The internet today is a highly interactive environment. It’s no longer enough to simply post a few news pieces a month while running your business. Your fans, customers, and followers expect a higher level of visibility from you and your business, and you can use that to help your business grow naturally and effectively.
Sites like Youtube and Vimeo offer great options for your business to put out large pieces of video content to your customers. This can take the form of video blogs, showing everyday life at your business and what you have been up to lately. It can also include demos of your current project, or pieces that let you engage with your fans. A good example of this is how Google puts out full product demonstrations of their newest products and services on their Youtube page. Another example is Red Bull’s viral marketing videos that perpetuate the culture of Red Bull as active, athletic, and cool.
However, Youtube and Vimeo are not your only options for putting out video content from your business. Recently, services like Vine and Instagram Video have become very popular. These services allow you to record and post micro-videos from your smart phone. These videos can give tiny tastes of your company culture. Often, these videos are most effective if you use their miniscule lengths to comedic effect. Many video game developers use these services to provide small updates as to the latest build of their current game.
No matter the service you choose, the most important thing to remember is to show your business’ personality. Video is direct and personal, and if you remember that you will garner more customers through your content.
The beginning of a new year is a good time to reflect on the previous year and try to build on your successes. In this video I give my thoughts on how to approach goal-planning and discuss some of the techniques that have worked for me.
I would love to know your thoughts on goal planning. Please leave a comment below and let me know your tips.
The point of any marketing piece is to evoke a response. A call to action is how you illicit or direct that response. So one of the most important things to ask yourself when you are creating a new marketing piece is “what is the call to action?”. In this edition of MarketPain I discuss a simple technique for evaluating the call to action in your marketing collateral.
Online customer service is simply the internet based equivalent of the traditional customer service which takes place face to face or on the phone. The direction of traffic to online channels by enterprises as well as the immense growth in eCommerce has increased the load on online customer services. These days, customers are judging an enterprise’s efficacy in its online customer service primarily on three parameters:
i.The ease with which they get through their experience on the website
ii.The extent to which the site was able to satisfy their queries
iii.The ability of the site to provide the expected experience.
Customers now have far more choices than before and with that expansion comes the ability to switch from one provider to another on a whim. Bizrate.com, a rating site estimates that about 55% of shoppers simply abandon their shopping cart without entering into the actual purchasing process. Those that abandoned their purchase at the point of sale are estimated to be 32% and the major reason for these actions by customers is attributed to poor customer service. What amounts to poor customer service online includes inability to locate the product or information they are looking for or difficulty in getting round the purchase process. Sadly, when customers leave, they generally inform other people and if the old business saying is anything to go by, then the irate customer would tell about ten people. Unfortunately, the internet provides the forum for customers to leave comments and the number of people who will get to read the negative comments is simply best avoided.
There are however, some simple actions that can be taken in order to get a positive result from your online customer service.
i.Sales Process Automation: There are now a lot of automation software that operate both onsite and as installed programs. They send out mails as scheduled and these could be used to order confirmations as well as other notifications. Announcements of any promotions could also be done through this means.
ii.Ease of Contact: Apart from providing a reassurance to the customers about your authenticity, provision of contact information also makes it possible for customers to contact you easily. The contact information should be placed in a very noticeable position on your site so that the customers cannot miss it. Relevant information regarding who to contact for specific information or complaints will also serve to facilitate this contact with between the customer and the company.
iii.Email Segmentation and Personalization: The Click-Through Rates for personalized emails are almost double those of the non-personalized types but then only a mere 4% of marketers bother to personalize their email messages according to online research firm, Jupiter Research. It is therefore important that enterprises gather data regarding their customers to help them interact with them in a personalized manner.
iv.Provide a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Page: This should provide comprehensive answers to the kind of questions that people ask the most. This reduces the amount of queries that would have been directed to the customer service and saves valuable time. According to a study conducted by a research firm, Perolus Group, 42% of retail websites typically take as long as four to five days to respond to customers’ queries.
In the course of business, marketing its products or services is imperative to the success of every enterprise. The process of marketing however does not end with customer acquisition but extends to customer retention and beyond. Retaining customers is the aspect of the process where contact becomes necessary. In other words, it is important that a contact strategy be designed and properly executed for the marketing process to have a consistently positive outcome. A contact strategy basically deals with the utilization of data compiled regarding customer purchases, customer preferences and interests as well as promotion patterns to determine how often and in what order customers will be contacted. The data also helps to properly customize the company’s offers and how those offers are positioned and presented to the customer.
It is not sufficient to design a contact strategy, it must be very effective and in order for it to be so, the following characteristics need to be present.
i.Encompass customer needs, products as well as channels skills and capabilities
ii.Effectively addresses the interests of the company and the customer
iii.Recognizes the difference and uses of different channels
iv.Recognizes the extent of relationship for different customers and accommodates that fact within the strategy. (more…)
Email marketing is a subset of internet marketing and is actually used as one of the avenues through which marketing messages are disseminated online. The overall objective of email marketing is to deliver your marketing massages to your target audience, prospects as well as customers and thus drive traffic to your site as well as increase your business. Email marketing is a process that can be done by the marketer but then it is best automated. The need for automation is a direct result of the explosion in the volume of eCommerce on the internet and the attendant difficulty in coping with correspondence with customers, prospects and members of the target audience. Many firms have risen to the occasion and are providing great resources to meet that need. In order to effectively provide this service, these resources have some outstanding qualities such as:
i.Ease of Use: The user interface for an email marketing resource has to be user friendly and not resemble the cockpit of a space shuttle. The ease of navigation is a plus that makes the work of an internet marketer easier.
ii.Email Campaign Creation: It is also important that an email marketing resource provide HTML design and editing features. This is to help with the design of aspects of the campaign.
iii.Feature Set: Provision of a number of features that internet marketers will find useful in developing contact lists, create emails as well as examine results.
iv.Reports: Evaluation of the email marketing campaign is critical to the success of the program and this will be done by using reports. This feature is very important in any email marketing resource.
v.Support Services: Live support service and assistance as follow up to signing up for the resource is important for the internet marketer.
The following are five great email marketing resources:
The gravitation towards eCommerce has increased with the rapid and continuing evolution that taking place on the internet. Almost on a daily basis, new enterprises emerge, leveraging on existing or novel technologies and ideas to operate. In many instances, these new enterprises have grown to become successes although many eCommerce enterprises have folded up. We will take a close look at some eCommerce enterprises that were able to design and execute a plan that ensured success.
i. Carl Stuart: UK based company; Carl Stuart is in the business of supplying laboratory and field equipment, process filtration technologies as well as full technical support services to their clients. The company’s client base comprises Governmental organizations, institutions as well as companies in diverse industries across the UK and Ireland. Seeing the opportunities that the internet and eCommerce offered them, the company decided to leverage on that in order to make sales online through B2B trade accounts with manageable credit limits. They also needed integrate their offline sales and procurement efforts with the eCommerce software while reducing the cost per transaction and raising turnover through customer accounts automation. Using a platform designed by an eCommerce provider, the company was able to integrate trade account functionality with their website thus allowing customers set up and manage their own accounts online. This ensured that the company’s sales team became free to focus on business development. The benefits that immediately accrued to the company included opening of new streams of revenue and cost reduction per sale while increasing efficiency and providing up to date customer information. Customer experience also became significantly enhanced resulting in a better relationship with the company.
ii. Dell: This was one of the earliest success stories in eCommerce. Launching its eCommerce model about 1994, Dell excluded retail outlets and middlemen while selling directly to customers over the internet. The company took little time to register its mark as the first company to record a million dollars in sales online. Dell’s success in due in large part to the model that it adopted in making the customers a part of the purchase process in terms of choice and control. The company’s website allowed buyers to click through and make their own choices of the components of the computer thus virtually assembling the computer on their own. By the last quarter of 2002, Dell had logged a billion page views on its website. This choice and control given to the buyers also made it possible for Dell to feel the pulse of its customers regarding the functionality of the site as well as what exactly the customers wanted. The company does not build a computer until the buyer has ordered so it did not have to own a central warehousing facility rather it ships the computer directly to the customers depending on the geographical origin of the order from its plants in Ireland, Tennessee, Brazil, China, Malaysia or Texas. Dell also ensured that their B2B customers had a special interface that allowed them to customize the computers ordered to suit their company’s needs. By 2002, about half of Dell’s revenues were derived from their website and this amounted to about $16 billion.
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.
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…)