Archive for the 'Tools' Category

You CAN Win: Lead generation and sales for Small Businesses

Marketing Sherpa published the chart below on sales conversion.  What’s stunning is that 50% of companies have NO processes or system in place.  That’s an opportunity for smaller organizations.

How Organizations Manage Their Marketing-to-Sales Process

While a customized Salesforce application and IT staff may be out of your reach, you can still effectively manage your sales pipeline and compete against the bigger boys with the right product. I recommend WeMeUS Relationship Management and Lead Generation for Consultants and Small Businesses.  WeMeUs is a personal CRM with full Lead Management for lead nurturing and tracking. Read more on WeMeUs for Sales

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Free US long distance for more people

I was one of the beta users of Grand Central (now Google Voice) 5 years ago.  I extolled the service’s innovations in Unified Communications.

What makes it a breakthrough is the innovative integration of telephony, Internet, and usability (similar to what Apple did with digital music). I use Grand Central for long distance calling to any phone from my office that is faster, cheaper (currently free for long distance), more convenient (I’m already at my computer), and more powerful (integrated with online address book, automatically adds phone numbers from previous calls) than picking up the phone to dial. Plus I can put their widget on my web site for free so that visitors can call me for free (they just enter their number and it dials us both, calling all my phones).

Google Voice has spread its tentacles to mobile and now email spheres. Any Gmail account can now initiate free US long distance phone calls.

You no longer need a Google Voice account.  But you might as well get one.   Google finally opened the free service to all visitors after its eternal “beta”.

The only surprise  is that this expansion has taken so long. Innovation has virtually been at a standstill as Google has slowly assimilated Grand Central over the past three years.

Email: Quality is more important than ever before

The average businessperson receives 200 emails per day. He spends  30-40% of his working time just managing that email torrent.  Do you think he needs yet another one of your impersonal emails? It’s little wonder harried people today click ‘Spam’ on perfectly legitimate messages.

Business is increasingly about trust and building relationships. The top email marketing tactic is sending custom content to a targeted group, according to a MarketingSherpa survey (below). Impersonal email blasts rank at the bottom of the list.

What about the email that you send to your business customers and prospects? Email marketing services like iContact and Constant Contact can be useful.  But sending out blasts of hundreds or thousands of emails is increasingly ineffective.

Large businesses have the manpower and budget to customize CRM systems like salesforce.com. Small businesses and consultants don’t.  Check out tools like WeMeUs Contact Management and Lead Generation.  They enable highly personalized emails for messages that have impact … and actually get read.

Relationships matter

All web visitors are not alike.  If you can appeal to their individual needs, interests, and actions, you can better interact and sell them.  One way to segment users is by where they come from. The following chart holds no surprises.

Paid advertising results in 60% higher conversion than organic.  That’s not a lot, considering paid ads typically are associated with a higher intent to act and have targeted landing pages that better be more effective.

The stronger the relationship or referral, the more likely people will buy, try, register, or contact you. An existing contact or customer is 6 timex more likely to act than a random visitor and 3.5 times more likely than a  visitor from paid advertising.

It’s important to have the right tools.  Microsoft Outlook is a fine address book.  But it’s not going to help you generate business.  I recommend WeMeUs contact and lead management for consultants and small businesses. For relationship building WeMeUs offers  logs and reminders for active contacts, Keep in Touch features for other contacts, and the Email Assistant for sending ongoing customized and personalized news and updates to customers, prospects, and associates.  Sign up for a free account here.

Web conversion by source
Direct URL or bookmark 7.38%
From another site or email 6.58%
AVERAGE 3.6%
Paid search* 2.03%
Organic search 1.26%
Study by Engine Ready of 26 web
retailers over 12 months

Email for relationship marketing

I wrote the following for WeMeUs, with whom I consult. Let me know if you run across other tools that do a good job in this area also.

Are you using the right email marketing tool?

Group email companies like Constant Contact and iContact have popularized email marketing. The technology is helpful with automated email management and opt-in and out processing.  But is it working for you?

Review the following checklist.

  • Are your email recipients primarily anonymous … or people who personally know you?
  • Are your group mailings typically to  hundreds or thousands of subscribers … or fewer?
  • Are your messages the same from person to person with the name changing… or highly personalized?
  • Are your mailing groups fixed and general … or ad hoc and topic-based?

If answered by selecting the first choices, then the group email services have the right solution for you. If you chose the latter choices, then you’re likely a consultant or small business that uses email not just for direct sales or branding, but also for relationship marketing.

Email for relationship marketing

Most solopreneurs and many small businesses generate revenues through their existing contacts. Their primary asset is their network of contacts, which they leverage for repeat, referral, and new business. This is relationship marketing.

Relationship marketing use of email differs from standard email marketing in several ways.

  • It’s personal. Email contact is not with a anonymous subscriber but a professional contact.
  • Distribution lists are small. Emails may be individuals or small groups.
  • Messages are highly personalized. While groups emails use a common template, each email is often customized with a personal note from the sender to recipient.
  • Email is highly targeted. Some messages may general for your business, such as a new product announcement, special offer, or a regular newsletter.  Other mail is occasional, such as to pass on an article, industry news, or web site of interest.

Consultants and small businesses need a relationship management service that integrates contact management, referral marketing, and email like WeMeUs. A deep contact manager contains a wide range of contact fields make it easy to form small groups by tag, keyword, and other criteria, and facilitates email personalization. Contact reminders allow users to stay in touch with current and important contacts and build relationships. Robust tagging and groups enable contacts to be assigned to ad hoc or permanent groups for group email. A contact log that stores communications, including sent email, gives the user a single glance at personal contact.

Building referrals

When you move to relationship marketing you broaden your email communications.  You still publish product announcements, special offers, surveys, and your regular newsletter.  You can build on that to do much more when you also start targeting and personalizing your email.

  • Periodically reach out to customers and close contacts to say hello and see how their business is doing.
  • Add highly personal messages to emails from asking about the spouse and kids to mentioning a shared experience or interest to congratulating a contact on their latest business launch or other success.
  • Solicit ideas and feedback
  • Cross promote other media such as blog and video postings.
  • Reconnect with contacts you haven’t spoken to recently.
  • Share articles, white papers, industry news, or a web site of interest.
  • Update contacts with a new feature or testimonial
  • Celebrate news that is personal or a shared interest
  • Remind people how you can help them as an industry or business expert

Email marketing for consultants and small businesses goes beyond the direct mail mantra of direct sales and having your email stand out to get noticed. It serves the critical role of high-touch personalization in relationship marketing.

Beat Spam

… or How I Learned to Love Email

I actively use  a dozen different domains for various businesses and have several different email accounts and domain management tools.  I used to get a few thousands emails a day, yep, most of that spam.  I took a few steps to reduce that that all business and web site owners should follow.

  • Encrypt web-based addresses
  • Turn off domain catch-all addresses, i.e. if email isn’t to a known address reject it.
  • Use domain/server-based spamcatchers where available.
  • Use opt-in/out services for group business mail.
  • Pray to the god Charity

That reduced total email by 70-80% to several hundred messages a day … still a whole lotta spam going on.

I use spam software to reduce that further.  But that still left me with a few hundred spam messages a day plus checking the ones that did get caught.

The last step was the easiest – use Google Gmail, which has reduced spam and false positives to about 1-2 a day.

Now I’m a gotta-own need-to-customize kinda guy.  So I use client email software (open source Thunderbird).  No problem.  Not only is Gmail the best spam fighter, it also has other features, all still free, that no one else fully offers:

  • Pick up mail from other POP/IMAP accounts
  • Be accessed via POP/IMAP
  • Forward mail to another address
  • Store several gigabytes, sufficient for all the email 99.99% of people will ever have.

So here is what I do and recommend:

  • Be responsible.  Don’t report as spam real commercial mail, such as stores and services that you patrinize, mailing lists and groups that you signed up for, and contacts that you’ve communicated with (including LinkedIn connections).  Filter such email into folders for later review, change your email settings for those sites and services, unsubscribe from lists, and disconnect with people if deleting email is too much bother.  But don’t report them as spam.  That hurts not just legitimate businesses like them … and yours … but other users who want to receive that email.
  • Get a Gmail account. Set it up:
    • Set all read email to be archived (put in All Mail).  This keeps it an email backup and lets you review report individual messages as spam that Gmail missed.
    • Every few days check the Gmail spam folder.  If you see legitimate mail, mark it as Not Spam.  If you don’t want that mail, delete it from the Inbox. After you review the spam mail, select and delete it all to clear the folder.
  • Develop and implement an email process that allows Gmail to process all your mail.
    • For POP email accounts, set up Gmail to read account mail.   the and forwarding addresses that come to you that puts Gmail in the loop.
  • Set it up to receive mail from your POP/IMAP accounts and forw

Marc Freedman

PS.  Because of aggressive spam flters, DallasBlue and MyLinkDaddy email often go into bulk mail.  Please remember to add marc@dallasblue.com and marc@mylinkdaddy.com to your Address Book and permitted senders list!


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