Monthly Archives: December 2017

Email Marketing Contact Lis

Developing a successful email marketing strategy starts with building a proper contact list.

“Contact lists are the foundation for successful email marketing because they’re more than simply names on a sheet,” Dave McCann, vice president of customer success for Constant Contact, told Business News Daily. “They allow you to keep track of, and engage, your customers instead of wasting time marketing to the masses.”

Quality over quantity
While you might be tempted to focus on building the biggest list possible, SEO and email marketing expert Brian Dean said it is more important to focus on quality over quantity. You want your list to be filled with people who have an interest in your business.

“You can have the best newsletters and the best offers, but if your contact list isn’t a good fit your emails are likely to fall flat,” Dean said.

The key to building a solid contact list is to first engage customers one-on-one online or in-person, McCann said. Then, based on the customer’s positive experience with your business, ask permission to continue the conversation through email. [See Related Story: Best Email Marketing Software for Small Businesses]

“As you add customers to your contact list and engage them, make note of their interests and recent purchases,” McCann said. “This way, you can present them with tailored content and offers that will keep them coming back and looking forward to hearing from you.”

To help small business owners, McCann offers a number of tips to building an email contact list:

Put a sign-up sheet near your checkout.
Ask in person, if possible, especially after a customer has a positive experience. As you ask, reiterate the benefits of subscribing, such as insider deals and exclusive content.
Insert a link in your email signature and social media bios so customers can automatically subscribe. Avoid forcing customers to fill out long forms and questionnaires.
Include back issues of your newsletter on your website so customers can see your content.
Add a sign up form on your Facebook page.
Create a “reasons to sign up page,” featuring feedback from customers and post it on your website or next to the sign-up sheet.
Optimize your online listings on sites including Yelp with a link to subscribe.
Include a text-to-join feature so people can easily sign up through their smartphone.
Add a QR code to a flyer, business card, brochure or post so people can scan-to-join your email list.
Dean encouraged small businesses to make sure their sign-up forms are on several places on their website.

“Many small businesses place a single form buried in their page’s footer,” Dean said. “From lots of testing, I’ve found that more forms equal more subscribers.”

In addition, it never hurts to entice potential subscribers with something valuable. Dean advises small businesses to create something that will draw the attention of customers, like an eBook, report or case study that will make their subscription worthwhile.

Online Business Card

Are you trying to choose an online business card printing service for your business? We’re here to help you find the one that’s right for you. While some printing services are appropriate for larger businesses, we found four that we think are best for small business or freelancers’ needs.

Online business card printing
The best business card printing services for small businesses produce high-quality cards without requiring you to use special software or to have design skills. You should be able to create your new card design easily online, see high-resolution previews online, and receive your new cards in a timely manner. The best services also provide a wide variety of card stock choices, images, fonts, colors and card shapes.

Benefits of online business card printing services:

No design skills required
Low price options available
Wide variety of paper and templates
Quick print and delivery times
When you create your business cards, think about how you plan to use them. If you are using them for offering discounts or one-time opportunities, you can save money by choosing a low-priced option. If you plan on using them to give to contacts whom you wish to sell high-priced items to, you’ll want a card that is attractive and worth keeping that may cost a bit more. If you plan on using them to share your contact information with a lot of people at a convention or other large sales opportunity, you’ll benefit from a card that scans well with a business card scanner or even a near-field communication (NFC) card that can be scanned with a mobile phone.

How we evaluated online business card printing
Top Ten Reviews (TTR), a sister site of Business News Daily, has been testing online printing services for many years. We discussed business card printing with the reviewers who recently evaluated business card printing and online printing services. We were also able to access their sample prints from more than 10 printing companies to help decide which online card printers we thought would be best for small businesses.

After looking over Top Ten Reviews’ research notes, talking with the reviewers, evaluating the sample products and conducting our own research, we found the best three printing services for small businesses plus one well-known option, Vistaprint, that did not make it into our top three. These online services are simple to use, do not require image editing software and have quick print run times.

HubSpot Review

After conducting extensive research and analysis in 2017, we recommend HubSpot as the best marketing automation platform for small business. We chose HubSpot from a pool of the dozens of marketing automation solutions we considered. To understand how we selected our best picks, you can find our methodology and a comprehensive list of marketing automation software on our best picks page.

Why HubSpot?
HubSpot seamlessly unifies all your marketing channels and easily scales with your business. This makes HubSpot ideal for small, growing businesses – as you attract more customers, this software can simply grow along with you. HubSpot also eliminates the need for sophisticated IT or coding knowledge with its easy-to-navigate drag and drop user interface.
Features
HubSpot offers a healthy slate of features to make marketing automation easier. These features vary in availability depending on the pricing tier you choose. For a detailed breakdown on HubSpot’s plans, see the pricing section below.
Scalability
Scalability is what set HubSpot over the top for us. Its versatility as a marketing automation platform for the smallest businesses and growing startups through to enterprise level companies made it attractive even beyond its set of features.

For small businesses in particular, scalability is particularly useful. Transferring all the stored information about contacts and past behaviors and sales to a new system can be an arduous undertaking with a high risk of issues. In addition, retraining staff to use a new system takes manpower and diverts attention away from operations. HubSpot offers businesses continuity in their marketing automation platform so they don’t have to worry about these issues.

Pricing
HubSpot is significantly more affordable than many other market leaders, and incudes the benefit of long-term scalability for companies that may still balk at the price tag.
Customer Service
Our customer service experience with HubSpot was positive. After a brief holding period, we spoke with a representative who took a considerable amount of time to walk us through the finer points of marketing automation in general and HubSpot specific features. Upon explaining that we were just testing the waters, we didn’t feel pushed to make a purchase or that the representative lost interest in our conversation. Most, if not all, of our questions were adequately answered during the call.

All of HubSpot’s core plans offer phone, online and live chat technical support and customer service. Moreover, HubSpot hosts an online community forum, where users can ask and answer questions about basic platform operations and more advanced uses.

Limitations
There are some drawbacks to using HubSpot, but none so significant that it made the solution any less attractive. First and foremost, the high price tag might be prohibitive to some small companies. For those, we would suggest a solution like Zoho Campaigns, which is more affordable and even offers a free version. Still, HubSpot makes up for its high-end cost with high-end functionality. Like they say, “you get what you pay for.”

Marketing Automation Software

Marketing automation is a holistic process that joins email, websites and social media channels into a unified force. Beyond simply streamlining the day-to-day work of your marketing department, marketing automation software helps it work smarter with automated workflows based on user interaction with your content. In this way, marketing automation better targets interested parties, more effectively wielding your advertising dollars and stretching your budget further.

With the right selection, marketing automation software can help you attract new customers, cultivate old relationships and reduce waste in your marketing budget. Business News Daily can help you sort through the noise and make the decision that suits your team best.

Here is a roundup of our favorite marketing automation platforms of 2017. For a comprehensive look at how to choose a marketing automation solution, read our Buyer’s Guide for Marketing Automation Software.

Best Marketing Automation Software for Small Business: HubSpot
HubSpot stood out as the best marketing automation platform for small business with its scalability. Its features are comprehensive and useful, but what really sold us was HubSpot’s ability to seamlessly grow with a young company into a full enterprise system. While there is a bit of a learning curve to overcome and the initial price tag seems high, HubSpot delivers a quality marketing automation system that is easy to use and understand. Customer and technical support for the solution are helpful and highly accessible, and a healthy online community helps support one another with advice and discussion about the product itself and strategies that can be employed by using it. HubSpot will help your business grow more efficiently and eliminate the need to implement new systems and retrain staff.
Best Marketing Automation Software for Enterprises: Oracle Eloqua
Oracle’s marketing automation solution, Eloqua, is an advanced and comprehensive system that is highly effective for large companies that have the team to back it up. Eloqua excels at creating automated campaigns through its Campaign Canvas. Drag-and-drop functionality makes the process fun and straightforward; you drop an icon on the canvas and connect it to the next step in the workflow by dragging your mouse. Using Campaign Canvas is almost game-like and simplifies what can be a somewhat convoluted process.

Eloqua’s central dashboard is also a big plus, giving the user easy access to virtually any aspect of the marketing automation process in a single click. Tabs boasting every asset and lead, as well as shortcuts to different campaigns, accompany at-a-glance reports on the homepage, giving a bird’s-eye view of your ongoing marketing campaigns.