StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Reasons to Have a Newsletter

Although social media marketing is having its moment in the spotlight right now, email marketing is still very much a relevant and a powerful tool for your business to utilise. One way you can really take advantage of email marketing is via a newsletter, something which appears to be a dying trend.

When you consider just how many of us use email and have access to it around-the-clock through our smartphones, you start to see the raw potential of properly using email marketing to reach your customers and subscribers. Although you may be sitting on the fence, unsure whether or not to create a newsletter, we recommend that you just go ahead and do it – you have nothing to lose and it is really something that can pay off.

If you are unsure how to create a newsletter, there are plenty of guides available online which can help you from beginning to end, regardless of your skill level or experience. Creating a newsletter is very simple and you can have one ready to go in virtually no time. If you are still unsure, read on to learn just how beneficial a newsletter can be for your business or brand.

#1: Newsletters Drive Conversions & Sales

It’s very easy to understand just how email marketing and newsletters are effective when it comes to driving up sales. When a subscriber opens one of your emails, you have a golden opportunity to make the sale right there and then — you already have the recipient’s attention and you need to take advantage of this moment to describe the product or service, explain its benefits, and entice them to make a purchase.

As we all know too well, human beings are impulsive creatures and by including incentives such as a coupon, promotion or special offer in a newsletter, you can easily convince somebody to make a purchase. If statistics are anything to go by – where 7 in 10 adults make use of a coupon or discount from a marketing email or where over 40% of email recipients make at least one purchase per year based on an email – there is no doubt that newsletters can have a dramatic impact on your sales.

#2: Newsletters Create Connections

Although you may not believe so, consumers actually want to receive promotional emails from their favourite brands; many consumers go out of their way to sign up for promotional emails. By creating a newsletter which is interesting and engaging, you enable your subscribers to connect with your brand or business on a personal level.

Email marketing and newsletters are about more than just making sales, they are about providing value and utility beyond sales and profits by sending customers interesting, well-thought-out email newsletters with which they can resonate. By building bridges and connections with your customers, you establish brand loyalty, something which, in the long-term, can spur growth.

At the end of the day, your customers buy from you because they are loyal to your brand and can trust you, a trust which is established through building connections with customers.

#3: Newsletters Boost Website Traffic & Social Media Followings

In your email newsletter, you can add social sharing buttons for sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. As you are likely aware, these social media channels are vital to your overall marketing strategy yet growing them can be something of a challenge. Email newsletters are very effective at helping you build up your social media following. For the most part, merely having these social buttons there can be enticing enough to encourage people to follow your social media pages, however, drawing your newsletter to a close with a discussion involving your social media channels can be another way to entice your subscribers to like and follow your pages.

Not only this, but your email newsletter can play a major role in boosting overall traffic to your website or online store. If you want people to come and visit your website, peruse through your catalogue and, ultimately, make a purchase, you need to invite and encourage people to do just that. There are multiple ways you can go about this, including promotional incentives, calls to action and targeted emails.

Although email newsletters have become something of a dying trend with the onset of social media marketing, it is important to recognise the important role they still play for online businesses, especially small-to-medium sized ones which do not yet have much of a substantive following.

Newsletters are a simple way to engage the customers and subscribers you currently have and encourage them to share your business or brand and, ultimately, come back for more. It’s very easy to create an emotive and engaging newsletter which encourages a response from its recipient, and every business should be sending email newsletters often.

StrategyDriven Entrepreneurship Article

Effective Communication For Your Small Business

Being able to communicate effectively is one of the most important skills you need to have as a business owner. Every element of what you do is based on some form of communication, whether it’s with suppliers, staff or customers. Communication takes many different forms as well, including face to face, letter, email, phone call, video link, text messaging and collaborative online groups. Mastering the skills to be effective in all these formats and with a diverse range of people can be a challenge, as they all require a different approach to work well. Examining the communications generated by your business is well worth your time, and improving both your own and your team’s communication skills will have a significant impact on your success.

Being able to say what you mean

One of the problems with effective communication is the common situation where you think you’ve said one thing, but the recipient understands what you’ve said as something entirely different. Ensuring absolute clarity in terms of what you provide, and the message you are trying to send is paramount for any business. Understanding what you can offer so, you can present this to your customers in a concise manner is always worth establishing early on. Clear communication and an obvious understanding can be misconstrued if you stray too far in terms of your creative energies. This will especially be the case if you, understandably, have in-depth knowledge of what you’re offering, and may forget that some people aren’t familiar with what you are offering and are finding out about your business for the first time. The first rule of communication is to make sure that what you think you’re saying, is what the person you’re communicating with thinks you’re saying too!

Clarity and conciseness

The simpler your message, the more easily it will be understood. Adding lots of unnecessary text to a marketing campaign or an email will just put people off reading it because with so many emails being received every day, it’s only the important ones and the ones that catch your eye that you’ll bother to read. Make it crystal clear what your message is in the plainest language you can, without leaving anything important out.

Construct your message around the key facts, dates, times, prices, product details, whatever the essential information might be in your case, then add your call to action. Leading with a lengthy paragraph about how excited you are to be launching a new product will leave readers cold, but if you have a headline at the top of your message that is short and snappy. This way you’ve hooked them straight away, and then you can follow up with the essential details. Linking through to in-depth information is fine because readers can choose whether to read more or not, but you don’t want to have pages of writing obscuring the vital initial message.

Quality

Seeing poorly written posts, emails and web content is very off-putting. It speaks of a lack of care, of there not being attention to detail, and comes across as being unprofessional. When buyers are looking for products and services, they want to feel they can trust the supplier, which means they need to be demonstrating their care and attention, and the overall quality of the work they do.

Having well-written content on your site is also important for boosting your search engine rankings, as the quality of articles is one of the factors used by search engine algorithms to determine how far up the list of results your site will appear. The odd typo won’t be a deal breaker, but frequent mistakes, badly written sentences and content that is more filler than helpful article will all lead people to believe your business is of equally poor quality. Writing well is not a skill that comes naturally to everyone, and if you struggle with writing articles for your website or posts for your blog, you need to either improve your own writing or find someone who can do a better job. You might have someone on your team who would be better suited to the role of writer, or you could outsource your content writing. There is an army of highly skilled freelancers available that you can hire, and it’s worth finding out more info on how to engage them and what rates you’ll be paying.

Consistency

Communication needs to be consistent to be effective. Don’t start a blog and then forget to post for months on end; you need to communicate regularly, and the most effective frequency can differ according to the mode of communication used. Tweets, for example, are best posted daily, but you might want to do Facebook posts every other day, or three days a week. You don’t want there to be a bombardment of information, or you will be seen as a nuisance; but if you don’t communicate regularly, people will either forget about you or think you aren’t reliable. If you’re looking at maintaining a valuable online presence you need to be using a scheduling tool that will send posts out for you to all or some of your accounts, and have the ability to send posts out at allotted times, so you are never late and don’t miss days because you haven’t had time.

Communication skills can be learned, and indeed training should be considered as mandatory for your team. So much depends upon your ability to communicate effectively, and very often the lack of clear, positive communication results in missed opportunities and lost sales. If you can’t make clear what you’re selling or promoting, or if your message is delivered using poorly constructed sentences with misspellings and grammatical errors, your communication efforts will have been largely wasted. No matter how brilliant your company, your product or your service, unless you can tell people what you do in a way that they understand and that appeals to them, you will fail to get the message across. Look at the effectiveness of your own communications and see how you could improve them going forward.

StrategyDriven Customer Relationship Management Article

Non-Verbal Customer Communication: It’s More Important Than You Think

When we think about communicating with customers, our focus is usually on establishing the right things to say. However, as any communications expert will tell you, there is far more to getting your message across than just words. According to lots of different studies, non-verbal communication is a lot more important than you might think – in fact, it represents up to 50 percent of the message you are trying to get across.

Some of this non-verbal communication is obvious, of course. We all know that talking to a customer with a smile on your face is a lot more effective than doing it while looking at the floor or slouched behind a desk with your feet up. However, there are a lot more aspects of non-verbal communication that are incredibly subtle, and if you don’t know what to look for, you could be giving off the wrong signs. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know.

Appearance counts

How you look and what you wear is a lot more important than you can imagine. Simply put, if you aren’t dressing properly with clothes that are in excellent condition and smart, you will lose custom. Make sure your employees are aware of the impact of how they dress, and also that they have good hygiene habits!

Your business appearance counts, too

But it’s not just your appearance that counts. It’s also the cleanliness of your vehicle or the state of your store. If customers come into spend money with you, they want to see a clean environment. You need to take care of tidiness and ensure that your business premises are free from dirt and mess. Good ventilation, concern for excessive environmental noise – it’s all important and has an impact on your customer’s opinion of your business.

Make it easy

Not all customers want to have a chat with your employees. For example, shoppers who come into your store on a lunch break may just want to pop in, make a purchase and leave as quickly as possible, not get drawn into the finer points of your industry. So, it’s vital that you communicate well with these people, too. Signage plays an important role here, so consider using visual cues – not just text but images, for instance. Hang displays from ceiling magnets, defining each area of your premises. Guide your customers with arrow symbols. And make it easy for them to get what they need without talking.

The importance of eye contact

Finally, as humans, we talk to each other face to face. We do this because it is a better way of establishing intent and, therefore, trust.  For example, if someone is going to punch you in the nose, you will usually be able to ascertain their intentions beforehand because you will see it in their eyes. So, if you and your employees are avoiding looking your customer in the eye, the simple truth is that they won’t trust you – even if it’s only subconsciously. It’s a sign of indifference and bad manners, too, and it will cost you in customers and sales.

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article

The Central Tenets Of ‘Business-Client’ Communication

Your business can be the tightest and most impressively run ship in the world. It’s likely you’re working towards this end. However, without the power of a customer and client base behind you, you’ll agree that things will likely not last very long. This means that no matter how good your product is, you need someone to buy it. While it’s possible to make the most perfect product in the world and price it such that only one customer justifies the entire cost of your firm, it’s statistically unlikely that your firm will. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

However, this doesn’t mean the end of the world. After all, who wants that? Communicating with and building a network of supporters for your firm, in clients, business-to-business connections and partnerships alike is a whole heap more fun. This means that it’s important to know how to develop business-client communication. Without it, it’s unlikely that your company will succeed naturally. If two children are selling equal lemonade on two different stands along the street, it’s likely the one who advertises and presents their product in a superior fashion will gain the most sales.

This means that communication is key, as in all walks of life. To develop this particularly well, it could be beneficial to peruse our advice:

Respect

Customers want to be respected. More and more, they understand that they are entitled to the decision of where their money goes. This is because in a wide array of industries, the free market affords competition. This allows the best products to rise, but also those who offer the best customer service. After all, a purchase isn’t simply a transaction. It’s an experience. From the first step placed in your store to the first click of your website, a customer will be judging your firm. Respect is a good lense to view your beneficial efforts through in this case.

What does this mean? Well, it certainly doesn’t mean you aggressively sell to your clients. You attempt to draw them in with respectfully caring about them first. This means giving them the necessary information about a product with use of brevity. It means allowing the client to dictate their terms. It means potentially going a little further to secure the sale by potentially offering custom deals of promotions. At the very least, it means deeply thanking them and routinely rewarding them for their loyalty.

Respect goes a long way in business, and it always will. No matter how innovative and new the marketing methods, respect will always win out, and can be applied in many manners. Sometimes, respecting the intelligence of your customer in your communication is the only thing you need to do. This is the central core idea behind the phrase ‘the customer is always right.’ It’s not simply a phrase to torment your floor workers, although it’s not hard to see why it’s sometimes viewed this way.

Accurate Marketing

Clients are more and more interested in being accurately sold products. This means that a clear picture of what they are getting is key. Even firms like McDonald’s are heavily criticised for their use of oversized burgers in their promotional material, especially considered to the actual products given. Marketers simply do not have control over the cultural discourse as they once did. It might be that using the phrase ‘magic!’ in your advertising campaign once suggested you had the only formula to achieve a task. Let’s say laundry detergent’s effectiveness in reducing stains in white clothing.

Now, more than ever, practical sharing of your product or servicing results can be shared through social media. People will read reviews, consult images, and generally get a picture of the product they are buying well in advance of purchasing your item. This is why accurate marketing is so beneficial in the modern day. It assumes that customers are smart and know what they want. It means instead of deceiving you can promote your product more creatively, submitting fun and challenging briefs to the best advertising agency of your choice.

Accurate marketing allows the very first step of the potential sale to be on good terms. While it’s never a crime to oversell or focus on the strengths of your product exclusively, doing so in a way that sticks close to reality shows that you needn’t over embellish the fantasies of your product. It also doesn’t mean you can’t sell a lifestyle, or a beautiful picture with your product involved. It simply means you do so in a way that allows a customer to feel intellectually respected and admired. This method of putting the customer on a pedestal allows people to feel well catered to, and it will likely allow communications to proceed with a strong foundation.

Client Retention

Firms work best when clients can set the agenda. This means allowing for personalized services if possible. Of course, not all businesses work this way. It might not be that Levi Strauss can personally attend and tailor you a pair of $50 jeans, and ensure a certain style is stonewashed to your liking. However, they can take on certain feedback, and do so for the continued life of their firm. If you are a smaller firm, particularly if you are in the servicing field, it might be that firmly allowing your client to dictate their terms can allow for a strong potential push in retaining that business.

For example, let’s say you run a simple cafe. You learn that a certain customer enjoys having two tea bags in their pot as they read the morning newspaper. Doing so might mean you lose out on a few cents a day in the transaction and eat into your profits. Overall, this repeat business means that you keep a stronger transaction history with this client, and benefit long-term. This is a low-consequence and relatively simple example, but as you grow consider that this could help you through many different lulls in your popularity. Gaining a reputation as a firm that cares about clients is not easy, and can only be achieved through actually making it a reality. This way, consumer care allows communication to thrive, and always stay within good terms. Complaints and defence are the strongest ways to kill a business that is otherwise working effectively.

With these small tidbits of advice in mind, setting the stage for your customer/client relationship is likely to be that little bit more effective.

StrategyDriven Business Communications Article

The Top 4 Benefits of Introducing Unified Communications into Your Business

Unified communications sounds like another corporate buzzword, the sort of thing that a bouncy, over-eager sales rep would try and sell to you with vague promises of efficiency and taking your business to the next level. Regardless, there are a number of perfectly valid reasons that introducing a unified communications system into your business is a smart move and one that virtually any business can benefit from.

Really small businesses, where you and your coworkers are few enough and close enough that you can simply speak to each other, won’t benefit from unified communications. However, any business that consists of multiple departments and requires that employees are able to efficiently and easy communicate with one another will benefit from unifying their systems.

Easier to Manage

Having a single, unified system is much easier to maintain and to manage than having a number of different, disparate systems. All of your unified communications go through a single server and can be managed through a single interface. You don’t need to have any hardware on-site, instead everything is hosted in the cloud. Should there be any hardware issues, then backups can take over, meaning that for your business there is little to no interruption in service.

Reduced Costs

Instead of paying for a number of different products, each of which have to be individually managed, a unified communications system is largely cloud-based and the only cost to your business is a subscription fee. For that fee you will be covered in the event of any issues at no extra charge. If yours is a business that needs to make phone calls to other branches or locations, then making these calls using a VoIP (Voice over IP) protocol, such as SIP Trunking as offered by Masergy, is cheaper and more reliable.

Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

Consumers are more vigilant than ever when it comes to demanding that the companies they do business with minimize their carbon footprints. Even if customers are not actively selecting businesses because of their green credentials, being able to tell them that your company takes environmentalism seriously makes it much easier to market your products and services. Switching to a unified communications system is a simple yet very effective means of reducing your carbon footprint and boosting your business’s green credentials.

Improve Productivity

By unifying all of your communications systems you will make it much easier for your workers to get to grips with the most effective ways of communicating with one another. Even if every member of your team has to learn how to use the new system, once they have done so, you will notice some major productivity gains, gains which would be hard to obtain any other way.

A unified communications system offers numerous advantages to any business. The benefits that they bring more than justify the financial cost, as well as the time that you will need to invest in training your team in using the new system.