Small Business CRM

Map a journey that helps bring back returning customers

March 27, 2012 | by Infusionsoft

Although using CRM software as a part of a business email markeiting plan is a great start, Colin Shaw, CIO of Beyond Philosophy, writes on that there is more to customer retention.

"People (customers) are ‘conscious beings’ and therefore every waking moment we are having ‘experiences,’" Shaw says. "A process is normally a logical series of steps to produce an outcome, but customers are not logical, they are people and as such feel things and are driven by emotions."

With this in mind, Shaw said businesses must design an experience they know will work for the customer and have a value to them. He said to design an effective experience marketers need to understand the psychology of what customers want in concert with a passion for detail and a great financial understanding to work.

Retail Online Integration said to retain customers through CRM software, companies should operate in real time, organize data, get into social media and use the program to create a unified view of the customer.


Email marketing programs see improvement

March 22, 2012 | by Infusionsoft

Small business marketing has relied on email programs such as marketing automation and CRM software over the past few years to help guide email-based campaigns. An executive from an email marketing company told ClickZ that email marketing programs may be getting better.

"I think we are getting smarter, we're just not consistent," the executive told the news source. "College grads often work their way into digital marketing by doing email and after a bit of experience they move on, taking their knowledge with them. So as providers, we are always educating and helping marketers learn, often when they don't have ready access to learnings from their predecessors."

He said the workload of marketers is the second thing that may be improving. He believes companies should have an employee who takes on a strategist role to help make sure the email program is going well.

For businesses struggling to get the most out of their business email marketing program, there are some small changes that can help: change up subject lines; make template alterations; test send times; and create a bigger and more promising subscriber list.


Marketers should examine target audience for campaigns

March 21, 2012 | by Infusionsoft

When sending out messages to subscribers on a small business marketing list, Mariel Milla, content manager at Myron Corporation, said on Business 2 Community that companies should examine their target audience before starting to send out emails.

"The people on the receiving end of promotional items are the hinge on which a marketing strategy swings," she said. "The first and most important part of your outline should include research on your target audience."

Some questions to ask before sending out emails are where people are geographically, what the secondary characteristics of the group are – age, sex, economics, etc. – and what industry the intended targets are working in.

Milla said gathering as much information as possible always companies to form a tighter bond with customers. Based on data, promotional emails and other email messages can be even more effective than they would be going in blind.

One way a business can keep track of customers and subscribers better is by using marketing automation software. Marketing Automation Times said these programs can be used to gather information and send targeted, multi-channel messages to potential customers.


Listening a key for marketing campaigns

March 14, 2012 | by Infusionsoft

Paul Howard, a business development specialist with Angelo State University's Small Business Development Center, said there is one powerful small business marketing tool that many companies neglect to use: listening. Howard writes on the Standard-Times website that listening requires no software and little money but can help immensely.

"Customers can be a great business resource because they are the audience that companies are targeting with their marketing campaigns," he said. "Yet many small business owners forget this as they focus on business planning and formulas. These are very important and necessary to the success of small businesses, but they can distance owners too far from who they want to target."

Howard suggests that small businesses research their market to help figure out what people are thinking and feeling, establish a customer loyalty program to easily track customer purchases and put out customer surveys to get feedback from the average customer.

Marketing Resource Index said sales and marketing professionals should test out new campaigns on social media before doing a wide release so they can first see what kind of metrics it can have on a smaller scale.


Have fun with Facebook campaigns

February 24, 2012 | by Infusionsoft

Small business marketing doesn't have to be serious at all times. Vangie Beal writes on Ecommerce-Guide that smaller brands can get a popular Facebook campaign going if they let their personalities shine via the popular social networking website.

Beal said the campaigns work best for companies when they already have followers, so they should create some kind of event with free products or savings, strive to get "likes," be very detailed in instructions of contests and other postings and make content on Facebook worth the customer's time. This can also be an opportunity to gain useful customer insight for future campaigns.

"Use the event as a way to ask specific questions about your company and products," Beal said. "While people are waiting for the 'coupon to be announced,' you can also post polls to find out what consumers think of your business, policies, shipping, products and more."

Social Maximizer's blog said small business marketing can use Facebook events to attract new fans, even if they aren't quite "fans" yet on Facebook. These events also allow businesses to select who they want to invite to certain savings and events to make customers and potential customers feel special.


Small business marketing should start with a plan

February 21, 2012 | by Infusionsoft

Small business marketing online can be great for any business, especially with more customers shopping on the internet every day. However, internet marketer James Debono said companies that want to take advantage of online marketing need to first develop a plan to ensure their strategies are aligned.

In a post on Business 2 Community, Debono said businesses should look at marketing tactics that increase brand awareness, build authority, build an online community and humanize their brand.

"Knowing what you are setting out to achieve will mean that you can focus your attentions on delivering just that and not waste valuable time and money," Debono said, adding that businesses should be delivering a consistent message with their online marketing.

Other things businesses need to remember when working online is that customers need to be continuously engaged and social media is a marketing tool that cannot be ignored.

According to a survey by Research Now, 57 percent of small businesses plan to use social marketing in the next year, an increase of 7 percent from the previous year. This combined with marketing emails can be a great way to inform people about a business.


Enter the conversation already happening in a customer’s mind

February 17, 2012 | by Infusionsoft

Steve Sipress, director of Chicagoland's Sharpest Entrepreneurs, gives some sage advice on Crain's Chicago Business. He said he was taught that small business marketing professionals need to enter "the conversation already going on inside your customer's mind."

"Did you capitalize on these opportunities to connect with your audience by creating marketing messages and special offers involving one or more of these topics, such as 'Our special will run six more weeks because the groundhog saw his shadow' or 'Here's a special offer because we love our customers'?" he asks, referring to Groundhog Day and Valentine's day offers companies could have taken advantage of.

For businesses that didn't happen to take advantage of any of the latest hot topics, he said there are always more. President's Day and other holidays are coming up, which small businesses can use to help cater to their customers and keep them coming back.

Optify suggests changing content keywords during the holidays and creating a calendar to help remember when these key days are coming up. Marketing automation and CRM software can also be helpful for implementing and evaluating this of a marketing strategy.


Removing certain items from ‘to-do’ lists could help small businesses

February 13, 2012 | by Infusionsoft

Rhonda Abrams said most entrepreneurs have to-do lists, and, while these lists can help a small business stay organized and focused, some actions can be more harmful than beneficial. One thing small business marketers and leaders need to add to their 'not to-do' lists is being indecisive.

"Being wishy-washy costs money and time," Abrams said.This doesn't mean marketers should rush into decisions, but rather they should make quick ones that are based on sound reasoning. "Your small company needs leadership, and face it, you're the leader. Yes, you may have a collaborative work culture, but the business still needs someone at the head, making final decisions and making sure they are executed consistently."

Businesses should also not get distracted by too many ideas, criticize employees or put too much faith in social media or new media marketing.

Fisher Business Management said small business marketing professionals should avoid saying yes to everything that comes their way, and should not ignore what the competition is doing. The website said companies that don't check out what the competition is up to, risk missing out on a great opportunity.