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Texting versus Email: Which is a More Powerful Marketing Tool?

16 Dec

Text message marketing and email marketing both cater to business owners looking for an affordable mass communication method. Both methods encourage brands to send out valuable information and exclusive offers. On the surface, they appear extremely similar, but if you dig deeper, you’ll realize the benefits to each method. While email marketing has been around for a while and built up a noteworthy fan base, text marketing is new to the arena. Keep in mind that its current effectiveness is most likely due to its newness and these rates may drop over time.

In the infographic below by text marking company SlickText, you will see a comparison between open rates, click through rates and overall effectiveness of the two methods.

Currently, the average open rate of a text message sits at about 99%, while email ranges from 28-33%. Next to this, the click through rates (CTR) are vastly different. Include a link in your text message, and you will observe a CTR of about 36%. For email marketing, the CTR usually sits between 6-7%.

With email marketing, research shows that the more messages, the better. On the contrary, text message marketing preaches limiting the number of texts you send. Most successful users send between 4-6 campaigns a month, while email marketing finds better response and engagement rates with up to 30 campaigns a month.

As always, never center your marketing strategy around one method. Instead, create multi-channel campaigns with several high performing tactics. Set goals around each campaign and plan accordingly. Are you looking to increase brand awareness, directly increase sales, or do you want to gather qualified leads? Different goals may require different strategies. Increasing brand awareness may benefit from the repeated exposure found in email marketing while increasing sales may see better results from targeted text messages with short-term offers.

At the end of the day, marketing is all about return on investment so pick the methods that give you the best results.
text email

8 Best Practices for Texting

10 Dec

Last week, we talked about why texting is a good marketing tool for small businesses. Keep in mind, however, that although mobile marketing is a great way to reach customers instantly, it can send your subscribers straight to the “opt out” button if done poorly.

One of the most important rules of text message marketing is that all businesses must first gain permission (opt in) from customers in order to contact them via text. Failing to do so can damage your brand and result in some hefty legal fees.

The infographic below from SlickText.com explains the right and wrong ways to add text messaging to your marketing campaign.

5 Reasons Mobile Marketing Works for Small Businesses

30 Nov

Text messaging isn’t just a convenient way to keep in touch with friends. It’s also a powerful mobile marketing tool for small businesses. Most Americans own a cellphone and use their phone to send and receive text messages, also known as SMS messages.

While email marketing is a successful strategy for small businesses,  mobile marketingmobile marketing is shorter, sweeter and, in some respects, much more effective. No wonder more small businesses are jumping on the texting bandwagon: Sixty-nine percent of small businesses recognize mobile marketing as key to their growth over the next five years, and 84 percent that implemented it have seen a resulting increase in new business activity. Here are five reasons why mobile marketing works well.

Your texts are likely to be read instantly

Most cellphone users have programmed their phone to alert them whenever a new text message arrives, and most messages are read within a few minutes of delivery. In fact, an astounding 90 percent of texts are read within three minutes of receipt. This allows you to market your small business in new and novel ways.

Texts are engaging and personal

If you’re like most people, you can’t wait to read a text message when it arrives in your inbox.

This has obvious benefits for business owners. Not only are the consumers on your SMS contact list willing participants in your promotional campaign, but they’re likely to read your message right when you send it. Mobile marketing won’t get your promotion in front of as many people as other modes of advertising, but by delivering your messages directly to engaged consumers – and getting them to read those messages quickly – it delivers great value.

Thanksgiving Blessings

23 Nov

Today’s blog on Thankfulness is written by David Steinquist, owner of Mediascope for over seventeen years. David has been married for thirty-two years and is the father of three young men.


Happy Thanksgiving, all! I hope that this note finds you all in good health and joyfully reflecting on the year that has, once again, passed by way too fast.

As I write this, it feels like Fall has finally arrived here in Minnesota. We have had a great year for spending time outdoors. The summer was not too hot and the Fall has been mild and longer than normal. I happen to think that Fall is the best time of year to be outside. The colorful fall leaves and mild temperatures make for perfect walks in the woods or for simply enjoying the colors from a living room window.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I think we all spend a little time counting our blessings. AfterThankful all, isn’t that what the first celebrants did? The Pilgrims left Holland in August of 1620 and landed during the Fall in what is now Massachusetts. That first year was brutal for them and a large number of people did not survive. We can be thankful that for us, a brutal year might mean the stock market wasn’t quite what we had hoped it would be, or that we didn’t get a 4.0 in all of our classes. Or something else wasn’t quite up to the expectations we had set. After all, if you are reading this, you made it through the year, so you and I are one step ahead of the Pilgrims.

For me, it really is the simple things in life that I am thankful for. Some of those things are:

  • My family. I truly enjoy spending quality time with all of them. And as the boys get older, now we have fewer and fewer times when we can all get together.
  • I enjoy the challenges and triumphs that come from hard work. Sure, there are some days that I would rather be on vacation but vacation can only last for so long.
  • Living in the USA. Even with all of the turmoil that seems to have sprouted up this last year, I truly believe that as a nation, we are extremely blessed.
  • This nation also allows me to freely worship as I please. I am a Christian, but I appreciate the fact that folks who choose to worship in other ways, or not at all, have that right.
  • You, whoever you are, whether we have met at some point or not. For some reason, you were drawn to my idle ramblings, so I appreciate the fact that you took a few minutes out of your busy day to read my note.

Wherever you are and in whatever circumstances you find yourself in, I pray that you are able to reflect on the blessings you have. Enjoy life and plan for a wonderful 2016. Look positively on your circumstances and be a blessing to those around you.

Just a couple of closing observations, not even closely related to one another.

  • Did you know that George Washington, in 1789, declared Thanksgiving the first National holiday?
  • I can only think of one movie that had a Thanksgiving setting, and it is one of my favorites: Planes, Trains and Automobiles. I get the chuckles just thinking about it. Be a blessing to the Del Griffiths in your life.

Best Email Marketing Tactics

16 Nov

According to MarketingProfs, some 122,500,453,020 emails are sent every hour. Given that staggering number, how can you make your email stand out in a crowded inbox?

A lot of information is available about email marketing best practices. As the old adage says, however, sometimes a picture is worth a 1,000 words.

The following tips from Madison Logic‘s infographic features 10 best-practices that will help get your emails noticed.

The top tip is to craft a subject line that catches people’s attention. Surprisingly, Madison Logic found that punctuation isn’t necessary but capital letters produce a lift in engagement.

What does matter in the subject line is personalization. For example, users are 22% more likely to open an email if they are addressed by their first name.

As for the email itself: “Focus your message to fulfill the promise of the subject line,” Madison Logic suggests.

Here is a look at Madison Logic’s infographic.

ten-best-email-practices-infographic

 

Don’t Be a Spammer: 10 Email Marketing Spam Laws

12 Nov

Email marketing is a valuable marketing tool. It’s inexpensive, quick and easy to set up, and since your customers have given you permission to contact them, they are generally interested in what you have to say. Plus, you’re able to track results to determine which approaches work best for your customers.

Unfortunately, there are companies out there that have exploited email marketing and given it a bad name. Known as spammers, they send emails to anyone they can get their hands on, no matter how they obtained the data.

Laws are in place to prevent this kind of business, mainly through the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. CAN-SPAM is short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing and is a play on words to “can,” i.e., get rid of the spam.

Follow these ten tips to stay on the good side of the law and avoid becoming a spammer.No Spam 2

Opt-In is a Must

Be sure you have your customer’s consent to send them emails. A customer’s consent may be oral or written. Keep track of how and when you received permission to contact each person.

Be Truthful in your Header Information

Customers have a right to know who is contacting them, so the “From,” “To,” and “Reply To” lines must represent your company; or specifically, the company or individual who sent the message. Your routing information must also be clear, including the origination domain name and email address.

Don’t Use Deceptive Subject Lines

The subject line must accurately reflect the message’s content. For example, if the offer inside is a 15% discount, the subject line can’t suggest a higher percentage.

Identify The Message As An Ad

Most customers know an advertisement when they see one and will tend to ignore it because of this. Marketers have therefore developed techniques over the years to make messages look more like a recommendation than an ad. However, the CAN-SPAM Act requires you to let your customers know the email is an ad. Again, it’s all about making sure customers aren’t deceived.

Tell Recipients Where You’re Located

This shows your customers you are a real company and gives them another way to contact you. The message must include a valid postal address. This can be your company’s street address, a post office box registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or private mailbox registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service Regulations.

Tell Recipients How To Opt Out Of Receiving Future Emails From You

Email marketing is always about the customer’s choice. It should be their choice to sign up to hearing more from you and their choice to decide they’ve had enough. Make it clear how recipients can opt out of getting future emails from you.

You also need to give a return email address or another internet-based way to allow people to let you know their choice. If you provide a menu of choices so the recipient can choose certain communications and not others, there needs to be a “no communication” option.

Promptly Honor Opt-Out Requests

Make sure your own spam filter doesn’t stop opt-out requests from coming through. Once you’ve received an opt-out request, be sure you honor the request within 10 business days.

You must make opting out as easy as possible which means you can’t charge a fee, require personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make them do anything other than request to opt-out.

Be Sure You Know What Others Are Doing On Your Behalf

It’s no excuse to blame the mistake on someone else, so you must keep a watch over any external company that completes your email marketing for you. Both the company that sends the email and the company that is selling the product or service must comply with the law.

Commercial Email Definition

The CAN-SPAM Act defines commercial email as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service (including content on an Internet website operated for a commercial purpose).”

For the most part, the CAN-SPAM Act only applies to commercial mail, rather than transactional or relationship email. This means that if you send order receipts, warranty information, or changes in membership details via email, you only need to make sure that your routing information is correct. Be careful if you start to add any advertising messages in these types of emails as they could fall under commercial category.

Also think about where the email links to, as your customer’s final destination from your email also counts when deciding if the overall message is commercial or not. Usually your website will fall under this definition of commercial.

Be Careful of Forward-to-a-Friend Schemes

If you offer a link so the recipient can forward the email to a friend, you don’t need to worry about the CAN-SPAM Act. However, if you include an incentive for your customer to forward it, like a discount code or the chance to win a competition, then you become responsible for the sending of that email. Therefore, you need to be very careful about adhering to the rules.

In Conclusion

To make sure you don’t risk breaking the law and upsetting your customers with poor email marketing practices, follow these legal stipulations. At $16,000 per violation per individual email sent,  you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of the law! If you’re unsure about your email practices, the Federal Trade Commission offers this publication which better explains the CAN-SPAM law.

8 Reasons to Think Local – Buy Local – Be Local!

4 Nov

Technology makes it easy to buy services and products from anywhere. Studies show, however, there are many benefits to buying local. Here are 8 reasons to Keep It Local.

  1. Buy Local and Support Yourself: When you buy from an independent, locally owned business Keep it localrather than a regional or nationally owned businesses, your money stays local to make purchases from other local businesses and service providers. This continues to strengthen the economic base of the community.
  2. Reduce environmental impact: Locally owned businesses require shorter transit times for customers and employees. It also means less trucking of services or goods. This means contributing less to pollution and road decay.
  3. Create more good jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and, locally, provide the most jobs to residents.
  4. Get better service: Local businesses often hire people with a better understanding of the local impact of products or services they are selling and take more time to get to know customers.
  5. Invest in community: Local businesses are owned by people who live in this community, are less likely to leave, and are more invested in the community’s future. Locally owned businesses build strong communities by sustaining vibrant town centers, linking neighbors in a web of economic and social relationships, and contributing to local causes.
  6. Build a Larger Tax Base: Local businesses pay a large share of the community’s taxes and help offset funds needed for community services such as city administration, rescue personnel, and other community enhancements like road repair and parks. The bottom line? A greater percentage of local independent businesses keeps your taxes lower.
  7. Encourage local prosperity: Entrepreneurs and skilled workers are more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character. Entrepreneurship fuels America’s economic innovation and prosperity, and serves as a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class. Also, the multiplier effect created by spending locally generates lasting impact on the prosperity of local organizations and residents.
  8. Enhance Health of Residents: Research shows a strong correlation between the percentage of small locally owned firms and various indicators of personal and community health and vitality. A 2011 study of 3,060 counties and parishes in the U.S. found that counties with a greater proportion of small businesses had lower rates of mortality, obesity and diabetes.

Choosing to buy from local, independently owned businesses provides many well-documented benefits to our communities and to each of us. While it is not always possible to buy local, keeping it local when possible provides many often-hidden pluses. Think Local, Buy Local, Be Local.

Dos and Don’ts of Live Chat

27 Oct

For some companies, Live Chat is an instrumental channel in client communication. We have devoted a couple of weeks to the topic of Live Chat and explored Is Live Chat a good option? and 7 Tips for Implementing Live Chat. As one final piece, here are a few dos and don’ts to keep in mind when implementing Live Chat.Dos and Don'ts

  • Do indicate the times when you are available. Are your live chat reps only available during certain business hours? Be sure to state that on the chat box.
  • Don’t approach customers with a live chat box the instant they click on your site. Give your shoppers time to click on a few things before asking them if they need assistance. The practice of instantly chatting a site visitor is as annoying as a sales person pestering you in a brick-and-mortar store when you step through the door.
  • Do personalize your encounters. Consider personalizing by sending chat messages based on shoppers’ behavior on your site. For instance, if you see that a shopper is spending time in the women’s shoes area, send a chat message offering help with finding the right pair of shoes.
  • Don’t creep out your customers. You’ll be able to see a lot of information about your site visitors such as where they’re located. However, you should not use all the information when chatting with visitors because it might cause them to feel uncomfortable.
  • Do run some tests. As effective as live chat is, don’t implement it without testing. Before entering a long-term agreement with a chat provider, test a live chat app for a couple of months and observe its effect on your conversion rate. If you decide to keep it on your site, then you may also want to test the details associated with it, such as your welcome messages, the amount of time before the chat box appears, or the appearance and behavior of the chat window. This helps you optimize your live chat application for maximum conversions, engagement, and personalization.
  • Do make sure customers aren’t left waiting. This is very annoying for a website visitor, much like waiting around to be served in a store.
  • Do make sure people who handle the live chats are able to solve customer’s problems most of the time. It’s not like a support ticket, people are there waiting live and it’s frustrating to be told every time that you need to log a ticket.
  • Do maintain the mindset that Live Chat is an opportunity. Every time a customer starts a chat with you, it’s a great opportunity to learn more about their needs and how they use the product. Make sure your operators can manage this well.
  • Do consider using scripted responses if the same questions are asked often, but be sure to personalize the response when appropriate.

Only you know whether implementing Live Chat makes sense for your business. If you’re not sure, try a six-month trial to see if key metrics such as customer satisfaction or conversion rates improve. However, be sure to follow important tips such as letting your customers know you offer Live Chat and adequately staffing your Live Chat function.

7 Tips for Implementing Live Chat

21 Oct

With messaging now outpacing phone calls, Live Chat is an important communications tool for any company which deals with the public via the internet.

Last week, we talked about the pros and cons of using Live Chat as one of your Implementing Live Chatcommunication channels. If you decide to add Live Chat to your web site, you need to know where you are heading before you leap into this mode of client communication. Here are a few considerations that will help you successfully implement this new channel.

Have a plan and a timeline for adaptation

This may sound like a basic tip, but it’s important to have a plan — not just for which issues you want to handle via chat, but also for how you will begin to staff this new communication channel. Based on customer needs, determine what hours and days your chat option will be available.

Also, know that it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to adopt the channel right away. Setting milestone targets will help you evaluate your progress and identify any issues or challenges that might be hindering more widespread adoption.

Let your customers know you have live chat

All the planning you do is irrelevant if you don’t let your customers know about the program. There are a number of ways you can promote the new channel, but one of the most critical is publicizing Live Chat as an addition to your existing means of customer support. For example, you might have an automated recording directing callers to the Live Chat link when waiting for support by phone.

Train your reps on online communication techniques AND customer service best practices

Addressing support requests via chat is different from other models as it enables reps to handle multiple sessions simultaneously. Make sure your reps are comfortable with multi-tasking and are familiar with the program’s capabilities before you launch Live Chat. It’s essential to spend sufficient time training your staff — and hiring additional reps if needed — to make the program a success. Be sure everyone understands the expectations, including response time.

Make sure you are adequately staffed

One of the benefits of live chat is the perception of immediate support. If users are unable to get through or have to wait a significant amount of time, they will already be disenchanted before defaulting to another channel. When preparing to launch a chat program, make sure you’re properly staffed to keep wait times to a minimum. Have a process in place so the support team can quickly get additional help if needed.

Use scripts but personalize when possible

As reps are becoming familiar with handling multiple sessions at the same time, having scripts for frequently asked questions are a valuable tool in getting them up to speed quickly.

While scripts have many benefits, however, it’s important not to lose the personal elements of phone support when you begin live chat. Support reps should modify scripts to add personalization and address exact concerns. They should also be sure to pay careful attention to what the user is saying before offering an answer.

Make it intuitive

Mobility is a key driver of today’s changing customers support needs. Making it easy for users to initiate a chat session from any device will ensure greater adoption.

Get feedback from users AND staff

Feedback is extremely useful in improving your program. Institute a survey at the end of every session to obtain details about the individual’s experience and use the information to make improvements and further hone the program.

In addition to polling the user community, be sure to connect with your staff about their experiences. As the frontline reps utilizing the program, they can provide valuable insight into how to improve Live Chat and help identify other issues that could be handled via the chat program.

We will take one more look at Live Chat next week by reviewing some of the Dos and Don’ts of this type of customer support.

Is Live Chat a good option?

15 Oct

As technology changes, the way we interact with customers also changes. More consumers are skipping traditional forms of customer service like phone and email, and opting for channels like Live Chat due to the faster, more personalized nature of the communication.

Live Chat is software that sits on your website, allowing you to have an online conversation similar to Instant Messenger with anyone who is on your site.

While Live Chat can often be a wonderful addition for businesses, it can cause its own Live Chatproblems and complications, both technical and otherwise.

Here are the pros and cons of Live Chat.

Pros

You are immediately accessible to your customer.

Being online when your customer is online means a chat can happen instantaneously. With most Live Chat software, there will be a clear indication to your site’s visitor that you are currently online and are available to interact with them.

You can start the conversation.

Many Live Chat programs allow you to see who is visiting your site, and you can choose to invite them into a conversation via a targeted pop-up message.

This means you are not being passive and waiting for people to come to you.  If you see that someone has been navigating around your website for a period of time, this is the perfect tool to use to engage with them and help secure business.

It shows you are a modern, dynamic, and proactive company.

Having Live Chat functionality on your site signifies that you are a progressive organization that uses advanced online techniques to build business.

It reduces the amount of back and forth of email.

Conversing in real time circumvents the usual ping-pong exchange of e-mails that often results when both parties are trying to get a clearer understanding of the product or service.

It is personal and accessible.

Live Chat enables companies to be personal and accessible by having real-time conversations with customers. Furthermore, being easily available to your customers is a great way to be more transparent. The personal tone and ease of use that Live Chat gives your company can go a long way to make your company likable.

Live Chat reduces an overload on other forms of communication.

Having Live Chat available leaves other forms of customer service such as phone and email open for larger issues. People will be less likely to call or email about small questions and concerns if they have live chat as an outlet. Additionally, Live Chat fits the digital world which means many of your customers, especially younger customers, will feel more comfortable and familiar with live chat than other sources of communication.

In addition, here are some other advantages to Live Chat:

• Help more people at the same time: chat agents are usually able to serve three or more people simultaneously;

• Solves the problems of strange accents or bad phone lines;

• No extra costs for website visitors, even when they are from another country;

• Convenient: Support can easily send helpful links to the customer through the chat interface and help with the spelling of complicated names by entering them into the chat box;

• Analytics: use live analytics to find the most relevant visitors to your site;

• You can switch off chat when you are away —  just go offline and transform the chat bar into a contact form; and

• Customer service quality can easily be reviewed by checking the log files.

Cons

It can create an impression that your business is 24/7.

We no longer live in a world where customers live nearby or work on a 9 to 5 schedule. As a result, it is often not enough to be available only during those hours. Try to split up the duty of answering chats to cover as much of the day as possible. When Live Chat is not staffed, have other forms of communication available, such as a Contact Us form.

Live Chat requires staffing.

To make the most of Live Chat software, it has to be staffed. Staffing is a cost to your business that needs to be covered. This is why Live Chat software is more broadly embraced by larger companies with a dedicated customer support team.

It interrupts other work.

If you are running Live Chat in the background while performing other tasks, you run the risk of having your thoughts disrupted when messages comes through. This can ultimately mean that it takes longer to do the work you were originally doing.

It can present communication difficulties.

It can be difficult to convey emotions and tone over chat. Currently, the only solution is to use emoticons, which are taboo in the professional world. You need to be careful with your phrasing to ensure your words are not misinterpreted.

Other disadvantages of Live Chat support:

• Not all users will like it.  You should always offer at least email or phone support in addition to chat support;

• Not all users will know how to use it;

• Not great on mobile platforms: Not all mobile devices are able to support Live Chat applications;

• Prank chats: You will get some not-so-serious chats. If this happens frequently from one person, you can block the person; and

• It can slow down your website.

Those are the arguments for and against Live Chat. Although it has a lot of advantages, it isn’t for everyone. Give these pros and cons some thought before deciding whether Live Chat is right for your business.