Wednesday, February 6, 2013

10 Building Blocks Of A Successful Marketing Email

Everyone has an email account. You need it for when you sign up for things online or maybe as additional contact information to keep in touch with the teachers at your children's school. Some people check theirs every day, while others, like myself, fear the inbox because you know it has become completely overrun by spam. There was a point about a year ago that I had neglected my Yahoo for so long, that I had over 1400 messages just in my inbox alone. I was terrified! How was I supposed to go through all of those messages and sort the items I wanted to read now or put off til later? It was a nightmare and we've all been there.

One of the culprits for my inbox being so engorged was an email campaign that discussed healthy eating sent out by a certain magazine. When I had initially signed up for these emails, I figured I would receive maybe one or two a week, and that these emails would give me simple tips on creating a balanced diet. Wrong. I had received an email every single day from this publication for the previous 6 months, if not longer. There was no way I was going to utilize the hundreds of eating habits suggested and what's worse, the content was sloppy, contradictory, and simply annoying.

I quickly found the 'unsubscribe' link at the very bottom of the email in teeny, tiny print and did not hesitate to click. This is exactly what you as the business owner want to avoid. And I am going to tell you how. Follow these guidelines and your customers will be much more inclined to read your emails and respond to them in a timely fashion.

  • Interesting Subject Line
    • This needs to be brief and to the point. Make sure you use words that will pull them in, not instantly delete without even opening the email.
  • Simple Layout
    • Unless it is absolutely necessary to include a large amount of information, less is more. Remember that your customers probably have dozens of other emails to sort through so don't overwhelm the reader with too much on the page. Definitely include color but keep it classy and professional. The most successful blogs and websites keep their text black against a white background with limited color surroundings so take a cue from the pros.
  • Use Proper Headings
    • Yes, it may take a few extra minutes BUT every email needs to be addressed properly to every single customer. If the reader sees "Dear {insertname}", they will immediately know that you are just copying and pasting and sending. There is nothing wrong with trying to save time so find the right email program that will automatically plug in the recipients' name.
  • Include Quality Content
    • No one wants to sit and be forced to read a lengthy email. This leads to premature deletes. Make your point quickly and easy to understand. Are you offering a limited discount on services or products? Tell them that, and only that. Also, use some industry specific terms but you do not want to sound like a robot. Your customers should feel like you are having a casual conversation and this email is a special offer just for them. But if you don't have anything good to say, don't say anything at all. Don't continue to send random emails purely to 'be seen'.
  • Limit The Graphics
    • If an email takes more than 5-7 seconds to load because there are so many pictures, I immediately delete it. Some people have their email accounts set up so they receive the text only so don't rely on images to carry the weight of your email campaign. Only use quality images, not that stock garbage you can find in a search engine. And for the love of all that is professional, do not use any form of clipart or wordart. Technology has moved so far beyond that and you don't want to look like a middle school power point presentation.
  • Go Easy On The Form Fields
    • If you must attain information from your customers, include a working (keyword!) link that will redirect the reader back to a specific landing page on your main website. They'll be more inclined to give away information if they feel it is secure within your site.
  • Call To Action's Are A Must
    • Tell the reader exactly what you want them to do after they finish reading this email. "Print now & bring to store to redeem!" "Click here for special savings!" "Call now to make an appointment!" You would be surprised how many people will skim through the content and never actually do anything with it. So tell them.
  • Timing Is Crucial
    • If you are running a limited-time offer, allow your customers adequate time to redeem. Plan out your campaigns and run them on schedule.
  • Allow For Replies
    • Many businesses create email campaigns but don't think about including a link for people to respond. There will always be someone who has a question or concern. Add a link with a legit, functioning email address that you have designated as your 'Reply' email. And don't forget to actually read these.
  • Always Give The Option To Unsubscribe
    • We all hate to lose customers but sometimes people simply are no longer interested in your product or services. Include an 'Unsubscribe' link and be honorable. If they don't need you anymore, don't weigh them down with unwanted emails. Remove them from your mailing list and move on.
So, did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments how you have built successful email campaigns.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Your InReachHUB & Social Media

These days, everyone is on either Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+... even Myspace is making a comeback.  People want to be connected at all times and some will use multiple websites to do so. Odds are, you are reading this because saw a link in your news feed, twitter feed or it popped up as a suggestion in your Google Reader. Some feel that constant posts from businesses or organizations can clog up their feed but what they don't realize is that they are helping those businesses just by seeing and clicking on those links. We, as marketers, use those clicks and Likes and retweets to very specifically calculate how well our advertising campaigns are doing and what we need to change.

Social Media websites have become the LARGEST outlet for advertising and marketing in the world but you'd be surprised how many companies are not aware of the potential. Sure, there will always be television, radio and print advertising but, let's face it, pretty much everyone is logged on & queued in to the internet. Twitter has, to date, over 500 million active accounts, but to be fair, only about a third of those are real living, breathing tweeters, while the rest can be attributed to spammers and robots. Regardless, that's still approximately 150 million people that you could potentially expose to your business. And with over 1 billion users on Facebook alone, how many more people can you reach? The exponential possibilities are truly endless.

However, you don't want to find yourself sucked into an hours-long social media session, only to realize you really didn't get much done. Manage your time right; here are some helpful tips. Now, here's where InReachHUB comes in. With your InReachHUB site, you can add the links to your profiles on the home page so no matter what social media site your customers are using, they can always find you. Also, there is the Updates page, where you can, just like Facebook and Twitter, post a status update and it will automatically sync with your social media pages. Why have multiple tabs open in your browser and retype the same information over and over? Do it once and you're done. Your customers will be constantly connected to you and you will also be able to determine what type of content attracts people and from where they are looking. That sounds like a triple win for you! Man, the internet is an amazing tool, don't you agree? 

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Importance Of A Successful Marketing Message

Let's say you're driving down the freeway and you see a billboard with an advertisement that really catches your eye. The image is bold and jumps out at you. The product is something that you are interested in. The message grabs your attention and elicits enough curiosity that you think about it for the rest of your drive.

This actually happened to me the other day and coincidentally, the billboard had an image almost identical to the one above, which I had previously chosen for this post. The advertisement was for a real estate office, which I am not too interested in at this point in my life but it definitely was memorable. They made the clear statement that they were standing out from the crowd and could offer a better experience than anyone else. This company has created a perfect marketing message.

But now you have to ask yourself: Are we more memorable as the other guys? Did we convey our message in an appealing way? Do we offer services that will fulfill a need more effectively and efficiently than our competitors? You better hope so! Your marketing message is a crucial piece in your overall marketing plan. also has some really great tips that can help you to compose a successful marketing message, while has similar ideas that are equally as important.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

If You Don't Believe In Your Product, No One Else WIll

Find a need and fill it. This is probably what they teach you on the first day of business school. It seems like a simple concept but when starting your own company, this first step can make or break your future.

But, if you've made it this far, then you most likely have already figured out that need in which you want to fill and are on your way. However, while there has to be a need in order for people to buy into your product or program, the need alone doesn't guarantee a sale. One of the biggest factors in people choosing whom they buy from is the genuine passion of the person they are speaking to. You have to truly believe in what you are selling. If you're not bought in, they won't be bought in. 

Example: 7 years ago, I got the brilliant idea (sense the sarcasm?) that I wanted to be a car salesman at a high-end dealership and that I would be excellent at it. I'm very social and can talk your ear off, I learn very quickly so memorizing the specs on a dozen different models would be a breeze and the management team had endless faith in my skills. Oh boy, was I wrong!

It was excruciatingly difficult to sell something that, 90% of the time, was out of budget for the buyer and usually had more bells and whistles than anyone could use in a realistic lifestyle. This internal negativity set me up for failure from the start. Oh sure, I could talk to people and have a good time while going on test drives, but when it came down to the wire and getting them to 'sign on the line', I simply could not close the deal. And I know now it was because I didn't believe in the product.

I would NEVER purchase one of these vehicles (makes and models purposely omitted) so how could I convince someone else to do so? I lasted a mere 5 months and walked away with my tail tucked between my legs. I had undoubtedly failed because I didn't agree with or like the product I was selling. And I think people could see right through that in my sales pitch.

So what's the moral of the story? You need to care about, no, love whole-heartily, no still not right... be willing to go to the ends of the earth and back to defend and sell your product. You should want to shout it from the rooftops that you are here to fill someones need and you have exactly what they have been searching for. If you don't have this kind of passion, then you are in the wrong industry, my friend.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Boost Your Value With Co-Marketing

Coca-Cola joined forces with American Idol back in 2002 to promote the first season of the US version of the UK-based singing competition.
Not all marketing is created equal. Not every idea grabs the attention of your target audience and some strategies just fall flat completely. But never fear. Sometimes all it takes is a little collaboration with fellow business owners.

Co-Marketing is the practice where two individual companies create and jointly develop a new product, service or brand, and normally jointly promote it. For example, Nike and Apple joined forces a few years ago to develop the surprisingly affordable Nike Sports Kit, that syncs up to your iPhone and can track your exercise routines, weight loss and other similar things. Both companies are obviously huge in their own right and really don't need co-marketing to expand their brand but I think it was an incredibly smart move. This product hit the shelves right around the time that the iPhone capabilities had expanded exponentially and inspired dozens of apps that coincided with the kit.

The success of the Nike Sports Kit is undeniable but not all businesses can team up and create a marketing campaign that makes sense. We've all seen things like, "Bring your movie stub and receive 15% off at Joe's Pizza." But a company that sells high-end designer furniture probably wouldn't do very well teaming up with a children's toy company. The two just don't fit together. The key is to find a compatible company and find a common expectation. Promotional partnerships not only lead to reduced costs but also can lead to increased exposure to new audiences. The end result may be more than you could have ever hoped for.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Don't Compound Your Mistakes

Every business makes mistakes. Every boss makes mistakes and so does every employee. It's human nature. We are not perfect. And if you are lucky enough to have a flawless track record in your business, well, be ready for that first big slip-up because it is bound to happen sooner rather than later. But it's OK!

There will always be a miscommunication with distributors, an extra '0' added to the end of your order of 10 printer ink cartridges or an important message that was not passed on to you from reception. All of these things can be fixed and usually, it is not something that will bring your entire business crashing to the ground. So relax, take a deep breath and figure out the next step to correct the mistake.

Many times, these mistakes will involve a customer or client. Some people just can't be pleased and that is not always your fault. But you need to do whatever you can to resolve the issue as quickly as possible. There are times where a customer complains endlessly but then turns around and claims that they want nothing in return, just 'letting you know' that they are unsatisfied. These people want to be acknowledged and their frustrations recognized. Let them vent, admit fault when appropriate and make it understood that you are deeply sorry for your mistakes. Most of the time, this simply gesture is enough to let the customer feel that they have been heard and their opinion truly matters to you.

I used to work at a restaurant and I took a call from a woman stating that she had ordered from our Gluten-Free menu and yet still got sick when she arrived home. I apologized sincerely and asked if she wished to speak to a manager, as he would definitely refund her money and probably give her anything else she wanted. She refused to even be transferred and simply told me that she wanted us to be aware that our mistake could cause many people to get sick in the future but that she would never return. I again apologized and I felt terrible after ending the call, even though I had nothing to do with her visit.

Situations like this can be settled in a variety of ways but what you have to remember is that your customers are your livelihood. If you made a mistake and someone leaves unhappy, odds are they will not return. Here are a few statistics that I dug up:
  • 86% of consumers quit doing business with a company because of a bad customer experience. (Source: Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Impact Report)
  • Happy customers who get their issue resolved tell about 4 to 6 people about their experience. (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC)
  • A dissatisfied consumer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience. About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. (Source: White House Office of Consumer Affairs, Washington, DC)
  • It takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for one negative experience. (Source: “Understanding Customers” by Ruby Newell-Legner)
  • For every customer complaint, there are 26 other customers who have remained silent
    Source: Lee Resource Inc
That last one really stuck out to me. Even if you personally respond to complaints and do whatever you can to dissolve the issue, there are dozens of others out there that you are not even aware of. So it is more important that ever to provide the absolute BEST customer service you can.

What it all comes down to is this: You will always make mistakes in your business. It's normal and it happens to every business owner out there. But what will set you apart (and keep your customers coming back) is your ability to fix your mistakes quickly and to a standard that you would expect yourself from any business. And try not to make those same mistakes in the future. That's the big one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Stay in Touch With Your Current Customers

We all know how important it is to continually build your customer base, but where many businesses go wrong is not showing appreciation to their current customers. During the lifetime of your business, you will spend valuable time and money acquiring new customers and, according to statistics, 20% of them will buy from you again. Make sure you communicate with them regularly and provide value to them over the long-term.

There are so many ways that you can keep people coming back just by letting them know you are still there and you are their best choice. For example, the online marketing platform that my company has developed, inReachHUB, has multiple tools that were specifically designed with this in mind. Here are a few ideas that will help you to stay in touch with your customers:

  • Mail out coupons. If your business sells products that can be shipped directly to someone's home, you can build a database of customer addresses and send them coupons. Whether it be weekly, monthly or quarterly, everyone checks their snail mail and sometimes having a coupon in hand is the fastest way to get them to walk back into your business. Also consider adding a QR code, which is like a barcode that consumers scan with their smartphones that links directly back to your website. You can do this for free at a site such as
  • Create an online mailing list. While some people prefer to have a physical coupon in hand, especially with the rising trend of extreme couponing, others prefer the digital kind that arrives via email. You may think that creating an online coupon can be time-consuming but that is simply not true. is a great site that is free and will archive your coupons for later use. Make your coupons simple, clear to understand and easy to redeem. Putting your QR codes on these coupons doesn't hurt, either.
  • Invite customers to follow your social media pages. Social media pages like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest have exploded in popularity over the last decade and businesses have taken notice. This past September, Facebook achieved an incredible milestone of 1 BILLION users. While I couldn't find great statistics, there are somewhere around 175 million American users, close to 1/5 of the entire Facebook community. Twitter has a smaller society, around 500 million users, but over 140 million are right here in the states. It can only help your business to grow if you build a presence on these sites and create excitement that will attract more and more followers.
  • Call them directly. Now, this may not be the most ideal choice for many. These days, phone solicitors are avoided like the plague, particularly from larger companies. And I can bet that almost no one wants to get a call from the car salesman they worked with 2 years ago about a sale on windshields. I would only suggest this route if you have a smaller, more personal business where you have had previous one-on-one contact with the person you're calling.
With any of these options, I suggest keeping strict records. You don't want to bombard someone with emails or phone calls because you didn't pay attention. This can have the opposing effect and cause them to run in the other direction. Also, by doing so, you will have an exact time period of how long someone has been your customer. You can then offer special deals or rewards for the folks that have stuck by you the longest. A local dentist here in Sacramento has a patient appreciation party every year with a beautifully catered dinner that is 100% covered by the host, just to show his patients how much he values their continual business. I think we could all take a cue from him.

I cannot stress enough how much this can help your business. It goes hand-in-hand with my previous post, which focused on follow-up communications. When you touch base with people and keep them updated on what's going on, it tells the customers that you appreciate their business and you don't want them going anywhere else. Receiving that kind of acknowledgement makes people feel all warm and fuzzy, like they have personally contributed to their success. This will encourage people to spread the word about your wonderful business, which will expand your customer base and, in the end, everyone is happy.