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Posts Tagged ‘ROI’

How Voice-Based Marketing Automation Can Help Your Small Business

July 31st, 2012 ::


Ever search in vain on a website for a customer support phone number – only to come up empty?  Finding phone numbers of major companies can be literally impossible. The New York Times recently ran an article called “Tech Companies Leave Phone Calls Behind,” in which they discussed how big companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter are completely unreachable by telephone.  If you want to contact them, your only options are email or the Web.

Of course, as a small business owner, you want your customers to be able to reach you by phone.  Personally, I love to chat on the phone with potential clients, so it comes as no surprise to me that Ifbyphone found that 65% of businesses consider phone calls to be their highest-quality lead source.

For marketers, though, the phone is tricky from an ROI perspective, as it can be difficult to measure, manage and automate everything. Voice-based marketing automation (VBMA) solves that.  I know – I never heard of it either.  Here’s what I learned about the service during a recent call with Ifbyphone’s CEO Irv Shapiro:

With some transactions, you need to talk to someone

Items that you purchase infrequently – a home, a car, professional services  or anything with a consultative process built in – require a one-on-one conversation. You are not going to buy a home by shopping for it on the Web and dropping it into a shopping cart.

Customer contact equals loyal customers

When people used to tour Zappos’ call center, founder Tony Hsieh used to get asked, “Why do your people spend so long on the phone with customers?”  His answer?  “A great conversation with a customer is worth more to us than a Super Bowl ad.”

Unique phone numbers let you track lead sources

This is where VBMA comes in.  Until its advent, you had no way to measure the lead source of your phone calls – was the lead coming from your website, a print ad, a guest blog post you wrote a month ago?

With VBMA, you can track lead sources by using unique telephone numbers online and offline to help you understand not only where leads are coming from, but what the caller is interested in.  So each product or service on your website can have its own phone number, as can your PPC ads, print ads, radio or TV ads – you name it.

Keywords are marketing gold

Another cool thing that VBMA does is link keywords on your website to phone numbers.  Yes, really.  Based on the keywords a potential customer types in, a unique telephone number is displayed.  When you see that phone call come in, you will know what keywords they used and thus be able to better handle the call.

But wait!  There’s more!

Sorry, as a marketer, this is very exciting – how many of us are actually tethered to a desk all day waiting for the phone to ring?  Exactly.  Here’s what else VBMA can do:

  • Redirect incoming calls based on the above keyword information to the best person in your company who can close the sale.
  • Provide a report that allows you to make better decisions around keywords, Web pages and which salespeople close more sales.
  • Reach out to customers to let them know when a delivery or service is scheduled – and follow up afterwards.

With VBMA, you can measure phone calls the same way you can measure your online marketing efforts.  For a service-based business, this is a great marketing tool.

Have you used VBMA?  How has it worked for you?  Would you use it now that you know about it?  Leave a comment below!

Image courtesy of 365thingsyoucando.com

3 Easy Ways to Measure Online Marketing ROI

September 21st, 2011 ::

Measuring Tape

If you’re not measuring your online marketing results, you really have no idea what kind of impact you are having – are you making an impression, finding new customers, getting some sort of ROI?

The best approach is to connect old and new measurement tools to ensure you are competitively promoting your business.  Try out the following three simple strategies:

1. Measure conversion sources and click-throughs.

Sales leads have been the standard measurement of marketing efforts for a long time, but the development of new technologies and the growth of the Web are making it easier to get a more holistic view of what kind of impact you are really having.

Use Google Analytics and Omniture to keep track of conversion sources and click-throughs  – two very important metrics to track.  They’ll help you understand where your Web visitors are coming from and what links and landing pages they are using the most.

2. Focus on exposure.

Google yourself and your business. Where is your content appearing in search engine results when someone enters keywords? How can you promote your website to get higher and higher listings?

As a small business owner, it is in your best interest to develop new ways to expose your ideas before you even get to the actual sales cycle – you want to get potential customers hooked before you get into their pocket. Your ultimate goal is to make your ideas and content more visible to the public.

3. Measure reach from month to month.

It’s easy to get lost in a jungle of information metrics; don’t ignore important data and let it become a confusing burden instead of a gold mine of information that will help you improve your marketing strategy.

Avoid making this mistake by focusing on a few key basics. Track the number of people reading your blog posts and your performance in search engines. Keep an eye on your Twitter following and Facebook page, measuring your improvement month-to-month. All of these tools are easy ways to determine your reach and how it is growing (or shrinking).

Use these strategies to measure what matters, and you’ll soon find yourself with more business than you can handle.

Image by Flickr user Havar og Solveig (Creative Commons)

Is Your Blog Worth the Effort? How to Calculate ROI

August 11th, 2011 ::

MoneyWhether you spend significant amounts of time pounding out blog posts, or pay others to blog for you, how can you be sure it’s worth all the effort? Convince and Convert’s Jay Baer has created one of the best methods I’ve found for calculating a blog’s ROI.  It involves some math, so if you hate math like I do, I apologize.  But it’s a worthwhile exercise, so give it a go!

Here’s what to do:

How much does your blog cost?

1.  Determine how many hours your or your staff spends writing, editing and managing your blog. For each person, divide his/her salary by 2,000 (the hours worked per year based on a 40-hour work week and two weeks’ vacation) to get an average hourly salary compensation. Multiply this number by the number of hours each person contributes per month, and then add up a total for all of them.

2.  If you don’t know it already, ask your accountant for your company’s standard overhead.  Multiply your total from step 1 by the overhead calculation. Add this number to your total from step 1, and you’ll have the total labor cost of your blog each month.

3.  If you built your blog internally, you can use steps 1-2 to determine the labor cost of designing your blog. If you had a third-party create your blog, determine how much you spent on the initial design process. Don’t forget to add redesigns and updates.

Baer suggests using a 24-month amortization schedule since blogs tend to evolve quickly and require redesigns about every two years. So, divide the amount you spent on design by 24–this number is your monthly design expense.

4.  Add up any fees you spend on Web hosting and SEO services to determine the cost of hosting and maintaining your blog.

Add up your totals from steps 2-4 above, and you’ll have your blog’s total monthly cost.

How much is your blog worth?

1. Now you need to determine which actions on your website can create instantaneous sales or leads. Items such as “Subscribe to our e-newsletter” or “Sign up now” are examples.

2.  Set up a Web analytics program to determine how many people take action on your blog. You may want to set it up to count only those people who spent at least three minutes on your blog, for example, to be sure the blog was the driving factor for the behavior.

3.  To determine the value of each action, you’ll need to calculate the average lifetime value of your customers by multiplying the average amount of money a customer spends with you per month to the average number of months they remain your customer.

4.  Multiply the number of revenue-generating behaviors by the average lifetime value of your customers to get the total value of your blog.

And the ROI is…

If you found the above calculations to be a bit hairy, at least determining return on investment is always simple and straightforward:  Revenue – Investment / Investment = ROI

In this case, revenue = total value, and investment = total cost. So, subtract the total cost of your blog from the total value of your blog and divide by the total cost. Convert that number into a percentage, and you have your blog’s ROI.

How does your blog measure up? After performing these calculations, do you think your blog is worth the effort?

Image by Flickr user Sushiina (Creative Commons)

Public Relations for Small Businesses: Interview with Robb Deigh

August 16th, 2010 ::

Robb Deigh

Robb Deigh

Robb Deigh is President of RDC Communication, a strategic communication, marketing, and public relations firm located outside of Washington, DC.  He worked in journalism and PR at PBS, AOL, Blackboard, Inc., and a large PR agency before venturing out on his own 12 years ago.  He’s the author of How Come No One Knows About Us?, as well as numerous articles for trade journals and other publications.  In the following interview with Robb, he offers suggestions on how to get a PR program in place, what mistakes to avoid, and how to track the ROI of your PR efforts.
What are the biggest challenges small businesses face when it comes to planning and executing public relations?

Besides the obvious—budget—there are two.  First, their language and messages might be all over the place.  I take clients through a messaging exercise that helps create a strong, solid set of messages that can then be used on their website and in presentations, print materials, and other communications.  If everyone on the team uses the messages, it is a very powerful tool. 

The second challenge is knowing how to get attention using traditional and social media.  Make a list of stories you can pitch to the media and match those stories to the right publications and appropriate reporters.  Knowing how to pitch a story is THE most important PR skill to have.  In terms of social media, small businesses need to get their messages and website in order before deciding to start a blog, use Facebook, or even publish an e-newsletter.  Make sure that before you say something to the world, you have something to say.  If you use Twitter, you know that there is a lot of jibberish out there right alongside useful information.
What are some easy ways for small businesses to get going with PR?

Start out by creating your organizational messages.   Get your team together and brainstorm a list of all of your company’s attributes.  Use those attributes to build 5-6 great messages that tell prospects, “Here is what we can do for you.”  Update your website with those messages, since all of your communication is designed to steer prospects there first.  Then, try some press.  If budget is tight, build your own small press list.  What do you and your audiences read?  The reporters at those publications are your targets. Get their email addresses and send them announcements when you have real news.  Put yourself in their place and call them with great story ideas about your industry.  

What should small businesses avoid doing?

Three things immediately spring to mind:

  1. Don’t assign a non-communications person in your organization the task of doing PR.  It will end up taking a back seat to his/her real job.  Hire someone with applicable experience and, if needed, get some outside help.  
  2. When pitching stories, do not call reporters with non-news.  
  3. Don’t blog, use Facebook or Twitter, or publish an e-newsletter unless you have something useful and non-self-promotional to say.   Educate your audience and give them the advantage of your expertise.

How can you track the ROI of your public relations efforts?  Seeing a mention in the press is great, but figuring out if it’s generating leads is probably not so easy.

Absolutely!  A stack of clips with your company’s name in it is definitely not a measure of success.  But clips that include at least one of your 5-6 main messages are of immense value.  That’s part of your long-term public relations ROI.  Make sure that when you do an interview, publish an article, or make a presentation, you use your messages.  In time, you will hear them echo back to you in the news media and elsewhere.  That’s how you know it is working.  Of course, you’ll also know it’s working when your sales increase, because good PR leads to high visibility which leads to higher sales.     

Care to share a couple of success stories?

I’ve helped dozens of companies go from being virtually invisible to being strong brands, but I think my biggest PR/media successes over the years have occurred when I have found good story ideas within client organizations and packaged those stories with 2-3 good sources for the right reporters at the right time. 

When you have a great story pitch, make an initial phone call and then send details by email. If you are doing it correctly, you really are doing part of the reporter’s job—finding good stories and sources.   Make it easy for them to say “yes.”  It works the same whether you are pitching your community paper or CNN (although CNN will be harder to reach on the phone!).

What is this ROI thing?

December 17th, 2009 ::

I was considering calling this post “How much effort are you willing to be put into getting what you want”, but ultimately changed my mind because I wanted the people who have asked me the question in the title to dig a little deeper. Lately I’ve been having a lot of conversations about Return on Investment, almost always just called ROI, with people interested in consulting work or at my day job.  I’ve come to the conclusion that most people throw this term around without thinking about all the different possible ROI there actually is. To start us all from equal ground, let’s check out what our friend Wikipedia defines Return on Investment as:

“In finance, rate of return (ROR), also known as return on investment (ROI), rate of profit or sometimes just return, is the ratio of money gained or lost (whether realized or unrealized) on an investment relative to the amount of money invested. The amount of money gained or lost may be referred to as interest, profit/loss, gain/loss, or net income/loss. The money invested may be referred to as the asset, capital, principal, or the cost basis of the investment.”

I know a lot of people that use the term ROI for their marketing, but Wikipedia calls it Return on Marketing Investment and defines it as:

“Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) and Marketing ROI are defined as the optimization of marketing spend for the short and long term in support of the brand strategy by building a market model using valid, objective marketing metrics. Improving ROMI leads to improved marketing effectiveness, increased revenue, profit and market share for the same amount of marketing spend”

Since the same simple acronym is used for a multitude of purposes, and equations to determine it, I can see how people get confused, discouraged, or laser focused on one aspect of a larger whole. When it comes to your marketing strategy, pieces, or tactics, the ROI is going to vary with each effort. I know this may sound like an overwhelming concept, but it really isn’t as bad as it might seem.  It really breaks down to a simple statement, “Is the result worth the effort”. Is that oversimplifying it? Maybe a bit, but marketing really comes down to the simple questions we learned in school. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How.

I can hear the cries now, “Mike you left out the cost aspect of it.” No, I didn’t. There’s a cost to everything. Whether it’s the amount of money that’s being put out or the amount of volunteers or paid employees taking their valuable time to brainstorm, create, implement and execute the strategy or piece. That, to me, is all part of the effort. So, as I asked above, how much effort are you willing to put into getting what you want?

You can determine that with a few simple questions. What is your ultimate goal/end result? What resources will you need to accomplish the goal/end result? Is the goal/end result worth the resources used?

You can make the answer to those questions as complicated or as simple as you want. For example, “the investment of passing out six thousand invitations is worth the three hundred people who actually attend, because the people who don’t will ultimately learn more about our party/product/services when they go home, use the specific url we created for the postcard, and research it.” Or another, “the investment of having my team of employees strategize for a marketing pieces is worth it because when the piece comes to completion they will have a greater sense of ownership of it and then want to help see it succeed in getting the x number of emails/sales/donations/etc. we want it to achieve”.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

You can get a marketing genius to come in and tell you that the Return of X minus the Financial Investment of Y divided by the Time Investment of Z hours is what your ROI will be. Ultimately, it comes down to how important, or valuable, the return is to you, your organization or company, your strategy, or success of your ultimate plan of world marketing domination. So, I’ll ask you the same question I have before, but in a different way, when you sit down to decide on your next marketing piece/strategy/effort is the return worth the investment?

I would love your thoughts on what ROI means to you. Please feel free to leave a comment below or you can reach me on Twitter by sending a message to @wickedjava, or on Facebook at facebook.com/mcdougherty.

As all ways, if you have been reading, thank you and stay wicked.