Entries Tagged 'Essential tools for small businesses' ↓
August 27th, 2014 — email copywriting, email marketing, Essential tools for small businesses
It’s time to let the world know your company exists.
What better way to do that than by email marketing?
In a few minutes, your sales email is ready and waiting to be unleashed on the world. You click send and stand back preparing yourself for when the phones start ringing.
Hold on a minute, you’re going about it all wrong.
For starters, if you’ve bought a list you’re heading nowhere fast.
Think about it for a moment.
You’re about to send an email selling your products and services to a bunch of people who have never heard of you before and haven’t asked you to get in touch.
That’s a big problem.
If you’re not sure why let me ask you something – what do you do when you sift through your emails in the morning?
What happens when you come across one from a company you’ve never heard of before that’s trying to sell you something you haven’t asked for?
You delete it, right?
So why do you think the recipients of your email are going to do anything different?
That’s why buying in a list is never going to work.
Building your own opt-in list is a much better idea. For starters, the people on it would have heard of you and, secondly, they have given you their email because they are interested in what you have to offer, so your email is going to be relevant to them.
Yes, it takes time to build a list, but use every opportunity to get people to sign up: at trade fairs, during phone enquiries, when people visit your shop or showroom.
What is your email saying?
Is it telling them about your products and services?
Does it have a call to action directing them to your website or your phone ordering line?
Is it asking them to buy from you?
Stop right there. You’ve just committed the second most deadly email marketing sin.
The chances are, you’re fairly early on in your relationship with your email marketing list. If you dive in asking them to buy from you, you’re likely to be met with a lukewarm-bordering-on-frosty reception.
You’re asking them to buy without having gained their trust first.
You’re a new company to them (potentially a new supplier) so it’s important you spend time introducing yourself to them and offering them great information that will be of benefit to them.
Over time, they will get to recognise that your emails are packed with great insights, tips and hints and general warm and fuzziness.
The advice you offer them (completely free of charge) reflects well on you making you the go-to authority in your field.
Therefore, when they are ready to buy, whom do you think they’ll get in touch with first?
- The company that bombards them with sales or emails?
- Or, you who has been putting their needs first, giving them great information and advice without wanting anything in return?
I know who I’d put my money on.
Yes, you can include any offers or new products/service in your email, but make sure you also offer them useful information and advice first. The reference to your products should almost be an after thought.
Think like a customer
The best way to gauge how your email will be received is to think like a customer.
If it landed in your in box, what would you do?
Think about how it would come across to someone who doesn’t know your company that well – is it too salesy, too pushy?
Email marketing, although a fast way to reach thousands of customers in one hit, isn’t a ‘get rich quick’ marketing solution.
It’s all about building trusting relationships with your list.
Author – Sally Ormond, Briar Copywriting Ltd
May 3rd, 2013 — Building a business, copywriting tips, Customer service, Essential tools for small businesses, internet marketing, marketing, online marketing
What sort of marketing do you do?
- Social media – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc.
- Video marketing
What is the one thing that each of those need to be successful?
Every piece of marketing you produce must make a connection with your audience and that means thinking carefully about what you say and how you present it.
Here are 5 ways you can make your marketing more engaging.
1. Them not you
How many times have you seen a Facebook page, Twitter feed or email that’s all about the writer and not about the recipient.
Constant sales messages, promotions and pointless links are annoying. They don’t tell you anything about the company (other than they place their importance way ahead of anyone else’s) and certainly nothing about why you would want to deal with them.
By engaging and putting out messages that don’t involve selling – i.e. offer tips, advice and great information, you will begin to establish trust and give potential customers a reason to care about your brand.
That means focusing on what your customers want.
Asking questions is the best way to boost engagement. Although you can ask through social media platforms and surveys, a more intimate approach will work better.
Why not consider having a small networking gathering at your office for some carefully selected individuals? Perhaps a dinner or event (wine tasting?) will help you engage and get to know them.
Both approaches will not only give them a chance to get to know you better, they also offer valuable market research potential so you can make sure you continue to give your customers what they want.
Although asking questions is great, you mustn’t forget to answer them too.
With social media it’s very easy to get caught up in everything and miss the questions you get from your followers. There’s nothing worse than having your tweet, post, or blog comment ignored, so make sure you have someone manning those channels so nothing is missed.
If you get asked the same questions a lot, why not compile them into an FAQ page?
Just an idea.
4. Audience participation
The best way to drive engagement with the content you produce is to involve your customers in the creation process.
Use them as case studies or use their experiences to compile a blog post. You could even encourage them to add photos of them using your products to your Facebook page.
5. Don’t be a one trick pony
Written communications are all well and good, but don’t lose sight of the fact that people engage differently. Some may prefer audio or video content too, so offering a mixture will widen its appeal.
6. Be human
It’s widely believed that when you’re marketing your business it has to be very impersonal and corporate.
It’s a myth – the best way to engage with your audience is to inject some personality into the mix. Add a few personal updates and tweets to they can get to know you as a person.
As the above has shown, engagement is about getting to know your audience and customers. That kind of connection generates one of the most valuable commodities in business – trust.
How do you go about generating engagement? Do you use any innovative techniques? If so, leave a comment and share them with us.
Sally Ormond, copywriter and founder of Briar Copywriting Ltd. She also loves blogging, tweeting, cycling and the odd chilled glass of Pinot Grigio.
February 1st, 2013 — email marketing, Essential tools for small businesses
This article is mainly aimed at email marketing.
Email marketing is a great tool. You can reach potentially thousands of people within seconds, but it is also one of the toughest marketing tools to get right.
After all, you not only have to think about who you’re sending it to, but also your message, your subject line, when you send it and how you write it.
The ‘who you’re sending it to’ but is the main focus here.
You have 2 options:
- Build your own list in-house
- Buy in a mailing list
Undeniably, option 2 is by far the quickest, but it is probably the least effective. Here’s why.
The downside of buying in a mailing list
The first thing you have to remember is that although the list you have bought may be for your industry (or customer base industry), it doesn’t necessarily mean the people on that list are interested in what you’re trying to sell.
The second thing to remember is that they haven’t asked you to make contact with them. As your email is unsolicited there is no guarantee they’ll open it.
Carrying on with the unsolicited theme, there’s a very good chance they’ll view your emails as spam because they haven’t opted in to receive them. You may not think of that as a problem, but if you get tagged as a spammer, your IP address could get blacklisted meaning you could face fines and penalties for violating the CAN-SPAM Act and UK spam laws.
Finally, because the recipients haven’t opted in, you’re mailing isn’t going to be targeted and therefore is unlikely to be effective.
Basically, although it will take time to grow an in-house list, it will benefit your business in the long run because:
- The recipients want to hear from you
- You can tailor your email messages to be highly targeted
- You won’t be seen as a spammer
Author: Sally Ormond: Copywriter and MD at Briar Copywriting Ltd
August 29th, 2012 — copywriting tips, email marketing, Essential tools for small businesses, list building, online marketing
Email marketing is an incredibly effective marketing tool, but it can also be one of the fastest ways to ruin your business’s reputation.
If you blatantly send out emails to thousands of random people who have either no prior knowledge in your company, or interest in what you do, you will be labelled a spammer – not good.
But, if you take the time to build your own email marketing list from people who have opted in to receive information and offers from your company, then you will be providing them with information they want to see – and that is good.
Of course, building your own list takes time, but if you are a WordPress user, there are a few tools you need to be aware of that could help you grow your email subscribers.
Recently, my attention was drawn to a useful post on the Socialmediaexaminer.com site that takes a look at 7 WordPress plugins that can be used to grow your email opt-in list.
They look at:
- Pippity customised popups
- Comment Redirect
- Gravity Forms
You can see the full post here – 7 WordPress Plugins to Grow Your Email Subscribers.
So pop over there and have a look.
Growing your email subscribers is a great way to promote your business safely and get your content shared across the web, widening your reach out into your marketplace.
Over to you
Do you have any further tips on how to grow your email subscribers?
Perhaps there’s a different tool to those mentioned here that you use and have had success with.
Leave a comment below and share your experiences.
August 17th, 2012 — copywriting tips, email copywriting, email marketing, Essential tools for small businesses, internet marketing, marketing, newsletter
Does this sound familiar?
Do you want to see your website in Top 10 position in Google or other major search engine?”
Day after day I receive umpteen of these emails from SEO companies (and others) telling me they can get my website into a top 10 position in Google.
First, this is obviously a blanket email, because if they’d done any research they’d realise that my website was already on the front page for my chosen keywords.
And secondly, it’s addressed to ‘Sir/Madam’, so they haven’t bothered to take the trouble to personalise their email.
Not a great start then.
We’re all used to getting these types of emails, but it’s essential that you don’t fall into a similar trap when undertaking your own email marketing.
To spam or not to spam, that is the question
A little while ago I posted on the UK Business Labs forums about email marketing and how to get the most from it by offering relevant and targeted emails to your own, home-grown opt-in marketing list.
This caused a furore as it was intimated by a reader that email marketing was spam regardless of whether you use an opt-in list or a bought list.
However, provided you follow a few basic courtesies you should avoid alienating any of your customers.
Be clear from the start
The only way to gain trust and keep your customers happy is to be clear and upfront with then from the outset.
If you are cultivating your opt-in list to send out a newsletter, tell your customers how frequently you’ll contact them.
If you want to send a newsletter and occasional email marketing messages or offers, again let them know. If possible, offer a choice of messages so they can opt-in, for example, to your newsletter but not your other emails.
Giving them choice and being open and honest about what you intend to do with their email address will generate that all important trust that’s vital for strong and lasting customer relations.
Divide and conquer
As mentioned above, splitting your email marketing list and offering different communications that people can opt in and out of will help you target your marketing efforts.
That way, you won’t cheese off half your customers.
Don’t send out generic emails addresses to ‘Sir or Madam’. Use their name and make your communications personal.
So, is using an opt-in list spam?
Not in my book.
People who want to receive your news and offers gave those email addresses. So, provided you stick to your promise of what you’ll send them and when, how can that possibly be seen as spam?
After all, Wikipedia defines Spam as:
‘…the use of electronic messaging systems to send unsolicited bulk messages, especially advertising, indiscriminately.”
And, as your list has opted in to your messages they’re not unsolicited.
Over to you
What do you think about this issue?
What do you class as spam?
Leave your comments below and give us your take on this contentious issue.
Sally Ormond – Copywriter