Category Archives: Optimization

Email marketing tips for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday

In between Thanksgiving and Christmas are three of the busiest shopping days of the year: Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.

According to the National Retail Federation more than 154 million people shopped over the Thanksgiving weekend last year, spending an average of $ 289.19. The survey also reveals that 44 percent of those big spenders went online, and 40 percent shopped in a store. Giving Tuesday, a global day of giving, raised more than $ 177 million, with an average gift size of $ 107.69.

If you want to boost your bottom line on the busiest shopping days of the year, it’s time to gussy up your email marketing campaigns. This is especially true if you want to stand out among retail giants such as Target and Walmart.

Here are a few email examples and helpful tips for how your small business can get in on the big bucks on Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday.

Black Friday

If you feel you can’t compete with the big guys on Black Friday, why not start your sale early? Gift buyers are already shopping. In a study, 34 million people said they start their holiday shopping before Thanksgiving. Take a tip from Blue Apron: The brand ran a Black Friday sale before Thanksgiving to catch early bird shoppers with the email subject line, “Can you keep a secret? Our Black Friday sale starts … soon.”

Blue Apron Black Friday Teaser Email

Cyber Monday

Shoppers spent $ 3.45 billion on Cyber Monday in 2016, the biggest shopping day in the history of online shopping. If you want to get your email subscribers to make a purchase, an email that suggests urgency is a powerful persuader. 

Tick tock. Tick tock. Clarks Shoes knows that a countdown clock is a mighty motivator. With the email subject line, “Final Hours – Cyber Monday Ends At Midnight!” there’s no doubt that Clarks Shoes customers were eager to take a step in their direction.

Countdown clock for Cyber monday

Giving Tuesday

Sometimes the best advice is to keep it simple. Brooks Brothers made it easy for customers to support a charitable cause on Giving Tuesday. You buy something, we donate. It’s as simple as that.

Golden Fleece foundation Giving Tuesday

Bonus tips

Online deal site Tanga decided that if you’ve got a good thing going, why stop? There’s no rule that your promotions must end after Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday pass. It’s over when you say it’s over. You can extend your holiday sales for as long as you like — after all, it’s your business, right?

Extending Black Friday and Cyber monday deals

In order to maximize the shopping frenzy, plan to send emails to remind your customers that your business is a boundless resource for holiday shopping. You don’t have to open your doors at 5 a.m. to cash in on willing shoppers — just add your own spin and get the word out.

In addition, don’t forget about Small Business Saturday, which is sandwiched between Black Friday and Cyber Monday! Here’s our guide on how to take part in this relatively recent but highly successful holiday tradition.

Shine bright for the holidays

5 days of seasonal discounts, festive tips and holiday helpers

Visit Everything Holiday


© 2017, Sonia Mansfield. All rights reserved.

The post Email marketing tips for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday appeared first on Vertical Response Blog.

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#SocialSkim: Twitter Doubles Character Limit, Facebook Rolls Out Messenger 2.2: 11 Stories This Week

Twitter doubles tweet character limit (and the surprising result); new features for brands in Messenger 2.2; Facebook’s polls for users and pages; Snap looks to algorithmic feed to solve its problems; Twitter’s ad subscription service for small businesses… Read the full article at MarketingProfs
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Amazon’s Alexa expands to Japanese as the Echo launches in Japan

Amazon has announced that its smart Echo speakers and voice-activated Alexa digital assistant are now available in Japan by invitation.

The ecommerce giant recently revealed that Alexa and the Echo would be coming to Japan this year, after they were rolled out in India last month.

Coinciding with the limited launch, Amazon is also opening the Alexa Skills Kit and Alexa Voice Service later this month so that local developers and hardware makers can create integrations built on Alexa for the Japanese market.

Above: Echo and Alexa in Japan

Alexa was only conversant in English and German before now, though for the India launch last month the company said that it would deliver a “customized” experience featuring an “all-new English voice” that understands and converses in local pronunciations.

Apple’s Siri has spoken Japanese for a while already, as have Google and Microsoft’s respective voice assistants, so Alexa’s expansion in what could prove a lucrative market for the company has been a long time coming. Indeed, alongside the Echo and Alexa news, Amazon also revealed today that it’s launching its Spotify-style Amazon Music Unlimited streaming service — which can be controlled and activated by voice through the Echo speaker — in Japan.

Though Amazon was the first of the major tech firms to popularize voice-controlled smart speakers in the U.S., it could face an uphill battle in Japan. Local tech titan Line recently launched its own version of the Echo, called Clova Wave, and Google introduced Home to Japan a few weeks back.

The Amazon Echo will cost 11,980 yen ($ 105), while its bigger brother the Echo Plus will cost 17,980 yen ($ 158), and the smaller Echo Dot will weigh in at 5,980 yen ($ 52). For the next week, however, Amazon is offering Prime customers the Echo for 7,980 yen ($ 70) and the Echo Dot for 3,980 yen ($ 35).

Social – VentureBeat

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Google Shares Details About the Technology Behind Googlebot

Posted by goralewicz

Crawling and indexing has been a hot topic over the last few years. As soon as Google launched Google Panda, people rushed to their server logs and crawling stats and began fixing their index bloat. All those problems didn’t exist in the “SEO = backlinks” era from a few years ago. With this exponential growth of technical SEO, we need to get more and more technical. That being said, we still don’t know how exactly Google crawls our websites. Many SEOs still can’t tell the difference between crawling and indexing.

The biggest problem, though, is that when we want to troubleshoot indexing problems, the only tool in our arsenal is Google Search Console and the Fetch and Render tool. Once your website includes more than HTML and CSS, there’s a lot of guesswork into how your content will be indexed by Google. This approach is risky, expensive, and can fail multiple times. Even when you discover the pieces of your website that weren’t indexed properly, it’s extremely difficult to get to the bottom of the problem and find the fragments of code responsible for the indexing problems.

Fortunately, this is about to change. Recently, Ilya Grigorik from Google shared one of the most valuable insights into how crawlers work:

Interestingly, this tweet didn’t get nearly as much attention as I would expect.

So what does Ilya’s revelation in this tweet mean for SEOs?

Knowing that Chrome 41 is the technology behind the Web Rendering Service is a game-changer. Before this announcement, our only solution was to use Fetch and Render in Google Search Console to see our page rendered by the Website Rendering Service (WRS). This means we can troubleshoot technical problems that would otherwise have required experimenting and creating staging environments. Now, all you need to do is download and install Chrome 41 to see how your website loads in the browser. That’s it.

You can check the features and capabilities that Chrome 41 supports by visiting or (Googlebot should support similar features). These two websites make a developer’s life much easier.

Even though we don’t know exactly which version Ilya had in mind, we can find Chrome’s version used by the WRS by looking at the server logs. It’s Chrome 41.0.2272.118.

It will be updated sometime in the future

Chrome 41 was created two years ago (in 2015), so it’s far removed from the current version of the browser. However, as Ilya Grigorik said, an update is coming:

I was lucky enough to get Ilya Grigorik to read this article before it was published, and he provided a ton of valuable feedback on this topic. He mentioned that they are hoping to have the WRS updated by 2018. Fingers crossed!

Google uses Chrome 41 for rendering. What does that mean?

We now have some interesting information about how Google renders websites. But what does that mean, practically, for site developers and their clients? Does this mean we can now ignore server-side rendering and deploy client-rendered, JavaScript-rich websites?

Not so fast. Here is what Ilya Grigorik had to say in response to this question:

We now know WRS’ capabilities for rendering JavaScript and how to debug them. However, remember that not all crawlers support Javascript crawling, etc. Also, as of today, JavaScript crawling is only supported by Google and Ask (Ask is most likely powered by Google). Even if you don’t care about social media or search engines other than Google, one more thing to remember is that even with Chrome 41, not all JavaScript frameworks can be indexed by Google (read more about JavaScript frameworks crawling and indexing). This lets us troubleshoot and better diagnose problems.

For example, we ran into a problem with indexing Polymer’s generated content. Ilya Grigorik provided insight on how to deal with such issues in our experiment (below). We used this feedback to make indexable — it now works fine in Chrome 41 and indexes properly.

“If you look at the raised Javascript error under the hood, the test page is throwing an error due to unsupported (in M41) ES6 syntax. You can test this yourself in M41, or use the debug snippet we provided in the blog post to log the error into the DOM to see it.”

I believe this is another powerful tool for web developers willing to make their JavaScript websites indexable.

If you want to see a live example, open in Chrome 41 and use the Chrome Developer Tools to play with JavaScript troubleshooting (screenshot below):

Fetch and Render is the Chrome v. 41 preview

There’s another interesting thing about Chrome 41. Google Search Console’s Fetch and Render tool is simply the Chrome 41 preview. The righthand-side view (“This is how a visitor to your website would have seen the page”) is generated by the Google Search Console bot, which is… Chrome 41.0.2272.118 (see screenshot below).

Zoom in here

There’s evidence that both Googlebot and Google Search Console Bot render pages using Chrome 41. Still, we don’t exactly know what the differences between them are. One noticeable difference is that the Google Search Console bot doesn’t respect the robots.txt file. There may be more, but for the time being, we’re not able to point them out.

Chrome 41 vs Fetch as Google: A word of caution

Chrome 41 is a great tool for debugging Googlebot. However, sometimes (not often) there’s a situation in which Chrome 41 renders a page properly, but the screenshots from Google Fetch and Render suggest that Google can’t handle the page. It could be caused by CSS animations and transitions, Googlebot timeouts, or the usage of features that Googlebot doesn’t support. Let me show you an example.

Chrome 41 preview:

Image blurred for privacy

The above page has quite a lot of content and images, but it looks completely different in Google Search Console.

Google Search Console preview for the same URL:

As you can see, Google Search Console’s preview of this URL is completely different than what you saw on the previous screenshot (Chrome 41). All the content is gone and all we can see is the search bar.

From what we noticed, Google Search Console renders CSS a little bit different than Chrome 41. This doesn’t happen often, but as with most tools, we need to double check whenever possible.

This leads us to a question…

What features are supported by Googlebot and WRS?

According to the Rendering on Google Search guide:

  • Googlebot doesn’t support IndexedDB, WebSQL, and WebGL.
  • HTTP cookies and local storage, as well as session storage, are cleared between page loads.
  • All features requiring user permissions (like Notifications API, clipboard, push, device-info) are disabled.
  • Google can’t index 3D and VR content.
  • Googlebot only supports HTTP/1.1 crawling.

The last point is really interesting. Despite statements from Google over the last 2 years, Google still only crawls using HTTP/1.1.

No HTTP/2 support (still)

We’ve mostly been covering how Googlebot uses Chrome, but there’s another recent discovery to keep in mind.

There is still no support for HTTP/2 for Googlebot.

Since it’s now clear that Googlebot doesn’t support HTTP/2, this means that if your website supports HTTP/2, you can’t drop HTTP 1.1 optimization. Googlebot can crawl only using HTTP/1.1.

There were several announcements recently regarding Google’s HTTP/2 support. To read more about it, check out my HTTP/2 experiment here on the Moz Blog.


Googlebot’s future

Rumor has it that Chrome 59’s headless mode was created for Googlebot, or at least that it was discussed during the design process. It’s hard to say if any of this chatter is true, but if it is, it means that to some extent, Googlebot will “see” the website in the same way as regular Internet users.

This would definitely make everything simpler for developers who wouldn’t have to worry about Googlebot’s ability to crawl even the most complex websites.

Chrome 41 vs. Googlebot’s crawling efficiency

Chrome 41 is a powerful tool for debugging JavaScript crawling and indexing. However, it’s crucial not to jump on the hype train here and start launching websites that “pass the Chrome 41 test.”

Even if Googlebot can “see” our website, there are many other factors that will affect your site’s crawling efficiency. As an example, we already have proof showing that Googlebot can crawl and index JavaScript and many JavaScript frameworks. It doesn’t mean that JavaScript is great for SEO. I gathered significant evidence showing that JavaScript pages aren’t crawled even half as effectively as HTML-based pages.

In summary

Ilya Grigorik’s tweet sheds more light on how Google crawls pages and, thanks to that, we don’t have to build experiments for every feature we’re testing — we can use Chrome 41 for debugging instead. This simple step will definitely save a lot of websites from indexing problems, like when’s JavaScript SEO backfired.

It’s safe to assume that Chrome 41 will now be a part of every SEO’s toolset.

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7 Ways Email Signatures Can Drive Signups, Follows, and Conversions

When you think of email marketing, what comes to mind? Monthly customer newsletters, daily blog RSS feeds, curated drip campaigns…

One thing you probably didn’t think of is employee email signatures.

Email signatures

Image via Email Signature Rescue

Your employees engage with customers, vendors, friends, and family via email. With the right call to action in their email signature, any of those email recipients could turn into new website visitors, customers, or social media followers.

Sure, optimizing your employee email signatures will never be as effective as your other email marketing efforts. You shouldn’t expect to add these to your employee signatures and suddenly meet your sales goal for the year, but they will drive real incremental conversions for your business.

And the best part? This is the rare kind of marketing tactic where you can truly set it and forget it.

Here are seven ways you can get more out of your employee email signatures. Choose one, create a version for your company, and share it with your employees.

1. Drive Website Traffic

Promoting existing content in your email signature drives more web traffic and social shares. If you’ve got the landing page set up with an email newsletter signup form, it could drive more subscriptions, too.

From a high-converting case study to an infographic that went viral on Twitter, choose content that actually delivers. Coordinate with your content team and review conversion data in Google Analytics to discover what content performs especially well for your business. Then link to it in your signature.

Pro tip: Don’t just say “Read our latest blog/whitepaper/ebook!” Hyperlink intriguing anchor text that compels the reader to click, as Yesware does in this example below:

Email signatures call-to-action example

Alternately, you might use a graphic to advertise the content, as in this example from HubSpot:

 Email signatures free downloadable guide call to action

2. Increase Your Following

Want to grow your social media fanbase? You’ve got options.

At a minimum, you should link to your main social media channels in your signature. People like to follow brands they work with and buy from. Link using small icons to your social media channels, rather than including long URLs. Icons are cleaner, instantly recognizable, and simply less exhausting to look at, as demonstrated in this example from Mailbird.

Email signatures cleaner design more info less space 

If you desperately want follows, you could take a more aggressive route like Limehouse Creative did. There’s a lot of information in their email signature below, but your eye is immediately drawn to the graphic, right? If social follows are most important to your marketing strategy, this is a great option. Otherwise, you might be better off using the banner to advertise a content piece or invite demo registrations.

Email signatures to drive Facebook likes social follows 

Image via SmallBusinessSense

3. Generate Leads

Speaking of demos, your email signature is a perfect opportunity for your salespeople to generate leads.

Just like realtors, salespeople know the power of faces, so good ones always include a headshot in their signature. The example also includes a “Request a demo” link to make it easy for leads to connect with the sales rep. The only suggestion we have would be to highlight that anchor text in another color or bolded font.

Email signatures sales rep example with call to action 

Image via Yesware

4. Turn Leads into Customers

Once you’ve got a thread going with a lead, the goal is to push them further down the funnel.

You might take a cue from our first tip, and link your salespeople’s signatures to your top-performing case study. Or you could work with your CRM software to dynamically change your email signatures depending on a lead’s status. For leads that suddenly went cold, or are simply lollygagging, adding a discount offer could be just the thing that wins them over. You can even reuse the banners from your display ads.

Email signatures special offers 

Image via WiseStamp

5. Promote Upcoming Events

Does your company regularly attend trade shows? Drive traffic your way with a banner announcing your booth number that links to the event registration page. You can also hype upcoming product launch parties, local networking happy hours, webinars, and Facebook Live events. Just make sure you update your signature after the event has passed.

 Email signatures promote events

Image via HubSpot

6. Build Trust

Even if you don’t want to push your email recipients to take specific action, your email can still passively work in your favor, building trust, credibility, and brand awareness. Here are a few examples of people doing that well.

Lauren Pawell doesn’t have to ask people if they want to work with her. Showing the types of publications and podcasts she’s been featured on gets people to ask her.

 Email signatures trust signals brand logos

Image via FitSmallBusiness

Similarly, author Aaron Ross links to his book page, while noting that it’s a #1 Amazon Bestseller. He kills two birds with one stone in this email signature, both establishing his authority in the space, while also encouraging people to buy his book.

 Email signatures product links Amazon affiliate links

Image via Yesware

If your company has won awards, your email signature is a wonderful place to show them off. It looks like branding, instead of bragging.

 Email signatures opportunity to display company awards and award logos in email signatures

Image via Mailbird

7. Ask for Reviews

Another great trust signal? Rave reviews and testimonials. Generate a steady supply of these by requesting reviews in your email signature. Even a gentle reminder of “Your Referrals Are Always Welcome!” can help customers remember that their friend was just looking for a service similar to yours.

In the example below, Dr. Brian Fann links “Review Us” text and also includes a social icon for his dental practice’s Google+ page, so there are multiple opportunities for recipients to click and review his business.

 Email signatures user reviews star ratings

Image via Hi5 Practice

Best Practices for Employee Email Signatures

Ready to outfit your employees with stellar email signatures? Follow these best practices to set yourselves up for success.

1. Make it Mandatory

Everyone likes to express their individuality, but your corporate email signature is not the place to do it. Tell employees to leave the artistry to their social media profiles.

Having an unified look across all your employee signatures both elevates the professionalism of your brand and avoids the formatting issues, typos, and rogue color and font choices that can happen when you let employees take it into their own hands.

2. Provide a Template

Ideally, your IT team can code these across your employees’ email settings. If that’s not possible, supply employees with a plug-and-play template they can copy into the signature settings for your email provider. Clear, easy-to-follow instructions should accompany the template.

3. Use UTM Tracking

Track your efforts by adding UTM codes to the links in your email signatures. You can check on your progress in Google Analytics under Acquisition > Campaigns. This also allows you to test different CTAs or types of content over time, or even different placements within the signature (e.g. linking to content above or below your social icons).

4. Test the Design on Mobile

We live in a mobile-first world now. Make sure your email signature adheres to that worldview. Nearly half of people read their emails from a mobile device instead of their desktop computer, so test to make sure your design fits and looks good on different smartphones and tablet devices.

5. Follow Rules of Good Design

Don’t use too many colors or fonts, and make sure that what you do use complements each other. Consider using pipes or other dividers to break up text and make it readable.

If you don’t have access to a designer, try out HubSpot’s email signature generator. Fill out all your info, choose a design, and voila!

Email signatures HubSpot email signature generator templates

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

With exciting announcements like the most recent Google algorithm upgrade, the latest Snapchat feature, or a new iPhone happening on a near-daily basis, it’s easy for marketers to get shiny ball syndrome. As a result, the lowly email signature is an often overlooked part of marketing strategy. However, implementing any of the above tactics is a simple way to generate a sizable number of wins for your business.

About the Author

Michael Quoc is the founder and CEO of Dealspotr, an open social platform connecting emerging brands, lifestyle influencers, and trend-seeking shoppers in exciting new ways. Follow him on Twitter at @michaelquoc.

Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream

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Strongly Worded Advice Week on Copyblogger

This is a week of strong opinions on Copyblogger — designed to make you more productive, wiser, saner, and maybe even happier. We want you to do amazing things, so we’re not pulling any punches. On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman encouraged us to get a handle on our information overwhelm, starting with getting smarter about the
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