Category Archives: Email Marketing

Online Marketing and Economic Downturn Discussions are Hot Again

By | Business Intelligence, Email Marketing, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, Strategic Planning | 5 Comments

We talked about it back in July (with a bit more of a green tint), but the discussion of how beneficial all forms of online marketing can be in an economic downturn has definitely raised its head again. Rand at SEOMoz.org touches on search engine optimization in a downturn in his post today and the latest issue of Search Marketing Standard has an article by Laura Callow asking, Is Search Marketing Recession-Proof?

Rand’s article raises some valid points about the SEO industry. Now that other forms of advertising and sales channels have slipped up a bit due to their high costs or lower ROI, online marketing – including SEO, is taking more of the marketing budget pie in a lot of corporate environments. Internal marketing departments and external marketing agencies are having to prove their worth more, now that budgets are getting stretched and squeezed to their fullest. If a channel isn’t accountable for spending vs. sales then the likelihood that it will survive this downturn is unlikely.

Also, SEO is coming out of the shadows. As myths get debunked and education is expanded to business owners and marketers, true SEO is gaining ground as a viable marketing initiative. Of course there are still gamers, hacks and snake oil salesmen out there and until our industry grows up a lot more and sets some standards the fight will rage on between white hat and black hat SEO.

On the other side of the fence Ms. Callow discusses the benefits of search marketing or PPC advertising. Which is one arena where we have seen tremendous growth in the last several months. Of course a majority of this growth can be attributed to the holiday season, as we handle pay per click advertising for several online retailers. However it is not just retailers looking to leverage this channel over traditional advertising – many of our b2b customers have been asking about it as well. I believe Ms. Callow nails the reasoning for this perfectly in her article.

Often marketers are attracted to PPC advertising due to its inherent benefits such as advanced targeting, accountability and cost effectiveness. With PPC advertising you can start or stop ads at any time, run them only when you know people will be looking for your product or service, target by geographic region (down to the city level) and attract customers using their nomenclature at the exact instance of their interest and query. With advanced web analytics you can track click to conversion metrics to further account for each dollar spent vs. each dollar generated.

There is also a “safe” factor to PPC advertising. Marketers know that they can invest a minimal amount upfront and give it a test run. If they feel it is not working for them they can stop all ads and outgoing costs instantly or they can retool ads and spend more time doing keyword research to find better converting terms. Right now these are especially attractive features.

Don’t Stop at SEO and PPC Advertising

The only thing both of these articles are missing is any mention of other online marketing initiatives, like permission based email marketing. Email marketing is still a tremendous way to market on a very cost effective platform. It literally costs pennies, and in most cases fractions of pennies, to leverage an internal customer or lead list that may be gathering dust and turn it into a powerful customer relationship management channel and sales tool.

So if you are not already involved in online marketing, you better get your move on! You are already losing ground, market share and revenue to your competitors if you are not actively working the online channel. In all market conditions it is a powerful marketing tool, but especially during an economic downturn.

Fire Up Those Email Marketing Campaigns for the Holidays

By | Business Intelligence, Email Marketing | No Comments

With the holiday season fully upon us many businesses are seeking ways to stretch their marketing dollars to the absolute limit and maximize their return. While many choose to use direct mail campaigns, one of the most cost effective ways to promote your goods or services is through email marketing campaigns. Here are a few tips to help you get those email marketing campaigns fired up for the holiday season.

Pick an email vendor to send the campaigns.

One of the worst ways try to send mass emails is through your desktop email client. Many businesses simply copy and paste contacts from their address book into a BCC email and send it out. With this method you run the risk of many people marking the email as spam. This reflects badly on your domain with ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and they could blacklist your domain for these practices.

Use a reputable email vendor such as Campaign Monitor, Constant Contact or Newsberry to handle ISP relations and help ensure delivery. These companies also offer very good reporting after your campaign has been sent to let you know how many people opened your offer or clicked on a link inside the email – something you can not do with a BCC email.

Choose your content and subject line carefully.

Even if you use an email vendor your message could still be flagged as spam by the ISP or recipient, so you want to choose your content wisely and write a compelling subject line that will clear spam filters and get recipients to open your message. It is not a bad idea to work with a copywriter that has experience in this area. Be sure to avoid the top 100 words you shouldn’t use in email subject lines if you plan to do this yourself. Couple specials or promotions with messaging on your website or in your store. Get creative with your messaging and use this special time of the year to push more sales (people love sales!) for things like After Christmas Specials and New Year Blowouts.

Choose a compelling design.

While all of the email vendors listed above have pre-built templates you can use, they remain pretty generic. Just slapping your logo into one of them can reflect badly on your brand identity. If possible work with someone who has experience with email marketing design and building templates that will work in all email desktop clients.

Choose your delivery time and day.

Different industries have different best practices for delivery times and days of the week. Many retailers have their best success by delivering in the afternoon and some do very well with Friday or weekend email blasts. Corporations with a b2b focus usually fare better with a morning delivery Tuesday through Thursday.

Scrub, rinse and repeat.

After your email campaign goes out you can review the report you get from the email vendor to see your open rate, bounce rate, and click through rate. Remove the bounced email addresses from your list, review your content and subject line, make needed adjustments to the message and prepare a new campaign.

Send out email marketing campaigns on a schedule that makes sense for your business. If you are just sending an email newsletter, once a month is probably good. If your store offers weekly specials then send once a week. Any more than once a week you run a serious risk of turning customers off to your message and business. This also increases the risk that you will get marked as spam or have people unsubscribe from your offerings.

By following these few simple guidelines you can maximize your return on investment with cost effective email marketing campaigns and have a stellar holiday season!

Green Marketing in an Economic Downturn

By | Business Intelligence, Email Marketing, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Marketing, Search Engine Marketing, seo, Strategic Planning | One Comment

Altered BambiEveryone wants to go green. It’s become hip to be environmentally conscience. At the same time we’ve hit very uncertain economic times. Every day we read headlines on record setting gas prices and more housing foreclosures. With things looking so uncertain many businesses are searching for ways to utilize their greenbacks more effectively, but also want to jump on the carbon-free, tree-hugging enviro-bus. So if this describes you, what can you do to accomplish both?

You can shift your marketing dollars away from traditional print and direct marketing to internet marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), and PPC advertising. As we say on our solutions page, your website is the core to all your marketing initiatives. It is the only marketing tool that gives you direct, almost real-time, feedback of marketing campaigns. No more guesstimates as to how that direct mail campaign went or how many people even saw your ad in the yellow pages, let alone called you because of it.

With the tracking and analytics capabilities of the internet you know almost instantaneously how well your marketing collateral, ad buys, or email campaign was received. You get real numbers allowing you to understand where you should invest more or curtail other initiatives. If you are not receiving statistical data from your web development company, internet marketing firm, or email marketing agency you should probably seek additional vendor help in those areas.

Now more than ever it is critical to be strategic with your marketing dollars. It’s time you know exactly where your marketing dollars are going and exactly what you are getting for them. Return on your investment (ROI) can be determined almost immediately and there is no guessing. Can you say the same about your last print ad campaign?

Not only can you be more strategic with internet marketing, but you can also claim you’re going green! By not running print ads your business is not using the paper to print the direct mail pieces or using the toxic and environmentally unfriendly inks used in printing those items like postcard mailers or newspaper ads. Some people in the print industry or more traditional graphic design agencies may want to argue the validity of that statement, but stop and think about every aspect of creating and delivering a single direct mail piece. If you compare the total process from creating the ink, making the paper, printing the item and then delivering the item,with the alternative of using electrical energy to keep the ad servers up and running you can see the environmental impact for online marketing is dramatically lower than many other advertising options.

With online marketing, not only can you feel warm and fuzzy inside about doing your part to save the planet, but your wallet will also feel good. Because online marketing does not use those physical, natural resources it does not carry the same high cost as print advertising. When you hire an internet marketing firm you are paying for their time, energy, and effort to create your digital ad. You do not have to pay for the ink company to create the ink or the paper company to create the paper or the printer to print the creative piece – all those items that get built into the cost of doing direct mail. Instead your budget can be put towards what is most important – creating powerful ads that drive real customers to your door! Isn’t that the point of marketing in the first place?!?

When things look to be getting tougher many businesses immediately start to slash and burn their marketing budgets – one of the worst things to do in these times. You don’t want to bury your head in the sand and wait out the storm while your competitors expand their branding and advertising online. Instead you should contact an internet marketing consultant to help you put your marketing dollars to better use.

Westward Strategy: E-marketing Enhances the Bottom Line

By | Business Intelligence, Client Successes, Email Marketing, Portfolio, Strategic Planning, Web Design, Westward Strategy, What Are People Saying | 2 Comments

Sparks Tribune – BUSINESS
Jun 12, 2008
by Jessica Garcia

It’s the axiom of the Internet versus standard paper mailing: Technology has become the predominant source of information. Can two forms of advertising and marketing co-exist?

Kristy Crabtree Westward StrategyThey can – and they should, local businesswoman Kristy Crabtree said.

But making the transition to e-marketing might just give a business the edge it needs to attract new customers as well as retain current ones, she emphasized.

Crabtree’s company, Westward Strategy and Design Group, has been busy the past few months. With the launching of six Web sites for Reno and Sparks businesses, Crabtree spends her time consulting with businesses and showing them how a Web site can enhance their services.

“We try to be a full-service for online (needs),â€Â? said Crabtree, who opened Westward, her first business, two years ago.

Crabtree, along with marketing and design specialist Chris Gandolfo, consult with their clients to understand their advertising objectives and design Web sites to target their desired demographics, increase traffic hits and optimize Internet searches so their companies are found more easily.

Web marketing, Crabtree said, offers businesses som things that traditional methods of advertising doesn’t: the ability to evaluate results and effectiveness.

Westward can report to their clients how effective their sites are through analytics, which is the tracking of information about a Web site’s user: their location, how long they spend on the site and even what they’re interested in by the pages they visit.

Such background information helps Westward and other e-marketing companies determine whether the Web site’s information is effectively helping the company achieve its goals.

“With analytics, you can see an impact has been made to the bottom line,â€Â? Gandolfo said.

E-marketing has potential for businesses of any size. Westward is now focusing on rural clients, such as businesses in Winnemucca, for whom they are now building a site similar to www.monster.com for rural employers and job seekers.

Crabtree said having a site geared specifically on the local level allows these businesses to have more control over what they’re posting.

Westward’s clientele is a variety of businesses in different industries, all with different needs. One of the six companies that recently had their Web sites launched by Westward, ACS Business Insurance Services, Inc., had its former site redone to become more user-friendly, said ACS President Andy Perwein.

“We created more of a user-friendly site that would involve interaction from a quoting perspective,â€Â? Perwein said. “Prospective clients can go in and obtain quotes for themselves and family members on medical and life insurance.â€Â?

It creates easier access for the potential client, who can then call the company to talk to an agent further about their options. Hiring Westward Strategy was a good move for ACS, he said.

“I’ve known Kristy a long time and the e-marketing side of the equation was important to be able to get more traffic driven to our site,â€Â? Perwein said.

Still, ACS will continue using its traditional mailings and print advertising to promote its services, begging the question: Will e-marketing replace traditional means of advertising?

Carol Wenzel of Nevada Presort and Mail Marketing, said she doesn’t think so.

The Sparks-based business that sorts and meters individual and mass mailings hasn’t seen a significant decrease in services due to e-marketing because some people prefer the old-fashioned method of receiving materials in their mailbox, Wenzel said.

“I think people still prefer … to look at a pretty picture of something they might need instead of getting it in their e-mail,â€Â? she said. “I personally delete it (from my e-mail) because I don’t know I need it.â€Â?

Wenzel said if there has been a decrease in advertising mailers, it’s because of the slumping economy, not necessarily because businesses are taking their marketing online.

“You never know from day to day,â€Â? she said. “It goes back and forth.â€Â?

Crabtree said e-marketing is often cheaper than mailing out postcards and purchasing advertisements in local newspapers. She said designing a site, in general, often ranges from $500 to $25,000, depending on how sophisticated and complex the clients’ needs are.

“If it’s a site for an entrepreneur or sole proprietor, it’s cheap for them,â€Â? Crabtree said. “The rest are just bells and whistles.â€Â?

Regardless of price, Crabtree said if companies want greater success at bringing in customers, e-marketing is becoming the way to go. They might do well on traditional means of advertising, but without an online presence, “you’re missing out,â€Â? she said.

More information about Reno Web Design and Marketing
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Photo by: Tribune/Debra Reid – Kristy Crabtree of Westward Strategy and Design Group poses with her photo of balloons at the Sparks Marina during Star Spangled Sparks.

Reviewing SEO & Web Related Topics from the Past

By | Business Intelligence, Email Marketing, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Every now and again a day comes along where posts pop up all over the web on topics we’ve covered here on this blog before. Today is one of those days. Below are the new articles and our previous take on the topic. Enjoy!

Reviewing SEO&Web Related Topics from the Past

By | Business Intelligence, Email Marketing, Natural Search Engine Optimization, Strategic Planning, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Every now and again a day comes along where posts pop up all over the web on topics we’ve covered here on this blog before. Today is one of those days. Below are the new articles and our previous take on the topic. Enjoy!

RFP – Random Friday Post

By | Business Intelligence, Email Marketing, RFP - Random Friday Post, Tips and Tricks | No Comments

Whenever you are going to be communicating with a mass of people, no matter the medium you plan to use, make sure you have at least one other person proofread your copy. All of your copy, even the subject line.

This email would have made a much larger impact and probably sold more tickets for the show Peter Pan had the subject line been correct. However, I bet their open rate went through the roof to find out who Peter Oan is. 🙂

Proofread and Spell check all of your copy!

Have a great weekend!