Hello. My name is...

Laura B. Poindexter is a renowned thought leader, guiding clients through the changing electronic marketing and social media environment. Her public seminars have helped thousands of business owners learn and employ affordable marketing solutions. Since 2000, her company, Queenb Creative (formerly laura b creative), has managed clients’ online presence, maximized their social media and electronic marketing to positively impact their bottom line and enhance audience engagement.

07 March 2017 ~ 0 Comments

Why I Love Constant Contact

Why I Love Constant Contact

I have found Constant Contact is the right fit for 90% of the thousands of small business owners and nonprofit marketers I speak to each year. And email marketing is the number one digital marketing strategy you should be implementing in your business.

In case you are unaware, Constant Contact is an email solution provider. What does that mean? It allows organizations to send one-to-many emails to that organization’s permission-based list. It has long been the industry leader, especially for small business. I have been a user since 2003 and the product just keeps getting better.

I’m often asked why I love and recommend Constant Contact.

First of all, I believe Constant Contact knows its market is the small business and as such has kept the platform easy to use and cost effective for small organizations. Plans start at just $20/mo! And you can always start with a 60-day fully-featured trial.

They also have award-winning, patient, US-based customer support. If you spend more than 5 minutes on a question or problem within Constant Contact, contact Customer Support. They are amazing.

Lastly, Constant Contact has made an investment in the local community by establishing local education teams who present best practices on email marketing throughout your area. Local marketing professionals like me. You can find my webinars and DC-area events at www.laurabcreative.com/calendar. Many of my events are free, thanks to the support of Constant Contact.

11 New Constant Contact Features

So there are all the reasons I love Constant Contact as a company. Let’s dive into some of the amazing new features. Some of these are brand new, others have rolled out across accounts over the last 6-12 months. All of these features are in the new Drag and Drop Editor, officially called the Third Generation Editor. This interface is so easy to use. You can create a mobile-responsive email in minutes with tons of cool features like:

  1. Background Patterns. There are currently 8 different background patterns you can choose along with the ability to color them to match your branding. I’ve heard the ability to upload your own background images is coming soon.
  2. Import PDF to Email. This is amazing especially if you deal with another stakeholder who provides a PDF promotion like an event flyer. You can now import this PDF into Constant Contact and the system will create an image in the email that is automatically linked to the PDF download as well as a download button below the image. I encourage you to include descriptive text and details in the text of the email as well for those users who have images turned off.
  3. Specialty Blocks. These make it easy to add specific types of content above and beyond the general blocks that include text, images, videos, and social media links.
    1. Read More. Pull all the info from a blog post including image, title, first few lines, along with a link to the rest of the post.
    2. Poll. Ask readers a question and track their responses.
    3. RSVP. I have been loving this simple, one-click way for readers to RSVP for an event.

That’s just creating an email. There’s also a ton of magic happening after you send your email.

  1. Segmenting with Tags. You can segment your lists based on who has a certain tag or who does not have a tag. This means you can segment by customers or location easily.
  2. Social Share. The new social share allows you to share your email on social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter). I like to use this with clients to enhance their social media editorial calendar.
  3. New Email Archive. Simply place a piece of code on your website and then select which email campaigns show up in your archive right in the Constant Contact dashboard. I love the control and simplicity of this feature.

We also want to serve our subscribers and manage our email lists.

  1. Send Welcome Email by List. I have waited for this feature for so long. Now you can send tailored welcome emails with specific content for each of your lists. Read 3 Autoresponders to Use in Your Business Right Now for tips on creating your welcome email including a downloadable checklist. Do not overlook this important first contact that typically sees an open rate of 60-80%.
  2. Resubscribe Contacts. You can now send an email directly to a subscriber with instructions on how they can resubscribe. This is handy when a business associate or colleague has accidently unsubscribed. This is a great feature but should only be used for contacts that you’ve spoken to about resubscribing.

Now you can make sure your emails are more effective with these great new reporting features.

  1. Mobile vs. Desktop Opens by Campaign. Now you can see how many of your emails are opened on mobile versus desktop devices across the last 50 campaigns in your account as well as in each campaign.
  2. Search and Compare Campaigns. Within the reporting section, you can search and compare results from campaigns. The compare feature will give you a graph showing key metrics. With this in mind, remember to name your campaigns so you can identify the subject and content of the email in the reporting section.
  3. Click Through Heat Map. Now you can see which links were clicked in your email campaigns by viewing the heat map of actual clicks. This is helpful if you have the same link, say to an event registration, used in a headline, button, and image.

I know there are lots of options for email marketing but give Constant Contact a try. And if you are a past customer, I invite you to start a new free 60-day trial to check out all the cool new features.

10 September 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Are You Hurting Your Business with These 6 Social Media Mistakes?

You are on social media. You are posting updates. You may have even built a respectable following but you are getting no engagement or growth in your profiles. And, more importantly, you are not seeing increased sales from your efforts. What’s the problem?

I see the following mistakes most often when I review a business’ social media presence through my social media audit. Surprisingly, the worst offenses happen when a business is actually paying an outside firm to handle its social media.

Review this list and look at your organization’s social media. I hope it helps you tweak your existing efforts for better results.

  • No consistency. There is no consistency in your profiles. Can an outsider tell that your Facebook page, your Twitter profile, and your website are the same business? Do you use the same handles for all profiles? For instance, I am @laurabcreative everywhere: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, Snapchat, Blab, and Vine. This doesn’t mean that you need to be on every platform, but you need to have consistent handles across all platforms as well as consistent imagery and completed profiles.

To help you review this for yourself, I’ve created a Social Media Profile Checklist. This is where my social media audit starts and I always find a few places for improvement when reviewing a business. It is well worth your time to follow the checklist and review each platform.

  • No direction. The next biggest mistake I see is posting with no direction or what I call “posting just to post.” This is where you may have a social media plan and may even be paying an outside agency to post for you and that is what they are doing – just posting.

In fact, I don’t see a compelling reason why you should post every day. I’d rather you post a few times a week with really engaging posts than just putting something up there.

Social media is about engagement and connection with your audience. Posting just to post or taking a “set it and forget it” approach is counterintuitive to the entire opportunity that is social media marketing.

Many businesses continue to post the same type of content over weeks and months and wonder why they have nothing to show for their efforts. Here’s an example: do you post motivation quotes that are completely unrelated to your business? Do you actually have comments, likes, and shares on those posts? Even if you do, are they moving your clients or prospects any closer to buying your product or service? How about related articles? No likes and shares? Then why are you still posting them?

Please have a goal for your social media and make sure all your content stays on message. That doesn’t mean that all your content should be your own but it should certainly be on message.

As a caveat to this posting with no direction, we see the same posts across all platforms. Again, you are ignoring the different cultures and norms of each platform and just blasting your message. Please read Friends Don’t Let Friends Autopost.

  • No variety. Along the same lines, even with businesses who are posting and getting engagement, is a lack of variety in your posts. This means you are always posting a link or a photo but it’s the same photo — even if it’s a happy customer in your store, it’s basically the same photo. I look for variety in types of content – photos, videos, links, text updates along with variety within those posts. Have you ever gone to an Instagram account and all the posts are different motivational quotes with the exact same design? Guess which posts will just get glanced over in the news feed? The boring ones. Shake it up a little bit. Vary your posts and watch which ones your audience reacts to.
  • No plan. Posting sporadically. I see this a lot in marketing in general. You ignore your audience until you have a big event or promotion coming up and then you post about it – everywhere and too much. You want a consistent drumbeat of valuable content to your audience. You need to earn the right to promote to them. If you need a deeper dive on this point along with fantastic examples, I recommend Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk.
  • No one is listening. This comes from posting where your audience is not. You can be posting great content all day long but if your audience is not there, you are speaking to an empty room. Not sure where your audience is online or if they even are? You need to ask them where they are and where they would like to receive updates about your offering. Not sure who your ideal customer is? Define your ideal client here.
  • No response. Not responding to your audience is a huge no-no. This is why you want to limit the number of platforms you are on so you can manage the engagement and interactions. Be sure to assign someone to monitor the comments and messages on all platforms and empower them to respond quickly. Some platforms, like Facebook, now show how quickly a page responds to messages.

I applaud your efforts to integrate social media into your marketing plans. It’s important to realize that there is no magic bullet and that social media is a conversation with your audience. I hope you will review these 6 mistakes and they will help you improve your social media marketing resulting in better engagement and, of course, increased sales.

Start with my Social Media Profile Checklist.

And for goodness sake, have fun. Social media is supposed to be social so inject some fun into your posts.

If you want some ideas to increase engagement and growth, please schedule your customized social media audit today.

07 June 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Should I Use the Latest Social Media Platform?

5 Tips to Decide

There are so many social media platforms available for businesses and it’s often hard to decide which platforms you should use. You are hearing advice from all over that you HAVE to be on this platform or that. With my clients, I utilize my 3 Cs of Social Media to determine which platforms to utilize in the custom social media strategy I design for them, but what do we do to evaluate the latest and greatest, in-the-news platforms?

    1. Initially, you want to do some general research on what type of platform it is. Why was it built? What type of content is shared? Who were the early adopters? Make a note of those influencers who are quoted in the articles, we will need them for step 3. This should give you a general idea of what is going on with a platform. Once you decide from this initial review that it may be a platform your business should consider, I recommend these steps:

      Snapchat Snapcode for @laurabcreative

      My Snapchat Snapcode

    2. Secure Your Handle. Download the app, create an account, and secure your handle. Remember we want a consistent handle across all platforms so try to match your existing social media handles. The advantage of jumping on early is that you should be able to secure your handle. I’m @laurabcreative everywhere.
    3. Complete Your Profile. Now, upload your profile image or logo and complete your profile including your website URL and any other pertinent info. Make sure it matches the imagery, logo, and branding of your other profiles.
    4. Listen. This is the biggest step. Don’t jump on and start pushing out content. First, find influencers in your industry or just early adopters on the platform and see what they are doing. Make sure you choose people who are using the platform well – remember any influencers mentioned in your initial research. Find brands that are doing well that speak to your same target audience so you are seeing both individuals and brand voices. Be sure to follow more than one or two. You may find you just don’t like the style of some of the people and need to find others to follow. There are some bloggers/authors that I love but I don’t enjoy their Snapchat stories, for example, so I don’t follow them there.The benefit of listening is not just to see what other people are doing but also to get an idea of the culture of the platform so when you start producing content (if that is what you decide), you will be up to speed.
    5. Decision Time. Does this new platform make sense for your business and your audience?
      1. If the answer is yes, now you need to integrate this new platform into your existing social media strategy. What type of content are you going to share? What is the goal of the platform for your business? Is this something you can do well? Remember we are not just going to start autoposting our content here. For more, read Friends Don’t Let Friends Autopost.
      2. If the answer is no, this platform doesn’t make sense for your business right now. That’s okay. Be sure not to add this profile link to your website, email signature, or anything else. If you are not participating, you don’t want to be driving people there. But, you should leave your completed profile up for SEO reasons and so you will be well-positioned should this platform make sense for your social media strategy in the future.

I hope these tips will help you make sense of the ever-changing online world. Did this process help you to choose or disqualify any platform? Let me know in the comments.

29 April 2016 ~ 0 Comments

Generating Immediate Audience Feedback with a Faux Survey

Do you want to know what your audience wants? You should ask them.

But, you may have reservations about conducting a survey even if it’s just a few questions.

Over the past year, I have gained incredible insight into my audience by using a simple technique I call the faux survey (H/T to Digital Marketer for the term).

What’s a faux survey? It’s one question in the text of an email with multiple choice answers.

[We should note that Constant Contact does have a great survey tool that I use with my clients as well but sometimes I only have one question or I want immediate results. When that is the case, I use the faux survey.]

I ask one question in the text of an email and then list the multiple choice answers. I create different hyperlinks for each of the answers. This not only makes the survey results as easy as checking my click through rates but it also gives me added marketing exposure because my audience is now going where I want them to go.

You can also create a simple 2 or 3 answer faux survey using images like this example for a restaurant:

How was your meal?
Thumbs-Up-Circle Thumbs-Down-Circle

 

Sounds easy, right? But does it work? Of course, or I wouldn’t be writing about it.

Here are a few case studies for you:

Case Study 1: Content Consumption by Laura B. Poindexter

I wanted to know how my audience consumed content. I really wanted to start a podcast. I listen to podcasts. I love them. I started out my career in radio. I love to talk. I really thought podcasting was for me. So, I asked my audience.

Here’s the email:

My Faux Survey #1

Curious about my results? Considering I speak a lot both at live events and through webinars, I knew those 2 would score well. That is how I have built my list so it makes sense. The only result that really surprised me was the answer for podcasting. Can you guess how many people listen to podcasts? 1.92% That’s it. I was so sad. I mean there are always arguments for why I might want to podcast like to reach a new/different audience, but this is MY audience. This list is how I have built my business over the last 16 years. Surely I should start with what they are telling me.

The good news: think of all the time and money I didn’t waste on launching my own podcast. Now, I still love podcasts and it’s not off the table forever, just for right now. However, I am happy to dip my toe in the water (with little investment on my part) by being a guest on other people’s podcasts.

Added Benefit

The added benefit of this strategy is in the link locations. Not only are you training your audience to click on your emails but you can also send them wherever you want through the link, just be sure it’s relevant. For the survey above, answering “I like to read blog posts” would take you here:

Sniply to Blog

See the note at the bottom? I used Sniply to add the note at the bottom which helped to explain why they were redirected.

But wait, there’s more…after a few weeks, I went back into the email reporting and segmented the respondents into new lists based on their answers. If I ever launch a podcast, you can bet that handful of people will be the first to know.

I also took this opportunity to ask a bonus question for those not in the Washington DC area and sent them to my webinar calendar. I also then removed them from my local events list.

sniply not DC

I like to say marketing is just about staying in front of your audience until they are ready to buy your product or service. (click on the bird to tweet that)Tweet: Marketing is staying in front of your audience until they are ready to buy your product or service @laurabcreative http://ctt.ec/cLH0O+

This email received an initial 25% open rate and a 16% click through rate. And to improve results, I used this strategy to Increase My Open Rate by 30% (which it did) bringing the total open rate to over 30%.

I’d say that’s LOTS of positives above and beyond the info I gained, just by strategically asking one question.

Case Study 2: Net Promoter Score, Data Services Company

My client wanted to implement a Net Promoter Score survey and track their results with clients post contract completion.

So we implemented a simple faux survey that asked if they were likely to recommend the business to anyone. As per Net Promoter Score standard, scores between 0-6 are Detractors (so there was a problem), 7-8 are labeled Passives (they are happy but not likely to promote), 9-10 are Promoters (also know as your raving fans). We set up 3 landing pages with the following messaging:

Scores 9-10: Thank you so much, here’s how you can recommend us with clickable links

Scores 7-8: Thank you for your business. Let us know if we can help you in the future.

Scores 0-6: We are sorry to hear that we did not exceed your expectations, please contact us if there is anyway for us to serve you better. This page included a link t0 book a phone call directly with the CEO.

 

So you can see how powerful this simple strategy can be for your organization.

I’d love to know how you plan to implement a faux survey in your organization and if you felt this was helpful, please let me know in the comments below.

If you’d like more helpful tips like this and access to me to answer your questions, please join my free Facebook Group for small businesses and nonprofit marketers at www.marketing-hive.com.