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Remote Work and Virtual Teams

Managing virtual teams is a top concern for today’s businesses. It is considered smart when companies can find ways to decrease costs and provide better employee experiences. Today’s workers are widely dispersed. Your team might work at home due to flexible scheduling or maybe they are located across time zones. It is important to have the right tools to foster collaboration and ensure remote working doesn’t feel so…well, remote. 🙂

Personalization Features

Today’s remote collaboration applications recognize that teams need a higher degree of personalization features. Simple touches, like uploading team photographs, providing access to short bios, and showing who is online, can help build relationships and create the sense your workers are part of a bigger team.

Mobile Devicesmobile-devices-01

Investing in the right hardware is a key component of managing virtual teams. Remote workers often fare better when they have access to laptops, smartphones, and tablets. Mobility is a key value of today’s remote work culture, where staff provides critical support to your business anytime and anywhere. Equipping them with the right hardware enables them to focus on collaborating and creating value.

To-Do Lists

Who doesn’t love a to-do list! These lists help keep individual members of your team organized, while also enforcing proactive management. Managers can check to see what an individual worker is spending their time on daily. Try Hubstaff.com to help monitor your team! A program like this helps teams get a sense of how everyone’s contributing to the broader effort, which helps identify new opportunities for collaboration.

Collaboration Software

slack-3-05Unified communication software enables a business to create a secure, virtualized collaboration environment. While your team members can’t walk across the aisle to talk with a colleague, this solution is the next best thing. From easy file sharing and document collaboration to texting and product status updates, collaboration between team members becomes seamless. Try Slack as a team communication tool!

Cloud-Based Apps

Nearly every app your business uses is available in cloud format, from communication applications to customer relationship management software. Strategically investing in cloud-based applications, allows you to enable teams to access the information they need, wherever they are.

 File-sharing applications

The ability to share files and work on them together is an important part of collaboration. Papyrus or Confluence are great examples.Your finance team may need to review a spreadsheet and update it in real-time, for example, or a sales team might need to work together to refine a presentation. With virtualized collaboration environments, colleagues can share the same screen, edit documents together, and track all the changes in real time, resulting in whiteboard session-quality collaboration.

Collaboration Toolsvideo-conference-01

Communicate with video chatting, texting, and voice calls.Collaboration tools make meetings and one-on-one conversations easy. Remote workers can have multi-person video chats, allowing them to see each other and build deeper engagement, similar to face-to-face meetings. Texting allows colleagues to easily ask a question. Breaking down barriers to basic communication is an essential part of managing virtual teams.

Project Status Updates and Software

On a larger scale, transparency and visibility into project progress is essential. With remote teams, project management applications are frequently updated as tasks are completed. Managers can identify challenges before they become roadblocks. When remote workers see how their efforts contribute to the bigger picture, it helps them feel more connected.

Train Remote Workers on How to Collaborate

The most talented and innovative employees may not intuitively understand how to be part of a remote team. Invest in training your team on how to stay productive on their own, on your company’s mission and values, and how to make the most of the collaboration tools provided. A well-trained remote worker generates better results.

Keep Updated on New Collaboration Tools

toolsNew tools are always being developed to make it easier for remote teams to stay connected and productive. Look for needs within your team and watch for tools that help solve those problems. Continue to evaluate new tools in the collaboration space to see if they’re offering new features that can help your team connect effectively.

Remote work has a ton of benefits for businesses, from decreasing costs to increasing productivity. Businesses that invest in collaboration tools are poised to capture the full benefits of this work arrangement, maximizing productivity and business results.

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SEO Best Practices For Your Business

Search engine optimization can be a tough subject for some people. There is so much information and misinformation available online making it confusing for new users. When I began, many questions ran through my head. Does the latest tactic I’m reading about work? Does it work for all sites or only some? Or is this just another crackpot theory that sounds reasonable, but will never help to improve search traffic to my site?

SEO can be confusing but it doesn’t have to be. The basics of SEO are actually pretty easy to understand and if you give yourself to learn search engine optimization you’ll be able to sort fact from fiction and you’ll have the tools to delve into more advanced SEO concepts.

How to Approach SEO 

Search engine optimization is a subset of marketing. It can fit into your overall marketing plan and not be your marketing plan.marketing-strategy-03-01-01

You can do everything wrong when it comes to SEO, never receive a single visitor from a search engine, and still have a very successful and profitable site.

If you take a step back and market yourself well some of the more difficult parts of SEO will take care of themselves. That’s not to
say you should ignore SEO, but most of us don’t need to obsess over every little detail. There are ton of factors that determine where a page will rank in search results. Obsessing over one of those factors doesn’t make sense. Try to see the big picture rather than stewing over one detail.

SEO is not a set it and forget proposition. It’s an iterative process. You do what you can, measure the results, and continue to improve. You can’t SEO a site in a day or month. As with marketing in general, SEO is never ending. It also changes daily and what works for one site may not work for another.

SEO can be generally categorized into 5 different areas:

  • Keyword research
  • Search engine friendly site development
  • Analytics
  • Link Building
  • On-page SEO

Each of the above is important and they all work together. The whole s greater than the sum of the parts. Let’s talk about each of the above in more detail.

Keyword Research

Everyone would like their pages to rank #1. So…what is it to rank #1?  Not all keywords and keyword phrases are created equal. Some are typed into a search engine more often and some are more likely to lead to a sale. You don’t need to optimize for every possible keyword or phrase.

Say you sell real estate in Charleston, SC. You might think it important to rank well for the phrase “real estate,” but is it? Someone looking to buy property in Chicago or Los Angeles isn’t going to be interested in the homes you sell in Charleston. It is pointless to spend time and money trying to get those people to your site. You’d do much better to target phrases that include South Carolina and even better Charleston.

There are 3 types of queries someone might type into a search engine

keywrods-01Transactional queries – searching with an intent to purchase

Informational queries – searching for information from general to specific

Navigational queries – searching for a specific site or page

All three types of queries are important and each of them could ultimately lead to a sale. Someone finding helpful information on your site at one point may come back later and buy something. It is important to understand that what a person types into a search engine reveals something about their intent. Based on the searcher’s intent you may want different pages of your site ranking for different queries.

Developing a List of Keywords to Target

Brainstorming is the first step in developing good keywords. Write down as many words and phrases (50-100) as you can think of that relate to your site and understand that this is simply the start of your research.

As you brainstorm ask yourself: Do you only offer web design or do you also offer web development? You might specialize in
ecommerce design or small business web design. Maybe you also offer web hosting. Each of these will likely become a keyword theme around which you can build a more detailed list. The next step is to expand your list with some keyword tools.

tools-3-01Here are a few great tools:

  • Google AdWords Keyword Tool
  • SEO Book Keyword Tool
  • WordTracker
  • Keyword Discovery

There are also a variety of more advanced keyword research tools should you desire them.

Don’t worry about the absolute numbers with keyword tools. The numbers are estimates. Consider the numbers more in relative terms in comparison to each other. If all of the above tools show that more people search for web design than website design, it’s probably true.

A few tips about building keyword lists:

Find the words and phrases your customers use instead of industry jargon.

Look for synonyms – Similar to the above seek the words potential clients will use. You call it e-commerce. They might type ecommerce. Is it web design or website design?

Add qualifiers – Our Charleston SC real estate agent might add Charleston, South Carolina, or both to most every phrase. As a web designer your services might be affordable or professional. Optimizing for “professional web design services” also optimizes for “web design services”

Qualify your qualifiers – You might be tempted to add a qualifier like “free” since so many people use the word. However, someone searching for free anything isn’t looking to buy.

Look to your analytics package to see what phrases are currently bringing people to your site.

Search Engine Optimization

SEO, while capable of providing a valuable source of traffic, is still only one way to attract potential clients and customers to your site. Think of SEO as part of your marketing strategy instead of your whole marketing strategy

SEO is a process that can begin anywhere. Most of the time it will begin with keyword research, especially if you’ve yet to build your site or create the initial content. Keywords help you define who your market is and what that market is looking for. They’ll also lead the way when it comes to how you develop your site, what content you choose to create, and how that content is written.

 

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Easy Ways to Boost Your Wi-Fi Signal

Have you ever had a deadline at work and suddenly your Wi-Fi stops working? How about moving your laptop to the other room and “poof”, no more Wi-Fi? This can be one of the most frustrating situations one can face in the workplace or at home. Many times there are simple hacks than can fix the situation.

Don’t throw out your router just yet…check out some great solutions to help boost your signal.

Watch Where You Put That Router!
Yes, I have complained about my Wi-Fi only to have the cable company tell me that I shouldn’t have it on its side on the floor. Whoops! To achieve the strongest possible wireless connection, position your Wi-Fi router on a flat surface off the floor and closewifi-router-01-01 to the center of your home if you can. It is ideal to place it somewhere up high and out in the open is best, away from brick, stone, metal or concrete walls that could mess with the signal.

Place your router accordingly so that signals will go straight through walls, as opposed to at an angle. Wi-Fi signals will significantly weaken when they hit walls at angles. The best thing to do is in a multi-floor home or office is to place your router on the top floor for maximum coverage.

Also make sure to situate your router at least 10 feet away from certain devices or objects that could interfere with your signal, like refrigerators, cordless phones, garage door openers, speakers, microwaves, and mirrors.

Switch the Channel
To reduce interference from neighboring Wi-Fi networks just switch the channel I am told that channels 1, 6 or 11 are the best and most common channels for wireless networking. It all varie depending on the router you have. If you switch and your signal is still not working, try any other channel until you find one that maintains a strong connection.

Update Your Router’s Firmware
firmware-01Maybe your router just needs an update. Manufacturers are always tweaking software to dish out more performance and speed. Most current routers have the update process built right into the admin interface, so its easy to click just by hitting a firmware upgrade button. Older models still require you to first find and download the firmware from the router manufacturer’s website.

Buy a Strong Wi-Fi Antenna
Many Wi-Fi routers come with an antenna or two, but sometimes there are not strong enough to send signals to hard-to-reach areas and distant corners. If you add a high-gain or “booster” antenna to your router, it can fix the problem! This will instantly extend and strengthen your router’s range and give you coverage over large areas. They aren’t expensive, as I purchased a Cisco-Linksys High Gain Antenna Kit for for $15. The great thing is that you don’t have to be a genius tech superstar to install a high gain antenna. Just unscrew the old and replace with the new!

Buy a Plug-in Extender
High-gain antennas broadcast your Wi-Fi signal and Wi-Fi extenders, also called repeaters, rebroadcast them with improved range and speed and you can say adios to Wi-Fi dead zones.
The process of finding an extender’s sweet spot can be hit-or-miss at times. You may have to move it a little to find the best location and tilt the antennas on it.

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Don’t Share with Others

I am all about being neighborly but there is no need to share your Wi-Fi network’s name with your neighbours. You can prevent this y turning off its Service Set Identifier (SSID) broadcasting option. This blocks strangers in your area from seeing your network, mooching off it and slowing it down. Most important, it reduces your risk of getting hacked! Of course, password protected Wi-Fi is also strongly encouraged to prevent this.

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Distractions and How to Stay Focused

I love writing these blogs for Extendware, because I get to tell my stories and sometimes in my writing, make realizations on my own work habits. Recently I have noticed when I am focused and enjoy the tasks I am executing, nothing can stop me from getting things done. Then, there are the less attractive tasks. Those are the tasks that trigger my once focused self to be easily distracted. I was working on a spreadsheet that could have taken an hour, yet instead it took about three. Here are the reasons why.

I noticed dirt on the floor and decided to vacuum

I answered emails every time one came through

I played fetch with my dog

I answered my phone and talked to my cousin for 30 minutes

Pretty much anything that could distract me, I let distract me. Does this sound familiar?

We Are All Guilty

Many of us can get pushed off balance by the slightest interruptions at work, while others easily tune them out. In all honesty, nobody is completely attentive to their work 100% of the time and we can all use some guidaWe are all guilty-01nce on ways to avoid or ignore disruptions. The key is to limit distractions as much as possible. We’d all get burnt out pretty quickly if we didn’t get distracted from time to time to take our minds off of work. The bigger issue is when distractions take up too much of our time and prevent us from getting anything done. If interruptions in the office are not managed, they can seriously deter your focus and may lead to factual mistakes, poor performance, and poor judgment.

Frequent distractions can also negatively affect your mood. They can prevent you from getting your work done on time, which creates more stress for you and can make you more frustrated and unhappy at work. Happiness comes with work that has meaning to you, and seeing positive results from your efforts. Distractions can decrease focus, which increases stress, which can intensify any poor work habit you may have.

A distraction can take many forms. External annoyances like loud mouth phone talkers in open cube space to personal distractions such as social media or personal email.

DISTRACTIONS-2-01Types if distractions depend on your line of work, office space, size of your company etc. Some examples of the various culprits include: Relentless e-mail, text messages, social media, co-worker or client interruptions, visitors and unscheduled meetings, music, TV, alerts, IM’s, ringing phones, other people talking, noisy copy machines, vehicles going by outside your window, elevator doors opening and closing…wow I am getting distracted just writing this!

There is hope! If you regularly lose focus at work because of one or more of these distractions, there are a few things you can do.

Time Management

Reserve blocks of time for work that requires the most concentration. The regular 9-5 timeframe might be standard but to assume people will use that exact formula is silly.  I like to use the first hour at work to make headway on my most time consuming and difficult project. Some people feel like they can focus later in the evening, after kids go to bed, dinner is over etc. Its all about finding what works for you. If you are sharing an office, ask your co-workers for quiet time, and if that’s out of the question, take your work into a conference room or other quiet space.

MUTE-01Limit Technology

Spending a just a few minutes each day checking personal e-mail or texting is not a problem but doing it in excess can be detrimental to your day.  I turn off my email and text alerts during work hours so they don’t distract me, then I dedicate a couple times a day to check for anything urgent. The key is to check, and move on if not pressing.

Organize Your Space

It’s so easy to catch sight of something that will only take a couple of minutes and stop working on the big stuff to address the little things. Don’t let visual distractions cost you important focused time. Keep your desk clean and put the urgent items in file stackers or a tray. Anything else file away out of site!

 

 

MILLENIALS

Millennials And Why I Employ Them

Ok so without really admitting my true age to the masses, I will let you know a few things about how I grew up and I will let you figure it out.

I used to go to Blockbuster when I wanted to see a newly released movie

I would spend hours reading books at the library when writing a paper

I used this thing called a payphone when I needed to call someone remotely

I would wait outside the CD store when new album came out

Sound familiar? Things are so different now, so convenient and technology rules the world. So, it can be difficult to relate these “old times” to a lot of the people I work with today. “The Millennials” By most definitions, milleLEADERSnnial’s were born between 1982 and 1996

It can feel as if this new wave of young people creates some friction for older management, but as the IT leaders of the future, I learned to embrace my millennial counterparts, make them feel welcome, and more importantly, keep them engaged. Barely knowing a time without using email, these managers of the future will be more diverse, and have a vastly alternative outlook to many trends like technology innovation, security, management style and career planning.

My Experience

They are either driving me batty or impressing the crap out of me! They can be hard to manage, easily frustrate with protocol and just plain lazy, or their creativity is absolutely brilliant and they don’t let the threat of failure bother them. Its really all in how you manage them that allows them to be most effective for your business.

Why We Love Them

geekMillennials have no fear and aren’t afraid of hard work. If you set the goal or target and release the reigns, they will find a way to get there and produce a pretty creative result. In my business, I employ a 26-year-old who is extremely tech savvy with a change-focused work ethic. It helps us old folk who are set in our ways, and provides a fresh outlook on things I may have overlooked. They have grown up learning that they need to constantly adapt to ever changing times especially when it comes to technology.

Working with millennials means taking on an appropriate management style, while being selective about what personalities will fit your specific working environment. I have learned that taking the time to find out what motivates them will pay off in the end!

Be Flexible

Millennials by nature don’t really like rules. They grew up in an environment where parents asked their opinions, allowed them to make decisions, and rarely pushed something on them that they didn’t like. If you press too hard on them to comply with the company’s position on things like hours or attire, you could very easily find yourself losing a good employee.

targetDon’t Be Vague

Millennials are not good at interpreting what you meant and very rarely succeed when put into a situation to “wing it”. Though they want responsibility and authority, they are uncomfortable without having some sort of framework for the task at hand. Good instructions and a lot of flexibility in how you get there. They need to be kept engaged to produce a real value for the company. They crave a sense of ownership and purpose, so working towards the specifics of a certain goal is key.

Be Real

One major pitfall that Gen X and baby boomers often fall into is trying to be cool and hip to attract and inspire younger workers. I myself fell into the trap when I was caught typing my virtual assistant. I used a couple of new age trendy words to the reaction of, “I am sorry Diane, I do not understand what you are saying”. Fail! Often this muddies the waters between leaders and their employees who would prefer clear direction.

CommunicationIt seems that Millennial’s want authenticity, and they’re craving the traditional values of a good leader. It’s okay to be old school! It’s about being a mixture of old and new, by being open to the new ideas but still being able to leverage that experience.

Good communication is also paramount to keep the culture open and considerate of individual needs. Millennials want to feel that their voice is heard and valued when it comes to working conditions and decision-making. If they’re unhappy about something they will have no fear about vocalising their frustration. It is important to listen to your employees and ask them what they would like to do and how they would like to achieve success. That way, you can adapt, change and modify based on that feedback.

Managing The Gen “Y” Staff

Employing engagement strategies is a great means of retaining talent, but millennials generally don’t
sucess follow traditional structure, and their display of company loyalty will be no exception.

Ensuring that Millennials are working on interesting projects and feeling like they’re developing their skills will ensure greater interest in what the company has to offer.

If ambitious millennials do leave to see if the grass is greener, it’s important to treat that as a new form of talent management, ensuring they depart viewing the company and its leaders in a positive light. They may sometimes hone the “lazy millennial” rap, but in my experience they can offer immense creativity to your brand, you just have to know how to harness it!

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The Benefits of Cross Selling

The Benefits of Cross Selling

by Sheryl Davis, Glew

What is Cross Selling?

Cross Selling is a sales tactic that encourages a shopper to buy complementary products.

Think about shopping for tomatoes at a grocery store. It’s common for stores to display items, such as cheese, among an aisle devoted to vegetables. Despite the store having a section specifically for cheese, growthstore managers strategically position cheese among the tomatoes knowing that the combination may tempt hungry customers. The product placement makes it easy for customers to find related items and impulsively pick up goods while shopping. In doing so, stores drive increases to the order value while reminding shoppers that certain products go well together.

Just like cross-selling products in brick and mortar stores, online tactics should bring convenience and ideas to the shopper while also proving to be lucrative for the retailer.

According to research by software provider Monetate, product suggestions can:

Increase revenue up to 300%

Boost conversions by up to 150%

Increase Average Order Value by as much as 50%

Benefits of Cross Selling

Cross selling benefits both stores and customers. For stores, it increases Average Order Value (AOV) and Benefitstherefore benefits revenue. Larger orders also often allow stores to cut down on packaging and shipping costs by consolidating items in a box that may have otherwise been partially full. And keep in mind that driving your AOV higher will increase the Lifetime Value of customers, often providing incremental capital that can be used to market to those customers.

But the good news is that cross selling doesn’t just benefit your store, it also benefits your customers! Shoppers can find items faster when they are recommended on individual product pages. Plus, a well-paired product recommendation can bring a customer’s attention to a complimentary product that they might not have known existed. Adding value to your customer’s experience while making more money? It’s a no brainer.

How to Get Started

1) Use a tool that analyzes purchasing behavior. With a breakdown of products that are most commonly purchased together you can set your cross sale recommendations without any guesswork.

Frequantly-Bought-Together-(for-web)2) Install a Magento extension that will display product recommendations. Extendware’s “Frequently Bought Together” and “Who Viewed This Also Viewed” extensions are built for Magento stores to cross sell on every product page.

3) Monitor items that are selling effectively and consider adding those items to your store as a bundle. You could offer a small discount when purchasing the items Who-Viewed-This-Also-Viewed-(for-web)together, or pull together kits for items to quickly be purchased at once.

Sheryl Davis is a digital marketer at Glew, an ecommerce analytics software provider, where she focuses on helping online stores understand and act on their data. Each week she publishes practical strategies for ways to rock ecommerce success.
Blog | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook

 

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How to Use Others to Grow Your Business

One of the biggest challenges of building a company from scratch is the amount of work that lies ahead. Although not all of it is “tough work”, one of the biggest killers of startups is the inability to tackle all of the work that needs to be done before the cash runs out!

Some tell you to work hard, and some tell you to work smart. Spoiler alert: You need to do both. If you can’t do both, the result is most likely failure.

Building Relationships

It is important to create relationships with other businesses before you can leverage their work.

To say this does not imply, being shady and leeching out info from others, or taking credit for other ideas. That’s just wrong, and it gets you nowhere. Actually creating cohesive honest relationships takes time. Its ok to reach out to others for help!

Here are some ways I have been able to build relationships and get some great business promotion in return:

Blog Promotion

When I first started my clothing company, I had a scrawny list of subscribers. I may have mentioned that before! One of the great suggestions a good friend gave me, was to leverage some hard work that has already been effective for others to build their audiences. I built a list of influencers who I decided I wanted to build relationships with.

InfluencerI looked for people who had the type of audience I wanted and those who could personally get value out of my content. I started to engage with them by leaving clever, conversation-provoking comments on their blog posts and sharing their content on my site. After establishing a relationship with a few, I asked if I was able to send them a blog post of my own and asked for their feedback.

Not only was much of the feedback valuable to me, but helped to gain us a ton of exposure to their audiences. The list they worked long and hard to obtain, was now following me, giving us tons of new subscribers and unique visitors. Score!

Guest Blogging

So that was a great example about using your own blogs to leverage other businesses.

Another way to get massive value is by leveraging the audience-building work other businesses have done by getting your content published on their blogs.

It might sound presumptuous and you may be shy at first but its really a similar ask as what we did before.

It is all about building relationships with influential bloggers, engaging in their communities and adding value however you can. Having something of value that others can use to their advantage will in turn gain you exposure!

Releasing an API

Software companies with developer API’s spend a lot of time and money promoting their partner APIintegrations because API’s are a fantastic way to let others do some of the work of making your product more valuable. These integrations help put your business in front of entire new audiences on an exponential scale.

Personally, I have also gotten thousands of trial signups from users that found us in our partners’ integration directories; another great way to leverage someone else’s work right?

Event Participation

Events are not the easiest to organize and they take time. There are thousands of moving parts, and a ton of planning that needs to go on behind the scenes.

But when they are successful, events can deliver a lot of value for audiences, and for the individuals and businesses who are there to engage with those audiences.

Events like doing talks and workshops – are a great way to leverage the work that the event organizer has done to engage with interested people.

Its All About Leverage!

As you grow your profile through channels like blogging, guest blogging and building high-visibility partnerships, you’ll begin to see opportunities come your way that let you leverage other people’s work that require very little work on your own. Things like interviews, quotes in news stories and blog posts, and speaking requests are very effective

3It’s not a quick hack and it takes a lot of work, not to mention it needs to benefit both parties. It means helping the other guys win, while scoring your own big wins at the same time.

Want to work closer with other businesses? Why not try Extendware’s Affiliate Program Extension for your magento store. Its a win win for both parties!

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How I Learned to Break Up with Un-Subscribers

Breaking up is hard to do! I mean how many boyfriends have I gone through, the long stretch across the dinner table saying “Its not you, its me!” The sad look, the awkwardness. Being a picky girlfriend and business owner, I can somewhat proudly say that I am a pro at break ups. (Don’t tell my current boyfriend please)

As tough as it may be, sometimes breaking up with unengaged subscribers is best for the both of you. You can’t be shy about unsubscribing contacts, after all they may no longer have value to you and as a result of keeping them around, you may be neglecting the loyal ones. Every pro has their first steps. When I first took the aggressive step of deleting 30% of my email list, I was like, why am I doing this? I worked so hard to get them and now, I am just tossing them aside! It was hard at first, but after the initial feeling of loss, I have seen necessary positive gains.

Take a Hike!

It turns out, I wasn’t the only one. My friend bought a business with a mess of an email list. It had 53,000 people on it, but about 13,000 had signed up during a contest and had not been emailed in over 90 days. 10,000 more subscribers had been sequestered into a “do not mail” list and also hadn’t been emailed in over 90 days and another 16,000 were on the newsletter list, which received monthly emails.

I was in the same boat, thinking about spam complaint rates. Mine were high, engagement was low, and a large portion of my email list hadn’t been sent a message in 90 days. It was time do do something!

Graymail Can Be Trouble

My big problem was that was seeing low engagement rates on a contest I was running. I learned that some IGraymailSPs flag email from known graymail senders and send it directly to junk folders, even for brand new subscribers who haven’t even had the chance to engage with your email.

I suspected that the 12,000 who signed up for the contest didn’t really want their emails and if 30% of the company’s email list is people who aren’t opening emails, it can keep emails from being delivered to people who really do want your emails.

Unsubscribing 14,000 people was terrifying! The thing is, after someone doesn’t respond to 10 to 25 emails, one has to ask themselves if these people are worth dumping.

Admit Your Faults

 I really wanted to re-engage others, some that had signed up and never received an email even after more than 90 days. Again with the awkward moments…” uh so, yeah we haven’t been emailing you but we still want to, cool?”. So I refined my language to this email: “Looks like we haven’t been emailing you!” A little under 50% opened that email, and we were back in business.

I made it look like, yeah my bad, but I want ya back! Some people found the humor in it and wroteback that they missed us

Those who opened the email were put back on the promotional list. Those who didn’t open received the same email a couple weeks later with a different subject line and image. Those who didn’t open anything were eventually weaned off the list.

Its important to investigate other reasons people might not be engaging. One reason could be that they have provided an email address they don’t actually use, or maybe they have images turned off, which can foil the tracking pixel.

We Miss You!

One way I acted to reengage customers was to send a text-only reactivation email saying “We miss you”. In it we had customers answer a few siWe-Miss-Youmple questions such as “Are you getting too many emails? Too little emails? What do you want to hear more about?” and other questions. Subscribers had the option of filling out a preference form or unsubscribing.

What started as a 0% open rate grew to 20%. One key was to make sure that I wasn’t using “Spammy” language, where it would trigger peoples spam email alerts, bypassing their actual inbox. Once you lower the spam complaints and the better your deliverability gets, the more you’re convincing email providers that your emails are worth putting in customer’s inboxes. If you are  using an unhealthy or inactive list, you’re at risk of being flagged by ISPs and having your clever campaigns sent right to the junk folder.

Here are some tips that can help!

Consider a One-Time Opt-In

Search your database for those people who haven’t opened or responded to your emails, and ask if they want to continue receiving your emails. If they don’t respond, delete them. Just because someone doesn’t want to receive your emails doesn’t mean they don’t want to buy your products! Most people will appreciate at your attention to their preferences.

Don’t Buy Email Lists!

Shoppers don’t like unsolicited email and don’t want to be on any lists they never subscribed to.  Let users make their own choices.

Don’t Auto Subscribe E-Receipt Recipients

An e-receipt program isn’t an opportunity to go nuts while growing your list. Don’t assume. Ask customers who sign up for e-receipts whether they want your emails.

Make the Unsubscribe Option Very Visible

Put the unsubscribe button at the top of your emails. Make it bold or add some color.

Offer a Preference Center

Ask your subscribers how often they’d like to be contacted and what messages they’d like to receive. This gives subscribers a sense of control over what information they receive and when. It is also great so you can tailor your emails accordingly.

Extension Highlight!

SMTP-Email-(for-web)

Easily use your own custom SMTP server for sending mail with Magento SMTP Email Extension. 4 authentication modes, 3 secure connection modes, and custom ports are supported. Optionally log outgoing mail for auditing and even send mail through the administrative interface.

How-to-Win-Customer-Loyalty

How to Win Customer Loyalty

It doesn’t get better than having lots of loyal customers right? To be able to have a group of customers who love your product and aren’t afraid to tell others is a huge win! Word of mouth marketing and repeat customer’s costs 0 marketing dollars and is a sure fire way to ensure you are keeping everyone happy.

Who Participates in Loyalty Programs?

There are really two tiers to loyal customers. You have your early stage customers and your later stage customers. Let’s break it down.

Early Stage Customer Loyalty Can Come From:

  • Surveys and Feedback
  • Email Subscriptions
  • Open Rates and Click-Through Rates
  • Mobile Alert & Notification Responses
  • Social Engagement

Later Stage Customer Loyalty Could Include:

  • Customer Satisfaction
  • Purchase Frequency
  • Customer Spending
  • Upsell/Cross-Sell Purchases
  • Testimonials/Reviews/Referrals

It is important to be able to distinguish between the two categories as it will determine how relevant your campaigns are depending upon the customer. Being able to identify this allows you to feature the right tone, frequency, and benefits. If you continue to engage customers frequently, you can easily build customer loyalty. This can result in higher rates of purchasing and advocacy from your already-loyal customers and additions to the ranks of customers you already consider loyal.

If you want to achieve this, you will need to leverage your customer engagement platform to paint a complete picture of what you know about your loyal customers including preferences and interests, purchase behavior and frequency, order details, and more. Campaigns like this enables you to gather more information about their hobbies and interests or reasons for purchasing. All of this information makes it easier to accelerate purchase cycles, cross-sell, and upsell.

Harness Insights

InsightsKnowing the attributes of your loyal customers makes life easier when trying to find additional prospects who could one day become loyal customers. This way, you are not starting from scratch with these prospects, but pursuing those customers with similarities.

Using a customer engagement platform is a great way to perform personalization at scale and can cultivate relationships and learn more about consumer behavior.  For my clothing store, I use a platform to learn the habits of my customers, such as what trends they like, what age group they are in, and what interests they have socially such as entertainment, leisure, and sports. The customer engagement platform has also motivated my staff to set up strategies, such as automated birthday campaigns, that help drive merchandise sales and enhance the value of being a fan.

Who Are Your Customers?

Getting into the minds of individual customers is vital to engaging and keeping them loyal. It pays to keep customers happy! Maybe you have a lot customers who aren’t loyal…yet. Don’t overlook the value of the non loyal customers. They will take a different type of engagement than your typical loyal customer. Look at the data CUSTOMERSthat you have about loyal and non loyal customer behavior to determine if there are behaviors or activities that differ between the two groups and identify any commonalities amongst the groups that can help you communicate with them in a more personal way. This way, you can tailor your communications to your non loyal customers to guide them toward the behaviors and activities that build loyalty and help nudge them to the next stage of their customer lifecycle.

There may be non loyal customers that may not engage with you at all anymore. In fact, they may no longer be customers. Most consumers are willing to switch brands if it means getting more benefits. However, just because they have churned away from your brand doesn’t mean they are gone for good! You just have to win them back and focus on re-engaging them with relevant communications based on what you have learned about their behaviors. This includes insights you’ve taken from social channels and paying attention to negative word of mouth, such
as an online review.

Win Them Back

A Win back can be anything from a personalized email or letter telling them you miss their business, or aWin-them-back survey as to what would make them want to come back to your brand. People love deals, so maybe offering a discount or special code just for them to draw them back in. There are a variety of ways to win someone back and even convert them in to a loyal customer, you just have to give them some personal attention and learn about what they really want, not what you think they want.

Many times, marketers invest their hard work and precious dollars in campaigns and promotions aimed at getting customers to make that first purchase. But once those customers are in the door, they’re left largely to their own devices. By consistently engaging those customers over time with relevant, appealing offers, you can cultivate long-term loyalty that translates into higher revenues and advocates who drive even more business for you through powerful
word of mouth.

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Why not try Extendware’s Loyalty Program extension for your Magento store? This extension allows you to incentivize customers based on order history, average order amount, and account age.