30 Marketing Keywords YOU Should Be Using

Savvy business owners, copywriters, and designers know how language influences emotions and persuades action. Certain words and phrases are time-tested to boost response and conversion rates almost across the board. Of course, different motivating words and phrases work better in different situations, and it’s up to you to figure out which work best for your business. It isn’t all that difficult to figure out, though: If your intuition doesn’t tell you, your customers will. Test the following 30 “magic marketing words” in your next email, social media or blog post, on a direct-mail postcard or website to see which yields the best response.

  1. You – Write as though you’re speaking to the customer and about the customer, not about yourself.
  2. Because – Give customers a reason why they need to take action.
  3. Free – “Because” we all like free things, right?
  4. Value – This implies customers are getting something versus losing something (i.e. money when you say “cost” or “price”).
  5. Guaranteed – Give customers a guarantee to minimize risk perception, so they feel they have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
  6. Amazing – Customers will respond to something that is incredible.
  7. Easy – Make it simple for customers to take the next step in the purchasing process, and let them know how much easier life will be with your product or service.
  8. Discover – This implies there is something new and unknown to the customer, something that has supreme benefits and gives them an edge.
  9. Act now – Motivate an immediate response with a limited-time offer.
  10. Everything included/everything you need – This establishes that your product or service is all your customers will have to buy in order to achieve their goal.
  11. Never – Point out a “negative benefit,” such as “never worry again” or “never overpay again.”
  12. New – Your product or service is the cutting edge in your industry.
  13. Save – The most powerful word to showcase monetary savings, or even time savings.
  14. Proven – Remind customers that your product, service or business is tried-and-true.
  15. Safe and effective – “Proven” to minimize risk perception for health and monetary loss.
  16. Powerful – Let customers know that your business, product or service is robust.
  17. Real results/guaranteed results – Your customers want results, after all.
  18. Secret – Not everyone succeeds, and there are secrets to success. Let customers know you can reveal those secrets.
  19. The – This implies your solution is the “end-all-be-all.” Consider the difference: “3 Solutions for Marketing Success”/”The 3 Solutions for Marketing Success.”
  20. Instant –Instant access or downloads are more appealing than waiting.
  21. How to – Start off with a solution so customers read the rest of your copy.
  22. Elite –Your customers are among the best in the world. Invite newbies to join a highly desirable club.
  23. Premium – Premium helps denote high quality.
  24. Caused by – If your marketing literature builds a case for your product, transitional phrases such as “caused by,” “therefore,” and “thus” can help reinforce the logic of a purchase.
  25. More – Do you offer more than your competitors? Let your customers know, because they want the best deal, after all.
  26. Bargain – Because customers want a great deal, remember?
  27. No obligation – Create a win-win situation for your customers.
  28. 100% money-back guarantee – Again, no risk.
  29. Huge – A large discount or outstanding offer is difficult to resist.
  30. Wealth – If you’re selling products and services related to money, wealth is a desirable word for customers.

They key to success is to combine these words into phrases that trigger buying behavior. For example: “Get real results instantly – 100% money-back guarantee – act now!” Keep your copy short and sweet, play on emotional triggers with these words and phrases, and you’ll increase your conversion and response rates.

By: Forbes & Vocus

Marketing Trends of 2016

It’s also prediction season, and forecasters are prophesying everything from the next presidential election and football championship matchups to interest rates and gas prices. Of course, when it comes to business, forecasting is vital.

As you’re preparing your 2016 marketing plan, here are some predictions for what the top trends will be in the New Year — and what these trends could mean for your small business.

SEARCH

Search Engines Will Get Some New Competition.  If it seems like Google, Yahoo and Bing have been in the driver’s seat of search results forever, it’s because they have. Back in 2012, Google admitted to fielding 1 trillion searches per day and earlier this year company executives said that number is even higher now (big surprise). But the big search engines will be getting some additional competition in 2016, courtesy of social media.

Social networks like Facebook and Pinterest are either expanding their search capabilities or getting ready to do so. What’s more, Google indexes public tweets on Twitter. That’s good news if your small business has been making good use of social media marketing already, and bad news if you haven’t.

Social media has become the word of mouth by which small businesses can live or die. If your small business has amassed positive reviews and feedback on social networks, in 2016 potential customers may be able to find you — and all those positive reviews — with a search on their favorite social media sites. Conversely, if you’ve been lax about social media marketing, or worse, have negative reviews crowding cyberspace, social network search capabilities won’t help your overall marketing efforts.

Consumer use of social media continues to grow. People already have the ability to make purchases, talk about what they bought, and comment on the seller through social media. Adding search capability seems like a no-brainer.

MOBILE

Mobile’s just getting bigger.  Ride a train or bus, sit in an airport or restaurant and it’s impossible to miss — mobile devices are everywhere. In fact, the saturation of mobile is astounding, and it’s still growing. Witness the stats:

  • In 2014, 2.1 billion consumers owned smartphones worldwide, according to the Internet Trends 2015 report.
  • Mobile use now accounts for more than half of the total time people spend on digital devices, the report states.
  • Eighty percent of Internet searches are conducted on smartphones, according to data from the Global Web Index.
  • Sixty-six percent of all email in the U.S. is now read on smartphones, according to the US Consumer Device Preference Report from MovableInk.
  • In 2015, mobile Internet traffic surpassed desktop traffic, according to Google.

What does all this mean for your small business? It’s vital that your website is mobile responsive and that you offer a mobile app to allow customers to easily access your products and services from their favorite mobile devices. Your email marketing campaigns must also be mobile-friendly. Remember, mobile users are working with a smaller screen when they access your marketing emails, so it’s important that each email you send is concise, simple and easy to read.

VIDEO

Video will continue to be worth a thousand words … or more!  Consumption of online videos has been steadily increasing for years, and the rise in mobile usage is further fueling that growth. From a marketing standpoint, video is a powerful tool. A video shared on social networks or your website can allow viewers to actually see what your product looks like and how it performs. It can also foster interaction between your business and customers by allowing them to post questions and comments on your video.

The exciting development for 2016 could be that search engines will begin incorporating video ads into search results. Some of the largest search engines are reportedly testing the idea of video ad search results. It seems more likely that indexing of video ads is a question of when, rather than if. When it comes to fruition, small businesses that have been leveraging video will be ahead of competitors who are still stuck in text land.

APPS

App indexing will mean more apps and more opportunities.  Multiple studies point to the idea that apps will one day soon overtake mobile-responsive websites for the preferred method of interaction between mobile users and brands. The advantage of apps for users is easy to see. Apps have all the functionality of mobile-friendly websites, but they streamline user access. App users don’t have to type a search into a browser to begin interacting with a brand.

Google already indexes apps. If it happens to index yours, when your app appears in Google search results, users automatically see an install prompt for the app. So, not only does app indexing improve visibility, it potentially increases the number of mobile users who actually download and use your app.

AUTOMATION

Marketing automation will make your budget more effective.  One of the greatest strengths of email automation tools has always been the amount of time it frees up for marketers. Such tools allow users to spend less time (and money) on “grunt work” like creating and distributing emails, and more on creating quality, engaging content to go in those emails. Marketing automation extends that benefit to your whole marketing program.

Marketing and email automation makes it easier to create and schedule emails,segment mailing lists, automate social media posting, track open and response rates, and even calculate conversions. For small businesses whose marketing departments are often just one or two people, automation can allow them to achieve more without increasing budgets.

CONTENT

Content will continue to be king.  Virtually everything you do online qualifies as content marketing if it’s done with the goal of providing information to and building trust with current and prospective customers. Americans’ appetite for useful, engaging and entertaining content continues to grow. Consumers consistently respond to content that provides them with “news they can use,” informative entertainment and value, but they aren’t the only ones who demand quality content. Search engine algorithms are designed to hold marketers to a higher standard of quality, rewarding top notch content with higher positioning in search results.

Increasingly, consumers want customized content that’s tailored to meet their specific interests, needs, and tastes. In fact, 90 percent of Americans find custom content useful, and custom content makes 78 percent of consumers feel that the organization providing it cares about building a good relationship with them, according to the CMO Council.

As you make your content marketing plans for 2016, keep in mind the benchmarks of quality and customization.

PERSONALIZATION

Fully personalized email marketing: Its time has come.  Technology has made it more feasible than ever for marketers to produce fully customized content, including emails— and consumers know this. Their expectation of customized content is high, and consumers whose expectations are met will be more inclined to respond positively to marketing material. The preference for customization is driving the dip in efficacy ofbatch and blast email campaigns.

In fact, according to the Email Marketing Industry Census, 78 percent of the marketers surveyed predicted that by 2020 all email communication will be personalized. Right now, one in three companies are already doing this, the census found, and 37 percent intended to begin doing it in the immediate future. Your small business can get ahead of the curve and begin customizing emails right away.

POP-UPS

Pop-ups with purpose: Growing your email lists.  “Lightbox pop-ups” are the windows that appear on a website when you’ve been on it for a certain amount of time, or when you hover your mouse icon over a specific portion of the site, such as the browser bar. Popular wisdom might make you think that pop-ups are most likely to elicit annoyance from online users, but the data says otherwise. While they may be annoying when they’re nothing more than a straight sell, studies show that lightboxes can be an effective way to solicit email addresses from web users.

They work for multiple reasons. First, consider timing. If a user is already on the way to leaving your page (often the case when their mouse button makes it to the browser address line), what do you have to lose by stalling them a few seconds more with a pop-up that asks them to enter their email address? Lightboxes also offer a measure of convenience; consumers who go to your website looking for the opportunity to sign up to receive emails about deals and specials will easily find where to type in their information. Too often, email sign-up buttons are tucked away in unobtrusive corners of the page, but a lightbox puts it front and center.

Conclusion:  By now, you’ve probably noticed a pattern to these trends — they are driven by online behaviors. Digital marketing is not only the wave of the future; it’s how business is getting done right now. Your small business can lay the groundwork for continued growth in 2016 by leveraging these digital marketing trends to create consumer interest and loyalty to your brand, products, and services.

By: Kylie Kenneth

50 Tips to Expand your Email List: Part 2

Yesterday, we gave you a list of 25 tips to build your internet marketing email list! Today, we follow up with our promise yesterday with the 25 MORE tips!

26)  Place opt-in invitations in product shipments.

27)  Add similar invitations to customers’ shopping bags.

28)  Nonprofits: Include an email-address line on donation envelopes/forms.

29)  Retailers: Ask customers for addresses during in-store promotional events.

30)  Solicit personal friends and business colleagues as subscribers.

31)  Send requests to other Chamber of Commerce members.

32)  Offer a free e-book or informational guide for signing up.

33)  When speaking at an event, offer listeners a free consultation with newsletter subscription.

34)  Conducting a survey? Include email sign-up info.

35)  Include an opt-in form on invoices.

36)  Place an opt-in on your WordPress site or blog.

37)  Give discounts when a customer buys from you and then mentions it on Foursquare via their mobile device. Get the address for the “mayor” and give them a big discount each month.

38)  Offer insightful comments on blogs or forums your prospects or customers would visit, adding links to your opt-in form.

39)  Make sure your website’s sign-up landing page is appealing, easy to use and outlines the value of signing up. Note that requesting too much information too soon discourages sign ups.

40)  Create a video about your business, adding a URL to your opt-in form and posting it on YouTube. You can also add note boxes and speech bubbles using YouTube’s “Annotations” function, and/or link your video to another video, playlist, YouTube channel, or Google+ profile involving your business.

41)  Make sure even transactional emails (i.e. order information or shipping updates) include a link to your email sign-up.

42)  Survey current email subscribers about likes and dislikes, using the data to create more effective email content and up-front value propositions.

43)  Online tool Rafflecopter runs Facebook giveaways that automatically glean email addresses from participants, starting at $13/month.

44)  Online tool Justuno automatically provides customers a coupon code for your products or services if they provide their email; price is up to $40/month for small businesses.

45)  Online tool Binkd gathers email addresses from participants who tweet a message about your brand, then you randomly select a prize winner. Price: Up to $2 per day.

46)  Online tool Woobox sets up Facebook quizzes participants can share on their timelines, then you gather emails and draw prize winners. Small businesses spend about $49 to $99 each month.

47)  On Pinterest, pin coupon codes, e-books, guides, video series, online training seminars, checklists and webinars, and include calls to action for your email list.

48)  While it may seem counterintuitive, weed out the disinterested parties by sending contacts a new opt-in promising to remove their name if they don’t respond.

49)  Publish links to your opt-in page on your LinkedIn company page and/or in relevant discussions on LinkedIn.

50)  Co-host a project like an e-book or webinar with an appropriate business partner, then cross-market it with both businesses to solicit emails.

Finally, understand that maintaining a viable email list is bound to be more a marathon than a sprint.

“Your email marketing database degrades by about 22.5 percent every year,” notes Pitre. “Your contacts’ email addresses change as they move from one company to another, opt-out of your email communication, or abandon that old AOL address they only use to fill out forms on websites. As a marketer, it’s your job to make sure you’re constantly adding fresh contacts to your email marketing campaigns so you can keep your numbers moving up and to the right.”\

By: Vertical Response

50 Tips to Expand your Email List: Part 1

If you don’t have a strong email list for your customer base, you’re missing out on a great marketing tool that’s both reliable and free.

Compiled correctly, your list should represent a significant captive audience that’s already interested in your offerings.

“It gives you the opportunity to contact your prospects at any point in the future with any kind of messaging you want — and you’re not bound by search engine rankings or social media algorithms,” notes Jayson DeMers in Forbes.

Building up your list can seem difficult and time-consuming, but it’s worthwhile to include only those who have chosen to engage. Buying lists from another vendor is a bad idea, since emailing anonymous contacts can come across as invasive and often results in complaints, bounced addresses and unsubscribes. Your list will be most effective if you gain trust by not sharing subscribers’ info with other firms and creating emails with useful or exclusive information and valuable offers — not just sales pitches.

Your content needs to be amazing if you want people to stay subscribed and forward your emails to their friends, family and colleagues (not) already on your email list,” notes Andy Pitre on HubSpot.

Consider the following list of email list-generating ideas.

1)      Add an email signup offer to the back of your business cards.

2)      Include opt-in forms as well as forwarding options on every page of your website, blog and social media networks. Don’t forget “about you” sections.

3)      Include a link to your sign-up form in every personal email signature.

4)      Add your sign-up form link to all your printed receipts. Better yet, consider offering emailed receipts (vendors include Transaction Tree and yReceipts).

5)      Bring a sign-up book to tradeshows, Chamber of Commerce events and “lunch and learn” type gatherings in your local business community.

6)      Offer a birthday or anniversary club with a premium for those who sign up.

7)      Pay employees commission for valid addresses from willing subscribers.

8)      Gather addresses via a discount offer with Groupon or similar daily deal site.

9)      Solicit addresses when your business appears at fundraisers, festivals and artisan markets.

10)  Ask customers for new subscribers’ names in exchange for a discount.

11)  Retrieve bounced-back emails, sending postcards asking contacts to sign up again.

12)  Place your opt-in link in another business’ newsletter, doing the same for them.

13)  Optimize your website for your keywords, striving for the top of the organic search results for those seeking your products (see Google Adwords).

14)  Use your list of snail-mail addresses to request email opt-ins.

15)  Stage pop-up requests for those leaving your website or blog.

16)  Include forward-to-a-friend links in all emails to make them easier to share.

17)  Archive newsletters on your website so subscribers know what they’ll get.

18)  Consider a platform like BuddyPress for WordPress (and add opt-ins), creating a community that fosters interaction among customers.

19)  Ask every caller to your business if you can add them to your list.

20)  Invite customers to enter business cards into a counter fishbowl for a weekly prize drawing, logging their addresses and announcing winners in your email newsletter.

21)  At trade shows, collect business cards and (with permission) scan them for addresses.

22)  At retail locations, set out a sandwich board asking for emails.

23)  Ask for emails on the credit card receipts signed by customers.

24)  Stage a contest asking customers to produce one-minute videos about why they like your product. Others can vote for the winner on your social media pages, accessing opt-in invitations.

25)  Use your smartphone to add addresses on the go.

By: Vertical Response

4 Tips to Enhance your Internet Marketing

By building an email list that’s full of quality prospects and customers, you have the chance to augment your sales and boost your brand. Your email list is valuable which is why you should continually add contacts to it. Keep the collection process rolling by using social media to enhance your strategy.

Here are four ways to go about building your email list via social media.

1. Use the Facebook call to action button

In December 2014, Facebook introduced the call to action button, which resides on a page’s cover photo. There are seven call to action buttons that pages choose from including, “Sign Up,” “Shop Now,” “Contact Us,” and “Watch Video.”

When fans click your email sign up button, take them to a page that includes a short list of reasons why they should give you their email address. For example, you could say, “Receive 10 percent off for signing up now,” or “Get daily deals in your inbox.”

2. Utilize Twitter’s lead generation cards

Within Twitter Ads, the social media site offers lead generation cards that allow you to promote your content and collect information on customers at the same time.

First, write out what you’re offering your follower, and then add an interesting image to go along with the description. After clicking the call to action button, your follower will see all of his or her contact information. This will then be sent to your company.

These lead generation cards can promote anything you choose, from your email newsletter to a new, secret portion of your website – available only for select customers. As always, the reason for signing up must be enticing because people won’t give away their email address if they aren’t given a good reason for doing so.

3. Generate a Pinterest offer

Pinterest is a great place to target a niche audience. Sixty-eight percent of the users are women, 50 percent have children and 28.1 percent of users make $100,000+ per year.

The site allows you to visually stimulate your prospects and give them a pinnable, clickable offer. For example, you can post a photo and a snippet of a blog post, allow users to pin it and give them the link to follow the blog post to its native site.

Once users click the link, you can ask them to sign up for your email list to access the content. On Pinterest, you have the option to promote any offering like coupons, blog posts and videos, simply by posting a picture that will entice users to click, as well as an accompanying link.

4. Post compelling photos on Instagram

In terms of email marketing, Instagram can be leveraged in a number of ways. You could:

  • Post a photo of an item that is discounted exclusively for your email newsletter subscribers.
  • Upload a video highlighting the benefits of signing up for your email newsletter.
  • Post a picture or video that details your exclusive email content.

There are two options on Instagram regarding link posting: You can either copy and paste your link onto your actual photo, or include it in your bio.

If you choose to paste the link onto your photo, make sure you include clear directions. Tell your followers that the email sign up link is in your bio or your profile, just like Diamond Candles did with a link to its Mother’s Day giveaway:

Integrating email with social media

Email and social media marketing are effective on their own, but when you combine the two, you have the opportunity to grow your email list exponentially and become even more engaged with your followers. By placing email sign up links within your social media channels, you’re given the chance to turn interested prospects into valuable customers.

By: Kylie Lobell

Ideas for your Small Business Blog

It’s one thing to come up with good content ideas on your own, but sometimes you need to rely on outside sources to find inspiration for another post. Don’t worry about not having a topic on the tip of your tongue; there are ‘wells’ of great concepts that never dry up, and your small business blog visitors will thank you for them!

  1. Reading books – Eight-time billionaire Richard Branson is famous for being caught with a book open, and he’s not ashamed. In fact, he attributes much of his creativity to the ideas that are found in books. Complex plots, character development, and triumph are all story elements that make great articles.
  2. Attending events – Talk with people in person, not on the internet. Whenever you put a bunch of people from one profession into a confined space, interesting things are sure to happen. Conversation and controversial events spark creativity, and creativity is where great ideas are born.
  3. Watch movies – Let someone else spend millions of dollars to come up with a story. Movies often have great concepts mixed into them that can be spun into marketing and business advice.  Also, watching a movie can be mindless (at least that’s what your mom always said) and will allow you to relax and clear your mind, which can help idea generation later. A great example of marketing in movies is the Anchorman 2 phenomena, which Forbes outlines here.
  4. Play games – Games are a lesson in strategy.  Sports, and even board games, are strategic battles won by mental strength. Playing games stimulates the mind and will stretch your creativity beyond what you are able to muster staring at a screen all day. Also, activity releases dopamine in your body, which gives you more energy to get through that long article.
  5. Talk to a customer – On the phone or face-to-face, no emailing. Every customer has a story behind why they became a customer of your small business. Each one is unique and likely far more interesting than you’d imagine. Turn that story into an article (with their permission). Kissmetrics uses customer stories to create some of the most compelling email marketing I’ve ever seen, like this one.
  6. Tell a stranger what you do – They will ask questions that can lead to great posts. Explaining what you do to a complete stranger who doesn’t understand your industry will spark questions and ideas that don’t arise within the bubble of your industry. Take those off-the-wall questions and turn them into articles.
  7. Study a company – What did they do right? Pick a company you admire and figure out what ‘clicked’ for them. For a bonus, reach out to someone at the company and interview them. GrowthHackers has a lot of case studies to get started.
  8. Change your surroundings – One of the least creative places in all the world is a desk next to a bunch of other desks in an office building in a crowded city. Move around – it doesn’t have to be for long – but get out to shift your perspective and spark some new ideas.
  9. Get uncomfortable – The best ideas are just beyond your comfort zone. One of the strongest feelings we  have is being uncomfortable. The sweating, squirmy moments are enough to make the fear of public speaking stronger than the fear of death for 50% of Americans. However, being out of your comfort zone causes creativity to flourish and new ideas to surface.
  10. Push the limits – Go ahead, write 50 headline ideas – go crazy! If you’re brainstorming and want ten new ideas, write 50 down. The explosive site Upworthy is famous for requiring 25 headlines per published article, and it’s working for them. The weirdest, most bizarre, best ideas come at the edge of your knowledge.

I get it; coming up with new and witty articles every day is a tough task, so next time you’re stuck, try one of these ten ways to get inspired.

By: John Haynam

5 Useful Tools for a Efficient Year

Each new year brings opportunities to expand your business and improve how you work. This year, explore the many ways you can refine your day-to-day administrative tasks with help from some digital tools.

Evernote
Free
PC Mag describes how Evernote for iPhone can help you consolidate notes and synchronize files through a cloud service. This app makes sharing information with others virtually effortless.

If you like the original app, you may also be interested in Evernote Scannable. It provides the ability to capture notes, documents and business cards with your camera.

Google Docs and Sheets
Free
Google has made sharing and collaborating with others simple. Deliver, access, edit and create new files in a cloud-based environment.

Not only are Google Docs and Google Sheets available on desktop computers and laptops, but individuals can also download the mobile application to stay in the loop while on a smartphone or tablet. And, the storage capacity is substantial, making this product especially ideal for businesses.

Any.do
Free
Premium: $2.99/month
For optimal task-management and list-making, consider using the free version of Any.do. it can help you and your team create and review daily tasks and goals.

The mobility of this app also allows employees to monitor projects and collaborate on the go. This makes it especially helpful for remote employees and traveling professionals.

RescueTime
Free

Premium: $6.00
Time management is a challenge for nearly every working professional.

Forbes recommends RescueTime to help you gain the insights you need to be more efficient. It can help you see how you and your employees spend your working hours, so you can take advantage of productivity trends throughout the day.

Freckle
$19/month and up
Want to better manage tasks and streamline projects? Consider Freckle.

It enables employees to log the time spent on projects, break down time and budgets for tasks, and detail progress throughout a project’s development.

Additionally, it notifies you if a project is heading off track so you can help keep your projects on time and within budget.

These are just a few of the countless tools available to help you stay organized and productive this year. Which can help you in your business?

By Jennifer Laus

Why Your Company Should Email Market

While a few businesses still send out printed newsletters by snail mail, most entrepreneurs prefer reaching their client base through email. Not only is an electronic newsletter much less expensive and time consuming, it’s easier to produce and you can add links to your website. It’s a great way to promote to a dedicated group of readers.

Advantages of a newsletter

As a small business owner, you need to find as many avenues to promote as you can. For that reason, even if you have a thriving blog, you should also create a newsletter campaign, as it gives you an opportunity to reach out to your readers again, giving them a new slant on your message. You might also expand your readership as some prefer newsletters to blogs.

In addition, newsletters allow for added control. For instance, you can monitor who’s reading your content, which links they click on, and sometimes which articles they share. With these statistics you can write articles your client base will read and enjoy.

Also, when people start subscribing, you can easily collect their email addresses. You can use these to contact people on a more personal level. To that end, it’s a good idea to segment your list, sending out different campaigns to select people, depending on their interests.

For instance, if you deliver seminars on a variety of topics, it would be natural to segment your list by lecture subjects. Or if you run summer camps for children of all ages, you might segment your newsletters by the age bracket of the children. Depending on your client’s needs, you can segment by demographics, educational background of your reader, interests or anything else you like.

Write compelling content

People subscribe to your newsletter because they expect to gain knowledge on a subject in which you are expert. You need to satisfy this need and do so extremely well. Find out what your readers’ top questions are and answer them. Do your best to solve their problems. Your articles should be relevant to your line of work, but be careful not to advertise your business too heavily. Be subtle.

If you are able, create unique content. Avoid rehashing subjects already splattered elsewhere on the internet, unless you have a fresh outlook on the subject.

The trick is to write content that others will copy!

Keep in mind that people’s attention spans are usually quite limited. If you use subheading, italics and bullet points, it will draw their attention to the important points rapidly. Your busy readers will thank you. Also avoid long sentences and paragraphs.

It’s fine for a paragraph to be a single sentence!

If you have trouble writing (or can’t seem to find the time to do so), consider hiring a ghostwriter to help you. If you can’t afford one, at least hire a proofreader to find those pesky typos. It’s tough for readers to forgive too many grammatical errors.

Attracting new subscribers

Remember, even if your email newsletters are brilliantly written, witty and informative, they won’t be of any help to you if no one reads them. You need a large readership to be effective.

Here are some easy tips to collect subscribers:

  • Include an opt-in link wherever you can. Paste it into your personal email signature, both for new messages and outgoing replies, blog articles, guest blog articles, etc.
  • Promote through all your social media sites.
  • If you are face to face with a potential subscriber, Invite people to sign up using your personal tablet or laptop.
  • If you have a brick and mortar building or frequently work trade shows, create a sign-up sheet for your newsletter. Some put out a fishbowl to collect business cards, letting them know that you’ll sign them up.
  • If you ship products, include an invitation to sign up with every package you send out. Note: If you sell through internet stores, such as amazon.com, be sure to read the fine print. Some have strict policies against this.

And here are some more creative, guerilla marketing approaches:

  • Create a unique event and offer a door prize for everyone who signs up for your newsletter.
  • Offer some sort of reward for subscribing. (It could be a free eBook, a one-time discount on services, etc.)
  • Give rewards to customers and employees who gather opt-in email addresses.
  • Create a fun inviting YouTube video which encourages people to sign up to your newsletter.

Preserve and improve your email list

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of our country’s most recognizable landmarks. Its caretakers don’t paint it once every few years, but keep up with maintenance every day. It’s the only way to make sure our beautiful bridge doesn’t deteriorate.

As a small business owner, you also need to keep up with routine maintenance on your prized possession, your customer contact list, protecting it from expected erosion. According to MarketingSherpa, a marketing research company, you should expect your email list to deteriorate by 25% per year.

Over time, your readers might change their email addresses, or perhaps they made an error when typing it in. These would produce ahard bounce, which means the email address is invalid. These should be removed immediately.

You might also collect soft bounces, if there is a server error. This can also happen if someone goes over their quota. Most newsletter services will continue trying to send your email to a soft bounce address over a period of three days. Only remove soft bounces if soft bounces occur to the same address three to five times.

It’s very important to avoid high bounce rates. They affect your reputation as a sender, which means your newsletters could wind up in your readers’ spam folder. Of course, having too many soft and hard bounces negatively affects your deliver rate.

There are a few things you can do to improve your bounce rate:

  • Include an unsubscribe link at the bottom of the email.
  • Invite readers to update their profile, so that you have the best email for them.
  • Use a verified opt-in process. With this technique, a new subscriber must confirm their address through a link sent to them using the specified email address.
  • Collect phone numbers or physical addresses for your subscribers, so you can follow up with them if there is a hard or series of soft bounces. Spend the time to prune the hard bounces out of your list and monitor the soft ones.

There’s an art form in creating a good newsletter that people will read and forward to their friends. If you find a style that fits you and your business, giving your client base information they can really use, you’ll continue to increase your readership and your business should naturally expand.

By: Laura Sherman

10 Most Popular Business Models for Small Businesses

1. Freelancing / Consulting

Freelancing is one of the most popular business models and perhaps one of the quickest and easiest ways to get started with your own business. Most of my friends that weren’t working full time were freelancers.

One reason that businesses like hiring freelancers is that they are less of a commitment than full time employees and sometimes less expensive.

Consultants often charge high fees for their expertise. They sometimes only provide advice, but some consultants will also do some hands on work for their clients.

The growth path for freelancers is usually to either become a highly paid consultant or start their own agency.

 

Pros:

Freelancing is probably one of the easiest businesses to start. There is plenty of demand for freelancers and you can probably start making money right away.

Another nice aspect of freelancing is that you can start doing it part time, even if you are currently employed full time. This will allow you to build your portfolio, start growing your client base and get some experience.

Most methods that freelancers use to get clients are usually free or low cost. With a service based business, you also don’t have to worry about product creation or employees when you start.

 

How Freelancers Find Customers:

Networking locally with the community and public speaking seem to be the most popular ways to find freelance work.

Referral networking groups like BNI or some Meetup groups can also help. Public speaking is another option to allows you to present yourself as an authority on a subject and get more clients.

People around the world can tap into the global economy using sites like Upwork or Freelancer.com.

 

Cons:

The downside of freelancing is that there is a lot of competition and a lot of traps that you can fall into that will eventually cause you to fail.

Common mistakes include charging too little, not have a good sales or marketing process and poor productivity planning.

Scaling a freelance business into an agency can also be challenging since hiring, training and managing service professionals can be time consuming.

 

Challenges:

The biggest challenges that freelancers have is finding enough clients and also finding clients that are willing to pay a good rate.

To grow from freelancing to consulting or an agency, you need to be able to charge higher rates than most freelancers and justify the cost to your customer. Figuring out a way to differentiate yourself from the competition is helpful.

As far as finding enough clients is concerned, most freelancers aren’t spending enough time on marketing or networking.

 

2. Brick & Mortar Retail

Another common business model is starting a brick and mortar business. Although brick and mortar businesses are a lot of work, some people like the idea of starting their own store and selling something to people locally.

 

Pros:

One of the biggest pros of a brick and mortar store is the physical presence. People like to shop in person and you and since selling in person is more effective than through the phone or online, your staff will also be able to sell more effectively.

Word of mouth can also help your business grow and a good location can send you a good amount of foot traffic.

 

How Brick and Mortar Businesses Find Customers:

Most brick and mortar businesses find customer from people passing by, if they are in a good location. Word of mouth and referrals are also very important.

If your product or service are good, then you might be able to do well even if your marketing skills aren’t that great. Some businesses do well based on word of mouth and foot traffic alone.

Events and local media coverage can help as well, especially when a new business is first launched. Some businesses also use local advertising and direct mail.

 

Cons:

Perhaps the biggest con of a brick and mortar business is the large cost. You will need to rent or purchase a building or office and possibly hire some employees.

Since the costs of maintaining a brick and mortar business are higher than an online business, maintaining a good volume of sales is critical. Overall, it can be a bigger financial risk than starting an online business.

Brick and mortar business owners can also find themselves working long or odd hours. It’s a lot of work and a lot to manage.

Another con is that your business is restricted to the local area. Small niches that can do well online could fail in a brick and mortar setting if there isn’t enough demand in the local area.

 

Challenges:

A big challenge that local businesses face is keeping customers coming back and maintaining profitability. The quality of the products and services must stand out from competitors.

 

3. E-commerce Retail

Selling physical products through an online e-commerce store can be lucrative, although it is also competitive.

 

Pros:

E-commerce can potentially have a large financial upside. Even if you sell low priced products, if enough people order then you could end up making a 6 or 7 figure income.

Dropshipping can make it really easy to open up a store and sell thousands of products. Fulfillment houses can store and ship products for you, if your supplier will not drop ship.

Selling physical products is also intuitive. You don’t have to be as good as selling or copywriting and you don’t have to worry about creating a sales funnel or process if your products are inexpensive.

Your store can make money while you sleep and you can potentially sell to people worldwide.

 

How E-commerce Stores Find Customers:

Search engine optimization (SEO) for high traffic money keywords is important for an e-commerce business. Most e-commerce retail businesses rely heavily on SEO.

Growing an email list of customers and interested prospects is also helpful. Some business also use PR, PPC, social media and affiliate marketing to drive more sales.

 

Cons:

E-commerce is very SEO focused and the keywords are very competitive. A sudden change in search engine position (which can sometimes be caused by Google’s algorithm) can result in a lot of lost sales (in some cases millions of dollars a day).

E-commerce wholesalers may not need any SEO, so getting retailers to carry your products are a challenge as well as managing logistics.

Managing orders and customer service are some additional challenges and if your store grows, then you may need to hire help quickly.

 

Challenges:

A lot of e-commerce niches are dominated by big brands so the biggest challenge is being able to compete with established competitors with big budgets and brand recognition. While the money potential is good, beginner marketers might have difficulty starting off in e-commerce due to the heavy competition.

4. SAAS / Software

Software is a popular business because the automation can help businesses save money and take care of tedious or difficult tasks.

 

Pros:

Purchasing software often costs less than hiring people to perform a tasks and can eliminate costly mistakes that humans might make. Therefore, an effective piece of software can be an easy sell if you are able to reach the right prospects.

 

How SAAS Businesses Find Customers:

Software businesses find customers in a variety of ways, including inbound marketing, content marketing and sales outreach.

 

Cons:

You’ll either have to be a good coder or hire a good coder or team to build and maintain your software. If the demand for your software isn’t strong enough, then your software project could end up being a costly failure.

Cost can also be another factor as sophisticated software could end up costing millions of dollars to develop. Outside funding may be required.

Also, most software businesses require strong sales or marketing to get seen by prospects.

 

Challenges:

Finding customers and creating an effective sales and marketing plan are challenges that software businesses face. Some software businesses struggle with finding the right talent to continue to build and maintain their software.

5. Ebooks

Information marketing is a popular business model and Ebooks are one of the simplest ways to get started. Although Ebooks can be sold for Amazon Kindle, some people choose to sell them on their own websites.

Some people still make a great living selling only Ebooks.

 

Pros:

Ebooks are easier to create than online courses and the cost to set up a website to sell them is affordable. Ebooks are also 100% profit.

Unlike courses, you don’t have to worry about community interaction or coaching calls.

 

How Ebook authors Find Customers:

Some Ebook authors find customers on Amazon, but many spend a lot of time building their email lists.

Some Ebook writers also use affiliate marketing to get more buyers.

 

Cons:

Ebooks can take some time to create and can still fail. They also tend to sell for less than online courses.

To sell an Ebook, you will have to be able to convince your prospects of the value. In other words, you will have to learn to write good sales copy.

 

Challenges:

The biggest challenge for Ebook sellers is finding an audience. There are tons of competing Ebooks out there, so standing out is important.

To make as much money as an online course, you also need a lot more traffic and customers.

6. Online Courses / Product Launches (Micro-continuity)

Online courses are one of the most popular way that influential bloggers and online personalities make money.

 

Pros:

Online courses are easier to sell than membership sites because they are a one time payment. They are also more profitable than Ebooks in most cases.

People can set up their own online courses affordably using WordPress plugins like Wishlist member or Digital Access Pass. Another option is to upload the course to an online course network like Udemy.

 

How Course Creators Find Customers:

The most common way to find customers by building an email list through inbound marketing.

Course creators sometimes expand into paid advertising and affiliate marketing after they have a successful product launch.

A lot of people that upload their courses to sites like Udemy will get traffic from people that are already on Udemy. Udemy will also promote courses that sell well with their own resources, but one reason that people will sell on their own sites instead is less competition and higher selling prices.

 

Cons:

Sites like Udemy can be competitive, so standing out and knowing how to sell are important.

Also, building your own list can be a challenge, especially for beginners.

 

Challenges:

The biggest challenges for course creators is creating marketing content that convinces people to buy and also generating enough leads to sell their product.

 

7. Membership Site (Forced Continuity)

Membership sites can be nice because they generate ongoing income, instead of income from a one time sale. However, you also need to provide ongoing value to your members.

In a forced continuity business model, customers pay every month by default unless they tell you to stop. A micro-continuity model will stop payment after a certain time, like 3 payments or the person can just pay the entire amount upfront.

 

Pros:

The biggest advantage of a membership site is that it provides ongoing income. If you get more customers over time, your income can continue to increase.

A community set up can really allow you to build relationships with your customers and ultimately help them to succeed.

 

How Membership Sites Find Customers:

Membership sites find customers in pretty much the same ways as course creators and E-book sellers. Inbound marketing, paid advertising and affiliate programs are some of these methods.

 

Cons:

Since people are paying on an ongoing basis, the selling price is often lower and it takes more time to get the same amount you would have gotten from selling a micro-continuity product.

You will also have to commit to creating new content on an ongoing basis for your customers.

 

Challenges:

One of the biggest challenges of the membership setup is to create enough valuable content for your community to keep them interested.

Finding time to promote your membership site can be another challenge, since you’ll spend a good amount of your time with ongoing content creation.

8. Blogging

Blogging is a popular business idea, but also has a high failure rate. What inspires many people to get into blogging is seeing other people succeed with it and living a lifestyle that most people can only dream of.

 

Pros:

Building your audience and becoming a thought leader can allow you to create a sustainable business. Blogging also allows you to connect with other bloggers and thought leaders.

Succeeding in blogging can allow you to live an enviable lifestyle, set your own schedule and travel at will.

The business is also sustainable if you continue to create value for your audience.

 

How Bloggers Find Customers:

Many bloggers will sell products or services to their visitors, but some blogs will sell advertising.

 

Cons:

Blogging is one of the most challenging businesses to start. A lot of people will struggle with building a list of leads or generating traffic to their site.

Another problem that bloggers face is figuring out how to best monetize their audience.

Also, it usually takes time to grow a blog to profitability unless you are already very experienced and knowledgeable in online marketing.

 

Challenges:

There are many challenges with blogging and it requires developing multiple skill sets.

Bloggers have to learn and manage many things. Generating traffic and leads is where most bloggers get stuck. But even after that, product creation and learning how to create a sales funnel are other topics that bloggers have to learn.

Creating ongoing content is another challenge that bloggers face. Consistent content creation is important and the content also needs to be valuable enough to keep your readers’ attention.

For bloggers looking to succeed with an advertising model, being able to drive a very large amount of traffic is required.

9. Investing / Trading

Investing or short term trading is one business model that some people consider. Although trading stocks seems like a simple way to make money, it’s actually very difficult to do well.

In fact, even most professional fund managers can’t outperform index funds. Most people who trade stocks are gambling and don’t fully understand the mechanics of how the markets work or even the fundamental value of the assets that they are purchasing.

 

Pros:

Only a tiny percent of people will succeed with investing or trading securities enough to do it as a full time business. But the few people that figure out how to do this make a lot of money.

Most security traders spend money subscribing to newsletters and sometimes purchase software and market data.

 

How Traders Make Money:

Sometimes, securities can experience big price changes in a short amount of time.

People that invest long term can make enough money to make a living, but only if they have a significant amount of money invested in the market and are very good at what they do. Even some of the most well known professional investors have failed catastrophically on occasion.

 

Cons:

Since you put a good amount of your own money at risk, there are psychological factors that work against you. People make bad decisions with money when fear and greed come into play.

You are also competing against well funded professionals with years of experience. The odds of succeeding at this type of business are very low.

 

Challenges:

Short term trading one of the most difficult businesses to do well with and should be avoided by most people. People who do well with investing usually are good at managing risk, but it’s rarely enough for a full time income.

10. Real Estate

It’s been said that nothing has created more millionaires than real estate. While that may be true, it’s also important to note that most people who did well with real estate also happened to buy at a time when the market was beginning to pick up.

There are many ways to make money in real estate including fixing up and flipping houses, renting out properties or becoming a real estate agent or broker.

 

Pros:

Real estate can be very lucrative, but having a good knowledge of real estate is important.  Market conditions can also have an effect on your success.

For real estate agents, starting off can be low cost and selling houses can be fun.

 

How to Find Customers:

Good marketing and networking can be helpful when it comes to finding buyers and renters, but market conditions can affect your outlook.

For real estate agents, most rely on in person networking. More savvy agents will venture into advertising and even online marketing.

 

Cons:

It can take a lot of money to get started in real estate investing. You also have to know the area well and the market values of homes. Having a good agent and network of contacts can be helpful for real estate investors.

Real estate agents aren’t taught how to market themselves or to get customers, which is why many will fail. Having an entirely commission based salary is also something that many people wouldn’t be comfortable with.

 

Challenges:

One of the biggest challenges with real estate is accurately estimating all the costs involved and understanding the market.

By: Brian Lang