Focus On Your Customers

June 10, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Instilling calmYour customers are the most important part of your business. Without them, you wouldn’t be there. Understanding what they want is key to creating and growing a healthy business. And happy repeat customers spend on average 30% more than new clients and are more likely to refer new business to you. So make sure that a key part of your business plan and day to day operations is focused on building relationships with your existing customers. Here are some key areas to consider when focusing on your customers.

Communication is Key

Your customers are interacting with you and your business every day, both in person and online. Make sure you spend some time getting to know them and that every interaction with your business is a positive one. Communicate with them when and where they want, whether it’s a quick tweet or a more detailed newsletter. Consider segmenting your email list in order to customize the communications they receive. Ask them how you’re doing and what they would like to see in the future. And then, act on their feedback.

Be responsive

We want to feel like someone is listening and that our opinions and ideas have value. So take the time to listen to your customers and to be responsive when they reach out to you with a question or problem. Sometimes the perfect solution to a problem or challenge you are having in your business will come from one of your regular customers. If a customer reaches out to you make sure you respond to them in a timely manner. And if a customer has a complaint, make sure you handle it quickly and efficiently. An upset customer who has been turned into a satisfied one is one of your greatest assets.

Reward them for their loyalty

Loyal and happy customers are your greatest resource for generating revenue and also for referring new business to you. So implement a plan to reward them for their loyalty. Whether it is a rewards program that provides incentives for their continued business or a referral program that rewards them for sending friends and family your way, having some sort of loyalty system in place will make your customers feel valued.
Your customers are key to the health and growth of your business. So make sure that a focus on them is one of the foundations of your business. Make them feel like part of the family with every interaction and they’ll remain loyal customers for years to come.

Why You Should Segment Your Email List

June 3, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

creative design business as pencil lightbulb 3d as business desiYour customers are not all the same. They have different buying habits, different service preferences, and even different ideas on where and when they want to hear from you. Communicating with your customers based on their preferences allows you to deliver a much more personal message tailored just for them. It can lead to higher open rates on email communications. And when your clients feel like they are getting individual attention and service, it can also lead to increased sales and higher engagement levels. And this is where segmentation comes in. Segmentation is the division of your overall customer list into distinct smaller groups.

What are some benefits of segmenting your email marketing list?

Segmentation allows you to target your message.

Your customers want to feel like you are speaking directly to them about things they find interesting and relevant. Segmenting your email list allows you to be more focused in your messages, and send messages your customers are interested in reading.

Segmentation is a great way to increase sale.

Segmenting your email list means that you’re only sending your customers offers and information that they are truly interested in, but that those customers are more likely to click through and make a purchase. By creating a higher level of engagement, you are generating an increased level of interaction and higher overall sales for no larger investment than regular email marketing.

Segmentation allows you to track your sales.

By segmenting your list and targeting your clients based on their preferences and habits, you will be better able to closely track where your sales come from. By customizing offers and providing unique codes for each group you email, you’ll be able to go back and take a look at what sorts of offers are the most successful and where the bulk of your sales are coming from.

Segmentation allows you to more effectively reward your clients.

You want to reward your clients for supporting your business. But you don’t want to reward them all in the same way. Segmentation allows you to customize your rewards program to match different groups of your client base and their wants and needs.

But how should you segment?

There are several different segments to think about when creating your marketing lists. Consider some of the following groups.

  • Buyer Behavior – group your clients based on what they services they typically purchase from your company.
  • Last Interaction – group your clients based on their last interaction with your company, including what previous service they had, or what social or email platform they last used.
  • Influence Levels – VIP clients or those who have influence in your market.

Once you’ve figured out how you want to segment your list, you can do the segmentation in several different ways. To streamline the process, capture the information you need to segment your list during the email signup process. For groups where you want full control over who gets assigned, make that part of the segmentation process a manual one that takes place behind the scenes. Then you can easily assign clients to the appropriate lists based on their profile.

Your customers aren’t all the same. So make sure your marketing isn’t either. Segmentation allows you to customize your marketing and provides you with valuable tools for evaluating what is working and what you should change moving forward. It’s an effective tool for growing your business and keeping your customers engaged and satisfied.

3 Keys to Build a Strong Online Community

May 19, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Last time, we talked about mistakes you might be making in your online communities. Today, the discussion continues with tips on building a stronger online community.

Data Research BackgroundMost of us are good at building a community. We have groups of family and friends who we interact with on a regular basis, spend time with, and gather together for celebrations and other events. We have strong relationships within our real life communities and they create a space for us to live and grow authentic lives. A strong online community can create the same thing for your brand and your business.

But how do you build a strong community online? We all know that establishing and building relationships with our clients is the best way to strengthen and grow our business. We just don’t always know the best way to go about it.

Here are three keys to building a healthy online community.

Be Consistent

People thrive on consistency. If they’re going to follow you on social media, or read your blog, then give them something to follow and something to read. Post regularly rather than sporadically. Posting consistently creates anticipation and allows your followers to make you part of their regular routine. So create a posting schedule and then stick to it.

Provide Valuable Content

You’ve gotten people to follow you online. That’s the easy part. The hard part is keeping them interested and engaged. Providing good content that is valuable to them is the key to keeping them interested. You also want to make sure the content is relevant to your brand, whether it is an “Ask the Expert” series or sharing content that is interesting for your readers and has a tie-in to your field. Also, keep in mind that valuable content does not include sales pitches or ads for promotions. You are asking your followers to make you part of their routine. Making sure you provide content that is valuable and relevant is key to getting and keeping your online community happy.

Listen to Your Community

Not sure what to post or whether your posts are effective? Listen to your community. Ask them what they’d like to see or where they want the conversation to go. Take a look at engagement rates and things like click thru rates, shares, likes, and comments. They’ll tell you what is working and what is not working. By listening to your community and allowing them to drive discussions online, you’ll have a much better idea of what new services you need to consider offering, or what direction you should be taking your business offline.

The important thing in building a community is the interaction between you and your followers. Interaction is key, because otherwise you just have an audience whom you are speaking to rather than a community you are communicating with. By taking the time and effort to focus on building those relationships online, you’ll start to see positive results in business growth overall.

4 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Social Media Community

May 12, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

47351-You’ve done what you’re supposed to do. You have accounts on Facebook and Twitter. But having a social media presence is not the same as building a healthy social media community. Here are some mistakes you’re probably making, and how to turn them around.

Assuming that just having an account is enough

You’ve set up a Facebook page and you have a Twitter feed. There are links to them on your website. But that’s not enough. You need to post regularly, engage your followers, and make it a valuable experience. Nobody is going to want to follow you if you never post anything or, even worse, only post sales and promotions. Building an online community requires time and effort, and people who understand how to create interaction and foster the right kinds of conversations. Everyone has a Facebook page these days. You need to create a more valuable experience for your followers.

Valuing follower numbers over engagement numbers

Many of us assume that large, or growing, follower numbers are an indication of positive growth. But it doesn’t really matter how many followers you have if none of them are interacting. Engagement numbers are a much more powerful indicator of how successful your social media strategy is. Instead of paying attention to how many followers you’ve gained this week, dig a bit deeper and determine how many engagements (click thru rates, likes, shares, or comments) you’re receiving. That is a much truer indicator of how successful and effective your social media community is.

Not engaging with your followers

You are building an online community, and that means that you need to create and foster conversations on your social media feeds. So post regularly. Provide valuable information. Create conversations. And then continue to participate in them. If a follower posts a comment or engages with one of your posts, respond to them. A community means that everyone participates in an ongoing conversation. So don’t just post and run. Nobody wants to feel deserted or like their opinion is not valued.

Treating your social media as a sales channel

Your online community should be just that – a community. Nobody wants to follow a page that is just one long string of ads and promotions. Can you post information about sales or promotions? Of course! But it should not be the primary focus of your social media content. Focus on fostering community and providing valuable information and you’ll see your sales improve all on their own.

Studies show that one of the top things consumers are doing on their mobile devices is engaging in social media. It’s one of the most powerful tools in your marketing arsenal. Make sure you’re doing it right and you’ll see it pay off in increased sales and business growth.

Next time, we’ll continue the discussion with tips on building an even stronger online community.

Creating Customers For Life

April 28, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Embracing calmnessWe all work very hard to bring customers in the doors. But did you know that bringing in new customers costs 5-10% more than retaining the customers you already have? It is definitely worth your time and effort to keep your existing customers happy.

By building on the relationship you have already established with them, you can turn these customers into lifelong customers who will continue to come back to you again and again over the years.

Here are three key things to do when creating customers for life.

Provide stellar customer service

From consistency and quality in the services & products you provide to the attention and service your staff provides to them, every single contact your customers have with your company should be a positive one. So make customer service a top priority with your staff and follow through to make sure that your clients are happy with what they are receiving.

Show your appreciation

Show your customers how much their loyalty means to you and your business. You can do this in lots of different ways, but the two most effective are a simple thank you message (not one tied into a promotion) and a well designed loyalty program that rewards them for doing business with you. Need ideas on setting up a loyalty program? Check out our blog post from last year: Ready to Setup a Rewards Program

Give your customers what they want

Whenever you aren’t sure whether what you’re doing is working or if you should change or do something differently, the best people to ask are your customers.  So go out and get feedback from them. Ask them what they want. Find out from them what you could be doing better or what they think you should change. Really listen to them. Then follow their advice. Make the necessary changes to match their needs and they’ll continue to bring you their business. Never underestimate the value of making someone feel valued.

Creating customers for life is one of the more powerful business strategies you can utilize. Loyal customers positively impact your bottom line in many different ways. They visit you more regularly and spend more money per visit than new customers. And they recommend you to their friends and family, helping you grow your business even more. In every way, loyal customers are more valuable to gain and to keep.

Mobile Marketing Trends In The Spotlight

April 15, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Doing business the modern wayIt seems like these days, everyone is out and about all the time and we are accessing more and more of our information while we’re on the go. Here are a few mobile trends that are important for your business.

Responsive Websites that are optimized for mobile are king

Mobile search is expected to surpass desktop search this year. What does that mean? It means that more people are doing everything online via their phone or tablet rather than their desktop. Mobile interactions could very well be the only interactions you have with your customers (& potential customers). This is becoming so important that Google introduced a new label in its search results, indicating if a site is mobile friendly, meaning it looks good & works well on a mobile device. So you want to make sure your website is responsive and optimized for mobile. An optimized, responsive website could mean the difference between a potential customer finding you on their cell phone, or not.

Location Based Marketing (Geo-targeting) is growing

With so many consumers using their mobiles phones while they’re on the go, Local search is going to continue to grow. Local search allows consumers to search for specific businesses or promotions based on their current location. So, if you and your mobile device are near Central Park in New York City, it will show you businesses and promotions in that area close to you. What does this mean for your business? It means that it is now more important than ever to claim your listings on places such as Google and to make sure that places such as Yelp and Google Maps have your correct address listing and are showing the correct business location on their maps.

Localized Payments are the future

With the rise of mobile comes the rise of localized payments, such as Google Wallet and Apple Pay. The market has already shown that people prefer to make the bulk of their purchases online, quite frequently using their mobile devices. Apple Pay could very well succeed where Google Pay wavered, with the bulk of Apple users already storing their credit card information in their iTunes account, and accustomed to quickly and seamlessly purchasing things without having to reenter that information every time. This year will see a rise in consumers who want to use localized payments to pay for things in store as well, such as using their Apple Pay account to pay for services at your business location. It’s definitely a trend to keep an eye on.

With the rise in mobile usage, and the importance of being able to reach your customers while they are on the go, it’s more important than ever to stay on the cutting edge of technology. These are just a few of the important mobile trends that will continue to grow and impact your business moving forward.

The Importance of Staff Training

April 1, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Portrait of business colleagues holding each other and laughingFew things are more important for the strength and growth of your business than your employees. And devoting time and resources to their professional development is one of the most productive investments a business can make. Unfortunately, we often get so bogged down in the day-to-day running of our businesses and staff training takes a backseat. But staff development just makes good business sense and here’s why.

It increases job satisfaction, which increases productivity.

Staff development and training makes employees feel valued. It shows that you have an interest in their future and in helping them grow within your company. It makes them better equipped to do their jobs and to move into new roles. Studies have shown that happier employees who feel valued by their employer are more productive overall.

It increases loyalty.

Employees who feel valued and like the company is invested in their professional growth are more loyal and less likely to leave for other outside opportunities. That means you can spend more money and attention on improving your business and less on training new hires.

It can save you money.

Staff training is the best possible way for your employees to learn their jobs and develop skills to do them more effectively. Having a professional development program in place can help streamline the training process and, over time it can save you money. Employee retention can also help you save money, as you have to spend less time, money, and effort hiring new staff.

It helps create and foster best practices.

By creating processes and training everyone, you are creating best business practices. Ongoing training helps you to refine and maintain these best business practices. These practices will not only make your staff better at doing their jobs but will also help you streamline your business and set you up for healthy growth.

By taking an interest in your staff and putting programs into place to help them grow professionally, you’re making a huge investment in your business. And it doesn’t even have to be costly or time-consuming. It is as easy as taking an interest in your staff and taking the time to discuss their future goals with them. From there, you can develop the type of training system that will work best for your business and your employees. And that’s a win-win situation.

Why is Content Marketing So Important?

March 17, 2015 Kathy Watts permalink

Group of Multiethnic People Discussing About MarketingEveryone is talking about content marketing these days, and telling you that you should be doing it better and more often. But what is content marketing and why is it so important anyway?

Content marketing is the creation and sharing of valuable content (or media) that is relevant to your target audience in order to attract and keep customers. It could be anything from a blog post on your website to an infographic hanging in your waiting room; or anything from a video demonstrating a popular technique to a Pinterest board you maintain with useful photos/links/information for your clients. The key is that it needs to be valuable to your clients and relevant for their lives and your business’ expertise.

Okay, so now we know what content marketing is. But why is it so important to your business?

Well, you want to be a resource for your clients and potential clients. Providing your readers and followers with valuable content is a great way to establish a relationship with them and set your brand up as an expert resource to look to when they have questions. It allows you to communicate with your clients without always trying to sell something to them.

Benefits of Content Marketing

  1. Content marketing is a great way to build your brand and voice. In order to build your brand and your voice you need to communicate with your clients. Content marketing allows you to establish a relationship with your clients and allow them to get to know your brand and your voice.
  1. Content marketing sets your brand up as an expert resource. By providing content to your readers that is relevant and valuable to them you are setting your brand and business up as an expert resource. Done well, this will eventually mean that people will seek out your brand when they need information or guidance because they trust your brand. It is a great way to build a relationship with both current and future clients.
  1. Content marketing allows you to communicate with your clients outside of selling services to them. You don’t want all of your communications and interactions with clients to be about selling them something. Content marketing allows you to interact with people and establish a relationship with them by sharing information that they find useful. Once you’ve established a relationship with them, they are much more likely to come to you when they’re looking to purchase a service.

 Types of Content to Create & Share

Content needs to be valuable and relevant to your clients. It needs to be something they find useful, interesting, or relevant to things going on in their lives. It should set your brand up as an expert resource for them to turn to. And it should not be selling anything. If you can create content that meets these criteria, then you will be very effective at growing your brand through content marketing.

Content marketing should not just be an afterthought of your marketing strategy. It should be the most important component of your marketing strategy, and should touch all other aspects of your strategy, from social media and blog posting to marketing and promotions. Done well, it is the most effective means to grow your business.