Sunday, September 26, 2010

Put Your Email Marketing On Auto-Pilot

This post has been reposted by Gary Gray aka garydotgray from articles by Jim Edwards.

Put Your Email Marketing On Auto-Pilot: "
One of the most important aspects of marketing (besides consistency) is having a flow and a rhythm to your promotions. We as human beings operate as “pattern recognition” creatures, meaning we respond and react to “patterns” in both the positive and negative. As small business owners, we need to find patterns that make it easy for us to market our businesses effectively, while still leaving time to actually operate the business itself.

Email autoresponders, specifically “sequential” email autoresponders, allow you to automate your online marketing while also creating an effective flow and rhythm to your promotions.

Email autoresponders create an automatic follow-up sequence of email messages that go out to recipients at intervals you determine. That means you can put together a series of emails for customers or prospective customers, and then deliver those messages to them at intervals you choose. Most sequential autoresponders also allow you to “broadcast” to your entire database whenever you have important news, updates, or specials to share.

To understand the effectiveness of sequential email autoresponders for a local business, let me share a quick story with you…

A friend of mine has a small seafood restaurant as a client in Georgia. The restaurant recently put their website online, which included a simple offer for email updates for anyone interested enough to sign up. The restaurant then contacted some of their friends and past customers and asked if they’d like to join the email notification list. With only 60 people in their database, they made a simple 2-for-1 offer through their email newsletter on a Wednesday afternoon (managed by their autoresponder) and got 30 coupon redemptions in about 72 hours.

In other words, they got 30 couples and families to come into their restaurant with very little advertising expense.

Moral of the story: even with a small list, a local business can leverage the power of email marketing and the automation of sequential autoresponders to make money and communicate better with current and prospective customers.

Local businesses can implement autoresponder marketing quickly in one or more of three ways:

  1. new customer follow-up
  2. email newsletters
  3. tips and resources

The key is to only send valuable information to your customers and prospects that they want, need, and expect. Never send email to anyone without their permission.

So that begs the question: How do you get customer or prospective customer emails? Answer: ASK, but ask intelligently.

Have a reason for them to sign up to your list that they can understand and appreciate immediately.

Do you intend to offer them online-only specials, coupons, tips or updates?

Take some time to really think this through before you start asking for emails because a self-serving, compelling reason to give you their email address is the key to success.

As for specific services you can use to set up a sequential email autoresponder, you can find many of them online.

“Constant Contact”, which caters to the small business market, offers most, if not all, the features you could ever need in an autoresponder at very reasonable prices.

No matter which service provider you choose, make sure they offer the ability to set up multiple lists or sequences, as well as the ability to broadcast subscribers in your database.

Very few online tools offer more bang for your marketing buck than a good, solid email marketing strategy built around autoresponder marketing. With some careful planning and a sound strategy, even the most basic campaigns carry benefits far in excess of the time, energy and effort necessary to implement them.


For more Small Business Marketing tips from the

Real world of Digital Marketing, log on to

Small Business Marketing Weekly” at


Quickly Increase Your Small Business Website Sales

This post has been reposted by Gary Gray aka garydotgray from articles by Jim Edwards.

Quickly Increase Your Small Business Website Sales: "
- By Jim Edwards

Most small business websites represent the online equivalent of a printed, tri-fold brochure. Everyone copies everyone else in their industry. They all say the same things, display similar pictures, and convey the same message. In fact, you could easily take the company name off most sites and interchange with others and nobody would notice. Most small business owners treat their website as an extension of offline advertising or worse, a marketing after-thought.

But with the Web’s importance in local marketing growing on a daily basis, this lazy attitude toward your company website means online marketing suicide!

If your small business website needs a boost, or you plan to put up a website for your business soon, the following tips increase your chances of success dramatically.

Use Effective Headlines

Imagine a newspaper with no headlines. It can’t work! Just like a newspaper, every page on your website or small business blog needs a headline. Headlines tell your visitors the topic of the page and quickly help them determine their interest level. The most effective headlines often center around specific offers, not general statements. My experience shows you only get 3-9 seconds to capture people’s attention before they click off your site and a good headline stacks the odds in your favor.

Make a Clear “Call To Action”

Most rookie sales people (and veterans too) fear asking for the sale. They beat around the bush with customers to avoid rejection. This same fear permeates most small business websites. You must tell peoplespecifically what you want them to do on your site: click here to make a reservation; click here to contact us; pick up the phone and call this number; get in your car and come into the store. Don’t make people guess and make it very clear what, when, and how you want them to do it.

Sell The Benefits

A famous drill salesman once said “People don’t buy the drill, they buy the holes!” He meant that people don’t buy the product or service, they buy a desired result. Yet, most small business websites talk only in terms of their company or product features. People don’t care about your company as much as they care about their own needs.

Talk in terms of how you fulfill those specific needs. Devote a large part of your sales message to the results people should expect and the benefits, tangible or otherwise, of dealing with you.

Make Specific Offers

Why do you think grocery stores run so many coupon ads?

Because those ads make specific offers that drive people into the store. They’re the equivalent of testing different bait on your fishhook to see what you can pull into the boat.

Most businesses don’t make specific offers of any kind. They assume people know what they offer (because they offer what everyone else offers) and customers will just “know” to contact them.

Special offers drive people to action. No matter what type of business you operate, get in the habit of making specific, unique offers. Most people default to offering a discount, but why not offer extra value instead?

Ask yourself:

  • “How could I add massive REAL value to our customers without it costing us a ton of time, energy or effort?”

  • “How can we get them MORE of what they already want?”

Make it so they don’t have to think (“no-brainer”) and it feels like a real deal.

Just these simple steps can massively increase sales on your small business website sales with very little effort.

For more Small Business Marketing tips from the

The Real World of Digital Marketing, log on to

Small Business Marketing Weekly

Google Instant Search for Marketing

This post has been reposted by Gary Gray aka garydotgray from articles by Jim Edwards.

Google Instant Search for Marketing: "
Google recently introduced their “Instant Search” feature which starts to populate search results the instant you start typing into the search box. At the same time, Google suggests alternate search terms as you type to help narrow your search without forcing you to enter entire search phrases.

The main idea behind this new feature is to save users a few seconds on each search and cut down on misspellings for search terms, business names or product names. Users may not notice much difference in their overall experience, however, for small businesses and online entrepreneurs, this new search method carries a few interesting ramifications.

Since Google clearly ranks as the “900 lb. Gorilla” of the online marketing world, acting as de facto gateway to the Web for millions, any change to their system makes businesses nervous. Many have expressed concern that this latest change will force users of Google’s AdWords program, the search giant’s lucrative pay-per-click marketing arm, to pay for more expensive keywords.

They reason that since the most popular search terms appear in the search box first, and that most people will opt to accept Google suggestions, those most popular searches will carry the highest click prices. In other words, businesses that depend on Google to show their ads fear that Google will force them to pay more money by recommending more expensive keyword searches.

I disagree.

The suggested search term feature actually appeared on Google quite a while ago, and all that’s really changed is Google starts to display the actual search results AS you type. With the old 2-step process, Google made suggestions as you typed and then you clicked the search button to see the search results. Instant Search just creates a FAST way to see the results for different search variations without forcing you to click the button each time to see those results.

This process makes it simple to see the results, change your mind, and not wait for the results each time you change the phrase. My experience shows that most people always start with a broad search and then narrow it by including more descriptive terms (often called “long-tail” keywords) to better find what they want. This new process won’t change that. In fact, it will give people more chances to refine their searches on-the-fly by providing Google more details of what they want.

Instead of posing a threat, I believe this new Instant Search feature creates an opportunity for any business to perform high-speed market research to look for possible opportunities and trouble spots. The following four steps will help any small business use Google’s new feature for instant results.

1. Go to Google and search for your business as if you were a consumer.

2. Make a note of the keyword suggestions Google offers as you type.

3. See if those suggestions give you any ideas for your own marketing (since they should represent the most popular phrases).

4. Note which competitors show up and where you appear in relation to them.

These 4 simple steps make a great barometer for taking a read on your local market, fast. Who appears consistently? Who shows up hit-and-miss or every once in a while? Who shows up in Google Maps? If your competitors show up and you don’t, you’ve got some work to do!

Bottom line: as a small business, use Google’s new Instant Search to quickly get the big picture when it comes to your business, industry, and local competition.

7 Pillars of Marketing a Local Business Online

This post has been reposted by Gary Gray aka garydotgray from articles by Jim Edwards.

7 Pillars of Marketing a Local Business Online: "
When I first started writing for The Virginia Gazette in 1998, the Web was a giant mystery. Almost 13 years later, it’s still a mystery for most! With the emergence of Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Google, Linkedin, and a host of other sites, getting started with online marketing seems more daunting than ever. Yet, as consumers flock to the Web daily to research local products and services, visibility for your business via the Internet literally spells success or failure. Bottom line: online marketing is NOT optional anymore and you need every one of these 7 pillars to succeed, especially in a local market.

Pillar #1: A Website You Control

You must operate with your own website which enables you to make basic changes to it yourself, preferably right through your web browser. Waiting for a “webmaster” to update text and pictures does not qualify as a smart use of your time or money. WordPress, an open-source (free) publishing platform, makes an excellent choice for managing and organizing virtually any size website.

Pillar #2: Google Maps

Google now stands alone as the “900 lb. Gorilla” of the online search world. However, most don’t realize that “Google Maps” is the most basic component of local online marketing with Google. Get all the details at This tool is one of the fastest ways to get found in Google and, best of all… it’s free!

Pillar #3: Basic SEO

SEO stands for “search engine optimization” – which means making your website relevant when someone searches for your business name or terms related to what you sell. Building all the content, information, and text on your site around a central theme is the #1 thing you can do to increase your chances of ranking well in Google and other search engines.

Pillar #4: Make Value-Added Offers

Most people don’t make offers on their websites. Their web pages look like everyone else’s and say basically the same things. You must make offers on your site that spur people to action. Offer a discount or faster service. Give an incentive to come in today. Most importantly: make your offers big, bold and obvious on your site while giving people a reason to do business with you right now!

Pillar #5: Drive Traffic

You won’t make a dime with your website if the right people don’t see it. The fastest way to drive traffic is to buy it, specifically with the Google AdWords pay-per-click program. Pay-per-click means you only pay when someone clicks your “sponsored” ad on the search engine listings, and Google’s AdWords is the largest pay-per-click advertising network. However, make sure you set up a “geo-targeted” campaign when starting out so only people in your local area see your ads (instead of wasting time and money showing your ads to people who could never patronize your local business).

Pillar #6: Local List Building

Building up a local following you communicate with using online tools rates one of the smartest and most cost-effective things every local business can do. Whether through email, text, Twitter or Facebook (or some new tool), communicating with a targeted group and providing value-added information and offers can bring huge rewards. One coupon with the right offer to the right audience can turn a ho-hum Thursday into a blockbuster sales day.

Pillar #7: Consistent Follow-Up

The biggest online marketing mistake I see people make is NOT following up with prospects and customers. Use email and other communication tools to keep in contact with your prospects and customers and give them reasons to do business with you (by making offers) while providing useful information they want. As a wise man once said, “The fortune is always made in the repeat business.”

Small Business Marketing Weekly” will expand on each of these “7 Pillars of Marketing Local Business Online” in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Better Twitter

A Better Twitter: "

Twitter news! For all my LILN readers

This post has been reposted from the Twitter blog by Gary Gray aka garydotgray
Twitter is the best way to discover what’s new in your world. From football to film to philanthropy, people are using Twitter to discover what’s new about what they find interesting.

Twitter has always been about getting a lot in a little. The constraint of 140 characters drives conciseness and lets you quickly discover and share what's happening. Yet, we've learned something since starting Twitter—life doesn't always fit into 140 characters or less.

Today, we’re introducing a new, re-engineered that provides an easier, faster, and richer experience.

On the site, you’ll see the familiar timeline, yet underneath each Tweet is a handful of information, deeper context and even embedded media. Simply click on an individual Tweet and a details pane slides out on the right and reveals this content.

You can find out more about the enhancements on this information page. Here are some highlights:
  • New design. The site has a cleaner timeline and a rich details pane that instantly adds more impact to individual Tweets while still maintaining the simplicity of the timeline. And, experience infinite scroll -- you no longer have to click “more” to view additional Tweets.
  • Media. Now, it’s easy to see embedded photos and videos directly on Twitter, thanks to partnerships with DailyBooth, DeviantART, Etsy, Flickr, Justin.TV, Kickstarter, Kiva, Photozou, Plixi, Twitgoo, TwitPic, TwitVid, USTREAM, Vimeo, yfrog, and YouTube.
  • Related content. When you click a Tweet, the details pane shows additional information related to the author or subject. Depending on the Tweet’s content, you may see: replies, other Tweets by that user, a map of where a geotagged Tweet was sent from, and more.
  • Mini profiles. Click a username to see a mini profile without navigating from the page, which provides quick access to account information, including bio and recent Tweets.
These changes will roll out as a preview over the next several weeks starting with a very small percentage of registered accounts tonight. During the preview, you'll be able to switch back and forth so you have time to grow accustomed to the way things work. Eventually, everyone will have the updated version of We are incredibly proud of the work the Twitter web team has accomplished. We hope you are too!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Earl's visit - before and after

Earl's visit - before and after: "

Reposted from A Sparrow's Home 

Thanks for your kind concern and prayers regarding Earl! We came through without much damage - high winds, heavy rain and one tree down in our yard. Fortunately we didn't lose power although some parts of the Island did.

Nova Scotia, our neighbouring province, felt Earl's force quite a bit more than the Island. Some people are still without power there.

Here's a little video to show you the day before the storm - a lovely day at Pamure Island beach - and then Pt Prim on the day of the storm.

(Please pause the music in the sidebar to enjoy the sound effects of the storm)

Kathleen, my dil, headed over to Nova Scotia for some of Earl's wave action. She joined Rinda's girl Katherine, and her husband Andrew both avid surfers.

Doesn't that look like fun?!!

The storm certainly cleared the humidity and high temperatures of last week . The sun is streaming through my kitchen windows and the forecast temperature for this afternoon is a lovely 22C (74F).

Hope you're all enjoying this Labour day holiday!