Email marketing illustration

4 Steps to Launch Your Company’s New Email Marketing Program

Part 1 of the “Do-it-Right Email Marketing” series.

email marketing program

Do you have customers who might benefit from hearing from you more often? Inactive customers you’d love to try to re-engage? Prospects who ignore your phone calls? If so, it’s probably time to launch a new email marketing program.

According to the Email Statistics Report from The Radicati Group, there were 269 billion emails sent per day in 2017. By 2021, this figure is expected to rise to almost 320 billion. As much as we love shiny new communication channels like What’s App and Twitter, clearly, email is still an integral part of our lives and isn’t going away. This is even more true in the business world.

A well-developed email program can do wonders for a business. It can enable you to:

  • Increase awareness of your products, services and solutions
  • Share ideas, stories and information your audience can’t get elsewhere
  • Promote upcoming events
  • Keep in touch with buyers and potential buyers
  • Entice prospects to set up a meeting
  • Generate new business

To ensure your email marketing program gets off to a solid start, follow these four guidelines.

1. Get your lists together

It doesn’t matter how compelling your content is or if your template design is jaw-dropping: if you aren’t reaching the right people, all of your behind-the-scenes efforts will be for naught.

Your primary audience should be your customers, inactive customers and prospects. If you can break up these groups further, that’s ideal. Can you split your customer list into regular purchasers vs. those who haven’t purchased in 12 months? By dollar amount? Region? Segmenting your list will allow you to tailor your email campaigns.

Chances are you have access to association and networking group lists. Don’t automatically add those contacts to your database or you will be in violation of spam legislation (CASL in Canada or the CAN-SPAM Act in the United States). First seek the permission of your colleagues, explaining that your emails will be educational and informational. If you don’t, you may end up with a ton of spam reports, opt-outs and potentially even fines.

It is a good idea to have vendors and employees subscribe to your lists, too. The former may gain insights about your organization that ultimately benefit you, while the latter will likely demonstrate more interest in your email marketing efforts if you include them in the process. Here are other ideas for growing your email database.

2. Choose your “email service provider” carefully

The next step is choosing the platform you will use to send your email campaigns – your email service provider.

There are many affordable providers that cater to do-it-yourselfers (such as Constant Contact, MailChimp and Emma) by offering pre-designed, customizable templates or the option of uploading HTML code for a custom design. Be sure to compare platforms and carefully consider factors like features, support and deliverability.

3. Plan helpful content for your audience

One of the biggest challenges for many small businesses is what to say to their audience. It’s natural to want to focus on what your organization offers, and heavily promote your products or services. Unless you’re a behemoth and much-loved brand, however, that’s the last thing your audience wants to read.

To capture – and keep – the interest of your customers and prospects, dedicate your messaging to their interests and needs. Your content should include anecdotes, how-to documentation, case studies, resources, industry news, trends, new product information, and only if appropriate, special offers.

No more than 20 per cent of your material should be promotional or you’ll turn off buyers.

4. Design for email, not for print

Email is a different animal than print. If you’ve ever received an email with fuzzy images or text that was difficult to read, it means the designer didn’t understand the difference.

A typical email template is 600 pixels wide, while an 8.5 x 11” piece of paper is 2,550 pixels wide. That means you can’t take a layout created for print, then drop a picture of it into an email template and expect it to look stellar. Either recreate it at 600 pixels wide or create a complimentary design comprised of smaller images, body text, headings, subheads and multiple links.

Equally important, your email campaigns need to look good on both desktop and mobile devices. Even if you sell strictly to businesses, it’s likely that 25 to 35 per cent of your audience will view your emails on a smartphone or tablet. If your campaigns aren’t easy to view, you will unintentionally encourage your contacts to delete your emails or unsubscribe.

 

Cathy Cain-Blank is President of CC Marketing and Communications, specializing in developing and deploying effective email marketing campaigns for businesses across North America.

 

‘One size does not fit all’: How one alternative financing firm went beyond factoring

Toronto-based Liquid Capital Advance Corp. evolved into much more than a recourse factoring shop

Nearly six years back, Jonathan Brindley, founder of Toronto-based Liquid Capital Advance Corp., set out to develop a factoring company.

The goal was to create an entity that would provide small- and medium-sized businesses with the financial resources they needed to tide them over before their receivables were paid. “It’s an attractive business because factoring suits so many companies,” said Brindley, a chartered accountant turned entrepreneur, at the time.

In return for a small fee (in the two per cent to four per cent range), Liquid Capital would advance 75 per cent to 85 per cent of the face value of the receivable with the balance retained until the invoice was paid. Once the funds have been repaid they can be redeployed again. Ideally the goal is to recycle the funds every 30 to 90 days.

But Brindley’s business evolved into much more than a recourse factoring shop. It now defines itself as “a full-service working capital and trade finance company,” that also provides “asset-based lending, purchase order financing, inventory financing and equipment leasing.”

Click here to read the rest of the story published in the Financial Post.

Diagram - recent fundings

Recent Fundings – April 2018

Notebooks and group of business people shaking hands

Improve Your Financial Skills (With Free Premium Online Courses)

Improve financial skills

All business owners are finance experts, right? For some, yes. But for many, this is a lifelong learning experience. There is always more to learn, and everyone can agree that it’s a necessity to constantly improve your financial skills. After all, your competition is going to be doing just that.

However, you might also be laser-focused on other priorities, and financial education has been pushed lower on your list. How can you spend less time (and money) to improve your financial skills?

No problem.

Improve your financial skills by taking advantage of these five online resources and accreditations. Once you top up your skills, you should also show them off and update your LinkedIn profile and resume. And the best part…these courses are all inexpensive or free.

1. LinkedIn Learning – Finance & Accounting

LinkedIn Learning

LinkedIn recently purchased famous training site Lynda.com to beef up their LinkedIn Learning platform. Their “Finance and Accounting” section includes courses in corporate finance, small business finance and accounting, all designed for you to start with the basics and work your way up to more advanced topics. Learn about financial analysis, bootstrapping businesses, income tax planning, personal finance tips, managerial accounting and creating KPIs.

Cost:

  • One month free trial, then $20 – 30 per month to access 1000+ business courses.
  • Annual subscriptions available.
  • Bonus: If you’ve subscribed to LinkedIn’s Premium membership, you already get LinkedIn Learning access for free.

Benefits:

  • Stay on top of current trends in finance and a variety of other fields
  • Learn outside the box: Brush up on marketing, sales and operations.
  • Be more efficient in your job, whether that’s interviewing employees, building spreadsheets or persuasive selling.

Format:

Video content makes up the majority of this site.

Time commitment:

  • Courses range from 5 minutes to 20 hours.
  • Take it at your own pace: Start a course and LinkedIn Learning will hold your place until your next login.

2. MOOCs – University Level Finance

MOOCs

Yes, it’s a weird name, but it’s also incredibly valuable.

MOOCs are Massive Open Online Courses, and include university courses from reputable institutions that have been posted online, complete with lecture notes and quizzes. Outside of attending university in person, this is an incredible resource for learning.

Check out this list of finance courses from institutions like the Yale, Stanford, MIT and Caltech.

Cost:

Many courses are completely free, with a paid option for verified certification.

Benefits:

  • Get a university level education for free.
  • Stay ahead of the curve, and the new competition that will be hitting the job market.
  • Access educational resources in other cities and countries.

Format:

Downloadable course materials, streaming video, audio clips and resource pages.

Time commitment:

  • Aim for around 6 hours per week and 8 weeks on average per course.
  • Each course displays the number of weeks and hours per week needed to complete.

3. Hootsuite Academy – Social Selling & Networking

Hootsuite Academy

As a business pro, you’re likely already a great networker, but it never hurts to brush up on your social networking skills.

The Hootsuite Academy offers a variety of beginner and intermediate social media courses to get you up to speed and in the groove when it comes to online networking. Learn how to optimize your social media profile, grow your followers, publish the right content and use advertising to connect with new customers.

As an added level of education, you can enrol in the Hootsuite Social Selling and Certification to obtain your status as a “Certified Professional” in social selling. “Hootsuite’s course on Social Selling teaches Sales Professionals to leverage social media to save time, drive a larger number of better-qualified leads, and increase deal sizes.”

Cost:

  • Hootsuite platform and social marketing training are free.
  • The social selling course costs $299.

Benefits:

  • Improve your social networking skills.
  • Proactively find new clients with the right conversations.
  • Be discovered more easily by prospects.

Format:

Short videos, articles and interactive quizzes.

Time commitment: 

4 – 8 hours per course.

4. Google Analytics Academy – Digital Analytics

Google Analytics Academy

If you have a website or blog and want to learn more about who visits your site, why they visited and what they did on your site, then you need to know Google Analytics.

The simplest way to learn is through the Google Analytics Academy that offers training in every aspect of the platform. With four official courses to choose from, you can learn about the digital analytics fundamentals, the Google Analytics platform itself, e-commerce data decision-making and how to use Google Tags properly.

Google is about to launch revisions to their programs, offering even more incentive to get cutting-edge training. In the past, you could also obtain certifications for completion of your training, so keep an eye out for that to return.

Cost:

Free

Benefits:

  • Get advice and lessons directly from Google’s experts.
  • Improve your online discoverability.
  • Understand who your customers are and why they are (or aren’t) finding you online.

Format:

Videos, transcripts, quizzes and blog posts.

Time commitment:

Set aside 6-10 hours to properly complete each course.

5. Alison – Financial & Economic Literacy

Alison Finance

Alison offers a similar formula training to LinkedIn Learning, but all of their courses are offered free of charge. On the downside, you’ll have to watch brief ads before each course module, but they aren’t that obtrusive.

In return, you get access to a wide selection of course – in particular, check out the “Finance” section. The strength of these courses lies in their plain English approach so you can understand and retain the knowledge. They also offer study groups for those who like to learn alongside others.

To cap it off, they also offer certifications and Alison diploma courses.

Cost:

Free

Benefits:

  • Real-world terminology.
  • Join or create a group of like-minded learners to study together.
  • Community hub provides extra motivation & success stories from Alison students.

Format:

Videos, slides, animations, interactive quizzes and assessments.

Time commitment:

Courses can range from 1 – 10 hours.

 

Daily learning can be a challenge, faced with time constraints, high costs of continued education and difficulty finding great courses or expert trainers. By starting one of the above online courses, you will hopefully find the motivation and material to improve your financial skills without cutting too far into your schedule or budget.

 

Breakfast with the Boss Interview

I had the opportunity to be a guest on RVN TV’s program Breakfast with the Boss! with Scott Tanker. The interview allowed me to talk about my background before starting my Liquid Capital business, and how I help B2B companies that can’t get funding from banks. I discussed how they can leverage their accounts receivable to get working capital and the range of options we offer. Click here watch it.