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The Best Way to Grow Your Email List at Events


best way to grow your email list at events

Growing your email list. One of the most effective ways to create a direct link between prospective customers and your business.

But while it’s easy to fixate on collecting more email signups solely from your website, you definitely don’t want overlook opportunities at events such as trade shows, sales presentations, and industry conferences.

When I was promoting my first book, I thought it was enough to just give people a handout about—you guessed it—my book. But what is the likelihood that someone would take that handout with them and then refer back to it to visit my website and then find my email signup form and share their information? Needless to say, you can’t assume handouts will automatically help you grow your website traffic or your email list. Handout or not, once people leave your event the chances of you capturing their email can drop like a lead balloon.

Paper signups can be effective, but they’re time consuming for everybody involved. If you have a strong turnout at a trade show, there’s a chance people could end up waiting in line to sign up—and that might not be a good thing. And once you get those paper signups, that means somebody is going to have to enter all of that information in—and that typically eats up time you just don’t have.

And then there’s the fishbowl. Beyond having to buy an actual fishbowl and get it to the event without breaking it, similar to paper signups—you’re still left with entering or scanning all of those business cards into a database, email marketing solution such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, or salesforce Marketing Cloud.

I think we can all agree that all of the above have their share of limitations.

Enter smartphones and text messaging. Most (if not all) of your current and prospective customers have them, use them, and can’t live without them. Instead of wasting time and missing opportunities to grow your email list by relying on handouts, paper signups, you can capture an email address from any phone in seconds.

Join By Text, an email sign up web app from Pittsburgh-based JA Interactive, has helped businesses and non-profits capture more than 50,000 emails via text messages in the first year of their rollout—eliminating the need for paper signups and saving organizations a substantial amount of time by completely automating the signup process.

If you’re already using an email marketing service such as MailChimp, Campaigner, or Hubspot to connect with your subscribers, that’s even better. Join By Text integrates with more than of the top 10 platforms which means you’re able to save even more time uploading your email signups.

Best of all, they have plans starting at as little as $19 per month—or what you would spend on 3 fishbowls.

As a consumer, I used Join By Text to signup for the Pittsburgh Tweetup email list and the process couldn't have been quicker or more seamless. Definitely something I'd recommend to businesses looking for a more effective and more efficient way to collect emails offline.

So, if you are looking for the best way to grow your email marketing list at events, be sure to check out Join By Text. You can also watch this quick video to see how it works...

Already a Join By Text customer or using a similar platform? Share your feedback in the comments below.

[Image: Death to the Stock Photo]

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Writing Newsletters for Internet Marketing


Writing Newsletters for Internet Marketing Pittsburgh

A while back I wrote a post called “5 Highly Effective Email Newsletter Examples.” In that post, I shared some of my favorite examples of B2C and B2B newsletter examples for internet marketing including specific callouts of what makes them so great.

Creating an effective email newsletter requires the perfect mix of persuasive subject line, relevant content, targeted calls to action aligned to your marketing goals, and formatting/visual appeal—something I spend a lot of time focusing on when working with my business clients.

You’re competing for the attention of customers in a crowded inbox along with dozens of other businesses and organizations. To get noticed, your internet marketing and your newsletters need a rock solid strategy.  

[Image: Death to the Stock Photo]

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Move The Crowd


marketing engagement pittsburgh

I spend a lot of time doing competitor benchmarking for my clients. And one of the first things that always jumps out is which companies are squarely focused on marketing.  

They understand their brand value

They’re able to clearly and concisely articulate why they exist and distill everything down into a few core themes that permeate all of the marketing messaging while also consistently reinforcing their brand value

Just the other day I was looking at marketing messaging for a company and was really impressed with how they were able to highlight their core themes throughout their website, videos, and all of their marketing content. If we asked people to describe that business based on their marketing materials, you better believe those same themes would come up time and time again.

They understand the importance of content marketing

It’s one thing to describe what you do—to talk about your products and services—but it’s another to actually get people excited about them. For that to happen, you’ve actually got to be excited about them.

Once you identify those core themes that are central to your business brand, you’ve got to look for opportunities to establish credibility, communicate value to prospective customers, and differentiate yourself from your competition. For example, you can “work with brands” or you can “partner with the world’s best brands.” Which one would grab your attention?

They align their marketing and business goals

What do you ultimately want people to do when they visit your website, read your brochure, or watch your video? I know it might sound obvious, but I’m always surprised at how many companies either don’t include a targeted call-to-action or bury it so far down on their website that it will never see the light of day.

If you want people to request a demo, make sure that’s the primary call-to-action on your website. That includes your top-level navigation and any relevant pages. Where it makes sense, incorporate any supporting materials you think would increase the likelihood that someone will take action including testimonials, awards, and screenshots (especially effective for SaaS companies).

They understand their competition

In most cases they have an intimate knowledge of who and what they’re up against. That way they’re able to quickly identify opportunities and gaps, and take action to stay ahead of the game.

If your marketing is going to get people to take action, you need to be able to understand your brand value, communicate that value through your content and messaging, align your marketing efforts to your business goals, and know your competition.

How will your marketing move the crowd?

[Image: Flickr user Martin Fisch]

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Want to Improve Customer Service? Understand the Customer Journey


how to improve customer service with customer journey mapping, map

39% of buyers continue to avoid mid-sized companies 2 or more years after a bad experience*. Let that one sink in for a while. 2 or more years. Does that make you want to rethink your customer service strategy?

The number of ways customers can engage with companies and brands almost seem infinite, doesn’t it? A visit to your website, a call to customer service, an interaction on social media, an email exchange, online chat support—each touchpoint along the way defines their customer journey and ultimately defines their customer experience.  

As company/customer interactions continue to get more complex as a result of emerging technologies, real-time access to product and pricing information, and increasing competition, understanding the customer journey will become paramount for all companies, regardless of size.

And it’s up to you whether that customer journey is an incredibly smooth and enjoyable experience that leaves them wanting to tell everyone they know how awesome your company is. OR one that leaves them incredibly frustrated—wanting to tell everyone they know they think your company is terrible.

Understanding Your Customers

It might sound simple enough, but to truly understand the customer journey you need to first understand your customers—who they are, what they care about, and how they engage with your brand. What are their expectations? What types of information are they looking for when they are considering making a purchase?

Whether you create full-fledged buyer personas or just spend some time objectively trying to define who you think your customers are, those insights will be incredibly helpful as you start to understand their customer journey.

Mapping the Customer Journey

Once you know who your customers are, then it’s time to start thinking about all the different ways they can possibly engage with your brand before, during, and after they make a purchase. Their journey begins the second they experience a touchpoint with your business (no matter how big or small) and continues throughout their entire customer lifecycle.

Here’s a quick video on how to get started on creating a customer journey map. I think you’ll find it really helpful.

At each and every point, you need to identify both the good experiences and the bad—looking for ways to make sure those good experiences continue to happen while also trying to eliminate any of those bad experiences.

That’s one of the reasons I’m hell bent on companies rethinking their use of automated call trees. Nothing says “We don’t care about our customers” like automated call trees. Stop and think about your own customer journey when you engage with other brands—do you get all warm and fuzzy when you navigate an automated call tree?

Knowing Where Your Customers Are On Their Journey

Just as important as understanding their overall journey is your ability to understand where they are on that journey at each point in time. Back to the phone tree example, if they are a prospective customer that could be a huge miss as it could be their first and only point of contact.

The key is personalizing each experience based on each unique journey. That means you need to differentiate first-time customers from returning or former customers. Power users from casual consumers.

That also means you need to engage members of your team from across your organization. Understanding the customer journey and creating a culture of customer service is going to require having the right strategy, content, technology, and operational and organizational structure in place.

*Zendesk survey of 1046 respondents on the impact of customer service on customer lifetime value

[Image: Flickr user David Bleasdale]


Ready to start mapping your customer journey?

Here are 4 questions about the customer journey every marketer needs to answer.

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Year in Review 2014


Year in review 2014, rearview mirror

How to reach more customers? When I think about the biggest challenge faced by small businesses this year, it was how to find a way to improve marketing performance so their products and services actually get noticed amongst all of the noise. 

There was continued talk about the decrease in organic reach for brands on social media. With a finite amount of space in news feeds, an infinite number of businesses trying to be seen, and social media platforms trying to make money by charging for sponsored and promoted content, it’s getting harder and harder for most businesses to get noticed by current and prospective customers than it was even 12 months ago.

And just when you thought there wasn’t room for another social media platform, early adopters were abuzz over a new social media platform called Ello. Dubbed the “Facebook killer” back in October, after only 2 months it seems like the initial excitement has started to wane. 

Given the saturation (and frustrations) of businesses vying for attention on social media, you started to see an increase in email marketing. However, as was the case with social media, once more and more businesses start to double down on email marketing, there’s a good chance consumers will start to tune out.

Creating an Integrated Marketing Strategy

In looking at the businesses we work with and follow, those that were most successful were able to find the right mix of online and offline marketing tactics.

Having an integrated marketing strategy allowed them to reach customers where they are while also avoiding an overreliance on trying to find the “next big thing” in online marketing.

Making Marketing a Priority

The businesses that were most successful also made marketing a priority. Not a “when I have time” thing but a core focus area for their entire organization—with a seat at the table along with accounting, operations, and IT.

With the start of the new year right around the corner, we wanted to take a look back at 2014 and celebrate the success of some of our current and former clients and the exciting things that happened this year.

Client Success

Pittsburgh-based startup Diamond Kinetics successfully launched their first product—SwingTracker—which helps baseball and softball players improve their performance using motion sensors , real-time analytics, and interactive data visualization accessible via a mobile app.

In the spirit of being a startup, they stayed incredibly busy throughout the year participating in pitch competitions including being 1 of 9 startups selected for the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, building out their website and mobile app, and finalizing designs for their product packaging.

diamond kinetics swingtracker, Pittsburgh startup

A Boston-based technology client that will announce a major deal in early 2015. The news comes on the heels of some incredibly strong momentum they were able to achieve throughout 2014 as a result of a website revamp (including carefully identifying and being able to articulate their unique value proposition), countless meetings with prospective corporate customers, and a lot of hustle from their team. I’m really excited to see what 2015 has in store for them.

First Insight, a predictive analytics company that helps retailers and manufacturers design and select the right new products at the right price, announced partnerships with Abercrombie & Fitch and New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology as well as the launch of InsightPlanning—a predictive analytics platform that harnesses consumer insights to allow businesses to make more informed decisions on product production and inventory quantity.

PumpPeelz, an ecommerce business specializing in personalized insulin pump covers and diabetes accessories, was able to triple their sales over the previous year. The company worked hard to increase their online presence, continue to establish new relationships within their industry, and provide top-notch customer service to their customers. In addition to the spike in sales, it’s no surprise they also saw similar trends with their website traffic.

pump peelz, ecommerce

Resume Deli, a New York-based career coaching and resume writing service, was able to secure mentions by regional, national, and global news outlets including U.S. News & World Report and New York Daily News. Having successfully helped more than 4,000 satisfied clients, Resume Deli has some deep industry insights to share with job seekers ranging from executive to entry level. It’s been great to see their continued success on the public relations front.

Visibility is crucial for any brick and mortar storefront. Clay Yoga installed new eye-catching signage which is now much more visible to the hundreds of cars that pass by every day. The new signage, along with changes to their website and updates to their business listings in online directories including Yelp, will really go a long way in helping to increase their brand awareness.

storefront signage example for small businesses, curb appeal

Zenith Acupuncture was able to grow their client base over the past 12 months to a point where they will be able to add a second location which will go live in early 2015. Huge news and the result of lots of hard work.

Gretta’s Organic Tees continued to expand their growing list of retailers in Pittsburgh, Delaware, South Carolina, and Florida. You can find their awesome shirts locally at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and Jules among others. Gretta, the creative force behind Gretta’s Organic Tees, hand-draws each of the designs for her line of organic toddler tees—a must have for any little one in your family. She’s also expanded into custom orders for organizations and businesses.

Marketing Consulting By The Numbers

Here’s a quick snapshot of our work with small- to mid-sized businesses this year.

  • 4285 miles traveled for 61 face-to-face meetings with local clients, business owners, and contacts; 87 cups of coffee consumed
  • 7. The number of workshops and presentations including a standing room only session on LinkedIn for Lead Generation at the Pennsylvania Business Technology Conference as well as Google for Entrepreneurs Week, Pennsylvania Association of Sustainable Agriculture and Public Relations Society of America-Pittsburgh
  • 4. The number of Pittsburgh startups that participated in the second Marketing Sparks event hosted at AlphaLab Gear. It was great being invited back by the team at MARC USA and having a chance to join colleagues to share actionable marketing strategies and tactics with a talented group of start-up entrepreneurs
  • 11. The number of states including Pennsylvania where our clients were based in 2014. Although we’re based in Pittsburgh, PA and continue to work with an ever growing list of local businesses,  we continued to see strong growth from around the country including California, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia 
  • For more numbers and client success stories, check out our marketing case studies

[Image: Flickr user Massimiliano Calamelli]

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"When we first started working with Shawn we had 20 clients and have since grown to over 50 clients worldwide."

Nick End, Shoefitr

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