Signpost Local Marketing Blog

Part One: Getting Started with SMS Marketing

By now you’re probably sick of being reminded that SMS marketing has an engagement rate eight times greater than email marketing. But did you know that 43% of customers are more likely to make a purchase when mobile offers are part of a multi-channel campaign? With an opportunity to increase your bottom line, SMS marketing cannot be ignored.  And, given the number of people glued to their smartphones, it’s no wonder why this and other mobile marketing trends made it to our 2016 Local Marketing Trends Playbook.


As a business, it’s vital to be on potential customers’ radar when they’re considering starting your sms marketing campaignmaking a purchase. And as a marketer, it’s important to know and be where this audience is. For this reason many marketing experts have been touting the importance of developing a mobile strategy for the past few years. While this can seem intimidating for local businesses to implement, it doesn’t always require a massive commitment, such as developing an app. SMS marketing is a great entry point for businesses looking to diversify their messaging and conveniently access their customerbase through their preferred method.

Continue Reading: Find a Provider

Find a Provider

There are countless SMS service providers that can help you get the ball rolling. Many provide a frictionless signup process that puts the power completely in the hand of starting SMS marketing listscustomers, by prompting them to text a code or “Start” to a custom phone number. They are then prompted to confirm their desire to enroll, which will reinforce your commitment to their privacy and preferences. Signpost’s technology automates this entire process, so that you can seamlessly create, send and track SMS campaigns, without lifting a finger.

Grow your lists

Once your business supports SMS messaging, it’s never too soon to start building your subscription list. Approach promoting signups as you might have for your email marketing list. If you have a brick and mortar location or an office, be sure to include clear signage urging customers to sign up. You can also include a form, or instructions on your website. For more tips on ways to grow your list, we dedicated an entire post to the subject.

Keep the Experience in Mind

Before you start sending text messages to your subscriber list, think about the type of experience you want to provide for this audience. It can be off-putting to read to read large amounts of copy on a smaller device, and SMS messages are limited to 160 characters per message, so don’t be afraid to keep it brief and to the point. Get rid of any non-essential words, and make sure the message is clear and easy to understand by everyone on your list. If you’re sending exclusive offers, make it easy to redeem them. As with email marketing, stay true to the cadence you stated during the opt-in process. While people have grown accustomed to tuning out the noise in their email inbox, they don’t have quite the same tolerance when it comes to text messages, so take extra care not to over-send. When in doubt, it’s best to keep it simple.

Optimize Your Website for Mobile

Regardless of any marketing tactics and strategies, your business’s website should be optimized for mobile. Images and formatting should render accordingly and navigation should be easy to follow. This is especially important if you’re driving users to your site with any links. The purpose of engaging with customers on mobile is to make things easier for them; make sure you don’t derail these efforts by herding them to a site that they’ll find confusing or frustrating. Double check that load times are fast, so they don’t have a chance to give up and leave, or get distracted.

 

Next Tuesday, we’ll be exploring some ideas for creative campaigns that will engage customers and boost sales.

 

Infographic: Making Sense of Digital Marketing

Modern marketing has become an ambiguous and complicated endeavor. Between so many sites, advertising options and directories claiming to improve your presence and drive new business, it can feel like you’re spending countless hours and dollars on marketing efforts that just aren’t paying off. That’s why we created this new infographic in order to demystify some of the uncertainty surrounding digital marketing practices – by the numbers. Hopefully, this data can empower you to take back control of your local marketing efforts!

 

Local Marketing Infographic

Part Three: How NOT to Ask for Referrals

Who doesn’t love getting referrals? Comprising 65% of all new business, (according to the NY Times), they’re also 4 times more likely to buy than other leads. However, seeking and driving referrals continues to be an underutilized strategy by many businesses.  In this three-part series, we’ll focus on refining your approach to asking for, getting and leveraging referrals to aid in your local marketing efforts. Check back each Tuesday for the latest insights!

Catch up with Part One: Building Your Referral Strategy and Part Two: 7 Ways To Boost Your Referrals today!


Now that you’re starting to get traction with your referral strategy, it’s time to refine your approach even more. Sometimes the best way to improve, is by learning what not to do. By avoiding these common pitfalls, you can position your business for success by expanding your reach and attracting new customers.

Make sure you don’t…

Continue Reading: Not Asking, Or Asking Only Once

Ask Only Once (or not at all)

While it’s vital to wait for the right opportunities to ask for referrals, it is just as Referral marketing: Here's what NOT to doimportant to plant the seeds early and revisit the subject throughout the time you spend with clients. This not only keeps them mindful of your request, but punctuates instances when they are impressed  with your products or services. If you wait to ask until the end of your time together it might be more difficult to remember these instances of satisfaction, which often get forgotten or diluted with time.

This also gives them time to think sincerely about who in their network they can refer. If you wait until the last minute and put them on the spot, you cannot expect them to furnish a well-pondered list. From their point of view, business has been completed and their mind is already on the next thing.

Imply The Type of Referral You Want

Too frequently business owners will fail to describe their target customer, or frame them in relation to their current customer.  You may think it’s easy enough to tell them it’s “someone like you, who is looking for this type of solution” and for some it may be, but for others they don’t identify themselves as a prospect with a pain point. When the target is too vague, it makes it nearly impossible to zero in on anyone.

They may also not be aware of the full offering you have, so be sure to outline what you look for in prospective customers and don’t be afraid to tell them what a good referral looks like for you. If possible, even narrow the parameters. If they still seem at a loss and you feel that you have a wide target, frame it within different acquaintance circles.Try asking “Who do you know from your community group/fantasy football league/ book club that might need this?” With people four times more likely to buy when referred by a friend, do everything you can to ensure the process is as clear and easy as possible so that you can facilitate these profitable results.

Focus On Leads

Another common error, asking for a referral with the goal of obtaining simply the name or contact info for friends of a current customer seldom yields the results you’re looking for. While not a loss by any means, it’s important to keep your eyes on the prize or end game: gaining new customers.  Oftentimes this is due to ambiguous directions when discussing the referral, so remember it is your job to ensure you communicate your preferences, clearly.

The next time your current customer mentions a friend or relative that they think might make a great new customer, ask them to set up an introduction. Otherwise, contact information can be no better than cold calling. They don’t want to hear  you tell them that their friend thought they could benefit from your products or services, and no matter how many times you name drop, their mind will already be made up. They want to hear about you from their friend, not the other way around.  It might seem like a nuanced difference, but by asking for an introduction the prospective client will feel as they’re in good hands, and you’ll be setting yourself up for success.

Approach Referrals as You Would Other Customers

Referrals aren’t the same as your usual new customers. Armed with more knowledge of your product than most, and having already received a rave review from a pal, they don’t require the hard sell. Instead, make them feel welcome and focus on building a relationship that will turn them into a repeat customer, and even make them want to refer you to their friends in the future.

If you’re looking to drive even more referrals, schedule a demo to learn more about Signpost’s automated marketing. 

 

Part Two: 7 Ways to Boost Your Referrals

Who doesn’t love getting referrals? Comprising 65% of all new business, (according to the NY Times), they’re also 4 times more likely to buy than other leads. However, seeking and driving referrals continues to be an underutilized strategy by many businesses.  In this three-part series, we’ll focus on refining your approach to asking for, getting and leveraging referrals to aid in your local marketing efforts. Check back each Tuesday for the latest insights!

If you missed it, check out Part One: Building Your Referral Strategy, now!


Once you get accustomed to asking for referrals, you’ll find that there are steps you can take towards fostering a “referral mindset”. Being as the lifetime value of a new referral is 16% higher than other customers, it’s clearly worth a little extra effort to facilitate as many as possible. By implementing these seven tips, you can strengthen your strategy, and the increase likelihood of attracting more of these valuable customers.

Continue Reading: 1. Emails and Written Correspondence

1. Emails and Written Correspondence

This is the best place to start. By simply adding a line to your email signature with a link to how to boost referralsyour site or a referral form, you can be promoting a referral culture and mindset. It can be as easy as “Know someone looking for [your solution]? Have them check out our page [link]”.

On its own, this can serve to plant the seed in your customers’ heads about referring your business to friends. But, when combined with your referral strategy, this can be a gentle reminder to your customers who intended to refer you, and may have forgotten. It will surely keep your business top of mind the next time an acquaintance is describing a need they have or a product they’re in the market for.

If your business does direct mail, you can also incorporate a similar line into all correspondence. And, while you’re at it, include extra business cards and flyers so that recipients can easily share your contact info with friends and prospective customers.

2. Social Sharing

If your business has an ecommerce offering or online booking, give customers an option to share their purchase or experience during checkout. Use social sharing buttons that auto-populate preferred language. such as a tweet that says: “I’m eating healthier thanks to [company] and you can too! Check out www.company.com”. You can also create unique referral codes or links so that you can track your most effective customers, and reward them for spreading the word about your business. Be sure to include your social pages on receipts, in-store signage, your email signature and website as well so that customers know where to find your business no matter what their social preferences may be.

After you’ve started cultivating social referrals, be sure to engage with your customers that are participating. Respond to any questions they might have; retweet or share what they’ve posted about your business, and get involved in any discussions that follow among their followers and friends where appropriate. As social etiquette dictates, chime in only where you can assist or elevate the discussion — not simply to self-promote. That can seem more like barging in on a conversation where you’re not wanted.

3. Schedule Messages to Keep Referrals Top of Mind

With everything that goes into running a business, it’s easy to let one facet, like referral marketing, fall to the wayside. While developing good habits and a referral mindset help you stay focused for the longterm, scheduling messages when they’re top of mind, can prevent your referral program from deteriorating  in the meantime. Schedule messages that serve to move the needle by asking for referrals at different intervals, whether once a quarter, twice a year, etc .  As a reminder, Signpost does this for you, automatically, while also driving feedback, online reviews, testimonials and more.

4. Showcase Your Expertise

Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge by giving a talk, speaking on a panel or teaching a class. These are all great ways to get in front of an audience that is likely to need or know someone that is interested in your business. Whether it’s through local or town initiatives, continuing education or workshops at the Community Center, Library, Chamber of Commerce, etc., there are plenty of ways you can get your audience excited about what you do. If you have a cake shop, you could offer a free class in cake decorating for kids or adult beginners, in-store. Or, your florist shop could hold an introductory workshop on flower arrangement or gardening at your local Farmer’s Market each month.

If you’re stumped about where to hold such an event, try doing it online by hosting a webinar. You can use your site, email and social pages to ask customer to help spread the word before and drive signups, and then tape the session to make it available for customers to send to friends who might be interested, after.

5. Partner with Other Brands

Identify complementary brands that aim to solve other pain points typically experienced by your customers and partner with them to drive business to you both. If you own a gym, try to identify athletic clothing brands, equipment and accessories, or even nutritional bars and supplements that you can approach to be a marketing partner. This technique lends itself well in the medical field where general practice doctors are often asked to refer patients to specialists, but the same premise can be applied across most industries.

The specifics of the arrangement will vary on a case by case basis, but could range from simply displaying any promotional materials, flyers, or business cards at their location for customers to take, to staff referring customers, personally, or even providing an exclusive (and reciprocal) offer to the clients of one establishment to the other.

These partners do not necessarily need to be limited by industry, they could also be other local businesses serving the same community, or in the same shopping center. Join forces with these businesses to hold promotional events to raise awareness for both your businesses. Experiment with unlikely combinations to keep things interesting.

6. Network with a Referrals Mindset

You can keep focus by having a referrals mindset whenever you’re talking about your business. Whether at a networking event, or simply meeting new people and talking shop, you can set the precedent by steering the conversation towards your new acquaintance and what they do. Don’t be afraid to come right out and ask, “what does a good referral look like for you?” This can inspire them to reciprocate and allow you to identify the most valuable individuals or groups to your businesses. It could also open the door to them writing you a letter of introduction to friends who would make great customers.

7. Incorporate Referrals into your Wrap-Up

Every time you conclude business with a customer or client, you have one last chance to prompt them for a referral. Whether “wrap up” is defined as checkout, a summation and evaluation of services or hitting a goal benchmark, there is ample opportunity to reinforce the value you’ve created for your customer and channel this enthusiasm into referrals, either in person (if time permits) or through a follow up/thank you email.

If you use satisfaction or NPS surveys, most people are likely to respond positively, especially if it quickly follows their conclusion of business while the delight of the experience is still fresh. This builds on their already-positive experience and sets the stage for your ask. You can wait until the very end and either use a concluding line to express thanks for their business, and ask them to please share your site/info with anyone they know who might be looking for a similar service/product, or provide them with a form submission to enter in the contact info for any friends they think would benefit from your business.

Check out Part Three: How NOT To Ask For Referrals, next!

 

How to Get More Yelp Reviews

Online reviews are now considered to be as important as word of mouth referrals, with 88% of consumers claiming they trust them as much as personal recommendations. In the ratingsmore yelp reviews to boost local advertising world, even a small move up or  down in stars can have very serious repercussions for your bottom line. Yelp reports that the average business gains an additional $8,000 in revenue, annually, simply by being listed on the site. It’s important to note that while this is great starting point for your top of the funnel strategy, it’s still important to focus your local marketing efforts on sales conversions and customer engagement to drive new and repeat business.

Increase the number of Yelp reviews for  your business by following these simple tips.

Continue Reading: On-Site Prompts

On-Site Prompts

Make it as easy as possible for your customers to find your Yelp listing. You can download these buttons from Yelp to ensure the process is frictionless and accurate. They are subtle reminders for customers who might not have thought to leave you a review on the site prior to the prompt. This also enables potential customers who are finding your site for the first time to check out the good ratings and positive feedback others have already left about your business.

Go one step further and include the button in your email signature. This way, reviewing your business will stay top of mind for any customers that you correspond with throughout the week. It could inspire them to leave a review if they have a moment, as they are already on a desktop or mobile device where they can easily access the site or app.

Share the good…and the not-so-good

Share rave reviews that go above and beyond to applaud your best attributes. Post excerpts on your social pages, site, and even include one at the end of your email newsletters. Make sure that anyone searching for your business can find these, and keep them updated regularly. This shows new and current customers that you value their reviews and might motivate them to take the time to post one.

Additionally, take this opportunity to show off  your dedication to customer service by posting a neutral/negative review, with your response. This helps you build trust amongst your audience by presenting them with full transparency. It tells them that your business is dedicated to providing excellent service, and that if someone feels you’ve fallen short of that, you do everything in your power to rectify the situation. This is very compelling, and will inspire more people to be an advocate for you business.

Yelp Optimizations

Although most of these best practices are organic, there are a few paid strategies that have proven to be quite effective in producing more reviews. Take advantage of Yelp’s “Special Offers” advertising. This allows you to create custom incentives for Yelp users that will not only get them through the door, but also keep the review site at the forefront of their mind and associated with your business.

Yelp Check-in Offers are a great way to incentivize new customers, returning customers AND they are guaranteed to generate more reviews. Although these are paid ads, exclusive offers are unlocked when customers “check-in” on the Yelp app. However, once someone chooses to do this, they are prompted to post a review on that business’s page the next time they log into the site or launch the app, which compounds their value.

In-Store

You can display signage in-store, and even request stickers to put on your business’s door or window. This trail can remind customers to review their experience during various points of their visit: as they enter, while their browsing, at checkout, and as they exit the building.

You can also include a reminder and link printed on your receipts, so they can remember to leave you a review when they get home.

Utilize Marketing Automation to Drive Reviews

Marketing automation software, like Signpost, can be leveraged to engage with new and returning customers to gain feedback about their experience and encourage them to review your business on Yelp, without you having to lift a finger. To see how Signpost can drive more reviews, referrals and more, schedule a demo today!

 

Part One: Building Your Referral Strategy

Who doesn’t love getting referrals? Comprising 65% of all new business, (according to the NY Times), they’re also 4 times more likely to buy than other leads. However, seeking and driving referrals continues to be an underutilized strategy by many businesses.  In this three-part series, we’ll focus on refining your approach to asking for, getting and leveraging referrals to aid in your local marketing efforts. Check back each Tuesday for the latest insights!


referral strategyReferrals are the holy grail of customer acquisition, but many businesses are missing out on revenue potential by not taking full advantage of them. Despite 83% of customers reporting they’d refer friends and family to a business following a positive experience, only 29% actually do. Signpost’s technology is constantly working to bridge this gap by obtaining referrals from recent customers, but without it, this process can be intimidating. It might come as no surprise that the best way to drive more referrals is simply to ask, and these tips will help you effectively frame that conversation with clients.

Continue Reading: If you follow these simple steps, you'll be more likely to get that referral you're looking for:

Deliver Results: Whether it’s a game-changing product, or a delightful experience,  you need to ensure that your current customer is enthusiastic enough about the outcome to want to tell his or her friends.

Be Patient: Wait until the time is right to ask for a referral. This is usually when your customer is expressing satisfaction with your products/services.

Practice What You Preach: Refer people to your clients, or other complementary services that you think they might benefit from.

ALWAYS say “Thank You”

Why you need to ask for referrals

Many business owners avoid directly asking for referrals, assuming that clients will spread the word every time they have a great experience. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case. There could be a million reasons why, including a reluctance to impose on their contacts by making them a sales target, or it simply didn’t cross their mind. It’s a common misconception to think of referrals as a favor, but this shouldn’t be the case. You’ve worked hard to establish a successful business, and if you offer a solution that will help and thrill others, connecting you with these potential customers is mutually beneficial, and should be positioned as such.

Once you start cultivating your approach to referrals,  you’ll find it to be a great way to have a direct line to your target audience. Existing customers are more likely to know others with a similar need. They have friends, coworkers and peers with similar tastes and styles, and are attending conferences, networking, and frequently meeting new people in similar industries, any of whom will want or need your products and services. Best of all, there will be an inherent trust of your business, since a reliable source recommended it. Be respectful of this trust, and be sure to deliver on an experience that will satisfy and delight these new customers just as much.

When (and when not to) Ask

When working with a customer, there are always ample opportunities to plant the seeds for referrals. Anytime they compliment or express appreciation for your products or services, you can steer your response towards the subject. There’s no better opportunity than when they’re feeling enthusiastic about your business, and more likely want to share/brag about their results to friends and family. It’s best to tailor it to  your offering, but try something along these lines: “I’m glad to hear it! I’ve really enjoyed getting you these results; it’s why I started this business. If  you know anyone else looking for similar outcomes, I’d love to meet them and strategize about how I can help accomplish that.”

Be patient and wait until the moment feels right. Trying to pressure them into telling friends before they’re convinced can be off-putting, as is forcibly inserting the request awkwardly into the middle of your conversation. If no opportunity presents itself, naturally, wait until the end of your interaction, and if the client still doesn’t make any remarks about the quality of service/products, take it upon yourself to say you hope they had a great experience and if they know anyone looking for this solution, to keep please keep your business in mind. Many experts believe it’s best to ask in person, if possible, but it’s also acceptable to ask via email, especially if you’re in the habit of corresponding with customers there. Try to avoid asking while presenting them with a bill as this is a often a surefire way to dissolve their referral-fueling enthusiasm.

Practice what you preach: Refer others

Connect people you think might work well together and network as much as possible. People will be more likely to refer you if you’ve been referring them. It also spreads awareness to other business owners about the power of referrals, and encourages them to reciprocate. As with most business strategies, this should never be a one-way street.

Remember to say “Thank You”

Regardless of whether the referred parties follow through or make a purchase, be sure to thank your customers for taking the time to connect you with their friends and associates. In some cases they’re putting their reputation on the line to vouch for your business, so be sure to express your appreciation. Even if you’re unable to convert a referred party, you can still leverage the work your customer had to do in order to introduce you to drive future sales. We’ll be exploring that and more in Part Two, next Tuesday.

Check out Part Two: 7 Ways to Boost Your Referrals, next!

2016 Email Marketing Trends To Watch

2016 is poised to be the year of an email marketing renaissance. New approaches to email design and engagement are pushing the boundaries, creating unique and 2016 email marketing trendsinteractive experiences that aim to amaze and delight recipients. By implementing these techniques early you can position your business for higher engagement and returns in the new year.

Continue Reading: The Rise of Interactive and Animated Emails

The Rise of Interactive and Animated Emails

This big trend started small when businesses began including GIFs in emails. It was an easy way to spice up traditional emails that were beginning to border on the mundane. However, the limits continue to be pushed as new approaches to email design, including CSS3 animations, advance and pave the way for kinetic emails. These interactive emails have the ability to take personalization and segmentation to the next level.

In this popular example, Pret launched their series of smoothies with a kinetic email that allowed recipients to customize the flavor (or flavors) that they were interested in. The fun animation mimics the real-life experience and adds to the delight their audience feels. Such approaches can also lead to extended periods of engagement between customers and the email, and increase the likelihood of a conversion. You could use these options to segment your lists, so that you can better target different groups of customers. Although initially many email clients did not support these animations, many are expected to add support, making them more powerful than ever. These relevant and exciting emails will undoubtedly allow your business to rise above the noise of traditional correspondence.

Emergence of In-Email Shopping

More mediums are experimenting with streamlining the checkout process for e-commerce than ever before. “Buy Now” buttons are now mainstays in many major social platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. Last year, Google launched “Purchases on Google” in order to allow consumers to make purchases directly from ads.

However, until recently the idea of creating a shopping experience directly in-email was merely a pipe dream. Companies like rebelmail are blazing a path in this unknown territory, and changing the face of email capabilities. Users can now browse styles, colors, sizes and even add to cart, directly from emails; all without having to open a browser. Customers receiving emails from brands have likely shopped with them previously, and often choose to store their payment information on these sites. This serves to streamline as much of the checkout process as possible, keeping the process confined until much further down the funnel, perhaps only for a final confirmation. Containing the shopping experience in this way, reduces the likelihood of cart abandonment by removing unnecessary pages, navigation and friction in general.

Optimizing for an even smaller screen

It’s no surprise that most people check email at least once a day from a smartphone or device. It’s long been imperative to optimize your email marketing efforts for mobile. However, as the wearables market begins to mature, we can expect more and more of these mobile opens to happen on an even smaller screen. Still, more than half of consumer brands have not made the leap to emails and sites that are both mobile-friendly. This is especially alarming with 71.2% of consumers reporting that if an email does not display correctly, they will delete it immediately.

A slew of new wearables are expected to be released this year, as well as software updates to current offerings, all of which will result in a higher adoption rate. An estimated 21 million American adults will own a smartwatch by the end of 2016, illustrating how important it is to get in front of this trend. Ensure that your customers will have a positive experience each time they open one of your emails, no matter what device they’re using, and it will translate into success for your local business.

 

Part Three: Evaluating and Optimizing Your Email Campaigns

Email remains one of the most popular and effective methods of communicating and engaging with your customers between visits. With one study reporting a potential ROI yield of 4300% for email marketing, it’s clear that this is an area worth investing in. In this three-part series, we’ll take you through the stages for starting, refining and evaluating your email campaigns. Be sure to check back each Tuesday for the latest insights.

Check out Part One and Part Two to get up to speed!


Marketing your local business is an ongoing process that’s never really finished, and email marketing is no exception. Even in the most successful campaigns, there is always room for improvement. As marketers, we’re constantly learning from our experiences and continuing to refine our approach. For this roptimizing email marketing campaignseason it’s essential to be tracking the right metrics, and optimizing campaigns that are always a work in progress. Most email service providers deliver no shortage of data, but with so many different figures being reported, it can be overwhelming. By measuring the data points below, and using these insights to inform future efforts, you’ll improve your success rate for all your upcoming email marketing campaigns.

Continue Reading: Delivery Rate

Delivery Rate

Formula: (# of emails sent – # of emails that bounced back) / # of emails sent
Average: 86-99% (varies by industry)

Sometimes customers change and delete email accounts, or there’s a typo in the form submission. Due to these reasons and many more, not everyone on your list will receive your email. This helps you to gauge the quality of your list. If your delivery rate is below the industry standard, you might want to change the way you ask customers to signup, or simply prune your list if it hasn’t been updated in a while to remove the inactive addresses.

Open Rate

Formula: # of emails opened / # of emails delivered
Average: 10-30% (varies by industry)

This is the best way to evaluate the efficacy of your subject line. What seems like a small piece of copy is monumental in its marketing impact. If you’re noticing low open rates, try writing more compelling subject lines that convey a sense of urgency and will prompt your subscribers to eagerly read the email.

As we mentioned in Part Two, many people don’t bother opening emails that they feel have irrelevant or stale content. If people aren’t opening your emails, it could be they feel you’ve missed the mark in either of those categories. Although it might be too late to convince them otherwise, it’s an important lesson to learn from and help inform your future marketing strategy. Take extra care to personalize content and send out emails your customers will delight in receiving, reading and sharing.

One caveat about Open Rate: An email won’t register as “opened” if the images don’t load. This could be due to spotty wifi or default settings in the recipient’s email service, which won’t autoload images for security reasons.

Click-Through Rate

Formula: # of clicks / # of emails delivered
Average: 1-5% (varies by industry)

Click-through rate (CTR) is a great indicator of your content’s success. There are many different factors to monitor and test. You can see how text links perform vs. CTA buttons vs. video or image links and even test to see what resonates best with your subscribers. It’s often best to focus on one call to action in any non-newsletter email. A message with multiple links to many different locations can have weaker results, and higher drop-offs prior to buying.

You can utilize this metric to track different layouts, copy, images, etc. Oftentimes, succinct copy and prominent images and/or videos tend to be popular with recipients, but each business is different. Test and optimize frequently to keep your correspondence as appealing to your audience as possible.

Email Sharing

Social Sharing buttons are known to drive CTR rates, but they’re also a great way to spread word of mouth about your business and promotions. It proves that the content of your newsletters is resonating with your audience, so much so that they believe their friends and social followers can also gain value from your insights. Or, it could be a great way to drive a referral campaign. By creating custom links that track who is referring new clients to your business, it makes it easy for existing clients and subscribers to participate in such a program. It also allows you to track who your most passionate advocates are and what motivates them to promote your business.

Unsubscribe

Formula: # of people who unsubscribed from your list / # of emails delivered
Average: .02-.5% (varies by industry)

Although worth keeping an eye on, you should resist the urge to mourn each unsubscribe that comes your way. People receive so many emails, it’s normal for them to routinely pare down their lists. As long as your unsubscribe numbers are not accelerating faster than your signups, there’s usually no cause for alarm. Unsubscribes are a growing pain associated with scaling and increasing your list.

However, if you are seeing a high percentage of unsubscribes, it could be a clear indicator that your content isn’t what your customers are looking for. Or, perhaps you’re simply sending emails too frequently and your recipients feel inundated by your correspondence. If they’re getting emails faster than they can read them, many people will opt-out. Try segmenting the types of emails you send to give them options to choose from. The more control your audience has over their email preferences, the more engaged they’ll be.

Are my campaigns driving website traffic and revenue?

Finally, the hard question we always have to ask ourselves to measure the ultimate performance of any marketing campaign. All email efforts should be moving the needle to accomplish this goal. Whether it’s filling out a form online to contact your business for a quote or more information on a service, redeeming a promotion code online, or shopping a sale, track as many of these transactions as possible so that you can gain insight into your customers’ buying behavior and better determine the outcome of various email marketing campaigns. Continue to track, analyze, optimize and repeat, and your campaigns will grow stronger in each iteration.

As a reminder, Signpost automatically tracks and displays the results of your emails in the merchant center, so you can effectively evaluate and compare outcomes.

 

Part Two: The Ultimate Email Marketing Checklist

Email remains one of the most popular and effective methods of communicating and engaging with your customers between visits. With one study reporting a potential ROI yield of 4300% for email marketing, it’s clear that this is an area worth investing in. In this three-part series, we’ll take you through the stages for starting, refining and evaluating your email campaigns. Be sure to check back each Tuesday for the latest insights.

Check out Part One: 3 Thank-You Email Templates To Keep Customers Coming Back now!


For the second installment in our Email Marketing series, we’re looking at how to create an effective email marketing campaign. Now that you’ve been building your subscriber lists, and local marketing campaignssetting the tone for your online relationship with a clear and personal thank you/welcome email, it’s time to get started! But with 47% of people unsubscribing simply because they receive too many emails from businesses in general, be sure to make it count each time you hit “send”. When it comes to their inbox, you’re not just going head-to-head vs. competitors in your industry, but against the barrage of emails your customer receives daily. Fear not, with these tips your emails will be more likely to resonate with your customers and improve your open and click-through rates.

As always, Signpost is here to help with this process, by sending automated messages and offering business owners the flexibility to create custom campaigns.

Continue Reading: Segment, Personalize and Repeat

Segment, Personalize and Repeat

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating that consumers like (and have even come to expect) custom recommendations and content tailored to their interests and preferences. Sending out a quick survey to learn more about their buying behavior can help position your business for success further down the funnel. This can either be done by a formal survey through sites like SurveyMonkey, or more informally by asking a few general questions and offering an exclusive promotion to those that respond. Continue to chat with customers in person about their interests to refine the content of your emails. Determine the various buckets that comprise the full offering of your products and/or services, and continuously sort your email list by these topics. 25% of people unsubscribe from email lists because it was never relevant to begin with, but by sending targeted messages they’re more likely to be interested, open and engage with your messages.

This might seem like a tall order, but in the beginning you can utilize the data you already have. How did they sign up for your list? If it was through a promotion, you know incentives are a great motivator for that customer. If they signed up online, through your blog, or when they made a purchase on your site, you know that they might prefer shopping and browsing online. By monitoring different metrics, such as open and click-through rates, you can continue to optimize your segmentation. But don’t worry too much about that yet, as we’ll be diving more into metrics and evaluation methods in part three.

Get Whitelisted

It doesn’t matter how wonderful or life-changing your email is, if it doesn’t make it to your recipients’ inboxes, there’s no point in sending it. As email services continue to advance, so do their screening processes for which messages are marked as spam and rerouted accordingly. Additionally, some (like Gmail) provide automatic segmentation that causes a lot of emails from businesses to be routed to the “Promotions” folder, which oftentimes becomes neglected or secondary to their “Primary” folder.

One way to prevent this unfortunate outcome is to get your mailing address whitelisted. Getting whitelisted is equivalent to being marked as a friend, and one of the most effective ways to achieve this is by being added to the recipient’s address book. Make sure to provide step-by-step instructions guiding subscribers through the process at the top of each email, especially on the initial thank you and initial emails. This is why the first follow-up email is so crucial to the success of your email marketing efforts!

Protip: Using a donotreply@ email address has been linked to low open rates. This could be because this type of address is seen as off-putting and inaccessible; two adjectives you never want associated with your email marketing! Better to have it come from a specific person’s name, in order to make recipients feel as though they’re responding and corresponding with a real person and not a robot.

Socialize Your Emails

Adding social sharing buttons to emails allows readers to easily post about your business on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media platforms. These buttons also drive engagement, increasing click through rates by 158%.

Keep Your Content Fresh

Did you know that 49% of people unsubscribe from emails because their content eventually became too stale or repetitive? Combat email fatigue by creating an editorial calendar for your correspondence. This ensures that you won’t revisit the same subject too often, and can also help you structure your correspondence around seasonal trends and events. Although it can seem like a daunting task initially, this calendar will save you hours of frustration when it comes time to execute, and will create a more consistent and better experience overall for your subscribers.

Be sure to utilize your email list segmentation as well in this pursuit. If you’re a boutique that focuses on women’s fashion you could send out a digest of accessory, shoe or clothing trends for each season. Or, if you’re a hair salon you can send out a newsletter about popular celebrity haircuts this season and how your stylists have adapted them for customers.

Include Local News in Your Newsletter

Include news from around your area to solidify your business’s presence and commitment to the community. Local businesses are essential to community development, and your customers care about their town and neighboring towns as much as you do. Position your business as a local institution to solidify this association in the hearts and minds of your consumers.

Protip: Don’t limit this mindset to  your newsletter, either. Getting involved in local events, charity drives and fundraisers can be a great way to give back, and get your business on people’s radar.

Create a Visually Engaging Experience

Sometimes the best way to show customers that you mean business is by showing off your fun side. Your emails shouldn’t feel like work to them. Keep the text as succinct as possible, and rely upon engaging images and videos to tell a story that will keep them interested and your business top of mind. You can include survey results from earlier emails you used for segmentation to show them trends, create short “how-to” or “tips and tricks” instructional videos, or include interesting quotes, facts or stats.

Better yet, get them involved in this process by asking them to submit their own photos of products or services they’ve gotten from your business and share these with your customers. People like to participate and feel included, and there’s no better way to convince them that yours is a two-way relationship. As we move into 2016, we expect to see the trend of more visuals and less text to continue. Stay ahead of the curve by adopting this valuable practice early.

Optimize for Mobile

Heading into 2016, the trend towards mobile continues to march on. As people spend more time than ever on smart phones and devices, it’s vital to ensure your emails are designed with an emphasis on the mobile experience in mind. 91% of consumers check their email at least once per day on their smartphone, so it’s important to make sure that you’re providing them with the best experience possible. Before sending out any marketing emails, be sure to send out a tests. Check to make sure that it’s rendering correctly on both desktop and mobile. And while you’re at it, make sure the copy on your CTA is clear and action-based.

Spend a Little Extra Time on Your Subject Line Copy

Second only to the organization that is sending the email, subject line has been identified as the greatest influence on whether or not subscribers open an email in your inbox. With 47% of people saying subject line is one of the biggest determiners of open rate, it’s not something that should ever be written as an afterthought. While it’s often a fine line between conveying urgency and being too gimmicky, make sure that you craft a strong and descriptive subject line that will reel your customers in and get them to want to engage with your business on and offline.

Advertising or hinting at promotions is always a great way to get customers hooked, as is a reward/discount for the first 5, 10, 20, etc., people who respond back to the email. If you take this approach, you can also pose a question (i.e. what seasonal trend or feature they’re most excited about) that they must respond to in order to unlock or be eligible for the discount. This feedback will allow you to continue to segment your lists and learn more about consumer behavior and trends, overall.

 

5 Last-Minute Holiday Marketing Campaigns

It’s almost here. As we enter into the homestretch of the hectic holiday season, things can feel more like inching towards the finish line, rather than taking a victory lap. But, if you’re thinking about starting your holiday festivities early, it could be costing you a lot of business. According to recent studies, 30% of shoppers wait until Christmas week to do a majority of their shopping. With this in mind, it remains more important than ever to ramp up your marketing campaigns during this final week. Fear not, with these simple marketing tips, you can have your fruitcake, and eat it too!

Continue Reading: Promote exclusive holiday hours to your email subscribers

1. Promote exclusive holiday hours to your email subscribers

holiday marketing campaignsDespite online shopping trends continuing to rise during the holiday season this year, consumers worry about placing ecommerce orders at this late stage. The costs of expedited shipping can become prohibitive and even when forced to splurge on it, there’s no guarantee that customers’ gifts will arrive in time. With limited options, some customers feel resigned to battle the masses at retail locations. However, with the right email communication you can bring the holiday spirit to customers in this position, and make them feel less like a Scrooge.

Why not send an exclusive VIP shopping hour promotion to customers on your email list? Whether an hour before your business normally opens, peak lunch hours, or an extra hour later in the evening prior to close, this will make the trip more palatable to customers worried about long lines and crowded stores. Better yet, you can add an exclusive discount, or advertise the donation of a percentage of proceeds to charity, and make customers feel good about helping you give back this holiday season. Extended hours provide flexibility to add a quick trip to your business to their packed schedules. By having them RSVP, you solidify their VIP treatment and are able to better track the results of the campaign so that you can refine and optimize this approach in the future.

 2. Create holiday bundles or gift sets and advertise via email

Take some of the stress of gift-giving off your customers’ plates by arranging gift sets or bundling existing, complementary products. Offer special holiday packaging to eliminate the hassle of gift wrapping to make this offering even more enticing. Structuring these sets around pricing tiers is especially helpful when people are looking for a last-minute White Elephant gift. You can also incentivize further by discounting the sets slightly to represent popular price points ($25, $50, $100, etc.). This is a great option for salons and other services, who can include a bundle of often-paired treatments, or combine a certificate for services with products that you recommend pre or post-visit.

3. Partner with an on-demand delivery service in metro areas

Like traditional couriers, companies such as Postmates, deliver from one point in a city to another, in under an hour. This solution might add up, but it will also provide more options and flexibility to those desperate to check off the remaining names on their lists. Here the added service of holiday gift wrapping gives customers a chance to send the gifts directly to their recipients. These may seem like small gestures, but during such a busy time, everyone appreciates the gift of time saved.

4. Holiday Newsletter/Holiday E-Card

Send out a special holiday edition of your newsletter. These can be simple expressions of gratitude for their patronage and best wishes for a happy New Year that will keep your business top of mind for any last minute gift solutions your customers are trying to come up with. Or, these can offer more value by including a schedule of holiday events for families in your community, or any other pertinent information to help them organize and streamline this hectic time of year. This is also a great time to give them a sneak peek of what’s in store for the new year, and what they can look forward to once the holidays are over. These newsletters are now easier to create than ever with tools like Signpost’s Custom Campaigns.

5. When all else fails….gift cards

Don’t forget about the saving grace of procrastinators everywhere: gift cards. Remind your email subscribers of this option, and offer customers an easy way to buy an electronic gift card on your site to help them spread holiday cheer to their friends and family – and drive new customers to  your business in the new year. Send an email to your customers an option to send these gift cards to their recipients’ email addresses, directly, to once again save them some valuable time. Or, these can act as referral programs, and you can offer a small credit to anyone who purchases a gift card for their loved one and help them secure a gift that keeps giving.

The holiday season is always a frenzied time for consumers and businesses, alike. The best way to save some time is to automate your local marketing with tools like Signpost.

 

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