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May 2013

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Things small businesses should do in 2013: Growing your email lists

Things small businesses should do in 2013: Growing your email lists

As the world of digital marketing continues its evolution, I'm sensing a growing anxiety among small business marketers about how they're possibly going to reach customers across every single platform.

Online shoppers are using more channels now than ever. Many of them have two-plus social media accounts these days, and oftentimes they're logging in from remote locations via their smartphones or tablets.

If you were hoping to get some good news from me - that I would say it'll be easier than you think - well, today's your lucky day. It'll be easier than you think.

You don't have to have the most comprehensive strategy that's tailor-made to every single social networking site, or an entirely separate marketing campaign for mobile devices.

Top 3 benefits of having a small business social media strategy

Written by Kevin Plankey
On the
Top 3 benefits of having a small business social media strategy

The recent advent of different technologies has felt like both a blessing and a curse for small business owners.

On one hand, it's provided them with capabilities that they've never had before, such as the ability to reach an unprecedented amount of consumers. Yet at the same time, many companies are struggling to adjust to how quickly their business environments are changing.

"Small businesses know how important their web presence is for presenting a desirable online identity and attracting new customers, yet don't fully understand how to achieve those goals, implement new technologies, or adapt to new trends as deftly as larger companies," Phillip Klien, CEO of SiteApps, said recently in a statement.

Responsive websites lead to responsive customers

Written by Kevin Plankey
On the
Responsive websites lead to responsive customers

The other day, I was talking to friends of mine who are higher-ups at local small businesses.

We started off discussing how quickly the mobile revolution has taken off, and eventually got to the topic of mobile websites. When I asked them if their companies had designed one, I was shocked at the answer I received:

"A mobile website?" my friend responded in a dumbfounded manner. "We haven't updated our website in at least two years."

Two years! I couldn't believe that.

If your company also hasn't updated its website recently, then chances are you haven't developed a responsive site. And if you don't have a responsive site, then chances are you're probably losing out on a whole bunch of customers.

How real-time analytics can change the email marketing game

How real-time analytics can change the email marketing game

Email marketing has been around for what feels like forever, at least relative to the other digital advertising techniques.

Social, mobile and other types of ads are like shiny new toys for children. When they initially arrive, they feel like the greatest thing ever. They have kids' entire attention, and everything else seems old or boring in comparison.

There's a chance that new advertising methods could turn out to be Buzz Lightyear, but email marketing is definitely Woody.

Power in numbers
So what about email advertising has enabled these campaigns to transcend their time as the new kid on the block? Largely the same reasons that newspaper, TV, phone calls and face-to-face marketing hasn't died away.

Don't let marketing run your business into the ground

Everyone has probably heard the philosophical question about the tree falling in the woods. If you need a refresher, here it is:


If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?


In a lot of ways, this question is applicable to startup companies. You could have the best business plan in place, a well-designed store or website, a new product line that could be revolutionary in nature - but if no one has a clue that your company exists, it will never grow roots in the first place. 


Needless to say, marketing campaigns are vital for new and small companies to even have a chance at survival. Without generating enough buzz through word of mouth before opening, you could be setting your business up to fail. 


Things small businesses should do in 2013 - Part 1

I've compared online consumers to needy children in the past, but now I'm not so sure if that's an apt comparison.


Web shoppers are more like teenagers. They have next-to-no patience, especially if you're their parent, and they don't seem to possess the ability to be rational no matter how much you try to reason with them.


Unfortunately, punishing your customers isn't an option like it is with your teenage son or daughter. If you want to continue making money going forward, you will simply have to meet the needs of online consumers.


Unexpected places to grow your network

There are a lot of important elements that make a successful marketing campaign, many of which we've covered in recent months. You need to make your ads engaging, you have to have strong SEO strategies to boost your website's visibility and your site should be well-designed to influence customers to make purchases once they're there.


Another very important component - and one that sometimes gets overlooked - is building up your customer base to begin with.


You might have the funniest ad ever, the most sophisticated social media strategies or the most interactive website yet. None of that matters if there aren't any viewers to see it.


Well-designed websites: They're for your benefit too

Online shopping is a huge industry. That's your "Thank you, Captain Obvious" comment for the day. 


So how big is ecommerce? A recent study found that worldwide internet sales soared past $1 trillion in 2012, and the market is expected to grow another 18.3 percent in 2013. 


You've probably heard a lot about how you need a website to make your customers happy. Shoppers today have come to expect that every company has a comprehensive website, which provides them with vital information and service, and allows them to make purchases when they want to. 


Now, let's talk about how website design can directly help you.


Google AdWords can be invaluable tool

One of the most frustrating components of traditional marketing is the inability to track results.


Unless you polled every single customer as to whether or not he or she noticed a particular ad, there's really no way to gauge its effectiveness. All you could do was measure sales numbers before and after you launched a marketing campaign, which is an inexact science to say the least.


Insert online marketing.


Digital advertising has been a breath of fresh air for companies for a number of reasons, as it's generally cheaper and can reach a wider audience.


But perhaps the biggest advantage of online marketing is your ability to track everything - conversions, click rates, follow-up actions and more. You never have to just assume a campaign's effectiveness anymore based on loose statistical relationships. 


Don't let your business run you

Written by Kevin Plankey
On the

Working for a small business or startup company can be an extremely gratifying experience. Your interactions are more personal, you're more directly involved with important processes and you get to see the company grow from the bottom up.


But without the proper time management skills, work can consume you.


As far as I'm concerned, time management is the single most important business tool.


As a small business professional, you probably understand what I mean by work consuming you. Without the resources that are available to employees at larger firms, you have to take on a higher number and wider range of responsibilities, while performing better than your competitors for your company to survive.