Xero is a hugely popular cloud accounts package that has taken much of the Intuit QuickBooks and MYOB business from SMEs worldwide.
Image via CrunchBase
Prompted by an article in Forbes about in-house marketing teams versus external agency use, I remembered a pitch we sent off to Xero.
As a customer of Xero and as a marketer, the things I think are lacking or could be enhanced primarily relate to the ease of re-using content and proactively driving it out to the right audience.
B2B comms for existing customers, in a nutshell.
Since Xero is growing internationally, they increasingly have separate user groups who should be communicated to differently – because they need different things from Xero.
Marketing suggestions – I have lots more….
After signing up, there’s nothing to drive me deeper into using the higher features of your products, unless I search.
Apart from support issues and feature requests, what are the useful things you could be communicating with my business [clues – finding support, accountancy advice, higher level feature uses, plug ins, apps developers, tax questions, work-rounds for bug fixes]
How could Xero be leveraging existing customers to drive improved new business and new trial accounts using member-get-member referrals and other incentives?
Autoresponders – for new users within the trial period and for first few months of use – Xero could have a ‘guide’ much like Kiwibank‘s “Becky” who is there for the user, who acts as a signpost to helpful information inside your knowledge base, who helps check they’ve got the system set up properly.
Why are you using FeedBurner to distribute your RSS feed from the blog? It’s unsupported and you could be leveraging the channel for marketing messages to your active users in order to drive deeper brand engagement and possibly sales (see 2,3,4 above).
Split out your blog into separate streams so that articles automatically send to different groups (e.g. developers and accountants, US versus NZ) Each would get articles designed for that audiences. Create separate news feeds for different audiences, and further use them to drive marcoms to support your business growth goals
The more you blog, the bigger your archive. Readers rarely dive very deep and yet there’s probably heaps of helpful content which is being ignored. Could they be created into “tip sheets”, e-books, training manuals and other support material? These content solutions can be supporting 1, 2 and 4 above.
As Forbes says, it’s great to be an in-house agency – but lifting your head above the parapet and seeking input and inspiration from an external agency team can be very beneficial.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2013-04-05 12:02:142013-04-05 16:34:58Xero Marketing: a pitch & a critique
We got an enquiry from a reader who asked this question “I’m utilizing LinkedIn for meeting clients but currently everyone seems to be a third degree. what are some ice breakers I can use to introduce myself.”
As you know, it’s very difficult to get peoples’ attention as they are busy professionals.
Here are some suggestions for you.
Become the ‘go to’ person for interesting articles online about the topics relevant to your clients’ interests. Share these using Linked In Groups. Don’t use these groups to promote jobs you are recruiting for.
When they connect with you, you can see their email address; add them to your email list of folks who receive your shared articles, get their permission to mail them, and set up a newsletter outside of LinkedIn (we recommend FeedBlitz.com) to send out these messages, preferably linked to a blog of your own.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2013-03-19 09:26:522013-03-18 09:45:46All my LinkedIn contacts are 3rd degree - how can I connect?
It’s no secret that images help to enhance your blog content. But infographics will take this further, by combining content and images into one neat, shareable package.
Not only are infographics shareable, but they can take complex information and simplify it, as well as attracting the attention of those who don’t have the patience to read a long form blog article to get the same information. They are also more likely to go viral, which is another huge plus.
But the problem is that too many people have seen the power of the infographic. Infact, this article about 9 reasons to include infographics in your marketing strategy shows that searches for infographics on Google increased by 800% between 2010 and 2012. So now everyone is trying to pump them out in the hopes that their content will go viral or their website will see massive traffic growth. This means it’s getting to the point that simply creating an inforgraphic isn’t enough. You need to take a controlled and thought out approach in order to capture interest and maintain it.
If we look at this from a blogging perspective we can highlight some ways to make your infographic stand out amongst the crowd.
When you look at a blog post, you’re drawn in by the headline. Something in those few words has sparked your interest, enough to get you to react, and read what the author has to say. Infographics are no different. I remember a time where I would look at any infographic I found, regardless of subject matter, simply because it was visually appealing, and I often learnt something from it. Now I don’t. Now if I look at an infographic it’s highly likely the headline has caught my attention. This means that considering the title/headline for your infographic is important. Give your audience a reason to want to look at it, and you will see more success.
After the headline, comes the content. When blogging each sentence must keep your reader engaged, so that they move onto the next one, until they eventually consume your entire message. They want to find the value that was promised to them in the headline. Infographics have a similar principle. Yes, the content must be relevant and provide them with the value that was promised. But, it must also be readable. Your layout, your colour scheme and the way you adapt your information must all be considered. Without considering these factors. Your infographic will lose potency, readers will drop off and all the benefits you envisioned when you begun creating it, will be lost.
These are simple principles that can be applied when creating infographics that will help your content to stand out. Because if you don’t, you risk being overlooked, because you simply blend in with the crowd.
So, you’ve decided to go ahead and make an infographic
If you’re still here and think that you’ll be able to create an effective infographic, then the next consideration is how you will do it. There are two options here, do it yourself, or pay a designer.
Now doing it yourself may seem a bit daunting, especially for those with limited artistic talents. But there are a range of tools that can be used to create a thing of beauty. Here’s SEOmoz’s list of 10 tools for creating Infographics. Going through this list, you should find something that will suit your skill level and needs.
The alternative is to hire a designer. While this will cost you more, you will get greater flexibility in how it’s designed and looks. You can use sites such as eLance to find freelance designers from all over the world, that can help you to create an awesome infographic for your company.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Brad Jameshttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgBrad James2013-03-13 10:00:002013-03-16 12:42:36The Art of Infographics for biz dev
How to find new business opportunities by reading brands seeking agencies. A weekly summary of all the visitors we get relevant to marketing agencies. Which of your competitor agencies are learning business development skills here? Which brands are getting inside information on how agencies deliver creative marketing and, the Brands who are looking for agencies to hire.
Remember, many of these businesses visit our site because they are looking for information about new business and about creative marketing agencies. They may be in the market for a new agency – try getting in touch.
Better still, let us help you set up this system for your business.
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I’m sure many of you by this stage have either heard of Lightboxes or have already attempted to implement them on your own website. Lightboxes have replaced “tabbed browsing” as the fresh alternative to opening a new window. This post will give a quick pros and cons list of Lightboxes and discuss both the everyday frustrations and pleasures they bring. In my next post I will advise the best times and places to use Lightboxes based on what I have discussed here, because contrary to what you may read further down, there is a place for them.
A word of warning, if you’re an avid fan of Lightboxes you may want to close your eyes now…
The overwhelming number of reasons to not use Lightboxes surely disheartens even the most passionate fans. By my count, Lightboxes are down 2-10 to opening a new window… Not off to the best start then.
Starting off with the cons (so we can end on a sweet note) Lightboxes are both immovable and modal. This means that if a user wants to open multiple links at once to run a comparison as I often do, this is impossible. What often happens to me though, is I do want to open a Lightbox but it blocks out what I want to compare it to on the regular page. “Open a new window” however does not suffer these issues as they can be moved, minimised and often you can interact with the original page.
Probably the biggest issue any SEO-conscious webmaster would have with Lightboxes is that Lightboxes cannot be bookmarked but more critically, have no search engine crawlability. This means that your users will be unable to find any information you have stored in your Lightbox and worse still, on the off chance they do find it, there is no way of directly bookmarking the Lightbox. From personal experience I can tell you how awkward it is to send a link to a friend and have to add “click the link ⅔ of the way down the page” to my email as it’s near-impossible to link directly to the exact part of information located on a Lightbox.
A major issue faced by novice web-users is that Lightboxes operate in a different way to regular web-browsing. For the novice, it means yet another system to learn and navigate. My grandfather recently acquired an iPad (his first steps online) and while he is making good progress he would never figure out a Lightbox (at this stage I haven’t even told him about tabbed browsing – each time I see him I close his 40-50 open tabs…). My point is that novice users struggle enough with regular web browsing.
So while a major issue for novice web-users is the change in operation, for more experienced users there are equal frustrations – the main one being suddenly the ‘back’ button no longer does as it always has. Rather than simply removing the Lightbox as we expect, it actually takes you back to the page before the page which contains the Lightbox. This is a real concern for anyone hoping to keep potential customers/readers on your site and may account for a low ‘average time on website’ figure in your analytics. Imagine someone Google’s your company and from that search enters your site. If a Lightbox appears and the user accidentally pushes ‘back’, they will be taken back to Google’s search results – which for me personally would be reason enough to not return to that site.
Lightboxes further suffer from often being “too” pretty with their animations etc that it takes an eternity to actually load. Nothing frustrates me more than a slow fade in for every bit of data or picture that I want to see – It’s right up there with the Powerpoint individual letter fly-in animation. It is largely due to this that Lightbox struggles to encourage long-term usage.
Well, you’ve survived my rant. Just to help even up the score I’ll give the positive comments a larger font.
There really are only two reasons why you’d consider using a Lightbox over opening a new window, however both are critical. The first is Lightboxes offers a cleaner more professional look than opening a new window. Whilst this is purely based on preference, the general consensus is that Lightboxes look better. The second is perhaps the biggest overlooked benefit: it shows the selected content instantly. With many people opening multiple tabs and windows it can often be a decent amount of time before they actually view the selected link. With Lightboxes however there isn’t this problem as the content opens on the same page.
In my next post I’ll discuss How To Use Lightboxes On Your Website. Be sure to leave your own comments on the value of Lightboxes below!
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Jonathan Malcolm Lewishttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgJonathan Malcolm Lewis2013-03-07 14:03:022013-07-10 10:59:20Lightbox or New Window?
Celebrating an anniversary whether it be one, ten or a hundred years is certainly something to be proud of. You, as a company should almost be bursting at the seams to tell potential and existing customers the news.
Of course, for customers to get as excited as you, they expect something in return. That’s how the system works. They support you for x amount of years and at each anniversary expect a little appreciation. As Mark Twain astutely noted: “It is better to give than receive- especially advice” and following this I will offer my own – He’s right.
Even the historical dynasties knew of giving to receive, the churches preached it for centuries. “For it is in giving that we receive” (St. Francis of Assisi); is it sacrilegious if it’s true? Yes I am referencing from the 1200’s but the point is timeless. Why do businesses offer sales at anyway? They give a little in order to gain a lot
The question of course is how to celebrate and promote your anniversary. This can depend on a variety of facets such as the length of time of existence, the size of the company and the type of company.
Types of anniversary campaign
It is for this reason I have come up with 4 simple categories.
Sales & Giveaways
Promotions & Interaction
Reincarnation (Sticking with the religious theme)
Sales & Giveaways is relatively straightforward. Simply reducing the final bill for the customer will obviously get them interested – more bang for your buck has traditionally been the ‘go-to’ strategy. Giveaways however can work equally effective. The total bill may not reduce however the value perceived would still have increased. Better yet, it means more of your product is being consumed by your customers.
A common tip often acted upon is to link the number of years celebrated to the sale/gift. Whether it be 10% off if you’re celebrating your tenth anniversary or every 5th item is free for your fifth, linking the years to the deal instils that number into your customers brains, meaning they will be more likely to associate your business with success and longevity. As has been hugely publicised, customers who associate success and longevity with your business are more likely to purchase from you.
Remember, you can be clever about it – 40 years 40% off may be too much of a discount for some stores so be clever! 40 = XL in Roman numerals so have an XL sale, whether it be just a larger sale than usual or a sale focused on extra-large items, it will most likely prove cheaper than 40% off but have a similar effect.
Promotions & Interactions. This deals with how your company reaches out to your customers and the general public. Obviously, if no one has heard that it’s your anniversary no one will be excited. This therefore is critical that it is done right. Larger companies may not have to worry about it and let word of mouth do the work. Smaller companies however have their own competitive advantage – personalisation.
Personalised, handwritten notes prove effective time and time again. These interactions will obviously be critical to making your customers aware of your anniversary. Under interaction I have associated cut-cost ways to deliver value to your customer – tours. Customers are always interested in how their favourite good is actually made, so offer it! They aren’t expensive to run as attendees would actually prefer to see the business running as normal as possible and give your business greater exposure to the public..
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Reincarnation – an old classic _/\___/\___/\___/\___________ and we’re back. I’m sure you’re all familiar with the reincarnation of old products and methods when companies celebrate birthdays or anniversaries so I won’t go into any detail about it. However, many don’t even consider replacing current prices with the traditional ones. An example would be if Coca-Cola were to sell cans for 5c each – their original price. You may be thinking, this should be under the sale category and you’re probably right, but as it refers to the original price, it could be seen as the rebirth of the price; ok compromise, it’s both.
Finally, internal interaction. They say nothing is more important than the customer; if that’s true then employees can’t be far behind. When celebrating an anniversary, celebrate your employees’ efforts. They are just as much a part of the company as the customers and therefore, deserve similar recognition and perceived benefits. Traditionally a party always goes down well, however ensure that at least the long-time employees receive a memento, something which they can be proud of and something that will portray your eternal appreciation.
Most successful anniversary campaigns utilise more than one of these categories so for greater success, try and aim to hit at least two. And remember, no matter what strategy you choose, conveying your appreciation for the past and enthusiasm for the future never hurts.
We’ve all been there – sent a message and you’re not sure if they have read it, ignored it or whether it’s not arrived. How do you politely write a follow up message that provokes action?
One of my cardinal rules in new business development is to remember this one thing
The prospect does not owe you their business – but they do owe you an answer.
So with that in mind, let’s set the scene.
You have invested time and effort in sending a crafted message or proposal over to a prospect – how do you follow up so that you don’t annoy them, what timeframes are appropriate, how can you ensure you are remembered – but not as a nagging irritant?
Why do prospects not answer?
There are many reasons but the main ones are
your offer is not of interest, and not compelling enough to warrant a reply
they are too busy doing other things
The first tends to relate to SEO companies sending spammy offers by email; the second is the one we need to laser in on – because it does not mean your offer is not of interest, it’s just not as pressing as other things at this time.
The aim of your follow up email is to filter out which one applies to you.
Writing Follow-up emails to prospects
Rule number 1 – keep it short.
Whatever you say, enable the reader to glance at two or three sentences and get your full message.
This is not an opportunity to add to your earlier email content so don’t be tempted to re-iterate your pitch.
Rule number 2 – communicate the bare minimum
Remember we are trying to find out whether they are interested or not.
If they are interested – it could just be the timing is wrong… so your ultimate answer is ‘possibly’, in this case.
The message needs to say who you are; why you are chasing and a reminder of the services.
I always start with a summary of the situation in the email subject line. So even if they don’t open it, they can see the context.
So, now to the body – here are three possible sentences for you to copy
Thank you very much for your time meeting yesterday. The actions agreed were…..
We discussed your objective of ………….The topics worthy of more investigation are………..
As agreed we sent you a proposal and could you confirm that you’ve received it?
Rule number 3 – write with grace and if you can, humour
Nagging may work with your spouse or children, but I think it’s bad behaviour in business. You want to set the tone for your future relationship here and so getting off on the right foot is key.
Use phrases like “My recollection was….” or “I think we agreed that you would do….” So that you are reminding them without sounding hectoring.
Rule number 4 – give the recipient an easy get-out
Even if they don’t give you business today, you don’t want the prospect to write off your company as inappropriate for future projects. And so thinking about how you can enable them to quit with grace is a good tactic.
Try this one where we were passed from the CEO to the Marketing Director
I waited on X and then emailed him directly. Is it possible he doesn’t know what we discussed and that you, suggested we meet?
Don’t want to push if this is inappropriate, so could you give me some advice?
See that last line? Asking for advice is a great way for you to put the boot onto the other foot – get them to advise you on how to pitch their colleague. I love this and use it quite a lot. They know their firm and the characters better than you do.
Rule number 5 plan one, last, follow up after this one
The final, final thing to do is to then write a last message telling them that you won’t bother them again if they don’t reply but you would like them to confirm that they aren’t interested at this time.
This then allows them to write back saying ‘no’. And for you to thank them and say that you’ll stay in touch. This way the conversation ends and closes off the dialogue and you’ve got an answer rather than just a nothing void.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2013-02-12 10:00:002013-02-14 06:55:38New business development copywriting - writing a chasing email
Here’s a great guide to how to find the best digital agency for your business brand needs.
Getting an organisation who matches your needs and is able to deliver to your brief takes time and careful analysis. Get yourself all the information you need in order to find the best agency and then you have to brief them well.
Writing an awesome creative brief is a challenge and one we can help you out with – even if we’re not doing the work for you. Getting the language and the articulation of your requirements correct will shortcut the selection process of finding the best digital marketing team for your needs.
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2013-01-23 10:00:002014-05-28 16:12:22Hire the right digital marketing agency - a guide
http://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpg00Rebecca Caroehttp://creativeagencysecrets.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/CAS_Logo_1line_RGB.jpgRebecca Caroe2013-01-08 10:00:002013-01-08 13:24:32Trade show B2B marketing tactics - selling tech to the masses