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Four Steps to a Successful Email Marketing Strategy

Four Steps to a Successful Email Marketing StrategyWhile Social Media for small business continues to be a rave topic in marketing forums around the world, statistics indicate that, although annoying to some, email marketing is still one of the most powerful tools that a business can use to engage with its customers. Your Inbox is irrevocable proof of this – how many items of marketing did you receive this morning?

Although some will never be opened, the humble email can still be an effective way of reaching out to your customers. But, as with anything, there is a right way and a wrong way. Here’s our four top tips to help you create an effective (and legal*) email marketing strategy for your business:

Grow your database 

Before you start any email marketing campaign, you need legitimate* emails in your database to use. Gathering these addresses is quite easy if you have an established website. You can use the popular method of the pop-up window or simply have a newsletter subscription somewhere on your home page. MailChimp has plugins that work directly through the WordPress framework and integrate with their newsletter systems, saving the hassle of collecting email addresses and adding them manually to your campaigns.

Whatever method you use, remember to always declare why you are gathering the addresses and what can be expected in return (see value point below).

Remember the Mobile Users

Due to the unstoppable growth of smart phones, more emails than ever before are being viewed on a mobile device. In fact, up to 75% of email opens* could be via mobile depending on your industry. To cater for this audience, ensure that your emails are mobile optimised – easy to read on a small screen, low on data usage and concise in their information.

http://www.emailmonday.com/mobile-email-usage-statistics

Four Steps to a Successful Email Marketing StrategyBe aware of the SPAM Act 2003

To keep your email marketing within the lines of the law, you must ensure that any emails you send comply with three main points  – Consent, Identity and Unsubscribe.

Consent – The receiver of your emails must be made fully aware at the time they subscribe exactly what they will be receiving in return. Consent can also be in the form of an existing relationship with the receiver i.e. they are already a customer.

Identity – Marketing emails must identify who is sending the emails and their contact information.

Unsubscribe – Each email must include an Unsubscribe option so that consent can be retracted at any time.

Learn more: http://www.acma.gov.au/Industry/Marketers/Anti-Spam

Offer Value

The  secret behind any email campaign that wants to grow and be effective to offer subscribers VALUE in what they receive. Value can come in multitude of forms. You can reply with a free eBook, a newsletter filled with tricks and tips or keep them up to date with the latest industry news. If you are advertising products or services, butter up the receiving party with a discount voucher for their next purchase.

Everyone loves getting something for free and your subscribers are more likely to stick around.

Remember, what may work for one business may not necessarily work for yours. As with any marketing, try out all your ideas but be sure to MEASURE the response. Don’t spend hours of your precious small business time barking up the wrong tree only to find out that you aren’t getting a decent return from your efforts. Make a note of what works and what doesn’t, fine-tuning along the way. This approach will lead to an effective email strategy that will grow your business without eating away at your marketing budget or your valuable time.

 

Avoid the Pitfalls of a Dodgy Web Developer.

How to Avoid the Pitfalls of a dodgy web developer.Checking out your competitors is a must for any small business working online, even in our field of web development. By following businesses in the same marketplace as yours, you can keep an awareness of your competition’s offerings and keep abreast of changes in your industry.

Recently, whilst developing a new pricing structure for Rusty Mango Design, I have observed that there are a few unscrupulous practices that some web developers are engaging in. The products and services that they are offering are not exactly what their clients are paying big bucks for. These operators are the equivalent of the dodgy used-car salesman.

Luckily, by following a few simple tips, you can avoid the pitfalls of working with one of these so-called “web developers”.

Watch out for cheap templates being sold as “custom” website design.

The most common trait of a dodgy web designer is the practice of purchasing and using cheap templates and passing it off as their own work.

Purchases these themes from sites such as Themeforest might be fine for some however, as themes can often be bought for less than $60, it seems very wrong that a “web developer” can charges hundreds of dollars for work that they aren’t doing. These operators generally have no knowledge of website coding and, beyond adding pretty pictures, will not be able to modify or customise the site.

The major downside to this – your site will end up looking exactly like thousands of others who use the same theme.  

Rusty Mango Design uses a base theme for our websites called “Rusty Mango Responsive”.  As you can guess by the name, we developed the theme ourselves and it provides a solid foundation from which we build our customised websites, tailored made and coded to our client’s individual requirements. You can’t buy our theme online.

Shop around for the best Price VS Services.

Don’t accept exorbitant fees for website development simply because “that’s what it costs these days”. A web design doesn’t have to break the bank and eat your entire marketing budget. Most developers offer a free quoting service via their websites so use these to your advantage and compare what can be done and what at what price.

With the number of designers competing for your business, you no longer have to pay big city prices for a website but on the other hand, don’t expect to get a customised site for $99 – it just ain’t going to happen.

Use a Local Developer

The most effective websites are the result of clear communication between the business and the developer. Goals are clearly laid out at the beginning of the design and constant adjustments are made in consultation along the way.

This communication can take many forms but it is important that it is ongoing. I’ve heard stories of web developers being very communicative during the initial discussion of a design but once the quote has been approved and site is developed, they aren’t heard from again. After launch support is important – without it the site becomes stale and the business loses out in the long run.

Using a local web developer can avoid the pitfalls of lost communication. You can visit the developer, be an active participant in the design process of your site and, when it’s all online, receive training, support and assistance to keep the site fresh and performing optimally.

Best of all, if you don’t hear from them – you can turn up on their door step ????

Finally,

How to Avoid the Pitfalls of a dodgy web developer.Always insist on a Pre-Design Agreement or Detailed Quote.

NEVER hire a web developer who hasn’t clearly laid an exact description of the work they are going to do for you and the service they are going to provide afterwards. This may be in the form of a signed contract or, if you work with Rusty Mango, a detailed quote that describes exactly what is going to be done and for how much.

Be sure that any changes to this document are also documented using Change Orders and keep a close track whether these changes tie in with the initial quote. Without this proper documentation, a dodgy web developer can possibly rip you off for thousands of dollars.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business Website

It was once optional for a small business to have a website. Nowadays, having an 24/7 online presence is mandatory to remain competitive in a global marketplace.

But keeping a website current and up-to-date is often hard for a small business. Your employees often have little “spare” time for tasks such as site updates and, as a result, websites can easily be forgotten – left on the “do it tomorrow” pile. Without this required attention, a stagnant site will soon start to repel potential business customers, rather than attract.

Luckily, with a little planning during the development stage (and a regular dedication of time), these problems can be easily avoided and your website can become a strong marketing hub for your small business that doesn’t drain your resources.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business WebsiteIntegrate a Content Management System (CMS) from Day One

A user-friendly Content Management System allows site owners and managers the ability to update and create new content directly on their websites. By integrating a CMS as the framework for a new website, you are instantly putting yourself into the driver’s seat to control what goes on your site and how “fresh” it stays.

Learning a CMS is not hard either. The basics of WordPress CMS can be learnt in a matter of minutes, as the editing functions are styled like that of a Word Processor. As I often say to new clients – “If you can create a document in Word, then you can update your own website!”

Use a Content Calendar (and stick to it)

A content calendar (also known as an editorial calendar) helps to plan out new content for your website or social media feed and details when it will be created. This weekly, monthly or yearly calendar should be an integral part of your business’ overall marketing strategy.

By planning content in advance, you (or whoever manages your website) can commit to producing site-worthy information that is suitable for your target audience. By putting a due date on it and ensuring that date is adhered to, working on your site becomes part of your everyday business schedule.

Automate Site Updates and Customer Interaction

If it is possible to time aside for working on your site’s content, take advantage of tools such as the content scheduling that is built into WordPress. Create five blog posts or page updates at one time then use the schedule to program the dates that you want the content to be released onto your website.

Here’s the secret: this blog post you are reading was one of five that I wrote over a recent weekend. I have set the schedule in WordPress to release one every two weeks. Blog Posts for next 10 weeks – done!

Schedule a Post

Allow an Employee to take ownership of website management

Although small businesses don’t have employees to “spare”, it would be ideal to assign the maintenance and upkeep of the website to one person – a web-savvy employ who could take care of both website and social media posts.

Giving ownership of the site to an employee (with guidance of course) ensures that the site will be monitored and “fed” new content to keep your online customers, and Google, happy.

Five Simple Tips to help manage your Small Business WebsiteGet your Web Developer to care of updates for you

If all else fails and managing your website is just not possible in-house, look to a professional. Many web development companies offer a monthly plan which includes website content updates. Caution though, if you are taking this option, compare the plan price against the everyday (hourly) rate of the company to ensure that you are getting a decent offer.

You will still to need to provide content via email but a professional will get it online, make it look pretty and ensure that it gets the right sort of attention.

As discussed in a previous blog post, an out-of-date website that is uncared for will cost you business. Prospects visiting the site will get a poor first impression and Google won’t care for your site either. With the tips above, your site remains “fresh” and acting as a positive reflection of the small business that it portrays.

Five Simple Reasons your Small Business should have a BLOG

Unless you have been living under a rock and using smoke signals to promote your business, you are probably aware of the term “Blog”. For the rock-dwellers, a Blog is a regular website article, typically written by an individual and written in an informal or conversational style.

The simple Blog has become a powerful marketing tool and it is one of the most effective tools that a business can use to engage with their customers. Used correctly, a Blog enables direct communication with prospects and allows the sharing of relevant information with current clients.

Here’s five simple reasons why your small business needs to start blogging:

Five Simple Reasons your Small Business should have a BLOGTo provide your customers with helpful content.

Gone are the days where a website simply existed to tell customers where you are and what you do. With a wealth of information available at our fingertips, we expect more from the business sites that we choose to visit.

Reward your site visitors with value by providing helpful tips on using your products/services, examples of how other customers have benefited through a relationship with your business or discussing news articles that are relevant to the industry in which you operate.

Visitors are much more likely to return to your site if they know that fresh information awaits them on each visit.

A Blog gives your Business a Voice.

Through the voice of a blog, a small business operator can show that the business is run by real people who care about what they do. You can use blog posts to provide insights into the business or to introduce the employees who make the business what it is. You can tell your customers WHY you’re in business, HOW you have helped others and WHAT you can do to help them.

Be sure to use your own “voice” when writing blog posts – I read all my posts out loud as I type them to ensure that they “sound” like me.

Create a Two-Way Conversation 

Enable comments on your blog to encourage interaction with your site visitors. If you are concerned about the type of comments that will be left by visitors, systems can be put in place to allow moderation of comments before they are posted.

Reply quickly to all comments and open a channel of discussion. Demonstrate that you are an expert in your industry and your business is worth the site visitor’s attention.

Search Engines LOVE Blogs

The GoogleBot looks for websites that have valuable, helpful content as part of its search ranking system and rewards relevant content with improved positions in search results. Your Blog content, when written correctly, is perfect for fulfilling this requirement as it ticks the boxes for being fresh, relevant AND helpful.

Five Simple Reasons your Small Business should have a BLOGBlogging will Inspire your Business life

Once you get into a routine of Blogging, you’ll start to see new ideas all around you. Not just for your blog, but for all aspects of your business life. Talking with workmates, watching TV, eating in a restaurant, and just walking the dog – you’ll be surprised where ideas will begin to spring from.

Remember this quote from David Allen of GTD* fame – “Your brain is for having ideas, not storing them”.  Write down ideas, straight away. My idea-writing medium of choice – the extra sticky Post-It note, stuck to my monitor.

One hidden advantage to Blog writing that I have found is the strengthening of my ability to effectively write and speak, not just about my industry but in all forms of communication. My language usage has been “awakened” through weekly blog writing and I feel comfortable communicating on forums, emails, customer letters, meetings with clients and speaking with family/friends.

Blog writing is not hard nor time-consuming – simply set aside a small piece of time and get going. I usually write the first draft of a blog in 25 minutes using a Pomodoro timer and then leave that piece for a couple of days. I’ll then take another look to polish before posting online (which usually takes another 25 minutes).

The most important thing is to start and be consistent – the benefits of a Blog will surprise you.

* GTD = “Getting Things Done” by David Allen

Tropical Coast Web Design