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Best Practices for Influencer Marketing

marketing-influenceInfluencer marketing is based on the simple principle of word-of-mouth publicity but through the right people referred to as influencers. The job of a marketing company and influencer marketing is to identify such key influencers and rope them into an active marketing campaign for their products.

How does this work?
The advent of the internet has made it very easy to find online influencers. In this case, influencers refer to users who use a product and then talk, tweet, Facebook or generally blog about a particular product online. Marketing companies promote their products through a four step process in which they first identify the influencers. For example, popular products like Kraft are very commonly used by food bloggers. However, when a famous personality like Martha Stewart uses Kraft and blogs about it, she becomes an influence. Martha is a famous personality and now, savvy marketing companies prefer to pick simple bloggers and online personalities to promote their products. This is done by doing a Google search or by using internet search companies to find prominent online personalities that use a product.

Once the influencer is identified, the product company first markets to the influences to increase awareness of their product with the influencer. This is done by reaching out to the blogger or online personality and educating them about the product through online meetings, training sessions and even by recruiting them to be brand ambassadors. Marketing is then done through the influencer to his or her base of online followers. This immediately increases the exposure of the product, the influencer and the company. Once this step is complete, the company ties up with the influencer and actively markets to customers.

Tips to find online influencers and recruit them
Marketing companies use several different procedures to make the process quick and simple. They identify influencers by recognizing their social media reach. The influencers are rewarded for their work and they are encouraged to cultivate their database of readers or followers. By being personal and interactive with influencers, they can be encouraged to market personally to consumers. Companies also tailor make projects to suit the influencers style and personality and this ensures a better sales process.

Overall, influencers are encouraged to market products to their specific reader base. These individuals have influence over a specific subset of customers and these customers are more likely to purchase products recommended by influencers.

6 Tips for Better Subject Lines

email-subjectGet your emails opened with attention-grabbing taglines

It happens all the time: You've written the content for your newsletter. You have all the articles perfectly squared away and laid out. Then you're faced with the task of writing a compelling subject line so irresistible that readers can't help but open and read your email.

The good news is you can craft powerful subject lines and article headlines that will attract readers. Here are six key steps to making it happen.

1. List your audience's hot topics.
Do you know what the chatter is in your area of business and how your audience may be affected by it? Are people worried about a decrease in sales or donations? Are they looking for ways to cut back on spending or to eat healthier? Find out what your customers and members are buzzing about, and keep a list of these topics handy. That way you'll have fodder for ongoing newsletter content. Better yet, your subject line writing will become a lot easier because you'll know what's likely to get noticed in recipients' inboxes.

If your business or organization is in an industry or marketplace that's changing all the time, it's good to examine your hot topics once a month. For more stable markets, go through this practice every three to six months.

2. Include numbers.
Headlines with numbers in them work well because they imply easily digestible content. So why not use numbers in your email subject line too? For instance:

    "Only 4 seats left for next week's seminar"
    "A 10-point plan for marketing success"
    "3 ways to turbo-charge your marketing today"

Putting a number in your subject line makes what you're saying quantifiable. "Three quick points," "Eight simple tips," "Four seats left," etc. This lets readers know exactly what they can expect and makes them more willing to read the content.

If you're trying to figure out a way to get numbers into your subject line, think about the benefit you're providing to your readers. Let's say readers are looking for marketing advice, and the benefit they're hoping to receive is more sales. A subject line of "5 ways to increase sales" will encourage subscribers to open your message.

3. Get inspired.
Consider getting inspiration from subject lines and headlines you see in other publications. A great source of inspiration is a website called CopyBlogger.com. It offers out-of-the-box, engaging, and fun subject line and headline ideas for email marketers and bloggers. You wouldn't want to take anything you see there and copy it word-for-word, but choose a headline or subject line that catches your eye and tailor it to describe your own articles.

4. Encourage action.
With any subject line, especially a promotional one, make sure to include a call to action, such as a deadline or text like "Respond now," to get people to open immediately. Get in the wheelhouse of your audience by being interesting and engaging in your subject line, and inspiring urgent action.

Note: For membership driven organizations and associations, subject lines can be a little more generic since the audience is predisposed to opening messages from you. For instance, a credit union can send an email with a generic "Your April Statement is ready" subject line because, as a member, you're going to need the information contained within.

5. Think of your subject line as a tweet.
Social media is a great tool for extending the reach of your email, and in many cases, your subject line is all the text you'll need. For example, on Twitter, you only have 140 characters to communicate, including the URL of your archived message. That's more than enough characters for the subject line of an email. After all, conventional wisdom says that all subject lines should be five to eight words and no more than 40 characters long because some email clients will cut off the rest.

If you think of your subject line as a multi-purpose promotional tool for your message -- that it should encourage opens of your email and clicks from your Twitter feed -- then you'll understand why it should say more than just "Our April Newsletter." Be creative and, where appropriate, playful with your subject lines.

6. Test your subject lines.
Not every subject line will work for your campaigns, so test them out to see what tactics get your audience to open.

A good way to test is to make a list of all the people who opened an email from you in the last 85 days and divide it in two. Using the same email content for both groups, send one subject line to the first group and a second, different subject line to the other group. Then compare open and click-through rates to see which subject line performed best. One subject line could be more generic and the second could be more engaging. See which approach works best for your audience and pattern your future subject lines after that one.

With inboxes full of unread messages, it's the subject line that can deliver a winning click. Make your subject line stand out among the crowd to keep customers opening and reading your emails.

Content Is King: A How-To Guide for Writing Valuable Email Communications

Good content comes from within

Bulk-Email-Marketing-ServicesWhen it comes to ramping up an email marketing campaign, one of the biggest challenges small businesses and nonprofit organizations face is coming up with useful content to send out to permission-based mailing list subscribers. Yes, you could send the latest sales pitch or plea for donation, but if customers aren’t ready to part with their money, what value does that newsletter issue bring them?

In this guide, we’ll give you tools and ideas for creating compelling content that will provide value to your email recipients and keep them opening your messages each time they arrive in the inbox.

Share Your Secrets
As a business owner or organization leader, you have a wealth of secrets to success that have brought you to where you are. Everyone loves to be in the know, so share some of those insights with your subscribers. A few examples of “secrets” that could serve as valuable content:

  • Restaurants or other food service businesses could share a few favorite recipes with their fans. The chef could share recipes of items on the menu or provide exclusive dishes to readers. Even general cooking tips — remedies for an over-salted recipe, perhaps — can keep an audience coming back for more.
  • Craft stores could provide do-it yourself guides to some of the finished products they offer. Crafty customers will love the new challenges and will come into the store to purchase the materials they need.
  • Liquor retailers can list drink mixes or offer wine pairings for special meals, particularly around the holidays.
  • Consultants can use their newsletters to share advice with fellow business owners on best practices for growing a business or growing a mailing list.

In these examples, the main content of the message will feature content the reader can use in his or her own life or business. But that does not mean your entire email has to be devoid of a sales pitch. You can add a “sell” piece with a coupon block that can offer a percentage off the products and service mentioned in the newsletter.

Share Knowledge
Those in other consumer-oriented businesses might be thinking, what kind of tips can I offer? There are plenty of opportunities for you to provide knowledge-boosting content to your subscriber base.

  • Accountants can share their knowledge with customers. Finances and taxes are always a big concern for people, so share ways to get financially organized and better prepared to deal with the IRS come tax time.
  • A boutique could offer up unique gift ideas for that hard-to-shop-for customer. Think outside the box (pun intended) for gift ideas, particularly around holidays.
  • Spas can give readers home relaxation tips or ways they can keep that professional manicure looking good.
  • Home furnishing stores can provide customers with great tips on how to better decorate their home or how to find great values to make their house look great.
  • Consignment stores can offer tips for getting their used stuff cleaned up and ready to sell.
  • A doggy supply store could offer tips on pet health, hygiene for dogs, and dieting ideas for the overweight pup. List special events to get people — and their pets — into the store.

The takeaway here: Think about your business and ask what benefits you provide to your customers and clients. Then use your email communications to highlight those benefits to your customers in an informative manner.

Rely on Your Customers’ Expertise
Another option for content is to make your customers the experts. Sometimes, because they’re not as invested in and knowledgeable about your products and services as you are, they have a simplified perspective. Often, they value things about your products and services, or they have uses or tips, that you might not even be aware of.

  • Let your customers give advice. Instead of giving subscribers your tips, ask a few of your best customers what advice they would give to fellow customers. For example, a gardening center might send an email newsletter with customer tips and ideas for creating indoor gardens. The gardening newsletter could include related offers for plants mentioned in the newsletter.
  • Be an expert interviewer. Interview your customers about their experience or expertise and share the interview with your audience. For example, a travel agent might interview a customer who recently took a trip to a featured destination. In this case, including a few photos from the customer’s trip would be a great addition (after all, a picture is worth a thousand words.)

Turn questions into content
Customer questions posed to you through email, over the phone, on social media, or through any other channel are a perfect base for creating content. Chances are good that more than one person has the same question, so your answer can benefit many. Take the question and answer and turn it into an article for your newsletter.

For business-to-business organizations, monitoring social media sites — particularly Twitter and LinkedIn — for industry-related questions and trends can provide similar content. Take a question posed to a group and answer it in your newsletter. Doing so can demonstrate your expertise in your industry.

If it’s recommended that you get his or her permission before publishing the question in a public forum such as your email campaign.

Share your humanity
Nonprofit organizations can add content that takes the reader beyond just a plea for donations. Organizations should publish “mission statements” that bring the mission of the group to life. For instance, a local Leukemia Society could feature a child and family dealing with the disease. Doing so puts a real face on the issue for readers.

Profile staff members as well and share their story of why they’re involved in the organization. People like reading about other people, even if they don’t know them personally. And anytime you do a story about a person, make sure to include his or her picture. That makes the story come to life.

While the main body of your newsletter should be an article that ties to your mission statement, nonprofits can add a soft sell by listing ways subscribers can help without donating money. For example, they could donate used clothing, time, or goods. Make it obvious that there are many ways they can help.

Share content from others

Content from third-party sources
Not everything you offer in your email communications has to be original content. Sharing third-party expertise that can benefit your audience is a great way to deliver value without having to write it all yourself. Of course, when using third-party content, make sure to properly attribute where the content came from and link back to the original source. And don’t just repost another article. Explain why you like it, and what you hope your readers gain from reading it.

There are three kinds of third-party content:
Collectible Content, Pre-written Content, and Ghostwritten Content.

Collectible Content: Gather a handful of articles from the web that are related to your industry and the interests of your subscribers. In your newsletter, provide a brief description of each article followed by the link to the piece. This is a fast and easy way to put your newsletter together with quality content. All you have to do is share your opinion. It’s that simple.

A quick way to find content when you need it: consider saving articles from your favorite email newsletters and blog posts in a folder in your email inbox. This way you won’t have to look far for content.

Another great place to find articles to share with your audience is Google News. You can enter a search term such as “small business marketing” and the news database will pull up all articles related to small business marketing posted within the last few days. Just pick the ones that work for your audience.

You can automate this process as well by having Google News email you a list of the latest articles on a particular subject each day. Just enter a search term into Google News and then scroll to the bottom of the web page to sign up for instant, daily, or weekly alerts. And of course, your favorite social media sites can provide great suggestions for articles. If you see someone tweet or post an article, save that URL in a document and refer back to it later.

Before linking to a website, keep in mind that some online publications may have a reprint policy that includes linking. Generally, though, in this age of interconnectedness, it should be more than alright to link to an article you’ve found, just as long as you don’t claim to have written it yourself.

Pre-Written Content: There are many articles written by experts that are available for you to reprint (for free!) in your email fact, the web is filled with these types of articles. You just have to know where to look for them. Two recommended sites:
http://www.ezinearticles.com
http://www.ideamarketers.com

If you use an article from these sites, you will need to publish it in its entirety and include the author’s name. At the end of these articles the author always includes a paragraph link. Usually these links are harmless and just lead to the author’s web page for products or services. Be sure to check out these links before publishing the article so that you’ll know what content your audience will see.

Ghostwritten Content: The third option is to hire someone else to write your articles for you. It’s not as expensive as you may think. Best of all, with ghostwriting you retain all rights to the article and you can put your name at the top as the author. Just give the writer a subject, word count, example of what you believe good writing to be, and a firm deadline.
Wondering where to find quality writers? Here are a couple places to start your search:
http://www.elance.com
http://www.guru.com

Keep in mind that you’ll want to consider in advance what themes and ideas you want the articles to cover. This way the content will be higher quality and will truly stand the test of time.

Share your content through social media

Re-purpose your content across social media
Hitting Send on your email communication does not signal the end of your content’s life cycle. You can continue to use it across multiple social media channels in an effort to reach more customers, members, and prospects by linking to it on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or whatever social media site(s) you use.

Conversely, you can use social media to promote upcoming email content and drive subscribers. A day or two before your email is scheduled to go out, tease what the email is going to be about and direct fans, friends, and followers to sign up if they want to get this valuable information.

There are many ways a business or nonprofit can generate compelling content that will keep customers and members opening and interacting with their email campaigns. Once you have a handful of ideas, you’ll find the process is easier than you thought and you may even have more ideas than space to use them, which is a good problem to have.

Using Foursquare to Promote Your Business

foursquareIf you are looking for some innovative ways to promote your business, try using Foursquare, which is a social networking website that’s based on location. The term also refers to a game and a software for mobile devices. Users generally use a device specific application or text messaging to "check-in" at venues. So, registered users can use this web and mobile application to connect with friends and update their location. You too can use the platform of Foursquare to highlight specials to its users who check-in nearby and get useful data for your business from the location-based campaigns.

If you are wondering how to give your business some leverage using Foursquare, here are some tips to help you get started:

Persuade users to shout out: Though users can get the word out about your offerings by telling the same to their friends on Foursquare, it will be much more helpful if they shout out about the same on their Twitter profiles too. So, encourage them to shout out and you will see how amazing such a word-of-the-mouth publicity can turn out to be.

Engage your customers with some fun activities: You can create some unique tips list or to-do lists with a touch of fun and humor for the Foursquare users. Entice these people complete one or more of the tasks, and ensure that they get rewarded for the job. This will not only bring the fun side of your business to the forefront but also help customers to be at ease while they are at your place.

Create Foursquare specials: There are some tools that you can use to create a wide range of Foursquare Specials, which are customized for your customers and your venue. You can use Mayor Specials where your most loyal customer acts as the Mayor of the venue to unlock the special offers, Check-in Specials that’s unlocked by a user who has checked into your venue a certain number of times, Frequency-based Specials where users with frequent check-ins get rewarded, and the like. The basic idea behind these specials is to empower you to develop more engaging and long term ongoing relationship with your customers.

Promoting specials via mobile: You can actively promote your business offerings to Foursquare mobile clients (those who have Androids, iPhones, and Blackberry), thereby drawing their attention to venues that offer special deals to them. For example, a Foursquare user near your store can be informed about special treatments that he or she will get on visiting your store. In case you run a restaurant, a Foursquare user who has come to the venue can be informed about how he or she could unlock a free snack or discounted beverages.

Integrate it with other tools: You can use Foursquare more effectively for your business by using it with other social tools like Twitter and Facebook. You can also make videos or write a blog to attract and encourage the customers to use Foursquare. You can even thank the users who have checked into your location on Facebook or Twitter, and invite them to share their experiences and offer feedback, which in turn will help you to better your offerings.

So, start now and see how Foursquare can give a boost to your sales figures.