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Engage with Email Marketing

Want to target and get what you can from the lemons you got. Start with email marketing.

Here 6 reasons you should be using email marketing to target market your clients.

1. More effective than social media (for customer acquisition)

Don’t get us wrong, social media is an extremely important component in any business’ marketing strategy. Social Media is a great channel for interacting with your audience and strengthening your personal relationships with them. And because of that, it is an important first step towards reaching your ultimate goal – the conversion.

But when it comes to converting people into members, customers or supporters, email marketing is the way to go. A study by Custora from 2013 found that customer acquisition via email marketing has quadrupled in the four years preceding 2013. Email marketing then already accounted for nearly 7% of all customer acquisitions that occurred online.

2. Economic and Cost Effective

It’s easy, effective, and inexpensive. Email marketing allows business owners to reach a large number of consumers at a rate of nearly nothing per message. For small-business owners on a budget, this makes it a better choice than traditional marketing channels like TV, radio, or direct mail. You don’t have to take my word for it. A joint study from Shop.org and Forrester Research found that 85% of US retailers consider email marketing one of the most effective customer acquisition tactics.

Compared to traditional marketing efforts where printing, postage etc. can take up a lot of cost for your direct mail campaigns. With emails, you are still able to create the same imagery with the added benefit of having follow-up information instantly available with one click to your website.

Perhaps just as importantly, with the correct maintenance of an email list, the cost benefits increase as does the ROI through the closer relationship established with the recipients. Together with the higher response rates that email marketing attracts, you, therefore, get more positive responses, more quickly and at a lower unit cost! Win – win situation!

#3 Personal and Customisable

In email marketing, what you’re really doing is segmenting your audience into lists, and sending each list a tailored email message that resonates with your reader and can provide them with something of value.

When you write a post for one of your social media channels, you address your audience as a whole (“To all of our fans, we would like to say..”). But by using your email marketing software correctly, it allows you to address people individually by name, split certain topics only for certain members of your list and eventually arrive privately in their personal inbox. According to research from Adestra in 2012, emails with subject lines that include the recipient’s name are 22.2% more likely to be opened.

 

Email does not have to be SPAM – and it should never be! It can be used thoughtfully to build loyalty and trust in your brand. Email marketing is important for building relationships with prospects, leads, current customers, and even past customers because it gives you a chance to speak directly to them, in their inbox, at a time that is convenient for them. Be friendly and personable. You are not invading their space if you have chosen your message and your recipient wisely.

#4 Action Oriented

Whether you realise it or not, everybody is trained to do something with an email -reply, forward, click-through, sign-up, or even straight buying. Think about this! Email is transactional by nature and you can use it to direct traffic to your website and ultimately drive sales. As you develop your small business or startup marketing strategy as a whole, using email will allow you to see results straight away.

#5 Measurable

There’s no guesswork in email marketing. When you use any email marketing software, you can track who opened your email, which links were clicked, and how many people unsubscribed. You can easily get a picture of how your email campaigns are performing, make adjustments and improve your effectiveness. Email marketing metrics are important to remember as you monitor and measure your internet marketing strategy as a whole.

A lot of email marketing software allows for split testing of your emails. As A/B testing comes from direct mail, it should go without saying that A/B testing in your email marketing campaigns is essential. A/B testing can reveal a great wealth of data about your subscribers. Do they generally respond better to tempting subject lines such as “Free”, “20 percent off”, or “Now on Sale”? Or, are they more open to a softer intro, maybe informing them of what to expect in your email. All these things can be tested, measured, learned from and improved upon.

#6 Mobile devices allow people to check their email constantly

Because mobile devices have become so common, people are checking their emails all the time—in line at Starbucks, during their office commute, in the waiting room at the doctors office, at the grocery store, everywhere.

Some people think that with the growing popularity of social media platforms, email should be forgotten and may be pushed to the side.

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Mobile optimization as a Competitive Advantage in 2017

In many industries, this may be conservative and, at the agency I head up in the UK, Bowler Hat, our B2C clients are seeing up to 85 percent of all site sessions conducted on mobile devices.

Suffice it to say, mobile has well and truly arrived. Yet, while responsive design has been around for a while now and is fairly well-established, the majority of sites tend to fall down on usability. That is, the majority of sites are still built for desktop and then dialed back for mobile. That form-fill that was mildly annoying on desktop is an absolute pig on mobile. Even if it is responsive.

This is not good enough in the mobile-first world we are racing toward in 2017.

In this article, I am going to look at how you can ensure you are truly optimizing for mobile users. We will look at the fundamentals of responsive design and page speed, but we will also look beyond this at user experience tailored to mobile devices. We will then wrap this up with a mobile optimization checklist that you can use to identify optimization opportunities.

Our goal here is to go the extra distance to create fully mobile-focused websites; to delight our users and drive conversions; to use mobile optimization to develop a strategic advantage over the competition. And, of course, Google wants to delight mobile users so we can improve engagement and on-page ranking factors and also benefit from improved SEO. Better for users. Better for search engines. Win-win.

Mobile-friendly approach

Our first focus in gaining this advantage is to look at just how we deliver mobile-friendly content. There are three possible approaches::

  • Responsive web design
  • Dynamic content
  • Separate URLs (mobile site)

Responsive website design is Google’s recommended way to tackle mobile-friendly sites and, as such, is the approach you should take unless you have very strong reasons not to.

Responsive design has been around for a while, so this is not a new concept. However, we still see sites that are technically responsive while not providing a strong experience for mobile users.

Ultimately, responsive design is just a small part of creating truly mobile-friendly websites.

Mobile optimization

Google has a number of tools for testing for mobile usability and, beyond that, Search Console has a mobile usability report that details problems on a page-by-page level.

You should utilize these tools while developing your new site and use Search Console to keep tabs on problems throughout the life of the site.

Search Console looks at the following mobile usability issues:

  1. Flash usage — Most mobile browsers do not render Flash and, as such, you will want to use more modern technologies.
  1. Viewport not configured — The viewport metatag aids browsers in scaling a page to suit a specific device.
  1. Fixed-width viewport — This problem attempts to circumvent mobile design with fixed width pages and is best shelved when a responsive design is adopted.
  1. Content not sized to viewport — Here the page content does not fit the window, and a user has to scroll. This can be fixed with relative rather than fixed widths.
  1. Small font size — This is a scaling issue and requires users to pinch the screen to zoom in.
  1. Touch elements too close — This is a common usability issue where it is too hard to tap a given element without also hitting the neighboring element.
  1. Interstitial usage — A full-screen pop-up often represents poor user experience on a mobile device and is something that Google is looking to crack down on in 2017.

These are the key technical elements that Google is looking for and reporting on to webmasters.

Optimizing your site to remove these issues may have positive effects on how the usability of your site is graded by Google and certainly has positive implications for users. Again, win-win.

 

Mobile optimization checklist

So we have three fundamental components of building mobile sites that your users will love (or that will delight your users and drive conversions in Google’s vernacular).

  1. Responsive design
  2. Page loading speed
  3. Mobile design and usability

The following is a checklist based on the the three key areas reviewed in this article. We use this approach to review sites to determine areas that can be improved for mobile users.

We have reviewed many sites and have yet to find any that provide a perfect mobile experience. In most cases, the sites have a wide range of potential optimization opportunities.

Review this list point by point and refer back to the designing for multiple screens whitepaper for any required clarifications.

Basic mobile optimization

  1. Responsive design
  2. Page speed
  3. Hosting speed

Home page and site navigation

  1. Keep calls to action front and center.
  2. Keep menus short and sweet.
  3. Make it easy to get back to the home page.
  4. Don’t let promotions steal the show.

Site search

  1. Make site search visible.
  2. Ensure site search results are relevant.
  3. Implement filters to improve site search usability.
  4. Guide users to better search results.

Commerce and conversions

  1. Let users explore before they commit.
  2. Let users purchase as a guest.
  3. Use existing information to maximize convenience.
  4. Use click-to-call buttons for complex tasks.
  5. Make it easy to finish converting on another device.

Form entry

  1. Streamline form entry.
  2. Choose the simplest input method for each task.
  3. Provide a visual calendar for selecting dates.
  4. Minimize form errors with labeling and real-time validation.
  5. Design efficient forms.

Usability and form factor

  1. Optimize your entire site for mobile.
  2. Don’t make users pinch to zoom.
  3. Make product images expandable.
  4. Tell users which screen orientation works best.
  5. Keep your user in a single browser window.
  6. Avoid “full site” labeling.
  7. Be clear why you need a user’s location.
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Marketing and Branding

What the Difference Between Marketing and Branding

What is the difference between marketing and branding?

In a recent conversation with a very senior person at a financial institution my colleague was told, “I think private wealth managers will have a hard time seeing the value of branding—they see marketing as a cost center, not a driver of sales.”

Hold it.

How did we go from branding to marketing in one sentence like that?

What is marketing? What is branding? How do they differ?

There is a spectrum of opinions here, but in my view, marketing is actively promoting a product or service. It’s a push tactic. It’s pushing out a message to get sales results: “Buy our product because it’s better than theirs.” (Or because it’s cool, or because this celebrity likes it, or because you have this problem and this thing will fix it, etc.) This is oversimplification, but that’s it in a nutshell.

This is not branding.

Branding should both precede and underlie any marketing effort. Branding is not push, but pull. Branding is the expression of the essential truth or value of an organization, product, or service. It is communication of characteristics, values, and attributes that clarify what this particular brand is and is not.

A brand will help encourage someone to buy a product, and it directly supports whatever sales or marketing activities are in play, but the brand does not explicitly say “buy me.” Instead, it says “This is what I am. This is why I exist. If you agree, if you like me, you can buy me, support me, and recommend me to your friends.”

Branding is strategic. Marketing is tactical.

Marketing may contribute to a brand, but the brand is bigger than any particular marketing effort. The brand is what remains after the marketing has swept through the room. It’s what sticks in your mind associated with a product, service, or organization—whether or not, at that particular moment, you bought or did not buy.

The brand is ultimately what determines if you will become a loyal customer or not. The marketing may convince you to buy a particular Toyota, and maybe it’s the first foreign car you ever owned, but it is the brand that will determine if you will only buy Toyotas for the rest of your life.

The brand is built from many things. Very important among these things is the lived experience of the brand. Did that car deliver on its brand promise of reliability? Did the maker continue to uphold the quality standards that made them what they are? Did the sales guy or the service center mechanic know what they were talking about?

Marketing unearths and activates buyers. Branding makes loyal customers, advocates, even evangelists, out of those who buy.

This works the same way for all types of businesses and organizations. All organizations must sell (including nonprofits). How they sell may differ, and everyone in an organization is, with their every action, either constructing or deconstructing the brand. Every thought, every action, every policy, every ad, every marketing promotion has the effect of either inspiring or deterring brand loyalty in whomever is exposed to it. All of this affects sales.

Back to our financial expert. Is marketing a cost center? Poorly researched and executed marketing activities can certainly be a cost center, but well-researched and well-executed marketing is an investment that pays for itself in sales and brand reinforcement.

Is branding a cost center? On the surface, yes, but the return is loyalty. The return is sales people whose jobs are easier and more effective, employees who stay longer and work harder, customers who become ambassadors and advocates for the organization.

Branding is as vital to the success of a business or nonprofit as having financial coherence, having a vision for the future, or having quality employees.

It is the essential foundation for a successful operation. So yes, it’s a cost center, like good employees, financial experts, and business or organizational innovators are. They are cost centers, but what is REALLY costly is not to have them, or to have substandard ones.