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We've written some insightful, entertaining articles that span topics from support to design to content management and beyond!




This is a headshot of Sanj Rajput.

Man looking at a computer screen with a big chain link in the middle

 

What are internal links?


Internal links are hyperlinks inside your website that lead to a page inside your website. External links are links that link to webpages outside of your website. Internal links are normally used to point to important information on your site, especially content that might be relevant to the visitor.

 

There are different types of internal links. Along with the links on your homepage, post feed, menu, etc., you can include internal links in your content. These links are known as contextual links. Contextual links are useful, and point website users to engaging and interesting content. Additionally, they help search engines find which content on your website is related and help the search engine determine its value from there.

 

The more links an important page receives, the more crucial it will seem to various search engines. This means that well-used internal links are incredibly useful to your SEO.

 

Internal vs. external links

All websites, even online storefronts, consist of internal and external links. While internal links connect posts and pages within your website, external links connect pages to different websites.

 

Why are internal links important?

Internal links are useful and important to use if you’re managing a website. Three reasons why you should be using internal links include:

 

• Helping users navigate a website more easily.

• Assisting with establishing information hierarchy for a website.

• Helping to spread ranking power – link equity – around websites.

 

Best internal link strategy

 

1. Figure out the best structure for your website

A good practice for website structure is to imagine it being organized like a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid is your homepage, then below that you would have grouped content divided into key categories. The further down you go, the more you will find individual pages that are not parts of the main content categories, but still might be important. If done properly, your website’s menu should reflect this structure.

 

It can really help to visualize your website structure if you write each page of your site on a post-it notes and then place them on a large table or wall so you can rearrange them as needed. Does that article on how to return your product belong in the Support section? Or maybe the Frequently Asked Questions page? Or perhaps you need links from both areas?

 

2. Determine what your most important content is

It’s necessary to determine what your most important website content is – your cornerstone content. To put it simply, this is your best and most complete content, and serves as the core of your business. These are the posts you want people to discover when searching for products or topics that you specialize in.

 

If you want to let Google know that this is your most important content, you should be adding multiple links from different pages on your site. That’s where contextual links come in.

 

3. Include contextual links

When you’ve accumulated multiple articles that you’ve written about a specific topic, they should be linked to each other. This will demonstrate to search engines and your users that these articles are topically related. This can be done by linking directly from sentences in your own copy or by adding links at the end of the post, or even better, from both locations.

 

4. Think about adding a related post section

Consider adding a related post section to your website. There are countless add-ons and plugins which can add complete related post sections to your posts. This can be an effective way to expand your post reach to more visitors. Think about testing it out is you use one, however. You want to make sure the related posts are actually related posts

 

If you’re unsure, then link to posts manually and put the link to that post at the bottom of the article.

 

5. Add links for hierarchical pages

If your website includes hierarchical pages, try linking parent pages to their child pages and vice versa. Also, don’t forget to link sibling pages to each other. These specific pages should be related to one another on a well-organized website, which is why connecting them makes the most sense.

 

6. Include links to your most recent posts

It’s a great habit to make sure that every time you publish a new piece of content on your site, you add links to the new content from older pages. Remember to try to make sure that when you do this, the pages that you are linking from are topically related to the new content. Google prefers if the contextual links are relevant to the topic the visitor is reading.

 

Adding internal links to your most recent content is a great way to ensure that search engine crawlers find the new content and index it when they follow the links from other pages on your website.

 

7. Add navigational links

If you want to make your cornerstone more authoritative, add links to it from the homepage or the top navigation menu. This method should be done with the pages that are the most imperative to your business. This is going to give the posts or pages on your site more value.

 

8. Insert links to your taxonomies

Taxonomies, such as tags and categories, assist in organizing a website and helping users and Google understand what your posted content is about. For example, if you have a blog, it could be helpful to add internal links to the taxonomies that post belongs to.

 

9. Input links to your most popular posts

Inputting links to your site’s most popular posts or pages is another important point to consider. You should be creating these sections in the sidebar or the footer of your website so that they show up on all pages and posts.

 

10. Anchor text

After you decide which links should be included on a page and which ones should be granted link value, it’s necessary that you incorporate the proper anchor text.

 

Your anchor text should look natural when used in your copy and you should avoid using generic terms like ‘click here’ or ‘read more’.  Generic anchor text doesn’t tell Google, or the reader, where the link is taking them. Using descriptive anchor text means that your reader knows where the link is going, and you can even include keywords to boost the value of the link with Google.

 

An example of great anchor text would be: “Let REM help you with a new business website” vs. “REM makes great websites. Click here to learn more.”

 

11. Orphaned Content and Internal Linking

Orphaned content are pages on your website that do not have any internal links connecting them. This makes it difficult for users to find, and harder for search engines to crawl. In this process, you need to determine what pages you want to be found, deleted, or optimized for search engines.

 

Conclusion:

Utilizing internal links correctly is incredibly important in optimizing the success of your website and boosting your content through search engines. If you follow the strategies and tips outlined above with the implementation of internal links, your SEO and users will thank you.

 

REM offers a robust Search Engine Optimization service that can help your site rank higher in Google Search Results. Our expert team of digital marketers will make sure that your site has the correct SEO setup and meets all of Google’s requirements. We even take care of fixing your internal links for you!

 

Speak with our Marketing Director to see if REM can help you get noticed online.

 

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This is a headshot of Sanj Rajput.

Website screen that has a thumbs down next to it

 

Your website is a critical part of your organization’s story, marketing efforts and digital presence in the big bad online world. You spend time and money creating an online experience that would attract and drive certain behaviors from your target audiences. But somehow your site has a high “bounce rate.” So, what exactly does that mean?

 

Well, a bounce, in simple terms, means people are coming to one of your web pages and leaving without staying for less than 10 seconds. While they are there, they are not clicking on any links, your Call to Action (CTA), or another page.

 

The bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who do this versus those who interact with your site. The average bounce rate falls between 41% and 55% and the ideal is 26% to 40%. Anything above and even below could mean your site has a problem and is not performing to the best of its ability.

 

To find out your site’s bounce rate look at the individual channels and pages in the behavior column of Google Analytics. If you are scoring above 55%, “Houston we have a problem,” or even worse, we have several problems. It could mean bad content, misleading descriptions, a poor navigation experience or design. Most importantly it’s a sign that users are not doing what you want them to do on your site; they aren’t converting. And this can have an impact on your SEO rankings. In fact, one industry study found a strong relationship between time on site and rankings.

 

Sometimes a website can have a naturally high bounce rate. Therefore, it can be very important to check with a digital marketing specialist who can determine the cause. For example, what if your website has a name that is very similar or identical to another company in a different industry. ‘ABC cleaners’ could be a dry-cleaning company or a window washing company.

 

Another reason for a naturally high bounce rate would be if your city or street has the same name as another place. Websites in Cambridge, Ontario will sometimes get visitors from Cambridge, Massachusetts or Cambridge, England. Those visitors will naturally bounce once they realize they are on the same page.

 

Let’s get down to business and explore some of the top reasons your site could be failing to engage your audience and causing a legitimate bounce rate issue.

 

Three words: content, content, content

With so much information on the web it’s a rare thing for someone to accidently end up on your site. People use google to search for information and visit the sites they think have it. If your content doesn’t measure up, they’re leaving. Content must meet the users’ expectations, or they will bounce to another site.

 

Following a few basic rules can help:

 

  1. Create content that matches with your visitors’ search intentions. Your website should focus on the reasons and problems a visitor may have and try to address them.
  2. Keep your phrases short. Writing for the web is quite different than writing for a printed publication. Sentences should be short and include key words to improve your SEO rankings, especially in your headings.
  3. Think about the user journey and improve internal linking. Where do you want them to go and what do you want them to do while they are on your site?
  4. Invite visitors to your call-to-actions. Make it simple and easy.
  5. Keep educating! Tell them about related blog content on your site and keep them longer.
  6. Follow good design principles. Make your page scannable with easy-to-read headers. Break up your content with engaging images. Make sure your important information is loaded and visible within 3 seconds of the page coming up.

 

Look around for an honest opinion from a colleague, a professional copywriter or even a loyal customer to review your content and adjust accordingly. You may also consider hiring a writer or a good content strategist.

 


 

REM offers content marketing and blog writing as some of our digital marketing services. Our professional writers produce content that is engaging, and you don’t have to do anything, just review it once before we post it online. Speak to your REM representative or contact our Marketing Director for a free, no-obligation conversation about how we can help.

 


 

Slow Load

Studies show the average online attention span is about 8 seconds. And on top of that, most people will leave if your site doesn’t load in less than 3.9 seconds! You don’t want your visitors to spend those precious seconds of their attention watching a throbber (the loading icon), or they’re going to bounce. There are millions of other web pages. Patience is not an online virtue.

 

Rethink whether you want that big video file to automatically play and take a closer look at those scripts. Take advice from the Google and run a Page Speed Insights test to find out their recommendations. Other tools include Lighthouse reports, Pingdom or GTmetrix. If your page is taking longer than a few seconds you need to fix it.

 

Keeping it Real

Real titles and real descriptions matter. Your title tag and meta descriptions play a key role in setting visitor expectations. When your content doesn’t line up, people bounce. Nobody likes to be misled, nor do they have time for it. Accurate titles and descriptions are necessary; consider these your first impression. If you falsely advertise, they will simply return to the search engine and go to the next best page.

 

Good meta descriptions do the following:

 

  1. Explain the organization or the purpose of the page - Provide information a user is looking for like the product or services offered, the location and operating hours.
  2. Pull direct content - Think of using a quote or perhaps the first couple of sentences that summarize the content of the page. Chances are a lot of your key words are found there.
  3. Summarize - If you primarily sharing information, Google suggests summarizing the entire page. This will give search engines more opportunities to find your page.
  4. Share differentiators - If your site is supporting a specific product, share what makes it the best in your description.

 

The lesson here is to be accurate and be descriptive. This will bring the right visitors to your site and encourage them to stay.

 

Navigation

Nothing is more frustrating than landing on a page and not being able to find the menu, the next step or good grief, the link to buy to your product. Poor design creates problems for users who want to browse your site resulting in, you guessed it, the bounce!

 

If your content is good, your titles and descriptions on point maybe it’s time to hire a designer to identify potential issues. Work with them to ensure the menu, links and any CTAs are self-explanatory and easily accessible. This will improve your user experience and your bounce rate.

 

Be friendly to the phone

Global web traffic on mobile phones has surged in recent years and as of November 2022, 60.28 percent of all web traffic came through mobile phones. If your website is not mobile friendly you are doing your organization a huge disservice.

 

Consider these common mistakes of unfriendly websites:

 

  • Content is too wide, going past the screen
  • Links are too close making them inaccessible on small screens
  • Text is too small, meaning your users are spending too much time trying to accommodate your content

 

Websites that are not optimized for mobile do not look good on mobile devices AND they probably don’t load very fast, either. Take the time to explore the site from your own mobile device or to find out how your site measures up by trying Google's mobile friendly test. Alienating the majority of web traffic is only going to increase your site’s bounce rates.

 

REM designs beautiful, user-friendly websites for businesses who want a great user-experience and a fast-loading website design.

 

Error 404

We’ve all been there and usually we give it our best effort and click that link a few times just to be sure. If your bounce rate is really, really high, with visitors only spending a few seconds on the page, chances are they’ve hit a blank page or 404 error message.


To replicate a user’s experience try looking at the page from popular browsers, Safari on desktop and Chrome on mobile. Then find the time or expertise to help you fix broken links, errors, and ensure those blank pages stop your visitors from bouncing.

 

Don’t ask for the kitchen sink

Only ask for what you really need. If you try to collect too much information from your visitors,’ they will bounce! Requesting maiden names, social security numbers and financial information will deter people from staying on the site. People are wary and they have the right to be with the number of online phishing scams out there. The SlashNext State of Phishing report found over 255 million attacks in over six months in 2022 alone! 

 

Take the time to build trust and inform your users. If they stay and learn, your bounce rate will go down and your SEO rankings will go up.

 

Never ignore your bounce rate

How long someone stays on a page can help you determine the success or failure of a website. SEO isn’t just about key words, titles and tagging. It’s about strategic content and design, navigation, and most importantly engagement. Just think about how much time, energy and money went into building your site. Start with those critical pages and try a few improvements. Check back in a few weeks and see if they’re making a difference.

 

You want to know that those efforts are paying off and you’re living up to your visitors’ expectations. Monitoring your bounce rate can be a simple and effective way to take your site to the next level!

 


 

If you don’t have the time to do this yourself, or in-house, speak to your REM representative or our Marketing Director so our expert team can help take this off your plate. You can then focus on running your business and helping clients, while we take care of making sure people can find you online.

 

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This is a headshot of Sanj Rajput.

A business woman analyzing and thinking of ideas

 

For many Entrepreneurs and small business owners the New Year and end of the previous one can be the busiest and most stressful time of the year. Most of the time you are too busy worrying about the upcoming year that you forget to take a moment and breathe.

 

There are so many things to think about as the year ends and the next one begins that it can often be hard to find your footing. Remembering to take a step back and truly think about everything that needs to be done for the coming year can help you be more successful.

 

Every year there are things you need to go over and think about to make your business run smoothly. Whether that be budgeting, making a yearly plan, setting sales projections, or simply brainstorming marketing ideas, it can all seem very overwhelming.

 

Before you start feeling too overwhelmed, here are our Top 5 Ideas for a Successful Entrepreneur to start off the new year:

 

1. Reflect

Let’s start off with something very simple. As you approach the end of every year, you need to remember to look back on the past year and reflect. Take some time right before the holiday break or as soon as you get back, to review the major statistics from the previous year.

 

Take a look at everything from budget to sales to team motivation, everything counts. Looking back on the previous year may seem obvious or unimportant, but it can be the most important part of moving into the new year. By looking back at everything you did right and wrong from the last year you are then able to move forward into the new one with a better plan.

 

Reflecting is a way of improving, because how can you improve if you don’t look back and think about what you have already done. Finding out where you went wrong will allow you to fix that and make improvements for the future. It goes the other way as well. Finding out what you did right can also help you improve, by either repeating what you have already done or further improving upon it to make it better for the future. Reflection is always important but when it comes to making sure your business runs better, it can be the most important thing of you do.

 

2. Think Long Term

Thinking long term, like reflecting, may seem obvious, however it is also often forgotten. Too often people only think in the short term, “I need to get this done this week” or “This project is due at the end of the month”. However, they forget to think in the long term, and it can cause them to run into problems further down the road.

 

As the new year begins try and make a long-term plan for the entire year. Make a three-month, six-month, nine-month, and twelve-month plan as soon as the new year begins. Layout everything that needs to be done by those time periods for the entire year, that way you can avoid issues down the road. With a small business everything can move either very slowly or very quickly and sometimes things can change instantly. So, making sure you have a plan for the entire year if not longer can allow you time to plan or correct for those changes. It also ensures that you stay on track for the year and aren’t veering off course for side projects or minor details that are unimportant. Your plan for the year will allow you to stay focused and have a clear outlined goal going forward into the new year.

 

3. Budget

Going over your yearly budget is something everyone must do, but it can often be lost under everything else to do. Often it is easy to slip into a pattern of simply repeating everything from the previous year, but we often forget that things can change. Going back every year and looking at your budget from the previous year as well as your profits and what you expect for the coming year is a great way to improve your business.

 

Sometimes it can be easy and maybe even smart to reuse the same budget year after year. But sometimes we need to take a step back and re-evaluate. Our business won’t always make the same amount every year in sales and other things like expansions and progress can also affect what our new budget needs. Taking that extra time to go over everything from the previous year and planning out a new budget for the coming one can greatly improve the success of your business. You don’t always have to have a big budget, but it is smart to have one and to make sure there is room to wiggle if the plan needs to change.

 

4. Team Building

As the new year begins and the old one ends everyone is coming back from their vacations and starting to get back into the swing of things. Often many small business owners forget to check in on their team as the year begins as everything is taking up so much of their time. However, checking in or even having a team building day can greatly improve moral for the coming year and help everyone get back into the flow of work.

 

Your team is the most essential part of your business, because without them you have no business. Making sure that they are okay and happy can help your business run smoothly and create an overall better work environment for everyone. Take the time at the end of the year or the start of the new one to check up with your team, see how they are doing, where you can improve, or what they need to be happier. Ask them questions and make improvements to help them and yourself. A lot of times our teams have some great ideas on how to improve the business that often go forgotten or unknown because we forget to ask. Make sure you are taking the time to ask and genuinely implement those improvements; you will see a big up-take in morale with your time.

 

Take the time when you get back to plan a team building day. It will help everyone get reacquainted with each other and the workplace. Allowing everyone to just have a day when they get back to just relax and blow off some steam and have some fun can greatly improve the work your team does for the new year.

 

Often, we forget that our teams need breaks too and time to improve, and that their improvement and happiness affects us and the success of our business. You aren’t the only one experiencing stress from the new year, your employees are too. Remember to give them the time to relax and readjust to working again and the new workload for the year. So, take the time to ask them some questions, check in, and give them sometime to cool off and get back into the swing of things as the new year begins. This will make everyone happier and healthier.

 

5. Self-Care

With all the craziness and stress that comes with the new year we can often get overwhelmed with everything we need to do and forget about ourselves. The well being of the business will always come first especially in the new year when everything is up in the air and all over the place. However, your well-being also needs to be a priority. Yes, your business is your number one focus, but how can your business run smoothly if you don’t.

 

Take the extra time in the new year to think about what you need personally. Take a break or a day off and just relax. Take the time to focus on yourself and what you personally need to run at 100%. If that means taking a day off and going for a run or hitting up a spa than that’s fine as long as you are working on yourself. We often forget that we matter too and that our mental health and physical health can play a big role in our success. If we aren’t running at 100%, how can we expect our businesses to.

 

As the year begins take some time to catch up with friends, go to the gym, have dinner with family, or simply read that book you’ve been putting off. Simply do whatever you need to in order to make sure you are happy and healthy. There will be a noticeable difference in how you work and how your business works when you take the time to self-improve and self-care.

 

Take some time to plan for self-care, block in dinner dates, days off, or work outs it’s all up to you. Just make sure you are taking the time to set aside time for yourself and your loved ones, that way you are keeping yourself happy and healthy. Often it can seem selfish to take time off for ourselves rather than focusing on the business but you need to remember you matter too and if you aren’t happy your business won’t be either.

 

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A woman's hand on top of a brown notebook with holiday decorations around it

 

Every New Year is a chance to make change! We’ve all made resolutions before, to start walking, eat healthier or spend more time with friends. Well, what about resolutions for your small business?

 

Never has there been a better time to start something new. The pandemic threw all of us a few curve balls and we had to adapt. Some of those changes worked then and don’t work now. Some may have improved your business, bringing new opportunities for growth and efficiencies.

 

The dictionary defines a new year’s resolution as “a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.” Now, its not up to us to tell you what to STOP doing, so we’ve focused on some positives things you can choose to START.

 

Taking time to reflect and looking for ways to improve are great ways to kick off a new year of business. Pick one, or three, or do them all.

 


 

Here are 11 things to try in 2023.

 

1. Refresh that Business Plan

Every good business plan lays the foundation for those first few years. But it’s not meant to last forever. How many things have changed for your market, your customers, your production cycle? Refreshing your plan also means you have an opportunity to set new goals and really stretch for that next milestone.

 

This is literally the first step in your annual business checkup. It can bring clarity to your vision, pull people together and redefine your growth.

 

2. Get in touch with your Brand

A good reputation goes a long way. What do your customers think about your product? What do your employees think? Knowing who you are, and your business’ differentiators helps define your voice, look, and feel, and marketing strategies. Pull out the white board, some coffee, and snacks. Gather the best and brightest in your company and spend an afternoon rediscovering your brand.

 

77% of consumers purchase products because of the brand name! Your brand can communicate quality, customer service and trust. Most importantly it can help you stand out from the competition. Learn more about the power of brand.

 

3. Check in with your customers

Every business has a few repeat or loyal customers. Invite them out for a coffee and ask about their latest experience with your people, your services or product. Their perspective can inform your business plan, marketing strategy and even your brand. After all they keep coming back, so in their mind you are doing something right.

 

Ask them why, and if they’ve tried any of your competitors and what they didn’t like about their business. This can provide insight into your company’s differentiators, and help you define your business.

 

4. Spend time building your Marketing Strategy

Many of these resolutions are intertwined. Your business plan, brand discussion and customer feedback can all roll up into a new or updated marketing strategy. Ultimately your strategy identifies who your target audiences are and markets your product(s) in a way that fulfills your customers’ needs. Your marketing strategy will determine the best ways to reach your customers, whether its online, in-person or maybe even print.

 

Ultimately you want to review what you have done to date and see what worked. Maybe try some A B testing or a new tactic you’ve never done before. Just be sure to set realistic goals that you can measure.

 

5. Put Digital First

If the pandemic taught us anything its that our online presence matters. It’s a powerful first impression and a versatile tool for marketing and sales. When’s the last time you refreshed your web content? Learning how to optimize your web pages can make an enormous difference in getting your site to the top spot of a Google search. Plus, it’s easier than you think. Commit to learning about SEO and take a fresh look at your web copy.

 

If you don’t have the time to take on learning more about SEO or improve your digital marketing on your own, REM can help. Contact your REM Sales Rep or Customer Success Team and let them know you’re interested in talking with our Marketing Director about how REM can help you get noticed online.

 

Then ask yourself is your website mobile friendly? In 2021, 58% of all online visits came from a smartphone, so if your website isn’t mobile responsive think of how many customers you are potentially losing. This is worth outsourcing and ensuring that all of your digital content works for mobile devices.

 

6. Get busy on Social

Social media organic and paid ads work. 90% of Instagram users follow a business and with over 1.3B users that’s a lot of potential customers. LinkedIn can also be a strong resource for employee recruitment and hits to your website. Over 46% of all social media traffic to company websites come from users on LinkedIn! If you are a small company and haven’t bother creating a LinkedIn business profile, you are alienating your customers and your future employees. The first thing job searchers do after looking at a post is check out LinkedIn. Not convinced yet? Take a quick read Social Media Marketing Statistics for 2022.

 

Start small and start smart. Check out your competition and see what channels they are using and what kinds of content they share. Then pick one platform and commit to doing it well. Once you build a social media strategy and produce regular content then you can repurpose and reshare over multiple social platforms.

 

7. Consider outsourcing

We can’t all be experts in every aspect of our business. Sometimes the learning curve alone can steal away invaluable time better spent elsewhere. Consultants and freelancers can provide critical services to help your small business tackle the next step in your company’s evolution. Consider parceling out portions of projects to save costs or asking for help with the strategy and implementing the work yourself. Or dare we say barter products and services? Its an old school practice that the taxman doesn’t like but it sure helps get the job done.

 

Finding a collaborator from outside of your company, can provide objectivity and even innovative ideas. They can expand your professional network and connect you to best practices. Sometimes they even connect you to your next best customer.

 

8. Prioritize your People

It’s getting harder and harder to find and keep good people. Older members of the workforce are retiring on mass and younger generations are wanting more than just a paycheck to stick around. The pandemic has shown us that working virtually, and hybrid models can provide a better work life balance. If your business can offer some flexibility, consider asking your employees what works for them and building a new policy together.

 

This might also be a suitable time to do a pulse check on your company culture. A negative work environment can create low employee engagement, higher absenteeism, and reduced productivity. Take advantage of free online survey tools like Survey Monkey or Lucky Orange and find out you can make your workplace a happy place.

 

9. Document your Business

If your business is small or new you may not have had time to formalize how you do business. And while they make work for a while, in the long run it will hamper your growth. Ever heard that expression “If I get hit by a bus tomorrow….” When only one person knows how the business, or even part of your business works, you are vulnerable.

 

By documenting your processes, you leave a trail of information for current and future employees. You also pave the way for continuous improvement.

 

10. Spring isn’t the only season to Clean

We’re not talking about Feng shui here just a little cleaning and organizing. For many businesses, the post-holiday season can be slow, offering a chance to catch up and clean up from a busy year. Look around the office, are all your plants alive? Have you wiped down that keyboard lately?

 

What about your web servers and iCloud storage? Organizing those files and tidying up your finances will make tax time a lot easier in a couple of months.

 

11. The Daily wind down.

We already talked about that business plan but setting a new routine for your personal workload can save time and improve efficiency. Get in the habit of spending 15 minutes before you leave for the day making a list for tomorrow. You’ll be surprised at how many tasks you may have missed will find their way back on your agenda. Never mind the sense of purpose and focus you’ll have with that morning coffee.

 

Once you’ve established that daily habit, take it to the next level! Start planning your week and then month. You’ll be amazed how quickly good work habits translate to the bigger business picture.

 


 

A new year brings new possibilities and hopefully new customers! If anything over the past few years the world has taught us to be nimble, to embrace the change we can’t control. Businesses are organizations made up of people, and no one person is like another. Tap into yours and find out which resolution fits their skill set best. As the saying goes, divide, and conquer, and you may just discover how strong your small business really is.

 

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This is a headshot of Sanj Rajput.

People having fun in a holiday office party

 

Every year, usually at the last minute, business owners and employees begin to wonder about what they will do this year for the office holiday party. Trying to plan and work around everyone’s different schedules can be challenging especially if you leave it till the last minute. However, with enough time in advance and some good ideas you can pull off a fun holiday party for employees to remember for years to come.

 

Here are some great ideas for your next small business holiday party, several of which have been tested and approved by our team here at REM. Whether you want to focus on food, going out, staying in the office, going virtual, or staying on a budget, we have some great ideas for you.

 

Food Centered

Food is always the center of most if not all holiday celebrations. Food helps bring everyone together and is a great way to make a lot of people happy all at once. It allows people to come together and share a meal and chat or just have some small testers while enjoying other parts of the party.

 

Cultural Potluck

Potlucks have always been a great way to have a budget friendly holiday party and a great way for people to show off some of their favourite foods. As the holidays are filled with so many different cultural celebrations, a cultural potluck may be a great way to celebrate them all. It would allow your employees to bring food from their own culture and share a bit about themselves and the importance of the dish. It’s a great way to introduce new cultures and new foods to each other and it’s also a great way to allow your employees to get to know each other a little better.

 

Cookie Decorating

Cookie decorating is always a fan favourite and once again is another budget friendly idea. Simply buying or baking two dozen cookies and grabbing some icing and sprinkles is a cheap and easy way to have fun with a group of people. It works great as something simple thing to do over your lunch break on the last day before the holiday break or as a small part of a larger celebration. People get to make cookies how they like them and eat a lot of sugar and who doesn’t like that?

 

Pie Baking Contest

It seems that pie is always a favourite around the holiday season and brings up a lot of childhood memories for a lot of people. So maybe try doing a pie baking contest as your holiday party. You can either bake the pies in person at the office or in advance at home. It’s another fun way for people to share what they love and share a little bit more about themselves and why they love the pie they chose. It might also be fun to have the boss judge the pies, or a panel of employees depending on the size of your company.

 

Dinner Party

A dinner party may not be your first choice or the most budget friendly, however, it can always be a great choice. If you are in the camp of wanting to spend a little more, you can always treat your employees by going out to a nice restaurant for a great meal and some great conversation. If you want to save a bit of money but still want to have a nice, classy dinner, you could always suggest that your employees could pay for part of it. You could also just have the party at the office, bring in a bunch of chairs and tables or use the conference room and hire a caterer, which could save you a bit of money. A dinner party no matter what option you go with is a great way to celebrate the passing year and can also be a nice way to get the spouses of your employees involved as well. Sharing a meal is simply a great way to celebrate with people.

 

Naughty or Nice Hot Chocolate

Like cookie decorating, this idea is something small to simply do over lunch or as a small part of a larger celebration. Hot chocolate bombs have been very popular in the past few years around the winter season as it is a fun way to make one of the most classic holiday drinks. Naughty or nice hot chocolate bombs are a great way to put a more Christmas spin on the drink. You simply fill the bomb with red or green sprinkles and then decorate them identically on the outside. Then you get to pick one and see if you were “naughty or nice” this year. It’s a great way to bring in a little bit of holiday cheer and bring out your inner child.

 

In Office

Food is great and all but sometimes you need to do something other than just eat for your holiday party. As more and more companies are going back into the office, they are beginning to throw in-office parties again. In-office parties can be a great idea as it saves on money, and it allows you to do it whenever you want. You can even have a smaller party during lunch or have a half day of work and spend the end of the day partying. Choosing an in-office party might be the best choice for your small business.

 

White Elephant/Secret Santa

White Elephant and Secret Santa are classic holiday party games and a great way to spread some holiday cheer. If you don’t already know, both games are a sort of gift exchange with a budget. Normally you get a budget of about $15 to $30 dollars.

 

For Secret Santa, each person picks a name out of a hat or bowl and is tasked with buying a gift for that person and they are not allowed to tell anyone else or ask for help as it will ruin the secret. Sometimes, depending on how well everyone knows each other, people may provide a small list of things they like so you have an idea of what to buy.

 

For White Elephant, no one picks a name or anything you each just go out a buy a random, normally holiday themed gift. Then at the party everyone sits in a circle and places their gifts in the middle and then one by one you pick a number out of a hat and then that’s the order in which you can pick a gift from the middle. Once you pick a gift you open it and then everyone has three chances to “steal” from someone else and trade their gifts.

 

They both involve a lot of laughs and a lot of fun and can be a great way to have a fun budget friendly in person party.

 

Movie Night

Movie nights have always been a favourite for many people because who doesn’t like movies? Historically most people will rent out a whole theatre for their company and go and see the latest movie with all their family as well. However, renting out a whole theater isn’t always an option for everyone as it can be pricey. An in-office movie night may be a great idea instead. Clear out the conference room and use a projector screen and make some popcorn. You can invite families as well or just keep it to staff. Another great way to get your employees involved is to get them to vote on a movie to watch or combine it with the cultural potluck. It’s a great way for everyone to relax right before the holidays and watch a fun classic.

 

Vintage Video or Board Games

Board games and video games have always been a great way to spend an afternoon. Vintage games are even better. Get your employees to vote or bring in their favourite classic game from when they were kids and enjoy playing them all together. It’s something fun for everyone to enjoy and allows everyone to get to know each other a little better. It can also be a great budget idea or great for those small businesses or teams.

 

Holiday Tradition Show and Tell

Show and tell may seem like something only first graders do, however, it can be way more fun as an adult. Now that you are older you can tell people more about what you are bringing in and truly articulate to them the significance of it. A holiday tradition, show and tell can be a great way to bring together everyone’s different cultures. You get to share what your traditions are, and it allows everyone to get to know each other a little better. You could also double it up with the cultural potluck, have everyone bring in a dish from their cultural holiday and tell everyone else a little bit about it and its significance.

 

Virtual Parties

The world may be opening a bit more these days but that doesn’t mean that everyone is back in the office or is comfortable being around so many people for a party. In order to include everyone, consider having a virtual party. They can be a great way to celebrate the holidays together as a company but also allow everyone to feel safe and cared for. Most of these virtual ideas can double as in person ideas so don’t feel restrained by the category, they are in.

 

Game Show

Game shows or quizzes are popular and can be a great way to test your knowledge. A little bit of friendly competition is always encouraged so why not bring that into your holiday party. Having a holiday themed game show night can be a great way to get into the holiday spirit and give everyone a great time. Whether you do trivia, the price is right, or jeopardy everyone will have a great time. Make it even more fun by having your boss be the host and announcer.

 

Karaoke

Karaoke, like many others, is a classic of the office holiday party, so why not continue to do it just online instead. Since you don’t need to be in the same room as other people to sing, why not have virtual karaoke. Make it even more fun by using a random song generator or try and do a duet with someone over zoom. It can be a simple and fun way to bring some holiday cheer without having to leave the safety of your home.

 

Ugly Sweater Making

Everyone has a love hate relationship with ugly sweaters and they can be divisive. However, making them is always fun. Trying to cobble together an ugly holiday sweater from random stuff you have around the house, or a gift box of supplies can be a great way to get everyone into the festive spirit. It can also be a great budget-friendly idea. Either have everyone just try and use things from around their house or head to the dollar store and pick up some basic materials for everyone to use and drop them off or have them pick up a “DIY holiday Sweater Box." That way everyone has the same supplies. Then over a zoom call make them together under a time limit and then show them off and take a vote over who’s is best.

 

Don’t forget the holidays are meant to be a time of fun and celebration that brings people together. So go out and join our team here at REM and have a great office holiday party and use some fun ideas to make it one to remember.

 

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Man writing in a Holiday card

 

The holidays are just around the corner, and many business owners, office managers, and marketing and communications teams are starting to think about whether or not they should send Christmas cards to their clients this year. The answer to that question is almost always YES!

 

While sending a Christmas greeting is a nice gesture, not all holiday cards are created equal. Therefore, there are several considerations to think about before you create your cards and send them off either in print or digitally.

 

Of course, you want your holiday cards to be well received by everyone on your list. That’s why we have provided some answers to the top questions many people have about sending holiday cards to their customers. Continue reading below to see our recommendations.

 

Should You Send Holiday Cards to Clients?

Decades ago, it was not uncommon for households to receive large stacks of cards that they proudly displayed around the home during the holidays and into the new year. Most people took great pride in selecting their cards, double-checking their mailing lists, crafting thoughtful greetings, and mailing out their cards on time.

 

Households could also count on receiving a card from their friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, and the organizations in which they held membership or conducted business. Fast forward to today, and it is rare to receive fun, feel-good, and thoughtful things via snail mail. It is now a treat to receive a letter or card that you weren’t expecting!

 

Is sending holiday cards outdated?

While you may think that sending a holiday card is outdated or inappropriate in our increasingly digital world, the fact that Christmas cards are now less common creates an excellent opportunity for your business. Receiving mail that is not junk or bills is now special, and most people like knowing that you appreciate their business and value the relationship with them. Something as simple as sending a card can go a long way toward customer loyalty and trust, so it is almost always a communications task worth investing in.

 

What if my clients do not celebrate Christmas?

One exception to sending cards will be if your audience does not celebrate holidays in December. In those cases, it could be seen as rude or out of touch. However, some of the tips below may still be helpful to you and your business. Simply apply them to a different holiday or time of year that is more appropriate for your clients. When in doubt, you can consider sending a Happy New Year greeting in January and focus on well-wishes for the new calendar year, rather than picking just one holiday or time of year to acknowledge.

 

Should You Send Digital or Print Holiday Cards to Clients?

If you have decided to send out a holiday greeting to your customers this year, you will next need to think about whether a digital or print card is more appropriate for your organization and your audience. Which format you ultimately choose is a matter of budget and personal preference, as well as what you think will resonate most with your unique audience.

 

When to opt for a printed Christmas card 

Print holiday cards are tangible and easy for your client to put on a table in the staff lounge or display in a lobby for longer periods. Print cards are also less likely to go into the trash as quickly as a mail merge greeting in an email inbox.

 

In addition, there is just something special about knowing someone took the time and effort required to send you a good, old-fashioned holiday greeting. Just make sure you take the time to write the cards and address the envelopes by hand.

 

If you have the budget for printing and shipping, this may be a suitable option for you!

  

When to consider a digital Christmas card

On the other hand, there are cases where spending funds on printing and mailing could be frowned upon by your audience. For example, if you are an environmental or green brand (or you have made a public statement to reduce your impact on the environment and climate), a digital greeting may be more well-received. Obviously, using paper resources and increasing your carbon footprint to send physical cards would be very off-brand for you, so a digital option may be more appropriate.

 

Another example where digital cards may be ideal is if you are a non-profit or charity that relies on donations. Donors give because they want to help the cause they care about. While they recognize that all businesses have administrative costs, they would likely prefer a digital greeting thanking them for their generosity and highlighting some of the ways you are fulfilling your mission, thanks to them.

 

Lastly, a digital Christmas card may work best for you if you would like to include a video of your founder or other media that aligns with your brand. Print cards have limited space, but a digital card gives you more freedom. For example, you may wish to include a funny video of your small staff team dressed as elves or record a heartfelt holiday video of you sitting with your family in front of the Christmas tree.

 

Key takeaways

No matter which holiday card format you choose, keep your audience, brand, and budget in mind, and be sure to craft a message that is genuine. 

 

What Should You Write in a Christmas Card to a Client?

A year from now, your clients likely will not recall which picture you selected for the cover of your printed Christmas card. They also will not think about the exact words you chose to include in your message. However, they will surely remember how your greeting made them feel. Their gut reaction when they open your card and read your sentiments will be the deciding factor for whether they felt the warm fuzzies or were put off. So, how do you ensure you craft the perfect holiday message?

 

Crafting a short holiday greeting

When writing a message for your Christmas cards to clients, short and sweet will usually do the trick in a printed card, provided you take the time to include a personalized handwritten note too.

 

  • Consider including messages like:
  • From our family to yours, we wish you a joyous holiday season and a happy New Year.
  • Happy Holidays from all of us at !
  • Seasons Greetings from
  • Eat, drink, and be merry! Happy Holidays from all of us at !

 

Be creative or stick with a classic greeting depending on your brand and your audience. Don't forget to handwrite your client's name and add a short, personal message. For example, if you know your customer personally, say something like: "John, wishing you, Cathy, and your girls a very Merry Christmas. May you enjoy all the blessings of the season. ~ Cheryl, Danny, and Judy."

If you have a less personal relationship with your client, opt to handwrite a note like: “Dear John, Wishing you and yours a very Happy Holiday and a prosperous 2023. We have enjoyed working with you this year and greatly appreciate your business. ~ Cheryl and the ‘your business name’ Team.”

 

Opting for a longer printed greeting

If you have a very lengthy mailing list or would prefer to have a longer greeting printed on each card, put pen to paper to add the client's name. You can also include a short, handwritten note like: "Happy Holidays!" or "Merry Christmas, John!" for a small, personal touch.

 

Longer printed messages may look like:

  • “Happy Holidays from our family to yours. Thank you for supporting our small business this year. Clients like you are why we love doing what we do. We are so grateful for how you have helped us grow. We can’t wait for all that 2023 has in store! ~ The Jones Family – Bill, Karen, Jody, and Taylor.”

 

With the tips and ideas above, consider which type of greeting will work best for you and your audience. Whether you choose a short and sweet printed message with a longer handwritten note, or prefer the longer general greeting with some quick personal touches, a genuine, thoughtful sentiment will be most appreciated.

 

Conclusion

Sending holiday cards is the perfect opportunity to stay top of mind with your customers and continue strengthening your relationships. Whether you opt to send your Christmas greeting in print or digital form, investing time and money into holiday cards is a worthwhile option for most businesses.

 

Opt for printed cards if you have some funds to work with and feel your audience would appreciate receiving a thoughtful piece of mail. Stick to a digital greeting if you are an eco-friendly brand, your budget is tight, you rely on donor funds to cover administrative costs, or you wish to include additional media in your card.

 

Regardless of which format you choose, add some personal touches where you can, and be sure to craft a greeting that feels authentic to you. After that, all that's left to do is design your card, make your list (and check it twice), and send out your well-crafted seasons greetings to your customers!

 

Start the New Year Off Strong with REM Web Solutions

The new year is the perfect time to think about evaluating your business’ existing marketing and communications strategy. Consider reaching out to our team at REM Web Solutions to talk about how to optimize your website and streamline your digital marketing in 2023!   

 

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“We’ll circle back to this after the holidays."

 

You’ve probably heard this phrase used time and time again in your corporate environment. For many, the month of December is a signal to wrap up outstanding projects in between crossing Christmas gifts off of your list and putting up the beloved “Out of Office” email signature before heading off to celebrate the holidays with your loved ones.

 

We get it. December is a hectic month as is, and sometimes networking or building professional relationships can take a back burner (if it makes it onto the stove at all!). We’d like to go against the grain and suggest that the holidays are the ideal time to check in with your network and see how everyone is doing. Not only will this warm up any dormant relationships that fall to the wayside amid busy schedules, but it can be of great benefit to your career as well.

 

The most successful individuals make a habit of always networking or prioritizing professional relationship-building in their calendars. Take Dr. Jon Cohen, the Executive Chairman of BioReference Lab, for example. He makes it a point to reach out to his network once a quarter and keep the lines of communication ongoing. While this may seem forced, sometimes having these reminders in your calendar can keep your priorities top of mind. As we know, life and work are hectic, and things often fall by the wayside unless we prioritize them.

 

Humans are creatures that benefit from relationships and building communities. These interactions not only bring us closer together, enhance our communication abilities, and give us the opportunity to collaborate on various projects but also greatly benefit our professional lives and careers.

 

Unsure of where to start, especially during the holidays? We’ve put together five ways for you to thoughtfully (and this is key!) connect with your community during the holiday season.

 

1. Take the opportunity to connect

 

What better time than the end of the year to wish someone “Happy Holidays” and hear what the past year held for them professionally and personally? The holidays offer a great platform for thoughtful connection, so take it as the opportunity that it is.

 

The holidays are the perfect reason to send a non-committal email to someone, which serves to reignite lines of communication. Consider adding an update on what you have been up to or hope to accomplish. Be sure not to ask for anything and avoid being transactional in your communication. You can always send a photo or link to an interesting article you know they would find interesting. Better yet, consider adding something personal to them that you remember from past conversations. These interactions will go a long way to keep this professional relationship strong in the future.

 

2. Make your connection memorable

 

Although the holidays are a natural time to connect with your network, they can also become cookie-cutter practices in the corporate world. If you really want to stand out in your communication, try something different.

 

“Whatever you do, make sure your outreach to your network stands apart from the norm,” shares Andy Lopata, a global expert in business network strategy and author of Connected Leadership. “If everyone is sending cards, don’t. Save that for another time when it will mean more. Instead, pick up the phone or send a truly personal and meaningful message in a note or voice note. Personalize, don’t generalize. Make your connection memorable.”

 

Andy Lopata is right. Nobody wants their email inbox bombarded with multiple versions of the same corporate holiday messaging. Find ways to connect in a genuine way. If you enjoy baking, consider making a few extra batches and hand-delivering them to the contacts you’d like to make a memorable connection with. In the age of digital connection, writing and mailing a holiday card would also go a long way.

 

Thinking outside of the box and finding ways to personalize your connection really will ensure that your gesture doesn’t go unnoticed — or worse, in the spam folder.

 

3. Attend holiday parties

 

Whether the invitation is for a virtual or in-person event, prioritize attending as many of these holiday parties as possible. You never know who you might meet and how these brand-new acquaintances could completely change the course of your career. Even if attending holiday parties and having to make small talk over the boardroom punch bowl makes you uncomfortable, step outside your comfort zone and come prepared with a few conversation topics.

 

Remember — the goal of networking is to have a contact who remembers who you are and what you do. Meaning, the more contacts you meet, the greater your chances of finding someone who can help you find promising opportunities. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist specializing in adult development and Associate Professor of Human Development at the University of Virginia, talks about the importance of “weak ties” in her book, The Defining Decade. Weak ties are individuals, sometimes mere acquaintances, in your social networks who are likely to be more influential for your career than your close friends and peers. You never know where you might meet the person responsible for skyrocketing your career — dare we say by the appetizers?

 

So, whether virtual or in-person, accept all holiday invites this year. You will not regret putting on your party face and confidently making new connections.

 

4. Make the most out of family gatherings

 

Some of the best connections happen organically, say, over a plate of Christmas dinner with your family. One moment you’re talking about your little nephew’s hockey tournaments and next thing you know; Aunt Susan is sharing about a new project at her work and the fact that her team will be expanding to meet their new goals. Voila!

 

Family holiday parties are a great — and often overlooked — way to expand your professional network or search for a different job in a comfortable setting.

 

“The holiday season is the best time to explore your ‘weak ties’—aka people you might not have previously considered as members of your network, but you’re loosely connected to, such as a friend of your parents, or your brother’s girlfriend,” says Kate Gremillion, founder of Mavenly + Co., a New Orleans-based personal and professional development company.

 

Just as we mentioned above, we all have individuals in our professional and personal networks that come into our paths for various reasons. It’s important to keep these relationships warm and engaged because you never know who might help you get a step up in your career and vice versa.

 

5. Put your most professional foot forward

 

If the thought of changing career paths or companies soon has been at the back of your mind, there is no better time to take action than the holiday season. While most people mentally check out come December, those keen to advance their career know that putting their most professional foot forward can make a big impact this time of year.

 

For some companies, it’s true that hiring slows in November and December. It’s the end of the fiscal year and most of a company’s budget has been spent, people are on vacation, and teams are scrambling to meet their yearly goals.

 

“November and December happen to be great times to get the job search started”, says Cheryl E. Palmer, founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based executive coaching firm Call to Career. “Employers go into turbo-charge hiring mode right after the holidays, so job seekers can position themselves to be on an employer's shortlist when they are deciding who to call in for interviews.”

 

A little forward-thinking and planning right before the holidays can mean starting a new year with fresh opportunities and potentially even a pay increase.

 

The holiday season is the ideal time to thoughtfully connect with your professional network and maintain those working relationships. Whether that be through a memorable gesture, attending a holiday event or building a connection while passing the potatoes at your family gathering, there are ample opportunities to ensure your efforts go the extra mile.

 

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Email marketing is an attractive, simple, and effective strategy for entrepreneurs to grow their business, sell a product or service, or connect with their customers in a genuine way. Not only is it relatively low cost, but it is simple to create in a short lead time (we’ve all been there!), the results are easy to measure and the impact it can have on your engagement with your customers is tangible. All of this, of course, if done well.

 

Through our research, we learned that 61% of consumers prefer to be contacted through email, that 99% of users check their email every day and that for every $1 spent, email marketing has an ROI of $42. Those are promising numbers!

 

A successful email marketing campaign includes planning, audience segmentation, personalization, and a strong call to action. Above all, the most essential thing is that a genuine connection needs to be made between the sender and the receiver. It is through relatable, thoughtful, and valuable content that your emails will be opened and engaged with time and time again. Otherwise, you can risk your carefully crafted email ending up in the spam folder, or worse, unsubscribed from.

 

To prevent that from happening, below are ten tried-and-true ways to genuinely stand out in your customers’ inboxes.

 

1. Create relatable content

 

A powerful and impactful email campaign goes beyond numbers (though measuring those is certainly important) and aims to add value to the customer. It is often forgotten that customers do not owe anyone their attention — it is earned.

 

“Permission is earned through quality content and offers, genuine interest in and deep understanding of consumer preferences/needs, and a consistent track record that builds trust. Keep the trust, keep the permission, keep the customer. It’s not just the volume or brilliance of content that matters, it’s how that content relates to them. If content is not relevant, it’s nothing more than a waste of your time and a reason for the consumer to take away permission for ongoing interaction with you.” explains Ted Rubin.

 

Relatable content depends on who your audience is and what they deem valuable. If your brand promotes selling sustainable products, one way to empower and educate customers is to provide them with further information or research about climate change and why their purchase would make a difference. If you are a lifestyle YouTuber and your brand focuses on motherhood and home living, one way to provide value would be to showcase time-saving hacks or meal-planning ideas. In short, anything that you share with your audience that could better their livelihood, empower them to make a change, save them time or money, or simply provide them with comfort or wisdom is relatable and valuable in their eyes.

 

2. Keep subject lines short

The purpose of the subject line is to grab the customer’s attention. Email subject lines will get cut off if they are too long, particularly on mobile devices. We know that 46% of opened emails happen on mobile devices, so using short subject lines with fewer than 50 characters ensures that people scanning their emails will open yours. Also, stay away from clickbait titles. Not only will it leave a sour aftertaste in your customers' mouths, but it will also dilute your credibility as a brand.

 

3. Use a reputable email provider

Using a less reputable email marketing campaign provider will hinder your chances of landing in your customers’ inboxes. Do your research before committing to one platform. REM offers a newsletter module, and our designers can create a beautiful newsletter template for you. Speak to your REM Customer Success Team member and ask them for more information on setting up your newsletter.

 

4. Find the right time to send out your emails

The best time to send emails depends on your audience. According to aggregate data, the most likely times for customers to open emails are 10:00am on Tuesdays and 3:00pm on Thursdays. Emails sent at these times will likely deliver results. For optimal results, however, you need to study your specific email lists and campaign analytics. Segment the lists into subgroups of customers based on feedback and interactions with your content. This primary research should drive your email timing, not general industry data.

 

5. Personalize emails through market segmentation

Unlike traditional advertising, email marketing reaches its audience every time. In fact, 99% of consumers check their email every day. This allows the perfect opportunity to create a genuine connection with your audience through market segmentation. In other words, you can tailor your message for each target audience.

 

Say you’re selling apartment units in a condo building. By separating your audience into buyers, investors and realtors, you can reach each audience and provide them with clear, valuable information that is pertinent to their area of interest.

 

Another common way to do this is by age group. We know that different generations intake information differently. Ivan Veta, SEO specialist at Scopic Software, found this to be a helpful method for his clients, as it allowed them to switch up their strategies according to generational marketing preferences.

 

“Our learnings thus far have concluded that millennials react positively to campaigns that contain infographics,” said Veta, whereas “Gen X and baby boomers readers tend to click on action buttons to read more about a certain topic.”

 

By personalizing emails through market segmentation, you’re providing tangible value to each audience and connecting with them in a way that is genuine and thoughtful.

 

6. Understand the 3 Rs of email marketing

On any given day, a customer’s inbox is flooded with emails, promotions, sales, or inquiries. Consider their activities across all social media platforms and you can see how easy it is for someone to experience content fatigue. A customer’s attention is their most asset and yet it is pulled into hundreds of different directions daily — often before they’ve even had their first cup of coffee!

 

Because of this, Alice Elliott warns digital marketers and entrepreneurs to understand the 3 Rs of email marketing — content must be researched, relevant and relatable.

 

Rather than relying on algorithms or automated systems, she encouraged entrepreneurs to do the hard work of collecting email addresses that are a suitable match for their brand. While the fishnet approach works for certain brands, it is more valuable in the long run to create a curated list of loyal customers.

 

Once you’ve gathered a curated list of email addresses, ensure that your product, service, or content is relevant to this list. The journey between your content and the “unsubscribe” button truly lies in the relevance of the content.

 

Lastly, avoid the “spray and pray” approach to email marketing. Rather than throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks with the customers, focus that attention on writing a considerate, relevant, and valuable campaign.

 

7. Offer valuable solutions

For your email marketing campaign to have any true impact on the customer, it must offer some valuable solution to their pain point. Whether it is offering your decluttering services to an overtired mother who simply lacks the time to tackle that area of their home or providing a discount code to your audience for an upcoming sale, finding ways to offer value goes a long way with your customers.

 

8. Be authentic

In a world consumed by filters and smoke and mirrors, it is beyond refreshing to interact with an individual or a brand that is unapologetic in their values, beliefs, or morals. That authenticity is what draws like-minded people together, builds brand loyalty, creates community and a feeling of belonging, and converts leads into customers. Best of all, it is in an authentic and genuine way.

 

9. Include a call to action

With all this focus on getting the customer’s attention, it’s easy to forget the initial intention of the email. Are you reminding them that they have an item in their cart? Alerting them of a sale? Promoting a new product? A clever subject line may improve your open rate, but to increase engagement, you must increase your click-through rate or the percentage of subscribers following email links to your webpage. This is where you’ll need a call to action (CTA).

 

Developing a call to action can be as simple as including a direct request. “You can’t expect your audience to guess what you want them to do next,” said Kendra Jones, a PR and marketing strategist specializing in influencer marketing. “Placing concise calls to action, such as ‘Click here to download your free guide,’ that are hyperlinked to the opt-in increased my click-through rate by 18%.”

 

10. Optimize for mobile

Since 70% of emails are opened on a mobile device, and your CTAs all lead back to your site, mobile optimization is crucial.

 

Here’s what mobile-optimized looks like:

  • All relevant text can be read from a single screen without having to pan
  • The email and landing page load quickly
  • There are clear, tap-able buttons
  • Font type, size, and color are easy on the eyes

 

Email marketing is a valuable tool to connect with your customers in a genuine way and stand out in their inbox among the influx of content competing for their attention. If done right, email marketing can convert leads into lifetime customers. It can provide education, entertainment, value, and solutions. Before you send out your next email marketing campaign, make sure you pull up this blog post to double-check that you’ve accomplished all ten recommendations before hitting “send”.

 

Speak with your REM Customer Success Team or Sales Rep for more information about setting up your own newsletter and start reaping the benefits of great email marketing.

 

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Illustration of computer with error messages and problems

 

Imagine this: you’ve spent countless hours and a good chunk of money designing a custom website. You’ve thought about every small detail. You’ve mapped out how the user will interact with your website. You’ve written a thoughtful, clear, and conversion-driven copy. You’ve chosen between dozens of fonts, images and designs and you’ve arranged them just so. You’ve integrated third-party plugins to track analytics, capture emails and take care of back-end details. Now, you publish.

 

Your website crashes before it even has a chance to shine. Well, it turns out you are not alone in this situation.

 

According to the Third Parties chapter of their 2021 Web Almanac report, “a staggering 94.4% of mobile sites and 94.1% of desktop sites use at least one third-party resource.” They also found out that “45.9% of requests on mobile and 45.1% of requests on desktop are third-party requests.”

 

Your website may be using more third-party services than you realize. These services use requests to external hosts (servers you have no control over) to deliver JavaScript framework libraries, custom fonts, advertising content, marketing analytics trackers, and more. These third-party resources load in your visitor’s browser while your web page is loading, even if your visitors don’t realize it. They may be critical to the site functionality, or they have been added as an afterthought, but all of them can potentially affect how your users interact with your website and the overall functionality of the site.

 

You may have a lean, agile, responsive site design only to find it gradually loaded down with more and more “extras” that although were designed to enhance the back-end experience and analytics, often hinder functionality.

 

Recent research finds that third-party plugins could be hindering your website’s performance more than helping it. In this blog post we will be exploring five reasons why plugins hurt your website’s performance and a simple, integrated solution — go custom. After all, a custom website deserves custom solutions.

 

1. Third-party plugins cause conflict

A main cause of errors on your website is conflicts between two or more WordPress plugins that you may have installed. A conflict happens when two plugins are trying to accomplish the same thing in the same way, which causes one or both of them to malfunction. Third-party plugins are a major source of security vulnerabilities and website performance bottlenecks.

 

A perfect example of this is the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin. The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin version 19.7 was discovered to contain a conflict with other plugins which resulted in websites experiencing fatal errors. To make matters worse, this is the third time this year that this has happened.

 

To find a solution to this problem, WordPress recently announced a proposal to take a more proactive approach toward third-party plugins to improve security and site performance. What is being discussed is a plugin checker that will make sure that plugins are following best practices.

 

"While there are fewer infrastructure requirements for plugins than there are for themes, there are certainly some requirements that are worth verifying, and in any case, checking against security and performance best practices in plugins would be just as essential as it is in themes. However, as of today, there is no corresponding plugin checker” explained the team at WordPress.

 

One of the main problems is that there is a multitude of plugins available created to boost website performance, track SEO, user activity, etc. The intent is a good one. However, because of the large number of plugins available, multiple are used on websites simultaneously, making it hard to know which combination of them is creating conflict with each other or with the website’s custom coding. Another issue is the need to periodically update plugins, which again opens the door to possible conflict and website malfunctioning.

 

Many of our customers come to us with this exact issue, beyond frustrated and unsure of what to do next. We have transitioned each one of them to our custom-built CMS, [email protected], and have taken the reigns on managing all development and updates in-house, eliminating the need for third-party vendors. Our customers have realized the benefit of having a stable and custom solution to their problem, ensuring that their website is performing optimally, and not needing to compromise on any key features. Not only has this saved them time and money, but it has also ensured that no customers were lost because of their website’s lack of performance.

 

2. Some themes are incompatible with third-party plugins

The reality is this — plugins are built by various developers. This means that sometimes a website theme will be incompatible with a certain plugin. Although the plugin itself might have dozens of features, if one or two of those features don’t work properly with your theme, your website will not function well. You could try and troubleshoot each individual plugin, but that is a time-consuming and often fruitless task. Surely not how you want to spend your working hours!

 

3. Third-party plugins can be discontinued without notice

One of the most concerning aspects of using a third-party plugin is that at any moment it could be discontinued. This would mean that you are essentially left to your own devices to troubleshoot the issue, find which plugin has been discontinued, search for an adequate replacement and then hope that the one you chose does not conflict with your custom-built theme. It’s truly a hassle and a real way to lose time, money and potential customers. There is ample uncertainty in our world, but this is one that is truly avoidable.

 

4. Third-party plugins can slow down your website

Few things are more frustrating to a user than a sluggish or non-responsive website. The culprit for this is often the number of third-party plugins running on your website simultaneously. The reality is that any plugin that loads resources (such as JavaScript or CSS files) will slow down your website. Consider that you’re usually running multiple at once, and your website could be experiencing some real fatigue and performance issues. One temporary solution for this would be to become selective about which plugins are essential to your website and eliminate the rest. Unfortunately, this does not solve the rest of the problems we have covered in this blog post. The wise solution would be to allow a professional team of website developers to handle the functionality of your website, to ensure that you are not spending your time down the rabbit hole and potentially losing customers in the process.

 

5. Unexpected costs can arise

Developers earn an income by providing a free service for a limited or trial amount of time, and then charging the user once that time is up. In most cases, third-party plugins operate the same way. Most developers offer a free trial for up to a year and provide ample support during this time. After that period, however, you may have to pay to continue using the plugin or try to find support elsewhere. Additionally, some developers will charge customers for continued updates to their plugins. This can be a major issue because WordPress tends to change its core code often to improve performance and security. Outdated plugins can conflict with the new version of WordPress and cause issues on your site.

 

We believe a strong case can be made for the fact that third-party plugins can wreak havoc on your custom-built website, costing you time, and money and potentially losing customers. Finding where the conflict is between your theme and the plugin (and which plugin at that!) can feel like looking for a needle in a haystack. With constantly changing and evolving plugins, updates to both the plugin and WordPress as a platform, unexpected website crashes and unexpected costs, this can be a frustrating experience at best.

 

There is a better way. At REM Web Solutions, we have removed the guesswork from the situation and have created a custom CMS, [email protected] Because of the nature of our work, we handle all the development and updates in-house, eliminating the need for third-party vendors. This stable and reliable solution can allow you to breathe easier knowing that your website is performing optimally, your users will convert to customers because of the fluid navigation, and no more time and money is spent troubleshooting an endless problem.

 

As we said, your custom website deserves a custom solution.

 

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This is a headshot of Sanj Rajput.

Illustration of man holding a pen looking at a computer and paper

 

Professional writing is something we all do dozens of times a day; but how much thought do we really give it? The way we write in a professional setting sets the tone for not only our selves but the company we represent. If we have spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, or are simply too wordy that can make a negative impression on those we are communicating with.

 

Everything we write in our day to day working lives, from emails to social media posts all reflect upon us and our companies. Therefore, we need to make sure we are coming across as best we can. Writing matters, and many people have trouble remembering how much it can impact us. Writing is how we tell stories, make deals, convey history; it is the fundamental for human communication. Writing in the workplace or in a business setting is no exception.

 

Marketing Materials

Marketing Materials covers a wide range of writing tasks: from sales copy on websites to social media posts to blogs on your own website. Marketing is the first thing a prospective client or the general public will see of your company, so you need to make sure it is well received. If your copy is riddled with spelling errors or typos it sends a bad message.

 

First you need to look at your general advertising copy: Newspapers, billboards, websites, etc. Figure out the message you are trying to send and who you want to see it. Make sure it is easy to read from far away or in small print text. Avoiding errors will help with this, it will allow your potential clients to read it easier.

 

You also need to consider visual aids. If you are worried about not being able to fully get your point across without having one large text block, consider pictures. Using visual aids such as graphs or photos of your product can help people better understand what you are trying to say without having to read as much.

 

Next, look at your social media posts: Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. Even though this may seem as a more casual setting or form of advertising, it still matters. Social media these days reaches a massive audience base and can spread your message further than you originally thought.

 

Posts can be shared and sent to others across different platforms, so you need to be careful with what you say. Anytime you are posting anything you are representing your company. Your opinion has no place in the work environment and so it should not have a place on the company social media. Spelling, grammar, and sentence structure errors all also matter, so make sure to triple check before posting.

 

Finally, look at personal marketing: Networking, your personal website, client communications, etc. Most people do not think of any of these as marketing, however, when it comes to the professional world, everything is marketing. Anything you say or do regarding your company can have a big impact. If you are making a blog post for your companies' website, you need to make sure that you have no mistakes. The smallest mistake in your writing can defer potential clients.

Marketing is the first look a potential client or the general public has at your company. You need to make sure that from the very start your company comes across as professional.

 

Proposals

Business proposals are everything when it comes to first contact. Whether you are sending one to your boss for a new project or to a new client; they are the first point of contact people will get from you. You need to make sure that you are coming across professionally, clearly, and to the point. There are a few things you need to be thinking about when writing a proposal:

 

  1. What is your purpose? Think about what you are trying to achieve by sending this proposal and make sure that is your soul focus and topic point.
  2. Who is your audience? Is it your boss? Is it a new client? Your audience matters as you need to know who you are talking to. If you are writing for your boss, you do not need to explain every facet of the company and its policies. However, if you are writing to a first-time client who knows nothing about what the company does or how they run things, you may need to explain more.
  3. Stick to the point. Do not go off on tangents. You do not need to be talking about everything all at once, all that does is confuse the reader and deter them from wanting to read more.
  4. Use active writing. What that means is do not sound passive. If you are hovering around a point or avoiding getting straight to the point, it can come off as too passive. Now I am not saying go out and tell your boss or client what to do and when to do it as if you are in charge. But what I am saying is you should be straightforward. You do not want to come off as if you do not know what you are talking about.
  5. Avoid text blocks. Whenever possible, avoid long overly wordy text blocks. No one wants to read a three-page proposal with no breaks. They will get bored or lost and give up reading it all together. Keep your paragraphs, if possible, between 3-5 sentences and break up big groups of text with new headers.

 

Your proposals are very important, and they can make or break a potential new deal with a client or cost you that promotion. Be careful with what you say and how you say it. Most importantly make sure you are considering all these points when writing.

 

Emails

I am sure anyone reading this has written at least a handful of emails throughout their lives. Emails are the foundation that keeps businesses going. It is how everyone in the professional world communicates, whether it is with clients or your boss or your colleagues. However, not everyone thinks of emails as business writing, but it is.

 

Sending emails may seem a boring mundane task you have got to do a hundred times throughout the day, but they are everything. Most people will quickly type out an email and send it off without giving it another thought. The way you write emails can make or break your entire professional career. Clients and your boss will forever remember if you have typos or grammatical errors in your emails constantly.

 

It has been proven that people are less likely to want to continue to work with or in the future with a company that sends poorly written emails. Granted one or two occasional mistakes is simply just human error and most people will ignore it. However, constant and unchecked mistakes is seen as lazy and unprofessional and can cause major issues for you in the future.

When writing emails, make sure to proofread them. Now yes, I understand that most of you are very busy at work and many of you have better things to do with your time than re-read an email. However, it will help you immensely in the long run.

 

Once you do it a few times it will feel routine and less like a burden or extra task you must do. It will also allow you to go back and fix any mistakes you may have made before sending it and potentially coming across as unprofessional to a new client. There are reason teachers tried to engrain it into us all throughout school, it works, and it helps.

 

Internal Communications

Internal communication may be the last thing you think of when needing to sound professional, but everything counts. Internal communication in this sense refers to communication throughout a company with other employees, whether that be your boss, colleague, or subordinate. When you are speaking, or in this case writing emails or likewise you need to sound professional and like you deserve to be there.

 

Writing in the workplace or professional setting is like proving you know what you are talking about. Everything in the way you present yourself matters in a professional setting. You would not show up to work in your pajamas, in the same way you need to make sure you are communicating properly.

 

Poor writing cannot only affect your performance, but the performance of the people you work with. If you are not clear in what you are saying or make mistakes and do not correct them, it can affect everyone else around you. For example: if you are emailing your partner on a project at work and tell them that “79% of clients reach out for future projects” when you actually meant “97% of clients reach out for future projects”, that can greatly affect not only you but your partner as well. Simple mistakes can make or break your career, so you need to be careful.

 

The way you talk to anyone, whether it be a client, your boss, or a colleague matters. You need to make sure you are writing everything from emails to proposals correctly and clearly.

 

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