5 email marketing best practices to skyrocket your open, share and click rates

Email marketing is still one of the top most effective digital marketing techniques, according to a recent survey of small business owners.

If you’d agree, and you have an email list you’re regularly marketing to, than please accept my pat on the back!

You’re much farther ahead than so many business owners at staying in touch with existing and future customers alike.

As us marketers are so fond of saying “the money is in your list”.

Because, if you haven’t contacted your customer in 90 days, they’re not your customer.

Here are 5 best practices to help you get the money out of your list; increasing your email open and click rates.

Use your customer’s name. Repeatedly.

Your name is your favorite word of all time.

And it’s the same with your customers. Make your emails stand out from the never ending stream of emails in your customer’s inbox.

Most email marketing software companies, like Mailchimp, have a “shortcode” that you can use in the first paragraph of your email to pull your customer’s first name from your list and display it in the email you’re sending.

Mailchimp’s shortcode is [F*NAME] – use it, and watch your open rate soar.

Refine your email subject.

Watch buzzfeed.com and the front page of Reddit for trending topics. You’ll notice a pattern among so many top stories on these sites. They pique your curiosity.

Try creating curiosity in your customer, by creating an enticing headline that promises answers and solutions…as soon as they open your email.
For bonus points, use your customer’s name right in your email subject headline.

Use the Social Sharing Options.

You cannot receive what you do not ask for.

Asking for likes and shares on social media is a great way to get, you guessed it, shares and likes on social media.

Make it easy for your newsletter subscribers by taking advantage of the sharing modules provided with most email marketing providers.

Add in a little blurb explaining why someone should share that is in line with what they care about.

Recently we devised a share-line for a niche women’s boutique that was promoting an invite only event.

We crafted a line that was along the lines of “Don’t keep this secret to yourself; share with a friend. “ to appeal to the woman’s pride at having the inside scoop in a coveted industry.

Links, Links and More Links.

If your newsletter isn’t linking back to your website, it’s time to change that, like, yesterday.

With email marketing’s sophisticated tracking tools, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to see who’s engaged with your brand.

Tracking the amount of link clicks, as well as the click-ees themselves is a savvy way of determining what content appeals to who.

Create links in the text, the image as well as the headline. Make it easy for your subscribers to get to your website.

Have a call to action.

What goal do you have for your email campaign?

Whether it’s clicks to your website, calls to your location or social shares, you have to be explicit about what you want.
Make it easy for your subscribers to do what you ask by making the call to action the most visually prominent part of your newsletter.

I really like Mailchimp’s big orange button, for an unmistakable call to action.

5 Proven Ways To Increase Blog Post Engagement


blog post engagement

1. Evaluate your blog post’s headline.

Is it catchy enough?

If you’re struggling with catchy headlines or coming up with something that rolls off the tongue or piques your viewers’ interest, go to BuzzFeed.com and check out some of the headlines there for inspiration.

Is it Catchy Enough?

(above- Buzzfeed.com encourages readers to spend hours on their site, clicking headings that pique our curiosity)

You want to pique reader interest so ensure your headlines play on our curiosity.

Pay a lot of attention to your headlines. About 50% of the effort you’re putting into your post, you should be putting into your headlines.

2. Pay attention to your formatting.

Make sure that your posts are easy to scan, not necessarily read.

  1. Use short sentences.
  2. Use lots of white space
  3. Summarize key points in bold headings
  4. Bold key points
  5. Italicize sparingly
  6. Use bullets and numbering
  7. Provide at least 3 links to resources you mention in the post

Pay attention to your formatting

(this post from LinkedIn has all the right ingredients to encourage me to keep reading)

3. Use images and multimedia.

Historically, posts that are shared the most are the ones that have up to 15 images.

So at least use one image. If you can include a video as well, absolutely go for it.

People want to see photos and they want to see videos more than they want to read a big wall of text.

The most successful posts used images to show someone exactly how to do what they’re describing in the post, not just what to do.

Tips on using images:

  1. Take pictures using your smartphone or screenshots
  2. Pay for stock images
  3. Use free images found on the internet – search Creative Commons licence on Flikr.com for example.

HOT TIP on images:

See the eyeball heatmap image below. For any of you unfamiliar with a eyeball heat map, it tracks the amount of time people spend looking at various parts of a webpage. The longest times are red, followed by orange, yellow and then green.

According to KISS metrics, having an image of either a baby or a lady looking at the text you want someone to focus on, will encourage them to do so.

Hot tips on images

4. Longer blog posts are actually better

Recent studies show that posts over a thousand words are getting shared more and more often because they provide more value.

Instead of just skimming the surface of your topic, dive a little deeper. Provide a little bit more information and details to your audience and you will get rewarded.

5. Ask for what you want.

The very last thing a lot of folks forget to do is ask for interaction.

Ask for people to share your post with their network. Ask for comments and you will receive!

That’s your One Minute Tip. If you found this valuable, please consider sharing with your network. And if you don’t ever want to miss a tip, subscribe to my YouTube channel for weekly tips in your inbox. Thanks so much for watching.

Video is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l9RXALzJyY

Improve your website with these 3 things every customer wants

Hey folks! Welcome to your one-minute tip! Today I wanted to be inspired by the Port of San Francisco, which is where I am. You can see the beautiful Bay Bridge behind me to talk to you about really easy updates that you can make to your website to get better customer satisfaction.

1. Make it easy to contact you:

So the very first thing is to add your phone number or a large Contact Us button to the very top of your website on every single page so customers don’t have to hunt and search to contact you.

For an intermediate step, you can also add a live chat on your website which you can sync to your smartphone to connect with your website visitors in real time.

website marketing

2. Post your hours of operation:

Especially important for brick and mortar businesses,  add your hours of operation either to the very top of your website or at least to your contact page. A lot of people are searching for your hours of operation and you don’t want to leave them frustrated.

3. Help people find you with a map

For those of you with a local business or store front, be sure to add a Google map so people can get directions and find out exactly where your business is located.

That’s your One Minute Tip. Thanks for watching. And if you found this valuable, please consider sharing with your network and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel and never miss a tip. Thank you.

How to market your business – using only your smart phone

Today’s question comes from Joy who is wondering,

How do I market my business online just using my smart phone? I don’t have a laptop yet.


Joy, that’s a great question. I know you run a jewelry business – congratulations on that!

So what you want to do is change your thinking: You’re not at a disadvantage not having a laptop. In fact, your smart phone has more power than laptops from 10 years ago.

Step One for Mobile Marketing: Create as much content as you can

Start creating multimedia using your phone; think photos and videos. Some ideas for creating content could be:

  • You can take pictures before, during and after your jewelry making process.
  • You can take photos of people wearing your jewelry.
  • Small videos on how to repair jewelry.
  • Videos or images of how to wear jewelry- with what clothes, shoes etc.

One of the biggest obstacle people face typically with web marketing is creating visual content and you’ve got all that power in the palm of your hands.

Step Two for Mobile Marketing: Be present where your customers are

The second thing is setting up accounts where people are going to see your wonderful content.

Instagram, Pinterest & Facebook are three really great accounts to get for your business.

Download those apps and start uploading your content there all the time.

Instagram is rolling out a “Buy Now” button. Facebook already has one and Pinterest also has that coming out in the States and hopefully soon will be in Canada as well.

Takeaway: You can start selling your products directly on these social media networks.

It’s very important, once you’ve got those profiles set up on both those accounts, to “optimize” them so to generate sales for you.

Some ways to optimize your profiles could be:

  • Indicate in your profile how people can actually purchase your product.
  • How they can contact you
  • Your shipping and return policies.

smartphone marketing

Step three for mobile marketing: Create your community.

And my last tip is, go out and engage with people strategically.

So perhaps fashion boutiques or people who do make up. Or anybody that has the same customer base that you would want for yourself.

And also use hashtags.

Use “#YYJ” for the local Victoria hashtag. #jewelry, #fashion, #style, etc. Experiment with hashtags to see which ones draw the most likes and comments on your photos.

That’s your One Minute Tip.

If you found this valuable, please consider sharing with your network. And if you never want to miss a tip, subscribe to my YouTube channel and you’ll get a tip a week in your inbox.

Thanks so much for watching!

The New Instagram Desktop Experience – Three Strategies For Your Business

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Recently, Instagram added search to its desktop experience. This update is not just great for finding the best cat and puppy photos, it’s AMAZING for helping you market your business on Instagram. The following three strategies take advantage of the new update and will generate new and engaged followers of your business which could lead to new leads and sales.

1. Like and Comment on Keyword Hashtags

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Hashtags are widely used on Instagram so users can easily find similar or themed content. Consider keywords that relate to your business or that represent the target demographic of your product or service. Once you start searching, Instagram will show you how many posts have been tagged with a specific keyword and this can help you narrow down which keywords are more popular than others. Now it’s time for favouriting and commenting. I recommend a minimum of 100 outgoing favourites and 25 comments per day in order to achieve maximum effectiveness with engagement. Don’t over think your comments, keep it simple, for example “Great photo!” or “Love this!” and consider adding some emoji! Remember that this activity needs to be daily as Instagram users are always posting new photos (over 70M per day).

2. Like and Comment on Posts in a Specific Geographic Location

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This feature is undoubtedly the most beneficial for businesses. Now you can easily see photos in a specific geographic location. Simply type in the City name and the search box will suggest that location. Interacting with customers in your area will be the most effective way to generate leads and sales. Try to engage with local posts in a fun and friendly way and don’t hesitate to add a local flare to your comments. You should start to build relationships with local Instagram’ers and this in turn will help you gain a loyal following.

3. Research Competitors and Industry Influencers

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With the new update it’s now even easier to research competitors and industry influencers. In order to stay on top of your industry, you need to know whats working and not working for your competitors. Some things to consider would be which of their photos are receiving the most engagement and why? Are videos performing better than photos? Considering how many people are following them, are they receiving a high, medium or low level of engagement? Are there any promotions going on that you could match or beat? These questions will help you focus your strategy on Instagram and start leading the pack. Another way to get inspiration and for ideas on how great businesses use the platform, try researching some relevant industry influencers. These brands have larger marketing budgets for Instagram and can show you the most effective way to engage with your unique audience.

The 7 Step Guide to Managing Negative Customer Feedback: A case study in consumer fraud, social media & the power of reviews.

If you’ve ever been the recipient of a bad online review of your business, you may find yourself frustrated by the apparent lack of control we as entrepreneurs have over things being said about our business – especially if they’re not true.

What proactive steps can you take to protect your business, and how do you best handle a peer review gone wrong?

1. Adapt your mindset.

The worst thing you can do is tell yourself this article isn’t relevant to your business and click away.


We need to adapt in order to survive and thrive, and today’s consumers have more power than they’ve ever had to affect our success.
70%  of Canadians online trust consumer reviews. (BDC, 2013)
Negative sentiment can go viral, quickly – as exemplified by the Applebee’s social media nightmare – and can be very difficult to manage.
Understanding the change in buyer behaviour and accepting that it’s not going away, frees you up to take in the following information to help protect your business.

2. Get informed:

Increasingly Canadian consumers such as you and I, rely on the web to make our purchasing decisions.

social media

1. Canadians spend on average 2.5 hours a day online; on social media, watching videos, & researching products and services. ComScore, 2014
2. Nine out of 10 consumers claim to use their smartphone for pre-shopping activities BDC 2013
3. 70% of Canadians online trust consumer reviews. (BDC, 2013)
None of this is particularly surprising.
The widespread adoption of web connected smartphones is not a new phenomenon.
In fact many older and wiser of us lament the pervasive nature of these devices and their impact on social connection –  and more practically – our ability to walk down the street without literally running into people distracted by their smartphones.

social media
Beyond being a mildly irritating obstacle to efficient walking, this change in how we as a culture interact has widespread implications for today’s business owner.

The constantly connected state of today’s consumer – specifically – your customers – means your customers shape your brand’s reputation.

Customers and the public at large (reasonable and otherwise) can seriously impact your ability to acquire new customers and maintain your reputation.

3. Know that negative sentiment goes far beyond review sites:

You may have heard of “reputation management” in the context of managing reviews of your business, or even been approached by a less than integrity based business offering you positive reviews of your business, for a price.

But beyond the formal review channels, people can leave negative sentiments on your Facebook page, in response to a post on social media…and almost anywhere else on the web.

4. Start listening:

Google your business name to see what comes up. You may be surprised at the places it’s listed and what people are saying about your company.

If you are surprised, it’s a sign to implement some practices internally to start monitoring your company’s reputation.

You can either manually conduct a search regularly or implement an automated solution to alert you immediately of any new conversations about your business.

Here’s a handy list of 5 tools to help you monitor your online reputation from Social Media Examiner.

5. Address any and all reviews.

You may be tempted to ignore bad reviews or complaints, but believe it or not it makes you look worse if you don’t reply publicly.

Here are 5 tips to responding to reviews from Google My Business.

Tips for responding to reviews

Business owner responses allow you to build relationships with customers, but they’re also public. When replying to your customers, keep the following guidelines in mind:

  • Be nice and don’t get personal. This isn’t just a guideline–it’s also a good idea as a business owner. It’s difficult to win an argument with a frustrated customer, and you want to avoid burning bridges. Keep your responses useful, readable, and courteous. In addition, responses should comply with our local content policy.
  • Keep it short and sweet. Users are looking for useful and genuine responses, but they can easily be overwhelmed by a long response.
  • Thank your reviewers. Respond to happy reviewers when you have new or relevant information to share. You don’t need to thank every reviewer publicly, since each response reaches lots of customers, not just one.
  • Be a friend, not a salesperson. Your reviewers are already customers, so there’s no need to offer incentives or advertisements. Tell reviewers something new about your business, or share something they might not know from their first visit.

6. Go above & beyond:

The tone and speed of your response to a bad review is where you can really make or break your reputation.
In this CTV news clip, I was asked to comment on what appears to be a fraudulent sale of goods by a household brand.

This would never have become a news story if the response to the customer’s complaint on their facebook page hadn’t been a canned response to call their 1 800 number – where the customer didn’t get a response.
In the case studies above, with Winners & Applebees, both responses to the negative sentiment were woefully inadequate and appeared completely disingenuous.

Because customer sentiment can so powerfully and permanently affect your reputation, if you are in the wrong (like I believe Winners was ) you need to go above and beyond-
1.Get the customer’s information
2. Make an effort to get in touch with them right away.
3. Work to resolve the issue to their satisfaction
4. Once you get agreement on a solution, ask if the customer will then update their post with details on how you came through for them.
5. Going forward – work with your social media manager to create a policy for addressing unhappy customers in a way that shows you actually care.

7. Be proactive

By actively soliciting positive reviews- and incentivising your customers to do so, you can combat any negative and unfair reviews with a steady stream of positive reviews.

Copy and paste this templated email and send out to all your happy customers;  ( just replace the links with your Facebook & Google Plus page links before you send )

Dear customer,

Thank you so much for your business.

Please- tell us how we did!

Would you be so kind as to post a review for me on my Facebook page or my Google page?

I really appreciate you taking the time to give me your feedback!

Find your ideal customers on social media with these 3 tips

social media marketingToday we are going to answer Jeff’s question, who writes, “What are three tips for finding the right customers on social media?”

That’s a great question. And if you are wondering that yourself, keep reading for the answer.

Identify your ideal customers:

If you know who your right customers are, you’re two steps ahead of many of your competitors.

The next step is to typify them in an archetype or in a demographic.
So for example, maybe your customers are typically affluent women in their thirties and forties.

Now you have concrete data you can use to research what social networks that particular demographic uses the most.

In this case of our example, that would be Pinterest. Doing a little bit of market research in the beginning will help you create the bare bones of a social media strategy and save you a lot of hassle and time making mistakes through trial and error.

Identify target location:

The second thing to do to find your ideal customers on social media, is narrowing your target down to a geographic area. Again, this provides you with a concrete benchmark, from which you can conduct more market research.

Specifically, there are hashtags that are used for each specific geographic area. Do a little bit of research and find out which are the most popular ones for both your geographic location, as well as the interests of your demographic so you can capitalize on their interests by getting involved in conversations about trending topics and more.

Pay for it:

Another thing you can do to get in front of your ideal networks is advertise.
The social media networks we participate in have amazing data collected on all of us. Thus, they’ve got very specific demographic information available for you to advertise and get in front of an audience that maybe isn’t part of your existing community.

Solicit Reviews:

The last thing that you can do is solicit referrals and recommendations on all your social media properties by having people endorse you. Endorsements not only provide new customers with a level of trust that you’re a reputable business, but this activity also provides exposure to your recommender’s network, who are much more likely to buy from you than a total stranger.

How have you found your ideal customers on social media? Share with me in the comments below.

And, if you found this valuable, please consider sharing with your network!

You can also watch this one minute tip as well as others on our Youtube page!

3 Tips to Grow and Enrich Your LinkedIn Network

building-your-linkedin-networkHaving a strong LinkedIn network is very beneficial to your professional career. It can help you land a job, learn new things and make new connections that you never thought would be possible. Although many professionals have a LinkedIn profile, many are still not taking full advantage of the social network. The following are three proven ways to grow and enrich your network on LinkedIn:

1. Go to Events & Take People for Coffee (Add people in the moment)

The most fundamental way to grow your LinkedIn network is also the most old school, but going to events gives you a chance to meet unique individuals with many different backgrounds. Instead of bombing out random add requests on LinkedIn, make real human connections first, before adding anyone. Once you’ve made the initial interaction, consider taking the new connection for coffee. Even if the individual doesn’t work in your field, bring a list of random questions as there is still likely something to be learned or another networking opportunity may present itself. An under-utilized strategy for events and coffee meetings is bringing out your smart phone and adding people with the LinkedIn app on the spot. That way you won’t forget, or have to remember cards or emails.

2. Engage with Your Network (comment, like, share, endorse or recommend)

Similar to all other social networks, you cannot expect anyone to engage with you if you aren’t engaging first. More active members of your network will likely share original composition posts which are great for commenting on with your thoughts, or sharing the post with your network. These posts will allow you to get your profile out to more people, in a shorter amount of time. Less active networks will share trending articles, memes, videos or inspirational messages and liking or commenting on these types of posts will show your support for the author but it can also open up the opportunity for other LinkedIn members to see your profile and connect. If you’ve worked directly with a connection for some time, consider endorsing one or a few of their skills and if you’d really like to show your support, write a personal recommendation. These are all ways to ensure your profile stays active and relevant.

3. Share Original Content

Once you feel comfortable with the size and engagement of your network, it’s time to start
sharing original content. The best way to share your ideas is with LinkedIn’s publisher feature. Don’t focus on the length so much as the content on the page. Write about topics you have first hand experience in and do your best to provide real world value that can be applied by anyone who has the drive. Adapt your content overtime as you may notice that some topics tend to be more popular than others. Interviewing a colleague or friend is a great place to start if you can’t come up with any unique ideas to write about. If you already have some writing experience, you can use these posts to showcase your knowledge, expertise or unique skills, all of which will show well to your network.

In a world where “who knows you” is often more important than “who you know” growing and enriching your LinkedIn network can take you a long way professionally. With a few simple steps, you’ll see your network grow exponentially and over time the engagement will increase and the possibilities for the future will be endless.

“There’ll always be serendipity involved in discovery.”
– Jeff Bezos