6 things to Look For When Selecting Email Marketing Services

Recently, a entrepreneur reached out to me, seeking my opinion on the best email marketing services for his business. It would have been easy to offer up a few answers and tell him to just choose the cheapest option —but at our Florida advertising agency, we’re also strategists, and we know there’s much more to it then choosing the company that’s offering the cheapest deal right off the bat.
In this case, this business owner was in need of advice to assist his startup with a small email list. His plan: to generate messaging via a weekly or monthly email newsletter. Sounds simple enough, right? Many people would have directed him immediately to MailChimp, an email marketing service that offers its services for free for up to 2,000 subscribers and up to 12,000 emails a month.

And, indeed, MailChimp would be the best service had he been looking to never grow beyond 2,000 subscribers. But we’re marketers, and we know that one of the goals of initiating an email marketing plan is to gain quality new subscribers. There’s a reason MailChimp operates under a freemium business model —its team knows that once you’ve put in the work to build your email list up to more than 2,000 people, you aren’t likely to swap email marketing services because you’ve already taken so much time to learn all of MailChimp’s features.

[quote]When deciding which email marketing service works for your business, it’s important to think long-term.[/quote]Where do you expect your business to be in a year? In five years? If you’re a growing commerce business with a popular product, it’s likely that you’ll have well over 2,000 subscribers within the year.

So, which email marketing service is best for your business? Well, it depends on your business needs. Many of the email marketing services offer free trials, so it’s worth it to sign up with those and do some investigating on your own. That said, we understand it isn’t always realistic to do months of testing to choose an email marketing service.

Here are 6 essentials to look for when investigating the most appropriate email marketing service:

1. Templates: How easy is it to build a sleek, well-designed email? And, once you have that template, how difficult is it to optimize it? If you find yourself wasting valuable time trying to work out the kinks, then you might need to go with a different provider.

2. Analytics: What kinds of analytic data can the service give you about your customers? And, how easy it is to navigate the numbers? Does the tool offer suggestions to help you improve those metrics? Be sure to have a baseline familiarity with the service provider’s analytic features before you commit to the provider.

3. Mobile Optimization: How do your emails look when someone opens them on mobile or tablet? In some industries, more than 50% of email opens are on mobile or tablet (and that number is growing every day).

4. Service: How does the email marketing service support its customers? Even as a marketing pro, you probably still don’t know as much about email marketing than the team that handles your business’s email marketing. That’s why customer service is essential —an email marketing service with pro coaching can help you optimize your emails to get optimal conversion rates.

5. Pricing Plans: Which service provider can give you the most bang for your buck? Because there are so many variances in features and capabilities, it’s important to think long-term rather than going with the cheapest option. Figure out your goals, and then choose the best solution to help you reach them.

6. Ability to Grow: As your business continues to grow and evolve, you’ll become aware of the need for more and more features. Some email marketing service providers remain in close contact with their clients, adding new features regularly to keep up with changes in the email marketing landscape.

While we don’t want to advocate for any email marketing service that may not be right for your business needs, here are a few worth checking out.

Constant Contact

Boomerang

MailChimp

iContact

Aweber

Campaign Monitor

Are there other things you look for when selecting an email marketing service? The team at our Orlando marketing agency wants to know! Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

4 Ways to Perfect Your Content Strategy From BIGEYE

Each day, when I log on to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, I see dozens of people trying to feed me content. Many of these people are talented, intelligent and hardworking, but at the end of the day there’s just not enough time for everything.[quote]Rather than trying to read it all, most of us pick out the things that seem most interesting to us, if it’s really good, we decide to share.[/quote] The act of sharing is much more likely if the writers have first thought of a content strategy when posting.
Some marketers are missing the mark in terms of what audiences are looking for in terms of content. Many times, this is because these marketers haven’t done their homework. Unfortunately, instead of being like the old Field of Dreams adage, “If you build it, they will come,” it works much better to think in terms of “If they like it, they will click.”

At our Orlando branding agency, we’ve noticed that many businesses develop their content strategy without doing their homework. They know they need a blog, but instead of trying to hone in on their audiences and what’s important to them, these marketers think about what’s best for them.

 1. Identify the best channels

When assessing your brand’s content strategy, it is important to identify the proper channels for your brand. Many people immediately log on to Twitter and Facebook, thinking those are their ideal audiences because they are the most popular. Therefore, they neglect growing networks such as Snapchat and Pinterest, which actually might be best for highly visual brands. Consider which networks might be best for your brand by examining each network’s user demographics, and, if you are already producing content on those networks, by assessing follower engagement. If you feel stretched for resources in trying to maintain profiles across all social media platforms, choose one or two that work best for your brand, and focus on those.

 2. Establish relationships with key influencers

Grow your audience by seeking out influencers in your space. If you can get the attention of the influencer, then that relationship can create numerous ways to connect with your audience. You can often find these influencers through blogs and Google searches, as well as tools like FollowerWonk.com, which gives information about individual Twitter accounts, the people who follow them, and the people they follow. Follow and engage with leaders in your space, and also follow the people they follow in order to help facilitate growth.

3. Rethink your email strategy

Then, see how your audience is responding to your email strategy. If you don’t have a strategy for your email list, then start collecting emails and create a strategy right now! Not only can you share your own content, but you can also share others’content, which people tend to appreciate if they find it useful. A digest of your brand’s content can be a great way to offer additional audience touch points to information you’ve already published on your blog or social media. There are numerous email platforms out there, but MailChimp and Constant Contact are two of the most affordable email platforms that also offer email analytics and guides.

4. Cover relevant topics on your blog

Blogs are great tools for giving your audience interesting information within your space. Readers come to rely on and trust the blogs they love, which helps solidify the relationship between the creator and the audience. They’re also great for SEO purposes. Make sure your blog is covering relevant topics by staying on top of current events, looking at what interests your influencers and showing that your business is keeping its finger on the pulse of what’s changing in the industry.

These ideas can then help your marketing team generate a content strategy focused on the most relevant content portals. Once you start seeing success with this strategy, you can then expand to other outlets or start A/B testing in order to optimize the strategy. You can experiment with messaging, headlines, email lengths and more, in order to help create the optimal experience for the user.

For more suggestions on how to conduct research to help improve your business’s content strategy, contact our Orlando marketing agency for a consultation.

Unleashing the Power of LinkedIn for Business Development

It’s no secret that LinkedIn is an incredibly valuable networking tool. However, like all social channels, LinkedIn isn’t simply about the number of connections. Business owners that know how to leverage LinkedIn can build it into their business development strategies, helping them to create strategic partnerships with people who have compelling experience or interesting skills to help grow the business.

Business owners who want to use LinkedIn for business development efforts may accomplish this in a variety of ways. LinkedIn offers areas for sponsored content, which means that if you can provide interesting content specific to your industry, you can use paid LinkedIn marketing to grow your business and your personal brand by solidifying yourself as a thought leader in your area of expertise.

However, while paid placements can be tremendously valuable, the platform is really about the engagement.[quote]It’s more than simply posting updates and interesting articles, though that’s a great starting point.[/quote] If you want to be truly effective at using LinkedIn, it’s important to incorporate it into your overall business development initiatives.

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Check out the ads and marketing campaigns we’ve done for our loyal clients. Get ready to have your mind blown.

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One of the easiest ways to get started using LinkedIn to help grow business is to develop a strategy. This way, you can create goals and desired outcomes, and can even create a playbook of best practices.

Because LinkedIn is a professional social media outlet, as opposed to Facebook or Twitter, which are designed more for general interest, it’s easy to overlook the effectiveness of creating a LinkedIn campaign the way you’d create a Facebook or Twitter campaign. But, if you’re planning to attend a conference soon, you can develop a creative LinkedIn campaign to do outreach, with an attempt to set up meetings prior to the conference or introduce yourself to noted speakers. Or, if you’re pushing out a new product, you can reach out to your network on LinkedIn for feedback and validation. Hearing from people in your related field can prove much more valuable than the feedback you might get from friends and family. Active involvement with LinkedIn groups and engagement with your favorite companies is a great way to make the most of LinkedIn.

In using LinkedIn as an effective business development tool, it’s important to consider the value proposition you’re offering. You don’t want to waste anyone’s time, and this holds especially true if you’re reaching out to a person in a powerful position to help you achieve your business goals. If you’re asking someone for a meeting, think about what you can offer him or her. Is it as simple as a cup of coffee, or can you offer to introduce that person to someone else who might be in a position to help them? Having an idea in mind of how you can help them is a great way to facilitate contact, and creates a more tailored experience than just a sales pitch.

Like any campaign, using LinkedIn as an outreach tool requires testing and optimization. Experiment with InMail subject lines and outreach strategies. Creating goals can help you measure the success of your campaign, and can help you revise future campaigns to make them more effective.

If you’re having trouble managing your contacts due to the sheer breadth of them, look into using tools such as Contactually to help store and manage your contacts. This program provides easy ways to keep in touch, so that your contacts remain on your “hot leads” list until you close a deal.

Contact our team of strategists today for more LinkedIn expertise!

How to Develop a Social Media Strategy for Your Personal Brand

When most people log into Facebook, it’s not usually because they’re thinking about how to improve the strength of their personal brand. However, if you ask the best marketers at our Orlando marketing agency, they’ll tell you that they’ve learned how to carefully curate a personal social media strategy to reflect who they are.

It’s a fact that people who head large corporations often develop a large social media following, in spite of the fact that the personal brand and the company’s brand are not one in the same. People who’ve developed strong personal brands can become thought leaders, and can capitalize on that through valued connections, speaking engagements and strategic partnerships.

To become one of those people, think of your social media as a gateway to your own brand. The team at our Florida ad agency thinks you can get the most out of it by taking the following steps:

1. STAY TRUE TO YOUR VALUES.

It’s important for people who are developing their personal brand on social media to stay true to their values. If you desire to be known as a political junkie, don’t be afraid to use social media to pose difficult questions. If you’re more interested in cultivating an atmosphere of positivity, it makes much more sense to stay away from mean-spirited jokes or controversy. Whatever those values are, adhere to them closely as you build up your brand presence.

2. AIM FOR CONVERSATION.

Celebrities like Lady Gaga and Britney Spears are so popular on Twitter because of their constant interactions with fans. They encourage followers to tweet at them and share their experiences with them, which helps to cultivate relationships in a sometimes passive medium. While it may not be possible to respond to each and every post or comment, making an attempt to engage with and respond to your audience is a great way to build up rapport and credibility.

3. PROVIDE CONTENT ON A REGULAR BASIS.

If you have a background in branding, you’re probably familiar with HootSuite and how to use it to schedule posts to keep content flow steady. [quote]Those who are not using HootSuite for their personal brands are at a distinct disadvantage.[/quote] Try using the platform to set up posts throughout the week, and see how much better your postings do when they’re scheduled rather than on the fly.

4. REPURPOSE CONTENT.

Does a topical event in the news relate to something you’ve posted about in the past? If that’s the case, it’s completely acceptable to repurpose it and share it again. Those who keep active blogs can also post tips from there directly to social media, which is a great way to keep the content flowing when there’s no time to research and post something new.

5. KEEP IT INTERESTING.

Interesting content — and lots of it — is the key to keeping followers interested on social media. While we can’t all be the Shakespeare of the internet, we can decide to post only content that truly resonates with us in some way, thereby avoiding cliches or “fluff.” The days of posting what you ate for breakfast should be gone, especially with so many interesting things happening in our daily lives and the compelling content being posted each day on the internet. Need inspiration? Checked out LinkedIn’s Pulse for new content from a variety of fields.

For ideas about how to revamp your personal brand, contact our team of creative professionals today, and explore our wide array of services!

Resort Marketing Tips That Turn Small Budgets Into Big Results

In the hospitality business, it’s sometimes necessary to slash budgets, and unfortunately, sometimes the people who suffer that the most are the people in the marketing department. Hotel and resort managers may be hesitant to invest money in projects unless they can see a clear return on investment, which is sometimes not easy to prove in the world of marketing, and in social media marketing in particular.

However, companies that are struggling with small marketing budgets should look at this as a competitive advantage. At the outset, it seems counterintuitive: with large budgets, shouldn’t the businesses be able to spend more money to get the things they need?

Smaller budgets push hospitality marketers to work more creatively. It allows them to focus more closely on one facet of marketing that is often overlooked by larger corporations: the people.

That’s right. Sometimes, hotel chains or mega resorts become so big that it seems as though they somehow forget about the community that got them there in the first place. By thinking small and using it as an advantage, these smaller businesses are able to facilitate more direct relationships with their customers, something that larger businesses try unsuccessfully to do all the time.

For tourism and resort marketers and others in the hospitality industry, here are a few tips from our Florida ad agency that will help guide your resort marketing efforts, even if you’re working on a shoestring budget.

1. Be Genuine

There’s something humbling about receiving an email from a mom and pop, independently owned businesses that take pride in offering visitors impeccable service. People in these types of businesses are there because they want to be there; unlike at some major chains where people are simply there because they need the job.[quote]By putting the emphasis on the relationship with the customer, the smaller shop has an advantage in that it can tailor its service to the needs of the individual.[/quote]

2. Use Social Media as a Way to Engage the Community

When dealing in social media, the only budgetary restriction is time. But, the platform itself is free, and by investing in a good social media manager, a company can reap the rewards of someone who is skilled at interacting with people, who is also a customer service master and a pro brand advocate.

Since some of the best marketers a brand can have are influencers within an engaged community, allocating some investment in social media can help the company grow its social media presence, thereby helping it stay connected to its audience. For resort marketers, this is especially valid, as your audience may be comprised of people from all over the world.

3. Show That You’re Reliable and Trustworthy

Another advantage that smaller resorts have over big chains is that they have a more intimate connection to their customers. Who hasn’t tried to contact a large hotel chain and ended up feeling like more of a robot than a human being? Resorts that offer a hands-on approach to marketing and customer service can prove they have their customers’ best interests at heart. And, at its core, real resort marketing is about being authentic, and going above and beyond customers’ expectations.

4. Keep It Simple

So, you don’t have it in your budget to run a big TV ad takeover or a massive billboard campaign. That doesn’t matter, because working with a smaller budget allows resort marketers to tailor their marketing efforts to the people who are most likely to offer a return on that investment. Rather than trying to copy the pros, try instead to simplify marketing efforts to see how members of the community react. Chances are, they will appreciate the attention to detail that goes into these types of marketing efforts, and will reward your business by thinking of your resort first when it comes to making travel plans.

In these days of high-tech services and constant distraction, sometimes people just want to make a connection with another human being. People are hungry for this social connection that seems to be lost in the digital age. For large businesses, that connection can seem impossible, but for smaller resorts, it seems like a natural way to allow employees and staff to be truly authentic in their communication and marketing efforts.

The team here at our Florida marketing agency can help your resort marketing team to grow the brand on any budget. For more ideas and suggestions as to how to establish authenticity in your brand, contact us for a consultation.

Email Marketing Strategies To Ensure Higher Open Rates

Email can be a drag. You’ve seen it – the constant emails from businesses begging for your money, offering not-so-great “deals” and “limited time offers,” emails that you immediately delete or leave as unread, depending on whether you’re super organized, or are a bit of an email hoarder, like me.
But wait… every once in a while, there’s that email from that brand you love: Nike, Bloomingdale’s, or maybe Tom’s. It’s the one you always open, even if you know you’re not in the market for anything they’re offering anytime soon.[quote]You know once you open it, you’ll see something that inspires you, and reminds you why you love the brand in the first place.[/quote]

These awesome messages are rare, but guess what? You can make awesome emails for your brand, too! It’s part art and part science, but get the materials together, and the team at our Orlando marketing agency assures you that you too can entice fans to open your emails every time.

The Art & Design Of It

You don’t have to be the Frank Lloyd Wright of email design to make a great-looking email. There are decent, customizable templates all over the internet, and for just a little more, you can hire people to make it for you. Once you have the template set, you can (and should) use that as a resource for all your email marketing for quite a while, so don’t be afraid to put a few bucks to get the real deal, as opposed to the a cheesy knockoff.

But it’s not just making a beautiful email that pops out toward the reader – it’s also about making sure it has a great voice, and that the voice matches your brand. Are you a quirky company? Then why not include a silly fact or joke on your list? More serious? Then be sure to use elegant language and great imagery.

Also, in your email blasts, there’s no room for typos. Get a second opinion before you try to connect with your thousands of loyal patrons.

[quote] Take a peek at how email marketing served a beneficial purpose for an Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children donorship event – thanks to BIGEYEs’ effective strategies! [/quote]

The Science Of It

Okay, so it looks great, it’s well-written and there are no glaring issues that might make it seem unprofessional. But, you’re still not seeing results. What gives?

Well, unfortunately, good visual design isn’t enough. Even though your email might look stunning, there are also unfortunately a few user experience cues to take in order to design the perfect email for your brand.

The best way to test user experience is to get feedback. Not from your friends and family, because they’ll always want to tell you how great you are, but from – you guessed it – the people who will actually be reading your emails. Send them a survey using Survey Monkey or any one of the other dozens of survey programs out there.

You can also do A/B testing to test the effectiveness of things like subject lines, the wording of your call to action, and photo placement. When testing, think of the scientific method: Question, research, hypothesis, test, analyze and share your results. Following this method will give you great data sets that you can put into action on future emails.

The Result: Best Email Marketing Ever!

The reality is, you don’t have to rely on terrible puns and silly cat photos to help sell your product through email marketing. Try these tips from our Florida marketing agency to create clear and effective emails, and watch as your emails become the only ones that don’t directly to the archive.

Contact BIGEYE today and let us develop an email marketing campaign for your company!