8 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1. Small Businesses Favor a Minimum Wage Hike
If you listen to the conventional wisdom (which is often not a smart thing to do), you’d swear small business owners are totally against an increase in the minimum wage. Well, that’s not necessarily so—according to a recent poll released by Manta, 59% of small business owners are in favor of a higher minimum wage. And entrepreneurs seem to be leaders in providing fair wages, since 40% of owners surveyed pay their entry-level employees “far above” required wages.
Poll highlights include:
- Many small business owners already pay their employees higher than minimum wage.
- 40% pay entry-level employees “far above” the required wage in their state; 38% report paying “slightly above” minimum wage; and 14% pay state or local wages that are above the $7.25 hourly wage required under federal law.
- Candidate views on minimum wage influence small business owners’ voting decisions.
- 59% of business owners say they’re “more likely to vote for a state or national candidate who supports a minimum wage increase.”
- Some small businesses would need to take action to comply with higher minimum wages.
- The top ways they’d adjust their operations include charging more for goods/services (39%) and reduce staff (33%), while 28% say they wouldn’t need to make any changes.
2. How to Lose an Email Subscriber in 10 Days
Guest post by John Thies, CEO & cofounder Email on Acid, a service that gives email marketers a preview of how their emails are displayed in the most popular email clients and mobile devices.
Message without permission (because no one meets organically anymore)
This may be the quickest way to end a relationship before it even starts. Growing your list organically via single or double opt-in forms are the foundation of a healthy email list AND relationship.
If you cut corners and purchase a list or send to people who haven’t opted in, you’re spamming them, plain and simple. By purchasing a list, you run the risk of emailing a number of unqualified leads, or even worse… fake and malicious email addresses.
When deciding how to organically build your list, marketers go back and forth between the single or double opt-in methods. Personally, we love our email subscribers and want to ensure they love us back. That’s why we practice the double opt-in method in our lead generation efforts.
MailChimp tested this theory and found double opt-ins improved their email stats.
Ignore the power of a good wingman
When it comes to effective email marketing, an ESP (email service provider) must come in between you and your new subscriber if you ever want the relationship to grow. Ways ESPs optimize your email efforts:
- Allow personalization on a mass level
- Provide detailed reporting
- Offer pre-made responsive templates and creative
- Enhance delivery
An ESP has employees dedicated to staying up-to-date on the latest CAN-SPAM laws, going toe-to-toe with ISPs and helping maintain your sender reputation and inbox placement. More than saving you a headache, ESPs help your bottom line across the board.
Don’t think of an ESP as cramping your style, think of them as the email guru you need so you can form a deep bond with your new lead.
Show up looking like a hot mess
Sending an email that looks terrible on the mobile device or email client your new subscriber is using is the equivalent of showing up to a first date with ratted hair or wearing sweatpants. Whether it’s your first email to a new lead or an email you’re sending to your client of five years, sending a broken email can be devastating to your ROI.
And don’t fool yourself into believing that popping off a quick test to your iPhone or Gmail inbox will do the job; it won’t. That’s because every email client’s rendering engine is NOT created equal.
Almost every email client displays HTML differently because each client has its own unique way of interpreting your HTML. That is why your HTML code can get all messed up in some email clients like Outlook even though that very same code looks like pixel perfection in another inbox.
Instead of manually testing your email in hundreds of clients and devices before each send, try [Email on Acid, we’re ]the most cost-effective and quickest way to test your email. Get access to unlimited email, web page and spam testing so you can send with absolute confidence, free for 7 days.
Pass on the tab for the first date
Just because people gave you their email addresses for a free download or signed up to get your newsletter does NOT mean you should respond immediately with a hard sale. You have to court your new leads and show them the value of your product before asking them to take out their checkbook!
The most effective way to nurture new leads is through a drip campaign. Drip campaigns are automated emails, triggered by a certain action (i.e. downloaded guides or browsing actions), that are sent to the lead at the right moment to move them through the sales cycle.
Automation, as seen in drip nurturing campaigns, is the best and easiest way to send timely, relevant emails to your subscribers. It’s also worth your while, as automated emails get 119% higher click rates than broadcast emails. In the end, you’re going to have to build the relationship by sending valuable content over a period of time before you can expect them to shell out any dollars.
Stay top of mind, ALL of the time
No one likes a stage five clinger. Once you capture a new email address, you’re bound to lose it if you start flooding the inbox. So how often should you email your list? There isn’t an easy answer to that question, but there are some rules to follow to ensure you aren’t an over- or underwhelming sender.
First, take a hint from your peers. The DMA’s National Email Client Report 2015 found that over the past three years, companies were contacting individuals less. The research highlighted that 21% of companies send 4-5 emails a month to their contacts, so use that as a baseline for sending frequency.
Another way to send just the right amount of email to your members is by letting them choose how often you email them via a preference center. Bonobos did a fantastic job of letting their subscribers edit their preference center to ensure they are sending just the right amount of email.
Let the subscriber take the lead when it comes to how much they want to hear from you. Even if it’s only once a month, don’t take it personally, at least they’re still “somewhat” into you.
Call them by someone else’s name to make them insanely jealous
A personalization mishap, like inserting the wrong recipients name via a merge tag, can be a costly mistake. The lesson here is if you’re going to use merge tags to personalize your messaging (which we highly recommend you do), make sure your merge tags are pulling the correct data.
Also, have a contingency plan for what happens if that data does not exist. If you never collected data in the column the merge tag is pulling from, have it insert “reader” or “friend” so it reads, “Dear reader,” and not “Dear .”
Don’t let the fear of making a mishap with merge tags stop you from leveraging this strategy, though. According to the Experian, personalized promotional emails were shown to lift transaction rates and revenue six times higher than non-personalized emails. The study also found that personalized subject lines delivered a 26% higher open rate overall.
Go BIG, every time you contact them
Anything to get their attention, right? How about we dial it back a notch. Overhyping or misrepresenting what’s inside your email in the subject line is what we call clickbait.
A Return Path study of more than 9 million emails found that emails with clickbait-like words in the subject line had lower read rates compared to emails with similar content that avoided clickbait words.
For example, the use of “Secret of” resulted in an 8.69% decrease in read rates compared to messages containing similar content sent under different subject lines. The word “shocking” accompanied a 1.22% decrease in read rates as well.
Besides underperforming, clickbait subject lines also destroy the trust between you and your new lead. Even if this tactic feels like an easy way to get an open, remember that it may just as easily result in an unsubscribe.
Now that you know what to avoid, check out these 5 tips to create compelling subject lines to get your creative juices flowing.
Make it impossible to dump you
If someone wants to end the relationship—let them. It’s better for both of you in the long run. If you make a teeny, tiny unsubscribe button that’s hard for your reader to find, they’re more likely to mark you as spam rather than take the time to locate the link.
Remember, you don’t want someone on your list who doesn’t want to hear from you. The more engaged subscribers you have on your list (read: people that ACTUALLY are interested in your service), the better engagement, opens and click through rates you will have!
3. Free Financial Resource
Many of us want to stay on top of our finances, but all too often we don’t even know where to begin. The first step is obviously to set a goal. To help figure out the first step—setting a goal—MassMutual has launched a new financial goal calculator (in English and Spanish) that provides a customizable action plan to help people learn where to begin and attain financial security.
The calculator was developed to address the top four financial concerns of consumers found in MassMutual’s study: income, savings, retirement and debt. The first in the marketplace, the calculator addresses each financial concern by helping consumers take only 10 minutes to set a goal using the simple concept of 5-10-15-20.
Check it out here.
4. Should You Market on Facebook?
Alignable recently conducted a study of local businesses and how they use Facebook. The conclusion—“Given the number of users, targeting capabilities and various marketing offerings, Facebook has established itself as a core part of the marketing mix for a significant number of business owners.”
First the why. Why do local businesses market their companies on Facebook? The biggest reason—to “generate awareness.”
But how are small businesses using Facebook for marketing?
- 69% of local businesses are likely or somewhat likely to upload a video to promote their business on Facebook in Q2
- 63% use Facebook primarily on desktop vs. 37% on mobile
- 61% paying to advertise on Facebook spend $50 or less per month
- 50% only use Facebook’s organic “free” marketing offerings
- 38% uploaded a video to Facebook to promote their businesses in Q1
- 6% are buying Instagram paid ads
5. How to Really Go on Vacation
To maintain peak productivity, you and your employees need to be rested and relaxed. Taking a vacation can help you do just that, but, according to Amy Fox, the CEO and founder of Accelerated Business Results, a leader in innovative business learning solutions and consultant to Fortune 500 companies, when people go on vacation, they often continue to respond to work emails and messages, making their employees/bosses/coworkers think they are available even when they are supposed to be “off.”
Fox says most managers recognize the benefits taking time off from work provide to employees, including “higher productivity, better morale and employee retention and significant health benefits.” There is, she adds, “a long-term benefit to employees truly unplugging and recharging, both for the employee and the company. Rested employees are more productive, happier employees.”
Fox shares some tips about how to be truly “off” when going on vacation:
- Spell it out in policy. [At my company we] detail steps employees should take in its employee handbook. For instance, employees are expected to put their days off on a vacation calendar at least 60 days in advance. A month before taking off, employees are proactively planning what needs to be covered while they are away, delegating responsibilities and setting expectations with coworkers. Two weeks before they depart, employees submit a plan to their bosses covering any unexpected “what ifs” that might arise.
- If You’re Really Off, Don’t Be “On.” If an employee sets up an email or phone alert that they are out of the office, it is up to the person getting the message to respect that, and the person who is away to uphold their “out of office” status. Resist the urge to respond. Otherwise, what’s the point of even telling others that you’re out?
- Real Emergency? Have a plan in place to handle it. Companies and employees should decide in advance the protocol for how they would handle the most extreme emergencies, including how to contact the employee if absolutely necessary.
6. BBB Joins Forces with YP
Better Business Bureau (BBB) accreditations and ratings now appear within YP business listings across the web and on the YP app, providing additional assurance to consumers seeking trustworthy businesses and professionals and allowing YP’s site users to click through to bbb.org to view information about complaints, customer reviews, licensing, government actions, and more. Additionally, the nearly 70 million users on YP.com and the app can narrow their search for only businesses with a top BBB rating, turning the chore of finding a trustworthy provider into only a few swipes on a smartphone or clicks on the YP website.
In the initial launch, YP displays BBB rating information if the business is rated A or A+ by the BBB, which accounts for approximately 1.3 million BBB Business Reviews
7. Hardware-Encrypted USB Flash Drives
Kingston Digital just released two new hardware encrypted USB Flash drives that can be managed with SafeConsole® by DataLocker®. DataTraveler® 4000G2 with Management (DT4000G2DM) and DataTraveler Vault Privacy 3.0 with Management (DTVP30DM) solve the needs of those organizations required to meet Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) and protect data at the highest level across their mobile workforce. Both devices can be used as a managed solution via the SafeConsole Encryption Management Platform from DataLocker Inc., Kingston’s partner for encrypted USB drive management.
The new Kingston USB drives are both 256-bit AES hardware encrypted and FIPS certified to ensure maximum corporate and personal data security. Additionally, SafeConsole is the only secure USB management platform for secure USB drives with true password management—both remote and local. The platform enables secure resetting of forgotten passwords, activation of full audit trails, geolocation and geofencing to ensure cross-border compliance, automatic inventory, and a “remote kill” feature in the event of device loss.
Organizations should develop best practices to safeguard data outside of a company’s firewalls as data leaks become more prevalent and certain regions adopt regulatory policies.
8. Real Estate Directory Grows
HomeASAP, the leading provider of online marketing solutions for real estate professionals, announced its Real Estate Agent Directory (READ) on Facebook has surpassed 450,000 members located in more than 15,000 U.S. cities. The directory was established in 2011 to help connect homebuyers and sellers with real estate agents on Facebook. Members are provided free customized agent profiles for their Business Pages where they can promote their listings and garner leads and referrals from Facebook’s 1.59 billion member user base.
According to a 2013-14 CRT Realtor® Technology Survey Report by NAR, 77% of REALTORS use Facebook for real estate business purposes in order to build relationships/network (70%) and increase visibility, exposure and marketing (64%). Ten percent says Facebook is “the single best marketing software/website for generating new leads”, ranking above some of the nation’s largest home search portals.
John Marshall, COO and CFO of HomeASAP says, “94% of all homebuyers start their searches online and consumers spend an average of 40 minutes a day on Facebook. So naturally, agents have to be there.”