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The Art of the Business Web Marketing Email List

As a business owner marketing your business, brand, product and/or service, you know that you need to reach out to targeted individuals on the web. This means that you must seek out and target your business web marketing materials towards those people who might find an interest in what you do. If yours is a company that manufactures wheelchairs, you will obviously want to market your materials to people who require the use of such equipment, or the families of people who do. What if you could gather an entire group of targeted individuals into one area so that you could market to them over and over? That is exactly that business web marketing list building is all about. If you can gather your own list of highly-targeted prospects and customers, your job becomes ten times easier. You no longer have to seek out like-minded individuals, you’ll have them right where you want them: on your subscriber list. Let’s take a look at the art of building a business web marketing email list and how to leverage that list for maximum return.

Email Platforms

You could manage a business web marketing list all on your own, but why when there are many platforms available to you that make the task easy? A few examples of email marketing platforms that are popular with the business to consumer and business to business Internet marketing crowd like include:

  • AWeber
  • GetResponse
  • Constant Contact
  • Mail Chimp

Each platform comes with its own features, price points and extras, but it really doesn’t matter which platform you choose. Each one, regardless if it’s paid or free, will allow you to:

  • Create an opt-in form that you can place on your website or blog
  • Import email addresses that you gather from other means
  • Pre-program email messages (autoresponders) to go out at specific times, such as a Thank You autoresponder that goes out the moment someone opts into your list
  • Test emails that will give you the data you need to improve your campaigns and conversions

These are just some of the features you will receive with most business web marketing email platforms. The more advanced the platform and the higher the cost of packages, the more features you’ll earn.

Email Marketing on the Web for Any Small Business

Once you have selected the ideal business web marketing email platform, you next need to set it up. Most platforms will allow you to tailor your emails so that they can look and feel anyway you wish. For right now, we will focus on plain text emails.

Opting-In

Find the area on the platform you chose that dedicated to form creation. Your opt-in form will go on your website or blog and will allow your subscribers to enter their personal information, usually a name and email address. Some marketers also like to gather phone numbers, especially if they are simultaneously running a mobile or SMS business web marketing campaign.

At any rate, you will want to create your opt-in form so that it matches your website exactly. The closer you get the colors and design of your site to match your opt-in form, the higher your conversions will be.

Free Offer

Most people hate to receive tons of emails. For that reason, most people are very apprehensive to give out their personal information, including their email address. Your job as a business web marketing expert is to entice the click.

Write a short report or get someone to write it for you explaining to your audience how to complete a task, solve one of their goals or anything else they might find useful. If your site provides tips for Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners, for instance, you might write a report titled, “Ten Ways to Avoid Submission that All BJJ Practitioners Should Know,” or something to that effect. Make sure your audience will be interested in the information and make sure the information found inside can’t be found elsewhere online.

If you do have to rehash information found online, put your own spin on it and make it as unique and as valuable as possible for your audience.

Get Creative with Your Business Web Marketing

Once your opt-in form is completed, start sending targeted traffic to the page that is hosting the form, or to multiple pages if you happen to be testing your form. Write articles, spread the news on social networks, blog about your subject and toss in a call-to-action mentioning your free offer, and engage in any traffic-building that will help you build your list with targeted prospects.

Don’t just gather email addresses and contact information from your opt-in list, however. The business of marketing requires you to think outside of the box. Every time you do business with a customer, ask for an email address. Host a local event and place a fish bowl near the entrance where participants can drop in their business cards or come up with your own ideas.

You Have a Business Web Marketing List: Now What?

Once you start building a list, you will want to populate your business web marketing email platform with autoresponders to go out at specific times.

The Business of Marketing With Email: Crafting the Autoresponder

Your first autoresponder should go out when your subscribers opt-in. Most platforms have pre-programmed messages that go out when the subscriber first hits submit after entering their info and then again when they finally confirm their email thanking them for subscribing. You can customize these if you want to and it is recommended that you do.

When crafting business web marketing autoresponders, try to be conversational, edgy, catchy and informative. The rule of autoresponders is no fluff or boring material. People are too busy and their attention spans far too short to put up with lengthy autoresponders that don’t say anything.

The following autoresponder schedule should work for any business to customer or business to business Internet marketing campaign.

  • Autoresponder 1: Please confirm your email address.
  • Autoresponder 2: Thank you for subscribing. You will also want to explain to your subscribers that you will never spam them, trade or sell their personal information or abuse their info in any way. You will also want to explain to your subscribers that you will be sending emails daily, weekly, monthly or whatever schedule you plan to keep. Let your subscribers know what to expect and they’ll remain your subscribers for far longer.
  • Autoresponder 3-8: Take your subscribers through a five-part e-course. Really, you’re just pre-programming five tips, one in each email. Let your subscribers know that they are getting something special and that your tips cannot be found anywhere else. Do not sell during the five part e-course. This is merely for information, to help your subscribers reach their goals and it also positions you as the expert in your field.
  • Autoresponder 9-10: This is when you will want to recommend that product you’ve been dying to sell. It could be your own or an affiliate product. Now that you’ve positioned yourself as the go-to person in your field, let them know that the product or service is one-of-a-kind and it will help them reach their goals. Obviously the product or service had better be good and worth the money if you hope to retain your business web marketing list subscribers.

From then on, you should alternate between selling and tip-giving. Always give more advice, help, tips, updates, news and other relevant information more than you sell. Do not annoy your list subscribers or they will unsubscribe and bail on you.

The business of marketing with email lists isn’t difficult, but it does take patience and know-how. Once you establish yourself as the leader in your niche, your subscribers will be proud to be subscribed and they’ll follow any links you provide as they strive to reach their goals.

If you are selling your own product or service or you’re an affiliate marketer selling someone else’s products or services, an email list is always the way to go.

Explaining Customer Communications Management Technology For Marketing Communications Professionals

Customer Communications Management is a term highlighted by research companies such as Gartner Group, Forrester Research and Madison Advisors to define a convergent set of Information Technology solutions that together provide marketing communication professionals the ability to advance the way that they communicate with their customers.

Advocates of Customer Communications Management and its definition include Gartner Group, Forrester Research and Madison Advisors as well as a host of vendor organisations such as Pitney Bowes Group 1 Software, HP Exstream Software, Thunderhead, Xenos and EMC Document Sciences.

Initial Customer Communications Management concepts were focused upon the utilisation of company transactional documents. These documents such as bank statements, statement of account, invoices and other customer transactional documents were viewed as an ideal location in which to promote company products to customers.

The rationale behind this was cited in analyst research by Info Trends that, “transactional documents are opened and read by more than 90% of consumers. Because the average consumer is bombarded with advertising, e-mail, direct mail and other forms of solicitation each day, TransPromo can help you cut through the clutter and stand out.”

Not only are transactional documents more likely to be opened and observed than other types of document, they are also more likely to be studied for longer than say a direct mail piece. Thus, a company has an opportunity to communicate and promote its message to the customer.

The technology that supports customer communications management also allows sophistication in the content of the messages. Customer communications management technology may consist of the following components (of which you’ll find plenty of information on this site):

1. Data Extraction, Transform & Load software.
2. Data Management, Analysis and location intelligence software.
3. Data Hygiene database software.
4. Document composition software.
5. Electronic document archive software and perhaps payment processing functionality.
6. Print Stream Engineering / Post Processing Software.
7. Mailing compliance database software.
8. Printer Management Software.
9. High and medium volume production printers.
10. Envelope inserter machines such as those manufactured by Kern, Bowe or Pitney Bowes.
11. Email Marketing Software.
12. SMS Communication Software.
13. Mobile Media based content distribution software.
14. Entering the frame more recently social media distribution software.
15. Document Production Reporting Software

There are a number of key factors concerning the way in which the software assists the marketing communications professional.

The data extraction software presents marketers and business with an opportunity to combine data from multiple systems to enable a customer analysis. Through this customer analysis process it is possible for marketers to evaluate the marketing mix and position individual products to the customer in respect of relevance to the customer or the results of purchase propensity model.

The end result of this process will be the creation of a data model, data acquisition and decision rules that enable a document composition engine to follow its own set of document application rules to construct individual documents on the basis of data items contained within an individuals data record.

Thus the concept of one-to-one marketing is born.

It is theoretically possible at least that for a run of 100,000 statements, no statement will contain the same set of offers. Thus, clothing for women would not be marketed to men whilst ‘male gadgets’ would not be marketed to women.

But Customer Communications Management is not just about making offers to customers. It also provides companies with the opportunity to improve the clarity of their communications. Rather than producing line driven data in which it is difficult for a customer to extrapolate trends and a deepening of understanding in respect of his or her relationship with the supplying company, Customer Communications Management provides the opportunity for a company to deliver visual analysis through clear graphics and highlighted content.

The Document Composition engine is responsible for interpreting data and following a set of rules to create a set of documents that can either be printed or distributed electronically. The Document Composition engine usually produces either a print stream or, XML data.

Print streams are languages that printers use to instruct the print process. They are known as PDL’s or Page Description Language. Common print stream types include AFP, Xerox Metacode, VIPP, PCL and Postscript. There are numerous others but, in production printing environments these are probably the most common.

Sometimes the Document Composition Engine will output XML. The advantage of XML is that it may be repurposed either to print or to various electronic formats. Thus, XML provides a standard of interoperability between various computer software systems.

As documents move from the virtual data environment into becoming something physical, the may first need post processing. Post processing can be utilised to prepare a print job for production and distribution. This may include tasks such as the application of barcodes to deliver individual mail piece instructions to the inserters and to vary these in terms of the actual inserter being used. For example, one manufacturer’s inserter may require different barcode instructions to complete the same task than another.

Post processing does not only cover production preparation. One of the key cost considerations in Customer Communications Management is the cost of mailing. Various postal operators throughout the world offer discount schemes if a volume mail producer pre-sorts mail before despatch. As this process saves the postal operator considerable effort and cost, a discount is passed to the mail producer. Where mailing volumes are high, this discount figure can be significant to the mail producer where for example the Royal Mail in the UK will offer 18% discount to customers who pre-sort their mail into 120 ‘pots’.

Post processing may not suit all mail sortation needs however and for organisations who produce many smaller jobs, a Mail Sortation machine, situated as the very last element of the production process may be more suitable. Many smaller jobs can be aggregated through the day and then bundled together for a physical mail sortation process.

Sometimes, Post Processing may be an integral part of the document composition process and this may be more efficient from a production point of view because rather than creating a two step document creation and processing process, it can be delivered in a single step and as part of the major document application. This may save production time.

Print Management software controls the routing and distribution of print jobs to either a single production printer or a fleet of production printers. Print management software does not just provide routing as a benefit though, it also provides a mechanism for assured delivery (ensuring that all pages get printed) through communication and feedback from print devices and also provides management information that is useful for Document Production Managers.

Production printers in themselves have been a key driver in the development of Customer Communications Management as a concept. The advent of high speed, 90 page per minute and faster economic colour production printers in recent years has driven the usefulness and power of Customer Communications Management meaning that a company can produce ‘print shop’ quality documents ‘on the fly’ utilising data that may be infinitely variable as in one-to-one customer communications documents.

The final step of the process and the final major utiliser of data derived upstream in the inserting / mail finishing process. This is where paper documents are combined with envelopes and sealed. The inserter uses camera technology to read a barcode that provides a Piece ID, often combined with a data file produced by either the document composition application or the post processing engine.

By obtaining the Piece ID and performing a data file look-up, the inserter is able to determine factors such as the number of pages for a particular mail piece, whether any additional physical inserts are required (such as leaflets)and whether or not a piece should be out sorted for special human handling.

Thus the inserter is able to determine what should go in each envelope. Through further downstream cameras and sensors, it is also able to determine the integrity of a particular piece.

But this is not where Customer communications management ends. The provision of a document archive means that after a document has been created by the document composition engine, it can be made available to a company call centre or website. Call centre users benefit from being able to engage a customer by seeing the document that the customer has in his hand. This saves money in call centres speeding up call centre client query resolution times and meaning that call centres can handle more customers with fewer staff.

The delivery of documents via electronic channels is also seen as favourable, giving consumers a choice of document receipt method that suits their lifestyles. Combined with electronic payment, this may accelerate cash collection and thus improve a company’s cash flow position.

Relevance of communication is seen as key in overcrowded, competitive markets where service differentiation can be difficult. Documents that add value to the customer relationship add to differentiation and for many service oriented businesses and be a major factor in improving customer retention and acquisition.

Chief Marketing Officers are adopting Customer Communications Management because it heralds a world of new opportunity and a new way in which to develop customer relationships.

X-Ray Vision For Web Marketing

Seeing what others miss
How many small business owners really have an accurate description of their web market?

The reason this question comes up is because the vast majority of business web sites do not even speak to their market. In fact, the only people the web site speaks to are company people such as owners and managers.

We can all see the company clearly in any business design, but our market is not interested in our company. They have their problems and they have no need, right now, to know what wonderful people make up this business web site.

If our market cannot see how the web site is trying to help them then help is not there. If our intention is to build a relationship with our market then the help we offer needs to be the first thing our market sees. They love this and they want this and it is the best part of our marketing.

How do small business designs block their own market?
A good analogy is found when we meet someone that only talks about themselves. We get bored instantly when we realize they have nothing of interest to offer us.

I remember growing up as a young kid and with friends we would sometimes run into this older character that bragged about his rich uncle that had a Cadillac a block long and he had to take it to the airport to turn it around.

We weren’t fooled but we got a good laugh. At least he was entertaining even if he wasn’t helpful. And after the second time there was nothing new and we got bored by his bragging because this guy didn’t care who he talked to as he just kept telling the same stories.

Isn’t this just like a typical small business web site?
Not once on the page is there any recognition of who the web market is. Not once does the web site mention a problem their market experiences and the causes for the problem. Not once is there a sense that the web site cares about the market and wants to serve that market.

No, all that the web site shows is that the only interest is in selling us something whether we need it or not. That’s their story being told over and over.

The bottom line about customer relations
As small business owners we get in our own way and totally block any communication with our own market when we focus on our product or service. Nobody is interested in us talking about ourselves and what we have to sell.

Read any business home page and it tells you about the company and why you should be impressed with the company, but you cannot find a clue as to the market. Not even with X-ray vision can you find who the market is.

Our market wants to know how we can solve their problems and we totally ignore the issue while we talk about product features and benefits. We actually think that a product description is real content – but no one cares about our product description, in fact, no one even cares about our product until they know it really has a solution to their biggest problem.

How does it feel?
How does it feel when someone ignores you?
How does it feel when someone asks you to buy?
How does it feel when someone asks us how they can help?

The last of those 3 questions is what attracts us the most. It captures our interest and our curiosity. It is just like getting a free gift because that is what it is, and we are going to benefit by learning something we never knew before.

How did we get here in the first place?
How did we come to build such poor marketing web sites? We got here by listening to web designers instead of thinking with a business mind. Web designers paid a lot of attention to us and our business and it all felt good and so we thought we were on the right track. The end result is that our web site pays a lot of attention to our business and zero to our web market.

Lesson learned
We cannot let our web designer be the one to design our web site. All we want our designer for is to do the technical aspects of building a web site. It is our job as small business owners to figure out what our web market wants and how to serve them best.

Okay, so you want ideas on how to display your helpful information and a web designer could help if they forgot all about their trendy design packages. It is going to take something different in web design to put your helpful information first, but in bite size chunks.

Navigation for information is going to take some thinking. Hypertext lists may work. Paragraph intro with hide and click drop down information may work. Hover text with slide in info may work. The real job of a web designer is to help you find and use the best means of providing information to your market.

Seeing your market
I challenge you to go look at your home page, or any other business, and see if you can figure out who the market is. Almost all small business web sites fail to identify their market and you can’t build a relationship by saying, “Hey you, look at what we have!” But you might sell if your web site said, “Hey farmer Jones, would you like a fence post that lasts 100 years?”

How do you get X-Ray eyes?
To acquire x-ray eyes you just need to look inward, that’s where you find all your insight. It’s not difficult at all and if you’ve ever been caught daydreaming then you are using insight.

We need to pretend that we are the market. We are the homeowner with a leaky pipe, or the guy with a hole in his shoe. Whatever we sell we need to be that market and wrap ourselves up in the problem that this market has. If we don’t feel the pain then we can’t talk about it, and we want to talk about that pain and how we are going to solve the problem that creates the pain.

When we then put our eyes back on our own web site we can see through the filler we thought was real web content. We can see as our market sees and we will find lots of things in need of change.

Using logic and foresight
Analysis and logic can confirm, or it can contradict the feelings and insight you have about your market. I recommend using insight and if logic doesn’t back it up then toss out the logic.

Why toss out the logic?
The web does not work with factual data like demographics. Instead, web marketing works best with psycho-graphics where beliefs, habits, Likes & dislikes, and shared values play a big role in defining a market. These are intangible and emotional values that are difficult to back up with logic.

We need to go with our emotions and intuition because they are the same tools we use when developing social skills, and our web site is sorely lacking in social skills.

Before we even think about connecting with social networks we need our web site to express its own social attitudes.