How to Never Miss an Email Subscriber Again

I have a confession to make.

I have really bad handwriting.

There. I said it! So why’d I spill the beans and what does this have to do with your email subscribers?

I love to sign up for small business newsletters.

Any time I go into a mom and pop shop I ask them if they have an email list. But more often than not, I never receive an email from their business.

Recently, I started helping a small nonprofit with their email marketing. That’s when I learned how many contacts never make it from their sign-up clipboard to their Constant Contact account because…wait for it…the handwriting is illegible.

You read that right, folks. People with bad handwriting — like me — make it hard for small businesses and nonprofits to communicate with them. Doh!

That got me thinking: Why should my poor penmanship inhibit the marketing efforts of small businesses and nonprofits?

Well, it shouldn’t. There are lots of ways to gather contacts that don’t call for ye olde feather pen and paper method that make it easier for you to store and manage your contacts.

Let’s have a look at some of the best:

1. iCapture for iPad and iCapture for Android

If you have an iPad or tablet that you use for work, this is a tool you need to download right away.

Do you attend networking events or trade shows? Do you work on the road? iCapture does NOT require an internet connection and it’s super easy to use. Simply ask someone to type in their first name, last name, and email address — and that’s it.

Just re-launch the app when you get a connection and your contacts will be immediately added to your Constant Contact email list.

2. MailMunch

Most websites are designed for hit-and-run readers: People find your site, read a page or article, and leave. What if some of those people connected with you further by subscribing to your email list?

MailMunch helps grow your list by converting website visitors into subscribers and customers. With MailMunch, you can create beautiful opt-in forms for your site without writing a single line of code.

Choose from different types of forms such as Popup, Embedded, Top Bar, Scroll Box, or Side Bar, all of which are responsive and mobile-optimized. The best part? It comes with analytics and reports so you can easily find out which pages, posts, or opt-in forms are bringing in the most email contacts!

Here’s an example of a MailMunch form used by accounting business, CPA for Freelancers:

MailMunch-sign-up-form-example-600x572 (1)

3. Text-to-Join

If you’re already a Constant Contact customer, you can quickly create a unique keyword for your business or nonprofit that people can use to text their email address to your Constant Contact database!

This a great feature to promote through signage in your store. While your customers wait in line, they can take a few moments to join your list right from their mobile device.

4. Embeddable sign-up form

While you may already have a sign-up form set up, consider using an embeddable sign-up form to make the sign-up experience easier for users. With an embeddable sign-up form, your website visitors never have to leave your site to sign up.

You can also customize your sign-up to include multiple email lists.  Create a few different lists based on your audience’s interests, then let your visitors select which list they’d like to be added to.

Here’s an example from the Bullock Museum:

Constant-Contact-embeddable-sign-up-form-example-600x527

5. Join My Mailing List Facebook App

Don’t forget about social media. Add a sign-up form to your business’s Facebook page to encourage your fans to sign up.

The app is very easy to set up and appears prominently at the top or side of your Facebook business page. Periodically draw attention to it in your posts to drum up more subscribers.

6. Digitize Business Cards

You may have a shoebox or fishbowl in your office where business cards are always piling up.

Make it easy on yourself to turn those cards into contacts without any data entry on your part. You can use apps like Shoeboxed or ScanBizCards Connector, which will upload these contacts right to your email list.

Make it easy for yourself, and your subscribers.

As you can see, there are plenty of ways to grow your list online and in-store without trying to decode messy handwriting.

And if you still want to chance it with pen and paper, go right ahead. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you!

 

Bria Sullivan, Content Developer, Constant Contact US

What it Takes to Create Engaging Content in a “Boring” Industry

Cute kittens.

Mouthwatering cupcakes.

Some small businesses and organizations have it easy.

But what if your business is focused on something a little less tempting — like, say, tax and accounting resources?

Can you ever create content that excites your audience?

This is a challenge the team at CPA for Freelancers® has been tackling since they started with email marketing six months ago.

“As far as accounting content, there’s a lot of dry and hard-to-understand content out there,” says Gaynor Meilke, community manager for CPA for Freelancers®. “What we want is to build a community where people can access information easily and in terms they understand.”

By providing useful and engaging content, CPA for Freelancers® has added over 2,000 subscribers to their email list and turned leads into paying clients.

Here are their best tips for creating engaging content in a seemingly “boring” industry:

1. Focus on your customers’ problems.

Every piece of content you write should address a problem your audience members struggle with and offer a possible solution to overcome it.

For CPA for Freelancers®, content inspiration often comes directly from conversations the founder, Jonathan Medows, CPA, has had with clients and prospects.

“Jonathan has served the freelance community for over a decade, so he’s encountered a lot of questions over the years,” says Gaynor. “We work to answer these questions with an interesting twist on what otherwise might be mundane topics. We try to keep it fresh, but also keep it relevant so people can put it to use.”

Here’s a look at some of the latest blog posts on the CPA for Freelancers® blog:

CPA-for-Freelancers-recent-blog-posts-600x287

From information on tax amnesty to how to file for a tax extension, their content provides helpful and timely advice.

CPA for Freelancers® also targets relevant keywords that people are searching for online. Spend some time researching keywords that are relevant to your business andoptimizing your website to show up in search results.

2. Get to know your readers better.

Once you start developing useful content, get a better understanding of who your readers are and what they’re responding to so you can tailor your content to them.

One of the best ways to connect with your audience further is to encourage people to sign up for your mailing list.

CPA for Freelancers® collects contact information from website visitors through an online sign-up form and a pop-up message created with the MailMunch app.

MailMunch-sign-up-form-example-600x572

MailMunch integrates with Constant Contact to automatically add new subscribers to your Constant Contact account.

“It’s been consistent since we launched the website and email marketing program that we’re getting 10-20 subscribers a week,” Gaynor says. “I think what’s really powerful is that these people want our information. People are very receptive to getting our emails, and we have a really low unsubscribe rate.”

3. Share new content consistently and track engagement.  

By practicing permission-based email marketing, CPA for Freelancers® is building an online audience that wants to hear from them. Now the challenge becomes keeping their audience interested by consistently delivering engaging content.

“When we’re creating emails, the number one thing is to make it something people want to read,” explains Gaynor. “That means choosing the right topics, then also not making the email too long. We want it to be concise, but also really friendly and humorous. Just as engaging as possible — not what you’d typically expect from another tax and accounting email.”

CPA for Freelancers® consistently sends one email a month, like clockwork. Here’s an example of their December 2015 email:

Constant-Contact-accounting-email-example

A typical email from CPA for Freelancers® includes a friendly introduction from founder, Jonathan Medows, two or three useful content pieces, and an overview of the business towards the end of the email.

Notice how the email is filled with fun headlines, like “Read the Blog…You’ll Thank Yourself Later!” and bright images.

“That’s Jonathan’s way of differentiating himself from being just another CPA,” Gaynor explains. “He’s made CPA for Freelancers® unique in that way — showing some personality. Everything is done with a little humor. I think it resonates really well.”

After sending an email, Gaynor uses email reports and website analytics to see what content is generating the most interest and driving people back to their website.

“Click-throughs are invaluable because then we get people back on our website,” says Gaynor. “That’s our primary goal because the website is one of the best ways to secure new clients. We can see in our website analytics that people get the email and visit the website. We get a lot of traffic that way.”

Tracking which links are getting the most interest gives CPA for Freelancers® insight into what content they should create next. For example, if the “Last Minute Tax Planning Checklist” generated the most clicks in the mailing above, Gaynor would know checklists are a good format for her audience.

4. Experiment with different types of content.

In addition to checklists and blog posts, CPA for Freelancers® also uses videos and webinars to connect with their audience.

The CPA for Freelancers® homepage features a short, minute-long video to provide a business overview.

CPA-for-Freelancers-website-homepage-600x590

(Watch their video here.)

Long-form content, like webinars, provides the opportunity for CPA for Freelancers® to go more in-depth and show their expertise. This gives attendees the chance to get to know, like, and trust CPA for Freelancers®.

Remember that engaging content is about reaching the right people with the right information at the right time. While a quick video works perfectly on a homepage for people who are new to your business, your mailing list might enjoy something more substantial like an e-book or webinar invitation.

Say goodbye to boring content!

As CPA for Freelancers® demonstrates, your industry is no excuse for dull, lifeless content.

Be helpful, actively work to understand your audience’s pain points and interests, and continually try new things to keep your content fresh and interesting.

Get started today by thinking about a big problem your customers or clients are facing. Ask yourself: What problems are they facing and how can my business help?

Write for your audience and help them be more successful. Then you’ll have them on the edge or their seat, every time.

Miranda Paquet, Content Manager, Constant Contact US

 

How to Interpret Your Email Marketing Results (Without Spending All Day Doing It)

Let’s face it: interpreting your results isn’t exactly the most exciting part of marketing your business.

You like seeing people opening your emails and value the increased traffic and new business that comes from using email marketing, but you really don’t have the time to get into the nitty gritty details.

You’re not alone.

When we surveyed 1,200 small business owners and asked what obstacles keep them from using marketing data: 49 percent say they don’t know where to begin and 40 percent say they just don’t have the time.

Using reporting and analytics to your advantage doesn’t need to be a full-time job.

Getting familiar with your reports can actually help you save time, because you’ll know which marketing activities are working and which ones may not be worth your time. It will also give you the ability spot key trends, see who is responding to your messages (and who isn’t), and get inspiration for your future marketing ideas.

In this post, you’ll learn how to interpret your email marketing results and make smarter decisions in less time.

Let’s start by covering the basics.

Here’s a list of the key email marketing terms you need to know:

1. All opens – the total number of times an email is opened, including repeat opens

2. Average industry rates – a benchmark for how well your email results match up to others in your industry

3. Bounce rate – the percentage of email subscribers that did not receive your message

4. Click-through rate – the percentage of clicks an email receives based on the number of contacts who opened the email

5. Delivery rate – the percentage of emails sent that were successfully delivered to your contacts’ inboxes

6. Did not opens – the number of people who have not yet opened your email

7. Sends – a complete list of contacts you sent your email to

8. Spam report – a contact on your email list receives your communication and reports it as unwanted or unsolicited

9. Unique opens – identifies each individual who opened your email and when

10. Unsubscribes/‘Opt-Outs’ – the total number of contacts who have decided to no longer receive your emails

After you send your email you can see the report details within your Constant Contact account under the Home and Reporting Tabs:

email-reporting-constant-contact-image-600x242

 

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Now that you have a better understanding of some of the key terms and how to find reports, let’s think about what these numbers are telling you and how to address some of your problem areas.

What if…

My email open rate is not as high as I’d like?

Open rates let you know how many of the people who receive your emails are actually taking the next step to open and read the content you send out.

If your open rates aren’t where you’d like them to be, there are a few things you’ll want to consider:

  • Your timing and frequency could be off: Sort your opens chronologically. Compare the average window of time people opened your email to the day/time you actually sent your email.  Then send your next email at that time when your readers are telling you they are most likely to open email. We have a tool to help you find the best time to send. Consider also if you are sending too often or not sending consistently enough.
  • It could be an issue with your subject line: Do you get to the point of the email in 4 to 7 words? Your subject line might be getting cut off or it might not stand out enough. You should also use tools like Google Analytics to identify keywords you’ve used in successful emails, blog posts, on social media, and in your website that draw your audience’s attention. Use them in your subject lines. Play around with funny subject lines or use questions — here are some ideas for strong subject lines. Rewrite your subject line and resend the email to those who did not open with a more powerful subject line.
  • The email’s content might not match up with your audience’s interests: As you review your open rate and click rate, you’re learning about what content and keywords they respond to. Use tagging to create groups of contacts interested in different topics or based upon their ‘behavior’ with your emails so that you can then refine your marketing using more targeted techniques designed to speak to the right people about the right things.

 

A good amount of people are opening my email, but no one seems to be clicking my links?

If you’re seeing a lot of people opening your emails, you already have an audience that wants to engage with you. But if your links aren’t getting clicked, your content is not connecting with these people as well as it should. Over time, these contacts could become less engaged and less likely to open future emails.

To avoid this problem, pay close attention to what type of content is grabbing your audience’s attention. Look back at your email results for any spikes in engagement, or see if there’s anything that’s been performing especially well on your social media channels.

You also have to make it easy for people to take the next step. For a high click-through rate, focus on these three things:

  • A strong call to action: Consider the wording in your call to action — is it clear? Is it telling people exactly the action they should take and do they get a sense of why it matters to them? It’s best to have a call to action near the top of your email so your readers don’t have to scroll too far down to get the main takeaway. Also use buttons to make your call to actions stand out.
  • Clear and concise information: Using multimedia like images and video is a great way to boost engagement and cut down on the amount of text in your email. Use these best practices for sending highly visual emails.
  • Mobile friendly design: Don’t forget about your subscribers who are reading your emails from a mobile device. Make it easy for them to engage with your content on a small screen by using a single column template and avoiding tiny fonts. Preview your emails on a mobile device before sending and use a mobile friendly email template.

 

 

Here’s a chart to help you make the most of your open and click-through rate data:

opens-and-clicks-chart-600x371

What if my emails are bouncing, being marked as spam, or receiving too many opt-outs?

Bounces, spam reports, and opt-outs are something you want to keep to a minimum. Keep an eye on these numbers, and use these tips if the numbers are higher than you’d like:

  • Bounces: There are a few different reasons why emails bounce, but often the problem is out of date contact information. If you have another way of reaching a contact, ask them for their updated information the next chance you get. Removing email addresses with ongoing issues will help you maintain a good email open rate.
  • Spam: Permission-based email marketing is the best way to avoid spam reports. Always ask your contacts before adding them to your mailing list. Be clear about what you will be sending and how often. Avoid these 6 mistakes that could get your email marked as spam.
  • Opt-out: A few opt-outs from time-to-time are normal as your contacts’ interests change and your messages might not be as relevant as they once were. To make sure you’re on track, find out why your contacts are opting out.

 

Connecting your results with your goals

As you begin to bring reports and analytics into your strategy, one of the most important steps will be connecting your email analytics to your business results so you can see what’s working well and what can be improved.

We created a simple worksheet to help!

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Use the tips we’ve outlined in this post and make sure to revisit the worksheet after your campaign goes out. What worked? What didn’t? How can you continue to improve your results?

With this worksheet, you’ll be on your way to better email marketing results and more opportunities to grow your business with email marketing.

Download and print these worksheets to easily track your results:

1. How to Measure the Business Impact of Your Email Marketing — Time-Based Promotions

2. How to Measure the Business Impact of Your Email Marketing — Nonpromotional emails 

Bria Sullivan, Content Developer, Constant Contact US

10 Email Marketing Terms You Need to Know to Improve Your Results

Congrats! You’ve sent your email campaign to your list of contacts. Now you can sit back and watch the orders pour in, right?

Not so fast.

Just because you got your message out, doesn’t mean that you can just kick back and relax just yet.

Email marketing doesn’t end when you hit ‘Send.’

It’s time to look at your reports so you can evaluate how your email did and take note of where you can make improvements.

But first, you need a strong grasp on the key reporting terms — what they mean and how they impact your business.

That’s why we created this glossary, for a quick reference of the key reporting terms you need to know.

Email-Marketing-Report-Glossary-1-464x600

Print this glossary so you can have it by your side the next time you dive into your email reports.

Bria Sullivan, Content Developper, Constant Contact US.

4 reasons your small business needs you to take a holiday

When was the last time you felt hot sand on the soles of your feet? Or an alpine wind biting your cheeks? If you are a micro-business owner, chances are it was way too long ago. However, failure to take time out could be harming your health, your relationships and your business.

It’s no secret that many of the UK’s small business owners are reluctant to take a summer holiday or simply forget to – and the smaller the business, the bigger the problem.

You know you should take a break. As a micro-business owner or freelancer, chances are you clock way more work hours than most across the course of a year, but if anything you need a working week given to you, not taken away. Clients are depending on you. You need to keep cash flow ticking over. Your business depends heavily – if not exclusively – on your input and there’s no one to cover you.

Sounds familiar?

Time to ditch the desk for the departure gate. Or at least take a holiday at home if you are watching your money.

Here’s how it will benefit your business:

  • Productivity
    Getting away from it all rekindles your depleted batteries. Many people return from a sunny sojourn with more clarity; more energy; more resilience.You see, nobody can work at full- tilt indefinitely. Relentlessly pulling long hours might make you feel like you are getting things done, but burning the candle at both ends actually stifles productivity. That can trigger a vicious cycle where you have to toil longer and longer to complete the same amount of good quality work. Unless you know something about the human brain that no-one else does, you will burnout eventually.A poolside piña colada is the perfect tonic. While you’re supping, hoik your smartphone into the deep end. Okay, maybe not, but at the very least stop your business email account from automatically updating on your phone. If you are anxiously checking your inbox every five minutes, there’s no point being away.
  • Health
    Working too much is bad for you: psychologically and physically.As a micro-business owner there is often nobody who thanks you for staying late. It’s easy to become – whisper it – a bit resentful at the workload you continue to shoulder, while others on the clock-in-clock-out merry-go-round jet off twice a year. Then there’s the stress reared by a work-life balance that’s permanently out of whack – and stress can manifest itself through a multitude of physical ailments. Some serious, some less so.

    A holiday is your time to decompress, de-stress and bring yourself back to tip-top form. Bobble about in the sea. Hit the golf course. Take in some historic sites. You will return to work refreshed, refocused and ready for anything.

    Less P&L, more TLC.

  • Relationships
    Humans are social creatures. Whether it’s a glass of wine with your partner or a meal out with your best friends, your brain craves human interaction. It just doesn’t feel that way after the third 14-hour day on the spin.Several studies have suggested an association between strong relationships and business success. Going on holiday with your nearest and dearest – or spending a week catching up at home – helps you reconnect and sate your brain’s social cravings.
  • Perspective
    Imagine yourself strolling around an art gallery. Plenty of beautiful art pieces to take in. What happens if you stand too close to the canvas? That work of art becomes nothing more than an indecipherable blur of colours.Sometimes you need to take a step back to get perspective. Getting away from work will help you separate the issues that matter from the trivial things that don’t and you can come back ready to knock spots off your competitors.

    Plotting your escape isn’t easy. But don’t pretend it’s impossible.

    Arranging a holiday is more complicated as a micro-business owner. It takes canny planning. The good news is that as a micro-business owner, your planning muscles are probably pretty darn brawny.

    Schedule your holiday as far in advance as possible to ensure your small business remains productive all summer long. If you have staff, it gives you time to make sure everyone understands what their responsibilities will be while you are away. Your staff should be in a position to keep the ship afloat independently in your absence, contacting you only if there is an emergency.

    Give your clients a minimum of six week’s notice regarding the dates you will be away. Try to build up a head of steam on any recurring duties to tide your regular clients over while you are gone. As for cash flow, pay any invoices that will be due while you are away . (being hounded by suppliers isn’t relaxing, poolside or otherwise.)

    Last job before you leave? Set an email autoresponder explaining that you are taking a break. The same applies with your voicemail greeting on any work phones. State when you will return and – if applicable – the contact details of anyone who can field enquiries in your absence. You could even hire a temporary virtual receptionist.

    So what are you waiting for? Time to dig out those swimmies and take to the skies.

    Your business needs it just as much as you do.

Tamsin Fox-Davies,  Senior Development Manager, Constant Contact UK.

Review from Trabolgan Holiday Village

Trabolgan Holiday Village have been working with E Presence and Constant Contact on various marketing campaigns over the last few months. During this time their team in particular Gillian have been a fantastic help and support.

They have clearly understood our goals and are focused on achieving the best results from each campaign that we have run and plan to run in the future.

They have advised, helped and guided us to ensure that all our campaigns have been a great success – reaching the right target market, giving a clear concise message to customers and ensuring the content, imagery and subject line are appealing to potential customers.

After each campaign we have received detailed reports and analysis on customer engagement which helps us with future campaigns. We would highly recommend E Presence to any company looking to run successful marketing campaigns and look forward to our continued work with them.

Deirdre Mannion, Marketing Manager
Trabolgan Holiday Village