Customers are Telling Us How to Contact Them. Perhaps We Should Listen

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Customers are Telling Us How to Contact Them. Perhaps We Should Listen

According to Statistica, smartphone ownership in the United States has grown from just over 60 million in 2010 to an estimated 237.6 million in 2018. If that sounds like the market is saturated, the statistics portal says, "Not so fast." Over the next four years, smartphone use is expected to grow to over 270 million. That's an additional 30 million users in the U.S. alone.

Every consumer has certain preferences on how they prefer to be connected with marketers on their mobile devices. These mobile channels range from email to SMS texting, apps and social. The question is if your customers and potential customers were to tell you the best way to reach them via their mobile devices, would you listen?

They've done exactly that in a just-released Consumer Mobile Engagement research study. This report surveyed 1,552 U.S. consumers on a range of mobile engagement topics in an effort to gain a better understanding of the mobile channels preferred most by consumers for various communications, ranging from coupons to loyalty program rewards. Here is some of what the survey uncovered.

Consumers will opt in to a retailer's marketing list

When asked, "Have you ever opted into a retailer or brand text-message marketing list?" nearly two-thirds (60.44 percent) said yes. Of particular interest was that 100 percent of the millennials who participated in the survey responded yes. Your potential customers are saying text messaging is a powerful channel to build your retail marketing list, especially if you want to reach millennials.

Email and text messages are an effective way to deliver coupons to mobile users

The survey indicates that 70 percent of consumers would prefer to receive mobile coupons digitally through texts and mobile email. The channels were virtually split 50/50: 35 percent responded they would prefer email and 35 percent stated they would prefer receiving discounts via texts.

A push message via an app was third at 23 percent followed by a mobile website at just 7 percent. It is clear consumers are embracing mobile delivery, storage, and access to their coupons and loyalty programs. Text coupons have the additional benefit of adding a sense of urgency to redemption. The CodeBroker Coupon Research report released earlier this year indicated 85 percent of consumers use a text coupon within one week after receiving it.

A multi-channel mix is needed to reach the largest segments of mobile users

When survey participants were asked "What is your preferred way to receive retailer messages on your mobile device promoting sales, discounts, and coupons?" the responses show the need for retailers to employ several mobile channels. Email was preferred by 41 percent, just slightly ahead of text messaging at 38 percent. Push messaging (app) was not quite as popular, only being chosen by 21 percent. With such large segments choosing differing mobile channels, it is important marketers employ a strategy that uses a mix of mobile channels.

How much are consumers willing to share with you?

If consumers are willing to tell us how to reach them via mobile devices, are they willing to disclose other pieces of information? It appears the answer is a resounding yes. The surveyed asked consumers, "When signing up for a retailer's text message marketing list, are you willing to provide your name and address if you receive a high-value mobile coupon in return?" Over three-quarters of respondents (75.49 percent) said yes.

This is good news for retailers looking to build high-quality SMS marketing lists as opposed to gathering lists of phone numbers. Marketers and retailers can build lists that include demographic and geographic data. All it takes is a coupon or discount that has a higher perceived value.

Key takeaways Mobile and smartphone usage continues to grow and has yet to peak. Text messages are a powerful tool to build opt-in marketing lists. Email and texts are an effective way of delivering mobile coupons to consumers. A multi-channel approach is required to reach large segments of mobile users. Consumers are willing to provide more personal data if they receive a high-value coupon/discount in return.

The CodeBroker survey also reveals some interesting data on how loyalty programs can benefit from a multi-channel approach as well. To learn more about that survey and see data on survey participant demographics, marketers can download a free copy of the Mobile Engagement survey.

Potential customers are telling us how to contact them. Perhaps we should listen.

 

How to Maximize Your Trade Show Strategy to Grow Your Business

Whether you only exhibit at one trade show a year or 20, trade shows are an effective way to grow your business. The exposure to your desired demographic and the ability to showcase your goods or services is invaluable. Yet, no matter how seasoned a brand is, many businesses fail to examine the strategy behind exhibiting. Instead, many businesses are last minute in all of their efforts when a concentrated trade show strategy would be much more effective.

If you're not currently doing any of the following, it may be time to adopt a new trade show strategy.

Develop a game plan with all of your stakeholders

First and foremost, you need to gather all of your stakeholders together to develop a game plan. Your trade show strategy could easily be derailed by any number of people across departments if you're not all on the same page.

In your meetings, you should discuss everything from designing your exhibit to budget, pre-show marketing, training your booth staff, post-show follow-up and how to measure your ROI from the show. We advise these meetings should begin right after your last trade show to prepare for either next year's or next quarter's show.

Design your trade show exhibit early

Your presence on the trade show floor is important.  You want to look your best, which is why you should design your trade show exhibit early.  Often, exhibit houses are able to devote more time to fleshing out a truly unique and creative design with ample time before a show. Additionally, those who design their trade show exhibits early are better able to take advantage of discounts and special offers. Those savings could translate into either a more custom design or extra room in the budget to host an event.

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Identify prospects early and create a campaign to attract them to your booth

They say the early bird gets the worm. In this case, the old adage is true. In order to capture a prospect's attention, it requires an average of nine to 11 touches. If you start an email and calling campaign early, you'll be the brand on their minds when they get to the show.

By starting early, you can also space out your communications so your prospects aren't bombarded with daily messaging. Nothing frustrates trade show attendees more than the last weeks before the show when everyone comes out of the woodwork to email them to stop by their booth. 

Give people a reason to stop

The latest trade show strategy is experiential events. Experiential events help draw people into your booth and make them experience your brand for themselves. There are a variety of these kinds of events: immersive, multisensory, or a good old-fashioned spectacle.

When done right, people stop at your booth to have fun while learning about your business. Consider how technology such as virtual reality, augmented reality, gamification and touch screens can all contribute to such an experience. Or you could go the route of entertainment, instruction, and more. The key is to give people a reason to stop by your booth instead of your competitor's.

Don't forget the post-show follow-up

Post-show, it's important that you follow up with prospects and leads within the first three days when the show is still fresh in their mind and your conversation might have struck a chord with them. Continue that conversation, invite them to lunch or simply tell them how much you enjoyed meeting them. You don't need to start off with a huge sales pitch. You're developing a relationship. As that relationship grows, it's more likely a qualified prospect will give you their business over a competitor.

A concentrated trade show strategy can yield much higher ROI than you could have imagined. However, a poor trade show strategy could ultimately be costly for a number of reasons: You may not have obtained the traction in the industry you hoped for, you may have spent far too much of your marketing budget, and you may have ultimately turned your own customers off in the process. A well-thought-out strategy can help avoid that and instead successfully grow your business.

How to Get a License for Your Construction Company

If you’re working in construction, there are a few different licenses that you might need to obtain. Different states classify construction work slightly differently, so you might find that what you do is considered carpentry in one state, but general construction work in another. To get more work and avoid fines, you’ll need to check the general contractor licensing requirements for your state. Here's what you need to know about how to get the different licenses to run your construction company effectively.

When Do You Need a General Contractor License?

Most states in the U.S. require contractors to have a general contractor's license to work legally. Others don’t require any license, no matter what type of work you do. You only need to register with the State Contractors’ Board or the local Department of Labor.

In many states, there are a few different types of general contractors’ license. Sometimes the license you need depends on the value of the job that you’ll be doing. For example, in Arkansas, you need a license for any jobs worth over $2,000, a Residential Remodeler Limited License for work up to $50,000, and a Commercial License for all jobs over $50,000. In Mississippi and Alaska, you’ll only need a license for jobs with a value of more than $50,000, but in California, you need a license for any job worth over $500.

In other states, the license you need depends on whether you are working on residential or commercial buildings, or other types of projects. Some states require licenses for residential work only, or only for remodeling and renovations but not for new build work. For example, Minnesota requires a license for residential building and remodeling jobs, but not for commercial contractor jobs.

How Do You Get a General Contractor License?

Each state has different requirements for getting a license. We can’t tell you what you’ll need to get a general contractor’s license in every state, but you can check the requirements for your state in this useful state by state guide to getting a general contractor license. Here’s a brief list of what you can expect for your general contractors’ license:

Proof of work experience, anything from 2-7 years

Pass a trade exam, or a business and law exam, or both

You might need proof of education, which can sometimes replace some years of work experience

Proof of financial stability, and/or a financial bond

Proof of general liability insurance, especially for licenses that allow you to work at the largest and most lucrative jobs

Most states issues their general contractors’ license through either the State Contractors’ Board or the Department for Labor, so those should be your first inquiries. It’s also important to check your local county or municipal boards for local licensing requirements.

When Do You Need a Specialty Contractor License?

A "specialty contractor" license refers to contractors who are licensed as experts in one particular field. Most states use the Construction Specifications Institute codes to divide construction work into 16 specialties, although California recognizes 44 different types of contractors. In these states, specialty contractors like carpenters, painters, electricians, and roofers each have different licensing requirements.

You can find out whether you need a license to work as a carpenter, painter, roofer or HVAC technician in your state by visiting the state-by-state guides to getting licensed for your specialty. Like with general contractors, you may need to get another license at the local level, through the municipality or the county, so check your local requirements as well as your state requirements.

How Do You Get a License as a Specialty Contractor?

You’ll need to check the license requirements for your state in order to know exactly what to do to get a specialty contractor license. But you might be asked for some or all of these requirements:

Show work experience

Pass an approved training course

Pass a trade exam

Pass a business and law exam

Present completed specialist projects

Show that you are financially solvent

Place a bond

Show that you have the necessary insurance

Most of the states that demand a specialist contractor license require you to apply for just one specialization. That means that if you’re thinking of becoming licensed as a carpenter, for example, you’ll have to give up on all electrician jobs. Other states allow you to carry out any specialized work as a handyman, as long as the value of the job is under a certain amount.  

Some states, such as Alaska, consider being a handyman as a specialist contractor field on its own, but most states don’t classify it as a specialization. In most states, either you’ll be able to work as a handyman without a license, or you’ll need a general contractor or remodeler license.

Although getting a license requires some effort, there’s no need to be worried. Read up on the requirements for your state and specialization, get the experience and pass the exams that you need, and get to work!

9 Sales Automation Systems Worth Checking Out

Finding the right sales automation tool for your business can be a real challenge, as there are numerous options on the market. But finding something that works right is important. Sales automation platforms can offer an effective way to manage your sales cycle by allowing you to oversee where clients are in the sales process, and they may come with a range of automated features and options to help customize messages or provide stronger insights into customers' preferences. 

So where can you start looking for something that works well with your setup? To help, we asked entrepreneurs from YEC to weigh in on the best sales automation tools to use when looking to increase revenue. Here is what they said.

1. ActiveCampaign

"Using ActiveCampaign has increased the lifetime value of our customers because it triggers personalized emails to our prospects and customers based on their behavior. This allows us to craft messaging that matches where they are in their journey and move them another step forward. The result is an amazing relationship with them and the ability to help them with bigger and better problems." – Monica Snyder, Birdsong

2. Calendly

"We use Calendly to help us schedule meetings. It's an easy-to-use tool that makes finding a good time to meet a breeze. You just send someone your Calendly link and they are able to book the day and time that works best for them from your availability." – Chris Christoff, MonsterInsights

3. ClearSlide

"ClearSlide is an awesome tool that lets you perfect your sales deck and pitch. It not only tells you who has opened your email, but also who has viewed your sales presentation, for how long, and what slides they spent the most time on. You can then follow up with those that are the most interested instead of blindly following up with people." – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

4. Conversica

"Conversica is an AI sales assistant that helps you turn cold leads into warm leads. The AI bot acts as your first point of contact with the lead and follows up until the lead continues to ignore the emails, or says yes or no. If the lead then says they want to learn more, it gets forwarded to the sales manager to close the deal." – Jared Atchison, WPForms

5. HubSpot Sales CRM

"I like HubSpot as a sales tool, but it depends on what level of automation you want. It's like a Swiss army knife, packed with tons of features. Our team knows when someone visits the website, opens an email or clicks a link. It also has calendar links so that they can book a meeting, it has built-in phone to take notes, and it has workflows, so I can design stages. All in all, a powerful tool." – Liam Martin, TimeDoctor.com

6. IFTTT

"This very versatile tool – which stands for If This, Then That – has a wide variety of applications for both personal and business use. There are applets for almost any function, and you can automate many tasks using them. It also integrates with just about every other major marketing tool, such as Google Analytics, Mailchimp, Asana, Trello and many others. Very good for automation and efficiency." – Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

7. Infusionsoft

"Infusionsoft is a convenient tool that helps streamline the entire sales process. You can automate email responses, create reports and forecast for future needs. This helps eliminate some time-consuming manual tasks." – John Turner, SeedProd

8. Nudge.ai

"Nudge.ai is a cool artificial intelligence tool that helps you build relationships that drive growth. When you're typing out an introduction email to a new contact, Nudge will scan the web for you to give you information – like mentions, company news and social activity – so that you can quickly and easily write more personalized messages." – Blair Williams, MemberPress

9. Outbound prospecting and follow-ups

"Using sales automation tools can be incredibly effective when done right. If you are able to combine the repeatable tasks involved in an outbound email campaign with manual personalization techniques, you can greatly increase your odds of success. In business-to-business sales, most buyers are not ready to buy or even connect with you right away. In these events, using follow-up features is critical." – Brandon Pindulic, OpGen Media

4 Mistakes You're Making With Your Content Marketing (and How to Fix Them)

Out of all the different kinds of marketing, one of the most effective is content marketing. Business owners around the world create content relating to their niche in an attempt to bring in potential customers and those with general inquiries.

The process of creating content seems straightforward, but there's a shocking number of nuances that you must pay attention to when creating articles for your website. Without even realizing it, marketers end up making numerous mistakes while creating and publishing content, which keeps the content from working as well as it should.

We are going to look at some of the most common content marketing mistakes – and what you can do to fix them on your website.

1. You're not creating enough value.

The first thing you have to ask yourself is, "Am I writing content that provides value to my audience?" If the answer is no, then you have to rethink the entire post.

The general rule of thumb is that all of the content you create for marketing must either answer a question or solve a problem. Think about what you're writing, why someone is going to land on your article, and what they are likely hoping to achieve by reading your content.

One rule we like to use is to create a list of questions before writing. When you have the topic of the piece in mind, write down questions people might ask themselves as they are reading. By the time you finish your piece, all of the questions you came up with should be answered in the text.

 

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2. Your content isn't evergreen.

Another common problem content creators run into is not making their content evergreen. When creating articles, think about whether or not they will still be valid months or years from now.

There are numerous ways you can make sure your content remains fresh long after it's published. When thinking of ideas, try to focus on information that will essentially be timeless. These are some types of timeless content:

How-to guides FAQs History of ... Tips on ...

What makes articles like these valuable is they can never be replaced. If you create a piece discussing tips on how to do something technical, and suddenly a new method to do the aforementioned technical thing is discovered, you can simply update your article.

If you write evergreen content, visitors will be able to enjoy it for years to come. You can update and revise them through the years and repost them to spark interest. This technique will ensure that it doesn't get buried underneath new posts in your blog.

3. Your distribution is lacking.

After you create a new piece of content, how do you share it with your audience? Most companies will simply retweet their article to followers, and that can get you traffic, no doubt. However, you can do better.

Take advantage of your subscriber list. They signed up for your newsletter because they are interested in what you're doing. You can either send out individual articles or create a weekly roundup of your content.

Research shows that the best time to send emails and get click-throughs is on Tuesday. You could send out your newsletter from the week before every Tuesday and generate traffic through this means of distribution.

You can also take your social media publishing a step further. Instead of just reaching out to your followers on Facebook and Twitter by posting your article, make sure you invest in ad campaigns. The purpose of the ad campaigns is to reach out to a greater audience.

If you have a particularly special or detailed piece coming out, you may want to set up a specific ad campaign targeting people who are interested in the topic. Facebook Ads Manager can help you pinpoint specific audiences and expand your distribution on a massive scale.

4. You're not using SEO.

Misuse or lack of search engine optimization is one of the biggest content marketing mistakes business owners make. In general, SEO is a method to increase visibility in Google's search algorithm. The goal is to make it on the top of the first page when someone searches for the keywords you use for your website.

Plenty of factors go into your ranking, such as the number of backlinks you use and have, your authority, and your social media presence. But you have to make sure you are implementing SEO properly in everything you do.

Avoid overusing SEO words, also known as keyword stuffing. Make sure to use the words in all of your images and meta descriptions. While writing your content, let the keywords flow naturally. Your readers (and Google) will know if you're jamming words into your piece just for the sake of ranking.

There are plenty of guides out there to help you understand the nuances and ever-changing algorithms within the SEO formula. You just have to make sure it's properly implemented in your content if you want to successfully market to a large audience.

Conclusion

Content marketing is a tricky area of every business. You have to find a happy middle ground between developing interesting content, using tools like SEO and backlinks, and reaching a wide audience.

It may seem like a struggle at first to fix all of these mistakes at once if you're making two or more of them in your content. Don't fret! You can become a marketing powerhouse if you take the time to consider your content, your audience and the resources at your disposal.

As you begin to create new content and generate traffic, your audience will grow, you'll get more followers and subscribers, and creating new content will become easier. As you get a larger sample size of the people interested in your content, you can work on developing articles that will have your audience checking back daily. Implement SEO, backlinks and smart sharing behind the scenes to overcome these common content marketing mistakes.

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