Category Archives: Essays

Seven Steps to Exceptional Email Etiquette [CONVERSIONS]

Ahh, anyone here remember that movie? Goodness! It was the Golden Age of the Web, and we were all (Internet) explorers, weren’t we?

Email is nothing new. It’s been around for decades now and everybody (including your grandma) is using it. But think about how much it’s evolved. Now, for a generation of young people, the meaning behind the title of the 1990s classic romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail, is all but lost, as no one – repeat: no one! – is still using the once-familiar audio notification from which the film gets its name. In the years since that film debuted, email has morphed. Nearly everyone has taken to viewing their email messages in their Web browser.

And the rise in popularity of SMS messaging via mobile devices has caused many people to adopt a shorthand, TXT-style approach to hammering out emails, just as they rattle off rapid-fire texts to their friends. This is despite the fact that, for the most part, the semi-archaic terms and conventions, which themselves derive from the workplace memorandum of yesteryear, have largely remained constant. What’s more, lacking professionalism can undermine your professional emails, which still call for a certain degree of formality, or at the very least, form and function.

One email statistics report points out that workers spend as much as one quarter of their day, on average, working with emails. Add to that the fact that other research confirms what we already suspect, that people feel inundated by email messages on a nearly constant basis, and you can see how important it is to use email effectively. With all that in mind, we’ve put together this essay to bring you up to speed on the state of email at this point, with the help of seven essential email etiquette rules.

And, as a marketer, email is an essential part of your day. But the field is crowded, as an estimated 54% of emails are marketing messages. Unfortunately, only 17% of emails are opened. Still, more than 60% of marketers say they believe email marketing works (according to data from Epsilon). To cut through all the noise inside your recipients’ inboxes, you need to know and employ some best practices when it comes to email marketing. If you can beef up that 17% open rate with compelling emails, you’ll be well on your way to boosting your conversion rate by well over the needed 10%, if you’re following along with the 7 Levers of Business framework.

November 2014 Promotional Calendar Ideas [Opt-Ins & Conversions]

DJI_Nov_novemberWelcome to the newest installment of our series covering promotional calendar events for a specific month! November presents a slew of interesting promotional opportunities, particularly for those businesses operating internationally, as the USA ramps up into its holiday season with full force and many countries partake in “Black Friday” sales the day after Americans celebrate Thanksgiving.

Oddly enough, there are no official public holidays in Australia during November, but there are still plenty of chances to beef up your promotional efforts with some worldwide celebrations and weeks of recognition. Although November holds some quirky days of celebration in various parts of the globe, we’re going to eschew National Plan Your Epitaph Day (2 November) and Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day (15 November) in favor of more interesting and engaging holidays. For similar reasons, we will urge you to skip over World Toilet Day, unless you happen to be in the plumbing trade (in which case, 19 November may be a great promotional opportunity for you).

In an effort to beef up the fun in your marketing and see more conversions as a result (one of the 7 Levers of Business, of course), we’ve put together this essay covering clever promotional ideas for November 2014. Without further ado, let’s get started!

5 Website Alarms to Check When Daylight Savings Comes [Traffic, Opt-Ins, & Conversions]

On 5 October, much of Australia (and New Zealand) enters daylight savings time, and a global campaign urges you to check the batteries in your smoke alarms as you change out the backup batteries in your clocks, in conjunction with time’s leap forward. Even if you’re not in one of the regions that does adopt daylight savings, officially, the campaign still urges you to take action around this time of year – and so do we!

Household safety should, of course, be your chief concern. But we’re going to add a few tasks to your to-do list each time you set your clocks forward an hour. So refresh the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, then move on to our list, presented here.

Daylight savings time is also the ideal time to take care of some of the often overlooked aspects of your online business.We thought we’d help you take things one step further and start our own little campaign around checking your website alarms.

Here are five ways you can use daylight savings time to your advantage, by using it as a time to give your website an annual checkup. Here’s your checklist with Action Items noted for each step.

How My Little Geek Used Kickstarter to Market Awesomely Nerdy Books for Kids [Case Study]

aa374eb3d432cb4cd7a591e95c31fdcaMy Little Geek is a series of kids books dreamed up, in 2011, by Sarah and Andrew Spear, a New Zealand husband and wife who wanted something more than the typical educational books for children.

The idea came to the couple when their daughter was two and a half years old, on a day when Sarah, a trained primary school teacher, and Andrew, a website designer, realised that the girl was using the word “delicious” to describe her food.

Feeling that, if their daughter could handle a word like “delicious,” she could probably handle a word like “electromagnetism.” At the time, the only books the couple had access to were the usual, run-of-the-mill ABC books where “A is for apple” and “b is for ball.”

As techies themselves, the Spears felt that it was time to take childhood learning up a notch – to offer something for the budding brains, the aspiring innovators, and all the other “little geeks” of the world.

Since publishing their first book, the pair has gone on to write two more books as well as produce a My Little Geek app. We recently caught up with Sarah to find out how she and Andrew marketed My Little Geek, complete with the behind the scenes details of how the couple used Kickstarter to market their first books, as well as their more recent products.

If you’ve considered launching a product through Kickstarter, Sarah and Andrew’s story is a must-hear, as it provides insights on how marketing outside of Kickstarter is required for a successful campaign. Before you press launch, you simply have to hear what Sarah recently shared with Preneur.

October 2014 Promotional Calendar Ideas [OPT-INS + CONVERSIONS]

octoberWelcome to our second instalment of essays focusing on promotional calendar opportunities for a particular month.

In creating this essay about October’s awesome calendar of events (and, more importantly, the promotional opportunities it presents), we encountered some real gems – and some real head scratchers. In an example of the latter, we’ve learned that 3 October is Virus Appreciation Day. That’s right, as in viruses, like, you know, influenza and ebola. Yikes!

Well, let’s rephrase that. No one is quite sure whether Virus Appreciation Day is meant to in some way celebrate biological viruses or computer viruses. In either case, we’re not taking too much stock in this October calendar event (though some clever promotions do come to mind if you happen to be in either the hand sanitizer or computer repair business).

We also failed to find much love for Moldy Cheese Day (though, if you think about it, isn’t all cheese “moldy?”). Likewise, we aren’t quite sure how to promote around Evaluate Your Life Day (19 October), unless you happen to be a Jedi. Other than these few “bad” examples (which admittedly, aren’t all that bad), October is brimming over with cool holidays and calendar events. In fact, October is so awesome when it comes to promotional opportunities, picking ones to leverage in your monthly marketing strategy is like shooting fish in a barrel.

So for this, our second essay listing promotional ideas for a specific month, we’ve had even more fun than in the first. October of 2014 is loaded with promotional gold, and with a little creativity, you can leverage the popular holidays and events belonging to the month of October can drive customers into your store as well as result in increased conversions (which happen to be two of the 7 Levers of Business, which can help you double your profitability).

Let’s take a look at some of the standout promotional events for October.

September 2014 Promotional Calendar Ideas [CONVERSIONS]

DJI_Dazzle_Sept_september2_cDo you know that 7 – 13 September 2014 is Migraine Awareness Week? Now, before you think of a million and one smarmy responses to that revelation, think about he marketing possibilities for such a week. As a solutions provider to your customers, you could put a clever spin on the oft maligned migraine by positioning your marketing efforts to offer relief for your customers’ headaches.

Okay, so maybe that examples a little too easy, but there’s plenty of merit to the idea. Have you ever noticed that nearly every week there’s some calendar event going on, be it a local, national or international holiday, an awareness week, a cultural celebration, or a lead-up to a major sporting event? Have you etover noticed savvy marketers in other businesses and industries seizing upon these calendar events and thought, “Wow, I wish I was that clever?”

Well, in this essay we’re bringing you good news. You don’t have to be a relentless agricultural almanac subscriber to make the most of all the sweet promotional opportunities offered by the calendar. You just need to know all the events and have a few creative ideas for each month.

And we’ve got you covered on both accounts, with a September calendar of events, plus some examples of promotions used by real-world businesses in the recent past. You can borrow from these examples by adapting them to suit your business, or wiping the slate clean and using the events to create your own original promotions.

In any case, the idea here is to drive traffic into your stores (or to your website) and boost conversions in the process. Let’s roll up our sleeves and dive right in.

Crafting Compelling Surveys and Questionnaires [Opt-Ins and Conversions]

Question

Client reconnaissance. Cool phrase, right? But what does it mean? “Preliminary surveying or research” is the strict answer, of course. And now that we’ve said that, you are likely to already know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you should be learning as much as you can about every lead that enters into your sales funnel.

That may tempt you to put surveys allover your various webpages – and you no doubt see lots of businesses doing that. Buy something; hit with a survey. Complain about something; offered a survey. Read a FAQ entry; treated to a survey. Take a survey; how about another survey?

Unfortunately, even as the business world embraces surveys based on the value of customer data, most businesses are getting it wrong when it comes to deploying surveys.

A 2013 journal article from Label & Narrow tells us that surveys have become a “scourge” for some consumers, citing the high saturation of surveys as a increasingly “annoying” aspect of modern business. The article, written by Mark Lusky, poses some interesting ideas as to what kinds of questions are worth asking, and when it’s best to ask them.

Lusky’s article is at least partly contrarian to customer surveys – at least, as they exist in the “shot-in-the-dark” format adopted by many businesses on the Web. But Lusky’s on to something.

And, though his article mostly refers to face-to-face client reconnaissance (suggesting that you take your customers out to breakfast to solicit their opinions), his article got us here at Preneur HQ thinking about how surveys can be used creatively.

Five Examples of Profitable Marketing with Micro-Commitments [Conversions]

Marry MeA good friend of the Preneur family, James Tuckerman, founder of Anthill Online and Not So Freaky University, has a great little anecdote about building profitable customer relationships. James explains the core of the relationship-building as follows:

You wouldn’t ask someone to marry you before you’ve shared a cup of coffee with them.”

James is spot-on about this. Though he’s making a point about starting out baby steps when it comes to earning sales, his philosophy brings to mind a slight caveat.

Building a profitable customer relationship is really about getting them to follow-through on a series of micro-commitments, before taking on the comparatively big, scary commitment of conversion.

While much is said about those broad, macro ideas about the sales process, what are the little steps along the way? The answer: those micro-commitments that constitute the interactions that lead up to the glorious sale at the end.

This essay focuses on micro-commitments. That is, small actions you ask your customers to take leading up to (and sometimes in lieu of) a big conversion step.

In this essay we’ll look at the following concepts:

  • An explanation of the psychology of micro-commitments
  • Buyer-identifying micro-commitments
  • Social sharing micro-commitments
  • Free-trial offers as micro-commitments
  • Payment micro-commitments
  • Customer feedback micro-commitments

These concepts aim to increase conversions (and sometimes opt-ins) by asking your customers to take small, non-threatening steps.

Let’s get started!

Engaging Alternatives to ‘Can I Help you?’ [Increasing Retail Opt-Ins by Asking Better Questions]

retail storeIf you’ve spent much time working in a face-to-face sales environment, you know that asking “Can I help you?” is the best way not to get a customer to take you up on your offer. In stores, the customary response to that greeting is “I’m just looking.” Generic questions like “can I help you?’ do nothing for encouraging the retail opt-ins you need to grow your business.

You need better questions to ask your prospective customers. It goes without saying that “How can I help you?” is a closed-ended question – one that can only elicit a yes or no answer. And when it comes to parting with money, people are inclined, by default, to say “no.”

A little basic psychology can help you overcome this challenge and win more sales just by asking more effective questions. Specific, focused, questions that urge interaction are the kinds of questions that will help you get your customers’ attention and make subsequent sales.

That means alternatives to “can I help you?” become a huge part of your marketing strategy.

In this essay, we’ll take a look at the following ways to help you skirt around the dreaded question, “can I help you?”

  • Understanding why “help” isn’t wanted
  • 25 Alternatives to ‘can I help you?’
  • A note on the importance of context
  • Establishing credibility
  • Following the steps
  • Why sales is about engaging, not interrogating

Asking the right questions will go a long way toward helping your double your profitability by pulling one of our 7 Levers of Business, Opt-Ins.

Let’s delve into the most profitable types of questions to ask your customers.

Expanding Revenues + Transactions Every Period by Selling Nothing but Air

 

skyYou’ve heard the old saying “the best things in life are free,” right?

Well, the spin we put on those timeless words of wisdom is “the best things to sell are free – or pretty close to it”.

What we’re talking about in this essay is how you can sell the relatively low-cost intangibles peace of mind, time, and personalization. These items, as you have probably already inferred, have the highest profit margins of all – as their cost is next to nothing!

Selling nothing more than air is not as hard as you think. In fact, many types of businesses have been at it for years. You can get in the game of selling intangibles by implementing the best practices outlined in this essay.

Before we get started, one thing we should clear up right away is that selling nothing but air (that is, intangibles) is all about connecting benefits with customer problems – even if the customer in question has never encountered the problem at hand.

All of the marketing tactics we are going to talk about today require a little action on your part. Namely, you have to know what can go wrong for your unique customers post-sale. Do you sell a product that could break? Is it a high theft item? Does the manufacturer’s warranty on the items you sell have unfriendly steps like shipping the item abroad, which you could absorb for your customers by offering an extended warranty or insurance plan?

Whatever the case may be, you can leverage selling intangibles like warranties and insurance to grow your revenue and increase profitability dramatically.

In this lesson, we’ll look at selling nothing but “air” as follows:

  • Selling extended warranties
  • Adding insurance onto the sale
  • Selling time and personal attention

Selling intangibles helps you pull two of our 7 Levers of Business (Items per Sale and Profit Margin) and that’s exactly why we are putting these tactics in focus in this essay. Let’s dive right in to see how it’s done!

about-pete
Pete Williams is an entrepreneur, author, and marketer from Melbourne, Australia.

Before being honored “Australia’s Richard Branson” in media publications all over the continent, Pete was just 21 years old when he sold Australia’s version of Yankee Stadium, The Melbourne Cricket Ground For Under $500! Don’t believe it? You will! Check out the story in the FAQ section (it really is our most asked question).

Since then, he’s done some cool stuff like write the international smash hit ‘How to Turn Your Million-Dollar Idea Into a Reality’ (+ the upcoming ‘It’s Not About the Product‘) and he’s created a bunch of companies including Infiniti Telecommunications, On Hold Advertising, Simply Headsets and Preneur Group.

Lots of other people think he’s pretty good too! He’s been announced as the Global Runner-Up in the JCI Creative Young Entrepreneur Awards for 2009, the Southern Region Finalist in the Ernst & Young 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year, and a member of SmartCompany’s Top 30 Under 30.

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