5 Email Marketing Predictions for 2013



2012 was another blockbuster year for email marketing.
Amid questions about how email would perform in a more socially-connected world, email marketing continued to be the most effective marketing tool for a majority of small business owners in 2012 and outperformed both social and search when it came to converting prospects to new business.
And, with email finding a new best friend in mobile, email marketers have even more to celebrate as we move into the New Year.
What else should you expect from email marketing in 2013? Here are our top 5 email marketing predictions:


1. Those who adjust to the demands of mobile will win


With more than half of all Americans now using smartphones and nearly a quarter of all online activity now coming from mobile devices—the stage has been set for 2013 to be a huge year in mobile marketing.
Mobile has already had a major influence on the way your audience engages with your email content. In fact, email continues to be the most popular activity for smartphone users, with 43% of mobile users checking their inbox at least four times a day.
But despite this fact, it’s likely that even without thinking about mobile; you’ve continued to drive big results from your email marketing.
That could change in 2013. In a recent study from Google, 55% of consumers say that a poor mobile experience can hurt their perception of a brand. That means, as more of your customers adopt mobile, if you’re not providing a mobile-friendly experience, you could be putting your reputation at a greater risk.
Improving the mobile experience won’t take too much heavy lifting.
First off, make sure to choose a mobile-friendly email template. We’ve rolled out a bunch of these over the last few months and will continue to introduce more in 2013.
Second, take a much more focused approach to developing email content. Rather than packing each newsletter with tons of information, pick one topic—at most, three—and deliver shorter messages designed to drive action around that topic.


2. Relevant content will rule the day


Providing relevant content has always been an essential component of a successful email marketing campaign. That will be even truer in 2013, as competition in the inbox is expected to reach an all-time high.
It is projected that by 2014, consumers will receive more than 9,000 emails annually.
Despite that reality, consumers remain positive about the amount of emails they receive. For many, it’s because they’ve learned to self-filter—or only give attention to the stuff that’s most relevant to them.
In our 2012 survey of nearly 1,500 consumers, 56% said that irrelevant content was the number one reason why they chose to unsubscribe from a business email list.
Making a renewed commitment to addressing the needs of your costumers and creating content that helps them overcome their most pressing problems will be more important than ever in 2013.


3. Email contacts: a small business’ most valuable marketing asset


We believe all small businesses—whether they are currently using email marketing to connect with current or potential customers or not—need to make collecting customer contact information a top-priority in 2013.
No matter what you have planned to grow your business in the new year, having a strong list of contacts can help. That’s because when you collect customer contacts, you own that information.
Brands on Facebook found out how valuable this can be in 2012, when the social network made some unannounced changes to its EdgeRank algorithm. Without warning, businesses and organizations which had put in hours, days, weeks, and months to attract new fans were suddenly unable to get their message in front of their target audience.
Today, less than 16% of fans will see any of the content you post on Facebook.
In contrast, more than 97% of all emails sent using Email Marketing from Constant Contact are consistently delivered to recipients’ inbox.
When you are in control of your contacts you will be able update those customers and supporters about all of your organization’s newest developments, both online and off. So, whether you’re running a deal, hosting an event, or rolling out a new line of products or services—you’ll have the capacity to deliver that message and know it’s been delivered.


4. Email engagement will outshine email opens


The days of open-rates being the holy grail of email marketing are over. In 2013, engagement will be king.
That’s not to say open-rates no longer matter. Of course, keeping track of how many people are seeing your emails in their inbox and making the decision to check out what’s inside will continue to be important when tracking the effectiveness of your email campaigns. But open-rates only tell half the story.
The fact is, just because someone opens your email, it doesn’t mean they are reading or finding your content compelling enough to take action. On contrast, by tracking engagement metrics like click-through rates, businesses can get a clearer idea of what type of content is actually working to engage your audience.
Tracking click-throughs will also help better identify leads for your business. So, if you have a certain group of your readership is repeatedly clicking on links to learn more about products or to shop online, you can create a separate list and send those contacts more relevant product information.
In 2013, focusing on engagement will enable small businesses to take their email marketing to the next level and finally drive the type of results you’ve been looking for.


5. Email will get even more social


It’s been a whirlwind year for small businesses on social media. In twelve months, businesses have gone from having two or three social options to choose from to seeing sites like Pinterest, Instagram, and even Google+ shake up the social landscape.
But while social media marketing continues to generate good results from small businesses, over the last twelve months it has been those businesses that have combined social with email marketing that have driven the most impressive results.
From a stamp manufacturer in Salem, Oregon that used email and social to generate 40% of its retail business to a DC nonprofit that raised over $100,000 in a single month by combing Facebook and email—it’s clear that these two powerful marketing tools can and should work together.
In 2013, we predict that more businesses will find results by combining their email and social media marketing. And in doing so, will attract more fans and followers, more email subscribers, and overall—more results from all of their marketing efforts.


Getting back to basics in 2013


With all the changes that have taken place in the world of online marketing over the last few years, it’s natural that some businesses may be feeling somewhat overwhelmed.
Don’t worry—you’re not alone.
While much will change in 2013, plenty will also stay the same.
At the end of the day—regardless of the platform you use—it’s all about effectively communicating with your audience. You’ll be sending emails or engaging on social media with the purpose of building relationships, strengthening loyalty, and staying top-of-mind throughout the year.
In doing so, we predict you’ll find more opportunities to grow your business than ever before.
What are your predictions for email marketing in 2013? Let us know in the comments below!
source : http://blogs.constantcontact.com/product-blogs/email-marketing/email-marketing-predictions/


5 LinkedIn Alternatives to Consider for Your Networking Strategy


When it comes to social media sites, few platforms are used for their networking juice like Linkedin. LinkedIn is the undisputed leader in professional social networking. A report by HubSpot showed that it is a whopping 277% more effective than Facebook and Twitter at generating leads.

LinkedIn is a great networking tool, but there are other options out there. This article will give you an idea of what’s available with a look at the top five alternatives.

1. BranchOut

If BranchOut sounds familiar, it is probably because you encountered it on Facebook. In fact, it is currently the most popular professional networking app on the Facebook platform. Founded in 2010 by Rick Marini, BranchOut is widely used for job hunting, recruiting, and general networking.

What makes this social app stand out is the fact that it leverages the user’s existing Facebook network to help them make professional connections.

BranchOut recently “branched out” from Facebook by relaunching itself as a standalone application with hopes of competing with LinkedIn. That’s going to be tough, but with an active community of more than 30 million users, it is definitely a nice alternative.

2.  Twylah

BranchOut leverages Facebook, Twylah harnesses the power of Twitter to conduct its networking business. Twylah allows you to create Twitter brand pages that can extend your presence beyond the popular microblogging site. This tool helps you focus your message by automatically organizing your tweets by trending topics, which gives the world an at-a-glance view of what you’re all about.

Additionally, Twylah keeps SEO in mind by optimizing your page to enhance visibility and generate traffic from the search engines.

One thing to like about Twylah is the hosting component. By giving you the ability to run a page on your own domain, it is essentially giving you another option for a website, while also helping brand your Twitter content.

3. Google+

When Google+ launched in the summer of 2011, the resemblance in looks and functionality instantly caused it to be compared to the mighty Facebook. As it matured, however, it may  appear that the site was groomed to be a networking tool the likes of LinkedIn, rather than a Facebook clone. Google+ is primarily being used to make professional connections. Rarely will you see status updates talking about parties, the daily lunch menu, or grocery shopping expeditions.

Google+ has a number of features that complement social networking. Among them is Circles, which allows you to target specific communications for customers, prospects, partners, and other groups you define.

4. VisualCV

Some professionals are using LinkedIn as a more detailed and advanced version of their resume. VisualCV can be used in similar fashion. Hence the name, VisualCV uses visual elements such as images and video to put together what becomes an engaging digital resume. You can create a custom URL for your resume, share it publicly or privately, and even send it directly to potential employers.

VisualCV is completely free to use, which is somewhat surprising considering all the advanced features it offers. This one is highly recommended for creating resumes or portfolios that stand out from the crowd.

5. Zerply

Zerply is another LinkedIn alternative that is ideal for creating an online resume. This service lets you send potential employers to an attractive page complete with info on your social connections, in addition to your experience, skills, and traditional resume data. You can also invite others to join you on the network, and set up your own domain.

Similar to LinkedIn, Zerply lets you make connections with influencers and stay on top of the buzz in your specific niche.

While Zerply is free to use, it also has a premium version with more features you can upgrade to. Further, keep in mind that there is a cost for using a custom domain.

In Closing

LinkedIn broke the mold out of the gate by distinguishing itself from MySpace, Facebook, and other social networks more known for their recreational value. It was a bold move, but one that worked like a charm. Today it stands as a bonafide social powerhouse with the potential to grow and deliver even more benefits to networking professionals.

With the exception of Google+, these alternatives are about as under the radar as LinkedIn itself, but the point is that they do exist. Learn their strengths, offset their weaknesses, and they could make nice additions to your networking strategy.

Any other LinkedIn alternatives we should know about it? Let us know if we missed something.

* * *

LinkedIn Members Update

Earlier this week LinkedIn announced that they had reached 200 Million members across the globe. The following ‘official’ Infographic from LinkedIn itself explains the current situation with some interesting facts of the popular social network.

Author : Aidan Hijleh

source : http://socialmediarevolver.com/5-linkedin-alternatives/

SMS Knowledge Is Power


Power to the people! That’s what one recent studying found when researchers from George Washington University discovered that mothers who received health and motherhood tips by SMS text message were nearly three times more confident that they were prepared to be new mothers.

The lead author of the study, W. Douglas Evans, said, “This first-of-a-kind study suggests that mobile phone technology can be used to motivate pregnant women to establish the habits they need to stay healthy and raise a healthy child.”

This is yet another reminder of just how powerful a simple communication channel like mobile texting can be. Direct, immediate, and trusted, text messaging offers organizations and businesses a highly effective way to reach audiences.

If texting is a great channel, the key to success, then, lies in frequency and relevancy. How often should you send messages? And what kind of content does your audience want or need? Two important questions only you can answer.

3 Easy Steps to SMS Marketing

SMS marketing is marketing using a mobile phone. SMS stands for short message server, otherwise known as text messaging.
In short SMS marketing is done using a mobile device to transfer marketing communication to interested consumers. It's an area that is gaining a great deal of interest by businesses both small and large. Which of course is understandable, considering that 70% of the world population now have a mobile phone. In the United States alone that's 9 out of 10 people that carry a mobile device according to research done by MobiThinking.
An infographic done by Microsoft predicts that in 2014, mobile internet usage will overtake desktop internet usage. Which makes sense, considering that already in 2011, more than 50% of all “local” searches are done from a mobile device.
SMS marketing is considered to be one of the more direct and personal forms of marketing, but how do you know if it's right for your business?
While it is true that consumers rarely receive texts from businesses and the cost is pennies per text messages, especially if purchased in bulk as a business it's important to do your due diligence before jumping in head first.
Three things you must consider before diving into the SMS marketplace:
How will you collect mobile numbers for SMS marketing?
What pitfalls should you be aware of when it comes to SMS marketing?
How will you send your SMS marketing messages?
Step 1: Collecting Mobile Numbers for SMS Marketing
Consumers see there mobile phone numbers has sacred, so you may find that many of them are not as apt to give you their cell phone number like they are their email address. We all know what's happened to most of them regarding email marketing and they have a right to fear that the same will occur with SMS marketing. In order to gain their mobile number they will have to have a great deal of trust in you and a relationship will help as well. They also need to know that what you'll be sending them via SMS message is exclusive offers, not the same offer that you give via email and social media.
Be clear with your customers - and use the following guidelines when introducing SMS marketing to your customers:
Guideline 1: - Infrequent messaging, perhaps once a month, no more than two times a month.
Guideline 2: - Offers will be exclusively for customers that share their cell phone number with you.
Guideline 3: - SMS will be used to send them premium notices such as an order coming in, an appointment reminder or a upcoming service date.
You will have a greater chance of gaining access to their mobile number by following these guidelines and making it clear to your customers what you will use their number for.
You can collect their numbers using a sign up sheet at your register, asking them when talking on the phone, allowing them to submit a form on your website, or by giving them a number that they can text to subscribe to your SMS messages. Whatever you do keep a copy of their permission to market to them via SMS, if you run into problems you will be glad that you did. 
Step 2: Do Your Due Diligence
As you collect the numbers and begin to use them in your SMS campaign be sure that you have measures in place that if a customer unsubscribes they are removed from your list immediately, it is illegal not to do so.
There are actually a few laws you need to be aware of when it comes to mobile marketing.
Opt-In Only
You must obtain consent from the customer before sending an SMS text message.
With every message you send you must provide an unsubscribe option in the message and if they select that option you must unsubscribe them immediately.
Be Aware of the Cost
For customers without unlimited text messaging plans they can incur costs from your messages if it puts them over their limit. You need to make the customer aware that additional fees may apply if they are not on an unlimited SMS messaging plan.
These are only guidelines, be sure to consult with an attorney to ensure that you have fulfilled all of your legal obligations before venturing into this marketing medium, it's your duty to understand the relevant laws.
Step 3 - Setup, Create and Start Your SMS Campaign
Once you've collected your mobile numbers, verified that you have followed all of your legal responsibilities you can start your your SMS marketing campaign. I'd suggest using a 3rd party service provider to ensure that you are able to track the return on investment for you campaign, embed an unsubscribe message and easily manage your SMS marketing database including unsubscribes. I must admit my favorite provider at this time is SignalHQ. Their interface is easy to use and with only 500 subscribers, it's free so you have nothing to lose.


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