Business Marketing Tools Explained: What Are Autoresponders?

emailingWe create email Autoresponders on a regular basis because they’re a brilliant marketing tool. But so many people ask us what an Autoresponder actually is and why it makes sense for marketing your business.

Autoresponders are more than just those out of office replies you get when you email someone sometimes.  They’re automated emails that start based on a defined event.

This means that when your customer does something (an event), the autoresponder sends an email or a series of emails.  Examples include joining a mailing list – triggers a welcome message.  Or buys something online – triggers an upsell offer.

Simple, you might say. Yes, Autoresponders are simple in concept, but they bring you more marketing possibilities than you may realise…

Instant Response Autoresponder

You can set an Autoresponder to simply respond when an action (the trigger)  is performed (like receiving an email). This is great for small tasks like “out of office” notices and “thank you” emails after a customer buys a product or service. However, this side of Autoresponders doesn’t quite go as far as you need it to.  It’s just a single message with no follow-through.

Delayed Response Autoresponder

Autoresponders can be delayed to appear a few hours, days, weeks or even months after the trigger has been activated. These are useful for time sensitive reminders such as warranty expiry and account subscription top-ups.

We got asked by a mortgage broker who negotiates interest rate deals with banks for her clients – she wants to send them a reminder 11 months or 23 months after each rate fix so the client has 30 days to get back in touch with her to fix another interest rate deal for them.

Multiple Autoresponders

A neat little trick with Autoresponders is to make them trigger off of each other in a series. This allows you to build a message that is progressive.  Examples include training workshops and stories.

For example, perhaps you want to teach a customer how to use your service that they subscribed to online – you can set up a series of Autoresponders that trigger one week after each other, with each Autoresponder email covering a different part of your service. Yes they can unsubscribe and yes maybe not everyone would read them. However it increases those odds of a customer picking them up and making the most of your service, which increases your customer engagement and satisfaction.

The Strengths & Weaknesses of Autoresponders

Autoresponders work best as a marketing tool when they are integrated with other promotional activities. But they can do so much more than people realise. Here’s a list of their strengths and weaknesses that might lead you in the right direction if you’re thinking of using them.

Core Strengths…

  • Autoresponders are automated – So once you’ve set them up you don’t need to worry about them at all. They’ll run on their own and continue to spread your information and push your sales pitches long after you’ve finishing creating it. This makes them more reliable than a human!  All those times you’ve forgotten to send emails could have lost you business.
  • Autoresponders are simple – Essentially just emails that can tie together or answer specific customer questions on the fly, they don’t take much of your time to set up and yet help you correspond with many more customers without having to lift a finger.

Core Weaknesses…

  • Autoresponders are made of rigid content –  You can change them once they’re up but they’ll only change for people that sign up to receive the Autoresponder after you changed it.  That being said, you need to create each Autoresponder with a specific goal in mind and align it to that goal.
  • Autresponders aren’t individualised – Personalisation is possible – but it’ll just be <insert name> database personalisation.  Real individually customised messages are out of the question. While you can do the basic [firstname] [lastname] customisation fields, you will not be sending these emails yourself so won’t be communicating with the receiver directly. One way to respond to this is to add a manual, personalised thank you whenever you get a new subscriber.

So go out there and discover ways to integrate Autoresponders into marketing for your business. Need help? Feel free to contact us for a complimentary chat or use our training resources below for detailed examples and different structures of autoresponders…

 

Your guide to Autoresponders: learn how you can use Autoresponders to grow your business


See an Autoresponder in action: An Autoresponder about Autoresponders

What’s the best way to introduce my business by email?

We get asked this a lot and the short answer is that it must be part of a wider marketing / business development plan.  BUT Chalkwardwithin that context here’s our recommendation.

The best way to introduce a company to new buyers using email is this.

  1. Research potential businesses by browsing their websites and finding the names of people who work there. Cross-check the names using Linked In and build a spreadsheet database of prospects.
  2. Write a bespoke introduction email to the recipient which demonstrates you have researched their business and understand their needs. It should not be about sales. The first approach is about research and finding out more about them. Aim to set a time to speak on phone/Skype to find out more.
  3. For those who do not respond. Plan a second email with a gentle reminder of your interest in their business. Ask them to pass the message to the correct person if they are not dealing with suppliers.
  4. If they do not reply, add them to your mailing list and start to send regular, short, informative messages which will help their business (may include some sales messages, but very few).
  5. If you can afford it, send a postal mailing individually to each business with some collateral, samples or testimonials as a follow up. Again, invite them to connect with you by telephone/Skype.

The deep skill lies in writing that first, well-researched email.  It needs to be short, engaging and to create a desire to learn more from the reader.  If you work in B2C this is not a practical solution unless you are a startup, because it’s too time consuming.

Creative Agency Secrets provides email copywriting services, and training to teach your team how to write and execute email introduction programmes.

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decision tree for creative agency services

Can you help us test our new “decision tree”?

We’ve changed our website home page.  It’s now got a new graphic of an apple and orange there.

Behind this is a cunning “decision tree”.

What happens next?

Please help us test it out by visiting our home page and clicking on the image (or by clicking on the image below) and see what you discover.

Please send us your feedback! It’s a new technology we’re trying and want to hear your thoughts.

Thank you

decision tree for creative agency services

Could you use a similar device on  your website to help guide your prospective customers through your services and products?

 

This is the second one we’ve done – the first was for FeedBlitz – they use it to help readers understand the FeedBlitz services for RSS delivery for email, feeds, podcasts as an alternative to FeedBurner.

FeedBlitz leaves FeedBurner standing

Leave FeedBurner

How to be an accountant of the future – an interview with Rob Nixon

We caught up with Rob Nixon business manager turned business training extraordinaire for accountants. He trains accountants and helps firms function and transition to success in this hectic world of progress. Here are his thoughts on the current state of accounting and what it says about the future of it…

What is the most important business improvement Accounting firms today can make?

Rob started off by saying “The biggest thing accounting firms can do is actually speak to their clients…proactively”. He emphasized that “accountants around the world are awesome at waiting” and that “most accountants are history writers, not history makers”. In Rob’s mind, this is the #1 thing accountants can change today to achieve better business success.

He recommends “20 meetings per partner per month” to “find out where the client is at, what they’re doing, what their plans are”. Each meeting “starts off as a customer service meeting but ends up being a sales meeting”. It’s important to ask each client “where are you now, where do you want to go, and let’s show you how we can possible help you get there”.

What is the most detrimental business action often made by Accounting firms today?

Relating to our first question, Rob feels that “being reactive and waiting is the worst thing an accounting firm can do today”. Now this is where our interview got incredibly interesting. Rob stated that there are 3 core disruptors to the accounting industry today:

  • The internet – everyone is becoming an expert and has access to loads of information.
  • Computed accounting – pre-built accounting software is reducing the need for physical accountants.
  • And overseas business/ offshored outsourcing – cheap labour is more readily available.

These factors make many of the core offerings of the average accountant redundant, and the worst thing to do about it, is wait and react to it. The solution? Be proactive. Identify the changes, explore what opportunities your firm can take advantage of, and pursue them early!

What is the key purpose of CoachingClub(TM) and what makes it such a successful tool?

The CoachingClub is a training strategy for accountants that’s covered in 3 ways:

  • Seminars & conferences –
  • Online tools, resources software –
  • Coaching club program – 8 accounting firms in a room at any 1 time, learning and being pushed to accountability so as to take action upon what they learn. This project has served over 800 firms across the the 8 years it has been running!

Do you feel Accounting firms today adopt the digital world enough?

We think not, and Rob gladly joined us by saying “no they’re not adopting it ENOUGH!”. And there’s a reason for this. Rob laid out for us the fact that the digital world is inevitably taking over. He said “accountants can’t stop this happening so need to embrace it”. In Rob’s point of view (and rightly so) there is no real time dependency on when accountants embrace the digital world, because that day has past.

5. How do you see the future of technology and rise of the digital format affecting accounting?

Rob explained how technology is already starting to automate jobs for accountants in a big way. They’re being forced to be more innovative and forward thinking, or suffer losing customers. Accountants in the workplace will start being valued for these important traits that add value to customers as well, so it’s not just firms that are affected.

An example that Rob produced for us was project Watson, producing “Siri for business”. This project by Apple and IBM saw $2 billion pumped into it to create a super computer that takes the world’s information and processes it, then spits it out in a concise manner. They’re combining this with Siri to create “Siri for business” so that when you have a business concern, you can simply ask Siri! That’s free advice, and could trump personal accounting advice. So simple business advice and reactive solutions are not the future of accounting as far as Rob can see it. Being proactive could just be the true future of accountants.

Rob’s resources for accountants

Rob and his associated groups offer a host of free and paid services design to support and train accountants and their businesses.

  • http://robnixon.com/ offers free advice and resources for accountants through Rob’s own personal blog.
  • http://proactiveaccountants.net/ brings accountants free tools and resources, while connecting accountants accross the world.
  • http://mypanalytics.com/ is a service to help accountants “create the conversations [they] need to be conducting with clients around relevant metrics”. There’s a free trial available!

And be sure to look out for his book later in November of 2014 titled “Remaining Relevant”. His first book, “Accounting Practices Don’t Add Up” is also available via his website.

A big thanks to Rob Nixon for joining to do this interview while offering his wealth of knowledge and expertise to accountants the world over.

The Creative Agency Secrets Team

 

Need accountancy marketing help?

Creative Agency Secrets are experts in accountancy firm marketing.  We can tutor you and teach you what to do if you want to do the marketing yourself.  Or we can do the firm’s marketing for you.

Learn more and join our free Accountants Marketing Newsletter

Email Preferences check box

Email unsubscribe best practice

Today I had a raft of emails from which I wanted to unsubscribe.  It happens.  But the experience was so variable between the different service providers that it’s worthy of a blog post.

Box.com

Box came up first – I don’t use the service and so why are they writing to me.

Box.com dumb unsubscribe

Box dumb unsubscribe

Hit unsubscribe.

They use Eloqua for email distribution and I have to type in my address in order to unsubscribe.

Not good.  You know my address, therefore you should have it pre-populated.

New Breed Marketing

New Breed Marketing came up next – an event in a country where I don’t

Email Preferences check box

Email Preferences check box

live – I won’t go and I don’t want more invites to events that I can’t attend.

Hit unsubscribe.

They use Hubspot for email distribution and I find that I can update my email ‘preferences’ and select to only get their blog posts by email.  Perfect!

Check your own set-up by subscribing to your mail list (I always do this for our clients) and see what your unsubscribe experience is like.  Don’t want to annoy customers.

Write your new business development year plan with us

What’s the best way to market my business to get more paying customers?

The answer, is a new business development plan.  That’s a month by month chart of activities.  It includes proactive marketing that builds up your business profile which leads to enquiries which become sales.  It’s a continuous cycle.

Join us for in a business development workshop to write your own plan.  

This workshop is for business owners and managers who are responsible for finding new clients and growing revenues.  It will show you the practical, tried and tested techniques that the Creative Agency Secrets team uses for its clients.

Eventbrite - Write your new business development year plan with Creative Agency Secrets

You will learn:

  1. How to create a unique company profile.
  2. A check list of marketing activities .
  3. New business pipeline analysis and tracking template.
  4. What you need to do to get better known in your industry.
  5. Learn relationship building for getting and keeping long term clients.
  6. How to spot opportunities for new business sales.
  7. The business process that delivers leads.
  8. What to measure to track progress.

And it is all compiled into a unique 12 month plan for your business.

“I thought it was great, enlightening and thoroughly enjoyed the ideas. I also appreciated all the little things that can be done and those things that don’t take money but have a big impact. It was great and I thoroughly would recommend it to all business owners looking to expand business online.Julie Soboil, co-owner, Hushamok

The business session with you was very good – reinforced my thinking but was given expert and very helpful and thoughtful information for me to digest.Dr. Helen Mitchell, Managing Director, Anti-Aging World

Each attendee will take home a high level plan for their business – planned through the year with month by month activities.

You will walk out at the end of the day (29th of August) with a plan lasting twelve months, bespoke to the needs of your business.  These plans work – we use them all the time for our clients – so the method is tried, tested and very adaptable to YOUR business needs.

This is your chance to get top flight advice without the price.

Be Quick – there’s a BONUS OFFER for early bird subscribers on the event page.  We are very much looking forward to welcoming you.

Kickstart your business for biz dev success with Creative Agency Secrets 

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Google Analytics Keyword Workaround

Google Analytics Workaround Keyword MenuWith more people opting for anonymous website browsing it is becoming increasingly harder to see how users find your site – in particular, which keywords they searched with.

Inside your Google Analytics you can see which search terms prospects are using to find your website by going to Acquisition -> Keywords -> Organic in the left sidebar menu.

With the rise of anonymous browsing, Google Analytics can no longer provide useful and therefore accurate keyword search data. You’ll more than likely see the majority of your keyword searches is “(Not provided)”.

This situation is getting worse month by month as we track the analytics for our website.

By following these steps, we can show you a workaround which will remove the dreaded “Not Provided” data and give you greater insight into how visitors are finding your site. Best of all, this workaround will also show you what keyword searches you are appearing in but not getting traffic from.

Google Analytics Keyword List

The Workaround For Keyword Searches

Although not a perfect replacement, Creative Agency Secrets has found a work-around which can give you a good indication of what search words and phrases your website is showing up for and which are drawing visitors.

It involves Google Webmaster Tools – You have to set this up for your website if you haven’t already.

Set up and Verify yourself and your website in Webmaster Tools – generally the easiest way is to do this with your analytics account. If this fails, Google helpfully provide short how-to’s on the other methods of verification.

Remember your site must be using the asynchronous tracking code.

Google Webmaster Tools Verification

Select the Google Analytics radio button (which can be found under the “Alternate methods” tab) and click Verify.

Now navigate to Search Traffic in the sidebar menu and select Search Queries.

Scroll down below the graph you will see a list of Queries used and the Impressions.  The main benefit of this data is you can see the Average Position your site has in search listings for each one (far right column).

We are going to show you how to send this data to your Google Analytics account but it’s worth noting that there is more accuracy in this screen as Google Analytics rounds the numbers.

Google Webmaster Tools Keywords List

Link Google Analytics To Webmaster Tools

Now re-open Google Analytics and browse to your website dashboard.

In the side menu go to Acquisition -> Search Engine Optimization -> Queries.  You will get a message advising you to enable Webmaster Tools (see screenshot below).

Set Up Google Webmaster Tools

Click the button to Set up Webmaster Tools Data sharing at the top of the page.

Leave all the settings it displays as default although you can change the fields if some are incorrect e.g. Industry Category.  At the bottom of the page the sub-heading Webmaster Tools Settings click the Edit hyperlink.

Google Webmaster Tools Data Sharing Set Up

This will bring up a list of site(s) and associated Analytics web properties.  Choose your site on the left radio button and Save.

Click OK to Add association in the next window.

Select Site To Add Link Webmaster Tools

View The Data

You’ll be directed to the Admin screen. Click Reporting in the top menu to return to GA and again go to Acquisition -> Search Engine Optimization -> Queries.

You should now see a summary graph and below it the list of keyword queries , impressions, clicks and average position of your website.

For everyday use, we find the Google Analytics summary data is fine.  But for non-rounded data, go into the Google Webmaster Tools display to get the full picture.

Note that data is normally 2 days behind on these searches compared to other metrics in Google Analytics.

ModComs pitch pack video

B2B video brochure – cool sales tool

Matt O’Neill is the Managing Director of ModComms – a company that produces The Pitch Pack, he sent us this neat video pack which business to business marketers

ModComs pitch pack video

ModComs pitch pack video

can use to open new leads.

How does PitchPack work?

The pack is a bit like a card brochure – you open it that triggers a magnetic switch which opens the power – a logo displays for a second while it warms up and then the first video plays

A typical pack has 4 videos – they come with volume controls and the larger packs have more videos on them.  Al the components are built in – from batteries, speakers to CPU.

They are encoded to Xvid format – the reason to use a specific codec is that it is lower file size with max picture quality.  A standard has 256 mg memory of which 170 is usable the rest is operating system.  so it gives about 17 minutes of video playback.

Finish watching, close it like a book and that switches it off.

In the spine there’s a little USB port you can charge the battery and uploading the videos.

If a client wants to use it the production process is firstly to design the outer pack – card wrap – using a standard Adobe Illustrator template.  The videos have to be produced and then you have all the assets.  These are sent digitally to China.  The factory sends back a prototype in digital print (not litho).  Sometimes there are small amends, it is signed off for manufacture and production.

One thing is critical is quality assurance with Chinese factories -we include two rounds of this – locally it’s checked in Shenzen and then it’s sent out and we check a few samples too.  Then we dispatch – sometimes it’s a bulk delivery, other times we do the fulfilment individually.

As part of the marketing it’s important that the telesales follow up to fix the meetings.

What types of Business use PitchPack?

It’s any B2B organisation providing a higher value product or service.  Tech companies like it, hotels, consultancies, engineering groups and some internal comms – high level changes across global senior teams.

Integration wit the sales funnel – the clients using account based marketing principles.  Some use it for the ‘door opener’ – grab attention of a senior decision maker.  It’s critical to have a structured follow up process.  Or use it as a leave-behind or a send-after to answer questions.  Salesman can film themselves on a mobile phone giving the answers and then include other videos too.  Those companies that are a bit more sophisticated and using lead scoring, for example, the score triggers sending a pack.

Personalisation – we are used to it with paper mail, but when you show the recipient that there’s an introduction just addressed to them – it’s flattering.  Anecdotally we hear it is very powerful.

Results – using a campaign with a global software company – we did a small run of 250 packs of which 240 were distributed.  They got 23 meetings with decision makers and they’ve got 4 deals with an average value of GBP250k each.  That campaign cost 5k on the packs themselves, 7k producing one video and re-used another couple of videos.  Total campaign cost 16k.

Why should our readers try the service?

Video is growing – mobile traffic about 50-70% of mobile traffic is video now.  Cisco predicts that 1/5 of the world’s population will access video online by 2016.

As a medium, video creates feelings of trust and so when brands use real people or show people doing real things curiosity is triggered.  When making video for marketing purposes don’t put everything in.  Leave them wanting more.

Confidence in the brand is built and sometimes amusement.  If you can make video for business funny you will have next to no competition because there’s so little out there.

With that popularity it’s a blessing and a curse – the competition will only get more furious.

Marshall Mcluan said the medium is the message in 60s and these packs are both – it allows people to explore video in their own time in their own way wherever they happen to be.

This is an easy differentiation tool – stand out from the crowd.  I remember in 2005 there were personalised USB sticks but now these are ubiquitous.  This type of marketing tactic is now at its 2005 moment but in 3-5 years it’ll be old hat.

If you are producing video for the pack, the content can be re-used across other media – home page, landing pages, powerpoint, email-able files.  The results are pretty tangible – looking at it in pure numbers.

2 Marketing Communications icon4 Profile raising icon6 Create Opportunities icon

Top tips for marketing Tradesmen

Are you a tradesman – plumber, electrician, carpenter, builder – and want to do some marketing to get more customers?  We had a meeting today with a new client and talked about marketing.

Tradesman image

Tradesmen [Image credit: http://internet-and-computers.com]

The 3 Marketing Tools a Tradesman business needs

There are lots of choices in marketing, but for a tradesman’s business, there are actually only 3 marketing tools they need

  1. Business cards
  2. A website
  3. A mailing list (email or postal)

Let’s run through these and how to use them

Tradesman’s business cards

Cheap to design and print, these are your number 1 marketing tool when you first start.  They should have accurate information about how to contact you printed in large type with a recognisable business name.

How tradesmen use business cards

Hand two to every customer.  One to keep and one to give to a friend.

Keep them in your wallet, in the car glove box and hand them out liberally especially if you go to a social function or belong to a networking group or business meeting group.

A tradesman’s business website

When you’ve enough cash, buy a website.  A simple 5 page site is all you need to start off.

How tradesmen use a website

It needs to have

  • a header that says your company name and phone number,
  • a home page that describes your business and the geographic area in which you work,
  • a page with your full contact details,
  • a page to describe your specialist skill,
  • a page of customer testimonials,
  • a page about you and your team.

 A tradesman’s mailing list

Once you’ve been working for a while, you will send out invoices to get clients paying you.  This is your chance to start to grow a mailing list.  This is useful because your past clients may refer you to future clients, and sending out mailshots or newsletters serves as a reminder to people about your services, and how to contact you.

How a tradesman uses a mailing list

Keep a record of every customer name, business name, address, telephone and email when you raise an invoice.  If you use an accounting software programme, it’ll save these details for you.

When you get a phone call or email enquiry for a new job, save the contact details.  Check on the phone that you have spelled their name correctly – this is particularly important for email addresses because one wrong letter and the message won’t arrive.

When you do a job quote, save the contact details.

Every month collate all these lists into one place (preferably electronic).  Save the file with an obvious name e.g. August 2014 Mailing List.  Then send out a short message to the whole list using specialist email sending software like MailChimp/AWeber/FeedBlitz. DO NOT USE your email program.  Ask me why not if you don’t know.

Put the date in your diary to send the newsletter every month for 1 year.

Stick to the schedule.

Send that mailing.

Even if it is short and has one photo of a job you’ve done (before and after photos are great), or a customer testimonial – it all adds up.  Over time you will get to having a big list.

Say you do 10 jobs a month and meet 5 new people each month who take a card.  Within 5 years you’ll have over 900 names on your list.  If you do 20 jobs a month and meet 10 new people – you get to 900 names in half the time!

 

That is it.

There are additional marketing techniques that you can add on top of the basic 3 such as outbound mail campaigns, using recommended trades services (Builders Crack, Rated People), creating website landing pages for Yellow Pages and other directory listings, customer satisfaction surveys, freebie giveaways or seasonal special offers.

But don’t do these until you have the basic 3 covered and working well.

For tradesman marketing services, call Creative Agency Secrets – outsourced marketing for busy business owners.