CRM solutions are fast becoming ubiquitous these days as even small businesses adopt CRM to enhance their service delivery. There are generally two types of CRM solutions; hosted and web- based. While the former are installed on and operated via the enterprise’s local network, the latter is hosted on the Application Service Provider’s server and accessed via the internet. Online CRM which is web-based is also known as OnDemand CRM, Browser Based CRM, Hosted CRM and more recently as SaaS (Software as Service).
Online CRM solutions have some distinct advantages that accrue to the user. Its use is also dependent on the peculiar needs of the enterprise. The advantages that online CRM offers include the following:
i. Speed of implementation.
ii. Ability to get automatic updates.
iii. Comparatively less cost of procurement and complete acquisition
iv. Swift sharing of information within the enterprise
v. Reduction in procedure as backend systems are not required
vi. Easy accessibility as it is internet based
There are also many online CRM solutions in the market but then some are more proven than others. Some of those outstanding CRM solutions include the following:
i. InfusionCRM: This CRM solution is well suited to small and medium sized enterprises as it offers reliability, comprehensiveness and sophistication. Tracking and consolidation of sales information within the single system is one of the key incentives to use InfusionCRM. It includes autoresponders, product information, order history, payment plans, lead tracking, customer details and much more.
ii. ACT: ACT is classified more as a contact software but then when viewed from its capability to help enterprises keep in touch with its customers and also track orders, it falls within the CRM class. It also compatible with many mobile phones, supports customization as well as third party software thus adaptable for many small businesses.
iii. Zoho CRM: This CRM solution is cloud based and offers features very useful to small businesses. Some of these features include sales forecast, role-based security, reports and dashboards, sales and marketing integration, inventory management. This CRM solution also supports third party software such as Microsoft Outlook. This works very well with small businesses that are just starting out because of its ease of use and adaptability. It is also quite cost effective as it is usually free for the first three users and payment commences from the fourth user at a reasonable rate.
iv. Relenta: This is a relatively new solution and has a lot of features that would integrate easily with a small enterprise’ business process. It incorporates email marketing with its core CRM solutions and for internet marketing firms, it could be very ideal. It also integrates with popular applications like Aweber, Salesforce, Outlook and Constant Contact.
v. iContact Pro: This solution combines contact management with email marketing functions. It very easily makes the tasks inherent in small internet marketing businesses like email newsletters distribution, email marketing and sales lead monitoring much easier. The price is also quite affordable, starting at $9.95 monthly depending on how large your email list is.
E-Business is a natural extension of the internet. The concept refers to the transaction of business via an electronic means, usually the internet or any of its mediums. E-business has certain characteristics and these include the following:
i. The use of the internet for the full transaction of its business.
ii. The combination of traditional model of running an enterprise with actionable business information obtained via the internet.
iii. Combination of traditional means of running an enterprise with an online selling platform.
iv. Business models that work to compile data on various customer and market segments and then make this information available to third parties for a fee.
v. The use of technological devices to facilitate financial exchanges or other kinds of exchanges.
vi. The adaptation and modification of traditional models with IT facilities.
E-marketing is a subset of e-business. It is the means through which a business promotes the products or services that it is offering on the internet. The practice of running an enterprise on the internet and promoting its services or products using e-marketing tools or resources presents that enterprise with distinct advantages. These include:
i. Reduction of overheads as the enterprise does not have to invest huge funds in warehousing or high office rents.
ii. Potential increase in sales
iii. Access to global markets and presenting the firm’s products and services to the market across the clock
iv. Opportunity to carry out market segmentation
v. Provision of convenience for customers and seller alike
We will take a close look at a few businesses that have successfully implemented e-marketing.
1. Anthony Nicholas Group: This company deals in jewels and having discovered that the internet presents a veritable means for showing its products to its target audience, the company decided to invest in the necessary infrastructure to make this possible. The challenge was in providing a reliable full back office system to replace the existing one. Two websites also had to be designed to cater separately for the Irish customers and the American customers. A web-based interface for customer interaction had to be developed and then supported with an accounting system that replaced the existing one, all technology based. The websites were also built to serve as marketing tools for the promotion of the products of the firm.
2. Dubarry: This company specializes in footwear designed for sailing. It decided to delve into the e-business world in order to leverage on the opportunities provided by the internet to bond with its customers. The company succeeded in its objectives as a result of three factors; a critical assessment of its internal operations and how it can work as a an e-business model, the possible challenges it will face as it alters its traditional business model to suit the internet and then how it can harness the opportunities therein. The website it built and uses as a platform to reach out and interact with its customers and target market has now served to reduce the administrative load involved in dealing with its various distributors. Customer interaction and also been an advantage of this switch to the new model as well as streamlining the process of ordering products from the company.
The internet has come a long way since its early days when almost anything could be accommodated by the internet due to lack of choice. These days, the choices have simply exploded and now users have to have an incentive to visit a site. It is no longer sufficient that the site exists but from concept to content, a site must demonstrate sufficient value for the users to visit, remain or even return. It is has therefore become imperative for businesses to incorporate the very latest trends in web design in order to provide enough incentive for internet users to stay on their sites.
1. Online Videos: Pictures have for long been used to produce graphic representations for the internet users. Although the pictures have been quite effective, videos have proven to be far more effective. Whatever a picture can say, a video can say far more. Apart from being more graphic, videos actually speak and provide far more information in far less time. The advent of video sharing sites has made it possible for site owners to create and upload promotional videos to the site and drive traffic to their site from there. Additionally, video editing software are easily obtainable and easy to use. For the SEO purposes, Google now indexes videos while Youtube has added close captioning and transcripts for their videos. This has had a very positive effect on video optimization.
2. Interactive Designs: The ability of a user to interact with the site is a big plus. It helps the user stay on the site and get a positive experience. Interactive elements are normally created using flash or jQuery. Flash has been around much longer and website designers are more familiar with it although jQuery works just as well. In all, any package that is chosen, if well implemented, is likely to provide users with an engaging experience.
3. Typography: The font type used on a site is very important and even with this the use of non-system font types was difficult previously. These days however, it has become possible to use non-system even with the cross browser compatibility issues. Now, website designers can make use of font replacement methods in order to create great looking fonts. These replacement methods include Cufon, Typekit and @fontface.
4. Mobile Websites: There has been a gradual shift from desktop internet surfing to mobile browsing. People now take the internet with them in their hands. It has become imperative for upwardly mobile websites to have that mobile capability. New devices like the Google Android phone and the iPhone have gained widespread popularity which is still increasing. Mobile e-marketing, text messaging as well as location based marketing are just a few things that will continue to dominate the market for a long time.
5. Podcasting: This is the audio version of online videos. These are easily recordable and allow the users to hear a recording of an interview or production description or even a promotional message. It can be incorporated with the RSS feed thus making it easier for users to follow.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) is a method of measuring the response to an online ad. It is taken in percentages and determined by dividing the total number of times the ad was presented to the user by the total number of times the ad was clicked on. It is applicable in a variety of online ad campaigns including banner ad campaigns, email marketing campaigns and Pay Per Click (PPC) campaigns.
CTR is therefore one of the most important metrics for measuring the success or otherwise of any online ad campaign. A high CTR is something that many companies try hard to attain and increasing CTR in the course of a campaign is also a key objective. This is because the higher the CTR, the more likely that the conversion rate will increase. This boils down to increase in the profit margin. There are some techniques that can be used to improve the CTR of an ad campaign.
1. Avoiding Blatant Advertising: When you consider the volume of advertisement that internet users face coupled with that which they to face offline, they just develop ‘ad blindness’ after some time. Sometimes therefore, advertisements work much better when they do not look like ads. You can try using the ads in side menus or as a text placement within the site content. (more…)
Click-Through Rates (also known as CTR) is a method by which the success of an online advertising campaign is measured. CTR is determined by dividing the ‘number of visitors who clicked on an ad’ placed on a webpage by the number of ‘impressions’ (the number times that the ad was delivered). The result is represented in percentages. If therefore out of a hundred (100) impressions of a banner ad, just one person clicks on it, the CTR would then be 1%. The popularity of banner ads has dropped and with them, the CTR. The average CTR for a banner ad these days is about 0.2-0.3% as against above 5% when the banner first began to appear. (more…)
A strategy lays the foundation for the success of any enterprise and the internet is no exception. The fact is that on the internet, given that the rules are quite different, there is a more pressing need for a marketing strategy and an accompanying plan to execute it. In all, a great strategy and the ability to execute it will guarantee success in the contentious scene of internet marketing.
In order to have a great strategy, it is imperative that a great product or service be in place. The strategy is after all, built around the need to successfully promote such a product or service. The product or service ought to be available on the internet and delivery via same ideally should be made possible. The uniqueness of the product or service is a very critical factor in its success. This is because of the need to reduce competition for customers.
In practical terms, when you have ensured that the product or service to be promoted meet high standards, you have to take some steps: (more…)
Rewards programs have become an integral part of the marketing plans of many enterprises especially small businesses as it helps to not only attract new customers but also retain existing ones. Of course, creating a strong customer value proposition is also at the center of any rewards programs. A rewards programs could be simply built in-house by an enterprise to save costs but then if there is a budget for it, that function could be outsourced to a professional firm specializing in that field. The advantage of outsourcing the design and execution of your rewards program to a professional is the wealth of experience and long list of collaborators that the professional would have built over time. These would include third party companies and major merchants. The following advantages could accrue to a small business by virtue of such collaborative rewards programs:
i. Creation of a series of rewards that would have appeal cutting across the customer base
ii. In conjunction with partners, design a partnership plan that would have a long-term and strategic value.
iii. Infusion of the rewards program with innovative items such as experiential opportunities and local rewards.
iv. Reduction of offsetting of program costs via marketing activities that are co-funded, marketing exposure, co-branded partnerships as well as merchant funded rewards.
The fact remains however that reward programs, no matter how well designed, enticing and beneficial, still needs to be ‘sold’ to customers. There are therefore various incentives that can be used to encourage customers to buy into and participate in the reward program. Some of these incentives include: (more…)
Email marketing is one of the most effective means of strategies in contemporary marketing. Its efficacy is used in meeting various objectives such as customer acquisition, integration of advertising messages with emails as well as enhancing customer loyalty and goodwill. Studies have confirmed that email marketing has a Return On Investment of (ROI) of $57.25 for every dollar spent. These figures were provided by the Direct Marketing Association. It is therefore impossible to ignore this marketing strategy in the overall marketing campaign. In carrying out email marketing however, there are certain tools that will enhance its efficacy particularly as these tools help you automate the entire process thus saving you precious time. This automation tool is known as an autoresponder and it helps you keep in touch with your new and existing customers with ease. Of course, there are many of such tools out there but then it is very important that you select the very best of them to avoid having problems. (more…)
Direct mail is a marketing practice in which the promoter or seller of a product or service sends marketing messages directly to the prospect or buyer. The uniqueness of the direct mail practice is the opportunity it affords the seller of delivering the message without using another medium so that there is no loss of control of the way the message is delivered or presented to the prospect. Another point of differentiation from other forms of marketing is that the promoter also gets use one distinct opportunity to promote, pitch and probably make the sale.
There are different types or methods used for implementing direct mail and these include sales letters, catalogues or other pictorial marketing collateral, sales letters combined with brochures. (more…)
Banner ads were one of the earliest types of ads that appeared on the internet and were certainly very popular. HotWired ran the first banner ad online in October 1994 for AT&T and subsequently became a source of revenue for online advert companies, generating estimated billions of dollars in ad revenue. Actually, banner ads became increasingly unpopular as a result of the roaring success of the paid search model popularized by Google. The standard measure of a banner ad’s success is the Click-Through Rate (CTR) and at its peak, banner ads had a CTR of 5% and above. These days however, banner ads command a CTR of just 0.2-0.3%.
In spite of the drop in the popularity of banner ads, it still remains a viable means of advertising and still appears on a lot of websites. Unfortunately, a great deal of the complaints regarding the efficacy of banner ads is as a result of the inability of the advertisers to observe the basic rules and changes in order to realize good results. There are some practices that can be incorporated into a company’s banner ad program that will have a positive effect on the campaign. (more…)
‘The money is in the list’ has become a classic statement among internet marketers as well anyone who wants to do serious work online. As our focus is on internet marketing in this instant, it is important to state that having an email list is one of the surest ways on making sure that your efforts on the internet yield positive results. Of course, driving traffic to your site is a prerequisite but then how do you drive traffic to your site in the first place? While SEO methods are quite reliable, having an email list will make things far easier for you in driving the desired traffic to your site. (more…)
The major objective of a rewards program in marketing is the creation of vibrant customer value proposition. There are many of such programs in existence these days including bonus points as reward for purchases made, frequent flier rewards and frequent buyer plans among others. Whichever type of rewards program you choose to implement, it is very important that it not only engages your customers and participants in the program but also differentiates your rewards program from others. Customers usually react positively to enterprises that indicate that their loyalty is valued and they prove this by participating in rewards programs.
Rewards programs therefore need to be a critical part of an enterprise’s marketing strategy. The design and inclusion of rewards in a marketing strategy however needs to be a carefully planned and executed process. In order for it to be a success, some factors must be considered and these include: (more…)
At first look, there does not seem to be much connection between the design of your website and the marketability of your business. The fact however is that there is a connection in the sense that a lot of the marketing depends on the professionalism with which the website is designed. This boils down to the fact that considerable effort needs to be invested in ensuring that the necessary things need to be done in terms of the incorporating current trends in the trade while designing your website.
Inasmuch as there is the need to follow current trend, there are still some basic factors that have to be considered without which the current trends will make little impact. They are as follows: (more…)
Business-to-Business marketing refers to the practice of marketing products and services to enterprises for their continued operation. The focus here is on the enterprise as against the consumer. The key factor in this kind of marketing is also logic and the relevance of the products and services to the organization. However in the practice of marketing in the B2B market, marketers face certain challenges and these include the following: (more…)