Archive for the Tips & Tricks Category

How to Handle Customer Complaints Effectively

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Few aspects of running a business can be more frustrating — or more expected — than customer complaints. It’s impossible for even the most successful companies to please every customer every time. Knowing how to handle customer complaints effectively and professionally can improve brand reputation and turn a disgruntled customer around.

Listen and acknowledge the customer

It sounds basic, but a surprising number of businesses care more about defending their actions than listening to the customer. Remember that the vast majority of people who have a problem with your company won’t bother complaining to you. They’ll just complain to everyone else. Every customer who takes the time to complain directly to you should be thanked for the opportunity to make the situation right. This means listening carefully to everything the customer has to say about the experience and offering an apology for their discontent.

If you encounter a complaint online, reach out and publicly acknowledge the complaint online as well. Let the person know how disappointed you are that they were unhappy and ask for the opportunity to discuss the incident with them privately.

Discover the source of their frustration

If a customer complains that they can’t find something in your store, you might assume they’re asking you to reorganize your shelves. However, they might really be upset that no staff members noticed their frustration and stepped in to help before they started complaining.

Find out what the company can do to help

Sometimes all the customer really wants is an apology or information about how you’ll work to improve so you don’t make the same mistake again. In these situations, it’s easy to exceed customer expectations by offering coupons or a similar incentive in addition to meeting their request.

If the customer’s not sure how they’d like to be compensated or if they have demands you can’t reasonably meet, you should have a policy in place to help alleviate the customer’s concerns. Make a point of explaining what your company’s doing to improve in the area of the complaint, and thank them for their feedback.

Handle the publicity of social media

If a complaint originates on social media, take the solution back to social media once the situation’s resolved. Everything in social media is public, so once a customer posts a complaint, it can be seen by countless potential customers. Bringing the solution back to social media will help those who saw the original complaint see how well you did addressing it.

If someone complains to you through a blog post, ask them to either update the post so new readers know the situation was resolved or remove it altogether. If the complaint was made on Facebook or a similar platform, return to the original post and make an update yourself, such as, “I’m so glad we were able to work together to resolve this problem. We look forward to doing more business with you in the future.”

Customer complaints are an aspect of business no one enjoys but everyone has to know how to manage. Keeping the above guidelines in mind should help you successfully navigate this terrain, strengthen your company’s brand, and improve your reputation.

Date: 27th March, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

4 Ways To Boost Your Email Success Rates

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Email can be a powerful tool for reaching potential customers. After all, about 91 percent of customers have an email address they check at least one time per day. It’s a consistently reliable way for getting in touch with people who might be interested in what your company has to offer.

Unfortunately, often one of your biggest hurdles is simply convincing people to open your email in the first place. You have to battle against being perceived as spam and being overlooked to attract the attention of your intended audience. Here are some tried-and-true techniques you can use to boost your email open rates and find success with your next email campaign.

Personalization

Do you like to open emails that come from impersonal companies or unknown senders? Neither do your customers. Make sure the emails you send are personalized for your recipient. A personalized email will include a specific person at the company as the sender, such as Janet Smith from XYZ Marketing, instead of just XYZ Marketing.

You’ll also want to personalize the information within the email. Carefully store the information you have about your leads, then use that data to personalize your message and make it relevant to the recipient.

Segmentation

As you gather email addresses through your website and other interactions with potential customers, you’ll find there may be large differences between your leads. One person might be researching for their office but have very little decision-making power, while another might be CEO of his company. Segment your email list based on criteria such as location, job title, budget, or other important factors. Then tailor your messages to each of these groups you’re trying to reach.

Quality headlines

When convincing people to open your email, few areas matter more than your headline. Headlines that are excessively general, use too much punctuation, or otherwise look like spam are going to be ignored. Write headlines that capture the essence of your message and make your email look appealing. Pique your readers’ curiosity and offer them a small taste of the value they’ll receive when they open the email.

Value

Above all else, you want to make sure your email provides real value. Your message should offer your customers a clear return when they open it. Just like the rest of the content you create for your company website and marketing materials, your emails should provide useful information people can use, forward, and share with others.

When your emails clearly show their own value, you build your relationship with readers. People come to trust the emails they receive from your company even more. As a result, you’ll get better open and click-through rates. On the other hand, if your emails repeatedly show little value, customers will begin to disregard them, and your messages will be relegated to the ‘junk’ folder or trash.

Email can be a fantastic tool for communicating with potential customers and building relationships. The key is to use this method correctly. If you’re interested in boosting your ROI from your email lists, make sure you’ve implemented the above ideas. If you’re interested in beginning a new marketing campaign and have questions, contact us to get started.

Date: 13th March, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Translating a Study Abroad Experience Into Business Success

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Studying abroad is a popular and honored tradition for many students as they go through college. If you had the opportunity to do so, you likely reveled in the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture. But while you were busy learning about new cultures, you were also learning some valuable insight about business. You just might not have realized it. Here are three lessons you learned about being successful in business while you were studying abroad.

Jump in with both feet

When you find yourself studying in a foreign country, you don’t have the luxury of taking it slow. You’re living in a new land, completely immersed in the new culture. You now have to completely rely on your language and culture lessons because this is no longer just practice.

When you start a new business, you need to apply the same principles. You need to jump in with both feet and completely apply yourself to your new business and new industry. If you try to cut corners or resist investing the time and energy needed for the business, it’s going to be substantially more difficult to succeed.

Be assertive about learning

When you first arrive in a foreign country, the next six months or year feels incredibly long, but it’s actually quite short. Before you know it, you’re back on a plane coming home. You have only a matter of months to absorb all you can about your temporary country. This means meeting the people, trying the food, seeing the sites, and learning the language. You need to be assertive about learning to maximize your opportunities.

When you start a new business, you need to dedicate yourself to learning as well. Once your business officially opens, you only have so much time financially before you need to start having customers. Before you open your doors, you should have a very good understanding of everything there is to know about your customers, how to market to them, and what your appeal will be to reach them.

Surround yourself with helpful people

When you arrive in a new country to study abroad, you’re likely to experience some degree of culture shock. There will be a period, however brief, when you feel overwhelmed by the differences in how things are done in the new country versus your home country. One of the best ways to cope with these problems is to surround yourself with people who can help you. In a school program, this might be fellow students going through the same emotions as you. If language becomes a struggle, professors can offer some additional tutoring to help you communicate as well. Finding these key people who want to help you is enormously beneficial.

In business, you’ll also face difficult moments. There are going to be times when you feel overwhelmed with your ambitions and will wonder if success is possible or worth the effort you’re putting into the company. You also need to surround yourself with helpful people who can support you. These people can serve as your sounding board, helping you bounce ideas around while also offering guidance when you feel like giving up.

Running a business is a challenging proposition for anyone. If you studied abroad, however, you learned some valuable lessons about success that you might not have even realized. As you begin to prepare for the future of your business, consider the lessons you learned and see how they might be applied to moving your new enterprise forward.

Date: 10th March, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How Engaging Are Your Sign-up Forms?

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Take a moment to think about the forms you ask your visitors to fill out and submit when they visit your website or come to your store. These forms help convert those individuals from anonymous visitors to active leads you can contact regularly. To make that happen, you want people to feel encouraged to leave you with their name and information so you can remember them.

Make the offer look enticing

Leads are the lifeblood of any organization. If you want people to provide you with their contact information, you need to give them a reason to do so. Make your sign-up forms appealing. First, make the offer something desirable. Then, make the actual screen look inviting.

Desirable offers

Developing a desirable offer means understanding the people with whom you’re speaking. Carefully analyze your buyer personas and consider the type of information and material that would appeal to them. Once you develop the information you want to put behind a sign-up wall, advertise it on the parts of your site where you know those specific buyers are likely to venture. For example, mention it at the bottom of relevant blog posts or alongside product information geared toward specific customer groups. As with all content, your primary goal should be to provide high-value information.

Appealing appearance

When visitors reach your landing page, you want to make sure the offer looks appealing on the screen. Add an image or two to help them connect with the offer. It doesn’t have to be an image of the real offer. A cartoon drawing with the name of your ebook, for example, will work just fine. Use a balanced layout and enticing language to encourage people to sign up.

Make the form itself manageable

Once you’ve attracted visitors to your sign-up page, the last thing you want to do is scare them off by making the process too drawn out or complicated. Make sure the form itself doesn’t look too intimidating. The amount of information requested should be comparable to the offer you’re providing. If it’s just a basic ebook, you should only ask for basic information. If you ask for too much, people will get turned off and click away.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to entice leads, contact us today. We’d love to help you with your marketing campaign.

Date: 27th February, 2015 | Under: Design Tips, Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Keep Your Existing Customers Around By Improving Engagement

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If you’re like many business professionals, you know that half the battle of growing your business is getting existing customers to stick around. When you provide your customers with outstanding customer service, some incredible things happen:

  • Customers are willing to pay more, just for your service.
  • Customers are more likely to recommend you to others.
  • You end up spending less for each conversion (it costs less to retain customers than find new ones).
  • You build customer loyalty.

In our intensely competitive modern market, you can’t afford to overlook these benefits.

The key to providing this outstanding level of service is taking the time to engage your existing customers. Too many organizations focus so much energy on attracting new customers that their existing customers feel neglected and overlooked. This can lead to feelings of resentment. Fortunately, with just a little bit of extra effort, you can keep your existing customers engaged and invested in your company. Here are a few ideas to get started.

Leverage the ‘social’ part of social media

Social media was designed to give you a platform to chat and get to know your customers on a personal level. Rather than advertising blindly to large populations, you can communicate directly to individual people and meet their needs personally. Encourage your existing customers to communicate with you on social media. You can do this in a number of different ways.

  • Invite them to ask questions about using your products or services.
  • Start fun contests that involve customers telling stories about using your products or services.
  • Respond to inquiries quickly and personally.

When you use social platforms to reach out and communicate with your customers, you show them how much you care about their experience, which resonates with both existing customers and those considering your company.

Run relevant promotions that existing customers can use

We’ve all experienced times when special promotions or discounts were made available only to new customers. Such deals often leave us feeling unappreciated and annoyed. Many customers facing such restrictions look for ways to get around them, such as switching back and forth between companies just to take advantage of the promotions. This leads to poor service and frustration for customers and does no good for the company’s reputation.

Instead of rewarding only new customers, offer your longtime customers a “loyalty” discount based on their longevity with your company. Customers will feel more appreciated and more loyal to your brand. They’ll see this simple ‘thank you’ as evidence that your company truly does value them, not just the bottom line.

Develop communications relevant to your existing customers

The more personal you can make your communications and correspondence, the more likely your customers are to respond. When people buy from your company, remember what they bought and why. Initiate messages, such as emails, asking customers about how well their needs have been met and if they have any questions about using your products or services. Ask customers for reviews and feedback, and make your requests using the name of a salesperson the customer dealt with personally.

Keeping customers engaged is an important step in encouraging them to stay with your company. When you do this successfully, you can grow your customer base and your bottom line.

Date: 24th February, 2015 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

How to Use Keywords to Get Attention

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When it comes to developing content, few buzzwords are thrown around quite as much as “keywords.” While quality content remains by far the gold standard for SEO, keywords can be very helpful for guiding search engines and those making queries on them to relevant content on your website. Of course, figuring out what keywords to focus on can be a challenge. Keywords should match the vocabulary and information sought by potential customers, while also flowing naturally within the piece. Here’s what every professional should know about finding quality keywords for their website.

Determine the keywords people use

You don’t want to use keywords you think potential customers might use. Instead, you want keywords you know are commonly used. Use resources such as Google Trends and Adwords to monitor how frequently certain keywords are used. Look at trends within your market or industry, too. If a keyword has been decreasing in usage, focus somewhere else. If usage is low but has been growing steadily over the past few months, it may be worth looking at ways to incorporate that word or phrase more prominently on your site.

Look for words that match the vocabulary of your customers

In many industries, there’s a difference between the language used by the professionals and that used by their customers. Make sure the keywords you include on your website reflect the language your customers use. If you use your industry jargon, you’re more likely to attract your competitors or others in the industry rather than potential customers.

Make sure your content answers the query

It’s always good practice to run your own searches using keywords before developing your content. This will give you a good idea about the type of content that already exists for a particular keyword or phrase. It will also help you gain insight into the type of content people expect when they type those words or phrases into the search engine.

How well does your content line up with customer expectations? Even if you are able to use a keyword naturally in your content, if you aren’t answering the questions people have, your content will rank poorly. Google and the other search engines want to present helpful, relevant content for users. If your content isn’t addressing customer needs, it will quickly find itself falling behind.

See what your customers respond to

As you develop content, keep a careful eye on the type of content most likely to attract customers to your website. Note the keywords and topics that bring the most traffic and the most conversions. This can help you hone in on what your customers are responding to the most, helping to refine your efforts and increase traffic to your website. It will also help you better understand your customers, which will help you serve them better.

Keywords can be enormous assets when it comes to catching the attention of search engines and potential customers. When you take the time to determine the right types of keywords that will best serve your business, you’ll see much greater return on your efforts. If you’re looking to develop a strong marketing campaign, contact us today to see how we can help.

Date: 1st February, 2015 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

5 Ways to Increase Visitor Engagement in 2015

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As you prepare your marketing plans for the year, one of your chief priorities should be website visitor engagement. As engagement increases, so do brand loyalty and conversions. Engagement helps page visitors begin to build a relationship with your brand. This in turn helps to increase their trust in what you have to say and makes them more likely to end up buying from you. Here are a handful of changes you can make to greatly enhance your visitor engagement and see measurable changes in 2015.

Make content easily shareable

Encourage page visitors to interact with your brand by sharing your content. You can accomplish this by making your content interesting and easy to broadcast across various social channels. Enable social share buttons on every piece of content you produce, and share the content yourself on a variety of social networks. If your content provides high value and is timely, readers will be more likely to want to share that information with their connections.

Use gamification and promotions

Use fun contests and games to encourage page visitors to remain on your website and tell others about your brand. There are a number of different types of games and promotions you can use. For example, have customers solve puzzles to earn coupons. Encourage them to share your brand with friends to earn points. Run contests on your social media pages that invite people to tell stories about their successes with your brand. Use these opportunities to encourage communication and build a relationship between page visitors and your company.

Encourage feedback

When customers know their opinions are valued, they’re more likely to feel loyal to your brand. Customers appreciate companies that go the extra mile to help them and make their experiences memorable. Encourage this level of engagement by letting customers vote on different topics they’d like to have featured on your website, leave reviews of your products and services for others to see, and offer opinions and feedback about your brand and their experience with it. Your page visitors will enjoy having their voices heard, and you’ll gain better insight on your customers, which can help you improve your marketing and customer service efforts.

Remember customers

Work with your website developers to create a website that will remember customers and their preferences when they return. Simple things, such as automatically filling out forms or remembering products that the customer looked at the last time they visited, can be excellent for boosting engagement. Such conveniences will make it easier for customers to convert, while at the same time helping them feel as though the services they’re receiving from you are personalized to their specific needs.

Make recommendations

In addition to remembering customers when they return to your website, add functionality that provides solid recommendations based on past purchases, too. Consider websites such as Amazon that offer recommendations based on the buying habits of others who have bought similar products in the past. These services encourage people to dive deeper into the website, increasing their interaction and improving the odds they will convert. Similarly, make sure your calls-to-action always fit well with the topic and intended audience of the content you’re presenting.

Increasing visitor engagement on your website can help your brand take its marketing efforts to new levels for 2015. Keep the above tips in mind, and see how you start building stronger company loyalty in the new year. If you’re ready to start developing a new marketing campaign, contact us today to get started.

Date: 6th January, 2015 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Business Lessons from Willy Wonka

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The story of Willy Wonka is a classic childhood favorite that people have loved for generations. From the books to the original movie version that was adapted in 1971 to its latest incarnation in 2005, the idea of this fantastic chocolate factory has entertained and delighted children of all ages.

The story follows young Charlie Bucket, who manages to find one of five golden tickets hidden in delicious Wonka Bars. These tickets give the winners a tour of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and a lifetime supply of chocolate. The five winners receive their prize tours, during which the other prize winners are eliminated one by one because of their poor behavior. Only Charlie manages to pass all the tests for honesty. In the end, it’s revealed that his true prize will be the chocolate factory itself.

For us in the business world, the story of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory is much more valuable than mere entertainment. It can teach us many lessons about successfully running a company. Here are just a few that every business owner should note.

The importance of innovation

Willy Wonka ran one of the most prized and valued chocolate companies in the world, with children of all ages eagerly consuming the chocolate in an effort to find the bars containing the sought-after golden tickets. One of the key reasons for the popularity of the brand was the sheer innovation of the factory’s products. Whether an ‘everlasting gobstopper’ or ‘three-course-dinner’ gum, the treats created at the Wonka factory were unique and delicious. The ability of the factory to remain a trendsetter of the candy world led customers to remain loyal fans.

We, too, must continue to look for ways to innovate and better meet the needs of customers. Being content with the same products and services will not help our brands become industry leaders or help us find loyal customers.

Promotions can be the key to successful advertising

Customers and companies alike enjoy promotions, making them a fantastic marketing tool. While most companies will never enjoy the publicity Willy Wonka’s factory enjoyed, with the competition and winners being featured on the news, it’s still possible for nearly any promotion or loyalty program to gain traction. Social media can be a major asset in promoting such a program. Reward your customers and encourage them to return time and again. This is a wonderful way to gain name recognition and build loyalty.

The value of honesty

Willy Wonka managed to cultivate a superior business plan because he knew how to select workers, and he chose Charlie because of his honesty. The boy impressed the chocolatier because he turned down offers of money in favor of being completely forthright, impressing Wonka. Wonka knew that this boy had the values that would enable the factory to continue to grow.

We, too, should always look for employees and leaders who value honesty and integrity. A positive reputation will help build a culture of trust. In turn, this will help enhance the cohesiveness among the staff and encourage communication.

The story of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory has delighted people for generations. Next time you watch one of the movies or read the books, take the time to learn a bit about business from Mr. Wonka. If you’re ready to start building a new marketing campaign, contact us for help getting started.

Date: 2nd January, 2015 | Under: Tips & Tricks | No Comments

Keeping Your Resolutions in Life and in Marketing

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With the new year upon us, it’s time again to consider resolutions for the coming year. Unfortunately, most of us have a far easier time making resolutions than keeping them. Genuine lifestyle changes are difficult to achieve. If you’re planning to make radical shifts in your daily life, consider the following:

Bite off small chunks at a time.

If you haven’t run in over 30 years and are 40 pounds overweight, it’s not reasonable to say you’ll run a marathon by spring. Instead, set a goal of completing a mile a day for a certain number of weeks, then slowly increase your distance. Trying to get too much done too quickly can lead to burnout and discourage you from continuing.

Make the goals reasonable.

A person who’s just learning to cook might never win a “top chef” competition, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be able to successfully cook a full Thanksgiving dinner. Set goals that are difficult enough to provide motivation and challenge, but make sure they’re also realistic and attainable.

This same advice applies to your small business.

Starting a new business is tough. Countless seminars and classes make it sound as though doing X, Y, and Z will have you raking in millions in just a few months. While there might be a genius entrepreneur somewhere for whom that’s true, for the vast majority of small business owners, it’s not.

Instead, look at the advice given above, and find ways to apply the same philosophy to your business. Like an out-of-shape person starting to run, you need to take it slowly at first. A new business typically cannot expect to clear hundreds of thousands of dollars per month in profit. Instead, your goal might be just to break even the first few months, and then slowly start generating actual profit after that.

Also, give your books and prospects an honest look. Set realistic expectations for the next quarter and year. Creating progressive goals will give you something to celebrate when you attain those milestones and encourage you to keep moving forward, while preventing burnout and keeping your company on track.

Of course, this way of thinking applies to more than just goals. It can be equally useful in other aspects of your business, such as marketing. When you hear about a new type of marketing with great potential, take the time to develop your strategy and grow in stages, rather than jumping in blindly with both feet. This more tempered approach will keep you moving in the right direction without becoming overwhelmed.

We’ve all failed at some point with our New Year’s resolutions. Those who genuinely want to succeed understand they must set reasonable goals to avoid biting off more than they can chew. The same idea applies to running a business. Here’s to a successful 2015 for you and your company.

Date: 30th December, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments

What Politicians Can Teach Us About Audiences

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The midterm elections may have wrapped up just a few weeks ago, but many are already turning their attention to 2016 and who may or may not make a run. In living rooms across America, people are letting out a collective sigh, knowing that when the next political season begins, they’ll be bombarded once again with advertisements trying to convince them that one candidate or another has the experience and ideas necessary to take the country in the right direction.

While it’s easy to grow weary of political advertising, if you ever stop and just focus on the message, instead of the politics involved, political candidates can actually teach us all a few things about marketing.

Politicians understand their audience

Successful politicians are master marketers. They construct narratives, brand stories, and reputations, and they work to inspire loyalty and admiration. But one of their most intriguing campaign techniques is the art of tailoring their message to the audience they’re trying to reach.

Politicians must appeal to a wide variety of voter groups and constituencies. When a politician is speaking with representatives from a certain population, or is developing an advertisement most likely to reach this particular demographic, they’ll use language and cover topics that are more important to this group.

Why? Politicians understand that the best way to influence people’s loyalty is by tailoring their message to what matters most to each voter group. Generally speaking, young people know that Social Security is important, but it doesn’t typically impact their daily life. On the other hand, seniors understand the importance of education and jobs for a thriving economy, but most retirees don’t find these to be pressing concerns for them personally.

The successful politician takes these generalities and develops a message that speaks directly to each respective audience.

Taking the lesson home

If you want to grow your company, you need to do the same thing as these politicians. Take your buyer personas and carefully examine the issues and challenges that impact them the most. Discover what motivates your buyers, where they struggle, and how your products or services can meet their needs. Use this information to tailor your marketing messages, so you can reach your intended audience. Just like different voting groups, your different personas might be motivated by different things.

When you tailor your message and your voice to each potential audience, you’ll greatly enhance your odds of reaching them and converting them to your brand. Rather than tuning out the politicians during the upcoming election cycle, take a lesson and learn how to make your own message speak directly to your particular buyer personas.

Date: 9th December, 2014 | Under: Marketing, Tips & Tricks | No Comments


 

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