E-Mail Marketing – The First Social Network

email marketingE-mail has been around since before the dawn of the internet.  That’s right, in the early 1970’s, the Federal Government was sending messages through the United States Department of Defense network, which handled over 30 million messages per month.

As we began to move more onto the information super-highway, services like Compuserve, Prodigy, and America On-Line began to proliferate, making it incredibly easy for everyone to have an e-mail address.  In fact, at the height of AOL’s dominance, they had over 30 million members worldwide (they only serve about 2.9 million subscribers, as of October 2012).  In contrast, Facebook has over 1 billion members, as of September 2012.

What made e-mail so “social” was the ease at which your messages could be forwarded to your entire address book.  If you wanted to share with friends and family, all you had to do was hit the “forward” button, and they were all able to participate in the discussion.

Fast forward to today, and most businesses are marketing through e-mail, but that doesn’t mean that they are “doing it right.”  Just using this “social network” isn’t enough.  We need to ensure that our e-mail marketing is accomplishing its goals of increased business, increased lead generation, and increased market share.  The big question, then, is what are some best practices in e-mail marketing?

Best Practices

1.  Write compelling Subject Lines

Keep it short and simple and incorporate the benefit of opening the e-mail.

2. Set your objective and then choose the appropriate frequency

Are you trying to promote, inform, or relate to your audience?

3. Call your audience to action

You are sending the e-mail for a reason.  Make sure they know it.

4. Make sure they recognize the “From” address

They may know your company name, but not yours.  Make sure the email comes from someone they “know.”

5. Keep your main message and call to action “above the fold”

This is “news speak” for making sure that the important information is seen without scrolling the message.

6. Be mindful of mobile devices

Statistics say that 38% of email is opened on a mobile device and only 33% is opened on a desktop, so make sure the fonts and images will look good on your recipients mobile devices.

7.  Make sure to use alt-text for your logo and pictures

This is text that describes the pictures and logos should images be turned-off on your web browser, smart phone or e-mail client.  That way your recipient knows what should be in the image’s place.

Can-Spam

In addition to the tips above, always make sure that you are abiding by the “Can-Spam Act”, which requires the following:

  • Don’t use false or misleading header information;
  • Don’t use deceptive subject lines;
  • Tell recipients where you are located;
  • Honor opt-out requests;
  • There needs to be a relationship between the sender and receiver.

If you follow these best practices and requirements, then your e-mail marketing is on the right track to continuing the social nature of e-mail marketing.

What subject lines to you find work the best? The worst?  Do you feel that you get too much e-mail?  Sound off in the comments below.

Resources:

Wikipedia – Email

Wikipedia – AOL

Constant Contact – The Value of E-Mail Marketing Video

9 Email Marketing Best Practices to generate More Leads

CAN-SPAM Act: A Compliance Guide for Business

Constant Contact

AWeber

MailChimp

Mobile email usage statistics

The Ever Changing Facebook

New Facebook News FeedI’ve been writing this blog for for almost 3 years, and it seems that I’ve written about changes to Facebook at least once every few months.  This month is no different.  On Thursday, March 7, 2013, Facebook announced drastic changes to its newsfeed.  They have decided to unify the newsfeed across all devices, desktop, laptop, tablet, and mobile, and to provide a better “newspaper” like experience, providing “all the news that you want to see.”

In addition, Facebook will begin to sort the newsfeed chronologically, and will place a greater emphasis on pictures and videos.  In fact, they are increasing the size of the newsfeed, and decreasing the size of the two sides.  There is also talk that they are removing the ticker from the right side, and that sponsored stories are now going to be placed within the newsfeed, as they currently do, only bigger.

The question remains, how does it affect business?

The biggest change for businesses will be the increased size of posts, pictures and videos, but a decrease in screen real estate where ads currently reside.  But, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, since Facebook is unifying the look across all platforms, ads will begin to appear in their mobile apps.

BUT, Facebook is also introducing (or re-introducing) sub-feeds, where you can organize your newsfeed according to specific criteria.  Through the new “all friends” feed, users will be able to see only those updates that their friends have posted.  There will be no updates from business pages at all.  Users can even focus their newsfeed to their closest friends, excluding all others.

Facebook is also going to implement feeds specifically related to photos and music, which may be a boon for advertisers within these respective genres.  They can target their ads to only show up for users within these respective feeds, which may lead to greater engagement.

They are also implementing a new “following” feed, which will aggregate all the stories from the brands that you follow, and also will show ads from all brands.

So, will these new changes be accepted, or will their one billion users revolt, as happens whenever a change is implemented?  Only time will tell.  What do you think of these changes?  Will they affect your use of Facebook?  Will they affect brands ability to connect with you?

 

Resources

Facebook Newsroom

The NEW Facebook News Feed: Everything You Need to Know

What Facebook’s New News Feed Means for Marketers

Facebook’s new News Feed: Bigger is Better

Hands On With the New Facebook

Connected Culture – The Art of Communicating with the Digital Generation

Connected CultureAfter appearing with Jerry Allocca on a panel discussion, he provided me a copy of Connected Culture – The Art of Communicating with the Digital Generation (amazon affiliate link), a book that provides a small business with a step-by-step guide to connecting in todays’ digital world.  And, after reading through this book, and partaking in many of the on-line resources, I can say that this book accomplishes its goal of offering an in-depth look into the “who”, “what”, and “where” of our connections within this new digital age.

Jerry Allocca, founder of CORE Interactive, offers his readers a step-by-step journey into the oftentimes confusing world of social media.  Allocca takes us through why we connect, who we are connecting with, and most importantly, how we can connect with our target audience to ensure that we, as businesses, leave no stone unturned.

And how does Allocca do this?  By following a great formula of offering readers the “why” we are connecting, and then offering them the tools to ensure it is done correctly.  Each chapter is followed by a downloadable workbook, so that readers can begin to implement the many ideas and actions Allocca outlines.

Should you read Connected Culture?  Absolutely.  But, more importantly, you should download and complete all of the downloadable workbooks, so that you are not only learning about the “Connected Culture”, you are able to participate in it.

Top 10 On-line Social Media Resources (plus one more)

Top 10After attending a continuing legal education seminar recently, I noticed many questions centered around where the attendees could find some of the best information regarding social media marketing on-line.  To help my fellow attendees, I have compiled a list of my top 10 social media on-line resources.

So, here we go:

10.       Social Media Explorer is a great site operated by Jason Falls, author of No BullShit Social Media, (check out my review here)which covers how you can use social media to grow your business.

9.         Social Fresh is a social media education company, whose goal is to create better marketing through social media.  This is a collaboration between Jason Keath, Corey Creed, and Katey Dietz, and they offer seminars and training, as well as a great blog.

8.         Mashable Social Media  The tech blog, Mashable, has several sections within their site covering several different industries, including entertainment, US and World news, videos and business.  And they cover social media with articles posted throughout the internet.  They also have a great e-mail newsletter, covering the “hot topics” of the day.

7.         JeffBullas.com  Jeff Bullas works with companies and executives to help optimize their brand with digital marketing and social media.  His blog’s focus is helping businesses get found on-line, and he offers all aspects of how-to as well as the why you should be.  I recommend you sign up for the e-mail updates!

6.         HubSpot Blog (and e-books).  Hubspot is one of the biggest inbound marketing agencies there is, and they produce an amazing amount of free educational content.  In addition, I receive a new downloadable e-book from them at least once a week, and they all provide some bit of information that even the novice social marketer would find useful.

5.         Pushing Social This blog, from Stanford Smith, provides practical blogging tips and resources for all small business owners, whether new to blogging or a seasoned pro.

4.         Business Grow by Mark Schaefer offers great insight into all things social marketing, with a bit of “humanity” thrown in.  And I look forward to his weekly “GrowToons”, which characterize social media in humorous cartoon fashion.

3.         Chris Brogan is a marketer with 12 years experience, and although his business caters to larger companies, his thoughtful insight into business is helpful to even the sole practitioner.  In addition, he offers several different newsletters, all of which I look forward to on a weekly basis.  He is also the author of several books, including Trust Agents and Google Plus for Business.

2.         Convince & Convert  This is the blog from Jay Baer, author of The Now Revolution, which covers social and content related topics in a “hype-free” way.  Another newsletter that I highly recommend.

1.         Social Media Examiner  This blog, run by Michael Stelzner, author of Launch: How to Propel Your Business Beyond the Competition, promises to be your “guide to the Social Media Jungle”, and he does so, offering help and advice in simple, non-technical terms.  In addition, he offers several “Success Summits” throughout the year, covering blogging, Facebook, and Social Media.

So, there you have it.  My top 10 social media resources, and I did promise you one more.  So, drumroll please…

DigitalEthos.org  That’s right.  The very blog where this will first appear is a non-profit organization responsible for facilitating awareness and education through training and interactives.  Make sure to sign-up for our Digital Media Monthly newsletter, and feel free to support us in our goal of helping businesses embrace social media (full disclosure – I am on the Board of Directors of Digital Ethos).

You can also check out Social Media Examiner’s top 10 social media blogs 2012 winners for even more great social media resources.

Do you have a favorite that you visit daily or receive a newsletter from that you can’t live without?  Please make sure to share it with us!

Resources:

Social Media Explorer

Social Fresh

Mashable Social Media

JeffBullas.com

HubSpot Blog

Pushing Social

Business Grow

Chris Brogan

Convince & Convert

Social Media Examiner

Social Media Examiner’s top 10 social media blogs 2012 winners

Article originally appeared at DigitalEthos.org

Don’t Market Like it's 2006

Marketing Like it is 2006On Wednesday night, I watched an old recorded episode of the West Wing.  In fact, it was the Pilot episode, which aired before the series finale on May 14, 2006.  As an aside, this is one of my all-time favorite T.V shows, and I still miss the incredible writing and wonderful acting.  But I digress…

As I was watching the episode on my DVR, and beginning to fast-forward the commercials, it dawned on me.  The commercials from 6 years ago are no different than the ones aired today.  No different at all.  NBC showed the same car commercials, the same travel commercials.  Maybe the songs and offers have changed, but the actual commercials are no different.

Really?  Nothing in the way of T.V. marketing has changed in 6 years?  That is a major problem.  But what’s worse is when marketers today try and use social media to market the same way they do in traditional media.  The same way they did in 2006.

Social marketing requires much more than creating a flashy ad and adding some music.  But, what, exactly does digital marketing require of businesses?

To be successful in social and digital marketing, businesses need to ensure that they are accomplishing the following:

  1. Have a strategy in place for your marketing
  2. Advertise where your clients are
  3. Engage the “right” audience
  4. Meld digital and traditional marketing, if necessary
  5. Monitor results
  6. Focus on clients’ needs
  7. Don’t just take the traditional and use it in digital

And, the most important point, as we move forward in the world of marketing:

Don’t just keep doing the same thing over and over!

When  you are looking to grow your brand or business, the most important thing to do is continually evolve your message.  Make sure it fits with the medium.

Don’t market like it’s 2006.

What are you doing to change your marketing for the new digital world?  How are you measuring results?

Top Five Marketing Mistakes Companies Make…And How to Recover!

Top 10 B2B Marketing Mistakes

Top 3 Marketing Mistakes from History That Can Teach Internet Marketers a Thing (or Two)

The West Wing