Why you should be doing Email Marketing

Before you start clicking the next button, hear me out! I’ve worked with a lot of small business owners and it seems like almost every time I bring up email marketing in my assessment, hackles rise. So many people have had bad experiences with email on the receiving end with spam email for some work at home programs, over-eager companies sending the same coupon 5 times a day, or some, lets say, unsolicited “adult content” that shows up occasionally. Sure that happens, but in recent years with CANSPAM legislation and more reputable Email Service Providers (ESP’s) on the scene, customers are not just warming back up to promotional emails, they’re popularity is growing by the day and so is the ROI. I knew those three little letters would catch your attention.
Many of you have known about email marketing for a while but have never had the resources to put it to work in your business or have never had good enough reason to get it going, Solent me count the reasons why email marketing will work for your business.

1. Put your brand center stage!
With more people owning smartphones, people are checking their email twice as often as they did 10 years ago. Chances are, you wake up in the morning and reach for your phone and look over your emails. You make some breakfast, check some more emails. Get to work, check your emails again. Get back from lunch, check your emails, you get the picture. Whatever the order you do it in, it happens. We all check our email way too much, but that makes for prime real estate for your brand. Don’t believe me? here are some numbers: Xobni, the maker of an email plugin for outlook performed a study that stated that 72% of respondents checked they’re email on vacation, on sick days, and in bed. 1 in 5 respondents stated that checking their email is the first thing they did in the morning.

2. Make some money!
You’ve all heard the old adage, “you’ve got to spend money to make money,” such a frustrating phrase to anyone that operates a small to medium sized business. Sure you’ve got to spend money, that doesn’t mean you want to. I suppose that saying would be more appropriately stated “You’ve got to spend marginally less per dollar and make exponentially more to make real money.” Although ideal, you probably won’t see that on a fortune cookie anytime soon, but Email Marketing will bring you that return your are looking for. The Direct Marketing Association, an independent group that focuses on fine tuning marketing data, has stated that the numbers drive a compelling case for email. Email provided $39.40 in sales per dollar spent of advertising this year, followed by $22.38 through Web search, $19.71 from Internet display ads and $12.90 from social networks. Who doesn’t want to see that type of return?

3. Keep ‘em coming back!
Most sales professionals will tell you that you have to constantly be adding to your pipeline to be making money, that’s certainly not wrong, but not 100% true either. A study done in the reent years by Bain & Company states “It is 6 to 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one.” The beauty of email marketing is it not only allows you to reach out to new, quality leads, but it also allows you to re-engage with customers who have purchased with you in the past. Think about the virtues, you know what the customers like now, you know what they’ve purchased in the past, by offering something you know that they would like or what will compliment their most recent purchase, they’re more likely to not only come back, but spend marginally more per purchase on subsequent returns.

Now, stop reading and start growing your business today, I’ve just outlined for you the tip of the iceberg of the benefit to your business. Write a comment or email me today about how to get started.

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Why you should be making a Touchpoint Map for your Small Business.

This last week I spoke with an acquaintance of mine who works for a very rapidly growing ecommerce site. As we talked about their recent growth, he brought to my attention that they have really streamlined the operational aspect of the business, but they were having a hard time connecting with their customers and getting them to come back. My question to him was, Do you have all the right touchpoints in place? To which I received some confused looks. For an ecommerce business, optimizing your touchpoints with your customers can be the best way to drive customer experience and define your brand. 

Let’s start at the elementary points. Touchpoints are any interactions where customers and businesses engage to interact, exchange information, provide some sort of service, or perform a transaction. Think about the last time you bought something online, how did it go? Some of your interactions with the business are so subtle that interaction itself is often overlooked, however there affect on you isn’t. You can find customer touchpoints in any type of business whether that is a brick-and-mortar or a ecommerce business, or even non-retail service establishments like an auto-repair shop, a salon, or even a agency/consultancy. 

Now for the more technical points. There are really three types of touchpoints: Interactive Digital Touchpoints, Static Analog Touchpoints, and Human Touchpoints. So what do all those mean and which will be most useful for your business? Interactive Digital touchpoints are most popular amongst ecommerce companies. They’re typically lower cost and there are many channels to take advantage of them and more easily optimized. Some of those touchpoints can be utilized with tools like Email, Social Media, Blogs, Web, Mobile and Free Trials. I told you earlier to think about the last time you bought something online, After you bought did you receive a confirmation email? That’s a touchpoint, and like every touchpoint, it can be optimized for a better customer experience. Static Analog touchpoints are one way communications, things like direct mail, TV ads, Radio ads, and the product itself. With the power of Big Data being harnessed in the digital world and deeper segmentation taking place, these channels are becoming less and less affective for customer interaction and driving sales but still maintain there weight for branding. Human touchpoints play a role in every business model, things like call centers, customer support lines, and sales people. For a salon or an auto repair shop, the Stylist or the Mechanic are a touchpoint, probably the most important of all for that model. 

The first step to becoming a customer facing company is to map your touchpoints. Figure out the journey your customers go through to buy from your company over others. Where can we make it easier for customers? Where in the buying process are customers getting frustrated? Are the interactions they have with us good points or bad points? If Bad, why and how can we improve them. Mapping them helps you figure out the touchpoints you actually have now, how well they’re working and where you can make improvements and where you have redundancies that can be eliminated. As you map your touchpoints you can really separate them into two categories, Pleasure points and pain points. Any pain point is a reason for your customer to go somewhere else. When you look at your touchpoint map from an operational standpoint, you can make improvements to your customer experience, make some big gains in efficiency and improve your overall profit. Enjoy Mapping!

Below is probably and overly basic example of an experience my wife and I had in shopping and preparing for the upcoming birth of our daughter. Your touchpoint maps should include more detail and more touchpoints and interactions. This one was just a general overview. 

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Should Johnson Be Given More Time, They’d Be Fools Not To.

This last week, JCP CEO Ron Johnson has come under renewed scrutiny as fourth quarter 2012 numbers have come back worse than expected for investors. I think investors of JC Penney are making a huge mistake in calling for a reckoning with new CEO Johnson, I think that he has had a year to implement a new branding change, a change to 102 years of unchanged roots, a change that can really revitalize the JC Penney brand, a change that will take couple of years, much more than the than the 12 months they’ve given him. Investors are saying that many of their customers are straying because of the loss of coupons and sale events. It’s hard to tell bottom line, dollar driven investors to be patient, however I think that’s exactly what they need to be told and to do. The type of customers who are up in arms about JC Penney’s branding shift are those who are in their late 50’s to early 60’s. That’s an aging demographic to appeal to, in another 10 years this demographic will be spending marginally less than they were today, or even 10 years prior to today. The strategy is to breathe life into the aged, brittle brand by attracting a younger demographic, those who are not so coupon/ sales event driven like their parent-aged counterparts. It is painful to undergo a strategy shift, but one that is necessary if the JC Penney investors are to see the long term survival of their company.

Take a look at other companies that are in a similar situation, Kmart is the biggest of these aging brands; an aging demographic and the small baby steps to try and resuscitate it are moving too slow for the brands long term survival. Sears Holdings Corp, the owner of the dieing Kmart brand predict the same painful sharp decline if major overhauls were to take place but they seem unwilling to endure a short drop in revenue to see the longterm health improved. Of smaller brand names who have struggled to reinvent themselves is RadioShack. Aside from JCP, RadioShack has been one of the more aggressive retail joints in blazing a new strategy from that of the past. What was once known as the place to find all odds and ends electronics, they have decreased offerings of general electronics and increased their offering of mobile devices. This shift in strategy dates back to 2009 with the signing of the exclusive deal with T-Mobile. That was somewhat of a failed attempt for both RadioShack and T-Mobile, but since then RadioShack has inked deals with AT&T, Verizon and the largest of deals with Sprint. RadioShack has made an agressive strategy shift but have failed to rebrand themselves over the last 4 years, hardly a fair comparison to JCP. JCP’s trajectory, with a modern sales strategy and targeting a younger audience with a new look, is set high and if given more than just six months, as Reuters is reporting, JCP will soar far above it’s retail counterparts who have failed to launch even with the most honest of attempts.

Plain and Simple, Make Cool Stuff.

How do you answer the age old question of E-commerce and social media marketing… ahem, ok age old in dog years. But seriously, every small business is asking themselves these days, how do I prompt more consumer engagement with my brand? Answer: There is no silver bullet, no magic pill to feed consumers, but there are several brands that are getting it right on several fronts, the first and biggest is the new wave of Content Marketing. These brands that are using these new strategies are simply (as simple as it can get) engaging their customers by just making cool stuff and feeding it through channels where their customers are at, whether that is email, Facebook, blogs or other digital channels. Let’s take a look.

First and foremost, Red Bull has made a reputation of associating their name with all things extreme. Think about it. Whens the last time you heard about something that is totally off the wall, maybe a little crazy, you probably heard Red Bull’s name attached with it. Red Bull Stratos, you know, that guy that fell from the stratosphere in a space suit, yeah Red Bull, how about the Red Bull X-Fighters, where the airplanes fly around racing each other around pylons at breakneck speed, yeah Red Bull. Perhaps you’ve seen some of their feature films like the Art of Flight or Where the Trail Ends, a new films about extreme backcountry mountain biking. In fact Red Bull has pretty much abandoned all forms of traditional marketing in favor of a new content marketing strategy. In fact they created the Red Bull Media House who’s sole job is to produce cool stuff.  Now not all of us have the budget of someone like Red Bull, so let’s look at another. 

 GoPro, yes another action sports oriented company, but hang in there you might learn something from this one. GoPro’s strategy is simple, give you a first person perspective on the coolest rides, the coolest jumps, the coolest places and the perfect lifestyle for you. Check out GoPro’s Facebook page here, to see what I mean. They make cool content that people want to watch. Plain and simple. 

The last one has nothing to do with the action sports industry, that is unless you consider baking to be an extreme sport, is Betty Crocker. Yes Betty Crocker is mastering the art of Content Marketing. a couple years back they wiped the slate clean with their email marketing and brought together a whole new strategy. Make cool stuff that people would enjoy reading and looking at. Betty Crocker has regular features with titles such as “Top 5 One Pot Slow Cooker Dinners” they have regular free product samples offered exclusively through their emails, as well as quick polls and an Ask Betty section. Good, exclusive, original content. 

The thing that all these companies have on common is their commitment to creating content. Plain and simple, you need to focus on making cool stuff that people want to watch. They’ll engage, they’ll convert, they’ll share.