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Archive for February 2012

The State Of Email Marketing In SMBs – 2011 Report


GetResponse just published their latest “The State Of Email Marketing In SMBs. 2011 Report”.

The study analyzes the implementation of the most popular email marketing practices, strategies and trends amongst the SMB marketers.
Key findings

• The majority of respondents follow best practices and legal compliance regarding the subscription-based lead generation (79% respondents use sign up forms to build lists).

• Large number of respondents declare high deliverability rates (62% claim deliverability at 95%), low complaint ratio (69% claim complaints ratio below 0.02%) and effective delivery to major client inboxes (68%).

• Most respondents realize the importance of regular mailings (70%), personalization (58%), compelling subject line (68%), and stats analysis (61%).

• Only 50% of the researched marketers integrate email with social media channel – a surprisingly low result, given the recent interest in the multi-channel marketing.

Results by Size

• Companies with 0-10 employees

This segment got the weakest results in the area of segmentation (32%) and reactivation campaigns (25%). Only 41% include social sharing icons in their newsletters.

• Companies with 11-250 employees

This segment performs best against other companies in contact acquisition via Facebook (82%). However this group has the lowest percentage in delivering newsletters in all major clients inbox (66%)

• Companies with 250-500 employees

This group stands out in using advanced segmentation techniques (72%) and split tests the most (78%). They performed worst, compared to the other groups, in getting their average complaint ratio below 0.2% (only 64%).

• Companies with more than 500 employees

This group definitely stands out in collecting contacts offline, e.g. at tradeshows, stores, using paper sign-up forms (above 75%). Also almost 90% of respondents check and analyze stats on the newsletters they send.

Results by Industry

Publishing and hi-tech are the top-ranking sectors. They are the most advanced in email marketing and in using best practices in their email campaigns. The lowest-ranking are non-profit organizations.

The study was conducted over a period of two weeks: November 14-28, 2011 and researched 600 respondents classified in 4 groups based on the business unit size and in 13 groups based on industry type.

Advantages of Corporate Training with a Learning Management System


Posted on May 12, 2011 by simplydigi100

Corporate training programs were created to sharpen or improve the skills of a company’s employees in a centralized and unified manner. Corporate training programs can also be used to train new employees or to implement new systems or processes. While some companies will argue that training costs money and valuable time, training for your employees can be worth all the effort.

First, training can give a new employee the confidence to do their job well. Entering a new job and possibly new responsibilities can be very overwhelming for a person, and can take months for them to understand their role in the company. Training can help ease the stress and can empower them to make decisions and take action if they need to. In addition to empowerment, you are welcoming your new employee and showing them that you want them to be comfortable, knowledgeable, and working at their highest potential.

Corporate training will increase job satisfaction for new employees. Most employees want to do their best, but it’s nearly impossible to do your best when you don’t know what’s expected of you. “Trial by fire” is never a good policy in the office and learning from mistakes can take a toll on your confidence and learning curve.

Corporate training can also lay out expectations of the company or department as a whole. When a new system or process is implemented in a company, there is often confusion with the new process, its purpose and what the change will accomplish. Sometimes just one day of training can help employees understand why the change is necessary and what kind of progress the company is expecting.

Another use for corporate training can be to unify your department or sector. Throughout the years, people will usually learn from their superiors or designated trainers. As people leave the company or advance, a department may have three or four different ways of completing the same project. This can become very difficult when collaborating, because steps can easily be repeated or left out entirely. Setting one process for your department can help improve your internal operations, as there will only be one “right way” and no need for disagreements.

In addition to unifying your company, a learning management system can help capture the existing knowledge in an organization. Known as knowledge transfer, an LMS allows the millions of baby boomers who are now retiring to leave their younger colleagues with their years of knowledge and how-to. This is invaluable to most organizations, since relearning from past mistakes can cost thousands of dollars and could set them back years in advancement.

Good corporate training programs are highly regarded and can give your company a good reputation for investing in its employees. A great reputation will attract a higher standard of employee and your entire company will reap the benefits. Companies that use training programs also see a reduction in turnover, since their employees understand what is expected of them and feel they can better fulfill their responsibilities.

While older training programs included large printed booklets and handouts, there are many more options for online learning now. Using an up-to-date learning management system will help cut costs of training and can even be completed from home or on the road.

About the Author: Logan Smith is a Marketing Associate at SimplyDigi.com, a leading learning management system provider. The LMS is a secure, web-based training and e-learning solution that employs a simple user interface. For more information please visit http://www.simplydigi.com.

6 Reasons Why Outsourcing Is Essential for Your Article Marketing

By Jim Belden
Feb 21, 2012


Copyright (c) 2012 Jim Belden

Lots of people think they can handle the writing of their marketing articles without outsourcing them. Unfortunately, for many business owners, writing your own marketing articles is not a realistic option for several reasons. While some people enjoy writing their own articles, others lack the time, skill or knowledge to create articles as well as experts or professional in article marketing. As such, the key reasons why it is critical to outsource your marketing articles are presented in this article.

1. You can save lots of time by outsourcing.

Think about the copious amounts of time you would spend if you individually needed to write dozens of articles a day just to keep your pages ranked high in Google searches. If you are running more than one website especially, you will need to free up your time by outsourcing the writing of your marketing articles. This time can be better spent working on new projects, developing the strategy for your website or blog and responding to issues, questions and concerns that present themselves throughout the course of your day.

2. A stress reduction tool for poor writers or English speakers.

Writing is not everyone’s strength so outsourcing your writing can be a great way to focus on your strengths. Thankfully, new technology has allowed for an abundance of article marketing writers who are able to serve the needs of any site owner. If you are not a strong writer, it will show through in your content as it will be engaging and attractive to readers when compared to a seasoned pro. If you want to grow your traffic and create a site that visitors want to return to, you need to ensure the content is of the highest quality since there is so much competition on the Internet.

3. You can have an article written by an expert on that topic.

If you want to drive web traffic to your site, it’s critical that your site is different from others and has credibility. A great to achieve credibility for your website is by finding people within the community who are knowledgeable or regarded as having expertise in a particular area. When these experts contribute to your website, they will help you to drive more traffic and will bring you a new audience.

4. Outsourcing article marketing services can be very cost efficient.

Thanks to the rise of global contract work, it is very easy to get your articles written for a very cheap rate. These days, article marketing can be done at a surprisingly affordable cost through high quality firms.

5. Save money since you don’t need full-time staff.

If you are currently employing full-time writers, outsourcing will save you lots of money as you no longer require to pay wages, benefits and other fees on a regular basis to maintain and retain your employees and their happiness.

6. A sizable workforce is available at all times.

The Internet has enabled people to access the labor they need at any time of day. You can search for article marketing outsourcing specialists at any time of day or night to ensure you have articles at your finger tips as soon as you need them.

It’s clear from the information that’s been provided from this article that there is an abundance of reasons to outsource your article marketing venture. Instead of toiling away for days writing hundreds of articles, why not consider using specialists in the field who can get the job done for you faster, with better quality and at a reasonable price. So don’t hesitate and start outsourcing your article marketing services today.

How to Boost Sales in a Slumping Economy


Avidian Technologies

In today’s struggling economy, maintaining strong sales growth can be a greater and greater challenge. It’s OK to sulk for a little while but now that you are done with sulking, it’s time to take action to maintain or continue your growth. One of the most efficient solutions to this problem is to focus on creating better processes and leverage the existing tools you already have while spending very little money.

Here are six tips to help grow your sales and leverage your existing resources:

Be more organized. Know who your current customers are, who your prospects are and how you became aware of them. Keep all information regarding customers and prospects up to date so that you have accurate data available when needed. If you are an Outlook user, you can be more organized by leveraging Outlook’s contact, calendar and tasks features. You can also keep an Excel spreadsheet of contact information but that can get arduous if you have many contacts. Some of you might need more sales features than what Outlook has to offer and if that is the case, please consider checking out Prophet.

Focus on the funnel. At any given time, your sales cycle will include various deals at different stages of completion. Tracking where specific clients are in this sales cycle is vital to ensuring that none of these deals fall through the cracks. To keep track of your sales pipeline, develop a list of milestones that you would like achieved by your sales team. These milestones will be different for every business, but should include three to five decision or contact points. For example some contact points might be the initial contact, a follow-up, a verbal agreement and finally a written contract. CRM programs like Prophet can help with this and it’s easy because it’s built right inside of Outlook. Again, you can create a spreadsheet listing each individual sale, where each sale is in the sales process and the estimated date of closure. However if you have many opportunities or want to share the information, getting a CRM application makes sense.

Track who your evangelists are and thank them. It is important to keep track of your customers, but it is also essential to maintain relationships with your referral sources. By noting which sources have referred the majority of your sales, you can begin to see which of them are providing the most sales opportunities and focus your attention more directly on them. Being able to see this documented will help make it clearer who your lead referrals are. If using a CRM solution, see if it has this capability to tie referral information to sales in the pipeline. Every time someone refers a customer to you, thank them immediately with a hand written note or a quick email. This is a common courtesy that many are guilty of neglecting.

Measure your progress. Make sales expectations known to employees and make achievements measurable. One way to do this is to use the stages of the sales cycle as levels of achievement. More sales will be finalized and more revenue will be made when an employee is well informed and knows what is expected. For example, a sales employee might be expected to make ten new contacts and move three accounts onto the next stage of the sales cycle each week. This will make expectations clearer, allowing employees to effectively meet them.

Get out there. It is essential to keep your company and your product in front of customers. One way to do this is to create and distribute a newsletter with items of interest to current and potential clients within your industry. That is why you regularly receive newsletters from us. However, your newsletter can’t just be spam. It must add value to your customers’ life. Another tactic to help keep you on the frontlines is to host an open house at your offices to get better acquainted with your local customer base and try to build better relationships with them.

Leverage your existing tools. Established tools and processes are already being used by your sales team to acquire new customers. As another way to boost sales, capitalize on what your team is already doing and streamline it. If an individual salesperson is using a certain tool or has developed an efficient process that they’re using on their own, find a way to expand it to a corporate level. Reward individuals for sharing their best ideas with the entire sales team.

Enduring tough economic times can be a challenge, but we trust you’ll get through it. Successful sales is a process. Therefore build good processes and habits that will help ensure that success. Consider Prophet as it leverages what you are already doing and the tools you have. We’re confident you’ll profit from Prophet by trying us.

eLearning Brothers

eLearning Brothers was founded in 2009 by two brothers with a dream of making eLearning more engaging and inviting to learners. Andrew and Shawn bring a wealth of eLearning knowledge and experience to the company. They specialize in building templates and graphic designs to help people build courses with amazing content.

1. Save Time and Effort – Having templates ready to go saves time and effort because the look and feel for every course is replicated from each one to the next.

2. Consistency – Consistent content is created among all courses and designers.

3. Technical Functionality – Meet requirements of your Learning Management System.

4. Move Beyond Your Talent – Not all developers have the same skill set. Using templates helps team members who may be less skilled at creating multimedia.

5. Increase Output and Creativity – Using templates allows designers to spend more time creating content… instead of designing the look and feel for a course. This means more courses can be built in a shorter time period.

eLearningTemplates.com offers a wide variety of templates that make training more interactive, visually appealing, and engaging:

Powerpoint Templates – several different design layouts with over 100 different master slides in each design. Also offer PowerPoint Games for classroom training.

Articulate Skins – many different styles available to add a fresh new look to your Articulate courses.

Flash Games and Activities – add some fun and excitement to your eLearning by inserting games and quizzes throughout your eLearning. Multiple games and interactions available.

Cutout People Images – personalize your training by adding people images. Several different models and poses are available.

All of these templates are compatible with rapid eLearning software packagessuch as those from: Rapid Intake, Captivate, Articulate, iSpring, Lectora, and Moodle… just to name a few. Also, we provide all the source files, so the templates can be updates with your organization’s logo and colors.

5 Easy Ways to Boost Valentine’s Day Sales

Katie Morell

February 10, 2012


Spas, floral shops and jewelry stores aren’t the only businesses that should benefit from a boost in sales on Valentine’s Day. Here’s how any small business can entice customers to spend in the name of love.

Hold a contest

Think up a fun contest and entice your social media followers to participate, suggests Wendy Kenney, founder of 23 Kazoos, a marketing company in Phoenix, and author of How to Build Buzz for Your Biz. Contest ideas include asking Facebook followers to post a photo and have people vote on it. The winner gets a discount to your product or service.

“Theme it for fun, maybe ask people to dress up like celebrity couples and post the photo on your page,” she offers. “In-person drawings are another great way to get new clients.”

Before launching your contest, be sure to research rules associated with your state and social media platform. According to Kenney, Facebook has restrictions about contests and prefers businesses use third party applications such as Wildfire. (Here are some ideas for successful Facebook contests.)

Offer a workshop

Natalie Napoleon Wi is banking on Valentine’s Day to land her a slew of new clients. As co-founder of Allure West Studios, a boutique photography studio in Doylestown, Pa., she is offering discounts on her photography workshops.

“Workshops are great ways to spend time together and make a good gift for a loved one,” she says.
Not a photographer? Fear not; any business can offer workshops. Wine stores can offer wine pairing workshops. Accountants can offer workshops on write-off tips (maybe slightly less romantic, but you get the idea). Publicize your Valentine’s Day workshop specials on your social media page for maximum exposure.

Include the family

Valentine’s Day isn’t only for lovebirds. Joe Aurelio, president and CEO of Aurelio’s Pizza in Chicago, includes his clients’ families in the celebration.

“We offer heart-shaped pasta for Valentine’s Day and encourage everyone to bring their families into the restaurants for the holiday,” he says.


Consider packaging your goods or services for the holiday, recommends Kenney. Restaurant owners: Host a Valentine’s Day dinner. Auto shops: Offer a “love your car” special.
“You want to make it easy for consumers to buy,” she says.

Land a TV spot

This is easier than you may think. Television stations (especially ones in small markets) are always looking for feel-good stories around holidays.

Kenney has a few ideas: Photographers can offer a segment on how to take perfect Valentine’s photos, chefs can offer a segment on how to cook the perfect Valentine’s Day meal and clothing boutiques can showcase new date night styles. The opportunities are endless; just make sure to call TV assignment desks a few days ahead to give studios time to consider your idea.

This strategy worked for Rachel Bloom, founder and president of Happy Cup Coffee Company in Portland, Ore.—a company that employs people with mental and physical disabilities. Over the winter holiday season, she and her employees sold ‘Christmas boxes,’ which included coffee, a T-shirt and chocolates. They were a huge hit, so Bloom extended the box idea to Valentine’s Day.

“They are super popular, and we managed to get on television,” she says. “The morning the show went out to 120,000 people we got a lot of calls. A supermarket even ended up sampling our coffee.”

Valentine’s Day 2012 Ideas for Marketers

John Rampton, February 3, 2012


Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away. For marketers looking to take advantage of the holiday, Google and Microsoft adCenter have provided several ideas based on what users are already searching for.
Valentine’s Day is the second most popular gift-giving holiday (behind Christmas), according to a recent survey by ORC International. More good news for marketers: Valentine’s Day falls on a Tuesday this year.
This is a really good thing for online marketers considering you typically get better optimization with your ads on weekdays.

Check your ads and set up specific ad groups and campaigns that are targeted toward this specific event.

Valentine’s Day Search Trends

Daily “valentines day” related searches have increased 35 percent over last year, according toGoogle. Across relevant categories, jewelry is seeing a 42 percent increase in mobile and desktop queries compared to January of last year; gifts jumped 27 percent, and flowers saw an 18 percent spike.

Mobile advertising is expect to hit $2.6 billion in 2012. You need to start capitalizing on mobile traffic this year. With Valentine’s Day being the second biggest gift-giving holiday this year, you can’t neglect this traffic or pretend it doesn’t exist.

Among the top searches people are conducting on Google:
• valentines day meals
• diy valentines gifts
• valentines day border
• valentines day drinks
• valentines day baskets

Top Products that Benefit Online on Valentine’s Day

If your business offers any of the following services below, you should bid on them as millions of people are searching for them:

• Flowers
• Chocolates
• Lingerie
• Travel/Short Trips
• Jewelry
• Dating

I recommend that you set up a separate ad campaign. Make sure that you don’t have more then 5 keywords per ad group as to write very descriptive ads for each one of your ad groups.

That being said, if you market other relevant items they will also sell around Valentine’s Day so don’t count your products out.

Optimization Tips

Here are a few tips from Microsoft to get the most our of your ads:

1. Be Specific with Locations: Geo-target ads regionally and use dynamic text… so a searcher in Cardiff knows cupid’s arrow can land on their doorstep, not a 2 hour train journey away! (Try targeting your ads in different demographic locations, this will help you narrow down what parts of your local area will work the best. Use this information for all major holidays.)

2. Inspire Confidence in Searchers: If you have tens of thousands of members, mention that you have “tens of thousands of genuine singles”.

3. Include Seasonal References: Affirm what the searcher is looking for, for example, “New year, new love” and “Find Valentine’s Love” work better than “Online Dating Site”.

4. Use dynamic text: Increase your chances of highly relevant ads by using dynamic text in your ad titles, so a user searching for “London singles” will see your ad that had been set up as “Find {keyword}”… they’ll see it in their results as “Find London Singles”.

5. Calls to Action: Encourage searchers to “Join the fun” or “Find love”.

6. Brand Your Ads: Make sure you include the brand name within the ad copy. If you are advertising offline or running a display campaign the brand recognition will encourage clicks.

7. Include Your Promotion Info: If you have an offer, such as 30-days free membership, make sure to say so in your ad copy. (Because you’ll get busted and banned if you don’t!)

Oracle acquires Taleo

An announcement was made today that Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) has entered into an agreement to acquire Taleo Corporation (NASDAQ:TLEO) for $46.00 per share or approximately $1.9 billion, net of Taleo’s cash and debt. Taleo is a leading provider of cloud-based talent management, which helps organizations attract, develop, and retain human capital, improving organizations’ performance and increasing their growth.

3 Social Learning Trends to Watch in 2012


January 21, 2012 by Sharlyn Lauby

This post originally appeared on the American Express OPEN Forum, where Mashable regularly contributes articles about leveraging social media and technology in small business.

According to the 2011 Training Industry Report from TrainingMag.com, total expenditures in training appear to be increasing. The amount spent on training jumped about 13% from 2010, including increases in overall training budgets and payroll, and spending on outside products and services.

It’s anticipated that training will continue to be a major focus for organizations in the upcoming year, which makes sense: As our economy continues to move in a positive direction, consumers will demand better service. This translates to a need for customer service, management and leadership training, which are poised to see increases in 2012.
Along with the increased attention on training comes a discussion about value and retention. The conversation about ways to engage participants and therefore enhance the value of training is on the rise, as new tools and methods are emerging very quickly.

Here are three of the developing topics that combine social with learning — and should be worth integrating in your business during this year.

1. Social Learning

Tony Bingham, president and CEO of the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD), is leading the discussion about defining social learning. “Social learning is learning with and from others, often — but not always — with social media tools,” Bingham explains. “Social learning is a powerful approach to sharing and discovering a whole array of options, leading to more informed decision-making and a more intimate, expansive and dynamic understanding of the culture and context in which we work.”

There are many benefits to incorporating social learning into an organization: “Incorporating social learning creates networks of knowledgeable people to work across time and space to make informed decisions and solve complex problems,” Bingham says. “Learning happens more quickly and broadly. Innovation happens faster. And tacit knowledge can be retained and reused.”

Companies are paying attention to the benefits. In ASTD’s research report, Transforming Learning with Web 2.0 Technologies, findings indicate that 87% of respondents predict that in the next three years, their companies are more likely to use Web 2.0 technologies than they currently do. Bingham offers several examples of how companies are applying social learning in his book, The New Social Learning.

2. Social Networking Techniques

While defining social learning is still a work in progress, many trainers are using social networking platforms to create activities and exercises for their programs. Jane Bozarth, eLearning Coordinator for the State of North Carolina and author of Social Media for Trainers explains how using social networks can enhance training: “Social media tools help to amplify the social and informal learning already going on in organizations all the time, every day, and make the learning available on a much larger scale. They provide ways to connect talent pools and expertise in an organization or within a practice area, and can offer just-in-time solutions to problems and performance issues.”

The reaction from participants is very positive. Bozarth explains, “Participants are happy to engage with one another using social media tools for training purposes. They find it convenient, useful for learning at the moment of need, and [that it helps them] develop a greater sense of control over their learning.”

Trainers shouldn’t fear adding a social component to their programs. According to Bozarth, it’s pretty easy to do. “Social media tools are just tools and can be effectively employed to support the gamut of training activities, from introductions to role plays to discussions of video clips, and anything in between.” But she does offer one recommendation: “I hope we see learning and development practitioners moving toward partnering with learners and away from feeling their role is to direct them.”

3. Gamification

A frequent training request is make subjects fun — and what better way to learn a new topic than by playing a game? Karl M. Kapp, professor of instructional technology at Bloomsburg University and author of The Gamification of Training: Game-based Methods and Strategies for Learning and Instruction, shares the concept of using games for learning. “Studies indicate that games, when designed properly, motivate learners, improve learner retention and encourage students who aren’t typically ‘academic’ to partake in the learning process,” he says. “There is no reason learning has to always be hard or difficult.”

It’s important to note that not all games are created equal when it comes to learning. Kapp discusses two reasons why gamification is becoming popular, and the first one isn’t necessarily relevant for learning. “Some people see gamification simply as the process of adding points, badges or rewards to the learning process and instantly creating engagement, interactivity and motivation for learning. This view is wrong.”

Kapp suggests looking at the real reasons why games are popular and then apply those elements to the process. “When done correctly, gamification provides an experience that is inherently engaging and, most importantly, promotes learning. The elements of games that make for effective gamification are those of storytelling, which provides a context, challenge, immediate feedback, sense of curiosity, problem-solving, a sense of accomplishment, autonomy and mastery.”

Adding social networks and games to training programs has the potential to shake up the learning experience. It can create constant learning opportunities, real-time knowledge sharing and improved participant engagement.

10 Mobile Learning Trends for 2012


Published January 6, 2012 AEP Awards , Business of Publishing , Content Management , Distribution , Educational Technology , Innovation , Open Educational Resources , Product Development , Social Networking8 Comments

“Mobile” has sufficiently cemented itself among the buzzwords of 2012. Here’s a look at top trends and predictions for mobile learning in 2012 from industry analysts.

1. Increased proliferation of tablet and smartphones in the market, forcing schools to relent and allow devices into schools. (In 2011 40% of teens had a smartphone.)

2. Improved broadband access to account for increased mobile tech use.

3. A surge in “bring your own device” (and the need to accommodate for it) in schools as students use their own mobile tech for school and home learning.

4. Expanded use of ebooks and online instructional materials as the main learning resource rather than as supplementary pieces.

5. Rise of digital content curation services to help users make sense of all available resources.

6. Growth in creation of and use of open source materials that allow for greater collaboration and cross-device use.

7. Further integration of social networking integrated into learning to increase student collaboration and connections with teachers.

8. Move to cloud computing and online classroom management systems that gather student achievement data and allow for more personalized instruction.

9. Adoption of the flipped classroom, where the traditional lecture is accessed at home through videos or podcasts, and the students spend their class time working with teachers and peers on projects, discussions, and collaborative learning.

10. Explosion of “truly educational gaming.”

Developing new content and capabilities to deliver on these trends in a meaningful way is a challenge for the ed. resource industry in 2012. The Innovation Awards, part of the AEP Awards program, recognize products that are pioneering changes in the education landscape. Categories include Mobile/Wireless Learning Tools, Digital Games/Game Creation Tools, and Student Response/Assessment/Data Management.