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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.
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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.

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

 

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.