If your website isn’t functional & secure, you’re losing business.

happy website client

September signals the start of fall. A time of new beginnings — change of season, a new school year, for some companies a new fiscal year.

For small business owners, fall is often the time to think about ramping up business. Maybe you need to refresh dated marketing material. Or spruce up your website with fresh content.

It’s also the perfect time for a digital tune-up to ensure that your website is performing efficiently. Is your site’s backend functionality where it should be? Is current content? Are plugins up-to-date?

To help you assess your site’s performance, we present 5 ways to make sure your website is functioning efficiently right now.

  1. Keep your SEO (search engine optimization) up-to-date. If you’ve been writing blog posts or adding new content without optimizing that material, it’s like forgetting to tell customers you’ve got new merchandise they’ll be interested in. They won’t know if you don’t tell them.
  2. Check that all images have an alt tag or alt text. Aside from helping with SEO, this enables visually handicapped visitors to “read” images via screen readers. Learn more about alt tags here.
  3. Is your content current? Dated content not only makes it look like your business may be suffering (not surprising in this time of COVID-10 closures, but also something you want to avoid). Keep your content fresh and compelling if you want visitors to return regularly and refer your site to colleagues and friends.  Here are some quick and easy content development tips.
  4.  Is your site loading quickly? There are several things that make sites sluggish and slow to load — overly large or high rez images, plugins that are no longer being used but are bloating your site, or your ISP (internet service provider) to name a few reasons. Whatever the cause, the result is not one you want. Slow loading sites mean lost visitors. When we’re so used to speedy connections and quick downloads, few people want to wait more than a few seconds for a site to load.
  5.  Is your site secure? If your website url starts with https://, it’s secure. If it still says http://, it’s not. And it’s not SSL (Secure Sockets Layered) encrypted so it may be vulnerable to hackers. Something you definitely don’t want! Getting an SSL certificate is something your developer or IT person should do. It’s something we handle for all the sites we build.

Of course, there are other things you can do to keep your website secure and functioning smoothly. We’ve just highlighted the “musts”. Most of these are best left to professionals who work with websites on a daily basis.

We’re happy to chat with you about whatever’s keeping you up at night keeping — whether it’s making sure your website is secure, how to give your site a fresh new look…..or any marketing issues you might be having.

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Smart small businesses come up with solutions.

graphic image of the word create

Many thanks to Lum3n for use of this Pexels image.

A recent headline in the Wall Street Journal jumped out: Target Posts Record Quarter.

Really? Month 6 of a pandemic. Life is anything but normal. Shops still closed. Restaurants going out of business. And Target can’t get out of their own way.

What’s Target doing that others aren’t?  It’s simple, really. They’ve listened to their target market. And provided solutions.

Their customers want to be safe. They want to shop from home and pick up purchases without getting out of their cars. Or get deliveries. They also want convenience and to save time.

Smart small businesses come up with solutions.

Target ramped up their online presence and made it easy to shop their website. Don’t want to go into stores to browse back-to-school items? Their robust website has everything your kids need online. So you can easily shop from home, then pick up at a dedicated pickup location or get your items delivered.

No, it’s not the same back-to-school experience we knew. No browsing the aisles so your kiddos can find the right color glittery folders. No picking that perfect pencil case and backpack. No trying on new clothes.

But this is a new school year unlike any we’ve seen before. And these are the realities. The retailers who GET it……like Target….are seeing sales soar. And they’re not alone.

What can you, a small business owner or an entrepreneur, take away from Target’s example?

Here are five things you can do right now:

  1. Pay attention to what keeps your customers up at night. Then find a solution that you can offer them.
  2. Let them know. Share those solutions/new services on your website, in emails and newsletters and on social media. And ask people to retweet, reshare and tell their friends.
  3. Reach out. As soon as you’re aware that your clients are having trouble, let them know you’re there to help.
  4. Make it easy for them to contact you. Everyone has different ways they like to connect. Give them options — phone, email, text, Facebook Messenger.
  5. Research new products or services you might provide. Can you offer free delivery? Extended payment terms? (Be careful about that one). You might discover some new income streams, and that would be a win-win for you and your customers.

These are challenging times but that doesn’t mean your business can’t survive…..or even thrive. These are conditions that smart entrepreneurs look for.

What opportunities for growth do you see?

Now is the time to figure out exactly what you can do to move forward. Need more inspiration?

Read about some companies that are household names that successfully launched during wretched economic times:  13 Massive Companies That Started During a Recession by Kelly Bertog. You might be surprised. You’ll probably be inspired.

And if you end up coming up with some ideas, let us know. We love small business success stories!

Read some of our other articles to help you market smarter:

Small Business Marketing in the Throes of a Pandemic

Why Marketing Matters More Than Ever

Marketing Morsels: How Clear is Your Brand Voice?

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Supporting Our Small Business Colleagues & Friends

Every once in a while, I like to look back to what we were doing a year ago.

In July 2019, life was radically different. We were busily blogging about branding. We also  roamed freely in our cities and networked face-to-face. Summer was filled with beach time,  boat rides, biking and concerts and festivals. A typical wonderful Chicago summer.

A lot has happened in this year. A lot of really difficult days as small business owners struggle  to survive…..or just to not have to shut down.

More than ever, we need to support one another. Our business community is stronger when  it’s healthy. So we’ve come up with something called Small Business Shoutouts. We want to  help our small business colleagues, clients and friends who are facing huge challenges. We  want to celebrate the grit, hard work and determination it takes to start a business and stick  with it through difficult times. Like now.

The goal of Small Business Shoutouts is to spread the word. Maybe you don’t know these  businesses or organizations. Maybe they offer something you’d love or a friend or colleague  would love. We’d love if you could share them with friends. Because we think that’s what a  healthy small business community does.

Here’s who we’re shouting out this month:

Shoutout #1 goes to Free Spirit Yacht Cruises, a family-owned private luxury yacht charter  Owners Angela and Joe Donofrio operate two of the most inviting private yachts on Lake  Michigan. Many of their corporate and private clients come back year after year to entertain  and celebrate happy occasions. But this year has been rough with almost three months lost  due to COVID-19. When your season is only six months long, it’s devastating to lose half of it.

free spirit private yachtA private yacht offers excellent entertaining opportunities despite the virus. And it definitely is  a spirit booster. You’re outside in fresh air and the yachts are large enough for easy social  distancing. You can still enjoy great food and drinks. The yachts are spotless and every  precaution is taken to keep you and your guests safe. So if you’re looking for a way to  celebrate summer, a private yacht charter might be just what you need. The season doesn’t  end till early October. Just sayin……

Full disclosure: I worked with Free Spirit on their marketing and PR from the time they first  bought the company ten years ago until 2018. We also designed several website iterations  (although not the current one).

Shoutout #2  is for 360 Chicago, the observation deck at the top of 875 N. Michigan Ave  (formerly called the John Hancock Building).
360 CHICAGO
Another near casualty of the virus, it just  reopened on July 1st and offers one of our town’s most amazing views. Whether you’re up for Tilt, billed as Chicago’s highest thrill ride, or just want to experience the oohs and ahs of our  city 94 floors below, it’s a treat for the whole family. They’ve taken all sorts of COVID-related  safety precautions? so you can feel perfectly comfortable visiting.  Full disclosure: Iris does their  graphic design branding work.

Shoutout #3 is not a small business but an organization that advocates for small businesses  in Illinois. The SBAC (Small Business Advocacy Council) is a non-partisan, member-driven  organization that promotes the success of small business through political advocacy, support  services and educational programs.

the sbac website home pageIf your small business has benefited from Illinois’s reduced LLC filing fees or from bills that make it  easier for small businesses to compete with large companies in the same arena, you can thank the  SBAC. Aside from advocacy, it offers a wealth of resources including educational programs and  networking opportunities to all its members. We are active members.

We are also active in the SBAC Women In Business Group. And Iris is on the board of SBAC  Empower, an SBAC affiliate which promotes entrepreneurship and small business development in  economically-challenged communities with education and mentorship. Full disclosure: we did the  SBAC Empower website.

If you know of a Chicago area small business that could use a Shoutout, leave a comment and tell  us why. In the meantime, stay safe and enjoy the summer we’ve been dealt. It beats Chicago winter,  right?

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Small Business Marketing in the Throes of a Pandemic

an image of the world wearing a protective mask

When the world does a 360, everything you thought you knew becomes questionable.

In the grips of a frightening pandemic, advertising might be the last thing you’re thinking about. But businesses still need to be on their toes.

You simply can’t ignore campaigns you’ve been running because, odds are, the messaging needs adjusting. And if you don’t acknowledge the new normal, you’re going to look bad. Really bad.

See our latest video about companies that are thriving despite Covid-19.

The Good, The Bad & The Clueless

I’ve been watching way too much television since the pandemic.started.. But part of it is marketing research. I’m curious as to how businesses are handling messaging during the pandemic. Some are ignoring it and doing advertising as usual. Others are either creating new ads or tweaking existing ad campaigns to reflect what’s going on in the world at the moment.

Ad Age took a look at 7 brands whose ads coincided with Covid-19.

Norwegian Cruise Lines stands out for horrendous timing. There’s not much else to say about it ……other than I’ll never take another cruise. Will you?

Here are a few companies doing a great job of adapting their messaging to fit the current climate:

Ford
Their commercials are reassuring, offering payment relief for Ford Credit customers. The director of U.S. marketing for Ford Motor Co. said: “It’s important to be reassuring right now and not trying to say to people ‘Rush into your car dealership for a sales event.’ ”

Nike
Nike’s new campaign focuses on social distancing and staying inside. Play inside, play for the world.” Perfect.

Hyundai
Hyundai  replaced their previously scheduled campaign with new spots touting the Hyundai Assurance Job Loss Protection program which defers payments for people who recently bought or leased a car and lost their job during a certain timeframe.

Toyota
Toyota’s new campaign reassures viewers that they’re “here for you now and in all the better days ahead .”

The examples above show how smart marketing teams pivot and respond during a crisis. They’re proactive and they speak to the fears and needs of viewers.

In return, we feel like these brands really give a damn. And when life returns to normal, these brands will be top of mind.

Look to the Businesses that are Marketing Smart

So what can small businesses learn from how big firms are handling their advertising campaigns during a crisis? Here are 4 key takeaways:

  1. Be compassionate. Don’t try to do business as usual when nothing is as usual. Empathize with your audience. Let them know you understand (and share) their fears.
  2. Be authentic. If you want customer loyalty, give them a reason to be loyal. People can usually see through phoniness. If your company has run some ads that ignored the tragic state of the world, acknowledge the error. Apologize and move on. We’re a very forgiving people. You’ll have another chance.
  3. Be trustworthy. Can customers depend on your company’s products or services? Make sure you give them a reason to trust you. This does more for brand loyalty than almost anything else. ‘
  4. Be creative. What can you do to help customers and potential customers notice you, and hopefully, want to give you business down the road? Start by letting them know you’re here to help. Whatever it is they’re going through, be a resource.

Sadly, many small businesses will not survive the coronavirus. So while we’re all stuck inside, now is the perfect time to do what you can to make sure yours is one that does.

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Our small business community can beat this!

illustration of the words small business punching with a boxing gloveThe coronavirus has impacted how we live and work.

Schools are closed. Restaurants and bars, too, except for delivery or pickup (at least in Illinois). Appointments that aren’t critical are being postponed. Our world is getting much smaller.

It seems the entire country is working from home for the next few weeks. Savvy companies like Google and Zoho are making that easier to do with free productivity tools. Remotely from Zoho was developed in just one week. Google is offering access to their advanced Hangouts Meet feature to all Education and G Suite customers until July 1st. 

Since it’s  not going to be business as usual for a while, we’ve been thinking about how companies can put this quarantine to good use. Cause we’re going to beat this!

 If you’re a small business owner or a solopreneur, this might be the perfect time to catch up on your marketing. Updating email lists. Creating an inventory of blog posts. Checking in with customers to see how they’re managing. And updating your website, which seems to be a stumbling block for many overwhelmed small business owners who never seem to be able to catch up. Here’s your chance. 

A Robust Marketing Tool
Your website should be your most robust marketing tool. According to Blue Corona, here are two reason why:   

  1.  97% of consumers go online to find a local business or local services.
  2.  Studies show that between 70-80% of people research a company online BEFORE visiting the small business or making a purchase with them.

Think about it. If your website hasn’t been updated with fresh content, new products and security fixes, you’re probably giving away business at a time when more and more people are online working remotely. Especially when we’re quarantined and looking for things to buy.

Amazon just announced that they’re hiring 100,000 workers to keep up with online deliveries. Give you any ideas?

What can you do?

Keeping a website fresh is actually not very difficult if you know what to do. It’s time consuming, however. So why not use this forced stay-at-home time to work on it.

Here’s a checklist of four things you need to do keep your website working for you:

  1.  Add new content regularly.
    Blogging is a great way to keep content fresh. A regular blogging schedule lets Google know to crawl your site on an ongoing basis.
  2.  Keep your site secure.
    Think only large companies fall prey to cyberattacks? Think again.According to Accenture, 43% of cyberattacks are aimed at small businesses. And of that number, only 14% are prepared to defend themselves.Cyberattacks now cost companies $200,000 on average, putting many out of business. Make sure you install ongoing security updates. It’s not enough to just do it when your site is new. Hackers are constantly finding new ways to break in. So it’s critical that your site is protected with the latest technology.
  3. Keep your site optimized.
    Much like the security issues, algorithm changes affect search functionality.  So your keywords and phrases should be refreshed regularly. Don’t let your competition push you to the bottom of a search page.
  4. Never assume.
    As a business owner, you can’t afford to take things for granted. Periodically check your website to see how it appears on different size screens. A site that looks great on a desktop may look wonky on a cell phone.If there’s a problem with responsiveness, you want to be the first one to find it. You don’t want to hear it from  a client.

If you’re reading this and feeling that bringing your website up-to-speed is still not something you have time (or the interest) to do, contact us. We can handle your website management so you can spend your time doing something else to drive business. 

Because as scary as the current business outlook appears at the moment, eventually the coronavirus will be knocked out and life will resume. 

Hopefully, we will all come out of this experience safe and sound…… and wiser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Why I won’t open your emails. Ever.  

My inbox is still overflowing with post-holiday savings, offers and other errata. You’re probably dealing with the same email overload.

No surprise when you consider that the average office worker receives 120 emails every day (source: TechJury).  Who has time to look at all of this?

woman looking at her laptopIf you’re like most people, you scan your inbox looking for important emails – from clients, colleagues, key business journals and resources you’ve subscribed to. The rest of the email gets ignored or trashed.

I write email subject lines as part of the content development work I do.  So I’m always on the prowl for clever copy. A good way to discover subject lines that work is to take note of the ones you open vs. the ones you ignore or delete. What is it about them that sparks your curiosity?

What Makes A Good Subject Line?

A good subject line speaks to a need, want or desire. Something to make you say “Yep. I need that.” A lousy subject line, on the other hand, speaks to nothing. It’s boring. Blah. Nondescript.

Here are some actual subject lines that went immediately into my trash bin last week:

  • This is for rickey
  • Your request has been granted
  • We Need Your Confirmation ASAP!
  • what I’ll do for you
  • Next Steps
  • How are you doing?
  • You are so Kind and Down to Earth.
  • Happiness
  • Please Please Forgive me
  • Hello from the other side…
  • I’m personally asking…
  • I have one question

As you can see, none of them speak to a need or want. Most are stupid.There’s not a single reason for me to open any of these. So I didn’t.

Subject Lines That Work

On the other hand, here are some subject lines that caught my eye and got my click…..and why:

WIN: A Yoast plugin of your choice
Why? I use Yoast. It’s an SEO tool that I like a lot. A free plugin would be lovely. Actually. I click on ALL emails from Yoast. Their products helps me do a better job of optimizing web content.

Nice, You’ve Earned A Reward
Why: The sender is Kriser’s Natural Pet. The reward is a $10 voucher on products or services. I have a dog. We like and use Kriser’s food, grooming and daycare services. Who doesn’t like rewards!

Here’s your year in music, all wrapped up
Why: It’s from Spotify – my favorite source for streaming music. It was a kick to see the 754 different songs I listened to last year.

Anatomy of a Unicorn Business and How to Become One
Why: I’ve heard the term but don’t know much about it and am eager to learn more. The sender, Small Business Trends, is one I subscribe to because I know I’ll always learn something new.

This exercise can boost your memory by 30%
Why: The sender, mindbodygreen, is a good source of articles on living healthier. Who doesn’t want to live healthier?

PW#709 – How to make more time for writing
Why: As I mentioned before, I’m a writer. I ALWAYS need more time to write. I subscribe to this — Daphne Gray-Grant’s Power Writing newsletter. I learn something new from every issue.

Rickey, these 7 videos will transform your business ??
Why: I’m on the  sender’s email list. Denise Wakeman is a super knowledgeable online marketing pro. I am always eager to learn about new or better tools and tactics to grow my businesses.

Obviously,  emails that come from trusted sources — business associates, clients, colleagues — will generally get opened despite the subject line. These people are already in your database of valued senders.    But for everyone else, your subject line needs a hook.

6 Tips To Help You Write Better Subject Lines

If this is the year you’ve vowed to ramp up your email marketing, keep these 6 tips in mind:

  1. Spend time on your subject line. It’s the difference between your email getting opened or trashed.
  2. Make it clever or creative, ideally both.
  3. Speak to the needs or wants of your recipients.
  4. Create a sense of urgency.
  5. Keep it brief.
  6. Segment your lists for your various target markets.

For more info on ramping up your emails, here’s a blog post we wrote last year on how to create effective marketing campaigns.

And if you still need help, call us.

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 20 Ways to Jumpstart 2020

A new decade dawning. Does it feel newer than a regular old middle-of-the-decade new year? Probably not. But why not use it for what it is – a beginning — the start of a calendar year. And as good a time as any to think about how you can jumpstart your business.

 

Based on our combined 50+ years in business, we offer the following 20 ideas for making 2020 your best year yet:

  1. Focus on focusing. Don’t try and accomplish more than you can reasonably accomplish. Better to do a few things really well than a bunch of things half-assed.
  2. If you make a mistake, move on. If you’re lucky enough to be in business long enough, you’ll make lots. That’s how we learn!
  3. Surround yourself with smart people.
  4. LEARN from the smart people around you.
  5. Hire people with the skills you don’t have. So you can focus on what you do best.
  6. Learn to network. If you already know how, finesse your skills.
  7. Master a new skill. Or a few. Podcasting. Speaking gigs. Seminars. Blogging. All meant to increase your visibility and put you in front of new audiences (and potential clients).
  8. Ask for help. No one knows everything there is to know about an industry. Learn from people who know what you don’t.
  9. Think about mentoring someone. You will get back at least as much as you give.
  10. Take vacations. You need a business break now and then. Working a 7-day week will not make your business better. It WILL make you burn out faster.
  11. Volunteer. Get out of your own head and share your time to help others — local community organizations, homeless shelters, rescue organizations, foodbanks….the list is endless.
  12. Read. A lot. Not just business books but all kinds of books. The more you read, the better you write. And the easier it is to solve problems.
  13. Exercise. A little every day if you can. Not necessarily lifting weights or running. Walking works too. Anything that gets you up and moving and not thinking about work problems.
  14. Get more sleep. We’re not going to quote all the studies but you KNOW that you operate better on a decent night’s sleep.
  15. Take some risks. If you want to grow, you need to step out of that safe circle. There’d be no inventions if the inventors hadn’t decided to find a better way.
  16. Be pro-active. The last decade has seen far too many businesses suffer because new technology made their products or services obsolete (thanks, Amazon). Don’t ever get too comfortable.
  17. Treat your employees like the critical business assets they are. And if they’re not, let them go.
  18. If you don’t have a solid email program, stop wasting your database and make this the year you nurture your soft connections.
  19. If you’ve avoided social media (yep, we’ve seen companies that are still waiting to see if it works!), time to jump in. Be smart. Learn one platform well and then add others. Or hire someone who knows how to do it.
  20.  If your budget allows, bring in experts to do the things you can’t do, don’t want to do or need help with.

If you only implement a few of these 20 ideas, you’re bound to see some success.

And if you need help with anything web, digital or marketing-related, give us a call. We’re looking to grow your business too.

 

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Why your presentations suck and what to do about that.

people falling asleep in an office

Ever wonder how effective your PowerPoint presentations are? What if you discover that the format you’ve been using is all wrong?

Inc Magazine recently published an intriguing article by Geoffrey James claiming that PowerPoint is “worse than useless”.

It brings to mind a presentation I received several years ago when I was lining up speakers for some seminars I was leading. I didn’t know what to do when a speaker submitted a 50-page PowerPoint deck for her 30-minute slot. My eyes glazed over as I scanned through it. Most of it text and bullet points, not images.people falling asleep in an office

I could see heads nodding just thinking about it. We had the speaker condense it as much as we could, but it was not one of the highlights of the seminar.

Rather, the talk that received the best rating was one where the wifi went out a few minutes into it (every speaker’s nightmare). This speaker used extensive knowledge of his topic and a warm, engaging personality to capture everyone’s attention.

So how do you ensure that your presentation is well received? I present bullet points 2 and 9 in this smart article from Presentation Prep titled “10 Most Common Presentation Mistakes”. Supported by this quick read from Inc Magazine contributor Jessica Stillman titled “A TED Coach’s 5 Best Tips for PowerPoint Slides That Won’t Put Your Audience to Sleep.” #5 is particularly appealing.

If you’ve been using slides in your presentations and notice heads nodding, what can you do?

Think about the best presentations you’ve attended. They’re probably the ones you remember. What stands out in your mind? Pretty slides? Probably not.

I’m not suggesting that you never use slides. In some cases….like a talk on photography….. they can be used very effectively. But I am suggesting that you use them sparingly — as support for what you’re saying rather than something to read from. Blah blah blah……

The best presentations are those where the speaker knows how to engage her audience. The ones you leave thinking “that was terrific” or “I want to hear more from this person”. Followed by feeling you need to:

  • Visit their website
  • Follow them on social media
  • Set up a coffee date.

In other words, the best presentations are teasers. They leave you wanting more. They’re new business drivers — the best kind of marketing tools you can find.

Next time you’re preparing for a presentation, try these 7 tips:

  1. Focus on how you can engage your audience. This might depend on who you’re speaking to. Men respond differently than women. Professions and type of industry also impact your presentation style. If you’re speaking to a group of brain surgeons, your tone and demeanor will be much different than a talk to event planners or yoga instructors.
  2. See how quickly you can get their attention. Think about what your audience needs. What can you give them that will help them work better, smarter, faster?Some speakers start with a question or two asking exactly that. Statements like “did you know?” or “have you ever tried….?” or “you know how you feel when…..?” come to mind. Why? Because they speak to problems you’ve had or entice you with a better way to solve something that’s always driven you a bit crazy.
  3. Ask your audience to take notes. You don’t just want them to listen. You want them to participate. With paper and pen, not digitally. The brain/hand connection has been well documented. Studies suggest that “Writing by hand strengthens the learning process”.
  4. Be authentic and likeable. We’re generally more engaged when we feel that we like the person we’re listening to.
  5.  Use humor (assuming the topic isn’t a very serious one). Laughing or smiling warms up a room and helps people relax. When we’re relaxed, we’re more receptive to listening – even if we don’t necessarily agree with the person speaking.
  6. Use handouts.  Preferably have them on the seats or tables at the start of your talk. That way, the audience can get an idea of what you’re going to be talking about. And they can use the handout to take notes.You might also include a “how’d I do?” form for people to rate your presentation. That lets them know you give a damn and want them to come away having learned something new or at least thought provoking.
  7. Close with a thank you. And a call-to-action for next steps.
    For example:
  • Feel free to call, text, email me with any questions you may have
  •  Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram
  • Sign up for my newsletter, podcast, etc.

Try these tips as you prepare for your next presentation and we’re betting you’ll have an engaged and smiling audience.

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Are you wasting your time sending emails?

your email campaign was a bustYou’ve decided it’s time to do an email campaign. So you buy a list, craft what you believe to be a good email letter and send it out. But when you look at the stats, you’re less than thrilled. Minimal opens. A lousy click through rate. ZERO conversions. What happened?

Let’s look at some possibilities:

  1. The list you purchased is ineffective.
  2. Your subject line is….yawn…..boring. Delete. Delete. Delete.
  3. You buried the lead. Get to the point before the reader drags your message to the trash.
  4. The tone of your letter is too formal.
  5. The tone of your letter is too casual.
  6. You missed some typos.
  7. There’s no call to action.

Any of these seem relevant? If so, here’s what you can do so your next email campaign isn’t a bust.

  • Save your moneyAccording to Hubspot, good email lists aren’t for sale. They suggest creating your own email list (we heartily agree) and this article gives you some good tips on how to do that.
  • Come up with subject lines that beg to be opened.  Pay attention to the emails you open. What are the subject lines that you simply must click on? That’s what you’re aiming for.

If you’re not a good writer, hire a copywriter. Your subject line should be enticing. It should either speak directly to your target market’s pain point or be clever enough that a prospect is curious to read more.   

For example:
Are cash flow worries keeping you up at night?
Do you know why your competitors are stealing away your clients?
3 things potential customers want that your company isn’t providing

  • Don’t waste a reader’s time. Everyone’s busy. Get to the point quickly. And make it easy to read by writing short paragraphs and breaking content up with subheads. Think of what you can do so the recipient can easily scan the entire letter. That increases the chances of being read.
  • Lose the formal language and infuse some warmth into your copy. The beauty of emails is that they are efficient direct marketing tools. You are speaking one-to-one with the reader. Actually, “you’re speaking one-to-one” is appropriate. It’s the perfect opportunity to write as though you were speaking face-to-face. 
  • Don’t be overly casual. Here’s an exception to the bullet above.  If the email is going to a recipient in a market where casual language is inappropriate (i.e. the FBI or legal entities), your copy should be straightforward. But not stuffy. You can still be human in your writing.
  • Make sure there are no typos. Typos are sloppy. They make an immediate bad impression. That’s why smart job seekers have multiple people review their resumes. It’s not just spelling errors, or the wrong word (e.g., “their / they’re / there”) but punctuation mistakes as well.

We make sure that three sets of eyes proof copy before anything goes out or gets published. Even then, we’ve had a few instances where we missed something. Believe me, you’ll be more careful the next time.

  • Call-to-action. If you’ve done a good job and your email gets read, be sure to lead the recipient to the next step.  Add a call-to-action so she knows what you want her to do. Or a “this is what we will do next”.

For example:

Let me know which of these dates/times work best for you to talk.
Which of our 3 free whitepapers would you like me to send you?
I’ll give you a call next week to set up a meeting.

I’ll add a few more tips:

  • Make sure your email speaks to the needs/wants/hopes of the recipient. That requires truly understanding their pain point.
  • Include backup. Use testimonials from happy clients to support your claims about how you can help this prospect.
  • Use color, white space and/or a graphic to make emails more visually appealing. Big chunks of copy are intimidating which means they probably won’t get read.

Who said email campaigns were easy?

Email campaigns can be challenging to pull off.  A 2018 Mailchimp survey showed the average email open rate was less than 21%. This was across the board for all industries they looked at.

That’s a whole lot of wasted effort as far as we’re concerned.  Our average open rate is 32%. That’s well above the average but we’re still aiming for higher.

Call us if your emails aren’t getting opened. We’d love to help you!  

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