Constant Contact Enhances Email Marketing Features for Small Businesses

Constant Contact Enhances Email Marketing Features for Small Businesses

At the end of 2017, Constant Contact announced that they were adding several new features to their email platform geared towards helping small businesses better craft their emails. The enhancements are aimed at improving the email editing, design and user management capabilities offered by the platform. Here’s more on the specifics.

Email Editor

First up is the enhanced email editor. This editor comes with several “Action Blocks”: content sections that allow the email recipient to take several designated actions. Action blocks can include actions such as: RSVPing to an event, taking a poll, or donating to a cause. These blocks allow for more tailored email campaigns, better donation management and higher engagement rates.

To use the action blocks, all you have to do is drag and drop them into your email, then customize the block with your desired call to action. In the example of a polling block, you would add the block, then customize it with your question and all potential answers.

There are other drag-and-droppable features in the new editor, including a spacer to create space between sections and a feature that adds easy social sharing buttons.

Customizable Templates

Aside from action blocks, the new email editor tool offers pre-designed customizable templates that will help experts and beginners alike design professional-quality emails. The new editor tool features a large library of images as well as a range of customizable borders, fonts and colors.

Email User Management Features

And the final and arguably most important change, Constant Contact made improvements to email user management functions. Some of the tools used to improve this component of the platform are a new marketing calendar, dynamic sign-up forms that will attract subscribers and an inbox preview option that works better on a range of platforms and devices. Constant Contact also now allows you to segment your email contacts based on how your audience has engaged with your content in the past.

If you are currently using Constant Contact to automate your business emails, but need help crafting emails that get more actions, both Constant Contact’s blog and the MarketingBitz blog can give you tips on email marketing best practices.

Need Blog Inspiration? Here’s 8 Tools to Help You Generate Content Ideas

Need Blog Inspiration? Here’s 8 Tools to Help You Generate Content Ideas

If you do have a blog, you know how important it is to post regularly. Posting regularly, with interesting or useful content that generates traffic and shares can improve your search ranking thereby driving even more traffic to your site.

The frequency of posts depends on your industry, the time you can dedicate to writing these posts, and what your audience is most interested in. Some marketers feel businesses should post daily, some will say multiple times a day, and some will say posting twice a week is good enough. Additionally, some marketers feel many short blogs is more effective and others favor posting long-form content but less often. It is your responsibility to research what works best in your particular industry and for your audience.

When it does come time to post it can be difficult to generate content ideas. If you are experiencing writer’s block, try the following free tools to spark inspiration. All of these tools are free to use (at least at the most basic level):

  1. Quora: This crowdsourced website is a question and answer forum where people all questions around a broad range of topics. Look for threads related to your industry and see what people are asking. The answers to these questions can make for very strong blog content.
  2. BuzzSumo: If you have an existing blog idea, this is the perfect place to flesh out that idea by getting more information on the topic. Enter a topic into the search box and the platform will spit out a wealth of information on this topic and which content works best for social sharing.
  3. Portent’s Content Idea Generator: As the name suggests, this tool helps you generate blog titles based off of the keywords you enter into the system. Sometimes, just generating titles can help you decide what to write about and how to frame it. You can refresh the system as many times as you need for new ideas!
  4. Google Trends: Google offers a free tool where you can view consumer search trends and explore popular topics of interest around the world. By connecting these interests to your community and/or your business, this can help you make content timely and relevant.
  5. Twitter Trends: Like Google Trends, Twitter’s trending topics provide you with ideas on what’s going on around the world and what’s in the news. This might spark blog ideas, especially if you have a “weekly news” piece or newsletter you need to fill. You can also tailor your topics to be about local news, or what’s happening specifically in your area, or even receive fully tailored tweets that consider your location and the people you follow. To access Twitter Trends, log into Twitter directly.
  6. LinkedIn Pulse: This platform operates similarly to Twitter Trends in that it allows you to look up what news is trending on LinkedIn. You can cater your search results according to the channels you follow and the people in your LinkedIn network. You can download LinkedIn Pulse as a mobile app.
  7. Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator: This tool is easy to use and operates in a similar fashion to the Portent Title Maker. You will enter a content idea into the portal and it will in return spit out five potential blog titles to get your gears spinning. You can refresh the results as many times as you need until you find a viable option.
  8. UberSuggest: This tool is simple to use. Enter keywords into your search and the tool will respond with dozens, sometimes hundreds, of phrases that use that keyword. This tool can’t provide you with info on search volume, competition, or anything like that, but it is great for just generating ideas.

What tools do you use to generate content ideas for your blog?

If you don’t have a blog and need help understanding the pros and cons of managing one, watch this webinar recording: Everything You Need to Know About Building a Business Blog.

How to Evaluate & Select a Marketing Partner

How to Evaluate & Select a Marketing Partner

Is marketing your business not high on your priority list? Maybe you’ve tried doing it yourself and you simply don’t have the time to manage these activities on top of running your business. Or maybe you want to work with an expert that has the expertise to drive business results. Either way, seeking a marketing partner to help you in these efforts might be the answer for you.

The only problem is, how do you know who to trust with your marketing? There is a plethora of options: you could hire an agency (or multiple agencies) to handle different aspects of your marketing (email, social media, etc.) or you could hire a freelancer to do it all themselves. How do you decide?

Choosing a marketing provider should take some time, if you want to do it right. Before selecting a provider to work with, do your research. Below is a list of qualities to look for in a trustworthy marketing provider:

  1. Good Reputation: Does this provider have a strong reputation in the community? What do previous clients say about them? Request a list of references from the company and call these references to ask questions about their experiences with the provider. Similarly, try to locate a list of additional clients which can often be found on the company’s website. Reach out to some of these clients and see what they have to say.
  2. Strong Portfolio: Check the potential marketing provider’s portfolio. What kinds of projects have they completed and what kind of clients have they worked with? Do these projects or clients have similar needs as your business? Are they on a similar scale to your projects? Understanding what kind of expertise they have will help you evaluate if they are a fit for your particular business needs.
  3. Available Resources: It’s important to make sure that your potential marketing provider has the resources needed to meet your expectations. Does this marketing provider have enough staff to support you? Are they local or remote? Are they available and responsive by phone and email? Can a representative visit you in person, or do you have to travel to them? Do they service other businesses in or near your area? How many hours can they dedicate towards working on your projects? If you are thinking of a long-term partnership, do they have the resources to grow as your business grows? Ask these questions to understand if they are able to be of maximum service to your business.
  4. Transparency: To avoid misunderstandings, set expectations early. It is important to develop realistic and mutually agreeable performance indicators like website visits, phone calls, form fills, store visits, sales, etc. In addition, have regular (monthly or quarterly) check-ins to see how things are going. You’ll want the ability to set clear expectations for both the company and for you. Regular contact and open lines of communication is extremely important.
  5. Passion and Enthusiasm: At the end of the day, you will be working with this marketing provider on a regular basis, so you want to make sure they share in your passion for your business. Marketing a business requires understanding the ins and outs of the business as well as the things that make the business interesting and unique. A partner that asks more questions and takes an interest in you and your business will be a better fit than a partner that simply makes inflated promises. You will want them to care just as much about what you do as you do.

If you’re looking for a media-specific partner like an email marketing provider you might have some questions and considerations specific to that method of marketing. However, these five considerations are foundational to any new marketing relationship. So do your research before hiring a marketing provider and ask questions and compare results.

Register for our webinar on “Hiring (The Right) Marketing Partner for Your Business” on January 30, 2018.

To get started, check out the MarketingBitz Vendor Directory. This directory lists marketing providers across the world. You can search by the marketing services you are most interested in (social media, websites, SEO, email, etc.). Each listing tells a little more about the company and their specialties. Good luck!

5 Digital Marketing Strategies for Your Small Business in 2018

5 Digital Marketing Strategies for Your Small Business in 2018

The New Year has arrived! I am sure, like most years, you want 2018 to be the best year yet for your business. Whether you’re starting a new business, managing an established one or looking to rebrand, digital marketing will be an important way to hit your goals this year. Whatever your plan, here are a few new digital strategies to utilize in 2018 to keep up with digital marketing trends:

  1. Create Videos: YouTube attracts more adults during peak TV hours than any cable TV network. Additionally, 1.65 billion active Facebook users watch about eight billion videos each day. With proliferation of smartphones with good quality video cameras, it has never been easier to create videos. For these reasons video should have a place in your 2018 digital marketing strategy. Here are a few articles to help you get started with video marketing.
  2. Try Live-Streaming: Your customers want and expect real human connections. According to The Stream, 80% of audiences would rather watch live video than read a blog. Whether it’s streaming a live interview or hosting a live Q&A, live video is becoming an interesting new marketing tool for small businesses.When hosting a live-stream, make sure you have access to a power source, and make sure you are connected to reliable Internet. There is nothing worse than being in the middle of your stream and having the video cut out or lag. Also, keep in mind that live streams are appealing because they are authentic. Don’t strive to be perfect in your video. Practice a few times before you begin your stream, but remember that if you do make a mistake, do your best to accept it and move on. Watch live streams from companies and brands you follow and copy ideas that you like. Be creative and have fun with it!
  3. Segment Your Audience: Segment your customers and potential customers so that you can personalize your marketing messages based on interests. According to a report by Gartner, companies that have invested in some kind of personalization by 2018 will outsell those that don’t. Depending on how you collect consumer information, you can segment it in different ways. If you use a CRM tool, you may be able to download email lists that are sorted based on demographic and behavioral information. For example, maybe you want to segment your audience based on their geographic location, gender, income or other details.After you’ve segmented your audience, you can start developing content personalized to different groups. When developing ads on Facebook and LinkedIn, you can upload your specific segmented lists and target that way as well.
  4. Engage Your Audience, Especially on Social Media: It’s called “social” media for a reason. The content you generate on social media should generate conversations with your audience, and you should engage in these conversations. Respond to comments and messages in a timely manner. You can take it one step further by allowing your audience to generate content for you on social media. This is called “user-generated content.”User-generated content is gaining popularity because people are more likely to trust the opinions of your customers over yours. One strategy would be to allow a trusted follower to “takeover” your Instagram account for a week, or start a hashtag campaign around a product launch. Just keep in mind, if you decide to go with the takeover idea, that you need to have a vetting process in place. For example, if you operate a blog and have regular contributors, make it a rule that only contributors can take over your account, or let one of your employees do the first takeover to establish a process. Finally, make sure that whoever is taking over your content is still posting relevant content that matches your brand guidelines.
  5. Be Discoverable Online: Micro-moments are a recent trend where consumers look for products the moment they are ready to buy, using their smartphones. Your customers always have their phones on them, and when they need to run a quick errand, your website or social pages need to be readily available to them. For these reasons, it is important to optimize your website for mobile. Next, make sure you have created and/or claimed your business listings on all the major sites such as Google My Business, Bing Places, Yelp, Facebook and Apple Maps. This will help your business rank for relevant searches in your particular market. The bottom line is your business information needs to be readily available to your customers.

The effectiveness of these ideas will be a direct result of three things: your strategy, your resources to aid in these efforts and the actual execution of these tasks. In addition, these are by no means the only marketing methods your business should consider in 2018. Get creative and continue to educate yourself on all the latest trends and tactics for generating clicks, calls, store visits and other important customer actions.2018 marketing

Top 10 MarketingBitz Blogs of 2017

Top 10 MarketingBitz Blogs of 2017

A lot can change in one year, and MarketingBitz.com is no exception. From 2017 to 2018, we have grown and adapted to the ever-changing digital marketing industry. But before we move into the new year, let’s take a look back at the most popular MarketingBitz blogs of 2017:

The Importance of Using Good Imagery on Social Media (June 6, 2017)
LSA: “Humans are visual creatures and the way we interact with imagery online is no exception. Your website and social media platforms should have consistent, high-quality imagery that effectively showcase your products or services. This will help ensure that your audience is actually engaging with and absorbing your content.”

Going Beyond NAP: How to Make Your Business Listing a Powerful Marketing Tool (Part 1) (January 3, 2017)
Infogroup: “In this blog series, Going Beyond NAP: How to Make your Business Listing a Powerful Marketing Tool, we will go over best practices for managing your business listing to ensure greater success as you tackle local SEO.”

5 Advertising Mistakes You May Not Realize You’re Making (September 28, 2017)
LSA: “Great advertising can be phenomenal for a business’s success. Companies can crank out excellent ads with excellent results, but they can just as likely create some not-so-awesome ones due to unlikely advertising blunders. Everyone makes mistakes once in a while, but wasted money on failed advertising executions is a mistake nobody wants to make.”

Building a Sychronized Strategy to Increase Your Social Media ROI (March 7, 2017)
Hibu: “It’s true that it’s difficult to put a number on a “Like,” a “Comment” or a “Share” – in fact, it’s hard to track the overall ROI (return on investment) to this thing we call social. As more and more of the buying cycle falls into the jurisdiction of marketers, we are increasingly being asked to prove and increase the ROI of our efforts. So just how do we measure what we’re doing on social? And what steps can we take to improve the performance?”

3 Holiday Marketing Trends to Leverage in 2017 (October 5, 2017)
RevLocal: “It’s time to start working on your holiday marketing, so let’s talk about some trends we expect to see as well as tips you can use to optimize your small business’s holiday marketing.”

Your Local Business Can Rule the Web: Here’s How (February 8, 2017)
YP: “Optimizing your business website for local search is absolutely critical as more and more consumers flock to the web or to their mobile phones to search for local businesses. Whether you own a landscaping business, an HVAC company, or a law practice, you can run circles around your competition and rule the web using these local search marketing tactics.”

Hey Alexa, How Do I Optimize for Voice Search? (March 30, 2017)
Microsoft: “Part one of this blog series covered How to Get Started with Search Engine Marketing. Part two covered 5 Ways to Improve Your Website Visibility and Paid Search Performance. Now we are going to dig a little deeper into a new avenue of search, Voice Search, and how to optimize your website for it.”

How to Make the Most of Search Marketing with a Limited Budget (February 15, 2017)
Mediative: “As search continues to get more and more personalized and localized, small businesses need to appear for key search terms when people are looking for them. But big businesses are also working to connect with local consumers, and they have budgets to outpace any competition.”

5 Common Misconceptions About Online Reviews (January 17, 2017)
MarketingBitz: “According to a Thrive Analytics study, 55% of consumers will not consider a business if they have bad ratings and reviews. Reviews play a large role in molding your online reputation. However, there are several common misconceptions about reviews that every small business owner should be aware of.”

5 Important B2B Advertising Lessons (October 3, 2017)
97th Floor: “All too often we can look back on our paid marketing campaign’s progress and see that we’ve wasted a large portion of our budget on something we probably should have known would happen. Testing is always important, but we can make educated guesses. Here are five things I wish every B2B marketer knew.”