small business

EMAIL/CAN-SPAM

You may think email is a no-brainer when it comes to marketing your business but it’s important to adhere to the laws regulating email communication.

You may think email is a no-brainer when it comes to marketing your business but it’s important to adhere to the laws regulating email communication.

Having owned and operated my business for over 35 years, I’ve amassed a long list of tips and marketing tricks that I enjoy sharing with other business owners. In part one of our series, I introduced a fantastic resource that Google provides FOR FREE! If you haven’t already, here is why you should claim your free Google My Business Listing. In part two we discussed how to use video for small business marketing. Video is so important and if you aren’t already implementing its use I can show you some ways to get on the bandwagon!

You may think email is a no-brainer when it comes to marketing your business. There are nearly 4 billion active email users around the world, so it makes sense! However, improper use of email when reaching out to prospects can create major problems for your business. In the U.S., the CAN-SPAM Act includes a list of laws regulating commercial emails. The GDPR in the E.U. and Canada’s CASL laws may also apply to you if your business engages with international customers.

Resource # 3: Email (with consent)

Email for Small Business

Got consent?

The laws regulating email communication are intended to protect and violating them can result in tough penalties for your business.

Here is a summary of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad.The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located.Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly.Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipients opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that sends the message may be held legally responsible.

Understanding Permission

Permission is the act of getting consent from a subscriber to send them commercial email marketing messages. There are generally two types of permission: implied permission and express permission. You have implied permission to email someone if you have an existing business relationship with them.  Think of a someone who is a current customer or an active member of a community forum that you run.

If you don’t have implied permission, then you’ll need express permission to email a person. You are granted express permission when someone enters their email in a subscribe form on your website.

Companies that build permission-based email lists usually see the fruits of their labor with high open and click through rates on their campaigns.

My advice is to collect data correctly. Covered in my book in a section titled, “Warm Calling”, be clear about why you are collecting information and how you intend to use it. Use full disclosure and ask for explicit permission to send email.

How to Grow Your Email List

Here are some creative ways to grow your email list while adhering to privacy laws:

  • – Add a subscription area to your website.
  • – Offer a lead magnet: Create a compelling piece of content that requires an email address before the download is available.
  • – Add a “Sign Up” button to your business Facebook page.
  • – Warm Calling. Covered in my book, I provide real life examples of how I collect email addresses and how you can too!

Effective email marketing converts your leads into customers, and your customers into brand advocates. When building your lists, be clear about why you are collecting information and how you intend to use it. Use full disclosure and ask for explicit permission to send email.

Video for Small Business

Using video for small business marketing will help you build trust with your audience, promote your products and services, and keep your brand relevant.

Having owned and operated my business for over 35 years, I’ve amassed a long list of tips and marketing tricks that I enjoy sharing with other business owners. Last month I introduced a fantastic resource that Google provides FOR FREE! If you haven’t already, here is why you should claim your free Google My Business Listing.

Marketing can be overwhelming, expensive and time-consuming. But I’m here to help! Next up in my blog series, let’s talk about the who, what, where, when and why of using video for small business marketing.

Resource # 2: Video

Creating a video for small businses

Why is video important?

Have you heard the saying that video content is king? Digital content experts say that video content is one of the hottest marketing tools. From Snapchat to Instagram stories to long form content on YouTube, video is here to stay.

Here are some stats to really drive home that video content is king:

  •  – 100 million hours of video are watched each day on Facebook
  •  – 80% of traffic in 2020 will be video
  •  – 90% of Americans ages 25 – 34 watch online video
  •  – One-third of online activity is spent watching video

Who are you talking to?

Video is a great way to engage with multiple audiences.  Consider creating videos to announce new products or services to your current customers. Video can also be used as a lead generation tool to demo your service, like I’ve done here: Cleanlots Business Marketing video. Think you might be hiring in the near future? Prospective employees are also another audience to consider when building your video content library.

How to use video effectively.

So now you know why video is an important tool to use when marketing your small business. You also know which audiences would benefit from seeing your videos.  Now let’s discuss some best practices when it comes to creating video content.

  • – Practice makes perfect. It may take a little while, but the more you practice, the more comfortable you will become being on camera. Seth Silvers manages a Facebook Group for entrepreneurs that encourages you to get comfortable in front of the camera with his 10 Day Live Storytelling Challenge.
  • – Tell stories. Like every good story, your video should have a beginning, middle and end. Use your voice to showcase the passion you have for your business and your unique qualities.
  • – Don’t forget your CTA. At the end of each video include a call to action. If a viewer has questions, where can they reach you? If they want to see more videos that you’ve created, have you included a way to do so?
  • – Be authentic. You could spend thousands of dollars on production of your video, but if your message lacks authenticity your videos won’t resonate with viewers. Imagine you are talking to just one person. This perspective forces you to have a very clear purpose of your video and your target audience.
  • – Get creative and have fun!

Production Options.

Depending on your budget, comfort with technology and access to equipment, you may decide to produce your video content in a few different ways.

At the higher end of marketing spend is to hire a professional videographer to record and produce your content. While this can be expensive, it can also create a high-quality end product. There are video production companies that will take on low-budget projects, so do your research in your local area and don’t be afraid to share your budget when interviewing prospective video partners.

Another option is to reach out to independent producers. There are websites dedicated to finding freelance producers/videographers and you can also check Craigslist. Ask contractors that you are considering if they shoot and edit their work. What kind of editing software do they use? What type of camera do they typically use?

Maybe you’ve decided to take a DIY approach to your video content creation. Marketing videos are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity, so don’t let a small (or non-existent?) budget prevent you from producing your own content on your smart phone.

Lights. Camera. Action!

Adding video to your marketing toolbox will help you build trust with your audience, promote your products and services, and keep your brand relevant.  Once your content is produced you can use it on your website, via social media platforms and within email campaigns. Have you already started creating video content? I’d love for you to share what you’ve created for your business below in the comments.

Next up in our series we’ll chat about Email and how to use it to effectively market your business.

Why You Should Claim Your FREE Google My Business Listing

One of the aspects I love about being a small business owner is connecting and mentoring others who are building their own business. Having owned and operated my business for over 35 years, I’ve amassed a long list of tips and marketing tricks that I am more than happy to pass along. Let’s be honest, after initial startup fees, marketing usually becomes your largest monthly expense. It’s a necessary evil – if you don’t market, people don’t know you exist. If you spend too much in the wrong place you won’t reach your target audience. Marketing can be overwhelming, expensive and time-consuming. But I’m here to help!

Why You Should Claim Your FREE Google My Business Listing

Find the freebies

What should a small business do when they are starting out or are focused on keeping to a strict budget? My recommendation? Find the freebies first. Now when I say you should start with free; I don’t mean asking your cousin’s sister’s friend who owns a print shop hook you up with some free postcards. (By the way, there is nothing wrong with snail mail as I have found it effective in some instances of my own business.) What I mean by starting with free is that there are legitimate, zero-cost resources available to small businesses- you just have to know where to find them. No favors to repay to your cousin’s sister’s friend. No expenses that will put you into debt.

In this blog series I’d like to tell you about the marketing resources that I’ve found most effective for my own business. This first one may surprise you. (And it’s absolutely FREE!)

Resource # 1: Google

I’m not recommending you go out to Google and search for “Free resources for small businesses”. Actually, that’s always a good idea, but I digress. You’ve heard of Google AdWords and may even have considered throwing a couple hundred dollars a month at it to see if it improves your site traffic. You probably used Google Maps to navigate or like me, use it to locate a new client job site. Likely you have all of your appointments scheduled and organized in Google Calendar. But have you heard of Google My Business? In my opinion, Google My Business is one of the most under the radar tools coming from one of the biggest names in the digital space. It’s shocking to me that so many businesses have websites, but so few have claimed their free Google My Business listing.

Let me help you with these common questions:

  1. What is Google My Business?
  2. What types of businesses should use Google My Business?
  3. Is it beneficial to use Google My Business?
  4. Is it easy to claim your free listing?
  5. What happens if I don’t claim my listing?

What is Google My Business?

This tool was initially launched in June 2014. It was designed as a way to give business owners more control of what shows in the search results when someone searches a given business name. What we’re seeing now is that Google is really pushing for the first page of search results to be a business’s new website. Instead of clicking through to an actual website, Google is making it easier for searchers to compile all their research (location, directions, phone number, email, product and service information, reviews, etc.) about a company without ever leaving the search result page.

“Wait! Google doesn’t want to send folks to my website?”

What we’re seeing here is just a reflection of consumer online behavior. Think about how you interact with google when searching. If Google shows you all of the information you need to make a purchase decision, why click any further?  Now put yourself back in your business’s shoes. If your local competitors all have a plethora of information on their Google Listing and you don’t, which business do you think they are going to be more attracted to?

What types of businesses should use Google My Business?

Are you an internet-based business? There is no reason why you shouldn’t claim your free listing. However, this tool is especially helpful for local businesses, those which rely on attracting local customer into their location. Brick and mortar stores, franchises with multiple locations (GMB allows you to add multiple locations that you serve), and service-based businesses benefit the most from this tool. Google reports that every month there are 5 billion searches for restaurants, 3 billion searches for hotels, and 600 million searches for hair and beauty salons.

Benefits of using Google My Business

I can’t downplay this first benefit. It is FREE! GMB also increases your visibility while giving you control over the content that appears when someone searches your business name. Because Google My Business listings appear both in Google Search and Google Maps, businesses can market their brands, products, or services to users on all devices that use these tools. With a complete and up-to-date Google My Business page, businesses can help potential customers find them and encourage them to buy their products or services.

I’m ready to claim my free listing! How do I do it?

Your free Google My Business listing can be set up in minutes. Visit this link and follow the online instructions. If you prefer a more personal interaction, you can even call Google and they will help you set it up for free over the phone: (1-844-491-9665).

Squatters

It can be alarming to find out that someone else has already claimed your business listing. Before you panic, reach out to anyone who’s had a hand in helping you market your business because it could be that they’ve already taken this step on your behalf. If this isn’t the case, Google provides instructions on how to submit a transfer of ownership request.

I hope I’ve made a compelling case for claiming your free Google My Business listing and that you’ll take advantage of this resource – today! After you’ve claimed your own listing, search for some of your friends’, colleagues or vendors’ businesses. If they haven’t yet claimed their listing I hope you will call them to let them in on this quick, easy, and free tool that will optimize your marketing efforts.

Teaser Alert! In the next part of our series, we are going to talk about video, the how and why a small business can utilize it to help market your business and (gasp!) link to it in your Google My Business listing!