Archive for the ‘Advertising and Marketing’ Category

Bring Deliverability and Design Together to Maximize Email Marketing Success

January 28, 2009 — Tips for getting your permission-based marketing emails into the inbox and the actual design of the email are closely linked. Here you will find useful information on getting into the inbox, email design tips, and the nexus between the two.

If you are just getting back into email marketing after a break, are new to it, or are sending to an old list, make sure to ramp up your sending. This does not take long. If you have a large list, do not send to your whole list all at once but ramp up incrementally to maximize email marketing deliverability.

It is very important to keep a clean list. Too many hard bounces (email addresses that do not exist any more) can hurt your reputation with the ISPs. Pay close attention to keeping a clean list and purge as many bad addresses off the list as you can before you even send through a new Email Service Provider (ESP). You want to get off on the right foot with good delivery.

Keep in mind that the worst thing you can do to build your email list is to harvest emails off of Web sites, as this a flagrant violation of the CAN-SPAM act.

In addition, do not buy a list from some guy on the Internet who promises you the subscribers have all opted-in. They may have opted-in to hear from someone, but not from you. For you, they are likely to hit the spam complaint button along with the many others to whom this guy has sold the list. Sending to this sort of list will hurt your ability to reach your best customers or prospects.

No matter which ESP you choose, they will assign you an IP address – either shared or private. This IP address, not your email address, is the “Caller ID” of every email that goes out, whether a personal message or email marketing. Make sure you setup a Sender Policy Framework (SPF) record that matches the IP your ESP assigned you with the sending domain (yourcompany.com). If you do this, you will be in the elite of email marketers who are following this optimal practice and will have an advantage. If you need help, ask your ESP. If you are a techie or know one, setting up an SPF record in your Domain Name Service (DNS) records does not take long. With many ESPs, you can determine the IP (shared or private) by looking in the settings of the account; with some ESPs you may have to ask them what IP address your emails are coming from.

Here are some additional tips on getting your emails through the spam filters.

Email Marketing Design: The Coin of The Realm

Good email design is not only more appealing to recipients and better for click throughs, but it also makes the spam filters look more kindly on your emails. This matters greatly when it comes to reaching the inbox, but do not forget that people like well designed emails better than something that is hard on the eyes. Your success with achieving your email marketing goals — including click-through-rates (CTR) and conversions — will be greatly enhanced by aesthetically pleasing email design.

One of the top guidelines for email marketing design is not to send out an email that is too heavy graphics or, much worse, one giant graphic. The guiding principle is 60 percent text, 40 percent graphic. Many email recipients view emails in a preview pane, so the top left corner is an ideal location for brand placement and a good enticing lead. Also, keep in mind that many email clients have graphics turned off by default so you have to entice people to click the button that turns graphics back on. The best way to do that is to leverage strong content, a well-designed email, and a good balance between text and graphics. It is always a very bad idea to send out an email that is one large graphic because not only will it lessen the chances that people will read it, but also because spam filters hate one large graphic emails.

It is crucial to remember to include ALT text for any images you include in your emails. The reason is that anything you are trying to communicate through images will be lost until many users turn on the graphics, which usually can be accomplished with a quick click. Entice them with descriptive ALT text that describes the graphic. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then give your recipients a reason to view those images.

Tables are back – which may seem counterintuitive to those of you who have been involved in a Web design project. Tables are an important element of email marketing design. You can use CSS but it must be inline CSS if you want it to work. Consider tables in your email design and play close attention to using table attributes.

Be aware of the inherent limitations of email programs as compared to Web browsers. Consider that the optimal email width is recommended at 600 pixels wide to accommodate for various browsers and mobile devices. Try to hit this range to avoid wide and unwieldy emails that few will want to read through. You probably want to avoid very long emails as well.

Again, keep in mind that while Web browsers are developed to handle javascript, flash, etc., many emails programs simply cannot handle the fancy stuff.

In addition, make sure to have a link in your email that enables your recipients to view the email as a Web page. Most ESPs provide a very easy way to accomplish this task. Some people will just prefer to view your email as a Web page.

If you combine good design for email with an awareness of both the spam filters and an aesthetically pleasing email for your audience, then you have a recipe for success. Email marketing can be hard work but when done well it yields the highest ROI of any other marketing tactic, which, according to the Direct Marketing Association is nearly $57 for every dollar invested.

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Four Awesome Online Marketing Campaigns and What You Can Learn from Them

When you work in online marketing, it's easy to put on your blinders and focus solely on your SEO company and clients. This is a great way to get some work done, sure, but it is often helpful to examine your industry as a whole, and see what can be learned from the top business marketing campaigns.

Let's take a look at four particularly successful campaigns:

1. Old Spice

Despite the "old" in its name, Old Spice rocked a rather "new" social online marketing campaign featuring Isaiah Mustafa, the star of the company's TV ads. On a set staged in Portland, OR, Mustafa answered 186 user questions (in his trademark hilarious style) through a variety of networks, including Reddit, Facebook, Digg, Youtube, and Twitter. The business marketing campaign racked up a record 6.7 million views in only 24 hours.

2. Best Buy

We all knew that Best Buy's blue shirted Geek Squad employees were supposed to be helpful, but the company's @twelpforce Twitter account demonstrated just how helpful said geeks could be -- for both tech questions and business marketing. Best Buy employees from all over the country use @twelpforce to answer user questions directly. The campaign has helped Best Buy connect to thousands of customers, and it's still ticking.

3. Cloverfield

When promoting their 2008 monster movie, the creators of Cloverfield had viral marketing on the brain. The promotional team released teaser trailers online with hardly any information about the film, as well as fake MySpace accounts for the film's main characters. While the teasers helped gather hype, the MySpace profiles underscored the film's emphasis on realism.

4. Will It Blend?

Blenders aren't interesting, nor are they traditionally associated with a Gen Y audience, but Blendtec founder Tom Dickson reached out to this group -- among other fans -- through his super viral Will It Blend? online marketing campaign. In the campaign, which still exists, Dickson uses his company's blenders to demolish everything from whole chickens to iPads, posting videos of every feat on WillItBlend.com. The campaign demonstrates the power of Blendtec blenders, all the while helping to brand the company and connect to a younger audience group.

So, what can we learn from these business marketing campaigns?

1. In online marketing, humor is no joke.

For many consumers, the internet is a much-needed reprieve from the stresses of school, work, and other responsibilities. They want to be entertained online, not educated. For this reason, humorous campaigns like those of Old Spice and Well It Blend? have an edge over more straightforward advertising. In addition to giving surfers what they want, these online marketing campaigns can also help to humanize and brand a company. This is especially useful for distributors of traditionally unexciting products, like blenders.

2. Social networking is a valuable business marketing tool.

Creating a website is one thing, but if you want to reach consumers, you have to find them where they live: on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, Reddit, and other social services. Best Buy, Old Spice, and Cloverfield all marketed their businesses on social profiles to tremendous success.

All that being said, for many small businesses, creating a sensational online marketing campaign isn't enough. If your brand isn't recognized and your website isn't receiving significant traffic, you'll also benefit from traditional search engine marketing internet advertising services with SEO and PPC plans.

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Small Business Internet Marketing: Getting Found On The World Wide Web

Small business Internet marketing can seem like a labyrinth to a small business owner new to the term. There is so much information available--much of it conflicting--that it's easy to get lost and begin to suffer from information overload.

Here are a few ways small business owners can get started marketing their business on line.

* Blogging. A blog is simply a website which is frequently updated. While blogs used to be considered more personal, and resembled on line diaries more than websites, recently businesses have been starting to blog as a way of staying in contact with their customers. Even better than that, Google loves a blog. The more you update your site, the more the Google bots will visit, and the more the Google bots visit, the better chance you have of getting your business's site found.

* SEO. SEO, or search engine optimization, is a huge topic. SEO simply means setting up your site to be friendly to the search engines by giving them the information they need in the places they expect to find it. Using title tags and meta description tags, clearly defining your keywords, and getting other sites to link back to your site are all a part of basic SEO.

* Pay Per Click. Pay per click is a form of advertising where the advertiser buys space through an auction style system, and only pays when someone clicks on their ad. The results that you see at the very top of a search results page in Google are often pay per click ads, as are the smaller (and more obvious) ads off to the right of the page. Pay per click is very efficient at driving traffic to your site, but can be risky as well. You'd do well to hire a specialist in this area rather than plunge in by yourself.

* Article marketing. Whether you're in the business of selling flowers or washing machines, chances are you have knowledge that someone wants. By giving this knowledge away on sites like EzineArticles.com or GoArticles.com in exchange for a link or two back to your site, you can gain greater exposure for your business, and bring visitors in who would otherwise never have noticed you.

* Social Networking. Social networking is word of mouth advertising for the digital age. Instead of Aunt Suzy calling up Cousin Ida to ask who she hired to install the new windows, @AuntSuzy is posting questions about window installs on Twitter and Facebook. If your business is installing windows you'd be well advised to monitor those Twitter conversations. Help out @AuntSuzy with 140 characters of advice about choosing windows and who do you think she'll be recommending to her friends when they need windows?

* Forum posting. Forums are just another form of social networking, except the conversation is generally more focused around a particular topic. No matter what business you're in, there is a forum dedicated to it. Search Google for your topic +Forum and you'll find them. Get registered, start conversing, and as your reputation grows so will your business.

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Promotional Items For Small Business Advertising

Picture this: you have a small business. You need to advertise on a small budget. You've done the print ads, radio, television and online advertising and still have a little bit left in your budget. So, instead of using what you've already been doing, you decide to get some promotional items of their moving led signs. Ok, so what do you get and how do you get them out?

Pens

Pens are always a good promotional item because everyone uses them. Also, personally speaking, one of the reasons I like going to my favorite bookstore is to get the new promotional pens they always have out on the desk. I put one in my purse and every time I need a pen, I pull it out and see the name of the bookstore. Wow, that's one way to put your name in someone's head!

Magnets

We all have refrigerators, right? What is on your refrigerator? If you are like most of us, it's a collection of various magnets. Some people have decorative magnets or alphabet magnets for their children. Some people though, have magnets for businesses. Do you happen to have a magnet for a pizza place? See, they work. Not just for pizza places either, if you need the name or number of a business, it's easy to find if it's on your refrigerator.

T-shirts

T-shirts are great for promotional advertising because, well people like giveaways. If they win a t-shirt, they will probably wear it at some point. When they do, it's like a walking billboard for your establishment. Talk about getting the word out!

Mouse pads

Chances are if you are reading this, you are in front of a computer. What do most computers have? A mouse. What do most of them rest on? A mouse pad. Unless you have an optical mouse, they are recommended. If your business name is on a mouse pad that is in use daily, your name will be the first to come to mind when there is a need for what you offer.

Calendars

Everyone needs calendars. How else would we know what day it is, keep appointments, do anything? If your business were to put out a calendar, that's a whole years worth of advertising for a few dollars! Where else can you find a deal like that?

How to get these items to the public

Ok, now you that you've got your promotional items, what do you do with them? There are myriad ways to distribute these things. One way is to donate them to radio stations to be used as prizes for whatever contests they may be having. If you contact your local city council, you can get a list of any small business conventions, art conventions or any other happening in the area where you may be able to get a booth and promote your company. Another way is to get a booth at the local fair. They always have the parts you can walk through and get tons of promotional items of their open led signs.

Promotional items can be an easy and fun way to spread the word about your company and help it grow.

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