Why Word-of-Mouth Marketing Still Matters

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In business, word-of-mouth marketing often involves a happy customer who promotes your business, product, or service to other people, through referrals, recommendations, online reviews, or social posts. These mentions are most often unpaid (though some referral programs provide incentives), and can be incredibly effective at attracting new customers and providing social proof.

Some important statistics:

  • Word-of-mouth marketing is still the most trusted form of marketing, trusted by 84% of consumers (source: Nielson)
  • 91% of B2B buyers are influenced by word of mouth when making buying decisions (source: USM)
  • 65% of new business comes from referrals (source: Womma.org)
  • 27% of consumers would pay 15% or more to receive superior customer service (source: Womma.org)
  • Customers acquired through word-of-mouth spend 200% more than the average customer, and make up to 2x as many referrals (source: Business Pulse)

As more businesses focus on organic marketing strategies such as utilizing social media and online reviews to boost business, it’s important to understand why word-of-mouth marketing is valuable and why it still matters.

Word-of-mouth marketing is about trust, and building trust with your customers, vendors, and partners. This is why word-of-mouth marketing is so powerful, and also so trusted. Within our daily conversations, we discuss brands, products, and businesses. It’s part of human nature to want to share good experiences (and bad!) with others, and everyone enjoys being able to recommend a business or product that might help out a friend, relative, or colleague.

Setting up a simple, yet effective, referral campaign

One of the most effective byproducts of good word-of-mouth marketing is a referral from a happy customer. Follow these steps to make it easy for your customers to recommend your business to their friends & family.

  1. Create a compelling offer
  2. Promote your referral program through an eblast and on social media
  3. Make sure the referral process is simple, quick, and easy
  4. Personalize the initial referral messaging and onboarding process
  5. Keep your referral program top-of-mind with social posts & reminder emails
  6. Monitor and optimize your referral program based on results

If you are looking to create your first (or next) referral campaign, Demandforce can help. You can send a pre-written referral campaign email and get help requesting online reviews from happy customers. Get more 5-star reviews and gain more customer advocates with word-of-mouth marketing and grow your business!

How Clickable Are Your CTAs?

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A Call-to-Action (CTA) is a vital part of any business website and digital campaign. CTAs are the buttons or links that push traffic to where you want it to go. They drive sales, are important indicators showing how effective your campaigns are, and they are crucial in moving prospects further into the sales process.

Therefore, you should care how clickable your CTAs are, and take the time to test different messages and words to determine what phrases connect to your customers. In this article, we will discuss how to determine how clickable your Call-to-Action buttons are, and we’ll give you some examples of CTAs you could use.

How to build & test your CTAs

When done right, your Call-to-Action button can act as a visual attention-grabber that, when paired with a compelling message and offer, drive people to action. But even creating the CTA can seriously impact your click-through and conversion rate. So here are a few hints on how to test (and build) your CTAs.

Use active language

This might take you back to your high school English class, but active language motivates people much more than passive phrasing. Remind people why they want to take action to encourage clicks as well.

For example, when A/B tested, the phrase “Create My Account & Get Started” converted better than just “Create My Account.” And “Download to Save Time” converted more than just “Download.”

Show the benefit

It follows, then, that providing information about the benefit of clicking also helps. This doesn’t have to be within the button itself, but you can provide information within the same landing page or area your button shows up.

Test button design

The button itself has proven to matter for conversions, so always test certain variables to see what works best for you. Here are our favorites to test:

  • Color – consider contrasting colors that don’t blend into the background
  • Position – test placing the button above the fold, or below all the content needed to explain the offer
  • Size – Don’t get too crazy, but remember the button should be large enough to be easily seen among the other elements on your page
  • Special Effects – Consider graphic enhancements such as rounded corners, drop shadows, or a different hover color
  • White Space – Remember to keep white space around your button, and play with how much so that the eye is quickly drawn to and can stay focused on the CTA

It’s all in the language

So now we come to arguably the most obvious, and most difficult aspect to test in a CTA – the language itself. An ad adage to remember as you think about CTA copy is: people buy with emotion, but follow with logic.

You might have heard that CTAs must convey an urgency to attract impulse clickers, and that CTA should clearly communicate what will happen once you click the button. This is not an area for cleverness or subtlety.

For example, you might be surprised at the lower conversion rates for “Buy Now” buttons, but when you consider that some users might believe their credit card will be automatically charged if they click it… that’s why you see more “Add to Cart” or “Download Now”

Of course, the text does need to match what type of business you are, and what you are trying to get the visitor to do. But if you’re looking for help, Demandforce has done the heavy lifting for you. Our custom email campaigns use optimized language that is proven to drive click-throughs and engagement with your customers.

Some tips:

  • Once you pick a button, keep it consistent on your page. Carry the format and even language through so that your visitors know and familiarize themselves with your buttons.
  • Keep the opportunity. Sometimes soft CTAs work better than hard sells. Language such as “View offers”, “Learn more”, “Shop all” can keep people interested and clicking more than immediate sells, like “Buy now” or “Sign Up.”

Test, test, test!

The best advice we can give you to improve your CTA is to research, test, and tweak! Work with your designers and website guru and A/B test your CTAs on your site and on landing pages. Run user tests to figure out what colors and layout resonate the most with specific demographics. Check in on your analytics and remember – don’t test or change everything at once, or you won’t be able to tell what aspect affected your conversion or click-through rate.

Our Top 5 Favorite Customer Appreciation Ideas

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Sometimes, it’s easy to forget the power of a simple “Thank You” – but as small business owners, we should always find ways to show our customers and patients we care. As Thanksgiving and the holidays approach, the team at Demandforce thought that now was the perfect time to reflect on what we’re thankful for, and compile a list of our Top 5 Favorite Customer Appreciation Ideas.

Some of these ideas cost money, while some can be done for a nominal price, or none at all. Before you brush off spending money on customer appreciation, remember this: it costs less to cultivate a customer relationship and retain that customer than it does to find entirely new ones… so sometimes the price is worth it.

Our customers count. So show them you care with these Top 5 Customer Appreciation ideas.

Send a handwritten note or card

Sending a handwritten note or card can foster friendship and goodwill from your customers, and doesn’t cost you much at all! You can print cards from Staples or several online card printing sites, and then send them on their way.

Give a freebie

Sending a gift to your client from a gift basket to a personalized branded knick-knack can not only express your gratitude, but also cement your business in the minds (and hearts) of your clients. A gift can be personalized to show your connection with them, or it can represent your business in some way. Some ideas are: logoed mugs, keychains, or bottle openers. It could be a notebook, or even something like a free muffin that week for customers.

Offer an upgrade

Everyone loves feeling like they’re getting more, and that’s the idea behind the upgrade offer. This works well if you’re a technology business, or can offer a different tier of service to your customers for free, or for a discounted price. You can offer a coupon or entire price cut as a thank you gift, and you might even get more sign-ups for your premier levels.

Say thank you via video on social media

You don’t need to be a videographer or stellar actor to shoot a video on your smartphone and upload it to social media, or send it out in a dedicated email. This is a great way to thank you customers with a 30-second shout-out, or thank you statement that you can share on your website, on Twitter, and on Facebook. You can tag the customers you want to show it to, and it doesn’t cost a dime!

Host a Customer Appreciation Night

The holidays are always a good time to host a party or celebration, so if you have the budget, you can always host a customer appreciation event and invite your VIP customers to it as a Thank You. This is not only a great way to bond with and spend time with your clients outside the work environment, but it also gives your client the opportunity to network, and allows them to see the diverse group that you work with. A customer appreciation night doesn’t need to be a huge event; it can range from a casual get-together at your local coffee shop or a networking event at a rented restaurant. You can introduce upcoming upgrades or products, hold a raffle, or even provide hors d’oeuvres and drinks for a cocktail party feel.

Plus, if you’re looking for a way to connect with your customers, or get the word out about any events you’re hosting, or send your photo to your base, you can use the customizable email campaigns that Demandforce offers, and then you can also track open rates and engagement as well! If you don’t know what Demandforce is, you can schedule a personal demo with a Demandforce expert, who will take you through the steps on how you can market better to your customers!

Do you own your online reputation?[Infographic]

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If you’ve ever wondered why your online reputation is important, then this infographic is for you. In a world increasingly driven by online reputations, knowing how to leverage your online reputation and how to best utilize social media will only help you stand out among the competition, attract new customers, and gain more positive online reviews.

This infographic will help you figure out if you truly own your business’ online reputation – and what you can do to reclaim it.

If you’re looking for ways to own your online reputation, Demandforce can set up a personalized demo for you. From one-click review requests and automatic posting to social media sites; pre-written email campaigns; and integration with sites like Facebook, Yelp, Google Local, and Citysearch, Demandforce can help your business take control of its reputation, and boost your rating and reviews online.

It’s easy and quick to schedule a live demo to learn more about the product – just click here!

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Effective Email Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

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As the season changes and the holidays approach, we thought it would be a good time for a refresher on effective email marketing tips for small businesses. Keeping your finger on the pulse of what’s working in email marketing can mean the difference between percentages in open rates, engagement, and – in the end – revenue.

The following is our newly compiled list of effective email marketing tips to help your business drive email opens, CTR, and customer engagement.

Plan out your emails and know your holiday dates

You might be surprised at how many businesses don’t give any thought to even a simple email marketing strategy; and yet then wonder why their opt-outs are rising and their emails are not connecting with their customers. Before you send out your next email, take some time (even just half an hour) to sit down and think through the next couple emails you might send out. Know your upcoming holiday dates—such as Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday—and think about how you might want to connect your emails to these dates.

Not only that, but plan what types of emails you’ll send. Which ones will have offers, and what offers; which ones will be content, and which will contain imagery. Planning out your emails helps take your customer through a journey that keeps them engaged and connected in your business.

Utilize email marketing automation

The holidays are always a busy time for businesses, and your customers as well. So instead of spending time setting up and wrestling with a series of individual emails, let email marketing automation do the heavy lifting for you. Once you have an idea of your email-marketing plan, you can create all your emails at once, and then set them to automatically send on a certain date. This saves you from headaches and last-minute emergencies, and also provides a consistent experience for your customers.

Consider offering opt-down, not just opt-out

Every business has to deal with subscribers who, for whatever reason, decide to opt-out of your emails. The good news is, you’re not alone in having to tackle this issue; the better news is, we have a way to cut back on complete unsubscribes! One way you can keep potential unsubscribers in your email marketing database is by offering an opt-down option, not just an opt-out. An opt-down means you’d send these individuals fewer emails, yet keep them in your communication stream.

Get creative with your content

Keeping your content different and fresh is a great way to drive CTR and engagement. A major study showed that a large majority of U.S. adults in fact enjoy receiving email communication from businesses they use and like, as long as that information is relevant and informative. If you establish yourself as a thought leader who has interesting things to say, or provides useful information, then your emails will be opened more and shared, and you will gain more legitimacy as a business. Another effective tip for your emails – using big, bold imagery that fills the frame for the hero images, and graphics over stock imagery.

Utilize segmentation and personalization

Another email marketing tip to remember – you should be utilizing segmentation and personalization in all your email marketing. Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, and (according to DMA) marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. This means that you should be sending email offers and messages to your customers based on past purchases or behavior patterns, to foster open rates and stay on their radar.

Add social sharing buttons

Adding social sharing buttons to the bottom of your emails is an easy way to expand the natural reach of your email marketing campaigns, funnel readers to your social media channels, and integrate your marketing efforts.

Weed out inactive subscribers

An important email marketing tip is to pay attention to your inactive subscribers and make sure that you’re removing them from your email database so that they don’t end your email campaigns before they even have a chance to begin. You can use engagement scoring to determine engagement levels, and clear out from there.

Create events to drive customers to your business

An email marketing tip to remember in this digital age is that while it might be almost all about digital, you cannot forget the importance of in-person interaction, especially if your business has a brick and mortar side. In-person, a subscriber has more of a likelihood of making a purchase once they arrive, so consider tailoring an email marketing campaign around driving people to a special event hosted at your business, offering them exclusive deals that can only be used in person.

What to Consider Before Sending Emails to Customers Over the Holidays

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It’s almost Halloween, and after that – Thanksgiving and beyond! So as a small business, a question that you might ask yourself is: should you send emails to your customers over the holidays? The answer is more complicated than you might think.

When deciding whether or not to send an email over the holidays, there are several factors to consider:

  • What type of email are you planning to send?
  • What goal are you trying to achieve with your email?
  • Do you have the time and resources to split test?
  • Who are the people on your distribution list?

Let’s examine these one at a time.

What type of email are you planning to send?

If you are a small business or retailer, you might want to consider not sending an email during the holidays, because tons of discount and “holiday deal” emails are sent during the holidays, and recipients tend to mark any as SPAM. Or worse, sometimes you’ll get unsubscribes just from sending an email on a certain date. A study by Inc. and Delphi showed that holiday greetings can have a five times higher chance of unsubscribe as opposed to other messages.

However, if you’re sending an email to keep top-of-mind, and wish your clients a happy holiday, these might not get unsubscribes, but they also might get a lower open rate.

What goal are you trying to achieve with your email?

Because many holidays fall on or around the weekend, it’s important to consider the difference between weekday and weekend email sends as you consider whether to send a holiday email.

According to a 2014 ExactTarget mobile behavior report, emails sent on Saturday and Sunday had the lowest volume rates, but the highest open and clickthrough rates. (17.8% for both days – the highest percentage of the week). What this means is that although the weekend was not the most popular time to send emails, those who opened weekend emails were much more likely to engage and clickthrough.

Data from Harland Clarke corroborates this, as on Saturday, only 5.5% of total emails tracked were sent, yet they were viewed at 32.5%. So if the recipient chooses to open the email on the weekend, you have a higher ROI – but overall, open rates tend to be lower than weekdays.

This is a good argument for trying to send on a holiday, as you might be able to cut out some of your competition and engage with quality prospects – a good strategy, especially for start-ups or smaller businesses that might not have as many regular email marketing resources as larger businesses.

Do you have the time and resources to split test?

If you have the ability and resources to split test emails, you might want to consider doing this for the upcoming holiday. Try to test an unconventional time and holiday with a more traditional time, and see what results you get.

Who are the people on your distribution list?

During the holidays, many people might not be checking their emails, especially if you’re sending to an office or office manager’s work account. When they return, they’ll be inundated with emails, and those with a marketing or spam look to them will be deleted without a glance. Therefore, if you’re sending to work emails and offices, you might want to avoid sending emails during summer holiday season, around Christmas, or New Year’s. 

To help improve holiday email engagement rates, GoDaddy recommends brands avoid sending emails on Thanksgiving Day altogether. “On Thanksgiving Day, open rates hit their lowest rate for the entire month of November,” says GoDaddy.

So the general consensus seems to be: avoid sending email marketing over holidays, as the potential for unsubscribes outweighs the goodwill and recognition you might experience by sending out a Happy Holidays message. But then again, if you’re looking for an unconventional way to get an edge on your competitors, holiday emails might be a good test for your business.

12 Things All Great Bosses Do

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In honor of Boss’s Day (which was on Monday, October 17), we wanted to share 12 Things All Great Bosses Do. A lot goes into being a great boss, and how you act can greatly affect and influence your team. But being a boss is tough sometimes, so how can you be a great leader, support for your team, and still enjoy your job as well? Checking out this list is a good way to start.

12 Things All Great Bosses Do

Be authentically passionate.

How can you expect your team to work hard, self-motivate, and get behind your projects if you aren’t? Great bosses are passionate about what they do, and why they do it. And this passion isn’t fake – it’s authentic and inspiring.

Listen to your team.

Stating, “your door is always open,” isn’t good enough. Great bosses are proactive and periodically check in with the individual members on their team. Listen to what you’re hearing.

Be open to input and consider different perspectives.

Great bosses know that they don’t know everything. Be open to input from your team members, and consider different perspectives and ways of doing things – even if those ways differ from what you’ve come up with. A great boss knows that ideas come from not just those at the top, but from everyone in your company. Your office manager or receptionist might have a great idea or suggestion to increase efficiency or bring in new customers, and all you have to do is listen.

Give immediate feedback.

Your team members often want immediate feedback on projects and on situations – especially if they have made mistakes or exceeded expectations. Make sure that you try your best to give immediate feedback instead of saving (and risking forgetting) everything for the quarterly or annual assessment.

Recognize and appreciate the abilities of your team members.

Everyone likes to be appreciated, and a great boss knows the simplest way to stop grumbling before it starts is to recognize and appreciate the abilities of everyone who works for you. A good boss elevates everyone around him or her, and acknowledges them often.

Don’t micromanage.

Take it from the Buffet, who says, “Hire well, manage little.” If you’ve ever been the focus of micromanagement, you know how stifling and frustrating it can be. A great boss trusts in their team members, and allows them to do their work without constant check-ins.

Admit your mistakes and accept responsibility.

Everyone makes mistakes, but great bosses don’t throw people (especially their team members) under the bus. Instead, a great boss will admit mistakes and be willing to discuss the situation openly, looking for lessons learned and opportunities for evaluation. A great boss sets a standard for his team members, so no one plays the blame game.

Be approachable and friendly.

Sometimes the smallest things make the biggest difference, including just being approachable and friendly to your team members. You don’t have to be that boss who scowls and acts standoffish to their employees. The best bosses chat with their employees (though avoid participating in office gossip) and are friendly; showing their quirky, human side.

Don’t overpromise and keep your word.

One of the quickest ways to lose the trust and goodwill of your employees is by overpromising or always saying, “Yes,” when you can’t make good on your word. The best bosses are honest, and only make promises they can realistically

Keep your team informed.

To the best of your abilities, without divulging information that might harm your team or the company, keep your team informed of what’s happening as it pertains to them, their performance, and the overall health of the company, or the success of their projects. No one likes secrets, and if great bosses make sure that everyone feels well-informed and confident in not only their jobs and their worth—but the stability of their workplace as well.

Celebrate small wins.

Great bosses are great motivators, and one of the best ways to motivate your team is to celebrate the small victories, not just the large ones. A great boss will make sure that their team members are thanked, even with a short email or casual desk drop-by.

Protect your team.

While you’d have to be a pretty poor boss to not want your team to trust you, the difference between an okay boss and a great one is that your employees not only trust you, but they know that you’ll have their backs. Fight for your team members, and protect your team not only from outside blame or in fighting, but from blows to employee morale, like layoffs or negative office rumors.

So how do you stack up? Are you being a boss, like a boss? It’s a tough job sometimes,– but also incredibly rewarding one – and from all of us at Demandforce – Happy Belated Boss’s Day!

5 Common Social Media Misconceptions

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In this day and age, if you don’t know what “social media” is, you might have just emerged from a cryogenic state, or you’re living a bit off the grid. But for those of us who do utilize it in our daily lives, and even for those of us who might be resistant (or a bit intimidated) to it, we all recognize its power. Social media especially can be an incredible tool for small businesses looking to boost their online reputations, attract new customers and broaden their reach.

But before you delve headfirst into social media, we wanted to share…

5 Common Social Media Misconceptions

Avoid these and you’ll be well on your way to winning new customers and owning your social media presence!

I Don’t Need Social Media for My Business

Don’t believe the naysayers who believe a social media presence isn’t necessary for small business. The opposite is in fact true: social media might just be the missing ingredient in your marketing strategy. The stats don’t lie. Not only have the number of social media users steadily increased from 2010 to 2016, but sites like Yelp!, Google Local, and Facebook have become trusted sources for consumer reviews.

Social Media Is Just People Posting About What They Ate for Breakfast…

So if you’ve stood at the sidelines of social media and just watched others use it, you might think that social media (Instagram or Facebook, anyone?) might just be people posting about what they ate for breakfast, or discussing politics, posting pictures of their children, or their pets. But in reality, sites like Twitter and Facebook can help boost your customer communication and engagement. You can find new customers on Twitter by searching for relevant keywords and phrases. And you can create a Facebook Business Page for your organization – and on it, you can not only share updates about your product or practice, but you can also celebrate your customers, provide interesting articles, and celebrate your company culture.

You Can’t Track Value on Social Media

Some hardline data hounds might want to avoid social media because they think you can’t track value on it versus other, more traditional marketing channels. However, the reality is that social media is among the easiest channels to measure, because quantifying results is ingrained into the social media culture. Valuable information comes from metrics surrounding client engagements (likes, comments, sharing), and you can see immediately what posts engage your customers most, and what people want, and like.

It Won’t Bring In Sales

Another common social media misconception is that, while posting is all well and good, focusing on social media won’t actually bring in sales. The answer to this is two-fold. Not only do you need to remember that your customer’s story is more than just the sale. While of course your business’ bottom line is the driving force behind everything else, experts agree that social media cements the relationship between a business and its existing customers, making those customers more loyal, and more willing to refer and advocate for the company. And in straight stats, 78% of people recently polled by DDB Worldwide said that a company’s social posts impact their purchase decisions.

My Customers Don’t Use Social Media

If you think that social media might work for “other businesses” but not your customers, think again. Have you really dug deep into your customer demographics? A misunderstanding about your customers’ behaviors might be driving this misconception. For instance, many businesses that work with seniors think that their customers don’t use social media, but in reality – 65% of U.S. adults ages 50-64 are on social media more than cable and satellite television, and 49% aged 65+. (Statistica, 2015)

These are just 5 of the most common Social Media Misconceptions we have heard, what about you? Have you checked out how you look online lately? You don’t need to be a social media expert to run your business, but you could incorporate a stronger social media presence and strategy into your business plan moving forward. With a platform like Demandforce, social media strategy is incorporated into everything else we do to help your business grow. Don’t pay for a la carte experts or software when you can get an all-in-one solution for your marketing, social media, and customer communications. Contact us today at (800) 246-4853 to find out more, or set up a demo with us, and speak with an expert about your specific needs and business goals.

Why Knowing Your Customers’ Emails is More Important Than Ever

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Email marketing is still an incredibly effective and powerful tool for small businesses to reach out and stay connected with their customers, without spending a lot of money. But as you might be finding out, people don’t give their email addresses out to just anyone – even their dentists, doctors, and service providers.

But knowing your customers’ emails is more important than ever in an age where email marketing still brings back a 3800% (that’s no typo!) ROI and $38 for every $1 spent.

You are still six times more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet, and more importantly – if you have your customer emails in your management system database, you can send them automated email reminders of their upcoming appointments, recommended services, and important updates to their accounts or your business.

So how do you collect customer emails?

So you know that emails are important to have, so how do you go about collecting them?

Here are some tips:

Ask all new customers for their email. Integrate a request for email into your signup process, and add a space for your customers to leave their emails next to the phone number and address. Many customers, especially the younger generation, might give you their email as readily as they would their address.

Make it easy and obvious as to why you need it. Post a signup form for your newsletter or blog on your website and/or Facebook page, and consider placing a sign at your front desk stating your reasons for wanting an email. Your reasons may include: so you can send appointment reminders, connect easily with a doctor/dentist/vet, or send offers.

Remember to emphasis why it helps them. Don’t focus on why having their email helps you, but focus instead on the benefits they’ll get from providing you with updated information and easy ways of contacting them. According to a Pew Research poll, 92% of online adults use email, and 61% use it on an average day.

A powerful tool to help you connect with your customers: Email Finder

Email Finder is a tool that Demandforce offers its customers to help you fill in missing emails within your database. The Email Finder can find email addresses for anyone that currently has none listed in their record. It uses national opt-in databases to match email addressed based on a client’s name and physical address.

Is Email Finder legal?

Yes! Once an email is gathered, an opt-out request is sent to that individual, letting them know your business is offering a new communication service that allows them to request appointments, confirm appointments, refer friends & family easily online, and receive special offers. Clients who don’t opt out have their emails automatically added to your database.

How Much Does Email Finder Cost?

Email Finder is an additional service Demandforce offers its customers, and you can choose what emails to integrate into your database, and pay per email. For full information on this, check out the Demandforce Help Center.

Demandforce for Dentists [Infographic]

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Do you own a dental practice or work for one? If so, you’re one of around 175,000 in the U.S.

So how do you stand out from your competitors and attract new patients and grow your practice?

Find out with this Making You Smile infographic that outlines how Demandforce can help your dental practice increase efficiency and keep your chairs full.

Want to learn more about us? You can view a demo by clicking here, or speak with someone today by calling (866) 507-7016.

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