Top local business online marketing hacks

In order to convert and engage their customers, SMB’s need a new approach to marketing. One of the best ways to differentiate themselves from other similar companies in the market, businesses can begin by employing new community-centric and local business online marketing strategies to reach their customer at the right place and time.

All businesses share the same goal – to reach the customers in a way that motivates them to make a purchase. However, due to the crowded marketplace, we risk launching already seen campaigns, or those that are simply too generic.

Brands of all sizes benefit from local marketing

Local web marketing became a part of consumer’s daily lives. For example, online search engines will share relevant, local results even when we’re not specifically looking for products or a service provider near us. This is good enough of a reason for SMB’s to capitalize on this, regardless of their real location.

Local marketing strategies help brands drive authentic engagement and reach target buyers in a specific area. Still, to design a successful campaign, brands need to determine a strategy that will work locally.

This is done by optimizing your online marketing efforts to help you drive more traffic and raise awareness of your brand in localized areas. Your strategy needs to be based on your customer location data, but also other parameters such as their buying habits (do they prefer online or offline sales channels?), and overall market data in the area you want to target.

Don’t forget that local marketing campaigns will require local, customized communication and messaging, designed for a particular market.

One of the best, world known, local marketing campaigns are those executed by global restaurant chain McDonald’s. Their localized food choices such as the Tofu McNugget in China, Koroko Burger in Japan or Le McWrap Chèvre in France enjoy great popularity among locals.

Also, McDonalds uses every opportunity to show that it purchases meat and vegetables from local farmers in a certain area which makes their customer feel closer to their brand, such as shown in this campaign poster.McDonalds local business online marketing

Even though McDonald’s is a globally known brand, almost 30% of its revenue comes from restaurants outside the US and big countries such as Australia, Canada, China, Japan, Germany, France and the UK. Paying special attention and employing local marketing strategies, McDonald’s managed to stay on top of its customers’ mind and significantly increase sales in those other countries as well.

For example, in Spain it even went a step further and introduced new packaging for a new menu item – gazpacho, a traditional tomato soup. Customers in Spain loved it and recognized the effort, even though it was probably not the best gazpacho they’ve ever tasted.

McDonalds

How to start with local business online marketing?

Now after we have seen how strong localized campaigns can be, it is also important to stress that all businesses can benefit from local marketing, big or small. By adapting your strategies, and also your products and services to a certain local community, you can build your brand and increase your sales much faster than before. But how to start with local marketing?

To integrate a localized strategy into your digital marketing campaigns, employ these three top hacks:

1. Localize (mobile) search

Customers have already adopted mobile as the primary way of accessing the Internet and almost one third of mobile searches today have local targets. This is exactly the reason why brands need to pay a special attention on building better connections with local buyers via their mobile phones.

Mobile phones are personal devices and people carry them wherever they go, so mobile advertising is the ideal way for businesses to provide customers with more personal and targeted offers that seem familiar and friendlier than the offers they see elsewhere. Mobile ads can lead customers directly to your website, your landing page and even your nearby store.

The most effective and most popular local mobile ads are those customers can run into while scrolling through social media such as Facebook or Instagram.

To get more customers into their stores, Jasper’s Market created a special event ad on Facebook and invited local customers in San Francisco to a free cooking class. But what was so special about this ad? Well, along with uploading other photos in the ad, Jasper’s market marketing team also decided to include a Google map of the stores which offer the class.Jasper's Market
They also added an intriguing “Available at selected markets near you’ so that customers actually click on the ad to find out where and when they can join the class.

2. Localize online search ads

Local search ads are one of the most reliable and cost effective ways to drive sales and leads with impressive results. Getting a global visibility for your brand is a very difficult task, but if you restrict it to a specific location, you will be able to get a better ROI without huge spending. Localized ads help you distribute local promotional offers and discounts, include more information such as your contact details, store distance and local product stock but also increase the visibility of your brand logo and company image.

In this location-based, targeted ad by British retailer Argos we can clearly see how the company included all the elements of good local marketing mentioned above. Their offer includes basic product information, details about the nearest store where products can be found in stock, a map and also another thing – how to buy the product online!

Argos

3. Localize newsletters

By segmenting your customer’s database based on their location and purchase preferences, you can design highly personal, targeted newsletters. Another great thing is that, with the help of marketing automation, these newsletters can be sent automatically to your customer’s inbox. This can save a lot of valuable time you can actually use to work more on the strategy and content of your targeted newsletters.

Content wise, these newsletters need to have a more local approach and offer something specific for the area you want to target, such as promotion of local events, flash-sales in nearby stores and customized articles related both to the products and the location of your campaign. For example, if you work for a company that sells hiking equipment and accessories, you can include a short description and link to an article or a blog post about best hiking locations in the area.

For example, a private education organization General Assembly does a great job with their locally targeted newsletters. In one of their newsletters (shown below) they targeted Boston-located professionals and let them know about upcoming events and courses they offer in the area.

General Assembly Boston

A clear CTA in the first section reveals the main goal of the newsletter – to attract more visitors to their Design in Motion panel, but that’s not all.

General Assembly Boston

General Assembly’s newsletter also contains other business news related to the Boston area and a list of other courses and educational activities their customers can engage in.

Wrap Up

Local marketing strategies enable businesses to drive authentic engagement and effectively reach target buyers in a specific area. Local marketing has been successfully employed by both big and small companies and today serves as one of the best ways to increase ROI regardless of your business location.

Still, in order to start targeting our customers locally, we need to excel in the following:

  • Localize mobile search and design creative and appealing ads with local offers which are hard to miss on
  • Localize online search ads and provide customers with necessary buying details and ideally – offer both online and offline ways of purchase
  • Segment our customer’s database and localize marketing newsletters based on their location, interests and purchase history

3 winning SMB’s marketing strategies

There are countless examples of marketing strategies that SMBs can employ to draw in more customers and improve their bottom line. The success depends on a number of factors, ranging from the customers and their habits, to the work you’re doing and how you’re approaching it.

Here are three of the best marketing strategies and tactics for small and medium-sized businesses, which won’t break your bank but can still provide stellar results;

1. Run a blog

Blogging is one of the most important tools businesses use to improve their marketing and establish themselves not only as sellers, but also as experts in the field. A business blog is a central point of your content marketing and your own piece of mind to share across the social media pages, newsletters, emails, ebooks and other channels of communication you may have.

Why should you run a blog?

It gives your business a voice

A blog is a place to talk about the company products and services, but also a channel to touch on the new developments in the industry and discuss marketplace news. It gives your business a “personality” and gives your customers confidence that you are experts in the field which all builds your brand.

It helps in reaching new customers

With strategically crafted, interesting and useful blog posts, you are able to reach many people and get your content shared across different social media channels they use. Also, its dynamic nature with frequent updates helps you achieve higher internet search results rankings, which is one of the ultimate goals of content marketing efforts.

It gives your business more exposure

Blog posts are not only to be shared on your own marketing channels. You and your team should give an extra effort to share the blog content across, for example, LinkedIn groups related to your field of business. This is how, along with reaching new customers, a blog can also help you build a dynamic community which exchanges information, opinions and reviews of your business and products.

It drives customer engagement

A blog creates a two-way conversation with your prospects and existing customers and encourages comments, interaction and feedback. By regularly engaging with your customers via a blog, you can truly improve the customer experience and increase their trust in your brand. If customers believe you’re a reliable source of industry information, they will buy from you as well.

How to run a successful blog?

#Add value and be original

Adding value to your content is the one thing that will keep your customers coming back for more and in the end – buy from you. Be aware that there are other blogs out there probably writing about the same things, so find your niche and your brand voice so you can be consistent and original. Nurture your own perspective and creativity and the customers will recognize it.

#Post regularly

Make sure you maintain a certain dynamic and post regularly. Depending on your business, this is ideally once or twice per week. Speaking of length, as practice (and Google ranking!) shows, blog posts should be between 800 and 1,200 words long. Blog posts over 2000 words are considered niche, so be careful and post these less often.

#Structure smartly

Structure your blog smartly. Craft a great headline with an active verb and try to use the topic keywords in it. Don’t forget sub-headlines, bullet points and interesting images/helpful videos related to the topic. Your blog fuels SEO, so don’t forget to develop your keyword strategy. A single search term as a keyword is not as effective anymore, and companies now employ so called “topical search” which includes search phrases, synonyms, and other topic-related terms users might enter in their browser. Include stats and both external and internal links in your blog post as it gives your business and your blog more credibility.

#Promote via different channels

Promote your blog across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media you use. Include links to your blog posts in your newsletter offers and other marketing content you produce such as ebooks.

To consistently create great content and keep a customers interested in it, you need to tie your blog to your company image in an innovative way. To find out how this looks in practice, let’s take a look at Whole Foods, which has one of the most popular company blogs in the food industry.

Whole Story

Their blog, Whole Story, concentrates not only on the products they sell, but also on the eating culture and healthy lifestyle. Knowing that their customers are heavily invested in eating healthy, the company creates different articles related to the topic and provides a lot of value to the readers.

Whole Foods

This is how their customers can learn more about food safety or how to grow their own food, but also find out more about food festivals, healthy diets and get some new recipes.

2. Run email marketing

Email marketing is considered to be one of the most affordable and most effective marketing tools in the world of advertising. Regardless of how many new and technologically advanced ways we have to reach customers in 2018, email still stands as one of the most direct and cheapest marketing channels.

Why should you run email marketing?

It’s cheap

Email marketing is considered to be cheapest channel of communication within the world of business. It brings efficiency to multiple levels of your business: it can be sent automatically to different groups of customers you may have, it can be integrated with your shopping cart technology to further engagement, and it allows you to increase frequency and relevance of communication with your customers. These levels of marketing and communication cannot be replaced with other strategies at the same cost.

It can directly reach many customers

If you segment your customer’s database and automate your emails wisely, you can reach different groups of customers with timely, strategically crafted content based on their exact needs and interests. This significantly builds the relationship you have with your buyers and increases your sales.

It increases brand visibility

You cannot force your customers to visit your stores or your website to make a purchase. But with a simple, timely email you can remind them you’re still here and stay on top of their mind in the crowded marketing landscape.

This also means that you can deliver the email when it will have the biggest impact. Adjusting the timing of your emails helps you deliver relevant messages at relevant times such as, for example, a newsletter with a 20% discount coupon one week before holidays.

How to run a successful email marketing campaign?

#Develop a strategy

Every marketing campaign needs a business strategy plan, so always take time to develop one. Think about what you want to achieve with a certain campaign: Is to grow your revenue? Is to retain your existing customer or convert a new ones? After finding your answer, think about what value to add to it and find an original and creative way to execute it.

#Segment effectively

Marketing automation tools can help you effectively segment your customers based on their interests, demographics, recent open or link click activity, purchase history, subscription date and more. Email segmentation is a powerful marketing technique which helps you send relevant offers to specific buyers in an email list.

#Personalize

Email personalization is based on the same parameters as those used in customer segmentation. These can be your customers’ previous purchases, buying preferences, website browsing data and other information you collected in their buying process.

Create an email your customers will want to read. Include the customer name in your subject line and/or the first line of the email and make a step forward and create personal content based on mentioned parameters. Make every word count and the results will be remarkable.

#Automate

Setting up your emails so that they get sent automatically when certain triggers are activated is one of the most successful email marketing tactics. These triggers can be the day of your customer’s first registration or their first purchase, their birthdays or public holidays. Automated email campaigns are proven to be very successful in engaging target audiences, increasing email open rates and also transaction levels and revenue.

Similar to what we said before, to run a successful email marketing campaign means to be consistent in aligning it with your brand image. One of the best company examples is Uber. All of its communications and marketing assets tell the brand’s story in a simple and clear way.

For the purposes of their Calendar Integration campaign, Uber sent a simple but beautifully designed email with a clever copywriting.

Uber email

With a brief initial description and a very clear CTA, Uber designed the email which is hard to miss, ideal for people who are quickly skimming their emails.

3. Run SMS marketing

In 2018, SMS marketing remains one of the most important channels of digital marketing. SMS is great way to get in touch with your customers as it doesn’t depend on an internet connection, can be used to reach anyone with a mobile phone and it’s incredibly fast. This is how SMS marketing campaigns managed to stay an integral part of digital marketing and found their way to become one of the fastest growing marketing channels in the world of business.

Why should you run SMS marketing campaigns?

It’s an instant marketing solution

Text messaging enables you to reach your customers anyplace and any time with personalized messages sent directly to their phones. SMS doesn’t require a lot of prep-time, it’s short, concise and has no additional materials attached to it. It brings clear and valuable information to your customers, such as a sale, temporary discount, reward for loyal customers, promotion of a new product or product delivery details.

It’s cost-effective

Compared to other marketing solutions and paid advertising, SMS marketing is considered to be very affordable. This makes it an ideal promotion channel for every business out there, even for those with a limited marketing budget.

It’s ideal for time-sensitive offers

People walk around with mobile phones in their hands all the time, so SMS is the best known tool for delivering time-sensitive marketing offers you may have. SMS is the best option to, for example, spread the word about the flash sale in your stores or to inform your customers about that special 24-hour holiday offer.

How to run successful SMS marketing campaigns?

#Keep it short and relevant

Have in mind that the space you have for the marketing offer is limited, so the message needs to be short, direct and concise. Make sure everything you want to say fits into one message and use a shortened URL to your website or landing page to add an extra value to your offer.

#Always include CTA

Even though it’s not a newsletter or a landing page, a marketing SMS also needs to have a clear Call-to-Action. This means there is no flashy and clickable CTA button, but you still have – words! Invite your customers to action in a few compelling words and make sure you actually…

#Integrate the SMS with other marketing channels

SMS is easy to integrate with other types of marketing you do. Although SMS is a marketing channel for itself, it’s often used to drive more customers to visit the company website or a web shop. One of the most frequent uses of SMS marketing campaigns is to enlarge customer databases by sending the URL to your mobile landing page.

Restaurant chain Pizza Hut recognized the marketing power of SMS years ago and it’s still using it as of one of the main channels of promotion for their products and services. Few years ago, a Pizza Hut SMS subscribers received a text message promotion with a link to custom order their next pizza with a discount.

Pizza Hut SMS Discount

Once an SMS subscriber clicked on the link in the SMS promotion, they’re taken to Pizza Hut’s mobile ordering experience and discovered another perk of this offer – a free appetizer!

Pizza Hut

Wrap Up – marketing strategies

Today’s marketplace is crowded with businesses offering similar products and services, so SMB’s are on the constant lookout for successful marketing strategies and expand their business without huge spending. This is mostly done via cost-effective, top marketing strategies such as content marketing, but also through innovative and data driven email and SMS marketing campaigns.

The secret of success is hidden both in creating original and strategy-specific content for each of these strategies, but also in segmenting your customer’s database and automating the marketing processes based on various customer’s information and data you collected.

Via smartly executed email, SMS and content marketing campaigns, you will be able to get more conversions, increase the loyalty and build stronger relationships with your customers.

Low budget online marketing tips for quick wins

You’re ready to put your digital marketing strategy to the test, but you don’t want to, neither can you afford to break the bank.The good news is there is a lot you can accomplish with little to zero cost using online solutions to reach mass audiences. According to research, Americans alone spend, on average, 24 hours a week online. That’s more than half the typical work week. This mass audience across a digital landscape translates to multiple touch points and maximizes your opportunity for conversion.

If you’re looking for fresh ideas and quick wins, this list was made for you: Read more

Are QR codes still relevant in 2018?

Ever since they were introduced to the world of marketing and consumer advertising, QR codes have been praised as a very convenient way to increase conversion rates by bringing the potential customer to the company website immediately. Moreover, they play an important role in more targeted product and loyalty marketing.

Despite this, we can also often find articles criticizing it. A simple Google search into QR codes will give you different claims that “QR codes are dead” for years now. But why is that? Is it the technology itself, or are businesses failing in using it the right way?

As the stats about its popularity and efficiency from the different markets in the world can significantly vary, the answer we seek is probably hiding in the latter. Read more

Are bulk texting campaigns spam?

It’s all in the numbers. On average, marketers witness a 98% open rate with SMS, and 90% of text messages are opened within 3 seconds. This means that for a business trying to get a message into its customers hands, quite literally, bulk SMS campaigns may be the best way to go. But, how do you ensure that when you send mass messages, they aren’t perceived as spam?

Here are some best practices to optimize your bulk SMS marketing campaigns to make them feel personalized, drive sales, and connect with your customers at the right time. Read more

Online marketing tactics for SMBs any marketer must know

With over 4 billion people connected to the internet, online marketing solutions offer an easy and measurable method to reach the masses and grow your small business.

Regardless of the tactics that you choose to employ, online marketing comes down to developing a robust strategy, remaining consistent, and measuring what does and doesn’t work through trial-and-error.

To expand your reach, here are some tips and tactics to make the most out of the various online marketing solutions available. Read more

How to leverage your customer’s smartphone to your advantage

For the past several years there has been strong growth in mobile marketing, and in 2018 this trend will continue. Probably the best thing about mobile marketing is its omnipresence – you can reach your customers at any time, at any place.

Still, in times of information overload, marketers need to be careful and approach mobile marketing the right way. Using a customer’s smartphone to your advantage doesn’t mean we can bombard our customers with numerous offers, send the same email over and over again or bother them to fill out the survey at dinner time, only because we know they’re probably online. Mobile marketing campaigns need to be strategically planned, data-driven and innovative.

If done right, mobile marketing can significantly improve customer experience, make your products and your business more visible and approachable, and of course, help you sell more!

To achieve this we need to both employ the tools offered by new technologies, such as chatbots or voice search but also to rethink the ways we use those more standardized digital marketing tools such as automated emails, newsletters, landing pages and last but not the least – SMS messaging, which is still being used as one the top tools for providing the best customer experience.

Mobile marketing is here to keep the customers engaged with our business and stands for one of the most powerful tools for customer retention in the new millennium. So, in order to leverage your customer’s smartphone to your advantage in 2018, you need to keep in mind the following:

Make mobile experience your top priority

It’s not news that your web presence needs to be tailored for mobile users, but in 2018 this is more important than ever. To make sure our mobile website is appealing to customers, it needs to load quickly and all of its pages have to be mobile responsive. Photos and copy should be optimised, relevant, high-quality and well-placed, and you should try to reduce the need for zooming or scrolling as much as possible.

Content of your emails, newsletters and landing pages needs to be easily consumed on mobile devices, and also light-weight, given that not all users have the same data plan or are ready to spend that data to download heavy emails.

Don’t forget to reduce the size and volume of text in your offers, as mobile consumers are often on the move and don’t have much time to browse through the usual offers you send.

Rethink the ways you use existing digital marketing tools

In the age of the digital customer experience, we are very well aware of the importance of designing truly appealing emails, newsletters, landing pages and text messages. This means our offers need to be visually appealing and optimised and its copy adjusted for mobile users.

Same as any other marketing campaign, mobile campaigns also need to be data-driven and customized with demographic information and customer behavioral data to deliver relevance within the messages we send. Mobile personalization helps us deliver campaigns tailored to each user and it drives customer conversion, loyalty, and retention. Here are some tips and advices on how to use online marketing tools for mobile in an innovative and creative way:

1. Design emails and newsletters for mobile first

In the last few years we’ve witnessed how quickly smartphones overtook computers as the device most often use to open and read emails. Stats from 2017 show that majority of emails sent out by companies are now opened on a mobile device, regardless of what kind of business you’re in.

Hence, there is no stronger reason to rethink our marketing strategies and simply put the mobile first, desktop second! Experienced marketers often highlight the fact that designing for mobile first is actually far easier than the other way around as you can later simply build in the additional elements and expand the offer you have in place.

In this example by real estate company Redfin we can clearly see how the mobile optimised email on the right side looks more user friendly than the one Redfin had in place before. Although the content of their email remained the same, different fonts and the simple “Learn more” CTA make the company’s offer more inviting and eye-catching.Learn more CTA

To avoid double work for your campaigns, start thinking about making things simple from the very beginning.

The strongest reason for designing for mobile first is that this way your prioritize the most important aspects of your offer. Once you have a strong foundation that works, you can later easily expand the offer and add details more suitable for desktop version of your offer(s).

Mobile-first design makes you to really focus and maintain simplicity by removing all unnecessary user interface details. By removing these distractions, you will significantly improve the user experience which makes perfect business sense!

2. Look for innovative ways to use SMS marketing

Considering the fact that people usually read text messages on their phones within the first three seconds upon receiving them, you should never underestimate the power of marketing delivered to them via mobile phones. SMS marketing still serves as one of the best sales-boosting and customer retention channels, regardless of the fact how advanced mobile marketing is in 2018.

To use SMS marketing in an advanced way, we should always look at it as mediating agent that leads the customers to your, more engaging, mobile website or app. As we all know, SMS doesn’t rely on an internet connection and can act as a glue that merges your customer’s offline and online experiences.

For example, in 2017, the Swiss Post came up with a truly unique idea to enable their users to buy postage stamps via SMS messages. People looking to send out a letter were required to text the word ‘STAMP’ to the target number, after which they received a single-use number which they would then simply write on the envelope.SMS messages

If you’re wondering how these stamps are paid for, the company’s solution for this one is quite simple as well. After opting in, the cost of the stamp is automatically deducted from the customer’s phone credit which users, of course, found to be very convenient.

This example clearly shows how Swiss post found a great way to increase their revenues via SMS services by making their product more accessible and make their traditional services closer to today’s customers.

SMS is used as a communication channel for multiple purposes, such as for follow up customer services, event invitations, real-time appointments, coupon distribution and instant polling.

Regardless of the SMS campaign you have in use, don’t forget that each of your marketing strategies needs to be backed up with data such as customer demographics, location, the number and frequency of their purchases. For example, if you send a data-driven, automated SMS to a customer that recently made a purchase from you, you can find out how satisfied they are with the purchased item.SMS Campaign

You can also ask your customers to rate their customer experience, not only the product or service you provide.Automated Text Messages

With automated text messages, you engage the right recipient at the right time and nurture the relationship by offering relevant and customized content to your customers.

3. Minimalistic approach to landing pages

It is clear by now that, if you’re not catering to your mobile audience, your business will suffer for it. You need to go mobile wherever you can and that includes designing mobile responsive landing pages as well.

A mobile responsive landing page is not only the one that nicely displays on your customer’s smartphone, but also the one that has quick load times, short and smart titles and copy, CTA button that works properly on touchscreen and asks for minimum information in their form. To make it more effective, reduce zooming and scrolling, such as in this example by Gumroad shows below.Gumroad CTA

This is a pretty great example of simplicity in landing pages as it fits the screen perfectly, has a very simple design but yet interesting CTA which tickles the customer’s curiosity. Same as with the mobile email example above, this landing page was designed for mobile first, and after the initial success, the company created an expanded version for desktop too.Gumroad CTA

Still, to sell more products and keep the customer buying from you, your landing page needs to bring the attention to the specific matter to a specific group of customers. Marketing automation tools such as landing page builders capture the customers information easily and effectively. Your only job is to choose a template, add a form and define which list of the subscribers it will be directed to.

Invest in new mobile marketing features

As already said, to really nail mobile marketing in 2018, we also need to employ new and advanced marketing tools for mobile:

1. Chatbots

Chatbot, a piece of software designed to act as a person, is quickly becoming one of the most popular marketing tools in the new millenium. The >research conducted by HubSpot in 2017 found that 57% of consumers are interested in getting real-time answers from chatbots on a company website, and that 48% of consumers would rather connect with a company via live chat than any other mean of contact.

Initially designed to provide service information and help customers with frequently asked questions, in 2017 chatbots have come a long way and now are being used to provide a personalized product recommendation and even to facilitate purchases, such as in this example by KLM airlines.KLM

KLM launched its chatbot via Facebook Messenger to assist its human support team and reached more than 500,000 customers in the first six months. Their chatbot turned out to be such a big success that company recently added a voice layer to it to expand its reach.

Before you start with designing one for your business, invest some time in clarifying the best use of chatbots in your company. What is your priority right now? Is it to reduce the time you usually spend answering product related questions or to sell more of your products? Identifying where in the customer experience a chatbot could best help will enable you to reduce the costs and get the best results from it.

Another great thing about customer service chatbots is that they collect data and learn customer behavior which, over time, makes them even more user-friendly and save more of your money and time.

2. VR & AR apps

We already know for virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) features in games and platforms such as Pokemon Go or Google Cardboard, but this cutting-edge technology also started to make its way into the world of digital marketing.

Augmented reality also makes mobile devices into essential tools for education, training and designing and lately also affects the ways businesses can present and promote their products. For example, French startup Augment developed an augmented reality mobile app that helps businesses visualize 3D models in real time and real space.

The company encourages businesses to use their technology to connect to online shoppers by allowing them to virtually place products in their home before buying them, such as in the furniture business example shown below.Virtually Place Products

Augment is only the beginning of using AR on mobile phones to test, select and buy products and it’s already been used by retailers to cut down on buyer uncertainty.

Customer service is considered to be a human-to-human interaction in which customer expect a personal touch to help with the issues they have. These are exactly the areas where further technological advances such as AR and VR can and should be used to provide solutions allowing for better consumer experiences.

3. Voice search

Voice powered communication on mobile devices is undoubtedly one of the most popular means of interaction in the digital age. Voice-powered experiences now have a direct impact on businesses as a hot new trend in providing the best customer experience.

It’s obvious that people on the move just love voice search, which is per se good enough reason to add it to your customer services. On the other hand, voice search has made reaching your audience a bit harder than via usual Google search, so you must be prepared to take some additional measures to actually make it work.

In order to make the voice search effective, we need to understand exactly what users are searching for and how they are searching for it. Therefore, to improve the mobile website for voice search, your content should incorporate more natural language. When speaking, people naturally tend to use more words than they do when typing, so the list of keywords needs to contain full sentences, instead of focusing on simple keywords and phrases.

Wrap Up

To leverage your customer’s smartphone to your advantage in 2018, you will need to rethink the ways you use already well-known marketing channels and optimize their design and copy for mobile phones. This includes finding simple, but also creative ways to reach out to customers via emails, newsletters, landing pages and SMS messages.

To get this right, never forget that all the offers you have in place have to be data-driven and target the specific group of customers. The easiest way to achieve this is to automate the offers you have with the help of marketing automation platforms such as smoove which will make your job easier and more efficient.

Last, but not least, you should think about exploring how you can take advantage of new and advanced tools and software for mobile marketing such as chatbots, voice search, and even virtual reality and augmented reality software which altogether present the future of mobile marketing.

How to set up a mobile customer retention campaign using smoove

Customer retention comes down to proper communication and consistent satisfaction. While there are many methods to reach out to your clientele, from email marketing to social media and more, SMS text messaging offers a low-cost alternative with the highest open rates of any marketing alternative. Once you receive an opt-in from your customers, the phone is your virtual oyster, opening up a world of communication possibilities.

Given that over 4 billion people in the world have mobile phones, you can use smoove’s SMS tool to direct your message to the right audience, create a sense of urgency with promotions, test timing, create automated messages, and personalize your content.

Here’s a look at some of the best practices to employ in your SMS retention strategy and how smoove can help you achieve your goals.

Segmentation and Campaign Types

SMS message campaigns come in many forms. You can choose to offer products and promotions, loyalty and rewards, or even post purchase follow up messages with surveys and incentives for customers who provide feedback.

Regardless of the kind of campaign you choose to employ, you must know your relevant audience, and that comes down to proper list segmentation. Using smoove’s list segmentation tool, you can easily divide your audience based on parameters like their purchase history, demographic, location and engagement levels. Then, when you set up an SMS campaign, simply enter the list you want to send the message to, and the rest is taken care of when you click send.

An example of how location can help is if you have multiple stores in different areas. During business hours, you can offer different promotions for different locations via text messages based on geography. You can always make the message relevant to events and cultural activities taking place in that specific location. Speaking of location, smoove’s Waze integration allows customers to simply click a button to direct them right to your storefront. It’s another simple way to make your customer’s journey easier!

 

smoove sms dashboardText With Urgency and Timing

You want your customers to take action when they receive your message, after all, that’s what retention is all about. If you’re communicating, but there is no transaction, you’re at risk of losing your customer. To help get customers to click through your message to the intended landing page or product, create a countdown with an offer that expires. Smoove allows for you to add a countdown clock directly within the message that plays upon the emotional response that time is running out.

SMS alert

Then, based on a user’s action, you can enable smart links and triggers to follow up with another automated message based on the action they did or didn’t take from the first message.

For example, you can create an automated journey. If the client redeems the first offer within the amount of time, you can trigger a second message with one of two follow ups. Either offer an additional, equally attractive and generic offer, or follow up and mention that previous purchase with another offer. For the customers who did not take the bait in the first message, you can offer a different promotion with an even shorter time frame.

Additionally, on the topic of automation, if you want to track a customer’s journey online and then move the messaging to mobile, you can set up smart links and automation there, too. For example, if a customer abandons a cart before finishing the check out process, you can set up a text message reminder for them to finish their purchase. Smoove integrates with the biggest e-commerce platforms like Magento, Shopify and Woo-Commerce. Since so many people use their mobile phones to shop online, you’re literally putting the transaction in their hands and personalizing your messages in real-time to prompt an action.

Easy Testing Goes A Long Way

While it’s more likely for a customer to open a text message than an email, you can vary your timing more than you would with an email. It’s possible to have high open rates on weekends, when people aren’t at work, and for retailers, this may be the best time to send your message.

With smoove, you can use A/B testing based on different send times to see what time works best for your lists. Also, going deeper with list segmentation, you can send different messages in different time zones for your relevant customers. Smoove’s easy-to-use analytics will showcase your winning messages and inform you of the best timing to continue with your SMS strategy.

If you run an e-commerce site that never closes, you can use auto-response messages to send your text messages. If you run a brick-and-mortar store, it is recommended that you still send messages during normal operating hours so that if someone wants to call or come in, you’re open.

smoove autoresponse

Deliver Clutter-Free Content

Like tweets, SMS messages should be short, sweet and to the point. Creating a clear call-to-action is a crucial part of establishing a successful SMS retention campaign. By employing smoove’s mobile landing pages, you can easily direct your customer to take the intended action with the click of a button. By driving traffic directly to a mobile responsive page, you’re keeping the message and the intention cohesive.

You can also use the Events & Reminders tool to send a message about a specific event or promotion. For example, if you have a summer sale coming up, you can automate message reminders to go out 2 weeks before, a day before and the day of to keep your customers informed. Smoove’s dashboard makes it easy to link to a specific landing page so that your customer can see all the event information when they click through to the landing page, which will allow your SMS message to still stay short and sweet, and free of clutter.

smoove dashboard

Wrap Up

While you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, adding SMS marketing to your retention strategy can only benefit your business. With the highest open rates and the fact that people tend to check their phones at least once an hour, you can deliver succinct messages directly to your customers at any time. You can also sync your email marketing messages with your SMS messaging to create a robust campaign with multiple touch points.

Smoove’s automation tools, events and reminders tracking, A/B testing, countdown clocks and list segmentation allows you to take your SMS marketing to the next level with little effort. Ready to send your first text? We’re here to get your thumbs triggering messages of retention! Open a free account today.

How to set up an email customer retention campaign using smoove

The success of an email marketing campaign for retention relies on more than just the content. With over 144 billion emails sent a day, how can you ensure that your message doesn’t get lost in the shuffle?

While there is something true in the old cliche “content is king,” strategy is necessary to engage your customers and keep them continuously interested in opening your messages. With smoove’s features, you can create robust campaigns, test variables, implement templates, create custom content, easily measure success, and automate your distribution.

Let’s take a look at some best practices for email marketing and how smoove can help you achieve your retention strategy needs.

Step One: List Management

Communication is based on senders and receivers, and it only makes sense to send emails to the right customers. For example, you wouldn’t want to send a loyal customer a win-back email if they’re currently making purchases. Yet still, list management goes beyond segmentation, targeting and personalization.

Customers work through sales funnels and the goal is to keep them moving up and staying active. User actions should dictate the kind of messages they receive to drive this process along without much leg work on your end. With smoove, you can use smart links to set up triggers that automatically segment your audience and add contacts to your lists based on the actions they take within your emails, SMS messages and even on landing pages from your website.smoove smart link

To exemplify, say you send an email with a countdown clock and a promotional offer to customers who have lapsed in the past month. You’re giving them 24 hours to act and redeem the discount. Once they click on the call-to-action button that says “redeem offer,” you want to send a reminder email if they have not yet made a purchase when there is only four hours left. By using smoove’s smart link, you can automate a follow-up email to be sent with a final reminder for those who have yet to visit the checkout page. In this way, you can create personalized emails without having to continuously check on your lists. The system does the work for you.

Furthermore, when you create lists, you can allow for them to be “public,” so that your customers can actually see the lists they are subscribed to in your system. In the event they are tired of receiving one kind of email from a specific list, they can solely unsubscribe from it rather than globally unsubscribing. This is a very important retention tactic as once a person unsubscribes, you can no longer contact them. But, in this way, you can still direct the messages that they are okay receiving and keep them as a contact record.

Deeper Dive: Segment Based on Status

Messaging your customers differently based on their engagement with your email communication is a good starting point. But, another useful way to target your customers is to break them up based on their spending habits and purchase history. Loyal customers appreciate rewards.

Whether you already have a loyalty program set-up or not, email marketing can help you let your VIP customers know they are valued. Smoove allows for you to segment your lists based on the amount of money they’ve spent or how recently they made a purchase. The automatic list generation of your most valuable customers means that you can minimize your spending on loyalty programs, and use that budget to instead offer promotions and thank you gifts to these customers.

These little personal touches go a long way in showing a customer that they are important to your business, and of course, when they receive special and personalized discounts, they are more likely to purchase again.

Step Two: Create a Campaign

You have your intended audience ready to go, and now it’s time for the content to work its magic. Whether you have a team of designers at your disposal or not, smoove makes it easy to create beautiful emails at your fingertips. Throughout the entire process, pop-up boxes will lead you to the next step should you need assistance, but even without the added help, the user-friendly experience directs you through the process. Simply begin by defining who you’re sending the email to and continue with the selection of one of the many pre-designed templates, or take the time to create your own custom content.

You have options for how you can create your campaign- whether you want to use the email templates, text editor, an external URL, or a ZIP file, each option is always available.

Step Three: Personalization and Content Options

Every retention manager knows the value of personalization when it comes to treating your customers right. Smoove’s advanced and automated text fields allow for the database to do the work in making your content feel personal. When you set up a campaign, you can choose from a drop-down menu of options for what field to personalize in the message.Personalization and Content Options

Even when choosing a pre-made template, you can edit the content blocks and add personalized touches, like a customized offer for only a segment of your list.

Step Four: A/B Testing and Analytics

Optimization is always the goal in running successful marketing campaigns. But, you don’t know what works best until you try. With smoove’s A/B testing, you can efficiently try two different options for subject lines, content blocks, promotions and more and send to a sample size of your list. Based on performance, the winning content will be sent to the remainder of your list automatically. Conversion rates can be set up as open rates or click-through rates, depending on your goal.

You can also take your analytics a step further by using the Advanced tab and incorporating specific links to be tracked with the Google Analytics integration.

Step Five: Automation

Customers expect more from businesses than ever before. In some instances, customer experience trumps pricing and product quality in an increasingly experiential marketplace.

Marketing automation is a key in retaining customers and decreasing churn because it allows for the customer experience to be seamless and logical. Since so much of the customer experience is digital and about 60% of a sales journey happens before a sales lead is even in contact with a customer, being able to track a customer’s path is pertinent to retaining their business.smoove marketing automation

Smoove has multiple ways to help you capture your leads, from creating landing pages to using smart forms to increasingly request more information from engaged customers. But, what about after they’ve made a purchase? You can set up auto-response email marketing so that the time between an action a user takes and a follow-up email is within seconds. The sooner you are able to reach out, the less time a customer has to look at your competition.

Another idea is to adopt an approach that Amazon does so well. Rather than only cross-selling and up-selling to your customers who have recently purchased, you can send an automatic email after a purchase that asks them to write a product review. Then, once they review the product, you can automate another email that then includes other products they may like based on their review. That way, you’re creating a two way relationship that isn’t only about the buying relationship, and also gain more customer insight so that you can provide solutions to maximize their satisfaction and experience.

There’s automation when it comes to actual messages, and then there’s also automation when it comes to reminders of what you should do next. With the mini CRM module in smoove’s system, you can create smart/automatic reminders of next steps to take on a lead or customer so that you never miss a beat in the sales cycle.

Wrap – Up

Email marketing is a key tactic for customer retention. While there is a lot of strategy that goes into creating the perfect content for the right audience, there are many ways that smoove’s automated tools make the entire experience seamless and easily trackable. From customizable templates designed for various industries and topics to the list management and automated CRM features, smoove allows for your email marketing campaigns to be robust and measurable.

From the start of a customer relationship, or capturing leads, to maintaining a buying relationship with your current customers, email marketing keeps your message front and center and is a powerful tool in gauging customer satisfaction, which is the number one aspect of retaining loyal customers.

Starting from step one or elevating your strategies, how can you let smoove help you today?

Reach out and let us know what you need. We’re here to help! Sign up free today to take a look around.

How to provide better digital customer service

In the age of customer experience, buyers no longer just compare your products to those of your competitors – they now also compare the experiences and the support they receive throughout the buying process.

Therefore, adopting different digital channels to reach today’s customers serve as a key driver to digital customer service success. This means adopting new and improved technologies in digital marketing, including marketing automation platforms such as smoove and the organization of digital support on your website, social media and messaging apps such as, for example, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

Some reports show that by 2020, 85 percent of all B2C interaction will be automated. Still, developing a customer-centric model of business is not possible without leveraging customer data and information and building an integrated strategic plan to merge the efforts of sales, marketing and customer service. This basically means that the human factor in this interaction cannot be completely replaced by technology, regardless of how fast it develops.

To find the ideal balance of human factor and technology in approaching customers, let’s look at the following three things SMB’s can do to improve their digital customer experience:

1. Automate for the right reasons

By automating more tasks in the area of customer experience, we give our digital teams more time to focus on other valuable tasks such as designing the strategy and delivering personalized content. Personalization is one of the best marketing investments and it gives customers exactly what they want, including products, services and experiences that truly matter to them.

By asking ourselves what are their needs and preferences and reaching out for necessary data, we can predict the answers customers are seeking, provide a positive digital customer service and keep them buying from us.

In this example from Spotify we can clearly see how personalization of content can be very effective and make customers feel like they’re being rewarded for their loyalty to the company.Spotify

Integrate personalization into every digital communication channel you use and make sure that the content of your emails, newsletters or feedback forms is not stripped off a human touch.

2. Don’t force customers to be digital

Businesses must determine how human and digital channels can support each other in resolving the issues or questions their customer may have. Human-assisted channels such as live chats, social media chatbots, and also other means of communications such as email and community forums, often cannot compare to a real human-to-human conversation via phone.

Don’t hesitate to make your company’s phone number visible on your website, newsletters and social media pages. Also, include it in your answers to customer enquiries and even in the answers to the feedback they leave across social media.

The simple “Call us if you have any questions” and actually having someone to pick up the phone is still of huge importance for providing the best customer service. Leaving your customers to wait or to look for answers themselves can easily lead them to your competitors which do this the right way.

Also, this leaves customers with more time to get used to the new digital channels of customer support you may have. In the meantime, you need to make sure that they know a digital channel exists and can meet their expectations with as least effort as possible.

You can promote your new chatbot on your website or in an email you usually send as the part of your after sales care strategy, or you can even offer some incentives such as special product offers to those who decide to subscribe to it, such as in this example from the e-commerce website Lazada.Lazada

3. Focus on the data and improve digital pain points

Understanding customer behavior by analyzing data and information they leave across all channels will prevent you from making the same mistake twice and enable you to provide a remarkable multichannel customer experience.

• Segment the data and personalize the content

Linking the customer’s personal data with their buying habits, browsing history, feedback they leave and channels of communications they prefer, will allow you to identify both the strong and weak points of the customer support you provide.

By segmenting your customer’s database into different email lists you’ll be able to create personalized emails, newsletters, text messages and landing pages which is truly relevant to them.

These segmented lists can be used to provide specific support to the specific customer regardless of which channel of communication they use most. Some of your customers may prefer detailed answers by email, while others would rather save some time and receive the support via SMS, live chat, or a social media chatbot.

• Provide consistency

When talking about digital pain points, another important thing to add is that many businesses still don’t provide the same digital experience across different devices such as tablets and mobile phones. Your content needs to be displayed properly and offer the same support wherever your customers are at the moment, such as we can see on the right side of the image in the example below.The Frequency

• Introduce carefully

When it comes to the new channels of communication such as Facebook and WhatsApp, these need to be introduced carefully. This is usually done by repeatedly and politely asking your customers if they would like to receive any updates and support via messaging apps so that people can use them when they’re ready. Making a new channel an imperative so you can save more time and money on customer service provided by humans can drive many of your customers away.

Along with the promoting the bot on your website and your newsletters, you should always promote it on your social media channels. For example, adding a “Send Message” button on your Facebook page will enable your page visitors to connect with your chatbot in one click.

A good idea on how to promote the new channel for customer service is to make a short video of its flow which you can later pin to your Facebook page, website, newsletters and emails you send to customers, such as in this chatbot video screencast made by Ray-Ban.

• Invest in problem solving

Also, remember that the secret of success in not only in introducing and developing more and more of these channels, but rather on concentrating more on the data you have to minimize the customers’ needs for frequent support inquiries in the first place.

If, for example, you often receive questions related to a slow delivery process or the issues they have while browsing your website, you need to be there for the customers, but also invest your money in resolving these problems as soon as possible.

Once you have resolved the issue, you can use the segmented email lists and send out the announcements about changes and improvements you made and problems you resolved so that customers know you really care.

You can also ask them to help you with more feedback while making the improvements, such as in this example from Squarespace.Squarespace

Wrap-Up

The customer service industry in 2018 is experiencing yet another digital shift, as customer experience experts seek to expand channels, leverage data and analytics, adopt automation offered by platforms like smoove and embrace digital self-service via new channels such as live chats and different messaging apps. Still, the importance of the human factor in this process remains an important part. To find the right balance of human touch and technological advances in providing the best digital customer service, we should have in mind the following:

  • By automating different tasks to improve customer experience, we ensure that our marketing team can dedicate the right amount of time to develop necessary marketing strategies and create personalized content which will satisfy the needs of different groups of customers we may have
  • By offering both traditional and new digital channels of communications, we leave customers with a choice to reach out to us in ways they find most convenient, while getting used to new, self-service digital channels
  • By focusing on the data and improvement of digital pain points, we are able to provide an excellent multichannel customer experience