A handful of “influencers” dominate social media in just about any online niche. You’ve seen those blogs with hundreds of shares, dozens of comments, and they seem to get that kind of activity on every post.
The truth is that’s hard for almost everyoneÂ to pull off. In most cases, just a few of the top blogs get that kind of activity. And the rest get next to none.
But if you could build a relationship with those powerful bloggers, you could get your product in front of a huge audience. That would mean many more sales nearly instantly. And it could mean a lot of customers over the long-term too.
But how do you get another blogger to promote your product? You can greatly improve your chances using the process below:
1. Don’t Do What Everyone Else Does…
The vast majority of business owners try to build these relationships in ineffective, self-centered ways. For example, they’ll send a single e-mail asking the blog or website owner if they’re interested in promoting the product.
That’s it. And that tactic doesn’t work. That’s because blog owners want you to find something important about them first.
So follow the steps listed ahead instead.
2. First, Do These Things
Your chances of building a successful relationship with an influencer skyrocket when you give value to them in some way first. You could mention them in your blog (but be sure to e-mail them and let them know about it).
Comment on their blog posts. But make comments that are of value. Don’t just say “Great post,” or,”I agree 100%.” If you do agree or think the post’s great, say why. Then, add a little of your own viewpoint.
Like, share, and mention their name in social media.
After you do that for a while, then you’ve positioned yourself well for an ask.
3. Focus on an Enriching Relationship for Your Targeted Influencers
In #2, you learned what to do. Now, you just need to keep that up and find more creative ways to build your relationship over time.
Anyway you can add value – whether it’s for them personally or their audience, that’s a win. And if you ever get any response from them without asking for it, that’s huge.
Keep doing that, and you will succeed. Remember, most people ask nearly immediately. And that burns the bridge because they’re only looking to get what they can right away.
When you follow that simple strategy over time, you will build relationships with influencers. Some work out. And some don’t. Stick to those principles though, and you’ll score some big wins.
As you run your e-commerce business, you may wonder what the best avenues are for promotion. When you do, you’ve immediately started to think about “marketing.”
The nice thing about online marketing is that you have as many options to promote your business as you can dream up.
The badÂ thing about online marketing is that you have as many options to promote your business as you can dream up.
Hah! So it’s kind of a catch-22.
What should you do?
I’ll offer some stats from Econsultancy, along with a few insights. I can’t say what’s right for your business because I don’t know your business well enough. But, you can use this information to formulate your own strategy:
1. First, Look at the Econsultancy Data
Here’s what Econsultancy found when doing its own research:
2. E-mail Marketing Was Once Again #1
In 2016, e-mail’s making a comeback. Businesses are rediscovering its effectiveness as a marketing tool. If you subscribe to lots of lists and sources, you may notice them bombarding you with more messages than ever.
That’s because e-mail has an incredible, and unbeatable, $38 for $1 spent in ROI – 3800%. That’s according to the Direct Marketing Association.
But, the problem is it’s getting more competitive. So, if you’re going to do it, you have to find ways to sneak by your competitors.
Plus, you do have to build your list before you can make money from it. And that takes a fair amount of time.
3. SEO And Content Marketing
As you can see, they both came in right behind e-mail. In fact, even though 68% of those surveyed found e-mail “good” or “excellent” in terms of ROI, SEO came in right behind at 67% and content marketing at 63%.
So, they’re right up there with e-mail.
The problem with both is they take a lot of time to execute. They can cost a significant amount of money. And it may be 9-12 months before you see any results.
However, once you get them working, they produce a great ROI for years.
4. Paid Search
This one had a rating of 54% as being “good” or “excellent” at providing ROI. So it’s a step back from the other methods, but not too far.
The nice thing about paid search is you can rank, get traffic, and start earning sales right away. The bad news is it costs a lot of money. So you may need a couple month’s worth of losses while you learn before you start to profit.
So if you need to get revenue now, it’s a reasonable solution. And, when you get those visitors to your site, you can try to capture them on your e-mail list. While there’s a little more risk involved, PPC’s not necessarily a bad choice.
Special tip: use Bing’s ad network to get a better ROI if you have a very limited budget. They charge less on average than Google does.
Those are my thoughts on someÂ various digital marketing methods available. Which make most sense for your company?
Do your customers complain a lot? Don’t worry! You’ll find the answer to that in this post.
Have you ever had that time in business where all your customers seem to complain at once?
You want to serve your customers.
But a lot of complaints makes your business difficult. Pretty soon, what started out as your dream now becomes your greatest source of stress.
Instead of being excited to start your day, you wake up and sit in bed, filled with dread. Who knows what nasty things you’ll hear this time?
It happens in every business at one time or another.
Don’t take it personally. Don’t think you’re a failure. Listen to what customers say and find solutions to their problem instead.
Or, simply avoid doingÂ these things in the first place to make sure you never even hear most of those complaints:
1. Not Following Through on What Was Promised
Customers simply want you to do what you say when you say you’re going to do it. Believe it or not, that’s a premium customer service feature at many companies.
Fortunately, the solution is simple. Only make promises you can keep. Don’t promise things faster than you can do them.
And if you can’t keep the promise, don’t make it at all.
Keep track of everything you say. And simply do it.
2. Employees Hiding Behind Company Policy
This is actually one of the harder complaints to deal with. Because, you’ll have to take a look at your company’s service policy to see how you can modify it to make it work.
Evercall a company and keep asking questions until you finally hear,”I’m sorry, but company policy doesn’t let us do that.”
Not what your customers want to hear. And one of the great advantages of a small business over a large one is flexible, excellent service.
So, make your policy flexible and give your reps power to make customers happy. And only make policy come into play as a very last-ditch effort.
One legendary customer service story holds that a customer wanted to return 4 car tires…to a company that didn’t even sell them. To make him happy, they took them anyway.
Try that once, and then promote the story.
3. No One Knows Where the Customer’s Order Is
All customers like to know exactly where their order is. And with order tracking easily available to even small businesses, you should deliver it to them.
It’s a benefit to you because many customers won’t even call. And you can add a question about it in your FAQ. Plus, you can notify your customers through your newsletter that they can track their order online.
Make it a standard feature you offer your customers. It more than pays for itself.
It’s almost always better to prevent customer complaints where possible. However, customers love it when you take the time to fix their problem too.
So if you have a high volume of complaints, think of it as an opportunity to turn one-time customers into lifetime customers.
You won’t regret your decision!
Is live chat right for your business?
How can I say that without even asking you a single question about yours?
Simple. Because live chat has a 73% customer satisfaction rate, which places it ahead of both email (61%) and the phone (44%).
So yes, if the typical business gets a good customer satisfaction rate like that, it should be a part of your business.
And here’s additional reasons as to why you may want it at your business:
1. 90% of Customers Find Live Chat Helpful
So says the ATG Global Consumer Trend Study. In physical stores, you don’t always have someone nearby you can ask for help. Most of the time you do. But not always.
With live chat, just seeing that “Live Chat” button makes a world of difference. They get reassurance they can get their questions answered nearly immediately.
That’s powerful for their shopping experience.
2. 63% of Customers are More Likely to Return to a Website that Offers Live Chat
…That stat’s according to research from eMarketer.com. What a huge advantage for you versus your competition?
While Live Chat gets used by many websites, you know many others do not. It’s not yet a standard offering. So you can get a nice little competitive edge on other companies.
3. When Does Live Chat Come in Handy?
Live chat helps your customers a ton for most issues. But which ones specifically?
Well ATG research mentioned by eMarketer says this is when customers prefer the phone:
â€˘ When dealing with sensitive information
â€˘ If complex or technical information’s involved
â€˘ When large amounts of money are concerned
Aside from those issues, customers love live chat. So consider how you can use it to solve all your other customer service problems.
4. Faster Service
Think about your phone customer service experiences. You have to wade through dozens of irritating menus with an obnoxious computer voice screeching in your ear. And it’s not too uncommon to get dropped entirely.
With live chat, skilled agents can serve three or more people effectively at the same time. Your customers don’t have to wait for service nearly as long. And your agents help more customers, which means you can save on the costs of hiring additional agents.
5. You Can Easily Review the Quality of Support
You have written records of your agent’s service to review. Phone records get cumbersome and time-consuming to check. And looking at just a representative couple of phone calls may not represent your employee’s true performance at all.
With written transcripts of live chat support, you can perform accurate, honest, and fair reviews of employee work. Plus, you can update your own service processes easily with the new data.
Is live chat for your e-commerce company? It is, unless you have a highly compelling reason for not using it.
Ready to start your e-commerce biz? Thinking about opening a new brand?
What should you name it?
Some names are better than others. And they have to communicate what’s most valuable to your market.
“Calvin Klein” immediately communicates luxury, exclusivity, and distinction.
“Dollar Tree” focuses on price.
You can guess what kind of customer buys from each brand. Nothing wrong with either approach. You just have to be clear on who you serve. And you have to give your business a name that reflects what your ideal customer really wants.
So here’s some more tips for doing that:
1. Involve Only the Right People
Remember, you designed your business to serve a specific niche. When naming your business, you might be tempted to ask for feedback from a slew of friends and family members.
You can certainly include them. But only if they reflect the market you want to serve.
Everyone you know may have an idea on what your business’s name should be. Only listen to the people who really “get” you and your business.
2. Stay Away from Literal and Descriptive Business Names
These names are a good first step. They describe exactly what your business does. That’s better than a vague business name that confuses.
But you really need something that communicates value. What does your market really want?
Cheap prices? A good deal? A high-end product? Relaxation? Convenience?
Figure out what they really want when they buy your products. Your business name should reflect that.
3. Avoid Inventing New Words Too
Think of Xerox. What comes to mind when you hear “Kodak?” Or how about “Wal Mart?” You have certain thoughts and feelings that arise when you hear these names.
Don’t go that route with your business…at least when your business is young anyway.
That’s because it takes lots of dollars spent on advertising to condition people to associate your business name with certain values.
You can always rebrand in the future when your business takes off. So, don’t feel immense pressure to come up with the perfect name now.
4. Consider a Simple, Inexpensive Test
The great thing about the web is that you can test all sorts of things and get reasonably accurate results without spending a lot of money. Consider creating a few landing pages with different business names…keeping all else the same.
See how visitors to your landing pages react. Always best to let your market determine what works at your business.
So…there’s no perfect business name out there. But you can find good ideas that inspire trust and build connections with customers instantly.
How many marketing channels do you work?
Count up your social media profiles.
Add in your website.
Do you have a newsletter?
Oh, and now Periscope and Peach are 100% essential too…
Well, actually, I made that last part up.
But, you get the point.
You have a lot of places you have to be present online.
What’s the key to making it all work the best so you get the most sales?
Actually, here’s a few:
An inconsistent messaging approach across various channels drives your customers bonkers. They get confused. And they’re less likely to buy when that happens.
Managing so many channels at once is challenging. But, the words you use on each and every channel need to be consistent so customers have a similar experience on all.
Your branding and logo must be consistent as well.
2. One Person Oversees it All
It doesn’t matter who does it…but it needs to be the same person. You can have a team of people underneath that person.
But, they must have very clear standards in place. And they must review the marketing work done.
What would your marketing be without analytics? Having a difficult time tracking what’s going on? Find a way to make it happen. You need to know what your audience responds to.
Let your data tell you what to do. If a certain channel doesn’t seem to make sense for your business, drop it from your marketing mix and gain focus.
4. What’s your Budget Per Channel?
Every channel costs time and money. And each channel has paid advertising methods available too. Create a budget for each one, and stick to it.
5. Respond toÂ Everything
Every social channel has options to notify you automatically by e-mail of comments, shares, likes, and so on. Make sure you respond to every comment.
With shares and likes, respond strategically (because you’ll get too many of those to work on) to ones from influential customers. And do it publicly so other customers can see you care about those you sell to.
6. How Will You Make Everything a Two-Way Interaction?
Promotion is the first key…just get theÂ value out there so customers have a reason to pay attention to you.
The next step? Actually interacting with your fans.
It’s extremely difficult to get comments going.
But, once you have your audience engaged, you’ve won 90% of the battle of getting them to purchase.
You can always research your competitor’s marketing channels to see how they do it.
So, those are your 6 keys to digital marketing success. Put ’em in action today and watch your profits skyrocket out of control.
How many businesses have you seen succeed because of partnerships they have with others?
Haven’t you heard of other companies that always seem to have something going on with someone else?
How do you create a strong and effective network online?
It’s a bit mysterious at first. So here’s what you can do to make it happen:
1. Focus on What You Can Do for Someone Else
Almost every business, online or off, focuses on what they can get from the other party. It’s the way the human mind works.
However, you can stand out by approaching potential partners with a strong offer that benefits them.
For example, say you sell patio furniture. The other guyÂ sells lawn and garden products.
Well, you can approach them with a win-win offer because both of you sell to customers likely to be interested in both kinds of products.
If you can’t find a way to approach another business owner with value for them, wait until you’ve found a way to do so. Otherwise, you confuse them, or they associate you with worthless offers and likely won’t meet with you again in the future.
2. Start the Approach by E-mail
Aren’t e-mails easily deleted?
Yes, but not if you communicate in a certain way.
Here’s an example of how to get the attention of the other business fast:
Subject line: John, I can instantly get you access to thousands of customers
E-mail body: John, we both sell to exactly the same market. That’s why I propose we send marketing e-mails to each other’s lists….
Using the owner’s first name in the e-mail immediately shows you did research. Most offers to businesses aren’t researched beforehand. They’re spammed out generically. And they get deleted.
Businesses want to see that you get them and have an offer specifically outlined just for them.
Using all small letters in the subject line also makes the message look personal. Capitalizing the first letter of each word gives the impression of a marketing message.
Small and just starting out? Show your target companies how their market will love your product. Give your partner a good margin.
What company doesn’t like quality products they can sell to their market?
3. Follow Up with a Phone Call
No one uses the phone anymore. That’s why a follow-up phone call makes you stand out so much.
Plus, you already have something to follow up about. You can ask about the e-mail you sent.
Statistics show 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact. So if you don’t get an answer right away, don’t worry about it or take it personally.
Do about 1 contact every month. Follow your target companies on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Like, comment, and share their stuff.
You will make contacts and partnerships because most people don’t do this.
And those three tacticsÂ could give you the exposure you need to explode your business!
Have you heard about “equity crowdfunding?” Federal law will make it legal soon. But, of course it has its hoops to jump through. For starters, you can only raise $1 million.
You have to raise your entire goal, or you can’t collect any of it, and you lose the up-front costs too. And your financial documents need a certain amount of analysis, depending on the amount you want to raise.
Plus, they limit what each investor can contribute.
So it’s not without its pains. But, it’s another way to raise money that you can pull out of your entrepreneurial hat.
Don’t like it? That’s fine. You have lots of other choices too, including these:
1. Invest Only Your Own Time and Profits
Getting money from outside sources always comes with strings attached. Don’t like strings? Invest only your own time and money so you keep control.
The downside? You may have to spend more time on your business, putting in more hours than you’d like. It gets draining, isolating, and stressful.
2. Friends and Family
This is another option. One I always stay away from personally. The potential downside is your business goes south and you can’t pay your friends or family the money they lent. That makes those relationships awkward…possibly for the rest of your life.
However, it can be a good source if you have strong relationships with your family, or if they end up giving the money as a gift.
This can be a great place to access money, while not having to pay it back dollar-for-dollar. You will, however, have to compensate those who give you money with value. The nice thing is that if your project doesn’t get fully funded, you don’t pay any fees.
But don’t view Kickstarter as a “magic bullet” that solves all your problems. The major con is that you need to get your project fully funded to get the money. And it’s super-hard to pull off a successful campaign that gets fully funded.
4.Â Small Business Financing
A new niche has popped up because traditional bank financing can be so tough to get. Many small business financing outfits will now help you get well into the six figures of funding. However, you may have higher interest rates and larger payments to compensate for the additional risk you present.
Growing Your Business is Always Possible
Regardless of what kind of e-commerce business you want to run, you always have growth options. It’s up to you to consider the benefits and downfalls.
Do you have a unique market position?
The biggest misconception for new business owners is how marketing works. When you first start out, it’s tempting to think that it’s “spreading the news about your products and services.”
Yes, people need to know your name so they can buy from you.Â But, it’s much more than that.
For example, do you know what “positioning” is?
It simply means that you know all the benefits your competitors offer, your market’s needs, and then you show how you’re different. Or, maybe you fulfill a need no other competitor can at this point. And if you’re super-advanced, you’ve identified a need the market doesn’t even know it has yet.
When you have a unique position, sales come in so much easier. In fact, they can be almost effortless. After all, if you’re the only company that solves Â a problem your market cares about, you have no competition to deal with.
Let’s take a look at some other aspects of “positioning:”
1. When Should You Find Your Position?
Before you start your business. And if you’ve already started, as soon as possible. Marketing to any type of customer works far better when you have a unique position.
If you don’t, and you sound like other businesses, your customers have to start comparing. When all other factors are the same, they go with the cheaper company.
And you don’t want to be that company…at least not in the early days of your business anyway.
2. How Do You Find Your Position?
The internet makes this super-easy. All you have to do is go to your competitor’s websites and read what they say.
Make a list of top competitors, or the leaders, in your niche. About 5-10 companies or so. For each company, write down the main messages you notice they communicate.
Can’t identify how they try to sell to their market? Great, that means they don’t know. And for you, that means you can capitalize on that while they try to figure it out.
3. What Position Should You Take?
This part’s a little more complex. In addition to researching your competitors, you also need to know your customers. You want an intimate understanding of their problems, concerns, and deepest fears.
Researching your competitors may reveal those. However, your market may have other needs. So, you need to find out where your market exists online, and read their comments and social posts. You can also call and talk to your customers.
Write down all the things that bother them.
With this information, it’s up to you to create a product or service that fulfills your market’s needs better than anyone else. But that’s a complex process that’s better left for another blog post, or even an entire series of blog posts.
Do you have a marketing plan that works?
Isn’t marketing telling about all your products and services?
Yes, but today’s marketing works a little different than it used to. That’s because, before the internet, your buyers had to rely on your company for information. They didn’t have instantaneous access to dozens of options and all the research they could possibly need.
But today, they do. So, instead of talking about your products and services first, you have to earn their attention. And that works by giving them a little bit of value first. Then, as you slowly hold their attention over time, the sales roll in.
That’s marketing in general. Of course, there are some nearly instant ways to make sales (like PPC for example).
And oh, by the way, there’s dozens of techniques you can use. But what should you do to market your business, in specific?
1. Do the Marketing You Like
Make a list of all the marketing you’ve tried, have thought about trying, or would like to try. That could be things like:
â€˘ Blogging on your own blog
â€˘ Your Facebook page
â€˘ Guest posting
â€˘ Networking on Twitter
â€˘ Trade shows
â€˘ Cold calls to create partnerships
At the end of the day, the best marketing you can do is the marketing you like. That’s because, if you don’t like, eventually you’ll burn out and stop doing it.
By the way, if you don’t like marketing, outsource it. You can always find someone else willing to do it.
2. Do What Few Others Do
What’s hot today? Social media, content marketing, PPC, SEO, list building, and so on.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do those tactics. However, you can score some wins by doing the less popular kinds of marketing.
Today, far fewer people spend time picking up the phone because sending an e-mail’s so much easier. So, start calling other businesses related to your niche that you could partner with.
Call the owners of blogs to try to secure a guest post spot. You’d be surprised with how lesser-known tactics can be so much more effective.
3. Do a Few Things Really Well
Depending on how much time you have and want to spend on marketing each week, you can only try a limited number of marketing tactics. For most people, that means you can try around 2-3 tactics yourself.
Go beyond that, and you dilute your time too much. That leads to ineffective marketing that does not get you customers.
If you need to do more marketing, you can always easily outsource.
So that’s what I have for you so you execute your marketing plan with the maximum degree of effectiveness. It’s easy to quickly overload yourself with so many tasks that you don’t net any real return from your marketing.
So keep it simple, make a plan, and stick to it.