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Tools | Successful Email Campaign Strategies

A recent study conducted by Constant Contact revealed the winning combination of what makes customers click-through emails sent by small businesses.  Breaking it down to the nitty-gritty, their collective research concluded that emails with three or fewer images and about 20 lines of text optimize click-through rates.*

Success of an email campaign not only depends on those technical factors but also what type of small business you are, specifically whether you are profit or non-profit. Email marketing strategies differ greatly between the two businesses primarily because their audiences are very distinct – consumers vs. volunteers/members.

In either type of business, Director of Digital Marketing Education for Constant Contact, suggests these four tips when planning your next email marketing campaign.

  • Keep it clear. Stay focused on what it is you want to communicate and don’t sway from your main point.
  • Keep it concise.  Aim to quickly and efficiently deliver your message, avoiding too many unnecessary words. This said, you still want to keep your audience engaged – so make it worth reading.
  • Keep it correct. Often, people mislead their audience by using jargon. Your choice of words should be easy to understand, delivering a clear message to your audience.
  • Keep it courteous. The general rule of thumb is to keep it nice and friendly. Sure, you can offer a sassy twist if that’s your style, but keeping it courteous is always in style, as well.

It also goes without saying that a strong email campaign should be part of a small business’s strategy that should also include mobile, social and general marketing.

* 20 lines of text was revealed as having the highest click-through rates from all of the data analyzed by Constant Contact but does vary depending on industry type.

Tools | Marketing Timeline Machine

Marketing Timeline Machine

Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards.”

So why not look to the future to see where you need to go?  Try this exercise to help you plan your overall marketing efforts.  It mixes a little envisioning with Sakichi Toyoda’s “5 whys” technique.

  1. Think of where you want you business to be in 5 years.  Write down in vivid detail how your business is doing.  What are you sales like? How many employees do you have? Where are you distributing your product?  Describe your facilities.  What are customers saying about you in social media? And don’t just think about it; actually write it down.  For some reason, the act of writing, convinces your brain that it’s more real.  Take your time on this.  Make it as detailed as possible.
  2. Next, ask yourself, what did you do 4 years from now to help make all the things you envisioned in year 5 a reality?  Also describe what your company is like in 4 years.  Write down and describe it, as well as the actions your company took.
  3. Next, ask yourself, what you did 3 years from now to help make all the things you envisioned in year 4 a reality?  Write it down and also describe year 3.
  4. Keep doing this until you get to the present.

Now you have goals and potential initiatives you should consider taking for the next 5 years.  It may not be perfect and you’ll need to adjust it each year.  But now you have a framework to start from.  Happy adventures!

Tools | Aperture Advertising – A good rule of thumb

aperture advertising

If you’re into photography, you know that a camera’s aperture is the opening that lets light in to record the picture.

A small aperture (the size of the opening) makes more of the image in focus.

A larger aperture makes only a part of the image in focus and the rest will be fuzzy.

One is not necessarily better than the other.  It just depends on what kind of shot you want to take.  This is an interesting analogy for your advertising.  Think about your advertising this way…

When you’re trying to reach a wider audience (you want more image in focus), you need to use a very concise and clear value proposition.  A singular message.  There’s just too much static in the world.  People simply won’t remember you if you’re trying to communicate a variety of messages.  Be focused.  Communicate your message consistently, over and over again.

When you’re trying to reach a very specific audience (small area in focus), instead you need to widen your messaging to communicate all the ways you can service them.  They want a customized experience just for them.  They need to be convinced why your product is better than all the generic ones out there.  So broaden your messaging and tell them all the reasons why you’re perfect for them.

Aperture Advertising.  A good rule of thumb.

Tools | The Brand Game

MCA The Brand Game

If often helps to use comparisons to get a different take on your industry.  Here’s a fun and quick exercise to help you to get clearer on your positioning, as well as your competitors.

  1. Identify a list of your competitors
  2. Download this PDF with a table of brands by category.
  3. Gather a team of your employees to do this exercise.
  4. Print a set for each person to do independently.
  5. For each page write down in the boxes below each logo which brand you feel your company most identifies with.
  6. Write down which of your competitors relates most with the other brands on the document.
  7. After everyone’s done, share your answers.
  8. Discuss the reasoning behind each answer.  Focus on the differences to have a healthy conversation on how your employees view your brand and your competitors.

Tools | Evaluate the Levels of Perspective for your marketing

MCA Levels of Perespective

David Allen coined the concept of Horizons of Focus to illustrate the different levels of perspective we should consider to help manage our workflow.  We can use a similar framework for your marketing efforts to help you keep your priorities straight.

Ground Level: These are your specific marketing tactics.  The print ad that’s going to run next week.  The TV schedule that’s flighting.  That kind of stuff.

10,000 ft (Programs): This would be any kind of promotional program you may have going on.  It could be a loyalty program, contest, monthly special, etc.

20,000 ft (Annual Plan): This is basically your marketing plan for the year.

30,000 ft (Markets and Products): Who is your target audience(s) and what overall product categories are you selling?

40,000 ft (Positioning): How you position your brand against the competition is essential to create a clear distinction in people’s minds.

50,000 ft (Brand Promise): At the highest level is your brand promise.  All of your marketing should be consistently communicating this message.

Use this diagram and fill out each level.  Hang it up in your office as a constant reminder, so that when you have to make a decision, you have a quick reference to make sure it aligns with all your levels of focus.

It’s also a good idea to evaluate it every few months to make sure everything still makes sense given your current situation.