Archive for the ‘Email Marketing’ Category

#CactusChat is Alive! Get your eCommerce Marketing Questions Answered in Real Time

Monday, November 4th, 2013

Cactus Facebook ChatWith just under 50 days left until Christmas, is your eCommerce store ready for the holiday shopping season? Before you fall prey to holiday myths, ask our Internet Marketing experts on the critical and crucial questions that make your Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, and Christmas sales zoom. Join us on Thursday, November 14th for a live chat!

If you thought last year was busy, imagine having nearly one week less in between Black Friday and Christmas to market, sell, and ship. Just 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year make for a much shorter holiday shopping season than last year’s 32 days; but don’t let that stop you! Last year, many retailers were promoting holiday sales well before Halloween. This year should be no different, as merchants eagerly attempt to snag as many pre-holiday sales as possible.

So how do you beat last year’s performance with even less time? Where do you find reliable answers to your internet marketing questions?

On Thursday, November 14th at 3pm EST, Solid Cactus’ Internet Marketing experts will host a live chat on Facebook to answer your questions. Questions can be sent in starting today through Facebook, Twitter, comments below, or email

Experts from our Comparison Shopping Engine (CSE), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Pay-Per-Click (PPC), and Email Marketing teams will be on hand to address, answer and debunk your questions. Here are some examples of common myths that we’ll also be covering:

  • Do you need to make any changes to your comparison shopping feed when adding gift cards to your site?
  • Why are meta tags valuable in making your organic listings stand out for the holidays?
  • How do negative keywords reduce your PPC budget?
  • Is it possible to send email blasts too often during the holidays?

There are three ways to participate: you can send in a question in advance, the day of, or simply be a spectator.

  • RSVP to the Facebook Event and attend the day of.
  • Follow @SolidCactus on Twitter for highlights from the live chat.
  • Email your question to
  • Bookmark this post for a live Twitter feed, which will be posted to this URL as the event goes live.

Jeff Stolarcyk

The Creeping Doom of “Black Friday Deals Week”: How to Plan Your Holiday Marketing Calendar

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Puppy Christmas present

Don’t let Black Friday scare you. Look at this little black Christmas puppy!

Do you remember where you were on Thanksgiving 2010? Maybe eating dinner and watching football with your family. Probably inside a Sears or Kmart, locked in combat over deals and doorbusters.  2010 is the genesis point of modern Black Friday Deal Creep, a marketing phenomenon that sees marketers desperate to ‘win’ the Black Friday weekend endless attempt to outgame and pre-empt their competition by walking back the start of their sales.  Over the past three years, other retailers – both brick and mortar and online – have followed Kmart’s lead and started launching their big, limited-quantity sales on Thursday. This year, even venerable Macy’s is considering it.

It should have been a slow, orderly erosion, but this summer saw several big box stores running successful ‘Black Friday in July’ or ‘Summer Black Friday’ email campaigns, and even, just recently, a ‘Cyber Monday in September’. Consumerist has evidence of ‘Black Friday’ sales dating back as far as February this year. No. Really.

The gradual inclusion of Saturday, Sunday, Cyber Monday and, most lately, Thanksgiving Day, into the savings behemoth that is Black Friday has transmogrified the shopping holiday into ‘Black Friday Deals Week’.

What does that mean for you, online small business retailer? As much as I might hate to admit it, it probably means an adjustment to your holiday marketing plans. Here are a few tactics you might want to consider:

  1. Thanksgiving Day Deals – While it’s still a good idea to save your best deals for Friday or Monday, having a sale up and running and visible on Thanksgiving Day is a good idea, especially if it’s something you can ‘set and forget’ the night before.
  2. Change It Up – Vary your deals to keep people coming back. Run the gamut of promotions – discounts, free shipping, BOGO, flash sales – variety will help attract shoppers back to you during the weekend.
  3. Make Deals Feel Like Deals – the longer a sale lasts, the less urgency shoppers feel about participating in it. Have a new sale or group of deal items every day (or at least on Thursday, Friday and Monday)
  4. Email Early, Email Often – Start launching your holiday email campaigns on Wednesday and send frequent reminders throughout the week. The volume of email sent during this weekend is huge and open rates go down because of the influx of messages. Sending daily during the ‘deals week’ is not too much, especially if you have varied promotions throughout the weekend.
  5. Don’t Forget Free Shipping Day – A few weeks after ‘Black Friday Deals Week’, Free Shipping Day is the final day for ground shipping before Christmas and if you can accommodate a free shipping promotion, it’s an easy marketing win for you that will get you increased visibility and attract shoppers with an enhanced sense of urgency.

How are you preparing for the ever-expanding holiday deals season?

Embrace Internet Culture to Increase Audience Engagement

Monday, October 7th, 2013

If you attended our “Marketing That Works Together” webinar, you may have seen this little fuzzball in our presentation deck. You might have even wondered if there was a story behind its inclusion.

We’re no strangers to using cute animals and Internet humor in our presentations here.  There’s also this little guy, for instance (from another webinar deck):

Our whole team here at Solid Cactus understands the value of tapping into Internet culture and leveraging it to get attention. We’ve given talks devoted to that very subject, in fact.

Web culture runs on an attention economy and, perhaps fittingly, its attention span is seconds long. Look at your Facebook feed and you’ll see proof of this in action. As a result of that short attention span, the Internet runs on image memes and animated GIFs, and there are certain varieties of this content that are surefire hits: pictures of cats, animated GIFs of cats, pictures of animated GIFs of cats and animated GIFs of pictures of cats.

I came perilously close just now to describing memes as “digitally transmitted units of lexical currency” but I’d rather try and talk about the power of memes in a way that won’t make all of our eyes glaze over. Did you watch Breaking Bad on Sunday? You probably did. Do you know other people who watched it? Odds are, you can talk to them about the episode by using verbal shorthand, phrases like “stevia” or “Marty Robbins,” for instance. It’s easier to have that conversation because you’re starting from a shared point of reference. That’s what memes are – a shorthand that conveys a shared experience.

When thinking about how include web culture in your communications, the best place to start is considering your audience. We knew most of the attendees at our webinar would be web-savvy and active on social media – we wanted to share something with them that reinforced that we are, too. The image also set the tone for the webinar – we want to share good, actionable information with you, but we also want to keep a light, fun and welcoming tone. Our Webinar Cat sends that message to our audience in a way that the audience is receptive to. And of course, the multiple balls of string representing each of our marketing services ties back into the central idea of the presentation: that multiple marketing channels all feed back to one central source.

Webinar Cat also has a little bit of history at Solid Cactus. Our team originally used him in a presentation we gave at a local college a few years ago. Again, our audience were digital natives who were strong social media users (college students) and we wanted to do something that felt audience appropriate. Everybody here on the Internet Marketing team loves our unofficial ‘mascot,’  so when we brought our webinar series back, we all agreed that he’d be a great addition to our deck. We hope you liked him, too!

Fine Tune Your Internet Marketing for the Holiday Season, Sign Up for our Free Webinar Today!

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

webinarAs an eCommerce store owner, you spend a lot of money on pay-per-click (PPC) advertising every year. Not to mention what is spent on comparison shopping engines (CSEs), email marketing, social media and search engine optimization (SEO). Each one of these marketing channels should be providing you with a positive return on investment if they are functioning like a well-oiled machine and working together towards a common goal.

However, many store owners don’t understand how each of these channels can (and should) be playing off one another so they contribute to bottom-line success.

If you’re one of them, I’d like you to join me and a team of our marketing experts for a free webinar on multi-channel marketing called, “Marketing that Works Together, Works for You!” During this hour-long session, Robyn Snyder, Lauren Carey, Jaclyn Rudeski and Jeff Stolarcyk will dive into the synergies that exist within the different channels and how you can maximize their overall effectiveness in your marketing plan not only for the upcoming holiday, but for the new year.

I promise the hour will be well spent, fun, conversational and packed with information you can use to grow your online business. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to pick the brains of our experts during a question and answer session that immediately follows the presentation, so get your questions ready!


When: Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Time: 2:00 – 3:00pm Eastern Time
Where: GoToWebinar – Sign up


Webinar Host 

 Scott Sanfilippo Scott Sanfilippo
Co-Founder & Brand Ambassador, Solid Cactus


Panel of Internet Marketing Experts 

 Robyn Snyder Robyn Snyder
Director of Internet Marketing CSE/PPC
  Jaclyn Rudeski
CSE Manager
 Lauren Carey Lauren Carey
SEO Manager
  Jeff Stolarcyk
Email Marketing Supervisor

Sign up to attend this free webinar today, and I’ll see you on the 25th!

Scott Sanfilippo is Co-Founder and Brand Ambassador for Solid Cactus and has nearly two decades of eCommerce experience dating back to 1994 when he opened his first online store, Since then Scott has owned 39 online stores and has assisted hundreds of entrepreneurs achieve their own online success.  

Jeff Stolarcyk

Consumers, Conversions and Consent: Why Reconfirmation Is Vital to Your Email Campaigns

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

Few of the selling points of email marketing are as seductive as its scale: for the price of a single high-value AdWords click, a merchant can send hundreds of emails, and those hundreds of emails are going to contacts that come pre-qualified – they’ve given out their email address already, either to subscribe to email updates, enter a contest, get a free download or actually buy something.

How many people on your mailing list truly want the marketing emails they receive each day? Think about the emails you receive each day – how many of them do you open? How many of those do you read? How many of those do you act on? How many do you trash or archive without much thought? I make email campaigns for a living, I have a hobbyist interest in them, and I still end up ignoring 30-50% of the marketing emails I get in a given day. Compared to how easy it is to delete an email, store it for ‘later’ or mark it as spam, the process to unsubscribe from most mailing lists is downright arcane; it’s easier to ignore email than to ask it to stop, and so merchants prone to treating their lists indiscriminately are throwing ad spend away without even realizing it.

Sending a reconfirmation campaign to your list is a great way to ‘right-size’ your mailing list. In addition to saving money (if your ESP throttles the amount of email you can send based on credits), reconfirming your list is good for your list’s performance in the long-run: weeding out contacts that don’t want to receive your campaigns is good for your sending reputation and gives you a more realistic picture of your true open and clickthrough rates (and better marketing intelligence as a result). Being transparent with your contacts can also be a powerful trust signal for responsible members of your list.

It’s not uncommon for merchants to want to send an email blast to every possible recipient on their list. It’s smarter to target your list based on who your best, most responsive customers are.

“I really just want the soda…”

When I was in college, there was a comic book shop across the street from campus. In addition to comics, books and board games, it also had a cooler stocked with snacks and drinks. The shop had customers like myself that came in every Wednesday, customers from out of town who might come in less frequently but spent more when they did, and a smattering of pedestrians who came in just to grab a soda.

Not all of those customers are equal, though they’re all people who come into a store and make a purchase. But that doesn’t mean their acceptance of the shop’s email campaigns are equal. If the shop is sending weekly, time-sensitive emails, only the first customer is likely to get value from its campaigns every week. The second customer might only need to read those emails once in awhile, but they’re still valuable to her when she does. The third customer, the one who just wanted a Pepsi, isn’t likely to ever care which issue of Batman is coming out this week. He’s a risk for reporting those emails as spam at least, and getting so annoyed that he stops coming into the store at most.

It’s easy to perform a reconfirmation campaign; many ESPs will dynamically insert an opt-in link into your email. If you’re ESP doesn’t, you can send a simple email directing users to click through to a thank-you page on your site and track clicks on the email to segment out your responses. The people who don’t reconfirm haven’t technically opted out, but you should email them with significantly less frequency – for major announcements, absolutely vital calls to action, or major sales (like your Black Friday deals). Your customers will thank you for it.