Between 5pm and 6pm is the best time to send marketing emails

By ISHBEL MACLEOD

This article first appeared on The Drum

Between 5pm and 6pm is the best time to send marketing emails, but different sectors peak at different times

Over a quarter (26 per cent) of marketing emails sent between 5pm and 6pm are opened, a nine per cent increase on the average rate, new research from Pure360 has found.

The research is based on the analysis of 40,000 email campaigns sent by over 140 companies in 24 sectors, between January and December 2012, and found that different times of day are better for different sectors, with recruitment doing best before 10am; hotel offers peaking at 10-11am and travel doing the best at 4pm.

Abi Jacks, head of marketing at Pure360, comments: “It’s easy to make assumptions about consumer behaviour and many marketers believe that sending emails first thing in the morning benefits their open rates.

“But in fact, our research shows that they need to really get to know their sector audience and be aware of unexpected trends – such as the habit people have for opening emails that they receive as the time-pressures of the work day ease off on the commute home.”

Pure360’s research also shows that autumn is the best time of year to launch an email campaign, with 21 per cent of marketing messages sent between September and November opened, compared to a 17 per cent average.

The most successful months for events, hotels, retail, technology and travel emails are all in autumn.


The Cheat Sheet for Social Media Cover Photo Dimensions

This article was originally posted on hubspot.com by Anum Hussain.

The rapidly growing user bases of photo-centric sites like Instagram and Pinterest, and the recent image-focused redesign of Facebook’s News Feed are two of many indicators that visual content is a force to be reckoned with in marketing.

According to 3M Corporation90% of information transmitted to the brain is visual. And on Facebook alone, our own research shows thatphotos generate 53% more likes than the average post.

Recent trends and studies are clearly highlighting a new wave of visual content consumption patterns. Even if you’ve never designed anything before, or never even dreamed of being a designer, in order to succeed in today’s marketing world, you need to create visual content. And not having enough budget is no longer an excuse either, as improved technology and access to tools and software has made it more and more possible for mere marketing mortals to work on their design chops.

To help you get started with visual content, this post will specifically give you a helpful cheat sheet you can bookmark and reference when creating the cover photos for your business’ various social media accounts.

The Essential Cheat Sheet for Social Media Cover Photo Dimensions

Fortunately, most social networks automatically re-size the photos you upload to your company pages. Here is a list of instances in which youdon’t have to worry about resizing images or creating visuals using a particular dimension:

  • Facebook album photos
  • Facebook mobile image uploads
  • Facebook Timeline image uploads
  • Pinterest pins
  • Pinterest album covers
  • Twitter photo tweets
  • Google+ news feed photo uploads
  • LinkedIn photo links

However, if you upload a cover photo to one of your business pages that is the incorrect dimension for that given social network, your image may get warped or cropped. This is definitely not ideal for brands looking to put their best foot forward in social media.

The following cheat sheet, created by our inbound designer Desmond Wong, will highlight the different dimensions you should be using for your various social media cover photos. And to help make things easier, we’ve also built free-to-download, pre-sized PowerPoint templates for each of the following social networks for you to use as your design canvas. Just add your creative to a social network’s corresponding slide, save it as an image file, and upload it ensure your design is optimized for that social network. Easy as pie!

Essential_Cheat_Sheet_to_Social_Media_Cover_Photos

You can download your free cover photo templates in PowerPoint here (template example pictured below). The download also includes our new free ebook, Design it Yourself: The Marketer’s Crash Course in Visual Content Creation, which walks you through everything you need to know to start designing visual content yourself — no previous design experience required!

facebook-cover-photo-size

 

#HashtagsIn2013: A Hashtag How-To for Businesses

This post first appeared on Social Media Today and was submitted by: Tomeeka Farrington

hashtag strategy

If your company regularly uses Twitter, then you know how crucial hashtagging is to a successful social media campaign. Unfortunately, Twitter’s popular method of interest-driven communication is about to have a contender in the ring it didn’t expect: Facebook. But don’t get too excited just yet; the social media giant is planning to unveil hashtagging capabilities on its site in the not-so-distant future. Coupled with an updated News Feed interface, this could be the push Facebook needed to catapult itself into the advertising go-to for the digital age.

How can your business make the best use of its hashtags? Simple. #Don’t #Hashtag #Every #Word. Every social media maven knows that populating a Tweet or a photo on Instagram with every other word hashtagged is the PR intern mistake of the year. Hashtags should #looklikethis (no spaces!) and if you want to drive your point home, use capital letters to make your tag #EasytoRead.

Starting a hashtagged phrase is a great way to gain new customers.  It also allows companies a way to drive customers to their business through creating unique tags that represent their brand or message. Creating a catchy hashtag campaign, such as Paramount Farm’s use of #CrackinStyle during its ad in the 2013 Superbowl is a great example of unique hashtagging opportunities. This will ensure that your message isn’t lost in the hashtag spam, thus cluttering the commonly used tags for your industry.

Hashtags are a great way for companies to give further insight into an image or product. They allow for categorization, interest honing, and drive targeted consumer purchases. Think of hashtags as warm leads. If a tag is used properly, you will find that clients found it through researching the broad scope of your product or service. (Examples Include: #Tech, #Apparel, #Outdoors, #Gaming, etc.) Using hashtags to draw attention to a particular part of an image, spec of a product or app, or new design is ideal. You can keep hashtags broad spectrum or niche to your industry—the opportunities are endless! Be forewarned that many popular tags are, as we said—overpopulated. This is why creating a unique hashtag specific to your brand, and encouraging your users to use it is crucial to success.

Facebook aims to reportedly group user interests through the use of hashtags, but its ultimate goal is to get them to sell ads. Using hashtags to drive attention to a promoted Facebook post will be a great way to gain attention when hashtags finally roll out on your client’s news feed.

Keeping your hashtag campaign thriving in 2013 is simple if you follow these steps:

  • #KeepItShort – Nobody wants to see a #Hashtagthatlookslikethis. If you must use a longer message, make use of capital letters to separate words and enable readability.
  • Create a message – What do you want your clients to takeaway? Craft a hashtag around a particular message. Make yourself unique.
  • Don’t stay with the popular crowd – It’s easy for your social media post to get lost in the shuffle if you use a well populated hashtag.

What has worked for your business in the world of hashtagging for social media campaigns? What hasn’t? Do you have a hashtag nightmare to share? We’d love to hear your story! Connect with us in the comments below.

5 Video Strategies for Merchants

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This post first appeared in Website Magazine.

A strong video strategy can provide merchants with many benefits – from an increase in engagement and conversion rates to better placement within the SERPs.

The biggest challenge with video, however, is creating content that will engage consumers and entice them to hit the play button. While many merchants implement video on their sites, often times their video strategies are limited to product videos and demonstrations for specific items. Although these types of videos are definitely helpful, they aren’t very engaging and are rarely available for every product on an e-commerce website.

In order to harness the true power of video, merchants need to create a more robust and innovative strategy that not only showcases their products, but is also interactive and makes consumers want to hit play. Luckily, Website Magazine has compiled a list of five tactics that can help merchants revamp their current video strategy to get better results, check them out below:

Go Live

Brands that want to stay a step ahead of the competition should consider implementing a live video strategy. One way this can be done is with the Your BrandLive platform, which is a video communication software that uses live video and chat to create a unique customer to brand experience. In fact, brands can use the service to broadcast live video from any location and participate in real-time interactions with customers. Moreover, merchants can sell products during video sessions by uploading items into the Brandlive dashboard. By doing this, products are displayed across the bottom of the live video with titles, descriptions, images, prices and a call-to-action button for making a purchase.

That being said, merchants can also go live on Google+ with Google Hangouts. This feature can be used to video conference with up to ten people at a time, as well as live-stream a broadcast publicly onto Google+, YouTube and websites. This could come in handy when revealing a highly-anticipated product for the first time.

Start Advertising

According to comScore, U.S. consumers watched 11.3 billion online videos in December 2012, which proves that video advertising is a big business. Furthermore, video ads tend to be successful because consumers typically either have to choose to hit play in order to view the advertisement or have already decided to watch a video (meaning they are alert) when the advertisement is shown. Merchants can launch video advertisements through Google, as well as on video ad networks like BrightRollLive Rail or Adap.TV. Additionally, LinkedIn recently announced video ads on its self-serve platform, which could be a good place for B2B merchants to display their advertisements.

Promote User-Generated Reviews

Most merchants know how influential consumer reviews can be, so why not feature them in a unique way? Yes, we are talking about video reviews. In fact, there are a variety of platforms available that allow merchants to include user-generated video content on their site, includingBravoAuthntk and EXPO TV. These videos could even prove to be more valuable than written reviews, because it is easier to tell someone’s sentiment when you can watch them speak, which makes this type of user-generated content more personable, relatable and believable.

Get Social

It is important to use a multi-channel approach when implementing a video strategy. By maintaining a YouTube channel and cross-promoting that content on other social sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest, merchants have the ability to show their products to a wider audience. Moreover, merchants can use their social videos to create a variety of content outside of tutorials and demonstrations, such as entertaining spoofs or a behind the scenes look at a company.

Videos for Every Item

Just because you have updated your current video strategy to include some of the aforementioned tactics, doesn’t mean you should neglect adding or updating product videos/demonstrations on your site. After all, product videos are helpful to consumers who are on the verge of making a purchasing decision, which means having a video on every product page could potentially have a dramatic influence on conversion rates. That being said, creating videos is time consuming, which is why platforms like Treepodia can be very helpful to merchants. This is because Treepodia can be used to turn entire product catalogs into product videos. The platform does this with Image Reviving Technology, which brings still photos to life. Moreover, the videos are always kept up-to-date as the platform automatically generates new video versions to reflect changes in inventory and all videos are based on existing product images, descriptions, prices, user reviews and merchandising rules.

The Once-A-Week SEO Checklist

This article first appeared in the 1-8-13 issue of Website Magazine.

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A new year always brings about new possibilities, which are often predicated on the many resolutions we all make to improve our lives and work during the course of the year.

It’s possible that many of the hardworking webmasters and website owners have resolved to improve or amp up their search engine optimization (SEO) efforts this year to help them find more relevant consumers and increase conversions. However, many of these same Web workers will quickly find themselves faced with the same problems that plagued them in the year’s passed, most notably a lack of time in an already busy schedule.

No need to worry, though, because here’s some good news for you: It’s possible to maintain a healthy SEO campaign by (mostly) conducting a check up once a week that examines the most important elements of your website for moving up the search engine rankings, allowing you to identify and correct any issues you may be having. And the best part is, once these larger problems are corrected, it will help improve many other aspects of your overall SEO performance.

Just make sure that you regularly follow a version of this SEO checklist once a week, and get ready to watch the inevitable upward progress of your search marketing efforts.

– Use Google Webmaster Tools to check sitemaps

To start, simply sign into your Google Webmaster Tools account (actually, if you don’t have one, the first step is to register one), which can help you quickly identify any issues with your domain. Primarily, you should use this service to make sure your sitemaps don’t have any errors and to review how many of your pages have been indexed. If you find that you have some missing pages, that’s a pretty good indicator that you need to submit a brand new sitemap.xml to the search engines.

– Don’t forget to look for crawl errors, too

Google Webmaster Tools can also help you spot any crawl errors (pages “not found” or broken links) on your site; if these issues are uncovered, they should be considered top priority fixes. In addition, this tool can help you check up on your site speed, HTML problems, such as short or duplicate metadata, and links to your site.

– Look for (and fix) broken links

Having a bunch of dead links on your website is going to hurt your standing with the search engines, so you should make it a point to regularly look for them by using a tools like Dead-Links.com to crawl your website and point out any hazardous hyperlinks that you are unaware of. And once you know which links are bad, you can easily fix or get rid of them.

– Tune up title tags

If you’ve put any effort into your SEO until now, every page on your site should have its own unique, descriptive title (as indicated in the HTML <title> tags), but as we all know, the more pages one adds to his or her site, the harder it is to constantly ensure that every page is given an appropriately SEO-friendly title. If you have a somewhat small site, you should be able to check all of your pages manually pretty easily, but for larger sites, Google Webmaster Tools will gather and present this information to you in a new “Content Analysis” section that can be found under the “Diagnostics” tab.

– Revise meta descriptions (as needed)

Although meta page descriptions don’t have a huge impact on search rankings, they can play a major role in convincing users to click-through to your site, so its worth giving them a once over on a regular basis, especially if you add a lot of new pages from week-to-week. In particular, you should look to make sure you don’t have any duplicate descriptions on your site. Good descriptions should be between 150 and 160 characters and made up of compelling copy that smartly uses crucial keywords, without using quotation marks or other non-alphabet characters.

– Follow the trends

Using an analytics platform like Google Analytics, check the daily, weekly and long-term search traffic trends to see what users are responding to and what isn’t working. Find out which of your pages have increased search engine traffic and which ones have had the opposite effect, and then figure out the reasons for why this is the case. Ultimately, you should have a solid idea/starting point to look at the problems on your site that need to be addressed, as well as the opportunities you have to increase search traffic based on user data.

– Add internal links when possible

Search engines use internal links to determine which pages the website owners think are the most important on the site, so to help your rankings and show off your best stuff, look around your site for ways to include links to these power pages. This is especially easy (and important) if you are consistently adding new content.

– Seek out your best search phrases and use them a lot

Thanks to – you guessed it – Google Webmaster Tools, webmasters can now find out what search phrases are leading users to their virtual door. By going to the “Statistics” tab and look at “search queries,” you’ll see the top 20 search queries that your site is appearing in, which can help you assess the performance of your current keyword campaigns and maybe even discover a few new ones hadn’t even thought of. With this information in tow, you can use TrafficZap’s keyword density tool to receive a report about the words and phrases that appear most densely on the page of the URL that you enter; this will help you figure out just how well you’re using your keywords and phrases on your site, and make adjustments accordingly.

Digital New Years Resolutions for Web Workers – The 2013 Edition

This post originally appeared in Website Magazine’s December 31, 2012 issue.

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Resolutions are all about action – pushing ourselves to achieve ever greater results in our personal, and yes, professional lives. 

As Horace Mann once said, “I have never heard anything about the resolutions of the apostles, but a good deal about their acts.” But as a Web worker – be it in interactive design and development, or digital advertising and marketing – what actions (and acts) should you concentrate upon and on which should one’s efforts be focused?

Here are just a few digital New Year’s resolutions for Web workers, along with a few “actionable” tips, to ensure 2013 is the best year yet for your ‘Net business.

Add new dimensions to your analytics

The more you know about the performance of your website and the interactions that occur on it the greater results will be achieved. While many interactive/digital departments are content with a particular set of analytics, adding in new dimensions to analytics enables enterprises to understand how they can make better use of resources (both time and financial). For example, instead of tracking unique visitors, consider exploring how and when each unique source of traffic sends the most/best traffic. Marketers may discover that one source drives the most traffic early in the morning, or that a substantial number of users come from a particular source across the globe. Developing promotions with these insights in mind are near sure-fire ways to have a merry year indeed.

Reduce the barriers to entry

It’s not uncommon for there to be barriers to the engagement of a website visitor. There are both experiential barriers, such as poor navigation and barriers to engagement which prevent website visitors from becoming product or service buyers. For example, if there is not a clear path for a user to take (with detailed navigation and a strong call-to-action) how can they ever be expected to purchase anything or move further through the conversion funnel. And if there are barriers to converting (such as forcing registration or high shipping rates) then perhaps a campaign to test ease of entry should be implemented. Post-visit surveys are a proven way to capture information from departing visitors about their experience and why they did or didn’t engage with the site’s unique selling proposition.

Minimize the performance problems

It’s impossible to convert a user if they aren’t around long enough to convert. In several frequently cited and well-publicized studies several years ago, for each additional second of load time, the conversion rate falls by a certain percentage. In 2012, 56 percent of consumers who spend more than two hours per week shopping online have canceled an order due to an error or slow response time. With more third-party integration’s than ever before and a greater reliance on others to host and integrate features on our own sites, performance problems will inevitably arise. Minimizing the most significant performance issues is a proven way to ensure that it is even possible to put your best foot forward with design and expose visitors to the Web businesses’ core products and services with creative promotions.

Accelerate the promotions

When the website has been optimized to provide a smooth and seamless experience (one without performance problems or outrageously high barriers to entry), it’s time to accelerate promotions in the new year. Armed with more meaningful insights (see the resolution above related to adding new dimensions to analytics) Web workers will find new ways to accelerate promotions. From posting fewer, but better, updates on social profiles (or switching a social strategy entirely to accommodate a new approach; one perhaps that is more focused on customer service than marketing) to employing more integrated advertising and marketing promotions on the Web and mobile (see below), there are myriad ways to accelerate digital promotions, and have a brand – and its products or services – seen and experienced more regularly.

Push the mobile strategy

2012 has been the year of mobile, and 2013 stands to bring the same amount of attention to the channel. Whether you are currently investing in implementing a mobile Web design or deploying a shiny new mobile application, even starting additional local-mobile marketing campaigns, there are plenty of mobile best practices and tactics available for digital-centric enterprises. In fact, most leading enterprise and even mid-level Web content management systems have made available features, which makes brands increasingly compliant with consumers’ evolving digital expectations. Pushing mobile in 2013 won’t be hard, but taking those first few steps are crucial.

Maximize local investment

Unchanged for many years, most queries conducted on search engines are of a local nature and the percentage is actually far higher on mobile devices. That alone should make an investment in any and all things local (even for the largest businesses in the digital landscape) a good use of time and dollars. From expanding local advertising and expanding a local footprint on the Web, enterprises will be in front or users more likely to buy and do so at a lower cost than ever before.

Rethink Social Participation

Of all the resolutions that readers will find herein, this will likely be the most controversial. While there is an ever-expanding list of social media destinations clamoring for consumer attention and brand investment (from bookmarking to networking sites), the role that brands (both B2B and B2C) play on these networks is changing. Today and likely for the foreseeable future, brands will have to work harder or pay more to achieve the same level of awareness on these networks.

End the Laggards, Focus on Winners Alone

Resolutions aren’t just about adopting new actions to achieve success (or perfection) but also to end those practices that are preventing success. One of the savviest practices in business is to kill laggards, those products, services or feature, which don’t lend an assist to conversions or experience low usage in general. For example, say for instance that of the 10 features rolled out last year on a Web property, one receives far less usage than the others. While it’s not uncommon to keep features because someone within the enterprise has some virtual connection to it, eliminating them should they be preventing improved usage (as determined by conversion) should be the focus.

Remember, resolutions are all about action. You might be saying to yourself that these resolutions are all important but how should an enterprise actually start following these resolutions. Simple – just take the first step. Once you get started, you’ll be glad you did this time next year.

YachtWorld.com Goes Mobile

New mobile Web sites are optimized for iPhone/iTouch, Blackberry (OS4.6+) and Android devices

YachtWorld.com Mobile Site

Search results page on YachtWorld.com Mobile Site

SEATTLE – Jan. 21, 2010YachtWorld.com, the world’s leading Internet yacht brokerage portal and a division of Dominion Enterprises, today announced that it has launched new mobile Web sites for the U.S. and the U.K.  Optimized for iPhone/iTouch, Blackberry (OS4.6+) and Android devices these new Web sites are ideal for people on the move. They are streamlined versions of the full service Web sites that allow visitors to search boats for sale, view the boat details and photos, and contact the appropriate broker for more information.

YachtWorld.com is the single most powerful and effective global marketing solution for the boating industry.  With over 114,000 brokerage boats worldwide offered by over 2,400 yacht brokerage houses and 10,000 individual yacht brokers in 100 countries, YachtWorld.com receives nearly 2.5 million global visits by boating enthusiasts each month.

“At YachtWorld.com, we are constantly working to keep up with new technologies and to make sure people looking for boats have access to the appropriate information when, where and how they want it,” said Mike Dickman, director of marketing, YachtWorld.com. “In early February, we will launch additional international YachtWorld.com mobile Web sites including French, German, Italian and Spanish to further our global reach.”

About YachtWorld.comYachtWorld.com is the single most powerful and effective global marketing solution for the boating industry.  With over 114,000 brokerage boats worldwide offered by over 2,400 yacht brokerage houses and 10,000 individual yacht brokers in 100 countries, YachtWorld.com receives nearly 2.5 million global visits by boating enthusiasts each month.  YachtWorld.com provides a complete suite of online marketing services for its yacht broker members through BoatWizard and SoldBoats, their proprietary back-end tools.  Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, YachtWorld.com has European headquarters in the United Kingdom, with sales and customer service representation in France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Turkey and Estonia.  YachtWorld.com is a division of Dominion Enterprises, based in Norfolk, Virginia, USA.

About Dominion EnterprisesDominion Enterprises is a leading marketing services company serving the automotive, enthusiast and commercial vehicle, real estate, apartment rental, and employment industries.  The company’s businesses provide a comprehensive suite of technology-based marketing solutions including Internet advertising, lead generation, CRM, Web site design and hosting, and data management services.  The company has more than 45 market-leading Web sites reaching more than 16.7 million unique visitors, and more than 450 magazines with a weekly circulation of 4.3 million.  Headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia, the company has 5,400 employees in more than 200 offices nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.DominionEnterprises.com.