The Reports of The Death of Email Newsletters Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
Believe it or not, ezines, or email newsletters, are still an incredibly effective communication tool for local small businesses because of their in-depth material. I started my email newsletter a couple of years ago but it was a few years in the making. I wanted to do this for a long time but never thought I had anything important to say.
Then, I got on Facebook and people told me they liked my writing and how I’d helped them. After all, helping is exactly what I wanted to do. So, I fundamentally shifted my view of my business and realized that I was being of service to others if I shared my local small business marketing ideas with more people.
The most important marketing tool you have, besides yourself, is your knowledge. And, your knowledge can help people. You probably already know that because your customers tell you that…I hope.
Knowledge is the heart of content marketing and in today’s world, content marketing is king. Content marketing means sharing information with your customers and prospects to educate them. Local small businesses now have to work harder to attract savvy customers. With fierce competition, they need better reasons and experiences to buy and choose from us over the other guy.
Launch Your Local Small Business Email Newsletter In 5 Steps
1) A Marketing List
Over the course of several emails, I outlined how to build your list. You can refresh your memory here, here and here.
2) A White-Hatted Email Marketing Service
What’s a white-hatted service? Benchmark Email, the one I use, is. It’s like an old Western movie. The good guys wear the white hat and the bad guys wear the black hat. The major ISPs like Yahoo, Earthlink, Google, Hotmail, AOL et al, look for companies that have healthy emailing practices and identify them as white hats. The white hats pass through the servers unabated because they’ve proven their trustworthiness. The black hats get stopped at the door, shuffled to a SPAM folder or completely deleted off your server, unknown to you. No, spam filtering isn’t perfect but there’s a lot more going on than meets the eye.
If you just send one from your email account, you are inviting trouble. Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) i.e. Comcast, ATT, views your large list suspiciously and you can get jammed up by the recipients ISP, blocking you forever.
White-hatted services like Benchmark also offer tons and tons of templates that make your newsletter practically a no-brainer. You try it FREE for 30-days, play with it and see if it works for you.
3) A Viewpoint
Your email newsletter need not consist of anything more than a short article and, occasionally, an offer like a discount, free consultation or an event. If you hate to write, you can hire someone to do that or you can use a service for your industry. If you work for a large national firm or franchiser, they will often supply the materials to you. If you create a goal of 250 words or less, you can do it. That’s a single page, double-spaced. God knows, you cranked out more than that in college.
Here’s a link to get lots of inspiration for creating blog postings because it’s effectively the same as writing an article. The difference is you send your newsletter out and your blog waits to be discovered.
26 Blog Posts to Write Before Your Competitors Do…(with Examples)
4) An Album of Complementary Photos
Dollar Photo Club is the BEST place to get images to use in my newsletter aside from my own photos. I like Dollar Photo Club because I pay for the image which makes its a clean-cut transaction where I don’t step on someone’s toes. You won’t run into copyright issues or upset someone because you stole their image. iStockphoto.com used to be my go-to place for finding images. They just got too expensive for providing me with a good supply of images.
You can resort to using your own photos. If you take lots of them, good for you. I just can’t keep up with my own demand. So, stock photos work great for me.
You can use flickr as well though I’ve completely struggled on how to use their images, giving credit to the owner and sizing it to fit my blog.
5) A Commitment, A Re-Commitment
You have to commit. I’m actually recommitting because getting a newsletter together isn’t simple.
- You have to do something no less than once a month or you will be forgotten, ignored or worse.
- Oh, trust me, it’s a struggle to get this baby out. I stay up late, fit it in between client work, try to get an advanced start, work through illness, skip meals. I’m expecting it to get better. I know it will. But, I’m committed. Your kind words spur me on. And, when you cry “uncle”, I’ll stop.
Good luck! Let’s see what happens.
Given the explosion of blogs and bloggers, you probably think you’re going to get lost in a churning sea of information. That’s entirely possible. But, there are some things you can to do pull your blog into the boat and save yourself from drowning or getting lost at sea.
Why should you blog? For local businesses it’s a surprisingly good way of adding “juice” to your website. Google’s algorithm (the formula for delivering results) is constantly on the hunt for three things: 1) relevance, 2) freshness, and 3) connection. When you blog, you do all of those, making it far more likely that your business will turn up in the highly coveted organic results. Remember, Google wants be the go-to search engine so they give you results that really match your query. Then, the look for websites that are tended to. A blog shows that you tend your website without you constantly having to update your other pages. As far as connections go, the algorithm looks for social media connections and links. Comments go along ways to. See if you can solicit comments from some of your fans and remember to post your blog to your Facebook Fan Page.
In this infographic, that’s intended for new local business blogs, there’s great advice for both new and experienced bloggers to get discovered by Google. Of course, Google isn’t the only search engine but it’s used by 70% – 80% of all users. So it’s the 800-lb gorilla in the room. It cannot be ignored. Appealing to Google is the best way to juice up your blog.
Infographic by Digital Philippines
Get It Together – Generate Cost-Effective Sales Leads By Integrating Your Marketing Efforts
Definition of Integrated Marketing Communications from Wikipedia:
1) Integrated marketing communications (IMC) is a process for managing customer relationships that drive brand value primarily through communication efforts. 2) Such efforts often include cross-functional processes that create and nourish profitable relationships with customers and other stakeholders by strategically controlling or influencing all messages sent to these groups and encouraging data-driven, purposeful dialog with them. 3) IMC includes the coordination and integration of all marketing communication tools, avenues, and sources within a company into a seamless program in order to maximize the impact on end users at a minimal cost.4) This integration affects all firm’s business-to-business, marketing channel, customer-focused, and internally directed communications.
Integrated marketing communication…boring, uninspired, jargony. It might even win a Silicon Valley Goobelydegook award.
But, I just can’t whiz past it or ignore it because integrated marketing such an important conceptfor your small business marketing. It means your various marketing efforts and media channelssupport one another and are intended to create a relationship with prospects. Media channels include social media, advertising, public relations, online and website marketing, networking, etc.
Branding Can’t Stand Alone
Many marketing folks talk about “branding” or “brand value” as if were some separate arm of marketing. There’s no such separation. In marketing, “branding” is simply the experience or perception that customers have of you and your product/service and it comes from all the points that you touch your customer.
In small business, you can’t do branding alone. You have limited resources and budgets to accomplish a lot. So, generating leads is the most important outcome for your marketing. You really have to do double-duty with what you’ve got. That’s why integrating your all your marketing efforts, media channels, offline and online marketing, is essential and cost-effective. You’ll breath a little easier when you have your marketing tied together.
7 Ideas for Integrated Marketing:
- Facebook and Twitter badges on your website, on your business card or any printed ads.
- Website address in your Yellow Pages, newspaper and printed ads
- Have an event that supports your favorite charity where you can do a joint press release or story to promote the event.
- Announce your marketing event at your next networking event
- Hand out cards or send emails to your customers and prospects asking them to “Like” you on Facebook” and review you on “Yelp”
- Promote your webinar on your Facebook and Twitter postings, in your newsletter and on your blog.
Yellow Pages – So Not Over!
Search Engine Land website recently published an eye-opening article and confession from one of it’s bloggers who’s plotting the Yellow Pages’ imminent demise. After a household emergency, he changed his mind, acknowledging there were times when a Yellow Pages ad made sense. And, in fact, shares some very interesting facts about the Yellow Pages return-on-investment (ROI)
From his article, he said:
- 75% of YP advertisers are service businesses or installed product (think floor covering) businesses. The more service-heavy, the more valuable the directory.
- Businesses that have large, infrequent sales (roofer, divorce attorney, windshield repair) are very likely to receive a big return compared to a donut shop. A roofing customer is out of the market for 20 years after a purchase. That’s a lead worth capturing.
- When the customer’s location is the work site, local SEO is exceptionally difficult to optimize and a directory can assist in exposing a business to their desired service area. About 35% of YP advertisers are home-based businesses that need visibility. The print directory can act as one of their store fronts.
- Categories that are dominated online by national brands and deep pocketed lead generation companies are also big beneficiaries of local directories. Examples are insurance (your local agent can’t outspend GEICO online), pharmacy, finance, real estate and educational institutions.
- But print YP ads aren’t for everybody. Gas stations generally aren’t good YP advertisers because the decision to purchase is habitual, opportunistic, and more driven by price than research.
- Another rule of thumb is research. The more a decision is researched, the better the ad return is.
The instinct of small business owners these days is to join the land-rush mentality of social media, search engine optimization and paid online advertising. All of those are certainly valuable marketing tools. But, don’t get swept up in them and then rush to dump your Yellow Pages.
At least, track your results. Perhaps the biggest point in the article is how infrequent, high-dollar purchases benefit from Yellow Pages. When it comes time to buy these types of products and service, the prospect start anew with a vendor in mind. Scanning the Yellow Pages refreshes their memory and let’s them know who the current players are. If your prospective customer is in the habit of keeping their Yellow Pages, you’ll be in the running. That means, in buying a Yellow Pages ad, you MUST know the profile of your ideal customer in order to decide what to do the next time your contract is up for renewal. Or, you’re wasting money all over again.
Tracking Is Not Just For Big-Game Hunters
Yellow Pages or not Yellow Pages. That’s the dilemma of most businesses today. In my view, the one and only way to end the debate is to get a tracking number. And, get one where they also record the calls. Tracking phone numbers for online advertising and Yellow Pages will go a looonnnggg way to tell you what media is generating the most calls. The recordings tell you what type of calls you are receiving.
Yellow Pages will tell you they can do tracking numbers but as of March, 2011, they can’t record the calls. If you can’t record calls, you can’t listen to them. When you can’t listen, you don’t know if the calls you’re getting are actually sales calls. You have to be able to listen.
It’s a very expensive, one-year commitment to make to an iffy lead generator for many small business owners. Increasingly Yellow Pages makes it hard to “quit them”. They throw bonuses at you, (more…)