Posts Tagged ‘your’

Multi-Channel Retailing and the Buyer’s Journey: Opportunities and Challenges

Multi-Channel Retailing

Most online sellers begin their journey from one sales channel, setting up shop through a website or marketplace.

Buyers, on the other hand, have many touchpoints and paths to purchase, so it becomes necessary for retailers to branch out.

Multi-channel retailing is the practice of selling merchandise on more than one sales channel.

It’s all about moving beyond your website and exploring channels such as marketplaces, social media, and comparison shopping engines.

Consumers Are Shopping in More Locations Than Ever

Shoppers have many sites to choose from, online and offline.

A report by BigCommerce confirms that buyers across several age groups are shopping from multiple sales channels.

According to the survey of American shoppers:

74% shopped at large retailers.
54% shopped at ecommerce marketplaces.
44% shopped at web stores.
36% shopped at category-specific online retailers.

Channel loyalty has become a thing of the past.

Let’s take Amazon Prime Day, for example.

Most people would assume that only Amazon sellers would benefit from the traffic boost, given that the sales event is intended for Prime members.

But according to a study by BazaarVoice, 76% of Prime Day shoppers plan to visit other channels before purchasing from Amazon.

Even Amazon shoppers compare pricing and reviews on various sites. They are looking at:

Walmart (46%)
Consumer electronics websites (45%)
Target (40%)
Home improvement websites (39%)
Brand websites (39%).

Multi-channel retailers that implement an effective diversification strategy will not only maximize reach but also sales opportunity.

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Advantages of Multi-Channel Retailing

Multi-channel retailing helps ensure you reach your audience wherever they are on their buyer’s journey, as well as their device preferences.

With mobile devices handy, there’s no limit to where shoppers can discover and purchase items.

1. Target consumers at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Multi-Channel Retailing channel buyers journey

Unless hit by a strong urgency, most shoppers who see your product for the first time are not ready to buy.

Most people like to browse, read reviews, and compare pricing.

In the age of free shipping, 2-day shipping, and ship-to-store options, consumers can afford to wait.

This is why understanding the buyer’s journey and adopting a multi-channel strategy can give you an edge over the competition.

On the top of the funnel, consumers might discover your product through social media, perhaps through an influencer they follow on Instagram or an image on Pinterest.

Affiliate marketing and educational content that answers user queries can also drive new visitors to your shop.

Other shoppers might not be searching for a specific product, but they are looking for content to help them solve a problem, such as how to clean a carpet stain or what to wear for a certain occasion.

Great SEO on your site, blog or product descriptions will help shoppers in the consideration stage.

Consumers with an intent to purchase will likely go directly to marketplaces or comparison shopping engines.

In fact, more than half of buyers start their product search on Amazon over Google.

These platforms offer not only traffic but also a trust factor through peer reviews.

2. Leverage the power of marketplaces and search engines.

Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and even Google are all competing for ecommerce market share, and retailers are smack in the middle. A single-channel seller might suffer if one company overpowers the other, but multi-channel sellers tend to have more freedom and flexibility.

Multi-Channel Retailing customer insights

The most important feature to look out for is artificial intelligence.

These tech giants are all working on creating personalized shopping experiences, helping consumers find the right product at the right time.

From marketplace algorithms to better search results, multi-channel retailing lets you harness this technology, allowing your products to be found.

The trust factor is also another reason to consider marketplaces and comparison shopping engines.

Fake reviews aside, most shoppers go to these sites due to their reputation and the availability of product ratings and peer reviews.

In fact, 65% of consumers surveyed by DigitalCommerce360 said that they felt comfortable purchasing from third-party sellers they never heard of before on marketplaces.

Disadvantages of Multi-Channel Retailing

While the opportunities for multi-channel sellers are plenty, there are also risks and challenges. Sellers too eager to jump on the multi-channel bandwagon could spread themselves too thin.

Brands must first do their research, do a cost–benefit analysis, and establish an infrastructure to support the multi-channel growth.

1. Selling on the wrong channels.

While diversification is key to reaching a larger audience, launching on an irrelevant channel can do more damage than good.

A spray and pray tactic will not work, as you risk promoting products to the wrong community, audience or industry.

If you’re selling computer parts, for instance, Newegg would be a better choice than Jet.

Before selling on these sites, you’ll need to make sure you’re targeting the right market, otherwise, you would just waste resources and manpower.

Aside from the listing fees, your team will have to deal with varying category trees, rules and policies, and backend platforms that could change from time to time. Not to mention, it takes time to write, publish, optimize and reprice listings for each of these channels.

On top of this, the channel may already be crowded with competitors.

A good way to minimize this risk is to carefully evaluate each marketplace and experiment until you find a niche for your business.

2. An infrastructure required to maintain multi-channel retailing.

Once you start selling on two or more platforms, you might start experiencing growth pains.

Listing on channels, maintaining inventory, processing orders, and providing customer service can all take a toll on your business if you do not have good processes and foundations in place.

There are two ways to fix this: scale your team or use automation tools to support your growth.

Without doing one or the other, you risk creating a backlog of orders, tasks, and refunds that could really hurt your brand and marketplace score.

Types of Sales Channels

Consumers today have become multi-channel shoppers, and retailers today must understand each channel type to determine its value.

Some channels work better for different stages of the buyer’s journey.

1. Social media channels.

Social media is a great way for people to discover new products and stores.

Influencers share their experiences every day and sponsored posts could drive traffic, if not sales.

Instagram and Pinterest allow you to tag products for purchase, and this trend only growing.

Even if you are a reseller or distributor of branded merchandise, you’ll want to invest in social media to engage and build relationships with your audience.

2. Your website and shopping cart.

A web store is an essential channel for all kinds of retailers, primarily because it lets you customize and personalize the shopping experience.

With a website, you can create educational content to solve user queries and attract new visitors.

You can also take advantage of email marketing for lead nurturing and brand advocacy.

3. Comparison shopping engines.

Price and convenience are the two most influential factors in purchasing decisions.

Multi-Channel Retailing shopper influences

Comparison shopping engines such as Google Shopping, Shopzilla, and PriceGrabber give fast pricing information to shoppers at their disposal.

As a seller, you can bid on traffic as part of your paid advertising strategy.

4. Marketplaces.

Marketplaces are best for buyers in the consideration and decision stages where shoppers have the intent to purchase and tend to already have a brand or product in mind.

There are three kinds of marketplaces: vertical, horizontal, and global ones, each with varying category and assortment levels.

Understanding Multi-Channel Inventory Management

Multi-Channel Retailing inventory management

Inventory management is easy if you sell on one or two channels. But when you scale the platforms you sell on, inventory tracking and forecasting become incredibly difficult.

When orders come in from disparate sources, real-time inventory syncing becomes necessary to achieve good fulfillment performance.

Multi-Channel Retailing-inventory-management

Poor scores and bad ratings can eventually lead to account suspension.

Things get further complicated when you add more partners into the mix.

As a multi-channel seller, you’ve probably explored new suppliers to increase product lines.

Similarly, fulfillment options such as Amazon FBA, drop shipping, and third-party logistics (3PLs) help accelerate growth.

The challenge is how to develop an infrastructure that can support this growth while also maintaining profit.

Managing stock through spreadsheets and outdated tracking systems will likely lead to overselling, understocking, and backorders, all of which lead to a negative customer experience.

On the other hand, overstocking and piling up dead inventory will tie up your cash flow, severely limiting your options.

This is where multi-channel inventory software comes in.

These programs are designed to connect with various channels and partners through API or EDI, so you can have real-time stock levels across your channels, warehouses, and fulfillment providers.

Multi-Channel Product Information Management

Multi-Channel Retailing PIM

As you expand to additional channels, the product information you use to market effectively in one channel will likely need to be altered and optimized for another channel.

Tracking this information and copy and pasting it from a Google Doc or Spreadsheet in manual, and can create errors.

Many brands use a Product Information Management system (PIM) as a single source of product information truth across channels.

Many of these systems can also help you to optimize your listings, as well as automate updates.

Whether you are listing to marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, or needing to launching international channels – or all of it, a PIM is how some of the world’s largest brand stay organized.

Steal Skullcandy’s Game-Changing Move

A 15% increase in checkout conversions in the first 6 months convinced the Skullcandy CIO that the move from Salesforce Cloud Commerce to BigCommerce was more than worth it. 

Of course, that wasn’t the only number that convinced him. 

Read their success story

Executive Summary

Social media, comparison shopping engines, marketplaces, and your website all target different stages of the buyer’s journey. By having a presence on all these channels, you’ll achieve maximum reach.

Do this effectively, and you’ll get shoppers to keep coming back for more.

Multi-channel retailing is a necessary strategy for growth, and it comes with its own challenges and opportunities.

It, too, is part of the seller’s journey – venturing out beyond your first sales channel – and going where the buyers are.

Want more insights like this?

We’re on a mission to provide businesses like yours marketing and sales tips, tricks and industry leading knowledge to build the next house-hold name brand. Don’t miss a post. Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Read more: bigcommerce.com

Tips to Improve Your Mobile Content Marketing

Mobile Content Marketing

We love our smartphones and tablets. Usage of both devices has grown rapidly with people using their mobile devices more than their laptops. Given the fact that people are finding and consuming more content on tablets and smartphones, our inbound marketing tactics, specifically content marketing and search engine optimization, must support those devices seamlessly.

According to Google, if someone has a positive mobile experience when interacting with your brand, 89% of people are likely to recommend a brand. But if the experience is negative, 46% say they would not purchase from a brand again.

Seems rather harsh. But mobile users have expectations about the experience that should be delivered when viewing a web property from their mobile device.

What do you do when:

Web pages are slow to load
Website is not designed for smartphones
Navigation is difficult to use
Content is difficult to read

You probably go elsewhere to find what you are looking for.

Given that an increasing number of visitors are accessing your website from a mobile device, how do you give them a great experience so they stay, consume your content and build trust in your brand?

Content Marketing to Support Mobile Users

Implementing content marketing that effectively supports mobile can help you increase your conversions of visitors to leads. Consider implementing the following mobile content marketing tips to ensure mobile users can easily find and consume your content.

Convert your website to WordPress using a responsive theme

If you haven’t done this already, your website should be responsive. If your website is already using WordPress as a content management system, your first initiative needs to ready the hub of your online presence for mobile users. A responsive theme, as recommended by Google, turns your entire website, including your landing pages, into a mobile oasis for your marketing campaigns. Content gets formatted specifically for each device. Now your content is accessible across all devices providing a similar positive experience.

Responsive design is also a huge benefit to small businesses. A responsive website:

Eliminates the need for a separate mobile website.
Reduces your costs for development and maintenance.
Eliminates errors when updating the content because the same content is used across all devices.

There are many free and premium WordPress themes from which to choose. My theme framework recommendations based on experience are GeneratePress and SiteOrigin Vantage. Both offer many design features through the WordPress dashboard. Plus I use SiteOrigin’s Page Builder on both themes to make designing a quality experience easier.

Review your SEO to Incorporate Mobile SEO Best Practices

If you have already optimized your website for increased visibility, you should be in good shape for mobile search. Mobile SEO has best practices that ensure those using touch screens can search and find your business easily.

The basics – responsive design, short keyword phrases and getting listed on sites mobile users frequent – are still important activities for mobile SEO. The key is to be where mobile users search and that your web presence is easily accessible.

But now, mobile users are launching searches using voice search. And voice search is changing the way Google handles search queries and marketers handle SEO. You need to think about what the user intends to do when they search.

If someone searches for “change a tire”, are they looking for content on how to change a tire or are they stuck somewhere with a flat tire and needs a service to change a tire. Most likely using voice search, they will say “local service to change a tire”. Keep this in mind when writing content. Be more specific in your choice of keyword phrases and the intent of the person searching.

Ensure your email marketing service supports mobile

Those who have already opted into your email list may already be reading your eNewsletter or blog posts on their mobile device. Make sure you review your email on your mobile devices when you are testing the campaign to ensure it works as expected.

Also, investigate how your email service provide supports mobile devices and that it can be easily read whether they are on your website or reading it via email.

Given the importance of your content marketing activities, be creative on where and how you get people to opt-in to your list so you can provide them with the content they seek. Add your signup form to your Facebook Page. Use creative offers offline to encourage signups online.

Write your content for mobile first

When people speak about mobile first, it’s not to ignore those on a desktop. It’s about creating a better experience for all users, but especially those consuming your content on a smaller device.

Shorten your headlines to ensure the benefit of reading it is evident
Break your content into shorter paragraphs and use heading and subheadings throughout.
Use a larger font on your website.
Use bullets and white space so people can skim.
Proofread your content and eliminate unnecessary content.

Regardless of which platform the visitor is using to read your content, it has to offer value. Rich, informative content will keep your target reader engaged. When you have written the content that concisely answers the questions your customers want answered, then remember to structure the content for those on mobile devices.

Mobile is another marketing channel, not just a new technology

Marketing on the mobile channel can be quite complicated depending on what you are trying to accomplish. There are many strategies that can be used to reach your targeted buyer via their mobile device. If you want to implement mobile marketing, you need to develop a separate marketing plan specifically for mobile to ensure you can be effective.

But a good place to start is getting your mobile content marketing strategy implemented properly.

Write in-depth content to inform and educate your readers.
Update your website to a responsive design.
Ensure your email campaigns properly support mobile.
Confirm that your content is easily read on a smartphone.

Once this is in place, you can now define other marketing strategies to reach your mobile customer more easily. If you keep mobile support in mind whenever you consider new marketing campaigns, you will be in a better position than your competitors.

How are you incorporating mobile marketing into your overall marketing strategy?

content management system

Read more: feedproxy.google.com

Podcast Ep. 102: On ‘Failing’ (Why Are You Still Single? Why Aren’t You More Successful?)

Sometimes we want one step to cover off all steps. Nat Lue on Fear of Failure, Fear of Success

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts | Soundcloud | Android

In this week’s episode of The Baggage Reclaim Sessions, I face down the task of sharing a somewhat private struggle — fear of failure, fear of success.

About fear of failure, fear of success

From @natlue Instagram Stories

Some nuggets about help versus support from the episode:

“One of the great myths that a lot of people peddle to themselves is this notion that once you’ve done a little bit of self-work, or once you get into a relationship; or once you have the job you want (or the business/child/house/money/right breasts/waist size or whatever it is) that everything will come together. That you won’t have to do any more work — and that’s just not true.”
“What we want, including me, is to do a little bit of work and be sorted. We don’t want to have lessons all the time. We’re like, ‘Jaysus, what the hell’s going on with this? Why have I got another lesson?”
Everybody has a struggle. Mine is fear of failure, fear of success. Other people I know it’s fertility or not being in the relationship they want. There’s something.
I talk about this sense of being behind schedule and needing to catch up, and how we settle for less than what we need, desire and deserve as a result.
Sometimes we need to talk to our loved ones about our struggles so that they can mirror to us who we really are.
As we move up in our life, our old fears rear their heads in new ways. “New level, new devil” as Denise Duffield-Thomas says.
I talk about how you think stuff like, This doesn’t look how I thought it would look after I worked for it so I must be failing. I must be getting it wrong. I must be no the wrong path. This kind of thinking causes us to go round in circles.
We don’t know how growth looks so sometimes when we’re in the raw, when we’re in the deep, when we’re in the pain is when we’re actually doing the greatest amount of growth. But for us, we think we’re sinking right down to the bottom with rocks tied around our bloody ankles.”
I talk about the murky world of business Facebook groups that have an almost pyramid scheme feel to them.
Sometimes when we listen to our inner voice, and it’s asking us to trust ourselves or to keep going, our rational brain goes, “You’re not a business expert” or “You don’t know about email marketing” or “You don’t know how to get a relationship”. This is us being simplistic with our inner voice or intuition. We then keep turning back to the gurus and disregard innate knowledge that we have from within.
A lot of the time, we want the gratification. We want the pat on the back. At every step. “I would try something and not get an instant result. You’ve just taken one step. Maybe you’ve got to take ten, maybe you’ve got to take twenty. But you want an immediate pat on the back, immediate signs that you’re on the right path.”
Before you beat yourself up for not being perfect, for fucking up, for not being as successful as [whoever you compare yourself to], remember that you are not alone in your struggle or in feeling as you do. You might beat yourself up about relationships. Someone else beats themselves up about their body, or not being as successful as they think they should be, or about not having the 'right' background/family/experiences. The best thing you can do is talk about it and cut yourself some slack.

From @natlue Instagram stories

“Sometimes we want one step to cover off all steps.”

We want certainty. We want to know that if we take this step that we have proof that everything is going to go our way and go according to plan. That’s just not how life works. We’ve got to take a step, any step, however imperfect it might be… and then take another and tweak and listen along the way.”
If your role within your family is to be the one who doesn’t do as well as someone else (or who has to be the high achiever), you will sabotage your growth. You will grapple with conflicting feelings from being over-responsible.
Sometimes my inner critic tells me that I should be setting a better example. I’m not setting an example by being a perfectionist. What kind of example is that going to set?
When people say stuff like ‘Why are you still single? Why aren’t you more successful? Why don’t you have a book deal?’ it feels to us as if they’re looking for the bad smell, the horns and tail, the secret problem. It’s like, ‘You should be able to get it together by society’s standards so, what’s wrong with you?’ This stuff worms its way into your psyche when you’re vulnerable due to going through challenges.
I have reckoned with this silent shame. We all have it. Everybody has something. Business is therapy so you what you won’t deal with in your interpersonal relationships, you’ll deal with at (or through your) work.
We have to be careful of hanging everything on a particular outcome while missing lots of other things along the way.
“Sometimes we want something so badly that it feels like a need, and it because it feels like a need, we start doing things that take us out of alignment. Whereas if we can acknowledge that yeah, we want this stuff, but we’re not about to crucify ourselves in order to get it, then we can actually move towards these things while still trying to enjoy our life and without losing sight of who we are.”
My plan is not the plan. “I’m not supposed to be the forty-year-old celebrated, best-selling author.”

Links mentioned

Episode 40 link
Kisstory
Professor Life
Gay Hendricks – The Big Leap
Giving Up The Role of Being Over-responsible
Podcast episode about being over-responsible
‘Outsideriness’ on Instagram

Next stop

If you enjoyed the show, please share the episode – every little helps. Email someone who you think this show is relevant to or use the share buttons at the top and bottom of this episode.

Subscribe and/or leave a review on iTunes (how-to guide here)–it really helps in growing the show! If you’re new to podcasts, find out more about what they are and how to subscribe with this handy guide.

Have a great weekend!

The post Podcast Ep. 102: On ‘Failing’ (Why Are You Still Single? Why Aren’t You More Successful?) appeared first on Baggage Reclaim with Natalie Lue.

Read more: baggagereclaim.co.uk

How to Sell Books: The Introverted Author’s Guide

For years, I didn’t know how I was ever going to sell books. I’m painfully shy and, unfortunately, have a complexion that tends to redden easily. Like lava-covered-tomato red. The idea of calling someone, sometimes even people I know, gets my heart racing. The idea of standing in front of a small group of people and talking is my worst nightmare. And don’t even get me started on going to conferences and the like. Oh, the terror.

The Introverted Author's Guide to How to Sell Books

None of this is really news for writers. “Writer” and “extrovert” don’t often appear in the same sentence. Day-to-day our hermitic proclivities aren’t really a problem. We happily plug away at our keyboards in a dark room somewhere and don’t have to deal with another soul.

Until we want to sell our books.

Selling anything requires talking. To people. About yourself and your work. Yuck.

Luckily, we have the internet, the savior of introverts world-over. There are plenty of ways for the shy to use this handy tool to promote themselves and their work! Wondering how to sell books, even if you’re an introvert and have no interest in selling anything? Look no further.

5 Semi-Social Ways Introverts Can Sell Books

Where should you go? What’s a waste of time? What are the easiest ways to reach the most people? (And please don’t make me talk to anyone in person!)

Here are five sure-fire ways you can sell books if you’re an introvert:

1. Author website

Websites are a must. Think about it: How aggravating is it when you’re looking for a business’s information and all they have is a Facebook page? Or worse, nothing at all? I don’t know about you, but I’m prone to just moving on if that’s the case.

Websites are how people find out more about you, how they connect with you, and how they discover your work. And, no, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to set one up. You can do it yourself, for free or at very little cost. Plus, this is the only way to build an email list so you can directly communicate with, and sell things to, your fans.

It’s almost impossible to figure out how to sell books online without an author website, so creating your site should be your first step.

“Thanks to the internet, there are many ways to sell books without ever talking to someone in person. They all start with an author website.Tweet this
2. Social media

Another must. Sorry. I know a lot of people hate the idea of any form of social media. The thing is, social media is just a form of communication.

Twenty years ago, if you wanted to sell something, you put it in the classifieds, staked cardboard signs at the end of your street, and hung fliers with those phone number tags to pull off. (Please tell me I’m not the only one who remembers these things!)

Now you post on social. Same thing, but you reach a TON more people.

Of course, how much you do on social media depends on what you’re comfortable with and which medium you mesh with. Don’t want to talk? Instagram might be your thing. Mainly want to share things? Go with Facebook. Are you naturally snarky? Twitter’s probably your soulmate.

Wondering how to sell books on social media, especially Twitter? Here are my best tips.

3. Guest blog posts

Guest posting on a blog can be awesome when you’re promoting yourself and/or your work.

Sometimes the blogger will send you a few interview questions and that’s the guest blog. More often than not, you’ll write a short article giving information and plugging your work at the same time. Don’t worry, you have something to say about your preferred genre or writing in general.

Bloggers are always looking for content, so don’t be afraid to get in touch with those you don’t know as well as those you do!

4. Blog tours

These require a bit of work but are worth it. Sometimes a blogger will interview you for the tour, which is a ton of fun (and predominately via email, so it’s introvert-friendly). Sometimes you can develop cover art and banners to dole out for blogger use.

You can also provide free content so the blogger can post a review of your work or even provide an excerpt for their readers. Giveaways are also popular for tours.

It’s really up to you; anything goes as long as the blogger agrees!

Remember: The bloggers are doing you a favor, so make their work as easy as possible and they’ll be more likely to agree to the tour.

5. Your cartel

Unlike selling door-to-door, selling books these days requires a cartel of people who agree to promote you and your work. Ideally, you’d do some version of everything I’ve listed above AND have a plan to send your little army of promotion minions into the world (virtual and real) to promote you. A cartel is active promotion rather than posting something no one will see.

If you want to take your writing seriously, and if you want to sell books, you must have a cartel.

(If you want to learn more about building and utilizing a cartel, check this out. And if you’d like to build your cartel, why not join the Story Cartel Course?)

Figuring out how to sell books is a learned skill just as much as writing is. Don’t go it alone — be sure to find your cartel.

BONUS: Non-internet related sales

Get creative! Look for ways to sell books to your local community as well as strangers on the internet.

I’ve seen authors leave goodie bags at libraries, hang posters, and put bookmarks at store checkouts. People love free stuff. Just make sure the swag, whatever it is, has enough information that the future fan can find your work easily.

(I know this requires talking to librarians and shopkeepers, but that’s not that bad. You can do it! And this is such a unique way to get the word out that it’s worth the minor anxiety!)

How to Sell Books: Don’t Discount the Tried-and-True

To be clear, I’m not saying you’ll never have to talk to another person again if you just use the internet. The previous tips are there to add to your arsenal. I still recommend doing signings, attending conferences, and good old-fashioned hawking from the back of your car.

Just know that you don’t have to rely solely on those icky extroverted things to sell books.

Which of these suggestions have you done to sell your work? Do you have any other suggestions for how to sell books? Let me know in the comments!

PRACTICE

Today I want you to imagine either you or a character you choose is giving a talk or book reading at a library. Think about how you feel, how big the crowd is, whether the jokes land, etc. Add as much description, emotional and otherwise, as possible.

Write for fifteen minutes, then share your writing in the comments. Don’t forget to comment on your fellow writers’ work!

The post How to Sell Books: The Introverted Author’s Guide appeared first on The Write Practice.

books

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Are You Embarrassed by Your Video Marketing Efforts? Don’t Miss This Virtual Conference

How to Create Professional Video Ads with Zero Knowhow

If you are using video as part of your marketing strategy, #CouchCon wants you to pull up a chair and join the virtual conference on Tuesday, August 14, 2018.

You will learn how to optimize video marketing with experts from Wistia, HubSpot, LinkedIn, Unbounce, Buffer and others.

The conversation will include Wistia CEO Chris Savage, who will discuss new ways you should think about video, the marketing funnel and opportunities you might be missing out on.

The virtual conference will also cover conversion optimization, email marketing, social media, content strategy and more.

So make sure to click the register button and get your favorite couch, desk or lounge chair ready.

Register Now

Featured Events, Contests and Awards

CouchCon by Wistia: The Free Virtual Deep-Dive into MarketingCouchCon by Wistia: The Free Virtual Deep-Dive into Marketing
August 14, 2018, Online

Save your seat for CouchCon – a virtual conference on all things video marketing. Wistia’s lined up 13 industry leaders who’ve used video to solve some of their biggest marketing challenges and are eager to share how you can do the same. From creating successful video campaigns to engaging with your audience, each session is designed to help provide marketers like you with advanced techniques to take your video marketing game to the next level. Whether you’re watching CouchCon from your living room, the local coffee shop, or the office, it’s all completely free. That means you can get access to all sorts of awesome video marketing content without spending a penny or leaving your couch! Join thousands of other marketers and register today.

WEBINAR August 15, 2PM ET (11AM PT): How Mobile Ate the Web - and 7 Ways Small Businesses Can Capitalize WEBINAR August 15, 2PM ET (11AM PT): How Mobile Ate the Web – and 7 Ways Small Businesses Can Capitalize
August 15, 2018, Online

Browsing via mobile devices has overtaken and now exceeds desktop computer browsing. Sadly, most marketers and business owners still look at their company web presence using desktop devices – but that’s not what most of their visitors are seeing! Visitors are seeing it through mobile devices. In this webinar we’ll explore how users find and get to businesses using mobile devices. We’ll look at the latest trends, and whether your business needs them or should ignore them, including:
AMP (accelerated mobile pages), progressive Web apps vs true mobile apps, mobile templates vs responsive websites, the search engine “knowledge panel” for your business, the mobile-first Google index, leveraging third party reviews and their impact on mobile visitors, and much more. Join us on August 15, 2PM ET (11AM PT) by registering today!

Growth & Success ConGrowth & Success Con
September 17, 2018, Online

This small business virtual conference is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs at all stages who are stuck in the daily grind of building their businesses and struggle to get solid advice and guidance. An amazing panel of experts in various disciplines and business coaches will share tips & tricks on topics including Growth, Marketing, Management & Business Building for Success. Register today!

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August 22, 2018, Sydney, Australia
Culture Talk: Culture and Cultural Identity
August 23, 2018, Online
The Sales Development Conference San Francisco August 30th 2018 Tenbound
August 30, 2018, San Francisco, California
TECHSPO London 2018
September 05, 2018, London, NSW
DigiMarCon Europe 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
September 05, 2018, London, United Kingdom
DigiMarCon UK 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
September 05, 2018, London, London
HR Technology Conference and Exposition
September 11, 2018, Online
DigiMarCon India 2018 – Digital Marketing Conference
September 19, 2018, Online

More Contests

Public Vote to Crown America’s Most Unique Small Business Underway
November 08, 2018,

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.

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This article, “Are You Embarrassed by Your Video Marketing Efforts? Don’t Miss This Virtual Conference” was first published on Small Business Trends

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10 Expert Tips for Communicating with Current and New Customers

Anne Ackroyd

Communicating with customers is a key part of any marketing strategy. But it’s not just about marketing to new customers. Your strategy should also focus on retaining current customers and turning them into enthusiastic brand advocates. Here are some expert tips from members of the online small business community to help you shape your strategy.

Structure Your Email Program to Retain Customers

Email marketing is often more about cultivating repeat business than about gaining new customers. So your messages should be tailored toward retaining customers. In this Marketing Land post, Sam Welch offers some tips for structuring an email program to achieve this goal.

Increase Profits by Focusing on Customer Retention Strategies

Many businesses focus on acquiring new customers in order to grow. While new customers are important, you do need to be careful of not neglecting the ones you’ve already cultivated. Here are some tips for increasing profits by focusing on customer retention from Neil Patel of Quick Sprout.

Develop an Effective Product Launch Strategy

When you launch a new product, you need an effective communication strategy to get the word out to your current customers and potential new ones. Here are some insights from Chris London on the Pixel Productions blog on the subject. Then check out the BizSugar community to see what members are saying.

Find the Missing Link in Your Lead Generation Strategy

If you’re working to increase sales by generating new leads, it’s important to cover every step of the process. But there’s one area where some marketers tend to overlook or make mistakes. You can learn more in this DIY Marketers post by Ivana Taylor.

Learn How to Change Your Paid Social Media Activities

If you’re investing actual dollars into your social media campaigns, you want to be extra sure that your investment is making an impact. So it can help to keep up with trends and changes as they happen. Read this Prepare 1 post by Blair Evan Ball to learn more about this concept and what other businesses are doing.

Send the Right Message with Your Data

Lots of businesses are using data to personalize their marketing messages. However, sometimes making decisions or automating things based purely on cold data can send the wrong message to consumers. Jill Kourtis shares an example and discusses further in this Target Marketing post.

Perform Better in Personalized Search

Search engines are delivering results that are more personalized than ever. So as a business, this gives you an opportunity to show up with the most relevant possible consumers. But you might need to make some changes in order to achieve this goal. Here are some tips for performing better in personalized searches from Aleh Barysevich of Search Engine Journal.

Turn Fans into Brand Champions

It’s not enough to just get people to like your brand. If you want to succeed, you need to actually get people to be enthusiastic about purchasing from you and sharing your message. In this Social Media Examiner post, Anne Ackroyd details how you can do just that.

Don’t Limit Your Competitive Efforts with These Myths

The things you believe can make a major impact on how you run your business. So if you fall for certain myths or falsehoods, it could harm your business in a completely unnecessary way. In this Startup Professionals Musings post, Martin Zwilling explains some of the myths you shouldn’t fall for. And BizSugar members shared thoughts on the post here.

Save Your Small Business with Technology

Technology can make an impact on seemingly every facet of your business. But some companies still tend to overlook some of its uses. In this post on the Smallbiztechnology.com blog, Megan Totka details a few of the ways that new tech can really save your business.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to: [email protected]

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This article, “10 Expert Tips for Communicating with Current and New Customers” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Marketing Automation Part II: Which Marketing Automation Tools Should I Use?

We started off last week with an introduction to marketing automation and a brief overview of how it can increase revenue and build a stronger brand for your company. In this week’s segment, I’m going to walk you through the specific automated tools that marketing automation can offer you and the benefits to each. By the end of this segment, you should be able to identify what kind of automation your company should implement.

Each organization has different goals and thus different marketing automation needs. MarTech has expanded to such an extent that choosing a program and even beginning to address what tools you need can seem overwhelming. The options presented in the infographic below might look a little like how your brain feels when weighing all the marketing automation tools available.

analytics software

First, we will get a handle on what types of marketing automation exist, so you can get a big-picture view of what is available. Remember, you don’t have to (and shouldn’t) start out automating everything at once. There will always be a learning curve when you implement any new software – it will take time to get your team up to speed so that programs can be maximized to their full potential.

Process, Process, Process

Luckily, all automation tools fall into five main categories: CRM, email marketing, overall marketing, social media, and analytics. Before we look at how to identify what might be the best fit for your company, here is an outline of the five different ways software can automate your processes, compiled by Marketing Insider Group.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) means treating each individual customer as if they’re your only customer. CRM software means timely communication at the customer level with personalized content. Automating CRM can mean anything from having a programmed bot respond to social media inquiries to adding completed submission forms to your list of leads. CRM automation is for a forward-focused company with lots of leads to handle or new segments to explore. While you don’t necessarily need to go with the biggest name out there, many companies choose to use Salesforce for CRM automation and with great success.
Email marketing automation might seem outdated (or at least a platform that’s losing its footing), but it’s still one of the most engaging aspects of digital marketing. Email marketing automation means reaching more people with greater ease and an automated process for using all the data you collect to both reach a wider audience, as well as connect with your existing audience on a more personal level. Among other things, you can set up triggers to initiate messages (such as auto-replies if a customer leaves items in their virtual shopping cart or follow-ups to promote reviews after purchase), implement A/B testing, and encourage them to take actions they haven’t already.
Marketing automation software takes care of everything to do with overall marketing operations like website traffic or implementing specific initiatives. Most of the marketing automation platforms you’ve probably heard of fall under this category of general marketing automation. Marketo, Hubspot, and Eloqua are the big three that people are quick to recommend because of their versatility and expansive services. Just be mindful of the price of your package, it can be easy to overpay for programs without reaping all the benefits.
Social media automation does exactly what it sounds like. Short-form social posting can seem like a waste of time, but connecting with your audience on social media is one of the best ways to define your story in a more casual, conversational setting. By itself, social media is a free tool that can make or break you. With automation, it turns into an increasingly valuable way of engagement. Social media automation can be especially useful for bigger businesses who don’t have the time or resources to respond to all social interactions. In 2018, the best software for social media automation is Hootsuite, Crowdfire, Buffer, and Agora Pulse.
Marketing analytics software will help you gauge data to figure out the next steps to take. Data such as traffic and engagement rates can be the jumping off point for determining where to angle your next marketing initiatives, where to improve, or where to cut back. Efficiently measuring analytics is an essential step to maximizing ROI. If you implement all of the above strategies but don’t measure the results and turn them into actionable insights, then what’s the point? The most popular tool for measuring analytics is inevitably Google Analytics, but there are plenty of other options if you want to branch out.

Identifying What You Need

Once you’re familiar with the options available, you can start sorting out what the right choices are for your business. Sitting down and planning out your exact needs will ensure that you choose a program best suited to meet your unique goals. It also helps ensure that you’re only paying for what you need, not buying into programs that aren’t worth your time or resources.

Try thinking of marketing automation in categories depending on the overall size, need, and experience of your company. GetResponse separates marketing automation into three levels.

Level One: Software geared toward entry-level users and those who are only looking for basic levels of email marketing automation. This level of automation uses basic automation tasks like email templates, analytics, and A/B testing. To use this to your advantage, you can set up triggers to send certain emails, and create auto response sequences. If you’re a company just starting out, one with a small budget, or one with basic needs, then level one should be the extent of your focus.

Level Two: Software that mid-sized business can use with the intent of growing and excelling past the initial level of email automation. GetResponse clarifies that level two is primarily for a marketing team who manage less than 100,000 subscribers. Businesses on this level need more in-depth features to their software that will expand the business’ online presence. This starts to encompass automated CRM, social media, and more advanced tools that handle your marketing automation as a whole.

Level Three: Software intended for businesses up to the enterprise-level who have a strong marketing team intent on all-encompassing automation. They have the resources and opportunities to draw in customers across all possible platforms and can invest in the most optimized experience to suit their needs. These tools can handle all of the listed processes above.

After you’ve identified approximately where your business goals fall and what level of marketing automation software you need to start looking at, you’re ready to dive into software-specific research. As shown in the infographic above, there are more than enough options to sift through. Lists like this one from NG Data or this grid from G2 Crowd pepper MarTech sites; choices are easy to find, it’s just a matter of narrowing them down. Always remember to weigh your options, allow for optimum training time before you judge the results, and use your resources to the fullest capacity.

Join us next week as we dive into Part III of our marketing automation series: How to Create Workflows. Workflows are the next step in the automation process and we will discuss how to use the marketing tool you’ve chosen in Part II to create active, workable strategies that align with your story.

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How to Build a Strong Brand Through Curated Email Newsletters

Branding is certainly a well-known concept for marketers everywhere. After all, a brand is what makes a business more than a sum of transactions: branding is what makes customers fall in love.

There’s plenty of advice and guidance on the internet to help any company shape their branding strategy. But once you have a branding strategy, how do you implement it in your email marketing? One answer is curated email newsletters. But how can you leverage your email newsletters to build upon your existing brand?

In this post, you’ll learn how you can build a strong brand through curated email newsletters, complete with brand-building principles and tactics that you can immediately put into practice.

Why strong branding matters

In case you need to catch up on the value of branding, here’s a brief overview of what a strong brand looks like, and why you should think about branding. This goes beyond your email newsletters, as your brand affects who you are as a company.

Let’s get caught up on some common definitions of branding:

“Branding is all of the ways you establish an image of your company in your customers’ eyes.” (Shopify)
“Branding is the marketing practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.” (Entrepreneur)
“Your brand is what leaves the lasting impact and influences the crucial decision of whether or not someone will become a long-term customer.” (Leighton Interactive)

To summarize, branding is the impression your company leaves on a customer or potential customer. We see terms like “image,” “symbol,” and “design” mentioned in those definitions, showing how important visual composition is to your branding in addition to your messaging.

So, why is branding so important?

Branding improves recognition, creates trust, supports advertising, builds financial value, inspires employees, and generates new customers. (Deluxe Enterprise Operations)
A strong brand makes your company look bigger, builds loyalty and trust, conveys stability, and makes your business memorable. (Masterful Marketing)
Branding is what makes your company different from the competition and helps you connect with customers emotionally. Building your brand helps you grow your business. (The Branding Journal)

Building your brand, quite simply, moves your business forward. A stronger brand attracts more business.

So how does this pertain to email newsletters? Let’s apply some of these principles to newsletters and continue our mission of building a stronger brand.

Make the experience consistent

Email newsletters have a wide variety of elements in them. Copy, logos, color palettes, images, CTAs, etc. Each element of an email should be approached through a consistent brand strategy.

A consistent design allows your subscribers and customers to know who you are right off the bat. It also helps them know what to expect, and then navigate, read, and interact with your content easier, according to UX Collective. While the first thing that comes to mind might be visuals, this also applies to your creative copywriting as well.

Let’s look at a handful of these pieces and explore what this looks like.

Images

Images convey a lot about your brand. A huge differentiator is between photos and illustrations. While you don’t necessarily need to stick to either one or the other, you should think about how your audience is interacting with your brand at various points, and how images play a part in that.

For example, maybe all your content (i.e. blog, guides, walkthroughs) use illustrations as the header images, but your homepage uses stock photography. That’s awesome—just make sure you’re sticking to that model. Mixing your images, in this case, might confuse a recipient as to whether they’re looking at your blog content or your homepage content, or if it’s content from a different company that you’re presenting.

The newsletter from Apartment Therapy always includes very bright photos with a lot of natural light.

Apartment Therapy – Email Newsletter Images

Similarly, using the same image in both the email newsletter and the page your reader lands on after clicking a CTA will help orient them. Think about if you see a sign to a restaurant. You walk in, but then the sign on the hosting station is entirely different. It’d probably make you wonder if you were in the right place for a moment. The same happens to your readers when they see content in your email newsletter and then experience something totally different when they click through.

Using consistency in images will work to solidify your brand, helping your readers know what to expect and ultimately engage with your content.

Text: copy, tone, fonts

Words carry a lot of meaning. As a marketer, you’re well aware of this. Whether coming up with email copy comes to you easily or not, the words you use should always be passed through your branding guide.

Copywriting is a big deal here. To help people continue their reading from your email newsletter to your content, you should write with the goal of creating a seamless experience. Your newsletter copy should entice the recipient, and continue that story with the same tone and style as they click through to your content.

This email newsletter from MIchael Kors provides the right amount of intrigue to entice a click.

Michael Kors – Email Newsletter Copy

The same is true for font and other styles. Since your objective is to get people to engage with your content, you definitely don’t want them to bounce when they reach the next page. Some studies actually show that improving your email and website fonts or styles can reduce bounce rates by 92%. More eyes on the page mean more engagement, which ultimately creates more customers.

If you’ve ever been on the Airbnb website, you’ll feel right at home when viewing this email. Even down to the fonts and text spacing, this email layout is extremely consistent with their website, making the reader have a seamless experience and know what to expect from Airbnb.

Airbnb – Email Newsletter Copy & Layout

Layout

Your email service provider is packed with different email newsletter templates. You may have a robust preferences center with a handful of different types of newsletters for your subscribers to receive. No matter how many newsletters you send, consistency is key.

Single-column, zig-zag, inverted pyramid—all these layout styles can work well with your content when used consistently. But if you send a newsletter one week that has three columns, and then one that has only a single block of content, it can be really confusing to subscribers.

Imagine if you received a slew of emails that had a single piece of content with a single CTA. You’ve been trained by this company to look only at a single item at a time when you’re viewing their emails. Visualize, then, you open a three-column email with tons of images and copy from that same company. In this case, you’re unlikely to scroll down because you’ve never had to scroll before. You’ve been conditioned to engage with that brand’s content a specific way.

This principle can be applied to your various types of email newsletters, announcements, offers, and even your website. The more you train your reader, the easier it will be for them to recognize your brand and digest content.

Make the experience unique

Let your branding shine through. Leverage the quality of your content and the tone your company uses. There are tons of templates to look through online that can spark formatting and design ideas. Think beyond that. Consider what only your company—your brand— can do.

Unique content

What makes your content stand out? Is it the range of topics? The specificity of topics? The perspective you take? Lean into whatever it is that makes your content stand out and highlight that.

In their weekly content email newsletter, Invision does a stellar job in highlighting their content.

Invision – Email Newsletter Content

They lean on great images to highlight their content, and even the format of their email newsletters serve to communicate the message of modern design. These elements serve to showcase their branding and ultimately their product.

Another important part of their branding is wittiness, which shines through in their CTAs. This brings us to the topic of tone.

Tone of voice

Your email newsletters hinge on words. Great images are awesome, and interesting stories are compelling. But the only thing tying your images and stories together are words. JCI Marketing puts it this way:

“Creating a brand for your business is much more than just creating a logo. It involves everything from creating a visual identity, creating your brand’s personality and finding your voice as a business.”

A lot of companies use adjectives to describe their tone of voice. Look at this example from Percolate:

Percolate – Email Newsletter Tone

This is a great place to start. Once you can identify your company’s tone of voice, you can start filtering all your copy through this funnel. From subject lines to headlines, body copy to CTAs, with your brand voice as a guiding light, you’ll not only make sure it’s consistent but identifiable.

Apple is known for their tone of voice—especially when it comes to their marketing materials. Their taglines are often written with a play on words, which is immediately identifiable as Apple messaging. Here’s an example from the iPhone 5 announcement, when the phone changed sizes to be a bit taller than the previous generation.

Creating a tone of voice that is memorable and identifiable by your customers not only makes it easier for them to know what to expect from your email newsletters, but it also adds personality and intrigue to your content. This drives more engagement, more recognition of your brand, and ultimately more sales.

Wrap up

Zeroing in on your brand helps your audience hone in on your email newsletters. By filtering your newsletters through your brand guidelines, you can train your audience on what to expect from your content, and familiarize them with your company. Creating consistent and unique experiences between your email newsletters, website, and other platforms will strengthen your brand, increasing your content engagement and sales.

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How to Sell Books Using Email Marketing

As writers, we’re constantly trying to get our names out there, to get someone other than our parents to read our stories. We like to say we’re just in it to entertain or amuse people, which is all well and good, but what we really want to know is how to sell books.

How to Sell Books Using Email Marketing

The #1 Way to Sell Books

Self-publishing is on the rise, but places like Amazon aren’t marketing platforms; they’re sales platforms. You can’t just upload your book and think it’ll sell. You have to do the heavy lifting to get the word out.

Email marketing is the number one way to connect with your audience, which means it’s the number one way to sell books.

With the constantly changing algorithms of social media, you can’t guarantee your mom will see a new release announcement from you, let alone someone you don’t personally know.

“The best way to keep your audience in the loop about your upcoming books (and sell books!) is via email.Tweet this

(You need to have a website set up before you can get moving on that email list. For tips on how to do that, check this out.)

How to Sell Books Using Email Marketing

It’s all well and good to say that email marketing sells books. But how? What emails should you send, and when should you send them?

Here’s an email marketing plan to get you started selling books (yes, even if you haven’t written a book yet!).

Welcome email

Great, you have a handful of subscribers. Now what?

First, there should be a welcome email when they confirm their subscription. You can set this up with your email service to automatically send as soon as someone signs up. No muss, no fuss.

There are a couple options for your welcome email. You could go with a standard introduction, where you describe what you’ll be sending them, or you could send them a free story, excerpt, etc. Or a combination of both.

After the welcome

You’ve sent the welcome email, but you can’t just leave your potential customers out in the cold after that. You have to keep up the line of communication. Here are a couple ways you can communicate with them:

1. Send scheduled emails

What you do here depends on what your goal is.

If you haven’t released a book yet, or you’re a short story writer with multiple releases a month, or you blog consistently, I recommend doing a “roundup” email. You can do this weekly or monthly. What this normally looks like is a list of posts and/or news releases that give a taste of what is in the article, then asks you to click to continue reading.

If you have released a book, or several, I recommend setting up a series of emails for new subscribers. This would be automatic after a certain time frame.

For example, say I signed up to your site. I first get the welcome email, then a second email maybe a week later announcing your book, and maybe a third in another week.

The benefit of this is all your subscribers get the same emails and no one misses what you really want them to see: your book!

Both of these options can be set up to be automatic and scheduled in advance. They allow you to build a steady relationship with your audience and allow them to get used to seeing your name in their inbox.

2. Send unscheduled emails

These are announcements and are sent whenever you need to speak straight to your fans. These are a great way to announce releases and events or offer freebies and giveaways.

Remember, new subscribers won’t get announcement emails you’ve sent in the past, as they go out simultaneously to the subscribers you have at that time.

If you feel like you don’t have enough announcements to send these emails on a regular basis, this may not be the way to go for you. Your subscribers are less likely to open your emails if they haven’t heard from you in months.

What to Write to Sell Books

The most important thing to remember when selling anything, especially books, is that your customers must feel invested in the product. It needs to feel personal to them.

With books, people become attached to characters. But you haven’t sold them any books yet, remember? So if they can’t be attached to your characters, who should they be attached to?

YOU.

You need to build a rapport with your audience. You need to give them something and in return, you’ll sell books.

If you’re anything like me, you kind of loathe the idea of doing any of this emailing stuff. It takes time and what do you really have to say anyway?

But the thing is, if you want to sell books, you need to actually get out there and sell them.

Here are a few ideas for things to send that will help you to connect with your readers and get them to buy your books:

News about your writing

This would be the bulk of the email. Start a countdown to release day, announce new releases, give details about book signings or appearances, etc. Anything you want them to know, really.

Sneak peeks

You have a million notes on character development, side stories you’ve cut from the book, and other random scribblings that may be of interest to fans. Polish those things up and offer them for free in your emails.

This is like a teaser trailer (by the way, you can make one of those for your book and send it along, as well), not only getting your readers hooked, but allowing them to begin to form a connection with your characters.

Giveaways and incentives

Everyone loves a giveaway. Sometimes it doesn’t matter what’s being given away; if it’s free, people want it.

Some of the more obvious giveaways include a signed copy of your book, a free copy of your book or short story, access to exclusive content, an invitation to your next event, a chance to interview you for their blog … the list goes on. Get creative.

Giveaways are one of the best ways to not only nab your audience’s attention, but also to get them to interact and share your work.

Final Notes for Email Marketing Mastery

Make sure your emails are professional and edited. You’re supposed to be selling books and no one is going to buy them if you have typos in your emails.

You’ll also want to focus on staying “on brand” when you email. In other words, make sure the look and tone of every email matches what you’ve sent so far. If you want to get fancy with the design of your emails, I recommend designing an email header that will be used in each email, taking time to write a compelling signature, and making sure your colors, fonts, etc. always match. You want consistency so people will recognize you.

Finally, find some other writers and hop on their email lists! Not only does this open up a line of communication in the writing community, but you can also get ideas for your own emails from what others are putting out there. Remember, though: As with anything, turn old ideas into new ones. Don’t steal outright.

Have any other ideas of what to email to your readers? Let me know in the comments!

PRACTICE

For your fifteen-minute practice today, you’re going to write an email to your subscriber list — yes, even if you don’t have a subscriber list yet.

If you don’t have a list yet, write a welcome email. What’s the first thing you want to say to your potential readers when they sign up to hear from you? Do you have any stories you can send them for free?

If you do have an email list, and have been emailing for some time, write your next email. What announcements and updates will you share with your readers? How will you connect with them and stay “on brand”?

When you’re done, share your email in the comments. Don’t forget to give feedback!

The post How to Sell Books Using Email Marketing appeared first on The Write Practice.

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5 Ways Hotels are Screwing Up Guest Engagement: How You Can Get it Right

You would think guest engagement is simple. They already like your brand enough to book a room. Now you just need to send them the right messages at the right time and the rest will just take care of itself, right?

If that were really the case, hotels would be owning more of the guest relationship. Guests who have stayed at a hotel previously wouldn’t be booking through an OTA for their second, third, or even fourth stay. There wouldn’t be such a growing demand for engagement and hotel marketing solutions. If that were really the case, more than a quarter of the population would consider themselves loyal to a brand.

At its core, guest engagement is the act of keeping a hotel brand in front of someone on a consistent basis in a way that adds meaningful value to the relationship.

So what’s so hard about engaging guests? There are five big mistakes hoteliers are making in regards to guest relationships, and often, they are unaware that they are even happening.

 

1. They’re always selling

Open your email inbox right now, and most of what you’ll see is designed to convince you to buy more stuff. Engaging? Only if you’re ready to buy and the email is pushing something you’re already interested in.

There are times when it’s appropriate to make a sale, but positive guest engagement is built by adding value to the relationship. The companies that enjoy the highest customer engagement tend to offer information that makes their customers’ lives better or easier.

Hoteliers don’t communicate with their customers other than to ask them to buy right this second, and many blast the same offer to their entire database. This is a surefire way to alienate your guests because you’re guaranteed to send irrelevant content to some recipients, causing them to lose interest in your hotel.

The solution? Learn how to interact with your guests and add value to your email marketing efforts. Instead of sending out mass emails to guests who have different interests and needs, use your database to learn more about your audience. With this data, create segments to send personalized messages so guests are only getting information they care about.

 

2. They assume their product is enough

After every booking or purchase made by a guest, ask yourself this: What’s the most important thing a guest can do to get the best experience from your hotel’s services or brand?

For example, when you sign up for Twitter, the service suggests people for you to follow. Twitter knows you’re more likely to keep using it if you can read tweets from your favorite athletes or celebrities. Amazon does the same thing, by suggesting products you might like based on your search and purchase history.

The solution? Make it easy by holding your guest’s hand, guiding them directly to the best possible experience they can have. How? Create segments of your guest database based on factors your guests have in common and send emails targeted to their specific wants and needs. Revinate customers have seen great success with segmenting based on whether the guest previously booked directly or booked through an OTA. You can also segment based on whether the guest stayed with you on business or with their family, or whether the guest lives within driving distance of the hotel or if they’d have to book a flight to get there.

These are just some examples. Tailoring your messages with an “If you liked this, then you might also like this” mentality shows your guests that you pay attention to their wants and needs. Prove that you are interested in providing products and services that are valuable to them.

 

3. They don’t build ongoing relationships

Did you know that just 22% of people consider themselves brand-loyal? This is because a lot of brands don’t put in the effort to engage. Why don’t they ask customers to sign up for their email newsletter, review them on TripAdvisor, or “like” them on Facebook?

People are rarely more pleased with a business than when they make that initial purchase. Why not formalize the relationship and try to earn a second date?

The solution? Your email database, online reviews, and even social media connections provide the foundation for building long-term relationships. We Miss You campaigns and birthday campaigns are just two types of emails you can send to lure customers back in. Go back to past stay dates and invite guests for a return trip. Target nearby guests who can drive onto your property with special rates and high-value promotions. The point is to personalize your marketing strategies so guests receive messages that appeal to them. Don’t just let your potential loyal customers walk out the door without some way of bringing them back.

4. They abuse their privileges

Many brands associate customer engagement with sending emails every day or constantly tweeting out the latest promotion or service. But what matters most is being present at the right time – not all the time.

Granted, timing is a delicate art. When you’re really adding value, however, the frequency is irrelevant. Consistency helps, but value trumps all because you’ll be top of mind when people need something you offer. Most people aren’t constantly looking to book a hotel room. Your goal is to be the first hotel that comes to mind when they are ready to book. This is the drive behind customer engagement – building such a great rapport that you get the call when the need arises.

The solution? Be there for every step of the customer journey. Whether it’s sending pre-arrival upsells and upgrades, on-property welcome letters, weekly incoming guest newsletters, operational announcements, or making things right with a detractor, it’s imperative that you stay relevant from the very beginning. Guests cherish a personalized experience more than ever now.   

 

5. They keep all their secrets

The truth is most businesses’ secrets aren’t that big of a secret. Chances are if you reveal the secrets behind what makes your hotel unique, others won’t be able to replicate it. When your customers book a hotel, they do so in large part because they want the unique experience your brand has to offer.

The solution? Share some of your expertise and remind your guests of the experience they can only find at your property. Turn your customers into semi-pros at what you do, but deliver an experience so good they’ll pay you to do it anyway and establish guest loyalty.

Share how people are doing things with your product you hadn’t planned on, or connect new customers to an online forum of their peers. For example, film a quick Instagram tutorial of your executive chef making one of the top dishes at your hotel’s restaurant. Have your brand’s designer talk about the thought process of picking specific pieces of furniture for the rooms from the perspective of teaching design philosophy.

Encourage mastery and expertise. Peel back the curtain a bit and let people connect with the brand and the company. It’s the best way to build long-term trust.

 

The common thread is relationships, not marketing

Engagement is all about relationships. Most great relationships aren’t built by keeping secrets or selling things to each other. Relationships are about belonging to your customers’ tribes and adding value that makes their lives better and easier.

Our goal as marketers is to reach the point where communications don’t feel like marketing anymore, where each interaction provides value to the recipient. The advantage for you is that most hotels aren’t engaging in this manner today. Hotels need to realize that a booking is the beginning of the relationship. Treat it as an opportunity to keep the conversation going, and you’ll already be far ahead of what everyone else is doing.

Revinate is known for our guest feedback and online review management solutions that have helped hoteliers improve their guest experiences tremendously. If we’ve piqued your interest in learning more about our products, request a demo today.

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