Jennifer Smiga

Jennifer Smiga

About Jennifer Smiga

Jennifer founded inBLOOM Communications to help brands bloom in a digital world. inBLOOM’s team of writers, designers, publicists and marketing specialists excel at converting followers to customers. inBLOOM’s clients benefit from Jennifer’s experience in donor relations, marketing, public relations and event production.

8 Ways to Raise Your Email Newsletter From the Dead

8 Ways to Raise Your Email Newsletter From the Dead

Email newsletters aren’t dead, but there are some that may just bore you to death. Today, we may be more accepting about receiving email communication from a brand or service provider on a more frequent basis, say even weekly or daily. But the way we digest the content we receive is different.

Thanks to a convenient mobile lifestyle, we search and view content almost exclusively on our smart phones and tablets – reading and processing nuggets of info on the go. Email newsletters can survive this faster, friendlier mobile world but they need to be more strategic and savvy to succeed.

Every email does not need to be a sales pitch, and newsletters will have you working harder to understand your customers’ needs. The payoff is a closer, more trusted relationship. Follow these tips to make your email newsletter stand out and get read, not killed, in your customer’s inbox.

1. Link to a blog and include a teaser

Emails featuring your blog posts are great for building buzz on your blog and increasing readership. inBLOOM sends weekly emails to our contacts highlighting our latest posts. We give a brief overview of the post (about one to two of the best lines), include the main image hyperlinked to the post, and provide a call to action such as “read it here.” In Constant Contact, we keep track of our open and click-through rates and also take note of which blog topics attract the most interest. Continuing to write about a topic that falls flat is a waste of your valuable time.

2. Include images

The images you include in your email newsletters should be high resolution and relate to the content. Use photos taken at events or on-site. They should showcase your latest and greatest news and happenings. Avoid stock photos when possible – people want to see you!

3. Speak casually

Striking the right tone is essential if you want to reach and connect with your audience. By speaking casually, you come off as personable, friendly and trustworthy. Casual is just a bit more formal than conversational. When using this tone, you may want to fall back on sanctioned grammar and punctuation rules and rely more on word choice to keep the communication light.

4. Get real

Give some insight to your team and process –show people you’re “real.” You may want to include recent announcements or interesting facts about employees/volunteers in your email newsletters.

inBLOOM recently sent out a creative Mother’s Day email, showing our realness. We included a greeting and then our photos with quotes about why we love being moms. It was a fun way to show people a more personal side of who we are.

Another great way to get more personable is to include your photo as a signature at the bottom of your emails. This is particularly ideal if you are your brand – for example if you’re a psychiatrist, book author, personal trainer or veterinarian.

5. Keep it clean, modern and optimized for mobile

Don’t overwhelm the eyes with the design or too much copy. Your email should be visually appealing, with a clean and modern look. It should also be optimized for mobile. Mobile email will account for 15 to 70% of email opens, depending on your target audience, product and email type. (eMailmonday)

You may want to keep a consistent look and feel to all your email newsletters so that people easily recognize the email is from you business. The best way to do this is to customize a template in your email marketing software and keep using that same template. We’re fans of Constant Contact for small businesses and nonprofits.

Be creative when choosing the right font, color scheme, images, header, and footer. The ideal size for a header image is 600 pixels wide and no more than 200 pixels tall. We recommend your header include your logo with your company tagline and services. It’s a good idea to hyperlink your website with your header.

6. Give people the option for more

Don’t stuff your email with too much information – less is more! People aren’t going to spend too much time with your email open. Instead, give people the option to read more about a certain topic. Link to content on your website that gives this information. Also use your email as an opportunity to link to recent third-party blogs and articles in the media that mention your company. It’s great PR and elevates your reputation.

7. Use an enticing subject line

Use a subject line that entices people to open your email, but one that won’t cause it to end up in spam. Similar to a blog post or news article, the headline needs to be good or else it’s less likely to be read.

So, how do you write an enticing subject line that will get the recipient to open your email? The length of your subject line matters – keep it short, simple and descriptive. We recommend no more than 5-8 words or 40 characters. Many email providers will cut off subject lines with greater than 60 characters.

8. Release insider info

Who doesn’t want to be the first to know something? Give your audience insider news about an event, promotion, expansion/renovation or new product/service. It’s as simple as that. If your readership feels valued, you’ll see better results.

To get started sending emails that get better results, sign up for Constant Contact here. Have questions along the way, comment on this blog and we’ll be in touch.

For some other reads on email marketing, check out inBLOOM’s posts on:

Know the 6 Types of Emails That Deliver Success

4 Ways to Get Better Results with Email

Tips and Tools for Using Constant Contact To Promote Your Events

 

For my fellow Bansky and art fans, this cover photo is by stencil artist Bandit.

Photo cred: flickr: Bruno Girin 

 

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The Machines Are Rising Say SEO Experts. Are You Ready?

The Machines Are Rising Say SEO Experts. Are You Ready?

Digital marketer, professor and SEO expert Marcus Tandler believes we are entering an age where links will no longer be a part of online SEO ranking formulas. In fact, he thinks Google may be already working on leveraging the power of machine learning to separate itself from old school ranking factors, becoming more independent in the SEO game.

At this year’s YoastCon, a Netherlands conference dedicated to website optimization, Marcus will discuss the changing world of SEO and the next evolutionary steps in search engine rankings. He’ll talk about the approach of Russian search engine Yandex, and how at the end of 2015 its announcement to stop counting links as a ranking factor for commercial queries stunned the SEO community. And the Russians aren’t the only ones annoyed by linkspam. Google has taken measures to tackle the problem and Marcus expects OnPage SEO to become more important in years to come.

What is OnPage SEO?

It refers to factors that have an effect on your Web site or Web page listing in natural / organic search results. There are marketing agencies like inBLOOM available to help you improve your website’s SEO by focusing on usability, content, tools, and quality, instead of trying to cheat search engines with keyword stuffing and spam links.

So how does a search engine like Yandex now assess the importance or authority of a website without the help of links?

Yandex looks at over 800 factors, including those that are internal (content of the website and its structure) and external. They collect all data about the website they can collect while complying with users’ privacy policy.

What does all this tech talk mean to your digital marketing efforts? You should spend less time and money on paid links and more on SEM (search engine marketing). Instead, start focusing on your site’s design, content, and visitor behavior. Offer value and search engines like Google will take notice.

Here are some general things to know about SEO optimization according to Marcus:

  • Over 5 billion searches are done on Google every day
  • Search is the most visited website on mobile phones and Google has become a mobile-first company
  • Search, search behavior, search needs, search expectations have evolved, and search engines have no choice but to respond
  • You need to learn who is clicking in order to know what is providing value
  • It’s not just about finding what you’re searching for; it’s finding answers to your questions and needs as quickly as possible
  • Search must become more personalized, moving from a web search to a contextualized search that answers people’ questions

So how does Google rank content if there aren’t a lot of links to a post?

It reverts to the way search engines were before links – judging based on the text on the page. The way Google works is that it says the first time we see the word on the page, count up a little bit more. The next time, ok a little more but not a ton more, but after a while they say we’ve seen this word a few times maybe this page is about the topic. However, it doesn’t help you to keep repeating that keyword over and over again. And at some point, Google might view that as keyword stuffing and the page would not do as well as it would with just a moderate mention of a keyword.

Page rank doesn’t just focus on backlinks. There are several ways Google accesses the quality of content, such as determining if the page sits on a domain that seems reputable. But typically, if a user is typing a rare phrase and there are no other pages on the web that have that particular phrase, even if there aren’t that many links, the page can be returned because Google thinks it might be relevant to what the user is looking for. The search engine is looking at the quality of the content that is on the page, rather than looking for links.

Getting external links was once the single most important objective for attaining high rankings. This stems from the idea that external links are one of the hardest metrics to manipulate and thus, one of the best ways for search engines to determine the popularity of a given web page. This idea was first used by the early search engine Alta Vista and later improved upon by Google.

Google first made its mark by introducing the Stanford community to PageRank (an algorithm developed by Google co-founder Larry Page). This algorithm counted hyperlinks as votes for popularity. The pages that had the most links pointing at them were considered the most popular. When they were deemed relevant for a particular query, the most popular and relevant pages would become the first pages listed in Google’s results. Although this algorithm is much more complex today, it still likely includes the notion of external links as votes.

So now that you have the prediction for what’s up Google’s search engine sleeves in the coming years, it’s important that you gear up for the change. Start providing your website visitors with engaging, helpful experiences from the start and you will be rewarded.

Cover photo: Martin Gommel

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3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

Managing a social media campaign for a business of any size is no small job. It means hours of hopping on your phone or computer to monitor all those dings and alerts. Your customers and employees may be active on your sites so you may be responding to inquiries and engaging in online conversations daily.

But are you spending more time being reactive than proactive in your efforts?

Basically, are you putting more time into reacting to the comments and insights on Facebook and LinkedIn, instead of actually crafting quality content that attracts your target customer or client.

Maybe a large part of your communication on social isn’t even with the people who you are trying to reach?

Many people spin wheels publishing daily with little or no thought behind the content they’re pushing out. It may even be a social media epidemic at this point. Maximum input with little return.

But, for the companies that are tracking the ROI of their efforts, they understand that a savvy social media marketing campaign will score valuable relationships that offer value.

Here are three questions to ask yourself before you publish those posts, tweets, and blogs:

1. Are you posting with your target audience in mind?

If you’re not about to spend the big bucks on market research, do yourself the favor of at least getting a better understanding of your business’ target personas. According to Hubspot, personas are fictional, generalized characters that encompass the various needs, goals and observed behavior patterns among your real and potential customers. They help you understand your customers better. Creating personas will allow you to keep them in mind when writing and sharing content on social.

For example, if you’re managing the social media for a pet boarding facility, you’ll want to write for the dog mom – a single woman who may not have a family yet but lives to spoil her furbaby, spending money regularly on grooming, daycare and pet massages. Talk to her as a mom, not a pet owner, and you’ll instantly connect and be able to share content that resonates with her.

If it’s not a customer, maybe you’re trying to connect with an influencer in your industry that will open up the doors to your target audience. It could be a design blogger who you connected with on Twitter and is now sharing your latest blog on trends in tile with his Facebook page of over 40,000 likes.

Each post you write and share can help you to get a step closer to attracting, converting, closing and delighting your personas, so they become customers.

2. Does your content address your audience’s needs, pains or questions?

Now that you have a better understanding of the types of people you are trying to convert, listen on social media to the conversations people in your industry are having and then turn their needs, pain points, and questions into desirable content.

For example, Cynthia Schonmaker of ACD Granite uses the publishing platform on LinkedIn to share her knowledge of building materials and establish herself as a thought leader in the design community. She answers many of the questions she has heard for years and answers them on social media. And this is very valuable! You’ll see on this post about marble maintenance and care that she hits the nail on the head with her connections.

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media 3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media 3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

3. Do you have an action that you want your audience to take?

Let’s face it, not every post you share is going to ask people to do something. Nor should it. You are talking to people and need to connect with them in other ways, too. But as a marketer, you need to produce that ROI, and you also need people to take the next step on their buyer’s journey. An action can be anything from read on, sign up for an offer or newsletter, or an event invitation. It should be inviting, easy and maybe even fun. If you address their needs and pains, then they may even be eager to take the next step. The important thing is that you have them willingly give you something, and often an email will suffice so that you can further build the relationships and provide value.

Even a free cupcake, like in this promotion on the bakery Facebook page from Cupcake Magician, can be a sweet deal for a fan. Remember, no matter what you’re offering, don’t be overly salesly. It will sweeten the content if you can connect with people with a compelling reason to click.

3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media 3 Questions to Answer Before Posting on Social Media

If you’re able to answer the above three questions before posting your content on social media, you’re going to gain a better understanding of your followers’ needs and wants.  If you want to take your social media campaign to the next level, contact inBLOOM Communications and our team will assist you with creating a campaign that gets the results you seek. We offer a complimentary consultation for new clients.

Cover photo: picjumbo.com

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Tweet Tweet! Twitter Turns Nine

Tweet Tweet! Twitter Turns Nine

Tweet, tweet! Twitter turns nine today, March 21, 2015.

Twitter has connected people during times of war, elections, and tragedy, as well as, entertained us and bridged the divide among businesses, charities and the general public.

By far it’s inBLOOM’s favorite social networking tool and has produced real results for us from securing sponsorships to attracting the media.

It’s a huge platform for creating awareness for personal brands, organizations and businesses. Hashtags like #SocialGood, #CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), Nike’s #makeitcount, and #tweetchat have brought millions together and sold billions in products and services.

Read here for the history of Hashtags.

To celebrate the big occasion, here are some of inBLOOM’s top Twitter posts:

4 Reasons You Should Be Tweeting

10 Tips to Organically Grow on Twitter

Attract Publicity with the Right Strategy on Social Media

How the Media Uses Twitter and Tips for Tweeting Them

Gabriel Stricker, Twitter’s Chief Communications Officer, shares a look back at some of the landmark moments followers have created – moments that have defined our history, and perhaps yours. Read it here.

Listen to Twitter’s Jack Dorsey and Dick Costolo on StoryCorps as they share memories of their first meeting 9 years ago.

Happy Birthday Twitter! Enjoy your time on the platform and let’s follow one another at @inBLOOMbuzz.

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4 Reasons Why You Should Be Tweeting

4 Reasons You Should Be Tweeting

Have you ever attended a networking event where you felt the excitement in the air? You eagerly moved around the room making small talk and swapping business cards. You made the most of your time introducing yourself and your services. You hopefully also did a lot of listening.

This process is similar to the excitement I experience daily on Twitter, but without the business attire and handshake.

Following thought leaders, starting or jumping in conversations, listening, sharing knowledge, and taking action are key strategies to successfully networking on Twitter. Like any in-person cocktail party or conference, you can use Twitter to get ahead in your career.

Yes, Twitter can be a powerful and exciting space if you understand its benefits and how to harness its potential. Everyone should carve out time to tweet.

Every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year. Surely, a few of these tweets resonate with you and can help you to succeed in business?

In order to tweet with a target, set goals for your time tweeting and have a purpose for spending the 20 minutes to one-hour a day on the social networking site. At a cocktail party, you wouldn’t watch from afar as people communicated, so don’t waste your precious time on Twitter pushing out content without purpose or watching from the sidelines.

Here are some questions to ask yourself before getting started.

Do you have a story or recent news to share? Then you’ll want to focus your efforts on getting to know the media on Twitter and connecting with them. Read our blog for more on this topic.

Maybe you’re looking to connect with like-minded experts in your industry and learn how to position your business or organization? Twitter is a great resource for research.

Or maybe you want to grow revenue via Twitter. Yes, it can be done. You need to be strategic when tweeting like any marketing campaign. Attract others with professional content in the form of blogs, infographics, pictures, special offers and contests. People relate to a good story, creativity and an approach that resonate on personal and emotional levels, not hard sales tactics. Same goes for your approach in person or on social media.

No matter how you use the tool, connect with people who add value to your life and help you to further your professional or personal goals.

Here are four reasons you should be tweeting.

1. TO KEEP UP WITH LATEST INDUSTRY TRENDS

Twitter is a great place to stay on top of relevant news and trends in your industry. Follow thought leaders, trade publications, groups, reporters, editors and news sites for updates that can help you gain a sense of your relevance in the world. You won’t know what you have to offer others until you know their wants and needs.

2. TO INCREASE SEARCH RANKINGS

Social media marketing and SEO are two tightly integrated strategies for increasing your search rankings. Both are organic, inbound strategies that focus on building an appealing identity that naturally attract visitors. Since social media relies on high-quality content and a visible, strong brand presence, the efforts you spend on SEO can improve your social media reach.

The total number of followers and connections your social media profiles contain does have a significant influence on your rankings. A company with 100 Twitter followers won’t receive nearly the ranking bonus of a mega-corporation with a million Facebook likes and a million Twitter followers.

Don’t despair if you have a low number of followers on Twitter though because by participating in the conversation on the site and using it as a networking and sales tool are more important. Concentrate less on numbers and communicate more with your Twitter followers.

3. TO ENGAGE THE MEDIA

According to ING’s 2014 Social Media Impact survey, 57% of journalists consider social media to be ideal for contacting PR professionals and vice versa. Use Twitter to build relationships with journalists and bloggers to gain a better understanding of what they write about, when they need resources, and how they prefer to work with you.

According to a 2014 report from the Indiana University School of Journalism, 40% of journalists said social media networks are very important to their work. Twitter was the most popular type of social media used by journalists, and over half of those surveyed said they regularly use the platform for gathering information and reporting stories.

 4. SELF-PROMOTION

Although you shouldn’t excessively tweet about yourself, Twitter is a great tool to promote your blog content, news, videos and events every so often. When you tweet about yourself or your business, do it in a way that entertains and educates. If it’s your latest blog post, avoid saying things like “Check out my latest blog post about……” or “My business is hosting this great event next week – you should check it out.” Let them know what you’re tweeting about and how it will benefit them, then link to your post or event.

Overall, your tweets should include a healthy mix of self-promotion, conversation, information sharing, etc. Make all your Twitter updates interesting and useful. Share links to articles and blog posts you enjoy. Retweet interesting updates. Join conversations and answer questions. Twitter success is rooted in conversations and reciprocal relationships.

If you need help managing your Twitter account, advice on what you should be tweeting or tips for building relationships on social networks, feel free to comment on this post. Connect with inBLOOM on Twitter @inBLOOMbuzz.

Resources:

6 Social Media Practices That Boost SEO, Forbes

Twitter Usage Statistics, Internet Live Stats

photo by Viktor Hanacek 

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TEDx Inspires 3 Lessons in Self-Promotion 

TEDx Inspires 3 Lessons in Self-Promotion

Looking to jump-start your career? Attend or organize a TEDx event in your community.

Started 26 years ago as a conference in California, TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It has grown to support world-changing ideas with many initiatives. At a TED conference, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less. Three major TED events are held each year: in Los Angeles, California; in Vancouver and Whistler, Canada; and in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Today, TED’s TEDx initiative grants free licenses to people around the world to organize TED-style events in their communities. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual events are self-organized. At these events, live speakers combined with TEDTalks video spark deep discussion and connection.

Since 2013, community members from across Monmouth County, N.J. have come together to organize the TEDxNavesink conference. Each year, a different theme is chosen to build the day of non-fiction theater. In 2015, speakers and attendees will explore how accelerators are shaping our emerging and upcoming future. TEDxNavesink: Accelerators will be held on Saturday, April 11, 2015, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Monmouth University in West Long Branch, N.J.

For the past three years, inBLOOM has assisted TEDxNavesink with its public relations and co-marketing efforts. We love everything involved with promoting a TEDx event – the passionate conversations on and offline, meeting new and exciting entrepreneurs, sharing talk topics with media, and co-marketing with local organizations and thought leaders. Most importantly, it’s an energized event that motivates entrepreneurs and innovators of all ages to jump start their careers.

Here are inBLOOM’s three TEDx inspired lessons in self-promotion to inspire you to attend the conference of ideas worth spreading:

1. LEVERAGE A BUILT-IN SOCIAL NETWORK

TEDx presents a wonderful opportunity to leverage the social networks of others in order to bring awareness to your personal brand. Take a look through the speakers list and do some digging to see which people are social influencers and part of large networks. Get on Twitter and follow the speakers. Tweet before and during the event, mention speakers and use hashtags to initiate conversation with a broader audience.

Read our tips for tweeting.

2. GIVE THE TALK OF YOUR LIFE

Something you must know before getting involved with a TEDx event is that it’s not a typical conference. It’s a known fact that every speaker giving a TED Talk gives the talk of their life, which is why the audience always has high expectations. Not everyone can captivate an audience; it’s a skill that takes time to develop. However, there are ways to instantly improve your speaking and presentation skills, which you will learn by watching the TEDx Talks.

TED and TEDx speakers make a good impression through body language –something extremely important during any presentation. The way you stand, move on the stage and interact with the audience are all factors that determine whether or not you will give a successful talk.  Even your level of mental alertness and preparedness are key to keeping the audience’s interest.

Not only are TED speakers in tune with their body language, they also wear their heart on their sleeve. There’s no need to worry about listening to an emotionless monotone voice – the speakers let their emotions show. By doing this, they create a meaningful and lasting connection with the audience.

3. MAINTAIN AND STRENGTHEN RELATIONSHIPS 

One of the most rewarding things you get out of participating in a TEDx event are the connections you make with everyone involved: organizers, volunteers, speakers, and sponsors. Make time to establish relationships by conversing and connecting both on and offline.

Many of the people involved in TEDx events consistently blog, host podcasts, and communicate on social media. Stay in touch on social channels and comment and share their content regularly. This is an excellent way to stay top-of-mind and can open doors for potential work and collaborations. Most importantly, meet up every few months for coffee and conversation. These in-person meetings hold much value in a hurried, digital world.

 TEDx Inspires 3 Lessons in Self-Promotion

Make sure to reserve your spot at 2015 TEDxNavesink: Accelerators. Learn more about TEDxNavesink and purchase tickets here.

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8 Reasons To Work On Your Relationship with SEO

8 Reasons To Work On Your Relationship with SEO

Like an old boyfriend’s name, the term SEO pops up in conversation here and there. But unlike the old boyfriend, deep down you know you need to work on your relationship with SEO in order to improve your online ranking and reputation.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a way of indexing content on Internet search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo! SEO continues to play the starring role in any website development and content marketing plan.

When I meet with business owners, they often ask, “How can I improve my website ranking?” or “How can my business show up when people search the Web?” The answers to these questions have changed over the years as SEO experts have responded to the ways search engines value content and rank website authority.

Today, marketers and writers can access much of the same data used by SEO experts to create content that is loved by search engines and the people using them. Businesses can take control of their SEO with organic and paid marketing campaigns that include content marketing (blogs, podcasting, videos), Google analytics, and social media.

For years, web development companies have promised their clients better Google ranking with SEO tricks and schemes, but now the search engines have made it clear quality counts, not technology workarounds. Instead, marketers, writers, and publicists are drawing visitors to sites with consistent, optimized content, daily social media engagement, and inbound links from cross-marketing relationships, social influencers, and media coverage.

But please don’t disregard many of the helpful tools and resources available online, many for free, from SEO experts and software companies. We aren’t against a little help from the tech gurus. Together, the SEO community, marketers and publicists are helping their clients to share the most valuable and relevant content to attract site visitors and better rank results.

Here are a few of inBLOOM’s favorite SEO resources and tools:

Yoast WordPress SEO plugin

Yoast WordPress SEO plugin is the most complete SEO plugin available for WordPress. It offers everything you need to optimize your site. You can easily optimize your site’s titles and descriptions for Google and learn how to write better content with the built-in content analysis function.

Google Analytics

The SEO reports in Analytics provide Google Web Search performance data about the website that you have set up using Webmaster Tools. You can use this data to identify opportunities and prioritize efforts to increase the amount of traffic to your site. The Search Engine Optimization reports in Analytics use four metrics specific to Google Web Search data: impressions, clicks, average position and CTR (clickthrough rate).

KeywordSpy

Through this keyword tool and keyword software, you can perform advanced keyword research and keyword tracking to study what your competitors have been advertising in their adwords campaigns and other PPC campaigns. You can now get complete in-depth analysis, stats, budget, affiliates and ad copies of your competitors.

If you’re still finding it hard to fall in love with SEO, here are eight reasons why you need to work on the relationship:

  1. Businesses that focus on SEO without having a strong content plan in place will fail and will need to shift their focus to the creation and distribution of high-quality content in order to achieve significant search engine visibility.
  2. Search rankings will increasingly become more about building relationships and less about technical strategies. Businesses realize that focusing on merely creating content and optimizing its technical components for SEO just aren’t enough to achieve their goals. Businesses that humanize their brand are the ones who are standing out.
  3. High search rankings linked to blogger outreach campaigns, building relationships with brand advocates, reaching out to influencers and engaging on social media.
  4. Negative SEO will be a bigger threat than ever. Negative SEO is when dubious people build thousands of spammy links pointed at a competitors’ website with the intent of causing their search rankings to plummet.
  5. Inbound links are the most influential signal of trust and authority. This isn’t going to change — not in 2015 or anytime soon. The days of building links on irrelevant blogs and chasing large quantities of links to game the search results are over. Earning a single link on a high-quality relevant website is valuable for multiple reasons including SEO, attracting referral traffic, leads, sales and branding exposure. Look for traditional PR and SEO to work closer together in 2015.
  6. Studies suggest that the top organic and paid spots in the Google search results get about twice as many clicks as the second spots.
  7. Google Analytics is used by somewhere between 10 million and 25 million websites worldwide, and various surveys suggest over 50 percent of business websites (both large and small) use Google Analytics.
  8. Social media practices that boost SEO include growing your number of followers, encouraging external inbound links, optimizing your posts for searches, influencing social sharing, locally-optimized posts, and increasing brand awareness.

If you would like assistance running marketing and pr campaigns, contact us.

Resources:

The Top 7 SEO Trends That Will Dominate 2015 by Jayson DeMers, Forbe

20 Google Facts & Stats that Every Marketer Should Know by Andrew Garberson, LunaMetrics

6 Changes Your 2015 SEO Strategy Must Focus On by Jonathan Long, Entrepreneur

photo by Viktor Hanacek 

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4 Ways to Get Better Results with Email

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What makes us read one email and dump another? Is it possible to get better results with a few simple changes to your email? Yes and the new year is your perfect opportunity to get the opens and clicks you need to build your business and nurture those customer relationships.

Recent data shows that email continues to play a big role in our lives despite social media advances. We get our news and learn about the events and products that enhance our lives by email. It’s also a lifeline for work, alerting us to new projects, client or customer needs, and the conversations that are essential to courting and working with clients and colleagues.

If you’re using a marketing tool like Constant Contact to send and track your email, you’ll find these tips helpful to get better results:

1. Target Your Message

Before you even begin writing and designing your email, think about the message you’re trying to get across. What is your goal for sending the email? Are you trying to get more views on your blog post? If you’re holding an event, are you trying to generate more ticket sales? Maybe you’re simply creating buzz for your business or updating folks on recent news. Once you determine your goal, targeting your message will be a lot easier.

You may want to target specific audiences by sending separate emails to segmented lists. For instance, you could create two promotional emails with slightly different messages for lists of regular customers and new customers.

In Constant Contact, you can check the email stats to see how many people in each segmented list opened your emails. If one list did better than others, consider changing your wording or design and try again in the next round for that specific group that didn’t do so well.

 2. Create a Compelling, Attractive Design

In Constant Contact, you can choose among a variety of attractive templates. Whether it be a newsletter, announcement, promotion, survey or event registration, Constant Contact has got you covered. Get tips and tools on using the Constant Contact Toolkit for events and registration.

But even though these templates handle the layout, you still need to be creative when choosing the right font, color scheme, images, header, and footer.  The ideal size for a header image is 600 pixels wide and no more than 200 pixels tall. We recommend your header include your logo with your company tagline and services. It’s a good idea to hyperlink your website with your header. For example, here is inBLOOM’s header.

 

image001

 

Even if you use different templates, keep a consistent look with your company’s emails. Stick with the same font, color scheme, header, and footer. That way, you’ll establish a consistent look for your email marketing campaigns – people will know it’s from you just by looking at the design.

As visual creatures, we know the importance of images, but try not to overload your email with too many – one might be plenty. Stick with high-resolution photos that have something to do with your message. If you must use a stock photo, choose one that’s not so boring.

Avoid creating image-only emails, as delivery problems, often occur. However, there are templates in Constant Contact you could use to send emails that focus on an image.

 3. Use Enticing Subject Lines

The subject of your email is a major factor in whether or not it will be opened, trashed or marked as spam. Similar to a blog post or news article, the headline needs to be good or else it’s less likely to be read. So the million dollar question is: how do you write an enticing subject line that will get the recipient to open your email?

The length of your subject line matters – keep it short, simple and descriptive. We recommend no more than 5-8 words or 40 characters. Many email providers will cut off subject lines with greater than 60 characters.

Here’s an email from The New York Times that captured my attention right away!

 

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Most importantly, the subject line should draw the recipient’s attention and spark their curiosity. Will they benefit from opening the email? Does it interest them? Is it relevant to their life in some way? Even ask yourself, would I open this email I was them? Add value before the email is even opened with a specific, personalized subject line.

Sadly, your audience won’t see your email if it ends up in the dreaded spam folder. To avoid this nightmare, stay away from spam-like characteristics in your subject line. Common characteristics include phrases like be amazed, your income, subject to credit approval; writing in all caps; excessive use of punctuation marks like!!! or ???; and excessive symbols like $$$.

Tip: Use Constant Contact’s Spam Checker while previewing your email. The Spam Checker is a content-filtering tool that can help increase email delivery rates before you actually send to your contacts. It uses a mix of Constant Contact and SpamAssasin content-matching rules to assess the spam potential in the body, header (including subject line), and footer of your email and has no relation to spam complaints that may be reported when your email is received.

4. Write Words that Work

Research reveals how a single word makes all the difference. Write in everyday language that resonates with your audience. The words, which you use in your subject lines, headers, calls-to-action and body copy, can change your email’s meaning, mood, and motivation.

Check out Buffer’s Big List of 189 Words That Convert: Write Copy That Gets Your Customer’s Attention Every Time for more on the power of words.

In the book, “Words that Work: It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear”, Frank Luntz reveals that 80 percent of our life is emotion, and only 20 percent is intellect. Luntz frequently tests word and phrase choices using focus groups and interviews to learn the words people use. Referencing Orwell’s “Essay On Language”, he adds it’s important as to write with absolute clarity, to be succinct, to explain what the event is, to talk about what triggers something happening, and to do so without any disapproval. In summary, write for your people and in their words to guarantee they open your email.

To get started sending emails that get better results, you can start by signing up for a free trial of Constant Contact. Have questions along the way, comment on this blog and we’ll be in touch.

photo: Viktor Hanacek, PicJumbo

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3 Ways to Tell Your Story on Social Media

3 Ways to Tell Your Story on Social Media

In this digital age, it’s nearly impossible to miss local, national and world news in real-time. No matter where you are or what you’re doing chances are you most likely have breaking news in the palm of your hand via your smartphone. In fact, 30% of American adults get their news from Facebook, according to the Pew Research Center.

Surely your heartstrings (and attention) have been tugged by all those feel good people and pet stories in your News Feeds. If you dig deep enough, you’ll discover similar stories within your own business or nonprofit. It’s just a matter of being open to listening and discovering the human-interest and news pieces that attract today’s busy editors, reporters, and producers.

After you write your story and take some high-quality images and possibly some video, you’re ready to post and share your news on social. Review these three ways to tell your story on social media:

1. Tweet to meet and engage media sources.

In addition to emailing a release, engage in dialog on social media to build your media network. According to ING’s 2014 Social Media Impact survey, 57% of journalists consider social media to be ideal for contacting PR professionals and vice versa. Use social media to build relationships with journalists and bloggers to gain a better understanding of what they write about, when they need resources, and how they prefer to work with you.

According to a 2014 report from the Indiana University School of Journalism, 40% of journalists said social media networks are very important to their work. Over a third said they spent between 30 and 60 minutes each day on social networking sites. Twitter was the most popular type of social media used by journalists, and over half of those surveyed said they regularly use the platform for gathering information and reporting stories.

Use your website blog as a home for your story, images and video to live and use a tool like Hashtags.org to incorporate trending hashtags into your tweets for greater visibility.

2. Be in the know about Facebook’s new tools for media publishers.

Facebook recently introduced new and exciting ways for news accounts to target posts, remove posts that are no longer relevant and identify popular links that they haven’t shared. One widely anticipated and requested change is Facebook’s Smart Publishing tool, which identifies and publishes stories that are popular with people on Facebook. Once the setting is enabled, frequently shared links will appear more in the News Feed for people who like a publisher’s Page. Make sure to like news sites covering your industry and region to get a sense of the news stories being shared on their sites and thus popping up more in your News Feed.

Once you understand and follow how the media will be using the new tools, you can deliver producers and editors the type of content that’s being shared on social media. Facebook will regularly share announcements and tips on its News Feed FYI.

It’s wise to learn firsthand from Facebook and its content creators what’s trending in the news. Your research will give you a better chance of securing media coverage when pitching a story.

3 Ways to Tell Your Story on Social Media

3. Proofread your social media story teasers.

Make sure to proofread your tweets and posts for accuracy and working links. Check the spelling of key names (brands, people, etc.) as well as contact information. Editors may use your release or blog post for the facts and as a potential resource for larger features. If you spell a name two ways or a phone number is wrong by one digit, this will frustrate the contact who has to get ahold of you to double check.

Here’s an example of a tweet with a typo from Grub Street, a blog about the New York City restaurant scene from New York magazine.  Their fans were pretty accepting of the typo and appreciated the afternoon chuckle. I’m sure the editors, however, were pretty crabby about the error ;).

3 Ways to Tell Your Story on Social Media

Start engaging with the media on social and best of luck on your PR efforts in the New Year.

Have any questions, please feel free to comment on this blog or contact us. Subscribe to inBLOOM’s blog alerts, and you’ll get Social Media Marketing and Public Relations tips for success emailed to you weekly.
 

Resources:

Pew Research Center: How Social Media is Reshaping News

ING 2014 Study impact of Social Media on News: more crowd-checking, less fact-checking

 The American Journalist in the Digital Age:  Key Findings from Indiana University.

 photo: picjumbo

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5 Steps To Take When Responding to Negative Reviews

5 Steps To Take When Responding to Negative Reviews

It’s inevitable, your business may be new or maybe it’s been around for years, but it will happen – eventually someone will take to the Internet and type those haunting words about their bad experience that you just can’t shake from your thoughts (or review sites).

It may be that they didn’t get a warm greeting at the door or maybe a dish wasn’t served to their expectations? No business (or customer) is perfect, so breathe a sigh of relief and cut yourself a break. As long as reviews matter to you, you’ll be armed with the right strategy to handle them and do the right thing.

Safeguarding your reputation by being on top of customer complaints before they rear their ugly head on Yelp, Facebook and Google should be a priority for your business.

There are many companies offering their reputation management services to cure your bad review woes. Be sure to do your research before entering into one of these relationships. Many of the times, these companies will attempt to clog the Internet with new directory listings, blogs and press releases that bring little value to your business. Although blogging and sharing stories with the media are excellent ways to boost your reputation and Google ranking, the work needs to be done strategically and authentically, not via a mechanical process of pushing out random keywords and fuzzy content.

There is great value in paying attention to these reviews and comments, and as a publicist, I always recommend responding. They may even help you to make changes within your business that address core issues you already knew you needed to handle.

A little goodwill goes a long way. According to a recent Harris Interactive survey, of the customers who received a response from a company after posting negative feedback, 33% turned around and posted a positive review of the brand, and 34% deleted the original negative review.

For business owners who are dealing with negative reviews right now, let’s review a few steps you can take to respond appropriately and lift your spirits just in time for the New Year.

5 Steps To Take When Responding to Negative Reviews

1. Regroup.

Before typing away, you’ll first need to meet with employees to discuss the complaint, hear from the key staff involved in the incident, and draft a response that takes the reviewer’s concerns / complaints into account.

2. Respond.

Address the complaint politely and with facts. Keep it short and sweet as people can become overwhelmed by a long response. Have a few proclaimed editors in your life review your response for grammar, punctuation and tone before posting.

3. Reach out.

If possible, attempt to contact the reviewer by email or phone if you have their information and offer them a reimbursement or ask about how else you could rectify the situation. They may even be appreciative enough to remove the negative review.

4. Rally.

If a review is completely false, you should try and resolve the issue through private messaging first. If you feel a public comment is necessary, present your case as simply and politely as possible, and do not attack the reviewer under any circumstances. Remember that potential customers will be reading your comment and you want to leave them with a positive impression of your business.

5. Reward.

You can also thank the people who left positive reviews. A simple “thank you” and “we look forward to having you back again soon” will suffice. Many review sites advise against telling a reviewer that you have a gift for them as a way to acknowledge their kindness. Note, however, what you do offline is your own prerogative and will be surely appreciated by your loyal customers.

On the flip side, asking your customers to leave reviews is good practice as well. Sometimes a simple ask is all it takes to motivate a loyal customer to take action. Just don’t run after them with your laptop asking for the review on the spot. You will come off as aggressive and desperate.

If you think you don’t have the time to respond to reviews, here’s a stat that may motivate you to find the time:

5 Steps To Take When Responding to Negative ReviewsGraphic: Help Scout

Now let’s review how to respond to negative reviews on Yelp and Facebook:

Responding to negative reviews on Yelp

Responding to reviews is a great way to learn from and build goodwill with one of your most vocal customers. Yelp allows businesses to respond publicly and privately to user reviews. Yelp recommends keeping your message simple: thank the reviewer for the business and the feedback. If you can be specific about the customer’s experience and any changes you may have made as a result, this could go very far in earning trust. Public comments are a way for business owners to add a helpful comment to a user’s review.

Responding to reviewers’ concerns shows that you value their feedback, you’re always striving to improve, and that you are hands-on in the daily operations of your business.

Note: Yelp requires business account users to upload a real photo before messaging customers in order to make the message personal. Photos should clearly show your face (no sunglasses please) and not include too many people.

Go to the “Reviews” tab after logging into your business account. From there you’ll be able to add a public comment to any review of your business. Your comment will appear directly following the review that you’ve commented on.

Responding to negative reviews on Facebook

You can report reviews that don’t follow the Facebook Community Standards or focus on the product or service offered by your business. Facebook will review your report and may remove reviews that don’t follow the guidelines. You cannot delete a rating or review from your Page. You can like and comment on reviews on your Page. To like a review, go to the review and click Like and leave a comment. The reviews that show on a Page may be different depending on who is viewing the Page. The order is based on a number of factors, such as when a review was posted, how much engagement it received, and whether someone visiting the Page is friends with someone who wrote a review.

A Page’s star rating is the average of all public star ratings that the Page has received. Keep in mind that when someone posts a rating, they can select an audience. For example, if they post a star rating and select Friends as the audience, only their friends can see their rating. Only star ratings that are shared publicly are included in a Page’s overall rating. To see the breakdown of a Page’s star ratings, go to the Page and hover over the stars.

Facebook recommends you handle negative reviews by responding privately and immediately. Handle negative ratings with compassion and brand integrity, no matter how upsetting the situation might be. Respond publicly after every attempt has been made to clarify the issue and resolve the customer complaint. Make a public response in the form of a comment on the star rating.

Subscribe to inBLOOM’s blog alerts and you’ll get Social Media Marketing and Public Relations tips for success emailed to you weekly. And if this post helped you, please consider leaving us a great review on our Facebook Page. Wink. Wink.

Cover photo: Robyn Lee

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