Category Archives: Best Practices

Email marketing habits to kick to the curb

email marketing If your day is anything like mine, you send a lot of emails. A. Lot. You hope for swift responses and perfect messaging every time, but that’s not a realistic result. To prevent getting discouraged or stuck in a rut, I read up on email efficiency and best practices periodically to update my routine. Here are some of my favorite email marketing “don’ts” that help maintain solid open and response rates.

Don’t send without permission. Always get permission before adding anyone to your marketing mailing list. If your company is like The Simons Group, you’re proud of the work you do and want to share it with the world. But we never send out our newsletter or announcements without a contact’s permission. This common courtesy shows that you respect your audience – and even increases your open rates! So, before you sign up everyone you met at your last networking event for the company newsletter, be sure they are just as excited as you are to receive it.

Don’t go for the hard sell. Readers may opt-out of emails if you bombard them with sales pitches. Instead, send an email with industry tips, thought leadership advice or case studies. If you send information that can help them or get them to think in a new way, they are more likely to continue following along.

Don’t abuse your contact list. Sending emails every day can be too much. Studies show that sending marketing emails one to four times a month can be very successful. Keep in mind that your contacts may be overwhelmed with the number of emails they receive from other companies or internal issues, so you don’t want to add to the chaos. Reach out sparingly and your audience will look forward to your next email.

What are some of your favorite email marketing “don’ts”? Let us know in the comments.

 

5 must-know SEO content tips

SEO tips

Your industry keeps getting more crowded, and search engine algorithms are constantly evolving. So how do you snag a prime spot in the search rankings and stay there?

While there’s no magic formula, optimized content is a big part of the battle. Try these strategies to give your site an SEO boost.

  1. Don’t worry about keywords. Seriously, don’t worry about them. The conventional wisdom used to be that pinpointing the exact keywords and phrases your audience searches for and peppering them strategically throughout your content would boost your rankings. Then Google introduced the Hummingbird algorithm, and that all went out the window. The search engine can now interpret your content or a user’s search phrase and match it to similar keywords and phrases. That means if someone searches for “Chicago automobiles” and you’re selling “Windy City cars,” you’ll still show up in the results. Instead of focusing on the perfect keywords, write quality content that describes your services accurately and makes people want to stick around.
  1. Write compelling title tags. Title tags are like the headlines of each page – they appear in the tab on your browser and tell search engines and people what the page is about. To get the biggest SEO boost from your title tags, write unique tags for each page, describe the page’s most important content first, and use no more than 70 characters (including spaces).
  1. Don’t forget meta descriptions. Meta descriptions are the text that appears under the site link in the search results, and they play a big role in whether a searcher decides to click on your link. If you don’t include meta descriptions on your site, the search engine will pull one for you from the page content, and it may not be the content you want to highlight. Use action-oriented language in your meta descriptions and keep them to 155 to 165 characters – any longer than that and they may get cut off in the search results.
  1. Make your content linkable. Inbound links are one of the key factors search engines consider when determining which sites land on the first page. Along with writing quality content that people want to link to, make sure the page itself is actually linkable. If you’re posting on a password-protected site or sharing a nonlinkable slide show, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
  1. Start (and maintain) a blog. Search engines love fresh content. One component of Google’s algorithm, Query Deserves Freshness, considers which searches are getting more traffic than usual and rewards sites that wrote about the subject most recently. Frequent posting also means frequent indexing by search engines (and more chances to climb the rankings). Keep your finger on your industry’s pulse and answer your customers’ burning questions regularly on your blog. Just make sure your content is worthwhile – search engines will penalize you for stuffing your site with crummy posts.

Which SEO strategies has your business used successfully? Let us know in the comments below!

 

Videos: Your essential step-by-step guide

Admit it …

You love watching crazy kitten videos. But “paws” them for a minute. Think about the power of videos and imagine how you could use them to captivate customers and prospects.

You don’t need to become an overnight YouTube sensation to get people talking about your company and what you offer. Irresistible, furry critters aren’t necessary, either. What you really need is a simple, well-planned idea and the time to execute it.

An example is this promotional video that The Simons Group just completed for Morrisey Associates, a national health care software company. The three-minute video shows how Morrisey Practitioner Performance Reporting™ (MPPR™) gives hospitals key insights about their doctors and features a customer interview that speaks volumes about the product.

Whether you’d like a video that’s similar in length and style to Morrisey’s, one that you shoot yourself using your smartphone, or your own wacky cat video, follow these essential steps for a production even Steven Spielberg would be proud of.

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How to speak like a presidential candidate

microphone-2-1620440The election process is in full swing, and mastering public speaking is crucial for these candidates. Whether they’re on stage at a debate or giving a stump speech, what they say and how they say it are both important to winning over the American public. Are they being forthcoming? Are they confident and standing strong?

Presidential candidates aren’t the only ones who have to polish their presentation chops. From pitching a prospect to giving a talk at a trade show, speaking in public is an important business skill to hone.

At The Simons Group, we know a thing or two about effective public speaking. Here are a few more pointers for engaging with your listeners.

Give your audience a game plan. Lay out your talking points in a clear order at the beginning of your speech. That way, your audience can follow along and knows what to expect.

Get excited. Add passion and feeling to whatever you are covering. If people see that you care, they will care, too. Instead of remaining serious throughout the entire presentation, find a few places to add enthusiasm or even laughter.

Recap your points. Summarizing your points at the end will reinforce your overall message to your audience. This also helps to keep you focused and direct when wrapping up the presentation.

What are some of your go-to presentation strategies? Let us know in the comments!

Engage your customers with a real voice

talking-guys-1428187Just like in consumer marketing, the voice of a B2B company is an essential component of that brand’s identity. It steers all company communication – in person, in print and online – and gives the brand consistency across multiple messaging platforms. Consistency isn’t the only goal, however. Your brand’s voice should resonate with your customers.

So, when your customers are other businesses, do you have to keep your messaging “corporate”?

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How to structure emails so people will read them

the-letter-f-1445141It’s no secret that people read emails differently than a book or magazine. And when it comes to email structure, F apparently stands for fantastic.

According to a Nielsen Norman Group study that tracked subjects’ eye movements across the screen, readers typically view Web content in a F-shape pattern. The average reader scans the top of the screen and then moves down the left-hand side, with a shorter horizontal scan of content further down the page. That means you have a limited amount of real estate to make your point and pique the reader’s interest. Here’s our guide to structuring emails that will catch your audience’s attention.

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To accomplish more, lead with kindness

ducks-in-a-row-1316756-1598x1062Growing up, the only business role model I had was my dad. He was wildly successful and ruled his company with an iron fist. He led with fear, and people in his wake were often left shaking in their figurative boots.

His motto was, “Look out for number one.” As you can probably tell, this motto was not based on the pre-flight safety demonstration that instructs passengers to put on their own oxygen masks before helping others. My father did whatever was best for him without considering how it might hurt those around him.

I remember visiting his office on rare occasions as a child. Sometimes he was there, and other times, he was not. When he was not in the office, there was a great energy and buzz. People were relaxed and happy while getting their work done. When he was around, no one would speak to each other unless they absolutely needed to. It was a very stressful vibe, to say the least. I thought that this was normal and okay (and boy, was I wrong).

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Gridlocked: Why coding grids matter for designers

image002I’ve spent my month knee-deep in web design projects, and I’m married to a developer. Avoiding the silent treatment during the coding phase of my projects is my obvious motivation for using coding grids. Beyond marital bliss, though, there are a few reasons why coding grids are so meaningful to the design process.

Designers use grids in web design to create visual balance; they serve as an invisible skeleton on which to lay out our designs. Developers use grids to help organize and automate the way a site collapses by screen size, not only making the site visually appealing, but also creating a framework for purposeful responsive design.

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How empathy can help you reach your goals

eye-closeup-1526251-1279x960Since I met my husband (flashback to Boston 1994!), he has consistently reminded me to put myself in others’ shoes so I could truly understand their points of view. When I was younger, this was hard for me, to say the least. Growing up, I had a clear set of rules about what was “right” and what was “wrong.” This rigid worldview left me struggling to see the unique perspectives of others and made it hard for me to connect with people. 

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What your email campaigns are missing

face-questions-1567164Wondering why your e-blasts keep falling flat? Successful email campaigns take time and patience. Some marketers make the mistake of blasting out emails without fully considering their audience, content or desired outcome.

From managing your email lists to perfecting your call to action, a few tweaks here and there can have a big impact on the success of your e-blasts. Read on to learn how to improve your email campaigns and open rates.

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