Intro to Email Marketing

Intro to Email Marketing

Do you use email marketing for your business?  If you aren’t then you really should be!  Email marketing has the highest ROI of any digital marketing activity you can do.  So how do you get started and what does it even look like?

Why do I need to do Email Marketing?

Email is a great way to nurture potential customers, and stay top of mind with previous customers.  It is also a very cost effective method to market your business.  Research shows that on average for every $1 you invest in email marketing generates $40 in revenue for your business.  That is the highest ROI of ALL digital marketing activities.  It also works well for brick and mortar, e-commerce, service providers and all types of businesses.

By creating your email strategy you are also building a list of customers that you own.  Social media is great, but you don’t own that information.  Your email list creates data you own and access to the subscribers for as long as you want.

Email is also better at converting customers to sales.  You can easily link product, notify customers of sales, and drive traffic through your emails – more so than you can do through social media.

So you’re probably thinking, I don’t have a list so I can’t do email marketing, or my list is too small to make an impact.  Here are four simple steps you can take to start an email campaign and grow your list.

Step 1: Get an Account with an Email Provider

There are lots of different companies that offer email marketing tools for small business.  For companies just starting out, MailChimp is a great option, and very cost effective.  They have amazing templates to inspire you and you can create amazing emails without needing to know any coding.  They also give great analytics to show you how your emails are performing compared to other copmines in your industry.

There are several other options out there.  At H & E Marketing Solutions we use ConvertKit.  Other great options are:

Make sure to do your research.  Each program has different offerings and is best for different businesses.

 Step 2: Grow (or start) a List

Don’t be afraid if you don’t have a large list to start with.  Starting with anything is better and will get you going to communicating with your audience.  There are lots of ways to grow your list.  Here are a few ideas.

  1. Create an opt-in for a downloadable document (ebook, white paper).  People exchange their email for an immediate download.
  2. Do a giveaway at events you are at.  Have them use their email as a sign up to enter to win a prize.
  3. Go through all your old business cards.  You collect them and don’t know what to do with them! Create an email to reach out to all the contacts you have and ask them to opt-in to your email list.
  4. Put a sign-up form on your website.  Pop up boxes, inline forms or slide-ins are all great options to get people to sign up for your newsletter.

By doing these strategies you’ll be on your way to creating an email list to communicate what’s happening with your business to warm leads and nurturing potential customers.

Step 3: Create Content that Converts

Remember that the goal of your emails is to educate your customers.  Yes, you want to sell your product, but make sure that the information you’re sending them is educational and informative first.

Test your audience, poll them, ask them how often they want to hear from you and what they want to know.  Then begin to create your newsletter.  Depending on your business you might want to go with the plain text version of emails or a more visual newsletter.  Again, testing will be key to see what your open and click-thru rates are.

At H & E Marketing Solutions we do a weekly newsletter.  It shares the blog post that we have created that week and some information that our owner, Sami, wants to share with the audience.  The weekly emails are educational and do not sell products or services.  They also invite recipients to visit our Facebook page on Tuesday’s for a live training to learn more about what is in the post.

 

Step 4: Be Consistent

A question we get all the time is, “How often should I be sending out emails?”  As with everything, it’s quality over quantity.  Take a look at all the activities you’re doing to market your business.  How often can you create great emails to send out?  If it’s weekly, then that’s great, if it’s monthly, then start there.

By being regular and consistent, your audience will get used to the rhythm and come to expect, and hopefully, enjoy your communication.  Remember that it will take time to grow your list and get engagement from your emails.  Buy by regularly showing up for your customers, you’ll soon start to see the benefits of your hard work.

Conclusion

We hope you will use email marketing as part of your marketing strategy.  It can be a great way to stay top of mind with current and potential customers.  It is also a great way to drive traffic to your website and continue to educate.

Don’t get discouraged by the stats. Remember that depending on your industry, a great open rate is between 18% – 25%.  Click through rates can range from 1% – 4%.  It’s more important to have a small audience that’s engaged than a large audience that doesn’t’ care.  If you have people that unsubscribe, don’t be stressed.

Why Does Your Website Need Ongoing Care

Why Does Your Website Need Ongoing Care

You just got your website completed and it’s looking wonderful.  You’re thinking, “Now my website will just run itself.”  That’s not entirely true.  Or maybe you’re thinking, “Why are they charging so much for hosting and domains, I can do it at [insert company] for much less money.”  While that’s true, standard hosting does not provide the same level of service and updating as website maintenance and care plans can provide.  So what are care plans?

In this post, we’re going to go through why you should have a care plan to help take care of your website.

 

Websites Don’t Run Themselves

Your website is a big, if not the main, selling tool for your business.  Monthly maintenance is imperative to ensure your website stays up to date, secure and doesn’t experience any downtime.  If you have visitors coming to your site and links don’t work or load time takes to long then you will lose them.

Beyond that, your business won’t stay the same forever.  As your business grows, so will the needs of your website.  You might need to add additional products, maybe eCommerce is now a necessity for you, photography might need to be updated, and on and on.  

 

The Benefits of Care and Maintenance

Your website performance, downtime, uptime, and load time are dependent on the software and plugins you use.  WordPress updates its software all the time, as well as plugins.  If you are doing simple hosting and not doing backups then these updates, or lack of updates, could negatively affect your website.

These issues are not only important for to create a great user experience, they are also important for SEO as they are ranking factors Google considers.  Staying on top of maintenance, along with monitoring analytics and generating new content are all important elements of your website growth.

Maintenance and care plans can also keep your website growing with the best practices and changes that Google and other search engines make.  

 

How we Help

H & E Marketing Solutions provides several solutions to business operating their websites on WordPress.  At the core of these products is off-site backups of your site.  This is extremely important as it allows us to get your website up and running quickly should anything happen.  We cannot control when WordPress makes updates, or how that affects the way your website functions.  What we do is minimize any effects that might have, and keep your website safe.

We manage the plugins that are on your site to ensure they are up to date.  If we built your website, we are also selective about the plugins used to ensure the safety of your site.  Plugins are updated monthly to minimize the impact on your website.

Security is extremely important so we are also monitoring the security of your site.  We have systems in place to avoid your site being hacked.

 

Why Can’t I Just Do it Myself?

Yes it is simple to just hit the “update” button on WordPress so why do you need someone to help you with it? 

Well, it’s more than just updating your plugins.  Do you know what to do if all of the sudden something isn’t playing nice and your website goes down?  Would you know what to do to get your website back up and running?  How much would that cost you if your website was down for a period of time, or worse, you lost all your content because it wasn’t backed up?

But our care plans are more than just that!  

 

It is More Expensive to Fix than Maintain

Yes, care plans are an additional monthly cost, and hopefully, you won’t need to utilize them to fix a broken site.  However, if you do not have monthly maintenance and something does go down, it is much more expensive to fix what broke.

Or, you may spend a lot of time and energy trying to fix it yourself.  Your time is valuable and much better spent working on your business than trying to fix your website.

Think about it this way, you wouldn’t wait until your car breaks down before you spend any money on it right?  Regular maintenance is key to its longevity, safety and performance.

 

Call in a Professional

H & E Marketing Solutions has experience in working with WordPress sites, hosting and domain registration.  We are up to date on the latest changes to Google and WordPress and bring that knowledge to your site to make sure it is the most competitive.

You are a business owner dealing with all sorts of things in your daily life.  Why add maintaining your website to that list? By securing an experienced web professional to update and maintain your site properly you are actually saving potential lost sales and visitors.

Learn more about our Website Care plans and contact us if you want to know more about how we can help your specific site.

5 Tools to Organize and Streamline Your Business

5 Tools to Organize and Streamline Your Business

As business owners, you have a lot to do each day.  You might have a small team, but they might not all be in the same location.  It might be just yourself and some consultants you need to communicate with.  Finding a CRM, project management system and communication system that all works together, on a budget, may seem impossible.  At H & E Marketing Solutions we are a virtual team of several contractors that are utilized in order to complete projects.  We thought we’d share the tools we use to keep projects moving and communication strong.  It’s important to note that we are not paid by any of these companies, just love them and wanted to share.

Google

Google has an amazing solution for business owners that covers email, task management, scheduling and document collaboration and sharing.  A G Suite account gives you all the basic tools you need for your business. We utilize many of its features to manage projects.

Google Drive holds all our important documents from contracts to brand assets to notes about training sessions we have taken.  By holding it there, changes that are made can be tracked and everyone is working off of the same document.

By using multiple inboxes in Gmail, we keep things organized by project or deadlines.  This photo was taken from the HubSpot blog that can give you step by step instructions on setting it up for yourself.

 

There are several other benefits of using Gmail that extend through the other tools we use.  It also offers a lot of flexibility in how you use it (ex Microsoft Outlook, iMail).

The Google Calendar gives you a lot of options for keeping your team together.  You can see the availability of other team members so you know you won’t double book, someone.

At the time of this post, a Google business account was only $5/month per email address.  This is a great rate for peace of mind knowing your email and documents are safely stored and secure.

Hubspot

When trying to grow your business, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system is really important.  It can help you track leads and communicate with other team members about actions that have been taken with a potential or existing client.  The tool we love is Hubspot.  Not only is it free – but the tools they give you are really robust.

We integrate Hubspot into our WordPress website to track where people landed on our website and what pages they visited.  It also tracks our emails in Gmail so we can go back through the history and see the communication.  If you’re generating proposals, you can also track what pending deals and calculate your close rate.

Finally, the tool we love is the scheduler.  By syncing your Google Calendar you can have a link to share with people needing to schedule meetings.

Trello

Keeping track of projects can be difficult.  Trello is an amazing tool where you can create boards and lists to manage your to-dos and priorities.  Drag and drop functionality allows you to move cards down to the next column to stay organized.

At H & E Marketing Solutions we have several boards we utilize.  Our master website build card holds all the intake, plugins, and tasks that we go through when doing a build.  We simply have to duplicate the master board and we’re ready to go with each new client.  We also have a “To-Do” board that is updated daily.  Each week we communicate our big 5 priorities and then it’s broken down into daily and weekly tasks.  We can assign each task to a person, communicate within the card, and add attachments.  It connects to Google Drive, Dropbox, and many other apps to easily include the documents, photos and more that you need.  Check out the Trello Inspiration blog to see how it might benefit your business.

Zapier

If you’re struggling with getting your different systems to talk to each other then check out Zapier.  They have integrations for pretty much EVERY software out there.  For example, we have a Zapier integration that allows me to tag an email in Gmail and it will automatically add it to a Trello card.  You can also have it automatically create a new contact in your email when someone is added to your CRM.  The opportunities are endless!  It can be a bit tricky to figure out at times, depending on the programs you use, but they have amazing support and a great blog with explanations.

Toggl

Knowing where you are spending your time can be really helpful.  Whether it’s spending time on tasks that don’t drive business or seeing how much time you actually spend on client work to track your ROI, it’s important to know where the time goes.  We track our time using Toggl.  With a Chrome plugin, cell phone app, and web dashboard, it takes the work out of time tracking.  You also get weekly reports and can search by project, team member and more.

Conclusion

Whatever the nature of your business is, having systems in place that can help you manage your time better and get your work done more efficiently is important.  These are some of our favorite tools, but we’d love to know yours!  What do you use to keep your business humming along?

Why Use a Business Coach?

Why Use a Business Coach?

This blog post is a bit different from the typical H & E Marketing Solutions blog posts as it doesn’t directly relate to digital marketing.  However, our goal here is to help small businesses grow and a big part of that is solidifying the messaging, purpose and goals for your business.  Many of those ideas should happen before you start marketing your business, but most businesses don’t!

As we come up to the first anniversary of our business, its fun to reflect back on the growth, change and ideas we started with and where we are now.  As a business, we employed a SCORE Mentor when we first started to help guide and shape some of our goals.

 

Is a Business Coach Right for You?

When people start a business, you typically think your idea is amazing and everyone will love it.  As you move through the process you may find that not everything is in perfect alignment.  Pricing is not correct, the product offering is not selling as well as you thought, people are not visiting your website.  All or some of these things can happen if you have not gone through the steps to define your audience, product offerings, etc.

Using a business coach is a great way to gut check yourself.  For H & E Marketing, Ed (our SCORE mentor) did a great job of taking a look at ideas and sharing with holes in the plan, validating the great parts, and challenging us to do better.  Business coaches typically have experience dealing with lots of different businesses in different markets and can bring a level of awareness to your idea that you might not be able to on your own – a change of perspective if you will!

Beyond that, help with legal tools, financial planning and setting business goals are great uses for a coach.  I started my own business because I wanted to help people with their digital marketing.  Just because I chose to start my own business does NOT mean that I know all the things that should be defined to ensure it’s success.

 

Types of Business Coaching

  •  Free Coaching.  You might be thinking – I’m just starting my business, I don’t have money to pay for a coach.  As I mentioned earlier, we used a SCORE mentor for our coaching.  This is a great option because it is a free option.  They are sponsored by the Small Business Association (SBA) and coaches are volunteers that come from the business world.  They match you up with a coach based on your goals and business needs.  Another great option is visiting your local library.  They often have education sessions or links to resources you can utilize to get your business going.
  • Paid Coaching.  Maybe your business has started and was going well but now it’s starting to plateau.  You need some guidance in a particular area (creating systems or financial or marketing) to help take you to the next level.  If you’re looking for someone that can make a substantial impact in your business then the best advice is to ask around.  Hiring a business coach is like finding a best friend.  You are giving them access to all parts of your business and trusting that they have your best interests at heart.  You might not always agree on decisions or the best course of action all the time, but they are there to provide you with a different perspective and challenge you.
  • Masterminds.  Masterminds are growing in popularity and can be free, or paid.  They can be small groups that meet locally and help each other with growing their business needs and experiences, or they can be paid programs that meet in person, virtually or a combo of both.  Paid masterminds are typically on a particular topic.  The key thing is accountability and taking active steps in your business.
  • Online coaching. Online coaching programs are similar to masterminds.  They often have forums or Facebook groups attached to additional networking and community.  The key difference here is that they are typically taught by one expert as opposed to group sharing of information.  For example, our Simple Group Coaching programs are an ongoing group program that provides coaching on a particular topic, SEO or Social Media in this case.  Not all coaching programs are ongoing, several are a short-term program to get knowledge on a particular topic.  You can find them on everything from growing your email list to copywriting to defining your business strategy.

 

So what option should you choose?

That all depends on where you are in your business and your budget.  Masterminds and online coaching programs can be expensive and time-consuming.  But if you put the lessons you learned into action they can make a big impact.  Personal coaching is just that, more personal and can leave you with specific deliverables for your unique business.

Some of our favorite Groups/Masterminds:

Local to Bend, OR:

No matter what you choose, don’t be afraid to keep learning and growing your business.

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