From Snail Mail to Email: Smart Local Businesses in Auburn, AL are Using Email to Grow Their Customer Base and Increase Profits.
Snail mail still works for short bursts of information such as political campaigns, and seasonal yard clean up. But for a better marketing strategy you need to build an email list for your business. You may have a number of questions. Where do you get the names to add to your email database? Are you promoting a sale, offering a discount? What is the purpose of your email list?
Email marketing done correctly can produce incredible results, done poorly and incorrectly, it is a waste of time and can be an annoyance to your customers. 50% of shoppers make a purchase because of an email they have received. That is an impressive figure, and a statistic you should pay attention to. If you do not have an email marketing method in place, it is time to jump in and hit send.
I need help with email marketing, why do I want to do this?
Almost 95% of the people online read and send emails. It is one of the most widely used forms of communication in use today. Email marketing done well can be used to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, age or gender. Rather than sending out untargeted emails and ending up in a junk box or worse, listed as spam, you can harvest email addresses directly from your customers. Email is almost instantaneous, and is local and global at the same time.
Here are a few reasons for using email for your local business as a way to communicate with your customers:
Drive customers to your storefront and online business
- If you have an online presence as well as a storefront, you can drive customers to your front door and your cyber door, by letting them know of limited offers, discount coupons, and upcoming sales events.
Sales events and coupons
- You can provide exclusive online offers to your customers when they provide their email address, increasing repeat business. Do you have a flavor or widget of the week you would like to offer? You can send an email offer that is good to the first 500 customers, or an invitation to an exclusive pre-event. One day only offers can be sent the day before, without getting lost in the mail a week in advance.
- Do you want to send newsletters that provide valuable information or helpful hints and tips? Do you have seasonal ideas? For instance, in the HVAC business it may be time for a furnace inspection or cleaning. You could send a reminder to change their filters regularly to keep them running efficiently. Or what types of filters work better than others, and the importance of keeping air ducts clean and clear.
- The more positive interactions you have with your customers, the more loyal they will be to your product or service.
How do I build an email list for my business?
You do not want to send out mass email campaigns to random addresses. It will not matter how terrific your email looks or how fabulous your offer is, if it is classified as spam and ends up in the trash before it gets to your targeted inboxes. You need to gather email addresses specific to your client base.
Everyone likes free or discounted offers. If you give them a promise in exchange for their email address, your potential customers are more likely to sign up and you will get the best email marketing results.
Try some of these tested strategies to gather email addresses for your local business:
Clipboard sign up
- Many companies start gathering addresses at their front counter. With a simple clipboard sign-up sheet, you can offer customers a discount on their next purchase for giving you their email address.
- If a customer refers a friend to your company and they provide you with their email address, you can offer a discount to each of them..
Web site pop-ups
- We have all seen them. You search for a website, and before you can get onto it, you need to give your email address. People do use them.
Web site sign up options with a promise attached
- If someone is visiting your website, they are a potential client. If you offer a discount coupon in exchange for their email address, your customers will sign up.
How does email marketing for local business work, if my business is not nation-wide or global?
Email marketing is perfect for a local business. A small bakery can offer Muffin Monday specials, or Tuesday Tarts, cafe's and restaurants might offer late after-the-game dinner specials. With email, you can reach out to your customers within minutes. No more wondering how the weekend or upcoming holidays will affect your snail mail coupons.
- You could send out specials once a day, once a week or once a month that are offered exclusively online.
Community Event based offers
- Homecoming, Football games, local festivals or art shows, or the change of seasons may create an opportunity to draw business. With an email campaign you not only provide your local patrons with terrific offers, you also display community spirit.
Every local business should be building their customer email database. Growing your business is not only beneficial for you, the business owner, but it is also good for your community. Listen to your customers, what are they saying? Use their conversations for email content ideas. If you hear the same questions every day, send out an informational email about that topic. With clear objectives, and a targeted audience, you can grow your company using email marketing.
Contact Tim Chambliss at Modern Media Consulting in Auburn for ideas, tips and tricks to grow your profits through local email marketing.
You're a small business owner. You've got a great product or service. You've built what you think is a great website. You've read some articles on how to get your site ranked in the search engines. You wait, and then wait some more and still, your site is nowhere to be found. You know your product or service is better than your competitor on the other side of town, yet he shows up for all the search terms you think your site should be ranking for.
You've got a decision to make. Do you do some more research and try and figure out how you can get your site to rank? Sure, that's one approach, but think about how much money you're losing with each passing day while your competitor is bringing in new customers by the hour. You could spend weeks or months learning how to "do" search engine optimization - losing valuable time you could be spending with customers and clients at your business.
Search engines are using geo-targeting to display the most relevant results. They know where the person doing the search is located and return results specific to that location. You've seen those results. How many listings with Google maps do you see when you do a local search in Auburn AL? You see a lot and it's imperative that YOUR business move up in the search results for your category of local business. This is even more important now that Google focuses extensively on mobile searches.
There are many ways a true SEO professional can help your business. I can assure you that the ones ranking high in Google have been around for a long time OR have made a specific plan to grow their business through search engine optimization. Many businesses build a website and a presence online but fail to follow through with a consistent plan for local online search. The small percentage that do grow their online presence are typically those who have hired professionals who understand exactly what it takes to rank well.
Consider this: most advice you see online that is designed to help you get your site to rank well is outdated. Google is constantly changing their ranking algorithm, and unless you understand these changes you are probably going struggle and become frustrated. Our goal is to help your business succeed by ranking high in the local search results for your community. It doesn't happen overnight and anyone who tesll you it is is up to no good.
You have probably seen the term SEO quite a bit in your research. While you may know what this abbreviation stands for, you’d be surprised how many business owners don't. SEO stands for search engine optimization. If you're in need of local SEO in Auburn-Opelika, AL, we have the experience and expertise to get your business in a position to succeed. It's far more involved than just getting your business to rank well in Google. It's about maintaining those rankings over the long haul. There are a lot of SEO companies who will make all kinds of claims stating how they can get your site ranked quickly, but that's only the beginning. What matters is keeping your site at the top for the long haul with relevant content and offers that drive local business to your doors. Modern Media Consulting can help you get there.
The choice is very simple; you can keep spending a lot of your time trying to figure out why you're not doing well in Google, or you can let professionals take charge, which frees you up to do what you do best - which is running your business. Far too often when a business is struggling to get good rankings in the search engines, their regular business also falters because critical time is diverted away from your primary mission of building and growing your business and wasted time trying to figure out the ranking algorithm of Google. When you think about it, is the choice really all that difficult?
Contact Tim Chambliss for a local search analysis of your business. We'll give you straight answers about getting to the top.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an increasingly complex and technical subject. For the small business owner, you just want your site to show up first in the search results (and, a shameless plug, that's what Modern Media Consulting can help you do). Every year, it seems that more and more math, physics and voo doo are required to move a site to the top of the search results. Frustrating, I know.
Well, our friends at Searchmetrics have spent an enormous amount of time and resources looking closely at the 30 top search results for 10,000 keywords - resulting in an in-depth look at 300,000 website URLs. Their results are shown below in a very nifty infographic.
If you're "in the biz" you'll understand all of this. If you're simply a local business owner looking for answers, we'll need to talk. This stuff will make your head explode.
If you're like me and, well, everyone , you have at least one Gmail account. I know that some of you use Gmail as your primary email provider - and with good reason. Google provides a very powerful email solution with quality junk filtering and lots of storage for an excellent price - FREE.
You may have opened your account recently and noticed something different: tabs at the top of your page!
Naturally, our good friends at Mashable have provided and excellent tutorial on the new tabs. You can click here to check out this story. Well worth the read if you use Gmail on a regular basis.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I receive a bazillion jillion "offer" emails every day that fit perfectly into the "Promotions" tab. Most all of these emails can be considered junk so, guess what? No filtering through my entire inbox to find the emails trying to sell me stuff I probably don't need. Now, I just click on the "Promotions" tab, scan quickly, select all and delete. Voila! A more productive day is at hand.
So check out the new Gmail tabs. As always, Modern Media Consulting is always interested in making your business life easier so let's have a conversation about your local online presence (including mobile), social media marketing and local promotions. We're here to help.
I am very excited about the new Facebook Timeline layout. It's very clean, don't you think? Here's a screen shot of my newsfeed this morning:
Unless you have been living under a rock (or maybe running a small business ;>) then you've heard about the controversy surrounding Beyonce's delivery of our National Anthem at President Obama's Inaugural soiree on Monday. Even before she had sat back down the twitterverse was rocking with tweets of did she or didn't she. If you haven't seen it take a look and decide for yourself:
To be sure, the National Anthem is a really hard piece to sing. Have you ever tried it solo? It covers every inch of a singers range, requires huge breaths and is usually delivered when a large audience is completely still and silent. It is particularly scary when presented a capella. Start that sucker too high and you are in deep trouble at the end. Try and start it nice and low and you sound like Marilyn Monroe for the first few bars. So I am not faulting Beyonce' or her team for any decisions they did or did not make about how the song would be delivered. I just know the one thing they ALL agreed on - DON'T SCREW IT UP.
But whether she did or didn't is not the point here. The point is that in the age of Idol/X-Factor/The Voice did we expect to hear some imperfection? Really. Think about it. It's cold, she's singing a difficult piece outside, it's hard to hear, etc... Shouldn't it be a little "pitchy" (a term none of us should know but do)?
Ultimately, what does this say about our human nature? Are we constantly looking for the big screw up? Do we anticipate doom, nay, HOPE for it? Did we secretly plot for the incredibly beautiful Beyonce' to tumble down the risers before she even got to open her mouth?
And what does this say about marketing and advertising (yeah, you knew I'd have to get back to that eventually)? If your customers, clients and patients are anticipating the worst what are you doing to set them up for a better experience? Do they get what they expect? Is it lip synced or live? Do they walk out with something better than they came in with? I promise, it's a lot easier than singing the National Anthem.
Comments are appreciated.
If you’re like most local businesses, you’re probably a little behind on planning your marketing and advertising budget for the year. Believe me, I feel your pain, because I run a small local business just like yours – and there is always a never-ending list of things to get done.
Well, take heart. There’s still time to make plans for the best year you’ve ever had. With 97% of U.S. internet users shopping online for local goods and services – and nearly 60% of those users specifically stating they are shopping online in order to buy offline - you simply cannot ignore the power of a local internet strategy. In fact, now - more than ever – local businesses and the customers they’re trying to reach are firmly planted in a search economy. The world wide web has quickly become the down the street web, and there’s no turning back.
Interestingly enough, the advertising companies that you’re planning a budget for - like yellow pages, TV, newspaper and radio stations – are rapidly making plans to move their businesses online. What about you?
Listen, there are two things you need to do right now. First, go to Google and type in your business name. What comes up? Hopefully you show up at the top. If not, you’d better fix that fast. If so, what type of image are you projecting for your customers, clients or patients? Does your online presence project the type of image that will drive prospects to take action and do business with you? Second, go back to Google and type in the general terms someone would use if they were looking for what you have to offer. We call these keywords. What comes up in the search results? If it’s not your business then you’re losing opportunities and profits.
Does this simple little exercise change your plans – and your budget – for the next year? We want to help. Modern Media Consulting is a small business just like yours and we know how powerful a local internet and social media strategy can be for your business. So, for a limited time, we’re offering a complimentary baseline assessment of your internet presence for local businesses in the Auburn-Opelika area. We’ll show you where you are so you can figure out where you need to be – to get more customers, clients and patients for your business. Then, if you’d like our help, we may be able to work together to that common goal.
Get in touch with us on the web. We’re easy to find. ;>)
Until we meet – better business to you!
For some reason my Grandmother was on my mind the other day. Maymie Shell Chambliss kept us all hoppin' until the age of 93. A rural school teacher by trade and a farmer's wife by design, my Grandmother cooked with real lard, butter and salt, used fresh eggs right from under the chicken, milked cows and goats (unpasteurized of course), and shared a lot of chocolate candy and real Cokes in glass bottles with us kids. She was a strong woman with a big faith and a catchy laugh. We always enjoyed hanging out on the farm helping Grandaddy harvest his crops (peanuts mostly), peddle vegetables off the back of his Chevy pick-up (biggest and most sought-after cat head tomatoes in Butler County), and playing with the cows, goats, chickens, ducks, pigs and various yard dogs that were always wondering around. And my Grandmother LOVED watching it all.
Later on in her life one of my Grandmother's guilty pleasures was getting a fish dinner at Captain D's in Greenville. Back then it was a long drive from Brushy Creek to town, but a trip to Captain D's was always special. So on a recent trip up Opelika Road in Auburn, Alabama, with "Granny" on my mind for some reason, I passed by a Captain D's I had been to before but had not eaten at in a while. In honor of Maymie Shell Chambliss I decided this would be my lunch stop.
Now I know a greezy plate of fried fish is not the healthiest choice, but I can afford a few calories - and it tastes a WHOLE lot better than rice cakes.
When I walked in the front door of this Captain D's (same front door I remember from a while back...door handles were always a little slippery) I knew I was someplace special. Everyone greeted me sincerely, really, like they honestly were happy I had come in - not just because the manual said they had to greet me. The place was pretty full for after 1pm on a week day and just about every diner who could see me turned a little and smiled as if to welcome me into the club. It was not an odd look or stare, just a "welcome" smile that was very inviting. The lady at the counter greeted me affectionately as "hun" just like she did everyone else who walked through the door. The cooks in the back nodded "hello," the lady making the tea asked how many lemons I wanted, and everyone seemed naturally nice. "Why does this seem so odd," I'm thinking.
There were conversations across the counter and into the dining room - asking about the days' events, weekend plans, children, grandchildren, car trouble, hospital stays. I began to realize that this crowd comes in a LOT. People came and went and each one was a family member. There was nothing special about this particular Captain D's except that, whether they knew it or not, these particular employees had created something we don't see much of and all of us crave:
Every diner felt like this was THEIR place. They were welcome. They were appreciated. They were important. And this crew made it happen for me in just one visit!
So what does local marketing have to do with Captain D's? Well, I will argue with you all day that online marketing, social media marketing and big money advertising will NEVER fix a bad product or service. The one thing that will is COMMUNITY. Community will cover up a bad mood, dirty tables and trash that needs to be taken out. That's not to say that Captain D's has a bad product. It was really good. My Grandmother liked it and I do too. But really - is Captain D's on your list of places to dine this week? This month? This year? They spend a lot of money on TV advertising on WSFA and WTVM. Do the ads make you want to go and eat there?
What makes people want to eat at Captain D's in Auburn, Alabama - and keeps them coming back - is COMMUNITY. And therein lies the challenge: what type of COMMUNITY have you created in your business? Is it worthy of people coming home too?
It was a great morning for Auburn, Alabama and the Publix Corporation as we celebrated the opening of the grocery chain's second location on North College at University Drive. It was a large crowd of dignitaries, store officials, Chamber members and folks like myself who rarely miss celebrating good news!
Our family LOVES Publix. We always see folks we know in there (which makes "a real quick trip to the grocery store" an oxymoronic statement). We also always see Justin Murphy (@murpho5) sackin' groceries and running for office. Justin knows everyone - not just your name, but your family, what they do, where they've been. He is the most genuine guy I know and reminds me to be MORE genuine every time I come in contact with him. Not by TELLING me to be, but by being so himself.
Justin is just one of the reasons that we love Publix. He's not the only guy they've hired that we know and speak to and it makes me wonder why other similar businesses can't figure this out. I KNOW I pay a little more at Publix (and I still go to other grocers in the area too), but I always feel good when I walk out of Publix.
That's a valuable piece of marketing that is hard to maintain in this day and age.
Tim Chambliss is a local business advocate and Owner of Modern Media Consulting, LLC, in Auburn, AL. Tim helps local businesses harness the power of local search, social media and online/offline advertising.