Archive for the 'Internet & Social Media Marketing' Category

Booting Spammers Out of Your Mailing List

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I’ve noticed a trend lately: a lot of sign-ups to my mailing list from the same IP address. So I did a little research and lo-and-behold, it’s a “zombie” computer automatically signing up for ezines in order to steal the return address when you send the “thanks for signing up” autoresponder. (Those little stinkers!)

So, what do you do?

  • First, check to see if your ezine software captures the IP (internet protocol) address of people when they sign up.
  • Next, check for repeat IP addresses. I notice that these sign-ups are often in the “waiting for optin” list under, because they have no intention of opting-in.
  • Sometimes, however, there is an army of poorly paid people somewhere in the world who click on the opt-in links in emails for these spammers, so check your newly added email addresses on your list. It’s easy to find them: look for email addresses that don’t match the name they signed up under. For instance, the name is “Mary Jones” but the email address says georgesmith@xxxxxx.com. The email addresses are almost always from live.com, gmail.com, or yahoo.com because these are free email services. Yahoo seems to be the frontrunner in bad/zombie email addresses.
  • When you find a suspicious email address, copy it into Google to see if sites like www.cleantalk.org have blacklisted that email address.
  • Finally, I go back to my mailing system, and look for the place where I can block specific IP addresses or specific email addresses.

Voila! Now that zombie can’t sign up for my mailing list anymore!

It takes a little due diligence to keep your list clean, but it’s well worth it. And if your mailing list system won’t let you ban IP addresses, consider switching to a new one.

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing
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5 Smart Tips to Re-engage Inactive Customers

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Do you have people on your mailing list who don’t open your emails? Do you have connections on social media who don’t respond to your posts?

Consider creating a re-engagement campaign to reconnect with them. First, if you can, segment your list and target your re-engagement campaign only to those who are inactive. That will help you to focus your efforts. Then, create ways to reconnect with them and put the ideas into a campaign.

Here’s some tips:

  1. Ask them a question, especially the most straight-forward one: “Are you still interested in receiving my newsletters/tips?”
  2. Offer them a special discount.
  3. Send out a survey to find out what they’re up to and where they could use some help.
  4. Create a contest and invite them to play along.
  5. Write to them individually with a personalized email, or better yet, a real letter. (I still get excited when I get a letter in the mail with real handwriting!)

The extra effort you make to re-engage with your audience will reap huge rewards. And if they choose to unsubscribe from your list or disconnect from you on social media, be diplomatic and thankful. They might not be a prospective customer any more, but their friends and colleagues might.

Find out why they’re disengaged

Part of this process is to find out why they aren’t connecting with you. There’s two scenarios:

  1. They no longer need your service or product.
  2. They do need your service or product, but there’s something holding them back from connecting with you.

It could be that they’re too busy or distracted to read your marketing materials, or it could be that your marketing materials (including your content marketing) don’t interest them. Maybe they feel you’re emailing them too often (or not often enough!). By opening a dialogue with them, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your audience, which can trigger a smarter marketing plan.

 

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters

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It’s “back to basics” time, so let’s talk about copywriting your marketing materials! Here are the steps to any marketing copywriting, whether you are selling services or products.

In a previous blog post, I gave you some formulas you can use to write good headlines for your sales pages and newsletters. (If you didn’t see the post, you can still read it on my blog: 3 Headline Formulas for Non-Copywriters.)

Here are the basic six steps you’ll need:

First, know thy audience.

This sounds so familiar, right? But do you really know what it means and how to DO it? Before you begin writing, close your eyes and put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who are they? Specifically, who is your ideal customer? It’s important for you to spend some time thinking about them as real people, not a mass of humanity known as “my prospective customers.” They’re not a mass of faceless humans. They’re real people with real dreams and challenges.
  2. What do they want? This is no time to lack bravery. Do not take the simple way out and say something banal here, like, “They want to be happy,” or “They want to grow their business.” Instead, ask yourself what they specifically want. What are they trying to achieve in their personal and professional life? What problems get in their way? Where are they stuck?

Now, write a headline that promises to help them create the life they want, or helps them solve a problem.

You can read more about writing headlines here in this blog post. Remember, the whole purpose of writing a headline is to grab their attention.

Next, help them to get to know you and trust you by honestly talking about their dream or their challenges.

Give them some practical tips. Give them examples. Tell them a story about how you have been where they are, and/or how you helped others to create the life of their dreams. Above all, educate them so that they receive real value from you. This isn’t the place to fluff it up.

This next one is the hard part, the part where nearly everyone falls down: You have to make the offer.

You have to tell them what you are offering, and ask them to buy. Be clear and straight-forward here. Tell them the benefits of your product or service, exactly what they’ll get, the price, and how to buy. Answer any questions you think they might have about your product or service.

This is no place to be shy. If you don’t believe completely in what you are selling, why should your customer? You don’t need to be aggressive or manipulative; just tell them how you can help them and make an offer. Trust their own intelligence that they’ll know if it’s a good fit or not.

To help build your credibility, share testimonials from your satisfied customers.

Testimonials that tell how the customer benefitted from your product and service are best. It’s far better to have a testimonial that said, “I was able to create my lesson plan and teach my first class within one month of taking Karyn’s program,” than to have a testimonial that says, “Golly, Karyn is a great teacher.”

What were your customers able to DO after using your service or product? What outcomes and results did they get?

The final step is the Call To Action.

What action do you want them to take? Should they visit your website for more information? Should they click a button to buy the product or service? Should they call your office to schedule a time to talk? You have to tell them exactly what to do next so there is no confusion.

 

Copywriting is no mystery. There are some straight-forward formulas that work every time. But you have to be willing to ask for the sale.

Are you ready to try these copywriting steps in your own business? Where can you tweak your existing copywriting to make it more compelling?

I’d love to hear your copywriting stories, comments and questions! Share your stories in the comments below. 🙂

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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7 Steps to Create Your Autumn Marketing Plan This Summer

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Is your marketing plan ready for autumn?

Summertime is the best time to map out your strategy for your autumn marketing campaigns to produce incredible results.

Whether you’re launching a brand new product or service, or marketing a perennial offer, don’t fall back into using the same old, tired marketing techniques. Spend some time now to discover which marketing techniques will work best for your autumn campaigns.

Here’s how to get into action:

  1. Choose your campaign start date. Think about when your customers are likely to be back from summer vacation and plan your first marketing technique to happen AFTER that date.
  2. Choose an end date. For marketing campaigns that are time-limited (like marketing a new mastermind group, class, or special offer with a deadline), pick the end date of the campaign. For example, say that you are going to offer a special deal on one of your services or products. You might choose to start your marketing campaign on September 7 and end it on September 17 — a ten day campaign.
  3. Pick your marketing techniques. DO NOT get lazy here and do what you’ve always done (unless what you’ve always done gives you stellar results). Look at the marketing techniques you’ve used in the past, and determine which ones gave you the best results for the time, effort and money you put into them. Discard the rest. Now, pick a new technique you’ve been wanting to try and add it to your marketing mix.
  4. Get a learning plan together. If you are adding a new marketing technique to the mix, what do you need to learn about that technique? Where will you get training or education about that technique? Schedule time in your calendar in June, July and August to learn the new technique so you can comfortably use it in September.
  5. Choose a goal for your campaign. What results do you want from the marketing you’re doing? How will you track the results so you know whether it’s working or not?
  6. Map out your campaign. Which techniques will you use on which dates? What prep work do you need to do over the summer to be ready to launch this campaign?
  7. Line up your resources. What resources do you need to gather and who needs to be involved? Get your copywriting, graphics, website, brochures done early so that there’s no last minute rush and tension.

If you do these things this summer, imagine how relaxed you’ll feel this autumn when it’s time to launch your campaign. Spending a short amount of time each week over the summer will ensure a successful autumn marketing season.

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing

2015 Conferences for Small Business Owners

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Need to get out of the office and mingle with real humans face-to-face? Consider attending one of these conferences to hone your skills and network with others:

Growth Conference
Sponsored by: Entrepreneur magazine
February 2015

ICON
Sponsored by: Infusionsoft
March 2015

Social Media Marketing World
Sponsored by: Social Media Examiner
March 2015

The Marketing Nation Summit
Sponsored by: Marketo
April 2015

Authority Rainmaker
Sponsored by: Copyblogger
May 2015

America’s Small Business Summit
Sponsored by: U.S. Chamber of Commerce
June 2015

Blogher Conference
Sponsored by: Blogher
July 2015

Podcast Movement
July 2015

Content Marketing World
Sponsored by: Content Marketing Institute
September 2015

Entrepreneurial Women’s Conference
Sponsored by: Women’s Business Development Center
September 2015

Inbound
Sponsored by: Hubspot
September 2015

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Should You Put Your Prices on Your Website? Pros and Cons

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The decision to put your prices on your site is a strategic one for your business. In some ways it can make you feel vulnerable.

Ask yourself: What does my prospective customer want and need?

Studies have shown the consumers want to see prices of products and services. Even a price range is sufficient. But many business owners have reasons why they prefer to not include pricing.

How can you decide which way to go? Here are some pros and cons to consider:

Nine Reasons to Put Your Fees and Prices on Your Site

  1. Trust. Many customers will not do business with a company who is not forthcoming about pricing and fees. They simply won’t waste their time talking with a sales rep only to find out that the price is too high (or too low, which may feel cheap or low quality to them).
  2. Price Range. Customers want to know what they’re going to pay for your service or product, or at least have a ballpark figure.
  3. Unaffordability Beliefs. Some customers believe, perhaps incorrectly, that if the price is not shown, then it must be too high. They reason that if they aren’t shown the price, they probably can’t afford it.
  4. Efficiency. People who can’t afford your services or products will not request a prospect sales phone call. Hear me out: do you want to spend time convincing people on the phone that they can afford you, when they really think they can’t or don’t see the value you are offering? It’s hard to have phone calls with people who have unrealistic expectations because they don’t know the fees. Trying to convince them is a hard-sell tactic that I choose to avoid.
  5. Branding. Pricing is a strategic marketing decision and helps to set your brand apart from others. Are you the low-cost leader? Are you the expert who people pay more for because you’re worth it? Your fees tell the prospective customer where you place yourself among the others in the industry and which target market you want to serve. There is no right or wrong pricing strategy. The key is that you’ve developed on through your marketing plan.
  6. Discounting. For products and classes, there’s typically no negotiation in pricing: either they purchase it or they don’t. You can always create a separate page with special pricing for existing customers or special groups, or offer coupon codes that give discounts, if you want a tiered pricing approach to products and classes. Or indicate that you have payment plans, if that helps your customer with a buying decision. If you offer special pricing for nonprofits, put your regular fees on your website and add a sentence about how nonprofit pricing is available.
  7. Budgeting. If people feel like they can’t afford you, but want to work with you, they now have a price-point from which they can start savings towards working with you. I have had a number of clients who tell me that they saved for three months in order to work with me.
  8. Honoring. Your customers are busy and time-constrained. They need information at the moment when they have time to do their research. Don’t make them jump through hoops. Try to be helpful in getting them all the information they need, not just in your pricing, but in the valuable benefits you offer.
  9. Information Gathering. People who are looking for a price range so they can get some budgeting ideas may be a perfect client for you. One of the important stages your customers’ sales timeline is the Information Gathering phase when they are researching possible solutions. Get to know your prospective customer’s process for making buying decisions and plan your marketing accordingly. This is especially true when marketing to women: they do a lot of research before they buy.

Ten Reasons Not to Put Your Fees and Prices on Your Site

  1. Customized Services or Product. Sometimes you can’t list your prices, because each person gets a customized quote based on what they need from you, like a home builder or a website designer. But you can offer packages with a note that says, “Fees start at…” for each package. Or show them examples of your work and indicate what each of those project fees were.
  2. Competition. You’re afraid your competition will find out how much you charge. Bad news: your competition already knows what you charge. It’s easy for them to have a friend pose as a prospective customer and get your entire price list. Or your customers tell others what they paid. You are going to have a tough time keeping your pricing private, especially in the internet age.
  3. Value and Selling Strategy. You feel that they need to talk with you first, so that you can show them how valuable your service is, before quoting them a price. That is the job of your website. If your website is written well, it will easily show someone whether you can solve their problem and that the price they’ll pay is worth it. Then, when a prospective customer finally does call you, they’ve already been pre-sold by your website and you don’t have to struggle to convince them of anything. I figure if a sales rep needs to speak with me, it’s because they think the product or service “needs explaining,” or that they need to “handle my objections.” Neither is a good excuse to waste my time on something that doesn’t need explaining or should have been explained thoroughly on the website. Need help with your copywriting? Read my blog post on 6 Copywriting Steps for Non-Copywriters.
  4. Rapport. Your service is based on your personality and your rapport with your customers. Therefore, they need to speak with you in order to get the connection and see if it’s a good fit. I agree with this 100%. But if it’s a perfect fit, and they can’t afford you, how does that benefit either of you? Why not put some videos on your website, offer some free teleclasses or workshops, so they get a chance to experience you before the prospect call is scheduled.
  5. Price Fixing. You (or your industry) in concerned about price fixing. By definition, price fixing is a conscious agreement among businesses to keep the price of something unnaturally high or low, instead of letting free-market forces determine what each customer pays. Putting your own prices on your own website is not a conscious agreement with other businesses, it’s not a conspiracy, and therefore is not price fixing. If you’re really concerned that you’ll be accused of price fixing, consult your business attorney.
  6. Mimics. You are concerned that competitors who are less qualified than you will increase their prices to mimic yours, but offer poor service. Let them. You cannot be responsible for what your competitor does. If they charge too much and offer a shoddy product or service, they’ll be out of business soon enough anyway.
  7. Uniqueness. You feel that your service or product is not unique, but is exactly the same as what your competitor offers. This is called a commodity. But a commodity implies that what the customer is purchasing is the same, regardless of vendor (like milk, flour or gasoline). By being clear on what makes you unique, different or better than your competitor, you avoid being seen as a commodity. This is called your Unique Selling Proposition. If you don’t have one, get one.
  8. Ongoing Marketing. You’re concerned that if someone sees your prices but doesn’t reach out to you, you won’t have any way to connect with them in the long term. This is where having an offer on your website they can sign up for can help you gather a list of people who may be interested in your product or service. Think: email newsletter, teleclass or whitepaper. However, you need to handle these people differently than you would a bona fide prospect, because they’re in the Information Gathering stage of the sales cycle, not the Decision Making phase.  Establish your sales and marketing strategy and funnel, and reach out to people based on where they are along the sales path.
  9. Price Shopping and Tire Kickers. If they’re shopping on price alone, they’re probably not your ideal client unless you are Wal-Mart. People who shop only based on price will leave you when they find someone cheaper. So if you put your prices on your website, you get them to exit before they waste your time. If a prospective customers is truly *only* shopping on price, then it wouldn’t matter if you tell them the price on the phone or on your website.
  10. Not Knowing Your Worth. It’s true. Many small business owners feel uncomfortable setting their prices because they don’t truly know their value. Here’s some tips in setting your service fees.

What To Do?

Whether you put your prices on your site or not is a personal business decision. It depends on your business and marketing strategy. Just make sure you make your decision based on what’s helpful to your customer and right for your marketing plan, not based on your fears about what “might” happen.

If you don’t put your prices on your site, it may be helpful to explain to people why you didn’t include them, and explain what the next step is in the process. Prospective customers will be curious to understand why they need to speak with you first.

People often ask me, “Don’t you think you’ll lose prospective clients that way?” My answer is: I get 10 phone calls a week from people who want small business coaching/consulting from me. I’m not losing ideal client prospects by putting my fees on my website. But when my consulting business is full, and I’m referring prospective clients to my trusted colleagues, having my prices on my site implies that my colleagues will honor those prices (which they won’t). So during those times, I take the prices off my site so that my colleagues can set their own prices.

So…should you put your pricing on your website or not?

The best thing you can do it test it. Put your prices on your site for two-to-four weeks, and compare the results. If you get more inquiries, more sales, easier conversions, then you know your audience found it helpful.

You’ll never know if something works or not until you try it.

Do you put your prices on your site? Why or why not? When visiting other sites, do you want to find pricing there? Share your comments, ideas and suggestions below. We’ll all benefit from understanding the pros and cons. I can’t wait to hear from you!

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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