HOW TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR EMAIL MARKETING

May 9, 2012

An email marketing campaign requires significant effort and time and for it then not to provide you the expected results can be demoralising. In this blog I want to provide some advice that will prevent you making the mistakes and will reward your efforts.

Email marketing is a key communication tool to all businesses and should be used on a regular basis to drive traffic to your website and through your doors by highlighting future events, special offers and developments within your business.

An email marketing campaign aims to drive traffic to your website or Facebook business page so that customers or potential customers can learn more about your business whether or not they are actively looking for a service like yours. Direct marketing has been used in business for years but the benefits of an email is that it allows you to make a purchase immediately just with a click and the success of the campaign can be measured, so it can be managed.

The process of starting an email campaign begins with the database and the process will be more successful if the recipients already have an affinity with your business, so therefore we should build our own database. This can be developed in a number of ways, including:

  • Offer something complimentary, which requires people to submit their email address to obtain it. This could be a variety of things like business advice, an add onto another purchase or discount voucher
  • Business card draws
  • Customer feedback forms
  • Newspaper editorial with a competition
  • Offering email promotions via websites and social media sites for people who subscribe
  • Producing flyers with offers only redeemable by providing email address
  • Acquiring email addresses when people make a purchase
  • Invite people to join/follow your social media sites
  • Via reservation systems

It is very important to ensure that this database is maintained and constantly added to. Having established the database we now have to consider the content and presentation of the email.

We have to start with the subject title. This needs to be appealing to encourage people to open the email and read on but should not be in capitals, have exclamation marks or contain words such as free, save, discount or £££. Content containing this is classified as spam and your email may not be delivered.

The email will be better far better received if it starts with a personal address, like Hi John, because it creates a relationship by addressing the receiver by their first name.

When considering the content remember that most email providers show a preview of the email in the recipients inbox so ensure that there is a captivating offer at the start of your email. Once you have the content to capture the attention of your audience you need a powerful image to attract the eye. Having retained your reader with your captivating offer and supporting powerful image then you can add any further messages you wish to convey.

With the content we need to ensure that we obtain the right result by getting the reader to click to make the purchase or reservation. Research conducted into this tells us that readers respond better to a plain bold blue text link, like for more information go to as opposed to a large banner or button. If this action directs people to a website ensure that it directs them to the correct page so that do not have to look around the website for what they want, otherwise they will have lost interest. The whole process should be no more than two or three clicks.

At the bottom of the email always provide your readers with the opportunity to unsubscribe from the database.

When you have completed the email thoroughly check it prior to sending for spelling and punctuation. Any errors will have an adverse effect on your business.

Do not bombard your database with constant emails; they should be limited to one or two per month. Also always ensure you are offering something of value and interest to the recipients as having gone to the hard work of capturing their details you do not want to turn them against you.

Let’s summarise the key points to consider, ensuring your email marketing campaign is a success again and again.

  • To avoid getting flagged up as spam avoid words such as free, discount, save, £££ etc in both the subject line and content of your email
  • Do not use capital letters and exclamation marks in the subject line
  • Thoroughly check spelling and punctuation
  • The best days for sending out an email campaign is Tuesday or Wednesday and preferably early afternoon between 2 and 3pm.
  • Ensure that you maintain consistency with your emails to maintain and strengthen your brand. Create an email/news letter template
  • You need a powerful subject line and start to an email. You have about half a second to attract the recipients attention
  • Email providers show a preview of email in the inbox so ensure interesting content at the top of the email
  • Personalising the email is very powerful, so start the email with the recipient’s first name.
  • Research tells us that email recipients will respond to a plain bold blue text link as opposed to a banner or a button
  • Ensure that the email contains an unsubscribe statement

 

 


ENHANCING THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

March 27, 2012

In looking at enhancing our customer experience we never have to lose sight of the fact that the customer is King. In today’s very competitive market place it’s those businesses that put themselves out for their customer and also train this philosophy into all their team that succeed, to help your team get on board with this why not offer them an incentive for exceptional customer service. The cost of getting new customers is a big cost to which you also need to allocate time and resource to do this all of which can be better utilised in more effective ways. How do we keep our customers, there are a number of key things we need to consider.

COMMUNICATION

Ensure you maintain regular communication with your customers and the most effective way of doing this is by email. Firstly we need to ensure that we capture all our customers email addresses and then when we email them ensure it is personal to them, you know how you feel when you receive a personalised email. This regular email does not always have to sell them something just keep them informed of what’s happening, so that when they do want to use your service or buy one of your products you are at the forefront of their mind. Also actively encourage customer feedback with a customer comment book, satisfaction surveys and then when you receive useful comments act upon it and let the customer see that you have taken their advice.

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Look at the products and services you offer and build up additional products and services to offer your customers. If you don’t have any products or services further to offer look at companies in a similar market place and set up a joint venture to extend your offer to these existing companies, remember there is more profit from a relationship with an existing customer. Customers always want to know what is in it for them, what benefits can they receive, so look to add perceived value by adding something on, a great example is Sunday newspapers giving away free CDs/DVDs which customers perceive as to having a value of about ten times the value of the paper, but to the paper it is very little cost.

MARKETING

All forms of communication with your customers, be it websites, correspondence, emails, advertising, menus or price lists reflect on your business so regularly take a ruthless look at these and ensure they are portraying the correct image. Ensure in all your marketing material you focus on the benefits to your customers, not the features of the company, tell them how you can add value to them. The majority of our customers are coming to us via the internet so use this and your emarketing effectively, ensuring that you use the opportunities to capture email addresses. One of the most effective ways of achieving this is by offering something free. We should all look at turning our businesses into multi level marketing machines. Advertising is very expensive and not as effective as the marketing tools we all have already at our fingertips. We can also capture further customer information by asking them what they think of our services in the form of customer satisfaction questionnaires and when we receive this feedback we should always take all comments on board in our journey to improve quality and exceed customer expectations. Also look at the major high street retailers and how they capture all the information about our shopping habits on their store cards and then target us with specific offers why not offer your customers a loyalty card. It is estimated that 68% of people leave a business because of indifference, correspond regularly with your customers. There is a golden rule in marketing that will make you wealthy, once you have someone’s details keep on following up until they buy, die or tell you to stop.

STAFF

The people who most represent our business in focusing on the customer are our staff and used correctly they can add significant value, so keep them informed and involve them, they can be a source of valuable information. Look at their communication methods and skills and ensure like your marketing material they are portraying a positive message. It is your staff that can upsell to your customers. Look at the fast food chains who are the greatest exploiters of upselling, by asking at every transaction is that large or super and of this upsell 85% is profit and though a single transaction does not offer a lot, do it a million times a day and it makes a very large difference. Also allow your team to be involved in the business, hold regular brainstorming sessions, you will be amazed where some of the best ideas come from. If the staff are involved in the business and are made to feel part of the decision process, then you will see return in their loyalty and effort in moving the business forward. Always Remember

Together

Everyone

Achieves

More


USE YOUTUBE TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS

March 1, 2012

WHY HAVEN’T YOU CONSIDERED UTILISING YOUTUBE FOR BUSINESS

YouTube was founded in 2005 and it describes itself as a platform which allows billions of people to watch and share originally created videos. It provides a forum for people to connect, inform and inspire others across the globe. YouTube is now a subsidiary of Google and has 800 million registered users and only last month it announced that it currently has four billion video views a day!!

For business YouTube can be utilised as a highly effective tool to share knowledge, market your products and connect with actual and potential customers and colleagues. It will help to build more personal relationships with your client base and it does not require a big budget, just a video camera, creativity and time to plan. Let’s highlight some of the uses for YouTube in your business:

  • Upload recordings of presentations to demonstrate public speaking skills
  • Create videos of valuable tips for your customers
  • Interview an expert
  • Record a meeting to share with employees and shareholders
  • Advertise your YouTube channel in all of your marketing materials
  • Explain your product or service
  • Utilise it as an active website
  • Introduce your team
  • Video your venue/premises

The key to ensuring that your video is a success and portrays the correct message is in the planning; do not try to short cut this as it will surely back fire on you. Your clip needs to inform, educate and entertain your audience. Prior to starting your video consider these key points:

  • Good content – ensure that you engage with your audience so they want to share the clip with their friends
  • Plan ahead – start with a clear vision of what you want to achieve and your target audience. Planning will save time and energy and ensure better content
  • Don’t think like it should be a commercial. It should be a soft sell, entertaining viewers, offering valuable information and marketing indirectly
  • It needs to be a high quality production as this will reflect on your business
  • Keep it short and precise and under two to three minutes as YouTube viewers tend to have a short attention span. Longer content can be broken down into a number of clips
  • Attracting traffic to your video works in the same way as your website so the title and summary to your video has to utilise search engine optimisation (SEO). When deciding on the title and headline ensure you select words and phrases that when potential customers are searching online the search engines decide that your video is the best match.

Once you have uploaded your video don’t just forget it invest time and energy in promoting it. You should post links to your video everywhere including your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, tweet about it, company stationery, email signature and all your marketing material.

You also need to ensure that you are achieving a return on investment and YouTube has very good analytical and demographic information so review this to check that your video is reaching the write audience and if not correct it to maximise return.

 


DO YOU BLOG FOR THE BENEFIT OF YOUR BUSINESS

February 22, 2012

Blogging is a powerful part of a business’s marketing and customer communication programme. It allows you to communicate better with stakeholders of all types fromcustomers to suppliers and from partners to employees.

A blog can be particularly beneficial in.

  •  Differentiating your business, products and services
  • Attracting prospects and developing new business opportunities
  • Promoting your business through the media and online public relations
  • Acting as a central element of your search engine marketing
  • Researching and developing new markets, products or niches
  • Developing communication channels to your market
  • It provides the opportunity for you to be seen as an expert in your field, enhancing your business reputation
  • Helping to enhance and build your visibility and brand
  • Improving internal communication

From the above you can see that blogging is an effective business tool and also is very cost effective as well.

A typical blog combines text, images and links to other blogs or websites. The modern blog evolved from the online diary, where people keep a running account of their lives. There are approximately 200 million public blogs in existence and it can be another free means of marketing your business.

How do you get started? There are a number of blogging platforms that will host your blogging site for free or you can opt to pay. I opted for the free options and utilise Blogger.com, part of the Google Empire and WordPress.com. Both of these sites provide you with a selection of free templates and your own address, i.e. http://www.davidholt1.wordpress.com. There is no requirement for any technical expertise, no web designer required, to write a blog, your pages are added through a Windows type interface. All of your blog posts have their own individual address for ever so that you can refer and direct people to them in articles, emails, newsletters etc.

Once you have decided on which blog platform to host your blogs it is very simple, just enter your details where it states create an account and then you can start blogging by adding words, videos and pictures. When you have finished your blog, you can opt for allowing people to comment or not, preview your work and then when you are ready hit publish and it is live. With hosted blog platforms they go onto domains that already have good page rankings, so your blog gets picked up and ranked very quickly by the search engines. Your blog should not be one long sales pitch, your aim should be to focus on helping others, so if you are a catering establishment provide your readers with new recipes and if you sell wine provide your readers information on the different types of grapes and backgrounds to a wine of the month. When writing your blog, you should remember your first audience is the search engines, so mention your subject as often as possible in the first paragraph as this will help your search engine rankings. You should be personal in your blog as blogging is informal by nature, so there is no requirement for a poetic master piece, but be aware that the biggest fear of business blogging is someone will judge your business on a misspelt word or grammatical error.

 


DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS?

February 10, 2012

DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO PROMOTE YOUR BUSINESS?

If the answer is no I am sure your competitors are. What do I mean by social media, well as opposed to reading a newspaper or listening to views, with social media you are able to interact with the website and interact with other visitors to the site, it is a two way street that allows you to communicate with your customers.

Did you know that:-

  • twitter averages more than 40 million tweets per day, MySpace has more than 250 million subscribers and on Facebook there are over 600 million searches and 30 billion page views a month.

The use of social media might not appeal to all of us, that’s not what matters it’s what our customers want and it is far more effective than direct advertising and it can be self generating if it creates interest and causes comments from your followers.

So what are the most effective, it really depends which market you want to target, generally if you want to aim at a younger market then Facebook is the best, if you want to target a business market then LinkedIn would be a better option. You are able to create company pages on both options and you can post regular news, offers, job opportunities and company background and all at no cost. There are many companies that take the opportunity very seriously and pay more focus to developing these pages than their websites and employ one of the many experts in Social Media Marketing, take a look at Chessington World of Adventure on Facebook as an example of what I mean.

In person, or even in one-on-one e-mail, there is a practical limit to how many people you can meaningfully connect with in a given amount of time. But in an online community or weblog, you can carry on public conversations, potentially reaching hundreds or even thousands of people with the same effort as a single e-mail. For conversations that do not need to be confidential, such as a discussion of market trends or of companies and products in a particular market segment, a public discussion will increase visibility for your company and provide additional assistance in identifying your potential partners and connecting with them. Your entire network becomes a part-time business development staff for your company.

Networking online allows you to reach more people with less effort; to more quickly identify and connect with the right people; and to reduce travel time and expense, both local and long-distance. You do not need to attend business networking meetings to extend your database it’s just a click away so start using these resources now.


UTILISING FACEBOOK FOR BUSINESS

February 3, 2012

Facebook is the giant of social media providing you with access to over 400 million potential customers, which is growing every day. It is utilised to phenomenal success by all the large brands, the most successful of which is Starbucks who have more than 5.5 million fans. All the major brands see it as a major opportunity to interact with customers, but it can also work for smaller organisations, you just need to buy into the ideals and that means embracing engagement and interaction. Do not expect immediate overnight success, it will take time, so start small with asking family and friends to sign up to your page.

How do we get started? Facebook is a simple free product for promoting your business, start by creating a page. The first step is to choose a page title, it needs to be memorable and reflect your business, so use your business name and make it easy for your customers to find you. When you have created your page, you now need to personalise it to your business:

Start by adding a photo which reflects your business, it may be a logo, sign from outside your business or a photo of business frontage.

  • Location- make sure customers know where your business is
  • Apps – Your page can be enhanced with customised apps that will allow you to share your menu, You Tube Clips, photos and details of forthcoming events
  • Wall posts – Tell your potential and existing customers what is happening in your business, special offers, new items and events, this allows your friends to comment and share with their friends providing the potential to increase your customer base

When you add your profile picture, you need to be aware that this will be utilised as the icon that appears next to all your posts. Therefore you need to ensure that when your profile picture is reduced it reflects good visual branding, to do this hover your mouse over profile picture and click on “change picture” that appears in right hand corner of the image, then click edit thumbnail, click and drag image until it looks good then click save. See example posting from my business page below:

 This simple to prepare delicious healthy dish can be served on its own or with mixed salad leaves or lightly cooked vegetables. Ingredients 2 Salmon fillets approx 120g each 100g Couscous Juice of half a lemon Zest of half a lemon, shredded small clove of……

The next step is to start talking to your customers; Facebook users want interaction and attention.  You need to post to your page regular:

  • Photos from events
  • Details about new products, forthcoming events
  • Utilise it as free way to conduct market research, you can poll your customers and gauge interaction before implementing a new idea
  • Offer benefits and discounts exclusively to Facebook followers
  • Allow time each day to check your page so that you can respond to any comments

Having implemented all of the above you will begin to see the benefits, remember it will not be an immediate overnight success, it will take time, but it will be rewarding. We now need to look at how we can expand the reach of our page:

  • Tell your customers who come into your business to “Like us on Facebook” by displaying signs
  • Promote your page by adding a link to all your business stationery, flyers, business cards and email signature
  • You can advertise on Facebook and this can be marketed directly to Facebook users in your close proximity
  • Encourage your Facebook followers to tell their friends about your business

If you would like to see how some business utilise Facebook check out the pages for Alton Towers and McDonalds, but also check out your local competitors and see what they are doing.

 WHAT ADVERTISING CAN GIVE YOU ACCESS TO ALL THESE

 POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS FOR FREE!!


UTILISING LINKEDIN FOR BUSINESS

January 24, 2012

ARE YOU ON LINKEDIN AND DO YOU UTILISE IT FOR YOUR BUSINESS

LinkedIn is a business related social network site founded in December 2002 and now has 120 million registered users and this is growing at a rate of two new members per second. It is a wealth of knowledge, just ask a question and there are hundreds of experts out there willing to help and answer your question, engage with these people and interact in their discussions to help your business grow.

If you are not on LinkedIn or if you haven’t created a company page on the site here are some of the facts why you should:

  •  120 million registered users
  • Growing at a rate of two users per second
  • Over 200 countries are represented
  • Over half of the users are outside the USA
  • More than 2 million companies have a company page

LinkedIn is a great asset to your business and can save you time and money and be far more effective than advertising here are some reasons why:

  •  Compelling and relevant content will grab the attention of potential customers/business partners and increase brand visibility
  • You can respond almost instantly to industry developments and become heard in your field
  • It can be much cheaper and far more effective than traditional advertising, recruitment and promotional activities
  • LinkedIn content can indirectly boost links to website content by appearing in universal search results, improving search traffic and online sales
  • It gives access to a wealth of experienced professionals when recruiting
  • It can help you gather valuable business and market place intelligence

If you are just starting out on LinkedIn or starting a new company page then the priority has to be completing your profile as fully as possible, networking is all about relationships. The more people and businesses know about you, the closer that relationship. Once you have completed your profile then look for connections start with people you have previously worked with and then once you are connected, search their connections and see who else you know and can connect with. You should also explore the Groups section and join groups that have an affiliation with your area of business expertise, study the daily bulletins for these groups and see where you can add benefit to the dialogue, this allows you to reach like minded professionals, become seen as an expert in your field and also increase your knowledge. This will lead to recommendations and help build new relationships. The more interaction on LinkedIn the more respect you will gain and it will assist your business to grow and direct traffic to your website. In reverse you should ensure that you post the LinkedIn logo on a prominent place on your website and link it to your company or personal LinkedIn page.

With so many minds able to network together, crowd sourcing and open innovation allow people to work together on a massive scale. By involving your online contact network in your company, you can benefit from:

  • The wisdom and creativity of people outside your own workforce
  • The increased likelihood of people picking up on and developing innovative ideas   that might otherwise go unrecognised
  • The outside perspective of customers – and potential customers – who may see issues and opportunities you’re unaware of
  • Increased customer loyalty and brand advocacy that comes from having a say in your company’s offer
  • Lower costs when developing new products or enhancements, and more certain  market success for them

One of the other great things about LinkedIn is its interaction with other social media sites, so if you tweet on Twitter it will simultaneously appear on your LinkedIn profile. This helps to reinforce your name as regular status updates keeps your name at the forefront of people’s minds.

If you need to know more about LinkedIn there are social media experts in your area that can provide you with this information, search them out on the web.

 

                                                                    

 

 


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