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Smarter Email Marketing

Getting Your Business in Gear for 2020

By Rieva Lesonsky

As we head further into 2020, the consensus seems to be it will be a good year for small businesses. “The economy is strong,” says Sharon Miller, managing director, head of small business for Bank of America, “driven by consumer spending. According to Bank of America data, consumer spending is up 5.5% on $3 trillion worth of transactions, which will help drive momentum in 2020.”
And in a new poll of small business owners from BizBuySell, many business owners are optimistic—with 34% of them saying the small business economy will improve, while only 15% expect it to decline. The one caveat is 23% are “unsure.” The uncertainty seems to spring from concerns about a “potential recession,” which ranks at the top of the list of things they’re worried about for 2020. In fact, 48% say they’re either “very concerned” or “concerned,” and another 32% are “slightly concerned.”

If you too are worried about a recession, you cannot hold back on your 2020 marketing efforts. Marketing is the key to attracting new customers and retaining current ones. So, it’s smart to start the year by formulating a marketing strategy—one that encompasses all aspects of marketing.

But first, you need to make sure your various marketing channels and strategies are integrated into one marketing plan—an omnichannel approach. Whichever marketing methods you use—whether it be mobile, email, content search engine marketing, voice, direct mail, public relations, advertising, social media, etc.—they need to be intertwined—not in separate siloes.

New marketing methods to try

One of the most underused marketing channels by small businesses is video. The Search Engine Journal says, “With the popularity of YouTube, dynamic imagery, and AR, video content and visual storytelling will continue to rise in 2020.” Plus, 87% of consumers say they want businesses to use more video when they communicate with them.

Perhaps the most underutilized marketing method is voice marketing. Sure, it’s relatively new, but small business owners need to add voice marketing to their marketing plans this year.

ComScore predicts about 50% of all searches will be via voice and 30% of searches will take place without a screen this year. And in a new survey from Capgemini, 24% of those surveyed say they’d rather use a voice assistant than visit a website.

If you market to younger consumers—they’re already hooked on voice—65% of 25-49 year-olds speak to their voice-enabled devices at least once a day, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Before you deploy a voice marketing strategy, you need to make sure your local listings are up-to-date. In some cases the voice assistant will actually read the consumer your business listing, so accuracy is key.

You can’t ignore social media

At this point you may think you have all your social bases covered, but do you? In the newly-released Digital Marketing Trends report from Vivial, more than one-quarter of small business owners say their lack of knowledge about marketing is hindering their current marketing efforts. When it comes to social media, for instance, while most business owners say their social media marketing has been successful, only 40% run paid ads on social. Vivial says, “Using a mix of organic AND paid content is key to build followers and fans on social platforms. Hyper-local targeting, user-generated content, videos, smart influencer partnerships and social communities are other ways small businesses can enhance and build out social media marketing strategies.”

A report in The Manifest shows how involved consumers are with businesses on social channels—74% actually follow businesses on social media and 96% of these consumers engage with the companies they follow. Underscoring why paid ads on social can be key—The Manifest report says 67% of consumers have made a purchase after seeing an ad on social media.

Smarter email marketing

According to eMarketer, emailing is one of the most common digital behaviors, and still delivers the highest ROI for businesses. Instapage, which creates personalized landing pages says personalizing your email marketing is key this year, especially because 52% of customers say they’ll find somewhere else to go if their emails aren’t personalized.

But bringing your emails into the new decade also means it’s time to transform static email messages into dynamic webpage-like experiences. AMP for Email technology lets email marketers make their messages interactive within the inbox, so recipients can have more dynamic experiences and don’t have to leave the message for a browser to get more information about an offer.

AWeber has been using AMP for Email technology since it was announced. Check out the cool ways they’ve upped their email game with AMP for Email for inspiration.

And, they’re making it easier for their customers to tap into AMP for Email as well. AWeber just incorporated an AMP for Email-powered drag & drop element into its message editor, making it easy for anyone—regardless of their technical know-how— to make their emails interactive with the click of a button. The tool is called the AWeber Image Carousel, and it let’s users drag the element into their email template and add images to present in the carousel. This adds visual context without taking up more space in an email.

If “amping” up your email marketing was one of your New Year’s resolutions, AWeber devised a plan to help you get started, before January’s resolve turns into February’s distractions. If you need more help, you can register for their webinar about how to use the AWeber Image Carousel on January 17.

But, wait, there’s more

No 2020 small business marketing plan is complete without addressing other vital marketing components, such as content marketing. The Content Marketing Institute provides 90 content marketing predictions for 2020 that are very helpful.

The competitive landscape for small businesses gets more challenging every day. The key to keeping up—and standing out—is marketing. The more you cross-promote within your marketing channels, the more equipped you’ll be to have an outstanding 2020.

In partnership with AWeber.

Email marketing stock photo by FuzzBones/Shutterstock


Beating the Post-Holidays Blues: 10 Ways to Boost Your January Sales

By Rieva Lesonsky

The holiday shopping season is off to a rollicking start. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF) 189.6 million consumers shopped the five days from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday—a record number. Projections are that trend will continue—in fact, eMarketer predicts will ring up sales of more than $1 trillion over the holidays.

But does all this largess in November and December mean January sales will suffer, getting your New Year off to a less than auspicious start? Not necessarily—with a little effort you can lay the foundation for success in 2020.

Consumers often need extra incentive to spend in January. They’re dealing with the credit card bills from their holiday shopping sprees, trying to keep New Year’s resolutions to spend less and fighting frigid winter weather.

So, what can you do to fight all that? Here are 10 tips that might help:

1—Plant the seeds now. Cultivate customers. When your store is crowded with December shoppers, start cementing your relationship with them—both your regular customers and the new ones that discovered you for the first time. Capture their names and add them to your email lists. Once you have them signed up, craft more engaging emails with these tips from AWeber.

2—Get involved with the community. Host a fundraiser for a local school or charity. Donate a part of your profits to the cause. This will not only bring people into your business but will show your community you’re giving back.

3—“Woo” your new customers. How do you lure first-time holiday shoppers back into your store in January? Send them a thank-you email this month while their shopping experience is still fresh in their minds. But you’ll likely need to sweeten the pot a bit—include a promotional offer that starts in January.

4—Promos. Speaking of promotional offers, consumers are always looking for a bargain these days. Offer all of your customers a reason to come into your store in January, whether it’s a clearance sale, a product that complements what they purchased during the holidays, or just a simple “we want to get to know you better” discount.

5—New year, new look. Is it time to give your marketing messages a New Year’s makeover? Check out the AWeber Smart Designer, which can help you create new email templates in a flash—while reflecting your brand and saving you money on design. This great tool works so quickly, you can create your new look this month and be ready to launch in January.

6—Embrace the future of email marketing. It’s now possible to incorporate dynamic, interactive elements in your email marketing with AMP for Email. AWeber recently added one of the most popular AMP for Email features—an image carousel—to its drag & drop email builder, making it easy for marketers to provide more visual context without taking up additional space in messages.

7—Help people keep their resolutions. Depending on what type of business you own, you can tap into common New Year’s resolutions. If you own a restaurant, promote the healthy options on your menu. If you’re in the wellness, fitness or beauty business, you can craft a campaign around the idea of “taking some me time.”

8—Out with the old. Clear out your slow-moving merchandise. Bundle products together creating bargain packages.

9—In with the new. January is the perfect time to “test” some new products, menu items, services. Don’t shake things up too much but look for items that are complementary to your current merchandise mix. Service businesses should consider adding retail products.

10—Gift cards. As we mentioned in our last post, gift cards are a popular gift item this holiday season, with the NRF predicting 59% of consumers plan to buy gift cards. So, for the rest of this month, promote the sale of gift cards. You could offer a small discount, or a larger one if people buy a multi-pack. Gift cards are the gift that keeps on giving. They not only bring people back into your store or onto your website, but people generally spend more once they’re there than the face value of the card.

Whatever you do, you need to promote it. An integrated campaign of social media and email marketing can be crafted quickly this month and deployed in January to reach the most customers.

In partnership with AWeber.

January stock photo by MidoSemsem/Shutterstock


How to Drive Holiday Sales

By Rieva Lesonsky


The countdown is on. In just a few days the official holiday shopping season kicks off. And it’s expected to be a strong one for retailers. The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) annual survey reports consumers will likely be spending more than $1,000 each this year, a 4% increase from 2018. And NRF’s annual holiday spending forecast expects overall holiday retail sales will grow 3.8%-4.2% for a total of $727.9 billion-$730.7 billion.

Between Thanksgiving day, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday consumers are gearing up for a 5-day shopping spree. Indeed, eMarketer predicts Cyber Monday will be a record-breaker, with sales hovering around the $10 billion mark—which would make it the biggest online shopping day in U.S. history.

Update Your email List

As Adweek notes 2019 will have five fewer shopping days and one less weekend between Black Friday and Christmas this year than last. In fact, Adweek says 2019 is the shortest holiday season since 2013. To make up for that lost time many businesses have already started their holiday promotions—I’ve been getting weekly “Black Friday” emails for a weeks now.

As long as you’re planning your holiday marketing make sure to include Green Monday (December 9), which has no real meaning—it’s a day eBay created, but consumers expect good deals and Free Shipping Day (December 17) as well.

So if you want to grab your share of the holiday sales juggernaut, your marketing needs to start now! If you’re running behind, don’t worry, it’s not too late. You can still craft an effective email marketing campaign—and fortunately email is one of the most productive marketing methods.

To gear up for this busy season, you’ll want to make sure your website is mobile-ready—and your marketing materials should also be formatted in a mobile-friendly format. Last year, 54.4% of online purchases made on Thanksgiving day came from smartphones—the first time more people shopped on mobile devices than laptops and desktops.

If you can, quickly update your email list. Send an email asking people to sign up now, so they won’t miss any holiday discounts or promotions.

Countdown to Cyber Monday

Since Cyber Monday is expected to break sales records, it will likely pay off to target an email campaign for this super-shopping day. AWeber details a 5-email content calendar plan that will help you put your Cyber Monday campaign together quickly. You should read the post for details, but here are the basics:

  1. November 29: send a “teaser” email
  2. December 1: send a countdown email
  3. December 2: launch your promotion in the morning
  4. December 2: resend your promotion in the afternoon
  5. December 3: send a post-promotion email

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Does your business offer gift cards? It should. Gift cards are a great way to boost holiday sales. And they work for almost every public-facing business, not just retail stores and restaurants. Salons, spas, gyms, food delivery services, cleaning services, etc. can all profit from gift card sales. And gift cards are not just for physical outlets either. They work just as well on websites and can be set up in a matter of hours.

The good news is gift cards are in high demand. The NRF says 59% of consumers plan to buy gift cards this year, topping their list of most popular holiday gift items. Like other products you need to market your gift cards—promote them on social media, in your marketing materials and on your emails. You can even offer gift cards as promotional incentives, for instance, spend get a $5 gift card for every $75 you spend. Selling cards in bulk to corporate customers is an easy money-maker.

The real secret of why gift cards are so valuable, other than some people never bother to redeem them, is consumers usually spend more than the face value of the card when they redeem them.

Top Factor Driving Online Sales

If you want to increase your online sales, you have to offer free shipping. According to Mintel, a global market research company, free shipping is the number-one factor for consumers considering making an online purchase. In fact, 48% of consumers will spend more to reach the free shipping minimum (you determine what price point you’ll offer free shipping at). Offering free shipping isn’t really a choice these days—the NRF reports 75% of consumers expect free shipping—even on orders under $50.

Incentivize Your Customers

Most consumer surveys show customers want:

  • Discounts, coupons
  • Loyalty rewards
  • Faster checkout
  • New product notifications

These notifications are key to keeping your audience up-to-date and engaged with your brand, especially around the holidays when shoppers are looking for the best deals.

But, if your customers haven’t yet opted-in to receive your emails, sign up form incentives can also be a great way to build your email list and set the stage for strong relationships with your audience.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need loads of blog content or eBooks to provide valuable freebies. For instance, checklists or printables don’t take hours to put together, but they provide a lot of value. If you’re looking for outside-the-box ideas that don’t require tons of effort, this blog post from AWeber is chock full of actionable, creative incentive ideas that will help grow your email list.

Send Personalized Recommendations

Aren’t you more likely to buy something when a company sends you a recommendation perfectly tailored to you? Sending recommendations is made easy with an email service provider that offers automations. Maybe a subscriber clicked a link that gave you insight about what they like. Great! Make sure they receive emails about it.

Remember, the relationship with your subscribers doesn’t end with a Cyber Monday sale. Make sure your customers are opting-in to receive email and keep building those relationships by providing value in your email marketing.

In partnership with AWeber

Holiday stock photo by MJTH/Shutterstock