Can Automated Marketing Work for My Business?

Many marketing departments should consider using automated marketing solutions. While automated may make it sound as if you are using computers to take over the marketing department duties, there’s no loss of control with automated marketing, in fact you’ll gain more control than before. When done correctly, automated marketing platforms should be an extra pair of hands for your marketing person or department.

There are several different versions of software that will automate the repetitive portions of marketing, with many functions available. The sales effectiveness of a marketing department can be increased through the chosen functions. High powered software can help with everything from lead generation to lead qualification. Most of the programs are offered from Internet-based applications, though standalone software does exist. These locally installed programs will need an experienced manager to keep the application running smoothly. Internet based programs are either designed to be run without an experienced user, or are typically offered with a customer service and tech package.

Intelligence

AutoMKTQuite a few automated programs have a tracking function incorporated. These tracking functions are embedded into social media campaigns, web pages, and marketing emails to reveal the behavior of recipients or interested users by recording email – whether opened or following embedded links, social media link monitoring, and pages viewed. This activity allows the marketer to determine which products or services are more appealing to the majority of their target audience.

Automation of Marketing

The heart and soul of automated marketing is when the program helps move leads through the marketing funnel. At the top of the funnel are the interested browsers. Through emails, then follow up call reminders (to the marketing department), the software helps those browsing parties become sales leads at the bottom of the funnel.

Workflow Management

More sophisticated programs help manage the workflow in a marketing department. While the initial information needs to be input by a human, once entered the data can be created automatically. This data can include workflow, marketing calendars, budgeting, asset creating, and triggers for sales marketing campaigns or emails.

Sales or Spam?

Marketing emails are often sent to spam folders. This is due to over-sending, repeated emails, or material that is not relevant to customers. Potential customers can become non-interested parties very quickly if they find too many emails from any business in their inbox. To avoid this, create several different types of messages based on customer activity. Do not allow the emails to go out more than once per week and let customers choose their email preferences. Remember that having emails marked as spam too often can result in fines or even your website being blacklisted from your webhost or Internet service provider.

Can I Afford It?

For some small businesses the price of automated marketing can be prohibitive. Certain software can run over $1,000 per month. Companies with a high profit may not have a problem, as automated marketing can help generate more leads. There are many different solutions and some may fall into your budget range. If there are enough potential leads, the cost may be worth investing in automated marketing.

Would you like to learn more about marketing automation? Contact me directly and I’d be more than happy to assist you!

How Your In-Plant Facility Can Use Social Media to Reach Out to Internal Clients

Is your in-plant printer looking to get more business from internal clients? If so, it’s time to become social media savvy. With so many people using social media to communicate and get information, it only makes sense to cultivate a social media presence to connect your in-plant with internal clients.

Social media might not seem an obvious choice to you at first – after all, your internal clients work in the same complex, so why connect with them on the Internet? But the fact is, they may not know what your in-plant service can do for them, and you won’t necessarily be the first solution to come to mind when they have printing needs. It wouldn’t be practical for your staff to start knocking on internal clients’ doors to drum up business (and they might not appreciate it), but with social media you can get your message across loud and clear, and begin to foster a strong relationship.

Why Social Media is Beneficial for Reaching Internal Clients

People_RoundSocial media offers a platform that is fantastic for four important things:

  • Showcasing what you do in a way that is useful and interesting to your followers
  • Establishing yourself as an expert and reliable source of information
  • Building strong relationships through interactions and conversations
  • Allowing your in-plant to be noticed as flexible, approachable, and available

For your in-plant operation, that means a chance to show how valuable you are to internal clients. From posts about what you do to useful information for anyone who has a print project in the pipeline, you can use social media to establish yourself as your organization’s go-to course for anything print related.

Making Social Media Work for Your In-Plant

Social media is a boon for in-plant printers, so how can you get the most out of it?

  • Have a plan. Without a plan, your social media presence will get relegated to the bottom of the to-do list, resulting in sporadic and lackluster updates. A good plan covering what to say, how to say it, and how often, will keep your social media presence alive.
  • Develop a “voice.” A strong consistent voice that promotes your in-plant operation and gels with your parent organization’s culture will help you stand out from the crowd.
  • Create interesting content. Simply advertising your services isn’t enough. You need useful and noteworthy content that will entice internal clients to pay attention.
  • Reach out. Instead of waiting for internal clients to come to you, get proactive. Find out where in the world of social media your internal clients are spending their time, and go there.
  • Build a relationship. Social media can help you build trusting relationships through conversations, prompt replies to comments and questions, and regular interaction.

If your in-plant is looking to strengthen internal relationships and build new ones, social media is a must. The investment of time is well worth the payoff – connecting with clients, raising your profile, and making sure you’re fresh in the minds of the next person to have printing needs.

How To: Stay Focused While Working at Home

Working from home is appealing to a lot of people that have the option. It’s also very convenient if you have other obligations, children, or don’t feel well but still need to get work done for the day. Focusing can be a struggle due to so many temptations and other distractions in the comfort of your own home. Here are some important things to think about that will help you avoid these productivity killers.

writingTry to keep your routine. Whatever you normally do in the morning, whether it’s getting coffee, eating breakfast or exercising (assuming you are not sick), do so when you decide to work from home. If you don’t start your day how you usually do, you’re more likely to feel a bit off for the day. When you’ve finally completed the routine that you usually do before work, buckle down, open the computer and take the files out on a comfortable desk, or table, to start your work day.

It’s time to get the brain moving. Grab your coffee, put your headphones in, and get to work. Many of us can’t get much done with the television on, so don’t bother turning it on, helping to avoid unnecessary distractions. However, if you like to listen to music or put on some background noise that won’t distract you, then go for it. Again, just stay comfortable, and in return you’ll be focused and productive.

Lastly, make sure you have your schedule laid out for the day. You probably have multiple tasks that you need to get done during the work day so be sure to stay on top of them. While it’s important to work, don’t be afraid to take a break, eat some brain food, and collect your thoughts. When you have a clear schedule and you can see exactly what needs to get done, then you should have no problem staying on track.

Working from home is a convenient option if you can stay on task and stay focused. At times it is necessary for people with multiple obligations during one day and it is especially appealing to millennials. Younger generations think it’s great to have the option to work from home and have flexibility within their work place. Just remember to get comfortable, stay in routine, and get to work. Good luck!

How To: Handle a Public Complaint

No matter what type of business or what the size, there are always going to be customer complaints to deal with, and unfortunately, some of those may be public. Whether or not you believe particular complaints are justified, you need to be prepared on how to take on the situation in a professional manner. How you handle mistakes is what can help or hurt your organization for the future. If you’re unsure how to deal with public complaints, consider following these five steps the next time you find yourself in a compromising position with a customer.

  1. Checklist_ImageAcknowledge publicly, address privately. When someone makes a public complaint about your company, it’s important to acknowledge the situation publicly to let them, your audience, and your customers know you care; however, it’s equally as important to address the situation privately. Reach out to the individual who made the complaint and if there’s not an obvious way to get in contact (direct message, email, call, etc.), ask them to call you personally and handle the situation privately. This system shows your professionalism and contains the situation before anything gets too out of hand.
  2. Listen very carefully. When someone is complaining about your business, be sure to always listen with an open mind. Let the person speak their mind with no interruptions before you decide what to do next. You need to fully understand the situation and think of the best possible way to handle it before you answer and come up with a solution.
  3. Make sure you understand. When the person is done expressing their concern, repeat their situation back to them. By doing this, you are showing that you fully understand their problem and how they are feeling. Don’t be embarrassed if they correct some of things you repeat back; just remember you need to grasp the problem before you can find a solution.
  4. Emphasize that you will fix the problem. Without putting the blame on anyone, apologize and assure them that the problem will be taken care of. Let them know that you will assess the situation right away and get back to them as soon as possible, before you make any rash decisions. Showing that you are empathetic will help lighten the mood and give them assurance that you will fix the problem. Also, if you haven’t already, give them a number where they can contact you directly, as that will show your dedication to the customer and help to keep them calm.
  5. Follow up. As soon as you get off the phone with the customer, talk to your team and figure out the issue right away and solve it. Once this is figured out internally, call the customer back as soon as possible. Remember to apologize again and keep in contact with them until the entire situation is resolved.

Dealing with complaints and customer problems are never easy, especially when situations are made public. However, there is a professional way to handle issues, and it’s important to always take this route during a crisis. Keep the above steps in mind if you find yourself in an unfortunate situation – your customers will appreciate it and your business will turn a bad situation around and make a good impression for the future.

How To: Increase Email Open Rates

As every marketer knows, mastering email marketing is an ongoing process that is necessary for the success of your organization. Between sending out promotional email blasts, content marketing, and writing personal emails to customers and prospects, it has been proven to be a great way to connect and communicate with your audience. However, it does have some downfalls, especially if your businesses’ email open rates are low. Below are some helpful tips to consider when trying to improve your email open rates.

  1. Email_Open_Rate2Pay attention to the sender. When creating an email campaign, make sure you pay attention to who it is coming from. Your audience will be more likely to open an email if it’s coming from a name they recognize at your organization. With this in mind, make sure you don’t always use the same sender. It’s important to keep a variety so your target audience doesn’t assume every email from your CEO is spam.
  2. Entice your audience with a strong subject line. The first thing your audience will see is the subject line of the email, so make sure you have an intriguing one. Similar to who the email is coming from, it’s important to change up the subject lines depending on the goal of the email and the audience. Sometimes, it’s better to be more direct with what you’re offering in the email, whereas other times, you may want to keep it vague to convince a large group to open it. Keep in mind to not make the subject line sound too much like a sales pitch, as that’s a sure way to get your email sent to spam boxes or see an increase in unsubscriptions.
  3. Personalize the subject line occasionally. By adding a touch of personality to your email campaigns, starting with the subject line, it will increase your audience’s interest and likeability. By personalizing it with their first name from time to time, it shows that you are taking an interest and care about who you are contacting. It also gives a sense of importance and grabs their attention.
  4. Test out times. Is your audience on the east coast or west coast? Will they be more interested in what you’re offering during a work day or weekend? These are things you need to consider when sending out your emails. It’s important to A/B test the times you send your email campaigns, as well as the subject and senders, to see what they respond best to. Some organizations find success sending emails early in the morning before a hectic business day starts, whereas others have reported great results on the weekend. Unfortunately, there is no secret formula for timing your email blasts, so testing and learning your audience are vital.
  5. Remain consistent. After testing, it’s time to come up with a schedule for your email campaigns and stick to it. No one wants to receive 3-5 emails per day from the same business. Once you set a schedule, your audience will learn to expect your emails and be ready for them, and with the number of emails being sent every day to consumers from businesses of all kinds, it’s important to remember not to be overwhelming.

Keep in mind these five tips as you work on your email campaigns and you’ll be on your way to better open rates. If you have any questions, have additional tips, or need additional suggestions, please feel free to comment below – I’d love to hear!

5 Ways to Use QR Codes to Improve Your Next Conference

The smartphone has become an ubiquitous part of business culture. So, why not integrate smartphone use into your organization’s next conference? It is a great way to increase participation in your company-wide event. It’s easy to setup and do with QR codes. QR codes can be read by any smartphone and are a great and effective way add some fun to your conference. Here are 5 simple ways to integrate QR codes into your next big event.

1. QR Code Scavenger Hunt

Clipboard with Checklist and Red PenAll you need is list of things that your attendees need to find, and QR codes attached to each object on the list. Group your attendees into teams and give each team a list of objects to find. Each team will find an item on the list, scan the QR code attached to them, and move on to the next item. At the end of the hunt, the team with the most QR codes scanned wins.

2. QR Quiz

This game requires a simple mobile website with a few pages setup with questions. Give your attendees an opening question and attach a QR code to the answer. When they scan the code on the answer, it will lead to your mobile website where the next question is located. This repeats until the last question. First team to find all of the answers wins.

3. QR Code Meet and Greet

This is a great way for people to get to know one another. Have each participant fill out a bio sheet with facts about themselves during pre-registration for the event and have that information put on a simple web page. Then, create QR codes that link to those pages and attach them to each attendant’s badge or name tag. During the social portion of the conference, you can have a contest to see who can meet the most people and name at least one fact about them. This is a good ice breaker and will make the conference attendees feel closer to everyone.

4. QR Codes for Door Gift Bags

If you plan on having door gift bags, a great way to hand them out is to use QR codes. Give each attendee a QR code at check-in. Have each code link to a picture of a prize. Then, each attendee just has to show the person in charge of distributing the gifts that code and the prize is theirs.

5. QR Codes for Voting

If you need an easy way to tally votes without tons of wasted paper and manual counting, you can use QR codes instead. Assign each measure on the ballot a QR code. Whenever it is scanned, it adds to the tally for that particular measure. Using QReate & Track’s tracking page, you can see which code got scanned the most.

Using QR codes can save you time and money by eliminating wasted paper and man hours while simultaneously adding something new and exciting to your next big conference.