Small business owners find this blog to be a great resource for sales and marketing strategies.

Email Marketing and Analytics for Ecommerce Websites

Published by Charles Brodeur

Email marketing has evolved dramatically over the past five years. Sophisticated marketing & analytics tools that were only available to enterprise clients are now available to SMBs. Ecommerce marketers now have the ability to send emails based on customer segments, transaction history, group memberships, and online behavior. However, it is a process of evolution to build your email marketing into a fully functioning Marketing Automation system. Read More

Three Steps to eCommerce Success

Published by Charles Brodeur

Starting an eCommerce business is becoming easier by the day. More business owners are looking to expand their online efforts to include eCommerce and build a true online business. Unfortunately, this presents a large set of challenges, not least of which is the threat of larger, better funded competitors online.

Thankfully, the key to successful eCommerce isn’t complicated. By planning ahead and considering your goals and your audience you will greatly increase your chances of success. Here’s three simple ways to make your online shop stand out from the crowd.

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Cloud Computing at its Best

Published by Charles Brodeur

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BigTurns Platform is More than a CMS (Content Management System)

Published by Charles Brodeur

BigTurns is an online business platform.  What’s an “online businesss” platform?  If you’ve not come across this concept before you probably talk about a CMS (content management system).  BigTurns platform at its most basic level is a CMS system, but it’s so much more…

What BigTurns does is take all the elements that a traditional online business needs to be successful and merge them into one holistic solution.  The elements that I’m talking about are CMS, e-commerce, email marketing, CRM, analytics and reporting. 

Typically a business will run all these systems separately in different environments.  By doing it all in one place will save you money, but having these fully integrated can make marketing so much more targeted and accountable.  Calculating ROI on email campaigns and affiliate schemes is so much easier and can done “out of the box”. 

The system also helps to build accurate profiles of your customers because every interaction they have with your website, whether it be completing a form or buying a product is recorded against their CRM record as can every email you have with them.  This means any member of staff can pick up that customer and at a glance can see exactly their history with the company.

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Relevant Content In Email Marketing

Published by Charles Brodeur

Relevance is the right content sent to the right audience, which results in high response rates, delivery rates and reader engagement. Advances in email list management software and customers’ increasing willingness to provide specific information about their preferences mean that email marketers can now use sophisticated segmentation in email campaigns to tailor messaging to be more relevant than ever.



Now, marketers can provide different messages to many different segments of their database, using all sorts of factors that affect buying behavior. This procedure, called segmenting, allows you to create a series of highly-focused mailing lists without having to re-enter the data every time or require subscribers to sign up for many different mailing lists in order to get the email they really want. Read More

Create Subject Lines for Results

Published by Charles Brodeur

Fifty characters could be all that stands between you and the success of your next email campaign. Why? Because 50 characters is all the space you have in a typical subject line – to catch the attention of your reader, entice them to open your email and take action. With so much at stake, marketers need a quick and proven reference tool for developing subject lines that get the desired
result: opened emails.

Let these rules be your guide.

Rule 1: Read the Newspaper

If you want to develop subject lines that result in higher open rates, pick up your local paper. Headlines usually highlight a story’s most important point with brevity, while taking the audience into consideration. Use that approach to make your subject lines short and intriguing enough to compel your subscribers toread your emails.

Subject lines should clearly state what your readers can expect from your email, what’s in it for them and what you want them to do as a result of the email. And your subject line must stand out from others in your customers’ crowded inbox in the most relevant way. Emulating the headlines from newspapers can be a good starting point in the development of subject lines.

Rule 2: Focus on the Objective

What is the objective, or end goal, of your email marketing program? In most cases your end goal is not necessarily high open rates, but rather to have subscribers take a specific and measurable
action. Determine what that one action is, and make sure your subject line will achieve your objective. For instance, if your goal is for recipients to purchase from your online store, don’t use a subject line that is informational in nature. Instead, use a clear call-to-action that emphasizes their opportunity to make a “must have” purchase.

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Ten Point Email Marketing Review

Published by Charles Brodeur

Hopefully this guide provided information, tools and ideas for your email campaigns that you can implement right away. But even with a new focus on strategy, list building, content creation and analysis, there are still tactical things that should be periodically checked to ensure email programs are working. See how well your email program performs against these essential diagnostics:

Test your opt-in process

Take a minute to walk yourself through your opt-in process, especially if it has been a year or more since you designed or tweaked it. Your first questions: Do all the links work? Do they send you to the pages you expect, such as a registration or confirmation page? Next, how many clicks does it take to complete the opt-in, including clicking a confirmation link in a follow-up email? Usability rules say the fewer clicks required, the more likely the user will complete the process. Two clicks is ideal, three is reasonable and four or more means you're more likely to see users abandon the optin. Be sure and do this for all working opt-in points including your main opt-in page and all landing pages that are active on your site.

Who's monitoring your incoming mailboxes.

It makes sense to automate your email marketing or newsletter program as much as you can, to reduce the need to supervise opt-ins, opt-outs, registration changes, targeting and segmentation, etc. However, remember that there's a human being behind every email address on your list, and they’re capable of just about anything. That includes not following directions for opting in, opting out,  sending feedback or otherwise contacting you. That's why you need to designate someone, either in your department or in your company's IT department, to monitor all email mailboxes associated  with your outgoing messages to watch for misdirected opt-outs, complaints and comments. Most especially this includes the email address you use to send your messages. No matter how many times you tell people not to reply to messages or how easy your feedback or unsubscribe process is, subscribers are going to hit «reply» anyway. Someone must monitor that mailbox to catch and route personal replies. If you haven’t designated someone, now is the time to do so. If you have, check in often and find out what type of traffic and feedback is coming in.

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Five goals for your Website

Published by Charles Brodeur

I was recently asked to give some advice to a friend who wanted to have a web designer design her website. My friend runs a salon and she was one of those people who knew that she needed a website but didn't know about the business...

She had no idea what Web Designers charge, she didn't know how her website would work for her, she hadn't thought about what content she was going to put there, she just knew it was 2010 and every small business needs a website. Well, it was time to teach her a couple of things as a favour and help her with her strategy for her website.

I went through 5 strategies with her when I explained the opportunities with a website:

Goal 1: Selling Online

The most well known goal for eCommerce Businesses where you're looking for an extra channel to sell your products and services.

Strategy: To reach sales targets and reduce shopping cart abandons, you'll need to focus on an all-in-one eCommerce site complete with catalogs, products, shopping cart, shipping and a payment gateway and that provides an interesting and seamless shopping experience. Don't forget to add extras like upselling, recommended products, product galleries and plenty of credible product information to help meet your sales and orders targets.

But what happens when you can't sell online because what you sell is a physical service or you're not running a for-profit business? There's 4 other goals you can set for your Online Business to get return on investment...

Goal 2: Build Your Community

This goal applies particularly well to non-profit organizations like Churches, local Neighborhood organizations, Community organizations, Charities etc - they need to have online conversations/discussions with their current members and attract new ones.

Strategy: To build an online community, you'd need to nurture a social site with a discussion forum and post regular news on a blog to keep visitors coming back. Make a space for photo-uploads to show what's going on in your community, post podcasts of speeches or presentations for your visitors to download in a members-only area. Make sure members know about your site and that they contribute as well!

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A Solid eCommerce Strategy is the Key to Success

Published by Charles Brodeur

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is a constant battle online. I call it "Shiny Object Syndrome". It is so easy to lose focus these days and bounce from one great idea to the next before we have fully executed on the first great idea.

That's why we need a plan that follows a the path to success. 

Decades ago, business owners had it easy - they weren't dealing with the rapid and volatile change we deal with today.There was a strategic, focused way of managing a businesses that you may remember - the 4 P's.

The 4 P's, aka the "Marketing Mix", is a combination of four marketing ingredients that you must constantly balance and control when running your business.

The 4 P's are still relevant today, and we have a bit of an update to applying them to the eCommerce Business:

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Setting up the eCommerce Platform

Published by Charles Brodeur

About 4 years ago, we were looking into starting a new business, online. As an accomplished businessman we started thinking about what we were going to need to be successful. A website was the obvious starting point. It had to be easy enough to add and change content - because websites live or die on the basis of fresh, useful content.

Next - we needed a way to manage leads and customers. You need to be able to react quickly to new leads and follow up on old ones. Then, marketing. Email marketing to be precise. A permission based list of people who are receptive to hear your message is priceless. And don't forget - online shopping. Selling online is the most important function we needed to do.  We wanted to process orders 24 hours a day.

That's a basic list. There's more, like community forums, affiliate programs, blogs and so forth. But let's keep it simple, ok?

So, checklist in hand (we are pretty organized kinda guys) we went looking for something to do all this and we found Content Management Systems, and Customer Relationship Management systems, and Shopping carts, and Email Marketing Solutions, and Site Analytics. So we signed up to all these services and downloaded what we needed to download.

OK great, we thought, let's get started!....Or not.

We got frustrated. Because running any business is a little like racing a car. You've got to push hard, stay ahead of the pack and be smart about how you race. But our  problem wasn't that we couldn't race. We were wasting our time trying to build the nice, fast car.

The other problem was we found ourselves spending a lot of time trying to keep all his separate systems in sync. And more than once we forgot one of the five or six log in details we were supposed to remember.

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