November 28, 2012

Be the Customer You Want to Have

We all have those favourite customers - the ones we’d bend over backwards for when they really need our help.

Think about those things you most appreciate about your best customers and make a list. Draw a ‘picture’ of what your ideal customer ‘looks’ like. My friend and marketing guru Debi Hartlen MacDonald says that we should even ‘name’ our ideal customer. Get to know who they are and we will recognize them when we meet them.

As small business owners, we tend to work a lot with other small business owners. If I can be an ideal customer to my suppliers, it’s beneficial to both of us.

Best customer characteristics will vary depending on what you do. Here are some suggestions for how you can be an ideal customer:

Make your requirements clear. Right from the start establish what your expectations are and develop a plan to work together to achieve them.

Give specific and timely feedback. Be honest early on. And be as exact as possible. Use words that allow your supplier to act on your feedback.

Meet deadlines. Commit to meeting established deadlines by entering them in your calendar and planning your work accordingly. When sh*t happens, as it is bound to at some point, your supplier will be more willing to accommodate if it’s possible.

Pay invoices on time. Need I say more? Cash flow is important to all small businesses.

I firmly believe that we attract our own ideal customers by being an ideal customer ourselves.

photo by Dell's Official Flickr Page

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on November 22, 2012

November 26, 2012

Amazing Statistics

When I first met the ladies of Transitions Estate Services, they had a simple problem. They needed a way to get their sale notices to their customers by email. We set them up with a bulk email system and template and decided to use Pinterest as a way for them to show off the items at each sale. Updating their website frequently was not practical for them.

Pinterest turned out to be a great option for images of the sale items and their click-through and open rates have been amazing since the very first issue.

Average open rate is 43% with a high of 46%. Compare this to a 20% industry standard and you can see how successful it has been.

Average click-through rate is 27% with a high of 33%. For each and every send, the most clicked link is their Pinterest board and the second is the map to location. Just what they were looking for... to show customers the items for sale and have them show up at the sale!

Their customers can see the sale notice and list of items in the local paper but when they receive the sale notice in email, they can click through to the images of items as well. This is not possible with print media without the big expense of publishing pictures with the ad. Even then, they would be limited in what they could publish, where Pinterest allows them to post as many images per sale as they want.

If you are doing anything visual in your business, see what happens if you add Pinterest to your email marketing campaign. Readers love to have something to look at. It makes them connect on a new level.

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder November 22, 2012

November 10, 2012

Warm Up those Cold Calls

Many organizations are engaging in email marketing these days – informational newsletters, promotional emails, or both. Some of these organizations have even done a great job of integrating email marketing with their social media efforts as part of a comprehensive online marketing strategy. But few have made the connection between email marketing and sales. This is an opportunity that deserves your attention.

Make the most of your email marketing activities by taking advantage of all the ‘intelligence’ you can gather about your subscribers. Email service providers (ESPs) have functionality that enables you to review your overall statistics (opens, clicks, etc.). They also have the functionality to take your sales prospecting to a whole new level – you can actually see who clicked on what link. Yes, dear public, marketers have been collecting this info for years.

For example, if you offer two product lines, let’s say Brand A and Brand B, and you include links to more information about each of these brands, you will be able to see who clicked on which. You can then contact your customers and/or prospects with more information on a product for which - with a click of their mouse - they’ve already expressed interest.

If you’re going to make cold calls, wouldn’t it be nice to warm them up a bit with some pre-knowledge before you pick up the phone? When you cold call, start with those who opened and clicked in your newsletter first.

Originally published in The Coral Wire, November 2012.

November 5, 2012

Call to Action [Wrap Up]

No matter what your topic or type of email, you will have a call to action for your readers. It can be a secondary point to your main message, such as signing up for your newsletter. It can be the main point to the whole message, such as register for this workshop. Chances are, each email you send will even have more than one call to action.

Calls to action are everywhere for the readers, each one beckoning louder than the last. So when you craft yours, you want to make your message clear as to what you want the reader to do. Once it is clear to you, you need to make sure it is clear to them. Here are few past posts that will help you create your call to action.

3 Keys to Creating a Call-to-Action - 3 characteristics of any effective call to action
So Many Choices - helps you define the importance of your various calls to action
Up Your Readership - helps you increase your subscribers through calls to action
Ask For Action - helps you craft your message