Fine-Tuning Local Search
They talk about how a local car wash could target online ads to people (via their mobile devices) within a few blocks of their business.
Duct Tape Marketing
Anyways, the reason I like their blog so much is it's always full of quick and simple small business marketing ideas you can use right now. It won MarketingSherpa's "Best Blog on Small Business Marketing" award for 2006. If you haven't already, bookmark it.
I'm going to look really stupid for saying this, but I never realized the author of that blog was promoting an upcoming book (duh!). I just went to the blog every morning, read his useful tips, and left. Frankly, I thought the book was already out there, and I somehow missed it. So one day I got an email to the effect of, "Okay, my book's finally ready, hope you like it." What a nice surprise! See, ignorance really is bliss.
I've already pre-ordered my copy. I know if it's half as useful as the blog, it'll be worth its weight in gold. And I just read that the author, John Jantsch, used to work with Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth (my all time favorite business book ever, and probably the only reason our business is still going strong after almost 7 years). On top of all this, I just noticed that MailChimp has been featured on the Duct Tape Marketing blog! Too cool.
If you run a small business, you should look into this book. Pre-order now, and you'll get some really cool add-ons, like audio interviews and e-books:
Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth Revisited discusses "Awakening the Entrepreneur Within" ($29)
Guy Kawasaki, author of Art of the Start discusses "The Art of Creating Community" ($29)
"Millionaire Mind, The Secret Psychology of Wealth" a 90 minute audio featuring T. Harv Eker author of NY Times #1 bestseller "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind" ($79)
Bob Serling's "10-Minute Marketing Success Interviews" ebook - Bob asked 21 leading experts the question, "What is your favorite marketing technique that's working really well for you and your clients right now?" ($39)
6 Deadly Marketing Mistakes � David Frey � Marketing Best Practices ($39)
Free 1 hr conference call for up to 100 participants from Conference Calls Unlimited ($100)
Simple Idea For Your Email Newsletters: Customer Reviews
I just came across an article about how Bass Pro Shops got 59% better conversions by simply adding product reviews from customers to their email promotions.
Do you let customers post product reviews on your website? Or do you get a few testimonials now and then?
Consider adding them to your next email newsletter! Talk about a quick and simple idea.
Fun Holiday Activities (for Web Nerds)
A lot of our customers are entrepreneurs and web nerds who maintain their own websites (like us!).
This is the time of year when the office is closed, and we're all relaxing at home in our pajamas with family (and going stir crazy for some work!).
So we thought we'd put together this list of ideas that webmasters and geeks can try over the holidays (or add a few of them to your New Year's Resolutions)...
- If you haven't already, try pay-per-click advertising. Sign up for a Google Adwords or Overture account, and dabble with them. You only have to put a few bucks down to experiment. Set a monthly budget of 20 bucks and just do it.
- Already doing PPC advertising? Consider outsourcing it. If you're like us, you started small, but then it got to be a burden to manage dozens (hundreds?) of keywords and campaigns. There are firms out there who will manage it all for you. They usually require that you spend a few grand every month on PPC, and they take a small commission off that amount.
- Place conversion-tracking code on your website. Are you measuring how many people who click on your banner ads, PPC ads, or links in email newsletters actually convert into paying customers? Do you know which keywords or ads bring you the most money? If not, you could be throwing money out the door. Use something like ConversionRuler.com or Google's built-in conversion tracker. It's surprising to see which keywords or ads are really turning into money, while others might get tons of clicks, but lead to nothing but wasted bandwidth.
- Optimize your landing pages. If you're running banner ads or PPC ads, you're probably pointing them to special landing pages. When was the last time you analyzed the click-path of your prospects, and optimized those landing pages? Maybe some "Click here" buttons need to be bigger, or more beveled. Maybe some of your links need to be underlined, or moved up on the page. Maybe you need to re-write some headlines to include keywords that visitors used to find your page. Call To Action is a great book that's full of tips for squeezing more conversions out of your website.
- Try installing Live Chat on your website. We use Timpani at MailChimp, and we think they're pretty good. We were scared at first, because we thought people would be chatting with us all day. But it's not as bad as you'd think. And people love instant help---it's great customer service. Google the term "Live Chat" and you'll get lots of other vendors you can try.
- Update your META tags. Yeah, I know. We learned about META tags a looooong time ago. Chances are, you didn't spend a ton of time on META tagging your pages when you first built your website. Now's a good time to go back and put in some better, more relevant keywords and descriptions. Here are some modern-day tips from Clickz, and here's a list of other search engine marketing related articles. When we first designed the MailChimp website, we placed a few META tags here and there. Over time, we replicated pages to make new ones, and forgot to update <TITLE> tags on a lot of them. A sharp MailChimp customer pointed that out to me, and mentioned how important TITLEs are, now that IE7 has tabbed browsing. I'll definitely be spending a little time over the holidays on this.
- Check out Google's Webmaster tools. Have you verified your site and submitted your sitemap yet?
- Figure out how to integrate digg and reddit and delicious links into your blog or website (this is one I've put off forever, and found out it was surprisingly easy).
- Write a whitepaper and post it in PDF format on your website. Our "HTML Email Design Guide" gets downloaded about 50,000 times a year, and sends a lot of customers our way (yes, people still like to print things on paper!).
- Send an online survey. Go build an online survey at SurveyMonkey.com (no relation to MailChimp). Then, send a link to the survey to your email list. Ask your members what features they want in your product next, or ask them how you can improve your company's service. It's a really quick, simple idea for staying in touch with your customers. 2nd tip: after you get your survey results, publish it in the next email newsletter!
- Send HTML email e-greetings. Got a web designer on staff? They'd probably *love* to spend some time designing something fun or kooky for the holidays. Ahem, use something like MailChimp to deliver it, and we'll track your opens and clicks. You can send 'em for New Years day, instead of Christmahannukwanzaa
- Setup a Cafepress.com store, and make your own company t-shirts. Send 'em to your favorite clients. Our parent company, The Rocket Science Group, gave these away one year.
- Write a press release and use an online distribution service like PRweb.com
- Make an online video demo of your website or online app. We use Adobe Captivate for our demo.
- Put together an end-of-year satisfaction or feedback survey. Use an online survey tool like SurveyMonkey.com and email a link to all your customers (using MailChimp of course!) If you tinker with SurveyMonkey for a while, you can actually do some pretty sophisticated surveys, and customize them pretty close to your brand.
"Should I buy an opt-in email list?"
We get that question a lot.
Short answer: Hell no.
15 Tips to improve email deliverability
There's a lot of news out there in the email marketing world. One place you can go for a summary of just about everything that's ever been said is Tamara Gielen's Email Marketing Best Practices blog. I don't know how she can get so much information posted in one place. Seriously, just go ahead and bookmark it, or subscribe to the RSS thingy.
Here's a list of 15 tips to improve your email deliverability (especially work on numbers 10-15).
We've also got an article on "How Spam Filters Work" over at MailChimp.com. Before you get into specific tactics, it's good to learn how they work in general.
Average Email Marketing Stats and Metrics
Our customers who are new to email marketing often ask us, "What kind of open rates should companies like mine be expecting?" and "How many bounces are too many?" or, "What's a typical abuse complaint rate?"
So we scanned over 30 million emails delivered by our system (where tracking was activated) and calculated average open rates, average click rates, average soft bounces, average hard bounces, and average abuse complaint rates, then sorted them by industry.
It's got average email marketing campaign stats for restaurants, hotels, financial institutions, churches, software companies, and more...
PPC Advertisers See Cost of Keywords Rise 16.5%
How's your PPC advertising budget this holiday season? Do the keywords seem a little more expensive than usual? Here's an interesting article at eMarketer:
"In the third quarter of 2006, Fathom found that the average keyword price paid by online advertisers had increased 16.5% percent to $1.48."
Free Holiday Graphics for Email Postcard Templates
People seem to be enjoying our new built-in HTML email template designer. Even web designers are using it, because it saves so much time. If you haven't seen it yet, you should watch our online demo here.
The nice thing is that we don't just give our customers hundreds and hundreds of templates (that all suck). We give you some basic, tried-and-true layouts, which you can totally customize to match your brand (using our built-in template designer).
Anyways, we just posted a handful of nice holiday-themed graphics that MailChimp customers can use in their email postcard templates. You can find them by logging in to MailChimp, then clicking into the "Templates Library" area.
Here's how to get to the free holiday postcard graphics:
- Log in to MailChimp (if you don't have an account, sign up for a free trial here)
- Click on the "My Templates" link on the Dashboard (see diagram below)
- Click into the "Templates Library" tab, scroll down, and you'll see a little gift box from MailChimp to you. Follow the link for download instructions. Enjoy!