Monday, August 31, 2009

Get a Better Understanding of Customers via DataBase

Most companies have a base of regular customers, but few know why those customers keep coming back. Quality, price, delivery, convenience; these are some of the factors that could explain why a customer continues to buy from your company but, unless you understand the factors behind your success, you cannot plan a customer retention strategy for the future. The discipline of building and using a database helps you concentrate on these important issues. By bringing this information together in a single database, you can get a comprehensive view of individual customers and customer groups and assess the effect of different marketing activities on their purchasing behavior. This is the kind of customer and market profile you can develop using database techniques:

  • Which market sectors do customers and prospects fit into?
  • How many are in each sector?
  • What products do they buy?
  • What other products could be offered to these sectors?
  • Which sectors offer the best growth opportunities?
  • Which are the most valuable sectors?
  • Who are the key customers in each sector?
  • How profitable are the key customers?
  • What is the cost of each customer?

What DataBase provides

The information in your database provides you with a detailed picture of the market and allows you to answer questions such as:

  • Who are our most important customers?
  • How many are there?
  • What characteristics do they have?
  • What other prospects have similar characteristics?
  • Are we generating the maximum amount of business from each customer?
  • Are we maximizing the business opportunities from each customer contact?
  • Do we really know what our customers want?
  • What factors and marketing activities affect their buying behavior?
  • Can we identify every product our customers might use?
  • Do we know every transaction they might want to make?
  • Is information available to everyone who might need it?
  • Is our organization giving the right information to the marketplace?
  • What would happen if we varied our marketing spend or used different marketing channels?

Database marketing is used by most Marketers

One of the most successful forms of marketing used by marketers is database marketing. Database marketing is essentially about sending targeted promotions to any segment of the customer and prospect lists and measuring the value of each individual customer and tracking the promotional efforts, measuring responses, purchases, and the return on investment for the spent on the promotional efforts.

Database marketing is essentially the technique of gathering all the information available about your customer, leads, and prospects into a central database. This central database is then used for the information, and it is this information then that drives all the marketing efforts.

This information collected in Database marketing is stored in a marketing database and then can be used at both the strategic and tactical levels to drive targeted marketing efforts.

A company that chooses to utilize the concept of database marketing for their marketing efforts continually gathers, refines, and analyzes data about its customers, their buying history, prospects, past marketing efforts, demographics, and etc.

The company also analyzes the data to convert the data into information and it is this information that supports all their future marketing and sales programs. Some of the more enlightened marketing companies also use customer and prospect interests and preferences, which are generally gathered from their web site, to tailor design the marketing efforts to the individual level.

Database marketing can also further be defined as a way of organizing a company's customer and prospect data so that it can be used more in a more effective manner in a direct marketing effort. Database marketing is also a way of organizing the whole marketing process. Database marketing allows the company to choose what to market to whom and when based on the sum total of the knowledge and experience that lies with a customer or prospect.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Get That Prospect Off Your List

Congratulations!  You've got a real live prospect on the line.  Your first task is to start selling, right?  WRONG!  At the very beginning of the sales cycle, your most important task is to find out if you can eliminate the prospect completely from your to-do list.

Yes, you heard me correctly.

Many sales pros (particularly novices) are so thrilled simply to be talking to a real live prospect that they don't want to burst the happy bubble.  So they pretend that the mere fact that a prospect has shown a little interest (by not hanging up) means that they're a potential customer.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There are at least half-a-dozen reasons a prospect might show interest but never buy. For instance, the prospect may:

  1. feel bored or lonely and just want to talk to somebody.
  2. hope to have the offering…someday in the far future.
  3. be looking for a catspaw to play against your competitor.
  4. be confused about their firm's real needs.
  5. think your pricey offering fits within their teeny budget.
  6. be looking for new contacts for a future job hunt.

Look, the last thing that you want to do with your valuable time is to waste it on somebody that's who NOT going to buy.

So it's a BIG WIN for you, if you can eliminate a prospect from your to-do list.  And it's an even BIGGER WIN if you can do this within the first five minutes of talking to the prospect.  Here's what you need to know:

  • Do they really need your offering?
  • Is the financial impact big enough to justify a purchase?
  • How do they buy this kind of product?
  • Do they have a budget or can one be secured?
  • What's their time frame for addressing this issue?
  • Who says "Yes" and who can say "No"?

If you can't get a decent answer — or a process to get an answer — to any of these questions, then you're WASTING YOUR TIME.

On the other hand, if you can get answers — or a process in place to get those answers, you've got a real opportunity.

But let's be clear: if that prospect ain't gonna buy, you wanna exit ASAP.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Should You Let Your Interns Manage Twitter?

Would you let a 21-year-old intern work the phones without training? Then why would you let one manage your company's Twitter account, where they have direct contact with loads of extremely vocal customers?

Fresh joinees are often given charge of a corporate Twitter updates because they tend to be Web savvy.

But their lack of experience can be a drawback, especially when they're dealing directly with customers.

They may struggle to pick up on the culture, image, direction, and goals of a company in the short time they are there. And when they leave, they take their Twitter skills and style with them, leaving the company to find fill that void every few months.

Here are four tips to ensure your Twitterer is adding value:

Find the best people for the job
. Interns are not your only option. Your company probably has people who are using Twitter. Find them, and recruit them for the task of becoming your official Twitterers. Already being familiar with the service will give these people a leg up.

Train them
. Give them the same basic customer training that you give to the rest of your customer service team — how to interact with customers, what the company wants to communicate, the language that works best, and the image it wants to convey.

Let them become experts on Twitter
. Give them the time and resources to learn the ropes. Twitter is a tiny bit more technical than working the phones (though you would train your phone reps on your phone system, wouldn't you?). Especially important is Twitter etiquette — a backlash on Twitter spread across the Web can be damaging to your reputation.

Keep them in the loop
. Give your Twitterers the same information you'd supply other customer service reps — promotions you're currently running, as well as any ongoing product or service issues. A customer who Tweets a complaint is just as important as one who calls one in, and if your Twitter-er is in the dark about the nature of the complaint he or she could just make a situation worse. Remember — an angry phone call can't go viral.

Incentivise the role
. What kind of reward can you offer your Twitterer for interacting individually with a set number of customers, or generating a certain number of re-tweets.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Backlinks to your websites

We all need backlinks to our websites.

A backlink is an inbound html code that points to your website. You are probably wondering why you would want a backlink.

If you have many websites with one-way links to your website, the search engines interpret this in your favor. You want to make sure that your website is at the "hub of the wheel" so to speak -- all the spokes, or links, are pointing to your website.

Your goal should be that the search engines view your site as an "authority site". If a website provides excellent, interesting articles and other content, and has many readers, that website could be called an "authority site". Websites mention and point to, or refer to, articles and videos on the authority site.

Let's step back a bit and explain links in an example:

If Sally's site links to you, then you have one inbound link. However, if your website links back to Sally's site, the links balance each other out and no one wins - that is called a reciprocal link. Don't look for reciprocal links. You should look for links back to your website from other websites where you don't have to link to them.

Now who is going to do that? Any website marketer who has been around for some time does not want reciprocal links. He wants one-way links to his site.

Sources of Inbound, One-Way Links:
  • Links from directories
  • Links from articles you write

Monday, August 3, 2009

Are You Socially Acceptable?

One reason social media sites have caught on like wildfire among users is that, by and large, they operate on basic principles of social decency. always have a check on: Do your social-media skills match the subtle standards set at sites like Twitter and YouTube?

Not sure? Well, here are a few site-inspired rules to help ensure your online outreach efforts are socially acceptable:

Don't stifle the conversation. It's easy to react negatively when you spot a negative review at a social site, but first take a deep breath. Consider this: do the comments have merit? If so, acknowledge them and commit to making a change. If they are silly or mean, it's probably best to let them go.

Bring something besides your product to the table. People don't want just a pitch, they want a person. Don't spend precious social-media time pushing your wares; pass a little time with your audience. Let them get to know you and your brand.

Be responsive. Agencies have spent decades trying to get people to cultivate emotional connections with logos and labels; it's only natural that, now that they have a soapbox, users demand to know why they should ally themselves with you. Demonstrate that you care what your customers, donors or clients think: Follow their discussions, engage them in dialogue, express interest in who they are.

Suggest: Toe the social line. Social media sites are about being natural—in acceptable ways. Make sure your outreach—no matter how fun or creative—always shows consideration and respect.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Past and Current customer behavior are the best predictors of Future customer behavior

Past and Current customer behavior are the best predictors of Future customer behavior. Think about it. Any entity you can define as a
customer – external, internal, distributors, manufacturers, suppliers – they all pursue certain routines, and changes in these routines often indicate an opportunity or challenge is ahead in your relationship with them. When it comes to action-oriented activities like interacting with a web site, this concept really takes on a very important role. You can predict future behavior based on an understanding of past behavior, and use this knowledge to improve marketing or service programs.

Take these two groups of potential buyers who surf around the 'Net:
People who are a perfect demographic match for your business, but have never made a purchase / subscribed to a service online
People who are outside the core demographics for your business, but have repeatedly purchased / subscribed to a service online
If you sent a 20% off promotion to each group, asking them to visit and make a first purchase, response would be higher from the buyers (second bullet above) than the demographically targeted group (first bullet above).
It works because actual behavior is better at predicting future behavior than demographic characteristics are.

High ROI Customer Marketing Tactics!

Go beyond using simple customer demographics to start looking at past customer behavior, the most reliable source of data for predicting the potential value of a customer and their likelihood to remain a customer.  When you nail down these behavioral metrics and start measuring their trends, you will be able to:

* Identify customer segments with the highest future potential
* Focus on growing the profitability of middle potential customers
* Stop wasting resources acquiring and marketing to low potential

Once you identify these groups, you can manage their value by:

* Emphasizing the ads, media, and products creating long term high potential value customers and downplaying ones that don't

* Creating High ROI marketing programs that maximize customer value by increasing sales while lowering expenses

* Predicting when best customers are about to leave you and reacting with customer retention and save-a-customer programs

* Quantifying the profitability of marketing and operational initiatives by linking them to potential customer value

what is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free analysis tool which gives you information on where your website visitors are coming from, which pages they visit, how long they stay, and a lot more. There are plenty of paid stat counters available which present data in different ways, but Google Analytics is one of the best, and it's free.

One can over-analyze or under-analyze any website. Some people spend too much time checking stats, analyzing, and planning, and don't spend enough time writing good content and getting new readers to their blogs.

On the other side of the pendulum, you could go on week after week, blindly publishing content and flailing along with offsite promotíon, without seeing what results your campaigns are getting, which type of content is the most popular for your visitors, and which traffic-generation techniques are getting the best results.

In between, we have a happy balance.

1. Find out which of your website's pages are getting the most traffic, and optimize those pages.
2. Find out which referrers are generating the most traffic, and continue any actions you have been taking to generate traffic from those referrers.
3. Find out which keywords you are ranking the best for, and see which ones you can "push to the top."
4. Find out which pages keep your visitors' attention for the longest.
5. Look at the graph of your bounce rate.