Day 5-Using Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Finding the Best Photography

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You’ve booked your ceremony and reception venue, purchased your dream dress, ordered your favorite flowers and are en route to completing your custom, creatively unique invites-now what about photography?

Now, when I talk about photography, I’m not just talking about having the elegance, sophistication and the professional edge of hiring a photographer. I’m talking about incorporating the fun crowd-sourcing element of having your guests take photos.

You know your guests are going to have dozens of their own photos of your ceremony and reception that they’ll probably share with you via Facebook or Twitter, so why not incorporate this tendency of your guests into your wedding and give your guests and the bridal party new experiences that they’ve never had at any other wedding?

So what can you do to incorporate your guests’ love of taking photos? Well, I’m glad you asked! Below is a list of the Top 5 apps & websites (in no particular order) that will help you-and your guests-make the most of your wedding photography experience.

1) Lensley Automatic Photo Booth Rentals

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Why It’s Awesome: You can choose between the standard, branded or custom options for a photo booth. Depending on which option you choose, you can receive between 5-8 hours of service, an onsite attendant to help you and your guests with whatever you need, unlimited photo sessions, black and white photos, hosted web gallery and even Facebook and Twitter integration.

2) Sandbox Love

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Why It’s Awesome: Ok, yes, this company is a little different because it focuses on video rather than photography, but I chose it because it goes beyond just videography during the day of the wedding. You have the option of selecting packages that will chronicle your love story through an interview for your guests to view, have the team cover wedding highlights or select a cool package where your guests get to view your reasons for getting married in a unique save-the-date video.

3) Wedit

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Why It’s Awesome: Looking more into this, I love it because it’s more than just an app. When you sign up, you can receive 5 HD cameras that your guests can use to capture all sorts of photos from your ceremony and reception. You send the cameras back and the staff uploads the footage. Video and photo editing can range from $250-$400, depending on your needs. All shipping fees are included in the price for the cameras.

4) Capsule

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Why It’s Awesome: Once you sign up on the website, your capsule becomes your very own mini-website and you have several different options to add photos to it and even order your own prints. You and your guests can use their free Android or IPhone app to take photos and have them automatically uploaded to your Capsule and you can add photos to your Capsules with Instagram! Simply hashtag the Capsule join code to see your best instagram shots post instantly to your Capsule. If you have a wedding website on the Knot, it connects automatically with your Capsule and photos are uploaded as soon as they’re taken. You can share photos from your Capsule on social media, your guests can comment and like the photos you’ve posted in your Capsule and, you can use your own digital cameras to take photos and upload them into your Capsule as well.

5) The Laugh Box

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Why It’s Awesome: It’s a booth-less photobooth! Guest take photos with their phone or IPad, tag them on Instagram or Twitter with a specific hashtag and then the photos are printed at the photo station. That way, your guests can take as many photos as they would like, without having to line up for a turn in a photo booth! You can also create flipbooks by creating a short video clip print, and create a 60-page flipbook in under 90 seconds. Simply amazing! Every rental includes: A custom designed cover, complimentary DVD of videos from your event, set-up and breakdown and 2 full-time attendants and a box of laughs.

What makes these apps and websites the best for adding cool and unique photography options to your wedding? Well, it goes beyond just having an app for your guests to take photos with and it incorporates unique guest interactivity with social media, websites and more-and gives you access to more wedding photos quicker than traditional methods.

With the right tools and websites to help you expand and incorporate fun photography ideas into your wedding, what’s next on the wedding planning agenda? How about finding cool ideas for wedding décor and wedding favors?

Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned for ‘Day 6 of How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-DIY Wedding Décor & Favors.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

Lilian Sue

Day 4-Using Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Getting the Right Flowers

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Now that you’ve booked a venue and you’re making headway with finding your dream dress and creating your uniquely customized wedding invitations; it’s time to turn your attention to your décor and flowers for your bouquet.

Why are flowers great for your décor and your wedding? Well, they provide fresh ambience and color that other decorations can’t, as well as some creative elegance and sophistication. They also show your guests different quirks of your and your significant others’ personalities.

Before you jump the gun and start buying flowers, let me remind you about the questions that I posed previously that you need to ask your florist:

-What kind of flowers will be or are in season around the time of my wedding?

-Will the available flowers fit the color scheme I have for the wedding?

-How many flowers will I need for boutonnieres for guests?

-Is my favorite flower (rose, calla lily etc.) grown naturally in a color that will fit into my color scheme and if does, will it also fit into my budget?

-Is there a difference between fresh and dyed flowers and if the flowers I want aren’t available in my colors, is buying dyed flowers an option?

These top 3 apps & websites (in no particular order) will help you answer these questions and pick the best flowers for your wedding.

1) GrowersBox.com

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Why It’s Awesome: You can order your own DIY wedding flowers, arranged wedding flower packages and even petals of different flowers including roses and peonies. You can also order flower gifts and different types of wholesale flowers that I rarely seen elsewhere, from Asiatic Lilies and mini Gerbera Daisies. You also search for flower by color and purchase dyed flower at your convenience.

2) Wedding Bouquet Ideas

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Why It’s Awesome: This application shows you the galleries of hundreds of beautiful wedding bouquet ideas, designs and decorating. If you have an idea about wedding flower decorations, this application can help you. This app contains the various types and colors of flowers such as : bridal bouquet ideas, bridesmaid bouquets, tulips, roses, gardenia, daisy, hydrangea floral, paper, silk, fabric, jewelry, buttons bouquet, red, orange, blue, cream, pink, white, purple, green, spring, fall, summer, tropical and more.

3) Flowerbud.com

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Why It’s Awesome: You can purchase boxes of different flowers such as irises and lilies in different boxes and colors for your wedding as well as bonsai plants and sunflowers. If you get stuck on creating your own DIY wedding flowers, you can talk to their Wedding Coordinator for advice.

What makes these apps and websites the best for creating and compiling the best wedding flowers? Well, not only can you search for, create and customize all styles and forms of flower arrangements quicker and in the palm of your hand with easy-to-use and fun apps that are affordable, but you can also keep track of your flower orders much easier.

With the right tools and websites to help you find the right flowers that provide your ceremony and reception with some fresh ambience and reflects your personalities, what’s next on the wedding planning agenda? How about finding the best photography for your wedding?

Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned for ‘Day 5 of How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Finding the Best in Photography’.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

 

Lilian Sue

Day 3-How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-DIY Wedding Invitations and Save-the-Date Reminders

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You’ve got a wedding date set and the venue to hold it in, now you have to find somewhat to notify your guests about the wedding.

Are you looking to create your own invitations by hand? Or are you going to a graphic designer or a design and print shop for the professional touch? Or, maybe you’re looking for an integrated approach with some new media, a website and an app or two?

No matter what your preference is for your invites, you can’t get started until you answer some fundamental questions about your wedding and what you’ll be sharing about your relationship and your personalities-beyond the wedding date.

What colors are you using in your wedding theme (ie. for décor, flowers and dresses)?

-Beyond color in your wedding’s theme, do you have fun quirks and interests that reflect you and your significant other (ie. music notes, video game characters, a love of books and certain authors) that you aren’t afraid to share with your guests and make a theme out of?

-Are you open to using different materials and media for your invites (ie. fabric, typesetting, engraving etc.) as an option outside of standard paper or cardstock?

– Are you going to be incorporating cultural and/or religious symbols into your wedding as it reflects your heritage (ie. Chinese double happiness symbol, Ukrainian pysanka etc.)?

-Are you open to using an integrated approach with your invites and save-the-date reminders, incorporating physical invites with an app or website?

I will show you the best apps, websites and platforms that will help answer these questions and make the most out of your wedding invitations and save-the-date reminders that are easy to use, affordable and stress-free!

Here’s the top 4 apps, websites and platforms (in no particular order) that will help you make the most out of creating your wedding invitations and save-the-date reminders.

1) Minted.com

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Why It’s Awesome: This is an great website that not only gives you free invitation samples, the option to create save-the-date cards, postcards or magnet reminders; but also allows you to create thank you and RSVP cards. It’s also one of the few that I’ve seen that gives you the option to create cultural and religious wedding invitations through their website, but also allows you to create minibook wedding invites, wedding announcements and journals.

2) Appy Couple

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Why It’s Awesome: This app is great for connecting with your guests and share details with them that go beyond just notifying them about the wedding. You can create a wedding app and website all in one shot, let your guests know about flight and hotel information and give them a customized wedding code that allows guests to receive information via emails and on social media platforms. With the wedding code, guests can upload photos using the app and share stories automatically.

3) Up Up Creative

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Why It’s Awesome: You browse the website for the design that you like and all invitation, announcement, and photo card designs are available in printed OR printable form. By default, all designs are sold as print-ready files. These files can be printed at home, locally, or online. If you prefer to order printing from them, you can choose to do so separately. Simply click on Add Printing from the menu choices at the top of the site and order from there with 3 options for paper:100lb cover stock in bright white or cream OR upgrade to 100% cotton in white. You can also customize your order. Within 3 business days you’ll receive a digital (PDF) proof of the customized design. NOTE: For an additional fee, you can also choose to customize the fonts used on your invitation or you can choose to use a language other than English.

4) Paperless Post

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Why It’s Awesome: This app is one of the absolute best for event management because you can track cards and invites you’ve sent as well as respond to ones you’ve been sent. You can: receive push notifications for new cards and recipient activity, view RSVPs and replies from your recipients, add additional guests to your recipient list, send emails to groups of recipients by status and exchange private messages with recipients. You can also RSVP to events and comment on cards you’ve received, access event details such as date, time, and location, view guest lists and other guests’ comments and upload photos to event pages from your phone.

What makes these apps and websites the best for creating your customized wedding invites and save-the-date reminders? Well, not only can you search for, create and customize all styles and forms of invites quicker and in the palm of your hand with easy-to-use and fun apps that are affordable, but you can also keep track of your RSVPs much easier

With the right tools and websites to help you create the right wedding invites that reflect your relationship and your personalities, what’s next on the wedding planning agenda? How about finding your favorite flowers to fit in with your wedding theme?

Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned for ‘Day 4 of How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Getting the Right Flowers’.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

 

Lilian Sue

Day 2-Using Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Finding Your Wedding Dress

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So you’ve found a great ceremony site and an awesome reception venue, maybe you’re currently working on getting your really cool and creative ‘save the date’ reminders out to your guests or trying to find a great photographer. But what about one of the most important dresses you’ll ever wear for a monumental occasion?

There are literally thousands of options for a wedding dress. There’s several different silhouettes from A-line to ball gown and even the option to have unique color accents on a white dress. I’ve seen blue, red and black accents on white wedding dresses.

And if you don’t want white for your wedding dress? No problem! You’ve got plenty of choices, cream, ivory, pink, blue, red, nearly any color you could think of. What if you want a dress that reflects your heritage, such as a sari or Chinese cheong sam? Well, there are a wide selection of dresses to fit any cultural tradition too, all you have to do is look.

But, with all the stress that comes with endless searches, dress fittings and even the horror of having your dream dress permanently ruined, how can finding the perfect wedding dress be fun AND stress free?

Let me show you how, using some of the best websites, social media platforms and apps to find your perfect wedding dress.

Top 4 Websites, Social Media Platforms & Apps for Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress

1) Brides Wedding Genius 4.0

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Why It’s Awesome: This great app comes from by Condé Nast Digital (the company responsible for Brides.com). You can browse for wedding dresses by silhouettes, brand and price and when you land on an image of a dress that you like you can tap it to flip through similar galleries or to locate a store in your area. You can also access more expert tips and Brides advice, save your favorites and categorize ideas in custom folders for easy access and/or to share with vendors and create drag and drop inspiration boards on BridesWeddingGenius.com with items you’ve uploaded on the go.

2) Nearly Newlywed

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Why It’s Awesome: This website turns the concept of buying used or pre-owned wedding dresses on its head. How? Well, you search the website for a wedding dress with the ‘Sell It Back’ symbol, purchase said perfect dress, wear it on your big day and then sell it back to the website. If you sell it back within 2 months of your big day, you can get up to 50% of the price you bought it for-back! If you sell it back within 3 months, you get 40% and you’ll receive 30% of the original price back when you sell it within 4 months of the big day.

3) Wedding Dress Look Book by The Knot

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Why It’s Awesome: Think of it as your on-the-go for wedding dress shopping on your iPhone from TheKnot.com — from wedding dress suggestions, customized to your body type and wedding style, to the bridal salons in your area that carry your favorite designs. With this app, you can: get suggested wedding dress search results based on your body type, wedding style, and personality. Search the hottest new wedding dresses — by style, shape, price, and designer — and bookmark your favorites for later as well as find bridal salons in your area that carry your favorite dresses.

4) Bravo Bride

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Why It’s Awesome: You can search for used dresses on this site based on silhouettes and save them as your favorites. You can purchase and sell your used wedding dress on this site as well as search affiliated wedding boutiques and talk with other brides on the forums.

What makes these apps and websites the best for finding your perfect dream wedding dress? Well, not only can you search for all styles of wedding dresses quicker and in the palm of your hand with easy-to-use and fun apps that are affordable, but you can also find where to purchase your dream dress much easier and quicker. You can also create inspiration boards and flipbooks for your favorites as well.

With the right tools and websites to help you find the perfect dream dress, what’s next on the wedding planning agenda? How about coming up with creative and fun invitations that uniquely reflect you and your relationship and spicing things up with cool ‘save-the-date’ reminders?

Keep your eyes peeled and stay tuned for ‘Day 3 of How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-DIY Your Own Invitations & Save the Date Ideas’.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

Lilian Sue

Day 1 of How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Finding Your Ceremony Site

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After some time to come down from the high of getting engaged, you’ve no doubt slowly started looking to doing some wedding planning. Maybe you’ve even started looking into a few wedding venues.

If that’s the case, let me remind you of 5 crucial questions you must answer in order to choose the right wedding venue:

1) What kind of theme and ambience am I going for with the wedding? (ie. Elegant, Traditional, Quirky, Modern-can also impact color scheme)

2) Are there family and/or religious traditions I have to consider?

3) Will the weather or transportation play a huge factor into the venue I choose? (ie. Are you going for indoor or outdoor? Out-of-town venue? Destination wedding?)

4) What’s my budget cap for booking a ceremony venue?

5) How many people am I prepared to have attend the ceremony?

Have you thought about what kind of theme your wedding will have or what your budget will be for finding a ceremony & reception venue? Are you worried about how long and how much energy you’ll have to spend looking for the right venue?

Let me show you the Top 4 websites, apps & social media tricks (in no particular order) to find the best wedding venue for your city

1) Facebook Graph Search

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Why It’s Awesome: Because Graph Search can look up anything from photos to local businesses-INCLUDING wedding venues your friends like, you can search for ‘[insert vendor need here]– that my friends like’ to get a list of options. The search results show which of your friends has liked each vendor, so you can message your friend to ask questions or get a referral.

2) Eventective

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Why It’s Awesome: This website has literally every kind of venue you can ask for a wedding, from reception halls, to restaurants, resorts and hotels. You can search for venues all over the US and Canada and you can even log onto their online forum to get advice on weddings and other events and read how-to articles.

3) WeddingMapper App

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Why It’s Awesome: This awesome app allows you to create lists of your vendors including your ceremony and reception venues, manage their contact information and other notes and schedule payments as well as track payment information all in one place.

4) I Do Venues App

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Why It’s Awesome: Comprehensive venue app for ceremony and reception venues in California. A comprehensive directory along with full galleries and information on each venues’ layout so you can see exactly how each theme, design idea and color palette will look.

Why are these sites, social media platforms and apps so great for finding the perfect ceremony and/or reception venue? Well, they save you time and energy and eliminates guesswork as well as endless searches on Google for your city’s best ceremony and reception venues.

They’ll give you the tools and the ability to see everything from locations and photos to layouts for each venue and you’ll be able to keep track of your favourite venues using these sites and apps, including tracking the payment history for the venue of your choice.

So with the right tools, sites and apps to get your ceremony and reception venues sorted, what’s next on the list for wedding planning? Figuring out how you’re going to find the perfect wedding dress for such a monumental occasion with Day 2: How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning-Finding the Perfect Wedding Dress.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

Lilian Sue

Introducing ‘How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning’

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If you’re newly engaged and find yourself overwhelmed by questions from family and friends and the sheer amount of things that have to be done for a wedding, from getting a reception venue to finding a photographer; this blog series is for you.

With this blog series, I’m going to show you how social media can make finding the perfect wedding dress, the right photographer and the best ceremony and reception venues-easier and quicker. Not only that, social media can add a creative marketing flair to your wedding, including helping you discover how DIY elements can give your wedding a unique individual flair not seen anywhere else.

For example, did you know that by using social media to help plan your wedding you can:

-Ask other engaged couples for help, all over the world-no matter what time it is?

-Have a mobile message board & community to inform & converse with guests always on hand

-Find unique and never before seen items and ideas from individualized rings (complete with fingerprints) to DIY centerpieces

-Find a reliable, affordable, unique and fun solution to an expensive DJ or live band

-Discover fun ideas for your first dance and for your vows.

-Always keep your wedding budget (including graphs of how much you’ve allocated to each element of the wedding) in the palm of your hand.

-Curate any and all information (such as flights, hotels & city attractions) for your out-of-town guests to have while they’re on the go

-Grab the expertise from top wedding blogs and incorporate them into your private, online inspiration board

-Keep all you wedding related tasks organized and synced to all of your social media profiles

-Find the perfect venue for your ceremony and reception, no matter how quirky and how big the guest list

For the next 8 weeks, I’ll be showing you how to use social media to do all of these things for your wedding and more.

First up, Day 1: How to Use Social Media to Leverage Your Wedding Planning: Finding Your Ceremony Venue.

In the meantime, check out this awesome slideshow on a few important questions you should be asking about weddings.

Yours in Wedding Planning,

Lilian Sue

5 Ways to Strengthen Customer Loyalty

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Whether you own a bricks-and-mortar store, online business or a Fortune 500 company, whether you offer products, services or experiences, you know that customers are the ones that determine whether a business thrives or fails.

No matter the target audience, each and every company needs customers to believe in what they do, to support the core of those beliefs by purchasing products, services or experiences. The type of customers matters too. While you can increase foot traffic and ultimately revenue by increasing the number of customers that buy online or walk through your store, it’s infinitely more beneficial to have repeat customers who are loyal to your brand and who believe what you believe in.

So, besides continuing to offer amazing products, services and experiences that fulfill customers’ needs, wants and help make their lives more enjoyable, how do you build and strengthen customer loyalty?

Here are 5 unique ways you can increase customer loyalty to your brand, both online and offline:

1) Develop a Customer Loyalty Program

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Customers deserve to know that you appreciate their business and sometimes that requires more than a ‘Thank You’ card or a once-a-year holiday discount.

Try developing a loyalty program that rewards your customers for what they do online and offline. For example, you own a fashion apparel store and you notice that one loyal customer in particular is posting several different images of them modeling and sharing your clothing lines and accessories over the course of a few months via Instagram. Without any prompting from you, this loyal customer has become a brand ambassador of sorts for your company and is sharing regular user-generated content on your social networks.

This customer deserves to be rewarded for her brand loyalty online, so why not reward her with a gift bag full of your accessories, a $25 gift card or even a free t-shirt for her repeat business? It doesn’t have to be a huge reward in your loyalty program, just something that shows customers that you appreciate and encourage their repeat business and that you pay attention to their online interactions with their brand.

Conversely, if a customer comes into your store and regularly purchases accessories, beauty products or certain services like a hair cut from you, you should reward them with a loyalty card that allows them to earn point on those purchases and then redeem those points for rewards like a special gift, treatment package or gift card with a larger value.

Starbucks’ loyalty program is a great example of this. You can earn Stars that go towards free food/drink rewards, early access to new products and custom offers on products you enjoy when you opt into the MyStarbucks Rewards email newsletter by using your registered Starbucks, Teavana or La Boulange card to purchase Starbucks products on the app, in store or at your grocery store.

You earn two Stars per day and depending on how many you have, you’re registered into different reward levels. The Welcome Level gives you the following perks: Birthday drink or treat on the house, Birthday coupon for 15% off purchases at StarbucksStore.com and custom offers via email.
The Green Level (which you receive after collecting 5 stars in a year) gives you: Birthday drink or treat on the house, Birthday coupon for 15% off purchases at StarbucksStore.com, custom offers via email and free in-store refills of hot or ice brewed coffee or tea. The Gold Level (after you collect 30 stars in a year) gives you all of the above plus a free food/drink item after earning another 12 stars and a personalized Gold Card.

Every step of the way, you must monitor your customers’ purchasing habits as well as their online interactions with your brand and develop a loyalty program that rewards them for those actions in order to continue to build and strengthen customer loyalty.

2) Foster a Sense of Ownership

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If you’re testing out a new product or service, a great way to solicit customer feedback and foster a sense of ownership in the product by making them feel like stakeholders in the company is to ask them to beta test the product.

Not only is it an awesome way to generate customer loyalty and ensure that they feel they’re being listened to, but it gives your company an actual tested product or service before it hits the market for the general public. That way, you can leverage positive customer testimonials and build a reputation for the product/service/experience before it hits the marketplace.

For example, there are several video game developers and studios that often need their games beta-tested before the actual games hit the market to be reviewed by noted video game critics and websites and released to the general public. Nintendo hires several beta-testers through other third-party companies to help them test out their games to iron out any bugs and make changes before they hit the market.

It’s a great way to foster brand loyalty and allowing customers to foster a sense of ownership in the brand and ensure that their feedback is listened to can be its own form of a intangible reward.

3) Offer Premium Services

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For loyal customers who are repeat shoppers at your store or online business, try offering premium services to thank them for their repeat business. Similar to perhaps to the higher reward levels in a loyalty program, premium services don’t need a sign-up function. Instead, using email newsletter and transaction tracking, reward these repeat customers that you find with perks such as free shipping, free wrapping, extended business hours and even free upgrades on services.

How’s this for premium service? Author and business consultant Peter Shankman was getting ready to board a flight that was the last leg of a long day of traveling. He sent out a tweet that read: “Hey, @Mortons – can you meet me at newark airport with a porterhouse when I land in two hours? K, thanks. :)” He got off the plane at Newark to find a tuxedoed gentleman holding a bag that contained a 24 oz. Morton’s porterhouse, shrimp, potatoes, bread, napkins and silverware. That’s premium customer service if I ever heard of any. Someone at Morton’s had to monitor Twitter, notify the chef, have the chef make the food and then have it hand-delivered to the right terminal at the airport at the right time. That’s definitely going the extra mile for your customers.

4) Make customers feel special

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Host exclusive events for your top customers off-site and outside the office or profile them via an email newsletter or social media shout-out. Top customers deserve to have a few exclusive perks to let them know how much you value their business.

Vancouver-based security company Tri-Ed hosted an off-site customer appreciation event with wine and beer tasting, Sushi and Oyster bar and a photo booth at an off-site restaurant. Raffle prizes like mini iPad, a Canon digital camera and 32” LED Samsung TV were given to top customers that attended the event. That’s definitely showing your top customers how much you appreciate and value their business.

5) Reward Referrals

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Reward your top customers who refer their friends, family and colleagues to your business with discounts and other rewards. Customer referrals are a powerful tool in new business development and not only does it help to grow your current customer base, but also lets your current customers know how much you appreciate their recommendations.

Julep, an online beauty and skincare retailer rewards referrals with a $15 credit for every person that clicks on your referral link to join Maven along with Jules rewards points with every monthly box and special occasions like your birthday and Maven anniversary.

Stay tuned for more posts on content marketing, building marketing strategies and learning how to use cool platforms. In the meantime, if you want to learn how to incorporate more customer content into your marketing, check out my post on Turning User Generated Content into Sales for Your Company.

6 Unique Ways Instagram Video Can Improve Your Marketing Strategies

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By now, you or someone you know has probably experimented with Instagram, snapping photos with your mobile device and posting them to your account, tagging different people and maybe even sharing them via Facebook and Twitter.

But have you ever tried Instagram Video? If you haven’t, it’s an awesome way to incorporate video into the marketing you’re already doing. Not only that, Instagram’s video capabilities will let you do more than Twitter’s Vine ever could!

For starters, Instagram Video offers up to 15 seconds of video recording time which beats Vine’s 6 seconds. You can also edit the video on Instagram by deleting a specific segment instead of having to delete the whole video at once.

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Instagram also brings their custom filters to their videos the same way you can use them on your photos and just like your photos, any video you create via Instagram can be seen by over 130 million people as opposed to 13 million users on Vine. Instagram Video is also available directly inside the mobile app so you don’t have to download an outside app and you can even scroll through to pick the best cover image for your video, which will help entice first-time viewers to click through to the video. Instagram videos also play in-line on Facebook for desktop users. Like YouTube and Facebook videos, a Facebook user can click and watch the clip right in their Facebook account after logging in.

Now that you’ve seen what makes Instagram Video stand out, here’s 6 different ways it can help improve your marketing strategies:

1) Shoot a Product Demo & Answer FAQs

Sometimes, rather than spending half an hour to an hour answering customer questions and inquiries via email or Twitter, it can be really beneficial to make a list of the most popular customer inquiries and use short Instagram videos to answer them.

If your customers have a lot of questions on how your product works, show them how through step-by-step instructions with narration so they can receive additional helpful info about your product. It’s a great value-add for your customers with the added bonus of being easy to follow and share, rather than paging through paragraphs of text or long pages of images.

2) Create a Visual Portfolio of Your Work

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A video posted by Verve Coffee Roasters (@vervecoffee) on

Remember the saying ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’? Well a 15 second video has the potential communicate much more than a thousand words. Depending on the nature of your industry (this could work better if you’re in food/beverage, beauty, fashion/style, technology, digital media etc.), try shooting videos of recent work you’ve done for clients as a video look book for potential customers to look through.

Whether you’re a makeup artist wanting to share the latest glamorous looks or a café wanting to showcase a cake decorator’s skill, the possibilities for a video visual portfolio are endless!

3) Highlight Special Offers and Events

15 seconds is quite a long time to promote a special offer or event with video. If you’re holding a contest or if you have a special sale for a certain product/service (ie. massage), be sure to show fans and prospective customers what they can win or what they can purchase for the special sale.

Flipping the camera view mode to record a personal message to help promote the event or special sale helps add a personal touch to your marketing for your customer. Use the description field to emphasize the video message advertising the sale, contest or event and add a hashtag to track conversions and extend your reach. A short video might be just what you need to reach a larger audience.

4) Invite Fans & Followers Submissions Via Hashtags

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Invite your fans to submit an Instagram video with a hashtag of your choosing to enter a contest or help promote your live event. If your audience is on Instagram, this could be a great way to engage them and generate great UGC content and brand loyalty. It’s also a more organic way to get genuine content to promote your live event. Potential fans will be more likely to believe content their friends create and share as being genuine than that from a company.

5) Humanize Your Brand

A glimpse behind the scenes of the #Burberry Prorsum Menswear Spring/Summer 2014 show, #London

A video posted by Burberry (@burberry) on

Social media has blurred the lines of communication between companies and their audiences with brands increasingly turning to real-time, real life social engagement with their customers in order to compete in the marketplace. In turn, this creates a need for companies to be more transparent and open with their audiences.

Instagram videos offers brands an opportunity to do this in bite-sized chunks that showcase their style, their workplace culture and gives customers an inside look on how they do things. It helps a brand stand out from its competitors and connect with customers to show them they don’t have secrets to hide and build trust.

6) Increase Engagement on Facebook

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Videos and photos inspire the most engagement (comments, likes and shares) via Facebook. The fact that you’re allowed to view Instagram videos directly inside the Facebook browser can be a huge help to raising community engagement and allowing fans to leave their questions, comments and shares to the brand directly.

Conclusion

Instagram video gives you the flexibility to engage with potential customers and new fans in a variety of ways that not only increases engagement, but brings more user-friendly features to the table than Twitter’s Vine. Try it out and see how it can increase engagement amongst fans and improve your marketing strategies!

Stay tuned on here for more posts on different strategies for content marketing. But in the meantime, check out how mobile marketing can help you generate leads.

How to Successfully Promote Your Spa Online

Spa Presidential

Whether you have a bricks-and-mortar spa or a mobile one that provides relaxing massages and pampering manicures to your clients wherever they are, it’s crucial that your business has a presence online where your customers are located.

Why is online marketing important? Well, for one thing, in many cases, it can be more affordable than that of traditional marketing methods such as TV, radio, print magazines and billboards AND it’s much easier for you to track your ROI which measures how much value you get for the dollar. In addition, you also have the flexibility to reach customers all over the world through several different platforms.

Potential customers could find your website through Google searches or ads, Facebook ads, your social media profiles or word-of-mouth from other customers, but it’s your job to make sure that they can find you.

In this post, I’m going to go over why online marketing in important for your spa, how to create and optimize awesome landing pages and different ways to help you generate qualified leads that will become loyal customers. Whether you’re promoting amazing body treatments or a new line of luxurious skincare lotions, I can help you navigate the online marketing world to get the best leads possible.

So What’s a Landing Page and Why Is It Important?

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A landing page is exactly what it sounds like-it’s a web page within your website that internet traffic ‘lands’ on when they arrive from any source, like a Google search.

As such, a landing page is the face of your spa business because it’s the first thing potential customers see when they click on a link to your website. You want it to be optimized with the correct information, reflect your brand and entice customers to click on links for more info or email/call you with questions.

If it isn’t optimized, you could stand to scare people off instead of building trust and creating a positive relationship with your customers AND you could stand to lose a lot of money.

How would you lose money? Well, consider this: let’s say your spa site sees 1500 internet visitors/month. You’d be lucky if 10% of these visitors (roughly about 150) book a treatment through your site. If their average purchase is $120, you’d be seeing approximately $18,000/month in revenue from your page.

If you implement one of the optimization strategies I’m going to be talking about, your landing page’s conversion rates will increase roughly by 25%, which is an increase to 12.5%. This means that your monthly revenue from that landing page has the potential to increase to approximately $22,500/month. Over the span of 12 months, that’s an increase of over $200,000 per year. That’s quite the increase in revenue!

There’s 5 crucial things that your landing page definitely needs to have that I’m about to tell you and also show you some examples of spas that are definitely rocking their landing pages and others that really aren’t.

A Unique Selling Proposition (USP) or Value Proposition
As you probably know by now, anyone looking for a spa in their local area spends some time surfing the web, looking for the one thing that sets a spa apart from their competitors.

That’s why your spa’s value proposition is so important-it’s the one aspect that’s unique just to your business and that makes your spa stand out.

So maybe it’s a current hot sale that you’re running, a special treatment that only you have in the city or a new award you’ve won. Check out this promotion/USP from Spa Oasis:

Montreal Spa Oasis Holiday Promotion for Christmas Gift 2014

The details that you need to know stand out prominently and the color scheme used in the promotional USP also indicate exactly what time of year the spa promotion is for.

Your USP as the headline and an attractive eye-catching landing page image should be the first thing that your web traffic sees. Your USP and landing page image should grip your audience and entice them to click through your website, email or call you to see more.

After all, you have a maximum of 5 seconds to convince someone your website is worth looking into. So unless your headline is intriguing, shows value or promotes something they can’t get elsewhere, they’ll be more likely to just move on.

Headline Ideas

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The following is a short headline swipe file that you can use to help generate enticing USP headline ideas for your spa:

• Get 20% off on All Body Treatments If You Book Between March 1st and April 30th
• Pedicures are 50% off when you book any bachelorette party of 6 or more
• We’ve Been Voted the city’s Top Mobile Spa for the 4th Year in a Row!
• The city’s first certified vinotherapy regime!
• Book your holiday party to receive 20% off on all skincare products from now until Dec. 24th!

Image Ideas

Spa-packages

Any visuals you use for your spa landing page are also very important. The image needs to convey how you want your customers to feel: relaxed, comfortable and maybe even a certain amount of envy for that luxurious experience. In order to invoke these emotions, you need to spend some time and energy researching the right image because the old adage of “a picture is worth a thousand words” is true. The right image can say more than any words or even a price point can.

Do consider the colors in your image as well. Warm colors like red, orange, pink and yellow invoke comfort while cooler colors like blue, white and purple promote relaxation.

By featuring people in your image, it helps to make your spa more likeable and relatable and it also goes a long way to helping to cultivate that envious feeling you’re going for. Your image also needs to focus on your USP. If you’re a standalone treatment spa, incorporating images of your treatments will make the USP more relatable and enticing. If you’re a hotel spa, focusing on images of your treatment rooms gives the impression of luxury that you want to invoke in customers.

By incorporating more than 1 image, you can feature different parts of your spa and show more of what you have to offer.

You should definitely focus your landing page on one single call-to-action, but just having a USP headline with an image isn’t going to be the deciding factor in whether they move through your website for more info. You need to give them a few links with more info to give them access to what they really want from your landing page.

Try including a few more USPs in bullet point form with links that will allow visitors to access other pages. It will catch a visitor’s eye and encourage them to read further. Examples of other USPs include:

• Relax with personalized treatments just for you!
• Book a couples’ treatment to celebrate your engagement or anniversary AND get a free pass to our Hot Springs Pool!
• We’re honored to have been award a Platinum Star for Best Spa in the City by Seattle Times!

Customer Testimonials, Awards & Trusted Symbols

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Let’s be fair, you’re not the most trustworthy source when it comes to how awesome your spa is. After all, you have a vested interest in seeing your website do well and visitors to your website are probably naturally skeptical of the things you say, even if they’re not consciously aware of that skepticism.

So the stamp of approval from an outside source, whether it’s a good review, rating or award nomination is vital to generating trust with your audience. So how do you get that stamp of approval from an outside source? Examples include:

• Incentivize your review system by giving customers that leave online reviews and a photo 10% off their next treatment
• Attaching a customer’s photo to their testimonial goes a long way to influencing how believable the testimonial is
• Put any awards you’ve won on the rotating USP banner and put certifications such as Shiatsu massage on the landing page, complete with therapist’s photo

Creating an Effective Call-To-Action (CTA)

call-to-action

Going back to my previous post on Top 101 CTAs, not only should you focus on one CTA on a landing page, but you need to make it stand out. Re-work the CTA into an appealing button and contrast the color with the other colors you’re using on the landing page. If the USP and associated image are in red, use bright blue for a CTA as an example and place it on a clear spot on the landing page away from any other clutter. Use simple, persuasive language that focuses on the lead such as “Get 25% off” rather than “Sign up for 25% off”

Here’s an example of a great spa landing page:

Lotus-Spa-Wellness-Page-Template-

As you can see here, the value of engagement is clear with a large USP, there’s also a CTA that’s bold, stands out and makes engagement easy. There’s even further info available if a visitor is looking for a bit more regarding what to expect from a consultation at the spa.
A great subscription page is all about communicating value. Committing to monthly or weekly communication in the form of an e-newsletter is more of an ask from visitors rather than a coupon. So it’s beneficial to show them what they’ll be receiving.

This example of a subscription page is a great look at how their ‘ask’ is bookended by more info on the benefits they can expect from signing up for a newsletter. Communicating with a customer over and over increases the chances that a lead will buy and the process to convert a repeat customer to a purchase is 600% cheaper than converting a first-timer.

Here’s an example of an awesome subscription landing page:

Spa_Subscription_Landing_Page

Attracting Leads With Online Advertising

Online advertising is one of the most targeted and trackable ways to reach your audience. You can analyze who sees your ads, who’s clicking through them and in turn, how much a PPC (pay-per-click) campaign is costing you, which is your ROI.

I’ll be showing you how to attract customers to your business and driving them to your landing page through Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

Google Adwords (Paid Search Ads)

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Google isn’t just the world’s largest search engine, it’s also the largest advertising audience. Google is where customers go to research a news restaurant, travel itineraries, a great hairdresser and much more.

Being seen by your customers at the same time that they’re looking is called intent marketing-and it gets sales. Google Adwords can help give your spa the competitive advantage.

What Makes an Awesome Google Ad

1) Keywords

Make your keywords relevant by linking the keywords to those you’re already using on your landing page. If you’re promoting a specific offer, make sure you use the words ‘discount’, _% off and type of spa treatment in your ad.

The more specific you make your keywords, the more likely you’ll match exactly what your customer is looking for. For example, instead of just using massage, try using deep tissue massage or shiatsu massage.

When you’re running your Adwords campaign, try thinking about the phrases and keywords that your customers may be using to search for your services. Try creating campaigns with phrases like “how to manage stress” or “spa treatments as gifts”.

Adwords also gives you the awesome flexibility to use up to 20 different search terms for each Ad Group and you can create as many Ad Groups and campaigns as you want.

2) Ad Copy

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Besides keywords, ad copy is what’s going to drive people to click on your landing page. Adwords allows you to have a headlines and up to 70 characters to entice someone to click on the link.

Your Ad Copy is made out of 3 elements:

Headline-It’s what shows at the top of your ad and you have approx. 25 characters (including spaces) to write an eye-catching first impression
Display URL-The display URL is what people will see as the page you’re enticing them to click on. It doesn’t have to be the exact landing page URL but it should be relevant
Description Lines 1 &2-You have 35 characters per line of copy to include your USP and CTA

5 Characteristics of High Converting Ad Copy

• Use your top keywords: Include at least one or two of your keywords to make your ad relevant. It makes it easier for customers to find and it shows that you meet their needs.
• Use a relevant Display URL: The display URL doesn’t have to be your landing page’s URL, but make sure you make it short and self-explanatory
• Make your CTAs short and actionable: Keep Calls-to-Action short and that instill the urge for clicks. If it’s time oriented, let people know
• Use Ad Extensions: These are the links you see in blue. Use them to add more contact info, local addresses and more landing pages info
• Promote a benefit, not a product: Focus on emotionally connecting with your audience by promoting how your services can help them

3) Location Targeting

Select your location and narrow it down further through radius targeting so that you’re only paying for customers in your area that click on your ad, rather than someone halfway around the world.

4) Ad Budget

The ROI on Adwords can actually produce $2 for every $1 spent if you do it right. Inside Adwords, all you do is type in the amount you want to spend on a daily basis and you won’t overspend because you’ve put a cap on your daily budget.

PPC or pay-per-click is the most common option chosen by small business marketers because your cost is measured by the number of clicks on your ad. You can choose manual or automatic bidding and it’s the default cost option when you create your ad.

Facebook Ads

facebook advertising

How do you reach the target audience that isn’t searching on Google? By using Facebook advertising of course and there’s 3 types of ads to choose from: side bar, mobile newsfeed and newsfeed. Side bar ads are the most affordable but have the lowest clickthrough rates, while newsfeeds are the most expensive but have the highest clickthrough rates.

You can use one of two pricing structures for Facebook ads: you can choose between PPC (pay-per-click) or PPI (pay-per-impression) which is 1,000 views of your ad. Once you create the ad, it goes into the Facebook Ad Auction.

The Facebook Ad Auction works like this: After you set your maximum bid, your ad competes in the auction against other ads for the same target audience. How many people in that target audience view your ad is dependent on your ad budget. If your target audience isn’t in a competitive market, the amount you need to bid to reach them will be lower, but no matter what your bid is, your ad WILL get shown to a portion of the audience.

There’s 8 primary objectives to choose from for Facebook Ads: Page Post Engagement, Page Likes, Clicks to Website, Website Conversions, App Installs, App Engagement, Event Responses and Offer Claims. Depending on the goals you have for your spa, you’ll be most interested in Page Likes, Clicks to Website, Website Conversions and Offer Claims.

You need to make your Facebook Ads stand out from the crowd on a newsfeed and there’s 3 concrete ways to do this:

• Use eye catching colors like red or orange
• Use a different, enticing image (like a smiling woman enjoying a relaxing bath or soothing treatment)
• And use a headline that encourages people to read it (using words like “Free”, dollar values or percentage signs, try testing your brand name if you’re targeting Facebook users familiar with it)

Things to Avoid for Your Facebook Ad

• Avoid colors that blend into the Facebook background (white and blue)
• Don’t go overboard with yellow or use colors that clash because it will affect the clickthrough rates

Examples of Great Headlines

• 50% Body Scrubs W/ Parties of 8 or More
• Get FREE Manicure w/ Deep Tissue Massage
• Voted Top Hydrotherapy Spa in 2013!

Examples of Awesome CTAs
• Click here to check out this offer!
• Treat yourself here!
• Learn more on our website

Targeting Strategies

You can target your Facebook Ads in such a way that makes it easier to receive a return-on-investment. Demographic targeting ensures that only potential customers in your geographic area see your ad, which saves you from wasting money. You even expand the demographic to include people who work in a certain industry or make a certain amount of money.

You can also use precise and broad interest targeting. Precise interest targeting allows people who actually looking for spas to find your ad. Facebook has both broad and precise category interests based on the things people have Liked, changed or put in their profiles. All of this is public info you can use to target your audience more specifically.

Precise interest allows you to target people specifically looking for hot stone massages, hydrotherapy or mineral spas while broad category targeting is based on info taken from a person’s About section or on their Timeline. You could target people who enjoy outdoor activities like golf or who have pets.

You can also have custom audience targeting which gives you an opportunity to re-capture lapsed customers and/or encourage current clients to continue coming to the spa.

You can import existing customer emails, phone numbers/contact database into the Facebook Ad tool. Facebook actually find the profile associated with the email or phone number itself and allows you to target a specific Facebook Ad to a custom audience.

There’s even something known as lookalike audiences that you can target. It’s similar to your custom audience and Facebook takes your custom audience list, analyzes their profiles. Facebook then looks for users that have the same demographics, location as well as precise and broad category interests.

Here’s a few examples of successful Facebook Ads for spas:

Nurture Leads With Email Marketing Automation

email campaign

So you’re getting leads from your landing pages, now what? Depending on the type of landing page you have, your leads might become customers immediately or they might need a little nurturing. Whatever your campaign objective, you need to build a positive relationship with your customers. The best-and most cost-effective-way to keep your prospects connected with you is with email automation campaigns.

Email automation campaigns can be personalized if done correctly and essentially email automation is a series of timed emails that are sent to people after they perform a specific action. In this case, the specific action is giving you their email address through your landing page.

How Do You Use Them As Part of Online Marketing?

Once a potential customer signs up through your landing page, send out a series of 4-6 emails. Set up your email automation campaign to send the email immediately after they sign up. Then schedule the next few emails to send to your leads over the next few days.

Segment your email marketing automation campaigns to send out targeted emails such as different email automations for each landing page that email was triggered from.

How to Set Up an Email Automation Campaign

email automation

No matter which email automation platform you’re using, there’s a few key things that you need to remember. Any activity based email automation campaign is only triggered by a visitor’s actions, so if a potential visitor doesn’t enter in their email address or click a certain link to trigger the first email, they won’t receive any of the other emails in the series, either.

Also, once you pull the trigger on launching an email automation series, you can’t make changes to the workflow by changing the order of the emails or your subscriber list because doing so would directly affect the subscribers already receiving the emails. You can however, add new emails to the end of each workflow without changing the order.

The step-by-step instructions I’m going to give you to set up an email automation campaign will be using MailChimp, but keep in mind that any program you use will be as straightforward.

First you navigate to the Automation Workflow page and click on the create Automation Workflow button to get started. Click on the ‘which list do you want to use?’ drop-down menu to choose which mailing list you want to get this series of emails. You can choose any mailing list you think fits for the series of emails.

automation_list_chooselistdropdown

Next, you have to choose the workflow type. You’ll want to select the subscriber events workflow. Subscriber event workflows are based on subscribers signing up or being added to a list and can be sent immediately after the trigger event happens. Minimum send time between emails in a series is one hour, but you can spread them apart by a few days if you so choose.

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Then a Welcome Message can be sent to those on your mailing list that have signed up or clicked on a link. Once you select the subscriber events workflow, you’ll be sent to the Setup menu where you can fill out the Workflow configuration menu, where each workflow has a name so you can organize them internally and you input the sender’s name and email (so people recognize your company). Make sure you also click the send activity digest email check box to receive a daily email with reporting data for your workflow.

automation_ab_setup

On the Trigger step, you can segment your list and make other choices about the workflow queue. Under the Build workflow heading, click the Add segmentation Conditions option to set segmenting options. Select any or all from the Subscribers match any/all of the following drop-down menu. The Any option will add subscribers to the segment who match at least one of your segmenting conditions. The All option will add subscribers to the segment who match all of your segmenting conditions. For workflows with signup-based triggers, check Trigger workflow to include subscribers in the queue who you imported via a list import. This includes importing from a CSV file or from Excel.

On the Emails step, add and design emails, organize them in your workflow, and tell MailChimp when each email should send. On the Confirm step, look over the Pre-delivery Checklist and test your emails if you haven’t already. When you’re finished reviewing, click Start Workflow.

automation_wb_eb_setup

Next it’s time for you to create your emails. When you click Add Email, it will take you to the Email Designer where you input that name of your email series, the email address as well as the name you’re sending the series from. You can use Automation merge tags in your subject line to automatically display what number each email is the automation order. If you reorder your emails, the merge tag will update with the new position. On the Template step, choose your layout from Basic templates, Themes, Saved Templates, or Code Your Own. Click Select next to the template you want to use. Click Next to design your campaign in the Email Designer. Click Finish to return to your workflow timeline.

Set Workflow Timeline

automation_emails_changedelayoptions

The first email in your workflow will send when a subscriber meets the trigger criteria. Generally, delay times for subsequent emails are based on what time the previous email starts. To set the workflow timeline, you’ll have to navigate to the Emails step and click the change delay button. Then you choose when you want the email to go out by choosing a day, month and time or start immediately. If you want to apply the same delay to all the emails in your workflow, check the box next to Apply to all. You can send a Test Email at any time just to make sure it’s working.

And that’s how you set up an email automation campaign. But what makes a high-converting, successful email automation campaign?

How to Create a High-Converting Email Campaign

EmailMarketingSuccessFactors

Your subject line and the body copy of your email are going to be the keys to getting people to open your emails, read them through and click through your links.

Your subject line is going to be the first thing that catches someone’s eye and compels them to open it. If it doesn’t-your email will end up in the junk mailbox.

Try your best to make the email personal. Use “You” in the email subject line and use meta-tags to insert the customer’s name in the email body (ie. Diana, your perfect day of relaxation awaits.)

Be specific and on point-Keep your subject lines to the point and be clear about who you are and what you’re offering (ie. Get 25% off Body Treatments When You Book Before January 4th!).

Show Your Benefits-Make sure you express your benefits to the customer. If you’re giving them a discount, make sure you indicate that in the subject line so people know right away. If you’re marketing a new line of products that includes shower gel, body lotion and shampoo, tell them the benefits quick before they delete the email! Example: Rejuvenate Your Skin!

Solve a Problem-Show how you’re solving customer problems in your subject line. The more you can satisfy the needs and desires of your customers, the more likely they’ll be willing to read further. Example-Give the gift of relaxation this Christmas with a gift card from SpaABC.

Ask a Question-Your email will be opened if you ask leads personalized questions and then link to the landing page in question. It will pique customers’ interest and get your email opened. Example: Feeling Stressed? Come in for a quick massage during your lunch break!

Email Body Copy-Here’s a few tips to write email copy that converts:

Stay on Topic-Write copy that’s related to your landing page campaigns. This means creating different email automation campaigns for each of the marketing landing pages.

Be Personal & Personalized-Use your future customer’s name in the email body. Include additional personal information you know about them such as when they last visited etc. If you gave them a coupon, mention the coupon and how they can use it with you.

Make clear Call-to-Actions (CTAs)-Your CTA needs to stand out in your email campaigns. Use contrasting colors, short action-oriented words that creates a sense of urgency.

Don’t be salesy, but ultimately get the sale-The way to gain sales is by developing relationships. You can certainly upsell and email about your other services and product offerings but always think of email marketing as deepening your customer relationships. Be real, friendly and useful in solving customer needs. Bonus Tip: Personalize the “from” line. Use your own name and email address rather than a generic one. It helps customers feel as though they’re connecting with a real person, not a computer.

Want more tips on how to successfully market your business? Stay tuned for more posts on content marketing AND in the meantime, check out my post on How to Be Your Own Storyteller & Succeed in Inbound PR!

How to Create Awesome Infographics Without Being a Designer

digitalchalk-5-tips-for-creating-infographics

If you’re anything like me, you learned how to use programs like Photoshop and Gimp out of necessity to do minor changes to photos. You might have even dabbled in some easier graphic design projects for your own website, but it takes you hours to get the image or the design looking just right and you’re left exhausted. You might even spend time looking up tutorials on how to achieve a certain effect and still have trouble re-creating it.

In short, while you do know your way around the programs like Photoshop to a certain extent, it takes you forever and there’s absolutely no way you’d call yourself a graphic designer. But then, you’re surfing around the web and you noticed some really cool infographics on things like fashion, music and food and you can’t help but wish that you could create something like that; even if it’d take you a week.

Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s definitely possible to create some awesome infographics in any category that you choose, EVEN if you’re not a designer. In this blog post, I’m going to introduce you to three awesome tools to create the best infographics, tell you how to use them AND how you can share your infographics in different channels all over the web. So, let’s get started!

Introducing Easel.ly

Easel.ly

First of all, I love the name of this tool, it’s a great play on words using easel (as in drawing pad) to play on easily’.

Launched two years ago in 2012, Easel.ly has hundreds of awesome infographic templates and design objects that even the most design novice can customize and share online. You can drag and drop design elements however you see fit or even upload your own background image from scratch as a template. The best part? Easel.ly is free!

Easel.ly is super popular with students, teachers and business owners who need to put together lesson plans or concepts in easy-to-follow visual forms. In fact, Easel.ly received the 2013 Best Websites for Teaching and Learning Award from the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).

So how does it work? Simply go to Easel.ly and click on ‘Create an Infographic’. Once you land on the page, you can pick a blank template or one of the other several hundred and get started!

Choose a category to find the best template that you want and then work your magic, dragging and dropping different backgrounds, themes, shapes, objects and putting in text. Then you can save it and share it through a browser link, a web link you can embed into your blog and share it via Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

In terms of going the extra mile in sharing your awesome infographic via social, you could even try attracting new audiences on LinkedIn, Google+ and Instagram and even using new tools like Glossi to create a new platform like an online magazine featuring cool infographics before sharing them. Creativity and a little out-of-the-box thinking can go a long way.

How to Describe Piktochart

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Piktochart is another awesome online tool for creating cool infographics. It’s little more in-depth then Easel.ly in that it’s a software platform that allows you to embed videos, change the fonts, colours, add different line elements and even charts.

You can even import Google or Excel spreadsheets to create your own charts and customize the infographic by uploading your own images or using the more than 2000 high-res, print-ready graphics in the Piktochart library. Note: While you can change the colors of the icons and graphics from the Piktochart library, you can’t use the program to change the colors on your own images. You’d have to make the changes on an external program first

When it comes to sharing your Piktochart infographic, you can choose the size and the orientation, down to the paper size that you want to print it on. You can embed it in an email campaign and send it through your email campaign client such as MailChimp, MyEmma or Constant Contact and share it via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ just by uploading it to your status update.

You can even include it in online Flickr galleries and share it in your Google+ communities, LinkedIn groups and Google Hangouts to help make online collaborations a little more creative and visually informative.

How ReciteThis is Different

ReciteThis_Front_Page

OK, so up until this point, I’ve been sharing a couple of really cool infographic tools with you that help you make IMAGE-based infographics. So they’re all a little more visual. But, what if you want to create a cool infographic using quotes or proverbs?

That’s where ReciteThis comes in. You can turn a quote into a masterpiece simply by typing whatever quote or proverb into the text box, or choosing a quote from the ReciteThis database. Then you select a background from a slideshow at the bottom of the page and press ‘Create’.

ReciteThis

Afterwards, you have the option of posting it to Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or StumbleUpon to share with friends, downloading it for printing purposes or to share with other platforms like LinkedIn or e-mailing it to anyone you want.

So now you know how to create some amazingly fun, creative and detailed infographics-even if you’re NOT a graphic designer! Keep it locked here for more great tips on content marketing, new social marketing and online tools AND tricks on how to better reach your audiences.

Still looking for more design tools? Check out my post on 34 Content Hacks Part 1 to get cool planning, writing & design tricks!