Category Archives for "Email Marketing"

How to Crowdfund Your Next Project
Dec 09

How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign – Interview with Ebony Love, LoveBug Studios

By Maria Peagler

How to Crowdfund Your Next Project

Have you considered crowdfunding your next project?

If so, you definitely want to listen to today’s interview with Ebony Love, founder of LoveBug Studios. She ran a successful crowdfunding compaign that generated over 2X her goal (and she admits she had a few #fails along the way).

I was surprised at some of the revelations Ebony shared with me: I thought I understood crowdfunding, but the tactics she used (and those she didn’t) turned traditional advice on its head.

Crowdfunding with Ebony Love: Interview Audio

You can listen to the full 30-minute interview, or get bite-sized “tips” below:

Listen to the Full Interview with Ebony Love (30 min)

Bite-sized clips are below, each about 5 minutes in length. Click on the link to listen:

Members – Find out where the largest percentage of Ebony’s supporters came from, if she had help promoting her campaign, and her advice to others considering crowdfunding by logging in:  Click here to login!


Interview Transcript with Timestamps

0:00:00 MARIA: Welcome everyone this is Maria Peagler with And today I have with me Ebony Love the founder of LoveBug Studios and a successful Kickstarter campaign generator. Welcome, Ebony!

0:02:02 EBONY: Hi Maria. Thanks for having me.

0:02:05 MARIA: Absolutely, Ebony I have wanted to do this interview with you for a while because I was fascinated at the whole Kickstarter campaign that you did. I supported you. I contributed to your Kickstarter campaign. Can you tell our listeners out there a little bit about your campaign and your funding goal?

0:02:30 EBONY: Absolutely, Thank you so much Maria for supporting my campaign it really meant a lot to me to see your support there. When i initially started a campaign it was for a book about fabric die cutting and that particular topic is a very niche topic and there’s only a certain segment of the quilting community that’s going to be interested in something like that. Before I went to the expense and sort of going down the path of spending all this money investing in illustrators and graphic artists to solve these things. I wanted to make sure that there was actually a market to support this book that i was writing so part of this was market research a sort of test. We have to water a little bit and see if there was enough support for an idea like this to come out with a book for this particular niche. My initial funding goal was $5000 and when I put together my budget, when I thought about was. I’m willing to make an investment in this project and if other people are willing to invest with me as well then, I’m going to kick in some funding. My actual budget was about $10000 for the production of the book and so i set the campaign budget for half of that. If I can raise half the money I can kick in the other half and that would make it ok.

0:04:05 MARIA: Ok, so you came up with the budget of 10000 is like a fifty-fifty.50% you would be putting in and then 50% your contributors will be putting in. Now, what did you end up raising from your $5000 goal?

0:04:26 EBONY: I ended up raising just over $12000 for the project which it only took about 6 or 7 days to hit the $5000 mark and then the whole campaign went for about 30 days. So I was really elated to raise that amount of money so quickly the thing about Kickstarter is that when you set your campaign timeline you set it typically 30 days and even if you raise your target early the campaign doesn’t end it just keep going that’s how we went over the $5000 amount.

0:05:12 MARIA: How did you decide to use Kickstarter rather than someplace like Indiegogo. The reason I ask is because with Kickstarter for those who may not be familiar with it, with Kickstarter it’s an all or nothing thing if you don’t reach your goal or you don’t get to keep any of the contribution but on Indiegogo you don’t have to reach a goal you get to keep whatever you raise. And so, tell me how you decided on Kickstarter.

0:05:48 EBONY: Yes, both platforms when I’m just in this campaign back a couple of years ago both platforms are really really early on in there sort of introduction and the modelling. One thing about Indiegogo and I haven’t look in a while but at the time if you didn’t raise your campaign goal there actual cost to you was higher than if you hit your goal. So that was one factor, the other factor I thought to myself if I can’t get the support that I need to do this project then i really need to think very hard about whether or not i should go forward and take this, so it wasn’t just about raising a certain amount of money it was also making sure that I was able to garner enough support to go forward.

0:06:43 MARIA: Right, right, which was really smart to use Kickstarter as a market research tool because I know so many authors who just jump in they spend the money and then find out really that they didn’t know how to promote the book there is really know readership for the book and if they have done something like this beforehand they could have save themselves a lot of heartache.

0:07:06 EBONY: Yes, Absolutely!

0:07:08 MARIA: So let me ask you Ebony, It took you 30 days. The campaign was 30 days. How long did it take you to prepare for the campaign to actually get everything on Kickstarter get your video, get all that materials that you needed, how long did that take you?

0:07:29 EBONY: It took me probably about 3-4 weeks of planning part of that time Kickstarter had a pretty rigorous review process also so you couldn’t just put something out there and hit go and it just public they actually would go through and review your project to make sure it was appropriate for the platform the other component is writing the compelling copy. So I think in the media industry we call it romance copy. Writing that copy that’s really going to inspire and really reach the folks that I’m trying to reach and communicate my own passion and devising the reward that In and of itself I was racking my brain trying to think about what types of reward I mean obviously the book a copy of the book that’s pretty simple but in order to get people to sort of contribute that higher level i had to come up and really get creative with something and the thing about Kickstarter is when you offer a reward they have to be tangible reward it can’t be like a coupon for a future purchase for something like that it’s got to be something that people actually receive and it’s worth something at the time and it’s not some sort of “Hey if you don’t knit here I’ll contribute 10 dollars to charity. It has to be something that the backer get out of it. And i think i refer to it as investment but it’s really not an investment because you’re not yet shares

0:09:13 MARIA: Right, right

0:09:15 EBONY: But you should get something out of it. It’s not a donation when you contribute you’re getting something in return.

0:09:19 MARIA: And so, how crucial do you think to be the big prices were? That the prices they should offer and the levels that you offer, how crucial were those?

0:09:25 EBONY: I think that they were instrumental in helping the campaign go as far as it did. When I think about my entire network of people so just in my own personal network not everybody is a quilter not everybody is a die cutter so if all I offered was the die cutting book that’s not going to be of interest necessarily to everyone so there could be folks think: “You know what? I support what you do I’m really thrilled about this and I want to make sure it is successful but I really don’t need a coffee-table book.

0:10:13 MARIA:*laughs*

0:10:17 EBONY: The other piece two is by having different levels of contribution it gives people the opportunity to look and say “There’s a level here that I can afford. Because not everybody can just say here’s 30 bucks for a book that I’m not going to read. Some people may be able to contribute a dollar other people might say.”You know what I really support this artist, I know this person I feel good about what they’re doing, I can actually contribute a higher level so actually having those different reward level it gives you a choice i personally think i had too many and at the end of the day you’re the one who has to actually fulfill all those rewards.

0:11:04 MARIA:*laughs* Right.

0:11:08 EBONY:*laughs*After a while but i think having at least 3 or 4 options gives people sort of a way to contribute at a level there comfortable with.

0:11:18 MARIA: And so you had levels from a dollar all the way up to 1500 dollars and what was your most popular level?

0:11:29 EBONY: My most popular level I believe was at the 50 dollar level you’ve got a copy of the book and some other little trinket so I think my average donation across the board was about 46 dollars so some people came in lower than that, some people came in higher than that but most people were right in middle of a reward.

0:12:00 MARIA: I’m looking at your Kickstarter site right now and it looks like you had a 104 backers at 30 dollars. Now, do you think it was the dollar amount? Do you think it was just the right amount? Or do you think it was the acknowledgement that they’ve got in getting the book as the reward?

0:12:22 EBONY: I think so, I think most of the people who purchased at that level were once who wanted the book. They were rolling to get that book so it was a way for them and what’s interesting when you structure your reward, is it’s not necessarily meant to be a like discount of a retail price although some that way it’s actually meant to be because you do need feed bonds so the book actually retails for 30 dollars so that was like the level. I think that level people were going to buy the book anyway when it came out and that’s the level that they supported.

0:13:09 MARIA: Okay, And what did you do to promote the campaign as far as social media and email marketing and get the word out, What did you do to promote it ?

0:13:22 EBONY: so I actually did a several tiers of marketing and I didn’t want to bombard my network with you know just post after post after post of this particular campaign. The first method that Senel was just a family and close friends just to first get started with the toe on the water and also when you put it out to just friends and family you tend to get kind of that bubble of will support anything that you do and that makes you feel better. You feel better about what you’re doing to get some of that initial push and then I put it up on Facebook to wider the audience which will include my friends and friends of friends and hope to unnecessarily no personally but we’re friends on Facebook and that’s the next level campaign and some of those folks even shared my campaign with their friends and that’s another way to get to expanse. The third way was just through my newsletter list so I have an email list for my business where I send out announcement about where I’m going to be and what’s going on with my business and where you can see me that went to my email list. I also posted on my blog talking about the Kickstarter campaign and what it meant and what I was trying to do. I have several avenue to pursue but I didn’t do them all at once. I didn’t’ post everywhere on the same day. I spread it out over probably a week to 10 day period to reach all those audiences.

0:15:13 MARIA: Ok, and do you have any idea of which promotion garnered the most support?

0:15:22 EBONY: I believe it was probably the Iddy mount campaign just because there were thousands of people on my email list versus a couple of dozens on my Facebook page.

0:15:39 MARIA: So you have an email marketing list with several thousand contacts on?

0:15:47 EBONY: Yes. I think it’s the time I probably had under a thousand people subscribe to my email list. Now it certainly grown as my name has gotten out there but I think it’s the time it was under a thousand people on my email list but it was certainly a lot bigger of an audience than on my Facebook page.

Exclusive Members-Only Lessons

Members – Find out where the largest percentage of Ebony’s supporters came from, if she had help promoting her campaign, and her advice to others considering crowdfunding by logging in:  Click here to login!

Not a member? Start learning today by becoming a Socialmediaonlineclasses member. Get started below:

May 19

How to Outsource Your Social Media Marketing

By Maria Peagler

networking imageStartups and small businesses don’t have the time to do everything themselves, and often social media marketing is one of the first services entrepreneurs look to outsource.

Trusting your social media marketing to an outside firm is a big leap —  often one that leaves everyone disappointed.  In this week’s post, I’ll share my secrets for ensuring a successful delegation of your social media marketing to an outside team.

1.  Is Your Business a Good Candidate for Outsourcing?

A hard question you need to ask yourself is this:  are we a good candidate for outsourcing?  Not every business can let go of their marketing, nor are they organized enough to do so.

Is your team organized?

Handing off your marketing requires that your social media team understands your brand and your clients as well as your in-house staff.  That requires spending a lot of time with the team and educating them on what you offer, what differentiates you, and what you want your brand voice to be.

Do you have content, images and copy?

Marketing also requires a lot of content: your calendar of events, product/service images, staff headshots, product copy, and more.

In my experience, most brands are so busy doing the work they don’t remember to take the time to photograph what they do.  The result? They end up with little in the way of marketing images.  Even when they’re in a visual business like retail.

Your social media team needs those images so they can get engagement on social media.  Can you provide them?

2.  Do You Know What to Look for in a Social Media Marketing Team?

Hiring a social media marketer with an impressive certificate of credentials is a good start, but it’s not enough.  You need to know they understand your business, have produced results for previous clients in the past, and can do the same for you.

Do they have social media marketing training?

Where did they get their social media marketing education? What tactics does that organization teach, and will you be comfortable with those tactics with your brand’s name on them?

Many social media training “experts” teach highly aggressive forms of marketing that violate Facebook’s terms of service.  Using their tactics can get your business page banned.

Know the social media training organizations you can trust and recognize the candidates with those credentials.

What results have they produced for previous clients?

How do you know hiring a team will produce results?  A member hired a consultant to do his marketing, and she did an awesome job tweeting, posting on Facebook, and engaging with fans/followers.

The problem?  The content she was posting had absolutely nothing to do with his new product launch.  Not related in the slightest sense.  She didn’t understand his brand or his product enough to speak for him.

What is your goal in hiring a social media marketing team? If you want to grow your business, you need to be prepared to have that discussion with your team and identify how to accomplish that.

Want to increase visibility for your brand? How many fans & followers is realistic for your business?

3.  How Will You Measure Success?

This is the ultimate test for any marketing campaign:  what was your goal and did you accomplish it?

What is your social media marketing goal?

You need to discuss your goals for hiring the team and agree on measurable ways to analyze whether you’ve met them. While increasing your fan count may be part of that, it’s usually not enough.

Do you want social media to drive traffic to your website? Generate telephone calls for a consultation? Get people visiting your store?

You need to have SMART goals in place and ensure that both you and your team understand and agree with them.

How long does your team have to accomplish those goals?

Last month I received this email:

Hello I need a way that I can get 1 million customers over the internet. Can you email me a model plan. I am a Sports consultant, Life Coach, insurance rep, and football coach.

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to help, because this entrepreneur lacked focus, a budget, and a timeframe.  His expectations were also wildly unrealistic.

Have a candid discussion with your potential marketing team about what a reasonable timeframe is to accomplish the goals you’ve defined.  That way you’ll know how much you need to invest before you see measurable results. Now Offers Done-for-You Social Media Services

Because our members have asked us for years to provide done-for-you services, we’re debuting our Social Media Services this month.

We help your business grow using social media marketing, email marketing, and search engine optimization.  No questionable tactics. Only highly trained consultants you can trust.

You’ll have the assurance that our team uses only the best marketing tactics, understands your business and product offerings as well as an in-house team, and can produce measurable results to meet your business goals.

social media for local business webinar excerpt
Apr 07

Social Media for Local Business Webinar Sneak Peek

By Maria Peagler

Members had so many questions during the Social Media for Local Business webinar they stayed for an additional 30 minutes with loads of questions!

The best member takeways were:

  • how to get a steady stream of new customers
  • which local resources were best for their business type
  • how to optimize social resources to help local consumers find your brand
  • and much more!

Webinar Sneak Peek

Here’s an exclusive excerpt from the webinar:

Not a member? Start learning today by becoming a Socialmediaonlineclasses member.  Click here to learn more:

Mar 27

The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Local Business [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Maria Peagler


Click to download the infographic

<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size version.

How do you decide where to spend your time marketing your local business?

So many social networks and marketing options can be overwhelming. How can you ensure you’re focusing on tactics yielding the most return on investment (ROI) for your local business?

Rely on the Social Media for Local Business infographic.  It reveals the eight most powerful social marketing platforms for local businesses; use it as a menu to pick and choose the ones the suit your brand.

Browse the explanations of each tactic, why it’s important, and what it can do for you. Remember to share this infographic with your own network, using the social buttons at the top & bottom of this post.


local google+

1. Get a local business page

Getting found on search engines is crucial for any local business, and the #1 step you can take to appear on page one of Google search results for your area is to get a Google+ local business page. It six weeks for Google to verify your address, but once they do, you get a free listing worth thousands in advertising.

ultimate guide to local business Socialmediaonlineclasses 1

The simplest way to get a local business page on Google is to use Google+

2. Add photos of your business’ exterior

Give people a snapshot of what your brick & mortar location looks like. While a professional image would be great, one you take yourself will do nicely.

3.  Add photos of your business’ interior

Do you invest a lot of time making your store an inviting place to stop in and browse? Show it off with photos of the interior, including your products, inventory, and what makes your business unique.

4.  Offer the ability to add reviews

People trust reviews from real consumers and businesses, so allow the public to review your brand. Don’t worry about negative reviews: studies show they actually increase overall review credibility. Just ensure they don’t outweigh the positive ones.

5.  Post hours of operation

Add your location’s hours and Google will let people know if you’re open at the EXACT moment they’re searching. Google is relieving your staff workload by avoiding that phone call of “are you open today?”

6.  Includes a map and directions

Google+ provides a map to your location, making it easy for visitors to get directions from Google Maps both on desktop and mobile.  Again, a phone call saved asking “how do I get to your office?”

7.  Add local area code and telephone number

Adding your local telephone number makes it easy for customers to get in touch with you and call your store by pressing just one “Call” button. Even better?  Adding your local area code also boosts your local search engine rankings.

8.  Use local hashtags

People do a lot of searching on Google+, and using hashtags relevant to your area will help you get found more often. A local insurance office would do well to use the hashtags such as #insurance, #atlanta, and #allstate (substitute your brand name here).


local youtube

9. Record a brief intro video

YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, so you’ve got to show up there with a video. Record a brief video introducing your business, what you do, and your location. Think of it as your own YouTube commercial.

10. Video title should include your city, business type, name of business

It may sound dull and uninspired, but including your city, type of business, and your business name is the best way to get found on YouTube.  So the title: Layton Utah Ford Dealership | Ed Kenley Ford ensures that people know your video is the one they’re looking for:

youtube for local business

Notice the location and type of business in the YouTube video title?

11. Website hyperlink is first item in description

What’s the next thing you want viewers to do after watching the video? Visit your website? Then put the website hyperlink as the first element in the video description.  That ensures viewers will see it even if they don’t click on See More to view the full description.  Want viewers to call you? Then use your telephone number as the first item in the description.

12.  Use city and zip code as tags

Tags are categories you can use to further describe your video, and they help YouTube determine which are the most relevant videos to your search.  By using your city name and local zip code as tags, you’re telling YouTube to serve up your video as local results when people are searching for videos in your area.

13.  Keep video short, less than three minutes

Make your video easy on you to record AND easy on viewers to watch by keeping it short, under three minutes.  Remember, television commercials are 30 seconds: watch them closely to see what they include and emulate the ones you like.

14.  Give viewers a virtual tour

You’ve likely invested heavily in your office or store’s interior, so show it off to viewers.  Give them an idea of what it will look and feel like when they visit your location. Be sure to point out what differentiates your brand from others in the area.

15.  Invite viewers to visit

Lastly, extend an invitation to viewers to visit your location, and offer something special to them when they do. Give away a freebie when people tell you they saw your video on YouTube.

16.  Mine Analytics for a gold mine of viewer data

YouTube offers excellent analytics about how many people watched your videos, for how long, and how they found them.  If people are watching only the first 10 seconds, take another look at your video. What’s your most popular video? Your least?


local facebook

17. Select local business as your business page category

Facebook offers local businesses valuable features on their pages not available to others, including a map, your hours, and reviews.  All these items make it simple for people to find out about your brand directly within Facebook.

facebook local business page

Facebook’s local business pages display your hours, customer reviews, and a map to your location

18. Local business pages offer a map

When you add your physical address to your local business page, Facebook displays a map to your location.  This is particularly helpful to mobile users, who can click on the map and get directions from their current location.

19.  Local business pages offer reviews

Reviews from real consumers are one of the best ways to boost your brand’s credibility.  Yes, you risk getting a negative review or two, but studies show those bad apples actually increase the authenticity of all the reviews.  No need for people to go to Yelp — you’re letting your best customers say how much they love you and why!

20.  Are you open today?

Facebook actually saves your staff from endless calls about “are you open today” and “how late are you open” with real-time status: Open 11:00 – 3:00 or Closed Today. Helpful for both your team and consumers.

21.  Use local hashtags in posts

Hashtags are a great way to get found in Facebook GraphSearch, and local hashtags give you an intimate connection with your community.  The more you use hashtags, the greater the opportunity for people to find your business on Facebook. G. Michael Salon, the #1 hair salon in Indianapolis, uses up to 13 hashtags on a single post.

22.  Motivate fans to tag your business

Tagging allows a fan to mention your business in a post or a photo, resulting in it appearing on your NewsFeed.  Can you say “free public relations?” Give fans a reason to tag your business: motivate them with a freebie or an opportunity for an experience no one else gets.

23.  Check-ins from fans appear in their NewsFeeds

When your fans visit your location and check-in, their status appears in their NewsFeed along with a link to your business page.  Another fantastic opportunity for free publicity. Capitalize on your local status and encourage fan check-ins with photo opportunities, cool displays, or other unique experiences.

24.  Local businesses appear in GraphSearch first

If I’m looking for an insurance agency in my city, Facebook GraphSearch serves up those I’m fans with first, then  local matches.  Grow a targeted, local fan base and you’ll see improved search results.  Also check your Insights to see where new fans are coming from.


local slideshare

25. Gives local business a huge SEO boost

Few business owners understand the impact Slideshare can have on your search engine rankings.  After all, it’s where you share PowerPoints, right? Yes, but Slideshare transcribes the text of your slides, search engines (Google, Bing, & Yahoo) read that text, and if they like what they see, your search engine rankings improve.

slideshare for local business

Slideshare offers local businesses a HUGE SEO boost IF you use it correctly

26. Presentation title should include your city, business type, name of business

Similar to #10 for YouTube, including your city, type of business, and your business name is the best way to get found on Slideshare and in Google search.  So the title: Layton Utah Ford Dealership | Ed Kenley Ford ensures that people know your business is the one they’re looking for.

27.  Use SEO keywords in title text

Your SEO keywords are those search terms people use in Google to find what they’re looking for.  Someone from Atlanta searching would likely search for “Georgia Ford Dealerships” if they want that cool new Shelby Mustang. If those keywords are in your presentation title, your business has a much greater chance of appearing before searchers on Google and in Slideshare.

28.  Slideshare transcribes slide text for SEO

A perk of uploading a presentation to Slideshare is that it transcribes the slide text for you.  Search engines LOVE that. Aim for a balance of text on your slide that is enough to help you rank in search, but not so much you crowd the slide.

29.  Add a location slide with a photo

Help people visualize where your business is located by dedicated one slide to how to find you.  Give your address, nearby landmarks, and a nice photo of your building.

30.  Differentiate your business

What’s unique about your business? Hair salons are plentiful in most cities, but not all have Redken-trained colorists and carry Aveda products. A small one-person barber shop is an entirely different experience than a full-service barber who offers hot shaves, mustache trims, and a large collection of American Crew styling products.  You know what your customers want:  tell them you offer it in your presentation.

31.  Use a variety of images

Please don’t resort to the snooze-fest that is the text-only slide, or Death-by-PowerPoint. Make your slide presentation visually engaging by using a variety of relevant images, great slide design, and easily read fonts.

32.  Few local businesses use Slideshare

If you’re a local business reading this blog post, you’re in the minority.  Most small brands don’t use Slideshare, so simply uploading a presentation there puts you in the place of most potential. Try it – and let me know how it works for you.

Review Sites

local review sites

33. Yelp is important for local restaurants

If you own a restaurant, people are already reviewing it on Yelp. It’s become the go-to source for finding a great place to eat in any town. Especially critical if you’re located in a tourist town. A Yelp listing offer your address, telephone, hours, a map, photos of dishes you offer, and reviews.

34. Kudzu is great for local service businesses

Kudzu offers reviews for automotive, legal, health, financial and residential construction service businesses in major cities in the U.S. However, reviews are a small part of a large, detailed description and list of services you can display on Kudzu for free. Kudzu should be high on your list if you’re in a service-based business.

35.  TripAdvisor is a must for travel businesses

TripAdvisor is the first place travelers look when they’re planning a visit to a major city around the world. I personally booked a bicycle tour in Paris from reviews on TripAdvisor, and during the tour, the business owner told me TripAdvisor is a major source of new business for them. They key to credible reviews on TripAdvisor:  photos.

Blue Bike Tours has a thriving business - TripAdvisor is their #1 source of new customers

Blue Bike Tours has a thriving business – TripAdvisor is their #1 source of new customers

36.  Review sites can be an ongoing source of new customers

While many local business owners fear negative or fake reviews on these sites, it makes sense to embrace these websites and make full use of the wealth of free resources they offer you. Instead of waiting for your clients to come to your website, go to where they are: the review sites.  From there you can link to your website, offer inviting photos, and make your listing so inviting they can’t wait to visit.

37. Ask clients to use photos when they review your business

Much has been published about fake reviews (and people even sued over them); the best way to add credibility to any review is to add a relevant photo to it.  A photo of a clean body shop in an auto dealership can say far more than the review content, plus it shows the reviewer was really at your location. Ask your best clients for reviews and encourage them to snap a photo with their smartphone.

38.  Pay attention to review content

Make it a habit to read the reviews of your business and those of your competition.  While it’s impossible to please everyone, you’re likely to see a trend in what people rave about and what needs improvement. When reviewers complain about your competitors, identify how you can capitalize on their weaknesses or suggest a collaboration: you offer what they can’t, and vice-versa.  I know of a local quilt shop owner who formed a friendship with the local Wal-Mart manager, and they agreed to refer customers to each other when shoppers couldn’t find what they needed.

39.  Increases SEO results for your website

Review sites get massive traffic everyday, so a link on Yelp, Kudzu, TripAdvisor or other credible review site will help your website rank higher in search engines.  Don’t stop with just one review site: if your industry has multiple review sites consumers use, create listings on each.

40.  Add menus, photos, and details to your listings

Give visitors a multi-sensory experience when they look at your review site listing: can they see your restaurant’s inviting decor? Can they taste your tiramisu? Smell the Columbian coffee? Give viewers as much detail as possible in the form of photos, descriptions of products/services, directions, and other relevant information.


local instagram2

41. Follow local Instagrammers

Who are the local Instagram influencers in your area? Search for your local hashtag, ask at your next chamber of commerce meeting, and start following those colleagues.  Also identify who the influential Instagram consumers are in your area and follow them as well.

42. Use a variety of images

Mix up the image types you share: staff photos, new products, inspirational quotes, your team at local charity events, before & after transformation photos, in-process photos and more. Keep your image feed interesting:  too much of the same type of image gets repetitive.

43.  Offer behind-the-scenes pictures

Some of the most fascinating images come from places consumers can never go: your kitchen, your body shop, stockroom, etc. Example? A local auto body shop shares fascinating before & after images of wrecked vehicles and the step-by-step process. I’d take my car there!

44.  Before & after transformation images are popular

Want to show off the impact your brand can have? Share before & after images of your clients! Great for hair salons, med spas, auto body shops, remodeling contractors, insurance agencies (before/after a home fire or other disaster) or any brand that has a visual impact.

45.  Share product photos with advice on how to use them

One of my favorite consignment stores posts photos of the new inventory they get weekly. I’d love to get a few of their tips on how to style or use the pieces they get.  Their vision of how to use their products is priceless beyond the piece itself.

An insurance company could share tips on what to do after hail damage to a car. Getting ideas for your brand now?

46.  Add location to images

Sharing those fascinating images is the first step to gaining followers.  Adding your location to those images makes it easy for those followers to find you when they’re ready to visit.

47.  Use local hashtags

Hashtags are crucial to getting found on Instagram, so what are the ones for your area? Indianapolis uses #indy, atlanta is known as #atl.  How about your town?

48. Use city, business type, business name, zip code and area code

If this image is the first time a follower has seen your brand, don’t make them guess at your details. Use hashtags to identify what you do: #atl, #barber, #barkerjackson, #30305, and #770 tells locals everything they need to know about your business at a glance.



local pinterest

49. Use place pins to offer a map to your location

Pinterest now offers “place pins,” which allow you to enter your address and it displays a map of your location. Great for both desktop and mobile users, no one has to guess where you are.

50. Add city and zip code in your board/pin titles and descriptions

Pinterest offers strong SEO results both internally and in Google, so using your city and zip code will help people find their local results.  Do you need them in both the pin and board descriptions? Yes. Why? Boards show up more often in Google, while inside Pinterest you’ll easily find both boards and pins.

51.  Pinterest provides your brand with an easy SEO boost

Not an internet geek? Awesome! You don’t have to be, nor do you have to pay an SEO consultant $5,000 to “optimize” your site.  Just add relevant local details to your boards and pins, and it will definitely help people to find you – both inside Pinterest and in Google search.

52.  Create local theme boards

The sky is the limit here: create “themed” boards around an experience: Date Night board could include dinner at your restaurant with live music. Spa Day board could be your hair salon “makeover” package with cut, color, facial and mani/pedi. Service-based businesses can do this too:  Insurance agencies can do boards around the dream cars, homes, and vehicles they insure. Financial services firms can showcase Saving for College or Retirement boards.

53.  Follow local pinners

Pinterest allows you to easily integrate your Facebook friends into your account, so you can connect with them. This is a great way to find local pinners.  Also search by hashtag to find pinners in your area.

54.  Offer contests to encourage visibility

While Pinterest may not be the first social network to come to mind for contests, brands like Amazon Fashion, LandsEnd, and Lily Pulitzer rock their contests, generating huge follower interest. How? Ask pinners to create boards with their brand favorites, and use the contest hashtag in the board description.

55.  Create a staff board

You’ve invested in a top-notch staff, so let pinners get to know them. Feature a staff board with a pin for each staff member, and a short bio. Want more? Include links to each staff members product recommendations and advice, as described in #56.

56.  Offer staff “picks” and advice

Let each staff member curate their own boards with their favorite products, advice, local hangouts and styles. It’s a great way to let local pinners get to know the faces behind your brand, what their strengths are, and who they identify with.

Mobile Marketing

local mobile

57. A mobile website is CRUCIAL for local businesses

People no longer rely on the Yellow Pages, and they use Siri and Android apps to find the closest business to them. Yesterday I was car shopping and asked Siri “where’s the closest BMW auto dealership?” I immediately looked at the most relevant results (my son was driving!). If your website is responsive or has a mobile version, you’ll get far better click-through rates and more people coming into your location.

58. Make your website responsive

A responsive website is one that automatically detects what device visitors are coming from and optimizes its display for the best viewing experience. Talk to your web developer about the simplest and most elegant way accomplish this: it’s an investment, but one that you need to do sooner than later.

59.  WordPress plugins provide a simple responsive solution

If you have a WordPress website, several plugins turn your website into a mobile version when visitors come from a smartphone or tablet.  These plugins are a smart solution for testing the response you get when you offer an optimized viewing experience for mobile users.  WP Touch and WP Mobile Detector are both highly rated and simple to install.

60.  Design emails for mobile reading

Most of us check our email on our mobile phones at least part of the time, so make your email newsletters mobile-friendly.  Use a mobile-friendly theme or just simple text in one column.  It’s not fancy, but it’s easily read and looks more like the emails readers get from friends and family (they don’t feel like they’re being sold to).

61.  Look at your website and emails on a tablet and smartphone

Great! You’ve got a mobile version of your website and your email newsletter! Have you looked at them yourself — as a consumer? Sure, you’re developer says they look great, but how readable are they to you? Ask staff members and friends to view them from their devices and different browsers to see how they look across the board.

62.  Use a large font size for easier mobile view

One simple tweak you can make to both your website and your email newsletters is to use a larger font size. That automatically reduces eye strain, especially on a tiny smartphone screen.

63.  One column layout is easier to read

Studies prove that a one column layout is both easier to scan and read, and gets higher click-through rates. Consider updating your website and your email newsletters to a simple one column layout. At least test a simplified version of each and see how the response rates change.

64.  44% of website traffic is mobile (and growing)

What adult (or teen) do you see without a smartphone in their hands? Mobile visitors are increasingly becoming a majority of traffic to your website, and local businesses likely get far more than 44% from it.  Check your Google Analytics (or ask your developer to) and see how many of your brand’s website traffic comes from mobile.

Where is Your Business Online? Can Your Customers Find It?

Local businesses are increasingly transitioning print, radio, and television advertising budgets to online marketing. Have you?

Identify your staff member who loves social and can represent your brand well, and give them the opportunity to build or improve your online marketing.  Give them this infographic as a “to do list” of tactics, and experiment with a few to see which ones generate the most traffic — both online and in your brick and mortar location.

Jan 14

How to Update Your Online Marketing Strategy in 2014

By Maria Peagler

Important changes you need to make now

Important changes you need to make now

2013 brought enormous transformations in social media platforms, search engine algorithms, and email marketing.

2014 ushers in a new era in online marketing.  You’ll be seeing “content marketing” and “integrated marketing” mentioned increasingly, as they focus on not just one network, but using your content across multiple channels.

How can you focus on even more social networks if you’re feeling overwhelmed already? No worries: here are my recommendations on working smarter to massively increase your results in 2014:

1.  Focus on Social Media as a Lead Generator

People rarely buy directly from your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, or Instagram photos.

Social media is a marketing channel:  you can make sales from it eventually, but it requires that you nurture the fans, followers, and connections you build there.

The simplest and most direct way of connecting to your hard-earned fans is to capture their email addresses so you can reach them directly via your email marketing.  Then you no longer need to concern yourself with reach or how many people engaged with your posts.

What does this process look like?  Here’s a sample flow for a few of the most popular social networks:

From Facebook:

  • a visitor arrives on your Timeline
  • likes your page
  • sees an offer you have for a free product, a coupon, or other freebie
  • gives their email in exchange for the freebie
  • gets the lead generator freebie and begins receiving your emails in their Inbox

From Twitter:

  • a follower sees your tweet, offering a free download or coupon
  • clicks on the link to get the offer
  • arrives on your website landing page (a dedicated web page for this offer only)
  • provides their email in exchange for the freebie
  • receives the lead generator freebie and begins receiving your emails in their Inbox

From Pinterest:

  • a follower sees a gorgeous photo or infographic you’ve pinned
  • clicks on the pin to learn more
  • clicks on the link included in the pin description
  • arrives on your website landing page (a dedicated web page for this offer only)
  • provides their email in exchange for the freebie
  • receives the lead generator freebie and begins receiving your emails in their Inbox

Continue to post regularly to your social networks to nurture those relationships.  You’re now adding the email marketing component to ensure you reach them in case they have seen you on Instagram  or LinkedIn in a while.

This is an approach I’ve been recommending for years, but in 2014 it will be mandatory to implement to get results.  Otherwise, your marketing won’t generate the return on your investment (ROI) you need.

2.  Expand Online Marketing Beyond Facebook

Too many business owners focus solely on Facebook for their marketing.  While you can continue to do that in 2014, you will need to laser-focus on getting higher engagement (which Facebook artificially skews in favor of plain status updates), or you’ll need to begin to advertise.

You can achieve massive results with simple Facebook ads (January’s bonus webinar teaches you how).  How much?  How does 900x your fan base reach sound?

If you don’t plan on advertising in 2014, then you’ll need to expand your online marketing beyond Facebook alone.  Don’t abandon it; instead, add a second social network that provides the biggest opportunity for you.

Not sure what that is?  My Social Media Strategy class teaches you which marketing platforms offer the most potential for your business.

If you’re concerned about how much time it will take to use another social network on a consistent basis, I’ve got you covered.  The 15-Minute-a-Day Social Media System webinar teaches you how to promote your business online efficiently. You won’t get sucked into memes, videos or vacation photos, and your eyes won’t get bleary from looking at computer screen too long. 🙂

3.  Measure What’s Working for You

When’s the last time you analyzed your Google Analytics?

Your Facebook Insights?

Your YouTube Insights?

Anyone? Anyone?

I completely understand.  I’m totally not a numbers person.  But in business, you have to be. Otherwise you won’t be IN business for long.

In 2014, it’s critical that you begin measuring the impact of your marketing.  You don’t have time or budget to waste on underperforming marketing campaigns.

Instead, you need to identify what worked well for your business in 2013, do more of it, improve it, and “beat a dead horse”.  The web’s audience is so vast that you don’t need to worry about doing too much of the same thing.  People rarely see every single post or article you write.

So if your best marketing campaign was a coupon to fill seats on a slow night in your restaurant — continue that.  Now think of how you can improve upon it.  What about a frequent diner card? An evening with the chef? Think about how you can provide something similar, yet different, to continue to motivate your buyer’s interest.

4.  Look for Opportunities Others are Missing

Online marketing will be more challenging in 2014, which requires you to be smarter and more focused about the way you promote.

What opportunities are you missing?  What can you do that your competition isn’t?

Here’s one:  YouTube videos.  This is still the BIGGEST missed opportunity for small businesses and has been for the past three years.

How about you? Have you recorded a YouTube video yet?  If not (or if you want to improve), the YouTube 101 class and Visual Social Media webinar here at SMOC teach you how to get started.  If you don’t want to be in front of the camera, the webinar reveals how you can hire someone to do a whiteboard video or something similar on a budget.

How Will You Update Your Online Marketing Plan in 2014?

Online marketing evolves at a rapid pace, and you can easily feel like you’re not keeping up with all the latest changes.  Don’t feel like you need to join every new social network that comes along.  Incorporate these four tactics into your online marketing strategy and you’ll definitely see better results in the coming year.

Which tactics will you be using to update your marketing plan in 2014?

Dec 11

18 Effective Tactics to Boost Your Facebook Reach

By Maria Peagler

18 Tactics to Beat Declining Facebook Reach

Facebook now admits that fewer and fewer people see your posts

Facebook finally admitted what most page owners already know: organic reach (not paid) is dropping. Advertising Age magazine offered this article about it here:

The plummet in post reach began when Facebook went public, and worsened in September of this year when they changed their algorithm. While this is bad news for most businesses, SMOC members are covered! You have many resources here to overcome this challenge, and I’ll be offering a webinar in January for Highly Targeted Facebook Ads on a Budget.

  1. How a Solopreneur Gets 200% Facebook Reach – without Ads
  2. Facebook Engagement Secrets
  3. 5-Minute Facebook Marketing Plan
  4. Three Critical Elements for Facebook Engagement 
  5. Posting Photos for Facebook Fan Engagement
  6. Measure your Facebook Engagement with Insights
  7. Schedule Your Facebook Posts for Maximum Fan Reach
  8. How to Guarantee Your Facebook Fans See Your Posts 
  9. Get Fans to Take Action Directly from Your Facebook Timeline Cover
  10. Develop a Lead Generation for Your Facebook Page 
  11. Create a Custom Tab to Get Facebook Leads Delivered to Your Inbox
  12. Capture Fan’s Email Addresses in Facebook
  13. Beat Facebook’s New Algorithm to Reach More Fans
  14. A Baker’s Dozen Tactics to Monetize Your Facebook Fans
  15. Video Makeover of a Facebook Business Page to Get More Sales
  16. Small Business Case Studies Using Facebook
  17. Effective Facebook Ads
  18. Running FB Ads on a Budget
Social Media Case Studies for Small Business
Sep 09

Why Large-Brand Case Studies Don’t Work for Small Business

By Maria Peagler

social media cases studies small business

If you’ve been staying abreast of how brands use social media, you’ll hear some well-known companies mentioned repeatedly: Dell, Virgin, Starbucks, Ford, Amazon, Zappos and more.

Which is fabulous if you’re a large business: you can take a look at what other mega-brands are doing and simply adapt their strategies to your organization’s style.

But small business is left wondering: “Can I make those same strategies work for me?”

If you listen to the authors of those case studies, they’ll assure you that “Yes! You just scale them for your business!”

Baloney. Those large-brand case studies won’t work for your business. You don’t have the manpower, budget, or agency resources the Coca-Cola’s of the world do.

Small business needs their own case studies. Fortunately, here at SMOC, you’ll get them in abundance. Here are a baker’s dozen to learn from:

Here are the same case studies, in list format:

Apr 01

3 Simple Mistakes You’re Making with Your Email Marketing and How to Solve Them for Easy Wins

By Maria Peagler

This is one in a three-part series on email marketing. You can find each post in the series here:

Part I: How to Combine Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Part II: Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business
Part III: 3 Mistakes You’re Making with Email Marketing

email wins thumbnailWelcome to Part III of my Email Marketing Mini-Course.  Part I focused on simple how-to’s you could put to work immediately to get started with an email marketing provider.  Part II explained the most popular email marketing tools, their advantages and disadvantages, and gave you action items to get started.

In Part III, we’ll look at the most common mistakes business owners make with email marketing and how you can avoid those for easy wins to your marketing campaign.

Mistake #1:  Still Using Gmail, Yahoo, or Hotmail as Your Email Marketing Tool

I’m dumbfounded at how many business professionals are still using their personal email providers to connect with potential clients en masse.  Not using an email marketing tool specifically designed to reach Inboxes makes you look unprofessional and is a huge time-waster.  Here’s why:

Email marketing providers like MailChimp and Constant Contact are trusted by major email programs like Gmail, Yahoo, and Earthlink, so your emails have a much higher deliverability rate.  Meaning, if you’re still using Gmail to send out a an email to a group, your message is probably in everyone’s SPAM folders.

But, you don’t know that, do you?  Because regular email doesn’t provide you with any statistics on who your email reaches, whether they opened it, if they clicked on anything in the email, or if they visited your website.  By using an email marketing tool, you get all those stats and more.  You can evaluate each email you send, how effective it is, adapt and improve future emails based on the data you’re getting.

Otherwise, you might as well be throwing darts at a board.

Solution #1

If you haven’t yet, sign up for a free trial of an email marketing tool.  Read Part II of this mini-course to review different email providers and select the one that will be easiest for you to start with.

Mistake #2:  Crafting Emails Too Dependent on Images to Convey Your Message

It’s tempting to use those fancy email templates that come with your email marketing tool:  they reflect the seasons, can do coupons, and make you look uber-professional.  Only problem?  Most email programs automatically turn images off, so less than half of your audience even sees those fancy graphics.  Here’s the template I used a couple of years ago:  sure it looks nice, if you have images turned on:

email template

Here’s a perfect example of an email that relies too heavily on graphics from They’ve made the entire email message contingent on seeing the images, so it makes no sense without them.

email images turned off

What about your primary call-to-action (CTA)?  If you’re asking people to click through to your blog using a graphic button no one can see, you won’t get any responses.

Solution #2

Use a plain template for your marketing emails.  Feel free to include images, but don’t make them crucial to the email so that you can’t understand the content without them.  Here’s an example of my emails now: this is what the message looks like with images turned off..  I make sure you can’t miss my CTA:  I add it as a big graphic button, but if you can’t see it, I also have it in large colored text.

email images off

Here’s the same email, but with images turned on.  You can see my logo, a thumbnail image of my topic, my CTA button, and my photo at the bottom.  But you none of them are necessary to understand my message or act on it:

images on

Bonus Tip:  Make your font large in your marketing emails.  Over 40% of email is now read on a mobile device, and large type will make the email easier to read on a Lilliputian screen.

Mistake #3:  Including Too Many Ideas in a Single Message

It’s tempting to catch everyone up on what you’ve been doing, special offers, tips, and your favorite chili recipe, but resist jam-packing your message with too much.  Here’s that same message from #2, and look how many different topics it contains:

email template

I’m bombarding my readers with too much, and confused buyers don’t purchase.  My new emails focus on only one topic, and offer only one action readers can take:  click on the link or the button:

images on

Does it work?  Absolutely!  I’ve increased my click-through-rate (CTR) by over 400% by simplifying my emails to include only one main idea.  My readers respect the fact that I get to the point quickly and make it easy for them to learn more.

Solution #3

Keep your marketing emails short and focused on one goal.  Give readers only one action to take in the email, and you’ll see higher CTRs.

What has been your best takeaway from this mini-course on email marketing?  Let me know in the comments!

See Part I of this series here.

See Part II of this series here.

This is one in a three-part series on email marketing. You can find each post in the series here:

Part I: How to Combine Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Part II: Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business
Part III: 3 Mistakes You’re Making with Email Marketing


Email marketing solutions
Mar 18

Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business

By Maria Peagler

This is one in a three-part series on email marketing. You can find each post in the series here:

Part I: How to Combine Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Part II: Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business
Part III: 3 Mistakes You’re Making with Email Marketing

Email marketing solutionsLast week I shared with you how critical email marketing is to any small business, as well as how I’ve perfected a solution that sends me leads everyday by combining social media and email marketing.

This week you’ll learn about email marketing solutions:  a line up of products and how to evaluate which one is best for your needs.

Why is email marketing essential?

Count how many times do you check email everyday? Now tally how many times do you use social media everyday?

Which number is bigger?  Bet it’s the email.

That’s why you need to use email marketing:  it allows you to contact your target audience in their Inbox.  You don’t have to rely solely on Facebook, Twitter, or whatever social network is king to reach your fans.  Social media is great for creating relationships –>  email marketing takes that relationship one step further (closer to buying).

Which Email Marketing Tool ROCKS

What is my recommendation for the perfect email marketing tool?

The one you can stick with for the long haul.  

While many offer a free trial, it’s worth taking the time to evaluate each tool and how easy it is to set up and use.  Here are the factors I recommend you evaluate when deciding on which tool to use:

  • How easy is it to import my existing contacts?
  • How easy is to get started?
  • What is the quality of their online help and tech support?
  • What reports do they offer?
  • Can I set up an autoresponder (you create a series of emails to be sent out automatically every x days)
  • Do they require double optin? (This is a big flaw, in my opionion.  Double optin requires people to not only optin to your list, but respond again to an email that they want to receive your emails.)
  • How easily can you segment your lists and how? (group your subscribers into smaller lists)
  • What is their average open rate?
  • What is their average click-through-rate? (CTR)

Notice what I didn’t mention?  Cost.

It’s worth the investment to pay for a quality email marketing tool, because switching is a MAJOR headache that requires more time than it should.  It will also cost you subscribers.

How many?  I switched last year from iContact to Aweber and lost 75% of my list. Ouch.

But, it wasn’t all bad.  I was getting a much higher CTR with less subscribers, so in the end, I was no longer paying for dead weight on my list:  those people who never read or clicked on my emails anyway.

Here are the major solutions and my experience with each:

Constant Contact

Constant Contact is the big player in the market. They put a big emphasis on customer outreach and support, but frankly, they have to, because their product can be challenging to use.  I tried using Constant Contact as my first email marketing solution, and it didn’t work well with Mac contact lists.  So, it was out for me.

I have used it with client’s email marketing, and I always found it clunky to use.  Their support is great, but I don’t want to have to resort to support everytime I use their product.


  • Huge variety of templates
  • Variety of methods to get subscribers, from regular optins from a web form to text-to-subscribe
  • Great tech support

  • Social media apps for getting subscribers via your social networks


  • Challenging to set up and use
  • Doesn’t work well with Mac contact lists


iContact is a small company out of North Carolina who has been acquired by Vocus, a serious PR and marketing solutions company.  I started out using iContact because they worked easily with a Mac subscriber list and had great support.  I used their tool for years and would have loved to stick with it, but I outgrew what they offered.


  • Easy to import subscriber list
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Outstanding technical support


  • Limited segmentation ability
  • Limited methods for acquiring subscribers


Mailchimp is growing quickly and becoming one of the top solutions.  I haven’t used MailChimp personally, since I was already using iContact when they came on the scene.  They are a highly popular choice because they are free up to 2,000 subscribers.


  • Start for free up to 2,000 subscribers
  • Easy to set up and use
  • Social media apps for getting subscribers via your social networks


  • No support for free option
  • Templates are limited


Aweber is the choice of most serious internet marketers, because they have a double-optin process that almost guarantees deliverability to your subscribers.  They are a robust solution, but not the easiest to use.  This is for more advanced email marketers that need powerful features not offered in other tools.


  • Excellent deliverability
  • Ability to segment list based on subscriber clicks
  • Social media apps for getting subscribers via your social networks


  • Double-optin recommended, not required
  • Only segmentation ability is via subscriber clicks

Your Action Item

If you aren’t already using email marketing, it’s time to seriously consider it.  You know I’m a fan of starting small, so begin by simply evaluating your options.  Visit the websites for each email marketing tool and see what they have to offer.  Which tool feels like a good fit?

Call their sales team and ask questions.  How helpful are they?

Sign up for a free trial and try importing your contacts.  How easy or difficult is it?

Create a basic email:  don’t feel like you need a fancy template:  pick a plain one and start there.  How comfortable are you using the tool and sending an email to your subscribers?

Once you’ve taken the tools for a test drive, make your final decision.  Commit to a regular email schedule, and reach out to your subscribers on a consistent basis.

See Part I of this series here.

What’s Next?

Next week I’ll offer easy wins to help you see results from your email marketing right away.  Feel free to share your email questions, experiences, and advice in the comments!

This is one in a three-part series on email marketing. You can find each post in the series here:

Part I: How to Combine Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Part II: Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business
Part III: 3 Mistakes You’re Making with Email Marketing


Mar 11

How to Combine Social Media & Email Marketing to Capture Leads You’re Missing

By Maria Peagler

This is one in a three-part series on email marketing. You can find each post in the series here:

Part I: How to Combine Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Part II: Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business
Part III: 3 Mistakes You’re Making with Email Marketing

email post thumbnailLast year I was speaking at my local Chamber of Commerce meeting when I asked how many businesses were using email marketing.

In a crowded room, I saw less than 3 hands go up.

Why was I asking about email marketing, when I own a social media training company?

Because it’s the net that catches your fish before it swims away.  Think of social media as your favorite lake, your free report (or other valuable giveaway)  as the bait, and email marketing is what reels your leads in.

How many people visit your website, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, Pinterest boards, and YouTube channel every month?

Studies show most will never return.  That was a missed business opportunity, wasn’t it?

Considering email marketing NOW?

How to Use Email Marketing & Social to Generate Leads

When I began using email marketing, I made it too complicated. I’ve learned much over the years about what makes a successful email marketing campaign, and I’ll share with you what I’ve discovered as the keys to success.

If you’ve never used email marketing before, keep the process simple and start small:  sign up for a free trial of a product like iContact, Constant Contact or MailChimp.  Ask colleagues for recommendations and simply try out the products.  See what feels most intuitive to you.

The process boils down to three major parts:

  1. Get Subscribers (these are your Leads)
  2. Develop Content
  3. Create Sign-Up Forms

Get Subscribers on Your List

The quality of your list determines how well your subscribers will respond to your messages.  Try growing your list by giving away an iPad and you’ll get lots of people who want the prize but never read your emails.  So you’re paying for dead weight on your list.

Buying or renting a list from a company is the wrong way to go.  If you wouldn’t like your name being rented out to a company for marketing purposes, don’t do it yourself.  It’s a great way to alienate all those subscribers you’ve worked hard to gain.

The best way I’ve found to generate a targeted list of motivated leads (the ones that buy!) is to offer a free item for joining my list.  I give away infographics or a free class in exchange for  their email address.  I do this on my website and on every social network I use.  I use each social network to its own advantage:  on Facebook I create a custom tab for the free offer, on Pinterest I develop a board of free classes, on LinkedIn I offer a video in my gallery, and on YouTube I produce videos that send traffic to pages on my website where visitors can optin to my email list.

email marketing social media

I’ve created a system that sends leads to me everyday, without me having to constantly chase sales.  They come to me.  Last month I got almost 200 leads using these tactics.

Develop Content

Are you wondering WHERE you’re going to get all the content for these email campaigns?  If you have a blog, use social networks, and offline marketing, it’s easy to feel “talked out.”  How much does one person have to say?

It took me years to figure out a system that didn’t require me to recreate a masterpiece everytime I sent out my email newsletter.  In fact, my system works so well, that the day my newsletter goes out is always the best traffic day for my website.

Yes, you read that correctly.  My email marketing drives a lot of traffic to my website.  My peak traffic days are the ones that include my email marketing visitors.

email drives website traffic

I’ve created anticipation among my subscribers by developing a schedule and letting them know when they can expect my newsletter.  Each issue offers meaty tips & strategies that trains them to open my newsletters immediately.

Create Sign-Up Forms

Once you create your list and have the content ready to send out, you can create the sign-up forms to put on your website or social network.  Each email marketing provider handles this differently, and some are better than others.  Some have sign-up forms already created that you can use, some have widgets you can place on your blog, and others have apps for Facebook.  This is definitely one of the questions to ask their sales department when you’re shopping around.

custom tab infographic

Don’t focus on making a beautiful sign-up form.  The important items to get right here are:

  • make it easy
  • make it clear
  • make it obvious

Make it easy by keeping the form fields to a minimum.  Name and email address are all you really need.  If you start asking for company name, address, telephone, what they’re most interested in, etc., you’ve lost people in a sea of complexity.  Why do you need all that to download a report?

Make it clear what they get and when in exchange for giving you their email address.  Otherwise you’ll be getting a flood of emails in your Inbox asking, “Where’s my free report?  I just signed up for it 10 seconds ago and it’s not in my Inbox yet!”

Make it obvious where they need to sign up and what they need to provide.  Don’t make people work to figure out where your sign-up form is.  Make it stand out by using large fonts, clear colors, and a button that says what they’ll get instead of “Submit.”

What’s Next?

Next week I’ll share solutions that make creating your first (or improved) email marketing campaign smart, effective, and easy.  Feel free to share your email questions, experiences, and advice in the comments!

See Part II of this series here.

This is one in a three-part series on email marketing. You can find each post in the series here:

Part I: How to Combine Email Marketing and Social Media Marketing
Part II: Email Marketing Solutions for Small Business
Part III: 3 Mistakes You’re Making with Email Marketing


May 09

May Success Story #1: Margaret Travis of Eazy Peazy Quilts

By Maria Peagler

Updated Jan 2013.

I’m featuring student success stories, and we’re starting off with Margaret Travis of Eazy Peazy quilts. Margaret is part of the 3 Billion dollar quilt industry, and she designs accessories – handbags, pincushions, eyeglass cases, and specialty items for those in wheelchairs and walkers.

Margaret began here as a student in Facebook 101, revamping her Facebook page to be colorful, showcasing her beautiful designs, building a community and engaging her Eazy-Peazy fans. She’s built custom tabs to Welcome visitors to her page, and she has a separate tab for her YouTube videos as well.

Margaret focuses her email marketing on B2B, targeting quilt shops, helping them showcase her Eazy Peazy patterns to generate more sales for their shops. In Margaret’s Mastermind Consulting session, we discussed making it easier to for shops to order her patterns by linking directly to distributor webpages offering her products. Amazon has made 1-Click shopping the standard – so I suggested making it as easy as possible for shop owners to buy from her. She also integrates it into her Facebook page, letting people know when a new issue is coming out.

Margaret also took YouTube 101, making an outstanding video showcasing her Twistin’ Diamonds bag. Quilts and quilted accessories, like many products, show up better in video than they do in photographs. In a simple 30-second video, Margaret demos the features of the bag which shows up beautifully in her video!

So where has all this taken Margaret and her Eazy Peazy pattern line?

  • Increased her Facebook fans by 700%
  • Featured designer at the grand opening of Cottontail Quilts, a new retail quilt shop opening in Kennesaw, Georgia, where she wowed visitors and she sold out of many of her products.
  • Featured designer at Quilter’s Warehous
  • She’s constantly on the road making guest appearances at local quilt shops. She’s a one-woman boost to the local economy!
  • Showchased her patterns at the wholesale spring Quilt Market in Kansas City, where she engaged quilt shop owners and wowed them with her polish and style.

Well done Margaret!  I’m proud of your success and that could be part of it.

Want to be showcased here as a student success story? Register for a class on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, or get the best value with an Unlimited Class Pass, and I could be telling your amazing success story here.


May 26

Savvy B2B and B2C Email Marketing Campaigns

By Maria Peagler

Which email marketing strategy is more important:  B2B or B2C?  Both!  If you’re doing only one or the other, it’s time to start focusing your message to each group.

Email marketing is especially effective for B2B and B2C because you can send a targeted message to each segment, versus using a website, blog, or social network, where you’re really courting both audiences.

B2C Channel. Think about what email newsletters you look forward to.  I immediately open the ones that help me, either personally or professionally.  I want to learn, be entertained, and get a sense of the person behind the newsletter, but I never want a direct sales pitch.  Sure, have a call to action, but don’t blast it in the opening paragraph.

I include a few different short articles that link back to my website, each offering a takeaway for my readers.  I include my contact information, my social network links, and I tell clients if they have a question I’ll respond the same day.  I always get a response from that. Don’t be afraid to let your B2C audience know a little about you personally:  I send a recipe in my quilting newsletter and often hold contests for free fabric.  People love those and I know they make the recipes because they tell me how they turn out!

B2B Channel.  For business clients, it boils down to three essential elements:

  1. how your product increases their revenues
  2. how easy it is to find your product
  3. where to buy your product

Make it super-easy to to find and order your products by including links to distributors or other wholesale channels.  I recommend to my clients that they link to the actual page on the distributor’s website that lists their products, because those sites are often cumbersome to navigate and you want to make ordering Amazon-easy (one-click).

Let clients know any sales tools you have available for their reps, include photos of displays other businesses have done with your product, and support them in any way you can.  Let them know if you do product training, any sales or discounts you have, and be a sales partner with them.

Media Channel.  I also target a third audience: the media.  I let them know anytime a publication does a review, I get an award, or other newsworthy event I think they’d be interested in.  I also point to my website media room, which includes press releases, short articles, and photos of me and my products, all for their use.  I often get requests from vendors and the media for articles because I’m on their go-to list for people who can produce something in a rush.  You want to make it that easy for them to cover your business.

Don’t overload audience with too many email messages:  once per week or month is enough, and only you know your business well enough to understand which is appropriate.  Ultimately, ask yourself the question:  how often do I want to receive these, and there lies your answer.

Next time I’ll cover the biggest trend in email marketing, which is mobile.  An exploding number of emails are now being read on mobile devices, and I’ll tell you how to make yours mobile-friendly.



Mar 18

5 Ways to Gain Fans by Customizing Your Facebook Business Page

By Maria Peagler

Updated Jan 2013.

Get Informed

Having a Facebook business page isn’t enough, even for a small business:  you need to give it a custom look to really get results:


 Why?  First impressions mean everything, especially online, where people’s attention spans are easily diverted by cute YouTube videos, Farmville, or the latest quiz on your friends.  You need to grab people’s attention and keep it.  But how can you do that in a minimum of time?  You need to get back to running your business, so here’s how you can get maximum results with minimum effort:

  1. Create a compelling Timeline. Shown above, the Timeline is what people see when they visit your Facebook business page.  It’s essential to get them to LIKE your business page.
  2. Feed your blog content automatically. Not everything you post here has to be original.  You can import your blog posts automatically, creating far less work for you or your staff.  It’s an easy way to give people a taste of your deepest content channel, and you can still directly add shorter status updates.  I’ve used several third party apps for importing RSS feeds and my favorite is RSS Graffiti.
  3. Use the four tabs at the bottom of your Timeline to offer specials to visitors to your page.  Notice I offer a free class, video tutorials, and an infographic in those boxes?  I want to be able to offer something of value to visitors so they’ll remember me.  How?  I capture their email address and send them the free tools.  #4 tells you how to do this.
  4. Add an email sign-up box to one of your tabs. Give people the opportunity to sign up for your offers without ever having to leave your page.  This is one of the best ways to capture people’s contact information and ensure they receive your marketing message.  Even if people Like your business page, that doesn’t guarantee they’ll see your content on their News Feed.  If they sign up for your offer, you can contact them directly, outside of Facebook. You can add an email sign-up to your tab using an email marketing program like Constant Contact or MailChimp, or use TabSite, a free tool I recommend for creating custom tabs.
  5. Display your presentations and videos directly in Facebook. The more value you can give to people, the longer they’ll stay on your page and Like it.  Got a great PowerPoint presentation you’ve uploaded to Slideshare?  Recorded incredible YouTube videos?  You can add these to your Facebook page so people can see them right in the social network.  Sure, you can post links to them, but eventually those will be replaced by your newer posts on Timeline.  Give them a permanent home so you can earn customers’ trust.

Go Do It

Where can you learn how to do these tactics?  Register for Facebook 102:  Customizing an Existing Facebook Page for lessons in how to do each of these techniques and far more. I list ways to get Fans every month in the Community Forum, and I hope you’ll join us at the family!

Oct 11

Starting Small with Social Media

By Maria Peagler

Social media can be intimidating to small business owners.  All that new technology:  who has time to learn it all and keep up with it?  You’re too busy managing your inventory, your employees, payroll, and taxes.

It doesn’t have to be that complicated.  In fact, it can be downright simple.  If you start small.  So here’s a totally free and easy way to start small in social media:  use your email signature.

You use email every day, and you can advertise, for free, to every client you come into contact with, just by using your email signature.  Many people don’t use their signature at all, or if they do, they don’t ever change it.  That’s a mistake.

Use it to create a brand identity.  Include your company’s logo and tagline.  Include your address, telephone number, and website address.  In fact, here’s mine:

Maria Peagler
SOCIAL MEDIA CLASSES for Your Small Business Needs
p: 770-891-2852
f: 706-268-1363

Willow Ridge Media Logo

If you have a sale coming up or are introducing a new product, let your customers know about.  A special event?  Announce it.

If you have a Facebook page or email newsletter, give your customers the web URLs so they can sign up for it.

You get the picture.  The options are really endless.  I’ve used my own email signature for years, and I have over 20 of them I use interchangeably.  In fact, I wrote an ebook about it for authors.   But it’s not just for authors:  anyone with a small business can use the same techniques and be super-effective with it.

If you want to super-charge your email signature with social media features, try out Wisestamp.

As always, if you have any questions, feel free to contact me.  Find my contact info in the sidebar at right.