Your Secret Weapon: Customer Feedback

When it comes to making improvements in your work, or how you make your products, or tweaking  the products themselves, who do you ask for help?

When it comes to improving yourself, how do you figure out what you need to focus on? It starts with the pain, right?

Usually we wait until the discomfort becomes too great for us to bear and then we start fixing things that are causing the pain, but sometimes we’re smart enough to ask for help before reaching that point, and when we ask, we turn to the people we trust. Don’t you ask your friends?

Unless you have very few competitors in your niche, you can’t rest on your laurels when it comes to keeping up with the changes that  innovations and time pushes onto any market. If you don’t push yourself to keep learning — making mistakes and adjusting for them along the way — you won’t expand your knowledge. You won’t be able to adjust when something new comes along that can impact you, your products, and your business.

Think of it. The things we’re capable of doing today — mobile banking, on-demand streaming services, seamless virtual conferencing, for example — didn’t exist two decades ago. The infrastructure and the technology simply weren’t there. Now that they are, look at the changes they made to how people manage money, music, entertainment and media, and how we communicate across borders and time-zones.

And even now, with all the advances in science and collaborative technology, we really have no way to predict with pinpoint accuracy what’s going to pop up in the next twenty years.  Entire industries got turned over since then, and long-standing business practices eroded and were swept away by the change brought about by new tech.

The speed at which we were able to generate and share our discoveries zoomed, and so did the amount of data let out into the world.  There’s too much information for any one person to get all sides and perspectives of issues.

And that means that you have to stay sharp — and staying sharp requires resources, time-management, and dedication. Working smart and working hard — and asking questions. Questions are a timeless way of getting more information, and with the apps and online tools we have at our disposal, well, we can all drown in looking for what we can use to make improvements.

Which leads then to this: Have you ever crowd-sourced brainpower?
Continue reading Your Secret Weapon: Customer Feedback

Beyond The Launch: Stop Serious Membership Site Mistakes

Memberships are a great way to establish a solid source of recurring income from your website, and if you’re in the process of brainstorming for products to offer your customers, here are some important points you need to consider to ensure a successful membership website, and not just a successful membership launch.

Don’t let the well run dry.
The rush and hustle to launch a website can overshadow the fact that you need good content to come out on a regular basis so customers will keep coming back. Starting out with a bang won’t do any good if you create a product that you can only sell one time. That’s the trick to re-purposing good content, see. People learn in different ways, and there are always those who will pay more to get the value they want in the way they want it.

Personalization through packaging and different formats are a great help here:

  • You can use content and re-format the information by condensing its essence into infographics.
  • You can offer helpful niche-specific templates, e-guides, and PLR.
    You can collect your articles and refine them into an ebook, or  outsource the material to make an audiobook for people on the go.
  • You could collect and expand your most popular articles into a series of short niche ebooks.
  • You can package your video lessons or collection of related webinars into a video course — and  aside from that online course, offer to bundle transcriptions,  audio-files, PDF’s and templates with that course and present it as a premium package, with premium prices.

Continue reading Beyond The Launch: Stop Serious Membership Site Mistakes

Don’t Just Have A Website, Have A Business

So, you have a website.

What does it do for you? What does it do for your customers?

At the core of it, at its best a business website is a communication tool and service portal. With the available automation and online tools for business websites, the determining factors in having a successful website is your clear definition of  what exactly success means for you.

What goals would a successful website hit for you? Pulling in X number of visitors each month? Getting Y number of quality leads in the same time frame? Pull in X amount of dollars in sales over the quarter? What?

The answer changes with each site owner, but with online businesses, your site has to meet some baseline requirements to  count as an asset to you, and most probably your accountant too.

Success in business is what you define it to be. Without a clear definition in place though, how would you know when you hit that state or not?  Does your website do what you need it to do for you? Your end goals define your means goals. It’s the difference between means goals and end goals that can help push your business  further.

A business website is the means for you to reach your goals — when it does so, that proves it’s successful. How well the business does for you is an end goal. You got to define your goals, otherwise, you may just be running in place and not feel as if you’re getting close to where you want to be.

You could be running a website and it may not even be helping you any closer to where you want to go with it.

How is your ‘flight path’?
Hitting the targets set means your website is on-course. Having a definite ‘plotted course’ lets you check how closely your site ‘s performance matches that course, and that displays how well it aligns with and contributes to your business goal. This performance should demonstrate what the site does to keep the business going, and how it provides continuing returns on effort, not just investment.

All that effort must come to a point. All the money must show a profit — that’s why it’s called a business and not a hobby.

And now back to our primary questions: Your website — what does it do for you? What does it do for your customers?

For you?
At the very least it should present and promote your products to your market. It should clearly share what your business specializes in, what products and services it offers, and the pricing if applicable.

Plus, it should identify who the business focuses on serving, and who make up the people involved in providing that service, etc. Your website  must communicate relevant information, remember?

For your customers?
At baseline it should be able to give them the information they need to decide whether you can help them solve a problem: maybe they need the right kind of information to decide whether you can help them, or  are looking for answers to questions they have, or an idea of the price range for something they’re thinking of buying.

  • Extending beyond that, a business conducted entirely online can sell digital products and process online payments seamlessly and securely.
  • Support functions include a way to get customer service and provide contact information to help give people a way to get in touch with you.
  • Healthy communication, online or offline, goes both ways, not just producer to consumer, or seller to  visitor.

Behind the scenes, part of the whole customer experience comes from a well thought-out marketing plan (from a good marketing team), linked with a great sales strategy and fulfillment department.

When these also fall in line under a clear, coherent, and cohesive vision for the entire business —and not just the website — then you get a great thing going for you.

The internet is always on. Your website–barring  scheduled downtime, hacking, and  mistakes in backing-up and updating—is always on. It works while you sleep. All these things mentioned, working in unison?

You won’t  just have a website. You have a web presence.

You know how some people just have that thing when that when they step into the room, you just know they’re there? That’s charisma. In a way, you need online charisma. And presence is something you can nurture and develop across many channels. For example, in business relationships:  Establishing a partnership with fulfillment – e-tailers (from retailers) drop-shippers, delivery hubs , and even joint ventures.

Making money as an affiliate marketer.
For example, Amazon has been leveraging this for years, and their system is pretty great. The affiliate get to combine their interests and make an income stream off them, the company’s presence, reach and branding is constantly invigorated — it’s a win for both parties. Money for affiliates, just to promote the things they themselves use or have as hobbies, etc.,  and the constant reinforcement of Amazon as the premiere online market position, as well as billions in sales.

In the early days, a website was like more of an online brochure — this is what they have, you go to the store itself to buy the product. Now, a business website can and should be so much more that a presentation, or a showcase. Communication is still the foundation, but so are the following things:

  • Call attention using the right platforms – Promotion
  • Presenting products to the right audience -Marketing
  • Providing good experience – Fulfillment
  • Providing safe shopping – Security and secured financial processing

When we say platforms, this is not just a reference to social media platforms. In the most simple scenario, a platform is a  structure that elevates. You stand on one, you make yourself visible. You speak from one, you make yourself known. Your website is a platform.

Just don’t be a billboard. Billboards –well, people get used to those. An unchanging presence on the sides of buildings or by the highway gets overlooked with time. An unchanging presence on the internet is just another dead site. Make that presence responsive and interactive, and you give your business a shot in the arm, rocket fuel, wings.

Don’t be a billboard. Be a presence. Don’t just have a website, have a business.

 

Helpful links:

Why You Need To Align Marketing and Sales

Running a business isn’t just about the freedom and the power to pick and choose what you do — it’s also about handling the responsibility of it. Big companies have internal departments — scaled up due to the number of employees they have– to handle certain jobs, like Human Resources, Payroll and Accounting, IT Support, etc. When you run a small business or a one-person service, you’re the pivot point– you’re the one to decide what to do with that kind of specialized work.

Plus, running an online business means promoting your services and selling your products, something which in bigger organizations means using sales and marketing departments.

While having dedicated teams can leverage the brain factor and parcel out the workload, when it’s down to a tiny group or just you, being the sole  overseer-slash-gatekeeper  can really leave you feeling yanked in all directions when it comes to researching, planning, and executing marketing and sales.

This is where organizational and goal alignment comes in very handy.  When people are committed to working together,they help each other up and forward in ways each can’t do on their own. When people work against each other, the most polite way you can say about that is that they’re working at cross-purposes.
Continue reading Why You Need To Align Marketing and Sales

List-building: Your Strongest Tool In Email Marketing

List building is a necessary part of growing your online business.
It is permission-based marketing. In exchange for a valuable niche-related freebie, the people who sign up for your list give you permission to email them, and every sign-up that means that more people are voluntarily joining a pool of others who have expressed interest in what you offered them, and are okay with getting more information about your niche from you.

Having a robust mailing list –that’s a list of pre-approved voluntary customers, without whom your business would not thrive — means you have a key asset for online business. Having a list means you have a group of people already primed to be interested in what you have to say, and what you have to sell. The people on your list signed up for what you gave them, and for what you can give them in the future. They’re your voluntary army of readers and prospects.

The importance of this ‘army’ cannot be emphasized enough: When you take the effort to grow your mailing list, you grow an pool of casual supporters. Sure, it’s quite probable that not all of them will buy products from you immediately, or truly become ravings fans straight out of the gate, but over time, the effort you make to build trust and strong relationships will help you build a community of supporters, customers, and fans.

Why is it important to start and keep building your list?
Continue reading List-building: Your Strongest Tool In Email Marketing

Thinking Ahead in Marketing Communications

When it comes to internet marketing we have tons of tools available to help us, but without clear goals supported by solid plans, even the best of tools won’t do us any good. We need to have  compelling  goals and solid processes to help use leverage the tools and resources we have. To be successful at fulfilling our targets, we need the ability to make and re-make well-formed plans  that will  bring us closer to realizing the big picture that our goals paint for us.

What are the helpful tools, skills,  and processes that an entrepreneur should work to make their own? Continue reading Thinking Ahead in Marketing Communications

Do You Have A Mobile Strategy?

Is your business dependent on the internet for its customers? Then maybe you should devote some serious thought and time towards creating a mobile strategy. Here’s why.

In a previous article, How To Develop A Mobile Mindset, we pointed out that the world-wide population of smartphone users is expected to exceed 2 billion by this year.  Smartphone users can do business and leisure from their phones — having your website optimized for mobile platforms lets you keep connected to your customers and your target market wherever they are.

The internet is not limited to personal computers — when you design your website to be mobile-friendly, you get to meet your customers where they are, whether they use tablets, phablets, or smartphones

Now, optimizing your website for mobile platforms is different from creating other initiatives for smartphones. The first deals with website design and content presentation, the second goes deeper into things like mobile apps, related security issues, and the like. The goals in this second area should relate to your business needs and goals as well. Continue reading Do You Have A Mobile Strategy?

4 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Marketing

 When you ask any business owner what they want from their marketing campaigns, their answer  can be generalized with this simple statement: “I want it to be a success, of course!”  Success means profits. Ask marketers the same thing, they’d say they want to see great results. Success means engagement. Success means high ROI. But what they want and what they get isn’t always the same. Marketing plans that take months in the planning can  result in mediocre results. Expectations get dashed.  What accounts for the discrepancy between their campaigns and the result these get?

For the most part, it’s the lack of specific action taken to increase the odds of success in their favor.

In business as in life, if you want good things to happen for you, you need to make it so it’s more and more likely that the good things will happen. If  business owners want to succeed, they  needs to work primarily to ensure that their  products or services answers their customer’s needs thoroughly, and that  they have a good relationship with their customers. For a marketer to be successful,  they  have  take the action the work requires to make sure their campaign’s well-crafted message gets to their target audience at the right time and in the right way to get the most positive results.

Marketers and entrepreneurs  can make a lot of mistakes in planning and executing their marketing campaigns. What follows are a few of the most common — can you see yourself doing them? Continue reading 4 Ways You Could Be Sabotaging Your Marketing

Top 7 Tips For Split-testing

From “How Split-testing Helps Your Marketing Campaigns” we shared the importance of using the split testing method –also known as A/B testing— to gain solid, reliable data on what gets positive responses from your target market, and from that make continuous improvements to your marketing campaigns. We also explained the important of split testing in gaining and developing insight into what makes your customers tick, which is crucial to business revenue and longevity.

In this post we’ll share the best practices when it comes to using the split-testing process, the principles to remember to keep your marketing progress steady and your results relevant and useful. Just as with every strategy, there are proven ways and means to conduct split testing for solid, trustworthy data. Here are what  you need to consider:

Stick to the scientific method
Design rigid testing protocols with tools that you can trust so you can be sure that you can rely on your testing and data-gathering process. Continue reading Top 7 Tips For Split-testing

How Split-testing Helps Your Marketing Campaigns

One of the best ways you can maximize returns and be on top of your business’s performance is using what your performance data is telling you. Analytics programs can show you results and statistics  gathered from clicks, open rates, impressions, return rates and sales, but at certain key points you can get a glimpse of what actions provide the best returns on investment and redirect your efforts.  And one of the key turning points involve split-testing.

Competition is fierce, and it’s within your control to carve out any edge and advantage which would translate into revenue via customer engagement. The answer  doesn’t lie in the obvious — what is ‘obvious’ may not stand  up under closer examination .  Sometimes our advantages lies in small, overlooked things, like the way we design a webpage, or how we title an email’s subject line. Again, the ‘obvious answer’ may not actually work, which is which is why we have to test, test, and test.

How do you know your marketing campaigns are optimized to drive as many conversions possible? What are the metrics you use? If you have a marketing campaign and a target number of conversions, they provide a framework in which to see if the campaign is working.

Say you’re successful. Can you replicate that success with the next campaign? How do you know what elements contributed to the success and failure of the campaign if you don’t test? Effectivity is just as important as ROI, and to narrow down on the effective elements in your marketing you need to isolate them and double check to see which ones work and which ones don’t. You can’t guess your way to it. That’s why there’s split testing. Continue reading How Split-testing Helps Your Marketing Campaigns