printed letters are humbug! or are they…?

Surprisingly, the majority of consumers do not think printed letters are humbug!

“From letterbox to Inbox 2013 – has revealed that 90% of consumers say they ‘could not imagine living without a letterbox’, compared to 94% who said they could not live without home internet access and 86% who could not live without a mobile.”

According to the post onepost.com shared on their blog.

 

The research was sponsored by HP and carried out by Direct Marketing Association and fast.MAP. An encouraging statistic, for marketers, that came out of the survey was that 79% of consumers immediately take action on direct mail they have received.

Plus, 56% of those asked said they trusted printed marketing more than digital marketing messages.

So, a well written letter*, sent to a targeted audience with a relevant offer still has an important place in a business marketing strategy.

Thinking about it… that probably explains why Google use direct mail to promote their Adwords service, have you received one of their discount cards?

You can read more about the study and results in ’90% say that they ‘could not imagine living without a letterbox’’

* If you find it difficult to write a persuasive letter I’d be happy to help. Use my copywriting enquiry form to arrange a friendly, no-obligation chat.

~ Carol Bentley

 

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are Gmail tabs impacting your email open rates?

Emails are still an important communication method for many businesses and marketing people – think about it – social websites use email to notify subscribers of posts and updates so emails are not obsolete yet!

When Gmail announced earlier this year that they were implementing tabs to organise our incoming emails, many online marketing folk predicted problems with promotional and notification emails being diverted to the promotions tab and not being seen and opened.

So – what impact has the new Gmail tabs structure had?

Maybe not as much as feared, especially when you consider that the tabbed structure has no impact on the 77% of emails that are read on desktops or mobiles.

The article Gmail’s Tabbed Inbox: The Good News & The Bad News by Tom Sather (Return Path’s senior director of email research) gives more insights to Gmail’s tabbed inbox and is worth reading if you are unsure of what, if any, impact it has on your email marketing efforts.

You can also get some tips, on how to increase the chances of your marketing messages getting seen, in Ashley Kemper’s article What The New Gmail Inbox Means For Your Email Campaign (Ashley is Marketing Manager at Blue Fountain Media)

And finally, you can educate your subscribers on how to organise their Gmail Inbox tabs to increase the likelihood of your messages reaching their Primary tab: Gmail Inbox Tabs

~Carol Bentley

 

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email marketing fairy tales..

Tell me a story…

Fairy tales are traditionally used to teach, as well as entertain children. We all like stories, don’t we? And, if there is a lesson to be learnt in the tale… well that’s a good thing.

These variations of familiar fairy tales cleverly give us some great email marketing lessons… so enjoy the stories and discover some  marketing gold nuggets from our friends at Aweber… (and whilst you read, have a think about a story you could share about your business – there’s a valuable prize for the best tale told).

Email Marketing Fairytales

Once upon a time, there was an email marketer who knew he could do more. He had a sign up form on his website and a great-looking email template designed. He sent out a monthly newsletter to his entire email list, and even had a couple of follow up messages created. But his list just wasn’t growing as quickly as he wanted. And he wasn’t making any sales. He knew he had the basics down but thought to himself, “If only I knew how I could do better!”

Just before Halloween, he found a dusty old book of email marketing fairy tales on the very last bookshelf of the very last room of his local library. He took it home and carefully read each story as they contained important morals to be learned…

Goldilocks And The Three Emails

Goldilocks enjoyed shopping online, especially for gifts. With her mother’s birthday coming up, she set out to find the perfect handmade sweater her mother would love.

Goldilocks visited three websites and didn’t purchase anything, but she did sign up for emails from each site and hoped she’d be notified when new sweaters were made. The very next day, three messages were waiting in her inbox…

Click to enjoy the rest of this tale and two more…

This is an entertaining and memorable way of delivering important messages about your business… so what fairy tale can you write about your business?

Pop yours into the comment box below and I’ll give a valuable surprise prize to the best tale told before December 18th 2013.

~Carol Bentley

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why read this now?

An article or blog post has caught your attention, you want to read it but you are short of time. So what do you do?

You can bookmark the page to go back to later (if you remember).

You can print the page to keep for reading when you have time – not the most environmentally friendly way and sometimes the printed result is not formatted in a reader-friendly way.

How about sending it to your Kindle reader?

Amazon have released the Send to Kindle button  You can get the button for your blog or website.

Send to Kindle

I’ve installed it on this blog so it appears above every new post I add from now on.

Now when you see a post you want to read, but don’t have time, or find a post you would like to keep for reference you can simply hit the Send to Kindle button and it is sent to your Kindle/ Kindle App for you to read at a more convenient time.

You don’t need a Kindle to use this service, you can get a free Kindle App for your smartphone, computer, tablet or even have a Kindle Cloud Reader.

However, you do need a Kindle account to use this service, so it’s definitely worth spending a bit of time signing up, especially when you consider the time you’ll save in the future and the fact you can use the Kindle button to collect articles and posts to build your own copywriting / business tips reference library.

~Carol Bentley

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Organisational Tips for Writers and Bloggers

If you follow this blog, then you’ll know that I’m not exactly regular with my posts. When I get busy with client projects this blog tends to take a back seat! Fortunately I am far more organised when working on other writing projects!

Even so, maybe my blogging activities would benefit if I follow some of the advice offered in this guest post from Megan Totka!

Organisational Tips for Writers and Bloggers

There are so many different organisational styles when it comes to, well, being human! Are you uber-organised, everything has its place, can’t sleep if dishes are in the sink?

Or are you the opposite, a disorganised mess?

Perhaps you fall somewhere in between, as I suspect most of us do. While being disorganised in your personal life doesn’t necessarily have consequences, being disorganised when it comes to your writing or blogging can.

Organising your ideas, writing schedule, and editorial elements can sometimes be tough. If you are a business blogger or writer, keeping on top of a schedule is particularly important. But even those who write independently could benefit from some organisational tips.

Here are a few ideas to keep you organised:

  1. Keep track of the time you spend writing – I am definitely guilty of over or under estimating the time it takes me to complete a writing project. If you know how long it actually takes you do a task (like write a blog post) then you can allocate your time better. I often tell myself that it just takes a certain amount of time to write a good post, when in reality the research, linking, and editing can often double that time span.
  2. Design a note-taking system – this is a piece of advice I could certainly use myself.
    Ever been struck by ideas for a blog post when you’re out and about? How about when killing time surfing the web at home? Consider implementing a note-taking system that helps you to keep track of these ideas. You can use a cloud-based storage system to make yourself a file that you can access from any device. Or, you could simply carry around a notebook. Just depends on what works best for you.
  3. Get your workspace ready to work – writers often work in unconventional places. You might like to write at your desk, from your couch, or on the Wi-Fi network at Starbucks. Wherever you like to work, take the time to make it peaceful and organised. Even if this means loading your laptop bag with everything you’ll need to work on the go.
  4. Put things where you can find them – those of us who are writers are often “the creative type,” meaning that maybe we don’t think like a lot of other people when it comes to organisation. In this case, take the time to put things where you would find them, not necessarily where you think they should go. This can help you to find what you’re looking for in a hurry, whether it is something digital or an actual object.

Follow these tips and you’ll be on your way to making the most of your blog.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.

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Better Business Cards: Put a Modern Spin on an Old Standby

If you’ve explored this blog you will have come across these two posts: A Practical Approach To Business Cards, giving tips on design and content, and Another View in which I talk about the impression your card gives.

In today’s post Marshall Jones answers the question “Business cards? Why bother?”

Over to you Marshall…

You’ve got a website. You’ve got a Facebook page. Why in the world do you still need business cards?

Imagine this: You’re at a professional networking event or a business trade show. You’ve met someone you’d like to keep in touch with, someone with great ideas who wants to do business with you. She asks for your card.

“Search for me on LinkedIn.” is not the correct response. Likewise, “I’m on Facebook.” doesn’t pack quite the same punch as a good-looking business card.

Just because the business world has entered the digital age does not mean you can forgo all the offline office protocols and marketing collateral. A business card is a tangible reminder of you and your company. It sparks memories of a real-world encounter. It speaks for you when you aren’t there. It’s something people can hold and see, even when they’re out of their coverage area or their iPhone isn’t charged.

So get some cards. Rely on an old standby. But don’t be afraid to give it a spin of your own. Personalize and update your business cards, and you’ll stand out from the crowd.

  • Let your colours fly. People tend to hold on to colourful business cards because colourful designs catch people’s attention. So why skimp on printing costs?
  • Heavier and better paper will give your cards a more professional feel. The good news is it doesn’t have to kick up the price. In 2012, Vistaprint started offering 40 percent heavier business cards (110 lb. paper stock) at no additional cost. Heavier cards make you look like a heavyweight in your business dealings.
  • If you use both a landline and a cell phone for business, think about leaving your mobile number off your business cards. When you hand someone your card, you can say “You might have better luck reaching me on my cell.” Then write your cell number on the card before you hand it to them. This is a great way to make the recipient feel like they’re getting personal attention and access to your direct line. It’s a little psychological trick that makes your card a little more valuable.
  • If you are the business owner, and you don’t have a large company with multiple divisions, it might be a good idea to omit your title. “CEO” doesn’t mean much if your business is a one-person start-up. You’re probably also the marketing manager, the accountant, and the janitor.
  • If your business is entirely online, or if you provide a service that doesn’t require a brick-and-mortar location, there’s no need for a physical address on your cards. Your name, your business name, your email address and your phone number will suffice. Add your Twitter handle or your business website address—they’re important. Resist the temptation to cram tons of information into the small space. If you do, it’ll just result in an ugly mess.
  • A quick response (QR) code on your business card can direct whoever scans it to your website, to a promotional offer, or to just about anywhere else in the digital realm. QR codes can take up a lot of space on your card, so if you can’t find a creative or visually interesting way to incorporate them, think about leaving them off.*
  • Holographic prints on a clear business card are popular in 2013, as are lenticular images, which are printed on a special material that gives the image the illusion of movement. Time will tell if these attention-getters are passé in the coming years. If you’re considering a business card gimmick, make sure it’s cutting edge and not behind the curve.

The trusty Rolodex isn’t as ubiquitous as it once was. Sadly, many people in the business world don’t take the time to organize and store business cards they receive. They should!

If you don’t want to deal with it, smartphone technology offers you a workaround. A variety of apps let you photograph your card, then save the info into your phone and set the picture as the contact’s photo. Voila—a Rolodex that fits in your pocket.

The ways we network and conduct business have evolved. Still, many of the most important professional tools are the ones that have been around for a long time. Business cards still have the power to leave an impression. We can control whether that impression is good or bad. So be creative. Be bold. Set yourself apart with a modern spin, and you’ll get ahead with your business networking.

Marshall Jones is a content marketer and journalist specialising in marketing, technology and business writing. He works in Austin, TX. Marshall lives with his wife and former shelter dogs, one of whom is missing a leg (a dog, not the wife).

He enjoys hiking, classic cinema, live music and travelling. He has written, proofread and edited for print publications such as The Houston Chronicle, The Chicago Tribune, Austin Monthly and The Austin Business Journal.

He currently writes blogs, press releases, success stories, eBooks, white papers and more for high-tech and online education clients, and is a contributor to ChamberofCommerce.com.

Thank you for your insights, Marshall.

* Just a thought… if you like the idea of having a QR code on your card, but don’t want to clutter the front, place it on the back. Add an invitation to scan it along with a good reason for doing so. (read more about QR Codes here).

~ Carol

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testimonials: are they working for or against you?

Your customer testimonials are one way to boost your business credibility.

We all know a good testimonial can work wonders for our business reputation and encourage prospects to buy.

But our customers are busy and, unless asked, will rarely think to give us a testimonial (unsolicited ones are the best).

So we ask. They say “yes, OK” and then we hit another problem because customers rarely know how to write a testimonial that does a great job for you – and a badly worded testimonial can actually be damaging.

In a presentation to members of THE Hub, I recommended having a more formal way of collecting testimonials. As soon as you’ve delivered your product or service and your customer is happy with the results, that is the time to ask.

But when you do ask,  make it easy for them to write a testimonial that you can use by giving them a structure to follow; questions to answer.

In the presentation I shared 5 questions you can ask to help your customers give a powerful testimonial.

I think the most valuable tip I shared though, is to take the best testimonials and turn them into descriptive case-studies that can enhance your business image.

Here are the slides from the presentation:

Testimonials to case studies from Promote Your Business Ltd
If you’d like to take a closer look at the case study shown in the slide you can download it here: GB Tours Case Study
Do you have a formal system for collecting testimonials? If so, what do you do?
~ Carol Bentley
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