I don’t know about you, but my mind has been consumed with planning for 2018!  Specifically, I have been asking myself “how I can grow my business in the new year?”  The biggest question I have been asking myself is “What are the activities that I need to be involved in to grow the business and how can I tell if those activities will work and are working?”  Almost like kismet, I stumbled over the SMART acronym while surfing social media.  While it is not a new idea, it is definitely a timely one!

If you are not familiar with the SMART acronym, here is how it breaks down as it applies to business and goal setting:

S – Specific (make your goal is clear and not ambiguous) 

M – Measurable (how will you measure your results to ensure you have reached your goal?)

A – Attainable (make sure the goal is something realistic, something you can achieve)

R – Relevant (does the goal make sense for your business and your business plan?)

T – Time-Bound (how long will it take you to achieve your goal or what deadline did you assign to this goal?)

This acronym is a favorite as it reminds me to be laser focused when planning my goals for 2018.  Each goal I set for 2018 will need to be SMART.  Each letter of the acronym will be filled out in order for it to be considered a serious goal for 2018.  To do that, I created a 2018 SMART planner that I am excited to share with you!  You can download the planner and complete SMART for each goal you plan to achieve in 2018.

To get your SMART planner, click HERE.

In the last decade, social media became the most influential marketing tool. Every business, big and small, has incorporated social media into their marketing campaign.

Social media can benefit your business in a number of ways. Unfortunately, we’ve seen a lot of business owners fail despite their hard work. Myths about why and how to use social media persist. Believing these myths will only cripple your marketing campaign.

Here are some of the most common social media myths that hold business owners back. It’s time to bust these myths.

Social media is only for young people

Some people think that social media is just for millennials and the younger generation. That’s not really an accurate picture of social media users today. In fact, studies suggest that a huge majority of the U.S. adult population is on Facebook. 52% of adults aged 55-64 has a social media account.

Almost everybody is on social media. Having a business account will help you reach your target audience. If you don’t already have one for your business, then you’re losing a lot of great opportunities.

Set up an account in every social media channel to maximize reach

We all know that social media makes it easier for businesses to connect with their audience. But that doesn’t mean that you should set up and maintain an account in every platform. If you do, you’ll only be wasting your time.

In order to yield great results, you need to know which platform your audience frequently use and then focus your marketing efforts there. Maintaining a presence across different platforms can help your business, but if it isn’t helping you out, just cut it loose.

You need a lot of followers to succeed

Most people think that more is always better. Sure, having millions of followers is great. It means that people are familiar with your brand. But more than the number of followers, what’s more important is the type of followers you have.

Let’s say you have 100,000 followers. Sure, that’s a great thing. But it won’t benefit your business if majority of these people are not reading or responding to your posts. What you need to focus on is interaction. It doesn’t matter if you only have 1,500 followers, just as long as these people are actually interested in what you’re selling. Having lots of likes is only valuable if you have the right people following you.

Canva is a great tool for business owners to use, to create those eye-grabbing images for social media. It is an easy to use platform, that allows you to be super creative and make amazing images without being a graphic designer and having to pay a fortune for images. Canva is great for creating your branded images, marketing materials, presentations, menus and so much more! Sometimes you will see an image as you scroll through social media and say WOW that is an awesome image! You may think to yourself “how did they do that?” Now you know! Create images that STOP THE SCROLL as we say! Enjoy!

Each business should have a list of core values, your core values are what makes your business run. What type of people you want to hire, or work with. This is the foundation of your business.

We will learn in 5 simples steps how to figure out what your core values are.
Download your FREE Core Values Checklist Here

2018 Social Media Marketing Guide

Plan for Social Success in 2018

[This guide was originally published by Simple Measured]

Like the feeling of pulling your “ugly but hilarious” holiday sweater from storage, the arrival of our 2018 Social Planning Guide signals a new year is on its way. Planning next year’s social strategy across teams can feel daunting, but our guide and editable worksheets will have everyone working together.

The Simply Measured planning guide helps you to:

  • Identify and incorporate trends that will keep your messaging current in 2018
  • Outline and capture the social metrics that reflect success for your business
  • Map your social strategy clearly and concisely using our editable worksheets

Download your Social Media Marketing Guide Here

Google Analytics Reports

Do you know if writing your blogs and sharing them is actually leading to more traffic? Is it helping you reach your business goals?

Maybe not yet, but I wanted to share some help reports through Google Analytics that will help you to see the benefit of the blogs you are writing. We use Google Analytics on nearly all of our client websites because it is free, it is user friendly, and even though some of the data is hidden, it allows us to make clear, actionable changes based on how users are interacting with a website.

Which Google Analytics reports should you run?

Report 1: Audience >> Location/Technology/Mobile Reports

BIMS Presentation – Introduction to Google AnalyticsHere take a look at the Location, Technology, and Mobile reports which will tell you:

  • Where your site visitors are coming from. If you are targeting a very specific location, you will want to make sure visitors are actually coming from here. Or, if you run a specialized campaign on Google Adwords for a conference, for example, you’ll be better understanding if these folks actually came to the site.
  • The Technology and Mobile reports allow you to see if folks are using one browser or device over others. This could sway marketing decisions in the future.
    google analytics reports to run google analytics reports to run

Report 2: Acquisition >> Source/Medium Report

  • The Source/Medium report shows which sites drive traffic to your blog.
  • Within this report you can dive down to Keyword to see how your blogs are translating to organic traffic.

google analytics reports to run google analytics reports to run google analytics reports to run

Report 3: Behavior >> All Pages

  • The All Pages report will show you which pages people are viewing the most frequently.
  • It can give insights into other topics you should be blogging about.

google analytics reports to run google analytics reports to run

Each of these reports can be altered to provide more detail, but these will provide a good start to understanding how visitors get to and interact with your website and blog.

What are brand colors

WRONG! There’s a whole lot of research done behind the meaning of colors!

When you think of your ‘Brand Identity’ what does that mean to you?

Personality is the emotional, and human, association to a brand. Identity is the image created and used by a company to relate to consumers. An identity can include all forms of communication and visuals such as logos, colors or fonts. But the two are symbiotic. A brand’s identity should be part of its personality.

This is one of our favorite color meaning charts: Attribution http://blog.visme.co/color-psychology-in-marketing-and-brand-identity-part-2/  

When you talk about creating a brand it all starts with the colors, fonts,  and styles.

Here are a few steps to get you started:

  1. Mood Board Inspiration
    What’s a mood board?

It’s a collection of different items that can help you get a feel of what your brand is all about. It can contain images, textures, patterns, typefaces, and other design elements. You may even put together a mood board with logos, website, images that you like the feel of to maybe replicate.

How to make an effective mood board:

Don’t set limits.

The moment you start making a mood board, understand that this is not a place for you to hold back. Put as many elements into it as possible. Remember that it’s always easier for you to take out elements that do not work out in the end. But if you hold back, you might miss out on things that you could have added, but thought twice about

Be detailed and specific.

Sometimes, you would add an image that struck you because of a specific element. A screenshot of a webpage perhaps, or a poster you found online. You may like the font used, or the color scheme applied. In these cases, make sure you add notes that specify what you liked about the image. This way, you can remember which element you should be zooming in on when you encounter the image in your board.

2. Color Palette & Fonts

Your brand identity is not just a logo of your business, but a reflection of your personality. When it comes to creating your brand, color plays a vital role in the process. People choose brands, make buying decisions, change their actions, choose what stores to go into, all because of COLOR, and they may not know they even do it!  

Think of a stop light, you always know Red means stop, Green means Go and Yellow means caution or slow down, right? This changes the way we think about colors and what they mean to us as individuals. At the end of the day, Color is EVERYTHING! These colors will be in your logo, website, social media, print materials, publications, promotional items and so much more, it’s important you take your time and really think about this.

What color makes you happy? What’s your favorite color?
– Which colors and fonts are you naturally drawn towards?
– Are there certain colors that can represent your design niche the best?– Which colors would you prefer to avoid?

-Are there certain colors that can represent your design niche the best?

-What do I want the identity of your business to say to my clients?

3. Logos

Primary Logo—Size and Scaling The logos are all saved to paths—which means they are rendered as vector art and can be continuously scaled. When changing the size it is important to do this proportionally and not stretch the art or change the original proportions. The logo shall not be used below the minimum size shown below
Primary Logo—Color Usage The primary logo may be used in four different color combinations as shown below. The logo should never be used in any other color combinations other than those specified below.
Secondary Logo The secondary logo was created for situations where Highline is more of an endorsement or equal party. It can be used in situations where there is limited space or where the full name is not necessary. It may also be interchanged with the main logo if the name Highline Community College is stated elsewhere.
Secondary Logo—Size and Scaling Like the primary logo, the secondary logo is saved to paths—which means they are rendered as vector art and can be continuously scaled. When changing the size it is important to do this proportionally and not stretch the art or change the original proportions. 

Do you have one? Do you have a stacked logo for social media?

4. Social Media & Marketing Graphics

When you are creating all these graphics, it’s so important to make sure you have the right size for each social media platform, cheat sheet here http://www.visualistan.com/2016/12/the-2017-social-media-image-sizes-cheat.html


What social media platforms do you have, that you need to make sure your graphics are correct?

5. Website & Consistency –

When communicating as the brand offline or via your website, social media profiles, or other online channels, it’s important to keep a consistent tone and personality. If your brand is fun and friendly on Twitter, it should have a similar flavor on Facebook and LinkedIn. Your messaging on LinkedIn may be less casual or more professional, but it shouldn’t sound like it’s coming from a different brand altogether. Think about it this way: there is the “at work” you and the “at home or with friends” you. Your personality is the same, but your mannerisms adjust to the context. The same goes for your brand personality and selected communication channels.

Is your brand identity unique?
Does it have passion behind it?
Is it consistent?

optimize email marketing

I’ve always had a touch and go relationship with our email list. Right out the gate I added every business card I received to my list, but soon the email frequency dwindled and ultimately died when I found that I didn’t have enough content to share! Soon a year passed, then I jumped back into sending emails followed by another 2 year hiatus. Each time I started sending emails, I received positive feedback from my list, increased traffic, and most importantly, new sales. the downfall was that I also alienated individuals because they simply forgot who I was. Learning from my years of wasted opportunity using my email list, I’ve learned some very valuable lessons that can help you kick start your email marketing most effectively.

Below I’ve outline the 4 steps to email marketing: Building your list, Writing your email, Optimizing your subject line, and Mistakes to avoid. You’ll notice as you read through that subject lines and consistency do appear most frequently in these steps. Being consistent is half the battle and once you have an email marketing program in place, optimizing your subject line can have the biggest effect on the open rate and sales from your emails.

STEP 1: Building your Email List

While everyone is focusing on building a strong social media presence, others tend to forget about the importance of email.

Your email list plays a big role in your marketing campaign. It can help you build relationships with your target audience, generate buzz about your business and attract new customers. That said, it makes sense to continuously grow your email contacts.

Interested to grow your email list and grow your subscribers? Then you came to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll be sharing with you some effective strategies on how to get more email subscribers. Follow the tips below to get your first 1,000 subscribers.

Place a subscription box on every page of your website

Most website owners think that people would first access the home page before navigating through the site. But that’s not always the case. They may check your products, scroll through the “about us” section or any other page on your site. You can use your website to generate more contacts by adding a subscription form where your visitors can sign up. Be sure to place the form at the top of the page to make it easier for people sign up. Survey revealed that sites that place sign up boxes as part of their top banner perform better as compared to those located at the footer area. In order to get people to subscribe to your newsletters, make sure your sign up box is a prominent feature of your website. The more visible it is, the more subscribers you’ll get.

As a marketer, you need to answer the question most people ask: Why would I subscribe to your email list if I can just follow you on Facebook? To urge people to subscribe to your newsletters, let them know that you offer subscriber-only content. Also, don’t forget to mention how often they’ll be receiving emails. Setting expectations upfront helps reduce unsubscribe rates.

Tip: I’ve decided upon ConvertKit as my go-to list building tool. It is a very straightforward interface to create forms, landing pages, incentive downloads, and corresponding sequences. Additionally, there is quite robust tracking, a definite plus! You can learn more about ConvertKit Here (*affiliate link).

Content is king

You won’t have a hard time getting people to sign up for email updates if you have great content on your site. As a marketer, it is your responsibility to constantly supply your readers with fresh, relevant and informative content. The best marketers for your products or services are the people who are already using them. For subscribers who have been on your list for a very long time, a discount or a small incentive would get them talking. Encourage them to share your list with their family and friends.

In Practice: Don’t just assume that you can’t reuse your blogs, correspondence with clients, or recent presentations. ALL of these have the potential to make in-depth content that can then be shared as resources, email campaigns, social media posts, videos, etc. Check out this guide on Repurposing Content as it can save you time and energy as you increase your online exposure. 

Social networks

Another way to build your list is by using social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. Due to the viral nature of Facebook, it pays to add a subscription form on your page. Be sure to include a sign up link to your email list on the “About” section of your page. For an added boost, you can also add it on your personal account and tell your family and friends about it.

Offer an incentive

People love receiving free stuff. If you can give them something like a free trial of one of your products, a free ebook with useful information or access to an exclusive video, you’ll make an impact to your target audience. When done correctly, it can help you build a relationship with your audience and grow your email list.

Your offer should be interesting enough to your ideal customers. Find out more about your target audience and know what’s keeping them up until 3:00 am.

In Practice: My main incentive offer is our Free Resource library. You can get to this a few ways – either the link in our navigation or from the home page. Making this very obvious for site visitors increases the number of new email subscribers you can receive from your website.

Run a contest

Social media contests are one of the most effective ways to get email addresses from folks who want to hear from you. You are free to hold whatever contest and on any social media channel you want. But since majority of the adult population has a Facebook account, you might want to start there. Also, ask people to enter their email address in order to participate.

STEP 2: Writing your Content

Tips to write better email | write better email marketing for business

You’ve spent a significant amount of time writing an email that people will hopefully open and read. You’ve racked your brains for the best subject line. You’ve polished each sentence. Now, you’re finally ready to hit “send”. For some reason, you aren’t effectively grabbing the attention of your audience. You’re not getting a response from them either.

This blog post looks at strategies to help you craft an effective email marketing copy that converts. Follow these tips to ensure that your email is effective, clear and successful.

Write a meaningful subject line

Most professionals receive 50 to 200 emails a day. With that volume of email, it can be easy to overlook some important messages. If you want your email to be opened and read, then write an informative subject line that will give recipients an idea about the content of the email.

A clear subject line will capture the attention of the receiver and give busy professionals a concrete reason to read the message. Take a moment to write a subject line that accurately describes the content before you hit “send”.

A newspaper headline has 2 functions: 1. it sums up the content of the article; 2. it captures people’s attention. Based on this headline, you can decide whether or not you want to read the article. Your email’s subject line should also do the same thing.

If you have a very short message to convey and can include all the information the person need in the subject line, even better.

Struggling to write a subject line? I recently wrote a post with tips to create an award winning headline here

Keep it simple

People are more likely to read short and concise emails. Keep messages clear and brief. Use as few words as possible, but make sure that it contains all the important information. Also, focus on one particular subject per email. If you need to talk about a separate topic, then write another email.

We’re all busy. And if someone opens your email, this is your chance to get the message across. Don’t ruin it with poor content.

No one wants to read a long, ambiguous email. So get to the point and keep your word count low. Also, use simple English and steer clear from technical lingo.

Be personal

Just as you would in a letter, it is polite to add a salutation before jumping straight into the text of the email. But be sure to address the person appropriately.

If you are sending an email to a prospective client, then you want to address him as Mr. Johnson. Meanwhile, if you are writing to a friend, starting the email with Dear Mr. Johnson would be too formal. In this case, “Hi Bob” is the best way to go.

Email is usually the way professionals communicate, but that doesn’t mean that you should sound like a legal document or a spammer. The content should feel as if it came from actual human being, not a machine. While it’s good to keep the message short and brief, including a personal note can help warm up the conversation.

Tip: Back to ConvertKit (or any other CRM).. make sure that you are trying to capture both the first name and email address of your subscribers. Then, whenever possible, use the NAME embed code to automatically personalize your emails. 

Proofread

Your emails are a reflection of your attention to detail, values and professionalism. The last thing you want is to send an email that contains embarrassing spelling mistakes, horrible grammar mistakes, lack of proper greetings or one that is written in bright colors. Make sure you edit and proofread your email for grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes before sending it.

STEP 3: Increase your Open Rate

Tips for businesses to increase open rates with email marketing

Email marketing is considered as an important part of a business’ marketing campaign. It has one of the most effective ways to engage with your prospects and customers. Plus, it provides the highest returns on investments.

Open rates give you an idea as to how your campaign is doing. If the open rate for your email program is better than the average, then good for you. But if your open rates are getting worrisome, you might want to look for ways to improve it.

Here are some easy ways to increase your email open rate.

Create an interesting subject line

If there is one opportunity to convince recipients to read the email, it is the subject line. After all, it is the first thing they see on any email. Your subject line must be clear and concise. It should tell readers what to expect from the email.

A good subject line is the key achieving better open and response rates. Since most people receive several emails in one day, they only need a few seconds to decide whether or not they’re interested to read the email. If your subject line is not interesting enough, people are less likely to read it. Also, make sure that your subject line is short enough that recipients will be able to read it at a glance.

Make it personal

You’ve spent so much time collecting people’s first name and email address, now is the right time to put them to use. Personalization has been proven to drive engagement and convert more leads. It is also a good idea to send your emails from a person or an employee, rather than from the company.

Studies show that subject lines that contain the first name of the subscriber boosts open rate every time. This is a subtle trust builder and an instant attention grabber. Make sure you personalize subject lines with first names.

Timing is key

Timing is everything in marketing. If you send emails too early in the morning or too late at night, they can get lost in the shuffle of other emails. If you send it too late in the afternoon, they may decide to put off reading until the morning since they might be too busy accomplishing some tasks before going home. The best time to send emails is during lunch or after work, when you know they’re reading.

If your campaign has a B2C focus, your audience may have time to check their emails after work or during lunch break. If you are running a B2B campaign, it might be best to send emails early in the morning or in the afternoon. Your goal is to send an email exactly when the recipients are checking their inbox.

In Practice: Honestly, every business and every tribe is different. You may find that your emails with promotions receive the highest open rates on Tuesday’s, but your newsletters sharing blog posts have the highest open rate on Sunday’s. One recent study stated that Friday emails had the highest open rate, but Saturday emails had the most conversions. MailChimp has another study that states Tuesday and Thursday are the best to send emails. It really just depends on your market and your promotions. Don’t be afraid to play around with different days of the week and times of day. 

Be consistent

Send too frequently and you may end up losing subscribers. Send too infrequently and you may cause your readers to stop interacting with your email. Send your emails at a consistent frequency to build your email reputation. A good rule of thumb is to send no less than 1 email a month and no more than 1 email a week unless it is for a specific promotion.

Clean up that dusty old email list

Most businesses are so determined to expand their email list that they tend to ignore the open rate. It doesn’t matter if you only have a small mailing list, as long as it is filled with engaged subscribers. It’s a good idea to remove inactive subscribers periodically.

STEP 4: Email Mistakes to Avoid

Email marketing mistakes to avoid for small business

Email marketing isn’t dead. In fact customer acquisition has quadrupled over the past 4 years. This goes to show how effective email marketing is for small businesses. That’s great news, provided that your emails are being read by the recipients.

In order to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your marketing efforts, you have to focus on what’s killing your open rates and find a way to fix them. While some mistakes are harmless, the following mistakes could be costly.

Poor frequency

While a flood of emails may distance the customer you’re trying to attract, the same reaction can also be expected if you send emails on an inconsistent basis.

Have a consistent enough cadence that your subscribers would be thrilled to receive an email from you, yet relaxed enough that they don’t wonder whether or not you’re still sleeping at night.

Forgetting to send emails at important events

The introduction of new products or services, promotions and events your business will be holding are some examples of email worthy announcements. If you have an important event to cover, make it a point to create a multi-email campaign around it.

Tip: I always recommend clients put together a content calendar as a way to visualize their entire year. In our model, as presented in Blogging Your Business, your blog is at the center of your marketing efforts. You want to make sure your blog posts are Timely, Relevant, and Authentic. This content then can be shared across all of your other marketing efforts from social media to email marketing, and even offline presentations. Creating the content calendar keeps you aware of external events and holidays that can affect your business. 

Poor subject lines

Subject lines are your first impression to every email recipient. They have to be clear enough that people know why you’re sending an email, short enough that they fit the screen of tablets and smartphones and enticing enough not to give away the entire email. Also, be cautious about using words and phrases that could mark your email as SPAM.

Unreliable email list

Whether you’re emailing inactive subscribers, not removing hard bounces or collecting bad data, having an unreliable email list can affect your open rates.

The key to a successful email campaigns is clean data. Make sure that all customer information is valid and up to date. Hard bounces should also be removed from your database.

Additionally, 43% of email recipients click the spam button based on the sender email address and name. So, it’s extremely important that the recipient knows who you are and are expecting to receive emails from you.

Optimize email marketing | Email marketing tips | How to use Email Marketiing | Email marketing for business