Stethoscope on laptop keyboard

Email Sender Statistics Demystified

If you’ve spent any time among marketing automation, especially emails, you’ll probably notice email sender statistics. And you’ll probably notice a lot of ambiguity for how you can change your sender statistics.

Stethoscope on laptop keyboard

The Basics

An email campaign report is made up of two primary components: email delivery statistics and engagement statistics. Both of these combine to create your overall email sender statistic.

 

Email delivery statistics are made up of hard bounces, soft bounces, marked as spam, and repressions.

A hard bounce is a failure to deliver. These will lower your sender status if you have too many. Try to keep these under 2%.

A soft bounce is a temporary failure to deliver. Two of these will not lower your sender status, but they become a hard bounce on the third failure, which will lower your sender status. Soft bounces are a warning the email might be invalid.

Marked as spam were emails delivered, but were flagged by the email provider as spam and placed in the junk folder.

A repression is an email that has been suppressed by the tool you’re using. Some software, such as SharpSpring, will automatically suppress emails that are “high risk”— those that have been bought and sold on lists heavily and are often blacklisted by spam watchdogs.

 

Engagement statistics are made up of deliveries, opens, and possibly internal clicks.

Deliveries are emails that were successfully delivered to the address.

Opens are emails that were opened by the client.

Internal clicks are when the person clicked on a link within the email.

You need low hard bounces, high engagement, and high volume in order to improve your sender status. Until you have sent multiple thousands of emails, you will be considered a low-quality sender for the safety of already-established high quality senders

 

Best Practices

You want to make sure your lists are clean before sending anything to them. Sites such as BriteVerify allow you to get detailed reports of how many emails will hard bounce or be repressed because the emails are associated with spam, and return you a clean list.

If the list has low percentages of bad emails, it’s safe to use.

When it comes to soft bounces, keeping an eye on emails that have soft bounced is critical. You can either manually check who has two bounces, or you can rely on an automatically-built list that remove emails from your lists after two soft bounces.

You also want to be making sure your subject lines are attention-grabbing and enticing to keep engagement up. Testing different subject line lengths, offers, keywords, and “sent from” addresses Having people open your emails helps establish you as a high quality sender.

Also segmenting your lists to those who primarily engage with your emails to send the majority of your communication to them, only doing infrequent mass mailings, helps keep your engagement statistics high.

All of this must be done over an extended period of time, with a large volume of emails. The amount of emails it takes to be considered a good sender fluctuates, but is multiple thousands of emails. Building up a reputation with a solid, reputable email provider is necessary to work your way up to proving yourself a good sender.

4 Ways to Improve Your Current Website

I had been referred to a consulting company by a mutual print representative who said they wanted some help with their online presence. I reviewed their website, social media accounts and any relevant posts and pages that came up in Google searches. When I met with the President of the firm I explained where I felt their deficiencies were, and what I recommended as a solution; which included a revamp of their current website.

While she concurred with most of what I had to say, she replied that their website did not need to be replaced. However, she went on to say “but, it isn’t really working for us. What can be done to improve our website, short of an actual overhaul or revamp?”

Her response is both understandable and fairly common, which made me think about it further. If you had a website that was developed only two or three years ago, you may feel reticent to invest in a new one. But like this client (yes, she’s a client now), you may not be satisfied with your website’s performance.

If you are happy with the website design and branding, if it is an easy, intuitive site to navigate, if it is responsive (automatically conforms and optimizes for different sized screens) and if it is accessible (people with disabilities can navigate your website) — then you may not need a new website. But, if it isn’t actively promoting your organization or contributing to the sales process then you’re letting it off easy.

In our digital age, a website should do more than say who you are and what you do. It is an opportunity to engage with your audience and impress upon them your ability to satisfy their needs.

Here are four things you can do to help turn your current website from an online brochure, to an online marketing machine.

1. Content Audit

Do you know what content you have and how it fits into your overall marketing and sales goals? Don’t worry, most companies don’t. (This blog will help you get started: Own Your Content) We recently completed a comprehensive content audit ourselves and were surprised to see how many holes we had in our own content and strategy! (A reminder that it needs to be looked at regularly to properly guide your content strategy.)

Having content is good, but in order for it to be strategic it needs to fit into a plan. The plan determines what you need, the audit reveals what you have, you determine how it fits into the overall strategy and what other pieces you need to fill the holes. To make this manageable, we use a spreadsheet with columns for:

  • Source (web page, blog, whitepaper, infographic, etc.)
  • Topic
  • Name/Title
  • Funnel (does it fit top, middle or low in the info/sales cycle)
  • Workflow (what workflow or campaign is it part of)
  • Usability (our own scale on how useful/effective it is for our audience)
  • CTA (is there a relevant/custom call-to-action/ad in the content)

2. Improving SEO

The times of keyword stuffing are long gone, but the importance of keywords is still prevalent. Google’s keen sense of good online content can sniff out the junk to determine what is truly a good resource with many layers and forms of relevant content. And you know what? Your audience is pretty good at it too, so try not to fool either. Provide substantial content that is of interest to your readers, and in different formats, such as video, images, infographics, as well as text.

Meta data is still important as it is used in your search displays, so word your page titles and descriptions carefully, to engage potential readers as they search the web. Check out our 5-Minute SEO Check You Can Do Yourself.

3. Leveraging Social Media

Your website may not offer much engagement or opportunity for dialogue, but your social media accounts do. If social media accounts are relevant to your business, look for ways to integrate them beyond a linked icon on your home page.

Streaming social content on your website is easy and can spur involvement. Inviting dialogue or feedback on topical issues within your industry, requesting and displaying testimonials can be effective, and adding polls or contests can be fun and engaging. Be sure that whatever you do fits with your brand, audience, and is part of an overall engagement strategy. Simply getting clicks, likes, retweets, etc. really doesn’t matter if it isn’t moving your audience along an information or sales cycle.

4. Marketing Automation

Often referred to as Inbound Marketing, automated marketing enables a series of tasks to be automatically completed when triggered. For example, a client clicks on an e-newsletter link to your “Our Widgits” web page, and visits a specific new widget page three more times in a week. That shows some obvious interest, so your website may automatically send an email to the client with more information on that specific widgit, additional shipping information and a link to your delivery schedule. If your client clicks on the delivery link, another more informative email could be sent, and the appropriate sales rep sent a prompt to call said client immediately. II the client doesn’t click on the delivery link, then a different email with other information and an incentive might be appropriate, or links to relevant blog articles, or references from other clients who have ordered that widgit…

Point being, strategic tasks can be set up to happen automatically, accommodating for the receiver’s actions and sending the right information at the right time. It allows you to look after prospects’ and clients’ needs efficiently and effectively. (Read more in Get Personal With Dynamic Emails.)

These four items — a content audit, improving SEO, leveraging social media and marketing automation — can each contribute to making your website far more effective and engaging to your audience. Used in combination, your website will become a veritable marketing machine.

Photo credt: GettyImages

How to avoid the junk mail folder- 3 important tips when launching email marketing

It’s our morning routine – waking up to check our inboxes only to find a long series of email prompts of “SALES NOW!” or “SAVE for a limited time only.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who ignores these emails or relegates them to the junk folder. Heck, as a marketer myself I’ve probably sent a couple annoying sales pitch emails. To be fair, creating effective promotional emails that stand out from all the clutter is not as easy as it sounds.

So, when it comes to creating successful promotional emails that will actually be opened, read and acted upon, what’s the secret? Here are three important tips when launching email marketing.

 

Why do so many businesses use email marketing? Because it’s a great way to stay connected to your audience and nurture their interest. With automation software, email content can be personalized for  specific lead personas, creating a dynamic email with customized content based on your customer’s interests and where they are in the sales cycle. But, as great as automation is when it comes to emails, it won’t magically make clients open them. It’s up to you to use convincing language and good email tactics to drive that success.

 

  1. Keep email subject lines catchy and brief

To get your customers to actually open an email, you need to engage them with the first thing that catches their eye the subject line. To create subject lines that stand out, consider the audience that’s receiving the email. Are you sending them a Follow-up email? Then make it sound like you’re carrying on the last conversation you had with them, try using their name or try putting a question in the subject line; these tactics engage and provide the promise that there is something worth reading in the body of the email.

As more and more people check their inboxes via their smartphone, it’s becoming all the more important that your subject line is not just catchy, but that it’s also brief, as few as 3- 4 words to ensure that it can fit on any screen.

To show that you are legit and to  their attention, we recommend that your subject lines:

  • Avoid long sentences
  • Keep all first text headers in black
  • Avoid CAPS and too many exclamation points!!!
  • avoid being all lower case

 

  1. There’s such a thing as TOO much email content

When it comes to upselling your business to people, believe me, I know that it’s easy to get carried away, but it’s important to remember: now that you’ve got your clients to open the email do not overwhelm them or bore themwith too much content.

Whether it’s a Thank you or a Follow up email, we recommend that you stick to three or four paragraphs. You can provide a more pleasing flow, and a more appealing email body, with a longer head in the middle of your email and shorter headlines at the start and end of the email.

Other important tips on email content:

  • If your email body is primarily text, use short paragraphs (approx. 50-130 words).
  • Use simple and clear language and try personalizing and making it sound conversational.
  • If you plan on using images to emphasize your message (e.g.  promotional banners), use multiple images instead of one big image. Spam readers tend to flag emails that use one big image.
  • Have one call to action button and personalize it with your company name, instead of “Download now!” say “Download PROSAR’s Email Whitepaper”.

 

  1. Timing is everything

Email frequency is always a concern for marketers; send too many and customers will probably choose to opt-out of your services. The key is to be there when your prospect feels they need you. That requires consistency, but optimum frequency varies depending on where they are in the sales cycle.

Obviously, email marketing should not involve indiscriminate sending (check out our Canadian Anti-Span Law Compliance blog if you’re worried about this), it’s about using automation software responsibly and effectively to engage your audience.

With automation you can set online touchpoints that trigger a previously prepared email. For example, if a customer visits a product page three times, an email can be sent out automatically, providing more details or benefits for that product, or notifying them when it is on sale, or even featuring recommendations for similar products. This type of dynamic email helps to ensure that your customers’ needs are being considered and that a sales opportunity is not lost.

Other tips on email frequency:

  • Prompt the audience on social media before you send out a new email campaign
  • Take advantage of time-off, like holidays, or downtime, like noon, to connect with your audience
  • Ask customers when they would like to hear from you, and how often

 

Email marketing is a communication and sales tactic that has been proven to convert leads.

Automation software, like SharpSpring, assist greatly in implementing, monitoring, measuring and fine-tuning your email strategy.  Whether you use software or not, heed these three tips and take advantage of the strengths of email marketing.

 

Photo credit: Busakorn Pongparnit / gettyimages

Align your marketing strategy and sales development for greater success.

3 Considerations to Improve Marketing and Sales

Sales is an integral aspect of any organization: manufacturers, service providers, member-driven associations, small business, bureaucratic enterprises… All organizations rely on a steady source of revenue to survive and grow. It is understood that marketing is an important aspect of creating awareness, positioning a brand and essentially creating a positive environment for sales to occur. Unfortunately, how marketing strategy and sales development successfully work together is often not fully considered.

The relationship between marketing and sales has long been a troubled one. Whereas they should be working together in synergy with the common goal of securing relationships to strengthen the organization, they are often actively at odds with each other, oblivious to each other, or embroiled in a cold war of secrecy and subterfuge.

The digitization of the business world and its business development processes has helped bring these two disciplines closer, and many software tools approach the two coherently. However, many organizations still seem to cling to the old ideology that promotes two separate silos with little connection.

To reap the rewards of harmonized marketing and sales efforts, keep the following three aspects in mind.

 

Marketing and Sales are Distinct Functions

Although I am stressing the importance of integrating them, it’s important to appreciate that marketing and sales have different functions. One focuses on creating awareness, positioning a brand and developing interest. The other is tasked with capitalizing on that interest and closing the deal. Some feel that marketing spends money and sales makes money. Admittedly, it takes resources to mount a successful marketing campaign, but marketing should be a strategic investment. (And, it is getting easier to monitor and track your ROI.)

The difference in approach may often be subtle, but worth respecting. Trying to sell to new leads will probably annoy and scare them away; whereas a well nurtured lead may always be a prospect unless you provide a timely and appropriate buying opportunity. Understanding the difference between the two disciplines guides the role each should play and how they can successfully work together to improve your business development efforts.

 

Marketing and Sales Should be Aligned

Although marketing and sales are distinct, they should not be isolated from each other. The old corporate structure had separate departments, often with little communication between the two. Internally it was more of a competition as to which department was most valuable to the organization. Fiefdoms and bureaucracy may have been affordable then, but with leaner teams and higher expectations in today’s fast-paced and cost-efficient business world, it is essential to have an aligned and harmonious process that attracts leads and nurtures them to be satisfied customers.

To align your marketing strategy and sales efforts, it makes sense to work backwards. Determining your sales goals and forecasted breakdown is a good way to start. From their you can better identify your target audiences and flesh out buyer personas. Understanding who you will be selling to provides a good foundation for determining your marketing strategy. Where and how will you engage your audiences, what are they interested in, how will you effectively communicate your advantages and benefits, what aspects of your brand will resonate with them… Key marketing decisions that will guide your content and creative start with considering the final sale.

Structuring how leads transition from marketing to sales, with a communication/feedback loop, will allow a seamless journey for your prospects and returning customers. There are many good software tools that assist you in structuring, implementing and monitoring the process. Many (e.g. SharpSpring) help you to automate the process and identify opportunities — making the process itself an active part of the solution.

 

Integrate Marketing strategy and Sales Plan

You’re no doubt aware that a smart strategy with SMART goals is a smart way to proceed — plan your work, then work your plan. Most companies have a sales plan, it may simply be targets, but they at least have a clear objective to aim for. Many SMEs have a budget for marketing, but fail to have a detailed marketing plan. And I’d wager that an exceptionally small minority actually have an integrated sales and marketing plan. So, how is an organization expected to develop sales and grow with little or no structured guidance?

Sustained growth is achieved and maintained with goals, processes and tactics in place. Defining the strategy and ongoing tactics to reach your goals, and then putting the processes in place is what separates successful companies. Going the extra step to create a joint marketing and sales process will distinguish you even further.

The simple solution to growth is marketing strategy and sales working in harmony with a coherent strategy. The successful implementation is not so simple — it requires a good deal of knowledge and a lot of work, on a consistent and ongoing basis.

sending dynamic emails

Get Personal With Dynamic Emails

Custom messaging is the future of Internet communication.

 

Custom messaging, or dynamic messaging, is content that changes and is served on your website based on a visitor’s characteristics. Imagine going to a website and having only the product or service pages that most interest you being highlighted on its web pages. Or receiving an opportune email about the product or service you are the most interested in.

 

A lead visits your site for the first time? Provide them a white paper or an educational document about your products of services.  A visitor’s site visit history indicates they are ready to buy? Offer a quote or testimonial to close the deal.

 

Custom (dynamic) messaging is all about providing content that is personalized to a visitor, helping to increase online conversions.

 

In this previous article, SharpSpring’s Dynamic Landing Page feature is discussed. Today, we discuss SharpSpring’s Dynamic Email capability.

 

sending dynamic emails

gettyimages/ FeelPic

Dynamic Emails help to significantly increase conversion rates as we are delivering messages that are tailored to the recipient.

 

Dynamic Emails are single emails with contain content that changes based on information that we have on a lead. As an example, let’s use a lead who is interested in services that a Marketing Agency provides. These services could be Branding, Website Design & Development, Digital Marketing or Creative Services. When a lead shows an expressed interest in one of those services we can change the content in your email to be specific to that interest.

 

When the lead fills out a form on your site for more information on the service in which they are interested that triggers an automatic email to be sent from your automated marketing platform, such as SharpSpring. Using a Dynamic Email, we only need to create one email that sends to all leads who fill out the form – however the content within that email will be specific to the interest of that lead.
Not sure where to start with Dynamic Emails? Here are some ideas:

 

  • Use the contact field “Has an Opportunity”, and then create Dynamic Emails with variable content based whether or not the lead has an opportunity associated to them.
  • Lead Status – If a lead is a customer, email may point to our support forum or provide an email address for support or “Manage Your Account”. If the lead is not a customer, include an email segment that directs them to Sales.
  • Create a custom contact field called “Has Provided Review”. If a Customer has provided a review, then we show an email segment that points them to a “refer a friend” page. If the customer has not provided a review, we include an email segment pointing them to a review forum.

 

 

 

12 Marketing Automation Must-Haves

Marketing automation gives you the power to drive more leads, convert leads to sales, and prove your marketing ROI. It enables personalized, one-to-one marketing.

 

marketing automation flow concept
gettyimages/Infografx

Here are a dozen must-have features (and their functions) in a well-equipped marketing automation platform:

Read More

dynamic landing page examle

Improve Conversions with Dynamic Landing Pages

Website landing pages are important members of the sales team. They serve information to visitors that “arrive” (by link from a home page or an ad) and contain a “call to action” directing visitors to behave a certain way.

 

The next level of website landing pages are now here, thanks to SharpSpring, our automated marketing partner.

 

Dynamic landing pages, created within SharpSpring, offer improved conversion by customizing the website visitor’s experience. Simply put, you can existing lead data captured in SharpSpring to build web pages that display different text, images and calls to action based on individual lead attributes and interests. 

 

Create One Page That Adapts to Different Visitors

 

In the past, creating a dynamic web experience required complex programming and layout. Testing of different layouts added to the complexity and difficulty.

 

Now you can set up one landing page that adapts to any number of user profiles. Simply create dynamic rules based on specific visitor profiles so users only see content that’s tailored to their specific attributes. Once your rules are in place, click on the individual landing page elements – text, images, headers, videos – and select which content should appear for which user types, without any programming.

 

Dynamic landing pages are a high-converting method that can help you get a lot more out of any campaign. Your leads will be far more likely to engage with you, and ultimately make a purchase, if your webpages address specific things they’ve done, places they’ve been, and things they like. You’re making their entire web experience personal.

 

For example, if a travel agency wants to improve its conversion rates, it can use dynamic landing pages to offer its clients new travel ideas based on the places they’ve already visited. That same landing page can be used for any client who has previously traveled with the agency (or even new clients, if they’ve provided any relevant information on their previous travels). By creating a rule based on “preferred type of destination,” the agency can set the page to display exactly the right destination content for each visitor.

 

If a client has visited the Rocky Mountains, one may assume he/she has a preference for visiting mountainous destinations. So when the client revisits the travel agency’s website, the main landing page could display an offer for another similar trip. In this case — how about the Alps?

 

dynamic landing pages example

 

Truly Leverage Your Data

 

Another way you can leverage your data is by basing the dynamic content (that a given lead will see) on his/her lead score. Lead scores are awarded and accumulated in SharpSpring based on visitor’s behaviour at your website. You can create a single landing page page that will display one of multiple possible options depending on whether a lead is above or below a specified lead score threshold. For example, you can set it so that new visitors with lower lead scores will see an option to download an ebook acquainting them with your product or service. For previous visitors whose lead scores match or exceed the specified lead score threshold, the same page can display a demo offer or testimonials for your product or service. The principle behind this is that those with higher lead scores are further along in a buying decision and should see content that is relevant to a making a final purchase.

 

This is all based on the data that SharpSpring has collected on your leads over time, allowing you to take full advantage of that data and truly personalize your campaigns.

 

Dynamic landing pages are available now and another great reason to add automated marketing to your website.

 

Letter with barbed wire.

Sharpspring and CASL Compliance

Building a Prospect List With CASL

Marketing automation is a useful tool in any business, but it becomes more important with Canada’s Anti-Spam Laws (CASL). In order to be CASL compliant, companies must provide evidence of compliance in the form of opt-ins and records of transactions in order to establish the communication to their prospects is consensual. This can be difficult to manage, require constant updating, and can drain resources away from other facets of your business. It can also make your website less effective, because you’re not holistically tracking your customer base.

However, with tools like SharpSpring, you can determine worthwhile leads, use forms to opt-in, track lead behaviour, and use lists to qualify leads. SharpSpring also automates the tracking of who has opted in and not, and has options to track purchases.

Letter with barbed wire.
credit: s576/ getty images

Forms

Forms are, by far, the strongest SharpSpring tool for CASL compliance. By including an opt-in on all gated content, you increase your odds of receiving permission to send email communication.

All opt-ins can then be stored in a separate list (more on lists later), meaning you never have to worry about sending communication to somebody who has not opted in.

Using forms also allows you to capture emails and get a barometer for who is seeking out your content, giving you better audience data and allowing you to improve your future campaigns.

 

Track Lead Behaviour

If somebody doesn’t check the opt-in box, that doesn’t mean the contact is useless. You can proceed to track how much they use your site, what pages they visit, and see if they’re worth manually calling (something not covered under CASL), or transferring them to an “opt-in” list after they’ve made a purchase from you (at which point, there is implied consent).

SharpSpring allows you to both set a lead score based on behaviour, and has an option to trigger workflows that notify your salespeople when a lead has done actions that your company has deemed important. Both of these features allow you to use methods other than email campaigns to further your sales efforts, making CASL less of a concern.

 

Lists

Arguably one of SharpSpring’s more powerful features, lists allow you to segment all contacts by criteria you determine. Not only can you separate those who have opted in versus those who haven’t, but you can create rules-based lists that adapt according to lead score or user behaviour.

The previous two features (forms and tracking lead behaviour) are critical in helping you build lists. While the most obvious uses for lists is creating email campaigns, lists can also be used to qualify prospects. By assigning lead score points based on pages visited, number of return visits to the site, and number of forms filled in, a sales team can establish which leads are qualified and ready to make a purchase. Instead of following up with every lead, salespeople can limit themselves to following up on leads who are more likely to produce a return on the investment of selling to them.

 

Overall

Automated marketing is a vital tool to maintain CASL compliance. In order to best cover your legal bases, it makes sense to purchase a tool such as SharpSpring and work with a partner to best establish how you can advance your business without relying on random email marketing.

 

3 Important Considerations for Engagement

There are certain words related to social media that people tend to use without really knowing what they mean. Working within an international setting these days, I have come to realize that certain words can become unclear or lost in translation. ENGAGEMENT is such a term

We all want to engage our community, we want to increase our engagement online, or what about that engagement statistic on Facebook, what does that mean?

engage_cartoonAnd what does engagement represent?
  • Will it drive more sales?
  • Will it create a community of loyal customers?
  • Will they spread your brand and promotions like wildfire?

The short answer is probably not. But… why not?

Although I am a strong believer in social media, engagement and community, I have come to realize that other factors need to be considered in order to build the right strategy. Here is my list of critical components: Your Customer, Your Offer, Your Goal and Your Industry.

 

Your Customer

Let’s be fair, not every customer will be the ideal profile to engage online.

Although age is only a number, their Internet behavior will help you better position your engagement.

INTERNET-CANADAOverall in Canada, more than 35 million people have home access to the Internet. Out of that group, 86% of 18-34 year olds have a social profile and 62% of 35-54 years olds. Very significant numbers that should be considered in an overall strategy.
From a channel perspective, Facebook remains the strongest with 59% of users but an interesting study from Forum research shows that Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn can be better channels for your customer base depending on their education, location and finally, your own objectives.

 

Your Offer

I believe you can create engagement around any topic but the nature of your offer will help you determine how much effort it might take. For example, if your business is customer service driven it might be easier to start a dialogue with your customers online. But then you have to be prepared to foster engagement by offering a quick response and have content ready for a diversity of questions and feedback to nurture a dialogue.

feed---backAnother example could be that you have a new product and want to get feedback from your audience. In that case, you might offer a free sample, use a social network like Facebook to create a forum, or ask your audience to spread the word by sharing pics on Instagram.

 

Your Goal

if you are in the service business, you, no doubt, use your online network to share info about and promote your service. However you may not be seeing any return. And that is often becauase ther isn’t a clea objective to shape your strategy. Evaluate what you want from your network and how will you leverage the information you gain.Engaging for the sake of engaging will not serve your end goal. Here are a few options to start your thinking process:

You want an engaged community

  • You will need a dedicated Community Manager that is interacting with your community on a daily basis. This person will be building your community, increasing your followership, posting relevant content on a high frequency to determine what are your community’s preferences and pain points.
  • You will need to provide content to your community. Get your employees in the habit of sharing their daily activities, their best moments and customers highlights.
  • You will need to create a discussion. The concept of “build it and they will come” does not apply here. Work hand-in-hand with your Community Manager to find discussion topics, questions to ask and elements for which you would like feedback.
  • Remember, this will take time and effort to create but once it is built, it will become a powerful marketing tool!

You want to generate leads

  • You will need to provide incentives to your fans or followers: contests, prizes, free samples, rewards, etc. By enticing your community to register for something, you will be able to gather their email address and build a database of potential leads.
  • Your incentive can also be GREAT content. Think about sharing tips, how-tos on how to use your product, current news if you are in a news driven industry, education on using your service, etc.
  • As you grow your database, use your social media to continue to engage your customers. Once they are in the habit of coming to your page or account for contests, prizes and samples, continue to promote to them to generate referrals and eventual sales. For this purpose, you will need to adopt a CRM tool with automated marketing capabilities such as SharpSpring to maintain your newly built relationships.

Your Industry

Finally, take a look at the your industry. What are your competitors doing to create engagement with their users? Are there any best practices that you can leverage?

Important to note that this should not be the only element to consider. It is not because your competition is there that you should be as well. Take the time to really look into their content: are they doing any storytelling, or only sales driven promotions? And what is their level of engagement? Determine which channels will reach your target audience and fit your needs the most. If it seems overwhelming, an agency can help you answer this question and give you a full overview of your market.

Add Your Website to Your Sales Team with these Steps

Make_your_website_sell_with_PROSAR

Organizations have come to realize that websites are not static, however many continue to treat their websites as a passive, though pretty, information piece. Your website is always available to anyone with Internet access. Wouldn’t it make sense to treat your website as your virtual salesperson, always at the ready to engage with any viable prospect who browses by.

Is your sales team directed to dress well, talk knowingly about the company, and then walk away from a prospect? I suspect your expectations are much greater. Salespeople are trained to ask questions and learn about the prospect, their goals and pain points, and determine how your company can help them. Then they are trained to ask for the sale. A salesperson must go beyond informing in order to make the sale. Why not include business development as an online goal and add your website to your sales team?

If you already have a well-functioning website that talks about your organization and has plenty of pretty photos and pithy marketing statements, then you may already be doing a decent job of supporting your brand. But that is still wasting what could be your organization’s greatest sales tool. Engaging with your market can certainly start with marketing-oriented positioning statements, along with photos and videos that highlight benefits of dealing with your organization. But that engagement can be moved through your sales funnel with the goal of nurturing a new customer. And that’s where inbound marketing comes into play.

The most effective route would be to subscribe to a structured inbound, or automated marketing software solution. There are many options and some are more suited for a specific size or type of organization, so do your homework. PROSAR deals mainly with SMEs; after our due diligence we partnered with and recommend SharpSpring. Regardless of which software you chose, there are inbound tactics that you can employ to make better use of your website.

Here are some basic, yet critical, steps to turn your website as an active and productive sales tool:

  • Determine goals and a process for your online sales nurturing
  • Develop a keyword and SEO strategy to guide your content and online efforts
  • Include (and continue to add) relevant and informative information targeted to your primary audience
  • Support your online presence and drive website traffic with appropriate social media activity
  • Engage your audience with rich content (images, videos, interviews, infographics, animated presentations, etc.)
  • Provide additional, gated content and value-added resources (gather contact info and permission to contact)
  • Monitor website and online behaviour of your qualified leads
  • Develop automated email workflows to further engage and nurture your qualified leads
  • Determine the specific needs and pain points from your qualified needs, and demonstrate how you can help to address them
  • Include special offers and “sales asks” for leads as they progress through your sales funnel
  • Personal follow-up to gain more detailed information, hone your solution and close the sale (Yes, it typically still requires a person to make the sale.)

These are implemented via a content generation plan including regular blogging, calls-to-action, effective landing pages, dynamic email campaigns, ongoing website monitoring and assessment, and an over-arching strategic plan to guide the whole process. (A process which is structured and manageable with a good software solution.)