Getting More Customers – Using Email Marketing

I am sure you get lots of email with offers and enticements.  They sit in your in box right next to emails from your friends, colleagues and relatives.  Email is a very personal sales channel.  As a result, the more personalized your message is, the more effective it will be.

The first step is to develop an email list of potential customers.  The best way to do this is to build it through your other marketing efforts.  You can capture it on your website in return for something such as special offers, access to premium content such as white papers or how to instructions, at the bottom of your blog posts or by offering something free such as a short free seminar or video.  Please don’t be tempted to buy bulk email lists and send to them.  This is spam and hurts your reputation and your company in the long run.  Also, be sure to give recipients an easy way to opt out and give yourself an easy way to keep your list updated so you don’t get into legal trouble.

You want to engage your customers with email to the point they become a customer.  The first thing to understand is that you want the recipient to understand the value of your product or service.  Why else would they buy or recommend you?  One way to do this is to send a sequence of emails that reveal important features and those features’ value.  You want to establish what your customer needs to know to get value from your product and be sure all of these topics or steps are understood through your emails.

Besides using email to get new customers, you also want to use it to stimulate repeat buying or recommendations to others.  Remember, it is much easier and less expensive to get a happy customer to buy again than to acquire a new customer.  The focus of these types of emails should be to get customers to feel good about their purchase on an emotional level.

Another use of email is to up sell customers.  In particular if you have different versions of a product (with differing features) that are bought repeatedly or different versions of a service, again with differing features, you can use email to be sure customers know about the additional features and understand their value and how it affects them.

Finally, you can use email to stimulate your customers to refer your company’s products to others.  This is often accomplished by offering some incentive such as a discount that they can use or that the person they are referring can use.

As with all the other sales channels, it is essential to A/B test every aspect of your emails: the subjects, formats, images, timing, differing personalization strategies, etc.  You want to see what works and go with that.  Open rates and conversion to purchase should be tacked.  Timing is all important with emails.  You can use tools to track when emails are opened individually by each customer and then send batches of emails to your customers at the times they are most likely to read them.  While this is complicated, I have had helped customers do this and I can tell you that it was incredibly effective.  One final tip, do not send anything from a no reply email.  Remember, this is personal.

Busting 5 Myths About Small-Business Lending

This article gives some practical information about small business lending.  It mentions that for most small business, the business owner’s personal credit score is often most important.  But there are other factors including cash flow, a marketing plan or a business plan.

I would like to add to the article by pointing out that most business owners need to guarantee a small business loan so you are on the hook either way.  So go for the cheapest lending source (which might be a personal loan) unless you want your company to establish credit itself.  Even with a company credit history of ten years or so, you are still most likely going to be required to guarantee the loan personally so that is a very long term goal in the life of a small business.

See the complete article at https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/248445

Getting More Customers – Using Content Marketing

Content Marketing is all about using the content on your site to get more customers.  The idea is to have content on your site that people feel is useful and share it with others so much so that the content is spreading on its own.  If you are blogging or have white papers or useful tools you want to get hundreds of comments which lead to free publicity and results in lots of shares.  This is massive engagement and this leads to massive growth.

The secret of having shareable content is to write about or provide information about some problem your potential customers did not know about or could not put their finger on.  To get started with blogging for instance, you need to come up with topics of interest and blog about them.  Then you can try to find some online forums where your topics are being discussed and do your best to contribute.  You can potentially take this to the next level by doing some guest posting in these forums.

As time goes on, you should monitor social mentions of your posts and use analytics to identify which types of posts are getting the most attention.  This way, you can provide more content that your audience will respond to.

The big benefit of using this channel is that it positions you as a leader in your space. When you are a leader, you get a voice in your industry and opportunities for even more influence and engagement through conferences, press releases, being quoted by journalists, etc.  It also complements other things you are doing in other sales channels such as Search Engine Optimization.

Boost Your Small Business Tech Innovations

This article suggests some ways to get more customers and use common applications to boost productivity.  I especially like the use of software in the cloud which I recommend rather than buying locally installed software.  This facilitates access from anywhere and eliminates the headaches of backups, software upgrades, etc.

See the complete article at https://socialnomics.net/2017/08/07/boost-your-small-business-with-these-tech-innovations/

Getting More Customers – Using Print, Radio and Other Offline Advertising

Today, advertisers spend more on offline advertising than online advertising.  It works for lots of companies but not for all companies.  There a lots of types including Radio, TV, magazines, newspapers and direct mail.

The demographics of each advertising medium are the single most important thing to consider when using offline advertising.  That is, where is the audience, what is their age, income, occupation, gender, race, etc. and how does it map to your target audience.  All the companies that sell advertising can tell you this.

How do you figure out where to advertise?  A good place to start is to ask your customers and go from there.

The biggest factor in the cost of advertising is the reach – how many people see the ad.  To be successful you need reach and frequency.  Your potential customers need to see your ad as many as six times before they even reach out and engage you.  If you are in a hurry, you need to have your potential customers see you every day, every week or even multiple times a day.

One of the biggest problems with offline ads is that the results are harder to track than online ads that mostly have good tracking mechanisms built in.  So you will need to be creative and try using special offer codes, tracking websites, special phone numbers, etc.

Print advertising has so many options, it can be used by most businesses.  In many cases, it offers precise targeting of an audience that might be one of your key target audiences.  For this to work you need great ads.  A compelling ad will have a great attention grabbing headline, an eye-catching picture or graphic and a crisp tagline or description of the benefits of your product or service.  It also needs something that gets your customer to do something now!, that is a call to action.

Direct mail can take many forms – letters, cards or even catalogs.  These can work but again you need to be smart about it.

For small business, radio advertising can be very effective though TV advertising is usually too costly to produce and show.

With all the ways to get more customers, I recommend that you find inexpensive ways to test out the method and increase effort and spending on what works.

Getting More Customers – Using Display and Social Ads

Display ads are those ads that appear on websites all over the internet and often appear at the top or side in a “banner” area often referred to as banner ads.  Social ads are the ads that appear on social sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

The biggest use of display and social ads is to improve the awareness of your brand or keep your brand top of mind.  Top of mind is important for companies that rely on repeat customers (e.g. stores) as well as companies that you only buy from occasionally (e.g. car companies, flood damage repair).  Sometimes these ads are used to elicit an action such as signing up for an email or to begin some other customer engagement.

Most display advertising is purchased from advertising aggregators that gather up (buy) advertising space across thousands of websites and sell it to companies like yours.  The big names are Google’s Display Network, Advertising.com, Tribal Fusion, Conversant and the like.  I happen to use adroll.com.  There are other ways to place ads such as on niche ad networks that focus on specific audiences or by going directly to site owners and ask to place an ad on their site for a fixed price.

The best thing about this type of advertising is that it brings brand and sometimes product awareness to people not really looking for it at that moment.  This of course does not mean that they might not want or need what you have in the near future.

Social ads are used to start a conversation with potential customers, engage them and eventually to convert them to actually be a customer.  For this you need compelling content that people actually want to read and share.

The major social sites are of course Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Tumblr, reddit, and YouTube.  LinkedIn is very useful for business to business marketing.  In fact, you are most likely to be reading this because you saw this posted on LinkedIn.  Foursquare allows small local businesses to target a hyper local population.

Customer Care: 7 Ways to Provide Stellar Customer Service on Social Media

This article suggests some good practices when interacting with customers on social media.  This is an important topic that I have posted on several times.  I especially want to emphasize that you need to keep your cool.

The full article can be found at http://www.business2community.com/social-media/customer-care-7-ways-provide-stellar-customer-service-social-media-01880821#x6laoMkSFku6lh5U.99

Getting More Customers – Using Search Engine Advertising

Search engine advertising (or search engine marketing-SEM) is the process of placing ads that show up depending on what keywords are being searched for.  They appear at both the top and bottom of the search page results bracketing the organic listings. This is also called pay per click (PPC) because the advertiser does not pay for the ad unless the customer clicks on the ad and is taken to a landing page associated with the ad.  So if you place an ad that you want displayed when someone types in “Business Consultant” and you bid enough for it, it can appear on the first page of Google.

To get started, you need to come up with keyword phrases that someone might use to find your product or service (in the same way you might do this for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) discussed last week).  Again, you can use Google Keyword Planner. The next step is to group keywords into groups of similar terms.  Using Google’s advertising platform AdWords, you write ads that will attract customers to click on them.  The ads need to have different ad copy that directly relates to the keywords in the group.  You can have has many groups of keywords and ads as you want.  You can relate various groups to a single campaign.  You then run the ads.  Potential customers click on the ads and are taken to your website and hopefully follow through with an inquiry or purchase.  To be most effective, the search keywords in the group need to directly relate to the ads which need to directly relate to the landing page.

AdWords measures the clicks you get as a percentage of the number of times the ad was shown.  This is called the click through rate.  When you set up the ad campaign, you decide on various bidding strategies as part of your ad budget and the maximum you want to pay per click for that ad.  When someone searches for your keyword, Google’s algorithm has the effect of having all people with the search term in their group bid against each other until the top three (for the top of the first page) have beat out everyone else because the bid went above all the other bidders max budgets.  You can see how advertisers with deep pockets have a big advantage here and can drive up the cost per click of the most popular search terms.

To be profitable for you, the cost per acquisition (CPA) of a sale (or customer) has to be less than the profit you are going to earn on that sale (or customer) in order to leave some profit for you.  The cost per acquisition is simply the cost per click divided by the conversion percentage.  So if you pay $5 per click, and every tenth person buys your product (i.e. you have a ten percent conversion rate) you need to have a gross profit of at least $50 on that sale because you will have paid for the ad to be clicked ten times before you get a sale ($5×10=$50).

The good thing about paid advertising is that you can bring in customers right away to get things going.  You also learn quickly about the keywords that customer’s use to find you which can inform all your other messaging and advertising.

There are a million things to learn about paid advertising to really optimize it but these are the basics.  I will write more in later posts.

How to Compete Against REALLY BIG Competition

Here is an article with some ideas on competing with the big guys.  I especially want to emphasize that you should highlight what makes you different in your marketing, and what you actually sell or do.  Also, the big players can change the industry you are in and you need to be adaptable to change course if your strategy is no longer working.  The big guys have lots of money but they don’t change direction quickly.

How to Compete Against REALLY BIG Competition