by Bill Rambo | May 17, 2020 | Consumer Trends, eCommerce, Email Campaigns, General, Local News, Website Maintenance
The coronavirus pandemic is a troubling time for local small businesses. Use your website to keep your operation running smoothly.
While the spring and summer of 2020 haven’t gone the way any of us in the business community might have planned, many businesses large and small are finding ways to adapt to an economy that seems to change daily. Practicing social distancing can be difficult while also trying to keep a business running. Use the tools you have available to make things easy and safe for your staff and customers.
Update crucial information on your website
Have your hours or availability changed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19? Have you closed your lobby or started offering curbside pickup? Be sure to update your website to reflect these changes. Update this information on your Contact Us and About Us pages. Add banners and other notes on your front page to be an eye-catching way to present the new information.
Remember that your customers aren’t just looking for this information directly on your website! Update this information on your Facebook, Instagram, and other social media. If you manage your Google Business listing update your hours and availability there. If you don’t mange your Google Business listing, now is the perfect time to get started on learning how to use this important tool.
Keep your customers informed with a pop-up
Pop-ups don’t have to be the same annoyance they were in the 1990’s and 2000’s. A well-designed and unobtrusive pop-up can be an easy way to communicate important information about COVID-19 policy changes to your customers. Plugins make it simple to make a pop-up box that blends in well with your website and won’t be in the way.
A well-placed pop-up combined with updated information throughout the site will make sure that anyone checking your site will know if you’re offering additional services during this complicated time.
Local businesses are offering curbside pickup to serve customers with less close contact.
Revitalize your business model with online ordering
During the pandemic many restaurants and businesses have switched to pickup and curbside service. You can streamline this process for your small business by setting up online ordering on your website. You can use forms to do anything from requesting pickup for an item, filling out an entire restaurant order, or even collecting payment online. Adapt your model to an online system to keep your employees and customers safe while keeping your doors open.
Use your mailing list to send updates
Have you been building a database of loyal customers in a mass emailer? Now is the perfect time to send messages to your users to let them know about changes in your hours and business practices. Restaurants offering specials and modified menus can use these email lists to get the word out. Combine mass emails with website changes and social media updates for an effective strategy.
Coming together as a community
If there’s any silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic for a business owner, it’s that many are turning to local businesses for support and normalcy during this time of uncertainty. A business that learns to adapt will emerge stronger and with a better grasp of how to use their website.
Contact ITD Interactive today if you want more information on how to update your website to keep your customers informed. Now is a great time to set up an online ordering system!
by Marcus Ledbetter | Apr 30, 2015 | Email Campaigns, General, Hubspot, Inbound Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Web Marketing
Unless you are new to the world of Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation – you have no doubt heard of Hubspot. You might have even seen a demo or viewed a webinar. Speaking from personal experience as former Certified Partners, Hubspot is the cream of the crop. They offer an incredible array of features and insight into your visitors. There’s just one problem – not everyone can afford the price tag! The entry level packages start at $200/month, but in order to get the most popular features, you are looking at $800-$1000/mo for a minimum number of contacts. One of the main reasons Hubspot is so expensive is that they cover so many things on their platform. Email, Contact Lists, Lead scoring, Content Management, Social Publishing, SEO Analysis, etc.
So What are some Hubspot Alternatives?
One thing we found when we used Hubspot was that being a WordPress user, we weren’t taking advantage of a lot of Hubspots features – but we were sure paying for them!. So, as much as we loved Hubspot, we decided to take the time to find alternatives that would cost much less, while offering the same results. We get a lot of questions about hubspot alternatives and decided to write this post to cover some of our favorites. We hope you will find them useful as well!
Hatchbuck – Marketing Automation
Hatchbuck, which starts at $99/mo, is the most full-featured of the products we chose to facilitate our marketing automation. Hatchbuck’s standard features include: contact management, lead scoring, form generation & conversion tracking, CRM, email creation. and mass-email service. In a nutshell – Hatchbuck serves as the core of our marketing automation system. It handles our marketing emails, automated drip email campaigns, and more. Hatchbuck keeps track of each visitors activities on our site and wraps it all up in an easy to use contact management interface. All in all – we couldn’t be happier with Hatchbuck.
WordPress – Content Management
One big criticism many have of Hubspot is their content management system. It isn’t that their CMS is bad, to the contrary, it is a very robust CMS. The bigger issue is that there are so many great CMSs out there – why would you want to reinvent the wheel? There is also the risk of something happening to Hubspot, and your site data is locked in a proprietary CMS that you do not host. We have long been fans of WordPress for its ease of use and for the fact we can make a WordPress site look any way we wish. It is a great platform for Content Marketing and is very SEO friendly. Best of all – WordPress is absolutely free! Wordpress is by far the most popular CMS out there (in terms of installations, not personal opinion here). It is also completely open-source and non-proprietary, meaning you can take your site anywhere.
Gravity Forms – Lead Generation
First of all, Hatchbuck lets you build forms and embed them in WordPress. However, there are times we would rather control that process entirely on the website. Gravity Forms makes it quite easy to set up a landing page form with downloadable content hidden behind a form. Gravity forms is inexpensive ($39 for a single site license), and allows the user to create practically any type of form imaginable. With their free addons, there is virtually no limit to what you can build. Order forms, surveys, quizes, and of course – general contact forms. One of the best things about Gravity Forms is the flexible confirmation and notification options. You can develop custom notifications based on conditional logic. For instance – you might have the user choose “general contact” or “technical support” when they fill out the form, and you could display a custom notification based on the choices they make. These notifications can be used to deliver whitepapers, ebooks, etc.
Lead In – Lead Intelligence
Lead-in is a plugin for WordPress that was actually developed by Hubspot. The idea was simple – to bring Hubspot-level visitor intelligence to WordPress, and NOT charge for it. Lead In is a free plugin that offers a lot of additional functionality through “Power-Ups”. Power-Ups include specialty stats, connectors for popular email services, pop-up forms and more. Out of the box, Lead In pulls in a good bit of detail about a visitor, once they have filled out a form. It tracks return visits, gives you detailed drill-down paths so you can study their behavior, and much more. Lead In can often get the users company name and information, size and even social profiles, making it easy to get some background information on a lead before you reach out to them.
Mailchimp – Email Marketing
Personally, we route all of our email through Hatchbuck. However, we have a lot of clients that don’t need that level of marketing automation such as drip campaigns, etc. For those situations, it is hard to beat Mailchimp. For the record, you can actually set up drip campaigns in Mailchimp – however, if you plan on doing that a lot, you need to look at a system designed for that sort of activity. At its core, Mailchimp provides a fantastic interface for creating and designing emails, managing your contact lists, and sending out mass marketing emails. Mailchimp is free as long as your contact list stays under 2000 members (and you don’t mind the little monkey at the bottom of your emails). When it becomes time to pay for your account, it starts out at $20-$30 per month. Very reasonable!
A Final Thought…
This is certainly not an exhausting list of Hubspot Alternatives – if you are truly interested in apples-to-apples competitors of Hubspot, there are a few out there. Google “marketing automation” and you will find a slew of products that fill this space. Be warned though, many are equally expensive and some are even more! If you have that kind of budget, you can’t go wrong with Hubspot. For start-ups and small businesses, however, part of being a nimble and adaptive business is diversifying your tool-set. Don’t put all your eggs (data) in one basket. With the tools we mentioned above, you can put together a customized marketing automation suite that does just what you need.
Need Help with Marketing Automation, Inbound Marketing or SEO?
ITD Interactive is a full-service digital marketing agency. From website and eCommerce development to full-scale inbound marketing and SEO services, we help businesses, large and small, increase their exposure online and generate more leads. We have services available for all sizes of businesses and budgets. Click on the link below to find out more!
by Marcus Ledbetter | Mar 20, 2015 | Blogging Ideas, Email Campaigns, Facebook, Inbound Marketing, Marketing Managers
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Dominos Edible Box – April Fools Day 2014
Many companies struggle with how to make their somewhat boring business get passed around social media. Let’s face it, tax preparers are not usually Facebook sensations.
But April 1st is one day that they can be.
Let’s look at some April Fools marketing ideas for your business. We’ll talk about a few general guidelines and then 10 specific examples and ideas to make your April Fools Day hoax a hit. If the list below isn’t enough for you, check out Hoaxes.org. (Yes, there is an entire database of April Fools Day hoaxes.)
- Hit Your Market – If you are a local company, consider anchoring your hoax to a local landmark or recent news item.
- Tie In Your Product Or Service – Name recognition in your market is good and that may be all you get from your hoax, but for added marketing value, tie in your product or service.
- Get The Right People Involved – If you have an office prankster, enlist that person to generate ideas and get a couple of marketing-minded folks to refine it and make sure everyone agrees that it’s going to be a hit.
10 Ideas For Your Company’s April Fool’s Day Hoax
- Un-innovation – Take your industry back a decade or two. Un-innovation can be quite amusing. Check out Conan Obrien on the Future of Twitter.
- Give People What They Hate – Design-minded folk love to make fun of the Comic Sans font. Google took that font and ran with it, introducing the “Comic Sans for Everyone” extension in 2011.
- Advertise A Ridiculous Job Opening – If you are clever, you can find a way to tie the job opening to a product feature you want to show off. Check out how Google offered to hire “autocompleters”, again in 2011.
- Reinforce Your Company Stereotype – The Virgin group’s high-profile founder Sir Richard Branson is known for making media splashes with crazy stunts. It was almost believable when the company announced that he had bought Pluto and reinstated it as a planet. Of course, this also played into Virgin Galactic’s marketing as they continued to commercialize space travel.
- Talk Politics – You’ve probably heard that it’s good to steer clear of politics as a company. April 1st could be an exception. BMW didn’t align themselves with a party, but did give their customers a chance to do so with a customized tag in 2010.
- 1-Up A Competitor’s Hoax – Hotels.com offered rooms on the moon in 2009. Competitor Expedia.com bettered their competitor by offering rooms on Mars.
- Photoshop Phun. OK, this illustration is not business-related, but you can use your imagination to apply it to your business. The picture below is my family Christmas picture from last year. These things can get passed around social media quite a lot. How about your company president in a dangerous situation, your product morphed into something disgusting, your building with a giant spider crawling up the wall.
- Bring Back A Villain – We wouldn’t advise going too villainous, but a somewhat more harmless villain might work. NPR announced that Richard Nixon would be entering the presidential race of 1992.
- Serve The Lefties – Burger King claimed they were making adjustments to the Whopper to make it more left-hand friendly. If you are a dentist, why not advertise that you are getting new state-of-the-art dentist chairs for left-handed patients? Here’s a whole list of fake left-handed products.
- Go Big And Small – Take your product or service and make it ridiculously big or small. Starbucks claimed they were making both tiny and monstrous cup sizes in this April Fools Day prank. Insurance Company? Offer to insure car keys.
Once you come up with the perfect idea, you need to put a plan in place for how to spread the word. It could be a social media post, email campaign, blog post, or full blown paid media advertisement.
If you pull off a great April Fool’s Day Hoax, let us know how it went in the comments.
Oh, and stop back by on April 1. There’s a good chance something will be a little off here at ITD Interactive.
by Marcus Ledbetter | Aug 14, 2014 | Email Campaigns, Social Media Marketing
If you want to use the interwebs to build your business, you have some decisions to make. What do you want your potential customers to do when they get to your website?
You want them to either buy now or come back later.
Let’s talk about the come back later option. You have a couple of choices–get them to like you on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. or join your email list.
Everybody knows social media marketing is hot. It’s where the cool kids hang out, right? Not so fast.
The Importance Of Email Marketing: Reading The Signs
So you’re a small business and you don’t have the discretionary resources to do your own testing to find out whether building social media fans or building your email list is the best use of your time and money.
The beauty of the interwebs, of course, is that you can watch how the businesses who do have the resources to do that kind of testing go about it. And if they all happen to be doing the same thing, you can bet your marketing dollars that one thing is working a lot better than the other.
I took the unscientific approach of checking a bunch of major retail sites to see what they are up to, and I was so surprised at the uniformity of results, I am convinced there must be $cience behind it, which makes me think my unscientific methods are, therefore, scientific. 🙂
I’m leaning on the market to tell me what’s working and the market is screaming one thing over and over again: email marketing is beating social media like nobody’s bu$ine$$.
12 Big Brands Using Popups To Snag Email Addresses
I captured screen shots from the home pages of a bunch of retail stores for your perusal below. What you’ll see is that companies are offering big incentives through pop-ups to get an email address and market to the inbox. Not once did I see a large call-to-action to get the visitor to follow a social media account.
by Marcus Ledbetter | May 21, 2013 | Author Rank, Consumer Trends, Email Campaigns, Facebook, Google, Hubspot, Inbound Marketing, Marketing Managers, Marketing ROI, Search Engine Optimization, SEO, SEO for Small Business, Social Media Marketing, Social Networking, Web Marketing
In this post, we’ll explore 15 surprising digital marketing trends that you need to know. The charts below are pulled from Google Trends and show search interest over the last decade.
This is the phrase that is changing the way marketing is done. You’ll see a VERY close resemblance to the graph below for “HubSpot”, the all-in-one Inbound Marketing software (and marketing content giant). (more…)