January 31 is the new filing deadline this year for business owners to send copies of their W-2 forms to the Social Security Administration. The new deadline also applies to Form 1099-MISC, reporting nonemployee compensation for independent contractors. In the past, employers had to send employees these forms by January 31 (they still do), but they had until the end of February (for paper filing) or March (electronic filing) to send copies to the SSA. Now there’s one deadline for all copies to be sent out.
The new deadlines were part of the PATH Act passed in December 2015. “Having these W-2s and 1099s earlier,” according to the IRS, “will make it easier to verify the legitimacy of tax returns and properly issue refunds to taxpayers eligible to receive them. In many instances, this will enable the IRS to release tax refunds more quickly than in the past.”
Take That Winning E-Mail Promo…
And turn it into a Facebook ad
E-mail marketing and Facebook advertising don’t have to be an either-or proposition. In October 2015, Constant Contact launched a tool that helps merchants convert their marketing e-mails into Facebook ads. Doing this can extend your e-mail’s reach and encourage your Facebook fans to sign up for your e-mail blasts.
For a successful conversion, Constant Contact suggests, be sure to set a goal for the promotion (Get people into the store for a sale? Boost attendance at an in-store event? Announce a new product arrival?), and then offer timely content with a clear call to action.
Not every e-mail blast you send will make a good ad, of course. Constant Contact suggests that seasonal offers, upcoming events, major announcements and deadline reminders may be good fits to turn into Facebook ads. First-time offers may be particularly good, since you’re reaching out to a new audience. Other tips from Constant Contact:
• Use a mobile-friendly e-mail template that can be read on any device.
• Customize your title and caption.
• Make sure that your offer or promotion is available for a week or two after
you promote your e-mail.
• Use high-quality original photos of your business, not stock photography.
• Keep content concise.
• Have a clear call to action.
• Keep in mind that your copy should make sense to someone who may not
have interacted with your business before.
• Include a “Join My E-Mail List” link.
• For more about the conversion tool, go to: constantcontact.com/facebook-advertising.
Shopping Coming to Instagram
Test with 20 retailers may expand possibilities.
In November, Instagram started testing a way for shoppers to learn more about products featured in Instagram posts without leaving the app. “Most mobile shopping experiences today take people from the shop window right to checkout—without giving consumers the opportunity to consider a product and get more information,” Instagram noted in a blog post. Yet it had learned from an internal survey that most purchases take a day or longer, from discovery to purchase.
Knowing that “Instagrammers are open to discovery,” it started a test with 20 U.S.-based retailers (including Kate Spade and Warby Parker) that breaks down shopping into various steps within Instagram. Say a merchant posts a photo of an outfit of newly arrived products (think leotards, dance skirt, legwarmers). Each post with the new features being tested would have a tap-to-view icon at the bottom left of the photo. When tapped, a tag appears on each product—showcasing up to five products and their prices. Once a tag is selected, a new, detailed view of the product opens.
“This functionality will bring important product information to the consumer earlier in the journey, all without having to leave the Instagram app to search,” according to Instagram. Then, if the consumer taps the Shop Now link from the product details view, they go directly to that product on a retailer’s website. Watch for further developments and possible rollout to more businesses at: blog.business.instagram.com.