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Vapor Guys

In 2009, I had an eCommerce business called Vapor Guys (electronic cigarettes and related accessories). Most of the marketing for the business was web based, and the business was profitable inside of 3 months.

There are two things to keep in mind regarding our audience at the time. First, I knew that I could leverage sales from impulse buyers given the nature of the industry. The other thing to keep in mind is that there are consumable items that are sold in addition to the e-cigarette that users need to re-order such as e-liquid, atomizers, and batteries.

A Brief Overview of the Site Design

I designed the website in a way that was completely different than any of our competitor’s sites. I made sure that page real estate, especially for the index page, was laid out in a way that would encourage specific behavior. The same techniques that brick and mortar stores used to set up their displays (such as at a grocery store checkout), were used to ensure that impulse buyers had easy access to products and promotions that would entice a sale at that time or in the near future.

Two Ways that I Created Urgency & On-line Sales

Time Sensitive Marketing
My first goal was to get traffic to the site as often and efficiently as possible. To achieve this, I frequented a number of message boards and social networks where I answered a lot of questions for new and existing e-cigarette users. In the process of answering questions, I would also provide specific time sensitive coupon codes for tracking purposes.

In addition to using coupon codes, I also encouraged the users I interacted with to subscribe to our RSS feeds, which I used specifically for rolling out special offers. Depending on what we wanted to accomplish, the offer might only be for the next three hours, that day(s), or a future date.

Inventory Tickers Rock!
Once the prospective buyer arrived at our site, and more specifically the product page, they were able to see our inventory &#8212 in real time! If they were on the verge of running out of supplies, displaying a low inventory was just enough to encourage them to buy at that point.

The aforementioned techniques have been overly simplified for the purpose of this article, but that is the gist of what I did to convert my on-line marketing efforts to sales. There were a number of other follow up techniques used either at the point of sale or after the sale to create incentives and motivate both another visit and purchase, but I’ll discuss that in a future post!

3 Tips to Improving Customer Relations on Twitter

While customers will still make a phone call or send an email when they have an issue or need support, they are utilizing social media more and more to address their needs. How does this shift in behavior impact your business? Well, it impacts it in several ways.

First, you have to take into consideration that if they are using social media to communicate with you, you can make an educated guess that they may be doing so for one the following reasons:

  • It’s more convenient.
  • They may expect a quicker response.
  • They are upset and want others to know it.

It is very important to realize that with this shift in behavior, should also come a greater urgency on your part to be responsive. This means staying on top of your social media channels to potentially address issues that could impact your business/brand negatively.

A recent article published on business.com highlights 3 ways to improve your customer service on Twitter:

  1. Better Listening
    Social listening is crucial when you’re looking at customer service. According to Conversocial, 37% of tweets mentioning retailers are customer service related. Yet, only 3% of users use an @mention. This means your business needs to monitor the network more closely than just by your username and handle.
  2. Increased Response Rate
    Managing the negative impact of a disgruntled customer can be crucial on networks such as Twitter. While not every brand mention may solicit a response, your business should aim for a high response rate. The average response rate to customer service mentions, according to Simply Measured, was 42% with the best response rate for an account being 75%, though getting above 60% is considered high.
  3. Faster Response Time
    Without the right resources, the response time can suffer. With an average of just over 5 hours, customers are left waiting for a response. On a fast-paced and ever-changing network such as Twitter, a slow response time may not be meeting the expectations of customers and causing your service to suffer. According to The Social Habit, 42% of social media users expect to receive a customer support response within the hour, but only 10% of dedicated customer service accounts have an average response time of less than an hour.

You can read this article in its entirety here.

While this article was geared towards Twitter, this practice shouldn’t be limited to it. It’s important to closely monitor every social network that you have a presence on.

This also means that you should carefully consider which social networks will benefit you most before registering for them. The last thing that you want to do is frivolously register for every popular social media channel you can think of without taking into consideration the management aspects. One of the most valuable tips to take with you, is that you’ll want to ensure that you have the resources available to stay on top of your business on social media. If you don’t, it can really have a negative impact on your business.

Marketers, Have No Fear — Your Leads Are Not Wasted!

An article on HubSpot really resonated with me as I’ve been on both sides of this coin. If you’re a marketer that is frustrated with your sales team, then here’s some good insight for you to consider.

So you’ve spent a ton of time and energy building the sales funnel for your sales reps, but they are not closing the deals. Don’t be discouraged!

Assuming that you have done a good job with Leads Management and you have a nice flow of qualified leads, all hope is not lost. The main reasons that your sales team are not working your leads are:

  1. They do not see the leads as being high quality.
  2. They are being overwhelmed with leads and can’t work them all.

In the event that sales is on target with determining which leads are low quality, kudos to them! If this is the case, they are maximizing their efforts on leads that have the best chances of closing.

If the issue turns out to be the fact that they simply can’t keep up with all the in-bound generated leads, then kudos to you! Do not stop what you are doing!

5 valid points on lead generation that you should take into consideration:

  1. Your sales team will be working leads that they feel are the strongest. Providing them with enough options gives them more room to pick and choose the leads they think are the best to close.
  2. If your sales team is working hard to close deals, but they’re coming up short, then chances are they are not identifying the high quality leads. Step up and help them identify the strong leads and don’t get fixated solely on the number of leads you’re generating!
  3. Ensure the leads that you are sending are ready for the sales team. Do your due dilligence to nurture the lead until it is qualified and ready to be sent to sales.
  4. Keep building the funnel, regardless if the leads are ready for sales or not. What’s not good for February may be great for April! Nurture the lead!
  5. When you are consistently generating leads, you are more engaged with your audience and they are talking about you. This is a good thing!

You can read the article in it’s entirety here.

Measure Social Media ROI with Ease

How can we see ROI within our social media marketing campaigns? Well, it’s actually very simple! In a recent article on Mashable, Todd Wasserman explains the 5 Dead Simple Ways to Track Social Media ROI:

1. Coupons and Offers

If you offer a coupon solely on Facebook, then you know with 100% accuracy that every coupon that customers cash came from Facebook.

2. Call Tracking Phone Numbers

Relatedly, another idea is to provide unique call tracking phone numbers on social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook to learn which channel drives the most leads and conversions.

3. Conversion Measurement

Conversion Measurement lets advertisers track the behavior of people who click through an ad. If a customer clicks and then goes on your site to register, then you have proof that the ad was at least effective for that.

4. Google Analytics

This won’t tell you what people are buying, but at least you can see if traffic is coming from Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to your website.

5. Look at Overall Results and Then Work Backwards

Perhaps the simplest way to calculate ROI is to look at your overall sales and then attribute a boost at least in part to your social media advertising or activity.

Don’t Forget Landing Pages!

While these are all great points, I would also add that landing pages are a great way to measure social media ROI. In the same way that you can use unique coupons and offers for each social media site, you can very easily set up unique landing pages that correspond to a specific social media site. Additionally, these techniques not only apply to social media, but they can and should also be applied to more traditional forms of advertising such as Print and Radio.

Write a Perfect 15-Second Sales Pitch

Forbes contributor, Carmine Gallo, explains how he writes the perfect 15-second sales pitch. He explains that by creating a “Message Map”, which is a visual representation of your brand or product, you can define the most important aspects of your message and fine tune it to a well formed 15-second “elevator” pitch.

In his article, How to Pitch Anything in 15 Seconds, Gallo explains that there are 3 steps to creating a message map:

  1. Create a Twitter-friendly headline.
  2. Support the headline with three key benefits.
  3. Reinforce the three benefits with stories, statistics, and examples.

Watch his video below for details on how to do this for any product or brand: