May 4, 2012

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Want to see your products in TV and movies? This week only Lauren Aseff is spilling her secrets about how to get your products into TV and movies. The offer ends TODAY, so don’t miss out.

Here are my favorite ecommerce, small business and marketing reads of the week:


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March 16, 2012

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Before I get into today’s links, I wanted to let everyone know my apparel & accessories company, Ex-Boyfriend, is doing a charitable fundraiser for homeless animals. As an animal lover, this is a cause that’s near and dear to me. Anything my readers can do to help would be greatly appreciated! Check out the details on how to help.

Now on to the links…


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March 13, 2012

Making the Most of Email List Sign Ups at Live Events

Filed under: email marketing — Tags: , , , — Meredith @ 12:16 pm

As the weather warms up craft show season begins. Whether you’re doing outdoor markets, comic cons, trunk shows or other live events a mailing list sign up is a valuable tool for your exhibit space. Here’s how we make the most of email gathering when we do live events for Ex-Boyfriend:

At the show:

1. Have an attention grabbing sign up
Not everyone will buy at a live event, but if you capture their email address they might buy online in the future. To make sure you get email addresses from people who like your products, be sure your email sign up is hard to miss. You can decorate it with cute doodles, print it out on hot pink paper, display the sign up on a decorative stand. Be creative, but make sure the sign up sheet is visible to everyone who stops by your booth and checks out your products.

2. Offer an incentive to sign up
You can give people a nudge to join your list by offering an incentive. You can try something like giving out a free 1″ button or vinyl sticker in exchange for their email address. You can entice visitors with the promise of an exclusive coupon code or entry to win a prize. Pick an incentive that makes sense for your fans and make sure visitors see the offer when they see your sign up sheet.

3. Set expectations
A lot of people are wary of giving out their email address and for good reason. No one wants to be spammed or emailed constantly with useless ads. You can address these concerns by setting expectations about your newsletter. Be sure to let visitors know how often you email (weekly, monthly, etc.) and what they can expect in these emails (new product news, coupons, etc.).

After the show:

1. Keep them on a regional or interest-based list
When we get sign ups at live events, we always keep those customers on a mailing list for their event type or region. For example, if we do a craft show in Chicago, we keep those subscribers on a Chicago craft show list. If we do a comic con in New York, we keep those subscribers on a comic con list.

We do this so that we can send those customers alerts about other events where they can find us. We can tell Chicago customers next time we’ll be in their city. We can tell comic con goers about which comic con we’ll be attending next.

2. Send a welcome email
After we do a live event, we always send a welcome email to our new subscribers. This does a few things:

  • Gives them a chance to opt out if they decide they do not want our newsletter
  • Reminds them that they met us and signed up for our list
  • Suggests other ways for new fans to follow us (we include links to our social media accounts and invite our new subscribers to follow us on sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
  • Gives the customer a push to buy something if they didn’t purchase at the event. We usually include a coupon in the welcome emails, offering something like free shipping or a discount. That way a customer who didn’t buy at the show or found something they like online that we ran out of at the show has an incentive to buy that item from our website.

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March 2, 2012

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , , , , — Meredith @ 8:54 am


Below are my favorite reads from around the web this week:


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November 11, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Filed under: Link Love — Tags: , , , , , , — Meredith @ 1:20 pm


Happy 11/11/11 everyone! And it’s Friday, woot!

Here’s the best stuff I saw around the business blogosphere this week:


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October 28, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week

Happy Friday! I’m sure you’ve all got awesome Halloween’ish plans for the weekend. Before you get gussied up and OD on candy, check out my suggested reads from around the web this week:


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September 23, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week


Hooray it’s Friday! Don’t forget we’ve just opened up I Shop Indie for holiday season members, get more details here. Now on with the links…


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August 12, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week


Happy Friday, all! Here are a few reads to kick off your weekend:


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June 6, 2011

Customer Lifetime Value: The Often Ignored Metric in Your Marketing

When you think about selling your products online do you think about acquiring sales or do you think about acquiring customers? For many online retailers, in fact many business owners, the focus is on sales, not customers. This wrong-headed thinking can actually cost you money. Here are some ways this mentality gets you into trouble:

1. Short-Sighted Customer Service Policies
The number one rule of customer service: treat your customers the way you’d want to be treated if you were in their situation. Sometimes this means losing a little money in order to preserve a long term relationship. Most of us dread dealing with customer service at any business. We expect to be put on hold. We expect to hear “no”, even if the mistake was on the company’s part. It’s a nightmare. So when we have a great customer service experience, we not only have positive feelings about the business in question, we tend to recommend them to other people.

Examples of customer service gone awry that loses you customers:
I bought a ticket to go to Japan earlier this year, then a tsunami struck, causing me to change my vacation plans. What did United Airlines do? They charged me a $600.00 change fee and made me spend an hour on the phone with their customer service people. They made changing my plans expensive and inconvenient.  I hope they really enjoyed that $600.00, because this frequent traveler will NEVER fly them again. That 1 hour of my time and frivolous $600 charge (after I’d already spend $2000 on tickets), cost them a customer for life, a customer who would have spent tens of thousands of dollars with their business over the next few years. All that to get $600.00!

My husband bought a case for his new iphone 4. The company sent him the wrong case. They insisted he send back the wrong case, in order to get the correct case. Even if they reimburse for the shipping, they are forcing their customer to pay for the shipping initially, further delaying the arrival of the product he ordered several weeks ago and giving him an errand to run. Guess where we won’t be shopping next time we need an electronics case?

(By contrast, on the rare occasions that we send the wrong item to a customer at Ex-Boyfriend, we just tell the customer to keep the item and pass it on to a friend, and we send the correct item right away. As a result, we get happy customers, positive word of mouth and maybe our product ends up in an additional customer’s hands that we hadn’t planned for.)

2. Weak Attribution Management
Attribution management is one of the most widely misunderstood concepts among inexperienced business owners. First of all, let’s define the term. Attribution management, means tracking the source of your sales, with the understanding that sales often come from more than one source. For example, let’s say you run an ad on a blog. A customer clicks your ad, sees your stuff but doesn’t buy. Let’s imagine they clicked your Facebook “like” button, and a few weeks later they click a link from your Facebook page to your site and make a purchase. Which source resulted in the sale? Was it Facebook? Was it the ad? The answer is both, and this is where attribution management comes in. Attribution management looks at the first click that delivered a sale, the last click and interim clicks that served as assists.

Currently, attribution management can be tough to track without sophisticated tools or some programming skills. (I personally created my own attribution management system for my website using cookies and IP addresses.) The good news is Google Analytics is releasing attribution management capabilities pretty soon. The feature is currently in beta testing.

Why does this matter?

If you think of acquisitions in terms of sales instead of customers, you may cut off a productive marketing channel that is providing valuable assists, even if it is not contributing to direct sales. It may be effectively nurturing customer leads, even if it’s rarely the impetus to get people to buy. It may be keeping your brand name in the forefront of the customer’s thoughts, so when they Google your brand name and make a purchase, that isn’t just by luck, it’s those tools you used to foster customer relationships that put your brand name in their heads.

Examples of these marketing tools might include blogging, advertising, social media and email marketing.  Just because you don’t see direct sales from them each day, doesn’t mean they aren’t turning people into customers.

3. Lack of Customer Relationship Management
If you think of customer transactions as a one-and-done deal, you lose your chances of bringing them back for subsequent purchases. Once you’ve had someone buy something from you, the goal is to keep in touch with them, so they buy again in the future. Even if you don’t sell the kind of product people buy over and over, maintaining a relationship with past customers encourages them to recommend your business.

Now when I say keep in touch with customers I DO NOT mean sending them constant annoying sales emails. No one likes that. You need to employ a little gentle persuasion. Think about things you can do to keep them interested in you without selling to them constantly.

Here are some things that have worked for us at Ex-Boyfriend:
- Free Downloads
By offering our fans fun free products like drink markers, notecards, etc., we give our customers a fun reason to re-visit our website. Free gifts are a great way to engender a positive experience with the brand and keep our branding in front of our audience.

- A Good Blog
Notice I didn’t say blog, I said a good blog. A good blog is one with content that’s genuinely interesting for your customers. It’s not filled with sales content or boring details about your personal life and photos of your kids. It’s fine to include some personal elements and some sales copy, but if that’s the focus of your blog, no one is going to read it. At Ex-Boyfriend we share funny videos, cocktail recipes, comic strips, etc. Our primary goal is to keep our fans entertained and connect on a personal level, not sell them stuff. Getting them to shop with us is a natural by-product of having fun content.

- Social Media
Like a good blog, a good social media presence doesn’t contain non-stop sales copy. A little sales copy is okay, but the focus should be on content your audience finds interesting. This can include sharing your entertaining blog posts, asking a question that prompts conversation, sharing fun stuff you’ve found online, etc.

- Email Marketing
There are lots of schools of thought on email marketing. Some people advocate frequent contact, some people advocate regular, but not constant, contact. I think 1 or 2 mailings per month is a nice amount for retail businesses. It’s not so frequent that people will unsub because you’re spamming their inbox, but it’s often enough that they don’t forget about you.

Like social media and blogging, make sure your email content provides some value above and beyond sales messaging. You want to give people a reason to open those messages, and if they expect nothing but sales talk, they are less likely to open.

 


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May 27, 2011

Link Love: The Most Valuable Small Biz Articles Posted This Week


Sorry this week was light on posts. I am on vacation in Berlin right now. In the meantime, here are some links. Also don’t forget to sign up for my 6/8 group coaching session. Space is almost filled, and this is a great, budget-friendly way to try out coaching and pick my brain on any topic you’ve seen me write about. We’ll talk by phone for a full hour! I’ll not only answer your questions, you’ll get to hear me answer questions other entrepreneurs put forth, so everyone will benefit.

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