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4 Ways to Grow Your Prospect List

Online Marketing

One of the challenges of growing any business is to build a list of prospects. When you have a large email list, you have a wide audience of prospects who are interested in the products or services that you sell.

I recently attended Ruth Stern’s Ignite Your Ideal Practice Workshop and came away with a wealth of information about how to grow your business. Even though Ruth’s workshop was geared towards helping holistic practitioners, coaches and mental health therapists, the marketing principles she talked about apply to any business. Continue reading

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Gloria Rand’s Top 10 Blog Posts of 2010

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As 2010 comes to a close, I wanted to thank everyone who has been reading my blog this year, taking the time to comment and sharing my blog articles on Twitter and Facebook. I will work hard in 2011 to come up with new articles that will be informative, interesting and infinitely shareable! 🙂

In the meantime, I thought I’d share with you my Top 10 list of most popular blog articles for 2010.

Top Categories: Social Media & SEO

Just like last year, the most popular posts dealt with social media, followed by search engine optimization.  As you scan the list, you’ll notice many articles shared a common trait: they contained numbers in the title. I’ve written about this phenomenon before as an excellent way to get your blog noticed. The proof is in the stats. So, keep that in mind when you’re writing your own blog articles in 2011.

Facebook Leads Top 10 List

1. 10 Ways to Build Your Facebook Fan Base This article was the overall leader by a 3-1 margin.  No surprise, considering Facebook has been the hot topic this year among consumers and business owners alike. I suspect it will continue to be a popular topic for some time to come.

2. Keyword Tool is MIA – What Happened to Spacky.com? I wrote this article last January and reader interest suggests I wasn’t the only one who wondered what happened to this website. Spacky.com was a great keyword research tool because it included keywords from Google, Yahoo! and Bing.

3. 9 Tools for Capturing Social Media Metrics Business owners frequently complain that there’s no way to track the ROI from social media. But that’s not true, as this article showed. There are tools available.

4. Top 20 Press Release Distribution Sites – This was the most popular post of 2009 – and its continued popularity proves that companies still need cost-effective ways to promote their products and services online. This list of free online press release sites is a great resource.

5. 6 Places to Add Keywords to Your LinkedIn Profile To be an effective social networking tool, your LinkedIn profile should be searchable. This article showed readers where to put keywords for maximum results.

6. SEO Best Practices – Title Tags, Keywords & Inbound Links – This article contained a video of a presentation I gave on search engine optimization techniques and best practices to a networking group.

7. What is a QR Code and Why Should I Use One for My Business? QR codes continue to grow in popularity among marketers. This article gave some useful tips on how you can incorporate it into your business.

8. 7 Useful Facebook Apps for Business – Here’s another list-type article focusing on applications you can use on your Facebook business page.

9. 8 Core Elements of Successful Business Blogs – This is a recent article that struck a chord with readers. I’ll be focusing more on blogs in 2011, since I’m going to be speaking on the subject during a three-day social media, branding retreat in Orlando called unGeeked e’lite.

10. How to Add Video to Your Emails -Video marketing continues to surge in popularity, and this article offered some tips on how to incorporate video with your email marketing strategy.

If you have any suggestions for topics you’d like to learn more about, please comment below.

Happy New Year!

 

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3 Ways to Get More Clients for Your Business

[tweetmeme] One of the reasons why social media has become such a popular marketing tool for small businesses is that it is fairly inexpensive to use.
Notice I didn’t say free.

 

That is a common misconception. While it doesn’t cost any money to set up an account on Facebook or Twitter, for instance, you do have to spend time to make it work for you.  And time is money, after all.

So, if you are going to spend time on social media, it’s important to make it productive to generate a decent ROI.  Here are three ways to get more clients for your business that are sometimes overlooked in the rush to get on Facebook:

#1 – LinkedIn Answers

Demonstrate your expertise to your target audience on LinkedIn by answering questions related to your industry. The more questions you answer, the higher your profile becomes. And every time a questioner picks your answer as best, LinkedIn awards you a point towards becoming one of their “top experts.”  As you answer questions, people will check out your profile, so make sure you  set it up properly with the right keywords that describe your industry.

#2 – SCORE Answers

SCORE – the non-profit arm of the US Small Business Administration – has a similar feature on its website. Once you register as a member, you can search for questions to answer by industry, keyword, expertise, latest and most popular.  One of my Q&A sessions with a member resulted in that person signing up for my webinar!  Which brings me to #3….

#3 – Webinars / Workshops

For a more in-depth way to show your expertise, consider presenting a free webinar or workshop. Online services such as Go2Webinar usually offer a free trial, so it won’t cost you any money upfront to experiment. Prepare a powerpoint presentation and offer either a 30-minute or 60-minute webinar on a hot topic in your industry. Advertise it in your newsletters, email, and social media outlets. After the event, follow-up with the attendees to market your services, and maybe do a follow-up webinar with more info, but this time, charge a fee.

What all three of these strategies have in common is that they allow you to demonstrate that you are an expert in your field. When people see that, they are more willing to do business with you.

If you’ve tried any of these strategies, how have they worked for you?

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5 Rules for Successful Email Marketing to Moms

[tweetmeme]If mothers of young children are your target market, you can successfully reach this audience through email, in addition to social media. A new study from digital advertising agency Brunner has found that a substantial majority of moms with children 12 and under read their email and do respond to marketing offers.

Brunner’s research indicated that this group controls $4 billion in annual household spending. Practically all members of this demographic, nearly 96%, check email at least once a day. Eighty percent say they look forward to checking email, and 80% want to receive offers from preferred brands via email.

Too Much Email Can Spoil the Message

The study also found that 50% of mothers say they will unsubscribe from a permission-based email if it is not useful or if they are being inundated with emails. So here are five rules retailers should keep in mind to successfully engage this audience:

1. Don’t send emails every day. Brunner found that about 45% of respondents indicated they prefer to receive email correspondence from any one brand about once a week.

2. Use time-sensitive subject lines. The study found that nearly 50% of respondents said they tend to read emails with subject lines, such as “50% Off Today Only,” first.

3. Advertise special sales and promotions. Nearly 85% of respondents said they wanted to receive coupons, and approximately 78% said they preferred to receive information about sales and promotions.

4. Offer special coupons that require visiting the store in person to redeem. Nearly 73% indicated they might make a special trip to the store after receiving an email containing a coupon or promotion.

5. Offer coupons for new items. More than 63% said they print coupons for brands they use or want to try so they have it for their next trip to the store.

Social Media & Free Offers

Social media is another excellent way to reach mothers, particularly with offers for free items, coupons and promotions. According to a Retail Advertising and Marketing Association (RAMA) survey conducted by BIGresearch, women with children at home are more likely to use Facebook (60.3%), MySpace (42.4%) and Twitter (16.5%) than average adults (50.2%, 34.4%, 15.0%, respectively). Moreover, 15.3% maintain their own blog.

On a scale of one to five, when asked what types of promotions most influence their purchases, product samples in the store (3.8), product samples delivered to home (3.6), loyalty cards (3.5), and special displays (3.4) rank as moms’ favorites.

Chart: Email trends of mothers with young children

Email consumption by moms with children 12 and younger

Email trends of mothers with young children

Tags: Best & Worst Practices, Research, Women, Youth, Ad Targeting, Campaigns of Note, Creative Issues, Integrated/Cross-Media/Convergence, Direct Marketing, Email
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What’s ahead for 2010: Video Marketing

Are you using video to market your products or services? If not, you should seriously consider adding this tool to your marketing arsenal in 2010.

Twitter’s phenomenal growth may have been the big story of 2009, but the bigger story involves the continued surge in online video usage.

Online video viewing jumped 26 percent in the U.S. during October, compared to the same period a year ago, according to data from Nielsen.

The giants of the industry, YouTube and Hulu, continued to dominate in terms of individual views. But Facebook took the number two spot in terms of reach, with more than 31 million unique users compared with Hulu’s 13 million. However, Hulu streamed about 3 times as many videos during the month, at over 632 million.

As big as Hulu’s numbers seem, they are dwarfed in comparison to YouTube, which racked up a staggering 6.6 billion views by 106 million unique users. That’s three times the reach of Facebook.

So, how do you incorporate video into your business? One way is to add video to the e-newsletters you send out to your customers.  This can be tricky, since not all e-mail marketing solutions providers allow video.

Constant Contact, for instance, doesn’t allow you to embed videos in your e-mail, although they do allow you to include a graphic shot of the video with a hotlink to your actual video. (In the interests of full disclosure, in 2011, I became a Constant Contact partner, and generate revenue through an affiliate link.)

On the other hand, Benchmark Email does allow you to incorporate video in your e-mails, and will send them to a mirror page that allows the video to play even if the recipient’s e-mail service blocks the feature.

I recently received an email from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, touting their first-ever video newsletter.

The e-mail included a screen shot of the video, which linked to a landing page on their website, where the newsletter video lived. As a result, the e-mail not only attracted attention to the video, it helped increase overall traffic to their website. Pretty good strategy!

Another way to incorporate video into your marketing efforts is to post videos on social networking sites, such as Facebook. A new report from eMarketer.com suggests marketers worldwide will spend $605 million on Facebook versus $385 million on MySpace.

Debra Aho Williamson, eMarketer senior analyst and author of the new report, Social Network Ad Spending: 2010 Outlook, says “When companies budget for social media marketing in 2010 and beyond, a substantial portion of their expenses will go toward creating and maintaining a fan page, managing promotions or public relations outreach within a social network, and measuring the impact of a social network presence on brand health and sales.”

What are your plans for video next year?  If anyone has any unusual ideas, I’d love to hear about it and share it with my readers.

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E-Mail Marketing Paying Off for Small Businesses

It’s a no-brainer that small businesses should reduce expenses during a recession to help maintain profitability.

But which expenses?  If you think marketing should be cut back, you couldn’t be more wrong! Marketing should be stepped up during bad economic times, so a company will be well-positioned to take advantage of the economic recovery.

A new study by Hurwitz & Associates, reported in eMarketing.com, supports this theory as it relates to small businesses.  The
study found that two-thirds of small businesses that expected increased revenues had raised or planned to raise marketing spending.  That compares with just 32% to 36% of businesses with flat or declining revenues.

The study also found that small businesses are keeping marketing costs in check by switching to cheaper, web-based tools such as social media, e-mail newsletters and search. E-mail in particular, is likely to remain a vital force for marketing.

The decision that small businesses need to make is whether to outsource their online marketing needs to freelance copywriters, or handle the work in-house.  The DIY (do-it-yourself) instinct may be “cheaper,” from a strict-cost standpoint, but it may wind up costing a company more in the long run due to the time spent on blog-writing, e-mail marketing campaigns, and social network management.

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Look out Social Network Fans: The Spammers are Coming, the Spammers are Coming!

Just when you thought it was safe to Tweet and Facebook.  Don’t look now, but spam is starting to infiltrate your favorite social networks. Not satisfied with stuffing our email inboxes anymore, spammers are hopping on the social network bandwagon. And it’s not just unwanted marketing messages showing up, noooo.  It’s phishing and malicious malware.

If social networks don’t take action to increase their security and fight back, upstanding marketers may leave the social networks in the dust!

I’ve not surprised. Several times recently, I’ve finished reading an article or someone’s blog post on a LinkedIn group site, only to have a whole bunch of new windows start popping up all over my computer screen. I have to shut down my laptop to clear everything out.  It’s frustrating the heck out of me.

On the bright side, social networks and the federal government are starting to take action. MarketingVox recently noted that Facebook and MySpace are among the social networks stepping up their monitoring and prosecuting activities. And state attorneys general are also getting into the mix.  The article also warned social network members to be vigilant about putting too much personal information online.

I’d love to hear anyone else’s experience with social network spam. Maybe if we start voicing our complaints to the social networks, they will work harder to keep us safe.

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4 Tips for Starting a Business Ezine

In a previous blog post, I talked about the benefits of publishing an ezine for your business:

  • Creates a positive relationship with your customers
  • Provides an inexpensive advertising medium for your products/services
  • Drives traffic to your website and/or blog
  • Generates leads

Here are a few rules to remember when starting a business ezine:

1. Choose a delivery method. 

To avoid getting your email dumped into your customer’s spam folder, pick a reliable email marketing solution provider, such as Constant Contact or iContact. These companies offer several benefits to you including:

  • Tracking capabilities – reports allow you to see bounce rates, forwarded, delivered/undeliverable and sent emails, as well as conversions, click-throughs and more.
  • Design templates – a wide variety of styles and colors are available to suit many different industries, or you can import your own HTML page
  • Attachment abilities – you can add pictures, sound files, background images, and the ability to subscribe/unsubscribe from your ezine

2. Set a format and schedule. Be consistent.

Decide what types of information will be featured in the ezine, and how often you plan to mail it.  If this is a monthly ezine – send it the same time every month, so your readers can rely on it.  Also, try to keep the same categories each time, with a little variety here and there.   If you provide content your readers like, they will look forward to reading each new issue – wondering what new tidbit you’ll provide next.

3. Review other ezines in your industry. 

If you’re still stumped for ideas about what to include in your ezine, read ones that are published by other companies in your industry.  It should help you decide what to include, or leave out of your own product.

4. Keep the subject line relative to the content.

Don’t use your subject line to sell your company’s product or services. The subject line should indicate the ezine’s title, plus a few words describing one of the featured articles to attract interest. If your customer sees right away what the email is about, she’ll be more likely to open it. But if your subject line implies something else, there’s a greater chance the ezine will be deleted before it’s even opened.

If you have any other questions about writing an ezine, you can email gloria@gloriarand.com. I’ll be happy to help!

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Social Media Revolution

You may have seen this video already on YouTube, but I thought it contained some amazing statistics about social media that I wanted to share here too.  Read carefully!  I’m convinced that social media is here to stay, and businesses need to pay attention to leverage it for their success.