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Archive for “Leverage Business Technology”

What to consider when creating an email marketing campaign?

1. Determine your ROI. One quick way is to estimate the time it takes you to produce the email, include design and content time, and multiply it by how much that time is worth. Add the cost of your email marketing provider (typically based on the size of your list). If you are not receiving as much or more revenue from the email blast, it’s time to rethink your approach.

2. Rethink your approach.

a. Target lists. Like direct mail, lists are about quality, not quantity. If you think of email marketing like you think of inbound marketing, you’ll need to hyper target. Separate your lists into different user segments. Sites like beauty.com will send customers relevant offers based on their last purchase. If someone purchases a skin care product, more offers are sent about skin care products. If you own a retail store, separate your buyers based on what brand they purchase and send targeted emails to those customers. Be careful not to spend too much time on this if you have a small list. It has to produce a strong enough ROI to keep going.

b. Create one design. Customize the design to your brand instead of just using one of the templates provided. Why? It’s worthwhile to show your brand each time a piece of communication is sent out.

c. Use clear language. This should be a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many emails I get with grammar and spelling errors, incomplete sentences, and copy that just doesn’t make sense. If the email is well written and error free, your recipients will think you took the time to care.

d. Personalize the e-mail. You’ll fail in your email communication if your emails are primarily about you or your company instead of about how you can help the recipient. Think “what’s in it for them” if you want them to read after the first paragraph.

e. Create a special offer. Sometimes considered a “call to action,” this is where someone will take an action. Be smart about it and use a tracking code to an ecommerce web design page you specifically created just for that email.

3. Work with your email marketing provider. Most of these providers have a customer support team that offer tricks and tips to improve open rates – use them. Some companies even provide one-on-one phone advice.

4. Consider mobile devices. Yes, it’s true that most people aren’t going to buy something from their mobile device, but they do take notice and put a reminder to purchase later on. That said, make sure the company you outsource has applications allowing recipients to see text and images on their devices. You can help by keeping copy simple and to a minimum amount of characters and sending out a text version instead of HTML.

5. Analyze results. Going back to the tracking code, your e-mail provider should have an easy-to-use system where you can go in and look at each piece of communication sent out and analyze how many people opened, where people clicked, etc. The landing page is an additional page you can create that if set up with analytics can provide more data.

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According to recent research (more than 600 companies) from Clash-Media, e-mail marketing is now the most favored method of online lead generation in the United States. It’s also estimated that more than 80 percent of businesses will spend more money on e-mail marketing by the end of this year. Before you take the time to [...]

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Why Do You Need a Copywriter?

If you are tempted to save money and write your own marketing materials and website copy, please stop and think about it. Although copywriters may be expensive, they can help you: – Optimize conversion rates; – Build credibility; – Reach targeted audiences; – Increase search engine placements; – Assist you with your overall, Web architecture; [...]

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How a Professional Answering Service Raises the Bar

I just cringe when I call a business and get some home recording message from a 1980′s answering machine. All home-based businesses need a professional answering service. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur looking for a professional “staff member” (i.e. virtual phone service) to field calls, or an at-home sales rep missing sales leads because you are on the phone in a client meeting, answering services are cheap and immediately handle your communications when needed. A professional answering service moves you up from the “trying to make a few bucks” category to the “sustainable and trusting business” category. Plus, once your business starts to boom with hundreds of inbound calls for your services and products, you’ll be able to manage, and respond to each one efficiently. And, when your power goes out or when you must run a quick errand, someone, or “something” will be there.

Professional answering services are easy to find and most telephone service companies offer as an added-value feature in addition to your phone service. But what potential problems might happen and what services are available to you?

There are four major types of answering services: automated, live, Internet and call centers. Automated is what we are used to where the caller will need to press a number to obtain further information. If you want to appear “larger” in employee size, you could create separate lines for departments, or even insert fake names. This type of system works well if you just want to provide general information.

A live service is a bit more expensive in where you would contract out an operator and the operator decides whether to talk a message or patch through to you directly. The advantage to this type of service is a real human operator rather than an automated message at any time of the day. If you operate an online site where customers make purchases, a live service can help customers trust your business and feel at ease when placing an order. On the other hand, if you go over the set number of calls in your contract, it could get very, very expensive.

Internet-based services like Google Voice, or RingCentral, work by consolidating phone lines and routing them to the best line or providing voice mail options that go to a Web-based account. Most of these VoIP services that use a Web interface to manage incoming calls have additional features like routing calls, accepting faxes, forwarding text messages to cell phones, and receiving an automated receptionist. And, all you need to set it up is an Internet connection and the phones. With an Internet-based service, you might have sound quality issues if you have a slow or bad Internet connection. Some phone system companies will guarantee a certain number of minutes a month your service will not be interrupted, but most of the time you can’t negotiate this number. The advantage of using VoIP answering service is that you will be able to manage your business from anywhere in the nation.

Call centers are more on the telemarketing services side and helpful if you need a promotional product or sales push, or need an inbound call center to answer multiple phones ringing. AnswerConnect.com for example, offers live message taking, online order taking, paging and live call transfers delivering messages instantly to the customer’s email box for permanent storage. If you plan to outsource your answering services needs to a call center, or use appointment setters to take online orders, etc., you should spend time training, providing copy and monitoring (or listening) to the calls to ensure the company is professional and speaks accurately to your business.

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I just cringe when I call a business and get some home recording message from a 1980′s answering machine. All home-based businesses need a professional answering service. Whether you are a solo entrepreneur looking for a professional “staff member” (i.e. virtual phone service) to field calls, or an at-home sales rep missing sales leads because [...]

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Benefits of a POS System for your Hospitality-based Business

Chances are, you’ve seen a POS system in action. “POS” is an abbreviation for “point-of-sale-” the most basic POS systems calculate payment amounts and process customer payments, similar to a cash register. However, they aren’t just calculators. Most hospitality-based systems use POS systems in order to track inventory and labor costs, forecast business volumes and [...]

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Are You Guilty of These 3 Web Sins?

Whether you are creating a new Web site or reviewing the one you already have, there are three key factors to keep in mind. Are you guilty of these three Web site sins? 1. Visitors can’t get the information they need. This is pretty obvious, but often overlooked. It can be enticing to use fancy videos, [...]

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StartupNation on ABC News Now, helps an entrepreneur in need

Tory Johnson, frequent reporter on ABC’s Good Morning America show and anchor of the ABC NewsNow series focusing on careers asked for a little StartupNation love recently. One of her faithful fans, Natalie, of ChicSweets, asked for ideas about how to move her business forward on a variety of levels, especially in the transition from part-time [...]

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5 Killer B2B Digital Strategies

Companies that sell to other businesses (Business-To-Business, or B2B), know that there are certain aspects to their online marketing that take on added importance when compared to Business-To-Consumer, or B2C, online marketing. In order to fuel business growth online, B2B firms should explore the following five killer B2B digital strategies: 1. Speak to the Right [...]

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Is Twitter Part of Your PR Activities?

Twitter, http://twitter.com/, is a great way to build buzz about your products and services. But if you are using it for media relations activities, here are a few tips to keep in mind: 1. Keep it professional. Although you want to reach out to followers on a personal level, keep it professional and provide valuable information. [...]

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Go Paperless and Grow-David Durick, gotoBilling.com

On Tuesday, we heard from David Durick of gotoBilling, www.gotobilling.com. This business experienced a 307% volume increase during the recession so I sat down with David to get his insights for other small business owners. Here is the rest of that interview and more of David’s tips: What kind of marketing and publicity activities have helped GTB [...]

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How Do You Grow During a Recession?

Some companies are doing well during these tough economic times. That’s why I sat down with David Durick of gotoBilling, www.gotobilling.com, to find out the secret to their success (and how marketing has played a role in their significant growth over the past year). Here’s what David had to say… What do you do at [...]

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PR Does Not Equal Press Release

The first thing that many new entrepreneurs think about when they hear “public relations” is sending out a press release. Sure, a press release can help build buzz online.   But if you want a feature story written about your business, it’s essential to pitch specific media members directly.   And with today’s economy, this [...]

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eCommerce: 45 Tips to Turbocharge Your Sales

If you are the owner of an eCommerce website,  you are continuously looking for ways to improve the conversion rate on your site and to drive more sales. To that end, here are 45 tips to turbocharge your eCommerce site: Define Your Audience Segment your audience by lifetime value. Segment your audience by recency (When [...]

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What is your SEO Team Doing?

Are you getting results from your current, SEO efforts? If not, why not? I’ve talked to several CEOs lately who were not sure why their SEO activities were not bringing in sales. After a closer look at their Web sites, here are some of the problems I found: – The Web design team wrote the [...]

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How Merchant Services Work

Businesses that accept credit cards are a distinct advantage when it comes to attracting customers. With over 3/4 of the American population using some form of plastic to pay for regular purchases, you can’t afford not to offer a credit card payment option. Merchant Account Basics In order to accept credit card payments, you’ll need [...]

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Small Business Profile: OutspokenMedia.com

To follow up on a previous post requesting feedback on topics and offering to highlight members of the community, I learned of Outspoken Media, Inc.—an internet marketing startup that was founded in January by three women who wanted more for their clients. Partner Rae Hoffman just finished 20th in the recent Startup Mom competition, an [...]

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Success Tips from Ari Rabban of Phone.com

Recently, I heard about a new kind of phone company and their PR tactics. Here, Ari Rabban, CEO of Phone.com, www.phone.com, shares his thoughts and insights on success: Tell us about Phone.com. Phone.com is a new kind of phone company, Or, as we like to call it, a Phone.Company. We offer innovative services based on [...]

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