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Creating a Vivid, Engaging Website

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

As a new business owner, creating a website for yourself can be a challenge. Sometimes, learning applications like WordPress can facilitate the process. The basic codes behind website construction, HTML, CSS, and Javascript, can certainly help. The nuts and bolts can provide the foundation. Creating an inspiring website comes from the design itself.

Novelty in a new website keeps eyes wide and attentive. New plugins can maintain engagement. During the age of the web, novelties come from far and wide. Perhaps the latest Squid Game reference can perk up the ears of even the most jaded member of Generation Z.

Your website should make visitors react. Think in terms of a “call to action.” The website itself, or its online store, should get visitors excited. The marketing process should convey, “This is something new!” Colorful yet tasteful displays should distinguish your product or service in such a way as to convince the user that they are “in on” something exciting and new that will change their lives.

“Calls to action” in many cases can be mottos or phrases that convey the mission of the company or website. In others, these “calls” may invite subscriptions to websites, newsletters, or YouTube videos. Remember that these days, as in the early days of radio and television, some of the best content piggybacks onto paid content.

Each of these two strategies can provide benefits for your new business as you try to get your prospects excited. A good motto could get its own good feedback. A newsletter or YouTube video can provide a different approach. Only a few decades ago, most television contents was provided by advertisers. Perhaps these days, your new business can provide support for whatever amateur entertainer you yourself deem worthy of representing your new business idea. Whatever makes your brand more colorful and likely to rope in customers, do it!

Some websites are too colorful. These sites try too hard to attract attention. Many websites are busy and dense with unnecessary features. The better website “calls to action” reserve their most interesting features as special “guests” on otherwise calming, tasteful backgrounds. 

Consider a tastefully planned garden. The right “call to action” places the brightest flower in a tranquil setting that will draw the user while leaving the most utilitarian features in a soothing background tone. These everyday features hopefully will not be screaming at you relentlessly and stealing the spotlight.

Rarely does a business have so many exciting things going for it that it should blind a user with an overactive website. The link to an online store should not have blinking lights, dancing skeletons, and unsolicited music. However, a little bling never hurts the absolute most exciting messages in a business’s website. Consider a sports game. Everything may be low-key up to the final goal or touchdown. The same goes for marketing. Consumers can see right through an onslaught of melodrama. However, a moment of excitement provides the right moment to deliver that message that will make you and your customers happy.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

Automate an Email List

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

The last two posts described walking the tightrope between spam and genuine engagement. After an initial engagement with an email list, the discussion of further automated conversations continues this discussion. 

Generally, automated emails direct email traffic to a known audience. This audience has already demonstrated an interest in the mission of the business owner. The path has been paved. The rest of the journey should include proper enticements for your already engaged user base. 

Automating an email marketing plan may include four considerations. (1) An engaged audience should direct your goals. (2) The right automation software, (3) Using this software to generate enticing auto-responses, (4) Welcoming new subscribers.

First, engagement with the audience is key to successful email marketing. Remember that once emails become automated, proper routing becomes especially crucial. No one likes robocalls, as we all know. Emails are certainly less obtrusive but still should not cross the fine line into spam. 

Marketers should segment customers to ensure relevance. Recipients should be split into groups based on qualities such as gender, age, or location to ensure that offers stay relevant to each segment within the target audience. Other segments could include classes of customers based on their stage in the sales funnel, whether as a prospect or an ongoing customer. Each segment should stay relevant to the marketing effort. 

Remember that cold leads also have value and can reveal information that may result in an eventual sale. Segmenting cold leads can provide insights about alternate directions for future correspondence.

Even on an individual level, fictitious buyer personas can illustrate the personal characteristics of buyers from a market research standpoint. Construction of relevant buyer personas can inform the construction of emails and help design effective offers. The construction of such personas can humanize the potential target and allow a more detailed construction of marketing content. In other words, the creator engages a human being they have come to understand rather than a cold demographic.

Second, good automation software facilitates the process.  Automation software should not only be usable but also flexible and integral with other platforms. Also consider the potential for client support, as well as simple procedures to optimize email lists. For example, software should make it easy to remove bad addresses and redundant users. 

Third, the auto-responses should continue to engage, and not bother, the subscribers. Auto-responses continue the conversation after the customer has engaged with the initial email. These responses should add humanity to the content of the interactions, and not provide mere cold confirmation of the initial encounter. Consider different classes of auto-responses for different situations and types of customers. For example, post-appointment emails may comprise one list, and post-purchase emails can go into another category. Auto-responses may ask for feedback, further information, or provide deals or continuing information such as jokes, quizzes, or inspirational quotes. 

Fourth, always consider the expansion of the pool of brand enthusiasts moving forward. When plausible, recipients should be encouraged to forward messages and share information with others in their brand segment. However, always ensure that your brand leaves a positive impression. Blasting potential customers with frivolous communications leave the impression of a cheap company desperate for any kind of response. These bad practices may annoy the recipient as well as get you blocked as a spammer. Remember to maintain dignity and professionalism, keeping directed marketing relevant and interesting. In this fashion, customers will look upon the company as a partner rather than a pest.

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

HOW TO BUILD AN EMAIL LIST

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

How can we start potential customers on the journey down the “sales funnel?” For the uninitiated, a “sales funnel” is a marketing term describing the trip of a potential customer from prospect to buyer. As discussed in the previous article in this series, one “Golden Rule” prevails in email marketing. “Avoid spam.” 

So how do we avoid “spam” as email marketers? The most effective email marketing efforts channel is through voluntary opt-in. Examples might be newsletters, online classes, and games. The worst sin would be to purchase an email list, which some marketers do.

Nothing alienates quite like an unsolicited email. For this reason, the most successful marketing efforts piggyback onto existing online communities with an engaged user base. 

Choosing a relevant community sets the entrepreneur on a path to gracefully and unobtrusively distribute a sales pitch. Your own website might provide an excellent starting point. Web design should include mechanisms to collect email addresses from interested parties. Popular methods might include quizzes and surveys, which may also provide valuable information about your client base. Directing ads through social media may provide another outlet for your pitch.

Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube offer special methods for targeting audiences. Each of these platforms offers methods to harvest followers by engaging with relevant topics. A good email marketing campaign converts these followers into recipients of an email list. The importance of an email list comes from the control the owner can exercise. A social media platform can change its policies regarding sales pitches. These changes can interfere with your relationship with your followers. With an established email list, the relationship is between you and your client base.

After the establishment of an email list, marketers should maintain the interest of the recipients. 

First, don’t email every day. Business owners should ensure not to exasperate their audience or crowd their inboxes. This is what spammers do. 

Second, a healthy email list has relevant and interesting subject lines. The message should stand out amidst the flood of offers that crowd the typical inbox. Managing the inbox should involve refreshing the trove of marketing ideas and maintaining an evolving relationship that snatches the readers’ attention. In other words, keep them clicking. We want to keep our message out of the users’ spam or trash boxes. 

Third, the content itself should matter. Ongoing relevant content should stay within the bounds of what the recipient signed up for. Don’t email about golf when your base wants to know about basketball.

Fourth, as subscribers, the recipients should receive special perks and offers. These exclusives may include webinars, audio seminars, or special discounts. 

Email can be a remarkably cost-effective method for disseminating a sales pitch. However, due effort should separate your messages from the regular spam that regularly pollutes most inboxes. Effective strategies to create the email list should responsibly collect engaged users whose interests coincide with the goals of the business. Following the creation of such a list, effective email list management allows a business to control its message while remaining relevant to the user. 

 

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

Writing A Sales Email

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Nobody likes spam. Unsolicited, undirected emails can undermine an institution’s credibility. SPAM floods most inboxes and leaves most Internet users wary of scams, frivolous marketing schemes, and other hobgoblins plotting to snatch innocent victims from the murkiest depths of the Internet. From top to bottom, good marketing strategies can transform a potential minor nuisance into a gateway for further interaction.

Emails can be directed to solicit either leads or potential clients. Business owners should ponder the relevant stage in the marketing process before investing in this form of directed marketing. In the end, the email should follow just the right channels, so that each message can speak to each member of the target audience in an individualized fashion that meets their specific needs.

(1) The Subject Line

First impressions are the best. Marketing experts sometimes advise as much effort into the subject line as the rest of the content. The subject line distinguishes the email’s relevance and importance to the reader. 

The user should be on notice of the content of the email from the get-go, and that the sender values their time.

(2) The Target

The marketer should choose the email recipients carefully, and the content should speak to the target audience. Consider (1) the stage of the marketing process, (2) their demographic and personal profile, (3) and their needs and problems. 

(3) The Hookwhat 

A personal connection draws the audience further into the conversation with the marketer. A “lede” in the journalism world (the opening sentence or paragraph of a news article that summarizes the most important aspects of the story) puts the reader on notice of the relevance of the news story. Similarly, the opening sentences of an email should draw the reader into the marketing proposition.

Some marketers combine their messages with updates and notifications about relevant special interests or industries. Newsletters to existing customers might provide forums to share ideas for partnerships. 

(4) The “Call to Action”

Once the subject line and the “lede” have established relevance, a “call to action” lays out the next steps. The “call to action” may solicit any of a variety of activities. Perhaps the goal of an email is simply a “like.” Maybe the sender hopes to sign up new subscribers to a newsletter. Maybe the goal is a website visit. In many cases, the marketer’s goal is an outright sale.

Never stop respecting the target audience. Overall, the email’s proposition should respect the viewer. Assuming the use of marketing emails, the content of the email should, in the end, provide something of value to the audience 

Google Analytics can slowly give a sense of the level of engagement with target audiences. However, as a bottom line, respect and a sense of genuine mutual connection generally build the kinds of foundations that businesses need. 

Skill and craftsmanship get a marketing email into the right in-box. However, marketers should never forget respect for the client. Never forget the right symbiosis between the marketer and the target audience. In the end, an economic bond never follows outside some sort of personal connection.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hope that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go-to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/ 

 

Steps to Create a Workable Online Store

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By James Pruitt, Senior Staff Writer

Unused talent broils at the edges of the economy these days. With the labor participation rate at an all-time low, who might we find excluded from the labor market now? Examples may include all manner of artists, craftspeople, and even talented scavengers. Any number of people who can’t reach the right people in their marketing efforts.

Online marketing presents a solution. However, even the best merchants and craftspeople may feel intimidated in the process of developing an online marketing strategy for what may seem like niche enterprises. 

The first step may be an online presence. However, an actual “online checkout site” drastically increases user-friendliness, and certainly builds confidence on the part of any customer. Many online tools can facilitate the creation of an online store. Web creation tools such as WordPress, Etsy, and Godaddy can make all the difference.

The initial process of mastering the basics of web creation can be challenging. For example, remember that your “online store” will look different on tablets, phones, and even different browsers on desktop computers. Selecting and mastering proper themes on web-creation applications can make the difference between a navigable “online store” and one that looks messy and unprofessional.

Also, remember that behind these web-building applications are programming languages such as HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Web building applications allow modification of the underlying code as an option, but these modifications are sometimes not recommended. These applications update their plugins from time to time, which updates the code while, sometimes, overwriting any changes you have made.

As for the design of a checkout website, several considerations can optimize engagement with customers. 

First, business owners should keep their checkout sites simple and easy. Simplicity facilitates engagement directly with your product and builds confidence and trust in your capabilities. The internet abounds with “rogues’ galleries” of terrible web pages that could make you go blind. Such websites tend to be gaudy, busy, and overwhelming. Don’t be “that person.”

Second, carefully research the payment process, and ensure the checkout page accommodates each likely option. These options may include fingerprints, QR codes, and paperless checks, as well as any of a variety of credit card options. Increased payment choices make for more satisfied customers, provided the site remains pristine and uncluttered.

Third, progress bars help the checkout process. Especially mobile customers may appreciate this user-friendly feature to ensure the progress of their purchase.

Fourth, the best checkout sites feature popup and autofill features to ensure seamless transactions. “Popup” in this case does not mean “popup ads.” “Popup” means the fields should populate as the transaction progresses. 

Fifth, ensure wise messaging procedures. Once a customer proceeds with a transaction, the messaging ensures trust and provides the customer with documentation. A customer should get a receipt in their inbox immediately.

Many talented professionals lose their place in the economy simply because they don’t know how to market their products online. Even professionals who do have a website sometimes haven’t established an “online marketplace”. Creating such a website may present a challenge but can easily change the game. 

Never underestimate the investment with the time and energy to learn to use website-building applications. Such a project can cement your status as a professional and help launch your aspirations.

VAMBOA, the Veterans and Military Business Owners Association hopes that this article has not only been valuable but provided some unique perspective.  We work hard to bring you important, positive, helpful, and timely information and are the “go to” online venue for Veteran and Military Business Owners.  VAMBOA is a non-profit trade association.   We do not charge members any dues or fees and members can also use our seal on their collateral and website.   If you are not yet a member, you can register here:  

https://vamboa.org/member-registration/

We also invite you to check us out on social media too.

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/vamboa

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/VAMBOA

Do not forget that VAMBOA members receive significant discounts on technology needs.   Check them out here: https://vamboa.org/dell-technologies/

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