Mobile App-etite: How to Make an App People Love

Mobile apps are a bit like dating. Their are millions of options out there, but only a few are worth it. If you have an iPhone, Android or iPad you probably have 20+ apps on it right now – but how many do you really use? If you’re anything like me, you have an iPhone full of apps and weed out approximately 10 per month to make room for the new crop.

So how can a brand make an app that people are dying to download, and more importantly, keep!?

The answer is simple really, in fact you probably already know what it is. It’s that same strategy that you use to manage your business, and more specifically, your customers. The answer is to give people exactly what they want – no, what they can’t live without. Information and/or entertainment that they use and share.

Here’s a quick example of what many businesses do, but shouldn’t:

An accounting firm who sees that apps are the “next big thing” decide that they need to buy a seat on the gravy train. So they build an app that tells the world about their amazing services, has an easy to view interface and even has a nifty contact button for when you have an accounting emergency”. 

Now, I mean no disrespect if there are any accounting firms out there that have done this; but it is simply wrong to assume that you can build the next big thing without a little creativity and a lot of research.

So lets take the same accounting firm and put a little thought into their app endeavor:

Said accounting firm has a second chance. This time they think of what the public really needs, and how a little ol’ accounting firm can improve their daily life. This time they build an app that helps small business owners manage their day to day finances. Their app allows them to enter in their yearly, monthly and daily goals. It also allows them to enter in their actual daily number and remind them how far from or over their goal they are. They can track these numbers and export them into a nice, neat spreadsheet to send to their accountant for quarterly taxes. Also, just to give users a little icing on the cake, the app will also give them push notifications sent by the firm letting them know tips on how to keep their finances in line and plan for inventory emergencies, payroll, etc.

So you can see the difference, the first is basically an informational website that no one will use – mostly because they will just go to the website – while the second is something that small business owners can use for years to help manage cash flow and plan ahead.

Developing a mobile app can mean repeat business for small and large businesses, but only if it’s done correctly. Think about what people need, then build them a nimble app that can point them in the right direction – preferably in the direction of your company.

7 Reasons Email Marketing Is Still Worth Every Minute

With the ridiculously fast growth of social media, many people have begun to count out the power of email marketing on acquiring more business. There are several very important reasons email marketing isn’t dying.

People are already interested

People that sign up for your email lists are interested in what you have to offer; whether it’s a free gift, first dibs on product info or just really interesting content. They are going into it knowing that they will receive emails from you. With the battle for attention all across the Internet, getting someone to sign up to receive emails from you is a huge win.

It is extremely customizable

Facebook posts are limited to images, videos, links and text – no customizable sizes, graphics, and buttons. Twitter is limited to around 140 characters of text and links. Email however usually has the full capability of html, which means that you can change the graphics, embed images, videos and buttons, and place them wherever you want. You can change the sizing as your marketing team sees fit. There is a ton of customization that you don’t have with social media.

There is no distraction

Email is very direct. If someone opens your email, they are looking at only your email. Not a feed of tweets about sports, business news and deals. Not a page full of pin boards with delicious food and motivational quotes. They are looking at whatever you have to say, even for a split second. So make sure you put a lot of thought into it.

Exclusivity

When people signup for an email list, it’s often because they get access to something that they would not normally have access to. Maybe they get a free gift. Maybe they get access to a membership website. Maybe they get tips sent to their email everyday. Being on an email list is like being in a club, and if they see enough benefit to your club, they will remain members for a long time.

People still purchase a ton directly from emails

A study conducted by Custora, an e-commerce analytics company, shows that customer acquisition from email marketing has quadrupled over the past 4 years. That’s pretty impressive with all the social media talk crowding the digital space. This shows that people are seeing and hearing the messages put out in emails, and it is triggering them to make a purchase.

Email is amplified by Social Media

One of the main reasons that email marketing has grown over the past 4 years is that brands have learned how organic search, social media and email marketing work together as an effective customer acquisition “channel”. Think of the last time you bought something online. Where did you first hear about the online retailer? Was it a Google Ad, a promoted Facebook post or maybe a banner ad on a website. Maybe you saw it a bunch of times before you decided to click over to the website – there you were prompted to signup for the email list to receive 10% off your first purchase. This is a common road that many online customers take to get to a purchase. Take note.

Baby Boomers know how to buy stuff from email

While social commerce is growing and no doubt will be a major player in the coming years – it just doesn’t command a large percentage of e-commerce yet. There is not a large presence of baby boomers (or those approaching) using social media to make purchases. There are however, a lot of baby boomers signed up to receive coupons and specials via email. They are used to this and have been growing with this method of buying online for years – don’t downplay this demographic.

Moral of the story, just because the buzzword is “social media” doesn’t mean you should forget the keyword “email marketing”. Research your customers, develop a plan and get more sales – or hire someone who can.

Resources: http://blog.custora.com/custora-content/uploads/downloads/2013/06/Custora_EcommSnapshot_2013_Q2.pdf

Top 3 Ways to Grow Your Business

With all the sales, marketing and advertising options out there, how do you know what will really help your business grow and prosper? Our friends at Qualified Merchant used their 20+ years experience in business finance, and came up with 3 of the most effective ways that their clients have grown their business.

[Original published email series from Qualified Merchant]

1. Unbelievable Customer Service

Train your staff to love your customers as much as you do. This can be done effectively by letting your employees know what is at stake. Not only does their employment rely on satisfied customers continuing to do business with you, but also they should be rewarded for going above and beyond to help out a customer in distress. Gone are the days when employees that do a satisfactory job will keep your business running. Customer expect more, therefore businesses need to give more – so employees that show exceptional customer services should be shown that they are valuable.

Ask for customer feedback. Many companies are reluctant to ask for customer feedback for fear of receiving a bad review. Asking for feedback is powerful in two ways: (1) It shows people that you care what they think and that you are willing to make the necessary changes to improve your services to them (2) if there is negative feedback, it gives you the chance to show them (and others) that you care by making things right – and in turn extending that customers “purchasing life” with your business.

Host parties for your customers. Show your customers that you love them and want them to be happy. Go beyond the typical holiday party and host a holiday party inviting them and their friends. This will get more people in the door and keep them thinking about you.

2. Solid Marketing Plan

Plan weekly. Planning ahead is necessary, but things change so quickly these days that planning in too much detail too far ahead may be a waste of time. Have you long term marketing goals set, but sit down and plan your week while making necessary changes. If one marketing effort is failing, change it, or get rid of it completely.

Make a calendar. In our fast paced digital world, it is easy to be over whelmed with marketing platforms. Create a calendar to ensure that you and your employees stay on track with Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. Likewise, make sure your staff knows when TV, radio and print advertisements are running so they are not caught off-guard when a customer stops in with a coupon or asking about a particular deal.

Create a budget. Even if it’s a small one, plan what you can afford to spend on marketing and go full throttle with it until you see what works. Mistakes hold value and will only educate you.

3. Proactive Business Development

Build strategic relationships. Develop business relationships with companies whose customers might buy from both of you. You are providing these customers with more solutions than one of you alone typically could – they won’t forget.

Use LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a powerful tool to reach out to potential business professionals and can lead to profitable relationships. Shoot a message to someone on LinkedIn and offer to take him or her out for coffee.

Attend networking events. There is no better place to meet people to do business with than an event where everyone is looking to make relationships. Ask your local chamber or an industry organization where they are hosting upcoming event. Make sure you bring lots of business cards and practice your elevator speech.

Using these strategies can effectively grow your business into a trusted, customer-focused, industry leader. Now get going and open the flood gates to tons of new customers!

14 Reasons Digital Marketing is a Better Investment

Digital Marketing is no longer its own segment of advertising and marketing, it is integrated into the mix as a major player that has blown past it’s traditional counterparts TV, radio and print. While traditional marketing still has high value with many brands, digital marketing can help the smallest startup grow into a giant brand. Here is why:

Ability to create an experience

One of the best ways to draw a potential customer to love your brand is to create an unforgettable experience. The digital space allows you to create mobile apps that are useful for people and show them that you are helpful. It offers platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest to make your followers laugh, cry and get motivated through pictures, videos and posts. The digital space has unlimited potential to create and mold unique experiences for people, bringing them to say, “Wow, this is cool, I will follow that.”

YouTube vs. TV

YouTube has 171 million American monthly visitors, and is free – plus you can embed videos on your website, Facebook, Twitter and every other social media network that you use. Your local TV station might be lucky to have 400,000 viewers a month and will probably cost you upward of $10,000 to get good coverage. You do the math.

Cross-promotional opportunity

A great way to get your brand in front of oodles of viewers is to tap into the customers of other businesses. By establishing relationships with businesses in industries that run parallel with yours, you can potentially “share” customers and cross promote. These relationships can increase brand awareness and hopefully sales for both companies. If nurtured and developed, these business relationships can result in years of fruitful earnings.

Business development from your fingertips

Digital marketing positions your brand in front of an array of different eyeballs. But an underestimated feature of social media and blogging is business development. Just as your high paid BD employees do in person, you have the ability to reach out and connect with other professionals in your industry via LinkedIn, blogs or Twitter. The first step is to research potential relationships and reach out; but for these connections to prove valuable, you need to develop them into face-to-face opportunities.

Potential for greater frequency

It is reported that it takes 7 times for a person to see an ad for it to register and potentially take action. With the hundreds of different digital platforms to show people what makes your brand special, these 7 “views” can happen a lot more often, and a lot quicker than with non-digital platforms.

Low-cost advertising

You can definitely succeed without spending money on digital advertising; but if you have the budget buying ad space can be incredibly effective and low-cost. Facebook advertising can be done for a couple hundred bucks a week. Google ads are a bit more but affordable compared to traditional advertising. Paid advertising can get you space in front of the right kind of eyes. There are hundreds of different ways to buy advertising online; from sponsored content, to banner ads, to rich media ads – there is value in all of them depending on your goals. The best part is they are almost always more cost effective and efficient than traditional advertising.

Instant analytics

Traditional advertising success such as TV, print, billboard and radio is extremely hard to measure. Most likely you will try to ask your customers where they heard of you, and log answers into your marketing spreadsheet. With digital marketing, you can track clicks, purchases, likes, shares, views and a boatload of other analytics to measure your success. And to top it off you can make instant changes based on the feedback.

Targeted reach

You could reach 200,000 local viewers (or more) with a TV commercial. How do you know if they are looking at the TV when your commercial comes on? How do you know they are in your target demographic of 18-25 year old basket weavers? It will be tough to track sales. If you run a low-cost Facebook Promoted Post you could reach thirty 20-year-old basket weavers and get 10 sales from it; all of which you tracked with your analytics.

More agile marketing

What are the consequences if you film an entire commercial and realize the actor had a booger in his nose? Simple, you reshoot another $20,000 commercial. What happens if you put a Pinterest “pin” up that has a letter missing? Simpler, you delete, add the letter, and repost.

Instant engagement

As stated earlier, it takes a reported 7 times for someone to view an ad before they take action. In a weekly newspaper, that means 7 weeks. For a billboard that someone drives by once a day, that means 7 days. On TV that means a sh*tload of money spent on airtime.  Digitally, this could be done across 7 platforms in 1 hour. (Note: you do have to get fans on multiple networks for this to be possible, or buy ads)

Multiple levels of engagement

With social media and blogging you can target people for different levels of engagement. For instance you might want people to click on a link from a blog post to buy a product. Or maybe you just want people to see a picture with the date of an upcoming concert. Maybe you want people to share a promotion in order to get new customers. Or maybe you just want everyone to “like” your post so that more people will read it. Social media and digital marketing allows multiple levels of engagement thus giving you more control over user view-ability.

It’s up forever

This is an easy one. If you lease billboard space it’s up for a few months, then it’s gone; and who knows who has seen it. If you post a single Facebook post, it’s up forever and you can keep re-posting it periodically to engage more people.

The ability to tag

Tagging posts, tweets and messages has changed the way people search for things on the Internet. You want to know all about the hottest styles out now? Type #style, #mensstyle or #womensstyle into Google, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or Tumblr and you will instantly get a glimpse of the hottest styles from around the globe. This ability to tag posts gives brands the opportunity to do two things: (1) nudge customers to check out services or products with branded tags (2) search existing tags to find and engage new customers.

“Share-ability”

I vote this the “most valuable player” in the game of digital marketing. The “shareability” of social media exponentially increases the viewership of your posts, allowing other peoples network’s to see them. For example, people can share pictures of your favorite restaurant, or taking your son to a game featuring his favorite team, or videos of you playing golf at a travel destination with your brand new clubs. The ability to share content serves as a testimonial for the shared brand – it says, “I like this, you should try it too”.