Archive for July, 2019

4 Ways to Improve Your Direct Marketing Campaigns

While inbound marketing strategies and content marketing have become the cream of the crop lately, there is still a place for direct marketing in any business.

Direct marketing campaigns are still one of the most efficient ways to communicate important messages to your audience. As such, it’s never a bad idea to think about new ways to increase the ROI of your direct marketing efforts.

Whether you’re a small business or a mid-sized company looking to reach the next level in your development, here are four surefire ways to improve your direct marketing campaigns.

Start using A/B testing

AB testing is one of the best ways to test how the decisions you’re making play a role in customer behavior. By offering users two different options, you can begin to measure how button placement, anchor text, color, and more play a role in influencing how a customer engages with your business. You can A/B test anything from an email newsletter to the design of your website.

Many platforms even offer you the ability to offer two separate versions of the same content to test on smaller portions of your audience. Then you can distribute the more popular version to a wider list based on how each campaign performs. This approach to direct marketing ensures that your emails have maximum impact by drawing on the way your existing audience engages with them.

The result is a much higher ROI for your communications, which can be a boon for any business.

Analyze your data

Oftentimes as a business owner, you may feel like you’re making decisions in a vacuum, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Harnessing customer data is one way to do that, since it can help you learn more about the areas where your business is meeting your customer’s needs and where you could improve.

Recognizing specific sales trends and using them to predict future behavior is one way to implement this kind of data. If you know that a product sells better during a certain season, it may be worth featuring it in your direct marketing campaigns near that season.

From refining and defining your audiences to assisting in scheduling your campaigns, customer data can be a veritable treasure trove of information when it comes to optimizing your direct marketing practices.

Expand your audience

Another way to improve your marketing campaigns is to expand your audience by finding potential customers who have similar attributes to your existing client base. For example, if you see that a specific product does particularly well with a unique subsection of your audience (like women aged 26-35), it may be worth finding a lookalike audience for this particular demographic.

Paying for targeted mailing lists is one way to achieve this. You’ll be able to curate a list of consumers based on a variety of factors like geography, age, gender, credit rating, and more.

Pick the right medium

Remember that when it comes to direct marketing, you have a variety of options to consider, from email to social media to mail and display ads. If your data reveals certain information about how different forms of communication perform with different audiences, you can leverage your customers’ preferences to increase your ROI for each campaign.

Reading up on various consumer reports can also help you ensure that the medium is a good match for your message. For example, while many people would stereotype millennials as an audience which cares more about social media marketing, some studies have illustrated that direct mail actually has a huge return when delivered to millenials.

As a business owner, you should always be looking for ways to improve how you operate. Marketing often offers room for improvement, so taking a good, hard look at your approach to direct marketing can really bolster your business’ performance.

Keep the above ideas in mind as you audit your direct marketing strategies so that you can create even stronger sales for your company.

How to Start a Successful Online Business

Entrepreneurship could be considered the wave of the future. In fact, more than 15 million Americans are self-employed full-time, and the number is estimated to continue to grow by millions more. Of course, there’s no rule that says you have to be self-employed full-time in order to reap the benefits of your own business. Many entrepreneurs start their businesses on the side. Some end up leaving their traditional jobs as their business grows, and others never do. Either way, earning extra money from an online venture isn’t as hard as you might think.

There are hundreds of ways to make money online. Some require a lot more time than others, so the real questions you should be asking yourself pertain to how much time you can spare and how much effort you’re willing to put forth. Once you’ve answered those questions, you can follow these steps for starting your own successful online business.

Choose your business

This step in the process could take some time, but the best way to find out what types of businesses are available is to visit online forums and read blog posts about other online entrepreneurs. Most online businesses fit into one of two categories: Selling products or selling services.

Selling products is sometimes the easiest model to follow if you aren’t sure what else you can offer. This can be done by selling used or new merchandise, but you’ll need to choose your platform. One example of this type of business is to buy an Amazon return box for a fairly low price and then mark the items up to sell yourself. You can sell your items on Ebay, Amazon, Etsy, or a number of other platforms. Or, you can sell them on Facebook’s marketplace, Craigslist, or even garage sales.

Service-based businesses might require a little more effort to start, but they are usually the least expensive to get off the ground. Some examples of services you can offer are writing, consulting, bookkeeping, transcribing, graphic design, and marketing. But these are only limited by your imagination. Figure out what you’re good at, what people need, and what you can feasibly offer to find your own niche.

Build your website

Almost every online business needs its own website. This is your space where people can find you and learn more about what you offer. The type of website you have will depend entirely on your business. For example, if you’re going to sell products, you might need a website with an e-commerce plugin, such as Shopify or WooCommerce.

The exception to this is for online selling businesses that will strictly use Ebay, Amazon, or some other ready-made platform for their products. In these cases, you can choose to build your own website for advertising purposes, but not many people do.

Of course, you’ll want to make sure that your hardware is also in optimal condition. If your computer lags, freezes, or is broken, be sure to fix it before you embark on your online business venture. This computer repair shouldn’t cost you much, and it is a crucial aspect in ensuring that you won’t face technical issues moving forward.

Market your business

In the case of online selling on platforms like Ebay and Amazon, your marketing is pretty much done for you. That doesn’t mean you can’t learn techniques to boost your listings. It just means you probably won’t need a full-blown campaign to unload your merchandise. For most every other type of business, though, you’ll need a marketing strategy.

The best place to begin is social media. In fact, many businesses base their entire campaigns strictly on one or two platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter. This is because almost everyone in the world has at least one social media profile, and it’s a free and easy tool to use.

You can then branch out into content marketing, which would include blogging on your own website and others. This type of outreach can be done on other sites in your niche. For example, if your website is about computer repair, you would want to reach out to other technology websites to see about guest-posting or swapping social media mentions.

Most Common Staffing Issues (and Why You Should Enlist the Help of an Agency)

Running a business is hard enough, but staffing challenges can make helming a company even more challenging. While many reports say that the job market is booming, the simple fact remains that some positions are harder to fill than others. Whether it’s your industry, an unexpected resignation, or the job itself, there are dozens of challenges to finding good applicants for your company. Here are some of the most common staffing issues businesses face, and why it may make sense to work with a recruitment agency if you’re really struggling.

Finding a good candidate in time

Timing is one of the trickiest aspects of filling a position because an unexpected departure in your business may cause a vacancy at a time when less people are looking for and applying to jobs. Even if you’re doing everything you can to put the jobseeker first, you may find that the lack of an employee is hindering your team’s ability to really make progress at work. Often times, a recruitment agency can help you address these concerns, as they are used to using their network to quickly find interested, qualified candidates. Agencies are accustomed to working under urgent constraints, and will do their best to find you a suitable replacement as quickly as possible.

Adding new positions to expand your business

Sometimes, you need to add roles to your company but aren’t quite sure how to properly vet a candidate. For example, if you’re looking for a new creative director or press agent, you may be able to respond to their portfolio of work but aren’t quite sure what sort of experience can differentiate a good candidate from a great candidate. Finding a talent recruiter with time-tested experience sourcing applicants for specific positions is one way to solve this issue. Even consulting with them as you craft your job listing will ensure that you’re advertising the position appropriately and highlighting the skills and job responsibilities that fit your needs, too.

Finding a specialized candidate

Sometimes, your business is really looking for a candidate with specialized skills or knowledge. Even if your job description clearly outlines the minimum requirements necessary to perform a job, many job seekers will still apply to your listing, hoping that they can learn the skill through experience. In these types of situations, it’s often a good idea to seek a recruitment agency to eliminate unqualified candidates. An article for LinkedIn outlines the most common kinds of recruiters, but generally an external recruitment agency with specific knowledge of an industry or field is a good direction to head in. For example, you may enlist engineering staffing agencies to help you find a good fit for your job if an engineering degree is a prerequisite for the position.

Recruitment efforts eating into other HR duties

If you have a human resources manager who generally handles recruitment efforts, they may find that some job searches simply take up too much of their time. Besides making hires and on-boarding employees, HR managers and directors are also responsible for thinking about your company’s big picture goals with administrative staff, serving as a liaison between employees and senior staff to ensure a collaborative and focused workplace. If you find that your human resources team is swamped by the recruitment aspect of evaluating job applicants, it may be worth your time to hire an agency to help.

Recruitment is a tricky business, and it never hurts to get some help. Spending the time to find a recruitment agency that understands your company’s staffing needs and business goals can be a great way to combat any of the above staffing issues. A professional recruitment agency will be able to tap its staff of qualified candidates to quickly find you people worth interviewing, giving you a jumpstart on your search to find the perfect employee.

Best Practices for Dust Management in Construction Sites

Many construction activities generate dust that can endanger the health of the workers and the environment. This makes it crucial for the management of construction businesses to determine the most effective dust suppression strategies to implement. In this article, we’ll list the best practices to manage dust effectively and minimize the likelihood that it will be a significant hazard.

  1. Use Atomized Mist

One of the most innovative approaches for dust control is the use of atomized mists, which are finer and more effective in saturating dust compared to the water that comes out of hoses and sprinklers. The dust absorbs the tiny droplets to weigh them down. This is also effective in dealing with fugitive dust. If you are looking for top-notch dust control products that create atomized mists, check out the selections that are available at https://bosstek.com/.

  1. Manage Vehicles

Motor vehicles in construction sites generate dust that harms humans and the environment. Some of the best practices include turning off the engines when necessary, washing wheels and other components where dust may cling, imposing a speed limit within the construction site, and using fixed sprinkler systems, among others.

  1. Provide Personal Protective Equipment

In many construction settings, using personal protective equipment is one of the most common ways to reduce the risk of dust exposure. The PPE includes dust masks, respirators, and goggles. It makes sure that the workers won’t be able to inhale dust and that it won’t irritate the eyes or skin.

  1. Train the Employees

Even with the right equipment and processes, they won’t be relevant if the workers do not know how to use them properly. It is also crucial that you train and inform the employees. Plus, they need to know the dangers of construction dust, which will compel them to participate in the on-going efforts of the management to eliminate such hazard.

  1. Know the Law

The implementation of measures to control dust in the construction site is not optional. Depending on where you live, it is most probably what the law requires as a way of protecting individuals who are directly exposed to the dust particles. By knowing the law, you can prevent the possibility of paying hefty fines because of your inability to follow health and environmental standards.

  1. Create a Waste Management Plan

Waste disposal is one of the activities that generate dust in the construction site. It is crucial to have a solid approach in managing the waste. Make sure that you contain it in a safe place and that you throw it properly to avoid generating dust particles.

  1. Assign a Point Person

The strategies that we have mentioned above will be useless in the absence of its proper implementation. This requires the need to appoint someone who can strictly enforce the rules and innovative practices for dust management. This person should be also held accountable.

From using equipment with atomized mists to assigning a point person, this post tackles effective strategies for dust management. Doing these things is good for the employees, the environment, and the business in general.

How to Make the Most Out of Customer Data

Data analytics is a priority in many businesses. They use information about their customers in several ways, such as in terms of improving their products and personalizing their marketing campaigns. With this, it is important to make the most out of customer data, which is possible by doing the things we will briefly talk about in this article.

  1. Organize Data

Data is useless if you do not organize it and if it is not actionable. One of the best things to do is to use a customer data platform. The latter is one of the best ways to gather and organize both online and offline data. It makes sense of customer information and interactions, which you can use for your marketing campaigns. It makes data available in a single platform.

There are many options for the best customer data platform you can use in your business, but one of the most promising is Lytics.

  1. Pay Attention to Data Quality

To use customer data effectively, it is important that you focus on quality and not quantity. A good starting point is to determine what exactly is the information that you need from your customers. Do not collect more than necessary. It is easy to make poor decisions and ineffective strategies when the management receives inaccurate data.

  1. Gather Feedback

Another important thing to do to make the most out of your customer data is to gather feedback. This gives you insights on what you are doing wrong in the process of collecting information. More importantly, it provides opportunities for improvement in the implementation of future action plans for information gathering.

  1. Know the Rules

Collecting customer data is not as straightforward as it seems. There are rules that you need to understand. Otherwise, there can be serious legal repercussions and it can cause your business to suffer. You should not violate privacy laws. This makes it important to work with a lawyer to be sure that you are not breaking any law as you collect information about your customers. See to it that your company has the proper approach to data management, such as in making sure that you won’t sell it to third-party users and that you will utilize the best practices to keep data safe.

  1. Keep it Secure

Data security is also a crucial concern. Make sure that there are systems in place to protect the information that you have about your customers. They share it with you expecting that you will keep it private. Draft policies that stipulate how exactly you intend to use the information that you have. Train employees on their individual roles. See to it that you have multi-factor authentication to prevent unauthorized use of customer data.

Consider our suggestions above to maximize the benefits of customer data. From using the right platform to implementing tight security measures, these things will help in making the most out of the information your business has about its customers.

Ways to Give Your Customer Service a Human Touch

Customer service is a catch-22 situation. On the one hand, you must be efficient, fast, and helpful. At the same time, your customer service has to feel personal, empathetic, and confident.

So, how can you give your customer service a personal touch while keeping things moving at the pace you need for good growth?

Use the right software

Zendesk call center software can make all the difference to your customer service experience. The omnichannel integration allows your agents to see all communications from a caller across all channels. This eliminates frustration for customers who don’t understand why the person they’re talking to on the phone doesn’t know about the email they wrote last week.

Call center software also routes incoming calls to the best agent to deal with a problem. This makes your agents more efficient while also providing the highest level of service to your customers and customizing their experience.

Help agents learn how to treat people as individuals

Efficient customer service is all about speedy solutions. Personal customer service balances that need with the reality that every person calling with an issue is an individual with unique needs.

To do this effectively, agents have to be able to take a moment to put themselves into the customer’s shoes. How would they feel if they had this problem? What would they be worried about? Thinking along these lines, agents will be able to provide service that feels unique to each caller.

Prioritize soft skills among your agents

The best agent isn’t necessarily the one who can blow through the most calls in an hour, or even the one who brings in the most money. While converting callers is very important, that’s a short-sighted goal.

Ultimately, the agents who provide personalized customer service that gets people talking about your company in a positive way may be providing more value in their hour at the desk than someone else who brings in more revenue in the moment. Communication skills, a positive attitude, critical thinking ability, and good listening and persuasion skills are crucial.

Make your website more personal

You might not think your website has much to do with a personalized customer service experience, but it can be extremely valuable. To personalize, you need to be relevant to each individual’s needs. If every link a potential customer clicks on takes them to your home page, you’re not offering a relevant experience.

Most home pages have more than one call to action and can be tricky to navigate. Instead, tailor your incoming link buttons to take people to pages that are more relevant to the needs they’re online for at the moment.

Reach out at the right moment

If you overwhelm people with calls and emails, you’ll just turn them away. You have a better chance of earning and keeping customer loyalty by learning what they really need and reaching out when you have something relevant to them personally.

Make a note when people ask about things that are out of stock, and be sure to let them know when that item is back in. Pay attention to the type of things they tend to buy and let them know when something similar (but not identical) comes around.

Make sure everyone is satisfied

Customers like knowing that you think of them as more than just dollar signs. Always follow up transactions with calls or emails to make sure people are satisfied and to genuinely ask for feedback.

By inviting genuine feedback, you invite people to become a part of your business. This gives them a stake in who you are, however small, that usually translates into greater loyalty and positive discussion on social media.

SEO Goals and Strategies for Small Businesses

If you run a modern small business, you can’t afford to ignore search engine optimization. The set of techniques known as “SEO” for short are all about getting Google and the rest of the search engine gang to move your business up the search engine results page for relevant queries.

But how do you go about doing this, and what sorts of searchers could become your next customers? Here’s what you need to know about setting goals and getting results in the exciting world of SEO.

Relevance is everything

Google fields trillions of search queries every year. A quick look at Google trends will show you that some queries are searched millions of times. Being at the top of one of those search engine result pages would be wild: You’d get millions of clicks.

Highly trafficked search terms are the toughest to rank for, though. Besides, your business website isn’t going to convert a lot of searchers into customers if you target people searching for “Tom Brady,” for example (unless you run a sports collectibles shop that sells Tom Brady memorabilia). The best way to approach SEO is to target the right queries and keywords.

That means considering how your current and future customers will try to find you. Will they search for “auto repair,” “car maintenance,” or both? Will they search for “tailor” or “tuxedo rentals?” Keyword research is critical to exposure.

Keyword research is something that you can do using sites like Google Trends and other search engines and SEO resources. It’s also something that you can hire experts to do, though, and that might not be a bad idea (as we’ll see later on, experts can be a huge help in SEO). Just be sure to communicate your business goals so that the pros can line them up with your SEO goals.

Link to the future

A lot goes into great search engine optimization. But if you really want to move up the search engine results page, then you’ll want to turn to SEO experts who will give you a great link-building strategy.

Links are at the core of how search engines work; in fact, they’re how the “web crawlers” that search engines use to map the internet get around. Google considers links to be an indicator of a site’s quality (if you’re highly cited, Google reasons that you must be knowledgeable). However, the best link building company for you will also know that not all links are created equal. You need quality links from sites with high “domain authority” scores, so that Google will admire the links and move you up the rankings.

Understanding your progress

So, if you invest in SEO, you should fly right up the search engine results page, right? Not necessarily.

Unfortunately, SEO progress is a bit more slow-and-steady than that. Getting to where you want to go will take time and experimentation. Google isn’t apt to change its opinions overnight and, if you try to get it to do so, you could bring unwanted attention to your SEO tactics. The best SEO strategy focuses on white hat techniques that will gradually push your business into a better and better position in regard to search engines.

Outsource your SEO

Great search engine optimization is tricky. There are a lot of factors involved. Sure, links loom large, but they’re not all that matters: You have to worry about the text on your site, HTML code and commands, and so much more.

You don’t have time for all of that; you have a business to run. That’s why it’s a good idea to outsource your SEO to experts in SEO and digital marketing. With the right professionals in your corner, you can rest assured that you’re moving up the rankings while still focusing on the things that your business is really here to do.

Is Your Plant Nursery Taking Root with Consumers?

Running a plant nursery can be both enjoyable and exhausting at the same time.

For one, you get to grow plants and other items that consumers can use in their yards, places of business and more. That said it takes time and the proper nurturing to make sure all those things you grow take root.

So, is your plant nursery taking root with consumers?

Your Facilities Need to Be Top-of-the-Line

In coming up with the proper setting and conditions for a nursery, remember the following:

  1. Location – The location you have for a plant nursery is of major importance. If not happy with your present locale or are thinking about opening up a new nursery, do not sleep on location. If you are in a hard to get to location, it can mean fewer consumers will visit you over time. In the event you are in an area with little room to grow, it can also hinder you moving forward. Last, an area where weather can play havoc with what you grow can also prove negative. An example here would be being located in an area that is prone to flooding during and right after heavy rains. Do your best to come up with an area prime for growing.
  2. Equipment – Making sure you have all the necessary equipment will prove key too. As an example, do you have the proper water temperature for hydroponics? For those not aware, hydroponics is a means of growing plants without using soil. In doing this, plants take on mineral nutrient solutions through a water solvent. If you assumed soil was the only way to go about growing your plants, think again. Over time, you could find this an easier and even more affordable way to grow. Of most importance, make sure you keep your water temperatures at the right level. The last thing you want is your plants not getting the proper amount of water and at the right temperatures. One of the biggest killers of plants and vegetables is extreme weather conditions. If it is too hot or cold for the items you are trying to grow, you could find yourself with notable losses.
  3. Help – It is pretty hard to run a plant nursery without some good help. That said do your best to hire top-notch workers. Working at a nursery can be a little demanding at times. This especially can be the case when the weather turns rather hot. You also want employees who can deal with the occasional fickle customer or two. By making sure your workers know their responsibilities, your nursery can thrive.
  4. Branding – Finally, do all you can to promote your brand. There can be a lot of competition in the nursery business. This is even truer these days with the Internet in play. When you market your brand the right way, it can do wonders for your business. Emails, texts, social media, customer word-of-mouth are but a few of the ways to promote.

Whether you put the city life behind you and start a nursery or have one planted in a city, do your best to have a green thumb.

Why You Should Study A Digital Marketing Course If You Want To Succeed On The Web

In the past decade the internet has become a powerful life-force. It can even be described as a world of its own where everyone from your family and friends, to your favorite brands and celebrities has created their own unique space. People use their digital space for a variety of things. We use it to shop online, keep in touch with family and even as a news source. Others use it for professional networking, as a way to reach new customers and to engage with fans.

With the constant advances in technology and the evolving nature of the internet as a whole one can easily get lost in the shuffle if you don’t keep up with all these changes. The reality of living in a tech-savvy world is that everyone needs to have a basic knowledge of digital marketing to be successful online.

What Exactly Is Digital Marketing and Why Is It Important?

Textbooks describe digital marketing in a broad sense, as the marketing/advertising of products or services using digital technology and platforms.Since the rapid rise in technology over the last decade business have started to place more focus on their digital marketing efforts in order to maintain prominence in their respective fields.

People spend an extremely large amount of time online. As a brand or business this means your potential customers are online. This is why digital marketing is important. It gives you the opportunity to reach your audience/customers directly and instantly.

How Will A Digital Marketing Course Help Me?

You may not realize it but everyone with an online presence does a little bit of digital marketing every day. Each time you tweet, upload a photo to Instagram or share a post on Facebook you’re marketing yourself to your friends and followers.

It might sound odd but the thought and time you take to choose a photo, meme or inspirational quote (while taking into account the type of reaction you will get) is basic digital marketing.

Your favorite brands, musicians, movie stars and business do the same thing too. But when it’s done on a larger scale they hire a marketing team to create the content for them.

If you’re a professional blogger, influencer or freelance writer a digital marketing course can help you master the basics of digital marketing in order for you to maximize your success online.

What Does A Digital Marketing Course Offer?

There are a wide variety of digital marketing courses to choose from with each course giving you the skills and knowledge you need to create a successful online presence.

The courses cover aspects such as content creation, search engine optimization, social media management, analytics, public relations, web design, email marketing, audience segmentation, copywriting, website marketing, brand advocacy and much more.

Final Thoughts…

Digital marketing is the way of the future. Every type of business, brand or entrepreneur will constantly need to have someone on staff with proficient digital marketing skills. The digital marketing industry is constantly expanding to include a wide range of marketing services and products that are provided online. It’s the fastest growing and most active marketing technique used today, and it’s expected to grow further in the coming years. This is why a qualification in digital marketing is becoming increasingly valuable.

Digital content has become the preferred choice in today’s world so even a basic knowledge of digital marketing is a must-have.

If you want to expand your digital skills take a look at the digital marketing courses on offer at the Digital School of Marketing. Our courses will give you the edge you need to be successful on the web.