Monthly Archives: January 2017
When done correctly, advertising can attract new customers, build sales to boost your bottom line and enhance your reputation. This is why more than $180 billion were spent in advertising in the United States in 2015. With so many digital tools available, it can be hard to know where to start. As you work to drive additional traffic to your website, take a look at these ways you can market your small business.
How to Advertise Your Business
Businesses use display ads to highlight their products on websites in a variety of formats such as video, text, audio and images. Display ads share a common goal: to expand your online visibility and sell more products online. Two forms of display ads that drive results and get a positive response from Web surfers are pay-per-click ads and banner ads.
PPC advertising works really well with small budgets, yet business owners often ask themselves, “What is PPC and why should I use it?” Essentially, pay-per-click allows you to pay to get visitors to your site instead of earning those visits organically.
Banner ads are also a form of online advertising that entail embedding an advertisement into a web page. These ads generate a big portion of revenue for many websites. Usually the advertisement consists of an image in a rectangular graphic display that extends across the top or bottom of a website or down the right or left sidebar.
Social Media Advertising
One of many benefits of social media for business is that it provides a great way to cultivate more personalized relationships and better engage with potential customers. The goal of social media marketing is to coerce traffic to the product pages on your website — one of many ways to increase your small business sales.
The trick to a successful social media advertising program is to develop your online business persona. You want to humanize your small business, so post funny images or industry related links to engage your audience. You can also use social media to share and inform your readers about your products. The goal should be to speak to and connect with your audience.
This form of advertising is when ads are published in printed materials and circulated to the masses. Newspapers, brochures and magazines are forms of print advertising. These methods have many advantages, such as the ability to reach large audiences of a particular demographic. When you advertise, it’s essential to figure out where your primary consumer market will have the most access to your advertisements so your print is in the right places and reaches the right audience.
This mass-market form of communication includes radio and television. Broadcast advertising was once the most popular way a business could reach a large number of consumers, but the rise of the internet has changed that. There has been a significant decrease in broadcast advertising due to the rise of DVRs and the creation of technology that gives us the ability to skip ads. This method is still used though, especially during times like the Super Bowl.
Many businesses put advertising on the back-burner and think of it as an expense. Instead, marketing and advertising should be considered an investment. There are countless ways to put your brand out there; you just have to figure out which methods will help your business achieve the best results.
You don’t necessarily have to pay for a great email solution for your small business.
If you’re tempted by premium business-class email services such as Google Apps for Business or Microsoft Office 365, consider a free service first. Gmail, Outlook or Yahoo! Mail might meet all the needs of your business, without the monthly fees.
For new business owners, sticking with a free service can also afford you the time to let your business grow. Until you have at least a handful of employees, you might not need the features that paid email provides, such as collaboration tools and shared calendars. And waiting might make it easier to pick the right paid service for the long haul, especially if your company grows quickly.
But don’t settle on just any webmail service. Read on for five features you should look for in a free email solution for your small business. Then check out BusinessNewsDaily’s sister site, TopTenREVIEWS, for a full review and feature breakdown of the most popular free email services on the Web.
Custom email addresses
You want to appear professional, even if you’re not using a professional-grade email service. That’s why it’s so important to link your free email account with a custom email address that includes the name of your business or website. Instead of firstname.lastname@example.org, your email address can be email@example.com. An email address that includes your brand can give even the smallest of businesses an air of professionalism, and that’s important when you’re networking or connecting with new clients or customers.
Not every free email service allows users to set up a branded email address, and some require you to pay a recurring fee for the privilege. If you intend to stick with a free email service, be sure to pick one that allows you to customize the domain name in your address.
Advanced security features
Just because you’re using a free email service doesn’t mean you don’t deserve top-of-the-line security tools. The best free email services don’t just shield your inbox from spam. They also help protect your business machines against viruses and malware by scanning attachments and filtering suspicious messages.
Some services also restrict automatic downloads that could infect your machine, and offer phishing filters to screen against malicious emails that ask for personal information like passwords and credit card numbers. Even savvy small business owners can benefit from these automated security features, especially as your company grows.
Substantial inbox storage
You inbox is a record of every email correspondence you and your employees have made. By picking a service with generous storage limits, you can worry less about deleting and archiving old messages. That means your old emails, especially those that came with important attachments, will still be there whenever you need them.
Inbox storage limits vary widely among free services. Google provides 15GB of free storage for its Gmail service. But even that considerable amount of space might not be enough if you frequently deal with large email attachments. By comparison, other popular free services such as Yahoo! Mail cap your inbox at 1TB, and Microsoft’s Outlook has no cap on the number of email messages you can store.
Generous Attachment Limits
Does running your business mean sending and receiving large files such as spreadsheets, product orders or presentations? Most webmail services limit attachment sizes to between 10-25MB . That’s enough to send Word documents, but if you need to attach multiple PDFs or other large files, you’ll hit the limit in a hurry.
Many modern email services allow users to send much, much larger files by pairing your email with a cloud storage service. Google lets Gmail users send files up to 10GB, so long as the file is first uploaded to a Google Drive account. Similarly, Microsoft’s Outlook accommodates files up to a whopping 300GB if they’re uploaded to SkyDrive, and Yahoo! Mail offers similar functionality in conjunction with Dropbox.
IMAP stands for Internet Message Access Protocol. Email services that support IMAP allow for true two-way email management, so any email you send or receive in any IMAP client will synchronize with the provider’s server.
Not every free email service includes IMAP support, but it’s a must-have for business users. IMAP allows you to access your email through a mobile app or desktop client, in addition to the provider’s Web portal. That gives you more options to read, sort and be notified of new messages, so you can always stay on top of your email inbox. When looking for a way to access and manage your email across desktop and mobile devices, opt for IMAP over POP (Post Office Protocol.) POP allows you to download your email to any computer of mobile device, but erases your email from the main server in the process.
What’s the best way to stay in touch with your retail customers? According to a recent study, email blows all other marketing methods out of the water. Respondents of all generations, from Generation Z to Baby Boomers, prefer email communications from retailers by a wide margin.
How wide? Overall, 68 percent of consumers surveyed prefer to receive brand communications from retailers via email; just 6.9 percent prefer the next most popular method, in-store communications. (Rounding out the list, 5.6 percent prefer text messages and 4.5 percent prefer communications via Facebook.) This is one instance where the generation gap is quite small: 73 percent of Baby Boomers prefer email communications from retailers, and 62 percent of Millennials do, too.
Given the importance of email marketing to retailers, your approach to email needs to be on point. Take this seven-step email marketing checkup and see how you’re doing.
Email Marketing for Retailers Checklist
1. Are your emails segmented? Segmenting, or separating your email subscribers into different lists, helps you deliver more relevant emails. Subscribers may segment themselves based on how they opt-in to your emails, or you can segment them based on data you gather. You can segment subscribers in many ways, including:
Demographic information, such as age, gender, marital status, children
Transaction-related information, such as how often they buy from you, when they tend to purchase, and their average purchase amount
Behavioral information, such as what pages they view on your website, what emails they open and what previous email offers they’ve acted on.
2. Are your emails personalized? Personalization is key in getting results from your email marketing. It’s also part of what customers like about email: For example, 64 percent of Millennials in the survey say email is the marketing channel that feels “most personal.”
The basic element of personalization, of course, is using the recipient’s name in the body of the email and/or in the subject line. Email marketing programs make it easy to personalize your emails this way; you can even add references in the body of the email to things like a recent purchase or visit. However, you should also personalize emails based on how you have segmented your customers (see above). For example, if you own a boutique that sells infant and children’s clothing, you might personalize emails differently based on whether the recipients are parents or grandparents.
3. Do your emails offer perceived value? One company whose emails I subscribe to sends multiple emails per day — each touting an offer such as “20 percent off today only!” or “$10 off your purchase today only!” It’s blatantly obvious that these “one-day only” prices are not really deals, and I’ve begun simply deleting the emails altogether.
In order for your emails to be perceived as valuable — rather than pesky annoyances — make your offers meaningful. In addition to discounts or sales, also send emails with useful information. For example, the infant and clothing retailer I mentioned could create a list of “10 top kids’ fashion trends for 2017,” complete with photos of products you sell in your store. Don’t have time to create such a list on your own? Then link to an article elsewhere online — it’s fine as long as you credit it properly.
4. Are you using triggered emails? E-commerce companies use triggered emails frequently. For example, if you’ve ever abandoned an online shopping cart, you probably got a reminder email asking you if you still wanted to make the purchase. Brick-and-mortar retailers can use the same principle, creating triggered emails based on customer behavior. For instance, if a customer who used to visit your shop regularly hasn’t come in for several months, send a “We miss you!” email with a tempting offer. Collecting customers’ birthday dates and sending emails with a discount good for the birthday month is another smart tactic. Or take a cue from cosmetics retailer Sephora and offer a small free gift during the birthday month — no purchase needed.
5. Do your openers get attention? Focus your copywriting energies on creating good subject lines that clearly sell the benefit of the email and its value to the customer. Because the first line of an email’s body text often displays before it is opened, make it powerful, too.
6. Are your emails mobile optimized? More than half of all survey respondents primarily check email on their smartphones. The younger the respondent, the more likely they are to do this: 59 percent of Millennials and 67 percent of Generation Z primarily check email on their phones. Make sure that your emails display well on smartphones, with enough white space to be readable, and buttons or hyperlinks that are easy to click on. Equally important, any links that take customers to your website should go to a mobile-friendly webpage.
7. Do you make it a priority to build your email lists? Getting new customers to sign up is essential to maintaining a healthy email list. Always ask customers at checkout if they’d like to sign up to receive emails from your store. While you should never make this a requirement for the sale (or make customers feel like you’re being pushy), you can incentivize sign-up by sending them a discount offer as their first welcome email or explaining that by signing up, they can get digital receipts instead of or in addition to paper ones. Provide a sign-up sheet near checkout or, for more accuracy, use a point-of-sale system that enables customers to input their own email addresses.