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Posts Tagged ‘sales process’

Friday Small Business Roundup: Customer Service and More

June 14th, 2013 ::

What Are Consumers Spending on This Summer—and How Can You Get Your Share? Read Karen Axelton’s post to find out.

Is a Talent Shortage Hurting Your Customer Service? Find out why small business owners still struggle to fill jobs in Rieva Lesonsky’s post.

Are you scrimping on new technology? It could be hurting your business. Read Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post How Does Your Small Business’s IT Spending Measure Up? to learn whether you’re getting left behind.

Dan Zarrella’s new book has valuable lessons for small business owners. Get the scoop in Monika Jansen’s series, Top Takeaways From the Science of Marketing, Part 1, and Top Takeaways From the Science of Marketing, Part 2.

Is your customer service up to par? Find out if you’ve got The 4 Factors in Great Customer Service.

People Are Talking—About Your Customer Service, That Is. To make sure they’re saying nice things, read  Rieva Lesonsky’s advice.

Want to learn something new? Read Monika Jansen’s post 6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Graphic Design Skills.

Web.com Small Business Tip of the Day: Women Breadwinners Call the Shots

May 6th, 2013 ::

Want to target your marketing efforts to the breadwinner in the family? According to The Luxury Institute’s recent survey, women are not only the CEOs of their families, but 41 percent of women included in the survey were also the family breadwinners, contributing more than 50 percent of the household income. However, despite the fact that these educated women are earning six-figure salaries, their top priority is still family. So how do you market to these highly educated, affluent women? Think about their busy schedules and high standards. Make sure your website is attractive, professional, easy to navigate and represented on social media. And finally, consider test marketing to this category to get some helpful feedback on what could be improved.

Showrooming, Meet Webrooming

May 6th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

What do customers want from their retail experiences today? Well, if your business includes both an ecommerce site and a physical location, then you’re one step ahead of the game. A new study from Accenture found what customers want most is the ability to shop anytime, any way and anywhere they want to—so the more options you can offer, the better.

Some 89 percent of consumers in The Accenture Seamless Retail Study say it’s important for retailers to let them shop for products however is most convenient for them. But retailers still have a way to go to accomplish this goal. While 94 percent say shopping in-store is easy, and 74 percent say online shopping is easy, just 26 percent say it’s easy to shop on a mobile phone.

While online shopping is growing, and 43 percent of respondents say they plan to shop more online in the future, it’s not necessarily growing at the expense of in-store shopping. In fact, although 73 percent of shoppers engage in showrooming (examining products in a retail store and then buying them online), a whopping 88 percent participate in “webrooming”—looking at products online and then heading to a physical store to make the purchase.

Regardless of their original shopping touchpoint – in-store, online or mobile – consumers expect their interaction with retailers to be a customized, uncomplicated and instantaneous experience, according to the survey. The research also indicates that consistency weighs heavily on the consumer experience. For example, 73 percent of consumers expect a retailer’s online pricing to be the same as its in-store pricing, and 61 percent expect a retailer’s online promotions to be the same as its in-store promotions.

The biggest takeaway from the survey: Consumers expect the same pricing, promotions and products in your physical store and your ecommerce site. They also expect the same level of service and ease of use in both places.

How important is speed to online and offline shoppers? Well, that depends:

  • 25 percent would wait up to 2 weeks to get the product if it means they get free shipping.
  • 24 percent say a same-day delivery option is important.
  • Of those, 30 percent will pay $5 to $10, and 19 percent will pay $11 to $20, for same-day delivery.

Asked what they would do if a store had a product they wanted but it was after business hours, 39 percent would wait for the store to open and buy it there; 36 percent would buy it online from the same retailer; and 22 percent would buy it elsewhere online.

What type of advertising influences retail shoppers? Physical and email coupons and offers ranked number-one, cited by 56 percent of respondents. Almost half (49 percent) were influenced by in-store offers. The least effective ads were online popup or banner ads, with 69 and 62 percent respectively saying these ads “never” influence what they buy.

What’s the lesson from this research? Far from being a drain on an ecommerce business, a physical store is still a “crucial asset” in differentiating your business from purely online retailers, the report contends. If you have both online and physical locations, the key is to make sure your brand and your shopping experience are consistent at every stage of the purchase process, and every place the customer might encounter it.

Image by Flickr user lululemon athletica (Creative Commons)



Web.com Small Business Tip of the Day: Are Big Trade Show Events Worth It?

May 2nd, 2013 ::

Times are definitely changing. Remember the days of setting up a booth at a big trade show to market your business and find vendors?  A new study by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council and Exhibit & Event Marketers Association (E2MA) says marketers find it more and more challenging to measure ROI from big events. While marketers still find value in events, 40 percent of respondents are cutting back on big trade shows in favor of more targeted events, while 44 percent are choosing to host their own events. If you’re not sure whether a trade show or event is worth it, ask the event organizers for any analytics available and talk to previous attendees and exhibitors for their feedback.


Want to Reach Affluent Consumers? Here’s How

May 1st, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If you’re trying to reach affluent consumers, what marketing and advertising venues work best? The newest Shullman Research Center “Survey of the Affluent,” reported in MediaPost, has some insights. The study looked at 6.7 million U.S. adults with household incomes of $250,000 or more. These high-income consumers account for just 3 percent of the U.S. population. Of these, 40 percent (3.1 million) are age 35 to 54; 31 percent (2 million) are age 55 and up; and 23 percent (1.6 million) are under 35.

No matter what the age group, Shullman found, these high-income consumers are devoted to their electronic devices and apps, and are open to advertising in almost any venue. Interestingly, when consumers were asked where they were most likely to see or hear ads that sparked some interest or high interest in their daily life, health clubs/gyms ranked at the top of the list. This was especially true for the under-35 age category, 85 percent of whom saw or heard ads in health clubs that interested them.

Next came magazines, which ranked second for all age groups. However, if you want to reach under-35 affluents, you’d best not advertise in the newspaper. While newspapers ranked third in effectiveness for the 35-to-54 and 55-plus age groups, they were the least effective means of reaching the under-35 category. Television ranked fourth in effectiveness overall and works well for all age groups.

If you’re specifically targeting under-35s, advertising in bus stops, subway stations and train stations works best; 89 percent of this age group said this advertising interested them. Looking to reach the 55-and-over club? Focus on magazines and newspapers.

When asked what type of electronic device they would keep if they could only keep one, the majority (58 percent) of these very-high-income consumers chose their smartphone. Even among the age 55-plus group, 58 percent voted for the smartphone; among the 35-to-54 group, 63 percent did. Tablets came in second, chosen by 22 percent overall.

Older consumers were more likely to use weather, e-reader, GPS/directions/maps, business and finance apps on their smartphones. Younger users were more likely to have social networking apps on their smartphones.

What do these results mean for your business?

  • Tailor your advertising to your target age group. Traditional media still work best for the older consumers, while younger consumers are more open to ads in less traditional venues such as out-of-home and health club ads.
  • Don’t stereotype. Among the very affluent, the oldest age group is equally devoted to its mobile devices as the youngest age group. Purchasing ads on business, finance or weather apps is a good way to reach these users.
  • Keep your eye on tablets. Although they’re not considered as essential as smartphones, they are rising quickly, with more than one-third of under-35 affluents indicating plans to buy a tablet in the next 12 months.

Image by Flickr user DonkeyHotey (Creative Commons)


Help Your Customers Spend Their Tax Refunds—With You

April 30th, 2013 ::

By Karen Axelton

Tax time is over, and those Americans who are expecting a refund are already making plans to spend it. How? A study of Twitter feeds by IQ Agency found that as of early April, 65 percent of Americans already knew how they planned to spend their tax refunds. The result is good news for retailers, with

  • 14% planning to spend it on electronics
  • 11% planning to spend it on fashion
  • 11% planning to spend it on automotive
  • 10% planning to spend it on food and beverages
  • 7% planning to spend it on travel
  • 7% planning to spend it on events
  • 5% planning to spend it on music.

You’ll notice most of these purchases fall into the discretionary category, which means consumers can easily be swayed to buy by emotional appeals. Consider a marketing approach that does one or more of the following:

  • Focuses on the tax refund as “found money” that won’t impact the family budget if spent on discretionary items.
  • Emphasizes the “reward yourself” or “treat yourself” aspect of making these purchases.
  • Suggests making a long-desired, big-ticket purchase (such as a new TV or electronic device) that otherwise would be too costly.
  • Highlights the experiential quality of spending on vacations, events, or food and beverages, such as sharing good times with friends or making memories with the family.
  • Appeals to the sensible side by offering discounts or deals on these product and service categories to tempt consumers who may be on the fence.
  • Uses humor to sympathize with consumers’ tax time headaches and celebrate that they’re finally over.

Even for the 35 percent of Americans that IQ Agency found plan to save their refund or use it to pay bills, there could be opportunity for financial planners, insurance salespeople and advisers. With tax time fresh in customers’ minds and finances on their brains, you can:

  • Contact existing clients with suggestions for how to maximize their refund.
  • Offer to review current clients’ portfolios or insurance coverage, suggesting that refund money provides an opportunity to upgrade with “found money.”
  • Reach out to prospects by offering a free consultation as to how their refund can be the start of an investment plan or used to purchase needed insurance that they may have been putting off.

Image by Flickr user bradleygee (Creative Commons)

What Luxury Travelers Want in 2013

April 25th, 2013 ::

By Karen Axelton

If your business is involved in the travel industry, benefits from travelers or markets to them, you’ll want to know what luxury travelers are planning for this year. The news from Unity Marketing is positive: The company’s latest report, Affluent Consumers & Their Travel Plans for 2013, surveyed over 1,300 affluent consumers with an average income of $267,800 and found that nearly half (45 percent) plan to spend more on travel in 2013 compared with 2012.

Where are luxury consumers planning to go? Internationally, three destinations were especially popular compared to 2011: the Caribbean, Asia and Australia/New Zealand. In the U.S., Las Vegas and Nevada in general topped the list of planned vacation spots, followed by New York, Florida, Boston/New England and Los Angeles. 15 percent of consumers plan on visiting Western Europe, especially France, Germany Italy and Spain.

What else do you need to know about luxury travelers?

Luxury travelers typically take multiple long vacations. In 2013, the average luxury traveler will take 2.8 separate vacations lasting four days or longer.

Luxury travelers don’t want to spend a lot of money getting to their destination. They rarely fly first-class, for example, and they seek to use frequent flyer points and other means to economize on the trip. Receiving discounts was cited as more important this year than in the prior 2011 survey.

Once they get to their destination, however, luxury travelers splurge, typically staying in four- to five-star hotels. Experience is key for luxury travelers, and the types of experiences they want most this year are relaxation/stress reduction, sightseeing, and fine dining/food and wine experiences.

This year, luxury travelers are relying much less on travel agents and much more on online reviews and other online tools. Less than one-third will use a travel agent to plan their trips, and the importance of online reviews rose compared to the 2011 survey.

But there is still opportunity for travel sellers, tour companies and other travel-related businesses. To make the most of luxury travelers’ growing budgets:

  • Provide or link to online reviews of your business on your website.
  • Offer discounts, special offers or packages to appeal to luxury travelers’ desire to save.
  • Provide a curated experience. Luxury travelers care greatly about creating meaningful memories and having unique experiences, so if your business can help them discover or enjoy unusual experiences, you’ll appeal to their interests.
  • Focus on high quality. Luxury consumers demand the best, so make sure your service is up to their standard.

Image by Flickr user breezy421 (Creative Commons)

How to Craft Content That Works for Your Content Marketing Campaign

April 24th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

The essence of any content marketing strategy is, of course, content. But for small business owners, this is often the biggest stumbling block. Chances are you’re not a writer, so how do you and your team craft content that will work to improve your website’s SEO and drive traffic and sales? Here are some tips.

Focus on quality. You may read articles that give you the idea your content has to be stuffed with keywords. In reality, this leads to articles that make no sense (we’ve all read them—those blog posts that sound like they were written by someone who didn’t speak English). Think about what your audience wants to know, and write articles that answer their questions. For example, if you own a lawn care and landscaping business, your customers might want to know how to keep their lawns green, how to prevent weeds, what types of grass are best for the local climate, etc.

Include both timely and timeless content. You don’t want every article you write to become outdated in a month. However, tying your content to current trends (such as seasons, holidays or hot topics online) does help boost your SEO and make your site seem fresh. Aim for a mix of timeless topics (such as what types of grass are best for the climate, or how often to mow a lawn) and timely ones (such as popular plants this summer, or how to prepare your garden for winter).

Use keywords. I mentioned not stuffing your articles with keywords, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to use them. Figure out what keywords you want to be found for (for example: San Francisco lawn care, landscaping service, best landscaping company) and use those keywords in the headlines, subheads and first paragraphs of your articles. If you use photos or graphics, you should also use keywords in the captions, descriptions and tags of the artwork.

Enlist your staff. If you’re not a good writer, do you have someone who is on your team? Remember, content isn’t just words, so see what kind of talent exists on your staff. You might have someone who’s great at shooting videos or taking photos. Used properly on your website and social media accounts, these can be excellent traffic drivers.

Get professional help. Creating content, especially blog posts, articles and newsletters, can be time-consuming and stressful if you don’t have an experienced writer on staff. Consider outsourcing to a freelance writer or marketing copywriter. You can find tons to choose from on sites like Guru.com, Elance.com or Freelancer.com.

Image by Flickr user mrsdkrebs (Creative Commons)

How to Use Video in Your Content Marketing Strategy

April 18th, 2013 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

If you’re trying to boost the success of your content marketing efforts, one way to do so is by adding video. Online video is becoming more a part of consumers’ everyday lives, especially when it comes to online shopping, according to a report from Invodo and the eTailing Group.

The survey of over 1,000 Internet users found that the majority (52 percent) regularly watch video during the online shopping process. About one-third say they always watch video if it’s available; almost all (90 percent) watch it at least occasionally. Shoppers are also turning to video earlier in the shopping process—during the research stage—especially when it comes to big-ticket purchases or complex purchases.

What’s important for content marketers to know—whether or not they are e-tailers—is that:

  • Internet users are showing more interest in video compared to prior years.
  • Consumer engagement is greater on sites that offer video.
  • Consumers are spending more time watching videos than in prior years.
  • They are also watching more videos in more product categories than in prior years.

While Invodo’s study focused on ecommerce-related videos, there is a wide range of options for small business video—from an e-tailer’s video demonstrating what clothing or apparel looks like on a model, to an accountant’s video explaining the latest tax deductions.

Clearly, adding video is a great way to engage your prospects. So what can you do to make sure your videos get watched?

  • Make them educational. Create videos that demonstrate your products or services, show past customers talking about their satisfaction with your products or services, or educated consumers about what you do or sell. Invodo found videos with an educational or demonstration aspect were more likely to get watched.
  • Make them easy to share. Consumers eagerly share videos on social media—in fact, they’re more likely to share videos than they are images or photos. Add share buttons or embed codes that enable users to pass your content along, as well as text encouraging them to share the video with others.
  • Consider mobile. Invodo found viewing of videos on mobile devices is on the upswing, so create your videos with mobile in mind. This means simple setups that are easy to see on small devices.
  • Shorter is better. Under two or three minutes is a good length for most types of videos. If you’re trying to cover a complex topic, break it down into a series of shorter videos. You’ll have more content and are more likely to attract views that way.
  • Post in multiple places. In addition to your website, post videos on social media and consider creating a YouTube channel for your business. The more places your videos are available, the more traction they’ll gain.

Image by Flickr user M4D Group (Creative Commons)

Web.com Small Business Toolkit: Updience.com (Online Marketing Solution)

April 16th, 2013 ::


The best free marketing tool has always been word-of-mouth, and today, more and more innovative entrepreneurs are using social media to create new ways to spread the good word about your business. Updience.com is based on the notion that your happy customers are the best channel by which to find new customers—and a recommendation can spread your reach to all corners of the world. Simply choose the location of your customers (local, state by state or worldwide). Then choose your target market, whether consumer or business to business, by age, gender and/or marital status. Updience.com will then advise you on how many potential customers you can reach through their site—for free.