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How to Use E-Mail as a Marketing and Engagement Tool

Posted By abod on February 6th, 2012

If you’re like most people, you regularly communicate with others via e-mail. Some days I send out as many as 25, but I know that for other people, that number is what they hit on a slow day. What you may not have realized is that there are ways to

expand each e-mail into an opportunity for branding yourself and maintaining an ongoing relationship with clients, making it more likely that they will do business with you in the future.

each email can be an opportunity for brandingYour e-mail is your content, and each message should be formatted and targeted appropriately, just like each letter you write on behalf of a business is printed on its stationary. Each time that your recipient opens up mail from you, you have a captive audience, even if just for a few seconds. Take advantage of it.

But on the other hand, we are constantly bombarded by too much e-mail. Here are my top suggestions about how to make your e-mail stand out and encourage further engagement with you and your brand, with a focus on the often-neglected beginning and the end:

Subject Line

No one will receive your message if they don’t open up the e-mail! Sometimes an e-mail conversation that goes back and forth multiple times may stray from the point in the initial subject line. Feel free to change it and start a new thread. It’ll keep you focused, and it’ll be easier to look up that conversation later. Do NOT send e-mails without a subject line, with something generic like the day of the week, “Meeting”, “From ____”, etc.

Instead, try some of the following proven techniques:

  • Use the subject line to begin a sentence, and make readers open the e-mail in order to see the end
  • Indicate that you’re providing proprietary information (ex. My top 3 Secrets for E-mail Marketing, Exclusive Offer)
  • Ask a Question

Signature

As an example, every time I send out an e-mail, I automatically include a custom signature.

e-mail signature that encourages reader engagement

I’ve seen some e-mail programs that include a company logo and/or social media buttons rather than links, but in a lot of e-mail browsers, these just show up as ugly attachments to the e-mail, which is why I recommend just sticking to plain links, rather than any inserting any images in the signature.

When I’m running a special promotion, I sometimes include that above my name. I figure that each time I communicate with someone by e-mail, I have a chance to subtly remind them what I offer.

You should note that each account and program you send e-mail from may need to be set up differently. This is especially important to keep in mind if you regularly send e-mail from multiple accounts and devices. For example, messages sent from Outlook on your work computer will have a different signature than e-mails sent from your personal account on an iPad, unless you change the settings on each.

Free Tool

WiseStamp is a free application that generates custom color e-mail signatures which you can integrate with Firefox, Chrome, or Safari browsers as an add-on, or your GMail, Yahoo, Frontier, or Rockmelt e-mail programs. You can easily customize your signature with your logo and social network profiles. You can also enrich your signature with your latest tweet, quotes, and other dynamic content. If done properly, it can be an easy way to jazz up your e-mail, but you can also easily get carried away adding too much stuff and ending up with a less-than-professional result. (You probably don’t really want a Homer Simpson quote at the bottom of your e-mails, unless you help produce “The Simpsons”).

All of this is of course in addition to the fact that your e-mail address should be branded. I wrote a blog post about the necessity of custom e-mail addresses and how to set them up a few weeks ago.

Of course, if you really want to know what will work in your particular market and with your particular target audience, you’ll have to try a few things out and test for yourself!Rich Text AreaToolbarBold (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + B)Italic (Ctrl / Alt + Shift + I)Strikethrough (Alt + Shift + D)Unordered list (Alt + Shift + U)Ordered list (Alt + Shift + O)Blockquote (Alt + Shift + Q)Align Left (Alt + Shift + L)Align Center (Alt + Shift + C)Align Right (Alt + Shift + R)Insert/edit link (Alt + Shift + A)Unlink (Alt + Shift + S)Insert More Tag (Alt + Shift + T)Proofread WritingToggle fullscreen mode (Alt + Shift + G)Show/Hide Kitchen Sink (Alt + Shift + Z)
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If you’re like most people, you regularly communicate with others via e-mail. Some days I send out as many as 25, but I know that for other people, that number is what they hit on a slow day. What you may not have realized is that there are ways to expand each e-mail into an opportunity for branding yourself and maintaining an ongoing relationship with clients, making it more likely that they will do business with you in the future.
Your e-mail is your content, and each message should be formatted and targeted appropriately, just like each letter you write on behalf of a business is printed on its stationary. Each time that your recipient opens up mail from you, you have a captive audience, even if just for a few seconds. Take advantage of it.
But on the other hand, we are constantly bombarded by too much e-mail. Here are my top suggestions about how to make your e-mail stand out and encourage further engagement with you and your brand, with a focus on the often-neglected beginning and the end:

Subject Line
No one will receive your message if they don’t open up the e-mail! Sometimes an e-mail conversation that goes back and forth multiple times may stray from the point in the initial subject line. Feel free to change it and start a new thread. It’ll keep you focused, and it’ll be easier to look up that conversation later. Do NOT send e-mails without a subject line, with something generic like the day of the week, “Meeting”, “From ____”, etc.
Instead, try some of the following proven techniques:
Use the subject line to begin a sentence, and make readers open the e-mail in order to see the end
Indicate that you’re providing proprietary information (ex. My top 3 Secrets for E-mail Marketing, Exclusive Offer)
Ask a Question

Signature
As an example, every time I send out an e-mail, I automatically include a custom signature.
I’ve seen some e-mail programs that include a company logo and/or social media buttons rather than links, but in a lot of e-mail browsers, these just show up as ugly attachments to the e-mail, which is why I recommend just sticking to plain links, rather than any inserting any images in the signature.
When I’m running a special promotion, I sometimes include that above my name. I figure that each time I communicate with someone by e-mail, I have a chance to subtly remind them what I offer.
You should note that each account and program you send e-mail from may need to be set up differently. This is especially important to keep in mind if you regularly send e-mail from multiple accounts and devices. For example, messages sent from Outlook on your work computer will have a different signature than e-mails sent from your personal account on an iPad, unless you change the settings on each.

Free Tool
WiseStamp is a free application that generates custom color e-mail signatures which you can integrate with Firefox, Chrome, or Safari browsers as an add-on, or your GMail, Yahoo, Frontier, or Rockmelt e-mail programs. You can easily customize your signature with your logo and social network profiles. You can also enrich your signature with your latest tweet, quotes, and other dynamic content. If done properly, it can be an easy way to jazz up your e-mail, but you can also easily get carried away adding too much stuff and ending up with a less-than-professional result. (You probably don’t really want a Homer Simpson quote at the bottom of your e-mails, unless you help produce “The Simpsons”).
All of this is of course in addition to the fact that your e-mail address should be branded. I wrote a blog post about the necessity of custom e-mail addresses and how to set them up a few weeks ago.
Of course, if you really want to know what will work in your particular market and with your particular target audience, you’ll have to try a few things out and test for yourself!
Path:

Your E-mail Address is Part of Your Brand

Posted By abod on January 11th, 2012

Flip through your Rolodex or digital address book and take note of how many employees of large companies have custom e-mail addresses. Has anyone from a large corporation ever contacted you with an e-mail address ending with @verizon.net? Probably

not. Just like a physical address in a premium location says something about a business, so does an e-mail address. But unlike fancy real estate, it doesn’t take a large budget to support a custom e-mail address.

Even if you are an entrepreneur or have a small business, you can make your e-mail a part of your marketing effort and brand identity with e-mail addresses that match your site name. Nothing screams “small time” like an e-mail address with your personal or business name @aol.com, @hotmail.com, @gmail.com, @netvision.net.il, or other free e-mail providers.

Why?

  1. An e-mail of pauljones@hotmail.com does not inspire a whole lot of confidence. Using your website’s domain name as the email extension looks more professional and promotes an image of legitimacy because setting it up requires verifying your domain.
  2. Each e-mail is a chance to promote your brand with a custom domain name extension is a great way to bring attention to your brand. In fact, it’s one of the most inexpensive ways you could possibly advertise!
  3. Custom e-mail accounts increase your control. From attachment file sizes to number of accounts, the flexibility of hosting e-mail directly is far superior to anything offered by free online e-mail accounts.

To be fair, many people won’t dismiss your professionalism or contents of your e-mail just because of your e-mail address extension, but it’s the type of flourish that can show you care about your brand and image, much like keeping a clean office does, or using custom stationary instead of regular computer paper.

How much will these custom e-mail addresses cost?

For a small business, a custom e-mail address @yourdomain.com may cost you nothing at all. The mail service provider that I trust the most is Gmail, and I’m not alone. Many individuals and businesses set up free @gmail accounts because:

  • You can access it from any computer or mobile browser
  • It comes with over 7 gigabytes of storage, and this will grow as time goes on (you can also buy more storage very cheaply)
  • It has an integrated calendar
  • It has an excellent spam filter

But not many businesses realize that GMail also offers integration with custom e-mail addresses. You can receive all of the benefits listed above @yourdomain.com with Google Apps. If you’re a small businesses that only requires 10 or fewer e-mail accounts or an educational institution, you can set it up for free. Large businesses are charged $5 per month per account or $50 per account per year.

In addition to the regular GMail benefits, businesses who integrate Google Apps in order to set up their e-mail accounts receive access to a list of additional features, including contact and document sharing.

In order to set up and verify your Google Apps account for your business, you’ll need access to your web host. Deployment steps and complexity vary with the size of your business. Google provides ample resources for setting up your custom e-mail address, but if you don’t have the time or know how, you can hire a professional like myself to set you up for a one-time fee. Don’t let anyone who sets up your GMail charge more than that $5 per month per account!

How to Receive and Manage E-mail from a Custom Domain

There are several options for using your new custom e-mail. The most basic way is to use webmail, accessing your e-mail directly through your web browser at gmail.com.

gmail e-mail address selection

Select which e-mail account to send on behalf of within GMail

Another option is to use a forwarder, which will automatically send along any email received at your custom address to another address. This could mean setting up info@yourwebsite.com to forward to your existing hotmail or gmail account. Forwarders are very easy to set up, but the downside is that by default, if you reply to any of this email, the reply will come from your old e-mail address instead of your website’s email address. GMail provides the option of letting you incorporate multiple accounts you own and to select which account to send a reply on behalf of from a dropdown menu.

Lastly, you can also set up your dedicated e-mail software (i.e. Outlook Express, Mac Mail) to receive messages sent to your custom e-mail account.

Get Started

Contact me about setting up an e-mail address at your domain and increase your online marketing efforts with each e-mail!

Resources for Free Stock Images

Posted By abod on January 5th, 2012
cant searching for free blog images

Don't delegate your image search - you can do it yourself with these free resources

Sometimes the biggest difficulties in blog writing isn’t the text but rather in finding relevant images to include.  It’s not too often that a blogger has his or her own relevant photographs, so of course, they turn to the internet.  But popping into Google Image Search and using an image before checking the copyright information can cost you a lot of money and trouble down the line.  So aside from screen grabs, generation your own images, or shelling out money for stock photos, try these free resources for stock images.

  1. Flickr Free Use: This is a section of the Flickr database of user generated photos that are copyright free.  Just be careful when using this area of Flickr that you stay within it and don’t accidentally grab an image that is not free use before checking its status.
  2. Image Stock Exchange: This is a pretty well-known free image database, but I haven’t often found that the search results yield images that I can use
  3. MorgueFile Public Image Archive: Probably the resource for free images that I use the most.  It’s also displays results from DreamsTime, which has an even better set of images, but the rights to use cost money
  4. Freerange Stock Images: It’s exactly like what it sounds like
  5. Photogen has a set of high-res image that are great for developers.  Just be sure to check their terms of use, which have some restrictions, like use of the images in website template development.
  6. For Israeli developers and writers targeting the local market, there is a wiki of Israel photos that are free to use without attribution
  7. The Israel Ministry of Tourism offers images that are free to use without attribution
  8. Wikimedia Commons is part of Wikipedia, and all of the images are free to use, but sometimes they ask for attribution – see the details under each image
  9. If all the above is not enough, here is another list of best search engines for free images

 

Do you know of any great resources for free stock images that I missed? Share below in the comments!

Facebook for Networking and Job Hunting

Posted By abod on January 3rd, 2012

I’ve written a lot about using LinkedIn as a professional networking and lead generation resource. But the wide penetration of Facebook shouldn’t be discounted — it’s the most popular social network after

all. I recently shared an extremely active Facebook group for sharing hi-tech positions in Israel with RYB Technologies, an outsourcing company specializing in hi-tech. This Facebook group is updated multiple times a day and has more than 30,000 members. In other words, it’s a terrific resource for these job placement professionals.

facebook recruitment search results

My Search Results for "Hi Tech"

Miriam Schwartz of RYB Technologies asked me how she can find other groups similar to the one I shared. Once you find a useful Facebook group or page, there are 3 major ways for finding similar groups and pages that can be a resource, whether you’re a recruitment agency, job hunter, or a business trying to generate sales leads.

 

How to Find Target Facebook Groups and Pages

1) Type in keywords into the search within Facebook and see what comes up. You’ll notice that Facebook starts automatically populating top results. You can also click “See all results” and browse through what it comes up with. So try entering some keywords and see if Facebook will tell you about related groups.

2) Look at which groups or pages a given group or page has listed as a favorite or “liked”. Often times they will list similar groups.

3) Post a question on your status update or within your target groups asking if anyone knows of other resources.

Miriam said that these techniques helped her find more Facebook resources and target markets.

Do you have any other methods for using Facebook as a recruitment tool that should be added to the list? Leave them in the comments section!

Top 5 Web Networking Tips from Jerusalem Professionals

Posted By abod on December 29th, 2011

One of the great things about living in the “startup nation” of Israel is that there are so many people with great ideas about new business opportunities and how to get them up and running — particularly on the web. Last night I attended an info

rmal get together for professionals in web development, IT, QA, and all sorts of other techie acronyms.

I want to share some of my top web networking takeaways with you, so that even if you weren’t able to shmooze in the lobby of the Inbal Hotel with us, you’ll be able to take a little Israeli “yozma” or enterprising with you!

1) Get Creative With Your LinkedIn Groups

The secret to web networking on LinkedIn isn’t to join people in groups related to what you do, but rather groups that are totally different from your field. Connect with people in different fields so that you can offer them unique services. Example: A web developer could connect with someone who is getting ready for a trade show in the optics industry, and offer to build them a website for the show.

Hat Tip: Hillel Porath

2) Use Interviews

Give your blogs a boost by conducting interviews. People love to be interviewed, so you’ll have a willing participant, easy content, and they’re likely to share the post with their network on the web. Example: My interview with Hillel Porath

Hat Tip: Hillel Porath

3) Mind Your Image Sources

Don’t think you can get away with using images that you find online if they’re not marked free for distribution. In addition to it being bad karma, it can also get you in lots of trouble. A team of Israeli lawyers is on the prowl to crack down on people who are using copyrighted material without permission online. Here are some resources for finding free images you can use.

Hat Tip: Kim Mayroze

4) Even Someone Else’s Video Can Help You Go Viral

Sharing a video, even if it’s not yours, can bring a huge boost to your website. Example: I Shop for Israel got a huge boost in traffic when they shared a Rocky Horror Picture Show Hanukkah video just before the holiday. Unlike pretty much any other YouTube video that gets embedded into a blog post, which requires that you go to the video page on YouTube in order to share, I Shop for Israel has embedded “share” buttons and in fact, the only way to share the video is through those buttons or a link to the blog post. What a creative way to get the word out about the business!

Hat Tip: Jackie Goldstein

5) An Elegant Website Doesn’t Have to Cost Big Bucks

For building a website in WordPress, a great place to start is Elegant Themes – you can purchase the entire series for only $39, and they’re highly customizable, even if you’re not a programmer.

Hat Tip: Jesse Nowlin

Thanks to everyone who shared their web networking tips and how they are growing their business. Here’s to a successful 2012 for all of us!