Increase Email Open Rates and Engagement

August 27th, 2015 By Brinda Lee

Increase Email

Do you stress out about sending emails to your customers? I know a lot of our clients have. It’s hard to find an appropriate amount of contact. And then getting anyone to pay attention when you finally send something is even harder! Don’t despair. A good long look at some awesome studies, and at your own customers, will give you a solid base to begin your email marketing efforts.

Let’s start by looking at open rates. While marketing email open rates vary from company to company, in the service industry it hovers around 22%. That’s not terrible. But I think you can do better.

Here’s how:

Create Amazing Subject Lines

Why is the subject line of an email so important? Well, 33% of emails are opened based solely on the subject line. Wow. Spending time to ensure your subject line accurately conveys the message you want suddenly becomes more compelling.

What makes a subject line amazing? It might not be what you think. MailChimp compared the best performing subject lines with the worst and found some interesting information. Straightforward and incredibly clear subject lines win the day. If the subject line is too clever, or sounds like marketing material, it doesn’t perform well. It may even be marked as spam. Customers want to know, at a glance, the reason you are sending an email.

Other stats to remember, courtesy of Sidekick’s slideshare:

  • 30 or fewer characters in the subject line lead to higher open rates
  • 40% of emails are opened on mobile first – where subject lines only display 4-7 words
  • A sense of urgency or exclusivity in subject lines can increase open rates up to 22%
Remember to make your email subject lines mobile ready.

Remember to make your email subject lines mobile ready.

Use Personalization

Don’t stop after creating a beautiful, clean, and clear subject line. Add your customer’s name. If you personalize the subject line, your email is 22.2% more likely to be opened. If sending one personalized email at a time sounds daunting (it sure does to me!), use an email messaging service. Personalization tokens and automated tasks will make your life a lot easier and your customers happier.

Even putting personalization just in the body of your email improves click through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%. All customers want to feel important. Personalizing your emails lets your customers know that you care about them. Still not convinced? Look at how much personalization did for Coca-Cola!

Provide Value

You’ve set the perfect expectation with your subject line. Now it’s time to deliver. Make sure that the content you provide matches your customer’s desires. If they signed up for newsletters, make sure they aren’t only receiving coupons. If they joined a discount club, don’t send them daily newsletters. Make sure your content matches your customer’s needs.

Test Everything

Ultimately, you shouldn’t take any study or blog post’s word as absolute. Every customer base differs, and yours might respond to something entirely different. You should know your customers. Go with your gut, and then create some A/B email testing. Do these best practices work for you? Or do your customers like something else? Find out what will increase email open rates for you. 

Final Encouragement:

Don’t be afraid to let go of bad leads. What does this mean? It means that if you follow all these best practices and still get unsubscribes, respect their wishes. Learn to let go. Trust in the value of your content, and understand that those people may have been a bad fit. That way, when someone comes back, you know you can provide exactly what they need.

Need a bit of help with your repeat customer marketing and customer communications? Check out our integrated and targeted campaigns.

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5 Essential Elements of Better Social Media Engagement

August 25th, 2015 By Jasmine Reynolds

social media engagement

Storytelling is the Key to Great Social Media

You want to know what I love most about social media? You can talk directly with your own audience.  A while ago, I tweeted how much I was enjoying reading a book on the history of video games. The author of the book saw my post and gave me a shoutout! That was not just a man managing his brand reputation. That was a writer who valued his readers.

So where does storytelling come in to play here? Social media is meant to connect us with each other. And there’s no more powerful way to do that than through telling a good story. In other words, you have to have valuable content. That content has to connect with people and make them new or repeat customers of yours. It can be a challenge to maintain a Twitter or Facebook page that sells but entertains at the same time.

Brands have come up with many ingenious ways to tell their story through social media. But here are five common elements that can help you increase social media engagement.

Remember, this is about your brand and your story. Tailor your content to your company’s brand story to achieve sustainable social media engagement.

1. High-Quality Photos

If you want people to engage more with your posts, you have to entice them with high-quality photographs. Something to also keep in mind is that photos get shared more than any other kind of post. There are many sites that collect and manage photography that’s available for commercial use like Unsplash. Also, there are free, easy-to-use editing tools like Canva online (which also has its own library of free images). You should also think about investing in a decent camera to take photos of work done, office or store events, and conferences that can contribute to your brand story.

canva-social-media-engagement

Use editing tools like Canva to create unique post headers and titles for your accounts.

 

2. Reach Out

You should expect a handful of your customers to reach out to you via your social media accounts for customer service requests. Why not be proactive and encourage them to do so? Even if most of your customers will email or call you, making yourself available online will make you appear more responsive to customer needs.

Major brands like JetBlue are an example of excellent responsiveness to customer needs. Research shows 30% of brands with a Twitter profile even have a separate handle for customer support.

The easiest way to let customers know you are available via these platforms is to consistently post and connect all platforms with share and like buttons or widgets on your webpage.

3. Shared interests

Your customers will appreciate exclusive deals for being a Twitter follower, but they’ll also appreciate knowing what else you’re involved in outside of work. Knowing your customer-base and their interests is extremely valuable for making social media content more engaging. Your brand story should feel relatable and well-rounded with something other than industry knowledge.

rosetta-stone-social-media-engagement

Screenshot originally from this post on Social Media Examiner with additional ideas on how to improve your engagement on Facebook.

The content you choose to share should open up a relevant conversation with your customers like the one above from Rosetta Stone.

4. Showcase employees

There’s very few better ways to feel close to a business than knowing the employees. Showcase the service, talents, and personalities of your staff. Not only will your followers feel personally acquainted with your company but your employees will feel valued as well. Your brand story should include the people who have worked to make it what it is today.

showcase-employees-social-media-engagement

Screenshot originally from this post on Social Media Examiner with additional tips on how to improve your engagement on Instagram.

Beaucoup Bakery regularly showcases their customers through their Instagram account.

5. Company Events & Community Engagement

Getting involved in your community and holding events at the workplace obviously go beyond just making great Facebook albums. Regardless, people love to see the background of a company they do business with. Some of our most popular blog and Facebook posts have been about our company events and outings.

customer-lobby-community-social-media-engagement

We regularly share photos from our company outings and events on our blog and through our social media platforms.

Tell Your Story

Whether you’re just starting out or revamping your efforts, these example posts above are common elements found in engaging social media accounts. Feel free to experiment, be creative, and have fun! This is about your story and how you want to tell it.

Here are some more resources to get you thinking about the kind of content to share:

101 Blog Post Ideas That Will Make Your Blog “HOT” – Yes, these are blog post ideas but many of them work for great social media posts like running contests or a post based on motivational quotes.

Social Media Examiner: Your Guide to the Social Media Jungle – I would honestly recommend bookmarking this site as a resource. The amount of information, valuable information, they have is overwhelming so I’ve linked their “Getting Started” page.

Clean Up Your Mess: A Guide to Visual Design for Everyone – A rundown of some basic graphic principles if you plan to create your own graphics. Also lists additional resources if you really want to become a pro at it.

Subscribe to our blog to continue to get more tips and resources on how to fully optimize your social media marketing.

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Maximize Email Capture: When and How to Ask for Email Addresses

August 18th, 2015 By Brinda Lee

5 Tips to Maximize Email Capture

Do you have a hard time getting emails from your customers? If you are anything like the majority of service businesses, you have emails from less than 30% of your customer base. That’s not great. And all of us know the importance of email. After all, it remains most people’s preferred mode of communication. If you still have a clipboard at the register with a slow growing list of customer emails, you may want to switch it up.

How can you increase your percentage of email capture? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Use a form

If you already have customers filling out paperwork, simply include email addresses as a necessary line. While some people might still skip it, you will probably be pleasantly surprised by how many people will willingly fill it in.

2. Ask directly after service

If you don’t have any paperwork that a customer needs to fill out, and are nervous about simply asking for an email address upfront, try asking directly after service. You’ve done a great job. You and your customer have established rapport. It will be much easier at this point to ask for an email. The trick to this one? Make it personal. Don’t simply show them the form. Ask directly and fill it out yourself.  

3. Ask during the job

This one works well if you have a long service/sales cycle. After establishing a connection with your customer, offer email as an alternative method of communication. Many people are busy with work, and may not always want to answer phone calls. Giving them the option to switch to email shows that you respect their time and can be flexible. Not only does this increase your email capture, it delights your customers and sets the tone for your continued communication.   

4. Start a discount club

People love discounts. Let customers know you offer deals through email, and invite them to join the club. Not only does this provide value to your customers, it makes them feel special. To do this successfully you must follow up and provide real value.

5. Give a compelling reason

Whatever method of email capture you choose to use, the most important aspect of getting customer email addresses is to provide a compelling reason for asking. Communicate with your customer. Set appropriate expectations. Let them know how you will be using their email, and why you want it.

Conclusion:

Try a few of these methods. Combine them in new ways, and invent your own. Be creative. The most important aspect of asking for emails is to be authentic. Make sure you provide value. Be honest with what you are going to do with it. And get rid of your register clipboard.  

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3 Common Mistakes to Avoid on Social Media

August 14th, 2015 By Jasmine Reynolds

mistakes-social-media

A social media presence has become almost as common as a social security number. If you don’t have one, it’s assumed you don’t exist. Most companies understand this and have created profiles on social media sites to represent their brand.

But it doesn’t stop there.

Facebook and Twitter are not directories. They’re entities to share the story of your brand. Below are three common mistakes to avoid while maintaining your social media presence.

Not Updating Enough

There is no golden rule for how much to post on any medium. It takes experimenting with different times and frequencies to see how it affects engagement. But posting once a week on any medium is rarely enough.

Twitter is short-form and fast-paced. You’ll want to post the most frequently here to stay ahead. For Facebook and Linkedin, things are bit slower and your post has more longevity than a tweet. It’s key to strike when your audience is most likely to be logged in.

twitter-facebook-linkedin-post

Note: This is a broad industry standard. Tailor to your own needs.

The people at Buffer compiled research done on optimal posting frequencies. It should be noted that the numbers they have refer to a broad industry standard that does not reflect the particularities of the service industry. I still recommend more than one post a week for any medium. But certainly do not feel like you have to post 30 or even 5 times times a day.

Not Engaging Enough

Customers love a deal. Offering exclusive sales for your Facebook fans is a great way to expand your audience. But you need to post more than that. Nothing makes me unfollow a brand faster than seeing nothing but “20% off this” and “15% off that”. Content should be informative and entertaining not just advertising.

The following are brands that have found creative ways to use their company profiles. Agilent Technologies, a B2B company, uses Facebook to show who uses their products and highlight their employees. They do this using high quality, creative, branded images. On LinkedIn, American Airlines has engaged their audience with a well-developed company profile. They have a beautiful banner and hold contests with their audience.

Next week, we’ll go over content strategy. These examples should get you thinking about what you want your social media engagement to look like. Social Media Examiner is a great resource for knowing more about how to use social media for brand awareness.

Not Enough Personality

This should be the easiest part–be yourself! You are representing a brand but use your own voice. Be real with customers, and they’ll want to engage with you. Your Facebook page shouldn’t come off as an obvious ploy to capture leads. It should feel like there’s an actual person behind the Twitter avatar.

Conclusion: Use Social Media to Connect

There are many applications and websites offering to automate this process for you. But you can’t leave it all to a machine.

The intent of social media is to connect with others. People see advertisements everywhere they go. Offer your followers informative and entertaining content. Give them content they’ll want to share to their friends. You will see Facebook and Twitter become lead generation tools for you.

It just requires you to be patient, vigilant, and, most of all, yourself.

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The Importance of Long-Tail Keywords for Local Search

August 11th, 2015 By Brinda Lee

Long-Tail Keywords

Are you frustrated with your online traffic? When you do keyword searches, do you rank on the 3rd or 4th page of Google? Are you stuck, feeling you’ve done everything right but don’t see any results? Maybe you’re optimizing for the wrong keywords.

Short-tail vs. Long-tail Keywords

Keywords fall into two categories: short and long-tail. Large category searches, such as ‘air conditioning’ or ‘house cleaning’ fall under short-tail keywords. These types of searches bring back thousands of results. As a small local business, it’s unlikely that you will be able to rank highly against e-commerce giants. Even something like ‘car mechanic’ is a short-tail keyword.

Long-tail keywords focus on specific and narrow searches. ‘Quick Volvo stereo replacement Petaluma CA’ is an example of a long-tail keyword. ‘Summer HVAC service installation time frame’ would be another. These keywords are targeted towards specific, niche goods, services, or questions.

As you might have guessed already, it’s much easier to rank highly on search engines using long-tail keywords. Why? Well, because they are so specific that these long-tail keywords do not make sense for very many companies. It lessens the SEO competition.

Aim for long-tail keywords that fit your business best to lessen competition and target your ideal customers.

Aim for long-tail keywords that fit your business best to lessen competition and target your ideal customers.

You might think that optimizing for long-tail keywords will make it even harder for customers to find you. After all, aren’t customers going to just type in one or two words and go with whatever comes up? Not necessarily. Think of long-tail keywords as a question your customer wants answered.

Example Search

Let’s run through a scenario to illustrate how long-tail keywords help your customers find you:

I’m in the market for a carpet cleaner. I often have dogs and small children visit my house, so I want to make sure that anything used will be green and safe. Additionally, I live in Oakland and am convinced that there are tons of businesses in my area – so I also need one that’s close by. I want to find out 2 things:

  • what products I should expect a company to use
  • which companies near me use these products.

I won’t type in ‘Carpet Cleaning.’ That won’t give me all the information I need. I won’t even type in ‘Carpet Cleaning Oakland.’ It’s still too broad. Instead, I will most likely type in ‘Safe green carpet cleaning products Oakland.’

Sure enough, this pulls up a much more manageable list of companies that seem to fit my description. Additionally, it pulls up companies who have taken the time to answer my most pressing question – What products do an environmentally green and safe carpet cleaning company use during service.

Finding Your Best Long-tail Keywords

Worried about how to choose your long-tail keywords? Listen to your customers and the questions that they ask you. Reread your online reviews. Find the questions you know you can answer best for your customers. Start optimizing pages around them.

Forget trying to optimize for ‘HVAC repair.’ Given enough time, great content, and followers, that might happen organically. For now, think about your customer. What helpful information can you provide? What questions do you want to answer for them? Turn these questions into long-tail keywords, optimize, and answer them.

By targeting long-tail keywords your best-fit customers can find you easily.

By targeting long-tail keywords your best-fit customers can find you easily.

Not only will customers start to find you, they will be better fits for your company. After all, you provide exactly what they are looking for.  

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The Four Phases of the Consumer Decision Journey

August 6th, 2015 By Jasmine Reynolds

Consumer Decision Journey Blog Title

The Consumer Decision Journey

Your marketing efforts should start with a basic understanding of how customers shop. You can then target important phases to influence a customer’s purchasing decisions.

Published in June 2009, the McKinsey Quarterly introduced the consumer decision journey (CDJ). The CDJ maps out the process a customer goes through when shopping for products and services. Consumer behavior has changed and will continue to change over time.

Customers have a lot of choices and a lot of information at their fingertips. It’s important to know how to guide them to your door.

Consumer Decision Infographic 2

Consider

A customer begins with the companies they can think of off the top of their head. This includes any storefronts they’ve passed by, branded vehicles rolling through their neighborhood, postcards they’ve seen–any brand they’ve passively encountered.

Evaluate

This is the research stage, and it will most likely start online and on a mobile device. Customers will also reach out for information and recommendations from friends and online reviews.

Buy

Most customers wait until they’re in the store to buy anything. Sales interactions and pricing at this point are crucial.

Advocate

Customers will advocate your brand through social media and word-of-mouth after the sale. It will have a greater impact if you have a social media presence so that the communication goes two ways.

Target Your Marketing

The three phases where your marketing efforts will be most influential are Consider, Evaluate, and Advocate. Customers will not actually decide to purchase until they are already in your store so advertising won’t matter as much here.

When it comes to understanding where to begin in allocating your marketing budget, the five things to focus on are local search, direct mail, email marketing,  social media, and third-party reviews.

  • Optimizing local search will increase the appearance of your online properties, like your company website and social media profiles, during a customer’s online research process.
  • Direct mail coupled with email marketing will increase the reach of your brand across your local area. Direct mail is great at making past customers repeat customers. When they need your services again, they now have an email, postcard, or flier with how to reach you.
  • Customers will go to friends for recommendations and the internet for reviews. A testimonials page doesn’t have the same power as having a cache of third-party reviews across several directories. Consumers want to know that you had no influence on the reviews of your business.
  • Having a strong social media presence will give customers a direct way to communicate with you and voice their opinion about your business. Remember, both positive and negative feedback are marketing assets for you.

Each marketing channel has their own components and can take time to set up and maintain. Customer Lobby can help boost your local search ranking, collect, and manage online reviews. Our Campaigns mail program can also help keep your business top of mind with personalized messages to a targeted group of past customers. Click here to learn more.

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10 Things Customers Love About You

August 4th, 2015 By Brinda Lee

10 Things Customers Love about you

An entire team at Customer Lobby is dedicated to talking to the customers of our clients. What keeps your customers happy? Our team identified 10 traits that will make your business stand out.

[name of the team members who contributed the attribute in brackets]

1. Flexibility

[Karishma, Sandy, Bison]

This one is pretty straightforward. If a customer has a job, and you work really hard to figure out how to accommodate them on short notice, the customer remembers it. But what happens if you can’t see them? Offering workarounds, or helping the customer out before the service date, also demonstrates flexibility. And customers will love you for it.

2. Being on Time  

[Karishma, Jess]

Right in line with Flexibility, another big point for customers is prompt/timely service. “On time” is one of the most frequently quoted lines in positive reviews for service businesses. It really matters. If you give a customer a time, stick to it. If you can’t, for any reason, make sure you tell them.

3. Communication

[Caitlin, Gary]

As one team member put it, “Open doors make customers happy.” This applies both literally and figuratively. Do you give your customers clear expectations? Do you follow up with them right away, or perhaps check in before they even need service? This type of proactive and open communication makes customers feel amazing – because they understand what to expect from you. Keep your doors open, and give your customers a clear line of communication directly to you.

4. Education

[Bison]

Something our team hears a lot from excited customers is how grateful they are when a business takes the time to explain long-term maintenance. Or imparts tricks to make services/products last longer. The customer recognizes that you have more knowledge about this than they do, and they appreciate any tips you can provide. Bonus: this also makes the customer feel like they matter to you.

5. Showing the customer they matter

[Bison]

Every customer wants to know that they are important to you. A customer doesn’t automatically realize that you appreciate them. It must be demonstrated. As an example: customers love being introduced to the partner or owner of the business. If this happens, they will almost always mention it when talking to us. Why? It makes them feel like they matter.

6. Honesty

[Jess]

Make sure that you do what you say. If you quote something at $100, don’t charge $120. Customers remember. If there has to be a change in price or service, clearly outline the difference and then allow the customer time to make their own decision. If something goes wrong, communicate it openly! Honesty, even when it’s uncomfortable or hard, is what keeps customers coming back.

7. Going Above and Beyond

[Karishma]

Along with “on time,” “going above and beyond,” is probably the most often said phrase when a satisfied customer gives a positive review. Of course, this seems a little vague. What does “going above and beyond’ really mean? Examples are:

  • getting it done early
  • throwing in some type of freebie
  • thoroughly educating the customer
  • leaving it cleaner than you found it

However you decide to provide exceptional service to your customers, remember, make it feel special. They will recognize the extra effort.

8. Cleanliness

[Sara]

Do you wear boot covers when walking into clients’ homes? Do you clean up their car when you finish? If you do, we probably hear about it. Customer can’t always tell immediately if the large job you just did for them will work out the way they think it will. But they can be impressed by how neatly you left their house when you are done. Impress them. Be clean.

9. Friendliness

[Jordan, Gary]

This is a big one. And one that seems obvious. It’s very important. Customers watch not only how you treat them, but also how others around them are treated. How do you handle an irate customer? Your other calm customers are watching how you deal with it. The accumulation of everything they see about you decides how friendly they find your business. Make sure to stand out.

10. Building Relationship

[Jordan]

All 9 of the last points build up to the final aspect that keeps customers coming back to you: relationship. When you communicate with them in a friendly and open manner, keep your word, and treat them as though they matter to you, you have a loyal customer. Why? Because you have a great relationship with your customer. You know them, and they value that. This is the key, and what every business should strive for.

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Google+ is Not Dead: Google Makes Changes for the Better

July 30th, 2015 By Jasmine Reynolds

Google+ Is Not Dead

Google Makes Two Announcements

Google made a couple of announcements these past few days that you should know about. One is about moving Google+ in a new, better direction which will make your social media efforts more effective on the platform. Another concerns what customers see when they research your business (and it’s a good one).

Google+ Is Here to Stay

Google will detach Google+ from some of their products over the next few months. This means you will no longer need a Google+ account to become a user on sites like Youtube. Media outlets and blogs have announced this as the “death of Google+” but it doesn’t look that way. This will allow us to use more Google products without a public Google+ profile. It will, in effect, make Google+ “more focused, more useful, [and] more engaging”.

Google already centralizes their services under one Google account. Needing a public Google+ profile to comment on Youtube videos was cumbersome. From its implementation, it felt like a desperate grab for users. The change was to dissuade people from leaving abusive comments. With a real name and photo attached, it enforced accountability. I can tell you, from personal experience, it didn’t work.

Future of Google+

Google+ was in a confusing state. Was it a social media platform or a public front for your Google account? Instead of “killing Facebook“, it killed its own potential. Now that it stands as an independent platform again, it has another chance. This is a clear move that Google has a plan for the service.

Facebook Killer QuoteOriginal image: Jason Howie on Flikr

I hope they optimize Google+ into a new kind of social networking platform for mobile use. We don’t need a “Facebook killer”. We need a new way to interact with each other, consume media, and shop online. If Google+ can impact any one of those needs, it will succeed and achieve sustainability.

So don’t worry about those reviews you worked hard to collect through the platform. Google does not plan to kill Google+ no matter what the pundits say. Continue to use Google+ to connect to customers and gather feedback. If things go well, the network will increase and so will your reach on the platform.

Google Can Now Help You Avoid Long Lines

Case in point, Google used their own Google+ profile to announce a new feature. Customers can now see your business’s busiest times of the day when they search for you. It’s currently available only for mobile browsers like Safari and Chrome–not the Google app.

coffee2Feature demonstration from Google’s official Google+ page

Now you know the best time to stop at your local grocery store or pizza parlor to avoid the crowds.  AJ Ghergich proposes spying on competitors and running promotions during their slow periods. Other than cool espionage missions, this is useful information for businesses. Granted, you might already have more detailed tracking information of foot traffic. It’s still important to know what customers incorporate in their research.

Google and the Buyer’s Process

It’s important to know small updates like these to Google’s interface. 72% of customers begin their research of a business on Google so it’s important to know what they’ll see. So what else do customers do when researching a business? Next week, I will talk more about the buyer’s process. We’ll look at the “journey” a customer goes through in choosing a business for their services.

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5 Steps to Create High Performing Postcards

July 28th, 2015 By Brinda Lee

Transform Your Postcards (1)

Postcard Best Practices

You’ve decided to take the plunge and send out a Direct Mail campaign to your clients. That’s great! We know that Direct Mail increases customer engagement and brand recognition. But how do you optimize your postcards? Follow these steps, and you’ll be on the right track:

1. First Impression: Postcard Dimensions

Your customer will notice the size of your postcard before anything else, so use this to your advantage! Most business letters run about 4” by 9”, so choosing something a little larger makes your postcard pop. Avoid dimensions that would make it difficult to pick up out of, or put in, a standard mailbox.

At Customer Lobby we use 6” by 9”. This means that customers can easily pick up all their mail in one hand, as the length is the same, but those extra 2” give the postcard added visibility. It literally stands out from the crowd.

2. Survivability and Feel: Postcard Weight

The next sensory experience your customer will have with your postcard will be touch. Your postcard should feel nice, and this means the right weight and finish.

Weight, measured in points (pt), indicates the thickness of your postcard. As this great article by Sabine Lenz mentions, postcards should be at least 9pt to make it through the mailing process without damage. Remember, it has to survive our post office process and get to our customer’s door still looking great. The post office recommends 9pt but notes that thicker is better.

Not only does weight help survivability, it also feels better in the hand. The feel matters. You’re a serious business owner who values your customers. Communicate that with weight. Customer Lobby uses 12pt postcards for all our customer’s mail campaigns, and I would encourage you to do the same. With a higher chance of survival and a better feel, why not?

Our postcard after going through the U.S. Post Office. Shot by iPhone, no editing. It looks good!

Our postcard after going through the U.S. Post Office. Shot by iPhone, no editing. It looks good!

3. Memory Retention: Relevant Imagery

Everyone knows that the image matters. But do you know how much? Remember, people will remember information 55% more if the text includes an image. To make this work, your image needs to make sense with the information presented.

This also includes the finish you choose for your postcard. Generally you have four finishing options, listed from least shine to most shine:

  • Dull
  • Matte
  • Silk
  • Gloss

While I am sure there are places for each of these finishes, for business postcards I would suggest either silk or gloss. We use silk because not only does it have a nice shine, but it feels great (see point above about the importance of touch). Additionally, the front of our postcard has a UV finish that protects the image and gives it an added shine boost. However, gloss is totally acceptable and will also give a lovely finish.

Remember: use clear imagery and bold text to grab the customer’s attention right off the bat. You want your customer to turn the card over and read your offer. Make your postcard captivating.

4. Clear Information: Postcard Text

Now you have your customer’s attention. What are you going to do with it? Make sure they can easily digest whatever information you present. Use bullet points.

  • Bullet points are easy to read
  • They give the eyes a place to rest
  • And they look great!

Make sure to include whitespace. Don’t overwhelm your customer. Include necessities and stay relevant. Bonus: make it personalized! Make sure your content is perfect for each customer.

The back of our postcard after mailing. Plenty of whitespace, but great use of content and a clear call-to-action.

The back of our postcard after mailing. Plenty of whitespace, great use of content and a clear call-to-action.

5. The Next Step: Call-to-Action

Your customer has now traveled the postcard journey you have set out for them. What’s next? Give them a clear step on how they should follow up. This could be an offer, a discount, or simply a reminder to call you soon.

Whatever next step you go with, it should make sense with the rest of the postcard and for that specific customer. It should also be the most prominent point on your page. This is what you want your customers to do. Make it compelling. If they don’t understand your call-to-action, you are doing it wrong! With a great call-to-action, they will be able to easily follow up with you to take the next step.

Take Home Points

Engage your customer’s senses with a great postcard, and you will succeed. A great feel, with relevant imagery, compelling text, and a clear call-to-action will make your postcard stand out from the rest.

If you are a Customer Lobby customer, rest easy. Not only do we follow these postcard best practices, but by syncing with your accounting system we make sure to target your specific customers exactly when they need it, with a personalized offer they need.

Learn how we can help you with your repeat marketing here.

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3 Negative Reviews That Are Easy to Deal With

July 23rd, 2015 By Jasmine Reynolds

Negative-Feedback

It’s understandable to balk at a negative review and think you have a problem on your hands. We’ve written a lot on how to properly turn these bits of tough feedback into a marketing asset for your business. But how do you respond to a negative review that contains inaccuracies about the work referenced? Or to a one-word review that just says “SCAM”?

Prospective Customers and Negative Reviews

The key to understanding how these negative reviews actually impact your business requires an understanding of how people are actually reading them. Remember that most people do not read reviews from beginning to end. Instead, they will scan the review and look immediately at your response. So that 500-word essay about how poorly you cleaned someone’s carpet will not likely have the impact you think it will–if you know how to respond to it.

Below are some of the three most common negative reviews and how to properly deal with each one.

1. The “So Angry I Can’t Even Write Coherently” Review

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Drunk with rage, these reviews are often difficult to understand. Anyone who did not know the context of the situation wouldn’t even understand what in the world the reviewer is talking about. Yet, these are the negative reviews business owners seem to worry about the most. They’re afraid that the less than flattering comments, no matter their bizarre arrangement, will damage their online reputation.

Your Response:

Keep it short and simple. You don’t even need to address what they’re talking about. Why? Because even if these responses were for the review authors, which they aren’t, these particular review authors do not typically return to see if you’ve responded and will not likely take any offer to rectify the situation. Like a vengeful ghost put to rest, they can move on. And now, so can you.

2. The “Aspiring Paperback Thriller Writer” Review

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Often found on Yelp, these negative reviews are tales full of twists and turns and B-rate drama regarding just how awful their experience was. From the surly mechanic to the dead plant in the office, nothing was right. Naturally, you will want to respond with your own counter essay explaining why each detail was the way it was. Do not give in to that impulse.

Your Response:

Address the larger issue in no more than two sentences. Focus on assuring the reader, someone who is considering doing business with you, that this Real Housewives-level of drama will not happen to them. This response makes you appear level-headed and rational. Don’t match their literary prowess with your own.

3. The “Man of Few Words” Review

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These are probably the most infuriating because…what are you supposed to do with this? How do you use our response strategy to deal with a negative review with no information?

Your Response:

You don’t. Don’t even respond to it. This review is a good thing. Why? Because negative reviews make your reviews page look real. People are reading reviews looking for the bad ones, ones filled with typos, to assure that these reviews are, in fact, from real people. You are bound to get online reviews that give very little information on what it is that actually made them upset and that’s fine. Let these reviews be validation of the many positive reviews you collect and display.

Negative Reviews Aren’t A Problem

Not all negative reviews warrant worry or response. But remember, negative reviews are marketing collateral when managed properly. So give smart and engaging responses and you can convert more of those readers into actual customers of yours. Follow the Customer Lobby blog to stay informed of the best review management practices.

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