8 Ways to Get More from Your Existing Database

Are you leveraging your existing customer database?  If you’re not, you’re losing out on a cost effective source of potential new business.  Here are eight ways you can get more business from your current customers.

For many of us – especially those in service businesses – our existing and previous customers are vital for three reasons:

1. They have already bought from us, so providing they had a good experience, they might buy from us again.  We also know that getting a new customer is much more expensive than selling to an existing customer, so by continuing to sell to them, we are really saving ourselves some money.
2.  They can give us invaluable feedback on how we did.  Was our service good enough?  Did we delight them or were we ‘just ok’.  Did our product meet their expectations?  Was it good value for money?  And so on.3. They continue to save us money because they should be our major source of referrals and new business.   So through them, we get access to new clients who already know about us and have a positive opinion of what we do.

Most clients I meet are not leveraging their existing customer database, and by not doing so, are losing out on a cost effective source of potential new business. Many receive referrals – for which they are grateful – but it’s not because they actively sought the referral, or had a strategy in place to ask for it.

Here are 8 ways to maximize the value from your most valuable asset:

Delight your Clients
Anyone with half a brain can satisfy a customer. But only when you continually delight customers will they keep coming back. You should aim to exceed your customers expectations on every interaction that they have with you. Do this consistently, and you will have a customer for life.

For example, you think your loyal client could benefit from reading a section of your ebook or an article you’ve written? Surprise them and make it a gift. Sure, you could say, “I’ll give you a fifty percent discount.” Forego the money. Give your client a reason to stick around and spend a thousand dollars instead.

Personalize, personalize, personalize
“We are entering an era where one size no longer fits all-or even a few. We are entering an era where one size fits one. It is highly personalized, customer-centric, customer-driven.” (From One Size Fits One: Building Relationships One Customer and One Employee at a Time).

Known variously as customer relationship management (CRM) and one-to-one marketing, personalization is being practiced by businesses large and small across all sectors of the economy. The message here is simple: you want to lavish personal attention on customers who are going to reciprocate by being consistently good purchasers of your product or service.

Give these customers an incentive to share information about themselves that you can use when you contact them next. The more your customers feel as though you are treating them individually, the more likely they are to continue their relationship with you.

Provide Guarantees
A guarantee is a powerful tool for keeping your customers when they might otherwise go elsewhere. With a good guarantee, you tell your customers where and how to complain, and that complaining is worth their time and effort. It also shows that you care. A good guarantee is unconditional, easy to understand, meaningful, easy to invoke and easy to collect on.

Ask for Feedback
If you don’t know what your customer thinks about you, your business, your product and your services, then you might as well close shop.

People will endorse your business not because they think it looks good, but because they know it is good. If they have problems with your services, customers are the best source of objective advice on how to make improvements. So have a process in place where you regularly ask them for feedback. And once they’ve given it to you, let them know how you are going to use it. They will begin to feel involved in your business, and are more likely to send other people your way.

Reward them for being Loyal
Loyalty marketing programs are designed to engender loyalty and increase sales from your best customers. When properly designed and executed flawlessly, loyalty programs provide a vital link between your business and your customers, improving customer satisfaction and increasing sales. Here are some commonly used ideas for creating your own loyalty program:

  • preferable rates for loyal customers
  • provide bonus product or service if they have bought before
  • programs that promote multiple purchases (buy 3 and get the 4th free)
  • Points program – each purchase is worth points. When they amass a certain number of points they get a reward of some kind

Keep in Touch
Keeping in touch with your customers is about maintaining relationships. Customers are most likely to keep buying from you if you have a strong relationship – if they trust you and your product/service. Your keep in touch strategy should consider:

  • the best way to stay in contact (email, telephone, hardcopy newsletter etc)
  • frequency (monthly, quarterly event-based), and
  • what to talk about (what your company is doing, industry information, tips and hints, useful resources etc)

A Keep in Touch program is not the place for a hard sell. Keep it information based, concise and interesting

Implement a Referral process
Be very clear about who you want as a referral and why. The quality of referrals you receive depends on how well your customers understand what you are looking for. The best way to do this is to write it down for them, or discuss it in some detail – don’t assume they already know. At the conclusion of every sale, ask them if they know of any other people who would be interested in your service.

Thank them for referrals – every time
Finding a way to thank your customers for referrals lets them know that you value them for their efforts. It makes them feel recognized, and it reinforces the behavior so they consider referring to you again. A thank you can be as simple as a hand written card, sent through the mail, to a set of movie tickets, a voucher, or even just a phone call.

There are so many ways that we can go one step further with the people who already buy from us. Make this a focus of your marketing efforts and you will soon see the rewards come back in the form of increased referrals and increased sales.

Megan Tough, MBA, Qualified Coach
Director Complete Potential
www.completepotential.com

Study Shows 25 Percent of Americans Would Wait To Buy until After Election

[1]When it comes to buying a home, 25 percent of Americans would like to know who the next president will be before they would feel totally comfortable putting their money down, according to a recent poll conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of MortgageMarvel.com. Another 53 percent said the election would have no effect on the timing of their decision.

The online survey was conducted in early September among 2,570 U.S. adults age 18 and over and 13 percent said that if they were considering purchasing a home, they would delay their purchase until after the election because of the uncertainty it creates. Another 12 percent said they would take the election into consideration, and it might cause them to delay buying a home.

“It’s understandable that a considerable number of people say the upcoming election would give them pause for thought,” says Rick Allen, chief operating officer of Mortgage Marvel. “There has been speculation that tax policies could change depending upon who wins. Some have even indicated that the longstanding deduction for mortgage interest could be eliminated. It appears that mortgage interest rates will remain low for the foreseeable future, so there’s no pressure on people to act before rates rise. In such an environment, I can see that cautious people would take a wait-and-see attitude before making a home purchase.”

In the survey, U.S. adults were asked this question: “Assuming you were considering purchasing a home, would the upcoming presidential election cause you to delay your purchase?”

Their answers were as follows:
|• 53 percent – “No, it would not affect my decision at all.”
• 4 percent – “No, it would prompt me to purchase a home before the election.”
• 13 percent – “I would delay buying a home because there is too much uncertainty due to the upcoming election.”
• 12 percent – “I would take the presidential election into consideration, and it might cause me to delay buying a home.”
• 17 percent – “Not sure.”

Overall, men’s and women’s answers tracked closely across all age groups. Interestingly, as men’s ages increased, they became less concerned about the possible effects of the election. In the male 18-34 age group, 42 percent said the upcoming election would have no effect on the timing of their purchase. At age 55+, 57 percent gave the same response. Fifty-two percent of women age 18-34 said the election would have no effect on their decision, and that increased only to 59 percent at age 55+.

Regional Differences throughout the Country

Regionally, the South had the highest percentage of people — 17 percent — who said they would delay buying a home because of uncertainty attributable to the election. Another 12 percent in the South said the upcoming election might cause them to delay buying a home. The West had the greatest number of people — 61 percent — who said the upcoming election would have no effect for them on the timing of a home purchase.

Methodology

This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of PR Unlimited from September 5-7, 2012 among 2,570 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact Ana Tackett at 480.318.1238.

For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com [2] and www.MortgageMarvel.com [3].

5 Keys to Successfull Networking

Networking, whether through business associations or other means, is the most prevalent and cost effective way for small and home businesses to attract new and repeat sales.  Networking and “word of mouth” advertising together are 7 times more likely to bring in business than all forms of traditional advertising and direct mail combined.

How does it work?  How can you make it work for your business?  Here are five tips to get you started.

1. Select a few key associations or organizations and participate actively.  Go to meetings as often as possible and work on one or two committees. Your goal: to be the first person everyone remembers and suggests when others ask, “Do you know anyone who….”

2. Get to events early and plan to stay late.  You can’t meet and talk to people while a meeting is in progress. Be sure you circulate, too. If you spend too much time with any one person, you can’t meet others.  You also prevent the person you’ve attached yourself to from circulating, and they may resent it. If walking away from a person or group makes you feel awkward, have a few exit strategies ready to use.  “Excuse me, I really need another cup of coffee this morning” works well for early morning meetings.

3. Greet people you’ve met in the past.
Ask how projects they are working on are going, mention news articles you’ve seen about them, and congratulate them on any recent successes they’ve had. Sales grow out of relationships, and this is a good way to establish relationships with key contacts and prospects. Be sincere, though.  If you’re not, you’ll be written off as an opportunist.

4. Follow up on leads.  All the leads in the world are worthless if you don’t follow up on them.  Make that phone call or send the information you promised.  Then, at the next meeting you attend, ask if your contact got what you sent.

5. Be generous about sharing business tips, referrals and leads with noncompetitors.  You’ll be remembered for your help, and may get business or referrals as a result later on.  (You win in another way, too.  Helping others become successful is as rewarding as being successful yourself.)

 

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JanetAttard.

 

Posting Image Ads to Craigslist

Here Is HOW You Can Make Image Based Ads Like We Do!

And Bypass The Craigslist Filters…

 

Use clickable Image Ads to drive traffic to your website.  One of the great benefits of using craigslist is that it can help drive traffic to your websites which may lead to increased business.  When you use image ads, you can make the Image clickable.  To make your Image clickable please see the html example below.

 

<a href=”http://my-website-url-example.com“><img src=”http://my-image-url-example.jpg” /></a>

 

Step 1 is to create the image you want to show in the ad.
Step 2 is to upload that image to your server (avoid storing on public sites like shutterfly, etc as Craigslist will shut you down).  Then copy the url to your new image.
Step 3 is to replace the link above with the link from your newly created image to the red text above.
Step 4 is to paste the landing page/website you want your ad to lead to in place of the blue text above.

Save your code and you have an image based ad.

New Craigslist Posting Step

Craigslist has added a new step to posting ads, the upload photo screen.  Because you have our special posting code that does not require uploading photos you can skip this screen after you paste your ad code by clicking the “Done With Images” button.  A screen shot of the new step’s screen is below.

 

How to Get the Most Out of Google Analytics

How to Get the Most Out of Google Analytics

IStock_000018624958XSmallGoogle Analytics, (or GA for those in the know), is the true alpha male of its division – The name has become synonymous with free web analytics tools. If, like most small business owners, GA is your tracking dashboard of choice, you may have been overwhelmed the first time you logged in due to the sheer amount of data and reports available to you. However, fear no more, here are 5 custom Google Analytics reports that will make your life easier (and revenue greater).

1. Goals

As with any good marketing effort, it’s very important to set objectives for what you want to accomplish, and your website is no exception. In GA, setting up goals is the best way to measure your site’s success rate. There are 3 types you can choose from for any given page:

  • URL Destination: the most common option, this will tell you if your visitors are visiting the page you want them to (for example, a completed checkout page).
  • Time on Site: as its name indicates, this will track users who spend either more or less than a specified amount of time on the site.
  • Pages/Visit: this will let you know the number of pages visited more than, less than or equal to a predefined number.

Of course, you can fine-tune these goals once you are more comfortable with GA, and adapt them to lead/sales conversion types, define conversion funnels, etc.

Goal-settings_thumb

2. Site Content Popularity

Are your visitors looking at what you want them to look at? Hopefully the answer is yes, and GA can tell you that right off the bat when you log in. Take some time to get familiarized with the main dashboard, as it will give you some of the basic metrics you need at a glance:

  • Visits: a visit is counted every time someone checks out your website.
  • Pageviews: the number of pages on your website viewed within the selected date range.
  • Pages/Visit: the depth of visit, in other words, the number of pages viewed for any given visit.
  • Bounce Rate: a visitor entering the site and leaving without performing any additional actions (such as viewing another page or submitting a form).
  • Avg. Time on Site: pretty straightforward, the total time spent on your website divided by the number of visitors.
  • % New Visits: the percentage of visitors that haven’t visited your website in the past 6 months.

Visitors Overview - Google Analytics

3. High-Value Landing Pages

After spending time optimizing your landing page, you probably want to see how well it’s performing, right? This report shows you your top landing pages and how they are performing based upon goal completions (as set above) and the values of these goals.

Google_Analytics_Landing_Pages_Report

4. Traffic Sources

Want to know where your visitors are coming from? There’s a report for that too! This one will offer you an in-depth look at how people are finding your website, divided in 3 categories:

  • Direct Traffic: visitors that typed your domain into their browsers and went directly to your website.
  • Referring Sites: sites that include a link pointing to a page on your website. These sites are often clients, vendors, or business partners.
  • Search Engines: traffic that reaches your website after performing an online search.

You can also take a look at the “All Traffic Sources” report, which shows the top sources for your website. You can sort by Visits, Pages/Visit, and Bounce Rate. This will allow you to drill down even deeper into which sources perform better, or worse.

Gatraffic

5. Top Keywords

Somewhat linked to the previous report, your top keywords report will tell you which phrases users have been using in their search engine queries before landing on your website. Based on these results, make sure to optimize your site and bid accordingly!

Google-analytics-keywords-screen

Are there any other reports in GA that you’re using on a daily basis? Share away!

 

Posted by My Truong

My Truong is the Marketing Programs Manager at VerticalResponse. Connect with him on Twitter @PtitMy.

5 Ways to Advertise Your Website for Free

Looking for ways to promote your website on a budget? How about for free? Some of the best website advertising methods will cost you nothing more than a little time.

There is no word in the English language that seizes interest as much as the word FREE. Oh there are some that tantalize, but free things just causes us do the funniest things. We keep free gimmicky stuff all the time that we know we’ll never utilize, but do it anyhow, and then try to pawn it off for $0.05 at a yard sale in the summer.

They say the best things in life are free: love, friendship, intellect, but hardly in life does free stuff give any true worth, as in products and services. Well, in the web based arena, that is not consistently the truth, specifically in web page marketing. It’s because what is free of charge to you is providing value to the person giving it away. So pay attention business owners on a tight budget, because here are Five FREE Ways to Advertise Your Site:

1) Directory Listings

Search for free company rosters and see what comes up. Tons and I mean loads, of websites that allow you to list your business or site for absolutely no cost. Why? Because their financial models are typically based upon the up-sell, see that, the premium listing. Oh you get the basics free of charge, but what you really prefer is the one that allows you to load pictures, videos, and the longer, expanded version recap. The good part is, nearly all of the free versions will list your site link, and this helps individuals discover you and your internet backlink method. Here are a few of the most popular directories:

  • Manta.com
  • Biz Highway
  • Dexknows
  • Superpages

And let’s not lose sight of the search engine wars that lead to millions of gratuitous, unclaimed listings for companies like:

  • Google Places
  • Yahoo Local
  • Bing Local

Does it take time to complete their listing forms? You know it! It’s free, but not effortless.

2) Complimentary PR

Have a new good or service you would like to get recognized? Write a news release and get it submitted through a PR service that, like the directories, provides free fundamental press release submittal services. These generally won’t arrive at the main media outlets, most of whom use sites like PR Newswire or Business Wire, but the middle tier media outlet market can be accessed by PR services with cost-free options, like…

  • PR.com
  • PR Log
  • 24-7 Press Release
  • I-Newswire

3) Social Media

If you are trying to get reach on the internet and you don’t have a Facebook page, LinkedIn account, Google+ page and Twitter username, shame on you! All of these provide absolutely free listings on websites with extremely high Google page rankings. They’re the most significant social media websites on the web. If you have a business you can also get a business page on these sites that links to your individual profile. Even when you don’t have time to “work” these websites to their fullest, there is link juice available from even the most horrible fan profiles.

A better method is to get in the social media arena and pick one or two of these to construct pages and initiate a communication with others who are already comfortable using this vehicle.

And there are lots of supplementary social sites for headlines, bookmarking et cetera that enable you to acknowledge your site if not get a posting. A solid listing of more of them than you can possibly manage can be located on Shareaholic.

4) Offer Commentary

You and I both know there is way too much free information on the net, however we still have a couple of favored blogs or news websites we go to get our fill of self-help or what’s taking place in the realms that we follow.

So do others who might just want to visit your blog. On nearly all blogs, you are able to write comments. The blog writers like this because it tells the search engine world and new readers that people are engaged in their content, and nothing detrimental can stem from that. When you leave a comment, you’ll usually have the option to connect your website link to your reply. Often you can link to other items to as a possibility, like your Facebook or Twitter page.

Do it. If you reserve 30 minutes a week, you can browse recent columns from your favored sites and write purposeful (key word) remarks on them. Gradually, the value of your insights combined with the link back to your website will create traffic and SEO power.

5) Your Email Signature

This is the easiest free of cost technique I know of to get people to a blog, and the one that is surprisingly most often overlooked. Every email you send ought to have a standard footer that describes you. It usually has a name, title or something captivating about you, and some way to connect with you. It should also have your website linked or whatever other page you may want to lead people to, like a LinkedIn page. You can use a text anchor link, like Visit us for your San Diego SEO, or spell out the link beginning with http so it looks like http://www.yourlink.com and will be visible in text-based web mail browsers also and a live hyperlink in most email programs. Emails get forwarded, copied, and otherwise shared. You don’t know who is reading and clicking.

Free stuff is normally worth what you pay for it: zero, but using these 5 techniques, Free Website Promotion is alive and well. Use the mechanisms at hand, add a smidgen of energy and initiative, and get your blog out there.

by Karl Walinskas

3 Common Mistakes Using the Google Keyword Tool and How to Fix Them

#1: Not Realizing That The Default Search Is “Broad” Match Type

A common error goes like this: You search for a keyword, say themes for blogger, and see that it gets over 90,000 global monthly searches. Excited, you build a site targeting that phrase, and then are baffled when you only get a trickle of hits from that keyword, even when you start to rank highly. What happened?

By default, the Keyword tool searches by “Broad match.” This means that it includes all related searches that happen to contain those words.

In our example, hundreds of other keyword phrases, such as premium themes for blogger or best themes for blogger 2011 are all counted in the total number. And since they contain completely different words, your site likely won’t be ranking for them.

On the left sidebar of the screen, you will see “Match Types” part-way down. There you will see that “Broad” is checked. If you change it to “Exact,” for our example, you will see that the exact phrase gets only a couple hundred searches per month, which explains the small traffic. In other cases, there might actually be zero exact matches!

#2: Thinking that “Competition” Refers to Other Websites Targeting Your Keyword

Everyone wants to find keywords that only a few other websites are targeting, but using the “Competition” tab in the Google Keyword Tool for this purpose is a big mistake!

This little bar is referring to the number of advertisers who are bidding for that term; it has absolutely nothing to do with the number of competing websites in Google organic search. In fact, picking keywords with low advertiser competition will mean there aren’t many relevant companies purchasing ads, so if you use Google AdSense, you will likely get ads that aren’t very related to your website and a lower CTR.

It’s important to remember that the Google Keyword Tool was designed for advertisers, and we webmasters are repurposing it as a tool to help generate website ideas. To effectively assess website competitors for a keyword, you can use a free plugin SEO for Firefox or a paid tool such as Market Samurai.

#3: Neglecting to Consider the Implications of Different Keywords

This third and final mistake has less to do with the Google tool specifically but rather keyword research in general. Many webmasters get too wrapped up in the search volume and forget to consider the intent of the searcher as well as the general profitability of a niche.

If your goal is to promote affiliate products, for example, you might be able to find some related keywords that get thousands of searches per month, but if they are “informational” keywords and searchers won’t be interested in buying anything, a very low percentage of that traffic will convert.

Instead, it’s good to target keywords that users will search when they are actually interested in buying. Names of products and brands are typically “buying” keywords, and mixing in words such as reviews, buy, cheapest, online, and price comparisons” can provide great results.

Also, in certain niches, such as technology or blogging, most users are savvy and have become “ad-blind,” which will mean very few clicks. Other niches might not have many quality products or advertisers competing for the popular search terms, making monetization extremely difficult.

Keeping these ideas in mind will get you off to a good start in picking appropriate keywords and generating more traffic to your websites!

Article by Andrew Walsh

http://www.technshare.com/google-keyword-tool-mistakes/

39 Cost-Cutting Tips for Your Small Business

39 Cost-Cutting Tips for Your Small Business

by Cathy Zimmerman

Summary: Think you’ve exhausted all the ways to save money in your business? Don’t be sure until you’ve taken a look at these 39 small business cost-cutting tips.

The beginning of a new year is a good time to re-examine your spending and look for ways to trim the fat and increase your bottom line. Here are some cost-cutting tips to get you started.

  1. Save on postage by delivering invoices and statements via email.
  2. Download free online forms instead of buying them at office supply stores.
  3. Offer catalogs and brochures as pdf downloads to save printing and shipping costs.
  4. Turn down the heat or turn up the A/C.
  5. Turn off unnecessary lights.
  6. Set your printer to draft mode to save ink.
  7. Re-fill your own printer cartridges.
  8. Switch your telephone land-line to VOIP or cable.
  9. Use free open source or cloud-based applications.
  10. Check every invoice and verify charges before paying.
  11. Pay bills on time to avoid fees.
  12. Consider telecommuting, virtual assistants, or shared office space.
  13. Review your cellular plan usage and compare rates elsewhere before renewing.
  14. DON’T cut marketing, but target your niche to get the most for your ad bucks.
  15. Cross-train your employees to help each other during crunch time instead of hiring temps.
  16. Use interns and freelancers for short-term projects.
  17. Take advantage of discounts: 2% for paying early, discount for cash, free shipping over $50, etc.
  18. “Fire” customers that waste more time and money than they’re worth.
  19. Follow purchase order requirements to be sure your invoices get paid on time.
  20. Stop selling to slow-paying accounts.
  21. Concentrate on customer service to keep return rates down.
  22. Double-check addresses before shipping to avoid costly mistakes.
  23. Include promotional material in outgoing packages: coupons, newsletters, fliers.
  24. Use email and social media instead of direct mail to test new offers and coupons for your customers.
  25. Shop around for better rates on printing, shipping, and office supplies.
  26. Use free shipping materials from USPS, UPS and FedEx.
  27. Sign up for free business directory listings online.
  28. Barter/partner for advertising – i.e. pizza delivery ads on hotel key cards.
  29. Buy used furniture and office equipment.
  30. Reuse, reduce, recycle.
  31. Share your expertise in newsgroups, public appearances, blogs and social media and get free exposure.
  32. Look for online firms that offer a free basic service (i.e. Skype) with paid upgrades when you need them.
  33. Join a networking group and find a mentor with more experience to advise you.
  34. Look for rebates/incentives to replace old equipment with newer more energy-efficient systems.
  35. When travelling, use free airport shuttles and eat lunch where there’s free wifi, but be sure to follow these wifi safety precautions.
  36. Don’t book at a convention hotel without comparing rates with your AAA, AARP or credit card discount.
  37. Meet clients between meals in a quiet upscale hotel lobby.
  38. Use free teleconference services.
  39. Participate in virtual trade shows to network without travel expenses.

Generating New Business on Facebook

How To Generate New Business On Facebook Today