Category Archive for Business

Client Satisfaction: What Should You Do To Keep Your Clients

What Should You Do To Keep Your ClientsHave you ever asked yourself what is the major determinant of client satisfaction? The answer will be added value. In a competitive market, where you will most probably find yourself today, the best and the most valuable tactics you should follow is differentiation. Try and become more than a lawyer—an experienced and reliable adviser, or more than a store—someone’s favorite present store, more than a search engine optimization company—a business that over-delivers beyond the usual services.

Achieving such great reputation is not difficult. It is far easier to focus on solving your customers’ problems than to sell them. You will find many loyal customers in this way. Let’s have a quick overview of the most common value adds:

1) Show your customers you are thinking about them. Start to send them articles, your newsletters and other important info, which they might be interested in.

2) Provide your clients with educational materials. Offer them to partake in interesting seminars or conferences on subjects relevant to their business. It will be highly appreciated.

3) Offer your selected clients some benefits. Let them be first to discover the items from the new collection, invite them to meet the author of a bestseller in your bookstore, etc.

4) Report your clients the status of matters. Periodic reports may serve as your great performance record, or, otherwise, give you notice that something is wrong and need improvement. Another certain advantage is finding ways your client can save his money with your company. For example, let redesigning a website for your client be an inclusive part of the overall SEO or PPC service package.

5) Get your client involved in the process. It plays a great part in client satisfaction. Talk to your clients, chat with them ‘live’, do not hide anything they need to know, try to build trust between you, let them know what exactly needs to be done and how. Don’t hesitate to ask your clients what they think. Let them know you value their business.

6) Assist your clients to network. Recommend other noticeable services or products to your clients. Make it easy for them to ask you for a piece of advice, even if it is not directly connected to your business.

By building a trust between you and your client, by offering value-added services, by managing expectations and over-delivering on results, you will receive long-term relational benefits which will positively influence your business processes and experience in general.

Is Your Business Making Customers Happier? Here Are 6 Ways…

Is Your Business Making Customers Happier? Here Are 6 Ways...Caring and supporting your customers has never been more crucial in this day of marketing automation. Many times we get so caught up in getting things done and getting them out there that we can forget to add the little touches. It’s those little things that can often mean the difference between good and great. For example, if you run an Internet business, ensure that you have not just an email but also a phone contact. This means that customers can reach a ‘live’ person. Perhaps you also offer several payment options instead of just the usual one or two.

That small touch goes a long way in creating happy customers, the added value being that a happy customer is usually a repeat customer. When you give your customers this top-notch level of customer service, they look to you for more great work, they tell their friends about the great service they received, and above all they grow to trust you and what you’re offering them.

The idea is to deliver customer service that goes beyond just handling problems to exceeding normal standards and expectations. This might sound cliché but in my opinion, “experience is everything.” The experience hinges on the quality of interaction Customer Support can bring to the customers, no matter which angle they are coming from, what emotional state they are in, how difficult their issues are, etc.

The point is the experience can be mastered and applied uniformly. These are 6 major factors that constitute excellent customer service:

1. Listen: “God gives you 2 ears and 1 mouth so you jolly well listen twice as much as you speak.” This statement probably is another cliché but how so true it applies to almost every situation in life, generally speaking. The funny thing is you may provide a specific range of products or services, but the problems customers give feedback on can arise from many different perspectives and situations and contain so many variables.

Being able to listen attentively means the Support person must keep his emotions and judgment in check. By ‘judgment’, I mean that he should not rattle off a solution in a condescending tone while thinking “the customer is so stupid to have thought of something so simple”. Humility and respect for customers are great attitudes that make room for customers to participate by voicing out their problems as they see them, so that Support can gradually turn the conversation around and invite them to see the problems from Support’s perspective.

When both sides can gain clarity and mutual understanding on a common definition of the problem, it makes the subsequent resolution a whole lot easier. Great listening skills come with time and experience, but seriously, if nothing else, point 1 is all that matters in this article.

2. Initiative: Customer service is not just a department’s realm of work, but a collective effort from everyone in the company. It was said that customers don’t deal with staff; they deal with company representatives, and as representatives, everything they do adds on to the overall impact and perception of the company and its branding.

If the spirit of Service is embodied by every worker, they would take it upon themselves to find a solution to every customer problem they come across even if the work does not fall into their job scope. How do you think customers feel from the moment they are assured by someone—whom they don’t necessarily know is from Customer Support or not—that their issues will be taken care of and they will be followed up by the appropriate personnel within 24 hours?

3. Response speed: The best practice is to return call or email to customers within 24 hours. ‘Immediate’ is the ideal case. The reason is you can get hold of them while they are still preoccupied with their issues. It proves to them that you are on top of their situations in terms of service.

4. Valuable content: Provide exclusive, customer-only content to keep them in the loop of consumer changes, trends, product development etc. and to encourage feedback while they stay passive. Add the personal touch by sending them a greeting card on their birthdays and anniversaries.

5. Incentives: Reward your customers for their long-term loyalty by offering reward points, discounts or vouchers for future purchases, free product upgrades, dedicated support etc.

6. CRM system: Invest in a CRM platform to keep customer records organized so that any staff can track each customer’s history of interactions. Such records empower staff to strategically plan for cultivating long-term relationships.

Putting the needs of customers first is what excellent customer service is all about—not only can you retain them, you will also attract new customers solely on the strength of positive word-of-mouth about your service standards. Make customers happy and they will come back to you repeatedly.

Designing Customer Satisfaction Surveys That Work

Designing Customer Satisfaction Surveys That Work

Why bother?

Good customer service is the life blood of any business. Although new customers are important, good customer service will help generate customer loyalty and repeat business. With each satisfied customer your business is likely to win many more customers through recommendations and remember, if you are not taking care of your customers, your competition will.

Online customer satisfaction surveys will help by not only identifying problem areas but show that you care and are proactive in looking for ways to improve the service that you provide.

Where do you start?

Objective – Before you start creating your survey clarify the objectives of the survey, in that way you will find it easier to decide what are the right questions to ask.

Analysis – Consider how you will analyse the answers having completed the survey.

Keep in mind that ‘closed’ questions (where a respondent is asked to choose from a limited number of responses) are much easier to analyze than ‘open’ questions (where the respondent can reply in anyway they want).

A lot will depend on the predicted volume of respondents, the higher the volume the more important it is to have an easy method of analysing the results.

Opportunity – As well as obtaining valuable market research data keep in mind that customer surveys are also a good way to publicise aspects of your service that your customers may not be aware of.

Before you publish the survey confirm that the questions you have asked will provide you with market research data that when analysed will help you make informed decisions.

Then, from a marketing view point read through the survey, confirm that you have phrased each question so that every opportunity has been taken to promote your business?

The ideal question will perform the following 3 functions:

  • Market research – provide valuable feedback to help you improve your customer satisfaction levels and in turn your business
  • Marketing – promote aspects of your business
  • Information/Education – advertise a service that you provide that your customers may not have been unaware of

For example: Do you find the in-store baby changing facilities useful?

By asking this question not only will the store receive good market research feedback on the facility they provide but they will also promote their facilities and advertise themselves as a family friendly store, even beyond those customers who have a specific need for the baby changing facility that has been provided.

Warts and all – to benefit most from a customer survey you need to be prepared to dig deep and accept the worst.

A customer satisfaction survey should be designed to identify any problem areas so that they can be fixed; conducting regular customer satisfaction surveys will help prevent complacency and will also give early warning on where you may be losing business to your competitors initiatives.

What are the questions you should ask?

Each business is likely to have unique factors in relation to providing good customer services however there are common areas that are going to be relevant to all businesses be they a physical store, online store or a service industry. The following are some key areas to providing good customer service.

Communication – What do you do to help your customers communicate with you?

When customers telephone are their calls answered quickly; are their enquiries about products or services handled properly? Good businesses will make every effort to ensure that whatever the customers query it is resolved by the right person, quickly, politely and fairly.

If customers reported problems that cannot be resolvable immediately do you promise to respond in a given time period and do you deliver on your promise?

Use a customer satisfaction survey to ensure that all your staff are considered by your customers to be knowledgeable, courteous and helpful.

Location – Are you doing everything you can to ensure that your customers find it easy to visit you, if a physical store, does it have good access and is it conveniently located?

Making it pleasant, making it easy – For an online business it is important to ensure that your website is easy to use and aesthetically pleasing.

Physical store or online website, is the store properly laid out, can your customers find what they need and is there sufficient information and help on hand to explain how a particular product works?

The right quality products – You should not only measure the quality of the service that you provide but you should also monitor that the products and services that you market are what the customer wants and closely match their expectations.

Value for money – Cheap or expensive is not always a good measure, value for money is.

Is your business associated with value for money by your customers, if not, why not?

Speed and attention – Customers want to be dealt with quickly but attentively.

Are you doing everything you can to avoid delays?

Good businesses will try to treat each customer as an individual, does yours? Customers appreciate attention but only if it leads to a quick and satisfactory resolution of the query.

Demographics and Specific issues – Take the opportunity to profile your customers, for example where do they live and what is their age group?

Understand your customers more and you will be able to better target your business.

As part of the survey allow your customers the opportunity to highlight any problems that they may have and provide you with contact details so that their problems might be later addressed and their concerns followed up.

What next?

Once the survey has been completed analyse the results.

Trends – Identify common and specific areas where the service needs improving.

Ask yourself honestly if any criticism that you receive is valid and if there anything that can be done to resolve or minimise the problem?

Training – Are all employees properly trained and do they have sufficient knowledge?

Where employee training programmes have been implemented have they made a positive contribution to the business and improved the customer service?

Follow-up – If a customer has raised a specific issue through completing a survey ensure that they are contacted and that their complaint is properly addressed.

Do not squander the opportunity to resolve a problem and keep a customer.

Continuously Monitor – Based on the survey results make changes and then re-measure by issuing further surveys.

Resources

Customer Satisfaction Survey Template

Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions: 5 Sample Templates You Can Use Right Away

How Telemarketing Is Changing In The 21st-Century Marketplace

How Telemarketing Is Changing In The 21st-Century MarketplaceTelemarketing is a pretty old business. Telemarketing got its start in the 1950s and has not changed much since it began. The earliest forms of telemarketing were generally used to sell magazine subscriptions to customers through the phone, using a system of database marketing. Gradually, more soliciting was done over the phone, until it got to the point that telemarketing calls were being made at all hours of the day and evening.

At this point, the government stepped in and started invoking laws for direct marketing so that the telemarketing companies were not able to call as often. This was good for prospects, but of course, it was bad for the telemarketing companies. Some of the laws that were imposed on the telemarketing companies encompassed things such as the time when they could call, being required to stop calling if someone asked to be removed from the call list, and introducing the national do-not-call registry.

This enabled people to take themselves off any telemarketing list, making it illegal to call them for any kind of solicitation. With so many people taking themselves off of the solicitation lists, the telemarketing companies have had to turn to other means of income generation to keep themselves in business. Now, many telemarketing companies are adapting or integrating telemarketing processes into digital marketing to keep turning a profit.

The traditional telemarketing sales format is not used in a digital marketing strategy. Some companies are still using outbound telemarketing by having people set up appointments on the phone to be finished later over the Internet. Another way to bring telemarketing into the future is through the creation of the virtual call center. This saves the telemarketing companies money because people are working from home for a reduced salary, thus reducing their overhead costs.

A good digital marketing strategy is needed to play a larger role in the sales process for telemarketing to stay relevant. Some companies have completely switched to the Internet as a means of saving business costs by having people call from home through a virtual call center. Other marketing companies are changing their focus completely to address the new interests of today’s society. Overall, the world of telemarketing and direct marketing is changing and will never be the same again.

How To Transition From Traditional To Inbound Marketing In 7 Steps

How To Transition From Traditional To Inbound Marketing In 7 Steps

The adoption of Inbound Marketing* in Singapore and generally across Asia is not as fast as we had wished. Based on feedback, the biggest challenge business owners face is how putting more emphasis on digital marketing can affect their operations, prospecting effectiveness, sales leads quality and ultimately sales conversion. They do worry about the hard numbers, and we respect that.

On the other hand, old habits die hard too. When once-reliable marketing methods gradually become outmoded and enter a sunset phase, marketing professionals are slow to adapt to changes, and instead of committing to training, decide to “move on in life”, thus resulting in employment turnovers.

Nevertheless, businesses are dictated by an ever-changing marketplace, which consists of highly educated and well-informed consumers who are less likely to give in to emotional purchases, and take more time to deliberate buy-in decisions. Going Inbound is the best way to reach out to these consumers, inform them with your business knowledge and nurture their confidence in your business entity.

Transitioning from traditional marketing to Inbound need not be a sudden process. If your company already has a website, I can safely presume someone in your company is administrating it. This particular administrator will be much needed for his/her skills to continually publish digital content assets to augment online business presence.

Here are 7 steps to take note when preparing to go Inbound:

1) Have a mindset and culture for online expression and sharing: Content is the essential ingredient and driver of Inbound Marketing. Do create content in popular forms like blog posts, articles, ebooks, whitepapers or social media posts so that people who are already interested in your products and services can easily search for you.

2) Transform all your existing offline marketing materials into digital assets and vice versa: Coming up with digital content is as easy as taking what you already have as flyers, pamphlets, handbooks, brochures, direct mail etc. and repackage them into product pages, social media images, infographics, email messages and the types of content mentioned in point 1.

Conversely, when you have original online content, think how you can share it in the real world, such as printing it as a guide to give away at events, repurposing it as a PowerPoint presentation, include it as a link in print, promote it as a print ad etc.

3) Upgrade your existing website structure a) to integrate content publishing platform and b) with clear conversion points: For point A, I’m referring primarily to having a blog. Setting up a blog these days is very easy with the famous 5-minute WordPress installation, or you can create a blogger.com account and link your new blog to your website.

For point B, having succinct conversion points designed into your website means you will know where and when your leads will be elevated in their salescycle stages as determined by their actions, whether it is a simple action of downloading an ebook, using the “Contact Us” form to submit an enquiry, or liking a Facebook post etc.

4) Design an Inbound marketing plan: Digital marketing campaigns require sustained effort and can go on for months. For results to take significant effect, a routine of digital marketing work needs to be carried out daily. If you are not sure where to start, you can search for digital marketing agencies like iSmart Communications to ask for help. Give us a call or e-mail us with your enquiry and we will get the ball rolling as we guide you along.

5) Design a more consultative prospecting call script: Unlike the typical cold sales leads, the leads you accumulate online has known, to an extent, a little more information about your business, who you are, what’s your expertise and how you can help them solve their challenges. They are just beginning to search for solutions. Therefore taking a consultative approach to speaking to them enables you to understand where their starting point is in their buyer’s journey so you can bring them to a close with much less resistance.

6) Set aside budget for Inbound marketing: As soon as you begin to sense a good momentum picking up in your Inbound efforts, it’s time to consider how much budget you can afford to ramp up the work. You may even consider scaling down your traditional marketing activities and transfer the budget from there to Inbound.

7) Invest in a marketing automation software like HubSpot Singapore: Automation enables Inbound marketers to disseminate their content on schedule, so that every sales lead that requests for a particular information will have the same lead nurturing experience no matter which day or date they opt in. Leveraging on automation can free up the marketers’ time so they can spend it on other matters.

These 7 steps are by no means simple. They just provide a broad overview on what it takes to direct more efforts into Inbound marketing. Certainly the devil is in the details, but it is not expensive nor risky to start small. Start by publishing and sharing content online, and take note where your new audience is coming from and how it grows. Talk to them, address their problems and soon you will be nurturing a critical mass of fans and followers. In effect, you are establishing your online business presence and authority the Inbound way.

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, social media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.

Sales Communication: 5 Tips For Enhancing Your Sales-Closing Capabilities In The 21st-Century Marketplace

5 Tips For Enhancing Your Sales-Closing Capabilities In The 21st-Century MarketplaceIt’s great that your website is doing well at generating sales leads, but the seller’s journey is far from over. As your marketing or sales department begins to disqualify prospects and take note of the few good ones, you can’t help but feel like you are walking on a tightrope: one bad move and the hot lead could say, “I’ll think it over,” or mention some other excuses and s/he gradually slips away.

It’s a real bad feeling to have when all your efforts come to nought. It may be true that somewhere down the sales process, bad strategies rear their ugly heads, and so it is time to identify who or what is at fault and remedy the situation. It is also true that the failure to convert leads into sales arises due to external forces beyond your control.

You see, we cannot discount the fact that the online marketplace has evolved such that merchants and sellers have no choice but to adapt to changing consumer trends. In days past, sellers would diagnose prospects’ needs, align those needs to their solutions and sell the solutions based on a ‘match’ that is wholly ‘conjured’ by themselves whether they actually solve those needs or not. Now with the Internet, consumers can have all the accessible research data at their disposal, to define a solution for themselves, and compare competing sellers to find the best possible match for their pre-defined solution without having to approach sellers at an earlier stage and suffer through listening to their promotional bias.

In a sense, this is good news because according to a study by the Corporate Executive Board, prospects are up to 57% closer to a purchasing decision by the time they make first contact with a seller. If that seller is you, it means that the positioning of your solution is convincing and strong enough to sell on its own.

We present 5 sales communication tips for enhancing your sales-closing capabilities in the 21st-century marketplace:

1) Seek customers’ feedback: Much has been said about following up on prospects in order to guide them closer towards the sale, but following up on customers after the sale is just as important to gauge how well your solution or product is working to solve their problems. You could ask them to rate specific features of your product, how long a time period does it take to solve their problems, or if there is any improvement they’d like to see in future product iterations. Translate positive feedback into an emphasis of strength by retooling your promotional copy, and also publish feedback as customer testimonials to boost the positioning of your solution.

You can also research similar competing products to yours and see if you can further differentiate your positioning in more unique ways.

2) Shorten response time: This practice is much stressed by our director, Stanley. Within 3 rings of the phone, it must be picked up. When an enquiry email comes in, reply to it, or call the person back within 5 minutes. The impact is unmistakably massive: Prospects are almost always impressed by quick response. Any length of time you can reduce in the buying process through quick response and resolving any questions that could affect their purchasing decision accrues to their benefit and yours too. This raises the bar on your competitiors, while your prospects can’t help but remember you the most.

3) Know your hot prospects intimately: Presuming you come across a prospect who knows more then most, it’s time to ‘switch’ your sales approach towards selling on the prospect’s terms. Do some research on the prospect’s professional background through social media, his/her business, the history of his/her interactions with your website, lead score, CRM records etc. Standard templates can only get you so far. On the other hand, such research helps you understand a particular buyer persona, personalize the sales process, create conversations and plan for meetings. Having an intimate understanding of where your prospect is coming from can boost his/her perception that you care, and this in turn increases the likelihood of a sale.

4) Seek common ground by asking first, telling later: During meetings, get prospects to talk first so you can align yourself or your positioning to them in an agreeble manner. It’s like what Dale Carnegie said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” Ask them about how their problems or challenges arise in the first place, what information have they gathered as part of research, and “What help are you looking for?” Asking questions help you determine from what angle the prospect has positioned his problem as a priority, so you can ‘attack’ from that angle and gain his/her trust. Any experienced salesmen who know their products at the back of their hands should be fearless at asking questions because they know they can always be in control of the conversation. It is why you are just as much qualified as the lead to arrange for a meeting in the first place. Yes, trust yourself on that. If you can’t come up with a satisfactory answer on the spot, you can always get back to them later after doing your own research.

5) Persistent follow-up: Again, follow up on prospects every step of the way to clear all their questions, while giving them some time and space to think through your offer. It could take between 5 to 12 follow-up instances to close the sale. According to Dan McCade, it could even take up to a year to close a sale. More importantly, following up prevents them from turning cold.

How 3 Companies Used Scarcity To Drive Sales Leads

What if I told you two cookies in a jar and ten identical cookies in an identical jar would be valued differently?

In a 1975 study, researchers Worchel, Lee and Adewole wanted to know how people value identical cookies in two identical glass jars. One jar contained ten cookies whereas the other contained two. Which cookies would be valued more?

The results were surprising. While both cookies and the jar were identical, participants in the experiment valued the cookies in the near-empty jar than the full jar.

How 3 Companies Used Scarcity To Drive Sales Leads

Introducing Scarcity And Urgency

Could it be that the scarcity had somehow influenced their perception of value? Things that are scarce make us want something even more if there isn’t enough to go around, creating a sense of urgency.

It makes us feel privileged that we could get our hands on the “last few remaining”.

What do cookies have to do with creating valuable offers, you wonder?

Scarcity works on this simple principle:

Plenty of stuff – no one wants it

Not much stuff – everyone wants it

Perhaps you’ve seen something like this.

Source: Booking.com

Or this.

Source: TigerDirect.com

In both examples, companies took advantage of the scarcity principle to dramatically increase the attractiveness of their stated offers.

By deliberately limiting the time or quantity of their offers, their offers were seen as more attractive. Scarcity works because it forces action. Scarcity creates a fear of shortage and motivates urgency.

Potential buyers can’t just say, “I’ll decide tomorrow”, they will have to decide now or miss out completely on a potentially important offer.

Using the scarcity technique, you can influence your prospect’s behaviour by changing the fundamental economic rules of supply and demand.

Wondering how to put your new-found knowledge into action? Here are three brilliant examples of scarcity marketing at work.

1. Domino’s Pizza: Limited Time Offer

Part of its push to make itself known in the mobile ordering space, the pizza chain incentivised consumers to order from smartphones, tablets and desktops with a 50 percent discount during a basketball tournament in the US. The company sold 1.7 million pizzas during the semi-finals.

Key Takeaway: Dominos understood where their target market was and positioned their offer accordingly. They foresaw their consumers were interacting more with their mobile devices while watching television and combined a scarcity marketing tactic on a platform where their target market was at that time.

2. Booking.com: Limited Quantity Offer

Key Takeaway: Here, popular accommodation website Booking.com makes use of scarcity messages and limited quantity messages marked in RED to create a sense of urgency and get people to book their desired hotel at the first visit.

“We have only X left”, “Just booked Y hours ago” and “Z people are looking at this hotel.”

These messages are designed to add pressure and get people buying.

Planning a trip and really like the hotel? Book it NOW.

3. Groupon: Limited Time and Quantity

E-commerce marketplace Groupon uses both tactics effectively in their daily deals. Groupon deals end within a certain timeframe and they also limit the number of people who can buy a Groupon.

Key Takeaway: This use of the scarcity principle along with clearly stating the discount’s value when consumers bought the deal makes for a powerful combination, explaining why Groupon has been so successful in the e-commerce marketplace.

Ending off, scarcity plays on customer perception of supply and demand to create urgency. It plays on our ever-present “fear of missing out” to drive potential customers to take action NOW.

These are 3 examples of how businesses have used the scarcity principle to make their offers more attractive, hence generating more sales leads and customers! Are you using these techniques in your business’s offer pages?

Why HubSpot Is Beneficial To Your Business

Why Is HubSpot Beneficial To Your Business

There are many marketing automation software to choose from, so why HubSpot?

HubSpot is globally well-known for its flagship marketing automation software that goes by the same name. It is all-in-one, containing all the modules a business needs to market itself, including a blogging platform, email marketing tools, website design and management tools, search engine optimization module, keyword research module, social media management tools and analytics.

HubSpot has an intuitive, user-friendly control panel that allows you to edit your website, add new blog posts and publish new social media content. All of these tasks can be accomplished with one login and one set of options from the same dashboard. This feature will save you noticeable time that you would have otherwise spent on using multiple login pages for your website and various social profiles.

HubSpot goes beyond providing the software to offer its clients a full range on Inbound certification programs to ensure that they know how to operate the software, and the programs are FREE even as the educational material rivals any online marketing courses in Singapore.

I’d highly encourage you to take 14 minutes to click the 2 links below and watch 2 overview videos on all the great features of Hubspot. It’s great to visually see how the tool works. Seeing everything in action is way easier to understand than reading about it.

What Is HubSpot? | Demo Of HubSpot

Discover 2 Simple Ways To Capture More Sales Leads And Customers!

Sales leads that are generated via Inbound Marketing* are extremely important, because they are the prospects who have indicated an interest in your company or your products. However, many companies in Singapore and Asia make mistakes while trying to close the leads. These leads are either not being contacted on a regular basis, or companies give up on following up with them for various reasons. This closes the door on great opportunities for many businesses in Singapore and Asia.

Most companies make 2 assumptions about ‘bad’ leads:

  1. Assuming that a prospect places you as a priority, solely based on their expression of interest
  1. Assuming a lead isn’t interested just because they aren’t replying to company emails and calls. This could simply mean they’re busy with other matters at the moment.

With this in mind, here are 2 ways to capture more customers for your business in Singapore and Asia.

1. Follow up until you get a response.

You’d be amazed at how many opportunities are still out there long after many companies have simply given up on trying to close the sales leads. Continue to follow up with the prospect/lead until you get a definite response. If there is no response for a long time period, do not assume that they are no longer interested. Continue establishing contact, and sooner or later, this lead is likely to turn into a customer.

2. Engaging the prospects at the right time.

According to a Lead Response Management study, if you call a lead within 5 minutes of sign-up, your chances of connecting with them are 100x higher than if you call back a few hours later or the next day. The reason is simple: your prospect would still be in front of their computer considering what you have to offer. However, if there is a long break between their sign-up and you contacting them, then your competitor may already have gotten that business. There is a saying that goes, “Money loves speed.” Moving fast in this competitive world creates greater opportunities for you in Singapore and Asia. Contacting through a personal email message or a personal call explaining the USP of your product/service will make your lead seriously consider on his/her buying decision.

Follow these 2 strategies to get in touch with your sales leads, and through lead nurturing, eventually convert them into customers, thereby completing the Inbound Marketing funnel.

To read more about common mistakes made in Inbound Marketing, take a look at our previous post “3 Big Mistakes Rookie Inbound Marketers Make“.

* Inbound Marketing is a form of digital marketing in Singapore and Asia that involves SEO, social media marketing, blogging and creating landing pages to generate sales leads.

How To Delight Existing Customers

Delight Existing Customers

So you’ve made the sale! The long tedious process of closing your sales leads, converting them into customers is over. So what happens now?

A rookie mistake would be to forget about these customers once they’ve written you a cheque. You wouldn’t forget about your partner once you married them, would you? Many companies put a strong emphasis on making sales. However, they often do not place as much importance on providing customer service, and hence unsuccessfully retain said customers and enjoy their continuous patronising.

Objectively speaking, there are a number of reasons why you should maintain a healthy relationship with a customer, such as:

Word-Of-Mouth Promotion [Customers -> Promoters]

Customer evangelism – This occurs when your happy customers unreservedly praise your products/services to their friends and connections. This usually takes place on social media.

Customer referrals – Conversely, this is when customers refer you to friends or contacts, and your product will generally be better received as opposed to it being outbound-marketed (advertised) to these people as they are being introduced by a familiar face.

Continuous purchases [Customers -> Repeat Customers]

Customer retention and loyalty – Often, purchases aren’t a one-time thing. Loyal customers will regularly choose your product over its competitors, which is definitely a good thing.

So, how do you delight existing customers?

– Provide good customer service, and it starts with truly knowing your customers. The HubSpot marketing software has great capabilities that empower marketers to track customers by their online behavior such as the type of content they mostly read, the links they click, what they say on social media, their predominant interests as expressed by the content they published, etc.

– Market customers other products based on their interests. Based on what you know about their buying habits or areas of interest, you can tailor your marketing approaches to market them product you know they’ll like. You can do this using a combination of smart CTAs and workflows.

– Be creative in your marketing. Offer exclusivity (e.g. sneak peeks) or give them better prices to show that you value their ongoing loyalty.

Discover 13 Strategies Of The Effective Business Networker!

Discover 13 Strategies Of The Effective Business Networker!In the corporate world, the majority of working professionals have technical expertise and competencies, but much less of them have sharp skills in business communication, an overarching term which sales communication and business networking come under. I heard many years ago that the richest men and women in the world, like Bill Gates for example, do not hide in their offices and apply their technical skills most of the time. So what do they do? They go out into the world and meet people: build up their business networks, give and get referrals, arrange joint ventures, seek expansion through opportunities and ideas etc.

We should not blame ourselves for being late bloomers at business communication. We were not brought up and educated in it. Technical skills come first because it is fundamental to the production of goods and services, yet the rule of thumb in business is the salespeople who bring in the most customers get the most commissions.

Since you have come this far in reading this post, at least you can now begin to appreciate the long-term importance of business communication. Today’s main topic is about business networking and how to go about meeting people productively in a networking event.

Like everything else in life, we may freeze in fear at trying out new stuff and gaining new experiences but with habitual practice, we will settle down in our hearts and minds and apply new skills as in a normal routine.

As a set of guidelines, here are what you can do before, during and after a networking event.

Before:

1) Network with purpose: Define what you want to get out of it. This will help to filter out the unsuitable networking events or environments. Set a goal like how many people are you going to speak to, or how many business cards to collect. Prepare your positioning statement.

2) Research background details about the networking occasion: Who are the hosts? Who are the sponsors? What is the main theme of the event? Who are the guests? Who are the main speakers?

3) Have a few “conversation starter” lines:
a) Compliment other person’s fashion sense
b) Talk about the latest development or trend with reference to the networking event
c) “What brings you here concerning [event theme]?”
d) “Let me guess: you’re here because…”
e) Quote something from the news because it’s current.
f) Straightforward approach: Step up to someone who is not deep in conversation and offer a warm smile and a handshake. I say my name and business and ask them to share what they do. I completely focus on what they say because I have found this to be the best ice breaker. Listening and asking clarifying questions helps that person to know that you are really intrigued, not just getting past the formalities to promote your own services. They will typically warm up to you much more quickly.

During:

1) The conversation is always about the other person.

2) If you want to show yourself as helpful, try to steer the conversation in a direction where the person begins to reveal a challenge, so you can offer a useful tip and tell him you will follow-up further after the event.

3) Even if the conversation is not going in a way you’d prefer, try to be interested and always look forward to the possibility of discovering new things or ideas from what the other person says.

4) Find common ground or interest.

5) Know when to exit thoughtfully. Say, “I really enjoyed talking to you about today’s meeting. I have your card and I’ll be in touch with you this week so we can discuss it further.”

After:

1) Send a quick follow-up e-mail: Something like, “It was so nice to meet you at the Chamber of Commerce event last night! Best of luck with your son’s baseball championship this weekend!”

If you’d like to have a follow-up, you can say that as well, just add, “We started to talk about the synergies we have in our prospecting and I’d love to continue that conversation. How does your schedule look next Thursday to grab coffee or lunch?” If some people make a strong case for follow-up, call them instead.

But the first line will buy you some time so you can think through a more thorough follow-up statement.

2) Try to search for the person’s name in LinkedIn and connect. Later impress them with well wishes on their birthdays and work anniversaries.

3) Send a re-connect e-mail: After 3 weeks or longer, reach out to catch up, maybe set up another meeting, or send something that might be valuable, like an invite to another event, a great article or an introduction. Include some information about how you met and what you’ve discussed in the notes.

Bonus tips:

1) Buy yourself a new dress or a new business shirt and pair of pants. Polish your shoes. Your new set of clothes projects a certain freshness or crispness to your demeanour, and you will immediately stand out in the crowd.

2) Be mindful of your posture and step up your energy level.

The key to successful networking is to remember that you’re working on building real, deep relationships with your professional contacts.

Your network won’t do you any good if it’s full of people who you don’t know very well; cultivating both the depth and width of your network is extremely important.

“Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting,” says Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and Chairman of Business Network International. “It’s not just about who you know—it’s about how well you know them.”

Are you ready to go out, network and meet new friends? Enjoy the finger food too!

What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition?

What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition

One of the biggest issues any business would face is its unique position in the market. If you’ve not got a unique position, then you’ll find that you’ve got nowhere to “stand out” of the crowd throughout your promotion.

USPs were originally defined as a position a company took to make them stand out from their competitors and make the customers of said competitors switch to them. It works as an understandable and tangible reason for people to buy your product, over that of other competing products, or as a benefit that your competitors don’t offer.

For example, a bank in the UK can be promoting itself based on these propositions:

1) All call centers are in the UK—so no one is dealing with crackly lines, or broken English due to the call centers being based in a lower-cost area of the world.

2) It has no middlemen—which means there’s no commissions to pay to anyone.

3) It has no shareholders, so it does not charge money for things that should be free.

That’s the USP for that bank and it has resulted in many people switching to it.

The USP is anything that makes you ‘different’ from your peers. The only caveat to this is to make sure it’s a clear difference—anything unclear, or too technical may not work, or be completely overlooked by your customers, thereby creating no reason for them to switch to you or choose you over your competitors.

Your unique selling proposition is a clearly defined statement of what your business stands for—what makes it special apart from others, and is your key to monopolizing a stake in your customers’ mind. If you have not thought of a USP before, why not think through all the departments of your business e.g. finance, accounting, human resources, sales and marketing, pre- and post-sales support etc. and discover if there’s anything outstanding enough to be worth telling your customers about it? Just don’t be shy about promoting it.

Say, your USP could be your customer service position, whether it has to do with your response time, or your guarantee. But if your rivals are also competing on response time, one strategy is to flesh out a true instance or circumstance as a case study for prospects to refer to. By this method you’re telling the story of how Mrs. Smith became very relieved that fast response time had saved her husband’s life and therefore became a high-profile testimony for the hospital. People love inspiring stories because they are what make incidents sound special and unique. This would be your USP angle.

Ultimately, having a USP is nothing more than a matter of positioning perspectives. How do you want your business to be viewed by your prospects compared to others? It certainly helps that each individual’s needs are already different. All you can do to the best of your abilities is to craft that position to match their needs, thereby gaining a competitive edge over other merchants/vendors. Thereafter, everything you do to reinforce the USP is to instill confidence in the prospects that your proposed solutions will work out. You will have to be fluid and flexible in your approach to reconcile with a wide range of different needs and yet align your corporate values with the common points shared by these needs in order to serve well and consistently in the business.

4 Major Steps On Getting Sales Without Selling Out

1. Spend More Time Listening Than Talking

keep calm and use active listening

Get to know your prospects by asking a lot of questions. This way, you truly learn what this person really needs help on. The more you listen, the better you are positioned to respond. It is simply part of Client Relationship 101. Understanding each other is the key to an effective working relationship.

value vs price

Refrain from discussing rates over the phone or meetings until the near closing stage. Give them a range only if you feel that it will help the prospect make a decision. Most client meetings or phone calls are of limited time, therefore try to maximize the communication by figuring out how you can deliver as much value as possible, and how the conversation will be more about the challenge rather than about you. Once you have built a mutual understanding of how things can be done, you may then follow up with a detailed rate card for evaluation and perhaps a feedback too.

The most important thing is to have healthy business relationships with happy clients. And to be able to provide good service that benefits your clients, spend less time thinking about how much earnings can be made and focus more on the delivery of expected results.

3. Turn Away Business

smiley face

Would you rather have 20 “just satisfied” clients than having half the number of ‘happy’ ones? The strong source of revenue of most successful businesses come from repeat customers.

Try not to pressure yourself to sell when you enter a conference or events. Focus on creating and building new relationships instead. This mindset will put you in a position that engages on objective conversations. Give your prospects the feeling of confidence in you by sharing the best possible information with them, even if you end up recommending an alternate solution or other service providers to them. If they want to work with someone else, it’s okay. At the end of the day, what matters most is that the people you talked to will succeed. Be equally excited being a referral engine for your peers (even if they are competitors), this will build up your reputation as a businessman/consultant. Good things will come back ten-folds.

4. Create An Inbound Marketing System

inbound marketing

If you are not very good in cold pitching, it doesn’t mean you can’t do business or get sales/clients. Build a system that generates targeted leads almost effortlessly. The principle of Inbound Marketing* is based on over-delivering information of ‘freemium’ value to create a great impression, thereby warming cold visitors to look up to you as an authority of your expertise and to want to learn more about you as a person and your better offers.

The current, more acceptable trend in marketing communications is leaning towards dialogue rather than sales talk. It may take months or years to master the skill of business conversation but when you care to invest in objective conversations with the prospects you meet, soon enough you are going to reap what you sow.

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, Social Media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.

How To Create Urgency So People Buy Now!

Buy Now

You must create urgency so people will buy your products or services now. They may not revisit your website or see your ad again.

How do you do this? You use a limited time offer. Limited time offers stop people from putting off buying your products or services. It stops them from procrastinating.

There are many different types of limited time offers. Here are a few:

1) Limited Time Price Offers: For example, Order Now! While the price is still low. After Oct. 23rd, 2014 this price will go up to…

2) Limited Time Discount Offers: For example, Order before Midnight, Oct. 23rd, 2014 and you will get 25% discount!

3) Limited Time Free Bonus Offers: For example, Order before Oct. 23rd, 2014 and you’ll get a free bonus!

4) Limited Time In-Stock Offers: For example, Order Now while supplies last! After Oct. 23rd, 2014 we can’t guarantee we will have any left in stock.

I’m not saying everyone will order the first time they see your ad. They may not be interested in your products or services. It depends on your ad and the person reading the ad. If they are interested, usually, limited time offers will make them buy now.

Discover The 6 Communication Tips For Building A Smarketing Culture

One of the key tenets of close collaboration between the Marketing and Sales teams is effective communication. Typically, Sales complains that Marketing isn’t generating enough quality leads, and Marketing criticizes Sales for not working their leads hard enough. But if both teams can mutually “seek to understand first before being understood”, a lot of such bickering can be minimized. What substitute in its place are constructive feedback on how things can be done better and purpose-driven discussions on finding new ways and methods to increase leads, sales and revenue.

Given its large size, no company is perfect. Smaller companies are more nimble whereby a few key personnel can get together on schedule or impromptu to discuss marketing and sales status updates. But in large companies, it will take better organization sense to align marketing and sales teams towards common goals.

Typically, to have better organization, ground rules have to be set so that more personnel can be properly involved. These 6 communication tips for building a Smarketing culture should get your teams started working towards synergy.

meetings

1. Have regular meetings

Meetings! Not a few people in the corporate world hate these “time-wasting sessions”. They drain you out, leave you with insufficient time to do actual work and worst of all, the agenda seems to be going nowhere! The problem with meetings has as much to do with the quality as the quantity. So if you feel that the number of meetings in a work week does not seem to galvanize business development, perhaps it’s time to consider what truly important issues should take the bulk of meeting times.

HubSpot, the company that introduces the world Inbound Marketing, has its own unique way of running effective meetings. First of all, the staff modeled themselves internally as a marketing and sales organization, therefore revenue generation matters take precedence in meetings. This narrows the scope of discussion.

At first, meetings were carried out weekly for 30-60 minutes. As the company expanded, the content got too much and monthly meetings were arranged to review targets, results, improvement measures and future plans. A smaller number of staff working as teams still meet weekly. Significantly, HubSpot staff expectedly know what to report or share, with marketers informing salespeople what they have been doing and vice versa. Meetings become more productive, do not drag on, and the lines of communication open up.

salesmarketing

2. Multi-layer relationships between Marketing and Sales

Another rule-of-thumb of the corporate world is the acknowledgement of vice-presidents and above as decision-makers. The problem is less senior staff tend to defer issues upwards and wait for further instructions. This results in operation-level delays and bottlenecks.

On the other hand, it is recommended that:

* Marketing VPs speak to Sales VPs
* Marketing managers speak to Sales managers
* Marketing rep speak Sales reps

By empowering staff at all levels to solve their own cross-departmental problems at the source, they can build stronger relationships with one another and function more like a single team.

handshake

3. Have Marketing and Sales staff sit together

Traditionally, various departments of a corporation are distinctively and separately situated for reasons of internal culture or protocol. HubSpot took the unusual decision to mix up marketing and sales staff’s desks so that both sides have the benefit of seeing first-hand if the marketing activities are actually helping sales or not. Sales also can better understand the type of leads they are getting. Two-way communication is also instant in day-to-day work. Gaining spot-on awareness and understanding of marketing and sales work and the results reaped has helped the staff to become productive and happier.

Today, technological startups and million-dollar dotcom companies like Alibaba are seen to operate in a lean, “open concept” fashion with staff doing away with partitions. Could this signify the doing away of organization hierarchy, operation-wise, in the 21st century?

feedback

4. Provide many types of feedback

Feedback does not only happen in weekly and monthly meetings. Feedback can be solicited and exchanged between Marketing and Sales in the following areas on a regular basis:

* The quality of the leads
* The effectiveness of tools, resources and methods
* Relationship with colleagues
* Leads feedback from follow-up
* Demo feedback from prospects
* Performance of each marketer and sales rep

Having a strong feedback culture empowers staff to have a say in overall improvement and decision-making. Final decisions and actions taken may not be agreeable to everyone, but regular feedback builds trust and paves the way for successful marketing and sales communication.

terminology

5. Agree on terminology

For communication to flourish, it is crucial for both Marketing and Sales to speak the same lingo. Terms like “lead” or “conversion rate” must be clearly defined so both teams know what kind of persona is the target and what results to aim for. Thereafter, responsibilities and goals are mutually understood and accounted for in regular meetings.

proof

6. Demonstrate proof of data

To HubSpot staff, statistical data is the “sword of truth”. It is pointless to critique performance without showing supporting data. There is always a reason why conversion rate is poor or why there is a high number of unsubscriptions. Such data is the main driver for performance review and it provides an opportunity to filter out non-performing marketing and sales strategies. No staff can say anything based on a hunch. Data eliminates heresay, removes emotions and focuses the teams on the real challenges.

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, social media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.

6 Hallmarks Of A Powerful Smarketing Relationship

Marketing and Sales teams may seem like strange bedfellows: having distinctively different roles but can’t do without each other, but the truth is both teams are mutually dependent and marketers and salespeople can integrate their work and culture seamlessly together.

Any perceived barriers between Marketing and Sales that arise is a result of inaction on the part of department heads to lead the initiative of understanding each other’s work. It takes time and effort, but the benefits are tangible. HubSpot had stated that “organizations with good alignment between sales and marketing teams achieve 20% more revenue growth on average annually.”

With the larger picture of revenue increase in mind, we present 6 strategies you can apply to foster a Smarketing relationship that works.

bullhorn

1. Communicate!

Yup, it all starts with talking to each other first. Communication is the building block to trust and teamwork and ensuring that both teams know what common goals to work towards. When messages become clear internally, they will be similarly conveyed externally to prospects and customers, thereby making them happy and benefiting all sides.

For a start, Marketing and Sales can arrange flexible networking sessions to get acquainted with each other. At a later time, they can conduct weekly or monthly meetings to talk strategies and review targets. Effective communication helps both teams understand how they can improve and reach their goals in tandem and as separate departments.

One innovative initiative is to get both sides of personnel to form small teams to compete against one another and reward the best performers.

teamwork

2. Set common goals.

Goal-setting has to be one of the key agendas of meetings between Marketing and Sales. When goals are clearly defined, with real and attainable numbers, within a set period of time, both teams will know what the goals are and come together to determine the best course of action to work towards them.

Having goals also promotes transparency and makes the post-analysis part easier. If targets are missed, either side can report and tally actual results against targets, learn from mistakes and find ways to improve the end-to-end lead generation, nurturing and conversion process, therefore it is a very good way to keep Marketing and Sales aligned together.

The goals can be included in an SLA (see point 6).

buyer personas

3. Collaborate to design an agreeable buyer persona.

One of the most prevalent cause of friction between Marketing and Sales is the poor quality of leads. While Marketing may accuse Sales of not doing enough to convert the leads well, Sales in turn would accuse Marketing for not generating the best type of leads.

To mitigate this problem, both sides must take some time to come together to define and review their buyer personas according to the personas’ pain points, aspirations and compelling key messages that will attract them to your business.

Consider questions like:

* Where do quality leads come from?
* What are they looking for?
* What topics interest them?

More questions can be found in this blog post: Discover 5 Powerful Methods For Designing Your Buyer Persona

fresh content

4. Determine the content that actually drives and converts leads into sales.

Within Inbound Marketing* context, content is the marketers’ most valuable asset, and is the key to attracting and nurturing new visitors. Of course, the quality and relevancy of content creation must be constantly reviewed and tweaked to cater to the desired buyer persona.

How would marketers know certain content needs to be tweaked accordingly? By talking to salespeople! They are the ones who will provide direct feedback right from the source: the leads. They are the ones speaking with the leads on a daily basis, so they will know if the leads have already formed a mental picture of how the company can offer the right solutions to help them. If there is a prolonged mismatch of expectations over a number of face-to-face consultations, it becomes obvious that the leads are not properly qualified, thus marketers need the necessary feedback to fine-tune the content or lead nurturing process.

data sharing

5. Seamless data sharing via software

Ideally, the best way to generate and analyze marketing and sales data is to integrate the software that each team uses so there is a seamless handoff of leads and shared data. The more visibility each team has into the other’s activities, the more that you will not only strengthen the Smarketing relationship, but also help keep overall efforts aligned.

Sales can see how leads are generated through which effective channels and therefore contribute more ideas for lead generation and improvement which Marketing may not thought of.

On the other hand, Marketing can see the conversion results of the leads handed to Sales so marketers can seek improvement in lead generation or the buying process.

sla

6. Develop a Service-Level Agreement (SLA)

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between your marketing and sales team which clearly states what each team is responsible for and the numbers they need to hit to meet the overall goals. Both teams contribute individual goals, and together, you’re able to track how your Smarketing team is performing. It alleviates tension, breaks barriers and promotes the collaboration necessary for this relationship to function harmoniously.

Essentially, these are the types of things to be stated in an SLA for each team:

Marketing Team

  • Total sales goal in terms of revenue quota
  • % revenue that comes from marketing- vs. sales-generated leads
  • Average sales deal size
  • Average lead to customer close %

Sales Teams

  • The speed of follow-up for marketing-generated leads
  • The depth of follow-up for marketing-generated leads

As time goes, the SLA needs to be continually monitored, adjusted and reported back on. An SLA helps both teams to see the value that each department brings to the table. They can see how each team is contributing and will be more willing to work together to achieve those goals.

With these 6 hallmarks in mind, think of how powerful your business could become if you embraced and integrated a unified marketing and sales team! A successful company collaborates and works together as an entire team.

Sure, you may have separate roles and departments, but ultimately you have one goal: to produce real business results. When the expertise of both Marketing and Sales teams align, the potential is endless.

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, social media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.

Discover 5 Powerful Methods For Designing Your Buyer Persona

One of the biggest mistakes that causes businesses to fail is the merchants ultimately failing to meet the demands and expectations of customers. In other words, the merchants do not know who their customers are. Even if they have great products or services, if they fail to align what they offer with what their customers want, they are simply barking up the wrong tree.

No customers, no business, no sales. It is as simple as that. Therefore it is important to define the type of prospects to target. Instead of spending important advertising dollars on drawing in the wrong set of prospects, construct a customer profile based on the majority of your customers and concentrated around their needs and wants. By creating a buyer persona and nailing down your customers’ needs, lifestyles and even apprehensions, you will have the capacity to think of a ready answer to address your customers’ challenges. By placing ourselves in the shoes of our prospects, we can better pre-empt their purchasing decision.

There are 5 ways you can research your buyer persona:

1) Online Retrieval Of Demographics Data

The process is pretty instantaneous and all you need to do is input product keywords or URLs of other people’s websites that are similar to your business (or your competitors’) into AdWords Display Planner. These are the steps:

a) Go to adwords.google.com
b) Click “Tools”, “Display Planner”
c) Select “Show only estimates for my targeting criteria”.
d) Enter a URL or product keyword
e) Click “Get estimates”.

You get a results display that looks like below:

planner

But as you can see, the data is very limited to age, gender and device usage.

Alexa is another website that can provide demographics intelligence but unless you upgrade, you are just as much limited to gender, education and browsing location data.

focus group

2) Interview Your Prospects And Customers (Pre-Sales)

This is surely one of the most effective way to get a sense of the majority demographic of your customers, but you need to ask the right questions. Here is a sample list:

How old are they?
What is their gender?
Where do they live?
What is their job?
What is their education level?
How do they prefer to stay contactable?
What is their ethnic background?
How much do they earn?
What is their marital status?
How do they spend their free time?
Which newspaper, books or magazines do they read?
What is their favorite TV channel?
What are their hopes and dreams?
What do they wear?
What are their political and religious views?
What are their biggest fears? What keeps them awake at 3am?
What makes them happy?
What frustrates them?
What do they find most relaxing?
What do they talk about with their friends?
Which appeals to them more: function or aesthetic?
What are their hobbies or interests?
What are their attitudes towards certain issues?

You can organize focus groups, walk-in sessions, on-site visits, or make phone calls to conduct interviews. You can also publish the questions in a web page through which visitors can submit their answers collated in an email sent to you.

survey

3) Surveys (Post-Sales)

Conduct surveys to get feedback from customers about their purchases. It could be an immediate, short post-sales survey about the checkout experience, or a survey that occurs one month after purchase to gauge user experience. The answers your customers give you can reveal much about how and what they think, and could be surprisingly quite apart from pre-sales answers in terms of scope or alignment. Sometimes customers may use the occasion to inquire about other products/services. All these information can make you consider if the major customer demographic is thinking along the same line, and whether you need to tweak your marketing strategies based on the survey answers.

Popular online survey tools include Foresee, Qualaroo, SurveyMonkey and WebEngage.

past purchase

4) Look At Past Purchases

Supposed you have a range of products or services. Over a period of time, it becomes apparent to you that some offers sell better than others. Your sales results can tell you what the marketplace needs most, therefore you can reconsider your marketing strategies to target the most in-demand customer segment of the marketplace.

smengagement

5) Social Media Engagement

Social media puts you on the frontline of direct communication with prospects and customers. By monitoring and observing what they say about your industry and products/services, you gain first-hand insights into their expectations. It is also a great time to resolve any issues or complaints that they may have. Doing so in a prompt manner not only reflects that there is real customer support that cares, but also your pursuit towards customer satisfaction.

Also investigate online forums and Q&A sites like Quora. These sites are great resources for problem solving. By researching for solutions, you can better understand how to help your own prospects and position your products/services in a way that shows you really know your customers’ problems.

Customer research is a long-drawn process and it is never-ending because the marketplace keeps changing. However, the benefits of targeting the right customers are enormous. For one thing, repeat sales from old-time customers are easy to get. A high level of customer loyalty exists because your ability to know customers inside out will make them feel they are well attended to. They will even evangelize and refer new customers to you, thereby exponentially growing your business.

Good business does not start with a great product or service, or great know-how or a high efficiency in daily operations. It is simply knowing your customers like they are your friends, and it is a great untold secret to sales riches.

How To Review Metrics To Increase Leads And Sales For Your Marketing Campaigns

How To Review Metrics To Increase Leads And Sales

Tracking performance data via analytics is an integral aspect of marketing campaigns, but most marketers in Singapore are not well versed in it, even underestimate its importance. Testing and tracking can help marketers know where they have fallen short in their marketing strategies so they can improve on these areas, and maintain what they have been doing well.

With so many analytical measurements like traffic volume, lead conversion, email open rate and click-through rate, social media reach etc., it can be daunting to understand what numbers are relevant to campaign performance.

After reading today’s article, you will be know how to use analytics to identify the data you need to examine, based on several different scenarios that you may face.

Scenario #1: You need brand awareness

Analytics helps you to identify things like whether people recognise your company and its logo, what they know about your company, and what they think about when they hear your brand’s name.

Look at traffic. Look at where your traffic is coming from to figure out which marketing channels are the most successful. This way, you can tailor your marketing efforts in the future to leverage the most effective marketing channels. Additionally, look at how much direct traffic goes to your website—this represents the people who already know about your company and are visiting as a result. Reviewing the changes in these metrics over time will give you an idea of your brand’s presence.

Look at search engine rankings. As your company gains more awareness, important keywords will begin to have higher search engine rankings. If you’re focused on branding, however, you should look for improvement in traffic that is driven from brand-specific terms in particular. Create your content around the keywords that you want to rank higher on search engines and drive greater volumes of traffic to your website.

Look at social media reach. The size of your following can be an indicator of brand awareness. Additionally, take a look at how engaged your following is; for example, how much your content is liked/favourited and shared/retweeted.

Scenario #2: You need a bigger database

After having amassed a large following and established heavy traffic to your site, the next step would be to do something with these followers and viewers—by converting them into opt-in leads. Database growth is important for good sales, so take a look at these metrics to help you grow it.

Look at blog visits. If your website traffic continues to grow each day, this could be a good indicator that your lead generation will also continue to grow. However, if it is starting to or has already begun to plateau, you’ll need to take a look at your content and SEO, and how you can drive more traffic to your blog.

Look at social media reach. Similarly, your social media platforms are an opportunity for lead generation, and so if your social media reach has stagnated, it’s unlikely that you’ll get new leads anytime soon. To remedy this, consider starting new discussions on different channels, and try promoting your interesting content more frequently.

Look at landing page traffic and conversions. Check your landing page analytics to see if your site traffic is actually going to your landing pages, since that is where leads are generated. Look at which channels are bringing you the most landing page traffic and further optimise those channels to bring even more traffic and henceforth, leads.

Scenario #3: You need more leads to convert to customers

Look at lead-to-customer conversion rates. Review your lead-nurturing processes, like which workflows have low engagement rates. Is it because of the low quality of the content, or the call-to-action is not strong or convincing enough? By identifying underperforming workflows and optimising them, you can help move more customers further down the funnel.

What Are Buyer Personas?

What Are Buyer Personas?

In Inbound Marketing*, it is important for your landing page to not just be found by people, but by the right people. By this, I mean the people most likely to become sales leads. Your buyer personas are a personalization of your ideal customers to build your business around.

For example, if you were in charge of marketing for a tour company, you would have to cater to several types of buyer personas such as: adventurous backpackers, vacationing families, newlywed couples, travelling retirees etc. These would be your buyer personas as they would be your most ideal customers you would like to reach out to. How you market your product towards each buyer persona will differ to meet their respective needs.

Identifying and catering to your buyer persona can be done through 3 steps:

1) Interviewing
2) Profiling
3) Marketing

Interviewing

If you have identified certain types of people as your buyer personas, select a large enough sample size for you to interview. Ask your buyers a series of broad, open-ended questions so that you can get a better idea of who they are, so that you can better market your product to them.

Profiling

Once you have gathered enough information on each buyer type, create a profile for it by personifying the collective attributes of the particular type of buyers. This includes giving them a name and an image. For instance, if you are marketing for a tour company, you may have a profile known as ‘Family Man Fred’ for the man travelling with his family. This helps the marketer to have a clearer direction of whom they are marketing the product to, This can be very useful in Inbound Marketing, which revolves around the consumer.

Marketing

Now that you have identified your buyer personas, you are able to better understand your products from the buyers’ perspective, as you are aware of their needs and interests. Before undergoing a campaign, ask yourself what your particular buyer persona would think about it, and evaluate it from there. The profiling of buyers allows marketing strategies to be better planned around these people.

Inbound marketing is planned around the buyers themselves, and has a greater level of interaction between the marketers and the people they are marketing to as compared to traditional, outbound marketing, which merely talks about products. Hence, buyer personas are a vital component of inbound marketing campaigns.

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, Social Media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.

Will Companies Using Only Traditional Marketing Fall Behind?

Will Companies Using Only Traditional Marketing Fall Behind?The companies in this world of technology are showing drastic changes in remodeling their marketing strategies. Before the Internet was born in the 1990s, outbound marketing, or traditional marketing, was holding its flags high in promoting the products to the customers, but the Internet has brought in remarkable changes to the marketing landscape with Inbound Marketing* becoming popular among the companies. At present, according to research done by HubSpot’s 2013 State of Inbound Marketing, 60% of companies have adopted some element of the Inbound Marketing methodology into their overall strategy (read more about the difference between traditional marketing and Inbound Marketing).

Companies are taking wide steps in analyzing the needs and wants of the population to build a stronger relationship. Besides this, companies are adopting a pull rather than push marketing strategy to promote their products in a better way possible to reach the targeted customers in a short period of time. These are the things that can be done by Inbound Marketing and not Traditional Marketing.

Not to say that Traditional Marketing is dead. Evidently, we can still see outbound marketing being used around us, and companies are using it for various reasons as listed below.

  1. Quick Return on Investment (ROI) and test of nurture sequence
  2. Low ongoing content creation costs/time
  3. Potentially greater control over targeting
  4. Direct leads to landing pages of your choice
  5. Reaches a large number of people
  6. Familiarity of the media: Television, Newspaper, etc.

Television and print advertisements are everywhere and are constantly being seen. They have been around for a long time and people are familiar with them compared to some of the newer and more technologically reliant ways of consuming inbound content. A huge chunk of potential customers may not be looking at blogs or e-books for answers and could be relying on a strong outbound message to alert them to your product.

But as consumers of the 21st century continue to customize their information channels, it becomes more feasible to combine outbound with Inbound for a better marketing strategy. For example, emailing is usually considered an outbound strategy, but if the email were to contain relevant content that answered a customer’s questions, it would be a good blend of the two. A social media strategy using something like promotional tweets that linked to the content on your site could also be a good strategy that integrates the two strategies. The important thing to remember is that it needs to provide value to the customer in some way. Make sure that the content is relevant and useful, just as your inbound strategy is and they will work well together. If you don’t have an inbound strategy in place however, now is a great time to do so.

Instead carrying the perception that Inbound Marketing and Traditional Marketing cannot coexist, look at them as complements helping each other reach a common goal.

* Inbound marketing is a form of digital marketing that involves SEO, social media, blog and landing pages to generate sales leads.