Author: Neil Patel

How to Target Your Mobile Customers with Push Notifications

It’s no secret that our world is trending in a mobile direction.

As a marketer, you need to recognize this concept and adapt accordingly. Your customers are using their mobile devices to consume, so that’s where you need to target them.

For those of you out there who developed a mobile app, you’re already heading in the right direction.

In fact, without the app as a platform, you won’t be able to use push notifications as a marketing tactic. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue reading if you don’t have a mobile app.

While you may not be able to implement this strategy right now, you’ll be able to do so once your app launches.

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a push notification?

I’m sure you’ve seen these before, probably on your own mobile devices, even if you didn’t know what they were called. It’s a message that appears on your screen, similar to a text message, but it comes from an app.

This is a great opportunity for you to share information, provide updates, and stay in contact with users who have your app downloaded to their devices.

But with great power comes great responsibility. Overloading on these messages could backfire, which I’ll explain in greater detail as we continue.

Use a limited number of words

It’s important that you clearly understand the difference between texts and push notifications. Even though they are similar and look the same on the screen, they are extremely different.

For example, when someone sends you a text message, the opening lines of the text will appear on your home screen. When you open up the message, you’ll see the full text.

But that’s not the case with a push notification.

When a user opens up a push notification, it brings them to the app, but the message is gone. So if your push notification is too long, part of it may get cut off, and the user won’t even know what you’re trying to say to them.

To prevent this from happening, it’s best to use as few words as possible when crafting your messages. That’s why shorter push notifications are more effective.

As you can see, fewer words lead to higher click rates.

So while you won’t have as much liberty with your word count as you would with a text message, push notifications are still very effective.

SMS messages from businesses can be perceived as spam. But with a push notification, they know exactly where it’s coming from since the app is installed on their device.

Plus, it’s free for users to receive a push notification. But they may have to pay for incoming SMS messages, depending on their plans.

Unsolicited SMS messages are also illegal, so overall, it’s best to just stick with push notifications and keep the word count low to ensure that your entire message gets displayed on the screen.

Send personalized content

So now that you know how long to make your push notifications, it’s time to talk about the content and reasoning behind sending them.

If you just want to say hello and remind your customers who you are, push notifications are not the way to do this.

It’s annoying and will end up hurting you instead of helping, but we’ll talk about that in greater depth shortly.

So what type of content should you send? Personalized messages.

As you can see from these numbers, your best bet is to stick to content that’s relevant and personalized to the user.

Here some ideas to help you segment your audience so you can deliver content that’s tailored to each user.

  • gender
  • location
  • age
  • interests
  • browsing history
  • purchase history

You’ve got lots of options to choose from.

For example, let’s say your company will be attending an industry event in South Florida. It wouldn’t make sense to send that notification to everyone in the United States who has your app.

Realistically, people aren’t going to travel for something like that. So it’s a waste for you to send something irrelevant to them.

But you could definitely send that notification to app users who live in Florida, especially if you’re offering them an incentive or exclusive offer for attending the event.

This type of push notification is personal and adds value to the recipient.

Don’t be annoying

As I’ve said a few times already, you need to tread carefully with your push notification strategy.

Sending too many push notifications or irrelevant messages will backfire. That’s because users have the option to opt-in and opt-out of your messages.

That’s right. If you annoy a user, they will simply mute your notifications. People already have predetermined feelings about these messages. In fact, 52% of app users say that push notifications are an annoying distraction.

Once you get muted, it’s going to be nearly impossible for you to get the user to turn notifications back on.

You won’t have a way to contact them unless you send them an email. But sending an email begging a user to turn on push notifications isn’t the best look for your brand.

So you’ll be better off just trying to prevent this from happening in the first place by limiting your number of push notifications per week.

As you can see, even sending more than two push notifications in a week can cause up to 37% of users to disable these messages.

Sending too many push notifications can have an even worse effect than getting muted by the user. More than 30% of users will stop using an app altogether if they receive between six and ten notifications in one week.

So as a rule of thumb, keep your push notifications to one per week at the most. Only send content that adds value to the user, like a discount or an important update.

Promote flash sales

Flash sales are a great opportunity for you to take advantage of push notifications.

These types of promotions create the fear of missing out, better known as FOMO. The user will think that if they don’t buy something fast, they’ll miss out on a great deal.

Consider this. The app user is already interested in your brand. That’s why they downloaded the app in the first place.

They’ve probably purchased something from you in the past. So the flash sale could be enough of a reason for the user to buy something that’s been on their mind.

Flash sales could be just a few hour time window, or potentially up to 24 hours.

Just make sure that you send it out at an appropriate time. Don’t send a notification on Tuesday if the flash sale isn’t until Friday.

Remember, you’re trying to limit the number of weekly push notifications that you send.

Also, don’t send it at 3:00 AM when people are sleeping. This may sound like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often I see mistakes like this.

If the flash sale is from 1:00 – 4 PM, then send it at 1:00. If you send it too early, then when someone opens up the app they won’t be able to take advantage of the offer yet.

You’d have to rely on them coming back later to buy, which they could easily forget.

Send timely updates

Use push notifications to enhance the customer experience. If they’re waiting for an update on something, tell them via push notification. Here’s a great example of this concept applied by Uber.

They send a notification to users when their car is arriving.

Users don’t have to keep the app open and track the location of their drivers. They also won’t have to stand outside to wait in the cold, rain, or heat.

Even though this type of message doesn’t offer a discount, it still provides users with a value that improves their experience.

This tactic isn’t just limited for ride-sharing apps. It’s something that can be used for any type of delivery service.

For example, “Your food is here,” is another message that an app user would want to receive.

They won’t have to stand outside to wait for the delivery driver. This also eliminates the need for drivers to make calls, which is a safer and more efficient process for your company as well.

This type of customer service goes a long way. By improving their lives, the customer will be more likely to use your app and spend more money in the future so they can continue to get this type of great service.

Know the difference between Apple and Android

Not all push notifications are created equally.

If you have a mobile application that’s available on both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, you need to realize how these notifications will look on the user’s screen.

Check this out. Just look at the difference between iOS and Android users in terms of click-through rates.

With that said, iOS users open their push notifications at a rate that’s seven times faster than users with an Android device.

Why would this happen? It has to do with the differences in the software on each device.

When an Apple user unlocks their phone, the push notification disappears from the screen. But Android users have to manually clear their notifications.

If they don’t clear it manually, they would have to open it to be removed from the notification screen. That’s why Android users have higher open rates, but Apple users open notifications faster.

There are also slight variations between how notifications look on the same platform, but from different devices and software versions.

You need to take all of this into consideration when you’re tracking certain metrics.

Just because the click rates from your Apple users might be lower, it doesn’t mean that those people aren’t interested in your brand. So don’t do something drastic like abandoning your marketing tactics that target those users.

Use geofencing technology

Geofencing relates back to personalization.

The app uses location-based services to target users.

Here’s how it works. Let’s say that you have a chain of physical store locations. If a user has your app downloaded to their device, they can get a notification about a sale when they walk within a couple of blocks of a store.

Check out this example from Vitamin World so you can see what I’m talking about.

So when an app user enters any of those geofenced areas, they’ll get a discount sent to their phone.

This ensures that your push notifications are timely and relevant. It works great if you have a mobile app for your restaurant business.

If an app user walks by during lunchtime, send them a notification about a discounted lunch promotion.

Even if you don’t have physical locations, you can still use geofencing technology to enhance your push notifications. For example, let’s say that your mobile commerce brand sells equipment for water sports, like surfboards, paddleboards, and wetsuits.

If someone with your app enters a geofenced area by the beach, you could send them a notification.

But it wouldn’t make sense to send this type of promo to someone who is in the desert or in the mountains. Make sense?

Geofencing encourages your customers to spend more money. Once they get a notification, allow them to spend money right away from within your app.

Whether it’s for a product, service, or subscription, you want to make sure that your push notifications are actionable.

Just remember what we talked about earlier. Although geofencing is a great marketing strategy, you don’t want to go overboard. You can still annoy your users and get muted if you send too many of these.

Conclusion

Push notifications are a great way to improve sales from your mobile app. But there are certain things that you need to keep in mind before you send them out.

Limit the number of words per notification. Don’t send push notifications too often.

The content of these messages needs to be timely, relevant, and personalized. Add value to the recipient by offering promotions or flash sales. Use geofencing technology to target app users in a specific area.

Understand how iOS and Android users behave differently when receiving a push notification.

If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to improve your mobile marketing strategy and increase sales.

What types of push notifications are you sending to your mobile customers?

16 Tips for Naming Your Startup

So you’ve got a great idea for a new business.

You took the time to write a business plan for your startup. After long and grueling months of conducting market research, coming up with prototypes, and analyzing your competition, you’re finally ready to turn this plan into a profitable business.

You even came up with a plan to raise the funds to get your company off the ground.

But before you can proceed any further, you need to name your startup company.

You may have had an idea or two. But how do you know if that name will work?

Naming your startup may seem minor, but it’s actually one of the most important and undervalued aspects of your business. This name will be attached to your brand image for years to come. You need to get it right from the beginning.

Otherwise, you’ll face some challenges if you try to change your name down the road. That’s a headache you won’t want to deal with.

With this in mind, I wanted to show you how you can simplify this process. These are the top 16 tips to keep in mind when you’re naming your startup.

Use this guide as a reference before you finalize your name.

1. Keep it short

The name of your business should roll off the tongue.

People shouldn’t have to take a breath midway through saying your name out loud. Just think about some of the brands that dominate worldwide.

Nike. Apple. Walmart.

I found a really interesting study conducted by a UK insurance broker. They discovered that the average length of a company name in their region had 22 characters.

More than half of these businesses fell within the 17 to 24 character mark.

While these are obviously longer than names such as Apple or Nike, they still fall within the lower end of the spectrum, as you can see from the graph.

Your business shouldn’t sound like a sentence. Sure, in some instances, two words might be appropriate. I’m talking about names such as Waffle House or even Quick Sprout. Ha! But both of these names are still short and roll off the tongue.

Most importantly, keeping your name short will make it easier for consumers to remember it, which will help you tremendously with your marketing campaigns.

2. Make sure it’s easy to spell

Put yourself into the minds of consumers.

Let’s says they hear your brand name somewhere. Whether it’s on TV, the radio, or in a conversation. Next, they search for it online, but can’t find you because they don’t know the spelling – it’s too complicated.

Stick with names that are spelled exactly how they sound.

Even if they see your oddly spelled brand name written somewhere, they may not remember how to spell it when they look for it.

Don’t do anything weird, like using the number 8 to replace the “ate” sound or use the letter “Z” in a place where you should have an “S.”

3. Don’t restrict growth

Right now, your startup may be focusing on something specific, whether it’s a product, location, or target market.

But that doesn’t mean you should name your business something extremely specific.

For example, let’s say you’re creating a fashion brand selling men’s jeans. Naming your company “Jeans for Men” is a bad idea.

What happens when you want to start making shirts, shorts, hats, or women’s clothing? The new directions no longer fits with your name.

Or let’s say you name the startup based on the location of your first physical store. You may be thinking something along the lines of “Tuxedo Shop of Seattle.” But when you want to open a new location in Chicago or San Diego, you’ll be faced with a challenge.

Instead, name it after something like a street if you want to have some connection to your local area. Just make sure it’s easy to spell.

4. Check the domain name

So you think you’re ready to settle on a name.

Next, use an online tool, such as GoDaddy to see if the domain is available:

I see businesses make this mistake often. A company settles on a name, but someone already has the .com domain. So instead of trying to purchase it, they decide to use another extension, such as .net, .biz, or .org, instead.

I don’t recommend that. Consumers have grown accustomed to associating .com domains with credible and established businesses.

But that also doesn’t mean you should make your domain different from the name of your startup just to secure a .com domain.

My suggestion is this. If your domain name is taken and you can’t buy it, try to come up with a different name for your business.

5. Be original

You want your brand to be unique. Your name needs to be memorable and stand out from the crowd.

Do your best to avoid common names. “John’s Plumbing.”

How many plumbers out there do you think have that name? I’m willing to bet there is more than just a handful.

You want your name to stand on its own, without any confusion or association with other companies.

6. Say it out loud

Your name may look good on paper. But what happens when it’s spoken?

Earlier I said names should be easy to spell, but they should also be easy to pronounce.

Make sure that when you say it out loud, it doesn’t get confused with other words. You don’t want it to sound like something that could be inappropriate.

I won’t give you any examples in this instance. I’ll let you use your imagination.

7. Ask for feedback

You don’t have to struggle alone naming your company.

Sure, you can come up with some ideas and ultimately have the final say. But if you’ve got a team or partners, make it a group discussion.

Write down your ideas. Narrow the list down to five or ten names.

Then reach out to your family and friends. See what they think. If one name by far stands out from the crowd based on that feedback, you should consider it more than the others.

8. Research social media profiles

This is similar to your domain name search.

You want your branding to be consistent across all your marketing channels. See if certain social media handles are taken.

Here’s an example from Thule. Let’s look at its Facebook page first:

And now let’s check out its Instagram profile:

As you can see, the company uses @thule everywhere.

It may sound simple, but you want to make sure all of this is squared away before you name your startup.

Having different social media handles on each platform will confuse your customers. It’ll complicate your efforts to build brand awareness for your new company.

If your name is available on all social media platforms except for one, reach out to the user and see whether you can purchase it from them, or consider coming up with a new name.

9. Make it catchy

Your brand name needs to resonate with consumers. It shouldn’t be forgettable.

Even though you’re in the early stages of your business, you should always be looking toward the future and thinking about potential marketing campaigns.

How will this brand name fit with your campaigns? Will it be easy for you to come up with a company slogan that flows well with the name?

You can’t pre-determine whether something will be catchy or not, and there aren’t any tools that can help you with this. But you can still figure it out based on your gut feeling and feedback of others.

10. Search the Secretary of State records

Once you come up with a name, you’ll need to register your new business.

You’ll probably form an LLC or corporation. In the US, check the Secretary of State records to make sure the name isn’t too close to a business that’s been previously registered.

If the name is too similar, the state may disallow you from registering that name.

Find a lawyer to help you register your new business. They can potentially help you with this research as well.

11. Do trademark research

You don’t want someone else to be able to steal your name.

Do a search on USPTO.gov to see whether you can trademark it.

This website will provide you with the resources and information you need to know about existing trademarks and the application process for your own trademark.

12. Make it relevant

Earlier, I talked about picking a name that doesn’t restrict your growth.

But that doesn’t mean you should pick something random or obscure.

Let’s say your startup company focuses on Internet security. Don’t name it “Bunny Ears LLC.”

Is the example a bit extreme? Probably. But you get the point.

13. Keep your logo in mind

Your brand name will be tied to all your marketing efforts. Keep your logo design in mind as well.

Different color schemes can impact sales. That’s because visuals are processed faster than words.  Consumers will remember a name if the logo is memorable.

Think about McDonald’s. The “M” golden arches are iconic.

How will your brand name translate to your logo and will it be recognizable? Ask yourself that when coming up with a name.

14. Take advantage of brainstorming tools

If you’re stuck on a name, you can use technology to help.

Use a tool such as NameMesh to come up with a unique domain name. Or use Namium to choose a name based on specific themes.

But one of my favorite tools is from Shopify:

This business name generator helps you come up with ideas while checking for domain availability at the same time.

15. Don’t drive yourself crazy

Picking a name is important. But don’t let it consume your life.

It shouldn’t turn into a six-month project. If you take time to work things out, you’ll be just fine.

Will the name be perfect? Maybe not. But what is?

Don’t keep second-guessing yourself. Go with it if:

  • all the pieces line up
  • the domain is available
  • nobody has the social media handles
  • the feedback is good
  • you’re able to trademark it.

16. Make sure you’re happy with it

The name of your startup will be something you hear, say, write, and think about all the time.

If you don’t like the name, don’t use it. This startup is your baby. You wouldn’t name your baby something you don’t like, right?

The same concept applies here. Otherwise, you’ll regret it, and that could impact your behavior and the way you run the business moving forward.

Conclusion

What’s in the name? More than you think.

The name of your startup company will be your new identity. Don’t approach this task haphazardly.

Whether you’re struggling to come up with a name or you have a name in mind but unsure how to proceed, use this guide to help you finalize the decision.

It’s better to take the time and be sure of it now as opposed to trying to change your name in the future.

What’s the name of your new startup company?

9 Tips to Create Highly Engaging Content

Anyone can produce content.

But content without a purpose is not effective. You need to consider the goals of your content marketing strategy. Ask yourself what you want your audience to do when they consume your content.

Whatever that answer is, your content needs to be engaging if you want to accomplish those goals. What is engaging content?

Well, it all depends on whom you ask and how it’s measured. For me, engaging content is all about getting results, such as:

  • increase in traffic
  • clicks
  • opt-ins
  • conversions
  • sales
  • comments
  • likes
  • mentions

Any of these metrics can be used to measure engagement.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. If your content doesn’t engage your readers, they simply won’t consume and retain the information. This will end up being a big waste of your time, money, and resources.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying it’s easy to come up with great content.

If you’re currently putting out posts, images, and videos that are average at best, it’ll take some more effort on your part if you want to see some results.

But it’s worth it. If you put in the extra effort to focus on improving your content marketing strategy, it will ultimately help your business make more money.

Not sure where to start? That’s what I’m here for.

I’ve come up with this resource of the top 9 tips for producing content that engages your audience.

1. Be original

Today, it’s tough to produce content that’s 100% unique.

There is probably someone else out there who is talking about the same thing, took a similar photo, or conducted similar research. That’s okay.

The idea is to produce content that stands out. With so much competition, it’s no surprise that producing engaging content is the biggest challenge for marketers:

How can you overcome this? Be original.

Yes, you can still blog about a topic that’s been previously discussed. But don’t write it the same way everyone else has. Add your unique voice and spin to the subject.

Share personal experiences – nobody else had them.

Often, marketers try to come up with the most cost-effective solution to content creation. They pay some writer with no experience to write blog posts at $20 per article.

Well, like anything else, you get what you pay for. You can’t expect this type of content to be original and engaging.

Write your content so that it’s unmistakably your own. Put your personality into everything you produce. In doing so, you’ll end up growing a loyal group of followers and readers.

Again, this takes more time and effort, but it’ll be easier for you to increase your engagement metrics this way.

2. Produce actionable content

I just talked about the goals of your marketing campaigns.

What do you want? If you don’t know the purpose of your content, the consumer won’t have any idea either.

You need to know what you want someone to do after they consume a piece of your content.

For example, let’s say you’re promoting a new product on your website. You decide to blog about it. This is a great idea, but that alone won’t get people to buy the product.

Your post needs to highlight the features and benefits, how it can be used, how you have used it, and how it can improve the lives of the consumers.

This primes the reader to make the purchase. Let’s look at an example of that.

This blog post from BuildFire talks about how to hire a developer to build your mobile app. But as a custom app building platform, the team wants its audience to use its software instead:

This section of the blog post starts by questioning the need to hire a developer at all. It discusses some potential issues with that method and offers an alternative solution.

Then the company pitches its own service. The pitch is followed by a hyperlink that brings the reader to a landing page for sign-ups.

This is arguably the most important part of this post. Why?

You can’t assume your audience will read something, navigate to your ecommerce site, search for a product, then click on it and add it to their carts.

That’s way too many steps. They should be able to complete this action with one click from within the post, just like in the example above.

If your readers can buy something with just a click or two, they will be more likely to complete the action. Do you want readers to sign up for your email list? Give them the option to click to join.

Finding these buttons on your site shouldn’t be a scavenger hunt. The buttons need to be obvious so that your site visitors can complete the desired action.

3. Publish accurate information

If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while, you know how much I love to include statistics and research within my content.

I recommend you do the same.

But you need to be careful of the information you publish. Basically, anyone can put anything on the Internet today. It’s important that you recognize the quality and accuracy of the websites you’re sourcing.

You may come across a relevant statistic, but if it’s on some no-name blog and doesn’t include a data source, you can’t know for sure whether the information is accurate.

That’s why it’s best to source your information from authority sites only. In addition to making sure the source is reputable, make sure it’s recent.

Information changes at a rapid rate.

A statistic or study from ten years ago may not be relevant today. But if your content provides up to date and accurate info, people will be more inclined to engage with it.

Here’s another tip to keep in mind: don’t let your old content go to waste. Just because you published something in 2012 doesn’t mean you can’t refresh it with 2018 information.

Look at how HubSpot uses this strategy to keep its content as up to date as possible:

First, they changed the title. This lets their readers know the post has been updated with new data.

But that’s not all it does. HubSpot even tells you the exact date when the team updated the post.

It’s an effective strategy.

This shows everyone the website strives to publish accurate information, which readers find more engaging.

If you really want to wow your audience, you could conduct research yourself, producing your own study. This will help you stay original, which I discussed above.

Yes, this will be more difficult and time-consuming. But now you know for sure the results are accurate and 100% unique.

Even if someone else conducted a similar study, the results won’t be exactly the same, and yours will be more up to date.

4. Tell a story

While data is important, it’s easier for people to relate to stories than to naked facts.

That’s why we read books, watch movies, binge-watch television shows, and keep up with reality and celebrity news. We want to know what comes next in the story.

You can learn how to increase sales by mastering the art of storytelling.

Telling a story will help you connect with your audience. It can also improve your credibility on a subject.

For example, let’s say you’re writing a fitness blog. If you tell a story that happened during your personal certification training, your audience will realize you’re qualified and knowledgeable on the topic.

They are more likely to read what you have to say as opposed to reading content produced by someone who has never worked out a day in their life.

You want to share stories that stimulate an emotional response from the audience:

The graphic above explains how our brains react when we have an emotional connection to a story.

Speak in a way that’s relatable to your audience. Try to evoke powerful emotions such as joy, fear, or sadness.

Just make sure your story advances your goal and encourages the reader to complete the action you want them to take.

5. Make your audience think

Being original is one thing. But being thought-provoking is another. It’s an art.

The idea behind thought-provoking content is that the reader can relate to what you’re saying. You don’t always need to talk about a concept in black and white terms.

Let the readers’ imaginations run wild in that grey area.

Ask questions with no definitive answers. Paint a picture with some abstract scenarios.

But make it relevant to current events, pop culture, and our daily lives. This will keep your audience hooked and help them engage with your content.

This type of strategy can also help stimulate discussions in the comments section of your content. As a result, people will keep coming back to your website to check in on the discussion.

Ultimately, this is great news for you in terms of your traffic and engagement metrics. Each visit increases the chances of a conversion.

6. Use visuals

I know I mostly talked about written content so far.

But your overall content marketing strategy is much bigger than that. Pictures and videos need to be incorporated into this strategy.

Take original photos. It’s easy to take and edit photos without hiring a professional.

Look at how visual elements are being incorporated into blog posts over the past four years:

That’s because marketers recognize how much of an impact visual elements have on their successes.

You can also enhance your content by building infographics. As I said earlier, if you conduct your own research, you will have original content.

Infographics take this concept to the next level. Since people remember images more than text, they will be more likely to retain information if it’s in the form of a picture or graph.

Produce videos. The possibilities with video content are nearly endless. Here are a few of my favorite suggestions:

  • “how-to” videos
  • product demonstrations
  • entertainment
  • discussions
  • interviews

Add videos to your website, posts, email newsletters, and social media channels.

7. Master your headlines

Before your content can be consumed, it needs to be clicked on.

That’s why you need to focus your efforts on creating clickable headlines. Whether it’s on your website, social media channels, or organic search results pages, your headline will be the first thing people see.

If you’ve got boring headlines, people have no reason to click.

Just don’t give it all away with your headline. For example, if your headline says something like “Men eat more than women,” nobody will have a reason to read the article.

But if it intrigues them with a question which sex eats the most, it will pique the readers’ interest, and you’ll get more clicks.

Here’s a look at some of the top performing headlines by engagement metrics on Facebook:

Use this as a reference when you’re crafting your own headlines.

8. Hook readers with your intro

Okay, so you’ve got some people who clicked on your headline. That’s great news.

However, this doesn’t mean they’ll read through all your content. In fact, research shows that 55% of your audience spends only up to 15 seconds reading your articles.

In short, they’re not actually reading it. They’re just skimming.

That’s why you need to learn how to write blog post introductions that make the rest of your post irresistible.

If you can hook the readers with your opening lines, they will be more likely to remain interested throughout the post.

This works in conjunction with your headline and CTA. All these elements should be working together toward your goal.

9. Mix up your content

Posts shouldn’t be all the same. That’s just boring.

Nobody wants to read a case study every day. Keep your audience on their toes to make sure they get excited with your content.

If one day you tell a story, the next day you talk about research. Your following post could be centered around a video.

Next, you could promote a product. Blog about recent events. Add a humorous or compelling spin to it.

Whatever you do, don’t let your content go stale.

Conclusion

Producing engaging content isn’t easy. That’s why businesses agree that it’s the most challenging aspect of their marketing campaigns.

But with some extra time and effort, you can figure out ways to create engaging content.

It’s all about being original and separating yourself from the crowd. Produce content that’s actionable.

All of your information needs to be accurate and up to date.

Tell stories to capture the attention of your readers. Make them think outside the box. Use visual elements to enhance your content.

Focus on getting clicks with your headlines and then keep your readers interested with the opening lines and introduction.

Don’t use only one of these strategies. Mix up your content to keep things interesting.

If you follow the 9 tips I’ve listed above, you’ll find it much easier to create highly engaging content.

What type of content are you producing to increase your engagement metrics?

How to Get Your First Sale for Your New Ecommerce Website

Your new ecommerce site has finally launched. Congratulations!

Now you have the ability to sell to a huge potential audience. Whether you have a completely new business or an existing brand that just launched an ecommerce site, getting your first few sales can be intimidating.

Existing businesses that expanded to the Internet, using it as an additional sales platform, will have an easier time with this.

That’s because they already have current customers familiar with the brand. For the most part, they’ll just need to let those customers know they’re selling online, and sales should follow.

With that in mind, this guide is designed mostly for those startups that just launched an ecommerce site.

Or maybe you’ve had a website for a while, but you’re just now adding an ecommerce feature to it.

Regardless of your situation, this guide will help anyone looking to increase conversions in their ecommerce stores, ultimately generating more sales.

Once you get that first sale out of the way, others will continue. Here are some tips to get you started in the right direction.

Start a blog

There is a big difference between website traffic and sales.

You may have noticed in the early days of your site launch that you’ve gotten some traffic. That’s great. But nobody is buying anything.

Don’t worry. It’s a game of numbers. No website has a 100% conversion rate.

But the more traffic you can drive to your site, the greater your chances of getting sales will be. It’s all about understanding the customer conversion funnel.

The top of the funnel is the awareness stage. Blog posts help create brand awareness and generate more site traffic.

That’s why blogging is absolutely necessary for all ecommerce sites.

Think of it like this. What are you selling? Is it so important that people are going to shop every day for it? Probably not.

But your blog gives people a reason to visit your site on a regular basis, even if they didn’t plan on buying anything.

Blogging also improves your organic search ranking. When consumers look for products on a search engine, your site will have a greater chance of being a top hit.

Your blog can also serve as a channel for product promotion. Pitch whatever you’re selling within the content of your posts, and add hyperlinks to a landing page where the products can be purchased.

Build a list of email subscribers

Email marketing needs to be a major part of your content strategy.

If you just launched your ecommerce site, chances are you probably don’t have an active list of email subscribers yet. Before you start focusing on getting your first sale, you should learn how to build your first email list from scratch.

Again, starting from scratch can be intimidating. The number zero is tough to look at. But don’t worry, the only way to go from here is up.

I know what some of you might be thinking. Why focus on building an email list instead of working on sales?

It’s simple. Your email list will make it easier for you to generate sales.

Email marketing is the top digital tactic that drives both customer acquisition and retention, according to a recent survey of online retailers.

This means your email list will not only help you drive your first sales but also increase the chances that those customers will continue to buy in the future.

That’s because once people sign up to receive emails, they are already interested in your brand.

Even if they haven’t bought anything yet, you can start to prime them to make a purchase. Create an actionable drip campaign, beginning with a welcome message. Follow that up with promotional emails.

You’ve got direct access to your subscribers’ inboxes, so take advantage of it. Just don’t push your luck by sending too many messages or spam.

Consumers may not visit your website every day, but they will definitely check your emails. Offer them a discount, which I’ll discuss in greater detail shortly.

Send products to social influencers

Influencer marketing has become one of the top trends of the year.

People may not know who you are or that your brand even exists. But they follow influencers on social media.

The reason why working with influencers is so beneficial is because the pay rates are low and the engagement rates are high.

For just a few hundred bucks you could get your product exposed to thousands of prospective buyers. It’s important for you as a new brand to keep your costs low in the early stages.

Without any sales, you won’t be able to survive since you don’t have a steady cash flow.

Look at the way Thompson Tee used this strategy to promote its brand on Instagram by partnering with James Tollefson:

James has nearly 20,000 Instagram followers. So this post is great exposure for the brand.

As you can see, the post includes a purchase link and a discount code. This makes it easier and more enticing for a prospective customer to make a purchase.

It’s a cost-effective strategy. Make sure you’re smart with your marketing budget.

Have influencers wear your product, use it, or demonstrate how it works, just like in the example above.

But do your research before sending your product to just anyone. You want to make sure the influencers you’re partnering with fit your target audience and brand strategy.

Offer discounts

As a new brand, you don’t have a reputation yet.

Why should someone be the first person to buy something from your website?

They don’t see any product reviews or anything else from previous customers since there aren’t any. So it’s hard to justify paying full price for something from a brand with no reputation and no sales.

As long as it doesn’t interfere with your brand image, I recommend slashing your prices in the initial stages.

I get it. Some of you may have a luxury brand that doesn’t plan on putting items on sale.

But to get people familiar with your products and generate sales, it’s a viable strategy early on.

Here’s something else to consider. Offering a discount code increases the chances that you’ll make a sale:

That’s because people love getting deals. Mark up your initial prices higher than you initially planned to turn a profit with the discount.

Want to get $40 for an item on your site? It’s simple. Then list it for $60 and make the sale price $40.

It’s an age-old marketing trick.

Market to prospective B2B clients

All too often I see businesses focus strictly on direct to consumer sales.

While there is nothing wrong with this strategy and its higher profit margins, it doesn’t mean you should completely dismiss the idea of targeting other businesses.

Consider selling your products at a wholesale rate to retailers.

For example, let’s say you’ve got a brand new ecommerce company that sells clothing. You don’t have any physical store locations.

To get your products into the public eye, you can reach out to local, national, and international retailers. Try to get your products in their stores.

Sure, you won’t get as much of a profit per item. But bulk orders will be much larger than those from consumers who just want to buy one shirt a time.

Once your product starts selling in one store, other retailers will want it as well. Now that consumers are familiar with your product, they’ll look to buy it on your ecommerce site.

Create social media profiles

This is something that should have been done before your site launched.

But for those of you who haven’t created social media profiles yet, it’s not too late to start. Set up accounts on the most popular platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • Twitter

You need to have active profiles on all these channels. That said, find out which platform your target market uses the most, and prioritize those efforts first.

Once the profiles are up and running, you can leverage social commerce to drive your first sale.

Try to increase your followers and create brand awareness.

Drive traffic to your site through these distribution channels. Once you have an active social media presence, it opens the doors for additional marketing opportunities.

Create a simple website design

Simple websites have higher conversion rates.

Take a look at your ecommerce site. Is it simple?

Yes, you might be selling hundreds or potentially thousands of products. But you can’t try to fit every single item on your homepage.

Reduce clutter. Get rid of ads.

Include a search bar and menu options for easy navigation. It’s okay to have blank space on your site. This will help focus the visitors’ attention on your CTA buttons.

You definitely want product images. But don’t include large pictures on each page – it’ll slow down page loading times.

A simple design translates to a faster loading page. You’ll get fewer page abandonments and increase the chances of getting a sale.

Giveaways

Let me clarify what I mean by this. I’m not saying you should just give your product away with no questions asked.

But now that you have your social media channels set up, you can use them to facilitate contests and similar promotions.

The winners of these contests can get your products free. Here’s an example of this strategy used by Knockaround on its Instagram profile:

In the early stages of your business, you need to be more willing to give things away. It doesn’t have to be your most expensive products, but as long as you’re doing something, it will generate some buzz.

You could consider running weekly giveaways or even daily giveaways to put your name out there. This will accomplish a few things.

First, it puts your products into the hands of the consumer. They’ll be familiar with it and potentially buy something else as a result of their free gift. These people will also share it with their friends and family, who could also become paying customers.

Even those who didn’t win the giveaway now have some interest in your brand. These consumers are also more likely to buy now because your product is on their minds.

Attend a trade show

Many people who have an ecommerce site act as if their business runs strictly online.

Just because you don’t have a physical store doesn’t mean you can’t get out there and sell. Trade shows are a great place for ecommerce brands.

Look for local, regional, and national events to attend. They’re everywhere.

Having a presence at one of these events gives your brand exposure to attendees as well as other vendors.

You could potentially meet a vendor interested in buying products at a wholesale rate, which I previously discussed.

Trade shows aren’t necessarily the place to sell products. But you’ll give away things there to gain exposure.

You could offer some free samples of your products. Or maybe just give away some t-shirts, key chains, stickers, phone cases, and other smaller promotional items with your logo and website to encourage sales.

Give exclusive coupons and promo codes to people who visit your booth at a trade show. It could even be something as drastic as 50% off one item.

Remember, you need to do everything possible to close that first sale.

Reduce friction in your checkout process

So, you’ve been able to draw traffic to your website with the help of other promotions.

But you’re still having trouble getting those visitors to buy something. What’s wrong? Perhaps your checkout process is not optimized.

Get rid of unnecessary steps. Once a visitor decides they want a product, you need them to be able to complete the purchase with just a few clicks.

Take a look at the top reasons for shopping cart abandonment:

Besides cost, which ranked first on the list, the next two top reasons both involve a complicated checkout process.

If you’re forcing visitors to create an account or answer tons of questions, you are crushing your conversions.

Ask only for the essentials. Get their billing information and shipping info. That’s it.

No need to ask them for their mother’s maiden name. The whole process should be a few clicks and done.

Each additional step gives the customer a chance to change their mind and abandon the sale.

Conclusion

Your new ecommerce site doesn’t have any sales yet.

That’s okay. Everyone started from zero at the beginning. The idea is to get your first few sales rolling to pick up some momentum.

Start blogging to create brand awareness, promote your products, and increase traffic to your website.

Focus on building a list of email subscribers. Work with influencers to promote your brand on social media.

Discount your prices. Simplify your website design. Attend trade shows.

Think outside the box. You can look for alternative ways to generate sales. Consider B2B brands that you could sell products to in bulk.

Increase your social media presence. Run contests and giveaways through those marketing channels.

Simplify your checkout process.

If you follow the tips and advice I’ve outlined above, it will sustain your ecommerce site far beyond your first sale.

What type of marketing strategy is your new ecommerce site using to drive your first sales?

How to Drive Sales with Your Instagram Marketing Strategy

It’s crucial for businesses to have an active social media presence to survive in 2018.

No social media marketing strategy is complete without Instagram. It’s become a top platform for brands, advertisers, and consumers alike.

This platform has 800 million monthly active users. And 500 million Instagram profiles are active on a daily basis.

Here’s something else that may surprise you: 70% of Instagram hashtags are branded.

What does that tell you? If you’re not active on Instagram, your competitors definitely are.

Those of you who already have an account set up are on the right track. But just having an Instagram profile doesn’t necessarily translate to sales.

If you want to drive sales and make real money from Instagram, you need to come up with a viable strategy. This guide will steer you in the right direction.

Increase your following

One of the first steps to having a successful Instagram marketing strategy is growing your follower base.

Without lots of followers, you will struggle to get your posts seen. It’s not going to be easy for you to generate sales without followers.

For those of you who just created your Instagram page, it can be intimidating to start with the number zero. But unless you’re a brand new company, you already have customers.

That’s the best place to start looking for followers. Here are the top reasons why users follow brands on social media:

As you can see from these numbers, more than 73% of users say they follow brands on social media because they are interested in the product or service the brands are offering.

Your existing customers are interested in your brand. Tell them about your profile, and ask them to follow you.

Start by sending out messages to your email subscribers. Just make sure you give them an incentive to follow you.

For example, you may send out emails only a few times per month. Tell your subscribers that if they want to see more frequent discounts and promotions, they will find them on Instagram.

If you use this strategy, be sure to follow through with that promise.

In addition to reaching out to your email subscribers, you can have an Instagram badge on your website. Use your other social media channels to promote your Instagram profile as well.

After you take these steps, another great way to get more followers is by following other people. That said, don’t follow random users.

Find followers that fit within your target audience. That’ll be your best bet when it comes to generating new leads and driving sales.

How do you find people that fit within your target market? It’s a bit tricky, and you’ll need to put in some effort. First, you need to find accounts similar to yours.

I’m not saying you need to steal followers from your competitors, although that can work too.

Instead, you can search for Instagram profiles that post content related to your industry. For example, let’s say your company sells hiking and camping equipment.

Check out this profile. The name of the account is Adventure Enthusiasts:

They have more than 132,000 followers. All of their content is related to outdoor locations across the world.

You could assume that people who follow this account would be interested in camping and hiking.

It’s time-consuming, but this will work. Once you find an account like this, go through its followers, and start following people.

The users will get a notification and check out your page. If they like what they see on your profile, which we’ll discuss shortly, they’ll be likely to follow you back.

Once you add tons of new followers, it’s going to be much easier for you to drive sales with your Instagram strategy.

Focus on the first impression of your page

First impressions matter. This statement holds true in the real world as well as the virtual world.

As a marketer, you need to recognize that. It’s the same reason why writing an irresistible blog post introduction is vital to your content strategy.

When an Instagram user clicks on your profile, what’s the first thing they see?

They see your profile picture, biography, and your most recent posts. Going back to our last point about following users to grow your own follower base, when a user clicks your profile, they shouldn’t have any questions.

What I mean by that is this. Your profile should say who you are and what you do.

Having your logo as your profile picture makes the most sense. It’s much more recognizable than a random picture of a person or one of your products.

Here’s an example from the Dollar Shave Club Instagram page:

What is your first impression of this profile?

To me, it’s clear from the beginning who they are. The profile picture is their logo, and their bio explains what they do in greater detail.

They even include a link to a landing page on their website to encourage users to sign up for the service.

Basically, if your brand’s Instagram page doesn’t grab the attention of users, you won’t have much luck getting followers.

For the most part, it’s best to keep everything short, to the point, and professional. Now, you’ll have a greater opportunity to promote your products and ultimately increase your sales.

Post content on a regular basis

If you’re adding a picture or video to your profile only once a month, it’s not an effective strategy. I wouldn’t even call that an active profile.

You want your brand to always be fresh in the minds of your followers.

At the same time, you don’t want to flood user timelines and be perceived as annoying. You need to find a middle ground here.

I wouldn’t recommend posting much more than once per day. If you have lots of content you want to share each day, it’s better to add it to your Instagram story.

If you don’t know how it works, check out my ultimate guide to using Instagram story to promote your business.

How often should you post on Instagram? Research shows that the top brands on Instagram post 1.5 times each day on average. That comes out to about 10 or 11 posts per week.

The timing of these posts is crucial as well. Top brands typically post content during office hours of a standard workweek.

Why?

Well, roughly 90% of employees admit to using social media as a distraction while they’re at work.

You need to recognize this and plan the timing of your posts accordingly. Posting on a regular basis increases your exposure and the likelihood that as many people as possible will see your content.

Don’t be too “salsey “

So, we’ve just established you need to post daily. But we haven’t talked about the content of those posts.

Obviously, you want to drive sales. However, that doesn’t mean that everything you post should be a product promotion.

That’ll annoy your followers and end up having the opposite effect of what you’re looking for. Mix up your content.

Be funny. Post pictures of your employees. Just don’t stray too far from your brand image.

While it’s okay to post content that’s not promoting a product, you want to stay away from controversial topics. I’m referring to subjects such as religion, politics, and race. Offending your followers is not going to help you drive sales.

Again, just avoid too many promotional posts. Posting too many promotions is the number one annoying action businesses take on social media, according to users:

Furthermore, 46% of users say they’ll unfollow a brand on social media if it posts promotions too frequently.

Whenever you do post a promotion, do it casually. You don’t need to put words in all capitalized letters and include tons of stars and quotation marks around everything.

That’s annoying. Keep it short and to the point.

Go live

Instagram has a live broadcast feature. If you read my top marketing trends of 2018, you’d know I put live video streaming first on this list.

Users love it, and brands are using this information to their advantage.

Live video gives you the opportunity to connect with your audience in real time. While you broadcast, they can comment.

Make sure you respond to these comments, and try your best to acknowledge those users. This will help you increase engagement metrics.

There are endless possibilities with your live streams.

You could demonstrate new products, give a tour of your facility, or even introduce some of your employees. I like the idea of hosting a Q&A segment to give you a more authentic connection with your audience.

Another way to utilize Instagram live story is by working with other brands. Instagram is the top social platform in terms of brand collaborations across the globe:

You could try to get featured on the live broadcast of another profile in an effort to promote your brand.

As a result, this type of strategy can help you expose your brand to a new audience, increase your followers, and ultimately drive more sales.

Add pictures and videos to your story

As I briefly mentioned earlier, your story is a great place to add daily content.

You can post content to your story multiple times per day because it won’t flood the timelines of users who follow you.

But that doesn’t mean you should go overboard and post 20 different pictures and videos to your story every day.

People won’t look at each one, so it’s a waste of your time and resources. The engagement and views will drop with each additional post to your story.

You also need to make sure the timing of the post on your story is relevant because it will disappear 24 hours after it gets uploaded.

I’d recommend using your story to offer discounts, run contests, or tell people what you’re up to that day in the office.

The whole idea here is having your brand on their minds. If they’re thinking about your brand, they are more likely to make a purchase.

Similarly to your live video strategy, you can even use your Instagram story to partner with another brand for a takeover. You can take over their account, and they can post content to yours as well.

Again, this will make it easier for you to expose your brand to a wider audience.

Partner with social influencers

You don’t need to be the only one promoting your brand on Instagram.

You should work with social influencers to share your content and encourage sales as well. That’s because social influencers have high engagement rates and great relationships with their followers.

If you work with micro influencers, their followers will likely view those people as their peers. Based on this research, 90% of consumers say they trust recommendations made by their peers:

Plus, working with micro-influencers is much more cost-effective than paying someone with a celebrity status to promote your brand.

Not sure where you can find social influencers?

Check out these top platforms for managing social influencers to get started.

Add hashtags to your captions

Captions are just as important, if not more important, than the images and videos you post.

You’ve got to learn how to write Instagram captions that drive engagement.

Hashtags are definitely necessary. There are lots of different approaches to this.

For starters, you can use one that already exists so that other people can see it. For example, you could pick a hashtag that’s promoting a national event.

Another idea is to create your own hashtag. This would be much more brand-specific.

You could use a hashtag with just your brand name as well as the name of your campaign.

If you’re like to run contests on Instagram, you can have a unique hashtag for each one.

Encourage UGC

UGC is short for user-generated content. This piggybacks on my last point about using hashtags to promote contests.

Promotions of this nature encourage users to post photos and videos related to your brand to their personal profiles.

As a result, your brand gets exposed to all of the followers who are friends with that particular user. This type of content acts as a recommendation, which we just discussed as an effective promotional method.

Besides running contests, the best way to encourage user-generated content is to feature user photos on your profile.

Check out this post from the Thule Instagram page:

As you can see, this post came from one of their followers.

When other people see this, they’ll be encouraged to share it as well as submit their own photos for the chance to be featured on the page.

Try some sponsored posts

The great thing about promoting your brand on Instagram is that it’s completely free.

It’s not going to cost you anything to create a profile and post content. Lots of the strategies we’ve discussed so far in this guide won’t cost you anything either.

But if that’s just not cutting it for you and you want to be more direct with your strategy, you may want to consider paying for ads.

This is a good idea for newer brands struggling to get new followers.

You’ve got lots of options here:

  • photos
  • videos
  • carousel
  • stories

If you want to find more information about setting these up, check out this resource from the Instagram Business website.

The great thing about these ads is you can include links that drive sales. Here’s an example of a photo ad with a “shop now” CTA:

It’s also easy to set up these ads while making sure you reach your target audience and stay within your marketing budget.

Conclusion

Your brand needs to have an active Instagram presence.

Always try to increase your followers. Make sure your profile is set up in a way that gives a great first impression.

Post content on a daily basis, but don’t post too much promotional content. Use live video streaming and your Instagram story to your advantage as well.

Partner with social influencers to expose your brand to a new audience.

Use captions with hashtags as a promotional tool. Encourage user-generated content.

If you want to take your Instagram marketing strategy to the next level and you’ve got some extra funds, you may want to consider paying for sponsored posts.

All of these strategies will help you elevate your Instagram presence and increase sales as a result.

What type of content is your brand posting on Instagram to generate sales from your followers?

How to Improve Your Customer Service with These 8 Ways to Get Feedback

It doesn’t matter what type of business you have or how long you’ve run it. Your customers are the lifelines of your brand.

Whether you sell products, offer services, or a combination of the two, customer service needs to be one of your top priorities.

You could have the best product in the world, but if you don’t treat your customers well, it’s going to hurt your bottom line. On the flip side, you could have a product that’s average, or even subpar, and be extremely profitable if you provide excellent customer service.

How is that possible? Well, the numbers don’t lie.

According to research, 80% of consumers say they’re willing to pay more money to businesses offering better customer service.

But that’s not all. Failing to provide good customer service can result in the loss of your customers.

What exactly causes a business to lose customers? Research shows that only 14% of customers stop supporting a business because they are not satisfied with their products or services. And 9% leave because of the price.

But look at the top reason why customers leave a business. Nearly seven out of 10 customers will leave because they don’t feel valued.

In short, customer service is more important than what you’re selling.

Now that we’ve established why improving your customer service is important, it’s time to take steps in that direction. But how can you improve your customer service if you don’t know what your customers want?

It’s simple. Just ask them.

Getting feedback from your customers is a crucial component of your customer support strategy.

It shows them you care about their opinions. Furthermore, the results can help you better your business and ultimately make more money.

If you want to provide excellent customer service, I’ve narrowed down the top 8 ways to get feedback from your customers.

1. Create surveys

Leveraging customer surveys is the most logical place to start your quest for feedback.

Depending on what you’re using the survey for, the questions and potential responses can vary.

It’s important to have a clear goal when you’re creating these. For example, if you’re trying to improve your customer service, you don’t necessarily need to ask the customer about a specific product.

That said, surveying customers about a previous purchase shows them you value their opinions, which they perceive as good customer service.

The idea is to get your information and get out as soon as possible. Customers don’t want to fill out a 20-minute survey.

People are busy. In all honesty, they’ve got better things to do. I recommend using an online resource such as SurveyMonkey to create your surveys.

You can create an account for free and have access to templates and pre-written questions about specific topics. Obviously, you can customize those to fit your business and goals.

Once your survey is complete, it’s easy to distribute it electronically to your customers through all your marketing channels.

Since time is of the essence here, keep your surveys short and limit them to a handful of questions. Don’t ask obvious or misleading questions.

Don’t ask questions and provide answers you want to hear. You may be doing things wrong. Allow your customers to share that information with you.

Sometimes you need to give your customers some extra incentive to fill out a survey to get as many responses as possible. A discount off their next purchase should be sufficient.

2. Interviews

Interviews might not work for your business.

It’s much easier for brands with brick and mortar locations to conduct interviews than for online businesses.

Sure, ecommerce companies can still interview customers. But they’d have to set up a Skype session or phone call to do so. This isn’t impossible, but it’s more of a hassle.

But those of you with physical store locations can interview customers when they shop in person.

The best time to do this is after the customer has checked out and is getting ready to leave. You don’t want to bother customers while they are shopping because it could potentially prevent them from making a purchase.

Since it’s not the most common practice, this strategy could really help you gain an edge over your competitors.

Nearly 90% of marketing experts believe that improving the customer experience is the top factor for differentiating their brand from the competition.

Before the customer leaves your store, politely ask them if they have five minutes to answer some questions. If you tell them the interview is going to be five minutes, you’d better stick to five minutes.

Conduct the interview away from the register so it doesn’t hold up your line.

It doesn’t need to be in an office, but go somewhere with some privacy so other employees and customers can’t hear the responses.

Introduce yourself and explain why you’re conducting the interview. Establish a rapport with the interviewee so they feel comfortable answering your questions honestly.

Make it clear that you won’t be offended by their responses. Some customers may be hesitant to provide negative feedback if they are saying it directly to your face.

You’ll need to let your guard down and ask questions in a way that gives them the opportunity to say how they truly feel.

The great thing about an interview, as opposed to a survey, is that the answers are more authentic. Customers have a chance to tell you what’s on their minds, without having to select from a pre-determined list of survey responses.

Record your interviews, with the customer’s permission, of course. That way you won’t have to scramble to write notes while they are speaking.

Again, you can offer an incentive to customers who take the time to answer your questions. Thank them for their time, and give them a coupon.

3. Add a comment box to your website

This one is pretty simple.

Include a customer feedback form on your website. That way, people who are visiting can see this as an opportunity to share their opinions.

Here’s an example of a basic version of a comment box on the BuildFire website:

You have different options with these comment boxes. As you can see in the example above, this form requires you to include your name and email address with the message.

But you could provide the visitor with an anonymous option.

If customers do provide you with their contact information, it’s always in your best interest to reach out to them when you receive the message. This is especially true if they are voicing a complaint.

Apologize for any inconvenience you may have caused them. Offer a solution.

Let them know that you value them as a customer and that you’ll make improvements to ensure this won’t happen again. Thank them for reaching out to you.

Here’s something else to keep in mind. Don’t be discouraged by negative comments.

You should be thankful the customer told you about their poor experience instead of leaving without saying a word.

In fact, only 1 out of 26 customers will complain if they are unhappy. The other 25 will just give up on your brand and stop buying.

When a customer gives you negative feedback, you still have the opportunity to make things right. Not all is lost.

You can turn a negative experience into something positive by mending that relationship.

4. Third-party reviews

Your business is on websites such as Yelp, Google Local, and TripAdvisor.

Just because you don’t control those websites doesn’t mean you should ignore them. Make a habit of checking those listings weekly, at a minimum.

If you are getting tons of reviews, consider checking more frequently.

For starters, you want to make sure the information listed on these sites is accurate. I’m referring to your hours, phone number, menu, pricing, etc.

But you also need to consider the customers who willingly took the time to write about your business.

Good comments. Bad comments. You want to pay attention to all of them.

All too often when we talk about customer service, it seems like businesses automatically jump to the negatives. While it’s important to be proactive about those poor experiences, it’s also necessary to keep track of the positive ones.

This will reinforce what you’re doing right. You’ll know what you should continue doing instead of changing something that customers are happy with.

5. Live video broadcast

Jump on the live video bandwagon.

Facebook. Instagram. YouTube. All of these marketing channels have live streaming features you should be taking advantage of.

While this tactic isn’t quite as intimate as a focus group, which we’ll discuss shortly, it gives you the opportunity to reach a high volume of customers at the same time.

Here are some of the top benefits of live video streaming, according to brands, retail companies, agencies, and other marketing executives:

As you can see from their responses, a more authentic interaction with the audience ranked first on the list.

This authentic interaction is great for getting customer feedback. That’s because customers can comment in real time while you’re broadcasting live.

Everyone else watching can see those comments as well. Respond to comments.

Depending on how many people are watching your stream, it can be overwhelming to keep up with comments. That’s okay. Take your time to go through them.

The great thing about these live streams is you can save them and refer to them at a later time. Read through the comments, and take notes. Group similar statements so you can prioritize what needs to be addressed first.

Live video is great for customers as well. They can watch it on their smartphones from the couch as opposed to being bothered when they are in your store.

6. Focus groups

Focus groups aren’t nearly as popular as some of the other feedback methods. This is mainly because the logistics are more complex.

But that doesn’t mean you should ignore this option. Even if it’s not your top choice, conducting a focus group should still be in your arsenal of potential ways to get feedback from your customers.

An ideal focus group is conducted in person, with all the participants in the same room. Groups of six to eight customers should commit between 30 and 60 minutes of their time to participate.

Being in a room together will allow them to feed off each other.

One person could say something that another customer may not have thought of. As a result, it could trigger a response based on that customer’s experience.

Focus groups are great for testing new products and ideas. Allowing your customers to be part of the innovation process will make them feel valued, the importance of which I have already talked about.

Customers who participate in focus groups should be compensated much more than those who fill out a survey online.

Your customers who complete a survey may get 20% off their next purchase. But it’s not unreasonable to provide a $50 or even $100 gift card to customers participating in focus groups. You should also provide them with some food when they arrive.

7. Follow-up emails

After a customer makes a purchase, you should send them a follow-up message, asking for their feedback.

I’m sure you’ve seen these before. Here’s an example of a short survey from Venmo embedded directly into an email:

As you can see, this survey is directly related to customer service.

In addition to embedding the survey into the email, you could also provide a link for the customer to provide feedback through a platform like SurveyMonkey, which I talked about earlier.

You may even decide to send a link to the comment box on your website I previously mentioned.

Just realize that any additional steps a customer has to take to give you feedback will decrease the chances of it being completed.

Don’t be annoying. All too often I get three or four emails from a company asking me to provide feedback for my most recent purchase, flight, etc.

You don’t want to be that person.

If they don’t respond after the first message, you could send one more reminder. But that’s it. If they still haven’t given feedback, you could always try again in the future after their next purchase.

8. Social media comments

You need to stay active on social media.

But in addition to posting content on a regular basis, you also have to track what your customers say about you.

Don’t ignore your notifications. Read through your comments and direct messages.

Do this on all platforms. Facebook. YouTube. Instagram.

Use the Twitter advanced search query to find out what customers are saying about you, even if they don’t tag you directly.

Check out these comments from a post on the Lululemon Facebook page:

The first comment is positive, and the second comment shares some criticism.

But do you notice something they both have in common? Lululemon responded to both of them.

As I said before, you need to treat both positive and negative feedback the same. In both instances, you want your customers to know you value them.

More than half of consumers say they expect brands to respond to their feedback. If their comments are negative, that number jumps from 52% all the way up to 72%.

Conclusion

If you can’t keep your customers happy, your business is going to struggle. It’s a fact.

Customers care more about customer service than they do about the quality and price of what they’re buying.

That’s why it’s so important for you to find ways to get their feedback. But there is no one-size-fits-all way to do this.

Not all customers will respond to all tactics.

In order to get responses from as many customers as possible, you’ll need to try different approaches. This will also help you get accurate results.

Refer to this list of my favorite 8 ways to get customer feedback. Ultimately, this will help you provide enhanced customer service.

What method is your company using to get feedback from your customers?

How to Generate Sales for a New Product Release

So you’re ready to launch a new product.

Congratulations.

Regardless of your business type or industry, it’s important for brands, both new and old, to be innovative to stay relevant. I know how much hard work you’ve put into this new release, so I want to commend you on that.

Whether you’re releasing a new product or an extension of an existing product line, you’ve got to make sure your marketing efforts lead to sales.

Think about all the blood, sweat, and tears you put into this creation. Okay, maybe not blood, but you get what I mean.

This goes all the way back to your early brainstorming sessions as well as your research and development phases. You may have even had some failed attempts.

Oh yeah, and what about all the money you invested in this new product? Can’t forget about that.

If you can’t get consumers to buy your product, you won’t get an adequate return on that investment.

But those of you who are able to effectively promote your new product will enjoy the high sales. I’ll give you some tips and advice that will help you out.

Build hype early

If you wait until your product launches to start marketing it, you’ve waited too long. Those of you who failed to start early are already behind.

But don’t worry. I’m not here to reprimand you. There are still ways in which you can generate sales after the item is released, but we’ll talk about those later.

A great way to build hype in the early stages is by turning the announcement into a big deal. Apple is famous for this with its keynote presentations.

Since the company has been using this strategy for years, consumers now anticipate the announcement itself. By the time Apple announces a new product, people have already decided to buy it.

Announcing new products at a particular event will get your audience ready. They’ll want the latest and greatest product or technology.

The anticipation of the release makes the product that much more desirable. Now you’ve got them hooked before it’s even released.

Consumers will be lined up around the block to buy your new product because they’ve been thinking about it for months. They already know the features and benefits of it because they’ve done the research.

Building hype before the release will help you generate sales on the release date as well as the subsequent days and weeks.

Start taking pre-orders

Again, this strategy relates to the idea of starting early.

You don’t need to wait for your product to be in stock to start generating sales. Let your customers pre-order the product so you can secure profits right away.

Offering pre-orders has tons of benefits. One is collecting money early. But pre-ordering an item also gives your customers a sense of exclusivity.

It will give customers the illusion that they have something before anyone else does. They’ll be one of the first people to have the product in their hands.

Furthermore, if you take pre-orders, people may think there is a chance the product may sell out. If they don’t order it now, they may not have the chance to buy it on the official release date.

Pre-orders ensure your new product gets off to a strong start, which is better than it would do through the average product life cycle.

There’s no reason to have a slow introduction phase if you can avoid it.

In addition to wanting to be exclusive or have the product before anyone else, think of other reasons why a consumer may be interested in a pre-order.

Discounts.

Everyone loves getting a deal. Depending on your brand image and pricing strategy, you could potentially offer a discount to customers who pre-order the product to help drive sales.

Taking orders before release can also help you gauge your inventory. You’ll have a better idea of how much of the product you’ll need to have on hand for the initial release.

This is important information in terms of your production costs, and it will help you maximize your ROI.

Target your most loyal customers

Just because you’re releasing a new product doesn’t mean you need to find new customers.

Don’t get me wrong. New customers are great, and they are always welcome to buy. But you already have an existing clientele of people familiar with your brand and existing products. Those are the customers whom you should contact first.

Your email marketing list is a great place to start.

These are the customers who are so interested in your brand and products that they signed up to hear from you on a regular basis. So send emails before and after the product launches.

Here’s an example of an email sent out by Lululemon:

This email is promoting new colors of an existing product. So it makes sense the company is starting with its existing customers, who may already be familiar with this product.

Even if it was a new product, telling your email subscribers about it first is still a viable strategy.

It’s also worth noting that you have a 60-70% chance of selling to a current customer. But you only have a 5-20% chance of a new customer purchasing a product.

If sales are your goal, focusing on new customers won’t be as effective.

Research shows that it’s six or seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to market to an existing one.

When it comes to your ROI, marketing to your most loyal customers is the best bang for your buck.

Run a contest

Another way to generate sales for your new product is by giving it away.

I know what you’re thinking. This sounds counterproductive. How can you make money by giving something away?

You need to learn how to run a profitable giveaway. Contests will get people interested in what you’re selling. Rather than promoting it by saying “here is our new product,” put a unique spin on it by running a contest.

The cost to run a contest is relatively inexpensive as well. The only major expense is the cost of the item you’re giving away, plus maybe some additional shipping charges.

But the benefits will be worth it. In my opinion, social media platforms are the best places to set up your contests. Here’s why:

Running your contests on social media will expose your new product to a larger audience. As a result, it will help you generate more sales.

Here’s a hypothetical example to show you what I’m talking about. Let’s say you run a contest on Instagram. To enter, people need to post a picture to their personal Instagram profiles and include a relevant hashtag.

Let’s say 1,000 people enter your contest. That’s 1,000 photos of your brand just from one contest. Tons of people will see these pictures.

Of those 1,000 entries, you’re selecting only three winners. But there are still 997 people who want your product, plus who knows how many people who were exposed to it.

They’ve already built up excitement about using it. There is a good chance a large chunk of that group will still buy it.

As you can see, something as simple as giving away three items can generate hundreds or potentially thousands of sales.

Offer a discount

Typically, most brands don’t offer discounts for new items. When a new product gets released, they discount older items.

While I can understand the thinking behind this concept, it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s correct. People love to get a deal. Put your pride aside for a moment, and recognize that consumers are price sensitive. They’re also more intelligent than you think.

If they realize your new product will eventually go on sale, they have no reason to buy it right now. But by the time it goes on sale, they may have forgotten about it and lost interest.

While the product is fresh in the minds of the consumers, close the deal.

Mark down the price right away. If you want, use an age-old marketing trick. Jack up the initial retail price, then discount it making sure you can still profit.

Psychologically, it’s going to be tough for people to justify paying a full price for a product when they see cheaper items surrounding it on your site and in stores.

Blog about it

Use your blog to your advantage.

Start talking about the product in your posts before it gets released. Continue talking about it after the release as well.

Blogging has many benefits:

As you can see from these numbers, your blog can help you generate new leads. Consumers trust advice from blogs.

Sure, it’s obvious your readers will know your opinion is biased. They realize you won’t say anything bad about the products you want to sell.

But that shouldn’t stop you from writing about your new release. You can also reach out to other websites and try to get featured in guest posts.

Set up a link directly in the posts that brings the readers to the checkout page with the new product in their carts. Reducing the steps in the process increases the chances of driving sales.

Be innovative

If your new product is boring, is the same as your other items, or is already available from other retailers, people won’t be thrilled to buy it.

But if it’s unique, improves their lives, and enhances their customer service experience, they’ll be much more willing to spend their hard-earned cash.

Be creative.

Start by conducting the right market research.

What do your customers want? Give it to them.

Try to make drastic improvements to existing products that have problems. If your product is revolutionary, it will sell like crazy.

Highlight the new product on your website

Now that your product has launched and is available for purchase, don’t bury it on your website.

Showcase it on your homepage. Take a look at this example from the GAP website:

The new arrivals are the first thing featured on its homepage.

Do you notice anything else about this site? It also offers discounts on its new items, a strategy I’ve previously discussed.

You can feature your new product in other places of your website as well.

Let’s say your site has a search filter, which it should, so I’m assuming it does. When someone searches for something by name or by a category that fits the description of your new product, it should be the first item they see on the page.

If they have to navigate through pages and pages of results to find your new product, it will decrease the chances of them buying it.

Here’s a look at how Michael Kors sorts products on its ecommerce page:

You can employ a similar strategy to increase the exposure of your new products.

This will help you generate more sales.

Timing is everything

Your new product might be great. However, if you release it at the wrong time, you won’t get lots of sales.

For example, let’s say you’re planning to release a product on a Thursday, which just happens to be July 3rd that year. You can’t just do that without taking things like that into consideration.

July 4th is obviously a national holiday celebrated by Americans. Lots of people will take July 3rd off work and enjoy a nice long weekend with family and friends.

They could be having a barbeque, traveling, or spending the day on the beach. They probably won’t have tons of time or incentive to buy something online.

Your opening weekend is going to be a dud. This won’t build much buzz around your product release.

On the flipside, if you were releasing a product that could be used on the 4th of July, such as American flag apparel, you’ve got to make sure the release date gives your customers enough time to get the item before they need it.

If they need it for the 4th, releasing it on the 3rd won’t get you sales either.

You should also keep seasons in mind as well. For example, nobody in New England is going to buy snow gear in the summer.

When it comes to proper timing, ecommerce brands can build hype for the holiday season. You’ll want to release your products when consumers are ready and willing to spend money.

Use video content as a promotion tool

Don’t just share pictures of your new product. You’ll want to give people as much information as possible about what they’re buying.

That’s why video promotions are a viable strategy. There are lots of ways in which you can accomplish this.

You can use commercial style promotions to showcase your product. This can be done before and after your product is released.

Once the new product is available for purchase on your site, include a video demonstration to show website visitors how it works.

Recognize what type of content your target market wants to see. Consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read about it.

Furthermore, 90% of consumers say videos about products help them make buying decisions. Customers are 64% more likely to buy a product online if they’ve seen a video about it.

Share the videos on your website, social media platforms, marketing emails, and all your distribution channels.

Jump on the live video bandwagon. Showcase the product with live video streams as well.

These tactics will help you drive sales for your new product release.

Conclusion

Releasing a new product can be intimidating. You put so much effort into the release that you need to make sure everything goes smoothly.

If you don’t generate sales, your new product won’t turn a profit.

That’s why it’s important for you to start building hype for your product before it gets released. Take pre-orders, and start collecting money right away.

Rather than looking for new customers, promote the new release to your most loyal customers.

Come up with an innovative product. Run contests, and offer discounts as promotional methods. Talk about the new product in your blog posts.

Showcase the item on your website, and consider the timing of your release.

Create video advertisements, and share them on all your distribution channels.

If you follow the advice in this guide, your new product will generate sales and drive high profits as a result.

What marketing strategies are you using to drive sales for your newest products?