Why You Need an Email List

According to Wikipedia.org an email list is “… a special usage of email that allows for widespread distribution of information to many Internet users…” Pay attention to the words, special usage, because that is important. This special usage requires a lot out of you such as:

* Special Software
* Knowledge of Laws
* Something to Share

But, this article is about why you need an email list. The definition also gives you a clue into that aspect of an email list. It answers the why by telling you that an email list is for “…widespread distribution of information to many… “. This means that it’s a super simple way to get out your information to the masses. Your information being the information you want to give your target audience about your business products and services.

So the short answer to why you need an email list is obvious: In order to distribute information about your business to many people. It’s a simple way to do it with the right software such as Aweber. This software enables you to set up simple sign up forms on your website, blog or even Facebook page so that people can enter their email address, giving you permission to send them information about your business products and services.

The software immediately sends a thank you email, with confirmation process so that you know for sure you really have permission from the person. This is called “double opt-in”. This is required because it ensures that the right person really did enter the right email address and really did mean to receive the information. This process prevents you of being accused of sending out SPAM to people, and ensures that you get people on your list who really want to be on it. After all, you really only want to market to the right people.

The software also enables the person who signed up to easily unsubscribe at will with a simple click. This unsubscribe information appears automatically in every email that you send from the system. This makes the entire process super efficient. In some cases the software will also clear out bounced email addresses and you can manually clean out email addresses which have not opened email for a specific amount of time. The software makes the entire process simple, giving you no excuse not to have an email list.

With a properly set up email list you will be able to regularly market your products and services to an audience who has given you permission, who wants what you have to offer, and who already trusts and likes you. You want this because most people need to see your offers at least 7 times before they decide to purchase. By having them on your email list, you explode your opportunity to make a sale many times over. You may have heard people say, “the money is in the list.” Let me tell you, the Money IS in the list. They’re not joking.

No matter how big social media becomes, having that direct email address route is always going to be better. It’s tried, true, and well tested. Every business now asks for your email address because they want to use one of the best marketing formats ever invented. Email. If you treat your subscribers right, and give them the regular information they asked for you’ll create a lot of success via your email list.

Get Into The Mind of The Customer

I don’t care who you are or where you have been; at some point in your life you have been offered an upsell. How did this make you feel? Were you interested in the upsell or were you annoyed that they even tried to make you spend more money?

Knowing how you felt as the person being up-sold to can help you greatly if you are the one attempting to upsell something to a customer. You have to really focus on how the customer is feeling and if they are receptive to what it is you have to offer.

There are a few ways to gage this, the first being the demeanor of the customer. These old true for real life selling in a traditional store setting. Are they in a seemingly good mood or do they seem rushed or anxious in any way? Determining the emotional sate of your customer can mean all the difference in a successful up sell or not.

Always put yourself in their shoes, really, think about being in a rush and then some salesperson trying to keep you there offering another product or service. You would more than likely be annoyed, right? This is why you need to step back and observe the customer to see how receptive they may be to your pitch.

Of course, if you are upselling online you don’t have the luxury of seeing how someone emotional sate is and the way to figure this out is to maybe offer a survey on your website to see if the customer has any interest in additional products. This could be placed before the checkout process or even a splash page popping up to offer the unbelievable upsell product or service.

This has to be done is a way that isn’t intrusive as many people may get annoyed that they keep getting interrupted while trying to check out. Make sure your technique is subtle and not invasive.

The key to a successful upsell is knowing how people work. There could be some training involved in helping the salesperson learn these tricks before they try and make the sale for the first time.

SEOMoz – Have You Been Introduced?

Keen to start link building? Let me introduce you to SEOmoz.org, a site boasting “The Web’s Best SEO Resources”. SEOmoz’ main claim to fame in traditional link-building annals is it’s famous toolset, which includes “over twenty SEO tools”.

That may be too rich for the new marketer’s blood, but what about some of the other tools?

Linkscape is a free tool that allows you to perform a number of targeted analysis functions on your competition (and your own sites), including:

– Checking your links to see if they are from suspect sources
– Identify your competitors’ anchor text keywords
– Analyze their strongest linking strategies
– Analyze your own sites’ strongest web pages

(And that’s just for starters).

What SEOmoz doesn’t tell you up front is that you can only see basic data, until you upgrade to a paid subscription: Still, a web page that can instantly show you – simply by your entering a website URL – its “mozRank”, number of links and number of root domains linking to that site is a pretty cool tool, when you’re analyzing your link strategy!

My favorite tool is Trifecta. The free option allows you to run one analysis per day, and lets you see:

– how many pages and sites currently link to yours
– how many times your “brand” is “mentioned on the web”
– how much traffic your site has

You can analyze your competitors too, of course. All sites are equal (figuratively speaking) at SEOmoz. And many people wouldn’t be without their SEOmoz Firefox toolbar add-on for instant stats.

Other paid link analysis tools include BacklinkAnalysis, and the SEOtoolbox page offers you the ability to check backlinks, page rank, domain age and indexed pages (in 3 major search engines).

A “pro” subscription that allows you to analyze in much more depth than you can probably imagine right now begins at $79.00 per month. Is it really worth it?

Only you will be able to tell.

What Does A Successful Joint Venture Partnership look like?

You’ve found a partner who is compatible to you and your business. You work well with him and you are ready to launch into the next phase of business planning. You pause. You realize that before you take your next step it might benefit you to know what a successful joint venture relationship looks like. To begin with you should expect to share all responsibilities. Your customer reach should increase as well as your profit but your partner should reap those same rewards. Finally, you will notice a marked increase in your productivity because you have a partner to stay accountable toward.

First and foremost a successful partnership involves shared responsibility. This means that the workload is evenly distributed among the partners. No one person gets stuck with all the dirty work. You can agree to do all the graphics if you prefer but you shouldn’t be expected to do it all, especially if your partner is just as capable of creating outstanding graphics.

A symbiotic partnership will look like a committed relationship. Each person will see to it that the other is treated fairly and with respect. Forgiveness and understanding will be the keys to longevity in the relationship. Competition will be non existent and trust will outweigh suspicion.

Second, your potential customer reach should be expanding past your normal reach. You should be reaching not only your readers and customers but also the readers and customers of your partner. This grows your business twice as fast in the same amount of time.

Each will be promoting the other in various means. Press releases will be sent to notify the public of your partnership. Interviews will be given and eBooks written. Everything you do for this venture will ultimately be for the joint goal of success.

Nothing builds productivity more than accountability. Knowing that you have to report your progress to someone pushes you to complete a project on time. Sure, you are in business for yourself but any successful solopreneur will tell you it is the support of their team that drives their success.

Built in evaluations and reviews will help you stay on target. Evaluate how your businesses compliment each other periodically. Partnerships are rarely long-term relationships. You might outgrow each other or your businesses might change direction.

Last but certainly not least, a successful partnership will be profitable for all. You might divide the profits directly in half or you might choose to split it by a fixed percentage. It depends on what is being done and what each partner is offering.

Having a written contract that explains each part of the partnership as well as what is expected of each party will ensure that all involved are protected.

A great partnership, just like a great relationship, is cultivated over time. Commit to getting to know each other. Develop trust. Partnering with someone who is like-minded both in their personal ethics and their business ethics will produce the most beneficial business venture.

Create Your Own Marketing Holiday

A constant struggle for online business owners is standing out from the crowd of competitors. In the world of the internet, you can find competitors from every continent so that struggle can be even tougher. Having a strong marketing plan and out of the box ideas can certainly help bring your company’s name to the forefront.

Take the example of Chick-Fil-A. They are a fast food company that built their menu around their signature chicken sandwich and they have a cow as a spokesperson. You’ve probably seen the commercials where the cows wear signs, “Eat Mor Chikin,” with the hopes people will eat at Chick-Fil-A instead of the burger joint.

The marketing folks at Chick-Fil-A have gone one step further and created their very own Cow Appreciation Day, where anyone who dresses up like a cow – either from head to toe or just with an accessory – receives some free food. Think it’s silly? In 2011 they served 450,000 customers across the country.

Sure, they came in for free food but if they had a good experience, they will likely come in again for another meal or will bring friends to the next Cow Appreciation Day.

Did Chick-Fil-A use direct mailings to promote their holiday? I don’t really know but this would be an excellent case where they would finely target their list to include ONLY those people who lived near one of the 1,600 national restaurants.

Absolutely any business can create their own holiday with some planning and creativity. Add to that a special direct mail campaign promoting the holiday and you’ll create quite the buzz around your business.

The most important thing to remember is that your holiday should integrate effortlessly into your existing marketing plan. Chick-Fil-A already had a cow in their plans, so a Cow Appreciation Day was a natural choice. If your idea needs explanation for people to understand it, then it might not be the best choice.

If you don’t want to create a unique day, you can certainly plan a direct mail campaign around one of the other untraditional marketing holidays I discovered while researching online. Again, the holiday theme should meld easily with what you sell. Here are some examples:

January: National Bath Safety Month, National Blood Donor Month, Winnie the Pooh Day

February: Black History Month, National Grapefruit Month, Make a Friend Day

March: National Nutrition Month, Crochet Week, National Craft Month

April: International Guitar Month, Library Week, National Poetry Month

May: National BBQ Month, National Police Week, Mother Goose Day

June: Candy Month, Fishing Week, National Donut Day

Source: http://www.holidayinsights.com

A business owner who sells baby toys and clothing might consider promoting Winnie The Pooh Day by offering a discount on Winnie The Pooh merchandise. Create an appropriate mailing and send it 2 weeks before the event and hopefully you’ll see lots of traffic to your website which could then lead to sales.

As you can see, most of us have never heard of these “national” holidays before but if they tie in with what you sell, then use that to your advantage. Create a fun direct mail campaign, schedule fun content on your website related to your chosen “holiday” and share the buzz on your social networks.

Use Affiliate Power to Boost Contest Promotions

Now that you have an email list, you want to promote it. You’ve decided to use an online contest to boost email list sign ups, and now it’s time to get it all in motion. You’ve done the blog posts, created the graphics, decided on the type of contest, got all the technology in place, and now you’re ready to roll.

An online contest will generate leads, make sales, drive traffic to your website, increase brand recognition, and even create consumer generated content. All of which will add to your business’ bottom line. There are many ways to promote contests and you should use them all, but one overlooked method is to use affiliates.

Affiliates can use your contest to help them promote your products and services, so why shouldn’t they want to promote it? You can sweeten the pot by offering some sort of pay out, or you can have another simultaneous contest only for your affiliates awarded to the person who gets the most people to sign up for the contest. This will encourage them to promote your contest even more.

If you don’t have affiliates yet, you can use the contest to boost subscriptions and affiliates at the same time. Email lists and affiliates are fabulous ways to promote all your products and services to the most people with the least effort. If you have more than one person promoting with you, at the very least you’ll double your efforts. But, if you have an army of affiliates excited about the contest then you may be able to multiply yourself. What can be better than that?

Online contests are an enormous boost to traffic and if you use the contest the right way: To get new email addresses for your email list — you’ll be reaping the benefits of the contest for months and even years to come.

It is important to follow some basic guidelines when creating an online contest:

* Know the laws — Every state and country has different laws regarding contests, including online contests. Do a double check to ensure that your contest is legal.
* Know your goals — Clarify your goal of building your email list via online contests and ensure that you’re set up to do just that.
* Be creative — Don’t skimp on graphics and other marketing collateral for your online contests. Contests are fun so have fun creating it and everything that goes with it.
* Use all avenues — Marketing is never a one trick pony. It’s important to use all avenues of marketing for your contest including email, social media, blogging, podcasting, webinars, guest blogging, etc… don’t ONLY use affiliates. Use everything.
* Be ready — That’s right, don’t ignore the technical aspects of the contest. Ensure the technology works, double check with your website host that it can handle a sudden boost in traffic, and ensure that your landing pages are set up right. Nothing is worse than doing all that work only to have a crashed site or someone going to the wrong landing page and not being able to enter their email address.
* Educate your affiliates — Before the contest let your affiliates know about what you’re doing so that they will also be ready to promote your contest. Get them excited too about promoting it and winning something themselves.
* Announce the winner — You’d be shocked at how many people have a contest and never publically announce the winners. It’s important to promote your winner as much as you promoted the contest. Believe it or not, it’s yet another opportunity for you to get more newsletter signups because they’ll want to know about the next contest once they see a real winner.

Using Testimonials In Direct Mail Campaigns

Think about your own experiences making a large purchase or hiring someone for a job. You asked lots of questions, maybe even interviewed the candidate for the job and probably asked for references or product reviews. Most people want to hear about others’ experiences before parting with their hard-earned money.

Client testimonials offer social proof that your business is professional, reliable and dependable. So instead of making the potential client do all the research, make it easy for them and provide positive testimonials on your website, in your direct mail campaigns and any other printed marketing materials you use.

Here are some standard rules for using testimonials correctly in your marketing materials:

1. Ask for testimonials. Your customers aren’t mind readers so simply ask for a testimonial if your customer has had a good experience. If the customer has had a less than stellar experience, don’t ask for a testimonial at that time. Instead, nurture that relationship so they come back and if the next experience if better, ask for one then.

2. Use a headshot photo. Adding a real photo helps personalize that testimonial for the reader. Avoid using stock photos because they look too professional and might harm your credibility.

3. Stay within your demographic. People want to hear from others they can relate to so use testimonials from others in your target demographic. Pick and choose the testimonials depending on what region or demographic you’re marketing to.

4. Focus on success. Ask your customers to showcase in their testimonial how your product or service made their lives better or easier.

5. Don’t ever make up testimonials. This will tarnish your reputation and credibility if you’re found to fabricate testimonials. There are no rules about how many testimonials you can use so if you just have one, use that one until more people submit them.

6. Get permission to use client names in your marketing materials. Chances are if they agree to give you a testimonial, they understand that you’ll post their name and possibly business name along with it. But some people might want to be anonymous so don’t assume it’s alright to post their name on your direct mailer.

7. Don’t bad mouth your competitors. Encourage your clients to focus on the positive aspects of their experience with you, rather than the less than spectacular service of your competitors. Allow your good reputation and glowing reviews to speak for themselves.

8. Make the process as simple as possible to submit a testimonial. Provide a questionnaire to your customers to help them craft their review and an easy way for them to provide a photo.

9. Reward your customer when they submit a testimonial. People want to know “what’s in it for them” and submitting a testimonial really provides nothing additional for the customer. The value benefits the business. Adding a small coupon or other reward for each testimonial received can be added incentive to getting them submitted.

Testimonials can serve as good word-of-mouth advertising but business owners can’t be afraid to use them. In this internet age social proof is very important and the more positive testimonials you can gather and use wisely, the more your reputation as a leader in your field will grow.

Making Video Marketing Work for You

You’ve decided to make a video this time, to help sell your product. If you’re nodding you’re head in agreement, I’ve got three words of advice: “Just do it!”

It doesn’t matter if you have the latest software or a top-of-the-line camcorder. It doesn’t even matter if you’ve made a video before. The truth is, teens and pre-teens are uploading home-made videos to YouTube every day – and getting views that would make many marketers drool with envy! There are 3 main keys to making a video that gets views:

1. Keep it real. Your honesty and enthusiasm are what will help sell your product – not whether or not you can out-direct Quentin Tarantino
2. Promote it. Create a buzz. You can bet that’s what the “kids” are doing – telling all their friends, announcing the video using YouTube’s “Share” feature, talking about it on Facebook, leaving comments on other similar or related videos in their YouTube group…
3. Make it interesting. It can be as flawed as all get out, production wise, but if it’s interesting – even if you have to stand on your head and juggle with your feet – it will get views.

(And if it’s interesting enough, it may go viral!)

Here are some solid tips to help you get started…

The Most Importing Tip For Making a Successful Video – First Time

1. Use a storyboard or rough script. If you’ve never made a video before, chances are, you’re going to either ramble on, using up precious seconds – and rambling will tip your video firmly over into the “boring” camp – or miss out vital information. Using a storyboard or rough script will help you:

• Stick to the point

• Include everything you need included

If you are a “visual” learner, use a story board – quick, scribbled thumbnail sketches (“stick people” are fine) showing each point in “frames” (think of it as a comic book page).

If you do better with lists, use a rough script. This is not the sort of script you read word for word – doing that would ensure you ended up with a “wooden”, deadly dull video. Rather, just a reminder of the key points you need to include (such as your call to action, and website URL).

Shoot your video, edit, upload to YouTube – and promote.

The important thing to remember in all of this is… yup, you got it: “Just do it.”

3 Reasons Why Your Comments Get Deleted

Have you ever written what you thought was a positive, timely comment to a blog you like, only to never see it appear? … Or worse… see it on the blog for a day or two, then have it disappear?

Most likely it’s nothing to worry about. Blog owners don’t check their “comments to be approved” section for days, or they hit the wrong button when deleting potential spam (we’ve probably all of us realized that split second too late, we just deleted a favorite follower’s post by mistake).

But if it happens to you frequently, check to see if you’re making these unwitting mistakes…

1. Leaving incredibly short, vague comments.

You may have been totally sincere when you wrote: “Cool blog! I’m so glad I discovered this site!” but unfortunately, that’s exactly what spammers do.

FIX: Leave comments that contribute to the conversation. Reference some specific point you agreed or disagreed with in the post. Offer an alternative viewpoint, elaborate a little more (providing you know some fact that adds to the post value).

And if you really can’t think of anything to say but: “Oh Wow! I love your blog!” – it’s really not worth commenting at all, kindly though your sentiments may be.

2. You’ve accidentally violated a rule.

For example, including a link in your comment, when the blog’s guidelines say “no URLS in comments”; or you’ve used aggressive or crude language and offended the shy owner of the Warhammer blog with your raunchy old lady knitting comments.

3. You’ve just posted something extremely dazzling that makes the poster look bad – especially if he’s a direct competitor.

This is called “not being very smart” in the real world, and is akin to beating the boss at golf.

Fortunately, it doesn’t happen too often… but if you can shake your competitor so badly that he stoops to deleting or not acknowledging your comment – you won’t need much help in the near future with your linking efforts!

Your Target Market Doesn’t Need to Know Your Personal Business

When it comes to social media most of us have either purposely or accidentally combined our personal and business on one social media account. Sometimes it can be a good idea to combine the two but only for very specific types of businesses. With the newer technology and the ability to block, segment, and differentiate what our followers and friends see of our activity on social media it’s easier than ever to keep your personal business private.

You may not realize that you have a right to keep your personal life separate from your business. But you do. It can be awkward when a business associate tracks down your personal Facebook page and asks to “friend” you but you know that you probably disagree on at least one of the three items that shouldn’t be discussed in mixed company: Religion, Politics, and Baby Poop. But you’ll be doing yourself and your business a huge favor.

Simply tell your business associates, when and if it comes up, that you like to keep personal and business separate, and that they won’t get important business updates without following or “liking” your business account. Then give them the link to your business account profile. It’s more than likely they will completely understand and even praise your decision. They’ll see how important business is to you.

Having separate accounts or using the technology to segment your audience can give you amazing freedom. You’ll be able to be yourself on your personal social media accounts, and you’ll be able to better focus on business with your separate business social media accounts. No worries about differences of opinions or accidentally offending someone.

Having separate accounts will give you the option to outsource some of the social media interaction and updates that you need to engage in as a business. It’s also good to take time off from work and if your accounts are intermingled when you’re trying to take time off work it will be difficult when everything is together.

Keeping your accounts separate will allow you to honor your own privacy as well as that of your friends and family too. Often people do not set up their social media correctly and do not realize that “friends of friends” can often see their private information to include telephone numbers, birthdays, and more. Plus sometimes your family and friends will tag you in something they think is funny that your business partners don’t find quite as funny.

Aside from the obvious personal issues above, another reason why you want to keep your personal business separated is that if you build a brand for your business separate from yourself and your name, you can build it bigger outside of yourself and even sell the business easier later, when and if you decide to retire or move on. Selling a business that is a separate entity from your personality is a lot more lucrative. A business named after yourself, or that completely relies on your name isn’t a very salable business and you wouldn’t want to transfer over your personal accounts to someone anyway.

Just remember, you have every right to keep your personal life separate from your business life. Anyone who is offended that you don’t want to “friend” them on your personal social media accounts needs a lesson in online business etiquette.