Keeping in touch

As my ramblings continue I have turned some of my thinking to how we communicate with our customers/potential customers when they are looking at our products online.

I start to wonder if we are changing the culture of the purchaser and we as sellers and marketers, need to adjust the way we expect our customers to interface with us.  If we sell online, then surely we are open 24/7?  The customer wants to communicate with us, at their convenience, not ours.

How do we do that in a realistic sense.  Many online traders can’t provide 24/7 opening hours.  If you product is a simple choice then most people are going to be able to purchase without assistance.  On the other hand if you sell a technical item, or a product with multiple variations, then the customer may need some help.

This got me to thinking about the way we interact and what options are there?  We have the traditional telephone, but you need someone to be on the other end of that, with enough knowledge to answer the call, so that is not going to be there 24/7 in most cases.

What other options do we then have?  I have seen a number of businesses starting to use SMS as a way to communicate with their customers.  This is more of a register your interest request, that is then followed up in business hours, but at least the customer does the first portion of the interaction in a time that suits them.

Obviously email plays a significant role, but with the onset of more spam, stricter filtering rules, more and more businesses, I think, are struggling to get their emails back to the customers that matter.  A number of my customers have reported sending quotes and updates to customers, thinking they have got through.  Upon followup they find they never made it, in some instances loosing them the sale.  I use Infusionsoft, no advert, it is just my choice, there are plenty of others out there, but worth a look if you are not running a CRM at the moment.  When I send out a marketing email I can see if a customer has opened it.  That gives me just a little more peace of mind and helps complete the life cycle of the sale.

Screen grab from Infusionsoft showing emails that have been opened by the customer.

Infusionsoft Screen Grab

Then we move to web chat / live chat.  This I think is probably one of the most exciting developments and I am seeing a great level of success with clients that are embracing this.  The ability to instantly chat with your customer as they are on the website, brings immediate answers and improves the sales experience.  With apps that can be installed on smart phones and computers, it is possible for businesses to increase their opening hours with little overheads.  Again my current personal choice is PureChat as it is cost effective and has a great set of features.

What are your thoughts on the best way to keep in contact with customers in an ever changing market place – do let me know ?

What is Big Data

The new term “Big Data” has become a hot and sizzling topic in the world of business today and I made reference to it in my first post. Big Data has been defined as something that refers to a vast quantity of information obtained and collected by businesses today mainly for their marketing purposes. These pieces of information come from a multitude of sources and these include social networks, customer chat sessions and sensor networks. The data collected from these sources include offline and online data.

A collection of important information becomes extremely immense that it turns to be so hard to process them by using conventional methods like software and databases. The businesses that could successfully cultivate some new ways of analyzing the data find a concealed treasure of relevant, valuable information on clients and customers that assist in making better and more lucrative business decisions.

The businesses of today make use of Big Data in order to help in enhancing operational practices through recognizing the existing problems, and to aid in identifying new advertising opportunities by considering the data so as to know more regarding their customers so they can target them in a much better way. Besides, there are more and more companies that begin with incorporating Big Data analytics in their respective hiring practices in order to ensure that they are getting the best talents.

Above all its applications, the potential of Big Data and the actual advantages that it can provide are maybe most readily noticed in marketing. Marketing can be defined as the activity, a group of institutions and processes designed for developing, communicating, distributing and swapping offerings which have value for clients, customers, partners, and community at large.

In this definition, it is easy to see and find the linkages between Big Data and marketing. The information could yield product insights that permit you to produce products that people will want. This will assist you to understand the right way to communicate effectively the importance of these products. You can also optimize the distribution techniques in delivering your products to your clients plus you will be able to determine the correct exchange rate to guarantee a healthy and good profit for your business. To sum it up, the more data you have collected, the more informed choices you could make.

The Advantages of Using Big Data in Marketing

There are many benefits that marketers can get from using big data. Harnessing the available information from a bigger number of reputable sources, as an advertiser, you could do the following:

  • Create a more précised profile of your business’ target customers
  • Predict customer reaction to product offers and marketing messages
  • Personalize the advertising techniques and product offers
  • Optimize your distribution and production strategy
  • Use and create more précised assessment measures
  • Ideal and efficient digital marketing & campaign-based strategies
  • Retain more and more clients in a much more affordable manner and;
  • Gain product insights among other tactics

It does not need to become an exhaustive listing but the connection between marketing and Big Data definitely improves the long-held promotion capabilities, and it also gives a rise to an incredible set of brand new ones.

Why use the Internet to Market things?

Maybe a forgone conclusion for many, but it is a question I always ask myself, is it worth it, will it work, why am I doing it – why use the internet to market things?

If you are running a business today, for sure, you understand the importance of making your products, and services available through the web. Gone are those days when a certain business promotes its products or services through ads on newspapers, on TV and radio. Today, you can have more chances of getting the attention of your target customers when you market what you offer using the internet.

You might be wondering why the internet has become a very powerful tool in marketing and in the success of a business. Well, there are a lot of reasons behind that. First of all, people have discovered the benefits of using the internet to shop and make a purchase of nearly anything they want without having to leave their home. It is especially beneficial in times of unexpected need and things can be purchased through the web in just a few clicks. Truly, online shopping brings more convenience.

Aside from convenience, one more thing that people love about shopping online is that they have a lot more choices to choose from that can be found in just one click.

11 shops selling one item from a quick Google Search!

Google Exmaple

Unlike before, shopping through the web introduces the shoppers to a wider selection of products to choose from on the spot. This one key point is probably most peoples driver to getting their business listed online.  If you are not present, then your not one of the choices being presented to the shopper – that is the key. If you are selling Sophos XG Series firewalls in Australia, for example, make sure you are selling online, otherwise you’re missing an opportunity to reach more customers.

Tips on Using the Internet to Market Your Products or Services Effectively

Almost every business would benefit from gaining internet exposure. But, before you rush to throw your old content on the web, you have to take time to come up with a strategy to gain the promised benefits from using the internet to market things. Start by thinking of creating a website for your business. Promoting your products or services through the web will be impossible if you don’t have a website, although with some products you may find just having a eBay or Amazon shop will work successfully.

Secondly, you have to realize the importance of providing your visitors with relevant content and information about the services or products you offer. It is where you need to consider the services of a SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company that can provide your website with professional and compelling content. Aside from these, you need to consider other important factors such as email marketing, internet marketing, search engine marketing and e-commerce.

It all sounds a little daunting, I know, but it will be worth it in the long run.  Decide what product you have to sell, research how other people are selling it, and, copy them!  That is probably the simplest starting point.

Calligraphy and Fonts

Consistency is a one of the top fundamentals in web design. More than making a good first impression, you need to establish and maintain its consistency. One way it can be ensured is through using not just the right calligraphy styles, but also avoiding the usage of too many fonts.

We all love to use different type faces and ideas, but don’t over do it, it will pay off in the long run!

Keep Your Website Consistent

To establish and maintain the consistency of a website, you need to be consistent in using elements in every page. Elements include the layout, sizes, colors, fonts, and even its placement. All elements used in creating a web page need to flow well. A good way you can achieve that consistency is by using the same colors, layout structure and fonts.

Consistency does not necessarily mean a boring website. It simply means that the parts users interact with appear in similar places throughout the site and are implemented without being overused.  A website that is consistent is the key to ensuring a great consumer experience by making navigation easy for them. Consistency also means using a similar set of fonts and not overloading your website with different calligraphy styles. So to keep your website consistent, make sure to limit your font usage two family font groups only.

Do Not Overload Your Website with Too Many Fonts

Fonts are one of the most important elements in web design. That is why they must be chosen and used very well. Make sure they are readable!.  We often like a font for it’s style and form, but it may be only you can can quickly read your message when written using that font – just remember that ! You also need to choose a font that perfectly matches to your chosen text color and background color, but more than that, you need to practice discipline when using fonts.

Remember the principle of consistency. Sure, it is fun to sprinkle your website with texts in different calligraphy styles. You may even reason that variety is good and will make your website more interesting. But, the truth is that, it will deliver a different result.

Have a look at this logo.  It is an interesting font, but looking at it too long is going to make you feel dizzy – just don’t go there.

Highlight Logo

Overloading your website with too many fonts will affect the image of credibility and professionalism you are trying to project. So, it is better to stick to using a maximum of 2 to 3 fonts that complement to your chosen color and your brand. Using too many fonts will also only make your web design look cluttered and result to confusing your visitors. Aside from causing confusion, seeing too many fonts on your site may make it hard for visitors to focus on any content laid out on the page.

To conclude, fonts are one effective way to grab visitor’s attention as soon as they enter your website. Drawing such effect is important especially if you are showcasing important information or events. On the other hand, the fonts you use can also lead to some negative effects and issues. Therefore, it is truly best to focus on maintaining a single design not just on each page, but throughout your entire website. Considering the elements you plan on using is a good way to start.

If you want a bit of further reader have a look here, it probably defines some of my thoughts a little further –

Internet Marketing – a starting point

I guess the reason I have created this blog/site is to enable me to track my internet marketing thoughts, the progression of ideas and collate things that I like, together in one place.  It is certainly not a definitive list, these are my own thoughts, so they may be a bit random, but we can be sometimes surely ?

The world of marketing carries across all types of media in a way that I think is often eclectic!  Marketing and images in general are subjective – they appeal to different people in different ways – is there a pattern or a format that we can use to appeal to the masses?

This is a question that often runs around my head, but the simple truth is that with the onset of the internet, we suddenly have a cost effective and simple way to split up lots of marketing ideas and images in to silos and run them side by side.  It is so easy to run three different adverts, which different images and slogans, but all directing back to the same product.  We can then analyse the response and adjust accordingly – something that was much more difficult in the printed media forms I was brought up on.

I guess as we move further in to an internet driven world, maybe we will change our thinking completely and call it digital marketing.  This for me, as a term, probably clarifies things in my mind – it relates to anything that is presented to the end viewer from a digital device – your fridge, TV, mobile for example.

Obviously as soon as we embrace that as a term, then the whole marketing world is turned on its head!  We need to think about every different scenario – will what we show on the fridge door of our internet connected fridge, be the same as what we show someone when they start browsing the internet – no of course not!

Digital marketing starts leading me to thoughts about Big Data, and how the Internet of Things will truly affect the way we reach out to consumers.  No longer will we be making broad brush stroke advertising campaigns, but tailoring them to the device, location and requirement of a customer.  The fridge will tell you what you need to know about products that it can store, your mobile will tell you about services and products that are near to you and your TV will tell you on a grander scale the things you really must have, but don’t already.

The more data that is stored on you, your purchasing habits, likes and dislikes, the closer the marketer can get to suggesting things you may like to purchase, before you have even thought of them – maybe this is the holy grail?

I am asking myself, how to I start to adopt, adapt and get ready for this changing market place – it is certainly a learning curve, I am willing to run with.