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Emoticon or not: Make the Right Choice in Business Communication


In my last post about live chat etiquette, I have given some common practices in business communication for your reference. While some practices are recognized by most business communicators, there are rules that are still in debate whether or not they should be used in formal settings such as online customer support and work emails. Emoticon is one of them.

Why Emoticons Come in Handy?

Any kind of communication, verbal or textual, contains much more than mere words. It certainly carries the emotional aspect with it.  How the receiver understands the sender’s message depends on not only the words, but also the tone of voice, facial expression, and other nonverbal cues. While in business communication via texting, you can see tone and cues are missing. This is where emoticons in business communication come along.

Pros and Cons

Advocators have a bunch of reasons why emoticons should exist. They hold that emoticons can help create emotional connection between communicators from both sides. In other words, they bring the two sides involved closer. During communication via plain text such as chatting online with customers, the message is usually neutral while the tone is absent, which leaves a vacuum for customers to fill in and they are very likely to look at the message in a negative way. Therefore, emoticons are necessary to clarify the tone. For example, the smiley face does make the delay easier to accept in “I will have to check your order information. Could you please hold on for several minutes? :) Thanks!”

On the other hand, opponents believe that it is so not professional to use emoticons during a business conversation and it only makes you seem childish. And what’s worse, emoticons may offend some of your customers who feel uncomfortable to see such icons during a business conversation and think they are not taken seriously. Some think emoticons are totally unnecessary just like you elbow someone after telling them a joke and ask “Got it?” They strongly believe that well-structured writing is clear enough and has no place for any emoticon.

Rules to Follow

There are certainly many informal scenarios where you can use emoticons without concern. Usually it happens when you communicate with someone that you have a good acquaintance with, such as your schoolmates or intimate friends. But chatting with or sending emails to your customers who you in most cases don’t know well of is another thing. While emoticons are not to be forbidden though, there surely are some rules to follow.

Copy your customers when doing so. When it comes to customer service, customers always matter.  So it is not a good idea to use emoticons before your customers just to avoid offending them somewhere. As you can see from the above, people hold quite different opinions on emoticons.

Do check your message to see whether you are overusing emoticons. If you use emoticons on a daily basis and you can see them at the end of nearly every sentence, then you have to pay attention and try every effort to cut them.

Make sure the emoticons you use are really necessary to make you clear. Emoticons should be used only when necessary, that is, to help the message receivers interpret your message correctly or to make the conversation even friendlier.

Find the emoticon that can best match your tone. Since emoticons are increasingly popular now, people have developed similar responses to emoticons as they do towards real faces. Always bear in mind that the purpose for you to use emoticons is to help clarify your tone when necessary and avoid miscommunication.

Choose only the ones that are recognizable. There are literally hundreds of emoticons available for you to select from.  But most of them are not as commonly used as smiley faces. It will take the message receivers some time if some rarely used emoticons are included. You don’t want to risk, do you?

Just follow your industry’s etiquette. You can see the difference between bankers and e-commerce retailors in terms of customer services. People come to you for totally different services and in quite different moods perhaps. So be careful and personalized regarding emoticons.

In the context of customer service by live chat, people keep finding ways to make the communication more human, more personal. Emoticons can be a way out. But that is your shot to call. Whether or not emoticons are used in your communication, the bottom line is to make sure that your messages are correctly interpreted by your customers thus reaching good customer satisfaction.

What is your perspective? Leave your comment below and share with us.

The post Emoticon or not: Make the Right Choice in Business Communication appeared first on Comm100 Blog.

Ad Serving Technology: Understand the marketing revelation that commercialized the Internet

Ad Serving Technology: Understand the marketing revelation that commercialized the Internet

Understand the marketing revelation that commercialized the Internet.

Ad Serving provides a commercial infrastructure to the internet, spanning all sites, and touching all users, all the time.

Ad Serving gives marketers the ability to deliver and measure their ads for exceptionally low cost, revealing the true value of the ad space they pay for.

Utilizing cookie and page-level analysis, marketers can build vast pools of pseudonymous data about websites, ads and the users that encounter them. This data, and the trusted publisher-independent methodology for measurement, secures investment for Publishers. The counting, tracking and the delivery of ads to enable this data takes place at massive scale. The processes and systems behind data collection are complex, and marketers are expected to learn how to use them as the industry grows; applying this knowledge to their new roles in Digital Advertising.

Many undertake this challenge, unaware of the complexity that lies ahead. The learning resources are few and far between. This book satisfies an intermediate-level of tuition to Ad Serving Technology, illustrating how and why Advertisers continue to grow their ad spend in the planet’s favorite new media channel.

Topics covered includes: Introduction to Digital Advertising, Introduction to Ad Serving technologies, Campaign Setup in the Ad Server by Channel – Standard Display, Rich Media, Instream Video, SEO, Paid Search, Affiliate, Email and Social. This book also covers Conversions, Attribution, Retargeting, Optimization Strategies, Adserver Reporting, Adserver Analytics, Privacy technology and an Introduction to Programmatic including DSPs, SSPs, DMPs, ATD’s, ITD’s and RTB.

List price: $27.99

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Duct Tape Marketing Revised & Updated: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide

Duct Tape Marketing Revised & Updated: The World's Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide

Is Your Marketing as Simple, Effective, and Affordable as Duct Tape?

Let’s face it, as a small business owner, you are really in the business of marketing.  The problem for most small business owners is that they suffer from “marketing idea of the week” syndrome instead of implementing a systematic approach to the problem of small business marketing.

In Duct Tape Marketing, renowned Small Business Marketing guru John Jantsch shows you how to develop and execute a marketing plan that will give your business the life and longevity you knew you could have when you made that decision to go out on your own.

CAREFUL! Duct tape is a serious tool… it sticks where you put it. So are the ideas in this book. If you’re ready to make a commitment and are willing to make something happen, John’s book is a great place to start. ―Seth Godin, author of Purple Cow

For all those who wonder why John Jantsch has become the leading advisor and coach to small businesses everywhere, Duct Tape Marketing is the answer. I have never read a business book that is as packed with hands-on, actionable information as this one. There are takeaways in every paragraph, and the success of John’s blog is living proof that they work. Duct Tape Marketing should be required reading for anyone who is building a business, or thinking about it. Bo Burlingham, editor-at-large, Inc. magazine, and author of Small Giants: Companies That Choose To Be Great Instead of Big

Duct Tape Marketing is a worthy addition to the growing library of how-to books on small business marketingconcise, clear, practical, and packed with great ideas to boost your bottom line.Bob Bly, author of The White Paper Handbook

With the world suffering from depleted reserves of trust, a business that sells plenty of it every day tends to create the most value. The great thing about trust as a product feature is that it delivers exceptional returns. With this book, John Jantsch has zeroed in on exactly what small businesses need to sell every day, every hour. ―Ben McConnell, co-author of Creating Customer Evangelists: How Loyal Customers Become a Volunteer Sales Force

John Jantsch has provided small businesses with the perfect perspective for maximizing all marketing activities – offline and on. Jantsch has the plan to help you thrive in the world of business today. Read it, all your competitors will.John Battelle, cofounding editor or Wired and author of The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture

Duct Tape Marketing is a great read for anyone in business. It has fresh ideas laid out in a practical and useable way. I highly recommend this book for growing any business.Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder of BNI and Co-author of the New York Times bestseller, Masters of Networking

List price: $16.99

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Betabrand Makes Money by Making Fun of the Holidays

Betabrand has always been pretty weird. So it was no surprise when the San Francisco-based retailer went a little over the top with the holidays this year, sending campaigns that promoted their end-of-year sales while mocking the very idea of end-of-year sales.

"We like to make fun of the excess, the gluttony, that comes along with the holidays," says Betabrand E-commerce Analyst Elan Levin. “Christmas has become this big, fat beast. We acknowledge we’re a part of it, that we still have to participate in it, but we’re going to have fun with it."

They got started early—like, really early—with Santa Sleighs Halloween, a videogame in which Santa Claus stabs Dracula and chokes zombies. Next, they highlighted a rather non-traditional holiday.


"We’ve celebrated this for many years," Elan says of Betabrand’s Corduroy Day celebration sale. "Nov. 11 is International Corduroy Day. The 11s make vertical stripes like the pants. This moved the product line about four times more than usual over a normal day. We promote existing obscure holidays that happen to coincide with our product line, and we like to think the world is a better place for it."

As November winded down, they got ahead of one of the year’s biggest retail days:


"This is the Friday before Black Friday," Elan says of Betabrand’s Blacker-Than-Black Friday sale. "It’s just a sale on all our black clothing. We know people want traditional Black Friday sales, and you’ll get that eventually. But we’re not necessarily gonna play by the rules, and that really resonates well with our customers."

Then came December. And with it, Betabrand’s most excessive holiday excess yet.

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They kicked off an advent calendar that’s been counting down the 25 days of Christmas with 25 specials, each delivered by email, once a day, every day.

Doing excess right

"Generally speaking, our regular emails during the year are slightly crazy, long-winded, funny stories—really good editorial and visual work," Elan says. "During the holidays, we can’t do that. We have more eyes looking at our emails for fewer seconds. We have to make it really succinct as well as having a really good handshake when you click on the email to the landing page on the website. The entertainment is built into it, but we want to make it as easy as possible so you can buy, maybe laugh a little, find something worth sharing with your friends, and get on with your day."

During the rest of the year, Betabrand sends about 2-3 emails per person, per week. So before they launched their advent calendar campaign with its daily emails, they gave their subscribers a chance to opt out of the whole silly endeavor. Hundreds of people took them up on the no-advent option.

“Those are people I’m very happy not to send this promotion to," Elan says. "I’d rather have them take a month off and not lose them as opposed to what I find myself doing during the holidays: ‘Oh my god, this email burden is ridiculous. I need to unsubscribe from these people.’ When I learned that MailChimp sent 780 million emails on Cyber Monday, I wasn’t surprised, because it felt like they all hit my inbox."

Irrelevance reduced, Betabrand went all in: Big sales, little sales, giveaways, niche promotions—all in the name of overdoing it. They doled out fancy skateboards, sent a customer to Iceland. One giveaway even turned into a big seller.

"The most surprising personally has been the disco kippah," Elan explains. "We make this disco fabric, and there are plenty of Jewish, joyous events that you wear kippahs for, so we decided to make a bunch of disco kippahs and give them away on the website. Well, we quietly put it live on the site a couple days before we were going to give them away. I’m looking at the sales reports, and every day we’re selling a couple dozen of them, totally organically, even though they’re buried deep on our website. And what we realized is there’s actually a demand for these disco kippahs! Eventually, my customer service team comes to me and says someone wants 250 of them for their wedding. We didn’t produce enough of them for that! It’s just not how we expected to give them out. That’s a great example of the way Betabrand works. We’ll do this thing because we think it’s really funny, and then it grows into something we couldn’t even have imagined."

Lessons learned

Give and you shall receive. Or, in Betabrand’s case, send and you shall receive—lots and lots of data. And it’s already shaping their holiday plans for next year.

"This is a learning process," Elan says. "We have learned a lot, but we will continue to learn, and that will impact next year. It’s sort of the cadence and the rhythm with which we communicate with people during the holidays. We do a lot of internal checks to say, ok, the sale is performing like this, and the conversions are like this, so we should send a reminder in the afternoon. More so than ever before, we’re getting very analytical about when it’s worthwhile to send that next email."

This penchant for the absurd isn’t for everyone. It’s maybe not the kind of holiday tip we’d give to most of our 7.5 million users. But for Betabrand, weird totally works.

E-Mail Marketing For Dummies

E-Mail Marketing For Dummies

Updated to reflect the hottest new trends, technologies, and strategies!

Much has happened in e-mail marketing since the first edition of this book appeared in 2007. With the dramatic rise of social media and mobile devices, there are more ways than ever to target campaigns and maximize your e-mail marketing dollars. The new edition of this helpful book is full of practical advice, whether you?re an enterprise-level marketer using a third-party e-mail marketing company or small business owner handling everything yourself.

  • Helps you map out an e-mail marketing strategy with reachable objectives
  • Simplifies the process of list-building, message-creation, and results-tracking
  • Offers legal guidance, so you stay compliant with anti-spam laws
  • Shows you how to deliver your message and incorporate social media
  • Explains how to track and interpret results
  • Includes the top ten things you should not put in your messages, and much more

Get more out of your e-mail marketing campaigns with this easy-to-follow guide.

List price: $24.99

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How to Launch a Successful SMS Campaign

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Did you know that some studies show the average email is responded to in 48 hours, but the average text message is responded to within 2 minutes?

That should give you a sense of the ongoing impact SMS has on our lives.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to set-up, launch and run a successful SMS campaign, check out the infographic below brought to us by our friends at It’ll provide you all the tools, tips and techniques you need to launch your next SMS campaign.



The post How to Launch a Successful SMS Campaign appeared first on @AskJamieTurner.

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

Contagious: Why Things Catch On

New York Times bestseller and winner of the 2014 Berry-AMA Book Prize

What makes things popular? Why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral?

If you said advertising, think again. People don’t listen to advertisements, they listen to their peers. But why do people talk about certain products and ideas more than others? Why are some stories and rumors more infectious? And what makes online content go viral?

Wharton marketing professor Jonah Berger has spent the last decade answering these questions. He’s studied why New York Times articles make the paper’s own Most E-mailed List, why products get word of mouth, and how social influence shapes everything from the cars we buy to the clothes we wear to the names we give our children. In this book, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from consumer products and policy initiatives to workplace rumors and YouTube videos.

Contagious combines groundbreaking research with powerful stories. Learn how a luxury steakhouse found popularity through the lowly cheese-steak, why anti-drug commercials might have actually increased drug use, and why more than 200 million consumers shared a video about one of the seemingly most boring products there is: a blender. If you’ve wondered why certain stories get shared, e-mails get forwarded, or videos go viral, Contagious explains why, and shows how to leverage these concepts to craft contagious content. This book provides a set of specific, actionable techniques for helping information spread—for designing messages, advertisements, and information that people will share. Whether you’re a manager at a big company, a small business owner trying to boost awareness, a politician running for office, or a health official trying to get the word out, Contagious will show you how to make your product or idea catch on.

List price: $26.00

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Webinars for Small Businesses: Your Checklist for Success

There’s a reason why 62 percent of marketers use webinars – well, there’s a few of them. They’re cost-effective, convenient and arguably the most engaging way for small businesses to educate new and prospective customers. But hosting a webinar isn’t easy, especially if you’re new to the game. These tricks will put you and your small business on the road to creating AWesome webinars.

Plan ahead

Webinars require a lot of planning. First, think about logistics. Choose a webinar platform you can trust (more on that later) and get cozy with it. You’ll need to know it inside and out so you can anticipate any potential technical issues.

Next, consider your environment. Choose a place with zero background noise, because nothing will derail your webinar faster than a hyperactive shi tzu. Turn your phone off and test your microphone. Now you’re ready for your first test run!

Remember, a script is key for a successful webinar. Use it to guide you along in your test run, but don’t be afraid to make changes as you go.

Once you choose a time and date for your webinar, it’s time to get social. Use the social media, blog and email marketing trifecta to spread the word and increase engagement. On Twitter, create a hashtag exclusive to your webinar that people can use to make comments and ask questions before, during and after your webinar.

Tuesday mornings are the sweet spot, as far as webinar timing. But always take your own audience’s needs into consideration when selecting a time and date.

Speaking of questions, be prepared for anything! That means taking care of general housekeeping (like how to adjust volume and submit questions) at the beginning of your webinar, anticipating your audience’s toughest questions and preparing dummy questions just in case participation is low in your Q&A.

Finally, your webinar prep should always include the creation of a landing page to drive webinar sign ups. You can share this landing page on social and your blog to promote your webinar, and drive advertising traffic there too. Here’s an example of a webinar landing page from Heyo and AWeber.

Be mindful of content

Great content educates people by providing them with useful solutions. The same is true for webinars. If your audience includes lawyers in need of a document management solution for thousands of microfiche files (yikes!), they’re probably interested in the basics of going paperless. They’re not ready to learn about how cool your document management mobile app is. Not yet, anyway.

But they will be – if you remember your basic content rules. Speak their language, don’t be salesy and avoid jargon. If you’re introducing new concepts, give thorough explanations and real-life examples that support your points. This will help people visualize high-level ideas and lead to better questions in your Q&A.

A lot of webinars serve as how-to guides to help people understand how a certain product or service works. But even if you’re walking customers through the sign up process for your software, don’t default to sales mode and try to upsell them on feature add-ons. Your helpfulness is what will sell them on buying from you.

Like any content you deliver, remember: You’re not product pitching, you’re problem solving.

No matter what your webinar topic is, be clear on what you’re delivering from the get-go. Outline the main points you plan to cover on your webinar landing page so your audience knows exactly what they’re signing up for.

Delivery is everything. You’re the expert on your content, but your audience might not be. Pace yourself and stay focused on your topic. Make your webinar something you’d want to sign up for yourself. Energy is contagious – stay upbeat and conversational, and your audience will follow suit.

Follow up

After your webinar is complete (congratulations, by the way!), your follow up work has just begun. Here’s a cheat sheet for everything you need to include in your webinar follow up email.

  • Thank your participants.
  • Ask for feedback in a quick survey. What did they like? What can be improved?
  • Include any slides or resources mentioned that they can put to work right away.
  • Provide additional information on any new product or service you mentioned.
  • Give them a heads up on future webinars.
  • Make sure they know how to reach you.

You’ve undoubtedly delivered some killer content in your webinar, so think about how you can repurpose your most salient points. Think shorter, easy-to-digest blog posts that serve the dual purpose of education and promotion of your upcoming webinars. On social media, you can post lessons from your webinar with a link to your recorded webinar and/or blog posts.

While nobody likes listening to the recorded version of themselves (“Is that really what I sound like?!”), you’d better get used to it! You owe it to yourself and your participants to watch your recorded webinar with an eye for future improvements. Did you pace yourself? Are your explanations clear? Should you have allowed more time for Q&A? Always review, then refine.

Bonus: Webinar tools

If it’s a webinar tool you’re after, you’re in luck! AWeber integrates with these four tools.

GoToWebinar: Customized branding, HD video conferencing and archived recordings for up to 1,000 participants.
Join.Me: Unlimited audio and instant screening sharing for up to 250 people.
Fuze: 12 HD video conference streams for up to 250 people.
Meeting Burner: Mobile attendee support and instant screening sharing for up to 250 people.

With smart planning, actionable content and the right follow ups, webinars can be a powerful tool for small businesses.

Need more inspiration? Check out this recorded webinar with AWeber’s own Hunter Boyle on lead generation, and another from Hunter about maximizing your email marketing.

Do have any webinar tips and tricks of your own? Share them with us in the comments!

Using Print Ads to Drive Email Subscriptions?

email agency advertising

Those of us who work exclusively in the digital world sometimes overlook the potential of print for driving traffic online, especially for organic search hobbyists like me. That was my mindset until I recently experimented with buying print ads to get people to the Indiemark website. I ran an ad in a local, affordable business publication and saw a dramatic increase in both website traffic and email subscriptions.  I’ll admit it: I was surprised.

It’s not usual for offline marketing to direct people online. Radio ads come complete with URLs these days, and what kind of self-respecting business would do a direct mail campaign without including an email address and website? You can also be quite strategic about it, as demonstrated by this Coffee News case study published by

But of all the ways to do it, print ads seem to be a good choice, especially for us, and as the numbers below illustrate. Although these numbers are from an article published in 2012, they are still telling:

Research from Jupiter Research that looks at the influence of offline channels on online search found that 67% of online search population is driven to search by offline channels. Of that percentage, 30% come from print ads. Even more impressive is the fact that print advertising topped the list of offline media sources that led to a purchase, with 30% of search users who opened their wallet and bought online coming from a print medium.

We can drive traffic from offline to online in several different ways, but it seems paid print ads are a definite channel to consider. For me, spending the money to buy ads in a print publication in order to get people to my website—well, it seemed counter-intuitive and I wasn’t sure it would work. I got my answer though, and we’re enjoying a healthy bump in subscribers and leads as a result.

Has your business successfully used print advertising to drive leads or email subscriptions? If so, I want to hear about it!

- Scott Hardigree is Founder of Email Industries (the folks behind IndiemarkBlackBox, Formswell and Email Critic). Connect him everywhere, here.

Declutter Your Inbox: 9 Proven Steps to Eliminate Email Overload

Declutter Your Inbox: 9 Proven Steps to Eliminate Email Overload

LEARN:: How to STOP Being Overwhelmed by Email and Get to Inbox Zero Are you buried under an avalanche of email? In our fast-paced world, it’s easy to allow hundreds–even thousands–of messages accumulate in your inbox. While email can enhance your personal communication, it can also turn into a huge time sink. Let email control you and it could lead to: low productivity, stress, distraction and a lack of focus on important projects. The solution? Learn how to declutter your inbox and never again get overwhelmed by email. DISCOVER:: How the “Inbox Zero Habit” Can Stem the Tide of Email Whereas most books (and blog posts) recommend fancy technology for email management, this doesn’t solve the root problem. It’s kind of like a doctor focusing on the symptoms, not the disease. In order to do your best work in a peaceful, constructive manner, you need to develop a specific routine that focuses on email efficiency. Put simply: You need to develop a habit for processing email. In the book “Declutter Your Inbox”, you will get a nine-step plan that helps clear the email clutter–no matter how many messages you receive on a daily basis. If you are someone who only spends 20 minutes managing email, the tips in this book will cut that time in half. On the other hand, if you are a high-powered executive who spends as much as three to four hours per day managing email, this book will help you discover a number of high-leverage habits that will increase your productivity. DOWNLOAD:: Declutter Your Inbox: 9 Proven Steps to Eliminate Email OverloadDeclutter Your Inbox” contains a detailed blueprint of how to be productive while processing email. You will learn how to:

  • Read and understand the six limiting beliefs about email.
  • Write template responses and use software to handle common questions.
  • Practice the “10 rules” of writing efficient emails.
  • Organize your inbox by creating email filters.
  • Use seven tools for managing an empty inbox.
  • Create a central location for files that you typically send.
  • Practice the 4 D’s when processing emails.
  • Streamline all your inboxes into one (or two) locations.
  • Develop seven habits for managing email.

Don’t become a slave to your inbox. You can get to inbox zero by creating a powerful routine for processing email. Would You Like To Know More? Download and take control of email today. Scroll to the top of the page and select the buy button.

List price: $7.99

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