Friday, June 22, 2018

11 Branding Tips For A Better Company Image

When it comes to branding, most people think about logos and colors. But branding is about more than just recognizability. It's about the impact that you have on a customer and how it sends a message. The first impression can say a lot about a company, its values and what it does. Entrepreneurs should be thinking about the unintended impacts of branding. 

We asked members of the Forbes Agency Council about what to consider when thinking about branding assets. The answers given reveal a lot about what makes a good slogan, logo, name and more. After all, a company's branding is a visible, and often tangible, extension of the company. 

Forbes Agency Council members offer their best tips.

1. Clearly Identify Yourself 

While catchy names and cool graphics can be interesting, they do not do a great job of telling your story. Your company name, logo and slogan should provide insights into what you do and the products or services you offer. If you miss this opportunity, you will spend valuable time and energy on explaining the basics. That is time that could be used to further develop a relationship or share key benefits. - Korena Keys, KeyMedia Solutions 

2. Make It Easy For People To Understand 

Make it easy for people to understand what you do. Too many names are clever wordplay or have no meaning. Also, be certain to adequately find a campaign to publicize the brand. Sufficient publicity can do a huge amount to define the brand. - Peter Prodromou, Racepoint Global 

3. Let Your Brand Tell A Story 

Let your name, slogan and logo tell a story. Having a clear message behind your business will allow the consumer to grasp the pillars that your company embodies. - Danny Fritz, SBX Group 

4. Consider What Your Customer Will Think 

We've been a part of a lot of new logo designs and I'm routinely surprised that the customer is not considered during the process. Most times, the logo, slogan and company name are thought of by the entrepreneur before having even one customer. If you like a high-tech look and feel and are selling to an earthy, wholesome group, there will be a mismatch. Your logo or brand won't resonate with your chosen customers. Define your customer, then create your brand to attract that customer. Are you Toyota or Lexus? Payless or Tom Ford? Walmart or Target? - David Kovacs, Allegra Princeton 


5. Ask Why You Are Doing This 

You have a business that sells a product, but why do you sell that product? Of course, we all want to make money, but selling something to make money won't motivate the consumer to buy into your brand. Ask yourself: What difference will it make in the lives of the consumer who buys it? Start by building a foundation of who and why you are selling what you sell and work up from there. - Rebecca Kowalewicz, Clearbridge Branding Agency 

6. Create A Liquid Experience 

The most important part of branding today is creating a liquid experience. To many, that means repeating the same slogans and looks across all platforms. That is a mistake. A liquid experience is a cohesive branding strategy but also one that takes into consideration the user and audience in an intimate way. My advice when working on a first impression is to first work on the audience. Better yet, think about the tribe you want to reach and create a cohesive yet customized branding version for a peak user experience. - Jennifer Barbee, Destination Innovate 

7. Be Creative And Approachable  

The best company branding is a combination of creativity and approachability. When considering a name, logo and brand aesthetic, consider your audience as well as your brand category. There's a reason we go to Zappos for shoes rather than The most successful brands adopt a creative spin without deviating too much from what their prospective consumers expect from their product or service. -   David Harrison,   EVINS   

8. Design For The Long-Term 

Consider how your branding and logo will hold up over time. Communicating that a brand is cutting-edge or uber-hip may drive you to the trendiest of design trends. However, you may want to think about how to bring that message to life in a way that won’t look dated in five or 10 years. The crossed-arrow look might be in today, but if you plan to be around for a while, think again. - Keri Witman, Cleriti 

9. Try The ROI Principle 

We follow the ROI principle: relevant, original and impactful. If our brand strategy and brand development work achieves these standards, the client will make a desirable first impression in the marketplace. We take time to make sure that our clients are aligned with these ROI standards and encourage them to test our work with their past, current and "want to have" customers. Social media is a great platform to test ideas before taking them to the next level. - Alannah Tsimis Sandehl, IDM Brand 

10. Think About Extensibility 

Your branding assets are often consumers’ first impression of your company. What’s one factor to consider when coming up with a company name, slogan, logo, etc.? Understand that your business will go through changes as it pertains to the products it sells, the region it sells in and perhaps even the audience it is selling to. It’s important to create something unique to your business that represents the integrity of your company, but make sure it’s extensible enough to weather the changes that are sure to come over the years. - Lori Paikin, NaviStone® 

11. Pass The Radio Test

Depending on the type of your business, this can be super important. You want to make sure that your company's name is something that people can spell easily when they first hear it. If they can't, then you risk missing out on opportunities from people that just couldn't find you after (mis)typing your name. If I hear your company name on the radio, I should be able to find you right away. -   Rafael Romis,   Weberous Web Design  


Image Credit: FAC Members

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11 Reasons Your Email Marketing Sucks — and 41 Ways to Fix It

Today’s inboxes are hammered with digital marketing messages, spam, forwards, newsletters, and notifications. People check email at red lights and while watching TV. (Don’t get us started on the ones checking mail at the movies.) While email marketing remains the best way to reach leads and existing customers, it’s harder than ever to cut through the clutter. Avoid these common email marketing mistakes and you’ll come out on top.

1. You’re not segmenting your email list.

Who are you talking to? Picture your Netflix account. You probably have profiles set up. You, your wife, your kids. Maybe you share an account with your parents. Each audience has unique tastes. The viewer who loves car chase movies doesn’t want to watch British period romances. The viewer who watches Pokemon doesn’t want to catch up on Game of Thrones.

Show people what they want to see. Your email marketing list consists of just as many audiences. College-aged kids looking for a fun night out. Sales professionals trying to make a big win. Retirees who have put off their next doctor’s appointment and want to feel better. The days of spray and pray marketing are over and today’s consumers expect highly-targeted messages that give them what they want, when they want it.

Want another reason to segment? According to MailChimp, segmented campaigns see over 100% higher open rates than non-segmented campaigns. They also have higher open rates, lower spam reports, and lower instances of unsubscribing.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Segment your email marketing contacts into lists and sublists based on customer data.
  • Don’t forget to create suppression lists. These are people you’re not marketing to at the moment.
  • Add checkboxes to forms to gather additional information—zip code, birthday, interest groups—from your visitors.
  • Don’t forget to be GDPR compliant.

2. You’re not A/B testing.

This isn’t time for instincts. When it comes to email, the only thing you should trust your gut for is digesting your food. Clever marketers don’t try to predict whether or not an audience will love a call to action, subject line, or image. They use A/B testing.

Go to war. Think about it as a battle to the death. Using the email automation software of your choice and a robust recipient list, test your content to see what performs best. Solid programs will send your test emails to sample audiences, and automatically send the winner to the bulk of your contact list. No more guesswork.

This is a rare opportunity to know exactly what’s working and build on that. A/B testing helps you determine what your audience is connecting with (and what they’re not connecting with.) Your emails will consistently perform better when you optimize them regularly.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • A/B test the subject line of your next big email promotion.
  • Test the next email’s image, offer, or CTA. Only test one thing at a time. This is a science experiment.
  • Keep your variables to an absolute minimum to know which changes mattered.

3. You’re not automating your email marketing.

You have a lot to say to your prospects and current clients. But, you probably don’t have time to manually send all the emails you know you should. Reminders, newsletters, thank-yous, promotional offers, and so on. Email marketing could take you all day …. That’s where email automation comes in.

Get your finger on the trigger. The key to a successful automated nurture campaign is to first know what actions or behavior should trigger the email workflow. Triggers are actions or behaviors on your website or at your location, such as filling out a form, downloading a coupon, or abandoning a cart.

Remember: email marketing is about nurturing, not selling. Dig deep into what your recipients want and need. How can you help them solve a pain point? Remind them how good it feels to actually enjoy their destination wedding rather than agonize over all the planning. Offer tips that help them apply for a law degree with less stress. Close with a helpful promo code, or the opportunity to book another experience.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Map your customer journey to find the “triggers” for your email marketing.
  • Set up automated workflows that move guests through the funnel by delivering the right message (and the right deal!) at the right time.
  • Make sure workflows move customers out of one list and into a new one as they evolve from a lead to a new customer to a loyal one.
  • Add helpful reminder workflows. Shopping holiday coming up? Remind them to grab that gift.

4. Your newsletter is selling something.

Don’t send a crappy newsletter. People sign up for newsletters because they anticipate value in their inbox. While that value may come in the form of exclusive discounts and opportunities, it should also make them smile. It shouldn’t waste even 30 seconds of their time with content that’s all about how great you business is.

Short. Sweet. Helpful. Your newsletter should be genuinely fun to read. (Not just fun for your mom to read.) That means limit “news” unless it’s truly interesting, don’t toot your own horn, and keep it nice and short. Think brief tips, at-a-glance event schedules, and exclusive coupons. The end.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Revise your current newsletter. (You do have a newsletter, right?) Would you read it?
  • Review delivered, open and click-through rates.
  • Establish benchmarks and share more meaningful content to increase those numbers.
  • If it isn’t working, A/B test different subject line styles, delivery days and times, images, and content.


5. Your emails don’t work on mobile devices.

Be responsive or go home. Around 80% of your contacts will open your emails on their phones. To get the full picture of what that means, imagine what most people are doing when they open their email on their phone. (Hint: They’re often at a red light.) Your email marketing needs to speak to those people, even if you think they should put their phones down while driving.

No more squinting. Responsive emails adjust instantly and elegantly depending on the screen size of the viewer. Every single email you send should be coded to be easy to read and scroll on a cell phone screen or on a tablet. Emails that aren’t mobile-friendly get deleted because no one has time to try to read microscopic fonts or click on tiny calls-to-action. (What is this, an email for ants??).

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Start using a responsive email template.
  • Email code is notoriously finicky across platform, software and screen combinations. Use your email software testing tool on every email you send.
  • Remember the red-light reader. Put the most important information up front and make it large enough to understand in a 5-second scan.
  • CTAs should be big enough to tap with a finger. And not too close together.

6. There’s no call to action in your emails.

Make something happen. Every email you send should have a purpose. (A strategic purpose, not an existential purpose.) Even helpful, non-salesy emails should have a call to action. Book a consultation. Attend an event. Read a blog post. Download a coupon.

Emphasize the action part. There’s nothing wrong with falling back on the old stalwart Learn More as long as you’re asking your reader to do something. Stick to action words. Be as concrete as possible. Book a Massage is better than Start Relaxing. Email marketing calls to action are not an exact science, and you should anticipate tweaking and optimizing them on an ongoing basis to get the results you want.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Review all of your marketing and nurturing emails. Make sure they have a call to action that aligns with the appropriate stage in your customer’s journey.
  • Set up tracking links using or a platform like HubSpot so you can test the CTAs across a variety of campaigns.
  • Test and test and test again. Colors, copy, sizes, and placements can all affect CTA performance.

7. Your emails have too many calls to action.

Whoa, slow down. People don’t like too many choices unless we’re talking about those amazing soda machines that let you make peach ginger ale and grape sparkling water. Many marketing emails have failed by containing too many links, effectively paralyzing the reader.

Focus. It’s normal to have an impulse to offer your readers lot of options. For family entertainment center marketing, it might make sense to pull out all the stops. Pizza. Rides. Escape rooms. Drink deals. Cool events. But to get the best click-through rates on your emails, you must narrow it down to one, or maybe two, calls to action. You can always send more emails, and each one will perform better if you focus your call to action energy on one invitation to click.

And while you’re focusing, make sure that you send your reader where they think they’re going. Don’t bait and switch. That makes people angry, and angry people don’t schedule fun into their agendas. (Even though they probably should.)

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Audit your emails and double check for too many links. Narrow it down to one impactful, compelling call to action.
  • Newsletters get a bit of a pass here, if done right.
  • Use text-based links and a few choice buttons, and keep it as easy to read as possible.
  • Check the language of your call-to-action against the link destination. Are you delivering on the CTA’s promise?

8. Your emails are too long.

The clock is ticking. Remember that person reading the email at a red light? Well, that red light just turned green. And your email is marked as read, and they’re never going to open it again. Your email was too long.

Streamline every email marketing communication. When you compose your emails and your newsletter, imagine your reader in line at the grocery store or about to be called back from the waiting room at the dentist. You have mere seconds to get your message across. Use quick, snappy headlines. Don’t oversell or over think or over describe anything.

Emails should be visually appealing and simple. Small chunks of text with easy to read buttons and plenty of color contrast. Think mobile first at all time and you’ll produce marketing emails that your guests can digest and act on no matter where they’re reading. (Because yes, they could very well be on the toilet.)

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Fall out of love with your words! Keep it simple and to the point.
  • Read your emails out loud and make sure they’re conversational and quick.
  • See if you can shorten your message by at least 30%. Now do it again.
  • Does the design of the email help a reader scan for information. Colors, icons, and buttons help guide readers quickly.

9. Your emails have the same old subject lines.

Subject lines are the gatekeepers. If you can’t get a reader to open, you’ve lost the battle. Your thoughtful call to action, beautiful images, and elegant words will go to waste. So how do you cut through the clutter of an inbox? Very carefully.

Surprise them into opening. Plumbers around the country send very similar emails. Your industry is no different. You’re working against a flood of information that people are becoming increasingly numb to. Subject lines are your chance to stand out.

Consider personalization, emoji, and surprising language. This is where the A/B testing you’ve decided to embrace comes heavily into play. Try testing literal subject lines against very short, baffling subject lines. Test giving away the contents of an email versus offering no insight into the content of an email. Your recipients will show you what works and what doesn’t, and you can build on that — without growing complacent. This is ongoing work.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Pay attention to what gets you to click. Pay attention to what gets your leads to click.
  • Test a wide variety of subject lines.
  • Avoid the Promotions tab and the SPAM folder by keeping salesy exclamation marks and percentage symbols out of subject lines. Also, emojis are fun, but too many can trigger the SPAM police.
  • Try A/B testing with short, long, personalized and generic subject lines.

10. You’re not tracking email marketing analytics.

Do the (fun) math. Email analytics are useful. They’re also addictive once you start looking. Don’t shy away from these numbers. They’re there to guide you and steer you away from judging the success of emails based on your instincts or feelings. Data doesn’t lie.

Optimize emails based on past performance. Any email automation software worth its price will give you a ton of insight into email performance. Never send it and forget it. Schedule time to regularly dig in and monitor the performance of your emails. Pay attention to open rates and click-through rates. Track how often you lose subscribers.

Data is only valuable with context, so compare against average industry performance and keep in mind that segmented, targeted emails will always perform better than emails you throw at your entire audience. Both have value in their own right. There’s no magic number that indicates success, but you should strive to improve the numbers you see and ensure that they don’t consistently drop.

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Get familiar with your email software to see what you can measure.
  • Set benchmarks based on your average open rates and click-through rates.
  • Experiment with various elements to try to improve those numbers every time you send an email.

11. Your emails are all about you.

Don’t be the annoying guy at the cocktail party. Ultimately, people don’t want to hear about how great you are. They want to know what’s in it for them — or better yet, they just want their lives to be improved in some way by the media they engage with. Sometimes that’s a major perspective shift when you’re the person in charge of crafting marketing emails. But you can do it.

Provide value at every touchpoint. Value is a big, vague notion. In order to know what your guests find valuable, talk to them. Pay attention to how they interact with your emails. Survey them. Treat readers like humans, not pieces of data. Give them something useful in your emails, and the ROI will follow.

This can feel counterintuitive when you’re trying to move the needle and grow your business, but it comes down to this: If your emails read like advertisements, they will be ignored. Consistently. It takes more effort to send great emails, but the return is tangible if you nail it. You’ll convert contacts to leads, and you’ll delight existing guests who will mention you in car line, and in the break room, and via text — in all the places you can’t track. (Yet. The future will most certainly be increasingly creepy.)

Here’s how to fix it:

  • Figure out what your guests truly care about. (Open and click-through rates are a good place to get that information, or you can ask them!)
  • Make sure that every email you send focuses on the needs of the recipient, not the needs of your business. What value are you bringing? How are you making their day brighter?
  • With every email, ask yourself: Is this for me, or is this for my customers?

You can fix your email marketing. 

Testing frequently, nailing your frequency, providing value in the content you send and personalizing your messages are important, but it all comes back to respect. Respect your contacts and much of this will fall into place naturally.


Image Credit: N/A

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

5 Ways You Can Earn a Better ROI with Your Email Marketing Campaigns

Whether you’re marketing to consumers or other businesses, and regardless of the industry you’re in, these five key email marketing best practices have a direct effect on the success rates of your email marketing efforts.

1. Timing

Email marketing funnels include a sequence of messages that are automatically sent out (or “dripped”) at specific times. You set this timing up when you create the automation in your email marketing tool. Since the power of email conversion funnels is in their ability to remind, engage and persuade contacts to take specific actions, the timing of when people receive your messages matters a lot.

If you were speaking with someone, would you tell them something and then continue to remind them every five minutes? If you needed to call a prospect to close a sale, would you call them twice a day, every day, or every other day? How often is too often?

Most email recipients act on a message within 24 hours. Therefore, an automated sequence of messages should be configured to send messages every two days unless there is a deadline or other urgent reason that requires messages in your funnel to be sent more frequently. You can extend the number of days between messages when you reach the third message in a sequence so it doesn’t seem like you’re spamming people with too many messages. Your goal is to find the right balance that your audience will accept between staying in front of your contacts and looking like a spammer.

2. Offer

The heart of every email conversion funnel is the offer to your target audience—what they’ll get in exchange for taking the action you want. Your offer must be extremely relevant to the target audience and highly desirable, or they won’t be motivated to act. In other words, your email conversion funnel won’t convert. 

Therefore, spend time researching what your audience wants and needs. Search Google, online forums, question sites like and your competitors’ content to find the problems and pain points that your target audience is seeking solutions for, then offer those solutions in your email conversion funnels.

For example, you could create an email conversion funnel to motivate people to read your new case study, join your upcoming webinar, watch your latest video or buy your product or service. The trick is matching the offer to the audience depending on where they are in the buyer journey and where you want to move them to in your overall marketing funnel.

3. Subject line

It could be argued that the subject line of each message in your email conversion funnels is the most important element. The reason is simple: If your subject line isn’t powerful enough to convince people to click and open your messages, you have no way of converting those people. Your subject lines should be short enough to fully display in most email inboxes without being truncated. With that in mind, keep your subject lines shorter than 50 characters. The best subject lines are interesting and pique the recipient’s curiosity. Address the audience’s pain point and the solution you’re offering, but keep your subject line clear.

It’s also very important that the content of your messages matches the expectations created by your subject lines. Not only will recipients be unhappy when they click through a subject line to discover the content of the message is unrelated, but doing so can also destroy your chance of creating brand trust. Ultimately, you could lose conversions because of it and increase unsubscribes.


4. Design and messages

Make sure your messages are well designed and look professional to create the perception of quality and build trust with recipients. Furthermore, they should be optimized for all devices. This is particularly important since more than half of email messages are opened on mobile devices today.

Unless your product or service is complex, shorter messages are almost always better in email marketing. The truth is, most people don’t want to spend a lot of time reading email messages, so keeping your messages succinct is a good rule of thumb. Just make sure your messages are compelling, action-oriented and tap into recipients’ emotions. Explain what recipients get when they follow your call to action and how that action benefits them by addressing their pain point or solving their problem. In addition, be sure to use a real reply-to email address and your real name in your messages and signature to improve the authenticity and trust factor.

5. Follow-up

What happens when your email conversion funnel sequence is done? Don’t abandon people in the funnel when it’s over. Instead, make sure you continue to nurture and engage them with future email campaigns and automations based on the behaviors they display on your website and when interacting with your future email messages. This is essential even if the conversion funnel ended in a sale. The relationship isn’t over when someone makes a purchase. In fact, the relationship is even more important because it costs less to keep an existing customer and turn them into repeat customers and loyal brand advocates than to attract new customers.

For people who purchased products at the end of a conversion funnel, continue to send them your email newsletter as well as renurturing and re-engagement messages that continue to build a stronger relationship with them.

Image Credit: Tolgart | Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Thursday, June 14, 2018

These 5 Entrepreneurs Can Show You the Way Personal Branding Should Be Done

Never underestimate the power of a personal brand. The idea is simple: Use your personal identity as a branding platform separate from your corporate brand, relying on your personality and expertise to attract your own followers and build a reputation. Once in place, your personal brand can be used to support your main venture or provide a launchpad for your next one.

Creating a personal brand sounds easy, but in practice, it demands consistent ongoing attention, the right blend of tactics and of course, the right balance between your corporate and personal brand. And, as is often the case, one of the best ways to improve your own approach is to look to the approaches of others who’ve had success.

Take, for example, these five personal branding experts: 

1. Richard Branson

You know Branson as the visionary founder of Virgin Group, which started as a record shop and has since expanded into areas as diverse as space travel. The company thrives on its own merits but was certainly helped by Branson’s fun, outgoing and playful personality. He’s known for putting his employees first, and frequently blogs about his perspectives and experiences. If that weren’t enough, Branson has attempted to set several world records at physical feats (sometimes risking his life in the process) and is often acknowledged for his down-to-earth mindset.

Key takeaway: Likability is a huge bonus. If people think you’re friendly and easygoing, they’ll be more likely to follow you, and potentially more likely to buy whatever it is you’re selling.

2. Neil Patel

Neil Patel is a co-founder of Quicksprout, KISSMetrics, and Neil Patel Digital. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author and someone who's been named a top online influencer by The Wall Street Journal, Forbes and Entrepreneur, is a current or former contributor at many major online media publications (including Entrepreneur) and has a blog that generates 2 million visitors per month.

Moreover, he's spoken at over 270 conferences and companies, has a Twitter account with over 294,000 followers and has a YouTube channel with over 3 million views. Oh, and he has a podcast, too.

Key takeaway: More isn’t necessarily better, but making your personal brand available on more channels can open you up to more possibilities than you’d otherwise find. You’ll reach a bigger audience and build brand recognition in the process.

3. Rand Fishkin

The co-founder of Moz, Fishkin has stepped away from the day-to-day operations of the company to focus on a new startup, SparkToro. Fishkin still contributes regularly to the Moz blog, and is well known as an influencer in the SEO industry. He’s also blogging for SparkToro and is active on Twitter, with more than 410,000 followers.

Key takeaway: A personal brand can be the connective tissue between one venture and the next. Think of it as an insurance policy to guard your reputation and provide a springboard to your next opportunity.

4. Elon Musk

Musk’s personal brand is the one commonality in his complex web of companies and vested interests, which includes Tesla, SpaceX, the Boring Company and PayPal (not to mention the Musk Foundation). Musk can often be found cracking jokes with people on Twitter, and is known for a host of strange personality quirks and stories about his background, including paying his way through college by hosting parties with cover charges (then eventually dropping out) and hosting famously short meetings.

Key takeaway: Be yourself. Exposing some of your strange habits and unconventional choices will serve to differentiate you from the masses, which is vital when millions of other profiles like yours are competing for attention.

5. Sheryl Sandberg

You might recognize Sandberg's name as the COO of Facebook, but it’s her book, Lean In, which has helped her to amass a fortune, establish a powerful reputation and influence millions of professional women. This has happened through, which helps women in more than 160 countries accomplish more in their personal and professional lives.

Part of Sandberg’s power is her open, public personality; she openly discussed the tragedy of her husband’s death a few years ago and partnered with a psychologist to write a new book about overcoming adversity (Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy).

Key takeaway: Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable and connect to people who may be sharing your experiences. Personal brands are, after all, personal.

There are really no drawbacks to starting your own personal brand, short of the hours it takes to get one rolling (and maintain it indefinitely). Accordingly, it’s in your best interest to spend a few hours establishing a personal blog and potentially some social media profiles for your personal brand.

Even two hours a week spent writing, socializing and engaging with your followers could be enough to establish the momentum you need to support your current or future business.


Image Credit: John Lamparski | Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Friday, June 8, 2018

3 Common Mistakes Seasonal Businesses Make with Email Marketing

It’s no secret that small businesses rely on email marketing to communicate with customers, but what if you’re a seasonal business? Does email marketing have the same results? Are there differences in best practices? Do seasonal businesses need to be sending emails all year long?

The short answer is yes.

If you’re a seasonal business, you might be making some email marketing mistakes that could be costing you big time, resulting in lost sales, poor email analytics, annoyed customers, and even the risk of being forgotten.

Keep your marketing thriving year-round with automated email marketing tools from Constant Contact.

Are you making any of these common mistakes?

1. Going quiet during the off season

The biggest problem with not sending emails during the off season is that your customers forget who you are and how much they love you! This could lead to unsubscribes or poor email results with future emails.

Heidi’s Hill is a small scale ski slope in rural New Hampshire. Since they are only open and operating during winter months, that is the only time they are using email marketing. This seems to be working for them, however, the email they send out at the end of fall and beginning of their season does not perform well, and business is off to a slow start.

The reason their email performed poorly is because their contacts have not been thinking about them for about 6 months, or have even forgotten about Heidi’s altogether. If this business had been keeping in touch with customers during the off season, customers would be anticipating the start of the ski season and excited to see Heidi’s emails pop into their inbox.

Tip: Try sending at least one email each month to keep your business top of mind throughout the off season. This takes a very small effort and will ensure your customers stay familiar with your business.

2. Sending too many emails once the season kicks off

Your re-opening should be a big event and be promoted with email marketing. However, if your customers haven’t heard from you at all during off season, all of a sudden seeing a ton of emails from you could be overwhelming. You risk annoying your contacts and even getting marked as spam.

Another issue that comes with only sending emails during the open season is that there is a shorter time frame to communicate all of your information. Emails end up getting stuffed to the brim with content that will most likely perform poorly due to lack of focus. Remember, email marketing should be like a marathon, not a sprint.

Tip: Easing into opening season by sending consistently far in advance is like greasing up the wheels before a big race. It’s a great way to prepare your customers for the promotions to come.


3. Overlooking the value of consistent communication

As a best practice, consistency is very important in email marketing. Whether you send weekly, biweekly or monthly, just keep it consistent. This will build momentum, and your customers will come to anticipate and genuinely enjoy seeing you in their inbox, solidifying your relationship with them.

This relationship with your customers will not only knock your email results out of the park, it will keep you top of mind when they are ready to buy.

Tip: Create a schedule and stick to it! If you have a busy time frame coming up, plan ahead so your email marketing consistency won’t suffer.

Start thinking about how you can fix these common mistakes

If you’re seeing that your business is making these same mistakes, don’t worry, fixing them is easy. Email marketing keeps the conversation going all year, engaging your customers and setting yourself up for more success once your season starts.

Image Credit: Constant Contact

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

How to Make Your Emails More Relevant and Effective

As an email marketer, it’s your job to recognize and pay attention to the needs of your subscribers. When someone signs up for your email list, it’s because they expect to get something worthwhile in return from you. To succeed in email marketing, you have to live up to the promises you make to your subscribers.

Crafting the right email for your subscribers is very important. Without a solid strategy in place, you risk sending emails to your subscribers that don’t meet the mark. Backed by data and a lot of insights, the team at EmailMonks has created a list of 6 questions that will help you create more effective and relevant emails and a better overall experience for the subscribers on your list.

The goal with this list is to help you bridge the gap between what you want to achieve as a marketer, and what your subscribers are hoping to receive from you.

Here are the 6 questions you should consider when crafting and sending emails to subscribers:

1. Is the reply-to email validated?

Picture this scenario: your email has a “from name” and a neat subject line. But for some reason, it’s not getting the open rate you expected it to get. Can you guess why? The problem may lie in the reply email address that you have listed. These days, in order to succeed with email marketing, you need to invest in personalization whenever possible. That means using first names in subject lines and the body of the email, segmenting your list, and using an email address from an actual human being as your reply email in the campaigns you send.

Imagine you are the customer. You receive an email from the brand you have subscribed to. The content makes you want to reply or ask a question. You click on reply-to, type in your email and send. As you wait by for days expecting an answer, the email has been sent to a no-reply email address. Because of this experience, you’re led to believe that the brand is not customer friendly, and you unsubscribe from the list.

In this example, the reply email address you chose to use as a business left a bad taste in the mouth of your subscriber. Instead of using email marketing as an opportunity to nurture a relationship, your email has led to an increase in unsubscribes. .

How do you handle this situation?

If you don’t want to receive emails on the ‘from address”, create an “info@” email address, which is quite common. Use it in place of the no-reply addresses, and send your emails.

When your subscribers can see that your reply email address is functional or comes from an actual person, they are much more likely to reply to your emails. Worried about managing the engagement that you’ll get from using a real email address as opposed to a no-reply email address? You can set an autoresponder to the emails received, which gives you some time to see the email and respond with the actual answer.

2. What’s the opening line?

89% of marketers say that email is their primary channel for lead generation. With this in mind, it’s vital that you send email campaigns that your subscribers actually want to open.

Subject lines play a significant role in whether or not a subscriber will open an email.

Not convinced? Consider this:

35% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone.

So as a marketer, the question you need to ask yourself is this: how can you write subject lines that drive action and persuade your subscribers to actually open the emails you send?

As it turns out, personalization is key.

Subject lines personalized with recipient’s first name, can lift open rates by 20%!

Saying thanks can also help.

If you use the words ‘thank you’ in your email subject lines, engagement can skyrocket to 62%.

Adding emojis to your subject line can also increase the open rates for your email. With emojis, you can to say more with fewer characters.

3. Have you segmented the list yet?

To boost the effectiveness of your campaign, you should also consider taking the time to segment your list.

Your business caters to different audience types who are dwelling in various lifecycle stages. As a result, the kind of content they expect can differ. If you blast the same email to your entire list, you risk sending emails to people that aren’t relevant, which can lead to an increase in unsubscribes. This is why you should segment your audience according to their preferences.

Consider this:

51% of marketers say that email list segmentation is the most effective personalization tactics.

There are various benefits associated with segmentation of email lists.

Marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns.

So how can you get started with segmentation? Kick things off by choosing to segment your list based on demographics or audience behaviour. At the end of the day, you can find success by ensuring your segmentation strategy is in line with the needs, expectations, and desires of your audience.

4. Have you included the CTA?

An email is incomplete without a call-to-action. If your audience is not compelled to take any action, you may not be able to achieve your marketing goals.

There are a lot of factors that can make a CTA ineffective in an email campaign. Sometimes the button is too small or, the color is off-putting. In some cases, instead of being led to the discounts page, the subscriber mistakenly reaches the home or main page of the website. This can irk your subscriber, and drive them to engage less with the campaigns you send to them in the future.

Here are tips to create the perfect CTA for your email:

Keep it as precise, clear and straightforward as possible

Use action words to compel the audience to click on it

Use colors that ensure the CTA button stands out

Reduce friction or confusion by only including one CTA in your email (emails with a single CTA have shown to increase clicks 371% and sales 1617%)

5. When are you sending your emails?

Reaching out to the customer at the right time is crucial for the success of your email campaign. If you send an email when your subscribers are sleeping, you might lose out on a possible conversion. That’s why you need to identify the right time and day to send your emails.

Many businesses believe that the best day and time to send out an email is Tuesday at 10 am. While this time of day and day of the week does tend to be effective for a lot of business and brands, it’s important to consider your specific audience and situation when deciding when to send out your campaigns.

It’s also worth noting that the best time to send emails can differ depending on whether you’re operating as a B2C or B2C business.

The image below gives the best time and day to email B2B and B2C subscribers:

Here are a few tips to help you identify the time and day best suited to your audience:

Analyze the send and open rate data for your emails for a period of six months

Check the times and days for the following:
  • When subscribers opened the email
  • When subscribers clicked on the links in the email
  • When subscribers responded to the emails

Does your segmented list open the emails during holidays and weekends? What motivates them to click on your emails during these days?

With the answers to these questions, you should be able to determine the perfect send time and day for your subscriber list.

6. Have you personalized your emails?

Consider this fact about personalization in marketing:

60% of marketers struggle to personalize content in real-time, yet 77% believe real-time personalization is crucial.

You have already segmented the email list; you should now send content that you believe will prove to be useful to each individual on your list. If the email content you send is relevant, you’ll have a much better chance driving more conversions for your business.

To send relevant emails, you need to invest in personalization. Here’s why:

Personalized messages based on behaviour are 3x better than batch and blast.

Wrapping up

If you don’t give the subscriber what they are looking for at the right time, you might just lose out on a possible conversion.

As a marketer, you need to have a firm understanding of what each of your subscribers are looking for, and why they have subscribed to your email list. Knowing this information will help put you on the right path toward building more effective email marketing campaigns for your business.

How do you stay relevant to your subscribers? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

Image Credit: Propeller

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The 7 Legal Rules Your Emails Must Follow

The following excerpt is from Susan Gunelius’ book Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Business.

As an email marketer, you need to comply with laws that were put in place to protect consumers. While it might be tempting to buy a list of email addresses and just start sending messages to everyone on that list, this is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, you might be breaking the law. Second, you might be hurting your chances of your future email marketing messages getting into people's email inboxes, including inboxes belonging to your own customers. The bottom line is, your actions as an email marketer can affect the deliverability of your email today and in the future.

The most important law you need to know and follow in the United States is the CAN- SPAM Act of 2003. This law applies to all forms of commercial email messages and not just commercial email messages sent in bulk to lists of people. What makes a message commercial? It's not clearly defined in the Act, but it's probably broader than you think. For example, a commercial message doesn't have to promote a product or service directly to messages as be considered commercial. Even messages that promote content "any electronic on a commercial website -- such as a blog post, free ebook, mail message, educational article or tutorial -- would be considered commercial since they indirectly promote the company.

The cost for noncompliance can be very high, particularly since you can be charged penalties for each separate email violation up to $40,654. Furthermore, if your email messages violate other laws, such as those related to deceptive advertising, you could face even more fines or criminal penalties, including imprisonment.

There are seven primary requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act. Following is a basic explanation of each of the main requirements. If you always err on the side of caution and assume messages sent from your company are commercial advertisements or promotions (even if they're not directly advertising or promoting a product or service), then you should be safe.

Header information. The header information in your messages must not be false or misleading. This includes the information in the message's "From," "To," and "Reply To" fields as well as the routing information. In other words, your messages should accurately identify both the person and business that initiated the message. Furthermore, the header information should include the originating domain (which is typically your business' web domain) and real email address.

Subject line. The subject line of your email messages must reflect the true content of the message. Don't try to conceal what the message is about with a clever subject line. Instead, the subject line should clearly explain what the recipient will get when they open the message. Both inaccurate and vague subject lines could get you in trouble.

Ad disclosure. You must identify that the message is an ad or promotional in nature. The good news is that the CAN-SPAM Act provides a great deal of flexibility in terms of how you disclose this information. The most important thing to understand is that somewhere in your message, you must conspicuously explain that your message is promotional (even if it's indirectly promotional) or an advertisement. Leave no room for confusion here.

Location. You must include your physical address in your messages. This has to be your valid postal address, which means it can be your street address or a post office box registered with the U.S. Postal Service. It could also be a private mailbox that you registered with a commercial mail receiving agency, but make sure that agency was established under postal service regulations or it won't meet the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Unsubscribe option. Your messages must include an easy and obvious way to unsubscribe if recipients want to opt out of receiving email messages from you in the future. You cannot create conditions to opt out, such as requiring a person to pay a fee or provide any personally identifiable information aside from an email address. Furthermore, the opt-out process must not require a person to do more than send a reply email message or visit one web page. If you send multiple types of messages (e.g., newsletters, product updates and so on), you can offer a way for people to choose which types of email messages they want to opt out of receiving from you. However, you must also provide a way for them to opt out of receiving all messages from you.

Opt-out completion. After you send a message, recipients must have 30 days to unsubscribe. If someone unsubscribes, you must honor that request within 10 business days. Once a person unsubscribes, you're not allowed to transfer or sell that person's email address (individually or as part of a list) to anyone else (unless the company you're transferring the list to is helping you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act).

Third parties. If you hire another person or company to manage your email marketing, you're still responsible for complying with the CAN-SPAM Act. In fact, both you and the person or company handling your email marketing are responsible and could get in trouble if the law isn't followed. Therefore, make sure anyone you work with knows the laws and complies with them. You'll need to monitor their activities for compliance on an ongoing basis.

Image Credit: cnythzl | Getty Images

Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Monday, May 21, 2018

4 Ways Successful Email Marketing Campaigns Are Like Happy Marriages

Attraction. Courtship. Engagement. An event that signifies the beginning of a new union. And then: a long, mutually satisfying relationship.

We’re talking about a happy marriage, right?

Exactly. And about a successful email marketing campaign.

At first blush, they don’t seem to have much in common. But the similarities become clearer the more you compare them. “Like a marriage, email marketing is based on a relationship between two interested parties: a brand and a consumer,” writes Jason Warnock at Marketing Land. And, as in marriage, to be successful, an email marketing relationship must be built on a foundation of respect and be carefully nurtured.

Here are four additional attributes they share:

You need permission to get things started

Navigating the early stages of a relationship is tricky. Accurately assessing your intended’s receptivity to taking things to the next level requires patience and sensitivity to verbal and non-verbal cues. If you try to rush things, you are sure to be shut down.

In this regard, email marketing is much less complicated. You either have the OK to send your messages, or you don’t. If you rush things without permission your message will be ignored or caught up in a spam trap, and your reputation might suffer.
Permission is “Implied” or “expressed.”

“You have implied permission to email somebody if you have an existing business relationship with them,” writes Campaign Monitor. “This could mean they are a current customer, donate to your charity, or are an active member of your website, club or community.”

Without that implied permission, you will need a specific OK to send campaigns: “Express permission is granted when somebody specifically gives you permission to send them email campaigns, likely by entering their email address in a subscribe form on your website or entering their details into your in-store newsletter subscribe form.”

Engagement is a critical step

The next milestone on the road to marriage is engagement, which, according to Priceonomics, these days usually happens after about three years of dating. Email marketers are also looking eagerly to engagement – in a different sense of the word – but hope it can happen more quickly.

While engagement in its matrimonial meaning is usually signified by a shiny bauble on the bride-to-be’s left hand, email marketers must look to their metrics for visible signifiers of email marketing engagement.

“A subscriber who is positively engaged is someone who opens and clicks your campaigns or interacts with your brand online,” reports Mailchimp. “Engaged subscribers are likely to open your emails, and continue to purchase, donate, or support your organization or brand.”

In email marketing there is also a phenomenon called negative engagement, which is signaled by unsubscribes, getting flagged as spam and direct complaints. There have been instances of negative engagement on the road to marriage, too, although they are rare.

A special moment seals the deal

During a wedding ceremony, the bride and groom must state their intention – usually in response to a call to action from the officiant.

The email marketing equivalent of the bride and groom saying “I do” and slipping rings on each other is when a recipient clicks on a call to action. Both signify that a commitment has been made.

Crafting a successful call to action for an email marketing message, like crafting wedding vows, requires an investment in time and effort. And both tasks can be challenging to do well.

“Thirty-five percent of marketers say creating a meaningful CTA is one of the most challenging aspects of email marketing, according to a recent study,” reports Andrea Robbins on Business 2 Community. “To create a meaningful CTA, it should contain short, specific directions that guide the subscriber to make a purchase, download an eBook, or RSVP for an event. Buttons are visually appealing and draw the eye of subscribers, especially those reading your email on a smartphone. Make the button size noticeable and use a color that makes the button pop.”

And then it’s on to ‘happily ever after’ (hopefully)

Unlike weddings, in which vows are just exchanged once, that initial click on a CTA is, ideally, only the first of many. But, like a marriage needs nurturing to succeed, it’s important that email marketers not lose focus on the customer after that first sale takes place. The honeymoon period begins with the crafting of transactional messages that keep the customer informed once the order is placed.

“Transactional emails (like order confirmation and shipping confirmation emails) are often neglected by eCommerce marketers in favor of newsletters and promotional campaigns, however, they actually present a significant opportunity,” writes Aaron Beashel at Campaign Monitor. “In fact, 64% of consumers actually consider these the most valuable emails in their inbox, and they typically have 8x higher open and click-through rates than promotional emails.”


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Want to Be a Stronger Leader? Use this Map to Improve Your Alliances and Relationships

Relationships and alliances help you build momentum and move closer to your goals, They influence your outlooks and attitudes about what's happening around you. They even affect your longevity, resistance to disease, and mental wellbeing.

Yet in the hard work of building a business we often forget to be intentional about the allies we gather around us. We set visions for where we want the business to go, strategize on financial structures and campaigns that test product-market fit, and use design thinking to more deeply understand our customers and what they long for.

But relationships? If you're like most leaders, they simply "happen." We take them as they come -- but seldom apply proactive thought to gathering the right people around us.

You can change that. By getting intentional about your relationship strategy, the way you would about a product or financial plan, you can design a path to improving the connections that influence you most. I recommend a simplified version of a "sociogram," or map of relationships and social connections. Although there are various ways to construct sociograms, the simple one shared here offers an easy way to identify and design the alliances you want to bring to your leadership -- and life.

Here's how it works.

Draw Your Map

First, draw a small circle in the center of a piece of paper and jot your name and date in it.

Then draw two rings around it: concentric circles moving outward from the center. Leave enough room to do some writing in these circles.

Next, reflect on key relationships that influence you: people you interact with often, or who create significant impact on your life, or on whom you rely for stability, support, and collaboration.

Start to write the names of these people: the most influential ones near the center, close to your name, and the somewhat less impactful ones farther from the center.

Try to identify 8-10 names, and no more than 12. Consider both positive and negative influences. Identify important people from your past, even if you're no longer connected. Include personal as well as professional connections: loved ones and key work relationships belong on this map.

Be thoughtful about the process. You may put names down and end up replacing them with others that feel more influential. Keep refining until you have a solid map of the most influential 10-or-so allies in your circles.

Identify Patterns

Now, consider the roles of the people you added to your map.

Which are mentors, guides, or inspirations: people you learn from or see as role models, whether they know it or not?

Which are partners or collaborators, whether personal or professional? Is there someone who is your "Champion," always in your corner ready to cheer you on?

Which are dependents, relying on you for appropriate care or nurturing - or in needy ways that drain your time, energy, and attention?

Who might be a deterrent: a critic or challenger who complicates your path or burdens your life experience with negativity?

Do you have a catalyst, someone who sparks you to a higher level of vision, contribution, or presence?

Notice similarities between them. What patterns do you see? What gaps?

Design Your Ideal Map

As you reviewed this map you probably felt things you liked about it, some you didn't like about it, and some you wished to change. Use that thinking to develop the Sociogram you want to have surround you.

Put your name and a realistic future date into a center circle. Then, around it, like before: two concentric circles.

Need a mentor? Mark that in your closest circle, or move someone who could be a guide or inspiration closer to the core.

Notice some toxic forces close to the center? Push them out to the farther circle, or, better yet, out of the circles altogether.

Too many optional dependents? Soften their impact by moving them away from center. Maybe you'll see how this opens up time and headspace to move family or loved ones in closer.

Who is missing from your circles? A champion or catalyst? A partner?

Who needs to move closer to center? Who farther? Who needs to leave your circles? Who do you want to invite in? Invest some time to reflect on your ideal constellation of allies. It's the first step in designing the relationships you actually want.

Convert to Action

Compare the two maps. Everything different between them, is, in a sense, your desire for change. Now, all that's left is creating a plan of action.

Identify those desires and name the outcome you seek. Maybe it's something like "I want a go-to mentor I can meet with regularly to improve my long-term thinking," or "I want to limit the impact of negative personalities by reducing the time I spend with them."

Then think of barriers to these actions. You may not have a candidate for an aligned mentor, or you may need to navigate some politics to interact less with the negative force.

Next, identify ways to work through those barriers: how can you create the desired change and outcomes? Can you activate your alumni network to seek a mentor, or reconnect with someone you've lost touch with? Can you come up with a corrective plan for the difficult forces to see if they can change, or adjust your behavior so you interact less frequently? In other words, what can you do to make your desired change happen?

Reaching the success your second sociogram inspires may seem like an ambitious plan -- but isn't that also true of any product, financial, or organizational vision? Move toward realization of your ideal relationship map the same way you do with other goals: by setting a clear vision for what you seek and putting steps in place to help you achieve it.

Need motivation? Close your eyes and see yourself in that future circle, surrounded by allies who help you succeed. We can't do it alone. Designing the relationships that help you get where you want to go is, actually, a big step forward in getting there.


Westchester Networking for Professionals (WNFP) is a business organization focused on providing our members and guests with an extraordinary networking experience, bringing business professionals together for the sole purpose of generating new relationships and developing new business opportunities. Not a member, learn how you can become a member and join this awesome group of professionals to connect and grow your business.

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