Friday, September 28, 2018

Put Your Networking On Steroids

What do I mean when I say, “Put your networking on steroids”?

Well, think about this: when you attend a networking event, do you expect to come home with a ton of new orders or contracts in your suitcase?

Probably not.

I just returned from a conference in Chicago where my colleague, Michelle Hummel from Web Strategy Plus, had a booth. Between the two of us, we must have chatted it up with at least 200 business owners over the two days of the event.

While Michelle was on the floor I was at the booth – and vice versa.


We came home with none. We were not there to make sales.

Michelle and I are both seasoned business owners, and we know first-hand that networking is how to make a powerful first connection with our potential clients.

Instead of contracts, we came home with a list of prospects that need our services and will remember us, especially because we took a genuine interest in their businesses and because of how we described our services.

Know. Like. Trust.

You already know that people buy from people – and they must know, like, and trust you before they feel comfortable to buy.

Moreover, you know it can take time and nurturing to win your ideal customers. That’s where online marketing is an incredible tool.

Michelle likes to use this saying, which elegantly describes the power of marketing, particularly online marketing:

Put Your Networking On Steroids – Add Online Marketing

Sometimes businesses don’t immediately understand the role of online marketing in their quest to increase sales.

In my previous life in advertising, I learned that ideal prospects must be exposed to a marketing message at least seven times before they take steps to buy.

In-person networking is only one touchpoint in the process. Each touchpoint builds on the others. Companies that use every touchpoint combined with a consistent, clear, and focused marketing message, are the ones that are winning.

Online Marketing Touchpoints To Nurture Your Ideal Prospects

Check off the digital tactics you are using right now to support your in-person networking. Is anything missing?

  • Email Newsletters
  • Emailed Blogs
  • Social Media Posts
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Invitations To Live Events
  • Invitations To Webinars
  • Links To Your Website

You will feel a lift in sales when you add more touchpoints to your strategy.

And, just as important as your tactics is the messaging you use – make sure it’s consistent, clear, and focused on the needs of your ideal customers. That’s networking on steroids!

So, next time when you’re at a networking event, think of it as just one touchpoint in your overall strategy to win your ideal customers. Then use online marketing to increase your exposure.

Online Marketing Is Networking On Steroids Working For You 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

Got something to say? Leave a comment below.


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.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Monday, September 17, 2018

8-Step Branding Strategy for Your Small Businesses

Branding is so much more than having a cool logo or flashy website.

Sure, today you have to be able to engage your audience and “tell your story” . . . but if you don’t tell it the right way, you’re left with nothing but a wasted opportunity.

This is where branding strategy comes into play.

Many startups, small businesses, and entrepreneurs only look at the present, focusing on short-term rather than the long-term growth and success of their business (the difference between a startup that dies after 6 months and a prosperous business such as eCommerce giant, Amazon).

So what exactly does branding mean? By definition, it means, “making a mark”. OK, that’s pretty vague.

Let me explain.

Branding is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Simply put, branding differentiates you from your competitors, and it allows you to control how you want to be perceived.

This is something that so many people neglect because they are involved in every other aspect of the business—they are overwhelmed.

Building a brand is a process. So where do you start?

Step 1 – Determine your target audience

Your business might be founded on a brilliant idea, but until you determine your target audience, your marketing efforts are going to suffer.

Who am I trying to reach? Who does my product/service appeal to most? Who is my ideal customer?

Now use this data to align your brand’s efforts with your target audience.

Step 2 – Research competing brands within your industry

Today, even the most original ideas have competition, and untapped niches are few and far between.

Scout out your competitors. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? How can you draw influence without becoming a carbon copy of other businesses?

Step 3 – Choose a brand name that is easy to spell, say, hear and REMEMBER

It’s easy to overthink naming your brand; but the most important thing is that you choose something that can be spelled, pronounced, and remembered.

If you’re able to use your brand name to clue your audience in on what your business is about, that’s a plus!

Step 4 – Define your brand

Your brand can be anything. And until you spend some time defining your brand and narrowing your focus, that’s exactly what it will be – anything.

As we mentioned earlier, branding is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal. Developing your brand’s identity allows you to create something unique and marketable.

Step 5 – Create value propositions

In online marketing, you don’t have the benefit of a face-to-face conversation or a facility that showcases your latest products and services. This makes value propositions extremely important to your brand.

What are value propositions? These are main selling points of your brand. They are what separate you from your competition.

Once you identify your value propositions, be sure to put them on display.

Step 6 – Set brand guidelines

Brand guidelines (or style guides) are often overlooked by small businesses, but they are an important component of a brand’s identity.

A clear set of brand guidelines allows you to maintain order and uniformity. A brand without guidelines looks scattered and unsure of itself.

Step 7 – Stand out from the crowd

If you followed steps 2 & 5, you should be able to start carving out your own lane within your industry or niche.

But if you’re still feeling this out, ask the people around you for honest feedback. What do they see as most attractive about your business? These are elements worth emphasizing.

Step 8 – Be consistent

The only way to build brand trust is through consistency.

If you make a 100% guarantee but only deliver 90% of the time, that’s not being consistent. If you boast a one-hour response time but don’t respond to someone for 24 hours, that’s not being consistent.

When it comes to building trust, all of the little things do matter.

Branding strategy is critical to the success of any business. If you dream of sustained success and customer loyalty, you need to be purposeful about branding.

With these 8 steps, you can do just that. 

Image Credit: iStock by 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.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Apply These 20 Local Marketing Strategies To Improve Your Small Business Revenue

An enormous 85% of business owners depend on word-of-mouth referrals, showing just how crucial it is to reach customers in your local area. Local marketing strategies are slightly different to the techniques and methods you’ll use for general marketing, as you’re working hard to find, reach, engage and appeal to local customers specifically.

Local Marketing Strategies

Here are 20 of the best local marketing strategies you can use to increase awareness and your customer base in your local area:

Get Involved with the Community

Getting involved with the local community can be a surprisingly effective way to engage with local customers. You’ll meet lots of local people and build valuable links. You can get involved with your community by attending local events, sponsoring charity events or perhaps donating a little of your spare time volunteering.

Claim Your Google Local Listing

More than half of business owners still haven’t claimed their Google My Business listing, which means that they can’t manage and update vital information such as opening hours, address, images and contact details.

Run Local SEO Campaigns

This is one of the most important local marketing strategies, is it enables local customers to find you when searching for businesses, services and products in the local area. There are lots of ways to improve local search engine optimization, including making good use of local-focused keywords and regularly updating a business blog with fresh, engaging content.

Make Local Business Contacts

Partnering with local businesses, especially those in similar or complementary industries, is a great way to start expanding your local network. Start in online professional groups on sites like LinkedIn, making sure you do plenty of real-world networking too.

Advertise a Loyalty Program

The reason this is one of the best local marketing strategies is because customers love to feel valued. Create special offers and discounts for local customers only, perhaps bringing everything together in a loyalty scheme.

Start a Referral Program

If you need a boost in word-of-mouth marketing, why not push your customers to do it for you with an irresistible referral scheme? It’s simple to start, all you need to do is offer a tempting freebie or special discount for the original customer and the person they refer.

Bring Your Staff into Your Referral Plan

Who better to act as an advocate for your brand than your dedicated staff? Offer a bonus to staff for referring new clients and customers.

Advertise in Local Public Transport Hubs

To reach local customers, you need to think about the places around town they tend to go. Public transport stations and hubs are excellent for this, so put your ads up in rail, bus and other local transit stations in your local area.

Engage with Audiences on Social Media

With 800 million active monthly users, Instagram provides a wealth of opportunities for small businesses to reach out to new customers. Make sure to tag your location in your posts, as research shows that posts with a geo-tag receive a huge 79% more engagement from social media users.

Use Targeting Tools for Online Marketing

Social media platforms such as Facebook offer many ways to target customers in your local area. You can use paid advertising features to ‘boost’ posts, setting parameters to target customers within a certain number of miles from your business HQ.

Tell Your Story

If you’re from the local area you’re targeting and have a great story about how your business got started, make sure you tell it! Customers love to support a local business, especially one run by a hard-working local resident. You can create a video or do a series of blog posts and share them on social media.

Hold an Event

Throw a party or a launch event for your business or a new product and invite new customer to come to you. Putting on some free food, drink or entertainment is a smart move, as it provides an incentive to attend.

Get Reviews and Testimonials

Local customers want to use a business that they feel they can trust, which you can demonstrate with positive reviews and testimonials. Never pay for these, but simply email previous customers saying that you’d really appreciate a review if they had a good experience.

Win Over Local Bloggers and Journalists

Who are the influential journalists and bloggers in your area? Invite them to an event or send them a product to review and see if you can get some positive local press.

Send Out Targeted Email Campaigns

74% of marketers find that targeted personalization increased customer engagement, so as part of your local marketing strategies, make sure you’re tailoring your email campaigns to customers in the local area. 

Consider Running a Coupon Deal Site Offer

This may not be appropriate for all businesses, but as coupon deal sites such as Groupon group offers by location, a special deal or discount could bring in a host of new local customers.

Offer a Free Consultation or Advice Service

This is a great way to demonstrate your expertise in your field, while getting potential new customers interested in what you do. They may come for free advice now, but they’ll likely come back to make a purchase later.

Advertise in Local Newspapers

Never underestimate the power of traditional local marketing strategies such as print media advertising. Ads and features in local newspapers, as well as mailed circulars, can attract the attention of local customers.

Get Yourself on Local TV

Whether in a news story about a charity event or a paid advert, you need to get your business into the homes of local customers – all through the power of local TV networks.

Partner with Another Business

Could you team up with another well-known local business? For example, a design firm could team up with a printing company to refer clients and offer discounts.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Friday, September 14, 2018

5 Ways to Keep Your Business Growing

Running a small business requires effort, time, money and many other things. You also need to take advantage of the plethora of tools that exist in order to succeed. Some of these tools are tangible and some are concepts that will strengthen you and your business. Here are five ways to keep your business growing.

Focus on flexibility

While it may feel like a challenge it’s in your best interest to keep a flexible mindset. A business that has flexibility is better equipped to navigate through hard times than one that is more rigid. Flexible small business owners who are ready to adapt know they have to accommodate to changes in the industry. Focus on staying malleable; you always need to be open to making changes and implementing improvements.

Use business cards

Don’t underestimate the power of high quality business cards! Business cards still matter. In a world where everything is digital, handing out business cards is one way to make a genuine connection and offer a great first impression of your brand. The best news? You can even make your own business cards using Microsoft Word making this a very lucrative method of direct marketing.

Develop a brand voice

In order to really strengthen your brand, you need to develop a voice. A compelling and original voice almost acts as a magnet, making customers come back time and again. It will help you build an engaged community of fans who listen to your every word, leading to a community that grows as your fans share your posts.

Blogging is a great way to show your voice. If you need blog topic ideas, that’s okay. Everyone runs into a wall sometimes. To get inspiration, focus on images, turn to past highly successful posts and elaborate on the topic and write how-to posts.

Use social media

Everyone knows social media is an incredibly powerful tool when used correctly. You can use it to promote your business. It will also give you powerful insight when you practice social listening. You will find out what your customers are saying about you, learn more about their behavior, determine trends and keywords that appeal to your target market, and boost your customer service skills. Social media is hands down one of the top customer engagement strategies available to small business owners today.

Give back to the community

If you want to attract new business, build brand awareness right in your community. You can sponsor a little league team or participate in a local community event such as a 5K walk or run and raise your business profile. Do what you can to make sure people know you and what you stand for – forging personal relationships and gaining credibility is what will take your small business to the next level.

Growing your small business will be an ongoing pursuit that requires innovation and hustle. Keep an open mind and use these tools to ensure your business will continue to attract new customers and retain your current ones.

What techniques have your small business used to continue to grow?


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.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

How to Build Meaningful Relationships in Business

Thanks to technology it’s easier than ever to stay connected with friends, family, and business colleagues. Next time you’re at the office, take a step back and think about how many tools you use to communicate with others. You’d be surprised in how many you can come up with.

Many of these tools have made our lives much easier. But they’ve also changed how we define relationships. Just because someone has 800 friends on Facebook doesn’t mean they’ve built meaningful relationships with 800 different people. In fact, it’s probably quite the opposite.

Building lasting relationships with people takes time. You have to treat every relationship different. To know how to build each relationship, you need to take the time to get the know the person. Listing them as a friend on Facebook or a connection on LinkedIn simply isn’t good enough.

Throughout your business career, the people you meet will make all the difference in your success. That said, it’s more important than ever to build authentic and meaningful relationships. Here are six tips to achieve exactly that.

Don’t try to be somebody else

There’s nothing worse than a phony. In business there’s always a fine line between “fake it til you make it” and being straight up dishonest. Often times the extra “fluff” is just a result of passion. It starts to go south when you paint a picture of yourself that you can’t uphold. If you want to play it safe, just be as authentic as you possibly can.

Think about it this way. Every successful entrepreneur needs at least one win until they can call themselves successful. It’s okay to be a newbie. It’s okay to fail. As long as you’re authentic others will want to help and work with you.

Practice your listening

Did you know one of the most important communication skills has nothing to do with talking? Well you guessed it, it’s listening.

I’m sure you’ve dealt with this issue throughout your life. The fact that nobody listens. Whether it’s your parents, spouse, or boss it just seems like they don’t understand or listen to what you have to say. Well, how do you think other people feel about you?

Next time you’re having a conversation, try your hardest to listen attentively. As you feel yourself want to blurt out or interrupt, just hold back and continue to listen. You’ll learn much more about others and when it comes time to respond, you’ll have a lot more to talk about.

Go on more lunch dates

Pay close attention here and notice the choice of words. This isn’t a lunch meeting, but simply a lunch date. We get so bogged down with work it’s often nice to go out to lunch and let loose for an hour or so. Even better if it’s with one of your business colleagues.

The most valuable relationships in business come from people who genuinely like and respect each other as humans. How do you build that relationship outside of work? One place to start is a lunch date.

Give someone a call, just to check in

This is very similar to the point made above. In business, we’re always trying to keep things “strictly business”. When it comes to building meaningful relationships, however, you need to solidify the bond outside of the workplace.

When was the last time you called a friend or business colleague simply to check in? Just to see how they’re doing? If you’re like most people, it’s probably pretty rare. This isn’t because we don’t care about those people, it’s more so that this hasn’t crossed our mind as much. After all, we sent them a Snapchat a few hours ago about the new puppy in the office. That’s enough right?

After you finish reading this article. Take the time to call at least one person you’ve met in business and give them a call. When they ask why you called, you can tell them you just wanted to check in and say hi. You’d be surprised how far that’ll take you.

Be hasty with your responses

Sure we know that you aren’t on your computer or phone 24/7. However, most business people are within reach of a device for the vast majority of the day. Even better, we have access to all of our communication tools on most devices. This makes it super easy to respond to others when they reach out. So why does it always take so long to get a response?

Sometimes the person is truly to busy to respond. Most of the time, however, they simply see the message and decide to respond later. Don’t be one of these people. If you see a message, you should always try to respond right away if you can. People like reliability. If you take a day to respond to a text, people may stop reaching out altogether.

Embody positivity

This is one of the most important things you need to do if you want to build meaningful relationships in business. Ask yourself this. Would you rather spend time with someone who’s a total downer or with someone who’s bubbling with positivity? Okay, I’ll admit, the latter can sometimes be a bit over the top but it’s still much better than negativity.

If you embody positivity it will influence those around you to do the same. If you’re the person who others come to get lifted back up you can expect to keep people around for life.

If you’re looking to start building more meaningful relationships in business, make sure you don’t forget the six tips listed above!

Image Credit: geralt / Pixabay

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.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

10 Tips for Effective Networking

According to Webster’s dictionary, networking is “the cultivation of a productive relationships for employment or business.” The key word is relationship. Unfortunately, the majority of people in the business community don’t seem to understand that important part of the definition. I thought it would be helpful to outline ten tips to help initiate relationships that can eventually lead to financial success and/or a long-lasting friendship.

  • Don’t hand your business card to someone before you engage in at least a short, but meaningful conversation. Randomly handing out cards is a waste of paper and does not create a good first impression.

  • Send LinkedIn invites to all panelists and speakers either shortly before, during or after an event. Generally, the panelists are experts in their field and filled with knowledge. When sending the invite after you have met, reference something said or mentioned that got your attention. That gets their attention.

  • The best networkers are considered, “Givers.” Givers understand networking is about people helping other people. The other three types of networkers, which are not effective, are “askers,” “takers,” and “traders” according to a great book on networking by Jack Killion, Networking All the Time, Everywhere with Everybody

  • Invite people you meet for coffee or breakfast. When you meet with people in their offices, the conversation is 90 percent business; when you meet people outside of their offices it’s mostly personal with little or no distractions from other colleagues.

  • When you invite people for coffee or breakfast, it should be your treat. If people insist upon splitting, that’s okay, but as a general rule, it’s rude to invite someone out and expect them to pay. It’s like inviting someone over to your home for the first time and asking them to bring their own food.

  • Giving a person a copy of your favorite book adds a nice touch. People appreciate books and love to learn what book might have helped you in life be a better person, more successful, etc. Certainly, if you are an author, giving them a signed copy of your latest book is the ultimate gift.

  • Take good notes. I prefer a notebook. I find when I take notes on my iPhone, I’m distracted by open emails and texts. Without notes to review later on in the day or week you will most likely miss a follow-up. People value when you remember what they said, where they grew up, how old their kids are, etc.

  • Always put your phone on silent and if you are expecting an extremely important call, ask the person if they mind if you take a call that might be coming in. Ideally a meeting should be scheduled without interruption.

  • Meet periodically to catch-up. It might be every 4 months, 6 months, etc. As is true, “out of sight, out of mind.”

  • When someone asks you to explain your business, always ask them, “What other questions do you have?” instead of “Do you have any other questions?” The former continues the conversation, the latter implies you are short on time.

Remember in many cases you only have one opportunity to turn a first encounter into a successful relationship. Remember, too, that the sole purpose of a business card is to relay contact information, not to initiate a relationship. Business cards, as stated before, are pieces of paper. A conversation makes the best first impression. It’s an encounter where the other person thinks, “I want to get to know him/her.”

The next time you go to any event business don’t fill your pockets with a bunch of business cards. Instead, think about how many productive and meaningful relationships you can cultivate. Networking is about getting to know people as people and helping them to achieve their goals. If that is your focus, your goals will be achieved over time. Effective networking is long-term, but it’s worth it.

Image Credit: FotografieLink / Pixabay

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.

Stay Connected with WNFP!
Join WNFP Communities!

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Language of Online Advertising—Concepts to Master for Success

Digital advertising is a relatively new discipline—at least when you consider how many years businesses have been messaging consumers to promote or sell a product or service. In the age of digital, online advertising is one of the most effective ways to expand your reach, find new customers and boost your bottom line. However, the vernacular that goes along with digital advertising is new too, and is often misused or misunderstood.

Success in the world of digital requires many things. But, next to knowing how to execute, you also need to know how to communicate. So, we put together a list—a cheat sheet of the most important language surrounding digital advertising concepts, techniques and strategies.

A/B Testing: Digital advertising success is often the result of testing different versions of your content. Slight variations in landing pages, ad copy, email and even call to actions can have a huge impact on conversion rate. A/B testing is the process of conducting experiments using two variables (A and B) to identify top performers. One version of copy (A) is used as a control, while a second version (B) is used to challenge it. A/B testing is the easiest way to measure and test different versions of the same content at the same time.

Ad Blocker: The amount of advertising content directed at consumers today is staggering. It’s no surprise that ad blockers would surface. An ad blocker is basically a tool—usually an app or a browser extension—that lets you limit or ‘block” some of the advertisements that appear on your screen as you navigate the web. With the rise in ad blockers, brands have started using native advertising techniques to deliver ads that blend in with on page content.

Ad Targeting: Ad targeting is the technique of delivering ads to a pre-selected audience based on specific attributes. Location, demographics, web browsing behavior and past purchases are all considered when looking for a targeted audience.

Algorithm: An algorithm is an automated code that uses data to make decisions. In digital advertising, algorithms play a critical role in placing bids on media in real time, and in many ways, have become the “secret sauce” in programmatic buying.

Attribution: As digital ad spend reaches dizzying heights, savvy businesses want to know what they are getting in return for their investment. Attribution is the science of getting these answers by uncovering all the touch points responsible for a conversion.

For example, a customer may interact with one of your ads ad before following up with an email and a phone call. First touch, last touch, and multi-touch attribution models help businesses drill down to see exactly where and how their customers convert. With the first touch, for example, the first customer point of contact gets credit for the conversion. With multi-touch, the ad, email, and phone share partial credit.

Call to Action (CTA): A call to action is copy that invites the reader to take a specific action or set of actions, like “Buy now”, or “Call today.” CTA’s often begin with a verb and may appear on web pages as buttons, links or images.

Click Through Rate (CTR): CTR is a digital advertising metric that measures the ratio of clicks to impressions of an ad online. To calculate the CTR, divide the number of clicks by the number of times your ad was seen. Then multiply by 100. Across industries, the average CTR for a search ad is 1.91%. For display ads, the average is 0.35%.

Conversion: A conversion is counted each time someone takes an action suggested by a call to action. It could be as simple as a click or download, or as complicated as signing up for a newsletter, filling out a form or making a purchase online.

Conversion Rate: This is the percentage of visitors that take action or convert in relation to the number of people who visit a website. The conversion rate is calculated by dividing the number of conversions by the number of visitors who click an ad.

Cost-Per-Action (CPA): CPA is an advertising model where you pay only when a visitor takes a specific action, like downloading a form.

Cost-Per-Click (CPC): CPC is the typical cost you pay for every click registered as part of your advertising model. CPC is calculated by dividing the total amount invested by the number of clicks your ad receives.

Cross-Channel Advertising: Also called omnichannel, cross-channel advertising means placing ads across multiple digital channels—search, social, display, mobile and email for instance. Most advertisers today use one or two channels. But, creating an integrated cross-channel advertising strategy is the key to reaching your audience wherever they are.

Display Ad: One of the most popular forms of online advertising, display ads come in a variety of shapes and sizes and can appear practically anywhere on a website. Sometimes they appear on the top of the page or to the right of content and even on the bottom of the page. Banners are the most common display ads.

Display ads reach millions of people online and work to increase brand awareness, boost website traffic and increase sales. Display advertising software is also available to help you target, purchase, manage, and track ads.

Engagement: Connect with your audience in a meaningful way and you’re “engaging”. With social media, your engagement rate measures the level of interaction between your social profiles and your followers. It’s calculated by dividing the number of visitors that “like”, “share” or comment on your content by the number of times your ad was shown.

Floating Ads: Ads that appear to float above the content of a website. A pop-up window is an example.

Google Adwords: Advertising software offered by Google, “Adwords” helps you create online ads that target people at exactly the moment they’re looking for the products or services you offer. AdWords works on a pay-per-click model—you bid on keywords and pay for each click you receive on your ads. As the most popular search engine, Google gets incredible traffic and can deliver the most impressions and clicks to your ads.

Impression: An impression is the number of times an ad was shown to a user, regardless if they clicked on it or not. People may see the same ad more than once, but each time is a separate impression.

Landing Page: This is the page a user is sent to after clicking on an ad. Landing pages are highly optimized and designed to generate the maximum amount of conversions, whether it’s downloading an e-book, filling out a form or subscribing to a newsletter.

Native Advertising: Promoted ad content that’s designed to look like non-promoted content on a webpage. Native ads follow the same format and style guidelines of the webpage they are placed one.

Omni-channel: A multi-channel approach where the customer experience is prioritized by creating an integrated, seamless, consistent experience across channels.

Pay-Per-Click Advertising (PPC): Also called search engine marketing, paid search or search advertising, PPC is an advertising model where you “bid” for ad placement in a search engine’s sponsored links, and only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

Done well, PPC is a sound investment—a $4.00 bid that results in a $400.00 sale is smart. But, building a successful PPC campaign can be tricky. With keyword research, organizing ad groups, writing landing pages and optimizing for conversions, businesses often turn to digital agencies for help.

Programmatic Media Buying: An automated way of buying media that makes it easy to reach the right person, at the right time and in the right place. Ads are purchased using a set of parameters that are predefined by you, the advertiser. Programmatic advertising uses data to make decisions about which ads to buy in real time, improving efficiency and increasing the effectiveness of ads.

Reach: This is the total number of people exposed to or “reached” at least once by an online ad.

Real-Time Bidding: The process of purchasing digital ad space in real time using innovative tools and in-the-moment knowledge about an audience.

Retargeting: Also called remarketing, this is a type of online advertising that targets users who have already visited a website or online store, showed an interest, but didn’t convert are targeted again.

Rich Media: An online advertising format that uses new technology to deliver more complex features, For example, audiovisual elements can enrich the customer experience.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM): Also called search advertising or paid search, SEM is about gaining traffic and visibility by advertising on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. Paid search is used in tandem with search engine optimization and organic search techniques to build a comprehensive search strategy.

Search advertising allows you to place your service or product in front of people who are already looking for them. Paid search ads are targeted based on real searches, meaning ads are shown to people looking for what you offer. Search ads are billed on a pay-per-click (PPC) basis: you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is about optimizing your online content so that it appears or “ranks” as a top result on search engines for a specific keyword. Most online searches begin with Google. What’s more, the first five results get most of the clicks—people rarely move on to page two or beyond.

Share of Voice: The amount of presence you have on an advertising channel in relation to your competition. Share of voice is usually expressed as a percentage and can be measured by using the number of conversations about your brand versus the total number of conversations about your industry as a whole during the same time period.

Social Media Marketing (SMM) Social Advertising: Social advertising involves placing ads on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Software is available to help automate the ad buying process. It’s common to see ads on social media in the post feed, where it looks natural.

Image Credit: Business2Community

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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Using These 10 Phrases in Your Email Marketing May Keep you from Success

Marketers have to be careful when drafting emails to avoid having them be triggered as spam. Marketing teams send out bulk emails on a consistent basis to leads, opportunities, and customers in an effort to show as many people as possible why their business’ products matter.

Here, we’re going to break down our top ten spam trigger words to avoid in your emails. You want every email your marketing team sends out to count, to give your business the best possible chance at increasing conversions.

Spam Trigger Words to Ignore

Multi-level Marketing

This refers to the practice where businesses hire salespeople to go around and try and sell someone a product, then have that person recommend the product to someone else. Sometimes this is a legitimate practice; most of the time, it’s comparable to a pyramid scheme. Any business practice connected to a pyramid scheme should be avoided like the plague. Even googling “multi-level marketing” brings up questionable results, so it makes sense that any emails with the term in it will be triggered as spam. Don’t get it confused with multi-channel marketing, which is actually a growing strategy that works well.

Increase Sales

This is both surprising and not surprising. It’s hard to imagine a B2B marketing team drafting an email for hundreds or thousands of potential clients and not using this phrase; however, that’s exactly why it’s often triggered as spam in the first place. Here, context matters. It’s a phrase that will eventually come up in an email, but there are ways around it. For example, don’t use the phrase in the subject line. Steer clear of trying to look spammy and try these techniques instead to boost sales.

Web Traffic

If you saw an email with “Web Traffic” in the subject line, would you think it’s legitimate if you don’t know where that email is coming from? Increasing web traffic for an online business is absolutely essential for the success of that business. The more traffic your website receives, the more likely you’ll convert that traffic into sales. Spammers and scammers take advantage of this term because it’s something all online businesses are doing research on.

Online Biz Opportunity

Shortening words in an email might seem like a really convenient way for you to write emails quickly, and with a personal touch, but that’s not professional and it should be avoided even with the best intentions. “Online Biz Opportunity” screams spam to anyone who’s been on the internet for more than ten years. No Millennial or Gen Z’er will ever click on an email like that. We know better. You’d find this phrase on a sketchy Craigslist ad — not in a mass email for a legitimate marketing campaign.

While You Sleep

This is one of those phrases that’s simply too good to be true, everyone knows it’s too good to be true, and yet, it’s still used constantly. Marketing campaigns typically require more than a day to complete, along with the sales process and then completion of a purchase, depending, of course, on what you’re selling. You don’t want to oversell in general, so try to limit the hyperbole for your business’ and marketing team’s own benefit.

Free Consultation

Few things in today’s world are actually free, which immediately jumps out to just about everyone. Even if the consultation is free, there’s always a catch, and if there’s a catch, that means your marketing team isn’t being transparent to its targeted audience. Unless you’re truly offering a free consultation for potential buyers, do not advertise it as free. To avoid being marked as spam, leave “Free Consultation” out of the subject line.

Once in a Lifetime

This is another phrase that’s simply not true — ever. There’s no marketing campaign or product that’s going to offer a potential customer a “once in a lifetime” experience. Hyperbole in general needs to be avoided if you’re trying to make a conscientious effort to avoid having your emails being marked as spam.

As Seen On …

Who can honestly look at this phrase and not think about horribly scripted and produced infomercials for products that barely work? This also isn’t the best strategy for your marketing team because if the product they’re trying to sell has already been done, it shows that your product isn’t exactly better than anyone else’s. Having your products or services associated with a term that implies them being cheap or unreliable.

Call Now

Last, but definitely not least, is “Call Now,” which is innocent enough, but like “As seen on,” is often associated with potentially-sketchy products and services. It’s good to implement actionable content in your marketing strategy, but this phrase has been around for too long to be associated with anything other than a marketing ploy. Plus, customers today are more interested in using other channels to reach out to a company — especially if they’re being reached via email. That alone could set off a red flag.

The Final Word

It’s important for marketing teams to make sure their emails aren’t being marked as spam or contain too many spam trigger words. If they do, they will either be ignored altogether or get reported, which doesn’t make the business look good. Marketing teams should avoid hyperbole whenever possible and avoid making claims that are too good to be true because they’re not really fooling anyone.

Spammers and scammers use these words to pray on those who are easy to manipulate. Any reputable business would never go out of their way to be anything less than transparent with their customers. They prioritize the customer experience and want to make sure the buyer’s journey is as clear as possible. The more a potential buyer feels like they can trust a company, the more likely they’ll return. First impressions matter, so it’s best to make sure even a simple email isn’t being interpreted as spam.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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, September 11, 2018

How to Launch Your First Email Marketing Campaign and Get the Results You Want

Email isn't going anywhere. There are 3.7 billion global email users. Wouldn't you like all of them to be your customers?

Email isn’t going anywhere. There are 3.7 billion global email users, and that number is expected to grow to 4.1 billion by 2021. What's more, this communication channel is supremely popular: People check their emails multiple times a day, and when you're trying to market your company, you can get your name into thousands of inboxes just by launching an email marketing campaign.

The cost? Email marketing is also super-affordable, which makes it great for small businesses.

But just sending an email message promoting your business isn't enough. People are inundated with a ton of promotional emails every day, and many get deleted without ever being read. That's why you need to make sure your emails will stand out through the noise.  

So, where do you start and what can you do to be successful with your first email campaign? Let’s jump into it: Here’s how to launch your first email marketing campaign, which will boost engagement for your company and its sales.  

Build your email list.

In order to have a successful email marketing campaign, you’ll need people to email. That’s why you have to build up your email list to be a moneymaker for your business. Having an email list allows you to have a ton of qualified leads at your fingertips, and you can email them any time you want to promote your business. But how do you get people signed up?

Shinesty uses this attention-grabbing pop-up to encourage visitors to sign up for its email list.

Email List Pop-up from Shinesty. 

Using a nonintrusive, exit-intent popup on your site is a great, attention-grabbing tactic to get more email subscribers. Offering an incentive in your pop-up will convince users to hit that subscribe button, so consider offering a discount or another freebie in exchange for a prospective customer's email address. Building a substantial email list is the backbone of any successful email campaign.

Choose an email marketing service provider.

Once you’ve built up your email list and gotten tons of users ready for you to send a message, it's time to get your email campaign in motion. Using Gmail or Outlook is strongly discouraged for sending bulk emails. That’s why you need to choose an email marketing service provider. Some great options are Constant Contact, MailChimp or ConvertKit.

By using an email service provider, you’ll get a number of benefits, including the ability to send bulk emails and manage your email database, campaign-management services and customizable email templates. You'll also be able to ensure you’re compliant with CAN-SPAM laws.

Define the goal of your campaign.

Before you send out any emails, you have to figure out why you’re sending out the emails in the first place. Not defining a focus for your email marketing campaign will make that campaign appear all over the place, and confuse readers. So what is the goal of your campaign? Typical goals include:

  • Educating users about your product/niche
  • Promoting products or announcing a sale
  • Upselling customers
  • Increasing engagement on your blog/social media

Pinkberry’s goal with the following email campaign was to target its “inactive” users with a surprise incentive to return:

Pinkberry Email Campaign. 

Remember: Not only do you have to decide "why?" but also "whom?" Will you be sending this campaign to customers who have already purchased, users who have never purchased or everyone on your email list? How you design your emails depends on what you want out of your campaign, so determine your goal and plan your campaign around it.

Craft your email.

After deciding what type of email marketing campaign you’re going to launch, start crafting your email. The first tip is to create a catchy subject line that will grab attention and make people want to open up your email. You can use a free tool like CoSchedule’s Email Subject Line Tester to see if your subject line makes the grade.

Other tips that will get your emails opened include personalizing them to each user; people will pay closer attention if you say their name. Designing an eye-catching email with a good mixture of text and images is also important. Design experts often recommend that emails employ a 60/40 text-to-image ratio.

Finally, when writing copy for your email campaign, keep it short and snappy and show some personality. You want to get your point across without boring readers by making them scroll through a long email to find out what you’re actually talking about. You should focus on content that shows readers how they will benefit, instead of just telling them how great you are.

Now you’re ready to launch your first email marketing campaign. Don’t forget that once you hit "send," you can start to measure your results, like your open rate and your number of orders or registrations, for example. When you measure your results, you’ll be able to see what’s working and what’s not; and the next time you send out a campaign, you’ll get even better results than the first time around.

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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Monday, September 10, 2018

The Email-Marketing Death Spiral Begins When You Think More Is Better

You can build a powerful customer connection if your emails are personalized, relevant and perfectly timed.

It’s happened to all of us, and no one likes it.

You visit a banking site to research home refinancing options. Later, you receive an email from that bank about credit card rates. You browse men’s golf shoes on a retail site and then receive an email about a sale in women’s bathing suits. It just doesn’t make sense.

Email is such a powerful channel for engagement that companies across industries continue sending more and more of it. The problem is when the content of the email is irrelevant, or there’s just too much of it: It turns people off. To leverage the best one-on-one engagement channel they have, companies need to understand the right and wrong ways to do email.

Email is alive and kicking.

Email is certainly not dead. It remains the most effective channel marketers have for initiating a conversation and reaching out to their prospects and customers.  

Texting/SMS messages and push notifications share many similarities with email, but people tend to expect push notifications to be both urgent and important. People expect email to be important but not urgent, so they don’t get nearly as annoyed by a non-urgent email as they do by a non-urgent text.

Thus, the best way to reach out to an individual and initiate a conversation with them on a one-to-one level -- without irritating them -- is email. So why do companies keep abusing the power of email?

You’re doing it wrong.

Years ago, you could achieve email click-through rates of around 5 percent. These days, you’re lucky to get click-through rates of 0.5 percent. But even that 0.5 percent makes an impact, though, so companies keep emailing.

And then they get caught in an email death spiral. They find that open and click-through rates keep declining while opt-outs keep increasing. To get the same impact, they hit the list harder and send more frequent emails. But those emails lead to fewer opens, decreased click-throughs and more opt-outs. So they grow the list and send even more emails. And so on...

If this is you, take a deep breath, step out of the cycle, and do email differently. “One size fits all” emails cannot be nearly as relevant -- and therefore never as engaging -- as they might be if they were individualized. You have an excellent, one-to-one channel that allows you to reach out to a particular person, to appear in their inbox (the same place where they communicate with friends, colleagues and customers), and to begin a conversation with them, but instead, you sent the same communication you did to a million other people. Well, they noticed.

It’s a sign that you’re abusing email by sending me ads for women’s bathing suits when I want to look at golf shoes. Repeat after me: Bulk email is not relevant or engaging -- and it is increasingly ineffective.

How to do it better.

You cannot keep emailing everyone the same thing, but you definitely shouldn’t stop sending emails. So what should you do?

To save yourself from the email death spiral, you need to focus on sending emails that recipients will actually care about. Make each email so relevant and compelling that people click through at a higher rate, and you will start to reverse your sliding click-through rate, from your 0.5 percent back up to 5 percent or more.

There are two types of emails that help you provide a great experience to the customer.

Try triggered emails.

Triggered emails allow you to reach out only when you have something relevant to say. Various criteria can trigger the sending of an email: when a person’s actions indicate it’s an appropriate time to send an email; when something changes in your business that the person would be interested in, such as inventory or price changes; or when outside circumstances have changed, such as weather conditions.

Triggered emails increase the importance of all the email you send because they establish that you communicate only when you have something meaningful to say to that person. For example, if a shopper had recently engaged with a particular appliance on a retailer’s site or mobile app but has not purchased it yet, the retailer can trigger an email informing him when there are only a few left in stock to drive prompt action.

Or, a newly published blog article could trigger an email. No, not to everyone on the subscriber list, just to those who have shown an interest in the content area the blog post discusses. 

Try mass-personalized email.

When you still want to send emails to a lot of people at a certain time, during the holiday season, for example or on a regular schedule, perhaps weekly or monthly, you should use open-time email personalization. This method of mass email personalization utilizes machine learning technology. You might email part of your list or all of it, but at "open time," the email can be populated with relevant, personalized content that is truly individualized and unique to each recipient.

Machine learning is a popular buzzword, but it’s simply a form of AI that uses a scalable way to select the most relevant content to show someone based on what you know about him. Using machine learning is the best way to return your email to what email is meant to be -- a meaningful conversation with a person.

And by meaningful, I mean truly personalized. This doesn’t just mean mail merging a person’s first name or company name into the email. Real personalization means tailoring the content of an email dynamically for each individual: the message, the offers, the recommendations. To be good at doing this, you need to know who you’re emailing and what their interests are. That knowledge comes from in-depth data combined with machine learning.

Here’s a simple example. Assume a financial services firm sends out an email promoting an upcoming webinar to prospective clients. A recipient who learned about the webinar elsewhere has already signed up for the webinar before opening the email. At open time, the content of her email should be updated to acknowledge her registration and suggest a few relevant resources to check out in advance of the webinar.

The quality of your email will not go unnoticed as people respond by clicking through.

If you use email marketing, now is the time to begin transitioning from the outdated batch-and-blast method to emails triggered at the optimal moment and mass-personalized at open time. True one-to-one email will enable you to unlock the full potential of the most effective engagement channel for businesses.

People appreciate the right communication at the right time. By initiating meaningful email contact, you can transform thousands of unsubscribes into millions of click-throughs.

Image Credit: dem10 | 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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