Archive for January, 2016

5 Steps to Successful Inbound Marketing

With inbound marketing, your website is your hub and you want your audience to not just visit, but stay and interact. To do this, you need to make sure that you are providing a wealth of information (without giving away the proverbial milk for free) and keeping your brand consistent. Hopefully, while you do this, you are displaying your ultra-cool company persona as well.

By sharing your expertise through blog posts, white papers, and more, you will attract and encourage your audience to pass the information along to their colleagues and acquaintances. In essence, you are inviting your audience to share your materials so you reach an even larger number of people over time.

But you can’t just throw things up on your website and assume they will be shared. You can’t just upload or post items and think that they will be received well and be the next viral email or Facebook post. Here are some tips to make sharing easy and encourage your audience to share your content over and over again:

Don’t assume that your viewers are already connected with you. Many will not be. So make sure that visible buttons and links are available on your website for the audience to hop on over to your various social media profiles and connect with you via Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, LinkedIn and so on. Having the graphic buttons on your HOME page with direct links to those profiles is a must. But don’t be shy. You can add them to every web page. You can also whip up a blog post discussing social media and inviting your audience to come and hook up with you via the social media platforms they are active on.

Make it easy. There are plenty of plug ins that will make it a simple action for the viewers to share your material. Ideally, every blog post will have the ability to quickly and easily be distributed across multiple social media platforms if the audience feels compelled to share.

Don’t be afraid to ask. It’s okay to ask your audience to share something that you feel especially important to pass along. You might not want to do this with every single thing you post on your site, as it may get old real quick with your audience. So do this selectively. But don’t be too shy about it either.

Make sure your items are share worthy. Not everything is. And that’s okay. But you want a majority of your material to be passed along. So try to be timely by tying material into current topics, a calendar item or hot button issue. Also, take a look at your headlines…are they eye-catching? You have a second or two to grab your audience’s attention. Make your headline work for you.

Talk to your audience. This is not monologue time. Think and post with a dialogue in mind, every single time. You are inviting interaction. You are nurturing a budding relationship. You want your audience to speak back to you, to pass along your amazing materials and spread the word about you. So don’t toot your own horn with every upload and offering. Ask for feedback. Ask for comments. Pose questions and start that conversation up.

Over time, you will come to see what types of items are passed along via social media platforms and what topics receive more interest and dialogue. As this happens, you should evolve your materials to fit that “need.” Remember, sharing is caring. So be a giver!

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Creating Landing Pages That Extend

When designing and building a landing page, we typically have a specific purpose in mind. For example, let’s say that we have a goal of registering 100 people for an Open House event. We may promote it through direct mail, emails, and a banner ad. All of those medias will point to a landing page.

When people hit it, we certainly want them to be able to easily figure out how they can register for the event. We may take steps to ensure that there are not too many distractions on the response form.  We may limit how many fields we require, or how many questions we ask of people. These types of decisions can have a positive effect on the percentage of people that do respond to our offer.

However, once someone clicks the Submit button, we can take a slightly different approach. Many times, we may be tempted to simply put up a “Thank You” message and call it good. If so, there is a chance that we are losing out on an opportunity to capitalize on an interested audience.

If we only say “Thank you”, then we have created a dead end. We may have accomplished our specific goal, but we are pretty much guaranteeing that they are going to close the browser or go visit another website. However, by using that Thank You page as a way to further communicate and engage the responder, we may find greater success.

Here are a few possible ideas for how to “extend” a user’s experience with a landing page:

  • Put a link to your corporate website, and a compelling reason to visit it
  • Embed a YouTube video that is associated with your company
  • Link to your social media sites  (add the social badge, or simply promote one of them with a big logo and reason to click: “‘Like’ our Facebook page”)
  • Encourage people to share what they just did on their social media pages (i.e. “Tweet This: I just RSVP’d for ABC Company’s Open House on the 23rd”)
  • Invite them to subscribe to your newsletter
  • Are you selling something? Put a link to it.
  • Deliver a personalized experience — based on how they responded, display a custom message  (in the form of text, pictures, or video)

These are just a few possible ideas.

Sure, not everyone will click on the links that we provide on our Thank You pages. But we will never regret putting forth an effort to extend someone’s engagement with our brand.

(If you’ve had success with extending your landing pages, please feel free to leave a comment on this post.)

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Integrating QR Codes with Personalized URLs

Integrating QR Codes and Personalized URLs
QR codes offer a number of benefits for marketers. One of the most important benefit is the ability to tie together the print, mobile and web channels to increase the response rates on multichannel marketing efforts.

Since QR codes make it easy for people to jump from print to the web, this intelligent tool can add to the success of your personalized URL (PURL) campaigns, too.

QR codes have the ability to lower the barriers often surrounding customer response which, in turn, leads to an increase in overall campaign response rate.

Here are several benefits that can be easily achieved by coupling QR codes with PURLs to boost the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns:

Providing one-to-one communication
PURLs can be embedded right into QR codes, so when a customer or prospect scans the code,  they are taken directly to their personalized landing page.

Once a recipient is at that personalized page, you have the opportunity to engage with them and have a one-on-one dialogue.

Making it easy to respond
QR codes make PURLs portable. They allow the recipient to access each individual PURL without the need to sit in front of a computer.

Because people are on the go, and many carry their phones with them at all times, this portability is ideal in increasing the response rate.

Additionally, QR codes eliminate the need for a recipient to type what may be a rather lengthy PURL into their web browser.

By simply pressing one button on their smartphone, your prospect or customer is automatically directed to their own personalized website. This eliminates the chance of typos and decreases the amount of effort required by the recipient to access the information.

Tracking and measuring
Every marketer knows there is nothing more important than being able to measure the success of a campaign.

PURLs provide the ability to track which recipients visit their personalized page and, depending on the level of the PURL, gather additional contact information about each individual.

Similarly, various software programs have been developed that will also record the amount of scans per day, what time those scans took place, the location of the scans, and the type of device being used to scan the code.

Together, QR codes and PURLs can provide a more complete picture of which recipients express interest and which leads are the hottest.

QR codes will only enhance the value PURLs already bring to campaigns, becoming a logical extension of the PURLs you may already be implementing. Use them to fill the gap that other cross-marketing tools cannot.

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8 Ways to Use Variable Data

Are you using your customer data to the best of your ability?  Are you not satisfied with your return on investment for all of your direct mail marketing efforts?  Utilizing variable data may be your answer to these frustrations.

By using this particular service, it will help you create more customized marketing campaigns for your customers depending on what information you have about them.  By creating and delivering more customized and personal messages to your audience, you can be sure to see an increase in your marketing response rates!

Here are some of the ways variable data can add more value to your marketing campaigns:

  1. Create personalized messages by using your customer’s name and company in your online and offline marketing campaigns.
  2. Add coupon codes for specific services and promotions.
  3. Use it for the numbering sections for invoices, and cross-promote related products if applicable.
  4. Take advantage of their order history to promote related products to them at a later date.
  5. Utilize their address or location for geographical promotions if you have more than one store.
  6. Add a personalized URL to track who went to the correlating landing page.
  7. Graphics can be different depending on what types of clients you are sending your promotion to.
  8. Just like graphics, text can also be adjusted to help your marketing message relate to your audience more.

As you can see from these examples, you can understand why these tactics will help make your marketing efforts stand out more to your targeted audience.  If you have data that can help you make more specific marketing messages to your audience, take full advantage of it!

If you would like to learn more about how you can start incorporating variable data in your marketing campaigns, give us a call!

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Cross-Selling in Your Marketing Campaigns

There are very few marketers out in the world that will confess to having “enough time”.

Marketing departments are typically full of ideas and excitement – but they face the same clock as the rest of the world.

Their file cabinet may have marketing strategy documents… their whiteboard full of plans and action items…. and their desks may be covered in sketches.

However, the best intentions in the world do not always mean those projects will see the light of the day. Thus, when you do get a project done, you need to capitalize. Take full advantage of the content that you are pushing to the world.

For example, you may want to launch a campaign that promotes your eNewsletter while getting insights from your customers.  One strategy you can use to accomplish this is by using a landing page that features a quiz.

Respondents can be entered to win a prize after they submit their quiz answers and contact information, but can also be asked if they’d like to subscribe to your eNewsletter.

Yes, there are other ideas for campaigns that would specifically drive newsletter subscriptions. But here, you can take advantage of a campaign that did see the light of the day, and use it to help drive eNewsletter subscriptions.

The bottom line is, there are many ways you can cross-sell and promote your various services through marketing campaigns.  Why waste the opportunity?  Use your existing efforts and realign them to also incorporate different sales targets.

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Effectively Use Print-to-Web

Switching your marketing strategy from print advertising to digital platforms, known as print-to-web, is not an easy task. Business owners benefit from cutting mailing expenses and upgrade to modern technology standards. Although a complicated process, transitioning to digital publishing is a step towards success, if executed properly. Here is how to use print-to-web strategies effectively.

Start with PDF Magazines

For new businesses, small companies, or establishments new to digital marketing, PDF magazines are a budget-friendly and simple way to start. This form of digital literature allows publishers to keep the same print format but offer a convenient option for those on the go. PDF magazines are easy to create and cost much less compared to printing physical copies but offer few features.

Ease into Flip-Books

A “flip-book” is similar to PDF magazines but give readers more features. Also known as digital magazines, there are different formats available. These online magazines allow readers to search for content, zoom in and out, and advanced features such as bookmarks. Flip-books keep the traditional book format allowing them to view and turn pages exactly as they would with a real magazine.

Understand the Age of Blogging

When the print presence of a business begins to lower or simply does not exist, blogging is the best solution for most types of publications. Blogs are not only cost-effective but they are far more popular now than decades ago. A successful blogging strategy is more effective than most print methods and is easy to distribute. Blog subscribers receive email updates and commonly follow the company’s RSS feed.

Print-to-web is a vital marketing strategy to succeed in business today. More consumers are looking online for products and services without considering a magazine or catalog. Learn more about print-to-web strategies that work for every industry.

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Can YouTube Actually Attract Attention to Your Business?

One of the most important things for any print shop owner to focus on is their marketing strategy.  It’s critical to keep costs low while attracting attention of a variety of people.  For this reason, many small business owners have started posting videos on YouTube.

 

While posting on Your Tube is free, it can be difficult actually getting potential customers to click on a video.  With millions of available videos, it’s important to make your print shop’s video stand out.  Simply posting a thirty second commercial about your services will probably get a few views from loyal customers, but it won’t do much to attract new business.  Fortunately, there are two strategies that are proven methods of attracting a lot of views.

 

Funny and unusual videos are among the most popular things that people look on YouTube for.  Make a person laugh, and they’ll probably share the video with their friends and family.  Since most print shops don’t employ a team of comedy writers, however, a funny, scripted mini-movie is typically out of the question.  Instead, consider posting funny outtakes from the shop, brief jokes, or collections of the funniest customer orders.  Of course, make sure you have those customers’ permission first.

 

A more useful type of video on YouTube is the how-to video.  While these rarely go viral and post large numbers of page views in a short amount of time, the best ones will generate a steady number of views everyday for years.  These videos help potential customers utilize your services.  For example, a video explaining what kind of drawings will look best on a t-shirt will be viewed by people who are working to put together artwork for a print shop.  Odds are, they’ll be looking for advice on which print shop to use, too.

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Applications of Direct Marketing

Direct marketing puts the customer and the business in direct contact with one another, therefore the term direct. The main benefit of using this form of marketing is that the results can be measured using hard data, such as through numbers or statistics. This allows marketers to understand if the applications they are using to engage customers are working. In terms of applications of direct marketing, there are several to mention.

Print Media

Years before there was Internet, print media ruled the world of direct marketing. Today it is still useful, albeit with less of an emphasis. Catalog distribution, fliers and promotional letters are three of the most common forms of direct marketing. Additionally, if your business publishes magazine or newspaper advertisements that encourage a response, such as a survey or coupon to be used in a store, this would be considered direct marketing.

Internet Methods

As email became a commonplace way to communicate, it joined the ranks of direct marketing applications. Often you will see web based forms asking users to submit their email address either for contest entries, a newsletter sign up, or to receive free material such as an eBook. This is another form of direct marketing as it allows businesses to create a database using the email addresses of web users. Blogs that promote interaction between customers are another form of direct marketing online. The website advertisements that encourage users to click to redirect to a business’s page allows marketers to track web users’ activities so they can measure the success rate of such ads.

Mobile Technology

One of the first direct marketing applications using the telephone was through telemarketing. Marketers continue to use this technique. However, the methods have changed from cold-calling to connecting with customers who call in to customer service agencies for specific needs, such as when signing up for a credit card or updating banking information via the telephone. Cell phones with their ability to text message provide businesses with another form of direct marketing. This application allows marketers to reach customers through their mobile devices as yet another means of connecting with potential customers. Often times a text will include a coupon or sales ad that will promote a business, while helping marketers track the users of this application of direct marketing.

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