10 Digital Marketing Strategies for Small Business

Digital Marketing Strategies For Small Business

Dan Martin

Table of Contents

Digital marketing strategies for small business are much the same as they are for any business, but where more weight is placed on time and financial resources. So, we’ve compiled a list of ten strategies to help you grow your customer base with minimal investment.

Digital marketing strategies for small business

The growing presence of brands online has changed how they function and engage with clients. Where technology is used to integrate branding and advertising into everyday professional, personal, and entertainment activities.

Communication is the first strategy for implementing a strong marketing plan. Fortunately, there is cloud software in the market to help you in planning your projects.

When your whole team is on board, you’ll need to decide on the kind of strategy you’d like to use. Do you want to invest in video? After deciding on the direction you’ll take, it’s time to set the budget for your marketing.

Digital marketing is a buzzword in business. It’s something that we’ve heard about so many times and we will continue to do so. Marketers in both profit and nonprofit organizations have also realized its importance.

The success of digital marketing comes after a careful analysis of your strategies. And accomplishing that isn’t as easy as it sounds. In this article, we present you with strategies that you need to incorporate into your business.

1. Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is one of the most efficient methods for driving organic traffic to your website. For small business SEO, there are three types of SEO to consider: on-page SEO, technical SEO, and local SEO.

On-page SEO concerns optimizing each of your web pages to rank higher on search engines. It entails performing keyword research to identify those that fit the context of your page, then optimizing your content to target those keywords.

Technical SEO is the practice of optimizing your website and servers to ensure search engine spiders can crawl and index your pages without any friction. Some examples of this would be:

Increasing site speed

Ensuring all pages are mobile-friendly

  • Use SSL (HTTPS).
  • Create an XML sitemap.
  • Add structured data markup (schema) to pages.
  • Set canonical links for content.
  • Ensure there are no duplicate content issues.

Local SEO is a strategy that helps local businesses rank well for searches contextual to their geographic location. For example, if you’re a business operating in New York, local SEO would help you rank higher in searches than your competitor in New Jersey.

The advantage of SEO is that it’s highly scalable. You might start with a few pages targeting specific keywords, but once you’ve laid the foundation, your content (and therefore the number of prospects you reach) can expand exponentially.

It’s really important that you track the performance of your SEO activities. You can use something Google Analytics to monitor incoming traffic, but a tool like SEMRush will help you track your positions for individual keywords.

2. Content marketing

Content marketing is a strategy for attracting and engaging your audience by creating content they’re interested in. This can include:

  • Articles
  • Whitepapers
  • Ebooks
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Infographics

There are a few things you can achieve with content marketing, so we’ll start with the most obvious.

When your content is optimized for search engines, blogging is a fantastic digital marketing strategy for generating organic traffic. If you consistently create informative content for readers, search engines will identify your website as a legitimate source of information.

It also helps in establishing your credibility as a thought leader for your readers. So, if they have related questions in the future they’re more likely to return to your content before going to competitors.

Starting a blog isn’t a complex process, it’s never been easier to build a website and start publishing content. As we stated above, consistency is key, so you should publish blog posts at least once a week will help you improve your site’s visibility online.

Beyond driving traffic, you can also utilize content to help leads make purchasing decisions. For example, you could write an article on why your product or service is a better fit for leads than your competitors.

Once you start blogging, include a call-to-action for visitors to subscribe to your email list. This gives you a way to continue engaging leads with content and promotions.

3. Link building

Link building is the practice of obtaining links to your domain from other websites. This is one of the key factors that SERPs (search engines) use to identify whether or not your domain is an authority.

The more high-quality links you can collect, the better your domain score will become. But you will want to avoid links from low quality or spammy websites that have lower domain scores.

You can use tools like ahrefs to check the score of any domain, which will help you identify whether or not you want to request a backlink.

Of course, not everyone will just offer up a backlink to your content out of the good of their heart. Don’t get us wrong, it’s absolutely worth asking, but you’ll want to think of something you can offer in return. Some examples of this would be:

  • Backlink trade (you link to them if they link to you).
  • Write a guest post for their blog (and include a link to your content).
  • Create a Top 10 in the industry article (request a backlink from all those you intend to include).

If you’re focussing on local SEO tactics, your priority should be to obtain links from other (non-competitive) local businesses in your area.

When digital marketing for nonprofits, you may find that you have access to a lot more goodwill, so link building can be a little easier. Brands can benefit from associating themselves with you, and local (or even national) news organizations always need to produce content (for which you’d be a great fit).

4. Social media marketing

Social media marketing is an excellent example of one of the more cost-effective digital marketing strategies for small businesses. They give you access to audiences you may not have been able to reach otherwise and offer an avenue for businesses to market their brands.

The big three social media platforms for brands have always been Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. But you may also find value in more multi-media focussed platforms like TikTok, Pinterest, and Snapchat.

Here is how you can use social media platforms in your marketing campaigns:

  • Boosting brand awareness.
  • Recruitment of employees.
  • Recognizing your team for their efforts.
  • Sharing needful information about your business.
  • Engage with your audiences on topics they’re interested in.
  • Provide customer support.
  • Finding new prospects via keywords and hashtag searches.

It’s important to ensure social media posts are consistent with your brand messaging and targeted at your audiences. To make it easier, it’s best to have someone dedicated to this role such as a social media manager.

Social media marketing is aimed at personifying your brand. Thus, someone must be available to answer questions. They should be able to interact with users in your comment section.

5. Email marketing

Email marketing is still one of the most efficient digital marketing strategies for small businesses. The average email open rate for 2022 is 21.5%, which is 3.5% higher than it was in 2020 at 18%.

But what does it consist of?

Email marketing is essentially a strategy for engaging your readers (which can be customers, subscribers, or even employees). Each campaign will have its own goal, and the content you create should be focused on convincing readers to take actions that help you reach that goal.

For example, if you’re trying to increase conversions you may want to send a promotional code or discount to your subscribers.

Something that a lot of marketers struggle with is building an email list in the first place. We’d recommend using lead magnets to attract new subscribers, as it’s always best to offer something to people in return for a subscription (after all, they are giving you their personal data).

The most important aspects of email marketing are engagement and consistency. Everything from your email subject line to the content itself has to provide value or be of some interest to your readers.

You’ll also need to set KPIs and track the performance of email metrics to identify what’s working well and what needs improvement.

If you need a more thorough overview and some tips on getting started, head over to our email marketing guide for more information.

6. Video marketing

Whether they’re consuming content for work or fun, know that people love video content. Video marketing is a sure way of garnering interest and support from multiple audiences in a much more engaging format.

You can engage audiences with both long-form and short-form video content, but you must ensure that you keep content tight and relevant to the topic.

Here are four reasons that video marketing is one of the best digital marketing strategies for small businesses:

  • Personal. It inspires emotions and empathy. And you can’t get that from other forms of marketing.
  • Educational. Video will help you to educate your audience about your products.
  • Visual. People process video content faster then written content.
  • Memorable. People remember video content for a longer time.
  • Sharable. People are more likely to interact with and share videos over written content.
  • Searchable. Videos have dedicated search engines on YouTube and Vimeo (and others).

The downside is that video content can take more time to create, as you’ll need to consider the visual elements, scripting, editing, and promotion.

You may also need to invest in software that allows you to create videos easily, meaning video marketing may not be as cost-effective as other digital marketing strategies on the list.

7. Advertising on streaming platforms

YouTube is the second most used search engine on the web, which means that exposure via video marketing is becoming more important than ever. However, it’s not your only option when it comes to increasing brand awareness on these platforms.

You could consider advertising on YouTube, where ads are placed on video content being shared on the platform. But you also have the option of partnering with YouTube creators themselves, many of whom are actively seeking sponsorship from brands.

Of course, YouTube makes up only a fraction of online streaming activity. You can also consider other platforms like Apple TV, Netflix, and Amazon are in the comfort of people’s homes.

These would likely need a much higher rate of investment, so may not be suitable for small businesses, but it’s worth keeping in your back pocket.

If you do choose to invest in this, make sure you research the demographics of viewers first. It will help you to choose the right platform for your target audience.

8. Pay per click ads (PPC)

Pay-per-click (PPC) ads are a marketing strategy where businesses are charged each time the advert is clicked. This is essentially the inverse of SEO, where you pick a keyword to target but you pay for visits to your site instead of encouraging organic traffic.

If you have the budget and the keywords are relatively low competition, then you may well benefit from PPC as your ad is placed above all others.

For example, if you used Google Adwords for a PPC campaign, your ad would appear above all other links in a Google search.

This can be one of the more expensive digital marketing strategies for small businesses, so you will need to set a budget and carefully plan your goals.

9. Online surveys

Digital marketing is as much about retaining customers as it is finding new ones, which is why it’s odd that online surveys are often overlooked as a strategy.

Customers want to feel heard, and giving them the opportunity to be heard will go a long way in building relationships with them.

Small business owners can use surveys to collect valuable feedback from customers to identify what they’re doing right and where they need to improve. This will help you improve your business in the long term.

You can also send surveys via an email campaign to find out why potential customers just aren’t taking that next step. With that sort of information in your hands, you can action changes that impact your sales immediately.

But you can think bigger even than this. Market research surveys allow you to learn more about your customers, including their:

  • Likes
  • Dislikes
  • Demographic information
  • Geography
  • Interests
  • Hobbies
  • Jobs

Using this information, you can build customer profiles that illustrate who your target audiences are. Taking this data-driven approach to marketing makes finding and building relationships with prospects more effective and efficient.

Which is why we think online surveys one of the most useful digital marketing strategies for small businesses.

10. Quizzes

Another underutilized tool for digital marketers is online quizzes. These offer a level of interaction that you don’t tend to see with other strategies.

Think about it this way, your marketing efforts are about more than increasing sales (although that’s obviously important). They’re also about engaging your audience and making your brand seem relatable and personable.

These quizzes don’t have to be brand specific, they can target TV shows, hobbies, or anything your audience may be interested in to illustrate common ground between you and them.

Lead capture quizzes are also a fantastic way of growing your email lists, which gives you the opportunity to engage these potential customers further. Personality quizzes are particularly good examples of this, as everyone wants to learn a little more about themselves.

They’re also just a fun way to keep your customer base entertained. Not everything you do has to be a hard sell all the time.

Wrapping up on digital marketing strategies for small businesses

So, that’s our top 10 digital marketing strategies for small businesses. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by everything on this list, it’s absolutely fine to start with one thing at a time.

SEO is the obvious place to start, it’s free and there’s tons of information available online to help you along the way. Building a presence on social media is also a must, as it increases awareness and provides a space to share all your amazing content.

Then you’ll want to think about building an email list, you can use many of the strategies described here to help you do this (e.g. lead quizzes and other lead magnets).

You can worry about paid advertising once you start to see positive progress with the strategies you can undertake for free. That way your return on investment (ROI) will increase, so you can allocate financial resources to improving products and services and growing your company.

If you have plenty of funds for a marketing budget, but not the time to implement these marketing strategies, you could always consider hiring an agency to do this work for you.

We’ve loved diving into this topic with you, please do get in touch if you’d like something added to this list.

Why You Should Conduct Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Why You Should Conduct Employee Satisfaction Surveys

JBartlett

Table of Contents

Employee satisfaction surveys are crucial to the success of a company. It’s said that happy and satisfied employees work better with their teams, are more productive, and are more likely to stay with their companies for a longer period of time.

To understand how your employees are doing and if they have any concerns, conducting an employee satisfaction survey can be helpful.

Companies typically conduct customer satisfaction surveys but often neglect doing the same for their employees. As we previously mentioned in our blog, customers are the lifeline of your business and their experiences with you can contribute to your future success.

Similarly, your employees are also as important to your company, and knowing what they think is important to your continued success.

4 Reasons to conduct employee satisfaction surveys

If you need more information on why you should conduct an employee satisfaction survey, continue reading below.

1. Build an understanding of your employees

Employee satisfaction surveys are one way for you to understand what your employees are feeling. This survey can track their sentiments over time so that you can make sure you’re addressing their needs.

Moreover, this can help you understand if your employees need extra help, new resources, or if any changes in the company are not as favorable for them.

2. Improve your employees’ well-being

You should also consider your employees’ well-being. If employees are struggling with something personal or work-related, it should be your priority to assist in any way you can. Leaders can promote a culture of well-being if they can consider their employees’ physical and mental health.

For example, more employees are now favoring the hybrid work setup but most companies are insisting they come back to a normal work setup.

However, this can have a negative impact on how they’ve become accustomed to working. An employee satisfaction survey can easily highlight this and inform your strategy going forward.

3. Give your employees a voice

Some employees are used to being seen and not heard. This propagates a culture of employees keeping quiet on topics you need their input.

An employee satisfaction survey will provide a way for them to share their thoughts. This will let them know that you are listening to them and value their opinion.

For this, you might also consider an anonymous survey so that your employees can feel comfortable answering your questions.

4. Boost employee engagement

Conducting regular employee satisfaction surveys allows you to get your employees’ insights and opinions on company matters. With this, you can make improvements and changes to the workplace for your employees’ benefit.

This will help them feel valued, as they see that you’re considering their perspective when making company decisions. Which will go a long way in boosting employee morale and engagement.

This in turn engages employees that are more productive and are happier with their jobs. It will also help them feel more satisfied with your company, therefore, lowering employee turnover rates.

KwikSurveys Survey Making Tool

Conduct Employee Satisfaction Surveys

Whilst we get ready to launch Shout, you can start creating surveys on KwikSurveys. All our tools are privacy-first, ensuring your employee data is stored safely.

How to measure employee satisfaction

The easiest way to collect feedback on employee satisfaction (eSAT) is to use an online survey tool. This way, you’ll have access to a range of interactive question types to keep employees engaged and collect the data you need.

We’d recommend that your survey responses are collected anonymously, this will encourage employees to provide honest feedback.

When it comes to employee satisfaction survey questions, you’ll need to consider the different aspects of their job, work environment, and company culture.

For example, one of the most common factors to ask about is whether employees feel that have a good work-life balance. Questions such as this can gift huge amounts of insight to managers and human resources. Enabling them to action positive changes in the workplace.

Employee satisfaction questions

Here are some other examples of employee satisfaction survey questions:

  • Are your goals clearly defined by your manager?
  • Are you happy with the level of internal communication?
  • What changes would impact your role in a positive way?
  • Do you have access to all the resources you need to perform your role?

You’ll likely be asking a lot of closed-ended questions that require employees to agree or disagree with statements, for which you can use matrix (Likert scale) or multiple-choice question types.

But it’s essential that you collect open feedback as well. This will give you insight into why employees feel a certain way and will help you inform change.

Employee Net Promoter Score

Another method for measuring job satisfaction is to ask an Employee Net Promoter Score question (eNPS). This is similar to the standard NPS question, in that it asks a single question to gauge loyalty based on experiences. Although, you’d reframe the language to target employees instead of customers.

Here’s the eNPS question:

On a scale of 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend [Company] as a place to work?

Asking this gives you a birdseye view of how your employees feel about working at your company. But again, don’t just stop there, you should follow up with two or three open-ended questions to find out why they gave that rating and what improvements they can suggest.

Wrapping up

We’ve covered for reason for conducting employee satisfaction surveys and how to go about doing so. Hopefully you’re convinced that these could help you turn your company’s work environment into something employees are happy to be a part of.

If there are any other reasons for conducting these surveys you can think of, get in touch and let us know!

We’d also love to know what has worked well for you in the past, so we can share that with others looking for the same success.

If you’re hooked on improving your business with feedback, why not consider creating a customer satisfaction survey?

How to Ensure You are GDPR Compliant

How To Be GDPR Compliant

Table of Contents

GDPR compliance is not an option. It’s something that all businesses need to take incredibly seriously, putting in strategies and processes to ensure that they are 100 percent compliant. 

There are a lot of high-profile businesses that have been fined for non-compliance with GDPR. Amazon received a whopping fine of $847 million! Google has also been fined $56.6 million, H&M received a fine of $41 million, and WhatsApp has been fined $255 million!

Most businesses would not be able to come back from fines so significant. That is without even mentioning the reputational damage you will suffer if you are found to be in breach of GDPR. With that being said, it is imperative to comply with the privacy laws that are in place, and in this guide, we are going to reveal some steps to take to ensure compliance. 

What is GDPR?

GDPR is the EU General Data Protection Regulation. It is one of the most significant pieces of legislation in place regarding privacy law. It made it obligatory for businesses to make considerable amendments to their privacy practices and data protection efforts or they would face monumental fines. Read this GDPR guide for more information.

This law came into full effect in 2018. Although it is a European law, it impacts the entire world, as any business that has customers in the European Union must adhere to the rules that have been implemented.

The GDPR establishes the following:

  • Significant penalties for non-compliance
  • Mandatory breach reporting
  • Increased duty for protecting data
  • Enhanced personal privacy rights
KwikSurveys Survey Making Tool

GDPR Compliant Survey Software

Whilst we get ready to launch Shout, you can get started creating surveys over on KwikSurveys. All our tools are privacy-first, ensuring your customer data is stored safely.

The importance of the GDPR

GDPR requires the protection of European data subject’s rights and it also provides clarification regarding what businesses need to do to safeguard these rights when processing the personal data of EU citizens.

All organizations and businesses that deal with data relating to citizens in the EU need to comply with GDPR, whether that is one customer or one million.

The data that the GDPR concerns are personally identifiable information (PII), which can include:

  • Full names
  • Email addresses
  • Addresses
  • Medical records
  • Identification (e.g. driver’s licenses and passports)

However, knowing where to begin can be difficult, which is why we have put this post together. If you’re still struggling by the end of it, you may want to consider hiring a GDPR consultant who will be able to evaluate your current efforts and put a plan in place to ensure you operate in a compliant manner.

Steps to becoming GDPR compliant

Now that you have an understanding of what GDPR is and why you need to follow it, let’s take a look at some of the steps your business should take to make sure that you are compliant:

Make all of your employees aware of GDPR and the implications of it

There is only one place to begin, and this is by making sure that your employees know about GDPR and how it pertains to their role within your business. 

A lot of cyber attacks happen due to employee errors, known as insider attacks. This is because workers have not received sufficient training on data concerns and how to protect personal information properly.

This is why you are urged to begin by raising awareness across your business. Decisionmakers and key personnel within your company need to know about GDPR and its impact.

After all, the GDPR says that workers must receive frequently information security staff awareness training, so this is something you will need to provide. This training is imperative in terms of making sure staff members have the required knowledge about company policies, legal requirements, and regulations that apply to their daily operations.

Businesses also need to prove that employees have read GDPR policies and that they fully understand them. If you are able to provide this evidence, it is going to put you in a much stronger position if something happens and you need to prove that your company takes privacy seriously and has put the required steps in place to reduce the risks of a breach.

We know that there are a lot of business owners that skip this because they feel that it is an unnecessary expense. However, investing in security training now can save you a lot of money in the future.

If you are a larger business, you may also be required to appoint a data protection officer to act as the representative for matters relating to the GDPR.

Conduct frequent risk assessments and audits

It is specified in the GDPR that businesses need to carry out frequent audits of any activities involving data processing and that they must adhere to a number of data protection principles that will assist them in terms of safeguarding data. 

As a business, you will need to determine all of the following:

  • What data are you gathering?
  • Where are you sourcing this data?
  • Why are you collecting this data?
  • How are you processing this data?
  • How long are you holding onto data? 
  • Where are you transferring data to?
  • Is all of the data you are holding required?
  • Who has access to data?

These are referred to as data protection impact assessments and must take place any time you put in place or change a process that collects personal data.

To stop data breaches from happening, businesses need to minimize access to sensitive data and lower the number of places where they physically store data. 

By carrying out audits on a frequent basis, businesses can make sure that an appropriate framework is established so that customers’ data is kept secure and risks are mitigated. 

Defend all points of access

To achieve complete GDPR compliance, businesses need to make sure that every endpoint is protected. Sadly, a large number of data breaches that have happened could have been prevented if systems were patched properly. 

New vulnerabilities are discovered on a continual basis. If patches are not applied, hackers are going to break into the network by exploiting these vulnerabilities. 

To demonstrate that you are compliant with the regulations that are in place, you need to show that you have taken all of the steps that are required to secure your systems. 

Auditors may need reports of what patches were applied and when they were applied, so it is critical that you have the right systems in place so you can document the patches that have been issued accurately. Patches are critical in making sure your machines are stable, up to date, and safe from threats such as malware.

Put together an incident response plan

In addition to the points that we have discussed so far, it is imperative to put together an incident response plan to help guide your staff members.

As per the GDPR, all businesses need to disclose any personal data breaches to the relevant supervisory authority within 72 hours of the breach being detected. To efficiently and effectively comply with this, businesses must put together a plan that gives them the ability to respond to incidents in a quick, coordinated, and organized manner.

The plan needs to make it clear what steps must be taken. It should make sure that defined roles and responsibilities are applied to certain people within your business as well. This will ensure that you can manage the situation effectively and make the right decisions. 

Putting together an incident response plan is going to inform and educate staff members, enhance stakeholder confidence, improve customer confidence, and improve organizational structures. It will also help in terms of lowering the possible financial impact after a major data breach.

Implement a policy management system

Last but not least, another critical step when it comes to complying with GDPR is putting together a successful policy management system.

Compliance can prove to be an impossible task if you simply use current communication methods, such as corporate intranet and email. Nevertheless, if you implement policy management software, you can streamline internal processes, as well as successfully target areas that present the biggest data security risk and showcase legislative compliance. 

A policy management solution will give your business a centralized and easy-to-use solution that will help you in terms of the creation, storage, and distribution of critical policy documents.

A successful policy management system will have a consistent method for policy creation, adding structure to the procedures in place at your business and making compliance easier to track.

Wrapping up how to ensure you are GDPR compliant

So there you have it: everything you ended to know about GDPR and how to make sure you are compliant with this privacy legislation. This article is not intended to offer legal advice, we recommend that you consult a GDPR expert for how it may impact your own business or data processing activities.

You only need to turn on the news today to find out about the latest data breach. It seems that there is a significant one every day! The last thing you want is your customers to suffer because you have not protected their data effectively. 

At the same time, all businesses have to respect consumer rights in terms of how a person’s data is used and what data we hold on individuals. GDPR is simply not an option. It is a necessity. So, if you have not implemented stringent data and privacy protection processes at your business, now is the time to do so. 

Most Effective Marketing Questions You Should Ask in Surveys

Effective Marketing Questions In Surveys

JBartlett

Table of Contents

The market research industry in the UK is continuing to grow despite a slight slowdown due to the pandemic. As figures from Research Live have found, more than half of the companies involved in the area grew in the past year.

It shows just how key of an industry it is to grow through what has been an unstable time for businesses right across the country and the world.

Companies all turn to organisations that specialise in market research to gain knowledge for many reasons. It could be to keep up with current trends, find a target market, maintain a competitive edge over competitors, or better understand your customers’ needs.

Therefore, if you’re considering conducting a marketing survey to gather information about your business, you need to ensure its effectiveness. The only way to achieve this is by asking the right marketing questions.

But, how do you go about do this?

Have a clear strategy

This is the fundamental part of any survey; you need to ask yourself one critical question before you start. What do you want to achieve from the survey?

It’s worth pondering the principles of marketing multiple choice questions and answers before you start writing questions. Understanding how customers interact with certain types of questions is essential to writing effective marketing questions.

If you don’t have a marketing strategy, why are you even spending time going out into the world for your research?

Therefore, with a plan to refer to, elements of your questioning will already be dictated. For instance, if you aim to improve your product, then a simple question for customers is how well the product suits their needs.

The responses could provide vital information into potential development opportunities in the future.

KwikSurveys Survey Making Tool

Ask the right marketing questions

Whilst we get ready to launch Shout, you can get started creating surveys over on KwikSurveys. All our tools are privacy-first, ensuring your customer data is stored safely.

Build relationships

It’s essential to consider the psychological characteristics of your customer base. If you ask questions that involve feelings and attitudes towards your business or products, you can understand more about what they want from you.

In the book ‘This is Marketing’ by Seth Godin, he states one of the basic principles of marketing is building a relationship with your customers.

So, phrase your questions in an emotional manner, such as; which of the following is important to you? Or, what interests you?

By doing so, you can understand more about the customer and cater to their needs. Plus, they get a sense of you caring for their needs, which earns their trust and increases customer retention.

Target audiences with marketing questions

You should also consider the target audience for your marketing questions. Sending out blanket surveys to all your customers very rarely produces useful data, and may alienate people from responding to future surveys.

Respondents have to be motivated to provide feedback and the best way to do this is to send a survey at certain milestones or touchpoints. For example, you’d send a product feedback survey after a customer has made a purchase.

If you want to cast a wider net, a great way to find survey participants is to create interesting content to attract them, then ask for feedback related to the topic. For example, a killer blog post or personality quiz.

Address pain points

To improve customer experience, getting the answers to questions that you might not want the answer to is beneficial, despite being painful to read.

Don’t be afraid to ask what bothers or frustrates them about your product or service? How can you better meet their needs? It can be prudent to ask such marketing questions even if you haven’t experienced an awkward or challenging moment; remember you’re learning about your customers.

Generally, there are four types of pain points you should aim to address in customer surveys; productivity, processes, financial, and support.

There are many other things you can do to keep your customers happy, but asking them directly eliminates any guesswork.

Conclusion: Writing effective marketing questions

Regardless of whether you’re collecting feedback from existing or potential customers, asking the right marketing questions is essential to getting quality data.

Overall, a well-planned survey built around your overall marketing plan can help with your company growth and constant improvement.

Surveys can inform your strategies as we advance, build relationships and trust, help you avoid pitfalls, and hopefully ensure your business continues to thrive no matter what obstacles lie ahead.

With Shout, you can run long term surveys to collect data over time and continue to improve your understanding of your audience. Knowing your audience as well as you know yourself is the only way to create effective digital marketing campaigns and increase your return on investment.

How to Create a 30-60-90 Day Plan for Starting a New Job

How to Create a 30-60-90 Day Plan

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You have been hired, now what? Many people feel lost when they first start a new job and this 30-60-90 day plan can help to alleviate some anxiety.

In many cases, it can be difficult to adapt to a brand new environment and culture where you work as well as meeting all of your new co-workers. In order to ensure that they made the right hiring decision for their company, employers will want to see that you can successfully integrate yourself into your new company in 30, 60, and 90 days.

What is a 30-60-90 day plan?

A 30-60-90 day plan will set out specific milestones for you within 30 (1 month), 60 (2 months), and 90 (3 months) days of starting at your job that will help to ensure that you feel comfortable in your new position, and your managers have faith you can perform well in your role.

When to make a 30-60-90 day plan?

Before you accept a new role, ask your employer what milestones they expect you to meet 30, 60, and 90 days after starting. Once you have the plan in place, be sure to check in with your manager 30 days after starting so that they can assess how well you are performing.

30, 60, and 90-day milestones should be manageable, so don’t expect yourself to have completely conquered it by the 30-day check-in. It is better to have a plan that is flexible and can adapt as you go.

Benefits of creating a 30-60-90 day plan

Many employees are thrown into a new role with no direction on what is expected. 30-60-90 day plans set out specific goals and objectives that the company expects from an employee within 30, 60, and 90 days, so there will be less ambiguity in your role.

It helps ease the transition and allows you to be more productive in the earlier stages of your new job.

Once you know what is expected of you 30, 60, and 90 days after starting your new role it will be easier for you to ease into the position. 30-60-90 day plans also allow for flexibility if 30 days come along and it’s just not feeling right or there are some challenges that weren’t foreseen.

Scope of a 30-60-90 day plan

Before you start writing a 30 60 90 day plan, you’ll want to think about the overarching elements that it’ll be composed of.

  • Determine your top priorities
  • Create a list of SMART goals
  • Identify what metrics you’ll use to track your success

Top priorities

These are the broader aims of your plan, things such as:

  • What tools you’ll need to learn in order to perform your role
  • Who you’ll be in direct communication with on a day-to-day basis
  • Internal processes
  • Answers to common questions

It’s essential to identify these priorities in order to make the goals you set achievable.

SMART goals

SMART is a tool for planning achievable goals, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. 

Specific

Your goals should have a clear and specific focus in order for them to feel achievable. Nothing kills productivity like a problem that feels too big to solve, which is why you should avoid goals that are too general. 

For example, a goal to increase sales is too general. There are hundreds of ways businesses can increase sales, and not all of those will be relevant to your role.

A more specific goal would be to implement Abandoned Cart Emails that retarget leads who have already shown an interest in purchasing.

To narrow down your goal, ask yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important?
  • Who is involved?
  • Where is it located?
  • Which resources or limits are involved?

Measurable

It’s essential that you have a way of tracking your goals and measuring their success. This is how you demonstrate how effective your process is and gives an indication of when you have achieved your goal.

If we use the example from above, “increasing sales” is obviously not a measurable goal. By adding a figure or percentage to work towards, to make the task more digestible. For example: send automated emails to leads who abandoned their cart with the aim of getting 20 purchases in 90 days.

Is 20 purchases an impressive feat? Well, it depends on what you’re selling. But regardless of that, you can still demonstrate the effectiveness of a strategy by setting goals like this.

Achievable

It seems obvious, but your goal has to be achievable.  Even if it’s specific and measurable, you’ll still need access to the right resources and knowledge in order for the goal to be viable.

Don’t waste your time on something that’s not attainable.

Relevant

Your goals should be set in the context of those around you or in that of a larger plan. If your goal is completely unrelated to those of your colleagues then you won’t be contributing to anything larger than yourself.

That’s not to say your goal isn’t worthwhile, but this might not be the time to set it.

Time-bound

All goals should have an expected date for completion, something to work towards. This is the only way you can plan each stage accordingly and track their success.

Metrics for success

We’ve covered the ways you should devise individual goals above, but you should also think about what metrics you’ll use to track the success of your 30, 60, 90 day plan. Try to come up with at least one metric for each month of the plan.

How to create a 30-60-90 day plan

When you are creating a 30-60-90 day plan, you should ensure the milestones outlined will allow for success and productivity within the first few days of starting. A great way to lay a foundation is to use what questions and comments were made in your interview.

Look at how closely aligned your skills and previous experience are to what is required in this new role and how that may impact how quickly you can become productive.

If possible, you should consider speaking to the person who previously occupied your role, they may well have some tips and tricks for impressing your new managers.

What to include

While your employer may have given you some guidance on how they would like to see the progress of your role within 30, 60, and 90 days, it is ultimately up to you how to achieve this. There should be specific milestones in place for each time period, that you can aim to achieve.

30 day plan: Learning and familiarization

30 days after starting you will have met with your manager to discuss company culture and objectives.

Become familiar with the products/services your company offers, the target market, major competitors in the industry, and how your role contributes to overall business objectives.

Understand the infrastructure of your company network/systems and software, including the location of files, folders, printers, etc., as well as who has access to what information do they have a traditional hierarchical work set up or work in cross-functional teams.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions in these first 30 days. Curiosity is an indicator that you want to do your job well and reduce the time you need to take up from other people in the future.

Finally, look into the best practices for your role. Are you expected to create email campaigns? Take a look at the best practices for email subject lines.

60 day plan: Apply learning and develop skills

60 days after starting, you should be applying what you’ve learned and develop your skills.

Take time to formulate opinions on how the company’s products/services can expand their reach, identify new opportunities within target markets under-served by their current offering.

Stay up to date with industry news so that you are knowledgeable about recent changes in your field.

Continue to build your network, it is important in all roles, but especially in sales.

Begin applying what you have learned about the company’s infrastructure and technology systems to become familiar with how your department functions on a daily basis.

90 day plan: Demonstrate success

90 days into your role, the third month, you should aim to demonstrate success. Take the lead in performing tasks and show managers or stakeholders how far you’ve come.

Start to show how your actions positively impact shared projects and the business as a whole.

Consider attending at least one industry conference/trade show to build your network and learn how other professionals approach roles similar to your own.

30-60-90 day plan example

The sample below shows how the milestones outlined in the 30-60-90 day plan may play out over time, depending on what you are expecting to achieve. Remember that this is just a sample and your own plan will be tailored specifically towards your role.

First 30 days

Focus: Learning.

Priorities: Meet your team, gather internal resources, understand what’s required of your role, learn what’s expected of you by managers and stakeholders, and identify the challenges you may face.

Learning goals

  • Reference internal materials that are relevant to your role.
  • Access tools and platforms you need to perform your role, such as email accounts, CRM software, customer support systems.
  • Set meetings with colleagues and managers to acquaint yourself and build relationships.
  • Review current SEO strategies and editorial guidelines.

Performance goals

  • Write a blog article.
  • Post to social media.
  • Ask for feedback on your performance and work it into your plan.
  • Ask what other skills you need to learn in order to grow quickly.

Personal goals

  • Get acquainted with your team.

Second 30 days

Focus: Apply what you’ve learned.

Priorities: Start to perform the entirety of your role and determine how you can have a positive impact on the business.

Learning goals

  • Take 2 internal and 1 external training course to become more proficient.
  • Shadow a team member or manager to understand how your role impacts their work.

Performance goals

  • Write 8 blog articles (2 per week).
  • Compare engagement with your articles to that of pre-existing articles.
  • Create a social content calendar for the month.

Personal goals

  • Develop relationships outside your own team.

Final 30 days

Focus: Demonstrate success.

Priorities: It’s time to start forging your own path and take initiative within your team. Demonstrate the impact of what you’ve done so far and make suggestions on how to push the boat out. Here, you should start thinking about goals for the rest of the year (and beyond).

Learning goals

  • Identify courses or conferences that you can use to develop your skills further.
  • Review your past goals with the metrics you set yourself.

Performance goals

  • Perform your responsibilities at a higher level than before (more articles, more engaging content).
  • Pitch a project or campaign.
  • Complete a project or campaign and report on its success.

Personal goals

  • Immerse yourself in the company culture and social events, with the intention to become an advocate.
  • Lead a meeting with your team.
  • Demonstrate the value you’ve provided in the past 90 days to your team or manager.

How Shout beats out Google Forms

Shout Vs. Google Forms

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Whilst Shout is a newer online survey maker, we’ve had more than 20 years of experience in the industry with FreeOnlineSurveys and KwikSurveys.

From single-question polls to customer satisfaction surveys, we provide features for creating customizable surveys and analyzing their results.

You’re also able to create surveys with Google Forms, but there are more than a few differences between our tools. Here’s the lowdown on the differences between Shout and Google Forms.

Question types

The range of question types offered by survey tools can highlight how flexible that tool is for users. The more types that are offered, the wider range of surveys, quizzes, and forms you can create.

Shout

You can choose from 23 question types, including:

  • Multiple-choice questions
  • Open-ended questions
  • Net Promoter Score
  • Star rating
  • Matrices (Likert Scales)
  • Opinion scales and sliders (single and multi-factor)
  • Dropdown lists (single and multiple-choice)
  • Order ranking
  • Dates and date ranges
  • A/B testing (text, images, and videos)
  • Picture choice questions

If you’re not sure what question type you should use, no need to worry! Type your question text into the question prediction field (which is included in all surveys by default) and a question type will be assigned automatically. 

Google Forms

Select from 11 question types, including the basics such as multiple choice, scales and checkboxes.

Customer support

We know that customer support is incredibly important, whether you’re a new customer or an existing one. Here are the differences between Google Forms and Shout in terms of support and documentation.

Shout

You can email our dedicated customer support team and they will get back to you as soon as possible. You can also search for answers using our comprehensive Help Docs, which cover everything from creating surveys to using analysis tools.

You can also find broader information in our Blog, where we publish articles on topics from getting more survey responses to optimizing lead forms.

Google Forms

There’s no dedicated support email for Google Forms, but you can access basic documentation for their tools.

Customization and branding

Anyone can throw together a list of questions and call it a survey. But, to make it stand out you’ll need to customize its design.

Shout

You’ll have access to a plethora of customization tools when creating surveys with Shout:

  • Choose a survey theme to get started
  • Set background colors and images
  • Insert images and videos
  • Add a logo
  • Preview your surveys in desktop, tablet, and mobile mode
  • Remove shout branding
  • Use your own website domain for surveys
  • Customize survey links
  • Design custom emails with our easy-to-use block editor
Whether you’re creating a fun quiz to engage your employees or you want to match survey design to your website, you won’t be short of options with Shout.

Google Forms

Google Forms does offer some theme customization options. You can add a header image to your form, set a theme color, and select a background color. You’re also able to insert images and videos.

Collecting responses

The more variety you have in collecting responses can often determine how much traction your project can get. So, let’s take a look at the different methods of collecting survey responses with Google Forms and Shout.

Shout

You can share your surveys, quizzes, and forms in multiple ways. Here’s the rundown:

  • URL link
  • Send via email invitation
  • Shout Audience (purchase a survey panel)
  • Embed on your website
  • Create pop-up or slide-out surveys
  • Use a QR code
  • Share to social media

The URL link provides a simple and quick way of sharing your survey with respondents. All you need to do is copy and paste it in all the places you want to collect responses.

Our email invitations tool allows you to create and fully customize emails that include your survey link. You can also track responses and send reminders to those who’re yet to respond.

Set criteria using Shout Audience and we’ll find respondents for you within a few days.

Embed your survey on a web page in line with all your other content. Worried about design conflicts? Our customization features will enable you to match your form design to that of your website.

Add a simple line of code to a button on your website to trigger pop-up or slide out surveys

A QR code is automatically generated for any survey you create. Save this to your device, print it, and place it where your respondents are. All they have to do is scan the code with their camera app and they’ll be taken directly to your survey.

Share your project to one of the below social media sites with a click of a button:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • Stumbleupon
  • Whatsapp

Google Forms

Share the link to your project, send via your Gmail account, embed the survey on your website or share to Facebook/ Twitter.

Data analysis and reporting tools

Now comes the most important feature of any online survey tool, reporting and analysis. What do these entail? Well, it’s everything from how your raw data is presented to you, the tools you have at your disposal to identify patterns in that data, and methods of presenting that data in a professional way.

Shout

Your responses are collected in real-time, so there’s no waiting around to analyze your data. The quick report will show the totals and averages for each of your questions, but you’ll also be able to view the full answer sheet via the Individual Responses tab.

You’ll also have access to powerful filtering and comparison tools that enable you to identify patterns and trends in your data.

For example, this question in a 360 degree feedback survey asks whether the respondent is the subject, a peer, or a supervisor:

You can then set a filter to show responses based on the answer chosen by respondents. Allowing you to create and save separate reports for each of these categories.

You can also compare data based on answer choices. Using the same example as above, you could compare 360 feedback between two or more of those categories.

There are many other rules you can set to drill into your data, including:

  • Survey campaign sent
  • Response date
  • Shout Audience campaign
  • Survey completion
  • Email campaign sent
  • Email open rate
  • Email click rate
  • Email group
  • Email segment

You can switch your charts between Donuts, Bars, Pies and Lines (some questions have their own graphs like Net Promoter Score), customize the background design of your reports, and add images, headings and text to provide context to your data.

You can make your digital report accessible with a link and share it with stakeholders or you can export it as a PDF. You’ll also be able to export your data as a spreadsheet.

Google Forms

Data is presented as set charts and graphs in the summary section. The question tab allows you to view the number of responses for each question’s answer choice. You can also view the individual responses of each respondent.

In terms of exporting your data, this can be done by printing your question results or exporting to Google Sheets.

What are the differences between Google Forms and Shout?

As we’ve outlined above, you can see there’s a fair share of differences between Google Forms and Shout.

Shout is a robust tools with a wide array of features intended to make creating surveys, quizzes, and forms as easy as possible.

Google Forms does offer basic survey creation tools for free, but you have less choice when it comes to customization, collecting responses, and analyzing results.

What else does Shout offer?

Shout is much more than an online survey tool. We’ve integrated state of the art email marketing features, which you can use to create email campaigns and send survey invitations with more customization than you’ll find anywhere else.

When an email campaign has been linked to a survey, your email metrics are merged with your survey data into a single professional report. You also have the unprecedented ability to filter and compare data within your report based on both surveys and emails.

Why is this useful?

Say you’ve sent your surveys to a number of groups. You can filter and compare survey data for each of these groups.

Not impressed yet?

You can also identify your most engaged customers (those with the highest open rates) and compare their feedback with your least engaged.

Still not impressed?

How about if you could create contact groups by segmenting based on their feedback? This would allow you to find out what’s most important to your audience (whether it’s content or products) and group them accordingly.

By doing so, you’re able to send more targeted email campaigns to these groups, which will increase your open rates and build better relationships.

Wrapping up

This was a comparison between Shout and Google Forms at a glance. If you have questions about our tools or how we can help you conduct research, create engaging quizzes, or build beautiful forms, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Best Practices for Email Subject Lines and Increasing Open Rates

Best Practices For Email Subject Lines

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When it comes to email marketing, collecting email addresses is only part of the battle. Now you have to find a way to increase opens and clicks. Email subject lines are often the deciding factors in whether or not subscribers click to open. Its purpose is to convince readers that your campaign has value and they’ll benefit from reading it.

Much like to title tag of a webpage or H1 or a blog post, they have to be optimized in a way that encourages engagement. They’re not meant to give all the information to subscribers in one space, but rather to summarize your content or inspire a specific action.

Email subject line best practices

Below, we’ll go over some of the best practices for writing good email subject lines that naturally encourage higher open rates.

Personalize subject lines

Personalization is one of your strongest tools when it comes to marketing. And by this, we mean more than just throwing a subscriber’s name into the subject line, everyone already does this.

If you want to catch their attention and encourage more opens, you’ll need to be more specific. What are their hobbies and interests? What’s going on in their city? Is there a milestone you can reference? These kinds of details are more likely to engage subscribers than something that can be applied to everyone.

With Shout, you can use Merge Tags to personalize email subject lines with the information you’ve stored in custom fields. You’ll have access to all our default tags (like name, email, and company) but you’ll also be able to create and use your own.

Keep them short and sweet

Your subject line should be short, sweet, and to the point. Email clients will only display a set number of characters before trimming the rest of the text, and you don’t want to fall victim to this.

But beyond this, you have to put yourself in your subscribers’ shoes. The average office worker receives 121 emails per day, that’s a lot of subject lines to read through (and you know we really mean skim through).

So, don’t compound the problem by writing something too wordy.

A study by Marketo found that subject lines with 41 characters, or 7 words, tended to perform the best with recipients.

Email Subject Line Open Rates Based On Length

Be descriptive, but don’t give away too much

You want to encourage opens by showing you have something of value to subscribers, but you don’t want to reveal your hand too soon. If you give them everything they need in the subject line, they have no reason to open your email.

A great way to do this is to ask your subscribers a question, like:

“Do you need more organic traffic?”

By doing this, you’ve highlighted the topic of your email and engaged them immediately.

Use action-oriented verbs

Subject lines are very similar to calls-to-action (CTAs), in that they use specific language to encourage readers to take action.

Here are a few examples of action-oriented verbs:

  • Learn
  • Improve
  • Download
  • Increase
  • Join

All of the above words give you a glimpse into the context of the email and inspire people to take action.

Take a look at some other powerful words you can use to capture your subscribers’ attention.

Avoid spammy words

There are also words that you’ll want to avoid using in your email subject lines to avoid being blocked by spam filters.

Here are a few examples of words that may trigger spam filters.

  • Buy
  • $$
  • Extra income
  • Bargain
  • Cash
  • Get paid
  • Passwords
  • Open
  • Opt-in

Take a look at this more comprehensive list of email spam trigger words.

Don't overuse punctuation

Often, subject lines are written with the best intentions but are perceived in a completely different way by recipients.

Especially when certain punctuation is used, like exclamation points (!).

They can be a great way to convey tone but you don’t know how it will translate when read by others. You might intend to express excitement but you risk it being read as aggression.

If you think it’s adding value to your subject line, by all means, go for it. But only use it once.

The overuse of punctuation can also be a red flag to web servers, and your email may be marked as spam. Plus, this doesn’t look great:

“60% of all products for the next 3 days!!!!!!”

Never use ALL-CAPS

Using all-caps is also bad practice. These subject lines never read well and won’t do your open rate any good. Think about how this looks:

“LOWEST DISCOUNT EVER, BUY NOW”.

It will catch your recipient’s eye, but not in a good way. Establish trust and build authority with non-spammy subject lines to improve open rates. Don’t use cheap tactics, NOBODY LIKES IT.

Limit the use of emojis

Once upon a time, emojis were a fresh way of making your emails stand out from the crowd. When done right, they can still add something to subject lines, but there is a risk of making your email look tacky.

Here’s where your own judgment comes into play, as there’s no hard and fast rule for this. If your brand or emails usually have a playful tone, you’ll be able to pull this off.

But if you’re just adding emojis so your subject line stands out, you can alienate your audience.

Exercise caution and question what works for your tone of voice.

Couple your subject line with a persuasive preheader text

You’ll also see this referred to as Preview Text, it’s a customizable email field that shows next to or below your subject line in inboxes.

It’s intended for giving recipients a sneak peek of your email content. The amount of text that shows is dependent on the individual’s settings, so you want to pack a punch in the first few words.

Use this in tandem with your subject line to demonstrate everything you have to offer. Not writing preheader text would be a folly, as email clients will pull the first lines of your email by default. That never looks good.

Test email subject lines

It’s always best practice to run your subject lines past colleagues or friends before sending your email. If you don’t have anyone to consult, there are some great free tools you can use to improve your subject lines, for example, OmniSend.

You’ll also want to track the performance of your subject lines after you’ve sent the campaign. Email open rates can be a good indication of how effective your subject line is.

Finally, you should also consider A/B testing. You can use the results to determine:

  • How long your subject lines should be
  • What phrasing works best
  • What power words you should use

Split testing isn’t a one-stop-shop, ideally, you would be testing for each subject line, but that can be time-intensive. So, we recommend that you perform an A/B test for your most important campaigns.

Writing email subject lines that increase open rates

Now that we discussed the best practices for writing subject lines, let’s get stuck into some specific tips for increasing your open rates.

1. Create a sense of urgency

Creating a sense of urgency in your subject lines encourages subscribers to take action. If you state your offering and put a time limit on its availability, people will want to act before they miss out.

Here are some keywords that create a sense of urgency:

  • Expiring
  • Last chance
  • Limited time
  • Now
  • Still time

Don’t flood inboxes with constant updates. This applies to your current email series and any others you may have plans.

The number of emails you send should be based on the length of time you have set.

For example, if your recipients have 5 days to claim a discount, you should send one email at the start of this promotion, then one just before the discount is about to expire.

You want to send enough emails to ensure you’re at the forefront of their mind, but want to avoid spamming their inboxes.

Then wait a little while before you use this tactic again. The more often you try to create a sense of urgency, the less effective email subject lines will be.

2. Tap into their natural curiosity

By our very nature, people are curious. If you can find a way to tap into this you’ve taken a big step towards writing compelling subject lines.

One way of doing this is to present an information gap between what you know and what your subscribers know.

Or share interesting stories that want to be read. For example: “How this CEO doubled his business in 3 months”.

It’s absolutely essential that you deliver on the promises you make when using this strategy. If your email content doesn’t live up to the subject line, you’ll lose all the trust you’ve worked so hard to build with your subscribers.

Here’s a great article if you want to learn more about curiosity subject lines.

3. Share offers and deals

If you have an active discount or deals, you should communicate this with your readers in the subject line. People love to save money, so you’re guaranteed to see an increased open rate when using this strategy.

The deals and discounts don’t even need to be something you’re offering for free yourself. Think about other things your readers are interested in or tools they may use (things that are not in direct competition with your own business or offering). Then create a curated list and share those with your audience.

Here’s a list of email subject lines for deals and offers.

4. Tailor to your audience

Low open rates are often a result of low interest. Just because people have subscribed to your email list, doesn’t mean they’re all interested in the same thing. It’s essential that you learn more about your audience in order to create tailored email campaigns based on personal interests and needs.

You can learn more about your subscribers by analyzing what emails they’ve opened in the past and sending similar content.

Or you can just ask them. Send an email asking what content they’re interested in or why they signed up in the first place. Maybe it was because they wanted to be kept up to date or just because they were interested in a series of content. Identifying that will go a long way in improving the way you personalize subject lines and increase open rates.

To go one step further and increase the amount of valuable information you can compile about your subscribers, create a survey to learn more. If you’re concerned you won’t get enough feedback to make an informed decision, take a look at our tips on how to get more people to respond to a survey.

5. Establish your authority

People subscribe to email lists in order to solve a problem, and a lot of the time that problem is a lack of information. You can establish your authority and build trust with your readers by writing timely and relevant content.

Research what’s new in your area of expertise and consider how it could impact your audience. If you can identify something in your research that could be a problem for them, translate this into an eye-catching subject line and allude to the solution you can provide.

Or you can even just compile a list of articles that may be of interest to them and provide snappy summaries for each.

6. Drop famous names

This isn’t always the right choice for your email, especially if the name in question doesn’t relate to your business or brand in any direct way. But, dropping a famous name into your email subject line is a surefire way to increase open rates.

7. Use numbers and statistics

Using numbers and statistics in your subject lines presents a more subjective and descriptive view of your email content.

Research has found that using numbers in blog posts increased clickthrough rates by 206%. Whilst that exact statistic may not be directly transferable to subject lines, we can still infer that you’d likely see an increased open rate using this tactic.

In blog posts, you’ll often see examples like: “15 tips for increasing site traffic”.

You can see this clearly demonstrates value in the content.

Conclusion

Email marketing is still one of the most effective methods of increasing sales and engaging your audiences. But if people aren’t opening your emails, your time and resources are being completely wasted.

By improving your subject lines, you’re much more likely to increase the chance that people will open and read your content.

To do this, your first port-of-call should be to adhere to the best practices for email subject lines:

  1. Personalize subject lines
  2. Write as if you’re speaking to an individual or exclusive group
  3. Keep them short and snappy
  4. Describe your content, but don’t give away too much
  5. Use action-orientated words
  6. Avoid spammy words and phrases
  7. Don’t overuse punctuation
  8. Never use ALL-CAPS
  9. Limit the use of emojis
  10. Couple your subject line with persuasive preheader text
  11. Test your subject lines

Once you’ve followed these best practices, you can then focus on strategies for increasing your email open rates further:

  1. Create a sense of urgency
  2. Tap into their natural curiosity
  3. Share offers and promotions
  4. Tailor content to your audiences
  5. Establish your authority
  6. Drop famous names
  7. Use numbers and statistics

Now that you know the specifics of writing email subject lines, you need to evaluate your email marketing campaigns as a whole. Take a look at our complete guide to email marketing.

How to Keep Your Customers Happy When They’re Busy

Keep Your Customer Happy When They're Busy

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You know first hand just how busy life is, and the same goes for your customers. High customer satisfaction means repeat business and glowing reviews. If you’re looking to improve experiences and reduce friction, take a look at these tips on how to keep your customers happy.

1. Simplify your website

Whether you sell products or services online or in-store, it’s important to create and maintain a high-quality website. ThinkWithGoogle found that over 60% of purchases began online, meaning your website will influence whether you make a sale.

So, it’s essential to maximize your brand’s visibility in search engines and ensure your website is both accessible and easy to navigate.

This rings true for existing customers as much as it does for prospects. If a customer has a question, it’s more than likely that they’ll go to your website for answers. If they can’t find what they’re looking for, they’ll need to contact customer support, meaning more time out of their day.

Your website also needs to look good and function the way customers expect. An unreliable site host, slow page speeds, poor website design, and cluttered pages can all have a negative impact on customer experience.

2. Make It mobile-friendly

Between 2018 and 2021 the number of purchases made using mobile devices doubled, now accounting for around 50% of all eCommerce sales.

Because of this fact, it’s essential that your website is mobile-friendly to keep your customers happy. But, how do you go about this? Tt should be responsive, meaning all pages should load and function correctly, regardless of the user’s device.

You should also ensure that buttons and text are large enough for smaller screens. Here’s a great article if you want more tips on how to make a website mobile-friendly.

Usability isn’t the only reason to focus on a mobile-friendly design. Google now takes a mobile-first approach to index pages, encouraging all website creators to uphold the same standard for mobile as desktop. If your website isn’t optimized for mobile, you could see a drop in rankings (and traffic).

Test-drive it first to ensure nothing looks wacky when you zoom in or scroll. Most content management systems (CMS) will allow you to preview your page in desktop, tablet, and mobile modes, so you can make changes ad hoc.

Then you can use Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool to identify any problems with your pages. This tool won’t necessarily help you orient your pages for mobile-first indexing, but it will allow you to improve the experience of mobile users.

3. Improve your response time

Nothing is more aggravating than having a question or issue, but not being able to get the help you need. This is an issue many customers face and can leave them with a bad taste regarding your business.

If you have a large enough team, you can increase response times with social media customer service. This also means your customer interactions are in the public view, allowing for others to find answers quickly whilst also promoting your organization as one that cares about its customers.

Consider creating a separate handle for customer support. This will improve efficiency and separate issues from general comments and inquiries.

You can also use live chat, which will show response times and alert you to new conversations.

Other companies like HelpScout also allow you to track Time To Resolution (TTR), a customer service metric that averages the time it takes for support staff to resolve tickets.

A quick response time (and a quick resolution time) will keep your customers happy, making them feel valued and improving their overall customer service experience.

4. Make important info clear

If you notice certain questions keep popping up, put together an FAQ page to enable customers to get the answers they need. This also means you reduce the amount of time spent on responding to customers.

This is also a good place to include your return policy if you are selling merchandise. When questions you have addressed on your website are asked, you can quickly refer them to the FAQ page to save everyone time.

If you’re a SaaS business, you may have created help docs for your users. You can refer to the most common searches that still result in a ticket being created to determine what information is missing.

Then as your last line of defence, you must make your contact information readily available.

5. Grow with customers in mind

One of the best ways to build customer loyalty is through communication. Keep them up to date with regular email campaigns and always consult them before making any significant changes.

We also recommend you use surveys to collect customer feedback, demonstrating that you value their opinion and giving you vital data to inform decisions.

You should also create customer satisfaction surveys at least twice a year, to highlight areas for improvement, along with Net Promoter Score surveys to identify your loyal customers.

Another way to demonstrate value is to set up loyalty programs or to acknowledge milestones in the customer journey.

For example, has a customer been with you for a whole year? Show them your gratitude with a personal touch by offering a discount on their next purchase or by gifting them some promotional swag boxes which will help you establish an emotional connection with your long-term customers.

Conclusion: keeping customers happy when they're busy

We live in a world that is constantly on the move and craves the next best (and fastest) thing. Keep your busy customers happy by creating a website that is both simple and mobile-friendly for ease of use on the go.

Increase your response time via social media and customer service apps, and don’t underestimate the power of a well-put-together FAQ page.

By streamlining the customer experience, you are putting you and those who matter most to your business on top.

Email Scrubbing: How to Clean Email Lists

Improving Sender Score By Email Scrubbing

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What is email scrubbing?

Email scrubbing is the process of removing subscribers that are impacting your campaign performance and sender score with ISPs.

Here are some examples of contacts you should remove when scrubbing emails:

  • Unused email addresses
  • Inactive respondents (with low open and click-through rates)
  • Duplicate emails
  • Those who report your emails as spam
  • Email addresses that cause bounces

Why email scrubbing is important

ISPs monitor your campaign stats and the number of bounces, blocks and spam reports to determine your sender score. If you have critically low rates of engagement and high bounce rates, you’re likely to receive a lower sender score.

The absolute worst thing that could happen is your email domain is blocked. By scrubbing your email list, you will:

  • Receive fewer spam complaints and avoid your emails being sent to the spam folder
  • Increase open rates and click-through rates
  • Improve email deliverability
  • Increase sender reputation (score)
  • Save money per campaign and increase ROI

Maintaining a clean email list will allow you to continue producing email marketing campaigns that your audience engages with.

How often should you scrub email lists?

This is entirely dependent on your industry and the frequency of your email campaigns. If you’re a seasonal business, it’s probably not a good idea to clean your lists more than once a year. You’ll want to see what your engagement rates are like at your peak times and use that data to determine whether you should scrub email addresses.

But if your campaigns are more consistent, say two or three times a week, you’ll have a lot more data to benchmark on. You should consider cleaning your list at least once a year, but the higher number of emails you send the more of a foundation you have to make a decision.

Thing to consider before email scrubbing

Before cleaning your list, you’ll want to determine if there are any other reasons why your emails might be performing poorly.

Bounces

Before cleaning your list, you’ll want to determine if there are any other reasons why your emails might be performing poorly.

For example, is there a technical reason your emails are bouncing? Is there a way you can remedy that without losing valuable contacts?

Email clients

Or, are all your inactive users using the same email client, e.g. Gmail? This may be a sign that this particular client is diverting all your emails to spam or junk folders. You may have to query with the support team of an individual email client to resolve issues like this.

List building and consent

Or, are all your inactive users using the same email client, e.g. Gmail? This may be a sign that this particular client is diverting all your emails to spam or junk folders.

It’s also important to consider how you collected the email addresses and how they’re segmented into lists/ groups. Have you given contacts an option to change what email lists they’re subscribed to? Maybe they only want to receive emails related to products and services as opposed to marketing content.

More importantly, did you collect consent to send emails with a double opt-in? If you haven’t collected consent from contacts there’s a higher chance you’ll end up sending emails to a spam trap. These addresses look the same as all others but are sued by ISPs to identify senders who aren’t maintaining a healthy list.

Inactive customers

You should also be cautious when removing paying customers from email lists. The best course of action here would be to group customers into an ‘inactive customers’ list and break them down into product life cycles. If you have customers subscribed to an annual plan, they might not feel it’s warranted to read your emails.

It’s up to you to decide whether you continue to send emails to these customers, but why not consider a more personalized approach, where an automated email with new features or plans is sent towards the end of their current subscription.

How to clean email lists (email scrubbing)

Once you’ve explored all the avenues above, it’s time to start email scrubbing. We’ve broken this process down into six easy steps:

  1. Identify inactive subscribers
  2. Segment the inactive subscribers
  3. Attempt to re-engage those contacts
  4. Clean the segment
  5. Remove duplicates, spam and bounced contacts
  6. Re-engage your clean email list

1. Identify inactive subscribers

What is an inactive subscriber? These are contacts who haven’t engaged with your emails over a set period of time. This period of time is determined by you and should be based on how frequently you send emails.

For example, if you only send emails once a month, inactive subscribers could be defined as those who haven’t opened an email in six months. But if you send multiple emails a week, you can reduce the defining period of time to three weeks.

Of course, there are those who’ve never engaged with your emails. These may be people who’ve signed up with a secondary email address or even bots that have subscribed to your list. You can easily identify these contacts and remove them from your email list.

2. Segment the inactive subscribers

The simplest way to do this is from inside your email marketing tool.

With Shout, go to “Contacts”, select “Segment” and create a new segment. Enter the criteria you’ve set to define inactive subscribers and then give your new segment a name, like “Inactive Subscribers”.

3. Attempt to re-engage those contacts

If you can save some of the contacts you’ve worked so hard to collect, now’s the time to do it. Think of something enticing to get your subscribers to re-engage with you. For example:

  • An exceptional piece of content
  • A discount on their next purchase
  • A competition or prize draw
  • Early access to a new feature or product

Ask yourself why they signed up in the first place, there had to be some reason. Very few people will subscribe to your email list out of the good of their hearts. The problem may be your campaigns have veered too far from what contacts originally wanted or needed.

Or maybe that isn’t the problem, maybe you already solved their problems and that’s why they don’t feel the need to read your emails anymore.

Here’s your chance to make a survey and ask your subscribers why they don’t read your emails and what you can do to spark that interest again.

4. Clean the segment

Think of an amount of time you’re happy to wait and see if your subscribers re-engage, maybe that’s a week, maybe it’s a month, it’s up to you.

If they haven’t opened your email in that time, it’s probably time to remove inactive contacts from your email list. If they’ve opened the email, but haven’t clicked any links you need to decide how valuable those contacts are to you. We’d recommend keeping them and continuing to deliver top quality content, you might just have to find the right fit for them.

To scrub your email list with Shout, all you’ll need to do is select the segment then choose “Unsubscribe” from the dropdown.

You might want to export the list beforehand and keep the inactive subscribers on file, again this is your call.

5. Remove duplicates, spam and bounced contacts

You also need to remember to remove any email addresses that cause bounces (especially hard bounces), report your campaigns as spam (which can have a negative impact on your sender score) and any duplicates that you may have on your list.

If you’ve uploaded contacts to Shout, we’ll automatically flag any duplicates as the list is being uploaded. And even if they subscribe multiple times using an [online form], you won’t be charged for duplicates and we won’t send multiple emails to them.

To identify any subscribers that fit the above criteria, you can navigate to “Contacts” and filter by bounces, spam reports or duplicates to find them. You can then use a bulk action to unsubscribe them for a clean email list.

You could also consider using an email validation tool (email list cleaning service) such as Zerobounce, which provides a bulk email verifier. Essentially, you can upload your mailing list and their tool verifies email addresses for you.

6. Re-engage your clean email list

Now you’ve finished your email scrubbing, it’s time to set a benchmark performance. Create a campaign and send it to your newly scrubbed email list, wait the usual amount of time you would before analyzing performance and then take note.

You can compare this to your last performance review (before you cleaned up your email list) to visualize the effectiveness of email scrubbing, but more importantly, you’ll want to use these email metrics as your new benchmark.

Keeping your list clean after email scrubbing

Once you’ve cleaned your email list, you have to strive to maintain that standard. When collecting new subscribers, ensure to use a double opt-in process and send email campaigns that are relevant and useful.

This should be at the forefront of your mind from the very first email you send to contacts. Take a look at how to create a welcome email that engages subscribers and keeps them coming back for future emails. Then, once you’ve learned more about them, move onto creating drip email marketing campaigns that deliver valuable and personalized content.

Another way you can maintain list health is by allowing contacts to manage their own email settings. So, create a form they can use to change list preferences. If you don’t do this, their only option will be to unsubscribe, which means you lose them altogether.

Hopefully, we’ve given you everything you need to clean up your email list and improve the performance of your campaigns. If you’d like more tips, head over to our complete email marketing guide.

Chasing Outstanding Invoices Without Losing Customer Loyalty

Chasing Outstanding Invoices and Collecting Late Payments

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You’ve been operating as a business for a little while and some outstanding invoices have started to build up. It’s easily done when you’re focussing on providing an excellent service and maintaining a high level of customer experience.

But, chasing overdue invoices and payments can be a daunting task. On one hand, you know customers should have no problem paying for the service you’ve provided. But on the other, you don’t want to taint your brand image by coming off as a loan shark (if you’ll excuse the hyperbole).

Thankfully, it’s entirely possible to get in touch with a customer about late payments without alienating them. And if you continue gathering customer feedback, you can mitigate any negative effect of chasing invoices and improve your overall customer engagement strategy in the meantime!

Why timely payments are crucial

Even if you’ve been a business owner for some time, you might still occasionally feel awkward when chasing outstanding invoices from clients or customers. These conversations can feel uncomfortable, but you can’t afford to let late payments slide.

After all, as ZenBusiness notes, when your customers pay you on time, you can create more accurate projections for your company’s future and plan your financial investments for the upcoming months.

You’ll find it easier to estimate cash flow and identify what projects require more investment in the future.

Chasing outstanding invoices (in 7 steps)

If you’re currently waiting on late payments from your customers, here’s how you can collect the funds while maintaining positive relationships with these customers. 

1. Send friendly payment reminders

First, it’s important to simply remind your customer that they have outstanding payments. You can accomplish this by sending out friendly reminder emails. Ideally, it’s best to send out emails like this right after the due date passes without payment.

You can include a copy of the due invoice with the email. This gives your customer a chance to address the situation immediately – there’s always a chance that the invoice was accidentally deleted or lost, and they might not have realized what happened.

In a scenario like this, they will likely be apologetic and process your invoice as quickly as possible.

2. Get in touch with the payment manager

What if you’ve sent a couple of reminder emails, but you still haven’t received any response? Your emails might not be going to the relevant staff member’s inbox.

If you suspect that the employee who handles accounting and invoicing has not seen your invoices and reminders, it’s time to get their specific contact information and get in touch with them directly and request payment.

Once they hear from you, they might be able to remedy the situation within a day or two. An email would work fine, but a phone call to the right people would lead to a much quicker resolution.

3. Communicate with kindness

As you communicate with the customer and work to receive the late payment, you might find yourself feeling annoyed or frustrated. This is perfectly understandable, but you do not want to express these emotions to your customer.

Doing so could cause them to take their business elsewhere. Instead, aim to communicate with kindness, even in the midst of stressful situations.

Revechat recommends actively listening if your customer explains their reasoning for the late payment, showing empathy when necessary, and using positive language throughout your conversation.

Rather than criticizing your customer, emphasize the importance of collaborating to come up with a plan for moving forward, which could mean setting a new deadline or creating a custom payment plan. They will be grateful for your flexibility!

4. Utilize outside resources

What if you feel like you’ve tried every direct method to encourage your customer to make the payments, but they still haven’t paid what they owe you? At this point, it may be time to utilize an external organization such as a collections agency in order to handle the rest of the payment process.

As a business owner, you already have a lot on your plate, and there is only so much time you can afford to spend chasing down late payments. By outsourcing this responsibility, you can return to your more pressing responsibilities.

If you’ve never worked with a collections agency before, you might be confused about how to get started. Collection Agency Match suggests looking for an agency that is licensed in your state and has expertise in your specific industry.

You should also seek out a collections agency that uses communication methods you’re personally comfortable with – some agencies might contact debtors through letters, while others might call them on the phone.

5. Consider legal action for outstanding invoices

In the event that you’ve taken all the above steps to collect payment for outstanding invoices, you may be left with no option but to pursue legal action.

This is the last resort and in no way should be your first port-of-call, but it’s an eventuality that you should be prepared for. The processes involved in this differs from country to country, so we’ll direct you to resources for the correct legal procedures for unpaid invoices in the UK and the same for the US.

6. Optimize your invoicing process

What can you do to avoid this situation from occurring again in the future? Now is a good time to review your invoicing process from end to end and see if you could implement any improvements.

For instance, have you been creating invoices from scratch with a word processing program and then sending them via email? This means that your invoices could get lost more easily or raise formatting concerns with billing departments, which can lead to delayed payments.

Instead, you could invest in invoicing software that will keep all of your invoices organized and enable you to process payments and send out automated reminders with one program.

Here at Shout, we use Chargebee to manage our invoices and for receiving payments. Their accounting system allows us to control all of the above from inside their tool and chase outstanding invoices with customizable reminders.

But, there are plenty of options for accounting software out there for small businesses.

7. Incentivize early payments

This is also a good opportunity to look over your existing payment terms and decide if you should adjust them. For example, should you add late fees into your contracts? Do you want to shorten your allotted payment window from 60 days to 30 days in order to boost your monthly cash flow and avoid long waiting periods for large payments?

If you want to encourage your customers to pay early in the future, you can come up with strategies to incentivize early payments! For instance, you could start offering discounts for early payments. If they know they’ll save money, your customers will be eager to pay you ahead of time!

Conclusion: Chasing outstanding invoices and collecting late payments

No business owner enjoys the process of going after late payments. But this is just a necessary duty for entrepreneurs, and it will happen to every business owner eventually.

It does not have to spell out the end of your customer relationships. By following these tips, you can request payments for overdue invoices with ease and encourage timely payments in the future!

Are you interested in improving your strategy for customer engagement and collecting insights? Email marketing tools by Shout can transform your business! Request a free trial through our website today.

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