Staying in touch with e-newsletters

So how do you stay in touch with your customers and leads in an effective way? Email servers typically filter out 90% of incoming email as being junk. The Washington State Attorney General reports that almost 45% of email received is still junk mail. The Post Office is reliant upon junk mail to keep the postage rates low. Getting a customer to friend you on Facebook, or via other social media, is an option; but not having a good message does not really help.

So how can you stand out and not be trapped as being yet another piece of unnecessary communication that your customer has to deal with each day.

  1. Make what you have to say be relevant to the customer. You already know a lot about your customer from what they have bought, the inquires they have made, as well as what they have told you. Use that information to put together something that you think is of interest to them. Ideally have a mixture of specific and general interest.
  2. Provide a ‘next steps’ for the customer for if they are interested in what you are saying. You have the customer interested, now you want to have them reach out to you. Provide a link to your web site, blog, or Facebook page, where there is more information as well as a way for the customer to contact you to do business with you. Make the offer something specific so that the customer now sees value in contacting you.
  3. Keep what you have to say short. You have about 5 seconds to get the customer’s interest. If it takes them more than 20 seconds to skim read then you have probably lost them.

Directly contacting a customer is often called ‘Push Marketing’. ‘Pull Marketing’ is a term used to describe where a customer pulls information from your website, Facebook page, or blog. In future blogs,  will talk more about push and pull marketing. You can use both push and pull to communicate with customers. Here is a simple example:

  1. Set up a calendar for regular e-newsletters that you are going to send out. Plan well in advance for what you are going to talk about.
  2. Build the e-newsletter with short articles that highlights thinks that the customer is interested in, more general news and information, and what is planned for the next e-newsletter.
  3. Each article has a link for the customer to take some action on the information
  4. There is a historical archive of all the articles that is searchable
  5. There is an RSS feed to allow customers to track when new articles are available
  6. Allow customers to update their preferences, including opt-out

As always, if you have any questions or comments, please do let me know. I would be happy to help.

Choosing the right technology – Not the new shiny object

There is saying that ‘Tools Follow Process not Vice Versa’. It is very tempting, but false, to think that any business problem can be solved thru the use of technology. The bright new shiny object may actually be the worst investment to make. In addition to onboarding the new technology, the users will also need education.

The starting point is to understand the users, what they are trying to do, how successful they are, as well as how they do things and the environment. Collecting web and user statistics will provide you with a solid foundation in understanding the problem space.

What happens if it all goes away?

You have spent a lot of time and effort to build a stellar online presence. What happens if something goes wrong? Can you recover your great Facebook page with a healthy set of likes? What about your followers on Twitter, or your connections on LinkedIn? Maybe you have an online store with loyal customers that suddenly went offline.

Here are some easy to follow steps to help you smoothly get back online.

  1. When you create or edit content, keep a local copy of the content and the original artwork. This allows you to quickly rebuild your online presence.
  2. Create a local, and up to date, record of your customers, likes, followers, and connections; along with profile information. When you are back online, reach out to contacts to have them re-connect.

How to create the right impression with your customers

You think that you know your own business reasonably well, but do your really know whether your online customers, partners, and prospects see you in the same way? And what can you do about creating a better and more favorable online impression.

A few simple things that you can do on a quarterly basis, to get you started, are:

  1. Look at your web analytics results to see if the search terms used to find you match your expectation.
  2. Do a browser search for the name of your business, products, and services that you offer. Include Yelp, Better Business Bureau, and other ‘rating’ sites. Compare what you find against what you expect.
  3. Review any customer emails, comments and feedback. Look for common themes, trends, or anything that was unexpected.
  4. Use this information to identify one problem impression that you want to work on for the next quarter; and determine how you will measure success.
  5. If you continue to see the same problem over and over again, consider breaking the problem into smaller pieces.
  6. Rinse and repeat each quarter.

Contact us for a free assessment and recommendations on how to improve your online presence.

How come I get all these visitors to my site, but no sales

Doesn’t it just frustrate the heck out of you. You see all these visitors coming to your site, but nothing seems to happen. What can you do to turn things around ?

Try to find out what your visitors are up to. Do they just come to your home page and then go away. Or, maybe they get into the site and then leave without doing anything?

Using Google Analytics, or another analytics tool, will help you better understand the behavior of your visitors. Based on the analytics reports, some things to consider are:

  1. Changing your home page and meta tags can improve the quality of the visitors
  2. Changing the ‘offer’ that you make can make it more appealing for a visitor to respond and contact you
  3. Changing the wording and placement of the on-page links, to make them more visible and to fine tune the call to action

Contact us for a free assessment and recommendations for your setting up and managing your analytics.

How to avoid getting buried by your online marketing

Do you find yourself writing posts, just for the sake of reaching people; or even trying to find new ways to say the same thing over and over again. This is not a productive use of your time, and can be very confusing for your customers. Here are some quick tips to make your life easier.

  1. Use your favorite calendar tool to schedule out when you are going to publish on a regular basis. This could be weekly, monthly, or possibly quarterly. The emphasis here is that you have a regular and predictable schedule.
  2. For each publishing schedule entry, line up the main topic that you are going to talk about. For example: There may be seasonal changes to your products that you want to talk about.
  3. Compose the content in blocks. Identify the specific type of customer that this is for. That allows you to reuse the content across channels (Email, Twitter, Blog,…) and to have is customized for your audience
  4. In the message set the expectation of how frequently you will be sending messages out, and what the topic will be. For example: “Check back next week for our newsletter on Fall specials”

Contact us for a free assessment and recommendations for your marketing needs.

E-commerce ? Yes/No/Maybe

Support for online transactions is now considered a given.

But what does that mean for your online presence? Perhaps you already provide support, or maybe you are considering your options. Whatever your circumstances, here are some points to consider

  1. How easy is it to add, or remove, options; or to scale up and down. As your business evolves, your e-commerce system has support those changes.
  2. If you have both a physical and virtual store, your e-commerce solution may need to tie both together; especially if you manage inventory.
  3. What fraud, security and other protections does the e-commerce solution provide?
  4. Being able to download records, or integrate with your back office/account systems, allows your operation to be more seamless.
  5. Be cautious about any ‘locked in’ long term contracts with solution providers as you want to have the option to move to another platform if needed.
  6. What upgrade, maintenance, outage, fail safe, and other support does the solution provide. The overall reliability of your e-commerce solution is critical to you business.
  7. What pricing schemes are available, and can they be customized and adapted as needed?

Contact us for a free assessment and recommendations for your e-commerce needs.

Keep your online profile current, as underwriters do review your online profile.

When applying for a business loan, insurance, or other program that needs underwriting it is very common for the underwriters to do an online search. If your online profile is not current, and does not fully reflects your business, you may have an unexpected difficulty.

In addition, a new customer or vendor will most likely also do an online search.

Contact us for a free assessment and recommendations for your setting up and managing your online profile.

Measuring Online Sucess

How do you know which parts of your online presence are successful, and which parts need improvement ? Here are some first steps to get you started.

  1. List out the ‘things’ that you want your customers to do on your web site. For example: buy something, request a quotation, contact you for support, view a catalog.
  2. For each of the things, itemize the offerings. For example: The SKU and price for each purchase items, the topic of the support request.
  3. Categorize each of these things by the action that a visitor might take. For example: View offer, make request
  4. Create a spreadsheet that lists the ‘things’, their options, and possible actions. Rank each line in order of importance to your business.
  5. Use a Web Analytics Tool, to add these as “site events” to your web site. Create reports to track progress. Wikipedia has a great article about Web Analytics, that gets you started on thinking about how to track online behavior.
  6. Each month, review the analytics report for both the site traffic and the site events. Plot the results in a spreadsheet, and build trend lines

Please do contact me to learn more about how you can use Web Analytics to measure your online success, and create actionable insights.


Myths and Realities of being in the Cloud

Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and many others offer an amazing, and often confusing, array of ‘cloud’ solutions. Microsoft has Office 365 and Azure. Google has Cloud Computing and Cloud Services. Amazon has its Web Services and Cloud Platform.

What does the cloud offer

  • A central location to store documents, manage a common calendar, and process email; enabling you and your team to obtain current information from wherever there is an internet connection.
    • You no longer have to worry about ensuring that every computer has the latest files.
  • The ability to easily share information and work-in-process with partners and customers; allowing them to make corrections/comments as  needed.
    • You no longer need to trace through email threads to find out what was sent to the customer.
  • Allows you to select only the tools and applications that you need; ensuring that you always have the most up-to-date version, where you only pay for what you use.
    • You pick and choose what you need, knowing that it is current.

What the cloud does not do

  • Manage your security and passwords. One of the biggest fears is that someone will hack into your online data.  To minimize this risk:
    • Require that everyone who has access to use ‘strong’ passwords.
    • Always set up administrator passwords, and change them frequently
  • Maintain local backups. Data loss is another major concern about using the cloud
    • Even though the cloud provides backup, always make a local backup that is stored offsite.
    • Have a disaster recovery plan.
  • Be the solution to all your problems. The sales pitch for the cloud can be very compelling.

If you need advice, have a comment or question, please do let me know. I would be delighted to assist.