Author Archives: Julie

About Julie

Julie enjoys dining out and trying different restaurants in the Chicago area. Although she has many preferred restaurants, she makes a point to try unique flavors and menu items. She also likes to experiment in the kitchen, including duplicating some of her favorite meals at home.

What your email campaigns are missing

face-questions-1567164Wondering why your e-blasts keep falling flat? Successful email campaigns take time and patience. Some marketers make the mistake of blasting out emails without fully considering their audience, content or desired outcome.

From managing your email lists to perfecting your call to action, a few tweaks here and there can have a big impact on the success of your e-blasts. Read on to learn how to improve your email campaigns and open rates.

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Don’t go with the social media status quo

one-red-flower-1379611In business, you may be tempted to dive into marketing channels because other companies are.  That’s especially true with social media—from Instagram to Pinterest, the buzz around the latest platform can be hard to resist.

When you identify an interesting marketing trend, your best bet is to research it thoroughly and see if it fits your objectives.  There’s no point in dumping money into a project that doesn’t help your business. Here are a few things to consider when deciding whether the latest social media channel is worth your valuable marketing dollars.

  1. Time commitment. Do you have the resources and manpower to manage the initiative?  You can outsource the work to an agency or incorporate it into your staff’s daily job.  Budget time to learn about the different features and incorporate them in your account. Since anyone can post negative comments on your account, it’s also important to monitor them closely and address issues quickly.
  2. Who is your audience?  Think about the person following your tweet, friending you on Facebook or commenting on your pin.  Is this the audience you want to speak to? It may take some trial and error to determine which social media channels your customers and prospects use the most.
  3. Start small. Decide which social media accounts you’re able to manage reasonably.  Try not to move too quickly into too many accounts; you’ll end up overwhelmed.
  4. Measure your results. Followers and fans are great, but a truly effective social media strategy is about more than popularity. Examine how your social media presence helps with sales, brand recognition or customer retention.

Every business has its own unique marketing strategy. Trends will come and go, and you shouldn’t feel pressured to follow all of them. A reputable marketing firm can guide you in the right direction.

Have you branched out into any new social media channels recently? Let us know in the comments below.

5 steps to making email marketing shine with video

lights-camera-action-1168523Videos are an up-and-coming channel for presenting content to customers. According to Cisco, video is projected to make up 67 percent of all fixed Internet traffic by 2017. Studies also show that customers will stay on a website longer if it features a video. So what does that mean for you? Video is increasingly becoming a must-have on your marketing plan.

Here are some tips for adding video to email:

  1. Start with content you already have. Many companies have videos in their wheel houses, whether it’s a product demo or an overview of the company. To make the most of your resources, start small and work your way up to include a dedicated video strategy for your marketing plan.
  2. Use the word “video” in the subject line, which tends to generate more clicks.
  3. Time your video email to coordinate with where your customer is in the sales process. If your goal is to sell the costumer on a new product, send them a video touting the product features. If your customer has already made a purchase, send a video email a day or two after the items have arrived that describes how to use the item or gives tips for cleaning it.
    4. Use a call to action in your video. Depending on your video and what type of customer it’s being sent to, your call to action can be as simple as a phone number or website.
    5. Send related content. If a prospect clicks on a video in an email, direct them to your website. Provide links to related videos on your site, and as the customer watches more content, you can get a better sense of what they’re interested in.

Videos engage customers by delivering relevant content that’s easy to digest, ultimately increasing awareness and revenue. Use your videos to generate leads by linking them to your email campaigns. While it takes some equipment and technical expertise to execute videos correctly, a professional marketing team can help you shine on screen.

Have you started incorporating more videos into your marketing? Tell us about it in the comments below.

 

Turning customers into brand advocates: Part 2 of 2

tick-1241542Every company has brand advocates. Even small companies can identify their advocates through a simple survey. For tips on how to do that, check out the first part of our brand advocacy series. You can also find enthusiastic customers on your Facebook page or other social media accounts.

Once you’ve found the customers who are singing your praises, then what? Here are some suggestions making the most out of your enthusiastic customers:

  • Get good reviews. Send your advocate a link to rate or review your company on Google, Yelp or another third-party site. Potential customers take these reviews seriously, and positive feedback from a trusted source can help your company edge ahead of the competition.
  • Ask for a testimonial. Ask your customers to share a few thoughts about their experience with your products, employees and company. You can use testimonials in future marketing campaigns, on your website or in advertising.
  • Make them an offer. Send them a coupon or a product sample and allow them to share the offer with friends.
  • Ask them to like your Facebook page. Once an advocate follows you on social media, your posts will show up on their feed. It’s another great way to reinforce brand loyalty.
  • Get feedback. Send them a survey or hold a focus group to learn what they like about your business. Their feedback will help you fine-tune your sales and marketing pitches for future customers.

When someone is passionate about a brand, they’re happy to recommend it and talk about their experiences. How do you make the most of your brand advocates? Let us know in the comments below.

Turning customers into brand advocates: Part 1 of 2

1429210_52756716What is brand advocacy? It’s another way of saying word of mouth. When a satisfied customer endorses your company without compensation, congratulations – you have a brand advocate on your hands.

Want to know how many customers are singing your praises? The No. 1 question to ask your customers is: “On a scale from 0 to 10, how likely are you to recommend my company?” To get the most feedback, post the question on social media or send an email survey, which are quick and easy ways for your customers to respond. 

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Shine bright at your next trade show

As we head into another trade show season, remember to tailor your approach and strategy for each event. Consider your results from previous shows. What did your pitch emphasize? How did your booth appeal to potential customers? Whether this is your first time or 15th, double-check that you’re putting the right message and appearance together to help visitors connect to your brand.

trade show, event, stand out Here are a few tips to maximize your time and focus your energy:

  • Promote before, during and after the show. Start building awareness through social media, trade publications and your staff well before the show. If you’re already on their radar, potential customers are more likely to have you on their must-visit lists. Prepare talking points that visitors can relate to when they stop by your booth, and be sure to consider their comments when drafting follow-up messaging. Ultimately, you want to build a stronger relationship every time you connect.
  • Set the right tone with a professional looking trade show booth. You’re selling your products, your company and your image – are sending the right message? It’s hard to win someone over after they’ve already formed an opinion. If your booth is lacking flair or falls short of accurately representing your brand, consider a face-lift.
  • Debut a new product or service to encourage visitors to stop by your booth. Share your excitement and build hype through direct mail and e-blasts. Let your contacts know where to find you and what they’ll be missing if they skip the show.
  • Stop passers-by with a premium or contest. This will help bring in prospects that might otherwise have skipped your booth. Small, branded premiums can help spread awareness for your brand and increase name recognition, while larger contests for electronics, vacations or one of your popular products will give you more time to chat with those who enter to win.
  • Follow up promptly with all leads. Keep notes on all your prospects and be prepared to nurture the lead until they’re ready to buy. To save yourself time after the show, prepare follow-up messages ahead of time and tweak them to match each lead as you go.

Generating qualified leads can be tough, but using these tips to maximize your time and energy at trade shows will help you meet your goals.

What’s your go-to move to attract visitors to your booth? Let us know in the comments below.

Why video marketing sells and how to use it in your business

video camera

As marketers, we engage our customers and prospects through a number of channels, including video marketing. Videos are an excellent way to promote your business because they engage people in a way that isn’t possible with static content.

What’s the market for online video? Consider these statistics:

  • Viewers spend 100 percent more time on pages that contain videos, according to MarketingSherpa.
  • Seventy-five percent of executives told Forbes they watch business-related videos every week. Of those, 65 percent visit a marketer’s website after viewing a video and 50 percent went on to make a purchase for their business.
  • Globally, online video traffic will be 79 percent of all consumer Internet traffic by 2018, according to Cisco.

Here are a few tips to help you get the most mileage from your video marketing:

Consider all types of video content, including these options:

  • Customer testimonials create confidence and trust in your brand
  • Tutorials and demos show how your products work and reinforce their value
  • Interviews and big announcements convey important information with impact

1. Keep it short and sweet – 30 seconds to two minutes, tops. Be sure to fill that time with engaging content. If you don’t grab their attention quickly, they’ll go back to watching cute cat videos on YouTube.

2. Stick to a budget. You can create a compelling message without expensive equipment and high-end production. Keep it polished though, because you want to leave them with a good impression of your business.

3. Plan for publishing. Posting the video on your website is a no-brainer. Think about where you’ll put it before you shoot the video because you may need to create space for it. Possible places include your home page, product pages, the “about us” section, on your blog or on a page that only has videos. You’ll probably also want to upload it to video streaming sites, such as YouTube and Vimeo, and share it through social media channels.

If you’re having trouble imagining the possibilities, check out these videos for some ideas. Still stuck? Here’s another video that will get your creative juices flowing.

Do you watch videos from other businesses? What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.

Create loyal customers with post-sale marketing

sales follow-up, sales tips, post-sale marketingYou’ve made a sale – the hard part is over, right? Wrong. The biggest mistake people make after closing a sale is to stop communicating with the customer. So, what’s the right thing to do once the sale is over?

Here are a few post-sale marketing tips to help create loyal customers.

  1. Keep the momentum going. Continue to build a strong, trusting relationship with your customers. You’ve spent time getting to know them and what they need, it’s all right to give them recommendations and advice.
  2. Show interest in their business. Keep in touch by subscribing to their newsletter and inviting them to subscribe to yours. Here is an opportunity to really get to know your customers and what goes on at their companies.
  3. Connect on more than work. Start an email list of your customers and send them holiday emails giving your best wishes to them and their family. You can even send a picture, story or work-appropriate joke.
  4. Respect their time. When you call – and you should call – ask if it is a good time to chat. Manners go a long way, so thank your customers for their time and business.

You can spend thousands on marketing campaigns to get prospects’ attention and nurture leads, so why not devote some resources to customer retention? It’s usually much cheaper to retain customers than to secure new ones. When you’re not following up with a call or email, you can also use your blog to educate customers, start a loyalty program or send out a survey to help learn more about and retain customers.

What are your methods for staying in touch and retaining customers? Tell us in the comments below.

4 tips to lure your audience with holiday marketing

Christmas

The end of the year is almost here, but you’ve still got time to design and implement a holiday marketing message. The most effective holiday campaigns feature content that is engaging and fun. Try these actionable ideas to put the sparkle in your holiday marketing:

1. Have a plan. Set goals for specific strategies and content. What theme will you use? Will you share your message electronically or by mail? Will you include a company photo? For example, you can share a group photo of your staff posing in the office with festive decorations. Be sure to include a caption.

2. Thank them. The holiday season is a great time to thank your customers for their business and share your plans for the coming year. Tell them how much their relationship means to you or just wish them many more satisfied years.

3. Capture all activities. Take lots of pictures at your company parties, gift drives and other events and post them in your newsletter and on social media. Whether you’re donating time at a local hospital or adopting a highway, you can post pictures of employees helping out and volunteering in the community. Traffic on social media sites increases during the holidays, offering a great opportunity to be seen.

4. Give gifts. Everyone loves getting gifts during the holidays and your customers are no different. Try personalizing your gift, such as inviting your employees to share favorite recipes, and include them in a company cookbook that you send to customers.

Have fun with it, but whatever you do, make sure your message and pictures will resonate with your audience.

What’s your favorite holiday marketing campaign? What made it a success? Let us know in the comments below.

5 customer service strategies that drive business

A gift for youCustomers expect quality and exceptional customer service in today’s market. If you’re not actively looking for ways to improve your customers’ experiences, you risk losing business to the competition. It doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. In fact, you can mine information you already have about your customers to kick your service up a notch. Consider these strategies:

  1. Purchases: Take every opportunity to cross-sell your products and services and promote items related to an order. Someone who buys nails and bolts may also be interested in washers and screws.
  2. Reordering: Remind customers who order frequently or on a schedule that they may need to replenish their stock. Offering a purchase history on your website is a great way to help customers manage future orders.
  3. Delivery: Offer a free tracking service for your packages. In addition, email your customers the dates they can expect their orders. Be sure to thank them for their business and tell them you hope they had positive experiences dealing with your company.
  4. Loyalty programs: These programs reward repeat customers while increasing your sales. Digital loyalty programs are the most cost-effective, because you don’t have to spend money printing and distributing paper or plastic cards.
  5. Referrals: Offer rewards or discounts to customers who refer others, when the referrals lead to sales, such as a 10 percent discount on a future purchase. Once you have a referral, be sure to follow up with the individual promptly. In addition, thank your customer for the referral.

Is customer service the top priority at your company? What are your most successful strategies? Tell us about your favorite ways to connect with customers in the comments below.