April, 2013

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Keep Your Customers Coming Back with a Customer Loyalty Program

Keep Your Customers Coming Back with a Customer Loyalty Program

5 Easy Ideas for Creating a Loyalty Program for Customers

In today’s economic climate has small business owners are stretched thin trying to find new customers and retain current customers at the same time. Customer service has become a full-time job for most small business owners. How do I reach new customers? What social media tactics should I be using in my business? How do I keep my current customers from going somewhere else? How do I get my current customers to refer my business to others?

We all have customer loyalty or reward cards in our wallets, whether is it CVS, Best Buy or some other retailer, but how can a service provider, solopreneur or small business create a customer loyalty program?

  • Use your email provider: Instead of having customer sign up for monthly newsletter, have prospects sign up for a customer loyalty program though your email provider.

Send out email offering free reports, webinars, podcasts, articles, discounts and other promotions available only to subscribers.

  • Use a Membership Widget on Your Blog or Website: Add a membership area to your blog where only members will have access to premium content.

Add special webinars, teleseminars, ecourses, seminar events, discounts, articles, eBooks, and other promotional items. 

  • Facebook Fan Pages: Create a Facebook fan page for your company and offer members content that is not available on your blog or website.

You can offer events to attend, videos, articles, promotions, discounts, information on seminars, ecourses, webinars, podcasts and much more.

  • Points Program: Create a program for customers where they are rewarded points for each purchase or referral, think frequent flier programs. Create a catalog where they can redeem the points for valued gifts.

You can offer free webinars, workbooks, books, teleseminars, consultations, promotional items, tickets, magazine subscriptions, whatever you can think of that will be of value to your current customers.

  • Blog Commenter’s: Use blog commenting software that gives points to readers when they leave comments. Let the reader’s know at the end of each posts that you will be sending a free gift to the commenter with the most comments each week, month or whatever deadline you choose, just don’t make it to infrequent.

You can give away free reports, eBooks, consultations, white papers or whatever item that related to your business that can be delivered electronically. Don’t forget to announce the winner.

How can Businesses put Customer Loyalty Programs to Work for Their Businesses?

Let’s look at a few ways that professional businesses can use loyalty programs:

Professional Coaches: You run a professional coaching business and decide to set up a free customer loyalty program. You begin by creating a landing page explaining the loyalty program to prospects and a sign-up form. You tell them all the benefits of signing up for the loyalty program which could include such benefits as free coaching sessions, discounted coaching sessions, free eBooks and workbooks, free worksheets, articles, webinars, and discounts on books, eBooks, and special reports. You send members an email monthly with links to the specials that you are offering and not available to general readers of your blog or visitors to your website.

Financial Planners: You decide to set up a membership site on your website or blog. Prospects sign up to become members to receive special member benefits. You offer members access to site by logging into the restricted area for members only where they read industry reports, company research, worksheets, educational information and forums. You then notify members though email that new products are available at the membership site.

Author: You decide to set up a Facebook fan page for your books. You are about to release a new book and you want to promote your book and get others to promote you book. You can add sample chapters, podcasts of you reading from your books, post book signing events, hold a contest to win a free book, and hold a contest to people to name characters in your next new book. The possibilities are endless, you could create an online novel where once a week you add a new chapter or create a novel where you begin the novel and have people submit the next chapter every month. You could post the winner’s chapter or you could also have members vote on the chapter that they like the most and post the chapter with the post votes as the winning chapter and ask members to post the next chapter.

Retail Store: You own a small online and offline women’s boutique and you want to increase your customer’s loyalty and get them to spend more often. You decide to set up a customer reward card and customers can swipe the card in the store or enter their customer number when they purchase online. You can reward customer by offering customer only sales, discount coupons, free shipping, in-store events and promotional items, the possibilities are almost endless.

Why set up a Loyalty Program?

Loyalty programs allow you stay top of mind with clients. By offering rewards that are of high value to customers you will give them incentive to due business with you and not your competitors. Don’t forget to offer referral rewards to encourage customers to refer others to your business.

Loyalty programs offer your business these benefits:

  • Targeting: Loyalty programs offer businesses the opportunity to target people are willing to become active participants in your marketing programs and helps moves the prospects through the sales funnel into becoming clients.
  • Engagement: Loyalty programs allow businesses to engage members and learn what they are interested in learning and buying. Engagement allows business owners to target prospects with offers that will appeal to them because they have creating an ongoing community involvement with the prospect. Engagement helps the build trust and loyalty among members.
  • Conversion: Loyalty programs that build trust and loyalty among members leads to increased sales conversion among members. The members already know and trust your products and are more willing to purchase your products.

All you have to do now is decide on what type of loyalty program you want to create. What you want to accomplish and how you will implement the loyalty program.

Your Turn:

Do you currently have a loyalty program for your business?

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Marketing and PR for the Professional Services Firms

Blogging for Business Growth

Image via Flickr by Richard Masoner

Understanding Your Picture Perfect Ideal Blog Reader

Understanding Your Picture Perfect Ideal Blog Reader

Do You Know Who Your Ideal Blog Reader Is?

You have created a blog for your business but how much thought have you given to what your ideal blog reader is like? What they want? How they will feel after reading your blog posts? What you want them to do after visiting your blog?

How would you describe your ideal blog reader?

When it comes to attracting your ideal readers to your blog you should be able create a picture in your mind as you describe them. You should be able to tell if they read your blog at work or home. How much time do they spend learning about the topic? What they are looking for when they reach your site and what is their current knowledge level?

Do you know?

When creating a description of your ideal reader here are some questions to answer:

1.) What is your reader’s demographic information?

  • Where do they live?
  • Are they married?
  • What is their annual income?
  • Are they male or female?
  • How old are they?
  • Do they have children?
  • What is their education level?

2.) What is their job and level of seniority?

  • In what industry to they work.
  • Are they the decision maker?
  • If not, do they influence the decisions maker/s?

 3.) What does a day in their life look like?

  • What brings them joy?
  • Do they spend more time at work or home?
  • Who are the people in their life that matter most?
  • What kind of car do they drive?
  • What TV shows do they watch?
  • What radio stations do they listen?
  • What publications do they read?
  • What type of clothing do they wear?
  • What associations and social networks do they belong?
  • Are they involved in their community?
  • What do they do online?
  • Are they involved in Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn?
  • What time of day do they read your blog?
  • Are they religious?
  • Are they conservative or liberal?
  • Do they have special hobbies?
  • Do they travel, where, how often?
  • Do they have pets, if so what kind?

4.) What are their pain points?

  • What do they worry about?
  • How do their problems affect their day-to-day life?
  • What challenges do they face?

 5.) What do they value most?

  •  What are their goals?
  •  What are they striving to attain?
  •  What does it mean to be successful?

 6.) Where do they go for information?

  • Do they go online when looking for information?
  • Do they talk to co-workers, friends, family or industry experts?
  • Do they read reviews, testimonials or case studies
  • How do they like to consume information, articles, books, audio, or video?
  • Whom do they trust the most?
  • What blogs do they already read?
  • How much knowledge do they currently have about your topic?

 7.) What experience are they looking for when reading your blog?

  • What do they hope to gain from your blog?
  • Do they expect to be entertained, informed or educated?
  • Do they know what they are expected to do after reading your blog?
  • What topics are compelling to them?
  • What type of articles thrill them?

 8.) What are some common reasons that readers do not return to your blog?

  • Are your blog posts too long or short?
  • Are they having a hard time trusting your authority on the subject?
  • Are there other blogs that are providing better information?
  • Are you not providing the information in the format that they most desire?
  • Does your blog lack uniqueness?
  • Are you speaking their lingo? Are you too casual or technical?

9.) How will I know if I have reached my ideal readers?

  • Look at your blogs analytics. How much time are they spending on your site? How many pages are they reading?
  • How many comments are you receiving on your blog?
  • Are they sharing your content?

How to Find Information about Your Blog Readers:

  • Send out a survey to your email subscribers and offer a free gift to those that respond
  • Read the profiles of people who have liked your Facebook page
  • Read the profiles of the people in your network on LinkedIn
  • Ask them on your blog to tell them about themselves

In order to create profiles of your ideal readers you need to understand as much about your ideal readers as possible. The answers to the types of questions above are not always available, but answering as many of the questions as possible will help you to build a relationship to your ideal reader and understand what they are interested in reading and how to connect with them.

Once you have obtained as much information as possible, add a real photo to represent your ideal reader. You may need to create several reader profiles, but not too many, 2-4 should be a good amount.

When you begin to write your blog post, write with one of your readers in mind. Make sure to reference some of the things that you have learned about them. If you know that this reader loves dogs, include a dog story, reference or picture.

Your Turn:

Do you know who your ideal blog reader is?

Have you created a profile of your ideal blog reader?

How to Use Content to Turn Readers into Prospects

How to Use Content to Turn Readers into Prospects

The name of the game these days is information and it is everywhere.

Are you creating enough informative, educational content on your site to attract readers and turn them into prospects?

What do I mean by this?

The internet has changed the way that people search for information when trying to solve a problem. Now we turn to our favorite search engine, type in a few works and wait a minute for the results. We scroll the listing, click on the links and check out the websites listed. In a few minutes, we can evaluate a company, anytime of the day, at our own leisure without ever having to actually contact the company and talk to anyone.

Now the key to search engine marketing is being listing within the top three pages, because research has shown that most people do not look beyond the first three pages.

They are looking for information and looking for the site that provides the information they need. They will look at a number of sites and if the site has lots of content, they will stay around and read what is available.

However, you want to turn readers into prospects, right?

So how do you turn readers into prospects? Well you want readers to do one or more of several things that shows a true interest in what you have to say and offer.

  • Sign up for your rss feed
  • Subscribe to your newsletter
  • Become a fan of your Facebook page
  • Follow you on Twitter
  • Post comments on your blog
  • Invite you into their network on LinkedIn

However, even at this stage they are still readers, but on their way to becoming prospects and hopefully clients.

Now you want to get them fully engaged.

How do you do this?

By providing readers useful information in a variety of formats, such as:

  • Blog posts
  • Webinars
  • Podcasts
  • Presentations
  • Videos
  • EBooks
  • White Papers

How do you know what they want and how they want it?

Ask them.

  • Try running polls on your blog, website, Facebook page or LinkedIn profile.
  • Send out a survey to your newsletter subscribers
  • Ask them on your blog, Facebook page or LinkedIn groups

Ask them what they want to know and how they want to receive their information. Although videos and audio is popular, the written word remains the most popular form of information gathering.

Do they want blog posts, eBooks, podcasts, videos, webinars or presentations? Find out and see how many of ways you can present your information.

What other ways can help you turn readers into prospects?

Show readers that you can help them solve their problem. Remember it is all about them, not you.

Offer:

 

  • Case studies

 

  • Online portfolio
  • Testimonials
  • Free consultations
  • Trial offers

Use Google analytics to see how people are accessing your information. Track what they read, download, pages they enter on and exit pages. Analyze what pages they spend the most time reading, where they go once they read that page.

Don’t forget to put a contact form on your website so that readers can contact you. Make it easy for them to contact you. Respond quickly.

No matter what business you are in. Potential customers want to know that you have the answers that they need, content shows that you do.

Your Turn:

Are you providing enough content to turn readers into prospects?

 

 

Have You Set a Goal for Your Business Blog?

Set a Goal for Your Blog

You started a blog for your business. So what? Now what? What were you expecting to have happen after you started your blog? Did you think that readers would just show up? Automatically start buying your products? Call you to schedule appointments? Sing praises and worship you?

Whether you are already blogging or thinking about setting up a blog for your business, you must know what you want to accomplish with your blog.

You must have a goal for your blog.

Blogging is no different from creating and executing a business or marketing plan, you need to have a clear goal and plan for your blog. You need to know what you are working towards.

This doesn’t have to be hard or complicated but it should be a defined goal, something that you can measure and track.

Instead of saying that I want to create traffic for my blog, say that you want to draw in 5000 readers every month to your blog.

Begin with just one goal in mind.

What do you want to achieve with your blog and why?

Let’s say that your goal is to increase traffic to you blog, why do you want to increase traffic?

Are you trying to?

  • Grow your email list
  • Sell your products or services
  • Increase members to your membership site
  • Book more appointments
  • Showcase your expertise
  • Increase speaking engagements
  • Generate more leads
  • Build relationships
  • Create brand awareness

Take the time to think through what your goal is and what you ultimately want to achieve, before you think about your audience, topics or tactics you will use, know why you are blogging.

 

Create a plan to stay on the upswing of blogging

image via flicker by Jeremiah Owyang

Blogging can be everything that you dreamed.

It can:

  • Build awareness for your business
  • Generate tons of leads
  • Build relationships with prospects and current customers
  • Sell your products or services
  • Have hundreds of comments
  • Turn you into an expert
  • Have the media contacting you
  • Win you awards

Research shows that companies that publish new blog posts just 1-2 times per month generate 70% more leads than companies that don’t blog at all.

Blogging can also break your heart if you don’t have a goal and plan to achieve your goal.

Believe me I understand how hard it is sometimes to constantly create new content for your blog. Every time you turn around there’s a new social network to join or technique to try that is supposed to help you gain readers.

You join them and try them, but you are not gaining readers.

Sometimes you just want to give up, but don’t, admittedly, it takes hard work and perseverance to keep blogging when readers are not showing up but hang in there they will come. You first step is to know why you are blogging.

You can do it

image via Flickr by John Sutton

Now is the time to decide what you want from your blog. What do you want to achieve?

Your Task:

Are you thinking about starting a business blog?

Are you already blogging for your business?

Think about what your goal is and why you have chosen that goal. What do you ultimately want from your blog?