not bother to open and read it. To optimize use of the preview pane, you must include engaging and compelling information. Another great way to attain immediate click-throughs is to place your key call to action in the preview pane area. Additionally, be aware of how your email will render in the preview pane if images are disabled, and design accordingly. 4. Start with confirmed opt-in Confirmed opt-in means not only getting permission to email someone, but verifying that permission through an email with a link. Once that link is clicked on, the customer\'s account is officially active. This procedure cuts back on fraudulent sign ups and spam complaints, which can easily ruin your email delivery. So, keep your nose clean. Use double opt-in every time. 5. Use authentication Yahoo DomainKeys, SPF records and other authentication protocols tell email clients that the email you sent came from you and you alone. They also undercut spammers who forge headers and purport to be you, hoping they can hawk their fake Rolexes and herbal treatments under your good name without getting caught. If the email comes from you and your authentication records show that, you\'ll gain a huge delivery advantage. If you are a Benchmark Email customer, Email Authentication is turned ON by default in your account. 6. Keep your list squeaky clean A list that is not cleaned of your bounces and unsubscribes will bring down your open rates and might even damage your reputation and hurt your delivery rates. Your reputation is responsible for your emails being delivered, bulked or bounced. Remember, your reputation will be adversely affected by repeatedly sending emails to invalid or non-existent email addresses. Using an Email Service Provider (ESP) such as Benchmark Email is a good way to ensure clean lists and safeguard your reputation because it provides you with the easy option of deleting nonexistent email addresses quickly.


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Creating a high impact Email Subject Line

Creating a high impact Email Subject Line

Beyond • July 2, 2009

Every single element of an email – from the permission notice to the footer – plays a critical part in making it to the inbox. However, one carries even more responsibility in getting your message in front of your recipients: your subject line. Short and difficult to manage, this tiny span of less than 100 characters is what your customers and their email clients will see first of your email, sending you on to your customer\'s inbox or the much-maligned junk file. That\'s why perfecting it is mandatory if you want your email marketing campaign to be a success. Here are 6 ways to do that. 1. Clarity of goals Clearly defined objectives set the tone for effective subject lines. Here are some examples of clairvoyant goals, which can be used to write impactful subject lines: Improving open rates Increasing conversion rates Acquiring new customers Promoting products and services By defining your goals early on, you help set the tone for subject line testing. 2. Keep it short Research indicates that readers are likely to find shorter subject lines more credible. Try and keep your subject lines simple and short – preferably four to seven words. 3. Avoid the over-hype You\'re excited about your product and you want your recipients to feel the same: it\'s a fact. But there is a fine line between stirring up excitement and just plain hyping up a product to your customers. Your subject line should speak to the good qualities of your product or service, but avoiding going overboard and making it seem like the end-all-be-all of everything out there. Customers are more shrewd than ever before and they can tell when someone is overdoing it. For this reason, keep your subject line intriguing and exciting, but not too over the top. 4. Just say no to spammy words Certain words and phrases create a negative impression in the readers’ mind and might guarantee instant deletion of messages. Avoid using the following words in your subject lines or your email messages: cialis FREE Reverses aging Free investment levitra Life Insurance valium Your own Multi level marketing Free access xanax Free Samples! For Only Dear Friend Also, don\'t start your subject line with any of these words: Free Hello Buy Buying If you use an Email Service Provider (ESP) like Benchmark Email to send your email, it has a ‘Spam Checker\' tool available for checking your Spam Score for each email campaign. 5. Add a brand name Various recent studies show that email campaigns featuring brand names in subject lines tend to have higher open rates. Use this stat to your advantage. If you\'re promoting three different products, pick the most popular one and feature it in your subject line. You may be surprised at how simple and effective this trick actually is. 6. Be matter of fact If writing your latest email subject line has you tied up in knots, go for the obvious: a generalized description of what your email is or what will be found in it. For instance, “Benchmark Email Bulletin, June 26” is as basic as you can get when it comes to subject lines, but it tells the recipient, probably in the middle of wading through hundreds of spam emails, that your message is the real deal. A straightforward, honest subject line tells recipients that your email, when opened, delivers familiar, trusted content.


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What the Facebook WordPress Integration Means for Bloggers

Beyond • June 28, 2009

WordPress, one of the premier blogging platforms, is ideally suited for users who want to be at the digital helm of their own website. The platform offers a lot more control for novice bloggers and small business owners. As WordPress has grown, so has its devout following – all of whom have benefited from the strong online community that continues to provide free (or very fairly priced) themes and plugins. WordPress now is a formidable beast raising the benchmark for competitors. While it’s not perfect, it’s getting close. Just about anyone can use it with a little bit of virtual monkey wrenching to figure out the nuts and bolts of any variable. However, WordPress can only do so much. In the social media sector, WordPress still needed social platforms to catch up to them. Luckily, Facebook finally has caught on. This month, Facebook announced integrations for both WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The updates facilitate cross content marketing, allowing WordPress users to publish on their own sites while simultaneously posting to both their own Facebook timelines and their brand or business pages. Content marketers will rejoice, especially those with a powerful following or requiring specific outreach campaigns. The new updates allow you to single out friends to whom content can be directly marketed to – so no more trolling page after page to post on individual timelines. Marketers can also take advantage of new customizable widgets such as “like” and “subscribe” buttons. The changes also keep readers in mind. There’s an activity feed tracker so readers can follow you more easily. But best of all, there’s a comment box feature that allows readers to offer comments to both your site and to Facebook. Prior to this update, this was the most vexing thing about posting to Facebook. Sure, you want a dialogue on your Facebook page – but you also recognize the worth of comments on your own website. However, no one is going to take the time to post on both; they’re going to post where they already are and that’s on Facebook. So what’s the motivation for Facebook’s sudden interest in WordPress users? It’s probably because nearly a quarter of blog users go with WordPress options. Yet, even that alone isn’t reason enough since these stats have been quite high for some time now. Perhaps it’s got to do something with Facebook’s more recent direction. Recognizing the value of the social web, they want to be the frontrunners in that field. Even with 900 million users under their belt and over 500 billion collective minutes spent daily, a social web leader needs to offer users a far more interactive experience. Making life easier for WordPress users is a start. Facebook hasn’t made the same accommodations for the ever popular Blogger platform. That probably has a lot to do with the fact that Blogger is owned by Google, an arch rival. Blogger is also less advanced, having attracted users primarily because it is mindlessly simple to use and has demonstrated an inability to evolve past the primate stage. For our Benchmark users out there, if you’d like to integrate your email marketing with your WordPress page, check out Benchmark Email’s popular WordPress Plugin.


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Gmail: An Office Worker’s Best Friend

Beyond • June 27, 2009

Working in an office, you get to know and start to prefer certain tools. Whether it’s your desktop calendar that keeps your life in order or the document management software that keeps your projects organized, there is always one thing you rely on to get your job done right. I personally rely heavily on Gmail. It sounds simple enough – an email platform. But for me it’s so much more than simply an email platform – it is my favorite and most important tool in doing my work each and every day. From document sharing to staying up to date with coworkers, I have everything I need, and it’s free. Simple Communication Staying in touch with coworkers is imperative in an ever-moving office environment. And at a time when there’s a high premium placed on productivity and time management, chatting with coworkers online saves time and effort. While there are a number of communication tools that offices can employ as a means to communicate, G-chat is my favorite. But what is the greatest benefit? It’s built right into Gmail. When I miss a chat, or my computer boots me offline, the conversation comes to my inbox. I don’t worry about losing important information via chat because they’re all archived like an email. Let’s face it; you can’t get away from your email. As a mainstay on my browser at all times of the day, it’s easy for me to carry on conversations while getting important emails in and out. Seamless Sharing Staying on the same page can be difficult when using computer installed software for document organization. However, being in the cloud makes this a non-issue. Even better - using Google Docs. For upgraded Gmail users it’s now your Google “Drive,” and labeled as such. Sharing documents through your Gmail account makes the collaboration process seamless. Invite as many users as you need, and each person can be assigned as “can edit” or “can view,” allowing you to regulate the sharing and editing responsibilities. Download all documents onto your computer and into a number of file formats: Excel sheet, PDF, document, plain text and more. Edit and save in real time. If working on a group project, you can see the edits being made by other users – making collaboration from different parts of the office easy. Easy Google+ Access Finally, if your business is on Google+ you know the importance of being present throughout the day; as a network for sharing and engaging, you want to maintain relationships, comments and sharing. Being an offshoot of Gmail, it’s easy to stay plugged in and engaged at all times. View notifications directly from your email, bringing all your important business relationships into one place. Post to your G+ account directly from your inbox with a simple click. When every aspect of your business life is integrated in one place, it makes the work day simple and productive. Get important documents, maintain business relationships and keep your social media up to date without ever leaving your email account. Benchmark FTW Don\'t miss your chance to win a Kindle Fire. Each comment, Tweet and ReTweet of a Benchmark FTW post gives you a shot at winning. Check out the full details on the Benchmark FTW series and contest.


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5 Ways I Use Instagram & Pixlr-o-matic to Boost My Art Business

5 Ways I Use Instagram & Pixlr-o-matic to Boost My Art Business

Beyond • June 25, 2009

For centuries, artists have used tools to help improve their art. Technologies have vastly improved since the invention of the pinhole camera or camera obscura, which was used as a drawing aid by 15th – 17th century artists. Hundreds of years later, artists like myself are still exploring different tools to help advance our art and art businesses. Recently, I have been enjoying the popular mobile photo apps Instagram and Pixlr-o-matic. These photo-sharing apps allow users to snap mobile photos, apply digital filters and effects to it, and then share it via their social media channels including Instagram’s own site. Pixlr-o-Matic can be used on your phone or accessed on your computer. Now any iPhone or Android or computer user can become a creative photographer! The results are reminiscent of the old Polaroid transfer or print making techniques. This new photo process can be quite fun and addicting, but I primarily use these apps to help boost my art business. Here’s How 1. Artistic inspiration. These apps literally offer thousands of variations of filters and effects for each individual image. Now, when I feel artistically uninspired, I can find an interesting photo on my phone or computer, and play with the many different filters until I find one that moves me. As a painter, these apps have helped me discover new techniques, and effects to use in my oil paintings. Not only do these photo apps help inspire my recent paintings, but they also help provide me with interesting blogging content and photos to illustrate posts on my blog, FineArtTips.com. 2. Test the Composition. I use Instagram as a helpful testing tool. I monitor the popularity of my uploaded photos of possible painting subject matter and composition. I can easily examine the popularity and statistics using the Instagram app, Statigram. Below are my latest top 5 images. 3. Branding & Marketing. Instagram and Pixlr are another free branding and marketing opportunity. Through your photos you can: Show the world who you are = branding. I share my interests, and some personal photos. Show the world what you do = marketing. I share my latest paintings and details of my art or works in progress. Visit Statigram to create your own follow button or RSS feed for your own blog or website. See my example below: 4. Social Media Cross-Pollination. I use both Instagram and Pixlr-o-matic to cross-pollinate my social media channels. I tweet a few of my Instagram photos each day. And I have also added a tasteful Instagram feed tab on my Fine Art Tips Facebook Fan Page. I use another helpful app, Pingram, which combines Instagram and Pinterest. Here, I can “pin” my favorite photos to Pinterest and easily browse my Instagram feed. 5. Networking. Instagram is another social networking channel. However, I use it a bit differently than Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus. To lessen my social media overload, I have decided to use Instagram primarily for my own personal enjoyment, artistic inspiration and experimentation. Nevertheless, I have to admit it is fun to see the creative side of many of my Twitter and Facebook friends! Benchmark FTW Don\'t miss your chance to win a Kindle Fire. Each comment, Tweet and ReTweet of a Benchmark FTW post gives you a shot at winning. Check out the full details on the Benchmark FTW series and contest.


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Email campaigns and newsletters: 4 good copy writing tips

Email campaigns and newsletters: 4 good copy writing tips

Beyond • June 24, 2009

When you sit down to write your email and newsletter campaigns, do you know if you\'re pleading to your customers\' practical or emotional sides? Is your writing voice passive or active? Are you using basic marketing writing techniques that have survived the passage of time because they\'re so effective? If you can\'t answer any one of these questions, you could most likely use the 4 tips below to make your email marketing writing the best it can possibly be.   Write to your subscriber\'s desire and emotional needs. It\'s well documented: people make purchases based on emotion, not cold facts or schematics. For instance: what\'s more likely to get someone to buy an ice cream cone? Lower sugar, 100% real strawberries and less lactose makes this ice cream cone sweet and easy on the stomach. Or On a hot summer day, nothing soothes and pleases like the sweet, creamy taste of strawberries and cool cream. If you guessed the second one, you would be correct. Look for ways in your email copy to enhance your recipients\' lives. Don\'t bother listing out a litany of boring facts and schematics, really show them how their lives can be more enjoyable or easier by buying your product.   Use an active voice Using an active voice means cutting out the words that tend to slow down what you have to say and make your writing more passive. Active voice is like going from point A to point B, rather than going from point A to point B to point C. For instance: Passive voice The token you purchase enables you to board the train. The train will then transport you to Coney Island. Active voice Buy a token and ride the train to Coney Island The second sentence cuts out the words that stretch out your sentences, but don\'t make them better. Use active voice in your email and newsletter campaigns because it keeps the customer interested. An added bonus? It also saves space.   Define your subscriber and write to who they are. Not all subscribers are alike, but most subscribers to any given list share some things in common. Make a list of these attributes and write in a voice that caters to them. Here are some examples of possible attributes: Practical Frugal Busy Smart Wise Your emails will grab more attention and make you more money if you write to who your customers are in this respect. If you can harness that skill, you will see an interest in sales, guaranteed.   Practice economy of language. To practice economy of language, write your copy and look it over in its entirety. Can you cut out certain words and still preserve the meaning of certain sentences? Can you rearrange sentences to save time and space? Are you getting to the point sooner rather than later? Keep these questions handy when you\'re writing your HTML email copy. Give your email copy a second pass with these questions in mind. Change your copy to make it leaner and more focused and you\'ll see your ROI and interest go up.


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Optimizing Your SMS and Text Mobile Marketing

Beyond • June 19, 2009

Now that you know where to go to get your mobile marketing needs sorted, the next step is to consider your options for SMS and text mobile marketing. SMS and text mobile marketing differs from traditional mobile marketing in that first of all you’re not just optimizing your platform for different gadgets, smart phones, iPads and Kindles. You may not even be dealing with QR codes. Instead, you’re now dealing with a whole different mobile monster. You’ll need to consider… How short/long codes and keywords work Best practices for your industry How not to get treated (or sued) for spam How to build SMS lists Different campaign strategies, including couponing It’s a lot to take in, and a serious company should not go it alone unless they have a trained representative or designated personnel ready to take on the task. If you don’t, then opt for a reputable company that can get you the results you need. If you’ve got a smart team, your team will be learning the tricks of the trade along the way too. Here are some of the best-rated go-to companies that excel specifically in SMS and text mobile marketing: EZ Texting – It’s as simple as signing up, adding your contacts and sending your texts. Competitive features come standard with user accounts, including Text-2-Vote, Text-2-Win and Text-2-Join. Users can take advantage of the intuitive browser based marketing software that lets you send text messages, schedule them, access a message inbox and filter for keywords. Developers can access the developer center. EZ Texting also offers webinars and free SMS marketing resources. You can opt-in for a pay-and-go plan that doesn’t have any monthly fees but is limited in options. Otherwise, there’s a $29 Starter plan that scales up to a $250 Pro plan, and then of course you can always ask for larger more complex accommodations. EZ Texting also offers a free trial. Text Hub – Similar to EZ Texting, offers two way texting, autoresponders, analytics, scheduling and keyword opt-ins. Users also get unlimited auto text messaging that can be targeted to specific groups that customers have selected to be a part of. Each message is personalized with the recipient’s name. Like EZ Texting, Text Hub also offers an online interface to make usage simpler. Pricing is also set up on a similar model, including a pay-as-you-go model that scales to a $99/Starter model all the way to a customizable model. mobileStorm – Designed for a business owner with more tech knowledge or a designated team with some experience, mobileStorm offers short codes, two way dialogues, coupon creations, text-to-screen and more. It applies for a broad range of industries, including healthcare, agencies, retail, gaming, hospitality and entertainment. MobileStorm also excels in the resources they offer their clients. With a plethora of well-researched white papers, webinars, reports, newsletters, videos, blog posts and best practices sheets, you can quickly catch up in this niche market even if you are a beginner. Involve Mobile – Offering SMS short codes, interactive marketing (that ties in text and web), bulk SMS delivery and an eCRM and mobile database, Involve Mobile provides everything you need to get off the ground with a serious campaign. Their features are so in-depth that it merits a serious customer’s attention to look at one of the top-rated companies out there for SMS/text marketing. The pricing model is unfortunately not as advanced as the services, with breakdowns not clearly stipulated in an organized way consumers would expect. There’s an account setup fee, monthly fee and individual other little fees that can add up. This is where there’s a lot of room for improvement. For a simpler solution, try Cellit Mobile Marketing, which offers much of the same without the confusion. It’s also perhaps best for the beginner small business – especially local and mom & pop shops.


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10 Good Reasons To Use Email And Web Surveys

10 Good Reasons To Use Email And Web Surveys

Beyond • June 18, 2009

At the moment, it\'s safe to say that email and Web-based surveys are the cheapest and most effective ways to get that data you crave. Sure, people still use phone telemarketers and snail mail surveys, but with the incredible number of people using the Internet across the globe, it would be foolish to overlook the ability to track people down and ask them questions via that medium. More than anything, however, Internet and email-based surveys give your customers a chance to give thorough, well thought-out answers, and you the chance to view those answers showing up in real time. Here are our top 10 reasons to use email and Web surveys: 1. Gather Feedback Perhaps you\'ve wondered why the product you bought in bulk is just not selling. Maybe you\'re confused on why customers visit a certain page on your Website and then drop off, abandoning their shopping carts. With Web surveys, you can gather the feedback you need to find out for sure. 2. Figure out what products to carry next Need a handle on what products will sell and what ones won\'t? Send a survey asking customers what they\'d like to see on your virtual shelves. 3. Streamline your order and checkout process Which steps in the order and checkout process are unnecessary? Which steps make sense, but maybe should take place outside the order fulfillment process? Use a Web survey at checkout to re-shape and shrink the checkout process. 4. Measure customer morale Are your customers over the moon about your next line of products or just blah? Do you need to try something new to get your customers excited about your company? Measure morale and create a future plan based on that data. 5. Gather testimonials Are customer singing your praises? Use a survey to find out why. Once you\'ve gotten the data you need, contact the most enthusiastic customers and invite them to create video or text-based testimonials. 6. Find out what peer companies are up to Let\'s face it: you can\'t ask your competitor companies which products and customer service techniques are working for them. But you can ask your customers the same questions and get the answers you need to adjust your own methods. 7. Adjust your customer service contact channels Do you need more people on the phones on the weekends? Should you invest in a live chat team? These questions matter. By crafting a customer service-based survey you can not only hire the people and rent/buy the technology you need, but stay competitive in your business sphere. 8. Price your goods Don\'t over or under-charge for your stuff - ask your customers what prices work for them and adjust your prices accordingly. Stay competitive with this information. 9. Dump unpopular products and find out why some items are slow-sellers If you have crates of items just sitting around the warehouse not selling, there may be a specific reason why. Use a survey to poll customers on certain slow-selling products. 10. Set realistic company goals Customer opinion is a great way to shape your company, down to what types of positions get filled to how many people you\'ll need to keep customers happy and the shelves stocked with goods. Gather this data and use it to move up the ranks among your competitors.


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Top Go-to Companies for Mobile Marketing Optimization

Beyond • June 18, 2009

As I said in this month’s intro to mobile marketing, the worst thing a small business can do is take on a Goliath project without the aid or consultation of a professional. If you’re ready to take on mobile marketing, you need to make sure you’re at least seeing what the professionals have to say. Here’s where to get started. Mobify.me – Ideal for e-commerce needs, Mobify is an industry leader and was founded in 2007 – which perhaps best showcases the explosive growth of the mobile marketing industry. Mobify lets you create a custom mobile version of your existing site. The basic service is free, which just gets you website mobility. Customer reviews highlight how easy it is to be a part of the process without needing to know the technical nooks and crannies. What they didn’t care for was the extensive review process that contributed to some delay. This however is a given and should be considered when dealing with anything new media related; it’s a process and it takes time, so give yourself the time to do it. Netbiscuits – Also offering a free version to optimize your site for mobile use, Netbiscuits is highly ranked for non-expert usability. While Mobify freebies focus more on template sheets for various pages, Netbiscuits focuses on developing creative content like scrollers, image sliders and cover-flow menus. A “drag and drop” tool makes it easy to get the task done, including setting up your own apps. You also get content optimization for CSS, images, audio and video – letting you perfect both function and form. Winksite – Best for a business owner with various online destinations, Winksite lets you create up to five different mobile sites. Winksite offers a worthwhile library that’ll let you customize functionality. You can include events, notes, chats, forums, surveys, guestbook and links. It also connects with mobile advertising without infringing on the site owner’s ad revenue. This is perhaps best for someone creating a site from scratch rather than just optimizing their current content for mobile adaptability. mobiSiteGalore – This one wins for clarity. It’s very easy for an end user to navigate and understand while journeying down the mobile marketing road. They clearly identify the who, what and how of their business, which makes doing business with them far more pleasant. You won’t need any special technical knowledge. MobiSiteGalore also has a roll back feature, which lets you undo any unwanted steps – a service perhaps designed for the novice end user. All designs are completely customizable and users can access 24/7 email customer service. Whether you’re optimizing pages or creating a site from scratch, mobiSiteGalore is a formidable choice. Wirenode – Their offering competes as one of the top three mobile marketing solutions. It’s also easy to use, free for personal use, offers mobile widgets, polls/forums, table of contents page, demo page, unique designs and QR codes, multimedia management, multi-site administration and overall optimization for your existing site. It also offers analytics, which not all solutions do. Users reportedly love how easy it is to create a mobile version of their site, with some citing that it took just five minutes. MoFuse – Ideal for mobile web content management needs, MoFuse also features the drag and drop feature and includes experts who can do this task for you. You can take advantage of a one time build option by having a MoFuse mobile design expert create your mobile optimized site for you, fix what’s already there or just offer some pointers. Most of these solutions have a free trial you can use. But don’t get too caught up with free trials, simply because of the time involved. Imagine the functionality, or lack thereof, behind it. You’d have to create a mobile version of your site, measure the return and then undo that to redo it all with another company. It’s best to research your options first.


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How to Reduce Spam Complaints?

How to Reduce Spam Complaints?

Beyond • June 16, 2009

One of the keys to success in e-mail marketing is to reduce the number of spam complaints that you receive. Spam complaints can hurt your standing with your ISP or hosting provider, and even prevent your messages from being delivered to millions of users of popular web e-mail providers such as Gmail, Hotmail, and Yahoo mail. In spite of these potentially very significant consequences, many businesses that rely on e-mail marketing as a major part of their advertising efforts fail to understand the steps that you can take to prevent spam complaints from being submitted. The following tips will help you reduce your spam complaints: Confirmed opt-in: The best way to ensure that your subscribers want to receive mailings from you is by using a confirmed opt-in process. It requires your subscribers to confirm their subscription by replying to an e-mail before they can be added to your e-mail list. Your list only: It is no longer acceptable to purchase e-mail lists or use third-party lists. You should remove any e-mail addresses obtained from third party sources. Practice good list hygiene: Don’t get in love with your list. The quantity of email addresses in your list means little; it is the quality that counts. As a general rule, the older your list (or addresses in your list) the greater the chance that they may not be any longer interested in receiving mails from you. That said, there are no specific rules as all businesses are different. Some businesses will know that some of their best customers are their oldest customers, so the culling of all e-mail addresses obtained before a specific date may not be suitable for those businesses. Include the Unsubscribe Link: The first and most important step you can take is to include an unsubscribe link in every message. Beyond this, the unsubscribe link should be two things: obvious and painless. Customers who want your emails will ignore the link, and those who don\'t will find it easy to unsubscribe from your list, rather than hastily clicking the email as spam. Evaluate your Subject Line: Ensure that - especially when starting out - your company name is included in the subject line. You may be thinking that is not necessary, since your company name will more than likely show in the \"from\" field, however, this helps to convey professionalism. Be sure that the message in your subject line is actually conveyed in the email. No one likes to be duped, and doing so raises the chances of your e-mail being marked as spam. Familiar layout: Using a consistent e-mail template with the same colors, fonts and layout will help your subscribers to recognize your e-mail campaigns. Over time your subscribers will recognize your layout and with that familiarity they will be reminded that they have subscribed to your list. Familiar and consistent company name: Confusion and complaints can originate from subscribers being unfamiliar with your company or brand name. Consistent from address: Using a consistent ‘from’ e-mail address serves two purposes. First, using the same ‘from’ address over time is another way to ensure that your subscribers recognise your e-mails. It is best to use a from e-mail address that includes your brand or the company name that they subscribed to. Second, if different ‘from’ addresses are used it increases the chances that the subscriber’s local e-mail filter programs (spam filters) will block your e-mails. It is a good idea to ask your subscribers to add your e-mail address to their address book to ensure that your messages will get past any local filters. Frequency: A common complaint trigger is businesses sending too many e-mails to the same group of people. While a subscriber may like your products and your business, there becomes a point when your mailings become annoying when sent too often, particularly if you are sending essentially the same message over and over again. The frequency of mail-outs will depend on your business and the type of information you provide to your subscribers. By outlining the anticipated frequency in your sign-up subscription terms, your subscribers will know how often to expect your mailings. Few other tips: - do not write long email copy - go for “short and crisp”, then point to your website for more information; - don’t repeat your website URL over and over again — you are more likely to get more complaints than more sales; once or twice is usually enough; - run a spam-check on your messages before you send them out and fix any problems that it detects.


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