The 6 Critical Keys to Increasing Profits and Driving More Sales With Social Media and Technology!

I received a call from a potential client recently. This call was different than most I receive. You see, this business owner was angry! I mean outright ticked off!

He wasn’t angry with me. No. Not angry with his industry. He was very angry with new technology and marketing, and the people trying to constantly promise him the moon if they signed up for their service.

The call went something like this…

“Is this Bill?”

“Yes sir,” I said. “How can I help you?”

“My name is Bob. I am the president of XYZ Company (the names have changed to protect the frustrated.) I am so sick and tired of all the calls, emails, and letters I am receiving from people who say they can get me to the top of Google, start a Facebook page, show me how to Twitter, and promise me a ton of sales with this new marketing stuff. I have tried their pay-per-click programs and wasted a ton of money. They promised they could get me to the top of Google, and 1 year later, I am no where near the top. I am fed up wasting time and money!”

“I understand Bob. What made you call me specifically?”

“My friend is a client of yours. She told you can sort this out for me.”

“Thank you for calling Bob. Yes I can help you. Let’s talk about your frustrations and how we can turn lemon into lemonade…”

I can’t tell you how many times I hear those same frustrations from clients and customers. They weren’t as passionate as Bob, but you can hear the fear and desperation in their voices too.

The new internet media can be a blessing or a curse, depending on how you approach it, your mood to embrace it or not, and your passion to execute a very good plan.

Part of my weekly ritual is to spend time studying trends in consumer behavior, electronic trends, ecommerce advances, and better understanding the lifecycle of the purchasing process.

Not only do I read research articles, I pay attention to my own buying habits and those around me. And have those habits ever changed in the last few years.

With the incredible growth of Smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and other mobile devices, consumer buying habits are changing literally right before our eyes.

Social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, are captivating consumers in every walk of life and creating opportunities to communicate with them like never before. We now have a tremendous opportunity to tell our story and capture that lucrative group of buyers who can be very loyal to your business.

Before I get into strategies and techniques on how to improve your sales and profits through better customer engagement, let’s look at some trends. Forrester Research, Inc, Pew Research, and the Nielsen Company have all recently completed studies. Here are some interesting statistics they discovered:

  • 43% of all U.S. retail sales are influenced by the web (Forrester 2010)
  • Preference by U.S. online adults to receive customer support via the phone has fallen from 32% in 2007 to 29% in 2010. (Forrester 2010)
  • U.S. online adults report they spend equal amounts of time – 13 hours a week – watching TV and being online. TV viewership has increased only 5% from 2005 to 2010. (Forrester 2010)
  • 79% of U.S. online adults read print magazines, down from 84% in 2007. (Forrester 2010)
  • 58% of U.S. online adults prefer to research a product online, up from 43% in 2007. (Forrester 2010)
  • As of February 2012, Pew Research states that 88% of all adults use cell phones. About 50% of those are Smartphones (Up from 17% in 2010.) Over 80% of Smartphone owners use the internet with the phones at least once a month.
  • Nielsen says that adults have increased access to social sites via their phones from 11.1% in March 2010, to about 40% in September 2011.
  • In 2010 Forrester Research stated that 10.3 million U.S. adults owned tablets, and will be about 82 million by 2015. CNET states that the ownership of tablets increased from 10% in mid December 2011, to 19% in mid January 2012.

I believe this is the tip of the iceberg in terms of accessing the internet, shopping, and buying. You will see these numbers climb dramatically.

What Does All This Information Mean?

These statistics mean a few things to your business. One, there is more and more opportunity to connect with consumers in a positive way. This new reality also creates more work, the need to have a deeper and comprehensive strategy, and you will need a dramatic shift in thinking if you are not already on board with the consumer’s changes.

With the world literally at the consumer’s fingertips (anywhere), his or her tendency is to bounce around on the internet very fast and can lose interest in your company, product, or service. You must use a number of different strategies and tactics to create a conversation with these consumers, methodically move them towards purchasing from you, and not lose them to someone else that has grabbed their attention.

Consumers can now enter the buying game from so many directions. They have more options, thus more directions than ever before. They can find you with a simple Google search for your company or product. They can see your pay-per-click ad. Or a large banner ad that follows them on the internet. They can find you on a Facebook ad, or if one of their friends likes your page, you show up on their friends Facebook wall. Or what about a prospect sharing your Tweet about a particular promotion to their Twitter followers?

And there are emails, direct mail programs, print ads, radio, TV… the list goes on and on. It is more important than ever to know your prospects/customer, your target market and find out where they spend their time. Then target your campaigns appropriately to your prospects.

Once the consumer enters your marketing lifecycle, the message you send is critical to better conversions and also repeat business. You need to think of your marketing lifecycle more circular now, rather than linear. The circle is the top of a funnel. The circle includes all the different media types. You still need to move them along through the qualification funnel, but now the size of the top of the funnel has gotten much larger, and is getting bigger every day. If you continue to exclude some opportunities, your funnel top becomes much smaller than your competitors. More leads into the funnel, the more sales and profits come out the bottom of the funnel.

6 Critical Keys

Critical Key 1:

One critical key to improving your sales conversions and revenue is to reduce the friction to your sales closing (conversion) by engaging the consumer in the channels they are engaged. Embrace where they go and spend time developing strategies that will convert them right there. Not distracting them to other channels.

If you have a lead on Amazon, get them checked out then and there. Don’t count on moving them to another site where they have to think about it again.

Critical Key 2:

Make sure you know your target market very well. Where do they spend their time? Do they use Smartphones? Do they carry their tablet into your retail store? Check your Google Analytics to see how they are reaching your site and to what pages. What is their income range? The list goes on and on.

Critical Key 3:

It’s really the old K.I.S.S. principle. Keep the conversion and closing very simple and easy for the customer to understand.

From and ecommerce point of view, the checkout needs to be very simple and streamlined. The customer needs to feel comfortable and understand everything about the sale. How much is shipping going to cost me? How long will it take? What is your return policy?

Critical Key 4:

If you are promoting a product in an email campaign or any campaign for that matter, the link from the media to the product needs to be directed to a landing page with a specific call to action, or directly to the product page. Don’t make the customer search for the item on your site, or other sales page. All too often I see clients directing their campaigns to the main page of the site instead of a dedicated page. A huge mistake.

Critical Key 5: Cross Channel Marketing.

Consumers use many different ways to communicate with their friends, family, and you, their retailer, e-tailer, or service provider.

Expanding your marketing message beyond just email, or direct mail is critical to your success. Those businesses who don’t engage with their prospects and customers through multiple channels and cross over between these channels will not be maximizing their opportunity to sell, and will not see their business grow.

Traditional marketing has always been explained as a three-prong approach. You need to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time. We now need to look at a fourth prong, delivering all these through the right media.

Critical Key 6:

Embrace the opportunities. Check your mood about the new marketing opportunities. Be careful selecting multiple companies that will tell you they can promise to get you to the top of Google, or fix your reputation online, or will put together a pay-per-click campaign that will change your world.

Bob was a tough one to win over. Once I was able to help him understand the big picture, we were able to lay out a great plan and then execute making small adjustments along the way. I have to say, Bob is much happier today. And his qualified leads more than doubled once we were able to define his target market and refine his unique selling proposition.

All of these things can happen, but with a strategic plan, and a compelling message. Now, commit to yourself that you will first formulate a comprehensive internet marketing plan, and then execute the plan to bigger sales and bigger profits.

Good luck and great marketing!

Bill Mooney

Ecommerce Marketing Plan

Concept of Service

The current work deals with marketing offer of e-commerce service. It highlights the essential steps of marketing of a brand-new firm offering services of website construction, design, programming, development, and promotion. The service should be provided exclusively online via the site of the company. Online business operations include ordering, agreement on requirements, elaboration of design, and providing constant customer support.

The service implementation process should include the following stages:

– Defining goals of the site. This may include either physical meeting or discussion of the product in question via Internet.

– Developing the website structure. This stage is aimed at flashing out technical aspects of the site. It should include definition of necessary technology, type and specifications of site navigation.

– Website design and built. Developing layout and graphics of the site. This may include elaborating the company’s genuine creative approach in developing the graphic looks of the order, or complying with the requirements presented by the customer as to general look of the project.

– Website programming and built. This stage depends on details of each specific project and definite requirements posed as to the quality and level of the site. Also, this process varies according to the kind of customer and destination of the site contemplated. All features of the site are subject to examination and test by both company’s specialist and customer.

– Technical release of the site. Once technical aspects of the project finished, the customer should be provided with free consultation along with further site marketing and promotion services, techniques, and practical advice.

– Ongoing site maintenance. This is the stage when the job of creating the customer’s site is finished. But the company guarantees keeping all its sites current in terms of graphics, technology, navigation and usability. After release of the site, the company continues working with the customer as to establishing a schedule for the website regular review and maintenance to meet clients’ requests, accommodate users’ feedbacks, incorporating new system updates and new technologies.

It is a fact that the idea of the internet-commerce of this type is not brand-new, and for a new company to enter the market and receive profit out of its business, it is necessary to invent some novel elements in the service offered. The innovative elements that this project contains compared to large variety of competitors functioning on IT e-commerce market are based on combination of cost leadership and differentiation generic strategies (according to M. Porter, [1]). Therefore, the project is launched in B2C format, though there can be differentiation of customers and hence differentiation of the level and variety of services offered to each individual customer, and the project is for-profit, small business case.

This new business is intended to compete with both large business providers of site development services and small business representatives dealing with this issue.

Another unique feature of the project is wide variety of services included in one business offer. This includes: web-design, redesign of existing site, possibility of working with many programming languages, site management, allocation in search engines, animation, free hosting offer, email registration, web mail and POP3 access, ftp access, tools for web statistics, domain name registration, other services like full life website consulting, flash animation creation, elaboration of graphic and logo design, e-commerce and shopping carts, site management, administering and maintenance, banner ads, marketing, engine position enhancing and promotions, search engine optimization, software testing and even online training.

Industry Overview

The industry of e-commerce is one of the fastest and most dynamically developing industries worldwide. Today it is quite difficult to accurately define the impact of the Internet on commerce in exact figures, but according to the estimates by 2000 there were about 260 million Internet users worldwide and by mid 2003 their number has grown more than twice and reached 580 millions. By 2005, their number is estimated to reach more than 770 million.

These figures show that the Internet has become very important and significant business medium through which buyers and sellers not only conduct transactions that were earlier conducted live, but carry out online-specific business buy-and-sell operations. Only three years ago, in the first three quarters of 2002, according to the figures of Department of Commerce [3], e-commerce transactions amounted to more than 20 billion dollars. It should be taken into account that those numbers are significantly lower than the amount of actual real transactions.

Today, e-commerce is booming. Market size of e-commerce has reached immense volumes. Moreover, this growth tends to accelerate. While in 2002 total volume of retail American e-commerce sales was fixed at $44 billion, one year later it increased to 56 billion. Then, in 2003, online sales made only 1.6 of total sales, providing the ground to suggest that there is very large growth potential. Online sales are predicted to rise to 2.9% by the year of 2007. Thus, Internet economy force became more integral part of the entire US economy than it has ever been. Research conducted by the Cisco Systems (available at [2]) shows that the Web is transforming the way people work and the revenue from Internet transactions annually grows by more than 50 percent.

Jupiter Research [4] reports that American B2B Internet commerce rates increased noticeably over the past 5 years and amount from $336 billion in 2000 to $ 6.3 trillion in 2005. Jupiter mentions five industries that have more than half of all buying and selling operations online. These are: aerospace and defense, chemicals, electronics, motor vehicle and parts, and computer and communications equipment and software. Among these industries, computer and communications equipment and software is leading with estimated number of online sales in this 2005 year reaching to $1 trillion.

That is very important for the current study since the project in question is to be launched in computer and communications industry. Therefore, proceeding from the trends mentioned in the industry of electronic commerce, one can assume that the direction of one’s business connected to online service and e-commerce, notwithstanding powerful competition, has all the chances to further develop and gain success since this market sector is subject to enhancement, development and transformation.

Since the number of Internet users is growing and the number of companies willing to be represented on the Web is increasing along with the number of companies launching online business, there is very high and further increasing demand in providing programming, design, site development and marketing services. Therefore, a new firm in the industry theoretically has solid opportunities to enter the market, whatever saturated it may be, and successfully develop. On the basis of abovementioned, the outline of relevant business target market gets clearly seen.

Target Market

The target market of the project is very vast one. It varies from individuals with the minimum requirements as to functionality, appearance and program possibilities of the site, to large companies with more solid and expensive orders. Since there are very different kinds of customers with various interests and needs, each requiring different approach and professional level of performance, they should be segmented into distinct groups. By segmenting the customers, the company increases its chances on success.

The customers were divided according to the level of the desired product complexity. After such criterion, three levels can be distinguished: those requiring basic site development; intermediate level, and sophisticated one. Basic level implies comparatively low cost of services and is fine for individual customers, non-professional companies specializing, for example, in online selling of a small range of products. According to its name, this solution anticipates limited functionality, simple design, and quick implementation of the order.

Second group of customers comprises those with intermediate level orders. Such sites should include…

Full version of Ecommerce International Marketing Plan is available here [http://www.personal-writer.com/ecommerce-marketing-plan]

What Ecommerce Marketing Could Provide Your Business

It is one thing to run your successfully business on a day to day basis. But with the changing economic and social climate, this task is getting more and more complicated. With the arrival of the internet came new avenues and technology that everyone involved in business simply could not ignore. One of the biggest of these new technologies is the internet. To ignore the internet can mean failure for a small business these days.

If you have a small business that you have been trying to successfully run, you know that it can be a bit difficult to do as well as you might hope. This is why you need to take advantage of all the opportunities that you can get in terms of marketing so that you can be more successful. Many small businesses have gained quite a bit from ecommerce marketing. This is placing your products and services online through automated websites to help you with your customers and sales.

Having an ecommerce marketing website will help you take orders all day long without you having to be there. This is a huge advantage to the small business owner because time is already restricted as you are so busy. This site can be online taking orders for you whether you are working or not. The automated sales process that it provides you is amazing.

Staying in touch with customers is very important. Doing this all on your own will require hundreds of hours of focused work. With ecommerce marketing today, these processes can be automated. Shopping carts for example have the ability to continue contact with your customers and clients automatically suggesting additional products or services helping to produce more sales. These automated systems help you tremendously since it’s hard to do all the work by yourself.

Many might not be aware of this, but the internet is one of the best places to advertise to your local market. While most people might think the internet is only for the largest of companies, many have been using variations of ecommerce marketing to be successful in their own neighborhood. With a small business this type of cheap advertising is very effective since you can get customers at very low costs.

While it might seem a bit overwhelming, the process of getting your goods and services online through automated methods isn’t that hard. You should take advantage of ecommerce marketing today so that you can attract new customers from your local area and have more success.

How to Use Web and Internet Video to Market and Communicate

IBM Uses “Do It Yourself” Video to Communicate and Market

“No more long, cumbersome marketing documents – no more boring presentations. Video is how companies and business should communicate,” says Mark Leaser, Worldwide Offerings Manager, IBM Software Services for Lotus. “You can do it yourself and save thousands of dollars.

IBM Software Services for Lotus is using video in a wide variety of ways – for internal education and communications as well as for external marketing and customer relations.

Internally, Mr. Leaser and his department are using video for sales training, communication where they want to propose a particular course of action, and to provide training of their technical solution architects and solution specialists. They also are doing internal case studies – talking head interviews and lots of screen capture using their own LotusLive web conference solution and mixing it with live video.

IBM is also using video externally to promote and market their assets and solutions worldwide. The video messages are designed to help customers select, purchase and use the appropriate business solutions.

To speed up the production process, and to ensure a consistent look and feel, Mr. Leaser has developed an effective standardized format to deliver these external messages. These external communication videos usually start with a short teaser – essentially a one to two minute video introduction to a business solution then followed by an action step that is designed to steer viewers to specific online IBM landing pages with much more detail.

Combining the best practices from successful eCommerce and eTailing sites, these landing pages use even more video to further educate and market products and services. A typical video landing page will include links to additional content including additional video and product information. The landing page can also include “infomercial” type videos, as well as videos on how the products work and where to go for more info.

IBM uses video as a means of attracting interest in something that they are doing. The video segments have to be more than a commercial – they have to offer content with value, information of how their solutions will help their customers’ business, and tips for using particular solutions.

IBM Saves Money by Producing In House

Currently IBM uses outside production services as well as internal teams to create their videos. The customer case studies and/or reference videos are usually produced by an external company but increasingly, a larger percentage of the videos are being produced internally. Many of the videos are shot at tradeshows and events where IBM’s various technical and product experts are in attendance. Rather than hiring an outsider who charges $10K to $15K to produce a video, IBM found that they can do it ourselves, single camera, for a small fraction of the price, and it is just as effective. Over a year, they save hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Some case study videos are shot multi-camera but 90% of all productions are single camera. Most of the videos are captured using standard HD prosumer camcorders (recording onto 16 gigabyte SD cards) with flat lighting from a single large lightbox. For capturing audio, Mark uses professional Sony lavaliere microphones and Audio Technica shotgun microphones. Mark says, “Simple works. One of the most important technical details is to make sure we have clean audio.”

To improve the efficiency of the video editing and production process, the video is captured in a native Quicktime format and then inputted into Mac computers running Final Cut Studio. Mark has settled on h.264 and DVKitchen for compression and distribution over the company’s intranet as well as over the Internet. Mark usually compresses at the standard Apple TV settings (h.264 at 1280×720 with a 4800 kbps data rate) but DV Kitchen makes it simple to provide a variety of compression templates for various viewing and distribution options.

In many ways, their video production process is just like producing a document using Microsoft word. They use standardized formats and templates, and standardized technical specifications that allow a “producer” to easily cut and assemble a video without having to know a lot of technical details.

Once the video is done, the IBM team can share it in a variety of ways. For internal videos, they often use their own internal media servers or YouTube where the videos can be viewed using the standard YouTube video player.

However, for their external marketing videos, they were not satisfied with embedding YouTube in their public facing pages because there was too much clutter and not enough brand control. To give them more control and present a more professional look, they use outside video hosting companies and video platforms that can be customized.

Authoring video in house works for IBM because their current generation of IT decision makers understand the video language and often don’t have the patience to wade through a white paper or technical presentation. To properly reach them, information needs to be presented in a lively, colorful and high-energy mode that can only be conveyed via video.

SIDEBAR

Three reasons your business should use video to communicate

1. Use video – it works. The impact is phenomenal. Following the lead of the direct marketing industry which claims a 4x improvement in response in video versus text, Mark says that short videos with links is the most effective way for establishing powerful outward bound communications and building brand equity. Your audience expects video and you need to give it to them. An effective business presents information in a manner that is most receptive by their target audience.

2. Learn how to do it yourself. Modern video technology and solutions are easy to learn and very affordable. In many ways similar to cut and paste word processing, DIY video production has become the baseline for business communications and marketing. It is similar to the past evolution to word processing from executives relying on secretaries. The stratified and inefficient business architecture of the “Mad Men” TV show is long gone. Similarly, a new business communication paradigm is occurring now with video. Word processing is being supplanted by video. Long documents and boring powerpoint presentations are being replaced by video. Because DIY video is so efficient as a communications tool, it should be an integral part of your business.

3. Video is easier than people think. It is no longer some mystical technology. Yes, 20 years ago, video was complicated, expensive and required an advanced degree. However, with the advent of simple to use video nonlinear “cut and paste” editing programs and affordable high definition digital camcorders, high quality production is now attainable by almost anyone. You can hire someone out of high school who has all the skills. Remember – for business, simple works best. It is all about communicating ideas and information, not fancy effects or 3D explosions.