Posts Tagged ‘email’

10 Good Reasons to Use Email Marketing

May 7, 2011

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group, LLC

As a CEO, I wish that 30 years ago I had this extremely productive tool to communicate with my customers and prospects.

If your business is not using email marketing, then you need to make it a part of your marketing mix going forward.  What benefit will your company get from email marketing?  Here are 10 good reasons:

  1. It will increase your business cash flow:  Email marketing costs less than direct mail, television, radio and other forms of purchased media.  This means more cash for your company to use in other areas of the business.  Executed properly, over both the short-term and long-term email marketing will have your highest return on investment of any marketing channel in your business.
  2. Can segment your customer base:  Instead of a general message to a mass audience you can tailor your message to a segment of your customer base that has shown a desire for information on a specific topic, product or service that you offer. Relevant targeted content is at the heart of effective email marketing.
  3. Can build a 1 on 1 relationship:  This is not possible with television or radio.  Each email can be personalized with the recipient’s name, they can reply to what you have sent and you can directly respond to their comments or questions.  
  4. Can review response history of the individual:  Did they open the email?  Did they click-through to a link? Did they buy? Compare this to newspaper or television where you have no idea  whether your customer even knew the ad or 60 second spot even existed.
  5. Allows you to use triggered emails:  Based upon response history, you can automatically target future emails to their area of interest.  For example, if you are an attorney and your prospect clicked on an estate planning article, you can follow-up with an email on trusts.  Triggered emails can be set up by date such as birthdays, anniversaries of a successful completion of a job, for  holiday messages and many other ways.
  6. It lets your customer be in control:  Marketing has changed. The consumer now controls the relationship.  With email marketing the consumer can choose what part of the email to read, when to read it, if they want to respond to an offer and even opt out of receiving future emails if they conclude that your information is not relevant to them.  This is a good thing. The best performing company will win. Make sure its your company. 
  7. Email marketing can be synchronized with other marketing channels:  Email marketing does not have to  stand alone. You can use other channels like social media or direct mail to sign up prospects to receive emails about your company. By identifying a specific area of interest, a key person can respond with a personalized letter or phone call and not waste your prospect’s time.
  8. Can utilize education-based marketing:  Email marketing is not a sound bite or tweet.  It allows you to dig deep into a topic and educate your consumer.  Better yet, your company can send a series of emails weekly on a topic of interest.
  9. Builds brand:  A consistent ongoing message can build trust and credibility in your company. When the time finally comes to make a buying decision you will have built a reservoir of goodwill that will give you a chance to close the sale. 
  10. Can link to your website:  Your website should be treated as if it was another location of your company that is used to strengthen the relationship with a prospect or customer.  Linking to different parts of your website from an email can educate, sell, and communicate what makes your business unique.

There are some who say that email marketing is on the decline and is being replace by social media.

I disagree.

Email marketing continues to be at the core of an integrated marketing strategy that can build sales and profitability increase the cash flow of your business over the long-term.

I would be interested to know what your  experience has been with email marketing.

10 Creative Ideas To Increase Sales Now!

July 13, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

As a business owner or CEO you must create and maintain positive cash flow in your business.  It is your #1 priority.

Let’s be clear where that cash flow is not going to come from.  The amount of loans to small businesses fell in the 1rst quarter of 2010 compared to 2 years earlier.  Banks and other private lenders are being more choosy about who is getting any type of small business loan.  Regardless of good cash flow projections and collateral, some businesses still are not receiving the lines of credit needed to operate their businesses.

As an owner, I would not automatically assume funds will be available from my local lender.      

There is one solution that will work.  The small business owner must find ways to increase sales.  The smart owner has already cut expenses, gotten extended terms from suppliers and probably tapped into personal investments.  More sales will bring more of the business cash flow your company needs to survive and grow.

Your company will need to do creative and unique tactics to spring loose the purse strings of the consumer or business who is your customer.

Start doing these 10 things today to increase sales:

  1. Learn more about the needs and wants of your customer.  Find better solutions to their problems and market to that.  In one word, “listen” to the individual customer more than before.  You may find that there is a whole category of products or services your company should have been selling to him that will increase your sales.
  2. Monitor and use social media.  There are many ways to use social media to generate sales.  The overriding method is to use social media to build relationships with customers and noncustomers.  Monitor for  complaints about competitors and offer a solution.  Monitor for complaints about your own company and be there to take ownership of the problem.  Incorporate surveys, contests, and links to websites, including your own.  All of this can position your company as a credible source of information. The end result will be an opportunity to create a new customer.
  3. Use email marketing to strengthen customer relationships.  This is not an opportunity to just email blast special offers constantly.  Instead, use emails to target a message about the benefits of your product, new information on your industry, an interview with a local business leader or an update on coming events involving your company.  Email marketing is an inexpensive way to stay in touch with your customer.  A call to action can still be included to trigger additional purchases.
  4. Get lapsed customers reinstated.  If you sell to other businesses then call on the company.  If you sell to consumers then send a personalized letter to each customer with a special coupon.  Don’t let them forget about you.
  5. Offer extended terms.  Help your customer finance the purchase.  Chances are your customer needs your product.  Here is a way to show that you are there to help them.  Instead of normal 30 day terms, extend out to 60 or 90 days.  Of course, make sure this offer is to creditworthy customers.
  6. Offer an unusual promotion.  Check the gross margin of your most popular products and offer something different to pry loose the spending of your prospect.  It may be a discount, a free service with purchase or a bundling of products.
  7. Run a 3 day limited promotion.  Make it unadvertised and exclusive to your customer database.  Communicate this with an email and followup contact by phone or in person.
  8. Offer a special after hours private shopping event.  If you are a retailer, tie in with a local not for profit and include their database in the invitation list.  Have a portion of the proceeds go to the charity.  Include wine, music, and giveaways at the event.  This could easily be held on a Saturday or Sunday evening.
  9. Create a white paper.  Your prospects and customers are probably having cash flow issues also.  Offer tips on how to save cash.  This will work for both businesses and consumers.  They will appreciate the free advice and use their new-found cash to spend on your products or services.
  10. Ask for and get testimonials.  Then send them out with a promotion to both prospects and customers.  There is no method of advertising more effective than a third-party advocate.  By including existing customers it will reinforce that they made the right decision by buying from your company. 

Use one or more of these ideas to pump up sales and increase cash flow.  Keep track of results and show your banker the action plan, goals, and the resulting increase in sales. 

You may see your banker wanting to make a loan to this well run growing business of yours.

14 Reasons A Company Should Use Internet Marketing To Increase Sales And Business Cash Flow

June 22, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

I envy the manager of today that is  just graduating from business school.  They have a tool available to them that I wished that I had for most of my 30 years as a CEO.  That tool is the Internet.  I can only imagine how this productive tool for generating sales will evolve over time.

It is an exciting time to be the Director of Marketing of any organization.  If your mission is to build brand, generate leads, expand a relationship with your customer, or simply surpass a sales plan, then the Internet must be part of an integrated marketing communications strategy.

For you business owners still not sure whether the Internet is worth spending your company’s marketing dollars this way, then here are a few thoughts of mine on why the Internet needs to be a part of your future:

  1. Pay for Performance:  As a CEO nothing gets better than this.  Using pay-per-click advertising that is  correctly executed allows your company to only pay if a prospect clicks on your ad.  Compare that to a TV spot on the evening news.  You pay for that spot whether your prospect is watching or not.  It’s the same with the newspaper.  Regardless of the location of the ad, you will be writing a check to the newspaper gods even if your prospect is on vacation and did not read the paper that day.  By the way, I predict that all digital newspaper sites will eventually go to pay for performance advertising.
  2. 24 Hour Marketing:  With a website, blog or video on YouTube the Internet offers an around the clock opportunity to deliver your message.  The prospect can log on when they want and you know your message will be delivered.  Compare this to event marketing or a showroom with limited hours, or a radio spot that is only for 60 seconds.  You get more bang for your buck.
  3. Results Can Be Measured:  How many readers really saw the newspaper ad?  How many listeners really heard your radio spot?  How many visitors to a trade show really walked down the aisle of your exhibit?  With Google analytics (read more here about Google)  your company can track how many visitors came to your website, how  many seconds or minutes they stayed, what percent were repeat visitors and on and on.  With analytics for the Internet you will know what pages were read and what pages were not visited at all.  You can even determine what part of the page was viewed.  With good timely accurate information, the Marketing Manager can then make the Internet investment more productive than what is happening with your non-Internet marketing today.
  4. Used To Build Database:  By using such tools as white papers and giveaways, your company can build a database of interested prospects from your website  to then establish a relationship with over time.  This beats buying a list tied to some demographic sampling that maybe could care less who your company is.
  5. Email Marketing:  This is possibly the highest return on investment outside of word of mouth.  For pennies a business can send enewsletters to a pre-qualified database that you generated.  The enewsletters can be segmented based upon the information the prospect wanted so only relevant content needs to be delivered.  The Marketing Manager can judge the performance of this tool by measuring how many readers opened the email and read it.  Email analytics can also tell what day of the week and what hour of the day is best to send the enewsletter.  Probably the most important aspect of email marketing is allowing the company to build a relationship with the prospect or existing customer.  An effective email marketing campaign provides information and a solution to problems of the reader.  It is not just used to deliver a call to action for a promotion.  For more information on effective email marketing go to the website of Exacttarget right here.
  6. Can Reach a Younger Customer:  Instead of hoping a younger demographic comes to your website, you can go where they are.  This can be done by advertising on sites most frequently visited by a young prospect group.  For instance, your company might advertise to young males on the ESPN site or to young female entrepreneurs on a women’s business blog.
  7. You Can Target Market to Almost Anyone:  By utilizing keywords in your organic or pay-per-click marketing strategy your company can send your message to a specific segment of customers in almost any defined geographic market for a predetermined price.
  8. Education Based Marketing:  The consumer is getting smarter and now controls the buy-sell relationship.  Before engaging the seller, the consumer will first take time to educate themselves thoroughly about the product or service they are seeking.  This will be done primarily over the Internet.  Those companies that will take the time to help the consumer by answering their questions and providing good information will gain credibility in the  mind of the buyer.  When she finally decides to purchase, the company that took the time to provide the knowledge she desired will be first on her list to be shopped.  The buying funnel or buying decision cycle has been extended by the consumer spending more time gathering information prior to the buying step.  Make sure your company is the one educating her.
  9. Mobile Marketing:  I predict this will be the most dominant marketing channel in the future.  Consumers are already accessing coupons at the checkout counter on their smartphones.  Will you be ready?
  10. Speed of Message:  In the past if sales were horrible and I wanted to execute a quick promotion it necessitated producing and sending a direct mail piece or producing a TV or radio spot.  If we moved fast enough it might happen in 7-10 days.  Now, if the marketing team this morning wanted to communicate a promotion, it can be delivered via email to the customer database before the sun goes down.  Maybe they would follow-up with another promotion in a couple of days.  Not only is it much faster than before but it is also far less expensive.
  11. Use of Video:  If you want to personalize the message there is no better way than the owner of the business looking into the camera and speaking one on one to the prospect or customer.  Some consumers do not want to read copy.  The video can be used to create traffic to your website, educate the consumer, or be part of a strong call to action.  Video on the Internet tends to be very short in duration and much less expensive than producing a TV spot.  Therefore, video marketing needs to become a strategy in itself.
  12. Build Brand thru Social Media:  All forms of social media such as Twitter or Facebook can be used to build a dialogue with prospects and customers.  This can be the first step in building a relationship that will turn into a sale.  Forums and consumer sites on the Internet can work to the benefit of a business or against it.  Social media is the new word of mouth marketing.  Make sure your company knows how to use it to its best advantage.
  13. Test Headlines and Copy:  By combining analytics with pay-per-click, a company can test various headlines, copy and promotions prior to running a newspaper ad or producing a direct mail piece.  For a nominal investment you will know ahead of time which headlines and promotions the consumer will best respond to.
  14. It’s the Future:  Internet marketing is less than 20 years old.  Yet the estimated dollars to be spent annually in online marketing is expected to surpass $30 billion in the next few years.  At the same time advertising on radio, TV and newspaper is struggling to show any increase.  The message is clear.  Online marketing will continue to outpace other methods of advertising.  A major reason is simply the ability to better measure results from the dollars invested through the Internet.

Will the Internet be a part of your company’s future?

It had better be because it definitely will be a part of your customer’s future.

Halt Next Day Delivery And Increase Your Business Cash Flow

June 18, 2010

by Doug Smith, President, The Woodhaven Group

It’s the little things that can blow a hole in your business cash flow.

Take for instance next day delivery.  As much as I like and am impressed by the efficiency of FedEx and UPS to deliver a letter or package overnight, I see too many businesses that still spend extra cash overnighting documents that can be sent using less expensive options. You should take time to identify how much this expense is costing your company annually.  You will be surprised how high it is.  

My suggestion is to establish a written policy of what documents must be overnighted such as a proposal that must meet a deadline in order to get an important sale.  Instead of overnighting a check for the payment of an invoice, use an ACH payment process if it absolutely has to arrive by the next day. 

Other correspondence can be sent by regular mail and should arrive in 3-5 days which, I have found, is sufficient for most business transactions that has to arrive as a hard copy.  In most cases business correspondence can be sent by fax or email attachment.

Don’t underestimate the potential cash savings by doing this.  If your employees still overnight documents instead of the less expensive options available, then you may find there are thousands of dollars that can be put to better use growing your market share.