Hello! For those of you that were at my speaking engagement yesterday about how to build your web-based business, you know what this blog is all about. For those of you that don’t, I gave a talk with a ton of useful info (or at least I like to think so! 🙂 and I told them they have to go to my blog her on CincyChic.com to get my notes if they want them! So… here they are. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Thanks!
I. Increasing your business visibility
a. Just as you would in real life
i. Make a lasting impression that people will remember
ii. Network – connect with as many people as you can
iii. Tell them about your new news
iv. Position yourself as the subject matter expert
II. Capitalizing on Web-boom
a. Forrester research found that there was an 18% increase in ecommerce last year
i. $259 billion industry as of 2007
b. Find a good domain name
i. Something easy to remember
ii. Something easy to spell
iii. Something unique that catches their eye
c. Think for your potential client
i. Buy other domain names if they misspell
ii. Increase googlability with additional domains linking to your one site
i. Reference: “Top 10 trends for email design in ’08?”
e. Helpful information – “findability”
f. Press releases – PRLeap.com high ranking news site
ii. Increases your googleability
iii. Might have a higher ranking than your actual site at first
g. How does your site look when clients get to your page
i. Easy to navigate
ii. Easy to read
iii. Average attention span is three seconds
III. Increase your googleability
a. Constantly update your page
ii. Video blog
iii. News portion of your site
iv. Industry news
v. Helpful hints in industry
vi. Event page
b. Work with your partners to get them to link to you – virtual network
c. Promotions tied to you/your website – make sure people leave an event knowing to go to your site to learn more about you
d. Keywords – content on your site, organically grown by you
e. AdWords – paying for keywords on sidebar of Google
f. AdSense – ads places on other people’s sites
g. Focus on page rank
i. Above the fold
ii. Search yourself for key words/phrases your clients will be using
iii. Techniques such as quotations that clients will us
IV. Always be networking on the web how you network in person:
a. Make a lasting impression that people will remember (look/navigation of site)
b. Network – connect with as many people as you can (others linking to you)
c. Tell them about your new news (company news/ blog)
d. Position yourself as the subject matter expert (helpful tips/industry news)
Top trends in email design for 2008 (from Marketingvox.com)
1. Getting serious about the subject line.
It’s the most important sentence of your entire email campaign, and yet too many otherwise creative people are content with the most banal of subject lines, like “February Newsletter.” February may indeed be an exciting month for your organization, but as busy readers with two seconds to decide whether or not to stop and open your email, you’ve got to give us just a little more enticement. You can still keep your monthly label, but add some color, like “Initech’s February Newsletter: How Good is Your HR team? Take Our Quiz and Find Out…” Now, we’re intrigued. Nice work, Initech.
2. Striking the right balance between images and text.
Emails with images in them perform better than their graphic-less counterparts. But how many images are *too* many? The general rule of thumb is to avoid sending one big honkin’ (it’s a technical term) image and strive for a healthy balance of graphics and text. Not only does that create a pleasant viewing experience, but it also avoids serious trouble in cases where an email server doesn’t accept large files, or the recipient’s email program doesn’t immediately display your graphics, or your reader is on a slow Internet connection and, well, decides to run out for a sandwich before your large image files have time to load. It is lunch time, after all.
3. Branding more than just the *from* name.
By now, most marketers know to brand the two *from* pieces: the address (email@example.com) and the name (Julie’s Hat Emporium). In addition to those two obvious branding slots, make sure you’re including your logo or graphic branding prominently in the campaign, and consider branding another inviting slot: the subject line. By starting your subject with consistent branding (think “News from Julie’s Hats: This Week Only, Sombreros Half Off!”), you’ll make it even easier for recipients to identify your emails amidst a cluttered inbox.
4. Focusing above the fold.
We assume that most people use a preview pane when perusing their inbox, and recent studies by MarketingSherpa confirm that fact (their research indicates that more than half of email recipients use a horizontal preview window of varying height). So it’s important when laying out your email’s content to put a lot of attention on the top four inches and use that prime real estate to the best of your, well, realty abilities. Make sure your logo is there. Make sure you’ve introduced your email’s topic or theme. And make sure you start the conversation early – that way, folks are more likely to feel inclined to read on and let you finish the thought. Is there an important link or action item in the body of your email? Don’t bury the lead; instead, put it near the top in case a quick preview is all someone needs to inquire, purchase, sign up or learn more.
5. Designing for three display possibilities.
By now, most marketers are aware of the two primary ways an email shows up in inboxes – as html or as plaintext. And most marketers know to fine-tune the latter just a bit, keeping in mind that without graphics or columns to work with, a plaintext email typically requires a bit of repositioning or rephrasing. But there’s a third display possibility to consider, and it’s the Images Not Displaying scenario. Many email programs let recipients decide whether to view an email’s images, which means many of those lovely html masterpieces you send at least start out minus the graphics. To design for that possibility, make sure your campaign still makes sense – and makes its point – even if the graphics are, ahem, out of the picture. Sure, the hope is that everyone views your art the way you intended it to be seen, but even if they don’t your email can still do its job.
6. Personalizing beyond “Dear Bob.”
Most marketers know (and frequently use) Dear Bob personalization – you know, where an email begins “Dear [first name],” and automatically drops the appropriate first name into each email as it leaves the proverbial station (of course, if everyone in your audience is named Bob, the process becomes much simpler). And we know that, as much as recipients aren’t tricked into thinking you somehow took the time to create this grand newsletter just for them, a bit of personalization really does boost response rates. But don’t stop at a personal greeting. Think about other personal details you might be able to drop into the email. Try segmenting your list so you can personalize the content based on the audience group to which you’re sending. And then make sure the email feels personal (more on that in #7). After all, showing that you know someone’s first name is great; showing them you really know and respect and care about them is even better.
7. Writing in a warm, personal voice.
With inbox clutter on the rise, it’s never been more important to make a personal connection with your subscribers and recipients. Email gives us a rare chance to have one-on-one conversations quickly and on a grand scale, and we need to think of our campaigns that way – as lots of personal conversations with people we know and like – rather than an indiscriminate blast (ick) to a database of email addresses (ugh). How does your brand speak to your audience? Give your next campaign a quick human-or-machine test (does it sound like a person wrote this, or does it sound like a machine spit it out at me?) and look for ways to up the human element. No offense, machines.
8. Sending timely, targeted follow-ups.
In addition to personalizing the greeting, content and feel of your emails, you can also personalize the timing with which your emails are sent. Trigger emails are an easy way to send campaigns that go out on your recipients’ schedules, not yours. Think of the welcome email you send every month to new subscribers; why not have that queued up to go out the minute someone new signs up? Or a thank-you-here’s-a-coupon email that’s sent the moment someone buys something? Nothing feels more personal than a note Bob gets – just to Bob – welcoming Bob, thanking Bob, offering Bob something, and basically giving Bob even more reason to like your company and brand.
9. Making the most of landing pages.
Remember that your email is a front door to other things – a website, a signup screen, a forward-this-on screen, a manage-your-preferences screen, and more. These landing pages are great opportunities not only to reinforce your branding, but also to take advantage of the moment of undivided attention you have once someone takes the trouble of clicking one of your links. Make sure your branding – and your brand’s voice – carry over to those supporting screens, and use the opportunity to present your readers with even more content, or product links, or anything else that’s relevant and useful. And don’t forget to spend time on the all-important Signup Screen. Thinking about layout, number of fields, newsletter options and other important factors really can pay off when it comes to encouraging people who intend to sign up to actually do it.
10. Above all, experiment. But not with actual chemicals.
The great thing about email is that so much of what happens can be tracked. People tell you how interested they are in your emails, how interested they are in specific stories, products or other links, and they occasionally tell you they were so excited that they forwarded your email to 10 friends. Use that tracking to learn what your audience likes – and doesn’t – and mix it up from time to time to see how small tweaks affect those response numbers. Try two different subject lines; try flipping stories one and two in the body copy; try sending to half of your list on Tuesday morning and the other half on Thursday. In the end, the only way to really find out which subject lines work best, or whether longer or shorter content is the right approach, or which day really is the best for sending is, well, to try it all for yourself. Email marketing is like your very own laboratory, just without all those pesky chemistry classes or unflattering lab coats.