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Reflections on Marketing Automation in 2016

Reflections on Marketing AutomationWe live in a time of extraordinary change. Marketing has come a long way in a small amount of time. And the industry is just continuing to refine itself! To be able to entirely appreciate the current state of marketing automation, it’s best to briefly acknowledge where it has been.

Marketing automation first came into existence in 1992, focusing on email alone. Businesses did not have a lot of online presence at the time, so there wasn’t really a huge opportunity for it to take off until the late 2000’s. Now, it has grown its capabilities so greatly that it is able to help companies deliver various marketing content through different channels to customers based on their online behavior.

As digital platforms become increasingly more powerful, there is more untapped data at our fingertips than ever. The need for organizing, integrating, and maximizing the benefits of that data has become essential. The phrase “work smarter, not harder” rings true. We have access to increasing demographic, psychographic, historical, and behavioral information. It’s information overload!

Marketing Automation now has the ability to capture all of this data, listen to it, interpret it, and utilize it in the most effective ways possible. The field of marketing automation is something that started small, exploded, and is now refining itself. Technology is more intuitive. Platforms are becoming easier to navigate. Consequently, the tools are more often used to their fullest potential.  Companies such as us have mastered content personalization, customizable resource centers, and integration.

What’s to Come in Marketing Automation

The marketing automation industry is somewhat saturated. This can be beneficial to the end user, in that companies must listen to their clients’ needs, wishes, and dreams. Even more customization, personalization and integration (with systems like mail or additional CRMs) is in the near future.

Another thing that is fast-approaching is an upgrade to the customer journey, or more specifically customer journey optimization. Instead of combining many customers’ courses of action into a few general paths, automation is challenged to grow to support infinite customer journeys. According to industry expert David Raab, this is “quite different from pre-determining an ideal customer journey and trying to force customers to follow it.” The industry seems to be taking back control over the user experience, instead of just reacting to it.

It’s an exciting time in marketing automation. With every challenge comes greater exploration and innovation. What do you see on the horizon for the industry? We look forward to hearing your feedback below!

How to Make Your Mobile Marketing Work Harder

This article was posted as a Guest Blog Post relating to Salesforce.com.

Does your mobile marketing match your consumers’ use of their devices? If you’re like most companies, the answer is “Probably not.”

There are different types of mobile users—regular, super, addicts, all of whom can be affected by mobile marketing in some way. How you reach them depends in part on the individual setups they have—push notifications, for example. Of course, push notifications equals more times opening an app. But push notifications can’t and shouldn’t be random. They should be designed to create an experience and action, as should SMS marketing.

The majority of customers wouldn’t mind more contact from brands using SMS marketing. Those messages get the attention of customers in a crowded world, and they often result in very quick review of a message.

There is a great gap between how much time we spend on our phones, and how much (or little) companies are investing in mobile advertising.

How important is mobile marketing

 

How can you make your mobile marketing work harder and smarter? To learn more about the potential in mobile marketing and the various ways to engage customers, check out Marketing Cloud’s article Mobile Marketing Examples to Energize Your 2016 Campaigns.

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How to Prospect Using Handwritten Letters

How to Prospect Using Handwritten Letters

Get Ready to Prospect Using Handwritten Letters – Be Different

With technology, people are always looking forward. They constantly think of new ways to tackle problems or attract customers. Sometimes, though, you need to take an old school approach to get the job done. That’s the case when it comes to prospecting. Instead of letting technology get in the way of your prospecting success, use handwritten letters. Once you know how to prospect using handwritten letters, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been using this method all along.

Write Letters That Are Easy to Scan

People are used to reading on the web, where articles include headlines and are easy to scan. You can provide the same experience with your handwritten letters. Make the paragraphs short and to the point and include bullet points, if needed. People should be able to glance at your letter and pick out the main points without any problems. 

Use a Handwritten Envelope

Your letter will only be effective if the recipient opens it. People are more likely to open mail that has a handwritten envelope, so take the time to write the names and addresses out. If you don’t have the time, a service can do it for you.

Don’t Include Teaser Copy

Some people like to put what is often referred to as “teaser copy” on the envelope. They use words like “FREE” and “URGENT” on the envelope, thinking it will increase the open rates. Instead, it makes people think they have received junk mail. 

Use the Letter as Part of an Automated Sequence

Handwritten letters are an excellent way to prospect, but you can’t expect people to respond to them. People aren’t going to sit down and write a letter back to you, and many people won’t pick up the phone and call. That’s why you need to make them a part of a sequence. Follow your handwritten prospecting letters up with phone calls or emails so people can respond. Putting the letters inside of a sequence also makes it easier to nurture your leads.

Now that you know how to prospect using handwritten letters, it’s time to get started. Don’t worry if you don’t know how to write a great sales letter or if you don’t have the time to put into the process. You can use a service to handle the letters for you. Services can even include the handwritten letter as part of an automated prospecting plan.

3 Tips for Better Handwritten Notes

3 Tips for Better Handwritten Notes

Better Handwritten Notes

Want to write better handwritten notes and letters? Handwritten notes provide an easy way to break down barriers between your company and your customers. When people receive a handwritten letter from you, they will be impressed that you went the extra mile to drop them a line. You can impress them even more by following some tips that will allow you to send out top-notch handwritten notes. These tips are easy to follow and will put you on the right track for customer service success.

Use High-Quality Stationary

Don’t get out your spiral notebook and fire off a letter to your customers. They deserve high-quality stationary, and they will judge you if they don’t get it. If you send handwritten notes out on subpar paper, they will think that you are either too cheap to spring for the good stuff or your business is in trouble. Put your best foot forward by using high-quality stationary every time you send out a note or letter.

Keep It Simple

People love the idea of receiving handwritten notes, but they don’t want to put aside an hour to read them. Keep your notes short and to the point. Remember, each customer’s time is precious and you don’t want to infringe on it any more than necessary. Get right to the point, say thank you, and let the customer be on his or her way. 

Use the Right Type of Ink

Blue and black ink are considered professional. If you go with red, pink, green, or another color, your company will look unprofessional, which means your reputation might take a hit with your customers. Simply choosing the right type of ink will help you stand out for the right reasons. Then, when customers think back to the handwritten note, they’ll have positive memories, down to the type of ink you used.

It can be hard to remember everything that you need to do to write amazing notes. If you aren’t sure that you can keep everything straight, use a service for your handwritten notes. The service will write the notes and send them out to everyone. Some services even let you choose the gender of the letter writer, along with the type of handwriting the person uses. This type of customization ensures that your customers receive the perfect handwritten notes.

How to Send Handwritten Letters Online with an Authentic Touch

Send Handwritten Letters Online

Send Handwritten Letters Online

Learn how to send handwritten letters online with these insights. If you feel like technology has eliminated the personal touch, you aren’t alone. A lot of people complain that emails and printouts have replaced handwritten letters and other personal gestures. As much as you might miss the good old days, this change actually has its benefits. Now, if you do something personal, such as send out a handwritten letter, your business will stand out. The best part is you don’t actually have to write the letter yourself. You can send handwritten letters online through a service. Just make sure the company you choose provides authentic-looking handwritten letters or you won’t win over your customer base. 

Real Handwriting

While some companies use a handwriting font and print the letters off, others actually handwrite them. They put pen to paper to create these letters so no one can deny the authenticity. When people see a real handwritten letter from your company, they will assume you took the time to take a piece of stationary out and write. They won’t realize that you used a service to send handwritten letters online.

Postmarked from Your Location

Savvy consumers will notice if a handwritten letter is postmarked from the wrong location. For instance, if your company is located in Florida and your handwritten letter is postmarked from California, that will stand out to someone who is observant. The person will automatically realize that you didn’t send the letter yourself, which means you will look untrustworthy.

That’s why some companies make sure the postmark comes from your location. This adds another layer of authenticity to the process and helps you build trust – and win points – with your customer base.

Fully Customizable

Handwritten letters are all about personalization and customization. You can take it one step further by adding your logo, headers, and other customization options to the letter. This is a great branding opportunity, and it will assure the recipient that the letter is authentic. You need to grab every branding opportunity that is available, so this is critical.

Instead of lamenting about how technology has changed the world, use it to reach out to your customers with handwritten letters. You will give your customers the personal touch they crave while benefiting from the speed and ease that technology provides. 

Handwritten Thank-You Notes Give Businesses a Boost

Handwritten Thank-You Notes Give Businesses a BoostMiss Manners could probably write an entire column about the death of thank-you notes. Instead of thank-you notes, businesses fire off impersonal emails or send out bulk mailings to their customers. Emails end up in spam folders, and bulk mail-outs make their way into trashcans, so customers don’t realize they have been properly thanked. If you want to make Miss Manners proud, it’s time to consider handwritten thank-you notes. You can hire a service to create and send the notes for you, so you can enjoy the benefits without spending any time on the process. 

Handwritten Thank-You Notes Show Appreciation 

According to the Harvard Business Review, companies send out more than 100 emails each day, while young adults send or receive around 100 texts each day. At the same time, people receive approximately one personal letter every seven weeks. These numbers mean your thank-you emails and bulk mailings get lost in the shuffle, but your handwritten thank-you notes stick out to the recipients. They show appreciation in ways that other forms of communication don’t, making handwritten notes well worth sending.

Customer Loyalty Is Based on Beginnings and Endings

Most businesses put a lot of emphasis on the first impression with a customer. They go out of their way to ensure that customers like them from the get-go. Then, they make the sale and forget about the customer.

Endings are just as important as beginnings. If you end the transaction the right way, you will build customer loyalty. Customer loyalty translates into additional sales, plus referrals. The easiest way to build that loyalty is with a handwritten thank-you note.

These notes put a heartwarming end to the transaction. They make people think of your business in a favorable way, and those thoughts will stand out the next time they look for goods or services. They will also make people more likely to become advocates for your business. 

Writing your own notes is time-consuming, but you can simplify the process by using a service. Services that provide handwritten thank-you notes handle all of the details so you’ll get the accolades without the hard work. It’s nice to get the credit without putting in the time, so don’t pass this opportunity up. Need help with what to put in your thank you note? Click here for more help

What to Include in a Business Thank You Letter

business thank you letterWhen you want to thank your customers, what do you do? Do you shoot them an email that they will never receive, or do you send them a letter? If you send them a letter, do you print it off and mail it, or do you go the extra mile and handwrite it? If you want to get the most out of each business thank you letter you send, handwritten letters are the way to go. They add a personal touch that you can’t get with a printed or emailed note. Get even more out of your handwritten business thank you letter by including the following components. 

Personal Information

When you’re sending a thank you letter to a specific person, include some personal information. Something as simple as what the person bought will help you connect with the reader. If you formed a relationship with the person during the sales process, take it a step further and include information about the person’s job, family, hobbies, or anything else that you know. The more personal information you include, the greater the impact the business thank-you letter will have. 

A Hope for the Future

In the business world, you want to form long-term relationships that weather any storm. Lay the groundwork for such a relationship by mentioning your hope for the future in the note. Something like, “I hope that we can continue to serve your automotive repair needs,” lets the recipient know that you will continue to be there, well after the note is read and put away. 

A Drop-in Item

Drop-in items, such as a gift card, will make your letter even more special. Some people even send books with their thank you letters. Think about what your customer would like and, if it is reasonable, send it with the letter. 

If you like the idea of sending a business thank you letter to your customers but you don’t have time, utilize a service. You can have a company send handwritten thank you letters out, and some services even include drop-in items upon request. With the help of the service, you can connect with your customers in a way that you never thought possible. These new connections will help you as you forge ahead with your company.

Your Crash Course to Offering a Crash Course

Your Crash Course to Offering a Crash CourseConverting visitors often requires giving away something of value. An excellent way to convert visitors, as well as maintain relationships and grow your subscriber base, is to provide a crash course. This method ties in well with making an offer when a customer tries to exit a page. Encourage the visitor to sign up for a crash course by piquing their interest. Clearly, the visitor had at least some passing interest in what you have to offer to have been on that page in the first place. There can be many reasons why a visitor might choose to exit a page, but before they go, make an offer they cannot refuse with a crash course.

Why Offer a Crash Course?

Doing so gives you the opportunity to convert your website visitors by capturing their name as well as email address. With that information, you then have the chance to market to that lead in the future. The person becomes a prospect in your system, and a part of your company’s most valuable asset – your database! In the future, you can segment your database to easily target people that took your crash course.

Designing a Crash Course for Prospects

To be effective, crash courses should be brief in nature. The ideal length of time to offer a crash course is around two weeks. Make sure you do not inundate prospects with too many emails. Furthermore, all emails should be kept short and be educational in nature. Avoid the temptation to make your emails promotional and too salesy.

Make Sure You Have the Right Tools

The chief reason that many website owners do not take advantage of the opportunity to offer a crash course is that they feel they simply do not have the time to do so. Others sometimes feel intimidated at the prospect of offering even a short two-week course.

Tools such as SiteEngage™ can help make this process easier through automation. By creating an automation for a series of emails that are spread out over time, you can provide your visitors with a crash course to maintain their interest and nurture the relationship, all without expending a lot of time or resources.

Offering a crash course at the right time can provide you with an excellent opportunity to engage and convert visitors.

Video Marketing: Your Key to Converting More Visitors

Video Marketing: Your Key to Converting More CustomersAll marketers know about email marketing, direct mail, etc. But, what about video marketing for converting more visitors? Doesn’t that just play videos and push information, one-way, to visitors or can it be interactive? It can be interactive, and there are ways you can use video marketing to to begin converting more visitors.

Adding video to your website is an effective way to convert more visitors into customers. Among the most frequent reasons people do not add video to their website is that producing a video can be expensive. With that said, video production does not have to blow your entire marketing budget. In fact, you might be surprised to discover that you get a quality video produced for far less than you might expect. Ask us too! We’ve done video marketing on a budget. We’ve had multiple video explainers created for less than $1,000 USD each. That’s quite a bargain. But buyer beware. Videos can cost upwards of $15,000 to $20,000 if you need a voice over, storyboard, script, and more.

Types of Videos to Produce that Convert Visitors

Another common question among business owners that consider adding video to their website is what type of video should I use to start converting more visitors. Numerous options are available, including testimonials, solution instructions, marketing, and more. The addition of videos can help to increase both conversions and sales by discussing how a product works, the benefits of using a product, and even how a product can resolve certain issues. Along with explaining how to use a product, you could also use videos to answer frequently asked questions. With the addition of a video, you can transform your site into a sales rep for your business that offers help to the leads as they browse your website. Rather than just seeing a product on your website, customers can learn about your products by watching a video.

What Video Hosting Providers Convert More Visitors?

You will also need to have a place to host your videos. Your choice of hosting service should not be taken lightly. YouTube might be the first place to come to mind for hosting your videos. For businesses, Wistia is often a better choice. With Wistia as the hosting service, you can benefit from lead conversion tools and analytics—tools that are not available with Vimeo or YouTube. You can also exercise complete control over both your video and viewers. For instance, you can protect your viewers from advertisements, commercials, and even potentially dangerous redirects that might ultimately send your leads to your competitors.

The addition of video to your website can make it more powerful and effective, giving your leads the information they need to make a more informed decision.

Identify People that Visit Your Website

Identifying People that Visit Your WebsiteYes You Can! Identify People that Visit Your Website

So, you’ve got a website up and running and you think you’re doing well in terms of attracting people to your website. While that’s certainly a positive step, you might be missing another critical piece of the puzzle. You also need to identify people that visit your website. Why does that matter, you might wonder?

Why You Need to Identify People that Visit Your Website

Perhaps the biggest reason for identifying who visits your website is so that you can take advantage of the ability to offer your visitors personalized content. If you already have great content on your website, why do you need to be concerned about personalized content? A few reasons, actually. Along with increasing your open rates and click-through rates, personalized content also helps drive higher conversion rates.

The only way you can achieve that level of personalization is by knowing who is on your site, however. Without knowing exactly who is visiting your site, there is a certain amount of ambiguity regarding your target audience. Personalized content helps to cut through that and also works to build trust by delivering relevance based on the wants and needs of your audience. Visitor tracking allows you to deliver the right content to precisely the right person at the right time. When you are able to do that, you will be able to convert more visitors into paying customers. Without visitor tracking in place, it’s likely you are missing incredible leads and opportunities because you simply do not know about them. There is no need to miss those leads. We encourage you to check out Lead Liaison’s solution for website conversion and engagement, called SiteEngage™.

Ensuring that you have the right tools in place for identifying the people who visit your website is essential. Ultimately, it’s simply not enough to know how many people are visiting your website. You also must be able to target precisely who is visiting your website and what it is they hope to gain from your website, your content, and your products and services. Once you are able to do that, you will be in a much better position to deliver exactly what your customers want and watch your conversion rates start climbing.