Online Business Listings You Should Consider

Posted on Aug 19, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, SEO/SEM, Social Media

In order to give your small business the best chance of success, it is necessary to get listed in online directories. Not only will you make it easier for people to find you, it also improves the domain authority of your website since it increases the number of backlinks to your site. It is a practice that doesn’t even take much time and the result can be significant growth. This time should only be spent on relevant and high quality directories that will improve your company’s online visibility.

Best Online Directories

Whenever you come across a good directory, make a note of it in a spreadsheet or bookmark them to keep track. Once you come across 50-100 directories you can begin to determine which ones are the best for your business.

  • Industry Specific: Look for the top-rated directories in your industry; if you sell paint for example, a quick Google search will reveal the top directories in that niche. These directories will receive a lot of traffic so you need to add your business to them.
  • Local Directories: Small businesses need more local business than giant companies so check out well-known directories such as Yelp, Yahoo Local, SuperPages, Merchant Circle, Manta and others. It is also worth going to Get Listed in order to find more local directories by industry. A fast Google search by location should also reveal lots of relevant local directories.
  • What Your Competitors Use: Analyzing the backlink profile of your rivals should help you determine the directories they are listed in. There are some great tools such as CognitiveSEO which help you to find the backlinks of rivals and filter out these backlinks from directories. The aforementioned tool can also sort out the backlinks of your rivals by authority which helps you see the top rated directories first.
  • General Directories: Once you have exhausted all of the above options, general directories can come next. These ones allow businesses to list themselves in general categories. Type inurl:category directory (type in the name of your industry instead of ‘category’) to find general directories that have a category for your business. The best general directories include DMOZ, Best of the Web and Yahoo.

If you follow all of the above directories you should have hundreds of choices. The next step is of course to get your business listed on as many of them as you think is necessary. Once you have completed this task, you business will have a far greater level of visibility than ever before.

6 Of The Best Email Marketing Sending Practices

Posted on Jul 30, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

There are an estimated 122 billion emails sent every single hour; you can only imagine how many of these are marketing emails! Therefore, it is essential for you to follow the best email sending practices as a marketer if you want to see great results in your campaign and we outline 6 of the best below.

1 – What About Timing?

There are a variety of confusing studies which all have a different opinion on when to send emails. One study says between 12am and 3am (which makes no sense) while another suggests it is between 8am and 10am (more reasonable). The truth is you need to know your target audience and be aware of when they are most likely to be receptive. Testing is the obvious solution but common sense helps too; for example, if you are selling an energy drink, 8am is a pretty good time since most people are still half asleep!

2 – The Importance Of Personalization

Did you know that recipients are 22% more likely to open an email when it is specifically addressed to them? Personalization may seem like ‘old hat’ but it still works!

3 – Capitalize!

This refers to your subject line; studies show that having every word of your subject line in caps increases user engagement; 7 Reasons Why You’re Still Fat for example. It appears to give the email a greater level of importance; it’s almost as if the email is commanding the recipient to open it.

4 – More Is Not Always Better

Many email marketers believe that sending lots of emails is a guarantee of success. This is a ‘throw enough dirt to the wall and hope it sticks’ strategy which won’t be successful. According to Mail Chimp studies, recipients engage less often when the frequency of emails increases. Basically, people just get sick of receiving emails from you!

5 – Don’t Use Salesy Wording

Your subject line should consist of a benefit; giving the appearance that you want to sell them something right off the bat will see your email binned. The subject line should explain what is inside and the content should fulfill that promise.

6 – Make The User Experience Simple

Customers purchase on emotion and justify with logic so don’t force them to think! Review the emails you send on a consistent basis (such as email newsletters) and make sure your calls to action are simple, direct and to the point.

Why LinkedIn Is a Great Advertising Platform

Posted on Jul 22, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Marketing, Social Media


In the era of social media, many businesses make the mistake of completely overlooking LinkedIn as a method of advertising. As good as Twitter and Facebook are, ignoring LinkedIn is a colossal mistake. There are an estimated 300 million users of this platform, two-thirds of who are outside the United States. Below, we look at the reasons why it is a fantastic advertising opportunity that you simply can’t miss out on.

Type of User

Make no mistake; LinkedIn is the social network of choice for the affluent professional. If you want to get in touch with senior executives and other figures of power, LinkedIn is the place to be. It’s estimated that the average LinkedIn member has a household income of around $110,000 while almost half of the site’s audience has some form of decision making power in his/her company.


As I mentioned above, LinkedIn has a huge global presence and this is only set to increase as the platform is seeking to branch out into China. There are an estimated 140 million professionals in China and Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are blocked by authorities so LinkedIn could have a free run at the Chinese market.

LinkedIn has focused on international growth for quite some time now with a greater emphasis on mobile users. In fact, over 40% of the site’s visitors use their mobile devices, a figure which increases to over 50% in nations such as Singapore, Costa Rica and Malaysia. Therefore, if you are joining the mobile revolution, you have a platform ready and waiting for you.


There are a host of awesome tools to help you connect with your audience. For example, there are new targeting filters for advertisers which allow you to surface ads based on the preferred language of the user. You can also specify the audience for every single post in your feed so you can actually identify the people who see the specific ads or updates. As a result, you can send out different feeds for American and Malaysian users at the same time.

Whether you want to use a passive advertising approach or else you would rather be more aggressive, LinkedIn has the tools to complement what you’re trying to achieve. There is arguably no better way to receive online introductions to important people in your industry than the LinkedIn platform. Finally, it encourages active group participation so you have the opportunity to mark yourself out as an expert in your field.

3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Purchase Email Lists

Posted on Jul 15, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

You should be aware that purchasing email lists is never a good idea no matter what anyone tells you. It involves working with a list provider to find and buy a list of names and email addresses that are based on demographic information. On the surface, it seems like a great idea because for a relatively low price, you receive up to 5,000 email addresses. However, you’ll soon pay the penalty for this purchase and we outline why this is the case below.

Reputable Vendors Don’t Use Purchased Lists
Before you waste your hard-earned cash on a purchased email list, let me tell you that reputable vendors will insist upon the use of opt-in lists. If you think the way around this is to use a less than reputable vendor, think again. If you elect to use an email service provider that doesn’t ask customers for opt-in email lists, you’ll find that it suffers from a low level of deliverability if a shared IP address is being used.
Basically, sharing an email service provider with companies that use purchased lists will damage your deliverability. What is the point of having 5,000 email addresses if your emails never make it as far as a person’s inbox?

Questionable Quality
Unless you’re about to acquire a new organization, you will not find an email list of premium quality. The fact that such a list is even available for sale means that the addresses on it have already been use by a host of different companies. In other words, you will be emailing people that have already received dozens of marketing emails and are fed up! Don’t expect much of a click-through rate!

Damaged Reputation
Hopefully, you are aware of the fact that there are organizations dedicated to fighting back against email spam. Have you ever heard of a ‘honey pot’? Anti-spam campaigners have a tendency to plant a few fake email addresses and when these are harvested and emailed, the sender is marked down as a spammer. This will in turn ruin future email marketing campaigns and once you have been given a negative label, it is tough to shake off.
The bottom line with purchased lists is that you have no way of finding out how often those email addresses have already been used. Additionally, your email deliverability could suffer if you choose a shady email service provider and finally, you could be stained with the reputation of a spammer. Quite frankly, purchasing email lists simply isn’t worth the possible consequences.

5 Ways to Optimize Your Landing Pages for Search Engines

Posted on Jul 8, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

Despite being around since the beginning of Internet marketing, cracking the SEO code seems as hard as completing a Rubik’s Cube blindfolded. This feeling is not helped by the constantly changing search engine algorithms which dictate where your landing page ranks. Yet increasing your level of organic traffic doesn’t need to be so difficult; read on for some handy tips on optimizing your landing pages for Google and the other major search engines.

Title Tag

We’ll assume you already know the importance of using keywords relevant to your industry so we’ll move on to title tags. Search engine spiders only crawl the first 65 characters so anything you include above that is virtually ignored. Therefore, you need to get your message across quickly and this means including keyword(s) in the title tag.

Pay Attention to META Description

This is a quick and basic description of your landing page content and should not exceed 160 characters. Again, you need to include your keyword along with a cleverly crafted call to action. Your META description should be designed for the reader instead of the search engine bot.

Don’t Forget Your URL

A landing page URL containing relevant keywords always looks more attractive to search engines. However, don’t force the keyword into the URL if it doesn’t look right or if it is too long as this is bad for user experience and looks spammy.

Attract Attention with the Headline

It is always a good idea to look at some newspaper headlines to find out how media experts do it. Your headline should immediately compel visitors to read on while still being honest. There is nothing worse than reading a misleading headline and discovering the copy bears no resemblance to what you read in the headline. Again, place a keyword in the headline as this is a signal to the bot that the landing page is relevant to this keyword.

Be Careful With Images

While images are great for improving user experience and breaking up bland paragraphs of text, you should not saturate your landing page with them. Search engines are still not great at picking up images. There are a few tricks experienced web designers use to get around this problem but the fact remains, only include images that add to your landing page.

Suddenly, getting your landing page ranked on search engines doesn’t seem so daunting does it? None of the above tips are particularly hard to implement and while it takes time, you should see some results in the medium to long-term.

How to Reactivate an Old Email List

Posted on Jul 1, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

If you have been involved in email marketing for a considerable period of time, you’ll probably come up against a common problem: you may have 10,000 email addresses but discover few of the names on the list engage with your company. One of your first instincts will be to email the list all over again with a new offer but this is a really bad idea. No one wants the first contact with a company in months to consist of a sales pitch. It is likely recipients of such an email will unsubscribe with spectacular speed.

The Goal of Re-Engagement
Obviously, you want to see the percentage of your list that is still good but your real goal is to ensure subscribers are happy to see you again. You need to convince subscribers that it is worth spending time on your company because you can provide them with real value and genuine benefits. Therefore, you need to set aside thoughts of making a sale initially and focus on ensuring you have the attention of your readers.

Making It worth Their While
One of the best ways to get subscribers active again is to send them an email series consisting of content related to your core offering. For example, if you are involved in content marketing you could create a series dedicated to providing tips on how to use psychology to win over prospects. Every email in the series should provide something useful as a means of improving the lives of your subscribers. Assuming you know your product/market inside out, it should be possible to use the email series as a means of showing you as an authority in the niche.

Value Proposition
You need to capture the reader’s attention so begin by apologizing for being away and mentioning that you were working on innovative new ways to make content marketing (or whatever your niche is) more effective. Then you offer them the choice to accept your email series on psychology in content marketing (for example). It is best to ensure the content is in the top half of the email while the offer is on the bottom half.

Product Pitch
This is what you’ve been waiting for! You wait until the email series is over then you ask the subscriber if he felt the information was useful and valuable. Now is the time to issue the call to action where you promise to provide even more useful information on the topic at hand. Subscribers who have read the entire email series are clearly interested in what you have to say and find what you offer to be useful. This makes them more likely to become a loyal customer.

Reviving your email list can be a great way to increase your business but you need to be patient and avoid going for the sale straight away. Instead, you need to slowly become reacquainted with your subscribers and prove you are worth keeping around. Eventually, you will regain their trust and perhaps even their custom.

5 Rules When Dealing With Negative Comments About Your Email Campaigns

Posted on Jun 20, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing, Social Media

One thing about email marketing is that if the recipients of your emails aren’t happy, they can mark you as a ‘spam’ sender and get your business into a lot of trouble. The CAN-SPAM Act heavily penalizes spammers and if your company is deemed to fall into this category, it could be fined to the point where it becomes bankrupt. But how do you respond to negative comments about your email campaigns? Read on to find out.

1. Don’t Delete & Ignore
While you have the right to delete hateful, racist, spam comments, you can’t click ‘delete’ every time someone says something you don’t like. Set out a list of rules regarding comments and if anyone breaches them, you can delete the comment without looking like a crybaby.

2. Respond Fast
The longer you take to respond, the more your reputation suffers. Savvy companies have a stock ‘we’ll respond as soon as possible’ message for social media accounts and this is not a bad idea to use. The last thing you want is a customer believing you don’t care what they have to say.

3. Discuss in Private
If someone has an axe to grind with your email marketing campaign, offer to resolve the issue privately. An email to the person in question is a good place to start because the last thing you need is an irate individual with time on his handing taking to social media to outline his disgust with your organization.

4. Stay Calm
If someone leaves you a particularly nasty comment, it is all too easy to snap and respond in kind. This is a bad idea since company meltdowns have a nasty habit of appearing in the public sphere. Give yourself some time to cool down before responding to ultra negative and offensive comments so you can approach it rationally instead of acting on emotion.

5. Be Prepared
While it is great to follow the tips above, this final point is the most important of all. If you are already prepared for negative comments you can greatly reduce the level of stress you suffer. Consider potential scenarios and possible answers to common comments. It is also important to have your staff well-drilled and ready for action if the worst happens.

Getting ready for negative comments about your email marketing campaign is a form of reputation management. Once you develop a thick skin and understand it is part and parcel of business, you should be able to handle whatever is thrown at you.

A Magnificent Seven Email Marketing Content Tips

Posted on Jun 20, 2014 by Response Wise | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

Although we espouse becoming proficient in all the different facts of email marketing, you can’t beat good old-fashioned great content. To that end, I have come up with seven quick tips to help you create outstanding emails which enjoy high open and click-through rates.

  1. ‘We’ is more Important than ‘Me’: Too many email marketing campaigns focus on the company rather than what the recipient wants. Fill each email with important details rather than wasting space with a company’s boring history.
  2. List Benefits Not Features: Customers don’t care about what a product does, they want to know why these features are useful to them. Outline benefits and reap the rewards.
  3. Keep Your Subject Line Promise: Recipients of emails are fed up getting emails containing information completely different to what was mentioned in the subject line. If you have promised to supply ‘6 tips to get a 6-pack’ you better do it instead of trying to sell some hackneyed fat loss system.
  4. Know Your Target Audience: Market research prior to the creation of your emails is essential. If you don’t know who your target customers are, how are you supposed to craft emails that seem tailor-made? Your content needs to be relevant to the recipients of the email if you wish to be seen as someone who can solve their problems and meet their demands.
  5. Have One Goal: You need a laser-like focus with each and every email or else it will descend into chaos. Although including several calls to action is good email marketing practice, each one should lead to the same place and have one objective. Adding in more than one message per email will only confuse prospects who will ‘unsubscribe’ en masse.
  6. Proofread: This is probably the more obvious tip yet it is also the most overlooked. Emails that are not proofread generally contain mistakes and this looks amateurish and spammy. Proofread rigorously and don’t rely on spell-check alone or risk losing credibility.
  7. Generate Urgency: If the email is offering details of a sale, there must be an urgent deadline; if you are selling something, there must be a bonus for the first few subscribers etc. Basically, your emails need something which persuades recipients to act immediately. Fail to do this and your emails will sit in a prospect’s inbox and may never be read.

You can invest as much as you like in email marketing but if you don’t have great copy, you may as well write in hieroglyphics. Follow the above tips today for a better conversion rate.

Email Open Rates Likely To Increase in 2014

Posted on May 6, 2014 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

It would appear that email open rates in 2014 may be about to receive a welcome boost. Back in 2009, Outlook and Internet Service Providers started blocking images by default and few changes were made until a December 2013 announcement by Google which stated that images in Gmail would be enabled for all webmail users. According to these marketing statistics, the email open rate in the US was 27.4% with a click-through rate of 4.5% at the end of 2013.

This compares favorably to the average open rate of 19.3% reported in 2012. However, email marketing teams know that open rates of 35%+ are possible and have been achieved by certain businesses so they will hope that the new Gmail announcement will enable them to alter emails in a manner that generates more opens and ultimately click-throughs.

The Impact of Mobile Devices

The main reason for images being blocked in the first place was to prevent viruses from being spread. However, Google has now come up with a method of authenticating images and deeming them to be free of viruses hence the change. You may be aware of the fact that email opens are tracked based on if a subscriber decides to display images. The email will be recorded as having been opened if a hidden pixel gets downloaded. Once images were blocked by default, open rates started to plummet. It is likely that other ISPs will follow the lead of Google and this should result in an open rate increase in 2014.

A greater number of emails are now opened on mobile devices as opposed to desktops and laptops. When email from Hotmail, Gmail etc. is configured on a mobile device’s native mail app, images are displayed by default so as more mobile devices get used, open rates will increase.

The Future

As it seems likely that open rates are certain to increase in 2014, it may be difficult for email marketing teams to determine just how much of the increase is down to the email program change and how much is down to a change in the email content, layout, subject line etc. What this means is that marketing teams will have to be dedicated to testing more than ever before.

This should also lead to a greater emphasis on click-through rate as a better means of comparison. Remember, if your open rate is increasing but the click-through rate remains more or less the same, the click-to-open rate will decline and this is a sign that something is wrong. Therefore, not only is 2014 the year of the improved open rate, it should also be the year when email marketing teams must ensure that each email provides value and gives subscribers a reason to click.

Use Personalized Email Marketing for Increased Profit

Posted on Apr 21, 2014 by Michael Herman | Posted in Email Deliverability, Email Marketing

Long before email marketers got in on the act, direct mail teams knew the importance of personalized content. Of course, email marketing took it to the next level since online platforms allow you to automate the process and send thousands of emails simultaneously. The whole point of personalized content is to make the customer feel as if you are talking to him directly; the most successful companies have mastered the art of telling prospects exactly what they want to hear.

An Untapped Market?

Despite the fact that Experian Marketing Services has released a detailed study outlining just how successful personalized email marketing is, only 30% of brands bother to attempt it. It was an all-encompassing study which focused on social integration, mobile, customer preferences and personalization in email marketing. The results were pretty astounding: the study found that use of personalized emails could yield a transaction rate and revenue per email that was 500% more than if non-personalized emails were used.

Using Personalization the Right Way

One of the simplest ways of personalizing an email would be to include the recipient name or reference something they have told  about themselves in the message. A more complex method would be to send different versions of your email with offers and products displayed to users based on previous browsing and purchasing behavior.

When you use a person’s name in the subject line, the recipient assumes that the email has come from a trusted source. Using a name within the email’s content improves conversion rate and is also shown to create brand loyalty with customers. Research has also shown that using a surname or even initials is deemed to be a step too far in terms of being a breach of privacy.

4 Steps to Effective Personalization

  • Create a Profile: Monitor and remember customer behavior.
  • Target: Set up some rules; for example, your targets could be people who looked at Brand X or Product Y 10 times, visitors who have been on the site for the last 3 months but have not purchased etc. You then tell the system the content you want to try out on each group of prospects.
  • Test: Gather data on your target segment and a control group and look at conversion rates, revenue, sales and size of basket.
  • Rinse & Repeat: Continue with this process and add any new information discovered about visitors. Also ensure your system doesn’t send the same content to customers time and again as this will frustrate and alienate them.

The cold hard facts state that personalized email will bring you success so if you are one of the 70% of brands that don’t utilize it, get started today!

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