Internet Marketing – A Retail Strategy You Can’t Ignore

Just how important is it that you understand the power of Internet marketing and the retail strategy that it requires?Well, imagine if a major retailer saw the historic growth of discount stores over the last 50 years and ignored it.Oh, wait! That describes just about all of the “old-model” retail chains. (Think of once-vaunted Sears, bought by Kmart.)Today, Internet marketing is changing the face of retail even more than discounting did in the 20th Century: low overhead, 24/7 service, worldwide reach.To keep up with the changes, you need a strategy to take advantage of all the available online retail opportunities.Let’s look at a few of those opportunities and what you can do to put them to work for you. Shoppers Have ChangedThe internet has created a world of retail customers who want whatever they want, whenever they want it. Think of a brick-and-mortar retail store-whether a “mom and pop” or national chain. What if customers said, “I want to be able to shop at 3 a.m.”?What is the strategy for staffing up for that, for paying to keep stores open, for security?Major discounters like Walmart do it at some locations. But can you?With an Internet retail presence, you can.Shoppers have changed. The right retail strategy for the Internet will ensure you change with them.The Price is RightHow do you sell at a low price?One way is by volume. Selling a lot means you buy a lot, and that means you drive down your suppliers’ prices.Or you sell cheaply from a no-frills store, saving money that allows you to cut prices.Or, you have no brick-and-mortar location, few employees, no warehousing-you sell online. This is the heart of an Internet retail strategy.Make Sure They Find YouWith Internet retailing, you can’t hang a sign on your building, or put up a billboard on the freeway, or place an ad in the local paper. So what is the strategy for reaching retail customers online?Again, the Internet gives the retailer an advantage.You can advertise your online retail site on other sites, you can fill your site with good content designed to attract potential customers, and you can post content on other sites to drive buyers your way.Data about the people who are searching the Internet for items like yours lets you craft a retail strategy to market directly to your most likely customers.It’s like having a billboard on a road where only drivers who want what you sell pass by.One Thing Doesn’t ChangeWhether online are off, one aspect of your retail strategy doesn’t change.You must offer excellent customer service. The rule of thumb is a happy retail customer tells 1 friend; an unhappy retail customer tells 10 friends. How to keep customers happy and telling their friends good things about you?Your Internet retail strategy must include a process for filling customers’ orders correctly and on time. And you must have a system for handling customer complaints professionally and courteously.Internet marketing has drastically changed the way smart sellers develop their retail strategy. It requires new methods-and it offers powerful new tools. Don’t ignore this crucial shift in the marketplace.

Marketing Basics for Mortgage Brokers

Back in the good old days, before the housing bubble burst, being a mortgage broker or loan officer was like having a license to print money. After all, interest rates were low, housing prices were climbing, and almost any homeowner could be persuaded to refinance their house.  

On top of that, banks and lenders were particularly casual in their business practices and practically anyone could get a loan. Of course everyone knows how all of that worked out. Today home sales are sluggish at best, and even qualified buyers with good credit may have trouble getting a loan.

So how is a mortgage broker supposed to drum up business in this dismal market? Getting that business back means going back to the fundamentals of marketing and sales; networking, direct marketing, and a good website.

Word of mouth is the best way to generate new business and networking is the best way to get the word out about your business. It sounds old fashioned, but there’s no Internet substitute for getting your business card in the hands of as many people as possible.

Try to visit as many professional groups, networking parties, and seminars as you can. Don’t be shy, these events are designed specifically for making professional connections and doing business.

Another fundamental of mortgage marketing is direct mail and direct e-mail. While direct mail pieces don’t always net new clients, they do help keep your name in front of the clients you’ve already done business with and build your brand. Past customers are one of your best sources for word of mouth recommendations.

Direct e-mail marketing is still in its infancy, it is one of the most cost effective marketing tools around. While e-mail is cheap and effective, there are a few mistakes you should avoid. Be judicious with your e-mail marketing. Your clientele will quickly tune out your message if you’re e-mailing them too often.

And be sure to offer, keep up with, an “unsubscribe” option for clients who don’t want to hear from you by e-mail.

Establishing a visible presence on the web is a great way to compliment any marketing effort. A mortgage website that provides good general information about new loans and refinancing, as well as specific information about your business is an indispensable marketing tool.

There’s business to be had out there, but finding it is going to take a lot more effort than it used to.

B2B Email Marketing

Successful B2B Email Marketing

Email marketing is an extremely effective marketing medium in B2B business scenarios. Unlike consumer marketing where customers are innumerable, customers are easily identified and limited in any B2B. Since the number of people to be addressed is limited, and contact details obtained relatively easily, Email marketing can be leveraged with potent benefits to the organization.

In B2B Email marketing the fundamental principles of marketing continue to be relevant. It definitely pays to spend some time thinking,formulating and documenting an Email marketing strategy prior to initiating any customer communication.

Who is the customer?

The first step is to map the customer purchase process. Mapping reveals the user, influencers, opinion leaders, decision makers and likely decision breakers too. They are likely to come from different departments of the organization: Users department, Procurement, Finance, Senior management (depending on deal size). Each of them has a role to play in making the purchase, and each of them needs to be marketed to.

Email Marketing campaigns sometime need to be customized for each of the participants of the purchase process. Not every person in the decision making process would be a potential recipient for the same email marketing campaign. For example, while the CEO of an organization could be one making the final sign-off on a high value sale, it’s unlikely that the CEO would like to receive periodical product catalogues from you (indispensable for procurement). However the CEO needs to be aware of your business. Depending on the nature of your business and the size of the customer organization, you could definitely get the attention of the CEO with a specially addressed email annually or semi-annually.

Messaging Senior Management:

Launch of a new product/service

Invites to special events that you could be hosting Seasonal greetings

Any Industry news that you possess and could be of business interest to the CEO/Top management

Messaging Users, Procurement, and Technical evaluators:

You must look at addressing Procurement, Users and technical personnel at frequent time intervals. These people initiate the purchase, are present through all the critical decision points of the purchase process, and quite often have veto power to negative a supplier. They are very important people and Email marketing needs to ensure that your business is top of mind and viewed favorably in their minds.

Regular communications addressing details of new products or services added to your business, technical features, special promotions, discounts could be your subjects – staying top of mind, and at the same time educating.

Subjects for addressing procurement professionals could be:

Your product/Services catalogue (at the same frequency that you update it)

Deals and promotions that you may be offering

Advance information about price hikes that you anticipate

Technical information about your products or services (If you are a dealer/distributor, this may not be of much interest since this information may be funneled directly by the manufacturer)

Invitations to any special events (Seminars/Product launches) that you are organizing

Information about any training programs on your products

New products or services launches

Intimation of price changes (advance and/or post increase)

Season greetings

Birthday/Anniversary greetings

Designing the communication

Much has been written about the structure and design of email communications – so much that it looks a science by itself and a highly complex subject. I however would like to take a simple approach. Lets consider a few pertinent points

You must have a communication message that is of interest and relevance to your customer. Do not generate content at random without first considering whether your customer would be interested in the content. If interest is in doubt – do not send the email. Always keep the interest of the customer in mind.

Keep the message short and simple. If there is a lot that you need to communicate, redirect them to a webpage with additional content

Call for Action

Let your message always have a call for action. Possible action triggers could be:

Meeting with a sales rep – or asking for a telephone call from your business

Request for additional information

Place an order with you

Request of a demonstration (in person or on the web)

Subscribe to a newsletter

Confirm participation in an event or seminar

Or one of many actions depending on the nature of your email communication

Evaluate your campaign

At the end of each email campaign measure the effectiveness of the campaign. Important parameters could be:

Value of sales made

Number of leads generated

No. Seminar participation confirmed/Sales appointments generated etc

Email opened stats

Calculate cost per lead/sale generated – and any other ROI calculations you would like to make

You must calculate direct and indirect sales/brand building on account of the campaign (not every email campaign can be translated into direct sales. Some of the communications could be just a brand-building exercise, while others could be with the specific purpose of building sales). There could be many who didn’t respond to you by email – but called you up instead, or just landed up at your business to purchase. An email promo-code could build a better measurement of the direct benefits of your campaign.

Clean-up your contact database:

Remove all email id’s that bounced on account of wrong email id

Remove all email id’s that have unsubscribe requests

Remove all email id’s that have been blocked by spam filters

Database maintenance is an ongoing exercise and ensures a clean email database. Maintenance is often skipped if it is not an assigned responsibility. Set up update schedules and mechanisms. Assign responsibility for List creation, updating and management.

Avoid being labeled as SPAM

There are some simple steps you can take to prevent being labeled as spam and stay within the anti-spam law. In all your email marketing communications:

Provide your business address and telephone numbers

Offer an unsubscribe option that actually works

When an unsubscribe request is received – remove the contact from your mailing database and also acknowledge that you have received the unsubscribe request and acted upon it

Email marketing is not very complex if you develop sharp objectives and clear expectations of what the medium can do for you, and more importantly what it can’t. In the hands of experienced marketers, Email marketing can be a very potent weapon in building brands, generating leads and supporting conventional media marketing campaigns. There is no magic bullet or campaign style that works for everyone. Each business will need to work and set up their own objectives, Email marketing strategies and execute their campaigns. What works for one business may not work for another.