7 Stellar Social & Email Marketing Blogs You Should Be Reading

Receiving a few simple tips about what to post on your social media networks, or how to craft a catchy subject line can make a big difference in how well you market your business. But where do you uncover valuable email and social media marketing tips? On blogs, of course! With that in mind, we’ve compiled 7 stellar social media and email marketing blogs you should be reading (if you aren’t already!). They’re full of so much inside scoop, you’ll be way ahead of the social media and email marketing trends.

Social Media:
Social media networks are evolving at breakneck speed, and with new ones popping up all the time, how do you know where you should invest your time? Here are 3 social media-focused blogs that’ll keep you current:

1. Social Media Examiner
Social Media Examiner gives you the nuts and bolts you need to create a strong social media presence. While other sites may inform readers on changes and trends, this site really gets down to the nitty-gritty of how to get the most out of your social media pages, often with detailed or step-by-step instructions. What’s also cool, is that their posts cover several social media channels, so you know what’s going on beyond Facebook and Twitter. While the site’s main focus is of course, social media, it does an excellent job of delving into the relationship of social media with other aspects of your marketing, and how to integrate across multiple channels.

Social Media Examiner

 

2. Mashable
Mashable is a well-known source for up-to-the-minute news on social media, technology, business and entertainment. The speed at which the publication is able to pick up stories, even obscure ones, is quite impressive. If Mark Zuckerberg goes to the bathroom, odds are Mashable knows about it. But seriously, for anything new that happens on Facebook, Twitter, or the other major players in the social game, Mashable gives the play-by-play. The layout of their website makes it easy to take in lots of information at once, and share it across your social media channels. Mashable also does a stellar job of covering buzzed-about mobile topics, which is increasingly important for marketers today.

3. Convince & Convert
Convince & Convert is focused on two things: Social Media and content creation. It offers practical advice about what works and what doesn’t. The mix of content is refreshing – There are some “5-step” articles, some “What not to do” articles, and some case studies of companies who’ve made social media work for them. And, as the name of the company suggests, they don’t leave out the metrics portion of social media. After all, what’s the point in spending time on social media if you don’t see any results? The casual tone and practical length of the posts also make Convince & Convert a digestible way to gain social media insights.

Email Marketing:
Ever wonder why only a certain portion of people you send an email to ever open it? Or why even fewer people actually click on a link inside of an email? Well, there are ways to get more mileage out of your email marketing with simple changes that’re easier than you may think! Here are a slew of blogs with game-changing techniques and advice for your email marketing.

4. Litmus
Sure, knowing the basics is important, but there’s more to email marketing than good content and click through rates. Litmus delves into the email marketing nuances that many other blogs just don’t tackle (that’s probably because they’re an email testing and analytics company)! If you want to understand why your email is looks different in Gmail vs. Outlook, or if you’re unsure about which browsers you should test in, Litmus covers the more technical aspects of email marketing. It’ll also keep you up to date to all the latest trends in email marketing, like mobile usage, design and optimization. Moreover, the increasing importance of using metrics to track return on investment (ROI) on marketing efforts makes Litmus a very useful resource.

5. Email Institute
The name really says it all. Email Institute (by Epsilon) is a comprehensive site dedicated to email marketing best practices. It’s a great place to go with questions. Whether you have inquiries about email content, design, delivery, or testing – or you just want to know how to grow your email list – the Email Institute has information for you. Consider it a library for your email marketing research!

Duct Tape Marketing

6. Duct Tape Marketing
While the Duct Tape Marketing blog is not solely dedicated to email marketing, it’s an excellent resource for total marketing strategy, especially for small businesses. It focuses on the whole package – customer satisfaction, content creation, email marketing, social media, branding and so on. Best of all, it’s written in a very direct, non-technical way that anyone can understand. With daily posts by experts in the field, it’s a great way to stay informed and learn simple yet effective steps to improve your marketing strategy.

7. VerticalResponse
We would be remiss if we didn’t tout our own blog here, right? From social media to email marketing and beyond, the VerticalResponse Marketing Blog is, if we DO say so ourselves, an excellent resource for all things small business. And while writing 3-5 new posts on the blog per week, you can bet we have info you’re looking for, and in a timely manner.

These are just seven of the many magnificent marketing blogs out there. Know of any other social media and email marketing blogs you find helpful and insightful for your marketing needs? Let us know!

© 2013, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved.

Published on February 6th, 2013 | by Amanda Day

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The Need to Know about Interchange Fees

In the past fifty years or so swiping plastic at the store has overrun paying with cash. In the early years of MasterCard and Visa, cash ruled all but since then times have changed. As credit cards grew more popular, merchants felt the need to decide whether to accept cards or the lost sales. Here we are in 2013 and it feels as if all transactions are “virtual.” What do we call all of this? Interchange.creditcards

I’m sure you’re now wondering, what are interchange fees? According to Andrew Parrott’s recent article, interchange fees are “payments for handling the transaction between a business’ bank account and cardholder’s bank account.” Not only do these fees cover the conversion of funds into the merchant’s account, but they also cover administrative services along with fraud threats. Variables such as brand, geography, transaction, card or business type all are a part of the reason why there are so many different interchange rates.

interchange_chartParrott brings up an excellent question in his article, why do we need interchange rates? We use these rates to balance the risk of banks taking losses for occurring debt by the cardholder. Basically, they are trying to figure out what businesses are able to pay to accept cards and also what banks are willing to accept when discussing loss and profit.

In the past there was just one interchange rate. However, over the years other rates have been added because of the different needs that came along with the newer times. More merchants started accepting credit cards and as new card types surfaced along with new rewards more rates appeared with it. The idea was for the networks to decide what charges would be established. Basically rates were created in order to restore balance to both the merchants and the banks by covering any losses that came across. Now banks may realize and keep up to date with costs from merchants.

You’re probably curious what’s going to be the next phase of interchange? No one knows for certain, but many ideas have come about recently. Interchange fees are established by each individual card company, for instance, MasterCard, Visa, American Express, etc. That being said, it’s a competitive world and technology is constantly changing businesses are trying to be one step ahead of one another at all times. Meaning that rates are constantly being adjusted. Banks, like everyone else want to make a profit, since they have the freedom to choose which card they give to their customers, they are going to choose the one that brings them the most money.interchange

Legal charges also interfere where rates are going in the years to come. In the past, lawsuits have been brought against credit card companies by merchants as well as other professional associations. The issues have been over credit card companies increasing their swipe fees while there wasn’t any legal documents or information to protect the businesses from the higher rates. In his article, Parrott discusses the Durbin amendment. This amendment “set a ceiling on what card brands could charge for certain debit transactions.” This legislation was created to lower merchant costs, which would transfer to lower costs for consumers paying with a card.

The-Double-Standard-of-Debit-Interchange-FeesWhen it comes down to it, if your business accepts credit cards you will pay interchange fees. USB Payment Processing offers Member Benefits that saves you money. Not only does our company provide you excellent merchant services and customer service, we also provide you free advertising with our My Business NetworkUSB even puts an announcement on all statements when an interchange increase effects our merchants. We also send out announcements every April and October to make sure our merchants are aware of the fees.

For more information on USB Payment Processing feel free to contact us at 410.828.4286.

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Make Yourself Google’s #1

Why is it so important that your blog ranks highly on Google? The answer is simple; Google is currently one of the top search engines out there and hundreds of thousands of people “google” things daily. Meaning that if you rank highly then you get those readers reading your blog. number1google11

So it makes sense that you would want your blog to be searched, found and observed by all of these people. Now the question is, how do you become one of the top searched blogs on Google? Content. It is important to include relevant and strong content on your blog or webpage that Google wants to see. This way it is more likely for you to be number one. In a recent article, Kim Garst goes through 8 simple steps on how to create the proper content that will help you rank highly on Google.

Step One: Create Content for People, Not Computers

You want to focus your topics on whatever you know your audience will like. For instance, if your blog is about all credit card processing, mobile payments, etc. you wouldn’t want to be writing about “what to feed a unicorn” or “how to train a dolphin.” Your site should be filled with your brand or your company and all things relevant to that. It should be in the genuine interest to the people reading the blog because that’s why they read it in the first place.

Step Two: Be Unique

Lit light bulb amongs unlit incandescent bulbsYou want your blog to stand above the rest. If you’re writing the same thing as everyone else in your niche, why is someone going to choose yours over another blogger? You need to provide innovative content with substantial value when compared to other pages that are similar.  You want people to be clicking on your blog, not anyone else’s.

You need to offer what everyone else doesn’t. You need something that no one else has – stand out from the rest. For example, there are a ton of payment processing companies out there. But when you process with USB you also get free advertising among other local companies with our My Business Network.

Step Three: Go Beyond the Obvious

You need to show the Internet Universe that you’re in charge. You’re the expert on your topic and anyone who needs answers will come to you. Does your content make readers say “everyone knows that” or “tell me something I don’t know.” If so, that is not what you want!

Your readers want the latest and greatest info. They want insightful up-to-date content to be ahead of all of their friends. That’s exactly what you need to give to them. Otherwise, they will go to the blog that has just that.

Step Four: Include Infographics

This is a more appealing way for your audience to respond because it’s better than just plain text. It is a unique spin on a usual action. By using infographics you show your readers your understanding of your topic.

Infographics are also a fantastic SEO boost. Good infographics lead to your blog going viral, meaning that you will have people flooding to your website. The more traffic on your site, the better.an-infographic-about-infographics_5029148ae279b

Step Five: Be Thorough

If anyone asks you a question or leaves a comment be sure to provide thorough information so that whether they are a reader or not they will feel satisfied with your answer. This is how you can get potential readers to keep up with your site. By taking the time to answer questions, this shows that you care about your audience and people love that.

Google is well aware of how long readers stay on your blog or even a page on your site. That’s yet another thing that influences into your ranking on Google. They want the best of the best ranked highly and their process is quite thorough to ensure that happens.

Lastly, you want to be thorough when proofreading too. No one wants to read content with misspellings, poor grammar or even false information. Be sure to research and investigate what you’re putting out there. You wouldn’t want to be providing readers with deceitful content. Google likes clear, precise and neat content. So make sure that is what you give them.

Step Six: Think of Yourself as the Consumer

Obviously, you’re going to be biased, however, think of yourself as a person who has never seen your blog but is attracted in the topic.

Would you read the blog? Would you share or recommend it? By taking a step back and trying to imagine how others see your blog can be helpful. You might think it’s the best thing in the whole world, but it might not be seen that way to others. Maybe you can figure out a way to improve it by seeing it in a different way. You need your readers to be happy so you could even ask them for ideas or suggestions. Don’t be afraid to try new things and step out of the box every once in a while.

Step Seven: Update Regularly

As I’ve stated before, updating your blog regularly can only help you. Not only is it great for SEO, but Google also loves it. Google wants to ensure that you’re posting new and relevant content. By updating your site and posting new information constantly your name is more likely to be on your readers’ minds. Plus the more you publish, the more Google has the chance to rank highly.

Step Eight: Connect with Your Visitors

SocialNetworkMake a connection with your visitors. If you do this, you could make them repeat visitors. Who wouldn’t want that, right? By interacting and communicating with your readers you make their experience real. You instantly become a human and that helps them relate to you and your material.

People read blogs to gain information and to be entertained. So give them what they want. Provide them with the information that they are looking for and entertain them while you do it. People like pictures and things to click on, so if you do that and give them well researched information you’re set.

Follow Garst’s 8 easy steps for writing your blog’s content and fix what needs to be fixed and you’ll be set. Make your site Google’s new favorite and receive high rankings.

For more information contact USB Payment Processing at 410.828.4286.

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