Creating and Delivering Offers that Work!
Welcome – Thank you for joining me – My name is Danna Crawford and I’m also known as Power Selling Mom – quick info about me … I’m an authorized local expert with Constant Contact. I’ve been using their service since 2006 and shortly before that I became a Certified business consultant, trained by eBay after being an active seller on the site since 1997 – With my experience of teaching eBay classes and workshops in partnership with the United States Postal Service, Constant Contact contacted me to go through their certification program and now I do webinars and local workshops on the topic of social media and email marketing.
Next I became the Development Director for our local Foodbank after a meeting with the board while I was teaching them about fundraising using Constant Contact and eBay, next thing you know they offered me a part time job that I couldn’t resist since I’m passionate about the Cause of feeding America – So those are the three hats I wear, Constant Contact, eBay and the Food bank! You can learn more about me by visiting my website at PowerSellingMom.com or just google my name “Danna Crawford”. NOW, enough about me, lets talk about YOU and how you can become a marketer!
Let me take just a minute to explain what Constant Contact is for those who may not be familiar.
Constant Contact is a do-it-yourself online marketing system. You can use it to be a marketer for your own small business or organization. The company is best known for its email marketing tools. It’s easy to create and send mass email, like newsletters or announcements and updates.
You can run special promotions or offers; you can build online surveys and polls to gather feedback; and you can promote and manage your events using Constant Contact with registration tools, payment acceptance and invitations – all in one place.
NOTE: All of this information is provided to me by Constant Contact as an Authorized local expert I’m happy to share these transcripts with you.
You can use all the tools and tips we’ll discuss today in your own small business or nonprofit marketing. You can be a marketer. All it takes is Constant Contact.
Before we jump into the content of today’s webinar, I want to give you a simple definition, or a framework, for what marketing really is.
You already know, generally, what it is – but when I say the word marketing, I mean something very specific and it’s important that we are on the same page. My definition of marketing has three parts:
What kind of results are we talking about?
These are examples of physical and measurable responses. These actions represent a decision by a person to do something in response to what you put out there. It’s not a mechanical response, it is human. And it must be measurable.
But keep in mind that your overall goals come back to why you’re in business or what’s going to keep you in business……generating revenue or donations. If the responses you’re getting don’t lead in some way directly to the bottom line, then you should evaluate why you’re seeking those types of responses.
Offering promotions – and soliciting for donations – are all ways to keep your organization in business, because, when they’re planned well, they will increase revenue. They are great ways to reward and engage current customers, clients and members – to bring in repeat business – and to attract new clientele.
A great place to start with generating revenue and donations is with email marketing. When it comes to offers and promotions, email marketing is hard to beat. A huge majority of U.S. adults prefer to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with. And about 7 out of 10 U.S. adults have made purchases influenced by a company’s email. When it comes to communicating your offer, it is a very influential medium.
91% U.S. adults like to receive promotional emails from companies with which they do business. That means that your loyal, frequent customers want to hear about your promotions. Source: Marketing Sherpa- survey of consumer attitudes Source: Convince and Convert
Today, we will be walking through the steps for an effective promotion, or offer, for your small business or nonprofit.
Now, let’s start off by identifying the plan for your promotion – first, by identifying your marketing goal, and then understanding how you’ll design your offer to achieve your goal.
When identifying your marketing goal, you want to keep it to one objective – the one thing you want to accomplish – otherwise, you can cause confusion for yourself and your audience. It might be:
Once you know your marketing goal, you can focus your marketing efforts on achieving it.
And when you’re thinking about what to offer during your promotion, you shouldn’t just be thinking only about what’s good for you and your business. You need to think about what your customers and supporters want!
As a small business or nonprofit, you have an advantage over larger organizations, in that you can have a more direct and ongoing conversation with your customers. These conversations can help guide you in planning your offer, because you’ll know the types of promotions that your audience will respond to.
Your offers and promotions should let your customers know that you value their business. That means giving them a deal on items or services that they already want. Don’t make your promotion about clearing out unwanted merchandise or promoting underused services. Instead, offer things that are already in-demand.
If you’re a nonprofit, you want to use events like special offers or promotions to nurture your relationships with donors and supporters, and show that you appreciate their contributions. You can do this by offering discounted membership, or incentives for giving, such as being listed as a sponsor for a program or event.
And regardless of whether you’re a for- or nonprofit organization, the promotions you offer should be desirable and help you attract new customers or supporters. Create a buzz to help you grow your organization!
Because email is such a powerful way to communicate, it’s a great place to start with your promotion. And when you’re sending out an email promotion, you have a lot of different options. You should consider sending separate emails specifically about your promotions, but also make sure you’re mentioning them in any regular email newsletters you send, as well as all of your social networks, on your website, and in your physical location if you have one – anywhere you interact with your customers and clients.
What kinds of promotions are best to include in your emails?
When you’re sending an email, you need to grab people’s attention! Just like you, your audience is busy, and when they open any email, they are subconsciously asking themselves: Why should I care about this? So when you create an email campaign about your promotions, make sure you’re answering that question. You need to tell them what’s in it for them and get their attention.
You should also make it clear to your readers what your offer is. When they know there’s something in this email that benefits them, that answers the question, “Why should I care?”, then they’ll be more likely to act on your offer. Make sure the top content of your email also answers this question.
One really important thing to take into account is your timing – we’ll talk more about this later, but you want to give people enough advance time to know about your offer (but not too much that they might forget about it!) and even a reminder just before or during the offer to keep it top of mind. Make sure you appeal to your audience’s fear of missing out J
Now, a lot of the words we use in promotions, like “free” and “now” can actually trigger email spam filters. Other things that set off the spam alarm are the use of all capital letters and excessive punctuation or special characters. If you need a guide on what NOT to do, take a peak into the junk or spam folder of your own email account! There is a balance to this – you may in fact be offering a free item, or a buy-one-get-one-free offer, so make sure your subject line doesn’t have words in all capital letters or excessive punctuation. Be specific about your offer with a strong subject line. You can check before you send – if you’re using Constant Contact, it has a built in spam checker. It will tell you if there’s a chance you might be seen as spam and suggests ways to fix any potential issues it identifies. Source: 35% of all recipients of email choose whether or not to open a message on the subject line alone. – inwise “The Magic Words: The Importance of the Subject and ‘From’ Lines for Email Marketing” (2012) 51% of emails are now opened on mobile (Litmus, January 2014)
And always make sure you’re sharing your promotions everywhere your audience is, including on social media
Now, some advice about your limitations – the “fine print” of your offer.
You are the expert on your business. When you’re considering the type of promotion or offer you are going to do, make sure you are prepared to deliver. If you only have one staff member, and your offer requires people to call in, you may need to get volunteers or even hire temps to help answer phones, which could chip into your bottom line – and you also need to make sure you have the technology to handle an influx of calls!
Make sure you have the inventory available to fulfill orders, and that your promotion is ultimately a benefit to you – you don’t want to offer such a deep discount that it negatively affects your bottom line. Not every discount has to be 50% off in order to drive sales. But make sure you’re offering things that your customers want, and you’re not just trying to clear out products that haven’t sold in the past.
You should also structure the deal so that you can continue with your normal business and increase revenue. If your regular clients can’t make appointments with you because all of your resources are tied up in the promotion, it could have a negative effect.
For nonprofits, make sure you have the staffing/volunteers to handle donation drives and plan special events with the goal of making money (for example, don’t host a black-tie dinner at a fancy hotel if you don’t think you’ll raise enough to cover costs and benefit the organization). With events, consider asking for in-kind donations, such as donated event space, catering or equipment, to help offset the costs.
You should also carefully plan out your restrictions, by explicitly stating conditions like the expiration date of your offer, or a limit of purchases per customer. If you leave loopholes, such as “25% off through Sunday,” without specifying WHICH Sunday, you could end up locked into a promotion you could only afford to run for a finite time.
You should ALWAYS check your communications for clarity and typos before you send anything out, but it’s especially important to your organization when you’re thinking about offers and promotions. Before you send out any email offer or promotion on social media, send it to yourself or a person you trust to go over the fine print and make sure it’s clear, not open to any different interpretations! And make sure all of your links work. You don’t want to send someone to an error page on your website when they’re trying to give you money!
I know this sounds like a daunting thing to consider, but there is a positive side to making sure you’re working within your own limitations. This is also a way you can give a sense of exclusivity to your offer, by giving your audience a sense of urgency – for example, say there are “Only 200 sale items in stock,” or “Just 50 tickets left,” or “5 more days to donate and receive a free gift,” and your audience will know they need to act right away.
Now that you have a marketing goal, and an idea of your promotion, it’s time to decide what form your offer will take.
Once you decide the goal of your offer, you have to determine the kind of offer you will make. These are some ideas that you can use, depending on the goal you set. We’ll go through each type of offer in detail.
You should choose your offer based on what is most likely to get a response from your particular audience. When you ask your audience what they want (through surveys, social media or just chatting with them in person) and take a look at their behavior, you can find out what promotions they will respond to and you can target your offer to the audience that will act on it. When done correctly, promotions can be very effective. In fact, 76% of email subscribers have made purchases from an email marketing campaign.
If you haven’t heard of segmentation, it’s a marketing term, and it means dividing people into groups based on information like interests and demographics. You might already be segmenting by categorizing or grouping your contacts. It’s important because some promotions are not one-size-fits-all!
Knowing what your audience wants will help you to create relevant promotions– so you’re not wasting your time sending messages they’re not interested in. And if they’re not interested in what you’re sending, they might unsubscribe. Every group of people includes a variety of interests and demographics, so your audience is likely to be divided as well – you might have regular customers or donors, while others are more seasonal; and your new customers or donors are not the same audience as your VIPs, such as vendors, partners, board members and investors. 76% stat source: SmallBusiness.chron.com.
According to a Constant Contact and Chadwick Martin Bailey study, 56% of people who unsubscribed from a business or nonprofit list did so because the content was not relevant. Source: Social Quick Starter.
Now that we’ve looked at marketing goals and types of promotions, let’s talk about campaigns – how you will deliver your promotion or offer.
A campaign doesn’t have to be expensive, or elaborate. Simple is great. To run a campaign, you push content out, like an offer, a free download, a promotion, or fundraising drive, and then you pull a response. A physical, measurable response. You get your audience to react. And a campaign can be sent by email and shared on social media.
Let’s talk about how to make a promotional campaign work.
Timing is important during promotions. When you are planning a promotion, make sure you are reminding your audience with enough advance notice about your promotion.
Plan for exclusive offers and sales – give your customers enough time to take advantage of discounts and your great deals!
Your promotion should make it easy for customers to answer your call to action. The content you include should help them understand the offer and take action.
This email from Taza Chocolate definitely does that, with a prominent headline that announces a 15% off deal and a discount code. It also helps customers find featured products, with enticing photos of items they have for sale.
You should use images, and communicate through them. An email service provider like Constant Contact makes it easy to turn a picture into a clickable link, so if someone clicks on one of the chocolate products in the email, they’ll be taken right to Taza’s website, where they can buy the product.
And use your design wisely – the template used by No Rest for Bridget is perfect for a retail promotion. It’s well-organized, clean, and has room for a description and buttons that are linked to the products’ pages on the store’s website.
Side note – try to avoid giving too many choices in your campaign. No Rest for Bridget sells other things besides wrap dresses, but they chose to highlight this one item in order to direct attention to a certain product. These are supposed to be quick decisions to act upon. Too many choices will actually reduce the number of actions a person will take. It’s a time limit thing. Think of your campaign as window shopping. You want to entice someone to come in right then and buy because of whatever got their attention in the first place.
Video is a powerful way to engage with your audience. People prefer watching a video to reading long web pages full of text. You can make video work for your business and your promotions.
Source: Forrester study: video content increases click-through rates by 300%.
Ratings and reviews are another way for you to engage your audience, and they can tie nicely into promotions and offers.
Example: Bottlewise: accessories for wine lovers.
(Source: BrightLocal “Local Consumer Review Survey 2014”) Source: Channel Adviser.
Encourage your audience to share your promotions by using social media tools.
And don’t forget to make it mobile. More than half of all emails are opened on mobile devices, and so you need to consider mobile design when you send out your email. What this means for you is that your messages should be short and easy to read, and your call to action very clear. This is especially important for promotions and offers – if people have to scroll down, or can’t find the action you want them to take, they’ll ignore or delete your message, or worse – they’ll unsubscribe.
Here are some tips about designing for mobile.
First, avoid using too much text. Think about it – do you want to read long and complex messages on your phone? When you’re on the go? No. Which means neither do your customers or supporters. Do you want to read a message like the one here? Probably not…
What you want is to see something more like this…the result of some basic considerations as you build your message:
Tip #2: avoid using multiple columns
Prior to the rise of mobile and mobile communication, emails had started to take on an almost website-like feel – with multiple columns and navigation elements similar to what you find on websites. But with mobile communications driving content to be more focused, and also just to fit a more physically condensed space, multiple columns cause problems.
In this example, you can see how the mobile email client has tried to figure out what to do with the multiple columns…and it has squished them together in a less than optimal way. Using multiple columns can also result in some mobile email clients forcing the columns together into one single column, but that could render the email almost unreadable.
Tip #3: clear and easy calls to action
You want to make it easy for your readers to take an action, to do something that keeps them connected to you – buy a product, register for your event, sign up for services or donate to your nonprofit. You can increase the odds of them taking that action by carefully thinking through the design of your emails.
Notice how the call to action is a button that is clearly separated from the rest of the content, both visually and spatially? This will make it easier for the reader to click on it. You should also consider making your images clickable links …they’re ready-made buttons waiting to be clicked!
A note here on buttons versus text links. What you really want to do is make it easy for your readers to take the action you suggest. Whether you give them large text links (with clear separation from surrounding text) or easy to tap buttons, make sure that there is no confusion about what action you want your reader to take: learn more? Register for an event? Make a donation? Make it incredibly easy…
You should also be thinking about where that button or link takes them – will they be dumped into a screen that is hard to see on a mobile device? That could derail the entire experience for them… So make sure you’re sending them to a website that is also mobile-friendly.
Tip #4: avoid using tiny fonts and hard to read colors
This one would seem to be pretty self-explanatory…but is no less important.
Tip #5: use images carefully
Images are a great way to convey a message, tell a story…create a connection. But if you don’t carefully consider how you’re going to use images, you may end up with some unintended consequences that lead, at best, to someone not reading your email. At worst they’ll unsubscribe from your list and you won’t be able to communicate with them at all. Here are some common challenges to consider:
Before you send any message out to your customers or supporters, TEST THE EMAIL BY SENDING IT TO YOURSELF!! And then view it with your readers in mind…and make changes accordingly. A few extra minutes of testing can save you from a lot of headaches later!
Now, let’s talk about the next steps you can take to schedule and follow through on your promotion.
Any time you set out to create a special offer or promotion, there are three things you should know. Let’s review them now:
Here is a guide to help you determine when your email audience best responds to your email. It can help you in all areas of your email marketing, but when it comes to offers, it can really help you focus in on the time and day of the week when your audience is most likely to open and react to your message.
First, find the best day for you to send your email. For this exercise, let’s say you have 300 total contacts. Split your audience into three equal groups – in this case, each group would have 100 people. You will use the same exact email message for the first part of the test.
Once you’ve identified the best time and day for your particular audience, you can begin to schedule your promotion. If you’re new to promotions, don’t feel like you have to do EVERYTHING on the screen. This is a pretty advanced plan, and it’s just an example, to give an idea of the types of things you can schedule during a promotion.
Keeping a calendar is a helpful way to stay organized during a promotion, or really any kind of marketing plan. You can use whatever works best for you, whether that’s a calendar on your smartphone or tablet, a Google doc, Outlook, a planner, or just a bunch of Post-It notes. Knowing when you’ll communicate with your audience and planning ahead is a big time-saver. To make it even easier on you, you can automate things…
We know you’re busy, and you might not want to be – or can’t be – on your computer all day. Save yourself some time by using some automation tools that do the work for you.
It doesn’t take a lot of time to keep on track with social media. Try at least 20 uninterrupted minutes at a time, 3 to 5 times a week to make social media planning, posting and monitoring part of your regular schedule.
Once your promotion or offer is over, you’re not done. In fact, analyzing how you did is one of the most important parts.
If you’re not measuring, you are not marketing. Period.
You should know who is opening your marketing emails, when and how many times – what they clicked on – individually and generally. Know how many people respond to your surveys, sign up for your events, pay for your events or pay for a special deal, or make a donation if you’re a nonprofit.
Here is one of the reports in Constant Contact. Most reputable email services will give you similar reports
You have to know what is working and what isn’t – because you should do more of what is working and stop doing what isn’t. You have to measure in order to know what will help you grow.
In addition to measuring and analyzing your results to help you understand what worked, there are a few ways you can follow through on your promotion to complete a great experience for your customers.
Continuing to engage with your customers through email and social media will keep you informed about what they want from you, and will keep them loyal, repeat customers.
If you want to learn more about this or other marketing subjects, you can visit my “Email Marketing” section or “Social Media Marketing” to learn more. Sign up for a free trial of Constant Contact, and access tons of helpful marketing resources within the platform.
Here is a copy of the WEBINAR REPLAY BELOW:
NOTE: Please know if you prefer some “hands-on” assistance, I am here for you. Visit the social media package options. I can walk you through or manage it for you. CLICK TO LEARN MORE.
Meanwhile, hope to see you on a future webinar. Subscribe to the list at: JoinMyNewsletter.com