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There is a trend I have noticed emerging from social media for service businesses: we are giving too much information away for free. We lull ourselves into giving away services and expertise that we should be charging for. Before we know it, no one wants to pay for what we have to offer.
Does this sound familiar? You try to gain attention to your business by running a smart campaign where you offer a sampling of your service for free - maybe it’s a free consultation or download - and the people who take you up on your offer enjoy it, but never come back for the paid service. Why?
Maybe they have gone on to someone similar to you for another free sampling? Maybe they feel they got exactly what they needed from the initial free service.
Maybe people have now come to expect to get something for nothing.
There is psychology involved in this. You have heard the saying “you get what you pay for”? What do you think people perceive they are getting when it is free? I think most of us assume that something that costs more must be worth more – we attribute expertise we may not even know about to the person who is charging higher than the other. This is a psychological effect called prestige pricing, which points to a strong correlation between perceived product quality and price. The higher the price the more likely customers are to perceive it has higher quality compared to a lower-priced product. According to psychologist Dr. Peter Shallard, “Being expensive cultivates an aura of expert and elite status”… “setting your price is the psychological equivalent of setting the value of YOU. Your life, your work, that thing you’ve poured your energy and soul into.” He recommends you ask customers who don’t want to pay your set value what they are comparing your price to; you and they may find it is not apples to apples. When Shallard first asked this question he found out his life-changing services were being compared to piano lessons!
Doing a study on cognitive biases can be very enlightening for an entrepreneur.
But with a tough economy people have been forced to settle for less and to become used to it. And maybe we have convinced ourselves we
are worth less in the process. So if you are going to offer something for free or discounted, what should you do?
- Always include the numerical value in your offer.
- Always include the time value in your offer - i.e., the actual time the service will take (example: a thirty-minute consultation for $30). According to a study from the Stanford Graduate School of Business, marketing time sells better than marketing money because our relationship with time is much more personal than our relationship with money.
- Make them pay a little. With even a small “buy in” made on the customer’s part, a psychological commitment is made. There will be a tendency to continue with the service because they are already invested and don’t want to feel they have lost that initial $5.00. This is known as loss aversion - studies suggest that losses are twice as powerful, psychologically, as gains.
- Make them pay more than a little, but include the original price. According to research by cognitive and mathematical psychologist Amos Tversky and Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who also were the pioneers in proving loss aversion, creating an anchoring bias has a very strong psychological effect (the anchor being the original price in this example). If consumers are unsure about the price they will look around for comparative prices – you provide them with the price to compare with.
- Offer coupons. Your potential customers will feel they are getting a deal and you still get paid. Again, include monetary and time values in your offer.
- Social media posts that show you are well versed in your field – statistics, what famous people say about it/quotes, questions that get people thinking about their need for your service. Do NOT give away your service in bite-sized portions.
If you don't want to believe the psychologists, why not listen to conventional wisdom? This is just one more example of my belief that SEO and Online Marketing rules are like dating
... what is it your mother always told you about why buy the cow and giving away its milk?
Is this just a social media problem?
Was this caused by social media and or the economy?
What are your thoughts?
Remembering what Mama always said...
can keep you from going wrong with your online business.
The following is an ongoing compiled list:
1. "Always date a girl with a good reputation."
When buying a previously owned URL make sure it has a good reputation, as years of cached links may show up on the search engine that you don't recognize.
2. "Be yourself." Google's Panda update is cracking down on content farming
3. "Why buy the cow, if the milk is free?" Be careful not to give away too much of your service that you should be paid for in your social media marketing
4. "There's always more fish in the sea."
Watch your ROI, if your efforts to get a prospective client's attention on social media are falling on deaf ears ... or blind eyes, move on. Social media can take up a lot of your time and money - a big picture strategy should go hand-in-hand with focus.
5. "Don't move too fast; take your time to get to know each other."
A sudden influx of SEO activity can actually hurt your search engine rankings in the long run. Also, being hasty can allow mistakes to go unnoticed. It is more important to take your time to be accurate and strategic where your website's information and links will be placed.
6. "It's not nice to lead people on."
Make sure the links that you post with your content on social media or websites go directly to the page with the information you are talking about. You will lose people along the way in a string of links.
7. "If you like it, put a ring on it."
When liking an article
by a higher profile company or individual, make sure you comment with something compelling that will result in views to come back around
to your website or social media page.
8. "Beauty is skin deep."
Your website may be attractive and innovative, but if it is filled with shallow content, grammatical errors and is hard to navigate, the viewer will lose interest.
9. "Stay away from Lover's Lane."
Don't park your website's URL while you are building your website. Sure, you may make a few bucks, but you have no control of what is going to be linked to your parked domain by the registrar. You may have cached links and content that can harm the brand image you are trying to portray once you go live. Can you think of anymore?
Did you know that you had a limit of how many people you can follow on twitter? If you do, you probably found out by accident when you could no longer follow any more people or businesses. Most likely one of the first questions that popped into your head was, "then why can Justin Beiber follow 122,496
people?" OK, maybe Justin Beiber didn't come to your mind ... sorry, I have 4 daughters ... but some famous person or brand that you relate to probably did. It is all about keeping a fairly even ratio. If you have more followers than you are following that is always good and you have plenty of room to follow, but if it is the other way around you need to be aware of the disproportion.Is following as many potential clients and industry related brands a good twitter strategy given these limits?
Here is twitter's explanation as to why this is THE RULE.
Twitter's technical follow limits:
-Every account can follow 2,000 users total. Once you’ve followed 2,000 users, there are limits to the number of additional users you can follow. This number is different for each account and is based on your ratio of followers to following; this ratio is not published. Follow limits cannot be lifted by Twitter and everyone is subject to limits, even high profile and API accounts.
-Every Twitter account is technically unable to follow more than 1,000 users per day, in addition to the account-based limits above. Please note that this is just a technical limit to prevent egregious abuse from spam accounts.
-Accounts are also prohibited from aggressively following other users. Our Follow Limits and Best Practices Page has more information on Twitter’s following rules.
What to do if you've hit a follow limit: If you've reached the account-based follow limit (2,000 users), you’ll need to wait until you yourself have more followers before you can follow additional users. Follow limits are system-wide; Support cannot remove or adjust your follow limits.
To follow one or two additional users, unfollow a few accounts you're currently following. Please note, however, that regularly following and unfollowing many accounts is a violation of the Twitter Rules and can result in account suspension.
Why Twitter limits following behavior: These limits help us improve site performance and reliability and help us make Twitter a nice place for everyone. We’ve included a more in-depth discussion of why we have follow limits on the Follow Limits and Best Practices Page.
So, what is a tweeter to do when they find themselves in this predicament?
Open up your following page and keep in mind these tips to whittle down your following number.
- Look for egg's - this usually signals inactivity. Anyone who hasn't bothered to upload their picture probably doesn't use twitter very much, or took their picture down when they stopped using twitter.
- Look for the date of the last tweet - again, why follow someone who is not active and is therefore not seeing your tweets either.
- Did they follow you back? If they aren't seeing your content then it is not helping your business to follow them.
- Go back to the oldest people you followed - Ask yourself if they are someone who would be interested in your services or not?, do they share valuable information about your industry?, have you read a tweet from them recently?, would you miss them if they weren't there?
Once you are aware of these policies you may begin to feel like a twitter snob
, evaluating each follow and whether it is worthy of your follow back. If you are feeling like you are going to develop a mid twitter life crisis
over this new revelation of twitter not being all inclusive as you thought it would be, I recommend you read "Ted's twitter back policy
". It may just inspire you to forget everything you just read above and establish one of your own. Here is an excerpt and my favorite point ...
- 4. Much more importantly (to me), here’s why I follow everyone back: I’m not more important than my followers. Indeed, I’m grateful every single time a person compliments me by following me. It’s their way of saying, “Hi Ted! I want to get to know you better.” For me to snub their kindness would be ungracious – and if I were ungracious, I couldn’t look my Mother in the eye. [I'm on a lifelong crusade against arrogance. We'll leave it at that.]
If you need help putting together an effective social media strategy, contact me
and we can come up with a plan. It may not be about how many you are following, but rather how you are using twitter that could make a difference.
Here is my newest website design
project. This website was custom made from top to bottom. I loved experimenting with 3-D dimension and shadows. It was so much fun brainstorming with Jeanine Kinzie on this one. I learned a lot about insurance and finances! She is amazing at what she does and explaining these complex matters in a way everyone can understand. I hope her website makes you feel as much at ease she does in person.
Now on to marketing www.jeaninekinzie.com
There are a lot of abbreviations thrown around about how to get your website noticed. The two main things you will hear that you need are SEO and/or SEM. Sometimes these terms are used interchangeably. But, they are not the same thing.
Here is an explanation of what they are: SEO - Search Engine Optimization
Search Engine Optimization is the employment of techniques to get your website found on search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo...even Facebook) on the top of the first page of organic links.
What are organic links do you ask? Using Google as an example, they are all the links that come up as results to a search query just under the paid Google Ads on the top of the page.
Ex: If you were a plumber in Lansing, MI and someone in your area needed to find a plumber, they would go to Google or Bing, type in "plumber Lansing, MI" or "fix broken pipe Lansing, MI" and you would want your website or business information to come up in the links that are provided by the search engine.
Not all search engines operate the same, having assistance from someone who understands the elements your website needs for each of the "heavy hitting" search engines will help your standing.SEM - Search Engine Marketing or Online Marketing
Search Engine Marketing is paid advertising such as Google Ads, Facebook Ads, etc. OR campaigns to get attention or a buzz going about your business, which may have more to do with social networks (also search engines in their own right).
A lot of money can be thrown away on these kinds of ads. Having someone who understands how search engines operate and determine what is a relevant result for a search, and how the average Joe tries to find information will save you money and time. It also helps to know where to place these ads and what method of display is best for your audience.
Creating a buzz or following for your business takes creativity and knowing the current trends in the plugged in world. Social Networks are a good tool for this.
At MC Design & Services, LLC we will always recommend you pay close attention to your SEO standing. We can help you decide whether dollars spent on SEM are necessary and how big that budget really needs to be. From our experience we have seen clients benefit from our SEO service to the point that they no longer needed print or online ads.Contact Us
Today for a FREE Consultation!