5 Tip Guide to Email Deliverability

Are you struggling to reach your customers through email marketing? There is a lot more that goes into email deliverability than you may think. Between complying with CAN-SPAM and CASL regulations and still being able to grab the attention of your recipients, email marketing may not be an easy task. Here are five tips to increase your email deliverability as a business.

    1. Comply with CAN-SPAM and CASL. In order to have continued success through email marketing, your business must comply with CAN-SPAM and CASL. CAN-SPAM is an American act that was passed in 2003, signifying “Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing.” CASL is Canada’s anti-spam legislation that was passed in 2014. Both hold similar sets of rules and guidelines. CAN-SPAM deals with commercial emails, while CASL applies to almost all online messaging. In order to make sure you are complying with these rules, here are some of the main requirements for both:
      • Do not use false or misleading headers and properly identify yourself.
        • Your recipients need to know who you are. When properly identifying yourself, people opening the emails will know who you are, have an idea of what you may want, and are more likely to open it and not just click delete.
      • Avoid deceptive subject lines and messaging that is false or misleading.
        • Subject lines are very important for email marketing. It is one of the first things readers will see. Be honest and do not try to trick your customers. They should be able to know what the message is about just from reading the subject line.
      • Your recipients must see where you are located.
        • Your recipients must know where you are coming from. You should have a valid address tagged with each email.
      • Recipients can easily opt out or unsubscribe.
        • As much as we would enjoy not losing any subscribers, it happens. On all emails, there must be a clear, visible, and easy way for someone to opt out of any further messages.
      • Know what others are doing for you.
        • Many businesses hire other companies to handle their email marketing or marketing plans as a whole. Be aware that even in a contract, you are still responsible for complying to these rules and you need to make sure whoever you hire is doing just that.
    2. Avoid buying lists. When you buy a list for email marketing purposes, that does not mean these contacts have given permission for you to email them. Also, statistics show that most of the time paid lists do not produce effective results.  A lot of your emails may bounce back and that can increase your odds to be blacklisted. Also, many lists are filled with spam and faulty email addresses. Grow your list organically, that way you know contacts are real and you know you have permission from your potential recipients.
    3. Avoid trigger words. It is important to be careful when using certain subject lines and formatting the body of your message. A lot of times, businesses think certain words like “free” or “affordable” or “we are looking for you” are enticing for recipients, when in fact they are less likely to open the email and you are more likely to go directly into the spam folder. Stay away from all caps, an excessive amount of exclamation points, the dollar sign, and trigger words. All of these decrease your chances for engagement and increase the chances of becoming blacklisted or thrown into the spam folder. A lot of words that signify something to do with a price are usually quick trigger words. Also, using one of these words repeatedly throughout the email or typing in all caps can be registered as spam. Here are some popular trigger words and phrases to avoid:
      • $$$$
      • NO (followed by certain words)
      • FREE
      • Instant
      • Now
      • Time’s running out
      • We need you
      • Affordable
    4. Don’t over-send emails. You have the subscribers you want; don’t lose them. When growing your email list, if people are expecting a monthly newsletter or update of your products and services then give them just that – monthly, or whatever else they sign up for. If you start sending weekly promotions unexpectedly, sooner or later you will lose subscribers. Your content is strong and you’ve mastered how to stay out of spam, don’t ruin it by losing subscribers because you are flooding their inboxes.
    5. Have permission. Like mentioned before, an important tip for email marketing is to make sure your recipients gave permission. If they did not give permission there is a good chance your message will go directly in the trash or worse they will report the message as spam because they do not know what it is. If someone does not wish to receive emails, then honor that decision and do not add them to your email list.

So why does email deliverability matter? Punishments for not being compliant vary but can reach high numbers for any business. If CAN-SPAM is violated, EACH email can be flagged with up to a $16,000 fine. For CASL, it varies from warnings to punishment reaching $10 million for businesses. Further, repercussions such as getting blacklisted or losing your rights to the use of certain marketing platforms will prevent you from sending the emails you want to the people you want. Avoid earning a bad reputation and follow these simple tips during your next email campaign.

*Click the following links for more information and sources from this article: CAN-SPAM | CASL

The Dos and Don’ts of Content Marketing

We all know (or should know!) by now that spending time and energy on content marketing is a good idea, but, sometimes we lose our way and become less effective.  When developing content there are places to avoid and other areas you want to keep in mind.  Here are eight basic “dos and don’ts” for content marketing.

DO:

Keep Things Interesting

The obvious key part of content marketing is the content itself. When posting, keep things interesting and create thought-provoking content for your audience. Stay away from posting boring information or things that your target audience would not care much to look at. If your content continues to attract your audience and lead to engagement, you can become a viable source for your customers when they are searching for content or answers.

Find Your Target Audience

In order to create all that interesting and exciting content that will capture your audience, you must understand who you are trying to target. It won’t help if you look to reach the mass all at once. No products or services fit every demographic, and no content will be interesting for every single person. Find your target and understand what types of people are looking at your content and what they are interested in. Once you define your audience you can tailor and create your content to fit their desires.

Be Original

Mindlessly following others within the industry and copying ideas is a bad habit you should try to avoid. While it is beneficial and recommended to keep an eye on what the competition is up to, it’s more important to stand out. Think of ways to show your own style and personality that differs from others. Make sure to stand out from the rest and your audience will notice. Soon, your following will look to you for those original articles and fresh ideas.

Keep it Short and Sweet

What do most people dread when looking to an article for tips or advice? Long, lengthy paragraphs and too many words. Use images, bullets, and a few quick sentences to get your point across and move on. You don’t want someone opening a piece of your content and then closing out because they felt it was too long and they did not have time to read it. In today’s world, people love instant gratification and quick available answers. If things are kept short and sweet, your audience will be satisfied.

DON’T:

Push Your Product

It is important to post thought-provoking content that can lead your audience back to your company or product. However, you should avoid simply posting all about your product and going for the hard sell. With interesting content, your prospects and listeners will come to you. Post topics they want to know about and they will later seek out your business when in need.

Promote Advertisements

Much like not pushing your product, don’t become a salesperson through your posting. Stay away from generic ads or promotions of your services or products. Tell a story or generate other forms of content that consumers will want to learn about.

Copy Your Competition

Like mentioned before, being original is important. If you are always copying others throughout the industry, how do you expect to get ahead? You cannot beat the competition when you are simply mimicking what they do. Keep an eye on what they are doing, but don’t feel the need to always follow their footsteps.

Focus on Yourself

Make your content about the industry and topics in the industry. Always focusing on yourself will not help your audience learn anything nor attract them to keep looking for your posts. Yes, you can relate articles to your company, but keep the focus off of you specifically and by having overall intriguing content, the conversation will eventually lead back to you.

So, the next time you evaluate your content marketing strategy, go back to the basics. Keep in mind these simple “dos and don’ts,” and try to really reach your audience. Make sure to avoid certain styles and embrace your own original ideas that your target audience wants.

6 Tips for Providing the Best Social Media Member Service

Your social media profiles require attention. Attention beyond your marketing team posting links, updates, videos, and so on. Social media is all about engagement and interaction. But sometimes that interaction isn’t all light and goodness. You may have disgruntled members post negative comments. You may have confused prospects post misleading statements. With that being said, you need to have your team at the ready to handle issues as they crop up. Here are six ways your association can provide the best social member service possible:

  1. Have a strategy. And make sure everyone on the team knows what that strategy is. There should be specific reasons for why you do things and how you do them. Having a strategy will also help you implement procedures later, as your social member service actions need to evolve.
  2. Have your procedures in writing. Have your procedures in writing. It’s easier for things to fall between the cracks if you don’t have set, written policies and procedures for your team to follow.
  3. Be timely. Social media is very fast paced and you need to keep up with that or you will seriously miss the mark. You need to have eyes on your social media platforms daily (better yet, hourly) in order to see what’s being posted or commented on so that you can respond as soon as possible.
  4. Be openly responsive. If someone posts something on your social media profile page, then address it there. You can always take it somewhere private (direct messaging, email, phone, etc.) as well, but you want to show that you are on top of things, not only to the person who posted, but to others viewing your social media profile. If you take it private without addressing things openly first, then you appear to be unresponsive to the rest of your audience.
  5. Empower your team. Empower your entire team (or the majority) to respond without having to hold hands with management every step of the way. This is easy with the proper training and having policies and procedures in place. Your team should be trained using hypothetical situations and past issues. An emphasis should be placed on how response time is crucial.
  6. Don’t always engage. Every so often a “troll” may come along just to stir things up. Your team shouldn’t be sucked into the crazy. You can either ignore a troll and delete/block the spam accounts, or just have a set answer that your team uses. In either case, you don’t want to feed the beast and continue some sort of silly “argument” with someone who is just there to cause trouble.

Your association’s main goal is to make and keep members happy, and this goal stands true for social media as well. If a problem or complaint arises with a member or prospective member on social media, take a deep breath, and remember these six tips to help make it right.

Create a Content Calendar in 3 Steps

Fresh, well-written, and relevant content is an integral part of the successful marketing plan of any modern association. Effectively managing content is also essential, however. Content management strategies include releasing the right content at the right time, using content designed to speak to a specific audience, and making certain that you’ve got a healthy supply of appropriate content waiting to be published. A good content calendar can do all that and more, but the first step is creating one that’s tailored to your individual organizational needs and the habits of your members and audience.

Identify Your Audience Base

Chances are that your audience base will be comprised of more than one demographic, but those differing demographics will contain significant overlapping properties. Identify the core groups and let them be the deciding factor in developing your main content themes.

Take Stock of Your Existing Content

Keeping in mind the tried-and-true rule that 80 percent of your content should be informational while the remaining 20 percent is promotional. Organize your content for specific audience target groups and according to which category represents your biggest percent of members and move down until your smallest target group is at the bottom.

Organize and Schedule Your Content by Creating a Simple Spreadsheet

Either Excel or Smartsheet are easy-to-use spreadsheet options that will allow you keep your content at your fingertips. Create a weekly or monthly calendar with the spreadsheet using the audience categories created above.

6 Ways to Visualize Your Association’s Content

We were groomed at an early age to have preferential treatment towards visually-appealing information. For instance, as kids, we gravitated towards the picture books, and now we’re captivated with Pinterest. The power of visual content has always been with us.

The only difference now is marketers are reinventing their messages, with the appeal of visual content in mind, in order to leverage their campaign’s impact on audiences.

If you’re ready to give your association’s marketing messages a visual facelift, here are 6 ways to transform those lengthy paragraphs!

1. Infographics

The popularity of infographics is becoming more and more apparent. We first saw them mainly in the digital marketing space, but any association can apply this strategy towards their own campaigns. As long as you have share-worthy statistics and a strong graphic design team, infographics should be no sweat.

2. Videos

You might be camera shy, but the power of videos should be enough to overcome this fear. YouTube is one of the largest search engines on the Internet, and online videos can do wonders for your association’s SEO. Videos that have been uploaded onto sites, like YouTube or Vimeo, can also be embedded on websites, emails, and social media channels. Plus, people love seeing the faces behind your association. Videos are a big opportunity to add personality to your organization! Visit the interlinkONE YouTube channel for inspiration!

3. Bullet Lists

When people are surfing the Internet for information, they usually don’t have 10-20 minutes to read an in-depth article. They want to learn the main take-aways of the information you’re presenting as quickly as possible. Think about the writing process you would use when writing an essay in high school. You would draft an outline in order to help formulate the body of your story. For digital content, there’s no need to turn those bullets into paragraphs. Usually, a 2-3 sentence explanation of each point you are listing is all you need!

4. Images

Images can be worth a thousand words, so they can be incredibly helpful when it comes to delivering information while striking interest within your audience. Incorporating images into web pages, email blasts, social media posts, and direct mail campaigns would only benefit your marketing efforts. With some nice graphic design skills, you can even turn powerful keywords and phrases into pieces of art as well. Take a look at Pinterest for some ideas!

5. Charts and Graphs

If you are creating case studies or presenting information with different types of statistics and trends, showcase them with various charts and graphs! If you clump too many striking facts together in one paragraph, they could lose their value. Readers may also not always understand what those numbers or trends really mean. If you explain it in a visual way, the message you are trying to present will become more clear.

6. Flow Charts

Just like charts, if you list multiple steps of a process, people may not see the big picture, or even worse, may be lost after Step 2. Flow charts can be incredibly useful, whether they’re used as timelines for members, work processes for potential members, or a marketing campaign guide for your colleagues. It helps everyone understand the steps it takes to reach the ultimate goal of a process.

What are your favorite examples of visual content? Who uses it the best?

5 Tips for Engaging Millennials with Content

During a recent study targeting 501 millennials, it was found that nearly 62% feel that there is a direct correlation between content marketing and organization loyalty, but the problem is that they are not interested in the content they’re receiving. Finding information that has a balance between intriguing both younger and older generations is difficult, but with the help from these five suggestions below, you will have a better understanding of connecting with both crowds.

  1. Create content that will fulfill their interests. When it comes to connecting with millennials, it’s important to come up with content that is tailored to their interests. You need to constantly be thinking about what their generation is interested in, keeping their age, location, and surroundings in mind. Using different tools to help you grow a better understanding of who they are will only help you find things that can motivate them. Since social media is so prevalent in this generation, sharing content on different social media sites will help keep them involved.
  2. Generate useful content. Interesting content is vital to gaining the attention of your members and enhancing the success of your association, but content needs to be useful and relevant to your organization as well. Try to take interesting content and current events and relate them back to your association. Content should be interesting, helpful, and purposeful. This generation is your association’s future, so if you cannot pertain to their likings, then you will have a difficult time succeeding in the future.
  3. Keep it short and sweet. A recent millennial study found that the majority of participants interviewed said the main reason they can’t grasp on to the content that is shared to them is because of the length. When the content is too long, their attention span shrinks and they become less interested, making them less likely to retain the information. Look for content that is short yet intriguing and can be read quickly, especially since many will be looking from a mobile device. It was also discovered in that research that millennials agreed 300 words is the sweet spot for content – simplifying your job as the content creator as well!
  4. Utilize humor. Adding a touch of humor to your content will make most people interested in the content you’re providing. Invoking emotion in the reader will allow them to bond with both the content and your association and it will also help them to retain the information they’re taking in. Creating an emotional connection will help build a long lasting relationship between members and your organization.
  5. Be real. In addition to adding emotion into your posts, make sure the content you’re sharing is authentic. You want to make sure you are bringing positivity to your association’s reputation, so by providing content that is interesting, has a purpose, and is specific to your organization, you will in turn gain millennial support and enhance your association’s successful future.

Most millennials are looking for content that they gain something from but can also relate too. It is predicted that by 2020, millennials will total more than $1.4 trillion in spending power. If you are not reaching millennials, then you are not keeping up with trends and your members’ needs, and your association will not be prepared for the future. Creative content helps drive your association’s connections, so generate content that will allow you to build relationships with millennials so you can continue to grow your organization and reach current and future members.

Should You Be Outsourcing Your Association’s Marketing?

Sometimes hiring a dedicated marketing employee or team just isn’t in the cards. Management, budgets, and resources can be major constraints on an association. For any organization, growth is one of the most important factors that lead to success. Especially with smaller associations, leaders often find themselves playing multiple roles in their organization and not being able to focus on important aspects of managing and overseeing the association and its members. When this begins to occur, it may be time to consider outsourcing your marketing. Below are some important cues that may lead you to believe outsourcing is the best option.

  • Memberships are declining or at a standstill. If no matter what you’re doing, your membership levels aren’t increasing, it may be time to consider looking at other options. Believe it or not, marketing can be easy to measure, if you’re working with people who know what they’re doing. If you outsource to efficient marketers, they will be able to link their efforts with marketing campaigns and see how membership levels are being affected, and have the statistics to report back to you on.
  • You are falling behind. As a leader, it’s expected that you will have a busy workload. However, if you find yourself always trying to play catch-up, then it may be wise to consider outsourcing. Not only will it eliminate the amount of unnecessary and irrelevant (to your position) work you have to do, but it will also allow professional marketers to spend dedicated time and produce better content.
  • Disappointed with results. One of the worst things that you can experience is being disappointed with the results of the work being produced. If you aren’t happy with the quality and content you are creating, then it might be best to put the job in a professional’s hands.

If your organization is experiencing any of these difficulties with marketing campaigns, outsourcing may be a great choice to look into. While outsourcing does require for you to give up some of your authority of marketing, it does have many benefits. An outsourced team will:

  • Write a detailed and comprehensive marketing plan for your association, and then move into execution for you. This is important because every organization needs a marketing plan; it will cut down time spent on marketing campaigns in the long run and increase membership levels.
  • Hire experienced professionals to exclusively market your association, without you needing to hire additional resources or do any of the work. These professionals will handle your everyday tasks that would otherwise be a burden. They will execute creative and purposeful content and track it to measure results.
  • Provide the hired marketers with marketing resources, including software, to allow them to get everything done efficiently. By providing them with resources, they will be able to create and track all of your organization’s marketing efforts, finding what works and reviewing areas to improve on.
  • Complete the planning, execution, and management of your association’s marketing efforts, based off of the plan written prior. They will also be sure to take any input you may have and create content that will be specific to your organization and your members.
  • Report to you on a regular basis for updates. Though you may be taken off the job for executing the marketing, you won’t be forgotten. This is still your association and outsourced marketers will make sure to include you as much as they can.

If your finding it tough to create, execute, measure, and manage your association, its members, and its marketing efforts, it might be time to consider outsourcing. It will relieve pressure off of you and only further the success of your association and help to directly increase membership levels.

Is your association in need of marketing help? I’m here to help! Contact me at JohnF@GrowSocially.com to discuss your association’s future and learn more about outsourced marketing services for your organization.

4 Types of Marketing Software to Consider

As marketers, we are bombarded by new technologies constantly being introduced to us each month. Although different software are helpful in aiding our marketing efforts as well as helping us to find and research new members, it certainly gets overwhelming at times weeding through the options. To help narrow down the wide variety of options, consider these four technology tools to help your association improve its marketing efforts and build relationships with members and prospects.

  1. Customer Relationship Management Software. Customer relationship management software is essential for any organization that is looking to grow and enhance communication with its members and prospects. Not only does a CRM help to identify and manage relationships with existing and potential members, it also helps track and measure marketing campaigns. These systems help monitor traffic between you and your members, and ultimately help build stronger relationships.
  2. Marketing Automation Software. Marketing automation software is crucial to associations as it allows you to relay information quickly and effectively to current and future members. From managing blogs, to building landing pages, tracking keywords, and handling marketing campaigns, an automated marketing software will help execute and measure the effectiveness of your marketing. It will pick up any information that you may have missed, and will track the information you’re marketing, allowing you to be on top of everything, and doing most of the work for you!
  3. Social Media Software. Having a software that will assist you in social media marketing will free up time to think more about marketing strategy, and help track the reporting and measurements of your social media campaigns. An effective social media software will make it easier for you to share information across a variety of social platforms, while tracking data and allowing you to easily control all aspects of your social media marketing efforts. From scheduling posts in advance to addressing your target market, it will help build the personality of your association, attracting new members and better connecting with existing ones.
  4. Analytics Software. Having a software that will take your data and turn it into a detailed report is a requirement for any organization. This software can tie into any of the others mentioned above, because it takes the results from those and analyzes it. It not only breaks down the information necessary for evaluating the success of your organization, but it simplifies it and shows you what’s working and what isn’t within your marketing efforts.

These new technologies in online marketing will assist your association in successfully reaching members and prospects and informing them about your organization. They will help you take the next steps in developing your association and utilizing the necessary resources in a marketing association.

Quick Tips to Change Up Your Content Marketing Strategy

Content marketing isn’t a onetime event. From blogs to social media to eNewsletters, coming up with new content is a challenge for any organization. The aim of the game is to avoid becoming the boring relative that tells the same story at every get together – your audience will get bored and unfollow you. Every new piece of content needs to have something that makes it readable and shareable. It’s a tall order, so what can you do to keep your content fresh? Here are seven ideas you can use today to inject new life into your content.

  1. Change it up – if you normally post graphics, write a text update. If your blog is all text, add a video. Just remember to keep it consistent with your usual tone.
  2. Hoard inspiration – have a great idea for a blog post? See a topical news piece you can’t wait to weigh in on? Use a file, notebook, or a social bookmarking tool to keep track of ideas and topics.
  3. Crowdsource it – spend some time on social media networks and see what your members and others in your industry are talking about. Look for topics you can craft content around.
  4. Start a conversation – not sure what to say? Ask your followers a question – you’ll be getting useful feedback while keeping their attention.
  5. Look outside your niche – what’s happening in the world? Is there a holiday or sporting event on the horizon? Think of some relevant content that will still be useful to your followers.
  6. Tell a story – members do business with people not brands. Tell a story about your association, talk about the history of your services. Offer something that tells your audience who you are.
  7. Start a theme – instigate new recipe Tuesdays, over to you Wednesdays, or weekly roundup Fridays. Pick a theme that suits your association, announce it, and encourage feedback.

Creating new content and keeping it lively and interesting is no small task. Help yourself by having a content creation calendar to work to. Put yourself in your member’s place and create content that you would love if you were following your association.

Looking for more tips on content marketing? Check out 25 Tips for Content Marketing Success!

Do You Need a Marketing Consultant?

If your association doesn’t have the time or proper resources to dedicate to your marketing efforts, then the ultimate answer is yes, you should be using a marketing consultant. It does not matter how small or how large your association is. Marketing is a key component to success. So why is marketing something that many organizations can’t do themselves? The answer to that question is that, in part, you can do marketing yourself, but the reason that you should use a consultant is because marketing is more than just putting out a few fliers.

Marketing 101

One of the key components of marketing is being able to track your results and then to apply what you have learned in such a way as to improve your marketing plan’s performance. That is a process that can be labor intensive. However, without being able to measure the effectiveness of a marketing campaign, you will lack the information needed to tell you if your campaign is working, or if it is working to the best of its ability. What you do in terms of marketing needs to be measured, evaluated, and then properly adjusted.

Another key component of marketing involves social marketing platforms. These not only involve technology, but also they involve technology that is rapidly changing. This means that a portion of your marketing energy will need to be spent just keeping up with changes in social technology. If you are keeping track of the technology changes in marketing, then you should see that this is a process that becomes very labor intensive. For all of this work, we have not even gotten into designing a marketing campaign.

Managing Your Time

For small and medium sized organizations, they say that you should do what you do best and leave the rest to other people. If you manage an association and you are reading emails and answering phones, then you are doing administrative work and not the work of a leader. That is not to say you cannot do both, but when you are focused on many tasks, do you do any of them well?

Leave marketing to those who do marketing extremely well and free up your time and resources to become the leader of your association. Take control of your organization’s efforts by utilizing a marketing consultant. We’re here to help! Click here to contact our team and see what we can do to help your association thrive.