7 Foundational Small Business Marketing Tips to Drive Exponential Growth

Foundational Small Business Marketing Tips Drive Exponential Growth

Small business marketing is interesting, because you probably have all the expertise of big corporations, just not the massive budget! 

So how can you stand out?

The small business marketing tips below are designed to help you strategically build a powerful brand online, whether you’re a local business or have customers all over the country!

Inspiration for the article came from an interview I did, where the interviewer focused on smaller brands, and how they can turn average consumers into loyal customers without a big budget.

Why shouldn’t every small business be able to do that? The digital world is our oyster, and if we navigate it just right, we can create wonderful, lasting results!

1. What are the best social media platforms for small business marketing?

The best place to be is wherever your audience is. If your targets spend all their time on Instagram, for instance, that’s where you should be.

As a default, I’d recommend Facebook, partially because of how many people are on it, but mostly because it’s an easier platform to share recommendations.

On Facebook, your customers can share that they’ve worked with you (and tag you in that post), which is essentially them giving hundreds of others a personal recommendation to work with you, too.

Now multiply this effect by how many customers you have, and that’s how effective Facebook can be (in general) for small business marketing.

Is Word of Mouth Still Important for Brands
PC: Neil Patel

If you run an ecommerce site, Pinterest is also a great platform to engage viewers and convent them into happy customers.

Generally, the more places you can be, the better. But you’ll usually get the most benefit from focusing on the 1 or 2 platforms where your targets spend most of their time.

2. What are 3 topics a small business can focus on to develop content?

There are so many options! Which topics your business should focus on really depends on what questions your targets are asking.

If your target customers are asking questions around, say, maintaining HVAC units, you should be creating content around that.

Related: So, Why is Content King? And Why Does Content Matter?

If your targets are asking questions about tax preparation, filings, and deductions, your content should focus around that. 

The whole point of creating content is to add value. What would add value to your targets?

Answering your targets questions brings people to you, and helps you engage, convert, and keep customers.

If you’re not sure what specific questions your target customers ask, go to your sales team or account managers. Any questions they get are prime choices for your content strategy!

HubSpot Inbound Methodology

As far as 3 areas of content to focus on, I’d recommend:

  • Questions people ask before working with a business like yours
  • Questions people ask about your specific business
  • Questions customers ask after working with you
  • Bonus option: Any topic you think would add value to your targets

3. How often should small businesses post to better engage with their clientele?

Well, it depends – on your industry, on which platform, and on which study you look at it. They all give you different answers.

The more helpful blog posts you can get out, the better. Though 1 post every 2 weeks is a great starting point for small business marketing.

Studies show the best social media engagement on Facebook and LinkedIn comes at 5 posts a week, or 1 a day. For Instagram or Snapchat, it could be anywhere from 1-5-20 times a day!

Sending 1 email a week is just fine, and tweeting 2-5x a day is good.

How Often Should You Post on Social Media

How often you should post also depends on how social media fits into your content and advertising strategies.

If you only create 1 new piece of content a month, for instance, there’s not much sense in posting every day. What new value would you bring?

Aside from new content, you should also have conversations with your customers and followers from time to time, just like you would with your friends.

This keeps relationships strong, and keeps you at the top of customers’ minds whenever they’re talking with other friends (which can lead to more referrals).

4. Why is it important to have a Facebook business page separate from a personal page?

Great question! There are several reasons.

Having a Facebook business page gives your brand and website more search engine optimization (SEO) value, which helps bring more people to you.

When someone searches on Google for, say, “pest control near me,” you’ll stand a much better chance of being found with a Facebook business page than without.

Related: What’s the Reality of Social Media for Business? [Podcast]

A Facebook business page also lets you get, display, and share reviews from clients, which are valuable in helping you get new clients.

Reason #3 a Facebook business page is valuable is that it simply makes you look more professional. It brings you more clout compared to those who don’t have one, and looking better than your competition goes a long way in small business marketing.

5. How many words and images should a blog post have?

Generally, longer posts (on any platform except email) tend to get more engagement. Posts with more images tend to get more engagement, too.

But that doesn’t mean you should write super long stories every time, or add 100 photos to every blog article. There’s always a limit.

For good, informative content, 800-1,500 words with an image thrown in every 200-300 words is great. If you’re presenting in-depth research, 2,000-2,500 words is a good range.

Blog Post Length Search Results

Posts around 800-1,200 words tend to get the most shares, while posts with about 2,500 words tend to rank highest in search results, so write what’s best for your overall strategy.

Keep in mind that word count should be your last consideration when creating content. You first and foremost need to add value to your targets, and then you need to keep their attention.

6. What tools do you recommend small businesses use to promote their posts?

Truthfully, you can promote your posts rather well without tools, just by sharing on various platforms. Although, tools like Social Jukebox or Hootsuite can help you automate this process.

You can create a bunch of posts all at once, and then schedule those posts to go out when your audience is most likely to engage with them. (Mid-morning and late evening tend to be good times.)

Mailchimp and MailJet are both great for email newsletters or promotions.

There are also a million free video tools to help you create more entertaining content, like Boomerang for Instagram or any of Snapchat’s fun filters.

For brick and mortar small businesses, you need to have a Google My Business page, and an online listing wherever else you can get one.

Yext is a great service for creating and managing online listings on dozens of sites. It might cost more than other tools you use, but over time it will be worth it for many small businesses.

7. What else would you like to add?

The only good thing that happens instantly is winning the lottery. Successful small business marketing is going to take time, and probably a lot of trial and error.

Try not to get discouraged if things don’t take off quickly, and commit to promoting yourself a little more each day.

Related: 11 Digital Marketing Basics You Need to Eat & Breathe

3 Easy Business SMS Strategies to Increase Customer Retention & Value

Easy Business SMS Strategies Increase Customer Retention Value

Happier customers stay with you longer, give you more money, and recommend you to others. These business SMS strategies are designed to create happier customers.

Let’s dig in!

A few key factors create great customer experiences, and you know what? They have nothing to do with your products or services.

What you sell has to be good, of course. But people often care more about how they’re treated

Thus, increasing customer retention and value has more to do with being there for people than selling the industry’s best.

This is vital, because even a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 25%-90%! It also costs 5X-25X more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer.

Communication – particularly business SMS – has a big impact on these relationships! (For those unfamiliar, business SMS refers to texting as a brand, professionally and with a specific voice. Click here for more.)

And here are 3 easy business SMS strategies to help you increase your customer retention and value.

Strategy #1 → Use Business SMS for Customer Service and Support

When one of your customers has a need, you want to resolve it immediately. Otherwise, emotions fester, and a small issue begins to reshape their entire perception of your business!

Is that something you want?

Customer service shapes businesses. For instance, the general public hates Comcast for their terrible customer service, but Zappos’s customer service made them famous!

Which would you rather be?

Business SMS Creates Better Customer Service Experiences
PC: The Comic News

Several factors go into great customer service, including:

  • Speed
  • Convenience
  • Friendliness, and
  • Conflict resolution

Each of these impacts customer retention and value in different ways.

Speed and Convenience

Speed and convenience go hand in hand. That’s why everything mobile is so popular these days! You get instant access to everything from your pocket.

Your customer service should be the similar.

Online resources are a great start. Abundant FAQs and self help docs provide instant solutions to a lot of needs. But people are still going to contact you.

What then?

Should they email you? If so, how quick are you to provide a solution? The average email response time is over 6 hours. What if the issue keeps them from doing their jobs? That’s not good!

Should customers call you? No one likes waiting on hold, as is the case with 86% of answered calls. If you’re stuck on the phone, you can’t do much else.

Who is that good for?

Customer Service Text vs Call

Live chat options can be okay, so long as customers can stay on your website. Yet texting – business SMS – is different.

What makes texting different for customers?

Unlike email, when people text they expect a fairly quick response. It doesn’t have to be immediate, but it should be soon.

Texting also allows customers to get on with their day during the conversation, which isn’t the case for calls or live chat.

More importantly, texting is how customers prefer to communicate! If nothing else, you should meet your customers’ preferences.

Plus, 95% of texts are read within 3 minutes of being sent, and they have a 90-second average response time. 

That’s the kind of quick and convenient service that will make customers happier, and keep them around longer!

Consumers Always Looking for Easier Way

How to Implement Business SMS for Customer Service and Support

There are 3 pieces to successfully implementing business SMS for customer service and support. Luckily, they’re all easy.

  • Customers must know they can text you
  • You need a system for handling texts (e.g. Text Request)
  • You need established processes for employees
Awareness

If customers don’t know they can text you, they won’t. So tell them it’s an option, and what it should be used for.

Maybe your website footer should say, “Text us at XXX-XXX-XXXX for questions and support!” Maybe you place a similar notice in your FAQs and help docs, or maybe you include it in your customer portal.

If people know they can text you, they will. So let them know!

Related: 9 Ways to Let People Know Your Business Texts

System

You don’t want all of your customer service representatives texting from personal cell phones. There wouldn’t be any consistency or oversight!

You want 1 number for customers to text, and 1 dashboard for all of your reps. Text Request makes this easy, and you can click here to schedule your demo.

Processes

A business without processes is chaos. But you’ve already got processes for everything else you do, so this should be easy.

You’ll want to cover:

  • Who’s responsible for what
  • At what times they’re responsible for it
  • If-then’s → If a customer says X, you say Y

Once you tell people to text you and have a system in place for handling those conversations, you’re good to go!

Additional Opportunities

Being able to service customers quickly and conveniently through their preferred channel goes a long way!

This kind of service creates better experiences, which increases customer retention and value. Sounds good, right?

But there are more opportunities, too!

Get More Reviews through Business SMS
PC: Neil Patel

Let’s say you just quickly and conveniently helped a customer. This is a perfect opportunity to get a good review!

You can end the conversation with a text like, “Glad we could help! Share your experience at goog.le/mybiz.”

Because reviews are so powerful, this will help you get more customers.

Strategy #2 → Use Business SMS to Increase Collections

When you provide services for someone, you should get paid. Duh.

But sending bills and reminders in the mail gets expensive. Does anyone open those letters, anyway?

And unless you get everyone registered for automatic bill pay, you’re subject to miss out on collections.

This hurts your business, and makes it difficult to predict revenues! There’s got to be a better way, right?

The Problem

Nobody really wants to pay bills. Even if it’s on their radar, it’s probably not a priority. People are busy, and they forget.

This is bad for you, and it’s bad for the customer, because their coverage or service could lapse. That’s not good!

But you know this, and it’s why you send keep sending emails and mailing bills. Maybe you even try calling!

But here’s the problem.

Business SMS Helps You Achieve Your Goals

Mailed bills are added to the stack of other mail that needs to be checked “eventually.”

Emails aren’t opened and read (emails have ~20% open rate and a 3% engagement rate).

Most people won’t answer unsolicited calls these days (only about 20% of people are willing to answer calls).

And voicemails are almost entirely neglected (again, about ⅕ people check their voicemail within a week).

The problem is that, despite all your efforts, you can’t connect with your customers!

The Solution

If the problem is an inability to connect, then the solution is a better way to connect. But what’s better?

99%+ of text messages are read.

This is important.

99%+ of text messages are read.

It’s the #1 preferred form of communication, and it’s the #1 most used feature on smartphones, even beating out the internet! Texting gives you a direct line to your customers, instantly. 

Related: 63 Texting Statistics That Answer All Your Questions

So how does this turn into more money? I’m glad you asked!

Sarah, a VP at Healthcare National Marketing, wanted to improve their customer retention and collections. They couldn’t reach customers when they needed, so they tried texting.

After 3 months of using Text Request, Sarah told us:


“We have seen an increase in sales by 17%, an increase in collections by thousands a week, and a 66% increase in customer retention!”


Texting helps improve your collections, because it instantly puts your message in customers’ pocket, and virtually guarantees that they’ll read it.

How to Implement Business SMS for AR and Collections

You’ve got 2 options, both relatively easy:

  • Automated messages, based on due dates
  • Manually sending messages as needed

Either way, you need to be personal and friendly. Texts are an intimate tool, and people love their money, so the worst thing you can do is come across like a money-hungry robot.

But if you’re happy and helpful (we’ll give examples of this below), everyone wins!

Automated Messages

You have the due date for every customer’s bill in your computer records system.

With a bit of programming, you can have texts automatically sent to each customer X days before their due date, on the due date itself, or whenever you think would be helpful.

Keep Calm and Do It Better

You can also – actually, you should also – include a link where each customer can pay their bill. For example, you might send the following text 2 weeks before the due date:

“Hi [Jim], this month’s statement is now available! Pay it now at [mybiz.com/pay]. Thanks! – [Julie at Company]”

Or maybe you send this a couple days before it’s due:

“Hi [Jim], your bill is due on the [21st]. You can pay it here: [mybiz.com/pay]. Have a great day! – [Account Rep @ Company]”

Because every text is read, because it’s so convenient, and because texts have such high engagement rates, your collections will drastically improve.

Plus, if you automate the process, it’s something you can set and forget! To learn more about automating text messages for customer payments, contact us!

Manually Sending Messages

This is a good option for businesses with a few hundred customers or less, or who might not have web development resources at their beck and call.

Each day (or maybe each week) check your list of customers to see who has an outstanding balance. Then send each of those customers a text, like one of the examples given above.

Mark Zuckerberg Messenger Business SMS

Manually sending messages is still 10X faster than calling, and 5X more effective than emails. That’s definitely going to help with collections and retention!

Strategy #3 → Use Business SMS for Ongoing Customer Engagement

Why wouldn’t you want to keep them around longer and increase their value? It’s a no-brainer!

Except, no one’s going to keep coming back to you without a reason. That’s where ongoing customer engagement becomes crucial, and we’ll show you how business SMS can help.

Customer Success

Many businesses have a process for handling new customers, and for making sure they have success with your product or service. These processes tend to involve a good deal of communication.

Calls, emails, and webinars are all powerful tools during this process! And so are texts.

How to Implement Business SMS for Customer Success

Texts are great for giving a heads up, reminders, and friendly updates. Let’s say you’ve just sent your customer an important email. You want to make sure they read it, right?

Customers will benefit from what’s in your email, and that’s good for business! So let’s make sure they read your important emails, and take any necessary next steps.

Related: 4 Simple Steps to Implementing Text Request at Your Business

After you’ve sent your important email, send your customer a text about the email. Here are a couple of examples.

“Hey [Amy], this is [Josh @ Company]. Just sent you an email. It’s really important that you read it and follow the steps. Thanks!”

“[Amy], just sent you an email with important details for your account. Please be sure to read it when you have a moment. 🙂 Thank you! – [Josh @ Company]”

You can also send reminders, like:

“Hey [John], looking forward to our training call tomorrow. Let me know if anything changes! – [Kim]

And then there are customer check-ins. After a customer is up and running, it’s a good practice to touch base at least every 3 months.

Richard Branson Customer Expectations Quote

Emails and calls might work for this, but texts are far more powerful for building and maintaining client relationships, which is exactly what you want. So pop in with a text like:

“Hey [Stacy], hope you’re well! What can I help you with these days? – [Kelly @ Company]”

A few texts back-and-forth is a great way to update customers’ goals and your value. This also gives customers a reason to stick with you.

Now all you have to do is add “Text customers” as a step in your customer success processes. It’s that simple.

Promos, Recommendations, and Upselling

A customer’s full value often doesn’t come from a 1-time purchase, but from repeat purchases.

Every time someone buys from you again, your cost per sale goes down and your revenue per customer goes up. That’s good for business!

So how can business SMS make this happen?

How to Implement Business SMS for Promos, Recommendations, and Upselling

If you’ve ever bought from Amazon, you’ve gotten an email about similar products that “You may also like.”

You can follow this same concept with text, whether or not you’re in retail. For instance, if you’re a home service company, you might text customers for seasonal promotions, like:

“[John], thought you might like our new [Summer Offer]. Past customers like you get an extra 20% off! Let me know. 🙂 – [Kevin @ Company]”

It’s personal, it’s friendly, and it’s relevant. These are key factors in texting for sales and promotions, because no one wants to be spammed.

Online Texting from Computer

Another text you might send:

“Hey [John], just got [a new product] in. Members get 20% off. Want to take a look? – [Kevin @ Company]”

Or, let’s say you’re an insurance agent, and you notice property values have gone up. Why not text your clients to see that their policies are up to date? Example:

“Hey [Liz], I noticed property values in your area are going up. Awesome! We should make sure your policy is up to date, though. Have time for a call this week?”

Related:4 Effortless Business Texting Strategies to Increase Sales

In cases like this, you’re offering great service, helping people, and creating upsell opportunities. That’s good business! And it applies to many industries, whether for events, new offers, or product recommendations.

You could automate these messages, but it would be difficult to ensure every automated promo is personal, friendly, and relevant.

More commonly, your 2 options will be:

  • Sending messages to groups of relevant customers, or
  • Sending individual messages as specific opportunities arise

Just use messages like the examples above, and you’re off to the races! It’s a simple way that business SMS can boost your customer value and your bottom line.

Lost Business Cartoon

Customer Touch Points and Relationship Building

People place a lot of value in being treated like – well – people. No one wants to be just a number, and your business can stand out by showing that you care.

Business SMS makes this very easy.

You see it commonly with, say, financial advisors. They’ll send you a little note on your birthday. Doesn’t that make you feel good?

Other companies, like Starbucks, will send you promotions or coupons as birthday gifts. How lovely!

Your business can follow this same approach through text, and you don’t have to be limited to birthdays (although it’s a great starting point).

How to Implement Business SMS for Customer Touch Points and Relationship Building

Customer anniversaries, holidays, birthdays, and similar days are all great opportunities to show customers how much you care.

And because texts are so personal, these touch points feel special. That adds up to higher customer satisfaction and stronger customer loyalty. Plus it shows kindness.

Who wouldn’t want that?

Text Request Nurtured Leads Make Larger Purchases

Depending on your business, and when you’ll send texts, you might automate these messages. Or, you might send them each individually.

Customer anniversary, holiday, and happy birthday texts can all be automated, because they’re the same each year. Simply set the dates, and forget about it!

All it takes is a bit of developing to add these messages as triggers in your current CRM or POS. An example birthday text you might send is:

“Happy birthday, [Kelly]! Enjoy 50% off your next [Company] purchase, and have a great day! *birthday hat emoji* 🙂 ”

For customer anniversaries you might say:

“[Jim] it’s been [1] year(s) since you started working with us. Man, has time flown! Enjoy a free [product or service] as thanks. – [John @ Company]”

For holidays, just include “Happy [holiday]” and any promotion you’re currently running.

Related: What Does It Mean to “Text Like You Text Your Friends”?

Individual customer events can be very effective, and show a lot of consideration on your part. They tend to work best with small businesses who have account reps that work closely with customers.

For instance, if you know when one of your customer’s or client’s kids has a birthday, you might want to send them a text like:

“Hey [Kim], wishing [Alex] a happy birthday today! Hope you all are well. 🙂 ”

Or if someone has a graduation, or if you see someone recognized in the local paper, you can send a similar message.

If it’s relevant, you might even offer a coupon. All this takes is a note or scheduled task in your calendar or CRM. That’s so easy!

Wrapping Up

Business SMS is a flexible and powerful tool. If used properly, like in these strategies, you can use to significantly boost your customer retention and value!

Who wouldn’t want that?

All you need to do now is make sure you have a solid system in place for texting with customers.

Not quite sure what that should look like for you? Click here to schedule your Text Request Demo, and talk with one of our experts!

7 Simple Steps to Quickly Convert More Online Leads

Simple Steps Quickly Convert More Online Leads

Your business can thrive in the digital world, if you do the right things. And first on that list is learning how to convert more online leads.

You work hard for your leads. You spend a lot of money to get them. Yet only 20% of qualified leads become customers.

Why is that?

These people have given you their info, passed your screenings, and are clearly interesting in what you offer. So why aren’t they converting?

We’ll cover several reasons why your online leads aren’t converting, and – more importantly – what you can do to convert more of them.

Keep Calm and Convert More Leads

As you read, keep your current numbers in mind. Like how much it costs to get a new customer, and what they’ll spend with you over their customer lifetime.

Even a 1% increase in your conversion rates can lead to a 10%, 20%, or higher increase in your overall profit! That means following just one of these simple steps could easily grow your business by 10% or more.

Seriously?

Yes.

Why should I focus on online leads, instead of other leads?

Great question.

If you get a lead from a personal referral (good job!), you can do almost anything and still get their business. Referrals are incredibly powerful, and we’re trusting you don’t need help there.

Whoever they are, your targets are virtually guaranteed to be online. People spend anywhere from a few hours to 10+ hours online a day!

Average Daily Media Consumption
PC: ZenithOptimedia & Quartz

We’re online for work, for leisure, for entertainment, for just about everything.

That’s why you should focus on getting and converting online leads. It’s where your audience lives!

Another reason – and a big advantage – is that everything online can be tracked.

You can know where each lead comes from, what they do on your site, what marketing messages they engage with, and more.

This data is crucial, because it gives you direction and insight for your future decisions. That’s a lot better than just blasting out commercials!

Normally, it’s more efficient and profitable for your business to focus on online leads. So how can you convert more of them?

1. Make it easier.

Whenever you want to improve something between your business and your customers, the default should be to make it easier.

Make what easier?

Everything.

Consumers Always Looking for Easier Way

You shop at the grocery store near your home or your job, because that’s easier than going to the store all the way across town.

You use Facebook to connect with friends and family, because it’s easier than writing letters to everyone.

No one wants to make their life more difficult, but everyone wants to make their life easier. When you simplify what you do and how you do it, everyone wins!

This applies to your website, your marketing, your sales funnel, and your business as a whole.

2. Follow up till you get the “no.”

Most online leads never convert, because your salesmen and your marketers give up.

Well, they should be focusing on the hottest leads, right?

Not exactly.

As impulsive as we’d like to think our targets’ buying habits are, the truth is everyone goes through a process before purchasing, particularly if it’s a big ticket item, or if it’s for their business.

This process takes time.

Related: 13 Stupid Excuses Decision Makers Give to Blow Off Sales Calls (& How to Respond)

Over 80% of sales come after at least 5 follow-ups. Yet it’s estimated that 44% of salesmen never follow up more than once, and 92% follow up less than 5 times.

That’s outrageous!

You can’t just give up on your leads! Who knows when the time will be right for that person to buy?

Lost Business Cartoon

Lucky for you, following up is easy.

It might come in emails, phone calls, texts, or retargeting online, but every lead needs to hear from you repeatedly.

If you aren’t following up with your online leads until they either purchase or tell you “never contact me again,” you are substantially missing out.

3. Make it faster.

Page Speed

Do you know how long the average viewer spends on your website?

About 15 seconds.

You might see an “average session duration” of much longer in your analytics. But if you look at individual session times, most of your viewers probably jump ship instantly.

Why would they do that?

Probably because you aren’t fast enough.

But if they’re already a lead, why would it matter how fast we are?

Because those people still need to go back to your website to read your content, buy your stuff, create their account, or learn more about what you do.

If you’re not fast enough, your leads won’t convert.

After all, 40% of viewers leave a webpage if it takes even 3 seconds to load. So your website needs to be as quick as possible.

Load Times Bounce Rate Comparison Think With Google
PC: Think With Google

Two good tools for checking your website’s speed are Pingdom and Google’s PageSpeed Insights.

If you need to get your webmaster on board, both of these tools also give recommendations on what to change.

Finding Answers

Just as important as making your website faster is allowing viewers to get what they need faster.

If I show up to your website for the first time, how easy is it to find and get what I need?

How easy is it for me to sign up, view pricing, learn how it works, or see what others are saying about your products and services?

These questions are why so much emphasis is placed on “above the fold” content – everything that’s viewable on the screen without scrolling. Your most important details need to be front and center.

I Wanna Go Fast Ricky Bobby

Whatever is above the fold will get the most attention, so plan accordingly.

What do you want viewers to see first? What will be most helpful for them?

To make things easier, you’ll need to understand your typical viewer (Lucky Orange is a good tool for this). When you more quickly give people what they want, you’ll convert more online leads.

Related: The 2 Questions Everyone Asks Before Making a Purchase

Communication

When people search online, they don’t just look at one company.

They view content, download resources, get quotes, and research several brands before making a decision.

That means your online leads are probably also your competitor’s online leads. Why should they choose you?

People generally don’t care about finding the greatest product in the world, and they don’t always care about the best deal, either.

We care about solving our problem quickly.

In fact, speed is such an important factor in consumer behavior that up to 50% of all sales go to the vendor who responds first.

Importance of Timing in Business

Not the vendor who gives the best answers.

Not the vendor who has the best products, or the most cost efficient option. And not the vendor who creates the biggest “wow factor.”

The vendor who gets nearly half of all sales is the one quickest to respond to prospects’s needs. If you want to convert more online leads, you need reach them faster.

Triggered emails are great, but the easiest way to reach your leads faster is to text them.

99% of texts are read, virtually all within a few minutes. Texts have an average response rate of 45%, and an average response time of 90 seconds.

What’s faster than that?

When you can reach your leads faster, you’ll inevitably convert more of them.

Related: 63 Texting Statistics That Answer All Your Questions

4. Be direct.

When left alone, we tend to do nothing. It’s like when your spouse asks you to do something.

Would you have done it without them asking? Probably not. You at least would have waited longer to do it.

But when they asked you, and then when they asked you again (and again), you moved closer and closer to getting the job done. The same applies to your leads.

You need to ask them, tell them, and prompt them to take action.

Otherwise, they won’t do anything! And all those resources you spent getting those leads will be wasted.

Related: 11 Digital Marketing Basics You Need to Eat & Breathe

Do you want them to read an article? Schedule a demo? Purchase?

Tell them!

Give your online leads a very simple call-to-action whenever you interact with them.

The call-to-action shouldn’t always to purchase. If they’re only cool leads, make the call-to-action something that will move them to the next stage of your funnel, like scheduling a webinar, or reading a customer case study.

Once they’re far enough along in your sales funnel to be considered a hot lead, then ask them to purchase.

HubSpot Inbound Methodology
PC: HubSpot

If you don’t encourage leads to do something at every stage, they’ll just sit around and do nothing. When your call-to-actions are clear, simple, and direct, you’ll convert more online leads.

5. Grease the wheels.

When something isn’t working smoothly – like a door hinge or a part of your vehicle – the go-to solution is to add a little grease.

When your sales funnel gets sticky, and leads aren’t flowing like they should, do the same thing. Add a little grease.

Add something to your sales funnel that will help it run more smoothly. But what?

The exact answer depends on your business and what you’re already doing, but here are a couple of options.

Add another step.

Leads often won’t make it from one stage of your funnel to the next, because you’re asking them to take too large a step.

Instead of taking a lead from new visitor straight to purchase, for instance, you might need to slip another step or two (or several) in between.

Maybe ask them to read a case study on one of your other customers (and what the ROI was, if applicable).

Instead of trying to take an email subscriber straight to purchase, maybe you should share a piece of content on the problems your product or service solves, or to watch a video.

At the end of the article or video, maybe you should ask them to schedule a call. 

People are much more likely to take smaller steps than bigger ones. If you want to convert more online leads, try adding smaller steps in between stages.

Change up what you’re doing.

Doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity, right?

So if your calls, emails, and other campaigns aren’t working well for you, switch it up!

If You Want Something You've Never Had

Try different advertisements and channels, different emails, different content, and different methods of communication.

Something simple that’s proven to boost sales by 100% or more is texting – actual conversations, not just blast marketing.

Whenever you get an online lead, follow up with them with a text. It’s simple and effective.

If you’re not converting online leads like you want, add a little grease! Add an extra step or change up what you’re doing to smooth out the process.

Related: 8 Benefits of Texting for Business That You Desperately Need

6. Focus on a few key numbers.

There’s a lot of data out there, and if you try to focus on all of it, you’ll just get bogged down. That’s not helpful.

Instead, hone in on a few important figures, like:

  • cost per qualified lead
  • cost per acquisition
  • bounce rate, and
  • new visitor to lead conversion rate

Lifetime value of a customer is also an important figure, but it falls more into customer success than customer conversions.

What these numbers can show you is where to focus your efforts. What part of your funnel needs to be easier?

Less is More Convert More Online Leads

If your new website visitor to lead rate is low (benchmark is 4%), you know to focus on improving your lead capture.

What can you do to get more conversions on your top pages?

Exit forms, content downloads, or other on-page lead capture forms might be right for you. You can also offer discounts and promotions.

There are plenty of options, so start by trying one or two and seeing what happens. Then repeat.

If your new user bounce rate is bad (benchmark is 25% – 30%), you might need to make your pages more relevant to your target audience.

What do people actually want when they get to your site? And what are you doing that’s driving people away?

(Note: Blog bounce rates are always way higher, and that’s normally okay.)

After you get a lead, can you ever reach them again? After someone’s done a demo, how quickly do they convert (or tell you to shove it)?

The purpose in gathering data is to see what you can improve. To convert more online leads, focus on just a few key metrics, and take action where you can.

7. Test, optimize, repeat.

The golden rule in converting leads is to test, optimize, and repeat.

If you have the resources, the easiest way to test is to pit two options against each other.

Send half of your viewers or leads option 1, and the other half option 2. This A/B testing lets you directly compare which option works better – with real results.

Solid Leads Cartoon

You should test and optimize for:

  • copy and phrasing
  • colors
  • images
  • positioning
  • call-to-actions

And every other aspect of both your website and your sales funnel.

If you don’t know what works better, you won’t be able to improve, and you won’t convert more leads.

Test a couple of options, optimize accordingly, and then move on to the next thing you want to test.

To convert more online leads, you need to know what they engage with best. The only way to learn is it to test.

Wrapping Up

There are plenty of things you can do to convert more online leads, but truthfully, it will always boil down to one thing.

Make it easier!

People always want an easier way, and that makes your job simple. Cut the fluff, and walk your leads through simple stages.

By focusing on making things easier at every turn, you will inevitably convert more online leads, and build an amazing business along the way.

Related: Is Online Texting Right for Your Business?

Does Anyone Answer Phone Calls Anymore?

Does Anyone Answer Phone Calls Anymore

Does anyone answer phone calls anymore?

The official answer is: Not really. As far as trends show, phone calls will always have a place, but people would rather type. There will always be times where speaking is better than typing, but for now the general public says: Why take several minutes to do something that could be done in a few seconds?

There’s plenty of research and opinion as to why answered calls are steadily on the decline. Call it convenience, call it control, call it efficiency. Call it whatever you want, you’re probably right.

The bottom line is that people prefer text, email, and instant message (live chat) over speaking on the phone. Whatever your particular opinion, people tend to view typing as better than speaking. Here are a few reasons why.

Every one of us has been burned by sales calls.

And by unwelcome family conversations. We’re shy of answering calls, because we either don’t know what’s on the other end, or we don’t want what’s on the other end.

Software Advice ran a study with interesting yet unsurprising results. About 10% of adults are willing to answer calls from toll-free numbers. 15% are willing to answer calls from out of town. And still less than 30% of adults are willing to answer unrecognized local numbers.

This doesn’t mean calls to them are answered 10%, 15% 30% of the time. It means that if they aren’t currently occupied, they would be willing to answer, which brings up the next reason no one answers their phone anymore.

Text Request Answer Phone Calls

People are busy.

Phone calls are often distractions. It’s not that the person calling doesn’t have something valuable worth sharing. They might! But that value can often be given in the form of an email, text, or any other way that doesn’t derail whatever you’re working on.

People spend up to 15 seconds reading an email or text, yet the average phone call is almost 2 minutes. Plus it can take us up to twenty minutes or more to regain focus after being distracted! And we understand this.

Why accept a distraction that could ruin your next half hour? If it’s important, they can leave a message. (Except no one listens to voice mail, either, so it would still need to be typed.)

We generally want to be in control and respected.

We want to dictate our own schedules and tasks, and we want our efforts to be considered. In today’s world, phone calls are inherently presumptive. You call a person when you view your own goals or desires as more important than the goals and desires of the person you’re calling.

The unspoken response is often: How dare you try to undermine my work? When we answer phone calls, we give up control to the caller – something people generally hate to do.

If you’re looking for an exact number of how many calls are answered, there really isn’t one.

There’s no conclusive study freely available (not that we can find, at least). But all the data and trends (probably your own experiences, too) show that people prefer typing to speaking.

Even though phone calls can be valuable in certain situations, people really don’t answer their phones anymore. People really only answer phone calls when they think it will make them more money, or when they want to hear someone special’s voice.

People have found better ways of communicating that keep things under their control while weeding out unwanted solicitors.

How Many Emails Do People Get Every Day?

how-many-emails-do-people-get-every-day

Love it or hate it, email is the most pervasive communications tool around. In fact, the average worker checks their email 74 times a day! (Tweet this!) Just how many emails do people get every day?

How Many Emails Do People Get Every Day?

In 2015, 205.6 billion emails were being sent and received every day. (We don’t have 2016’s solid numbers yet.) That comes to just under 6.2 trillion emails sent worldwide in a 30-day period, and equals roughly 74-75 trillion emails sent last year around the globe.

How Many Emails Do People Get Every Day

Worldwide, there are roughly 2.6 billion email users. Together, they own more than 4.3 billion email accounts – a ratio of 1.7 email accounts per user.

These users receive an average of 88 emails per day, but they only send 34 emails per day. That means people are getting more than 2.5X more emails than they’re sending out! (Tweet this!)

How Many Emails Do People Get Every Day 1

What Do Open Rates Look Like?

Email open rates are currently averaging around 30%, while click-through rates average 3.2% across industries. This means that about 1 in 11 opened emails gets a click-through.

Mobile is the preferred device for checking email, accounting for 54% to 70% of total email opens. (Tweet this!) In other words, unless your brand is atypical or targets an older demographic, you need to be focusing on mobile.

Spam messages (newsletters, marketing, promotions, etc.) account for half of all sent emails (49.7%).

When & How Do People Best Engage With Emails?

So much of the best time to send emails depends on your industry, and on what kind of emails you’re sending. For instance, Saturday and Sunday are great for publishing and media companies. 50%+ of Americans admit to checking their phones in bed, and 79% of Americans check their phones with 15 minutes of waking up. So people wake up, scroll through notifications, and start reading whatever content is interesting.

However, other studies have shown that Tuesdays are best for open rates, and that Thursdays are best for click-throughs. (These are typically business-related emails.) Fridays seem perpetually awful.

The best open rates and click-through rates vary by industry. For instance, bank and credit card emails have open rates of ~48% and click-through rates of 3.8%, while retail apparel emails have open rates of ~28% and click-through rates of 2.3%.

How Many Emails Do People Get Every Day
Epsilon Q4 Industry Benchmark Email Open Rates

The best time of day varies (of course), but you’ll generally do well in 4-hour intervals. 6am, 10am, 2pm, and after 8pm get the best results.

One interpretation would say these are the times when people are looking for something to distract them. When they wake up, after they’ve worked for 2-3 hours, when the afternoon crash strikes, and when relaxing in the evenings.

10am holds the #1 spot, but again, all of this depends on your audience. If you’re a cocktail brand targeting party-goers, 6am probably isn’t a good time to send emails. But if you’re an enterprise software targeting business VPs, 6am could be your oasis!

Best Time to Send How Many Emails Every Day

What’s the Best Length for an Email?

You’ve only got 10-15 seconds to grab and keep someone’s attention, so the quick answer is: short. (Tweet this!)

Based on an average reading speed of 200 words per minute, that gives you 30-50 words with which to captivate your readers. But that’s not the whole picture. (To learn more about keeping someone’s attention in an email, click here.)

The highest read rates reportedly come from emails with subject lines of 61-70 characters, which might account for emails containing articles and other content with long titles. Interestingly, subject lines with 2 words or less get higher open rates.

How Many Emails Do People Get Every Day 2

Subject lines featuring the word “quick” are opened at a 17% lower rate than those without. Since people tend to view email on mobile devices, and since those devices can only display 4-7 words in a line, the subject line “Question” could be a good fit for many intro emails. (It’s certainly a popular choice.) So could your name, your company’s name, or the name of your recipient.

Surprisingly, emails with no subjects at all are reportedly opened at an 8% higher rate than those with subject lines. Apparently it makes people curious.

Those with “Alert” in the subject line were opened at an almost 62% higher rate! Though, you can only use that trick sparingly, lest you become the brand who cried wolf.

Bringing It All Together

Email can be great, but too many people get too many emails. Think of the emails you send like tweets. Short, punchy, and images can always help.

Remember that mobile is key. Most importantly, you have to test everything you do! If you don’t test between options and characteristics, you’ll never know what your best campaigns could be, or what you’re missing out on!

The 2 Questions Everyone Asks Before Making a Purchase

questions everyone asks before making a purchase

The customer buying process is really quite simple. Whether it’s your everyday consumer or a business owner, the criteria for making a purchase is the same.

You don’t need complicated sales strategies or an elaborate FAQ. All you have to do is answer the two questions everyone asks before making a purchase.

1. What is it?

Nobody is going to buy from you if they don’t clearly understand what it is you’re offering. Implied in this question is also “How does it help me?” and “What does it do?”

If you’re selling basic consumer goods, this question will often be glossed over, because consumers can see and immediately understand the items in front of them. For every other business, you need to explain yourself.

Brands who provide a simple and clear answer to this question will win buyers. If you’re not entirely sure how to answer “what is it,” follow this basic outline.

the-office-making-a-purchase-questions

Be short. You shouldn’t have to use more than three sentences. Just provide a statement for these three points:

  • What you are
  • How you help
  • Why you’re better than the competition

This is what buyers need to know before making a purchase. When they ask “what is it,” they’re looking for responses to these three points. Here’s an example.

“Text Request is an online software that uses text conversations to increase business revenue and create better customer experiences. It’s simple, cost-efficient, and only takes a few seconds to get started.”

  • What you are –> An online software
  • How you help –> increase revenue, create better customer experiences through text
  • Why you’re better –> Easier and more cost-efficient

Quickly share what it is you are and do with prospects. This will improve your customer buying journey.

2. How much?

This one is even more simple than the first! People want to know how much something costs before making a purchase. Duh. This question is also very easy to answer.

If people can candidly see your pricing options, including shipping, installment, additional users, and any other potential fees, they’re going to be more likely to purchase from you.

Making a Purchase Cost Plan

About 70% of the customer buying journey takes place before they contact you. People don’t want to start a conversation for something as simple as finding out the price.

Showing people your prices beforehand also makes it easier for non-decision-making employees to share your products and services with their superiors. Because those employees know the two questions their bosses will ask before making a purchase are: What is it? and How much?

Bringing It Together

Gaining new customers doesn’t have to be difficult. In fact, the simpler you can make it for everyone, the better off you’ll be. There’s always a way to make it easier.

Every person asks the same two questions before making a purchase. What is it? How much does it cost? Answer these questions quickly and obviously, and your business will see an increase in purchases.

11 Amazingly Terrible Customer Service Experiences

Amazingly Terrible Customer Service Experiences

Customer service experiences are the bread and butter of dinner conversations. They’re so memorable!

When they’re great, we tell others. When they’re bad, we tell others with fervor! Here are 11 amazingly terrible customer service experiences so cringe-worthy you’ll be glad they didn’t happen to you! Take note, brands. Don’t ever let one of these stories be about you.

1. “I don’t understand”

comcast amazingly terrible customer service experiences
PC: The Comic News

You can always trust Comcast for amazingly terrible customer service experiences, like this one from Elaine B.

I was trying to get some information from Comcast about my bill, but couldn’t understand the different groupings of channels, which had no explanation, just names like ‘Extended Package.’ [The representative] couldn’t explain it, and kept getting the same channels in different groupings. I said, very politely, “I don’t understand your explanation, is there someone else who can explain it to me so I will understand it.” She replied: “You’re stupid.” Then she hung up.

[Source]

2. “Nails are only for pretty girls”

nails-pretty-girls-customer-service-experiences

If Reddit is good for anything, it’s bringing to light the worst of humanity. Here’s proof shared by user ChaosMind55.

I was looking around a new little shop that opened up in the mall. I was just looking at the stuff when a couple came in and started to look around, too. An employee went over and said: “Nails are only for pretty girls.” The girlfriend of the couple had fake nails on and just got told she didn’t look good in them in the rudest way ever.

[Source]

3. “A free Bloody Mary”

bloody-mary-customer-service-experiences

Nearly every restaurant says customer service is their #1 priority. Clearly that isn’t checked very often!

After spilling a tray of two Bloody Marys on my white dress shirt, the crying server returned (after I changed my shirt) to apologize and deliver a free Bloody Mary … which she then spilled on my fresh white dress shirt.

[Source]

4. “I knew you wouldn’t buy”

gasp-retailers-customer-service-experiences

Assumptions can be helpful, but usually end with everyone getting hurt, as confirmed by this horrendous shopping experience and reported by The Telegraph.

It all started on Monday, when bride-to-be Keira O’Neill, with bridesmaids in tow, tried on a pink wedding dress in their store. The shop assistant tried a hard sell and when he failed to secure the sale, he apparently suggested to size-12 Keira that ‘with your figure I really think you should buy it.’ As the wedding contingent left, he truculently declared: ‘I knew you girls were a joke the minute you walked in.’
The incident, unsurprisingly, resulted in a perfectly polite but indignant email from Keira to the company. The response from Gasp was, well, breathtaking. There was no hint of an apology; instead, a series of arrogant defences of the company and the ‘superstar’ shop assistant who apparently is ‘too good at what he does… and doesn’t like his time being wasted.’

On the bright side, it seems that all Gasp locations have since shut down. Apparently treating (potential) customers like filth is a poor business move. Go figure!

[Source]

5. “Daughter Killed in Car Crash”

daughter-car-crash-customer-service-experiences

As if it’s not enough to lose a child in a horrific accident, Office Max took insensitivity to a whole new level by mailing this letter to the deceased’s father.

[The letter] says ‘Mike Seay, Daughter Killed In Car Crash, or Current Business…’ This is my home. Why would they have that kind of information? Why would they need that? … The [call center] manager told us ‘That can’t happen.’ Later that day, Office Max released a statement that the information came from a third party provider, and seemed to be an ‘inadvertent error.’

[Source]

6. “Why can’t you just get the receipts”

dillards-customer-service-experiences
PC: CDI Contractors

Losing a loved one and sorting out their affairs is awful. When the Dillard’s cashier gets snippy about it, it’s even worse, as reported by AOL reader KRSRSS3.

When I was 18, my mother died of lung cancer. She had clothes that she had purchased during her illness that she had never even taken the tags off to wear. My father asked me to return the clothes to Dillard’s … I did not have the receipts … [The cashier] was very rude in the way that she was asking me, ‘Why can’t you just get the receipts from your mom to get the credit?’ I then told her that she had just died and she proceeded to look into my face and say, ‘Well, you don’t look too sad about it.

7. “You didn’t need it”

hosting_party_customer_service_experiences

Hosting a mega-party is stressful. It’s downright terrible when you’re dealing with scum, just like what happened here with Lisa R.

I was hosting a party for 150 people and needed catering prices 7 weeks prior to the party to review bids, select a caterer, or determine another venue. I had a drop-dead due date and explained that. When I contacted the caterer for prices because they hadn’t contacted me by the morning of the due date, my main contact was on vacation and left no information. I was fuming. Obviously, they did not get my business. When I finally reached the caterer to determine how they could have made such an error, he said “I decided you didn’t need it by your due date.”

[Source]

8. “Nice act”

diabetic_shock_customer_service_experiences

Why do people instinctively think everyone’s trying to cheat and steal? Here’s another case of assumptions gone wrong in a very memorable way.

One of our friends from out of town has type 1 diabetes. While we stood there waiting for a table, his hands began to shake. It looked like he was going into diabetic shock, which can be prevented by a quick infusion of sugar, from, say, a glass of orange juice… So one of us frantically asked one of the servers behind the bar for a glass of orange juice. Our friend is diabetic, she told him, and needs some orange juice ASAP. The server looked at our friend’s shaking hands, looked at her, and said: “Nice act.” …Our friend went into shock. He shook uncontrollably and collapsed on the floor. We called an ambulance. The paramedics came, took him outside and helped him get his blood sugar level back to normal.

[Source]

9. “Your call is important to us”

It’s a fact of life that Comcast is the worst, earning them two spots on our list of amazingly terrible customer service experiences. And yet, when you try to get rid of them, they won’t let you! Maybe that’s why Aaron Spain was placed on hold for 3 1/2 hours until their service department closed.

I refused to hang up as I wasn’t going to give them any reason to keep my service active. There would be no ‘well you did hang up before we could get to you’ nonsense. I had been attempting to get a service technician out from Aug 21st through August 5th [sic?]. I’d had 3-4 service calls scheduled, all of them no calls no shows, and no reason as to why they can’t get the service done. At this point I was trying to cancel service. I was transferred to the “retention” department at 7:17pm. I’m uploading this video at 10:19pm.

[Source]

10. “We pity the groom”

restaurant-customer-service-experiences

The problem with restaurants is that it only takes one rogue server to dismantle the establishment. A group of girls went in to create one of the happiest memories of their lives, and instead walked out with the exact opposite. Here’s coverage from The Telegraph and Oddee.

Melissa Grogan-Morgan celebrated her upcoming nuptials at 47 King Street West in Manchester city with a group of 17 friends and family. Although they enjoyed the food, the party was left dissatisfied with the level of customer service they’d received from staff, and took to Facebook to complain about the poor service. The one-star review prompted a scathing response from an unnamed member of staff who called the group ‘ugly,’ ‘cheap chav trash,’ ‘the worst, most vile people to ever grace our restaurant,’ and added, ‘we pity the groom.’

[Source]

11. “I’m a busy person”

citibank-customer-service-experiences
PC: Fickle Finance

Hearing scripts is deplorable, because you usually know it’s a script, and that the person “helping” you couldn’t care less about your situation. Citibank shows us just how miserable these situations can be, as told by Kate Nasser.

There was a charge on my Citibank Mastercard from a vendor who renewed my $400 membership without asking me. I spoke with the vendor and he agreed to send a credit into the credit card company for the charge. Since the credit card bill was due in 15 days, I called the credit card company to ensure that I wouldn’t have to pay $400 up front only to have it credited back later. The rep who answered the phone went into his long drawn out scripted answer. I asked to speak with a supervisor and after waiting on hold, the supervisor started another scripted answer. I said, ‘I am a busy person and I just need a simple direct answer instead of the script.’ He replied: ‘I am sorry you called when you were busy. We are open 24 hours a day.

[Source]

Bringing It All Together

How each member of your brand treats customers and potential customers is paramount! The one thing people remember, and the one thing they tend to vocalize most, is how they’re treated.

How simple did you make things? How polite were you? Did you go out of your way to make the situation better? These are the questions people ask during all of their customer service experiences.

What’s worse, almost 80% of consumers are frustrated with their customer service options! After all, who wants to wait on hold for half an hour (or more) before they can talk to anyone?

An astounding 82% of consumers passionately want another customer service option! They want something that’s quicker, easier. Something that’s generally more convenient and results in better customer service experiences.

Consumers want the option to text with your brand. There’s no waiting on hold, conversations can be instantaneous or over time to easily fit the consumer’s schedule.

By nature, every conversation is permanently recorded. And consumers generally prefer and do everything else through their smartphones already! It’s a win-win and a no-brainer. Learn more about how texting can improve your customer service experiences at textrequest.com.

13 Stupid Excuses Decision Makers Give to Blow Off Sales Calls (& How to Respond)

Stupid Excuses Decision Makers Give Blow Off Sales Calls

Sales people get a bad rap just for doing their jobs. Our economy is built on sales, and yet decision makers respond to sales people like they’re scum. How rude is that? The following are 13 stupid excuses decision makers give to blow off sales calls.

While often absurd and insulting, there are ways to bulldoze over these excuses and become a voice of reason.

1. “I’m not interested.”

You don’t even know what there is to be or to not be interested in! What kind of a person obnoxiously lies to your face like that?

Besides, you’re obviously interested in what the person on the other end has to say, because you answered the call! If you’re not interested, spare both of us by not answering.

There are several ways to combat this excuse. You could go with the quick reply of “Why not?” While they’re stammering to find a non-existent explanation, you can slip in the rest of your elevator pitch.

Example: “Why not?… You know, the average ROI for someone in your industry using [our service] is about 250%.”

Another common rebuttal is to use the Jones Effect. To say that so-and-so down the street went through the same thing, and now it’s a staple of their workday. If you can use a competitor’s name, your chances of success go up.

Example: “I can certainly understand and appreciate that. [Client X] said the same thing, and now they’re using [our service] in [ways A, B, and C]. They love it! Are you saying you’re not interested in improving these [numbers/areas]?”

There will always be a jerk or two on your call list, but responses like these will improve your chances with everyone else.

2. “We already use [your competitor].”

Oh no! I’m sorry for your poor life choices! At least you understand the benefit of this concept. Now let me show you a better, probably cheaper, way to do that same thing.

This kind of excuse is a pro and a con. It’s a con, because that person likely doesn’t want to switch products, which, admittedly, can be a very arduous process.

It’s a pro, because the person already values what you offer. If you know your competitors well, you should be able to highlight your strengths and their flaws. You have options in your approach.

You could be snarky. Example: “Oh, so you’re probably looking for an upgrade, then?” Worst case is you’ve offended them. Best case is that they now think there’s an entire world they’re missing out on. They’re hooked.

You could go the conversion route. Example: “I certainly understand and appreciate that. [Client X] and [Client Y] used them, too, but they liked [our service] better because [reasons A, B, and C].” Then let silence work its magic.

You could also take the ancillary benefit approach. Example: “I’m glad you see the value! Most people actually use [our service] as a compliment to what they’re already doing, because we focus on things like [A, B, and C], which [Competitor] doesn’t.”

If they have a need or desire for any of those ancillary benefits, this should get your foot in the door.

If someone’s already using a competitor, you need to politely show that possibly arrogant DM that they don’t actually know everything. Explaining (simply) how you provide more or better benefits is key.

Globo Gym Better Than You

3. “Just send me some information.”

“Add me to your email marketing campaigns,” you say? “Make sure I never miss an update,” you say? I think we can handle that.

We can make sure you get all the information you could possibly want (and we will), but why not at least let us know what kind of information to send you? We know we’re going to have to follow up in a week anyway. Why not help us both out?

In fact, that can be a great response. Example: “I would love to send you some information! What would you be looking for? Where are you currently trying to grow?”

If you’re speaking with a decent human being, this will start to open up a rich conversation.

Josh Whedon Give People What They Need

4. “Call me in 6 months.”

Do you mean call you in 6 months when your competitors using our service are crushing you, and you’re finally desperate for ideas? Or just never?

Seriously, what do you think is going to be different in 6 months? Unless you’re birthing a child next week or moving to a different company, your schedule isn’t going to look much different. What gives?

Depending on context, the prospect might mean they don’t have enough time to worry about something, or that the timing isn’t right for them at the moment. These take different approaches.

Example: “This could be perfect for you, then, because the point of [our service] is to save you a lot of time and earn you more money.”

What you’re telling them is that if they don’t have enough time in their schedule, they desperately need your service. Or, in other words, your service helps them reach their goal of getting their time back.

There is a chance that something legitimate within the prospect’s company makes now a bad time to implement, but more often than not the excuse shows a lack of interest.

In this case, you can incorporate the fear of missing out (FOMO). Example: “I can understand and appreciate that. What happens when I call back and you’re already 6 months behind?”

Another option to take is to plan ahead. Example: “Great! So it’s on your timeline, then? Let’s go ahead and work out a plan so all you have to do is flip a switch when the time comes.”

“Call me in 6 months” is almost always an illegitimate excuse to get you off the phone. So flip it on them.

5. “It costs too much.”

Have you ever heard of an ROI? Have you even looked at our pricing? Why would anyone get our service if it was just going to be a financial burden? Do you see how your story is full of holes?

You hear it said all the time: Price is only ever an issue in the absence of value. That’s true! But it doesn’t make it any less infuriating when someone lies to you. This warrants a few potential responses.

You can take the snarky road, and directly challenge their statement. Example: “Do you know how much it costs?” While they’re stumbling for a response, you can hit them with the lower-than-expected price. Example: “We’re talking [25] bucks.”

Then there are more serious ways to handle this excuse, such as by sharing more of your service’s value, maybe even by using a quick case study.

Example: “I can understand and appreciate that. [Client X] said the same thing, but then they used [our service] and increased their [revenue] by [XX%], which *slight chuckle* obviously more than covered the cost.”

Prospects need to understand the value, and that they’re going to get back whatever they put in, plus a good bit more.

6. “I don’t have time.”

Yeah, because four minutes is such a drain on your Facebook scrolling session.

Our conversation will probably take less time than you spend in the bathroom, and you’re telling me that you have no margins in which to slip this conversation for the foreseeable future? Unbelievable.

If you can get the prospect to take even one step, however small, you will significantly improve your chances of them eventually converting.

Example: “I can understand and appreciate that. Do you know what we do? Why don’t we go over [our service] really quickly, and see if it even makes sense for us to talk later.”

Another way you could phrase it, if you’re feeling bold is like this. “I can understand that. Give me literally 30 seconds, and if you’re not interested you can hang up on me.” Then make sure your pitch is less than 30 seconds.

If it is actually a terrible moment, offer two time options to narrow all possibilities down to choosing A or B. Example: “I can understand and appreciate that. Would Monday at 11:30am or Tuesday at 2:45pm work better for you?”

When someone’s trying to blow you off, get them to say a few more words. The more they invest in the conversation, the more likely they are to keep hanging on.

Ain't Nobody Got Time for That

7. “You should talk to So-and-So.”

So what you’re telling me is that you’re the Director of Department-That-Directly-Applies-to-Our-Service, and you don’t make any of the decisions? Right. How do I get a job like that? Sounds pretty sweet.

In confusing situations like this, it helps to break things down.

Example: “Oh okay. Can you help me understand something really quickly? You’re [this position], right? Is [So-and-So] more in charge of the daily operations of things, or how does that work exactly?”

If they were just trying to blow you off, they’ll talk themselves into a pickle. If they’re being legitimate with you, you’ll now get a better understanding of their operation.

Spongebob Squarepants Man Ray Wallet

8. “That doesn’t apply to us.”

Then why am I calling?

So you’re telling me that this thing we built specifically for people in your position in your industry is totally irrelevant? Yeah, that makes sense. Thankfully, this one has a simple solution.

Politely challenge their statement. Example: “Why not?”

You should know enough about what you offer and the industry you’re in to find ways your prospect could use it. All you need to do is ask an open-ended question to get them started talking.

Don’t interrupt. Let them talk. Maybe even take notes during the conversation.

When they’re done, gently share where your [products/services] could in fact apply. Don’t try to prove them wrong, just show them another way.

9. “I don’t want to have to do anything else.”

How lazy. I bet your business isn’t even growing!

Of course integration is ideal. If you can do every possible task from a single dashboard, everyone would be happy. But occasionally it’s worth taking a few extra steps to get that added value.

That’s what you have to convey – that the value is far greater than any potential “inconvenience.”

Just about anything can integrate with anything else these days. If they value what you’re offering enough, they can make the integration happen. Usually it’s more an issue of seeing the value, so check them on that.

Example: “If I’m hearing you correctly, you see how [our service] would benefit you, but you think it would be inconvenient to get used to. Would that inconvenience outweigh the value gained? Do you think that would be worth sacrificing [benefits A, B, and C]?”

Get them feeling that their own objection was rather, well, silly, and then the two of you can have a real conversation.

If You Want Something You've Never Had

10. “We’d need this feature.”

Yes, because our quickly growing business filled with industry experts completely missed what our targets need! Seems reasonable.

Sometimes excuses like this are just prospects thinking out loud. It’s not so much an objection as a meaningless complaint. You might be able to get away with just ignoring it, or you might need to instead highlight the other pros of your service.

Help the prospect understand the larger picture. Example: “I can understand and appreciate that. It seems like a rather small detail compared to [benefits A, B, and C]. Would [benefits A, B, and C] be valuable to you?”

Another option you can take is to simply ask “Why?” As they share more about their business and strategy, you have more room to show them the value of your product.

11. “You’re just trying to sell me.”

Obviously. But what would be the point of trying to sell something that offered no value? Of course I’m trying to hit goals and earn commissions and all of that stuff. But I wouldn’t be calling if I couldn’t help you!

You need to help the prospect understand that you’re not selling some worthless piece of junk.

Example: “I’m not asking you to give me anything. I’m asking you to invest in your own business.” Turning the conversation around to be all about the prospect’s goals is a great step towards getting the sell.

Severus Snape Obviously

12. “We’ve had a bad experience with that kind of product before.”

I’ve had a bad experience with my dog defecating on the floor. That doesn’t mean I’m putting it down, or that I’ll never have a pet again! How is one bad experience with a product or service justification for never using anything like it again?

Married people fight and stay together. People keep drinking after getting a hangover. Not every marketing campaign works, but you’ll try another. Not every employee is good, but you’ll hire another!

The prospect needs to understand the same concept here.

You could be snarky with them. Example: “Not every advertisement you’ve done was a home run. Did you stop advertising?” Something like this would definitely catch them off guard and make them think, but it might be a little blunt.

You can also say the same thing a little softer. Example: “I can understand and appreciate that. Have you ever tried marketing again after a bad campaign? … What’s the difference here?”

New Girl Cece You Got Hurt

13. “I’ll get back to you.”

No. You won’t. We both know you’re going to forget all about this for months until you finally (maybe) realize you really need what we offer. There’s a few ways to approach this.

You could be blunt. Example: “If you’re never going to say ‘yes,’ I’d rather you tell me now. You won’t hurt my feelings.” This will keep you from wasting your time. The prospect might even appreciate your candor.

You could reinforce the value. Example: “It seems like I didn’t explain the value well enough. Why don’t you think this is worth doing?” The more a prospect explains their thoughts and feelings, the more the ball is in your court.

You could also make sure they get all the right information.

Example: “I can understand and appreciate that. Most people like to have some information on file to help their decision-making. I’ll send you a couple of relevant case studies. What else would you like?”

This gives you a great opportunity to open up email as a line of communication, and your marketing materials may even be able to persuade them.

HIMYM Hooked Carrie Underwood

Bringing it All Together

Sales calls are a necessary part of most any growing operation. That doesn’t make them any more fun, or make prospects any less infuriating.

The language given above will help you, but you could often bypass those conversations entirely. It’s far more effective to text with prospects for many of these conversations, so much so that you’ll question whether you should ever call a sales lead again!

Mobile Mary: A Complete Guide for Marketing to Millennials

Mobile Mary Complete Guide Millennial Buyer

Millennials have taken over the consumer marketplace. But so many businesses struggle to get Millennials on board! This guide will show you how to approach marketing to Millennials.

What Are We Doing Here?

You can’t know how to appropriately sell your products and services until you know who it is that’s interested in what you’ve got, and how they interact with the world around them.

As the leading trend of the decade, you need to understand where mobile fits into this picture. It’s no longer an argument of if mobile should be included in buyer personas.

Consumers regularly turn to their mobile devices during the buying journey. These consumers grew up with technology! They’re roughly 20-40 years old, and have a mobile-first approach to the world.

The question for brands is how does mobile fit into the daily behaviors and buying patterns of your targets?

In this complete guide to the Millennial Buyer, we’ll walk through a day in the life of Mobile Mary, our sample persona of an average Millennial Buyer. Then we’ll explain some of the bigger trends depicted.

It will be best practice for you to take the information presented here, and create a buyer persona that specifically fits your business and market. Let’s get started.

Who Is Mobile Mary?

Mobile Mary Millennial Buyer Persona CardMobile Mary is 32 years old. She’s married to David, and together they have a 2-year-old son named Tommy.

Mary is an account executive for a local firm, and (thankfully) finds a lot of joy and fulfillment in her work. She’s devoted to her family, but her largest goal is currently to become a partner in her firm. She’s driven to succeed.

Mary and David are both heavily involved in their careers, so they take turns running errands and taking care of Tommy.

Mary loves to shop local, but she prefers to find the best deal, wherever that might be. She enjoys quiet time with David, and the occasional girls night out.

A Day in the Life of the Millennial Buyer (Mobile Mary)

Waking Up

Mobile Mary wakes up to her phone’s alarm at 5:30am. She hits snooze. 5 minutes later it goes off again. She grabs her phone, rolls over, and starts checking notifications on Facebook, Instagram, and everywhere else.

A Vanity Fair article on the election grabs her attention. She clicks, and quickly skims the article. Then she rolls back over, and gets up to start her day.

Mobile Mary heads out to the gym, pulls up her Fitbit app, and starts logging her workout. She prefers to listen to podcasts while she exercises. When the latest Ted Talk segment finishes she heads back to the house.

Mobile Mary walks through the door around 6:45am, as Tommy and David are finishing up breakfast. It’s David’s turn to take Tommy to daycare.

A hug and a kiss later, they’re out the door. Mary turns on the Nora Jones radio station on her Pandora app, and gets ready for work.

She stops by the local Jitterbug Coffee Co. on her way into the office, sees a mug she’d like to buy, and pulls out her smartphone to check if she can find it cheaper online.

Arriving at work, Mobile Mary catches her firm’s partners for a quick “good morning” as they walk out of their weekly 7:00am meeting. She starts up her computer, and pulls out her phone to check email.

Mobile Mary Millennial Buyer Checking Email

Morning

Mobile Mary flies into her day’s to-do list, which involves several email replies, phone calls, and account reviews. At 9:00 she has her first meeting, a three-way call between her and an account’s two locations.

After the call, she sends a recap email, then quickly preps herself for a 10:30 meeting a few blocks down the street.

She stops by the bathroom on her way out, taking extra time to breeze through Facebook and check various notifications.

Walking down the street checking texts and emails, Mobile Mary catches someone waving at her. Instinctively, she waves back, only to realize the stranger was waving at someone behind her.

She’s embarrassed, but can’t help laughing at herself. She texts one her coworkers to share the story. They keep texting back-and-forth and decide to grab lunch together after her meeting.

As Mary waits in the lobby for her appointment, she finds an Entrepreneur article on LinkedIn that piques her interest.

Once the meeting starts, Mary’s client decides he wants to try a new idea. Mary texts her assistant to create a quick mock-up.

A few minutes later, the mock-up is in Mary’s Dropbox, which she opens on her phone. Thankful, Mary texts her assistant to join them for lunch – Mary’s treat.

Afternoon

During lunch, Mary pulls out her phone to show pictures of what crazy antics Tommy got into over the weekend. She notes a book recommendation from her assistant in her Goodreads app. The three of them also take a photo together to share on Instagram.

Back at the office, Mobile Mary grabs a cup of coffee and turns on her Spotify app to hear Blink-182’s new album.

A couple of hours later, the only pressing thing on her to-do list is a bunch of follow-up calls to potential accounts. She takes a quick email and Facebook break, then moves into an open conference room where she can more easily pace while on the phone.

One of her calls leaves her on hold for what feels like an eternity, so she starts browsing Pinterest for ideas and inspiration to spiff up Tommy’s room. She finally makes it through her last unanswered call, and leaves a text with the prospect.

Mobile Mary Millennial Buyer Brainstorm Meeting

Evening

At 4:00, Mobile Mary and team have a brainstorming meeting. Mary pulls out her OneNote app where she keeps all her ideas, and shortly after 5:00 everyone walks out of the meeting happy.

Mary wraps up her day, forwards David a Tasty recipe she wants to try, and checks Waze before hitting the road to pick up Tommy.

Mobile Mary and Tommy come home to find David in the kitchen, phone out, following the recipe Mary sent him.

Mary and David both spend a couple of hours after dinner playing with Tommy and reading to him before putting him down to sleep.

Both take some time to veg out, scrolling through various apps and articles on their phones. They turn on Netflix to watch a couple episodes of FRIENDS, and grab a couple books to read in bed.

Mary chooses Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo!, and falls asleep thinking of everything she wants to get done tomorrow.

What’s Going on in This Story?

How Much Does the Millennial Buyer Use Her Phone?

Throughout her day, Mobile Mary turns to her smartphone 25 distinct times, starting with her alarm, and uses it for 20 different reasons. Her phone is literally the first conscious interaction she has in her day.

Notice that many of the times she turns to her phone she’s doing multiple things, like checking Facebook and Instagram and reading an article, or texting and checking email.

For the Millennial Buyer, mobile usage is a constant throughout the day, and uses are chunked together. (Tweet this!)

If your brand is advertising to Millennials, interpret this as a need to be in multiple places at once. If someone sees your promo email and then sees your Facebook ad, they’re much more likely to engage with and buy from you than if you were only in one place.

Another big picture concept portrayed is how often people check their phones. Mobile Mary had 25 distinct moments where she was on her phone for several minutes each.

The average smartphone owner (your average Millennial Buyer) checks their phone 150 times a day. Often it’s a quick check for the time or to see if there are any new notifications. (Tweet this!)

As a brand, this gives you 150 opportunities a day to be there, in front of your target. Is it through a text? An email? A Facebook comment? An Instagram ad? All of the above?

Millennials check their phones at a nearly alarming rate. It’s part of the technology lifestyle, and it opens your brand up to a mountain of opportunity. You just need to be one of those notifications they check for.

How Does Mobile Fit in the Buying Journey?

Think With Google Mobile Buyer Journey

When Mobile Mary is in line at the coffee shop, she pulls out her phone to see if she can find a better price on that mug.

This is a very common scenario – looking up products and pricing on a phone while in a physical store. 82% of smartphone users pull out their phones while inside stores to look up product reviews and compare prices. That’s incredible! (Tweet this!)

A key in selling physical product used to be to get the customer holding the product. If it’s in their hands, they’re sold. That isn’t the case anymore.

The current state of things means competition is insane, and brands who rely on physical stores need a strategy to help them out.

Perhaps it’s geo-targeted coupons, or a top-of-the-line mobile website, or a heavy investment in SEO. Maybe it’s online texting and picture messaging for questions, reviews, and recommendations.

Maybe it’s best to keep less of each item stocked to lower your own costs. You’ve got to do something!

How Does This Mobile Dependence Thing Work?

There’s plenty more that could be elaborated on, but one last thing you need to take away from our Millennial Buyer case study is how reliant people are on their phones. Mobile dependence isn’t a bad thing!

People have always been dependent on technology for one thing or another. Cars for transportation. Radio and TV for news and information, etc.

Today, people’s jobs and lives are stored in their phones. Pictures of the kids, notes for work, emails, friendships and connections, entertainment, Google, personal and career data. It’s all there in the palm of consumers’ hands!

Mobile usage and dependence continues to grow. The more your brand tailors itself to the mobile dependent Millennial Buyer, the faster you’ll grow and the better off you’ll be!

Summarizing the Millennial Buyer

Millennials are roughly those between 20-40y.o. They’ve grown up in the technology age, and mobile devices have steadily become more and more integrated into their daily routines.

The average American checks their phone 150 times a day, and uses it for a slough of reasons, from shopping to work to entertainment.

Brands can’t afford to silently watch this trend go by. Month after month, the Millennial Buyer turns to mobile for more and more. You either have to catch this wave now or risk falling far, far behind.

Each brand’s targets will be different from the next, and you should use this guide to help you craft your own Millennial Buyer persona. You need to be able to define who your targets are, and how they approach every facet of their world. Then you’ll succeed.

5 Principles to Build a Lean, Scalable SaaS Marketing Strategy [Podcast]

Principles Build Scalable SaaS Marketing Strategy

You want big time SaaS marketing success, but you don’t have a big time budget. What do you do?

In this Chattanooga Business RadioX segment, Kenneth Burke of Text Request teams up with Jeremy Boudinet of Ambition to discuss 5 principles to build a lean, scalable SaaS marketing strategy.

Two marketing directors. Two software-as-a-service startups. Way too much coffee, and a ton of helpful nuggets that apply to any digital marketing strategy. Click below to listen, or keep scrolling for the highlights.

1. Create happy, thriving customers to use as your foundation.

You have to build solid relationships with customers. Customer reviews, testimonials, case studies, white papers – these are crucial for boosting your marketing strategy and you overall business!

“I’m basically boys with most of our customers. That’s how much we’re talking with them well after they purchase.” – Jeremy Boudinet

To find success on a large scale, you have to first create it on the individual level. ~80% of a SaaS company’s customers (pre-$100k MRR) will be from referrals. You’ve got to create these thriving, happy customers who will bring others to you.

You’ve got to let them teach you how to build your product, and how to sell it. That’s how you start to build a lean, scalable SaaS marketing program that works.

2. Align marketing with sales.

Marketing is basically Sales’ wing man. One sets up the other for success.

Have You Met Ted SaaS Marketing Sales

Another way to look at it is that Sales and Marketing should be married to each other. Two become one and grow in unison.

The customer life cycle is just that – a cyle. Marketing hands off to sales who hands off to customer success, then marketing and product development use that information to get more leads and more customers, ad infinitum.

When every “department” in your startup is sending the same, coherent message throughout the cycle, you’ll begin to see a scalable SaaS marketing strategy emerge.

3. Create EPIC content that you’re proud to share.

“It’s not enough to just create content. If you’re going to create a blog post, make it a freakin’ epic blog post.” – Jeremy Boudinet

Something like 200,000 pieces of content are uploaded to the internet every minute of every day. Most all of that content is mediocre at best. You need to create content that distinguishes you from that mediocrity!

Create content that you’re proud to share. Content that you would want to look back on and reference. Epic content is crucial for a scalable SaaS marketing strategy.

4. There are so many free and cheap tools out there. Use them.

You can’t do everything all by yourself. There’s so much out there ready to help you!

Maybe it’s a pop-up to capture leads. Maybe it’s a content sharing widget, or a screen sharing service.

Whatever it is, you can probably find a free or cheap tool to help you. Bit.ly is good for creating short links. SumoMe is good for a suite of things. Hootsuite for social media. Exit Monitor for email subscriptions.

Whatever you need is available. You just need to figure out what it is you need, and then go find it.

Lean Scalable SaaS Marketing Strategy Apps

5. Get interactive and collaborative.

“Some of the best content is that which gets other brands and people involved.” – Jeremy Boudinet

Jeremy and Ambition have done “March SaaSness”  in place of March Madness. They hosted a bracket-style tournament for SaaS companies competing against each other for the most votes to find out who’s #1.

It worked phenomenally! So well that they did it a second year. About half of the brands got heavily involved in promoting tournament for Ambition, and traffic skyrocketed!

We (Text Request) have done crowd sourced “experts’ tips” pieces to get others sharing our content, following the same premise. That’s worked well, too. Basically, those who collaborate win.