After you've put in the work to create a great website, store, or blog, the next step is to build a great email list. An email list can increase traffic to your site by attracting new visitors, creating a regular audience, and encouraging repeat customers. Data shows the importance of email lists for both sites and small businesses: In 2014, segmented and targeted emails generated 58% of all revenue, according to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA).
In addition, some 72% of consumers say they prefer communication with companies to happen via email, according to Marketing Sherpa.
While it's tempting to focus on increasing the quantity of subscribers to your email list, the real goal is to focus on attracting high quality subscribers who are dedicated to your site.
“Lists with a few hundred dedicated customers can outperform lists of 10,000 or more generic 'freebie seekers' when you focus on building relationships instead of counting sales," according to Kissmetrics.
So what's the best way to build an email list that attracts the right kind of customers to your site? Check out the tips below for how to turn your visitors into email subscribers and build a high quality email list.
Offer Great Content
The first step to building a valuable email list is to let visitors to your site know how they will benefit by signing up. Will you send them a newsletter or links to new blog postings? Will you notify them of upcoming sales? Will you offer sneak previews of new products? Use a short tagline above your email signup box to let readers know about the benefits of subscribing.
If you're going to send a newsletter, make sure you have compelling and buzzworthy content that your subscribers will want to both read and share (a great way to gain new visitors to your site).
When creating content, think about what's important to your audience. If you sell hiking gear, you could review popular trails or provide safety tips. If you sell lawn furniture, you could offer tips for attracting wildlife to your backyard. You can also build brand loyalty by sharing behind-the-scenes stories about your site or business, including ways that you give back to the community.
Whatever content you offer, be consistent about posting, and let subscribers know up front when and how often they can expect to receive emails.
Also be sure to make the unsubscribe button clearly visible in your emails to ensure that your audience is always engaged in a positive with way with your content and your site.
Sales, discounts, freebies and coupons are all great ways to encourage visitors to sign up for emails. But be careful not to make this the main reason for signing up, or you'll end up with an audience more interested in reaping rewards than building relationships.
“It's not worth the extra subscribers because they won't bring you any value in the long run. They'll actually end up costing you time and money," according to Inc. Magazine.
Consider offering a one-time incentive for subscribing to your email list. Then, keep your audience engaged by offering quality content that enables them to make a real connection with your site or business. You could also offer a reward for subscribers who share content or refer new visitors to your site.
It's important to remember that not all incentives are monetary. You can provide exclusive access to infographics, e-books and whitepapers that benefit your audience. Sharing information and expertise is a great way to provide additional benefits for your subscribers.
You can also instantly track your email performance to see how many people opened your email so that you can see which incentives work best with your audience.
Keep It Simple
A big part of building a successful email list is how you ask. Start by making your email opt-in box easy to find on your site, advises Entrepreneur Magazine.
“A well-designed website provides visitors with ample opt-in opportunities through the placement of email opt-in boxes located strategically throughout each page," the magazine reports.
Customer convenience is key, so be sure to provide an opt-in box on every page of your site, store, or blog. Make sure you also have an opt-in box on your home page for visitors who don't venture further into your site.
To ensure that opt-in up boxes don't interfere with other content on your site, place them at the top or bottom of the page, or in the sidebar, so you don't disrupt visitors' engagement with your site.
Another way to encourage more email signups is make it simple to sign up. Ask only for essential information — an email address and possibly a first name — to keep from scaring off visitors who are showing an interest in your site.
Today, businesses have more ways -- and places -- than ever to market themselves. But deciding on a marketing method, particularly when you are a small or even a mid-sized business with a small budget and limited resources, can be difficult. While social media marketing is generally free, it can be time-consuming; and the same goes for blogging. But traditional print advertising, as well as digital advertising, can be expensive.
So which marketing channels are best for SMBs? Dozens of small business owners and marketing professionals share the following list of top marketing strategies for SMBs.
One of the best marketing strategies for a small business is blogging. By providing your prospects and clients with informative, non-salesy content that you can house on your blog, promote socially and offer to other networks to supplement their strategy, you and your team can quickly establish yourselves as experts in a desired field.
It can also positively impact your SEO. By blogging at least twice a week, you significantly increase your website's ability to be found on search engines. The more you blog, the more traffic your site will get from Google, Yahoo and Bing because you are adding fresh content to your site [assuming your blog resides on your company website], and if each of your blog posts includes a call to action, you might even generate some leads from your blog.
Business owners and managers should also consider guest blogging. Guest blogging is one of the best marketing tools ever found. By contributing to relevant blogs with useful content, you can expand your reach and show off your knowledge. Moreover, you can typically link to your website via your author bio, making it easy for people to visit your site.
2. Leverage social media.
If your small business isn't using social media, it's time to start. Social media produces almost double the marketing leads of trade shows, telemarketing or direct mail.
Because social media can be (or seem) overwhelming, choose one social media platform that your customers, prospects, and industry leaders engage with the most -- be it Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, -- and start building a presence there. Once you've set up an account, start connecting sharing your original content, joining discussions and engaging with the community. Keep your social efforts frequent, but above all, relevant and helpful to your audience.
3. Create a Facebook business page and use Facebook advertising.
Facebook is one of the most important marketing tools for any business to use, especially a small business.
Americans spend one out of every seven minutes on social media, providing a huge opportunity for small business owners to build a relationship with fans by sharing relevant content and interacting by commenting and liking fans' comments. The more a user interacts with a page, the more likely their friends are to see it, increasing awareness.Also consider Facebook advertising.
A local restaurant, for instance, can promote just to the zip codes where it draws from. It can even target specific age groups and sex. Best of all, you can target those customers during the time that they are most likely to buy; for instance, you can display your ads just before and during the lunch and dinner hours. And if your Facebook campaign isn't getting the desired results, there's no long-term commitment. You can cancel at any time.
4. Post to Pinterest and Instagram.
If you are selling a highly visual product or service, say you are in the bridal or food business, you should be regularly posting images on Pinterest and/or Instagram. Posting is free and both platforms have large followings, particularly among women.
You can drive major traffic to your website via Pinterest, and no platform uses hashtags to build audiences like Instagram.
For goods and services specifically targeting women ages 18 to 65, [we] recommend companies utilize Pinterest. Since women are inherently more visual than men when it comes to shopping online -- it's not just a cliché -- a picture really does speak 1000 words. and for every dollar a female consumer spends on our clients' products and services they find on Facebook, the same shopper will spend $3 on the same product or service on Pinterest.
5. Leverage email marketing and email reminders.
Email marketing is great for engaging customers, but you're really limiting its potential if you keep it in a silo. So be sure to integrate your email marketing campaigns with your other marketing campaigns for maximum impact and vice versa. For example, if you're running a Facebook contest, increase the number of people participating by notifying your email subscriber list of engaged customers. If you're running a time-limited deal or special offer, send a reminder via email.
6. Try PPC (Pay-per-Click) advertising/Google AdWords.
SMBs need to be as targeted with their marketing efforts and dollars as possible, especially if their product/service is location specific -- and PPC ads are one way to do so.
PPC ads can be a cost efficient way to dip your toe into the online marketing world and use your marketing dollars to specifically target the regions and terms that relate most to your business. Some media/marketing companies even offer automated bidding solutions that allow the SMB PPC novice to gain the same level of targeting and exposure without the heavy lifting.
An efficient Google AdWords campaign, where you are sure you know how the platform works, can be a huge quarry of leads for small businesses. Start with uber-targeted keywords, paying close attention to keyword match types, negative keywords and search query results to eliminate irrelevant visitors, like people looking for jobs.
Then, enable some form of conversion tracking so you know that new visitors are scoping out your business and not immediately bouncing. Scaling up the spend is the easy part. Making sure you aren't wasting money on irrelevant clicks is where the biggest AdWords challenge lies.
7. Conduct webinars.
Use webinars to build your list and generate leads. Webcast experts say some webinars see a 70 percent rebound effect comprising those who viewed the live broadcast as well as new individuals. Webinars are also more interactive and keep the attention of leads or potential clients.
Just make sure your webinar is content rich, with relevant content (that is content relevant to the target audience), well organized and hosted by someone with experience conducting or running a webinar.
8. Don't forget about press releases.
Competition for visibility is intense. Press releases help small and midsize businesses amplify their content across hundreds of global and local channels, allowing them to achieve the same exposure as much larger brands.
By including press releases as part of an integrated marketing strategy, small businesses are able to get their content directly in front of consumers and connect with journalists and bloggers -- interactions that can result in lasting impressions.
In addition, the cost of posting a press release via a wire service is relatively inexpensive, typically $200 to $300, with releases being picked up by the major search engines and thousands of websites. And small businesses have a number of wire services to choose from.
Hacking. it’s not just for Anonymous and the U.S. government anymore.
Cyber-crime is ever-encroaching and can happen to anyone. Including you and your business. In fact, it’s cost the global economy more than $400 billion, and it’s increasingly hurting smaller operations.
The problem goes far beyond the leaking of sensitive emails and sexy selfies. Targeted attacks against small businesses nearly doubled in 2013. And of the one in five that experience a cyber attack annually, 60% will close their doors within six months as a result..
But not you. Protect your biz.
1. Be password-savvy. If your password is still “Password123,” it’s time to get serious. Create unique codes for each of your accounts, and make sure they’re at least 8 characters long (with a few special ones thrown in). Liam is the King when it comes to creating complicated passwords. A password like #3fhd_e82^Reydr20! is what I'm talking about. Just make sure you have it written down SOMEWHERE.
2. Encrypt emails and valuable information. If a hacker does breach your system, encryption makes it that much harder to get away with critical data.
3. Back up your data. Copying your key company data onto a cloud-based system, such as Dropbox or OneDrive, or a USB hard drive takes minutes, and will save you time and anxiety if your system is ever compromised.
I never knew how much of an impact Internet Marketing and SEO had on the design process of a website. Since working with Liam Quirk at River City e|Marketing and RCeM Designs, my whole design process has changed. Thinking like a marketer while designing a site is vital. If you're a web designer, you need to read this post. It'll help revolutionize your work.
Regardless of if you work at a full-service web company or as a freelance web designer, you will eventually have to work with internet marketers. Being that I work at River City e|Marketing, I have daily interaction with the design world (primarily the area I work in) and the internet marketing/SEO world (Liam's usual area - but don't put us in a box, we both do a lot of other stuff, lol!). This is not the norm. One thing I have noticed is that there is not a good connection with these two in the industry. I don't care if you're creating a new site, doing a redesign, or simply adding a page, it is important to have good communication with the marketing side of things (as well as marketing needs to have with the design side.)
Specifically between the designer and the marketer, there needs to be a strong understanding. The designer needs to focus on creating a site that is visually pleasing, while the marketer needs to give a clear understanding of the site goals. This will make it easier for the designer to create a site that accomplishes the overall client objectives and engages visitors.
Work Together From the Start
There is a myth that the marketing of a website doesn’t take place until after the site has been built. This is absolutely untrue. If you are working with an Internet Marketer/SEO, it is important to work together from the beginning to plan a strategy that will be inline with the clients goals. You can save yourself, time and the client, money, if everyone is on the same page.
Regardless of the client goals there are a number of things to discuss:
Content Development Strategy
It is important that when organizing the content structure that it is built for scalability. It may be that the client will want to add a new product or service down the road, if the site is built properly it will be easy to add the additional pages.
Also, during the initial keyword research and analysis, the marketing team should be gathering insights into what people are searching. This can help with creating the navigation and site structure because it can help identify different segments in the market. Keep in mind that every page has a chance to rank in the search engines, not just the homepage. With that in mind, SEOs are always looking for relevant pages that can be added to the site, so it can be optimized for a specific theme.
For news pages or blogs that consistently create new content, it is essential to make as easy as possible for users to be able to share the content via social sites. Add social media icons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Also make it easy for a user to sign up for their feed via RSS.
Being Able to Track Conversions
One thing to know about Internet Marketers is that we like to track everything. This is what helps us make data driven decisions on our marketing efforts. In order to properly track visitor and conversion data we need to make sure we have a few things setup properly in the back end. Download yourself a FREE trial of our web tracking package "Traffic Tracker Pro" today at www.TrafficTrackerPro.com. Try it out, we know you'll love it.
Landing Page Optimization
It’s important that if part of the marketing strategy is driving visitors to a targeted landing page through banner ads, or paid placement, that there are dedicated pages designed to convert. There are landing page elements that should be used in order to stimulate users to take action. (CTA - Call to Action)
Here are some things to think about when designing a landing page.
Much like fashion, web design is constantly changing with trends and fads coming and going. When it comes to designing a website that will make a professional impression, you will always do well to keep everything up to date and on trend. After all, when you go to an interview don’t you want to look your best?
If you answered “YES!” then here are some crucial web design tips to keep in mind:
1. Keep it clean and clutter-free!
The world around us has become quite cluttered and the web is no exception. Ads, banners, icons, badges, signs, pop-ups, buttons, and so on – sometimes it can all get a bit heavy. So why not give your site visitors a break from all the noise and clutter? Embracing things like flat design and white space can do wonders for your site visitor’s experience. Try to keep everything simplistic or even minimal with only your most important content spotlighted. Sometimes less really is more.
2. Do some web design recon!
If you’re reading this post, you’re already on the right path. But you can take your research a step further and start looking at websites with a specific purpose: to figure out what you like about them and what you don’t. Make some mental or actual notes on what you would like to emulate on your own site. Do you think a long scrolling page would work well with your site? Maybe you really admire someone else's approach to their contact page. It can be something as small as imitating a use of an arrow icon that points to an important message. Whatever it is you find appealing, think about how you can make it happen in your own website’s design scheme.
3. Put visual hierarchy to use!
Visual hierarchy, what’s that again? It’s a term that basically means our eyes pay attention to web space in a certain pattern – a pattern that can help you optimize important content on your site. For example, if you create a "SIGN UP NOW" button, you likely want as many people as possible to click it and follow-through with the sign-up process. Visual hierarchy tells us that the eyes move top to bottom, left to right. This means you’ll get the most eyes on your button in the top left corner of your site, and those eyes could very well mean more clicks. Remember, only put your most important content in these coveted spaces – if you put too much in one spot your visitor will be overwhelmed and you won’t get the result you’re aiming for.
4. Make your text easy to read!
Text is important. It’s there to provide information and answer questions even before they’ve been asked. With that said – don’t make your readers squint to read it. There are a few simple rules you can adhere to that will keep you and your text in the clear.
5. PLEASE, I'm Begging You, Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile Friendly!
What good is a professional-looking website if it’s not professional-looking on mobile devices? In today’s world, zilch. Despair not! The River City e|Marketing website designer platform comes fully equipped with an intuitive mobile editor and it’s ready to be used this to its full potential. Make changes that keep all of the above tips in mind and toggle between the editor and the preview version so you can see your changes put into action. After all, you don’t want to miss out on potential site visitors/users/members/subscribers/customers just because they’re on the subway, do you?
So how does whiteboard animation work? What is its "magic"?
At River City e|Marketing, we do A LOT of WhiteBoarding. One of the secrets of WhiteBoarding is the concept known to artists and illustrators as "viewer completion". Two dots and a curve are instantly seen as a smiling human face – despite the lack of detail. The viewer’s mind completes the image. :)
WhiteBoarding also stimulates viewer anticipation – it asks the audience to guess what is being drawn next. This continual anticipation creates surprise and rewards the brain with dopamine. No, really, it does!
The anticipation of images goes a long way to explaining the mesmerizing effect of whiteboard videos – why they create such enjoyment, learning, and longer engagement.
As their artwork is revealed, scribes demand your contribution and your curiosity.
Jurassic Park and the show WEEDS
WhiteBoarding is perfect for presenting difficult concepts to a general audience.
John Hammond, the bearded genius behind dinosaur resurrection in the movie "Jurassic Park", knew about the relationship between audio and visuals. Remember the scene where he explains how to extract DNA from an amber-preserved mosquito.
Although not a WhiteBoard video, the narrated animation is testament to the power of the audio and visuals working together. The presentation is straightforward enough for children to follow and yet communicates a mind-boggling idea.
Fast forward to the final season of Showtime’s comedy-drama "Weeds". How do you sum up your protagonist’s dramatic journey over the seven preceding seasons – in just a few seconds? The show used a whiteboard animation for the opening credits, depicting the entire series through WhiteBoarding!
Click here to see the WhiteBoard video for River City e|Marketing and when you're finished watching it, give us a call and ask how we can help you achieve success for your next project through WhiteBoarding! We look forward to your call!
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Wikipedia defines PODCASTING as: "a digital medium consisting of an episodic series of audio, video, radio, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and downloaded through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device. The word is a neologism and portmanteau derived from "broadcast" and "pod" from the success of the iPod, as audio podcasts are often listened to on portable media players."
Whew. That's a mouthful. I like to refer to it, simply, as Internet Broadcasting.
We're living in a golden age right now. You no longer have to go searching for content to listen to. You can sit down and create your own content. Your own show. You can create your own show! One of the things my team and I do is sit around and think about the kind of shows we would listen to and then, we just create them.
Maybe you'd want to do a show about relationships, how about one on finance? You can sit down with your friends, and create an atmosphere that people want to listen to and be a part of. Craft the show that you want to hear that doesn't exist out there and people will come around to it.
There are some people who are like, "Boooo, the internet! It'll never be effective for entertaining or teaching people like television is!" That's not true. People still look down on the online world, they really do. I know. It sounds crazy, but there are still people that look down on it, however, more and more people are watching said television not even on their computers but their phones and yet, still, there are people that would say, "Yeah, but that's WebTV..."
Folks, I'm here to tell you: Now is the time to stake your claim online! There's really no one out there that is really doing a podcast that I want to listen to. Maybe 3 off the top of my head. I'm telling you, in a few short years, everyone who's poo-pooing the internet are going to want to jump on board and it'll be too late for them. More and more people have computers and iPads than they do TV's now. Why would anyone poo-poo the internet? The internet and podcasting is one of the most effective ways of getting to people.
So, if you've always wanted to have a platform to entertain or teach, or preach, or discuss, or review, or give information and have never gotten the opportunity or the chance, you're an inch away from doing it. Don't let anyone tell you, "Oh, no one cares about that", or "well, you have to learn more", or whatever. Just start creating. Let your spirit express itself. Let it out. You have something to say and the technology is in your hands now.
Don't think you have to sound like someone else either and don't let people try and shave off everything original about you. I talk fast and have a New York accent, but that will appeal to somebody! Don't let society tell you that you have to do the same thing that everyone else is doing. Your individuality is plenty.
So, get a laptop, flip it open, jack in a mic and just start talking.
When I started edited, there was no such product like Adobe Premiere or Final Cut Pro. No, no. I was busy swabbing the deck-to-deck process, editing with a Sony RS-232 controller and 3/4" tape.
A lot has changed over the years. Can you say "digital"? When products like these hit, I started with Premiere, then switched to Final Cut Pro, currently, I'm working with Premiere again. Both have strong characteristics and both have weak traits. I hope this article helps you find your comfort zone...
Why Adobe Premiere?
Short and sweet, the creative suite Adobe developed has virtually every tool that a multimedia professional may need to make an incredible video. And, all the programs are integrated. Sure, prior versions were inferior to that of Premiere, and because of that, Adobe has to do some backtracking to regain their customer base. For shorter videos and things like commercials users find that Premiere cut does a better and quicker job without rendering fx and its ability to go back and forth between After Effects (video compositing software). You can’t select an edge which make it super mouse heavy and long projects seem to bog down the interface. Premiere’s bins also lack organization.
However. Premiere Pro is a multi-workstation program. Meaning, you can use it on a Mac or Windows which really opens up options for designers. Instead of using panels and windows for workspace like in Final Cut, Adobe uses dockable tabs that run across the different Adobe applications. For editing, Premiere uses track-based timeline structure with audio and video separated into tracks, on a timeline. For project and clip management, Pro creates a single self-contained data file for every project. This is nice because this file actually contains the link to all the media on your hard drive and the edited sequences created by the pro – YOU.
Why Final Cut Pro?
Final Cut Pro has led the ranks of video editing software for a long time. It’s only with the showing of Adobe’s new tool enhanced Premiere Pro that Final Cut Pro has a real competitor (other than Avid). Final Cut Pro surely has one thing that Adobe doesn’t – speed. It’s faster, smoother and offers a more pain free experience for the user. This isn’t to say that this is the only good feature though. Final Cut Pro has an awesome plugin market for little to no money, unlike Premiere Pro. Final Cut uses databases to track information but they’ve upped the ante. You can use ratings, keywords and smart collections to organize your media quickly. Lots of textual metadata, too. Unlike Premiere, Final Cut Pro divides its structure into Events (source) and Projects (edited). FCPXML is the only data format that Final Cut uses to interchange data with external applications. Premiere supports XML, EDL, OMF and some AAF.
In closing, I do believe that if Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere were ever in the ring together, Final Cut Pro would be the favorite (because FCP would have the slicker looking shorts) but AP would win due to technique and process (but not for eye candy)!
In essence, there is truly little difference between "traditional" animation and computer animation; the primary difference is in the tools used to create these animations, the cost and effort involved in the processes, and the quality of the final output.
Traditional animation is a very hands-on process; 2D animation is done by hand-drawing hundreds upon thousands of individual frames only to transfer them to clear plastic cels, hand-paint them, and then film them in sequence over a painted background image. This requires a team of artists, cleanup artists, painters, directors, background artists, and film/camera crews, along with the storyboard artists and script writers to work out the original concepts; for large-scale projects, the amount of time, labor, and equipment involved can be staggering.
Traditional 3D animation was less "3D" and more still-lifes of claymations done by use of stop-motion filming techniques; the true concept of 3D animation didn't really blossom until the use of computers in animation became more practical. Computer animation removes the need for many of the extra tools required to create an animation; all you need, in general, is a computer with enough system requirements to run the 2D or 3D software application of choice, and people capable of using that software.
Depending on the type of animation desired, sometimes the process can be wholly computerized; in other cases, such as in many 2D "cartoon" animations, the hand-penciling work is still necessary, before it is then scanned to the computer to be colored and sequenced digitally. The process is much less labor-intensive, and generally much cheaper; there is also a greater margin of error, because your digital files can allow you to undo any mistakes up to a certain number of steps.
The founder of River City e|Marketing. Liam is a marketing strategist, songwriter, and English Professor. In addition to giving Ted (of "Ted & Buster" fame) his sarcastic, confident voice, Liam also specializes in copy writing, business management, SEO, and building true mobile websites.
The man behind the pen (and stylus), Frank Sasso serves as web designer at RCeM Designs. Years ago, Frank worked as chief penciller for the character "Stimpy" from "The Ren & Stimpy Show". He also trained Disney animators for their work on "The Little Mermaid" and "Beauty and the Beast".