Monday Morning Marketing – Are Email Newsletters Still Relevant?

Monday Morning Marketing – Are Email Newsletters Still Relevant?

Well the short answer is yes, absolutely!  Email newsletters are one of the easiest marketing tools to use, however they can be one of the toughest to do correctly.

Let’s begin with a short definition so we are all on the same page regarding what we are talking about.  An email newsletter is used to inform people who subscribe to it about announcements, new products & services and promotions (some promotions can be specific to newsletter subscribers only).

Email newsletters are very effective tools for keeping subscribers “in the know”, offering specific deals, promotions etc. and keeping your brand name fresh in people’s minds.  I have had more than one client mention that they chose to work with me because I was persistent (in a good way!) and kept in touch with them until they were ready to pull the trigger on their project.

Here are some quick tips to help you navigate the world of email marketing more effectively.

  1.  Choose a focus for your newsletter.  For example, my fiance’ Sandy has a jewelry design business called Dancing Goddess Designs.  Her newsletters typically focus on either a specific type of jewelry or specific sets for special occasions, holidays, seasons etc.  Try to focus on one aspect of your business in each newsletter or, better yet, most email newsletter providers will let you segment your contacts into different subject specific lists so that you can target specific newsletters to specific audiences.  Also, keep in mind that your newsletter content should be approximately 80-90% educational (to engage your audience) and 10-20% promotional (hard selling).  People will get turned off quickly if all you do is send out emails trying to get people to buy things.
  2. Your subject lines are a valuable tool!  Receiving an email with the subject line “Our Email Newsletter” is not really going to entice anyone to open it.  On the other hand, a subject line that reads “5 Sure Fire Tips To Grow Your Social Media Audience” is a much more effective and immediate call to action.  Don’t be afraid to keep your subject lines fresh and exciting and don’t fall into the trap of assuming people will open every email just because the subscribed to you.
  3. Prioritize your CTAs!  (bet that got your attention!).  A CTA is a “Call To Action” and it’s nothing more then asking your readers to do something specific:  “Click Here Now!”, “Read Our Reviews”, “Purchase Today!” etc.  Now odds are you are going to have multiple CTAs on any given newsletter, but you would do well to pick one of them and give it priority over the rest.  Pick the CTA you want most people to act on and put it high up on the page, bold, colorful and attention getting.   Make SURE everyone who opens that email sees it first!  Sure they may see the other CTAs as well but you want to make sure as many people as possible act on the primary.  This focuses people’s attention and keeps them from seeing a list of equally weighted CTAs which may turn them off by presenting too many at a time.
  4. Minimal is GOOD.  Oh did it take me awhile to learn this!  As a creative, I want things to be eye catching, colorful, over-the-top, FABULOUS!!!  In the world of email newsletters however, restraint is king!  Keep your designs simple but effective.  Keep your content to blurbs and excerpts with external links to “read the full story” if necessary.  People have to wade through mountains of emails every day and they are going to want their information to be presented in neat, digestible, easy to navigate chunks.  Small portion enticement is far more effective than a full course meal WITH dessert! (how did I get off on a food tangent there??)

There are, of course, many other tips, tricks and strategies that can be leveraged when thinking about email newsletters.  This however, is a great place to start.

As always, if you have any questions about what you’ve read in our blog posts, please feel free to contact us so we can discuss it with you and find out how Shadowbend Studios can be of service!

Take care,
Skip & Sandy

Launch Of The New Shadowbend Studios!

Launch Of The New Shadowbend Studios!

Good morning everyone!
It’s a crisp November morning here at the studio and we are all extraordinarily excited about the launch of the brand new Shadowbend Studios website.  This has been a LONG time in coming but having successfully navigated a stretch of challenges and obstacles (as evidenced by the rather large gap in my blog posts!!) Shadowbend Studios has come out the other side better than ever!  Our new branding and new website reflects our revitalized commitment to bringing our existing and new clients the best possible services in the realms of web design, search engine optimization, social media marketing, graphic design, web hosting and web security.

All of us at Shadowbend Studios are looking forward to the new year, celebrating 15 years in business and rolling out new services for our clients.  We invite you all to join us on our journey and stay in touch as we go!

Take care,
Skip

Monday Morning Marketing – Are Email Newsletters Still Relevant?

Monday Morning Marketing

“Your Morning Cup Of Marketing Know-How”

Let’s say you’re thinking through domain names for your new website, and you’ve shortlisted a few ideas.

If the one you want is available, it’s a no-brainer to go ahead and register it straight away.

Except…

… there’s one crucial check you need to make.

Is your domain name open to misinterpretation?

Let me share a few domain names with you:

www.penisland.com

oddsextractor.com

whorepresents.com

Did any (or all) of those sound a bit inappropriate for inclusion on DailyBlogTips?

Here’s the actual names of the sites in order:

Pen Island

Odds Extractor

Who Represents

Unfortunately, their domain names are far too easy to misread … as you may have noticed!

Does your domain name fall into this trap? (Even if it’s not a rude misreading.) If you think there’s room for misinterpretation, you might want to run it past a few friends or fellow bloggers – ask them to read the domain name then tell you the name of the site.

If you’re attached to the domain name you’ve chosen, you could consider adding a hyphen:

www.pen-island.com

www.odds-extractor.com

www.who-represents.com

We’d normally recommend avoiding hyphens (URLs are cleaner, simpler, and easier to remember and to spell over the phone without them) but in these cases, they’d probably be a good move.

Have you ever come across an all-too-easy to misread domain name? Share it with us in the comments.

original source: dailyblogtips enewsletter

Monday Morning Marketing – Are Email Newsletters Still Relevant?

Monday Morning Marketing

“Your Morning Cup Of Marketing Know-How”

Black Hat vs White Hat SEO: What You Need to Know

You’ve probably noticed that the internet can be a bit like the Wild West.

Newbies ride into town regularly – often with high hopes of getting rich quick. Perhaps you’re one of them (or perhaps you can at least remember those days).

“Snake oil” salesmen make outrageous promises about how their product can solve all your problems (usually with a heavy dose of yellow highlighter, and a few fake countdown timers).

And just like in the West, there are goodies and baddies – “white hats” who obey the law and “black hats” who break it. In fact, you may well have heard of “white hat SEO” and “black hat SEO” already.

Online, Sheriff Google lays down the law – and you definitely don’t want to get caught doing something you shouldn’t.

So let’s take a look at what you need to know.

What’s SEO?

SEO stands for “search engine optimization”. It’s the practice of getting your website or blog to rank highly in search engines – particularly Google, which dominates the market.

Sometimes, you’ll also hear “an SEO” used to mean “a professional search engine optimiser”.

Black Hat SEO

Black Hat SEO is SEO that goes against Google’s rules. It results in a website that Google won’t want to promote because no-one will want to read it.

Black Hat practices include:

  • Paying another site to link to yours.
  • Creating keyword-rich links using dodgy techniques, such as trackback spam.
  • Participating in link exchanges with sites that have nothing to do with yours.
  • “Scraping” other people’s content to use on your site.
  • Using hidden text that readers can’t see but search engines can (e.g. putting lots of keywords in white text on a white background).
  • Getting your site linked to from link farms.

(You can find a fuller list of Black Hat practices here.)

Basically, if a technique sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You can’t automate the process of building links to get hundreds overnight.

White Hat SEO

White hat SEO plays by the rules. It results in a website that Google naturally wants to promote, because it’s full of great content and easy for readers to engage with.

White Hat practices include:

  • Creating high-quality content for your blog.
  • Using WordPress or another solid CMS (content management system) for your site, so it’s well structured.
  • Writing great guest posts for other blogs, putting the relationship (not the backlink) first.
  • Using Google Webmaster Tools to fix any problems with your site.
  • Crafting clear, direct titles for your posts that use the same keywords readers would use.

It might seem like a no-brainer to you that White Hat SEO is the way to go … and we agree.

Black Hat SEO may lead to some quick results … but these will be swiftly followed by a huge drop in traffic when Google catches you. (And bear in mind that Google’s algorithms are getting cleverer all the time.)

As Daniel explains in Business is a Marathon, Not a Sprint, you should focus on the long-term, not on short-term results.

By using White Hat practices, you’ll be sure of building a site that stands the test of time. You won’t have to worry about Google updates knocking you down the rankings, and you’ll also find it easy to engage in other kinds of marketing – like using social media – because you’ll have something truly valuable to offer your readers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this too: are you actively using SEO techniques to get more traffic to your site? And have you ever used Black Hat methods (perhaps unwittingly) – or are you firmly on the White Hat side?

original source: daily blog tips enewsletter

Monday Morning Marketing

Shadowbend Studios’ Monday Morning Marketing
“Your morning cup of marketing know-how”

Online Web Marketing

4 Steps to Creating Better Goals for Your Blog

If you don’t write down your goals with clear instructions, your plans will be mere wishes.

I read the post Daniel brought to us to usher in the new year Write Down and Share Your Goals, and I thought it would be a good idea to expand on it to make sure you maximize the potential of your blog in 2014 by being specific about your goals.

Write down Your Goals

This might seem obvious and an echo of what Daniel said earlier, but this is still a very important step. You must be clear and concise with your goal writing. You can’t leave out anything, and you can’t imply it because your subconscious won’t understand it when you see it again.

It is best to have 5-10 goals in present tense, as active, affirmative statements.

  • I post 3-5 posts a week on my blog…
  • I earn $500-$1000 from my blog a month…
  • I am a successful blogger…

Write the Time Frame You Want Your Goal Completed

To reiterate: If you aren’t specific about your goals, you are merely wishing. If your goals do not have a deadline (somewhere between 3 months to 1 year), you’re unlikely to reach them.

Some people are reluctant to set deadlines, but they do three things to help you along.

  1. You will have the date in the back of your mind, even if you only write it once.
  2. You will be accountable, which will motivate you more than fear or shame from others.
  3. You will be able to prioritize your work accordingly.

If you say “I post 3-5 posts a week on my blog by March 31st, 2014,” you are committing to do just that.

Write What You Will Do to Complete the Goal

Flesh out your goals so that they become real plans. Add a line to each of them explaining what exactly you plan to do.

If you say “I post 3-5 posts a week on my blog by March 31st, 2014 by writing two short posts in the morning to create a back catalog,” you are now committing to what you’ll do and taking it upon yourself to adjust your morning routine to accomplish this.

Repeat Writing Your Goals until You Complete Them

There is something to be said about repetition. Through the act of writing your goals down every day, you are reinforcing your desire to do the task at hand. It will infuse your day with energy and emotion as you keep going through your day remembering what you wrote down.

It’s fine to change the wording of the goals, and their order, especially early on. You might have your posts goal in the number 3 position, but then the next day you have it in the number 6 position. Just keep writing them down. As your priorities change, so will your goals. This is a necessary part of the process.

Results!

I tested this out for myself from Sept. 1st, 2013 to December 31st, 2013. I wrote down 10 goals to start off with, but trimmed it down to 5 to make sure I could accomplish what I set out to do. They were:

  • I am a successful writer, completing 5 stories to 2nd draft by December 31st, 2013 through dedicated morning writing and taking any opportunity I can to write during the day.
  • I am a well-read person, completing 10 books on writing by December 31st, 2013 through reading first thing in the morning as I wake up for 30 minutes each day.
  • I am a learned person, earning two certificates through Coursera by December 31st, 2013 through focused study and diligent note taking when the classes were released.
  • I am a wiser saver, setting aside $2500 by December 31st, 2013 through a tighter budget and setting aside at least 10% of my income (and whatever bonuses I acquire).
  • I am a healthier person, weighing 200 pounds by December 31st, 2013 through better eating and steady exercise.

I am pleased to say I completed four of the five goals I set out for me by December 31st, 2013 (sadly, my love affair with burritos keeps me above 200 lbs).

With these steps, even just a few written goals can change your life.

Happy blogging! Once you’ve written down your goals, tell us about them in the comments.

original source: ali luke, daily blog tips enewsletter

 

Monday Morning Marketing

“Your Morning Cup Of Marketing Know-How”

8 Ways to Create Shareable Social Media Content

Online Web Marketing

According to Jonah Peretti, founder and CEO of BuzzFeed, creating content people love to share is the key to success.

Self-titled as the ‘hottest, most social content on the web,’ BuzzFeed features content ranging from breaking news to cat pictures that make you ‘LOL’ (laugh out loud).

Peretti emphasized one important rule for content, “You need to spend 50% of your time on the idea and 50% on how you spread it. Not 95% and then only a tiny portion on how to spread the idea.” Quality alone is simply not enough to making something spread, you need a strategy.

When it comes to creating content people will love to share, anyone can do it. Keep these eight helpful tips in mind next time you’re thinking of what to post.

1. Have a heart

Emotional intelligence is important when it comes to creating relevant social media content. The formula for success, in regards to social media marketing, begins with showing your fans and followers that you genuinely care about them. Focus on starting a conversation, not advertising your services. Listen and pay close attention to what your customers have to say and get to know them. This is what builds strong relationships. By recognizing the things your fans and followers care about (relevant to your business), you can create a meaningful community.

Also, don’t be afraid to add personality to your content. Prove to your fans that there is a living breathing person (or people) behind your brand. Content should never be dry and lifeless. Your audience may be professionals, but that doesn’t mean they’re not human. Remember, people use Facebook to make social connections with friends. Make your brand feel like a friend.

2. Discover what drives them

People use social networks to build profiles that express who they are. Consequently, people share content that helps them share their identities. This may sound harsh but it’s not likely that people are passionate about your actual product. It’s what your product enables them to do or what it allows them to express about themselves that’s important. What does your business’s product or service say about those who use or buy it? Tap into these insights and tailor your social content to speak to the unique personalities of your customers. This will create a vibrant, engaged community of people with common interests and passions.

3. React fast

During the Super Bowl blackout, Oreo got so much buzz from their on-the-fly Facebook post. The ad said, “You can still dunk in the dark.” It was incredibly simple but so successful because it was timely and subtle. Oreo reacted to an unexpected event and in turn created the most powerful ad on one of the most expensive advertising days of the year, for free! When your posts are timely, they feel more authentic and genuine. As a small business owner, you can use your smartphone to instantly react to breaking news or simply share an in-store exchange.

4. Walk a mile in their shoes

Cute animals deserve respect. ‘Huh?’ What Peretti meant is that you should be human and empathetic. Put yourself in the shoes of your fans and followers. The best content is content that is emotional. Use the perspective of your audience to shape the nature of your community.

5. Make them laugh

Perretti made a great point, “When you go out and laugh with your friends, you don’t remember the jokes, only that you laughed.” You don’t always have to fixate on the value level of your content. The emotion your content elicits is what creates a memory. It’s not mandatory that every post makes you ‘ROTFL’ (roll on the floor laughing), but humor is important when it comes to connecting with people socially.

6. Use nostalgia socially

People use social media to express themselves and share their past experiences. Content that pays tribute to something your customers might miss or may have forgotten creates connections amongst customers who share the same emotional reaction. This will create social chatter and engagement.

7. Take a stand

Caring about something that ‘matters’ is absolutely something people want to express. Nonprofits have a great advantage here. Let the passion you have for your organization shine through and if you’re not a nonprofit, show customers the ways your business gives back. You also shouldn’t be afraid to share the positive causes you stand behind. Be inspiring and your readers will be inspired to share.

8. Keep it classy

When people search for content on Google, they assume no one is watching. When people consume content on Facebook, they know everybody is looking. In fact, people are 25% less likely to purchase an embarrassing item online if there’s a social media button next to it (25% more likely if it’s an item they’d be proud to own). If you ever have any hesitation about posting something socially, don’t post it.

These 8 useful tips will help you create socially shareable, relevant content. Just make sure you spend as much time getting your content out there as you do actually creating it.

original source: constant contact blog

The Shadowbend DigestYour source for online marketing tips, search engine news, web design best practices and a bit of fun now and then! Sign up today for our twice monthly newsletter!