E-signatures: The Easy, Low-Cost Touch Point to Apply NOW

Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.netLast week I wrote an article exploring the ease and comfort of social media marketing vs. email marketing for our business. With email being the preferred method to reach out to contacts and customers, you can make it doubly effective by including a custom e-signature.

Don’t let the term ‘custom’ intimidate you, though. This just means you can take it from the standard:

Sincerely,
Kristen

to

Peace,
Kristen Reed-Edens
Kris the Scribbler
www.kristhescribbler.com
314-856-5747
Don’t fight it. Let me write it!

or even something snazzier to fit your personality or your message. For instance, if you have a scanner, you can scan your own signature into your e-signature, tinker with some features and make it really fancy. Or, you can use varying fonts, sizes and colors to make it look professional.

The custom e-signature isn’t just about your name, either. Consider these questions when building your e-signature:

  • How would you like to close your email?
  • What would be important to your readers?
  • How would you like to be contacted?
  • What would you like the reader to do next?

Scribble some ideas down and then consider these extras:

  • Your tagline
  • Social media icons
  • An accomplishment: top-selling author, recent award recipient, new title or position
  • Links: website, latest blog post, online news story about your business or an accomplishment, link to an upcoming event
  • Images: your logo, a portrait, presentation image
  • Creativity: add a little humor, inspirational quote
  • Call to action: invite your readers to sign-up for your e-newsletter or to download a white paper, discount or other freebie.

Your answers and extras will help keep you top of mind, plus inspire your readers to take further action.

Still stuck for ideas? Take a look below at a few samples of e-signatures I’ve collected and examine those that come to your inbox.

To create your own, most email tools offer basic e-signature options and with a few clicks of the mouse, will automatically include your e-sig within every email.

If you’d like something more detailed, or you don’t want the hassle of creating your own, companies like Wisestamp.com, Docusign.com, Rightsignature.com, or Hellosign.com can help you out. Some of these services offer free signatures (as long as you carry their ad within your signature). Others offer paid services. The beauty of this is there are several options to explore.

Ready to give it a try? Experiment with your e-signature and then send me an email to show and share!

Happy writing,
Kris the Scribbler

(top of page photo credit goes to Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net)

A few samples from my inbox:

Victoria's e-sig

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*

Kathy Bernard
kathy@linkedWISE.com
kathy@getajobtips.com
314-620-1184
LinkedIn profile

*

Flourish and Prosper,
Andy
Andy Magnus
www.MyTaxBuddy.com
(817) 413-0303   FAX (888) 870-7884
Since email can be altered by some magic I do not understand, I am not responsible for anything contained herein.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

*

Kate Brockmeyer
(Founder)
314-420-7173
Twitter: stlbwc
Website: businesswomenconnecting.com

*

Michele Burghardt, Principal
Mareck Marketing Group LLC
DivorcedMilitary.org
314.566.1418
A referral is the greatest compliment of all; please feel free to pass our name on to a colleague.

*

Carolyn Hall
Here’s to your Blossoming into Progression!
CL3 Agency
203-565-6170
www.cl3agency.com

www.about.me/carolynhall

Please ‘like’ and ‘share’:
www.blogtalkradio.com
www.facebook.com

Please join my networks:
www.linkedin.com/cl3agency
www.twitter.com/cl3agency

*

N. Bauman-e-sig image

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nancy L. Baumann
The Book Professor
(636) 787- 7817
“Changing the World, One Reader at a Time”

*

Laura Wiley
Principal|CMO
Marketing Lift, LLC
314.324.0532 | @LauraMWiley
laurawiley@marketinglift.net
Check out our new site! MarketingLift.net

*

Lone-Orange-email-signature-art2
     314.749.0252 c    |    314.282.7462 o   |   www.LoneOrange.com   |  Tiffany@LoneOrange.com
     Proudly recognized as the SBA Home-Based Business of the Year 2013. Read the Announcement 

 

 

Social Media vs. Email: Which Content Plan Works Best for You?

Online Mkg by Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.netThis topic comes to you courtesy of MediaPost.com and their recent article entitled, Hoping for Social: Depending on Email and based on the 2015 Marketing Trends infographic at Strongview.com. The article opens by saying “Social media is the second most popular marketing tactic…” Though the article is based on research of companies with at least 100 employees, my question is how do small businesses and entrepreneurs factor in social media and email into their marketing efforts?

According to the article, for the companies with all those great employees, their biggest obstacles related to social media success are:

  • employee skills
  • measuring effectiveness
  • creating a strategy

As small business owners, we’re often a one-man-band handling these same issues on our own.

The set-up: Most of us have the standard social media plan: LinkedIn, Facebook business page and Twitter. Those who are really savvy probably have a YouTube account, Google+ and Pinterest, but how effective are these for you? Which are you actively involved in? Which platform best reaches out to your target audience?

And how does this compare to your email marketing activities?

Of all the methods just mentioned, email is the oldest form of online communication—but not by much. We are all capable of sending and receiving emails that we now prefer email contact over cold calling or follow-up phone calls. Just as with the larger companies, email marketing is an easy way to keep up with customers and connections. Social media is quickly growing to be the top outreach method, but we just aren’t comfortable with it yet.

It’s all about comfort: For me, blogging and emailing are my two main activities for keeping in touch. It could be because I’m a writer and I’m very comfortable writing. The important thing to remember is to go where your ideal audience is and to do what makes you comfortable. Stepping out of your comfort zone takes time, but it will come if it’s important to you, your audience and your business.

And ease: My social media activities are focused on LinkedIn. Why? Because—for me—it’s an easy and immediate way to connect with people I meet through local networking groups and national organizations. From there, I extend those relationships by joining LinkedIn groups that complement my specific audiences. It takes time, but this activity has created business for me. The other platforms (and yes, I have accounts in all those mentioned above), are slowly working their way into my monthly agenda. However, it’s a matter of comfort, familiarity, and scheduling that keeps me focused on what works. But remember: what works for me, may not work for you—and that’s okay!

As small business owners, what are your social media and email preferences? Which marketing tactic is your strength? Why? What plans do you have for branching out in 2015? Please leave your comments and ideas in the section below. I’d like to write a follow-up to MediaPost’s article, but from the point of view of small, one-man-band business owners.

And if you’re considering LinkedIn for your 2015 marketing plan and would like to update or improve your profile, I’m offering $50 off profile writing services (regularly $325).

Happy writing—and reaching out!
Kris the Scribbler

photo credit: Stuart Miles of freedigitalphotos.net

Testing the System

A writer’s life is thought to be one of the most isolated careers for a person. While I do enjoy the peace and quiet of my home office, I get most of my inspiration from getting out and about. A recent trip to the dentist has created the motivation for today’s blog.

I needed an old filling refilled so while I endured the drilling, the numbness and mouthfuls of dental equipment, I shared ideas for online marketing with my dentist. His questions were similar to those we all face to keep our business top-of-mind.

Dr. D wanted to attract new patients to his dental clinic. During November he offered a $99 cleaning, x-ray and exam. Quite a deal! He had purchased ad space in a local publication to market his special. The result—only ‘a few’ responded to the ad, far less than he expected. When he asked how I discovered his special, I told him it was all by chance: I called to make an appointment for myself. The office manager told me about the special, otherwise I never would have found out—even though I receive the publication he placed the ad in (which I don’t normally read.)

I asked Dr. D about his email marketing plan. While Dr. D was aware of all the benefits and applications of ‘all things online’ no one in his office had time to implement this action.

We all know this to be true, right? Being a business owner, however, and working with businesses that are making the online transition, these are the tips I’ve learned and shared with others:

Start by collecting emails 1 patient/customer/client at a time. So, if you work with 10 clients per day, then you’ll have 10 email addresses at the end of the day. By the end of the month, there’s a potential to collect 30 or more. That’s plenty to start an email marketing campaign.

In Dr. D’s case, his clinic is third generation with 40 years of files to update. For Dr. D and others with an overload of files to go through, it’s tempting to start alphabetically. However, other factors such as visit frequency or age may be alternatives for updating files.

If your customers ask why you want their email address, here are some honest answers:

  • Your office is moving to an online format to save costs for their office and the patient
  • You wish to give current patients exclusive offers and specials before going public
  • There will be no sharing, no spam
  • They will receive emails quarterly or monthly—tell them in advance what to expect so there are no surprises

Input each email address into a spreadsheet now. Why? Doing a few each day is easier—and less frustrating—than sitting hours on end inputting hundreds of emails one by one by one. If you have a huge collection of business cards, there are great services like Cards2Lists that creates a CSV file which is compatible with most email marketing software tools.

By the time you have a decent collection of email addresses—and 40 or so would make a good starting point—you need to find an email marketing tool. You’ll find information about costs, services and getting started tips at Timing is Everything–Sometimes. While this blog addresses the newsletter topic, the basics for finding email marketing software are the same.

You are ready to create once you have gathered your email list and downloaded them into your email marketing tool.

Testing for ROI (return on investment). In Dr. D’s example, he’ll create a new ad—one for the newspaper and one for the email service. His email may read something like this:

Dental Care Specials for the Budget-Conscious

Hello Customer,

As a current customer of Bob’s Dental, I’d like to share our current offer for families and friends. For $99 you’ll receive the three primary services to maintain your dental health: cleaning, exam and x-ray. This service usually costs $199—that’s $100 off for you.

To make it even better, introduce our special to those you know and for every new referral, you BOTH get $25 off your next dental visit.

Call our office for more details or to schedule an appointment.

Sincerely,

Dr. Bob

Click Send. When your customers start calling, ask where they discovered the special. Tabulate the results and compare that with the costs of print vs. online marketing. This is not to say that one is better than the other, but you may find a better response through one method over the other. Or, you may discover that both methods rate equal in response, which means you need to advertise equally in these areas. You may also discover that certain demographics respond better to one marketing format than others. This will be helpful when you have a new clientele you wish to reach. The goal of this test is to discover where your strongest marketing efforts occur, and with which audience groups.

The bonus of these two options (email vs print) is that you don’t need a website, a blog or social media to test ‘the system’. These are basic options and will give you a starting point to determine your ROI.

Yes, getting started is slow and time-consuming, but starting now and starting small is easier than attacking your records all at once. It saves time, frustration and errors. As business owners, we don’t have time for much else!

Peace and plentiful writing!

Kristen

Timing is Everything—Sometimes

A few months ago, I wrote a blog series (part 1, part 2, part 3)on creating e-newsletters for business. Then last week, an online friend asked me a couple more questions. With thanks and inspiration from Elaine Johnson (Cape Cod Landscape & Garden Design), I’ll address her questions below, sharing some of my personal experience, but also from working with others muddling through the early stages of e-newsletters.

Elaine’s first question: Choosing an email marketing company, and template, that doesn’t grind her to a halt.

The first task is to Choose An Email Marketing Company. There are so many to choose from, ranging in cost from free to not-so-free. While we all like free, keep in mind the less you pay, the more you must DIY (do it yourself).

To determine whether DIY is for you, ask yourself:

  • Do you have time to DIY?
  • Do you have time to TIY—teach it yourself?
  • Do you have the patience to DIY or TIY?
  • Do you have the tools?

If any of your answers are ‘no’, then you may need to consider paying for this service.  (For me, every answer was a no.)

For every DIY or TIY task you take on, you must consider where this extra time comes from, and is it worth it to you. The time dedicated to this task is time lost somewhere else: promoting, growing or performing your business…or your free time. This is your opportunity cost: how much (time) money are you potentially losing on this task to save money from hiring it done?

*side note: this applies to any aspect of your business:

  • Website development
  • Social media
  • Taxes
  • Graphic design
  • Content creation
  • Other business-related tasks

Search The Newsletters You Receive. Explore the styles, the options, and anything else that might appeal to you. Make notes of what you like, or, if your memory is pretty good, make mental notes of your preferences. Then scroll to the bottom of the page. You’ll find the email marketing company logo in the lower right corner. Do you see a trend in the styles you like?

If you know the newsletter owner and are comfortable talking with him or her then contact that person. Ask why they chose a particular company. Ask the pros & cons. Get an opinion. Ask them what they would do differently! From the information you gather, you’re now ready to limit your choices to 2 or 3. Then make a final decision based on your needs.

When I was searching, user-friendliness was my main goal. I conducted plenty of research, but chose a local company for the following reasons:

  • Local—knowing they were nearby was comforting; I could visit their office if needed.
  • Classes—online or onsite, they were nearby with plenty of opportunity to teach and help me.
  • Help desk—available by phone and email. They were prompt and accessible. Sure, there were plenty of help files online, but I knew it would be much faster to have someone talk me through the steps—and I wouldn’t waste time searching for the correct help file. No phone tree. No tedious files to search.
  • People—I got to know & meet the owners and the employees. I’d see them at networking events, business expos and around town. Plus, I was assigned a personal consultant that was available by email or phone. He even sent text messages to ask how I was progressing on some aspect of their software or my newsletter progress!
  • Patience—a huge asset! They talked me through every tiny detail, even helping me choose a template from the dozens available, to designing that template, inserting content, links, photos, and surveys. All said & done, they stuck with me all the way. PRICELESS! Plus, they’re priced well for business owners.

For a technophobe like me, the above services are worth every penny. However, if you are more computer and help-file savvy, then explore the options and determine whether the services above are necessary for you. The great thing is you will find a service that is just as perfect for you as mine is for me.

 

Elaine’s next big question was about Mailing Frequency. How do you decide how often to create & mail a newsletter without becoming invasive or annoying?

As we’re discovering with all things business, this will vary for each person and industry. Here’s another opportunity to study other newsletters:

  • Are there any that clog your inbox?
  • Which businesses would you like to hear more from? Or less?
  • What are your preferences as a recipient?
  • What are your preferences as a business owner?

At the start, you’ll be struggling to put your newsletter together. So don’t commit yourself to a daily or weekly mailing until you have established a content plan; remember you still have to write it! Commit to a plan—not an asylum!

Slow and steady: every six weeks is a good starting point. When you’re comfy with that, send a new edition out every five weeks. You’ll find once you get into a rhythm, it will be easier to put your newsletter together and hit send.

Let your audience set the pace: It will take some time to get a decent readership with your newsletter. It will also take time for you—and them—to spread the word about your excellent newsletter. Because of this, you’ll have plenty of time to experiment, establish, write and create each edition. The other good thing; your readers will let you know what they think through your statistics feature. (Make sure your email marketing software includes this service!) Review the click rates, open rates, and opt-out rates. You’ll be able to gauge interest through these numbers. Then you’ll identify those times when additional mailings will be required.

Gradual: it won’t happen overnight—for most of us. Though we’d all love that instantaneous success, it also creates instantaneous stress. For now, we’ll focus on steady growth. This is where you can adapt and adjust with your audience, with minimal stress…and this will give me time to answer more of your questions!

 

The winter months offer many industries a moment to settle down and catch-up or prepare for the next year. If you’ve got some spare time on your hands, start your research on email marketing software and thinking up ideas for content. The biggest advice is to give yourself time to learn, adapt, and do. Then time to review, observe and respond. As the title states, timing is everything…but so is your sanity! Make time for yourself, too!

Is there anything I missed? Does this inspire other questions?

Peace and plentiful writing!

Kristen