Monthly Archives: November 2018

Affordable & Effective Marketing Strategies that Generates Sales

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customer paying for product from effective marketing strategyWhen business owners hear the term “effective marketing strategies,” they tend to see dollar signs flying out the window. The reality is that the most effective marketing strategies generate dollars IF executed with the correct expertise and tactic that targets the business audience.

If all that wording takes on a “blah, blah, blah” feel, it’s time to approach the marketing process by asking a few simple questions:

  • Who are the majority of the customers that contact the business (i.e. age, urban or suburban, gender, etc.?
  • Where are customers located?
  • How do customers communicate (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, E-mail, etc.)?
  • Is the target audience business or individuals? (B2B vs. B2C)
  • What makes the target audience choose a business (i.e. location, quality, green factor, etc.)?
  • What staffing is available for marketing? (Include online customer service in this decision because the two are related.)
  • What is the marketing budget?

The answers provide direction for generating ideas and choosing marketing strategies that are effective and budget-friendly. The specific combination of effective marketing strategies differ among businesses; however, this list of marketing ideas and steps for implementation can produce a marketing plan that generates sales efficiently and effectively.

Targeting local customers

The most effective marketing strategies are targeted and efficient. Local search engine optimization fits both criteria. This technology optimizes websites for search engines and a target audience, ensuring that the website shows up in searches done by local residents. Local optimization services can connect with customers in a 10, 20, or 50-mile radius from a specific business location.

How to implement: Simple optimization of a website is the first step (use these tips for easy optimization). For top-quality, effective optimization, contact a firm that specializes in optimizing businesses and can provide hard data that proves the effectiveness of the technology.

Building solid email marketing campaigns

Social media is not the “new kid on the block” anymore; social media marketing is a proven, effective marketing strategy. The key to getting a high return-on-investment from this marketing strategy is choosing the correct social media site and posting regularly. Most social media sites algorithms favor pages that post content on a regular basis.

How to implement: Decide which social media sites fit the target audience. Use this chart to choose the right social site or determine the site where customers visit through a testing process. Make regular posting (use this chart to set a schedule of regular social media posts) and responding to customer messages a priority (use this guide for providing excellent online customer service). To build a social media following, offer incentives and valuable content that inspires engagement by social media users. If the process is beyond current staffing capabilities, outsource the effort to an affordable marketing firm.

Offering (more) value

The businesses that reap the rewards of marketing are those that offer value time and time again. The term “value” in this case does not exclusively mean sales (though discounts are also a draw and should be included in an effective marketing strategy). Customers value information; this is an edge that’s surprisingly easy to offer with stellar customer service skills and a promoted marketing medium.

How to implement: Use social media or a blog to offer value to customers and potential customers. Add valuable tips through graphics and blog posts; if graphic design and blogs are beyond staffing capabilities, outsource the effort to an affordable marketing firm. Don’t hesitate to share content from other trusted sources as well.

Using online reviews to build loyalty

Potential customers trust online reviews; statistics show that they play a key role when consumers make the decision to purchase. Unfortunately, not enough businesses are harnessing the power of positive reviews AND turning a negative review into a positive customer experience.

How to implement: Monitor the internet for reviews, both positive and negative. There are quite a few websites that offer customers the chance to review businesses; when time is short, contact a marketing firm that offers an automated monitoring service. Businesses should respond to the reviews (even the negative ones) to ensure that every customer interaction is a favorable one (use these tips for effective online reputation management). When positive reviews come in, share them as testimonials to build trust with potential customers.

Prioritizing online customer service

Responding to customer e-mails and social media messages should take precedence in daily operations. This is not the case in many businesses; often businesses respond to messages “when they can” or “when we get around to it.” Customers expect a response; if a business doesn’t respond, they do move on to a business that can provide speedy information.

How to implement: Connect an e-mail to every social media site and monitor customer messages closely. Avoid responding to messages with a canned, one-size-fits-all response which can frustrate customers. Use these tips for providing excellent online service. When appropriate, respond to customer’s public messages privately; these can be situations where the situation is complex or deals with customer private information.

Quick Guide to Holiday Online Customer Service

hands of business manager typing online customer serviceIt only takes one bad online interaction to put a damper on the next holiday sale. On the flip side, it takes one fantastic social media message or comment to make the holiday season merrier for the customer and the company. According to a list of holiday shopping statistics posted by Constant Contact, the numbers of online purchases and online searches leading to in-store visits are increasing. The stakes are higher than ever for creating an exceptional overall online experience for customers—including customer service.

Reaching the goal of 100% customer satisfaction during the holiday season can seam surreal. It’s the busiest time of the year for many companies. Staff members are stretched thin, both in terms of time and budget.

With all that being said, it’s not unrealistic to provide excellent customer service that boosts sales and brand loyalty. Use these tips to effectively deliver the online customer service that makes the holidays more festive for everyone.

Monitor social media messages.

The biggest mistakes companies make is a lack of awareness about the messages themselves and the importance of responses. On Facebook, one of the most popular social media sites, companies can get badges for quick response times. Beyond social media sites, customers value—even expect—-a quick response.

To meet those expectations, monitor social media messages closely (or contact a marketing firm that can assist with monitoring). Use an e-mail (that is attached to the social media account) or social media monitoring program to promptly and efficiently monitor messages. Whenever possible, add accurate location hours so customers know when to expect a response. If it is not possible to get the information at the time of the message, let the customer know when to expect an answer to their question.

Choose the customer service provider wisely.

Online customer service is not a task that should be assigned to just any staff member. An error in judgment can cost any company sales, both on individual transactions and in negative reviews. Negative reviews can play a significant role in customers’ purchasing decisions. According to Search Engine Land, research has shown that 88% factor online reviews into their purchasing decision.

As such, responding to e-mails and social media messages should not be delegated to any staff member or intern. The responsible party should be available to answer customer inquiries and knowledgeable in customer service. If there is a lack of available staff, consider outsourcing social media marketing to the experts.

Respond promptly.

Online customer service should not be a task that should be tackled once a day or irregularly. Customers expect a prompt response. On social media, statistics say most customers expect companies to respond within 24 hours on social media in general (and faster on some social media sites). For that reason, online messages and comments should be monitored closely. If the answer to the inquiry is not immediately available, let the customer know that their message has been received and the timeline for a resolution.

Ditch the canned responses.

Nothing can kill the holiday spirit like a canned customer service response. If a customer comments on a social media post, answer like a real human and don’t hesitate to ask them to communicate privately. Canned responses to every comment, such as a repeated “thank you for your comment, blah, blah, blah…” can backfire, especially when the initial customer comment is negative. This approach can anger the customer, making the customer experience a negative one.

Offer an easy solution.

The holidays are a busy season. Make the customer’s experience positive by making the resolution easy and expedient. Unless the resolution requires an in-depth conversation, avoid making the customer call; try as much as possible to communicate with the customer through their preferred method of communication (i.e. social media, e-mail, text message, etc.) A positive customer experience over the holidays can leave a favorable impression that lasts long after the festivities are over.

12 Digital Marketing Practices that Annoy Your Customers

guy mad at annoying online marketing tacticsAny business owner or manager would be hard-pressed to find “annoy customers” or “drive customers away” on the list of business marketing goals. And yet, companies push customers away almost on a daily basis by utilizing digital marketing practices that make customers leave websites, unfollow social media sites, and unsubscribe from e-mail lists.

These annoying digital marketing practices incite every adverse reaction and diminish the return on the marketing investment. For that reason, avoid these annoying digital marketing habits at all costs or outsource to a firm that doesn’t employ these irritating online tactics.

Website

Playing (unintentional) keep-away

In this era of instant digital gratification, customers (and potential customers) want convenience. They want to research the problem, find options, and move on to the resolution. It is the business’ responsibility to deliver. Every website should be optimized for search engines; for businesses with a service area, search engine technology should also be utilized to get to the top of search engine listings of customers within a 10, 20, or 50-mile radius around the business location. Those efforts should be backed up with regularly-posted and relevant content that answers customer questions and drives online customers to the website.

Having a hard-to-navigate website

Website visitors want to find what they need—and move on. When visitors can’t find what they want, website bounce rates increase, as well as the chance for an e-mail, phone number, and sale. When working on website navigation, organize content from a customer perspective or hire the professionals who can contribute their expert and unbiased opinion.

Slow loading speeds

A one second delay makes a difference. No, that wasn’t a typo. Google recently wrote that a one second delay while loading a mobile website can decrease conversions by up to 20%. This research highlights an obvious truth: website visitors don’t want to wait. A slow website is a major annoyance for website visitors, and a significant reason why they won’t contact or buy from a company. For that reason, contact a professional website design company that can build an optimized website that loads promptly.

Not mobile-friendly

A mobile website used to be a luxury. Today, a mobile website is a requirement for every business. An article published by the Pew Research Center states that 77% of Americans own a smartphone. This statistic is indicative of a change in lifestyle, instead of a fallible trend. Mobile devices have changed the way Americans search for answers to their problems, including in the search for much-needed products and services. Companies shouldn’t ignore that fact; instead they should cater to their customers’ (and potential customers’) needs.

Low quality content

There are a number of criteria that can qualify the content on a website as low-quality. The text could be full of typos, out-of-date, or written poorly. For search purposes, the website should also be optimized for search engines. An optimized website is another essential of the modern age, backed up by statistics that prove that a large amount of Americans use search engines to find information. Companies should make every effort to get their website in the search engine results pages (and utilize local website optimization to get found by local customers).

Online Reviews

Reading negative reviews

Negative reviews are a mutual annoyance for businesses and customers, costing businesses vital sales and driving potential customers away from a company. An article on Business2Community put the number as high as 4 out of 5 customers who won’t buy from a company with a bad review.

Bitter responses

Most review sites give business owners the chance to respond to negative reviews; this can either be an opportunity or a chance to make a costly error. Company managers that respond with an angry response (“how dare you say such a thing?”) not only annoy the customer who leave the review, but every visitor who sees the response. An angry response is an error that has a lasting impact; instead, company owners and managers should take a deep breath and showcase their excellent customer service. 

Social Media

Not answering messages

Customers expect prompt responses from companies. Studies have repeatedly shown this, and companies need to be able to deliver. Customers want the information they ask for now, or they move on to competitors that do respond. This fact should dictate the way companies organize their staff; a dependable staff member with excellent customer service skills should be assigned to respond to social media messages.

Posting too much

Regular social media posts are an essential part of every company marketing strategy; posting too much is a surefire way to sabotage those results. Company owners and managers should know the recommended amount of social media posts per day or experiment to find out what frequency is right for the target audience. If the ever-evolving world of digital marketing is overwhelming, companies should outsource the task to a knowledgeable and trusted professional.

Over selling

One of the chief reasons customers stop following a company is because all the posts are about the company and their promotions. Put simply, customers don’t want to be yelled at when they follow companies on social media. Some customers want to be entertained or informed. They don’t want to follow brands that put up a continual stream of posts about products and sales. Instead, companies should strive to post relevant content that applies to their target audience; to do so, this requires a knowledge of who their followers are and what they want to see.

Emails

Unsolicited mailings

Any potential customer can tell you that receiving unsolicited e-mails is a major annoyance. Companies need to be mindful of this when building an e-mail list. Avoid buying e-mail lists or adding potential customers to the list without their opt-in. Company owners and managers should build e-mail lists by offering an item of value, such as a discount, or simply by asking on social media or in-person.

Sending too often

Crowded inboxes are a valuable asset; studies have continually shown that e-mail marketing has one of the highest return-on-investments of any marketing tactic. However, companies look to take advantage of e-mail marketing need to be mindful of over-using e-mail marketing. When planning and scheduling an e-mail campaign, be mindful of the target audience. To determine the right schedule, utilize data on the best time and frequency of e-mails. Regularly review statics like the e-mail open rate to determine what dates, times, and frequency yields the strongest results and return-on-investment.