Many small firms pour all their marketing time and resources into maintaining social media accounts in order to interact with customers and strengthen their online reach.
But, in order to fully ensure customer satisfaction, it’s important not to neglect social media’s predecessor, email.
Email is still a vital tool for businesses that want to communicate with their customers. As popular as social media has become, the use of email isn’t faltering, and the number of email accounts is expected to increase from over 3.9 billion in 2013 to over 4.9 billion by the end of 2017.
While it may appear that consumers head straight to social media when they’re dissatisfied with a product or service, 42% of people use email as their most common channel for making a complaint.
However, as this infographic shows, businesses are not always equipped to deal with the number of emails that enter their inboxes. Although 41% of consumers expect an email response within six hours, only 36% of retailers respond this quickly. And 59% of businesses take more than eight hours to reply; while one in four take 24 hours or more.
Copyright © 2015 numero is a UK customer service software provider.
The world seems to be obsessed with selfies. But is your brand maximising the benefits of this trend?
Many marketers look down on the selfie, seeing it as a teen trend, one that promotes narcissism and shameless self-promotion.
But on Instagram there are over 53 million photos tagged simply with the hashtag #selfie. Selfies are also trending on Twitter and Facebook.
To stay current in this fast-moving, saturated marketplace, brands need to take notice of trends. So why are so many brands are still ignoring the selfie? It may be vain but selfies can be used by brands as a marketing tool.
The selfie has been used to raise awareness for social good. The #nomakeupselfie campaign that took social media by storm last year is a good example. This campaign encouraged girls to take make-up free photos, post them online and then donate money to charity. It raised over £8 million for Cancer Research UK. The fact that Cancer Research did not come up with the campaign shows just how powerful the seflie is for engaging with an online audience.
For business of all kinds, the selfie is a fantastic way for brands to show a human side. Encouraging customers to post selfies with a brand-related hashtag also gives your business free marketing. What could be more powerful than hundreds of social media users posting images with your product or making use of your #brand?
Brands have reported huge benefits from including the selfie in their marketing strategy. Axe Deodorant, for example, ran a selfie campaign to coincide with Valentine’s Day, asking users to post images of themselves alongside the hashtag #kissforpeace. This generated more than 10,000 tweets with similar results on Instagram.
And who can forget Ellen DeGeneres famous celebrity-packed Oscar selfie? It became the most tweeted picture of all time, with over 33 million retweets. Some say the fact that this was taken on a Samsung mobile was a brilliant marketing idea from the company, although Samsung claims it was unplanned.
It’s clear that selfies can generate a huge amount of brand warmth. Asking customers to endorse your products and services through a selfie is much more credible than simply blowing your own trumpet online.
Businesses are actively trying to get user-generated recommendations and build social proof; the selfie could be a critical part of this.
Copyright © 2015 Emma Pauw, social media writer at We Talk Social.
Never ask a candidate for your sales team how they should be rewarded. Here’s what you’ll get: “a highly competitive salary” (read, £200K per year) “a fast company car” (so they can get to that important meeting on time), “a realistic expense account” (where “realistic” is a euphemism for “unlimited”) and “very long holidays” (they work really hard and need their recovery time).
This little excursion into cloud cuckoo-land is finally garnished with: “an uncapped commission scheme”. They argue that results should bring proper rewards – so what if it bankrupts the company at the same time?
This is, of course, meaningless drivel, guaranteed to give you an ulcer and a hernia simultaneously. Anyone who sits in front of you and seriously suggests you should pay them £200K per year plus fringe benefits needs their head examined (possibly by your steel-tipped boot). You’re an SME, you can’t afford ludicrous packages. Plus you don’t need to pay them commission.
I can hear the red felt-tips of hate being unleashed as I write this. Surely salespeople need to earn a proper living? Surely the sales force needs to be motivated?
Of course they do, but in Maslow’s famous “Hierarchy of Needs”, money is way down the list. In a small company, with its tribal atmosphere, anyone who tells you they’re only working for the money needs advice on moving to somewhere more boring and stable, like a building society. Working in an SME provides the key things at the top of Maslow’s list: peer respect and making a difference.
What salespeople really want (but usually won’t tell you) is “an easy life”. The perfect company has a nice bunch of people who are a joy to work with, not too much hassle (like checking up exactly where they are every 10 minutes), and a product or service that’s easy to sell to nice people, who enjoy a decent lunch now and then.
Salespeople should be rewarded for success, but not some ludicrous commission scheme that means they get three times as much as the delivery people who actually do the hard work. Our model is to put everyone on the same scheme. First, pay a slightly above market rate salary, so you can attract the best people. Then, give out bonuses based on two factors: how the company’s performed, and how the individual has performed.
The first is the most important – if times are hard, it’s belt-tightening all round, even if you’re working 14-hour days. Company performance should be presented openly at the monthly company meeting, so this element should not be a surprise at bonus time.
Personal performance can be hard to measure for administrators and delivery people, but not for salespeople. Discuss and agree sales targets at the beginning of the process, and measure the salesperson’s performance on a weekly basis.
It’s important to explain that if a salesperson beats their sales target, this is usually increased for the next quarter; it’s the way of things. Also, if you don’t hit your sales target you get formally warned, and then fired, sometimes over the course of only a couple of quarters. That might seem a little unfair, since it’s a lot more difficult to get fired from delivery or admin or finance. But that’s just the way sales is.
So only hire salespeople who enjoy selling, who like your customers and aren’t too greedy. High-commission salespeople get desperate and will tell any damn lie or stick a knife into their workmates’ back if they think it might help them hit target.
Copyright © Mike Southon 2015. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission in writing. Mike Southon is the co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur and a business speaker.
It’s no wonder that businesses are confused about which social media sites to use – they are growing and proliferating all the time.
Real Business Rescue has pulled together all the latest statistics about social media use in this excellent infographic, providing an enlightening look at how brands are operating in the social sphere in 2015.
Want to know which sites are trending? Where you should concentrate your efforts? What other businesses are doing online? It’s all here along with useful data on that tricky social media issue — return on investment (ROI).
Thanks to Keith Tully at Real Business Rescue for sharing this with us.
Copyright © 2015 Real Business Rescue
Social media listening is a fundamental tool for any business owner — even if you’re not currently active on all social media sites.
The days of suggestion boxes and comment cards are long gone. Social media is now the first place people turn to praise or criticise a brand. For consumers, it has become the quickest and easiest way to directly contact a brand and get a problem sorted. So it is vital that your business is listening to these comments.
Listening on social media is about monitoring posts and conversations that refer to your brand, product, service or even competitor, in order to aggregate the data and find out what people really think about your business.
There are several platforms that can help you monitor social media, such as Meltwater Buzz, but there’s nothing to stop you from monitoring social mentions yourself.
Social listening must come first in any social media strategy. Once you have gained a sense of your reputation online, you can then engage based upon you customer needs. Knowing what people are saying about your brand allows for more proactive and reactive posting.
If you don’t want to invest in social media listening tools, setting up social media profiles and lurking online is just as effective. Using Twitter to search for your brand name will bring up all the tweets that mention your business and will allow you to gain a sense of how you’re faring online. It also allows you to check up on your competitors and see how their brand mentions compare.
Copyright © 2015 Emma Pauw, social media writer at We Talk Social.
Many small businesses I speak to are worried about using social media. It’s understandable; after all, social media puts you and your company in the public spotlight and there’s always the risk that you may get negative online reviews as well as positive comments.
Indeed, that’s usually the biggest concern – what if a customer complains and leaves a negative review? Their comments are out there in public, posted, shared, re-tweeted. Everyone can see them!
But think of this – you may well have had disgruntled customers in the past but you just weren’t aware of them. Now look at the role of social media from a different angle – if someone leaves a negative comment on Twitter or Facebook (and they will!), you have a valuable opportunity to address the issue.
This enables you to take a two-pronged attack – damage limitation by resolving the problem and turning the situation around by converting a complainer into a brand advocate.
Remember that social media also gives you a platform on which to publicly demonstrate that you care about your customers. Many people prefer to deal with complaints offline. The trouble with that is that your sincere apology and the way you resolve the issue won’t be in the public domain. However, if you do it online you are being completely transparent and you may just call a halt to droves of similar complaints being posted.
Make someone happy and there’s every chance that they will relay the good news to others, turning a complaint into positive PR and building some good brand awareness at the same time.